Pretty Little Liars (TV series)

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

The TV series premiered in the summer of 2010, and as of 2012, is in it's second season and has been renewed for a third.

Tropes used in Pretty Little Liars (TV series) include:
  • Absentee Actor: Only four regulars (no prizes for guessing which ones) have appeared in every episode so far.
  • Academic Athlete: Emily and Spencer.
  • Adaptation Dye Job: Spencer, Emily, Melissa and Mona are brunettes, and Hanna and Kate are blondes.
  • Adorkable: Lucas.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Spencer in "unmAsked".
  • Alpha Bitch: Alison.
  • Alternate Continuity: A combination of Adaptation Decay and Adaptation Expansion.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Emily.
  • Asshole Victim: Alison. She might have been only 15 when she died but still she had managed to make so many people hate her that just about every other supporting character in the show had a motive for her murder.
  • Attempted Rape: Ben tries to rape Emily, but Toby Cavanaugh saves her.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."

  • Betty and Veronica: Emily dates Maya (Veronica), Paige (Veronica) and Samara (Betty). She also has feelings for Ali (who seems to be a mixture of the two).
  • The Beautiful Elite: Many of the characters on this show are very attractive.
  • Bi the Way: Maya fits this because she dated a boy while she was at juvie camp before she returned.
    • Alison fits this trope as well given that in both the books and the show she occasionally pursues romantic encounters with Emily, who is in love with her.
  • 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.
  • Blondes Are Evil: Alison and Kate.
  • Book Dumb: Hanna. She once claimed that she couldn't even spell Louisiana, let alone know anything about its history.
  • Brainy Brunette: Lucas, and Spencer in the show.
  • Bring Out Your Gay Dead: Maya was killed off in the Season 2 finale.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Melissa and Jason made out prior to the events of the series. It was later revealed that they share a father.
  • Bus Crash: Maya who was last seen a few episodes earlier before it was revealed she was dead.
  • But Not Too Black: Maya.
  • Casting Gag: Claire Holt as a girl who dates a swimmer.
  • Cold Opening
  • 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”.
  • Creepy Child: Seth in "If These Dolls Could Talk". Seth is made even creepier because it was implied he has some form of psychic ability.
  • 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".
  • Dark Secret: The main characters and many of the recurring characters have skeletons in their closet.
  • Deadly Prank: The girls and Alison planned on using a firework to play a prank on Toby. It backfired blinding Jenna in the process leading her to harbor resentment towards the girls.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Hanna has one with Alison while she is in the hospital, and then another in season two of the show at her therapist's encouragement. The latter is somewhat of a Crowning Moment of Awesome for Hanna.
    • Emily has one of these with Alison in the second season after passing out.
  • Death by Adaptation: Maya who had lived in the books was killed off in the Season 2 finale.
  • 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.
  • Dirty Cop: Darren uses some questionable methods while he is investigating the murder of Alison although he doesn't do anything that is actually illegal. After Hanna gets arrested for shoplifting, her mom starts a relationship with Darren to keep Hanna from getting in trouble. Thankfully, she kicks him out of the house eventually. He usually targets Hanna for interrogation and harassed Emily in one episode.
    • Garrett as well.
  • Disappeared Dad: Averted in the case of Aria in the show, as her father refuses to leave the family when he and Ella separate.
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted. Mona falls off Lookout Point in a fight with Spencer, but she lives.
  • Double Standard Rape (Female on Male): Averted. Jenna doing this to Toby is viewed as being a very horrible thing to do someone.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: When Hanna and Caleb are in the shower (he's bathing, she isn't) and he turns around, she likes what she sees...
  • Estrogen Brigade Bait: Inverted; don't think that male viewers haven't noticed 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.
  • Fair Cop: Darren and Garrett.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Four-Girl Ensemble: Aria, Hanna, Spencer and Emily.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Aria (Melancholic), Hanna (Sanguine), Spencer (Choleric), Emily (Phlegmatic).
  • Fundraiser Carnival: A variation appears in place of Foxy.
  • Gender Flip: Jenna and Toby's roles are switched.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Melissa and Spencer. Using the word war is only a slight exaggeration in this case.
  • Halloween Special: Aired on October 19, 2011, part of ABC Family's "13 Nights of Halloween". It shows us the events that occurred around the Halloween before Alison disappeared. We learn that A was stalking Alison too, that Alison was paying off her brother to keep something secret, and that Mona and Jenna became good friends shortly before Alison disappeared. Also, Lucas may be a part of the "A" scheme, as he was wearing the same costume as Ali's stalker.
  • 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.
  • 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) shower scene.
    • 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.
  • Hospital Hottie: Wren.
  • Hot Mom: All the girls' mothers.
  • Hot Teacher: Ezra.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Lucas suffers this badly. Apart from Hanna, he has literally no friends. Then Caleb comes along and they form something of a bromance... then Caleb hooks up with Hanna, the girl Lucas is desperately in love with.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Mona claims that she started the A scheme as a means to get back at the girls, not for their treatment of her, but for the fact that Hannah was spending more time with them and less time with her, even though they'd barely hung out together at all after Alison's death and it was in fact the A scheme that brought them together again. Maybe Justified though, as it's implied that Mona was taking orders from someone else and her claims about her motivations are a lie.
  • Jerkass: Alison definitely crosses into this trope. The reason why she is popular is because she is attractive, smart and charismatic.
  • Just Friends: Hanna and Lucas.
  • Killed Off for Real: Alison, Ian, and Maya.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Emily, Samara, Paige and Maya.
  • Les Yay: Invoked by Alison in the books and show, to manipulate Emily.
  • Mama Bear: In the show, Pam Fields defends her daughter from Paige's father. She hasn't really changed her views on homosexuality, she just has a reaction to someone hurting her daughter.
  • The Man Behind the Man: "unmAsked" reveals that Mona is not A but really just their pawn when the real A visits her at the end of the episode.
  • Manipulative Bitch: In "A Hot Piece Of 'A'", Toby tries to warn Darren that Jenna is this.
  • May-December Romance: A few of these occur:
    • Aria and Ezra.
    • Spencer and Wren.
    • Darren and Ashley Marin.
    • Alison and Ian.
    • Spencer and Ian.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: How Toby Cavanaugh is played at first. Later on, he drops the "Misunderstood Loner" part.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Spencer drinks a lot of coffee.
  • Name Drop: The rope song at the beginning of 'Through Many Dangers, Toils And Snares' clearly mentions (and is about) some Pretty Little Liars.
  • The Nicknamer: Alison frequently gave nicknames to people. They included Jenna the Jerk, Snow White, Hefty Hanna, Killer for Emily and Hermes for Lucas.
  • Nice Girl: Emily.
  • Nice Guy: Lucas but as of "A Hot Piece Of 'A'", he doesn't seem so much like this anymore.
  • 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.
  • One Head Taller: Noel Kahn who is played by 6'1 Brant Daugherty and Aria who is played by 5'2 Lucy Hale.
  • 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.
  • Parental Neglect: Spencer's parents are often missing when she needs them the most. When they are home, they tend to neglect her in favor 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 terrorized by A or her having a relationship with her teacher.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: Invoked by Paige's father. He claims that the only reason Emily became captain of the team is because she is lesbian. This is ironic because Paige also a lesbian, though in the closet at that time.
  • Posthumous Character: Alison had been killed before the first episode and she only appears in flashbacks or dreams.
  • Product Placement: The Microsoft Kin phone, Aria used it and showed off its Facebook app.
  • 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 juvenile 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.
  • Race Lift: Emily is portrayed by Shay Mitchell who is Filipino and white. In the book, Emily is white and her mother even discourages her from being friends Maya because she is not white.
    • Also applies to Mona who is played by Eurasian actress Janel Parrish.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Jenna and Aria. Jenna was even called Snow White by Alison before she went blind.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Emily and Alison had this.
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians: Emily fits this trope with more than a few girls...
    • In the show: Emily and Maya, Emily and Alison, Emily and Paige, Emily and Samara.
  • Secret Identity: A is the identity of who is stalking the girls and Alison adopted an alias which was Vivian Darkbloom.
  • Secret Relationship:
    • Spencer and Toby are forced to pretend they aren't still dating in the second season.
    • Same goes for Aria and Ezra.
    • Ian and Alison.
  • Shout-Out
    • In "Touched by an A-ngel", Hanna says she "isn't in the mood to play Veronica Mars."
    • Lucas, the kid who falls for the popular girl who gets with the jock like in the 80s Corey Haim movie Lucas.
  • 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.
  • The Smart Guy: Spencer. Also, Caleb.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Toby Cavanaugh, Mona Vanderwaal, and Jenna Marshall.
  • Sunglasses at Night: Jenna has always been seen with her sunglasses on.
    • Although, in a recent episode, Jenna is slapped by Hanna after Hanna finds out that Jenna was using Caleb to get information from Hanna causing her sunglasses to come off.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Trista and Samara share many similarities.
  • Take My Hand: Spencer tries to save Mona this way in the Season 2 finale.
  • Tall, Dark and Bishoujo: Emily and Spencer. Aria and Jenna also fit the bill - except for the tall part.
  • Tall, Dark and Handsome: Noel Kahn, Ezra, Garrett, Toby, Caleb, Darren and Lucas in the books.
  • Teacher-Student Romance: Aria and Ezra of course.
    • Plus Byron had one before the series with his student Meredith.
  • Teen Drama: Marketed like "Desperate Housewives for teens".
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: A hilarious tumblr dedicated to lampshading the constant and never ending use of the word on the show.
  • Troubled but Cute: Toby and Caleb.
  • 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.
  • Wham! Line:

Mona: I've done everything you've asked me to.

  • 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.