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11 July 2011

The Hidden Plot of Friendship is Magic.

This is not new. Not even remotely. I’ve seen a lot of people spouting story lines and story arcs about this show like crazy during the last few weeks and I got to admit, I was growing worried. I was worried over people trampling my possible theory of finding some semblance of continuity in this show. But then I remembered the wise words of the guys at the Bronyville podcast: It’s just a show. I will add to that statement: It’s a silly fan theory trying to fill the gap left by the absence of new episodes.

I also might have been listening to Radiohead a bit too much lately.

So without further ado, let’s get on with this theoretical timeline I tried to come up with. One thing you got to take into account though, I based this storyline more on the character development and plot development instead of the seasons and yearly development of the show like some other story arc theories I’ve seen bumping around Ponibooru and Equestria Daily. Take that into account each time I explain every plot point.

Episode 1 – Friendship is Magic.

I guess the most intelligent way to start a story arc in this show is to begin with the episode that sets the show as it is. Characters are introduced and the basic world of Equestria is presented to us.

Episode 2 – The elements of Harmony.

Exactly like the previous episode with further character development. We are given the basic personalities of each of the main six characters that will later on be developed as we know more about them. This is the first time Princess Celestia is presented as well.

Episode 3 – The Ticket Master.

The third episode of the show is also the third episode of this timeline. I think it takes place in order since we see how Twilight makes use of the teleportation magic spell she used in the pilot, and how she is unsure of how her friends would react depending on who she picks to go with her to the Gala. Her doubts are there to showcase how their friendship just started.

Episode 9 – Bridle Gossip.

I can argue this episode takes place right after Ticket Master because Twilight is presented to an event she wasn’t expecting to see in Ponyville. When they step into a deserted Ponyville Spike asks Twilight about it being a Pony Holiday, to which Twilight replies “None that I know of”. This proves Twilight had just started reading on Ponyville’s history, due to her lack of knowledge. She was also first introduced to Zecora, the zebra that only goes around Ponyville once a month. If each episode happened weekly, and a month has four weeks, it’s more than likely that she got presented to Zecora within the first five episodes of the show (Episodes 1 and 2 take place during the same day). This is the first time we see Applebloom, which sets her character for the next episode.

Episode 12 – Call of the Cutie.

The only reason for this episode to be here is Applebloom’s character and the foundation of the Cutie Mark Crusaders. The earlier these three are introduced the longer their friendship would be and the tighter their links are. This increases how much they care for each other.

Episode 20 – Green isn’t your colour.

This is the first episode where I base my theory upon the fact that Rarity grows in popularity throughout the show. In Green Isn’t Your Colour, Rarity starts the episode as an unknown pony designer. She tries selling her clothes to Photo Finish, the famous photographer, but it doesn’t turn out as well as she expected. During one scene, Rarity is approached by a pony who claims to have “Never heard of her”. This goes for show that Rarity was yet to be in the spotlight. Also, Twilight is presented with the moral burden of carrying the secrets of Fluttershy and Rarity. Out of this burden Twilight will take a very important lesson she will apply in later episodes, as she never keeps secrets ever again. Also, Spike’s revelation of his crush on Rarity has a better dramatic impact if it’s revealed in earlier episodes.

Episode 6 – Boast Busters.

This episode takes place more or less in the same place it originally does. Twilight is still early getting on her relationship with her friends and the main six are yet to be fully developed as we are given more information about each other’s jobs and traits. Using Trixie as the resource that makes the whole episode move forward is a good idea, since she doesn’t affect the continuity. The continuity here is affected by the fact that Twilight has to show her unstoppable magical energy.

Episode 14 – Suited for Success.

This episode has to be here because it needs to take place right after Green isn’t your Colour for several important reasons. Fluttershy knowing a freaky lot of fashion is, for starters, a big clue. Fluttershy could’ve learned about fashion while she was with Photo Finish in Green isn’t your colour. Next, establishing the Grand Galloping Gala as the most stable story arc for Season one. And finally, Rarity getting some of the spotlight. The whole episode builds to Rarity catching the eye of fashion critic Hoity Toity and given the chance of having her dresses featured in his boutique. This episode ends with Rarity getting Hoity Toity’s request of doing a bunch of copies of each dress for him by next week. Where does that lead us?

Episode 17 – Stare Master.

The episode starts with Rarity going from one side to the other of her boutique, in a haze of panic, as she has to finish a batch of dresses before she runs out of time. She never states she was working for Hoity Toity, but she is clearly frazzled by an important shipment, so this can mean either of two things: One, this is the shipment for Hoity Toity; two, this is a new shipment that she was asked to do because the dresses she sent to Hoity Toity made her insanely popular. Either way helps. This episode also serves as a way to avert the fact that Twilight is an unstoppable magic machine, showing her being petrified by a creature only Fluttershy can defeat. It helps that this episode and Boast Busters have the same writer. It feels like the writer wanted to compensate for all the power he gave to Twilight. We are also first introduced to Fluttershy’s ability, The Stare. This is something we should know she has since she will use that in an upcoming episode in this continuity.

Episode 19 – A dog and Pony Show.

To keep up with the fashion motif, we have Rarity receiving a visit from Pop star Sapphire Shores. This particular pony says she heard of Rarity since she likes to keep up with the new rising fashion stars. This goes to prove Rarity is getting really popular after all the previous episodes. It also shows how she ran out of supplies after the last shipment and she has to go get more with Spike’s help.

Episode 7 – Dragonshy.

This episode serves to present Fluttershy as the reluctant badass who doesn’t dare to be assertive fearing she might be shunned away. The main purpose of this being here is establishing Fluttershy’s change from incredibly shy pony to bomb of pure rage. She also uses The Stare on the dragon, something we don’t need to be introduced to since we have seen that prior.

Episode 8 – Look before you sleep.

This is a stand alone episode and could’ve gone anywhere. The only reason why I put it here instead of at the end or at the very beginning is because of the next episode.

Episode 18 – Show Stoppers.

We see how Applejack’s old tree house is pretty mangled and that particular area of the town is quite messy. It feels like a storm just passed over, if you get my drift. This also goes for show how each of the Cutie Mark Crusaders works and behaves, what their potential talents might be, and it neatly fits in the middle of the storyline.

Episode 24 – Owls well that ends well.

My theory for why this episode fits here is really silly: None of the next episodes takes place at night time and inside Twilight’s house, so we don’t have a reason to see Twilight’s Owl anywhere. It eventually gives us a big character set up for Spike, whose cocky ways are smoothed in here for next episodes, where he is less cocky and more cooperative and down to the ground.

Episode 21 – Over a Barrel.

This episode is a pain to set up, and if it was for me I would have dropped it from the storyline. But I guess we can say it fits here because of the next episode. The apple orchard Braeburn owns is still blooming and has all of its apples still intact, plus the warmish looking weather suggests they are in spring. Character wise, I can’t place this episode anywhere.

Episode 4 – Applebuck season.

Setting up from the fact that in Over a Barrel all the apple trees still had their apples and Applejack is alone taking care of the whole thing since her relatives live all over Equestria. We had that settled after seeing Braeburn all the way away in Appleloosa. This is the first time we see some kind of seasonal continuity because harvesting usually takes place before summer ends.

Episode 13 – Fall weather friends.

Keeping up with the whole seasonal thing, this is obviously right after Applebuck Season. It also settles the entire conflict between Rainbow Dash and Applejack we have been seeing since episode 2. With this episode here their friendship seems to develop in a more realistic way, when the conflict they’ve been carrying since Over a Barrel explodes during the race and finally ends with them making up and going for a friendly gallop.

Episode 11 – Winter wrap up.

Not much to say aside from the fact that it does take place in winter and so it should go after Fall Weather Friends.

Episode 16 – Sonic Rainboom.

I think the only reason why this episode takes place here is because I wouldn’t organize Pegasus races and flying competitions during winter. I would wait until the weather is warmish, like spring. Besides, when visiting the weather factory the Pegasus ponies quickly gather all the snow flakes when Rarity blows them away. If it was winter they would have just let them fall, or at least didn’t panic that much for them. We also see Fluttershy going nuts, taking a step further into her new assertive side.

Episode 5 – Gryphon the Brush off.

The connection between this episode and the previous one is the most obvious of the entire show, to the point that there have been videos and pages of TV Tropes related to this fact. Pinkie Pie starts the episode narrating the Sonic Rainboom events, from Rarity’s ascend to the Sun to how Rainbow Dash darted to save her. It will also settle Rainbow Dash’s friendship with Pinkie Pie after the events of Over a Barrel.

Episode 10 – Swarm of the Century.

This was another hard episode to set in a particular place, and I think I cheated when I used small details to set it up. We see Rarity’s designs for the Grand Galloping Gala in her boutique before the whole disaster occurs. We see Rainbow Dash use her “Pinkie Pie, you are so random” line from the previous episode for sarcastic effect. We also established that Princess Celestia was visiting Ponyville but in the end had to leave, which leads us to…

Episode 22 – A bird in the hoof.

…an episode that starts with Princess Celestia visiting Ponyville for a brunch. There’s not much to say about this one aside from the fact that we do see Fluttershy doing something we have never seen her doing before: Breaking the rules and kidnapping Celestia’s pet to help her. This serves as an indication of how little does Fluttershy cares for rules when she has an objective before her.

Episode 15 – Feeling Pinkie Keen.

The only reason why this hilarious episode is here it’s because we see Twilight giving Spike a tuxedo with a top hat and a cane. Something he will be using in the next episode. We also establish Gummy as Pinkie Pie’s pet.

Episode 26 – The best night ever.

The season finale doesn’t happen too far away from the actual end. I decided to place it here because all the previous episodes do seem to add up to this one except the last two that feel like an actual rise of events. The whole ticket, dresses and Fluttershy’s personality comes into a clash here and works real well. We see Spike wearing his tuxedo. We see the ponies doing what they said they would do and wearing their dresses. Fluttershy’s mental break out works better if we have in recent memory how many times she was presented with a situation that made her assertive (the cockatrice, the dragon, etc.). Since it felt like a slightly downer ending, with a very minimalistic finale theme, the progression towards the last two episodes feels more natural. How does the next episode start?

Episode 25 – Party of One.

It starts with a Pinkie Pie party only for her friends and her pet alligator Gummy. I bet that, after the events of the Best Night Ever, Pinkie Pie wanted a relaxed and more intimate party where she could have things under control and enjoy a good time. It only adds to her drop into depression if she carries the disappointment from the whole Grand Galloping Gala fiasco. This reinforces the message that friends make everything better, since it’s her birthday party that it’s improved by her friends setting it up. Also, Fluttershy seems quieter than usual, probably getting over her sudden burst of rage.

Episode 23 – The Cutie Mark Chronicles.

Ever since I watched this episode I felt this was the true season finale. The whole theme about friendship and them being tied up thanks to Rainbow Dash’s Sonic Rainboom makes a lot of sense if you remember the theme of the show: Friendship. This episode is the triumph of friendship over everything else. They all tell their childhood stories, six origin stories. The Cutie Mark Crusaders are given inspiration to keep finding their cutie marks. And the main six characters have a group hug full of joy and giggles. It feels more like a season finale than Best Night Ever because it carries the concept of the show up and high. Besides, it’s the only episode where both storylines (Cutie Mark Crusaders and Twilight’s Study of Friendship) meet.

So I guess that’s it guys. I think I’ve explained each episode enough that you can see the storyline I came up with. I know that Hasbro didn’t want a story line, and I am thankful for that since we can watch the episodes out of order and they still make sense, but I think this would be an acceptable storyline if I ever get around to actually watching them like this. It was a lot of fun doing it though!!!


  1. Well, I like this list, and will reorganize my files to fit it.

  2. I've sometimes wondered if there ever was anybody who might have attempted to piece together a full timeline for this series season 1, but never found any. However, this one seems on the whole a perfectly functional attempt that I can see working. I'm sure there's always some episodes that could always be placed a bit differently, but this is certainly a solid one.

    The only one's place I'd change is to put "Look Before You Sleep" somewhere toward the very beginning of the season. In fact, I see it as an almost crucial episode to be an early episode much due to establishing an actual relationship between Applejack and Rarity. After all, those two are pretty much the polar opposites of one another, so it stands to reason they'd also have little reason to socialise with one another. So how to create a link for them to actually be friends? Well, this episode pretty much answers that, where they learn to put their respective differences aside, and actually create a link that will help them to understand one another better, thus making them true friends instead of simple acquaintances.

    Furthermore, you have Twilight who seems so awkwardly blundering in social situations in this episode. The simple reason is that she is still attempting to learn how to act with other ponies, and thus uses her slumber party book as a literal crutch to instruct her how to behave (even with a tree in her home, she still tries to use her book to tell her what to do as she has not yet learned how to think outside of the books). So due to these two reasons, it is more than just a random episode that could be placed where ever you want, since it features two very distinct character development moments that only help make future episodes much more meaningful. Just my take.

    1. I did this mostly for sh*ts and giggles, and I had a lot of them doing so. It made me feel like a bad representation of a genius in a motion picture, you know like "A Beautiful Mind".

      I think I won't be doing it for Season 2 because, well, episode 3 pretty much killed any possible timeline we can come up with, with the whole "Twilight doesn't need to send lessons about friendship from now on".

      Your theory does make a lot of sense indeed.