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- During "Let's Have a Battle (of the Bands)", Sonata and Aria dancing behind Adagio makes it look like she has six arms, a common representation for gods in Hindu Mythology.
- Aria and Sonata's short exchange of slaps over the fruit punch would make The Three Stooges proud.
- When Rarity is showing off potential band outfits, one of them is styled like The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper band costumes. She even suggests that it may be a bit old-fashioned, so she switches to a Daft Punk-style outfit, complete with a working replica of Guy-Manuel's helmet.
- When Pinkie notices Trixie hiding, Trixie zips offscreen leaving some hairpins behind, much like Witch Hazel from Looney Tunes.
- Derpy's bandmates bear a very close resemblance in hair color and style to Shana and Kimber from Jem and the Holograms. Even the one that is like Kimber (with the triangle) has piano key-style decor on her clothes, reflecting on Kimber being the keyboardist for the Holograms. And Derpy's wrap-dress in this scene is similar to Jem's usual wardrobe.
- "Tricks Up My Sleeve", the song Trixie and the Illusions perform, notably uses the famous Transformers transforming sound effect, best heard on the official soundtrack. Guess the Autobots get to rock out after all.
- Speaking of Transformers, there would be some serious questions about Vinyl's Bassmobile if Hasbro didn't own the copyright already.
- The Final Battle between the Dazzlings and the Rainbooms plays out like the "Amp vs. Amp" battle from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
- Also during the Final Battle there is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference. The Dazzlings gems glow and red ribbons engulf their bodies, reminiscent of the transformations from Sailor Moon.
- The Dazzlings' verses during the final concert are similar to "Alejandro" by Lady Gaga.
Rainbow Rocks Shorts
- When performing in the two "exclamation marks" shorts, Applejack, Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash wear makeup evocative of both the "facial Cutie Marks" the first film's dolls had and the trademarked makeup of KISS.
- The title "Guitar Centered" is most likely a nod to the Guitar Center chain of music stores.
- "Pinkie on the One":
- After Pinkie completes her drum solo / transformation sequence, she spends a few moments breathing heavily, her hair a mess and her tongue hanging out, the same as one Animal would do.
- In the cafeteria scene, one of the geek characters is apparently reading 4chan on his laptop; 4chan is typically credited with being where the brony fandom originated, even if entirely not intentional.
- In "A Case for the Bass", three record albums hung on a wall in Flim and Flam's store are distinctly similar to the prism of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, the banana of the Andy Warhol-inspired color for the Velvet Underground's first and Self-Titled Album, and the cover of Wilco's A.M. Framed film posters in the back of the store looks much like that for Jaws and Batman.
- In the music video "Friendship Through the Ages", each of the girls' outfits represent different genres. Twilight is the classic era, Fluttershy is hippie flower power era of the '60s, Rarity is also in the '60s going by her Sgt. Pepper-esque outfit, Rainbow is in the '70s with her punk rock aesthetic, Applejack is in the '50s since she sings country, and Pinkie is in the '80s with her techno music.
- Several musical shout-outs in "Friendship Through the Ages":
- The intro also musically resembles "Let It Go".
- Fluttershy's segment is straight out of The Sound of Music, with a bit of Disney Princess vibe.
- Rarity's is making a two-fer reference to The Beatles, with her costume coming from Sgt. Pepper while the background is typical of Yellow Submarine.
- Pinkie's borrows general elements of The '80s, including at one point using Saved by the Bell-type backgrounds. She also reaches to extract Sunset from a glowing grid into cartoon form, similar to visuals of a-ha's "Take on Me". At one point, her lyrics invoke Andy Warhol's expression "15 Minutes of Fame".
- The concluding A Cappella ensemble references Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody".
- In "My Past is Not Today", Sunset Shimmer has a Super Saiyan-style hairdo and pose when she transforms at the end.
- Twilight examines the mirror portal with a device similar to a PKE meter from Ghostbusters. (It also makes a sound reminiscent of a Star Trek tricorder, but only in the trailer.)
- During the dance party, Human Upper Crust makes the typical hand moves over the eyes from Pulp Fiction.
- Applejack hitting her (albeit moving) target is framed similarly to how Merida hit her target in Brave.
- Parts of the song the Crystal Prep students sing to Twilight about using her magic-stealing device to get revenge are taken straight from the lyrics of the "Cellblock Tango" in Chicago.
Friendship Games Shorts
- In "Pinkie Spy", Pinkie's black spy suit and green night vision goggles make her look not entirely unlike Sam Fisher.
- "All's Fair in Love & Friendship Games":
- The title of the short is in reference to the adage "All's fair in love and war."
- The silhouettes of Lyra and Sweetie Drops mimic the poses of Ryuko and Satsuki from the end of the 3rd episode battle in Kill la Kill.
Legend of Everfree
- The girls around Twilight Sparkle's dream dissolve into squares before disappearing. It brings Code Lyoko or TRON to mind.
- Multiple references to the X-Men. The girls are teenagers discovering their powers by accident while performing some physical action, as it happens with most mutants in Marvel Comics.
- Pinkie Pie's powers are similar to Gambit's, charging mundane objects (in her case, sprinkles) into explosives.
- Sunset Shimmer references Professor X, Jean Grey and even Rogue; the first two are telepaths, she takes a mentor/leadership role (like Professor X), like Jean, she's a redhead, with the fiery-like hairdo referencing Jean's Phoenix powers, and like Rogue, she can access memories through touch contact.
- Rainbow Dash becomes Quicksilver, what with her obtaining Super Speed.
- The sequence in Pinkie Pie's mind makes it look like she walked straight into Sugar Rush.
- In her Level Ate mental world, Pinkie casually takes a bite out of a piece of living candy, a la Homer Simpson in the Land of Chocolate.
Magical Movie Night (Tales of Canterlot High)
- The setting of a Daring Do movie allows plenty more references to its inspiration, namely Indiana Jones:
- During Rainbow Dash's Imagine Spot, Applejack is dressed like Indiana, and is even clinging to her hat like Indy often does.
- The missing dress latter found by Rainbow Dash looks like the one worn by Willie at the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
- The marketplace scene has an extra holding a golden statuette, like the one from the famous opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
- There's also a pair of extras in the background carrying a prop suspiciously similar to The Ark of the Covenant.
- Chestnut Magnifico as Daring Do wields a whip to fend off Stalwart Stallion. The music itself reinforces the reference.
- The sound stages that the Rainbooms run through during the Chase Scene include references to Batman: The Animated Series, The Fast and the Furious, and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- The title of the film Stormy with a Side of Pudding is inspired by Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
- When Pinkie starts eating the floor popcorn, she says "Mmmmmmm... sticky..." à la Homer Simpson.
- After Twilight makes the chocolate almonds that were raining on them float in the air through telekinesis, Pinkie Pie starts eating them like Pac-Man would.
- In "A Photo Booth Story", Rainbow Dash at one point briefly dons a mask that wouldn't look out of place in a tokusatsu show (such as Ultraman).
- "Mad Twi-ence":
- To Frankenstein, what with the architecture of Twilight's house resembling Frankenstein's castle, Twilight's mad scientist outfit and Spike as The Igor, Twilight creating a Robot Dog brought to life with electricity, and the threatening thunderstorm going on while this happens. The story itself is a child-friendly Adaptation Distillation of Bride of Frankenstein, with the robot dog in the role of the Bride.
- The title is a pun on the franchise Mad Science and the title card artwork is based on their logo.
- The robot comes out of a pod looking like the teleporter from The Fly.
- "Shake Things Up" is one to Cocktail.
- The eye symbol on the Memory Stone looks a lot like the Sheikah eye from The Legend of Zelda.
- Twilight's camera drone sounds just like R2-D2.
- The scene in which Rarity explains that a number of beach blankets that all look white are actually various different shades of white directly references a similar scene from American Psycho involving business cards.
- Pinkie's ridiculous face on Sunset's phone is a reference to Popeye the Sailor Man.
- The Transformation Sequence is once again quite reminiscent of Sailor Moon. Twilight, especially, is taking a typical "Sailor Mercury Pose".
Rollercoaster of Friendship
- When being introduced to Vignette, Rainbow Dash dabs, a Memetic Hand Gesture from the National Football League.
- On Applejack's Equestria Land map, a mascot looks very similar to Disney's Horace Horsecollar.
- Sunset tossing blindly the last ring in defeat is followed by a slow-motion with typical The Six Million Dollar Man sound effect.
- Bulk Biceps poses on the front of the ship like Jack from Titanic. The ship also begins to sink by getting cut on some rocks in a similar manner to how the Titanic sank. Also, the romance between Rarity and Ragamuffin mirrors that of Jack and Rose.
- Ragamuffin's backstory is based on Billy Elliot.
- After they enter Equestria, Human Twilight looks at her reflection, and yells that she has a "pony face".
- The painting Spike is trying to hang in Twilight's castle is a ponified version of a Salvador Dalí artwork.
- Rainbow Dash shouts "It's hero time!" on two separate occasions, the second time even touching the bracer sporting her geode.
- A song accompanying the special is called "I'm on a Yacht", a reference to "I'm on a Boat" by The Lonely Island.
Sunset's Backstage Pass
- The Reveal that Sunset was unwittingly brought into the "Groundhog Day" Loop by the antagonists, who are weaponizing the trope as a means to ensure the day goes perfectly for them, recalls Edge of Tomorrow.
- On the last loop, Sunset tells Pinkie that she's happy to do this with the other half of their Dynamic Duo.
- Both the title of the segment "Saving Pinkie's Pie" and the snowball fight warzone parody scene are references to Saving Private Ryan. On YouTube, it has the alternate title of "The Thin Red Pie", as in fellow 1998 World War II film The Thin Red Line.
- The segment title "The Cider Louse Fools" is a reference to the book The Cider House Rules.
- Flim and Flam sing the opening riff of the Super Mario theme as they make their getaway.
- For Sailor Moon:
- Twilight wears her Amulet of Concentrated Awesome as a brooch or pin on her collar bow. The titular character of Sailor Moon did the same on her school uniform. (Rarity wears hers on the collar of her dress as well.)
- In "Queen of Clubs" (as pictured above), what looks like a manga club is seen doing the Sailor Soldiers' iconic transformation poses for a photo; Applejack photo bombs them by holding a rose and wearing a black and red cape, like Tuxedo Mask.
- In "School of Rock":
- When Twilight animates the dinosaur bones, a soundalike to the Jurassic Park theme can be heard.
- Maud's deadpan recitation of Hurricane of Puns jokes while acting as a tour guide brings to mind the Jungle Cruise.
- Naturally, the name of the short is one to School of Rock.
- In "Overpowered", Twilight's telekinesis makes her ride her bike up (with Spike in her basket) in front of the sun in a reference to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (including the music).
- The title of "The Finals Countdown" is a reference to the song "The Final Countdown" by Europe.
- A greenhouse full of singing, sentient plants obsessed with growing larger? Nope, never heard of such a thing! Some of the flowers' "mouth" movements are also highly reminiscent of The Enchanted Tiki Room.
- In "A Display of Affection", Sunset's moniker "Flanksy" is clear reference to Banksy.
- In "A Little Birdie Told Me", Fluttershy says "Go on, make my day." in a reference to Dirty Harry.
- "Blue Crushed" is a title reference to Blue Crush.
- Another title reference: "Driving Miss Shimmer" for Driving Miss Daisy.
- Applejack's song "5 to 9" is a clear title reference to Dolly Parton's "9 to 5'' (and the film it served as the theme song for).
- "Best Trends Forever" has one to The Twilight Zone if Rainbow Dash is chosen, where Rarity feels she is spiraling into "The Rainbow Zone" when everyone starts dressing like Rainbow Dash, giving a Rod Serling-esque narration.
- In "Best in Show: The Victory Lap", Micro Chips's "pet" robot is named JVJ-24601.
- In the Pinkie Pie ending of "Wake-Up!", Spike, hyped up on sugar, gets up on a stage and shouts "I am the golden dog!" before diving off of it.
- In "Lost and Pound", one of the festival food trucks is named "Money For Waffles and Chickens not for Free".