Ponies All Around: The Best MLP Characters
Given the moderate success of my Top 10 MLP Songs article and with Season 5 coming up on the horizon, I thought it would be nice to do another ranking. This time we’re here to rank the best My Little Pony Characters and the episodes (or comic issues) that showcase them at their best.
One of the best attributes of the show, in my opinion, is the fleshed out nature of characters even heading into and through Season 4. While some episodes fell flat, others were quite solid and continued to expand on already known fears or characteristics of both the well known members of the main six along with lesser known characters and even had one shot (for now) characters show up.
First though, we’ll have our honorable mentions list. Just a note, several of these spotlight episodes mention multiple characters on the list so I tried my best to give each character their own episodes even if it may have included another character prominently in the plot line.
Honorable Mention 4: Granny Smith & Big MacIntosh
Voice Actors: Tabitha St. Germain (Granny Smith) and Peter New (Big McIntosh)
Spotlight Episode: For Granny Smith – 2×12 – Family Appreciation Day. For Big MacIntosh – Issue #9/#10 – Zen and the Art of Gazebo Repair (found in MLP: FIM Collection 3 as well). Some may quibble with my inclusion of the comic series but it’s a great one shot for McIntosh’s character.
Granny Smith, arguably the oldest pony in Ponyville, is the grandmother of Applejack, Applebloom, and Big MacIntosh. She’s often hard of hearing and bares similarities to Grampa Simpson both in often being mocked for her ability to sleep at will but also her underrated background. She not only helped with the growth of Ponyville but helped market the magical ‘zap’ apples, resulting in making Ponyville the must be destination for the Apples Jam. This indirectly helped create and foster the Sweet Apple Acres land as well.
Big MacIntosh, prone to often speaking verbally with just two words, “eeyep,” and “nope,” is one of the more introverted characters in the show. Despite this, and apropos of his name, he’s big in stature and one of the strongest characters. He not only often contributes with carrying the apples around in the buckets but has a unique talent in offering his bass singing to the Pony Tones Quintet, a Capella group.
Honorable Mention 3: Discord
Voice Actor: John de Lancie
Spotlight Episodes: 2×01 & 2×02’s The Return of Harmony.
Discord is initially a villain that arrives to Ponyville to bring chaos to the world, and effectively turns all of the main five against Twilight Sparkle before he’s eventually turned back to stone (having been turned to stone prior by Princess Celestia with a teased relationship between the two as well). He’s the practical joker of the show, pulling off cartoonish, zany antics and straddling the line between being his villainous self and trying to keep his reformed status largely thanks to his growing friendship with Fluttershy. In a lot of ways, he’s also a modern telling of the Trickster archetype willing to speak the truth and pull off gags/antics while repenting at the last minute and keeping himself in the (mostly) good graces of others.
Honorable Mention 2: Maud Pie
Voice Actor: Ingrid Nilson
Spotlight Episode: 4×18 Maud Pie.
Maud Pie, the sister of Pinkie Pie, is a currently just a one-shot character but was a major hit with the fandom. Showing traces of asperger’s syndrome, Maud is nearly the polar opposite of Pinkie in that she’s very quiet, takes everything literal, and has an obsessive fixation on rocks to the point that she’s attending college for her Rockterate degree. While the other main five struggle to acclimate themselves to Maud, Maud shows that for all her differences, she truly does love Pinkie by saving the mare after she gets caught in a rock slide (including tunneling through a massive boulder in speed that leaves Rainbow Dash in shock).
Honorable Mention 1: Spike
Voice Actor: Cathy Weseluck
Spotlight Episode: 2×21 Dragon Quest.
The baby dragon and largely the only main male lead character in the show, Spike, treats Twilight as his guardian (having his egg hatched when she was performing a spell for a test). He not only is her loyal sidekick but has proven to fulfill multiple roles ranging from watching over Fluttershy’s pets to helping Pinkie Pie call the fall run in the episode, Fall Weather Friends. Although diminutive in stature, Spike seeks approval from Twilight, treating her much like a mother figure, and has a major crush on Rarity. In the above mentioned Dragon Quest, Spike seeks to find out his own heritage as a dragon and soon finds himself in trouble. Despite the fact that he knows he’s an odd fit within Ponyville itself, Spike’s loyalty to the main six keeps him a consistently solid character in his own right. A large part of his appeal is his ability to stand in for the viewer, be a solid character whilst showing his age from time to time, and also taking on some of Twilight’s traits such as her snark. Spike’s most important role on the show, however, is that he serves as the liaison between Princess Celestia and Twilight, sending and retrieving letters back and forth from those two.
With those honorable mentions out of the way, let’s start the count down!
Number 10: Princess Celestia
Voice Actor: Nicole Oliver
Spotlight Episode: 1×26 The Best Night Ever!.
Princess Celestia was initially the all ruling Princess of Equestria. Albeit not seen too often, she has a calming grace about her and carries herself with dignity. While she’s mostly known for being the mentor to Twilight and sending her on the journey to Ponyville, her past has slowly been revealed and has shown that Celestia is a not a pony to mess with. She and Luna were able to encase Discord in stone, defeat King Sombra, and Celestia banished her sister, Luna, to the moon. As a Princess, her role was to raise the sun at dawn while Luna would raise the moon at night. After banishing Luna to the moon, Celestia took on both roles singlehandedly.
Number 09: Princess Luna aka Nightmare Moon
Voice Actor: Tabitha St. Germain
Spotlight Episode: 2×04 Luna Eclipsed.
Princess Luna is the sister to Princess Celestia. She grew bitter at sleeping through the night and refused to lower the moon at dawn, leading to her banishment. Despite largely being a ‘dark’ character, Luna has shown qualities and has become a bit more fleshed out in comparison to Celestia. She’s shown as being able to invade nightmares (apropos given her nickname of Nightmare Moon in the two part debut of the series) and has shown to lack social grace given her years of banishment such as seemingly threatening subjects with a loud voice despite trying to be nice. With the help of Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle, Luna learns to gradually get accustomed to Ponyville’s citizens and how to engage them. Given her lack of social mores, she can sometimes scare others and be slow to pick up on when somebody is being sarcastic or serious. In the IDW comic series, we see her struggles as she tries to find the perfect prank to upstage Celestia with Pinkie Pie’s help.
Number 08: The Cutie Mark Crusaders (Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo)
Voice Actors: Michelle Creber (Applebloom), Claire Corlett (Sweetie Belle), and Madeleine Peters (Scootaloo)
Spotlight Episode: As a trio – 1×18 The Show Stoppers. For Applebloom – 1×12 Call of the Cutie. For Sweetie Belle – 2×05 Sisterhooves Social. For Scootaloo – 3×06 Sleepless in Ponyville. A character, named Babs Seed, later joins the group as a 4th member.
Despite being a trio solely intent on obtaining their cutie marks (the marks on the flanks), each of these characters display their own personality. Applebloom is largely the most independent, trying to prove she can handle the farm life like Applejack and Big MacIntosh while being the most gung-ho in getting their cutie mark early and refusing to be patient. Applebloom also seems to be the most direct. Sweetie Belle’s more reserved but quick to input her opinion on matters and aims to prove to Rarity that she isn’t just a little sister and that she can aid Rarity with her fashion needs. Sweetie Belle’s shown a small aptitude for fashion, much likely inspired by her big sister. Scootaloo’s the tomboy of the group and known for her ability to skate around and perform daring tricks. She’s very much an admirer of Rainbow Dash, even going so far as to set up a fan club for her, and tends to be opinionated when she feels like speaking up. A lot of the appeal of the CMC is their refusal to wait to grow up and demand to be seen as equals to their sisters and mentor, despite the constant klutziness of their antics. Also as a group, they are surprisingly creative in coming up with ideas to tackle, the aptitude to set about tackling them, and the optimism to see the brighter side when they eventually fail.
The resident speed demon of the group, Rainbow Dash is brash, cocky, arrogant, and knows it. She’s proven to clear the sky in 10 seconds flat and her dream’s to be with The Wonderbolts (a group of sky performing pegasi). While being very much a tomgirl, Rainbow Dash does have an appreciation for reading and specifically the Daring Do set of novels. Despite this, it took Dash a while to learn it was okay to be a reader as she’ll often call Twilight, “egghead,” derisively and has the ability to be less than tactful when around the other main five. Albeit flawed, Dash does show a propensity to stand by her friends regardless of the situation and has her own strong moral code which she follows. This included shooting down an opportunity to be flight leader of the Wonderbolt Trainees after Dash took issue with how the skills that were praised were also being dangerous and harmful to their fellow trainees.
The party clown of the group, Pinkie’s a mixture of off the wall crazy zaniness recalling antics right out of shows such as Animaniacs while being respectful of her friends such as refusing to prank Fluttershy because Fluttershy scares way too easily. As a result, Pinkie’s one of the few characters to wear her feelings on her sleeve and take things intensely personal such as the above linked Party of One, where Pinkie believes the others are avoiding her and she goes into a very dark hole as a result. Pinkie utilizes her ‘Pinkie Sense’ much like Spider-Man as a phrase for her intuition and thinks everything in the world is worth a party over. While Pinkie is willing to party and sometimes tends to be too oppressive when trying to befriend others such as Cranky Doodle Donkey, Pinkie is equally willing to defend her friends when they are in trouble and stand up for those who maybe cannot stand up for themselves.
A strong farm focused pony, Applejack tends to see things in black and white, and as a result tends to most often butt heads with Rarity. Their friendly rivalry has been a central component to the show. Applejack, despite her strength, also lets her suspicions show quickly when something seems out of sorts and is fiercely protective of Applebloom almost to Applebloom’s resentment. Despite this, Applejack tends to get along with the other main five by pointing out the truth and being honest in situations where it would be easier to lie. Often times, she’ll get caught up in situations only to see being honest as the best way to get out of the situation both to herself and to others. Applejack is largely the brains (and sometimes the brawn) behind the running of Sweet Apple Acres and is also called upon when needing to rope up a stampede of cows.
The shyest of the ponies, Fluttershy is at her comfort around animals and is arguably the Doctor Doolittle of the group, able to read the animals and know what they need. She also is in charge of animal choirs at events but rarely sings due to major stage fright despite being a big fan of the Pony Tones Quintet. A bit of a scaredy cat, Fluttershy also has a keen strong will and has shown an ability to be especially harsh in her judgements of others when she lets loose along with having ‘the stare’ symbolic of mothers everywhere. She often accompanies Rarity to the Spa and tends to appreciate the world around her the most. While being reticent in combat and/or any physicality, she is very quick to scold bullies and scold those she sees putting down others, especially her friends.
Arriving in Ponyville as the star of her own magic show, Trixie becomes one of the best antagonists in the series despite only having two main episodes. She immediately develops a rivalry with Twilight after Trixie lies about subduing an Ursa Major and making Twilight’s friends look foolish at the stage show earlier. Trixie gets banished to a rock farm only to return and try to banish Twilight from Ponyville, again only to be upstaged by Twilight this time through a repeat of Trixie’s magic act but done parlor trick wise. Trixie’s a braggart, a bully, and like all the characters is well rounded anyway. Wanting to be the best by calling out the phrase, “Great and Powerful,” at the beginning of her shows, in a lot of ways Trixie can’t live up to that reputation because she’s a charlatan. Despite this, Trixie has an overwhelming desire to prove that she is all that she says she is and wants the adoration and praise. Much like Twilight, there’s a bit of a bravado edge to her character but Trixie plays it up and has no issues making fun of those beneath her.
Calling to mind Scarlett O’Hara, Rarity has slowly moved up the board from initially being one of the more polarizing ponies in the series. Running her own fashion design store, the Carousel Boutique, she tends to be the complete opposite of Applejack causing them to butt heads frequently from her disdain to getting dirty to her reliance on fashion and elegance over simplicity and boring. Rarity’s keen sense of locating gems furthers her design capabilities and as such, her goal is to become one of the most prominent designers in Equestria. Despite being born in Ponyville, she’s attended Manehattan and professed a desire to live in Canterlot due to the richer inhabitants. One of her flaws is to be obsessive about details along with trying to show herself off as being a higher class (especially peppering her vocabulary with more complex words) status than she may really be. Despite her attitude, Rarity is often quick to be generous towards others and reciprocate kind acts towards her. While not overly physical, Rarity is not afraid to get her hands dirty when it comes to combat and protecting her friends.
Initially sent to Ponyville to make friends, Twilight’s probably the most featured character on the show recently being added to the Alicorn princess group with Celestia, Luna, and Cadance. Twilight brings a lot of subtle deadpan snark to the show (no surprise, given Tara Strong voiced Raven in Teen Titans) but one of the best aspects of Twilight’s character is her knowledge. She makes no bones about loving to read and learning for learning’s sake. As the owner of her own library, she’s the go to for books on anything and has even taught the Cutie Mark Crusaders different subjects such as chemistry. Twilight has a heavy reliance on Princess Celestia, treating her as both a mentor figure and somebody to aspire to be equal to. Arguably a landmark character, Twilight is one of the very few female lead characters that are also introverted and not made to change that aspect of themselves. On the flip side, Twilight also has proven she can kick some butt if necessary while also having flaws related to being a perfectionist and being obsessive at times.
And there are my Top 10 characters from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic! Comment below with your thoughts or your own picks!
Credit to RaiinbowDashRD at Deviantart.com for feature image.