Unicorn magic in general seems to have the potential to become this. Many unicorns don't appear to do much more than use their telekinesis plus a "theme" spell or two, but the variety of effects that the real wizards among them can spontaneously create with the right spells (which themselves seem more a collection of random effects than they'd follow any actual system or logic that we ever see) is quite dazzling. Alicorn magic is apparently immensely more powerful.
Twilight Sparkle has the range of effects but not the raw power of someone like Discord. She was the one who turned an animal into a fruit, and switched around the cutie marks. (In both cases it wasn't quite what she was going for.) Twilight's Game Breaker-if-she-had-better-control powers are explained as most unicorns having magic related to their special talent, whereas Twilight's special talent is magic itself, giving her an unlimited range of spells (though nowhere near the raw power of the princesses... yet.)
Inspiration Manifestation is a Spell Book that contains a spell allowing its owner to alter things to match their imagined version of it. Spike gives it to Rarity so she can use it to fix her puppet theater, which the puppeteer she built it for was disappointed in, but she quickly goes mad from the spell's power, planning to alter all of Equestria to match her idea of beauty (which basically means turning everything into a golden, gem-incrusted version of itself).
Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: St- st- stuttering and, um, disfluencies usually only crop up to indicate that someone is nervous (naturally, this happens most often with Fluttershy). The rest of the time, everypony speaks in perfectly formed sentences, even the canonically less educated Apple family.
In the episode "Lesson Zero", Twilight Sparkle enchants her childhood plaything with a spell that causes everyone to want it for themselves. After the spell is dispelled, the doll is left on the ground, and then picked up by Big MacIntosh, one of the few recurring male characters.
To clarify: Big Mac is a very large (Draft horse?) stallion who works on his family's farm, is incredibly strong and tireless even by Earth Pony standards, and is implied in several background events to be a Chick Magnet...and he likes dolls.
Spike seems especially prone to this trope, what with his desire to attend the Grand Galloping Gala in "The Ticket Master", wearing a pink apron in "Dragon Quest" and even playing with pony dolls in "A Canterlot Wedding".
Recurring Extra: There are a lot of them in the show. The background ponies are the most well known and the most numerous, due to the fact that the show is centered around ponies though non-pony extras do appear from time to time.
The computer-based animation actually encourages this. As Ponies can be reused relatively easily versus creating a new character each time, it becomes easier to have Recurring Extras rather than create crowds wholesale.
This has become less common over time, as the library of character models expands. In some of the early episodes, crowds were generated by building a group of 4-6 ponies and copy-pasting them several times within the same scene.
Red Shirt: The Royal Guard has, to put it nicely, a disastrous track record in about anything. Arrest someone? They get zapped. Find a stolen bird? They get bluffed by the culprits. National Emergency? They're not even there. Guard the Archives? They unlock the doors for the intruders. Capital under attack? They get overrun without effort. Neighbouring state in peril? They play messenger. Seeing how they're Bodyguarding a Badass, you have to wonder what their purpose is beyond projecting authority.
Canadian So Soft talking dolls (at least So Soft Newborn Rainbow Dash) can speak English or French. The Canadian version of the talking Princess Cadance toy likely can as well, judging by its packaging being bilingual.
There are several European special editions with often-exclusive bonus contents, the most prominent of the exclusive bonus contents being brushable non-Glimmer Wings Daisy Dreams with her cutie mark on her right flank (in a 1 + 1 pack with brushable Fluttershy), brushable Rainbow Flash (in a 1 + 1 pack with brushable Rainbow Dash), brushable Skywishes (in the ride along brushable Rainbow Dash set), brushable Star Swirl (in the Rarity's Royal Gem Carriage set), and the orange carriage and purple squirrel (in the Rarity's Carousel Boutique set).
Remember the New Guy: The show, like its earlier incarnations but to a much lesser extent, occasionally names ponies that have never appeared before, such as Junebug and Lickety Splitnote A colt which, by the way, shares the same name with an earlier-generation pony who looks nothing like him and is a filly.. The odd thing about the former is that Twilight knows her name, despite Twilight still being rather shut-in and having enough trouble dealing with her best friends.
Miss Cheerilee's class is probably the most blatant example; new students, like Featherweight that random fat colt, suddenly show up and are treated as if they've always been there by the others.note In this case, at least some of them are students from another class, as Cheerilee's class gains a stable roster in the second season.
The season 2 finale introduces both Twilight's brother, and Princess Cadance. What makes this especially egregious is that Twilight claims her brother was her only real friend before she moved to Ponyville (despite her earlier statements that she didn't have any friends before then), which makes it odd that we never hear about him for the first 2 seasons of the show.
Also turned a bit on its head, as during the first episode narration, we are blatantly told that Equestria was ruled by two sisters, blah blah blah, banished to the moon, something Twilight should obviously know as she's the one reading the book. This fact is outright ignored, even as she finds other sources to corroborate. Cut to the end of the pilot, where all of the mane six, Twilight included, are stunned that Luna is Celestia's sister. In this case, the problem is that Twilight didn't know that Celestia was the older sister from the legend, and so didn't realize that Celestia and Luna were related.
The show has been very consistent about the events of a thousand years ago having faded into legend, with actual reliable history going back less than a millennium. Why has never been explained, but is assumed to have to do with all the villains from back then.
The ponies of Ponyville should probably be the first to recognize Nightmare Moon, as they annually celebrate Nightmare Night where Nightmare Moon is a traditional villain, and they have a huge statue of her near the forest.
Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Dragons are the most recurring antagonistic monsters, though it varies between episode and each dragon how antagonistic they are. In the "Dragon Quest" episode, The dragons that get any dialogue are cruel (although this might be because they are decpicted as teenagers). They even go so far as to try to smash a nest of helpless, unguarded phoenix eggs. There's also the hydra from "Feeling Pinkie Keen".
Reptiles aren't Always Chaotic Evil — Spike and Steven Magnet aren't (most of thetime) and Pinkie's pet baby toothless alligator Gummy may also be nice, as while it bites Pinkie (and other characters) regularly, it could just be how it shows affection. However, in "Secret Of My Excess", Spike's transformation into a mindless greedy monster is accompanied by his more blatant reptilian traits: long thin tongue, eye membrane, etc.
Reveal Shot: This show is all about camera dynamics. For example, in "Bridle Gossip", the camera is zoomed into Twilight Sparkle's face as she wakes up to hide the fact that her horn is "cursed" by Poison Joke.
Revisiting The Roots: The series zigzags this by returning to the adventure stories that were seen in the first generation of the franchise in certain episodes, but is mostly comprised of the Slice of Life style seen in most other MLP shows.
Zecora, particularly impressive in "The Cutie Pox", where she sets herself up to make a rhyme with "tooth" before she sees that Apple Bloom chipped her tooth (From Apple Bloom's posture, it was an easy guess).
Although there was a gag in the main MLP comic #9 where she noted (In rhyme, naturally) that she needed a moment to think up a rhyme for her next comment.
Not as frequently as Zecora, but Pinkie Pie still likes to rhyme a lot... especially when she's singing.
Discord. Not as often as Zecora, mind you, but loves handing out torturous riddles. He normally sounds far more menacing while doing so as well.
Iron Will: When somepony tries to block, show them that YOU ROCK! Iron Will: Never apologize when you can criticize!
Riddle for the Ages: Where dowinged unicorns come from? How many of them are there, and are they all royalty or even, for that matter, related? (So far we have the sisters Celestia and Luna, Celestia's apparent niece Cadance, and some unnamed mare who was part of the Hearts And Hooves day myth, all princesses.) As of mid-third season, no episode aired has ever addressed this; even the "Hearth's Warming Eve" pageant, whose story is explicitly set before the reign of Celestia and Luna, already features the winged unicorn motif on the Equestrian flag.
In the third season finale, "Magicial Mystery Cure", Rarity tells Twilight "Why, you've become an alicorn! I didn't even know that was possible," implying this isn't the normal way alicorns come into existence.
Although 'Twilight Sparkle and the Crystal Heart Spell' implies that this is the normal way alicorns come into existence (by having Cadance share a similar origin), so fans are left guessing if this is case of 'Rarity was just wrong', 'novel tie-ins don't count', or 'the writers haven't made up their mind yet'.
The message of the show is decidedly romantic at first glance; emotions and friendship are important, and the Enlightened main character must learn that lesson repeatedly. However, it's not quite that simple; Twilight Sparkle's perspective is shown as having its flaws, but she's far from "always wrong," and her task-oriented character, intelligence and logical skills help save the day at least as often as they cause problems for her. The actual moral tends to be that the Enlightenment needs to give Romanticism its due, but that doesn't make it a bad thing.
Foreshadowed by the opening, where Rarity makes a puppet stand and it's completely unusable by the very puppeteer it's made for. The following events are a series of that very formula one-upping itself.
Twilight Sparkle delivers one of these in "The Return of Harmony, Part 2."
Twilight Sparkle: Do you remember what I said the first day we arrived in Ponyville? I told you that the future of Equestria didn't rest on me making friends. But the opposite is true! The friendships I've made since I've been here are what saved Equestria from Nightmare Moon. And now they need to save it from Discord! [...] I've got to fight for my friendships. For them. For ME. For EQUESTRIA!
In Equestria Games, Rainbow Dash gives one to the other Ponyville competitors at the start. When it comes to her team, however, she acknowledges that being pitted against the Wonderbolts doesn't put the odds in their favour.
Rousseau Was Right: Almost everybody, pony or otherwise, has at least some spark of decency tucked away somewhere and can potentially be redeemed even if they start out antagonistic; exceptions for whom this statement is at the very least questionable are pretty rare and usually Big Bads. (And even among those, Nightmare Moon/Princess Luna is practically the poster pony for the trope.)
Another milder example in Celestia's case is that she notably took up tutoring and technically raising the show's asocialbookworm hero, Twilight Sparkle, for the remainder of her childhood, as well as Spike.
It is also worth note that she is consistently portrayed at having very little to no free time, as her official responsibilities often drag her away from things she'd rather be doing.
Then there's villainous Queen Chrysalis of the changelings, whose duties involve actively searching and providing food sources for her subjects. She also infiltrates Canterlot and leads the invasion on Equestria.
It happened in the backstory, but Princess Mi Amore Cadenza babysitting a young Twilight Sparkle probably wasn't a royal duty.
Her duties as the ruler of the Crystal Empire includes raising a massive barrier to protect it should some terrible evil threaten it, and keep that barrier going until said evil is vanquished, no matter how long it takes. Sleep? This princess sleeps when the job is done, not before.
During the royal wedding preparations, Luna spends the nights keeping watch over Canterlot. As in, patrolling the grounds and surveilling key points with a large telescope.
Princess Luna is also the protector of dreams. Meaning that she sneaks around inside ponies' dreams and vanquishes anything that could cause distress or fright.
In Inspiration Manifestation, the Princesses seem to be at Equestria's beck and call to solve big magical problems: Twilight gets called to rescue two ponies from the crystallized gazebo, and Princesses Cadence and Luna assist her in fixing Rarity's messes in Ponyville later on.
In Equestria Games, when the cloud falls, Celestia and Luna are seen entering the fray like all the pegasi. This picture◊ proves it. Twilight (attending the games in a royal capacity, complete with crown) is also about to lend assistance, but Spike makes his move before she can act.
Deconstructed in Twilights Kingdom Part 1. Twilight spends most of the episode lamenting how she hasn't been given much to do as a princess other than "smile an wave" and unfurl a banner for some visiting dignitaries, and is especially distraught when Celestia tasks Discord over her with tracking down the escapee from Tartarus. Twilight is finally given a role at the end of the episode when the other princesses inform her that they must rid themselves of their magic to protect it from Tirek.
Birds have to keep flapping their wings in order to stay airborne, and hitting anything will cause them to fall — unless you are giving a mid-air high-five to the princess's awesome pet, Philomena.
Even worse, in "Hurricane Fluttershy", Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy high five each other in midair using their wings.
Crossing the sound barrier doesn't create a spectacular light show, it's just extremely noisy — also, any light would reach any witnesses before the audible shockwave, instead of the other way around… unless caused by a rainbow-haired pegasus.
Do note that Equestrian physics might be different from those that apply in the real world.
Well, apparently so, because there is something that allows Rainbow Dash to pull 1670 Gs when she rockets out of the dive at a 90-degree angle in "Sonic Rainboom" and somehow not get ripped to shreds.
A Wizard Did It: The pegasi's flight is explicitly magical in nature. As such, Rainbow can fly ten times faster than any Earth creature despite being just barely aerodynamic enough to glide slightly when jumping.
An adorable, baby fire-breathing dragon is permitted to live in a library full of paper books and scrolls. His fire is known to only teleport scrolls to Princess Celestia rather than burn them, but the same doesn't seem to apply with the book in "Owl's Well that Ends Well".
In "The Cutie Mark Chronicles", when visiting Manehattan, a young Applejack is shown carrying a Bindle Stick — without actually holding on to it, but somehow effortlessly balancing it across her back despite the high end being heavier than the lower end.
The butterflies cushioned downwards, so, let's say terminal velocity rapidly going through 5 half lives before hitting zero, 1/32 of terminal before hitting zero.
Equestria is, for lack of a better term, a nudist civilization, however characters will wear clothing often either as a sign of their occupation (mail carriers wear uniforms, doctors wear white coats, etc.) or as a sign of social status (the wealthy often wear dresses and dress jackets). Applejack lampshades this when Rarity insists on having privacy while getting dressed for the Gala, pointing out "we don't normally wear clothes."
When settler ponies raising apple trees are offered a chance to find out why a buffalo tribe doesn't want them around, while at the same time the buffalo could find out why the ponies planted trees on their land, the mane characters get in the way and accidentally push both sides into an actual battle.
When a visiting stage magician brags about how great her powers are and starts humiliating some of the mane characters, the character who knows magic like the back of her hoof refuses to do anything because she's afraid of also appearing to be a show-off. (Twilight's insecurity is one of her main character traits.)
Rule of Fun: Pinkie Pie may run on Rule of Funny, but as the Element of Laughter, Rule of Fun is her primary motivation in life. Her destiny, as reflected by her cutie mark, revolves on doing whatever it takes to make her friends smile.
"I had never felt joy like that before! It felt so good, I wanted to keep smiling forever! And I wanted everyone I knew to smile too. But rainbows don't come along that often. I wondered how else I could create some smiles." — Pinkie Pie in "The Cutie Mark Chronicles", recounting her reaction the first time she saw a rainbow.
A pony-drawn locomotive (that is, a train with a working steam engine being pulled along by horses).
In the episode "Applebuck Season" we see one of the ponies who ate bad muffins throwing up into a bucket. Real horses can't vomit, but cartoon animals do.
Pretty much anything Pinkie Pie does.
In particular, Pinkie Pie once appeared in a mirror to chastise Twilight for telling Spike's not-so-secret secret.
In "Spike At Your Service", Spike's ineptitude. The same dragon who baked treats for everyone in "Owl's Well That Ends Well" and "Dragon Quest", as well as cooking mini-quiche with his fiery breath in "A Bird In The Hoof", suddenly can't bake to save his neck.
Rule of Glamorous: Many of the outfits that Rarity designs would be worth millions of dollars in the real world due to the sheer amount of precious gemstones that she sews into them. However, even with her talent for finding gems she is still just a small business owner and not a mining tycoon. The implication seems to be that gems are a lot more common in Equestria than real life, and they tend to be much bigger than even Earth's largest precious stones. Mr. and Mrs. Cake even put sapphires on a cupcake as a birthday present for Spike (who, being a dragon, eats gems as a delicacy).
Rule of Perception: Played with in "Call of the Cutie": when Apple Bloom is trying to hide, she chooses several spots that would be in plain sight to anyone actually at the party, but which hide her from the viewers.
At the beginning of "Owl's Well That Ends Well", when Rarity walks in between Rainbow Dash and the viewers, Rainbow Dash randomly starts hovering in order to remain visible to the camera.
The coloured auras that appear around a unicorn's horn while they cast spells or around levitating objects are only visible to the audience. While some spells are visible to the characters, they can't identify the caster the way the audience can. This comes up a couple of times at the end of the second season, first rendering a character unable to tell that magic was used, and then to give the audience a clue that the characters can't perceive. This is made explicit in MMMystery on the Friendship Express, when motion without a visible cause is identified as unicorn magic.
Similarly, in "The Return of Harmony", Twilight Sparkle could not see the color fading as a cue that her friends were corrupted, seeing only that they had suddenly become jerks and she didn't know how orwhy.
Spike was able to see that the other five have turned "grey"...
Rule of Seven: According to the tradingcards, there exists a seventh element of harmony: Love, which is attributed to Shining Armor and Cadance. It's not known if this will appear on the show or not.
Rule of Three: Each of the mane ponies' cutie marks have something to do with the number three. Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie have three apples, gems, butterflies and balloons as their cutie marks respectively. The lightning bolt on Rainbow Dash's cutie mark is composed of three colors.
Also, all of the lead characters barring Twilight Sparkle have exactly three syllables in their names.
Also applies to the Cutie Mark Crusaders. There are three of them, and all three have names that consist of three syllables.
There are three types of ponies (Earth ponies, Unicorns and Pegasi), and both the mane cast and the Cutie Mark Crusaders are made up of an even balance between these types.
With the two groups combined, there are three of each.
Story-wise, many episodes rely on a minimum of three ponies regardless of how many are the actual focus characters - "Look before you Sleep", based around Applejack and Rarity, adds Twilight Sparkle to the mix, and "Putting your Hoof Down" has Rarity and Pinkie Pie in a Fluttershy ep.
This often ties in with the concept of the Freudian Trio, especially in Season 1 episodes where Twilight Sparkle usually acted as the Ego (such as "look before you sleep" where Applejack was the Id and Rarity was the Superego). The show likes to invert the freudian trio a lot too, where the central character's behavior is out of balance and two other characters will try to correct them.
Applejack biting Rainbow Dash's tail to stop her when she tries to dash away or charge against a much stronger foe.
Twilight Sparkle also uses her magic to to this a few times as well.
Applejack's habit of shoving food (or hooves) into other pony's mouths to get them to stop talking.
Three earth ponies called Rose, Daisy, and Lily going hysterical and overblowing things out of proportion at the slightest hint of danger. ("The horror... THE HORROR!")
Rainbow Dash has a tendency to… drop in unannounced. Onto your head. Hey, she wasn't called "Rainbow Crash" for nothing.
Twilight becoming slightly neurotic whenever Princess Celestia comes to Ponyville, insisting everything be perfect for whenever Celestia comes to visit, even if it's unofficial.
Taken Up to Eleven in Lesson Zero when she believes her normally flawless work ethic is at risk, a prospect which causes her great distress.
Ever since the debut of the "Pinkie Sense" in Feeling Pinkie Keen, every few episodes, Pinkie Pie has a bout of "Twitchy-tail," which indicates something falling. Every time it has happened outside of that episode, it has always been a flower pot. The first time it happens, there's a perfectly logical reason as to why it fell. Someone opened their window, and knocked it loose. The second time, it happened inside a tent, and it still fell from the sky. No damage to the tent whatsoever. They make sure to lampshade it.
Pinkie Pie: Oh, my fortune telling has nothing to do with my Pinkie Sense, silly. It's only good for vague and immediate events.
*Cue flower pot drop to Twilight Sparkle's head*
Pinkie Pie: Like that, see? *Beat* Where did that even come from?
Finally subverted in "Princess Twilight Sparkle", as the "Twitchy-tail" is followed not by a flowerpot landing on the titular princess, but a huge vine hitting Rarity in the head.
The Apple family barn has been destroyed, rebuilt and renovated how many times now? (Add another count as of "Apple Family Reunion", where it gets first accidentally wrecked and then promptly completely rebuilt with the help of all the assembled Apples, all within the last few minutes of the episode underscored by a catchy song-and-dance number, at that.)
Lyra being in Cloudsdale was answered in the same episode via the fact that Twilight has access to a book that contains a spell that allows non-pegasi to walk on clouds. Lyra was apparently a student at the same school Twilight was since we see her in the pilot in Canterlot. It's possible she knows the same spell via similar means.
Interestingly, she has several prominent running gags, including her her inadvertent destructiveness, her maladroit tendencies, and her now nearly Once an Episode background appearances in odd places.
Spike getting flattened because of standing in front of a opening door.
Sailor Earth: My Little Pony has Loads and Loads of Characters in pretty much all its incarnations, and there's a ton of "OC Pony" fan-art out there. This show in particular has inspired fanfic not only about the "Seventh Element of Harmony", but Evil Counterparts to the Elements (Generosity vs. Selfishness/Greed, Laughter vs. Despair, etc.), usually known collectively as the Elements of Discord.
Trixie making a Heel-Face Turn and becoming the Seventh Element is quite common.
Fan favorite Derpy Hooves is often depicted as hanging out with and interacting with the Mane 6. Her fanon-established daughter Dinky is similarily often included with the Cutie Mark Crusaders (despite having been repeatedly depicted with a cutie mark, although it keeps changing).
Besides, as it is a world inhabited by what's deemed to be MANY Ponies, one simply needs a name and a cutie mark... you would be hard pressed to find a brony without a Pony OC.
Sanity Slippage: Happens to every one of the mane six at some point or another.
Even Fluttershy suffers this during "The Best Night Ever," after repeated failures in getting to spend time with the animals at the gardens of the Gala, and even caps it off with an Evil Laugh.
She gets another turn of this in "Putting Your Hoof Down," after getting her assertiveness training from Iron Will. Her anger results in her becoming more of a crazy bitch every hour, and increasingly tantrum-prone, paranoid and aggressive.
In "Party of One", several ponies attempt, badly, to fake the sounds of power tools. At one point, Rainbow Dash can be heard saying "Drill, drill!" and Twilight Sparkle can be heard saying "Safety gear!"
In the episode "May The Best Pet Win", Rainbow Dash declares that the final challenge for who's going to be her pet is a race through Ghastly Gorge.
Rainbow Dash: DUN DUN DUNNNNN!
In addition to actual chewing noises when scarfing down the ice cream, Rarity can be heard sounding out "nom nom nom" in Inspiration Manifestation.
Scenery Porn: The series takes full advantage of this (take these two◊ shots◊ for example). The color, fluidity and amount of tiny details crammed into general shots are impressive. Some episodes use backgrounds that have never been seen before and are unlikely ever to be seen again, like the Training Montage in "Call of the Cutie", the fall foliage in "Fall Weather Friends", and the Wild West scenery throughout "Over a Barrel". There's also the pegasus city of Cloudsdale, an entirecity made of clouds and rainbows. Its a pretty Sugar Bowl! In fact, Cloudsdale◊ looks very similar to Mount Olympus◊ from Disney's Hercules (which also falls under this trope).
Schizo Tech: The baseline level of technology in the show was at one point supposed to be evocative of Medieval Fantasy. Most of the buildings in Ponyville are half-timbered, thatched-roof cottages, and Twilight, Spike and Celestia exclusively write with quill feather pens on scrolls. Exceptions to this were originally going to be Handwaved as Magitek by Word of Godnote See question 18 here, but it rapidly became clear that the overall technological level was more consistent with the early 20th century, a standard which was more closely stuck to in seasons 2 and 3, which also made it much easier to introduce various things that were useful to the writers. However, there is massive variability:
Twilight, Spike, and Celestia use quills to write, and frequently use scrolls for their letters back and forth, but we see fairly modern printed books, 20th century pencils with erasers on their end, a few fountain pens are seen, and we see what appear to be crayons and markers on several occasions. Typewriters also appear. Of course, Celestia may simply be a holdout, with her student imitating her teacher while the rest of the world has long since moved on to more modern writing instruments.
The more Crystal Spires and Togas style of architecture in Canterlot and the Classical looking cloud buildings in Cloudsdale recall older (if fantastic) architecture, but the Wonderbolts Academy looks like a 20th century military base and Manehattan looks like early 20th century New York City. The Ponyville schoolhouse also appears to be of fairly modern (18th, 19th, or 20th century) construction. A steel-frame building is also seen under construction in Ponyville in the Mysterious Mare-Do-Well.
Streetlights that seem to contain fireflies (or Navi?), but also lanterns containing candles, and flashlights and spotlights as well as light switches.
Hourglasses, cuckoo clocks, pocket watches, stopwatches and wrist watches, all alongside each other.
Photo booths, old-fashioned daguerreotype cameras that can take color photos, and hoof-free cameras with built-in flashes.
Medical care shows evidence not only of X-rays and EKG machines, but hip replacement surgery is mentioned in Ticket Master, a procedure not done successfully until the 1940s. Likewise, there appear to be vaccines and medicinal pills, possibly including antibiotics. On the other hand, some limited healing magic seems to exist, such as Zecora's potion which fixes Apple Bloom's chipped tooth; some of the other medical devices seen may be magical in nature as well.
Wireless microphones not seen until the second half of the 20th century, late 20th century speakers, and mid-to-late 20th century megaphones.
While refrigerators existed in the early 20th century, the ones seen on the show look like they were constructed after World War II.
Mid-20th century hang gliders.
Mid-20th century bowling alley, with what appears to be automated pinspotters.
Mid-to-late 20th century hazmat suits
Perhaps most egregiously, a stand-up arcade machine is seen in Hearts and Hooves day, implying the existence of integrated circuits, assuming it does not run on magic; no other advanced computing devices appear in the series.
Modern-looking vacuum cleaners.
"Feeling Pinkie Keen" brought confirmed electricity and added a myriad of tech that seems taken from a Frankenstein movie (for when Twilight Sparkle tries to understand Pinkie Pie's ability to predict the future with SCIENCE!).
Way back in "Look Before You Sleep" Twilight Sparkle explains that her tree is protected by a magical lightning rod. As explained by Word of God and in-universe, it is Magitek. Amusingly, real-life lightning rods are entirely non-magical, extremely easy to construct, and work quite well.
Fluttershy has a steam radiator heating system in her sod-roof cottage.
Knowledge of comets that seems just a little too advanced for the displayed technology/society so far in "Owl's Well That Ends Well". Though given that Equestria's rulers have dominion over celestial bodies like the sun and the moon, they might have just gotten such information from Luna/Celestia.
The entire town has centralized plumbing, complete with only one shared source for heating water for everypony (Spike managed to use all of it by taking a seven-hour bubble bath).
Typewriters! How do ponies type with hooves? The keyboards consist only of two huge round buttons.
Rap music with electronic instruments.
While most of the stuff that features in Pinkie Pie's imagination montage in "MMMystery on the Friendship Express" (especially the James Bond style watch equipped with LCD displays, micro-scale computers and wireless communication) can be dismissed as products of her imagination, the tone in which Twilight points out that there's no laser beam security system implies that lasers do exist, just not here. Though, on the other hand, a few ponies have been seen doing battle using what appear to be energy beams which shoot out of their horns.
Toys and commercials are much more varied, and show many things which do not appear in the show:
This toy commercial gives us Pinkie Pie's RC Car, and the toys themselves have that and a lot more technology—Applejack has a Farm Truck and a TV, and Canterlot Castle contains a television set, a microwave oven, and a dishwasher. The description of Twinkleshine also implies that movies exist. An upcoming Pony Weddingtoy package will give Twilight Sparkle a car that appears to be a Palette Swap of Pinkie Pie's RC Car.
One of the Polish and Norwegian magazine stories has a sick Pinkie Pie make a phone call to Twilight Sparkle. While this is plausible given the technology of the early 20th century, phones have never appeared in the show proper, and there is no visible infrastructure for them.
The Hub's advertisements for the show have some technology too. The There's a Pony For That commercial shows Twilight Sparkle using a Hub-brand smartphone (complete with pony-themed apps and Internet access), and the Ponygeist◊ billboard shows Pinkie Pie in front of a Hub-brand TV set (which is larger than either of the TVs seen in the toys). An 8-bit video game is seen in this so-titled ad.
Interestingly enough, the aforementioned scene in "A Bird in the Hoof" doesn't bend physics to the degree that most examples of the trope do. If you watch carefully, the characters always come out of a door that's set in the same house (or adjoining house) as they door they went in, until Philomena's grand exit from the scene. Neither does the one in "The Mysterious Mare Do Well", since there are at least four Mare Do Wells involved in the chase scene, one of which can canonically teleport.
Screen Shake: Standard effect for emphasizing an impact, as well as some other things.
Season Fluidity: While many episodes are standalone stories, continuity at a season and series level has become more important as the series goes on. Discord's reformation and the reappearance of the Crystal Empire, for instance, have now appeared as plot points in future episodes. Probably the biggest example, though, is Twilight's transformation into an alicorn and subsequent coronation, which looks set to inform major plot developments in Season 4.
Second Place Is for Winners: An ongoing theme of the series is that winning a competition is less important than bonding with your teammates, and that cooperation is better than competition. Winning for its own sake is not usually the point.
In the running of the fall leaves, both Applejack and Rainbow Dash are so focused on defeating each other that they both come in last. Twilight Sparkle places far ahead of what anyone expected... but even she only comes in fifth place, and is quite happy with that.
In the Sisterhooves Social race, Sweetie Belle and Rarity place second, but both are so happy to have reconciled with each other that they don't even care.
In Rainbow Dash's pet race, Rainbow ends up giving the prize (pethood) not to the winner of the race but to Tank, the turtle who stayed by her side and helped her when she was hurt. The falcon, who technically won the race (though not under Dash's terms), accepts this with good grace.
In the cider-making competition, the Apple family loses to the Flim Flam brothers's Wonderful Machine even with the help of the rest of the cast. But because they refused to sacrifice quality for quantity, they win anyway when the other ponies drive Flim and Flam out of town.
The central conflict of "The Last Roundup" occurs when Applejack fails to earn any blue ribbons or prize money at the Equestrian Rodeo, and runs away because she can't bear to return without the money she had pledged to the Town Hall. The others must convince her that they value her more than any victory or ribbon, and that they're just as proud of her even if she doesn't place first.
In the yearly water lift to Cloudsdale, Rainbow Dash initially is gunning for setting a new wing power record. When her best flier and a number of other pegasi fall ill, they are unable to set a new record, but with Fluttershy's help they at least manage to complete the water lift, which is a triumph all by itself.
There's even a sub-example here; Fluttershy's best speed of 2.3 is still considerably below the average of the other pegasi, but because it was enough to put them over the top, they all cheer and celebrate it for her anyway.
Driven home in "Wonderbolt Academy". Lightning Dust may technically have a bit of an edge over even Rainbow Dash because she pushes herself harder (albeit not physically, as the episode portrays them as fairly evenly matched), while Dash, for all her athletic prowess, has shown herself to be a bit of a slacker at times. In the end, though, she still fails and the team leader position goes to Rainbow Dash precisely because Dust is too competitive and unconcerned about collateral damage as long as she 'wins'.
In Equestria Games, though Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy and Bulk Biceps ultimately place silver in the relay race, they're still happy with the result. It helps that Ponyville still had the highest medal count at the end, and Rainbow Dash had accepted from the start that beating the Wonderbolts was a long shot.
The story normally takes place in such a way that any episode can happen any day, but Season 3's premiere ended like this, with Princess Celestia nodding at Princess Luna, who magically summons a book with starsandswirls on the cover.
The season 3 finale (which incidentally pays off said Starswirl sequel hook) definitely is trying to draw you in for season 4. Twilight turns into an alicorn and is now a princess of Equestria. According to the writer's twitter, she considers this episode the first in a 3-parter.
Considering season five was announced, plenty in Twilight's Kingdom Part 2. Such as the whereabouts of Scorpan in all of this, what new powers the rainbow elements entail and how Ponyville will now function as a kingdom, not to mention how Discord's completed reform will be displayed.
In "Mare in the Moon", the Cutie Mark Crusaders are seen huddling together in fear of Nightmare Moon. The problem? They supposedly first meet in "Call of the Cutie", eleven episodes later.
It's also entirely possible that they just all ended up huddling together coincidentally, being frightened young fillies looking for any source of safety and comfort. They didn't properly "meet" at this time.
In Twilight's flashback in "The Cutie Mark Chronicles", the egg Spike hatched from is shown to have been purple with darker purple spots. But in "Mare in the Moon", Spike said that he "started out as a cute little purple-and-green egg." (He could've been wrong, though.)
We never see the other side of the egg, and it's possible that the green may have changed to purple by the time he hatched.
In various flashbacks where the moon is visible, Nightmare Moon's silhouette is no longer cratered on the surface... did she escape early?
At the end of "The Ticket Master", when everypony is given a ticket to the gala, they each appear to pick up their tickets via levitation, when the rest of the series shows that this is a talent which only unicorn ponies have.
Note that the tickets do not possess the purple aura typically indicating unicorn magic. Which means this is either a double Series Continuity Error, or the tickets themselves are magical, and float to their owners.
In "Call of the Cutie", Applejack tells Apple Bloom that she was the last in her class to receive her Cutie Mark. In "Cutie Mark Chronicles" however, she begins her story by saying that she was "even littler than y'all". So... did she get her mark at a relatively old age, or a relatively young one?
Not necessarily an error, if all the ponies in her class got their Cutie Marks young she could have been younger than Apple Bloom and still be the last to get her Cutie Mark. Also, there's no indication of how long Applejack lived with Aunt and Uncle Orange - she may have stayed there long enough to go from being littler than y'all to being a relatively old blank-flank.
It is amusing to note that every flashback in that episode includes at least one possible continuity error, though all are subject to some degree interpretation. For example, Pinkie Pie's description of her joyless existence on the rock farm and how she learned to smile starkly contrasts the pilot, where she says it was her grandmother who taught her to laugh.
The opening sequence shows Twilight Sparkle and Spike arriving in Ponyville via Twinkling Balloon; in the actual show, they travel there using a Pegasus-drawn chariot. Though this may be more a metaphor for Twilight coming down from Canterlot to Ponyville (becoming more down to earth) rather than a literal retelling. Another possibility is that it isn't her first trip to Ponyville, because the rest of the mane six are waiting for Twilight and Spike when they get out of the balloon.
In "Winter Wrap-Up", Twilight mentions that Ponyville was founded hundreds of years ago. However, in "Family Appreciation Day", It's revealed that Granny Smith was alive (and had her cutie mark, even) during the initial founding of Ponyville. There are three possibilities: Either someone messed up, an intentional retcon was made, or non-alicorn ponies can have a lifespan of over 200 years.
Apparently, Twilight's mistake. In season four's Simple Ways, Twilight is surprised to find out that Granny Smith is a founder.
In "Rainbow Falls", there are a few moments that look like Fluttershy is flirting with Bulk Biceps of all ponies.
"Hearts and Hooves Day" is essentially an extended Ship Tease between Big Macintosh and Cheerilee. The two of them spend most of the episode under the effects of a Love Potion, but when they come out of, it's left thoroughly ambiguous whether there are real romantic feelings between them or whether they were just trolling the CMC. The two are seen walking together in a later episode, and in "Filli Vanilli", Cheerilee swoons at Big Mac's singing (though it isn't actually Big Mac singing; he is just lip synching).
In Twilights Kingdom Part 1, a few of Fluttershy and Discord's moments show them being very close, plus the passing mention of the two having a get-together for tea. When confronting Tirek, Discord tells him he's only capturing him for Fluttershy's sake. He also has a photo of him and Fluttershy together.
If you look closely at the captured Mane 5 after Discord is drained, you can see Spike holding Rarity.
Near the end, Discord gives Celestia a bouquet of flowers and winks at her. It does seem like a possible acknowledgement of the fan idea that the two of them had a thing once.
The Discord/Fluttershy tease is still going strong - Discord softly apologizes to her, and she forgives him. And then there's this little exchange:
Fluttershy:(to Twilight, on her Heroic Sacrifice) We're not worth it! Discord: Oh, but you are, Fluttershy. You're the pony who taught me that Friendship is Magic. I had magic and friendship, and now, I don't have either.
65-Episode Cartoon: Season 3 was 13 episodes instead of the usual 26, bringing the total to 65 episodes. However, it got renewed for seasons 4 and 5, both 26. At the moment the show is set to have 117 episodes.
Most toys of Applejack don't include her hat, presumably because it'd be an extra accessory. The ones that do make her hat light blue or pink instead of brown.
In order to be more appealing to girls, early toy versions of Princess Celestia were pink rather than white, even though the boxes depict her as white. Back when the pink toys were the only ones, Lauren Faust said "I must admit I'm disappointed Celestia is pink. I'm not sure why they went that way, but my experience with the toy industry (through my Galaxy Girls project) is that you often have to to bow to the will of the 'buyers' — the guys who decide what they are going to put on the shelf in their store. Often they will say things like 'I'll buy 50, but if you make it pink I'll buy 500' and since the toy company makes their profit from the buyer and not the consumer, it makes sense for them to compromise. It's a really stupid, frustrating business."
Now that Princess Cadance has been introduced, they can make show-accurate pink pony princess and a show-accurate Princess Celestia.
They also made Princess Luna purplish-hued instead of dark blue and black.
Most of the ponies that come with an animal pet don't have the same pets as seen in the show.
Twilight has an owl instead of Spike, though this may be because Spike is a sapient assistant rather than a pet animal.
Does Spike's jealousy over Owloysius in "Owl's Well That Ends Well" mean the toy was supposed to tie into the episode, or is that just the crew venting?
Now Spike does come with Twilight as part of her Twinkling Balloon play-set. Yay!
The commercial is hilarious because even though the audio makes no mention at all of Spike his toy is featured prominently, as if Hasbro is saying "There! Twilight and Spike, together at last!" Are you happy now? Please buy our stuff!
Speaking of Spike's toy, he comes permanently posed on all fours, and while he does stand like this in the show on occasion, he mostly stands on his hind legs. Only his So Soft Newborn toy has him sit up straight.
Some of the ponies introduced in the toy line are recolors of the Mane Six, while the recolored artwork that appears on the package doesn't match the character the toy was based on. For instance, the toy of Blossomforth is Fluttershy with a white coat and a red-and-green mane, but the package artwork shows Rainbow Dash with the same colors. And when Blossomforth made the jump to the show, she was given a different appearance (probably because it'd be a bit odd to feature a pony looking just like one of the Mane Six).
Conversely, for a very long time there were no toys of many of the background ponies who frequently appear on the show—including no male ponies whatsoever. The eventual stock of male ponies are nearly all Palette Swaps of Big McIntosh (for Earth ponies) or Shining Armor (for unicorns), which makes the background stallions larger than they are in the show.
Among the Blind Bag ponies are several recolors that actually resemble some background ponies in the show, starting with Flower Wishes (called Daisy in the show) Roseluck (called Rose in the show), and Lemon Hearts. As an amusing side note, Fluttershy, Cheerilee, and Trixie Lulamoon are demoted to Rainbow Dash, Applejack, and Rarity recolors! Though, at least Fluttershy is finally set to get her own mold, in a set based on the pilot.
Relatively minor, but one of the first things most fans of the show do after purchasing Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash or Applejack toys is to take a pair of scissors to all that excess mane.
Show Within a Show: Daring Do's story from the episode "Read It and Weep" takes place in a fictional setting from a book Rainbow Dash is reading. Whenever she starts reading it the camera fades and shifts into Daring Do's world to see her in action.
Someone on staff knows their animals. Storyboardists Sabrina "Sibsy" Alberghetti and Raven Molisee attribute this to Lauren Faust; her series bible had both real horse pictures and anatomy next to her pony drawings to compare anatomy and how limbs and other parts would bend. The storyboardists also had similar pictures to work from. Lauren had insisted they avoid making the ponies perform actions that would be too much like a humans' action (bending a hoof like a hand, for example).
Horses will sometimes raise one of their front legs in a kicking motion when nervous, which is what Fluttershy does when she encounters Twilight Sparkle in the first episode.
Similarly, horses flick their tails in annoyance to shoo away flies and the like. You can see this happen several times in the series when a pony character is annoyed (e.g. Rainbow Dash looking non-nonplussed when the three bullies taunt her during "Sonic Rainboom".)
Twilight also uses her tail to swat at parasprites in "Swarm of the Century".
When Applejack pokes Big McIntosh in the ribs in "Applebuck Season" he responds by raising a haunch and glaring at her. That's an actual threat display by a horse about to kick.
The way the ponies move in general is very well done. When not being exaggerated for comedy, their joints bend in the same places and directions a real horse's would, and they have correctly animated gaits (walk, trot, canter, gallop) consistent with how fast they're moving.
The Ponies move their ears back and snort when angry or frightened, just like real horses do.
If pushed far enough, a disobedient horse will sit down on its rump and refuse to move, exactly like Pinkie does when she refuses to go with Rainbow Dash in "Party of One".
Fluttershy greeted the Manticore cat-style, leaning forward with her nose for a moment.
Sexual dimorphism is accurately depicted in Fluttershy's mallard friends.
The loon in Fluttershy's fantasy in "The Ticket Master" has a red outline on its eye. Red eyes are a distinguishing characteristic of loons.
Zecora's digging goes unexplained, but real zebras dig for water in the same fashion. The same behavior by a horse, however, is another threat display, so the scene actually makes MORE sense — Zecora was probably just nervous and a little thirsty, but the ponies around her misinterpreted her body language as grumpy and hostile.
In the episode "Dragonshy", Fluttershy is shown falling over stiff-leggedly with fear on several occasions... accompanied by the sound of a goat bleating. This may be a reference to fainting goats, a breed of goat which stiffens and falls over when startled.
In the song "The Art of the Dress" many references are made to actual equine anatomy...and then appropriate parts of the dress are shown being designed and constructed for them, making it clear the writers didn't just grab random words from a "Parts of the Horse" chart. "Parts of the Pony," by the way, would be an excellent song in MLP.
While Pinkie may be a little strange, in the episode "Feeling Pinkie Keen", she is shown rolling around in the grass. That's not her being strange; real horses and ponies will roll around in the grass like that.
Pinkie Pie removing wet pie filling from her face by covering it with molten chocolate, letting it dry and chipping it off is how some animals remove wet residues from their face using mud. The problem is, animals that usually do this are carnivores removing blood.
In "The Cutie Mark Chronicles", filly Fluttershy is drawn differently from most other fillies, having proportionally longer legs than her adult self. This is the correct body proportion for young equines. It also applies to other quadrupeds like deer and antelope, too. Other fillies were drawn in what would be more "human" baby proportions.
-It also is fairly common for future models to be exceptionally tall and gawky during their early teens. And Fluttershy does have, after all, ze magics.
In "The Return of Harmony Part 2", once the ponies capture brainwashed Rainbow Dash, she starts to snort and flare her nostrils, an activity consistent with real-life horses under duress. Earlier in the first part, a brainwashed Fluttershy swats Twilight with her tail, this is also something horses will do when particularly annoyed.
The ponies' mindsets are also very accurate. Horses are incredibly skittish creatures due to being a prey animal; as a result, they often freak out and panic at anything that frightens them, which shows up as background ponies freaking out.
Little Strongheart from "Over A Barrel" is the correct size and colour of a young buffalo.
The clicking noise Pinkie makes in "Baby Cakes" when she thinks Pound Cake has wandered off is a real sound that horses are trained to respond to.
The goats from "Putting Your Hoof Down" have oblong pupils, just like real goats.
In ''MMMystery on the Friendship Express, Pinkie Pie scratches herself behind her ear like a dog. Actual ponies and foals will do this when they're young, but are unable to do this once they become fully grown adults.
From The Cutie Pox: it's easy to miss, but every step of Twilight's buck when she dumps Spike (for a lame joke in a serious situation) is exactly how a real horse would dump it's rider, including her pinned ears and leading with her front legs first to put the "snap" into the whole motion.
It could just be a coincidence, but it would appear◊ that potato chips and soda can indeed produce something that could be mistaken for a muffin. (The main problem in that picture seems to be the effects of the melted gummy worms.)
Applejack uses the correct game terminology while playing horseshoes with Rainbow Dash in "Fall Weather Friends".
Fluttershy's "freaky knowledge" of fashion when Rarity presses her for criticism.
Dragons are routinely shown hoarding treasure and eating gemstones. In many myths dragons ingest precious stones in order to fuel their fire.
A rock Rarity is looking at is broken by the effect of Rainbow Dash's Sonic Rainboom. In real life, sound waves can break rocks, and they've actually been used to break kidney stones. Also, the writers have shown their geology. Large rocks that are filled with gems when split open? They're called geodes.
A minor one, but in "Luna Eclipsed", Princess Luna speaks in the Majestic Plural.
The Windigos in "Hearth's Warming Eve" are represented with frightening accuracy as spirits of famine and cold that feed off hatred and in-fighting.
Debatable. The "famine and cold" part is correct, but many Wendigo myths involve cannibalism more than hatred and in-fighting. Though this could be Justified with it being a kids' show and all, despite what the fandom says.
Well, when Princess Platinum, Chancellor Puddinghead, and Commander Hurricane grew impatient. They began stamping their hooves on their ground just like real horses when they're annoyed.
The bad guy in Read it and Weep is Ahuizotl, an authentic Aztec creature. Do they really expect kids to get these references?
In another mythology example: The first time Iron Will, who is a Minotaur, is encountered is in a maze. In Greek mythology, the Minotaur lived in a maze constructed by Daedalus note of Icarus fame under the order of King Minos.
In Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 they show a lot of work: Cider season is a very real thing and lasts only a few weeks; cider has no meaningful shelf life and so must be made fresh daily, the cider press shown is a real (and very old-fashioned) model, and the eponymous machine would indeed outperform the Apples' old method by about five to one, as claimed.
Shrinking Violet: Fluttershy, naturally. Princess Luna also shows a few shades of this in Luna Eclipsed, after the entire town cowers in fear from here, thinking she's still evil, despite her Heel-Face Turn.
Princess Cadance is shown to have a magical aura that is best described as "radioactive green". The flashback that shows her actual aura is light blue rings the bell that something is definitely wrong; in truth, the green aura is that of the changeling Queen Chrysalis, who's kidnapped and replaced the real Cadance.
In the initial version of a recipes PDF on The Hub's website, the page for Cutie Mark Crusaders Chocolate Popcorn included a Flash Forward (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.
Sir Swearsalot: It's a kids show so there's no actual cursing, but if one counts the use of phrases like "What the hay...?" or "Oh, horse-apples" as profanity, Applejack has the foulest mouth of the Mane 6 followed closely by Rainbow Dash.
The Head: Raritynote Being the head doesn't equal being the leader. And she often uses her wits to get what she wants. Of course, Twilight Sparkle fits as well given her smarts.
The Muscle: Applejacknote Rainbow Dash fits as well.
The Quirk: Pinkie Pienote Twilight Sparkle fits as well.
The Pretty One: Fluttershynote It could be argued that all of them fit this category, with Rarity coming a close second for this role, but process of elimination brings her to this.
The Smart One: Twilight Sparklenote Again, it could be argued as all of them are quite knowledgeable when it comes to their respective expertise/career, but Twilight seems to be the one who frequently plays the role within the show.
The Wild One: Rainbow Dashnote Pinkie Pie fits as well.
Sixth Ranger: Babs Seed becomes the fourth Cutie Mark Crusader. The fandom seems to have accepted this with no complaints.
The crew tries to ensure that Rarity's perfect coiffure is ruined at least Once an Episode.
In her interview for the Bronies documentary, Lauren Faust has this to say about putting slapstick into a show for and about girls:
"What I kinda had to push for in the beginning was making it funny. That was actually really hard, 'cause like even my crew, even the other artists, jumped to this conclusion that it had to be really soft. And I was like, 'No, it's funny that that character tripped and fell. Make her hit her face really hard, you know? That's funny!'"
Slasher Smile: Pinkie Pie gets a frightening one in "Party of One" when she was playing a party with inanimate objects as her guests. Twilight Sparkle gets several in "Lesson Zero", but most frightening was when she bursts out of the bushes, complete with insane giggling. It didn't help that she was watching the Cutie Mark Crusaders at the time, which gives the impression that she's a... yeah.
Slice of Life: Many of the episodes are like this, at least by Pony standards. The show seldom uses antagonistic characters, so the problems the ponies must overcome are usually those with relationships or their surroundings.
Particularly Slice-of-Life-ish episodes are Look Before You Sleep", "The Show-Stoppers", "Luna Eclipsed and Sisterhooves Social.
Ponies, zebras, donkeys, griffons, and buffaloes are Body Type 6Civilized Animalsnote Though this might not be entirely accurate as they have displayed feats, intelligence and motivation comparable if not exactly like that of a human yet they still retain a quite a few animal behaviors.. Crosses Funny Animal territory at times especially in comedic situations.
The diamond dogs and the fictional character Ahuitzotlnote The closest thing to classify him as at least. are Body Type 4Petting Zoo People.
Some farm animals like cattle (bulls and cows) and sheep are Body Type 6Talking Animals.
Sliding Scale of Animal Communication: Level 5 - all hoofed animals (and griffons; they have paws and talons) seem to be able to converse freely with the ponies. Pets, monsters and other creatures reach various levels of Intellectual Animal, but generally can't communicate beyond their species.
Fluttershy breaks this occasionally, but she's explicitly stated to be able to understand animals "on a higher level". Probably part of being a Friend to All Living Things.
The one exception to the above appears to be goats, as seen in "Putting Your Hoof Down."
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Quite idealistic, but with a satisfying dash of cynicism mixed in. For example, in "Over a Barrel", the conflict driving the episode is ultimately easily solved because both sides are basically decent — but at the same time, the idea that it could be solved by singing a cute song that will make everyone love each other is mercilessly mocked. In general, problems often arise because the characters aren't perfect, but there's nothing the Power of Friendship won't solve by the end of the story, even if it involves punching out Cthulhu.
One good example of this series' usage of Mostly-idealistic-but-with-a-dash of cynicism is the ending of "Suited For Success". After a nice show of friendship and a heartwarming moment where Rarity does forgive her friends, she then points out that her career is still ruined. It was then saved by a second chance by Hoity Toity.
In the season 2 premiere, Discord gets in on a bit of this action during the climactic scene via use of his evil-looking throne, though his posture varies moment by moment as a reflection of his chaotic personality.
Inverts the Smurfette Principle with Spike, who is the only male in the regular cast, and the only other significantly reoccurring male characters being Applejack and Twilight's brothers, Big McIntosh and Shining Armor.
Major villains are currently gender equal (male Discord and King Sombra, female Nightmare Moon and Queen Chrysalis), but lesser antagonists tend to be either female or random monsters.
Society On Edge Episode: The two-parters in general are these in comparison to the rest of the series, catching most major characters off guard in each case. The conflicts in the rest of the series seem mundane in comparison.
The Canterlot Wedding two-parter involved a wedding plan coinciding with a need for increased security due to a mysterious threat against Canterlot. (Turned out it was connected to the wedding, namely due to the involvement of Chrysalis and the changelings in each.)
The King Sombra arc involved the threat of the enslavement of an entire kingdom.
Solid Clouds: Clouds are a strange example. The pegasi ponies can interact with them as if they are solid, and have the job as a race to manage the weather. alicorns, who have the properties of all three pony races, Griffons, and other flying animals can sit on clouds as well. For most other ponies, clouds act as they would in real life without magical assistance.
Something Else Also Rises: While it (presumably) doesn't indicate arousal, it is shown numerous times that a pegasus's wings can snap out suddenly when they get excited. The fandom has fully pounced on the idea and it is now known as a "wingboner".
The Something Song: Although many of the musical numbers have been given names by the fans, composer Daniel Ingram's website lists many of the songs as "Laughter Song", "The Gala Song", "The Ticket Song", etc.
And Word of God has hinted that it may have been another more powerful/evil force that corrupted Princess Luna into Nightmare Moon, and helped free Discord.
Then, at the second season finale, there was Queen Chrysalis and her Changeling armada. While perhaps not quite up there with Discord, having made a number of grave mistakes regarding Twilight, she still came very close to succeeding. Her plan on the whole went off without a hitch, her armies defeated the mane cast before they could even get to their greatest weapon, and more importantly, she made a fool of Celestia the whole way through, with both deceit and raw power.
King Sombra's placement is a bit difficult. While how powerful he truly is is not seen, he displays powerful magic and is strong enough to brainwash the entire Crystal Empire and make it vanish for a thousand years, and required the Princesses to intervene to beat him the first time. He's most certainly the most competent and dangerous of the villains, and nearly won simply due to how well he planned. So even if he's not as powerful, he may be the most dangerous.
And now season 4 is done and we have Lord Tirek, who was more powerful, more menacing, and more flat-out evil than every other villain listed in this entry all put together. Discord was his helpless pawn, and what he was doing to ponies made Sombra look almost humane. The mind boggles at how they can possibly top this one for season 5.
The show's ending credits list the names of Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle as main characters right from the debut episode. Less of a spoiler given that half the season goes by before they appear again, and viewers wouldn't know who they are until that point.
Applejack in "Applebuck Season", when she hit the ground after her first miss onto Rainbow Dash's seesaw.
Fluttershy in "Luna Eclipsed". While trying to make an escape into her house, Twilight shuts the door, causing her to pancake herself on it.
Squeaky Eyes: Used for some emphasized blinking, as when Fluttershy is being persuasively cute or Pinkie Pie is being ditzily innocent. Aside from this specific trope, eyeballs moving in some notable way also sometimes make noises.
Squee: The best description for the sounds made by ponies when they grin out of either contentment or embarassment. In-show, this is Rainbow Dash's reaction every time she's close to the Wonderbolts.
In "The Best Night Ever", before Pinkie Pie starts changing the musical program, the quartet is playing a very subdued version of the second movement of Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.
Ride of the Valkyries during the air race in "May the Best Pet Win".
Staring Down Cthulhu: Fluttershy has subdued a dragon (who was so large each of his eyes was around the same size as her body) and a cockatrice (whose gaze was turning her to stone as she did so, but still gave up first) by staring them down and scolding them. She's even part of the trope image.
Status Quo Is God: Every other episode each of the mane cast needs to re-learn how to be a good friend. This might be a meta-Aesop, though — that building and maintaining strong friendships takes constant work. It's even Lampshaded in the aesop of several episodes, such as "The Return of Harmony" and "Sisterhooves Social."
In spite of saving all of Equestria at least twice, no one outside of Ponyville seems to know them. They're on stained glass windows in the castle, for Celestia's sake! However, they don't seem to make an active effort on showing this off.
In the first episode, "The Mare in the Moon", we can see that Twilight Sparkle (who is more interested in her studies than in making friends) makes her home in a tall, off-white structure (i.e. an ivory tower).
When Nightmare Moon was imprisoned in the moon, she appeared as a large dark spot on the moon's surface, and is referred to as The Mare in the Moon. A dark spot on the moon is known as a sea, or in Latin, mare.note Yes, everypony knows it's pronounced differently, but still.
There's also the more obvious pun behind her name where she's a mare who controls the night, making her literally a Nightmare.
In the second episode, "The Elements of Harmony", the mane cast overcome Nightmare Moon and put an end to The Night That Never Ends. One could say they... save the day.
The Wonderbolts are heavily based off of the Blue Angels (and other aerobatics teams), and utilize a winged thunderbolt as their logo. The dark-mirror Shadowbolts used, as their uniform Cutie Mark, a winged skull. A winged skull logo was also used, at one time, by the Hell's Angels. Subtle, but very clever.
In "The Ticket Master", when Rarity is ranting about how her fashion will allow her and Twilight to impress all the Canterlot elite at the Grand Galloping Gala, she has literal stars in her eyes.
The two male ponies, Snips and Snails, are a pun based on the old adage that girls are made of "sugar and spice and everything nice," while boys are made of "snips and snails and puppy dog tails." Given this show's status as a kids' show, it's probably unlikely that we'll see a boy pony named "Puppy Dog Tails," but the other two can work as names in a fictitious environment.
Ironically, the very next colt introduced is the British Pipsqueak... who looks very much like a dog.
Not very stealthy, but Twilight Sparkle really hopes the legend of Nightmare Moon is just an old 'pony tale'.
In the beginning of "Boast Busters", Twilight's magic abilities are referred to as "tricks," and Spike mentions that most unicorns can only do a small amount of magic related to their profession. Which, one might say, makes them "one-trick ponies."
And the other magically skilled pony in the episode is named Trixie. Tricks-y.
The name "Trixie" is a diminutive of 'Beatrix', meaning 'voyager, traveller', and Trixie is a travelling performer.
In "Green Isn't Your Color", when Fluttershy is being chased around by paparazzi, one of them is a pegasus with a dollar sign as his cutie mark. Given pony naming conventions, this means his name is probably Money Shot.
Applejack's story in "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" details her attempt to move to the city to live with her Aunt and Uncle Orange. The City Mouse/Country Mouse plot is played completely straight, revealing to Applejack that she's nothing like the city folk. It's like comparing Apples and Oranges.
Similarly, she says "I'm so hungry, I could eat..."
In "Sonic Rainboom", Rainbow Dash pulls off the Sonic Rainboom and wins the Young Fliers' Competition with it. One might say she passed with flying colours.
"The book said when the five are present, a spark will cause the sixth element to be revealed." Spark or Sparkle?
Nightmare Moon: The spark didn't work! Twilight Sparkle: But it did. A different kind of spark.
When defeating Discord, the mane six literally form a "double rainbow".
Rarity is a pony who designs clothes. She's a clotheshorse.
Rarity owns a female cat named Opal, which is a type of gemstone. In "Return of Harmony", Rarity brings home a large "diamond" named Tom.
In "Feeling Pinkie Keen", Twilight stops to stand on a crate and lecture Pinkie about why she has a hard time believing in the latter's "Pinkie Sense". Said crate originally had some bars and bottles of soap on it, which means Twilight literally got on a soap box.
In "Lesson Zero", Twilight Sparkle shows the Cutie Mark Crusaders her toy, Smarty Pants, who comes with accessories such as homework. It also appears to be some kind of donkey, making it a smart ass.
In "Luna Eclipsed", Twilight Sparkle's Nightmare Night costume is Star Swirl the Bearded, "father of the amniomorphic spell." "Amniomorphic" means "bowl-shaped", which makes Star Swirl a long-bearded bowl-maker or, in other words, a hairy potter.
"Luna Eclipsed" had quite a couple of these, actually. Another, more obvious one would be Pinkie as a Chicken Pie.
In "Over a Barrel", we see a train pulled by several ponies. We just saw the pony express.
In "A Friend In Deed," Pinkie parodies a few lines from the song "Yankee Doodle Boy" (a.k.a. "Yankee Doodle Dandy"). In the musical that popularized the song, the "Yankee Doodle Dandy" was a horse jockey.
The song also borrows lyrics from the folk song that inspired it, "Yankee Doodle." What did Yankee Doodle come to town riding on, again?
In "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000", Pinkie and friends hold a Ticket Line Campout to be the first to get that season's Sweet Apple Acres cider...in other words, camping in line waiting for the yearly new Apple products.
The marriage of Shining Armor to Princess Cadance is a Getting Crap Past the Radar example: he's captain of the guard and he's... got Cadance's back covered.
In "Sweet and Elite", when talking to Fancypants, after having mentioned staying at the princess' castle, she places Opalescence into one of her carrier-bags. Why? Because she let the cat out of the bag. (Admittedly not the same bag, but still).
In "Secret of My Excess", Spike goes on a greedy rampage through Ponyville. Part of that includes going to Sugarcube Corner and stealing all the cakes. Pinkie Pie immediately calls out, "How dare you take the cake!" This is a subtle reference to the phrase "taking the cake."
In the same episode, Spike's gigantic pile of wildly assorted presents includes a kitchen sink.
In "Read It and Weep", a hospitalized pony with a crazed expression and strait-jacket vocalizes like a dog - making her barking mad. Also, the fact that her cutie mark is a screw makes much more sense when you consider that she's literally screw loose.
The day after "A Canterlot Wedding" — in which Princess Cadance (sic) is revealed to be a villain in disguise — aired, a music geek discovered that one of the songs* (Namely, "BBBFF", not the Villain Song as is often circulated) contains a chord progression known as a deceptive cadence. And then the song's composer confirmed via Twitter that it was totally intentional.
A bit of a Fridge Brilliance pun involving the princesses: Prior to the Season 2 finale, a lot of people wondered what Cadence's purpose was. Celestia and Luna basically run the sun and moon, respectively, but Cadence doesn't have any duty of that nature. Then the episode revealed that she was Twilight's foalsitter...◊
In "Magical Mystery Cure," the song "What My Cutie Mark Is Telling Me" details results of the cutie mark swap. There's very distinctive transitions between stanzas, which appear in jazz and musicals. It's known as a turnaround, which can also mean 'the reversal of a situation or circumstances'.
In the same episode, Pinkie Pie ends up with Applejack's cutie mark and works the apple farm. Or tries, anyway. The fact that this means she could be described as an Apple Pie goes entirely without comment.
In "Rarity Takes Manehattan", she may not have been expecting it, but of course it was by a fashion designer that she was taken in.
Rarity sometimes has shades of this as well, her desire to always appear elegant and graceful sometimes leads her to repress her anger and frustration. "Sisterhooves Social" is probably the clearest example, as she spends the bulk of the episode trying to keep a happy face as her sister causes increasing amounts of trouble for her.
In Twilight's Kingdom Part 2, when Twilight tries to reassure Spike that everything's fine, she forces a big, insincere grin to her face.
Steven Ulysses Perhero: Everypony is given a name at birth that will one day reflect their special talent, personality, and / or profession. Characters seem to be pretty Genre Blind to this fact, especially the Cutie Mark Crusaders.
Subverted, sometimes, with ponies like Rarity or Pinkie Pie; their names don't completely match their personality, profession or their cutie mark (the former, while it's true that she had gems as her cutie mark, it seems that in Equestria gems aren't that rare, and the latter, while having the word pink in her name, is almost not feminine at all, and she's not specialized in making pies).
Stock Footage: There's a lot of detail going into the animation for this show, so the animators sometimes reuse objects in different episodes, sometimes leading to a continuity error. For example, in "The Ticket Master", Fluttershy imagines herself befriending Canterlot's wildlife, including various colored jays. Those jays can be seen in a birdhouse near Fluttershy's home in "Party of One," when she and Rainbow Dash are Stereo Fibbing to Pinkie Pie. Also, Twilight Sparkle and Pinkie Pie's gala dresses are in Fluttershy's closet at the beginning of "A Bird in the Hoof".
Perhaps she was just holding them for the time being? Though one would think Rarity would have enough space.
Rarity's boutique also plays host to a violent cat and (on occasion) the destructive force known as Sweetie Belle. Fluttershy seems like a much safer bet.
Sometimes done for laughs, like Rarity's Hollywood-fainting twice in a row in "Bridle Gossip".
Stock Scream: The famous Wilhelm scream has heard a few times throughout the series. See the trope entry for examples.
Pinkie Pie's "MMM nom nom" eating sound effect is used several times, including more than once in "A Bird in the Hoof".
The squeaky rubber duck noise whenever anypony smiles really cutely. It's been used before in the Beast Wars episodes "Coming of the Fuzors" (Part 2) and "Crossing The Rubicon" as well as the Sponge Bob Square Pants episode "Bossy Boots", and it's also been used in the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl 2013 finalist Road Chip.
Spike will make a similar sound when he's physically abused.
And the crowd-wide gasp that can be heard when Twilight manipulates Fluttershy. Can be heard just before Photo Finish falls backwards.
Pinkie Pie's gasp when she first sees Twilight in the first episode gets used again throughout the show whenever a gasp is needed.
It's also played backwards when Fluttershy inhales before letting loose with a too-quiet "Yay" in the cold open of "Sonic Rainboom".
One of the roars that the Ursa Minor makes is a stock sound effect that was also used for the Mini Battlelord in Duke Nukem 3D.
Granny Smith angrily yells her groggy "Soup's on!" from the first episode when Scootaloo clips her on her scooter.
The screech Rarity unleashes upon losing her diamond-encrusted purple ribbon in "Lesson Zero" is the same one she lets loose with in "Swarm of the Century", when she finds herself trapped in Carousel Boutique as parasprites actively devour it and everything inside.
In the same episode, we have one of the "impact with wood" sounds from the same game when Apple Bloom trips and falls flat on her face on the way to the stage. It later appears in The Cutie Mark Chronicles when Scootaloo hits a tree branch, and again in Sisterhooves Social when Applejack slams a door with her hoof. Guess the show's staff has been killing some headcrabs lately...
Another one is the treadmill-contraption Applejack runs within in The Last Roundup. The sound it makes as it spins is somewhat common in video games where sliding doors are made out of stone.(Blood and Unreal are two examples).
The sound of Spike's quill on parchment in Dragon Quest is the exact same sound of a note being jotted down in both the Penumbra and Amnesia series.
Stop Helping Me!: In-universe, the Cutie Mark Crusaders usually receive this response when they try to help other ponies while trying to look for their Cutie Mark.
Conversely, the second season doesn't really have much of a story arc, which was unfortunate because there was no opportunity to set up Twilight's relationships with Shining Armor and Princess Cadance in advance. However, Season 2 did have three episodes about Twilight becoming paranoid ("Lesson Zero", "It's About Time" and "A Canterlot Wedding") and only being properly so once, but there's no attempt to connect them together.
Also, Spike and Princess Celestia have remarkably similar thought patterns, such as trying to get Twilight to lighten up and make some friends in the pilot, and encouraging the mane cast to hang out together as a group at the Grand Galloping Gala rather than splitting off to do their own things (since the Gala itself is kind of a boring party anyway).
Strictly Formula: In the first season, characters learn a valuable lesson about friendship pretty much every episode (usually after one of the characters causes a problem or conflict by acting ignorant or confrontational), and then Twilight Sparkle writes a letter to her mentor PrincessCelestia summing the lesson up in a few sentences. As of "Lesson Zero" other characters can write letters to Celestia as well, and a few episodes involve no closing letter at all, but An Aesop about friendship is still always present.
A side formula is always present in episodes involving the Cutie Mark Crusaders, with the three fillies trying to take up some new activity or talent in order to earn their cutie marks (with inevitable failure). Usually this causes some problem or embarrassment that merges into the Friendship Aesop formula above.
When the Cutie Mark Crusaders enter a talent show in an attempt to earn their cutie marks, they each cover roles more suited to one of the other fillies. The result is, well...this. They end up winning "best comedy act" as it had the audience laughing so hard, and pretended it was all part of the act. You even hear Scootaloo's voice actress start to crack up at the end of one of her lyrics.
Pinkie's Wonderbolt Rap in "Testing, Testing, 1 2 3" is deliberately made to look like a cheesy 90's-era rap video, completely with reduced audio/video quality, a different aspect ratio, and VHS artifacts.
Sudden Anatomy: Applies to pony eyebrows not just on an individual-case basis but as a rule. They don't normally have them, but automatically generate some whenever they wear an expression that needs them. Also unlike the usual case, it's so subtle and looks so natural that it's easy to miss.
Sugar Apocalypse: Discord gives Rainbow Dash a vision of Cloudsdale crumbling away to convince her to throw the game that they're playing. Possibly Subverted in that we never personally see whether it was actually happening or not. Played straight when Discord throws the rest of Equestria into chaos after the "game" ends.
Literally the case: the first sign of Discord's Sugar Apocalypse is sweet chocolate rain.
Much like Applejack's vision of the mane ponies' friendship ending leaving out critical details, he allows Rainbow Dash to end the game by making the wrong choice - taking the wings. He lets her assume that staying in the game will doom Cloudsdale while in fact it is taking the wings and leaving that would do so as Equestria falls into permanent chaos.
Sugar Bowl: The show takes place in a world where ponies can move the clouds around to make it rain or shine, and plants and animals need to be told to grow or hibernate. Thus, changing seasons is a large community project. The inhabitants are so accustomed to this way of life that the Everfree Forest - an untamed wilderness where animals take care of themselves, plants grow on their own, and weather occurs independently of pony intervention - is considered spooky and unnatural. And again, there are monsters aplenty.
Not that Ponyville (or Equestria as a whole) is a paradise on Earth. Plenty of species intolerance (the townsponies' reaction to Zecora, the racial conflicts between the three types of ponies depicted in "Hearth's Warming Eve," etc.) and generally bad attitudes (the episode "Putting Your Hoof Down" is chock-full of Ponyville residents acting like real douches) are present. That's not to mention the various monsters that are quite willing to kill anypony they come across (the main protagonist was Taken for Granite offscreen by a random monster in one episode), the occasional but regular nation-/worldwide threats posed by roguegods and cruel dictators, and the gate toTarturus itself less than a day's trot away.