My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a Canadian-American animated fantasy television series created by Lauren Faust for Hasbro. The series is based on Hasbro's My Little Pony line of toys and animated works and is often referred to by collectors as the fourth generation (also referred to as “G4”) of the franchise. The series premiered on October 10, 2010, on The Hub (which was renamed as Discovery Family in late 2014), and ended on October 12, 2019. Hasbro selected animator Lauren Faust as the creative director and executive producer for the show. Faust sought to challenge the established nature of the existing My Little Pony line, creating more in-depth characters and adventurous settings; she left the series during season 2, to be replaced by Meghan McCarthy as showrunner for the remainder of the series.
|My Little Pony:|
Friendship Is Magic
Series' logo from seasons seven to nine
|Created by||Lauren Faust|
|Based on||My Little Pony|
by Bonnie Zacherle
|Theme music composer||Daniel Ingram|
|Opening theme||"Friendship Is Magic"|
|Ending theme||"Friendship Is Magic" (instrumental)|
|Country of origin|
|No. of seasons||9|
|No. of episodes||222 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Original network||Discovery Family|
|Original release||October 10, 2010 –|
October 12, 2019
The show follows a studious anthropomorphic unicorn (later an alicorn) pony named Twilight Sparkle as her mentor, Princess Celestia, guides her to learn about friendship in the town of Ponyville. Twilight and her dragon assistant Spike become close friends with five other ponies: Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie. Each of the ponies represent a different facet of friendship, and Twilight discovers herself to be a key part of the magical artifacts known as the "Elements of Harmony". The ponies travel on adventures and help others around Equestria while working out problems that arise in their own friendships.
The series has become a major commercial success, becoming the highest rated original production in Hub Network's broadcast history and leading to new merchandising opportunities for Hasbro, including books, clothing, collectible trading cards, and comics. Despite the target demographic of young girls, Friendship Is Magic has also gained a large following of older viewers, mainly young and middle-aged men, who call themselves "bronies". Portions of the show have become part of the remix culture, and have also formed the basis for a variety of internet memes.
A feature-length film adaptation directly based on the TV series, titled My Little Pony: The Movie, was theatrically released on October 6, 2017 in the United States. A spin-off franchise, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, was launched in 2013. The first two films, Equestria Girls and Rainbow Rocks, were shown in limited theatrical screenings prior to television broadcast and home media release.
A spin-off series, titled My Little Pony: Pony Life, is scheduled to premiere sometime in 2020 on Discovery Family.
Hasbro, Inc. has produced several incarnations and lines of toys and entertainment related to the My Little Pony franchise, often labeled by collectors as "generations". The animated series My Little Pony Tales which premiered in 1992 was the toy line's most recent television series before Friendship Is Magic, featuring the pony designs of the first toy line. It was followed by various direct-to-video releases, which featured later designs up to the third incarnation of the franchise. Just as Michael Bay's film had helped to boost the new Transformers toy line, Hasbro wanted to retool the My Little Pony franchise and update it to better suit the current demographic and taste of young girls. According to Margaret Loesch, CEO of Hub Network, revisiting properties that had worked in the past was an important programming decision, influenced to an extent by the opinions of the network's programming executives, a number of whom were once fans of such shows. Senior Vice President Linda Steiner also stated that they "intended to have the show appeal to a larger demographic", with the concept of "co-viewing" of parents with their children being a central theme of the Hub Network's programming.Central themes that Hasbro sought for the show included friendships and working together, factors they determined from market research in how girls played with their toys.
Animator and writer Lauren Faust approached Hasbro, seeking to develop her girls' toys property "Galaxy Girls" into an animated series. Faust, who had previously worked on Cartoon Network's The Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, had been pitching original animation aimed at girls for years, but had always been rejected by studios and networks because cartoons for girls were considered unsuccessful. When she pitched to Lisa Licht of Hasbro Studios, Licht showed Faust one of their recent My Little Pony animated works, Princess Promenade, "completely on the fly". Licht considered that Faust's style was well suited to that line, and asked her to consider "some ideas where to take a new version of the franchise".
Faust was initially hired by Hasbro to create a pitch bible for the show, allowing her to get additional help with conceptualization. Faust said she was "extremely skeptical" about taking the job at first because she had always found shows based on girls' toys to be boring and unrelatable. My Little Pony was one of her favorite childhood toys, but she was disappointed that her imagination at the time was nothing like the animated shows, in which the characters, according to Faust, "just had endless tea parties, giggled over nothing and defeated villains by either sharing with them or crying". With the chance to work on My Little Pony, she hoped to prove that "cartoons for girls don't have to be a puddle of smooshy, cutesy-wootsy, goody-two-shoeness". To do this, she incorporated into the design of the characters and the show many elements that contradicted idealized stereotypes of girls, such as diverse personalities, the message that friends can be different and can get into arguments but still be friends, and the idea that girls should not be limited by what others say they can or cannot do. Elements of the characters' personalities and the show's settings were based on her own childhood imagination of the ponies' adventures, in part inspired by the animated shows that her brothers would watch while growing up, such as Transformers and G.I. Joe; she considered that she was making Friendship Is Magic "for me as an eight-year-old". Faust still aimed for the characters to be "relatable" characters, using stereotypical "icons of girliness" (such as the waif or the bookworm) in order to broaden the appeal of the characters for the young female audience.
Faust stated that as she provided Hasbro with more of her ideas for the show, she was inspired by their positive response to the non-traditional elements. Faust had initially pitched the show to include "adventure stories" in a similar proportion to "relationship stories", but recognizing the younger target audience, as well as the difficulty of basing complex plots on the adventure elements, she trimmed back this content, focusing more on exchanges between the characters. The show still incorporates episodic creatures intended to be frightening to children, such as dragons and hydras, but it places more emphasis on the friendships among the characters, displayed with a comedic tone. By the time the show was approved, Faust had developed three full scripts for the series.
Faust began to work out concept sketches, several of which appeared on her DeviantArt page, including ponies from the original series (Twilight, Applejack, Firefly, Surprise, Posey and Sparkler), which later provided the core for the main cast of the show. Hasbro approved the show with Faust as Executive Producer and asked her to complete the pitch bible. In order to do so, Faust brought in Martin Ansolabehere and Paul Rudish, who had worked on other animated shows with her. Faust credits Rudish for the inspiration of the pegasus ponies controlling the weather in Equestria, as well as the character of Nightmare Moon during this period. Faust also consulted Craig McCracken, her husband and also an animator and creator of The Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. After seeing the initial version of the pitch bible, Hasbro requested more character designs from Faust's team; subsequently, Faust brought aboard Dave Dunnet and Lynne Naylor to further refine the background and character styles.
On completion of the pitch bible, Hasbro and Faust began looking at studios for the animation. Studio B Productions (renamed to DHX Media on September 8, 2010, after its parent company, along with DHX's other subsidiaries)had previously worked on Macromedia Flash-based animations and on shows that featured a large number of animals, and Faust felt they would be a good selection. Studio B requested that Jayson Thiessen be the director, a choice Faust agreed with. She, Thiessen, and James Wootton led the completion of a two-minute short to pitch the final product to Hasbro, resulting in the company's sanctioning the full production. Faust estimates that from being initially asked to develop the show until this point took roughly one year.
The show is developed at Hasbro Studios in Los Angeles, where most of the writing staff is located, and at DHX Media Vancouver in Vancouver, British Columbia, for the animation work and most of the voice acting.
Faust's initial writing staff at Hasbro Studios included several writers who had worked with her on her previous shows and were approved by Hasbro. These included Amy Keating Rogers, Cindy Morrow, Meghan McCarthy, Chris Savino, Charlotte Fullerton, M.A. Larson, and Dave Polsky. The writing process began with Faust and Renzetti coming up with broad plots for each show. The two then held a brainstorming session with each episode's writer, allowing the writer to script out scenes and dialogue. Faust and Renzetti then worked with the writer to finalize the scripts and assign some basic storyboard instructions. Hasbro was involved throughout this process and laid down some of the concepts to be incorporated into the show. Examples of Hasbro's influence include having Celestia be a princess rather than a queen, making one of the ponies focused on fashion, and portraying toy sets in relevant places within the story, such as Rarity's boutique. In some cases, Hasbro requested that the show include a setting, but allowed Faust and her team to create its visual style, and Hasbro then based the toy set on it; an example is the Ponyville schoolhouse. Faust also had to write to the E/I (educational and informational) standards that Hasbro required of the show, making the crafting of some of the situations she would have normally done on other animated shows more difficult; for example, Faust cited having one character call another an "egghead" as "treading a very delicate line", and having one character cheat in a competition as "worrisome to some". Each episode also generally includes a moral or life lesson, but these were chosen to "cross a broad spectrum of personal experiences", and not just to suit children. Because intellectual property issues had caused Hasbro to lose some of the rights on the original pony names, the show includes a mix of original characters from the toy line and new characters developed for the show.
Completed scripts were sent to Studio B for pre-production and animation using Macromedia Flash Professional 8. Thiessen's production team was also allowed to select key personnel subject to Hasbro's approval; one of those selected was art director Ridd Sorensen. The Studio B team storyboarded the provided scripts, incorporating any direction and sometimes managing to create scenes that the writers had believed impossible to show in animation. The animators then prepared the key character poses, layout, background art, and other main elements, and send these versions back to the production team in Los Angeles for review by Hasbro and suggestions from the writers. Thiessen credited much of the technical expertise in the show to Wooton, who created Flash programs to optimize the placement and posing of the pony characters and other elements, simplifying and economizing on the amount of work needed from the other animators. For example, the ponies' manes and tails are generally fixed shapes, animated by bending and stretching them in curves in three dimensions and giving them a sense of movement without the high cost of individual animated hairs. The storyboard artists and animators also need to fill in background characters for otherwise scripted scenes as to populate the world. According to writer Meghan McCarthy, many of the small nods to the fandom, pop culture references, or other easter eggs were added at this point by the studio. Once the pre-production work was approved and completed, the episode was then animated. Though Studio B performed the initial animation work, the final steps were passed to Top Draw Animation in the Philippines, an animation studio that Studio B had worked with in the later part of season one and beyond.
The voice casting and production is handled by Voicebox Productions, with Terry Klassen as the series' voice director. Faust, Thiessen, and others participated in selecting voice actors, and Hasbro gave final approval. The voice work is performed prior to the animation, with the animators in the room to help provide direction; according to Libman, this allows herself and the other actors to play the character without certain limitations. Libman noted that for recording her lines as the hyperactive Pinkie Pie, "I learned that I can go as over the top as I want and they [the animators] rarely pull me back."
The series' background music is composed by William Kevin Anderson, and Daniel Ingram composes the songs, which are only included if they make sense in the episode's script. The production team identifies specific parts of the episode where they want music cues, allowing Anderson to create appropriate music for each. Ingram works alongside Anderson's compositions to create vocal songs that mesh with the background music while filling out the show's fantasy setting. The composition of the music and songs far precedes the broadcast of the episode; for example, songs for the show's third season that began airing in November 2012 were composed in 2011. Ingram considered that songs from previous shows of My Little Pony were "a little bit dated" and decided to bring more interesting work to the Friendship Is Magic series. Such changes include making songs with more emotional depth than typical for children's animation, and tending to write songs that can be enjoyed musically outside of the context of the episode. Ingram's songs have "became bigger and more epic, more Broadway and more cinematic over time" with Hasbro blessing the effort to try "something groundbreaking for daytime television", according to Ingram. Lyrics and overall musical themes may be suggested by the writers; two examples include songs written by Amy Keating Rogers, who is a self-professed Stephen Sondheim fan. The song "The Art of the Dress" in the first-season episode "Suited for Success" is inspired by "Putting it Together" from the musical Sunday in the Park with George, while the season one finale's song, "At The Gala", is based on Sondheim's Into the Woods. A large musical number in the episode "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000" paid homage to the song "Ya Got Trouble" from Meredith Willson's musical, The Music Man.
Before the show was approved, Hasbro and Faust had planned for episodes to be 11 minutes long, to which Faust conformed in her first full-length script, "The Ticket Master", which was part of the pitch bible. However, Faust preferred more traditional 22-minute episodes, and Hasbro eventually agreed to this. The initial production stages were very tight, requiring a schedule twice as fast as Faust had previously experienced, and frequent remote communication between the Los Angeles writing offices and the animation studio in Vancouver. At times, the two teams held "writer's summits" to propose new ideas for characters and situations, at which the animation team provided suggestions on visuals, body language, and characterization. Faust estimates that the time to complete one episode was one year; at one point, the team was simultaneously working on various stages of all 26 episodes of the first season, and when the second season was approved, that number rose temporarily to 32. Episodes then aired about a month after completion. Thiessen explained that they had pushed to start work on the second season as soon as the first was completed, to prevent staff turnover.
After the airing of the first season's finale, Faust announced that she had left the show, and would be credited in the future as Consulting Producer. Her involvement in the second season consists mainly of story conception and scripts, and the involvement ceased after the second season. Despite leaving, she still has high hopes for the staff members, stating that "the gaps I have left are being filled by the same amazing artists, writers, and directors who brought you Season 1. I'm certain the show will be as entertaining as ever". In an interview with New York Magazine, Faust stated her reasons for leaving were a combination of a hectic production schedules and a lack of creative control she had with the series. According to her husband McCracken, Faust's departure was due to the fact that as a toy company-driven show, "there were things she wanted to do with that series that she just wasn't able to do", and that there is "still some frustration with" not being able to bring some of her ideas to screen.
Friendship Is Magic takes place in the land of Equestria, populated by varieties of ponies including variants of Pegasi and unicorns, along with other sentient and non-sentient creatures. The central character is Twilight Sparkle, a unicorn mare sent by her mentor Princess Celestia, ruler of Equestria, to the town of Ponyville to study the magic of friendship and report her findings. In the show's opening episode "Friendship Is Magic", Twilight resents this assignment, as she is more concerned about the foretold appearance of Nightmare Moon, the evil sister of Celestia. When Nightmare Moon appears in Celestia’s place, vowing everlasting night and causing Celestia to disappear, Twilight sets off with five other ponies – Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity – to obtain the Elements of Harmony and defeat Nightmare Moon. Before Twilight can activate the Elements, Nightmare Moon appears and shatters them. In a flash of inspiration, Twilight realizes that each of her new friends represents one of the Elements of Harmony (Honesty, Kindness, Laughter, Loyalty, and Generosity), and that she herself represents the final piece, Magic. The magical power of the ponies' friendship reverts Nightmare Moon to a repentant Princess Luna. Celestia reappears, reunites with her sister Princess Luna, and decrees that Twilight shall stay in Ponyville to continue studying the magic of friendship, much to the happiness of Twilight and her new friends.
Later episodes follow Twilight and her friends dealing with various problems around Ponyville, such as interpersonal problems between friends and family, as well as more adventurous stories involving creatures like dragons and griffons, and having to save Equestria from evil villains. At the end of each episode, Twilight sends a report back to Celestia explaining what she learned about friendship from these adventures. This part of the formula was abandoned in "Lesson Zero", the second-season episode in which Twilight is convinced to be less rigid in her perceived duties; after this, all the main characters contribute reports, although the formality is disregarded when appropriate. In the fourth season, with the request for reports no longer applicable, the six resolve to keep a collective personal journal in which they record their thoughts about life for posterity.
Another focus of the show is the Cutie Mark Crusaders, a trio of much younger mares consisting of Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo, who are obsessed with finding their "cutie marks", an iconic symbol that magically appears on a pony's flank once they have discovered their special talent in life. The show regularly features episodes centered on the Crusaders, who have yet to receive their cutie marks and are teased by other young ponies as "blank flanks". In response, they desperately hurry to try to discover their talents and receive their own cutie marks, often doing so in comical methods.
Although most of the episodes are designed to stand alone, the series features continuity and overall story arcs, with several key elements of the series changing; one such change is the evolution of Twilight herself, who spends the first three seasons learning about friendship and is subsequently granted wings by Celestia to become an alicorn and a princess in the season 3 finale "Magical Mystery Cure". In the season 4 finale "Twilight's Kingdom", she discovers that she is the Princess of Friendship and starts living in a magic castle after the destruction of her library home by the villain Lord Tirek. Other crucial events impacting the series are the Cutie Mark Crusaders finally obtaining their cutie marks in the season 5 episode "Crusaders of the Lost Mark"; the same season's introduction of Starlight Glimmer, a villain who redeems herself and becomes Twilight's pupil in the season finale "The Cutie Re-Mark"; and Rainbow Dash fulfilling her lifelong dream of joining the elite Wonderbolts flight team in the season 6 episode "Newbie Dash".
Each season typically has a theme and overall story arc: a theme throughout the first season, for example, is ponies' preparation for the Grand Galloping Gala that occurs in the final episode of that season. In season 4, the Mane Six must find six keys to a mysterious box revealed after they relinquish the Elements of Harmony to their original source, the Tree of Harmony, to save Equestria; in the season finale, it is revealed that they had already obtained the keys, in the form of gifts they received during the season from people they helped. Season 8 centers around the Mane Six establishing the "School of Friendship" for ponies and other creatures of Equestria to learn about friendship, with six particular students referred to as the "Young Six" being focused on throughout the season. The last season (season 9) centers around Twilight preparing to be Equestria's next ruler after Celestia and Luna's retirement, and the return of the ancient villain Grogar, who has assembled a team of past foes to defeat Twilight and her friends and take over Equestria.
Cast and characters
The show revolves around the adventures and daily life of the unicorn pony Twilight Sparkle (voiced by Tara Strong), her baby dragon assistant Spike (Cathy Weseluck), and her friends in Ponyville, colloquially referred to as the "Mane Six":
- Rainbow Dash (Ashleigh Ball), a tomboyish pegasus pony who helps control the weather, and aspires to be a part of Equestria's famous flying team, the Wonderbolts;
- Rarity (Tabitha St. Germain), a glamorous unicorn pony with a flair for fashion design;
- Fluttershy (Andrea Libman), a shy and timid pegasus pony who is fond of nature and takes care of animals;
- Pinkie Pie (Libman), a hyperactive pony who loves throwing parties;
- Applejack (Ball), a hard-working pony who works on her family's apple farm.
Other characters include the Cutie Mark Crusaders, consisting of Applejack's younger sister Apple Bloom (Michelle Creber), Rarity's younger sister Sweetie Belle (Claire Corlett), and Scootaloo (Madeleine Peters). The two alicorns ruling over Equestria, Twilight's mentor Princess Celestia (Nicole Oliver), and the younger Princess Luna (St. Germain), also appear regularly; another alicorn, Princess Cadance (Britt McKillip), is introduced in the season two finale "A Canterlot Wedding" and oversees the northern Crystal Empire alongside her husband Shining Armor (Andrew Francis), a unicorn who is also Twilight's older brother. The season five premiere "The Cutie Map" introduces Starlight Glimmer (Kelly Sheridan), an antagonist who subsequently becomes Twilight's pupil in the season finale, "The Cutie Re-Mark".
Many friends, family members, and other residents of Ponyville appear frequently, including Applejack's older brother Big McIntosh (Peter New) and grandmother Granny Smith (St. Germain); the Crusaders' teacher Cheerilee (Oliver) and nemeses Diamond Tiara (Chantal Strand) and Silver Spoon (Shannon Chan-Kent); the town's mayor, Mayor Mare (Weseluck); and the muscular pegasus Bulk Biceps (Michael Dobson). Notable characters outside of Ponyville include the self-proclaimed "great and powerful" traveling magician Trixie (Kathleen Barr); the eccentric zebra Zecora (Brenda Crichlow), who lives in the nearby Everfree Forest and dabbles in herbal medicine; the Wonderbolts Spitfire (Kelly Metzger) and Soarin (Matt Hill); and Pinkie Pie's older sister Maud (Ingrid Nilson), who rarely expresses emotion and is obsessed with rocks. The Mane Six also face several antagonists; one of them, the chimera-like trickster Discord (John de Lancie), is introduced in the season two premiere "The Return of Harmony" and subsequently becomes a recurring character of the show.
The show also features an extensive cast of over 200 minor background characters. Several of these background ponies became fan favorites, leading to them having their roles expanded; the show's one-hundredth episode "Slice of Life" focuses almost entirely on some the most popular of them.
Many creatures and races exist besides the ponies, including griffons, dragons, and changelings. These creatures live far away from the ponies, and need to be taught the meaning of friendship.
In total, 222 episodes have been produced and broadcast.
|First aired||Last aired||Network|
|1||26||October 10, 2010||May 6, 2011||The Hub/Hub Network|
|2||26||September 17, 2011||April 21, 2012|
|3||13||November 10, 2012||February 16, 2013|
|4||26||November 23, 2013||May 10, 2014|
|5||26||April 4, 2015||November 28, 2015||Discovery Family|
|6||26||March 26, 2016||October 22, 2016|
|7||26||April 15, 2017||October 28, 2017|
|Film||October 6, 2017||N/A|
|8||26||March 24, 2018||October 13, 2018||Discovery Family|
|Holiday Special||October 27, 2018|
|9||26||April 6, 2019||October 12, 2019|
|Special||June 29, 2019|
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was one of several animated shows used to premiere The Hub, a retooling of the Discovery Kids channel of Discovery Communications in United States markets. The block of programming is a joint development of Hasbro and Discovery, designed to compete with similar family-friendly programming blocks on other networks such as the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. The first episode of Friendship Is Magic premiered on the first Hub broadcast, on October 10, 2010. In March 2011, the show was renewed for a second season to air in 2011–12. The season two premiere on September 17, 2011, had 339,000 viewers, and Hasbro reported that the second-season finale, "A Canterlot Wedding", produced the best ratings of the history of the network in its core and other demographics, with an estimated 1,032,400 viewers.
The series is rated TV-Y and targeted at girls 4–7 years old. The first season was produced and broadcast to "E/I" ("educational and informational") standards, but Hasbro allowed the standard to be dropped in the second season.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has been distributed to international markets, including Treehouse TV for the English-speaking audience in Canada, Boomerang in the United Kingdom until 2012 and on Tiny Pop and Pop, two British free-to-air children's television channels owned and operated by Sony Pictures Television, from September 2013, Okto in Singapore, Cartoon Network and later Boomerang with Eleven airing repeats in Australia and TV2 in New Zealand, ntv7 and Astro Ceria in Malaysia, e-Junior in the United Arab Emirates, Tooniverse in South Korea, and TV Tokyo (seasons 1–2) in Japan. Some of these international broadcasts, including language translations, were arranged with Turner Broadcasting System, which had broadcast Friendship Is Magic and other Hasbro shows on many of their European and Middle Eastern channels. The Japanese broadcast of the show has two audio tracks: the original English-language audio track (available via SAP) and a Japanese-language audio track. According to Hasbro Studio's CEO Stephen Davis, they have marketed the show to over 180 territories around the world.
In the United States, episodes of Friendship Is Magic are available for digital download through the iTunes Store. Along with several other Hasbro properties, the show's episodes were added to the Netflix video streaming service on April 1, 2012. A two-episode DVD, "Celebration at Canterlot", was offered to Target stores as an exclusive, packaged with certain toys from the franchise.
The first six seasons of the series have been released in complete DVD box sets. United Kingdom-based Clear Vision has the publishing rights for the first two seasons throughout Region 2, including most of Western Europe and the Middle East; however, the company abruptly entered administration in December 2013, and has managed to only release three My Little Pony DVD volume sets as of April 2014 by August 2014. Another Region 2 distributor known as Primal Screen had since taken over the license from Clear Vision. Madman Entertainment has the license for publishing the series via DVDs and digital downloads in Region 4  but since Season 4, Beyond Home Entertainment took over the license.
|Title||Region 1 Release Date||Episodes||Additional Features|
|The Friendship Express||February 28, 2012||
|Royal Pony Wedding||August 7, 2012||
|Adventures in the Crystal Empire||December 4, 2012||
|Season 1 DVD set||December 4, 2012||All Season 1 episodes||
|Pinkie Pie Party||January 29, 2013||
|Princess Twilight Sparkle||April 30, 2013||
|Season 2 DVD set||May 14, 2013||All Season 2 episodes||
|A Pony for Every Season||November 19, 2013||
|Season 3 DVD set||February 4, 2014||All Season 3 episodes||
|A Dash of Awesome||March 25, 2014||
|The Keys of Friendship||July 29, 2014||
|Spooktacular Pony Tales||September 9, 2014||
|Season 4 DVD set||December 2, 2014||All Season 4 episodes||
|Adventures of the Cutie Mark Crusaders||February 24, 2015||Sing-alongs|
|Cutie Mark Quests||June 30, 2015||Sing-along|
|Games Ponies Play||September 29, 2015||
|Friends Across Equestria||March 1, 2016||
|Friends and Family||June 7, 2016||
|Season 5 DVD set||July 12, 2016||All Season 5 episodes||
|Soarin' Over Equestria||August 2, 2016||
|Everypony's Favorite Frights||August 30, 2016||
|Exploring the Crystal Empire||February 7, 2017||
|Twilight and Starlight||May 30, 2017||
|Fluttershy||September 12, 2017||
|Holiday Hearts||October 3, 2017||
|Season 6 DVD set||November 7, 2017||All Season 6 episodes||
|Applejack||May 8, 2018||
|Rarity||July 17, 2018||
|Pony Trick or Treat||September 4, 2018||
|Season 7 DVD set||October 9, 2018||All Season 7 episodes||
|Hearts and Hooves||January 1, 2019||
Merchandise and other media
Friendship Is Magic is associated with the 2010 relaunch of My Little Pony toy line, having figurines and playsets based on it. A section of the Hasbro website gives information about Friendship Is Magic for children and their parents, including character backgrounds, videos, and interactive games and media. Due in part to the older fans, Hasbro has come to see My Little Pony as a "lifestyle" brand, with over 200 licenses in 15 categories of products, including clothing, houseware, and digital media. The brand grossed over US$650 million in retail sales in 2013, and one billion USD annually in retail sales in 2014 and 2015.
Hasbro had seen from the brony fandom for the show that some of the art the fans had produced were humanized versions of the show's characters. They took inspiration from that to develop the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls spin-off series of movies and shorts that ran alongside the Friendship Is Magic show for several years.
In early 2019, Hasbro Studios released five tie-in animated shorts on their YouTube channel. In June 2019, it was announced that a musical adaptation was in the works. A collaboration between Hasbro and Mills Entertainment, it will feature an original story while retaining the core aspects of friendship. It is slated for a March 2020 launch in North America.
My Little Pony: The Movie, a theatrical animated film adaptation of the television series, was released on October 6, 2017 in the United States, distributed by Lionsgate. The film is directed by series supervising director Jayson Thiessen and written by showrunner Meghan McCarthy, and is financed by Hasbro Studios' film subdivision, Allspark Pictures.
Hasbro and Discovery Family announced a subsequent animated series, My Little Pony: Pony Life to first premiere in 2020. The new series is based on the same characters, with the same voice actors returning, but feature a new animation style and focus on more slice of life stories.
The series has received positive reviews from critics. Emily VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club favorably noted its "sheer and utter joyfulness" and lack of cynicism, unlike many other shows that garnered a cult following of parents and adults. She complimented the characters' stylized appearance, the stories' relative complexity for children's television, and the solid jokes which make the show enjoyable for parents as well as children. She gave the series a B+. The show has been critically praised for its humor and moral outlook by Brian Truitt of USA Today. Genevieve Koski of The A.V. Club later commented that Friendship Is Magic is an example of a show that, while considered "girly", has been able to tap into the nerd culture to allow it to gain wider acceptance than other comparable forms. Emily Ashby of Common Sense Media, an organization focusing on the parenting aspect of children's media, gave the show a rating of four out of five stars, emphasizing its messages of friendship, tolerance and respect, but advised parents to be wary of the "influence the characters might have on their kids' desires, since it's rooted in a well-known product line of books, toys, and just about everything in between." Liz Ohanesian, for L.A. Weekly, said that the show is "absolutely genuine in its messages about friendship but never takes itself too seriously". Matt Morgan, writing for Wired's "GeekDad" column, praised the show for having "rebooted the long-time Hasbro property while managing to lace it with geeky undertones" and being one of the few "girl-focused shows that a geeky dad can appreciate with his daughter". Los Angeles Times critic Robert Lloyd called the show "smarter and sassier and more aesthetically sophisticated" than any of the previous My Little Pony cartoons, and praised its ability to appeal to both children and their parents, in that it is "smart and sprightly and well-staged, and never horribly cute". TV Guide listed Friendship Is Magic as one of the top sixty animated shows of all time in a September 2013 list. Other praise for the show included its style, stories, characterisation and discussion of feminism.
Kathleen Richter of Ms. believed that Friendship Is Magic did little to change the nature of older animations for girls, which she considered "so sexist and racist and heteronormative." For example, she suggested that, through the character of Rainbow Dash, the show was promoting the stereotype that "all feminists are angry, tomboyish lesbians." She also considered that the only darker-colored ponies shown to date were in positions of servitude towards the "white pony overlord." Lauren Faust responded to these claims by stating that while Rainbow Dash was a tomboy, "nowhere in the show is her sexual orientation ever referenced" and "assuming [tomboys] are lesbians is extremely unfair to both straight and lesbian tomboys", and further stating that "Color has never, ever been depicted as a race indicator for the ponies." Amid Amidi, writing for the animation website Cartoon Brew, was more critical of the concept of the show, calling it a sign of "the end of the creator-driven era in TV animation". Amidi's essay expressed concern that assigning a talent like Faust to a toy-centric show was part of a trend towards a focus on profitable genres of animation, such as toy tie-ins, to deal with a fragmented viewing audience, and overall "an admission of defeat for the entire movement, a white flag-waving moment for the TV animation industry."
Friendship Is Magic originally premiered with an average viewership of 1.4 million per month, but expanded to 4 million per month by the end of the first season, making it the highest-rated of any Hasbro offering at the time. Advertising Age reports that the viewership doubled between the first and the second season. The Hub Network reported that "Hearts and Hooves Day", an episode on the theme of Valentine's Day, which aired on February 11, 2012, in the middle of the second season, was the show's most-viewed episode ever, and the second highest of any program of the Hub network; its viewership exceeded 150% of that of the previous year. This was surpassed by the two-part season two finale, "A Canterlot Wedding", airing in April 2012, marking the broadcast as the highest viewership for the Hub Network to that date.
Awards and nominations
Friendship Is Magic was nominated for three British Columbia Leo Awards for Animation, "Best Program", "Best Direction", and "Best Overall Sound". Additionally, the songs "Becoming Popular (The Pony Everypony Should Know)" (from season 2 episode 9, "Sweet and Elite") and "Find A Pet Song" (from season 2 episode 7, "May the Best Pet Win!"), both written by Daniel Ingram, were nominated, but did not win, for "Outstanding Original Song—Children's and Animation" at the 39th Daytime Emmy Awards. Marcel Duperreault, Todd Araki, Jason Fredrickson, and Adam McGhie received a 2014 Leo Award for their work on "Power Ponies" for "Best Overall Sound in an Animation Program or Series" on June 1, 2014.
|2012||Behind the Voice Actors Awards||Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Television Series||Andrea Libman (as Pinkie Pie)||Nominated|
|Best Vocal Performance by a Child||Claire Corlett (as Sweetie Belle)||Nominated|
|Michelle Creber (as Apple Bloom)||Nominated|
|Best Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role||John de Lancie (as Discord)||Nominated|
|People's Choice: Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Television Series||Andrea Libman (as Pinkie Pie)||Won|
|People's Choice: Best Vocal Performance by a Child||Michelle Creber (as Apple Bloom)||Won|
|People's Choice: Best Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role||John de Lancie (as Discord)||Won|
|Daytime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Original Song – Children's and Animation||Daniel Ingram - "Becoming Popular (The Pony Everypony Should Know)"||Nominated|
|Daniel Ingram - "Find a Pet Song"||Nominated|
|Leo Awards||Best Animation Program or Series||Jayson Thiessen, James Wootton, Sarah Wall, Chris Bartleman, Blair Peters, and Kirsten Newlands||Nominated|
|Best Direction in an Animation Program or Series||Jayson Thiessen, James Wootton||Nominated|
|Best Overall Sound in an Animation Program or Series||Marcel Duperreault, Todd Araki, Jason Frederickson, Adam McGhie||Nominated|
|2013||Behind the Voice Actors Awards||Best Vocal Ensemble in a Television Series – Children's/Educational||Ashleigh Ball, Tabitha St. Germain, Tara Strong, Andrea Libman, Cathy Weseluck, Nicole Oliver, Michelle Creber, Madeleine Peters, Claire Corlett, and Peter New||Nominated|
|Best Female Vocal Performance by a Child||Claire Corlett (as Sweetie Belle)||Nominated|
|Best Male Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role||Scott McNeil (as Flam)||Nominated|
|Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role||Britt McKillip (as Princess Cadance)||Nominated|
|People's Choice: Best Vocal Ensemble in a Television Series – Children's/Educational||Ashleigh Ball, Tabitha St. Germain, Tara Strong, Andrea Libman, Cathy Weseluck, Nicole Oliver, Michelle Creber, Madeleine Peters, Claire Corlett, and Peter New||Won|
|People's Choice: Best Female Vocal Performance by a Child||Claire Corlett (as Sweetie Belle)||Won|
|People's Choice: Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role||Britt McKillip (as Princess Cadance)||Won|
|Leo Awards||Best Musical Score in an Animation Program or Series||Daniel Ingram, Steffan Andrews (for the episode "Magical Mystery Cure")||Won|
|Best Overall Sound in an Animation Program or Series||Marcel Duperreault, Todd Araki, Jason Frederickson, Adam McGhie (for the episode "Sleepless in Ponyville")||Nominated|
|2014||Behind the Voice Actors Awards||Best Vocal Ensemble in a Television Series – Children's/Educational||Ashleigh Ball, Tabitha St. Germain, Tara Strong, Andrea Libman, Cathy Weseluck, Nicole Oliver, Michelle Creber, Madeleine Peters, Claire Corlett, and Peter New||Nominated|
|Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role||Ellen Kennedy (as Mane-iac)||Nominated|
|People's Choice: Best Vocal Ensemble in a Television Series – Children's/Educational||Won|
|People's Choice:Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role||Ellen Kennedy (as Mane-iac)||Won|
|Joey Awards||Young Actress Age 10-19 in a Voice Over Role||Michelle Creber (as Apple Bloom)||Won|
|Leo Awards||Best Musical Score in an Animation Program or Series||Daniel Ingram, Steffan Andrews (for the episode "Pinkie Pride")||Nominated|
|Best Overall Sound in an Animation Program or Series||Marcel Duperreault, Todd Araki, Jason Frederickson, Adam McGhie||Won|
|Shorty Awards||Best TV Show||My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic||Nominated|
|2015||Behind the Voice Actors Awards||Best Vocal Ensemble in a Television Series – Comedy/Musical||Ashleigh Ball, Andrea Libman, Tabitha St. Germain, Tara Strong, Cathy Weseluck||Nominated|
|Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Television Series – Comedy/Musical||Andrea Libman (as Pinkie Pie)||Nominated|
|Tabitha St. Germain (as Rarity)||Nominated|
|Best Male Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Supporting Role – Comedy/Musical||John de Lancie (as Discord)||Nominated|
|Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Supporting Role – Comedy/Musical||Cathy Weseluck (as Spike)||Nominated|
|Best Male Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role – Comedy/Musical||"Weird Al" Yankovic (as Cheese Sandwich)||Nominated|
|People's Choice: Best Vocal Ensemble in a Television Series – Comedy/Musical||Ashleigh Ball, Andrea Libman, Tabitha St. Germain, Tara Strong, Cathy Weseluck||Won|
|People's Choice: Best Male Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Supporting Role – Comedy/Musical||John de Lancie (as Discord)||Won|
|People's Choice: Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Supporting Role – Comedy/Musical||Cathy Weseluck (as Spike)||Won|
|People's Choice: Best Male Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role – Comedy/Musical||"Weird Al" Yankovic (as Cheese Sandwich)||Won|
|The Joey Awards||Best Female Voiceover Performance (age 12–17)||Michelle Creber (as Apple Bloom)||Won|
|2016||Behind the Voice Actors Awards||Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role||Kazumi Evans (as Moondancer)||Nominated|
|Daytime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Original Song||Daniel Ingram and Amy Keating Rogers (for the song "The Magic Inside")||Nominated|
|Hugo Awards||Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form||"The Cutie Map" - Jayson Thiessen and Jim Miller (directors), Scott Sonneborn, M.A. Larson, and Meghan McCarthy (writers)||Nominated|
|Leo Awards||Best Musical Score in an Animation Program or Series||Daniel Ingram (for the episode "Crusaders of the Lost Mark")||Won|
|Best Sound in an Animation Program or Series||Marcel Duperreault, Todd Araki, Jason Fredrickson, Kirk Furniss, Adam McGhie, Christine Church, Roger Monk (for the episode "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?")||Won|
|Best Performance in an Animation Program or Series||Ashleigh Ball for "Tanks for the Memories" (as Rainbow Dash and Applejack)||Nominated|
|Young Artist Awards||Best Performance in a Voice-Over Role – Young Actor (12 – 21)||Graham Verchere (as Pipsqueak)||Won|
|Young Entertainer Awards||Best Young Actor Voice Over Role 13–21||Nominated|
|2017||Leo Awards||Best Musical Score in an Animation Program or Series||Daniel Ingram (for the episode "A Hearth's Warming Tail")||Nominated|
|Best Sound in an Animation Program or Series||Todd Araki, Christine Church, Marcel Duperreault, Jason Fredrickson, Adam McGhie, and Roger Monk (for the episode "28 Pranks Later")||Won|
|Behind the Voice Actors Awards||Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Supporting Role||Kelly Sheridan for "A Hearth's Warming Tail" (as Starlight Glimmer)||Nominated|
|Best Female Vocal Performance in a TV Special/Direct-to-DVD Title or Short||Rebecca Shoichet for My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Legend of Everfree (as Sunset Shimmer)||Won[nb 4]|
|UBCP/ACTRA Awards||Best Voice||Andrea Libman for "Rock Solid Friendship" (as Pinkie Pie)||Nominated|
|Best Voice||Nicole Oliver for "A Royal Problem" (as Princess Celestia / Daybreaker)||Nominated|
|Best Voice||Vincent Tong for "Hard to Say Anything" (as Feather Bangs)||Nominated|
|2018||Leo Awards||Best Sound in an Animation Program or Series||Todd Araki, Christine Church, Marcel Duperreault, Jason Fredrickson, Kirk Furniss, Adam McGhie, and Roger Monk (for the episode "Shadow Play - Part 2")||Nominated|
|Best Voice Performance in an Animation Program or Series||Vincent Tong (as Feather Bangs, for the episode "Hard to Say Anything")||Nominated|
|2019||Leo Awards||Best Voice Performance in an Animation Program or Series||Ashleigh Ball (as Rainbow Dash, for the episode "Non-Compete Clause")||Nominated|
|UBCP/ACTRA Awards||Best Voice||Sunni Westbrook for "Frenemies" (as Cozy Glow)||Nominated|
Despite Hasbro's target demographic of young girls and their parents, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has become a cultural and Internet phenomenon, with many male fans between 13 and 35. The response from the Internet has been traced to cartoon and animation fans on the Internet board 4chan, responding to Amidi's negative essay regarding the show and current trends in animation. As a result of the discussion on 4chan, interest in the show spread throughout other parts of the Internet, creating a large fanbase and a multitude of creative works, fan sites, and conventions. The fanbase has adopted the name "brony" (a portmanteau of "bro" and "pony") to describe themselves. The older fanbase had come as a surprise to Hasbro and staff members involved with the show. They have appreciated and embraced the fandom, adding nods to the fans within the show and the toys, while, early on, allowing the creative elements of the fandom to flourish without legal interference.
The fandom was a meme upon the show's release, but its popularity across the internet gradually faded, despite the show's continuation.
Director Adam McKay was inspired by the visuals of Friendship Is Magic, which his daughters had watched frequently, in creating a short for Morgan Spurlock's 2014 educational/documentary web series, "We the Economy", using cartoon alpacas in the same style as the show to explain about income inequality.
In early 2016, Hasbro was sued by Font Brothers over Hasbro's use of the font "Generation B" for much of its product packaging and marketing with the Friendship Is Magic show and toyline, including the "Friendship Is Magic" text in the show's logo. Font Brothers claim that Hasbro has been using this font in an unlicensed manner and is seeking up to $150,000 for each violation of its use.
Dialogue from a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode was brought up during the 2016 Republican National Convention by then-RNC chief strategist (and future White House Press Secretary) Sean Spicer to defend Melania Trump against accusations of plagiarism.
A spin-off series titled My Little Pony: Pony Life was announced on November 13, 2019. It will air on Discovery Family sometime in 2020 with new toys to go along with the show. Tara Strong, Ashleigh Ball, Tabitha St. Germain, Andrea Libman and Cathy Weseluck are all returning to reprise their respective roles from Friendship is Magic.
- Main composer for the episodes "Magical Mystery Cure" in season 3, "Pinkie Pride" in Season 4, "Crusaders of the Lost Mark" in Season 5, and "A Hearth's Warming Tail" in Season 6.
- Main composer for the episode "A Hearth's Warming Tail" in Season 6 and provided additional music for the episode "Crusaders of the Lost Mark" in Season 5.
- Steffan Andrews was the main composer for the episodes, "Magical Mystery Cure" in Season 3 and "Pinkie Pride" in Season 4.
- Won via People's Choice as chosen by the BTVA community.
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