Played by Benjamin McKenzie
A troubled young lad from the wrong side of the tracks (i.e. the impoverished LA suburb of Chino), Ryan found himself facing jail time for a car thievery perpetrated by his brother. But kind-hearted public defender Sandy Cohen took a shine to him and invited him home to live with his family.
At first Ryan struggled to fit into Newport Beach high society, and constantly got into fist fights. And I mean constantly.
But with the support of the Cohen family, he settled down and began to enjoy life among the privileged.
He helped bring nerdy and isolated single child Seth out of his shell, becoming Seth's best and first true friend.
He dazzled the also-troubled girl-next-door Marissa, and the pair quickly became a couple. But circumstances (and typical relationship bollocks) conspired against them, and they broke up. Like, six times or something,
Then late last season, Ryan got his Chino ex Theresa pregnant. Ryan decided to do the honourable thing and he quit school, returned to Chino and got a construction job to support her.
This shattered Seth, who took off in his sailboat in revolt. But Sandy convinced Ryan to return to Newport after Theresa falsely claimed to have a miscarriage. Then Ryan and Sandy went and retrieved Seth and they all became a happy family again.
Ryan straightened his act out this season and became a better student. But his past came back to haunt him when his jailbird brother Trey re-entered his life.
At the end of last season, the secret that Trey assaulted Marissa became known to Ryan and they came to violent blows. As Trey was about to smash a phone down into Ryan's face, potentially killing him, Marissa shot Trey.