Fan Fic / Triptych Continuum

My Little Pony: reality ensues.

The Triptych Continuum is a series of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Fan Fic stories and shorts taking place within the same setting, written by Estee.

What partially distinguishes the group is that unlike several Alternate Universe Fics, this one visibly follows the continuity established by the first three seasons, having every single event seen on the show through that point actually happen. But at the same time, it occasionally tries to look somewhat deeper into the consequences of those events. There's some emphasis on worldbuilding the environment, the ways magic works (and doesn't) in Equestria, and how the characters have changed over time. There's also a degree of local vocabulary, hints at what appears to be an alternate history for the Princesses and, beginning with the main story, a full divergence into its own timeline.

Triptych is the central work of the setting, starting three weeks after Twilight's transformation. It initially centers around her personal aftermath from the change while sending the Mane Cast on a new mission - one launched by Discord. Without being told what it is, where they're going, or anything about why.

A Mark of Appeal is another story within the setting, focusing on Celestia and Luna. It deals with the ramifications of what happens when a pony possesses a cutie mark which she no longer wants, as the talent turns out to be actively detrimental to her — because it's gone fully out of that pony's control.

The various other shorts can be found on the Author page, located here. A number of them are meant to expand on ideas presented in the main work and have been described by the author as "things which were going on in the background while you weren't looking."

It's still Equestria, and it's not necessarily dark - but there are times when the shadows get a little deeper.

This Link is the timeline of the series as it stands so far. It's an updated version of this outdated blog on the series connected story continuum.

The author is also responsible for Tales Of The Canterlot Deportation Agency, which is a separate continuity — although the rules of magic are the same, and backstories for characters appearing in both are shared.


Tropes generally present in the Triptych Continuum:

  • Adaptational Badass: In canon, earth pony magic is a fairly nebulous and innocuous-seeming set of talents, generally defined as "enhanced strength, enhanced stamina, able to grow things better". In the Triptych Continuum, as revealed in the main story, they get bumped-up to having full-fledged Elemental Powers.
  • Adorkable: Twilight at times, especially when magic or research get involved. Her first reaction to Rarity's eye color being changed (along with everything else) in Orange Is The New Blue is to ask her if she's perceiving the world any differently, note how different eye hues receive light in different ways, and start planning out a comprehensive series of tests so they can mutually create a comparison chart. (Also counts as a Call Back to Chapter 11 in Triptych, where she launches a similar lecture as self-defense against inquiring bar patrons.)
  • Alternative Number System: Averted: Equestria uses Base Ten. Neither Celestia nor Luna have any idea why.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: Each major pony race has a sense for the detection of magic called feel, the quality of which varies by the individual (although some ponies can improve with practice). However, in reality, this actually works out to be three separate senses, as a pony can only pick up on the workings of their own race. Twilight's feel for unicorn magic is fairly acute, while Pinkie hardly ever registers even the strongest earth pony traces. The Princesses are presumed to possess all three versions. She also has all three — but only one at a time, and she doesn't know how to interpret some of the information, leading to a degree of synesthesia.
    • And then we find out that pegasus vision goes partway into both the infrared and electromagnetic: they can see heat and judge the level of ion charges in clouds. Some unexplained mechanism lets them view humidity as twinkles in the air.
  • Breakout Character: Sizzler, the palace's master of the meat station, has broken out of his own continuity. Two other authors are currently using him, which includes an upcoming appearance in a different series.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Averted. Sapient meat-eaters remain exactly that — but the Treaty Of Menagerie restricts their diet, agreeing that none will take their meals from any who talk or think. (In Naked Lunch, a sarcastic Luna notes those states are often mutually exclusive.) One palace kitchen actually has a meat station, allowing visitors to be served proper meals, and The Red List tells those arrivals about the five — and then six — other places in Canterlot where they can find food — two of which are pet shops. The majority of what's used for meat comes from the non-sapient monster species: if it's trying to kill you and can't discuss the reason why, go right ahead and return the favor.
  • Cast From Hitpoints: Using magic burns energy just like any other physical or mental activity. And many of the things ponies do uses magic. It's easy for a pony to accidentally work themselves into exhaustion this way.
  • Cast from Lifespan: Any pony is capable of putting the last of themselves into their magic, trading their existence for a closing surge of strength: this applies to all three categories of racial castings and talents. It's a very rare event and can generally only be done when the need is a true one — but it happens.
  • Character Development: this story establishes what Pinkie and Applejack were like about a decade ago, and allows readers to see the ways their personalities have changed.
  • Crap Saccharine World: This version of Equestria may look shiny and colorful like in the show, but there's a lot of Grim Dark aspects hidden under the brightness. Pony civilisation amounts to bubbles of safety in the midst of vast, monster-infested wilderness, and travelling between towns is a potentially lethal journey. Furthermore, such civilized zones will die out despite all the efforts of their residents should the Earth Ponies leave, as ponies depend on "the Cornucopia Effect" to have enough readily accessible food to support themselves. Despite the Windigos historically forcing the three tribes to make peace, there's still a strong undercurrent of anti-tribalist beliefs in modern Equestria — ironically, mostly from the Earth Ponies, or so it seems. There's no form of libel laws established, so the local journalistic efforts are the worst sorts of muck-raking screed one can imagine. And that's really just scratching the surface.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Twilight, generally when tired or especially upset. She's composed internal letters to Princess Celestia which will never see a scroll, attempted to mock-suffocate herself with a pillow rather than continue to deal with Rainbow Dash's insomnia, and offered to prove the reality of an approaching solar eclipse to a disbelieving griffon astronomy professor by having the Princesses send him to the Moon.
    "Then all you have to do is look down. If you can see Ponyville, I win."
    • Can also apply to Luna, particularly when she's been irritated by somepony else's stupidity. A number of hers wind up being vocalized.
    "Incidentally, if I could enthrall ponies and make them do whatever I wished, a number of you would be asking much more intelligent questions..."
  • Devil's Advocate: A very few ponies believe that the Murdocks Press Corps is trying to act as this: loyal to the Diarchy, but purposely arguing against them just to provide another point of view while making them buckle down on their own efforts. The reality is that the Corps are the press voice for Equestria's version of the Loyal Opposition. Whatever the Princesses do is wrong — and those few events which can't be interpreted or misspun that way are simply ignored.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: A skilled earth pony can physically manipulate earth and stone to various degrees depending on power. Her was capable of creating a canyon single-hoofedly, but working in tandem, regular earth ponies are implied to be capable of doing everything from causing earthquakes to leveling — or raising! — mountains.
  • Diurnal Nocturnal Animal : Partially averted. Luna and Celestia are described as being locked into night and day, but there's a degree of natural overlap to their normal waking hours and either one can freely operate during the other's time. However, they're both slightly weaker during those "wrong" hours, and too much time spent under the wrong celestial body serves as an escalating irritant: Luna becomes increasingly jittery, Celestia's teeth go on edge. When combined with the loss of sleep from a schedule flip, either sister operating in the wrong part of the day/night cycle for a week or more can become a bomb looking for a place to go off.
  • Environmental Symbolism: A mild case in the Solar and Lunar Courtyards, used by each of the Diarchy for their press conference areas. The Lunar is perpetually under an illusionary full moon during the night (the largest, closest one in Equestria's history) and, following the events of A Total Eclipse Of The Fun, a total solar eclipse during the day. (Prior to that, it was a daylight moon, an artifact from Discord's era which Celestia tried out every forty years or so, mostly from boredom.) The Solar Courtyard has perpetual dawnlight during all hours under Sun — but at night, it's a midnight sun: position-locked overhead, slightly grey. The temperature is forever off and the place just feels uncomfortable (and sometimes worse): resonance from a thousand years of regret.
  • Fantastic Drug: So far, there's been two, both illegal. The plant-based Exam Crystal makes a pony more awake than they've ever been in their lives, but the duration is unreliable and there's a choice of two random afteraffects: either become about 30% more tired than you were before taking it, or pass out until every bit of rest missed has been made up for — even if that means days in a hospital bed. Users have their irises turn yellow until the Crystal wears off.
    • Chemical-herbal Booster Drugs are available for unicorns and pegasi, providing one of the only ways to increase field strength — temporarily: most mixes last about fifteen minutes. Boosts range from five to fifty percent of the user's original power, and the higher the percentage, the more strain the pony is putting on their body: post-dose death caused by the most potent mixes can and does occur. Most versions have visible side effects, no race can take a drug meant for another without getting sick, and no mixes are known which work for earth ponies.
  • Fantastic Measurement System: To measure unicorn magical capability, with the Celestia Meter (Adjusted) for raw power and the Luna Meter (Adjusted) for manipulative ability. Basically, strength and dexterity for horns. Both range from 0 (nonexistent) to 10 (alicorn).
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: There are hints of this in the Celestia/Luna relationship, with Celestia as the Beautiful Sister and Luna as the Smart Sister. Knowledge of tickling spots is highly prized.
  • Green Thumb: An aspect of this is recognized as earth pony magic, here called the Cornucopia Effect. Basically, wherever earth ponies work the land, it will begin to respond, even if the environment says it shouldn't. With sufficient effort and pegasi occasionally lending a wing with climate control, any kind of crop can be raised in any soil, allowing a group of determined earth ponies to get an apple orchard going in the desert. Teams can work together to accelerate plant growth, and a few specialists can reverse it to raise bonsai. Better yet, get enough earth ponies together in an area and the soil fertility radius will slowly radiate out beyond their immediate territory, allowing even unicorns and pegasi to create gardens and raise small crops. However, if the earth ponies all leave, the Effect will gradually fade out. (It's been directly said that Ponyville would have two years before full reversion.) And without them, the other two major pony races are limited to what the land will provide on its own.
  • Hairstyle Malfunction: If Celestia or Luna become completely exhausted, their manes and tails will temporarily lose their inherent magic and collapse back into normal hair. (They can also trigger that degree of reversion deliberately by dampening a portion of their power, which requires considerable effort.) In Luna's case, that means light blue strands. With Celestia, the camera quickly points away, and the few ponies who have seen it in the current generation have been given a Death Glare which silently orders them to Never Speak Of This Again.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Murdocks, the leader of the press voice for the Loyal Opposition in Equestria. (It's generally recommended not to think too much about where being Loyally Opposed to the Princesses would put somepony's belief system.) He always sends representatives to speak for him in public and hides from all inquiries. Those outside the Corps are stuck with assumptions on how old he is, which pony race he belongs to (should he be a pony at all), or if 'he' is even the right pronoun. Celestia knows all three facts, but has never seen his face. Chapter 20 in Triptych pretty much directly states that his employees are under orders to never discuss anything about him: one reporter starts to freak out when the questions begin coming the other way.
  • Height Angst: Celestia hates how much bigger she is than most ponies. She was somewhat taller than average before her own ascension, and then found her height and mass gradually increasing over the next one hundred and forty years, with her begging for it to stop already all the while. Aside from any long conversation leading to neck strain in both parties, there are also multiple purely logistical concerns arising from an entire society built underscale, not to mention how hard it can be just to keep from looming. It's reached the point where she considered legally mandating that all buildings be designed to accommodate her. She hasn't actually done so, but she's considered it — several times.
  • Heroic Mime: Snowflake, usually. He's described as being rather intelligent and his thoughts are expressive, but with the exception of one short story, the only thing he's ever said on-camera are various intonations on "Yeah." (Ironically, the first full multi-word sentence out of his mouth is used to protest Fluttershy not having allowing him to speak with Caramel.)
    • Broken, possibly once and for all, in Scootalift. Snowflake can speak normally: he's just not comfortable with talking to most ponies. The majority of his exclamations are bluster designed to keep him from having to say anything else.
  • Homosexual Reproduction: Made possible by a working known as The Most Special Spell. (A Mark Of Appeal reveals that castings are available free to married couples who request it from the government.) However, it only works on pony mares and the child will always be a filly: stallion partners are typically stuck with adoption or finding a surrogate, and any mare pairing wishing a colt in the family will generally have to adopt. Word Of Fanfic Author suggests that multiple centuries of this spell's use may have pushed Equestria to a mare majority.
    • It's also noted that there's a mandatory health screening before the spell can be cast. Ponies don't recognize DNA or have a full grasp on genetics, but they do realize some conditions are "in the blood" and more likely to manifest in the children of a female/female pairing.
  • Jerkass: Flitter, self-justified. She believes ponies blind themselves with complacency and sees it as her job to jolt them into seeing reality through making direct, rude, and what she sees as highly accurate commentary, cutting through the fog just long enough to give her target a chance at escaping the illusions. After all, dragonflies startle ponies...
  • Like Brother and Sister: The Spike/Twilight relationship: each regards the other as their sibling. Unfortunately for Spike, this includes Twilight's right to automatically dismiss many of his comments because they're coming from her little brother.
  • Logical Weakness: Unicorn horns typically can't be covered by anything more than the hair of a mane or the field can't be projected: devices called restraints can be placed over the horn to prevent all castings. (These are typically metal or heavy wood: it's noted that except for the weakest cases, covering a horn in mud or cloth just annoys the unicorn. And since horns are effectively unbreakable and don't conduct impact well, weak restraints are just rammed against something more solid until they're ruined.) Pegasi are unable to use their own magic if they're fully immobilized, and full-body restraints called freezers exist to hold criminal ones. The means of stopping an earth pony is currently unknown: Rainbow's theory is that their magic may require direct contact with the land.
  • Magic Misfire: Touching a unicorn's horn (generally meaning sharp, hard contact) while they are casting will result in backlash due to the magic field being disrupted and striking back against the caster. Depending on how much effort they're putting into their current spell, the effects can range from a blackout with a few sprains over their body (Stage 1), to severe injuries, up to and including broken bones (Stage 2), to instant death by implied grevious bodily harm (stage 3). (There's also a Stage 0, which applies to everyday manipulations and very minor spells: disrupting that usually just drops things on the floor.) These are general guidelines: the degree of backlash can also depend partially on the caster's total strength, with weaker ones experiencing milder effects. However, a Stage 3, which can only happen when a unicorn's horn is displaying a triple corona, will always be fatal.
  • Monstrous Cannibalism: Griffons are not only primarily carnivorous, but for cultural reasons, prefer to eat only meat from "worthy" creatures, which they define as anything that can put up a decent fight against a griffon. This is part of the reason why most of their meat comes from non-sapient monsters, with the few non-monstrous species considered worthy of eating including shark.
  • Nervous Wreck: Unsurprisingly, the Flower Trio, who can always find a reason to freak out. It gets a bit worse in this continuity, as ponies can occasionally lapse into a strong herd mentality. The Trio has been known to go around Ponyville explaining to everypony else just why the population should be frightened — which can set those ponies off, who then go out and trigger still more ponies and before you know it, the entire town is approaching full-scale panic.
  • Polyamory: Said to be legal in Equestria, but every party involved in the relationship must consent to the inclusion of every other. Given that, the category of marriage is so rare as to barely exist.
  • Power Incontinence: Luna, as per usual when angry or especially emotional, generally manifesting as thunder, distant lightning strikes, and eyes fading to white, with occasional manifestations of ice on whatever she's touching. However, Celestia has also been seen to set off clouds during a moment of intense emotion and at one point during Triptych, the furious Princess radiated enough heat to degrade marble.
  • Power Source: Gems serve as one for Spike: the amount of flame he can generate is directly dependent on how many he's recently consumed. Different kinds of gems can also have other effects on his body: yellow diamonds are a coffee-level stimulant, while too many garnets leads to drowsiness, and a badly-prepared topaz fritter will make him molt.
  • Power Strain Blackout: Can happen to any unicorn who overexerts herself. Twilight had nine of them while in school. Rarity manages the feat in Chapter 5 of Triptych after going to the full triple corona.
    • Now applies to pegasi as well: If Rainbow Dash Can't Sleep shows a deliberate invocation of the issue — one intended as an insomnia cure.
  • Primal Fear: Ponies are instinctively revolted by the smell and sight of meat, cooked or otherwise.
  • Precursor Heroes: A Total Eclipse Of The Fun gradually reveals that Celestia and Luna were originally part of another sextet. Hints in the other stories seem to indicate Star Swirl was also a member of that group.
  • Properly Paranoid: All of Ponyville, every time the Crusaders are seen together. The trio doesn't understand why the adults would ever have that kind of reaction.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Griffons' hat, to the point that they refuse to eat prey that isn't suitably aggressive or dangerous. The nastier the animal was in life, the more prized its meat is. Shark is one of their most prized delicacies.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Said to be the case with many marks. Even something as mundane as the Cakes' enhanced ability to bake comes with little side benefits such as being able to gauge the exact degree of oven temperature just by letting the heat wash over them for a second. Battle marks are noted as including enhanced intuition and potential capacity for pulling an Indy Ploy. In general, the effects are minor and don't have a lot of overt magic attached - but magic is exactly what they are.
  • Schizo Tech: Partially averted: Word Of Fanfic Author is that Equestria is mostly around a magic-enhanced 1940s, with some gaps — particularly in communications — and a few spell-boosted exceptions. Many devices and conveniences are commonly available, although testing first-generation new products is a habit for the bold. Other things are more towards pure science: film works chemically. A few seem to have made a transition: invisible ink was originally the result of a spell (and one of Star Swirl's at that), but was eventually brought to the point of a chemical reaction — although the spell version still exists, with Luna launching a major casting of the Revealer aspect in Luna's Lottery Lunacy.
  • The Sleepless: Fluttershy comes close, averaging a little less than three hours per night. This may be an aspect of her talent: as she needs to take care of her nocturnals, she has to be fully awake and alert when they are. Or it could be something else.
  • Strawman News Media: This is a universe where Gabby Gums would be a typical reporter and libel laws have not yet been drafted. The worst offenders are the news corps owned by the shadowy Murdocks, but all kinds of paparazzi become endemic to Ponyville after Twilight's coronation: being the only Princess who basically lives in the open among the general public makes her extra vulnerable.
    • The pro-diarchy press, as introduced in Naked Lunch, engage in a similar amount of fact-checking (that is to say, none).
  • Teleporter Accident: In this continuity, arrival from between pushes aside air, displaces moderate volumes of liquid (which is uncomfortable), and can break any exceptionally thin or fragile solid. Anything presenting more resistance than that will displace the arriving party in a random direction (although never down) until they find enough open room to appear in. And the further a pony goes to find that space, the faster the momentum of that displacement gets. It's called recoil, and it's the reason arrival points have to be kept clear. Only a desperate pony will try to teleport to a place she can't directly see or doesn't have memorized. If you're lucky, you just get jarred a bit. If you're not, ponies could die.
    • Even Princesses are vulnerable: in A Mark Of Appeal, Celestia and Luna choose the same arrival point in a train car, head for it at the same moment... and Luna winds up sliding down a wall while Celestia hits the ceiling, quickly followed by the floor.
  • Unconventional Formatting: Most of the magical terminology consists of normal words which are italicized to distinguish them from their usual meanings. And then there's the Other.
  • Vegetarian Carnivore: Naked Lunch notes that griffons are technically omnivores, but at least ninety percent of their diet is meat — and there's a cultural perception that voluntarily consuming too many plants lowers oneself to the status of prey. That rule is a little looser for those ponies of the Republic who think of themselves as griffons — but they can wind up being looked upon with pity or worse, and are reluctant to eat in public. More than a little of their cuisine is an elaborate game of Hide The Vegetables.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Rarity, to the point where even the other Bearers have concluded she created it from whole linguistic cloth.
  • Willfully Weak: Earth ponies keep their ability to manipulate the physical earth around them a secret from all other races, out of paranoia about what the other pony tribes will do if they learn they have such abilities. Some of Applejack's words and thoughts in Chapters 6 & 15 suggest fillies and colts are taught at an early age that if they ever tell, they might be killed — or at least that it's happened to other ponies in the past.


Tropes present in the side shorts:

  • Answer Cut: A Total Eclipse Of The Fun goes with this one:
    Trial run... it still felt like unveiling a masterpiece before the official gallery opening. But really, what harm could it do?
    (scene change)
    The sisters looked over the wreckage in the Lunar Courtyard.
    • Also hits in Chapter 4 of the same story, when Luna asks what the problem would be with having Twilight Sparkle write the one-sheet educational briefing on eclipses for distribution to the general public. One location switch later, she gets her migraine-inducing answer. Which included quantum.
  • Arc Words: The Hypocrisy of Tolerance: Again. Always.
  • Asshole Victim: The unicorn noble in Mechanical Aptitude is an entitled bigoted jerk who is completely dismissive of Ratchette's abilities because she's a pegasus and ignores her when she tries to warn him that his new Minder is transmitting his secrets to the Flim Flam brothers for future blackmailing purposes. The other ponies she reveals this to tell Ratchette to just let the jerk suffer the consequences.
    • Likewise, Cartier Anserini, the unicorn avian paleobiologist from Goosed, who only knows about the Crystal Geese from his studies and immediately thinks of them as beautiful, magnificent creatures. He's amazingly contemptuous towards the plight of the ponies actually having to put up with the noisy, foul-tempered, rampantly defecating bastard things, to the point of callously suggesting that they should all be evicted from Ponyville so it can become a goose sanctuary. Needlessly to say, the Bearers and the rest of Ponyville are quite content to leave him to be mauled when he gets too close to his "wonderful" geese.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: Crossing Guard zigzags between this and Beleaguered Bureaucrat: he's competent and can get an impressive amount done under the right circumstances, but the Immigration Department is undersized, overworked, and short-funded. (Luna is working on resolving all three issues.) Being responsible for the majority of non-pony residents in Canterlot is a hard job, one which too often displays visible strain — but at the same time, being able to manage it at all shows just how tough he is. Still, when he gets tired, mistakes can be made...
  • Bad Liar: Caramel, as seen in The Hypocrisy of Tolerance. It's not that the lies themselves are bad. He just can't come up with new ones, and he's been using the same ones over and over for years.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: At the press conference meant to explain the nature of eclipses to the populace through newspaper articles (which ultimately leads to the government still having to do its own one-sheet educational printing — just for starters), one reporter asks how ponies are supposed to get used to the idea, especially if this is going to be any kind of regular event. Luna then decides that from that point on, all daylight conferences in the Lunar Courtyard will be held under total solar eclipse, just to let that reporter get used to it.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The stallion in Blessing who begs Celestia to save his daughter is named Fajr. It's Arabic, indicating the morning prayers.
    • A mild version in Naked Lunch: two named Canterlot streets are Camargue Road and Przewalski Way — horse breeds. There's also a very obscure one deeper into the story, occurring when the formal name of the Griffon Republic is finally revealed. It's Protocera — and some human folklorists believe the Terran legends of griffons began when people completely misinterpreted the fossilized remains of the dinosaur species Protoceratops.
    • Lazy River reveals that the traditional earth pony period of mourning is called shiva, sharing its meaning with the original Hebrew.
  • Blood Magic: Some of Sombra's more unique creations in Post Negative Comments Only have indelible rust stains at the bases.
  • Brick Joke: In On The Application Of Time And Motion Efficiency Studies To Initial Relationship Formation, Lyra only participates in Twilight's Speed Dating experiment as a means of resetting library fines, because Bon-Bon can't admit she's lost the book. Nearly two years down the timeline in Orange Is The New Blue, Twilight gets Bon-Bon to leave a near-riot at Sugarcube Corner by asking her if she's willing to admit having lost the book yet.
  • Capital Letters Are Magic: Played for Laughs in Scootalift. When Scootaloo starts pursuing Snowflake, the safest place to be becomes Very Far Away From Him and That Tree she's "hiding" behind, at least until It Finally Happens.
  • Cat Up a Tree: Or Pony Up A Tree, anyway. This is Rarity's situation in the eponymous story. Ponies are among the worst climbers in the world and know it: unless you're a pegasus, being stuck in a tree too high up for a safe jump generally means being stuck there until somepony shows up to help. Triptych notes similar problems with falling into holes: if the width doesn't allow a chimney-climb, the pony is probably in trouble.
    • None of this stops two non-pegasi from climbing trees to keep away from Scootaloo in Scootalift. Admittedly, there was a pegasus there who could have provided a potential boost. Or as Snowflake notes, they might have just discovered a panic-induced talent for high-jumping. It's amazing what you can do when you're scared enough...
  • Comically Missing the Point: Scootaloo does this in Cutie Mark Crusaders Alpha Pack Leader, getting through the following dialogue with no awareness of irony whatsoever:
    "Get what? That you wind up with a mark because you do perfectly ordinary things you're already good at and love doing, instead of trying cool stuff which nopony's ever done before?" A long pause. "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard!"
    • Note that this is perfectly in-character for Scootaloo, who has a similar sort of reaction in canon to the Cutie Mark-stories of everyone of the Mane 6 bar Rainbow Dash and who tends to lead the charge in the Crusaders continually failing to realise why their crusades just don't work. In fact, she's so prone to this In-Universe that it's made her practically as hated amongst the adults as Diamond Tiara is amongst the youngsters.
  • Cue the Rain: Rarity invokes this trope in Pony Up A Tree — deliberately. It's her final way of proving that Rainbow is lurking on a cloud overhead, because the weather coordinator can't resist a good feed line.
  • Dartboard of Hate: Celestia is very curious to get a look at Murdocks' face, mostly because she wants to make one.
  • Determinator: Snowflake's mark and special talent, with the weight representing the burdens he has to shift. When he sets his mind to something, it's highly recommended to get out of the way.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Go ahead and demonstrate an eclipse in the Lunar Courtyard to a few ponies selected from both palace staffs, just to see how the public might take it. There's no way anypony would be freaked out by the sight of Luna performing a working which seems to be blocking out Sun... and cue riot. (To be fair, Luna asked for the demonstration as a means of finding out if any ponies would have bad reactions before the sisters brought the phenomenon to the general populace. It was better to discover the problem then and there — but neither anticipated the actual panic.)
    • An angry Celestia then fires those who started it, which leads into a second instance of this trope. And thus the world's most incompetent counterrevolutionary cell was formed. When she eventually discovers all the layers of what had happened, she treats the prior gap in her knowledge as a personal failing. Luna makes a point of saying Celestia isn't omniscient (even if the older sister sometimes briefly manages to make her fall for it) and that there was no way to see this coming, but Celestia keeps insisting that she should have seen more. There may be a bit of a Guilt Complex there.
  • Dirty Cop: Officer Cropski in One Tenth Bit abuses his authority to harass Rarity. By the end of the story, it's revealed that he's doing the store owner a favor through trying to embarrass her so badly that she'll never return. It also backfires, as Rarity's friends go a little higher up the ladder than his.
  • The Dreaded: The Cutie Mark Crusaders are this for most of Ponyville's population. Ponies keep away from them like they were juggling nitroglycerin, even when they aren't.
    • Princess Luna, on the other hand, terrifies just about everyone. Word of God states that the scariest line in Celestia's diplomatic arsenal is "Let me go see what my sister thinks".
    • Mr. Flankington will be this in any setting where food service becomes remotely possible. He can empty out a banquet hall in nine seconds flat, and that as an invited guest.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: The griffon in "Naked Lunch" who tries to open a butcher shop in Canterlot in a very public location is considered an idiot by Luna and Crossing Guard, but Luna claims that he actually raises a good point. The meat-eating residents of Equestria shouldn't be forced to buy meat in back-alleys and pet-shops just because meat freaks out ponies.
  • Endangered Soufflé: The arc plot in Pinkie Pie Vs. The Soufflé, which has Pinkie attempting to bake her first successful baking of the stubborn dish for her master piece: the dish which will let her shed the "apprentice" from "baker" once and for all. It doesn't exactly go as first planned. Or second, third, fourth... It eventually turns out that Pinkie is subconsciously sabotaging her attempts, because she's scared that becoming a true baker will mean having to leave the Cakes, who're the only family she really has.
  • Flat Character: Discussed in Pinkie Pie vs. the Soufflé. It's very easy for ponies to slip into the roles their cutie marks represent and never branch out beyond them.
    • In The Hypocrisy of Tolerance, Rarity and Fluttershy discuss the possibility of becoming nothing but the virtue of their Element. Luna assured Rarity that it can't happen... unless a Bearer believes it could. Or wants it to.
    • This is further explored in A Mark of Appeal, to a horrific extent: a certain disease which appears to primarily effect 'metallics', possibly the result of inbreeding, results in the cutie mark literally taking over the pony's life, with utterly disastrous results. And in One Tenth-Bit, the demented Officer Cropski seems to be of the opinion that a cutie mark oftentimes represents the worst aspects of a pony, a case of projection where, at the end, his mark of three iron bars turns out to be especially prophetic.
  • Fantastic Racism: Sonic Rainbigot introduces Canterlot Unicorns Need Equal Treatment, later described in Luna's Lottery Lunacy as "the largest, best-organized, well-funded, and most delusional group of self-promoting racists on the continent." (It's also noted that they were originally named Canterlot Unicorns Negating Traditional Swears, but for some reason, decided that name wasn't working out.) Naked Lunch firmly establishes them as a unicorn superiority group which is forever trying to claim the victimization of a persecuted majority, and extends their racism to the other sentient species: they would love to see Equestria's borders closed (along with the expulsion of all non-ponies, citizens included), and a few members are so fanatical as to refuse usage of anything not created by unicorns. Which admittedly makes it hard to take pictures which might work in their favor: turns out cameras were invented by minotaurs.
  • Fantastic Slur: One of the worst things an earth pony or pegasus can say about a unicorn is to tell them they're "horning in": it's basically calling that pony a powermonger who doesn't care about Harmony, based in a time when some unicorns tried to use their magics to take over. In the modern day, some unicorns will toss the slur at other unicorns if they think the target pony is getting full of themselves — but if anypony else uses it, screams of racism just might follow.
    • Pegasi occasionally get hit with 'land swooper', a leftover from the era of sieges and raiding parties: it's calling that pony a thief or pirate. However, the term is also used as the name of a Las Pegasus sports team. Pegasi are also, occasionally, called 'feather dusters', though usually only in the minds of the unicorn nobility.
  • Forbidden Friendship: Snips and Snails' parents believe that each is a bad influence on the other. The only place Snips and Snails can spend time together is school. They repeatedly fail their exams on purpose so they can spend summers together in remedial classes.
    • The Cutie Mark Crusaders haven't quite reached this state, yet, but it's a close thing, and both Applejack and Rarity are seriously considering at least forbidding their siblings from having anything to do with Scootaloo.
  • Forced Sleep: Averted. In If Rainbow Dash Can't Sleep Twilight outlines just how difficult a sleep spell would be.
    Twilight Sparkle: — you want me — to reach into a pony body — creating an overload of fatigue poisons in every single cell from a starting point of absolutely nothing — while simultaneously not just overriding the brain's natural cycle, replacing it — and you think that's going to be easy?
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In-universe example in Blessing. All of the Unwanted False Faith in the princesses began with a joke:
    Fine... then I'll swear it on Luna's horn. Happy now?
  • 419 Scam: Twilight gets to read the Equestrian version of a 419 in Dear Friend, after Spike fires off a number of ersatz scrolls following the ingestion of "griffon-made canned lunch meat". The scroll in question comes from somepony asking for aid in recovering twenty million bits deposited in Ponyville, and is signed "Sucker Bet."
  • Hate Sink: In-Universe, the Crystal Goose species, as unfortunately returned to Equestria in Goosed. Big, strong, hyper-aggressive, violently territorial (to the point that Fluttershy translates their name for their flock as "Owns Everything"), almost stubbornly stupid insatiable gluttons who have the least-efficient digestive system in Equestria and so leave a copious trail of unspeakably nasty feces in their wake. Their myriad names range from Ultionum Prandium (Griffonian for "Vengeance Lunch" — keep in mind, Griffons normally refuse to eat anything that they don't respect) to "Grey-Winged Shitbuckets". The textbook covering their existence notes that they went "suspiciously extinct" as soon as the Crystal Empire vanished, with the "suspiciously" being underlined three times for emphasis.
  • Historical In-Joke: As revealed at the end of Luna's Lottery Lunacy, Celestia had to ban tulips at some point in the past millennium, apparently because a strong pony herd mentality turned a fad into an economic bubble burst. It's a reference to Tulip Mania.
    • In Chapter 4 for A Mark Of Appeal, Ambassador Torque Power of Mazien tries to fight his way to Joyous while carrying a bouquet of tulips (among many others), and one of Celestia's first reactions is that she has to get them out of sight before anypony else spots them, along with wondering where he got them because she thought she'd had all the suppliers closed down. Apparently Canterlot has an underground illegal flower trade.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Diamond Tiara hates ponies who have enough power to get things all their own way. At least when they aren't her.
  • Implausible Deniability: Caramel's explanation for how he could afford the latest piece of Magitek after claiming financial problems? He won a raffle! Then Flitter calls him out. And it is glorious.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Twilight needs cash. Twilight has just received clearance to legally teleport with up to three ponies. Twilight has also noticed how unpleasant Ponyville winters are. Cue the posting of flyers advertising Twilight's Escort Service all over town.
  • Insistent Terminology: If Celestia and Luna are sharing the morning meal together, the Solar Kitchen calls the result 'brinner'. The Lunar staff refers to that same meal as 'dinfast'. About two seconds after that, pots begin to fly.
  • Insomnia Episode: If Rainbow Dash Can't Sleep..., which was written because the author couldn't sleep.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: In-Universe, at the end of Goosed, Fluttershy is about the only one upset by the fact that the migrating Crystal Geese are heading to Protocera from Ponyville, and so will probably be eaten into extinction again by the griffons.
  • King Incognito: Ratchette is a member of the oldest and most powerful House of pegasus nobles on the continent — and would much rather be a mechanic in Ponyville. She's actually told a few of the local ponies, but only if she was sure they would either understand or just laugh it off.
  • Lethal Chef: Mr. Flankington. Aside from his infamous "Saddle Arabian delicacy," Cutie Mark Crusaders Alpha Pack Leader demonstrates how his test kitchen has the literal ingredients for a town-wide biohazard. Oddly, for most of the timeline, he was The Ghost of Ponyville: he's mentioned as being in the crowd in front of Sugarcube Corner during Orange Is The New Blue, but he was never described or heard to speak — until Twilight's Escort Service: a male pegasus stallion in late middle age, with a dark green coat, red eyes, and a mark showing two crossed, bubbling test tubes.
    • Word Of FanFic Author is that he's meant to be a gentle tribute to Plankton, with his restaurant constantly losing money until tourist season hits and unsuspecting travelers who assume any eatery must be run by somepony with a cooking mark wander into exactly the right location for proving themselves horribly wrong. He truly doesn't mean any harm: he just can't get a recipe right to save his life and possesses a good amount of self-delusion regarding his efforts. The next one will surely work out...
      • If the food preparation phase counts, we can now add Celestia and Luna to the mix. In Princesses Can't Cook, the sisters attend their first culinary lesson. The results are edible: it was the creation stage which managed to blow up most of the kitchen. Twice.
    • A more minor version in 100% Move = 50% Fire, when Pinkie Pie sees Twilight's original kitchen.
    Well, I can see you're alive, but I'm not sure how ...
  • Lethal Joke Item: So there's a spell. And all it does is change the color of anything available to a hue of the caster's choice. Harmless, right? Well, what if you took a few random spins of the color wheel on every visible dress in the Boutique and the effect never wore off? How about using it on food? Making ponies look Red and Black and Evil All Over? And that's just the beginning for the possibilities...
  • Like Brother and Sister: Snowflake and Fluttershy are explicitly described as "near-siblings" in The Hypocrisy of Tolerance. Triptych revealed that they had both been delivered by Doctor Gentle, and he recommended that they meet when Snowflake first moved to Ponyville. There's no romantic connection: they simply have a lot of things in common.
  • Logic Bomb: Luna launches one (referenced by name) in A Total Eclipse Of The Fun which nearly takes out an entire press conference. Upon being repeatedly challenged to prove that she's incapable of enthralling ponies, she agrees that the never-seen ability would in fact be a danger and refuses to release anyone from the gathering until they've proven they can't do it - through attempting (and failing) to use the spell on her. If it doesn't work, she'll simply tell the gathering "I am not enthralled' and let that pony leave.
    "Of course — if you could enthrall me, that would be the very first thing you should make me say..."
  • Mercy Kill: Fluttershy, as part of her role as animal caretaker, over and over again, taking the burden on herself every time. Made all the worse by the fact that Ponyville's only licensed vet refuses to perform the act (supposedly in defense of her success-only reputation) and sends anything fatal or even somewhat risky to the cottage. Mentioned in Triptych with off-screen example and given extra detail in Five Hundred Little Murders, which was inducted into the Royal Canterlot Library.
  • The Moving Experience: Somewhat distorted in 100% Move = 50% Fire, which is set near the end of Season #1. The move is very real, but the purpose is to complete Twilight's transition into Ponyville by clearing out the last of her things from her rooms at the Canterlot Archives.
  • Never My Fault: It's amazing how much the world conspires against Diamond Tiara, making it seem like the kind, considerate, perfect filly is responsible so many of her undeserved hardships.
  • Not So Different: In Stupid Direction-Face, Rainbow Dash and Garble are strikingly similar to one another, both in attitude and accomplishments. Through the current point in the story, Rainbow appears blissfully unaware of any irony.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Snips and Snails fail their exams on purpose, since summer school is the only place they can spend time together during the summer due to their parents believing that each is a bad influence on the other.
  • Old Shameinvoked: In Blessing, an emotionally-battered Celestia tells a pony that she's cast a spell to try and save a friend, one who was apparently about to die. Something about the nature of the casting means she doesn't even know if it worked. She's not even sure if she was trying to help or punish him — and that spell has never been cast a second time. The guilt has never gone away.
  • Origins Episode: Snowflake Shoe-Hare provides one for the title character, making his wings into the results of a birth defect injury. (In this continuity, nearly all pegasi foals have hard shells of translucent tissue called caps covering the wings at birth, protecting fragile bones from damage caused by the pressure of contractions. Snowflake was a capless birth who survived.) His unusual build is explained as a deliberate effort to substitute for missing wing surface area with raw power.
  • Paint It Black: The antagonist in Orange Is The New Blue possesses an apparently-unique spell which allows her to change the color of any object. Early on, it's used to alter Rarity from her usual white-and-purple into... red-and-black, which quickly turns into a mild TakeThat for the flood of identically-hued alicorn OCs to appear on FIMFic.
    "I feel like such a cliché."
  • Perpetual Poverty: Caramel's is self-inflicted. He constantly buys incredibly expensive gifts for his latest fillyfriend, and thus has nothing left for little things like bills.
    • Also applies to Fluttershy across the story group: her feed costs are high, she has to purchase some rare substances for certain medicines, new medical reference texts come out every year... and some of her clients skip out on their bills in the certain knowledge that she won't take them to small claims court. She has the benefit of owning the cottage and surrounding land outright, but there's always property tax...
  • Raised by Natives: Naked Lunch reveals that griffons have a cultural imperative which dictates that to bring a child into the world is to take responsibility for raising it to adulthood — and if the parents die, someone else must take over. This belief extends to the children of enemies — and in the deep past, when the Republic and Equestria went to war, the griffons would scoop up the foals of the fallen and bring them to their new homes. Centuries later, this has led to Protocera possessing a significant pony population, nearly all descendants of those original children — and most of them were raised as and consider themselves to be griffons. Equestrian visitors to the Republic who think they've spotted another traveler on the street are often in for a major culture shock.
    • It's also worth noting that this applies to any intelligent species the griffons have ever fought. Which brings up the question of just what else holds Protoceran citizenship...
  • Read the Fine Print: Trixie does (against the seller's will) on Equestria's first-ever texting contract in 0G Network Coverage. It's implied not to end well for the salespony.
  • Royal Brat: Diamond Tiara, of the Nouveau Riche variety. The beginning of A Confederacy of Dunce Caps makes it clear that she considers wielding her father's money, influence, and lawyers to be her princess-given right. The headgear probably doesn't help.
  • Scrapbook Story: Permanent Record, presented as a series of incident reports written by a Ponyville police officer who has to deal with the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Her sanity doesn't survive for long.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Deconstructed by Diamond Tiara. She gets away with a lot of bad behavior by threatening to sic her father's lawyers on others. Her dad is actually fed up with this and points out that she is hurting his business. He mentions that almost everypony related to her classmates, barring Silver Spoon's family, has stopped doing business with him. Even the Apple family, who still honors their long expired contract due to Filthy Rich's own good relationship with them, won't actually visit his store anymore just to avoid Diamond.
  • Shout-Out: In On The Application Of Time And Motion Efficiency Studies To Initial Relationship Formation, Flitter gives this little speech after deciding that Rarity being a whole seventeen moons older than her means the designer is effectively deceased:
    "You've booked passage for a permanent vacation in the shadowlands! You've designed your own funeral shroud! You've closed the shop and had your dumb flunked vet friend teach her birds a dirge! You are an ex-pony!"
    • Luna has a simple question for the room: "Did I err?"
    • The trail blend called Hurry-Up Mix, so named because it inspires ponies to find anything else to eat before she makes that mix again, has certain similarities to dwarf bread. (It's edible — just highly fragrant and almost terminally unbalanced towards grains.)
  • Speed Dating: Don't tell Twilight that you can typically decide if a chance meeting or date has the chance to become more within three minutes, or she just might decide to test the idea with a group of forty-four ponies while making you part of it, Rarity. Just... don't... too late...
  • Stop Worshipping Me: In Blessing, Celestia tries to convince a stallion that she is not, and has never been, a deity and cannot help his dying filly no matter how much he prays to her. She fails. The stallion misinterprets her providing some final comfort to the dying filly with her light as a blessing and prays harder than ever. When his daughter dies anyway, he tries to commit suicide, blaming himself because he "didn't have enough faith..."
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The reason why students from Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns are in the castle in Luna's Lottery Lunacy. The budget wasn't able to cover rebuilding that much of the school for the fourth time. That semester.
    • In 100% Move=50% Fire, Twilight says it's almost traditional to damage some part of the Canterlot Archives once you get into the better portions, which is why there's (still) no railing on the ramp leading up to her old residence.
      • Luna has made ice cream explode. She wasn't attacking it or experiencing any degree of Power Incontinence during an emotional moment: she was trying to create the dessert. Princesses Can't Cook showed her grumbling about the slow method of aeration, to the point where she decided the best way of shortcutting past it was to make the air already within move faster. As in 'internal storm system'. Complete with lightning. Boom. By contrast, Celestia took out the oven in a much more conventional way.
  • Super Speed: While not too overt in its manifestations, both Celestia and Luna seem to have reaction times well above that of the average pony, and Luna's land speed is far beyond typical.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: "Naked Lunch" makes it clear that Luna does not have a very high opinion of the general pony population's intelligence. The events in the story seem to validate that opinion.
  • Take That: The first short in the Elements Of Elements pieces turns into one for the frequently-seen fanfic concept of a seventh Element Of Harmony, with Twilight pointing out that while there's a chance such a thing could exist, the Elements only work as a group: any missing piece would have shorted out the set. (Pinkie feels that the multiple ponies galloping all over Equestria claiming to be that seventh are just looking for free drinks and sex. Mostly sex.)
    • Word Of Fanfic Author is that it's more of a poke at the never-ending flood of seventh Element OCs, many of whom exist solely so they can have sex.
  • The Tokyo Fireball: After the events of the last few years, the mayor uses a stack of disaster relief forms for a pillow.
    • Triptych notes that the national disaster relief fund makes up eight percent of Equestria's budget "in a slow year." Just how much of that goes to Ponyville is perhaps best not thought about.
    • Furthermore, the town bankrupted the nation's fledgling insurance companies in fifteen moons.
  • Total Eclipse of the Plot: Drives A Total Eclipse Of The Fun, which is built around Celestia and Luna's plans to create an eclipse to celebrate the second anniversary of Luna's Return. (Despite the actual timing of events, the associated holiday is held three days after the Summer Sun Celebration, to give Luna her own time.) This has to be a deliberate, planned event: due to the normal cycle for Sun and Moon, the two celestial bodies are never in the sky at the same time unless the sisters carefully arrange it. Portions of the public don't take well to the proposed celebration, mostly because the Princesses are bringing back something from the age of Discord which blocks out the Sun.
  • Unwanted False Faith: The Princesses, full stop. A number of ponies (and not a small one) see them as entities not only to invoke in vows, but who can be actively prayed to — and they're not. Blessing shows Celestia desperately trying to explain her lack of divinity to a stallion truly in need of a miracle — an attempt which appears to have never worked.
    • On a lighter note, the Cutie Mark Crusaders' reign of terror has led to at least one shrine among Ponyville's realtors and moving supply salesponies.
  • Wrench Wench: Ratchette. Very attractive, almost perpetually dirty, happily tinkers with whatever's available, designs her own tools, and she's the only qualified repairpony for devices and conveniences in all of Ponyville. There's just the minor matter of her being a pegasus.
  • Yes-Man: Every single resident of the Crystal Empire at the beginning of Post Negative Comments Only. They remember enough of Sombra's reign to fear the retribution that will follow any display of less-than-perfect devotion and competence. Cadance just wants them to think for themselves.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Comes as a group effort towards Twilight from the other Bearers in 100% Move = 50% Fire after the real reason for her procrastination in completing the exit from her former Canterlot Archives apartment emerges. She's so afraid of saying or doing one wrong thing and losing everypony, she's been hanging onto a retreat point.
    • There's also a bit of it in Chapter 4 of Orange Is The New Blue, again directed towards Twilight, this time from Rarity: Twilight works out a possible emotional motive for the outbreak of color-change castings, immediately starts to second-guess herself because she feels she's no good at judging such things, and Rarity gently tells her how much she's changed since arriving in Ponyville, very nearly using the trope name in the process.


a price to pay for every gift...
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/FanFic/TriptychContinuum