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Fanfic / Triptych Continuum

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My Little Pony: Reality Ensues.

The Triptych Continuum is a series of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Fan Fic stories and shorts taking place within the same setting, written by Estee.

This Alternate Universe is predicated on the continuity established by the first three seasons. However, it occasionally examines those events in greater depth. There is some emphasis on world-building, the environment, the mechanics of magic in Equestria, and character development. It also contains original vernacular and hints at what appears to be an alternate history for the Princesses.

Triptych is the central work of the setting, starting three weeks after Twilight's transformation. It initially centers around her personal aftermath from the change while sending the Mane Cast on a new mission — one launched by Discord. Without being told what it is, where they're going, or anything about why. It is complete.

A Mark of Appeal is another story within the setting, focusing on Celestia and Luna. It deals with the ramifications of what happens when a pony possesses a cutie mark which she no longer wants, as the talent turns out to be actively detrimental to her — because it's gone fully out of that pony's control. It is complete.

A sequel story, Glimmer began in September of 2020, and deals with the Triptych's version of Starlight Glimmer.

The various other shorts can be found on the Author page, located here. A number of them are meant to expand on ideas presented in the main work and have been described by the author as "things which were going on in the background while you weren't looking."

It's still Equestria, and it's not necessarily dark — but there are times when the shadows get a little deeper.

This Link is the timeline of the series as it stands so far. It's an updated version of this outdated blog on the series connected story continuum.

The author is also responsible for Tales of the Canterlot Deportation Agency, which is a separate continuity — although the rules of magic are the same, and backstories for characters appearing in both are shared.

The standalone stories Anchor Foal, Daily Equestria Life with Monster Girl, and Anchor Foal II incorporate much of the Continuum's background but occur in a separate continuity.

As of June 2023, the continuum has begun to include stories set in the Generation 5 universe.

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    Tropes generally present in the Triptych Continuum 
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Just about every character who's had a starring role in the Continuum (or adjacent continuities) has some sort of significant emotional baggage and/or trauma, problems exaggerated, extrapolated, and possibly outright fabricated from their original characterizations. However, at the same time, quite a few of the stories concern learning how to overcome those issues.
  • Adaptational Badass: In canon, earth pony magic is a fairly nebulous and innocuous-seeming set of talents, generally defined as "enhanced strength, enhanced stamina, able to grow things better". In the Triptych Continuum, they get bumped-up to having full-fledged Elemental Powers.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Changelings in the Continuum have gone from the shapeshifters capable of assuming any form, from pony to monster to inanimate object, of the canon to being completely incapable of shapechanging at all: instead, they project an easily-undermined illusion of their "assumed" form. The best method for detecting a changeling is to throw a bucketful of water at the legs, since the holes will give a distinctive splash pattern.
  • Alliterative Title:
  • Alternative Number System: Averted: Equestria uses base ten. Neither Celestia nor Luna have any idea why.
  • Amplifier Artifact: Anything made of platinum, as the metal is a natural super-conductor for magical energy. In fact, just being around the metal itself weakens a pony, as it's such a good conductor that it sucks all available magic out of the immediate area — which gives it a bad tendency to explode if gathered in too large a quantity. Given how every known example of using platinum this way has Gone Horribly Right, also doubles as Artifact of Doom.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses:
    • Each major pony race has a sense for the detection of magic called feel, the quality of which varies by the individual (although some ponies can improve with practice). However, in reality, this actually works out to be three separate senses, as a pony can only pick up on the workings of their own race. Twilight's feel for unicorn magic is fairly acute, while Pinkie hardly ever registers even the strongest earth pony traces. The Princesses are presumed to possess all three versions. She also has all three — but only one at a time, and she doesn't know how to interpret some of the information, leading to a degree of synesthesia.
    • Pegasus vision goes partway into both the infrared and electromagnetic: they can see heat and judge the level of ion charges in clouds. Some unexplained mechanism lets them view humidity as twinkles in the air.
  • Breakout Character: Sizzler, the palace's master of the meat station, has broken out of his own continuity. Two other authors are currently using him, which includes an appearance in a different series.
  • Cast From Hitpoints: Using magic burns energy just like any other physical or mental activity. And many of the things ponies do uses magic. It's easy for a pony to accidentally work themselves into exhaustion this way.
  • Cast from Lifespan: Any pony is capable of putting the last of themselves into their magic, trading their existence for a closing surge of strength: this applies to all three categories of racial castings and talents. It's a very rare event and can generally only be done when the need is a true one — but it happens.
  • Character Development: "Lazy River" establishes what Pinkie and Applejack were like about a decade ago, and allows readers to see the ways their personalities have changed.
  • Colour-Coded Emotions: There's a spell that detects intents of spells, as seen in the second chapter of Triptych, which visualizes a given spell as a specific color thematically related to the intent behind it.
    her field flared as the spell picked up the traces of power, changed color to reflect intent.
    But not from her own steady pink to the typical angry red displayed by a dedicated arsonist. Shimmering gold, slightly metallic with just hints of sparkles around the edges, nearly invisible in the warm gleam of soft yellow. A color she'd never personally seen before, one she didn't associate with a deliberate burn.
  • Crapsaccharine World: This version of Equestria may look shiny and colorful like in the show, but there's a lot of Grimdark aspects hidden under the brightness. Pony civilization amounts to bubbles of safety in the midst of vast, monster-infested wilderness, and traveling between towns is a potentially lethal journey. Furthermore, such civilized zones will die out despite all the efforts of their residents should the Earth Ponies leave, as ponies depend on "the Cornucopia Effect" to have enough readily accessible food to support themselves. Despite the Windigos historically forcing the three tribes to make peace, there's still a strong undercurrent of anti-tribalist beliefs in modern Equestria — ironically, mostly from the Earth Ponies, or so it seems. There's no form of libel laws established, so the local journalistic efforts are the worst sorts of muck-raking screed one can imagine. And that's really just scratching the surface.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Twilight, generally when tired or especially upset. She's composed internal letters to Princess Celestia which will never see a scroll, attempted to mock-suffocate herself with a pillow rather than continue to deal with Rainbow Dash's insomnia, and offered to prove the reality of an approaching solar eclipse to a disbelieving griffon astronomy professor by having the Princesses send him to the Moon.
      "Then all you have to do is look down. If you can see Ponyville, I win."
    • Luna, particularly when she's been irritated by somepony else's stupidity. A number of hers wind up being vocalized.
      "Incidentally, if I could enthrall ponies and make them do whatever I wished, a number of you would be asking much more intelligent questions..."
  • Delusions of Local Grandeur: Subverted in "0G Network Coverage". Trixie. from whom you'd normally expect this reaction, mutters "Thank Celestia for small favors..." in response to finding out a salespony has no idea who she is. The story takes place after the events of "Magic Duel", which means the Continuum's Trixie is at the start of her transition into becoming The Atoner.
  • Destructive Savior: 'It isn't an official Bearer visit until somepony posts bail.'
  • Devil's Advocate: A very few ponies believe that the Murdocks Press Corps is trying to act as this: loyal to the Diarchy, but purposely arguing against them just to provide another point of view while making them buckle down on their own efforts. The reality is that the Corps are the press voice for Equestria's version of the Loyal Opposition. Whatever the Princesses do is wrong — and those few events which can't be interpreted or misspun that way are simply ignored.
  • Disciplines of Magic:
    • Cutie marks being tied to what a pony can do with their magic, and the wide variety of cutie marks, means that there are almost as many disciplines as there are marked ponies.
    • For racial magic, a basic split is whether a pony deals in making enchanted objects made by their race, or whether they're more common and deal in a kind of Mundane Utility, like a business pony with an internal magic that somehow makes it easier for them to come up with good business opportunities.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: A skilled earth pony can physically manipulate earth and stone to various degrees depending on power. Her was capable of creating a canyon single-hoofedly, but working in tandem, regular earth ponies are implied to be capable of doing everything from causing earthquakes to leveling — or raising! — mountains.
  • Diurnal Nocturnal Animal: Partially averted. Luna and Celestia are described as being locked into night and day, but there's a degree of natural overlap to their normal waking hours and either one can freely operate during the other's time. However, they're both slightly weaker during those "wrong" hours, and too much time spent under the wrong celestial body serves as an escalating irritant: Luna becomes increasingly jittery, Celestia's teeth go on edge. When combined with the loss of sleep from a schedule flip, either sister operating in the wrong part of the day/night cycle for a week or more can become a bomb looking for a place to go off. Luna zigzags this in that she does suffer health problems as a result of her predominantly nocturnal existence, such as recurring issues with fungal infection.
  • Doorstopper: The whole series is one, since Triptych alone is 513,789 words. Some of the side stories can drop as low as 5k, but there's a few of them...
  • Environmental Symbolism: A mild case in the Solar and Lunar Courtyards, used by each of the Diarchy for their press conference areas. The Lunar is perpetually under an illusionary full moon during the night (the largest, closest one in Equestria's history) and, following the events of A Total Eclipse Of The Fun, a total solar eclipse during the day. (Prior to that, it was a daylight moon, an artifact from Discord's era which Celestia tried out every forty years or so, mostly from boredom.) The Solar Courtyard has perpetual dawnlight during all hours under Sun — but at night, it's a midnight sun: position-locked overhead, slightly grey. The temperature is forever off and the place just feels uncomfortable (and sometimes worse): resonance from a thousand years of regret.
  • Exotic Extended Marriage: Polygamy is legal in Equestria, but only if all members of the group consciously consent to the inclusion of extra members. This means they're only slightly more common than interspecies relationships.
  • Fantastic Drug: Several, mostly very illegal:
    • Wake-up juice is the only legal Fantastic Drug we've seen so far. We don't know exactly what it is, save that it's most definitely not coffee, it appears as a creamy yellow liquid, and it's made from plants. It wakes ponies up and keeps them awake.
    • Exam Crystal is made from the same plants as wake-up juice, grown in the heart of a wild zone and charged to bursting with magic. It makes a pony more awake than they've ever been in their lives, but the duration is unreliable and there's a choice of two random afteraffects: either become about 30% more tired than you were before taking it, or pass out until every bit of rest missed has been made up for — even if that means days in a hospital bed. Users have their irises turn yellow until the Crystal wears off.
    • Chemical-herbal Booster Drugs are available for unicorns and pegasi, providing one of the only ways to increase field strength — temporarily: most mixes last about fifteen minutes. Boosts range from five to fifty percent of the user's original power, and the higher the percentage, the more strain the pony is putting on their body: post-dose death caused by the most potent mixes can and does occur. Most versions have visible side effects, no race can take a drug meant for another without getting sick, and no mixes are known which work for earth ponies.
    • Chapter 12 of A Mark Of Appeal adds another: Redtinge is a derivative of the pollen of a rare flower that grows in a handful of places in Mazein. Just being in close proximity can get it into any creature's system, and once in the system it never leaves and gradually but continually amplifies the victim's magic. In minotaurs, this grants greater and greater strength, until after a few months their bodies give out. In ponies, it produces the mark amplification that afflicts Joyous Release and her parents. Fortunately, a cure is eventually found; the root of that self-same plant.
  • Fantastic Measurement System:
    • To measure unicorn magical capability, with the Celestia Meter (Adjusted) for raw power and the Luna Meter (Adjusted) for manipulative ability. Basically, strength and dexterity for horns. Both range from 0 (nonexistent) to 10 (alicorn).
    • A "Celest" is an old unit of height, measured from ground level to Princess Celestia's front left shoulder.
  • Flanderization: Played for Horror with falling into the mark, an extremely common psychological disorder among ponies where the pony allows their special talent to dominate their lives to the point where there is nothing outside the mark. In A Mark Of Appeal, there’s also the discovery of a disease that amplifies the mark magic until it renders the pony unable to do or think of anything that is not the exercise of their talent.
  • Gendercide: Extremely downplayed. Because the Most Special Spell only produces fillies, the mare population has slowly increased since it was introduced, but there's no risk of stallions going extinct. Currently, the mare population has a 6% advantage on the stallion one — but the gap will eventually stop increasing. It's just not going to even out until somepony finds an equivalent spell which can basically create the pony equivalent of the Y chromosome.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: There are hints of this in the Celestia/Luna relationship, with Celestia as the Beautiful Sister and Luna as the Smart Sister. Knowledge of tickling spots is highly prized.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • Experiments with using platinum as an Amplifier Artifact have always gone this way.
    • In a downplayed example, it has been considered that the existence of The Most Special Spell may be the cause of modern Equestria's mare majority; each use of the spell produces only fillies, and as generations have gone by, with more and more fillies being born and finding love with other mares, yet more fillies have been born, to the point stallions have become increasingly rare.
  • Green Thumb: An aspect of this is recognized as earth pony magic, here called the Cornucopia Effect. Basically, wherever earth ponies work the land, it will begin to respond, even if the environment says it shouldn't. With sufficient effort and pegasi occasionally lending a wing with climate control, any kind of crop can be raised in any soil, allowing a group of determined earth ponies to get an apple orchard going in the desert. Teams can work together to accelerate plant growth, and a few specialists can reverse it to raise bonsai. Better yet, get enough earth ponies together in an area and the soil fertility radius will slowly radiate out beyond their immediate territory, allowing even unicorns and pegasi to create gardens and raise small crops. However, if the earth ponies all leave, the Effect will gradually fade out. (It's been directly said that Ponyville would have two years before full reversion.) And without them, the other two major pony races are limited to what the land will provide on its own.
  • Hairstyle Malfunction: If Celestia or Luna become completely exhausted, their manes and tails will temporarily lose their inherent magic and collapse back into normal hair. (They can also trigger that degree of reversion deliberately by dampening a portion of their power, which requires considerable effort.) In Luna's case, that means light blue strands. With Celestia, the camera quickly points away, and the few ponies who have seen it in the current generation have been given a Death Glare which silently orders them to never speak of this again. It turns out it's a hideous manure-brown tangle of hair that's utterly unmanageable.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Murdocks, the leader of the press voice for the Loyal Opposition in Equestria. (It's generally recommended not to think too much about where being Loyally Opposed to the Princesses would put somepony's belief system.) He always sends representatives to speak for him in public and hides from all inquiries. Those outside the Corps are stuck with assumptions on how old he is, which pony race he belongs to (should he be a pony at all), or if 'he' is even the right pronoun. Celestia knows all three facts, but has never seen his face. Chapter 20 in Triptych pretty much directly states that his employees are under orders to never discuss anything about him: one reporter starts to freak out when the questions begin coming the other way.
  • Height Angst: Celestia hates how much bigger she is than most ponies. She was somewhat taller than average before her own ascension, and then found her height and mass gradually increasing over the next one hundred and forty years, with her begging for it to stop already all the while. Aside from any long conversation leading to neck strain in both parties, there are also multiple purely logistical concerns arising from an entire society built underscale, not to mention how hard it can be just to keep from looming. It's reached the point where she considered legally mandating that all buildings be designed to accommodate her. She hasn't actually done so, but she's considered it — several times.
  • Heroic Mime: Snowflake, usually. He's described as being rather intelligent and his thoughts are expressive, but with the exception of one short story, the only thing he's ever said on-camera are various intonations on "Yeah". (Ironically, the first full multi-word sentence out of his mouth is used to protest Fluttershy not having allowing him to speak with Caramel.)
    • Broken once and for all, in "Scootalift". Snowflake can speak normally: he's just not comfortable with talking to most ponies. The majority of his exclamations are bluster designed to keep him from having to say anything else. By the end of A Duet For Land And Sky, he's been effectively forced into opening up somewhat more, as is appropriate for a stallion who's just starting into a relationship.
  • Homosexual Reproduction: Made possible by a working known as the Most Special Spell. A Mark Of Appeal reveals that castings are available free to married couples who request it from the government — this is done to prevent would-be mothers being taken advantage of by scam artists, since any unicorn can create a glow and use it to fake a casting. However, it only works on pony mares and the child will always be a filly: stallion partners are typically stuck with adoption or finding a surrogate, and any mare pairing wishing a colt in the family will generally have to adopt. Word of God suggests that multiple centuries of this spell's use may have pushed Equestria to a mare majority. It's also noted that there's a mandatory health screening before the spell can be cast. Ponies don't recognize DNA or have a full grasp on genetics, but they do realize some conditions are "in the blood" and more likely to manifest in the children of a female/female pairing.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The chapter titles in some of the longer works follow this trope. Examples:
    • Triptych (art)
    • A Duet for Land and Sky (music)
    • Glimmer (computer programming)
    • A Mark of Appeal (sexual practices, with a few puns thrown in)
    • Split Seed (legal terms related to cases being tried in court)
  • Impossible Leavening: What occurs when Celestia tries baking bread.
  • Jerkass: Flitter, self-justified. She believes ponies blind themselves with complacency and sees it as her job to jolt them into seeing reality through making direct, rude, and what she sees as highly accurate commentary, cutting through the fog just long enough to give her target a chance at escaping the illusions. After all, dragonflies startle ponies...
  • Like Brother and Sister: Spike and Twilight regard each other as siblings. Unfortunately for Spike, this includes Twilight's right to automatically dismiss many of his comments because they're coming from her little brother. This also causes some problems with newcomers to Ponyville: the town's residents openly refer to the two as brother and sister — so those who see Spike first wind up deciding there's a full family of dragons.
  • Logical Weakness: Each race has their own counters:
    • Unicorn horns typically can't be covered by anything more than the hair of a mane or the field can't be projected: devices called restraints can be placed over the horn to prevent all castings. (These are typically metal or heavy wood: it's noted that except for the weakest cases, covering a horn in mud or cloth just annoys the unicorn. And since horns are effectively unbreakable and don't conduct impact well, weak restraints are just rammed against something more solid until they're ruined.) However, it is possible to overcome this weakness with training, at least to some extent; apparently one of Starswirl the Bearded's more impressive feats of magic was casting while wearing a hat, and Luna and Celestia have learned this trick as well, though they keep it a closely-guarded secret and almost never use it.
    • Pegasi are unable to use their own magic if they're fully immobilized, and full-body restraints called freezers exist to hold criminal ones.
    • Earth ponies have four different counters — two are specific to earth ponies, one to pegasi and one to unicorns. Earth ponies can either use their feel to produce different effects in the hope of outdoing the other and winning by cleverness or try to get the land to produce the opposite effect and win through sheer strength of feel. Pegasi can lift an earth pony high enough their feel can't reach the ground and thus can't produce an effect. Unicorns can teleport an earth pony, which momentarily breaks their connection with the earth entirely, causing them to become extremely disoriented for a period of time directly proportional to the earth pony's strength of feel. Considering all that, one begins to understand why they keep the nature of their magic a secret from wider society.
  • Lousy Lovers Are Losers: Discussed. Rainbow puts any potential lover into a 'test' to see if anyone is willing to actually take an interest in her even despite her flaws. Fleur de Lis is of the opinion that such It's All About Me attitude would make Rainbow into a very lousy lover and feels pity for whoever actually does manage to pass the test and sleep with her.
  • Magic Misfire: Touching a unicorn's horn (generally meaning sharp, hard contact) while they are casting will result in backlash due to the magic field being disrupted and striking back against the caster. Depending on how much effort they're putting into their current spell, the effects can range from a blackout with a few sprains over their body (Stage 1), to severe injuries, up to and including broken bones (Stage 2), to instant death by implied grevious bodily harm (stage 3). (There's also a Stage 0, which applies to everyday manipulations and very minor spells: disrupting that usually just drops things on the floor.) These are general guidelines: the degree of backlash can also depend partially on the caster's total strength, with weaker ones experiencing milder effects. However, a Stage 3, which can only happen when a unicorn's horn is displaying a triple corona, will always be fatal.
  • Masquerade Paradox: Earth ponies have access to potent geomantic abilities (enough that a large group of Earth ponies working together can raise or lower mountains or generate earthquakes that bury entire armies), but they never use their magic where the other two tribes can see, pretending that they are limited to physical enhancement and the Cournicopia Effect. They are known to alter histories to hide Earth pony interference, and it's implied that the Earth ponies murder anypony who discovers the Secret or threatens to expose it. It is pointed out by several characters in-story (and extensively by readers in the comments), that this Secret serves no discernible purpose, has probably cost thousands of lives even not counting those directly Killed to Uphold the Masquerade, and may be responsible for many of the atrocities in Triptych. When pressed, Applejack (the only Earth pony who's been queried on the subject) has to admit that she doesn't actually know why the Secret is a secret, just that this is what Earth ponies have been doing for centuries.
  • Nervous Wreck: Unsurprisingly, the Flower Trio, who can always find a reason to freak out. It gets a bit worse in this continuity, as ponies can occasionally lapse into a strong herd mentality. The Trio has been known to go around Ponyville explaining to everypony else just why the population should be frightened — which can set those ponies off, who then go out and trigger still more ponies and before you know it, the entire town is approaching full-scale panic.
  • Partially Civilized Animal: The implied difference between ponies and cows is built into canon here with the phenomena of "tenants"; species that are largely sapient, but which suffer irresistible bestial compulsions that make it impossible for them to survive on their own power. The phenomena is looked at most closely in the fics A Duet for Land & Sky and Brand Loyalty, but the single most in-detail breakdown is found in a March 2021 blogpost by Estee.
  • Points of Light Setting: Only about 6% of the land and 7% of the sky of Equestria is a "settled zone", a place where ponies and other intelligent beings actually live and work. The rest of the continent is all wilderness, often crawling with monsters and extremely dangerous to travel through, and these "wild zones" often separate and isolate individual settled zones.
  • Polyamory: Said to be legal in Equestria, but every party involved in the relationship must consent to the inclusion of every other. Given that, the category of marriage is so rare as to barely exist.
  • Power Incontinence: Luna, as per usual when angry or especially emotional, generally manifesting as thunder, distant lightning strikes, and eyes fading to white, with occasional manifestations of ice on whatever she's touching. However, Celestia has also been seen to set off clouds during a moment of intense emotion and at one point during Triptych, the furious Princess radiated enough heat to degrade marble.
  • Power Source: Gems serve as one for Spike: the amount of flame he can generate is directly dependent on how many he's recently consumed. Different kinds of gems can also have other effects on his body: yellow diamonds are a coffee-level stimulant, while too many garnets leads to drowsiness, and a badly-prepared topaz fritter will make him molt.
  • Power-Strain Blackout:
    • This can happen to any unicorn who overexerts herself. Twilight had nine of them while in school. Rarity manages the feat in Chapter 5 of Triptych after going to the full triple corona.
    • Pegasi can also suffer from this: "If Rainbow Dash Can't Sleep" shows a deliberate invocation of the issue — one intended as an insomnia cure.
  • Primal Fear: Ponies are instinctively revolted by the smell and sight of meat, cooked or otherwise.
  • Precursor Heroes: A Total Eclipse of the Fun gradually reveals that Celestia and Luna were originally part of another sextet. Triptych itself confirms that Star Swirl was the group's Magic, and Zephyra Hurricane was Honesty.
  • Properly Paranoid: All of Ponyville, every time the Crusaders are seen together. The trio doesn't understand why the adults would ever have that kind of reaction.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Griffons' hat, to the point that they refuse to eat prey that isn't suitably aggressive or dangerous. The nastier the animal was in life, the more prized its meat is. Shark is one of their most prized delicacies.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Said to be the case with many marks. Even something as mundane as the Cakes' enhanced ability to bake comes with little side benefits such as being able to gauge the exact degree of oven temperature just by letting the heat wash over them for a second. Battle marks are noted as including enhanced intuition and potential capacity for pulling an Indy Ploy. In general, the effects are minor and don't have a lot of overt magic attached — but magic is exactly what they are.
  • Schizo Tech: Partially averted: Word of God is that Equestria is mostly around a magic-enhanced 1940s, with some gaps — particularly in communications — and a few spell-boosted exceptions. Many devices and conveniences are commonly available, although testing first-generation new products is a habit for the bold. Other things are more towards pure science: film works chemically. A few seem to have made a transition: invisible ink was originally the result of a spell (and one of Star Swirl's at that), but was eventually brought to the point of a chemical reaction — although the spell version still exists, with Luna launching a major casting of the Revealer aspect in Luna's Lottery Lunacy.
  • Slave Race: The Minotaurs used to be one. They still wear nose rings to remind themselves of their past and how they gained their freedom.
    • It's also implied that the ponies, and by extention zebras and the other intelligent species, were as well. At least one individual who looked into the matter came to believe that the original purpose of cutie marks was deeply sinister.
  • The Sleepless: Fluttershy comes close, averaging a little less than three hours per night. This may be an aspect of her talent: as she needs to take care of her nocturnals, she has to be fully awake and alert when they are. Or it could be something else.
  • Strawman News Media: This is a universe where Gabby Gums would be a typical reporter and libel laws have not yet been drafted. The worst offenders are the news corps owned by the shadowy Murdocks, but all kinds of paparazzi become endemic to Ponyville after Twilight's coronation: being the only Princess who basically lives in the open among the general public makes her extra vulnerable. The pro-diarchy press, for their own, engage in a similar amount of fact-checking — that is to say, none.
  • Subtle Superpowering: Talented Unicorns can suppress the horn glow that accompanies spellcasting to be discreet in their actions (although this suppression increases the chance of the spell backfiring).
  • Teleporter Accident: In this continuity, arrival from between pushes aside air, displaces moderate volumes of liquid (which is uncomfortable), and can break any exceptionally thin or fragile solid. Anything presenting more resistance than that will displace the arriving party in a random direction (although never down) until they find enough open room to appear in. And the further a pony goes to find that space, the faster the momentum of that displacement gets. It's called recoil, and it's the reason arrival points have to be kept clear. Only a desperate pony will try to teleport to a place she can't directly see or doesn't have memorized. If you're lucky, you just get jarred a bit. If you're not, ponies could die. Even Princesses are vulnerable: in A Mark of Appeal, Celestia and Luna choose the same arrival point in a train car, head for it at the same moment... and Luna winds up sliding down a wall while Celestia hits the ceiling, quickly followed by the floor.
  • Unconventional Formatting: Most of the magical terminology consists of normal words which are italicized to distinguish them from their usual meanings. And then there's the Other.
  • Vegetarian Carnivore: Naked Lunch notes that griffons are technically omnivores, but at least ninety percent of their diet is meat — and there's a cultural perception that voluntarily consuming too many plants lowers oneself to the status of prey. That rule is a little looser for those ponies of the Republic who think of themselves as griffons — but they can wind up being looked upon with pity or worse, and are reluctant to eat in public. More than a little of their cuisine is an elaborate game of Hide The Vegetables.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 12 of A Mark of Appeal counts as one for the whole Continuum, with The Reveal that Sun and Moon are artificial constructs animated by what appears to be a very advanced Magitek A.I., and that Luna and Celestia's actual mark magic is the ability to interface with those A.I.s.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Rarity, to the point where even the other Bearers have concluded she created it from whole linguistic cloth. Tricks of the Trade Show confirms that this is the case.
  • Willfully Weak: Earth ponies keep their ability to manipulate the physical earth around them a secret from all other races, out of paranoia about what the other pony tribes will do if they learn they have such abilities. Some of Applejack's words and thoughts in Chapters 6 & 15 suggest fillies and colts are taught at an early age that if they ever tell, they might be killed — or at least that it's happened to other ponies in the past.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: When griffons went to war against Equestria in the distant past, foals were not to be harmed under any circumstances, and were to be given new homes if their parents were killed in battle.
  • Xenophobic Herbivore: Ponies view carnivores with intense fear and revulsion. As a result, it's extremely difficult for carnivorous and omnivorous immigrants in Equestria to have access to proper nutrition, since buying meat is all but impossible. The few living in Canterlot have to make do with a few small shops carefully tucked out of sight, some of which technically sell pet food, and a couple of eateries similarly insulated to make sure that the city's herbivorous residents never have to actually acknowledge their presence. In Naked Lunch, when an enterprising griffon tries to set up a butcher's shop to cater to this market, a mob quickly forms to try to shut it down on moral grounds. A mirror of this trope happens across the sea in the griffon nation — the hypercarnivorous griffons see plants as prey food and have parallel objections to produce shops in their cities, making it difficult for their own herbivorous and omnivorous minorities to get their food.

    Tropes present in the side shorts 

  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: "Drunk Little Ponies" veers into this one hard. Every three years, Ponyville holds a festival celebrating homemade alcoholic beverages, which invariably ends with nearly every single one of its residents getting completely trashed and arguing/fighting with one another. Afterward, Mayor Mare explains to Spike that the festival helps ponies air out small disputes and settle them before they can grow more serious.
    • Averted in the case of Spike, whose dragon metabolism burns off alcohol before it can affect him; and Berry Punch, who never attends because she regards the participants as rank amateurs when it comes to booze.
  • All There in the Manual: Played for Laughs in Surge Protectors!, in which the plot is interspersed with excerpts from the company's employee training manual. Several clauses and sections have been added as part of the settlement of multiple lawsuits, so that new hires know exactly what they're in for.
  • Ambiguous Ending: A Condederacy of Dunce Caps ends without confirming whether Diamond Tiara passed her final and just before she begins the conference with Cheerilee and Filthy Rich.
  • A Mistake Is Born: As insinuated in Tricks of the Trade Show, Sweetie Belle was the result of an unplanned pregnancy — her and Rarity's parents had some difficulty in conceiving their first daughter and assumed that they weren't likely to have another kid. Turned out they were wrong.
    "We weren't..." An even longer pause. "...expecting Sweetie." Very awkwardly, "Took us a while before we got you, and we kind of thought — you were gonna be it. Sweetie was..." Stopped.
    She understood the hesitancy: a father who wasn't comfortable with discussing birth, because it might lead into his child considering the activities between her parents which led to pregnancy. Rarity had an excellent imagination, and thus when matters of self-preservation arose, knew just when she had to shut it down.
  • Answer Cut:
    • A Total Eclipse of the Fun skips from the princesses assuming that creating an eclipse won't a big deal to them standing in the ruins of Lunar Courtyard after it causes a mass panic.
      Trial run... it still felt like unveiling a masterpiece before the official gallery opening. But really, what harm could it do?
      (scene change)
      The sisters looked over the wreckage in the Lunar Courtyard.
    • In Chapter 4 of the same story, Luna asks what the problem would be with having Twilight Sparkle write the one-sheet educational briefing on eclipses for distribution to the general public. One location switch later, she gets her migraine-inducing answer. Which included quantum.
  • Arc Words:
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The unicorn noble in "Mechanical Aptitude" is an entitled bigoted jerk who is completely dismissive of Ratchette's abilities because she's a pegasus and ignores her when she tries to warn him that his new Minder is transmitting his secrets to the Flim Flam brothers for future blackmailing purposes. The other ponies she reveals this to tell Ratchette to just let the jerk suffer the consequences.
    • Cartier Anserini, the unicorn avian paleobiologist from Goosed, who only knows about the Crystal Geese from his studies and immediately thinks of them as beautiful, magnificent creatures. He's amazingly contemptuous towards the plight of the ponies actually having to put up with the noisy, foul-tempered, rampantly defecating bastard things, to the point of callously suggesting that they should all be evicted from Ponyville so it can become a goose sanctuary. Needlessly to say, the Bearers and the rest of Ponyville are quite content to leave him to be mauled when he gets too close to his "wonderful" geese.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: Crossing Guard zigzags between this and Beleaguered Bureaucrat: he's competent and can get an impressive amount done under the right circumstances, but the Immigration Department is undersized, overworked, and short-funded. (Luna is working on resolving all three issues.) Being responsible for the majority of non-pony residents in Canterlot is a hard job, one which too often displays visible strain — but at the same time, being able to manage it at all shows just how tough he is. Still, when he gets tired, mistakes can be made...
  • Bad Liar: Caramel, as seen in The Hypocrisy of Tolerance. It's not that the lies themselves are bad. He just can't come up with new ones, and he's been using the same ones over and over for years.
  • Badly Battered Babysitter: Simoon Duster ends up this way in Surge Protectors!.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • At the press conference meant to explain the nature of eclipses to the populace through newspaper articles (which ultimately leads to the government still having to do its own one-sheet educational printing — just for starters), one reporter asks how ponies are supposed to get used to the idea, especially if this is going to be any kind of regular event. Luna then decides that from that point on, all daylight conferences in the Lunar Courtyard will be held under total solar eclipse, just to let that reporter get used to it.
    • During "Once Upon Five Dozen Mattresses," Rainbow gets locked for the night inside a factory that makes the best cloud mattresses known to ponykind. There are 60 different models on display, which she thinks is paradise at first — but it soon drives her crazy because she doesn't have enough time to sleep on all of them.
    • In "Izzy Vs. Personal Space," Izzy's habit of getting uncomfortably close to ponies leads to Posey taking out a restraining order that forces her to stay 25 hoof-widths away from anypony in Maretime Bay who's signed on to it. Her efforts to comply and still do her crafting work leave her physically and spiritually broken, prompting Posey to have the order lifted.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The stallion in Blessing who begs Celestia to save his daughter is named Fajr. It's Arabic, indicating the morning prayers.
    • A mild version in Naked Lunch: two named Canterlot streets are Camargue Road and Przewalski Way — horse breeds. There's also a very obscure one deeper into the story, occurring when the formal name of the Griffon Republic is finally revealed. It's Protocera — and some human folklorists believe the Terran legends of griffons began when people completely misinterpreted the fossilized remains of the dinosaur species Protoceratops.
    • Lazy River reveals that the traditional earth pony period of mourning is called shiva, sharing its meaning with the original Hebrew.
    • In Unnoticed, the old shut-in who even Pinkie didn't know that well was named αόρατος, note  Greek for invisible.
  • Bizarre and Improbable Golf Game: In A Good Trot, Spoiled, the Minotaur ambassador invites Celestia and Luna over to a new Minotaur invention: a golf course! Every single hole, every single shot, goes awry, in the most absurd of ways. This is intentionally produced by magic: the nineteenth hole is a nicely padded pit where the player can take out their aggression by going Golf Clubbing.
  • Blood Magic: Some of Sombra's more unique creations in Post Negative Comments Only have indelible rust stains at the bases.
  • Break Them by Talking: Most of "School of Destruction" is this, with Hitch trying to persuade Sunny that her idea of starting a magic school is potentially very dangerous. Ponies are still experimenting with magic, and they don't yet have any teachers who can explain how to use it. Hitch drives home the point by asking Sunny to decide which city will be blown off the map if/when something goes catastrophically wrong.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In "On the Application of Time and Motion Efficiency Studies to Initial Relationship Formation", Lyra only participates in Twilight's Speed Dating experiment as a means of resetting library fines, because Bon-Bon can't admit she's lost the book. Nearly two years down the timeline in Orange Is The New Blue, Twilight gets Bon-Bon to leave a near-riot at Sugarcube Corner by asking her if she's willing to admit having lost the book yet.
    • Hoovmat is introduced as a maker of shoddy biohazard suits in A Mark of Appeal. The title company in Surge Protectors! hires teens for minimum wage, gives them barely any training, and issues them flimsy uniforms that they have to pay for. The last line of the story reveals that it's a subsidiary of Hoovmat.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Diamond Tiara does this to Snips' mother and Snails' father in "A Confederacy of Dunce Caps", who try to keep their sons apart outside of school because they believe the boys are a bad influence on each other because of what happened with Trixie and because they always fail their tests during the school year. Before then, the parents in question didn't know the failing was deliberate so that they could see each other all the time. Their response? Declaring that one family or the other has to move.
  • Capital Letters Are Magic:
    • Played for Laughs in "Scootalift". When Scootaloo starts pursuing Snowflake, the safest place to be becomes Very Far Away From Him and That Tree she's "hiding" behind, at least until It Finally Happens.
    • In Pinkie Pie vs. the Soufflé, the titular dessert has become That One Dish for Pinkie, who comes to mentally label the highest level of soufflé-collapsing disaster And Then Scootaloo.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Lesbian mare couples are common enough that a spell to allow them to have foals was created, and this has ironically resulted in mares starting to outnumber stallions, so much so that lesbian relationships are slowly becoming more common. The world's not in any immediate danger of seeing stallion extinction, though: Word of God has the current population breakdown as 53% mares, 47% stallions — and taken over generations, things should eventually stabilize.
  • Cat Up a Tree:
    • Or Pony Up a Tree, anyway. This is Rarity's situation in the eponymous story. Ponies are among the worst climbers in the world and know it: unless you're a pegasus, being stuck in a tree too high up for a safe jump generally means being stuck there until somepony shows up to help. Triptych notes similar problems with falling into holes: if the width doesn't allow a chimney-climb, the pony is probably in trouble.
    • None of this stops two non-pegasi from climbing trees to keep away from Scootaloo in Scootalift. Admittedly, there was a pegasus there who could have provided a potential boost. Or as Snowflake notes, they might have just discovered a panic-induced talent for high-jumping. It's amazing what you can do when you're scared enough...
  • Comically Missing the Point: Scootaloo does this in "Cutie Mark Crusaders Alpha Pack Leader", obliviously listing out the basic concept of cutie marks work as what she thinks is the worst way to get one. Note that this is perfectly in-character for her, as she has a similar sort of reaction in canon to the Cutie Mark stories of everyone of the Mane Six bar Rainbow Dash and who tends to lead the charge in the Crusaders continually failing to realize why their crusades just don't work. In fact, she's so prone to this In-Universe that it's made her practically as hated amongst the adults as Diamond Tiara is amongst the youngsters.
    "Get what? That you wind up with a mark because you do perfectly ordinary things you're already good at and love doing, instead of trying cool stuff which nopony's ever done before?" A long pause. "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard!"
  • Covered in Gunge: Happens to Celestia and Luna at the end of Princesses Produce Persistent Plumbing Problems. When the plumber they hire to fix the pipes in the castle discovers that the magic in their shed mane/tail hairs is causing all the trouble, he makes them clean out the whole system on their own.
  • Cue the Rain: Rarity invokes this trope in Pony Up A Tree — deliberately. It's her final way of proving that Rainbow is lurking on a cloud overhead, because the weather coordinator can't resist a good feed line.
  • Dartboard of Hate: Celestia is very curious to get a look at Murdocks' face, mostly because she wants to make one.
  • Destructive Savior: "It's not an official Bearer visit until somepony's posted bail."
  • Determinator: Snowflake's mark and special talent, with the weight representing the burdens he has to shift. When he sets his mind to something, it's highly recommended to get out of the way.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Twice in A Total Eclipse of the Fun:
    • Go ahead and demonstrate an eclipse in the Lunar Courtyard to a few ponies selected from both palace staffs, just to see how the public might take it. There's no way anypony would be freaked out by the sight of Luna performing a working which seems to be blocking out Sun... and cue riot. (To be fair, Luna asked for the demonstration as a means of finding out if any ponies would have bad reactions before the sisters brought the phenomenon to the general populace. It was better to discover the problem then and there — but neither anticipated the actual panic.)
    • An angry Celestia later fires those who started the first panic, which leads into a second instance of this trope. And thus the world's most incompetent counterrevolutionary cell was formed. When she eventually discovers all the layers of what had happened, she treats the prior gap in her knowledge as a personal failing. Luna makes a point of saying Celestia isn't omniscient (even if the older sister sometimes briefly manages to make her fall for it) and that there was no way to see this coming, but Celestia keeps insisting that she should have seen more. There may be a bit of a Guilt Complex there.
  • Dirty Cop: Officer Cropski in One Tenth Bit abuses his authority to harass Rarity. By the end of the story, it's revealed that he's doing the store owner a favor through trying to embarrass her so badly that she'll never return. It also backfires, as Rarity's friends go a little higher up the ladder than his.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Tends to happen quite often, such as in Fly-Thru Library Service. As a result of delivering a book to Rainbow Dash on the balcony of the library tree, Twilight finds herself dealing with patrons up there all the time because they don't want to go inside. She finally snaps and throws the entire contents of the library out on the lawn — including the floorboards, most of which get reduced to splinters in the process.
  • The Dreaded:
    • The Cutie Mark Crusaders are this for most of Ponyville's population. Ponies keep away from them like they were juggling nitroglycerin, even when they aren't.
    • Princess Luna, on the other hand, terrifies just about everyone. Word of God states that the scariest line in Celestia's diplomatic arsenal is "Let me go see what my sister thinks".
    • Mr. Flankington is this in any setting where food service becomes remotely possible. He can empty out a banquet hall in nine seconds flat, and that as an invited guest.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: The griffon in "Naked Lunch" who tries to open a butcher shop in Canterlot in a very public location is considered an idiot by Luna and Crossing Guard, but Luna claims that he actually raises a good point. The meat-eating residents of Equestria shouldn't be forced to buy meat in back-alleys and pet-shops just because meat freaks out ponies.
  • Endangered Soufflé: The arc plot in Pinkie Pie Vs. The Soufflé, which has Pinkie attempting to bake her first successful baking of the stubborn dish for her master piece: the dish which will let her shed the "apprentice" from "baker" once and for all. It doesn't exactly go as first planned. Or second, third, fourth... It eventually turns out that Pinkie is subconsciously sabotaging her attempts, because she's scared that becoming a true baker will mean having to leave the Cakes, who're the only family she really has.
  • Familiar: Discussed in Unnoticed. Incredibly rare in the setting, familiars are less partners than they are living channels. They also don't last long; channeling someone else's magic instead of their own doesn't do their bodies any favors.
  • Fantastic Racism: Sonic Rainbigot introduces Canterlot Unicorns Need Equal Treatment, later described in Luna's Lottery Lunacy as "the largest, best-organized, well-funded, and most delusional group of self-promoting racists on the continent." (It's also noted that they were originally named Canterlot Unicorns Negating Traditional Swears, but for some reason, decided that name wasn't working out.) Naked Lunch firmly establishes them as a unicorn superiority group which is forever trying to claim the victimization of a persecuted majority, and extends their racism to the other sentient species: they would love to see Equestria's borders closed (along with the expulsion of all non-ponies, citizens included), and a few members are so fanatical as to refuse usage of anything not created by unicorns. Which admittedly makes it hard to take pictures which might work in their favor: turns out cameras were invented by minotaurs.
  • Fantastic Slurs:
    • One of the worst things an earth pony or pegasus can say about a unicorn is to tell them they're "horning in": it's basically calling that pony a powermonger who doesn't care about Harmony, based in a time when some unicorns tried to use their magics to take over. In the modern day, some unicorns will toss the slur at other unicorns if they think the target pony is getting full of themselves — but if anypony else uses it, screams of racism just might follow.
    • Pegasi occasionally get hit with "land swooper", a leftover from the era of sieges and raiding parties: it's calling that pony a thief or pirate. However, the term is also used as the name of a Las Pegasus sports team. Pegasi are also, occasionally, called "feather dusters", though usually only in the minds of the unicorn nobility.
  • Flat Character: In-Universe. It's very easy for ponies to slip into the roles that their cutie marks represent and never branch out beyond them.
    • In The Hypocrisy of Tolerance, Rarity and Fluttershy discuss the possibility of becoming nothing but the virtue of their Element. Luna assured Rarity that it can't happen... unless a Bearer believes it could. Or wants it to.
    • This is further explored in A Mark of Appeal, to a horrific extent: the pollen of a certain magical flower, which boosts the innate magic of those exposed to it, results in the cutie mark of an afflicted pony literally taking over the pony's life, with utterly disastrous results.
    • In One Tenth-Bit, the demented Officer Cropski seems to be of the opinion that a cutie mark oftentimes represents the worst aspects of a pony, a case of projection where, at the end, his mark of three iron bars turns out to be especially prophetic.
    • In Mint Condition, we see a pony who's absolutely fallen into his mark (and without the influence of Red-Tinge): for Blank Canvas, the only important thing in the world is Art. Social niceties can go hang, sleep can wait, and the only advantage to food is that passing out from hunger every five minutes is less conducive to producing Art than one might think. Patronage is important, but only so that he can create more Art. And so on...
  • Forbidden Friendship: Snips and Snails' parents believe that each is a bad influence on the other. The only place Snips and Snails can spend time together is school. They repeatedly fail their exams on purpose so they can spend summers together in remedial classes.
    • The Cutie Mark Crusaders haven't quite reached this state, yet, but it's a close thing, and both Applejack and Rarity are seriously considering at least forbidding their siblings from having anything to do with Scootaloo.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: Referenced in title by For Nightmare Night We Are Going As Ourselves, where the Mane Six are stranded until morning after a mission in a faraway town, with little money and no food. Upon discovering a high-class Nightmare Night masquerade party, Rarity has them crash the party by pretending to be themselves (with Twilight pretending to be a pegasus pretending to be her). Plenty of Your Costume Needs Work ensues, along with disturbing revelations about what several non-Ponyville ponies think they know about the Mane Six, mostly courtesy of tabloids.
  • Forced Sleep: Averted. In "If Rainbow Dash Can't Sleep", Twilight outlines just how difficult a sleep spell would be.
    Twilight Sparkle: — you want me — to reach into a pony body — creating an overload of fatigue poisons in every single cell from a starting point of absolutely nothing — while simultaneously not just overriding the brain's natural cycle, replacing it — and you think that's going to be easy?
  • 419 Scam: Twilight gets to read the Equestrian version of a 419 in Dear Friend, after Spike fires off a number of ersatz scrolls following the ingestion of "griffon-made canned lunch meat". The scroll in question comes from somepony asking for aid in recovering twenty million bits deposited in Ponyville, and is signed "Sucker Bet."
  • Friend to Bugs: Snails is effectively the Fluttershy of invertebrates, able to communicate with and even befriend them.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In-universe example in Blessing. All of the Unwanted False Faith in the princesses began with a joke:
    Fine... then I'll swear it on Luna's horn. Happy now?
  • Hate Sink:
    • In-Universe, the Crystal Goose species, as unfortunately returned to Equestria in Goosed. Big, strong, hyper-aggressive, violently territorial (to the point that Fluttershy translates their name for their flock as "Owns Everything"), almost stubbornly stupid insatiable gluttons who have the least-efficient digestive system in Equestria and so leave a copious trail of unspeakably nasty feces in their wake. Their myriad names range from Ultionum Prandium (Griffonian for "Vengeance Lunch" — keep in mind, Griffons normally refuse to eat anything that they don't respect) to "Grey-Winged Shitbuckets". The textbook covering their existence notes that they went "suspiciously extinct" as soon as the Crystal Empire vanished, with the "suspiciously" being underlined three times for emphasis. Notably, they are a parody—and only mild exaggeration—of the real-world Canada Goose.
    • To those who know them, Sweetbark and, as of Anchor Foal, Photo Finish are this both In-Universe and out. The former is Ponyville's official vet, who maintains a "perfect success rate" by forcing Fluttershy to take on any client who looks even the slightest risky — meaning Fluttershy is the pony who has to perform all of the traumatic euthanasia jobs that being a vet requires, and is often cheated out of even getting financial support for it. The latter is a crooked fashion agent who uses fine print shenanigans to cheat her models out of getting any of their hard-earned money.
  • Historical In-Joke:
    • As revealed at the end of Luna's Lottery Lunacy, Celestia had to ban tulips at some point in the past millennium, apparently because a strong pony herd mentality turned a fad into an economic bubble burst. It's a reference to Tulip Mania, a case where something very similar happened in real life. In Chapter 4 for A Mark of Appeal, Ambassador Torque Power of Mazien tries to fight his way to Joyous while carrying a bouquet of tulips (among many others), and one of Celestia's first reactions is that she has to get them out of sight before anypony else spots them, along with wondering where he got them because she thought she'd had all the suppliers closed down. Apparently Canterlot has an underground illegal flower trade.
    • In One Tenth-Bit, Officer Cropski's badge is obscured with wax. There was a historical means of obscuring the cracks on a plate or stoneware while in the store, while when the purchaser got home, they'd discover the imperfection upon requesting the dish be cleaned. Items sold with wax were thus cum cera, and without: sine cera, or sincere. While this etymology is generally dismissed out of hand for the most part, it does make for a cute pun.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Diamond Tiara hates ponies who have enough power to get things all their own way. At least when they aren't her.
  • Implausible Deniability: Caramel's explanation for how he could afford the latest piece of Magitek after claiming financial problems? He won a raffle! Then Flitter calls him out. And it is glorious.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Twilight needs cash. Twilight has just received clearance to legally teleport with up to three ponies. Twilight has also noticed how unpleasant Ponyville winters are. Cue the posting of flyers advertising Twilight's Escort Service all over town.
  • Insistent Terminology: If Celestia and Luna are sharing the morning meal together, the Solar Kitchen calls the result "brinner". The Lunar staff refers to that same meal as "dinfast". About two seconds after that, pots begin to fly. In a later story it's mentioned they had to officially ban both terms in an attempt to preserve the kitchen budget.
  • Insomnia Episode: "If Rainbow Dash Can't Sleep...", which was written because the author couldn't sleep.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: In-Universe, at the end of Goosed, Fluttershy is about the only one upset by the fact that the migrating Crystal Geese are heading to Protocera from Ponyville, and so will probably be eaten into extinction again by the griffons.
  • King Incognito: Ratchette is a member of the oldest and most powerful House of pegasus nobles on the continent — and would much rather be a mechanic in Ponyville. She's actually told a few of the local ponies, but only if she was sure they would either understand or just laugh it off.
  • Lethal Chef:
    • Mr. Flankington. Aside from his infamous "Saddle Arabian delicacy," Cutie Mark Crusaders Alpha Pack Leader demonstrates how his test kitchen has the literal ingredients for a town-wide biohazard. Oddly, for most of the timeline, he was The Ghost of Ponyville: he's mentioned as being in the crowd in front of Sugarcube Corner during Orange Is The New Blue, but he was never described or heard to speak — until Twilight's Escort Service: a male pegasus stallion in late middle age, with a dark green coat, red eyes, and a mark showing two crossed, bubbling test tubes. Word of God is that he's meant to be a gentle tribute to Plankton, with his restaurant constantly losing money until tourist season hits and unsuspecting travelers who assume any eatery must be run by somepony with a cooking mark wander into exactly the right location for proving themselves horribly wrong. He truly doesn't mean any harm: he just can't get a recipe right to save his life and possesses a good amount of self-delusion regarding his efforts. The next one will surely work out...
    • If the food preparation phase counts, we can add Celestia and Luna to the mix. In "Princesses Can't Cook", the sisters attend their first culinary lesson. The results are edible: it was the creation stage which managed to blow up most of the kitchen. Twice.
    • A more minor version in 100% Move = 50% Fire, when Pinkie Pie sees Twilight's original kitchen.
      Well, I can see you're alive, but I'm not sure how ...
  • Lethal Joke Item: So there's a spell. And all it does is change the color of anything available to a hue of the caster's choice. Harmless, right? Well, what if you took a few random spins of the color wheel on every visible dress in the Boutique and the effect never wore off? How about using it on food? Making ponies look Red and Black and Evil All Over? And that's just the beginning for the possibilities...
  • Letting Her Hair Down: In A Mark of Appeal, Celestia reveals her real mane to Joyous Release to try help Joyous relax. The mane that earlier in the story, Celestia had all but declared a state secret. This just highlights how the current attempt to cure Joyous is doing nothing of the sort.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Snowflake and Fluttershy are explicitly described as "near-siblings" in The Hypocrisy of Tolerance. Triptych revealed that they had both been delivered by Doctor Gentle, and he recommended that they meet when Snowflake first moved to Ponyville. There's no romantic connection: they simply have a lot of things in common.
  • Logic Bomb: Luna launches one (referenced by name) in A Total Eclipse Of The Fun which nearly takes out an entire press conference. Upon being repeatedly challenged to prove that she's incapable of enthralling ponies, she agrees that the never-seen ability would in fact be a danger and refuses to release anyone from the gathering until they've proven they can't do it — through attempting (and failing) to use the spell on her. If it doesn't work, she'll simply tell the gathering "I am not enthralled' and let that pony leave.
    "Of course — if you could enthrall me, that would be the very first thing you should make me say..."
  • Loophole Abuse: Comes into play in Kiss a Bearer for a Bit. Having been roped into running a kissing booth with the titular offer during the town fair, Fluttershy puts her Element necklace on Harry the bear and tells customers they have to kiss him, since whoever's wearing it it is technically its Bearer.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: In A Mark Of Appeal, as Celestia says when speaking to Joyous, she the third of seven children; Luna's the fifth. In Triptych, Celestia describes this as a common practice in the Discordian era. After all, everypony had to contribute to the barricades — and if one couldn't go out into the fields themselves, then at least they could have a lot of foals to combat the attrition. It's quite possible that seven was on the low end.
  • Mercy Kill: Fluttershy, as part of her role as animal caretaker, over and over again, taking the burden on herself every time. Made all the worse by the fact that Ponyville's only licensed vet refuses to perform the act (supposedly in defense of her success-only reputation) and sends anything fatal or even somewhat risky to the cottage. Mentioned in Triptych with off-screen example and given extra detail in Five Hundred Little Murders, which was inducted into the Royal Canterlot Library.
  • Money Dumb: Downplayed for Rainbow. She's horrible at budgeting, prone to impulse purchases, and has been known to fly around borrowing money from friends because she didn't remember the need to pick up groceries until after sending the payment for that original Wonderbolts advertising broadside. (She also eats many of her meals while visiting, which incidentally saves her from having to cook.) Everypony knows she can't save any money — but she's been proven as equally incapable of going into long-term debt: as soon as the next pay voucher comes in, the first flight circuit is used to repay everypony. Which leaves her short on cash — and the cycle starts all over again.
  • Morality Pet: Cameo, a jeweled scarab, may be the first thing Diamond Tiara genuinely cares for that isn't herself or her father.
  • The Moving Experience: Somewhat distorted in 100% Move = 50% Fire, which is set near the end of Season #1. The move is very real, but the purpose is to complete Twilight's transition into Ponyville by clearing out the last of her things from her rooms at the Canterlot Archives.
  • Muggles Do It Better: Played with; according to Word of God, one unknown side-effect of the Cornucopia Effect is that Equestrians have absolutely no idea of even the most basic forms of agronomy. Earth pony magic makes soil replenishment and crop rotation non-concerns, and so Equestrians have barely begun to grasp the concept of using compost. This, more than anything, is why Equestrians are so absolutely dependent on earth pony farmers to feed their nation. It's noted that plants grown partially on the magic of the Cornucopia Effect are somehow indefinably less than those grown via pure biology in other nations. Still perfectly nourishing, but a sensitive palate can detect the difference.
  • Mundane Utility: In the story of the same name, Pipp Petals experiments with pegasus weather control magic in order to generate lightning so she can keep her phone charged all the time. It does not go at all well.
  • Mythology Gag: Triptych - Converging Lines: Igneous Pie's rock is the geode that gave Rarity her cutie mark:
    A monolithic rock which he had personally been working on for four years, shipped out to a repeat client with a promise of payment after delivery, had been dropped. Somewhere.
  • Never My Fault: It's amazing how much the world conspires against Diamond Tiara, making it seem like the kind, considerate, perfect filly is responsible so many of her undeserved hardships.
    • In A Confederacy of Dunce Caps, she gets to see it from the other end, as Snips's mother and Snails's father are each so convinced that the other's vile hellspawn is corrupting their own perfect darling that both eventually insist that the only solution is that the other family has to move out of town.
    • The Cutie Mark Crusaders also object to everyone presuming that they're the ones who cause all the problems when things just keep happening to them.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Snips and Snails fail their exams on purpose so they can attend summer school together. Their parents believe that each is a bad influence on the other and have forbidden them to spend any time together outside of school, so they came up with this plan to guarantee that they can do so all year long.
  • Old Shameinvoked: In "Blessing", an emotionally-battered Celestia tells a pony that she's cast a spell to try and save a friend, one who was apparently about to die. Something about the nature of the casting means she doesn't even know if it worked. She's not even sure if she was trying to help or punish him — and that spell has never been cast a second time. The guilt has never gone away. It's eventually revealed that the spell was cast on Starswirl, forcing him to reincarnate again and again instead of passing on to the shadowlands.
  • Origins Episode: "Snowflake Shoe-Hare" provides one for the titular character, making his wings into the results of a birth defect injury. (In this continuity, nearly all pegasi foals have hard shells of translucent tissue called caps covering the wings at birth, protecting fragile bones from damage caused by the pressure of contractions. Snowflake was a capless birth who survived.) His unusual build is explained as a deliberate effort to substitute for missing wing surface area with raw power.
  • Paint It Black: The antagonist in "Orange Is the New Blue" possesses an apparently-unique spell which allows her to change the color of any object. Early on, it's used to alter Rarity from her usual white-and-purple into... red-and-black, which quickly turns into a mild Take That! for the flood of identically-hued alicorn OCs to appear on FIMFic.
    "I feel like such a cliché."
  • Periphery Demographic: In-Universe example. Played for Laughs in "Release the Sparkle Cut." Twilight pressures a film director into making a minutely detailed, 11-hour adaptation of an excruciatingly painful-to-read literary masterpiece. The finished film drives pony test audiences to madness but proves to be a smash hit with donkeys, who accept suffering and misfortune as a natural part of life. The studio turns a huge profit and garners a pile of award nominations, and the director's career is saved.
  • Perpetual Poverty:
    • Caramel's is self-inflicted. He constantly buys incredibly expensive gifts for his latest fillyfriend, and thus has nothing left for little things like bills.
    • Fluttershy is in a similar situation due to the costs of caring for all the animals she takes in. Feed costs are high, she has to purchase some rare substances for certain medicines, new medical reference texts come out every year... and some of her clients skip out on their bills in the certain knowledge that she won't take them to small claims court. She has the benefit of owning the cottage and surrounding land outright, but there's always property tax...
    • Something like this applies to Rainbow Dash. While she's always certain to pay off every one of her bills, and never lets a single obligation slide, she's also incredibly bad at saving money, particularly since Ratchette's lovely shop produces such wonderful cameras. She accordingly has a tendency to show up at Applejack's all the time for some good old home cooking.
  • Raised by Natives: "Naked Lunch" reveals that griffons have a cultural imperative which dictates that to bring a child into the world is to take responsibility for raising it to adulthood. If the parents die, someone else must take over — another family member if possible, or an adoptive clan if not. This belief extends to the children of enemies — and in the deep past, when the Republic and Equestria went to war, the griffons would scoop up the foals of the fallen and carry them to new homes in the Republic. Centuries later, this has led to Protocera possessing a significant pony population, nearly all descendants of those original children — and most of them were raised as and consider themselves to be griffons. Equestrian visitors to the Republic who think they've spotted another traveler on the street are often in for a major culture shock. It's also worth noting that this applies to any intelligent species the griffons have ever fought. Which brings up the question of just what other creatures might hold Protoceran citizenship...
  • Read the Fine Print:
    • Trixie does this (against the seller's will) on Equestria's first-ever texting contract in "0G Network Coverage". It's implied not to end well for the salespony.
    • In Anchor Foal, Fleur establishes that she always does this, and warns Fluttershy that anyone who grows edgy, nervous or impatient when you ask to do so is assuredly trying to con you.
    • Taken to a ridiculous extreme in "School Fundrazer." The candy bars that Cheerilee's students are selling have a "Not for Sale in Stores" notice on the wrapper, which can only be read through a powerful magnifying glass. The contract signed by the school board contains this same clause, but Diamond Tiara needs two of those super-strong lenses to read it. Then she has to get three in order to read the ingredient list and find out just how low the quality standards are.
  • Reincarnation: In "Blessing", an ancient spell Celestia is still ashamed of having ever cast forced Starswirl to reincarnate again and again and never pass on to the shadowlands — his latest incarnation is Twilight.
  • Royal Brat: Diamond Tiara, of the Nouveau Riche variety. The beginning of A Confederacy of Dunce Caps makes it clear that she considers wielding her father's money, influence, and lawyers to be her princess-given right. The headgear probably doesn't help.
  • Scrapbook Story: Permanent Record, presented as a series of incident reports written by a Ponyville police officer who has to deal with the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Her sanity doesn't survive for long.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Deconstructed by Diamond Tiara. She gets away with a lot of bad behavior by threatening to sic her father's lawyers on others. Her dad is actually fed up with this and points out that she is hurting his business. He mentions that almost everypony related to her classmates, barring Silver Spoon's family, has stopped doing business with him. Even the Apple family, who still honors their long expired contract due to Filthy Rich's own good relationship with them, won't actually visit his store anymore just to avoid Diamond.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In On the Application of Time and Motion Efficiency Studies to Initial Relationship Formation, Flitter gives this little speech after deciding that Rarity being a whole seventeen moons older than her means the designer is effectively deceased:
      "You've booked passage for a permanent vacation in the shadowlands! You've designed your own funeral shroud! You've closed the shop and had your dumb flunked vet friend teach her birds a dirge! You are an ex-pony!"
    • Luna has a simple question for the room: "Did I err?"
    • The trail blend called Hurry-Up Mix, so named because it inspires ponies to find anything else to eat before she makes that mix again, has certain similarities to dwarf bread. (It's edible — just highly fragrant and almost terminally unbalanced towards grains.)
    • While attempting to fool changelings into thinking she's one of them in "Pinkie Pie Has Infiltrated the Changelings' Secret Base!", Pinkie (and by extension, the changelings) do an adapted reenactment of the psychiatrist scene from Alice's Restaurant.
  • Speed Dating: Don't tell Twilight that you can typically decide if a chance meeting or date has the chance to become more within three minutes, or she just might decide to test the idea with a group of forty-four ponies while making you part of it, Rarity. Just... don't... too late...
  • Stop Worshipping Me: In Blessing, Celestia tries to convince a stallion that she is not, and has never been, a deity and cannot help his dying filly no matter how much he prays to her. She fails. The stallion misinterprets her providing some final comfort to the dying filly with her light as a blessing and prays harder than ever. When his daughter dies anyway, he tries to commit suicide, blaming himself because he "didn't have enough faith..."
  • Stuff Blowing Up:
    • The reason why students from Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns are in the castle in Luna's Lottery Lunacy. The budget wasn't able to cover rebuilding that much of the school for the fourth time. That semester.
    • In "100% Move=50% Fire", Twilight says it's almost traditional to damage some part of the Canterlot Archives once you get into the better portions, which is why there's (still) no railing on the ramp leading up to her old residence.
    • Luna has made ice cream explode. She wasn't attacking it or experiencing any degree of Power Incontinence during an emotional moment: she was trying to make the dessert. Princesses Can't Cook showed her grumbling about the slow method of aeration, to the point where she decided the best way of shortcutting past it was to make the air already within move faster. As in 'internal storm system'. Complete with lightning. Boom. By contrast, Celestia took out the oven in a much more conventional way.
  • Super-Speed: While not too overt in its manifestations, both Celestia and Luna seem to have reaction times well above that of the average pony, and Luna's land speed is far beyond typical.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: "Naked Lunch" makes it clear that Luna does not have a very high opinion of the general pony population's intelligence. The events in the story seem to validate that opinion.
  • Take That!: The first short in the "Elements of Elements" pieces turns into one for the frequently-seen fanfic concept of a seventh Element of Harmony, with Twilight pointing out that while there's a chance such a thing could exist, the Elements only work as a group: they simply wouldn't work if one was missing, and the fact that the known ones always works requires that the current set is entire and complete. Pinkie feels that the multiple ponies galloping all over Equestria claiming to be that seventh are just looking for free drinks and sex. Mostly sex. Word of God is that it's more of a poke at the never-ending flood of seventh Element OCs, many of whom exist solely so they can have sex.
  • Teen Pregnancy: How Derpy got pregnant with Dinky.
  • The Tokyo Fireball:
    • If Rainbow Dash can't sleep...: After the events of the last few years, the mayor uses a "stack of disaster relief forms" for a pillow.
    • Chapter 2 of ''Triptych'':
      • It notes that the national disaster relief fund makes up eight percent of Equestria's budget "in a slow year." Just how much of that goes to Ponyville is perhaps best not thought about.
      • Furthermore, the town bankrupted the nation's fledgling insurance companies in fifteen moons.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Seen in "Pony Go Boom," when Luna hires Trixie to perform at a festival in Canterlot. The grand finale has Trixie getting into a box rigged with explosives, blowing it up, and escaping unharmed. She starts off with six charges, agrees to step up to ten, but then uses twelve without telling Luna. The resulting explosion blows a huge crater into the ground, burns off part of Trixie's tail, and leaves her temporarily deafened, but otherwise she comes out fine.
  • Total Eclipse of the Plot: "A Total Eclipse of the Fun" is built around Celestia and Luna's plans to create an eclipse to celebrate the second anniversary of Luna's Return. (Despite the actual timing of events, the associated holiday is held three days after the Summer Sun Celebration, to give Luna her own time.) This has to be a deliberate, planned event: due to the normal cycle for Sun and Moon, the two celestial bodies are never in the sky at the same time unless the sisters carefully arrange it. Portions of the public don't take well to the proposed celebration, mostly because the Princesses are bringing back something from the age of Discord which blocks out the Sun.
  • Unwanted False Faith: The Princesses, full stop. A number of ponies (and not a small one) see them as entities not only to invoke in vows, but who can be actively prayed to — and they're not. Blessing shows Celestia desperately trying to explain her lack of divinity to a stallion truly in need of a miracle — an attempt which appears to have never worked. On a lighter note, the Cutie Mark Crusaders' reign of terror has led to at least one shrine among Ponyville's realtors and moving supply salesponies.
  • Unwanted Gift Plot: In "Trav(ap)est(r)y", Princesses Celestia and Luna repeatedly attempt to rid the palace of a hideous ancient tapestry made before Luna's banishment that depicts the weaver's idea of what happened during the final battle against Discord. Half the problem is it was made by a famous artist (who was better off sticking to sculpture) and many consider it a "historical heirloom". All of those attempts fail one way or another until Celestia gives up and secretly burns it... and is subsequently presented with an exact duplicate from the Diarchy-hating paparazzi. She then gives the duplicate to the griffon ambassador, who in return gifts her with a kinetic sculpture of a griffon repeatedly disemboweling its fallen opponent.
  • Walking Wasteland: Confirmed by Word of God as a possible public application of earth pony magic. It's much faster than the Cornicopia Effect, but affects a much smaller area and costs a lot more energy. In addition, any pony who wants to use this effect in a settled zone will be pitting their voice against the collective voices of all the earth ponies who are maintaining the Effect. And much like attempting to shut down a cutie mark, going against your fundamental nature has a cost. Any earth pony who uses their magic in this way will get very sick, and keep getting sicker unless they shut their attempt down.
  • Wrench Wench: Ratchette. Very attractive, almost perpetually dirty, happily tinkers with whatever's available, designs her own tools, and she's the only qualified repairpony for devices and conveniences in all of Ponyville. There's just the minor matter of her being a pegasus.
  • Yes-Man: Every single resident of the Crystal Empire at the beginning of Post Negative Comments Only. They remember enough of Sombra's reign to fear the retribution that will follow any display of less-than-perfect devotion and competence. Cadance just wants them to think for themselves.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are:
    • This comes as a group effort towards Twilight from the other Bearers in "100% Move = 50% Fire" after the real reason for her procrastination in completing the exit from her former Canterlot Archives apartment emerges. She's so afraid of saying or doing one wrong thing and losing everypony, she's been hanging onto a retreat point.
    • There's also a bit of it in Chapter 4 of Orange Is the New Blue, again directed towards Twilight, this time from Rarity: Twilight works out a possible emotional motive for the outbreak of color-change castings, immediately starts to second-guess herself because she feels she's no good at judging such things, and Rarity gently tells her how much she's changed since arriving in Ponyville, very nearly using the trope name in the process.
    • Iron Will directs this towards Flash Sentry in The Bounce Test after presenting evidence revealing that Flash's true Talent which makes him a lightning rod for danger that keeps others safe makes him the perfect Guard rather than the unlucky failure he (and everyone else) believes he is.
  • You're Not My Father: Lyra divorced her Abusive Parents and now considers Bon-Bon to be the only family she has.

a price to pay for every gift...