Pretty Little Liars is a show all about secrets — and a town where inappropriate relationships reign free without consequence.
The teen drama was a hit throughout the early 2010s, following the lives of longtime friends Spencer (Troian Bellisario), Hanna (Ashley Benson), Aria (Lucy Hale) and Emily (Shay Mitchell) as they get harassed by a mysterious entity following the disappearance and alleged death of their queen bee, Alison DiLaurentis (Sasha Pieterse).
For the entirety of the show’s seven seasons, viewers were glued to their TVs in hopes of piecing together clues to uncover the ever-omnipresent “A.” The show also carved plenty of space for the girls’ romances, watching them fall in and out of love as they try to maintain relationships while under attack from an unnamed enemy.
While the romantic pairings sparked great passion from fans at the time, it wasn’t until the show wrapped in 2017 that the discussion over how inappropriate — and at times illegal — many of the onscreen dynamics actually were. Aria and Ezra (Ian Harding), in particular, were depicted as the star-crossed lovers of the series despite Ezra being eight years Aria’s senior and her teacher.
(The show is shot in Pennsylvania, where the age of consent is 16, but the state allows 16- and 17-year-olds to consent to those under the age of 18. Ezra was 24, according to scripts found online.)
While PLL initially attempted to persuade viewers that Ezra didn’t know Aria’s age when they met, it’s later revealed that Ezra was fully aware she was in high school, as he was stalking her and her friends to collect research for his true-crime novel. The appropriate ending for Ezra is jail time, but PLL had him walk down the aisle with Aria and say “I do.”
Aria and Ezra weren’t the only shocking romance PLL introduced throughout the series. Keep scrolling for every inappropriate relationship that made our skin crawl:
Aria and Ezra
Out of all the inappropriate relationships that occurred in Rosewood, Aria and Ezra’s romance took the cake. The list of why this is a bad — and illegal — pairing are endless, starting with Aria and Ezra’s meeting in the pilot when they were 16 and 24, respectively. While the show initially tries to persuade fans that Ezra wasn’t aware of Aria’s age, it’s later discovered that he knew all along, as he was stalking her and her friends to write a true-crime book about Alison’s disappearance.
Ezra was also Aria’s teacher, something that is romanticized in the show and often depicted as a star-crossed obstacle to overcome.
While the possibility of Ezra facing consequences for his actions is teased throughout the series, nothing ever comes to fruition. Aria and Ezra are arguably the biggest romance on PLL, remaining in each other’s lives for the entirety of the show’s seven seasons. They tie the knot in the series finale, with her friends and family in attendance.
Aria and Jason
The show states that Aria is typically drawn to older men, so it’s no surprise she had a crush on Alison’s older brother, Jason (Drew Van Acker) when she was growing up. Things turn problematic when Jason reciprocates feelings in season 2 despite her being 16 while he is 22. To make matters worse, he was also part of the NAT Club in high school, a group that would videotape Aria and her then-preteen friends without their consent.
The duo get together later on in the show, but it’s after the time jump, making Aria of legal age.
Spencer and Ian
Spencer and Ian (Ryan Merriman) first kiss when she is a freshman in high school and he is in college — and dating her sister, Melissa (Torrey DeVitto). Ian is also a founding member of the NAT Club, which spied on Spencer and her friends in private without their knowledge.
Spencer and Wren
Wren (Julian Morris) is the second love interest of Melissa’s that Spencer involves herself with. The first romantic moment between them happens after Wren and Melissa get engaged and Spencer is still just 16. While Spencer initially pulls away from their kiss, the pair continue to have an on-and-off relationship throughout the show.
Alison and Ezra
Ezra strikes again. When Alison meets Ezra in a bar, she pretends to be a college student, and the pair start a relationship, which is shown through flashbacks in season 4. It’s Ezra’s connection to Alison that causes him to start following her friends for his true-crime book.
Alison and Ian
PLL featured many repeat offenders in the inappropriate relationships category. It’s revealed during season 1 that Ian was seeing Alison while dating Melissa — and kissing Spencer. When Ian died a brutal death in season 2, his killer was never revealed, but fans weren’t exactly sorry to see him go.
Hanna and Wren
When Wren isn’t cheating on Melissa with her younger sister, he’s contemplating sparking a romance with Spencer’s best friend Hanna. Hanna kisses Wren in season 3 after the two bond in Radley over Mona (Janel Parrish), who has been admitted after confessing to torturing the girls. While Wren approaches Hanna for a date after their spontaneous and secret smooch, Hanna turns him down in loyalty to Spencer and her boyfriend, Caleb (Tyler Blackburn).
And oops — did we forget to mention Wren also has a relationship with Spencer’s evil twin, Alex, before she kills him in the series finale?
Hanna and Detective Holbrook
In Detective Holbrook’s (Sean Paris) defense, Hanna kisses him in season 4 without warning, and he clarifies it can’t happen again. However, he still allows the two to form a friendship outside of Alison’s missing person case, which is definitely crossing a line given that Hanna is 16. When he exits the show in season 5, his career is in ruins, and we can’t say we were sorry to see it.
Emily and Talia
When Emily starts working with Talia (Miranda Rae Mayo) at The Brew in season 5, her age is never technically revealed. However, she’s got a full-time job and later confesses she’s married, while Emily is still a senior in high school. Chances are there was a big age gap here, and the pair should have just remained coworkers.
Aria and Jake (Maybe)
We’re on the fence about this one, as it is never revealed how old Jake (Ryan Guzman) actually is. This one might get a pass except for the fact Jake is a student at Hollis, making him at least 18 to Aria’s 16. He also runs his own business, which could make him even older. We’re not entirely opposed, but we are throwing major side-eye.