Why 'The O.C.' Had The Best New Year's Eve Scene Of All Time

All of this New Year’s Eve prep has me thinking back on all of the best NYE moments in television history — and, unsurprisingly, the one show I keep coming back to is The O.C. Every good fan worth their weight in California sun remembers the New Year's Eve episode of The O.C. , "The Countdown," because it also just happens to include best New Year’s moment in television history.

It happened during the first season, while fans were still getting to know Seth, Ryan, Marissa, and Summer. And a few short months into Ryan and Marissa’s relationship, the couple had their first dust up over the fact that Marissa says she loves Ryan the night before NYE, and he doesn’t say it back.

Uh oh. Trouble in California paradise, for sure.

But that’s where the magic of this amazing episode begins, because later, Marissa — heartbroken and desperate to be loved — runs into Oliver (her new friend who just so happens to be obsessed with her... long story) outside her therapist’s office and allows him to entice her to a NYE party without Ryan. Big mistake. She goes to the party without Ryan, and it looks like Ryan isn't going to go after her... until the last moment, minutes before midnight.

Cue the music. The song is "Dice" by Finley Quaye, and with lyrics like "Nothing can compare/ To when you roll the dice and swear your love's for me," it's perfect.

Just when it’s clear that Marissa isn’t into Oliver, Ryan shows up at Oliver's building, all out of breath and disheveled in garb that does not go with O.C.’s finest. His shirt is flying, his hair is a mess, but he looks determined. He runs up the stairs, checking his watch as he takes a break to catch his breath and looking like he’s already failed. The scene cuts back and forth between the two — Marissa looking miserable with Oliver and Ryan running desperately to make it to her on time, before the clock strikes midnight — and then the camera does something incredible: It transitions to total slo-mo.


Honestly, the slo-mo in this moment is enough to make this scene the best NYE scene of all time, but it gets even better than that. Because, just as Oliver starts counting down and moving in for the midnight kill — err, I mean kiss — Ryan bursts through the door. The camera slows, Marissa catches his eye, and the two meet in the middle of the room for the best kiss in The O.C.'s history. Confetti is falling, good music is playing, and their kiss goes on for what feels like forever.

And then, this is the clincher, Ryan pulls away and tells Marissa he loves her.

I die! I die every time I think about it because it perfectly encapsulates all the feelings everyone has every NYE: The hope, the sadness, the disappointment, and the romantic gesture everyone wishes for.

And for Ryan and Marissa, that romantic dream comes true, because, in response to Ryan’s “I love you,” Marissa pulls a fast one on him and responds with “Thank you."

It really is the most perfect NYE scene of all time: the drama, the suspense, the stakes, and the humor. It’s absolutely the best.

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Now if only NYE could be that perfect and romantic in real life. Sigh.

Image: Warner Bros. Television; Giphy