There are plenty of relationships fans can “ship” on One Tree Hill.
You can be #TeamBrucas, #TeamLeyton, or #TeamNaley, and they’re all great in their own way.
But there’s undoubtedly one relationship that trumps them all -- Laley, aka Lucas and Haley.
As with all friendships, they’ve had a fair share of ups-and-downs.
They grew apart briefly, but despite the rocky road, they’ve always managed to come back to each other and never lose the love.
On One Tree Hill Season 4 Episode 3, Haley asked Lucas to promise her that “matter what happens, you and I will always be friends.” And he kept that promise.
Significant others came and went, but Lucas and Haley remained best friends throughout the entirety of the series.
Even after Lucas and Peyton drove off into the sunset (Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton exited the show on One Tree Hill Season 6), their friendship lived on off-screen.
When it comes to OTH relationships, Haley and Lucas’s was the purest one.
It was the most enduring relationship in the series, having started in childhood.
When we met them on One Tree Hill Season 1 Episode 1, they already had an established connection that was built on a foundation of trust and memories.
Their dynamic would have allowed the writers to easily cross the line and give in to the played-out friends-to-lovers trope (and maybe that was even the plan at one point), but the best thing about Lucas and Haley is that they never crossed that line.
The fact that they remained best friends and never pursued each other romantically made them far more interesting than if they would have ever considered dating.
In a small town like Tree Hill, it’s almost unheard of for a guy and girl to be “just friends.”
But Haley and Lucas proved that members of the opposite sex could love each other platonically.
The writers may have steered the show towards some unbelievable and questionable plots, but they really got it right when it came to the bond between Luke and Hales.
These are some of our favorite things about them:
They Were Protective Over Each Other
We first begin to understand Lucas and Haley’s relationship on One Tree Hill Season 1 Episode 1.
They’re the outcasts that always stuck together and had each other’s backs.
When Nathan starts cozying up to Haley after she offers to tutor him, Lucas gets protective and warns her against getting involved with his half-brother because he believes he’s only getting close to her to get back at him.
While Lucas isn’t entirely wrong, he also trusts Haley to make the right decision, even if he doesn’t agree with it.
In turn, Haley’s decision to tutor is fueled by wanting to protect Lucas. She offers Nathan her math tutoring services on the condition that stop bullying Lucas and leave him alone.
They Cheer Each Other Up
Though it would be easy for Lucas to point out that he warned Haley about Nathan’s self-serving intentions, he never does. Instead, he’s there for his best friend.
On One Tree Hill Season 1 Episode 7, when Haley believes that Nathan’s been making fun of their relationship, she confesses that he showed her his true colors and she fell for it because she’s “stupid,” but Luke assures her that she’s far from it.
Instead of saying, “I told you so,” he’s supportive and lends her a shoulder to cry on.
On One Tree Hill Season 1 Episode 18, famously known as the “Boy Toy Episode,” Haley taps into her savings from the cafe so that she can buy Lucas during the auction to spend time with him.
At the end of a fun-filled night, Lucas assures Haley that “If Nathan doesn’t see how special you really are, then he’s an idiot cause I think you’re amazing.”
He may not be fully supportive of the relationship, but he always wanted her to follow her heart and be happy.
They’re Always There for Each Other… No Matter What
Lucas’s transition from being Haley’s best friend to brother-in-law after she marries Nathan is a joy to watch, but Lucas can also add another big title to his resume: the godfather of her son, Jamie.
On One Tree Hill Season 4 Episode 4, Haley confides in Lucas about her pregnancy.
He's the first to find out because she’s terrified of Nathan’s reaction seeing how close he is to achieving his basketball dreams.
Lucas is instantly happy for his bestie and assures her that everything will be okay because the kid will have a “great uncle.”
He also puts all of Haley’s concerns to bed by telling her that Nathan isn’t Dan.
On One Tree Hill Season 3 Episode 2, when Haley comes back from tour, Lucas is one of the only people to talk to her during the beach party.
They spend most of the time together with Luke, assuring her that everything will be okay and jokingly stating that it’s the “start of a beautiful friendship… again.”
When Lucas and Peyton leave town, Haley continues to keep in touch and keeps Lucas updated on what’s happening by writing him letters.
She initially writes them at the River Court, the place that Lucas called home for so many years, but throughout One Tree Hill Season 7, the letters serve as voiceover narration.
It would have been easy to just mention Lucas once in a while, but showing Haley writing to her best friend proved that the distance was no match for the love they had for each other.
They’re Brutally Honest With Each Other
The strength of any friendship is measured by the ability to tell the truth, even if it hurts. Lucas and Haley were, for the most part, always straightforward with one another.
They weren’t afraid to call the other out when one of them was messing up or behaving out of line.
On One Tree Hill Season 2 Episode 22, Lucas visits Haley in New York while she's on tour with Chris Keller, who poses a threat to her marriage, to convince her to come home.
He also brings her the final essay prompt about love loss, which is a fitting topic as she hands him annulment papers.
Lucas doesn’t agree with her decision to walk away from her marriage with Nathan.
Nonetheless, he accepts it and hugs her before telling her, “I will always be there for you, Haley. You'll always be my best friend.”
Even when they don’t see eye-to-eye, they value their friendship and each other to take control of their destiny.
Lucas also understands Haley’s desire to pursue a professional singing career just as she always supported his basketball endeavors.
When she eventually decides to come back home and repair her relationship with Nathan, he supports them both wholeheartedly and tries to help them figure out a path forward.
Lucas wasn’t the only one who had doubts about Haley’s love life -- she had a few hesitations about his as well.
She didn't fully agree with his decision to marry Lindsey and went to great lengths to make sure he was making the right decision. She even took Lindsey out to lunch to vet her.
On One Tree Hill Season 5 Episode 8, she also confronts him to make sure that Lindsey is “the one." Lucas tells her that Lindsey will always be number two because Haley will forever be number one.
The sweet statement didn’t go over well with an upset and disappointed Haley. Still, it’s a testament to their friendship and how they’re willing to ask the hard and uncomfortable questions without sugar-coating anything.
They Hold Each Other Accountable
On One Tree Hill Season 1 Episode 22, when Lucas realizes that Haley spent the night at Nathan’s place, he gets upset with her because he knows how badly she wanted to wait until marriage for her first time.
That’s when Haley drops the bomb that she did wait and shows Lucas the wedding ring on her finger.
On One Tree Hill Season 3 Episode 6, Haley cares about Luke so much that she goes out of her way to try to convince him to stop playing basketball because of his heart condition, informing him “you’re not invincible.”
When he tells her that if he tells coach about the heart problem, he’ll be off the team, she responds with the classic line: “Yeah, and if I don't tell Whitey about your heart condition, you're off the planet.”
Often, she pushes Lucas to be the best version of himself, which includes calling him out for cheating a few times.
The first happens on One Tree Hill Season 1 Episode 13 after she finds out he’s been cheating on Brooke with Peyton and calls it a “jackass move.”
The second time she confronts him about cheating on Lindsey with, you guessed it, Peyton.
Nothing gets past Haley. Best friends also call you out when you’re in denial, which Lucas was when he set out to marry Lindsey.
Something unexpected happens after Haley reads his book manuscript on One Tree Hill Season 5 Episode 16.
She realizes that Lucas hasn’t been honest with himself or Peyton and urges him not to go through with the wedding.
They Had Traditions
Only the best of friends have silly traditions. Lucas and Haley would often go to the rooftop of Karen’s Cafe when things got stressful. Over the years, it became their little sanctuary.
Their favorite pastimes include playing mini-golf and having water balloon fights, which they do when they hang out during the Boy Toy episode.
Another sentimental tradition includes reading predictions that they’ve written the year prior to predict what the next year will hold.
They Help Each Other Celebrate the Big Moments
On One Tree Hill Season 2 Episode 2, when everyone judged Haley and Nathan for getting married so young, Lucas stepped in (with the help of Brooke and Peyton) to arrange a reception at his mother’s nightclub TRIC to help them celebrate.
On One Tree Hill Season 3 Episode 22, when Haley and Nathan renew their vows, Haley tells Lucas that her parents are skipping the wedding, and he offers to give her away.
“Luke, that would be perfect,” she replies as he informs her that he could “never officially give you away” because he could “never give away his best friend.”
And when Lucas finally weds a pregnant Peyton, Haley, his sister-in-law, steps in to help plan, decorate, and even serves as minister.
They Show Up in Times of Crisis
After a pretty explosive fight on One Tree Hill Season 1 Episode 13 about Lucas’s cheating and Haley’s romance with Nathan, she tells him, “Next time you see me, don’t talk to me,” before storming off.
Lucas gets into a pretty bad car accident shortly after and ends up unconscious.
When he’s finally awake, Nathan takes Haley to see him, and she breaks down crying.
True friends hurt when they’re apart for too long.
On One Tree Hill Season 4 Episode 9, when Haley was hit by a car, Lucas suffered a heart attack immediately after.
While the main cause was his heart condition, there's no denying that it was likely triggered by the stress of seeing his pregnant best friend in pain.
It was a heartbreaking moment to see both of them lying unconscious next to each other.
Thankfully, they both pulled through and came back stronger than ever.
And after his departure in Season 6, Lucas returned to Tree Hill for a brief moment on One Tree Hill Season 9 Episode 7.
He did this just to check in with his bestie, help her deal with Nathan’s disappearance, and take care of Jamie and Lydia.
Despite the bumps in the road, Haley and Lucas’s friendship carried the series.
They grew up together and with each other and were always there for each other when it mattered most.
Their love for each other was unconditional, and they understood each other without having to say much at all.
They were #bestfriendgoals before it was even a thing!
Lizzy Buczak was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in June 2021..