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- This whole thing got started because Lauren Faust was pitching to Hasbro an animated series based on her own dolls, Milky Way and the Galaxy Girls. We almost got an original property and My Little Pony would still be in G3.5, or someone else would have handled the reboot – this DeviantArt gallery includes several pieces of old concept art, some of which is in a different style than G4 ended up using.
- Along with Big Apple, Sweet Apple Acres was going to be called Big Apple Orchard or Big Apple Farm - the idea was that Applejack's brother inherited the farm while she just ran things. It also was originally not supposed to be in Ponyville at all, but in a different town known as Fillydelphia.
- The show was originally going to be named My Little Pony Adventures.
- The show was originally intended to be 1/3 adventure stories, but it quickly became apparent that the extra workload they entailed meant they were difficult to pull off on the very tight production schedule. Lauren said that the main casualty of this was Zecora, with her originally planned mentor role not really needed.
- Similarly, Lauren originally envisioned a lot more diversity in body types for the ponies, but that too would've been more work for the animators.
- Adventures in Ponyville was going to have a Fluttershy game, which can be glimpsed here and read about here.
- According to M.A. Larson, the Ponyville Schoolhouse's school paper was originally called The Horse's Mouth instead of Foal Free Press, and Featherweight was originally called Milquetoast and he was Namby-Pamby's little brother.
- Several characters had name changes for legal reasons. Twilight Sparkle was Twilight Twinkle (a G3 pony), Princess Luna was Princess Selena, Apple Bloom was Appleseed, Big Macintosh was Big Apple, Gilda was Grizelda, and Zecora was Shaman.
- In the original pitch, Apple Bloom was alone in her quest for a Cutie Mark. Lauren was asked to add in some friends to accompany her on her journey Thus, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo and the Crusaders were born. Oddly enough, Lauren Faust always thought they should have their own Spin-Off show for preschoolers (where kids learn how to do stuff while the Crusaders are engaging in new activities looking for their cutie marks).
- In Lauren's original pitch for the show, Pinkie Pie was a Pegasus Pony and Fluttershy was an Earth Pony. The entire cast went through a design change, from G1-style Ponies to G3-style Ponies (though some of them are In-Name-Only).
- Lauren has said she had a sea ponies episode in mind, but it didn't get made under her watch. We almost got shoo-be-doo'd!
- That said, we are apparently getting sea ponies in the Expanded Universe!
- Trixie was originally going to be a boy, until the episode's scriptwriter suggested to Lauren to make the character female. Lauren admitted in an interview that this change was absolutely for the better.
- Lauren originally designed several monsters to be cuter and prettier thinking Hasbro wouldn't let her get away with the monsters being "too scary". Turns out she was wrong and Hasbro didn't think her original designs were scary enough.
- On the other end, the Ursa Major was much uglier and scarier before getting toned down (it's still pretty ugly and scary). Interestingly, in this case, the change was not due to worries that it might be too scary but because it the difference between adult and baby was too drastic and executives were worried that the intended demographic might not recognize the larger monster as being the same species.
- According to Lauren, Rarity had a scene scripted for "Luna Eclipsed" where she goes overboard designing an outfit to soften Princess Luna's demeanor, leading to another humorous misunderstanding, but it apparently got cut for time, so Rarity is ultimately an Absentee Actor (though her voice actress is still present as Granny Smith and Luna).
- There were plans for an episode centered around Big Macintosh. The episode was supposed to have little dialogue coming from the star character. However, it was dropped for a probable number of reasons (namely, that silence can get very boring).
- Princess Cadance was not going to be a Winged Unicorn. Lauren was surprised (not necessarily pleasantly) at this development.
- According to Amy Keating Rogers, Derpy's scene in "The Last Roundup" was originally going to be a little longer, complete with a flashback on how the Town Hall got ruined. She was also named Ditzy-Doo (a character previously mentioned in "Winter Wrap Up" that Lauren Faust considered using Derpy's design for), but was referred to as "Derpy" at the director's request as a Fandom Nod. Considering what happened later, this nod probably was not the best idea (though certainly well-meaning).
- Lauren said at a Bronycon panel that she originally proposed making Rarity the Element of Inspiration, but this was rejected for being too hard for kids to understand.
- Before the show came out, Twist's design was either changed or considered to be changed; either way, there's at least one unused design for Twist.
- While Twilight was always intended to be Celestia's successor, the original bible used neither "alicorn" nor "princess".
- A retroactive example, but Lauren Faust really wished she knew what a Longma was when she was creating Discord, since her vision of him was that of a dragon-horse hybrid.
- Starlight Glimmer was originally going to be named Aurora Glimmer, but Hasbro changed it due to Disney trademarking the name "Aurora".
- Which is odd, considering Hasbro managed to release a G3 character named "Aurora Mist" without any problems, and the bio on Power Pony Zapp's trading card states that her real name is Aurora.
- Svengallop was originally going to be named Pony Baloney, but it was rejected due to sounding corny and making it way too obvious he was a bad guy.
- Prince Blueblood was originally going to be called Duke Blueblood, but it was changed since the executives thought little kids wouldn't know what a duke is.
- Word of God says that "all eps have sort of "placeholder" titles and lots of them change." The episodes with known Working Titles are:
- "Friendship is Magic" may have been "Mare In The Moon". This ended up being used as the alternate title of part 1.
- "Swarm of the Century" was originally called "Pied Piper Pinkie" before a story meeting.
- "Call of the Cutie" originally had the same title, but without the "the." It was changed because the Hub didn't want MLP to reference an M-rated video game series.
- "Suited For Success" was "Dress for Failure". It was changed for sounding too negative.
- "Stare Master" was "Fluster-shy".
- "The Show Stoppers" was "No Talent Show".
- "Owl's Well That Ends Well" was going to be "Hoo Goes There".
- "The Best Night Ever" may have been "The Grand Galloping Gala".
- "The Return of Harmony" may have been "Seeds of Chaos" and possibly "The Return To Harmony".
- "SisterhoovesSocial" was "Sissy Fit".
- "May the Best Pet Win!" was "The Tortoise & the Mare". They changed it because it gave away the species of Dash's eventual pet.
- "Secret of My Excess" was "Attack of the 50 Foot Dragon", and before that it was "Giving Dangerously".
- "Read It and Weep" was apparently "Reading Rainbow". Legal issues with the TV show prevented this, though The Merch did get to use it.
- "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000" was apparently "Cider Horse Rules".
- "One Bad Apple" was "Bully For You"
- "Keep Calm and Flutter On" was "Fluttershy's Home for Reformed Draconequi".
- According to Amy Keating Rogers, "Filli Vanilli" initially started out as "The Return of Flutterguy", but it was changed to "Flutterfear" due to the title being too spoilery. Someone suggested "Filli Vanilli" and she stuck with it.
- "Dragonshy": The original treatment◊ for the episode. Princess Celestia is referred to as "the Queen," and the reason the Mane Six are tasked to make the Dragon move is because the pegasi are powerless to stop the smoke. Pinkie Pie is referred to as "Pinky Pie," and rather than Rainbow Dash make the dragon angry by kicking him, the ponies collectively decide to force him off the mountain. A fight breaks out and culminates in the dragon throwing the ponies except Fluttershy off the mountain (instead of knocking them to the ground with his fire in the final cut), so an angered Fluttershy, rather than tell the dragon off for harming her friends, utilizes the "Stare" to force him to apologize and leave (which would have made "Stare Master" redundant). So what changed? Aside from the names, the removal of the violent scene of the ponies falling off the mountain and the removal of Fluttershy utilizing the Stare on the dragon and saving it for "Stare Master," not a whole lot.
- According to Amy Keating Rogers, Applejack was originally meant to be a fourth culprit in MMMystery on the Friendship Express, who managed to avoid incriminating herself but confesses to the deed in the end anyway.
- "Magic Duel":
- According to Meghan McCarthy, "A certain 'Great and Powerful' character was originally supposed to return in Season 2." While Trixie did cameo in "The Return of Harmony Part 1" (in a shot reused from "Bridle Gossip") and got a mention in "Ponyville Confidential", she didn't make a proper reappearance until this episode, which was originally going to be part of Season 2.
- According to M.A. Larson, the Alicorn Amulet was going to be called the Unicharm.
- "Wonderbolts Academy":
- The pink Palette Swap of Wild Fire was originally going to be Wild Fire herself. She was swapped out due to a then-existing ban on OCs (one of the other animators had put an outsider's OC into an earlier episode without permission). Wild Fire's flaming wheel cutie mark remained on the chalkboard in one scene instead of being updated to the new pony's sunflower cutie mark.
- According to Meghan McCarthy, the script had a different final scene.
- "Spike At Your Service", as originally written, had Spike pledging a life debt to Rarity rather than Applejack. It was changed during preproduction because Rarity came off as too demanding and therefore mean-spirited. Applejack's easygoing personality was considered a kinder foil for Spike so she was used instead. This is the reason Rarity had no spotlight episodes in Season 3.
- In "Applebuck Season", Applejack was supposed to "help" Rarity as well, but it was cut for time.
- Lauren Faust originally planned for some sort of entity to have been responsible for Luna transforming into Nightmare Moon and Discord being released from his statue; however, this arc ended up being cut after Lauren relinquished control of the show.
- Composer Daniel Ingram posted to his SoundCloud profile an early version of "Hop, Skip, and Jump" from "Dragonshy" in response to receiving 3500 likes on his Facebook page.
- Pinkie Pie's "Piggy Dance" song from "Baby Cakes" was originally written for "The Best Night Ever" as a longer song to the tune of the "Chicken Dance", but was cut at the last minute due to time restrictions.
- The "Smile Song" was originally going to sound very different, and include a talk-sing "patter" section with lines by a number of characters (most of whom ended up either only having silent cameos in the episode or not appearing at all): Derpy Doo (then named as such due to Amy Keating Rogers not having been aware of the full name "Derpy Hooves" at the time), Hairy, Shimmy Shake (who was to be Twist's mom), Rarity, Fluttershy, multiple Polo Ponies, and multiple cows.
- Some songs were shortened due to time constraints, although at least two confirmed cases (Love is in Bloom & Find a Way) did get released in full later.
From various interviews we've learn the cast setup could have been just a little different...
- According to Lauren, she initially wanted Tara Strong to voice Pinkie Pie, and Tara wanted to voice her with a Bubbles-esque voice. In "A Hearth's Warming Tail", we even get a little taste of this 'what could have been' when Twilight gets caught singing in a Pinkie-like voice, which does sound a lot like Bubbles as a pony. Strong also auditioned for Applejack.
- Kathleen Barr, the voice of Trixie and Queen Chrysalis, apparently did a "very good" audition for Celestia.
- Ashleigh Ball had auditioned for Spike, and thought she got the role as she got a phone call back for it.