25 Inimitable Men 10/25
Nathan Scott (One Tree Hill)
When One Tree Hill first aired, did anyone expect Nathan Scott to go through the most prodigious growth as a character? I certainly didn’t. But by season two, I was left pleasantly surprised, and anything after that, I knew that whatever challenge he faced, he’d conquer it with a selfless mindset and admirable strength. As a boy who was incredibly damaged by his abusive upbringing, it was tough to imagine just how honorable, he’d turn out to be. Often times in the world of television, when we’re introduced to a man with the type of past Nathan’s endured, he’s already at a place of innate goodness, but with Nathan Scott, we were introduced to an unkind, troubled teenager who was headed down the wrong path. Nathan’s growth served as ultimate proof that love, and only love can pull the darkness out of someone and engulf them with a plethora of light. Nathan Scott is the prime example of a father, a husband, a friend, and an honorable, wonderfully complex, inimitable soul.
There are two ways to deal with abuse: you either pick yourself up and choose to be better, or you allow what you’ve been through to tarnish your soul. Nathan Scott didn’t grow up with a great father or loved, he grew up spoiled and fueled with hatred. Dan Scott was the kind of man who allowed his jealousy and insecurities to turn him into a monster, and that monster filled his son’s heart with the same type of darkness he’d been filled with. But when Nathan Scott found light in Haley, he clung to it with everything in his being. He devoted himself to the promise that he’d be the kind of man who’s deserving to stand by her side. He devoted himself to the promise that he’d be a better father to his future children. He devoted himself to the promise that he’d work on himself every single day in order to set the right examples for Jamie. And when his career was taken from him, when he momentarily couldn’t walk or play as he used to, Nathan let himself go, but never once in the midst of his darkness did he attempt to force anyone into it. He was under the belief that he was no longer worthy of them. And after that darkness, Nathan fought to ensure he’d never go down that road again. He spoke and fathered Jamie in the way that he wished he would be comforted. He encouraged Jamie in the way he wished he’d be encouraged and appreciated. Nathan’s resilience and the amount of compassion within him gave him the means to grow with his son — everyday as a father was a learning experience, but at this point in his life, he’d learned how to play the game just to play it, and being Jamie’s father was about nothing other than ensuring his son’s happiness from the very first breath he took. We never got to see Nathan be a father to Lydia, but it’s already easy to imagine that he’d be excellent at it. While he’s most certainly far from perfect, there’s more love in his heart than anything else, and that love has always been transparent with his wife and children. The choices he’s made to consistently ensure that Haley’s life is always like a fairytale — the way he fought for her when she lost herself in grief.
Nathan Scott was most certainly not perfect — he’s had some dark, ugly moments even after deciding what kind of a man he wants to be. He’s had moments of doubt, moments of outbursts, full-blown rage and darkness, but through everything, Nathan’s made conscious choices to rise above. He’s done everything in his power to learn from them, and when need be, he’s been brave enough to lean on his loved ones to help him. And that took immense strength as well, for it’s never easy being vulnerable, especially for men. But Nathan Scott is a prime example of an honorable, kind man. His ability to forgive reminded viewers of the importance in finding the serenity within, and it revealed just how vital it is for human beings to open their hearts to love no matter how many times they’ve been stepped on or damaged. The choice to understand that his parents deserve to be forgiven because they didn’t know how to better showcased immeasurable strength and empathy.
Nathan Scott is not only a gift to his family, but his friends and perhaps one of my favorite showcases of his selflessness and kindness was most evidently present in “Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.” when he tells Brooke that just because they’re going through a difficult patch in their lives, it doesn’t mean that her problems aren’t important, too. And for a man to say those words when it’s usually “you’re being too sensitive” was the perfect display of Nathan’s kindness. It was a perfect display of his selflessness and the fact that he’s grown from the selfish choice to deal with his accident on his own. It’s that very advice that’s actually become my favorite thing his character’s ever said because it’s revealed that as someone who’s bottled up a lot, he doesn’t want a single soul to experience the feeling that their problems don’t matter. He was even kind enough not to push Jimmy when he had a gun pointed to their face. As a character who could’ve certainly benefited from talking more, the choice to be that kind of friend is the remarkable authentication of the fact that he’s a character with prodigious compassion to bring forth. In the end, he was even good to Chris Keller after everything they’ve been through. Nathan Scott didn’t know how not to be a helping hand to someone and it’s made him an incredibly irreplaceable character in all their lives.
And in the same way that Nathan grew exponentially throughout the seasons, James Lafferty grew as an actor, learning more and more about the character in order to embody him in ways that’d feel incredibly organic. Each performance was filled with nuances that layered the character further allowing us to see parts of him that were tucked deep within his expressions and physicality. By season nine, when you looked into Nathan’s eyes, Lafferty was exhibiting a thousand words through and through. Each emotion was layered more profusely with compassion, bravery, and unyielding wisdom.
- “It doesn’t mean your problems are any less important.”
- “The important thing to remember is that you don’t have any responsibility to any of those people. Not to them. Not to me. You have to find what makes you happy and be a good man while you chase whatever that is, but whatever it is, it’s up to you.”
- “It’s hard when you miss people, but you know, if you miss them, it means you were lucky. It means you had someone special in your life — someone worth missing.”