Western Animation / My Little Pony Tales
Released for TV in the early nineties
, My Little Pony Tales
is the second TV series based on the toyline, My Little Pony
, by Hasbro. Unlike the previous incarnation like My Little Pony 'n' Friends
, which was a fantasy/adventure series, this was decided to give the ponies a slice of life
angle, and removed most of the fantasy elements. As the result, the only breed of pony in this series are Earth Ponies. Your mileage will vary on whether this was a good thing or not. The show was set in an unnamed suburb, somewhere in Ponyland.
The show centered on seven pony girls named Starlight, Sweetheart, Melody, Bright Eyes, Patch, Clover, and Bon Bon. However, the show is notable for averting the Lady Land
rule that My Little Pony
normally prescribes to by introducing three male main ponies: Ace, Teddy, and Lancer. The show focused on their daily lives and how they dealt with things like stage fright, dating, personal responsibility, the environment, pets, cultural differences, school, trust, bullies, and other things normal kids deal with. This was the first of three attempts to make a Slice of Life
style My Little Pony
show. The producers did this to try to reach their core demographic, girls, who watched the original series but would be old enough by then to worry about any of the above issues the show tackled. Depending on who you ask, it may or may not have been a good idea.
The series was met with mixed responses from its viewers and only lasted a single season
of 26 fifteen-minute shorts as the result. Some see that as a good thing. Others think it was too good to last
. Much like its predecessor, My Little Pony 'n Friends
, the series was comprised of quarter hour shorts
, but unlike before, shared its running time with no other properties. The series ran for twenty-six episodes told over the course of thirteen airings in 1992.
My Little Pony Tales contains examples of:
- Ad Bumpers: The show had its own custom ad bumpers and retained them for its 2015 U.S. DVD release, and possibly those in other markets as well.
- Adult Fear:
- In "Battle of the Bands", Melody is unable to find a babysitter so she brings her little sisters Ting-a-Ling and Jing-a-Ling to the contest. She is forced to chase after them when they go missing.
- Bon Bon running away to the woods in "The Masquerade" when she thinks everyone at the party is laughing at her. Her parents worry about her getting lost but after they find her, she nearly falls off a cliff.
- Aerith and Bob: The girl ponies usually had outright fantastical names, like Starlight and Bright Eyes, while the boys tended to have more normal names like Ace and Teddy. This even happened with supporting and one-off characters - one episode has a pony mention offhand that "Justin finally proposed to Moonglow."
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Sweetheart and Teddy (although in Teddy's case it's more like Jerkass Façade). And later, Starlight and Ace.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Starlight has a crush on Ace, who's far more interested in Melody, who's more interested in herself. Averted with Sweetheart/Teddy and Bright Eyes/Lancer, however.
- Alternate Continuity: Separate from the first cartoon; lacking most of the supernatural elements with few exceptions (such as the ghost pony and the UFO that turns out to be unicorns.) and focusing on a completely different cast of characters. No humans, either.
- An Aesop: One per episode, many of them pertaining to friendship, not unlike a later incarnation of the franchise. So, Not So Different? Also, a good chunk of them dealt with real life...ish, subjects that many kids deal with.
- Anthropomorphic Shift:
- The most well-known in the series. Characters are periodically changing from moving like horses, to the semi-horselike behavior standard to the franchise, to being barely below Funny Animals.
- In "Birds of a Feather", Bon Bon runs out of food and complains that they'll starve to death. In a forest full of grass. Their solution? To go fishing. In "Sweetheart's Birthday Party," they sit around eating carrots and speak of being happy when they'll be able to eat real food again.
- Apocalyptic Log: Invoked by Bon Bon in "Birds of a Feather", when ponies get lost in the woods and she tearfully decides to write a "farewell entry" in her diary, in case anyone ever finds it.
- Appease the Volcano God: In "Ponies in Paradise," when Bright Eyes visits a tropical island with an active volcano for an exchange program, her friends imagine this being done to her. Later, she imagines it herself when the other ponies speak of a former exchange student who is "not there anymore."
- Argument of Contradictions: Melody starts one of these in "The Play's the Thing" when she insists that nobody else can sport her new hairstyle because she has to stand out as the star of the play.
- Artistic License – Geography: Ponyville has a tropical island called "Tropical Island" that somehow qualifies as "foreign" despite being close enough to be seen from a hot air balloon over Ponyville. Long shots of the planet show it's identical to Earth, placing Ponyville in the suburban United States, meaning Tropical Island isn't actually in the tropics. They don't even have the benefit of saying it's magic, as there isn't anything even remotely supernatural in this generation (with one or perhaps two exceptions — see How Unscientific! and Real After All below).
- Be a Whore to Get Your Man: Subverted in "Roll Around The Clocks": Melody leads the other girls in giving Bright Eyes an Unnecessary Makeover while Lancer is given a similar overhaul by the boys. Both makeovers wind up backfiring, as they reject each other's new looks and attitudes. It's only when they start dressing and acting normally again that they quietly get together, much to Melody and Ace's confusion.
- Big Ball of Violence: In "Shop Talk", Teddy gets into one with Ace and Lancer when the two tease him about his teddy bear.
- Big Eater: Bon Bon is seen eating many sweets. She even eats a cookie right after waking up in the intro. At one point, the gang had packed a week's worth of food and turned to find Bon Bon had just eaten all of it.
- Bilingual Bonus: The name of Meadowlark's fiancee Cheval; it's actually a French word for horse.
- Done to Ace and Lancer in "Shop Talk" when the girls lure them into doing something embarrassing to entertain some baby ponies they're babysitting, then take pictures and threaten to expose them unless they stop teasing Teddy.
- Teddy also threatens to show Ms. Hackney the entry in "Bon Bon's Diary" that says she cheated in a test unless she goes to the school dance with him. And he was stopped by Sweetheart threatening to reveal his Unmanly Secret. These ponies will fight fire with fire!
- Cat Scare: Seen in "Slumber Party" when the girls investigate a noise in the attic.
- Changeling Fantasy: "Princess Problems" turns it on its head, as Patch is horrified at the thought she might be a princess and have to leave her friends and adoptive family behind. Played straight when she realizes fellow orphan Rosy is the real lost princess.
- Circling Birdies: Clover gets the spinning stars and planets with the sound of chirping birdies variant in "The Play's the Thing" while being spun around in a barber's chair.
- Clingy MacGuffin: The unlucky white teapot in "Out of Luck". Clover just can't seem to get rid of it, no matter what she does...
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Patch has traits of this trope, being shown as a very eccentric and ungirly girl rather than strictly a stereotypical tomboy. She acknowledges her own weirdness, but couldn't care less about what others think of her behavior.
- Covers Always Lie:
- The DVD releases of the show in Australia has cover art of "G2" ponies.
- As an even more extreme example, a German DVD also used "G2" cover art, but with the "G3" logo.
- And Shout! Factory's complete boxset uses the G3 logo too.
- Dark Reprise: "The Perfect Pair" has one in "Just For Kicks" when Starlight decides that she and Ace just might not be the perfect pair.
- Edutainment Show: It was one of the first slice of life type show to enter the market back when the market lacked shows of said genre.
- Expy: Most noticeable with the similarities between Shady from the previous TV show, MLP and Friends, and Clover here, with both being generally lacking in confidence AND being somewhat clumsy (Clover obviously more so than Shady).
- Face Your Fears:
- The first episode had the girls facing their fears of sudden noises in the attic after hearing a ghost story.
- In "Blue Ribbon Blues", Teddy overcomes his fear of water to save his cousin Corny.
- Fantastic Racism: The main cast (who are kids and likely wouldn't know better) believe that tropical ponies practice cannibalism and make pony sacrifices to the volcano.
- Feather Fingers: My gosh, the confusion here rivals Cars. How the heck are animals with hooves supposed to use guitars and ice-cream scoops anyway? (Answer: they just do, no questions asked and no explanations given)
- Five-Man Band
- Foreshadowing: A very subtle one. In "The Lemonade Wars", the camera focuses on Lancer throwing away a paper cup and missing the garbage can after Ace and Teddy both hit it. This doesn't come up in the episode and seems just to show Lancer isn't like his friends. In "Blue Ribbon Blues," Teddy ends up accidentally losing an entire picnic basket and its contents into the water which gets washed away and no one ever retrieves them. This seems just to be the inciting incident for the episode, but the Season Finale focuses on the fact the townsponies being careless with their trash and throwing it away recklessly clogs up the river and floods the town, with several ponies doing that exact thing during the episode. They'd been doing it multiple times throughout the season.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: During the Fantasy Sequence in "And the Winner is...", we see Clover switching channels on a big TV. Among the many briefly visible pictures, some of them just small miniatures on 4x4 or 8x8 grids, are the Santa Maria ship, Muppet Babies, a dog carrying a mallet, a duck, a rocker pony, a highway junction, a Shinkansen train, and even a pair of human laced boots.
- Funny Animal: Pretty much. The characters may look like My Little Pony ponies, but their behaviors and concerns are human. You know you're dealing with a Slice of Life show about human-like characters when the kids stand around discussing their problems with their parents as they wash the dinner dishes.
- Furry Confusion: Like Woah. See Feather Fingers.
- The most outstanding example had to be royal carriage being pulled by horses. In a world of sentient ponies. Of course one could assume that in this world draft horses are to ponies what chimpanzees are to humans, but still...
- Garage Band: Rockin' Beats.
- Genre Shift: From fantasy to slice of life. Fans tuned in hoping to see ponies and Megan fighting evil. They got something along the lines of Arthur (or if you want to be period-accurate, Doug) instead. That said, some episodes do shift BACK to fantasy elements. Normally when Patch is involved.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- The animators seemed to be rather fond of Bon Bon's rear. She also got bedroom eyes and even breasts on a few episodes.
- One Imagine Spot featured Bon Bon as a cover girl for a magazine. She's wearing a onepiece bathing suit that resalts her breasts and next to her, two young mares (dressed as nurses) are hugging while they stare deep into each other's eyes. Wow. Considering the scene is about modeling I'm guessing Bon Bon understand what 'adult' models do.
- The episode "Birds of a Feather" had Ace and Bright Eyes massaging her rear end and flanks. Granted, they were just rubbing mud onto her nettle-stings, but still.
- Gossipy Hens: Melody and Starlight in "Shop Talk", kicking off that episode's plot when Sweetheart won't participate. Also relevant with Mrs. Barrington/Berrytown in that same episode, where she gossips to Starlight's mother while Starlight's mother is giving her a hair/mane treatment, inspiring the seven main girls/ponies to gossip as well.
- Got Volunteered: "Stand by Me" seems to have variant 4 in the classroom trial when a defending attorney is needed for Teddy and everyone except Sweetheart steps backwards. Subverted when she then steps forward and says she'd be happy to do it.
- Green Aesop: "Who's Responsible", and to a lesser extend "Birds of a Feather". "Gribet" could count too, since Sweetheart learns that a frog needs to be in its natural habitat.
- Happily Adopted: Patch, and in "Princess Problems" she's not happy about the idea of having to leave her adoptive family.
- Help, I'm Stuck!:
- Happens twice to Teddy in "Stand by Me".
- Also in "Blue Ribbon Blues", Teddy saves his cousin when he becomes trapped in a river.
- "Home Alone" Antics: In "The Tea Party", the girls booby trap the abandoned house they've been using as a clubhouse when they discover some ponies stealing their furniture. It turns out the "thieves" are just a family who have been fixing up the place before they move in. The girls, feeling bad about what they have done, decide to make up for it by helping them out.
- How Unscientific!: The episode "Up, Up, and Away" features a UFO, which turns out to actually be unicorns and an alicorn hidden by the light shining from their travel.
- Human-Focused Adaptation: Rare example of an inversion — this and all series that followed were completely human-free. However, in a way, this does fit it - the focus is on humanlike characters in an Earthlike world.
- Insane Troll Logic: Patch exhibits this in "Who's Responsible?"
Patch: Anyone who makes schoolbooks can't be completely on the up-and-up.
Sweetheart: What?! But I like school.
Patch: See? They've even got you brainwashed.
- Invisible Anatomy: The Ponies can hold objects, grip on things, press buttons, play musical instruments, hold small pencils and operate precision machines, using just their hooves.
- Jerkass: Everyone took turns to be this against each other, but Melody, Patch, Ace and Teddy were the biggest offenders of all.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Again, everyone: they always learn their lessons in the end and usually didn't have malicious intent in the beginning. Teddy was really intended to be this type of character, but in practice, we've only got Sweetheart's word to suggest that Teddy is a saint with a Jerkass Façade, as most episodes that heavily feature him basically make him the villain of the story, and he learns his lesson at the end just in time to get Aesop Amnesia by the next time. Ace, the designated jerk character, on the other hand, fits better as he has more than one Pet the Dog moment that wasn't forced on him.
- The Kiddie Ride: This Youtube video's description says it all. For those unable to see the video: The rides were made in the early 90s and were modeled after My Little Pony Tales characters. They were licensed, but frequently mismatched the color of the ponies with their symbols.
- Lady Land: Much much much less so than most series in the franchise. The core cast and most of the other characters who do most of the talking are female, but in addition to Ace, Teddy, and Lancer as oft-seen recurring classmates of the gang, we have two-parent families, and in one episode a king and a queen.
- Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone: Used at the end of the episode "Just for Kicks"
- Locked in a Room: Lancer engineers this to force his quarreling friends to reconcile in "Happy Birthday Sweetheart". His version involves stranding the lot of them on his father's private yacht.
- Lost Aesop: In "Just for Kicks", Starlight joins the soccer team hoping to impress her crush Ace (as suggested by their teacher), but he keeps humiliating her out of jealousy towards her natural skill. She goes on to score the winning goal, Ace storms off in a huff, and her friends are thrilled for her. So it's an episode about trying new things, right? Well, no...Starlight laments that she only joined the team in the first place to get Ace's attention. Oh, so surely the moral must be "stay true to yourself and don't try to fit another person's ideal." Maybe, if Ace didn't show up in the episode's final minute to ask Starlight out. It's not so much a broken aesop as a very muddled one.
- Lost Orphaned Royalty: The plot of "Princess Problem" revolves around the King and Queen of the Isle of Pony coming to Ponyland as part of their long search for their lost daughter. Naturally, Patch matches all the descriptions. She's ultimately not happy about it at all, as she's Happily Adopted and is scared of the prospect of losing her adopted parents. It turns out she wasn't the lost princess, her old friend from the same orphanage Rosy is, and is reunited with her long lost parents.
- Nice Mean And In Between: The three boy ponies; Lancer, Ace, and Teddy respectively.
- No Antagonist: This was one of the things that drew the slice of life fans to the show. The only "villains" on the show are the jock type ponies, if they're even considered villains to begin with.
- Off Model:
- Boy, the animators cut a lot of corners when making this series (This is AKOM we're talking about after all). For example, when the ponies are facing to the camera, they become something hideous.
- Bon Bon's weight shifted among episodes as if the animators couldn't decide if she was pudgy, fat or a complete porker.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: "Up, Up, and Away." We go from plots like "Bon Bon hides her bad grade" or "the girls and the boys run competing lemonade stands" to "There's a UFO... oh, wait, it's just three pegasi and an alicorn flying around the world in the form of a blinding light nobody can see through unless they want to reveal themselves." It's even kicked off by Patch wanting to do something adventurous and picking something significantly more dangerous than what your average kid could stumble into doing. It bears more than a passing resemblance to some of the future adaptations.
- Paranormal Episode: The episode "Up, Up, and Away", notable for being the only episode featuring unicorn ponies - who were otherwise absent from the show as this iteration had removed most fantastic elements.
- The Prankster: Patch and Teddy. Both have taken it too far, to the point where Patch sabotaged Bright Eyes' class project and caused its failure while Teddy got the girls disqualified from a swim meet.
- Product Placement: There is one episode where two ponies are revealed to be drinking Coca Cola, as they clearly state that they are "Cokes".
- Psycho Strings: These are used in "Out of Luck" when Clover returns home and spots the teapot she believes is making her unlucky. They resurface later when the teapot is returned to the house again.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: In "Send in the Clown", they put on The Nutcracker. The actual Tchaikovsky ballet.
- Real After All: Patch's ghost story in "Slumber Party" it would seem, as the ghost of the story character Squire appeared to thank Patch for telling the story.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Rather unusually for a show of the time (and in fact many programs), every adult features in the show is this. The girl's parents are Good Parents, the mayor of the town declares the area the girls discover the endangered Green Winged Songbirds in protected, Mrs. Hackney is stern but very fair to the point of allowing Bon Bon to retake a test she cheated on when she confesses on her own with genuine remorse, Logan's parents take being ambushed in their own home are completely understanding once their reasons are explained, and while initially mad, the King of the Isle of Pony hears the girls out when they present Rosy to him and give her the same test as everypony else to see if she's their daughter after Patch threw mud at him to get his attention. Even the police officer in "Up, Up, and Away" who blocks the girls from going up to see the UFO only does so because the area is potentially dangerous for completely different reasons (reasons that nearly got Bon Bon killed earlier in the series).
- Remember the New Guy:
- Clover's sister Meadowlark appears in "Sister if the Bride", and then subsequently reappears only two episodes later, also as a major character in the episode. Also notable for Cheval, Meadowlark's husband, whom she married in "Sister of the Bride", and he also returns two episodes later, but only has one line of dialogue (albeit a rather sweet one.)
- This trope is also present with the Barrington/Berrytown family to a lesser extent than Meadowlark and Cheval. After being introduced in "The Tea Party", Mrs. Barrington/Berrytown reappears briefly at the beginning of "Shop Talk" but none of the other members of the family appear, and then she promptly disappears, along with her family, for the rest of the show's run.
- Schizo Tech: Ponies have desktop computers and... steam trains. Also, the cars on the streets range from pre-war vans to modern convertibles.
- Schoolgirl Series: Despite the limited appearance of guys, the series essentially fits the definition.
- Short Runner: The show only got one season of 26 episodes. The Two Shorts format means it's actually thirteen.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Bright Eyes and Lancer
- Slice of Life: The basic style of the show. Heck, the fact that the show's opening sequence depicts the characters getting out of bed, brushing their teeth, taking a shower and going to school tells you something about this straight off.
- Stock Animal Name: The frog in "Gribet" is named "Spot." Normally, of course a stock name for a dog, but still a stock name nevertheless.
- "Super Sentai" Stance: Performed by the ponies at the end of the opening (with waving included to make it more friendly).
- Surprise Party: Sweetheart is presented with one at the end of "Happy Birthday Sweetheart."
- Take a Third Option:
- "Happy Birthday Sweetheart" sees the other girls telling Sweetheart she has to choose between them or Teddy: either uninvite him from her upcoming party, or none of them will come. Sweetheart responds by tearfully canceling the party.
- When Clover wins two concert tickets in "And the Winner is...", instead of picking one of her friends to go with her, she decides to hold another lotto with both tickets up for grabs. Melody and Clover win, but wind up pawning them off for pizza money and watching the concert on TV with the rest of the girls.
- The Tape Knew You Would Say That: In "An Apple for Starlight," Ms. Hackney has to leave class because she isn't feeling well, but puts Starlight in charge and leaves behind a tape player and a tape with everyone's lessons on it. It's soon proved that she's somewhat skilled in this, though it's still not enough to keep the kids from acting up because she's gone.
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: The only way to tell a background pony's gender is by its single clothing accessory or by the length of its mane. And sometimes, not even then. Teddy's farming cousins with the pink coats and long, curly rainbow-colored manes? Half of them are men. And the father looks identical to the mother, but that's a different trope entirely....
- That Reminds Me of a Song: Once an Episode! Or twice, if consider the Two Shorts format, for a total of 26 songs, or 27 if you count the theme song. 28 if you consider the fact that "The Perfect Pair" in "Just For Kicks" has a Dark Reprise.
- Theme Tune Roll Call: Well, for the core female ponies anyway.
''Starlight, Sweetheart, Melody, Bright-Eyes, Patch and Clover/Bon Bon's baking cookies, girls, hurry up on over!
- Title Theme Tune: "My Little Pony, My Little Pony, My Little Pony Tales! My Little Pony, My Little Pony, My Little Pony Tales!"
- Through His Stomach: Referenced by Bon Bon's line in the song "Play It Cool":
Bon Bon: Want to catch a boy's eye? / Bake a chocolate cream pie!
- Twice Shy: Bright Eyes and Lancer, until their Relationship Upgrade in "Roll Around the Clocks".
- Unmanly Secret: Teddy didn't want anyone to know he has a teddy bear.
- Vinyl Shatters: Averted in the episode "Roll Around the Clocks"; when Bright Eyes falls while carrying a huge stack of records at the roller rink, they stay in one piece, and are still perfectly usable.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Lancer calls out Teddy and the rest of Sweetheart's friends when their feuding leads to her miserably cancelling her own birthday party.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Teddy in one episode is revealed to be afraid of water.
- Winged Unicorn: "Up, Up and Away" features the four Glow 'n Show Ponies with wings, despite only Starglow being a pegasus in the toy line. Dazzleglow, a unicorn in the toy line, has both wings and a horn here.
- With Us or Against Us: Sweetheart found herself torn between Teddy and her friends several times, with the girls demanding she choose them over him or lose their friendship. (Teddy didn't make it easy with the "Jerk" part of being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Sweetheart was usually the only one who ever saw any solid evidence of that heart of gold.)
- You Mean X Mas: Averted. The series never had a holiday episode but Ponyland seems to celebrate Christmas. The holiday was mentioned briefly on two episodes.