The 20 Most Annoying Characters in Pretty Little Liars, Ranked

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Photo-Illustration: Maya Robinson/Vulture and Photos by Freeform

Pretty Little Liars has packed in a copious amount of recurring characters throughout its seven-season run — many of whom we haven’t seen in awhile — with some of them, for lack of a better word, completely sucking in their own special ways. Not everyone in the booming metropolis of Rosewood can be a total keeper, but upon rewatching the entire series in anticipation for this week’s mid-season premiere, 20 familiar faces stood out for transcending basic irritability each and every time they appeared. Take a trip down memory lane to revisit those characters, ranked for your convenience.

20. Kate Randall
Kate’s presence hasn’t graced the Rosewood metropolitan area since season two, but that didn’t stop her from being the quintessential stepsister from hell to Hanna. Her wicked (and very equestrian-centric, for some reason) ways would normally not make her a strong contender for overall annoyingness, but releasing naked photos of yourself to frame Hanna as being evil? Damn. That’s cold. And frankly, dumb.

19. Holden Strauss
This seemingly nice young man was on track to becoming Aria’s first normal boyfriend in quite some time, but, alas. He was only using her as an alibi for his underground Korean-martial-arts lifestyle that his parents didn’t approve of. Rude! (But kudos to Aria for being a good friend about it, and using him back to date Ezra.)

18. Jackie Molina
Sure, if one’s ex-fiancé unexpectedly left and shacked up with a woman significantly younger than you, a war of mutually destructive turmoil would undoubtedly ensue. But Jackie left Ezra of her own accord months before he and Aria casually got together, and trying to win his emotions back for no reason other than seeing him happy with Aria reeks of desperation. And blackmailing a teen after a teen blackmails you first? Girl, please. She gets bonus points for putting the whole situation behind her as an admissions officer, when she accepts Aria into her college, though.

17. Tom Marin
Tom hits all of the “shitty divorced father” criteria quite nicely: only coming into Hanna’s life when she’s in trouble, sleeping with his ex-wife weeks before getting married, and, to put icing on the cake, refusing to help pay Hanna’s college tuition beyond a pittance because he’s supporting his step-daughter’s (Kate!) Ivy League dreams instead. When he told Hanna he didn’t save enough money for her because he erroneously assumed she would rather spend the funds on a “good manicure” or “beach vacation,” he was begging for a punch then and there.

16. Meredith Sorenson
First off, anyone who is sexually interested in Byron Montgomery has to rethink their lives. (He never deserved Ella. Fight me.) But aside from Meredith’s general menacing behavior toward Aria, actually drugging her and locking her and her friends in the Montgomery’s basement, in the hopes of protecting Byron’s “secret” with Alison on the night she “died,” is just plain stupid and destined for failure. She hasn’t been seen since the third season, and good riddance for it.

15. Noel Kahn
Noel has been a pretty divisive figure in PLL’s history, but after chatting with actor Brant Daugherty after the character’s unexpectedly gruesome death earlier this season, we’ve come to the conclusion that Noel — before season seven’s shenanigans, where he actually went nuclear and sought some revenge against the Liars — really wasn’t as controversial a figure as the show painted him to be. Daugherty told me, “He wanted nothing more than to be with Aria and have a healthy relationship and be a popular rich jock and throw parties and have fun. It was all very harmless. And then Aria betrays him for our teacher, and then he get suspended from school, and then this whole cascade of terrible things happens to him throughout the years. Some of them are his own fault, but a lot of them are not. And he’s not privy to the same information that the four Liars are about “A” and all of these things. So he’s been misunderstood his entire run on the show.” It can’t be denied that Noel didn’t have his share of suspicious oddities and relationships, but at the end of the day, the Liars really did wreak havoc on his life and turn him into the villain that ultimately lead to his death. That’s less annoying and more unfortunate.

14. Elliott Rollins
Oh, God. American doctor Elliot — er, sorry, British “doctor” Archer Dunhill — is just the worst, isn’t he? As if pretending to be in love with Alison, marrying her, and declaring her legally insane to get her monetary share in the Carissimi Group isn’t bad enough already, he works with the maybe-evil Mary Drake. Just because he was in love with Charlotte and avenging her death! Yeesh. The only reason he isn’t higher in this ranking is because he was (rightfully) run over by Hanna’s car before he could do any more damage.

13. Garrett Reynolds
The Rosewood Police Department’s original man in blue is annoying simply because, although a generally incompetent and dirty cop by all means, he falls into that classic category of “adult man romancing young girls for no apparent reason.” (He and Jenna kind of worked with their evilness level, though.) Perhaps most importantly, he blackmailed Ian, stole official police documents, and ordered the Liars to lie to his fellow cops, all because he didn’t want to be pinned for Alison’s death, something that he didn’t even do in the first place. His murder on the Halloween Ghost Train couldn’t have come soon enough.

12. Ian Thomas
What is there to say? This guy has a very punchable face. In the next case of “adult man romancing young girls for no apparent reason,” Ian not only pursued relationships with both Alison and Spencer, but he had a penchant for videotaping the Liars in their bedrooms just for kicks, as part of the N.A.T. Club. (With Garrett and Jason, no less.) If his fascination with young girls didn’t peeve you off already, he just had to go ahead and try to kill Spencer because he thought he killed Alison and didn’t want to get caught. Very fitting that Alison killed him in the end.

11. Darren Wilden
In his four seasons as Rosewood’s resident dirty cop, “Officer Wilden” (ugh) was legitimately the worst police officer to ever grace Freeform’s screens. You name it, he did it. Murder? Check! Attempted murder? Double check! Menacing sexual behavior to the town’s best mother, Ashley Marin? You know it! Abusing power and treating women like trash was just another day at the office for this man in blue, and he finally got his comeuppance with a nasty death at the hands of Charlotte. He wasn’t as annoying as he was a genuinely revolting human being, so in the purpose of semantics, we’re going to place him right in the middle.

10. Carla Grunwald
Even now, talking about the mystical shenanigans in Ravenswood would be too soon. Mrs. Grunwald personified everything that didn’t work about that ill-fated spinoff: speaking in unnecessarily convoluted sentences, claiming she has “psychic” abilities, and sporting some truly gratuitous color contacts. Lest we forget, she actually knew that Alison was alive the entire time, but did nothing about it. Hey, lady: These young women are in some serious danger. Cut the spooky stuff and tell them what they actually need to know.

9. Byron Montgomery
This hapless sap of a man just needs to keep it in his pants. Here’s a tip, Byron: Stop getting involved with psychopathic co-eds and allowing yourself to be susceptible to teen blackmail, and work on improving your minimal parenting skills instead. Do you really wonder why Aria and Mike keep having problems in their lives, but won’t talk to you about them? Ella doesn’t deserve you! Nobody does!

8. Emily Fields
There inevitably has to be a weak link in a show’s central power dynamics, and without a doubt, it’s Emily. Don’t get me wrong — she’s a nice girl without a menacing bone in her body, and a good friend to all. But her track record for trusting the wrong people at the wrong time, and apparent lack of general intelligence during stakeouts and stealth investigations, frankly, got annoying and repetitive after a while. It would also be nice if she didn’t have to fall for every single woman who shows the slightest interest in her romantically. Simply put: Give Emily some actual character development, PLL. She deserves it at this point.

7. Shana Fring
Shana’s short-lived tenure on PLL was indicative of a bigger problem that often faced the show: having a character come in for a few episodes, cause a bunch of mischief, but not really advance the plot in any meaningful way. (See also: Maya’s stalker, Lyndon James.) She might’ve been justifiably mad that the Liars accidentally blinded Jenna — who she was in love with — but it just didn’t seem plausible that she would actually want to murder them all because of it. When Aria ended up killing Shana in self-defense while in New York City, we couldn’t help but shrug.

6. Sydney Driscoll
Like Shana, what was the point to Sydney’s late-season arrival in Rosewood, you ask? We’re still not entirely sure ourselves — ha, actually, we’re just now remembering that silly high-school-swimming story line — although she was deemed important enough to run in crew with her doppelgänger, Jenna, and be convinced that Alison was involved with Mona’s death. Her character was completely unnecessary by all means, and only made the plot more convoluted for the sake of a backstory for Jenna. Sorry, not sorry.

5. Mike Montgomery
Mike’s a good enough kid who managed to mellow out after a brief period of revolting against his family and breaking into people’s homes for kicks. But when you try to help your girlfriend fake her death by hiding vials of her blood in your room — and you’re generally a long-standing man of “A”-related suspicion — you have you rethink your life choices, man.

4. Kenneth DiLaurentis
This man has done enough misdeeds to easily earn the title of Rosewood’s Worst Dad, but his most egregious is, of course, being the person who birthed “A” as we know it. (I. Marlene King even admits that he’s the show’s true villain, if you weren’t sure of it already.) But his rationale for “protecting” his daughter, and his subsequent behavior after the time jump is what really puts him higher in the rankings. After all that Alison’s been through, why did he think his constant denial and lies about Charlotte would’ve done more harm than good? And when Alison gets institutionalized by her crazed husband hell-bent on obtaining the DiLaurentis family fortune, he still thought it was a good idea to remain out of town due to his ignorance? What an ass.

3. Paige McCullers
Oh, Paige. Her intentions are so pure in her mind, but she always manages to end up being Rosewood’s most patronizing try-hard, who just can’t take a hint that her help isn’t wanted or needed by the Liars at any given time. She had zero right to reveal to the police that Alison was alive, but perhaps most importantly, her relationship with Emily borders on toxic — remember when she tried to drown her? — and she never had a justifiable reason for lashing out at Em’s approach for dealing with the “A” situation. Sure, she means well. But that manipulative minx should’ve minded her own business and moved to California a long time ago.

2. Linda Tanner
Lieutenant Tanner is relatively competent at her job and not corrupt — a real rarity for the Rosewood Police Department — but we can’t get over the fact that she’s made it her personal mission to pin every single crime in town on the Liars, without properly investigating other leads or giving them the benefit of the doubt. (Not to mention, she pulled them out of school for way too many aggressive interrogations that led to nowhere, often without their parents present.) The moment when she and Toby discover “the Dollhouse,” which proves the Liars were indeed kidnapped and are legitimately in serious danger, speaks volumes.

1. Sara Harvey
Whether it was a brutal error in miscasting or a genuinely ill-conceived character, there wasn’t a PLL antagonist so universally loathed than Sara Harvey. In addition to her ever-shifting alliances and faux traumatizing backstory, the Sara backlash was so strong because her impact on the series was so wildly disproportionate to her time spent onscreen. Despite showing up in season six, it turned out she had actually been “present” as the pivotal figures Red Coat and Black Widow all along — a cop-out for the emotional betrayals those secret agents could have stirred up. Emily punching her in the face was the greatest thing to ever happen to her pathetic life.

The 20 Most Annoying Characters in Pretty Little Liars