What will today's adventure be?
My Little Pony My Little Pony
Will there be exciting sights to see?
Where will you wander? Hither and yonder
Letting your heart be your guide
My Little Pony...My Little Pony
Ill be there right by your side
Ill be there right by your side"
My Little Pony 'n Friends is an animated TV series that was released by Claster Television, Inc. and produced by Hasbro, Marvel Productions and Sunbow Entertainment in 1986 and ran until 1987. It was based on the toyline of the same name. It came out a few months after My Little Pony: The Movie and ran for two seasons. It was an Animated Anthology, featuring quarter hour shorts. The first half of the show would have an episode of ponies, and then the second half would feature an episode of their friends, Glo Friends, Moondreamers, and Potato Head Kids. As a result, the pony episodes often ran as television serials, as did the other shorts.
This incarnation of My Little Pony was set in a world called Ponyland. Ponyland is a Magical Land on the other side of the rainbow, populated by Bushwoolies, Sea and Flutter Ponies, Grundles, bee-people, talking pigs, giant terriers, bird-dog hybrids, zebra-people, evil storm clouds, elves, bigfoot-like people who build forests, and monster weeds, among other, weirder things. The ponies are assisted in their adventures by an Earth teen named Megan, her siblings Molly and Danny, Spike the Baby Dragon, and the Moochic, a scatter-brained gnome wizard with mushroom motif, and his Beleaguered Assistant, Habit the Rabbit.
Being a fantasy-esque weekday afternoon cartoon, the episode plots were adventures, normally focused on a Victim of the Week requiring the ponies' help to defeat some Big Bad. The weirdness — and the overt scariness of some of the villains — kept the show from being as dangerously cute as one might naturally assume. Some episodes did not involve sugar apocalypses, though, and rather focused on more mundane plots, such as using one's imagination to have fun, scavenger hunts, taking care of a giant dog, dealing with bullies, and mending friendships after a feud escalated to ice cream warfare.
The episodes focused on My Little Pony ran for 65 episodes in total. There were 16 multi-part serials, each 2-4 parts long with the sole exception of the ten-part pilot, and 9 stand-alone episodes, as well as two 2-part serials compressing the My Little Pony TV Specials.
My Little Pony 'n Friends provides examples of:
- Animated Adaptation: Of four toylines.
- Animated Anthology: There were two episodes per airing, and four intellectual properties showcased.
- Animesque: Especially noticeable in the episodes animated by Toei Animation.
- Apocalypse How: The My Little Pony, Glo Friends, and Mondreamers segments showcased every flavor of this trope to the point where it crossed right into The World Is Always Doomed.
- Big Bad: Starnose in Glo Friends, Queen Scowlene in Moondreamers, and different ones in different episodes or serials of My Little Pony.
- The '80s: Perhaps a no-brainer, but in truth you will be hard pressed to find a more 80s show than this.
- Five-Episode Pilot: Two of the shows had these, only theirs were ten episodes long due to the Two Shorts format.
- For My Little Pony it was "The End of Flutter Valley".
- For Glo Friends it was "The Quest".
- Quarter Hour Short: Yep, and to make room for animated adaptations of no less than four toylines.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Pretty much the vast majority of the cast all across the board. In fact, the show's purpose was to make cartoons out of Hasbro's cutest toylines.
- Title Theme Tune: The main show had one that encompassed all the properties showcased, and each show had their own specific theme tune that played as well. So this show sported no less than five theme songs over the course of just one 65 episode season.
- Two Shorts: First My Little Pony, and then one of three others shows.
- Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: All of them except for The Potato Head Kids. While My Little Pony is the most infamous for this, all the shows were full of horrible monsters right next to the cuddly protagonists. Like a D&D monster manual covered with Lisa Frank stickers.
- The World Is Always Doomed: See Recycled Script for more details. The writers were absolutely in love with this scenario. They used and abused it in as many as episodes all across the board as they could get away with. The only aversion to this the show ever had was in the Potato Head Kids segment, which was more based in Slice of Life than in fantasy-adventure.
- '80s Hair: Both here and in the movie above for two female humans, and here for one male pony. Draggle's hair is this with some late '70s in her hair as well. To a lesser extent, Megan's little sister Molly also has '80s hair. Nightshade is a pony with an afro.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Often played straight in that the cartoon looked better than the source toys.
- Ancient Evil:
- Squirk is so ancient that Dream Valley was part of the ocean when he ruled over it. Unlike most examples, he wasn't Sealed Evil in a Can but instead waiting for time to catch up with his archenemy and make him easy prey for him.
- Grogar was imprisoned in the Realm of Darkness 500 years ago.
- Antagonist Title: "Fugitive Flowers" and "Somnambula" are named after their respective villains, the Flories and the witch Somnambula.
- Anthropomorphic Shift: It's more subtle than in Tales, but compared to the pilot the ponies act less like actual ponies. They sleep in beds, sometimes walk on two legs, don't move as much like horses, don't have animal behaviors like licking each other, etc
- Pluma doesn't want to hurt anyone, but Squirk captured her grandfather and is holding him hostage in exchange for the half of the Flashstone he can't reach on dry land.
- Knight Shade doesn't want to be a villain: he made a Deal with the Devil with Erebus and is now being forced to carry out his end of the bargain, whether he wants to or not.
- Babysitting Episode: A late episode, "The Ice Cream Wars", has a group of ponies babysitting for the First Tooth ponies. They even sing about it! Tales and FIM will each go on to have a "babysit the super rambunctious twins" episode, making this a once-a-series plot.
- Bad Boss: Many villains, such as Squirk, Grogar, Queen Bumble, and Lavan, are demanding, harsh and often arbitrarily cruel towards their underlings. In the cases of latter two, this results in their servants rebelling.
- Be Careful What You Wish For:
- Accidental misuse of the magic coins from the four-part serial of the same name has devastating results. Baby Lickety Split wishes for it never rain again, causing a drought to the point where the sea ponies had no water to swim in, and eventually wildfires began to rage.
- In "The Prince and the Ponies", the First Tooth Ponies are jealous of how much attention the Newborn Twins are getting, and sing that they'd be happy if bad things happened to them. The song includes the line "I'd have no regrets, if someone bought them collars and turned them into pets", which is what ends up happening.
- Breather Episode: "Pony Puppy", "Sweet Stuff and the Treasure Hunt" and "Little Piece of Magic" serve as low-stakes, slice-of-life one-episode installments placed between longer, much more high-stakes arcs focused around major villains and dangers.
- Casts No Shadow: The victims of Zeb and Erebus's shadow stealing no longer cast shadows. This also leaves them weak and sick.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: All the ponies featured in "Rescue at Midnight Castle" — most notably Firefly, Twilight, Bowtie, Applejack, and Ember — are never seen nor mentioned in any other episode, all of which are set after. The ponies in the rest of the episodes rotate. Scorpan, Catrina and Rep likewise disappear, and are neither seen nor mentioned in the series.
- Cliffhanger: Every story that runs over multiple installments has its component episodes end with the characters in peril of life or limb, with no clear way out of their predicament, leaving them in a dire situation quickly resolved when the next episode starts. At exact intervals of only about ten minutes, there has to be something to make a dramatic to be continued moment, even in stories that are as long as the actual theatrical film.
- Crapsaccharine World: Dream Valley is a vibrant land full of kind ponies, but with villains consistently out to harm the ponies.
- Crapsack World: What Ponyland used to be before the ponies came along. Its mentioned by the witches of the Volcano of Gloom that evil used to reign supreme, and we even meet a few of those ancient evils, most notably Grogar and Squirk.
- Darkest Hour:
- Part 8 of "The End of Flutter Valley" has everyone captured and Honeysuckle apparently dead.
- 3/4ths into "The Return of Tambelon", the heroes' multiple plans have all failed spectacularly, they have all been captured by Grogar's forces, and he's started a ritual to banish them to the Realm of Darkness.
- When the first attempts to negotiate with Niblick fail in "The Magic Coins", seemingly dooming Pony Land to a drought, and the Baby Sea Ponies to certain death.
- Dismantled Macguffin: The Flashstone was split in half, one half buried underneath what is currently Paradise Estate and the other half in the deepest depths of the river. Squirk forces Pluma to retrieve the half beneath Paradise Estate and quickly retrieves the other half using the first.
- Disney Death:
- Happens to Honeysuckle in "The End of Flutter Valley" arc after she falls down the hole as is presumed dead for a while.
- Played for laughs in "Woe is Me" when the nursery collapses around the sleeping Woebegone.Lickety-Split: He's so still! Is he...?
Lickety-Split: You're alive!
- Easily Forgiven: The protagonists never hold a grudge against the genuinely repentant, although this is counterbalanced by how hard they are on the genuinely evil.
- Evil Overlord: Some villains, such as Grogar and Lavan, are depicted as powerful sorcerous lords who rule over distant domains, command armies of minions, and scheme and plot to conquer the world.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: As a result of the show introducing new allies and threats more or less every episode, the setting is a widely diverse collection of fantasy and fairytale elements — unicorns, pegasi, hippocampi, dragons, goblins, trolls, elves, talking animals, wicked sorcerers and ancient evils, lava and ice monsters, animated plants, assorted magic artifacts, and various original creations all populate Dream Valley.
- Feathered Fiend: The Raptorians, a trio of unrepentantly wicked bird-dogs, and King Charlatan, a tyrannical penguin king.
- From Special To Series: The My Little Pony TV Specials led to the My Little Pony movie, which in turn led to this series.
- Geodesic Cast: The cast consistently rotates between episodes, due too needing to promote as many lines from the toys as possible.
- Good Is Not Soft: While the heroes are very forgiving, the genuinely evil villains normally end up being Killed Off for Real.
- HeelFace Turn: Numerous villains, including Sting, Queen Bumble, Princess Porcina, Knight Shade, Crunch and King Charlatan, are convinced by various means to live in peace with the ponies (or at least to cease hostilities, in Queen Bumble's case).
- Invasion of the Baby Snatchers: In "The Return of Tambelon", as every creature in Ponyland is kidnapped, the babies are not spared either. Baby Ribbon is the first to be taken.
- Kindness Ball: Lickety-Split and Gusty are usually sarcastic and can sometimes even be mean. However neither of them were rude or mean in "The Glass Princess" (besides Gusty being mildly rude towards the episode's villains). Gusty also bullies Shady in the movie, but in this episode she doesn't act mean to her once.
- Literal Genie: The titular items in "The Magic Coins" grant wishes as they're said, without accounting for side effects, metaphor or even whether a statement was intended as a wish. The actual genie in "Through the Door" is an unusual case — he never gets around to granting wishes because he instead starts asking about increasingly abstruse detail when asked to make the weather "perfect".Genie: I also need to know the prevailing wind speed, and the percentage of the color orange in the sunset.
Lickety-Split: Look, all I want is a perfect day! What's so difficult about that?
- Literal Metaphor: The Flutter Ponies sing about how they're "faster than a lightning bolt" while effortlessly dodging the lightning bolts Erebus is shooting at them, proving it's no exaggeration. Later, after Zeb is Utter Fluttered into Erebus, Erebus kicks him, just as the Flutter Ponies sing how challenging them will cause you to "meet defeat".
- Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: The series features a mixture of talking animals, magical creatures, magical humanoids and realistic human characters. Some of the humans are from another world and regularly travel to Ponyland from there, while others are legitimately from the pony world. Notably, this is the only My Little Pony series to do so.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: The show has a rotating cast, due to the need to promote as many toys as possible. "The Return of Tambelon" tries to squeeze them all in, and thus features more than forty characters in forty minutes.
- Loads and Loads of Races: Between humans, five different pony species, grundles, bushwoolies, and others, the TV specials and movie had already started this trend. The cartoon keeps it up — every other episode, the protagonists encountered members of a previously unmentioned race.
- Magical Land: Ponyland/Dream Valley, a fairytale land of talking unicorns and pegasi, dragons and magic, and natural wonders, periodically menaced by monsters and sorcerers and accessible from Earth only by flying over a rainbow.
- Meaningful Name:
- Lavan is a lava demon.
- Erebus is named after the Greek god of darkness. He devours shadows and looks like a sapient storm cloud. The name itself also means shadow.
- Somnabula's name is a play on somnambulism, otherwise known as sleepwalking. Her thing is trapping her victims in a Lotus-Eater Machine to live out their deepest fantasies and dreams.
- Porcina turns people into glass statues. Glass is one possible ingredient in porcine dolls.
- Minion with an F in Evil: It's common for the series' villains to have minions who are either too incompetent to be successfully evil or too moral to want to, such as Draggle and (to a lesser extent) Reeka to Hydia, Knight Shade to Zeb and Erebus, Sting to Bumble, and Prince Edgar to King Charlatan. "The Glass Princess" inverts the trope, as the Raptorians are far more dangerous than Porcina, who mostly suffers from a Lack of Empathy.
- Monster of the Week: The show has little overarching continuity, and its episodes mostly focus on the characters dealing with whatever villain, monster or magical disaster has reared its head this time around.
- Mythology Gag: TJ receives a redesign◊ that makes him resemble My Pretty Pony, a short-lived toy that predated My Little Pony.
- Namedworld and Namedland: The show follows the lives of ponies living in Ponyland.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In "Fugitive Flowers", the ponies rescue the desperate Flories from the pursuing Crabnasties, only to discover later that the former are escaped convicts, whereas the latter are a heroic police force. Oops.
- No Antagonist: While most four-part episodes have a villain, "The Magic Coins" does not. Ironically it is the darkest episode with the drought that threatens to destroy Pony Land and up front kill the baby Sea Ponies, and attempt at negotiating with the only creature that can reverse the spell fails at first. Though of course everything still turns out in the end.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Grogar gets one when he hears the ringing of the bell which is the one thing capable of defeating him.
- Lavan gets a big one when he sees his own attack be reflected right back at him by the Princess Ponies' wands.
- One Person, One Power: In addition to a shared ability to teleport, each unicorn has a magical power unique to themselves — Gusty can create gusts of wind, Fizzy can create bubbles, Ribbon is telepathic, Buttons has telekinesis, and so on.
- Once per Episode: Besides "The Return of Tambelon", every episode has at least one song.
- One-Winged Angel:
- Pluma can turn into a number of forms, her most common being a monstrous specter.
- Lavan goes from being a lava monster into a nearly all powerful crystal monster.
- The Flories also do this. They start out in a weakened, tiny and cute state. But once they've devoured enough food from their surroundings, they transform into gigantic, monstrous forms.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Generally, dragons are wingless, crocodile-bellied and fire-breathing. While Spike, an infant dragon, is tiny and mellow, most adult dragons seen are on the large side and tend to more monstrous in demeanor, although they're not serious monsters for the most part — the three dragons in "Spike's Search" are simply thugs, while the monster in "Through the Door" is much more dangerous but ultimately only reluctantly villainous.
- Our Goblins Are Different:
- In "The Magic Coins, Part 2", while crossing the Jewel Desert, Megan and the ponies are ambushed by a group of aggressive goblins. These are depicted as squat, blue-skinned, long-armed and neckless humanoids, and are terrified of bright lights.
- "The Golden Horseshoes, Part 2" has some very different goblins. The ones encountered here are large, burly green humanoids who tower over Megan, and tend to be ugly and deformed in various unique ways — one has three short horns and flat-topped head, another has flabby wide lips, and a third has an almost beak-like snout. They live underground and are greedy, hostile and argumentative beings, stealing from others and refusing to ever give anything away.
- Pegasus: Pegasi are one of the three main kinds of ponies, and physically look just like the other kinds but with a small pair of wings that allow them to fly.
- Pet the Dog: While Hydia's cruel even to her daughters, she admonishes Reeka for wanting to really punish Draggle — though it's implied she wanted to do the punishing.
- The Power of Rock: In a few cases, the obligatory song would be worked in as a plot point.
- Put on a Bus: Happens to the Flutter Ponies and the baby Sea Ponies. The former never appear after "The Return of Tambelon", and the latter never appear after "Baby, It's Cold Outside".
- Reality Warper: The Flashstone makes its user into a low-level one by allowing them to transform anything it's fired at.
- Remember the New Guy?: Happens often, mostly due to the Geodesic Cast. Notable examples include the Big Brother ponies in "Somnambula", Mimic in "The Golden Horseshoes", and Twilight in "Flight to Cloud Castle". All of them are introduced as characters the ponies already know, and vanish for the rest of the show after said episodes they appear in.
- Riddle of the Sphinx: "Sweet Stuff and the Treasure Hunt" and "The Golden Horseshoes". In the latter case, it's used to bargain with a mole-man who likes junk and riddles. The ponies get their horseshoe in exchange for a riddle he doesn't know. It works, since humans are mostly unknown in Ponyland.
- "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Despite the series being set in a world full of unicorns, dragons, and every kind of monster imaginable, the titular Ghost of Paradise Estate turns out to be "merely" a shape-shifting bird.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Peach Blossom. Naturally, Wind Whistler speaks her language just fine. Everyone else is left scratching their heads.
- Teleportation: All unicorns share the ability to perform "winks", short-range teleports, although this ability takes some practice in childhood before it can be done properly. It's also impossible to wink if there's a solid object between where you are and where you want to reappear — which apparently includes nets.
- Tempting Fate: In the climactic showdown from "Bright Lights", the Flutter Ponies sing that "Nothing can withstand our Utter Flutter." Fast-forward three episodes, to "The Return of Tambelon" part 2, where we learn that Grogar has defeated the Flutter Ponies.
- That Reminds Me of a Song: Every episode contains a song, and most of them are just busy filler.
- The only exception being one of the four episodes comprising the Return of Tambelon arc. An awkward break between scenes suggests a song was planned — but with so much going on, there was no time left for it.
- Ironically, "Rescue from Midnight Castle", the episode revision of the first special, actually cuts out the song "A Little Piece of Rainbow" from the special.
- This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: "The Glass Princess" does this for Shady. She is shown to be clumsy, terrible at sports, not all that bright, not very brave, and full of self-loathing, but she manages to come up with a plan to save the day.
- Time Abyss:
- Squirk has been around so long that the very geography of Dream Valley changed completely. He actually exploits this fact to claim a Victory by Endurance over Pluma's grandfather by simply waiting for time to leave him old and weak.
- Grogar is at the very least 500 years old, and possibly far older.
- Uncertain Doom:
- In "The Ghost of Paradise Estate", Squirk and Crank are sucked into a whirlpool by Megan when she removes the extra water Squirk used to flood Dream Valley.
- In "The Revolt of Paradise Estate", Beezen is last seen being chased by his wand, which can zap things out of existence.
- Unicorn: Unicorns are one of the three main kinds of ponies, and physically look just like the other kinds but with a short, spiraling horn. They can all perform short-range teleports called "winks", although this takes a bit of practice and young unicorns aren't very good at it, and additionally all possess a single personal power unique to the individual.
- Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Not as bad as the specials, but when there are villains, they take the scare factor Up to Eleven. The most evil of these are Hydia, Squirk, Grogar and Lavan.
- Villain Song: Quite a few, such as "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" from "The Ghost of Paradise Estate" (which is a borderline Disney Acid Sequence given the way Squirk uses his dark magic), "There's Nothing Quite Like Shadows" from "Bright Lights" (where Erebus and Zeb plot in song to steal the characters' shadows), and "Here's to Power" from "The Quest of the Princess Ponies" (where Lavan sings about how power for power's sake is the only thing that matters).
- The Voiceless: Sundance. Like many other characters, her voice actress from the movie did not return for the TV series. Unlike the other characters, they never cast anyone to replace her. Thus, Sundance appears in dozens of episodes without saying a word.
- Void Between the Worlds: The Realm of Darkness is described as being one of these. It's where Grogar and his city were sealed in after his original defeat.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The unicorns' teleportation abilities would be a whole lot more useful if they could "wink" through solid objects spaces smaller than they are. They cannot, and thus cannot use it to circumvent walls. Or cages. Or nets. It's mostly useful for crossing gaps and playing tag or hide and seek.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?:
- Pegasi can fly. Unicorns teleport and each have a unique powers. Earth ponies... can run and jump real well. And occasionally bake. With hooves.
- The Golden Horseshoes — one lets you see into the future, one lets you read minds, one lets you fly by summoning a cloud to ride on and the last... glows really brightly.
- The Princess Ponies each have a unique power, thanks to their wands. Some are impressive, some are not; Primrose can control the wind, Royal Blue can summon snow and hail and Tiffany can control clouds, whereas Serena can duplicate objects, Sparkle can make plants grow and Starburst can change the color of objects.
- The World Is Always Doomed: The possibility that Dream Valley or surrounding areas will be rendered uninhabitable crops up nine times in twenty-eight stories. Additionally, those are most of the multi-episode stories, so they represent the bulk of the episodes.