Pony Thought of the Day: Character Arcs (Part One)

It feels like the show brought a lot of character arcs to a close, or near to a close, this season:

Twilight’s is pretty obvious: She’s gone from antisocial loner, to slowly coming to understand how to relate to others, to de facto leader of the Mane Six, to member of Equestria’s ruling class. She has an obvious next arc, though, which is learning to balance her personal friendships with her duties to all of Equestria, as well as learning what those duties are and how to express them.

Fluttershy has slowly learned that she does have a valuable skill that can serve her in a confrontation, namely her ability to use body language, tone of voice, and careful observation of the needs and wants of her opponent to resolve the conflict nonviolently. She’s gone from “only able to use it on animals” to “able to use it in a crisis” to “able to use it on Discord.” Her next arc is not obvious.

Rainbow Dash has gone from arrogant, brash, and heedless of the consequences (she kicked a dragon in the face, and Fluttershy had to calm him down!), to being able to recognize the potential consequences her actions may cause to befall herself and others, and making an effort to minimize them. She’s also joined the Wonderbolts, apparently? Ish? That episode ended very abruptly. Her next arc is not obvious.

Rarity doesn’t have an arc so much as a negotiation, balancing her desire for fame and social status with her love for her friends. She’s several times had to waver between these in an effort to find an appropriate balance. There’s no particular reason she couldn’t keep struggling with it, but at the same time it’s feeling a little played out (which is probably why there were no Rarity-centric episodes in Season 3). Her next arc is not obvious.

Pinkie Pie’s finally learned some restraint. She went from needing to learn that her friends love *her*, not just her parties, to having to adapt to the notion that different people have different relational styles and boundaries, to being confronted with questions of just who the “real” Pinkie Pie is, and she’s finally starting to grow up a little. Again, it’s hard to see what her next arc is.

0 thoughts on “Pony Thought of the Day: Character Arcs (Part One)

  1. They've hinted at a few sides of the characters they haven't explored yet, but I have a feeling the next set of conflicts is going to be externally induced.

    Rainbow Dash, of course, is going to get a rival and archnemesis. That's something that all characters with her style and ambitions encounter on their journeys. We've already seen her confront her past self (Lightning Dust) and one possible future self (Spitfire) in one episode, but I have a feeling she's going to get a recurring nemesis, one that either more closely resembles her current self (perhaps twisting her strengths rather than just mirroring her weaknesses), or another possible future self besides Spitfire.

    She might also have to deal with some complications regarding Scootaloo. I mean, if we didn't meet Scootaloo's family in “Sleepless in Ponyville,” we're not going to any time soon. Rainbow Dash agreed to be a big-sister figure, but now she might find out she inadvertently signed up to be a mom.

    As for Fluttershy, I have a feeling we're going to be delving into her past. It's interesting that all three Pegasus cast members are the only ones whose families we know nothing about (seriously, the only canon refutation of the “Pegasi are a warrior culture who raise all their foals in military flight camps” fanon so far is the brief glimpse of RD's parents in the flashback at the start of “Games Ponies Play”), and even the brief glimpse we've seen of Fluttershy's backstory raises a whole lot of questions as to where her family was when all that was going on.

    Pinkie Pie… well, I don't think her growing-up arc is really wrapped up yet. And her episode this season, while it made for a great “who you really are” metaphor, the friendship lesson itself was about an aspect of friendship that is almost entirely “technical” rather than emotional, so I think she's still on her current track.

    Rarity… well, good question. Maybe that is why there wasn't a Rarity episode this season. Maybe she'll get a business rival, and wind up having to confront her “hard” side as well as her soft side?

  2. Twilight now gets to represent somebody with a new job/got married/had a kid/got promoted/whatever and now has responsibilities she didn't have before, requiring learning how to make time for friends, figuring out to not let it interfere with work, etc.

    We can really get a good “responsibilities come first, but that doesn't mean you can't have friends” type message.

  3. I like this! I would endorse it as a Season 4 episode, though the one I really want to see remains the flipside of “Read It and Weep” where Twilight learns, to her horror, that she really likes flying and is therefore *gasp* A JOCK!

  4. Well, we have seen Earth pony parents have pegasus and unicorn children with the Cakes, so maybe Fluttershy's parents were Earth ponies, hence why she's so comfortable with animals and nature and barely ever flies.

  5. That seems reasonable, and lines up well with the real-life reason (that Fluttershy was originally intended to be an Earth pony and Pinkie Pie a pegasus; they swapped to add more variety to how the characters move).

  6. It doesn't seem likely to me that Fluttershy had Earth pony parents, for one simple reason: Whenever we see young Fluttershy, she is always in Cloudsdale. With pegasi. Ones who aren't terribly nice to her. If home was somewhere else for her at this point, why would she be in Cloudsdale at all under those circumstances?

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