Continued from "Mare in the Moon".
Applejack: No can do, sugarcube! We sure ain't letting any friend of ours go into that creepy place alone. We're sticking to you like caramel on a candy apple!
Pinkie Pie: Especially if there's candy apples in there!
(other ponies nod in agreement; pause; Twilight Sparkle looks at Pinkie Pie)
Pinkie Pie: What? Those things are good.
Picking up from the last episode, Nightmare Moon departs as dramatically and suddenly as she arrived, leaving the citizens of Ponyville wondering what to do. Twilight Sparkle returns to the library to do some research, putting the baby Spike to bed beforehand. As she searches frantically for information, Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rarity and Rainbow Dash show up, all having figured out that the newcomer knew about what was going to happen. Realizing that they weren't going to leave without answers, she tells them about uncovering the prophecy on Nightmare Moon and the only thing that can possibly stop her: the Elements of Harmony. With the help of Pinkie Pie, Twilight finds a book on the Elements of Harmony which names the five known ones (Honesty, Kindness, Laughter, Generosity and Loyalty) and pinpoints their last known location... in an abandoned castle in the Everfree Forest.
Twilight sets out for the ruins, with her new acquaintances insisting on coming along. She is reluctant, but this proves fortunate, as Nightmare Moon is following them and her attempts to thwart their quest give Twilight's companions a chance to show her their strength of character:
- When a collapsing cliffside leaves Twilight in a Literal Cliffhanger situation, Applejack uses her honesty to reassure Twilight and convince her to let go... dropping her into the waiting hooves of Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash.
- When a rampaging manticore attacks the group, the kind-hearted Fluttershy breaks up the ensuing fight and pacifies the manticore by removing a thorn stuck in its paw.
- When the girls are threatened by terrifying illusions conjured up by Nightmare Moon, the happy-go-lucky Pinkie Pie teaches her friends to literally laugh in the face of danger with a catchy song and helps dispel the illusion.
- When the path over a river is blocked by a foppish sea serpent lamenting half of his mustache getting cut off, Rarity sympathizes with his ruined look and cheers him up by generously offering a sizable chunk of her tail as a replacement.
- When a broken rope bridge over a deep gorge bars the path, Rainbow Dash is tasked with flying to the other side and fixing the bridge. Nightmare Moon takes on the form of a trio of performing Pegasi and offers Dash fame and fortune. Rainbow Dash is eager to take the deal until she learns she has to abandon her friends. While still tempted, she chooses to remain with her friends and complete the mission.
On finally reaching the keep, Twilight investigates the Elements of Harmony and tries to trigger the "spark" that is said to make the sixth Element appear. Just then Nightmare Moon appears and steals away with Twilight and the Elements in an effort to prevent this from happening. Much to her surprise, Twilight refuses to be cowed:
Nightmare Moon: You're kidding. You're kidding, right?
A brief struggle ensues as Twilight tries to recover the elements but eventually Nightmare Moon simply smashes them to bits. All hope is lost...
...then Twilight hears her friends coming to her rescue, has an epiphany, and the seemingly-destroyed elements activate. Twilight explains to a baffled Nightmare Moon, that the real power of the elements was within her five friends and herself realizing how much they meant to her was the "spark" needed to awaken the Sixth Element, Magic. With the combined powers of the Elements of Harmony, they make swift work of Nightmare Moon.
As the sun finally rises, Princess Celestia reappears to congratulate Twilight and her friends. She was aware of the prophecy and knew Twilight had the power to save the world but only told her to make friends in the hopes that her student would learn the power of friendship and allow its power to spark the Elements. She proceeds to reconcile with Nightmare Moon who has returned to her original form... Princess Luna, Celestia's long-lost sister. Turns out that the two sisters in the original legend of Nightmare Moon were Luna and Celestia. Go figure!
Celebrations are in order, Luna is ready to resume her duties of raising the moon at night and Twilight Sparkle is ready to return to Canterlot... except the once-antisocial unicorn is reluctant to leave her new friends so suddenly. With Celestia's blessing, Twilight decides to remain in Ponyville and continue her studies on the magic of friendship.
- An Aesop:
- It's important to make friends, though it may seem hard at first.
- When you make friends, many wonderful things await you.
- Always Camp: Steven Magnet, the sea serpent who throws a hissy fit because half his mustache is cut off.
- Aside Glance: While Rarity is talking about having just cut off her own tail, Pinkie Pie turns her eyes briefly in the direction of the camera.
- Batman Gambit: The first of several from Princess Celestia. Knowing the truth of the prophecy of the return of Nightmare Moon (having banished her in the first place), that the Elements of Harmony were the only things that could defeat her, and that she needed a group of friends to wield them, she sent Twilight Sparkle to Ponyville. The Princess knew enough about her student that not only would she find a way to make friends as ordered, but would also not give up on her quest to prevent the reign of eternal night and succeed in finding the elements in time to defeat Nightmare Moon.
- Battle-Interrupting Shout: Fluttershy stops her friends from fighting the manticore with a shout of "WAIT!"
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Twilight Sparkle didn't want to make new friends and found out later that "just when I learn how wonderful it is to have friends, I have to leave them." That is a milder case though as it turns out Celestia lets Twilight stay in Ponyville with her new friends anyway.
- Beneath the Mask: Turns out that the evil Nightmare Moon was really just a lonely pony who missed her sister.
- Big "NO!": Nightmare Moon lets out two of them before and while getting blasted with the Elements Of Harmony.
- Care-Bear Stare: This is how Nightmare Moon is defeated and one of the coolest things you'll ever see; the Power of Friendship in the form of a Wave-Motion Gun.
- The Cavalry: Appropriately enough given that they're all equines, Twilight's friends arrive at the brink of her Despair Event Horizon.
- A Chat with Satan: Nightmare Moon does this to Rainbow Dash when she's off alone by attempting to tempt her into forsaking her friends for the chance to live her dream. Rainbow Dash is quick to refuse and help her friends.
- Cry Cute: Twilight spent the episode treating her future friends aloof and uncaring. When they showed up to help her during the showdown with Nightmare Moon, she cries a tear of joy and finally warms up to them.
- Despair Event Horizon: Twilight seems to come close to this when Nightmare Moon smashes the Elements Of Harmony, the only thing capable of defeating her, right in front of the poor girl. Thank goodness Twilight's friends showed up...
- Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Nightmare Moon would have gotten away with the Elements scot-free if she would have just stopped trying to trip up the Mane Six.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Twilight Sparkle and her True Companions defeat a lunar goddess who plunged the world into The Night That Never Ends.
- Early Installment Character Design Difference: The character design for Princess Luna in this episode — small and timid, with a withers-length light blue mane — is never seen again in the series. When she next appears in the following season, she's a much taller Large Ham, with a darker coat and a big sparkling ethereal mane. This change is necessary because the plot of "Luna Eclipsed" requires everypony to believe that Luna is still Nightmare Moon. The comics later established that this was what she looked like before becoming a princess.
- Easily Forgiven: A bit of magic and one "I'm sorry" are enough to reconcile Princess Luna. Not too surprising considering she was the one who spent all that time imprisoned which Celestia can't have wanted but was forced to do (indeed season four touched upon this, Celestia did all she can to reason with Luna but was ultimately forced to use force); Word of God states something was corrupting Luna and the corruption was finally driven out when (as mentioned in another episode and explored further in the comics) the heroines activate the full potential of the Elements.
- Evil Gloating: Nightmare Moon does this to Twilight after smashing the Elements of Harmony right in front of her, telling her that she never had a chance of stopping her and has failed to save the world. Twilight's friends provide her with a very effective Kirk Summation.
- Evil Is Hammy: Nightmare Moon chews more scenery than the rest of the cast put together.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Friendship is magic. Devastatingly powerful magic.
- Exact Words: In part 1, Celestia responded to Twilight's concerns by telling her "you simply must stop reading those dusty old books!" This was entirely true — the correct course of action was to go out and make friends. She never said she didn't believe Twilight.
- Face Your Fears: The message of Pinkie Pie's song, 'Giggle at the Ghosties'.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Braving the Everfree Forest together made the Mane Six into friends.
- Fling a Light into the Future: A later episode reveals that only Celestia witnessed Nightmare Moon's formation and banishment and that only the Princesses had first-hoof knowledge of the Elements of Harmony. Therefore, the legends of the Elements and of Nightmare Moon's banishment and the prophecy of her escape were likely written by Celestia herself to ensure that, when the time came, the Elements could be used to restore her sister.
- Foreshadowing: For every Element Twilight lists off, the camera centers on the pony that represents it.
- For Want of a Nail: As Celestia pointed out near the end, if Twilight didnt understand the importance of friendship which is what activates the Elements of Harmony, Nightmare Moon wouldve won.
- Friend or Idol Decision: Nightmare Moon forces Rainbow Dash to choose between joining the "Shadow Bolts" or helping her friends. As it turns out, Rainbow Dash isn't a complete jerkass.
- Gambit Roulette: Princess Celestia knew what was going to happen with Nightmare Moon returning but the only action she took was to send Twilight Sparkle to get out more because she knew she would find a group of friends matching the Elements of Harmony and make it through Everfree Forest with them and then figure out how to work the Elements. As mentioned above, the bad guy does a wonderful job contributing to this outcome too. Word of God has stated that she was grooming Twilight specifically for the role, but even if she were wholly omniscient, it would still be a Roulette.
- Glowing Eyes: Seen on Twilight for a moment as she and her friends are using the elements.
- Hair Reboot: The Elements of Harmony completely fix Rarity's chopped tail.
- Hidden Depths: The quest for the Elements Of Harmony reveals these in the group to Twilight Sparkle and the audience.
- High Fantasy: Travel through a dangerous location to retrieve magical relics and defeat an ancient evil to save the world. The story is like freaking The Lord of the Rings in half an hour; with ponies.
- Hope Spot: Twilight feints her way past Nightmare Moon and seemingly activates the Elements Of Harmony with her magic. Then Nightmare Moon crushes it and the Elements to bits.
- "How Did You Know?" "I Didn't.": Fluttershy's response when asked how she knew that the manticore had a thorn in its paw.
- Human Traffic Jam: Or Pony Traffic Jam, when Pinkie Pie stops abruptly in front of the agitated river.
- I Choose to Stay: After making friends in Ponyville, Twilight Sparkle doesn't want to go back to Canterlot. Luckily for her, Princess Celestia is more than supportive of her decision.
- I'm Not Afraid of You: This is how Nightmare Moon's creepy trees are neutralized; laughing at them is a sign of no-fear.
- I Work Alone: Twilight doesn't want her self-proclaimed new friends tagging along on her hunt for the Elements of Harmony but they insist on coming along.
- Kirk Summation: Twilight delivers one of these about friendship just before she befriends Nightmare Moon.
- Last-Second Chance: Princess Celestia to Nightmare Moon/Luna after she has been defeated. She accepts. Ironically Celestia's offer is phrased much like the trope name for the villain-to-hero counterpart of the trope.
- "Leave Your Quest" Test: Nightmare Moon offers Rainbow Dash a chance to pursue her dreams by joining the "Shadow Bolts," but only if she abandons her friends. Rainbow Dash is tempted at first but quickly rejects the offer when this condition is forced on her.
- Literal Cliffhanger: When the ground gives way beneath them, Twilight and Applejack are left hanging while the two Pegasi carry Pinkie and Rarity to safety.
- Love Redeems: The Elements of Harmony purge the Nightmare out of Luna and then sisterly love finishes the job.
- Match Cut: When Twilight reads about the location of the sixth Element of Harmony, the background fades from the library to the Everfree Forest with the Mane Six in the foreground.
- Mistaken for Spies: While Twilight is searching for information on the Elements of Harmony, Rainbow shows up, backs her into a corner, and accuses her of being in cahoots with Nightmare Moon (which, since Twilight knew what was going to happen at the Summer Sun Celebration, was an understandable assumption). Fortunately, Applejack recognized Twilight was on their side, got Rainbow to back off, and let the newcomer explain herself.
- Mood Whiplash: When Celestia and Luna reunite, Pinkie finds it so heartwarming that she bursts into happy tears...but then she suddenly becomes her usual happy self when she declares a party in their honor.
- Mundane Solution: How did Pinkie Pie find a book on the Elements of Harmony? "It was under 'E'!"
- Mythology Gag:
- In the G1 pilot "Rescue from Castle Midnight", the ponies have to cross a raging river and a rickety bridge to get to a castle.
- The rainbow-colored beam produced by the Elements of Harmony seems to be a nod to the Rainbow of Light from the G1 special "Rescue from Castle Midnight".
- The first song of the series has Pinkie Pie teaching the Mane Six about standing up to their fears and how the illusions are all just in their imaginations. Likewise, the first episode of My Little Pony Tales also had a song about facing your fears and how shadows in the dark aren't what they appear to be.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Nightmare Moon unwittingly puts all six of the Mane Cast in situations which test and ultimately prove their worthiness as bearers of the Elements of Harmony.
- Nice Job Guiding Us, Hero: Nightmare Moon allows the group to discover the location of the Elements Of Harmony for her by waiting and watching outside their window.
- The Night That Never Ends: Defying this trope is the purpose of Twilight's adventure. It does indeed end after Nightmare Moon is defeated.
- Nightmare Retardant: Pinkie Pie's "Laughter Song" is an In-Universe example, and can be considered a Literal Metaphor in that it retards Nightmare Moon's efforts to frighten the Mane Six.
- Non-Malicious Monster: The Manticore isn't bad; it just had a thorn stuck in its paw.
- Ocular Gushers: Pinkie Pie is so touched by the reunion of Celestia and Luna that she briefly does this.
- OOC Is Serious Business: During Twilight's P.O.V. Cam, it's the first time in the series where we see Pinkie Pie legitimately upset.
- Overly Narrow Superlative: The Shadowbolts' claim that they're "the greatest aerial team in the Everfree Forest" is a little suspect when you consider how many ponies live in said forest...
- Plot Tailored to the Party: Seen during the adventure through the Everfree Forest with each of Twilight's new self-proclaimed friends demonstrating an important virtue of theirs.
- Police Are Useless: A couple Royal Guards try to stop Nightmare Moon and get blasted with lightning for their trouble.
- P.O.V. Cam: When Applejack asks Twilight to explain herself, it cuts to the unicorn's perspective, and shows her new friends' confused, worried, and/or suspicious looks.
- The Power of Friendship: Both figuratively and literally. The title of the show is not lying; friendship is literally magic with enough power to defeat a Physical God.
- Power Makes Your Voice Deep: Princess Luna's voice is much higher than that of her Superpowered Evil Side.
- The Quest: To find the Elements of Harmony.
- Rampage from a Nail: Fluttershy realises that this is the case with a monster that's attacking them, and is able to calm it down. The first part of the trope was invoked by Nightmare Moon, who was the thorn in its paw.
- Reality Ensues: Applejack gets Rainbow Dash to back off from her accusing Twilight to be a spy. Twilight is still forced to explain to the Mane 5 how she knew about Nightmare Moon.
- Royal Decree: Princess Celestia's orders for Twilight to remain in Ponyville and study The Power of Friendship.
- Secret Test of Character:
- Double subverted. Nightmare Moon was not testing their character but her traps served as such for Twilight's purpose and proved the ponies' worthiness as Bearers of the Elements.
- Played straight with Celestias task for Twilight to make some friends. She knew she had the power to defeat Nightmare Moon, but she couldnt unleash the power until she discovered the importance of true friendship.
- Single-Stroke Battle: Twilight exploits this set up as a Kansas City Shuffle. She paws the ground and charges headlong at Nightmare Moon but teleports away at the last second to get behind her.
- Society-on-Edge Episode: This two-parter involved the threat of eternal darkness.
- Space Whale Aesop: Dear Princess Celestia, no matter how strong and smart you may be, there are some things you just can't do alone. Friends have a special bond that has more meaning than you can find in any book. So cherish your friends, nurture your relationships with them and always hold them near and dear to your heart because together you can smite evil with an awesome rainbow Wave-Motion Gun because friendship... is magic.
- The Mayor sending her guards to attack Nightmare Moon, only for her to erupt and frighten them is reminiscent of the scene in Sleeping Beauty where Maleficent curses baby Aurora. Even the dialogue is word-for-word.
- The parade and music in the coda are an obvious shout-out to "Augie's Great Municipal Band" at the end of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
- Stab the Salad: Rarity yanks a scale from the sea-serpent's neck with her teeth and slashes with its sharp end, causing the serpent to cry out and collapse... at the horror of her cutting off her own tail.
- Take My Hand: When the ground gives way under the ponies, Applejack grabs a branch while sliding down and manages to catch Twilight by the hoof. How they're able to hold onto each other without fingers isn't explained.
- Talking Is a Free Action: As Twilight is delivering her speech about how the ponies all represent the Elements of Harmony, Nightmare Moon does nothing to stop all six from activating.
- Tearful Smile: Twilight, upon realizing that these five quirky ponies, who insisted on helping her in her quest, are indeed her friends.
- That Reminds Me of a Song: LampshadedPinkie Pie: When I was a little filly and the sun was going do-o-o-own...
Twilight Sparkle: Tell me she's not...
Pinkie Pie: The darkness and the shadows, they would always make me fro-o-o-own...
Rarity: She is.
- Traumatic Haircut: It was considered a big deal when the sea-serpent lost his part of his mustache; himself and Rarity thought so.
- Twinkle Smile: Pinkie Pie during her song, although the twin sparkle is in her eyes, not teeth.
- Unmoving Plaid: The end of Rainbow Dash's tail is ruffled from Applejack pulling it, but the stripes of colour on it don't. It takes a flick to get it back to normal.
- The stripes on Twilight's tail don't get disheveled when Rainbow bites on it to keep her from falling into the gorge with the broken rope bridge.
- Verbal Judo: Ironically involving nonverbal communication; Fluttershy calms the manticore by walking up to him and acting friendly.
- Villain-Beating Artifact: The Elements of Harmony are the only thing that can stop Nightmare Moon.
- Villainous Breakdown: Nightmare Moon's Smug Snake personality goes away really fast once the Elements of Harmony are activated. This is unsurprising since she spent a thousand years imprisoned in the moon the last time they were used on her.
- Visual Pun: During Pinkie Pie's song, when she sings "The darkness and the shadows would always make me frown" and demonstrates this with her facial expression, she's looking down from the top of the screen, upside down, so she's in fact already "turning that frown upside down".
- Wax On, Wax Off: Celestia's apparent dismissal of Twilight's fears of Nightmare Moon's return, and her demand that she make some friends instead, turns out to be a necessary step to defeating Nightmare Moon.
- Welcome Back, Traitor: The way Princess Celestia gave the Last-Second Chance towards her sister, Luna, counts as such, as she was willing not to fully blame her.
- What's Up, King Dude?: Upon encountering Princess Celestia, the ponies instantly kneel in silent reverence, even Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash... but not Twilight Sparkle. She goes for a hug since she is a long-time student of Celestia who is particularly affectionate towards her.
- Win-Win Ending: The heroines save Equestria from Nightmare Moon's attempted eternal night. In the process, Nightmare Moon is reverted to her pre-villain identity as Princess Luna. After she asks forgiveness for her wrongdoing, the episode ends with a celebration in honor of Princess Luna's return. (And the entire reason Luna had turned to villainy in the first place was because she thought the ponies didn't love or respect her.)
- You Are Not Alone: Twilight is facing Nightmare Moon alone, and the only thing that's capable of stopping Nightmare Moon was just shattered to bits right in front of her... then her friends come charging up the stairs to her rescue... cue the elements being reformed and Twilight acknowledging them as her friends for the first time.
- You Fool!: Nightmare Moon likes to say "foal".Nightmare Moon: Stand BACK, you FOALS!Nightmare Moon: You little foal! Thinking you could defeat me?
- You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Nightmare Moon's reaction when Twilight puts her horn down just charges her.