Snips and Snails showed up as thieves in the Flash game Adventures in Ponyville on the Hub's website before their first appearance on the show.
The Cutie Mark Crusaders — Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle — appear huddled together for a short moment at the end of the first episode (Apple Bloom had already been introduced earlier, but the other two wouldn't officially meet her until episode 12).
Sweetie Belle also appears briefly at the beginning of Call of the Cutie due to an animation error, where an anonymous pony based on her model should've been shown.
Adventures in Ponyville showed Twilight as able to grant functional wings with magic, though they were a very different kind of wing (proper pegasus wings) than the ones she gave Rarity (butterfly wings made of gossamer and dew).
The premiere of the show made the series look more like a Magical Girl show. However, the Elements of Harmony are completely forgotten until Season 2, and the show turns to focus on one-shot episodes rather than an overarching plot.
It also took a while for the visual effects for unicorn magic to be standardized, and even then the Color-Coded Wizardry didn't really show up until "Lesson Zero".
Likewise, the exact nature of unicorn magic seems different early on. In "Boast Busters", unicorn magic appears to be entirely in-born. A unicorn either has an ability, or they don't. However, later episodes seem to suggest that unicorn magic is much closer to Rule Magic, thanks to the appearances of magical schools and spell books, wherein any unicorn's ability to learn a spell is limited only by aptitude at learning magic, rather than by simply being born with a given list of 'tricks'.
The third episode of the series, "The Ticket Master" was the first episode to be written, and it shows - Spike has no interest in Rarity, non-unicorn ponies can somehow levitate the tickets above their heads etc, though this could easily be explained by Rarity or Twilight holding their tickets for them or the tickets themselves being magical.
It's also the lightest episode plot-wise, as it was originally intended for a Two Shorts format.
The character designs as originally drawn by Lauren Faust (seen in the main page image) had bigger pupils and irises in their eyes than are actually used for the show's characters. This eye style was probably dropped because it gave the characters a slight Uncanny Valley look.
In "The Return Of Harmony", the Mane Cast has to do this, especially Twilight Sparkle. Discordbreaks and Mind Rapes all of them (except Twilight), turns their homeland into a chaotic World Gone Mad (centered in their hometown of Ponyville, no less), and Twilight crosses the Despair Event Horizon when the Elements Of Harmony won't work because of the previously mentioned events. She was getting ready to pack up and leave before Princess Celestia sends her all the letters she'd sent to her on friendship the past season. She then has to literally fight her friends to let her use her magic to remind them of all the good times they've shared before they can finally use the Elements Of Harmony to vanquish Discord. They saved all of Equestria and restored their friendship but it was far from easy!
"A Canterlot Wedding" is another prime example of this. By the time Celestia finally gets around to declaring the real bride and groom formally married, there's no doubt that both of them have earned it after what they've been through. And of course Twilight Sparkle, after having her suspicions blown off by everypony and for a while seeming to lose her friends, her mentor, and her big brother over it only to have the main villain promptly banish her underground as soon as everypony else has left...ultimately gets them all back and gains a new Cool Big Sis in the bargain.
Twilight's Kingdom Part 2, even more so than previous seasons. Tirek has left most of Equestria powerless and defeated, sent three of its Princesses to Tartarus, and has more or less become a Physical God. Even Discord is left broken and powerless after betraying Equestria to the tyrannical centaur before being betrayed himself. The mane six think all is lost...then get the last Rainbow Key, allowing them to unlock their Rainbow Power forms, defeat Tirek, and restore Equestria, with Twilight finally finding her place as Princess of Friendship. Not to mention that unlocking the Rainbow Power was the culmination of all the Mane Six's hard work, in a subplot that spanned across the entire fourth season. Earned, indeed.
Easily Forgiven: Many antagonists are forgiven quickly. Justified, considering the series main theme is friendship.
Downplayed with Luna. She tried to create eternal night and is immediately forgiven by her sister, the mane cast, and Ponyville. However, Luna Eclipsed shows that they are still terrified of her.
A special case in A Canterlot Wedding after essentially disowned by everyone, Twilight Sparkle forgave everyone after one little apology from Applejack. To be fair, there are more important matters at hand like the Changeling Invasion.
Babs Seed from the episode "One Bad Apple" spends most of the episode bullying the Cutie Mark Crusaders, with the worst of it including kicking them out of their own clubhouse and forcing Apple Bloom to sleep on the floor in her own room, but when the CMC find out about how she herself was bullied, and turned to bullying herself because of this, they immediately forgive her, save her from a booby trapped second float they set up for her, and even end up befriending her by the end of the episode. The CMC even apologize for the booby trap first. In the later episode "Apple Family Reunion", Apple Bloom refers to Babs as "my favorite cousin". After all the bullying she did to her, she ends up being her favorite cousin in a family that may very well include hundreds of relatives.
And as of the episode "Magic Duel", Trixie, who takes over Ponyville and rules it with an iron hoof, though it takes roughly a second for Twilight Sparkle to accept her apology at the end. This might be at least partially justified due to the Alicorn Amulet.
The episode "Keep Calm And Flutter On" involves Fluttershy forgiving Discord, despite the fact that he caused the Mane Six to go Brainwashed and Crazy and causing the World Gone Mad.
In that episode, although Discord was forgiven, despite the severity of Discord's actions, the Mane Six really let him off lightly. But Princess Celestia told Twilight that they're keeping the Elements just in case, that although they've forgiven him, they haven't forgotten.
At the end of the episode "Rainbow Falls" Soarin quickly forgives Spitfire and Fleetfoot, despite the fact that they never visited him at the hospital when he hurt his wing and were planning on replacing him with Rainbow Dash.
In Twilight's Kingdom Part 2, even after he sided with Tirek, Twilight still considered Discord a friend, much to his surprise. This trope also applies to Fluttershy, who Discord is still on good terms with despite hurting her earlier with his betrayal. That said, he does notice he doesn't get a throne along with the others and is told he'll have to earn it, and seemed to regret what he did even before Tirek stabbed him in the back.
Edible Ammunition: The citizens of Appleloosa use apple pies to repel a buffalo stampede. The entire episode was a metaphor for the American Settlers encroaching on the Native's land. And the pie battle was very intentionally a tame version of a shootout, because you wouldn't get incapacitated by a pie, would you?
In "Dragonshy", Applejack demonstrated expert marksmanship with kicked apples. She didn't get to use them against the dragon, but she was ready to.
In the same episode, Angel beans Fluttershy with a half-eaten carrot.
Catapult-launched pumpkins are a popular part of Nightmare Night celebrations. Presumably, they could be re-purposed for less festive occasions.
In "Secret of my Excess", Pinkie Pie tries to fend off Spike by throwing cakes at him. He just catches them instead.
In "Magic Duel", Trixie conjures several pies and throws them at Twilight Sparkle, who defends herself by summoning a parasprite.
Edible Theme Naming: Applejack. Her entire family qualifies too, given that they're named after brands of, types of, or products made from said fruit.
Distant relatives seem to be named after different fruits, such as Aunt and Uncle Orange.
In "Bridle Gossip", when Applejack is shrunk, Spike dubs her "Appletini". (Both names are kinds of alcoholic drinks.)
Seems to be a pattern with most (though not quite all) Earth Ponies; Pinkie hails from the Pie family, though makes her living with the Cakes; two of Equestria's founders were Chancellor Puddinghead and her secretary Smart Cookie; even Rose and Daisy could arguably count, since ponies have been seen multiple times eating flowers.
During the first season, the show was broadcast with an E/I logo in the upper left corner, but the only real concession it makes to being educational and informative is to have And Knowing Is Half the Battle dialogue at the end of every episode. (These days, simply claiming to encourage positive social values is often enough to allow the use of the logo.) Cable channels aren't required to air E/I programming, but there may be conditions to the partnership between Hasbro and Discovery Channel to form the Hub that the audience doesn't know about. Still, a cartoon that manages to be Edutainment, Merchandise-Driven and genuinely entertaining even for adults all at the same time is a truly astonishing achievement.
The E/I mark goes back to the Discovery Kids days; the network adds E/I tags in electronic program listings to make it easier for parents to find actual educational children's programming. Since no other cable network (like Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network) uses the E/I tag, it's a really big advantage for The Hub to tag their shows E/I.
The show could be a Trope Codifier for Stealth Education. The writers are very talented at sneaking in educational tidbits without disrupting the flow of the show — going all the way back to the pilot, where Twilight explains that being "on the precipice (or threshold, or brink) of disaster" means that "something really bad is about to happen", and that "imperative" means "important".
A particularly stealthy tidbit they snuck in was actual physics equations for time dilation, like Gamma Correction, in an episode dealing with time travel. Who knew you could learn college-level physics in a TV-Y program?
Hasbro has also released guidelines for some episodes for parents that want their kid to learn more.
The bug has been absent in Season 2 so far, which left certain fans wondering if Hasbro has ditched the Edutainment aspect of the show. Either that, or The Hub has since deprecated the practice all together.
Rainbow Dash can manipulate cloud-borne water to create rain (her profession), and also to create rainbows, as seen most clearly in with her stunt in "Boast Busters". Her name also contains the word "rain", despite the fact that one might think that Rainbow Dash, as a great flyer, might also be associated with the air.
This seems to be a common thing with all pegasi, considering that Derpy Hooves caused lightning by hopping on a cloud, and that weather control is the exclusive job of the pegasi.
Rarity can magically locate pockets of precious or semiprecious stones within solid rock, giving her an earth affinity. This is due to her special talent dealing (at least partially) with gems.
A comedic example happens in the episode, "Party Of One". Pinkie Pie assumes that her friends are turning their backs on her after Spike said that they don't like her parties anymore. As it turns out, her friends are setting up a birthday party for her without telling her about it.
A brainwashed example occurs in the two-parter episode, "The Return Of Harmony". In that episode, Discord, knowing about The Power of Friendship, brainwashes the True Companions into turning against each other. After a Circle of Shame by the Discord's balloons, which tells her that her friends are laughing about her behind her back, corrupted Pinkie Pie's reply to Twilight Sparkle is to be expected when she and the corrupted Applejack found her:
Twilight Sparkle: Pinkie Pie! Are we glad to see you! Pinkie Pie: Oh you are, huh? Why? Need a good laugh?
To say nothing about how poor Twilight felt when one by one, her friends are acting different from themselves, and when Rainbow Dash went flying out of the maze after what Applejack told her.
Applejack: (watching as Rainbow Dash went flying out of the maze) Well, looky there. Rainbow Dash is flying away. She's abandonin' us. Twilight Sparkle: Now I know that's a lie. How can it be?
A relatively mild example occurs in the episode "Ponyville Confidential". When the Gabby Gums column begins to print false-but-still-damaging stories of the mane six, it's initially suggested to Rarity that since Sweetie Belle works for the school paper, she might know who GG is. Rarity is immediately offended by the implication that her sister would associate with a pony with such blatant disregard for everyponys feelings. Her tune changes immediately once she discovers Sweetie Belle stole Rarity's diary and published it. To drive this home, Rarity confronts Sweetie with "Et tu, Gabby Gums?"
The biggest weakness of Discord is his inability to truly understand how strong the bond between the mane cast truly is. He's taken completely off-guard when he discovers that they've reforged their friendship after he seemingly broke it apart leading to his defeat. He also gets very frustrated when Fluttershy proves too kind and accepting of her own faults to fall for his attempt to convince her her friends think she's weak and helpless and thus she should be mad at them. This makes sense when one considers he's the polar opposite of the Elements of Harmony, which run on the Power of Friendship. It may also be another of the apparent Shout Outs to Him, who shared this weakness as well. Ironically, in his second appearance he not only manages to comprehend it in the end, the act of doing so is what redeems him, as his new found friendship with Fluttershy makes him unable to bring himself to do anything to jeopardize it.
Queen Chrysalis, the Big Bad of the second Season Finale, also has this problem. She's a sadistic, shapeshifting, succubus-likeHive Queen who stole Princess Cadence's identity to feed off the love her husband to be had for her. In the end, she doesn't once think that this same power could be turned against her. To her, it was just food and she didn't truly understand its true power.
In Twilights Kingdom Part 1, during his Hannibal Lecture to Discord, Tirek dismisses his brother's befriending ponies so many years ago as a sign of a weak mind. More generally, he considers friendship just another form of imprisonment.
In Twilight's Kingdom Part 2, Tirek cannot understand friendship, and is confused when Twilight demands Discord's release after he betrayed them. It is this mistake that leads to his defeat and re-imprisonment for eternity.
Queen Chrysalis adores this trope, getting one several times in the first part of the two part Season 2 finale, and about once every five minutes, give or take, in the second part.
Evil Plan: Nightmare Moon's 'everlasting night' plan in the pilot. For a god of chaos, Discord is incredibly strategic about getting his "rulership" (AKA position to make up extremely creative and nonsensical torments for everyone) of Equestria back. Queen Chrysalis's 'first Canterlot, then all of Equestria' plan in the Season 2finale.
Nightmare Moon of the pilot has a pretty deep voice and a great Evil Laugh. Justified by the fact that her larger stature (roughly 1.5 times the size of the main characters) would give her longer vocal cords, and thus a lower-pitched voice.
Zig-zagged by Discord, who, being voiced by John de Lancie, has a somewhat high-pitched voice. However, he's got a great range, and there are several lines where it sounds deeper than normal.
King Sombra of the Season 3 opener has a very deep voice indeed.
At first in Twilights Kingdom Part 1, Lord Tirek's voice is frail and old, but he later gains a deep, booming voice as he returns to his original power.
Bizarrely, the closing credits in the first two season never reflected the episode, listing the same set of voice actors and roles for every episode regardless of which characters were present or absent. Season 3 started using proper credits.
Applejack:If y’all reckon back, I told you that I would tell you everything at breakfast! But I didn’t come to breakfast! I couldn’t come to that breakfast! Not if it meant tellin’ y’all what happened!
Pinkie Pie has shown a willingness to eat virtually anything, eating cupcakes with hot sauce and ashen lumps that are supposedly cupcakes without complaint. Her first reaction to seeing a vat of liquid rainbow was to taste it, and it's the only thing she's complained about the flavor of on-screen — although she had some bizarre muffins that made her sick, she didn't actually comment on their flavor. So she's probably an Extreme Herbivore at best.
Her sister Maud has no problem crunching into hunks of crystal, and she taught Pinkie the family's rock candy recipe - which uses actual rocks as one ingredient.
Spike from the same definitely qualifies — he prefers eating gemstones, but can and often will eat literally anything. Including eating and enjoying said muffins. After seeing a live earthworm stick its head out of one.
There's also the Parasprites. Twilight tried to stop them from eating all the food by casting a spell to make them stop eating food. They started eating everything else.
Rarity and Sweetie Belle's parents enjoyed the latter's horrible food, which included ashes (burnt juice) and a bowl of bubbling ooze (toast).
Pumpkin Cake from the episode "Baby Cakes" is just being a baby and chewing on everything in sight as they are prone to do, but it's possible for her to grow into this down the line.
Discord, reality warpingAnthropomorphic Personification of chaos that he is, once drank a glass of chocolate milk, then tossed aside the chocolate milk. Another time he ate a bowl of paper, specifically the pages of Twilight's spellbooks that had the spell she was looking for.
Angel Bunny does a facepaw whenever he finds Fluttershy frustrating.
One of the Diamond Dogs facepaws when Rarity is aggravating him.
Spike faceclaws from time to time.
In Inspiration Manifestation, Owlowiscious simulates this with his flight feathers when Spike reads the cover page of the book and says "I'm likin' the looks of this one!" Even more impressive in that he used one of his wings to do it while in mid-flight, and still remained airborne.
In Equestria Games, Spike's cringe-worthy attempt at the Cloudsdale anthem naturally induces this to much of the audience (both in and out of universe).
Now compiled in this handy compilation! Begins at 2:45.
Face Plant: Happens to most of the mane characters at one time or another.
Apple Bloom has this as a running joke in "Hearts and Hooves Day".
Fanservice: Of the non-sexual variety. After Derpy Hooves took off within the fandom, animators started including her more and more often, sometimes in a scripted event and other times as a Funny Background Event - to the point that spotting her has become a Where's Waldo?-esque game in some circles.
However, by far the largest example of this is in "the Last Roundup", when the name Derpy for Derpy Hooves was made canon, as well as giving her a voice!
And then, when the name caused considerable backlash, she returned to being unnamed.
Played straight whenever Tara Strong decides to troll the fandom.
IDW's official comics are chock full of fanon shout-outs, although they also sneak in some played-straight fanservice once in awhile. It's not really more fanservicey than one might expect from a G-rated comic, though included are some sultry character poses and subtle ship teasing (Rarity's micro series issue has some of the more obvious examples thus far).
The show is generally pretty good at avoiding this, but it still runs into it on occasion. "Cute Mark Chronicles" is a good example, as its moral is that friendship is important because everyone has a special connection with their friends, even before they've met. Which is a nice thought, and may very well be true In-Universe, but in real life it's entirely possible to become really good friends without having ever crossed paths in the past.
Zecora the zebra in is obviously supposed to be from an African counterpart culture, given her accent and the fact that that her hut is decorated with stylized African masks. She was even meant to speak Swahili in her few foreign language lines, but the staff couldn't find a translator in time and resorted to writing invented words that mimic the general sound of Swahili. The canon explanation is that Zecora "speaks Zebra."
The buffalo tribe in "Over a Barrel" were obviously supposed to be the Plains Indians in the "Cowboys vs. Indians" setup of the episode.
Pinkie Pie apparently grew up on what is supposed to be a fantasy counterpart Amish rock farm!
Pegasus ponies in general seem to take some influence from Classic Greek culture (which makes sense, considering pegasi are creatures from Greek mythology). Their architecture and fashion seem decidedly Hellenistic, and they were portrayed as a Sparta-like martial culture in a "flashback" to old times.
Meanwhile, the other two types of ponies both represent Western Europe, but apparently evolved socially at different rates: In the aforementioned "flashback," the unicorns are stuck in The High Middle Ages with a feudal monarchy, while the earth ponies dress like continental Europeans (from France, the Netherlands, and Germany in particular) during The Renaissance and have elected a chancellor.
The setting of the Daring Dobook series is quite plainly a pulp fiction-style depiction of South America, complete with Aztec/Mayan stone ruins and a villain, Ahuizotl, taken from Aztec mythology.
Season 3 introduces the Crystal Empire, which blends late-Victorian architecture, Crystal Spires and Togas fashion sense, and medieval/Renaissance sporting events.
"Magic Duel" features visiting delegates from Saddle Arabia, which is a stand-in for... well, guess.
Actually subverted, seeing how the male delegate carries a crescent moon coat-of-arms, and Saudi Arabia does not have this as its crest (as one of very few such countries).
Even in the present day: locations in Equestria are based on different cultures of different eras:
Ponyville seems to be based on 17th to 19th century Europe with their building's architecture mostly being timber-framed cottages which were popular in places like England, France, Germany, Scandinavia, Scotland, and Switzerland from the Renaissance age to the 19th century.
Cloudsdale is based off ancient Greece.
Manehattan is roughly based off 1940's New York City but with all the cars replaced with horse-drawn carriages. Some of which are painted like yellow checker cabs.
Appleoosa is a 19th century American wild-west settlement, similar to those seen in Westerns.
Canterlot seems to be inspired by France with a dash of Britain.
The official map of Equestria reveals significant similarities to North America, albeit with as many horse puns as they can stuff in ("Manehattan" and "Fillydelphia" being the most obvious)
In Equestria Games, in addition to the Saddle Arabians (who are more horse-like than pony), there are pony-like delegates from other cultures: a mare with a half-sun-like headdress akin to the Incan or Mayan culture, and a stallion with a very Mesopotamian headdress, beard, and hair/mane style. We find next episode these two are representatives from Maretonia.
Fantasy World Map: There are many fan-made maps of Equestria, but an official one can be found here or here◊(though it slightly contradicts Word of God by placing the Everfree Forest south of Ponyville instead of to the west). It appears to be loosely based on the United States and part of Canada.
Princess Celestia does this near the end of "Lesson Zero", as Twilight's friends are taking the blame for her casting a spell that makes the entire town fight over a doll so that she could learn some sort of lesson about friendship to send her for that week.
Octavia, one of the many fan-favourite background characters, pulls this expression in "The Best Night Ever" when Pinkie makes a request. Even her wiki page uses it.
Owlowiscious' design doesn't really allow for much of one, but in Inspiration Manifestation he's definitely giving the same spirit in his look at Spike when Rarity starts going off the deep end.
Fashion Shop Fashion Show: Twilight and Fluttershy go through this, courtesy of Rarity. Though Twilight doesn't buy anything and Fluttershy was just modeling.
The Fashionista: Not only is Rarity the proprietor of the Carousel Boutique, but there's an entire fashion industry in Equestria including designer Hoity Toity, photographer Photo Finish, print advertising campaigns, and trend-following audiences at fashion shows who can't seem to form opinions of their own.
Feather Fingers: This was averted initially. Ponies use their mouths, magic, or sometimes even tails to manipulate objects as long as it can be made to work. However, later Season 2 episodes features ponies using their hooves as hands more often, or in the case of pegasus characters (Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy), a literal feather finger.
In Hurricane Fluttershy, the titular character tries to improve her flying by training, including doing wing 'push-ups'.
In Inspiration Manifestation, Owlowiscious simulates a facepalm with his flight feathers when Spike reads the cover page of the book and says "I'm likin' the looks of this one!" Even more impressive in that he used one of his wings to do it while in mid-flight, and still remained airborne.
When Spike fails to tell Rarity how inappropriate the birdhouse makeover is, Owlowiscious folds his wings and feathers in a manner that resembles fists on his hips when giving Spike a disparaging glare.
Felony Misdemeanor: Only Rarity understands what a "crime against fabulosity" ruining the water serpent's mustache was.
Pinkie Pie's extreme attitude towards keeping secrets, which leads her to stalk Twilight all over town reminding her that she risks losing Rarity's and Fluttershy's friendship FOREVER! In a bizarre attempt to drive the point home, she takes an apple... and EATS IT. Possibly a representation of Twilight's head, considering her reaction to Applejack breaking her Pinkie Promise in "The Last Roundup".
Pinkie Pie discovers that rainbows don't really taste like Skittles, or vice versa, in "Sonic Rainboom".
First Name Basis: Pretty much anypony who refers to Twilight Sparkle simply calls her "Twilight." Interestingly, Princess Celestia is the only character to refer to her by her full name with any regularity.
Averted with Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash. The former can be either Pinkie or Pinkie Pie (and in one Full Name Ultimatum, "Pinkamena Diane Pie"), while the latter can be called by first name, last name, or both, with equal familiarity.
Five-Temperament Ensemble: Applejack and Rainbow Dash (choleric); Rarity, Twilight Sparkle, and Princess Luna (melancholic); Princess Celestia and Spike (leukine); Pinkie Pie and Princess Cadence (sanguine); and Fluttershy (phlegmatic).
The Pony POV Series isn't solely a Fix Fic, but the author typically does major edits with every new episode to intergrate the canon into the story, in the process providing explainations that, in the universe of the fic, make perfect sense and actually explain a Plot Hole or two. For example, Rainbow Dash's behavior in "Mystrious Mare-Do-Well" was the result of her trying to cover up/compensate for her Heroic BSOD resulting from how she handled Discord's Sadistic Choice. Noteably a very well done example of how to do a Fix Fic right.
The Friendship is Magic fanfic Whisper explains the parasprite infestation in "Swarm of the Century" , and Twilight's attempt to fix it going horribly awry, as the work of sabotage by the Great and Powerful Trixie, who wrongly blamed Twilight for an apparent curse (actually a case of poison joke) that spoiled Trixie's stage presence.
There are also a number of fanfics (and at least one fan comic) that try to end the events of "The Best Night Ever" on a less bittersweet note.
My Little Unicorn is a fix fic which also happens to be aHate Fic, with the author trying to change the entire universe and its concepts to fit his ideas (for example, he absolutely hates the idea of friendship (the main concept of the FiM universe), and thinks that the power of belief is the strongest there is (whatever he means by that)). It's not aTroll Fic.
Flanderization: While the show is still a relatively new one, this phenomenon is already beginning to happen to some of the characters, mostly happening in season 2.
In "Applebuck Season" and "Winter Wrap Up", Big McIntosh has actual dialogue. Since then, most of his lines have been "Eeyup" and "Nope". Although later episodes give him more varied lines, though he's still usually quiet.
Rarity, who goes from a generous and occasional melodramatic Large Ham to still being generous but much more melodramatic.
Fluttershy was initially meek (to the point of being somewhat aloof) and barely able to conjure up sentences to even her closest friends. Her later appearances, though more timid or cowardly, make her more cheerful and sociable. She was exaggerated in one area and rounded out in another.
Pinkie Pie suffers this as well, going from a character with a fondness for treats that would sometimes miss the point of situations, while still being dependable and determined to prove herself to being so consumed by the mere mention of frosting that she became lost in her own fantasy of it and needs Fluttershy to wipe the drool from her chin, not to mention going for coloring books while the rest of the cast are looking for a solution to a very real and immediate danger right outside the door.
Flash Forward: In the initial version of a recipes PDF on The Hub's website, the page for Cutie Mark Crusaders Chocolate Popcorn included Side Story Bonus Art (originally fanart drawn by layout artist Kat Stenson long before becoming part of the show's crew) that depicted Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle all grown up with cutie marks.
Flat Character: Diamond Tiara. Lampshaded; her cutie mark matches her crown. This also applies to her BFF Silver Spoon.
Fleur de Lis: Celestia, Luna, and Nightmare Moon have this integrated into the 'boots' they wear as part of their royal attire (Nightmare Moon even having it as part of the design of her collar). A unicorn mare seen in Canterlot with Fancy Pants in "Sweet And Elite" is even named this and has three of these symbols as her cutie mark.
One of the many cutie marks Apple Bloom gets in "The Cutie Pox" is a fleur de lis which causes her to speak French.
In Feeling Pinkie Keen, when the already horribly-injured Twilight Sparkle is assuring Spike that something is not going to fall, a flowerpot then crashes on her head. Then an anvil.Then a hay wagon. Then a grand piano. They all turned out to have fallen out from a delivery truck that Derpy Hooves was working at.
In The Mysterious Mare Do Well, during The Reveal that Mare Do Well is some of the Mane 6 teaching Rainbow Dash a lesson, Pinkie Pie says she stopped the building collapse with her Pinkie Sense. She then detects a falling flowerpot with it, and dashes away to avoid it.
In It's About Time, when Twilight asks the gypsy Pinkie Pie if she can use her Pinkie Sense to detect what will happen in the future, Pinkie explains that it's only for immediate emergencies. Cue flowerpot to Twilight's head.
Flying On A Cloud: While they don't fly around on them, pegasi and other creatures with wings (e.g. griffons, birds) can do this. A spell exists for non-pegasi to do it too; it gets a lot of use in Fan Fiction.
Foil: Interestingly enough, each of the mane six acts as a foil to another one. The most obvious pair in this regard is Applejack and Rarity; their scenes together emphasize Applejack's more blunt and tomboyish side while highlighting Rarity's mildly obsessive-compulsive girly-girl nature. Similarly, Fluttershy's soft-spoken and gentle personality wrapped around an iron core amplifies Rainbow Dash's personality as a loud, brash, and reckless pony with a soft center. Twilight's straight-laced no-nonsense approach to most things and love of organization contrasts particularly with Pinkie Pie's free-wheeling and scatterbrained pursuit of fun, as well as Pinkie Pie's sometimes irrational behavior against Twilight's preference for logic. These contrasts are almost certainly intentional, and used to help advance a less overt aesop about friendship; the mane Six can be such close friends and an effective team because of their differences, not in spite of them.
These are the more obvious pairings, but there are portions of each one's personality that serves to counter some part of the other in some way, shape, or form.
Food As Bribe: Twilight is faced with this several times throughout "The Ticket Master" by her friends in attempts to gain an extra ticket to the Grand Galloping Gala, but Twilight manages to turn away the bribes each time despite stating several times how hungry she is. Pinkie Pie also uses this against Spike in "Party of One" as part of her Perp Sweating sequence.
As the camera follows Twilight Sparkle when she's dictating her letter to Celestia in the pilot episode, the hourglass distorts everything behind it like you'd expect, but replaces the unicorn head sculpture outside with Nightmare Moon's head.
In the same episode, Rarity is choosing decorative ribbons. Upon selecting a particularly glittery one, she declares "Sparkle always does the trick!".
Also in the same episode, Twilight exclaims, "the fate of Equestria does not depend on me making friends." By the end of episode 2, it's pretty clear that it does.
Listen closely to the music playing at Pinkie's surprise party in episode one. It's almost identical to the tune of her song in episode 2.
When Nightmare Moon shows up at the festival, the Cutie Mark Crusaders are briefly shown cowering in fear next to each other, despite the fact that this episode was before "Call of the Cutie."
The camera also pans across each of Twilight's friends as she lists each of the Elements of Harmony as they correspond to each pony.
In "Call of the Cutie", Rainbow Dash tells Apple Bloom that she got her cutie mark after her first race. In "Sonic Rainboom", she says that she's only done a sonic rainboom once before, when she was "just a filly." These are, in fact, the same event, which is shown in detail in "The Cutie Mark Chronicles."
"The Show Stoppers" hinted what each of the Cutie Mark Crusaders' special talents are. Apple Bloom's is designing, Sweetie Belle's is singing/song-writing, and Scootaloo's is dancing.
Pinkie: I can't tell you that, silly—then it wouldn't be a surprise!
In the first episode, Twilight proclaims that "all the ponies in this town are CRAZY!". By the time the first season ended, all the mane characters had had a mental breakdown at least once.
In "Lesson Zero", Spike mentions that Twilight has a cape, and that he and Twilight dropped it off at the cleaners. In the next episode, "Luna Eclipsed", Twilight wears a cape as part of her Nightmare Night costume.
In "Return of Harmony Part 1", after Rainbow Dash says that she'll always be loyal to the princess, Discord ominously says "We'll see about that...". He later gives her a Sadistic Choice and inverts her sense of loyalty.
In the same episode, when Discord is taunting Celestia about being imprisoned in stone, he is leaning on one of the pictures in a window, and then knocks on the forehead of the pony whose image he's leaning on. The pony in question is Fluttershy the only one he had to magically touch instead of tempt to turn bad and the pony that would eventually reform him.
When we first see the Elements of Harmony in their new forms in the second episode, Twilight's isn't a necklace like the other five, instead taking the form of a tiara (which she comments on in "The Return of Harmony part 2"). In "Magical Mystery Cure", when Twilight becomes an Alicorn and a princess, the tiara changes shape slightly and becomes her crown.
One particularly clever bit of foreshadowing is also extremely subtle. Twilght's mane and tail are both cut in a style called "Hime Cut" and have been since day one. In Japanese, this literally means, "Princess Cut". What does she become at the end of Season 3 again?
A rather subtle bit of foreshadowing occurs in "Magical Mystery Cure" with Pinkie Pie's role being switched to running Sweet Apple Acres. The following season, we discover that she may be a distant relative of the Apple family.
Back from "Three's a Crowd", Discord, in full-on jester mode, gives Twilight a friendship medallion of little value. In Twilight's Kingdom Part 2, Discord gives Twilight the medallion he got from Tirek, assuring her he fully means his friendship this time.
Before being sent to Tartarus with Luna and Cadence, Celestia weakly tells Tirek that he would not prevail. Her prediction would later come true when Twilight and her friends unlock their rainbow powers from the chest and send him back to Tartarus.
Multiple comments and actions by Princess Celestia hint at the end of Season 3; but the most prominent example is her brief conversation with Princess Luna, at the beginning of the Season 3 opener, "The Crystal Empire", and her comments to Twilight a short time later about being "ready to move on to the next level".
Forgot I Could Fly: Rainbow Dash NEVER forgets this, and is rarely seen walking on the ground. Fluttershy, however, is a mediocre flyer at best, and rarely flies if she doesn't have to, and on occasion, doesn't even remember she can. The other ponies occasionally forget that two of them (Although in practice, only one of them) can fly. In one instance, this trope is inverted, as Twilight Sparkle asks if she can help with weather duty, forgetting she needs to be able to fly to do that.
Applejack forgets that her friends can fly when she attempts a Train Escape in "The Last Roundup".
Twilight Sparkle spends half of the first couple of episodes teleporting every few seconds, but totally forgets she can do it when the hydra in "Feeling Pinkie Keen"is chasing her toward the rocks she ended up jumping on.
Twilight understandably does this a few times early after getting her wings; to the point Spike actually has to remind her that (something he regretted soon after).
Forgotten Phlebotinum: After episode two, the ponies' Elements of Harmony powers and jewelry did not appear until the two-part Season 2 opener. They'd be overkill, anyway.
Four-Fingered Hands: Hands, as an unavoidable consequence of having four-legged animals as the dominant species, are rarely seen, but whenever they appear they have four fingers - an example comes from "Too Many Pinkie Pies", when one of the Pinkie clones causes three stubby fingers and a thumb to sprout from its hoof. Justified in the case of the more humanoid dragons (Spike, the teenage dragons seen in "Dragon Quest") as they aren't human.
Free-Range Children: The Cutie Mark Crusaders appear to have no constraints whatsoever, considering we see them doing things like practicing extreme sports deep in the forest or mountains with no supervision at all. Applejack never seems to worry about Applebloom unless the plot calls for it, and Rarity generally tends to get Sweetie Belle as far away from her as possible, due to Sweetie's tendency to cause havoc around her. Though we have seen their parents, they only appear in one episode for less than two minutes.
In the first episode, when Twilight is talking about Nightmare Moon and the Hourglass passes over the unicorn head statue in the background, it changes to look like Nightmare Moon, going back when it is no longer behind the Hourglass.
In Griffon the Brush Off, when Rainbow Dash and Gilda race to a cloud, each claims to have been first, but Pinkie Pie claims Rainbow Dash won by just a little bit. To the naked eye it looks like a draw, with both arriving in a flash at the same time, but freezing the image at the right time shows Pinkie is right.
In Sonic Rainboom, when Twilight Sparkle casts the wing-making spell, an outline of Rarity with her butterfly wings appears for a couple of frames in the explosion of light, several minutes before we get to see the results of the spell properly.
When her friends dismiss the broken table as who wants a hammer for a cutie mark, Apple Bloom looks dreadfully upset.
Just before Sweetie Belle starts singing, Scootaloo and Apple Bloom cover their ears.
In The Cutie Mark Chronicles, during Fluttershy's flashback, at the end of her song, if you watch the upper-left corner of the screen carefully, you can see Rainbow Dash just as she hits her first Sonic Rainboom. See here.◊
In Sisterhooves Social, Sweetie Belle runs a race with AppleJack. At the very beginning AppleJack gets completely covered in mud and they run the race together, it's only until the end it's revealed that Rarity was really the one who ran the race. If you look back at "AppleJack's" eyes you'll see that they're blue just like Rarity's, AppleJack's eyes are green.
The dog anatomy pictures in the Vet's room all have the outline of Winona, Applejack's dog.
When Spike recovers his normal size and Rarity says "YOU were the rampaging dragon?" Spike grins and strikes a "let me explain" pose for half a second before plummeting to the ground.
In Baby Cakes, if you look closely during the opening, the babies in the nursery have the same or similar color schemes as other ponies, though most of them match more than one other pony (two that can be pinned down are the ones matching Rainbowshine and Medley).
In the stands near the royalty box is a pegasus mare with Bulk Biceps' body shape and the atypical beehive hairdo, butterfly glasses, and a string of pearls necklace. She has been dubbed "Mama Biceps".
The necklace Tirek wears in the present is the same one Scorpan is shown wearing during their backstory.
Discord-as-a-pony's cutie mark resembles a cyclone or tornado. Appropriate for the spirit of chaos.
In Twilights Kingdom Part 2, the cucumber sandwiches Discord offers Fluttershy are cut into the shape of butterflies, or Fluttershy's cutie mark, which makes it even more insulting when he drops them on the ground in front of her.
Derpy Hooves'cameos are sometimes this, like in "May the Best Pet Win", where she peeks out of Fluttershy's chicken coop near the end of the "Finding a Pet" song.
This promo from the Hub riffs on the 'There's an App for That' adds from Apple. Every pony app shown has an appropriately punny name and a matching icon (e.g. Wikiponia, Hooftube, etc.), proper use of pony terminology for various app functions, and even the 'PNN' news article with tiny text which flashes by at the end is fully coherent and readable. Someone at The Hub obviously knew that that the Periphery Demographic would examine every frame for details like that, going so far as to give a Shout-Out to popular Pony Blog Equestria Daily.
Applejack and Rainbow Dash are great friends, but that doesn't stop them from competing against one another.
Rainbow Dash apparently forms these kinds of friendships a lot, as evidenced by her interactions with Gilda and Lightning Dust.
This is the purpose of the Equestria Games, which pit athletes from different parts of the kingdom against each other. Rainbow Dash and Spitfire lampshade this with an enthusiastic hoofbump at the finish line after the relay race.
Friends Rent Control: Averted on the most part with most of the ponies, but Rainbow Dash's job is implied to be a minimum wage one, yet she lives in a large cloud house. Similarly, it isn't even clear at all if Fluttershy is even paid for what she does for a living, yet her cottage is quite big and accommodates lots of various animals.
We rarely see Rarity and Rainbow Dash spend time together on-screen, let alone know what their relationship as friends are like. At most, they have a few snarky conversations and that's it. This is rather notable as this series mostly revolves around The Power of Friendship and True Companions.
There was in fact an episode revolved around Rarity wanting to be a good friend to Rainbow Dash, the plot barely required them to have a single conversation together.
Interestingly, the first season acted as something of a Deconstruction of this, since the six ponies were implied to be acquaintances before but only brought together due to their new found friendship with Twilight Sparkle, thus leading to many of them being put into situations together and gaining new bonds (eg. Applejack and Rarity in "Look Before You Sleep").
The first episode featured one of the guests at Pinkie's welcoming party for Twilight, a grey pegasus with gold eyes wearing a cross-eyed, vacant grin on her face. "Derpy Hooves" quickly became something of a sensation among the show's Periphery Demographic, enough that she made cameos in a few later episodes and by the next season was featured in a Funny Background Event Once per Episode.
A green unicorn named "Lyra Heartstrings" is fond of this. Quite often in crowd scenes she will be jumping up and down ecstatically with a grin on her face, and it's common for her to do out-of-place human actions like sitting upright. In one memorable scene, she was seen in a city in the clouds, bouncing up and down. Despite the fact that she was a unicorn, they did not give her wings to make her a pegasus. In "Magic Duel" she appears in the background during the climactic fight calmly drinking a soda, uninterested in the battle.
In Green Isn't Your Color, Pinkie Pie menacingly bites an apple while trying to scare Twilight out of telling Rarity's secret, only to really enjoy the apple and forget she was doing. During most of Twilight and Fluttershy's conversation following, Pinkie remains in the background still eating the apple.
Discord and Angel provide this trope in "Keep Calm and Flutter On" behind Fluttershy's back.
In Trade Ya, whenever the episode cuts to one of the B-Plots- Rarity and Applejack bickering over what to pool their resources to buy- Rainbow and Fluttershy can be seen passing in the background several times while on their Chain of Deals quest, carrying various items or struggling with the two-headed dog.
In Twilights Kingdom Part 1, when Discord dresses up in a big, silly alicorn horn, wings, and crown, the Mane Cast all give him funny glances... except for Fluttershy, who appears to be giggling to herself.
Furry Confusion: On top of the usual ponies, this world also boasts talking cows, mules, sheep, and donkeys, along with non-talking birds, bunnies, dogs, cats, and equines.
Regular references are made to the cast eating hay, oats, and flowers, as early as the third episode with Twilight and Spike ordering hay fries and a daffodil and daisy sandwich at a cafe. Later episodes establish hayburgers exist as well. "Over a Barrel" has a saloon in Appleloosa called "The Salt Block"; horses lick salt as a source of nutrition and it helps keep them cool, which would be pretty handy in the prairies of Appleloosa.
Their physical reactions include laying their ears back to show unhappiness, and lower their heads and paw the earth to show anger and aggression. The latter is a plot point in Bridle Gossip, as zebras do that to find water and the ponies, unfamiliar with zebras, see her as threatening. "Sonic Rainboom" even has Rainbow Dash flicking her tail when being taunted by another pegasus, which horses do when annoyed.
Neighs, snorts, whinnies, and other "horse" noises are common things to hear and are used when appropriate, such as snorting when they're annoyed. However, this one is zigzagged since they rarely move their mouths when making these sounds. Given all the other authentic examples here, this is unlikely to be an oversight, and may be treated as sound effects rather than pieces of dialogue.
During Rarity's "Art of the Dress" song, she sings at one point about the parts of the body to be covered - and they're all horse parts. The lines include "Croup, dock, haunch/shoulders, hips" and "Making sure it fits forelock and crest/Don't forget some magic in the dress/Even though it rides high on the flank/Rainbow won't look like a tank". For bonus points, the patches of fabric she's cutting as she sings these lines are for the appropriate parts of the body.
At one point, Pinkie rolls around in the grass. You may think it's just her randomness, but real horses do that a lot. Pinkie also once scratches herself in a way ponies do but larger horses don't. Beyond remembering they're ponies and not people, the animators remember that they're ponies and not other sorts of horse. Now that is attention to detail.
In "Baby Cakes", the Cake's foals are able to run around full-tilt at a month old. This is perfectly possible for real foals, since they can walk within a few hours of birth (and, in the wild, will be abandoned if they can't stand up within a few minutes). In that episode, the month old Pumpkin Cake is clearly teething. Guess when real ponies start to grow teeth. Yup, at about a month old.
While it's a little inconsistent and they are sometimes seen clapping hooves together instead, from "The Show Stoppers" onward, ponies are most commonly seen drumming hooves against the ground to signify applause.
Much of the tech in the series - at least, tech that doesn't fall into the schizo category - also serves as a furry reminder. Buttons for camera shutters and doorbells, for example, are large enough to easily be pressed with a hoof or muzzle, and their typewriters have only two hoof-sized keys and a spacebar.
The dialogue in the series as well isfairly carefully written to make sure they don't say any "human" terms. They refer to each other as "everypony" and say things like "lend a hoof", and the entire series as a whole has only slipped up a couple of times. Also, when Twilight had recently returned from the human world and mentioned something being in "good hands," she was asked just what hands were.
None of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, who are searching for their special talents, have realized that they live in a world which runs off Steven Ulysses Perhero. Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle have talents related to their names that they are mostly unaware of — riding a scooter and singing, respectively.note Apple Bloom, on the other hand, is a talented carpenter, and her Theme Naming reflects her family's business instead.
Inspiration Manifestation: Spike apparently hasn't learned from the enchanted comic that was literally enchanted that something that sounds innocuous might be much more dangerous. Also, you would think that someone who has spent his whole life around a unicorn that specializes in magic and is an expert in spellbooks would know a tome of dark magic when he saw one.
Geographic Flexibility: Ponyville can gain features and buildings with no explanation or prior appearance should the plot require it. Equestria as a whole also qualifies, and although there is an officialmap◊, the map has the disclaimer: "Distance Not To Scale"; most likely not to constrain the development in later episodes.
This would make the above map more like the caricatured postcard maps of IRL national/global landmarks, more than an one used for established travel.
Genre Shift: The series premiere was a High FantasyMagical Girl story that just happened to star ponies. Once Nightmare Moon was defeated and the world was saved, the show instantly shifted to a Slice of Life ensemble comedy with An Aesop at the end of nearly every episode. While these make up the bulk of the series, the Magical Girl stories still return on occasion, usually in season premieres and finales. Note that this doesn't stop the Mane characters from being badass on frequent occasions, it just means the that thematic focus isn't on that part.
Sometimes individual episodes switch to another genre entirely, like Western or Mystery.
Gentle Giant: Turns out both the manticore and the sea serpent in episode 2 are friendly and easy-going beings.
Big McIntosh also qualifies for this, given his huge build, calm personality, and how he patiently puts up with Applejack's stubborn nature.
Celestia counts. She's bigger, and more powerful than most of the cast and is Large and in Charge.
Used more conventionally to omit any explanation for how the Cutie Mark Crusaders ran into Twilight Sparkle in "The Cutie Mark Chronicles":
Scootaloo: Come on, girls! We need action! We need Rainbow Dash!
Twilight Sparkle: As a young filly in Canterlot, I always wanted to go to the Summer Sun Celebration....
Girls Need Role Models: One of the biggest messages the show has to offer is that there is no wrong way to be a girl.
Giving Up On Logic: The episode "Feeling Pinkie Keen" is all about Twilight Sparkle trying to find a logical reason how Pinkie Pie has the strange ability called "Pinkie Sense". By the end of the episode, Twilight Sparkle gives up, and learns that not all things need to be completely understood to be considered real or true.
Twilight Sparkle gets these when she uses some of her more powerful spells.
Princess Luna also gets these when angry.
The Mane Six whenever they break out the Elements of Harmony.
Whenever Rarity uses the magic found in the Inspiration Manifestation spellbook, her eyes glow a sickly green color and she becomes more and more obsessed with making everything pretty.
Goal in Life: Discovering your purpose in life creates your cutie mark on your flank. Given how permanent those things seem to be, one has to hope there's no pony equivalent to a mid-life crisis.
Well, considering that most of the mane six's breakdowns had something or other to do with their cutie marke.g. Pinkie Pie in "Party of One", having an insanity scene; Fluttershy not being able to make the creatures of the Canterlot Gardens love her in "The Best Night Ever"; et cetera, it seems that the fan-named Cutie Mark Failure Insanity Syndrome is said equivalent.
The cutie mark just represents that particular pony's special talent, which often goes hand in hand with their chosen occupation. For example, Rainbow Dash's cutie mark signifies that her special talent is high-speed flying. She definitely enjoys it, and plans to make a career out of it by joining the Wonderbolts, but she's also shown great skill in weather control (clearing the sky in ten seconds flat, etc.). Another good example is Pinkie Pie. Her special talent, as shown by her three-balloons cutie mark is organizing parties. However, she's also an excellent ice skater and is able to play several instruments at once, which don't have any direct relation to parties.
Good Eyes, Evil Eyes: The show tends to give the good characters the standard big watery eyes while villains tend to get scary (and mostly serpentine) peepers. Even minor "villains" like Trixie and Gilda tend to have less reflections in their eyes. Spike (except for one episode) averts this, as does Discord after his Heel-Face Turn.
In Inspiration Manifestation, when Rarity is succumbing to the influence of the spell, her eyes glow freakish green, and the usually enormous irises shrink. When Spike is showering her with kind words of praise and support, her eyes return to their normal limpid pools of blue.
Good Parents: Twilight Sparkle's parents and Rarity's parents.
Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Naturally, this show cannot have cursing, and even "heck" is used sparingly. Instead there are numerous substitute phrases using horse puns, such as "what the hay was that?", "oh ponyfeathers", and "for pony's sake". The most transparent of these is provided by Fluttershy in "Putting Your Hoof Down", who snaps "Nopony gives a flying feather!"
Gosh Hornet: Twilight Sparkle has disturbed a bee's nest and been covered with stings twice: in "Winter Wrap-Up" and "Feeling Pinkie Keen". Rainbow Dash was chased by a swarm of bees in "Fall Weather Friends", but managed to get away from them. Interestingly, there's a beehive hanging from one of the upper branches of the library where Twilight lives.
Fluttershy: But Rainbow Dash, just because you failed the Sonic Rainboom a hundred thousand times in practice doesn't mean you won't be able to do it in front of an entire stadium full of impatient, super-critical sports fan ponies!
Green Rooming: Princess Luna and Zecora both got entire episodes dedicated to introducing each early on in Season 1, but neither really got any further screentime until Season 2 (barring one quick scene for Zecora in the episode immediately after her introduction).
Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Specifically the male ponies; most of them wear vests. As stated elsewhere, female ponies generally just wear some form of accessory.
Hammerspace: The show frequently features the use of hammerspace by ponies, but mostly in small ways. Pinkie Pie, however, very frequently produces things out of Hammerspace, though Rarity has a slight tendency towards it, especially with her drama couch (for her to fall on; pulled on from just offscreen) in Lesson Zero. Spike occasionally digs around in his pockets for some items, even though he doesn't wear clothes.
In Equestria Games, after melting the ice cloud, Spike pulls an umbrella out of nowhere.
Hard Light: Rainbows are a liquid. It's safely edible, but painfully spicy. It's also sticky enough to be used as war paint.
Amongst the unique abilities ponies possess, Fluttershy being the Friend to All Living Things is highly useful when nature needs to managed, but doesn't seem that impressive. Except her ability really does include all living things, including a manticore, a gigantic adult dragon, a cockatrice, Cerberus, and even the spirit of chaos himself, all of whom she managed to pacify with nothing but a firm tone and a kind touch (with occasional help from The Stare). Good thing she's the nice, shy little pegasus she is...
Earth ponies don't have any obvious magic, unlike the unicorns, who cast spells from their horns, and the pegasi, who walk on clouds, control weather, and have tactile telekinesis that allows them to tow things while in flight. According to Word of God, they're stronger and have more endurance than a unicorn or pegasus of comparable physique, and have a deeper connection with naturenote Making Fluttershy a bit of an odd duck, since she's a pegasus whose specialty lies within the earth pony domain and the earth. The latter means that they are inherently better at growing and tending plants of any kind, to the point where in ancient times earth ponies were the only pony tribe capable of producing food, and even in modern times only earth ponies have ever been seen growing anything. The greater strength of earth ponies is seen most notably in "Hearts and Hooves Day", where an earth pony schoolteacher is strong enough to break through two walls when properly motivated (and without Impact Silhouette, she just demolishes it), while one who is notably stronger than average is shown effortlessly towing a house. While skipping.
Pinkie's "party cannon" helps her set up parties super fast. As the changeling fight showed, it can also be used as an actual cannon.
A literal example with Princess Cadence, the third Alicorn in the series. She's a Love Goddess who has the power to repair the bonds between ponies and spread love wherever she goes. Compared to the Physical Goddess level abilities her aunts show, this doesn't seem as impressive. Then you remember that The Power of Friendship is the most powerful magic in the world, and The Power of Love is it's close cousin. Cue her and her husband-to-be using The Power of Loveto deliver a Heart Beat-Down to Queen Chrysalis that sends her and her minions hurtling over the horizon. We see in the Season 3 opener that her love magic is capable of repelling King Sombra, an ancient and extremely powerful unicorn king who took both her super powered aunts to defeat a thousand years ago.
The Hecate Sisters: The three alicorns in Season 2: Cadance is the Maiden, Celestia is the Mother, and Luna is the Crone (despite being younger than Celestia, thanks to her role and personality).
Heel-Face Turn: At the end of "Keep Calm and Flutter On" Discord finally fixes the chaos he caused after Fluttershy declares her friendship with him is over, realizing that he didn't want to lose the only friend he ever had in the first place.
It's worth pointing out that he promised to use his powers for good instead of evil "most of the time," and that he took special interest in hearing that Twilight would be left in charge of the Elements of Harmony.
In Twilight's Kingdom Part 2, Tirek draining Discord is accompanied by a distorted, possibly reversed version of his normal drain sound effect.
Helping Granny Cross the Street: Rainbow Dash feels outshined by Mare Do Well, and unable to find anyone in need of rescuing, obstinately insists on "helping" Granny Smith cross the street even though she didn't want to cross it at all.
Nearly saves Fluttershy from corruption in the season two premiere. Discord starts mocking her about how weak and useless she is, expecting her to get riled up and protest about how her kindness has done so much good... but instead, her self-esteem is so crappy she "agrees" with him wholeheartedly, and starts talking about how grateful she is to have friends who are willing to help her so much because she's good for so little, despite the fact that this is the pony who walked up to a raging manticore, made a dragon cry, and stared down a cockatrice that was turning her to stone at the time, among other things in season 1 alone. Just when it looks like she's off the hook, Discord loses his patience and corrupts her by sheer brute force.
Twilight Sparkle also has shades of this, particularly in "Boast Busters;" she's afraid of defeating a Small Name, Big Ego character in a magical contest simply because she doesn't want others to think she's showing off. This later comes into effect in "Lesson Zero," where Twilight begins mentally unhinging because she hasn't sent in her weekly friendship report and fears getting sent back to magic kindergarten, or possibly to the moon. Never mind all her positive findings before then.
Spike's reaction to praise from the Mane Six and Princess Cadance for saving everypony from the iceberg cloud in Equestria Games.
Spike: I just saw what needed to be done and reacted. Just so happens I can breathe fire, and if any of you could do that, you'd have done the same.
Heroism Won't Pay the Bills: Despite the Mane Six saving Equestria, Applejack still has to find ways to raise money to keep her farm (as shown in the episode "The Best Night Ever").
Daring Do is this when she's discovered to be real.
In Inspiration Manifestation, Twilight goes through a lot of offscreen trouble to clean up Rarity's mess. She eventually had to call in backup from Luna and Cadance, and it's made clear that the whole ordeal caused a great amount of stress.
His Own Worst Enemy: Princess Luna's worst enemy was herself. While the mane cast and her own sister had to stop her as Nightmare Moon, her suffering and even her banishment were of her own doing, mainly for her inability to deal with her jealousy and her loneliness.
Hobbits: Of the pony breeds, Earth ponies seem to fit this mold best. They also don't have overt magic or flight, making them a little more relatable to the audience.
Used in the Season 2 finale. When the Changeling invasion moves into full swing, Princess Celestia immediately calls upon the Mane 6 to get the Elements of Harmony to stop them. However, thanks to overwhelming numbers, the heroes are stopped by the Changeling army before they even manage to reach the Elements, much less use them. The trend continues in the next episode, the Season 3 premiere. Although that was less of The Worf Effect/Curb-Stomp Battle and more of Secret Test of Character mixed with the fact that the Crystal Ponies already have their own version of the Elements of Harmony in the form of the Crystal Heart. In the Season 4 premiere the Mane 6 have to sacrifice the Elements to save the day, depriving them of their phlebotinum.
The season 4 premiere starts out with Twilight Sparkle learning how to fly with her new wings with mixed results. Later in the two-parter, she is able to fly from one city to another with Spike as a passenger but not without him kissing the ground afterwards.
In "Power Ponies", the cast gets sucked into a superhero comic and receive super powers. When they first confront the villain they utterly fail to use their powers effectively. Over the course of their episode they learn to get it together.
In Twilight's Kingdom Part 2, Twilight has to raise the sun and lower the moon now that she has Celestia's and Luna's magic. It's a bit shakey, but she manages.
Most of the Mane Six are this in the episode 'The Mysterious Mare Do Well'. Sure, they weren't happy with Rainbow Dash getting a bit of a big head over getting praised for saving lives, but they were doing it just to spite somepony. And they bragged even more about it just to make her feel worse. Well, With Friends Like These......
Then there's 'Ponyville Confidential'. The citizens of Ponyville enjoyed reading about the gossip that was spread about each others, but when they were gossiped about, they got angry.
In Twilight's Kingdom Part 2, despite continually showing bitterness and hate for his brother Scorpan betraying him to save Equestria, Tirek has no qualms about stabbing Discord in the back for power.
In Lesson Zero, Rarity calls Twilight a "drama queen" when she finds out Twilight is worried about not sending her friendship report to Princess Celestia on time... while lying on a fainting couch Rarity had magically summoned because she forgot the plates for a picnic.
...which is immediately lampshaded when everyone gives her an odd look, causing her to hastily add, "...relatively speaking."
In May The Best Pet Win, Rainbow Dash tells the tortoise competing to be her pet, "This isn't a game, you know!" She immediately tells the rest of the prospective pets, "These games will determine which one of you has the most important qualities I'm looking for in a pet."
A somewhat more meta example occurs in the episode It's About Time, when Twilight Sparkle is visited by herself from the future, she declares that such a thing is not scientifically possible. Twilight, of course, is a magical purple unicorn.
In Twilight’s Kingdom Part 1, Rainbow Dash points out that Spike had bragged during the train ride about how he'd saved the Crystal Empire the last time they were there. Rarity reminds Rainbow Dash that she's fond of boasting about her own exploits.
I Am a Monster: Fluttershy in "Putting Your Hoof Down" after making Pinkie Pie and Rarity cry.
In part 1 of the series opener, Twilight Sparkle pours herself (and drinks from) a glass of what turns out to be hot sauce.
"Applebuck Season" has an exhausted and sleep-deprived Applejack mishearing Pinkie Pie's muffin recipe instructions and making muffins with potato chips, soda, lemon juice and "wheat worms" ("That must be fancy talk for earthworms!"). Cut to the local health clinic, which is overloaded with victims of food poisoning.
Nurse: There was a mishap with some of the baked goods.
Pinkie Pie: No, not baked goods... baked bads! *barf*
Averted in Inspiration Manifestation. Spike swallows the evil tome and it doesn't do a thing to him. It doesn't cure Rarity either, though.
Idiot Ball: Every mane character holds the Idiot Ball at some point, no exceptions. Even characters that would formally know better get turns to be a silly pony (usually in their own limelight episodes for spotlighting the character's personality flaws).
Special mention goes to The Cutie Pox, since Apple Bloom's entire family and everyone at school doesn't show even the slightest concern that she's been endowed with two cutie marks. That's the equivalent of someone's child growing an extra arm, and everyone just saying "He'll be a great piano player!"
Spike holds it in Inspiration Manifestation, since it's fairly obvious Rarity has gone mad with power, but decides to not tell anypony about it because he's afraid that Rarity won't consider him a friend anymore.
Idiosyncratic Wipes: During the Title Sequence, each of Twilight Sparkle's friends in the Mane Six gets one, related to their specialities (and cutie marks): a dashing rainbow for Rainbow Dash, a party balloon inflating to cover all the screen for Pinkie Pie, a growing eye twinkle for Rarity, a shower of apples for Applejack, and a swarm of butterflies for Fluttershy.
I Just Want to Be Special: The Cutie Mark Crusaders (Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle) want desperately to learn their special talents so they can earn their Cutie Marks and no longer be "Blank Flanks".
There are only eight significant recurring male characters; Spike, Big McIntosh, Snips and Snails, Donut Joe, Shining Armor, Mr. Carrot Cake, and his son Pound Cake. There are more significant background ponies than that.
The show has passed the inverse Bechdel Test (two male characters who speak about something other than a female character) only in two episodes, once with Snips and Snails have an argument about getting stuck with bubble gum, and another where Donut Joe and Gustav were arguing about whose dessert was best.
In the episode "Boast Busters", Twilight is afraid of being labeled a braggart, and so balks at using her magical skills to one-up a boastful unicorn. She finally beats a hasty retreat by claiming, "I think I hear my laundry calling."
Possibly played with, also in "Boast Busters", when Spike makes a somewhat panicked exit after declaring that Twilight is the most magical unicorn in Ponyville while standing beside his crush Rarity who is also a unicorn, not giving an even remotely reasonable explanation but exclaiming: "Oh, um...*cough* Hey, Rarity...I...MUSTACHE!" immediately before darting off screen.
In "Look Before You Sleep", both Rarity and Applejack try to get out of Twilight's slumber party (or rather, spending time with each other) by suddenly remembering pressing engagements. Rarity's is plausible but vague, but Applejack's is simply, "I'm powerful late for... something."
In "Party of One", Rainbow Dash actually draws a wristwatch on her foreleg in order to have an excuse to say "Oh, look at the time!" and get out of explaining to Pinkie why she and Fluttershy can't attend her next party. She and Fluttershy then claim to be late to house — sorry, cavesitting for a vacationing bear (that loves to play seashells and collect volleyball).
This being Pinkie Pie, she finds this excuse to be the most plausible excuse any of her friends have come up with, compared to: Twilight studying for the princess- which is her favorite spare time activity, Applejack picking apples- which, as the head of an apple orchard, is something she does almost every day, and Rarity washing her hair (although Rarity did stick her head directly into the trash can to make the excuse more believable, because Pinkie told her her hair looked clean).
In "Sweet and Elite", Rarity has a series of them whilst trying to make excuses so she can switch between a fancy garden party and Twilight Sparkle's birthday party. Whilst initially she goes with sensible ones like "I need the little filly's room", she runs out of scenarios quickly and finally winds up just saying "I have to... to go to the-to the thing with the... stuff, you know..."
In Twilight's Kingdom Part 2, Twilight, who is trying to control her new powers gained from the other three princesses, says "Gotta go... somewhere... else." to avoid talking to Spike.
The main cast all take the names and basic appearances of characters from previous generations of the franchise, but the resemblance pretty much ends there. Lauren Faust primarily based the mane cast's personalities on how she used to play with her own My Little Pony toys as a kid — toys that weren't even of the same characters except for Applejack. She also used the ponies from the G1 cartoon as inspiration.
Also goes for many background ponies, both those that have been given a name in the show and those that only have Fan Nicknames.
In "MMMystery on the Friendship Express", Pinkie Pie makes wild assumptions that the other three bakers were responsible for eating her cake, skipping the part where you give reasons to your conclusions entirely. Twilight quickly points out that each of her claims were ridiculous.
In "Applebuck Season", a sleep-deprived Applejack uses this to justify all the ways she mishears Pinkie Pie's list of ingredients for the muffins they're making.
Pinkie Pie: A cup of flour... Applejack: "A cup o' sour?" Well, lemons are sure sour...
Rainbow Dash has had this on occasions. First when Rarity asked her how to make a dress, she wanted her to make it twenty percent cooler. Another instance we have her wanting to choose a pet, and she lists "coolness, awesomeness, and radicalness" as three different categories, and of course she never explains the difference.
Twilight Sparkle, while normally logical and calculating, has fallen to this a few times, most notably when she's trying to impress Princess Celestia. In "Lesson Zero," Twilight is about to miss sending the princess her weekly letter. Twilight responds that if she misses one assignment, the princess will think Twilight is not taking her studies seriously, and give her a test. If Twilight fails the test, she'll be sent back a grade. But because of how much she failed, she'll be sent to magic kindergarten. Therefore, missing any assignment will cause Twilight to go back to kindergarten.
In Equestria Games, when the torch seemingly lights up on its own, Spike concludes he must have lit it with his mind.
Interquel: The German magazine comicApple Blooms großes Abenteuer is about the first meetup of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, and is thus set after the episode "Call of the Cutie" and before all of the episodes involving the club.
In the Name of the Moon: the first preformance of the mares as magical girls involved this; it's completely improvised, and almost perfectly executed (you can see Twilight's eyes glancing down for a second, looking for the right words) because Twilight Sparkle is just that eloquent. An especially ironic example given who the villain is.
Ironic Echo: Played with. During "Sonic Rainboom", Fluttershy says to Rainbow Dash (who's suffering from a bad case of stage fright) that there's no reason to feel nervous about facing a crowd of ponies who will watch, criticize, and judge each and every one of her moves. Later, during "Green Isn't Your Color" Photo Finish gives Fluttershy a similar speech when the nervous pegasus is about to begin her first modeling pass.
Discord does this by breaking apart the mane cast's friendship, breaking and Mind Raping them, driving everyone they care about insane, and turning their homeland into a World Gone Mad. By the end, they're reasonably ticked off at him. This is most clear with Fluttershy, who furiously calls him "THAT...BIG...DUMB...MEANIE!!!" at one point. For Fluttershy, that's pretty much the meanest thing she's ever (willingly) said about anyone at the time.
I Warned You: Nearly every episode in which Twilight isn't the main focus has her basically lampshading the Aesop partway through the story. The Idiot Ball is essentially the only reason she lacks this kind of foresight in her own episodes.
I Wish It Were Real: Some bronies wished the show's ponies were real (either to show their fondness to the characters or they genuinely wished they exist in real life). Fan works depicting them as pets, friends or them popping out of TV screens/monitors or coming to life from paper drawings are common within the fandom (with Pinkie Pie being depicted quite often for obvious reasons).
Longing for Fictionland: The reverse is also prominent within the fandom. Fan works and discussions about what would happen if they get transported to Equestria are quite common. Often it involves turning into ponies themselves.
Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders use atashi.
Princess Celestia uses watakushi.
Japanese Sibling Terminology: In the Japanese dub, Apple Bloom refers to Applejack as "onee-chan", as well as Sweetie Belle towards Rarity and Twilight towards Shining Armor, Luna refers to Celestia as "onee-sama", and Applejack refers to Big Macintosh as "nii-chan" and "aniki".
Jerkass: Throughout the first two seasons, the mane six have encountered their fair share of them.
The Flim Flam Brothers from "Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000". They take this trope to such an extreme that, by the end of the episode, the entire populace of Ponyville runs them out of town.
The teenage dragons Spike encounters during "Dragon Quest". They bully Spike, call Celestia a "namby-pamby pony princess", and want to eat the Phoenix eggs.
Lightning Dust in season 3's "Wonderbolts Academy". She caused the other cadets to spin out of an obstacle course, and caused a tornado in order to clear the most clouds despite already being so far ahead it was redundant. The move went out of control and destroyed a portion of Cloudsdale, as well as swallowed up Rainbow's friends who just happened to fly in to visit. Rainbow Dash managed to save her friends, while Lightning Dust makes light of the situation afterward. Rainbow Dash angrily called her out on her stunts that could have potentially hurt some ponies or worse, but that she didn't seem to care because they "won".
Jerkass Ball: A large premise in most episodes (often combined with Idiot Ball). Expect the main dilemma of most stories to be caused by one of the ponies acting arrogant, self centered or even borderline insane. Every character bounces this at least once in the series (usually in their limelight episodes).
In "The Cutie Pox", Diamond Tiara probably only calls Apple Bloom out on her cutie marks which were caused by Cutie Pox being fake in order to take her down a peg when a second one appears, since she hates anypony taking the spotlight away from her. Still, she's 100% right, and even the teacher Cheerilee shares her skepticism.
Fluttershy gets one herself in "Putting Your Hoof Down" when she talks about how Pinkie Pie and Rarity want "Pushover Fluttershy" back. Yeah, she was being mean about it, but it's been shown plenty of times before and since in which her friends will take advantage of her kindness. But really, Pinkie and Rarity were HAPPY that Fluttershy was finally standing up for herself. They only tried to put a stop to it when they saw Fluttershy had become needlessly vindictive and aggressive.
Queen Chrysalis also gets one when she brags to the cast that she managed to carry out her plan to take over Equestria even when Twilight Sparkle thinks something is wrong with Princess Cadance who was actually Chrysalis herself in disguise thanks to all of Twilight's friends not believing her and coldly walking out on her when she tried to explain herself. It was at that point when the others have a Jerkass Realization and apologize to Twilight.
In Inspiration Manifestation, while the puppeteer could have been nicer about his criticism towards the puppet theater Rarity built, ample stage space and mobility are far more important for a traveling puppeteer than how shiny it looks.
Jerk Jock: The three male pegasi who bully Rainbow Dash in Cloudsdale. Their cutie marks are a dumbbell, three basketballs, and three American footballs.
Rainbow Dash herself and Applejack are milder examples of Jerk Jocks when they laugh at Twilight for entering the Running of the Leaves.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Rainbow Dash is this the majority of time, being egotistical and aggressive, but loyal and altrustic to her friends. Do not bully them.
Rarity can be considered a mild example, she's vain and greedy at times, but it is heavily outweighed by her genorosity and empathetic moments.
Fluttershy's pet rabbit, Angel Bunny. He comes off as an abrasive spoiled child at times but he's shown that he really does care about his owner.
Spike also fits. He may be lazy and snarky, but he really cares about Twilight and the others, and is still a good guy.
Justified Trope: Revealing the source of a seemingly hard-to-justify trope is often used as a punchline.
In the season 3 finale, the mane characters and Princess Celestia do this to Twilight Sparkle, who became an alicorn as a result of creating new magic and ascended to princesshood.
Also, Luna gets this in the Nightmare Night episode. Occasionally happens to Celestia if she appears suddenly, such as in Fall Weather Friends.
Also, everyone in the Crystal Empire does this to Cadence in the season 3 opener — activating the Crystal Heart in the process.
In Equestria Games, when praising Spike for saving everypony and the Games, Princess Cadance prostrates herself before him so that her entire body and head are level with the baby dragon's shoulders, and addresses him in the custom of her subjects as Great and Honorable Spike the Brave and Glorious.
The CanterlotWedding has the Changeling Queen, Chrysalis, who plans to feed off of the love and magic of Princess Cadence's groom, Shining Armor, in order to enable her invading army to breach the magical Deflector Shield that Shining Armor cast over the capital city and seize control over all of Equestria.
King Sombra, the villain of the third season's premiere "The Crystal Empire," is arguably the most evil antagonist yet seen on the show between the sheer scale of his atrocities and the fact that a selfish lust for power is apparently his only motivation for it all.note As mentioned, Nightmare Moon has a highly sympathetic backstory, while Discord and Chrysalis's crimes at least were, in part, a result of their very natures. Unlike earlier villains of his tier, his episode almost treats him less like a character than a disembodied force of hostility (hence his few lines of dialogue; he prefers monstrous roars instead), and in a first for this show, he's seemingly Killed Off for Real in the end. Naturally, outside of some tension-lightening comedic moments, the overall events of the episode are presented quite seriously even when compared to past two-parters.
Babs Seed, while not as dark as the other examples from the show is a much more realistic and scary portrayal of a bully than one would probably expect from the show including her excuse for her actions, especially jarring compared to the relatively harmless Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon.
Lord Tirek from the Season 4 finale takes the cake out of all the previous Knights in the show, considering he's literally stealing everypony's destiny by robbing them of their magic and cutie marks.
Knockout Gas: In "Mmmystery on the Friendship Express", Pinkie gives explanations for how culprits could have committed a crime, all of which parody movies. One of these involves her getting knocked out by gas.
Know Your Vines: In "Bridle Gossip", the mane six walk through a patch of bright blue flowers to stop Apple Bloom following Zecora. The next morning they wake with embarrassing changes, such as Pinkie's swollen tongue, that they blame Zecora for. Eventually it is revealed that the flowers were 'poison joke' and the effects were pranks. Played by the plant.
Kubrick Stare: Pinkie Pie gives a surprisingly chilling one in "Party of One".