The seventh season of One Tree Hill premiered on September 14, 2009. This is the first season not to include the show's original cast members Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton. After successful ratings for the first three episodes, The CW gave the series a full-season order of 22 episodes.
Season seven regular cast members returning from season six are James Lafferty, Bethany Joy Lenz, Sophia Bush, and Austin Nichols, while Robert Buckley, Shantel VanSanten, and Jana Kramer join the cast in the season premiere. Other cast members include Jackson Brundage, Lee Norris, Antwon Tanner, Lisa Goldstein, and Paul Johansson.
The season premiere was seen by 2.55 million viewers and achieved a 1.2 rating in Adults 18–49. Episode 7 achieved season highs with 2.67 million viewers and a 1.3 rating in Adults 18–49. The season averaged 2.3 million viewers and a 1.1 rating placing it at #118 in the 2009–10 season.
The seventh season takes place fourteen months after the season six finale, marking the series' second time jump in three years. The season focuses on Brooke's company "Clothes Over Bro's" and a scandal that threatens Nathan's career and marriage.
On February 25, 2009, The CW renewed One Tree Hill for a seventh season. On May 12, 2009, it was confirmed that both Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton would not be returning for the seventh season. On June 8, 2009, it was announced that the seventh season will occur fourteen months into the future from the sixth season finale.
On September 29, 2009 The CW ordered a full season, set to total at 22 episodes.
This season includes three new characters portrayed by Robert Buckley, Shantel VanSanten, and Jana Kramer. Buckley is featured as Clayton, Nathan's agent and friend. VanSanten is featured as Haley's sister Quinn James. Kramer is featured as Alex, a model for Brooke fashion line, "Clothes Over Bros".
Returning are both Austin Nichols who plays Julian Baker a character introduced in the sixth season, and Danneel Harris who had previously portrayed Rachel Gatina. Nichols has been promoted to a series regular while Harris will be recurring for at least seven episodes, beginning with the second episode of the seventh season. In an interview with new cast member Shantel VanSanten, she had noted the return of Lindsey McKeon as Taylor James, the sister of Haley and Quinn, midway through the season.
While speaking on the return of Taylor, VanSanten also revealed that her character's mother, played by Bess Armstrong will also return.
A year has passed since Lucas and Peyton left Tree Hill to go traveling. A scandal threatens Nathan's career in the NBA; Haley goes back on the road, but suffers a family tragedy that causes her to battle a period of depression. Rachel and Dan return to Tree Hill and Brooke hires a new model (Alex) for "Clothes Over Bros" that in turn threatens her relationship with Julian, and Mouth and Millicent's (who become a model, but suffers serious self-image problems). Newcomers Clay and Quinn settle in Tree Hill and soon fall for one another, only to have their own dramas from psycho Katie. While old romances, Mia and Chase seem to struggle, new ones form, Miranda and Grubbs, give in and begin a relationship, while Victoria and Alexander decide to take their professional relationship to the next level.
The season averaged 2.28 million viewers and a 1.1 average Adults 18–49 rating placing it at #118 in the 2009–10 season.
The DVD release of season seven was released after the season has completed broadcast on television. It has been released in Region 1 and Region 2 and Region 4. As well as every episode from the season, the DVD release features bonus material such as audio commentaries on some episodes from the creator and cast, deleted scenes, gag reels and behind-the-scenes featurettes.