Powerless and threatened by a great evil, Princess Luna discovers she can't count on her sister or any of the usual heroes of Equestria. Running out of time and with nowhere to turn, Luna assembles a team specially suited to save the day... a team of former villains!
This series provides examples of these tropes (for more, please also visit the character guide):
- Big Bad: Princess Eris, Discord's cousin and Lord of Chaos in an alternate universe, with far more destructive tastes than him.
- Darker and Edgier: The prior Ponyville Mysteries was a light, Slice of Life series staring the Cutie Mark Crusaders with fairly low-key conflicts that were resolved at the end of each issue. Nightmare Knights 'conflict spans the whole series and threatens universes, stars ex-villains who regularly have to confront their pasts, and blatant offscreen deaths.
Tropes applying to Individual Issues:
- Written by Jeremy Whitley
- Bad-Guy Bar: Eris's casino, to the point where only evil beings are allowed entrance.
- Call-Back: Eris uses an alternate version of the Staff of Sacanas to steal Luna's powers.
- Continuity Cavalcade: The casino scenes as Luna and Stygian make try to make their way to Celestia includes minor and major villains from throughout the run of MLP's show and comics, including a Shadowbolt, Gilda, a Parasprite, Diamond Dogs, Flim and Flam, Angel Bunny, Garble, Queen Chrysalis and changelings, Babs Seed, Lightning Dust, Sunset Shimmer, Dr. Caballeron and henchponies, the Mane-iac, Suri Polomare, Lord Tirek and Scorpan, Starlight Glimmer, the Smooze, the Tantabus, Svengallop, pony versions of Gloriosa Daisy and Wallflower Blush, a spider gangster, the Cloud Gremlins, Nightmare Rarity, a pony Sunflower, the Evil Queen of Trottingham, Mirror Sombra, the League of Villainy, Well-To-Do, Bad Apple, a corrupted Rarity, Queen Cleopatrot and her jackal henchmen.
- De-Power: Princess Luna has her powers removed by Princess Eris.
- Evil Feels Good: Downplayed, but Luna admits that pretending to still have the mindset of Nightmare Moon felt "great".
- Evil Is Hammy: Luna plays this up for all it's worth while pretending to still be Nightmare Moon.Princess Luna: I am Nightmare Moon! I defeated my sister, the sun, and plunged Equestria into darkness! I visit nightmares upon innocent foals. I haunt every shadow you fear in the night. I see what you fear, and I will use it to destroy you!
Casino Guard: Jeez, lady, leave some drama for the rest of us.
- Eviler Than Thou: Eris looks down on her "cousin" Discord's antics, believing chaos is better used to spread destruction rather than playing pranks and making it rain chocolate milk.
- Internal Reveal: Luna learns that the alternate Pony of Shadows kidnapped her and Celestia when they were young, requiring them to be saved by Stygian and the Pillars.
- Make Way for the New Villains: The alternate Pony of Shadows from Legends of Magic kicks off the plot by abducting a version of Celestia to corrupt into Daybreaker to destroy worlds across The Multiverse. What became of this Pony of Shadows is unknown, but by the time Stygian and Luna make their way to his world, a new villain named Princess Eris is running things instead.
- Mythology Gag:
- Never Say "Die": The Pony of Shadows says the alternate Luna didn't survive their corruption, and the dragon in line says it ate the three ponies in front (who we see in the prior page, so they're not faceless casualties). This is the most blatant examples of death in the series to date, but still "die" is never directly used.
- Written by Jeremy Whitley
- Affectionate Nickname: Tempest Shadow and Glitter Drops call each other Fizzy and Dropsy.
- Artifact Alias: Even Glitter Drops, who knew Fizzlepop Berrytwist as a filly, calls her Tempest.
- The Atoner: Tempest joins the team so she can make up for her past actions.
- Avengers, Assemble!: The issue primarily involves Luna and Stygian recruiting a band of former villains for their unique talents. They all sign on more for the challenge than out of any sense of obligation.
- Continuity Nod: Luna and Stygian find Capper at Flim and Flam's resort.
- Fangirl: Glitter Drops almost has a Freak Out upon seeing Luna.
- I Just Want to Be Special: Trixie's reason for joining the heist; she's sick of being on the sidelines for world-saving adventures, and wants to prove herself.
- It Amused Me: Capper only worked as a speaker for a sales seminar to "pass the time". He agrees to join Luna's team for the excitement.
- Insult Friendly Fire: When Capper shows concern over their mission, Tempest teasingly calls him a "scaredy cat". Capper then points out that he has a cousin named Scaredy Cat.
- Lampshade Hanging: Tempest wonders why they're giving their team a name if it's supposed to be secret.
- Moral Myopia: Trixie claims that she was never a "former villain", and refuses to answer to the standards of "objective morality".
- Noodle Incident: Trixie is about to start her show, then the next panel cuts to her, she, Luna, and Stygian being chased by the yaks, whom she managed to offend with one of her tricks.
- Old Friend: Glitter Drops was one of the childhood friends Tempest Shadow had left behind after breaking her horn, and is the only one she was able to reconnect with.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: When infiltrating the casino, most of the characters chooses aliases that are mostly thinly modified synonyms of their current or past identities, such as Starry Night Terror, Malestrom Shade and the Great and Powerful Roxy.
- Shipper on Deck: When two of the ponies at Capper's seminar hear that he and Luna are going to be working together, one of them says "I ship it!"
- Tempting Fate: Just before the team enters Eris's casino, Capper asks "How bad could it be?" Then he finds that the casino is full of villains.
- Title Drop: Luna proposes the group call themselves the "Nightmare Knights", which is written in the same font and colors as on the cover.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- Tempest calls out Luna for spying on her and her friends' dreams, as at least the Storm King never did that.
- Trixie is called out for her "grotesque" spell and not thinking WHY not to do such a spell or that others would take offense.
- Written by Jeremy Whitley
- Alternate Self: Trixie encounters an alternate version of Twilight Sparkle; a stage magician who calls herself "The Great and Powerful Twily", to Trixe's chagrin.
- Animal Jingoism: A group of Diamond Dogs immediately show hostility toward Capper, simply because he's a cat, despite Capper's call not to resort to "this kind of base primal nonsense".
- Beam Spam: Tempest starts her attack on Daybreaker with a rapid-fire series of blasts from her horn.
- Chicken Joke: Tempests attempts to taunt Eris with one of these, but Eris hits back with a threat.Tempest Shadow: Why did the chicken cross
Princess Eris: You know, I've heard this one before, but the real question I want the answer to iswhy did the pony cross the chicken?
- Continuity Nod:
- The Crystal Heart, Alicorn Amulet, Rings of Scorchero, Memory Stone, Pigasus tears, and the Helm of Shadows from the Ponyville Mysteries novels are being offered up as prizes.
- "The Great and Powerful Twily" initially refers to Trixie as "princess". During the "Reflections" story arc, it was shown via a stained glass window that Trixie had become an alicorn in the mirror world. "The Great and Powerful Twily" is either from that world, or one with a similar event.
- Defiant Captive: After being captured, Tempest doesn't tell Eris anything, and mocks her several times. This ends up causing Eris to hypnotize her into reliving the day she lost her horn.
- Defrosting the Ice Queen: An unfortunately negative example. Tempest may have been reformed and willing to help out her new comrades, but she retains a somewhat cold and snarky attitude. When Eris captures Tempest, her tough demeanor is taken down when Eris uses her magic to trap Tempest in her mind and relive the day she lost her horn, causing Tempest to become a scared mess.
- Demoted to Dragon: Daybreaker now acts as a security guard at Eris's casino.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Tempest picks a fight with Daybreaker in order to allow the others time to go further into the casino.
- Instantly Proven Wrong: After blowing up a roulette stand as a distraction, Tempest confidently states that it's going to take hours for the casino's security to catch up to them due to the fight that doing this started. She doesn't quite manage to finish the sentence before casino security arrives and demands she stop and surrender.Tempest: Please! With that fight it's going to take them hours to even figure out-
Guard 1: There she is! The one with the broken horn!
Guard 2: You with the broken horn, stop immediately!
Tempest: Come on! I didn't even finish the sentence!
- Mind-Control Eyes: After Eris uses her powers to trap Tempest in her mind to repeatedly live a nightmare, Tempests eyes become green swirls.
- Mind Rape: When Tempest refuses to answer Eris's questions, Eris forces her to relive the day she lost her horn, with Tempest's childhood friends replaced by her current teammates, and Eris in place of the Ursa Minor.
- No, You: Invoked during the argument between Trixie and "The Great and Powerful Twily".Trixie: Nobody is as skilled as the Great and Powerful Trixie!
Twily: Hey! Stop stealing my thing! I'm the Great and Powerful Twily!
Trixie: That sounds ridiculous!
Twily: You're ridiculous!
- Oh, Crap!: Tempest gives a face that says this when Eris is about to use her staffs powers on her.
- Skewed Priorities: Trixie. She gets distracted by a game offering powerful magical artefacts, fumes over not being asked to perform in the casino, and challenges an alternate version of Twilight to prove who is the greatest unicorn magician.
- Written by Jeremy Whitley
- And I Must Scream: Tempest says to Daybreaker that she knew Eris brainwashed her into reliving her own personal nightmare repeatedly. The fact that the same case could be for Capper and Stygian really raises some eerie implications.
- Dream Weaver: Eris traps Stygian and Capper in versions of their own worst nightmares (Stygian, the day he was caught by the Pillars with their artifacts, and Capper the day the Storm King invaded Abyssinia), then offers to "save" them in return for their loyalty.
- Enemy Mine: After her collar is broken, Daybreaker agrees to help Tempest and the others fight Eris.
- Fake Defector: Capper pulls this by agreeing to help Eris in return for a life of luxury.
- For the Evulz: Eris stole the journal of her world's Star Swirl the Bearded, preventing the Pillars from imprisoning the Pony of Shadows, in order to ensure the chaos he inflicted would continue.
- Guilt Complex: Stygian holds this over the past actions that led to him becoming the Pony of Shadows.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The Pony of Shadows had the captive Eris create a special collar that would allow him total control over Daybreaker. Eris instead used the collar to make Daybreaker her servant, and together, they destroyed the Pony of Shadows.
- Identity Amnesia: Daybreaker has no memory of her past as Celestia.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: Or rather, knocked out. Trixie defeats the Great and Powerful Twily, but is knocked out by Eris before she can finish gloating.
- Laser-Guided Karma: After allowing for the alternate Pony of Shadows to continue his reign of terror for her own amusement, Eris was imprisoned by the Pony of Shadows, who used her power to enhance his own.
- Living Battery: The alternate Pony of Shadows used Star Swirl's spell book to turn Eris into one of these when she refused to help him conquer their Equestria.
- Mind-Control Eyes: Tempest is still hypnotized from the previous issue as her eyes are still green swirls, but thanks to Daybreaker, Tempest is freed from the trance and her eyes turn back to normal.
- Not So Different: Tempest invokes this with Daybreaker, acknowledging that they both served masters who didn't deliver on their promises.
- Shock Collar: Daybreaker is wearing one of these; it inflicts painful electric shocks on her when she acts against Eris's orders.
- Spanner in the Works:
- Eris served as this in her world, sabotaging the Pillars' plan to seal away the Pony of Shadows, allowing him to destroy them and conquer Equestria.
- Daybreaker's impatience in wanting to find out what Tempest knows leads to her Shock Collar restoring her free will, allowing Tempest to convince her to switch sides.
- The Starscream: The alternate Nightmare Moon attempted to betray the Pony of Shadows, only for Daybreaker to kill her.
- Villainous Rescue: Daybreaker frees Tempest from Eris hypnotic nightmare.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Luna invokes his to help Stygian break free from his nightmare, telling him that he doesn't have to be the Pony of Shadows if he doesn't want to be.
- Written by Jeremy Whitley
- Asshole Victim: Considering the turmoil Eris put ponies from across several universes through, it's hard to feel bad for her when she's finally beaten. That said though, Daybreaker hands her an alarmingly violent death.
- Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Daybreaker gets the honor of taking out Eris, which Luna couldn't bring herself to do.
- Bittersweet Ending: Luna regains her powers and defeats Eris, but is unable to save Daybreaker, who refuses redemption. While the Nightmare Knights get to bond and become friends, the exploits are kept secret from the world.
- Break the Haughty: By the issue's end, Eris goes from the haughty Lord of Chaos to terrified, powerless, and begging on her knees for Luna's mercy. Thankfully, Luna doesn't want to hurt her. But Daybreaker does.
- Commonality Connection: Capper claims to have this with Eris, stating that they're both well-versed in spreading chaos and misdirection, and know when to bide their time before seizing their moment.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Eris ends up on the end of one, courtesy of Daybreaker.
- De-Power: Once Luna's powers are restored, she destroys the Staff of Sacanas immediately, leaving Eris powerless.
- Dragon Ascendant: Daybreaker reveals this was her intent after beating Eris.
- Evil Gloating: Eris is a little too fond to this, to Tempest's annoyance.
- Evil Power Vacuum: Daybreaker creates one by taking out Eris. She instantly fills it.
- The Greatest Story Never Told: Luna decides not to tell Celestia about what happened, and in turn, the rest of the Nightmare Knights keep it a secret too.
- Implausible Deniability: Eris claims that she's only the way she is because she went mad during the years she'd spent imprisoned by the Pony of Shadows. This excuse ignores the fact that she intentionally arranged for the Pony of Shadows to continue his initial reign of terror, all for her own amusement.
- Kill It with Fire: Daybreaker envelops Eris in a ball of fire and blasts her out of the castle.
- My Greatest Failure: When Nightmare Moon turned against the Pony of Shadows and asked Daybreaker for help, she sided with her master instead and killed her. Daybreaker still deeply regrets her decision and misses her sister.Daybreaker: She was the fiercest and most loyal of sisters, and I am afraid I failed her when it mattered most.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Eris locking up Trixie in the same room as Tempest and Daybreaker proves instrumental for her defeat: Trixie creates an illusion of Daybreaker's Shock Collar to replace the one Tempest broke, allowing Daybreaker and the rest to get close enough to Eris without attracting her suspicion.
- Not So Different: Daybreaker reveals she was just trying to fill the void with Luna left by her dead sister Nightmare Moon... Like Prime Celestia did with Mirror Luna after Prime Luna turned to evil.
- Orphan's Ordeal: Capper reveals to Eris that he lost his parents to the Storm King.Capper: "These ponies, they've never really had it bad. I lived under the Storm King. He destroyed my town. I lost my family. Friendship isn't going to fix that."
- The Power of the Sun: Daybreaker's powers are fully restored upon defeating Eris, signified by the sun rising over the landscape.Daybreaker: "Do you now that collar kept me from accessing the power to control the sun? It takes a little while to raise it when you haven't done it in centuries, but it's dawn now."
- Redemption Rejection: Daybreaker refuses Luna's offer to reform and rule honestly, instead electing to take over the castle Eris left behind.
- Replacement Goldfish: Daybreaker sees Luna as this, replacing her late sister Nightmare Moon. In the end, however, she claims that although she may have respect for her and appreciate her help, Luna merely looks like Nightmare Moon, is nowhere near as dark and ruthless as she used to be and cannot truly replace her.
- Secret Keeper: The Nightmare Knights never talk about what happened when they return to Equestria. Luna writes Celestia a letter reflecting on her experience, but never sends it.
- Super Gullible: Eris. As Daybreaker points out, for someone so practiced in deception, she is very bad at recognizing it, never suspecting that Capper had only pretended to side with her.
- Taking the Bullet: Luna attempts to do this when Eris tries to attack Daybreaker. Capper had already swapped out the magic stone in the staff, making her effort moot.