Rarity: ...I've waited all my life...
Fluttershy:...for this moment...
Pinkie Pie:...and I'm not going to...
Applejack:...let it slip by!...
Rainbow Dash:...If it's the last thing I do...
Twilight Sparkle: ...I'm gonna make this...
All:...the best night ever!
The night of the Grand Galloping Gala has finally arrived! Everyone's excited about it being "the best night ever", and hopes for each of their dreams to come true. To recap: Fluttershy wants to befriend the creatures in the gardens surrounding the palaces, Applejack wants to sell apple-based treats to raise money for the family farm, Rarity wants to meet her Prince Charming, Rainbow Dash wants to meet (and hopefully join) the Wonderbolts, and Pinkie Pie wants to live it up at the biggest party in Equestria. Also, we find out that Twilight Sparkle wants to simply chat with Princess Celestia, while Spike hopes to hang out with his friends and show them around Canterlot. As soon as the group arrives at the palace, though, all except Spike run off to set their plans into motion, leaving him all alone...
At first, things seem to be going all right, and at least somewhat according to what the girls envisioned. However, things quickly go wrong. The party-goers don't appreciate Pinkie's enthusiastic nature; Twilight can't get a chance to really have a conversation with the Princess as the two of them have to greet every single guest; Rarity's object of affection, Prince Blueblood, acts like a complete Jerkass towards her; all the animals in the garden run away from Fluttershy, who grows more and more impatient as they do so; Rainbow Dash gets to hang out with the VIP crowd thanks to the Wonderbolts recognizing her, but can't get a moment to talk to them and Applejack ends up making only two sales after about an hour at the Gala - one of which was to Rarity. Determined, however, the ponies pledge to make it the "best night ever".
Things quickly get out of hoof, though. When the party goers reject Pinkie's peppy singing and dancing because it isn't "that kind of party", she assumes that they want her to get even more aggressive and rowdy. Applejack realizes that no one's been buying her wares because fancier hors d'oeuvres are available, so she whips up something more sophisticated. Fluttershy, meanwhile, is physically chasing all the animals around the castle grounds, growing steadily more unhinged as she does so. The whole disaster reaches its boiling point when Applejack carts a huge cake into the ballroom just as Pinkie does a stage dive into the crowd. Pinkie lands onto the cart, knocking the cake into the air. Prince Blueblood uses Rarity as a shield against the cake, whereupon she thoroughly chews him out for his horrible behavior all night. Cornered, the Prince knocks over a statue, which Rainbow Dash quickly catches, only to knock down several columns in the processnote . As the dust settles, Princess Celestia and Twilight arrive on the scene, and just when Twilight thinks it can't get any worse, a stampede of wild animals being pursued by a furiously insane(!) Fluttershy rushes in, causing everyone to panic. The Princess tells Twilight to run, and she does so, her friends following behind. On the way down the stairs, Rarity drops one of her glass slippers. After Pinkie tells her that her prince would surely use it to find her, the horrified Rarity backtracks and smashes the slipper to pieces before fleeing in terror.
The girls meet up with Spike, who's been drowning his sorrows in fried pastry and sprinkles at a local doughnut shop. They all relate what went wrong with their night over a plate of doughnuts, and agree that it was the worst night ever. Just then, Celestia arrives in the shop, thanking the ponies for making it the best Gala ever. Turns out the Gala's always a boring, horrible event, and Celestia invited the six in hopes that they would liven things up a bit, although the chaos that followed wasn't exactly what she had in mind. The episode ends with Twilight realizing that friends can make even the worst situations seem that much better.
- Actually Pretty Funny: After commiserating with Spike over doughnuts and hot chocolate, the Mane Six are able to laugh about what happened.
- Ambiguous Situation:
Prince Blueblood: Miss Rarity! Stop!
- Prince Blueblood's use of "one" when he expects Rarity to put her cloak over a puddle:
Rarity: Oh. Prince Blueblood! How chivalrous.
Prince Blueblood: One would hate to slip.
Rarity: Yes. "One" certainly would.
Prince Blueblood: One's cloak should take care of the problem.
- And again when he expects her to get the door for him.
- And yet again when he expects her to pay for the food.
- An Aesop:
- No matter what the occasion, things don't always go according to plan.
- In Rarity's case, just because somepony looks nice doesn't mean he is nice.
- Even in the worst of times, friends help each other through it. Sometimes, they even come out of the experience looking back on it together.
- Bad "Bad Acting": When Fluttershy sets her first trap.Fluttershy: I'm sooo sorry to have scared you, my friends, but I'm leaving now, so you can all come out! [disappears behind a bush]
- Ballroom Blitz: Call it what you will, but the Gala is clearly a royal ball of some sort and one of the fanciest events in Canterlot... then it all slowly starts to go to hell.
- Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Done oddly in that several of the Mane 6 are shown at various times as wearing shoes on their front hooves, but not on their back hooves.
- Batman Gambit: Princess Celestia admits that she never cared for the Grand Galloping Gala and reveals that she invited the Mane Six because she expected them to liven things up. They never intended to ruin the party, making Celestia's gamble pay off.
- Berserk Button: For Rarity, getting her nice clothes dirty. Prince Blueblood using her as a shield from Applejack's cake is The Last Straw.
- Beware the Quiet Ones: Fluttershy, naturally. She's setting traps, indulging in the evil laugh, and unleashing her unforgettable line, "You're going to LOVE ME!". Overlaps with Beware the Nice Ones.
- Bishie Sparkle: Prince Blueblood has this in Rarity's daydream.
- Bittersweet Ending: Everyone's perceptions about what the Gala would cause for them went horribly wrong. But Celestia seemed to enjoy it and notes that it will be the most memorable one for her, plus give the Mane 6 plenty of stories to tell back home, and the Mane 6 plus Spike and Celestia end up hanging out at Donut Joe's and have a really good time.
- Bookshelf Dominoes: With Columns, leading to the climax.
- Box-and-Stick Trap: Fluttershy tried to catch a rabbit this way, using (what else?) a carrot as bait. She ended up catching the groundskeeper instead.
- Breather Episode:
- In the grand scope of the series, this lighter episode about the gala is right after the Mood Whiplash of "Owl's Well That Ends Well" and the Black Comedy "Party of One", and right before Discord and "Lesson Zero".
- Compared to most season finales, this is a relatively tame one; it's not a two-parter, and the fate of Equestria isn't at stake.
- Broken Pedestal: The Grand Galloping Gala itself, which was seen by each of the Mane Six as a way to fulfill some sort of goal, but turns out to be a stuffy, boring event that's way too crowded with other guests to do any of their goals. Prince Blueblood also fulfills this for Rarity.
- Carrying a Cake: Twice.
- Soarin' carrying the apple pie; it's saved by Rainbow Dash.
- Applejack bringing a big cake; the tray is kicked by Pinkie Pie, and the cake ends in Rarity's face.
- Caught in a Snare: Fluttershy, self-inflicted.
- Comically Missing the Point: When Pinkie Pie is informed that this is not that kind of party, she takes it in the wrong direction.Pinkie: Oh! These ponies don't want a party... they want a PAR-TAY!
- Continuity Nod:
- Pinkie's straight hair makes an appearance, but poofs up again because she's happy.
- In her Imagine Spot during her part of "At The Gala", there's a whole line of (palette-swapped) ponies wearing Pinkie's dress from "Over a Barrel".
- Spike wears the tux he's seen wearing in "Feeling Pinkie Keen", but without the top hat because in that episode Twilight failed to produce one with her magic.
- Cool Crown:
- Rarity's ensemble for the Gala includes a rather regal-looking tiara.
- Rainbow Dash's ensemble includes a gold laurel wreath.
- Cringe Comedy: The climax of the episode when the Mane Six have just about destroyed the Gala with their antics. Even Princess Celestia lets her composure slip, and on some level the scene is still funny.
- Crowd Song: The ponies' arrival at the Gala is marked by one of these, which doubles as a Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number.
- Defied Trope:
- Didn't Think This Through: Applejack's whole plan for the Gala is to try and raise money for Sweet Apple Acres by selling her home cooking at the Gala. Never stopping to consider that such fancy parties usually include free hors d'oeuvres laid on for the benefit of the attendees in the first place, or that "hoity-toity types" like the nobility aren't likely to buy such food anyway. She herself realises this when she figures out why her efforts are failing.
- Disaster Dominoes: How the mane cast ends up destroying the Gala.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Prince Blueblood dropping an ear and suggestively raising an eyebrow with his mane tousled by a breeze, followed by Rarity saying "[he's] even better than I imagined."
- The Dog Bites Back: When Blueblood tops off his unchivalrous behaviour by using Rarity as a shield against the mass of cake, Rarity goes in a furious tirade at the terrified prince. Subverted since it turns out he's only creeped out by her getting cake on him, but Rarity just goes with that and shakes the whole thing off on him to his horror.
- Don't Ask, Just Run: When the most powerful alicorn in the land must give this advice to the most powerful unicorn in the land...
- Doomed New Clothes: Downplayed since the Mane Six had worn their dresses before for Rarity's fashion show and Rarity wore hers for a Celestia visit, but all their clothes get damaged in the ensuing chaos.
- Dramatic Deadpan: Celestia quietly telling Twilight "Run."
- Dramatic Thunder: Fluttershy doing her Evil Laugh.
- Drowning My Sorrows / Drunk on Milk: Spike does this with doughnuts. It even comes complete with an I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough! exchange.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- This was the only season finale to not close the episode out with a big musical number (until seasons 6, 7 and 8), instead just featuring the girls telling each other about their respective mishaps for the night.
- This episode is the first and only season finale to not be a two-parter (aside from "Magical Mystery Cure" and "The Last Problem"), and is also not based in adventure, nor is a Big Bad present.
- Enemy to All Living Things: This episode inverts Fluttershy's Friend to All Living Things status, because the animals run away from her when she tries to befriend them at the Gala.
- Epic Fail: The gala is a disaster because it was engineered to be so by Celestia.
- Everybody Laughs Ending: At the doughnut shop because they're finally having fun.
- Evil Laugh: Fluttershy. No, really. Really. It's loud. It even gets Dramatic Thunder and a proper Rearing Horse pose... which she has trouble landing.
- Face Palm: When Twilight worries about losing the mice-turned-horses for the carriage, Rarity does everything but point out the obvious.
- Face Plant: Fluttershy plows face-first into a bush when trying in vain to catch the critters in the garden during Pinkie's song.
- Finish Dialogue in Unison: See the page quote.
- Prince Blueblood is prissy and regal like Rarity, and demonstrates what a jerk she isn't. Where Rarity is generous to a fault despite how she appears, Prince Blueblood is a complete Jerkass who cares only about himself.
- Fluttershy encounters animals that are shyer than her, Pinkie's troubles come from ponies that must party the right way, the guests are too proud to eat AJ's food, Rainbow loses the Wonderbolts to people louder and more attention-seeking, and the schedule works against Twilight.
- Food End: The episode (and season) ends with the Mane 6 and Celestia having a meal with Spike at the donut shop.
- Foreshadowing: Twilight's attempt to recreate the fairy tale enchanted-carriage-and-horses archetype is a mild foreshadowing of the gala itself — everything starts off as expected, but falls apart soon afterward...
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: As the stampede enters the castle, Celestia briefly flashes a smile before telling Twilight to run.
- Furry Confusion: Twilight's plan to magically create horses to pull everypony's carriage... and Rarity's alternate solution when it goes wrong. Even Spike gets in on the fun when he attempts to direct the carriage.
- The Girl Who Fits This Slipper: Defied when Rarity smashes her dropped slipper rather than deal with the prince again.
- Gone Horribly Right: Princess Celestia invited the Mane cast in hopes that they'd liven up the Gala, or at least hoped that they would do so after she knew they were all coming. (The events of "The Ticket Master" make it look less than entirely planned.) They prove so lively that the Gala is destroyed by their antics. However, Celestia still considers this an improvement over how the Gala would have gone without them, so it's a Downplayed version of the trope.
- Groin Attack: Part of Pinkie Pie's "Pony Pokey" performance. Pity the poor piano-playing pony. Even better, his piano playing jumps up a few octaves when he gets hit.
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Lampshaded.Spike: (knocking) Aw, c'mon, you guys! Let me in!
Rainbow Dash: Sure thing, Spike!
Rarity: Heavens, no! We're getting dressed!
Applejack: Dressed? Er... beg pardon, Rarity, but... uh... we don't normally wear clothes.
- Heroism Addict: Rainbow Dash flirts with this towards the end of the episode. To be precise, she wants the Wonderbolts' attention and so bucks Caesar into the air and catches him on her back (in a very suggestive — for ponies — position). Nopony notices, and she flings him aside in frustration.
- Heroic Vow: The ponies each resolve to make the evening the best night ever.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Fluttershy falls for her own net trap.
- Human Shield: Prince Blueblood makes Rarity into one when a flying cake comes their way. She is definitely not amused.
- Hype Backlash: The mane cast's failed expectations are an In-Universe example of this.
- "I Can't Look!" Gesture: One of the guests covers her eyes with her hooves when Rarity gets hit with the giant cake.
- "I Want" Song: A variation with "At the Gala". The Mane Six state what they wish to happen at the gala.
- I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough!: Spike and doughnuts.
- It's the Best Whatever, Ever!: The title, and a recurring motif throughout the episode. Even said by Celestia herself at the end.Celestia: That was the best Grand Galloping Gala ever!
- Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: By night's end, every one of the Mane Cast except for Pinkie Pie is missing at least one of their shoes.
- Love Hungry: Fluttershy when the animals reject her repeated attempts to get close. She gets scary when they ignore her.
- Lyrical Dissonance: Pinkie's "Pony Pokey" song is happy and upbeat until you realize the lyrics are about things going From Bad to Worse for the Mane Six.
- Match Cut: Four of these occur during the Time Passes Montage with Applejack.
- Mood Whiplash: The Mane Six start going through this during the "Pony Pokey" song. It gets the most evident when Fluttershy screams "COME OUT!" during her segment.
- Musical Pastiche: "At The Gala" is based on "Ever After" from Into the Woods.
- Nice Hat:
- Applejack's ensemble includes a hat similar to her usual Stetson, but with some apple-themed details under the brim.
- Pinkie Pie's ensemble includes a cute little little pillbox hat.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
- The Mane Cast's forays into Trying Too Hard to make the night the Best Night Ever universally just make the night worse for them and those around them. Rainbow Dash in particular literally breaks a lot of stuff when trying to save a falling statue.
- Also, Opal scaring away the mice turned horse at the beginning.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
- Given that Fluttershy is ordinarily one of the sweetest characters on the show... if not the sweetest... it's quite surprising when she goes crazy.
- When Rarity destroys part of her gala getup on being told her prince was sure to find her...
- After the Gala has been trashed and it goes From Bad to Worse when the garden animals start to run amok, Celestia's response is to lean down to Twilight and whisper "Run!"
- Oh, Crap!: The Disaster Dominoes elicit this reaction from everypony (except maybe Celestia). Also, the squirrel Flutterrage catches.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
- It seems that Ashleigh Ball has some trouble singing in Applejack's voice, instead she uses her own singing voice and puts a slight accent on the lyrics that are more spoken than sung.
- Rainbow Dash isn't immune to this either as her voice loses some of its usual rasp although it's barely noticeable.
- Picky Eater: Prince Blueblood and many other stuck-up ponies.Prince Blueblood: My royal lips have touched common carnival fare!
- Pie in the Face: Rarity gets a whole cake in the face thanks to Prince Blueblood.
- Previously On : "At the Gala" is a stealth version of this, since it reminds the audience of all the characters' expectations about the Gala that had been established in "The Ticket Master" (though Twilight's isn't introduced until now). They come with brief imagine shots, updated to feature each pony in her gala dress.
- Prince Charmless: Blueblood. Rarity actually describes him in nearly those words.
- Puddle-Covering Chivalry: When Rarity and Blueblood come upon a puddle, she thinks he will do this for her. Instead, he takes her coat so that he can walk across on it.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
- Pinkie at the beginning. "AH! I! CAN'T! BELIEVE! THE GRAND! GALLOPING! GALA! IS! TONIGHT!"
- When Psychoshy shows up.
- Rage Breaking Point: Rarity puts up with a lot from Prince Blueblood, getting more and more annoyed every step of the way. It's him using her as a shield against that cake that causes her to finally explode.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Rarity finally giving Prince Blueblood what for.Rarity: You, sir, are the most uncharming prince I have ever met! In fact, the only thing royal about you is that you are a royal pain!
- Reality Ensues: An entire episode focused around it. A massive event that's seen as the greatest event of the year that anyone who's anyone will get to go to? You're going to run into a few problems:
- Twilight's desire to spend some quality time with Princess Celestia ends up failing because Celestia is obligated to welcome each and every individual guest to the party, leaving her with no time to talk to her and catch up.
- Applejack's desire to sell Apple Family food at the gala gets snubbed because nearly all of the attendees are stuck-up rich ponies who see eating that sort of food as below them. Prince Blueblood actually has the gall to spit it out in front of Applejack when he eats some, just because it's "common" food.
- Rainbow Dash gets into the Wonderbolts' VIP area to hang out with them, but finds it impossible to talk to them because the area is so crowded and loud that the Wonderbolts can't hear her talking and are constantly being pulled aside for photos.
- Rarity wants to woo Prince Blueblood, who she sees as the stallion of her dreams. It turns out that he's a stuck-up, arrogant prick who has no idea of how to treat a lady.
- Pinkie Pie sees it as the biggest party in Equestria and wants to have fun, but the event is a formal one where any dancing is going to be slow, rather than high-energy, and the music is all classical.
- Fluttershy wants to go and see all of the animals in the castle garden, but unfortunately the animals are too scared of her and do their best to avoid her, which steadily grates on her until she finally goes nuts.
- And poor Spike wanted to spend the night with his best friends, but with them all busy doing their own things he ends up alone and upset.
- Retcon: Rainbow now just wants to hang out with the Wonderbolts rather than upstaging them.
- Rock Bottom: Twilight: "Well, it can't get any worse." Cue the rumbling of a stampede.
- Rule of Glamorous: The only reason anypony would wear hoofwear that could be destroyed by stepping too hard.
- Sanity Slippage: Fluttershy, of all ponies, undergoes this until the end of the episode. Being used to interact and help with the wild all her life, the idea of any of them avoiding her throughout the episode seemed to have a great effect on her, resorting to traps. She ends up with her dress and hair ruined, and completely unhinged, all capped off with this line:Fluttershy: You're... going to LOVE ME!!!!!
- Sapient Steed: It turns out that ponies don't appreciate the coach driver (an overenthusiastic Spike) snapping their reins. Which leads to...
- Serious Business: The stallions used to pull the Mane 6's carriage really don't appreciate having their reins snapped."If you weren't friends with our neighbor Rarity..."
- Celestia tells Twilight "Run." Twilight gathers up all her friends and runs... including Fluttershy in the midst of her rage, who drops the rage entirely upon hearing Twilight and runs.
- Screen Shake: The Rock Bottom cue.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Spike is amazed by how the girls look in their outfits.
- Shoddy Shindig: Because of the excessive stuffiness of all the other partygoers, this is what the Mane Six end up feeling the Gala is like. And so does Celestia: the main reason she invited them was so they would raise hell and make the party lively for once.
- "At the Gala" has quite a few similarities to "Ever After" from Into the Woods. "Into the Gala to meet, to sell, to find, to prove, to whoop, to talk...."
- The song between Fluttershy and the meadowlark is straight-up the same melody as Snow White's during her "I'm Wishing" song. And then when she finds the gardener pony, he explains that he enjoys whistling while he works.
- When Rainbow Dash saves Soarin's pie from falling, the background sound is the famous "bionic sound" used in The Six Million Dollar Man during similar Bullet Time/Over Crank heroic moments.
- Fluttershy's attempt to trap a critter and its resulting backfire would land her among the ranks of Elmer Fudd and Wile E. Coyote.
- The˙fruit-based carriage and mice turned into horses is reminiscent of Cinderella.
- The way Celestia flies between Canterlot's towers, leaving a sparkling arc behind her, is very reminiscent of the intro logo used in Disney movies.
- Slasher Smile: Fluttershy sports one of these before setting her snare.
- Spontaneous Choreography: On part of everyone during "At the Gala".
- Squee!: Quite literally Rainbow Dash's reaction to finally getting to hang out with the Wonderbolts.
- Staggered Zoom: Pinkie does this at the end of her song upon entering the ballroom, when the camera zooms in to the inside of her open mouth this way.
- Suspiciously Apropos Music: Pinkie's "Pony Pokey" song is played over scenes of the other ponies trying to have a good time at the Gala, with the lyrics matching up to their situations and actions very well.
- Tempting Fate: Twilight and Celestia walk into the grand hall to find it devastated, and with four of the Mane Cast surveying the results of the recent bout of Disaster Dominoes. Twilight can't help but utter the classic phrase, "Well, it can't get any worse!" Cue Fluttershy with a horde of frightened animals.
- Time Passes Montage: One with Applejack as she waits at her stand for over sixty minutes without a sale.
- Title Drop: Several times over the course of the episode.
- To the Tune of:
- Pinkie Pie's "I'm at the Grand Galloping Gala" is to the tune of "Marlbrough s'en va-t-en guerre" (better known to the American audience as "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow").
- While the best-known version of "The Hokey Pokey" is not in the public domain in America, Pinkie Pie's "Pony Pokey" is based on what Daniel Ingram remembers from roller derby as a kid.
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: "At the Gala", before and after Twilight's verse, and "Pony Pokey", before each of the second through fifth verses.
- Twitchy Eye: Fluttershy when she chases the animals around the castle.
- Two Scenes, One Dialogue: Happens to the Mane Six themselves in six scenes with one dialogue.
- Uncanny Valley: In-Universe. This is everypony's reaction when Twilight transforms Fluttershy's mouse friends into slightly mouse-faced horses to pull their carriage.
- Upper-Class Twit: Prince Blueblood has all the smug arrogance combined with the lack of wit and sophistication that the trope requires.
- Waistcoat of Style: Pinkie and Rainbow's dresses have these.
- Wanting Is Better Than Having: The Aesop of the episode is that the Mane Six's dreams of the gala were far superior to the gala itself.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: A quite literal example in that we never find out what happened to the mice/horses that were originally going to pull the carriage after Opal scared them off. Twilight made a passing mention just before Opal's entrance that the spell only lasts until midnight, as appropriate of her genre stealing... so, they most likely returned to Fluttershy's entourage the next morning. Also, Twilight turns four mice into horses, but we only see three run away after Opalescence pounces.
- Why We Can't Have Nice Things: In this case, everything about the Grand Galloping Gala. The snobbish ponies don't approve of Applejack's food or Pinkie's approach to partying, and all of the girls' dresses get damaged in the ensuring chaos. A statue gets smashed to bits.
- Worst. Whatever. Ever!: The Mane 6's best night ever eventually turns into the worst night ever, and this is said by Spike when meeting him at the donut shop.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: A lot of the cast's problems come from assuming that they're in a Fairy Tale rather than an Aesop comedy.
- Xanatos Gambit: Princess Celestia had one going on. Either she got to spend the evening with her star student (making the boring party at least slightly more bearable), the mane cast would make the party more interesting, or (as what happened) the mane cast would make things so "interesting" that the boring party would be over faster. Let's see... Celestia's party got cut short by a spectacular case of Disaster Dominoes courtesy of Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie knocked her guests out of their starched shirt complacency, her Prince Charmless of a nephew got a well deserved "The Reason You Suck" Speech and she got to spend some quality time in a relaxed late-night restaurant with the mane cast. Yup, a winner is Celestia.
- Yandere: Oh, Fluttershy. This is the source for her infamous meme, "You're going to LOVE ME!"