My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (sometimes abbreviated to Friendship is Magic, MLP:FIM, or just FIM) is an animated television series based on the long-running Hasbro toy franchise My Little Pony, adapted for television by Lauren Faust. It is designated as the 'Fourth Generation' of My Little Pony, and is therefore also sometimes referred to as G4, especially when discussing the franchise as a whole.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has been a critical success among its target demographic of young girls, but is also known for having attracted a surprising periphery demographic of young adult males, known as the Brony fandom. As a result, it has become the subject of a large volume of fanfiction, fan art, websites, and has a thriving convention scene.
The first episode aired on The Hub on October 10, 2010 as one of the channel's flagship shows. Season 2 premiered on September 17, 2011. Season 3 premiered on November 10, 2012. Season 4 premiered on November 23, 2013.
The show takes place in the magical land of Equestria, populated by a variety of magical creatures, including the titular ponies. In the opening episode, we are introduced to Twilight Sparkle, a highly intelligent but also rather sheltered unicorn pony, who is concerned about a prophecy predicting the imminent return of the evil Nightmare Moon. Despite her warning, her mentor Princess Celestia refuses to take her seriously, and instead sends her to the nearby town of Ponyville with the task of making some friends.
Although she fails in this task at first, the return of Nightmare Moon sets in motion a chain of events which unites her with five other ponies - Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash - who band together to defeat the villainess. The six discover themselves to be the embodiments of the six Elements of Harmony, and after this, become firm friends. The show largely focuses around these six (referred to as the 'Mane Six' by fans).
The show is largely slice-of-life, with intermittent "adventure" episodes. Episodes typically revolve around problems faced by one or more of the characters, and the moral lessons that they learn in the attempt to find a solution. In seasons 1 and 2, these morals would be presented quite directly as letters dictated by Twilight (and later by other characters) to Princess Celestia at the end of each episode. In seasons 3 and 4, this has been largely dropped.
Equestria and its surrounding territories are home to many different sentient races:
- Pony - Equestrian ponies are often brightly colored, and all receive a unique, distinguishing magical mark (a 'cutie mark') on their flanks when they discover what makes them unique. There are several races (sometimes called tribes) of pony:
- Earth pony - a 'normal' pony without horn or wings. Implied to naturally possess great strength and stamina, as well as an innate talent with plants, animals, and rocks.
- Pegasus - a pony with feathered wings. Capable of flight, and with an innate ability to manipulate clouds and weather. Pegasi can naturally walk on clouds, and many live on them; there is an entire Pegasus city called Cloudsdale, high above Equestria.
- Unicorn - a pony with a single horn on its forehead. Unicorns can use their horns to perform magic. All unicorns can perform simple telekinesis, using their magic to levitate and hold objects in the air. Unicorns can also cast other magic spells, generally ones related to their special talent. Despite the mythological origins of the unicorn, Equestrian unicorns are considered equine, and aside from the horn have a normal pony body.
- Alicorn - a winged unicorn pony. Considered to be a combination of earth, pegasus, and unicorn ponies, with the abilities of all three. Alicorns in Equestria are extremely rare - only four are known to exist - and are revered by the populace. It is possible for an ordinary pony to become an alicorn through a form of ascension. Alicorns appear to automatically have royal status in Equestria, and all known alicorns are princesses.
- Bat pony - similar to a pegasus, but with slitted eyes and batlike wings. Bat ponies have only been seen in one episode and have never been named or identified, but have a following among fans.
- Crystal pony - a pony with a crystalline body, but which otherwise seems to be identical to an ordinary Equestrian pony. Crystal ponies have three tribal variations: crystal earth pony, crystal pegasus, and crystal unicorn. They inhabit the Crystal Empire, but have been seen visiting other locations.
- Griffon - half eagle, half lion hybrids. Griffons appear to have their own society, but nonetheless intermingle with ponies on rare occasions. In the fandom, they are popularly assumed to have their own country, the Griffon Kingdom.
- Changeling - an insectoid pony-like creature with the ability to disguise itself as any pony, and which feeds off of love. There appears to be a very large population of changelings, but they have only been seen once in the series so far. Changelings have a bee-like social structure, with a Queen who rules the hive.
- Zebra - one zebra, Zecora, is a secondary character in the show. Zebra are explicitly stated not to be ponies, and mostly live in a far off land (heavily implied to be the Equestrian equivalent of Africa).
- Minotaur - a species of bipedal bull with fingered hands.
- Dragon - typically the winged western variety, although there appears to be a lot of variation. Dragons can grow to enormous sizes and are known for their greed and hoarding habits. They appear to be impervious to high temperatures, and can breathe fire.
- Diamond Dog - a bipedal species of dog which lives underground and mines for gemstones. They appear to have a culture, military organisation, and trade economy.
- Donkey - a species which lives among the pony population. Little is known about them, but they appear to be treated like any other pony.
- Cow - known to be sapient (one is known by name, and is seen entering a shop), but at other times, are herded like cattle.
- Horse - horses are briefly seen in one season 3 episode. They appear to have their own territory (Saddle Arabia) and are closer to real horses than Equestrian ponies. Ponies also often use horse-related metaphors (eg. 'hearts strong as horses'), suggesting that the two races have been close in the past.
- Twilight Sparkle - a purple unicorn (and later alicorn) pony. Extremely studious, highly intelligent, but somewhat socially inept at first. She joined Ponyville as their new librarian, before later becoming a princess. She represents the Element of Magic.
- Applejack - an orange earth pony. A hardworking apple farmer with country mannerisms. She owns the Sweet Apple Acres farm and has a large extended family all over Equestria. She represents the Element of Honesty.
- Rainbow Dash - a blue pegasus pony with a rainbow-striped mane and tail. She is athletic, tomboyish, and a very talented flyer who dreams of joining the world-famous flight team, the Wonderbolts. She represents the Element of Loyalty.
- Pinkie Pie - a pink earth pony. She is incessantly cheerful, hyperactive, and loves to throw parties. Infamous for her tendency to break the fourth wall and perform cartoon-like feats that baffle even her friends. She represents the Element of Laughter.
- Fluttershy - a yellow pegasus pony. She is very timid and soft-spoken, and a poor flyer, usually preferring to remain on the ground. She has a talent for understanding and communicating with animals. She represents the Element of Kindness.
- Rarity - a white unicorn pony with a stylish purple mane and tail. She is a self-made fashionista who runs her own business, and dreams of being a part of high society. She represents the Element of Generosity.
- Spike - a small baby dragon. Twilight Sparkle's assistant and sidekick. He can breathe fire, and also has the magical ability to teleport items using his fire breath. This ability is commonly used to send messages to Princess Celestia (and can be used in reverse, to receive messages back).
- Princess Celestia - an white alicorn pony. Ruler of Equestria, who raises and lowers the sun at dawn and sunset. She is thousands of years old, and Twilight Sparkle's personal mentor.
- Princess Luna - a dark blue alicorn pony. The sister of Princess Celestia and co-ruler of Equestria. She raises and lowers the moon at sunset and dawn. She is also the guardian of pony dreams, and can freely enter a pony's dreamscape while they are asleep. She was formerly banished to the moon for 1000 years, when her jealousy turned her into the evil Nightmare Moon.
- Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo, three fillies collectively known as The Cutie Mark Crusaders. None of them have yet discovered their special talents, and so lack their cutie marks.
- Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon - a pair of rich fillies who bully the Cutie Mark Crusaders.
- Snips and Snails - a pair of colts, known for their stupidity.
- The Apple Family - a large family of ponies including Applejack, Apple Bloom, their brother Big Macintosh, and their grandmother Granny Smith, along with numerous others.
- Mr. and Mrs. Cake - a couple who operate the bakery where Pinkie Pie lives, and later give birth to twins Pound Cake and Pumpkin Cake.
- Zecora - a zebra who lives in the nearby Everfree Forest and always speaks in rhyme.
- Mayor Mare - the Mayor of Ponyville, who officiates in matters pertaining to the running of the town.
- Ms. Cheerilee - the local school teacher.
- Shining Armor - Twilight's brother and leader of the Royal Guard. He is married to Princess Cadance, Celestia's niece.
- Princess Cadance - a pink alicorn. Twilight Sparkle's former babysitter, and Ruler of the Crystal Empire.
- Spitfire - leader of the Wonderbolts, Equestria's top pegasus flight team.
- Derpy Hooves - a gray pegasus pony with a blonde mane. Recognisable by her eyes, which are wall-eyed (facing in opposite directions). Originally an animation error, she quickly became a fan favorite and was brought back several times by the animators for background roles. In season 2, she was given a speaking role, which proved highly controversial as some complained that it was insensitive to the disabled. This resulted in Derpy being given a long absence from the show, but she was eventually brought back in season 4. She is widely considered to be the mascot of the Brony fandom.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has found a strong following among adults and older teens, despite the target audience being young girls. This has been attributed to a variety of factors, most often the quality of writing and animation on the show.
A fan of the show is known as a "brony," a portmanteau of the words "bro" and "pony". Although the term is masculine in origin, it is considered to cover fans of all genders. The term 'pegasister', a portmanteau of 'pegasus' and 'sister', has been coined to refer specifically to female fans, but it is not in wide use.
The creators of the show have reciprocated the feelings of the fandom, referencing bronies in the Equestria Girls promo and even marketing directly to the adult demographic. Probably the most significant call out came in the canonisation of the character Derpy Hooves, whose name and personality was collectively created by the fandom. Other fan names have become canon outside of the TV show such as the name Lyra being adopted in the toy line. Derpy - along with other fan favourites Doctor Whooves, Octavia, Carrot Top, Berry Punch, Colgate, Vinyl Scratch/DJ Pon-3, Lyra and Bon-Bon - appeared on the poster distributed at Comic Con 2011.
The brony fandom has a significant crossover with the furry fandom. According to the 2014 State of the Herd Report, 21% of bronies consider themselves furry as well. Many furry artists have branched into pony art, and several of the brony fandom's celebrities are or have been involved in the furry fandom in the past.
Many things familiar to furries have equivalents in the brony fandom:
- an extremely active art scene - one of the best-known and most active image boards is derpibooru.
- costuming - ranging from simple earbands and tails to full pony fursuits.
- meetups - similar to furmeets, and varying from casual get-togethers to gatherings of hundreds of people.
- conventions - many take place every year, all over the world.
- avatars - like fursonas, most bronies will have a ponysona to represent them in the fandom. This is usually referred to as an OC (Original Character), a term commonly used in TV show fandoms.
- vocabulary - like the furspeech of the furry fandom (or indeed, most fandoms) a vocabulary of fandom-specific words exists. Some of the terms are taken directly from the show, such as "anypony" (anybody), or "fillies and gentlecolts" (ladies and gentlemen). Others derive from memes (for example: 'plot' to mean a pony's backside).
- an adult scene. Sexuality is explored in the brony fandom as freely as in furry, and some aspects of the vocabulary reflect this: most notably, "clop" is the brony equivalent of yiff, and is a euphemism for adult material, as well as for masturbation (similar to 'pawing' for furries). .
- trolls - sometimes called 'parasprites' in the brony fandom.
- a writing community, mostly organised on Fimfiction, with a few also using Fanfiction.net.
- roleplay - this generally takes place on forums and IRC.
- news sites - Equestria Daily is the biggest and most active.
There are also a few differences between the scenes:
- a heavier emphasis on music. Although there are a number of furry musicians, the brony fandom's musical output is comparatively more popular among members of the fandom, and music is regarded as important as visual art by most. There are a large number of brony musicians who create new music and remixes regularly, often releasing entire albums. The most popular brony song as of 2014 is The Living Tombstone's Discord remix, which has more than ten million views on YouTube.
- cosplay (that is, specifically costuming as canon characters) is more widespread, as the show contains a very large number of characters.
- younger demographic - the Brony fandom's age demographic is skewed well toward youth, with a large proportion in their teens or even younger. As a result, there are efforts to keep the fandom child-friendly and to segregate the adult and non-adult sides. Many of the major conventions are family-friendly, and encourage children and parents.
- G4 Friendship is Magic Ponies
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic at Know Your Meme: Fans outside the show's demographic, especially teen and adult male fans, have come to be known as "bronies"
- Pegasister on Urban Dictionary
- MADMAN DVD Dubbed "The Brony Box" at Equestria Daily
- Lyra Heartstrings on Friendship is Magic Wiki
- 2014 State of the Herd Report
- "Epic Fail Guy is a Brony", "RandomMan" et. al. Wingboner / Clopping. Know Your Meme.
- Discord (Remix)
- Official announcement on the Anthrocon website
- My Little Pony wikis at WikiIndex.org
- Equestrian Dawn, EquestriaMUCK, EquestriaMUSH, PonyMUSH and other My Little Pony multiplayer worlds
- European Pony Convention Union (EPCU)
- Finland: Crystal Fair website, deviantART Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter
- France: Bronydays website, Facebook and Twitter
- Czech Republic: Czequestria website and Twitter
- Netherlands: Hearth's Warming Con website and Twitter
- Poland: My Little Konwent Facebook (mlk2014.pl forwards to Facebook)
- United Kingdom:
- North America:
- Bay Area Brony Spectacular (BABSCon) website and Twitter (California)
- Big Apple Ponycon (New York)
- Brony Fan Fair website and Facebook (Texas)
- BronyCon convention website (Maryland)
- DerpyCon South website, Facebook and Twitter (Louisiana)
- Equestria LA (California)
- Everfree NorthWest (Washington state)
- Fiesta Equestria, Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter (Texas)
- Grand Brony Gala website, Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter (Florida)
- Midwest Bronyfest (Missouri)
- MLP-MSP (Minnesota)
- My Little Pony Fair website, Facebook and Twitter (Tennessee)
- Nightmare Nights Dallas website, Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter (Texas)
- PON3 Con (Nebraska)
- Ponyville CiderFest website, Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter (Wisconsin)
- Running of the Leaves Convention (Colorado)
- TrotCon (Ohio)