Pretty Little Liars is a television show based on 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. A year 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 TV series premiered in the summer of 2010 and as of 2014, is in its fifth season, with a sixth and seventh season on the way.
Absentee Actor: Only four regulars (no prizes for guessing which ones) have appeared in every episode so far.
Mona as well, in flashbacks before Alison went missing.
Spencer, in flashbacks, down to the giggles and glasses.
Adult Child: The majority of the adults on the show display the emotional maturity of the average teenager when it comes to handling money, relationships and family secrets, leading to some parental hypocrisy when they punish their teenage children for behavior as irresponsible as their own.
Caleb for Hanna, but he's a subversion. Once you move past the fact that most of his money comes from crime, he really isn't that bad a guy.
In the eyes of Rosewood Toby is this for Spencer.
All Men Are Perverts - sometimes it seems that Rosewood must be the perverts capital of America. The number of characters who lust after teenage girls is truly staggering - one is even a police officer and he dates a high school student without anyone raising an eyebrow. Many of the rest of the male characters have cheated on their partners.
She also winds up alone with Ian in the Season 1 finale.
Emily with Nate/Lyndon in the Season 3 mid-season finale.
Subverted in 311/312 with Emily and Paige.
Alpha Bitch: Cece, Kate, and early Season 1 Mona. Alison is a Deconstructed Character Archetype: her behavior gained her and her friends the disdain of 90% of the town, and she has multiple enemies in the A-team that want her dead. Her own friends have gotten fed up with her antics and are now against her. Heck, her own mom saw someone hit her over the head with a rock, and bury her alive to cover for that person! Talk about being disliked.
Jenna, who coerces her step-brother into an unwanted sexual relationship goes blind before the series starts and receives a lot of sympathy for it.
The Liars, themselves, who don't deserve the torment they get but did let an innocent boy take the fall for a felony they knew they were responsible for. And who stood by as Alison tortured half of Rosewood.
Attempted Rape: Ben tries to rape Emily, but Toby Cavanaugh saves her.
Author Appeal: The show contains a lot of lesbian characters and the producer Marlene King is an out lesbian.
Ezra, of a Non-Action Guy variety. He repeatedly refuses to change Noel Kahn's grade, even when Noel threatens to tell the principal about Ezra's relationship with Aria. He sits at his desk, stoic, while Noel tells the principal, ready to face the consequences with dignity ... but as it turns out, the principal doesn't believe Noel's story, since he has a history of cheating and lying.
Batman Gambit: In "Through Many Toils, Troubles, and Snares", the girls pull off a rather impressive one on A by pretending to fight and quarrel with each other over fake evidence of A's identity, leading A to approach Emily with a deal. It doesn't quite work out like they'd hoped, since they don't learn A's identity, but they do come away with A's cell phone. A is understandably disturbed by this development.
Alison fits this trope as well given that in both the books and the show she occasionally pursues romantic encounters with Emily, who is in love with her.
Averted in Emily's case because it was revealed that she kissed Nate/Lynden out of grief and emotional vulnerability rather than sexual attraction to him. Actually is bisexual in the books though.
Blackmail: The messages A sends contains information on the girls secrets and they threaten to reveal them if the girls do not comply with what A wants them to do.
Big Bad: Mona Vanderwaal in season 1 and season 2. Red Coat for season 3 and the first-half of season 4. Jessica Dilaurentis and Ezra Fitz for the second-half. Alison Dilaurentis became this near the end of season 5.
Big Eater: Hanna is forced to eat a whole box of giant cupcakes so A won't spill her secrets which makes her reminisce on her binge/purge days with Ali.
Blatant Lies: Mona's statement that Red Coat was always wearing an Alison mask, however in unmAsked, she was visited by Red Coat in Radley. It's very unlikely that they would have let someone wearing a mask that looks like a dead girl into a mental rehabilitation facility.
In the second season, Hanna threatens to sic her mother on Caleb's foster parent, claiming she's a lawyer with Dolce, Gabbana, and Leibowitz.
Book Dumb: Hanna. She once claimed that she couldn't even spell Louisiana, let alone know anything about its history.
Chekhov's Gun: Taken quite literally. It's how Aria kills Shana in Season 5.
Chekhov's Gunman: A truly impressive example: The leader of the A-Team has been in Rosewood since day one, teaching English at the local high school and maintaining an on-again off-again relationship with Aria.
Continuity Nod: "The First Secret" contains a scene from the pilot of Ali and Aria catching Byron cheating.
Conveyor Belt of Doom: In "Now You See Me, Now You Don't", Emily is put in a coffin and placed on one of these, with a giant saw at the end. The other Liars desperately try to free her, but she is only saved when (one) Redcoat turns off the power.
Creator Cameo: Sara Shepard, the books' author, appears as a substitute teacher for Ezra in the episode "Please Do Talk About Me When I'm Gone."
Dead All Along: Remember when Ali was missing? Oh yeah, she was actually dead. Buried under her parent's gazebo since the night of her alleged "disappearance". That is , until "A dAngerous gAme, when we find out she's really alive
Dead Person Conversation: note Since Alison was never dead, all of these actually happened, except for the one with Hanna at the therapist's office
Hanna has one with Alison while she is in the hospital, and then another in season two of the show at her therapist's encouragement. The latter is somewhat of a Crowning Moment Of Awesome for Hanna.
Emily has one of these with Alison in the second season after passing out.
Spencer has one with Alison while sleeping off some pain meds in the second season. Played with in that the scene gives us some reason to believe that Alison may have really been there.
Aria has one with Alison in the third season while hopped up on drugged tea.
Deadly Prank: The girls and Alison planned on using a firework to play a prank on Toby. It backfired, blinding Jenna in the process and leading her to harbor resentment towards the girls.
Demoted to Extra: Mike used to appear regularly with the Montgomeries, but now it seems that he's always staying with whatever parent Aria isn't with at the time.
Byron in Season 4 because Chad Lowe wanted to focus more on directing.
Determinator: Spencer. Despite so many of her theories about Alison's killer or A's identity turning out to be wrong she keeps on relentlessly pursuing every lead. Jenna once said that Spencer reminded her of a hungry terrier.
Distressed Damsel: As it's in the horror genre, the show frequently puts its heroines in dangerous situations. However,as the show progresses, the girls learn to take active roles in dangerous situations. For example, in the third season alone, Aria struggles to free herself when locked in a box with a corpse and partly succeeds. When Emily finds herself stranded in the woods with a flat tire, she chases the mysterious hooded figure responsible, rather than running from it. When Aria finds herself drugged and locked in her room, she breaks a hand mirror and wraps one of the shards in cloth to make a shiv.
Dirty Cop: Darren uses some questionable methods while he is investigating the murder of Alison although he doesn't do anything that is actually illegal. After Hanna gets arrested for shoplifting her mom starts a relationship with Darren to keep Hanna from getting in trouble. Thankfully she kicks him out of the house eventually. He usually targets Hanna for interrogation and harassed Emily in one episode. Garrett as well.
Disproportionate Retribution: The girls were friends with Alison during her heyday of blackmailing, torturing, and menacing everyone in Rosewood. For this, they are stalked, blackmailed and nearly killed by the A-team.
Drink Order: A non alcoholic example is the Liars' regular coffee order.
Emily drinks a straight Americano. Maya, Alison and Cece refer to her as "Americano" at a certain point in the series. Her simple taste is supposed to represent her unassuming nature, and also refer to the fact that she herself isn't straight (it was even lampshaded by Cece).
Artistic Aria always orders a soy Latte. Her vegan diet is described in the seires is yet another aspect of her general hipster-ness.
Girly Hanna always orders a Latte, sometimes with whipped cream (which goes back to her days as unpopular Hefty Hanna).
Overacheiver Spencer is known for her notorious Must Have Caffeine ways, and always orders a strong drink. Her dependence on caffeine is somewhat reperesntative of her tendency for prescription drugs abuse.
Dysfunctional Family: The Hastings family is always one upping each other. Love is about what you can achieve, not what you feel.
Eating the Eye Candy: When Hanna and Caleb are in the shower (he's bathing, she isn't) and he turns around, she likes what she sees...
False Friend: Mona is Hanna's best friend but only uses this to gather information on how to take the girls down as "A".
The Fashionista: Mona and Hanna. When Spencer's room was searched by the police Hanna and she mentions the cops taking some of her shoes, Hanna's immediate reaction is to ask if the Tory Burches might not have been confiscated too. This becomes something of a running gag when she later notices her therapist wearing Tory Burch boots too.
Film Noir: Spencer went into a coma and had this type of dream.
In the Halloween episode, the story that Ali tells the boy she and Hanna are babysitting will definitely jump out to anyone who has read the books, assuming the producers are going to keep that plotline intact.
Lucas accidentally showing Hanna an online betting site before he shows the pictures of her collecting trash during her community service.
Also Noel gives a speech about female bullying vs male bullying in "The Naked Truth"
The fact that Ezra maintained a secret relationship with Aria for multiple seasons is eerily telling once you learn that he also had a secret relationship with another plot-relevant teenage girl.
Halloween Special: One each for the second and third seasons. The second season episode was a standalone prelude episode, while the one in the third season picked up right after the mid-season finale.
Has a Type: Hanna's estranged father shows up in the fourth episode of the first season to talk to Hanna about her recent behavior. Also, he has a new fiancee who looks a lot like Hanna's mother, with a daughter who looks like Hanna.
Heel-Face Turn: Paige and Jason. Maybe Jenna too, but like everything else about her, it's hard to tell.
Heroic BSOD: Aria after Ezra's mom tells her that's she ruining his life.
Spencer when she finds out that her boyfriend Toby is part of the 'A'-team.
Emily after Maya is killed, and again after she kills Nate, who killed Maya.
Aria again in "Now You See Me, Now You Don't" after failing to rescue CeCe Drake from falling. It's brief though, as it quickly becomes apparent that CeCe is alive.
Heteronormative Crusader: Emily's mom. Her dad says "I'm not happy about this, either.", but he's clearly much more open and accepting of the situation than her mom, who cries in the pantry because Emily and Maya were playing footsy under the table at dinner. She tries to be okay with it for a while...
Hidden Villain: A is the main antagonist of the show as they constantly blackmail the girls and have even attempted to kill them on several occasions. Their identity still is a mystery. Mona was revealed to be working for somebody who is the real mastermind behind the whole A scheme.
Idiot Ball: Many problems that these girls face would be solved well ahead of time if they'd just approach things rationally or take common precautions — such as calling the police every now and then. Think we're exaggerating? When Aria's realized that Ezra's son has been abducted by someone posing as her, she merely follows the clue the kidnapper leaves for her rather than calling the police.
Dr. Anne Sullivan holds it as well in Season 2: Her office completely lacks any kind of security system. Granted, this is seemingly a problem the rest of the population of Rosewood has too, but it's especially striking when displayed by a psychologist who is responsible for confidential patient files.
Hanna may well have the Idiot wrecking ball for Season 4. Even though A has gleefully set up innocent people in the past repeatedly, she still steals her dad's (stolen) gun from her mom's closet, despite her mom telling her she didn't kill Wilden several times, and attempts to bury it. Cue police arresting her, and finally getting the very evidence needed to arrest her mom. And while we're at it the entire mess with Wilden can be traced back to her "subtly" telling him that she knew his secret and was going to tell everyone. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
Informed Ability: It's well known Spencer plays Field Hockey but we never actually see her in games like we do with Emily's swimming.
Intelligence Equals Isolation: Lucas suffers this badly. Apart from Hanna, he has literally no friends. Then Caleb comes along and they form something of a bromance.. then Caleb hooks up with Hanna, the girl Lucas is desperately in love with.
Insane Troll Logic: Mona claims that she started the A scheme as a means to get back at the girls, not for their treatment of her, but for the fact that Hannah was spending more time with them and less time with her, even though they'd barely hung out together at all after Alison's death and it was in fact the A scheme that brought them together again.Justified though, as it's implied that Mona was taking orders from someone else and her claims about her motivations are a lie.
Jail Bait: Ezra is a paedophile/hebephilile with an attraction to Jail Bait. He hooked up with Alison when she was at most fourteen years old. He then sets out to get Aria to fall for him, when she was only a year or two older than Ali was.
Jerkass: Alison definitely crosses into this trope. The reason why she is popular is because she is attractive, smart and charismatic.
The first part of Season 1 gives us Ezra/Aria/Noel, Sean/Hanna/Lucas, Melissa/Wren/Spencer and Ben/Emily/Maya. And in the case of the latter, when Ben is shortly taken out of the picture, we get him replaced by Alison, who Emily has trouble letting go since she had strong feelings for her.
Then, in the second part, we get Caleb/Hanna/Lucas and Paige/Emily/Maya (although she was Put on a Bus at the time, so the triangle was mainly fanon).
In the last episode, we get introduced to Aria/Ezra/Jackie, which is further developed in Season 2.
And in Season 2, we get Ezra/Aria/ Jason.
A also forced Emily into one of these with Samara and one of her friends.
Milestone Celebration: Downplayed, as the promos for "Miss Me x 100" make very little of the fact that it is the 100th episode compared to similar episodes of other shows. Instead, it mostly focuses on the upcoming confrontation between The Liars and Team Mona.
The Omniscient: A knows all of the main characters secrets and where they are at all times. Justified in that Mona works for someone else meaning there is more than one person involved in the A scheme.
One Head Taller: Noel Kahn who is played by 6'1 Brant Daugherty and Aria who is played by 5'2 Lucy Hale.
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. In the books, Alison really did visit Hanna because she was still alive.
Emily has one of these with Alison later after passing out from inhaling too much carbon monoxide. It's unclear as to whether or not Alison really IS alive or if Emily was just dreaming.
Emily was rescued by someone and the fact that she was dragged away rather than carried suggests her rescuer was female.
Spencer's "dream" is the most ambiguous. The only possible reason that doesn't make the viewer think that Ali was 100% alive is the fact that Spencer was on pain meds. The bottle was left open as was the door to her house.
Parental Betrayal: Aria's Dad, Byron was with Ali the night that she died and goes to great lengths to cover it up
Parental Neglect: Spencer's parents are often missing when she needs them the most. When they are home they tend to neglect her in favour of Melissa. They also allowed Ian to live in their house, despite Spencer being terrified by him. Toby and Jenna's parents are literally never seen and apparently don't mind their teenage daughter dating an older guy. Aria's parents generally mean well but didn't notice Mike's depression or Aria being terrorised by A or her having a relationship with her teacher.
Playing Gertrude: Nolan North is only 14 years older than Torrey Devitto and only 15 years older than Troian Bellisario, and 16 years older than Drew Van Acker
Political Correctness Gone Mad: Invoked by Paige's father. He claims that the only reason Emily won the coveted position of anchor on the swim team is because she is lesbian. Which is ironic because Paige is also a lesbian (though she was in the closet at that time).
Posthumous Character: Alison had been killed before the first episode and she only appears in flashbacks or dreams.
Product Placement: The Microsoft Kin phone, Aria used it and showed off its Facebook app.
Preppy Name: Aria Montgomery, Spencer Hastings, Maya St. Germaine, and Mona Vanderwal for the girls. Ezra Fitz, Byron Montgomery, and Holden Strauss for the guys. Also Samara, who is an actual prep student.
Put on a Bus: Caleb literally leaves on a bus near the end of season one, after writing a letter to Hanna which Mona is supposed to deliver. In the season one finale, he returns at the request of Lucas.
Put on a Bus to Hell: Maya is sent to juvie camp after Emily's mom finds marijuana in Maya's bag and lets Maya's parents know about this. She returned in the episode before the summer finale.
First, Spencer tried to save Mona from falling off a cliff.
Second, Hanna pulled Jenna out of a fire, then helped Spencer save her after she was nearly drowned. Note that Jenna's villainy is still ambiguous, making these mostly perceived examples on the part of the characters.
Third, Aria attempted to rescue CeCe Drake from falling when the rope she was attempting to use to escape snapped. Though it later turned out that CeCe wasn't a villain.
During one of Emily's flashbacks in the Remains of the A, there is a quick shot that resembles Edward Hopper's famous painting Nighthawks.
Several to Twin Peaks, including an FBI agent named Cooper and a video of Alison that closely resembles (in its content as well as its relevance to the plot) one of Laura Palmer (of whom Alison is arguably an expy).
Sex for Services: Hanna's mother engages in this to get her daughter out of shoplifting charges.
Signature Sound Effect: When the Liars' cell phones ring at the same time, 10 times out of 10, it's a text message from "A."
Sinister Silhouettes: Played with. A isn't actually shown in silhouette, but is made to look like it by wearing a black coat and black gloves anytime she appears.
Sinister Surveillance: A is pretty much always watching the girls as they have access to their phones, computers and seem to know what they are up to at any time.
Sixth Ranger Traitor: Mona pretends to get texts from "A" and bonds with the girls over it. It is later revealed that Mona is A
The Usurper: Spencer is going out for Academic Decathelon Captain after Bradley is mysteriously injured but little does she know she is running against the most unlikely candidate, Mona who wins by psyching Spencer out.
There Are No Therapists: Well there are therapists, they just tend to make things worse. Wren might actually be evil.
True Companions: The Liars are like this. They'll do anything to protect each other. In "Now You See Me, Now You Don't", Emily also makes it clear that this attitude extends to Alison, despite how she's treated them in the past.
"Eye Of The Beholder" has Jenna Marshall end up in the hospital when someone lures her to the DiLaurentis house with a text message and then sets it on fire. Fortunately, Hanna and Spencer save her.
"If These Dolls Could Talk" tops it. It starts with Spencer getting visited by Alison (which may or may not have been a dream) and also features Aria's parents threatening to send her to boarding school before Ezra gets fired and has sex with Aria. Also Spencer, Emily, and Hanna are ready to turn in Melissa when police show up arrest Garrett because Jenna gave Toby page 5 of the autopsy. Oh, and Jenna can now see.
"Single Fright Female" reveals Ezra has a son and Paige is most likely part of the A team. Plus the end shows that there is more than one A
"The Lady Killer" reveals that Toby Cavanaugh is part of the A-team, while Paige was the person he and Mona intended to set up as Maya's murderer, who actually was unsurprisingly Nate
"A dAngerous gAme" Toby AND Ali are alive. Mona makes a Heel-Face Turn and Aria and Ezra break up. Lastly, someone tries to kill the girls and Mona before Ali pulls them from the fire.
"Now You See Me, Now You Don't" tops them all. Cece Drake is Red Coat, Alison is alive, and Ezra is the leader of the A-Team. Alison is also apparently trying to protect the Liars from the A-Team.
"Taking This One to the Grave": Mona uncovers evidence suggesting that Alison is now working as A, then she is murdered.
Wham Shot: "Now You See Me, Now You Don't" gives a pretty jarring one. The leader of the A-team, also known as "Board Shorts", the guy who had a secret fling with Alison the summer before she was killed? It's Ezra.
Spencer gets from both Jason and the Liars in "Dead to Me"
Emily lets Spencer have it in "Close Encounters" for snooping on her meeting with Alison and scaring the latter off. By the next episode, Emily still is not speaking to her. As Emily is easily the nicest and most forgiving of the Liars, this should be taken as a sign that Spencer has really messed up.