Everyone We've Ever Thought Was "A" on Pretty Little Liars
Over seven seasons, Pretty Little Liars has thrown some major curveballs our way. Each and every time we think we’ve finally figured out who the show’s ultimate villain is, a new one pops up, whack-a-mole style. Now that we’re in the home stretch with only a few episodes to go before the series finale, it seems like long-awaited answers are finally coming our way. But while we wait for those sure-to-be-shocking reveals, we’re taking a look back at all of the Freeform series’ past A (and A.D.) suspects. Scroll down for a creepy walk down Rosewood’s memory lane.
This was the most obvious guess for a while—too obvious, in fact. But the Liars initially assumed that “A” stood for their presumed-dead friend Alison when mysterious threats started to appear, signed with the initial. But Ali had actually gone into hiding after A pushed her over the edge, proving that she wasn’t the one torturing them all along. We may trust Ali now, but it is a bit convenient that the show’s new villain adopted her first and last initials and goes by A.D. Just saying.
Detective Darren Wilden
UGH. Wilden. The worst cop ever. He first had us questioning his intentions when, after arresting Hanna for shoplifting, he slept with her mom. Then, he perpetually creeped us—and the Liars—out once he began stalking them. He ultimately killed another A suspect, Garrett Reynolds, before he, too, was offed in season four. Wilden may not have been the ultimate “A,” but he was definitely a dirty cop from the get-go.
We’ve always guessed that Melissa knows more than she lets on. After years of leading viewers to believe that she was on the A team, Melissa revealed that she was the one who buried Alison in her own backyard to protect her sister (she thought Spencer had killed Alison). The story seemed believable enough by PLL standards, but Melissa always seems to be connected to the guys that are responsible for taunting the Liars. So we’re not quite ready to write her off as a total saint just yet.
Oh, Jason. Do we love you or do we hate you? From day one, Jason was pretty sketchy in his chats with the Liars. At first, they wrote his weird behavior off due to grief over his sister’s “death.” But soon, they discovered that he wasn’t exactly Alison’s biggest fan. We learned that Jason had started the secret voyeuristic N.A.T. club with his pals Ian Thomas and Garrett Reynolds, and they would film Rosewood’s locals through their bedroom windows just for fun. He’s told his share of lies and his actions have been questionable at best, but despite his past transgressions, Jason no longer seems to be in the running for lead A candidate.
Let’s just say that anyone involved with the N.A.T. club was a sketchball, shall we? Garrett was yet another creepy cop on this show, and his love for Jenna Marshall only made us hate him even more. In the end, he was just a decoy—and Wilden murdered him before he could spill his secrets to Spencer and Hanna on Halloween in season three.
Melissa Hastings’s uber-creepy husband was the third member of the N.A.T. club. He was yet another name on the long list of Alison’s past love interests who were toying with the Liars. We thought he met a gruesome death after being pushed down off the church’s bell tower (he deserved it—he tried to kill Spencer first), but he managed to survive. Not for too long, though—Ian was ultimately found dead alongside a “suicide” note written by A.
Toby was introduced in a harsh light, having an incestuous relationship with his step-sister Jenna and being accused of spying on Alison. Early on, he was our top A suspect. But once he started dating Spencer, our questions subsided. He was revealed to actually be on the A-Team in season three, although it turned out that he was only involved with the bad guys to try and protect Spencer. Aw.
Jenna Marshall is no doubt the longest-running villain on the show. She’s been anti-Liars ever since we first met her—and for good reason. After all, their cruel prank back in the day resulted in Jenna’s loss of eyesight. Still, Jenna has gone above and beyond to get revenge. Every time we meet a new character who gives off potential A vibes, Jenna turns out to be pulling the strings. She’s still messing with the Liars’ lives to this day, and the jury is still out as to whether or not she’s the ultimate Big Bad.
There was no way around suspecting Caleb as A, thanks to his hacking skills and overall lack of fear. In season one, it was revealed that he had been spying on Hanna and reporting back to Jenna. It caused a definite rift in their relationship when Hanna learned the truth—she kicked him out of her house, where he had been living with Hanna and her mom—but since then, he’s been nothing but lovable.
Yup, even brilliant Spencer joined the A-team for a hot second. She was coaxed into working for the dark side after being admitted to Radley following a mental breakdown. Her real intentions always remained pure, although we didn’t know that at first. She was really just trying to learn more about Toby’s involvement in the scheme and the identity of the mysterious Red Coat character. After a brief stint undercover as one of A’s minions, Spencer went back to her good girl roots.
Mona Vanderwaal, aka the OG A. Hanna’s former bestie turned out to be the one tormenting the girls throughout high school, and she was committed to Radley Sanitarium after her stalker lair was discovered. Once she was released, Mona slowly—and shockingly—worked her way into the Liars’ good graces. Then she tried to turn Rosewood’s residents against Alison after she came back from the "dead," and Alison was the main suspect when Mona was believed to have been murdered. Now that everyone is alive and as well as anyone on this show could ever truly be, Mona seems to be in a much better place. But we really never know what’s going on in that computer-hacking mind of hers, TBH.
Who could forget the earth-shattering discovery that innocent-seeming Ezra had so many secrets?! Back in season four, we really thought that he was the answer to this crazy A puzzle when he was caught following the Liars’ every move and skulking around in A’s lair. As it turned out, Ezra was just studying the girls as “research” for a book he was writing about Ali’s disappearance. While we’ve moved on from that saga and accepted Ezra’s apologies to Aria, we’re still not totally sold on him being a good guy with this season’s Nicole plot-twist currently underway. Even so, we’re pretty sure he’s not their torturer.
Wren tried to be way too accommodating to the Liars to not be considered a prime A suspect. Plus anyone who worked at Radley Sanitarium automatically raises a few flags in our book. While he was engaged to Melissa Hastings, Wren made a move on her sister, Spencer. He moved back to London after leaving Rosewood in season four, and we haven’t seen him since—although in his absence, we still learned that he had a never-fully-explained connection to Charlotte. To this day, he still hasn’t been ruled out as the ultimate villain.
CeCe Drake, aka Charlotte DiLaurentis
When we first met CeCe Drake back in season three, she was introduced as still-missing Alison’s older friend who had previously dated Jason. She had plenty of secrets from the start, and we didn’t know whether she was trying to help in the search for Alison or if she was the one responsible for her disappearance. Ultimately, it was revealed that CeCe was really Charlotte DiLaurentis, Alison and Jason’s transgender first cousin—born Charles—who their parents adopted before committing her to Radley Sanitarium. In the end, we learned that she had been A all along—but after receiving professional help, she seemed to turn over a new leaf. Until she was murdered, and the mysterious new A.D. villain took over where she left off.
Before he was behedded in season seven, Noel was always lurking in the shadows and seemed to be involved in each and every plot thread without any real reason whatsoever. His motives have always been unclear. He helped Alison while she was MIA, but only because she was blackmailing him. He eventually crossed over to the dark side entirely, working with Jenna Marshall to plot against the Liars.
Ah, Bethany. The mystery of Radley’s most confusing patient has slowly unraveled over the years. The unstable teen had been committed to Radley Sanitarium, where she befriended Charlotte (then known as Charles) DiLaurentis. But Bethany’s dark side soon took over when she pushed another patient—Toby’s mom, Marion Cavanaugh—off the hospital’s roof. Bethany also spent time with Alison’s mom, Jessica DiLaurentis, who was a Radley board member. When she found out that Jessica was having an affair with her father, Bethany dressed up in Charlotte’s clothes and assumed her identity to sneak out of Radley and attack Jessica. Once she got to the DiLaurentis home, Mona snuck up behind her and killed her, thinking she was Alison from behind. When her body was found a year later, the police thought she was Alison because someone had switched the girls’ dental records. But until we had confirmation that Bethany was really dead, she was as much a suspect as anyone else.
We suspected that the tech whiz had dark motives early on—especially since Alison had bullied him before she disappeared—but it turned out that Lucas was just being blackmailed by Mona. His role on the A-Team seems to have ended, but whether or not he’s actually a good guy still remains TBD. In season six, we learned that Lucas is now a very successful developer for game apps. He’s been good to Hanna and helped her launch her business. So we’ll go ahead and say that he’s fairly harmless—for now.
Um, remember when Paige tried to drown Emily at swim practice? Yeah, let’s just say she gave us plenty of reason to suspect her early on. She also had an unexplained hatred for Alison—it makes sense now, since they’re both objects of Emily’s affection—so it seemed fair that she was trying to take the group down. These days, she’s much more friend than frenemy.
Detective Gabriel Holbrook
Another sketchy cop in Rosewood; what else is new? Detective Holbrook was always skeptical of the Liars—they gave him good reason because they constantly, well, lied—and he followed their every move throughout seasons four and five. It was creepy how he’d just appear out of nowhere, and even creepier how he tried to strike up a romantic relationship with Hanna, a high schooler who he was investigating in a murder. He wasn’t shy about his hatred for the Liars, and anyone with such a strong grudge against the girls was bound to be considered a suspect.
Alison and Jason were both suspected of being A at times, and their mom was, too. Jessica had many secrets, especially when it came to her family. She kept her mentally-ill sister, Mary Drake, locked away in Radley for years. She agreed to raise Mary’s baby, but ultimately turned young Charles over to Radley, too. Jessica also had an affair with Spencer’s dad, Peter Hastings, and he was revealed to be Jason DiLaurentis’s biological father. Back when we thought that Spencer “killed” Alison, we were led to believe that Jessica went after the Liars to avenge her daughter’s death. She was murdered in the process, as most characters on this show are, and we still don’t know who was responsible for her death.
Jenna’s friends are not the Liars’ friends, that’s for sure. Shana was in love with Jenna and was more than willing to do her bidding. She grew up next door to Alison’s grandmother and had dated Paige, and we never knew whether she could be trusted. Even though she wasn’t connected to Charlotte’s ultimate plot, Shana tried to kill Alison in a misguided attempt to get revenge for Jenna. But the Liars prevailed and Shana was the one to be killed.
Aria’s brother had a dark streak for a while there, that’s for sure. Mike was breaking into houses and lurking around a lot, but other than dating Mona (a very, very, questionable decision on his part—although the Montgomerys aren’t known for making wise choices in the romance department), his name was pretty much cleared in Rosewood. We'll just chalk his weird behavior up to teen angst.
Nigel was a brief suspect in season four. He served as Jenna’s eyes at Wilden’s funeral, and anyone associated with Jenna automatically earns a spot on our list of A potentials. Toby and Caleb were skeptical of Nigel because he was at the Thornhill Lodge when it burned down. And it turned out they had reason to be suspicious. If Nigel was capable of faking flight plans, who knows what else he might have done—or might still do.
When we first met him, Andrew seemed to be innocent. He befriended Spencer and briefly dated Aria—nothing new there. But we started to wonder what Andrew was after when he hacked Spencer’s family’s phone calls. Then, he was the prime suspect in kidnapping the Liars after the cops found evidence at his uncle’s farm. Aria was convinced that he was A, but in the end, it turned out that Andrew was just trying to help find her while she was missing.
Lesli claimed to be Mona’s BFF when she showed up in Rosewood to help solve Mona’s supposed murder in season five, but she quickly lost all caring-friend credibility when she claimed that the Liars’ helped Alison murder Mona. Of course, those claims proved to be false—but Lesli still wasn’t done with her schemes. Even after Mona was revealed to be alive, she turned on her former friend and was seen yelling at her. We eventually discovered that she was another of Radley’s long-term patients, and had roomed with Bethany Young. Whatever her motives were, we still don’t truly know.
When Sydney arrived in Rosewood during season five, she joined the high school’s swim team and immediately buddied up to Emily. Her eagerness for friendship should have been red flag number one, because in this town, no one can be trusted. Soon enough, Sydney’s true allegiance was revealed—and she was working with Jenna and Mona to take down Alison. She’s dressed as Jenna’s body double to trick the Liars and most recently, she’s been unknowingly leading them to clues about A.D.’s real identity. TBD whether or not she’s the one who’s really in control.
Every time the Liars meet someone portrayed as a victim, they rarely turn out to be one. Sara was portrayed as another captive held in A’s ridiculously horrific dollhouse, and she and Emily struck up a relationship. But it turned out that Sara had been on the A-Team all along. She had dressed up as Red Coat earlier on in the series, before we even knew who she was, and she was revealed to have been dressed as the Black Widow at Wilden’s funeral. Luckily, we said goodbye to her at the end of season six, when she was found murdered.
Charlotte hired Rhys to work at the Carissimi Group, the company that bought Radley and destroyed all of the sanitarium’s files after the Liars’ dollhouse ordeal. Rhys was involved in the company’s supposed scholarship program and was just downright weird in all of his interactions with the characters—but he ultimately proved to be little more than a distraction in Charlotte’s A-game.
Dr. Elliott Rollins, aka Archer Dunhill
Alison’s husband was a bit off from the start, whether she could see it or not. He had dated Charlotte first, while he was her psychiatric doctor, and he ultimately had Alison locked up after he and Mary Drake convinced her that she was crazy. After torturing Alison and stealing her money, the Liars caught onto Archer’s games. They killed him and buried him in the woods, but A.D. kept on texting the. So while we’re pretty sure he’s not the ultimate villain here, he was definitely one of the worst guys ever to appear on this show.
She’s only been around for a minute, but Mary Drake earned her suspect title right away. Not only was she revealed to be the twin sister of the mysterious Jessica DiLaurentis, but Charlotte’s birth mother, too—and we’re guessing that the original A got her manipulative mastermind skills from somewhere. Now that we know Mary is also Spencer’s biological mom, though, we’re less inclined to believe that she’s been torturing the Liars. Although, really, anything is possible with this one.