Pop culture phenom could not survive Thursdays

Farewell to “The OC,” bitch.

The show that made it OK to be a Newport Beach teenager with a jones for Death Cab for Cutie’s early work will call it quits next month, Fox announced Tuesday.

Net will air the series finale of “The OC” on Thursday, Feb. 22, in the show’s regular 9 p.m. slot. Fox had ordered just 16 episodes of the show this season, its fourth.

Fox plans to promote the remaining episodes of “The OC” (which returns with new segs tonight) as a “countdown” to the finale.

“This feels like the best time to bring the show to its close,” said “The OC” creator and exec producer Josh Schwartz. “For a certain audience, at a certain time, ‘The OC’ has meant something. For that we are grateful.”

“The OC” premiered in August 2003 and quickly turned into a pop culture phenom, spawning six music soundtracks and pumping up the tourism industry in the real-life Orange County.

The county’s “OC” nickname didn’t even come into vogue until after the TV show debuted. At one point, a county official even seriously suggested renaming John Wayne Airport “the OC Airport.”

“The OC” itself, however, saw its ratings steadily decline as Fox moved the show to a rough Thursday night slot at the start of season two. The show later hit some creative rough patches, further hurting its numbers, although this season it has earned some fresh critical praise.

At its height in season one, “The OC” averaged 9.8 million viewers and a 4.4 rating/11 share in the adults 18-49 demo. So far this season, the show has posted a 1.7/4 in the demo and 3.8 million viewers overall.

“The OC” launched as the tale of a Chino hoodlum (Ben McKenzie) who winds up moving into the affluent Newport Beach home of his lawyer (Peter Gallagher), stirring up the neighborhood in the process. Kelly Rowan, Adam Brody, Melinda Clarke, Rachel Bilson, Autumn Reeser and Willa Holland currently also star.

Schwartz exec produces “The OC” with McG, Stephanie Savage and Bob DeLaurentis. Warner Bros. TV produces, along with Wonderland Sound & Vision.

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