All The Ways Summer Changed From 'O.C.' Pilot To Finale

by Mary Grace Garis

In the four short but memorable seasons of The O.C. that fans have to enjoy, we also really get to watch the core four grow. But perhaps the biggest transformation comes from the most unexpected heroine: Summer Roberts. Originally just seen as a shallow, self-centered valley girl, she blossoms into a boho princess who cares... most of the time. Summer Robert's growth over those four years shows she could be deep, multilayered, and maybe even capable of saving the world.

What's particularly interesting with the ways Summer changes over the course of The O.C. is how Summer also doesn't change. That is to say, throughout the series she manages to become a better, more fully-rounded person while keeping true to herself. Hell, she's unfaltering about using her love of Miuccia Prada to get into Brown ("Her clothes teach you to change your perspective"). You do have to love that she wants to achieve and evolve on her own merits, not on the stock answers that people would expect of her. Classic Summer, through and through, and she's an inspiration because of it.

However, if you want more concrete examples of what exactly happens to Summer Roberts between the pilot and the finale, scroll down.


She Gets Over Her Crush On Ryan

NEVER. FORGET. For a brief, disorienting moment, Summer totally has the hots for Ryan. This starts unraveling when she finds out he's from Chino (ew) and is forgotten shortly thereafter. Thankfully.


She Becomes A Smidge Less Condescending And Self-Absorbed

I'll just lump those two together under the general umbrella of "Summer learns to care about someone besides herself." There's a soft start with this, when she uses her expertise to help out Marissa, but then it blossoms to a yearning to save the world. Incredible.


She Loses Her Virginity

Which is a social construct, but still worth noting since she and Seth have that iconic exchange about their first time. So I guess it's a Big Deal.


She Falls In Love With Seth

It takes Summer more than a few years to reciprocate Seth's feelings, but, thanks to a spunky blonde pixie striking up some jealousy, we get an iconic couple.


She Becomes More Emotionally Honest, Particularly With Herself

The first two seasons show her, for various reasons, choosing to deny her feelings for Seth. By the time we roll around to Season 3 and 4, she's more-or-less resigned to her love of Seth, and has a better sense of who she is.


She Makes Peace With Anna

This takes a long time to stick; technically she's harboring a bit of hostility when she thinks Anna is dating Seth again at the tail end of Season 3. Still, they both find a way to form a decent alliance, helped in part by their love of Golden Girls.


She Stops Hiding Her Intellect

Summer tests well and gets a knock-out SAT score. And once she realizes her potential, she really leans into it and manages to get into Brown (which I still find kind of incredulous, I'm not going to front with you).


She Loses The Person She Loves Most

I'm talking about Marissa, obviously. I think this, in part, gets Summer to become more serious with her life, making her certainly sadder but wiser.


She Becomes An Environmental Activist

Life at Brown (and a very young Chris Pratt) inspires Summer to ditch her superficial ways and start protesting.


She Befriends Former Arch-Nemesis Taylor Townsend

Considering how aggravating Taylor Townsend is when she randomly pops up circa Season 3, and how she works to make Marissa and Summer's lives hell, that's impressive. And once their friendship gets traction, it is very cute (although it is no Summer and Marissa, let's be honest).


She Figures Out What She Wants To Do With Her Life

She becomes encouraged to work with G.E.O.R.G.E. and, you know, save the seals, all the while staying with Seth, despite the distance.


Oh, And She Gets Married And Lives Happily Ever After

Though it's hard to think of our OTP separated, there's no doubt that Summer would get a happily ever after no matter what.

And, honestly, no one deserves it more.