‘Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin’ Bosses on Why Those Characters Had to Die

Maia Reficco, Chandler Kinney, Bailee Madison, Zaria, Malia Pyles in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin
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[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin Season 1 finale.]

Though it looked like all the major villains of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin would all make it through the season alive, that changed in the final scenes — and it had to end that way, according to co-creators Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Lindsay Calhoon Bring.

The final episodes revealed that Chip (Carson Rowland) was the one who raped Imogen (Bailee Madison) and Tabby (Chandler Kinney), Sheriff Beasley (Eric Johnson) raped Angela in high school, and A stood out for Archie Waters, Angela’s sister. Their father, the mastermind, was Principal Clanton (Robert Stanton). While Imogen did stab Archie during their final confrontation, he survived — and broke free in the hospital, killing the deputy watching him and Sheriff Beasley before going to take out Chip.

Aguirre-Sacasa and Calhoon Bring discuss those deaths, bringing Kelly (Mallory Bechtel) into the Losers Club, and more.

Chip is dead?

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: Chip is dead. Unfortunately, because that actor is so good, but there was no way to redeem Chip after all the horrible things he’d done.

Lindsay Calhoon Bring: To Roberto’s point, Carson Rowland’s a wonderful person and wonderful actor and he played the part so well and really, I think, understood the importance of the story we were telling. And I love the final scene between Chip, Tabby, and Imogen in the finale. I think it’s really, really crushing and moving and I think all three actors — Bailee and Chandler and Carson — just did an amazing job with that scene and that revelation. It pained us very much to kill Carson and it pained us so much to kill Eric Johnson, who’s also the loveliest person in the world. As Roberto said, those two characters were so irredeemable, it wasn’t possible to keep them around.

Eric Johnson in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin

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Speaking of Sheriff Beasley, because previously when we talked, I was wondering if he could be redeemed, and he just got worse. But Martha (Jennifer Ferrin) got him and then Archie. So first of all, thank you for giving Martha that moment. I loved it. So there was no consideration to keep him alive after he survived being stabbed?

Aguirre-Sacasa: No, I think we talked about it early on.

Calhoon Bring: Because we love those actors so much and we love Eric Johnson, we thought, gosh, is there a way to exile him? Does Sheriff Beasley end up living in a train car like Crazy Joe? But rightfully so, I think Roberto was the one who — we had had these conversations, like oof, with the theme of the show that we’re telling and the stories we’re telling revealing that Sheriff Beasley had raped Angela, seeing the type of man and person that he is in this show, and in the sort of horror genre wish fulfillment way, I think we have to kill this character. But luckily Eric Johnson and Carson live on.

Aguirre-Sacasa: Once we landed on the fact that Sheriff Beasley in high school raped Angela, which we landed on about halfway through the season — that wasn’t necessarily from the start, we knew he was awful obviously — it was sort of like, well, that’s it for Sheriff Beasley. If he did that to Angela Waters and set all this in motion… I think that developed kind of about halfway through the room when we were like, what was that core? It weirdly tied the two storylines in the present and the past together and kind of started to say something about being a young woman going through the world and where the dangers are. But, yeah, unfortunately, Sheriff Beasley, dead.

Mallory Bechtel, Zaria in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin

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How early on did you know you wanted to make Kelly part of the Losers Club? Because that worked so well.

Calhoon Bring: I can’t remember. I think that was also sort of a later development. One, we love the actor Mallory Bechtel, she did an amazing job playing two characters. I love Kelly being folded into the Losers Club, becoming a friend. And I think Kelly has a very good arc over the season of — the closest person to her in the world was Karen. She’s a duplicate of Karen. She’s a twin. I think where Karen went, she went, though I think in a bizarre horrid way, the best thing to happen to Kelly personality wise may have been cutting that cord from Karen. And one of the stories I love the most — I know Roberto loves it, too — is the story between Kelly and Faran [Zaria] and their friendship, which is so unlikely from the beginning of the show, and them coming to a place of understanding and actually breaking the cycle that had been set before them, I think is so important. So it’s a really good arc, I think, for Kelly to go from bully — a lesser bully than Karen, but still a bully — to becoming a friend. And I love that when Kelly’s needed as a friend most, she bonds with Imogen over what happened to her and she’s there for the girls and is there to help them.

Aguirre-Sacasa: I think if I remember, originally when we broke that story, Lindsay, it was just Faran and Kelly going clubbing because they were in dance class. And then we were like, let’s get all the girls clubbing and stuff like that. But then it felt so natural because as you said, Lindsay, Kelly was friends with Imogen and Kelly has such a great response when Imogen goes and says, we need your help with this. So that felt like an earned redemption story.

Imogen was so insistent that her mother (Carly Pope) wouldn’t leave her. Why not have it be Archie and Clanton killed her?

Calhoon Bring: That was a question on the table for a while. It’s such a strange thing to have that grief that your mother is gone but not be able to accept the reality of the situation. I think Imogen really clung to hoping that her mother had been murdered, which was also a horrible thing, a horrible way for your mother to go, but for Imogen, that would mean her mother didn’t choose to leave her. So she really held onto that. But for us, it just didn’t feel right that Archie murdered Davie. Really with the show, Archie didn’t murder any of the mothers. This was all leading up to the grand plan between Principal Clanton and Archie, this grand trial, who was gonna go down for what happened to Angela?

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I think Davie is someone who had been living with the guilt of this for many years. I think it’s something she probably thought about every single day, and she was pushed over the edge in that moment, in that dark moment. We did sort of lay some brickwork, too, in the penultimate when Imogen goes and meets her father, she learns about the history of mental illness with Davie and depression. We just wanted to not take away from the journey for Imogen and for Davie and not just say, oh, Archie did it. It just didn’t quite go with sort of the mythos and the story that we were telling overall.

Aguirre-Sacasa: And it really did go up ’til the last episode. On the nuts and bolt mystery level, it was like, well, if they killed Davie, that means they knew she was guilty.

Calhoon Bring: Exactly.

Aguirre-Sacasa: And it felt like that was a mystery. But one thing though to highlight is one of, I think, the most powerful moments in the finale is very close to the end where Imogen as a teen becoming a grownup realizes that her mother was two things. In high school, she was a mean girl, but she also turned her life around and was a devoted mother and loved her daughter. There comes a moment when you’re growing up and you realize that your parents can be many things at the same time. Imogen says something — Lindsay, I’m sure I’m misremembering it — like, I know what my mother was. I know who she was, and this is how I’m choosing to remember her. And that does keep our girl active ‘til the very end of the season. It’s not an easy, “OK, well, that makes sense. She was a victim.” It strangely completes Imogen’s journey, I think.