Western Animation / My Little Pony TV Specials
Based on Hasbro's My Little Pony
toyline. Created in The '80s
, this pair of Merchandise-Driven
half-hour TV specials came with the wide success of the toyline. The first was aired in 1984 and another in 1985. They were followed by My Little Pony: The Movie
, which was in-turn followed by a TV series called My Little Pony 'n Friends
My Little Pony: Rescue at Midnight Castle/Firefly's AdventureEvil Overlord
Tirek requires four ponies to use as demons
to pull his chariot to bring in The Night That Never Ends
in order to Take Over the World
. He sends his henchman Scorpan
to carry out the task. The special actually begins with the ponies enjoying themselves in Dream Valley until Scorpan and his subordinates attack. Two ponies are captured in the attack.
In light of the first assault by Scorpan and his army of stratadons
, the rest of the ponies panic and hide in Dream Castle, pulling up the drawbridge. Fearful that anyone can be next, Firefly goes off for help and decides to ask it of the very first human she happens to come across. The human is Megan, a cowgirl who lives at a ranch at the other end of the rainbow. From there, Firefly basically kidnaps Megan to go back to Ponyland with her despite the girl being about ten years old and without a single means of helping them... yeah, Firefly's plan needed more thought (perhaps not surprising, this character would later inspire the current generation's Rainbow Dash).
Just as Firefly and Megan arrive at Dream Castle, Scorpan returns for another assault, needing more ponies to complete Tirek's plans. They abduct an adult pony and the helpless baby Ember, inspiring Megan to take action. She sets out with a handful of ponies to stop Tirek, but first they stop by the Mushrump to meet with the Moochick, a strange gnome wizard with a terrible memory and a mushroom motif. He gives Megan a locket called "The Rainbow of Light" and they are on their way. Once at Midnight Castle, they break in and confront the evil overlord himself.
Originally untitled, this special was known as Rescue at Midnight Castle
in repeats and Firefly's Adventure
My Little Pony: Escape from Catrina
The Little Ponies prepare for a "Welcome Back" party for their human friend, Megan. (Strangely, absolutely none of the original ponies from the first special appear in this follow-up, so it's anyone's guess why they're welcoming her back). Meanwhile, little furballs called Bushwoolies toil in a pit for Catrina, a drug-addicted Catgirl
with magic powers, under the watchful eye of a shape-shifting lizard-man named Rep. When they revolt and escape, she tries to make the Little Ponies her new slaves to keep her machine working.
Over Rep's protests (he remembers her before she became a witchweed addict), Catrina and Rep kidnap Baby Moondancer. Megan and the other ponies storm to the rescue, but Catrina tries to force them into a choice between their freedom and Baby Moondancer's life.
The two specials contain examples of:
- Absent-Minded Professor: The Moochick, in spades. In fact, he has an entire song dedicated to this.
- Action Girl:
- In Midnight Castle, there are three of them: Megan, Firefly, and Bowtie.
- In Escape from Catrina, we have Megan and, to a certain extent, Sundance.
- Adult Fear: Both specials involved a girl who couldn't be older than fourteen. In the first, she is essentially kidnapped by a talking pony and almost murdered. This might cause some viewers to wonder what her parents thought when she was gone. The second special involved the antagonist nearly murdering a filly.
- An Aesop: In Catrina, the witchweed potion is apparently a metaphor for drugs, and as most people know, Drugs Are Bad.
- Another Dimension: Not outright stated, but it is heavily implied that rainbows are passage ways between our mundane Earth and the ponies' Ponyland. Plus, had Megan lived in the same reality as the ponies, that Firefly could speak and fly would not have come as a surprise to her. Another explanation is that they do live in the same reality but the Ponyland ponies live far in an area from "normal" places.
- Anti-Villain: Scorpan in the first TV special, Rep in the second. By the end, he's become an Anti-Hero (Type II).
- Artifact of Doom: Tirek's Rainbow of Darkness. Normally is contained into a pouch, where it throbs like a heart and shines with an eerie, creepy glow. Also, Catrina's Witchweed potion, to which she is completely addicted.
- Badass Adorable:
- "Danger is my life!" says Firefly, who later kicks a dragon in the face.
- Bowtie also counts. She frees herself from being picked up by the dragons by kicking her way free and she's the best jumper of the land-walking ponies.
- Badass Boast: "We have a power of our own, Tirek. Take this!"
- Badass Normal: Megan, who begins the series by fending off a dragon empty-handed and finishes the first special by killing Tirek with the Rainbow of Light.
- Big Damn Heroes: The Sea Ponies, of course.
- Body Horror: The first three ponies being transformed by Tirek can be seen at a kind of halfway stage midway through, still crying and whimpering in fear.
- Busby Berkeley Number: The Sea Ponies song is accompanied with a dance number that is very reminiscent of one in an Esther Williams movie.
- Cats Are Mean: Played with Catrina on the second TV special. The trope is inverted before she became addicted to Witchweed Potion, and is played straight during this phase. She subverts it again after she finally kicks the habit.
- Chekhov's Skill:
- Firefly attempts her "double inside-out loop" early on in "Rescue at Midnight Castle", but fails and crashes into Applejack. She attempts it again to save Megan and later during the final battle to help defeat Tirek.
- Similarly, Twilight's teleportation. We see it once early on to know she can do it, and then it comes in handy during some MacGuffin Keep-Away. (This is before the show would make it so that every unicorn could do that; in the special it's Twilight's unique talent.)
- Covers Always Lie: The European covers◊ for both specials relate to the actual content very little. The Rescue at Midnight Castle cover shows many ponies who aren't even in the episodes, and for some reason Spike has wings and is big enough to be ridden by Megan. The Escape From Catrina cover shows a prototypical version of Danny with pretty much nothing from the special in it.
- Cute Kitten: Twinkles the cat (who came with the original Pretty Parlor playset) can be seen in "Rescue at Midnight Castle."
- Damsel in Distress:
- In Midnight Castle, we have five of them, including Applejack. Actually, especially Applejack, who almost drowns, later is kidnapped by Tirek's henchmen and finally is turned into a monster after she takes a direct hit of the Rainbow of Darkness.
- Baby Moondancer in Escape from Catrina.
- Dark is Not Evil: Scorpan. He looks demonic, but he's a Noble Demon at worst.
- Disney Villain Death: Subverted, Catrina nearly falls into a pit at the end of the special, but the ponies and Rep save her after she agrees to destroy the Witchweed Potion machine and thus the source of her insanity.
- Distressed Dude: Rep in Escape From Catrina.
- The Dog Bites Back: Scorpan and Spike against Tirek in the first special, Rep against Catrina in the second.
- Doo Wop Progression: The Sea Ponies' song does this.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Averted. Throughout Escape from Catrina, Rep is pushed around, belittled, and even struck by Catrina. The special does not treat this like it's okay.
- Drugs Are Bad: The subtle-as-a-brick Aesop of the second TV special.
- Drunk on the Dark Side: Catrina's addiction to the witchweed potion and the power it brings. Her only friend Rep laments how it has warped her personality.
- '80s Hair: Even though they're horses, several ponies in the pilot have hair in this style. Megan herself surprisingly doesn't — her hairstyle is a timeless ponytail.
- Emerging from the Shadows: Tirek.
- Empathic Environment: At the very beginning, it's sunny and pleasant out, but the instant Scorpan and the other riders show up, it becomes cloudy, windy, and ominous immediately. It's also permanently overcast over Midnight Castle, but that's possibly justified, since its master controls of the power of darkness.
- Even Mooks Have Loved Ones:
- Tirek really shouldn't have threatened Scorpan with decapitating Spike, since this is what finally made Scorpan rebel against him.
- An interesting case in the second with Rep, whose loved one is Katrina herself, namely the person she used to be before getting Drunk on the Dark Side. He still cares about her but laments how she's changed.
- Everybody Laughs Ending: The first TV special.
- Evil Is Hammy: Guess.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: Megan's Rainbow of Light tears Tirek apart, almost destroys Midnight Castle (with the good guys still on it) and finally drags Tirek to the sky, where he is killed on a giant explosion. But frankly he deserved it.
- Fantastic Aesop: Also from Catrina. Remember kids, stay off drugs, or else you'll become a lightning spamming giant that tries to enslave pastel-colored hairballs and ponies! After a while, even your long time shapeshifting Lizard Folk enabler will grow tired of you, turn into a bull, and knock you into a pit of the stuff to drown in your own habit!
- Fashion Show: The second special ends with one.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Megan and the ponies.
- Foreshadowing: Scorpan's true nature is hinted at early on when he saves Megan from falling during a Stratadon attack.
- Fungus Humongous: The Mushromp
- Furry Confusion: Megan has a pony. A non-sentient pony. Though admittedly she lives in the human world while the ponies live in Dream Valley.
- Genius Ditz: The Moochick. He always knows exactly what the ponies need to do to fix whatever apocalypse they're in the middle of now, but he has a terrible memory and a tendency to misplace very important items and tools.
- Genki Girl: Firefly. She takes Megan to Ponyland within minutes of meeting her and listens to precisely none of Megan's (reasonable) arguments that she's not qualified to be their savior.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Tirek is a very thinly veiled Expy of Satan. Remove his back legs and you're left with a red, horned, cloven hoofed lord of evil who turns beauty into ugliness with the "Power of Darkness". In a show about magical, candy colored ponies. You know, for kids!
- Girlish Pigtails: Bowtie.
- G-Rated Drug: Witchweed potion. It turns Catrina, who used to be a much nicer Petting Zoo Person, into a huge demonic giant that shoots lightning out of her eyes. (Certainly, this is a well-documented side-effect of real narcotics...)
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Catrina, after her addiction to Witchweed potion drove her insane. After she kicks the habit, she inverts this trope.
- Good Hurts Evil: It only took a few seconds of struggle for Megan's ridiculously tiny Rainbow of Light to absorb Tirek's Rainbow of Darkness and brutally kill him.
- Good Is Not Soft: Megan's a Friend to All Living Things, but she'll quite literally obliterate you if you're truly irredeemable.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: Completely averted as far as those lizardman creatures that serve Tirek are concerned. That they're actually good at their job makes Megan and the ponies' victory more impressive.
- Heel–Face Turn: Scorpan and Catrina.
- Hellish Horse: The ponies captured and transformed by Tirek become monstrous dragon-like creatures.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick:
- The Moochic's long-suffering rabbit, Habit, definitely counts.
- Firefly and Bowtie for Megan.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: Quite a number of them in the first special, including future main character, Spike.
- Interspecies Romance: On the second TV special, we have Catrina (a catwoman) who's boyfriend is a shape-shifting lizard-man named Rep.
- Jumped at the Call: Megan is essentially abducted by Firefly, but once she gets there and sees Tirek's minions abducting ponies, she's immediately on board.
- Lady Land: A staple of the series besides Tales and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. The 2000 specials have no male Ponies actually.
- Last-Second Chance: Catrina is offered this, and she actually accepts it.
- Lighter and Softer: Everything after the first TV special was this. The first special was pretty dark and grim for a kids show, included ponies set on fire, considerable violence, threatening beheading, and the Big Bad was brutally killed at the end. Ironic in that this was how the My Little Pony show began, as possibly the most hardcore TV cartoon of its time, yet its second and third generations created such a powerful reputation as a little girl show that it was difficult for many to believe My Little Pony could ever be anything else even when Friendship is Magic came along to change the show's style again.
- Little Fillies Kick Shins: Baby Moondancer does this to Rep when he attempts to kidnap her.
- Lizard Folk: Rep.
- Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Scorpan. That fact that he looks like Satan may have something to do with it.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Scorpan in the first special; a fundamentally ape-like body and limbs, a lion's tail and mane, bat-like wings, pointed bestial ears, and a face that can be described as a mixture between simian and crocodilian.
- Mood Whiplash: Rescue at Midnight Castle, maybe also due to lack of time:
- At the very beginning. Not even a minute of colorful ponies playing in the sunlight before BAM!, dark clouds, thunderstorm, enter Scorpan with the dragons.
- Applejack falls off the bridge into a quite deep river. Megan jumps after her. Everything looks like Applejack is about to drown. Suddenly, SHOO BE DOO, SHOOP SHOOP BE DOO!
- The seaponies return just after Megan and the ponies have arrived outside dark and scary Midnight Castle.
- The end is pretty much the beginning in reverse.
- Morality Pet: Spike is this for Scorpan on the first TV special; Rep tries to be this for Catrina in the second.
- Mythology Gag: Yes, the first installment has 'em.
- In the toyline, Megan is a frilly Barbie princess doll◊ type character, a stark contrast to the rough-and-tumble cowgirl of the show. At the end of Escape from Catrina, she's wearing the doll's dress at the party, the only time we'll ever see it.
- Megan's normal, non-sentient horse TJ is based on the original "My Pretty Pony," the predecessor to the franchise.
- The Night That Never Ends: Tirek's ultimate goal in the first TV special is The Trope Namer.
- Noble Demon: Scorpan was like a father for Spike and tried to spare as much people as he could from falling into Tirek's hands. He also warned Megan not to interfere. Subverted in that he is really an enchanted human prince and the rightful lord of the lands seized by Tirak.
- No Ontological Inertia: After Tirek is killed, his entire kingdom reverts to a pleasant countryside, and everyone he transformed goes back to normal.
- Non-Standard Character Design: Tirek and Scorpan are drawn in a far more dark and realistic style that is unusual for such a show.
- Off with His Head!: Tirek threatens Scorpan with making heads roll- Spike's head if he fails at bringing him the final pony before midnight. This was the last drop for Scorpan, who allies with the ponies and turns against Tirek.
- Opening Credits Cast Party: In Midnight Castle, the special opens with the ponies partying like its 1899. Then... things get worse.
- Our Centaurs Are Different: Tirek is one.
- Our Dragons Are Different: The dragons of Tirek's army, and the dragons he morphs the ponies into.
- Painful Transformation: Strongly implied in the case of the ponies who are turned into dragons.
- Power Echoes: Tirek's voice, two sentences out of three, has an echo under it. Why? 'Cause he's evil. Or he's mostly in a castle with flat stone walls and probably isn't the type to decorate with tapestries or chandeliers.
- Power Makes Your Hair Grow: Catrina has a wild, waist-length mane. When she reforms, she's back to a short bob.
- Power Source: Catrina's power depends on having a constant supply of Witchweed potion. When she is about to run out of it, she completely snaps, which kickstarts the TV special.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Tirek doesn't hurt Ember... but only because she's too small to pull his chariot.
- Punch Clock Villain: On the second TV special we have Rep, who's a pretty decent guy. He's just (initially) too much of a sap to stand up to the power-crazed Catrina.
- Recycled Premise: The plot of the second special is near identical to the first: Big Bad wants to kidnap ponies to serve their purposes and they have to be stopped. Oh, and Tirek and Catrina both have Anti-Villain employees.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Firefly plays Red Oni to everyone else in the special, but especially Medley and Twilight.
- Reforged into a Minion: The ponies transformed into demon-dragons by the Rainbow of Darkness.
- Secret Underground Passage: Megan and the ponies use one to get into Midnight Castle.
- The panther statues in Catrina's lair in the second special look almost exactly like Ravage on The Transformers.
- When we first see Tirek, his face is never seen, and he is petting his Rainbow of Darkness as though it were a cat. Much like Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
- Spell My Name with an "S":
- Is the villain in the first special named Tirek or Tirac? Not even This Very Wiki can agree on it. IMDb further clouds the argument with the spelling Tirak. The G4 version of him is named "Tirek" according to the credits of the "Twilight's Kingdom" two-parter.
- The later edition (and subsequent 2-part syndication version) of "Escape from Catrina" misspells Catrina's name in the title.
- "Katrina" or "Catrina" is a common debate amongst fans.
- Signature Style: The resemblance of Rescue at Midnight Castle to Dungeons & Dragons can be explained by the fact that it was made by the same production team responsible for the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon.
- Tagalong Kid:
- Averted with Megan. The ponies are tagging along with her.
- Played straight with Ember and Spike, though.
- Team Mom: Medley, at least until Megan comes. Like her, she is always the soft spoken voice of reason in the group.
- Tempting Fate: The last two lines of the Rescue at Midnight Castle intro theme are "No sign of trouble in sight/May all your days be bright". Not thirty seconds later, giant dragons appear and wreck havoc on Dream Valley.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Firefly and Medley, respectively.
- Toyless Toy Line Character:
- Only three of the Sea Ponies were actual toy characters.
- Notably there's a white mare◊ who appears with Twinkles but never had a toy. Common theory is that she's the "First Born"◊ figurine.
- Vile Villain, Saccharine Show:
- Tirek is the trope codifier for truly creepy evil in a land of otherwise cutesy happiness. A dark and shadowy centaur that corrupts ponies into demon dragons.
- Visual Pun: As with the later movie and TV series, Megan can be seen in both specials wearing a "ponytail"; may or may not have been intentional.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Rep, again.
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- In the first special, an unnamed white pony with a multi-color mane, who is accompanied by a cat later given to Peaches, was never named or made into a toy.
- None of the ponies from the first special appear in My Little Pony 'n Friends.
- Winged Unicorn: In Escape from Catrina, a Blooper causes pegasus Baby Surprise to have a horn for a couple of shots during the song "Let's Not Take A Nap".
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Catrina's Witchweed potion gives her immense magical powers at the cost of her morality & sanity.
- Would Hurt a Child: Tirek. The only reason he doesn't turn Ember into a dragon is because she's too small to pull his chariot.
- X Meets Y: Rescue at Midnight Castle could be aptly renamed My Little Pony meets Dungeons & Dragonsnote . Heck, it even had both dungeons and dragons!
- Hair Decorations: Megan's ponytail ribbon, the ponies' tail ribbons in general, and Bowtie's pigtail ribbons