‘The O.C.’: Do Seth and Summer Get Back Together?

Summer Roberts (Rachel Bilson) and Seth Cohen (Adam Brody) were one of TV’s most popular fictional couples in the early aughts. Crushing the hearts of fans everywhere, the characters on The O.C.  broke up — more than once — and each time audiences rooted for a reconciliation. Ahead, we take a look back at the TV couple and how the series left their relationship when The O.C. went off the air in 2007 after Season 4. 

For those who don’t regularly binge-watch The O.C. — all four seasons are available to stream on Hulu — and can recite dynamics between all the characters, here’s a refresher on Seth and Summer. 

Seth is a sarcastic, nerdy kid whose interests don’t align with those of his high school classmates. He’d rather listen to Death Cab for Cutie, read comic books, play video games, or talk to his plastic toy horse Captain Oates. The one SoCal activity he enjoys is sailing on Summer Breeze, the boat he named after his longtime crush. 

Rachel Bilson and Adam Brody at JC Chasez's 30th birthday party on Aug. 6, 2006
Rachel Bilson and Adam Brody at JC Chasez’s 30th birthday party on Aug. 6, 2006 | Chris Polk/FilmMagic

Summer, on the other hand, is seen as a shallow, popular teenager who is only concerned with tanning and partying. Initially, she’s not interested in Seth, or as she calls him “Cohen,” because as she says, she “can’t like Seth Cohen.” Of course, the two characters fall in love and become official following a love triangle and a declaration of love in front of the entire school from Seth.

What makes the onscreen romance even better is that Brody and Bilson dated in real-life from 2003 to 2006. Today, Brody is married to Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester while Bilson is dating Bill Hader after they met filming The To Do List in 2013.  

Why did Seth and Summer break up? 

Like any teenage romance, Seth and Summer had their ups and downs. At the end of Season 1 when — spoiler — Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie) returns to the neighborhood where he grew up to be with his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Seth can’t handle being a loner again at school. He decides to set sail on the Summer Breeze leaving a goodbye note for his parents and Summer. 

When Seth returns home, he learns Summer’s moved on from him (or so he thinks) and is dating, Zach Stevens (Michael Cassidy). Once he’s accepted his former flame’s over him, he starts seeing Alex (Olivia Wilde) and becomes friends with Zach after bonding over their shared love of comic books. However, the relationships were short-lived. Seth and Summer realized they still had feelings for each other and reunited following a Spider-Man style kiss in the rain.

Cast of 'The O.C.'
Cast of ‘The O.C.’ | Ray Mickshaw/WireImage

Fast-forward to Season 3 when Seth and Summer applied to college. Summer got accepted to Seth’s dream school, Brown University. Crushed he didn’t get in, Seth lied to Summer and said he too got in because she’d previously said she wouldn’t attend without Seth. They break up because of the lie and get back together when Seth gets accepted to a nearby school. 

Following the death of Summer’s best friend, Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton), Summer distances herself from Newport, Calif., Seth, and memories of home. Summer deals with her grief and reunites with Seth but as the series ends their future remains uncertain. 

How did ‘The O.C.’ leave things with Seth and Summer? 

Skipping four years ahead in the series finale of The O.C., fans find out what became of Seth and Summer. They married in a backyard wedding at Sandy (Peter Gallagher) and Kirsten’s (Kelly Rowan) home in Berkeley, Calif., where the Cohen family used to live before relocating to Orange County. Meanwhile, Ryan finds love again after losing Marissa.