Twilight Sparkle and her friends return from stopping the Storm King from taking over Equestria, and discover the map in her castle has expanded to include the various locations outside of Equestria they had to visit. Twilight realizes there is a larger world of ponies and other species outside of Equestria that could be dangerous, but they could help spread the message of friendship, too. She decides to open a school to help teach this. Princess Celestia agrees with Twilight, but cautions her that she will have to get the school approved by the Equestria Education Association (EEA), which oversees all educational activities in Equestria.
Twilight prepares her plan for the school and presents it to the EEA, led by Chancellor Neighsay. Neighsay is concerned about the ability of Twilight and her friends to run the school given their regular adventures, but Twilight convinces him that the school is an important part of defending the realm and parts beyond. Neighsay grants preliminary approval on the basis that the school will help teach ponies how to protect themselves from threats outside Equestria, ignoring Twilight's insistence that it's meant to help them get along. Neighsay provides her with a detailed EEA rule-book to follow.
Twilight and her friends construct the school next to her castle, and when they open it up, Twilight reveals she not only has brought in pony students, but students from the other kingdoms. The pupils include Gallus the griffon, Ocellus the changeling, Yona the yak, Silverstream the seapony (who is able to take her hippogriff form at will with help of a necklace), and Smolder the dragon. Those five, along with Sandbar, a local earth pony, become quick friends.
The school seems to start off okay, with Twilight and her friends teaching the students, but Twilight gradually recognizes that their ways of teaching are against the EEA book, and makes sure both teachers and students conform to the rules. This quickly sours the mood at the school, but Twilight insists they need to do this to get EEA accreditation. Many of the students begin to doubt that Twilight and her friends are the apparent heroes of Equestria they claim to be, since they are so boring as professors. On the Friends and Family day, during which Chancellor Neighsay plans to review Twilight's efforts, Gallus and Smolder convince their friends to ditch classes. This leads to some panic by Twilight, Starlight Glimmer, and Rainbow Dash when they find they've gone missing while under the eagle-eye of Neighsay. The six students, having spent enough time to relax at a local lake and get to know each other better, decide to fly back to the school; this leads them to ask Ocellus what forms she can transform into, which she demonstrates by becoming a giant insect just as they near the school where all their family and friends have gathered. This creates a mass panic, quickly ruining the ceremony. Neighsay is outraged by it, and is even more livid when he finds that there are non-ponies enrolled at the school. His angry outbursts at the non-pony students anger the various non-pony guardians, such as Prince Rutherford and Dragon Lord Ember, who decide that the school is not helping teach their students friendship, and take them away, while Neighsay immediately closes it, placing a magical lock to prevent anyone entering it.
Continued in "School Daze Part 2".
- Acting Unnatural: When Rainbow Dash is looking for the missing students, she has to make an excuse to cover for their absence in front of Chancellor Neighsay. He doesn't seem to buy it and decides to follow her to see if she's on the level.
- An Aesop:
- Although it's important to observe rules in most cases, if the end results of those rules is harmful instead of beneficial, then maybe the rules are flawed or they're being observed too strictly with inflexibility.
- Real friendship is something you can't record into or acquire from a book. And it's definitely something that can't be taught and learned in a formal classroom and curriculum that conforms to strict and inflexible standards.
- Amplifier Artifact: Neighsay's EEA badge amplifies his magic so he can cast the locking spell on Twilight's school.
- Asleep in Class: Pinkie Pie, the teacher for the Element of Laughter, Angel Bunny, and Silverstream all show instances of falling asleep at their desks. Instead of waking the student up and promptly reprimanding her, Fluttershy covers her with a blanket and then pushes her pet closer into Silverstream's arm.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Played with. When the students return from their trip to the lake, Neighsay thinks they're attacking because a giant dragonfly/scorpion-like creature is among them. It's just Ocellus in a different form, trying to out-weird Yona.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Having spent most of her life underwater, Silverstream is captivated by everything she sees on the surface.Silverstream: This place is amazing! I've spent most of my life in a coral reef, underwater. I was a seapony, but now I'm a hippogriff. Long story. Anyway — WOW! Is that a yak?!
- Bait-and-Switch: Subverted. Right after the school is revealed, Rainbow Dash complains that it's too much. Cut to Rarity in a typical school teacher outfit... only for Dash to say no, she was actually talking about the school itself.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: While the students are cutting class, Ocellus takes on the form of a giant flying insect with a stinger. This results in panic when she flies over the "Friends and Family Day" gathering.
- Blatant Lies: Gallus claims that griffons breathe fire when they get mad.
- Body Wipe: Done three times during the "School of Friendship" song, first by a random mare, second by Sandbar, and third by Twilight.
- Bowled Over: Gallus, while carrying Sandbar, accidentally drops him, causing the young earth pony to crash into the world leaders, knocking them over like bowling pins.
- Brief Accent Imitation: Ocellus's imitation of Rarity greatly exaggerates her "darling" habit, among other things. Fluttershy falls for it, but Angel Bunny is suspicious.
- The Bus Came Back: Grampa Gruff returns after being seen in "The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone" back in season 5.
- Call-Back: The events of the movie are recounted. It's revealed that instead of staying in Ponyville, Tempest is spreading the news of the Storm King's defeat — and sharing what she learned about friendship — across Equestria. In fact, the existence of a whole lot of places beyond Equestria is what motivates Twilight Sparkle to found the School of Friendship, for ponies to be better prepared for eventual threats coming from beyond their borders.
- Comforting Comforter: A blink-and-you-miss-it bit in the last line of "School of Friendship" shows Fluttershy covering a sleeping Silverstream with a blanket after the latter falls Asleep in Class.
- Comically Missing the Point: Pinkie Pie, when the Mane Six discuss the expansion of the map.Pinkie Pie: How many friendship quests do you think we need to go on before we have to expand the throne room?
Twilight Sparkle: We can't do it all alone.
Pinkie Pie: Sure we can! We just need to knock this wall down, get some paint...
- Continuity Nod:
- She may have got over her issues at reading books, but Rainbow Dash still doesn't want to look like an egg-head to others.
- The entrance to the School of Friendship is lined with busts of the Pillars of Old Equestria.
- Crash-Into Hello: This is how Sandbar and Gallus meet each other.
- Cringe Comedy: Rainbow Dash's lame excuses before Chancellor Neighsay for having lost sight of her students.Rainbow Dash: Uh— gone somewhere else! Doing a loyalty lesson! And, and I was just going to grab, uh... this pencil! Because they need it. Wherever they are! Which I know, 'cause... I'm the teacher!
- Cute Clumsy Girl: Yona, the student from Yakyakistan, is an exuberant ball of energy who is prone to accidentally crashing into anything and anyone in her path like a shaggy wrecking ball (mostly thanks to tripping on her long, braided hair).
- Dish Dash: The first time Yona starts crashing into things, Pinkie Pie has to rush in to save a potted plant, balancing it on her head, a bust of Flash Magnus, holding it in her hoof, and a banner that drapes across her foreleg.
- Double Take: Ocellus after one of Smolder's comments:Smolder: I take back everything I said about you! That was cool!
Ocellus: Thanks! Wait, what did you say about me?
- Dramatically Missing the Point:
- When Twilight proposes her school to the EEA, she explains it to be a way to teach friendship and understanding to all creatures, but Chancellor Neighsay believes it to be a way for ponies to properly learn to defend themselves against various "dangerous creatures", and immediately shuts it down when he discovers those very creatures have been welcomed as students.
- Twilight herself falls victim to them when she insists on the Mane Six following EEA guidelines to the letter in their classes, except, as the Mane Six lament once she leaves, there's nothing in the book about teaching virtues like Loyalty and Honesty. Twilight is trying to run the School of Friendship as a proper education facility, not realizing the intention of the school doesn't roll up to that model.
- Eye Twitch: Twilight suffers this when Chancellor Neighsay arrives to inspect the school.
- Angel Bunny face-paws at Fluttershy's rehearsal of greeting for her students, since she's, as usual, not terribly assertive.
- Later, Starlight Glimmer face-hoofs after hearing Rainbow Dash's not-so-convincing excuses for her students disappearing.
- Fantastic Racism:
- Chancellor Neighsay wants to keep the friendship school open specifically to help ponies against the other races of Equestria. When he finds out that the school will admit any creature, he promptly locks the school gates with a magic spell (though his stated reasons for closing the school are due to rule violations and other such things, not the species of the students).
- The students themselves start out this way, bickering over the differences between their races. Once they start helping each other skip class and have genuine fun together, they start to look past it.
- Foreshadowing: Neighsay thinking that the school is about teaching ponies to defend themselves, and holding the view even after Twilight explains what she actually intends it for, shows how he'll respond later in the episode.
- Gilligan Cut: Spike wonders "how hard could it be" to convince the EEA to approve Twilight's friendship school. The next shot is them in a spotlight before the EEA, with the camera angle treating the councilors like The Omniscient Council of Vagueness, where Spike admits it might be "really hard, actually."
- Huge Schoolgirl: Yona the yak is certainly one with her enthusiastic and boisterous personality.
- Hypocritical Humor: During the argument in the hallway, Smolder says that maybe dragons and griffons are just too tough for friendship... before sharing a fist bump with Gallus, showing that the two are already bonding as friends.
- The Klutz: Yona has a habit of tripping on her braids. Gallus outright calls her this during their argument.
- Last-Second Word Swap: Rainbow Dash has to correct herself mid-speech to not clue in Chancellor Neighsay that not everything is going "by the book".Twilight Sparkle: Rainbow Dash! Why aren't you in class teaching?
Rainbow Dash: Because my students are gone!
[Twilight and Starlight frantically gestures toward Chancellor Neighsay]
Rainbow Dash: Uh— gone somewhere else! Doing a loyalty lesson!
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: The episode opens with the map showing the places visited during the movie, and the Mane Six discussing what happened. This includes Tempest's HeelFace Turn and the defeat of the Storm King. It also writes in Tempest's absence as spreading the message of the Storm King's defeat.
- Meaningful Name: Ocellus means "simple eye", indicating her role of seeing and learning friendship on behalf of the changeling kingdom.
- Multinational Team: The featured ensemble at Twilight's school is selected from different non-pony communities beyond Equestria and includes a griffon, a changeling, a yak, a hippogriff, a dragon, and a Token White earth pony, all gathered to learn The Power of Friendship from ponies and each other.
- Never Say "Die": Tempest Shadow is absent from the season because she left to spread word across the world of the Storm King's "defeat".
- New Transfer Student: The non-pony students Gallus, Silverstream, Yona, Ocellus and Smolder are like these since the rest of the students are of the three types of ponies.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The school starts out good with the students having fun and getting along and the Mane Six each getting into a groove with how to teach, but Twilight insists on doing everything "by the book" and removes everything that made the classes fun and different. This leaves the Mane Six unsure on how to teach properly and the students bored with the same class and cranky enough to get into a fight in the hallway.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat:
- Twilight initially wants to follow the EEA's guidelines for a school to a tee, which bores the students and the teachers alike (not to mention pony-centric). After just a few days, the students start skipping class to get away from it.
- Chancellor Neighsay insists on everything being done completely by the EEA's guidelines, and shuts down the School of Friendship when it doesn't.
- Out-of-Character Moment: When her friends are all starting to freak out from the students getting difficult, Twilight Sparkle is the one to stay uncharacteristically calm, and to assure them despite this rough start, everything is going to be okay. Which is immediately lampshaded by Spike.Spike: Who are you and what have you done with Twilight Sparkle?
- Pie in the Face: Grampa Gruff (who's just escaped being bowled over) gets a large cake in the face from Yona (carried by Silverstream and Smolder) crashing into the buffet table. He later eats some of it.
- Prehensile Hair: Pinkie Pie demonstrates again that she can write with the forelock of her mane, this time with chalk on a blackboard.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
- Chancellor Neighsay's "By. The. Book!" when he expects Twilight to run the school by their standards.
- Rainbow Dash's "Break... it... up!" while preventing Yona and Gallus from starting a fight.
- Put on a Bus: Tempest Shadow is stated to be traveling outside of Equestria to spread word about the Storm King's defeat.
- Reality Ensues: As the girls point out, you can't just expect someone with no experience in the job to suddenly act as a teacher.
- School Festival: Friends and Family Day.
- Scooby-Dooby Doors: The main students go through a similar sequence by going from class to class in the "School of Friendship" song, although here there is no pursuit involved.
- Self-Deprecation: The first line after the reveal of the over-the-top, highly toyetic school is Rainbow Dash yelling "It's too much!"
- Series Continuity Error:
- The pirate ship is added to the Cutie Map, even though Tempest should've destroyed it.
- The mountain that the School of Friendship was built on didn't actually exist when the Friendship Castle was created.
- General Seaspray shares a name with a certain Transformer.
- One of Applejack's honesty classes features a picture of a pony with an elongated nose on her chalkboard, referencing the classic story Pinocchio.
- Twilight going up against the council is reminiscent of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
- Shrinking Violet: Ocellus is initially so nervous about being at the school that she takes on the form of a dragon and then a pony rather than show her true self.
- Skipping School: Gallus convinces the rest of the non-pony students and Sandbar to do this right on Friends and Family Day.
- Split Screen: In the expository song showing the lessons, when things start to go wrong, the five teachers singing in unison are shown in a screen split in five panels, and then same things for the students over six panels.
- Stealth Pun: Silverstream having lived underwater as a seapony for as long as she can remember before coming to the School of Friendship makes her a Fish out of Water in more ways than one.
- Super-Speed Reading: Chancellor Neighsay is seen browsing through Twilight's school curriculum in a few seconds.
- Surfer Dude: Sandbar talks in this manner.Sandbar: [to Smolder] Whoa, cool it! No need to harsh Yona's love for her heritage, 'kay?
- Team Dad: Sandbar serves as this for the students, trying to defuse the argument between Smolder and Yona, and going with them when they cut class in order to make sure they don't get into trouble.
- Team Hand-Stack: Just as the school is about to open, the Mane Six join hooves, seen from above, to reaffirm their commitment in becoming teachers.
- Thinking Up Portals: Instead of the teleportation seen used by various skilled unicorns and the princesses, Chancellor Neighsay opens portals and then walks through them.
- Time Skip: After Twilight gets the plans for her school approved, the episode skips past all the necessary construction to opening day.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Celestia explaining Twilight about the EEA, its guidelines and how not even herself is above their standards makes Twilight want to follow them to the tiniest detail, which in turn causes some students to skip class and cause the incident that ends up getting the school closed.
- What Is This Feeling?: As the classes grow dull and uninteresting, Silverstream finds herself asking this.Silverstream: Is this what boring is? Am I bored?
- World Building:
- Locations well outside the bounds of Equestria, introduced in the movie, expand into the show; this also includes the introduction of the hippogriffs/seaponies as yet another new species.
- The School of Friendship now exists next to the Friendship Castle in Ponyville.
- You Were Trying Too Hard: Twilight's attempts to follow thing "by the book" takes all the fun out of classes for both the students and their teachers, and makes the students cranky enough to get into fights with each other. When the students skip class and do things their own way they all become friends pretty quickly.