'One Tree Hill': Mark Schwahn talks Rachel's future, plus that other unanswered question

danneel-harris-one-tree-hill-rachel-gatina.jpg"One Tree Hill" ended almost two months ago, but we're still not really over it. This weekend, Zap2it attended the ATX Festival, a weekend-long celebration of all things television in Austin, Texas. While we managed to resist presenting executive producer Mark Schwahn with a mason jar filled with our finale tears, we couldn't help but ask him about a few of the show's loose ends.

One of our favorite secondary characters of the series, Rachel ( Danneel Ackles), wasn't mentioned in the final season, despite her significant contribution to the Tree Hill mythology. Though she did go through an unfortunate junkie phase, Schwahn tells us that in his mind, Rachel landed on her feet.

"Rachel's obviously fine," Schwahn promises. "She's always going to be fine. She's very crafty, and yet, she has a good heart and she's in great shape."

In fact, had things ended differently for Dan Scott, we may have seen more of Rachel in Tree Hill. "I think if Dan had lived, Rachel would've come back and revealed that she never signed the divorce papers," Schwahn tells us. "He would have said, 'You have to understand, I'm poor now!' and she would have said, 'Do you think I wasn't embezzling from you all these years? I have a bunch of your money saved up. We'll be fine.' That's how I think of Rachel. She's wily, she's wonderful, she's fine."

one-tree-hill-hilarie-burton-chad-michael-murray-baby.jpgAnd then, of course, there's that other unanswered question -- where did Lucas and Peyton go, anyway? It's hardly a secret that Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton left the series after negotiations with the studio fell through, but there was never an explanation offered for their characters' departure from Tree Hill.

Because the exit was based on business, not Schwahn's creative vision for the series, he decided to leave it up to fans to fill in that blank. Years later, he's still not spilling on their whereabouts.

"I don't know if it frustrates people to hear answers like this, but there's no answer that everyone's going to be satisfied with, and I kind of like that idea that, like in real life when someone goes away, they traveled, they left, and you can fill in the blanks," Schwahn says. "If you loved those characters, you're going to fill in the blanks better than I could."

And if you didn't love those characters?

Schwahn laughs, "If you hated those characters, you can fill in the blanks in a very satisfying way to fuel your hate! It's a big part of TV, where, it's like -- leave it open ended, because whatever your life experience and your part of view is, that will fill it in just fine. Yes, it was purposeful, but there was a method to the madness."

How did you fill in the blanks left by Peyton and Lucas driving off into the sunset? If you could make up an explanation for their absence, what would it be? Drop us a line in the comments below and let us know.
Photo/Video credit: The CW