The Nuptialverse is a series of Darker and EdgierMy Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfics written by Darth Link 22.The series had its start with Post Nuptials, set right at the end of the season 2 finale, "A CanterlotWedding". The story is as follows: Shining Armor and Princess Cadance have wed in the aftermath of the Changelings' defeat, thanks in part to the efforts of Twilight Sparkle, the only pony to see through Chrysalis the Changeling Queen's disguise as Cadance. But not everyone is celebrating: Twilight's friends and family, who had previously shunned Twilight for her wild accusations against the fake princess, are now wracked with guilt for not believing their friend. Desperate to mend the strain on their friendship, Twilight's friends turn to some familiar faces at the reception for guidance, and even make new friends they never expected in the process.Since its completion, Post Nuptials has spawned a sequel, Families, which is set directly after the original story. Everyone except Spike has managed to overcome their remorse for abandoning Twilight, who notices her faithful assistant is bitterly avoiding everyone and is determined to find the true source of his guilt; Rainbow Dash notices Scootaloo is uncomfortable talking about her parents and, not wanting to let down another friend, takes the young filly under her wing; and Pinkie Pie is forced to confront her long-abandoned past when it comes back to haunt her. Meanwhile, in Canterlot, unrest begins to brew amongst the nobility as more and more ponies begin to question whether Celestia is competent as a ruler if she and her Royal Guard were so easily defeated by the Changelings. Amidst this tension is the corrupt nobleman Olive Branch, who intends to use the growing distrust of Celestia to his advantage. It is complete.A second sequel, Direction, was posted after the completion of Families. It concerns Twilight having to leave Equestria for an extended period, and the other members of the Mane Six having to carry on defending Equestria without her. It is ongoing.The series has two side-stories set in the same time frame as the first story: Metamorphosis, which focuses on Queen Chrysalis after her defeat; and Honeymoon, which focuses on Princess Cadance and Shining Armor as they embark on their honeymoon.Naturally, there are UNMARKED SPOILERS abound for the season 2 finale.
This series provides examples of:
Abusive Parents: Scootaloo's parents, but especially her father Speedy Delivery. Both mess with Scootaloo's head, forcing her to act like a foal around them and calling her clumsy, all while maintaining a casual demeanor. Once Scootaloo confronts her dad, he decides to get a bit more physical.
Pinkie's birth parents are shown to be this in a flashback when they respond to Pinkie getting her cutie mark by spanking and yelling at her for, in their opinion, wasting time on pointless parties. This leads to her eventually running away.
Acceptable Breaks From Canon: Word of God is that the series will include any elements of season 3 that work with the plot, and ignore any contradicting aspects. He's even posted a journal entry explaining the differences between season 3 and the fic's universe.
Accusation Fic: This series has Twilight and her friends apologizing not just for the infamous Made Out to Be a Jerkass moment in the season 2 finale, but for pretty much every time they acted like jerks in the first two seasons (intentionally or not).
Adaptation Expansion: Several of the individual focus chapters of Post Nuptials are based on and include the snapshots from the reception sequence at the end of the actual episode.
Adaptational Villainy: Discord is far more twisted and evil in this universe than his canon counterpart who, while certainly malicious and powerful, is more along the lines of a misbehaved brat and, against the author's expectations, ultimately turns (sort of) good.
Akashic Records/Magical Library: The Keeper's library/plane of existence contains a book for every being who's ever lived, which in turn contain every single detail of their lives.
Ancient Keeper: The Keeper, an alicorn who records the lives of every living creature, who Twilight meets in Families when her spirit for some reason travels to her realm. She's so old she can't even remember her real name or how she came into being.
And Then What?: Celestia uses this when pointing out the flaws in Olive Branch's plan for immortality. Not only has he committed several felonies just to be able to make demands of Celestia, but he's also detailed his travel plans afterwards, betrayed his confidants while doing so, and left Celestia free to pursue him after his grand exit..
Scootaloo's story arc in Families has this recurring exchange between her father:
Speedy Delivery: Now, what do you say? Scootaloo: I love you, Daddy. Speedy Delivery: I know you do.
When Scootaloo finally stands up to him, for good, she says "I hate you, Daddy".
Armor-Piercing Question: In Families, after Pinkie Pie mentions that she has second thoughts about not trying to work things out with her parents, Rainbow Dash says that they were jerks and Pinkie should just forget them. Pinkie's response is "Isn't that what we did with Twilight?"
The Atoner: Defied; the rest of the Mane Six are willing to become this for Twilight after the wedding rehearsal incident, though Twilight tells them that's not necessary.
Rainbow Dash becomes this anyway by taking Scootaloo under her wing in Families, feeling it's the only way she can be redeemed for her harsh attitude towards Twilight since she treated Scootaloo the same way in "Ponyville Confidential" for the CMC's hurtful gossip columns.
Pinkie's parents, Clyde especially, after they mistreated Pinkie into running away. They spent the past several years trying to track her down just so they could apologize.
Balance Between Good and Evil: It hasn't been properly explained, but Discord comments during his first meeting with Chrysalis that he's arrived to take the Windigos' place.
Bigger Bad: Queen Chrysalis for the series as a whole. Everything wrong in The Nuptialverse and is more or less related to the emotional fallout caused by her invasion, from the strain on Twilight's friendships to fuel for Olive Branch's anti-Celestia tirade. Not to mention she's still at large while everypony else deals with their own problems. That said, Discord is an even Bigger Bad, seeing how he made Chrysalis what she is in the first place.
Blatant Lies: Olive Branch in his rebuttal after Celestia points out one of the many glaring holes in his grand plan, specifically the one how he'd escape any retribution afterwards.
Body Horror/Cruel and Unusual Death: The ways in which Discord kills Equestria's founders as shown in Metamorphosis, most of which fall into Death by Irony territory—Private Pansy is skewered with arrows that come out of Commander Hurricane's mouth; Chancellor Puddinghead's head literally turns into pudding and slides off her still living body; Smart Cookie is turned into a living cookie and crumbles under her own weight, feeling every minute of it; Clover the Clever's magic summons clovers that smother her; Princess Platinum is turned into a slab of platinum; and Commander Hurricane is left bloodied and broken.
Book Ends: The first and last chapters of Post Nuptials are about Twilight and her friends talking, making up, and hugging.
Break the Haughty: In Metamorphosis, Private Pansy's death does this to Commander Hurricane. Chrysalis is similarly broken by her transformation into a Changeling and subordinate to Discord.
Calling the Old Man Out: With encouragement from Rainbow Dash, Scootaloo eventually stands up to her father. This doesn't end well for her.
She does it again at the climax, much more strongly. Punctuated by Rainbow Dash then kicking his flanks.
Canon Welding: The events of the G1 cartoon are revealed in a passing reference to have taken place in the distant past of Equestria.
Casting a Shadow: Sunset Shimmer has this ability, being able to cloak herself in shadows to hide from Royal Guards.
Cerebus Retcon: Scootaloo's canonical desire to earn her Cutie Mark as quickly as possible is cast in a harsher light after her mother casually brings up that she's becoming a mare, but still has an incredibly long way to go.
Why aren't there any pegasi or unicorn Crystal Ponies? Because Sombra killed them all.
Childhood Friend Romance: Shining and Cadance have known each other since before Twilight was born, and have been in love with each other almost as long (though they didn't admit their feelings until much more recently).
The Conspiracy: Families features one that aims to discredit Celestia, to the point that their leader, Olive Branch, gives Garble's gang directions to Ponyville so that Celestia's "pet dragon" (Spike) can be blamed for the resulting damage. Speedy Delivery is later revealed to be a member.
Conspiracy Theorist: Olive Branch and the tabloid ponies are a very small, very loud minority of these.
Cry Cute: Rainbow Dash is easily the crowning example of this in Post Nuptials: in the opening chapter, she tearfully screams at Twilight for forgiving her and the others so easily for letting her down; in her own chapter, she breaks down a second time as she confesses how much she wanted Twilight to "get even" with them for betraying her.
Dark and Troubled Past: Pinkie has one. Her father Clyde became bitter and distant following the death of his mother, and lashed out at Pinkie when she earned her cutie mark and realized her destiny of throwing parties, which he called a waste of time; in truth, he was hurt by Pinkie's well-intentioned attempts of filling the void left by her grandmother. The emotional pressure became so much for Pinkie to bear that she eventually ran away from home.
Daydream Surprise: As a Running Gag in Families, ordinary scenes suddenly turn bizarre, followed by somepony telling Pinkie to knock it off.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: It turns out Discord prepared for his second defeat by using the Changelings as backup. He also seems to have suspected Chrysalis betraying him, if his warning to her is to be believed.
Families gets fairly dark (though not nearly as much as Metamorphosis) in terms of the sheer amount of emotional turmoil and psychological abuse the characters, particularly Spike, Scootaloo, and Pinkie, go through.
Deal with the Devil: Chrysalis' deal with Discord in Metamorphosis; she destroys the Energy of Friendship (the same flame that vanquished the Windigos) so Discord can enter Equestria, and Discord gives her the powers of all three pony tribes.
Deconstruction Fic: Post Nuptials deconstructs the aftermath of "A Canterlot Wedding", specifically how the Mane Six and other associated characters react to Twilight forgiving them for not believing her about Fake!Cadance; Twilight's friends continue to feel ashamed for turning their backs on her, while Twilight hides how angry she really feels out of fear that her foolish behavior nearly cost her her friends.
Families cranks the deconstruction Up to Eleven: from Spike's relationship with Twilight (he always viewed her as a mother and works hard because he wants her to see him as her son), to the perpetual absence of Scootaloo and Pinkie Pie's parents (both have Abusive Parents; Scootaloo's want her out of the house because they're working to overthrow Celestia, while Pinkie ran away from home because her parents could not tolerate her partying), to the Royal Guard's utter failure to stop the Changeling invasion despite Princess Celestia and Shining Armor making a big deal of how they were "prepared" for something bad to happen (the populace is outraged, giving the villains some good publicity when they announce their intent to overthrow Celestia). It even deconstructs some fanon elements, such as "Tyrant Celestia" and "Scootabuse". Heck, the climax of the subplot shows what would really happen if a rebellion against two God-like beings happened.
Deity of Pony Origin: It seems alicorns only come into being when regular ponies of sufficient strength go through something called "the Trials of the Source".
Deus Angst Machina: The first installment is about nearly a dozen characters angsting over a friend they'd let down. The second is about half of those characters spurned by said angst to begin angsting over parental issues. Lampshaded by Rainbow Dash:
Rainbow Dash: Oh for... When did we get all this drama in our lives?
The Dreaded: Discord, if what the Keeper tells Twilight about him has any bearing.
The Keeper: If I told you half the things he wants to do to you once he's free, you'd have nightmares. I mean, even worse than you've been having.note Just for scale, the nightmares Twilight has are about her friends ignoring her when she's in trouble, and sometimes even cheering for her death.
Easily Forgiven: Deconstructed; everyone feels even more undeserving of Twilight's friendship when she insists on forgiving them instead of chewing them out like they expected her to do. It's ultimately subverted when Twilight admits she is still mad at them, which becomes the first step towards truly forgiving them.
Chrysalis, who at least has subjects to look after, is utterly terrified of her master Discord and what he'll do to her now that she's effectively betrayed him.
Olive Branch admits that as soon as Speedy Delivery was no longer needed, he was going to help have him arrested for his abuse of Scootaloo.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Queen Chrysalis is only ever referred to outside of Metamorphosis as the Changeling Queen. Justified because she never formally introduces herself in the episode she appeared in, giving the characters no reason to know her name.
Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Chrysalis doesn't understand how Shining Armor and Cadance were able to use The Power of Love to defeat her. Also, she doesn't seem to grasp why Twilight would still fight to save everyone even after they turned on her.
Olive Branch refuses to believe anyone with as much power as the Princesses is really as selfless as they appear.
A minor example but Olive Branch also cannot fathom why most of the citizens still support Princess Celestia despite letting the Changeling Invasion happen.
Eye Scream: The fight between Twilight and Garble ends with Twilight shoving a burning piece of wood through his left eye.
Implied during Pinkie Pie's retelling of Mrs. Cake's Screaming Birth: "...she somehow got a hold of that scalpel...fortunately, [...] Nurse Redheart sees almost perfectly out of that eye now..."
Faking the Dead: Olive Branch does this when his negotiations fail to get his followers to riot and create a diversion for him to escape.
Fantastic Racism: The ponies of Canterlot are quite prejudiced against dragons, considering how much trouble they gave Spike when he and Twilight were growing up. Olive Branch's anti-Celestia conspiracy only makes it worse when he paints Spike as the one who instigated the dragon attack near Ponyville.
Queen Chrysalis harbored these feelings against unicorns and earth ponies back when she was an ordinary pegasus.
Fix Fic: The author admits feeling that the whole "Twilight getting dismissed" subplot in the season 2 finale deserved more than a simple apology from Applejack for closure.
Flat "What.": Princess Luna, when Olive Branch reveals that he doesn't actually care how she and Celestia run Equestria.
Forced to Watch: When Celestia and Luna first stood up to Discord, he summoned all their blood relatives and forced them to watch him murder them in horrific ways.
Forceful Kiss: Soarin' starts his suprise visit to Rainbow Dash by sneaking up behind her, pulling her around, and planting a big one. Though upset because it took her by surprise, Rainbow Dash returns his affection quickly.
Foregone Conclusion: Most of Shining Armor's chapter in Post Nuptials takes place during Twilight's last-minute wedding planning, so when he says he's having cold hooves, readers who have seen the episode (or read the rest of the story up to this point) will know that he will change his mind.
Free-Range Fillies: Speedy Delivery actually encourages Scootaloo to spend as much time away from home as possible, because her parents don't want her "goofing around" when they're working. Or more specifically, he doesn't want anyone finding out what he and Olive Branch have planned for Princess Celestia.
Freudian Excuse: Pinkie's father Clyde became bitter out of grief for his mother's death.
Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Twilight smacks Shining Armor in the face in Post Nuptials when he starts ranting about how poor of a brother, guard captain, and potential husband he's been.
Good Is Not Soft: Luna had shades of this trope show up multiple times, being less restrained than her sister. She gets to show this in full form by sparing Olive Branch's life, but subjecting him to all the horrors he forced on others.
Gory Discretion Shot: When Twilight gouges out Garble's eye, the scene cuts away to the Keeper, who shudders at the act.
Guilt Complex: Everyone regrets hurting Twilight so much that they feel they don't deserve to be her friends. Each chapter of Post Nuptials (and, in Spike's case, about one third of Families) focuses on them overcoming their guilt.
Some of the Mane Six feel as though they've betrayed the Elements of Harmony they represent: Rainbow Dash, the Element of Loyalty, turned her back on a close friend in favor of someone she'd just met; Rarity, the Element of Generosity, was too absorbed in generating business via her dresses to listen to Twilight; and Fluttershy, the Element of Kindness, coldly broke Twilight's heart along with everyone else.
Celestia and Shining Armor beat themselves up over ignoring a pivotal warning from their loyal student and sister, respectively, during high alert. In fact, Shining Armor thinks he's failed as a potential husband for letting Chrysalis fool him, and even considers cancelling the wedding altogether because of it.
Twilight feels this way because she knows she had acted completely out of control when she accused Cadance of being evil, and fears that she could have lost her friends for good had she been wrong.
Gullible Lemmings: A good bulk of Canterlot buys into the tabloid ponies' stories about Princess Celestia being an incapable ruler, Spike her unruly pet, and Twilight her loyal attack dog. It's somewhat justified by Celestia's failure to anticipate the Changeling invasion, but mostly fueled by the Canterlot ponies' Fantastic Racism against dragons. The Ponyvillians, on the other hand, aren't nearly this stupid.
Hand Wave: Assuming the Elements of Harmony were still kept behind the same door in Canterlot Tower shown in "The Return of Harmony", which can only be opened by Princess Celestia, how would the Mane Six have opened it in "A Canterlot Wedding"? Well according to this fic, the Elements would have come to them on their own if they got close enough.
Heroic BSOD: All the focal characters find themselves in the middle of one by the start of the series. The whole story is about how each of them gets out of it and deals with the repercussions.
Hope Spot: At the end of Families, it seems as if the changeling threat is finally going to be dealt with, as the Royal Guard and their buffalo allies have found Chrysalis' hiding spot... when Discord has her transported elsewhere to meet another "associate" in order to engineer his escape.
Humble Pie: Twilight's friends, while not feeling so great since they're prepared to move mountains to earn her forgiveness, are still brought down a few pegs when Twilight forgives them like it's nothing instead of angrily screaming at them like they anticipated.
Hypocritical Humor: In a flashback to Twilight's first day with Spike, she scolds Shining Armor for addressing him in baby talk, as she wants him to learn proper Equestrian. Shining leaves the room for a few minutes, and when he comes back...
Twilight: Who's a cute dwagon? You're a cute dwagon! A cutie-wootie! You're Twiley's favorite dwagon! Yes you are! Yes you... (realises Shining is there)And that's how not to talk.
A meta-example, Rainbow Dash says that she's giving up on the Daring Do fanzine for now because of lame fanstories, particularly one where "every character was whining that they didn't believe Daring that Derring's coltfriend was Ahuizotl in disguise."
Jackass Genie: In Metamorphosis, Discord promises to fulfill then-pegasus Chrysalis' desire to obtain the powers of all three pony tribes. Chrysalis thinks it means she will become an alicorn, but Discord thinks just turning her into an alicorn would be boring.
Jerkass Has a Point: Apart from the Fantastic Racism-fueled bits that demonize Spike, the anti-Celestia tabloids and speakers in Canterlot bring up a number of valid points on why the ponies of Equestria should doubt their current rulers. Just to bring up a few: Princess Celestia failing to see the Changeling invasion coming during high alert; ignoring her student's warning that could have prevented it sooner; treating Twilight like her attack dog by ordering her to get the Elements after losing to Queen Chrysalis (in front of the other ponies, no less); the Royal Guard, trained to expect such an attack, losing within minutes; Shining Armor going on his honeymoon instead of hunting down the Changelings; Entrusting a group of inexperienced children to take on Nightmare Moon and Discord instead of doing it herself; etc.
Jerkass Realization: Discussed; Rainbow Dash recalls how she and the others felt like complete jerks for walking out on Twilight once they saw her crash the first wedding with the real Cadance; Rainbow got hit with this particularly hard because she had originally argued that Twilight needed to "pay" for what she did during the rehearsal.
Rarity has one in her own chapter while speaking with Fancypants when she mentions how relieved she was to be forgiven by Twilight, only to then realize Twilight must also be harboring her own regrets for the rehearsal incident.
Karma Houdini: Unlike canon, Trixie doesn't have a Heel Realization after the events of "Magic Duel". Instead, still left half-mad by the Alicorn Amulet, she flees into the Everfree Forest, where she's elluded capture since.
For the Flim Flam brothers, as told by Apple Fritter. She tells Applejack they've tried their luck at Appleloosa, but Braeburn and Thunderhooves weren't pleased with what occurred in Ponyville and ran them out of town, trashing their machine in the process. Then they went to Canterlot to see if they'd do any better there, but skipped town as fast as they could when they found out that Celestia was friends with Applejack.
Olive Branch gets his in the form of a spell performed by Luna herself. The spell subjects him to feel all the pain and torture that he inflicted onto others, directly or indirectly. All of it. And the best part? If he ever causes anypony pain ever again, he'll feel that too.
Speedy and Quick are "rewarded" for their abuse by being forced into a Sadistic Choice. Either rot in jail for the rest of their lives or be forced to give up their child in trade for lighter sentences.
Let Us Never Speak of This Again: After Fluttershy and Iron Will stumble upon Octavia and Vinyl Scratch making out with each other while in the hedge maze in Post Nuptials:
Iron Will: Did you see... Fluttershy: No. Iron Will: Me neither.
Like a Son to Me: Celestia loves Twilight like a daughter, which is a prime factor for her guilt over how cold she was to her beloved student. On a lesser note, neither Cadance nor any of Celestia's other "nephews and nieces" (including Blueblood) are actually related to her; they're just titles she gives to ponies she's especially close to.
Also applies to the Cakes' relationship with Pinkie.
Living Lie Detector: Subverted. Applejack specifically tells Apple Fritter that no, wielding the Element of Honesty does not automatically make her capable of telling when someone's lying.
Mama Bear: Twilight, once she realizes that Spike sees her as his mother and begins thinking of herself as such. So, what happens in the aptly titled "Mama Ursa" chapter and the one that precedes it? When she sees Garble trying to hurt Spike, she rips a huge tree out of the ground with her magic and starts using it as a club. And when Garble describes what he's going to do to Spike, Twilight goes intoRapidash-mode, stabs out his eye, and threatens to kill him if he ever comes back. Even anti-magic rings aren't able to hold her down when Spike's life is on the line, as Olive discovers.
Darth Link 22: "Okay, if Mama Bear is not on The NuptialverseTV Tropes page within 24 hours, I have failed."
Mathematician's Answer: Most of the answers the Keeper gives to Twilight. This is partially because she's not allowed to give straightforward answers, and partially because it's fun.
Morality Pet: Scootaloo becomes one for Rainbow Dash, who sees treating her like a sister as a form of redemption for abandoning Twilight.
Motive Rant: Speedy Delivery gives one in chapter 24, claiming he spent literally his entire life working hard for the sake of his family, only to end up in poverty, whereas ponies all around him managed to get rich and famous while barely having to work for it. Olive Branch convinced him that this perceived "favoritism" was a sign of how "corrupt" Equestria's system was, leading him to become Olive Branch's second-in-command.
Must Make Amends: The Mane Five visit Twilight at the very beginning of the story to make sure she knows how sorry they are for how terribly they treated her at the wedding rehearsal, and swear to make it up to her. Twilight tells them not to bother, and that just being her friends is enough to earn her forgiveness.
My God, What Have I Done?: The crowning trope of Post Nuptials, which is based on "A CanterlotWedding". Twilight suspects the foul-mannered Princess Cadance is up to no good, but when she accuses the princess of such during the wedding rehearsal, Twilight gets rebuked and deserted by her brother, friends, and mentornote They assume the princess is being an ordinary Bridezilla, and that Twilight is being overly possessive of her brother. Then, after Twilight is proven right by outing "Cadance" as the evil Queen Chrysalis in disguise, everyone who ignored Twilight is horrified by how hard they were on her, while Twilight herself is similarly mortified by how much worse things could have been if she turned out to have been wrong.
Pinkie's father Clyde had this reaction a week after she ran away, after remembering something his mother used to say.
Twilight considers the "Smartypants incident" in "Lesson Zero" to be her second-greatest failure.
Princess Celestia and Shining Armor also take into account that Princess Cadance was trapped for days in the caves beneath Canterlot, and that the city was very nearly invaded, due to their negligence.
Discord makes Celestia and Luna immortal to torture them, and lets them take the remains of the orb containing the Energy of Friendship. This gives them the time they need to become alicorns and turn the pieces into the Elements of Harmony. Longtime viewers of the show know how well that would have turned out for Discord.
As Luna gloatingly tells Olive Branch himself, his half-assed plan and the actions of himself and his lieutenants have caused the anti-Celestia movement to lose almost all support, not only allowing the royals to focus once more on searching for Chrysalis rather than defending their position, but now no one will object to Twilight officially adopting Spike.
Nightmare Sequence: In Post Nuptials, Princess Celestia has a nightmare in which Nightmare Moon, a Changeling-turned Cadance, Queen Chrysalis, Discord, and his new "Queen of Chaos" Twilight taunt and accuse her of letting down her kingdom by ignoring her student.
In Families, Twilight is plagued with nightmares where Princess Celestia puts her to death for an unspoken crime so horrible that her friends curse her and Shining Armor, her executioner, basically tells her "I have no sister."
Twilight later has another one in the same fic in which she is chased by hungry Changelings and runs to her friends for help, but they don't believe her and leave her to be eaten alive.
No Name Given: Metamorphosis reveals "Chrysalis" is not the Changeling Queen's real name; it's rather one Discord gives her after transforming her into a Changeling. Her real name is never mentioned because he wipes all memory of it from history, leaving her only with the name he gave her.
Noodle Incident: There are two words explaining why alcohol was banned from Equestria for five hundred years, causing a decade-long economic depression: drunk Luna.
Nostalgia Filter: It's explained that this is one reason the others didn't believe Twilight's suspicions about the fake Cadence — they assumed that her complaints about "Cadence" not acting the way Twilight remembered was just Twilight trying too hard to relive her nostalgic memories.
Not What It Looks Like: Applejack comforts Twilight over her nightmares and spends the night by her bed. When Pinkie walks in on them the next morning, she takes this as evidence that her theory about them is right.
Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Applejack becomes a nasty victim of this in Post Nuptials, where every time she sees Twilight laughing happily with Princess Cadance or hears others say what an awesome friend Twilight is drives a metaphorical knife through her heart. It reaches its peak when Apple Fritter tells her how Twilight immediately set out to find her after she told her friends she would be leaving Ponyville in "The Last Roundup".
Oddly enough, Twilight's friends slinging their own guilt becomes this for Twilight. As they go on and on about how they should have listened to her, Twilight thinks they would have done the opposite if she turned out to be wrong.
It runs in the family, as Inkie and Blinkie demonstrate when their parents and the Cakes try to shoo them out of the room before Pinkie arrives.
OOC Is Serious Business: Once Olive Branch is finished laying out his grand plan to attain immortality by using the Mane 6 (at least the ones they deem most threatening) as hostages, he realizes something's up when Celestia starts guffawing uncontrollably in response.
Orwellian Retcon: It turns out in Families that when Pinkie told the story about her getting her cutie mark, she edited it for the CMC's sake.
Overprotective Dad: Speedy Delivery, to morally disturbing levels; he's so possessive of Scootaloo that he raises her to be as psychologically dependent on him, and only him, as possible. When she finally calls him out in Families, he only tightens his grip.
Parental Issues: Spike, Scootaloo, and Pinkie Pie have some pretty deep-seated issues with their parents or parental figures, which are all examined closely in Families.
Parental Substitute: Spike sees Twilight as his mother, but keeps avoiding her for a good part of Families because he thinks she'd never want him as a son after walking out on her.
The same applies to Pinkie Pie and the Cakes.
Pass the Popcorn: Celestia does this while Olive Branch futilely waits for confirmation that Rainbow Dash and Soarin have been executed. It's pretty much an in-universe invocation, since Celestia is stated to hate the taste but feels it best proves her point of how badly Olive has miscalculated.
The Pollyanna: Pinkie Pie is an even bigger example here than she is in the show itself, given how troubled her relationship with her parents became following her grandmother's death.
Poor Communication Kills: Spike's refusal to talk to Twilight, and his making the CMC promise not to tell anyone, leads to him stewing in his guilt until he decides it's best to run away. The chapter in Families where this happens is even named after this trope.
Twilight again when she sees the tabloid badmouthing Spike.
Twilight: What. Is. This?
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: Celestia informs the rioters that they managed to do more damage to the Castle in a single day than Spike did in his entire life and they should really reconsider who's the bloodthirsty monster.
Running Gag: Far too many readers were theorizing that Changelings were still behind the conflict in Families for the author's taste. So, with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, he Josses that theory by having Twilight run a detect-changeling spell on nearly every group of people she runs across, which always turns up negative.
Sadistic Choice: Olive Branch has Rainbow Dash and Twilight abducted, planning to use their lives as leverage to force Celestia to comply with his demands. Subverted, however, as Celestia knows right away that he's underestimated his victims and is doomed to fail, so she just laughs in his face.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here: When an enraged Twilight easily breaks free of the Power Nullifier that the Olive Branch's goons, Twilight only has to fling one of them into unconsciousness. The other three bolt immediately when they see the spells beginning to fail.
Self-Deprecation: Scootaloo engages in a lot of this due to how her parents treat her.
A meta one. Rainbow Dash says that she's given up on a Daring Do fanzine because she didn't like one fanstory which was nothing but the entire supporting cast angsting about how they didn't believe Daring when she said that Derring was dating Ahuizotl in disguise.
Sequel Escalation: Post Nuptials is about heartwarming reconciliation. Families is about deep psychological and emotional trauma, and a conspiracy to discredit Celestia's public image. Judging from the author's future plans for the story, it just keeps growing.
Sequel Hook: By the end of Post Nuptials, Pinkie, Spike, and Scootaloo still have familial issues that need taking care of.
Metamorphosis closes with Chrysalis swearing revenge on Twilight, Shining Armor, and Cadance.
Families ends with Discord contacting Chrysalis in a dream and ordering her to meet with an "associate" of his in order to plan his release. Meanwhile, relations with the dragons are now tense due to Garble's actions, and on top of that, several canon Season 3 events are alluded to (Trixie plotting her revenge, the reemergence of the Crystal Empire).
Shaming the Mob: Once Celestia exposes Olive Branch's lies to his followers, she tells them all that they've caused more damage to her palace than Spike ever did the entire time he lived there.
Ship Sinking: Rarity only dances with Fancypants in Post Nuptials because they're friends. Likewise, Sweetie Belle only dances with Spike to try and cheer him up. Subverted with Rainbow Dash and Soarin'; they actually are on a date, and have plans for him to visit Ponyville for a proper one.
Shipper on Deck: Pinkie seems to think that Applejack has an unrequited crush on Twilight.
Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Metamorphosissubverts this; the accomplishments of Equestria's founders are seemingly rendered meaningless when the then-pegasus Chrysalis breaks the orb holding the Energy of Friendship into six pieces, ushering Discord's rise to power and the founders' horrible deaths. After failing to stop Discord and being made immortal, however, Celestia and Luna gather up the six pieces and bring them to "the Source", which turns them into the Elements of Harmony.
Simultaneous Arcs: Aside from the first, last, and Shining Armor chapters, all of Post Nuptials happens during the wedding reception, each chapter told from the POV of one of Twilight's friends (we actually get a sneak peek of Spike's chapter in Pinkie's because of this).
Families follows three major, mostly separate story arcs focusing on the familial relationships of three groups of characters: Twilight and Spike's mother-son relationship; Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo's sisterly relationship, plus Scootaloo's relationship with her abusive parents; and Pinkie Pie's relationship with her estranged family.
The Starscream: It is revealed in Metamorphosis that Chrysalis is one for Discord; the point of her invasion plan was to absorb enough love so she could face Discord. Since her plan failed, she is desperate to form a new one in case Discord breaks free again.
Straw Hypocrite: Olive Branch, in the end. He really wanted immortality, and all the anti-Celestia movement was a charade to gain an advantage over the Princess.
Taking the Heat: Not only is Celestia willing to put up with all the tabloids' slander against her in Families, but when Twilight and Shining Armor come under fire, she fabricates some details to shift the blame onto herself and protect them.
Tears of Remorse: Quite abundant, especially in Post Nuptials where everyone is still angsting over how they acted during the wedding rehearsal.
The Tease: Princess Cadance, especially in Honeymoon. For example, when Shining Armor tries convincing her to marry him by saying she'd gain Twilight as a sister:
Cadance: Wait. You think I'd marry you to get closer to another mare? Do you really think I swing that way? Shining Armor: What? No, I... Cadance: Only kidding...though Twilight is kind of hot...
Think Happy Thoughts: Deconstructed; Pinkie laughs and smiles until she feels better whenever she's sad, never talking with her friends about negative feelings because she doesn't want to make them unhappy. As a testament of how unhealthy this is, Princess Luna tells her this kind of attitude is what led to the birth of Nightmare Moon (and a five-hundred-year ban on alcohol), and suggests that her imaginary friends from "Party of One" are a product of this.
Third Line, Some Waiting: Pinkie's story arc in Families progresses more slowly compared to Twilight/Spike's and Scootaloo's. This is entirely deliberate, as Pinkie is fully aware that they have their own issues they're working through and was reluctant to talk to anyone about her problems when she knew they had their own to deal with. It takes receiving a letter from home to prod her into talking to anyone other than the Cakes about her Parental Issues.
To the Pain: At the climax of Families, Twilight gets Rabble Rouser's entire mob to surrender by calmly listing and describing all the offensive spells she knows.
Tranquil Fury: Celestia, when she learns of tabloids accusing her of brainwashing Twilight into being her "loyal attack dog" following her absence from Shining Armor's first wedding and sudden appearance in the second.
Villainous Breakdown: Olive Branch's confident attitude shatters the instant Celestia begins laughing uncontrollably at how stupid his master plan is, and only keeps crumbling as she pokes holes through it.
Voodoo Shark: In a flashback, Twilight explains to Spike that it's impossible for ponies to shape shift anything. This was meant to explain away why it never occurred to Twilight that the Cadance who didn't recognize her was an impostor and why the shape shifting was a uniquely changeling trait. However, it was pointed out that Twilight has shape shifted several things in the show proper. The author has since rewritten it to state that shape shifting one sapient being to another takes a load of magic, more than many can use, making it impractical for a pony to disguise herself as such.
Was Once a Pony: The entire Changeling race was an obscure fourth pony tribe called Flutterponies (ponies from G1 with butterfly wings) transformed by Discord to serve as Chrysalis' army; Chrysalis herself, meanwhile, was an ordinary pegasus similarly transformed by Discord.
We Are as Mayflies: Ponies only live about seventy years, while dragons live for about a thousand. Spike wasn't aware of this until he read a book about dragons.
Wham Line: When Olive Branch brings his list of grievances to the Princesses:
Princess Luna: And what matter would thou wish be focussed on first? Olive Branch: The list isn't anything I care about. You may do what you wish. Princess Luna: ...What? Olive Branch: I really don't care how you run Equestria. It doesn't matter to me in the end.
When Garble returns home:
Dragon: …Prince Garble, what…
What the Hell, Hero?: Subverted at the start of Post Nuptials, when everyone is fully prepared for Twilight to tear into them for how they treated her at the wedding rehearsal, yet she instead calmly rationalizes their actions and says she has forgiven them. Played straight immediately after when Rainbow Dash calls her out on not calling them out. Double subverted on the train ride home when Twilight does call her friends out.
Scootaloo is outright disgusted with Spike when he keeps making excuses to avoid talking to Twilight about his guilt.
Twilight gives Shining Armor a good smack to the face when he temporarily decides to cancel the wedding, because doing that would break Cadance's heart more than he thinks he's already done.
Olive Branch gives one to Celestia over the invasion during their negotiations and even considered using what he knew as blackmail to win his cause.
Where Did We Go Wrong?: Pinkie's parents initially thought this when Pinkie earned her cutie mark in party-throwing, thinking it contradicts everything they taught her about hard work, and again when she ran away after being rebuked for it.