The 11 Most Underrated 'O.C.' Characters

by Rachel Simon

Ask any fan who the greatest character on The O.C. was, and most of them will give you the exact same answer: Seth Cohen, hands down. For all four seasons of the FOX series, the geeky teenager was a fan favorite, thanks to his hilarious one-liners, his occasional sensitive side, and his obsessive love for bagels and take-out Chinese. And if, for whatever reason, the number one pick wasn't Seth, chances are that it would be Summer Roberts, or Sandy Cohen, or even the show's star, Ryan Atwood himself. When it came to choosing favorites, The O.C., with its likable and compelling core cast, gave us plenty of options. Yet, behind show stand-outs like Seth or Sandy, there were plenty of underrated characters on The O.C. that just barely got their chance to shine.

Sometimes it was because they didn't get enough screen time — with all the characters this show included, this is understandable — and other times it was because their storylines got cut. But whatever the reason, it's clear that some characters on The O.C. just didn't get as much love as the core four and their friends did.

Until now. From Julie Cooper to Princess Sparkle, here are the 11 most underrated characters on The O.C.:

Julie Cooper

I don't care what anyone says: Julie Cooper was the greatest character ever on The O.C., even — especially — when she was kind of the worst. The full extent of her accomplishments is too great to list, but a few highlights: She made a sex tape as a teenager with an ex-boyfriend named Lance Baldwin; she sent Ryan on a murder mission to Mexico to hunt down Volchok; she slept with her daughter's teenage boyfriend, then sent her away to rehab so she couldn't tell; she bought Kaitlin a new pony when China developed alopecia and the hair treatments wouldn't work. Julie Cooper was amazing, and yet no one in Newport seemed to realize this. So unfair.

Kaitlin Cooper

The only other Cooper family member — no, not you, Marissa — to deserve more recognition than she got? Julie's youngest daughter Kaitlin, who went from an unmemorable guest star to one of the show's most interesting characters. Back from boarding school, she helped stabilize her crazy mother, befriended Ryan, and briefly dated "band geek" Chris Brown. Also, she got Seth high. All hail Kaitlin Cooper.

Sophie Cohen

Whenever The Nana appeared on-screen, she commanded every bit of attention, yet the moment she left, she was barely spoken of again. Poor Sophie got yelled at by her family, was diagnosed with lung cancer, and couldn't even be a cougar without her son stepping in. (Okay, okay, it was for her own good.)

Anna Stern And Zach Stevens

These two characters get grouped together because their fates on the show were all too similar: They were nice, normal people who unwisely dated members of the core four before being given the shaft because of Seth and Summer's undying love for one another. Poor Anna was Seth's female counterpart, a sweet, comic-loving girl who liked him so much she even helped him win Summer back long after they'd broken up. Zach, meanwhile, was a kind and patient guy who unfortunately got caught in the middle of Seth and Summer's feud. Don't feel too bad for them, though; Anna went off to Brown, while Zach worked with George Lucas on Atomic County. Happy endings for two highly underrated, and unlucky, characters.

Luke Ward

Poor, poor Luke. Originally the show's villain (he punched Ryan, cheated on Marissa, partly caused her suicide attempt in Tijuana, etc. — you know, minor stuff), Luke ended up as one of the kindest guys on The O.C. — but no one gave him any credit. No matter that he saved Ryan from a fire, dealt with his father's coming out, tried to save Marissa from Oliver, was seduced by Julie Cooper, and was almost killed in a car crash; in the world of The O.C., Luke was always a background character.

Princess Sparkle

I just feel like Captain Oats got all the attention, you know?

Dr. Kim

Hey look, an adult who didn't try to make Ryan's life miserable! Dr. Kim, the Harbor school's Dean, allowed Ryan to enroll late, persuaded Marissa to keep her head up after the painkiller incident, and, when Marissa was unfairly expelled, re-admitted her to the school despite opposition from many of her peers. You go, Dr. Kim.


Not enough credit — or screen-time — was given to D.J., the hot yard guy who secretly dated Marissa while working at Caleb's mansion. Although he made the unfortunate decision of falling for her, he didn't deserve to be treated so poorly by both Marissa and her mother. He didn't even accept the check Julie gave him in exchange for leaving town, instead giving it to Marissa and telling her to grow up — I mean, make amends with her mom.


Johnny Harper's best friend Chili couldn't have been cooler. The guy accurately nicknamed "Bizzaro Seth" had much in common with his Newport counterpart, from his geeky jokes to his adorable smile. He was also kind and caring, looking out for both Johnny and Marissa, despite only knowing the latter for a few short months. Here's hoping he got far, far away from Newport and all its craziness post-high school. The guy deserved it.

The Kid Ryan Helped In The Finale

In the very last scene of the show, Ryan, now mature and successful, spotted a hoodie-wearing teenage boy, looking desperate at a phone booth. In a full-circle moment, he asked the kid if he needed any help, and while viewers didn't see the answer, it's assumed Ryan took on the boy as his own Sandy Cohen-esque project. But I want to know more! Who was this kid? Why was he so lost and angry? It's 2007 — what was he doing at a phone booth? So many questions that'll never be answered.

Images: Giphy; Fox