Fanfic / The Rise Of Darth Vulcan

The Rise of Darth Vulcan is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan fiction written by RealityCheck on Archive of Our Own (formerly Fimfiction.Net).

Ted is just your regular brony-hater: He's heard a LOT about the show, even the basic plot, but he hates both the show and its fandom with a passion.

One fateful Halloween night, he decided to go to a party dressed as a medieval Darth Vader. To complete the outfit, he bought a strange trinket from a shop. He decided it looked kickass.

Problem? It turned out to be a replica of the Alicorn Amulet from the show. Even bigger problem? It actually WAS the Alicorn Amulet from the show. Ted gets sucked up in a portal and sent to Equestria after everyone accuses him of being a closet brony.

And because he's dressed up as evil as he is, Rainbow Dash immediately attacks him. This leads him to discover that he's gained dark powers from the amulet.

Thus, with nothing but magical powers, savviness, a cunning mind, and a silver tongue so began the legend of Darth Vulcan...

A fic based on a premise of another, the story explores the consequences of power (and pointing out what the writer considers problems with the show and other fanworks).


Tropes:

  • Accentuate the Negative: This fic all but runs on this.
  • Accusation Fic: Can come off as this at times: Vulcan's speeches towards the Princesses revolve around problematic mistakes EVERYONE in the show has done.
  • Acrofatic: Leo looks quite overweight, but has the muscle and speed to go toe-to-toe with an enraged manticore.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Discord's bothering of Rainbow Dash while impersonating the "Cragodile Hunter" gets a laugh from rest of the mane 6.
  • Adaptational Wimp: This fic's Celestia is a lot less competent than canon Celestia. Dealing with the consequences of her shortcomings and how they affect others is a subplot in the story.
  • Adults Are Useless: During Vulcan's first spying on Ponyville, he takes much notice of how utterly oblivious Cheerilee is to the bad/lazy behaviour of students.
  • A Father to His Men: Vulcan takes good care of his dogs, and even joins them in mourning the deaths of their comrades under his command.
  • A Glass in the Hand: After Vulcan hears the tale of the Cirrus/Hilltop remedial pegasi, he didn't even notice that he'd crushed a coin he was holding.
  • All for Nothing: Ted spent years pretending to be a cool kid, which required giving up things he actually enjoyed. All of that effort went down the drain after he wore the Alicorn Amulet to a Halloween party and everyone accused him of being a closet brony.
  • All Men Are Perverts/All Women Are Lustful: Discussed by Ted. People might think that all teenagers are boiling pressure cookers full of hormones, but they are generally much smarter and mellower than others give them credit for. Also Defied (along with A Man Is Not a Virgin) because, in Ted's opinion, any animal can say they chased tail/satisfied their carnal desires whenever they could, but it takes a real man to keep it in his pants when it's smart to do so. The one pony that got frisky with Eiderdown got covered with illusion spiders by a rather miffed Dodger.
  • Alternate Universe Fic: Vulcan arrives in Equestria at some point between Seasons 3 and 4, and his involvement ends up derailing the major events of the latter.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Vulcan and Chrysalis are bigger fished by Sombra. Then all three are bigger fished by Celestia and Luna.
    • You would expect Discord to bigger-fish Vulcan with ease. You'd be not so right. He does, but has no desire to find what would be the (implied disproportionately high) cost.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Ted, unsurprisingly, knows of this trope and makes use of it to great effect. He even booby-trapped mindscapes with memes off the internet to dissuade Luna from using dark dream-magic ever again.
  • Amulet of Dependency: The Alicorn Amulet's powers give Ted an edge, but it's also slowly driving him even crazier and it's stuck to his body. Forcefully removing it would likely be rather painful if not fatal.
  • Angrish: Ted, after being hit by Rainbow Dash a second time.
    Ted: Sonuva fraggin monkey buckin' ramjammin' frickin jock she-male pegasus frickin clocked me AGAIN...
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Dodger gives one to Flim and Flam to get them to come to Vulcan.
  • Anti-Villain: "How will you understand my deeper motivations and make me a sympathetic character?"
    • While believed to be a villain by populace, the protagonist still has standards, and has his heartwarming moments, balancing between Noble Demon, Pragmatic Villainy, Pragmatic Hero (sic!), Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk and Jerk with a Heart of Gold. But mostly, he is just a Jerkass.
      • Defied Trope: Ted is NOT a good person stuck doing bad things, and the deepest motivation he had for doing things, getting home, was abandoned as soon as he started getting more and more into the role of a villain, with his first act being trying to intimidate the ponies for fun and coerce information out of them instead of simply asking politely for help. And whatever standards he does have are tied to a laundry list of ethics he's stated to not even understand WHY they are that way, like for example, saying slavery is wrong but not explaining why it's wrong beyond "It just is". His Jerk with a Heart of Gold acts are also performed from an extremely cynical mindset and a desire to Stick It To The Man, going on incomplete information and mostly going from his very biased opinions and without a thought of what would happen if he loses and how that would affect every willing minion and collaborator. Even when he does help someone, like the Broken Birds, he is acting with the confidence that Celestia won't be able to defeat him before he has everything set up and his collaborators can't be touched by the law. Word of God is also clear that Ted is a villain straight through, and the quote above was just Ted being a Deadpan Snarker.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Alicorn Amulet, naturally. Even before we find out it's sentient.
  • The Artful Dodger: It's in the name. Artful Dodger grew up on the roughest streets of Canterlot... and the reader is advised to take a moment to stop giggling.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Leo, the first Champion that Celestia summons to deal with Vulcan, happens to be a huge brony.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Ted. Everything started going downhill for him in Equestria because he decided to bully the ponies into helping him by playing the part of the bad guy, and then had the gall to be offended when they struck back at the perceived threat like most sensible people would in case a terrorist came to town and started making demands. Then he has the gall to treat them like they are in the wrong for assaulting him when he was the one that started being confrontational.
    • Luna invading Dodger's dreams to make him an unwitting spy would be worse if the victim wasn't basically the pony version of Ted — an angry little jerk with authority issues. Indeed, Luna was counting on him being the kind of jerk who would side with Ted.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: How Vulcan takes control of the Diamond Dogs, which is standard practice for their society.
    • This is also at play in Changeling society, even playing a part in how Queens select mates.
  • Author Tract: As shown under Accusation Fic and elsewhere, Vulcan and the fic largely are devoted to pointing out problems the writer has with the setting. Which is a little odd considering how he didn't intend for readers to agree with Ted as much as some do.
  • Badass Boast: Vulcan takes to introducing himself with these.
  • Bad Boss: Big Boss a powerful dragon who enslaved the Diamond Dogs, forcing them to dig for gems with little food or breaks, and eating anyone for complaining.
  • Batman Gambit: When the Mane Six and the Royal Guard show up to free Diamond Tiara from Vulcan, he leads them into the middle of nowhere, leaving Ponyville vulnerable to a raid by his forces.
    • Luna knows that Vulcan will see through her attempt to have members of the Night Guard infiltrate his forces, so sends them along with a group of escaped prisoners, one of whom (Artful Dodger) sells them out in order to earn Vulcan's trust; Dodger, unbeknownst even to himself, has a rune hidden on his body that allows Luna to spy on his dreams.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Ted's in Equestria because the Amulet responded to his expressed desire to burn it to the ground.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: From a nerdy geek that was into tabletop games and had a talent for making good cosplay costumes to a jerk and a bully that derides those that follow the same interests openly, this basically defines Ted.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: The reason the Dogs are so loyal to Ted. A lot of things below detailing their relationship can be distilled into this one trope.
  • Becoming the Mask: Darth Vulcan has indicated that he has, or had, many nerdy interests in his past, particularly cosplaying... which he shucked aside to avoid being relegated to bottom-feeder status in his local high school. Word of God is that he literally chose to cosplay being a cool kid, and did it so well that the entire school, himself included, all but forgot his old self. Now, he's tumbled into a world of magical ponies while garbed in a stereotypical villain's outfit...
  • Believing Their Own Lies: With the reveal that the "Ted the Jerk" personality that we were introduced to is a fabrication that Ted himself forgot was fake, it's all but certain that the problems with law enforcement he's vaguely alluded to in-story are also a fabrication done in order to invoke the Cool People Rebel Against Authority trope in real life. As Ted is in reality a nerd into tabletop roleplay games, video games and cosplaying, he's not likely to be the type to have actually done anything to get on the bad side of the law. The fact that he believes it so fully he forgot he wasn't supposed to be a jerkass delinquent is a hint that there was something horribly wrong with Ted even before he put on the Alicorn Amulet.
  • Beneath Notice: Vulcan takes to recruiting commoner ponies dissatisfied with the rule of Celestia and Luna as his spies within Canterlot, figuring that no one will ever suspect such low-rung individuals as being suspect.
  • Benevolent Boss: Although benevolent is not the right word to describe Darth Vulcan, the Diamond Dogs certainly think so. Keeping them well fed certainly played a role, as did killing the dragon that was enslaving them. The fact that they dug under Canterlot castle for a week trying to find him cements this.
  • Berserk Button: Ted hates slavery and racism, all connected to his absolute belief in free will. So when the ponies blast him with the Elements and bring in mind-altering spells to try and help him, he refuses their help. Considering his first experience with the Elements, one can't blame him.
    • Don't insinuate to Princess Luna that she is second banana to Princess Celestia. Darth Vulcan, of course mashes on that button, leading to another trope.
    • Artful Dodger is pissed when he discovers that Luna has been using his mind to spy on Vulcan.
    • Celestia and Twilight are furious when they find out what happened to Eiderdown and her friends. In fact, Celestia is so angry that she does not try find out what happened herself, (instead getting Twilight to do it) because she wants to keep her self-control.
    • When Ted thinks that Dodger betrayed him, he furiously throttles him.
  • BFS: Ted's sword is "the size of an ironing board".
    • Deconstructed in that it's too unwieldy to use properly, turning Vulcan's battle with Sombra, who is equally inexperienced at swordfighting, into something more comical than epic.
      • Though due to having empowered strength from the Alicorn Amulet, it's more likely his ineffectiveness duelling with it is more due to his lack of skill rather than than it being too big, especially considering that he handled it fine in the eye-to-eye melee at the castle gates.
  • Big Bad: Ted/Darth Vulcan currently serves this role to the ponies.
  • Big "NO!": Filthy Rich, when, after all of the worrying he has done, he is led to believe Diamond Tiara is dead. Fortunately, she's returned physically unhurt - unfortunately, her mental state and loss of faith breaks his heart.
  • Black and Grey Morality: Darth Vulcan is a Jerkass and a thief, but some of his opponents Big Boss, Chrysalis, and Sombra make him look like a hero. Averted with his battles with the Mane 6.
  • Blessed with Suck: The Thestrals' mutations gifted them with a variety of abilities normal ponies don't have. However, since Luna gave them these gifts by incorporating the genes of various bats, including vampire bats, they were also cursed with a hunger for blood that normal ponies lack. The only reason they were able to feed safely in the past was because of Luna's protection, so things got worse for them very quickly after Luna got herself banished with the Nightmare Moon incident. Generations of Thestrals suffered because Celestia was unable to fully understand how much they really needed blood (Luna apparently did not see fit to share notes with Celestia about her precious private super soldier race) and the ponies she trusted to create a blood substitute did not have the Thestrals' best interests in mind. The "gifts" that should have elevated the Thestrals made them sickly outcasts and easy targets for an opportunistic villain's manipulations.
  • Blood Magic: Thestral magic is tied to how much blood they drink.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Chapter 18
  • Bookcase Passage: Encountered in the castle in the Everfree.
  • Boom, Headshot: How Vulcan handles Tirek while being drained of his magic.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: Vulcan accuses Celestia of this and being a dictator under her sugar-coated smile, but she denies it every time, saying that there is no need to Brainwash ponies to make them happy. Actually, she scolds Twilight, saying that she does not approve of the use of mind magic by non-professionals. However, Luna hints at Celestia herself using them anyways. Hypocritically, the only confirmed example of someone doing this is Ted maintaining the geas on the Changelings. That may be understandable though, as they went into seizures when they weren't under any geas. It also doesn't occur to him that if Celestia really was brainwashing ponies for the greater good, there would probably be fewer problems with Equestria.
  • Breaking Out the Boss: Chapter 20. Vulcan's forces break into Canterlot to rescue him, resulting in a fighting retreat.
  • Break the Cutie: An unintentional example with Pinkie Pie. Vulcan's aura makes earth ponies' inherent Wild Magic behave oddly — in this case, turning her party cannon into a shotgun, which messes up his face really bad. Vulcan punching out all her front teeth hurts less than knowing she actually hurt him, rather than get him tied up in streamers or slimed with cake batter like what usually happens when she shoots someone with it.
  • Break the Haughty: Diamond Tiara. BIG TIME. Kidnapped by a warlock, told repeatedly by that warlock no one cares for her, only for it to be confirmed before her eyes by the illusions created as an anti-spy measure against Vulcan, faced with the realization that her daddy can't save her, abused by the Diamond Dogs, and in a final act of humiliation, is put on a dog leash, given a doggy bowl, and is found by ponies she repeatedly humiliated.
    • Filthy Rich undergoes this too. He attempted to cheat Vulcan out of his money and sell him out to the authorities. His actions led to his daughter being kidnapped, forcing him to spend sleepless nights worrying about her, Ponyville being looted by Vulcan's army, and then Vulcan calling him out on this in front of the entire town, destroying his reputation. He is misled into thinking Diamond Tiara is dead, and when he finds her, he breaks down realizing he couldn't save her.
      • Both of them, however, get better later on.
    • Ted was subjected to this early in the story when he is mistaken as a brony due to wearing the Amulet to a party. He doesn't take the complete implosion of his social status well.
  • Break Them by Talking: Vulcan is good at this. He even admits that it's his one real talent. He does this to Princess Luna (twice, one of them unintentionally), with a curious Royal Guard soldier, Chrysalis, and even left scratches on Celestia's self-confidence. Yeah, he's good.
  • Broken Aesop: The aesop that it's wrong to impose potentially risky dietary changes on others falls a little flat when the main character did just that when it came to the Changelings and so far has suffered no consequences for it. Then again, unlike the former cases, there's no proof that the changeling's case is actually harmful to their health. Not yet, anyway. Some time passed before the problems with the Thestrals' blood substitute became obvious too.
    • There's also the fact that Darth Vulcan didn't deceive the Changelings, and he didn't actually force them to stop feeding on ponies... he just pushed them to supplement their diets with love energy from pets, out of concern that they wouldn't have enough to sustain a changeling population otherwise.
  • The Bully: As someone who enjoys putting people down for not living up to his standards and rub it in their faces to make them feel like idiots, Ted/Vulcan is this. The whole mess started because he chose to act like a bully and have fun at the expense of others, instead of politely asking for help. Even before he ended up in Equestria he went along with the bullying of people more open with their geeky interests and thought they brought it on themselves.
  • Bunnies for Cuteness: The changelings need love to survive, but the dogs don't really care much about them, the solution?
    Darth Vulcan: "This is a bunny rabbit." (holds up Angel Bunny for all to see) "It is a device for turning carrots into love."
  • The Cavalry: Celestia, Luna, the Royal Guard, and the Mane Six.
  • Captain Ersatz: Ted's persona of Darth Vulcan started out as "Darth Vader if he came from a Standard Fantasy Setting". He ends up as the Overlord, complete with kobold Mooks.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Dodger acts like a cocky, suave, over-the-top lady's man around Eiderdown, but actually has zero experience with mares. As such, he suffers a panic attack the first time they're alone together, due to having no idea what he's supposed to be doing.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: The Changeling!Main Six. Fortunately, they're Vulcan's.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Luna being purified by the Elements of Harmony is subjected to this, when we find out how painful an experience being exposed to the Elements is. In fact much of the material from the show is portrayed a lot more negatively than it is in canon.
    • More Fridge Horror than any sort of retcon; as she pointed out, she was screaming while the Elements cleansed her.
  • Character Development: Vulcan grows from an irascible macho jerk to a crafty, manipulative warlord.
  • Clingy Macguffin: While Trixie's mind was being manipulated by the Amulet, she was still able to remove it. Ted has the opposite problem: the Amulet seems to be leaving his mind alone at first anyway, but he can't take it off.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Vulcan, as befitting his Genre Savvy-ness. He goes for collateral targets, distracts, fights dirty, forces a Sadistic Choice or two, and exploits any possible advantage and/or Loophole.
    • His main resource for a battle, magic, did not work on Big Boss? Magic-up his own hoard and kill him with it.
    • He is fireproof, but his enemy isn't? He fireballed a shield from the inside, catching himself in the process. Shining Armor is now sporting a rather unflattering haircut.
    • Facing the Royal Guard and the princesses? Toss the ground-bound troops off the mountain, knowing that the good guys will do anything to save them, even if it means letting him escape.
    • He's started having his blacksmiths forge crude but effective guns, and isn't above using them in battle. As Tirek found out the hard way.
  • Co-Dragons: Chrysalis and Artful Dodger; the former pretty much forces her way into a key position, while the latter earns after being made Vulcan's apprentice and taking a few levels in badass.
  • Complexity Addiction: Vulcan won't go for a simple smash-and-grab when he can make everyone else look dumb while he does it, according to Diamond Tiara.
  • Cool People Rebel Against Authority: Deconstructed Trope, invoked in-universe by Ted/Vulcan in his backstory. He has issues with authorities because... Reasons. He's basically "Sticking it to The Man" just because, and while he implies he's had problems with the law in the past... he never clarifies at all, which is suspect considering how he tends to think about his own past experiences in his narration with a good amount of details. As he's a cosplay geek that took on the role of a jerkass belonging to the in-crowd and got into the act so much he forgot who he really was, his issues with authority are probably there because it's expected of a high school in-crowd member of his school to have them, or because it made him seem edgy and ergo, cooler.
  • Corrupt Politician: Pretty much all of the nobility is made up of these. Even most non-noble ponies in positions of power have been doing at least a few unnecessary things to benefit themselves or those close to them such as Mayor Mare using extra funds to rent her brother's snowplows. As a result, they've managed to balance existing laws in their favor and needlessly overcomplicate them in the process. Twilight Sparkle spent most of the winter trying to untangle the whole thing.
  • Crapsaccharine World: How Vulcan feels about Equestria. As the Princesses explain, he's so jaded by experiences on Earth that he's convinced this is all a sugar coated lie.
    • Proven right to some extents after life of regular diamond dogs was described.
      • Most of the crapsaccharine nature relegated to Equestria is mostly from Ted's point of view, and he, as stated above, is an INCREDIBLY cynical individual that can't accept that sometimes things are really as good as they seem and is always waiting for the other shoe to drop, over-emphasizing the bad things he's found or the corruption he's unearthed, thinking them the norm rather than the exception.
    • None of the ponies, however, have ever denied there are problems in their society.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Leo seems like your average, socially awkward geek, who the ponies don't get a good impression from. But then he destroys a manticore in a melee fight and, thanks to Pinkie's wish, shows an immunity to its venom, which is implied to be very lethal.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Vulcan vs. Runt, Mange, and Skank. They were lucky he was so forgiving.
    • Vulcan's fight with Tirek lasts about a minute. Tirek immediately begins draining his magic, only to get his head shot off by Vulcan's gun.
  • Cuteness Proximity: The Dreaded Dark Sorcerer Darth Vulcan allowed a diamond dog to adopt a foal after getting double-teamed by their Puppy-Dog Eyes.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Zigzagged when Vulcan recruits the Flim Flam brothers — he goes into one of his trademarked "Reason You Suck" speeches on how they've been wasting their innovations on cons instead of revolutionizing Equestrian society, only for them to reveal that they tried that, but were stymied by Equestria's dedication to Medieval Stasis. Half the reason they join Vulcan is because he offers them a chance to cause social upheaval with their inventions (the other half being money).
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Vulcan has read the Evil Overlord List, the 48 Laws of Power, and various other guides to Genre Savvyness, and puts them all to good work.
  • Darth Vader Clone: Justified. Ted was wearing an actual Darth Vader costume gone medieval, and admired his character.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Vulcan has his moments, like when he refers to Diamond Tiara's attitude as "Princess-like".
    Celestia: I'm appalled on behalf of your world, if that is what you think Princesses are like.
    Vulcan: Oh no. My opinion of them has improved vastly since a couple of them chained me to a wall.
  • Deal with the Devil: Vulcan recruits commoner ponies to his cause by promising to give them everything they want that Celestia's regime has denied them in exchange for their service.
    Ted: "!#$^#$% your stupid pony crap! #$^% your stupid ponies! If I could I'd burn that stupid airy-fairy ponyland to the ground and pee on the ashes just to see the looks on your stupid faces!"
    • Eiderdown and her friends make one with Ted to get some justice in their lives. Deep down, however, Eiderdown wants revenge...
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Vulcan tears into everything about the show, from the ways ponies live, Diamond Tiara's continued behavior as a bully and the many, many stupid decisions by the Princesses. And he's not afraid to tell the Princesses about his observations.
    • Vulcan himself is a deconstruction as well, an attempt at showing how messed up a person would have to be to want to be a villain for fun without caring for the consequences and not accepting the negative consequences of his actions are his fault, while escalating a situation that could have been fixed with a simple apology and an explanation out of control for nothing more than spite. The deconstruction is performed while playing Ted completely straight, with the caveat that rather than having him face off against morally bankrupt Designated Heroes that honestly have it coming, he has faced off against the local heroes, who are honestly well meaning and morally upright people whom might have helped him if he hadn't tried trolling them instead of seeking assistance properly, and by showing the negative repercussions of his acts and deeds on Society at large from the point of view of the ones being affected.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: There's a couple of examples between Diamond Dogs and ponies. Dogs have no problem with slavery, don't quite seem to grasp ponies are herbivores, and see burying the dead as weird and disgusting (they burn their dead). That last one is mostly pragmatism, however — as Runt explains to Vulcan, graves take up room that could be used to dig for gems.
  • Demoted to Dragon: Chrysalis. But when this happens, (between a case of Mad Love and being constantly impressed by Ted) she really doesn't mind.
  • Destination Defenestration: Happens to Sundae Sprinkles, the officer who ruined the Broken Birds' lives. Artful Dodger plucks his wings and Sprinkles runs out the window in terror, only to plummet to the ground and break all four of his legs.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Vulcan is not afraid to tell the Princesses exactly what he thinks of them.
    • He does this literally to Sombra at one point.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: As it turns out, Discord's own Lovecraftian nature makes him magic - as in, literally made of magic. This makes anything capable of inflicting Mana Drain or Mana Burn on him highly dangerous, possibly even fatal. Guess what happens when Discord and the powers of the Amulet clash? A tactical retreat was a sensible choice.
    • Darth shoots Tirek dead when he tries to steal Vulcan's magic.
    • Pinkie accidentally does this to Ted (who has become pretty eldritch himself thanks to being fused to the Amulet) when the Amulet interferes with the magic that renders her attacks relatively harmless, though it takes a while for him to finally go down.
  • Did Not See That Coming:
    • Ted expected to have the ponies eating out of his hand by acting menacing to make them do what he wanted. Needless to say, it didn't work out that way.
    • Princess Celestia never expected her own pony executives and bureaucrats to twist the laws underneath her nose to benefit themselves at the expense of others, nor did she expect that some of her reforms meant to help less fortunate towns could be abused in different ways.
    • Ted didn't expect the Amulet's magic to work against him when it interfered with Pinkie's magic. His face got shredded as a result.
  • Disney Death: Sombra.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: In-Universe, it's lampshaded and subverted with the Changelings, who are stated not to be forgotten creatures, but predators who feed off of the emotions of others.
  • The Dreaded: Vulcan becomes this in Equestria.
  • Dream Spying: Luna spies on Vulcan's forces via a psychic backdoor in Dodger's mind. Vulcan and Dodger are pissed when they discover this, but Vulcan figures out a way to reverse it and use it to his advantage.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: The changelings, naturally.
  • Durable Deathtrap: The Everfree Castle. Justified, as there were many enchantments placed on it. Ted questions why the hell everything inside was left behind.
  • Due to the Dead: The first half of Chapter 24 covers the Diamond Dogs mourning the lost. Though half died under Big Boss, the others died under Vulcan. Wracked with guilt, Ted lets the dogs howl and drink the night away to mourn them, and even joins in.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: What could have been the result of Discord and Vulcan's magic coming into contact, rather than just cancelling each other out.
  • Elite Mooks: The Changelings who Vulcan recruits from Chrysalis, whom he dubs the Crimson Guard. Later on, we get Pumpkin Patch and the thestrals.
  • Enemy Mine: The towns that Vulcan's forces raze? The princesses won't lift a hoof to fix anything Darth Vulcan did. They agree wholeheartedly with having the place burnt to the ground.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Darth Vulcan started out with diamond dogs. He soon expanded to include Changelings, escaped pony convicts, minotaurs, and a tribe of Tooth Breezies.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The second chapter is one for Ted. His love of things dark and black, and his demeaning behavior toward a brony is explained.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Vulcan, while enjoying being an Evil Overlord, still has a code of ethics. However, said code of ethics is a flimsy laundry list with substance he doesn't really understand and contradicts himself enough that he's an outright hypocrite regarding some issues.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Dodger and Chrysalis were both disgusted by what was done to Eiderdown and her classmates in the remedial class. Dodger cripples the crooked Pegasus supervisor who helped ruin their lives, and Chrysalis thinks that not rebuilding the town was very wise.
    • Chrysalis also was angry at Vulcan for kidnapping the town's foals.
  • Evil Is Not Well Lit: Vulcan admits this about his cavern lairs, and considers doing something about it.
  • Evil Makes You Ugly: Ted eventually gets a bunch of facial scars courtesy of Pinkie, something that would never have happened if he hadn't continued to play Evil Overlord.
  • Evil Is Petty: Ted's a very petty individual. Everything he's done so far is more or less him lashing out over being humiliated at a party. Heck, it's the reason he's even in Equestria in the first place, since the Amulet was simply granting his wish to be sent to Equestria so he could wreck it.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Darth Vulcan. Gaining the Alicorn Amulet certainly helped.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Vulcan, thanks to a voice changer in his helmet. Though he eventually learns how to do it without aid.
  • Expy: Sawbones is one of Redbrand from the Upheaval series. He is nicer then Redbrand, even if it is easy to be nicer then Redbrand.
  • Failure Hero: Practically nothing Celestia has tried in the story to stop Ted has actually succeeded. Contrast with her canon portrayal, whose plans have a way of ultimately working out. Or the author's other works, where they also get some actual success every once in a while. This is likely a result of the deconstructive nature of the fic. It probably doesn't help that the show's writers deliberately make it vague whether or not she is a chessmaster or just really lucky.
  • The Fair Folk: In chapter 38, Dodger runs into ( and recruits) a tribe of Breezies who got run out of fairyland because they use Tooth Magic rather than Flower Magic-basically Lighter and Softer Unseelie Fey. They also go by the "we call them 'fair' to mean 'pretty'; not 'just'" model of pixie.
  • Feed the Mole: Vulcan does this to flush out a mole in his forces. It technically works, though he discovers that said mole wasn't voluntary. And then, he puts this to work to mislead his enemies.
  • Fight Magnet: Vulcan/Ted
  • First Name Ultimatum: Chrysalis yells out Ted's name to keep him from killing Dodger, whom it turns out was an unwitting spy.
  • Friendless Background: Considering he spent his high school years pretending to be someone he wasn't to fit in and avoid being labeled a geek, Ted arguably didn't have a single real friend. He didn't seem to have anyone coming to his defense at the Halloween party.
    • The sad thing was that the brony he was insulting was also the only person in the party honestly treating him like a friend, in spite of how bad Ted was treating him in turn.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Ted is a Villain Protagonist... In a Reality Check story. Which are known for the massive ownage delivered upon asshole Ne'er-do-wells like Ted. The "Dread Lord Darth Vulcan" will not come out of this story fresh as daisies.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Ted was just a Jerkass who inadvertently discovered the Alicorn Amulet and wore it. He's become the ruler of the Diamond Dogs and a band of changelings, and the self-proclaimed lord of the Everfree, who can battle the Princesses and the Elements of Harmony on equal footing.
  • From the Mouths of Babes: It's Diamond Tiara who figures out Vulcan's Kansas City Shuffle (detailed below), before even he plans it out. And then, she's the first one to realize, and explain to the Princesses, that they can't simply beat Vulcan the same way they have all the other villains, with a straightforward and direct fight; they'll have to have a drawn out struggle and dismantle his power base piece by piece.
  • Gambit Roulette: Vulcan engages in this once he discovers Luna's mole. He tells everyone, including Dodger, his next big plan, then wipes Dodger's memories of it, before telling him a decoy plan. Then, knowing that Dodger's memories will start to come back before they can carry out either the decoy or the real plan, comes up with a real real plan, which Dodger is not aware of.
  • Genre Blind: While normally genre savvy, Ted seems oblivious to the fact that relying on an Artifact of Doom for power doesn't end well in most stories.
  • Genre Savvy: Ted in general, which is his biggest advantage over the ponies.
    • Dodger knows that for all of Vulcan's power and wit, there's still a chance he'll go down like every Big Bad before him, and knows that if that happens then he is pretty much screwed. So, he starts putting together his own crew (starting with the tooth breezies) as an insurance policy in case things go south. Vulcan commends him on the foresight.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: All of Vulcan's helmet, really.
  • Gone Horribly Right: A meta version of this trope. The author made use of Vulcan to point out the Fridge Logic and contradictory nature of certain things that don't make sense even within the parameters of the show and deconstruct certain issues he believes are important to analyze because of the negative repercussions they could lead to if just ignored. It worked, but so much so he's been left disturbed by audience reaction to him being positive when Word of God states he's decidedly not meant to be seen as a good guy and is flat out insane. It's very egregious when one considers that the fans that like him are the sort of people he himself hates and wouldn't hesitate to "put them in their places" if he had the chance.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Celestia and Luna do this with the captive Vulcan, which he calls them out on.
  • Guile Hero: Filthy Rich attempted to do this by taking Ted's shopping order and then contacting the guard so they could apprehend him while keeping the gold for himself. It backfired SPECTACULARLY.
  • Grail in the Garbage: Ted finds the Alicorn Amulet in a pawnshop. Thinking it was a fake gem, he added to his costume.
  • The Great Wall: In chapter 39 we see that a fifteen foot high steel chain-link fence has been built around the Everfree, with runes protecting it against rust, wear and tear, and chewing, as well as being magically electrified, with lookout towers and armored guards patrolling the perimeter, and an alarm system that will set off if anything flies over, digs under or tries to squeezes through the fence. Twilight admits that it is more to give Equestria a last minute warning than to keep Vulcan and his horde in.
    • And then Vulcan creates a Magic Mirror Portal Network that allows his forces to sneak in and out of the Everfree to various points throughout Equestria, rendering the fence utterly pointless.
  • Groin Attack: Vulcan nails Mange right in the nads in their first meeting.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Chrysalis vs. Sombra starts like this, and devolves into Volleying Insults. Vulcan snaps them out of it with his own salvo of Incoming Ham.
  • Handicapped Badass: The remedial class pegasi had serious deformities, but that didn't stop them from improvising an explosive and using it to destroy a rogue tornado when their town's weather team wasn't present, even if it did bite them HARD. This is why Vulcan convinces them to join his forces, so he can put them to work in demolitions.
  • Hannibal Lecture: When Princess Luna comes to rough up Vulcan in his jail cell, Vulcan's response is telling her that all Celestia does is treat her like a minion, that she wouldn't have anything without Celestia's permission, and wouldn't even be beating him if Celestia forbade it, and that her control of the moon isn't important since Celestia was able to move it for 1000 years. Luna's response is to hide in her room. Vulcan lampshades how much he is like Hannibal Lecter, and has to restrain himself from calling Celestia "Clarice".
    • Ted himself says that this is the only thing he'd say is his special talent: To look at a person, find their weakness, and tell it to their faces. Notably, since all of his deconstructions come straight from show canon, none of the main cast rebut his arguments. Perhaps even more pitifully, they don't seem particularly willing to listen.
    • Given the way he acts and the fact that he is never telling them such things out of kindness, it is hardly surprising. It doesn't help that he himself isn't particularly inclined to listen to others about his own flaws or do anything to improve them.
    • The fact that he takes pride in breaking people by talking should tell you all you need to know about how big a douchebag Ted really is. He's just telling them all those things to gain a psychological edge or to insult them and feel superior to the ponies.
      • He explicitly narrates the first time we see him do this that he's not proud of it. Whether you believe him is up to you, but he certainly isn't shy about taking advantage of it.
  • Hellish Pupils: As part of his badass upgrade package, Vulcan and Chrysalis enhance Artful Dodger's eyes to give him enhanced sight and night vision, with a side effect being his eyes are now slit-pupiled and glow.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Big Boss, a dragon who obtained a massive hoard of gems by enslaving the Diamond Dogs, is defeated when Vulcan uses his magic to form talons from the gems and metals of that very hoard and smashes him around repeatedly with them. And then, Vulcan seals his mouth and nostrils shut with that treasure, causing the backfire that blows Big Boss' head off.
    • Nearly happens to Ted when the Amulet's tendency to screw up magic screws up the magic that renders Pinkie's cannon relatively harmless, making it not so harmless.
  • Horror Hunger: Thestrals are obligate omnivores, because they have a mix of various bats; they need meat and blood, and crave it. One of the conditions for their return to Equestria, however, was that they were to be absolutely prohibited from having any, and they were told that they should be ashamed of it, and giving in would make them monsters. Of course, medical experts that actually have morals (and don't fear the nobles, that is) agree that it's just harming them, leaving them at one-fifth capacity from starvation. Luna can't do anything, because Celestia doesn't let her for fear of a negative reaction from the public and the nobles. Vulcan, however, sees a golden opportunity... Disturbingly, this hunger is indeed an unnatural one. Luna created them to be this way because she wanted a Super Soldier race loyal to her.
  • A House Divided: Vulcan's Breaking Lectures seem to have successfully driven a bit of a wedge between Celestia and Luna. And it's slowly but steadily growing due to the pressure of trying to deal with all the problems being caused by Vulcan's presence in Equestria.
    • Vulcan has trouble keeping the various groups under his command working together peacefully.
    • As of Chapter 36, Luna no longer trusts Celestia's word or actions. At all. She only stays her hoof from acting because Twilight Sparkle asked her to.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: The Alicorn Amulet doesn't come with an instruction manual...or does it?
  • How We Got Here: The story opens with Vulcan imprisoned in Canterlot and interrogated by the Princesses, with him telling them his story. It takes about twenty chapters for the narrative to catch up.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: Vulcan's natural appearance horrifies the Diamond Dogs, and tales of the darker side of human history traumatize a Royal Guard who asked about Earth.
    • Chapter 20 points out that since Ted comes from a Crapsack World, all the quote-unquote "evil" he does in Equestria (Saturday morning nyaah-curse-you-He-Man shennanigans) is small potatoes compared to what people on Earth do on a daily basis.
    • At least, before he escalated to outright terrorism tactics, subterfuge, and conspiracies to subvert the inhabitants of Equestria into traitors against the nation, things which might get you at least a life sentence in real life and goes so far above Saturday morning villain shenanigans that only his own self delusion keeps him from understanding how far he's really fallen from just being a high school bully. Him choosing not to kill ponies doesn't really help his case at all, only makes the Equestrians not get motivated to do the pragmatic thing and just kill him and all his underlings.
    • Ted's not exactly a mundane human anymore either, since an Artifact of Doom is fused to him and giving him power and advice.
  • Humble Pie: Brutally exaggerated with Diamond Tiara's captivity.
  • Humiliation Conga: Good golly gosh does Diamond Tiara get one. Diamond Dog parenting is hilarious.
  • Hypocrite: Despite believing very strongly in free will, Ted still maintains the geas on the Changelings, effectively depriving them of free will. He probably isn't too bothered because of how they reacted without any control at all. In retrospect, his claims that Celestia was wrong to impose dietary changes on the Thestrals are also rather hypocritical, since he earlier did something similar by making the Changelings take care of pets to get their love fix instead of draining the love of sentient beings. The Changelings don't seem to be suffering any problems yet, but not much time has passed in the fic. The problems with the Thestrals' blood substitute weren't immediately obvious either.
    • Yeah, no. The Changelings were having seizure attacks when their geas were separated from Chrysalis. So it was less of him being a controlling hivemind, to a stable link to ensure they don't fizzle out. Also, the love drain magic that the changelings can do can and will physically, magically and emotionally drain another living being and is thus a danger to all. Ted remedies this by using animal supplements that could potentially give them more due to animals being more emotionally attached to their 'owners', so to speak. Compare that to Celestia who is starving AND shaming the threstals not because of safety, but because the nobles were too scared to think of another thing eating blood and meat. Her response was not to give the proper diet under a well-crafted lie, instead she made them eat the blood substitute that made it very VERY obvious it was harming them.
    • Luna is accused of being one in chapter 44. When she finds Vulcan in Artful's mind she immediatly accuses him of using forbidden magic and called him a vandal and an invader... even though she has been doing the exact same thing for weeks. When Vulcan calls her on this she starts a speech saying that it was her duty to protect ponies' dreams, but Artful was having problem in sleeping because she, the defender of dreams, was spying on his mind. However her plan to put Dodger in Ted's employ to use him as an unwilling mole required Dodger to be the type of "rotten" pony with a chip on his shoulder and authority issues that would sell out his own country to side with an enemy of the state that recklessly endangered thousands of lives to create a distraction to get away, for his own convenience. If Dodger had been shown doing something truly despicable on-screen before his intro, it's likely some readers would be cheering for Luna doing what she did.
    • Ted mocks geeks despite being one himself. The main difference is that he's too afraid of being bullied and mocked by his peers to be open about it.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Luna made the Thestrals specifically because she wanted ponies that were as home in the night as she was and she didn't think existing ponies were suitable for the Night Guard, and also wanted her guard to be unique to her to stand out from her sister's guards.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Vulcan gets completely smashed at the Diamond Dog wake, when it hits home that people have been dying for him.
    • Mayor Mare has this reaction to having to tell her brother that Ponyville doesn't really need to rent his snowplows.
  • I'm a Man, I Can't Help It/A Man Is Not a Virgin: Discussed along with Teens Are Monsters by Darth Vulcan after Artful Dodger realizes that Eiderdown is afraid of him and has no interest in his affections.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Ted's a self-hating geek who suppressed his real interests for years in a vain attempt to be popular while mocking other geeks who didn't prioritize popularity over doing things they actually liked with people they liked. He also engages in overly complex schemes just so he can mock his enemies and feel superior to them. Beneath the whole "Darth Vulcan" facade and the "Ted the jerk" facade, he's a deeply insecure and unhappy person. The evil magical amulet isn't helping either.
  • Insanity Immunity: Ted at first is immune to the Sanity Slippage inducing effects of the Alicorn Amulet because he's already pretty unstable thanks to years of living a lie.
  • Interspecies Adoption: A diamond dog adopts an earth pony foal as her own. Curiously enough, the foal even barks like a dog to get Ted to allow it on sheer cuteness value.
  • Interspecies Romance: Averted. Vulcan is not interested in Chrysalis' offer whatsoever. She does, however, develop a working relationship with Vulcan that evolves into great admiration.
  • It's All About Me: Vulcan doesn't seem to have much time for any view of the world besides his own.
    • How bad is it? Every single "good thing" he's done has always had the end goal of getting more minions/resources rather than out of basic decency and kindness. Even his Thou Shall Not Kill schtick is done not because he's against killing fully, but because he doesn't want the ponies to play hardball on him if he crosses that line.
  • Irony: Ted refuses to let Chrysalis work with him. Guess what happens a few chapters later... Although to be fair he didn't really have a choice.
  • Jerkass: Whatever else can be said about him, Ted's one of the least pleasant characters in the story.
  • Jerkass Has a Point/Villain Has a Point: Ted/Darth Vulcan. He kidnaps, he plunders, and he spits on everything in Equestria. But he's critical of many of the things that many who watch to show find fault with, and even the Princesses can't contest these points. Luna herself agrees that getting blasted by the Elements of Harmony is far from a pleasant experience, for example.
    • However, Ted doesn't make any observations to help the ponies improve, but to make them feel stupid and basically rub in their faces how much superior he is to them, going out of his way to humiliate them without need, even going as far as form up overly complex plans to do so just so that he can have the chance to point and laugh at them later.
  • Jerkass Realization: Diamond Tiara's Break the Haughty experience does this to her, which was Vulcan's point.
    • By the time Luna realized that she was dealing with a teenager with trust, authority, and anger issues instead of a bloodthirsty warlock she could beat up, it was too late to make amends or explain their actions. She got a brutal retort in turn.
  • Justified Criminal: Artful Dodger is an orphan petty thief who stole to survive. And whenever he was caught, rather than the proper authorities trying to rehabilitate him in order to become a productive member of society, it's all but stated that every time they caught him, they'd cut off his horn so he couldn't use his magic to commit robberies for a while, which also left him defenseless against rowdier criminals until it grew back. This treatment is one of the reasons why he tossed in his lot with Ted. As a matter of fact... way too many of Ted's willing minions might count in one way or another.
  • Just Desserts: After Big Boss is defeated, the Diamond Dogs eat the remains. Princess Celestia was horrified when Vulcan told her, and couldn't seem to get it into her head that the Diamond Dogs were in a precarious situation... or that Big Boss had a habit of eating them.
  • Just Shoot Him: Vulcan doesn't do any faffing about when Tirek tries to steal his magic. He whips out a double-barreled shotgun and blows his head open midway through.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: Vulcan pulls this in chapter 42: after discovering that Luna has been Dream Spying on Dodger, he comes up with a plan to hit several targets across Equestria, avoiding the obvious bait of numerous grimoires being held in the royal library. Then he wipes Dodger's memories of this, and tells him a plan to go after the grimoires. While the Royal Guard are concentrated there, his forces go after the other targets... and when they're divided and in disarray, he has Dodger's minion Wolftooth infiltrate the library anyway, and use an enchanted SD chip to copy the grimoires and the entire library.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: How Darth sees his kidnapping and treatment of Diamond Tiara, and how Diamond Tiara ends up seeing it due to an illusion cast by Twilight making her think no one loved her. It's actually averted. Filthy Rich and Silver Spoon spent weeks worrying about what happened to her, and the Crusaders themselves are the ones who help Diamond Tiara recover in the end. Rather than rejoice, the school was closed for weeks since ponies feared another kidnapping.
    • Vulcan's reaction to everything, actually.
    • The destruction of Cirrus and Hilltop. The communities were both run by crooked and incompetent officials. And they also allowed the horrible injustice that was done to the remedial class pegasi just to cover it up even after having saved their lives. After learning of how immoral and racist these communities were, not only will Twilight indict the terrible community leaders, but she denied sending Crown money to rebuild the towns.
      • As for Sundae Sprinkles, the corrupt corrections official put in charge of the remedial class' punishment, and who ruined their lives for being "worthless delinquents," Artful Dodger stops just short of killing him, leaving him crippled in addition to having to face his own criminal charges.
  • Killer Rabbit: Tooth breezies look as harmless as the pollen ones, but can easily overpower a full grown stallion and remove their teeth, with whether or not their victim feels pain entirely dependent on them.
    • A more literal example, Vulcan wasn't taking any chances with Angel Bunny.
    • How Vulcan views the pony race in general due to their cute nature, most especially the thestrals.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Vulcan, of course.
    This guy isn't like you think. He's not clowny like Discord or loud and noisy like Nightmare Moon or wacky crazy like the Mane-iac or Ahuizotl. He's smart. and cold. and hard. He's always thinking, always making plans. And he's scarier than anything I've ever seen.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Ubiquitous. Vulcan likes to point out all the strange, illogical things that happen in the show. Many of them have no real answer, or it is a really stupid answer... however, handles on things and non-hoof-friendly tools are explained as being minotaur-made, given that most species do have hands or claws - that makes it a near-literal Hand Wave. Vulcan is simultaneously amazed and underwhelmed, somehow.
    Darth Vulcan: "That's both surprisingly sensible and vaguely disappointing."
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Changelings produce a substance that can cause they victims to lose select memories, which aids in the changelings' disguises. It's called "Milk of Amnesia"; Ted face plants at the pun.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Big Boss enslaved the Diamond Dogs and ate any that disobeyed. After Vulcan kills him, the dogs eat his corpse.
  • Legion of Doom: Ted has pretty much assembled himself one.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Rainbow Dash's first reaction to Darth entering Ponyville was to clock him on the head. Darth did start a riot by entering Ponyville, and had all the makings of an evil villain, but Rainbow Dash caused a lot more problems with her actions.
  • Lethal Harmless Powers: Ordinarily, Pinkie's Earth pony Strange Magic makes her party cannon completely harmless. But when Vulcan's magic interferes with hers, it means that the cannon now acts like a cannon, so a blast of confetti ends up ''shredding Vulcan's face''. Luckily, his eyes are undamaged.
    • It's due to the cannon being powered by Pinkie's innate magic, which clashes with the amulet's power like Discord's magic did. Pinkie Pie doesn't take it well.
  • Literal Genie: Lampshaded and then Subverted. When the Princesses and Elements summoned Leo they each had to name a characteristic to allow their spell to select a proper Champion. At first it seems that the magic interpreted the choices they made ("big", "good with weapons: swords and shields and stuff", "well-versed in battlefield strategy and tactics", etc), to give them a 400-pound overweight nerd who fights with foam swords and enjoys wargames. Celestia even mentions the "Literal Genie Boundary". It isn't until later that they learn that Leo's fat conceals enough Stout Strength that he throws tree trunks around for fun, his devotion to SCA and LARP means that he's probably the best swordsman anywhere within several hundred miles, and there's probably nobody more willing to fight for the Princesses anywhere on Earth.
    • This is even Deconstructed when it shows how such a thing can be an ADVANTAGE: Pinkie wished for someone with "absolutely no allergies", and Leo just so happened to be resistant to even MANTICORE POISON. By Word of God, Leo's basically immune to poisons and toxins.
  • Magic Mirror: The one from Equestria Girls shows up. Vulcan destroys it so that it can't be used against him, but keeps a shard and experiments with it to create a Portal Network that enables his forces to travel in and out of the Everfree without detection, via a hub on the Moon.
  • Magitek: Ted had several SD chips on him the night he was brought to Equestria. After some experimenting, he manages to enchant one with a transcription spell the ponies normally use for copying books, and uses it to absorb the entire royal library.
    • He also has Flim and Flam inventing things under his supervision. As they're both unicorns, their inventions are likely also examples.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The Alicorn Amulet is sapient and is trying to coax Ted into greater levels of evil.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Ted, which fully disqualifies him from being a proper Noble Demon. It's how he keeps his most useful pony minions under control, pandering to their desires for retribution at a disgrace they suffered and using half truths and misinformations to convince them working with him is the only way they can go. He's so good at this, he's even managed to convince large swaths of the reader base he is always in the right through his incredibly biased narration, and ignore the aforementioned half-truths and misinformations!
  • Man of Kryptonite: The reason why Ted/Vulcan is dangerous to even Discord is because the Amulet makes the former this trope against the latter specifically.
  • Mask of Sanity: Ted. His is so good he doesn't even know he has it. See Through the Eyes of Madness below for details.
  • Medieval Stasis: Vulcan lampshades this as being in effect in Equestria, and ultimately realizes that it's a side effect of being ruled by immortal near-goddesses — Celestia and Luna would be hesitant to change things from what they remember when they were young, and due to their (intentional and unintentional) influence on society, all it takes is the slightest hint of dissatisfaction or boredom with an idea for the general populace to discard or outright ignore it.
  • Mle Trois: The battle in the Everfree Castle is fought between Vulcan's forces, Chrysalis' changelings, and Sombra's mind controlled minions. And that's before the Princesses and Royal Guard show up.
  • Mind Rape: What Darth Vulcan believes is the way the Princesses maintain peace. Getting hit with the Elements of Harmony, Luna's dream-walking, and learning about Twilight's mind changing spells only confirm this to him, and prevent the Mane 6 from earning his trust. However, it is later stated that magic can't actually alter a mind permanently.
    • After Luna's conversation with Vulcan, she's left doubting whether the Elements only purged her demonic influence or altered her personality as well.
    • Vulcan pulls this on a guard. He describes human atrocities, starting with the Holocaust and gets to a description of an abortive surgery before the guard is a screaming wreck.
    • This is also how Vulcan gets back at Luna for her method of spying on him: he lures Luna into his dream instead of Dodger's, traps her there while he has a deep, drug-induced sleep, and bombards her with every disturbing Internet meme he knows AND HIS DRUGGED NIGHTMARES.
    • It's implied that years of pretending to be someone he wasn't did this to Ted, making him a self-inflicted case.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: A group of handicapped pegasi endured a terrible one: a rogue tornado from the Everfree forest was about to destroy an Earth pony town so they flew into the storm and destroyed it. They did do some minor damage to an upper class Pegasus town, but the town's officials, rather than thank them, threw charges at them to cover up for their own incompetence, gave them no legal representation or help from their families, and forced them into 5 years of community service in exchange for dropping the fallacious charges, when the maximum time should have been 1 year. Their supervisor was a Social Darwinist pegasus who constantly abused them and lorded over their lives, and any complaints against him were ignored. And after the sentence was fulfilled, the supervisor revealed their criminal charges at their graduation, blacklisting them from any decent career, and causing one of the pegasi to have their filly taken away by the courts.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Ted blames his humiliation at the Halloween party on the existence of the show and its fanbase and expresses a desire to destroy the setting of the show in his rant. It would be more appropriate for him to blame the negative environment (to which he contributed) at his school that makes people into pariahs for trivial reasons.
  • Mistaken for Badass: Believe it or not, TED. Everything started because they mistook him for an actual evil overlord and then everything went downhill when he started to actually try to be one. And because of how he's ran circles across them, at least one character ponders if Ted comes from a world of criminal masterminds. They don't seem to grasp that their enemy, who has made them all look like fools, only has grounding in tactics due to real time strategy computer games and tabletop rpg campaigns without any actual education in real life battlefield tactics. While he does have talent for putting together plans and tactics, part of the reason for his successes has to do with the fact that the ponies don't have the experience in dealing with the sort of plans he makes, much less with prolonged situations instead of one-hit-wins, and don't have access to concepts and ideas that have not taken root in their world, but have on Earth.
  • Monumental Battle: In-universe, the Everfree Castle.
  • Monumental Damage: Canterlot Castle is undermined due to the damage done by Vulcan's escape in the old caves, and falls off the mountain into the lake below.
  • Mook Lieutenant: Runt, Mange, and Skank become leaders of Vulcan's Diamond Dog Mooks.
    • Black Fang is the commander of the Changelings who change loyalties to Vulcan.
    • Artful Dodger is recruited from Vulcan's new con pony minions to serve as his Number Two. Following a few magical upgrades, he's now arguably The Dragon.
    • Dodger gets his own lieutenant in the form of Wolftooth, the leader of the Tooth Breezies who pledge themselves to Dodger's service.
    • There's also Pumpkin Patch, who acts as the chief representative of the thestrals who pledge themselves to Vulcan.
    • Ironside is the leader of the Minotaurs loyal to him.
    • Charcoal is in charge of the ex-con ponies.
    • Eiderdown is the leader of remedial pegasi, or at the very least the closest they have to one.
  • Moral Myopia: Ted acts like he's justified in everything he does to the ponies just because they beat the crap out of him in their official first contact, ignoring the fact that he was trying to act the part of an over the top evil villain out to coerce and terrorize the ponies, thinking they wouldn't fight back, for not other reason than his own amusement, but instead they reacted to the presented threat like the real deal as might happen in real life. Also Artful Dodger; he is angry at Luna because of her using him as a reverse mole against his will, while ignoring the fact that she wouldn't have picked him if he wasn't the kind of bitter jerk that would have willingly sold out to an enemy of the country for a cut of the pie.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Averted with Doctor Sawbones. Yeah, he works for Vulcan and helps the Diamond Dogs, but only because of his dedication in treating any sick or wounded creature, and is disgusted with how superstition has prevented thestrals from being adequately nourished with the blood they need to survive.
  • More Than Mind Control: Some of the changelings serve Chrysalis not because of the geas, but because they think she's hot.
    • Possibly Ted and the Alicorn Amulet itself, with us wondering if "Ted the Jerk" is really the actual Ted.
  • Mundane Utility: The Alicorn Amulet has spells for fireballs, weather control, form manipulation, teleportation... as well as spells for transcribing books and cleaning up hangovers.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When Ted realizes that Diamond Dogs have died under his watch, he finally realizes just how serious things have gotten for him. He then joins them in mourning the dead.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: The Breezies we see in the show are this to the Tooth Breezies. They found the use of teeth for their magic distasteful and left the tribe, choosing to use pollen magic instead. The result is they are far weaker than the tooth using tribe. The Tooth Breezies consider them to be 'wussies' and weak, even spitting in disgust when being compared to them.
  • Nerd in Evil's Helmet: Ted, though he spent years pretending that side of him didn't exist.
  • Never Found the Body: Vulcan lampshades this when the Princesses reveal that they didn't find Chrysalis, Sombra or his chief minions after the battle in the old castle. Two out of three so far, he's been proven right.
    • Not that it was ever stated in universe that either was gone forever.
    • When he first learns of the changelings and their defeat, he asks if Chrysalis died; since the response was this trope, he assumes she was still at large and prepared for the worst. Then the battle at the Everfree Castle happened, proving him right.
  • Never Live It Down: Rainbow Dash is a little touchy about anypony bringing up that she provoked Darth Vulcan by assaulting him when he walked into Ponyville and demanded to know where he could find Twilight.
  • Never My Fault:
    • Luna suffers from this to some degree. While Celestia might have dropped the ball in regards to how the thestrals were treated by the rest of the populace and the prohibition to them drinking blood under any circumstances, it was Luna's decision to insert vampire bat DNA into the Thestral Genome for the sake of "robustness" that that led to them craving blood in the first place, which gave an excuse for others to reject them and led to them being ostracized like they were. Considering that Ponies have been seen fishing, ostensibly to feed their carnivorous pets, the possibility exists that no one would have batted an eye if their craving was for fish if Luna had stuck to Fishing Bats, instead of adding Vampire Bats to the mix, as the blood drinking aspect of the thestrals in this continuity is the biggest reason for their ostracization.
    • Ted is, by far, the worst offender in the story. He's so eager to paint the ponies in the wrong and himself in the right, that he can't grasp that it was his decision to play the part of the scary villain in order to gather information to get home, complete with some "harmless" arson in order to bully them into full compliance by terrorizing what he perceived to be wussies that would be afraid of Harmless Villain type characters simply because it amused him to do things that way, instead of taking off the scary helmet, leaving the minions away, and trying to ASK for help like a sensible person, that caused him to get on everypony's bad side. No one has yet pointed out this fact to him. Also, it never occurs to him that the Tree of Harmony wouldn't have been in immediate danger if he hadn't been poking around in the Castle of the Sisters, as the Changelings and King Sombra wouldn't have gone there if they hadn't followed him there.
      • To be fair on the situation of the Tree of Harmony, it's unlikely Ted could have known that Sombra and Chrysalis would not have found it without him being there.
    • Celestia is also in on the mayhem. A lot of the mistakes and corruptions she's allowed to fester and grow have been blowing up in her face ever since Ted came to her nation. Rather than acknowledge she messed up, she tried finding a way to blame Darth Vulcan of causing things to fall apart like they are on purpose.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Twilight throwing the Alicorn Amulet into the Void is how it found its way to Ted, leading it to bringing him to Equestria and him becoming Darth Vulcan.
    • The Mane Six and the Princesses act less than cordially to Vulcan on their first meetings, leading to him viewing them as Mind Raping monsters.
      • Ted presented himself as a villainous overlord from the first act for his own amusement and the ponies reacted like he was the real thing, which he later became out of pure spite when it would have been more practical to stop being an asshole and let the ponies help him. He was also using a dangerous magical artifact known to warp minds, so they had good reason to believe the Alicorn Amulet was twisting his mind. They are also concerned for his sanity, something that tellingly, he isn't, even after being told outright that his mind was split in half with his true self being buried beneath the asshole personality he presents to the world.
    • Filthy Rich's betrayal of Darth Vulcan when he wanted to purchase supplies resulted in Diamond Tiara being kidnapped, and Ponyville being looted.
    • Luna attacks Vulcan in a frenzy while he escapes from Canterlot. She ends up collapsing some of the tunnels the Diamond Dogs dug to get Vulcan out, and the loss of foundation causes Canterlot Castle to fall from the mountain.
      • It should be noted, however, that Ted deliberately sent a power pulse to finish toppling the castle.
    • Vulcan is quick to point out all the times that the heroes have made mistakes.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Diamond Tiara's time as Vulcan's captive gave her insights into his tendency to plan around belittling his enemies, which coupled with her knack for organization and newfound humility leads to her advising the Princesses with near perfect accuracy on what Darth Vulcan's next move may be.
  • Noble Demon: Darth Vulcan/Ted tries to play at this, but falls short. A true Noble Demon wouldn't bother with petty revenge and trying to show up the ponies like he does, and he actively tries not to be a good person, and attempts to excuse even honestly kind acts as pragmatism because he'd rather seem like a tough guy rather than be a moral person.
    • Him ordering his dogs not to kill when they plunder Ponyville, makes the claim of not wanting to inspire the ponies to get rough and kill him in retaliation, instead of because he finds killing to be wrong, and while he orders the dogs not to enslave ponies he doesn't explain why slavery is wrong to try and curb the habit/tradition.
    • The hostage he returns, Diamond Tiara, is not unharmed, but has suffered through systemic abuse, leaving her a broken shell of what she used to be.
    • Although Ted believes strongly in keeping one's word, it's only when he's on the receiving end of a double cross that he cares, as he has no qualms about turning ponies into traitors against Equestria, several of whom were in the armed forces and had taken an oath of loyalty to the crown.
      • He does point this out to Jetstream and his fellow defectors; they respond that their oath to Celestia was worthless, as it was given under duress.
    • When he finds the Tree of Harmony, his first reaction is not to take control of it but run away and try to find a way to keep it secure from Chrysalis and Sombra. Arguably his only truly selfless act... but the Tree of Harmony wouldn't have been in danger in the first place if he hadn't been poking around the Castle of the sisters, as his presence is what drew the dangers there.
    • When the Diamond Dogs mourn their dead, he is horrified by the deaths under his command, and joins them in mourning. Up until the Diamond Dog Wake, he thought the universe he was in would bend over backwards in order to keep the inhabitants of the world from dying and keep it's 'Y7 child friendly nature' intact.
      • According to the author, the destruction of Cirrus/Hilltop was done mostly out of sympathy for the Remedial Class Pegasi. That being said, he also stated that the injustice they suffered could have been cleared without any bit of property damage or even directly involving himself like he did.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Eiderdown and her friends suffered greatly for an act of heroism. See Miscarriage of Justice
  • "No. Just... No" Reaction: Vulcan's reaction to Chrysalis propositioning him.
  • Noodle Incident: Ponies being irresponsible with portals to the Void is something that has happened before, much to Luna's annoyance. Apparently, somebody used the Void as garbage disposal because supposedly the odds of anything hitting something are infinitesimal. Either the Void plays by other rules, or the unicorn was just unlucky enough for his garbage to piss off a Shoggoth.
  • No Sell: The Elements of Harmony have no effect on Vulcan, because as Luna points out, he's not corrupted.
    • Vulcan and Discord's powers cancel each other out.
    • Tirek absorbs any magic attack thrown at him. Firearms, however, work very well against him.
  • Not Brainwashed: The Mane 6 blast Darth Vulcan with the Elements of Harmony, believing him to be corrupted by the Alicorn Amulet. Not only is he not corrupted, he believes the Mane 6 were trying to brainwash him. Later chapters hint that the Amulet is starting to corrupt him. Unfortunately for him, he already dealt with the Elements.
    • Even worse, it's hinted that his mind was already warped to the point his original non-asshole personality was buried within after the effort to fit in with the in-crowd, meaning that Ted had already corrupted HIMSELF before putting on the dread piece of jewelry.
  • Not So Weak: Tooth Breezies might appear as frail and puny to their pollen gathering counterparts, but are about ten to twenty times stronger than they are.
  • Oh Crap!: Tirek gets one when he sees a two barrel shotgun pressed on his face.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Zecora in this story turns out to be from West Fillydelphia. She played to the mystic shaman stereotype to be taken seriously as a herbalist/healer in spite of being the bona fide thing. She stops her rhyming completely and returns to her natural accent after the first accidental encounter with Ted blows her cover.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Artful Dodger is discussing showering with Eiderdown and starts speaking before thinking.
    You could literally see the words travelling from his mouth, to his own ears, and from thence to his brain. His eyes went round for a second. "Once. One. At a time, that is. Not that there isn't enough room for two. Heh. I mean—- I'll go first, that way you kin take your time. Afterward. By yourself." He literally shoved his own hoof in his mouth to shut himself up. He bit down on his hoof for a second then spoke around it. "G-g-give you time to, uh, pretty yourself up afterward...."
  • Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Averted and brutally deconstructed. One of Ted's many criticisms of Equestria is that this is how the cast treats everything important: Villains, important artifacts, ENTIRE NATIONS...
    • To start with, the Alicorn Amulet comes back and bites everyone in Equestria back a big way.
    • Likewise with the Changelings. As Twilight notes, ponies pretty much forgot about them after the Canterlot Wedding, and now they're working for Vulcan.
    • Vulcan points out how this is a terrible idea (in his usual way) while asking if he's going to get the same treatment.
  • Outside-Context Villain: This is one of the reasons why the ponies have had so much trouble with Ted. They are used to villains they can just deal with in one strike and usually don't plan much beyond throwing power around to deal with the heroes, so when they encounter someone who actually plans ahead and has picked up basic tactics from different entertainment media that can be applied to real life situations, and can actually make good guesses regarding how the heroes will react and plan accordingly... they are completely ineffective because they just don't have the experience of dealing with prolonged situations or of someone that isn't consumed by their own ego to the point they make stupid mistakes that the heroes can exploit and use to win the day.
    • Outside Context Hero: Celestia hopes that by summoning heroes from Earth, they can find a way to beat Ted/Vulcan, as they hope that someone from the same world will be familiar enough with Ted's mindset to be able to at least help them understand and make their own counter tactics themselves to deal with him.
  • Palette Swap: To tell his own Changelings apart from Chysalis', Vulcan changes their appearance to shades of red.
  • The Paranoiac: Tim. Good God, Tim.
  • Parental Substitute: Chrysalis, at least, jokingly sees Vulcan as becoming this to Artful Dodger.
  • Pass the Popcorn: When Vulcan assigns Eiderdown to serve Dodger, as her way of paying off her debt to Vulcan, he and Chrysalis decide to enjoy some nachos while watching Dodger's attempts at dealing with his crush on her.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Darth Vulcan fully believes in doing this. Case in point: destroying the towns of Cirrus and Hilltop for ruining the lives of the pegasi who stopped a tornado from blowing them all away.
    • The author, however, was clear in saying that all the paying evil unto evil he does is largely unnecessary and overly excessive.
  • Pet the Dog: Literally, whenever Vulcan acts kindly to the Diamond Dogs.
    • He suggests that the changelings under his command learn to pet rabbits and other creatures to get the affection they need to survive.
  • Psychic Strangle: While first testing his new powers, Vulcan can't help but channel Darth Vader and uses this to hunt.
  • Pity the Kidnapper: Attempted by Diamond Tiara while she's held hostage by Vulcan. The typical result of this trope is averted brutally when Vulcan's response is to escalate D.T.'s humiliation and mistreatment until she couldn't take it anymore. Vulcan later says that this trope doesn't really work in real life, for the reasons he had just demonstrated.
  • Playing with Fire: Vulcan likes to resort to Kill It with Fire several times (even if it didn't pan out against Big Boss), he also fireproofed himself; Shining Armor's shield is a confined space, Shining Armor is not fireproof. Do the math. Shining only survived because Vulcan is a Genre Savvy pragmatic villain that didn't want to kill him to prevent extreme retaliation against him.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Vulcan is scared of the Tree of Harmony's power, and not only avoids messing with it, but is quick to take steps to stop anyone else from doing so. He also avoids murder to not motivate his opponents to play hardball with him.
  • Precocious Crush: All the fillies in Ponyville have a crush on Shining Armor. When Spike points out that he's married, they reply that they know, they just like to look.
  • Primal Fear: Being eaten alive. Chrysalis was on the verge of being eaten, and her scream of utter terror, along with Vulcan acknowledging the horror of the situation, manages to get him to interfere - despite freely admitting that he would be the first one in line to cause that to happen if the circumstances were different. Discussed later when he's recounting the event to Celestia; he remembers it's one of the most frequent nightmares on Earth, and Luna confirms the same for Equestria.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Discussed. When the heroes discuss how Darth Vulcan has the loyalty of his dogs, Rarity points out it's only because he keeps them well fed. However, Shining rightly points out that only taking care of a pack that size is no small feat, and that nobody had ever cared about them before.
  • Punctuated Pounding: Vulcan does this to the Everfree Castle's traps.
    Vulcan: All this—" explosion "—crap I have to deal with—" detonation— " 'I say, Princess Sparkle Mc Fluffypoo, we have a small mountain of weapons and magic tomes and super-special ancient artifacts—-" disintegrate "— perhaps we should lock them up in a vault someplace safe?" fireball "Why no, don't be ridiculous! Let's take them and—" bigger explosion "—- stick them in a collapsing condemned building—" eruption "— out in the middle of a wilderness—" defenestration "— and fill it full of booby traps!
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Done to Ponyville, or at least the pillage part.
    • Vulcan's forces later do parts two and three to an upper class Pegasus town and an Earth pony village, to avenge a group of pegasi who saved these towns from a rogue tornado and in return lost everything. Ted was much more thorough this time, too - the enchantments holding the cloud town fell apart, and the earth village fell in a sink hole after mining teams destroyed its foundations.
  • Red Shirt Army: The tribe of Diamond Dogs Ted takes over.
  • Reality Ensues: Vulcan convinced himself that because of the "TV-Y7" nature of Equestria, there wouldn't be any death as a result of the wanton destruction resulting from his actions. He's horrified when he realizes that people, specifically HIS people, really have been dying.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Darth Vulcan seems to be this as it tends to work a lot better than being a Bad Boss. However, a lot of it is a ruse to keep his minions under control and pure pragmatism rather than actually being reasonable. He didn't escalate the situation to its current form by actually BEING truly reasonable.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Vulcan delivers these to Celestia and the Mane Six like nobody's business.
    • He also gives one to Chrysalis, explaining just how flawed her invasion plan was.
    • Twilight ends up giving one to the Cirrus/Hilltop officials after she and the other princesses find out what happened to the remedial pegasi.
  • Rescue Romance: Mixed with Asskicking Equals Authority and played for laughs — as per changeling society, since Vulcan not only dominated Chrysalis in battle but saved her from some plunder vines conjured by Sombra, she's now fixated on him as a potential mate.
  • Revenge: While Eiderdown goes to Vulcan mostly for help for everything she and her friends went through, she's goaded into admitting that this is what she really wants. And when Vulcan delivers, she admits that while she feels bad for any of the innocents who got caught in the crossfire, she mostly just feels vindicated.
  • Reverse Mole: Artful Dodger is an unwitting one, as Luna plants a psychic backdoor in his mind before he escapes prison and uses that to spy on Vulcan's forces. Dodger is horrified and angry when he realizes this.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Subverted. Turns out Zecora actually speaks in a West Fillydelphia accent; the rhyming and Darkest Africa routine are just an act designed so that ponies take her and her skills seriously.
  • Right-Hand Attack Dog: Deadwood, Vulcan's timberwarg mount.
  • Right Under Their Noses: Chrysalis tries this with Vulcan.
    • Vulcan gets the Elements of Harmony by sending Changelings that look like the Mane Six to Ponyville to take them.
  • Rule of Three: The summoning magic Celestia uses to bring a Champion to Equestria to deal with Vulcan is so complex, she can only pull it off three times in a Solar Year.
  • Sanity Slippage: The Alicorn Amulet should be doing this to Ted. The fact that it seemingly isn't is a cause for concern in-universe. It's implied by certain statements by the author and a few hints in the narrative that this already happened before Ted came to Equestria.
  • Scars Are Forever: Ted is left heavily scarred after taking a blast in the face from Pinkie's party cannon. Though he notes that he can probably fix the cosmetic damage with magic if he needs to.
  • Scary Impractical Armor: Ted's outfit. The official artwork makes him look more like a Chaos Space Marine rather than a Darth Vader Clone.
  • Schizo Tech: Vulcan is rather confused by the varying levels of technology in Equestria.
  • Screams Like A Filly: Apparently, Shining Armor - or so Vulcan said - after getting caught inside a fireball inside his own shield.
    • Vulcan admits he screamed when he saw a changeling for the first time, and on a number of other occasions.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When Discord realizes that his powers don't work on Vulcan, he runs away.
  • Series Continuity Error: A small one, but when Cadence is listing all the reasons why teenagers like Ted are so full of anger, she mentions the loss of innocence, including finding out that Santa Hooves and the Tooth Breezy aren't real. Flashforward about twenty chapters or so, and we find out that tooth breezies are an entire subspecies of the breezy race.
    • Averted Trope: The Tooth Breezies pretty much state that they were left for dead and forgotten, and Cadence not thinking the Tooth Breezies were real means that they were relegated to nothing but myth after several centuries due to their survival/existence being unknown.
  • Shout-Out: Now with its own page
  • Sinister Surveillance: Early on Vulcan creates a spell (in the form of floating eyes) that allows him to spy on events in and around his territory.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: Flim and Flam, of course; however, what's interesting is that they deliberately invoke this. They started out with honest intentions of revolutionizing Equestria with their amazing inventions, but became so frustrated by everyone treating their marvelous works like junk, they decided to just peddle junk.
  • Sorcerous Overlord: Ted/Vulcan
  • Spiders Are Scary: The aptly-named Nope Spiders play this as straight as possible by being hand-sized with glowing red eyes and skull patterns on their backs.
  • Spider Swarm: Artful Dodger punishes a stallion for molesting Eiderdown with a dose of Nightmare Mist. The stallion's worst fear is a horde of spiders crawling all over him.
    • Dodger later saves the tooth breezies from a real spider swarm, earning their loyalty.
  • Story-Breaker Power: Discord has the power to solve any problem. Making Vulcan immune to Discord's power makes the story go on longer.
  • Stout Strength: Leo looks like a fat, stereotypical LARP nerd, but he's strong enough to fight a Manticore by tackling it and wielding a fallen log as a cudgel. He mentioned that he was going to enter the Caber Toss (a Highland Game that boils down to "shot-put with telephone poles") at the Renaissance Faire he got summoned from.
  • Straw Vegetarian: Vulcan tells stories about an overly-righteous vegetarian as a parallel for the problems of carnivores like Thestrals trying to live as herbivores. The first had the vegetarian's cat die because she only fed it vegetables and ignored the vet's advice that it needed meat. Then second had the same girl switching out the sugar water in a hummingbird feeder for a calorie-free substitute, and since the birds weren't getting the calories they needed to live, they ended up starving with full stomachs. Vulcan then reveals that this vegetarian was in fact his cousin. Subverted by the fact that these are real life stories. The hummingbird incident was only reported once, but cases of cats and kittens dying of malnutrition on vegan diets are a regular occurrence.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: The current plan (as of chapter 46) for dealing with Vulcan is to try to Summon a Hero from Earth. A plan cooked up immediately after being told that Vulcan can't be taken out with One Swift Stroke tactics by Diamond Tiara, in the hopes of at least distracting Darth from other measures.
  • Summon Everyman Hero: Their first champion is a fat LARP nerd. "A big feller", "someone good with swords and shields", "a veteran of many campaigns" indeed. Subverted to hell in that although he may not look it, it turns out that fat LARP nerd, named Leo Hart, is trained in actual medieval weaponry (best man-of-arms in the tri-state area, according to him) and has Stout Strength, to the point he had considered signing up for the Caber toss at the RenFaire he was at before being summoned and, per Pinkie's request, is immune to all sorts of poisons and toxins.
  • Supernatural Is Purple: Vulcan is shown to constantly weep purple and green fire, not unlike Sombra.
  • Super Soldier: Luna created the Thestrals for this purpose. Well-fed Thestrals are far more robust than the average pony.
  • Survival Mantra: Diamond Tiara develops one while being kept as Darth's hostage.
    Diamond Tiara: "My Daddy's coming to get me..."
  • Surrounded by Idiots: How Vulcan clearly felt with the Diamond Dogs.
    Vulcan: "Skank, I swear, one of these days you're going to pick your nose and your head's gonna cave in."
  • Sword Fight: Vulcan has one with Sombra in the ruins of the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters. However, it's somewhat played for laughs, given that Vulcan has no skill or experience with swordplay and his blade is far too heavy to wield properly, while Sombra is a miniature horse with little experience in physical combat who has to wield his sword in his mouth. Vulcan even lampshades that the fight must look more ridiculous than epic.
    We ran around waving our pointy sticks at each other like two men trying to kill a snake in a phone booth.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: Ted's mostly sympathetic because he's the POV character in a good number of chapters. Without that look into his mind, he's basically a city-wrecking, kidnapping, filly-drowning, house-burning jerk wielding a dangerous Artifact of Doom who keeps insulting everyone not on his side. The company he keeps isn't helping matters: the Diamond Dogs (slavers), the Changelings (emotion eaters who recently attacked the capital), and the outcasts and criminals of Equestrian society. It gets worse when you put together the clue told by Cadence back when he was captured regarding his actual mental state and the specific wording regarding his origin story used by the author. Much worse.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: One of the reasons the good guys are having so much trouble with Ted is because they have come to realize that he's a sad, screwed up kid. They want to stop him, but they also want to save him.
  • Take Over the World: Subverted. Vulcan has no desire to rule Equestria's world, and he knows that while his magic might give him a temporary edge on Earth if he ever got back, human military technology would ultimately overwhelm him.
  • Take That: Everything about Cirrus/Hilltop and the Remedial pegasi is a massive one to Fluttershy's alternate origin in A Minor Variation.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: On a national scale. One of the reasons the Diamond Dogs are loyal to Ted/Vulcan is that he provides for them when they've been going to bed hungry for as long as they can remember.
    • Vulcan's plan to recruit thestrals is to feed them well too - specifically, the blood they need to live, but everyone else tells them is a mental illness to want. It's likened to telling someone they're addicted to vitamin C and they're a monster for eating an orange.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Ted was a pretty troubled teenager even before he ended up in Equestria. Being trapped in a setting he already hated, getting on the wrong side of just about everybody and the Alicorn Amulet's own increasingly strong influence on him aren't improving matters.
  • Telephone Polearm: Leo has little to no problem lifting a tree trunk and using it to clobber a hallucinating manticore bigger than himself.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Flim and Flam started out as honest businessponies, but when nobody wanted to use their inventions they became con men because, in their words "why NOT sell them junk, if that's how they're going to treat everything we invent?"
  • The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: Ted. Should be noted this happened in his backstory BEFORE the amulet and might tie in with why the Amulet doesn't affect him normally, and no magic was involved at all.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Ted. The author's revealed backstory and a line by one of the Princesses that his "True Self" was suffering and appalled at all that the harmful things he was doing, give strong implications that Ted is in fact suffering from an odd variant of disassociative personality disorder, with the original personality of Ted the Geek being sealed away while Ted the Jerk serves as the Host Personality currently in charge. This means that his sanity was already deteriorated BEFORE he even put on the amulet. With how easily he justified arson for the sake of a cheap distraction or not even bothering to help rescue ponies at risk of falling to their deaths just to get away, even creating the situation that lead to said falls in the first place, and it becomes clear that Ted was never as sane as he pretends to be. His sanity is being deteriorated even further, as seen by how he keeps upping the ante on the sort of things he does and all but nearly killed Artful Dodger for a perceived betrayal. Considering that Ted is against killing, this means he's close to really going over the edge.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: Lampshaded by Vulcan, who upon revealing his true name to Celestia, tells her that he used an alias because no one would be scared of "the Dread Sorcerer Ted".
  • Too Clever by Half: One of Ted's Fatal Flaws. All of his plans bank on his belief in his own superiority over the ponies to come ahead of them. However, the Ponies are stepping up their game slowly and during his latest scheme they nearly got him. The author is clearly setting him up for a big fall if you know how he feels about villain protagonists or villains in general, no matter what some fans believe.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Vulcan, with some help from Chrysalis enables one of these for his undersized and underpowered apprentice Artful Dodger, equipping him with various charms, artifacts, and spells in order to make himself, if not a powerhouse, a more formidable opponent.
  • Token Good Teammate: Eiderdown and her friends seem to be the least evil members of Darth Vulcan's crew, and even Eiderdown is more motivated by a desire for revenge than for justice.
  • Truth in Television: Darth Vulcan describes an incident where a vegan killed her cat feeding it a vegan diet, and another where she killed a flock of hummingbirds feeding them Nutrasweet. These are based on real life events. The vegan cat food incident actually occurs depressingly regularly in real life.
    • Leo being Acrofatic actually refers to real life power lifters.
  • Tranquil Fury: When Artful Dodger steals Chrysalis's underwear, she remains calm. She also tells him that if he does it again she'll pull his reproductive system out through his nose.
    • When Celestia finds out what happened to the Cirrus/Hilltop remedial pegasi, the only indication of her rage is her face darkening and her saying Twilight should handle this because she thinks she won't be able to control herself if she dealt with them herself.
  • Uncanny Valley: In-Universe, Vulcan discusses this trope and how it's at play for him in Equestria in general.
    • More specifically, this is also his reaction to Chrysalis' attempt at taking on human form.
  • Underestimating Badassery: This happens to Cadence and Shining Armor a lot. But as is pointed out, Cadence is still an alicorn, Shining Armor is one of the two most powerful unicorns of his generation, each is capable of shielding a city for days on end (in Shining's case, while Chrysalis was sucking him dry), and combined, even the dregs of their power was able to repel an entire Changeling invasion from Canterlot.
    • Ted is underestimating the Ponies' badassery in general, as he arrogantly believes nothing they do can touch him. They're slowly stepping up their game instead.
  • Undying Loyalty: Vulcan's Diamond Dog troops, due to him freeing them from Big Boss and treating them better than any leader they've ever had.
    • Dodger later gains this from the tooth breezies, after saving them from a Spider Swarm.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Ted says that Rainbow Dash has a squeaky voice, instead of the rough, scratchy voice that tends to crack she actually has. Word of God says to Ted it sounds squeaky.
    • In a later chapter, he says normal changelings are "murky green" instead of blue and dark grey.
    • He is very unreliable by default due to the fact that he will never admit his own fault in his own problems and would instead try to pin his misfortunes solely on the ponies.
  • Vegetarian Vampire: Subverted. Thestrals need to drink blood but the House of Lords forced them to subsist on an alchemic substitute that just barely keeps them alive. Ted offers real blood to recruit Thestrals, comparing their treatment to a vegan feeding a kitten tofu. Twilight responds by replacing the Night Guards' fake blood ration with a "new formula" that's secretly real blood and food coloring. Luna takes her personal guard down to the royal chicken coop and tells them to chow down.
    • Ironically, he suggests that the Changelings become this by suggesting that they pet bunnies to satiate their appetite for love.
  • Villain Protagonist: Darth Vulcan/Ted.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Hilariously or disturbingly averted depending on if you are a reader or the writer. The author expected the readers to grasp that Ted's POV is very biased and faulty and should be taken with a grain of salt, left several hints that Ted's sanity was not all where it seems to be, and understand that Ted's escalation of the situation isn't healthy and the problems he's uncovered in Equestria had sensible solutions to them and what he does to deal with them isn't right. But instead, Ted has a huge fanbase that takes every word out of his mouth as gospel truth, paint him as some sort of anti-hero out to fix Equestria's hidden problems (he isn't, he just likes to rub it in their faces how stupid they are that they couldn't solve them), and go out of their way to justify every asshole action he's taken as being the fault of the ponies rather than understand that Ted is the cause of his own problems. Those same readers have also not made a single comment or speculation regarding the activation of the Alicorn Amulet after Ted basically vowed to burn Equestria to the ground and what it could mean for the plot...
  • Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: When Celestia calls Ted out on setting fire to Ponyville homes, he dismisses it by saying they were only little fires and that it's not like he blew up the houses.
  • Warrior Therapist: This is the one thing Ted believes he excels at, and considering that he can rattle even Celestia, he's right. Deducing and pointing out others' failings gives him an edge in battle, but ironically he's blind to most of his own faults.
    • He dabbles in the trope's benevolent side when he advises Artful Dodger on how to treat Eiderdown.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back: After Diamond Tiara is kidnapped, even the Cutie Mark Crusaders, who she had bullied near-constantly before, want to help look for her.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Vulcan hands these out alongside his "The Reason You Suck" Speeches.
  • What the Hell, Townspeople?: The remedial class pegasi save Hilltop/Cirrus from a rogue tornado by using a makeshift bomb to disperse it. The town thanks them by making their lives absolute hell for it because it caused minor damages throughout town.
    • The whole town was like this well before the remedials incident—the town's primary source of income was funds from various crown relief projects; they moved Cirrus over Hilltop in the first place to get special dual-city status; their remedial program was a dumping ground for even slightly bad students because the crown funds for it depended on how full it was; and the whole reason the tornado happened at all was because the weather patrol in the area was barely even a skeleton crew, which again was so they could get a generous relief fund from the crown, much of which was placed in politicians' pockets. When Vulcan's raid on the town reveals all this, not only are all of the town's politicians indicted, but Twilight cuts off crown funding to the towns altogether.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Sadly subverted: The Diamond Dogs mourn the loss of their comrades who were killed either by Big Boss, or in many of Darth Vulcan's activities with a massive ceremony. Darth himself feels guilty about not recognizing how many dogs died under his command, and joins the dogs in their mourning.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Subverted. While Vulcan does admit that the changelings look like monsters, upon closer inspection he finds it to be in an infantile, goofy sort of way right at home in a childrens' show; he also Lampshades humanity's tendency to throw affection at anything. Anything. (So long as you can reach the right audience.) He also suspects that a quivering lip, a sad plea, and "big dewy foal eyes" would have been enough to win the Equestrians over, making them love (and thus feed and help) the changelings, even without using Voluntary Shapeshifting.
  • White and Grey Morality: The Princesses and the Mane 6 vs an empowered Jerkass teenager who, while undoubtedly a criminal, is a Noble Demon with a code of ethics who consciously avoids lines like murder and mind control.
    • White And Black Morality: His code of ethics is a flimsy laundry list he doesn't understand himself, he avoids taking life not out of basic decency, but to avoid enraging the ponies enough to make them attempt killing him in retribution, and while he doesn't do mind control, he instead manipulates useful pony minions by making them believe that serving him is the only way, by giving them his own twisted assumptions about what the authorities will do to them for dealing with him in the first place (the remedial class pegasi, whom he told Celestia would use as scapegoats to pacify the populace), or witholding information from them to prevent them from making a truly informed choice regarding whether to serve him or leave and inflaming their anger at past misdeeds to make them not consider any other alternatives (Ted knew the new blood supplement was actually real blood with food coloring, and implied it was another attempt at making fake blood again while tossing a few reminders regarding how they were hurt before, all to get them to NOT leave him). He's closer to the black spectrum than he is gray, and getting even closer the more he stays a villain, as shown when he nearly strangled Artful Dodger, arguably his only friend in Equestria, over a perceived betrayal. While the Alicorn Amulet did have some influence, the way the amulet does things is by coaxing Ted into doing things he feels he wants to do and giving a little push....
    • Grey and Black Morality: Approaches this in a few points when Ted is pitted against the worst spots of the corruption that's crept into Equestria.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Even by My Little Pony standards, Eiderdown stands out as an unusual name.
  • The Wild Hunt: A thestral custom rather than a Fey one. The entire tribe plus Luna chase down a large creature and vampirize it. They once mummified a Hydra doing so. The custom was stopped when Luna was sent to the moon and the thestrals exiled.
  • Wish Fulfillment: In a weird way, being sent to Equestria is this for Ted. On Earth, he spent years suppressing his real interests and faked being "cool" just to fit in at high school. On Equestria, he gets to live out all of his D&D geeky interests and has awesome magical powers to boot. "Darth Vulcan" is arguably a lot closer to his true self than the persona he adopted in high school. Tellingly, he doesn't spare much thought to the life he left behind on Earth.
  • A Wizard Did It: Vulcan ultimately comes to the conclusion that if he doesn't understand anything in Equestria, it's because of magic.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Averted. Darth Vulcan references the Evil Overlord Rule "Shooting is not too good for my enemies", and uses it to kill Tirek.
  • Wild Magic: Earth pony Strange Magic is best defined as this, as it's not an active thing, but lets them pull off things that otherwise make no sense. Pinkie is speculated to actually be relative to Twilight in this regard.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: One of the tooth breezies that pulled out a gangsters teeth is disgusted to find itself holding a gold tooth, rather than a real one it can use as a power source.
    • One of Vulcan's complaints is that, with all the gold and jewels at his disposal, on Earth he'd be a billionaire. But the ponies use it for pocket change.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Despite the White and Gray Morality of the fic and the good job it does of making Vulcan sympathetic, it also shows how he's STILL a villain by making him nearly DROWN Diamond Tiara.
  • Worthy Opponent: Shining Armor begrudgingly admits that Darth Vulcan earned the loyalty of the Diamond Dogs.
  • Writer on Board: Over the course of the story, the Princesses (especially Celestia) have been reduced to object lessons of how not to run a government. The story also brings attention to bullying and the practice of imposing vegan diets on creatures whose biology is not suited for them. Vulcan also bluntly states there's a huge difference between unauthorized copying of data and "stealing" data. Chapter 47 has a jab against government spending on frivolous scientific research, inspired by the Golden Fleece Awards.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: When Darth Vulcan first enters Ponyville, Rainbow Dash immediately goes on the offensive and attacks him. She presumed with his hostile nature and malevolent-looking dark outfit that he was like other villains. She was right, but attacking him without letting him get a word in resulted in him hating the ponies. Then again, he already hated them even before he ever met them, and wasn't interested in civil conversation at all.
    • Ted himself started as this and hasn't really stopped for some things. He expected the ponies to be such wussies that they'd think an ineffective villain like Gargamel from The Smurfs was an epic level villain, and so would fold if he scared them. Among the Epic Level Villains in the world where Equestria is are a Made of Evil Dark Unicorn Overlord that enslaved his own people, an Avatar of Chaos, and a possibly Omnicidal Maniac Mad Moon Goddess... What an Idiot comes to mind. Let's just list several other ways in which he is wrong genre savvy...
      • 1. When he tries to buy supplies from Filthy Rich's store. Instead of the bare essentials, he padded his order with things he didn't need or even know what they were for in order to make the offer more attractive. Turned out he ordered unicorn horn shavings, a common use magical reagent. The ponies thought he was up to no good because of that instead of trying to get some food, toilet paper, and other necessities.
      • 2. Equestrian Society as a whole. Because of his cynicism and the bad first impressions going all around (which are mostly his fault), he believes Equestria is secretly a cesspit of corruption hidden behind a veneer of niceness, instead of a society where things are fine for the most part except for a few things and rough spots that passed under Celestia's notice. It doesn't help that he's convinced himself that because he found ONE township where corruption was the order of the day, and the Princesses didn't notice anything wrong until Ted brought the issues to light, that things are as horrible as he thinks they are.
      • 3. One of Ted's arguments to convince the Remedial Class Pegasi into joining him is that Celestia will attempt to save face by using them as scapegoats to blame them for the destruction of their old hometown. He was completely wrong, as all Celestia did was send Twilight on the case, and then she completely took the dual township government to task for their sins. When the story makes its way into the news, the focus is on the corruption that was unearthed and Twilight's decision to leave the townships to dry without help from the royal coffers. Tellingly, he keeps this information from Eiderdown's group.
      • 4. The worst sample of wrong genre savvy is TRUSTING THE POWERS OF THE ALICORN AMULET IN THE FIRST PLACE. Any really savvy Tabletop Gamer could tell you that trusting the evil cursed amulet that was so dangerous that tossing it through a dimensional fissure was considered an acceptable way of getting rid of it is a bad idea three days to Sunday. In D&D terms, he's the idiot that would put on the Hand of Vecna.
    • It doesn't help that Ted clearly falls into Insane Troll Logic and I Reject Your Reality tropes, As he will always assume that the worst thing is the truth while any evidence to the contrary is ignored or rationalized away to fit his warped worldview.
    • Celestia's failings in the story are due to this. She's been trying to deal with Ted like she would the other threats to Equestria and come short because he plays by different rules. She's also shown to be a bit out of touch regarding things, which lead to the mess with the Tax System and later on the debacle with the Thestrals. She couldn't conceive that her little ponies would do things to screw one another that badly, and then when Ted started making waves things started coming apart because she stopped seeming infallible to her subjects. Celestia's main failing is that she still thinks she's in her own show when she's actually in a deconstruction fic based on said show.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Celestia's summoning of a Champion to deal with Vulcan — either it works directly, or at least buys the Princesses and Mane Six time to find another way to defeat him.
  • Yin-Yang Clash: The power of the Alicorn Amulet is an opposite to Discord's. They (thankfully) neatly cancel each other out without much more consequence than draining both. Discord's nature means that he wouldn't survive it either way, however, and thus retreats.
    • A much less destructive example happens when Pinkie Pie blasts Vulcan in the face with her party cannon during the train heist. Instead of a cloud of confetti shooting out in a cloud, it instead gives him paper cuts all over his face. This is due to the amulet's magic clashing with Pinkie Pie's powers, which are driven by a type of magic called Earth Pony Strange Magic. This type of magic is unique to Earth Ponies and causes things to act in ways they otherwise wouldn't—- such as the cartoon physics antics Pinkie Pie is famous for. Proximity to the amulet cancelled it out, causing the cannon to act like a regular cannon, ejecting the confetti with enough force to cause lacerations similar to how tornadoes can embed straw in wooden structures.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Ted, of all people, reassures Dodger when the latter has a small crisis after Eiderdown's discomfort with his advances reminds him of his own mother and the sleazeballs she had to put up with. Ted tells him that any animal can say they claimed a female whenever the opportunity presented itself, but it takes a real man to treat a lady with respect. It does help.
  • You Are What You Hate:
    • For all the contempt he has on bronies and cosplayers who go to conventions, Ted/Darth Vulcan is very much a closet geek who is into real time strategy games and plays old school NES games (even if not quite by choice due to his allegedly cheapskate parents) and admits to being a cosplayer himself in his own mind/first person narrative, with the weak justification that he only dresses in costume for Halloween because it's "socially acceptable". The moniker of Darth Vulcan was inspired by the scene in the original Back to the Future where Marty freaks out the 1955 version of his dad by putting on his radiation suit and claims to be "Darth Vader from the Planet Vulcan" in his attempt to set history straight again and get his parents together to secure his future. It goes well into hypocrite levels when some of Ted's narrative hints at being at a Dungeons and Dragons player, a geekdom sub-group who have suffered from even worse criticism, prejudice AND persecution than bronies due to lies perpetrated by Moral Guardians about players of the game being devil worshipers years ago IRL.
    • Artful Dodger has no good memories of his mother's sleazebag lovers who basically just used her and then abandoned her constantly. It's implied they were all criminals of some sort due to how often the guard came to Dodger's childhood home due to implicating his mother as an accomplice; Dodger, Justified Criminal that he may be or believe himself to be, is an unrepentant petty thief and repeat offender, and there has been no indication that he ever tried going legit, while some of their sexist attitude might have affected him seeing as he went and called Eiderdown a concubine when she wasn't really supposed to be more than just his personal attendant by his own words.
  • You Called Me X, It Must Be Serious: Chrysalis usually calls Vulcan "my lord". However, she refers to him as Ted to snap him out of his Unstoppable Rage when she realizes that Dodger isn't a traitor.
  • You Monster!: Cadence calls Vulcan one when he refuses to help them keep Canterlot from falling off the mountain. He disagrees.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: The Flim-Flam Brothers, con artists that they are, aren't actually happy that they are good at leading others on and tricking them, and resent Vulcan for praising them for having the talent to pull the wool over their audience/customers/marks twice over, even after said marks have already been tricked by them before. Because they honestly wanted to revolutionize Equestria with their inventions, being considered good at tricking the ponies they honestly wanted to help at one point is a sour point for them.
  • Your Head Asplode: Big Boss, upon trying to incinerate Vulcan with his fire breath, only for Vulcan to seal his mouth and nostrils, causing a backfire.
  • Your Worst Nightmare: Thanks to a book Twilight wrote on Sombra's reign, Vulcan is able to teach Dodger how to create "Nightmare Mists" that take on the form of the worst fears of whoever is exposed to them, which he keeps stored in his top hat (which Vulcan nicknames the Hat Full of Nightmare).

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Fanfic/TheRiseofDarthVulcan