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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S8 E21 "A Rockhoof and a Hard Place"

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Rockhoof is helping with the excavation of his old village with Professor Fossil. However, between his overpowering strength and his lack of regard for the historical nature of the artifacts, he's not a good fit for the job, so Fossil sends him to Twilight Sparkle. Twilight decides to make him a professor at the School of Friendship. During the class, he starts to tell tales of his fight with an Ursa Major, which enraptures the students, particularly Yona. However, as he acts out more and more, he starts destroying parts of the classroom. Twilight and Applejack ask to speak to him privately, explaining he needs to be less active in the classroom. As they are talking, they witness flames coming out of a school window, and before Twilight can stop him, Rockhoof goes to rescues the students in the classroom below and put the fire out. Too late, he learns that it was just fire from one of Spike and Smolder's fire-breathing contests, and he has ruined some of the sewing Rarity was doing.

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As being a teacher is not working out, the Mane 6 try to find Rockhoof a job around Ponyville but none of them prove fruitful. They decide that maybe if they can show Rockhoof how the other Pillars have integrated into society, he might find a route for himself. Twilight and Applejack take Rockhoof across Equestria, finding that Flash Magnus has become a drill sergeant for the royal guard, Mistmane tends to the crystal gardens in the Crystal Empire, Somnabula has become a motivational coach, and Meadowbrook has reopened and expanded her old clinic. Further, Star Swirl is still learning about friendship, and Stygian has become a popular author writing about his own past. Rockhoof feels even more out of place after the trip. Twilight gets another idea, as to have Rockhoof enlist in the hippogriff navy under General Seaspray. As they set sail, Rockhoof directs Seaspray to follow a constellation, remembering that it has always led the way to safety. However, the ship quickly runs aground due to the stars' having shifted positions over the last thousand years, and Seaspray dismisses Rockhoof from the service.

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With no other options, Rockhoof asks Twilight to cast a spell that will turn him into a statue, which shocks Twilight. She insists there must be another option, and has Spike teach her class while she tries to work out a solution. In class, Spike has the students write an essay about heroism, which gives Yona an idea. After class, she approaches Rockhoof and reads her essay, describing how she felt like an outsider at first but discovered a way to fit in, and telling him of her appreciation for him. She then shows Rockhoof a crowd of students waiting outside, all eager to hear the rest of his story about fighting the Ursa Major. Twilight, thinking she has found a solution, is surprised to find the crowd hanging on his every word. Seeing how much happiness his stories bring, Twilight appoints Rockhoof as Equestria's official Keeper of Tales so that he can pass his stories of a bygone era on to others. Grateful to have found a purpose that suits him, Rockhoof starts into a new story.


Tropes:

  • An Aesop: The world always has a place for everyone, it just takes a while to find it.
  • Argument of Contradictions: When Rockhoof initially tries to convince Twilight to cast the stone spell on him, it results in a series of rapid-fire "no's" and "aye's"
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Rockhoof is huge and incredibly strong, but quite jovial and friendly to everyone he meets.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Rockhoof returns after his last seen appearance in the Season 7 finale.
    • The other Pillars of Equestria (minus Star Swirl the Bearded) also return.
  • Call-Back:
  • The Cameo:
    • Cranky Doodle Donkey and Zecora make brief appearances during the scenes of Rockhoof's attempted new jobs.
    • Cattail is briefly seen inside Meadowbrook's clinic.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Spike tells the class that Rockhoof wants to be turned to stone, then moves on to assigning them an essay.
    Yona: No!
    Spike: Oh, don't worry. It doesn't have to be a long essay.
  • Commonality Connection:
    • Yona quickly takes to Rockhoof, since he is big and strong, like a yak (and according to Gallus, also smells like one).
    • Seaspray empathizes with Rockhoof's situation, since the Hippogriffs know what it's like to adapt to a new home, admitting that it felt like the world had moved on without them.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Rockhoof recalls how he saved his village from a river of lava.
    • Meadowbrook's home is seen once again.
    • Silverstream mentions her brother, Terramar.
  • Cool Scars: Seaspray has a few scars across his face, which he previously didn't have in his debut.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Rockhoof reaches it when he starts to feel that he has no place in the modern world, to the point he requests Twilight to turn him into a stone statue.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: One of Rockhoof's biggest problems throughout the episode is that he unwittingly causes damage or destruction whenever attempting a new livelihood, such as in the classroom when he's teaching or in the Ponyville spa as a masseuse.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Rockhoof asking to be turned into a stone statue sounds all too much like someone contemplating suicide.
  • Easily Forgiven: After Rockhoof accidentally causes the Hippogriff ship to crash into some rocks, Seaspray dismisses him but doesn't show any signs of anger when doing it, even saying it was an honor to serve with him. Silverstream later excitedly tells the tale to her classmates after hearing it from her brother Terramar.
  • Eye Remember: When Rockhoof sees what appears to be a fire (actually Spike and Smolder having a fire-breathing contest), images of the volcano he fought appear in both his eyes.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Rockhoof has to adjust to centuries of technological advancements and cultural changes. This is even more painful for him when all the other Pillars have found a comfortable niche in modern society.
  • Fridge Logic: In an In-Universe example, Applejack wonders why the hippogriffs need ships, when they can easily turn themselves into seaponies. Twilight makes a weak guess that they "like cruises" and the question is quickly forgotten.
  • Friend to All Children: Rockhoof gets along great with the students at the School of Friendship. They all enjoy hearing his stories and admire his feats in modern time and say he is weird in a good way. Yona especially likes him since he is Not So Different from Yaks.
  • Hero Worship: All the students at the school like Rockhoof, but none more so than Yona, who admires him greatly and says she wants to be just like him.
  • Incoming Ham: Rockhoof's method of introducing himself to his Theory and Defense of Friendship class is to bellow "HELLO, CLASS!" and then smash through the doorway.
  • Innocently Insensitive: When Spike subs for Twilight's class, he casually announces Twilight can't make it because she is going to turn Rockhoof to stone. He doesn't bother explaining it is what Rockhoof wants when asked why, and after giving the assignment to the class and hearing Yona moan "no" over Rockhoof, he thinks she is moaning over the assignment.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: A rare good example. In class, Yona gushes over Rockhoof and states "day cannot get better." As soon as she says this, Rockhoof busts through the wall to get the students outside, due to thinking there is a fire. As he is about to fling Yona outside to "safety", Yona gains a giant grin and screams "day just got better!"
  • It Belongs in a Museum: Professor Fossil says all the artifacts at Rockhoof's old village need to be carefully preserved, including the little ball he kicks around which was designed to be kicked.
  • Like a Duck Takes to Water:
    • Flash Magnus is seen leading the first company of guards that is a mix of the other types — both the white pegasus and both types of unicorns.
    • Stygian's writing about the past has produced multiple best-sellers, notably giving him the respect he wanted during the time with the Pillars. While he is still weaker by comparison, his time spent with them is paying off more now than 1000 years ago, giving both him and the Pillars more renown.
  • Lotus Position: Somnambula and the rest of her motivational speaker class do a close approximation of this yoga posture. "Close approximation" because, well, pony legs just don't work that way....
  • Metaphorically True: When the students are discussing Rockhoof in class, they talk about some of his recent feats but get a few of the details wrong. Sandbar says he gathered all the bees in the Everfree Forest as a gift to Zecora, when he was actually giving her the leaves she needed and accidentally brought the bees with them. Silverstream says Terramar told her that Rockhoof called down the stars and sunk the whole Hippogriff Navy, when he actually sunk one ship due to misleading them by following the stars.
  • Out of Job, Into the Plot: Rockhoof's inability to fit in at what was once his own village.
  • Reality Ensues: Rockhoof attempt to navigate the Hippogriffs' ship by following the stars in a constellation. Unfortunately, the stars have shifted position over the last 1000 years, leading to the ship crashing into some rocks.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Bulk Biceps, when Rockhoof applies a little too much pressure when giving him a massage.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: This is how Rockhoof got his job as a keeper of the tales. Bonus points since Twilight is the Headmaster of the School of Friendship. And a Princess too.
    Twilight Sparkle: As the Princess of Friendship, I'd like to appoint you as Equestria's official keeper of tales!
    Spike: Can you do that?
    Twilight Sparkle: [shrugs] Eh?
  • Series Continuity Error: It's mentioned that Discord was put in "stone-sleep", but "Keep Calm and Flutter On" made clear he was fully conscious while he was encased in stone.
  • Shockwave Stomp:
    • During his argument with Twilight, Rockhoof slams a hoof down, hard enough to briefly lift Twilight and Spike off the floor.
    • He does it again from frustration in Meadowbrooke's tree house, forcing her to catch some medical supplies falling from shelves.
  • Taken for Granite: Rockhoof is a rare example of a character who actually wants this to happen to him.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: In a way, Yona saves Rockhoof from being sent into a statuesque state.
  • There Was a Door:
    • To be fair, Rockhoof does use the door to the classroom... it's just that with his large bulk and the shovel on his back, he also resizes the doorframe at the same time.
    • He later bursts through the wall of the same classroom when he believes there's a fire on the second floor, and evacuates the students through the hole.
  • Too Much Information: During his brief stint as a mail pony, Rockhoof loudly announces that Cranky Doodle Donkey needs medicine for a rash in a very embarrassing place. Spike and a few other ponies are visiblyinvoked squicked out by it.
  • Vocal Evolution: Rockhoof's Scottish accent has become much more pronounced since his last appearance.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: Rockhoof is used to fix all troubles with brute force and the clever use of his shovel. While this makes him a very good hero, he's ill-suited for non-action jobs.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Besides Rockhoof, we are shown what the rest of the pillars have been up to ever since we last saw them in "Shadow Play – Part 2".
    • Flash Magnus is a drill instructor for the royal guard.
    • Mistmane is tending the crystal gardens in the Crystal Empire.
    • Somnambula is a motivational speaker in the town named after herself.
    • Meadowbrooke has expanded her clinic in the bayou.
    • Starswirl is still learning about friendship (which we saw him doing at the beginning of "Friendship University").
    • Stygian has written novels about his past, which have all become best-sellers.

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