- See also list of cutie marks
The My Little Pony franchise is famous for cutie marks, unique picture-like symbols located on the ponies' flanks or haunches. The term is a play on "beauty mark", and is reminiscent of quarter marks. The mark itself is positioned where livestock branding is usually performed. Cutie marks are often related to the personality, proclivity, or talent of the character.
Friendship is Magic is the first My Little Pony production that explicitly refers to these symbols as a main subject of interest.
Cutie marks were reffered to as "symbols" in the first generation, but were changed to "cutie marks" in the third generation.
Depiction in the series
Meaning and coming of age
The episode Call of the Cutie deals with the meaning and appearance of cutie marks. Cheerilee, the school teacher, explains to her students that ponies are born without a cutie mark. The cutie marks are obtained when ponies discover a unique characteristic that sets themselves apart from others. Twilight Sparkle demonstrates to Apple Bloom in the same episode that magic can't make a cutie mark appear, and she explains that the mark will only appear in due course. The meanings of cutie marks are not always literal: Cheerilee's cutie mark is three smiling flowers, and she explains it represent her wish that her students "bloom" and be happy.
In the series, numerous evidence has shown that the cutie marks appearance will only take place if the pony acknowledges their talent.
Since many ponies were conceived as toys before they became characters on the show, they are often named after their cutie marks. This conflicts with some elements in Friendship is Magic, since in the show, foals are born without their cutie marks and therefore cannot be named after them.
Cutie marks, or lack thereof, have some social implications in Ponyville. Ponies who have yet to gain their mark, like Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle, are derisively called "blank flanks" by Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara in the episode Call of the Cutie. In the same episode, a "cute-ceañera" is celebrated for those who have recently gotten their cutie marks. The name of the celebration is a play on quinceañera, a celebration of a girl's fifteenth birthday in parts of Latin America. On the other hand, Twilight Sparkle and Applejack consider those without a cutie mark to be lucky, who still get to experience "the thrill of discovering who they are, and what they're meant to be". This argument is also expressed by Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo who say about fellow "blank flank" Apple Bloom that "she's full of potential" and "could be great at anything".
Cutie marks come in a wide variety of shapes and colors in My Little Pony Friendship is Magic. Cutie marks are often a set of two or three objects or animals, and usually feature between one and three colors. For example, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Applejack all have cutie marks with three objects, and all of their designs have only two colors. One of the few ponies with a cutie mark with more than three colors is Rainbow Dash, whose rainbow lightning bolt has four. The other ponies with four- or five-colored cutie marks feature a more detailed image, so many of the colors are only different to allow for shading.
Although cutie marks are supposed to be unique, background ponies' marks are often chosen at random from a set of 'stock' cutie marks. Lauren Faust, in a deviantART message, relayed that the cutie marks of background ponies are chosen at random. She jokingly referred to them as "butt symbols." Earth ponies tend to have food-related or horseshoe marks, unicorns have astrological symbols, and Pegasus ponies have weather-related symbols. Music notes are another common mark, and are present on all three types of background ponies. Occasionally, adult ponies appear without cutie marks, some instances of which have been explained by Lauren Faust as an oversight.
Other attributesIn The Cutie Pox, it is stated that there used to be an epidemic in Equestria, referred to as "cutie pox", that caused ponies to sustain more than one random cutie mark, and it caused these ponies to involuntarily perform tasks as per given cutie marks, which appeared all over their bodies, not just their flanks. The phenomena is not elaborated upon though, as the epidemic itself remains a historical mystery because it appeared and disappeared without a trace, according to the book Twilight Sparkle reads on the subject. A modern case of a cutie pox victim is Apple Bloom. In Ponyville Confidential, it is shown that cutie marks only appear as part of the pony's coat, as when both Snips and Snails have their flanks shaved due to a bubble-gum related incident, there is nothing but bare skin underneath where their own cutie marks were.
Characters other than ponies
The cutie marks have long been characteristic of the My Little Pony toy line. The cutie marks on the toys of the Friendship is Magic toy generation sometimes don't precisely match their design on the show. Additionally, while the show features cutie marks on both sides of the pony, the toys feature the marks on only one side. The side varies between toys.