Nightmare Night has come to Ponyville, and Twilight Sparkle and Spike are enjoying the spooky festivities (even if nopony recognizes Twilight's costume as the famous unicorn wizard "Star Swirl the Bearded"). They join Pinkie Pie, Zecora, and a group of young ponies (including Pipsqueak, a young colt whose family had just recently moved from Trottingham) for a walk in the woods to a statue of Nightmare Moon, where tradition indicates that they leave some of their candy to appease the evil goddess so she doesn't gobble them up. But what's that swooping in on a chariot pulled by bat-winged pegasi guards? Is it the real Nightmare Moon, returned to seek revenge on the Elements of Harmony?
No, it's just Princess Luna, who's come to enjoy the festival, bask in the accolades of her subjects, and turn the night of terror into a night of delight. But her grandiose entrance, booming voice, and archaic way of speaking gives the wrong impression, scaring nearly everypony in the town square. Twilight, who recognizes social awkwardness when she sees it, decides to help. She convinces Luna that she needs to tone it down a bit, so the two go to see the expert in being soft-spoken: Fluttershy.
Unfortunately, Fluttershy is not the sort of pony who enjoys Nightmare Night, and Twilight has to literally force her to give Princess Luna a quick speech lesson. After a few false starts, Luna finally understands and joyously hugs Fluttershy... who, alas, is limp and speechless with fear. Of course, this is just as Pinkie Pie and the kids show up for a place to hide from Nightmare Moon; they immediately get the wrong impression and run away screaming.
Undeterred, Twilight has Applejack teach Luna about getting along with the citizens of Ponyville. To get Luna to loosen up and have some fun (a phrase Princess Luna is apparently unfamiliar with), Applejack teachers her a simple target-throwing game with rubber spiders and a fake web. Quickly getting the hang of the game, Luna briefly basks in the admiration of her subjects before rushing over to save Pipsqueak from drowning in the apple-bobbing tub. Unfortunately, both Pip and Pinkie Pie misinterpret this act as another fright from Nightmare Moon, and the ponies freak out yet again. In a fit of pique, Luna turns the fake spiders into real ones; when this drives the ponies into a terrified riot, she decrees the end of Nightmare Night forever, then leaves in a huff.
With ponies young and old upset about the ban, Twilight tries to get Luna to change her mind by getting her to make amends with Pinkie Pie, the cause of all the trouble. Unfortunately, their touching reconciliation is spoiled completely when an ill-timed prank from Rainbow Dash causes Pinkie to panic. Twilight intercepts Pinkie before she can run away again and starts to lecture her about Luna's benevolent nature, whereupon Pinkie reveals that she knows Luna is good...
Pinkie Pie: Well, duh!
Twilight Sparkle: Huh?
Pinkie Pie: Sheesh, Twilight! I'm almost as big as her! How's she gonna gobble me up?
Pinkie was just pretending to freak out because sometimes it's fun to be scared. This gives Twilight an idea...
Back in town, Zecora proposes that, despite the holiday being cancelled, they can still finish tonight's celebration. So, the zebra leads the young ponies back to the forest to make one last offering of candy for Nightmare Moon... But then, Nightmare Moon shows up in person to thank them for their gift! As the little ponies run off screaming, she is revealed to be a transformed Luna, who wonders what good Twilight's plan will do... until Pipsqueak comes back to ask if she can do it again next year.
Finally understanding that the ponies don't really hate her, Luna rescinds her ban and finally begins to enjoy the festival in earnest, especially when she playfully gives Rainbow Dash a much-deserved taste of her own medicine. Meanwhile, Twilight composes a report to Celestia about the importance of helping others make friends, no matter how intimidating they may first appear.
As of February 11th, 2012, this episode is recognized by The Hub as the best Friendship is Magic episode out of the first 38 to airnote .
- 0% Approval Rating: Princess Luna discovers this problem after she appears, and Twilight and her friends try to help repair her image.
- Actually Pretty Funny: The only prank that Luna doesn't seem to mind is Rainbow Dash's thunder. She even gets in on the fun at the end, giggling a little.
- Adorably Precocious Child: Pipsqueak is a tiny colt in a pirate costume that says "you're my favorite princess" in the most adorable voice.
- Adventurer Outfit: Berry Punch is sometimes shown wearing this costume◊, randomly switching (often in mere seconds) to a Bedsheet Ghost costume. (There are even a couple of times where two of her are shown at once, each wearing a different costume◊.) We find out later that she was apparently dressed as Daring Do, as seen here◊.
- An Aesop:
- Although someone may seem intimidating or scary at first, if you offer them your friendship, you'll discover someone wonderful underneath.
- Hurt someone's feelings for several hours means that eventually they're going to lash out, and everyone in the vicinity will suffer the consequences.
- Art Evolution: This episode marks Luna's first appearance with a mane and tail that flow like Celestia's, instead of the fixed bangs she's seen with in the ending of "Elements of Harmony". Her fur is also a darker shade of purple. Overall, she looks a lot closer to her Nightmare Moon persona, but without the evil. This could, however, just represent her becoming older, or regaining her power. Lauren Faust stated that it represents Luna regaining her power, but admitted, "I just made that up. I don't know how the showrunners would explain it, but that's how I would." The mane change goes mostly unexplained, but Luna does mention that the Elements of Harmony took away her "dark powers". The idea of a gradual maturation or shift in power is supported when you notice that Luna's forelock is still "solid" rather than flowing, implying the change hasn't been completed yet. And as with the other unicorns/alicorns since "Lesson Zero", Luna's magic is given a darker blue aura instead of generic white.
- Artistic License – Biology: Justified. The spiders created by Luna's spell barely look anything like real spiders — they have solid ball-shaped bodies with no division between body segments, and lack any kind of facial features beyond glowing red eyes. This is because they are actually transformed toys — Luna animated a basket of fairly stylized plushies, and accidentally happened to make them look more monstrous than she needed to.
- The Atoner: Luna throughout the episode is attempting to live down her "Nightmare Moon" phase.
- Bait-and-Switch: Luna asks in a rather rough voice whether the others are having enough fun yet and makes the spiders come to life. The viewer is led to believe that she has turned evil again... but then it turns out that she just made them hop into the nets by themselves, upon which she asks smiling how many points she has scored.
- Bat People: Luna's chariot pullers are a peculiar variant of this, being essentially the bat people equivalent in a world of sapient equines — in their case, they're pegasi with bat wings, tufted ears and slit pupils, and are seemingly associated with the Princess of the Night.
- Bear Hug: Luna gives Fluttershy a hug for showing her how to use an indoor voice. However, it backfires when timid Fluttershy faints during the process, and is mistaken for dead when Pinkie and the foals come upon them immediately afterwards.
- Becoming the Mask: Played for Laughs. Pinkie Pie gets way too into character as a chicken. At one point she even manages to lay an egg!
- Bedsheet Ghost: Berry Punch is sometimes shown wearing this costume◊, randomly switching (often in mere seconds) to an Adventurer Outfit costume. (There are even a couple of times where two of her are shown at once, each wearing a different costume◊.)
- Big Entrance: Luna arriving in the middle of a windy storm at night, pulled on a evil-looking chariot by two menacing guard Pbat-ponies, all clouded in shadows, while Twilight, Pinkie, Zecora, Spike, the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Pipsqueak, and four more fillies cower near a statue of Nightmare Moon at the Everfree Forest. She then jumps from this chariot to the ground while her black cloak disintegrates into bats!
- Big "NEVER!": Pinkie Pie, when told she's too old for trick-or-treating.Pinkie Pie: Too old for free candy?! Never!
- Big "SHUT UP!": Luna has a particularly loud one when Nightmare Night is thrown into chaos.Luna: BE STILL!
- Black Cloak: Luna is introduced wearing one. It dissolves into living bats as she exits her chariot!
- Both Sides Have a Point: Regarding Luna's decision to initially cancel Nightmare Night; as she points out to Twilight, all her efforts to clean up her image and scare ponies less have failed, and it's insulting that everyone is still calling her Nightmare Moon despite her attempts to have fun and be friendly. Twilight tries to reassure her that Nightmare Night is just meant to be a fun holiday that makes dozens of ponies happy, and no one really hates Luna now that she is most definitely purified and reformed. Ultimately Twilight's argument wins out when Pip thanks Luna for scaring him, and she decides to reinstate Nightmare Night.
- Bowel-Breaking Bricks: Pinkie Pie somehow lays a large eggnote after being scared by Luna.
- Bullying a Dragon:
- Ponyville accidentally insults Luna by calling her Nightmare Moon and accusing her of still being evil, complete with a holiday centered around her dark alter ego. Insulting royalty is a serious offense; Luna cancels Nightmare Night as a result because, as she points out to Twilight, what is the point of a holiday that's centered around her negative image and doesn't allow her to change it?
- Then there is the scene where Twilight forces Pinkie Pie and Luna to shake hooves. Luna fixes Pinkie Pie with a Death Glare and identifies her as the one who's been raising the Nightmare Moon panic. From her tone, the only reason why she's willing to shake hooves is that she remembers how Pinkie Pie helped purify her and that Twilight vouched for Pinkie Pie.
- Call-Back: Remember when everyone was skeptical of Nightmare Moon being more than an old pony's tale? Yeah, this is why.
- Character Witness: Luna levels a Death Glare at Pinkie Pie when Twilight tries to convince Pinkie Pie to shake hooves. She all but says that if not for Pinkie Pie helping purify her, then she wouldn't agree to call a truce with someone who, from her point of view, has been insulting her all night.
- Chekhov's Skill:
- Twilight's ability to lecture.
- Luna's unintentional ability to terrify everypony turns out to be what lets her win them over once she realizes that, sometimes, they like being scared.
- Chewing the Scenery: Goodness gracious. Being a Large Ham is one thing, but Luna insisting on speaking with No Indoor Voice is another!
- Comfort Food: After her initial attempt to greet the ponies goes south, Luna eats up all the candy left at her statue that the ponies left as offerings. It is a lot of candy.
- Compressed Hair: Pinkie manages to fit her mane in her chicken costume.
- Continuity Nod:
- The whole premise of this episode mirrors "Bridle Gossip" — Luna's debut even has her in a cloak and hood like Zecora, whose costume could be described as an evil enchantress. The fact that Zecora is considered part of Ponyville society now foreshadows the ending.
- Twilight says that Pipsqueak moved from Trottingham, a place previously mentioned in "Stare Master".
- At first it seems odd that Pinkie Pie, who in "Elements of Harmony" sang "Giggle at the Ghostly" about not needing to be scared and had Ocular Gushers at Luna's redemption, should suddenly scream in terror every time Luna shows up. But it makes sense when we learn Pinkie Pie is just pretending to be scared because it's fun.
- Twilight Sparkle's pose when her costume is introduced is very similar to her pose in the fashion show in "Suited for Success".
- Rainbow Dash is dressed as one of the Shadowbolts, the illusory pegasus stunt team that Nightmare Moon took the form of to try and tempt her away from her friends in "Elements of Harmony".
- Rainbow Dash is shown pranking Pinkie with the same prank the two set up in "Griffon the Brush Off". Speaking of which, Pinkie's forelegs are still exposed (while humans in chicken suits normally have their arms in the "wings"), turning her into a winged quadruped much like Gilda herself, with a pretend beak to boot.
- In the pilot, a triumphant Nightmare Moon dramatically declares "The night will last forever!" In this episode, an angry Princess Luna dramatically declares "Nightmare Night shall be canceled forever!"
- Cool Car: Luna's chariot, drawn by bat-winged pegasi. The vehicle itself would be at home in Brütal Legend.
- Cowardly Lion: Fluttershy refuses to even answer the door on Nightmare Night. That's how intimidated she is.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Already was true in Luna's case, but she seems to not comprehend the fact that making an entrance that would make a Final Fantasy villain green with envy is not a good first impression for a good guy. It is, however, a good way to look awesome.
- Deadpan Snarker: Luna slips into this from time to time:Twilight Sparkle: ...but you have to understand that Nightmare Night is one of the most popular celebrations we have!
Luna: Yes, I can tell from the adoring shrieks of the children as they run away!
Twilight Sparkle: Princess Luna! I've finally figured out why you're having so much trouble being liked!
Princess Luna: Forgive me if I withhold my enthusiasm.
- Death Glare: Twilight gives Applejack one when she asks Applejack to help Luna fit in.
- Defanged Horrors: In universe, Pipsqueak describes Nightmare Night as "scary, but fun".
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Luna has already defrosted. Her goal here is to convince the ponies that she has done so.
- Delayed Reaction: Fluttershy when she sees the Princess.Twilight: Fluttershy, it's me, Twilight.
Fluttershy: It is you. Oh, and Nightmare Moon. [beat] gasp! Nightmare Moon!?
- Did You Think I Can't Feel?: Luna while trying to clean up her image gets understandably hurt when most of her efforts fail, which culminates in her walk of sad shame before Twilight thinks of how to help her.
- Diminishing Villain Threat: Nightmare Moon is a Mad God who tried twice to plunge the world into eternal night, and almost succeeded at least once. In this episode we've found that she's been reduced in the public image to scaring young ponies into giving her some of their candy.Spike did say that she's just an old pony tale. This is later invoked by Twilight Sparkle, convincing Luna to assume her Nightmare Moon persona to declare that their offering of candy was sufficient to assuage her wrath... this time.
- The Door Slams You: Fluttershy, on her third attempt to retreat into her house, slams into the door that Twilight predictably closed moments before.
- Dramatic Thunder:
- Underscores Luna's grand entrances and more dramatic pronouncements.
- Also invoked by Rainbow Dash when she uses a small thundercloud of her own to prank other ponies... not always with the best of timing as far as Luna is concerned. She gets a taste of her own medicine at the end of the episode.
- Dude, Not Funny!:
- Twilight Sparkle repeatedly calls out Rainbow Dash for using a thundercloud to prank the ponies. Subverted when Princess Luna retaliates by doing the same to Rainbow.
- Twilight also has this reaction to Pinkie Pie after she tells her she's pretending to be scared of Luna.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Berry Punch is dressed in a costume very much resembling that of Daring Do. As in, exactly the same except for very small details (the shirt being different colors and the hat being the type that Twilight Sparkle wore in "Feeling Pinkie Keen" rather than the type that Daring Do wears). As it turns out, the costume was added in last minute because they actually ran out of unique costumes for crowd scenes and the team was facing a deadline. It was slightly edited in an attempt to avoid spoiling Daring Do.
- Epic Flail: Sea Swirl is dressed up as a knight with one of these as her tail◊.
- Establishing Character Moment: Remember Traumatized Luna? She's gone and replaced by Iron Maiden Decor Luna, who makes her Big Entrance and starts Chewing the Scenery as noted above. Her failed attempts to get the other ponies to love her instead of fear her are still sad, though.
- "Everybody Laughs" Ending: Because everypony is now enjoying Nightmare Night with Luna.
- Evil is Cool: An In-Universe variation. Luna embracing the horror aspects of Nightmare Night is what wins her over with the kids.
- Evil Is Hammy: Deconstructed. Luna has changed her evil ways, but she has difficulty changing her hammy ways and so ponies see the ham and assume the evil is still in place. In other words, nothing has changed because they can't tell a difference. It's invoked at the end when she puts on the full "Nightmare Moon" persona; not the real one but the popularized festival one.
- Evil Laugh: Rainbow Dash employs a pretty high cackle while pranking, accentuated by the fact she's wearing a Shadowbolt costume.
- Expressive Mask: Rainbow Dash's Shadowbolt costume.
- Face Plant: The result of Fluttershy's The Door Slams You moment mentioned above.
- Failed Attempt at Drama: The Mayor's attempts to spook the children are, as Spike points out, ruined by the fact that she's in a goofy clown costume.Spike: The rainbow wig just kills it for me.
- Fish out of Temporal Water: Princess Luna has trouble adjusting after being away for a thousand years. She thinks that it's still proper form to be mildly intimidating; and can't figure out why everyone's terrified of her.
- Flowery Elizabethan English: Luna insists that using "thee" and "thou" is her "normal" way of speaking — and it makes sense that it would be, given that she was on the moon for the last thousand years.Princess Luna: TWILIGHT SPARKLE HAS SPOKEN OF THE SWEETNESS OF THY VOICE! WE ASK THOU TEACHEST US TO SPEAK AS THOU SPEAKEST!
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Pinkie gets scared by Rainbow's thundercloud just before shaking hooves with Luna, she lays an egg.◊
- For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself:
- Oddly, Spike dresses up as a dragon which is almost identical to himself◊, aside from the horns and a slightly altered color scheme. He even partakes in this exchange without a trace of irony:Applejack: Howdy Spike, hey Twilight! Nice costume!
Spike: [interrupting Twilight] Thanks! I'm a dragon!
- The Tennis Pony shows up dressed exactly the same as in "Call of the Cutie".
- Luna herself qualifies, especially if you count Nightmare Moon towards the end.
- Oddly, Spike dresses up as a dragon which is almost identical to himself◊, aside from the horns and a slightly altered color scheme. He even partakes in this exchange without a trace of irony:
- Forbidden Holiday: This episode features a Nightmare Night celebration: the pony equivalent of Halloween, based very, very loosely on historical events involving Princess Luna. When the real Luna shows up to the party, she takes offense at everypony being so scared of her, and declares that Nightmare Night is cancelled forever. But the others show Luna that they appreciate her (and aren't scared of her in a bad way), which convinces her to reinstate the holiday by the episode's end.
- Fuzzball Spider: The spider toys used in a game have round, fuzzy bodies with eight stubby legs. When Luna's spell animates them, the resulting creatures look much the same but with pointed limbs instead.
- Gale-Force Sound: Luna using the Royal Canterlot Voice can have this effect, as seen when Twilight has to adjust her costume after being exposed to it point-blank.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Luna, though only when extremely pissed off.
- Good Wings, Evil Wings: The pegasi that bring Luna into Ponyville have leathery bat-like wings instead of the usual feathered wings.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Much to everyone's horror, Luna's temper is like this. She tries to keep it under control, with variable results.
- Halloween Episode: Or rather a "Nightmare Night" Episode.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: In-universe, Luna suffers from this. While she did try to bring about infinite night as Nightmare Moon, the "eating other ponies" thing is new. Zecora (or any other storyteller in the last millennium) might have made that up due to Rule of Scary.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Rainbow Dash tries to scare Twilight Sparkle at the very end of the episode, but Luna ends up turning the tables on her.
- Idiot Houdini: Despite how savvy she turns out to be, Pinkie Pie still incited a riot that trashed the current festival and got all subsequent festivals canceled, yet it is Luna who needs the lesson. Luna even glares at her for this; if Pinkie Pie hadn't helped purify her in the previous season, then she wouldn't be willing to call a truce with her.
- I Kiss Your Hand: Luna extends her forehoof to the Mayor and a few other ponies, apparently expecting this gesture of fealty, and is very insulted when it doesn't happen.
- Incoming Ham: Luna's epic arrival would make any Final Fantasy villain green with envy.
- I Thought Everyone Could Do That: Played with by Twilight. She clearly expects everyone to recognize her costume (despite information on him being in a book titled "Obscure Unicorn History"), but only Princess Luna recognizes her, likely because she met Star Swirl herself!
- I'm a Humanitarian: Most everypony believes Luna eats ponies, thanks to the lingering rumors around Nightmare Moon.Pipsqueak: Help! My backside has been gobbled!
Princess Luna: 'Tis a lie! Thy backside is whole and ungobbled, thou ungrateful whelp!
- Ironic Echo: In a roundabout sense: Nightmare Moon wanted to make the night last forever; Princess Luna momentarily declares Nightmare Night to be cancelled forever.
- It Amused Me: Pinkie later tells Twilight that this is her reason for being scared of Luna.Twilight: So, why do you keep running away and screaming?
Pinkie Pie: Sometimes it's just really fun to be scared!
- It's the Best Whatever, Ever!: Twilight ends her friendship report with "...this still turned out to be the best Nightmare Night ever."
- Large Ham:
- Licked by the Dog: Just when Luna is convinced she's alienated everyone and says that Twilight's plan didn't work, Pipsqueak timidly approaches and asks her to come back next year and scare them again.
- Love Hungry: Luna wishes for everypony's love and adulation because she was isolated in the moon for a thousand years and doesn't want to be feared.
- Mass "Oh, Crap!": While most of the Ponyville citizens are already (seemingly) screaming in terror on seeing Luna again, they go into Stunned Silence when she cancels Nightmare Night, forever.
- Medieval Stasis: A mild version, but if you've seen even excerpts from the original texts of Beowulf or The Canterbury Tales, it's still odd that apparently the only way language has changed over the past millennium is dropping the T-V distinction. (Arguably, it's more noticeable than the lack of any difference in Nightmare Moon's speech in "Friendship is Magic.")
- Merchandise-Driven: In an unusually drawn-out way — a playset of the Golden Oaks Library with characters in costumes from this episode became available in 2016, five years after this episode aired.
- Mummy: It's easy to miss, but background pony Lyra Heartstrings dresses up as one.◊
- Mundane Made Awesome:Twilight: I'm going to do what I do best — lecture her!
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
- Pinkie Pie's behavior towards Luna. She knew that Luna wasn't evil anymore and was trying to fit in with everyone else, yet pretended to be scared of her because "sometimes it's fun to be scared". This only served to rile up the younger ponies who were genuinely terrified of Luna and needlessly upsetting her in the process. Oh, and as a result, Luna nearly cancels Nightmare Night forever.
- Also inverted. At first blush, Rainbow Dash's lightning when Pinkie and Luna are trying to make amends seems to ruin Twilight's current plan. However, given that Pinkie already knew this was all in fun, Twilight may not have come up with a plan if Pinkie hadn't run off scared.
- No Indoor Voice: See Chewing the Scenery.
- Ever since this episode, the fandom refers to writing in all-caps as "Traditional Royal Canterlot Voice". It's sometimes rendered in shorthand as "the Royal Capslock" or "Canterlock".
- No-Sell: Rainbow Dash tries to scare Luna like everyone else with her thundercloud prank, Luna doesn't even flinch. However it works a bit too well on Pinkie Pie.
- Not Helping Your Case: Oh, Luna, you and your loud, reverberating voice is not going to convince the common pony that you are not evil.
- Not What It Looks Like: Several of Luna's actions.
- Princess Luna's Big Entrance looks like the return of Nightmare Moon rather than a social visit.
- Priness Luna's accidentally "choking" Fluttershy when she was hugging in thanks.
- Object-Tracking Shot: When Luna as Nightmare Moon appears, the gust blows Applejack's hat off her head. The camera follows the hat as it travels toward the statue of Nightmare Moon.
- Offscreen Crash: When Twilight "helps" Fluttershy to meet Luna.
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Averted. Luna uses "thou", "thee", and "thy" only when addressing single ponies, and "you" and "your" when speaking to multiple ponies. Also when speaking to single ponies, she attaches the "-est" suffix only to verbs where the listener is the subject.
- Only Sane Man: Twilight appears to be the only one who isn't afraid of Luna (aside from Rainbow Dash, who hardly seems to acknowledge her presence).
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
- Pipsqueak at times changes accents. It's assumed it's due to his young age.
- Tabitha St. Germain briefly slips in and out of her Rarity voice when Luna says "Fine, be that way! We won't even bother with the traditional royal farewell!"
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Scootaloo's costume.
- Palette Swap: The band that performed on stage are costumed palette swaps of the band who played on "The Best Night Ever".
- "Pan Up to the Sky" Ending: The episode ends with a pan up to the full moon in the night sky.
- Perky Goth: Luna seems to have much... creepier tastes than her big sis, if her terrifying chariot, menacing guard Pegasi, and overall Big Entrance are anything to go by. She's also a "fun" loving pony (once she learns what "fun" means) and wants to make friends.
- Poor Communication Kills:
- The whole episode would have been solved in seconds if Luna had been told that the townsponies were just pretending to be scared (or Twilight had thought of this possibility herself.)
- The Prankster: Rainbow Dash's prankster tendencies go up to eleven for Nightmare Night, and she spends the entire night running around pranking everyone with Dramatic Thunder. Even though it's supposed to be all in good fun, it has some unpleasant consequences. Luna does get one back at her.
- Pun-Based Title: To "lunar eclipse."
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
- Double-subverted when Luna tries, to her credit, to be reasonable. The problem is that she's a Fish out of Temporal Water with her outfit. It's hard to blame her for snapping canceling Nightmare Night when Pinkie Pie messes up her efforts to clean up her image. Eventually, she mellows when Pip thanks her for coming back to scare them.
- Subverted with the Mayor when Princess Luna first appears; she's just as scared as the other ponies and doesn't seem to realize that her Stunned Silence is offending Luna.
- Record Needle Scratch: There's one when Luna comes back to the party... even though the musicians are present in-universe.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The spiders created by Luna's spell have solid red eyes, as part of their exaggerated monstrous appearance.
- Reformed, but Rejected: Doesn't result in a return to villainy, but Luna does lose her temper due to her lingering bad reputation. As Pinkie reveals, it turns out they were just getting into the Nightmare Night spirit.
- Robe and Wizard Hat: Twilight puts these on, finished off with a Wizard Beard.
- Royal "We": Luna, as required by her (outdated) royal protocol. She says it herself. She seems to be confused about the appropriate use of the Royal "We", using it to refer to herself rather than the throne or the nation. She does occasionally refer to herself in the third person as "thy Princess", which is appropriate when the Royal "We" is used correctly.
- Rule of Symbolism: When Twilight first sees Luna after her Big Entrance, she's lying in the shadow of the Nightmare Moon statue.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Derpy Hooves wears a costume consisting of nothing but brown paper bags.◊note
- Running Gag:
- Nopony seems to know what Twilight's costume is except Princess Luna.
- Pinkie Pie and the kids running off screaming after seeing Luna do something that's not what it looks like.
- Throw in Rainbow Dash's Dramatic Thunder prank... that is... until Luna gives Rainbow Dash a dose of her own high-voltage medicine!
- Scary Scarecrows: Absolutely averted a la Applejack's adorable attire.◊
- Serial Escalation: We knew Tabitha St. Germain was the Queen of Pony Ham as Rarity and Photo Finish, but hot damn does she go the extra mile in this episode as LUNA, PRINCESS OF THE NIGHT!
- Serious Business: Free candy for Pinkie Pie.Pinkie Pie: Enough with the chitchat! Time is candy!
- Shaming the Mob: Luna incites a Mass "Oh, Crap!" when hitting her Rage Breaking Point at the crowds of ponies screaming in terror. She announces, in her Voice of the Legion, that she is canceling Nightmare Night forever. This definitely kills the mood of terror as she walks off in a fit of sadness, causing everyone to stare in shock.
- Pinkie and Luna reaching to touch hooves borrows from the scene in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Bonus points for this happening on Halloween/Nightmare Night. Twilight luring Pinkie using candy, Twilight's lines asking Pinkie not to scream before this shot, and the backing music cues during this sequence also are a tip of the hat to the film.
- One of the popular pastimes of Nightmare Night is apparently Punkin Chunkin'. Naturally, Luna proves to be an ace chunker.
- The banner above the stage has a bat that resembles the modern Batman logo on it, plus Nightmare Moon's face in the center à la the '60s Batman logo.
- Derpy empties Carrot Top's apple-bobbing tub. Thanks to a particular fan comic, Derpy emptying Carrot Top's fridge is considered a defining trait of their friendship.
- Some of the music heard in the background to the Nightmare Night celebrations sounds suspiciously like the theme from The Munsters.
- A lot of costumes worn by the ponies seem to be a reference to someone or something.
- Mrs. & Mr. Cake's costumes are of Raggedy Ann & Andy.
- Big Macintosh's costume has the poisoned apple◊ from Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on the cape, placed so as to cover his regular cutie mark.
- Goldengrape with a fake shark biting him◊ is Steve Zissou◊ from The Life Aquatic.
- Meadow Song wears a ninja outfit that bears a striking resemblance to Ermac from Mortal Kombat.
- Smoke Out: Zecora does a Smoke "In" to make a dramatic entrance before telling her spooky tale.
- Special Occasions Are Magic: Discussed, where the ponies believe that Nightmare Night (which is essentially Halloween but different) is when Nightmare Moon (Princess Luna's evil persona) returns and eats ponies, but it's not true.
- Spiders Are Scary: Princess Luna somehow thinks bringing several hoof-sized beanbag spiders to life will help her score more points in the "throw the spiders on the web" game, thus making her subjects less fearful of her. She thought incorrectly.
- Spider Swarm: Luna's unorthodox method of playing the spiderweb-beanbag-toss game involves turning the stuffed spiders into animated enormous arachnids and making them crawl onto the web.
- Spikes of Villainy: Princess Luna's chariot has these. Subverted, however, since Luna's being intimidating due to culture shock in this episode.
- Squeaky Eyes: Spike's audible blinks when Twilight explains who her costume is of.
- Stealth Pun:
- Considering Pinkie Pie's costume, it makes sense that she would overreact to Luna and run screaming in terror whenever she encounters her. She's "chicken".
- The Mayor of Ponyville goes to the festivities wearing make up and a rainbow wig. The politician is a clown. Think about it.
- Time for Plan B: Twilight says this. It even works for a while. Ultimately, it comes down to Plan D.
- Too Old to Trick-or-Treat: Pinkie Pie sure isn't.Pinkie: [trick-or-treating with a horde of foals] Enough chitchat! Time is candy!
Twilight: Pinkie Pie, aren't you a little old for this?
Pinkie: Too old for free candy? Never!
- Trail of Bread Crumbs: Twilight isolates Pinkie Pie in an alley with a trail of candies.
- Unreliable Expositor: Pinkie Pie through most of this episode. Borders on Trolling because she should probably know better.
- Standard Snippet: A lot of the episode's soundtrack is reminiscent of "In the Hall of the Mountain King", by Edvard Grieg.
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Zigzagged and ending on straight. Everything Twilight suggests on-screen works for a while, but gets sabotaged a few minutes later. Everything she promises to explain "on the way" is a success.
- Visual Pun: Pinkie Pie enjoys being scared, and spends the whole episode in a state of utter panic. So what is she dressed as?Pinkie Pie: I'm a chicken! BA-CAW!
- Voice of the Legion: Luna's tendency to refer herself as "we" and using her echo voice seems to help this one along. Different from No Indoor Voice, as Luna was shown to be able to speak in normal tone while keeping the echo.
- The Watson: Pipsqueak asks Zecora why the ponies have to offer candy to Nightmare Moon.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: After her arrival, Luna's demonically-dressed bodyguards aren't seen again and she drifts around Ponyville all on her own.
- What Is This Feeling?: LunaLuna: Your Princess enjoys this fun. In what other ways may we experience it?
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Twilight goes as Star Swirl the Bearded, complete with fake beard.
- Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Subverted, fortunately for the ponies that wanted to have fun. Pinkie Pie nearly ruins Nightmare Night for everyone because she thinks its fun getting scared and not realizing that Luna isn't in the right mindset yet to get into this.
- Wizard Beard: To go with Twilight's Robe and Wizard Hat. The wizard she's dressed as is even named "Star Swirl the Bearded".
- You Mean "Xmas": Basically, "Nightmare Night" is Halloween in all but name: nighttime, costumes, candy, and a monster that comes out only on this date every year. It even holds an "X-Mas" version of the full "Trick-Or-Treat" jingle.
- Your Costume Needs Work: Averted; Luna compliments Twilight's "Star Swirl the Bearded" costume for being obsessively accurate.