This is the Analysis page for the Friendship Is Magic series — and its accompanying toyline — in general, and deals primarily in canon (or near-canon) information. If you would like to get deep into the recesses of fanon thought on the background ponies listed below, go here.
Pony RacesThere are three distinct races of ponies in Equestria, as opposed to a common misconception that Pegasi and Unicorns are special variants from the basic pony. The episode "Hearth's Warming Eve" as well as the iOS app Twilight Sparkle: Teacher for a Day and its Ruckus Reader version Twilight Sparkle's Special Lesson explain how the three races came together to form the land (the episode tells less of the story but in more detail, while the app tells more of the story but in less detail). The exceptions to this are the rare Alicorns, who possess traits of multiple races (see their entry for details). Genetics do appear to play a role in determining species: in "Baby Cakes", Mr. and Mrs. Cake (Earth ponies) have a set of Pegasus and unicorn twins, which Mr. Cake ascribes to these being from their long-distance relatives.flight of pegasi, they nonetheless have their advantages. They tend to have greater endurance than other ponies and have a special connection to the earth, resulting in many of them, such as Applejack, becoming farmers. Also, the majority appear to have a superior sense of balance, poising objects with ease on their heads, backs or even noses. Earth ponies are the founders of the show's main setting, the town of Ponyville. Word of God states that earth ponies do have a passive magic that ties them to the earth and to caring for it, as demonstrated during "Fall Weather Friends" where the race held by earth ponies each year is required to transition the trees into the new season. The pageant in "Hearth's Warming Eve" shows that the Earth ponies were originally responsible for growing food for all three races, further proof of their botanical magic.
Unicorn PoniesThe race of our main heroine, Twilight Sparkle, and the founders of the capital city of Canterlot. All unicorns have telekinesis, which makes them great multi-taskers and gives them an advantage in handling things that would normally require hands. Most unicorns learn additional magic in association with their special talents. For example, Rarity has a magic spell that helps her locate gems. "Hearth's Warming Eve" suggests that prior to the point where Princesses Celestia and Luna took control of the rising of the sun and moon, this duty fell to the unicorns. This implication is also present in the very first episode, where the introduction states that Princess Celestia specifically uses her unicorn powers to raise the sun. In their infancy, unicorns sometimes have random bursts of magic and while using magic, the unicorn's horn glows and so does the thing they're manipulating. Each unicorn seems to have their own colour of magic glow.
Pegasus PoniesMost pegasi hail from the majestic city of Cloudsdale, a Floating Continent made of clouds and rainbows. Pegasi possess passive magic that allows them to walk on clouds and manipulate the weather, which is very important, because ponies are actually responsible for the environment in this setting. "Hearth's Warming Eve" shows that they were once a race of proud warriors, and to this day enjoy athletic prowess as shown by the Wonderbolts aerobatics team and Young Flyer's competition. In "Baby Cakes", Rainbow Dash implies that Pegasi are not born with the ability to fly, however, the episode reveals that they can gain the ability as early as one month old. As revealed in "Flight to the Finish", most Pegasi are able to fly by the time they're the Cutie Mark Crusaders' age (i.e. significantly older than five, but not teens), and that a Pegasus who is unable to fly at that age may never fly, but at the same time, there is an equal chance that they will be able to.
Alicorn PoniesThe rarest and most mysterious of the pony races. The Tie-In Novel Twilight Sparkle and the Crystal Heart Spell establishes that an Alicorn is "a special breed of pony" "able to harness the magical powers of the Unicorns, the flight abilities of the Pegasi, and the strength of a good, true heart of an Earth Pony." Trading cards previously listed them as being Pegasi and unicorns but not Earth ponies, and have since listed them as being all three. Only five Alicorns have appeared in the flesh so far in the shownote , Princesses Celestia, Luna, Cadance, Twilight Sparkle, and Flurry Heart; an unnamed princess appears in a book in "Hearts and Hooves Day". Besides these few canonical Alicorns, several others have appeared outside of the show: Princess Skyla who has been released in the So Soft Newborn toyline, Celestia's four-year-old cousin Léon who appears in an illustrated French magazine story (but not in any North American canon), some characters created using Virtual Paper Doll Web Games, and some characters from The Merch. Celestia & Luna are extremely powerful, able to raise the sun and moon daily, though it seems that this level of magical power is exclusive to just the two of them. Cadance, as of the end of the second season, has not displayed above average abilities for any of the three standard pony tribes, though her special spell can be extremely useful in the right circumstances. Twilight Sparkle becomes one in the Season 3 finale by writing new magic. And in the season 4 finale "Twilight's Kingdom", we receive a new benchmark for alicorn power levels when we see that the combined magic of four alicorns is a dead stalemate for the combined magic of every other pony in Equestria plus Discord's. (Also that the fight scene between Twilight wielding Celestia's, Luna's, and Cadance's powers in addition to her own vs. the supercharged Big Bad was straight out of Dragon Ball Z, to the point where Twilight literally got punched through a mountain sideways and it didn't even muss up her mane, and the post-fight landscape looked like a nuclear test site.) The short "Ail-icorn" reveals that seasonal allergies have adverse effects on Alicorns (besides the usual nose and eye irritation), namely they leave the Alicorn bedridden and render their magic unstable, rather like that of an infant unicorn. Flurry Heart is canonically the first natural-born Alicorn, so it is unknown how Celestia, Luna, and Cadence became Alicorns. Flurry Heart also reveals that, much like infant unicorns, infant Alicorns can't control their magic, although spells exist to counter this, and that unlike Pegasi, Alicorns can fly from birth.
For a long time there was some debate on what to call Winged Unicorns, but "Magical Mystery Cure" has Rarity refer to one as an Alicorn.
- Ponyville: The show's primary setting, where the mane six currently reside. The town was founded by Earth ponies many years prior to the beginning of the series, but is now inhabited by all three major pony races. Earth ponies still appear to be the majority, however, and an Earth pony is the highest civil authority.
- Canterlot: The current capital of Equestria. A city and palace complex built into the side of a tall mountain and mostly inhabited by Unicorns, as well as those with aristocratic bearing or connections. It is therefore a city of high wealth, high society, and sophistication. This is where the Princesses live, and also happens to be Twilight and Spike's hometown.
- Cloudsdale: A large, floating, Greco-Roman-themed city made out of clouds that only Pegasus (and Alicorn) ponies have access to, since only they can stand on clouds without falling right through them. Other ponies can visit the city either through flying machines (such as hot air balloons) or magic.
- Apple-loosa: A western-themed town that was founded a year before the Mane Six first visited it. Buffaloes were the native inhabitants of the place before the ponies (almost entirely Earth ponies) built a settlement in their land, which has caused a conflict between the two species. The conflict ended in "Over a Barrel" with an agreement that the ponies would allow the buffaloes a path through the apple orchard and give them apple pie when they passed through.
- Manehattan: Seen first in flashback but referenced throughout the show by several characters (including one secondary character who normally lives there). This large city in "the East" is Equestria's Big Applesauce, and seems to be second only to Canterlot itself in sophistication. It is unknown which of the three races, if any, holds power there.
- Other regions seen or mentioned in the show and/or out-of-show medianote include Applewood, Badlands, Baltimare, Dodge Junction, Fillydelphia, Foal Mountain, Foaledo, the Frozen North, Galloping Gorge, Hayseed Swamps, Hollow Shades, Hoofington, Horseshoe Bay, Los Pegasus, Macintosh Hills, Manechester, Mustangia, Neighagra Falls, Rambling Rock Ridge, the Ruins, Saddle Arabia, Saddle Lake, San Flanksisco, San Franciscolt, San Palomino Desert, Seaddle, Smokey Mountain, Tall Tale, Trottingham, Unicorn Range, Vanhoover, Whinnyapolis, and the White-Tail Woods.
- Somnambula: A small town named after a pony in ancient times who crossed a lake of acid while blindfolded.
Everfree ForestA large ancient woodland just outside of Ponyville where Nature acts on its own without the ponies' control. Nopony is known to live there, although one herbalist Zebranote resides in a hut just inside the forest perimeter near Ponyville. Several dangerous flora and fauna are found there: dragons, hydras, a cockatrice, and the poison joke flowers.
- The Ruins: In the middle of the forest sits the ruins of the Castle of the Royal Pony Sistersnote , abandoned for a thousand years, which the mane six visit in the climax of the pilot episode.
- Froggy Bottom Bog: A swampy area just inside the forest's perimeter (also could be called an extension of the forest), west of Ponyville. A four-headed hydra lives there.
TartarusNot yet shown but mentioned in "It's About Time", Tartarus is a place where many evil creatures are imprisoned and guarded by Cerberus. For those not familiar with Greek Mythology, Tartarus is essentially the Greek version of Hell.
Crystal EmpireSee here. A former kingdom in the far north of Equestria, the Crystal Empire is inhabited by Crystal Ponies who, though no different physically from Earth ponies (except for their eye-shines), nonetheless possess fur and manes with a distinctly crystalline sheen befitting their Crystal Spires-esque home. The land itself is largely barren save for the large crystals that grow out of the ground. The episodes in which it appeared marked the first time anypony had seen it in a millennium, due to its apparently being inadvertently knocked out of time during Celestia & Luna's defeat of tyrannical usurper King Sombra. Princess Cadance has a connection to the area.note
Barley FieldPart of a land outside Equestria that lies beyond the Everfree Forest, shown in one of the German magazine comics (Scanslated as No Way Too Far). Here, Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, and Spike meet a stallion who invites them to be his guests for the evening, though it isn't shown where exactly they spend the night with him. Has not appeared in-show or in any North American canon.
The Dragon LandsA rocky area outside Equestria with many dangerous features, including a volcano and a cave with moving stalactites. As the name suggests, this area is populated mostly by dragons. It features very little technology and most inhabitants don't even have furniture.
CurrencyWhen a character mentions "bits" within the storyline, they are probably referring to the standard In-Universe form of legal tender.
Festivals, Traditions & Celebrations
- Hearth's Warming: This celebration is celebrated in midwinter and has some similarities to Christmas, including decorating buildings with fairy lights, and decorating pine trees. The day proceeding it is called Hearth's Warming Eve which is generally celebrated with a pageant about Equestria's founding. On the day of Hearth's Warming, the Flag of Equestria is flown and presents are exchanged.
- Origin: Before Celestia and Luna ruled the land, earth ponies, unicorns and pegasi hated each other and cared only about the welfare of their own pony subspecies. Earth ponies provided the food, pegasi changed the weather, and unicorns raised the sun and the moon but one day there was a mysterious blizzard. As the blizzard progressed, it hindered the earth ponies' ability to farm and the pegasi and unicorns couldn't get rid of the blizzard, which fueled more conflict between the three tribes. The tribes' leaders (Chancellor Puddinghead and Smart Cookie of the earth ponies, Commander Hurricane and Private Pansy of the pegasi, and Princess Platinum and Clover the Clever of the unicorns) set separately out to find new land. When the three pairs coincidentally found the same piece of land and deemed it suitable, they began arguing over who was in charge of the land, which started a new blizzard, which was revealed to be caused by Windigoes, who are winter spirits that feed off of resentment. Using the Fire of Friendship, the ponies managed to become friends and thus defeat the Windigoes, and then they shared the land, naming it Equestria, and the Equestrians have celebrated Hearth's Warming on that date ever since.
- Nightmare Night: Nightmare Night is celebrated at nighttime on the anniversary of Nightmare Moon's banishment and bears a resemblance to Halloween. On Nightmare Night, ponies (and Spike) dress up in costumes and gather candy from the neighbours. They then eat half of their candy and give half as an offering to Nightmare Moon so she doesn't eat the ponies. (This aspect came from a rumour that Nightmare Moon ate ponies. The costumes also stemmed from the belief that they were disguising themselves as non-ponies so that Nightmare Moon wouldn't eat them. However, the ponies have long since stopped making an effort to not look like ponies when dressing up, as evidenced when Twilight dressed as Star Swirl the Bearded). During Nightmare Night, other festivities take place, such as throwing fake spiders at a fake web, apple bobbing, mazes, telling ghost stories, and generally seeking to be pleasantly scared.
- Hearts and Hooves Day: This celebration originated from a pegasus making a love potion for an alicorn princess which gave them a side effect known as "love poisoning" that meant they were obsessively infatuated and couldn't stop looking at each other. When they did, the poisoning wore off and they got together for real. This celebration is similar to Valentine's Day and is generally celebrated by ponies exchanging heart-decorated cards and ponies who have fillyfriends, coltfriends or spouses (also known as "special someponies") participating in romance with them.
- Summer Sun Celebration: Celebrated in midsummer and is mainly a Ponyville tradition. Ponies stay up all night and participate in social festivities (nothing particularly out-of-the-ordinary or any specific traditions in said social festivities, just general "partying") and at the crack of dawn, they gather in the town hall to watch Celestia raise the sun.
- Grand Galloping Gala: A formal party reserved for individuals with tickets provided by Celestia celebrated in the castle. Ponies dress up in fancy clothing and participate in dancing and snacking from a buffet. It has a rather serious vibe to it, and acting goofy is generally frowned upon (as evidenced when Octavia says, "This is not that kind of party").
- The Running of the Leaves: This is celebrated in fall and involves ponies helping the leaves fall off the trees by running. It also doubles as a race and the winner gets a medal.
- Winter Wrap-Up: This is a Ponyville tradition and is done on the last day of winter. Earth ponies plant seeds, pegasi clear the clouds in order to melt the snow and fetch home the migrating birds, and ponies of all races wake up hibernating animals, clean the animals' dens, build birds' nests, plough away snow, and cut the ice. Using magic is traditionally not allowed.
- Cute-Cenearas: This is a celebration celebrated in a way similar to how a child's birthday would be celebrated (minus the cake). It is celebrated on the day a pony gets their cutie mark.
- Crystallings: When a baby is born into the Crystal Empire, the baby gets magic-ed into a crystal pony along with their parents for a moment in front of the Crystal Heart by way of full initiation into the empire. The pony who does the magic-ing is called a Chrystaller.
- The Equestria Games: These are the pony equivalent to the Olympics, where ponies participate in their own thought-up athletics and get awarded prizes for the best. Judged by Ms Harshwhinny.
- Sisterhooves Social: This is when two ponies who are sisters or cousins participate in various activities such as singing, balancing eggs, making grape juice and racing in the mud in a race with other sets of sisters/cousins.
- Best Young Flyer Competition: This is an aerobatics competition among young adult pegasi that takes place in Cloudsdale.
- Family Traditions: Several individual families in the show have their own traditions that are not part of mainstream pony society. Applejack and her family (who are often referred to collectively as "The Apple Family" or "The Apples") are generally farmers with a lot of knowledge about apples that they pass onto each other. They have family reunions once every two years and are the ones who call harvesting season "Apple Buck Season". Additionally, members of the Apple family are often quite proud of being a part of their family and will sometimes state that they are to prove their point. They also tend to have names related to apples (Granny Smith, Applejack, Apple Bloom etc). Pinkie Pie's family (who are referred to collectively as "The Pie Family" or "The Pies") seem to tend to eat rocks (although it is unclear whether that's just Pinkie and her parents and sisters or if it extends to other relatives of the Pies). Pinkie Pie's parents and sisters seem to have a tradition of not expressing emotion, however, Pinkie Pie doesn't follow that tradition and neither does her grandmother (who's said to have a sense of humour in "Giggle at the Ghosties".) The Pies also worship a boulder called "Holder's Boulder" that is said to bring them good luck and was discovered in a dragon's nest by an ancestor of the Pies called Holder Cobblestone (hence the name). A few of the pies have rock-related names (Igneous, Limestone, Holder Cobblestone, Marble, Cloudy Quartz, etc), however, this is sometimes averted (Pinkamena, Maud, Nana Pinkie etc). The Pear family seem to be similar to the Apple family, but their traditions stem around pears, rather than apples.
- Cider Season: This would be listed under Family Traditions but is listed separately since almost all of Ponyville's population is involved. It is when every year, the Apple Family make cider out of their apples and sell it to Ponyville's population for an unknown number of days in a row.
- Sapphire Season: Little is known about this but Spike seemed enthusiastic about it and noted that it came soon after Cider Season.
Other SpeciesWhile ponies are the main species (it's called My Little Pony, after all), there are a number of other species.
- Some creatures in Equestria are a lot like animals you'd find on Earth, except able to talk and living a similar lifestyle to the ponies, with the exception of farm animals, who get farmed for wool (in the case of sheep), or milk (in the case of cows), and possibly to eat scraps although their exact purpose is unknown (in the case of pigs). These include donkeys, mules (the offspring of a pony and a donkey, although they look like donkeys and don't have wings, horns or cutie marks), sheep, cows, buffalo, yaks, and pigs.
- Some creatures are almost exactly like Earth animals, but might occasionally do a human-like thing, such as Angel Bunny doing charades. These include rabbits, bees, fish, mice, ferrets, beavers, cats, tortoises, chickens, hummingbirds, blue jays, ducks, squirrels, owls, worms, fireflies, skunks, bears, frogs, wasps, and alligators.
- Other animals are based on Earth animals, but are a bit confusing as to where they fit into things:
- Dogs: Most dogs in Equestria are just like Earth dogs, however, the Diamond Dogs can speak and walk on two legs. They also wear clothes and do various other human-like activities but have doglike senses. If a dragon goes through the mirror portal, they will turn into a dog that is a lot like an Earth dog but able to speak and with the same colouring they had as a dragon.
- Vultures: Are just like Earth vultures, except they buzz.
- Humans: Humans do not exist in Equestria and it's doubtful that they exist anywhere on the ponies' planet, however, they do exist in a dimension that can be accessed through the mirror portal and a pony will become a human if they enter this world. Unlike you and I, the humans of this world have technicolor skin and each human seems to be a doppelganger to a pony (or, according to the toys, a zebra) in Equestria. The humans of this world generally do not have wings, horns or magic, though occasionally they will "pony up" and gain tails, magic abilities and possibly wings. They also seem to have a habit of wearing their pony counterpart's cutie mark on their clothes. Human doppelgangers of ponies do not appear to always be the same age as their counterparts but occasionally they are, for instance all of the mane six's counterparts are teenagers, while the actual mane six are young adults, but the human equivalent of Granny Smith is still elderly.
- Zebras: Appear just like regular zebras, but they have human-like lifestyles and can speak, both in English and in a mysterious language Zecora occasionally speaks. One strange thing about them is they seem to have unexplained magical abilities and cutie marks.
- Bats: Most bats in MLP are just like normal bats, however, there are a species called vampire fruit bats who are voracious and suck juice out of fruit with their fangs. Vampire fruit bats are also apparently literate as one was seen reading a magazine.
- Dragons: Can be almost any colour, and are basically what comes into one's mind when they initially think "dragon" (wings, claws, reptilian, breathes fire, etc). Sometimes, the fire can be green and/or have the ability to teleport things. Dragons can breathe fire voluntarily but often do so involuntarily when they sneeze. They can walk on either four legs or two and can speak. Dragons can occasionally be prone to materialistic greed. If this gets out-of-hand, they can grow to enormous sizes, speak in primitive grammar, and want to steal everything in sight, a condition known as "greed-induced bigness". Zecora states that Spike is "starting to mature" about his greed-induced bigness, which suggests that this condition cannot be experienced by ponies under a certain age. Dragons are omnivorous, and also eat gems. They need more sleep than ponies (especially young ones) and adult ones sometimes take century-long naps. They also sometimes involuntarily breathe out smoke in their sleep. Dragons hatch from eggs without wings and develop them after a period in their adolescence known as "the molt". The molt starts with itchy, red scales known as "stone-scales" appearing all over the body, then their voice randomly changes in volume, they randomly burp out flames, and they give off a pungent odor that apparently smells like a combination of Brussels sprouts and cotton candy, which is known as the "molt smell", which also attracts predators. After a day or so of these symptoms, they glow red a few times, get encased in stone, and emerge with wings. Molting dragons are generally kicked out of their family units due to something known as the "molt effect", which could be genetic or due to the smell. It is unknown how the molt effect works, but it does not happen to ponies. Dragons also culturally don't use pillows, but it's not instinctive, since Spike likes using pillows. They (including the ones living outside the Dragon Lands) are ruled by a leader known as the Dragon Lord (regardless of gender), who is chosen through a ceremony and can summon the other dragons by making them glow and itch. Dragons have a culture of being antisocial, but through characters like Ember and Smoulder, this is changing.
- Cockatrices: Creatures with a chicken's head and legs and a snake's body. Making eye contact will turn you into stone, but this can be countered if you give them a Death Glare.
- Hydras: Many-headed, reptilian creatures that live in swamps. They are aggressive and apparently eat ponies and dragons. They are one of the predators attracted to the smell of a molting dragon.
- Breezies: Small creatures that look sort of like skinny ponies with antennae, insect-like wings and no cutie marks. They can learn English, but mostly speak their own language. Like bees, they help in pollination. They are so light that the wind can blow them in a certain direction, hence the name, although they can also fly on their own, although not very well.
- Rocs: Very large, aggressive birds that are attracted to the scent of molting dragons. They eat dragons and ponies.
- Ursas: Enormous bear-like creatures with fur patterns reminiscent of the night sky. They roar instead of speaking and adult ones are known as Ursa Majors, while juveniles are called Ursa Minors. They can be very aggressive if provoked, but seem affectionate towards their offspring. Milk seems to have a soporific effect on them and Ursa Minors can become irritable if awoken from slumber.
- Timberwolves: Wolves who appear to be made out of wood. They are aggressive and apparently eat ponies. They have very bad breath and hate loud noises.
- Tatzlwurms: Huge, serpentine creatures with red frills around their necks and pink heads with large mouths. They apparently eat dragons and are attracted to the smell of molting dragons. They are aggressive and can cause adverse symptoms in draconequuses, which include being green all over and lethargic.
- Draconequuses: Bipedal creatures with long, brown bodies, red, snakelike tails, donkey-like heads, an antler and a horn on top of their head, two wings (one bat-like and one bird-like), yellow eyes, and a bird's claw and lion's paw for hands and a lizard's leg and pony's leg for legs. They are omnivorous and can speak. They also can do extremely powerful magic, usually by snapping the fingers on their claw. They can also live for an incredibly long time and are possibly immortal.
- Minotaurs: Blue-skinned creatures with a human's body but a bull's head and hindquarters. They walk on two legs and speak.
- Bugbears: Aggressive creatures that are a cross between a bee and a bear.
- Manticores: Lions with wings and scorpion tails. They can be aggressive if in pain, but otherwise can be benevolent. They seem to express affection by licking.
- Water serpents: Purple Loch Ness Monster type creatures with legs. They appear like reptiles but can grow hair on their heads and faces. They can speak.
- Windigoes: Non-corporeal, pony-like spirits that make the weather extremely cold and windy. They feed off resentment and can be defeated with a magical fire known as the Fire of Friendship.
- Changelings: Creatures that appear like ponies but with insect-like features and the ability to change form. They feed off love and hiss when doing so. If a Changeling drains all the love from a pony, it can make the pony very weak and the Changeling very powerful. Some Changelings have unicorn-like horns and/or, manes but that is rare. Changelings hatch out of eggs and call their siblings "brood mates". When first hatched, Changelings appear like larvae, but then they develop bodies that look similar to their adult bodies. A juvenile Changeling is known as a "grub". Their names are generally bug-related (e.g. Thorax, Chrysalis).
- Chimeras: Creatures with an ox's body and three heads: a snake's head, a tiger's head, and an ox's head. They can speak, and each head functions as a separate individual. The snake's head can get put to sleep with music. They also eat ponies.
- Griffins: Creatures with a lion's body and an eagle's wings, head and front legs. Most come from a place called Griffinstone and their names usually start with "G". They have a culture towards being abrasive, although there are a few exceptions.
- Phoenixes: Orange and red birds that occasionally burn up and are reborn. Before burning, the phoenixes cough and lose their feathers. Phoenixes can be kept as pets, although if not bred in captivity, they will prefer to live in the wild. Their feathers can cause hearing loss in some, but not all, ponies. As evidenced in "Molt Down", phoenixes take about a year (maybe less) to reach adulthood.
- Hippogriffs: Pony-like creatures with the head, claws, and wings of an eagle but the body of a pony. They are multicoloured like ponies but lack cutie marks. They can also speak and possess magic that allows them to shape-shift into "sea ponies" (like mermaids and mermen but ponies).
Cutie marksA pony's cutie mark is the picture on the side of a pony's rear thigh. Contrary to popular belief, a pony's "flank" is its side, not its butt. Yes, the cutie mark is near the pony's butt, but it is referred to as being on the flank because it's on the pony's side. While some of the toys have a cutie mark on only one side, generally, the cutie mark is on the side of both rear thighs.
Ponies are born without cutie marks (a pony without a cutie mark is sometimes referred to as a "blank flank") but sometime, usually in foalhood significantly after the age of five but Cheerilee got hers as a teen, they get one, upon finding their special talent, which correlates to their destiny. When a pony gets their cutie mark, the area on their flank where it is going to be glows, and on some occasions, the pony levitates for a moment.
The image on the cutie mark has to do with the pony's special talent in some way. Sometimes, it is obvious (for example, Rarity's cutie mark is diamonds and her special talent is finding gems), but sometimes it's symbolic (for example, Cheerilee's cutie mark is flowers because she likes to watch her students "bloom").
So far, no two ponies have the same cutie mark ( the Cutie Mark Crusaders come close, but not quite).
Sometimes, a pony's special talent will be supernatural in nature even if said pony is a Pegasus or an Earth pony (for example, Fluttershy's special talent is talking to animals.)
Generally, only ponies have cutie marks, even mules don't, however zebras might (Zecora has a mark in the right place that could be a cutie mark).
Most significantly are the names printed on the toys' packaging and the cards, which often conflict with the ponies' well-established Fan Nicknames and even a few in-show names. Neither Hasbro nor the animation studio officially or explicitly acknowledges any of the background ponies' existence for the show's continuity nor did they state that the similarly looking toys represent the background ponies themselves and thus are open for interpretation.note
A small note: It has been acknowledged by DHX Media (the animation studio) staff in interviews that Hasbro's media and toy divisions tend not to talk to each other much outside of show preproduction, and as such any changes to canon the show makes later on in production might not make it into the toys until much later, if at all.
Due to this, a debate whether to consider these similar looking toy ponies as the same characters themselves or a separate character entirely has erupted within the fan community. Opinions range, depending on the fan and the pony, from varying degrees of acceptance to outright refusal, casting away Hasbro's toy-line as a separate continuity from the show. The occasional names that differ from the in-show names, along with Hasbro's mixing up Apple Bloom and Scootaloo's names on two different occasions, have further solidified this notion.
Whenever an obvious conflict-of-canon occurs, fans (and the show-focused MLP:FIM Wiki) usually put show canon above toy canon.
In a number of cases, as time goes on, the canon toy name will come to be accepted and used by all but the most stubborn of fans, simply to make it easier for others to understand which pony is being referred to; this shift tends to happen with the less-popular background ponies that don't have a lot of fanon baggage.
So far most of the toy ponies that are seemingly based on minor ponies are exclusive to the Blind Bags. Not many of them appear in other toy lines like the brushable toyline, which is the "main" My Little Pony line where some of the characters have different art than they do in the Blind Bags (a small number even have unique art).
List of toy names (excluding major characters such as the Mane Six and the Princesses):
Amethyst Star (Blind Bag wave 4, pony 21 and wave 6, pony 17)Matches Sparkler's cutie mark and color scheme. Both names are used by fans.
Apple Dazzle (Blind Bag wave 3, pony 14)Similar to Apple family member Apple Bumpkin.
Was thought to also be similar to an unnamed background pony introduced in Season 2, but that pony's cutie mark was later shown clearly in Season 3, turning out to be different.
Berryshine (Blind Bag wave 3, pony 16)Similar to Berry Punch. Fans consider these as two separate entities because of the fact that Berryshine is a unicorn (and a Rarity Palette Swap, but You Don't Look Like You is common for the molded toys) while Berry Punch is and has always been an Earth pony. The only things that make her similar to Berry Punch are her color scheme and cutie mark, which have led some fans to speculate that the two could possibly be related to each other.
Initially, there was a move for a fanon compromise that would re-christen Berry Punch as "Berryshine Punch" with "Berry" being a shortened nickname for Berryshine. Once fans realized that the two were different races, most of them jettisoned her toy name completely.
Blossomforth (Blind Bag wave 2, pony 8/Friendship Celebration Collection; also a wave 3 brushable)Identified by name in both the show and the toyline. Her eyes are a different color in the show than they are in the toy line (toy has green eyes, show has blue eyes), which proves that single-color differences can fall under You Don't Look Like You. She's also the only pony so far to appear in the toy line before appearing in the show, proving that the show does pay attention to the toys (though as she had both a brushable toy and a Blind Bag toy out before she appeared in the show, it isn't clear whether the show pays attention to the brushable toys, the Blind Bags, or both).
Breezie (Blind Bag wave 5, pony 5)Matches an unnamed Wonderbolt's coat and mane colors, but it's unknown if her eye color or cutie mark match. Also partly shares her name with Earth pony stallion Mr. Breezy.
Chance-A-Lot (Blind Bag wave 4, pony 10 and wave 6, pony 23)Similar both to Caramel and one of his variations (who has a different eye color). Chance-A-Lot's eye color matches Caramel's.
Cherry Berry (Blind Bag wave 3, pony 21; also a wave 8 brushable)Similar to Cherry. Fans increasingly use the toy name to better distinguish her from prominent one-shot character Cherry Jubilee.
Crimson Gala (Blind Bag wave 4, pony 4 and wave 6, pony 16)Similar to Apple family member Red Gala.
DJ Pon-3 (Friendship Is Magic Favorite Collection brushable)Called "DJ Pon-3" in Hasbro's Facebook and Twitter announcements of the collection she's included in. The box art confirms that that is indeed her canon name, making her a rather remarkable case of Ascended Fanon.
At the time of her initial appearance, fans also nicknamed her by popular vote no less "Vinyl Scratch", a name which has only officially appeared on a not-for-sale poster (parodying This is Spın̈al Tap) that Hasbro displayed at one toy fair in 2012.
Fans have always accepted both nicknames, and often used both simultaneously (the now-canon name typically being her DJ stage name). The canonization of "DJ Pon-3" over "Vinyl Scratch" isn't going to change that anytime soon.
Flower Wishes (wave 1, pony 12/Friendship Celebration Collection; also a Friendship Is Magic Favorite Collection brushable)Matches Daisy in every way but name. There are very few, if any, fans that refer to Daisy as Flower Wishes.
Golden Delicious (Blind Bag wave 5, pony 17)This unicorn mare shares her name with the Apple family Earth pony stallion from the show.
Golden Harvest (Blind Bag wave 3, pony 8)Similar to Carrot Top. Popular opinion suggested that these two are the same pony, with Carrot Top being her nickname and being embarrassed by her real name. Trading cards containing Official Fan-Submitted Content have since confirmed that Golden Harvest is the pony from the show and made "Carrot Top" being her In-Series Nickname Ascended Fanon.
Goldengrape (Blind Bag wave 3, pony 5)Similar to Sir Colton Vines III.
Junebug (Blind Bag wave 5, pony 4)This unicorn mare shares her name and eye color with the Earth pony mare from the show.
Lemon Hearts (Blind Bag wave 1, pony 16/Friendship Celebration Collection)Some fans used to call her Lemon Drop, the name of a G1 pony she resembles. Possibly due to Lemon's lack of popularity, most just call her by her toy name now.
Lyra Heartstrings (Blind Bag wave 3, pony 22 and wave 5, pony 24; also a wave 8 brushable)Called just "Heartstrings" in the initial European release of wave 3, this pony is the one that sparked the Great Name Debate among the fans, which though eventually affecting several ponies on this list remained focused squarely on her throughout. This passion amongst the fans is probably due to her being easily the second most popular of the background ponies (only fandom-avatar Derpy can be said to have surpassed her in BG-pony popularity at the time).
Before the brushables, the trading cards, wave 3's American release, and wave 5 settled things, there was another popular interpretation of a similar fashion to the "Berryshine" pony. This concept seemed to revolve around the wave 3 collector card◊, specifically the dark green coat coloration used by the card. Due to this, some fans attempted to conclude that these two were different ponies. This notion spawned a lot of fanwork, most noticeably the "Lyra strangling Heartstrings" fanart that seemed to stem from the fandom's initial reaction to the name and the comically odd "Lyra X Heartstrings" shipping in a similar vein as the "Trixie narcissism" shippingnote . However, even before the later releases, the wave 3 Blind Bag packaging (once they hit stores) showed that the Heartstrings card probably just used prototype artwork, and indicated that the toy's coloration was show-accurate after all.
The name debate was put to rest once and for all with the North American release of wave 3 (plus the later brushables and wave 5), which incorporated the Fan Nickname to make her full name what you read in the heading above. This new status quo is exactly the compromise many fans wanted.
Meadow Song (Blind Bag wave 3, pony 17)Bluegrass A.K.A. the Ermac/ninja pony from "Luna Eclipsed". This pony has appeared prior to that episode, most prominently in "Over a Barrel". Fan opinion on whether these two are the same pony or not is vague due to his lack of popularity compared to other background ponies.
Merry May (Blind Bag wave 4, pony 8 and wave 6, pony 13)Similar to Flora.
Minuette (Blind Bag wave 4, pony 5 and wave 6, pony 7)Matches race, color scheme and cutie mark of the background pony previously fan nicknamed "Colgate" or Romananote . Both her canon name and latter nickname are connected to her hourglass cutie mark. Fans are generally more accepting of her toy namenote , although a few fan works (particularly ones that play up the "dentist" angle) have associated the names with two different ponies à la "Berryshine".
Mosely Orange (Blind Bag wave 4, pony 20 and wave 6, pony 11)Applejack's Uncle Orange.
Noteworthy (Blind Bag wave 3, pony 23)Blues, a.k.a the "cyclops pony"note from "The Best Night Ever". He appeared in numerous episodes before the infamous animation glitch. The fandom was more accepting of the toy name and generally considered it his surname, making his full fanon name "Blues Noteworthy" or the other way around.
Peachy Pie (Pony Collection Set, pony 10)This Earth pony mare shares her name with the Earth pony filly from the show.
Peachy Sweet (Blind Bag wave 4, pony 16 and wave 6, pony 22)Similar to an unnamed Apple family member.
Rainbowshine (Blind Bag wave 3, pony 4)Similar to Rainbow Day.
Roseluck (wave 1, pony 13 and wave 6, pony 8)Matches Rose in every way but name, however it's easy to believe that "Rose" is short for "Roseluck", and because of this a lot of fans have adopted Roseluck as her full name,note making this a rare case of show fans preferring the toy name over the show name.
Royal Riff (Blind Bag wave 4, pony 6 and wave 6, pony 21)Introduced in "The Mysterious Mare Do Well", though he wasn't shown clearly until "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000" and wasn't the focus of any shots until "Putting Your Hoof Down".
Since his crystal toy from wave 4 was seen before he appeared on the show, he was previously considered to be another Blues look-a-like, matching his eye color, having a darker shade of blue for the coat, and having a similarly themed (musical symbols) but different cutie mark (a G-clef instead of a musical note). Some considered him a different pony mainly due to the cutie mark and dark shade of blue. Others thought he looked more like Blues than Noteworthy due to the matching eye color. His non-crystal toy from wave 6 confirmed his identity as a different pony.
Sapphire Shores (Blind Bag wave 5, pony 8)This unicorn mare shares her name (but nothing else) with the Earth pony mare from the show.
Sassaflash (Blind Bag wave 4, pony 15 and wave 6, pony 19)Similar to Wind Whistler.
Sea Swirl (Blind Bag wave 3, pony 10)Similar to Seafoam. Fans use either name depending on personal preference.
Shoeshine (Blind Bag wave 4, pony 23 and wave 6, pony 24)Similar to Linky.
Star Swirl (Blind Bag wave 2, pony 10; also a brushable)This Earth pony mare appeared in the toy line before Season 2 started mentioning the Posthumous Character Star Swirl the Bearded, a unicorn stallion.
Sunny Daze (a So Soft)This Pegasus filly (the toy is a newborn, but its packaging uses a present-day picture of her) shares her name and eye color with the Earth pony filly from the show.
Sunny Rays (Blind Bag wave 5, pony 3; also a wave 8 brushable)Similar to Rays.
Trixie Lulamoon (Blind Bag wave 3, pony 22; wave 5, pony 24; and wave 6, pony 9; also a wave 8 and Friendship Is Magic Favorite Collection brushable)Called just "Lulamoon" in the initial European release of wave 4, but shared all attributes (race, coat, mane, eyes, cutie mark) with popular antagonist Trixie. The toy name had nearly-zero credibility among the fans until the brushables, wave 4's American release, wave 5, the Friendship Is Magic Favorite Collection, and wave 6 made "Trixie Lulamoon" her full name.
Twilight Sky (Blind Bag wave 4, pony 17 and wave 6, pony 18)Ice, a lesser known background pony that appeared in the episode "Green isn't Your Color" as an assistant of Photo Finish's and as a bouncer. Matches eye color, coat color and cutie mark. Others thought it was a pony version of another guy that sparkles, though wave 6 confirmed his in-show identity.
Twilight Velvet (Blind Bag wave 4, pony 22 and wave 6, pony 10)Twilight Sparkle's mom.note
Twinkleshine (Blind Bag wave 2, pony 21; also a wave 4 brushable)This name is generally used for the similar-looking unicorn that appears from time to time in the show.
The show has spawned a variety of musical compositions and enormous quantities of fan art, enough to flood most of the Image Boards on the 'net throughout 2011 (originating in the Anonymous boards on /co/, where series creators actually visited to interact with the surprising new subculture; but swiftly spreading to message boards devoted to topics as diverse as violent video games, wrestling, and heavy metal, with Team Fortress 2 in particular becoming seen as a fortress of brony-dom).
It has even spawned an unofficial fighting game currently in production: My Little Pony: Fighting Is Magic, which is making waves in the industry. There was an attempt by fans to make a multiplayer massive online game, "Equestria Online" (but the project shut down after a C&D request from Hasbro), and a spinoff of the Ace Attorney series, "My Little Investigations". Other game spinoffs produced by the fan community include a Rainbow Dash-mod of the Adult Swim game Robot Unicorn Attack that had hit big with the same crowd several months prior to MLP's premier, helping to establish the inherent manliness of all things rainbows and unicorns.
Despite such ironic remarks, the show was cited by Wired as an example of "the new sincerity" in 2010's culture, with adult fans honestly defending the assertion that it took self-confidence to appreciate the show on its own merits as a celebration of innocence, friendship and tolerance. Others watch it for the plot.
Friendship Is Magic did not penetrate the mainstream consciousness until summer 2011, when Fox News issued a series of critiques of the "bronies" phenomenon, with William Kristol declaring it to be "worse than terrorism!" (The other people on the Fox panel were supportive of the trend), and other commentators comparing it to the adult fanbase of Spongebob Squarepants, another cartoon known for its good writing that appealed to children and adults. Of course, America has a long and storied history of producing and marketing animation exclusively for kids. The resulting fan response led to a series of Shout Outs by other media figures, including Stephen Colbert (who gave a brohoof "to all my bronies!")
Much like Trek or Doctor Who, the MLP fandom has spawned its own culture with distinctive lingo and code phrases.note The show and other official material even reference the fandom and occasionally canonize fanon, such as DJ Pon-3 and Derpy. While the phrase "brony" originally referred to the male audience, it has since come to mean any adult fan of the show male or female to a certain extent (there are those who would call female fans "pegasisters").
The high-profile fansite Equestria Daily, which went online on January 19, 2011, has visibly shown the surprisingly quick growth of the fanbase. To compare, it took 57 days for the site to reach 1 million hits. Now the site racks up a million hits every 1-2 days. On January 12, 2013, the site passed 300 million hits.
At least one episode is available in Bin Weevils, the entire first season is available in German on the official German & Swiss Nickelodeon sites, the episode "MMMystery on the Friendship Express" is available on Hasbro's official US site, the episode "A Canterlot Wedding - Part 1" is available with Spanish fansubs on an official Mexican My Little Pony site, and one or two recent episodes are usually available on The Hub's official site in the US. DVDs are being released in various regions (with the completeness of the releases depending on the region), and selected episodes are being added in pairs to the Leap Frog App Center. The entire first and second seasons are available from YouTube and Google Play, the entire first through third seasons are available from Netflix, and all of the episodes that have already aired can be bought on iTunes if you're lucky enough to live somewhere in the one-third of the world where they're available. On July 4th 2011, the show began airing in the UK on Boomerang, and premiered on Boomerang worldwide soon after. German Audio Adaptations of the show's first four episodes are available across two volumes in CD and MP3 formats. The show's second season premiered on September 17th, 2011 and ended on April 21, 2012. A third season of thirteen 22-minute episodes premiered on November 10, 2012 and ended on February 16, 2013. The show spawned a movie, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls. Friendship is Magic itself is getting a fourth season of twenty-six 22-minute episodes, which is to premiere on November 23, 2013.
Fortunately for its prospects, the show has proven very successful with its target audience as well.
Ironically, some have cited an initial wave of harsh criticism of the show's kids-commercialization aspect with sparking interest in the show, starting with Cartoon Brew's article "The End of the Creator-Driven Era", which caught the attention of /co/note ; and later with Ms. Magazine writing an article titled "My Racist, Homophobic, Smart-Shaming Pony", which generated hundreds of responses including one from the show's creator, Lauren Faust, who has long considered herself a strong feminist.