“My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” is not only an excellent childrens program, but also a respectable show. I have stated this in the past, but it bears repeating.
I was initially hesitant to watch a show about brightly colored ponies and their adventures in friendship, especially since that is something aimed for little girls. One thing that got my attention quickly was how the creators of the show treated their audience with respect and kindness. Never once does the show attempt to talk down to its audience or force its messages and morals down the audiences throat.
That aspect caught my curiosity, but what caught my attention was how well-crafted the show was. Each episode had stellar voice-acting, animation that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, writing that made the stories compelling and worth watching and morals that can be used in real life and aren’t rehashed from other television shows.
I believe that “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” is a perfect children show that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. While the show knows who the target audience is, that doesn’t stop it from aiming jokes, stories and even entire characters at a more mature audience.
With 83 episodes to watch at this time, there is a fair share of impressive episodes. Which is why I’ve decided to do a top ten of the best episodes of “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.” These are the episodes that I feel best represent the show and what it is capable of. Whether they are making you laugh, making you think or making you smile, these are just a sample of what the show is capable of.
Ten: “Power Ponies” (Season 4, Episode 6)
One of MLP’s favorite things to do is to put in little references, but never draw attention to them. Just letting the fans figure them out on their own.
For example, one of the reoccurring characters is a pony with an hourglass cutie mark (the little tramp stamps on all the ponies) and has appeared different times in the show as a Pegasus (winged horse) and a regular earth pony. His name is Doctor Whooves. Another is at the end of an episode that will be featured on this list, that is quite similar to the medal ceremony at the end of the first “Star Wars.” Even simple references, like “Chocolate Rain.”
Well, this episode is full of those kinds of references, without even needing to know them to enjoy the episode. Our main characters get sucked into a comic book and become the title characters, the Power Ponies, each with their own unique super power that in turn is a reference to another superhero.
Rarity gets the power of creating energy constructs with her mind (a reference to Green Lanturn) but mostly uses them for fashion and glamor purposes. Pinkie Pie can run at super sonic speeds (hey there Flash, nice to see ya) but she uses them to dash down the street to cupcake store before anyone even notices.
However, the best one of all is Fluttershy, the quiet and kind one who would never hurt a fly...getting the powers of the Hulk. When she gets angry, she turns into a gigantic rage monster. Of course, it takes her a while to finally get mad but when she does it is hilarious. This episode makes the list almost solely on Fluttershy hulking out and being the funniest moment in any episode. To watch her meek and happy spirit disappear and to see the anger set in is wonderful to watch.
Nine: “Dragonshy” (Season 1, Episode 7)
One of the most common questions amongst fans of the show is who the best pony is. For the most part, it seems to be split equally between all six main characters, with each one having a good argument for why they are better than the others.
My pick for the best would be Fluttershy, not because she is the funniest or most dedicated, but because she only wishes to help others. She represents the spirit of kindness. Forgiving, respectful, courteous, selfless, understanding and would do anything to make her friends feel better. She sees all life as equal, from the tiniest insects to the massive dragons.
The moment I realized this was an admirable trait was in this particular episode, where a dragon has decided to rest near the town of our main characters, Ponyville, and threatens to cover all of their land in a dark cloud of smoke and smog. It is up to our heroes to climb the mountain and get the dragon to leave, by whatever means necessary.
Most of the episode is the journey up the mountain, with Fluttershy not wanting to tag along because of her fear of dragons and constantly slowing down the group. Since this is early in the shows run, the group isn’t fully developed yet and characters like Rainbow Dash and Rarity don’t believe in Fluttershy and wish she wasn’t coming along.
Once they finally get to the dragon and attempt to get him to leave, their plans fall apart and they are nearly demolished by this beast. It isn’t until Fluttershy steps up and asserts herself against the dragon for hurting her friends. In the process, she makes the dragon cry.
“Dragonshy” is exciting, well-paced, gives us a greater sense of this world and is a wonderful piece at building up the character of Fluttershy. That beyond her shy exterior lies someone who will do whatever it takes to protect what she loves.
Eight: “Too Many Pinkie Pies” (Season 3, Episode 3)
Ah, Pinkie Pie. Always willing to do anything for a laugh or to brighten someone’s day, even if that means breaking the fourth wall. She only has one setting: Over the top craziness.
Which is why one Pinkie Pie is enough. When she discovers a magical mirror pool that creates copies of herself, suddenly the town is overrun with an army of fun-loving destroyers.
This one makes the list because of how consistently funny it is, whether casting spells that turn frogs into oranges, a newly copied Pinkie Pie learning how to pronounce her friends names or the final sequence where every copy is forced to watch paint dry to find out who the real one is.
It is also a nice change of pace for Pinkie Pie, as having multiple copies surrounding her causes a crisis within her and makes her think what exactly makes her stand out. That she isn’t just the loud, crazy and happy-obsessed pony but the thoughtful and caring one who only wishes to make others lives a little bit brighter.
Seven: “Lesson Zero” (Season 2, Episode 3)
I find that the main character of the show, Twilight Sparkle, is often at her funniest when she embraces the madness. She is the most restrained and calm-minded of the characters, always with everything in order and has a plan for all occasions. To her, life is one giant test that you must be prepared for or else you will fail.
When things do go wrong, Twilight goes absolutely insane. Even if the tiniest thing is out of place and there is a chance she could look bad because of it, she will lose. This episode is the best example of that, as Twilight must always send a weekly report to her mentor, the ruler of this land, Princess Celestia. When she finds out that a week has gone by and she has not learned anything new, she goes crazy and tries to force others to learn anything.
This includes going to see all her friends and making conflicts happen, as well as forcing everyone in town to love her stuffed animal by means of a spell.
In a way, Twilight’s logic makes sense. She believes if she does not do everything Celestia tells her to do, then it will make both of them look bad, and Celestia could use her godlike powers to do anything to Twilight as punishment, including sending her back to the lowest level of schooling. Failure is never an option with her, so to she her attempt this is what makes this episode so powerful.
Six: “The Ticket Master” (Season 1, Episode 3)
If I were to get someone interested in this show three episodes to start on, it would be the initial two-parter that opens up the show and this episode. The first two episodes are great at establishing the world of Equestria and how it operates and sets the ground work for how the show will progress.
The following episode, “The Ticket Master,” is wonderful at telling us how each of our main characters will work, their differences, strengths, weaknesses and why we should care about them.
Celestia sends Twilight two invitations to the biggest pony event of the year, the Grand Galloping Gala. The problem is each of Twilight’s five friends has a good reason for why they want to go, and Twilight only has two tickets.
This episode could easily become formulaic but never becomes cliche or predictable. The reasons for why each one wants to go is admirable and true to their character, and Twilight never shows any signs of picking favorites. She sees them all as equals and would love to give them all the tickets, but can’t.
There is of course attempts from the other characters at bribing Twilight, but each attempt feels genuine in helping out Twilight, not just some attempt to win the ticket. They may care about going to the Gala, but they care about Twilight more.
A great introduction to the show and one of the most well-written episodes of the shows run.
Five: “The Return Of Harmony” (Season 2, Episodes 1 & 2)
One of the biggest pieces of lore with MLP, is that each of the six main characters is a piece of an unbelievable source of power, known as the Elements Of Harmony. Each character represents a different admirable virtue, such as loyalty, generosity, kindness and honesty.
In the two-parter to open up the second season, these virtues are tested when a thousand-year old threat returns, Discord, the spirit of disharmony and unhappiness. An omnipotent creature whose only wish in life is to create chaos and corrupt the innocent. He is the most effective villain in the shows run for a couple reasons, one is that instead of just using his powers to do whatever he wants, he instead gets the head of his victims and makes them think terrible thoughts. He makes them realize their weaknesses and lets them draw their own conclusions.
The other reason is who voices Discord, John de Lancie. You may not recognize the name, but you will remember his voice and personality. De Lancie played Q on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” an omnipotent creature who is supposed to watch over the universe but had grown bored and decided to just start messing with whoever he encounters.
According to the shows creator, Lauren Faust (who also created “Powerpuff Girls” and “Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends”), Discord is one gigantic reference to Q, topped off with the actor who played Q now voicing the spirit of chaos. Beyond that, he is the perfect rival to our main characters. He loves what he does, even if that means corrupting others and making the elements of generosity, honesty and kindness into elements of greed, lying and cruelness. He could use his powers to do whatever he wants, but what would be the fun in making sense?
Four: “Bats!” (Season 4, Episode 7)
I believe this is the most well-written episode of the show thus far. Every character is at their best here, where a horde of vampire fruit bats have attacked Applejack’s home and threaten to suck all of her apples dry. She and the other main characters see them as nothing but monsters who need to be dealt with, except for Fluttershy who feels they are simply misunderstood and that this can be dealt with peacefully.
The conflict is not forced by any means and comes naturally from within the characters. Something I wish the show did a bit more often was make the conflicts of certain episodes revolve around different viewpoints of our main characters. That way it feels akin to a family feud, with each one having a valid point but too stubborn to see the other side.
This is also one of the most atmospheric episodes. It takes its time, especially at night when our heroes are hunting down whatever it is that continues to eat the apples, even after they’ve dealt with the bats. It all leads up to one of the coolest designs for a character in the show and something that I hope returns someday.
This is everything that I love about the show all in one package. Excellent writing, beautiful animation, comedy that hits all the right notes and a conflict that never gets old.
Three: “Magic Duel” (Season 3, Episode 5)
Twilight’s character took an interesting course in season three that saw many shades and development. We saw her look beyond her view that life is a test and that self sacrifice is sometimes the only way, that there is room for change in every creature and her ultimate change that leads her to become an important figure in Equestria.
Before that, she had to face the challenges of her past. An old foe, “The Great and Powerful” Trixie, whom Twilight forced out of town in a previous episode, has returned with one of the most powerful magical amulets in the world and challenges Twilight to a magic duel, with the loser leaving Ponyville forever.
If this episode shows anything it is Twilight’s role in Ponyville and why she earned it. The moment Trixie shows up, the others call on Twilight. She is the only one they trust when the situation looks grim. You’d think this would go to her head, but she embraces it and does her best to stop the threat. She is quick thinking and resourceful, but also willing to admit her mistakes, especially with Trixie.
Outside of that, this is one that either had me laughing or impressed by just how much magic can accomplish in this world. It can take many forms and have different meanings, but the fantasy elements are some of the more awe-inspiring parts of the show.
Two: “The Cutie-Mark Chronicles” (Season 1, Episode 23)
One of my favorite elements of the show is how cutie marks are used. In this world, a cutie mark will appear on a pony when they have found what they wish to do with their lives. Their mark is a representation of their dreams and goals in life. It is a sign of growing up and realizing what exactly is in important to that particular pony.
This episode is fairly straight forward: It explains how each of the six main characters got their cutie marks. It also has an interesting vehicle, as each of these stories is being told to the other three main characters, the Cutie-Mark Crusaders, little fillies who don’t have their marks yet and go on adventures in an attempt to find their calling. They feel that if they can learn from their elders, it will better prepare them for future adventures.
The real drive of the episode is the back story for each of the main characters. Each one is unique and stays true to their roots. The most interesting one is Pinkie Pie’s, as she grew up on a rock farm where she wasn’t allowed to smile or play. After she saw a giant rainbow that made her light up, she realized that she wanted to share this happiness with everyone else so that they don’t experience the same sadness she had to endure.
This one is fun from start to finish. Great pacing, touching and still finds a way to have a good moral even if it is mostly back story.
One: “Sonic Rainboom” (Season 1, Episode 16)
This is the episode where I fell in love with this show. Every character gets a chance to shine here, whether through comedy, drama or just being themselves. There is never a dull moment and every scene lasts just long enough to get the point across without overstaying its welcome.
The episode follows Rainbow Dash as she competes in a flying competition in an attempt to impress her idols, the Wonderbolts, the best flyers in Equestria. Naturally, she is nervous about competing and wants her friends to be there for her. Unfortunately, this is happening in the Pegasus City of Clousdale and only Pegasus can stand on clouds. Thanks to some spells by Twilight, Rarity magically grows butterfly wings and becomes so enamored by their beauty that she competes as well.
Like “Bats!” this one is incredibly well-written, with the conflict arising naturally from within the characters flaws, without changing elements and values just to suit the plot. You could also make a case that this is just as much about Rarity as it is Rainbow Dash, with both changing as characters and having genuine moments where they realize their flaws.
Also, this is the most exciting episode to watch, especially once it gets to the competition. There is always a sense that Rarity’s wings would disappear at any moment, and the more she becomes absorbed into them, the worse her downfall will be. This leads to one of my favorite moments in the show where Rainbow Dash has to save Rarity and prove to herself that she is tougher than she thought.
“Sonic Rainboom” is, like “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” in general, a brilliant example of creativity and imagination. It does not just want to get kids attention, but wants to entertain them and give them stories that aren’t too far off from other more adult shows. It is respectful and does a great job at covering a full range of emotions.