Pinkie Pie: You're looking for Rainbow Dash? If I was her, I'd be at Sugarcube Corner! Of course, if I was anyone I'd be at Sugarcube Corner. Hey! I have an idea! Wanna go to Sugarcube Corner?
The Cutie Mark Crusaders go zip lining in another attempt to get their cutie marks (which ends with the fillies in freefall over a tree after their zipline snaps) and end up covered in tree sap again. It happens a lot. Apple Bloom decides it's time to go see somepony else for cutie mark advice, and Scootaloo has just the pony in mind:
Apple Bloom: Applejack!
Sweetie Belle: Rarity!
Scootaloo: Come on, guys; I said "cool". You know what I'm talking about. She's fast. She's tough. She's not afraid of anything.
Apple Bloom/Sweetie Belle: Pinkie Pie?
Scootaloo: No! The greatest flier ever to come out of Cloudsdale.
Apple Bloom/Sweetie Belle: ...Fluttershy?
Scootaloo: NO! Rainbow Dash!
With her scooter hitched to their little red wagon, Scootaloo proceeds to lead the other two into town, running into the other main cast ponies along the way and learning that Rainbow Dash is likely hanging around Sugarcube Corner. Their stories are as follows...
Applejack: As a young filly, Applejack didn't want to spend her whole life on the apple farm, so she set out to live with her sophisticated Aunt and Uncle Orange in the big city of Manehattan. After a short time acting and living as a sophisticate (helped very little by the size of her dinner portion), Applejack started to feel uncomfortable and homesick. One morning, while looking wistfully out the window, she saw a rainbow leading back to Ponyville. Taking this as a sign, she headed home to Sweet Apple Acres, where she discovered that she had earned her cutie mark by embracing her apple-farming heritage.
Fluttershy: When Fluttershy was at summer flight camp, she was the weakest flier out of all the young pegasi there. As such, she was bullied a lot, until one day when Rainbow Dash stood up for her, challenging the bullies to a race. During the race, Fluttershy was knocked off a cloud and sent plummeting towards the ground below, only to be saved by a swarm of butterflies. Having never met earth animals before, the young pegasus was instantly enraptured, but a sudden explosion and rainbow shockwave in the sky scared them all away. Fluttershy carefully coaxed them out of hiding, discovering her instinctive rapport with animals (and her cutie mark) in the process. Though she never found out what happened with the pegasus race...
Rarity: While the young unicorn was trying to perfect costumes for a school play, her horn's magic activated and began pulling in the direction of some mysterious source (dragging the rest of Rarity along with it). When it finally came to rest, she found herself standing in front of a huge rock in the middle of nowhere. She found this destiny underwhelming to say the least, until a nearby explosion and rainbow wave broke it open and revealed that it was full of colorful gemstones. Inspired, she incorporated the gems into her costumes, wowing the crowd and earning her cutie mark.
Twilight Sparkle: Inspired by the sight of Princess Celestia raising the sun in the Summer Sun Celebration Twilight resolved to learn all she could about magic. Her parents decided to enroll her in the princess's special academy for talented unicorns. While Twilight was excited at first, she was nervous at the thought of passing the entrance exam. During the exam itself, she was set the task of hatching a dragon egg, and all her best efforts failed her. Just as she was about to admit defeat, a far-off explosion and rainbow wave in the sky startled her into losing control of her magic. The egg hatched (revealing a certain purple-and-green baby dragon...), but her uncontrolled magic ran wild, causing chaos in the examination room. Celestia herself intervened, calming Twilight down and offering to become her personal mentor to help the young unicorn tame her astonishing powers. Topping off this amazing day was the appearance of Twilight's new cutie mark.
Pinkie Pie: Back when Pinkie was a filly, she lived a dull, humorless existence on a rock farm with her family. One day, an explosion and rainbow shockwave shook the farm (and her ramrod-straight mane and tail), followed by a rainbow. The beautiful sight of the rainbow was enough to make Pinkie smile for the first time, and she was determined to make everyone around her just as happy. So, the next day, she threw her very first party just for her family. The results made her parents and sisters smile for the first time, giving Pinkie her new purpose in life and her cutie mark.
Rainbow Dash: During the aforementioned race with the bullies at flight camp, Rainbow Dash discovered she had a real need for speed, and an even greater need to win. In an attempt to get herself ahead of one of her opponents, she flew faster than ever before, creating the very first Sonic Rainboom in the process. Needless to say, this impressive maneuver won Rainbow the race and her cutie mark.
At this point, the main ponies besides Rainbow Dash realize certain similarities in their stories, and come to the conclusion that the Sonic Rainboom that led to all of their cutie marks was thanks to her. With this realization, the main ponies all share a group hug. While Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle are heart-warmed by the stories and the love the main cast show each other, Scootaloo remains unimpressed, and much to her dismay, she too is dragged into a hug with her friends. Twilight's letter to Celestia says that she learned that you may not be as alone in this world as it feels, and that your future friends may be closer than you think.
- Ad-Break Double-Take: The line "Well, Ms. Sparkle?" is said immediately before and after the commercial break.
- Affection-Hating Kid: Scootaloo is unimpressed by all the "sappy" stories told by the Mane Six, and not happy about getting pulled into a group hug at the end of the episode.
- An Aesop: You and your friends may have a special connection with each other, even before you meet for the first time.
- Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Aunt Orange tousles Applejack's hair in a condescending but affectionate way when she comes to Manehattan and says "y'all."
- Audience Surrogate: Played with; the inherently saccharine nature of the episode is made more palpable with Scootaloo (and Spike) deflating the excessive sweetness.
- Backstory: The entire point of the episode is to explain how the Mane Six got their cute marks.
- Batman Gambit: According to Word of Faust◊, Princess Celestia suspected Twilight as an Element Bearer and substituted the regular entrance exam with the dragon egg test to confirm.
- Beyond the Impossible: Everypony thought that the Sonic Rainboom was impossible until Rainbow Dash performed it.Rainbow Dash: Most people thought the Sonic Rainboom was just an old mare's tale but on that day, the day I discovered racing, I proved that the legends were true; I made the impossible happen!
- Big Applesauce: Manehattan.
- Big "NO!": Scootaloo's reaction to Fluttershy offering to sing another (cutesy) song.
- Big "YES!": Twilight, both in her flashback and as she's telling the story.
- Bindle Stick: In Applejack's flashback, as she pumps off to Manehattan.
- Breathless Non Sequitur: "And that's how Equestria was made!"
- Brooklyn Rage: "Outta the way, ya rube!"
- Fluttershy's filly self is taller and ganglier than the designs for the others, which seems to support her claim that she's a year older than Pinkie Pie.
- "Sonic Rainboom" was about Rainbow Dash's second Sonic Rainboom, and that she performed the first one when she was a little filly. This episode shows that very first one. The music played during the race also happens to be same music that played during "Sonic Rainboom"'s Sonic Rainboom.
- Captain Obvious: There's this gem from Fluttershy:Fluttershy: You'd never guess, but when I was little, I was really shy.
- Challenging the Bully: It's revealed that Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy were both bullied by three colts who first appeared in "Sonic Rainboom". Rainbow Dash stood up for Fluttershy and in the process ended up in a public race against the three bullies, fighting "for Fluttershy's honor".
- The City vs. the Country: Applejack relates how when she was younger she decided to leave Ponyville and live the sophisticated life with wealthy relatives in Manehattan.
- The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: Everyone really was at Sugarcube Corner. Including the ponies to whom they'd already spoken.
- Cold Open: "I've never even heard of a pony zip-lining before."
- Comically Missing the Point: The Cutie Mark Crusaders, as usual, but especially Scootaloo. One can't help but admire her unwavering dedication to ignoring the Aesop.Scootaloo: Argh! These namby-pamby stories aren't getting us any closer to our cutie marks! They're all about "finding out who you are" and boring stuff like that!
- Coming of Age Story: The CMC ask the Mane Six how they gained their cutie marks and found their place in the world.
- Commercial Break Cliffhanger: One of them interrupts Fluttershy's story just as she falls from the clouds. Though since she clearly lives to tell the story, it's sort of a Did You Die? situation.
- Connected All Along: The conclusion of the episode is a revelation that the Mane Six were connected by Rainbow Dash's sonic rainboom.
- Continuity Nod:
- In her flashback, Rarity says "Dumb rock!" similarly to the way her sister Sweetie Belle said "Dumb fabric!" in "The Show Stoppers".
- At her first attempt at a party, Pinkie Pie plays the same music she later on uses to lead away the parasprites in "Swarm of the Century".
- The Mane Six's Cutie Mark stories all contain allusions to the elements they represent in the Elements of Harmony:
- Applejack had to be honest with herself that she belonged at Sweet Apple Acres.
- Fluttershy calmed the woodland creatures with kindness.
- Rarity was generous with her gift for finding gems and used them in her costumes for the school talent show.
- Pinkie Pie shared her newfound talent for throwing parties to make her family smile and laugh.
- Twilight Sparkle passed her exam by hatching her first friend outside her immediate family.
- Rainbow Dash demonstrated her loyalty to Fluttershy by challenging the bullies to a race.
- Cool Big Sis: When asked who was the coolest pony in Ponyville, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle both initially answer with their sisters. Awwwww...
- Cooldown Hug: Princess Celestia calms down Twilight using one of these, although it's more of a shoulder-tap than a hug. After all, they can't really hug being ponies and everything.
- Country Mouse: Farm Girl Applejack trying to live in Manehattan experiences culture shock.
- Department of Redundancy Department: At the end of the episode, Rarity says that the mane six have been "BFF's Forever" without knowing it.
- Dissonant Serenity: Spike sits there blinking happily when enlarged, and then chomping on his tail and gurgling when turned back to his normal size. Justified because he's a newborn and was asleep in the egg, so he has no idea of the chaos going on.
- Dispel Magic: In Twilight's flashback, Princess Celestia intervenes to calm down Twilight from her surge of Wild Magic, dispelling all its effects — including changing back her parents from potted plants to their normal form, and returning Spike to his baby size.
- Distant Reaction Shot: Scootaloo's Big "NO!" is accompanied by a zoom-out from the exterior of Sugarcube Corner as her bawling is heard from inside.
- Fantastic Aesop: The episode's moral about how everypony has an inherent, magical connection to their friends really doesn't have that much of an application to the real world.
- Fish out of Water: Applejack, realizing she was too country to live in Manehattan without changing herself into someone she isn't.
- Flashback: Six of them, one for each of the mane cast.
- Foreshadowing: Fluttershy briefly mentions how Rainbow Dash was the reason she got her cutie mark.
- For Want Of A Nail: If Rainbow Dash didn't perform her first Sonic Rainboom as a filly, Fluttershy wouldn't have discovered her ability to talk to animals, Pinkie wouldn't have smiled for the first time and thrown a party for her family, Applejack wouldn't have discovered she truly belongs in Ponyville, Rarity wouldn't have become The Fashionista, and Twilight would've blown her entrance exam.
- Framing Device: The episode is essentially a series of flashbacks linked together with Cutie Mark Crusaders asking the mane six about their cutie marks.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: At the end of Fluttershy's song, in the background you can see filly Rainbow Dash diving behind the tree line just before the Sonic Rainboom goes off.
- Full-Name Ultimatum: Pinkie's mother addresses her as "Pinkamena Diane Pie".
- Fun Size: Newborn Spike◊. Extra tiny. Extra cute.
- Furry Reminder: When Princess Celestia invites Twilight Sparkle to be her personal protege in her flashback, her dad nods and whinnies.
- Gilligan Cut:
- Scootaloo insisting they need to talk to Rainbow Dash instead of another pony, and cut to them talking to Twilight Sparkle.
- Sweetie Belle suggests they ask her sister, Rarity, where Rainbow Dash is. Cut to them being used as mannequins for her dress-making.
- Group Hug: A consolidated hug between the Mane Six and Cutie Mark Crusaders.
- Growling Gut: No sound is heard, but Applejack's tummy can be seen silently growling from hunger near the end of her story due to the small Manehatten dinner portions being insufficient for her big appetite.
- Haute Cuisine Is Weird: The "ludicrously small portions" variation when young Applejack attends dinner with her Manehattan relatives and gets served a tiny orange kernel of something in brown sauce with a single sprig of wheat.
- Hero-Worshipper: Scootaloo idolizes Rainbow Dash. This is the first episode in which this is apparent.
- Jerkass: The examiners at the School for Gifted Unicorns overseeing Twilight's entrance test, who are not at all patient or kind to a nervous little filly sitting the most important exam of her life. One of them sternly says, "We don't have all day."
- The Monolith: During her flashback, Rarity is dragged by her horn a long distance to a giant boulder, with a fanfare reveal (though she's initially miffed). This also foreshadows her and "Tom" in the second season opener.
- Mythology Gag: The design of Twilight's mom is nearly identical to that of G1 Twilight, save for having white fur instead of the original's pale pink.
- Necessarily Evil: The bullies have no idea that their bullying is ultimately responsible for the bond between the Mane Six from getting their cutie marks at the same time, but it is still essential to this end.
- Noodle Incident:
- Scootaloo mentions that a surprising number of their past Cutie Mark attempts have ended with them covered in tree sap. We never see any of those...or find out how they ended with them covered in tree sap.
- We're given no indication of how the Crusaders got stuck hearing Twilight's story, which of course just makes it funnier.
- No Ontological Inertia: Twilight's parents and Spike are transformed when she starts channeling uncontrolled magical energy, but turn right back when she stops doing it. It's implied that Celestia reversed the changes.
- No OSHA Compliance: Cloudsdale is a city high above the ground, with no visible barriers to stop pegasi from falling to their deaths. It's a wonder that what happened to Fluttershy doesn't happen more often.
- Non Sequitur: Pinkie Pie ends her Cutie Mark story with one.Pinkie Pie: And that's how Equestria was made!
Scootaloo: Wha... huh?!
- Non-Standard Character Design:
- Pinkie stands out from the rest of her family in her flashback because while she shares the flat mane and tail with them, she's the only member whose coat and mane are brightly colored instead of neutral earth tones.
- Fluttershy's filly design is taller and lankier than any of the others.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Pinkie Pie makes her entrance in this episode by popping into the cart that Scootaloo is pulling, behind Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom.
- Oh, Crap!:
- An innocent harmless example: Twilight Sparkle ending her tale by bouncing around in a manner worthy of Pinkie Pie. She doesn't yet notice the perplexed crowd around her, which does not include the Crusaders.
- The other involves the Crusaders suffering the fallout of their ziplining excursion. Speaking of which:
- Oh, No... Not Again!: When the zipline snaps and the Crusaders find themselves in freefall over a tree.Scootaloo: It's no use. No matter what we try, we always end up without our Cutie Marks... and surprisingly often, covered in tree sap.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Fluttershy's voice actress slips into her Pinkie Pie voice a little bit when singing the "I love everything" song.
- Palette Swap: In Rarity's story, two of the fillies performing in the school play are recolors of filly-Applejack and filly-Pinkie.
- Perpetual Frowner: Pinkie was originally this along with the rest of her family, until the sight of the Sonic Rainboom caused her to smile for the first time and realize her destiny, and the first party she holds allows the rest of her family to smile as well.
- Pit Girls: Fluttershy waves the flag at the race where Rainbow Dash defends her honor.
- Power Incontinence: Twilight suffering from this gave her her cutie mark. She made the entrance jury float, turned her parents into plants, and turned the baby dragon she was supposed to hatch into an adult dragon on the nation's capital before being calmed down.
- Pretty Butterflies: This becomes Fluttershy's cutie mark once she is saved from a Wile E. Coyote-type landing by such a swarm.
- Rapid-Fire "Yes!": When Twilight Sparkle recalls the day that she passed her entrance exam at the Princess Celestia's School For Gifted Unicorns, and also got her cutie mark in the process, she jumped for joy and repeatedly shouting "Yes!" while circling and hopping around, to the point that she emulates that in the present day much to the confusion of the Cutie Mark Crusaders and the other restaurant patrons.Restaurant patron: Are you okay, ma'am?
Twilight Sparkle: [embarrassed grin] Uh... yes.
- Reflective Eyes:
- The butterfly young Fluttershy looks at is briefly reflected in her eyes as she starts singing.
- When young Pinkie witnesses Rainbow's rainboom which in turn makes her smile for the first time, the rainbow trail reflects into her eyes.
- The Reveal: Rainbow Dash's first Sonic Rainboom is responsible for the rest of the Mane Six earning their cutie marks.
- Riddle for the Ages: Why was Spike's egg in Canterlot?
- Ridiculously Cute Critter:
- The animals Fluttershy encounters in her flashback.
- Baby Spike in Twilight's.
- The Mane Six themselves were this in their flashbacks.
- Rule of Cute: Filly versions of the Mane Cast and Spike.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: On Fluttershy's part following her Scene of Wonder, the sound of Rainbow Dash's first Sonic Rainboom causes all the animals to run away in fright; this allows her to discover her cutie mark talent of animal whispering and calm them down.
- Separate Scene Storytelling: It turns out that all of the Mane Six's cutie mark stories occur at the same time, with one thing in common.
- Series Continuity Error: The egg Spike hatches out of during Twilight's entrance exam is purple with darker purple spots, but in "Friendship is Magic, part 1", Spike said his egg was purple and green. However, this could be that Spike is an Unreliable Expositor (or Twilight corrected him in front of Fluttershy).
- Applejack's failed attempt at blending in with the "high society" of Manehattan is a definite nod to Pygmalion and My Fair Lady.
- Princess Celestia's School For Gifted Unicorns. Twilight's uncontrollable psychic powers also have shades of Dark Phoenix. Plus she describes the reveal about the Rainboom as "uncanny".
- Rarity's encounter with a giant monolithic black rock. Complete with a fanfare that sounds similarly familiar. This part also brings to mind the scene in The Road to El Dorado in which the main duo also come before a great big rock (Rarity's complaints about it have a similar tone to Tulio's) after thinking that it led to their main goal (which in both cases, turns out to be true). The part in which some seismic disturbance (the Sonic Rainboom) causes the monolithic black rock to break apart to reveal its main point (jewels) also could bring to mind the 2001 based "monolith" cartoons from The Electric Company.
- While Celestia is speaking to Twilight, Twilight goes "Huh?" in three rising, more astounded tones of voice, similar to the Tenth Doctor's Catchphrase of "What? What? What?"
- Twilight's glowing eyes and Celestia calm down hug are reminiscent of Avatar: The Last Airbender where Aang would go into the Avatar State and Katara would have to calm him down.
- At the start of Rainbow Dash's race, a song similar to the theme tune of "The Wizard of Speed and Time" short film plays.
- Pinkie Pie's opening description of life on the rock farm is reminiscent of the opening of Nineteen Eighty-Four.Pinkie Pie: There was no talking; there was no smiling. [sigh] There were only rocks.
- Skewed Priorities: While this is nothing new with the Crusaders, the fallout of their zipline attempt, in which they could have had a few broken bones, or even died, takes it to a crazy extreme:Apple Bloom: See anything?
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Pinkie Pie, in her own helmet, appears in the back of the Crusaders' wagon while they ride through the town square.
- Stealth Pun:
- Applejack went to the pony equivalent of the Big Apple to get her cutie mark.
- Her aunt and uncle have orange-related Cutie Marks. Applejack learns she's best at her farm instead of in Manehattan, so it's like comparing apples and oranges.
- Twilight's moral states that everyone has a special connection with her friends. What was the mane six's connection? A Rainbow Connection.
- Applejack in Manehattan comments she's so hungry she "could eat a—".
- Sticky Situation: At the beginning, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle both give a bro-hoof to Scootaloo, but the latter still has tree sap on her hooves, and they end up stuck together.
- Transflormation: Twilight turns both her parents into potted plants during her bout of Power Incontinence.
- Trash Talk:Sport Pegasus: You're going down!
Rainbow Dash: In history, maybe! See you boys at the finish line!
- When She Smiles: The sight of Rainbow's Sonic Rainboom in the sky causes Pinkie to smile for the first time, and inspires her to share that happiness with her family.Pinkie Pie: I'd never felt joy like that before! It felt so good, I just wanted to keep smiling forever!
- Wild Magic: In Twilight's flashback, when startled by the Sonic Rainboom, the young unicorn has a bout of uncontrolled magic that turned her parents into houseplants, turned a baby dragon into a giant dragon, and came close to leveling the royal palace.
- The World Is Just Awesome: Filly Fluttershy comes to this conclusion when she ends up on the ground for the first time. She even sings a song about it.
- You All Share My Story: The Mane Six learn that, before they even met, they were already connected by their cutie mark stories and Rainbow Dash's Sonic Rainboom.
- You Shall Not Pass!: A non-lethal example - Fluttershy stopping the CMC's so she can let some ducks cross their path.