Pretty Little Liars Theory: Charles’ Mothers

Love this? Share it!

Update 3/16/16

Okay so, who knew I’d be revisiting this post/theory! Yesterday’s season six finale of Pretty Little Liars had some major reveals that actually confirm quite a bit of my theory below. [Spoiler alert! You’ve been warned]. So besides Hannah being captured and dragged away in the bell tower, here were the major events:

  1. Mrs. D has a twin that’s alive and has finally taken back what was supposed to be hers.
  2. Charlotte is Mrs. D’s twin’s daughter who was adopted by Mrs. D.
  3. Charlotte was born in Radely.

Um, so where do I start… I was right about #1, right about #2, right about #3 bitches! Teehee!

Of course, I didn’t get that Charles was really Charlotte/Cece, but well… you know. In my theory below I say that Marion Cavanaugh is actually Mrs. D’s sister but in the season 6A finale we find out that Marion Cavanaugh was in fact killed at Radely by Bethany. However, since this is PLL, I still wouldn’t be surprised if Marion turns out to be Mary… as in Mary Drake (Charlotte’s biological mother), thereby justifying all that time the writer’s spent on the Toby’s mom storyline in season 4. I also say in my original theory that Charles/CeCe’s real mom is Black Veil, which wasn’t correct. Black Veil, as we know, turned out to be Sarah Harvey, which brings me to a new part of my theory… I wouldn’t be surprised if Sarah Harvey turns out to be Charlotte’s biological sister. As I explain below, Charles had a sister that was older than Allison. And we have yet to find out who she is. One major thing, that I’m left wondering is whether or not Charlotte knew Mrs. DiLaurentis was her adopted mother since, for a while, she was going by CeCe Drake. And so if she did know maybe, her big reveal as A and the last five years were a part of an even bigger plan and maybe the story she revealed wasn’t entirely true.

Anyhoo, read my original theory below because there’s a lot in there that still may apply and reveal what we might be in for in season 7.


Original Post

So I’ve been keeping a dirty little secret for about five years now… I’m an avid watcher of the TV series Pretty Little Liars (PLL). No matter how much I complain about the writers making things up as they go, or having to suspend too much belief, I keep coming back for more. Luckily, this season has really been delivering on giving PLL fans Answers! I’ll cut right to the chase: I think we’ve been given enough clues to determine who A is and why he’s doing what he’s doing.

My theory in a nutshell: 

  • A is Charles.
  • Charles is a ‘long lost’ member of the DiLaurentis family.
  • Charles is not dead.
  • Charles was Jessica DiLaurentis’ son but not her biological son.
  • Jessica’s estranged sister is Marion Cavanaugh.
  • Marion had three kids, two of which (Charles and Bethany) were taken away from her because she was deemed psychologically unfit to care for them.
  • Jessica played a role in the ‘destruction’ of Marion’s family.
  • Marion Cavanaugh is Black Veil.
  • Alison or (CeCe) played a role in Bethany’s death.
  • Charles is avenging the destruction of his family and his sister’s death.
  • Charles is Wren.

So here’s the breakdown…


Charles is A.

Charles is A because I. Marlene King, the show’s Executive Producer said he is. For a brief moment this season, the Liars thought Lesli (Mona’s friend who also spent time in Radley) was A in episode 5 season 6. But as of episode 6, “No Stone Unturned,” the girls are back to thinking that Charles is A.

Charles is a ‘Long Lost’ Family Member of the DiLaurentis Family

In episode four of season six, Alison’s dad, Mr. DiLaurentis reveals that there is in fact such person as Charles DiLaurentis and he was Ali and Jason’s older brother. He exhibited some troubling behavior and when Alison was about 11 months old he tried drowning her in hot water. Mr. D later reveals that Charles took his own life at Radley when he was 16. So these three DiLaurentises are under the impression that Charles is a long lost brother to Ali and Jason, but I think there’s more to it than that. Read on.

Charles isn’t Dead

In the same episode, episode 4, the girls look further into Charles’ life/death, Hanna rightly exclaiming “No body. No proof.” This isn’t our first PLL rodeo; I’m sure we all know that dead isn’t always ‘dead-dead’ in Rosewood. Exhibit A: Alison, Exhibit B: Mona, even Exhibit C: Ian (who didn’t die right away when he fell from the bell tower). So I’m with Hana on this one, who in this week’s episode was proved to be right. Mona clears things up a bit during a college ‘lab raid,’ and explains that Lesli was just a distraction and that records of Charles’ death were obviously forged given that the medication he was on would render his liver ‘undonatable’ and thus not harvested.


Furthermore, there are known lies surrounding Charles’ death. He was said to have been cremated but appears to have been buried in Alison’s Aunt Carole’s house without Mr. DiLaurentis knowing. Jason also remembered a time he went to stay at his dead Aunt Carole’s in order to get away from the drama and was surprised to find his mom at her house. He said the house seemed like it had been taken care of and there also seemed to have been someone in the house with his mom at the time, which may be why she adamantly insisted on him leaving. Nevertheless, lying about the cremation was enough to cast reasonable doubt here, without Mona’s brilliant assessment in episode 6×6.

Tiny theory: Perhaps the gravestone (that Mr. DiLaurentis was digging up in this week’s episode) marked the symbolic death of Charles D., the death of his identity vs. his actual being. After all, if Charles is still alive he’s likely taken on a new identity. By the way, Mr. D, is totally not in the know about the intricacies of his faux son’s existence.

Charles was Jessica DiLaurentis’ son but not her biological son.


Okay so here’s a big one! I think Mrs. D. took care of Charles and likely even loved him as a son but she wasn’t his biological mother. We can back this up with the home movie played in Charles’ vault. Mrs. D is in the video. Jason is in the video and Charles is in the video. This is confirmed when Ali and Jason confront their dad with the picture Aria found in Mrs. D’s button jar (side note: Aria finding the photo and Charles’ file that easily is a tad suspicious).


The baby in Mrs. D’s arms appears to be a girl, a girl that can’t be Alison because of the age difference between her and her brother(s).  Some fast math (see timeline above):

  • If Charles was 16 when he died in 2003, that means he was roughly born in 1987
  • Jason was born 15 months after Charles and we know he’s 24 so that puts him at 1989
  • Ali is 18 at the present PLL moment, which means she was born in 1995

All of the above means that Charles is 8 years older than Alison and Jason is about 6 years older. The boys in the video look like they might be around 4 or 5 years old. Hence the baby girl in the video can’t be Alison. It could however be a young girl (who’s mother likes to dress her in yellow) that was born around 1992. More on this later. So the baby girl in the video isn’t Alison, but we do know it’s Charles’ sister because Mrs. D says ‘give your sister a kiss.’ And Charles does so. So we know that Charles has a sister that’s not Alison. Assuming (this might be a big assumption) that Mr. D didn’t have any other baby mommas and Mrs. D has no other hidden or adopted children, then the baby she’s holding isn’t hers or her husband’s. And if Charles’ sister isn’t her or her husband’s daughter, then Charles is not her son. So who’s his real mom? I’m getting to this soon! Keep reading.

My little theory here: Jessica DiLaurentis either adopted Charles or took him away from his mother. Note: family and losing a loved one seems to be central to Charles’ “soul.” So I’m betting that Charles was taken away vs. given away.

Jessica’s Estranged Sister is Marion Cavanaugh


I think quite a few people have caught onto this, but there is an uncanny resemblance between Mrs. DiLaurentis and Marion Cavanaugh, Toby’s mom. The idea that they’re sisters is based on their resemblance and their closeness in age. There’s no other supporting evidence. But perhaps in later episodes we’ll uncover more. If anything, they’re doplegangers and may have at some point been in cahoots together. This is where this theory may apply. I can say that we don’t know either woman’s maiden name. We know that Mrs. Cavanaugh was a lifelong Rosewood resident and we know that Mrs. DiLaurentis moved to Rosewood just after ‘having’ Charles. But we don’t know where she grew up. She could have grown up in Rosewood, moved away for college or something, then moved back.

Even though Jessica and Marion being sisters needs to be substantiated a bit more (if you can help me back this up, tell me your thoughts in the comments!), I’m going to run with it anyway.

Marion had three kids, two of which (Charles and Bethany) Were Taken Away.

charles' family tree

Here’s where things start getting real fun…

If Jessica and Marion are in fact sister’s, then it explains why Mrs. D visited Bethany at Radley and told Bethany to call her aunt Jessie. It would mean that Bethany is Marion’s daughter and is perhaps the girl (Charles’ sister) in the home video. Bethany was 17 when she died in 2009, which would mean she was born in 1992, making her a newborn around when Charles and Jason where 4/5 years old. So it’s totally possible that she’s the baby in the video. Speaking of the home video that was playing in the vault, let’s talk about the clues in the vault!

  • Charles’ family was a family with three kids. The image of the three sets of hand prints indicates this.
  • The mannequin family also indicates three kids. There are two kids present and one in “the oven.” The mom mannequin has one hand on her stomach, as pregnant women often do. (Although the heights of the kids here are a bit of a hole in this theory. The girl would have likely been shorter if she were younger than her brother, but there are always exceptions to this rule).
  • Many have said that the imagery on the wall (it being photos from the video and collages with missing pieces/people) indicates a family with a missing piece or pieces. The fact that the owner of this room only has pictures from that day at the Campbell Farm may mean that he didn’t have the opportunity to get pictures of his family from other days, implying that the family may not have had the chance to be together for long.

We know that Marion was deemed to be suffering from some sort of mental illness and she was institutionalized as a result of it. But we don’t know when she was sent to Radley and if she had been there before. It might be that she had a long history of ‘being unstable’ but gave birth to two kids who were eventually (or immediately) taken away from her because of the state of her mental health.

The opening of episode 5, “She’s No Angel,” featured a creepy/dream dance sequence. Many criticized the sequence, calling it too creepy for PLL or cringeworthy… but really guys… if it’s in an episode (especially in this season) it must be there for a reason. I interpreted the dance as a big clue. The young girl seemed to be telling the story of someone trapped (presumably in Radley), being pregnant and giving birth in Radley! Which might explain the Radley-esque baby cot in the vault. Marion might have given birth to Charles and/or Bethany (I think Charles) in Radley, giving someone close (i.e. Mrs. D.) reason to take him away; after all an asylum is no place for young kids. Mrs. D may have taken Charles, but after she had Jason, may not have been able to take Bethany, resulting in Bethany being put in foster care or being adopted.

Jessica played a role in the ‘destruction’ of Marion’s family.


In episode 4×13 “How the ‘A’ Stole Christmas,” Mrs. D (or rather her dream/ghost) says that all of this is her fault. It’s possible that Marion’s two kids (Bethany and Charles) were taken from her because of Jessica. It’s also important to point out here that Mrs. D was a board member at Radley. So she was likely in a position to exert some kind of control over Marion’s experience there. It’s also very worth mentioning that Mrs. DiLaurentis had an affair with Bethany’s dad, which was revealed in episode 5 x 12, “Taking This One to the Grave.”

Marion Cavanaugh is Black Veil.

So now my fav part of my theory… Charles is A, BUT THE VAULT BELONGS TO MARION CAVANAUGH and she’s Black Veil, or as some might say “Uber A.” Here’s why…

  • At this point, if my theory is true, Marion has lost two kids possibly at the hands of her sister.
  • Her sister had an affair with her husband (or baby daddy).
  • The one child Marion did get to have a relationship with, Toby, suffered at the hands of Mrs. D’s daughter. (Toby goes to juvi for a year after he takes the blame of blinding Jemma, when Alison and the girls were responsible).

So Marion has good reason to be mad at the DiLaurentis family. In other words, she has motive. Furthermore, Marion has the characteristics of someone that’s good at stalking and tracking. A, or Uber A has to be someone with a lot of patience who also enjoys watching things… or people.

Here’s an excerpt from Marion’s obituary via the PLL Wikia:

In her private time, Marion loved the outdoors. Hiking and camping were passions of hers in her younger years and even when the pressures of live prevented the exclusive trips she never took, she would make a point to get into the local wilderness as much as possible. Bird-watching became a hobby and she would spend hours cataloging her sightings.

Sounds pretty A-ish to me. Important bird-watching skills are patience and observation, which seem like strong traits of a person who has stalked and terrorized five girls for years.

Besides, Marion fitting the ‘profile’ of A, there are a few other things that point to her being Uber A. These aren’t the strongest clues of the bunch but I’m considering them anyway:

  • I think part of Mona’s riddle shouldn’t be looked at entirely as an anagram. “Sister launched lair” could be taken literally, as in Mrs. D’s sister launched the lair.
  • Then there’s Tippy, the parrot that spoke like Alison. Last we saw of Tippy was she was kidnapped by A who, if Uber A/Black Veil is Marion, would more than love having a bird around the lair.
  • In 4 x 22, “Cover for Me” we learn that Ezra thinks Mrs. D is A. But he may actually be mistaking her sister who bares a striking resemblance. (On a side note: When Mrs. D returns in season 4, her behavior is pretty creepy, from staring at spencer through the window of her house to knowing details about the girls, like Emily being in love with Alison. I wouldn’t be surprised if season 4 Mrs. D wasn’t the real Mrs. D. Crazier things have happened.)
  • Finally, there are those barometers in A’s vault that no other theorists (as far as I know) has been able to explain. Marlene said Charles’ vault had lots of clues in it. And other PLL theorists have pointed out many, save the weird gizmo. Perhaps those barometers have something to do with measuring air pressure, which may have something to do with Marion’s therapist at Radley, Dr. Louis Palmer, saying the “air was too heavy for her.”

Alison (or CeCe) played a role in Bethany’s death.

Lots of things in season 5 point to Alison knowing about Bethany. But Mona seemed to have found the connection between Ali and Bethany in episode 5 x 12, “Taking This One to The Grave,” right before she gets kidnapped by A. Through analyzing Bethany’s Radley recordings, Mona determined that Ali not only knew Bethany but lured her to Rosewood the night of her murder. Mona asserts that Ali knew about her mother’s affair and lured Bethany to Rosewood out of jealousy in order to kill her. Some have said that it was actually CeCe who lured Bethany posing as Alison, which makes sense because we know CeCe actually visited/checked-in to Radely. Nevertheless, the Rosewood police department suspected Alison as Bethany’s killer, but those charges were later dropped. Alison and CeCe (the toxic friends) liked to play games with people. So even if both or one of them wasn’t directly responsible for Bethany’s death, luring Bethany to Rosewood may have set off a chain of events that resulted in her death.


At the same time, the night of Alison’s/Bethany’s death is still a murky area. We know what Alison was doing that night before she got hit on the head with a rock. But we still  don’t know who exactly hit her… although I suspect Charles. (We know now, that Charles had left Radley (again) that same night Bethany sneaked out). It would make sense that Charles was who Mrs. DiLaurentis was trying to protect. Why else would she protect her daughter’s supposed murderer… because she considered a son. And although, I have nothing to back this up, it would also make sense that Charles tried to kill Alison that night because he thought that she killed his sister, Bethany. (I know that Alison was buried first that night, so that little theory doesn’t really work. But I’m not giving up on the idea quite yet.) Either way, I’m sure we’ll learn more about that night in the coming episodes. Because there are still pieces in that puzzle that need to be filled, like why were three blond girls (Alison, Bethany and CeCe) all wearing the same yellow shirt?

Charles is avenging the destruction of his family and his sister’s death.

If Marion has reason to be mad at the DiLaurentises, Charles too has reason. Everything that happened to him, the family he never had, and the family he kind of had is enough to make anyone go a teeny bit crazy but it all happened to someone who showed signs of instability and violence at an early age, so his experiences could be what’s making him incessantly torture Alison and her friends.
Charles is Wren.

I won’t say much here, except that I do agree with the current popular theory that Charles is Wren. (Details about that here and here). One of the holes in the Charles is Wren theory is that if Charles is indeed Wren, he would then be Spencer’s half-brother. But if he’s not really Mrs. D’s son and my theory on his family tree is correct, then he would have no blood relation to the hastings. Also, the name Wren may be an homage to his mother who loved birds.

(BTW, Mona totally knows who Charles is and probably knows his whole backstory. It’s no coincidence that she was kidnapped when she started looking into Bethany).

Holes in My Theory

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with me! Although I’ve basically written a book here, this whole theory is not complete. Big questions I still have are: if all this is true, why torture Emily, Spencer, Hanna and Aria? What did they do to deserve all that? Perhaps, torturing them was A’s way of smoking out Alison? Or perhaps that “Jemma thing” affected more people than just Toby and Jemma. *wink* *wink*.

What role does Sara Harvey have in all this? Maybe she’s just the first (unwilling) member of the A team. OOOORRRR maybe one of my assumptions isn’t true. So far, I’ve assumed that Bethany Young is dead-dead and not PLL-dead. And Marion is alive. But maybe it’s Marion that’s dead-dead and Sara Harvey is really Bethany Young and she and Charles have been working together as a dynamic psycho brother and sister duo. It would explain why she can’t go back to her so-called home and is staying with Emily. She could be the sister that launched the lair. If CeCe was the one who lured Bethany to Rosewood, then Alison may have never actually seen Bethany and know what she looks like. Either way Charles and his mother OR Charles and his sister is causing havoc because of the havoc that rained upon them.

(On a side note: I think there’s more to Toby’s visit to London if Charles is Wren and Toby’s mom is Charles’ mom).

Phew, that was a lot! We’ve got three more episodes until the big summer finale. So I’ll be updating this post as we learn more!

Thoughts on all this?

Photos via Tumblr
Love this? Share it!

An entrepreneur at heart, I founded Unruly in 2013 after spending six great years in advertising. I’m über lazy when it comes to doing my hair so I’m always looking for easy and quick ways to care and style my hair.

Articles: 191


  1. I thought Charles was committed because of his actions towards Ali (bath tub incident) …… Marion got pregnant with Bethany after Ms. D adopted Charles and then was committed ??? Trying to map out the timeline here ……

  2. Nice theory and I can see it going this route. One problem you said about Wren. If Charles is Mrs.D’s son, he would still have to relation to Spencer & Melissa. Because his dad is Mr.D or even someone else like Scott Montgomery. Only person in that family who do share blood is Jason. The only way Wren/Charles would share blood w/ the Hastings is if his dad was Mr. Hastings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *