20 Simple Survival Tips For The Pretty Little Liars

This handy survival guide was compiled by Riese and Heather.

We’re like ten years and zero winters in to the saga of the Pretty Little Liars, and despite enduring physical and psychological torture to the max every week, these girls still spend most of their time creeping around in the dark by themselves. It is time for someone to sit them down and talk to them about their indefensibly dumb behavior and offer them some advice for staying alive.

Senior year isn’t going to finish itself, Pretty Little Ladies. If you don’t step up your caution game, you’re never going to survive seven to ten more years until graduation. Here are 20 ways you can be better.

1. Stop splitting up


Seriously STOP IT. None of you should ever be alone. Ever. Let’s just run down a quick list of things that have happened when you’ve split up, shall we? Hanna was run under by a car, attacked by a dentist, and almost stabbed to death in the shower. Spencer was nearly: murdered by her brother-in-law in a church, snapped in half by a bear trap in the woods, and rendered completely incapacitated by her boyfriend’s fake dead body. Emily. Good lord. Emily was carjacked by a talking doll! She was nearly sawn in half! She was massaged by Lucas! And Aria was subjected to literally every Ezra awfulness, including the time he sent her on a chickpea run when he already had chickpeas.

2. Abandon solo recon missions


What have any of you ever learned from going on a solo recon mission besides the (perpetual) hard knock lesson that you should not go on solo recon missions? What have you learned on solo recon missions in the forest? Nothing. What have you learned on solo recon missions on boats? Nothing. What have you learned on solo recon missions to cabins or barns? Especially nothing. There’s no excuse for not knowing how to use the Buddy System, dudes. It has its own Wikipedia entry.

3. Get a burner phone


Y’all could all learn a lot from The Wire, including how to make fancy doll furniture for staging the dozens of tiny replicas of yourselves you keep finding all around Pennsylvania. But your main takeaway from The Wire would be: Get some damn burner phones. They make you much less traceable and hackable, and no one working for Rosewood PD has the know-how to get a warrant to track those things. (Also, there may not actually be a judge in Rosewood to issue warrants at all.)

4. Carry pepper spray


Guns are not good news. Ask Caleb. Ask Hanna. Ask Shana. Shovels are also not good news because some days of the week it is apparently illegal to been seen with one. Mannequin legs are hard to come by. Pepper spray, however, is inconspicuous, effective, and comes in a variety of animal print cases for even the most choosiest Aria Montgomery among you.

5. Stop lying to each other!


Alison was right about a lot of things. (Emily, you did like Beyonce a gay amount, for example.) But one thing she was very wrong about is that secrets keep you close. What is true is that secrets get you buried in Victoria Hastings’ hydrangea bushes. You’ve got to tell the truth to each other, at the very least.

6. Develop better poker faces


No, not that. I swear you guys refuse to learn on purpose sometimes.

7. Get a flashlight


One of those heavy-duty seven-pound Maglites. At the very least, you can use it to beat away your more small-boned predators.

8. Install overhead lighting


Here’s a thing I like to do when I enter a dark room: turn on the light. I can do this simply by finding the light switch right outside the door, and switching it on. Then the whole room fills with light! To be fair, I only do this in a few rooms because I’m insane and very specific about lighting, so much so that I put duct tape over light switches to force guests to turn on the floor lamps that I think provide better ambiance. But I’m not being stalked and killed, SO. You girls shouldn’t be stumbling around looking for a lamp to switch on; you need some solid overhead lighting in every room you ever enter.

9. Wear sneakers and other comfortable clothing


Aria Montgomery, how are you still alive? I do not understand. I know you get preyed upon 75 percent less than the average Liar, but even so, it’s a miracle you’re not dead. Would you get a load of your footwear? If you ever hung out with the whole group, you’d be murdered swiftly. In a crisis situation the other Liars would only have to outrun you, and you’re not going anywhere in those wedges.

10. Take self-defense


Kung Fu Jake only has one leg now, thanks probably to Ezra Fitzgerald, but he can’t be the only game in town. Actually, of course he can. You got by on one restaurant for four seasons. But clearly you’ve got a warp zone to all of Pennsylvania and just a quick search engine website page query yields over one million results for “Philadelphia self-defense classes.”

11. Don’t follow other cars at night


Actually, don’t follow other cars at all. In fact, stay away from all cars. Don’t pawn your engagement ring to buy your boyfriend any cars. Don’t just sit there swatting when an entire hive of bees swarms out of the air conditioner in your car. Don’t push cars into lakes. Don’t drive cars off of cliffs. You are terrible with cars. Just don’t cars.

12. Get a home alarm system


And keep the alarm code in your noggin only. Never, ever write it down.

13. Install security cameras everywhere


If you learn one thing from Mr. Fitz, let this be it: Record everything everywhere at all times always.

14. No one is allowed to say “I figured it all out” unless they immediately elaborate


Not even Mona Vanderwaal, apparently. RIP. :saddest emoji of all time:

15. Learn to hide things

A few of your worst hiding ideas, off the top of my head. Hanna, the time you tried to bury a gun in the yard of a frat house during the middle of a party using a pint glass as a shovel. Spencer, under the cushion of the chair in your bedroom. 12 year old boys hide porn better than that. All of you, on your hard drives. Do you understand that you are being stalked by someone who is both omniscient and omnipresent? An invisible demon-ninja probably. Find better shelter for your secret stashes.

16. Don’t go near grown-ass men


I’m going to say some names of grown-ass men to you, ready? Ian Thomas. Garrett Reynolds. Peter Hastings. Darren Wilden. Jason DiLaurentis. Byron Montgomery. Zack Coffeeshop. Are you noticing a pattern here? No, of course you are not. Let me tell you the pattern here: These are some shady motherfuckers who have all tried to exploit you, or have been so careless in their supervision of you that you were nearly axe-murdered on their watch. They are all grown-ass men.

17. Don’t go near grown-ass men to give them evidence


Grown-ass police officers are the worst men to go near in Rosewood. Lookin’ at you, too, Detective Holbrook.

18. Don’t go near grown-ass men to give them your face


Emily, I’m still not over the fact that you thought this was an okay idea.

19. Don’t go near grown-ass men for free dinner


No matter how vegan he claims it is.

20. Act normal, bitch


And only trust Wayne Fields.

If you follow half these tips, you Precious Little Liars, your chances of staying alive will skyrocket. We chastise you because we love you.

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. #1 drives me nuts EVERY SINGLE TIME. It’s like none of them ever watched a horror movie in their life. Stick together ladies!

  2. “Emily, you did like Beyonce a gay amount, for example.”

    We’ve all been guilty of this, Emily. No shame.

  3. I can’t believe you didn’t mention getting glass in Emily’s hair only EVERY time they use her as bait.

    Friends don’t use friends as bait.

  4. “And Aria was subjected to literally every Ezra awfulness, including the time he sent her on a chickpea run when he already had chickpeas.”

    Well, I’ve now snarfed cappuccino.

    • I will never get over that ‘dun dun dunnn’ camera shot of the can of chickpeas right after he told her to go get some. Cinematic gold.

  5. – “One of those heavy-duty seven-pound Maglites. At the very least, you can use it to beat away your more small-boned predators.” No flashlight is going to beat off (take that as you will) Mona. And she’s the smallest of small boned predators.

  6. I wanted to quote the lines here that I found especially amusing, but there were too many! Bravo, you two. Standing ovation. (Alone in my office. But it counts!)

  7. Also, don’t lie to your Bed Buddies. Every time they do, the Bed Buddies try to figure out/rescue the liars and someone always gets hit by a car, or joins the A team, or gets kidnapped, or dies… But I might be willing to die for Emily too

      • Well, he does have many Gold Medals from the Stalker Olympics which for some unforeseen reason is always held in Rosewood…

  8. But also tell their parents!!!! Like the most ridiculous thing about PLL to me that these 16/17 year olds keep almost getting murdered and none of them think, “I should tell my mom someone’s trying to KILL ME ALL THE TIME”

    Was I that dumb as a teenager?

  9. I laughed so hard at this, I think I may have busted something internally. I’m a little worried.

    To the list of grown ass men to stay away from, I’d add Wren and Eddy and Ezra and Caleb’s fake uncle-dad and that funeral home director man in Ravenswood, and Pastor Ted (he’s skeezy, I just know it). But other than that, you guys have covered all the bases. Now, tweet it at Marlene, and maybe they’ll start to take your advice!

  10. Get a dog. A big, barking,biting bulldog, for example.Each and every one of you.This would result in 95% less creeping about and breaking and entering by people dressed in black hoodies, harboring an affinity for dolls.

  11. 1. YAAASSSSSS. more PLL on autostraddle.

    2. i think at this point, just based on the sheer body count (let alone the number of dead cops/authority figures/teenagers) the FBI would have a full swat team in rosewood and all 4 liars would have dyed hair and new identities in iowa.

    3. WHERE ARE YOUR PARENTS? and why do they still let you go do things? like: “hey mom, dad, i’m going out and not telling you where im going but ill be back later! don’t worry about me, i know i’ve been hospitalized//left for dead//gone to radley several times this year but *this time* i’ll be OK!”

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