Shout Out: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW)
Much like its parent show, the comic has a ton of little nods. Seriously, it's like IDW is in some kind of competition with DHX to see how many Shout Outs they can cram in a single issue/episode! Shout outs from the main series, the Micro series, and the ''Friends Forever'' series are covered here.
In spirit of the Once per Episode, "Where's Waldo?"-like appearance of the Observer in Fringe, an (the?) Observer pony has appeared in every story drawn by Price, including the two micro-series he did (Rarity and Luna), and the Sunset Shimmer short. All known sightings are logged here◊.
The Observer pony has even crossed over to stories with Amy Mebberson's art, appearing in one panel in Issue #15.
One poster in the Rarity micro-comic is for "Velvet Sedan Chair", a band within the fiction of Fringe.
The Sunset Shimmer short, given that it deals with her discovering about parallel worlds, has no fewer than five Fringe references on page 5: the books Shimmer read include "The First Ponies", "ZFT", "The Observers", "There is more than one of everything" and "Crossing Over by Bell & Bishop". It's probably some kind of record.
The "Reflections" arc (Issues #17-20) is basically a love letter to Fringe by Andy, given that the basic plot involves two separate universes, a key theme of Fringe:
The first page of #17, the Observer actually speaks to Twilight and Spike, warning them "There is more than one of everything", and then disappears about as mysteriously as the Observed did on Fringe.
The Observer pony appears very much front and center on the Price variant for #18◊, part of an arc involving alternate universes. No way he's out of place here. In addition, his cover of Issue #19, which mirrors #18◊, give yet another title drop to the Fringe episode, "There's More Than One of Everything", and the two sides use the blue/red color scheme that Fringe associated with the two different universes. Issue #18's title is "Back To Where You've Never Been Before", another Fringe episode title.
A flashback to Star Swirl's laboratory in #18 shows one book called "Cortexiphan Studies".
"Over there" King Sombra's wall of study in #19 shows several differences between the two universes and other theories, many relating to Fringe, such as Manehattan being spelling with one "T", the lack of sugar or avacados in the "over there" and the lack of coffee in the main 'verse, the concept of amber, the double-F Fringe Division badge used "over there", and a "Resist" poster similar to the one used in Fringes 5th season.
Pinkie and Spike discuss how to name the evil versions of Celestia and Luna, a task that Fringe fans had done when the alternative versions of the main characters were revealed. One suggested by Pinkie, "Fauxlestia", follows with what became the canon name of the alternate Olivia, "Fauxlivia".
Twilight's plans for how they will face the evil Celestia and Luna include a piece of paper with "ZFT" on it.
The conclusion of the "Reflections" arc ends with the concept of the two universes merging and subsequently destroying each other to make way for a new one, which was an ultimate goal by William Bell's character (well, one of him) in Fringe. A splash page in issue #20, where the fate of both universes loom, show a numerous number of characters from both sides reacting to a dangerous explosion; the background for each set of characters is blue (the prime universe ones) or red (Good Sombra's universe), which mimics the blue/red used for Fringe. Further, in addition to the Observer pony, ponified versions of the main Olivia Dunham, Walter Bishop (with a white tulip cutie mark), and Peter Bishop, and the alternate universe versions of Olivia ("Fauxlivia") and Secretary Walter Bishop can be seen.
Similarly, works drawn by Amy Mebberson will typically nod to the Sailor Moon series and fandom for the same reasons. All five Sailor Scouts appear in the Nightmare Forces arc, and the Chibi versions in the Celestia micro-series comic.
The Ascended Meme character of Doctor Whooves, playing on Doctor Who, reappears several times in the series. The canon Doctor Whooves character (that is said to be the Tenth, David Tennant, version) has appeared several times, but there has also been nods to the First (Harnell), Fourth (Baker), Eleventh (Smith), and the War Doctor (John Hurt) by both Price and Mebberson.
The comic book series has a map with a location labeled as "Rocinante Hills". Rocinante was Don Quijote's horse.
Good thing she's got that second one, too. An earlier panel features a jar; the label is partly covered by Pinkie, but it's easy to make out that it should be 'Hans Delbrook'. Wonder what else Twilight's experimenting with.
Pinkie showing the girls and Spike how to act like zombies resembles Dianne's Zombie Acting 101 to her friends in Shaun of the Dead.
Issue #2, which has the ponies going through the Diamond Dogs' abandoned mines, is suitably replete with David Bowie references, including statues named Ziggy and Stardust, another one that looks like Aladdin Sane, and multiple lyrical quotations on signs and carved into stone, including lines from "Golden Years", "Cat People", and the song "Diamond Dogs" itself.
"Sashay on the Boardwalk, Scurry to the ditch", directions to the emerald mines. Lyrics From Diamond Dogs.
"Red like Jungle Burning Bright" Lyrics from Cat People (Putting out Fire).
"Never Look Back, Walk Tall Act Fine" inscription on the cave exit, lyrics to Golden Years.
On the map, a quip about poachers called "Diamond Dogs"(also refers to lyrics from Diamond Dogs
Pinkie picks up a skull and calls it Mr. Bones. More apt considering that the skull has a hairpiece that matches a certain other "Bones".
Also relating to Star Trek, in the map at the end of the issue, a gray obelisk is clearly depicted. This obelisk is very similar in appearance to Obelisks left by Preservers◊, Ancient galactic beings who rescued cultures and species at risk of extinction and transplanted them to more hospitable planets. Since IDW also prints a Star Trek series, the implications are very interesting.
Calling the skull Mr. Bones could also be a shout-out to a very popular fan-made roller coaster on Roller Coaster Tycoon called Mr. Bones' Wild Ride. (NOTE: for safety, consider this link NSFW. It is an archived 4Chan thread, after all.)
A cave troll living in the mine in issue 2 resembles the trolls from the film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, and has a collection of various "toys", including a damaged Optimus Prime and a Rubik's Cube.
Though not as solid as the Invasion of the Body Snatchers love song of Issue 1, the flashback Sugar Apocalypse casts the Changelings with a certain resemblance to Things. (It starts in issue one, with the "zombie" ponies being referred to as infected in Twilight's book). The cover, with the "imperfect imitation" Changelings is even more strongly reminiscent.
The inside of the castle is inspired by M.C. Escher's Relativity. Furthering this, the globe that the Mane Six has been using to get them there bounces on its own down these stairs, in the same manner as Labyrinth, which also drew inspiration from this work.
When the ponies try various doors to find Chrysalis:
In Rarity's nightmare, she imagines her friends replacing her with a pony that looks similar to Mabel, including having the name Maybelle. Even the creator of Gravity Fallstook notice of the Shout-Out when a preview of the comic was published.
Rarity's capture at the hands of the Nightmare Forces seems to mirror a particular Tsukihimepic◊. This is apparently a coincidence though.
Two different regenerations of Doctor Whooves appear next to each other (Ten and Eleven, the latter wearing a bowtie and a fez) as the citizens of Ponyville are preparing themselves for the oncoming storm. Ten's expression looks deadpan serious to boot as he glances at Eleven's fez incredulously.
Nightmare Rarity chastises the Mane Six for thinking this is a Sligh Stallion film.
Fluttershy tends to a wounded bunny in the nightmare landscape, and calls it "Buffy" (considering that we already have Spike and Angel...)
It's not even a coincidence. After meeting "Buffy" the first thing she does is mention Spike.
Issue # 8
When the Nightmare Forces first start their invasion of Ponyville, there are once again two Doctor Whooves regenerations next to each other. In this case, it's Four and Ten. Ten is even shown in the ensuing battle either bewildered about how to use his Sonic Screwdriver with hooves, or simply shaking a malfunctioning Sonic Screwdriver.
Granny Smith beats a (literal) cartful of Nightmares using what she called "The Kamikazi Karate Clop Of Eldery Respect" She says it while striking a Karate Kid pose and her Grandson Big McIntosh says "By the mane of Miyagi!" on amazement.
Amy Mebberson included mare versions of Sailor Mars, Mercury, and Venus to go along with the cameos of Moon and Jupiter. She also included a cameo of the pony version of the woman who runs the Key of Nik blog on tumblr, which has been doing liveblog recaps of Sailor Moon episodes. The recap of the Sailor Moon based cameos can be found here.
Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon's advice booth is a shout out to Lucy's psychiatry booth from Peanuts. Both even adopt suspiciously similar poses in one panel.
May also be intentional that Diamond Tiara is running the booth, since she behaves... somewhat similar to Lucy.
A few panels later in the same scene is a kite stuck up in a tree, another related shoutout.
Silver Spoon asks about Bic Mac's yoke in a very Seinfeld-ish way and pose.
Vinyl is singing along to a song that parodies The Beatles' "Drive My Car".
One of the stalls is "Bluth's Frozen Banana". Further, the stallion running it has a very dark blue coat, matching that used by the Blue Man Group 's makeup, referencing the Tobias Funke "I blue myself" joke.
The Tom Selleck-like Magnum, P.I. pony, seen in Issue #1, returns as Rarity is talking to him and her parents.
Big Mac takes a very meandering path through the fairgrounds on one splash page.
The Imagine Spot splash page panel of Fleetfoot falling for Big Mac (also used as the Comics World Retail Incentive cover for the issue) uses a number of nods to Superman: Fleetfoot's retirement from the Wonderbolts is announced in "The Derby Planet" (a parody of the Daily Planet), and Fleetfoot takes Big Mac for a flight, a flip of the roles during the "Can You Read My Mind?" love theme during the first Superman film, the title stated on a banner that highlights the page.
One of the other floats for the rally is a swan float sponsored by Leeman Furniture, a reference to the movie Drop Dead Gorgeous.
For their song, Shining Armor is dressed as Adam Ant, Poindexter as Boy George from Culture Club, 8-Bit as a member of Devo, and Gaffer as a member of Oingo Boingo. They even name their band based on Oingo Boingo's name they used in films, "The Mystic Knights of the Electric Stable", and the song lyrics parody the band's song "Little Girls". The other sticker on Poindexter's soundboard, "Who cares what Frankie says?" is based on a promotional campaign for the band Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
One of the signs seen at school and at the game is "M*A*S*H the Manticores"
The image of a despondent Shining Armor is captioned with "No wedding day smiles, no walk down the aisle, no flowers, no wedding dress," a quote from Bruce Springsteen's song "The River".
The map featured in the Oubliettes & Orges two page story in the back of the issue features "Laputa", some sort of Castle in the Sky, Rohirrim, a reference to a Lord of the Rings race, and the Larping Fields.
Princess Cadance is shown holding an album based off Purple Rain by Prince. Additional musical references in this scene include "The Equestrian League" (a nod to The Human League), Dan Stableberg (a nod to Dan Folgelberg), Bruce Springsteed, and Stallions at Work.
One of the outfits that AJ tries on over the two-page spread resembles the yellow jumpsuit from Kill Bill.
The issue as a whole has a couple subtle nods to Citizen Kane. The framing device of having an unseen interviewer (in the comic, secretly Sunset Shimmer) asking the various characters about their relationships was the same as in the film. And the interviewer's line "I thought it would be fun to write for a newspaper" is, according to the writer, a deliberate nod to Kane's line, "I thought it would be fun to run a newspaper."
Fluttershy's fish Gil appears as a Moorish idol, a parallel to Gill in Finding Nemo. In fact, Fluttershy's drive to be a pirate is to find her lost fish.
Ponified versions of One Piece 's Luffy, Nami, Zoro, and Sanji appear (the former two in the background on the balcony and the latter two in the foreground of the panel). There's also a much clearer shot of Luffy when Pinkie does her song during the bar fight.
Rainbow swings on a chandlier, shouting "Hey yoou guuuys!", a reference to Sloth from The Goonies.
When Pinkie starts narrating their new story, Rainbow Dash asks, "Hey! Who nominted her as story queen?!" Well, Pinkie is holding a conch shell...
The stories the four imagine themselves into from the white void is a send up of The Lord of the Rings, including being called "One Worm To Fool Them All". Pinkie takes the place of Gandalf, while Rainbow is Frodo, Rarity is Legolas, and Twilight as Gimli. They are also heed to "Mt. Worm" which has a setting similar to Mt. Doom from the movies.
Rainbow's imagination drops them straight onto the pony version of Star Trek: The Original Series. Naturally, she's Kirk, Twilight is Spock, and Rarity is Uhura. There's also a pony version of Yeoman Rand in the background of one shot.
Likewise, the entrance to the secret part of the library has slides. That and an earlier shot of Celestia and Starswirl in labcoats appears to also be a shoutout to the way Izma and Kronk entered their secret laboratory.
Rainbow Dash, at one point, is seen reading from Dracula.
The concept of opening portals into alternate worlds, and in some cases, "borrowing" their technology - aided by the image of Celestia and Star Swirled in turn-of-the-century period pieces - brings to mind several similarities to BioShock Infinite.
The two-page short includes a nod to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, in which a Templar knight pony in the belly of a whale tells Star Swirl "he chose poorly", despite Star Swirl being thrilled to have found the hat.
Five ponified characters from Peanuts are present across two panels (during Winona's attempt at distraction) - Charlie Brown (with a baseball cutie mark), Sally, Linus (complete with his security blanket), Peppermint Patty, and Lucy (with a "5 cents" cutie mark).
For general shoutouts to the Power Ponies themselves, see the recap.
Balkham Asylum is a clear expy for Batman's Arkham Asylum; in one panel, one can also see a pony based on the classic look of Commissioner Gordon. Pharoah Phetlocks is inspired by the 60's Batman villain, King Tut.
The Maretropolis mayor, Mayor Blossom, shares similar designs with Townsville's mayor. (The name also hints at this)
The headquarters of the Power Ponies is very similar to the high rise of both Tony Stark's and the Teen Titans, with the building capped by giant "PP" letting
Long-Face is drawn and given dialog that closely resembles that of Sandman.
Also, his use of "sadness gas" is similar to the use of fear gas by the Scarecrow.
Needless to say, the references to Doctor Who are through the roof (to the point that Discord has to kick Doctor Whooves out of his time machine). Discord dons a bow-tie and fez for most of the story, uses a time machine that is "smaller on the inside", and avoids telling the ponies about the future (including Cyberponies) under the claim of "Spoilers!"
There's an old poster saying "Celestia Superstar" which is an obvious reference to the famous musical Jesus Christ Superstar. Another poster is for a musical group, the "Babboons", a parody of The Monkees (also apt for the theme of the issue).
When Rarity is explaining running a business to the others, there are ponies of Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap from WKRP in Cincinnati.
At the "Art of the Dress" fashion show, the theater in the background is playing a film called "See You Next Wednesday", a recurring motif in films produced by John Landis (including Animal House and The Blues Brothers, both previously referenced by the comic book.)
Fluttershy (Issue #4):
When Fluttershy is fretting about her art, and Angel is trying to help, he's shown in front of three different paintings. The last two include Pablo Picasso's "Mandolin and Guitar", and Salvador Dali's "The Persistence of Memory". Angel even emphasizes this last one, suddenly sporting a vest and a mustache similar to Dali's own style.
Most of the other paintings used in background shots of the contest hall are highly abstracted versions of other cover art from both the main and micro MLPFIM series.
There are further references to the opera: in Pinkie's song, she uses lines from "Vesti la Giubba", the famous aria.
Though the joke is not told explicitly, Twilight repeats some elements of the Pagliacci joke from Watchmen (which is where the more youthful readers will likely recognize the name).
One of the salesponies in the market is a stallion with blue spiked hair/mane, a cream-colored coat, and bright green eyes. Considering the artist is Ben Bates and his resume, this could be Sonic the Hedgehog in pony form.
Pinkie's party cannon is described as a "Z&R model" cannon. This is a reference to the comic artist and writer Zander Cannon, who's a friend of the writer and helped him get the gig at IDW.
The pony OC of webcomic artist MagnoliaPorter appears during one of the market scene panels, as shown here. It's also a Visual Pun: the pony, Couch Potato, is carrying saddlebags full of magnolias, making her a "magnolia porter."
Applejack (Issue #6):
The main antagonist is the "Sass Squash", a play on the Sasquatch/Bigfoot legend. Granny's book even has a photo that spoofs the famous blurred photo that is used over on that trope page.
As they prepare to go out to capture Sass Squash, Apple Bloom asks "Magnets, how do they work?", an Internet meme based on the Insane Clown Posse's song "Miracles".
Cutie Mark Crusaders (Issue #7):
One of Rarity's "dangerously impractical" dresses that the CMC have Imp try to recreate is one based on elements from Mystery Science Theater 3000; Sweetie Belle even comments "It stinks!", a riff popularized in show in the "Pod People" episode.
The Cutie Mark Crusaders as Power Rangers//Super Sentai. Their "Mega Pony" robot bears a resemblance to Jetfire (or the Macross//Robotech mecha that developed into Jetfire, but IDW has the Transformers liscense, so Jetfire himself seems more likely). The monsterized version of Gummy they wind up fighting is blatantly based on Godzilla.
A variant of Power Ponies, with Sweetie Belle as a robot! Not to mention Scootaloo's superhero outfit bears a striking resemblance to Hawkman (or Hawkgirl).
The CMC as cops being chewed out by their police supervisor. According to Tony Fleecs at EFNW '14, Scootaloo is meant to dressed as Axel Foley in this.
The pair are captured by anthropomorphic stone lobsters living in the mountains, aka "Rock Lobsters".
Duke Silversaddle, who appears on the first page, is a reference to Hot In Cleveland, which had a brony character in a couple episodes. For the local nerd convention, he dressed up as "Prince Silversaddle".
As with Anderson's Pinkie Pie issue, there's a Watchmen reference: Spike's line about how Celestia could have saved them easily is almost a word-for-word quote of something the Comedian says to Dr. Manhattan in the Vietnam flashback.
Three frames lead off comic with the title. The middle frame mimics the poster art for Planes, Trains and Automobiles, while the right frame on the title page is a ponified version of when the lead characters take a selfie from Thelma & Louise.
A sign as they leave Salt Lick City is for "Griswald's World of Matching Shoes and Belts".
A sign with Jim the Troll near Mount Monument advertises "Holiday Road", the movie's theme song.
The Salt Lick City "Biggest Ball of Yarn in Equestria" is based on the real world attraction, the Biggest Ball of Twine, located in Minnesota. However, the actual ball is much smaller than that in the comic; the comic's representation is actually much closer - including the restaurant at the top of the ball - to that in Sam & Max Hit the Road.
The Seaddle Pony Barlett Water-Skiing show is based on a long-standing attraction at the Wisconson Dells, Tommy Barlett's Water-skiing Show.
Whinney Land is indeed based on Disney Land , but like in Vacation, also a parody of Wally World in terms of its mascots.
Areas within are compared to those in Disney Land, like "It's a Wee Land" (It's a Small World) and "Sploosh Hill" (Splash Mountain). Specific attractions include parodies of the Haunted Mansion (which Cook and Price have referenced lots before), The Country Bears, The Jungle Tour, and Pirates of the Caribbean
The comic ends on a double parody: the title "Dancin' across Equestria" and the use of photos is based on the end credits of National Lampoon's Vacation (its closing theme was "Dancin' across the USA", and the explanation of the various fates of the characters is a nod to Animal House.
One of the souvenirs on the final page is a card for Chapin Taxi Service, "Taxi" being one of Harry Chapin's biggest hits.
Issue 9: Granny Smith and Flim and Flam
On the two page spread overlooking the apple convention, besides a zillion cameos and callbacks to the comics:
Slash, the famous guitarist for Guns 'n Roses, is ponified in one panel.
Extending from the original The Music Man inspiration of Flim and Flam from "Super Cider Easy Squeezy 6000", the brothers end up angry at the other after they both fail to vie for the love of Marian the Librarian. The pony version of Marian is even similarly dressed to the 1962 film version of the character.
The fanon connection between the Time Turner/Doctor Whooves and Doctor Who gets a lot of play on the covers. While IDW also has the license for the Doctor Who comics and can probably get away with some of this, Bobby Curnow for IDW has stated they simply consider these are parodies under fair use allowances.
Another variant cover for Issue #2 has Time Turner wearing Tom Baker's iconic scarf, holding a fob watch, standing by a streetlamp that's suspiciously TARDIS-shaped, with a statue of a pegasus covering her eyes ala a Weeping Angel.
The main cover by Amy Mebberson for issue #16 has some of the Mane 6 in costumes of books from fiction facing against the story's giant bookworm. Rainbow is dressed as Daring Do (of course), Rarity is in a standard princess motive, while meaning Twilight has on Hogwart robes and Pinkie is one of the Gumbys.