Ryan Atwood & Taylor Townsend Are The Real 'O.C.' OTP — Hear Me Out, Marissa Fans

When Mischa Barton packed her bags and left The OC, that could have meant the end for the quirky teen drama. True, the characters struggled a bit after Marissa's death in a fiery, post-graduation car accident. (Never forget: Ryan's cage-fighting days.) But, The O.C. and its characters came alive in its fourth and final season. And, I've got to hand it to an unexpected and unexpectedly delightful pairing as the show neared the end: Ryan Atwood and Taylor Townsend. Who knew?

Taylor (Autumn Reeser) had been introduced early on in Season 3 as another Newport oddity. She was a Type A go-getter and Marissa's rival in school activities. The gang disliked her immensely, but thank goodness they gave her another chance. Taylor was re-purposed later on as a confused, well-meaning goofball; her abrasiveness had been born of a compulsive need to be liked. She didn't seem like the type to match with the brooding and noble Ryan... which is exactly why they worked.

Ryan and Taylor gave me everything: Their chemistry sizzled, there was a sense of fun and excitement, and there was the idea that your partner can (and should) constantly surprise you. To prove their status as a power couple, here are seven reasons why Ryan and Taylor are The OC's true OTP.

1. Their Sexual Tension Game Was Strong

Taylor once told Ryan that she wanted to "use [his] body as a jungle gym," and every interaction between them wordlessly betrayed that fact. Also, join the club, Taylor.

2. Ryan Knew All Taylor's Games And Loved Her Anyway

"I think you’ve got this idea that you’re this strange person that has to trick people into liking her," Ryan told Taylor. "It’s not true. You’re, um... you’re amazing." Don't you love it when someone sees right through your insecurities and tells you exactly what you need to hear?

3. Ryan Wasn't Threatened By Taylor's Past

Remember the French ex-husband who made Taylor the subject of his tawdry pseudo-memoir and how Ryan (bless him) barely batted an eye? Taylor's sexual adventurousness was a significant part of her character, and neither Ryan, nor the show, ever judged her for it.

4. Taylor Was An A+ Gift-Giver

Mad respect to the girl who would gift her boyfriend a piece of slinky lingerie in the middle of a crowded mall.

5. They Got Each Other Through The Toughest Times

Ryan helped Taylor weather the waters of her embarrassing divorce. Taylor brought Ryan back from the brink of self-destruction after Marissa's death. They saved each other, and they were both grateful for it.

6. They Saw The Best In Each Other

The thing is, Ryan was funny. He was funny when he felt safe and comfortable with someone, like he did with Taylor. And, Ryan made Taylor feel more confident and vulnerable with other people. They not only saw each other's best qualities, they helped draw them out, too.

7. And They Made 7 Minutes In Heaven Look Good

This is a game that usually calls to mind sweaty palms and cheeseball breath. But, uh, that's not how these two do it.

In a post-OC world, I like to think that Ryan and Taylor are still together and having lots of adventures. Are you with me, 'shippers?

Images: Fox; sethandsummers, atwoods (2), natchioselektra, adamskovics, swarekperalta