A Pet Peeve · 6:34pm
Not sure anyone's going to read this but I felt like I'd mention one of my biggest pet peeves I've noticed as I've been reading fanfiction: Dropping blatant references to the show. Now, by this I don't mean things like "20% cooler" or calling Scootaloo a chicken, although those aren't very good to slap into your story like crazy either. I mean the tendency to refer to incidents from the show regardless of their importance.
There really isn't a hard and fast rule for when this annoys me. Some callbacks to the show are nice, and even expected. Heck, I'm shocked by how LITTLE the cast mentions having defeated Nightmare Moon and Discord, given that it's kind of a big thing. However, one case where it bothers me are when it happens so often it sounds like we're reading the script to a "clip show" episode on a TV show, minus the clips. If every other paragraph has your characters stating "Like the time that I <insert scene from the show here>", you should probably ease up on it a tad. One fic I've been reading that has that particularly bad is Past Sins. In a recent chapter I read, Twilight mentions having turned her parents into cactii. Ok, that's all well and good, it was a significant moment in her life, since she earned her cutie mark, got accepted into Celestia's school, and had a traumatic experience all at once. Then she proceeds to mention that event about 10 times throughout the chapter, not because of the trauma or anything, but as an off-hand example to something tangentially related. And that was far from the only reference to the show in that chapter.
The other way it can be used that really grinds my gears, is when the characters are recalling something of such minor importance that happened so long ago, that you'd swear they have photographic memories. One really bad example I saw, though I cannot remember which fic it was from, had another character mentioning Applejack's legs using the nicknames she gave them in one episode. I could possibly understand if Applejack had said it: They were the nicknames she gave after all. But she only mentions those nicknames ONCE, and it's not a big deal or anything. In real life, people don't tend to recall small things someone said months ago, not unless they're a crazy stalker or something.
So, I suppose what I'm saying is that when you add a reference to the show to your fic, it should be relevant enough to the plot that NOT mentioning it would change the scene entirely (I.E. don't have the characters use plot scenes as casual examples, make the earlier events a subject of the conversation if you have to add it), and make sure it's relevant enough to the character that they would actually be expected to remember such a thing (Though, having a scene in your fic play out just like a scene from the show and having none of the characters notice due to its irrelevance could be amusing).