Why Pretty Little Liars Was Canceled After 7 Seasons

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Bursting onto the TV scene in 2010, Pretty Little Liars quickly grew a fanatical cult following of adoring fans.

Loosely based on a novel series of the same name by Sara Shepard that you can buy on Amazon, Pretty Little Liars managed to draw audiences in with its mysterious plot of high school drama, suspicious disappearances, and blackmail.

The series’ was developed by Alloy Entertainment, a company best known for its book packaging (a publishing practice where companies outsource tasks related to creating a book; writing, researching, etc.).

Troian Bellisario as Spencer Hastings, Ashley Benson as Hanna Marin, Shay Mitchell as Emily Fields, and Lucy Hale as Aria Montgomery in the American teen drama mystery-thriller television series Pretty Little LiarsTroian Bellisario as Spencer Hastings, Ashley Benson as Hanna Marin, Shay Mitchell as Emily Fields, and Lucy Hale as Aria Montgomery in the American teen drama mystery-thriller television series Pretty Little Liars (Credit: Warner Horizon Television / Freeform)

Alloy contacted author Sara Shepard to allow her to begin developing the plot (which was then dubbed “Desperate Housewives for teens”) into a full book series. The first book (entitled Pretty Little Liars) was published in October of 2006.

By the summer of 2008, the show’s pillow episode was being developed for the ABC network. From the get-go, producers picked up on the strong potential for Pretty Little Liars to resonate with its target demographic.

The Beginning of the PLL Ensemble

The show’s plot revolves around a group of five high school girls named Spencer Hastings, Alison DeLaurentis, Aria Montgomery, Hanna Marin, and Emily Fields, who all live in the small suburban town of Rosewood, Pennsylvania.

When initially producing the show, the showrunners of Pretty Little Liars knew they needed to construct an ensemble cast of talented actresses to portray their core group of protagonists.

They turned to young starlets Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Shay Mitchell, and Lucy Hale to act as the clique at the heart of Pretty Little Liars.

Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, and Troian Bellisario arrive at the "Pretty Little Liars" celebrates Halloween episodeAshley Benson, Lucy Hale, and Troian Bellisario arrive at the “Pretty Little Liars” celebrates Halloween episode held at Hollywood Forever on October 15, 2013, in Hollywood, California (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)

While the different actresses would audition for different roles within the main cast of characters, the casting directors would settle with Bellisario playing Spencer Hastings, Ashley Benson playing Hanna Marin, Lucy Hale playing Aria Montgomery, and Shay Mitchell playing Emily Fields.

Additionally, Sasha Pieterse was cast as Alison DeLaurentis, the manipulative leader of the group who goes missing at the beginning of the show.

Sasha Pieterse as former former "queen bee" Alison DiLaurentis in Pretty Little LiarsSasha Pieterse as former former “queen bee” Alison DiLaurentis in Pretty Little Liars (Credit: Warner Horizon Television / Freeform)

Each of the young actresses had a different journey to Hollywood by the time production on Pretty Little Liars began. Troian Bellisario is the daughter of Donald P. Bellisario and Deborah Pratt, two Hollywood producers.

At the 2016 People’s Choice Awards, she celebrated that Pretty Little Liars won the award for Favorite Cable TV Drama.

Actress Troian Bellisario in a blue and white graphic Caterina Gatta dress, a Benedetta Bruzziches clutch, and Vita Fede jewelry at People's Choice Awards 2016Actress Troian Bellisario in a blue and white graphic Caterina Gatta dress, a Benedetta Bruzziches clutch, and Vita Fede jewelry at People’s Choice Awards 2016 at Microsoft Theater on January 6, 2016, in Los Angeles, California (Credit: Jaguar PS / Shutterstock)

She began her acting career at age 3 with a small role in the 1988 film Last Rites, which was produced and directed by her father.

Although her character is 16 years old, Troian was 24 when she was cast in the role of Spencer Hastings. When the final episode aired on June 27, 2017, Troian was 31 years old.

Troian Bellisario shows off her feet in Alexandre Birman shoesTroian Bellisario shows off her feet in Alexandre Birman shoes at the Pretty Little Liars 100th Episode Celebration held at W Hollywood on May 31, 2014, in Hollywood (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)

Ashley Benson had a passion for dance at a young age, before transitioning to acting. She began modeling for print ads at the age of 8 and landed her first major role as Abigail Deveraux from 2004 to 2007.

After roles in films such as 13 Going on 30 and Bring It On: In It to Win It, Benson was 20 years old when she was cast as Hanna Marin in Pretty Little Liars.

Ashley Benson was cast as Hanna Marin in the ABC Family mystery-thriller teen drama series Pretty Little Liars in December 2009Ashley Benson was cast as Hanna Marin in the ABC Family mystery-thriller teen drama series Pretty Little Liars in December 2009 (Credit: Warner Horizon Television / Freeform)

Born in Mississauga, Canada, Shay Mitchell began her acting career with small roles in multiple television series, including Degrassi: The Next Generation, and Rookie Blue.

Naya Rivera’s lookalike was 22 when she was cast as Emily Fields in Pretty Little Liars.

Sasha Pieterse kissing the much older Shay Mitchell during an episode of Pretty Little LiarsSasha Pieterse kissing the much older Shay Mitchell during an episode of Pretty Little Liars (Credit: Warner Horizon Television / Freeform)

Lucy Hale began her career in entertainment with a focus on music, moving to Los Angeles in pursuit of a record deal.

However, Hale would transition to acting and landed small television roles in shows such as Drake and Josh, The O.C., Wizards of Waverly Place, and Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide.

Lucy Hale as Aria Montgomery kissing Ian Harding as Ezra Fitz during an episode of Pretty Little LiarsLucy Hale as Aria Montgomery kissing Ian Harding as Ezra Fitz during an episode of Pretty Little Liars (Credit: Warner Horizon Television / Freeform)

She would land her first major television role in the short-lived series Bionic Woman, where she played the role of Becca Sommers. She was 20 years old when she was cast as Aria Montgomery in Pretty Little Liars.

The Impact of Pretty Little Liars

As previously mentioned, the show would prove to be extremely popular upon its premiere on June 8, 2010.

The show was the highest-rated series debut for ABC Family across the target demographics of the show and hit second place for the network with a total viewership of 2.47 million unique viewers.

Ashley Benson, Shay Mitchell, Lucy Hale, Troian Bellisario, Sasha Pieterse display their feet and legs in high heelsAshley Benson, Shay Mitchell, Lucy Hale, Troian Bellisario, Sasha Pieterse display their feet and legs in high heels (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)

This initial audience would only be built upon, as the last episode of the first season would draw in a shocking 3.07 million unique viewers.
The show would win over its target teenage audiences with its thrilling, mysterious plot.

Following the disappearance of the leader of a clique of teenage girls, the rest of the group receive threatening messages from someone known only as “A”. “A” blackmails the group of girls, threatening to reveal their deepest, darkest secrets if certain conditions are not met.

This plot would continue to engage audiences, and Pretty Little Liars would go on for a total of seven seasons before ending in 2017.

At the 2012 Teen Choice Awards, Pretty Little Liars picked up the award for Choice Drama Show. Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Ian Harding, Lucy Hale, and Shay Mitchell celebrated with their surfboard award in the press room

Troian Bellisario in a Maria Lucia Hohan bodysuit and skirt, Ashley Benson in a Monique Lhuillier top and Balenciaga pants, Ian Harding, Lucy Hale in a Wes Gordon dress, and Shay Mitchell in a Donna Karan dress in the Press Room of the 2012 Teen Choice AwardsTroian Bellisario in a Maria Lucia Hohan bodysuit and skirt, Ashley Benson in a Monique Lhuillier top and Balenciaga pants, Ian Harding, Lucy Hale in a Wes Gordon dress, and Shay Mitchell in a Donna Karan dress in the Press Room of the 2012 Teen Choice Awards at Gibson Amphitheater on July 22, 2012, in Los Angeles (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)

The series finale of the show premiered on July 27, 2017, and polarized fans of the show with its shocking reveal of the series long antagonist, the “A” team.

According to reports, Pretty Little Liars was not renewed for yet another season because the show’s creator I. Marlene King did not renew her contract.

“It’s been an honor to work with such a talented cast and crew over the last seven years. We are a family, and it will be hard to say goodbye to a show that has made such an impact on young audiences and been a mouthpiece for cultural change,” King said in a statement announcing that “Pretty Little Liars” would end after its seventh season.

Ina Marlene King, the executive producer and showrunner of the Freeform teen drama series Pretty Little Liars, posing with Sasha Pieterse and Shay MitchellIna Marlene King, the executive producer and showrunner of the Freeform teen drama series Pretty Little Liars, posing with Sasha Pieterse and Shay Mitchell at the Made Here exhibit preview at the Warner Brothers Studio on June 14, 2017, in Burbank, California (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)

“I’m excited for fans to finally have all of their questions answered, and I believe they will be satisfied with the wild ride that is our last ten episodes. I am also thrilled to embark on my next endeavor ‘Famous In Love’ with Bella Thorne and for ‘PLL’ fans to get wrapped up in Paige’s rise to stardom and the pitfalls of Hollywood.”

The show would spawn a number of short-lived spinoffs, including Ravenswood in October 2013, and Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists in 2019.

Shay Mitchell, Lucy Hale, Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, and Ian Harding celebrate that Pretty Little Liars won Choice Summer TV Show and Lucy and Ian also won Choice Summer TV Stars at the 2010 Teen Choice AwardsShay Mitchell in a Badgley Mischka dress, Lucy Hale, Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, and Ian Harding celebrate that Pretty Little Liars won Choice Summer TV Show and Lucy and Ian also won Choice Summer TV Stars at the 2010 Teen Choice Awards at Gibson Amphitheatre August 8, 2010, in Universal City, California (Credit: s_bukley / Shutterstock)

Despite the massive success of the first series, the spin-offs of the show would fail to recapture the popularity and fanfare that Pretty Little Liars possessed through its seven-season run.

The Future of Pretty Little Liars

Despite the conclusion of the original series in 2017 (and the conclusion of The Perfectionists in 2019), the series has still managed to attract efforts to revitalize it. In 2020, these efforts would come to a head with the announcement of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin.

Good Witch alumna Bailee Madison will star as Imogen in HBO Max’s Pretty Little Liars: Original SinGood Witch alumna Bailee Madison will star as Imogen in HBO Max’s Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin (Credit: DFree / Shutterstock)

Helmed by Riverdale creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa taking over as showrunner, this series will be the first in the Pretty Little Liars franchise to be shown on streaming services, as this show will be released on popular streaming service HBO Max.

HBO has ordered a 10-episode first season, which began filming on August 23, 2021, in New York.

Best known for the television series Glee, Big Love, Riverdale, and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is developing Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, the fourth television series in the Pretty Little Liars franchiseBest known for the television series Glee, Big Love, Riverdale, and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is developing Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, the fourth television series in the Pretty Little Liars franchise (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)

So far, young actresses Chandler Kinney, Maia Reficco, and Bailee Madison have been announced to be cast as starring roles. Following in the footsteps of the original series, Original Sin has opted to cast young stars as their teenage leads.

Chandler Kinney, posing with her mother Taryn Kinney, will portray Tabby in Pretty Little Liars: Original SinChandler Kinney, posing with her mother Taryn Kinney, will portray Tabby in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin (Credit: Eugene Powers / Shutterstock)

We are excited to see the future of the Pretty Little Liars franchise and are curious to see if this reimagining of the show will be able to recapture the magic of the first series.

In April 2016, Ashley Benson and the rest of the PLL cast cleared up the rumors that “Pretty Little Liars” would end after seven years and six full seasons as they attended the 2016 ABC Freedom Upfront in New York.

Ashley Benson sports a braided updo at the 2016 ABC Freeform UpfrontAshley Benson sports a braided updo at 2016 ABC Freeform Upfront at Spring Studios on April 7, 2016, in New York City (Credit: WENN)

The actresses were happy to let everyone know that the show would continue for another season. In August 2016, it was announced that “Pretty Little Liars” would end after its seventh season.

Ashley Benson wears a navy blue tank top and a red leather skirtAshley Benson wears a navy blue tank top and a red leather skirt (Credit: Andres Otero / C. Smith / WENN)

Ashley wore a fitted navy blue top tucked into a midi leather pencil skirt in a burnt orange shade. The actress styled her outfit with a pair of Alaïa pom-pom pumps and kept her jewelry to a minimum.

Ashley Benson's feet in studded Alaïa pumpsAshley Benson’s feet in studded Alaïa pumps (Credit: WENN)

Ashley’s outfit was kind of “meh,” if we’re being honest, but her hair was on point. Ashley wore her golden tresses up in a casual braided bun that looks perfect for summer.

Pretty Little Liars cast members (L-R) Lucy Hale, Sasha Pieterse, Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, and Shay Mitchell pose for photosPretty Little Liars cast members (L-R) Lucy Hale, Sasha Pieterse, Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, and Shay Mitchell pose for photos (Credit: WENN)

Ashley’s pom-pom pumps by Alaïa are not available online, but you can check out the sandal version at Nordstrom and Net-A-Porter.

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Filed Under: Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale

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