Any fan of PLL knows that calling the Aria and Ezra ship a complicated one is sort of like saying the Hastings family tree is just a tad twisted. For those rooting for Aria to end up with Ezra at the end of the series, however, the Pretty Little Liars' finale was the ultimate gift: The couple finally said their "I dos," and pretty much everyone forgot about their illegal student-teacher romance or that whole "Ezra's tell-all book about Ali" fiasco.
In real life, Hale and Harding are as close as ever, but, as far as fans know, have never taken their friendship into romantic territory. However, that doesn't mean Hale didn't think about what could have been between her and her co-star.
In a segment on Ellen DeGeneres' YouTube series, the Show Me More Show, Hale and her PLL co-stars Sasha Pieterse, Ashley Benson, Shay Mitchell, and Troian Bellisario, answered a few "have or have not" questions, one of which included "Never have I ever had a crush on a cast member." While Mitchell and Benson admitted they were secretly yearning for Nolan North (a.k.a. Spencer's dad Peter!), it was Hale who revealed a shocking truth about her season 1 self.
"I'm not going to say mine," Hale said on the series, before eventually spilling the tea.
"Oh whatever, it was Ian! Ian Harding, season 1. Well, whatever, I was 20."
One very interesting thing about the conversation? Just before Hale revealed her crush, she looked to Bellisario — who also admitted to having a crush on a cast member — and said:
"Was ours the same at one point?," suggesting that, perhaps, the real-life Spencer was also into the onscreen English teacher.
Of the romances that did happen in Hale's life, they left a literal mark. When asked if she ever had to cover up a hickey, the actress admitted the truth:
"I have very sensitive skin."
Of course, crushes are just that — crushes. And while things between Hale and Harding are totally platonic now, it does recontextualize that steamy bar bathroom scene in the pilot.