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Western Animation / My Little Pony TV Specials
aka: My Little Pony Rescue At Midnight Castle

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Based on Hasbro's My Little Pony toyline. Created in The '80s, this pair of Merchandise-Driven half-hour TV specials came with the wide success of the toyline. The first was aired in 1984 and another in 1985. They were followed by My Little Pony: The Movie (1986), which was in-turn followed by a TV series called My Little Pony 'n Friends.

My Little Pony: Rescue at Midnight Castle/Firefly's Adventure

Evil Overlord Tirac, who seeks to unleash the Rainbow of Darkness on the world and bring about The Night That Never Ends, dispatches his henchman Scorpan and his dragonlike army to abduct ponies to pull his Chariot of Midnight. As the colorful little ponies frolic, the surprise attack succeeds in capturing two of their number.

The rest of the ponies panic and lock themselves up in Dream Castle, but daring Firefly goes to get help. After an accident involving a well, she meets and promptly abducts Megan, a cowgirl who is about ten years old, doesn't see herself as any sort of hero, and certainly doesn't look up to fighting dragons... yeah, Firefly's plan needed more thought (perhaps not surprising, this character would later inspire generation 4's Rainbow Dash).

Just as the ponies leave Dream Castle to welcome Firefly and their new ally, Scorpan returns for a second assault, needing more ponies to complete Tirac's plans. They abduct a third adult pony and the helpless foal Ember, inspiring Megan to take action. The ponies suggest that their first stop should be the Mushrump to meet with the Moochick, a strange gnome wizard with a terrible memory and a mushroom motif. He gives Megan a locket containing "The Rainbow of Light" and they head toward Midnight Castle, intent on freeing their friends and stopping Tirac before all is lost.

Originally untitled, this special was known as Rescue at Midnight Castle in repeats and Firefly's Adventure on VHS.

My Little Pony: Escape from Catrina

The Little Ponies prepare a "Welcome Back" party for their human friend, Megan. (Strangely, absolutely none of the original ponies from the first special appear in this follow-up, so it's anyone's guess why they're welcoming her back). Meanwhile, little furballs called Bushwoolies toil in a pit for Catrina, a drug-addicted Catgirl with magic powers, under the watchful eye of a shape-shifting lizard-man named Rep. When they revolt and escape, she tries to make the little ponies her new slaves to keep her machine working.

Over Rep's protests (he remembers her before she became a witchweed addict), Catrina and Rep kidnap Baby Moondancer. Megan and the other ponies storm to the rescue, but Catrina tries to force them into a choice between their freedom and Baby Moondancer's life.

The two specials contain examples of:

  • '80s Hair: Even though they're horses, several ponies in the pilot have hair in this style. Megan herself surprisingly doesn't — her hairstyle is a timeless ponytail. Catrina herself wore a fancy bouffant before she turned evil, and takes it up again once she reforms.
  • Absent-Minded Professor: The Moochick is wise and knowledgeable, but also chronically absent-minded and prone to forgetting where he stashed crucial MacGuffins.
  • Action Girl:
    • In Midnight Castle, Megan, Firefly, and Bowtie are all portrayed as very brave and proactive, and willing to throw themselves into danger to rescue their friends or do the right thing.
    • In Escape from Catrina, Megan once again runs straight into rescuing the ponies from danger. Sundance also fits to a certain extent, being one of the ponies to accompany Megan and the most proactive in rescuing Baby Moondancer.
  • Another Dimension: Not outright stated, but it's heavily implied that rainbows are passage ways between our mundane Earth and the ponies' Ponyland. Plus, had Megan lived in the same reality as the ponies, that Firefly could speak and fly would not have come as a surprise to her. Another explanation is that they do live in the same reality but the Ponyland ponies live far in an area from "normal" places.
  • Anti-Villain: In both specials, the villain's main henchman — Scorpan in the first, Rep in the second — is clearly very unenthusiastic about his boss' plans and goes along mostly out of pressure and fear of punishment. Both try to help others when they can, such as Scorpan protecting Spike and Rep trying to help and cover for the bushwoolies and to mitigate Catrina's excesses. In the end of their respective specials, they also cross fully to the good guys' side.
  • Artifact of Doom: Tirac's Rainbow of Darkness. It's normally contained into a pouch, where it throbs like a heart and shines with an eerie, creepy glow. Also, Catrina's Witchweed potion, which grants her terrible powers when imbibed.
  • Badass Adorable:
    • "Danger is my life!" says Firefly, who later kicks a dragon in the face.
    • Bowtie also counts. She frees herself from being picked up by the dragons by kicking her way free and she's the best jumper of the land-walking ponies.
  • Badass Boast: "We have a power of our own, Tirac. Take this!"
  • Badass Normal: Megan, who begins the series by fending off a dragon empty-handed and finishes the first special by killing Tirac with the Rainbow of Light.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Sea Ponies, who come to Applejack and Megan's rescue when they fall in the river.
  • Body Horror: The first three ponies being transformed by Tirac can be seen at a kind of halfway stage midway through, still crying and whimpering in fear.
  • Busby Berkeley Number: The Sea Ponies song is accompanied with a dance number that is very reminiscent of one in an Esther Williams movie.
  • Cats Are Mean: Played with Catrina on the second TV special. The trope is inverted before she became addicted to Witchweed Potion, and is played straight during this phase. She subverts it again after she finally kicks the habit.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Firefly attempts her "double inside-out loop" early on in "Rescue at Midnight Castle", but fails and crashes into Applejack. She attempts it again to save Megan and later during the final battle to help defeat Tirac.
    • Similarly, Twilight's teleportation. We see it once early on to know she can do it, and then it comes in handy during some MacGuffin Keep-Away. (This is before the show would make it so that every unicorn could do that; in the special it's Twilight's unique talent.)
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: The Moochick's long-suffering rabbit, Habit, who tempers his boss' absent-mindedness and holds onto crucial items he'd inevitably misplace.
  • Covers Always Lie: The European covers for both specials relate to the actual content very little. The Rescue at Midnight Castle cover shows many ponies who aren't even in the episodes, and for some reason Spike has wings and is big enough to be ridden by Megan. It even features the G3 logo rather than the G1 one even though it should be the latter. The Escape From Catrina cover shows a prototypical version of Danny with pretty much nothing from the special in it.
  • Cute Kitten: Twinkles the cat (who came with the original Pretty Parlor playset) can be seen in "Rescue at Midnight Castle."
  • Damsel in Distress:
    • In Midnight Castle, we have five of them, including Applejack. Actually, especially Applejack, who almost drowns, later is kidnapped by Tirac's henchmen and finally is turned into a monster after she takes a direct hit of the Rainbow of Darkness.
    • In Escape from Catrina, Baby Moondancer is kidnapped by the titular villain and has to be rescued by the heroes.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Scorpan. He looks demonic, but he's a Noble Demon at worst.
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted; Catrina nearly falls into a pit at the end of her special, but the ponies and Rep save her after she agrees to destroy the Witchweed Potion machine and thus the source of her insanity.
  • The Dog Bites Back: In both specials, the villain's cruelty towards their underlings causes them to turn against the. Scorpan and Spike turn against Tirac in the first special after he threatens to execute Spike, while Rep goes against Catrina in the second in response to her evil and abuses.
  • Doo-Wop Progression: The Sea Ponies' song does this.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Averted. Throughout Escape from Catrina, Rep is pushed around, belittled, and even struck by Catrina. The special does not treat this like it's okay.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The subtle-as-a-brick Aesop of the second TV special.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Catrina's addiction to the witchweed potion and the power it brings. Her only friend Rep laments how it has warped her personality.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: Tirac's first seen as a vague figure sitting on his throne and shrouded in darkness, and makes his full debut by standing up and emerging from the shadows to reveal his full figure.
  • Empathic Environment: At the very beginning, it's sunny and pleasant out, but the instant Scorpan and the other riders show up, it becomes cloudy, windy, and ominous immediately. It's also permanently overcast over Midnight Castle, but that's possibly justified, since its master controls of the power of darkness.
  • Ermine Cape Effect: After Scorpan is transformed back to his original form of a handsome prince, he's wearing the requisite ermine cape.
  • Even Mooks Have Loved Ones:
    • Tirac really shouldn't have threatened Scorpan with decapitating Spike, since this is what finally made Scorpan rebel against him.
    • An interesting case in the second with Rep, whose loved one is Katrina herself, namely the person she used to be before getting Drunk on the Dark Side. He still cares about her but laments how she's changed.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: The first TV special ends with a butterfly landing on Ember's nose, causing her to sneeze, fall in a brook and splash Bubbles. Megan, the ponies, Spike and Scorpan all laugh together at it.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Megan's Rainbow of Light tears Tirac apart, almost destroys Midnight Castle (with the good guys still on it) and finally drags Tirac to the sky, where he is killed in a giant explosion. But frankly he deserved it.
  • Fantastic Aesop: Also from Catrina. Remember kids, stay off drugs, or else you'll become a lightning spamming giant that tries to enslave pastel-colored hairballs and ponies! After a while, even your long time shapeshifting Lizard Folk enabler will grow tired of you, turn into a bull, and knock you into a pit of the stuff to drown in your own habit!
  • Fashion Show: The second special ends with one.
  • Floating in a Bubble: When Megan and Applejack fall in the river, they end up within a giant air bubble and are easily carried around in it, floating around weightlessly instead of falling through the water they're technically standing on. Fortunately, the Sea Ponies arrive to help them back to the surface.
  • Foreshadowing: Scorpan's true nature is hinted at early on when he saves Megan from falling during a Stratadon attack. You can also see him clenching his fists when he has to go "yes, Master" to Tirac.
  • Fungus Humongous: The Mushromp, home of the Moochick, is a patch of land filled with mushrooms ranging from ones as tall as the ponies and with caps wider than they're tall to ones the size of trees, one of which has been hollowed out to make the Moochick's house.
  • Furry Confusion: Megan has a pony. A non-sapient pony. That she introduces Firefly to. Though admittedly she lives in the human world while the ponies live in Dream Valley.
  • Genius Ditz: The Moochick. He always knows exactly what the ponies need to do to fix whatever apocalypse they're in the middle of now, but he has a terrible memory and a tendency to misplace very important items and tools.
  • Genki Girl: Firefly. She takes Megan to Ponyland within minutes of meeting her and listens to precisely none of Megan's (reasonable) arguments that she's not qualified to be their savior. She reframes all of Megan's protests as self-doubt and exhorts her to believe in herself.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Bowtie wears twin-tails tied with ribbons as well as the standard ribbon on her tail.
  • G-Rated Drug: Witchweed potion. It turns Catrina, who used to be a much nicer person, into a huge demonic giant that shoots lightning out of her eyes. (Certainly, this is a well-documented side-effect of real narcotics...)
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Catrina, after her addiction to Witchweed potion drove her insane. After she kicks the habit, she inverts this trope.
  • Good Hurts Evil: It only took a few seconds of struggle for Megan's ridiculously tiny Rainbow of Light to absorb Tirac's Rainbow of Darkness and brutally kill him.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Megan's a Friend to All Living Things, but she'll quite literally obliterate you if you're truly irredeemable.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Completely averted as far as those lizardman creatures that serve Tirac are concerned. That they're actually good at their job makes Megan and the ponies' victory more impressive.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Scorpan and Catrina both turn to the side of the heroes at the end of their respective specials. Scorpan turns against Tirac early on when he threatens Spike's life, only joining up with the heroes once they meet up later, while Catrina accepts a last-second chance after being defeated.
  • Hellish Horse: The ponies captured and transformed by Tirac become monstrous dragon-like creatures.
  • Huge Girl, Tiny Guy: Catrina is much taller than Rep, towering over him by a fully head or more even when not enlarged by her potion.
  • Inconsistent Spelling:
    • Is the villain in the first special named Tirek or Tirac? Not even This Very Wiki can agree on it. IMDb further clouds the argument with the spelling Tirak. The G4 version of him is named "Tirek" according to the credits of the "Twilight's Kingdom" two-parter. According to the 1986 "My Little Pony 'n Friends" show bible, his name is "Tirac". Here's the proof.
    • The later edition (and subsequent 2-part syndication version) of "Escape from Catrina" misspells Catrina's name in the title.
    • "Katrina" or "Catrina" is a common debate amongst fans.
  • Interspecies Romance: On the second TV special, we have Catrina (a catwoman) whose boyfriend is a shape-shifting lizard-man named Rep.
  • Jumped at the Call: Megan is essentially abducted by Firefly, but once she gets there and sees Tirac's minions abducting ponies, she's immediately on board.
  • Lady Land: A staple of the series besides Tales and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
  • Last-Second Chance: Catrina is offered a chance to redeem herself as she's hanging on the edge of her well, with a genuine offer of friendship provided that she forsakes her cruel ways, and she actually accepts it.
  • Lighter and Softer: Everything after the first TV special was this. The first special was pretty dark and grim for a kids show, included ponies set on fire, considerable violence, threatened beheading, and the Big Bad being brutally killed at the end. Ironic in that this was how the My Little Pony show began, as possibly the most hardcore TV cartoon of its time, yet Tales and the third generation created such a powerful reputation as a shallow show that it was difficult for many to believe My Little Pony could ever be anything else even when Friendship is Magic came along to change the show's style again.
  • Little Girls Kick Shins: Baby Moondancer kicks Rep in the leg when he attempts to kidnap her.
  • Lizard Folk: Rep resembles a humanoid lizard with a bird's beak.
  • Magic Potion: In Escape from Catrina, the titular sorceress makes heavy use of witchweed potion, a substance brewed from the eponymous plant using a complex system of machinery. Drinking it grants Catrina her magic power, and it's potent enough that a quick sip allows her to grow to enormous size and cast powerful spells, but it also causes her personality to become erratic and volatile.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Scorpan, who's a genuinely nice guy deep down. That fact that he looks like Satan may have something to do with it.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Scorpan in the first special; a fundamentally ape-like body and limbs, a lion's tail and mane, bat-like wings, pointed bestial ears, and a face that can be described as a mixture between simian and crocodilian.
  • Mood Whiplash: Rescue at Midnight Castle, maybe also due to lack of time:
    • At the very beginning. Not even a minute of colorful ponies playing in the sunlight before BAM!, dark clouds, thunderstorm, enter Scorpan with the dragons.
    • Applejack falls off the bridge into a quite deep river. Megan jumps after her. Everything looks like Applejack is about to drown. Suddenly, SHOO BE DOO, SHOOP SHOOP BE DOO!
    • The Sea Ponies return just after Megan and the ponies have arrived outside dark and scary Midnight Castle.
    • The end is pretty much the beginning in reverse.
  • Morality Pet:
    • Spike is this for Scorpan on the first TV special, serving as a focus most of his sympathetic moments through Scorpan's genuine desire to care for him.
    • Rep tries to be this for Catrina in the second, although he doesn't have much luck in his attempts to talk her down from her worst displays.
  • Mushroom House: The Mushromp, home of the Moochick, is a mushroom so large it's been converted into a fairly sizable house for the gnome, one big enough to fit several pony visitors.
  • Mythology Gag: Yes, the first installment has 'em.
    • In the toyline, Megan is a frilly Barbie princess doll type character, a stark contrast to the rough-and-tumble cowgirl of the show. At the end of Escape from Catrina, she's wearing the doll's dress at the party, the only time we'll ever see it.
    • Megan's normal, non-sentient horse TJ is based on the original "My Pretty Pony," the predecessor to the franchise.
  • The Night That Never Ends: Tirac's ultimate goal in the first TV special is the Trope Namer — he wants to use the Rainbow of Darkness to create eternal night, although his reasons for doing so aren't stated.
  • Noble Demon: Scorpan was like a father for Spike and tried to spare as many people as he could from falling into Tirac's hands. He also warned Megan not to interfere. Subverted in that he is really an enchanted human prince and the rightful lord of the lands seized by Tirac.
  • No Ontological Inertia: After Tirac is killed, his entire kingdom reverts to a pleasant countryside, and everyone he transformed goes back to their former shapes.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Tirac and Scorpan are drawn in a far more dark and realistic style that is unusual for such a show. In his true human form, Scorpan is dark-haired and mature. In fact, he looks to be based on Robert Taylor.
  • Off with His Head!: Tirac threatens Scorpan with making heads roll — Spike's head if he fails at bringing him the final pony before midnight. This is the last straw for Scorpan, who allies with the ponies and turns against Tirac.
  • Opening Credits Cast Party: In Midnight Castle, the special opens with the ponies partying like its 1899. Then... things get worse.
  • Our Centaurs Are Different: Tirac is a cross between this and a Big Red Devil, with a horselike lower body and red-skinned, bull-horned humanoid upper.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Tirac keeps a large force of stratadons, creatures essentially resembling the lizard-bellied, fat-bodied dragons of older cartoons in all respects save being transformed butterflies. He later turns the captured ponies into another, unnamed sort of draconic monsters, which have large tusks and no wings, but can nonetheless run through the air. In the second special, Rep briefly turns into another lizard-bellied dragon to bear Catrina and Baby Moondancer away from Dream Castle.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Tirac and his minions come out of nowhere and the ponies have no defense against them. They seem to have invaded from another show entirely.
  • Painful Transformation: The ponies who are turned into dragons by Tirac are clearly terrified and in distress during the process.
  • Power Echoes: Tirac's voice, two sentences out of three, has an echo under it. Why? 'Cause he's evil. Or he's mostly in a castle with flat stone walls and probably isn't the type to decorate with tapestries or chandeliers.
  • Power Makes Your Hair Grow: Catrina has a wild, waist-length mane. When she reforms, she's back to a short bob.
  • Power Source: Catrina's power depends on having a constant supply of Witchweed potion. When she is about to run out of it, she completely snaps, which kickstarts the TV special.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Tirac doesn't hurt Ember... but only because she's too small to pull his chariot.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: On the second TV special we have Rep, who's a pretty decent guy. He's just (initially) too much of a sap to stand up to the power-crazed Catrina.
  • Recycled Premise: The plot of the second special is near identical to the first: Big Bad wants to kidnap ponies to serve their purposes and they have to be stopped, and they have an Anti-Villain employee who turns on them in the end.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The brash and impulsive Firefly plays Red Oni to everyone else in the special, but especially the more grounded and level-headed Medley and Twilight.
  • Reforged into a Minion: The ponies transformed into demon-dragons by the Rainbow of Darkness, and Scorpan himself and in the end all of Tirac's forces are revealed to be people or innocent creatures turned into monstrous servants by the villain.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Most of the ponies in Escape From Catrina debuted there — almost none of the first special's cast appears — yet they're celebrating for Megan's return. Megan also appears to remember all of them.
  • Reused Character Design: Two of the Sea Ponies are just Sea Pony versions of Bow Tie and Firefly.
  • Secret Underground Passage: Megan and the ponies use one to get into Midnight Castle.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The panther statues in Catrina's lair in the second special look almost exactly like Ravage from The Transformers.
    • When we first see Tirac, his face is never seen, and he is petting the bag containing his Rainbow of Darkness as though it were a cat. Much like Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
  • Signature Style: The resemblance of Rescue at Midnight Castle to Dungeons & Dragons can be explained by the fact that it was made by the same production team responsible for the Dungeons & Dragons (1983) cartoon.
  • Sugar Apocalypse: Ponyland and its multicolored inhabitants come under threat by two evil sorcerers who want them enslaved at best. Tirac's plan comes perilously close to succeeding.
  • Team Mom: Medley, at least until Megan comes. Like her, she is the soft-spoken voice of reason in the group.
  • Tempting Fate: The last two lines of the Rescue at Midnight Castle intro theme are "No sign of trouble in sight/May all your days be bright". Not thirty seconds later, giant dragons appear and wreck havoc on Dream Valley.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: The sporty, active Firefly and the more timid, feminine Medley.
  • Toyless Toy Line Character:
    • Only three of the Sea Ponies were actual toy characters.
    • Notably, there's a white mare who appears with Twinkles but never had a toy. Common theory is that she's the "First Born" figurine.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show:
    • Tirac is an archetypal example of a truly creepy evil in a land of otherwise cutesy happiness. A dark and shadowy centaur that corrupts ponies into demonic dragons.
    • Catrina follows the tradition. She's a drug-addicted witch driven absolutely mad with the need to feed her chemical hunger, who enslaves smaller creatures with terrifying displays of magic and threatens to execute children in order to make others work to keep up her supply of drugs.
  • Visual Pun: As with the later movie and TV series, Megan can be seen in both specials wearing a "ponytail"; may or may not have been intentional.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Rep can turn himself into other creatures at will, generally only briefly taking other shapes in order to deal with particular situations, such as by turning into a bird to rescue a falling bushwoolie or into a bull to charge down Catrina.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • In the first special, an unnamed white pony with a multi-color mane, who is accompanied by a cat later given to Peaches, is never named or made into a toy.
    • None of the ponies from the first special appear in either in the second special, the movie, or My Little Pony 'n Friends.
  • Winged Unicorn: In Escape from Catrina, a Blooper causes pegasus Baby Surprise to have a horn for a couple of shots during the song "Let's Not Take a Nap".
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Catrina's Witchweed potion gives her immense magical powers at the cost of her morality and sanity.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Catrina threatens to toss Baby Moondancer into a well if the other ponies won't be her slaves, and promptly does so when they refuse.
  • You Monster!: Megan furiously calls Scorpan a monster when she sees him abducting ponies.

Alternative Title(s): My Little Pony Escape From Catrina, My Little Pony Rescue At Midnight Castle