Applejack's name is the name of an alcoholic beverage, and the derisive nickname "Apple Teeny" that Spike gives her in Bridle Gossip is pronounced the same as "appletini," the name of another alcoholic beverage.
Derpy is named for her eyes being off-center, resembling a meme which afterward became a word.
Dr. Hooves is named after Doctor Who, and though his resemblance to the 10th Doctor (portrayed by David Tennant) was at first only coincidental, he has been depicted similarly in various official material. In some material he wears a green or red necktie and/or the 10th Doctor's outfit.
Other names, titles, and design
Canterlot is a portmanteau of "canter," a three-beat horse gait, and Camelot from Arthurian legends.
Las Pegasus is a play on the city of Las Vegas, though the writer of the episode felt that the latter was not a very successful pun, and it was eventually re-interpreted in the map of Equestria poster as Los Pegasus, then later changed to Las Pegasus on a newer map.
The show features dragons, griffons, unicorns, and Pegasi in multiple episodes, and several other mythological creatures detailed in individual episode sections below, like manticore, windigo, Hydra, cockatrice, a minotaur, and others.
Rarity's shocked reaction towards Twilight's mane from Friendship is Magic, part 1 is recycled as her excited laugh in Sonic Rainboom.
Fluttershy's nervous squeal from Friendship is Magic, part 1 is re-used three times throughout the series: in A Bird in the Hoof where she is crying over the 'death' of Philomena, again in Hurricane Fluttershy where she is crying under a tree, and in My Little Pony Equestria Girls when her human self gives out fliers to help the animal shelter.
The voice clip of Pinkie Pie's gasp upon meeting Twilight for the first time in Friendship is Magic, part 1, is re-used six times throughout the series: later in the same episode when Rarity confirms that Princess Celestia is missing; in Bridle Gossip, when everyone thinks that they crushed Applejack in the tub; reversed to form Fluttershy's inhalation in Sonic Rainboom; as Mrs. Cake's voice in A Bird in the Hoof, when Pinkie eats Princess Celestia's cupcake; in MMMystery on the Friendship Express, when Pinkie sees that the Marzipan Mascarpone Meringue Madness has been eaten; and in Too Many Pinkie Pies when the Pinkies find out that Twilight's test is watching paint dry. It is reversed again when Pinkie balloons herself in Simple Ways.
In Friendship is Magic, part 2, after Rarity sacrifices her tail for the serpent's moustache, Twilight begins to sympathize for her, beginning with, "Oh, Rarity!" This audio is re-used in A Dog and Pony Show after the team attempts to find an open hole in the ground to save Rarity from the Diamond Dogs.
Pinkie Pie's final line in Friendship is Magic, part 2 is re-used from a line she says in Friendship is Magic, part 1, with some parts cut out during the iris-in.
Pinkie Pie's one-pony band fanfare to rid Ponyville of the parasprites in Swarm of the Century is re-used as the party music in Pinkie's flashback scene in The Cutie Mark Chronicles. Its ending from The Cutie Mark Chronicles is re-used in Sweet and Elite after the first time Pinkie fires her party cannon. The music is used again in A Canterlot Wedding - Part 1 when Pinkie leads Chrysalis disguised as Cadance to her reception plans, and in One Bad Apple for the parade fanfare.
Twilight Sparkle's scream from Winter Wrap Up in the ice skating scene is re-used in Secret of My Excess.
The music that plays during Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara's cute-ceañera party in Call of the Cutie is the same music that plays during the montage of the Cutie Mark Crusaders' attempts to earn their cutie marks in The Show Stoppers and during Pinkie Pie's birthday party toward the end of Party of One.
The Cutie Mark Crusaders' laughter from Call of the Cutie is re-used in Stare Master when they zoom past Twilight.
Rainbow Dash's laugh in Fall Weather Friends when she flips the sign is re-used again in A Bird in the Hoof.
The background music during Rarity's fashion show in Suited For Success is re-used during Fluttershy's first fashion show in Green Isn't Your Color.
The line 'Holy guacamole!' is spoken by Spike twice in Feeling Pinkie Keen, as is the line "Twitchy tail?."
The musical accompaniment to Rainbow Dash and Rarity's routine in Sonic Rainboom is re-used in The Show Stoppers, when Apple Bloom is practicing dancing; The Cutie Mark Chronicles, during Applejack's flashback; Keep Calm and Flutter On, during the main cast's dinner party with Discord; and Simple Ways during Rarity's first presentation and the Ponyville Days gala.
Rainbow Dash's repetition of "Oh my gosh!" in Sonic Rainboom was re-used again in Wonderbolts Academy.
Most of the background music in Wonderbolts Academy was re-used again in Rainbow Falls.
Fluttershy's laugh that was used twice in Stare Master is re-used in Over a Barrel.
Segments of the Cutie Mark Crusaders' theme song are re-used in My Little Pony Equestria Girls.
Dancing animations for Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle, and Twist in Call of the Cutie are re-used in Pinkie Pride for filly versions of Flitter, Cloudchaser, Lyra Heartstrings, and Sweetie Drops.
Dr. Hooves' descriptions on Enterplay's Mayor Mare & Time Turner trading card, in Gameloft's mobile game, and for Gaia Online's promotional item of him say, to varying effect, that he keeps Ponyville's clocks in sync, sets the hourglass for cider competitions, and takes care of all things "timey-wimey." The phrase "wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff" originates from the Doctor Who episode Blink. In the season five episode Slice of Life and the Korean broadcast of the season one episode Call of the Cutie, Dr. Hooves speaks the phrase "Allons-y!" a signature saying of his live-action counterpart, the 10th Doctor.
The title is a reference to O. Henry's short story The Gift of the Magi. Pinkie Pie's trade of her party cannon is a reference to the story's plot.
During the sightseeing trip, the trio visits a toy store where two ponies are playing a duet on a foot-operated electronic keyboard, which is a reference to a famous scene from the 1988 movie Big. The tune they are playing is the beginning of the My Little Pony theme song.
Zephyr Breeze tricking Spike into cleaning the throne room windows is a reference to Tom Sawyer who gets a boy to paint a fence for him in the Mark Twain novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
An Earth pony stallion in Ponyville bears a resemblance to Link from The Legend of Zelda video game series. This pony wears a green cap, has a Heart Container for a cutie mark, and appears pulling a cart of gems resembling the games' Rupee currency.
When Zephyr Breeze tries living in the woods, he starts talking to his mannequin and names it Wigford, referencing the 2000 Tom Hanks film Cast Away, in which Hanks' character has an imaginary friend that he makes out of a volleyball and names Wilson.
In the part where the Cutie Mark Crusaders are looking at their music video, there is a brown cat wearing a bow in the related videos that bears a striking resemblance to Fluffy from Pound Puppies. Also, the website that the Crusaders are surfing resembles the video-sharing website YouTube.
When the spell is lifted from the Canterlot High School students, removing them from Sunset Shimmer's mind control, the beam travels through them all like the power of the Ark of the Covenant did to the German soldiers in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Each of the Main Six's attire as well as their respective backdrop represents a different music period: Twilight Sparkle in the 1950s, Fluttershy in the 1960s, Rarity in the 1970s, Rainbow Dash in the 1980s, Applejack in the 1990s, and Pinkie Pie in the 2000s.
The background scenery shown during Rarity's verse is reminiscent of the 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine.
Rainbow Dash smashes her guitar at the end of her verse, which was a trademark of Pete Townshend of The Who.
The scene of the Rainbooms singing together on a darkened background is a reference to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" music video.
The scene where Sunset Shimmer is singing while on a spinning record is a reference to the opening sequence of Happy Days.
The title is a parody of the proverb "All is fair in love and war," which is often attributed to John Lyly's Euphues.
One brief scene of Lyra and Sweetie Drops facing each other before the contest mirrors the character placement and on-screen display of early arcade fighting games.
When Lyra and Sweetie Drops face off, one shot is posed and staged almost identically to a shot in the 2013 anime television series Kill la Kill, during the fight sequence between Satsuki Kiryuin and Ryuko Matoi in episode 3 where the two characters are viewed in silhouette against a pure white background, with Lyra taking the place of Satsuki (the combatant leaning back) and Sweetie Drops standing in for Ryuko.
Additionally, two subsequent close up shots of Sweetie Drops' and Lyra's feet (respectively) when they launch at each other mirror two shots of Ryuko and Satsuki (respectively) launching themselves at one another.
The commercial entitled There's a Pony For That is a paraphrase and parody of the Apple commercial There's an App For That, even showing ponified versions of smartphone applications such as Yahoof! and eNay.
The 8 bit commercial features Pinkie Pie playing an 8 bit video game on a console similar to those of Atari, with a controller similar to Nintendo's NES Advantage.
Billboards in Los Angeles, California that promoted the show in June 2011 reference the film Bridesmaids. It shows the main cast against a brick wall in poses similar to the women in the poster of Bridesmaids, under the parody title Bridlemaids.
Billboards for season 2 show Pinkie Pie with her hooves pressed against a "snow screen" TV with the caption "They're baaack!" This references the 1982 supernatural horror movie Poltergeist, which has a poster where the little girl, Carol Anne Freeling, has her hands pressed against a "snow screen" TV and the tagline "They're here" and its 1986 sequel Poltergeist II: The Other Side, which has the tagline "They're back."
On January 8, 2012, a full page ad ran in the LA Times, referencing the opening to AMC's award-winning drama Mad Men. It shows Rainbow Dash in silhouette, wearing a suit, falling in front of pictures of the main cast, with the parody title, Mad Ponies.
There are two allusions to the brony fandom: Twilight Sparkle calls Cadance her "pegasister-in-law," and Cadance says that her destiny was to lead other ponies with "True Love and Tolerance."[dubious – discuss]
The story shares numerous similarities with the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, such the main character's search for a missing family member, an ally that later turns out to be an enemy, and a priceless treasure being hidden in plain sight among various fake or misleading treasures.
Flim and Flam introduce themselves as Farnum and Failey, a reference to Barnum and Bailey, two circus personalities who, along with Ringling Bros., created the famous circus, The Greatest Show on Earth.
One of the ponies thinks that Fluttershy, when dressed as a shepherd, is acting as Little Pony Peep, a reference to the nursery rhyme, Little Bo Peep.
Twilight mentions Trotland and Bales, parodies of Scotland and Wales.
Applejack's last line, "That'll do, Fluttershy. That'll do." is a reference to the line "That'll do, pig. That'll do." from the book The Sheep-Pig or Babe, the Gallant Pig as it is known in the United States, and its film adaptation, Babe.
The country of Monacolt is a reference to the country of Monaco.
The part where Celestia asks her students to tear up their essays is a reference to the late Robin Williams telling his students to tear out the introduction of their textbooks in the film Dead Poets Society.
Rainy Air says, "I like raindrops on roses. But that's more a favorite thing than a fun thing." This is a reference to a lyric from "My Favorite Things" from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music.
In chapter 5, the Cutie Mark Crusaders ask the Mane Six if they are playing Monopony or Settlers of Canterlot, but Pinkie responds they are playing Whisk. These are parodies of the board games Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, and Risk respectively.
The title of chapter 8, "Dreamwalking in a Winter Wonderland", is a reference to lyrics in the 1934 Christmas song "Winter Wonderland".
In chapter 10, Apple Bloom references the "Deal with it" meme when she puts on a pair of moonglasses and says this phrase.
In chapter 13, Rarity mentions the department store chain Bloomingtail's, a play on the real-life department store chain Bloomingdale's.
Many of the agents working for S.M.I.L.E. are named after the NATO phonetic alphabet, such as Alpha Hoof, Bravo, Foxtrot, and Tango.
Chapter 7 is titled "Mares in Black", a reference to the popular UFO conspiracy theory about "Men in black", which, in turn, inspired a successful comic and film franchise of the same name.
The Saddle Hawkins dance is a parody of the Sadie Hawkins dance, in which girls ask boys to the dance. The tradition originated in the comic strip Li'l Abner.
Chapter 12 is titled " It's Element-ary, Dear Bon Bon", a reference to the phrase "Elementary, my dear Watson", often attributed to, but never actually said by, Sherlock Holmes. (Even though he never says it in the novels, he says it in the film adaptations starring Basil Rathbone.)
Card α #136 C, Foal Free Press, has the Diamond Tiara quote "I want pictures! Pictures of ponies!", a reference to an internet meme commonly attributed to the Spider-Man character J. Jonah Jameson.
Card #16 R of Pipsqueak has the quote "I wanted a real Red Rider sword for my birthday, but mum said I'd put my eye out", a reference to the 1983 film A Christmas Story.
Card #41 C of Purple Waters has the quote "... and when DJ PON-3 starts spinning different tunes, I'll see the Dark Mare of the moon", a possible reference to Pink Floyd's song "Brain Damage". In fact, Purple Waters' cards contains various references to the former bassist/vocalist of Pink Floyd, Roger Waters. Their names are alike, and Purple has made an album called 'The Fence', parodying the Pink Floyd album 'The Wall'.
Card #59 U of Top Marks has the quote "He just kept talking in one long, unbroken sentence, moving from topic to topic. It was really quite hypnotic...", paraphrased from a Captain Picard quote in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Timescape".
Card #27 U of Princess Luna has the song lyric "Princess Luna, bring me a dream! Make him the cutest that I've ever seen!", a reference to the Chordettes song "Mr. Sandman".
The name of card #138 U, Special Beam Cannon, is the name of a technique used by Piccolo in the anime/manga franchise Dragon Ball.
Card #44 U of Dance Fever has the song lyric "Disco filly, coming through! That filly is you! Ooh ooh! Ooh ooh!", a reference to the Disney Channel original series Gravity Falls and the fictional song "Disco Girl".
Marks in Time
Card #24 R of Discord mentions "an evil interdimensional triangle wearing a tophat", specifically alluding to the Gravity Falls character Bill Cipher.
Card #70 U, Unplanned Guests, Very Animated, has the quote "Oh, it looks like Heero and Duo couldn't make it. They must be busy tonight...", a reference to Heero Yuy and Duo Maxwell of the anime series Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.
Card #87 C, Repulsor Blast, has the quote "All of Princess Celestia's unicorn soldiers are trained in this defensive technique, along with the offensive spell Uni-beam." Repulsor Blast and Unibeam are two techniques used by Iron Man in the Marvel vs. Capcom game series.
Card #93 U, Time Warp, has the quote "Let's NOT do the time warp again, Twilight", referencing the song "Time Warp" from the 1973 rock musical The Rocky Horror Show.