'Pretty Little Liars' Creator Opens Up About Her Path to Goodbye (Guest Column)

I. Marlene King gets nostalgic about the final farewell for the Freeform hit.
Courtesy of Freeform

After seven seasons and seemingly a million twists, Freeform said farewell to its hit drama Pretty Little Liars with a two-hour series finale Tuesday. The series, which made stars out of castmembers Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, Shay Mitchell and company, helped define the former ABC Family and put the Disney-owned cable network on the map as a destination for noisy originals. Below, series creator I. Marlene King opens up about saying farewell to Rosewood.

How do you say goodbye to the "little show that could?" I started asking myself that question after wrapping season five. I considered myself lucky, because it's unusual to know when your show will end so far in advance. I talked about it with the studio, network and cast. We all wanted to go out on top and believed we could do that if we called season seven our last.

Making the decision paved the way for the most rewarding two seasons we could ask for. The Pretty Little Liars got to play characters close to their real ages. We told more mature and darker stories. And we knew the party wasn't going to last forever, so we enjoyed every moment of the ride.

We were all in denial for most of season seven. But when we began filming the last five episodes, reality started sinking in. Each table read became more special than the last. Each episode felt more important than the one before. And then it was time for me to sit down and write the finale.

At first the words came slowly, because starting is always difficult. But then, like every other episode, the story found its way to the page. All but one scene. A goodbye scene. I put off writing those pages for as long as possible. And eventually they did break me. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I handed the completed scene to my assistant. Little did I know, this was merely the first goodbye.

After a tearful table read, I called "action" and we were shooting our last episode. One by one, we said goodbye to our cast as they were "series wrapped." But then something amazing happened. They came back. On the last day of filming, actors, department heads, executives, directors and our entire office staff came to the set. Video village grew from a handful of people to a hundred. Late into the night, I called "cut" for the last time on Pretty Little Liars. I'll never forget the cadence of our first A.D. announcing, "Ladies and gentlemen, that's a series wrap on Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson, Shay Mitchell, Sasha Pieterse, Troian Bellisario … and Pretty Little Liars."

The sound of a group sob is also unforgettable. I thought that was our last goodbye, but we had one more to do. We gave our final farewell to PLL as we watched the finale together tonight. I had my box of tissues ready. I hope you did, too.

What did you think of the Pretty Little Liars series finale? Sound off in the comments below, and check back to The Live Feed on Wednesday for our postmortem with King.

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