20 Surprising Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Dawson's Creek

In honor of the iconic WB drama's 20th anniversary, we're spilling 20 Dawson's Creek secrets

By Tierney Bricker Jan 19, 2018 6:08 PMTags

Anyone up for a day trip to Capeside? 

Dawson's Creek, the iconic WB teen drama that launched the careers of James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson and Michelle Williams, turns 20 today. Created by Kevin Williamson, Dawson's ran from 1998-2003 on the WB, and gave the small screen one of its most infamous love triangles and SAT-worthy dialogue. 

In honor of its milestone anniversary, E! News has compiled 20 secrets and fun facts you might not have known about Dawson's Creek

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The Show Almost Never Happened: While Fox originally picked up the show, it went on to dump it. Williamson said at the 2015 ATX TV Festival, "I was told they were struggling with Party of Five and they didn't need another one." The WB picked it up two years later.

Original Theme Song: While Paula Cole's "I Don't Want to Wait" became iconic, producers originally wanted Alanis Morissette's "Hand in My Pocket." Alas, they couldn't land the rights. 

Those Names: Dawson. Pacey. Joey. Not names you hear every day. So how did Williamson come up with them? Williamson told The Hollywood Reporter, "Dawson came from a real place called Dawson's Creek where we all hung out as kids and partied," while Pacey "came from a friend of a friend named Pacey and I'd never met anyone with that name and thought it was a cool name." (We agree!) And because Joey was a tomboy Williamson "wanted Josephine as a very girly name that could easily turn into a tomboy name like Joey."

A Phrase Is Born: Remember Dawson's infamous "walk the dog" line in the pilot? Williamson used it because the network would not let them say the word "masturbate."

Frank Ockenfels/Warner Bros Tv/Kobal/Shutterstock

Selma Blair Was Almost Joey: Before Katie Holmes was cast in the role that would make her America's girl next door, Blair was this close to landing the role. "Joe was written to be a tomboy and everyone was coming in being very much a tomboy. We were very close to going with Selma Blair, who was amazing," Williamson said to THR. "She read it very tough, with a lot of heart." However, once he saw Holmes on tape, with "those two big eyes," Williamson knew he had his Joey. 

Joshua Jackson Was Almost Dawson: Williamson liked Jackson so much he didn't care what role he took. "I fell in love with Josh Jackson because he could read any role, Dawson or Pacey," he told THR. "But something wasn't complete and that's when the network said they didn't see Josh as Dawson, and rightfully so. So, I went, "OK, he's Pacey," because I knew I wanted him in the show no matter what.

Charlie Hunnam Auditioned: The Sons of Anarchy star auditioned for a role on the WB drama, and while he didn't land the part, he did meet his ex-wife Katherine Towne at his 1999 audition, marrying her three weeks later. 

Spon-Con Before Instagram: Dawson's Creek became so popular that it had a deal with American Eagle, with the characters wearing mostly AE clothes throughout season three, and the cast appearing in ad campaigns and promos for the clothing line. 

Dawson's Hairstyle Was Inspired By Brad Pitt: When Van Der Beek was first cast, the studio wanted him to change his hair, with the star revealing to The Daily Beast, "We found an ad for The Devil's Own, the movie with Brad Pitt. They said: 'What about Brad Pitt's haircut?' That's how I got my Season 1 haircut.

Before She Was Mrs. Cruise...: Before marrying (and eventually divorcing) Tom Cruise, Holmes dated Jackson in the show's earlier seasons, even calling him her "first love" in a Rolling Stone cover story. (Oh, and Jackson and Van Der Beek were rommmates during the first season of the show.)

Kerr Smith Didn't Know Jack Was Gay: When Smith first signed on to join the show as Joey's new boyfriend, he had no idea the character would eventually come out and be part of the first-ever gay kiss on TV. "I always knew I wanted Jack to come out of the closet, but I didn't even tell [Kerr Smith]," Williamson said at the ATX TV Festival. "Let the audience love him, then let's have him come out of the closet and have Joey have to deal with that—and then that would eventually drive her back to [Dawson]." 

Jack's Poem: Every fan remembers the moment Jack read his poem in class, the one that revealed he was gay. But many don't know it was a real-life experience from then-producer Greg Berlanti


Your Favorite BFFs Met on the Show: Everyone is obsessed with Michelle Williams and Busy Philipps' friendship, and we have the Creek to thank. Williams even made a surprise cameo on Philipps' Cougar Town in 2013. 

Cause For Celebration: Dawson finally losing his virginity was such a big deal that Van Der Beek brought a very special gift to set the day it was filmed. "I remember bringing champagne for the crew—Dawson finally lost his virginity!" he told The Daily Beast.

Chad Michael Murray Was Less Than Popular: Before starring on One Tree Hill, CMM was on Dawson's as a love interest for Jen and Joey...and didn't seem to make a lot of friends during his stint in North Carolina. During a Paley panel in 2009, Philipps called him "a douche," later saying, "Don't worry. I'm not real worried about burning bridges with CMM." James Van Der Beek added, "He's actually come a long way." Post-event, Philipps even tweeted, "Just finished the dawson's creek panel. Maybe I was too harsh on chadM2… Nah." Love. Her. 

Celebrity Guest Stars: A few actors who appeared on the show include Seth Rogen, Jane Lynch, Julie Bowen, Scott Foley, Jensen Ackles, Hilarie Burton, Rachel Leigh Cook, Ali Larter and Oliver Hudson

There Was a Spinoff: Young Americans was a shortlived spinoff centering on Pacey's friend Will Krudski (Rodney Scott) and his boarding school classmates at Rawley Academy. It also starred Ian Somerhalder and Kate Bosworth, but was canceled after just one season. 

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The Show Almost Ended With Joey Picking Dawson: In the 2003 series finale, the love triangle officially ended with Joey choosing Pacey...but it almost didn't happen, as Williamson first envisioned Dawson landing the girl. But halfway through writing the finale, Williamson realized that a happy ending for that couple wasn't "what the show was set to be."

"I wanted it to be a twist on the teen genre but also wanted it to be surprising, honest and real and say something about soul mates and what soul mates can be," he explained at the ATX TV Festival. "That's why we did it that way. When you left the show in that last moment, they're a family and everyone got what they wanted. There was fulfillment and they were all happy."

At the last minute, he changed his mind and the rest is TV history. But Williamson's mom, who was Team Dawson, was not happy. 

Jens' Death Was A Lesson: In the series finale, which jumped ahead five years, the group had to deal with the devastating loss of Jen. "Dealing with the death of one of their own was the final thing that thrust them into adulthood forever. Dawson's Creek was a coming-of-age story and that was the idea behind that ending," Williamson explained of the decision. "That's why we killed Jen, because I wanted them to deal with a death of one their own as that final lesson."

Writer's Room Goals: Some of the executive producers who get their start on Dawson's? Julie Plec (who went on to gift us with The Vampire Diaries and The Originals), Greg Berlanti (Everwood, Arrow, The Flash, Riverdale...the list goes on and on, and that doesn't even include his movies), Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars and iZombie), Jenny Bicks (Sex and the City), Anna Fricke (Being Human), Dana Baratta (Jessica Jones) and many more. 

P.S. The entire series is available to stream on Hulu