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Game of Thrones, Pretty Little Liars, and the Arya-Aria Connection

Sunday night was the season finale of Game of Thrones, and given the show's ever-expanding stories, hundreds of characters, and complicated relationships, ten episodes never quite feels like enough, especially of the most endearing and interesting characters. Like Arya Stark.

But fear not, GoT fans. Because Arya Stark returns to TV tonight as her alternate self, Aria Montgomery, the doe-eyed star of ABC Family's murder-mystery teen soap Pretty Little Liars. What's that, you say? These characters are nothing alike? Pish-posh.

First, and almost too dumb to mention but not quite, Aria and Arya sound alike. (And both names are on the upswing! Aria was the 157th most popular name for girls born in 2011, up from 957th most popular in 2000; Arya only cracked the top 1,000 in 2010, but leaped more than 200 spots to be 711th in 2011.) Second, both of their fathers had serious extramarital affairs. Both girls have beautiful, world-weary mothers, perhaps made the more weary by said extramarital affairs. Both girls have undergone significant and symbolic hair changes — Aria has punky highlights in flashbacks, and Arya cut her hair short so she could pass as a boy. They both have associates who kill people, though Aria is afraid that the mysterious "A" who texts her and her pals might kill her, while Arya winds up with an assassin at her disposal.

They both hang out with handsome bastards: Arya with Gendry, secret son of Robert Baratheon, and Aria with Jason DiLaurentis, secret son of her friend Spencer's dad. They are both pretty comfortable with blackmail, and they both have dumb siblings (Sansa, Mike). They are both overexposed to death and violence, which makes them precocious. Thrones has a seemingly endless supply of scraggly old men, while Liars traffics in bland hunks — and all these easy-to-confuse characters are up to no good.

Aria and Arya, secretly the same. QED.

Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO, Andrew Eccles/Disney Enterprises