MLP’s Audience Involvement: Ur Doin It Rite, Hasbro.

Hello all! The ponies are not forgotten! In fact, I am here to bring you the penultimate entry in my pony blog series.

One of the greatest things about the current My Little Pony franchise is the stance Hasbro (who owns the MLP line) and the Hub (which airs the show) take towards its unexpected adult demographic. That is to say, they adore us.

They even mentioned bronies by name in this commercial, which, I must say, outside of being adorable blows Katy Perry’s version out of the water.

This is probably the awesomest. Some companies would recoil and try to retcon anything the older crowd found cool out of the show; others would shrug and ignore. But the clever people at Hasbro have rightly seen a goldmine in their grown-up fans. After all, who’s more likely to want complete collections of all the episodes and merchandise, and be able to afford it? Bronies.

This has led to, among other things, the release of a number of one-episode ponies/background ponies (Such as Vinyl Scratch/DJ PON-3, Princess Luna, etc) as toys, something I’m sure would never have happened if the show’s viewers were the intended demographic. (All of the background ponies who’ve been given names and personalities by fandom would never have been considered for merchandising if there wasn’t an adult fandom to create them.)

The most outstanding example of Hasbro taking inspiration from the fandom is, of course, that of Derpy Hooves.

This filly’s eyes were first crossed by animators accidentally in an early Season 1 episode. But, as obsessive fans are wont to do, the bronies picked up on this, christened her Derpy Hooves, and welcomed her into the herd of fanon ponies. Later in the season, the animation staff started crossing her eyes intentionally as a nod to the brony fandom.  Finally, in the internet-shattering, fandom-breaking Season 2 episode “The Last Roundup”, this happened:

Yes, that is the canon-ization of the character Derpy Hooves. Outside of her being a klutzy pegasus pony, we still don’t know much about her, but that one scene essentially caused bronydom to erupt. They had taken something we had made, and put it, heart and hoof, into the actual show. Imagine that happening in any other series you follow. The love for their fandom at the Hub is staggering.

(As a side note, I know there was some backlash to the episode within fandom where people criticized the show for mocking mentally challenged people with their portrayal of Derpy.  I can see the potential for problematic-ness in the way they started to flesh out Derpy.  However, at the risk of doing whatever the ableist version of mansplaining is, the canonization of Derpy was meant as a tremendous nod to the fans, and not as a hateful act in any way. And I think if they hadn’t paired her with Rainbow Dash in that clip, there wouldn’t have been so much trouble—Dash can be a bitch sometimes, even to her closest friends. End side note.)

Other examples abound, but this, of course, is my favorite. Doctor Whooves is another fan-named background pony who was jokingly designated a My Little Time Lord on account of his hourglass cutie-mark and follicular resemblance to the Tenth Doctor. This particular fanon-to-canon transition was not as publicized as that of Derpy’s, but the animators keep throwing enticing little things into the background, such as in the episode “Sweet and Elite”, where several different versions of a pony with the same hourglass cutie mark were seen.

Also (and this was intentional), in the episode “The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000,” he controlled TIME ITSELF.


So the point of all this is: Hasbro and the Hub have revolutionized the way writers, producers, and merchandisers interact with their fandoms. It’s really awesome to see and be a part of, and is just another reason why being a brony is the way to be.