THIS LIST CONTAINS MASSIVE SPOILERS.
But then fear is always subjective. Some people will be scared of things other people might find laughable. We all have those irrational fears, those things that when we see them we just can’t help but being absolutely terrified of them, and good writers and clever directors will put these fears to good use within a story. I’ve always applauded the use of horror as a clever way to draw the viewer into the story better. Sometimes horror for the sake of horror is okay too, but when horror is used to drag us into the universe of the movie or the TV show then it achieves a complete different meaning. It’s the difference between the sudden orchestral string along with the appearance of something scary and the slow paced silent atmosphere accompanied by the subtle camera movements. If you look at children’s television in the eighties and nineties you will realize that there are quite a lot of disturbing and downright scary stuff in them, and the reason for this was not to make the little kids cry at their mom and dad, but to draw them in the story they were telling. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s cartoons started to play it safer, downgrading the levels of frightening imagery or scary stuff in their content, but in recent years there has been a resurgence of this horror trait and Friendship is Magic hasn’t been left behind in this subject.
Friendship is Magic is ultimately a cute and family friendly cartoon, but that doesn’t mean it’s not exempt of its scary moments, which are scary enough to throw an almost thirty year old guy like me under my blanket shivering in fear. I also have been looking forward to make a list like this for the longest time and now that we are in a hiatus between seasons 3 and 4 I think it’s a better time as any, so here I bring you what I consider are the top ten scariest moments in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
10. - Pinkie Pie’s Party of One in “Party of One”
We start right away with a moment starring Pinkie Pie, and let me tell you it won’t be the last. This whole episode is about how Pinkie Pie thinks she’s being shunned by her friends, abandoning her for a much more fun and better party than the ones she would organize. It’s really well planed how we never see the episode from the perspective of any other ponies; we see everything from Pinkie’s point of view. She is in every scene of the episode and we experience how her loneliness consumes her. The pinnacle of this consumption comes during the last third of the episode, where Pinkie’s dementia has forced her to develop multiple personalities which she has reflected on objects in her bedroom, and as the final strike on the nail we sink into her mind where these objects come to life. I have never been so scared of a sack of flour in my life.
9. - Scary Pinkie Pie close up from “The Last Round-Up”
Yeah, expect quite a few more moments starring Pinkie Pie. This one is the type of scary that’s close to screamer territory, but that I wouldn’t consider since how well it’s treated. Well into Season 1 we were told how important promises are to Pinkie Pie, to the point of stalking her friends over it. So when Applejack breaks the promise of seeing her friends after breakfast it’s understandable that Pinkie loses her mind. The interesting thing is that we see Pinkie Pie losing her temper and projecting her voice right before chasing after Applejack, so by the time she loses her temper a second time the shock doesn’t catch us by surprise, but it’s still terrifying! Her eyes are on fire, her face is cut out on a red background and her voice sounds like she’s channelling Lucifer himself. That pony is messed up.
8. - The Clone Test in “Too Many Pinkie Pies”
The scare factor of this scene comes from a completely different angle, and this might not scare little kids but it definitely does disturb quite a number of grown-ups not just me. In this scene we have a group of Pinkie Pie clones that are submitted to a test to find out who’s the real one, which is standing amongst them. The test consists on them not losing their attention span, and if they do they will get zapped until they bloat and zap out of existence to never return again. Apparently this spell has no way of telling who the real Pinkie Pie is, so the idea of Twilight Sparkle zapping her friend and pretty much euthanizing her is pretty horrifying.
|It's like a Bloat Fish, only pink.|
Just think for a moment, what if Pinkie Pie really did lost her attention span? Also, that G 3.5 Pinkie Pie face, sends shivers down my spine, yikes.
7. - Trixie cackles in victory in “Magic Duel”
Trixie, oh sorry I meant to say “The Great and Apologetic Trixie” is one of those characters that people either hate, hate, hate or love, love, love. I am personally closer to the love group but she is nowhere in my list of “Best Character” from the show. Even in a list of “Funniest Character” she ends up second to Lyra’s first place. And that’s the thing, for me Trixie is and will always be a straight up comedic character. She’s over the top, she’s over dramatic, she has some unforgettable facial expressions, and her voice is always in the borderline between whiny and cute. That’s why this scene is so terrifying, as it comes from the character I least expect to get scary. Evil laughs are something not many actors can pull off, and needless to say Kathleen Barr has, without a doubt, the most evil and horrifying of the cackles in the show. She out did her own Queen Chrysalis with this one (although, more on that later). It’s not lacking on impact either. After Twilight gets mercilessly defeated by Trixie during the first magic duel Trixie relishes in her victory, and lets out her laugh, and oh wow what a laugh it is! She could be levelled up to Batman villain with that laugh, I mean it’s so creepy! I was expecting her to start channelling The Joker at any moment.
6. - The Cockatrice in “The Stare Master”
There is a lot of build up for the reveal of this monster, so much so that I am actually surprised at how well planned the whole thing is. First we are told that the Everfree Forest is a dangerous place full of terrible creatures. Then we have the Cutie Mark Crusaders sneak out of Fluttershy’s cottage and into the forest chasing after a missing chicken. Then Fluttershy gets inside and goes after them, where she finds out Twilight has been petrified. Now, what could have turned the most powerful unicorn in Ponyville into stone without giving her a chance to defend herself? When Fluttershy catches up to the CMC she tells them that a Cockatrice, a monster half snake half chicken, is on the loose in the forest. It’s at this time when the CMC find the missing chicken...along with another one. And then this one starts coming out. And not only it doesn’t stop, but it reveals the lower half of its body to be green, scaly, and with bat wings. And then it screams. I think this was the first time something legitimately scary happened in the show, and for good effect. It has a lot of build up and it gives quite the pay off. A monster that’s half chicken and half snake may sound silly, but it definitely doesn’t look it.
5. - The Baby walking on the Ceiling from “Baby Cakes”
I am always happy to see children’s animation sneaking in references to adult movies and things that only grownups will know the reference of. The classic examples are the Diamond Dogs, or the Big Lebowski Ponies in “The Cutie Pox”, but by far my absolute favorite and perhaps most terrifying moment of them all is the scene where the baby walks on the ceiling and turns its head around from “Trainspotting”. Once again this is a scene with a lot of set up. We have Pinkie Pie looking for Pound Cake, while his sister Pumpkin Cake waits in their crib while chewing on a rubber chicken. The squeaks of the chicken only grow slower as Pinkie walks away, and the shadow of a crawling baby on the ceiling moves around her. Then Pinkie widens her eyes, and you can see in them that she really doesn’t want to look up, but she has to. She slowly lifts her head, the camera moves up and- Cue the entire brony fandom screaming “There is a Trainspotting reference in My Little Pony! What the hell!?” Besides that, it is a pretty terrifying and really well planned out scene. The mood and the atmosphere are well balanced and have the same amount of scary and goofy. But still, it’s a ceiling crawling pony baby! Aaaaieeeee!!!
4. - The Balloon Party in “Return of Harmony Part 1”
If you haven’t read or watched “IT” go either watch it or read it, and then come back. It’s okay, take your time. I can wait. The article isn’t going anywhere. Okay, are you done? Balloons are terrifying, aren’t they!? I will admit, Stephen King did emphasized quite too much the corruption of something as childish and harmless as a balloon, so I can understand why some people will find his use of balloons as a horror device kind of laughable. This scene however, it doesn’t just go scary, it goes downright cruel. Discord doesn’t hold back at turning these balloons into something vicious. The scene doesn’t start well at all either. When the first thing you hear is the creepy laughter of children and the first thing you see are clouds of smiling balloons all over the place your creepy alarms are wailing like crazy. But then Discord gets his head behind a balloon and after detaching it from his body his face transfers into the balloon and starts speaking to Pinkie Pie. And then he makes the laughing mocking faces of her friends appear in five other balloons, all of this as distorted and unnerving music plays in the background. This scene is scary on itself, but it carries one terrifying subtext. Discord is not only taking what represents Pinkie Pie’s talent and turning it against herself, but he is also putting himself and Pinkie Pie’s doubts inside it. By doing so he is not only turning her but he is also invading her. This is the closest the show will ever get to mind raping a character. Discord does this to every single one of the Mane Six, yes, but none of them were as shockingly cruel as this one.
3. - The Headless Horse nightmare in “Sleepless in Ponyville”
Say what you want about the tone of this cartoon, the way they plan the scenes out and how they build up is quite something, but nobody would expect to see a reveal that took almost two seasons to happen. The first time we heard the story of the Headless Horse it happened within the safe ground of Twilight’s Library and it was just a silly story that three grown up ponies were listening to. However horror does take a completely different perspective when you are little, and especially when you are alone, and if you already have more real and more important fear that haunt you when you’re awake, like Scootaloo’s fear of disappointing Rainbow Dash, it’s very possible that these will materialize in the form of nightmares. The first nightmare with the Olden Pony is okay, but the broken voice they gave to it kind of diminishes the horror impact of its presence. The Headless Horse however is a...ahem, horse of a completely different color. As soon as the nightmare starts we see Scootaloo all alone in the middle of a scary dreamlike forest. Then we hear the steps coming after her, and then the steps grow quicker, and quicker, and she tumbles and falls down a slope and we see a shadow at the top of it. We see the shadow towering over Scootaloo and she starts crawling back up against the wall of the cliff, as the shadow grows bigger and bigger and then the silhouette of the Headless Horse cuts against the moon light as Scootaloo screams “It’s all over!” Not only is this a masterful way of revealing this creature, but it’s also a very clever way of summing up Scootaloo’s inner turmoil. She’s getting haunted by her real fears that take the form of an unreal creature in her mind. This also strengthens Scootaloo’s confession at the end of the episode, and it makes Luna’s reveal a lot stronger than it could have actually been. It’s a great scene that’s both terrifying and clever.
2. - Queen Chrysalis’ Transformation in “A Canterlot Wedding Part 2”
We can safely say that this show’s scary or creepy moments have never been predicted by the fans. That’s what makes the horror so much fun, the fact that you don’t see it coming, you don’t know what to expect. You will never be able to find out who the villain is and who the hero is before it’s too late. In the case of “A Canterlot Wedding” it really does come as a surprise, since never in any moment was it hinted that there was a villain in the episodes. The synopsis was very short, and the way the first part was paced didn’t suggest things would escalate the way they do in the second part. So by the time the real Cadance confronts the fake Cadance I was still trying to figure out where they were going, until the real one called the fake one a Changeling. And then the transformation happened. I don’t think I need to say how mind blowing this scene was. Not only is the animation incredible, but the way they have to reveal Queen Chrysalis’ face ranks up on high octane nightmare fuel for me. That black body, that scraggy green hair, that crocked horn, and then those two huge, insect like, green and dead-looking eyes widen and a mouth with big pointy teeth opens and the laughter, oh such good evil laughter thanks to the ever so talented Kathleen Barr (though not as good as her Trixie laughter) . It’s such a scary imagery! I wouldn’t be surprised if this episode had kids running for the door! I didn’t run but that’s because I was glued to the seat, mumbling as I tried to process what I just watched. In the end it kind of back fires on the character since she then gets defeated by the power of love, and in the comics by an over powered Twilight Sparkle, so Queen Chrysalis had a fantastic introduction even though she then turned out to be a bit of a push over. But she defeated Princess Celestia and trapped her into a chrysalis hanging from the ceiling, so still, Bug Pony is pretty terrifying, yes.
Alright, those were nine fairly scary moments in this show, and number 2 was probably the scariest one for many of the bronies, besides being one of the most iconic images in this cartoon. So, what is for me the absolute scariest moment in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic?
1. - The eye hallway from “Hurricane Fluttershy”
I talked about irrational fears at the start of the article, and I think my biggest most defined irrational fear of them all is eyes. I am dead scared of eyes. I don’t know why I am, I just am. It makes no sense really, because they are not that unusual. I have too inside my skull right now, why would I be scared of something that’s with me all the time? Well, I am and for the love of whatever you consider holy I have no idea why. I seriously can’t comprehend why am I so scared of eyes, I just am, and this is very important for you to understand why this scene is the scariest scenes I’ve seen in this show, so I hope you can roll with it.
This scene is, in my opinion, the most accurate representation of a panic and/or anxiety attack I have seen in modern animation. The scene is pretty soul crushingly evil in its depiction of Fluttershy’s fears of performing in front of others. We have had quite a good build up of these insecurities and even a flashback to when she was a little filly and every other kid at school laughed at her, so we are pretty well set on her state of mind and how much pressure she’s under. When she goes under the first test to see how much wing power she has, it’s pretty obvious that those fears are going to burst at any moment, and when they do all bets are off. She looks around, eyes widened in fear, pupils reduced to a tiny speck, as the background behind her starts spinning around and bleeds from normal to red. And all of a sudden, out of nowhere...Eyes. Eyes all over: Around her, below her, behind her, above her, watching her, judging her, laughing at her with invisible mouths as she hyperventilates and panics in the most soul crushing breakdown this show has ever seen.
|With heartbreaking consequences.|
She is trapped inside this nightmarish hallway made out of eyes, menacing, judging eyes, and we are trapped in there with her. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that, despite us being in there with her, we can’t help her. We can’t do anything for her. All we can do is sit down and watch. We are forced to watch! The most terrifying realization about this scene doesn’t come from the fact that she is suffering, but from the fact that she is suffering and there is nothing we can do about it. We can’t help her. She’s all alone. All we can do is sit down and watch. That, my friends, is terrifying. The impotence of being unable to help those in need is horrifying, and it’s only worse when it’s forced upon us.
There lies the power of this scene, why it works so well and why it’s so perfect as to set Fluttershy’s determination to get better and get over her own insecurities. Without this scene the ending where she manages to help build the jumbo tornado would’ve had no impact at all. It’s one of the best, most well thought out uses of horror I have ever seen, not in children’s animation, not even in television, but in fiction in general. I always say how “Hurricane Fluttershy” is the strongest episode of the show (and I think that says something since Fluttershy is my least favorite of the Mane Six) and the eye hallway scene is the main reason why.
And with that I end another one of my very opinionated and personal lists regarding this show. Once again every single thing I write here is all opinion, regardless of how well I try to explain my thoughts and word them with the best grammar my limited knowledge of English offers me. Then again, this list came out more opinionated than usual since horror is one very subjective matter. We all have different things we are afraid of. With that, I leave you all to attend your fears, while I go attend mine. See you all later.