How 'The O.C.' Would Be Different If Ryan & Marissa Never Became A Couple

The O.C. ran from 2003 to 2007, and though it wasn't the first or last show to do so, it epitomized the "rich kids with too much time on their hands and not enough supervision" drama. When high school student Ryan Atwood — who didn't look a day under 25 — switched towns and found himself in the center of an elite California zip code, his past (Chino) and present (Southern California, a rich mysterious neighbor to fall in love with, Pooka shells...) collided. To this day, I think about Ryan and all the ways his life changed, could have changed, and might still be changing. One thing I like to reminisce on is what would have happened if Ryan and Marissa — the intended romantic crux of the show — never actually became a couple.

Marissa Cooper, of course, is the aforementioned rich and mysterious neighbor Ryan fell in love with. From the moment Ryan looked up at Marissa with his big, bad boy eyes and misplaced sideburns/choker, it was clear that these two were destined to be the O.C. couple. For many fans, that turned out to be Seth Cohen and Summer Roberts instead, but hey, Marissa and Ryan gave it a fair shot. Despite their height difference, they were great, but if you'd like to contemplate infinite O.C. parallel universes, think about what the show would have been like if Marissa and Ryan never got together.

1. Oliver Wouldn't Have Been A Thing

If there's one character fans of The O.C. can agree on, it's Oliver Trask and how awful he was. He was introduced in the middle of Season 1 as a rich, spoiled, mentally unstable scoundrel who was hell bent on coming between Ryan and Marissa. He also, at one point, basically tried to kill Ryan, and faked his own suicide. However, if Ryan and Marissa weren't a thing at this point, it's very possible that Oliver wouldn't have been either.

2. Ryan's Brother Wouldn't Have Been Shot

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At the end of Season 2, Marissa shot Ryan's brother, Trey, because he sexually assaulted her on the beach. It goes without saying that if Marissa and Ryan hadn't have gotten so close, she probably wouldn't have been introduced to Trey, and that would have been a good thing for all of us.

3. Seth And Summer Would Have Never Gotten Together

I know, right? But think about it: if Ryan and Marissa never got together, then it wouldn't be as likely that Summer would have had the opportunity to get to know Seth.

4. Ryan And Summer Would Have Totally Dated

They don't seem like a good pairing now that we know them, but come on. An early O.C. Summer Roberts would have absolutely fallen for the bad boy.

5. Ryan Would Have Dated Taylor Townsend Earlier On

Taylor Townsend wasn't introduced until Season 3, but, without the prospect of dating Marissa, it's likely Ryan would have noticed her earlier.

6. Alex and Marissa Could Have Been Endgame

Though it was a fleeting romance, the Marissa and Alex (played by a very blonde Olivia Wilde) romance story was one for the books. In a lot of ways the two were good for each other, and could have ended up together if Ryan was never in the picture.

7. Marissa And Volchek Wouldn't Have Gotten Together

No Ryan and Marissa = no Trey shooting = no Marissa at Newport Union High School = no Volchek.

8. There Would Be No Core Four

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Just imagine. *Shudders*

9. Marissa and Summer Wouldn't Have Been So Close

Without the bond that is the "core four", Marissa and Summer would have had less to relate on, and probably would have lost touch over the years.

10. Ryan And Seth Would Have Drifted Too

Controversial, considering the perceived strength of their bond, but possible. The two were able to hang out so much all the time because their girlfriends also happened to be best friends. It was a best case scenario situation.

11. Ryan Would Have Gone Straight To College

And not have taken a year off to "cage fight." (Still unclear about that.)

12. Johnny Harper Wouldn't Have Died

Again, no Ryan and Marissa = No Trey shooting = no Marissa at Newport Union High School = no Johnny Harper ultimately falling off a cliff.

13. Marissa Wouldn't Have Died

No offense to Ryan, but Marissa's life seemed to take a real downward turn once he showed up at the Cohens' house. It's not only possibly, but pretty likely, that if the two of them had never started a romance, a lot of events that ultimately lead to her death wouldn't have happened. See: the butterfly effect.

Though it might not have been the love story we all hoped for — or worked out that well in either party's interest —Ryan and Marissa's romance sure was the glue that held The O.C. together.

Images: Warner Bros. Television; Giphy (12)