back to top

47 Things You Might Not Know About "Dawson's Creek"

The iconic teen show turns 20 this month.

Posted on

1. Kevin Williamson came up with the idea to create a show based on himself and his friends growing up after producer Paul Stupin read his Scream script and asked him if he had any ideas for TV shows.

2. Williamson pitched Dawson’s Creek as "Some Kind of Wonderful, meets Pump Up the Volume, meets James at 15, meets My So-Called Life, meets Little House on the Prairie".

3. Williamson says Dawson basically was him as a teen. He spent his time making his own movies and idolising Steven Spielberg. Dawson’s Creek, meanwhile, was a real place where Williamson would hang out with his friends.

4. Pacey was based on one of Willamson’s real friends, who was also named Pacey.

5. Joey, meanwhile, was based on Williamson’s best friend Fanny. She would sail to his house because it was closer by water than by road, and sleep in his room at night just like Joey does with Dawson. 

6. Williamson gave Joey a boy’s name not only because she was a tomboy, but also as a private shout-out to his sexuality – he never thought he’d actually get to write a gay storyline (although he did later with Jack in Season 2).

7. In the first two seasons in particular, Williamson says all of the major plot points were taken directly from his life or from that of other writers. Williamson admits his family sometimes got uncomfortable with how closely the storylines resembled their real lives.

8. Selma Blair was in the running for the role of Joey, but Katie Holmes won the creators over with an audition tape she’d filmed at home, with her mother playing Dawson. 

9. Holmes initially refused to fly out to LA to meet with the creators because she was committed to starring in her high school’s play and she didn’t want to let her friends down. So the creators waited two weeks for her to be finished with the school play.

10. Joshua Jackson was up for the roles of both Dawson and Pacey before the creators decided he was a better fit for Pacey. 

11. Adrian Grenier also auditioned for the role of Dawson. 

12. Dawson was the very last role to be cast, with James Van Der Beek getting the part the day before production started on the pilot.

13. At the time, the studio wasn’t convinced that James Van Der Beek was right for the role, but Kevin Williamson insisted he was, stating: “I wrote Dawson! I am Dawson! This is Dawson!”.


14. Alanis Morrisette’s “Hand In My Pocket” was originally meant to be the theme song, but they couldn’t get the rights to it. 

15. Kevin Williamson and Paul Stupin shot the candid footage used in the main title sequence. The actors were told it was for a presentation and would never make it to air.

16. James Van Der Beek and Joshua Jackson lived together during filming of the first season, and Katie Holmes and Jackson dated, with Holmes describing him as “first love”. 

17. Dawson’s Season 1 hair was inspired by Brad Pitt in The Devil’s Own. 

18. The show creators had to get Steven Spielberg’s permission to use posters and short clips from his movies in the show. He watched the pilot and gave his approval, but requested that they take out a line where Dawson describes Jen as reminding him of Spielberg’s wife Kate Capshaw.

19. Jen’s grandfather was originally meant to wake up and be OK in Season 1, but the writer’s couldn’t find a way to include him in the story, so they ended up killing him off. 

20. There were concerns the show was too “racy” in the beginning, and the writers had to change explicit references to masturbation to the euphemistic “walk your dog”. 

21. The most complaints Dawson’s Creek got was about the Season 1 storyline were Pacey sleeps with his teacher. 

22. While most of the cast were older than their teen characters, Mary Beth Peil, who played Grams, was much younger, and makeup was used to age her. 

23. Kevin Williamson says Pacey’s Season 2 plotline was influenced by An Officer and a Gentleman, and he refers to the season as “Pacey’s Pond”. 

24. Kevin Williamson left the show after Season 2 to create the drama Wasteland, which was cancelled after one season.

25. The coming out storyline involving Jack in Season 2 was based on writer Greg Berlanti’s own experiences at high school, right down to the poem that Jack reads in class.

26. When Jack kissed Ethan in the Season 3 finale, it was the first romantic kiss between two male characters on primetime TV.

27. Greg Berlanti, by then the showrunner, threatened to quit if the network didn’t allow the kiss to happen. 

28. James Van Der Beek thinks the show jumped the shark with the Season 2 plotline where Joey wears a wire to catch her drug-dealing dad, but that it got back on the right track in following seasons. 

29. Writer Tom Kapinos called the Eve arc in Season 3 a “colossal mistake”, and Kevin Williamson says that it was one of his least favourite plots.

30. John Wesley Shipp, who played Mitch Leery, wanted to leave the show because he didn’t believe the adult characters were getting enough interesting storylines, so he agreed to be killed off.  Tom Kapinos says he regrets the way Mitch was killed off, describing it as an “utter disaster”.

31. The science project episode in Season 1 was what originally gave the writers the idea to get Joey and Pacey together, but they delayed the plot because they wanted to be careful not to  sacrifice the characters’ likability. 

32. Greg Berlanti pitched the Joey and Pacey plotline in Season 3 because it was what he wanted to see “as a fanboy”.

33. According to writer Dana Baratta, James Van Der Beek and Joshua Jackson weren’t getting along while filming Season 3, so the writers avoided putting them in scenes together – which helped fuel the Pacey vs Dawson storyline.

34. Dawson infamous ugly cry wasn’t originally in the script for the Season 3 finale. It was all James Van Der Beek’s own creative, spontaneous genius.

35. Michelle Williams felt insecure about how little time she got on-screen compared to the main love triangle of Pacey, Dawson, and Joey, but James Van Der Beek told her it was a good thing because she’d be able to distance herself from the show more easily in future.

36. James Van Der Beek once ran into Steven Spielberg at a basketball game, and Spielberg told him, “I like the posters on your wall”.

37. Joshua Jackson would frequently moon people on set to make them laugh and help them relax.  

38. James Van Der Beek bought champagne for the whole crew when Dawson finally lost his virginity. 

39. Each year of filming, Joshua Jackson would take the cast and crew to see a hockey game. One year, he was arrested after getting in a fight with a security guard.

40. Busy Philipps, who played Audrey, was originally meant to do a guest spot on the show but the showrunner at the time, Tom Kapinos, liked her so much he decided to wait to use her as a recurring character when the gang went to college.

41. Originally, the series finale was very different: Dawson and Pacey reconcile their friendship but Joey leaves them both behind and heads to Paris, while a very much alive Jen moves back to New York. The storyline was instead used in Episode 22 in the final season.

42. The studio ended up asking Kevin Williamson to return to write the finale, and he agreed when they suggested it be set five years later, giving him space to tell new stories with the characters.

43. He decided to kill someone off because he thought grieving the death of one of their best friends was the only coming-of-age story the show hadn’t told yet. He chose Jen because she’d always felt like an “outsider”.

44. Michelle Williams questioned the decision to kill off Jen, saying “Well, what if we do a reunion show? What if we do a movie or something?”, to which Williamson replied, “Well, then you’ll be a ghost.”

45. Joey was originally going to pick Dawson over Pacey in the finale, but after writing it, Kevin Williamson admits something felt off, and he realised that while Joey and Dawson were soulmates, their love was platonic, and Pacey was Joey’s true romantic match.

46. Andie actually returned in the series finale, but her scenes were cut from the show due to time constraints. 

47. Kevin Williamson says he doesn’t think a reunion or revival with the original cast would work, but he’s open to someone else taking on the next generation and telling a new story.