Many background characters in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic garnered a lot of praise and attention from the Periphery Demographic, despite several of them not having any lines and a few more only making a few background appearances. Because of this, for the sake of neat archiving, the Ensemble Darkpony characters can be listed here.
Princess Luna (also a literal example of a Dark Horse who's part of an Ensemble) appeared for less than a minute in the second episode, said two lines, and wasn't even mentioned again until the first episode of season 2. Fans desperately wanted to see her return, disappointed that a character with such potential was barely utilised, and there are tons of drawings, stories and discussions about her, flooding fan fiction websites, forums, and chat boards. When she was confirmed to return for season 2, fans were ecstatic.
Luna's guards are Ensemble Darkhorses. Ponies with bat-wings and much cooler armor than the regular guards, they've only been briefly seen once in the show thus far (though they've cameo'd a few times in the comics). Since next to nothing is known about them, they've become popular OC Stand Ins, and inspired tons of bat pony OC's.
Nightmare Moon is either another element of Luna's popularity or an entirely different Darkpony herself, depending on whether she is considered a separate character or simply an extension of Luna(the comics have shown her to be separate).
In fact, the entire Apple family could be considered dark horses.
The Grrreat and PowerfulTrrrixie has a very impressive fanbase for a one-episode character with little significance, and her prominence in fan works almost reaches main character levels. Much like some other darkponies listed here she received a few toys based on her, at first calling her Lulamoon, but then changed to "Trixie Lulamoon." The fanbase rejoiced when she returned in Season 3 to have a rematch with Twilight, in the process making the fan theories to the effect of "Trixie is left a humiliated drifter after the Ursa Minor incident and wants revenge" fully canon. Some fans go so far as to want her to become a more recurring character, and fanfiction often pairs her up with Luna, either romantically or as her own apprentice to parallel Twilight and Celestia.
Pinkie Pie's baby alligator Gummy, commonly appearing in many fan works and is one of the most popular pets.
Cheerilee is a popular target for fanart and fanfiction from her very first appearance, being a teacher a good excuse to include her in any number of scenarios. Her popularity only grew during season 2, which gave her more screen time and even her own episode, "Hearts and Hooves Day", in which she featured alongside fellow darkpony Big McIntosh.
She's apparently popular over in Japan, even getting her own slot in the end credits roll call along with the Mane Cast.
Discord is the single most popular antagonist, loved and loathed in equal measure, and continually pops up in drawings, stories and speculation even long after being sealed away again, an enormous section of the fanbase wanted him to make a reappearance... which was granted in the Season 3 episode "Keep Calm and Flutter On". Not at all hurt by him being a blatant (admitted) Expy of Q, to the point where he's played bythe same person.
Daring Do, the star of the Book Within a Show that Rainbow Dash becomes a fangirl of in "Read it and Weep". Her being an Indiana Jones expy has made her really popular material for fanfics and art. Many pictures of involving Rainbow Dash have a tendency to include her in some form. (Such as a book or a plushie.) She acquired enough love to have a rather detailed Just For Fun page all to herself, and some fans actually started writing stories based on that page. Yes, this character is popular enough to get an entire metafictional spinoff series out of thin air.
Queen Chrysalis came out of nowhere, only hinted at once (in an online New York Daily Newsarticle) during all the crazy hype The Hub and Hasbro did for the season 2 finale, most of which was focused on the other new characters Princess Cadance and Shining Armor (since they're the ones with toys), and took the fandom by storm. All the fanart created literally within a day of her appearance shows just how far being a competent and dangerous (and scary) villain with a unique design and magnificent Villain Song will get you.
Her popularity also was enough to get her an official toy for the 2013 Collector's Line
Despite initial misgivings about characters that were transparently for the toys and had many traits of Mary Sues, Princess Cadance and Shining Armor became major fan favorites and were gladly accepted into the fandom consciousness and ever-growing fanon.
Soarin' and Spitfire of the Wonderbolts managed to capture a lot of attention amongst the fanbase when their names and personalities were established in the Season 1 finalenote They had Early Bird Cameoes before, but they were more or less costumed background ponies. Spitfire especially became somewhat of a pinup-girl to the fanart community with many a saucy WW2-style cheesecake image being drawn of her, as well as plenty of fanfics. Spitfire was brought back for another speaking role in Season 2 where she was established as the captain of the Wonderbolts, then again in a Season 3 episode that depicted her as being in charge of the training program for new recruits. Soarin' got a cameo in the Royal Wedding where he was seen wearing a dress uniform and dancing with Rainbow Dash.
The Flim Flam Brothers, whose affability and extremely catchy Villain Song made them stand out amongst other one-episode antagonists.
Fans of Hulk Hogan and Mr. T became big fans of Iron Will. He tends to appear very often in fan made music videos on YouTube.
Before the episode featuring King Sombra was even out yet he had spawned quite a lot of fan art. Indeed, before it was even known he was an actual character, with nothing to go on except a small Early-Bird Cameo, the fandom was disproportionately fascinated with him. Unfortunately, after the episode aired and fans noticed how little screentime and dialogue he had, fan reaction has been mixed. Ironically, many of his fans like him because of how little is made known about him, finding him mysterious and interesting because of it.
Fancypants has an impressive fan base, especially for the female viewers of the show.
Babs Seed, the fourth crusader, was warmly accepted by the fanbase. Her slightly different character model (she's bulkier than a standard filly) and Manehattanite background helps make her memorable.
It should be noted that every time a new character appears, even a one shot for the episode, they spawn at least some fanart and an Ask A Pony page within 24 hours of a new episode airing. No exceptions.
Nearly every single background character is given at least a name by the fans, if not an entire personality and history (especially if they have a unique design), and they'll receive fanart within a day of airing. Below are above & beyond the most popular and the ones the fandom is most familiar with.
Her astronomic popularity even extends to other background ponies. When a unicorn filly with similar coloring was spotted it led to the creation of Dinky Hooves, Derpy's daughter. One of the few things fans agree is that Derpy and Dinky are a happy family (sometimes married to Time Turner/Dr. Hooves, mentioned below), and Dinky is the most popular child character outside the Cutie Mark Crusadersnote She's sometimes depicted as the 4th Crusader. with tons of fanart and fanfics involving the two, often resulting in hearts being melted.
Her Ascended Meme status is completed in "The Last Roundup", where the first scene after the credits features Rainbow Dash actually having a whole slapstick routine with her, where she gets several lines and is addressed as "Derpy". However, when "The Last Roundup" suddenly disappeared from iTunes, then later restored with Derpy's scene modified with tweaked dialogue (she was no longer referred to by name and had a different voice), the fandom absolutely exploded with panic and anger towards Hasbro, displaying the sheer level of reverence that had been given to the pony. Ultimately the explanation for the change was that there were complaints Derpy was a stereotype of the mentally disabled, and the arguments about this among the fans were often heated and ugly.
Derpy also pops up in the iOS game as a surprise, albeit unnamed, character who gives you extra bits and gems when you find her.
Lyra Heartstrings, a mint colored unicorn with a lyre cutie mark, who gained the attention of the fanbase by often being seen hopping up and down with an excited look on her face as if she's mugging for the camera or engaged in a Funny Background Event, most notably sitting or otherwise acting in a semi-human-like manner. It became one of the fans' (many) memes to depict Lyra as the pony equivalent of an otherkin, wanting in one way or another to be human. She was nicknamed just "Lyra" by the fandom (a name adopted by WeLoveFine), then officially named "Heartstrings" by Hasbro, which led some fans to Take a Third Option and call her "Lyra Heartstrings". Then Hasbro finally used this name as well. After two seasons of complete silence in the English versionnote She had one line – "Ciao!" – during the first episode in the Italian dub, she finally got to speak a few lines in "A Canterlot Wedding", along with Minuette and Twinkleshine, two other well-liked background ponies.note Twinkleshine herself was the only background pony to speak during the pilot episode's Cold Open.
Lyra often appears alongside a pony that appears to be an Expy of Bon Bon from My Little Pony Tales (and is fan nicknamed as such), originally due to the way their colorations complement each other (as is standard practice with the placement of background ponies in crowd shots). This circumstance resulted in a lot of fan works depicting the two together in some way, whether as best friends, roommates, or romantic partners. And while Bon Bon doesn't get nearly the same amount of attention on her own as Lyra does, the two together are the most widely accepted pairing, and basically the OTP of the fandom. Yet another aspect of fanon that has been recognized in official media, such as being intentionally placed together in the famous Comic Con poster◊ and participating in Funny Background Events in several episodes (such as "Secret of My Excess", where they share one with Derpy).
Bon Bon does have one bit of notoriety among the fans: she is easily the most talkative of the background ponies. To date, she has spoken in five separate episodesnote 12 ("Call of the Cutie"), 20 ("Green Isn't Your Color"), 29 ("Lesson Zero"), 41 ("Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000"), and 45 ("Putting Your Hoof Down"), each time with a totally different voice. This has led to the fanon meme that she is or aspires to be a voice actor.
Time Turner/Dr. Hooves, a male Earth pony with an hourglass cutie mark and spikey brown hair that reminded some fans of David Tennant, spawned endless Doctor Who crossovers and the fanon that Equestria has (or had) their own version of Time Lords. Word of God says his look initially was a coincidence; his fandom interpretation was alluded to by his manning the hourglass in "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000", lording over time in a way, and by one of the official trading cards that says he is responsible for "pretty much all things timey-wimey." "Dr. Hooves" or "Doctor Hooves" was originally spelled as "Doctor Whooves" (which is Ascended Fanon, unlike his other Fan Nickname "Doctor Whoof"), but its letter W was removed, thus Writing Around Trademarks of The BBC. However, the box of his vinyl figure lists him as "Doctor Whooves" - how they got that around the trademarks is anyone's guess.
A female DJ unicorn that appeared for less than five seconds in "Suited For Success", doing nothing but turning on music and bobbing her head, garnered a huge following, generally called Vinyl Scratch, though other fans prefer her stage name that was spawned at the same time, "DJ P0N-3". The "DJ Pon-3" name was acknowledged in The Hub's Equestria Girls and There's a Pony For That commercials, and she's one of the few extras to receive her own official t-shirts and a brushable toy. She eventually returned in "A Canterlot Wedding - Part 2", this time showing what color her eyes are underneath her Cool Shades (the most popular fan theory was that her eyes were red – they turned out to be magenta)note The fandom is still split about 50/50 on this. Half accept that they were magenta, while the other half claim that "the light made them look magenta, but they were red." A third group of fans attempted to justify a compromise, stating that her irisis are magenta but that she wears red contacts during her shows.
Berry Punch (aka the Over Protective Parent Pony), a pink/purple earth pony with grapes for a cutie mark, is known for hastily dragging what might be her child inside in "Bridle Gossip" and drinking directly out of a punch bowl in "Call of the Cutie". The latter has led to her being depicted as The Alcoholic in fanon, an idea apparently shared by the storyboard artists when they put her into the scene, as revealed during an interview. She often gets paired with Minuette (see below) due the two singing together on a hill during the "Winter Wrap Up" song.
A common participant in the "Brushie Brushie" meme is Minuette, a blue background unicorn who shares the same character model with Sea Swirl and an hourglass cutie mark similar to Time Turner/Dr. Hooves' Fun Fact She appeared in the series even before either of those two.. Most fans call her Colgate for her toothpaste-like striped hair and the associated meme, and even has her own fan-made theme. Alternatively, she's also known as Romana, named after a Time Ladynote An in-universe term for female Time Lords. who accompanied the Doctor for a while, because apparently having an hourglass cutie mark means you're a Time Pony. She may even have gotten her own Fandom Nod in "Luna Eclipsed" when she appeared in the episode wearing what looks like a dental surgeon◊ costume for Nightmare Night (A pony holiday equivalent of Halloween).
Perhaps one of the darkest darkponies of all is the female earth pony who appears on screen for about two seconds, floating through the air past Twilight Sparkle in "The Return of Harmony Part 2". As with Derpy, the overall weirdness of this character seems to have caught fans' imagination. Dubbed "Screwball," she features in many fanfics, including the very popular Daddy Discord video and accompanying song.
Pinkie's sisters Inkie & Blinkie have quite the following among Mane Six family members despite only appearing in a flashback as fillies. As mentioned above there was a lot of speculation for a while when Octavia debuted that she & Inkie were the same pony, which in a weird way may have helped boost the sisters' own popularity. They have a popular Ask A Pony blog centered around them, Inkie has a song, and there's lots of fanworks that speculate what they're like in the present day.
The pegasi duo of Cloudchaser and Flitter managed to stand out quite a bit for the fans with their noticeably unique appearances. The two are often portrayed as being close sisters or friends in the fandom and spawned off quite a bit of fan material from artwork and blogs to repainted customs of existing figures and even some fan-created games, and the former at least looks to be making a return appearance in a season 3 episode.
Pegasi brothers Thunderlane and the colt Rumble are also popular, perhaps due to being the only known pair of brothers on the show. These two often are shown interacting together with Cloudchaser and Flitter.
Roid Rage/Horse Power/Muscle Pony/Dumb-Bell/Snowflake YEAH!!! is very popular and instantly recognizable due to being one of the most uniquely designed pegasi around. YEAH!!! His every appearance pretty much calls for a YEAH!!! from everyone watching.
Button Mash may very well be the king of this trope. He appears for all of two and a half seconds in the beginning of 'The Perfect Stallion' song. He does not speak, he is not named, all we see of him is a colt playing on an arcade machine. A dedicated fan made a pilot episode staring him that made a surprisingly large fandom for the colt.
Fleur de Lis appeared twice in one episode and spoke one line, and yet seems at least as popular as her assumed husband, Fancypants, who has his own entry above.note For example, on Fimfiction.Net her group has five times as many members as Fancy's
Sunset Shimmer has gotten the attention of a lot of bronies for various reasons, including her Cool Mask, her similar Theme Naming to Twilight Sparkle, and her description of being a former student of Princess Celestia. This has lead to her being the subject of a lot of Epileptic Trees, even though Word of God says that she won't appear in show.
The Equestria Girls movie reveals Sunset Shimmer to be the Big Bad. Since then, her popularity has dropped drastically compared to the popularity she had before the movie. Despite the Hype Backlash, she still has her fans, if only for her character design and Rebecca Shoichet's performance as the character.