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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S9 E16 "A Trivial Pursuit"

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Becoming a three-time champ is not a trivial pursuit.

Written by Brittany Jo Flores
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Twilight hopes to win Trivia Trot, a regular trivia contest, for the third time in a row. In planning, she has worked out all the statistics with the contest regulars, and knows what her chances are for whomever she may be paired up with. To her horror, Pinkie decides to join the contest that week, a factor Twilight hadn't considered. Further, she starts to stress out when she is paired with Pinkie. Pinkie is elated, figuring they will have a lot of fun together, but Twilight continues to panic over breaking her winning record.

In the first part of the game, Twilight finds Pinkie's unique takes on the questions to be putting her quickly in last place. Twilight tries to help coach Pinkie into focusing on the questions and answering quickly, but Pinkie keeps on causing distractions. During a break, Twilight frantically tries to ask for Spike's help, which leads to her to recalling the rather in-depth rules that Trivia Trot is run under. As the next round starts, Twilight starts to call out other teams on seemingly minor rule infractions — she has Cranky Doodle disqualified since he was sleeping, sending Sunburst to the sidelines, and has points taking from the other teams for these rules. However, one team — Maud and Mudbriar — remain unphased by Twilight's antics, and are in a clear lead. Twilight, panicking, comes across another solution: she tricks Pinkie into purposely breaking the rules. Because of this, and per the rules, Twilight is able to gain Sunburst as a partner for the remainder of the match. While Twilight is elated, since Sunburst has the highest correct-answers in Trivia Trot and will make her win a shoe-in, Pinkie mopes in the corner.

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As the contest picks back up, Twilight and Sunburst close the gap but still trail Maud and Mudbriar. Twilight starts to get more frantic with her answers, and Sunburst starts denying her access to the bell so that she doesn't get their answers wrong. Sunburst reaches the end of his rope, and nearly tricks Twilight into breaking the rules herself, but she catches herself, and then realizes what she had done to Pinkie. Calling for a brief break, Twilight goes to apologize to Pinkie, who just wanted to have fun. As Cranky has woken back up, the rules allow for the disqualified players to rejoin the game, but with zero points: Twilight has no problem with this to bring Pinkie back in, knowing that they will not likely win but they will certainly have fun together.


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Tropes:

  • An Aesop: When it comes to games, winning isn't everything. What's important is having fun.
  • Aesop Amnesia:
    • Once again, Applejack and Rainbow Dash let competing go to their heads.
    • To say nothing of Twilight Sparkle letting competing go to her head, despite being the one to scold Applejack and Rainbow Dash for this two separate times now.
    • Plus, her trying to preserve a record when she'd previously learned this season that perfection isn't something to drown yourself in. Guess she still didn't get to reading that book...
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Sunburst gives Twilight a head rub as he tries to reassure her that he'll pick up the slack. Twilight isn't amused in the slightest.
  • Balloon Belly: Pinkie after scarfing down a plate full of sweets during the zap apple question.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Maud and Mudbriar ended up being paired together by random selection repeatedly, something Twilight states is "a statistical improbability".
  • Big "WHAT?!": Pinkie gives one off at the end of act two once she gets disqualified, after a quick zoom on her face.
  • Bottle Episode: Most of this episode takes place in the room where the Trivia Trot contest is being held.
  • Breaking Old Trends: This is the first episode to have Sunburst appear without Starlight Glimmer (though he does mention her).
  • The Cameo:
    • An image of DJ PON-3 is seen on Twilight's shirt during the Cold Open.
    • Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon are briefly seen in the background just before Twilight and Spike enter the building where Trivia Trot is being held.
    • Derpy Hooves is seen at the end, desperately trying to enter the building.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: The trivia questions include a lot of references.
  • Competition Freak:
    • Twilight is obsessed with becoming Trivia Trot three-time champion before the competition starts. It gets so bad that she sets up Pinkie to be disqualified because Twilight believes she is dragging her down.
    • Sunburst also falls into this, being obsessed with his perfect answer streak.
    • Rainbow Dash and Applejack's competitive nature between each other is once again on full display when they wind up on opposing teams.
  • Conflict Ball: Twilight and Pinkie fall behind in the competition because Twilight keeps trying to coach Pinkie on answering and proper conduct, allowing other teams to ring in first. During the break, Twilight contemplates just answering the questions herself, and Spike also brings up this idea, but Twilight instead decides to start Rules Lawyering the other teams to get them penalized, and then does the same to Pinkie to get her disqualified so Twilight can pair up with Sunburst instead. Sunburst then picks up the Ball when he decides Twilight is too frazzled to be trusted and starts fighting with her over the bell to keep her from ringing in. Though some see this as him doing this on purpose.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Apart from being a reference to Hasbro's Trivial Pursuit board game and Twilight attempting to win the Trivia Trot, it also alludes to Twilight's freaking out over something that is ultimately not important.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Twilight accusing Sunburst of trying to get her disqualified makes her realize she did the exact same thing to Pinkie.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • Twilight's bar chart showing the relative strength of each of the ponies in various categories has noticeably shorter bars for Bulk Biceps. Fluttershy also has seven bars next to her name, instead of everyone else's 6.
    • As the episode ends, Derpy can be seen trying to get into the building where the Trivia Trot is happening by pulling at the doors with no luck.
  • Go Look at the Distraction: Twilight keeps Pinkie from answering the cupcakes category question by claiming there's a "confetti appreciation parade" outside.
  • Growling Gut: Just as Pinkie is about to answer the question about the zap apples, her tummy begins growling very loudly, because all this talk about fruits is making her hungry. This distracts her enough that her team misses the answer in profit of Fluttershy.
  • Head Desk: Twilight slams her head on the desk after Pinkie (or rather, her stomach) causes them to miss the Apples question.
  • High-Five Left Hanging: In her excitement over the first category being "literary figures", Twilight misses a high-hoof from Pinkie, who has to high-hoof herself.
  • Hyperventilation Bag: Twilight pulls out the paper bag — again — to breathe into when the category falls on "Sticks and Stones", and Mudbriar naturally points out that he and Maud know all the answers. And then, when Pinkie says she'll just have to rely on her (because she grew on a rock farm), Twilight hyperventilates even faster.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • When the category is about apples, Rainbow accuses the game of the being rigged. Applejack points out that Rainbow had no problem when the category was about Wonderbolt history.
    • When Twilight realizes Sunburst is trying to get her disqualified, she angrily rants "What kind of pony would do that to their own teammate?" And then her gaze falls on Pinkie Pie...
  • Jerkass Ball: Most of the contestants act much meaner than usual.
    • Twilight treats Pinkie like a burden and refuses to let her answer any questions after she gets the first one wrong. Even when the questions are about cupcakes, something Pinkie is an expert on, Twilight refuses to let her answer.
    • Applejack and Rainbow Dash once again get competitive with each other.
    • Maud and Mudbriar are quick to brag about categories they know the answers to.
    • Sunburst acts smug about his percentage of correct answers, and after becoming Twilight's partner he treats her like a burden and refuses to let her answer any questions.
  • Jerkass Realization: Sunburst has one of these after he almost intentionally gets Twilight disqualified, which in turn causes Twilight to have her own about how badly she treated Pinkie Pie.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: When Sunburst becomes Twilight's partner, he treats her much the same way she treated Pinkie.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Pinkie rushes to answer the questions, and thus fails to state those answers correctly.
  • Madness Makeover: Twilight's mane starts to become more frazzled as she gets more and more obsessed with winning. She also starts making wild facial expressions whenever she talks. Sunburst even notices it at one point.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: As Twilight begins to suffer from her Sanity Slippage, her movements become more wild. When she's all but reached her breaking point, she's flailing her hooves, doing Wild Takes, and shouting every word she says.
  • Minion Maracas: When Twilight explains to Spike that Pinkie Pie's involvement is throwing off all of her calculation, she grabs the dragon in her hooves and shakes him vigorously.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Twilight, when she realizes she let her obsession with winning cause her to be a bad friend to Pinkie.
    • Sunburst comes to the same realization after Twilights calls him on trying to get her disqualified.
  • No Ending: The episode never reveals who won the game nor does the episode end with the game itself ending.
  • No, Except Yes: Invokved when Twilight arrives at the contest.
    Applejack: Well, well, well, if it ain't our reignin' champ. Think you can win again this week, Twilight?
    Twilight Sparkle: Everypony here has a different area of expertise, so it really is anypony's game. But yes!
  • Noodle Incident: Starlight used to be the scorekeeper for Trivia Trot. Now Sunburst can't even say the word "trivia" around her anymore. Whatever happened to make Starlight so apprehensive to score-keeping isn't explained.
  • Rule of Three: Twilight desires to be the first pony to win Trivia Trot three times in a row (or "threepeat", as she calls it).
  • Rules Lawyer: In order to get back in the lead, Twilight starts using her in-depth knowledge of Trivia Trot regulations to nitpick the other teams' minor infractions. This includes: Cranky Doodle being asleep, Applejack and Rainbow Dash sticking their tongues out at each other, and Fluttershy getting help from Angel. She tries to make a new rule to not have expressionless contestants to get Maud and Mudbriar disqualified, but everypony has had enough of her at this point. Subsequently she is able to have Pinkie disqualified, allowing her to partner with Sunburst as allowed by the rules. Eventually Sunburst throws this back at her, trying to get Twilight disqualified and making Twilight realize what she's done.
  • Senior Sleep Cycle: Cranky spends most of the contest asleep, allowing Twilight to have him disqualified.
  • Serious Business: Twilight treats Trivia Trot as such.
    Twilight: This isn't just a game! This! Is! Trivia Trot!
  • Shout-Out:
    • The episode title and the Trivia Trot logo are based on the board game Trivial Pursuit, owned by Hasbro.
    • The music played when Pinkie Pie's name is dropped into the bowl is the same stinger music used in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.
  • Smack on the Back: Bulk Biceps "high-hoofs" Fluttershy when they score a point, but does so with such force it sends Fluttershy sprawling on the floor.
  • Spanner in the Works: Pinkie Pie. Twilight had charted the regular Trivia Trot players' skills and weaknesses, so as to be prepared for whoever she partnered with. Pinkie's decision to join the game throws off all her calculations.
  • Speak in Unison:
    • Applejack and Rainbow Dash, just before the game starts. Note that this is actually the same actress.
      Applejack & Rainbow Dash: Get ready to get squished! Hey, don't copy me!
    • After becoming a team again, Twilight and Pinkie answer the question about the Ponyville day spa's most popular candle at the same time (though not with the same answer).
  • A Taste of Their Own Medicine: Twilight deliberately gets Pinkie Pie disqualified so that she can get Sunburst to be her partner, only for Sunburst to try and do the exact same thing to her.
  • Temporarily Exaggerated Trait: Twilight's Super OCD traits reach an absolute extreme here; she starts out the episode in "Lesson Zero" mode. She freaks out more here than when informed she'd replace Celestia.
  • This Is Gonna Suck:
    • Twilight's reaction to learning that she will be paired up with Pinkie Pie, complete with Twitchy Eye.
    • Spike's reaction to Twilight deciding to pay attention to how everypony else is playing.
  • Twitchy Eye: Twilight has several of these due to the stress of having Pinkie for a teammate.

Alternative Title(s): My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic S 9 E 16 A Trivial Problem

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