Collectors unofficially refer to this incarnation of the My Little Pony franchise as G3. This is a series of Direct-to-DVD movies, specials, and shorts released throughout the turn of the millennium. Somewhat akin to My Little Pony Tales, these stories tended to be about friendship, Slice of Life, and being yourself.
The animated specials were animated by SD Entertainment, Wang Film Productions (G3 only) and Kunoichi, Inc. (for Once Upon a My Little Pony Time, the G3 Newborn Cuties short) and were distributed by both Paramount and Shout! Factory. They are divided into 12 specials. The most notable ones were:
A Charming BirthdayThe first G3 special. Released in 2003 in a VHS packaged within the first release of the G3 toys. Chronologically taking place before Dancing in the Clouds, it shows how the ponies in Ponyville planned a special surprise party for Kimono. It was released later as a bonus episode in The Princess Promenade DVD.
Dancing in the CloudsReleased in 2004, the second special is packaged with a Pegasus Pony toy, Star Catcher. Chronologically taking place after A Charming Birthday and before Friends are Never Far Away, it shows Star Catcher's first encounter with Sky Wishes. Released later as a bonus episode in A Very Minty Christmas DVD.
Friends Are Never Far AwayFriends are Never Far Away is the third special released in 2005 on DVD packaged alongside the Pegasus pony named Hidden Treasure. It's the sequel of the last feature Dancing in the Clouds, as it explains how Star Catcher and Skywishes help the Pegasus Ponies to make friends with the residents of Ponyville. Released later as a bonus episode in Crystal Princess: The Runaway Rainbow DVD.
A Very Minty ChristmasReleased on October 25, 2005 by Paramount Home Video, A Very Minty Christmas is the first feature length special of the G3 series. The special is set after Friends Are Never Far Away, focusing on Minty as she accidentally breaks the "Here Comes Christmas Candy Cane", which apparently guides Santa Claus to Ponyville. To try to make-up for doing this, Minty gives each pony one of her socks. When Pinkie Pie finds out what Minty has done, Minty states that the sock giving is a bad idea, and then decides she should go to the North Pole herself to set things right.
It included Dancing in the Clouds as a bonus episode.
The Princess PromenadeThe second feature length special released on February 7, 2006 by Paramount Pictures, The Princess Promenade is the first film to promote the Crystal Princess line and debut of the Breezies and the 2006 re-design of Spike. The story focuses on Wysteria, on her experiences of being a princess and how it isolates her from being with her friends.
It included both A Charming Birthday as a bonus episode and an epilogue story titled Pinkie Pie and the Ladybug Jamboree, which focuses on Pinkie Pie's band performance.
Crystal Princess: The Runaway RainbowThe second film to promote the Crystal Princess Line, The Runaway Rainbow was released on September 12, 2006 and it features the Unicorn Ponies and the debut of Rarity. The story focuses on the First Rainbow of the Season as everyone in Ponyville prepares and awaits for it. Meanwhile at the magical city of Unicornia, Cheerilee is teaching a young unicorn pony named Rarity about being a Rainbow Princess and her duties to make the First Rainbow of the Season using the magic wand. Rarity is still young and she accidentally uses the wand, which in turn teleports her into the middle of Breezie Blossom. Cheerilee, Brights Brightly and Whistle Wishes venture outside Unicornia in search of her. Rarity befriends the Breezies and they visit Ponyville and later Rarity feels homesick. Pinkie Pie, Minty, Rainbow Dash, Spike and the Breezies help her get home, just in time for the first rainbow of the season.
It included both Friends Are Never Far Away as a bonus episode and an epilogue story titled Greetings from Unicornia, focusing on Rainbow Dash's experience in the magical city of Unicornia.
A Very Pony PlaceA Very Pony Place is the most unique of all G3 specials. Released on February 6, 2007, it features three different stories. The first one, Come Back, Lily Lightly focuses on Lily Lightly and her ability to make her horn glow when she giggle, forcing her to run away from Unicornia. Two for the Sky focuses on Storybelle and her story about Star Flight and Heart Bright's dreams of flight. The third and final story, Positively Pink focuses on Pinkie Pie, Minty and Puzzlemint on planning Pinkie Pie's birthday in secret.
Core 7 shortsIn 2007, Hasbro, while retaining body shape, has reduced the number of characters to seven: Pinkie Pie, Scootaloo, Toola-Roola, Rainbow Dash, Sweetie Belle, Cheerilee and Starsong. The Core 7 era saw a number of animated shorts, until another change came out. Generation 3.5, as collectors call it, retained members but changed their body shape similar to the Ponyville line of smaller plastic molds that released years ago.
Twinkle Wish AdventureTwinkle Wish Adventure is the only feature length G3.5 Special. It was released in October 13, 2009 to promote this particular toy line. The story tells about the Winter Wishes Festival finally coming and all the ponies in Ponyville are excited to see Twinkle Wish, a wishing star who grants each pony one special wish. However, after Twinkle Wish gets kidnapped by a dragon named Whimsey Weatherbe, the entire event is facing a big dilemma and it's up to Pinkie Pie and her friends to get her back before the night of the festival, otherwise, everyone's wishes won't be granted, and the festival would be ruined.
It included the prologue story Waiting for the Winter Wishes Festival as a bonus episode.
My Little Pony G3 contains examples of:
- Acrophobic Bird: Thistle Whistle is scared of clouds.
- Adaptation Distillation: Most, if not all of the G3 stories have been released as either picture books, graphic novels, or both. These generally follow the storyline of the video releases, but simplify or leave out certain elements.
- Alternate Continuity: The G3 books line is an AU from the cartoons.
- Once the "Core 7" came along, Hasbro threw several older characterizations out the window and everyone became younger.
- Anthropomorphic Shift: The first special wasn't really all that different from other gens. They occasionally used their hooves to do things, and moved their forelegs around, but it wasn't that different from, say, Friendship is Magic. Later on they became far more anthropomorphic and starting wearing clothing often.
- Anthropomorphic Zig-Zag: The ponies can walk on their hind legs as easily as they can on all fours. They're constantly changing between the two, though the books tend to favor the former position.
- Art Evolution: Originally the specials were hand-drawn, but became digital later.
- Art Shift: Some of the toy commercials use a different art style from the actual cartoons.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: Wysteria's coronation as Princess, but moreso when she makes everyone a princess, complete with fancy dresses.
- Baby Planet: Ponyville, a town in the temperate zone, is just a short balloon ride away from the North Pole!
- Be Yourself: The moral of "The Princess Promenade" and "Come Back, Lily Lightly."
- Big Damn Heroes: Both from A Very Minty Christmas:
- Pinkie Pie and Star Catcher's rescue of Minty and Thistle Whistle from a hot air balloon.
- The Breezies save the ponies from going down a waterfall.
- Born of Magic: Over Two Rainbows shows Sweetie Belle was born when two rainbows crossed.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: At the end of the "We're Glad That Everyone's a Princess" song in The Princess Promenade, the characters turn to the audience and sing "And, yes, it's true! That you are a princess too!" Additionally, not surprisingly, the presence of an audience is acknowledged at times in the stage show The World's Biggest Tea Party.
- Blind Without 'Em: Daffidazey, to the point where she thought Spike was a pony.
- British Stuffiness: Spike fits this stereotype in this version, mainly in The Princess Promenade. While he isn't exactly reserved, he's certainly quite stuffy and concerned with rules and proper behavior.
- Catch-Phrase: More characters than not have one, and many who don't have at least a catch Verbal Tic or speech habit. See the Characters page for individuals.
- Christmas Special:
- G3 has A Very Minty Christmas.
- G3.5 has Waiting for the Winter Wishes Festival and Twinkle Wish Adventure, though these are about the Winter Wishes Festival rather than Christmas.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The first special, which introduces us to everyone, has Razzaroo as the main character and narrator, and Kimono, whose birthday they're preparing for, is named as the wisest pony in the land. They're never seen again outside crowd scenes, though Kimono does appear more in the licensed books and comics. The G3.5 era reducing everyone not in the Core 7 to either background pony or total nonentity. Minty, the most prominent pony after Pinkie Pie, didn't get as much as a crowd scene appearance in Twinkle Wish Adventure.
- Control Freak: Spike has shades of this in The Princess Promenade, but tones it down by The Runaway Rainbow.
- Cowardly Lion: Thistle Whistle is afraid of clouds and isn't eager to trust the other ponies, but she's the first one to help out when they're in danger.
- Darker and Edgier: The first few specials weren't the sugary-sweet stuff that G3 is known for, although it wasn't anywhere as dark as G1.
- A Day in the Limelight: A Very Minty Christmas for Minty, The Princess Promenade for Wysteria, and The Runaway Rainbow for Rarity.
- Deconstructed Trope: Princess tropes get examined in The Princess Promanade. Wysteria learned about the stuffy, restricted lifestyle princesses had—and the implication that before her, all princesses lived like that—likely put a damper on young girls who wanted to be princesses. Wysteria wasn't even allowed to sniff flowers. Also, Wysteria doesn't earn the title of princess; all she did was happen to touch the magic flower. Any one of her friends could've become princess, and it's implied that if she did something to earn the title things wouldn't have gone so sour. Contrast with G3 Rarity, who had actual responsibilities, power, and was selected from other young pink unicorns for the honor of making the first rainbow—but shirked her duties in favor of having fun.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Played with in The Princess Promenade. At first, everyone is excited to have Wysteria be the princess of Ponyville, but as Spike's rules pile on and restrict Wysteria from doing the things she normally does, including interacting with her friends as equals, the idea of having a princess doesn't seem so great anymore. However, instead of quitting being a princess in name, Wysteria makes everyone in Ponyville into royalty, including Spike, which means that neither she nor anyone else has to follow the princess rules anymore. So it's played straight in the sense that everything is better with lots of princesses instead of just one, but in making the title meaningless it's not a typical example of the trope.
- Filler: The World's Biggest Tea Party stage show contains a lot of songs that seem to have been placed merely as a way to get the audience up and excited and don't actually drive the plot of the film. The story presented in the stage show probably could have easily fit into a 22 minute television episode.
- Fun Size: The Breezies in Princess Promenade and the new redesign in Twinkle Wish Adventure.
- Hidden Elf Village: The Pegasus Ponies of Butterfly Island live apart from all the others.
- Informed Attribute: Cotton Candy is a storyteller apparently, at least according to "A Charming Birthday", but we never see any evidence of this. In practice, she can usually be found running the cafe alongside Sweetberry and Triple Treat. We've seen the role given to other ponies in later episodes, such as Storybelle and the second version of Cheerilee.
- The Klutz: Minty, more so in A Very Minty Christmas than in any other movie.
- Licensed Games: A few games for the Game Boy Advance, DS, and PC/Macs came out during this series' run.
- Edutainment Games: Said PC/Macs titles.
- Lonely at the Top: Wysteria discovers this about being a princess.Spike: A princess doesn't have friends.Wysteria: Oh, how sad...Spike: (quickly) Well, of course you have friends. You just don't have equals!
- Mad Libs Dialogue: The "Cheerilee & Scootaloo's Storybook" section of the online G3.5 Family Scrapbook.
- The Musical: The World's Biggest Tea Party stage show, to the degree that there is actually more singing than there is dialogue. Many of the songs are extended versions of songs from other G3 releases edited to fit the show, including "Positively Pink", "I Just Wanna Have Fun, "Breezies Know" and "Here in Unicornia". Others were created exclusively for the stage show. And two songs aren't original material at all, just traditional tunes that they repurposed for the program: "I'm a Little Teapot" and "Just Leave It Up to Me," the latter of which is based on "I Am a Fine Musician" (which in turn was adapted from the German "Ich bin ein Musikante" for The Dick Van Dyke Show).
- Mythology Gag:
- In Dancing In The Clouds, Sky Wishes prefaces every wish she makes with "I wish, I wish, I wish...." just like Twilight in G1 Escape From Castle Midnight.
- In Friends are Never Far Away, Skywishes is searching for the manual to a hot air balloon so she can find out how to lower the landing gear. Of a hot air balloon. This related to the My Little Pony Tales episode "Up, Up, and Away" which has Patch steal a balloon and immediately find the instruction manual in the basket.
- No Antagonist: The closest we get is a canyon is A Very Minty Christmas, stern, stuffy Spike in the Princess Promenade and a waterfall in The Runaway Rainbow. And perhaps Whimsey in Twinkle Wish Adventure, who kidnaps Twinkle Wish and hogs her to herself, at least briefly.
- No-Sell: No sell on The Power of Friendship for Whimsey Weatherbe, in Twinkle Wish Adventure, at least at first. After the ponies hit her with their cute and catchy song number, "That's What Makes a Friend," she just shrugs it off, saying that she doesn't believe them, that they only want to take Twinkle Wish back from her and not actually be her friend. Ultimately, however, she gives Twinkle Wish back on her own when she realizes that keeping her isn't getting her anywhere as far as making friends.
- Off-Model: Inverted in that the series was very on-model, to a fault. In many specials, especially post Core-7, every pony essentially looked alike at all times. They all followed the same movement patterns and weren't very expressive.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: A minor example of this trope happens in A Very Minty Christmas, Sweetberry and Triple Treat are discussing how they're going to make the "Here Comes Christmas Candy Cane", while Cotton Candy is complaining about how the Christmas lights have gotten tangled up. Sweetberry and Triple Treat think that Cotton Candy is joining in with their conversation when she speaks, which confuses Cotton Candy as well.
- The One Guy: There is one male pony◊ in all of G3, from Twinkle Wish Adventure.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: In this series, Spike had the full name of Kenbroth Gilspotten Heathspike, but everyone still just called him "Spike."
- Only Sane Man: Kimono shows signs of being this in A Charming Birthday.Kimono: "That's why I live outta town."
- Painting the Medium: Towards the end of the The World's Biggest Tea Party stage show, Spike holds up a useful book that he's found and says that he wishes he would have found it in Act One.
- Parental Bonus:
- "Minty, Minty, Minty" to "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" from The Brady Bunch. Of course, even the title "A Very Minty Christmas" is a reference to "A Very Brady Christmas." Someone was just a fan of the Brady Bunch franchise...
- The disco/hip-hop number in The World's Biggest Tea Party includes the line "Shake your cutie!"
- Pegasus: Thistle Whistle, Star Catcher, and others, who live on Butterfly Island.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: The Breezies.
- The Power of Friendship: At least two of the G3 songs are specifically about friendship, "Make a New Friend" and "That's What Makes a Friend." Another, "Far Apart," is about how hard it can be for two friends when they have to be apart from each other.Friends need their friends. On each one, the other depends. Like a rainbow lovely and rare, all the colors need to be there.
- The Power of Love: Everybody's group hug causes a glow of light to form around themselves and their houses back home.
- Primal Fear: From the "That's What Makes a Friend" song in the G3.5 Twinkle Wish Adventure: "Once you told me you're a little scared of the dark / I told you I can be afraid of it too."
- Record Needle Scratch: Used to cut short the "Positively Pink" song in the episode by the same name when Pinkie Pie nearly stumbles in on the surprise party. It was also used to end the song "Disco Dash" in The World's Biggest Tea Party stage show when Minty stumbled.
- Reflective Eyes:
- Happens in A Very Minty Christmas, when the decorated castle is shown reflected in Pinkie Pie's eye and then the scene cuts to the "Here Comes Christmas Candy Cane" being reflected in Minty's eye.
- Also happens in Positively Pink, when what the ponies have done so far in making everything look pink for Pinkie Pie is shown reflected in Minty's eye.
- Romantic Two-Girl Friendship:
- Minty and Pinkie Pie are very close friends.
- Skywishes and Star Catcher are famous for it.
- Special mention goes to Star Flight and Heart Bright, who are "as close as two ponies can be," go in for Sweetheart Sipping, share the same bed, dream the same dream, and finish each other's sentences.
- Saving Christmas: A Very Minty Christmas, Twinkle Wish Adventure.
- Scenery Porn: Several of the series' backgrounds were quite good, as were scenes with dark lighting.
- Slice of Life: Carrying the torch forward from "Tales".
- Somewhere, an Equestrian Is Crying: If Minty's favorite color is green, one would expect her to have show-off tendencies in her personality, as your typical horse only has cones in its eyes for red and blue.
- Spin-Off Babies: G3.5 and its two Once Upon A My Little Pony Time shorts and the Newborn Cuties toys they existed to promote.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: The Core 7 dominated the line near the end of the run.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: The ponies making the Here comes Christmas Candy Cane call it 'Pinkie Mint' because it's based off Pinkie Pie (who is in charge of the Christmas celebration) and her best friend Minty. Minty later calls it that exactly that while trying to align it properly.
- Surfer Dude: Sunny Daze is a surfer pony who talks in slang.
- Team Mom: Ponyville's spring parade comes close to getting derailed when Wysteria is taken out in The Princess Promenade and Wysteria is the only one capable of fixing things.
- Theme Tune Roll Call: With the core 7 ponies.
- These Are Things Ponies Were Not Meant to Know: In The Runaway Rainbow, when Rainbow Dash admits that she doesn't know how rainbows are made she says "Well, darlings, there are things we're not supposed to know."
- Title Theme Tune: They use an instrumental version of the original theme tune for the closing credits of most of these releases. They also used a vocal version for the live stage show, The World's Greatest Tea Party, which was later released to DVD. The instrumental version is also used heavily as a sort of Recurring Riff at the end of most songs in this stage show.
- Totally Radical: G3.5 Scootaloo is fond of saying "cool beans."
- To the Tune of...: The song "Singing Star" uses the same tune as the earlier song "Feelin' Good". Additionally, the musical The World's Biggest Tea Party does this with a few songs. "The Road to Unicornia" uses the tune from "We're Glad That Everyone's a Princess" from Princess Promenade. "At Crystal Rainbow Castle" is "Here in Unicornia" from The Runaway Rainbow. "How You Feel" is "Far Apart," also from The Runaway Rainbow. The fact that the music comes from songs previously in the franchise also makes them an example of Recycled Soundtrack.
- As a non-previously used in the show's soundtrack example; "Bouncebackability" (also from "The World's Biggest Tea Party) is based on "Down by the Riverside".
- Toyless Toyline Character: Several background ponies, and some named ones like Fiesta Flair and Storybelle.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Pegasus ponies love ice cream.
- Virtual Paper Doll:
- Wasn't That Fun?: "Let's do that again!" is Rarity's catchphrase in The Runaway Rainbow DVD.
- Whole Episode Flashback: G3.5's two Once Upon A My Little Pony Time shorts.
- You Keep Using That Word: The Newborn Cuties talk, have playdates and are generally more like toddlers than newborns. (This is the par for the whole franchise, where a "baby" anything will act more like an elementary schooler at the youngest.)
- You Mean "Xmas": The Winter Wishes Festival in G3.5 specials Waiting for the Winter Wishes Festival and Twinkle Wish Adventure. Averted in "A Very Minty Christmas".