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"Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead."
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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 (Troian Bellisario), Hanna (Ashley Benson), Aria (Lucy Hale), and Emily (Shay Mitchell) — 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 ended in 2017.


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    A to C 
  • Aborted Arc:
    • Ashley stealing the money from the bank is resolved all too easily in Season 1, never to be mentioned again.
    • Spencer stealing the Golden Orchid essay from Melissa in Season 1 is made out to be a big deal, before she soon confesses to her father. The fallout from her confession, and the essay itself, is never mentioned again.
    • In "The Perfect Storm," Veronica reveals to Spencer that she had been seeking treatment for cancer, something that her own husband didn't even know. Something like this would normally turn out to be a huge deal, but instead it is never mentioned again. Until season six, when it's revealed that the cancer came back.
    • "A Dangerous Game" was originally going to end with the cliffhanger that Spencer was on the A team, and seemingly working against the liars. This was to continue into Season 4, but the network panicked, and instead Spencer's stint on the A team was revealed, explained and wrapped up all in the Season 3 finale.
  • Absentee Actor: Only four regulars (no prizes for guessing which ones) have appeared in every episode.
  • Absolute Cleavage: Both Hanna and Emily have their moments with this trope. Quite a few moments, actually...
  • Academic Athlete: Emily and Spencer are both athletic and into sports and both are mentioned to have good grades.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the books Jenna was molested by Toby against her will, in the show she was the molester.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Spencer, Melissa and Mona (blonde), and Emily (redhead) are brunettes, and Hanna and Kate (brunettes) are blondes.
  • Adorkable:
    • Lucas
    • Mona as well, in flashbacks before Alison went missing. And, more tragically, when she retreats into her old self to cope with the events of "Farewell, My Lovely."
    • Spencer, in flashbacks, down to the giggles and glasses.
    • Paige and Emily, especially when they are together. Just how happy they look when they are together. Like when Paige actually gets Emily to smile and laugh just after watching a heartbreaking video of her deceased previous girlfriend. Their dorky Halloween costumes and banter too. And how can they not be? They BOTH have these big, beautiful, brown puppy eyes!
  • Accidental Murder:
    • Or accidental near-murder, to be precise. Alison's attempted murder was actually the result of CeCe/Charlotte trying to kill Bethany, who she thought was there to kill Jessica. Unfortunately, she mistook Alison for Bethany. Fortunately, Alison survived.
    • On their way to save Alison from Elliot, the girls accidentally hit him with their car.
    • Mona ends up being Charlotte's murderer entirely by accident.
  • 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.
  • Aesop Amnesia:
    • One would think that after essentially framing Alison and sending her to jail for a murder she didn't commit based on faulty evidence, that her friends would be more careful in rushing to conclusions about her. Yet, in the season seven premiere, they commit that exact mistake.
    • One would also think that they would learn that lying doesn't pay at some point. Just off of all the times their lies made things worse and/or just gave A more fuel.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: In "Over a Barrel." In a storage facility, air vents provided access to Mona's computer.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys.
    • 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.
    • Gender Flipped partially with Emily's feelings for Alison.
  • 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. And Emily's dad, a notable exception to this rule, gets Killed Off for Real.
  • Alone with the Psycho:
    • Spencer with Mona in A's Lair in "UnmAsked."
    • Spencer also winds up alone with Ian in the Season 1 finale.
    • Lucas in episode 2x15, although he's not really the psycho, the liars just think he is.
    • Emily with Nate/Lyndon in the Season 3 mid-season finale.
    • Subverted in 311/312 with Emily and Paige.
    • Alison with Charles/Charlotte DiLaurentis in the Season 6 summer finale.
    • Spencer with AD aka her unhinged long-lost twin sister Alex Drake in the series finale.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Spencer, Melissa, Jenna, Shana, Talia, Jackie. Played straight but then subverted with 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.
  • Alternate Continuity: A combination of Adaptation Decay and Adaptation Expansion.
  • Alternate Reality Episode: The majority of "Shadow Play" where the episode suddenly becomes black and white/film noir and set in the 1940s.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Hanna seems to be pretty interested in other girls and is also offended when Shana doesn't flirt with her.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Emily. Caleb.
    • Ambiguity removed for Emily in Season 4 when she describes her racial/ethnic background outright.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Everyone due to the nature of the show.
  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • There's much speculation over whether Alison was just manipulating Emily or actually has feelings for her and was an Armored Closet Gay. It turns out to be both.
    • Mona seems even less ambiguous toward Hanna.
  • Anti-Hero: Alison. The Liars can also be seen as this.
  • Apologetic Attacker:
    • Hanna kicks her boyfriend in the nuts by accident thinking he is A, then apologizes when he takes off his mask.
    • Also Hanna when she almost hit her boyfriend (again) with a pink furry lamp.
  • Ascended Extra: Many of the key characters from the show were killed off or played minor roles in the books including Mona, Ezra, Jenna, and Toby
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Alison. She might have been only 15 when she died, but she managed to make so many people hate her that just about every other supporting character in the show had a motive for her murder.
    • 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.
  • Back for the Finale: Ella, Ashley, Veronica, Pam, Wren and Byron.
  • Badass Bookworm:
    • 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. Lampshaded in 'Farewell, My Lovely' where he comments that since he has an English Degree, he can do anything.
    • Spencer. Not only the smartest liar, but also a Determinator. In season 5, she threatens "to slit Noel Kahn's face open" with a bit stick (ironically, she and Alison are the only Liars who never actually kill anyone)
  • Badass Longcoat: Red Coat is a villainous, girlier version of this trope.
  • Bait-and-Switch: See Time Skip below.
  • 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.
    • Spencer and Emily try a very similar trick in "Welcome to the Dollhouse."
    • Mona set up a brilliant one in season five, intended to identify and capture A, which instead backfired and ended in her own kidnapping and torture and Alison being framed for her murder.
  • Bed Trick: In "Choose or Lose" and "Til DeAth Do Us PArt" Spencer's Evil Twin Alex pretends to be her to sleep with Toby.
  • Berserk Button: Hanna goes off on Caleb for insulting Justin Bieber
    "You don't know the Biebs. You don't understand the Biebs ... or his hair."
  • Berserker Tears: Emily cries when she stabs Nate after a long chase through the lighthouse.
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • Emily had plenty of those, including some switcheroos. Maya was originally the Veronica to Ben's Betty. After Maya was Put On The Bus, she became the Betty to Paige's Veronica. Samara was the Veronica to Paige's Betty. by the time Ali returns to her life, she becomes a Veronica with some shades of Betty to Paige's Betty. And now, Talia is the Veronica to Paige's Betty.
    • Emily herself was the Betty to Paige's Archie and Shana's Veronica. we later find out she was the Veronica to Shana's Betty for Ali.
    • Jenna herself was Archie with Toby as a mildly incestuous Betty and Garrett as the Veronica. Later Garrett became the Betty to Shana's Veronica.
    • Aria with Ezra (Betty) and Jason (Veronica). Before his true colors were shown, early in season one, Noel was her Betty to Ezra's Veronica. Holden was also teased as a possible Betty to Ezra's Veronica, but it was eventually subverted, as they are Just Friends.
    • Teased to with Hanna as Archie to Caleb's Betty and Wren's Veronica. Originally, Sean was The Betty and Caleb was introduced as The Veronica.
    • For Melissa, Wren was Veronica and Ian was Betty. For Spencer, it was the other way around.
    • For Mona, Noel was Veronica and Mike was Betty.
    • Even Ashley Marin got to play Archie, with Pastor Ted as Betty and Jason as Veronica.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Many of the characters on this show are very attractive.
  • Bi the Way:
    • Maya is bisexual.
    • Averted in Emily's case because it was revealed that she kissed Nate/Lyndon out of grief and emotional vulnerability rather than sexual attraction to him, and was never actually attracted to Ben. Actually is bisexual in the books though.
    • Played straight with Jenna. Her relationship with Shana was a serious case of Suddenly Sexuality, after spending most of her screen time seducing men to Squick degrees.
  • 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: So far "A" has been the Big Bad of every single season, however, sometimes other characters are main antagonists to the Liars.
    • Season 1: Mona Vanderwaal is the Big Bad of the season, and "A", however, the Liars are also dealing with Ian, who is also a bit of a Big Bad of his own.
    • Season 2: Mona Vanderwaal takes the position completely during this season. The final scene however implies that she was the patsy to Alison's A/Red Coat.
    • Season 3: CeCe Drake is the Big Bad of the season, and "A", however, the Liars mostly deal with Red Coat ( Sara Harvey), who everyone believes is the main "A", and Mona and the "A-Team".
    • Season 4: CeCe Drake is the Big Bad of the season once again, and "A", however, during the first half of the season, the Liars are still dealing with Red Coat ( Sara Harvey) and during most of the second half they deal with Ezra and eventually Mrs. DiLaurentis. The Final Boss of the season is Shana.
    • Season 5: CeCe Drake takes the position completely for this season. However, during the first half we deal more with Mona, who starts her own army to go against Ali and the girls, and Alison herself, who the Liars believe is "A".
    • Season 6: CeCe Drake is the Big Bad, alongside Sara, for the first half. The Big Bad for the second half is unknown, but is referred to as "he" by the Liars. They're half-right - Mary Drake (CeCe's mother and the twin sister of Jessica DiLaurentis) is working with Elliott Rollins, Alison's therapist-turned-husband.
    • Season 7: AD, aka Alex Drake, Spencer's twin sister is the Big Bad of this season and the last half of the previous one.
  • Big Eater: Hanna. Was used against her by A when she was 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.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Mona in seasons 1 and 2... she was then revealed as A. Cece Drake.
  • 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.
  • Blind Alley: Seen in "Escape From New York" when Alison runs through the streets of NYC to escape "A".
  • Blind Seer: How does Jenna know so much, yet sees so little?
  • Blind Musician: Jenna, who plays the flute.
  • Book Dumb: Hanna. She once claimed that she couldn't even spell Louisiana, let alone know anything about its history. Surprisingly, it's revealed in season 5 she scored very high scores in her SATs.
  • Book-Ends: The series finale ends with Addison Derringer disappearing from a sleepover with her friends, that's a recreation of the opening of the pilot when Alison disappeared.
  • Brainy Brunette: Plenty - Lucas, Aria, Emily, Ezra, Mona, Caleb, Ella, Byron and the entire Hastings clan.
  • Breath-Holding Brat: Fifteen-year-old Alison often throws tantrums and holds her breath until her mother gives her what she wants, like agreeing to let her have a sleepover with her friends. She's so good at holding her breath for extended periods of time that this ability helps her survive being Buried Alive.
  • Brutal Honesty: Hanna is known for this.
    Hanna: "Let's face it, we blinded Jenna, we killed her girlfriend. She's back to punish us for it."
    Spencer: "Said with absolutely no tact but you're right."
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Toby is Spencer's protector but he is really much better at luring her into the arms of "A".
  • Bros Before Hoes: When Caleb and Spencer start dating they both ask Hanna and Toby if they're okay with it. They both give them their blessings, but it's clear there's still some unresolved feelings from both.
  • Brother–Sister Incest:
    • Melissa and Jason made out prior to the events of the series. It was later revealed that they share a father.
    • And let's not forget Jenna's forcing her stepbrother Toby into a sexual relationship.
    • CeCe and Jason, though Jason didn't know she was his sister. CeCe on the other hand... well, she is A. The season six finale reveals they're actually cousins, which is... slightly better, although given their mothers are identical twins and Jason already had a different father, not any different genetically.
  • Bury Your Gays:
    • May be specific for lesbians of color. Maya was killed off in the season 2 finale, and Shana was hacked off in season 5. So far, Emily is the only non-white gay character to survive, unless you count Talia who is bisexual but has only been in a few episodes so far.
    • As of the last couple of seasons we can add Sarah Harvey to the list. First white lesbian/bi character to be killed off on the show. Though there is some speculation over her sexuality as she was a member of the A team and was only seducing Emily on orders from A
  • Bus Crash: Maya who was last seen a few episodes earlier before it was revealed she was dead. Wren Kingston in a bizarre way in the series finale; we see him in flashbacks before Alex reveals she killed him and turned his ashes into a DIAMOND.
  • But Not Too Black: Maya.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Tanner. Until she needs to get information out of minors.
  • Canon Foreigner: Caleb, Paige, Garrett, Cece, Mary, Alex.
  • Casting Gag:
    • Ashley Benson character's mother is also named Ashley.
    • Ashley Marin once was in a murder-mystery soap, but last time, she was the victim.
    • Claire Holt as a girl who dates a swimmer.
    • So Lucy Hale's nemesis from Sorority Wars decided to get back at her by screwing her dad? That sounds about right.
    • Melissa is another character played by Torrey Devitto who's involved with shady, possibly criminal stuff after Nanny Carrie and Meredith Fell.
    • Andrea Parker played a character who found out she had an Evil Twin already on The Pretender, only on that show it was her fraternal twin brother Lyle, and not an identical twin sister.
  • Character Death: Ian, Maya, Garrett, Nate/Lyndon, Wilden, Jessica, Mona, Sara Harvey, Bethany, Noel, Wren. Subverted with Alison.
  • Cat Fight: Averted in "Farewell, My Lovely" (during the flashback showing Mona fighting Charlotte in the bell tower, until the former kills the latter).
  • Chekhov's Skill: Alison's flying lessons and her ability to hold her breath for a long time.
  • 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. Later subverted when it was revealed that Ezra was not -A, but only collecting information about Alison to write a book
    • Cece, who only shows up in season 3.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Several Rosewood High students have disappeared without explanation such as Ben and Sean. Subverted when it is revealed that Sean went to boarding school.
    • Alex, Spencer's boyfriend for around 5 episodes in Season 1, is never mentioned again after he and Spencer break up.
    • Samara and Emily break up midway through Season 2, after which Samara is immediately a distant memory.
    • Also Jake, Aria's martial arts instructor and love interest, is never mentioned again after Season 4.
    • This is subverted during "Game on Charles": Sara Harvey was mentioned only in "Who's in the Box," back in Season 4. She never even appeared on screen, and it seemed that she was forgotten, never to be brought up again.Then this episode reveals that Charles has had her trapped in the dollhouse for years, forcing her to wear the infamous yellow top that Ali wore the night she disappeared. It appears that Sara is going to have a big role to play in future episodes, definitely subverting this trope.
  • Clip Show: "A LiArs Guide To Rosewood," a recap episode of the first three seasons which aired before the season four premiere, narrated by Mona. Unlike the other specials, this is included on Netflix.
  • Coat, Hat, Mask: An A regular.
    • Alison used this too. but usually alternated the mask for Cool Shades. Same goes for Cece.
  • Les Collaborateurs: The A Team.
  • Cool Teacher: Ezra, Ella and Jason. Byron seems to be a college version of this.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • "The First Secret" contains a scene from the pilot of Ali and Aria catching Byron cheating.
    • A visual one in "Of Late I Think Of Rosewood": Charlotte's funeral is shot and blocked in a way that evokes Alison's memorial service from the pilot. The same church set is used, the girls sit in the same places, and when they stand outside afterwards, they're in the exact same spot and positions they were in when they received the first group "A" message.
  • 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.
  • Couch Gag: Starting with "Of Late I Think of Rosewood," the title sequence's final zoom-in rotates among the five girls rather than being Aria each time, with all of them doing it together for the Series Finale.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: In 'Talented Mr.Rollins'. If Aria would've put the key in the right lamp, then Archer wouldn't have had to kidnap Alison from the asylum and she wouldn't have run away from him which would lead to his demise when the Liars hit him with Lucas' car while he was chasing her.
  • 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."
    • She also appeared as a news reporter in "I'm A Good Girl, I am."
  • Create Your Own Villain:
    • Emily ultimately admits that they made Mona the way she is.
    • AD was also a demon of their own creation since if they hadn't let Alison manipulate them into giving Cece an early release, Mona wouldn't have accidentally killed her.
    • A lot of their villains actually were normal people until Alison and the liars came into their lives. A lot of their struggles were brought on by their own selves.
      • Ian was a creep but not a murderer. It was Spencer's murder accusations that drove him to try and murder her
      • It was the Jenna thing that caused Shana to switch sides and try to kill Alison\
    • Jenna is another example with episode 1x02 serving as her villainous Origins Episode. If she is indeed a villain. It's hard to tell.
  • Creepy Child:
    • Seth in "If These Dolls Could Talk".
    • Also Alice in "This Is A Dark Ride"
  • Creepy Doll: The dolls that A sends to the girls, and the dolls in the doll shop especially the one resembling Alison near the end of "If These Dolls Could Talk".
  • Curse Cut Short:
    • In "It's Alive" Hanna says "This is bull—", only to be cut off by her mom.
    • In "Hit and Run, Run, Run," upon seeing Jenna back in Rosewood:
      Hanna: Holy...
      Aria: Shhhh!

    D to F 
  • Dark Secret: The main characters and many of the recurring characters have skeletons in their closet.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • "The First Secret" is pretty much all about Alison, as is "A is for Answers".
    • "Game Over, Charles" is basically this for Charles/Charlotte DiLaurentis/CeCe Drake.
    • "Til DeAth Do Us PArt", the Series Finale, is this for Alex Drake.
  • 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.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mainly Spencer, Caleb and Lucas, but Aria definitely has her moments. Alison takes this trope to very mean territories.
  • Dead Person Conversation: note 
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Maya who had lived in the books was killed off in the season 2 finale.
    • Wilden, who is still alive in the books, was found dead in the Season 4 premiere.
    • Noel Kahn, who ends up Aria's main love interest and husband in the books, Took a Level in Jerkass or several, and accidentally self-decapitated in the season 7 mid season finale "The DArkest Night".
    • Wren, who in the books was Spencer's main LI, is killed offscreen and turned into a diamond in the Series Finale.
    • Inverted with Mona, who fell to her death in the books, but survived the same fall in the Season 2 finale.
    • Inverted with Toby, who was killed off and a villain in the books, but innocent and Spencer's main LI in the series.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Alison may either one of the Alpha Bitches or an exaggeration. She made so many enemies that she nearly died because of her actions, and her only friends seem to be fed up with her now.
  • Defective Detective: All of them. Garrett and Holbrook have a thing for manipulative, underage girls, Wilden is a first-class Jerkass, with no apparent redeeming qualities, and Toby is more than a little messed up.
  • 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.
    • A regular in the first two seasons, Holly Marie Combs appears as a special guest star in several Season 5 episodes, like "I'm a Good Girl, I Am."
    • Laura Leighton, a regular in the first six seasons, got a demotion in season seven.
  • Derailing Love Interests: Maya who was suddenly a lot ruder in her return in season 2. Done so the writers could make way for Paige as the new love interest.
  • 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. When Emily and Hanna are locked in the Kahn cabin, Emily takes initiative and breaks the window, allowing them to escape.
  • 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 and Holbrook as well.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • Averted in the case of Aria in the show, as her father refuses to leave the family when he and Ella separate.
    • Tom Marin who has not been mentioned for some time.
    • Later Peter Hastings, who moves out after a split with his wife, Veronica, but is still referenced sometimes.
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted. Mona falls off Lookout Point in a fight with Spencer, but she lives.
  • 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.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: In a flashback, Emily is very distracted by Jenna's sexy Lady Gaga outfit in the Halloween party.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male:
    • Averted. Jenna doing this to Toby is viewed as being a very horrible thing to do someone.
    • Discussed in regards to Jason and his transgender sister, later revealed to be his cousin Cece Drake.
    • Sadly, this was played straight, or at least ignored, with Toby and Alex Drake, who pretended to be Spencer to sleep with him.
  • Dress Hits Floor: Happens in "Never Letting Go" when Samara is helping Emily adjust her dress for the show. Once she's done, Emily takes off the dress in this way, which prompts Samara to be distracted at Emily wearing nothing but black heels.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Hanna wears a red coat to trick Spencer.
  • 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 series 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).
    • Overachiever Spencer is known for her notorious Must Have Caffeine ways, and always orders a strong drink. Her dependence on caffeine is somewhat representative of her tendency for prescription drugs abuse.
  • Driving Question:
    • Who is A? note 
    • Who killed Alison DiLaurentis? note 
    • As of "Taking This One to the Grave": Who killed Mona Vanderwaal?? note 
    • As of "Welcome to the Dollhouse": Who is Charles? note 
    • As of "Hush, Hush, Little Liars": Who is AD? [[note]] Spencer’s evil twin sister Alex Drake.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The Hastings family is always one-upping each other, which is frequently lampshaded by Spencer.
    • The DiLaurentis family also fits the bill, with a Magnificent Bastard mother and daughter, an Un Favourite son from a secret affair, and an absent father.
  • Eating the Eye Candy:
    • In "The Bad Seed" when Hanna and Caleb are in the shower (he's bathing, she isn't) and he turns around, she sneaks a peek and likes what she sees.
    • In "It Happened 'That Night" Toby showers at Spencer's room because the plumbing at the loft he moved into is broken. When he comes into her room wearing only a towel Spencer starts ogling him and tells him she can hardly remember why she had said she wanted to wait to have sex.
    • In "Never Letting Go" Samara seems to be nervously enjoying the view of Emily as her Dress Hitsfloor and she starts getting dressed in front of her.y enjoying the view of Emily getting dressed in front of her.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • While the Liars started to hate Aria after they found out that she was working with AD, Ezra was the only person out of everyone in the group to forgive her for this and he felt guilty that because of him, Aria had to go through all of this just to get the police report she made against him because of his actions in season 4.
    • Alison too. The liars completely forgot how horrible she'd been to them and everyone else before she disappeared and snapped right back to being her minions the second she 'came back to life'.
    • The Main Romantic Interests/Liars get away with murder themselves (sometimes literally) in their relationships. Breaches of trust and the like are for the most part ignored or glossed over, and the biggest betrayals are swept under the rug and never mentioned again. The only person this does not apply to is Paige, who's penalized and villainized by the fandom and in universe for every single mistake she makes.
  • Elevator Going Down: In "Hit and Run, Run, Run" Spencer and Marcos begin making out in the elevator and almost have sex when Spencer catches her reflection in the wall she breaks away from him and calls everything to a halt.
  • Evil All Along: Mona, Nate/Lyndon, CeCe, Sara, Elliot.
  • Evil Former Friend: Mona was Hanna's best friend and has turned into her worst nemesis!
  • Exact Words: Word of God promised in "A dAngerous gAme" the viewers would find out who killed Alison. It turned out that no one killed her because she was rescued from the grave.
  • Expy: Alison, of Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks.
  • Fair Cop:
    • Darren and Garrett
    • Better examples would be Holbrook and Tanner.
    • Toby becomes one by season 5.
  • False Friend: Mona is Hanna's best friend but only uses this to gather information on how to take the girls down as "A".
  • Famous Last Words: "The happiest." Yvonne, who comes out of her medically induced coma long enough to marry Toby and then promptly dies.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Hanna in a t-shirt and panties getting sprayed with water, sign me up! Wait, she's being held captive and her kidnapper is about to use a live cattle prod on her... ICK.
    • In "Game On, Charles" has all the Liars wearing nothing by Modesty Bedsheet for an entire scene because A kidnapped them, gassed them and took all their clothes while they were unconscious. Emily is even initially terrified of the possibility of A having harvested their organs.
    • For Spencer / Caleb shippers some of their scenes in season 7 turned into this when it was revealed the Alex Drake was impersonating Spencer in some scenes, including both times they had sex.
  • 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. Aria is an indie version of this trope.
  • Film Noir: Spencer went into a coma and had this type of dream.
  • Finding Judas: Toby? Come on! We all felt sorry for you.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Fiery Redhead: Ashley Marin, Rosewood's top Mama Bear.
  • Flirty Stepsiblings: One-sided with Jenna and Toby.
  • Flying Under the Gaydar: Emily briefly flirted with Spencer's College-applicant helper in order to get free tips after her swimming scholarship fell through. Spencer called her out on it.
    Spencer: I'll tell you something I'm not confused about: The fact that this entire weekend you have conveniently forgotten to mention that you're gay.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • 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.
    • All of Alison's "dream" appearances.
    • In retrospect, CeCe's comment about how "People either love you, or they don't remember your name" was foreshadowing for the ultimate reveal of Season 6A: "Ce Ce" is really Charles DiLaurentis, the long lost brother of Alison and Jason, who was transgender and eventually transitioned to become Charlotte. After nearly drowning Alison (by accident), she was sent off to Radley and her parents convinced Alison and Jason that she never existed. In other words, she'd know all about not having people remember your name.
  • For the Lulz: By CeCe/Charlotte's own admission, the A scheme was ultimately little more than a game for her amusement. She even admits that she briefly considered stopping, but "the game" was too addictive to quit.
  • Four-Girl Ensemble: Hanna is the sexy one, Emily is the sweet one, Aria is the snarky one and Spencer is the lancing Wild Card / Team Mom. However, each one of the girls has shades of a different role. Hanna is The Ditz, Emily is boyish one, Spencer is a Deadpan Snarker with mild shades of Fille Fatale and Aria is very preoccupied with self-searching and artsy expression.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Aria (Melancholic), Hanna (Sanguine), Spencer (Choleric), Emily (Phlegmatic).
    • Also goes for the four love interest: Ezra (Sanguine), Caleb (Phlegmatic), Toby (Melancholic) and Paige (Choleric).
  • Freudian Slip:
    • There's one when Emily calls Paige in season 5x07. A Freudian slip that reveals that she's not over Paige yet.
    Emily: Hey Paige, it's me. I heard what happened to you in the locker room. I should've called you sooner. I'm sorry if this was because of what you told me about Mona. Which I think it was. I'm sorry I put you in the middle of all this. If you need anything please call me. Listen, even if you don't need anything just call, please. Ok. I love... I mean, I'd love to hear from you. I hope you're alright. Bye.
  • Fundraiser Carnival: A variation appears in place of Foxy.

    G to I 
  • Gender Flip: Jenna and Toby's roles are switched.
  • Genre Savvy: Noel is this in "Wrath Of Kahn" Which is unfortunate for Hanna when she tries to get him with a drugged beer. But unfortunately for him, she has a Plan B.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Taken at face value, the show's sexual content is no more extreme than that seen on some mainstream networks and is outright tame compared to similar teen-oriented series such as Skins. Where this trope is applicable is the fact that ABC Family, even after changing their name to Freeform, generally airs family-targeting programming despite producing original shows that are anything but.
  • Girl Posse:
    • The girls were this to Alison before her death. Often lampshaded.
    • She creates herself a new posse after returning to Rosewood.
  • The Glasses Gotta Go: crucial point of Mona's makeover from Loser Mona to It Girl.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Melissa and Spencer. Using the word war is only a slight exaggeration in this case.
  • Good Stepmother: In the final season, Spencer learns that her mother's actually Mary Drake, making Veronica her stepmother. The two always had a good relationship, and once Spencer gets over the shock, that doesn't change.
  • 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.
    • Spencer has a specific default: Dating What Daddy Hates. They also tend to be Tall, Dark, and Handsome and very secretive.
    • As Paige once put it, Emily likes ballsy women. See inverted Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl below.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Addison Derringer in the final season seems to have been introduced just to become this; she's essentially teenage Alison with all her negative qualities jacked Up to Eleven. She is a thoroughly cruel, manipulative bully, who for bonus points is also openly homophobic and casually disrespectful towards adults.
    • Alison DiLaurentis herself. She bullied, blackmailed, extorted and committed hate crimes against adults, fellow teens and even her own friends and family. The whole reason the show can even go on for as long as it has is because she was so evil and so horrible to so many people that literally everyone was a suspect in her murder at some point.
  • Heartbreak and Ice Cream: In "There's No Place Like Homecoming", when Aria is planning on not going to homecoming, her friends ask her what she will do instead. Her plans involve reading gossip magazines and eating copious amounts of Chunky Monkey.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: CeCe Drake's fate. It's revealed that Mona killed CeCe, instead of her committing suicide.
  • 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.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Lucas and in flashbacks Mona, who are both Type 2. Spencer used to be one too, according to flashbacks.
  • Hollywood Dateless: Rosewood's hot divorcees - Ella, Ashley and Pastor Ted.
  • Homage:
    • The season 2 finale UnmAsked is one giant Homage to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, complete with a creepy motel, a taxidermist motelier, and even an (almost) Deathly Bath. Even mother makes a reference!
    • The climatic bell-tower chase between Spencer and Ian in the season 1 finale is an homage to Hitchcock's Vertigo.
    • There's a Shout-Out in Season 3: Emily takes a job at the Rear Window Brewery. Also, in "How the A Stole Christmas," the way in which Toby keeps a lookout for Hanna and Spencer is a homage to Rear Window.
  • Honey Trap: After deciding she was A, Emily was sent to flirt with Alison in order to distract her from what the other girls were up to. She failed - Emily Fields is no match to a Manipulative Bastard like Alison DiLaurentis.
  • Hospital Hottie: Wren.
  • Hot Teacher: Aria's main Love Interest Ezra is one. Meredith also counts in season 3.
  • How We Got Here:
    • "Unbridled" begins with Spencer heading through a forest at night in a wedding dress; she falls over, gets up and suddenly stops as a sharp sound is heard, before we go back 48 hours. Spencer and the other three are taking part in a fashion show and modeling wedding dresses - she heads out to follow someone before it's her turn to take the catwalk, and she catches her veil in a beartrap. But it doesn't mean she doesn't wind up suffering...
    • Both "The Lady Killer" and "Taking This One To The Grave" begin in the aftermath of a crime; in the former Hanna is in tears as she and the others see someone taken in an ambulance, in the latter all the Liars (except Spencer) are outside a house that's a crime scene and receive a message from A saying "It's all your fault." The patient is Caleb, who took a bullet rescuing Emily from Nate. In the latter case the "it" is Mona's savage murder in her own home; Spencer isn't on the scene because she was arrested for killing Bethany Young.
    • "Game Over, Charles" starts with all the Liars on the roof of a building, trying to keep someone from jumping off. The someone is Ce Ce/Charles, who chooses to not jump.
    • "Tick-Tock, Bitches" kicks off with all the Liars - except Hanna, who[[noteapparently is still in A.D.'s clutches - digging... a grave for... somebody. And by the episode it still hasn't revealed who it is.]]
  • 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.
    • Maybe that's not the best example. They know that if they follow along, the captured person will be returned safely. If they called the police, then the kidnapped person could be hurt. Actually, calling the police in kidnappings is often a challenge, because the police may want to put capturing the perps ahead of the safe return of the victim. Also, remember that A usually had leverage in the form of evidence against the girls like a videotape of them disposing of a body( although simply a video of people digging shouldn't be all that incriminating in real life)
    • To be fair, the girls know there are at least two corrupt cops on the force, and the newer ones don't seem to be much more professional either. When one of your options is Wilden, following A's instructions suddenly looks like the lesser of two evils.
    • 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!.
    • She does this again in the seventh season, when she kidnaps Noel. While she is suffering from PTSD, it doesn't change the fact that it was a dumb idea. Especially since a) she was ignoring calls from her friends, who were already at work to find proof that Noel was after them, and b) she was committing a crime and knew it. Long story short: Noel escapes with evidence of what she did.
    • Emily holds onto the idiot ball for so long it nearly fuses with her hand. She believes Alison, a girl who -as her best friend and girlfriend have both pointed out- is known for lying and manipulating people, her especially, and is definitely manipulating her again now just like she used to when they were younger and a girl who has been faking her death and leaving them to deal with the mess she'd made in the meantime. She implicitly trusts this person over the two people who have made it their life's work to protect her and try and keep her alive. A person who is literally asking her to lie for them. She then proceeds her own life as well as that of her girlfriend, friends and family by going toe to toe against an omniscient omnipresent villain who's made several actual attempts on all of their lives and who has already ruined her plans for the future by crippling her once. She does that because she believes this person will tell her who A is in return. Spoiler alert: she doesn't know either, and now Emily and her friends are saddled with her and come no closer to finding out who the main villain is than they did before.
  • 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.
    • Same goes for Aria's writing skills. The show features her singing and her artistic ventures - photography and sculpture, but not writing, which is supposed to be her number one passion.
    • In Season 5, Emily displays major dancing ability and was said to take lessons from an early age... but it is never seen on the show.
  • 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.
    • Mona was also a victim of this in her Loser Mona days.
    • Part of the reason that Hanna is Obfuscating Stupidity. Caleb has a quote in late season one which lampshades it
Caleb: The rich girls steal, the pretty girls lie, the smart girls play dumb, and the dumb girls spend their days trying to be all of the above.
  • In the Hood: The infamous black hoodie A wears.
  • 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.
  • Ironic Echo: When Alison returns, she claims she was kidnapped and the Liars helped rescue her. Eventually, the Liars really are kidnapped and Alison helps rescue them.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: This happens in pretty much every episode via bullying texts/emails/random notes blowing in the wind from the evil "A".
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    J to L 
  • Jail Bait: Ezra is attracted to Aria who is sixteen, and also his student. Although sixteen is the age of consent in most states in America, and it is not clear where the show takes place(actually takes place in Pennsylvania, which is what the PA after Rosewood stands for, so the age is 16), his being her teacher makes the relationship quite illegal. He also chatted with Alison in the past, and may have been attracted to her, although both Alison and Aria did lie and tell Ezra that they were college students and older then they actually were. It should be noted that this does not make him a Pedophile, as Pedophilia is an attraction to children that are in their preteen years, nor does this make him a Hebephile, which is an attraction to young teens that are still prepubescent. Allison was at either fifteen or sixteen, and Aria was either sixteen or seventeen. The encounter with Allison would have been statutory rape had they had sex.
  • Jerkass: Alison definitely crosses into this trope. The reason why she is popular is because she is attractive, smart and charismatic.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: And yet she seems to really care for the four girls. Her appearances in the present that suggest she may be alive seem to indicate she Took a Level in Kindness. She did.
  • Jerk Jock: Noel and Ben. Subverted, though not fully, with Sean.
  • Just Friends: Hanna and Lucas.
  • Last-Second Word Swap:
    • When Emily first meets Samara at a cafe.
    Samara: Did Paige not tell you I'd be here?
    Emily: No, she did, I just didn't expect you to be so... punctual.
  • Latex Perfection: for Mona disguised as Melissa in the finale.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    Alison (to the other Liars) near the end of the Grand Finale: For some reason, this feels like the end of the something.
  • Les Yay: Invoked by Alison, in order to manipulate Emily.
  • Lethal Chef: Emily's empanadas.
  • Let's Wait a While: Spencer and Toby decide on this at the start of Season 3. Upon Toby seeing spetting out of the shower shirtless she starts having doubts about waiting. They Do later in that season in "The Lady Killer."
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Two duos with the four liars. Spencer and Aria are dark, Hanna and Emily are light.
    • Hanna is the light to Mona's dark.
    • Emily is the light to Maya's and Talia's dark.
    • Paige is the light to Shana's dark.
  • Love Triangle: Oh, where do we start - almost all characters were involved in at least one.
    • For Aria, the first part of Season 1 had Ezra/Aria/Noel. In the last episode of the season, we get introduced to Aria/Ezra/Jackie, which is further developed in Season 2. Season two also had Ezra/Aria/Jason. We later got Ezra/Aria/Wesley, Maggie/Ezra/Aria, a downplayed Holden/Aria/Ezra, Jake/Aria/Ezra and now Aria/Andrew/Ezra, because she simply can't get over that guy, no matter how many times they break up or how illegal it is.
    • For Hanna, it started out with Sean/Hanna/Lucas, then there was Caleb/Hanna/Lucas. After Caleb was Put on a Bus to spin-off series-ville, Hanna attempted to deal by directing her feelings towards Wren, Holbrook and Travis, while still harboring feelings for Caleb. Mona's possible romantic feelings for Hanna are so far still in the realms of Fanon.
    • Emily is probably in the triangle lead. First there was Ben/Emily/Maya, followed by Paige/Emily/Maya (with Samara thrown in the mix later on in the season). Then A pushes Emily into creating Samara/Emily/Quinn. By the time Emily and Paige got back together, we got ourselves some Emily/Paige/Shana, as well as a very creepy post-mortem Emily/Maya/ Nate/Lyndon. In season 5, Alison returned and the Emily/Ali/Paige triangle began. Late season 5 brought some light Talia/Emily/Paige, with Talia chasing Emily who was on the last legs of a long distance relationship with Paige, until Paige decided to ask for some space. And the writers didn't think that was enough and come season seven we were graced with Sabrina/Emily/Paige, which caused Alison to feel threatened and when Emily dumped Sabrina for Paige, Alison decided to try and jump in and we would've got Alison/Emily/Paige, had Emily not shut that down immediately and gone after Paige.
    • Spencer had three main ones, all had some serious ick factor - Melissa/Ian/Spencer, Melissa/Wren/Spencer and Jenna/Toby/Spencer. She also gets into one in season 6 with Caleb and Hanna.
    • Ali added some spice to that, seeing how it was really Melissa/Ian[[Spoiler:/Ali]]/Spencer all along. Fanon later insisted that Ali/Ezra/Aria was also a thing.
    • Mona had Jenna/Noel/Mona.
    • Even the parents got in on the action - we had Ella/Byron/Meredith, Ted/Ashley/Wilden, Ashley/Tom/Isabel, Veronica/Peter/Jessica and more recently Ted/Ashley/Jason.
  • Lipstick and Load Montage: The opening credits, and it's a corpse that is dolled-up.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Emily, Samara, Maya, (possibly) Alison and Talia. Averted with Paige in the first season, but played straight in later seasons.

    M to O 
  • Mama Bear:
    • Ashley Marin is the most radical example of this trope. There seems to be no line she won't cross to protect Hanna.
    • Pam Fields defends her daughter from Paige's father. At the time, she hadn't really changed her views on homosexuality, she just had a reaction to someone hurting her daughter.
    • Ella is like this mainly towards Mike, thinking Aria can take care of herself.
  • Love-Interest Traitor:
    • Toby is one of A's accomplices and Spencer's greatest love.
    • Topped by the reveal that Ezra, Aria's love, is A-ish.
    • A more minor example, though rather heartbreaking example was when Hanna found out in season 1 that Caleb hooked up with only because Jenna paid him.
    • [[Spoiler: Sarah Harvey]] was only brought into the show for this exact purpose, so Emily wouldn't be the only one left out.
  • Lured into a Trap:
    • Spencer goes to meet Toby in the Fun House at a carnival and gets shoved into a tiny space instead.
    • In "The Bin of Sin," A baits Spencer and Aria with Mona's laptop, only to lock them in a freezer instead
  • Maintain the Lie: The series lives on this from parents putting up the front of a happy marriage to the Liars themselves going to massive lengths to keep their own secrets.
    • Emily concealed the fact she'd dropped out of college from her mother for years, even going so far as to claim a storm prevented her mom from attending graduation and sending her a photo in a rented graduate's robe.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The end of "UnmAsked" reveals that Mona is now working for someone.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Toby tries to warn Garrett that Jenna is one.
  • May–December Romance: A few of these occur:
    • Aria and Ezra
    • Spencer and Wren
    • Darren and Ashley Marin
    • Ashley and Jason
    • Alison and Ian
    • Spencer and Ian
    • Averted with Hanna and Holbrook and with Hanna and Wren.
  • 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.
  • Mistaken Identity: Two cases right in a row on the night of Alison's would-be murder. CeCe/Charlotte nearly killed Alison after mistaking her for Bethany Young, and Mona actually did kill Bethany in a fit of rage, thinking she was Alison.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: How Toby Cavanaugh is played at first. Later on, he drops the "Misunderstood Loner" part. And as of Season 3, maybe the "Heart of Gold" part too.
  • Mood Whiplash: In "Unmasked", the liars are walking home, ecstatic that they have finally unmasked A. Everything goes south very quickly though, when they arrive at Emily's house and discover that Maya has been murdered.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Most of the men on the show are plenty attractive enough to keep up with the women (which is to be expected, this being made by Alloy Entertainment and all). The show probably has a clause in almost any male actor's contract demanding at least one shirtless scene throughout the series.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The four leads justify a name change to Gorgeous Little Liars. The other females in the cast aren't exactly hard on the eyes either.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Spencer drinks a lot of coffee. Frequently lampshaded. Emily the barista has shades of this too.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Used in numerous occasions whenever one of the girls is shown during or post sex.
    • Notably in "Game On, Charles" when The Liars get gassed, they wake up later in a morgue-like room, naked and covered only in sheets, like they're corpses. Spencer theorizes A took photos of them like that to send to their families so that they will stop looking for them.
  • Modesty Towel:
    • Emily wears one in the pilot in the locker room, when she gets her first message from A.
    • Alison is shown wearing one in a flashback in the "The Perfect Storm", while she's on the locker room talking to Emily. She drops it soon after, making Emily stare.
    • Toby walks into Spencer's room wearing one in "It Happened 'That Night'". She appreciates the view.
    • In "Hot Water" Spencer is wearing one when A traps her in the sauna.
    • When the phone rings while Hanna is showering in "UnmAsked" she wraps herself in one before getting out, which causes her to miss A who was loitering outside her bathroom while she showered.
  • Mortal Wound Reveal: Happens with Ezra in season 4 episode 'A is for Answers'. After a brief gun struggle with A (Shana),Aria notices the gunshot wound in Ezra's stomach before he falls unconscious.
  • Mythology Gag; During her story about how she became "A", CeCe Drake/Charlotte DiLaurentis talks about how Alison's mom used to buy her the same clothes that she bought Alison, commenting that "it was like we were twins." Alison did have a twin in the books and CeCe has a few things in common with her.
  • Name Drop: The jump rope song at the beginning of "Through Many Dangers, Toils, and Snares" is clearly about the girls.
    Ding dong, the bell / Someone fell / Pretty little lies / That liars tell
  • The Nicknamer: Alison frequently gave nicknames to people. They included Loser Mona, Jenna the Jerk, Hefty Hanna, Pigskin for Paige, and Hermie for Lucas.
  • Nice Girl: Emily.
  • Nice Guy: Ezra and Lucas but as of "A Hot Piece Of 'A'", he doesn't seem so much like this anymore.
  • No Dress Code: Some of the outfits the Liars (and other female characters) wear include very short skirts and cleavage; this probably would not be considered acceptable at a real high school.
  • Noir Episode: "Shadow Play" consists of Spencer's dream of the liars and other characters in a noir setting.
  • Noodle Incident: "The Jenna Thing", although it is revealed bit by bit throughout the first half of the second book, after which it turns into a gradual series of Reveals.
  • Not Staying for Breakfast: Downplayed, after Spencer sleeps with Caleb for the first time she has to leave when the rest of the Liars call for an urgent meeting. He calls her out on it when they meet later, but they quickly make up once she reassures him she wanted to stay.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Jenna continues to pretend she is blind, even after her surgery. Although in later seasons she doesn't have to pretend.
  • The Omniscient: A knows all of the main characters secrets and where they are at all times. Justified in that Mona begins to work for someone else meaning there is more than one person involved in the A scheme.
  • One Head Taller/Huge Guy, Tiny Girl:
    • Noel Kahn who is played by 6'1 Brant Daugherty and Aria who is played by 5'2 Lucy Hale.
    • Also fits his relationship with Mona - Janel Parrish is also 5'2.
    • 6'1 Travis and 5'3 Hanna also fit the bill.
  • One True Love: Every main has one. Usually their OTL alligns with their OTP. In Emily's case it didn't, ergo her Bittersweet Ending.
  • One True Pairing: For most of the girls it's also their One True Love but for Emily, unfortunately, the much more popular pairing is Emison, and not her One True Love, Paige (Paily).
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: 'A's "She knew too much" text right after hitting Hanna with a car. It's not belittling or taunting like their usual messages. 'A' was genuinely afraid Hanna would reveal their identity.
  • Oops! I Forgot I Was Married: Talia.
  • 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. 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.
    • Parts of "How the A stole Christmas" are ambiguous. For example the Mona/Alison scenes.

    P to S 
  • 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.
  • Perky Goth: Aria was one before Ali went missing.
  • 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.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: When you factor in the unusually high quantity of lesbians and bisexuals that show up whenever Emily is there.
  • Police are Useless: Seriously, how inept can the Rosewood Police Department get? Although the Liars' regular antics aren't exactly helpful, either.
  • 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's a lesbian. Which is ironic because Paige is also a lesbian (though she was in the closet at that time).
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: "Grave New World" for Ravenswood
  • 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. Germain, and Mona Vanderwal for the girls. Ezra Fitz, Byron Montgomery, and Holden Strauss for the guys. Also Samara, who is an actual prep student.
  • "Psycho" Shower Murder Parody: In "UnmAsked" as part of an extended Psycho homage, A stalks Hanna while she's showering, but is driven off when a phone starts ringing.
  • 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.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Jenna and Aria.
  • Race Lift:
    • Emily is portrayed by Shay Mitchell who has mixed Filipino and Irish heritage. In the book, Emily is just plain Caucasian. Her mother even makes racist remarks about Maya.
    • Also applies to Mona who is played by Eurasian actress Janel Parrish.
    • Emily's father is Asian in the show.
    • Wren is the opposite. He was Asian in the books, but white in the show
  • Reality Ensues:
    • While what happens to Alison and her friends is extreme, it does showcase how someone can snap when they have been mistreated for far too long. Also, someone who acts like a Jerkass to so many people for a long period of time will end up with a lot of enemies and very few friends, even if they are trying to atone for their actions, as Alison can attest to.
    • Running around accusing people of crimes is a bad thing. When the girls accused Alison of killing Mona, they made sure to basically tell the whole town and turn everyone against her. Spencer even emotionally blackmailed Jason into telling the police that he thinks that she could have done it. However, when Alison was proven innocent, Jason was very angry with Spencer, who had to apologize for it. Later on, the girls do the exactly same thing to Andrew. When he was proven innocent, he let loose with a blistering "The Reason You Suck" Speech that left the girls feeling guilty.
    • In season one when Spencer kept accusing Ian of being Alison's killer. The guy was a creep who took some videos, and made out with a couple of teenage girls, and constantly trying to get him arrested only achieved two things: Firstly, the dude snapped and tried to kill Spencer and secondly it ruined Spencer's credibility so badly that she became the liar who cried wolf. Ironically, not only did Ian turn out to not have killed Alison after all, the liars find out she wasn't even dead, and was in fact the person who had pushed Ian off the bell tower, killing him. Something the show later tried to retcon, and Alison tried to claim didn't kill him, but way too long after the show had shown Ian's lifeless body suspended in mid-air by the ropes he suffocated on
  • Red Herring: It seems that the liars have suspected nearly everyone in Rosewood of being A at one point throughout the series. 9 times out of 10, the liars are proven wrong.
    • Alison was suspected to be Mona's killer for a while in Season 5, before Welcome To The Dollhouse revealed that Mona was alive all along.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Emily and Alison had this.
  • Room Full of Crazy: With a touch of Stalker Shrine, A's room in the finale of the second season.
  • Save the Villain: The Liars have developed a habit of this:
    • 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.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl:
    • Played with- most of Emily's relationships pass as same-sex examples versions of this trope: Alison, Maya, Paige and Samara - all four are more energetic and extraverted than Emily, and try to push her to come out of her shell. As Paige once put it, Emily likes ballsy women.
    • Played straight with Hanna's relationships: Sean, Caleb and Travis are all just trying to keep up with her. The trope also fits her teased relationships- Wren and Holbrook.
  • Sauna of Death: In "Hot Water" Spencer is almost killed when A sabotages and locks her in a sauna, but Aria arrives in time to save her.
  • Scenery Censor: In "A Kiss Before Lying" when Hanna views Kate's nude selfie in her phone, her fingers cover Kate's breasts from being seen.
  • Second Love: Emily and Paige after Maya dies.
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians: Emily fits this trope with more than a few girls. Emily and Maya, Emily and Alison, Emily and Paige, Emily and Samara...
  • Secret Relationship:
    • Emily and Paige have one of these in the first season.
    • Spencer and Toby are forced to pretend they aren't still dating in the second season.
    • Same for Caleb and Hanna.
    • Same goes for Aria and Ezra.
    • Pre-series we have Alison with Ian, Ezra and possibly Shana. Also Spencer and Ian, and Mrs. DiLaurentis with Mr. Hastings.
    • Byron and Ella post divorce. Byron and Meredith also fit the bill.
    • Jenna has three in different points throughout the series- Toby, Garret and Shana.
  • Secret Identity: A is the identity of who is stalking the girls and Alison adopted an alias which was Vivian Darkbloom.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • In the pilot, Aria orders a cheeseburger despite being declared a vegan later in the first season.
    • In the season 1 episode, Keep Your Friends Close, Hanna mentions she spent five summers at fat camp. Then, in the season 4 episode Turn of the Shoe, she states that she spent two summers there.
    • In the Season 4 Premiere, "A is for 'A-L-I-V-E'", a flashback shows Alison meeting Toby's mentally ill mother Marion Cavanaugh when they're both 14-15 years old. However, in the Season 6 summer finale, "Game Over, Charles", Charles/Charlotte—Ali's older brother/sister—is only around 10 when he watches Bethany Young kill her at Radley. Most of the times that her death is brought up, it's said to have occured in 2008 or 2009. Cece's age in the flashback is the only inconsistent thing, with Bethany being around the same age she would have been when Marion really died, which was roughly Alison's age, which makes it look like Cece just lied about her own age to garner sympathy and make herself seem more innocent, in order to scapegoat Bethany Young for the murder.
  • Sex for Services: Hanna's mother engages in this to get her daughter out of shoplifting charges.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: Spencer is seen wearing Toby's shirts almost as often as he is. (Which isn't that often, given his Walking Shirtless Scene status). It's even lampshaded in one episode. She also puts on Caleb's when she wakes up after Their First Time.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: In a flashback in season 1, Allison drops her towel in front of Emily, despite knowing Emily has a thing for her. No wonder Emily thinks Allison was giving her mixed messages.
  • She's Got Legs: All the Liars, plus Alison and many other female characters. Invoked in-universe when Ella, discussing a potential outfit for her second wedding to Byron, comments "I may need to borrow Emily's legs."
  • Shirtless Scene: Several, most notably in "How The 'A' Stole Christmas" - towards the end Aria, Spencer, Hanna and Emily are greeted by Ezra, Toby, Caleb and Paige all in a row on a staircase. All but one (guess who) aren't wearing anything above the waist.
  • Shoulders-Up Nudity: Hanna in "UnmAsked" while she's showering.
  • Shout-Out
    • In "Touched by an A-ngel", Hanna says she "isn't in the mood to play Veronica Mars."
    • Hanna also remarks in an episode that she's "done playing Charlie's Angels" and calls Spencer Lucy Liu.
    • Lucas, the kid who falls for the popular girl who gets with the jock like in the 80s Corey Haim movie Lucas.
    • The scene in UnmAsked where Spencer is drinking tea with Harold Crane is strongly reminiscent of Roald Dahl's short story The Landlady.
      • And earlier in the same episode are several things that resemble Psycho, like the taxidermy, the shower scene or someone spying through a wall.
    • Dr. Anne Sullivan is one to The Miracle Worker.
    • 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 relevacme to the plot) one of Laura Palmer (of whom Alison is arguably an expy).
    • "Of Late I Think Of Rosewood" references the Twilight Zone 1959 episode "Of Late I Think Of Cliffordville". Appropriately, barring the Deal with the Devil in "Cliffordville", the plots of both episodes involve the protagonists returning to their hometowns after an extended time away.
  • Shower Scene: Alison has one in a "The Melody Lingers On" while on prison.
  • 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. Then it turns out that Mona is A.
  • The Smart Guy: Spencer. Also, Caleb.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Toby Cavanaugh, Mona Vanderwaal, and Jenna Marshall. Although, Mona manages to outlive her book counterpart by two and a half seasons. She's Killed Off for Real in 5A's midseason finale. Or is she?
  • Spin-Off: Once called Ravenswood was launched in October 2013.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Alison, In-Universe. Despite being dead, she's still constantly in the local news.
  • Stacy's Mom: Ashley Marin. Mona sure thinks so...
    • Things take a turn to Mrs. Robinson territories during her tryst with Jason.
  • Sunglasses at Night: Jenna has always been seen with her sunglasses on.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Trista and Samara share many similarities.

    T to V 
  • Take My Hand:
    • Spencer tries to save Mona this way in the Season 2 finale. She isn't able to, but Mona lives.
    • Aria tries to do the same with CeCe Drake in Now You See Me, Now You Don't, but fails. Again, CeCe lives.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Noel Kahn, Ezra, Garrett, Toby, Caleb, Darren, Holbrooke and Lucas in the books.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: The Cold Open of "Game Over, Charles" (which was available to preview after "Last Dance" aired) shows the Liars trying to do this to A, who has been identified and backed into a corner.
  • Tangled Family Tree: The DiLaurentis and Hastings families are all smashed up together. It started with learning that Jason is actually Peter Hastings' son. Several seasons later, Charles DiLaurentis entered the picture and turned out to be now Charlotte, AKA CeCe Drake, and since, we've met her mother and Jessica DiLaurentis' twin, Mary Drake, who has another child: Spencer. The series finale threw one last twist: Spencer has a twin sister, Alex.
  • Teacher/Student Romance:
    • Aria and Ezra of course.
    • Plus Byron had one before the series with his student Meredith.
  • Teens Are Monsters: a theme on this show. Especially with Alison, Mona, Jenna and A.
  • Teens Are Short: Aria, Jenna, Mona, and Maya
  • Teen Drama: Marketed like "Desperate Housewives for teens".
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: A dark deconstruction with Alison. While everyone in town hates her, the Liars put up with her. However, they spent most of season five wondering why and turned on her when she continued to lie to cover her tracks. They even suspected her of murder and did everything they could to get her arrested.
  • The Usurper: Spencer is going out for Academic Decathlon 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. Elliott/Archer definitely is.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: A hilarious tumblr dedicated to lampshading the constant and never-ending use of the word on the show.
  • Three Minutes of Writhing: A pretty accurate description of Hanna and Emily's dancing in "Pretty Isn't The Point" (and Emily's the following week in "Bloody Hell").
  • Time Skip: In the very last scene of "Game Over, Charles," the action jumps to five years later - all the Liars except Alison have left Rosewood, and Alison's now a teacher. Suddenly, Aria, Spencer, Hanna and Emily rush into her classroom and warn her "he's" coming... which doesn't happen until the penultimate episode. As a nightmare Emily has. The Vulture recapper is unlikely to be the only viewer to have felt cheated by this.
    • "Till "DeAth Do Is Part" takes place a year after the previous episode.
  • Toplessness from the Back: The shown often indulges in the practice.
    • Spencer in "It's Alive" and "Hush, Hush, Sweet Liars" is shown this way when she's changing clothes. Also in "New Guys, New Lies" when she gets out of bed after sleeping with Caleb.
    • Aria is shown like this whenever she has sex with Erza. Notably, "Miss Me x 100" and "Til DeAth Do Us PArt" have both the same scene, with Aria with her back to the camera straddling Ezra in bed and flinging the Modesty Bedsheet over them as she plunges down on him.
    • Alison in "The Perfect Storm" when she drops her towel in the locker room, right in front of Emily who gets visibly distracted.
    • Emily herself does this in "Never Letting Go" when she takes off her dress and gets changed in front of Samara.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Lots of secrets.
  • Treacherous Quest Giver: A gives the girls treacherous quests to cover-up their secrets.
  • Treachery Cover Up: Mona pretends to be crazy and pleads for the girls to forgive her for trying to kill Hanna.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Toby and Caleb.
  • 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.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: None of the Liars ever seem to wear the same outfit twice.

    W to Z 
  • Walking Swimsuit Scene: Particularly in season 1, Allison appeared wearing only a bikini constantly.
  • Wedding Day: In "We've All Got Baggage" Ella and Byron, who've reunited, tie the knot again with Aria officiating (seriously). Also, at the end of the episode Alison and Elliott (her therapist) ask Aria to oversee their wedding as well. "Choose To Lose" has Hanna and Caleb tying the knot. Aria and Ezra finally get married in "Till DeAth Do Us Part."
  • Welcome Back, Traitor: After helping A do her dirty work, Lucas spills to Hanna after she confronts him about it in his bedroom.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "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.
    • "A is for Answers" Ali was conked on the head and her own mother buried her alive in an effort to protect the perpetrator.
    • "Taking This One to the Grave": Mona uncovers evidence suggesting that Alison is now working as A, then she is murdered.
    • "Welcome to the Dollhouse": Perhaps the biggest example of the trope on the show to date: Mona was alive the entire time, having been kidnapped by A and being forced to take on Alison's persona. The liars are also kidnapped by A, and wake up in a dollhouse featuring life-sized recreations of their own bedrooms. It is revealed that 'A' is a person named Charles, who is somehow related to the DiLaurentis family.
    • "Game on, Charles" Remember Sara Harvey, who was mentioned in one episode in Season 4 as having gone missing the day after Alison, and then never mentioned again? Well, turns out Charles has had her locked in the dollhouse the entire time, and it appears that she is going to play a very important part in the overall mystery.
    • "The DArkest Knight" Hanna has Noel captive in planning to get him to admit he's A.D.; Alison tells Emily that she's pregnant; Aria sees Ezra's reunion with the very much alive Nicole on the news; Noel escapes with the help of Jenna, and the Liars face off with them in an abandoned blind school; Noel is decapitated by his own axe; Mary overpowers Jenna after she shoots Spencer; Mary reveals that the child she gave up for adoption is Spencer; Toby gets in a car crash with Yvonne; and the end of the episode it's confirmed that Jenna isn't working with A.D. - because she's been kidnapped by A.D.
    • "Farewell, My Lovely" Mary Drake confesses to killing Jessica DiLaurentis (which she did indeed do), and Archer Dunhill (to keep Spencer and the other Liars out of prison). The Liars win the game when Mona confesses that she killed Charlotte during a fight in the bell tower after she failed to "persuade" her to jump. Mona cracks mentally after the confession.
  • Wham Line:
    Mona: I've done everything you've asked me to.
    • From "Taking This One to the Grave":
    Mona Vanderwaal was murdered.
    • From "Don't Look Now":
    "Charles is dead."
    • From "Of Late I Think Of Rosewood":
    Lorenzo: (to the core four at Charlotte's funeral): Charlotte was already dead when she was thrown from the tower.
    • Two from "The DArkest Knight":
    Alison: (to Emily) I'm pregnant.
    Mary Drake: (as she cradles a shot and bleeding Spencer on the floor) I couldn't let anything happen to you... I'm your mother.
  • Wham Shot:
    • When Toby turned around wearing a black hoodie in "The Lady Killer" and revealed that he was a member of the A team, the fandom had a collective meltdown.
    • "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.
    • Another jarring one occurs in "A is for Answers," when we see Jessica's dead body being dragged along the ground.
    • "In Welcome to the Dollhouse,2 when Mona takes off her mask in front of the liars.
    • "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou:" the "A" ending reveals that Charles has a "friend and ally," who's identity is currently unknown.
    • "FrAmed": That friend and ally? It's Red Coat
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • 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.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Charlotte. The main reasons for her insanity are that her father refused to accept her and she framed for murder and treated for a mental disease that she didn't have. And then she was murdered.
  • Vertigo Effect: When Emily discovers the bracelet made of teeth.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • Byron cheated on his wife with a university student named Meredith.
    • Ian kissed Melissa's younger sister Spencer and had a relationship with Alison.
    • Wren also cheated on Melissa with Spencer.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Toby tries to run Lucas over after he stops cooperating with Mona's threats
    • Mona is eventually ousted from The A-Team and becomes their new victim. To hammer this home, an attempt is made on her life in 4x02. She is then killed off in 5x12. Except that she wasn't.

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