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The Most Important “One Tree Hill” Debate: Why Nathan Is Better Than Lucas

About a month ago, I was just scrolling down Facebook when I saw a Buzzfeed test that caught my attention: These Six Questions Will Tell You If You’d Be With Lucas Or Nathan From OTH. I realized, then, that I really didn’t need to take the test. My heart has always belonged, and will always belong, to Nathan. Unpopular opinion, maybe, although everyone I know who has a working brain agrees that he is a much better catch than Lucas Scott.

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Let’s go back to the beginning. Lucas is the poor child who was abandoned by his father, Dan Scott and is now being raised by his kickass mom and uncle while acting as a tortured soul who plays basketball with other outcasts in the river court and wants to be a writer in the future. He’s best friends with “Tutor Girl” Haley James and has been in love with the dark and twisty Peyton Sawyer ever since he can remember – although she’s not aware of his existence at all. He’s the always relatable uncool kid.

Now picture Nathan. The son Dan Scott decided he wanted to be there for. Your typical super rich boy who has been raised as an only child by two parents who care more about themselves individually than the family in itself. Nathan was popular, the basketball team star that everyone wanted to be friends with. The cool kid. And, to be honest, (and I’m sure everyone will agree) a spoiled twat. At least, in the first season.

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I can see why Lucas Scott appeals to the majority of people. Although the show followed both Scott brothers, it was, undeniably, mainly about Lucas. A boy who works his ass off and is being raised by a single mom while his step-brother shamelessly ridiculed him in front of everyone else. And he was played by 00’s hottie par excellence, Chad Michael Murray, which helped his cause. You were supposed to side with poor old Luke. And I did, at the beginning. I wanted so badly to hug him and slap Nathan for making his life even more complicated.

At some point, though, I started becoming emotionally detached from Lucas. It all started very early on. I never have and will never hide the fact that my favorite character is sassy pants Brooke Davis (more on that some other day). I was over the moon when they started dating in the first season, even though when I watch it back now I realize she was too good both for him and with him. However, while she was falling deeply for Lucas, his mind and heart kept going back to Peyton, to the point that he cheated on Brooke with her both times they were together. Some people, Leyton shippers, may see the fact that he kept coming back to her as a romantic gesture, but let me tell you how I see it: he was a cheater. Brooke loved him with all she had, which was proven many times, yet he chose (because you can’t help what you feel but you can choose what you do about it) to break her trust over and over again. I do know Lucas is a fictional character, but I have never managed to forgive him for it.

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The thing is that after a few seasons, Nathan grew up. Our rich kid stopped being a bully and actually befriended his brother, at the same time that he started growing apart from his evil father. He married and moved in with Haley. He started providing for himself and his wife by working at a pretzel shop. They had a kid while they were graduating – and another one later on. Haley became a teacher, a musician, a record label co-owner; and he supported her every step of the way, no matter how hard. He became a famous basketball player in college, leading him and his family to a disastrous situation, which fortunately they were able to overcome. That’s the thing about Nathan’s by then well-established family: they were able to overcome anything life threw at them. Physical disabilities, psychotic nannies, false accusations, depression, family issues, even Chris Keller in the early days. There was nothing they couldn’t face. Nathan went from a spoiled young boy to a humble basketball player (even in the NBA!), a strong father, a loving husband and overall the man of your dreams.

In the meanwhile, Lucas was just… Lucas. I feel like time didn’t go by for him. After five seasons, he was still stuck between Peyton and Brooke. Deep down, it feels like everyone moved on with their lives except for him. Although I don’t particularly dislike her (must be the Hilarie Burton effect), I’m not the biggest fan of Peyton as a character, either; but Brooke did a lot of growing up, becoming an incredibly strong woman who ran a fashion empire. Lucas published one good book and was struggling to write another one. And even though there’s a four-year jump in season five and he was then dating his editor, he was still lusting over Peyton. So much so that he left his then-girlfriend at the altar. It was, basically, the adult version of what he’d done to Brooke back in high school. All of it while complaining about his life. Obviously. In true Lucas Scott fashion.

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I feel like I’d have to watch the first six seasons again to give you a detailed analysis of why I dislike Lucas Scott so much, but what I remember the most about him is an awful lot of complaining and always being the victim, even though he was the one mistreating his girlfriends (because he was in love with Peyton, okay, yeah, very romantic, well, also very douchey). Everyone moved forward and became successful and ambitious, each in their own way. Everyone grew up and became emotionally mature. Especially Nathan, who I feel is the one who evolved the most on the show. Lucas, on the other hand, irremediably fell behind. Being the “relatable uncool kid” stops working once you graduate. Being an adult who is just merely repeating the same mistakes as his teenage self and failing to become an emotionally mature man is not “relatable” – it’s just sad.

4 Comments

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  1. The other thing that sets them apart is the fact that Nathan was finally able to forgive Dan for killing Keith. Lucas was never able to do that; he even refused to come see Dan when he was dying. I get that Lucas and Dan’s relationship was really bad, but Nathan did not have a great relationship with Dan, either, and he was willing to forgive Dan for the sake of Jamie and Lydia. Those kids adored Dan, and Nathan and Haley chose the path of love to help them heal and forgive so their kids could have a relationship with their grandfather. This is something I will always love Nathan for.

    • Hello KK!

      I’m the one who wrote the article and was just rereading it (as you do) and came across this. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

      I agree with you. I feel like doing that, forgiving Dan (if not entirely, because that’s practically impossible -having killed his own uncle and constantly threatened and tried to hurt Deb back in the days-, at least enough to allow them all to move on), required a certain level of maturity on Nathan’s part that is just plain admirable. I don’t know if I woul’ve been able to do it myself, even. While I understand why it must’ve been harder for Lucas, as Keith was basically his father, it sort of reinforces the theory that Nathan ended up being just a more emotionally developed character. Being able to offer redemption signals maturity, growth, wisdom – as seen with that Brooke vs Xavier storyline in season 9, too. Something Lucas never really reached.

  2. Yes yes yes to this 1000x yes! You put it perfectly! Lucas never did grow up. And what makes it so annoying is that many leyton fans see his actions as “the end justifies the means” in their “true love”. That was the main reason I could never ship them in the first place because their relationship was made out of sneaking behind Brooke’s back. Ultimately both he and Peyton deserved each other.

  3. Although we see lucas helping nathan and trying to help him in life ,still he isn’t my fav .I mean he just comes and storms into nathan’s world ,talkes away his gf ,his position in team and he of course has a better family than nathan.I’ve always seen nathan very vulnerable.He’s soo pressurised by Dan since his childhood to keep up his game and nd moreover he has no one in his life with whom he can really share what he feels nd what he’s going through.I mean if Haley wasn’t there what would he do? Thank god he met Haley And we do know dat peyton’s going away leaves him saddened.In the other seasons also ,I feel soo bad for Nathan, for whatever he goes through in his life is so real and is somethimg we can all relate to,I’m glad he overcomes it all.Be it Haley’s going away on a tour leaving him soo lonely and almost devastated in Season 2..i mean dat really hurts me bcos haley choses her dreams over Nathan and Nathan always chose her over his dreams,him taking the wrong path by shaving points on the court,being hit on by several girls ,all the accusations and of course the paralysis he overcomes.I can only say that he makes us even more proud with every passing season and he always accepts the mistakes he makes and acknowledges them from front and always takes the wright path unlike his father Dan who tries his level best to misguide him.

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