Rarity is preparing for a photo shoot with Photo Finish on the best manes in Equestria. While finishing up a to-do list, Rarity helps various ponies around town improve their sales. She helps the Flower Trio with color arrangements, helps a fan salespony with his storefront, and gets Davenport to see how to better his clientele. She stops by Sugarcube Corner, but Pinkie, throwing a party for the Cake babies, accidentally gets sticky silly string everywhere over the shop, including in Rarity's mane.
Since the string won't come out with brushing, Rarity and Pinkie visit Zecora. The zebra whips up super-shampoo for Rarity's mane and a potion remove the string from Sugarcube Corner. However, by accident, the identical looking potions gets swapped while Zecora warns not to try and fix a mane with magic, lest a pony invite disaster. As such, when Rarity examines her mane in the mirror after a shower, she's horrified to see her mane mostly missing, what little remains in sparse strands.
Rarity returns to Zecora, who promises to whip up a cure to fix the mistake. While this happens, Rarity attempts to conceal her mane beneath a cloak. It works, but nopony can recognize her, instead getting pushed back in line and having her fabulous look complimented by others who don't know it's Rarity beneath the cloak, causing Rarity to sulk. On accident, the hood of the cloak comes off, revealing Rarity's mane in public, causing her to flee to Twilight's castle. Twilight and Starlight attempt to fix Rarity's mane with magic, but like Zecora said, it doesn't work. Zecora herself enters the castle, telling Rarity she can't make a cure, but Rarity's normal hair should grow back on its own in time. However, this still leaves Rarity without a solution for the photo shoot.
Applejack tries giving Rarity a bonnet, but it won't work for the shoot. Rainbow Dash attempts to give Rarity a wig made of clouds, but it won't move with her. Fluttershy has her friends try and whip something up with leaves, but Rarity just gives up, saying her hair's a lost cause. The rest of the Mane Six and Starlight enter Carousel Boutique later, finding Rarity still sulking, eating gallons of ice cream. While Rarity says that the facts say that she's ugly, her friends remind her that she started a business empire and has helped countless ponies throughout her life. Rarity then realizes that the only one saying she was ugly was her, and ducks behind a changing curtain, coming out with a punk-inspired look that compliments her broken mane nicely. She returns to town to continue helping ponies, forgetting about the photo shoot and focusing simply on being her generous self.
Months later, Rarity's mane is back to normal. She's shocked to see her punk look on the front of the magazine for the best manes in Equestria. The Mane Six contacted Photo Finish, who took photos of Rarity while she was out and about. Now that Rarity is exemplified as beautiful on the inside and on the outside, her punk mane look starts catching on.
- An Aesop:
- What you look like on the outside isn't as important as how you feel on the inside.
- The only one who can make you feel inferior is you. Being confident makes you beautiful, no matter what you look like.
- Aesop Amnesia: Rarity told Sweetie Belle about how somepony can find beauty in anything no matter how drab it looks and about Mistmane who is a great example of being able to show beauty in your actions and kindness instead of just your appearance. Rarity was so distraught by the devastation of her mane that she couldn't recall any of that without the support of her friends. Lampshaded near the end.Applejack: But it's Rarity! If anyone can turn lemons into lemonade, it's her!
Fluttershy: I guess it's harder for her when she feels like the lemon.
- Ascended Extra:
- Mr. Breezy made a brief, silent appearance way back in "The Show Stoppers". In this episode, not only does he get several scenes where he speaks, but we also get a look inside his fan store.
- Davenport. He first appeared in "Owl's Well That Ends Well", had a brief speaking role in "Magical Mystery Cure", then was relegated to background appearances until this episode, where he is featured as one of the several ponies Rarity helps, even reserving a yellow sofa for her.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: Twilight Sparkle gives Rarity a mane that was taken from a Crystal Pony stallion which then shatters into pieces after a few seconds. Apparently, Crystal Pony manes are made out of glass.
- Brick Joke: When Rarity and Pinkie are walking to Zecora's, Pinkie's mane gets tangled up with leaves and twigs, apparently dislodging a red-crested bird. That same bird later pulled out a few strains of thread that make up AJ's bonnet headpiece, and then further places those strands on top of the leaves-and-twigs mane that Fluttershy offers.
- Brutal Honesty: As a Running Gag, nopony is able to pretend that Rarity's ruined mane isn't bad. It gets to the point where Rarity pulls an Immediate Self-Contradiction towards Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy, complaining about their brief, yet brutally honest reactions after stating that she needed their honest opinions about her attempt to make her mane look good for Photo Finish's photoshoot.
- The Bus Came Back: In the original broadcast order, this is Zecora's first speaking appearance (and non-cameo appearance) since "The Cutie Re-Mark Part 2".note
- When Zecora says the only way to undo the potion's effects would be to go back in time and undo the switch, Rarity seems set to try. Starlight says that both she and Twilight know that that's not a good choice, referring to their respective less-than-stellar experiences with time travel in "It's About Time" and "The Cutie Re-Mark".
- When the other characters are cheering Rarity up and reminding her of how generous and beautiful she really is, Applejack brings up the time she chopped off her tail to fix Steven Magnet's mustache in the show's premiere.
- The Cameo:
- During the Cold Open, Grand Pear is seen selling pear-based baked goods alongside Granny Smith in the marketplace. Burnt Oak briefly appears in the background just before that, talking with Apple Bloom.
- Sugar Belle can be seen walking with Big Mac when Applejack brings Rarity to the farm.
- Diamond Tiara is seen in the opening going to buy flowers with her father.
- Octavia and Vinyl Scratch are seen waiting in line at the flower trio's stand.
- The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Fluttershy invokes this when Applejack makes her "when life gives you lemons" argument, saying it might be harder for Rarity when she is the proverbial lemon. Rarity subverts this once she realizes her talents come from inside her and are not dependent on her looks.
- Comically Missing the Point: When Pinkie sees Rarity for the first time after the latter fixed her ruined mane — by weaving hair of other colors in the gaps to make a striped mohawk — and completed the look with a punk leather jacket, Pinkie says there's something different about her... and then asks if she's using new hoof polish.
- Continuity Nod:
- Big Macintosh and Sugar Belle are shown walking through Sweet Apple Acres together, sharing loving looks. They started a relationship in "Hard to Say Anything".
- After messing up her mane, Rarity spends the majority of the episode in the same black hooded cloak she was briefly wearing in "Fame and Misfortune".
- The Darkness Gazes Back: Played for Laughs. When Rarity and Pinkie are walking through the Everfree to reach Zecora's home, Rarity's fears about the dangers of the forest are highlighted by the glowing, slitted yellow eyes of unknown forest creatures appearing in the shadows around them and looking back at them. These eyes keep appearing as Rarity and Pinkie walk along the path — up until Rarity snaps and yells at them, at which point the creatures scamper off.
- Delinquent Hair: Once she accepts that she can't grow back her ruined mane quickly, Rarity opts to turn it into a multicolored punk mohawk. Downplayed as it's portrayed as a great fashion choice and inspires a manestyle trend long after her own mane has grown back.
- Didn't Think This Through:
- Using the Super Sticky Celebration String led to Pinkie Pie creating a big list of problems in no time. One of them being the cause of the episode.
- Zecora could've prevented the episode if she had the foresight to label the bottles before mixing the Magic Remover and the Super Sudsy Shampoo, seeing as how they both look the same.
- Pinkie Pie could've prevented the episode if she shared some of that cleaner she used to remove the Super Sticky Celebration String from herself and the Cake Twins before going with Rarity to see Zecora!
- Did You Get a New Haircut?: Inverted. Rarity does get a new manecut, and a new outfit to match it. Pinkie notices there's something different about Rarity... and wonders if she's wearing new hoof polish.
- Easily Forgiven: Pinkie is mostly at fault for getting Rarity's mane ruined; first by spraying Rarity with the Super Sticky Celebration String, and then by encouraging Zecora to share a Mane Horror Story that scares Rarity into accidentally mixing up the potions. But as a true friend, Rarity doesn't begrudge or reprimand Pinkie since things turned out great in the end. If anything, she was more worried that Pinkie got into trouble of her own from the mix-up.
- Equivalent Exchange: The tricky part about mane magic is that a mane can't be produced from nothing at all (or rather you can but the result won't be good), but apparently needs to come from somewhere. The first time Twilight and Starlight try to give Rarity a new mane, they succeed... by making a random crystal pony's mane vanish and reappear on Rarity's head before shattering. The second time they try they end up giving her a wooden mane, while also making a chunk of wood in the shape of a mane vanish from one of Twilight's doors.Twilight Sparkle: You can't just make a mane with magic. The results could be disastrous.
Rarity: [points at her mane] MORE DISASTROUS THAN THIS!!!??
- Even the Dog Is Ashamed: Or cat. Opalescence freaks out in horror upon seeing Rarity's messed-up mane, just like everyone else, and runs off.
- Extreme Doormat: Rarity becomes one after her hair is ruined. She loses her confidence and becomes too timid to speak up.
- Fictional Holiday: During the Cold Open, several ponies are lined up to get flowers for "Mare's Day", evidently a ponified equivalent to the real-life Women's Day.
- Funny Background Event: During the scene at Sugar Cube Corner near the end of the episode, Applejack can be seen through the front door playing with Pound Cake's fluffy, shampoo-enhanced mane.
- Gale-Force Sound: Rarity's scream when she realizes she's lost her mane shakes the whole boutique.
- Get Out!: Not in so few words, but Zecora's reaction to Pinkie asking her to tell her spooky mane magic stories.Zecora: There is one story I nearly forgot: of an earth pony who needed to clean up her shop.
Pinkie Pie: Wow, that's just what I have to do! Huh, weird.
Zecora: Perhaps it'd be better if I were more clear. You can't clean up Sugarcube Corner from here.
Pinkie Pie: Geez, Zecora, I can take a hint!
- The Ghost: Photo Finish is mentioned several times in this episode, but doesn't make a physical appearance. However, she is seen in a magazine.
- Hair Flip: Rarity does this several times before the "incident" to cue the audience into how much of her swagger is tied into her mane. She also does it with the cloud mane Rainbow made for her as part of how much she likes it.
- Immediate Self-Contradiction: Rarity becomes so exasperated by everypony's brief, yet brutally honest reactions, that she pulls this towards Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy, complaining about their own reactions (along with Opal's) after stating that she needed their honest opinions about her attempt to make her mane look good for Photo Finish's photoshoot.Rarity: [nervously] Ta-da...! How awful is it?
[Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy gawk at her horrid appearance before Opal sees it and runs away screeching]
Rarity: Oh, come on! Can't anypony pretend it's not bad!?
- Innocently Insensitive: The ponies who ignore Rarity while she's keeping herself covered up do a number to her self-confidence, but they aren't mean-spirited about it in the slightest. In fact, a number of them are ironically singing praises about Rarity without realizing she's there.
- Insignificant Anniversary: Pinkie Pie celebrates the Cake twins' "sneeze-iversary" (anniversary of their first sneeze).
- Leitmotif: Punk Rarity is introduced by an electric guitar motif.
- Never Trust a Hair Tonic: Apparently, mane magic is ridiculously hard to use. When Twilight Sparkle and Starlight Glimmer (two of the setting's most powerful magic-users) try to use magic to restore Rarity's hair, the spell either takes the hair from another pony, creates wooden hair from a chunk of a door, or causes long hair to appear on the castle's walls. Zecora's potions are just as much a longshot.
- Not Allowed to Grow Up: It's the one-year anniversary of the first time Pound and Pumpkin sneezed. They look and act exactly the same as they did in their debut episode, when they were explicitly one month old.
- Not So Stoic:
- Even Zecora, the calm and collected zebra, freaks out when she first sees Rarity's ruined mane.
- Opal, Rarity's pet cat, freaks out and runs away with a screech when she sees it herself.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Rarity's reaction when she looks herself in the mirror and realizes that she's used the magical remover potion Zecora made for Pinkie rather than the shampoo she requested, causing most of her mane to fall out — right before she's scheduled for a photo shoot.
- This is also her reaction when she finally realizes that Pinkie's actually got the shampoo.
- Prehensile Hair: Pinkie uses her forelock and tail to grip and play her accordion during the Cake twins' sneezeiversary. Later, when bringing back her potion from Zecora's hut, Pinkie grabs it by wrapping her front curl around it like a tentacle. She's seen still holding it this way when back at Sugarcube Corner, and she apparently has enough dexterity with her curl to use it to pour out the bottle.
- Pun-Based Title: The main things about Rarity are her generosity and confidence, not her mane.
- Rapid Hair Growth: The third spell Twilight and Starlight use to try and fix Rarity's mane ends up causing extremely long ropes of multicolored hair to grow from the caste's walls themselves.
- Running Gag:
- An unusually small pileated woodpecker springs out of Pinkie's mane en route to Zecora's, and later makes various uses of the attempts to fix Rarity's mane.
- Rarity keeps getting exasperated by everypony's brief, yet brutally honest reactions towards her ruined mane.
- Schizo Tech: During her preparations for the photo shoot, Rarity visits Mr. Breezy's store, which is full of apparently electric fans.
- Scream Discretion Shot: When Rarity gets a look in the mirror at her mane (or what's left of it), we get a shot of the Carousel Boutique as she lets out a huge scream that's loud enough to shake the whole place up.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: An unfortunate Crystal Pony stallion gives a high-pitched shriek of horror when his mane vanishes as a side-effect of Twilight and Starlight's first attempt to magically restore Rarity's hair.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: In the Vanity Mare magazine, there's a photo of Rarity talking to Davenport while sitting on the yellow chaise that she didn't buy. Apparently, the purchase didn't go through after Davenport and/or the mare who bid three times the amount saw what happened to Rarity.
- Vanity Mare is a reference to the real-life fashion magazine Vanity Fair.
- Rarity curling inside her cloak with only the eyes visible makes her look like Garfield on a Monday.
- While probably a coincidence, Pinkie asking for a Mane Horror Story "about curls that keep on curling until your body is one big curl" sounds awfully similar to one chapter that happened in the famous horror manga Uzumaki.
- Shut Up, Scary Thing: Rarity and Pinkie are watched by yellow-eyed creatures in the Everfree Forest. Rarity eventually snaps at them and scares them away.Rarity: Listen, spooky eyes! Why don't you take a picture?! It will last longer!
- Similar Item Confusion: Zecora's potions are the same color, are put into the same type of bottle, and have no labels.
- Solid Clouds: Played with. The cloud wig that Rainbow Dash fashions for Rarity is decent enough (Rarity describes it as "quite fetching"), but since Rarity isn't a pegasus, who have the Required Secondary Powers, it doesn't follow her head when she steps away.
- Stating the Simple Solution: Applejack essentially offers the idea for Rarity to have a wig of her old mane made, but Rarity rejects this on the grounds it won't be authentic.
- Sticky Situation: Pinkie Pie kicks off the episode's plot by spraying the inside of Sugarcube Corner with super-sticky celebration string. Rarity gets a brush stuck in her mane, and Pinkie ends up using a crowbar to detach the Cake twins from the floor.
- Squee: Rainbow Dash absolutely loves Rarity's punk style look and multi-colored mane. This is most likely because punk is more of a masculine look and Rainbow Dash is the Tomboy of the group (while Applejack isn't particularly feminine either, Rainbow Dash hotly insists that she hates girly things while Applejack is more open to dressing up or going to the spa on occasion) and her love of Rarity's dyed mane likely stems from how her own mane is multi-colored with a more rugged look to it.
- Time Skip: The last scene of the episode takes place months after the rest, after enough time for Rarity's mane to grow back completely.
- True Beauty Is on the Inside: Once Rarity embraces this, she manages to fashion a style worthy of her inner beauty despite her ruined mane.
- Unfortunate Item Swap: Zecora's shampoo and removal potion, both of them being the same color and unlabeled.
- Ungrateful Bitch: Filthy Rich buys flowers for Spoiled Rich during the Cold Opening, but he ends up returning them because apparently Spoiled likes only purple flowers.
- Whammy Bid: When Davenport states that Rarity's yellow chaise "is spoken for", he inadvertently triggers a short bidding war between two mares trying to snipe it from whomever had ordered it. He immediately sells it for three times whatever Rarity promised.
- When Life Gives You Lemons...: Treated as a [Popular Saying], But....Applejack: But it's Rarity! If anypony can turn lemons into lemonade, it's her.
Fluttershy: I guess it's harder for her when she feels like the lemon.
Twilight Sparkle: Well she's not a lemon, she's our friend.
- You Are the New Trend: By the end of episode, Rarity's new manestyle becomes a trend among the residents of Ponyville (and apparently a long-lasting one, considering months had passed).