‘Pretty Little Liars’ Ending Explained — Who Is the Mysterious A.D.?


The Big Picture

  • After seven seasons, Pretty Little Liars finally came to an end with the unmasking of their final tormentor, A.D., who turned out to be Spencer’s identical twin sister, Alex Drake.
  • The major arcs of the show were wrapped up in the series finale, including the identity of Charlotte’s murderer (Mona Vanderwaal) and the girls’ involvement in the murder of Elliott Rollins.
  • The finale also provided happy endings for the main characters, with Aria and Ezra getting married and deciding to adopt, Alison and Emily starting a family together, Hanna discovering that she is pregnant, and Spencer and Toby rekindling their romance.

The twisted tale of Freeform’s Pretty Little Liars follows Aria Montgomery (Lucy Hale), Spencer Hastings (Troian Bellisario), Hanna Marin (Ashley Benson), and Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell) as they are stalked, tortured, and harassed by a mysterious, black-hooded text messenger who operates under the moniker “A.” As the ladies weave webs of lies and/or try to untangle the webs left behind by best friend Alison DiLaurentis (Sasha Pieterse) after her untimely demise, the stakes are raised, and the girls repeatedly find themselves in hot water. After seven seasons, long after the series revealed Mona Vanderwaal (Janel Parrish) and CeCe Drake/Charlotte DiLaurentis (Vanessa Ray) to be the first two black-hooded baddies, the story finally came to an end with the unmasking of their final tormentor who changed things up and decided to go by “A.D.” and abandoned the black hoodies. Who was it? How did the girls’ stories end? Well, let’s back up a bit first.

Image via Freeform

Pretty Little Liars

Four friends band together against an anonymous foe who threatens to reveal their darkest secrets, while also investigating the disappearance of their best friend.

Release Date
June 8, 2010

Lucy Hale, Troian Avery Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Sasha Pieterse, Janel Parrish, Andrea Parker

Main Genre


What Happens at the End of ‘Pretty Little Liars’?

Throughout the seventh season, but particularly in the latter half, the police are closing in on the girls for the murder of Elliott Rollins a.k.a. Archer Dunhill (Huw Collins), whom Hanna mowed down with her car after she was kidnapped by A.D. Though Dunhill was not responsible for Hanna’s kidnapping and torture, he did marry Alison under false pretenses while he was actually in love with her late so-called sister Charlotte. Oh, and with help from her mother’s twin sister Mary Drake (Andrea Parker), he convinced Alison that she was losing her mind, having her committed to a mental health institution where she was, as we learned much later on, forcibly impregnated using Emily’s stolen eggs. So, all in all, Hanna did what she had to do. But, unfortunately, the Rosewood Police Department did not see it that way, and A.D. trying to expose the secret led to the cops breathing down their necks for much of the final episodes. However, in the end, Mary Drake saved the girls from inevitable jail time by confessing to the murders of Dunhill and her identical twin sister Jessica. While she did kill Jessica, she took the blame for Dunhill because, truth be told, Spencer is her biological daughter who was taken away from her shortly after birth as Jessica had her imprisoned in Radley Sanitarium.

Additionally, the other major arc wrapped up was the identity of Charlotte’s murderer, as she was killed just before the five-year flash-forward that began in the middle of Pretty Little Liars Season 6. The killer turned out to be Mona Vanderwaal — which surprised nobody, as Mona consistently had bad things pinned on her throughout the show’s run, given they could never commit to making anyone truly bad — but Charlotte’s death wasn’t exactly what we had been led to believe; it was an accident. Mona confronted Charlotte after she was released from the Welby, the same institution where Alison was later imprisoned by Dunhill, threatening Charlotte if she tried to pick up the “A” game where she left off and hurt the girls again. A struggle ensued, and Mona pushed Charlotte into the wall where she was killed by something that was sticking out and punctured her neck. While, again, it was technically against the law, we learned Charlotte indeed planned to play the game again, so Mona saved them all a lot of trouble. Still, the truth getting out caused Mona to have a mental breakdown and revert back to being “Loser Mona,” so she was sent back to Welby for treatment. Discovering who the killer was also got A.D. off of their backs, so they headed into the future free… at least for a year, where the series finale picks up.

Who Is A.D. In ‘Pretty Little Liars’?

Troian Bellisario as Alex Drake on Pretty Little Liars
Image via Freeform

In the two-hour Pretty Little Liars series finale, A.D. enlists Mona in their mission, prompting Mona to kidnap Spencer. When Spencer wakes, she is locked in a glass cell. She looks at her reflection in the glass, groggy and uncertain of where she is. Then, her reflection moves when she doesn’t, and a well-delivered “Boo!” confirms the truth. Just like her biological mother, Spencer has an identical twin. Her name? Alex Drake. Thus begins the tale, from both Alex’s and Mary’s perspectives, of her life and how she wound up in Rosewood as their final tormentor.

When Spencer was born, she was given to her father Peter (Nolan North) and Veronica (Lesley Fera). Unbeknownst to her family, Mary had a second child shortly thereafter, whom she agreed to sell to a family in England to have the power to finally escape the Radley Sanitarium. Shortly after that, due to some undescribed issues, Alex was placed in the foster care system where she remained until she was an adult. Then, around the time that Alison came back from the dead at the beginning of Season 5, Alex ran into Wren (Julian Morris) in London. The two began to date and Wren, somehow knowing CeCe and Spencer’s true parentage, called CeCe to meet her sister. CeCe, Alex, Wren, and Archer spent all of their time together until CeCe returned to Rosewood to continue on as the infamous “A,” too addicted to let the game go. That was the last time Alex saw CeCe.

However, she and Wren continued to date. After CeCe’s murderer was outed, Alex let go of being A.D., but she had a new mission: To become Spencer Hastings. She didn’t want to get to know her sister but wanted to take the life that she felt rightfully should have been hers. She even had Wren shoot her to give her the same scar that Spencer has. Unfortunately, Wren got in the way of Alex’s plan, so she killed him and turned him into a diamond to wear around her neck always. He wouldn’t ever see her as anyone but Alex, whom she desperately wanted to leave behind, but her sights were already on Toby (Keegan Allen) anyway. Through flashbacks in some of the more memorable episodes of the final season, we see she had already pretended to be Spencer since the flash-forward began, kissing and sleeping with Toby on two separate occasions in Season 7. (Oh, and Wren is also the biological father of Emily and Alison’s twins.) Alex pretends to be Spencer in the episode but is quickly outed by Jenna (Tammin Sursok), who immediately — through her superpowered sense of smell — clocks that it’s not Spencer, but she recognizes the person as A.D. from their earlier meeting. Eventually, Spencer is freed from her underground prison (created underneath the house Toby built for her), with Alex carted off to jail by the police.

What Happens to the Liars in the Finale?The girls of Pretty Little Liars, Lucy Hale's Aria, Ashley Benson's Hanna, Shay Mitchell's Emily, Troian Bellisario's Spencer, and Sasha Pieterse's Alison, hugging and looking at each other with smiles on their faces in the series finale.

As for the Liars, the series finale is especially focused on setting up the next phases of their lives following the one-year time jump. Aria and Ezra (Ian Harding) fly home for their wedding from Los Angeles, where their best-selling novel is being turned into a movie. On the eve of their wedding, however, Aria discovers she cannot have children. Then, Alex kidnaps Ezra, as he saw her with Wren one time at the airport and was the only person she felt could out her true identity. Aria thinks Ezra stood her up, but once the truth is out, their wedding is back on. They get married, then Aria announces to her friends that they’ve decided to adopt. For Alison and Emily, their life together is well underway with two beautiful baby girls and their jobs at Rosewood High School. With Pam’s help, Alison proposes to Emily, but Emily catches on to Alison keeping secrets beforehand and ruins the surprise. Still, they become engaged, ready to have their happily ever after.

Meanwhile, Hanna and Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) are experiencing some rockiness as a married couple. Hanna is attempting to run her fashion brand, Caleb is successful in the tech world, and the two are trying to have a baby and bickering constantly. Matters are made worse when Hanna agrees to let a recently-released Mona stay with them, much to Caleb’s chagrin. Once they get past their bickering and passive-aggressive comments, they thoughtfully converse about the situation and decide Mona will have to stay somewhere else. Later in the episode, Hanna reveals to her friends that, while still early, she is pregnant! As for Spencer, her story is left relatively unfinished, especially as much of her time in the series finale is taken over by Alex and the reveal. We learn Spencer has decided to become a lawyer, working with her mother Veronica at a small practice in Rosewood. Though we don’t see their official reunion, Spencer and Toby have decided to put the past behind them and begin their romance anew. So, happy endings all around, letting the girls’ lives continue and leaving the audience to imagine what comes next in their stalker-free existence.

Unanswered Questions After the ‘Pretty Little Liars’ Finale

However, it wouldn’t be Pretty Little Liars without some loose threads. Before the series fades to black for the final time, two major cliffhangers are left in our laps. First, we head over to Paris to see Mona’s new life. Or, rather, the new version of her old life. As it turns out, the cop who took Alex and Mary away from the underground bunker wasn’t a real cop, but a lackey for Mona. So, Mona has her own bunker where Alex and Mary have become her dolls. Mary comments about how Mona can’t have them locked away forever, but Alex isn’t so sure. It’s Mona, after all. While not necessarily the redemption we’d hoped for Mona, it certainly does fit her story.

Back in Rosewood, the carbon copy of teenage Alison, Addison (Ava Allan), has been stirring up trouble with both teenagers and adults alike. She even tried to cause drama for Emily earlier on in Season 7, then for Alison in the series finale. She’s a nightmare, giving Alison flashbacks of how awful she used to be. But, in true Rosewood fashion, Addison isn’t a problem for much longer. On a stormy night, much like the one where Alison went missing, a group of girls awake in a barn to find their leader — Addison — missing. Willa (Sydney Sweeney) returns to the barn after wandering outside to tell her friends that she thinks she heard someone scream. While we may never know what happened to Addison, it certainly goes to show that history will continue to repeat itself in Rosewood. All in all, the Pretty Little Liars finale is an emotional send-off for the characters who had become like family for seven years. There are definitely flaws, and fans certainly have their varied opinions of how the story played out, but the writers were certain to give the girls happy endings after so much suffering. That said, it doesn’t wrap things up to the point where we couldn’t reasonably bring these characters back at some point in the future. But, for now, we have Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin on the streamer formerly known as HBO Max, which will have to suffice.

Every episode of Pretty Little Liars is streaming on Max and Hulu.

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