Top Suspects for 'A' on Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars is a mystery TV series that started on ABC in 2010. It is based on the teen mystery novel series by author Sara Shepard. Presently, it is one of the most popular mystery series running on US television and has just completed six seasons.

The Plot

The main protagonists are four high-school friends and their missing group leader:

  • Aria Montgomery
  • Spencer Hastings
  • Emily Fields
  • Hanna Marin
  • Alison DiLaurentis - group leader

Aria, Emily, Hanna, Spencer

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Alison DiLaurentis

The group leader Alison DiLaurentis had mysteriously disappeared one night during a slumber party.

One year later, Alison's body is discovered in the backyard of Spencer's home. The cops start investigating the numerous suspects that might have had a motive for murder, because Alison used to be a mean and manipulative bully who had made endless number of enemies at school.

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Deadly Stalker - The Big 'A'

During the same time, an unknown stalker starts blackmailing the four girls. The blackmailer signs himself or herself as 'A' and keeps sending threatening texts, videos and mails to the girls, citing specific incidents in their lives that could have been known only to Alison.

Each of the girls hold secrets of their own, but 'A' always seems to know everything about everyone and threatens to expose them unless they comply with the conditions that 'A' wants them to fulfil.

What starts off as a dangerous mind game turns into into a terrible and tiresome nightmare for the girls as more episodes unfold. The 4 hapless friends are unable to tell the truth to the cops, because each time they try to reveal the truth, horrible things happen to them, or the investigating police officers turns out to have an agenda of their own.

With no one to trust and no one to confide in, the four teenage girls struggle to find clues on their own in order to unravel the mystery of Alison's disappearance and the identity of their deadly stalker.

Who is 'A' - The Primary Suspects

The question isn't who is A? The question is, who isn't A?

Throughout the series, the viewers are left guessing who 'A' is. Each season finale has led the girls (and the viewers) to be pretty certain about the identity of 'A' - or so we are made to assume. Until we are proved wrong.

Let us visit all the characters who have been our top suspects for 'A', what motive they could have in blackmailing and terrorizing the four teenage girls, what their end-game could be?

Here are the main characters who had both motive and the right circumstances to keep a watch on the four girls.

Ian Thomas - The N.A.T Club Crook

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Ian Thomas was Rosewood High School's hockey coach and Spencer's sister Melissa's boyfriend who went on to become her husband. We get to see Ian's dark side right from the beginning.

  • Ian was one of the members of the N.A.T club, the group of three boys who taped secret videos of girls changing. Alison had discovered those tapes. Maybe she was blackmailing Ian.

  • He always had a thing for younger girls, even though he was engaged to Melissa. He got involved with Alison and later dumped her. He also made an advance towards Spencer, which shows how twisted he was.

  • He tried to attack and kill Spencer when he found out that she knew his secret about the tapes. He was definitely murderous in nature.

  • However, as he was about throw Spencer off the church's staircase, a black-hooded figure came to Spencer's rescue and pushed Ian from the staircase instead. Ian seemed to have died, but his body disappeared moments later, when the cops arrived on the scene. The black-hooded figure could easily be 'A', so Ian couldn't be.

Mona Vanderwaal - The Original 'A'

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Mona Vanderwaal was a nerd and frequently targeted and bullied by Alison. She underwent a complete makeover, right after Alison disappeared and became close to Hanna.

  • Both Alison and the girls used to treat Mona badly at school - though it was mainly Alison, but the other four girls never tried to stop Alison. Mona had every reason to hate Alison and exact revenge on her friends.

  • After Aria, Emily, Hanna and Spencer reunited, Mona was resentful that her best friend Hanna no longer hung out with her. She felt betrayed by Hanna.

  • Mona also turns out to be a master hacker, a must-needed skill to get hold of tapes, videos and other information on the next victim.

  • Overall, Mona seems weird and her contrasting looks before and after Alison makes her seem suspicious.

  • In Season 3 however, we see Mona getting trapped inside the burning house with the rest of the girls, a trap set by 'A'. Mona also tells the girls that someone stole the game from her after she got sent to Radley sanatorium.

  • Mona admited to hating Alison and starting an anti-Alison group, but she was no longer 'A'. She also came clean with the girls and tried to help them uncover 'A' identity, though with deadly consequences.

Jason DiLaurentis - The Brother

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Jason DiLaurentis is Alison's brother and Jessica's son with Peter Hastings, Spencer's father, making him Spencer's half brother.. He was also a part of the N.A.T. club that taped secret videos of semi-clad girls, along with his friends Ian and Garret, the cop who was murdered.

  • Jason used to hate his sister Alison, especially after she started threatening him about the tapes.

  • He spent most of his summer in a stoned state and was in a daze about his activities on the night of Alison's disappearance.

  • We get to see how Mrs. DiLaurentis got a glimpse of the killer before he hit Alison on the head in front of the DiLaurentis house. However, she goes to bury her own daughter and protect the killer. It would make sense if she was trying to protect her son Jason.

  • However, what ruled out Jason as 'A' is when he was pushed into the elevator shaft by 'A'. Moreover, we see the gloved hands of 'A' dragging and burying Mrs. DiLaurentis in the grounds. It is highly unlikely that Jason would kill his own mother.

  • **** SPOILER ALERT **** Jason has re-entered the scene in Season 5. He is Alison's main alibi on the day of Mona's murder, but he gives away the truth that Alison went missing for a few hours. This lands Alison in prison. We again wonder, was Jason really trying to protect Spencer from being framed? Or does he have a different agenda?

Ezra Fitz - The English Teacher

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Ezra Fitz is the English teacher at Rosewood High School. He and Aria had been involved in a long and forbidden teacher-student relationship right from the beginning.

  • Ezra lied to Aria about never knowing Alison. Not only did he know her, they also had a brief romantic history, which he hid from Aria.

  • Alison had written in her diary about being involved with an older man on one of her vacations just before her disappearance, a man she had nicknamed Board Shorts who drank beer with his pie. On the same day, Spencer ran into Ezra at a cafe drinking the Board Shorts ale with his pie. This made her realize that Ezra was Board Shorts, the mysterious man who might hold the key to the entire mystery.

  • When Ezra found that Aria had found book on Alison, he chased her into the jungle and onto the cable car. It was looking certain that he is 'A' - until he admitted that he had taken up a teaching job in Rosewood High School just to track down Alison. He also admitted to Aria that their first encounter at the bar was staged, that he got involved with her knowing that she used to Alison's friend.

  • But he did seem sincere when he said that his fake love for Aria evolved into genuine love in spite of everything. Later, he even risked his life by saving the girls from 'A' in New York, getting shot in the process. As the ambulance sped away with the injured Ezra in it, a black masked figure was seen clutching the roof of the ambulance. That proved that Ezra was not 'A', since 'A' followed Ezra into the hospital.

Jenna Marshall - The Blind Girl Who Recovered

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Jenna Marshall is Toby's step-sister who was blinded due to a fire caused by Alison's prank. In the past, Jenna had forced Toby into an elicit relation with her, by threatening to accuse him of sexual assault if he didn't comply. Alison had caught them in the act. When Jenna became blind, Alison used this point to blackmail Jenna into keeping quiet about the prank gone bad.

  • Jenna had every reason to want to avenge her blindness.

  • She underwent surgery for her blindness, but she hid the fact that she could see again. Why would she do that unless she wanted people to rule out any suspicion on her.

  • Jenna had long stints of absence from the town, which also seemed suspicious.

  • She also had a secret friendship with Shana, a childhood friend of Alison who later turned out to be a betrayer.

Alison DiLaurentis - The Queen Bee

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Last but not the least, we have the most intriguing mystery of all - the character of Bethany Young. She is the young girl whose body was mistaken to be Alison's body.

  • Season 5 reveals how Alison and Bethany actually knew each other. One of the letters in Bethany's possession revealed how Alison had even bought her a yellow top that she would be wearing when they met. Alison herself was wearing a yellow top when she was killed.

  • Bethany was admitted to the Radley sanatorium as a child, and Mrs DiLaurentis used to visit her often. Why would Alison's mother visit another girl in a mental institution, unless Bethany really meant something to her?

  • Later on, we get to see few of Alison's memories from childhood, in which she discovers two identical Christmas presents from her parents. Further dialogue with her mother suggested that Alison possibly had a twin sister. What happened to the twin sister? Is Bethany the twin sister?

  • We know by Season 4 that Alison was alive and on the run because someone was trying to kill her. Maybe 'A' had killed Bethany, mistaking her to be Alison.

  • However, knowing how Alison lived a fugitive's life for two whole years, it may not be entirely surprising if she might have knowingly lured Bethany into a trap, since her letter clearly indicated that she was inviting Bethany to come to Rosewood.

The Real 'A'

Season 6 finale reveals the real identity of 'A' when Alison finally comes face to face with 'A' and confronts the deadly stalker about all the past actions. Her four friends Aria, Spencer, Hanna, Emily, along with Mona, also learn the real identity of 'A' as they witness a live video feed of Alison in the same room as Big 'A'.

The villain explains all the connections and why certain things needed to be done. They also learn the identity of Red Coat, the blonde dressed in a red coat wearing Alison's mask who often appeared in several crucial scenes.

Who do you think is 'A' in Pretty Little Liars?

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© 2015 Ritu Temptor

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2 comments

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Stargrrl 24 months ago

You know, I really like good teen dramas. I never gave this show any thought, but I might just check it out after reading this hub.


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temptor94 24 months ago from India Author

This is indeed a good thriller. If you like teen drama, you might love this one. Initially I was put off by the title, sounded like a high-school chick-flick, but the mystery stalker/blackmailer 'A' took me by surprise. And with every season, 'A' became more deadly, now he/she is nothing less than a psychopath. There's one more good teen series called The Lying Game, it ran for 5 seasons but unfortunately got cancelled.

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