All of Ponyville is buzzing about the latest party to be thrown by Pinkie Pie: the "birth-iversary" of Rainbow Dash, which not only celebrates the flyer's birthday, but the anniversary of when she moved to Ponyville. Just as Pinkie gives a Pinkie Promise that Rainbow Dash will have the best party ever, an earth pony named Cheese Sandwich appears, who claims to be a certified party planner, and led to Ponyville by his own "Cheesy Sense" that a party was about to happen. He quickly proves his credentials, putting on a massive impromptu display of party wizardry for the residents of Ponyville. They flock to him, leaving Pinkie feeling confused and a little insulted.Cheese Sandwich begins building a massive set for Rainbow Dash's birth-iversary, with everypony else pitching in — except for Pinkie Pie, who is left wondering what her role in the town might be now that Cheese is here. She makes a brief stab at other careers (delivering mail, construction work, nursing) but her attempts to enliven each job with her party spirit keep leading to disaster. As she sadly contemplates giving parties up for good, she sees the pictures of various parties she's thrown over the years. Filled with new resolve, she heads back into town to reclaim her place as the pre-eminent party-planning pony of Ponyville.Pinkie Pie challenges Cheese Sandwich to a "goof-off," with the winner getting the privilege of headlining the upcoming party (and the loser... won't). Cheese Sandwich accepts. Rainbow Dash is called on to judge (since it's her party) and decide which of them is funnier. The two party planners give it their all, and the result is wildly-escalating chaos, with Rainbow Dash caught in the middle. At last, it all comes to a crashing halt when Pinkie drops a gigantic piñata on top of her. As she pulls herself out, visibly unhappy, Pinkie realizes that Rainbow Dash isn't enjoying any of this, which means she broke her Pinkie promise. She instantly forfeits the goof-off to Cheese Sandwich and walks away in shame.Pinkie packs up her party supplies and prepares to abandon Ponyville to Cheese Sandwich, but the rest of her friends stop her. They explain that she is the permanent party planner for Ponyville, and that no one could ever take her place. Cheese Sandwich also appears with an unexpected revelation: in the past, he was a shy pony until he stumbled onto one of Pinkie's parties and was inspired to be the party pony he eventually became. The two party planners then team up to throw Rainbow Dash the best birth-iversary party ever.Just before he walks off into the sunset, Cheese Sandwich gives Pinkie his rubber chicken, Boneless, that glows with a rainbow shimmer...*cue happypolka music*
Tropes present in this episode (YMMV tropes can be found here):
10-Minute Retirement: During Pinkie's Lament, she puts away her party cannon and gets a job as, in turn, an operating room nurse, a mailpony, and a construction worker. She unretires from being a party pony by the song's end.
An Aesop: The episode makes a point of not letting one's pride or excitement cloud one's judgement, as you just might hurt others' feelings without meaning to.
Alternately: Just because you're not the best at something doesn't mean you should give it up.
Or: A shared talent should bring you together rather than driving you apart.
It doesn't matter if you aren't the best in your area. What matters is to make a worthy difference.
Ageless Birthday Episode: There are 21 visible candles that Rainbow Dash blows out on the huge birthday cake. Since the candles presumably also continue onto the other side of the cake, there could be as many as 35. Older than They Look? But since this is Dash's "birth-iversary", maybe the number of candles is the sum of her age plus the number of years she's lived in Ponyville.
All Animals Are Dogs: When Fluttershy says she "likes nice picnic parties", Pinkie Pie growls at her.
Filly Minuette has braces, a nod to her Fan Nickname, Colgate, and her fanon occupation as being a dentist.
At the start of the Goof-Off, Cheese Sandwich is wearing, among other things, a pair of socks on his hind hooves.
Bag of Holding: Pinkie's saddlebags manage to hold way more party supplies than they should; Pinkie even fills one with a mix of different colors of paint, which blend together into a muddy brown yet somehow separate out into their constituent colors again for her to paint the party banners.
Bait-and-Switch Comment: Cheese Sandwich makes one when Rainbow Dash asks if he can plan the most epic birthday party ever:
Cheese Sandwich: Oh, I don't think so. (gasps abound) Cheese Sandwich: I know so!
Pinkie recycles these same lines back to Cheese at the start of the goof-off.
BSOD Song: Pinkie sings one in the climax when she feels ignored by her friends and the townspeople when they go off with Cheese Sandwich.
Buffy Speak: Pinkie Pie guarantees that Rainbow Dash's party will be, among other things, "fantabulous" and "superbial."
But Now I Must Go: Cheese leaving Ponyville to plan his next party. Done in typical Western fashion.
Call Back: Like Rarity in "Rarity Takes Manehattan" and Rainbow Dash in "Rainbow Falls", Pinkie realizes her true self, experiences rainbow flashes of inspiration, inspires another pony with her good example, and receives from said pony an item that produces a rainbow-patterned glow.
Cartoon Cheese: Yellow-orange, holey cheese appears several times. At one point, Cheese Sandwich wears blocks of them as shoes, and shortly afterwards, he brings in a gigantic wheel of it.
Cartoon Juggling: During the goof-off, Pinkie juggles five cupcakes in a cascade before feeding them to Rainbow Dash. Later during Cheese's flashback, filly Pinkie juggles three rubber chickens in a circle.
The Cast Showoff: It's an episode guest-starring Weird Al. Of course he's going to sing in it!
During the introductory song, Mr. and Mrs. Cake mention the foal shower Pinkie planned for them before "Baby Cakes," and Diamond Tiara brings up her cute-ceañera which Pinkie threw in "Call of the Cutie."
Pinkie sticks a cupcake in her eye, like she said she would every time she does a Pinkie Promise.
Pinkie wears her crazy gift box getup from "Dragonshy."
Cheese Sandwich describes his full-body Cheesy Sense shudder as "a doozy," using almost the same inflection as Pinkie Pie when she realized the "doozy of a doozy" that caused her shudder in "Feeling Pinkie Keen."
There's a more minor one when Pinkie challenges Cheese Sandwich to the goof-off. Cheese makes a face similar to Rainbow Dash's "Awesome" face, but without putting his hooves on his cheeks and while glaring instead of wide-eyed.
Cheese contorting Rainbow Dash's face into all sorts of silly expressions is reminiscent of the faces Dash made to try to make Celestia's guards laugh in "A Bird In the Hoof".
When she's briefly seen dancing on the giant pinata at the end of the goof-off, Pinkie is doing the same dance from "A Friend In Deed" when she welcomed Cranky to Ponyville.
Could Have Avoided This Plot: If Cheese Sandwich explained from the start that Pinkie inspired him to be the party pony he is now and wanted to show her how good he was, the party would have gone off without a hitch.
And, of course, the fact that Twilight has a rule book for a goof-off.
After Cheese gives Boneless to Pinkie, he immediately whips out a second rubber chicken ("Boneless Two") and sets it on his back.
Create Your Own Villain: Played with, then inverted. It was Pinkie who made Cheese Sandwich the party pony he is today, but they end up allies.
Crowd Song: As oft the case of Pinkie songs, the opening song eventually evolves to a Ponyville-wide song.
Cutaway Gag: Two cutaways happen during the goof-off, both of which go to live action footage.
Dance Party Ending: During Rainbow's birth-iversary party, Pinkie, Applejack, Rarity, and Twilight are shown dancing on stage.
Dramatically Missing the Point: The flipside of Innocently Insensitive. When he introduces himself, Cheese Sandwich never says that he wants to take over planning Rainbow Dash's "birth-aversary"; in fact, just before his "I Am" Song, he and Pinkie Pie agree to work together. The townsponies never say they want Pinkie off the party planning either; they just get so carried away with Cheese's energy that Pinkie (literally) gets left behind.
Funny Background Event: Derpy Hooves drinks from a chocolate fountain during party preparation before the goof-off; during it, she has a staring contest with Cheese Sandwich's rubber chicken, with some type of rabbit-like stuffed animal on her back.
During the same scene with Derpy, you can see Rainbow playing with Tank the tortoise.
Later, Tank can be briefly scene flying out of Cheese's party tank along with Rainbow and a flock of pelicans.
Fur Is Clothing: Subtly done during the goof-off. After Cheese denies using Pinkie's song, she screams, "THAT'S IT!" while rolling up her "sleeves", then pulls out the party cannon.
Furry Confusion: At the start of the Goof-Off, Pinkie Pie wears two pairs of...cowboy boots with spurs?
Furry Reminder: After countless instances of ponies inexplicably holding things in their hooves, this episode finally provides an instance of this not happening, by Pinkie of all ponies. She's seen using a bubble-wand taped to her hoof during the goof-off.
Geographic Flexibility: Thoughtfully, the animators added the Crystal Empire to the map of Equestria. Unthoughtfully, they located it south of the snow it's surrounded by and halfway across the continent from the train tracks that specifically go north into the Crystal Mountains. Never has "Distance not to scale" been so apt.
Gratuitous Spanish: in the last part of the goof-off, Pinkie Pie sings the Mexican traditional song sung when breaking a piñata. "Dale, dale, dale / No pierdas el tino / Por que si los pierdes / Pierdes el camino" translates more or less to "Hit it, Hit it, Hit it / Don't lose your aim / because if you lose it / you lose the way".
Cheese Sandwich: I fear I told a little fib about my pony past.
Heroic BSOD: Pinkie Pie gets a major one when she feels that Cheese Sandwich is a better party planner than her, and she sings a BSOD Song.
Hey, That's My Line!: During the song "The Goof-Off," Cheese Sandwich quotes a verse from Pinkie's "Smile Song":
Cheese Sandwich: 'Cause I like to make you smile, smile, smile / Yes I do / It fills my heart with sunshine all the while / Yes it does / 'Cause all I need's a smile, smile, smile / from these happy friends of mine. Pinkie Pie: That's MY song!
"I Am" Song: Cheese gets two, the first showing what type of party pony he is and the second actually revealing his inspiration to be a party pony.
And yet again with Pinkie's lament to come around to realize what she must do.
I Was Born Ready: Said word for word by Pinkie before the goof-off. Cheese follows it up with "I was ready before I was born!"
Infinite Supplies: It's never touched upon where Cheese Sandwich gets everything he needs to throw such extravagant parties, or where he keeps his stuff. Later, he and Pinkie hold a fast-paced and elaborate goof-off featuring a parade float, enormous piñata, "dancing" Gummy, etc. given only ten minutes of preparation.
Innocently Insensitive: All the focus characters are guilty of this to some degree. Pinkie Pie takes her role as party planner so seriously and so aggressively that she doesn't notice how uncomfortable it makes Rainbow Dash; the rest of the Mane Cast are so enraptured by Cheese Sandwich's amazing party skills that they neglect Pinkie; and Cheese Sandwich gets swept up in the attention while trying to make the party memorable for both Rainbow and Pinkie. In the end, though, all three parties recognize their faults and apologize for it.
Kick the Dog: Attempted. During the opening song, Diamond Tiara starts talking about the cute-ceañera that Pinkie Pie planned back in season 1. While doing this, she has a small bowl of ice cream, while Silver Spoon walks out with a giant chocolate shake. Feeling jealous, Diamond shoves her own ice cream off the table and grabs Silver's shake, though Silver gets it back when Diamond turns away.
The Last Straw: Invoked when a passing pelican landing on Pinkie's tower piñata causes it to collapse on top of Rainbow Dash.
Pinkie's points to the audience when she sings about planning "a party, and it's just for you." (She's pointing to a pony she's talking to, but still.)
Cheese jumps into a picture and brings it to life during the first part of his song.
The cutaways to live-action versions of Boneless and Gummy during the goof-off.
During The Reveal in flashback to a party hosted by filly Pinkie, Cheese explains it was Pinkie that inspired him, causing the flashback filly version of Pinkie to ask, "Me?"
When trying to convince Pinkie to stay in Ponyville, Rainbow Dash says while Cheese Sandwich is great, he's still just a "guest" party planner and can never replace her. After all, Weird Al Yankovic as Cheese Sandwich is a Special Guest, so could never permanently stay in Ponyville.
Let's Duet: The polka medley goof-off between Cheese and Pinkie.
They actually sing as a duet in the final verse of Cheese's reprise song after they make amends.
Medium Shift Gag: During "The Goof-Off" song, there are two live-action cutaways; one to a puppet version of Cheese's rubber chicken, Boneless, and one to a baby alligator in place of Pinkie's normally animated pet, Gummy. Notably, this is the first such instance in the history of the show, the various 3D animations and Pinkie's stop-motion felt thought bubble aside.
Mickey Mousing: Often, but most noticeably during the goof-off when the Rainbow Dash bubble pops in sections to the last few notes of a measure.
Rainbow Dash: Enough with the warm fuzzy stuff, you two!
Mood Whiplash: The episode has three jarring shifts in mood, each towards the end of a song.
The first is "The Super Duper Party Pony," which is a mostly cheerful song about Cheese Sandwich winning over the crowd with his happy-go-lucky attitude, but ends on a somber note as Pinkie Pie notices all her friends have forgotten her. This is less a whiplash as it appears, as Pinkie, initially excited to hear of another party pony's fame, slowly finds through the song that no one is paying attention to her, leading to the final sad swing.
The second is during Cheese's initial planning for Rainbow's party at the beginning. While all the ponies are cheerfully working together to set things up, the scene cuts rather suddenly to Pinkie sitting alone outside Sugar Cube Corner as a paif of loose balloons knock down banner she made for Rainbow's celebration.
The third is "The Goof-Off," which features a crazy yet lighthearted fight between Pinkie and Cheese that just keeps building in speed and intensity until Pinkie drops a piñata on top of Rainbow Dash, bringing the song to a halt and allowing Pinkie to measure the weight of her actions.
There's also the reverse of this in "Pinkie's Lament", which starts in a minor key as Pinkie considers leaving her parties behind, and then as soon as Pinkie starts looking at photos of her past parties, the key quickly transfers to a major one as Pinkie's spirits are elated, ending on a triumphant callback.
Pastiche: The entire episode is constructed around a common theme of Westerns, where a stranger comes to a frontier town to challenge its expert gunslinger, often claiming that there's no room for both of them in that one-horse town. The central element, the goof-off, is a nod to the common gun duels in such works, and Cheese's Clint Eastwood -isms all cement this.
Pet the Dog: Diamond Tiara, in her own snobbish way, admits that Pinkie made an okay job with her cute-ceañera party; coming from a little Alpha Bitch like Diamond Tiara, this means a lot. To offset this, it's intercut with her attempting to drink Silver Spoon's larger milkshake, albeit unsuccessfully. It's even more surprising that Diamond Tiara would admit to enjoying a party where the CMC ended up humiliating her in front of all her guests.
Pony Cannonball: During the goof-off, Pinkie Pie fires herself out of her party cannon, followed by Rainbow Dash being fired out of Cheese Sandwich's party artillery piece. Later at the combined party, random ponies are shot out of Cheese's party tank all in fun.
Prehensile Hair: In his introductory song, Cheese Sandwich uses his tail to pull a pony from off screen.
Pride: As the title shows, Pinkie Pie exhibits quite a fair bit of this as she quite aggressively insists that being a "super duper party pony" is Serious Business. The episode examines both the positive and negative consequences of pride: While it does help her out of her Heroic BSOD, it also blinds her to how much stress she puts on her friends once it gets the better of her.
Also, Pinkie has had to deal with her pride getting the better of her before.
Public Domain Soundtrack: At least snippets of the polka medley, as per standard for "Weird Al" normally. For example, when Cheese rolls in on a giant cheese, "Roll Out the Barrel" can be heard in the filler. In the middle of the song can be heard Weird Al's own "W.A.Y. Moby Polka" (the filler melody he puts into his polka medleys) and the melody of "99 Bottles of Beer." The last reprise, sung by Pinkie before the giant piñata falls, is the traditional Mexican piñata song, "Dale, Dale, Dale!"
Pun: A lot of cheese-related puns pop up around Cheese Sandwich's dialog.
The Rival: Pinkie declares Cheese Sandwich to be her rival in party planning when she starts thinking he could replace her. They're fortunately able to work out their differences and develop a subdued Friendly Rivalry.
Rivals Team Up: The final party is the result of Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich working together.
Serious Business: Party planning is no joke, whether your party planner is Pinkie Pie or Cheese Sandwich. The goof-off escalates this to the point where Rainbow Dash, the party's honored guest, isn't having fun.
Ship Tease: Colt Cheese Sandwich was a shy colt until he attended one of filly Pinkie Pie's parties and kept one of her rubber chickens as a memento. Almost sounds like a Love at First Sight scenario.
Shout-Out: Apart from those directly related to "Weird Al" himself (see Actor Allusion on the Trivia page)...
Cheese Sandwich dresses up as The Man With No Name from the Dollars Trilogy.
Cheese says, "This Cheese has stood alone a long time," referencing the old nursery rhyme "The Farmer in the Dell."
Cheese Sandwich's cheese float features shout outs both to Babybel (mounted on top of Rainbow's scepter) and Pacman (a circular cheese with a suspiciously mouthlike cut going after a few small, quadratic cheese pieces).
Showdown at High Noon: Pinkie's declared time for the goof-off, not realizing that it was already 3:00. She then reschedules for 3:10.
Pinkie Pie: Parties are no picnic. Fluttershy: Ooh, I'd like a nice picnic party. (Pinkie gives her a Death Glare)
Spear Counterpart: Cheese to Pinkie. Both burst into song at random moments, are into parties, have roughly the same hairstyle, and even have some sort of preternatural sense based on their first names.
Spider-Sense: Cheese Sandwich's "Cheesy Sense"; it even let him know about Pinkie's Pinkie Sense.
Split-Screen Reaction: Everyone reacts to Pinkie challenging Cheese to the Goof-Off. Fluttershy somehow manages to move under Applejack in the second it takes for the reaction.
Stealth Pun: One of the costumes in Cheese Sandwich's backstory montage is an Army uniform, he's a traveling party planner, and he has a party tank. The queso goes rolling along.
Student and Master Team: Played with. Once Cheese Sandwich reveals Pinkie Pie was his original inspiration, making him a pupil/apprentice of her to a certain extension, and they work together to make an even greater party than either of them could have created alone.
Stylistic Suck: Double Subverted with the birthday party banner Pinkie quite messily paints. At first it seems to be a spitting image of Rainbow Dash, but it turns out to be the real Rainbow posing in front of a more childish doodle of herself.
Super OCD: Spike alludes to Twilight's desire to learn everything from books when they comment on her having a book about running goof-offs.
Surpassed the Teacher: Unintentionally on Cheese Sandwich's part. He initially throws a party of such scale that Pinkie nearly calls it quits on what she does best.
There Can Be Only One: Pinkie Pie concludes that if Cheese Sandwich is the number one party pony around as he says, then logically, she is not. This eventually leads her to challenge Cheese to decide once and for all who is the ultimate party pony.
This Is Gonna Suck: Rainbow Dash is obviously unhappy about Twilight's declaring her the duel's judge.
Title Drop: Cheese Sandwich tells Pinkie Pie, "It's no coincidence, my little pony."
Trail Of Breadcrumbs: In the intro to the opening song, Pinkie leaves behind a trail of balloons leading into town.
Triumphant Reprise: Two of them to "Pinkie the Party Planner". The first one is at the end of "Pinkie's Lament" where Pinkie breaks out of her Heroic BSOD and becomes determined to show she's "the bestest party pony around". The second is after "Cheese Confesses" when Pinkie and Cheese sing the song as duet as they plan Rainbow Dash's party together.
Up to Eleven: Cheese compared to Pinkie. Among other things, whereas she has a party cannon, Cheese has a party tank.
Visual Pun: Cheese Sandwich introduces himself to Ponyville in a song by showing off his party planning skills. He gets carried away, and the town stops paying attention to Pinkie. Cheese is literally carried away by a crowd by the song's end.
At a point, Pinkie swallows her tears.
Walking the Earth: Cheese Sandwich travels all over Equestria to help with party planning. He goes to Ponyville when he senses there's going to be a huge party, and once his work there is done, he sets off again.
Wham Line: Toward the end, when Cheese Sandwich sings about the party that changed his life when he was young:
Cheese Sandwich: But that never would have happened on my own, I'll tell you why / For the one who threw that party, it was you, Pinkie Pie.