What do HBO and ABC Family's shows Game of Thrones and Pretty Little Liars have in common? Well, that's a little tough: Even in our ever-changing TV landscape, you'd be hard-pressed to find two popular dramas as disparate as these. Though, funnily enough, the taglines "You win or you die," and "Two can keep a secret, because one of them is dead" could actually work equally well for either show. Outside of that (and some on point costuming), though, there's little overlap between the two juggernauts — except for two similarly-named protagonists, of course.So, let's make the obvious connection; Aria and Arya — what, if anything, do they have in common, besides their homophonic names? A surprising amount, actually.
They're both intelligent. They're both petite brunettes with doe eyes and on fleek eyebrows (in fact, Maisie Williams and Lucy Hale actually look almost disarmingly similar, when you think about it). They're both constantly on the run. And last, but certainly not least, they both had a pretty darn terrible 2015. Terrible in different ways, yes, but still inarguably terrible all around. So, with all that in mind, let's review (and compare and contrast) the two ladies' low points throughout this past calendar year.
Aria Applied to College; Arya Applied to a Cult
Thanks to A, early 2015 found Aria fielding rejection letters from five out of the six schools she applied to — with one lone wait list offer from her safety school. Luckily, she eventually gets into the Savannah College of Art and Design, but things were pretty touch and go for a while there.
Having A attempt to block her from attending college was definitely something of a low point for bookish Aria, but poor Arya Stark fared even worse. Faced with losing the last of her known-to-be-living relatives (Lysa Arryn; she wasn't missing out on much there, was she?) and her de facto traveling companion, The Hound, Arya set off for Braavos, armed only with an iron coin and the phrase "Valar Morghulis." Luckily, said coin and phrase (plus some of her trademark pluck and perseverance) were enough to gain her entry to the local cult — aka, The Faceless Men.
Aria Lost Ezra; Arya Lost All of Her Earthly Belongings
As part of her college rejection panic, Aria wrote a letter to her wait list school — addressed as a mea culpa to Ezra's angry ex-girlfriend who just so happened to be an admissions officer. Thanks to some meddling from A, Aria ended up revealing the contents of the letter to Ezra — namely, that she regretted squandering her high school experience by having an affair with an older man. He ended up breaking up with her, fearing that she'd do the same with her college career if they stayed together.
Arya was too busy for boyfriends (except Gendry, of course!), but 2015 was not without major losses — in fact, in one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the season (which we all know is saying a lot), poor Arya was forced to relinquish all of her earthly belongings, as part of her quest to shed all shreds of her identity. Since she's been on the run ever since her father's grisly public execution, she didn't have much to lose (a few coins, trinkets, and scraps of clothing), but what little she did have meant a lot to her — especially Needle, the last gift to her from her beloved half-brother, Jon Snow. In the end, she was unable to throw Needle into the sea, and hid it — so I'm sure we'll be seeing Needle again someday soon.
Aria Made a Sketchy Friend; Arya Made an Even Sketchier Friend
While Aria was busy post-break-up falling for the ever-untrustworthy Andrew, Arya was busy forming tentative alliances with old acquaintance/murder buddy Jaqen H'ghar. The whole thing with Andrew didn't end up working out, and while we're far from the end of their shared story, I'm willing to bet things won't end so well between Arya and Jaqen either (who else thinks he'll be meeting the business end of Needle?).
Aria Went to the Dollhouse; Arya Went to the House of Black and White
Aria was held captive in the near-mythical dollhouse for a month, and subjected to some psychological torture (which involved everything from tricking her into thinking she was torturing her friends, to forcing her to lop her hair off). Arya, on the other hand, really didn't have it much better in the House of Black and White. Her daily duties included washing dead bodies, mercy-killing lost souls, and getting slapped around (a lot).
Aria Unmasked A; Arya Literally Wore Another Person's Face As a Mask
Another unexpected similarity between Aria and Arya's 2015 story arcs? Well, masks were a major player in both. Season 6 of Pretty Little Liars found Aria and co. getting closer and closer "unmAsking" A, while Season 5 of Game of Thrones found Arya training as an acolyte for a creepy magical cult that involves removing the actual faces of actual dead people and actually wearing them.
As such, masks played a big role in the final moments for each character and the ends of their respective seasons: After months of psychological torture, Aria finally found out A's true identity, and as for Arya? Well, she went rogue in a big way, stealing a mask before from the House of Black and White. She used said mask to impersonate an underage prostitute as a part of a sting for one of the members of her kill list (it's a long story), eventually dramatically unmasking herself just in time to deliver the final death blow.
Aria Aged Five Years; Arya Was Blinded
After living through some pretty dramatic shake-ups, both Ar(ya)(ia)s ended their respective seasons on pretty huge cliffhangers: Aria returned to Rosewood as a stylish college graduate on the run from a new (presumably) psycho adversary, and Arya ended up blind, thanks to a magic potion (you know, as one does).
All in all, it was quite an eventful year for Aria of House Montgomery and Arya of House Stark. Shall we hope for a slightly less traumatic 2016 all around?
Nah. Where Rosewood and Westeros/Essos are concerned, it's probably best if things stay as nail-bitingly dramatic as humanly possible.