I have very fond memories of watching The O.C. growing up, but Marissa Cooper was by far my least favourite character. (Cue Parks and Recreation‘s Jean Ralph singing The wooooooorst!) She was privileged, spoiled, attention-seeking, manipulative and inevitably toxic to anybody close to her. So no, her death did not strike a nerve or emotionally distress me. But I’m still pissed about her character being killed off, based on the impact it had on The O.C.‘s longevity (or lack there of). Here’s why Marissa Cooper’s death still bugs me to the bone, 10 years later.
Because it drained the show of its fun
In its prime, The O.C. provided escapism for myself and most other 13-year-old girls. Sure, there were affairs, attempted rapes, drug overdoses and other extremes–but there were also surfer boys, ï¬rst kisses, parties, shopping and other lighthearted ï¬ller content to ogle and live vicariously through. Marissa’s sudden death ruined all of that and resulted in the shit-show that took a somber turn for the worse, leaving no room for cheesy clips of Seth and Ryan happily biking down the pier at sunset.
Because she didn’t need to die
Mischa Barton (who plays Marissa, but if you didn’t know that, then why are you reading this in the ï¬rst place?) had already stated she wanted to leave the show. Marissa was literally in a car, on her way to the airport to leave town indeï¬nitely, when she died. Marissa Cooper simply could have been written out of the show. She could have left quietly and fans would have had a “good riddance” mentality and then Seth, Summer and Ryan could’ve swiftly moved on with their lives. But no, Josh Schwartz and co. had to include the most frivolous death ever. You don’t just kill off the show’s main character in the third season and expect fans to keep watching in the same way.
Because it destroyed character development
Marissa’s life in Newport Beach was really, really messed up. Her dad got caught committing fraud, her mom had an affair with her high school boyfriend, she was held hostage by Oliver, nearly raped by Trey”the list goes on and on. Plus, she nearly died of an overdose in Tijuana early on in the series. Leaving town was Marissa’s chance to ï¬nally get the fresh start she desperately needed. A huge focus leading up to this point was Marissa pushing through depression, tackling numerous near-death experiences and overcoming her back-to-back hardships. She overcame so, so many things and then just ended up dying at the last possible minute?! Killing Marissa off before she had a chance to redeem herself was a sloppy choice by the writers, and made three years of intricate character development pointless. Viewers like myself no longer had a chance to see Marissa make it out and suddenly became uninterested.
Because Ryan didn’t deserve it
Ryan moved in with the Cohens to get away from the crime and drama he was exposed to in Chino, but who did he meet right off the bat? The most toxic PYT in Newport. He risked everything whenever she was in trouble, because that’s the kind of good guy he was. A prime example is when lost his chances of getting into the Harbor School by leaving an exam to save Marissa from not having to go to rehab after her overdose”and this was way before they even started dating. Ryan got to be an architect eventually, but if it weren’t for Marissa he would’ve gotten there a lot more quickly. He probably would’ve spent the majority of his time in Newport focusing on his studies and playing video games with BFF Seth instead. When Marissa was killed, Ryan’s life downward spiraled because he was never able to get closure. He had to watch her die because she had put herself in yet another dangerous situation by dating mentally unstable Volchuk (to refresh your memory, the dude responsible for her death). He mourned by cage ï¬ghting and ended up with snotty Taylor Townsend, who’s cable knit sweaters are literally the bane of my existence.
TL, DR: Marissa should have just gotten to the airport safely and sent a postcard to Summer halfway through the next season instead.