RIP Mona Vanderwaal: Sara Shepard Remembers the Pretty Little Liars Vixen

She knew too much.
Sara Shepard writes "In Memoriam" article about Mona Vanderwaal, who is portrayed by Janel Parrish.

Photo Credit: ABC Family / Sara Shepard

This fan reaction article was written by Sara Shepard, author of the Pretty Little Liars series, The Perfectionists, and The Heiresses. Follow her wonderful musings on books, PLL, and pop-culture at @sarabooks.

Mona was always one of my favorite characters in the Pretty Little Liars books. There she is, in the very first scene in the introduction where it all went down, dorky and needy and dissed by Ali and her crew. We think that’s that…but it’s not. She comes back later to exact her revenge—stealing Ali’s diary and teasing the girls with their deepest, darkest secrets as A—made for four scary books in the PLL series and a very interesting character. In Unbelievable, when the girls discover Mona is A, Mona tempts Spencer to be part of the A team, and when Spence refuses, Mona freaks out, leading to a fight at the edge of the cliff where Mona plummets to her death. That almost happened in the TV show, but the PLL writers decided to keep Mona alive, sending her off to Radley Sanitorium instead. (If only I’d thought of that!)

But now she’s dead on the show, too, and I’m super, super sad.

Keeping Mona around longer than I did—and believe me, I’ve pitched to my editors somehow resurrecting Mona (and Toby), though it never made sense—meant more fascinating character development. We got to see Mona crazy. We got to see Mona up and down, hard and soft. I love that Mona’s actually a super-smart, computer-hacking, gets-into-Harvard-early mastermind, something I didn’t get to develop in the books. I love that she builds an army and goes after Ali herself. I know there are a lot of you who love Ali…and I do too! But I also think the bitch is bad news, and Mona always knew it.

At the beginning of mid-season five finale, when I saw that the opening montage was a semi-sweet, Mona-at-home moment, I was like, “Oh no. It’s going to be her.” I tried to think positively—maybe it would be Agent Tanner!—but as the show went on, it made more and more sense that Mona was going to die. Marlene King explained that Mona’s death is part of “a bigger picture”—and I know the writers have an awesome plan of how the mystery/ torment is going to play out. Still, I’m going to miss Mona and her sneaky smiles and her naughty-schoolgirl /femme fatale outfits. I’m going to miss wondering if she’s got something up her sleeve and how much she really knows. I even liked her and Mike as a couple. So without further ado, here are my top three favorite Mona moments on the show. There are so many more I could talk about (Mona hitting Hanna with the car, Mona revealing herself as A, Mona assembling her army, and the many, many Mona freak outs) but these are my top three faves:

1. Mona singing to her dolls at Radley. I loved Mona at Radley—I thought she played crazy so well. And I love how much doll imagery the show uses. I’ve always thought dolls were pretty much the epitome of creepy, and Mona talking to them…in code? Delicious.

"Miss Aria, you're a killer, not Ezra's wife." - Mona Vanderwaal at Radley

Photo Credit: Pretty Little Liars

2. Mona’s return to Radley to talk to Spencer. I love that Mona scolds Spencer, saying she should have taken her up on her offer to join up as A. I so wish I could have written this scene if Mona had lived (though I suppose it would have been Hanna and not Spencer, as Hanna was the one A sent to Radley). Mona and Spencer are actually a lot alike, especially in the show. I loved seeing them interact with one another.

Mona visits Spencer at Radley in PLL Season 3.

Photo Credit: Pretty Little Liars

3. Whee-whee-whee. This was a recent moment—and a small one—but I loved it. It’s when Hanna was trying out for the choir solo, and Mona’s singing creepy scales in the waiting room. Hanna’s finally like, “Okay, Mona, we get it. You can sing.” And then Mona face-plants—super dramatic! But it’s all so Hanna can find the stuff about Cyrus in Mona’s purse. Mona did it on purpose.Creepy, manipulative, and kind of funny all at once!

"We get it, Mona. You can freakin' sing!" - Hanna Marin

Photo Credit: ABC Family

That’s pure Mona—ominous, threatening, manipulative, but also brilliantly, viciously funny. It’s heart-wrenching that she ends up in the trunk of someone’s car with a creepy doll thrown on top of her. Rest in peace, crazy girl. I hope they find who did this to you.

Now I want to hear form you: What was your reaction to Mona’s death at the end of the Pretty Little Liars #fatalefinale?

The Perfectionists and PLL: ViciousIn case you haven’t heard the exciting news, the “A” mystery will be solved for GOOD in the last PLL novel. What will the Liars’ final showdown with their tormentor be like? Find out in Book #16: Vicious! And that’s not all, dolls! Sara has an equally enticing new mystery out on October 7th! Here’s a sneak peek: “Beacon Heights, Washington, five girls—Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julie, and Parker—know that you don’t have to be good to be perfect. At first the girls think they have nothing in common, until they realize that they all hate Nolan Hotchkiss, who’s done terrible things to each of them. They come up with the perfect way to kill him—a hypothetical murder, of course. It’s just a joke…until Nolan turns up dead, in exactly the way they planned. Only, they didn’t do it. And unless they find the real killer, their perfect lives will come crashing down around them.” Pre-order your copy of Sara Shepard’s duo-logy, The Perfectionists, HERE!


  1. Dawn Said:

    I really hate that they killed off Mona.

  2. Hannah Said:

    I wish that mona was still on oretty little liars I will miss her and Im voting for her and her partner val to win dancing with the stars

  3. Jemma Said:

    Thinking about it though, Mona could of faked her murder, like Ali did in the books. But instead of doing it as an act of -A. It was to protect herself from -A. Think of when Hanna left her tweezers at Radley and Mona cut herself with them. Then there was the plaster on her arm in the fatal finale. Also the nurse costume could have also been a clue that she was taking her own blood.

  4. Keke Said:

    I think Mona is still alive idk bout you guys but i think she is cuz Ail did fake her death so its no telling Mona probably did too

  5. Jennifer Said:

    I think Mona is alive… She faked her death…. I think that knoal…Jenna and Sydney knows what is going on because they are helping her… No body has been recovered and we all know that Mona isn’t the type to go out the way she did in the video… Mona is too much of a gangster to go out like that… I believe she is still alive and waiting to make her appearance again.

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