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The O.C. featured exits from a number of characters but there are three the TV show’s creator wishes wouldn’t have happened so soon. Go back to California to see who Josh Schwartz regrets not keeping in Newport Beach longer. 

Josh Schwartz wishes he would’ve kept Anna Stern, Jimmy Cooper, and Luke Ward on ‘The O.C.’

The cast of 'The O.C.' at a 2003 viewing party
The cast of The O.C. at a 2003 viewing party | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

A decade after the series premiere of The O.C., Schwartz reflected on the series with 

HuffPost. He shared there were multiple characters he regretted not keeping on the program longer. They were Seth Cohen’s (Adam Brody) love interest Anna Stern (Samaire Armstrong), Marissa Cooper’s (Mischa Barton) dad Jimmy Cooper (Tate Donovan), and Marissa’s onetime boyfriend Luke Ward (Chris Carmack).

“For me, looking back, we had really fun characters that the audience really responded to in Season 1 — Luke and Anna and Jimmy Cooper. I would’ve liked to, in retrospect, kept those characters around longer,” Schwartz said. 

He continued, saying behind the scenes, writers discussed the possibility of a romance for Anna and Luke.

“We always talked about, ‘What would happen if Luke and Anna ended up dating?’ [They were] the kind of two people who are outcasts from the group,” Schwartz said. “Or Luke and Summer (Rachel Bilson) or Anna and Ryan (Ben McKenzie)?!”

“There were different kind of permutations that we had flirted with and for reasons that escape me now, we didn’t go down that road, but those would’ve been good characters to have held on and to have continued to explore,” he added.

How Anna Stern, Jimmy Cooper, and Luke Ward left ‘The O.C.’ 

After a brief romance with Seth, Anna heads back to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at the end of The O.C. Season 1. She and Seth have an emotional goodbye at the airport, but that’s not the last fans will see of her. Anna later returns in the show’s third season to help reunite Seth and Summer. 

As for Luke, he lashes out at Seth and Ryan until he slowly becomes friends with them. The water polo-playing teen tags along to concerts and brings beer to the golf course. After a short-lived romance with Marissa’s mom, Julie Cooper (Melinda Clarke), Luke decides to start over in Portland, Oregon, with his dad. 

Mischa Barton and Chris Carmack at the 'The O.C.' Season Finale Party
Mischa Barton and Chris Carmack at The O.C. Season Finale Party | Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

‘The O.C.’: Ben Mckenzie Describes Mischa Barton’s Exit as ‘Odd’, ‘Dramatic’ for Her Character

And after stealing money and getting punched at cotillion, Jimmy decides to leave Newport Beach for a fresh start. The character makes regular appearances in The O.C. Season 1, but his time on-screen quickly drops off.

Josh Schwartz says his inexperience led to the characters’ early exits

The O.C. premiered on Aug. 5, 2003, one day before Schwartz turned 27. As he admits, his lack of experience writing TV shows was why Luke, Anna, and Jimmy left so soon.

“Part of it was I had never done this before, so the learning curve was steep,” he told Uproxx. “Part of it was I didn’t watch a lot of these shows, and the ones that I loved did not make it past one season. So there wasn’t a lot of instruction.”

He continued, saying there was still much of Luke, Anna, and Jimmy’s own stories to tell. 

“There was more mileage to gain from those characters, and part of what I think made season 1 so fun for people was we didn’t really know what we were doing,” Schwartz added. 

Watch The O.C. Seasons 1 – 4 on HBO Max.