Even seven years after
One Tree Hill wrapped up its ninth and final season, the debate about which characters should have ended up together still rages on. And while all fans know that Nathan and Haley deserve to be happy forever and always, and some Lucas fans still wish that he and Brooke rode off into the sunset together, I have a more controversial stance: Peyton and Jake should have ended up together on One Tree Hill.
For those who don’t remember, Jake — played adorably by Bryan Greenberg — was one of Nathan and Lucas’ friends and teammates, and a single father of a precious baby girl, Jenny. He also had one of the show’s
most heartbreaking on-and-off relationships, with Peyton, as he kept having to run away from Tree Hill with his baby girl, in order to avoid his ex, Nikki, gaining primary custody of the daughter that she abandoned not long after her birth. And yet, despite all of the obstacles in their way — not to mention the various state lines that kept them apart — Jake and Peyton were worthy of true OTP status.
Even Hilarie Burton, who played Peyton for six years on the show, still wishes that Jake would have been her knight in shining armor, reminiscing about the relationship on Twitter, after Greenberg posted a #TBT still of Jake in jail. “I’m still upset he never came back for Peyton,” she wrote, to which Greenberg responded, “He did that one time in the rain from out of nowhere:)”
(Truly, that moment has been burned into the brains of
Tree Hill fans for years.)
If that isn’t enough to convince you to hop on board the Jeyton train, well, I still have plenty other reasons why Peyton’s true love was the dorky dreamboat of a single father she dated in high school.
1 They Had Perfect Chemistry From the Beginning
Jake’s first major storyline was his struggle to
balance single fatherhood with the responsibilities of being a teenager, high school student, and player on what was supposed to be one of North Carolina’s top high school basketball teams. Enter: Peyton, who often stepped up to help out whenever Jake was struggling.
Sure, it was presented as an opportunity for her to avoid the drama of Brooke and Lucas’ (first) relationship, but it quickly turned into a genuine friendship based on trust and openness. Compare that with the start of Peyton’s relationship with Lucas — and all of the drama that resulted from their various relationships with Nathan (James Lafferty) and Brooke (Sophia Bush) — and it’s no wonder that she would have hit it off with Jake so quickly and so easily.
2 And Peyton Got Along With Jenny
Let us never forget that it was Peyton who realized that the sound of keys rattling helped calm Jenny down when she was crying. The girl’s maternal instincts were on point when it came to Jenny … and that made Jake fall for her even harder.
3 They Made Each Other Laugh In the Midst Of All of Their Drama
Life in Tree Hill is nothing but drama, which is why it’s important to recognize the moments that the characters could unwind and goof off with one another. Jake is a particularly goofy dude (see, for example, his mascot strip tease in the Boy Toy Auction, which is still one of the cutest things to ever appear on a CW teen drama) and Peyton not only understood him but embraced his weird side. He’s a single father in high school — sometimes the guy just needs a laugh. And with all of the constant Brooke and Lucas craziness that Peyton found herself in the middle of in those early seasons,
Jake provided her with an escape, where she could relax, let her guard down, and just enjoy being a goofy teenager for a little while. 4 She Got Into a Fistfight With Nicki For His Honor
The biggest obstacle to Jake and Peyton’s relationship was his ex, and Jenny’s mother, Nicki (Emmanuelle Vaugier), who skipped town shortly after giving birth and would reappear every so often to attempt to fight for custody for her daughter. But before
Jake had to skip town in order to avoid handing over Jenny and before he ended up in jail as a result of running away despite orders for him to give Nicki partial custody (again, life in Tree Hill is jam packed with drama), it was Peyton who faced off against Nicki, at a house party where she defended Jake and Jenny’s honor, despite the fact that she and Jake weren’t officially dating yet.
Even without all of the longing glances, late night cuddles on the couch and the fact that she was willing to spend all of her money on a date with him for the Boy Toy auction, Peyton’s willingness to defend his honor against a woman she had up to that moment never met before proved just how strongly she felt about Jake from the jump.
5 They Were Always There For Each Other … Even When It Was Hard
Peyton helped Jake get out of Tree Hill to avoid a custody battle with Nicki even though she was starting to fall for him; he came back to Tree Hill when she was starting to develop a cocaine problem and helped her realize that she needed help; she stood by him when he went to prison for avoiding a court date to prevent Nicki for getting custody; he supported her after she got shot and her biological mother died and
she needed to get out of town for a while. Basically, whenever either one of them needed someone to turn to, they were there for one another.
Besides, has any TV entrance ever stopped your heart more than
that shot of Jake walking up to Peyton in the parking lot in season 2, backlit like a movie gangster and coming to her rescue? (The answer is no, for the record.) 6 Just Look At the Way They Looked At Each Other
Sure, Lucas and Peyton had their moments but can anything compare to the way that Jake stares at Peyton when she’s
all dressed up for Uncle Keith’s wedding? Or the way that he looks longingly at her through the glass when he’s in prison or — most importantly — the way that they light up when they see each other at the airport when Peyton comes to visit him in Savannah. If that scene doesn’t make you swoon, you might be dead inside. 7 He Always Took Their Relationship Seriously
Considering the fact that neither Jake nor Peyton ever knew how long they’d be able to stay together, it’s a big deal that
Jake wanted to take it slow with Peyton, in order to show her how serious he was about her. Both of them had been through a lot by the time they started dating in the show’s second season (which now seems so innocent and quaint), but their relationship was something special, something that they tried to keep separate from the various dramas of Tree Hill, and keep for just the two of them. 8 Jake Had The Most Romantic Monologues
One Tree Hill was built on the back of Lucas’ quote-filled voice-overs and everyone’s dramatic musings about love and loss and growing up at the end of every episode, Greenberg delivered all of Jake’s most intensely romantic monologues about Peyton with more passion and charm than any of Luke’s literary allusions. Take, for example, the way he gushed about falling in love for the first time during his high school time capsule video, or the way he tells Peyton that he thinks about driving to Tree Hill every single day so that he can be with her.
Ugh, I remember sobbing my way through the Savannah episodes all those years ago, and frankly, I don’t blame my younger self for being swept off my feet by Jake Jageilski.
9 She Never Forgot About Him
Jake made his final appearance on
One Tree Hill in Season 3, but this presence was still felt all the way into Season 6. When Peyton finds out that her pregnancy is incredibly high-risk, she decides to carry the baby to term, despite the fact that Lucas is against the idea of her risking her life to have the baby. As an attempt to comfort him, Peyton jokes, “Think of all the sexy Jake Jageilski single dad tail you're gonna rake in,” which, while not comforting at all to Lucas in the moment, proves that even all those years later, Peyton still thought about Jake — and how sexy he was.
Truly, Jake Jageilski was the man of everyone’s dreams during his short run on
One Tree Hill. And while Peyton may not have ended up with him in the end, at least fans everywhere can take comfort in knowing that he is truly still the hottest PTA dad around. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go watch their first kiss again ...