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.
Twilight mentions a place called Saddle Arabia in Magic Duel. Saddle Arabia is a play on the modern kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
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.
Lauren Faust and Rob Renzetti encouraged the writers to infuse mythology into the series.
The show features dragons, griffons, unicorns, and Pegasi in multiple episodes, and several other mythological creatures detailed in individual episode sections below, like manticore, 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.
During the welcome party in Griffon the Brush Off, after a prank is pulled the sound clip "that's so funny!" is used three times in a row. It was likely accidental.
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" originates from the Doctor Who episode Blink.
Twilight's training with Zecora references Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Twilight, much like Luke Skywalker, seeks a mentor to defeat a corrupted enemy. Zecora directly quotes Luke's mentor, Yoda, as she instructs Twilight to "unlearn what you have learned." Also within this scene, Twilight loses focus with her magic as she remembers Trixie's control of Ponyville, much like how Luke loses focus during training as he has a vision about his friends.
When Trixie summons the fishbowl to cover Ponyville, a musical score closely resembling 'Carnival of the Animals: Aquarium' by the classical composer Camille Saint-Saëns can be heard.
The entire opening scene mirrors the one after the introduction in The Show Stoppers. The two ponies Scootaloo rushes past are the same (Shoeshine and Cherry Berry), Granny Smith appears, and there is also an obstacle in the middle of the road which Scootaloo catches air from, though the scenes are in a different order and the ponies react differently.
As with the bag in Sweet and Elite, the two horseshoes on Rarity's bag in her camping cart bears similarity to the Chanel logo.
Rainbow Dash tells the story of the Headless Horse, an allusion to the Headless Horseman.
Sweetie Belle sings "99 Buckets of Oats on the Wall", a pony version (and more kid-friendly version) of the campfire song "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall".
The title is a reference to the 1939 British WWII propaganda poster Keep Calm and Carry On, which has since become a popular internet meme.
The original title of the episode, Fluttershy's Home for Reformed Draconequi, alludes to the title of an animated series, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, which Lauren Faust and writers Amy Keating Rogers, Meghan McCarthy, Cindy Morrow and Chris Savino have all worked on.
Before the friends leave Fluttershy's house, there is a reference to Alice in Wonderland with Discord in the Mad Hatter's outfit.
Twilight's line at the dinner party, "Hold on to your elements girls. It's going to be a bumpy night." is a reference to the movie All About Eve. Bette Davis as Margo Channing utters the famous line, "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night."
Discord eating the reformation spells is a reference to John de Lancie's quote, as Q, "Eat any good books lately?"
The song Spike sings at the beginning of the episode: "Spike is great, making a jewel cake", is a reference to a famous skit performed by Bill Cosby about giving his children chocolate cake for breakfast. In return his children sang, "Dad is great, gives us chocolate cake!"
The winged shoes the messenger was wearing is an allusion to the ancient Greek god Hermes, who wore winged sandals which enabled him to fly. Hermes, having the ability of flight, played the role of messenger for the Olympian Gods, and was likewise a patron of sports. The winged shoes also allude to the myth of Perseus, a hero who borrowed Hermes' sandals during his ventures.
When Twilight says "Today, I consider myself the luckiest pony in Equestria", it mimics legendary baseball player Lou Gehrig's July 4, 1939 farewell speech at Yankee Stadium; specifically, the portion where he said, "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth".
Twilight's line "It doesn't even make sense, it doesn't even rhyme" comes from the 1999 film Julien Donkey-Boy.
There is to be a "[r]idiculous early '90s pop culture reference".
The black thorny vines bear a resemblance to those in Disney's Sleeping Beauty.
The half-day, Half-night sequence somewhat resembles a similar occurrence in the Lewis Carroll Poem, The Walrus and The Carpenter, seen recounted by the characters Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum in several adaptations of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, specifically the Disney adaptation and the 1999 live action adaptation.
When Spike straps into Twilight's back with a seatbelt, it is a reference to how Bernard and Bianca ride on the back of Orville the albatross in the 1977 Disney film The Rescuers.[dubious – discuss]
Spike's regret about not taking the train also alludes to lines said by Bernard in The Rescuers.
Spike says, "Holy new personas, ponies!" like Burt Ward's role as Robin in the 1960s live-action Batman TV series. In addition, the color scheme of Spike's superhero costume is similar to that of Robin's.
Fili-Second's name is derived from the word "millisecond".
How the Mane-iac walks with her long mane and the manner in which she uses it as appendages is based on that of Doctor Octopus (AKA Otto Octavius) from the Spiderman comics.
In the Manehattan equivalent of Times Square, there is a billboard with two pony eyes with pony silhouettes in them, a parody of the logo for the Broadway musical Cats. As well with the juice box above it being a parody of the Coca-Cola logo.
Before Apples to the Core starts, the clanging of the pans and the clattering of the cart resembles the beginning to The Open Road song in the 1983 Cosgrove Hall film adaptation of The Wind in the Willows.
When Pinkie Pie pounced Applejack, it resembles how Tigger pounces on Pooh in the Winnie the Pooh series.
The four photos taken on the waterfall are parodies of photos seen at Splash Mountain in the Disney Parks.
The fourth and final photo depicts Pinkie doing a duck-face.
At 17:04, when Pinkie pounces Applejack, the Slender Man can be seen hiding behind the bushes in the background in a split second.
The colt version of Cheese has a "Jew 'fro" and large glasses, and an alternate version of Cheese in a police lineup has a technicolor shirt and mustache, much like Al did before he got laser eye surgery.
Pinkie finishes off the episode by saying, "I never did catch that pony's name," as Cheese Sandwich trots off into the sunset, further cementing the comparison.
The song Pinkie the Party Planner resembles the song "Belle" from the 1991 animated film Beauty and the Beast in that it features the protagonist singing about what she enjoys while the townsfolk sing about the protagonist.
The title may be an allusion to the defunct Cheetos slogan "it ain't easy bein' cheesy".
The cold open of this episode is essentially a role reversal of the cold open of Sonic Rainboom, where instead of Rainbow Dash trying to teach Fluttershy how to cheer loudly, Fluttershy teaches the rest of the Mane 6 how to cheer quietly.
Maud is said to be working on her "rocktorate in rock science", a play on the doctorate degree awarded by universities.
Rainbow Dash's line describing Maud -- "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an igneous" -- is a reference to Sir Winston Churchill's 1939 statement about Russia's role in World War II -- "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma".
Sweetie Belle's line "Ooh, dresses, dresses, dresses, dresses!" is delivered in a similar cadence to Jan Brady's famous catchphrase on The Brady Bunch, "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"[dubious – discuss]
The title is a common phrase used by musicians to test the volume levels of a microphone.
Twilight mentions Princess Celestia's favorite flight pattern as being the "Icaranian Sun Salutation," a reference to the mythological story of Icarus, who fashioned his own makeshift wings and flew too close to the sun.
During the rap song "The rappin' Hist'ry of the Wonderbolts", Pinkie wears an alarm clock on a chain, a reference to Public Enemy rapper Flavor Flav, who often wore a huge clock on a chain. She also wears a hat similar to the ones worn by the members of the rap trio Run-DMC. Furthermore, it is reminiscent of '80s hip-hop, or early '90s rap, music videos.
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.
In the first Fall Formal dance scene, Sweetie Belle dances similarly to Tsukasa Hiiragi in the opening sequence of Lucky Star.
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.
DJ Pon-3's locker contains a poster with a picture of a speaker with the words "It's just my bass cannon!" surrounding it, a reference to the popular MLP fan-animation by Alligator Tub Productions called "Epic Wub Time: Musicians of Ponyville."
Fluttershy leading the hamsters into the habitat is an allusion to the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
Rarity names one of the hamsters Emilia Furhart, a reference to famous aviatrix Amelia Earhart, who mysteriously disappeared in 1937, along with her navigator, whilst attempting a circumnavigational flight of the globe.
Fluttershy says "everyhamster" similar to how the ponies say "everypony".
Shake Your Tail!
Granny Smith and two other girls do Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" dance.
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 equivalents of smartphone applications such as Yahoof! and eNay.
8 bit features Pinkie Pie playing an 8 bit video game on a console in the same vein as Atari consoles.
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 against a "snow screen" TV with the caption "They're baaack!" This references the 1982 movie Poltergeist, which has a poster where the little girl, Carol Anne Freeling, has her hands on a "snow screen" TV and the tagline "They're here.", and its 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 the AMC television show Mad Men. It shows Rainbow Dash, wearing a suit, falling in front of pictures of the main cast, with the parody title of Mad Ponies.