If you love your weekly TV trips to Rosewood, then you may adore the show, at least in part, for its Achilles' heel. The lack of realism means that there have been plenty of times Pretty Little Liars made you question everything you know. It's hard to imagine any other series pulling off WTF moments with as much aplomb as the ABC show. Viewers may find that they actually enjoy the show all the more for the flood gate of questions it opens or because it doesn't always make sense or for it pushing the boundaries of soap opera-level melodrama. At least, that's this writer's personal experience.
If entertainment is all about escapism, then Pretty Little Liars has that in spades. And that's possibly its appeal. While you may have started watching it as a detective show, you've almost certainly now made peace with the fact that there are a lot of different clues suggesting, well, that pretty much anyone could be Uber A, and nothing is as it seems. So now, let's embrace the show's freewheeling surrealism and explore the compelling, confusing moments which made viewers realize that nothing they had formerly believed to be true was the case.
1When The Moms Got Trapped In A Basement
In Season 6, Episode 9, after drinking some wine together, the moms get rowdy and go over to Alison's house to ask Mr. DiLaurentis some questions. Charles proceeds to lock them in a basement, but no explanation is given in the following season as to how they ever escaped the basement and proceeded to get over their PTSD and prosper (with Veronica running for office and Ashley running her own bougie hotel). Are the Season 7 moms just clones or what?
2When Meredith Drugged Aria
When Aria drinks Byron's mistress' "special miracle cure tea" when feeling under the weather, she falls into a swoon and realizes when she wakes up that she's locked in her room. When the other Liars roll up to see what's happening, she locks them in the basement, too. Long story short, it all works out and the Liars get free, but Meredith disappears shortly after and is never. Mentioned. Again. So... was she one of A's hench women or did she just really, really dislike Aria?
3When We Discovered Mrs. D Took Bethany Horse Riding
True facts: Mrs DiLaurentis used to take creepy Bethany out of Radley each week to go horseriding. But she also knew that Bethany had framed Charlotte for murder. Don't get it. Did Mrs D secretly hate Charlotte or what?
4When Aria Wrote Her Name On A Train Window
In Season 3, Episode 13, Aria writes her name with her fingertip on a train window. She writes the first and second A entirely differently, with the second "A" written in the exact same way evil bully A styles their initial. Was I. Marlene King setting us up the whole time for a reveal of Aria as Uber A at the series' close?
5When We Discovered Ezra Had Also Dated Alison
The flashback showing that Ezra got involved with Alison when she was just 15 (though, sure, she lied about her age) prior to getting involved with another teen raised some pretty dark questions about whether the seriously inappropriate former teacher simply has a type.
6When Hanna Has A Dream Where Spencer Speaks To Her
After Hanna is kidnapped in Season 7, she's concerned that she may not survive after she undergoes torture. She has a dream in which she says I'm going to die in here," and in which Spencer answers "No, I won't let that happen." Does Spencer have more control than we know? Is she actually Uber A? Or, given the fact that dream Spencer doesn't have bangs and Rosewood Spencer does, is this an evil twin?
7When Mona Said "Hey, Big A! Wait Up!"
In Season 2, Mona calls out to Aria "Hey, big A! Wait up!" (see 1:16 in the video above). Given that we later find out that Mona is A, does this mean that Aria is a second A — maybe the A Mona reports to?
8When Ali Found Out She Was Pregnant
This was the moment that I realized that Uber A isn't messing around. Stealing Emily's eggs, using them to impregnate Alison, and then letting Ali find out in a baby store? This is a whole new level of evil. This is going to affect the rest of Alison and Emily's lives. It raises questions about who could possibly be A. It's hard to believe anyone you'd been considering for the position — Lucas, Mona, Melissa Hastings — could harbor feelings that psychopathic towards Alison that they're OK with invading her body.
8When We Discovered Ezra Was Writing A Book
Because we thought he was just Aria's devoted (if totally age-inappropriate) boyfriend, not a schemer using Alison's disappearance for his own literary ends. What else is he not telling us?
9When Aria Trashed Ezra's Apartment
After finding out about Ezra's book, Aria heads over to his apartment looking for answers, but loses control and trashes his flat. It's such out of character behaviour for someone who's normally sweet and relaxed. Does this suggest that she has anger issues? Was she really in Iceland prior to Season 1's timeline? Or was she actually in Radley?
10When We Found Out Mary Drake Is Spencer's Mother
"I would never hurt you — I'm your mother." Pretty Little Liars pulls a Darth Vader style reveal.
11When We Found Out That Elliott Rollins aka Archer Dunhill Was The One Torturing The Liars
Best ever reveal on the show? I'd say so. But the questions this raises are insane: how many people are A.D? Didn't Dunhill have ethical problems with falling in love with Charlotte, his patient? Why was Rosewood such a magnet for sociopaths?
12When A Ran Hanna Over With A Car
So we all know it was Mona, right? But, to this day, this feels like a loose end that wasn't tied up. Hanna is the only person Mona is really attached to — would she really have chosen to run her over if she'd been operating alone?
13When Mona Got "Murdered"
Because you actually believed in this gruesome Season 5 event, didn't you? While we don't actually see the murder take place, we do see what looks like a lifeless Mona. This doesn't raise questions now, but it did at the time: was Ali really the killer?
14When Mona Took Off The Mask In The Dollhouse
But then, wait a second, who's that creepy masked figure in the dollhouse? Yup. It's Mona. OK, maybe Archer Dunhill wasn't the best mask-reveal ever. Again, the questions were in the dozens: how did she survive her "murder"? Was she in cahoots with A?
15When Aria Got Trapped In A Box With Garrett's Corpse
How the heck did Charlotte pull this off, anyway?
16When We Found Out That Jenna Could See
In Season 2, we see Jenna squash a fly and realize what the Liars will later confirm with their bathroom trap (leaving an earring near the sinks for her to pick up and study, sunglasses-free): she's not blind at this point.
17When We Found Out Toby Was On The A Team
If golden-hearted Toby can go rogue, then basically anyone or everyone in Rosewood probably can, too.
18When Caleb Planted A Cow Brain In Mona's Locker
In Season 3, Mona finds a cow brain in her locker and some viewers may assume it's A's work, but we later discover Caleb did it. Thought Catalogue points out that given that Aria and Mike also get a package that season with a large tongue in it; there's definitely a theory there that this is also a cow part — and that Caleb could be A.
19When Spencer Kissed Her Sister's Fiancee
We get it, he's Wren and he's cute, but still. Kissing the guy your sister's engaged to? That's ice cold. Bear in mind that Spencer also kissed Ian, Melissa's ex boyfriend, shortly after they broke up back in Season 1, episode 10. Is Spencer focused on whatever she wants over all else?
20When Ezra Saw Spencer And Wren At An Airport
But it gets juicier. When Ezra runs into the pair at an airport in Season 7, Spencer asks him not to tell the other Liars. What exactly is she hiding? Why is she still in touch with Wren?
21When We Got That Flashback To Aria And Alison Trashing Byron's Office
In Season 3, a flashback shows Alison successfully persuading Aria that, in order to break up her dad and his mistress, Meredith, they'll have to make him look like "a vindictive homewrecking bunny boiler" by trashing his office. This had more than a whiff of A about it — interfering in someone's personal life by nefarious means? The incident raises more questions about Aria than it does about Ali. At this point, Ali was still the queen of mean, but given how good at this Aria is, did this suggest she had a dark side?
22When We Found Out Pastor Ted Had A Son With Mary Drake
...who grew up to be Charlotte. And there you were thinking Spencer's dad was the only Rosewood middle-aged male fathering kids right and left.
23When, In The Same Clip, We Discovered That Charlotte And Luke Were Friends At Summer Camp
Which left me reeling. How has Lucas never mentioned this? Does this mean Lucas has been part of the A Team all along?
24When Maddie Ziegler Danced At Radley
When Spencer has a nightmare in which Maddie Ziegler does a creepy dance around Radley, Refinery 29 pointed out how similar she looked in the short to Spencer and suggested it could lend weight to the theory that Spencer has a twin — one who possibly grew up in the asylum.
25When Uber A Handed Jenna A Book
We get to see a little bit of her hair in the frame — short red hair, just like Paige McCullers. Does this explain why Paige just happened to come back to Rosewood at the exact same time the Liars did?
26When Radley Nurse Eddie Lamb Recognized Aria
This is sketchy as hell, because, to our knowledge, the pair have never shared a scene before. So if the orderly from Radley recognizes Aria, could it mean that Aria once stayed in Radley and we don't know about it yet?
27When Emily's Grade Got Hacked
While Emily’s one of the less suspicious Liars, you’ve got to admit that egg stealing aside, her torture has been less… usual for Uber A. When Emily oversleeps and misses a Intro to Kinesiology opt-out exam in Season 7, Uber A hacks into the computer and gives her 92 percent. Um, what? This could imply, if not that Uber A is Emily, that Uber A is someone who cares about Emily. Sure, Paige — but, since Emily’s easily the sweetest Liar, it could be pretty much anyone.
Perhaps one reason for the show's success is the fact that you feel like you're compiling a list of clues as you go along. But we'll have to wait for the show's finale to find which of the moments above were clues and which were red herrings.