Also known as "Friendship is Magic, part 1".
Twilight Sparkle sits alone by a tree, reading up on the history of Equestria and the tale of Nightmare Moon. Long ago, two sisters ruled the land; the elder raised the sun at dawn while the younger raised the moon at dusk. One day however, the younger sister grew resentful of the fact that the ponies played in the day, yet slept through her wonderful night. She became bitter and one night refused to lower the moon. The elder sister was forced to use the power of the Elements of Harmony to banish her sister to the moon. After some further research, Twilight Sparkle is convinced that soon the Mare in the Moon will return for her revenge "on the longest day of the thousandth year"...which happens to be the upcoming Summer Sun Celebration. She tells her baby dragon assistant, Spike to send a letter to Princess Celestia, ruler of Equestria, on the matter and she doesn't like the response:
Spike: Ahem..."My dearest and most faithful student Twilight: You know that I value your diligence and that I trust you completely...but you simply must stop reading those dusty old books!"
Celestia tasks Twilight with supervising the preparations for the Summer Sun Celebration in the small town of Ponyville and gives her a secondary task of finding and making some friends. Firmly believing that the fate of the world does not rest on her making friends, Twilight arrives in Ponyville to fulfill her royal duty. Spike asks Twilight to attempt socializing with others, directing her to a pink Earth Pony passing by. When Twilight greets the stranger, the pink pony gasps and runs away. Now certain that she's the only sane pony
in the village, Twilight grudgingly does her job.
First, she visits Applejack
, hoping to quickly check on the food preparations and be on her way. Instead she's introduced to Applejack's huge extended family
and plied with all manner of apple-based foods. Shortly after leaving with a full stomach, she's swept off her feet
by Rainbow Dash
and knocked into a puddle of mud. After a number of futile attempts to clean her up, Twilight is left with a fluffed-up mane and Spike and Rainbow are left in tears of laughter. After they regain their composure, Rainbow reveals what she's doing for the festivities: taking care of the weather. She's the fastest Pegasus in Ponyville and she proves it by clearing the sky of clouds in Ten. Seconds. FLAT.
Next on the list is Rarity
who's in charge of the decorations. Spike is smitten instantly
while Rarity is shocked and appalled by Twilight's messy mane. Insisting that she fix it up, she runs Twilight through a number of costumes (and gushes over her dreams of moving to Twilight's hometown of Canterlot) before Twilight drags Spike from the boutique and out to the edge of the woods where Fluttershy
is leading a choir of songbirds in rehearsal. Unfortunately, Twilight appears at a bad time and startles both the birds and poor Fluttershy. Despite her best efforts, Twilight can't get Fluttershy
to talk to her...until she sees Spike
. After Spike literally tells Fluttershy his life story, Twilight brushes her off and drags Spike into the library with her. Hoping to finally get some time to herself, she turns on the light...SURPRISE!!!!
Oh look, it's that pink pony from earlier. She won't stay still and she won't shut up either.
She introduces herself as Pinkie Pie, and while she's explaining at a mile a minute that the reason she dashed off was to set up a surprise welcoming party, Twilight unwittingly pours herself a drink
of hot sauce, which Pinkie then eats on a cupcake without a second thought.
Running to her room, Twilight ponders the idea that these new ponies are her friends and worries over whether or not the Mare in the Moon will really return. Before she has time to fret any further, she's beckoned to the town hall to watch the sun rise.
Once there, the mayor of Ponyville introduces to much fanfare, Princess Celestia!...Who never appears. She's gone without a trace. However a certain somepony takes her place...the Mare in the Moon, Nightmare Moon.
She's going to take her revenge by plunging Equestria into eternal night
Nightmare Moon: Remember this day, little ponies for it was your last. From this moment forth, the night...will last...forever!TO BE CONTINUED*cue happy credits music*
Tropes present in this episode (YMMV tropes can be found here):
- Apocalypse How: Nightmare Moon's eternal night immediately brings about planet-wide societal disruption. If left unchecked, according to Word of God, it would eventually result in planet-wide societal collapse and the extinction of all life due to starvation.
- Baby Talk: Twilight does this to get Fluttershy to leave her and Spike alone.
"Aw; wook at that. He's so sweepy he can't keep his wittle bawance."
- Balloon Belly: Twilight Sparkle gains one after meeting Applejack's family and being persuaded to stay for brunch. "I ate too much pie..."
- Big Entrance: Nightmare Moon's arrival at the Summer Sun Celebration is accompanied by wind and lightning.
- Characterization Marches On:
- Spike doesn't have difficulty spelling after this episode.
- Fluttershy never has this much trouble talking to new ponies again, which we can be thankful for.
- Chekhov's Skill: Pinkie knows everyone in Ponyville and this comes up in later episodes.
- Costume Test Montage: Courtesy of Rarity naturally.
- Cuteness Proximity: Fluttershy comes out of her shell after seeing Spike.
- Department of Redundancy Department: In the Russian dub, Twilight calls Nightmare Moon "Lunyia Poni" twice in a succession.
- Distant Prologue: The Storybook Opening tells of events that occurred 1000 years before the time of the show proper.
- Downer Ending: Not as harsh as Return of Harmony Part 1, but still relevant. Nightmare Moon has returned. Twilight Sparkle saw it coming, but failed to prepare, and Princess Celestia is nowhere to be seen. The final shot of the episode is Twilight Sparkle watching in horror and despair as Nightmare Moon unleashes eternal night on Equestria.
- Early-Bird Cameo: The Cutie Mark Crusaders haven't met yet, but Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle picked the same table as Apple Bloom under which to hide from Nightmare Moon.
- And of course, Angel Bunny in the opening who will only have his first appearance in The Ticket Master.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: At the beginning, Celestia and Luna are refered as "unicorns". Later, season 3 will canonize the fandom term "Alicorn" for winged and horned ponies.
- Establishing Character Moment: We get one of these for each of the main characters: we can quickly see Twilight Sparkle is a bookworm too busy to make friends, Spike is her put-upon assistant, Applejack is neighborly and very close to her family, Rainbow Dash is lazy and a jokester but also loyal to her friends and neighbors, Rarity is giving but also obsessed with fashion and glamour, Fluttershy loves animals but is not good with ponies, and Pinkie Pie is fun-loving and more than a little weird.
- Et Tu, Luna?: Princess Celestia had this realization in the backstory when her sister, Luna, becomes Nightmare Moon.
- Exposition Cut: How Spike tells his life story.
"Well...it all started when I was a cute little purple and green egg...
... and that's the story of my entire life. Well, up until today. Do you want to hear about today?"
- Whilst Twilight is dictating her letter to Princess Celestia and the "camera" is following her, the huge hourglass in the Canterlot library passes in front of a unicorn head statue, causing it to distort to the profile of Nightmare Moon.
- Twilight's belief that the fate of Equestria does not rest on her making friends.
- The Element of Magic appears on Celestia's head in Twilight's storybook when Celestia is imprisoning Nightmare Moon. It already matches Twilight's cutie mark.
- Funny Background Event: Two.
- During the party scene, when Twilight is pouring herself a drink, a gray pegasus up in the corner has crossed eyes and a goofy smile. "And so the legend of Derpy Hooves is born" said one poster on 4chan, and born it was.
- When the ponies get excited to see Princess Celestia, a green unicorn is very excited, jumping up and down and staring straight at the camera with a big grin on her face. Meet Lyra Heartstrings, and this is the first of her many Funny Background Events throughout the series, particularly the "Excited Lyra" Running Gag.
- The Hero's Journey: The episode has Twilight who wants to find a way to defeat Nightmare Moon but receives a Call to Adventure from her mentor Celestia who asks her to leave her hometown and go to Ponyville and make friends; she wasn't happy about it but figured she should go along with it. Supernatural aid, Trials and Tribulations, and the Abyss come in the next episode.
- I'm Not Here to Make Friends: "The fate of Equestria does not rest on me making friends."
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Twilight's reaction to Pinkie's Motor Mouth. Unfortunately, it turns out to be hot sauce.
- Knight of Cerebus: Things are pretty happy and funny... and then Nightmare Moon shows up...
- Lampshade Wearing: Spike, at Pinkie Pie's party.
- Let Me at Him!: Rainbow Dash to Nightmare Moon. She is held back.
- Letting the Air out of the Band: When Spike offers to top off telling his whole life story to Fluttershy with recollecting the events of that very day, Twilight quickly cuts him and the peaceful music off before either of them can continue.
- Magic Countdown: Played with:
- Averted when Twilight Sparkle meets Rainbow Dash. She dares her to clear the sky in ten seconds. It takes exactly ten seconds of screen time for Rainbow Dash to do it.
- When Twilight is looking at the moon shortly before the celebration, the four stars around it are approaching it at a steady rate, fast enough that they'd reach the moon in just a few seconds if the camera remained there. They only reach the moon once the camera gets back to them which is at the height of the celebration.
- Mood Whiplash: Right after Nightmare Moon appears and plunges the world into The Night That Never Ends...it cuts to the cheery and happy closing theme.
- The Night That Never Ends: The Evil Plan of Nightmare Moon.
- Oh Crap: The entire town's reaction to Nightmare Moon appearing. Twilight's reaction starts earlier since she's the only one who knows it's coming.
- Of Corset Hurts: Twilight has this reaction when Rarity is trying to secure a saddle on her.
- P.O.V. Cam:
- There's a brief shot from Fluttershy's perspective, with her spotting Spike from between her bangs.
- We also see from Twilight's perspective when the four stars align and Nightmare Moon is set free.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: At first glance, one might wonder over the bird that looked like a cardinal but was red on top and brown on the bottom; males are red above and below and females are brown above and below. The pyrrhuloxia is pied but is gray below, and the two species can hybridize.
- Rhetorical Question Blunder:
Twilight Sparkle: Spike, do you know what this means?
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The can, in this case, is the Moon.
- Society On Edge Episode: Due to the threat of eternal darkness.
- Storybook Opening. Unsurprisingly accompanied by an Art Shift, using quasi-animations based on the illustrations in the book Twilight is reading.
- Turn In Your Badge: When Twilight Sparkle reports her findings about the return of Nightmare Moon to Princess Celestia, the response is that she should stop reading those dusty old books...essentially taking her off the case. This is in fact a plan meant to ensure that Twilight defeats Nightmare Moon.
- Vertigo Effect: On Twilight when she sees Nightmare Moon.
- Weird Moon: The Sun and the Moon can not be up at the same time (see phases part of the article). The moon also functioned as a can for Nightmare Moon. When Nightmare Moon escaped, the "Mare in the Moon" disappeared off the face of the moon.
- Welcome Episode: Introduces Twilight Sparkle (and Spike) to Ponyville in general, and the rest of the Mane Six in particular. Has some shades of Everypony Meets Everypony in that it is likely that the other five may be acquainted with each other socially, but are not necessarily close friends (with a few exceptions).
- When The Planets Align: On the longest day of the thousandth year, the stars will help Nightmare Moon escape her prison.
- While Equestria Burns: Justified. Taking the time to make friends will be what enables Twilight to defeat Nightmare Moon.