A brony is a grown-up fan of My Little Pony, namely of the 2010 show. Most bronies are teenagers and young adults who simply aren't afraid to admit they enjoy a colorful, fun show.
History of Bronydom
On October 10th, 2010, the first episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic aired. This new generation of My Little Pony was truly a game changer. Known for her work on Powerpuff Girls and Fosters Home For Imaginary Friends, Lauren Faust along with a team of talented showrunners successfully upgraded the My Little Pony franchise from something primarily popular with young girls into something enjoyable by just about any fan of animation in general.
Nine seasons, a feature film, various spinoffs and specials, and over a decade later, bronies continue to thrive with a multitude of sub-communities spread across the internet with even more pony content always on the horizon; both fan-made media and brand-new generations of My Little Pony.
Read more within the drop-down sections below!
The origin of bronies [2010 - 2011]
While the show was preparing to air, the debate of modern children's cartoons being nothing more than toy commercials was raised. No matter what Hasbro's intentions were, the production team behind Friendship is Magic made sure that the cartoon they were producing was indeed of high quality and as a result, the show gained the attention of an unexpected audience.
Many users of 4Chan, a popular image board known for being the birthplace of countless memes, latched onto the show during this time. Users began to excitedly post thread after thread of endless pony pictures. Some of it was for ironic humor, while some users found themselves genuinely enjoying the show and looking for others to discuss it with. At one point, posts about ponies had to be banned from the site due to the sheer amount of pony spam. A number of people rose up against the show expressing hatred toward those who even mention something pony related because of fans' proclivity to share pony content, sometimes in places where it was not wanted.
Many believe it was this "anti-pony" movement that made bronies what they are today. The more something is opposed, the higher the supporters must rise up, and rise up they did. Bronies soon began to create their own websites. After seeing so much opposition from 4Chan users, bronies moved on to create PonyChan, an image board just for My Little Pony related content. During this initial boom of pony popularity countless blogs, image boards, and other websites were created alongside the use of virtually every popular social media website on the internet. As the brony community grew and expanded into the rest of the internet, 4Chan later created a brand new board just for ponies and welcomed the community back with open arms. By this time ponies had already begun to take over the internet... and the world.
The pony takeover [~2012-2015]
As with many memes spawned from 4chan, ponies rapidly spread around the world; but this time was different. While plenty of memes gain popularity from a simple sharable image macro, ponies represented an actively airing television show where each new episode introduced new phrases or other memorable moments. Fans found themselves drawn to the minimal yet expressive nature of the characters, the lore-filled depth of the world they lived in, and of course the humorously ironic nature of a bunch of grown adults and teenagers enjoying a show originally intended for seven year-old girls.
The early My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episodes were enjoyable for what they are, but as bronies became an inescapable phenomenon the creators of the show quickly joined in on the fun. Staff interactions with the fandom became regular online and at events, and soon references intended for the older fans made their way into the show itself. The quality of the show and the attention it received by early fans was already a powerful force, but it became evermore potent once the show started to recognize bronies.
Not even the internet could contain the excitement and passion of the bronies. Fandom organizers created the first brony convention in 2011 with the first big convention to see thousands of attendees taking place the very next year in 2012. This convention was aptly named "BronyCon" and as years went by their annual attendance grew from a couple hundred fans to over ten-thousand. Not only that, but other brony conventions unrelated to BronyCon also took place all around the world. Ponies reached every continent, and even the international space station.
Many long-time fans remember this period of time as the height of bronydom, as it felt like everyone was taking part in the pony party in some way. Musicians created iconic remixes, popular YouTubers made references, people's profile pictures became ponies, and everywhere you looked on the internet there was a pony to be found. However, this "meme status" of the show was only the beginning as fans settled in for the long haul.
A tightly-knit community [~2016 - 2018]
The explosive popularity of bronies was viewed by many as a fad; a silly meme which couldn't possibly persist. Even most bronies were surprised as the show continued to announce new seasons, spin-offs, and other official media. Comparisons could be made to other long-lasting communities such as Trekkies or Furries, but the brony community is truly unique because of its unbelievably passionate following and incredible amount of fan-made media; all for a single cartoon originally made for little girls.
Anything and everything can be ponified. That combined with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic quickly becoming one of the longest-running modern cartoons gave the community immense staying power. Even as the meme-status wore off, the news stopped reporting, and casual fans moved onto other things, dedicated bronies continued to produce creative works and discuss all things pony on a daily basis.
Hiatuses between seasons of the show were both despised for being arduous and celebrated as a time for the fandom's creativity to shine, however, the looming threat of an "eternal hiatus" made fans uneasy. The show had to end eventually.
The end of an era, beginning of another [2019 and beyond]
In August of 2019, a trailer for the final season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic released the very same day as the final BronyCon. In stark contrast to the show ending, this event was the largest brony gathering ever with more than ten thousand attendees and nearly $100,000 raised for charity. Soon after, the emotional final episode of Friendship is Magic aired in the US October 12th 2019; just two days after the show's impressive nine year anniversary.
Despite everything being against bronies at this time; the show ending, the final BronyCon, and a worldwide pandemic cancelling nearly all other brony conventions in 2020, fans continued to make creative works and discuss the show on a daily basis just as they always have since the beginning.
The brony phenomenon may not be an internet-wide meme anymore, and the mainline show may have concluded, but that hasn't stopped bronies from passionately enjoying the show, nor has it stopped Hasbro from announcing future spin-offs and new generations of My Little Pony. Bronies are still creating content and participating in events every day; It's never too late to join the herd!
What's the show about anyway?
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is centered around six main characters known to the fans as the "Mane Six." Together they overcome challenges through the sheer power of magic or through more conventional means. When they are not fighting monsters or going on epic adventures they live out their lives in a peaceful and quaint town called Ponyville. They have jobs, homes, friends, and hobbies. This balance of adventure and a friendly small-town feeling gives the show a whole lot of heart as well as action and adventure.
Stories told by Friendship is Magic can vary between season-long arcs, single episodes inspired by popular fiction, and original stories. Whether the world is being taken over by an evil villain or we're treated to a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, ponies deliver a uniquely charming take on just about any concept.
In addition to the main show there are also countless official spin-offs such as Equestria Girls, Pony Life, and various YouTube shorts. Not to mention the previous generations of My Little Pony dating back to the 80s. Bronies tend to be centered around Friendship is Magic, but there's a lot of other pony content out there too!
What do Bronies do?
Bronies are known for their creative works. Art, music, animation, and fan fiction are just a few things bronies create based around their favorite characters or original characters which they create themselves. There is so much brony-created content that much of it actually rivals the show itself. There's full length fan-made episodes, multiple high-quality animations, many crossovers, and even live-action shorts.
Bronies often meet in-person at scheduled meetups and conventions. These meetups can range from a couple bronies watching an episode together to annual worldwide conventions that bring out the the best content creators and fans in the thousands. Bronies also work together to support charities, raising well over a million dollars through various campaigns.
The brony fandom is dynamic and expansive. Within the fandom there's a sub-community for anyone!
If you're interested in the show itself the series is available on iTunes, Google Play, and even Netflix. Keep in mind: to fully grasp the show you must see more than just one or two episodes. Any brony will tell you that some are better than others.
Aside from the show itself there are tons of great brony websites out there ranging from informative sites such as this one to social networks and forums to massive networks covering multiple media formats. You can also find bronies on all the major social media platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, Discord, etc.
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