YMMV: Pretty Little Liars

  • Adaptation Displacement: The TV show has overtaken the book series in terms of popularity. When PLL is referenced somewhere, including on This Very Wiki, it is most likely that the author is referring to the show, which has a different plot and characters to the books.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Is Mona a Psycho Lesbian who is in love with Hanna and will do anything to get her away from her friends, including hurt her?
    • Kate genuinely wanted to be friends with Hanna before Hanna insulted her mom.
  • Arc Fatigue: Five seasons in and the main characters are no closer to figuring out A's true identity, motivations or goals than they were in the beginning. Season Six finally made some progress on it: A's name is Charles Di Laurentis and he's the long-lost sibling of Jason and Alison.
  • Base Breaker:
    • Alison is probably the biggest example (in the show's continuity at least; in the books she's pretty much irredeemable). Before the show began, she was unquestionably a highly manipulative Alpha Bitch whose destructive tendencies ruined a lot of people's lives, but there is a lingering question of whether the worst thing she did ( blind Jenna Marshall) was worth the worst thing that happened to her ( be forced to fake her death and go on the run for several years because otherwise she would surely be murdered). And now that she's returned, her limited screen-time has left a lot of fans torn between the interpretations that she's become a genuinely remorseful Jerkass Woobie (or even just a Woobie) or that she's just the same as before and is merely being limited in her depravity by the fact that there's still a crazy person trying to ruin her life, and that she'll pick up right where she left off once this "-A" thing finally blows over. Her divisiveness also informs fan opinions of characters like Mona, whose actions can suddenly look a lot better or a lot worse when put in perspective.
    • Nate was one before he even appeared when it was speculated that he may date Emily.
    • The nuclear level boredom introduced with the Ezria plotlines in Season 3 have turned the fandom into people who can't stand Ezria and people who will defend it to their death. The fact that Aria and Ezra aren't being targeted by A while the other three liars are constantly having their lives and love life screwed with isn't helping.
    • !Crazy Spencer: Some think that it's an outstanding acting performance while others find her incredibly irritating, or an incredible acting performance for what looked like an incoherent, stupid filler plot-line.
    • Maya was either a quirky, fabulous Manic Pixie Dream Girl whose relationship with Emily was endearing and genuine, or a flighty, self-involved party girl whom Emily could never love like she loved Alison.
    • The reveal of A's identity as Cece/Charlotte Di Laurentis has divided fans.
  • BLAM: Word of God has confirmed the ghost girl Ashley sees is an homage to the books and has nothing to do with any storyline.
  • BLAM Episode: "Shadow Play" puts everyone in Rosewood into a black and white detective movie in the 1940s. It happens because Spencer over-indulged on study-aid medications. The events of the episode are essentially All Just a Dream.
  • Broken Base: A's supposed true identity at the finale of season 5 has proven to already be quite divisive with the fanbase.
  • Complete Monster: Alison from the book series kills her twin sister in a fit of rage for simply switching places with her, kills Ian because of his relationship with Courtney, and later on kills Jenna simply because she knew the secret. Besides that, Alison pretends to be Ian in an IM conservation, stalks the girls as the second A, repeatedly blackmails them, and feeds them false information. She then tries to have someone else framed for her misdeeds. In the last book, when she appears, she manipulates Emily's feelings for her, pretends to be friends with Hanna, tries to steal Aria's boyfriend, and then attempts to kill the girls of the book. She also sends Hanna fake tickets and has her sent to a mental institution. Alison even stated in her letter that she was glad that she had killed Jenna.
    • Bethany Young. She pushed Toby's mother off of Radley's roof without any second thought and blamed Charles for it knowing people would believe her over him and then escaped after finding out that her dad was having an affair with Jessica Di Laurentis with the intent to kill her.
  • Counterpart Comparison: Charles Di Laurentis is essentially a Spear Counterpart to Courtney from the books, but way more dangerous and sinister. He's the long-lost child of the Di Laurentis family that nobody apart from his parents knew about and he was in Radley before breaking out. The only real difference between them (not counting their gender) is that he has a much larger role in the plot: The worst thing Courtney ever did was take over Alison's life (and she wasn't nearly as much of a bitch as Book!Alison). Charles is heading up the A scheme, kidnapped the main cast members, and subjected them to all manner of horrors.
  • Crack Ship: Fans have taken to shipping Darren/Hanna.
    • Lucas/Aria. It exists. Although they do have a minor interaction in season 3, so maybe it would count as Ships That Pass in the Night?
    • Lucas/Mona. Something of a Theme Pairing, revolves around the headcanon that they might have been friends due to be extreme outsiders before Mona was uplifted and became popular.
  • Creator's Pet: Aria, and more specifically, Marlene King has admitted to loving Ezra and Aria's relationship.
    • Toby, Easily Forgiven doesn't describe how quickly people were willing to trust him again.
  • Creepy Awesome: Jenna takes this up to eleven.
    • The theme song.
  • Crowning Momentof Awesome: Caleb's calling out Jenna in The Naked Truth.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: The show has a nasty habit of making somebody look unequivocally guilty of being A, and then revealing that they're either totally innocent, or guilty of something comparatively minor. It's starting to bite them in the ass five years in, with fans now casting suspicion on characters we are likely supposed to find likable or sympathetic. Parts of the fanbase still don't totally trust Toby, despite the fact that he's been on the straight and narrow since Season 3, and was only working with A in the first place to protect Spencer. And let's not even get started on how much it looked like Ezra was conclusively A in Season 4.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Ezra is this not just for the fanbase, but for the writers as well. They just seem to forget the part where Ezra had been with Alison when she was only fourteen, and intentionally set out to be with a fifteen-year-old girl and don't think it's worth mentioning solely because he isn't the Big Bad.
  • Ear Worm: The theme to the series.
  • Exact Words: It was stated early into the show's run that the revelation of A's identity would not be the same as it was in the books. A lot of fans took that to mean that A would be a different person. It turned out that it was the same person, and The Reveal played out pretty much the same, except that she survives the fall that kills her in the books. She also later gave lip service to having a slightly different motive, but see Fridge Horror for why it doesn't exactly hold up.
  • Foe Yay: Spencer and Mona, especially on Mona's side.
    • Mona pretty much started down the crazy path when Aria came back from Iceland and re-united Emily & Spencer with Hanna, forcing her attention away from Mona.
  • Fridge Brilliance:
    • In "Over My Dead Body" Jason says "I think my sister would want me here." We are made to assume he's talking about Ali but instead he is talking about Spencer since it was later revealed that he is her half-brother.
    • Remember Ali's alias, Vivian Darkbloom? Spencer notes that it's an anagram of the name Vladimir Nabokov, the author of the novel Lolita. (In which a character of the same name appears). Given The Reveal of "Now You See Me, Now You Don't", it makes perfect sense why she would choose that as her Secret Identity. She was using it to go see Ezra. It's the kind of reference that an expert on classic literature would appreciate.
  • Fridge Horror: In "UnmAsked", Mona says that she became A because Hanna was spending less time with her and more time with the other Liars, but the only time Hanna interacted with any of them immediately before the A scheme began was Spencer, when the two of them were talking in the mall. (It's explicitly stated that the four girls had been growing apart in the three years since Ali's death.)) Assuming that Mona didn't make that up just to mess with the Liars, that would mean that she went off the deep end just because she saw Hanna having a three minute chat session with Spencer.
    • Ezra is not "A". He was just doing research to write a book about Alison's disappearance. Now, keep in mind that he had a ton of surveillance equipment. He knew that someone was hurting Aria and her friends, and he could have helped at any time. He could have used that equipment to help and catch the person, but he didn't. It also turns out that he knew Alison and had a brief fling with her before she disappeared. She was fourteen, and Ezra would have been a senior in college. Which also means that he knew how old Aria was from the beginning, manipulated her, and decided to pursue a relationship with her only to get answers. "Jerk" doesn't even begin to describe it.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: On their first date, Samara tells Emily "Ghosts of first girlfriends make tough competition"
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: In "the Lady Killer" After killing Nate, Emily is given a Cooldown Hug by Caleb, and then Nate shoots Caleb the heartwarming part comes in when you realize that Emily was actually in Nate's shooting range so the only way that it could have been Caleb and not her who was shot was if Caleb pushed her out of the way. Awwwwwww
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: During her time on The Vampire Diaries, Bianca Lawson (Maya) played a character named Emily — and a character named Marin in Teen Wolf (like Hanna's last name)
    • Also in one episode Jenna asks if Jason looks the same
    • Paige's dad saying that Emily only made anchor because she's a lesbian, can make people laugh a few episodes later when we find out Paige in also a lesbian.
    • In the first episode, Emily had a boyfriend, Ben Cooke, before coming out. The actor who played him now plays a newborn gay vampire in the The Vampire Diaries Spin-Off The Originals. The show also features Claire Holt (Samara, Emily's third girlfriend) as straight Original Vampire(ss?) Rebekah.
  • Hollywood Homely:
    • Lucas. He's not made out to be unattractive when he's really attractive, he's not hidden behind glasses or terribly bad clothing, he's just a typical nerdy guy with 'no game'.
      • After a season of being generally Put on a Bus through 'home schooling', he comes back as a semi-regular guest star, and has apparently gone and got himself a fashion adviser.
    • Mona in the TV flashbacks also fits this. she looks exactly the same except with the glasses and pig tails, suddenly she's an unwanted, unpopular ugo.
    • We're expected to believe that pre-series Hannah was lonely and unpopular (prior to Alison befriending her) because she was overweight. Even at her heaviest, she's still played by the absolutely gorgeous Ashley Benson, still very wealthy, and if anything, was even kinder to people at the time than she is in the present day, if a little less confident. It strains credibility that everybody in Rosewood would be that shallow.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: Hanna is continually described as being fat a year before. However, in the Flashbacks she looks pretty much the same, just wearing frumpy clothing.
    • Completely averted eventually, with episode 13. She's wearing a fat suit.
  • Idiot Plot: Foolish as they are, The Liars really deserve to be run over the coals by A. See the Headscratchers page for examples of ways in which the Liars stupidity has contributed to their victimization — starting with the basic premise of the show. In order to cover up their involvement in an apparent prank gone wrong, four girls allow a blackmailer to push them into ever more illegal activities rather than admit their initial foolishness to the police.
  • Iron Woobie: Alison. Despite being nearly murdered and having to spend over two years on the run, she still keeps up her confident smile and has done whatever she can to help the girls
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Emily has 3 girlfriends In-Universe and feelings for Ali. She also has been paired with Hanna and Spencer out of universe and there is a popular crossover ship between her and Santana Lopez (played by Identical Stranger Naya Rivera). And some fans also pair her up with Toby (due to them having dated on the books) and Nathan.
    • Of the hetero variety, there's Hanna. She has been not only shipped with Caleb, but fans have also paired her with Lucas, Wren, Mona, Darren, and all of the Liars (particularly Aria), to name a few.
  • Les Yay: Believe it or not, this can happen in a show with a canon lesbian. Mostly between Emily and Hanna with Emily staying with the Marins in Season 2 and agreeing to be Hanna's Romeo.
    • Aria and Spencer are also rather close. In "Unmasked" Spencer even dubs them Team Sparia to the glee of shippers.
    • "Birds of A Feather" introduces Aria and Hanna, particularly where Aria comforts Hanna after Caleb breaks up with her.
      • Not to mention their moms. Ashley and Ella seemed to have something.
    • In-Universe Alison encourages this in her friendship with Emily as a way of manipulating her, but might have also caught real feelings for Emily.
    • And some fans have also picked up Hanna/Mona as well...
    • One-sided with Spencer and Alison, Spencer imagines herself slow-dancing with Ali and then later imagines herself on a date with her.
  • LGBT Fanbase: Thanks to Emily, the show has a huge lesbian following.
  • Magnificent Bitch: Allison and -A Mona.
  • Master of the Mixed Message: The writers originally claimed that Toby was the 'Moral Compass' of the show, then, once he is revealed as a member of the A-Team, they state that he did not join as a sort of double-agent, but after a dAngerous gAme, they stated that Toby was genuine when he said that he joined to protect Spencer and the rest of the girls. Well, which is it??
  • Memetic Mutation: "Bitch can see!"
    • Everybody, everything, everywhere knows Alison.
    • The moms are still locked in Ali's basement after five years.
  • Moe: Emily, to the point where Aria's Mom risks her Job for her when she sees her struggling with a test.
    • Mona has this quality at times Even after we learn she's -A, making her even more dangerous
  • Moral Event Horizon: Ezra being revealed to have hooked up with Allison when she was fourteen, and then deliberately set out to seduce Aria when she was 15 was this for many views. The show itself seems to be trying to go down the path that "at least he's not A", as if that somehow makes up for being a creepy stalker who makes a habit of targeting underage girls for sex.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Although the series stars four ridiculously gorgeous women, it has a significant number of gorgeous men as well, mostly serving as love interests for the Liars.
  • Narm: The cringe-making scene with Emily being chased at Homecoming and screaming for help. Admittedly Shay Mitchell, gorgeous beyond belief though she may be, has always been the least likely of the four leads to get praise for her acting, but good grief...
  • Never Live It Down: A lot of people have a serious problem with Paige trying to drown Emily in Season 1.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In "If These Dolls Could Talk", there is plenty of this to go around. Creepy doll hospital? Check. Creepy Chucky like voice leading the girls to an absolutely terrifying doll simulation of Alison's death, complete with a yellow shirt, blood, dirt and shovel? Check.
    • There's also the introduction of Seth. Seriously, everything that little boy said was way too creepy...
    • Also, Mona playing with her dolls in "Crazy", all accompanied with Creepy Monotone.
    • Aria's torture in "This is A Dark Ride"
  • Obvious Judas: Toby is on of the A's, there was always something about him...
  • Relationship Sue: People have pointed out that Paige is showing signs of it in Season 4.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Fans of Jason don't like Jake, because they were hoping he would get with Aria after her breakup with Ezra
  • Paranoia Fuel: Parents, there is a psycho-stalker out there with a grudge against your children. This person has knows all of your childrens' deepest, darkest secrets. This person has no name, no face, is willing to kill to get what he or she wants, and is able to be anywhere at anytime.
  • Periphery Demographic: Though the show is intended for teenagers, Emily's storylines have drawn a lot of adult lesbian and bisexual women to the show.
  • Poison Oak Epileptic Trees: Theories that any of the Liars is actually A usually come off this way, especially when one considers just what exactly would have to be wrong with somebody to put in the amount of dedication it would take to stalk, harass and threaten the three people closest to you for months on end, lie and play-act constantly and never break character or get caught even once. All four Liars have had scenes in which they react realistically to something A has done when nobody else is around, which, if that girl was A, would be either a Plot Hole or a symptom of a severe disassociative mental disorder.
  • The Scrappy: Nate is probably the one character who is universally disliked by the fanbase.
    • Also Byron, but he's not well liked on the show either.
    • In-Universe, Alison by everyone but the Liars, Ce Ce, Ezra, and their families
    • Talia, Emily's new girlfriend in Season 5 is someone that both shipping factions can agree that they hate.
  • Screwed by the Network: However it's not really the network's fault in this case. Due to the agreement signed by Disney when it bought what would become ABC Family, the name "Family" has to be kept in the name of the network. As a result, series with adult themes and sexuality, such as this series, are targeted regularly by parents groups and moral guardians who feel a show like this in inappropriate for a network called ABC Family (even though if Disney had its way, it would be airing on a network called XYZ, and the show is actually tame compared to some of the series airing on the main ABC network, such as Scandal). A double-whammy is that for much of its early history the series was dismissed by viewers who assumed that because it was made for a network called ABC Family, it must be "just for kids".
  • She Really Can Act: Troian Bellisario has recieved much well-deserved praise from the fanbase in her portrayal of Spencer during her Sanity Slippage in Season 3.
  • Shipping: should be no surprise that slash shipping is incredibly popular among the fandom. Many like pairing off the Liars, with Aria/Spencer (the Mama Bear s) and Hanna/Emily (the Like an Old Married Couple, esp after Emily moves in with Hanna's family) being the most common ship-mates, with Alison being the wildcard and having popular pairings with all of them.
    • Surprisingly Emily has some popular ships with other boys (esp Toby), despite being a canon lesbian.
  • Shipping Bed Death: the reaction a lot of the fanbase had when the controversial Ezra/Aria relationship went from it's forbidden sneaking-around phase to (mostly) out-in-the-open stage in season 3.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: There's Aria and Ezra vs Aria and Jason as well Emily/Alison vs Emily/Maya vs. Emily/Paige. Hanna and Spencer are mostly spared, however, there is some minor warring between the Lucas/Hanna and Caleb/Hanna fandoms, although Lucas much more minor role in later seasons combined with the very solid canon Caleb/Hanna relationship (which was rescued by Lucas) killed it off.
  • Squick: Something even the show acknowledges is that Cece being Charles/Charlotte means that in her earlier appearances when identity wasn't revealed, to get close to Jason, she willingly dated her own brother.
  • Tearjerker:
    • Spencer finding out that Toby is on the A Team.
    • Spencer in Radley Sanitarium, imagining her friends sitting around her, tearfully telling them that they can't count on her anymore.
    • Emily's devastated reaction when she learns Maya is dead.
    • Alison finding out that Shana betrayed her.
    • From the book series, Courtney being buried under Alison's name after her body is discovered, and her parents never finding out what truly happened to her.
    • The ending of "I'm A Good Girl, I Am" where the court finds Alison guilty of murder and the rest of the girls get arrested as accomplices.
    • A/ Cece/Charlotte's backstory. She was born male and wanted to be a girl, but her father wouldn't let her and threw her into Radley where she was framed for murder. Once she finally gets out, she accidentally almost kills Alison thinking she was Bethany and to top of it she found her mother, the one person who always cared for her dead and was forced to bury her.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: The character of Sara Harvey was never well-liked, so most fans were glad to see Emily punch her in "Game Over, Charles' after she was revealed to be Evil All Along
  • Testosterone Brigade: Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, Shay Mitchell, Sasha Pieterse, Tammin Sursok, Janel Parrish... you can see why this has a number of male fans for reasons besides plotting.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • The hard plastic masks of Alison (and later Melissa and Emily) that start appearing from Season 3 onward.
    • The opening of the series could count too; the first time you see it, it appears to be a girl getting dressed up, but it seems really off... then it becomes obvious very quick that it was a corpse being dolled up.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Sara "Shower" Harvey We should sympathize with this character for obvious reasons, but instead she is potentially the most loathed character in the entire PLL universe. Why? Six words: "I need to take a shower."
    • Of course "Game Over, Charles" revealed that she wasn't meant to be sympathetic and was Evil All Along
  • The Woobie: Toby. In the show, the poor boy is Blamed for a murder he didn't commit and then subsequently gets ragged on by the whole town. And even before that the one friend he had was ashamed to be seen with him in front of her friends for a long time, and he was coerced into a relationship with his stepsister that he certainly didn't want. Now his girlfriends' family doesn't want her seen with him because she's a person of interest in the same murder case. Every time the boy's on screen something bad is happening to him.
    • Spencer counts too. She's blamed for her best friend's murder, she apparently killed her sister's boyfriend, a Grade-A creep, in self defense - he was trying to throttle her - and the body's gone, and her family doesn't want her to see her new boyfriend/friend because they feel it looks bad in the public eye. Plus A seems to have a special place in his/her heart for ragging on Spencer because she is certainly in it the worst at this point.
    • Lucas, especially how he reacts after he reveals his major secret at the party thrown after Hanna comes home from hospital. It really shows that whilst Allison's relationships with the girls were manipulative and cruel, it was nothing compared to how they treated other people.
      • Lucas being part of any scene together with Hanna and Caleb as a couple might as well have "HIS HEART IS BREAKING" written in giant letters on screen every time it happens.
    • To a lesser degree, Ashley Marin, who has become aware of the fact that someone called A is threatening her daughter and wants nothing more than to help out, except that her daughter refuses to tell her anything and is angry with her for seeking help from the only other person she thinks can provide it. Admittedly, Hannah has an excellent reason to not want her mother in the loop, but still...
      • The "lesser degree" can be dropped in Season 4 considering she is framed for killing Darren Wilden, and the evidence is really stacked against her (No thanks to Hanna)
    • From the book verse, Jenna.The poor girl is brutally bullied at school ( they even gave her an apple, soaked in toilet(!)water for crying-out-loud!) all seemingly out of jealousy of her Snow White-ish beauty;sexually abused by her step-brother;when she finally fights back Jenna & Courtney plot to get Toby sent away by setting off fireworksshe gets blinded. and then she is killed. By Alison. Whose twin befriended Jenna.Jenna was killed by who she thought was her only friend.
    • TV Verse Jenna would probably be this too if she wasn't so freaking creepy: She got blinded in the above-mentioned fireworks accident and had someone try to set her on fire. Really, it would be hard not to feel sorry for her were it not for her creepiness and the fact that she comes off as kind of a bitch.
    • TV-Verse Spencer. Her parents favor her older sister Melissa, Melissa was The Black Swan and she wasn't really pregnant with Ian's baby her and her friends are constantly in danger, being nearly killed and framed for murder multiple times for two years straight (Spencer herself was almost killed at least two times throughout the series), and then we find out that Toby is on the "A Team", and Jason may be involved with the team as well. Even the adults in Rosewood can't be trusted. She can't even relax in a hot tub without freaking out about someone spying on them. She eventually had a mental breakdown and ended up in the Radley Sanitarium. Now she's gotten addicted to drugs to try and stay awake to track "A" and decode Alison's diary.
    • TV-Verse Alison is starting to look like one: She wants to see her friends again, but she has to stay in hiding because Ezra is out to kill her, all because they had a careless fling over Alison's summer break, which he is now trying to keep quiet. She may have been kind of a bitch, but the situation she's gotten herself into is pretty harsh.
    • Ezra isn't out to kill her, although he did look very guilty. He was writing a book about her disappearance and trying to solver her murder.
    • Charles/Charlotte Di Laurentis She was thrown in Radley by her own father at a young age most likely because he, at the time wanted to be a girl. While institutionalized s/he gets pinned with the murder of Marion Cavanaugh by real culprit Bethany. The only person who would visit her was her mother, and it seems like she was locked up in there for years until she finally gets a chance to be herself as Ce Ce Drake. Then, she accidentally almost kills her own sister Alison and watches as their mother unknowingly buries her alive.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Toby being on the A-Team was abandoned, as a few episodes later it was revealed that he was only on the team to protect Spencer. Spencer joining forces with Mona to get answers was scrapped quickly; it hardly lasted an entire episode. Ezra being "A" was a red-herring as well. He was just writing a book and was doing research.
    • It could be argued that the entire show has been wasted. The writers keep throwing around red-herrings and make almost everyone suspicious so they can pin whoever they want as being involved with A and Alison's murder, many mysteries have not been answered, and plotlines keep getting scrapped. It's evident as viewership is dropping and there are complaints on the Pretty Little Liars Facebook page about the show being painfully dragged out and not getting any answers.
  • What an Idiot: A sends the four a video of Ian and Alison together, but Ian promptly deletes it when he accesses Spencers computer. It never occurs to any of them that unless Ian hacked Spencer's e-mail account as well, then A's original e-mail still exists, video attachment and all.
    • What's more, he's able to access it because the PLL's decide to go turn it into the police "during lunch" and Spencer leaves it in a locker that he, as a school coach, has access to. And the characters knew this! Perhaps they should have gone directly to the police and accepted the consequences for missing first period. They repeat this mistake again when Emily is the only one who retains some crucial videos and leaves the laptop unlocked in her room, when she knows people can come and go as they like, as they're selling the house. They really should think about dropbox, emailing a copy to themselves on an account only they know about, thumb drives hidden in places nobody else knows about, etc.
    • Ezra didn't think this whole book publishing thing through. If anything about his and Aria's and (previously) Alison's relationship got out in the public, he would quickly end up in prison.
    • The new prize goes to Kenneth Di Laurentis. He has a daughter who claims to have been kidnapped as well as an ex-wife who was murdered and he seems to think it's a good idea to leave her home alone and go on overnight trips.