We Found Out Who Pretty Little Liars Almost Killed Off — & More Juicy Finale Secrets

After seven years, hundreds of thousands of theories, two A's (okay, fine, one A, and one AD), and more coffees from The Brew than we can count, Pretty Little Liars came to an end last night. That's right: Like, forever. And the ending was even crazier than we could have imagined. (Which is probably why it's already the most-tweeted TV episode of 2017 so far.)
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Spoiler alert: AD is Alex Drake, Spencer Hastings' long lost twin (and Mary Drake's other daughter). Yup — Alex was so long lost that she somehow grew up in the UK, has a British accent, and then returned to Rosewood to take out her anger about being the discarded twin on Spencer and her friends, torturing the girls and even impersonating Spencer for the last few years.
Of course, I had to talk to creator and showrunner Marlene King about that finale, because I had So. Many. Questions. Our conversation essentially began by me asking: Girl. WTF?!?!? But by the end, I got some explanations, juicy secrets, and even a (tiny bit) of hope for a potential movie one day...!
I have so many questions for you about that finale! But first, I know you'd planned to watch together with the Liars. Where did you guys end up?
"We watched it at the screening room at the London Hotel. And then had a nice little screening party afterwards with lots of drinks, of course. Thanks to Warner Bros."
Last time we talked, you said you felt like you'd had so many goodbyes with this show, from the last table read to the final scene you filmed. Did this feel like the real end for you all?
"It was funny. I was just feeling so weird yesterday. There was no word to explain it. Then, I was talking to Kyle, one of my writers, and he was like ‘I’m feeling so weird,’ and I was like ‘Me, too.' The second we hung up the phone, Troian [Bellisario, who plays Spencer] called me and she was like ‘I’m feeling so weird.’ I feel like we all kind of felt this weird sense of impending doom. Then, once the episode started, we all just settled down."
What was it like writing the final scenes? To me, it looked like the girls' tears in their goodbye scenes on the show were pretty real.
"The final scene I wrote was the one where they say goodbye to Aria in front of the church, and Alison has that line about ‘It just feels like the end of something.’ It was the hardest scene for me to write. I put it off. We were in prep on the episode. We had had meetings. Lisa Cochran, our producer, finally said ‘You have to write that scene. You can’t wait any longer.’ So, I just went into my office, wrote it, and cried. That was my goodbye. My first goodbye."
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Okay, so: That finale. Let's start with Alex Drake, who threw us all for a loop. Where did you get the idea to give Spencer a secret twin?
"It's an idea that was kind of in the works for awhile. I was just brainstorming back around like Season 3, and thinking about how twins run in the family. And I loved the idea of paying homage to the book; in the book, Alison has a twin, but we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to do something similar, but different. And Troian is such an amazing actress, so part of the inspiration too was really wanting to see her get to play and do something so different with her acting skills. It became part of this mythology that we started weaving into the show years ago."
Obviously Troian knew first who AD was, since she had to play both Spencer and Alex Drake in that finale episode. How did you reveal AD to the rest of the cast?
"Troian had asked to keep it a secret, because she didn’t want the other actors to know when she was Alex and when she wasn’t in those scenes. As an actress, I honored that. I think it was really smart, too, because the other people just treated it as though they were playing with Spencer, as opposed to Alex. Everyone found out close to the final table read. The girls just started feeling out lies and putting things together. But it wasn't until that final table read that everybody found out for sure."
What's your response to people — like me! — who were disappointed that AD wasn't a character we already knew or had met before, like Spencer's sister Melissa?
"Well, the character wasn’t exactly unknown! We met the character several times over the past ten episodes, which was the wink. But it really would be impossible to make all of the viewers happy. Some people wanted it to be one of the girls, which, to me, made no sense whatsoever. Why would they torture themselves in that way? As the writers, we thought with it being Spencer's twin, you got the best of both worlds. It was almost like having it be a Pretty Little Liar, but one step removed, because at times you forget that you’re watching Alex instead of Spencer. So for me, it was getting to have your cake and eat it too."
Were there any other people in the running to be AD? I had this theory that it would be Caleb, because at various points we thought A was Ezra or Toby, but we were never suspicious of Caleb. And I was always suspicious of Melissa.
"The other two people in the running were Melissa or Wren, because they were all dangerously playing out in this PLL universe over the years. But one of the reasons we for sure went with Alex Drake as A.D. versus some of our non-series regular actors is because there are certain actors that you aren't sure you'll definitely be able to get for the finale, because they aren't series regulars. So actor availability played a factor, too."
Photo: Courtesy of Freeform.
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Okay, so now I have a few things I need to clear up, or I won't be able to sleep at night. (And my fellow PLL-watching friends will kill me if I don't ask.) First: How the heck did Emily and Alison end up with twins? Last we heard before the finale, they were having one baby!
"One was hiding behind the other! Honestly, that was just us having some fun playing with that recurring twins theme that we always anticipated."
And the girls never find out that Wren was the twins’ biological father, right?
"I think that off-screen, they did. They probably found out later that year."
Where did you come up with that creepy idea for Alex to turn Wren's ashes into a diamond she wore around her neck?
"Honestly, we love Julian [Morris, who plays Wren]. He was going to have a big death scene, and we were supposed to have him on set for a few days of shooting and then, last minute, he got a movie and had to fly back to London. So we were literally rewriting his death scene because we only had him for one day to shoot those scenes. So, we were like ‘You know what? Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.’"
Only in Rosewood, I tell ya. Also: Where in the world is Jason? He just completely disappeared!
"That’s another one that was about actor availability. He was on Training Day and we just couldn’t get him. We were literally begging. We were so happy we even got to shoot Melissa for a day."
Did you ever think about killing off any of the characters in the finale, or was that just not an option for you?
"There was a brief flash of a moment where we were going to possibly kill Ali. But that lasted like, a day. I even had talked to Sasha [Pieterse, who plays Ali] about it, and she was like ‘Oh, okay, if that’s really what you wanna do...’ and then I was like ‘No, no, no. That’s not what we wanna do.’ I just can’t. I would’ve never done it. I couldn’t even write the goodbye scene. There’s no way I could’ve written a PLL death."
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That would’ve been pretty shocking. Although some people might've been happy, because not everyone loves Ali.
"It’s a love-hate thing. But Ali and Emily's fans — the Emison fans — are the most passionate. They were always our most 'shipped couple. They're very passionate."
Did you always know that you wanted all of the couples to end up together in the end?
"I did. I’m such a romantic in that way. I felt like our fans had been so patient and sometimes impatient, but they stuck with us through the long haul. That was a debate in the writer’s room. But I felt like you had to give it to them. It’s not real life that maybe they would all be together, but it’s Rosewood!"
Photo: Courtesy of Freeform.
Where do you think the girls are going to be ten years from now, in your perfect Marlene world?
"I think they so deserve happiness. They’re moving on with their lives and karma is rewarding them. They’re living a stress-free happy life."
You ended the series the same way it began, with a new group of high school girls who realize their friend has gone missing. Does that mean there's a possibility for a spin-off?
"The intention of that was just to have fun, to say that the mythology of this town lives on. Even if our girls our happy, this creepy Rosewood place continues to be the creepy Rosewood place. The door is open a crack for a possible reboot sometime, but it’s definitely not in the works right now. It was just for fun."
And what about a movie? I feel like we would all lineup with tons of popcorn for a Pretty Little Liars movie. Even if I'm like, a grandmother by then.
"I would love it. I think we all want to give each other the time to do new things and stretch our creative wings and muscles. If the future stars align and everybody’s available at the same time and that’s something we wanna do, I would love to keep the world alive. In a big, giant movie way!"
Maybe we’ll even get to meet another secret twin we didn't know about!
"Hey, nobody died, so anything is possible!"
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