It’s been twelve years since Pretty Little Liars hit screens for the first time–and five years since A was unmasked in one of TV’s most unsatisfying reveals ever. Between the many love interests from Pretty Little Liars, there have been some okay, some great, and some horrible pairings. I took on the task of ranking those love interests, and let me just say: It was rough. I had to look up a few because they just weren’t memorable.
Before you read this, be warned that there are spoilers if you haven’t finished the show. And you just might be surprised where a few characters end up in the ranking.
Never Should Have Happened: Ezra Fitzgerald
Let’s start off with one that most fans, especially myself, cringe at when they look back on it. When Pretty Little Liars first premiered, there was a bunch of talk about how cute they were together and how strong of a couple they were as the show went on.
However, it’s a little uncomfortable to watch, looking back on it now. Ezra was way too old for Aria, and despite acting like he was oblivious at first, he knew she was underage when he met her. Regardless of all they’ve been through, this relationship should never have happened.
What a Creep: Elliot Rollins
While he wasn’t going after underage girls like a few other people on this list, Elliot was still a creep. He acted madly in love with Alison after the time jump, but he definitely wasn’t. And this is only the start of Alison’s lousy track record with dating guys.
The doctor, whose real name was Archer Dunhill, dated Charlotte DiLaurentis before her death and then married Alison. And while he seemed perfect, he was actually working with Mary Drake. The way he died was perfect after he tortured Alison for so long.
Again, A Creep: Darren Wilden
Before Detective Darren Wilden started dating Hanna’s mom and investigating the Liars, he was Alison’s Beach Hottie. While I don’t think he knew she was underage when they were together, his actions towards her friends during the series were abhorrent.
While he dated Hanna’s mom, he still had a creepy air about him, so much so that I’m glad Caleb came into the picture before Darren crossed a line. If I ever met the detective in the real world, I’m sure I’d be running as fast as I could in the opposite direction.
Worked with the Enemy: Sara Harvey
On to the first of Emily’s relationships on the list, Sara Harvey was absolutely horrible for Emily’s life. However, if she wasn’t working for A, I might have had her a bit higher on the list. But since she was a bad guy through and through, low on the list she goes.
Before finding out Sara was one of the Red Coats, she seemed like a great person for Emily to date. Once Emily finds out, though, the perfect picture shatters. We find out she was only using Emily to get to the rest of the Liars, which is despicable.
Should’ve Stayed Away: Ian Thomas
When we first met Ian, he was engaged to Spencer’s sister, Melissa. But, he also had a fling with Alison before her disappearance and another fling with Spencer while with Melissa. With Alison, he was also filming the girls, but she knew about it. However, with Spencer, he knew she was underage and still pursued her.
In addition to his flings, he was also a part of the N.A.T. Club that filmed teenage girls around town. Overall, it was incredibly creepy, and he should have just left town as soon as he graduated from school. Getting married to Melissa just might have signed his death sentence.
She Was Married: Talia Sandoval
Emily met Talia at The Brew in season five while they worked together. At first glance, Talia is near-perfect. But looking closer, there are a few problems with her relationship with Emily, starting with the fact that Emily was underage at the beginning of their flirtation.
Not to mention she was technically married the entire time. Though she was separated from her husband, Eric. If you’re married to someone, maybe be upfront about it before pursuing a relationship, especially if they’re close with your employer.
Not Memorable: Andrew Campbell, Ben Coogan, and Sean Ackard
Andrew showed up for the first time in season three, but I barely remember him. In fact, I don’t recall him dating Aria or even having a crush on Aria. He was Aria’s tutor when they started dating. Honestly, though, he was still a better relationship for Aria than Ezra.
Now on to the first boyfriends of Emily and Hanna, we have Ben and Sean. The only thing I remember about them was they didn’t last long in the series. All I remember about Ben was he wasn’t a good boyfriend. Sean, on the other hand, was good; he just wasn’t right for Hanna.
Stay Away Please: Wren Kingston
I loved Wren for some reason during the first few seasons, but something felt off once he returned from London. And the reason why was that he was working for Alex Drake, Spencer’s twin sister who literally ruined the finale.
Wren was charming enough that all of his red flags went straight over my head while he was with Melissa. Thankfully my rose-colored glasses were ripped off my face when I stopped hearing his accent. I still can’t believe he turned out to be a bad guy.
Why Did This Work Out: Paige McCullers
How did Emily look past Paige quite literally trying to drown her? If that had happened to me, I don’t think I could forgive and forget so easily. Paige might have grown a lot from when she first appeared onscreen, but she crossed too many lines before their final breakup.
After Emily and Paige start dating, Paige starts obsessing over Emily’s safety, Alison, and A’s threats. Her growth throughout the show is the only reason she’s not lower on the list. She was a pretty good girlfriend at times; she and Emily just needed space away from each other more often than they needed to be together.
Not Bad, But Not Good: Noel Kahn and Marco Furey
Before Noel worked with A, he and Aria had one of the cutest relationships from the Liars’ high school years. He and Aria had chemistry, similar interests, and good banter. If Ezra hadn’t kept Aria’s heart, I think Aria could have kept Noel from working with A down the road.
On the other hand, Marco was a detective Spencer got with, but he wasn’t anything more than that. While he was a good guy in Rosewood, he wasn’t a good fit for Spencer. Mainly because it was apparent Spencer would never love him like she loved Toby.
Where’s the Maturity?: Alison DiLaurentis
Alison wasn’t the worst when it came to Emily’s girlfriends, but she wasn’t even close to being the best. She only grew up because she had to, not because she wanted to be better for Emily. However, I understand the friends-to-lovers storyline was just what Emily needed. The writers could’ve done better with it, though.
I guess Emily did the same thing she did with Paige: forgive and forget all the bad things her girlfriend did to her before they started dating. Alison constantly played with Emily’s feelings before her disappearance. And obviously, they didn’t work out because Alison was single by the time she appeared in The Perfectionists.
Too Nice for the Liars: Liam Greene and Lorenzo Calderon
I wish I had appreciated Liam more because all I remember was he was a nice guy who just happened to fall short in Aria’s eyes. Aria was always caught up on Ezra, so Liam just pulled the short straw time and time again. I will always blame Ezra for Aria’s relationship troubles.
Lorenzo, for the same reasons, was too nice to his Liar. Lorenzo was all-around a great guy who Alison just took advantage of. He could’ve been a great addition to her life, but she had to mess it up by going behind his back and using his work privileges to get what she wanted.
Too Short-Lived: Maya St. Germain and Samara Cook
Emily’s other two relationships that ended way too soon are tied on this list for many of the same reasons. Maya brought Emily out of her shell and gave her the confidence to come out. She made everything fun, and she never got involved in A’s drama.
Samara did many of the same things, but at least she didn’t die like Maya. Emily ended up rejecting her for Paige (which was a big mistake), but Samara remained mature about it. Samara was just a great girl, and Emily missed out on a healthy relationship that she desperately needed.
Good for Hanna: Jordan Hobart and Travis Hobbs
Hanna had a lot of good relationships; Jordan and Travis were just two of them. While neither was endgame and merely filled the time between her and Caleb’s relationship breaks, they treated her well, gave her attention, and could’ve been her forever guy if Caleb hadn’t come back.
Travis was the first of Hanna’s love interests after dating Caleb, and he was nice enough. However, he was only there to distract the audience from Caleb being in Ravenswood. Jordan, on the other hand, was Hanna’s fiancé. I though he was amazing every time he was on screen. Both characters are dearly missed by me.
I Blame Ezra: Jake (No Last Name)
Every time I think about Jake, I wish that Ezra had never existed in the Pretty Little Liars universe. The only reason Aria and Jake never made it past flirting and self-defense lessons was because of Aria’s English teacher/lover (ugh barf).
Jake was Aria’s martial arts teacher during season four. He’s everything Aria needed in a boyfriend. But, after looking up his age, maybe it’s best they never went past the early stages of dating because he’s about ten years older than Aria (which is much more than her age gap with Ezra).
Good, But No Growth: Toby Cavanaugh
Everyone loves Toby and Spencer, but let’s face it: They never really grew as people when they were together. Their whole relationship was trauma bonding and secrets that kept getting exposed. Honestly, this reminds me of high school couples who are too scared to pursue other relationships after graduation.
I also don’t really understand why Toby didn’t tell her he was working with A. If Spencer had known, we wouldn’t have had to watch that painful scene of her crying outside his apartment because she couldn’t handle the betrayal.
Alison’s Best Choice: Emily Fields
While Alison wasn’t Emily’s best girlfriend, Emily was the best person Alison dated. Emily brought out all of Alison’s best qualities when they were dating, which is why she is ranked so much higher than Alison.
While I still don’t understand how Emily forgave Alison for everything that happened before, she did everything right when it came to their relationship. I’m also glad that once Alison showed up in The Perfectionists, her growth from their relationship was apparent.
Way Better Than Ezra: Jason DiLaurentis
Yes, Jason was in the N.A.T. Club, but he grew so much before he got together with Aria. They were friends long before starting a secret relationship, and they genuinely cared about each other. After everything they both went through, I was rooting for them.
However, he gets points docked because of the N.A.T. Club. After they broke up, he remained a good friend to her and supported her dreams of city living. Honestly, if their lives hadn’t gone in different directions, I think he would have been the reason she never got back with Ezra.
Drama-Free Love: Alex Santiago
While I love Toby, Alex was definitely a better fit for Spencer. When she was with Alex, she was more outgoing, fun, and engaging. He also had a level-head when dealing with her family, something Toby sometimes had trouble with.
I wish he’d stuck around longer than he had, but alas, he was only a placeholder for Spencer’s love life. If Spencer hadn’t had such a drama- and trauma-filled life, they could have made it so much longer. I’ll just have to sulk about this a bit more on my own time.
Best of the Best: Caleb Rivers
We’ve finally reached the last and best of the Liars’ love interests. Caleb Rivers was the best partner any of the girls could have gotten. And while he did leave for a while to be in Ravenswood, he came back even better than before.
The only downside to Caleb was when he dated Spencer. On the other hand, Caleb and Hanna together always made me smile. They both grew and matured together, had each others’ backs, and Caleb helped out against A at every turn.