Fan Fic: The Nuptialverse

Post Nuptials is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Fan Fic written by Darth Link 22.

Set right at the end of "A Canterlot Wedding", the story takes a much closer look at how Twilight Sparkle's friends reacted after discovering her accusations against Princess Cadance, which they'd previously ignored, were ultimately correct. Has Twilight truly forgiven them for not believing her? Was a simple apology really all it took to fix the damage they'd done? How will this incident shape their lives from now on?

The fanfic has spawned an entire series known as the "Nuptialverse", which establishes its own Darker and Edgier mythos distinct from the show as depicted in Season 3 onward (as it was being written before the season has aired), eventually delving into full Alternate Universe territory. The stories are as follows:

  • Post Nuptials - The story that started it all. Set right at the end of "A Canterlot Wedding", the Changelings have been defeated and Shining Armor and Princess Cadance have wed, but Twilight's friends are still left to deal with the strain on their friendships left from their falling out at the wedding rehearsal.
    • Metamorphosis - A one-chapter side story also set in the same timeframe as Post Nuptials, where Queen Chrysalis reflects on her defeat and the circumstances that led to her becoming the ruler of the Changelings.
    • Honeymoon - Another side story, this one-shot shows Princess Cadance and Shining Armor embarking on their honeymoon and reminiscing the events that first brought them together.
    • Outrage - A later side oneshot showing Twilight Velvet and Night Light's efforts to get a handle on just what happened at the wedding.
  • Families - The sequel to Post Nuptials. Picking up immediately where the first story left off, Twilight and Rainbow Dash are determined to find out what's been eating Spike and Scootaloo since the wedding reception, while Pinkie Pie is forced to confront the ghosts of her long-abandoned past. It is complete.
  • Direction - In this third installment, Twilight and Spike are sent on a journey far away from home, leaving the rest of their friends to save Equestria without their team's backbone. It is ongoing.

This series provides examples of:

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    Post Nuptials 
  • Accusation Fic: The story 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 are based on and include the snapshots from the reception sequence at the end of the actual episode.
  • Arc Words: Of Applejack's chapter: "Just don't think about it."
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When the CMC are talking to Spike and are trying to get him to overcome his guilt from not listening to Twilight, Sweetie Belle states that part of being a family is sometimes making mistakes, then reconcelling. Spike then asks her if any of the mistakes that she or the Crusaders ever made got somepony they cared about almost killed at the hands of a monster like the Changeling Queen, or if they almost got Equestria taken over and every one enslaved.
  • Book Ends: The first and last chapters are about Twilight and her friends talking, making up, and hugging.
  • Cry Cute: Rainbow Dash is easily the crowning example of this: 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.
  • 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.
    • Spike's chapter deconstructs the Absentee Actor trope by having a justification: Spike didn't appear in most of the episodes during Season 2's tenure due to his horror of what happened during his birthday.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Most of the Canterlot ponies don't even know the Mane Six even after they stood up to Nightmare Moon and Discord, mainly because those threats only really popped up in Ponyville before being suppressed. A select few such as Soarin' and Fancypants, on the other hand, fully acknowledge them and their efforts.
  • 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.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Subverted; during the reception, Twilight tells everyone who walked out on her that she doesn't feel they betrayed her trust, even though they feel they had. Then, on the train ride home, she admits she lied and calls them out on what they did to her.
  • Everyone Has Standards: According to Fancypants, even Jet Set and Upper Crust find Prince Blueblood to be a pompous jerk.
  • Fix Fic: The author admits feeling that the whole "Twilight getting dismissed" subplot in the season 2 finale deserved a lot more than a simple apology from Applejack for closure.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Most of Shining Armor's chapter 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.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Twilight smacks Shining Armor in the face when he starts ranting about how poor of a brother, guard captain, and potential husband he's been. In a way, she also did this towards everyone else.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: Fluttershy doesn't understand why a sadistic and cruel being like Discord could exist. Of course this was written before Season 3.
  • 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.
    • When the rest of the Mane Six are apologizing to Twilight for shunning her, they're so upset and angry with themselves that they believe they haven't been good friends at all to her during the time that they had known her. They cite several incidents where they're right like the Ticket incident, when they brushed off Twilight's breakdown in Lesson Zero, and when Applejack and Rarity kept fighting during Twilight's first-ever sleepover. However, they completely ignore the stuff where they have been good friends to her, and also begin to blame themselves for things they had nothing to do with (Like Discord brainwashing and corrupting all of them, despite the fact that he was too powerful, he had broken Twilight, too, and the only reason that they were able to win was because Celestia managed to restore her student's faith). Twi's quick to call them out on this, but it doesn't make them feel any less guilty.
    • 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 Captain, brother, and a potential husband for letting Chrysalis fool him, and even considers canceling the wedding altogether because of it.
    • Twilight hides how angry she really is 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. The whole thing had also made her question whether or not if her friends have faith in her.
  • 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.
    • The stories go with the interpretation that the reason Twilight's breakdown in "Lesson Zero" happened was because it was a week after Discord was defeated and she was still recovering from all the horrible things he had done to her. It was also why Princess Celestia had let her student off the hook so easily for the Smartypants Incident.
  • Heartbreak and Ice Cream: Pinkie may deny it, but Luna deduces that her cake binge during the wedding reception is motivated by her lingering guilt.
  • Heel Realization: Discussed; Iron Will tells Fluttershy he started his assertiveness seminar to keep others from being bullied like he was in his youth. Since the events of "Putting Your Hoof Down", he has discovered that his seminar turned not only Fluttershy, but all of his customers into the same kind of bullies he tried protecting them from.
  • Heroic BSOD: All the focal characters find themselves in the middle of one in the beginning of the story. The rest of the series is about how each of them gets out of it and deals with the repercussions.
  • 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.
  • I Can't Dance: Rainbow Dash jokes that she's an even worse dancer than Twilight.
  • Jerkass Realization: Celestia, Shining Armor, Spike, and the mane Six were already hit with this hard in the canon episode, but we don't see much of that due to time constraints, other than Applejack apologizing for everyone. This fanfic takes it Up to Eleven, with everyone really beating themselves up over how badly they had broken Twilight's heart.
    • Both Applejack and Rainbow Dash recall how they 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, to the point where she actually wanted Twilight to yell at her and the others for betraying her, because she originally argued Twilight needed to earn back their respect after what she did during the rehearsal.
    • Rarity has another 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.
    • Spike's is so big that he absolutely refuses to even be in the same room as her, and it's not until the sequel that he even finds the strength to talk about his guilt with her
    • Shining Armor's chapter shows Twilight having her own Jerkass Realization when, after stewing over her friends not listening to her, it dawns on her that she should've gathered evidence of the fake Cadance's behavior or spoken with Celestia before throwing accusations, even though there was no way for her to gather any in this case.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: 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.
  • 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:
    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.
  • 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, when the latter asks how the Changeling Queen managed to fool the former.
  • 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. Whereas Applejack simply apologizes on her friends' behalf for not listening to Twilight about the impostor Princess Cadance in the show, all of Twilight's friends in this story, including her brother and mentor, are completely wracked with guilt not just for brushing her suspicions aside, but outright deserting her when Twilight drove the impostor off in (crocodile) tears with her accusations. Twilight is similarly mortified by her own outburst rather than just calmly forgiving her friends, as she fears they never would have forgiven her if she were wrong.
  • My Greatest Failure: The wedding rehearsal incident is this for everyone involved: Twilight's friends for abandoning Twilight, which led to Equestria almost being destroyed, and Twilight for making a complete fool of herself.
    • 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 five days in the caves beneath Canterlot, and that the city was very nearly invaded, due to their negligence.
  • Nightmare Sequence: 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.
  • 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 Cadance—they assumed that her complaints about "Cadance" not acting the way Twilight remembered was just Twilight trying too hard to relive her nostalgic memories.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Applejack becomes a nasty victim of this in her chapter, 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".
    • There's also the moment where Cadence asks Applejack to play the fiddle for the reception. When the cowpony tries to decline, the princess insists, stating that she wanted to know about Twilight's other family, and threw in that Applejack had made Twilight an honorary Apple. As one commenter put it, "With Applejack's devotion to family, that has GOT to twist that knife."
    • 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.
  • Sequel Hook: By the end of the story, Pinkie, Spike, and Scootaloo still have familial issues that need taking care of.
  • Ship Sinking: Rarity only dances with Fancypants, as shown in the canon episode, 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.
  • 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).
  • Tears of Remorse: Quite abundant as everyone is still angsting over how they acted during the wedding rehearsal.
  • There Are No Therapists: Completely averted. Pinkie Pie recalls that after she and the rest of the bearers had defeated Discord for good, Celestia had them all see trauma therapists, because after everyone was returned to normal, it was like waking up from a bad dream. To the Bearers, however, the effects from his brainwashing still lingered, since they were Discorded directly.
  • 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.
  • WAFF: Post Nuptials, apart from calling out the main characters for not believing Twilight about the fake Cadance in "A Canterlot Wedding", does what many anti-ACW Hate Fics do not: focus solely on Twilight reconciling with her friends after suffering their biggest falling out so far.
  • What an Idiot: In-Universe, the characters lampshade how idiotic their actions in the canon episode were. The fact that the Changeling Queen called Twilight's friends out on what they did in the actual episode probably didn't help.
    • Twilight admits she should've gathered evidence, or spoke in private with Princess Celestia, about her concerns before throwing out accusations.
    • Celestia more or less beats herself up over being so inattentive; she admits sensing something was off with Cadence's magic to Luna, she recalls that the real Cadence had never treated anypony poorly during major tasks, even when she was stressed, and then Celestia states that since she had taught Twilight personally, she should have known that the unicorn would know the difference between a brainwashing spell and one to cure headaches.
    • It's mentioned that the guards were also beating themselves up over not noticing what was clear in hindsight.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Subverted at the start, 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. Double subverted on the train ride home when Twilight does call her friends out on not only for ditching her for somepony they had just met, but for somepony who had been mean to them the entire time.
    • Twilight gives a guilty 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.

    Metamorphosis / Honeymoon / Outrage 
  • 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, turns (sort of) good.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Complete Immortality: Celestia and Luna are the only immortal ponies due to Discord's magic.
  • 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.
  • Darker and Edgier: Metamorphosis compared to the rest of the series, by admission from the author.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • The Dragon: Chrysalis is revealed as one to Discord.
  • Driven to Suicide: Metamorphosis shows Celestia and Luna tried killing themselves after Discord murdered their entire family and forced them to watch. He made them immortal before they could.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Chrysalis anticipates this reaction from Discord when she plots against him right behind his back.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: 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.
  • 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.
  • Fantastic Racism: Queen Chrysalis once harbored these feelings against unicorns and earth ponies back when she was an ordinary pegasus.
  • Flashback Nightmare: Honeymoon opens with Cadance having a nightmare of when she was kidnapped by Queen Chrysalis.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mama Bear: Velvet doesn't hesitate to chew out Applejack and Luna (and by extension, the rest of the Mane Six and Celestia) for how they treated Twilight. Twilight and Night Light have to work very hard to calm her down and get her to let everything go.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: 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.
  • 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.
  • Punched Across the Room: Applejack does this to Velvet in retaliation for the latter assaulting and insulting her.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Back when she was a pegasus, Chrysalis betrayed her own kind to help Discord rule and gain power for herself. She was rewarded with being transformed into her current hideous form, stripped clean of her pride as a soldier by becoming Discord's slave, and spending the rest of her life fearing a Fate Worse Than Death should she ever betray her new master, which she does.
  • Sequel Hook: Metamorphosis closes with Chrysalis swearing revenge on Twilight, Shining Armor, and Cadance.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Metamorphosis subverts 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.
  • Start of Darkness: Metamorphosis is one for Chrysalis; she was originally one of Commander Hurricane's chief lieutenants, but her refusal to make peace with the other tribes and personal thirst for power led to her being kicked out. She then made a deal with Discord to gain great power, which he twisted to make her the first Changeling and his right-hand mare. She and the Changelings were sealed with him when the Princesses defeated him, and then kept sealed by him upon his release in "The Return of Harmony: Part 1" to be set free as a backup plan in case he was defeated again. Of course, Chrysalis has no intention of continuing to serve him.
  • 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.
  • The Tease: Princess Cadance 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...
  • Villain Episode: Metamorphosis focuses on Queen Chrysalis and Discord.
  • 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.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Celestia and Luna undergo this since Discord makes them immortal after killing all their blood relatives, leaving them with no one but each other to keep company. Imagine how much worse this became for Celestia after banishing her sister for a thousand years.

  • 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.
  • Akashic Records: 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.
  • The Alcoholic: Word of God says Scootaloo's mother Quick Delivery is this.
  • Ancient Keeper: The Keeper, an alicorn who records the lives of every living creature, who Twilight meets 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..
  • Arc Words: Scootaloo's story arc has this recurring exchange with 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: 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?"
    • After the Mane Six saves Spike from the dragons, Twilight and Spike finally manage to talk to each other back at the library. To get him to open up, Twilight asks how he felt about Twilight's outburst at the rehearsal. Spike admits that he was disappointed, but still loved her and wanted to reconcile with her. Twilight then asks why she wouldn't feel the same way after it was discovered Twilight was right about the fake Cadence.
  • The Atoner: Despite Twilight telling her friends not to in the previous story, Rainbow Dash becomes this by taking Scootaloo under her wing, 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.
  • Big Bad: Olive Branch. Turns out to be a Big Bad Wannabe, given how easily his plans fail.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Celestia responds to the news that the conspirators have kidnapped Twilight Sparkle to use as a bargaining chip with a burst of laughter. Cut to three of her captors running for their lives after Twilight blows up the device that should be restricting her magic.
  • 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 flank.
  • 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.
  • The Conspiracy: 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.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Pinkie's is hinted at in the previous story, but is fully revealed here. 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.
  • Darker and Edgier: 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.
  • Dark Fic: Not by choice, though. Some readers began demanding that the story be given a "dark" tag due to how brutal and realistic Speedy Delivery's abuse of Scootaloo is, and DarkLink was ultimately forced to comply.
  • Daydream Surprise: As a Running Gag, ordinary scenes suddenly turn bizarre, followed by somepony telling Pinkie to knock it off.
  • Deconstruction Fic: Families cranks the deconstruction from Post Nuptials 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.
  • Deus Angst Machina: Lampshaded by Rainbow Dash when the number of issues she and her friends have to deal with keeps piling up:
    Rainbow Dash: Oh for... When did we get all this drama in our lives?
  • Didn't Think This Through: Olive Branch's master plan for immortality. The first problem is that Celestia and Luna can't grant him immortality. It only goes downhill from there.
  • The Dragon: Speedy Delivery turns out to be Olive Branch's... and is much more of a threat.
  • 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 
  • Even Evil Has Standards: 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.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Olive Branch refuses to believe anyone with as much power as the Princesses is really as selfless as they appear, nor can he 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. It doesn't work, and only serves to shatter whatever credibility he had when he's shown to be alive afterward.
  • 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.
  • Flat "What.": Princess Luna, when Olive Branch reveals that he doesn't actually care how she and Celestia run Equestria.
  • Forceful Kiss: Soarin' starts his surprise 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.
  • Free-Range Children: 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.
  • Friendly Tickle Torture:
    • Rainbow Dash playfully tickles Scootaloo after one of their training sessions.
    • Twilight and Spike has several tickle fights when they were growing up in the castle.
  • 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.
  • 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 it's mostly fueled by the Canterlot ponies' Fantastic Racism against dragons. The Ponyvillians, on the other hand, aren't nearly this stupid.
  • Happily Adopted: Pinkie Pie with the Cakes, albeit unofficially. Spike by Twilight and Scootaloo by Rainbow Dash follow suit by the end of Families.
  • Honorary Uncle: Speedy refers to Olive Branch as Scootaloo's uncle, but Word of God says it's just honorary.
  • Hope Spot: At the end of the story, 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. Then Discord has her transported elsewhere to meet another "associate" in order to engineer his escape.
  • 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."
  • Hypocrisy Nod: At the beginning of the story, when Rarity tells Applejack she wants to help Twilight find ways not to overreact, she admits she isn't really much better in that area when the cowpony points it out. Unlike most examples, though, Rarity insists that it's more important for Twilight, since she's the team leader and that so they don't have a repeat of what had happened at the wedding.
    • A more Played for Drama example: When Applejack is trying to convince Twilight that she can be more open with her and the rest of the Mane 6, the cowpony outright admits that none of them proved their case much when Twilight had the breakdown that lead to the Smartypants Incident or at the wedding rehearsal.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Inverted. Rarity tells Twilight that while it was excessively violent, her maiming of Garble was necessary to keep Spike safe.
  • Immortality Seeker: The ultimate motivation for Olive Branch, who starts an entire movement against Princess Celestia's rule in an elaborate plot so he can get her to tell her the secret to immortality in private.
  • Insistent Terminology: Scootaloo's mother Quick Delivery insists she always call her "Mommy".
  • 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: Fluttershy has one when she learns that her "The Reason You Suck" Speech she gave Pinkie in "Putting Your Hoof Down", which she already feels bad enough about, reminded Pinkie of her parents' real reaction to her cutie mark.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Cerebus Syndrome doesn't really set in until Olive Branch shows up.
  • Laser-Guided Karma The ultimate fate of the villains. Olive Branch gets his in the form of a spell performed by Luna herself that subjects him to all the pain and torture that he has inflicted or ever will inflict onto others, directly or indirectly; Speedy and Quick, meanwhile, 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.
  • Mama Bear: Twilight, once she realizes that Spike sees her as his mother and begins thinking of herself as such. So, in case the aptly titled "Mama Ursa" chapter didn't give it away, 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 into Rapidash-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 Nuptialverse TV Tropes page within 24 hours, I have failed."
  • Manipulative Bastard: Olive Branch turns a significant portion of Canterlot's population against Celestia (for partially valid reasons) just so he can get her to spill the beans on how she and Luna became immortal so he can attain it for himself.
  • 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.
  • Mood Whiplash: Partway through the story, Scootaloo finally clears up her issues with her father, who's ready to turn over a new leaf and... Wait, why's he pinning Scootaloo's wing to the floor? And why is the head of the anti-Celestia tabloids there?!
  • 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.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: At the climax, Olive Branch combines this with Faking the Dead, courtesy of a special spell. When fired off, it announces that it's a failsafe set up in case Celestia had him silenced. This causes his followers to start rioting.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Pinkie's father Clyde had this reaction a week after she ran away, after remembering something his mother used to say.
  • Mythology Gag: The Keeper is based on Lauren Faust's Alicorn self-portrait.
    • The stories Pinkie's grandmother used to tell her are based on G1 episodes.
  • Never Live It Down: In-Universe:
    • Shining Armor's started calling his sister "Twiley" when he caught her using Baby Talk with an infant Spike, right after she scolded him for treating Spike like a baby.
    • Used by both of Scootaloo's parents as part of their ongoing emotional and psychological abuse of their daughter.
    • Dash tells Scoots that her old nickname of "Rainbow Crash" came from how she choked while running through an obstacle course once.
  • Never My Fault: Speedy Delivery truly does not see himself as a horrible parent, and blames Princess Celestia and Rainbow Dash for butting in on how he raises his daughter.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Olive Branch's men manage to turn the situation in a complete 180 merely by telling Twilight that Spike will die. As Luna gloatingly tells him, 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: Throughout the story, 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: One of Garble's flunkies tosses Pinkie several miles away, only to turn around and see her standing in front of him again. He's dumbfounded.
    • 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 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, 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.
  • Parental Love Song: Twilight sings Spike a lullaby after officially becoming his "mother."
  • 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.
  • Pet the Dog: Olive Branch turns in Speedy Delivery for his abuse of Scootaloo. Not that it makes him a good pony; merely a better one than Speedy Delivery.
  • 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 where this happens is even named after this trope.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: When Twilight goes Mama Bear for Spike:
    Twilight: Get. Away. From. My. Son!
    • 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.
  • Royal Brat: The dragon king Dyne's son, Garble.
  • Running Gag: Far too many readers were theorizing that Changelings were still behind the conflict 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: Celestia is given one by Olive Branch, who has Rainbow Dash and Twilight abducted, planning to use their lives as leverage to force her 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.
    • Luna later gives one to Speedy and Quick Delivery: rot in jail forever for their crimes, or securing lighter sentences for themselves by signing Scootaloo up for adoption. They pick the latter.
  • Screaming Birth: According to Pinkie, Mrs. Cake was like this when birthing the twins. Aside from screaming "these funny words to Mr. Cake that [Pinkie's] not allowed to repeat", she also apparently grabbed a scalpel and used it on Mr. Cake and Nurse Redheart.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When an enraged Twilight easily breaks free of the Power Nullifier that Olive Branch's goons had used on her, she 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.
      Rainbow Dash: "I mean, seriously, who would think that was entertaining?"
  • 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: 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: Celestia tells all of Olive Branch's followers that they've caused more damage to her palace than Spike ever did the entire time he lived there after she exposes Olive Branch's lies to them.
  • Shipper on Deck: Pinkie seems to think that Applejack has an unrequited crush on Twilight. While the others don't really believe it, Rainbow Dash can't help but make fun of Applejack about it.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Pinkie's hilarious Imagine Spots come to an end right before Scootaloo and her father's relationship begins to boil.
  • Shout-Out: To Dinosaurs. The first thing Spike does upon meeting Shining Armor? Shout "Not The Mama!" and hit him with a frying pan. At least, that's how it happens in Pinkie's daydream.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Twilight plays chess with Pinkie's sister Blinkie.
  • Smug Snake: Olive Branch. The point is especially driven home when, during his negotiations with the Princesses, he reveals he's had Twilight kidnapped, only for Celestia to laugh in his face and explain exactly why he's going to fail. He falls apart at that, as he desperately grasps at straws for leverage. However, he successfully grasped a straw and managed to get the crowd of Canterlot citizens convinced that Celestia killed him and cause a riot. And even that straw breaks, as Luna easily restrains said riot, while Celestia captures him before he can escape.
  • 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, but when Twilight and Shining Armor come under fire, she fabricates some details to shift the blame onto herself and protect them.
  • They Do: After much Ship Teasing in the original story, the sequel has Soarin' and Rainbow Dash finally get together after a surprise visit by Soarin'. Unfortunately, one of their first activities as a couple is having dinner with Scootaloo's parents.
  • Third Line, Some Waiting: Pinkie's story arc 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, 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.
    • This is how Speedy Delivery conveys his displeasure towards Scootaloo's decision to rebel against him.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Olive Branch does this with Twilight; she easily overpowers the anti-magic horn ring placed on her by his conspirators, quickly defeating them.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Olive Branch and his team of tabloid writers/anti-Celestia conspirators, at least in Canterlot.
  • 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.
  • Villainous Legacy: Everything wrong in this story is more or less related to the emotional fallout caused by Queen Chrysalis' invasion, from the emotional strain on Twilight's friendships to her friends' guilt 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?: Scootaloo is outright disgusted with Spike when he keeps making excuses to avoid talking to Twilight about his guilt.
  • 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.
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: Speedy Delivery responds this way after pinning Scootaloo's wing to the floor with his hoof for trying to rebel.

  • Abusive Parents: Trixie's parents emotionally abused her (thankfully not to the extent of Scootaloo's), by pushing her to be the best, scolding her whenever she was less than perfect, and eventually driving her away.
  • Acceptable Breaks from Canon: The story manages to work in elements of Season 3 and even Equestria Girls that fit with the established plot while ignoring everything else. Darth Link has even posted a journal entry explaining the differences between season 3 and the fic's universe.
  • Action Girl: Applejack and Rainbow Dash, of course, but Rarity proves herself more than capable as well.
  • Alternate Universe: This is the first story clearly categorized as one due to season 3 playing out differently from the Nuptialverse's established continuity. As such, several episodes are tailored to fit this Fanon, some of which are based on What If? scenarios like, "What if Trixie wasn't redeemed at the end of 'Magic Duel'?"
  • Big "YES!": This, combined with Squee and Tears of Joy, is Twilight's reaction to being told she's ready for the Trials.
  • Break the Haughty: Olive Branch has been reduced to a shattered remnant of his former self, who's apparently on suicide watch.
  • The Brute: Red Hoof is pure muscle, and is easily able to match, and overpower, Applejack in a fight.
  • Call Back: Soarin' once again greets Rainbow Dash by grabbing her from behind and giving her a surprise kiss.
    • Pinkie Pie is still convinced that Applejack and Twilight are in denial about their true feelings for each other.
  • Canon Welding: The events of the G1 cartoon are revealed 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.
  • Continuity Nod: The "he's a dragon" pediatrician from "Secret of My Excess" shows up again. Rarity even says Twilight told her about him.
  • Curbstomp Cushion: Applejack is unable to get in any effective hits on Red Hoof due to his extremely dense musculature and unexpected speed, but a fortunately-placed pair of scissors allows her to momentarily escape his grip, and only her own hesitance to shed blood prevents her from pressing the advantage.
  • Deus Exit Machina: Twilight's Equestria Girls adventure is used as this.
  • Disc One Final Boss: Trixie is built up as a major threat in the first few chapters, but is defeated handedly well before the story is over.
  • Dramatic Irony: Trixie is putting together a team to deal with the Mane Six so that she can get revenge on Twilight, completely unaware of the fact that Twilight isn't even in Equestria.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: The first thing we see Lightning Dust doing is this, over getting kicked off the Wonderbolts. Which she blames on Rainbow Dash.
  • Easily Forgiven: While Trixie is still arrested, the fact that her worst crimes were done under the influence of the Amulet means that her punishment is reduced quite a bit.
  • Equine Shield: Trixie takes Sweetie Belle hostage during her attack.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Lightning Dust is a little disturbed at the depths of Trixie's hatred.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The pony and llama soldiers that the girls meet on their quest invoke this as a security precaution against Changeling infiltration, only giving the girls their rank titles, and nothing else.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: A flashback to Sunset Shimmer's foalhood reveals that Celestia had her look into a magic mirror that shows the viewer their deepest desires. For Sunset, it was becoming an alicorn and ruling solely over Equestria, and she seemed rather confused when this unsettled Celestia.
    • Celestia later discusses this trope with Fluttershy and explains it to her — truly evil beings deny seeing anything good in the world, being unable to grasp that others aren't as self-centered as they are.
    • Trixie seems unable to understand why Gilda doesn't immediately jump at the chance to get back at Rainbow Dash.
      • Later, she seems surprised when Rarity's reaction to her offering her a last request is to ask her to release Sweetie Belle and spare her the sight of watching her die, rather than begging for mercy.
  • Fatal Flaw: Applejack's stubborn pride in her work ethic and refusal to accept help comes up again, with Rainbow Dash calling her out on it.
  • For Want of a Nail: The idea is that "Magic Duel" happened, but with Trixie remaining corrupted.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: Sequel Escalation applied to the previous installment's Third Line, Some Waiting. The prologue sets up Queen Chrysalis engaging in an unknown plan on behalf of a resurgent Discord, potential tension over the unknown circumstances of Celestia obtaining Spike's egg, and Fancypants and Zecora of all people apparently up to shady business as well.... All of which is promptly ignored for several chapters (and over a year's worth of updates), as Twilight and Spike leave for another dimension in pursuit of the stolen Element of Magic, the remaining Mane 5 have to balance their everyday responsibilities with investigating Sunset Shimmer's break-in (under the shaky supposition that the villains of the last story were involved), Celestia grows obsessed with barely-remembered tales involving the human girl Megan, Rarity deals with Sweetie Belle suddenly falling ill, and a still-crazy Trixie runs around trying to put together a team of the Mane 6's old foes, to the point where it's not even clear what the plot is supposed to be. However, after the first arc ends with Trixie's Heel-Face Turn and her accomplices' escape, this is greatly trimmed away, with the plot threads resolved or relegated to the background in favor of an apparently straightforward quest.
  • Freudian Excuse: All of Trixie's issues are tied into how her parents treated her.
  • Guilt Complex: Despite the fact that Direction takes place a year after the events of the wedding and the last two main fanfics and that they had overcome most of their guilt, the Mane Five and Princess Celestia still feel pretty bad for not listening to Twilight about the fake Cadence. Rainbow even recalls how easily they could have lost the fight against the Changelings had it not been for the power boost from Cadence's and Shining Armor's love.
    • Rarity feels like Sweetie Belle almost getting killed by the corrupted Trixie was her fault because she knew the pediatritian was bad and should've taken her to a better doctor.
    • During a rest break in the jungle, Rarity and Applejack discuss how Princess Celestia took the Changeling Invasion much worse than they did; Applejack points out that at least she and the others felt good enough to show up at the wedding reception. She theorizes that whenever Celestia screws up, it's putting tons of ponies at risk, which is why she is under constant pressure.
  • Heel Realization: After being cured of the Alicorn Amulet's corruption, Trixie recognizes not only her actions under its influence, but many of those from before, as being awful. Enough that she collapses in tears once purified.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Rainbow Dash is convinced that they wouldn't have so close to losing to Trixie's group if Twilight had been there.
  • Heroic Willpower: With Twilight gone, Rarity is entrusted with learning the Changeling detection spell, just in case. And despite the fact that it's beyond the range of her normal magic skill and therefore painful, she still pushes herself to learn it.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Rainbow Dash might be a bit of a jerk about it as AJ continues to refuse to accept her points, but she's entirely right when calling Applejack out on her Pride.
  • 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 fled into the Everfree Forest where she's eluded capture since. Ultimately subverted, when she's purified of the Amulet's influence and lets herself be arrested.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Scootaloo stumbles into a mild one when the Crusaders end up separated in the abandoned castle — she ends up wandering a seemingly endless maze of identical hallways, only to realize something's wrong, and discovering that she's actually in an old dungeon cell with an illusion on it.
  • Meaningful Name: The pediatrician from "Secret of My Excess" chose the name "Malpractice''. Considering how inept he is, it fits perfectly, though he chose it himself.
  • Mythology Gag: Fluttershy briefly discusses with Celestia the possibility of some day reforming Discord, in reference to her role in doing so in canon (which never happened in the Nuptialverse).
    • Tiberius, Luna's pet possum from the micro-series comics, shows up.
    • The events of the first MLP series are mentioned multiple times.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After Trixie is drained of the Alicorn Amulet's influence, she's horrified at everything she did beforehand.
  • Never My Fault: Lightning Dust completely refuses to take responsibility for her own actions leading to her dismissal from the Wonderbolts.
    • After she is freed from the Amulet's influence, Trixie subverts this and accepts responsibility for her actions, which shows to Celestia that she's not as bad as she first seems.
    • Olive Branch, while mostly broken by his defeat in the previous story, still maintains enough ego to blame everyone else for his failures. Trixie calls him out on this, shutting him up.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: When the girls are informed that their quest will take them into an untamed jungle inhabited by wild animals that make timberwolves look tame, they're all understandably a little worried... except Fluttershy, who's thrilled at seeing things like giant snakes, flesh-eating fish, and ant swarms that can carry off a grown pony. Everyone else is a bit disturbed by her reaction.
  • Noodle Incident: We don't know exactly what Pinkie did during the attempted questioning with Rainbow Dash, but Rainbow thinks she may have crippled a stallion for life!
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Rainbow Dash tries to get Pinkie to use hers to get the group past the changelings guarding the temple, but Pinkie says she doesn't actually teleport, she's just really fast.
  • Put on a Bus: Twilight and Spike embark on a journey through the mirror, with the bulk of the story afterward focusing on their friends dealing with Twilight's absence.
  • Shaming the Mob: When Trixie is arrested, most of Ponyville shows up and tries to attack her in order to make her pay. Rarity responds by asking them all if this is what they think Twilight would want. This gets the crowd to disperse.
  • Shoo Outthe Clowns: Trixie turns Pinkie Pie to stone, which sets up the drama for her fight with the Mane Six.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When Trixie is put in a cell adjacent to Olive Branch, he tells Trixie that by trying to be The Atoner, she's pathetically letting herself be Celestia's pawn. Trixie ignores him and tells the guard watching them to do likewise, since riling them up would validate him. They ignore him, and he eventually shuts up.
  • Squee: Twilight's reaction to being told she's ready to take the Trials.
    • Luna's reaction to finding Tiberius.
  • A Storm Is Coming: One chapter, where Trixie is preparing to make her move against the Mane Six, uses a variant of this in its title.
  • Taken for Granite: When Trixie attacks, she turns Pinkie to stone. After her Heel Realization, she reverses the process.
  • Tickle Torture: After Rainbow Dash sternly gives her punishment to Scootaloo for her and her friends going into the Everfree forest, the older pegasus breaks the tension by tickling her charge as "another part of her punishment".
  • Uncanny Valley: In-universe, everyone is disturbed by Red Hoof's constant stoicism, even in the heat of battle.
  • Unfortunate Names: Meet Dr. Malpractice the pediatrician. He actually chose the name himself!
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: Lightning Dust and Red Hoof flee when the Royal Guards show up to arrest them, leaving the emotionally broken Trixie behind.
  • Villain Team-Up: Trixie recruits Lightning Dust to help her get revenge on Twilight by promising a chance of payback against Rainbow Dash. She also tries to recruit Gilda, who isn't buying (at least for the moment).
  • Virtue Is Weakness: After bring freed from the Alicorn Amulet, Trixie's cellmate Olive Branch laughs at the idea that she would feel genuine remorse.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Luna apparently caught some flak from Celestia for how she punished Olive Branch at the end of Families.
    • Sweetie Belle isn't happy with the other Crusaders for going to the old castle, even after she pointed out how dangerous it was, leading to them getting separated and mildly hurt.
    • Rainbow Dash calls out Applejack on stubbornly refusing any help on the farm, even when it causes financial problems, and especially now when it's getting in the way of their investigation.
    • Granny Smith eventually calls out both Applejack and Rainbow Dash for being so stubborn and prideful that it leads to conflict between them.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The Alicorn Amulet gave Trixie greater power but left her insane. After its residual magic is drained, her sanity is restored.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Trixie turns Sweetie Belle into a mind-controlled puppet (the process of it happening making her very sick), so that she can use her as a shield during her attack on the Mane Six.

Alternative Title(s):

Post Nuptials, Families