All About ‘A’: The History of the ‘Pretty Little Liars’ Villain

Shay Mitchell as Emily Fields, Lucy Hale as Aria Montgomery, Troian Bellisario as Spencer Hastings, Ashley Benson as Hanna Marin, and Sasha Pieterse as Alison DiLaurentis. (Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC)

It all started with one “A” — and now it ends with another “A.”

Pretty Little Liars began as the story of four teen girls who were being stalked by a mysterious figure, who signed letters and texts as “A,” after the death of their friend Alison. Through the years, the Liars worked to figure out who was tormenting them (and even suspected each other). Dark family secrets emerged, more murders took place, and the girls’ friendships and romances were strained.

“A” has taken on quite a few faces over the past seven seasons. With the Freeform drama closing the book with 10 final episodes, premiering April 18, we look back at the complicated, wild history of “A,” the big bad that could terrify with just one initial.

Original “A”

Identity: Mona Vanderwaal

(Credit: Getty Images) Janel Parish
Janel Parrish as Mona Vanderwaal. (Photo: Getty Images)

Mona started the whole “A” business by first bullying and stalking Alison DiLaurentis. After Alison’s supposed death, Mona begins threatening Alison’s friends: Aria Montgomery, Spencer Hastings, Emily Fields, and Hanna Marin — all in an effort to be the latter’s one and only bestie. Mona is revealed to be “A” during a fight with Spencer, in which Mona goes over a cliff (she survives). Mona is sent to a sanitarium, where she is recruited by a mysterious figure, “Red Coat,” to be part of her “A Team.”

Big “A”

Identity: Cece Drake aka Charlotte DiLaurentis aka Charles DiLaurentis

Vanessa Ray as CeCe Drake/Charlotte DiLaurentis. (Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC Family via Getty Images)

In her “Red Coat” disguise, Charlotte takes over the game from Mona and recruits her and others to help her continue targeting the Liars. Charlotte is unmasked as “Big A” by Aria, but she ends up escaping to France. After some time, she returns to Rosewood, kidnaps and tortures the Liars, and tells her story about her transgender transformation from Charles to Charlotte. She became “A” to punish the girls for being happy that her adopted sister Alison was dead. Charlotte attempts suicide but is stopped and put into a psychiatric hospital. When she gets out after five years, she is murdered — which spawns the creation of “A.D.,” aka Uber “A.”

“The A Team”

Identity: Mona, Toby Cavanaugh, Melissa Hastings, Lucas Gottesman, Darren Wilden, Sara Harvey, and Noel Kahn

Mona, Toby Cavanaugh, Melissa Hastings, Lucas Gottesman, Darren Wilden, Sara Harvey, and Noel Kahn (Credit: Getty Images)
Janel Parrish as Mona Vanderwaal, Keegan Allen as Toby Cavanaugh, Torrey DeVitto as Melissa Hastings, Brendan Robinson as Lucas Gottesman, Bryce Johnson as Darren Wilden, Dre Davis as Sara Harvey, and Brant Daugherty as Noel Kahn. (Photo: Getty Images)

Various Rosewood residents play parts in helping both Mona and Charlotte during their tenures as “A.” This includes Spencer’s boyfriend, Toby, who joins to keep her safe. Spencer herself joins to get more info on the mysterious “Red Coat” leader and Toby’s activities. Others, like Melissa and Lucas, were blackmailed into helping.

The Copycat “A Team”

Identity: Mary Drake, Archer Dunhill/Elliott Rollins, Jenna Marshall, Sara Harvey, and Noel Kahn

Mary Drake, Elliott Rollins, Jenna Marshall, Sara Harvey, Noel Kahn (Credit: Getty Images)
Andrea Parker as Mary Drake, Huw Collins as Archer Dunhill/Elliott Rollins, Tammin Sursok as Jenna Marshall, Dre Davis as Sara Harvey, and Brant Daugherty as Noel Kahn. (Photo: Getty Images)

The new “A Team,” led by Uber “A,” torments the liars in order to get the truth about who killed Charlotte. Mary is a key part of the team as Charlotte’s mother, but ends up bonding with Alison and leaving the team. Elliott, aka Archer Dunhill, was Charlotte’s lover and wants revenge. He’s accidentally run over and killed by Hanna. Jenna was Charlotte’s friend and recruited Noel Kahn for a second round of targeting the Liars. The two of them lure the Liars to a school, but Noel winds up dead by decapitation. Jenna shoots Spencer, who is revealed to be Mary Drake’s other child.

Uber “A” (aka “A.D.”)

Identity: Unknown

Sasha Pieterse as Alison, Shay Mitchell as Emily, Troian Bellisario as Spencer, Ashley Benson as Hanna, and Lucy Hale as Aria. (Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC)

The mysterious watcher set his/her sights on the girls from the day of Charlotte’s funeral and has been monitoring them under disguises. At first, Uber “A” signed letters with emoji instead of the classic “A,” but after Hanna claimed she killed Charlotte, s/he began signing “A.D.” Even members of the Copycat “A Team” don’t know A.D.’s identity — in the finale, Jenna is surprised when A.D. unmasks him/herself.

So, who is Uber “A”? As I. Marlene King tells Yahoo TV, the second half of the final season focuses on “the reveal of Uber ‘A’ and the story of Uber ‘A’ and the motivations behind everything, and bringing that character to life in a three-dimensional way.”

There are already a ton of fan theories about the identity of “A.D.,” from Lucas to Alison (“A.D.” are her initials) to Spencer somehow (even though she was shot in the finale).

King says a lot of clues have been sprinkled into the show and teases, “There are a lot more clues in the next 10 episodes. It’s a thrilling ride.”

Pretty Little Liars returns Tuesday, April 18, at 8 p.m. on Freeform.

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