Chad Michael Murray was the first person to be cast for One Tree Hill. The producers were originally unsure as to who Murray would play. Series creator Mark Schwahn wanted him to play the character of Nathan Scott since Murray had played a bad guy several times before, and he felt it was only natural to give him this role. Murray, however, wanted to portray Lucas due to a connection he felt with the character. He felt that he could inhabit the character as the two share several similarities. Murray's mother left him when he was young, and Lucas was abandoned by his father. Murray's passion for the role led the producers to cast him as Lucas. Murray had turned down the lead role of Ryan Atwood in The O.C. to accept the role as Lucas Scott.
Schwahn said that in designing the show, he created Lucas as "this underdog kid from the wrong side of the tracks" who crosses over to the pretty and popular; he wanted to show what the life of such a person would be like in a basketball atmosphere.
For Murray, in addition to their shared abandonment issues, Lucas's love for literature also appealed to him. Murray had become a fan of the genre during high school, and felt it changed his way of seeing things; it made him rethink his own actions. Lucas has been described as "caught between being charming and a nerd, a hermit and confident". Murray said of the character, "He's very introverted." He described Lucas as an observer, someone who likes to watch people and try to figure out who they really are, as opposed to who they think they are, another aspect similar to Murray's own personality.
Murray never played much basketball before the show, and was more into football while in high school. Because of this, a basketball coach was hired for Murray in order to improve his basketball skills. To go along with the character's personality, a "sedate" wardrobe was designed. Schwahn said of Lucas's wardrobe, "...He was a Levi's guy. He was, you know, he wore a lot of, like, plain T-shirts and things because we just wanted him to represent the everyman." Despite having the character start out this way, the series eventually let his wardrobe evolve. Starting from the fourth season on, he was given some "wilder stuff". Schwahn clarified, "You know, he can [now] rock something from Sean John, which normally would have been Nathan's department." He said the style of the characters really does evolve on the show, especially with the four-year timeline jump. "Diesel is so wonderful on [Murray]. Diesel jeans. It's an Italian company. A lot of times, Italian designers cut much more slimly...for a really lean physique," stated One Tree Hill's costume designer, Carol Cutshall. "Also, this year, they’ve had nice long sleeves and nice long shirts and really slim clothing and that looks best on [Murray]. He doesn’t need to be swallowed up. He's got his own style as a person. It's not just up to me. I try to bring in what I think is going to fit him best." With the timeline jump, Lucas’s main brands become Diesel, Guess menswear, and Juicy Couture for men.
Regarding the character's romantic life, Schwahn designed a love triangle between Lucas and the two girls, Peyton Sawyer and Brooke Davis, which created an intense fan base rivalry. While describing Lucas and Peyton as soulmates and a "meant to be" pairing, he described Brooke and Lucas as "also genuine" and as having a great dynamic. He acknowledged that the fan bases are large and "very passionate" about their pairings. "There is a huge fanbase dedicated to Brooke and Lucas, and sometimes [those people] feel a bit betrayed, just as the fanbase dedicated to Peyton and Lucas felt betrayed [in Season 2, and parts of Season 3]," said Schwahn. "That tells me that we've done things correctly – that's the strength of a love triangle."
Lucas Scott is the son of Dan Scott and Karen Roe, and the nephew of Keith Scott; he has a younger half brother, Nathan Scott, on his father's side and a younger half-sister, Lily Roe Scott, on his mother's side (she is also his cousin through Keith). He was raised by his mother after his father abandoned them to marry Deb Lee, Nathan's mother. His uncle Keith, who always had feelings for Karen, took over the father figure role. Lucas grew up in Tree Hill, a small North Carolina town along with his best friend and later sister-in-law, Haley James Scott. He shares romantic bonds with Peyton Sawyer and Brooke Davis, is interested in basketball and literature, and suffers from the genetic heart disease hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
At the beginning of the first season, 16-year-old Lucas Scott is recruited by coach Whitey Durham to play for the Ravens basketball team after most of the players are suspended for drunk-driving. He soon has troubles with his half-brother Nathan, who is also the Ravens captain, because Nathan wants to remain the star of the team and feels threatened by Lucas's arrival. Encouraged by Dan, who also wants Lucas off the team, Nathan and his teammates make life difficult for Lucas, on one occasion kidnapping him and throwing him into a ditch. Nevertheless, Lucas is determined to stay on the team (although he removes the name "Scott" from his jersey). He is attracted to and shares a deep emotional connection with Peyton (Nathan's girlfriend). Disgusted by Nathan's behavior towards his brother, she eventually breaks up with him. Nathan retaliates by pursuing Lucas's best friend Haley, who agrees to tutor Nathan in return for him leaving Lucas alone. Lucas and Peyton fall in love, but Peyton is initially scared of a romance with Lucas (not wanting to be "serious" with him). Lucas is devastated and starts seeing Peyton's best friend, Brooke, at the same moment Peyton realizes she has made a mistake in turning Lucas away. He soon cheats on Brooke with Peyton, though sex is never involved in the betrayal. On the night that Lucas and Peyton are about to tell Brooke about their affair, Lucas and Keith are involved in a car accident, and, for the first time in the series, Dan calls Lucas his son so that Lucas can get immediate treatment. Lucas wakes up from a short coma and wants to be with Peyton, but Peyton ends their affair for Brooke's sake after Brooke finds out about their tryst. Lucas's feelings towards Dan are challenged when he learns that Dan wanted joint custody of Lucas, but Karen refused. He also finds himself in Dan's position when Brooke claims to be pregnant, although this turns out to be false as Brooke was lying to seek her revenge on Lucas for breaking her heart. His friendship with Peyton is broken once she learns he had a one-night stand with new resident Nicki not long after she ended their affair. However, his relationship with Nathan improves as Lucas realizes that he got a better deal than Nathan, who is damaged as a result of being raised by Dan. Wanting a fresh start, Lucas decides to leave town with Keith. Lucas and Nathan have a final conversation where Nathan calls Lucas his brother and Lucas says, "I'll miss you, little brother." Before leaving with Keith, he goes to say goodbye to Haley and discovers that she and Nathan have married.
In Season 2, Lucas and Keith return to Tree Hill after Dan has a heart attack. Lucas tries to make up for his behavior with Peyton and Brooke and becomes friends with both of them. He also starts seeing a new girl named Anna Taggaro, but they break up amicably when Anna is confused about her sexuality. Lucas realizes that he has romantic feelings for Brooke and begins to focus on building on a relationship with her, even though she is seeing Anna's brother Felix. Lucas discovers that he has inherited Dan's heart condition, but does not tell anyone except Dan. After discovering that Keith's new girlfriend Jules was actually hired by Dan to break Keith's heart, Lucas agrees to move in with Dan if he leaves Keith alone and pays for Lucas's heart medication. This sets Lucas at odds with his mother, as she cannot believe that Lucas would want to live with Dan rather than her. It also causes a new rift between Lucas and Nathan, as Nathan feels that Lucas is replacing him and is bitter about Haley's departure to go on tour singing. Lucas and Karen are reconciled when she learns half of the reason he is staying with Dan, which is to protect Keith. This plan to protect his uncle fails when Jules leaves Keith at the altar and Keith leaves town after discovering that Lucas and Karen knew that she was hired by Dan. Lucas discovers Deb's painkiller addiction and decides to avenge all of Dan's victims. He finds a stash of cash and an incriminating ledger in the attic at Dan's dealership and plans to expose Dan's illegal dealings, but ultimately fails as Dan has also incriminated Deb. Dan then reveals that the whole thing was a set-up to test Lucas's loyalty, which Lucas failed. As a result, he loses Dan's college fund for him (which Dan had been saving since Lucas was a baby) and even his heart medication. Nathan also ends his friendship with Lucas after discovering that Lucas had planned to bring Dan down and visited Haley behind his back in an attempt to patch up her and Nathan's marriage. Lucas does, however, kiss Brooke in the season finale and confesses that he wants to be with her, but she still leaves for California to spend the summer with her parents. Ultimately, it is just Lucas and a broken-hearted Peyton (after boyfriend Jake left her) for the summer and the last shot is of the two of them sharing a meaningful hug on the beach.
In Season 3, after the summer, Lucas remains at odds with Dan, who accuses Lucas of starting the fire at the dealership that nearly killed him. Dan tries to strangle Lucas on the basketball court, but Peyton, having learned the truth from Lucas, tells Dan that Lucas actually saved him from the fire. Lucas also protects the true arsonist: Deb. Lucas and Nathan continue to argue over Nathan's treatment of the returned Haley and have a public fight after Lucas accuses Nathan of being just like Dan. Lucas struggles to pay for his heart medication and steals money from his mother, which Haley sees, forcing Lucas to tell her about his condition. He begins a non-exclusive relationship with Brooke and uses Rachel Gatina to make her jealous, but a series of events leads Brooke to sleep with Chris Keller, tearing them apart. Later, he forgives her after she gives him the 82 letters she wrote to him during her vacation but did not send. He and Nathan gradually become friends again. Keith returns, and he and Karen finally get together and become engaged. Keith also plans to adopt Lucas. Tragedy strikes when Lucas's former friend Jimmy Edwards brings a gun to school and fires it, accidentally hitting Peyton and causing a lockdown ("With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept"). Lucas saves Peyton and is devastated by Jimmy and Keith's eventual deaths. After seeing the effect of Keith's death on his mother, Lucas decides to finally tell Whitey, Nathan, and Karen about his heart condition and quits basketball. He goes on a university tour with his mother and realizes that he wants to become a writer. He is also Nathan's best man for his second wedding to Haley. He and Brooke break up for good during the wedding when Brooke learns that Lucas kissed Peyton back during the school shooting.
In Season 4, Lucas tries to get Brooke back, but she rejects him, feeling that the passion is no longer there. One day, he hurries to save Peyton from Internet stalker "Psycho Derek", and becomes considerably closer to her afterward. He also helps Karen, who is pregnant with Keith's baby, and plans on going to the University of North Carolina when he graduates so that he can be close to home in case she needs him. Dan also helps Karen with her pregnancy, wanting to make amends for Keith's death. After talking with Dan, Karen persuades Whitey to let Lucas play 15 minutes a game, so as not to let him miss out on something he loves. Brooke and Lucas try dating each other again, but realize that it is not what they truly want and is not what is meant to be, prompting Peyton to confess her feelings for Lucas. Lucas then discovers that Nathan is planning to throw the state championship game because of his debts. Lucas plans to prevent this and deliberately fails to take his heart medication in order to play better, but Nathan is inspired by learning that he is going to have a son and they win, with Lucas making the winning shot. During the celebration, Lucas, after receiving Brooke's blessing, sees Peyton and tells her that she is the girl he has been meant for. The two then share a long-awaited kiss. They become a couple at the after-party, but their happiness is short-lived when Haley gets hit by a car and Lucas tries to tell the paramedics what happened only to suffer a heart attack. As he is in the hospital, Lucas dreams that he is visited by Keith, who shows Lucas what life would have been like if he had been a lesser person. In the end, Lucas realizes that he has to go back to his life because he never told Peyton that he loves her. Lucas wakes up and begins a relationship with Peyton. After the failed attempt of prom in Tree Hill High, the group go on a rescue mission to save Mouth who has become stranded in Honeygrove. They all then crash the local Prom, where he and Peyton have sex with each other for the first time. He begins to investigate Keith's death, as the Keith in his dream suggested that Jimmy did not kill him, but he also starts getting closer to Dan, who tells Karen he wants a bigger part in Lucas's life. Lucas discovers the truth about Dan thanks to witness Abby Brown. He attacks Dan after walking in on him and Karen kissing and tells Karen that Dan killed Keith, but Dan convinces Karen that Lucas is delusional and needs help. Lucas then steals Deb's gun and confronts Dan in front of Karen, having set him up by sending him a message from "Abby". Karen collapses and Lucas fires a warning shot at Dan, telling him not to touch her. Karen is rushed to hospital with eclampsia and has an emergency c-section. Lucas is given a half-sister, who is named Lily Roe Scott when Karen regains consciousness. Later, Dan turns himself in for Keith's murder. Lucas graduates and gets, as a reward, his book (An Unkindness of Ravens) from his mother. That same day, he becomes an uncle with the birth of Nathan and Haley's son, James Lucas Scott, partly named after him. Lucas is named the godfather of James and announces that he will be assisting Whitey as Nathan's college basketball coach.
One year from Season 4, Lucas becomes the head coach of the Cobras, his college basketball team, and leads them to victory in the championships. Thinking about his future, he goes to see Peyton and asks her to marry him. She declines, feeling that it is too soon. As he is about to leave LA, his novel is picked up by a fresh new editor, Lindsey Strauss. It is a moment when his greatest dream came true. He is about to call Peyton, but decides against it, and instead calls Brooke. They spend a crazy evening together, and, in the end, he kisses her because he feels lonely. Although Brooke still loves him at the time, she pushes him away, remembering Peyton. Soon after, he is scheduled to have a book signing in LA where Peyton is living and working. Having missed her, he calls her and invites her to come to the signing. Peyton comes, but she witnesses Lindsey giving Lucas a congratulatory kiss and assumes they are in a relationship and leaves thinking there is no hope for her and Lucas. Lucas thinks that Peyton did not bother to come, and consequently begins dating Lindsey.
In Season 5, four years after high school graduation, Lucas, now 22, suffers from writer's block and is under pressure from his editor/girlfriend Lindsey. He also tries to help Haley with her son, James Lucas Scott. When Peyton comes back home, she reveals to him that she did come to the signing, and then inspires him by repeating his quote: "Your art matters". When he tells Peyton that the bartender she is flirting with at the Clothes Over Bros store opening is not good enough for her, it becomes obvious that, despite his relationship with Lindsey, he still loves Peyton. After remembering the night he proposed, he goes straight to her house, though she is not there. When Peyton begins to antagonize Lindsey, he goes to confront her, but things escalate into a verbal fight about their break up. A little bit later, after Peyton confesses her feelings and kisses him, he kisses her back, passionately, but later proposes to Lindsey, leading Peyton to tell him that she will bury her feelings so that he can be happy. He then wins his first game as the Ravens coach, although the female counterparts miss it because they were locked in the library. He soon has to go to Dan's parole and speak up in order to have him stay locked up. He decides to have Nathan as his best man and then fuses his bachelor party with Lindsey's. He also gives Haley his new book, and she tells him not to marry Lindsey after reading it. Lucas proceeds with the wedding, but Lindsey stops him after realizing his book is about Peyton. She leaves him, and when he chases after her, he sees Lindsey's bags packed. After a confrontation, she leaves him, saying, "People always leave, Luke. You know that." (A reference to one of Peyton's famous lines, also featured in his first book.) Lucas flees to stay with his mother and Andy after the failed wedding. Andy convinces Lucas to go after Lindsey, prompting him to go to her and tell her that one day she will come back to him. She comes back to Tree Hill for Jamie's 5th birthday, but tells Lucas that it was really over. He then helps Brooke cope with having baby Angie around. After Lindsey calls him to tell him she is seeing someone, he blows up after an opposing player gets away with attempting to injure Quentin Fields, drawing himself a 10-game suspension. He becomes heavily drunk and tells Peyton he hates her when she comes to his help. He later apologizes to her after being confronted by Haley. He tells her that it was hard to let her go, hard to see her and that it remains difficult for him, making apparent his love for Peyton. Lindsey comes by to tell him his book is over and he can e-mail her the dedication. When he does, she reveals by phone that she still loves him. He then decides to go to Las Vegas and calls someone to get married. Brooke, Peyton, and Lindsey are all shown answering the phone, and the viewers are left hanging as to whom he decides to propose to.
In the first episode of the sixth season, the audience discovers that Peyton was on the receiving end of Lucas's phone call. He waits to see if she actually arrives, and moments later, he finds her through the crowd, making her way toward him with bags packed. They share passionate kisses, Peyton glowing with happiness, and then board the plane on their way to Las Vegas. When they get there, they spend the night in a kinky Vegas hotel room. The next day, they go to the wedding chapel, but the tackiness of the place convinces them that this was the wrong decision. Instead, Peyton takes Lucas to the hotel room where he first proposed to her and they do it all over again, but this time Peyton says "yes" before he has even asked the question. With the upcoming release of his new book, Lucas travels to New York to meet with Lindsey, and eventually tells her about his engagement to Peyton. He soon starts his book tour, but it fails fast and is canceled, so he returns home to Peyton. After the two resolve problems and fears of moving in together, Lucas is offered a movie deal by Julian Baker. Julian asks Lucas questions about Peyton before she gets there, and after she runs into Julian near the bathroom, it is revealed that he is her ex-boyfriend. For three weeks, Peyton fails to tell Lucas about Julian, and Lucas is angry when he discovers their past on his own. Although he is initially angry, they patch things up, and Peyton convinces Lucas to continue taking a part in the making of the film, despite his reluctance to work with Julian. The film is to be shot in Tree Hill, North Carolina. He also learns Peyton is expecting their first child. Though they initially have problems with Peyton's pregnancy, the fact that she may die if the baby is born, the two are eventually married by the lake where they first met, and have their reception at Tric. They soon have a healthy daughter, Sawyer Brooke Scott, which Peyton names after her best friend Brooke (similar to the naming of James Lucas Scott), and the two ride off into the sunset.
For Season 7, Mark Schwahn, the series' creator, said Lucas and Peyton are traveling the world; they are spending time with Karen and her husband Andy, and Lucas is writing a new book. In the season opener, Jamie celebrates his seventh birthday, his second without his uncle. Lucas sends Jamie the basketball which was given to him by Keith on Lucas's seventh birthday. In the card, Lucas says he and Peyton miss Jamie every day. In the later half of the season, Jamie asks Nathan about his relationship with Lucas. Nathan tells him that although they were not close when they were younger they became more like real brothers as they got older. He said, "Having a brother is a lot like having a best friend, he helped make me the man I am today."
On August 30, 2011, it was confirmed that Chad Michael Murray would be returning to the series' final season as Lucas. He returns to Tree Hill as Haley reaches out to him for help regarding Nathan's disappearance.
Lucas returned to Tree Hill during season nine, per the request of Haley. She asks him to take the kids out of town to live with him and Peyton until she can find Nathan and bring him home.
Lucas has been popular among teenagers and young adults, especially among female fans of the series. He has been described as having "a romantic heart", and his love life has been heavily debated among fans. "If you're a huge fan of One Tree Hill, chances are you've had a debate at some point about who Lucas Scott should ultimately settle down with," stated Don Williams of BuddyTV.com. "[ These shippers ] can be an extremely rabid bunch. There are some fans who want Lucas with Peyton, others who'd like to see him go back to Brooke, and even a few who think that Lindsey was his perfect match." Described as this generation's Joey and Pacey, "the overly dramatic couple you could not help but root for," Lucas and Peyton emerged as one of the show's supercouples. Their departure received significant media attention and was picked as one of the "12 most essential episodes of One Tree Hill" in 2009 by fans at starnewsonline.com.
Regarding Murray's portrayal of the character, Paul Cooke of DVDActive.com said, "Murray does a fine job as a brooding Lucas." Kelsey Zukowsk of 2snaps.tv said, "Chad Michael Murray as Lucas plays one of the deeper roles... [He] does far better as Lucas, the one who seems to be motivated by truth and what is right, than any movie role I have seen him in." Television Without Pity, on the other hand, stated, "Chad Michael Murray is almost too pretty, looks good pouting on promo posters and modeling sponsored fashions, and can only muster one and a half emotions convincingly."