24 Absolutely Wild Differences Between The "Pretty Little Liars" Books And TV Show

·8 min read

One of my absolute favorite guilty pleasure shows is Pretty Little Liars. It's total chaos, but I can't resist the jaw-dropping mysteries, the ever-changing ships, and the ridiculous plot twists.

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Before there was Pretty Little Liars or Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, there were the PLL books by Sara Shepard! There are 16 books (plus companion novels), and the differences between them and the TV show are honestly astounding. Here are 24 of the absolute wildest differences between the novels and the OG show:

🚨 Warning: MAJOR spoilers ahead for both the show and the books!!! 🚨

Note: Some of the following mention grooming, sexual abuse, and suicide.

1.First off, the Liars aren't friends in the books — at least, not in the beginning.

the liars sitting around a table

On the show, everyone was previously part of Alison's tight-knit group. They also get close again pretty quickly after they start getting texts from A. In the books, it takes a lot longer for them to all bond.

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2.Caleb doesn't exist in the books...

a closeup of Caleb smiling
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...so neither does Haleb 💔!

Caleb and Hanna sitting on a bench and looking at a laptop

Several more prominent characters from the show don't exist in the books, including Paige, CeCe, Shana, and Bethany. There are also multiple important book characters who don’t exist on the show, including Jordan/Katherine, Kelsey, Amelia, Iris, and Tabitha.

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3.In the books, Ezra and Aria's illicit relationship is short-lived, and he actually ends up getting arrested for dating his underage student.

Ezra in a school hallway with a cop as people look on
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...whereas on the show, they're a main couple, and they even get MARRIED in the finale.

Aria and Ezra getting married

They reallyyy should have followed the books on this one.

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4.In the books, Aria's biggest romance is with Noel Kahn instead. The two briefly date in Season 1 of the show, but it's nothing like their relationship in the books.

Aria and Noel kissing

Book Noel is also much nicer than TV Noel.

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5.Aria also briefly marries her old boyfriend from Iceland in the books, although their marriage is later proven to not be real. This definitely doesn't happen on the show, although the Montgomery family does spend some time in Iceland before the start of the series.

Aria looking at her phone in a classroom
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6.Noel is best friends with Aria's younger brother, Mike, in the books. On the show, they barely interact.

closeup of Noel; closeup of Mike
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7.On the show, Toby is a very important character. In the books, he's only a minor character — and he's not a good guy at all.

Toby helping a girl with an eye injury

In the books, Toby is revealed to have sexually abused his stepsister, Jenna, and he later kills himself. In the show, it's reversed, and Jenna actually abuses Toby.

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...so, yeah, Spoby definitely isn't a thing in the books.

Toby and Spencer kissing

On the show, Toby is Spencer's main love interest, and their romance was actually written into the scripts because of the chemistry between Troian Bellisario (Spencer) and Keegan Allen (Toby). In an interview with Vulture, showrunner I. Marlene King explained: "The chemistry they had was so interesting. We wanted to push it toward a romantic place."

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8.Spencer ends up with Wren in the books. Her sister, Melissa, ends up with Wilden.

Spencer talking to Wren

Also, his character is mixed Korean and British in the books, whereas he's only British on show.

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9.In the books, Emily is bisexual and has relationships with both guys and girls. On the show, her character comes out as a lesbian.

Emily kissing a girl
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10.Also, Emily has a secret baby in the books! Yup, you read that right.

In the books, she gets pregnant, has a daughter, and places the baby up for adoption — all while hiding everything from her parents. 

In the books, she gets pregnant, has a daughter, and places the baby up for adoption — all while hiding everything from her parents.

ABC Family/Courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection

Teen pregnancy isn't a major part of any of the Liars' storylines on the show. For a while, the characters suspect that Alison was pregnant before her "death," but this turns out to be false. Spencer and Toby also briefly have a pregnancy scare on the show. Additionally, Troian Bellisario revealed on her Instagram story that she actually filmed an abortion scene for Spencer, but it was ultimately cut.

Toby and Spencer holding each other in a bedroom
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11.Hanna and her mom are not close at all in the books.

Hanna talking to her mom at a kitchen table

In the books, Hanna's mother leaves her for a job in Singapore, and Hanna moves in with her dad. On the show, the mother-daughter duo are pretty tight-knit, and Hanna has a rocky relationship with her mostly absentee father.

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12.In the books, Spencer is blonde and Hanna has dyed auburn hair. On the show, Spencer is a brunette and Hanna is blonde.

Spencer and Hanna looking behind their shoulders

Also, Emily and Mona are both Asian on the show, but white in the books.

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13.Mike and Hanna get married in the books! On the show, it's revealed that Hanna and Mike had a secret fling a couple of years ago, but it never becomes more than that.

closeup of Hanna; closeup of Mike

Since Caleb doesn't exist in the books universe, Hanna's main love interest is Mike, and the two get married while they're still teenagers. I guess you could say they pull a Naley?

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14.In the books, Mona actually dies for real. On the show, Mona is presumed to be dead in Season 5, and Alison goes to prison for her murder. However, she later turns out to be alive.

memorial scene for Mona

In the books, she dies when she goes over a cliff. Jenna also dies in the books.

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15.Maya does NOT die in the books.

Maya looking at a girl with her hands on the girl's face

On the show, she's murdered by a stalker pretending to be her cousin. I will never understand why the writers killed her off when it really didn't add anything to the central mystery and it wasn't in the books!

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16.In the books, Emily tries to kill herself and also fakes her death. This is somewhat similar to Mona faking her death on the show.

closeup of Emily
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17.Although Mona is the first A in both the books and the show, her motives are different in each version. In the books, she becomes A because she saw the Liars blind Jenna. On the show, she's A because she wants to get revenge on the rest of the Liars for "taking her only friend," Hanna.

Mona looking serious

In the books, Mona only pretends to be Hanna's friend. On the show, their friendship is more genuine (despite Mona still, y'know, being A).

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18.On the show, Emily and Alison end up together and have twin daughters. However, Emison never happens in the books.

Emily and Alison with their twin girls
Eric Mccandless / ©ABC Family/Courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection

19.In the books, Aria's mom has a boyfriend named Xavier who acts inappropriately toward Aria. This doesn't happen on the show, but Aria's mom does have a boyfriend (Zack) who hits on Hanna.

Zack clinking wine glasses with someone
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20.On the show, Spencer has a breakdown after finding out Toby is A* and mistakenly believing that he's dead. She subsequently lands herself in Radley. In the books, Hanna is the one who spends time in a psychiatric hospital instead.

Spencer in a hospital

*Sort of. He was working with A to "protect" Spencer, whatever that means.

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21.Spencer and Alison are half-siblings in the books. On the show, they're eventually revealed to be cousins (through Spencer's biological mother).

women looking concerned
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22.In the books, Aria and Mike have a baby half-sister through their dad and his new wife, Meredith. Emily also has three siblings in the books.

Mr Montgomery smiling; Meredith looking serious

On the show, Mr. Montgomery has an affair with Meredith, but the two don't stay together, and they never conceive a child. Emily is an only child on the show.

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23.Spencer does NOT have a secret twin in the books. Instead, Alison has an identical twin, Courtney.

closeup of Courtney

Alison, jealous of her twin, convinces their parents that Courtney is unstable. They send Courtney to Radley as a result, and pretend that Alison and Jason are their only two children. During a weekend home, Courtney manages to impersonate Alison and switch places with her as revenge. Later, Alison buries Courtney alive, killing her. Their parents send Alison back to the psychiatric hospital, believing she's really Courtney. Thus, "Alison" is declared missing until the body is discovered three years later.

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24.And finally: Alison is A in the books.

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Oh, and she's also a serial killer. Take that as you will.

Which one of these surprised you the most? Tell us in the comments!