Long-Running multimedia franchise that started humbly with a large horse doll with a brushable tail and mane made of doll hair.
Originally created by Bonnie Zacherle, My Little Pony officially started out as a toy line published and developed by Hasbro in 1982, following their 1981 My Pretty Pony toys. The legal stuff was finalized in 1983, which is probably why Hasbro counts it as MLP's birthyear and not 1982. The different incarnations of My Little Pony are commonly separated into "generations", as classified by collectors, based on the toy line. It is a history of friendships, of cartoons of varying degrees of sweetness, of little girls achieving their dreams and of grown men defying gender roles.
Generation 1 started humbly with the release of six pony toys in 1982. Very soon, the toy line became a hit of absolutely enormous magnitude, and quickly became a highly recognizable part of pop culture. To this day, even after all the relaunches and re-imaginings of the franchise, the original 1980's toys remain what most people among the general population immediately picture when they hear the phrase "My Little Pony". The toyline was eventually followed by two Television specials, one in 1984 and another in 1985, and a feature-length movie in 1986. A TV series, My Little Pony 'n Friends, was released later the same year and ran for two seasons before being cancelled in 1987. These cartoons all took place in Dream Valley, part of Ponyland (or Ponyland, part of Dream Valley, or Ponyland, also known as Dream Valley — no two writers agreed on this point) where the ponies — with the help of a young girl named Megan often have to fight off some Monster of the Week. Contrary to what one might expect from a work of fiction based on the sugary sweet toys (and contrary to the perceived image of the franchise that the public seems to hold), these cartoons were mostly based around the theme of adventure, and featured some surprisingly dark and lethal villains, especially in the earliest episodes. There were also comics released in the UK that used the same characters but had their own canon. The toys themselves often had short stories pertaining to the ponies in the box.
In 1992 Hasbro released My Little Pony Tales, a Slice of Life series which was set in its own continuity and ran for a single season. Often mistakenly referred to as "G2", it's technically still part of G1, even though it has nothing to do with the various Dream Valley/Ponyland cartoons. The show took place in a universe pretty much identical to our own with the obvious exception that everyone is a multicolored pony, and focused on things normal kids deal with. It notably set the trend of having the main setting be a town called Ponyville.
Generation 2 actually began in 1997 when Hasbro gave the toys a major redesign. The toys were now taller, slender, and more "horse-like". The new designs were not well met, and this version only lasted a year in the US, though it continued for a few more years in Europe. In addition to being the shortest lived toy line, G2 is notably the only one without an Animated Adaptation, though there were comics and a video game.
Hasbro went back to the stockier builds in 2003, marking the beginning of "Generation 3". Instead of a TV series, Hasbro opted to release a series of Direct-to-DVD movies and shorts. The setting is once again Ponyville, but this time with a slight fantasy element to it. G3 is known for being the lightest and "pinkest" of all the incarnations. No villains, conflicts are rare, and there's, well, lots of pink, but it had a certain charm to it. Regardless of the quality of the animated adaptions though, G3 proved to be a well needed financial success after the poor reception to G2. In 2007, Hasbro made the controversial decision to reduce the number of characters, in a franchise long known for Loads and Loads of Characters, to seven. This led to a soft reboot which retained the original G3 look and was called "Core 7" by fans. Another soft reboot a year so so later, which fans call "G3.5", featured the Core 7 ponies in forms similar to Ponyville plastic molds. The reboot was not well received, and the cartoons in particular were met with criticism. The era finally came to an end in 2009 after the release of Twinkle Wish Adventure of G3.5, and Once Upon a My Little Pony Time which is linked to the Newborn Cuties variant of Core 7. At this point most casual observers had written Ponies off, but it wouldn't be the end of the franchise.
Not by a long shot.
"Generation 4" started in 2010 with the release of the TV series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic developed by Lauren Faust. The ponies were noticeably redesigned from their decreasingly realistic proportions, sporting large eyes, tiny muzzles, bodies that are proportionally small for their heads, and Moe quirks — but generally considered cute nonetheless. At its core, Friendship Is Magic has the fantasy and adventure elements of G1, the Slice of Life stories of Tales, much of the cast are re-imagined G3 ponies , and episodes typically feature life lessons about friendship at the end of most episodes. Faust developed a new setting called Equestria, a Fantasy Kitchen Sink with its own mythology and history, with the town of Ponyville being the home of the series' mane six heroines. Stories range from comedic slice of life to family-friendly adventures. In any case, the cartoon became an unexpected hit with a colossal Periphery Demographic of teens and adults of all genders. Hasbro capitalized on the success of the show by giving Friendship is Magic an Expanded Universe with assorted comics and books. For greater detail, see the Generation 4 page. The primary show ended in October 2019, but the comic series continued for about two years past that. 2020 also saw the release of My Little Pony: Pony Life, sometimes referred to as "Generation 4.5", a Continuity Reboot featuring the same characters but with much more stylized and Super-Deformed designs, more abstract and sometimes cubist-like backgrounds, and a greater focus on absurdist comedy.
"Generation 5" is notable for being the first generation to exist in the same continuity as a previous one, as it is set in the distant future of G4 Equestria. It launched with a CGI movie named My Little Pony: A New Generation on September 24, 2021, to be followed by a 44-minute special in Spring 2022 and a cartoon series in Fall of that year.
An extensive guide to the toy line and a detailed episode guide for all the toys before G3 series can be found at (naturally) Dream Valley. Etherella's Scrapbook has info on the ponies, along with info on them in the cartoon and comics.
1st Incarnation ('n Friends):
- My Little Pony TV Specials: These are a pair of half-hour TV pilots that started it all. Fair warning, they are both Darker and Edgier than one might expect of this subject matter. In one, the ponies face an Evil Overlord who happens to be the trope namer for The Night That Never Ends, and in the other they face a violent, drug-addicted mage. Yes. Really.
- My Little Pony: The Movie (1986): After the pilots, we have this. In this movie, a trio of semi-competent witches cover all of Ponyland in the Smooze, a living wave of concrete which blankets the lands. Will the ponies be able to stop it? Oh. There's also a subplot about Baby Lickety-Split and Spike being on the run after they ruin a ballet recital.
- My Little Pony 'n Friends: This is a direct sequel to the movie. This series featured the ponies going up against more villains and other life-threatening situations.
- My Little Pony: Two unrelated sets of comics ran throughout G1.
- A number of books unrelated to the comics or cartoons that were based on the toys.
- My Little Pony Tales: My Little Pony meets Slice of Life. Take 1. Different continuity from the previous four.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Gardens: A Raising Sim in which you get to raise a little pony.
- A set of comics released only in Europe.
- My Little Pony (G3): Direct-to-DVD movies and shorts. My Little Pony meets Slice of Life. Take 2. Not very well received in general but it has its fans.
- Once Upon a My Little Pony Time: The two animated shorts starring the Newborn Cuties (in this case, the babyfied version of Core 7 ponies). Wasn't well received.
- Numerous books seemingly set in a separate continuity from the cartoon.
- Several comic books based off the toy canon.
- A kid's stage show starring people dressed in pony costumes.
4th Incarnation (Friendship is Magic):My Little Pony (Generation 4): The page for Friendship is Magic in general.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: What happens if you inject My Little Pony with fantasy adventure, the usual Slice of Life style, and a dash of Anime Tropes. This time, it was well received on levels far surpassing everyone's wildest imagination.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: What happens if Friendship is Magic is shifted to a high school setting in the human world. Originally controversial, but has grown in reception with fans.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: A movie featuring Twilight Sparkle as she travels to a world where she is transformed into a human and attends High School with her friends re-imagined as humans. Also a novelization: Through the Mirror.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks: A sequel to Equestria Girls where a Battle of the Bands takes place. The Rock motif is very reminiscent to another of Hasbro's old properties, Jem.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Friendship Games: A sequel to Rainbow Rocks where the school faces another in the titular friendship games, which include Archery, Motocross, and Roller Derby.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Legend of Everfree: A sequel to Friendship Games where the class attends Camp Everfree and strange things start happening.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Magical Movie Night: A sequel to Legend of Everfree consisting of three separate stories.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Forgotten Friendship: A sequel to Magical Movie Night featuring Sunset Shimmer trying to find out why no one remembers her as a hero and still believes her to be a villain.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Rollercoaster of Friendship: A sequel to Forgotten Friendship where Rarity gets a job at an amusement park and invites her friends, but then they start disappearing.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Spring Breakdown: A sequel to Rollercoaster of Friendship where the girls go on a cruise for spring break, but discover magic running amok.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Sunset's Backstage Pass: A sequel to Spring Breakdown where the girls go to a concert, but Sunset Shimmer discovers the day is endlessly repeating itself.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Holidays Unwrapped: A collection of six Christmas themed shorts.
- My Little Pony: The Movie (2017): A movie based solely on the TV series. While the Equestria Girls Spin-Offs are Direct-to-TV/Direct-to-DVD, this is the series' first actual feature film.
- My Little Pony: Best Gift Ever: A Christmas themed special based on the TV series.
- My Little Pony: Rainbow Roadtrip: A special based on the TV series where the Mane Six investigate when the town hosting the Rainbow Festival becomes drained of color.
- Adventure Ponies!: A Web Game based on Friendship is Magic. A Platform Game done in 8-bit style.
- My Little Pony (Gameloft): An app from Gameloft based on Friendship is Magic.
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW): A comic series from IDW Publishing that premiered in November of 2012. It has original stories with the same tone as the show.
- My Little Pony Micro Series: A companion series also from IDW that spotlights different characters from Friendship is Magic. Ran for ten issues from January to December 2013.
- My Little Pony: Friends Forever: Another companion series from IDW begun in January 2014, focusing on interactions between characters.
- My Little Pony: FIENDship Is Magic: A companion miniseries from IDW released in 2015, focusing on the origins of the villains.
- My Little Pony: Legends of Magic: Another companion series from IDW begun in April 2017, focusing on exploring the setting backstory.
- A series of chapter books focusing on each of the main characters. See the G4 franchise page for details.
- The Journal of the Two Sisters : A Defictionalization of the diary of Princess Celestia and Luna during the start of their reign, along with the diary written by the main characters during season 4.
- My Little Pony Collectible Card Game: A Trading Card Game based off Friendship is Magic.
4th Incarnation and a Half (Pony Life):
- My Little Pony: Pony Life: A Spin-Off of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic using the same characters in a cutesy, modern art style.
- My Little Pony: A New Generation: A CGI movie. Set in Equestria's future after it's been torn apart by Fantastic Racism, it introduces Sunny Starscout, an optimistic Earth Pony who embarks on an epic adventure with her new friends, including the Unicorn Izzy Moonbow and Hitch Trailblazer. Originally set for a theatrical release, but the COVID-19 Pandemic forced a change of plans. It was released on Netflix on September 24, 2021.
- A 44-minute special, set in between the movie and the series. Planned for a Spring 2022 release on Netflix.
- A cartoon series, continuing the adventures of Sunny and her friends. At least two seasons are planned, with the first one having a tentative release window of Fall 2022 on Netflix.
The My Little Pony franchise provides examples of:
- Adapted Out:
- Over half of ponies probably never appear in comics, books, or cartoons due to the huge amount of characters. They have to compress them to a core dozen background characters and even fewer major characters. Characters from "oddball" lines such as the Twice as Fancy ponies, So Soft ponies, and Sparkle ponies were almost always excluded from adaptations, possibly due to their unusual looks. This is especially common with Friendship Is Magic, which contains a lot of Canon Foreigner cartoon only ponies while toy charaters like Firecracker Burst or Cupcake never even appear in the background (though it could be justified in that it's easier to create a random background character than research toy designs).
- None of the G1 dragons besides Spike have ever appeared in animated format. They were prominent in the 80s UK comics but not elsewhere. This is due to the way their toys were sold. In the UK, the dragons were sold with the Princess Ponies, but in the US the Princess Ponies' package companions are the bushwoolies. Although the Princess Ponies were shunned from the animation, the bushwoolies were regulars. Spike was part of the show because he was sold as part of the Dream Castle playset, which was depicted as the ponies' home before they moved out to Paradise Estate.
- Similarly, most non-pony characters such as Kingsley or Creamsicle were never adapted.
- Adaptation Expansion: The cartoons and comics expanded from the admittedly fairly detailed toy descriptions, more so in the earliest incarnation when more information was supplied by said toys.
- All Girls Like Ponies/Cool Ponies: Well, duh.
- All There in the Manual: The G2 ponies' personalities (G2 as opposed to Tales, which is the second show but still considered part of G1 because it's before the first overhaul of the toyline.) The toy packaging goes farther than any other line to tell what the characters are like because it is not supported by a TV show. Even G1 and its longer packaging stories, between describing some adventure and mentioning another pony in hopes you'd buy her, sometimes ended up telling you very little about what the pony in your hands is like. G2 packaging bios may have been shorter, but they were all about telling you who this pony was as if it were the only chance there'd be to do so; because for the most part it was. Some ponies appear in the "Friendship Gardens" game, and there was a comic series, in the vein of the G1 comics and just as cracktastic but sadly nowhere near as long-lived.)
- Alphabetical Theme Naming: The franchise's three (unrelated) named zebras: Zebnote , Zig Zagnote , and Zecoranote .
- Alternate Animal Affection: Mainly only used in the G1 movie and series. The ponies would nuzzle and lick each other for comfort, as real horses do, which can come off nowadays as a little Les Yay since most media would compare that to romantic kisses.
- Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Traditionally, the only colors to not be used for ponies (odd variations aside) are black, brown, and grey. Friendship is Magic is the first to truly incorporate these colors as well, though somewhat limits it to its male ponies, who aren't nearly as colorful as the females.
- American Kirby Is Hardcore: Inverted, when you compare the series to those issued by Takara in Japan in the 80s. The Japanese toys were cuter than the main line and were bipedal.
- The G1 tv specials were animated by Japanese studios, giving them an accidentally animesque look.
- The design of G3 ponies are essentially G1 designs with an animesque coating.
- G4's cartoon and comics are animesque in style more than character design. They take inspiration from Magical Girl works.
- Anthropomorphic Shift: The ponies have never gone full Funny Animal (though G3 was close to it and the Japanese-only Takara ponies are bipedal) but they have gotten more anthropomorphic with time. Compare early G1 books and the first special with later G1 works: Early on, the ponies lived in barns instead of sleeping in houses, they licked each other for affection, and they were treated more like Talking Animals or Partially Civilized Animals than they later would. As G1 progressed, the characters became increasingly humanoid in their personalities and preferences. They also began wearing clothing and were into contemporary culture, but still they almost never used their hooves as hands. G2 dialed back on their anthropomorphic traits but G3 brought them back even worse. They acted like Civilized Animals and somehow were able to use their hooves as hands. Friendship Is Magic is in a middle ground similar to late G1—they have Furry Reminders and rarely move in a humanoid manner (especially in early episodes) but socially behave in an anthropomorphic manner.
- Artifact Title: The title really only makes sense for the toys, given that the ponies in the cartoons are not little, nor do they belong to anyone. There have been some efforts to justify this, however:
- G1 sometimes has a villain use the phrase mockingly, and in some episodes it was implied that 'Little Pony' was their species name. When compared to horses, the characters are also rather small (being ponies after all).
- Friendship is Magic occasionally has characters use the phrase as a term of affection. Princess Celestia does this the most often, and she tends to be the largest person in the room.
- Butt Brand: The real-life practice of branding horses likely inspired the unique butt-symbols (now called "cutie marks") that each pony has.
- Carnivore Confusion: Certain ponies invoke this. Munchy has hot-dogs on her Cutie Mark and can make hot dogs appear. They're magic hot dogs but it's never specified if they are meat related or not. Horses can and do occasionally eat meat though. Averted in G4, where the ponies are all explicitly shown to be vegetarian.
- Chest Insignia: The franchise's trademark cutie marks are possibly the only example of hip insignia.
- The Dark Age of Animation: The original cartoon was at the tail end of this era, when cartoons were slowing getting better quality, but still seen as disposable entertainment.
- Deadly Ringer: Grogar is one of the franchise's biggest and most powerful villains and has a bell serving as the source of his power, albeit working differently in both of his appearances.
- In G1, Grogar's bell is able to generate magic to attack foes with (including being able to trap intruders in cages). Conversely, another bell within Tambelon, when rung, destroys this bell and renders Grogar powerless.
- In G4, Grogar was banished, and his bell was moved to the peak of a high mountain where no one could get it. A team of villains is sent to retrieve the bell, and it is later used in the finale but not by Grogar, who turns out to have been a disguise.
- Depending on the Writer: The UK comics/cardback stories and American cartoon/cardback stories contrasted each other most of the time, and so most personas were very different across the ocean. A few cases are:
- Wind Whistler. In the UK comics she's a scatter-brained ditz, in the American cartoon she's The Spock and The Stoic. According to her back card, the comic personality is truer to her original personality.
- Lickety-Split/Baby Lickety-Split: In the movie she introduces herself as "I'm Lickety-Split, a baby pony" and is called by name with and without the "Baby" prefix. In the show, her Cutie Mark changes between three and six ice cream cones at times — sometimes from one shot to the next — but she doesn't act or get treated like a different character. Near the end, she is drawn with an overbite to match the "First Tooth Baby Pony" toy of her out at the time. In the comic, Lickety Split is depicted as Baby Lickety Split's mother as the toyline intended, and First Tooth Baby Lickety Split is her near-identical cousin.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- G1 is the only generation to contain humans alongside ponies. The books featured random children, the toys had Megan and her little sister Molly, and the G1 cartoons added Canon Foreigner and The One Guy Danny (Megan and Molly's brother). Eventually humans were phased out and don't seem to exist in the same universe as the ponies anymore.
- Anthropomorphic Shift has caused this to occur to ponies early into G1. Characters never lick each other anymore.
- Year One only contained Earth Ponies. Other races weren't introduced until Year Two.
- The first foals such as Ember and Lucky didn't follow the "Baby [x]" naming conventions and had no parents. Ember doesn't even have a Cutie Mark.
- G1 was the only gen to feature elaborate lines throughout most of the years. Future gens didn't have gimicky lines like Twinkle-Eyed ponies or Sparkle ponies.
- Very early on dragons were treated as servants or even pets. Later on they became treated more on par with ponies and are instead assistants.
- Everything's Better with Rainbows:
- The Ponies' main weapon is a magical item called the Rainbow of Light. There's also a rainbow connecting Ponyland and Megan's home.
- G4 has a great visual shout-out to the Rainbow of Light whenever the Elements of Harmony are activated. The Equestria Girls movies and the Rainbow Power upgrade in the season four finale show that the element-bearers no longer need the actual trinkets to summon it if they're in, well, harmony. It still has to be earned, though.
- Also, rainbows are actually manufactured in factories in Friendship is Magic, by the Pegasi that control the weather. In addition, Rainbow Dash's mane is rainbow colored, and leaves behind a streak of rainbow light when she travels from place to place.
- Expy: Characters are often brought over from previous versions (sometimes with slightly changed names), colors are reused often (especially in My Little Pony Tales) and Name's the Same is very common. However, it isn't quite Transformers: name reuse is quite often throwing a name that was still trademarked at a new character. (For example, G3 Rarity is an irresponsible filly and G3 Rainbow Dash is The Fashionista and calls everyone "Darling." FIM Rarity is basically G3 Core 7 Rainbow Dash, while FIM Rainbow Dash is an athlete whose personality is nothing like her namesake; G1 Firefly and Tales Patch are seen as her counterparts.) A character is often neither named or colored like her true counterpart from a past incarnation. However, certain archetypes keep turning up. You'll find your bookworm, your daredevil and prankster, and someone who's so kindhearted that sometimes being too soft is a problem. She just won't be under the same name or in the same colors.
- Faint in Shock: In "The Runaway Rainbow", Rainbow Dash faints when Rarity says (after skating all around Ponyville and splashing Rainbow Dash with mud) that she wants to do it again.Rarity: That was fun! Let's do it again!Rainbow Dash: Again?! (faints)
- Flat Character: Varying characters to various degrees. The toy line bios don't help, ever since G2 they've been saying less and less about the characters. The Friendship is Magic cartoon heavily averts this, contributing to its popularity amongst critics. The Friendship is Magic toyline on the other hand tells you next to nothing about toy-exclusive ponies.
- Furry Reminder: It's likely unintentional however feral horse bands are mostly female with only one or two stallions and likely several colts. This could explain the lack of males. Adaptations portray the stallions as living separate from the females.
- Generation Xerox: G1 had baby ponies that were expies of adult ponies with "baby" added to the name. They were nigh identical in both design and personality and had (somewhat simplified) cutie marks. The main difference is that they were just a bit smaller. You'd think they were simply the same characters but younger, but they were marketed as the daughters of the adult ponies, with a couple of them shown in this role in the cartoon. A UK comic gives their origin as younger versions of the adult ponies, created from a magic mirror, and shows all of them with their adult counterparts much more often.
- Gratuitous Princess:
- In the eighties, we had the Princess Ponies. There was a grand total of twenty princesses released in the toyline, and that's excluding the queens Majesty and Rosedust. And excluding the many, many, many royal non-pony characters that showed up in the fiction. The early G3 line held off on Princesses for a few years. And then, according to the card backs, it turned out that every Pony is a Princess. For the curious, this refers a case of Loophole Abuse in one of the DTV movies — not wanting to be her friends' ruler just because she found a flower that was the symbol of office, "Princess" Wysteria ended up coronating everybody so they'd be equals again. And everybody means everybody — in the ending of The Princess Promenade it is declared in song "We're glad that everyone's a princess. That's you and you, and yes it's true, that you [pointing at screen] are a princess too!"
- Something*Positive had an interesting take on it...
- Friendship Is Magic:
- Princess Celestia, whose title seriously understates her role. She was going to be a queen, but Hasbro didn't want that because (according to Lauren Faust) Disney's use of "queen" has made that title sound evil (an least before Queen Elsa came along, but Frozen didn't come around until several years after Friendship is Magic premiered).
- The second episode brought us Princess Luna, who shares the same sort of powers and responsibilities as Celestia, and the second season finale gave us Princess Cadance, who... was a bit of a letdown in terms of power in her debut, when compared to the first two. Her role is eventually better defined; as The Power of Love personified, she's basically Pony Cupid and when she combines her magic with that of her true love, Shining Armor, their power increases exponentially and a major Heart Beat-Down is in order. The third season finale gave us a fourth princess, too.
- (Stronger with Age is in effect for the princesses. Their newest addition, although a magical prodigy in her own right, is smaller and weaker than the other three; Cadence was also noticeably smaller in flashbacks from about fifteen years ago. Both of the junior princesses have some growing to do before they can match the power of the millennia-old Royal Sisters...)
- Happy Ending Override: The utopian Equestria that Twilight and her friends worked so hard to create at the end of Friendship is Magic, with all sorts of creatures living in harmony with ponies, has been destroyed by Fantastic Racism in G5.
- HeelFace Turn: Happens with roughly half the villains.
- Improbably Female Cast: As a brand aimed at girls, there aren't all that many guys around. Only five or so exist in G2, and there is one male pony◊ in all of G3, a background pony from the 3.5 Twinkle Wish Adventure. G1 has about fifty male ponies (which is nothing compared to the number of female ponies) and quite a large number of non-pony male characters, but in actual animated media, we get one male pony guest star early on and one episode with the Big Brother Ponies late in the game. Friendship is Magic has at last a larger male-to-female ratio, but even so they'll be mostly background ponies, with Spike and Big Macintosh the only guys who are seen with regularity — even if the fandom's love of Recurring Extras means that to us those background guys are more than crowd filler. Tales averts it entirely, with the main cast female but male classmates and two-parent families as secondary characters.
- Invisible Parents: Baby ponies are epidemic but their fathers are almost never mentioned. G3 doesn't even have males yet baby ponies exist. Some ponies such as Ember and the G3 baby ponies also have no known parents.
- It Will Never Catch On: Franchise creator Bonnie Zacherle's attempt to pitch the idea was originally met with this response from Hasbro, who felt girls were more into cooking than ponies and had to attempt multiple times before finally making the original figures that started it all.
- Later Installment Weirdness:
- Mid-way through, G3 ditched the "baby ponies" naming convention that had existed since G1 near the end. The first few ponies were "Baby [x]" but eventually they scrapped the "baby" part,
- The Core 7 reboot of G3 started the trend of only a few ponies being the main characters. G4 followed suit. Though misc. ponies get released, the toyline mainly focuses on the Mane Six. G4 is also the first line where the cartoons are the main canon. Though the writers still get influenced by Hasbro, the toys are merchandise for the cartoons instead of the other way around.
- Kill 'Em All: As of G5, the Mane 6 and most Friendship is Magic characters are now deceased. Spike, Discord, and some other non-pony characters are possible exceptions, however.
- Manchild: Most of the ponies are adults, but most act barely more mature than the fillies. The maturity levels of the cast go back and forth, as one day it'll be about Rarity traveling to another city herself to further her career as one of Equestria's premier fashion designers, and another will have her and Applejack having a sleepover. Only Tales nails down how old the characters are and has them act like it.
- Long Pants: A variation since they hardly wear clothes. They do this trope with hooves, with legs being the same color all the way down to the bottom of their feet. Certain male ponies in Friendship Is Magic are exceptions however.
- Pony Life and A New Generation completely avert this.
- Married Animals: A figurine depicts Glory and Moondancer as husband and wife.
- Merchandise-Driven: No. Kidding. However, FiM is far more independent from toy lines.
- The Millennium Age of Animation
- The Night That Never Ends: More than once, a villain has had eternal night as the goal. The first TV special, "Escape from Castle Midnight", uses this with Tirac, as did Nightmare Moon in Friendship is Magic as a Mythology Gag.
- No Hugging, No Kissing: In other series than G3 there's the occasional romance, but other than that and the occasional post-wedding kiss in G4 and the Happy Families line in G3 it fits this trope. Romance is especially rare in this franchise due to the Improbably Female Cast. For most of the franchise's existence, same-sex romances wouldn't fly in a kid's show, and even Friendship is Magic, which aired in The New '10s, has only a few cases in the show's last season (one implied but not outright said, one case of Ascended Fanon involving two background ponies, and one ambiguous case in the show's Distant Finale). There's nobody to pair characters with outside Tales for the most part; even FIM tends to keep male characters outside Big Macintosh and Spike (who'd like to avert this trope with Rarity, but it's not happening) strictly as crowd filler. It's to the point that when Hasbro wanted to produce wedding toys, they used Glory and Moondancer, and just referred to Glory with male pronouns on the packaging (she's a girl in all other media and merch.) Cue the jokes about gay marriage having been legal in Equestria since The '80s. It becomes even more confusing why so many ponies have foals but the fathers are never mentioned. The G1 comics handwaved this by saying they're clones, but it's unknown if that explanation is G1 comic-only or not.
- Nonstandard Character Design:
- Ember has the honor of being the only pre-G4 pony without a Cutie Mark. She was the first "baby pony" so she's different from future ones (for example, she is not called "Baby Ember" and there is no "adult Ember" to go along with her). It's possible that the idea that ponies aren't born with Cutie Marks in G4 is a Mythology Gag to Ember. Versions of Ember with Cutie Marks were released, however they were mail order exclusive and aren't her canon designs.
- G2 ponies and Dream Beauties are lanky like horses rather than the more stocky, Shetland pony-esque designs the series usually has.
- Off-Model: In both the toys (endless regional variations) and the Marvel Animation Studios cartoon (endless animation mistakes; see Drinking Game below). Though to be fair, it occurs in every version of the franchise.
- One Steve Limit: Utterly nonexistent. Even within the same generations ponies will share a name or have similar names. There's also baby ponies being named after their mothers.
- Our Dragons Are Different:
- In-verse Spike finds this out in Spike's Search, where he meets dragons that aren't like him; they're large, green, round, and mean. In the pilot special Tirac had dragons which were different from Spike, though at the end, the "Stratadons" and other monsters were transformed back into the harmless animals, ponies, and human they'd once been by the Rainbow of Light.
- In G1 there were other baby dragons besides Spike, however they were only ever adapted into the comics. Apparently dragons can also be pets in G1, and as such Spike is pet (or at least servant) to Majesty in most medias other than the cartoons. (However, in the comics he's just as fully sentient, and treated more as a child than a pet, basically having the same relationship with her that he has with Twilight Sparkle in FIM. G1 Comic Spike also has other dragon relatives he sometimes visits, whereas every other Spike is the only dragon around.)
- In G3, Spike is over 1000 years old but still looks like a baby.
- "Pachelbel's Canon" Progression: The famous jingle, though as it's most often played in 30 second commercials, only the first few notes are heard.
- Pegasus: Pegasi are one of the three main pony races.
- Seahorse Steed: No actual riding was involved, but it nevertheless bears mentioning that the original cartoon got in on the act as well with the Seaponies, their debut involving an infamously trippy musical number.
- Sapient Steed: Well, duh.
- Shout-Out: The idea that unicorns can teleport was borrowed from Dungeons & Dragons. In the original cartoon, it was something all could do (not so the first specials, where it was Twilight's thing only.)
- Sudden Name Change: In G1 the flank marks on characters were called "symbols". In G3 this was changed to "Cutie Marks". It wasn't until G4 that they were given an in-series explanation. In previous generations, ponies just happened to be born with them.
- Sugar Bowl: The setting could not be more magical and happy — normally. And then the Big Bad of the Week shows up...
- Title Theme Tune: The infamous one, which has undergone endless variations to its lyrics over twenty-five years; plus four other theme songs created for the "Friends" part of My Little Pony 'n Friends (see below).
- Unicorns: They can use magic, but it's not as super-effective as you'd think: most unicorns have one power based on their special talent. In G1, where the Sugar Bowl is always under threat of doom, this falls under When All You Have is a Hammer , with the amazing power to make bubbles shown to be more useful than you think.
- What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Subverted with surprising frequency; dragons, Grundles, Crab Nasties etc.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The 80s cartoons are typically full of Loads and Loads of Characters that change every episode, leading several major characters to just disappear between installations. It's especially noticeable in the pilot to the whole franchise; the ponies there are never seen again in animation, even the ones that just run around and don't speak. Sometimes a main-character pony will have the baby version of her shown once ever, or a main-character baby pony will have the adult version shown once ever — if they're really supposed to be mother and daughter, it's clear Social Services Does Not Exist in Dream Valley.