Depiction in the seriesEquestria. The unicorns, later named Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, were responsible for raising the sun and the moon, respectively, but the younger, Luna, grew resentful of their subjects who slept throughout the night and "shunned" it. She refused to lower the moon, and her bitterness transformed her into Night Mare Moon, who vowed to keep Equestria in eternal night. Her older sister used the magic of the Elements of Harmony to banish her in the moon.
The segment showing Elements of Harmony in the prologue has gems colored as follows, clockwise from the top: red, orange, green, blue, pink, and the center gem colored purple. When Twilight and her friends use the elements, there is no green gem, and instead there is a magenta-colored gem that is bestowed upon Twilight.
The pony reading this legend, Twilight Sparkle, sets to learn more about Night Mare Moon and the Elements of Harmony, and discovers that Night Mare Moon is set to return "on the longest day of the thousandth year", which is in two days' time. She sends a letter to Princess Celestia warning her of Night Mare Moon's return, but the Princess tells her to "stop reading those dusty old books" and sends her to Ponyville to see to the preparations of the Summer Sun Celebration and "make some friends".After overseeing the preparations and inadvertently making friends, the moment of Night Mare Moon's return arrives, and Princess Celestia goes missing. Twilight sets out to find the Elements of Harmony to defeat Night Mare Moon, and her new friends accompany her. She discovers that they are located in the ruins of the "ancient castle of the royal pony sisters" which is located in the Everfree Forest. They each demonstrate a noble quality throughout their journey, which is later linked to an Element of Harmony. They come upon five of the Elements of Harmony (briefly shown to be six) which are shown as stone orbs. They are later transformed through Twilight's magic into gem-studded jewellery, all of them matching the cutie mark of the wearer.
Applejack – Honesty
Applejack possesses the element of honesty. As Applejack tries to save Twilight Sparkle from hanging over the edge from a long drop, she tells her to let go, much to Twilight's surprise. Applejack says that if Twilight will trust her and let go, she will be safe. Twilight does so, and mid-fall, she is caught by Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy. Her element manifests as a gold necklace with a reddish-orange and green apple-shaped gem, similar to her cutie mark.
Fluttershy – Kindness
Fluttershy possesses the element of kindness. When the group encounters an angry manticore, they decide to fight it in order to get past it, but Fluttershy intervenes and approaches it calmly. She discovers that a thorn stuck in its paw is causing the manticore discomfort and therefore angering it. She removes it and calms the beast who then licks her face thankfully and lets the ponies pass. Her element manifests as a gold necklace with a pink butterfly-shaped gem, similar to her cutie mark.
Pinkie Pie – Laughter
Pinkie Pie possesses the element of laughter. After wandering into a darkened area of the forest where the spotted mushrooms are, the group is frightened by trees with scary faces. However, Pinkie just laughs and makes funny faces, causing the faces on the trees to vanish in pink smoke. She explains that they can conquer their fears just from laughing at them. Her element manifests as a gold necklace with a blue balloon-shaped gem that looks similar to her cutie mark. This necklace is accidentally switched into Fluttershy's Necklace of Kindness when Twilight Sparkle and most of her discorded friends are about to defeat Discord.
Rarity – Generosity
Rarity possesses the element of generosity. After encountering a flamboyant sea serpent who is upset about his mustache being ruined, Rarity, who is angered by this "crime against fabulosity," sympathizes with him and cuts off part of her own tail so that his mustache can be restored. Her element manifests as a gold necklace with a purple diamond-shaped gem, similar to her cutie mark. The necklace itself is also similar to Princess Celestia's necklace. In The Return of Harmony Part 2, it appears to be more of a magenta color in the box that Twilight Sparkle finds it in.
Rainbow Dash – Loyalty
Rainbow Dash possesses the element of loyalty. After the ponies reach the old castle, Rainbow Dash repairs the rope bridge for them to get across. She is confronted by a group of dark ponies who call themselves The Shadowbolts. They ask Rainbow Dash to join them as their captain, which would fulfill her dream of becoming part of an elite flying club, but at the cost of abandoning her friends. Rainbow Dash declines their offer and ties the bridge, letting the others cross. Her element manifests as a gold necklace with a red thunderbolt-shaped gem, similar to her cutie mark.
Twilight Sparkle – Magic
Twilight Sparkle possesses the element of magic, described as the most elusive element of them all by Discord. Twilight activates the Elements of Harmony through a "spark" within her that ignites upon hearing her friends arrive to her aid. Her element manifests as a gold tiara with a magenta star-shaped gem, similar to her cutie mark. Princess Celestia tells Twilight and her friends in The Return of Harmony Part 1 that the Elements were wielded by herself and Princess Luna and were used to defeat Discord by turning him in to stone. She continues, saying that she and her sister are no longer connected to the Elements. She stores the Elements in what she believes to be a chamber only she can open with her magic spell, but upon opening it she discovers the Elements are missing, and that Discord has hidden them somewhere. Discord reveals the whereabouts of the Elements in a riddle, and Twilight and her friends venture on a quest to retrieve them. Discord makes them behave in a manner contrary to the Element they represent, and once they find the Elements they are not able to use their magic.
After the failed attempt, Twilight is about to give up, but then discovers that Celestia has been sending back all her friendship reports. She reads the friendship reports and reverts to her former self, then sets out to use a memory spell on each of her friends, which restores them to their former selves too. They confront Discord again, this time successfully turning him to stone with the magic of the Elements and restoring Ponyville and Equestria to their former state.
The Elements of Harmony are mentioned again in the season two finale, A Canterlot Wedding. After being defeated by Queen Chrysalis, Princess Celestia instructs the six ponies to retrieve the Elements from Canterlot Tower to stop Chrysalis and her changeling army. Despite their efforts, they are unable to accomplish the task as the changelings have taken hold of all of Canterlot, including the tower.
Twilight Sparkle is sold with her element of magic tiara in the Royal Castle Friends toy set.