The O.C.'s core four are undoubtedly the heart of the series. Marissa is the troubled socialite; Summer, her fiery BFF; Ryan, the brooding outsider; and Seth, the token underdog. But there is, in fact, life outside of their circle, and that included a rotating ensemble of minor (and under-appreciated) O.C. characters.
Of course, there are plenty of people who rightfully faded into the background. Remember the vengeful Dean Hess, whose sole mission in life seems to be ruining Ryan's? Or Jess Sathers, Trey's rabble-rousing fling who lures him into a world of trouble? And there are even more who overstay their welcome. Just think about the list of obsessive men who become dangerously fixated on Marissa (looking at you, Oliver, Johnny, and Volchok), or consider Charlotte, the manipulative con-woman who tries to take advantage of Kirsten and Julie at their most vulnerable. Even Taylor Townsend, who's bumped from the sidelines to the main cast in the wake of Marissa's death, is just as obnoxious as she is endearing.
But amid all of those duds, there are a handful of characters that never got their rightful day in the sun. They're just relegated to the fringe as Marissa, Summer, Ryan, and Seth get all the love. 10 years later, they definitely deserve a shoutout.
Anna has a pretty hefty arc in Season 1, and it's clear she never stands a chance against Seth's eternal crush on Summer. But she's still the female equivalent of Seth 2.0: smart, quick-witted, and far less self-involved. If she'd stuck around, she would have helped reel in some of Seth's more childish and impulsive tendencies, challenged Summer as a person and friend, and added more depth to the show overall.
2Winchester "Che" Cook
Before Chris Pratt was a bona fide action star, he was playing lovable TV goofballs like Parks and Recreation's Andy Dwyer, Everwood's Bright Abbott, and, of course, The O.C.'s Che. He isn't a likable character — he does get Summer kicked out of school — but he certainly keeps Orange County entertaining.
The Nana may not be the kindest Cohen relative, but her sharp tongue and tell-it-like-it-is attitude make her an utter joy to watch.
Olivia Wilde plays a badass bartender who gives bisexual visibility and makes for a non-Ryan romantic interest for Marissa who isn't totally abhorrent. More of this, please.
Sadie doesn't have nearly enough dramatic turmoil to compete with the core four, but that's exactly why she should've gotten more love: She's one of the most grounded characters to appear on the show. (Although she does inadvisably date Volchok, so maybe she would fit in after all).
As the Harbor School's Dean, Dr. Kim gives Ryan a chance and encourages him to tap into his full potential. Sometimes her students' requests are above her head, but she's always rooting for them, and she deserves far more credit.
By the time Heather last graces The O.C. screen, she feels more misunderstood than cruel. And as hard as she is on Marissa when she first arrives at Newport Union, she doesn't deserve to be roped into Volchok's mess.
Hailey may be skirting responsibility when fans first meet her, but by the time she makes her last appearance, she's gotten her life together. Viewers deserve to see a little more of who she becomes after embracing adulthood.
OK, so D.J. doesn't talk much, and he isn't the most enthralling character, but Marissa doesn't appreciate him nearly enough. Plus, he manages to rise above Julie's belittling scorn and keep his integrity intact when she tries to pay him off to stay away. That alone deserves some praise.
Unlike a certain Cooper patriarch, Dr. Roberts is a loving, generous, and stable father. There's a reason every available woman in Newport is vying for him: He's a total catch, and a much stronger partner for Julie than, say, Frank Atwood.
11Young Sandy & Kirsten
The O.C. may be about teens, but Sandy and Kirsten are an anchor for the series, and watching them fall in love for the first time (even briefly) is a refreshing break from all the melodrama. Besides, who wouldn't want more Max Greenfield?
Alas, these characters' chances have come and past, but you can still dream of what could have been.