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Literature: Pretty Little Liars
Pretty Little Liars is a series of young adult novels by Sara Shepard. The series follows the lives of four girls — Spencer, Hanna, Aria, and Emily — whose clique falls apart after the disappearance of their leader, Alison. Three years later, they begin receiving text messages from someone using the name "A" who threatens to expose their secrets — including long-hidden ones they thought only Alison knew.

The series in chronological order:

  • Ali's Pretty Little Lies
  • Pretty Little Liars
  • Flawless
  • Perfect
  • Unbelievable
  • Pretty Little Secrets
  • Wicked
  • Killer
  • Heartless
  • Wanted
  • Twisted
  • Ruthless
  • Stunning
  • Burned
  • Crushed
  • Deadly
  • Toxic (June 3rd 2014)

A television series premiered on ABC in the summer of 2010, all series exclusive tropes go here.

Tropes

  • Accidental Murder: In Twisted the girls confront someone who they think is Alison and Aria believing she was going to kill them pushed her in self-defense causing her to fall to her death.
    • Subverted It's revealed in the latest book that she was killed by a blow to the head at close range NOT from a fall.
  • Adults Are Useless: There hasn't been a single adult that they've found that could help with their "A" problem.
  • Aloof Big Sister: Melissa to Spencer, and Jason as well.
  • Always Identical Twins: The person who died was actually Alison's identical twin Courtney who Alison killed in a fit of rage for stealing her identity. Courtney is even buried under her twin's name.
  • Always Someone Better: Spencer feels she is constantly under her older sister Melissa's shadow. Darren believes that Hanna felt this way concerning Alison.
  • Alpha Bitch: Alison before she died. After, Hanna sort of replaces her.
  • Anyone Can Die: Anyone who is important to the plot of one or more books will probably die in the next. By the end of Wanted, the dead people include Ali (nope), Toby Cavanaugh, Mona Vanderwaal, Jenna Cavanaugh, Ian, Courtney, Tabitha, and Gayle.
  • Asshole Victim: Alison wasn't exactly the nicest person around. Ultimately subverted, as Alison wasn't the "victim" after all.
    • Not that the real victim Courtney was much better
  • Based on a True Story: The author claims at the series is loosely based off her experiences on "...Philadelphia’s Main Line."
  • The Beautiful Elite: Everyone in Rosewood. At worst they would be Hollywood Homely.
  • Big Eater: Hanna, played for drama.
    Hanna: "My way of staying sane is to eat a ton of cheese-based snacks and then throw them up."
  • Bi the Way: Emily. Arguably Alison, Courtney, Trista, and Kelsey.
  • Black Best Friend: Maya, who is also a little bit more than that ...
  • Blackmail: A's messages.
  • Blondes are Evil: Mona, Alison, Melissa at some points in the books, Iris, Courtney, and Klaudia.
  • Break the Cutie: In the books Jenna is teased constantly by Alison and her friends, abused by her stepbrother and then she is blinded by a prank gone wrong. She never holds the teasing against Aria and the others though, and the prank was her idea, conceived in an effort to take her stepbrother out of the picture.
  • Broken Bird: Aria
  • Brother-Sister Incest / Not Blood Siblings: Toby and Jenna.
  • Cassandra Truth: The girls telling Darren that a second A was tormenting them after Mona's death, and, more disturbingly, Ali desperately trying to convince her parents that Courtney switched their identities. Her failure meant she was locked up in a mental asylum, where, presumably, everyone continued to insist that she was her sister. It's really no wonder she lost her mind as well.
    • Much more tragically is Is Courtney trying to convince her parents that Ali is making her look crazy to get rid of her
  • The Chessmaster: A is obviously this.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Hanna is like this in her relationship with Sean causing him to dump her.
  • Cure Your Gays: Emily's parents attempt to do this.
  • Daddy's Girl: Hanna used to be like this with her dad before he remarried. However, after he married Isabel he preferred Kate to her causing her many insecurities.
    • In Twisted she once again becomes her father's favorite after her success with helping him run his political campaign.
  • Dark Secret: Everyone in Rosewood has one of these.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Hanna has one with Alison while she is in the hospital. Subverted because Alison was really alive at the time and visited Hanna when she was in a state between waking up and sleeping.
    • Later Aria has a real one using a medium to talk to Ali Actually Courtney who wrote down the cryptic but accurate identity of her killer Ali killed Ali
  • Deadly Prank: The Jenna Thing is based off this. The girls are convinced to play a prank on Toby involving a firework. It backfires leading to Jenna's blindness and Toby taking the fall for it. Jenna had actually conspired with Courtney to get rid of her stepbrother because he was abusing her. The firework went off at the wrong time causing all the chaos after it.
  • Disappeared Dad: Hanna's and Emily's.
    • Emily's is around he just seems to always agree with his wife
  • Disney Villain Death: After Spencer rejects her offer to become A with her, Mona attempts to kill Spencer which leads to Spencer pushing Mona to her death over a cliff.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: A's identity fits this because at first the girls suspect A is Alison but after she is discovered to be dead leading them to suspect Toby to be A. It is actually Mona who was supposed to be best friends with Hanna which comes as a surprise to them because they never considered her at all. The second A turns out to be Alison which came as a huge shocker because it was revealed that she had killed her twin sister Courtney who was impersonating her at the time.
  • The Dragon: Mona to Hanna.
  • Dropped A Bridge On Her: Jenna's murder at the hands of Alison was abrupt and mentioned very briefly in the books.
  • Dysfunction Junction: All of the main characters have some kind of major issue. Spencer's competitive nature drives her to do whatever it takes to come out on top. Hanna suffers from body image issues and eating disorders. Emily's sexuality and sweet, forgiving nature lead her to make terrible decisions. And Aria feels conflicted over her desires to be accepted into a group and be an independent loner.
  • Evil Twin: In Wanted, Ali reveals that she had a twin, Courtney, who was evil. However, it turns out that she's just as evil.
  • Erudite Stoner: Reefer, Spencer's current love interest. At first she think he's just some creepy stoner from Princeton who by some miracle got into the school, then it's revealed he's actually a Teen Genius majoring in Quantum Physics who grows his own pot and keeps it neatly in alphabetical order, Spencer can't help but be impressed.
  • Everybody Knew Already: The Jenna Thing turns out to be this because Courtney lied about it. She claimed that no one else but them knew and swore them to secrecy. It turns out that Jenna and Toby also knew who was behind it. Mona also knew it about which contributed to her dislike of the girls because she had been friends with Jenna.
  • False Friend: Mona befriended Hanna only as a part of her elaborate revenge plot as A. After Mona's death this leaves Hanna devastated because she thought Mona was a good friend of hers. Alison pretends to befriend the girls in the eighth book only so she can attempt to kill them in revenge because she felt like they were involved in stealing her life.
  • Five-Man Band: Arguably —
  • Formerly Fat: Hanna used to be fat before undergoing a makeover and becoming bulimic.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Hanna - sanguine, Spencer - choleric, Emily - melancholic, and Aria - phlegmatic.
  • Flashback: Every book is started with one. Also, the girls have flashbacks routinely about what they did with Ali.
  • Food Slap: Ben spills his drink on Emily after finding out she cheated on him with Maya.
  • Foreshadowing: "Mona always knew the best dirt on people" less than forty pages into the first book will jump straight out at you on a reread.
  • Gambit Roulette: It is revealed in Unbelievable that Mona Vanderwaal was A and planned everything that happened to them all along.
    • Then in Deadly it is revealed that Nick/Tripp was all the guys each of the girls met and caused their summer secrets
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: This was the reaction of most of the Typical Rosewood Boys after Emily is outed by A
  • Girl Posse: The four girls are this to Alison before her death. Before she befriended the protagonists, Alison had another girl posse with two girls named Riley Wolfe and Naomi Zeigler Courtney ditched them after taking over her sister's life because she didn't know the secrets and inside jokes the real Alison did. Hanna forms one of her own later after Mona's demise with her stepsister Kate and Alison's two former cronies.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Spencer and her sister Melissa.
  • He Knows Too Much: The reason Hanna gets hit by a car in Perfect. A sent a threatening message to Hanna, but used their regular phone instead of the blocked one and Hanna recognized the number as belonging to her best friend, Mona Vanderwaal.
    • this is the second A's reason for killing Ian and Jenna and the third A's for killing Tabitha
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Alison. She started out just wanting revenge on Courtney but then started to get in too deep and started to kill other people
  • Hidden Villain: A is extremely skilled at managing to avoid having their identity revealed while conducting blackmail and other methods to mess with the main characters. In the books their identity was revealed in the fourth, eighth, and fourteenth books.
  • Hot Teacher: Ezra
  • Hot for Student / Hot for Teacher: Aria and Ezra, though they don't find out they're student-and-teacher until the day after they meet at a bar.
    • Aria's father and his student Meredith were this
  • I Ate What?: Aria is a vegetarian, upon realizing in horror on her second week in Iceland that she ate a puffin.
  • Irony: The reason that Alison's parents hid Alison's twin sister, Courtney from the world was because they thought that Courtney was crazy. Tragically, it turned out that Alison, their "perfect little girl", was the one that would go around blackmailing people, ruining lives, tearing apart families, and killing people without even showing the slightest sign of remorse. The worst part? Their "perfect little girl" never would have gone on her rampage had she not been accidentally subjugated to the lifestyle that her sister had grown up in—the one that they decided to put her through.
    • It gets worse It turns out that Courtney was never the crazy one in the first place, it was Alison who purposefully made it seem like Courtney wanted to kill her in order to get her out of the way.
  • Informed Judaism: Hanna is revealed to be Jewish in Pretty Little Secrets. There were no indications prior to this nor has it been brought up since.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: In the books, this was the reason why Aria didn't fit in with her peers because she was much more interested in things such as philosophy and abstract art. This left her friendless until meeting Alison and the other girls.
  • Jerkass: Alison definitely crosses into this trope. The reason why she is popular is because she is attractive, smart and charismatic. Also her twin sister Courtney.
  • Jerkass Façade: In the books, after Hanna becomes popular she often acts like this to hide the insecurities that she still has.
    • It turns out Courtney was actually a nice girl so when she took over her sister's life she was forced to act like this so no one would get suspicious of her, she only truly became a bitch towards her death because of some major stress in her life
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: The entire premise of the books.
  • Les Yay: Invoked by Alison to manipulate Emily.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Maya, Emily and Trista.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Zig-zagged. Spencer thinks she might be adopted and finds a woman who claims to be her birth mother, but then it turns out that her parents are hers, and the woman she thought was her mother was in fact her gestational surrogate trying to get more money from the Hastings. Also, in a more straight example, Spencer's dad is Alison and Courtney's father.
  • Mama Bear: Hanna's mom is rather protective of her. Even Darren lampshades this.
    • Emily who thinks the New A is still Ali is willing to forgive Ali if she apologizes, until the moment she gets texts threatening her new born daughter
  • Man Behind the Man: The girls first think A is Alison which turns out to be wrong because it is Mona. However, Mona knew nothing about Courtney and after her death a new A appeared. It is revealed to be Alison who was actually behind it this time and she was far more malicious as A than Mona had ever been since she killed Jenna and Ian.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Courtney proves to be very skilled at manipulating other people. She was good at getting her friends to tell her their secrets. Afterwards, Courtney would dangle their secrets in front of the other girls seemingly enjoying it. Not only that, Courtney had no problems with tricking people into thinking she was Alison.
    • Mona proves to be very skilled with this using her intelligence to plan the whole A scheme and befriend Hanna only for the purpose of taking her down later.
    • Topping those two is none other than Alison herself. She used her skills to manipulate the girls into believing false information when she became A even more than Mona. Ali then used her skills to convince the girls she was their friend because she was ultimately trying to kill them.
  • A Man Is Always Eager: Inverted. Hanna is the one pressuring Sean into sleeping with her. Sean joined a virginity club and plans on waiting until he is older.
  • May-December Romance: This series has several of these.
    • Aria and Ezra
    • Spencer and Wren
    • Darren and Ms. Marin
    • Aria and Xavier
    • Aria and Jason
    • Ian and Alison
  • The Nicknamer: Alison frequently gave nicknames to people. They included Jenna the Jerk, Snow White for Jenna as well, Hefty Hanna and Killer for Emily.
  • Nice Girl: Emily. She couldn't even bear to let Alison die in a fire, despite the fact that Alison had just tried to kill her and her friends.
  • Nice Guy: Sean.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Mona's Valley Girl act barely hides what is an obviously sharp, observant and intelligent mind.
  • Oh Crap: Ezra's reaction to finding out that Aria is a student in his English class. Understandable given how their situation could affect his career.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: Hanna is visited by Alison while she is in the hospital in a weird surreal dream-like state leaving us unsure where it was real or not but later it's revealed that Alison really did visit Hanna because she was still alive.
  • Posthumous Character: Ali.
    • It is revealed in Wanted that Ali hadn't died at all; it was Courtney.
  • Product Placement: In the books, which constantly name-drop designers, brands, and stores.
  • Really Gets Around: Trista has this reputation in the books.
    • Erin Bang Bang in Burned
  • Red Herring: First A was thought to be Ali, then Toby Cavanaugh, then Emily thought it was Maya and Spencer thought it was her sister Melissa. It was finally revealed to be Mona, but then a new A started threatening them.
    • The second A was revealed to be a man the girls hadn't even spoken to, but it turns out that was wrong, too. It was Ali.
    • Emily gets led far off track when she finds out that an Amish girl named Leah had gone missing, and Leah's boyfriend was Darren. This caused her to think that Darren had killed Leah and it wasn't Ali that died.
    • The third arc has the girls in each book assume someone who is connected to each of their dark secrets over the summer is the third A and then at the end it is revealed that it isn't
  • The Reveal: A lot of them, though plenty of aversions as well.
  • Revenge: This is Mona's primary motivation leading her to become A.
    • This is essentially the motive of all As
  • Rich Bitch: Hanna's mom in the books.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Emily has this with both Courtney and Alison at different points in the books.
    • She also has this with Kelsey in Ruthless.
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians: Emily fits this trope with more than a few girls ...
    • Emily and Maya, Emily and Trista, Emily and Alison, Emily and Courtney, Emily and Kelsey, Emily and Jordan.
  • Secret Diary: Alison wrote all of her friend's secrets in a diary before her death. Mona had found the diary among Alison's (actually Courtney at that time) things which is how she knew some of their secrets.
  • Secret Identity: A is the identity of the person who happens to be blackmailing the girls. In the books, the first A is Mona and the second one is Alison.
  • Secret Relationship: Aria and Ezra.
    • Ian and Alison
    • Also Emily and Maya, for a while.
  • Seemingly Wholesome '50s Girl: Emily's Amish cousins.
  • Shipper on Deck: Mike is a big supporter of his sister Aria with his best friend Noel Kahn and was thrilled when they finally started dating.
  • Stepford Suburbia: Rosewood.
  • Sticky Fingers: Hanna has a bad habit of shoplifting from stores with her friend Mona. This is one of the things that A blackmails her about.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Aria and Ezra.
    • And her dad Byron and his student Merdith.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Emily ended up pregnant after losing her virginity to Isaac, and ended up having a baby over the summer, this is one of the things that A tortures her about
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: A: I'm still here, bitches.
  • Trauma Conga Line: All four girls suffer this in Deadly after being arrested for Tabitha's murder.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Spencer has no memory of what happened the night that Alison disappeared. It was revealed Spencer had a similar episode to this when she was younger because she had ended up getting sick. Spencer had gotten into a fight with Alison over Ian. This caused Spencer to push Alison down before leaving the area. Spencer then repressed the memory because of the trauma. Spencer started to remember causing her to believe she may have killed Alison. It turned out that A was just messing with her before Spencer remembered the truth.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Toby
  • Twin Switch: Alison's twin sister Courtney had posed as Ali before being sent to the mental hospital, which made Courtney take over Ali's life and Ali to adopt Courtney's.
  • The Unfavorite: Spencer in her family and Hanna with her father and stepsister Kate.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: Hanna had a crush on Sean Ackard in seventh grade, fast forward four years and they are dating, Hanna wants to have sex with him and he just joined a Virginity Club and refuses to break his vow to have sex before marriage. After they break up this is how she sees it.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
    • Alison. Yes, she was already a jerk before her twin sister Courtney stole her identity but, still let's recap her life, shall we? throughout her childhood, her deranged twin sister, Courtney hated(a feeling that was initially one-sided) her and repeatedly expressed her desire to kill Alison and steal her life. Then, at seven years old Courtney tries to drown her telling Alison that " You don't deserve to be Ali. I do." ( that's when Alison begins to hate her right back, and frankly, I don't blame her) and then she has to deal with keeping her sister a secret, and also, living with the person who not only wants to be her, but who had also tried to kill her. Then Courtney steals her life. and gets her two best friends for who-knows-how-long to hate Alison. And so Alison is forced to go to insane asylums, repeatedly ignored for all her attempts to tell the truth. For at least 2 years . Its really no wonder she did what she did. Then it's revealed in Ali's Pretty Little Lies It was Ali who hated Courtney because she was more popular and constantly attacked her and forced her to pretend to be her, until Courtney snapped and tried to strangle her allowing her to frame Courtney as insane when she really wasn't, This lessens her woobie factor.
    • Courtney even more so. Alison would force her to trade places with her so she could be the more popular one. Alison grew even more jealous and told her parents that Courtney threatened to harm her. When Courtney tried to say that Alison was the one who said so (which she did) it only made her come off as the crazy one. Courtney was wrongly diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, and spent three years of her life in a mental hospital at the age of nine. Her parents sort of forgot about her and treated her like she was unwanted when she came home to visit, staying in a dinky guestroom and not being allowed outside. Her family even changed their last name from Day-DiLaurentis to DiLaurentis, because of the shame of having a child in a mental institution. Is it any wonder Courtney wanted to be free and have her old life back? Years later, after switching places with Alison, it turns out to be all for naught. They get into a fight one night. Courtney reveals that she just wants to have a sister again, that she misses the time where they loved each other. Alison reveals that she wants to kill Courtney but she can't. Then Alison's accomplice comes giving her motivation, Alison shoves her into a hole built for the gazebo, Courtney bangs her head on something hard, and she is buried alive.
  • Wicked Stepmother: This is subverted with Isabel because Hanna dislikes her mainly out of her jealously for her father finding a new family and preferring them to her.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Aria's father, as well as all the girls except Hanna at some point.
    • To be more specific — Wren and Ian both cheat on Melissa with Spencer. Emily cheats on Ben with Maya, then later cheats on Maya with Trista. Aria cheats on Sean with Ezra.
    • Spencer's father. He had an affair with Alison's mother and is actually Alison's father.
    • Ella's boyfriend, Xavier, tries to cheat on her with Aria, who does not take it well.

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