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I'm going to start with inter-Mane stuff, but feel free to post about whichever character dynamics you like. Comments also sought. And should I maybe turn mine into a blog?

Twilight and Applejack are probably best friends. In the context of the group, it's something of an "officer and sergeant" thing - both are leader material, and in fact AJ would surely lead the group if Twilight wasn't around, but defers to her friend not because of her status (at least pre-Princess) but rather out of a sincere trust in her knowledge, intelligence and organisational and planning skills. Likewise Twilight deeply respects AJ's common sense, unflappability and way with ponies, as well as her formidable athleticism.

Outside of a mission/crisis context, this mutual respect manifests as an easy camaraderie that could quite possibly deepen to more if the two of them were suitably inclined. Both of them share a devotion to hard work, and juggle humility, quiet pride and fears of inadequacy. And both have older brothers they respect and younger siblings they take a parental role towards.

Conflict between the two is likely to spring from a clash of principles - both are quite stubborn. So if AJ's traditional values and beliefs butt up against Twilight's more modern, urban ones, perhaps. Both can also push themselves harder than any pony else too, so they might fight for each other's own good.

Key episodes: Applebuck Season, Princess Twilight Sparkle... they didn't actually get many, did they? A pity.

Twilight and Pinkie are probably the smartest two ponies in the group, but the way they apply their intelligence is almost completely different. While the former is an introvert who follows conventional logic, the latter is an extrovert who thinks diagonally and in spirals. It's only natural that they clash from time to time, because their thought processes and priorities are very different.

On the other hoof, there are factors which unite them too besides their intelligence. Both are altruists who seek to make the world a better place - Twilight on a large scale, especially after her promotion, and Pinkie on a more local one. And both fill each others needs in a way - Pinkie can make sure Twilight relaxes sometimes and help her socialize, and Twilight can keep Pinkie's train of thought more or less on the rails.

Key episodes: Feeling Pinkie Keen, Green Isn't our Colour, MMMstery on the Friendship Express, MLP Movie... Quite a few, come to think about it.

Twilight and Rainbow don't actually have much in common - the purest kind of jock/nerd dichotomy. Under ordinary circumstances, they likely wouldn't have become friends at all - and even pushed into it by circumstance, they're hardly the closest of the group. Rainbow's impatience and preference for simple, forceful solutions as opposed to Twilight's carefully thought-out plans doesn't help either.

On the other hand, though, that they move in separate spheres can draw them to each other. Twilight is the first pony Dash would come to with any "egghead problems", and she returned the favour when the new alicorn needed flying lessons. The key is a mutual respect for each other's excellence in their field of endeavour. And the fact that they're both natural prodigies who are still always striving to improve, while secretly feeling unworthy of their success sometimes... well, there are perhaps more similarities here than meet the eye. And hey - there's always Daring Do, right?

Key episodes: Testing Testing 1, 2, 3, Top Bolt

Twilight and Fluttershy, both being introverts who would rather spend their time with books or animals than other ponies, are another pair who don't naturally mingle unless as a group or seeking out each others' expertise. It's not that they dislike each other in any way - on the contrary, they consider each other very nice ponies doing very important jobs in society. It's just that neither of them are really the sort to seek each other out for a chat, and therefore they interact less with each other than they do with their more outgoing friends. On the bright side, they rarely disagree much either.

Key episodes: A Bird in the Hoof, Hooffields & McColts, A Health of Information

Twilight and Rarity were both born as unicorns - one in Ponyville who dreamed of Canterlot, and one in Canterlot who didn't give the first thought to places like Ponyville. It's only natural that the former would have a keen interest in the latter, and yet their friendship retains a touch of the casual to it. Perhaps Rarity did not wish to push too hard about Canterlot when Twilight was clearly glad to be in Ponyville, and perhaps Twilight had attracted enough social climbers as Celestia's student to be wary of ponies using her for social gain.

So they were just friends - there for each other when they needed another unicorn to talk to, or a pony with less of a small-town mindset. And even as Twilight rose in the world, Rarity mostly resisted jealousy and the urge to use her friend to promote herself, instead resolving to help shape her into the best princess she could be. Being known as a Princesses' friend was nice, of course - but being Twilight's friend was a much more valuable treasure.

Oh, and we can't forget Spike here - he's very important to both of them and them to him. Indeed, a disagreement over his welfare is one of the few things which could push them to outright conflict. (Another might be Rarity's feelings sometimes that Twilight doesn't appreciate what she's been given in life almost for free, while Twilight can find Rarity's idealization of her upper-class status a bit naive.)

Key episodes: Uhh... Friendship University? A rather under-served pair.

7167874 By all means, it would be great to see this as a blog. And while we already have an idea of the dynamic between Twilight and Spike there's still room to interpret how they compliment each other and what has brought them to blows. Same also goes for Starlight Glimmer, especially once she stopped being a student and became her own pony.

As for Pinkie Pie, outside of Twilight (since you already mentioned it) here are how her interactions with others in her immediate circle of friends might be defined:

Pinkie Pie and Applejack even before they knew they might be related had a lot in common. Both were earth ponies born to families of farmers (though Pinkie Pie was born and raised "Just outside of Ponyville" with the exact location remaining unspecified) and both had older siblings they both looked up and clashed with, as well as younger siblings they felt a need to look out for or stand up for. Of course the difference is that Pinkie still has her parents whereas Applejack had to grow up without them, though in turn Applejack is closer to her family while Pinkie is distant from them (on good terms but not automatically able to contact them if she wants to). They're both bakers, Pinkie more so than Applejack. And Applejack obviously knows Pinkie the most being a Ponyville native. But Pinkie Pie's nativity and often optimistic, carefree nature clashes considerably with Applejack's workaholic tendencies and more "grounded" world view. Both seem pretty much tied to Ponyville, but much like Twilight Applejack can get annoyed if she thinks Pinkie isn't taking things seriously enough. Pinkie, for her part, may think that Applejack worries too much and just wants her to smile and have fun. That's not to say Pinkie doesn't appreciate hard work though, she's a master in her own talents just like Applejack is.

Key episodes: Pinkie Apple Pie, Hearthbreakers, some of Feeling Pinkie Keen and Horse Play

Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash, the most unlikely of friends at first. Rainbow Dash seemed to regard Pinkie as an annoyance the most out of the mane six, and if not for their shared love of pranking she might have continued to view Pinkie solely as that. Pinkie Pie either never knew, or just felt more determined to get to Rainbow Dash because of that, seeming to especially value her friendship on many occasions. That being said, Pinkie has had her moments where even she can become annoyed with Rainbow's brash behavior or seemingly self-centered priorities, though it usually doesn't take much to convince her otherwise. Rainbow Dash in turn has learned to see Pinkie Pie as something other than just "random" but she can still get very easily annoyed by the latter's seemingly scatterbrained logic. She's also had the misfortune of being the only witness to Pinkie's darker side, though it seems it hasn't adversely affected their friendship. In turn, Pinkie has often been one of Rainbow's most loyal supporters and usually the first to want to know what the speedster is up to.

Key Episodes: Griffon the Brush Off, The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone, 28 Pranks Later, Daring Done?, Party of One

Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy, a very unusual friendship that may sadly be defined by one infamous moment where Pinkie's attempts to "help" Fluttershy overcome her stage fright only made things worse. It doesn't seem like Fluttershy took it too personally, though, since she and Pinkie Pie were still speaking when drafted to be the players for Ponyville's buckball team and seemed to sync well. If anything, Fluttershy was more annoyed by Pinkie's overprotective ways of her, treating her like a little sister despite the pegasus being older by a year. Pinkie Pie probably sees a lot of her youngest sister in Fluttershy, though she has seemed to back off on her protective tendencies upon realizing how assertive Fluttershy has become all on her own. Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie probably help push each other not to be consumed by their own worst tendencies, Fluttershy being able to get Pinkie to relax and Pinkie in turn able to coax Fluttershy to be more socially active.

Key Episodes: Buckball Season, Common Ground, Rainbow Roadtrip, Filli Vanilli (reluctantly), Griffon the Brush Off, Putting Your Hoof Down

Pinkie Pie and Rarity, probably the hardest to pin down considering Rarity tends to act the most like an adult and Pinkie Pie the most like a child. They do seem to get each other and are able to hang out together with no qualms, but it's likely that they only really know each other through being Ponyville natives. Rarity seems to be at times annoyed by Pinkie's antics, but at other times probably finds them a bit charming. Pinkie Pie in turn seems to respect Rarity's expertise, except when it clashes with her own perceived "expertise". There was a theory from a YouTube user that at least at first Rarity was pretending to tolerate Pinkie when she really couldn't stand her, based on how Rarity seemed to react whenever she was with Pinkie in the same scene. But I can't imagine Rarity would force herself to endure such a trial if it was really hurtful.

Key Episodes: Spice Up Your Life, Putting Your Hoof Down, Gift of the Maud Pie

Pinkie Pie and Spike, One time Pinkie was willing to let him be a color commentator with her for the Running of the Leaves, another time she came up with the nickname of "Spikey Wikey" that Rarity ran away with starting a season later. But then she interrogated him for information when she thought her friends were avoiding her, and got annoyed when he basically answered questions the way she would've. She kept her word on the gems, but it isn't clear that she ever apologized or if that really affected their friendship.

Key Episodes: Fall Weather Friends, Party of One, Owl's Well That Ends Well

Pinkie Pie and Starlight Glimmer, Maud Pie is what brought them together and allowed them to interact. Pinkie and Maud seem to have been the only non horned friends Starlight truly made early on. Starlight in turn became another voice of reason for Pinkie Pie. It's not much, but it counts for something. After all, a lot of Starlight's friendship were defined by having something in common with someone else, which is also what Maud had going for her.

Key Episodes: Rock Solid Friendship, The Maud Couple

And we move on to another same-tribe pair, Applejack and Pinkie. Of course, since Season 4 they've been family - a bond both take very seriously. In fact, taking some things - especially promises - very seriously is one thing that both of them shared before that. And while they weren't terribly close without the bond of kinship, they clearly had the mutual respect that ultimately formed between all of the Manes from the beginning, leaving little room for serious conflict. Can anyone think of occasions, actual or theoretical, when they found themselves in dispute?

Key episodes: Pinkie Apple Pie, Hearthbreakers

Another friendly but not very close or dynamic relationship is Applejack and Fluttershy. Early on AJ is nurturing towards the quieter mare and Flutters appreciates it (but might also resent it a teeny bit too). As she grows braver, they form a good but rare team who can mix hard and soft methods well. Besides the aforementioned resentment, conflict between generally comes from issues between one's precious crops and the other's beloved animals.

Key episodes: Bats!, Viva Las Pegasus, Sounds of Silence

One factor in the lack of focus on both the above two and her friendship with Twilight is the frequent use of AJ with her two main "rivals" in the group. While both are dynamics which can rile up the usually calm and composed AJ, they are also each distinct in their own way.

Applejack and Rainbow clash because they're similar (except where they're different) - and not just because they share an actress (although kudos to her for talking to herself so much)! AJ and RD are the most tomboyish and athletic of the group, and both proud and competitive in their own way (even if Rainbow takes it to greater extremes). A friendly rivalry between them is only natural. What can turn it unfriendly sometimes is Rainbow's hatred of losing and AJ's dislike of Rainbow's lackadaisical attitude and lack of a work ethic. (Possibly some tribal pride issues, too, if one reads under the surface.)

Key episodes: Fall Weather Friends, Castle Mane-ia, Non-Compete Clause.

But AJ's most-focused relationship is with the pony she's almost opposite too (except where they're similar). Applejack and Rarity embody contrasting concepts - function and form, low and high culture, contentment and ambition, honesty and a silver tongue. What they want out of life and think are important are so different, it's no wonder in a way that writers find throwing them at each other so easy - but I do think it's kind of overused to the cost of their other possible pairings.

Of course they also match in some ways too. Both of them are ridiculous hard workers who'll wear themselves out to meet impossible commitments - and they don't generally consider sharing the burden. Both are among the more mature, adult members of the group - I personally place them as the eldest. Both are relative normal ponies bi their tribe's standards - above average in many ways, but not legendary prodigies or possessed of strange powers.

And lastly, both were seemingly born and raised in Ponyville, as opposed to their friends who are all immigrants. And both dreamed of leaving it behind for their idealised image of the big city - the difference is that AJ got her dream young and realised it wasn't what she really wanted. I wonder how much of their beef with each other comes from that - AJ threw away something very much like Rarity's dream and said it was no good. And they have to have known each other, in a town that size with a one-room schoolhouse... but for all that the show returned to the two again and again, it sadly never went there.

Key episodes: Look Before You Sleep, Simple Ways, Made in Manehattan, Honest Apple... and that's not even all of them. Seriously, give somepony else a chance!

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I'll get to Spike and Starlight in time - just focusing on the Manes first.

And since Pinkie is next, I'll use your's as a jumping off point. First, the one I did already.

Pinkie Pie and Applejack even before they knew they might be related had a lot in common. Both were earth ponies born to families of farmers (though Pinkie Pie was born and raised "Just outside of Ponyville" with the exact location remaining unspecified) and both had older siblings they both looked up and clashed with, as well as younger siblings they felt a need to look out for or stand up for. Of course the difference is that Pinkie still has her parents whereas Applejack had to grow up without them, though in turn Applejack is closer to her family while Pinkie is distant from them (on good terms but not automatically able to contact them if she wants to). They're both bakers, Pinkie more so than Applejack. And Applejack obviously knows Pinkie the most being a Ponyville native. But Pinkie Pie's nativity and often optimistic, carefree nature clashes considerably with Applejack's workaholic tendencies and more "grounded" world view. Both seem pretty much tied to Ponyville, but much like Twilight Applejack can get annoyed if she thinks Pinkie isn't taking things seriously enough. Pinkie, for her part, may think that Applejack worries too much and just wants her to smile and have fun. That's not to say Pinkie doesn't appreciate hard work though, she's a master in her own talents just like Applejack is.

Key episodes: Pinkie Apple Pie, Hearthbreakers, some of Feeling Pinkie Keen and A Royal Problem

Mostly good points, although they don't seem to clash as much as you'd think - I feel AJ decided a while back that expecting Pinkie to be serious like her would be like expecting a rooster to lay eggs. I also highlighted some odd points that could use clarifying.

Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash, the most unlikely of friends at first. Rainbow Dash seemed to regard Pinkie as an annoyance the most out of the mane six, and if not for their shared love of pranking she might have continued to view Pinkie solely as that. Pinkie Pie either never knew, or just felt more determined to get to Rainbow Dash because of that, seeming to especially value her friendship on many occasions. That being said, Pinkie has had her moments where even she can become annoyed with Rainbow's brash behavior or seemingly self-centered priorities, though it usually doesn't take much to convince her otherwise. Rainbow Dash in turn has learned to see Pinkie Pie as something other than just "random" but she can still get very easily annoyed by the latter's seemingly scatterbrained logic. She's also had the misfortune of being the only witness to Pinkie's darker side, though it seems it hasn't adversely affected their friendship. In turn, Pinkie has often been one of Rainbow's most loyal supporters and usually the first to want to know what the speedster is up to.

Key Episodes: Griffon the Brush Off, The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone, 28 Pranks Later, Daring Done?, Party of One

Pinkie does seem to look up to her quite a bit - I mean, she treasures all her friends, but perhaps she realises Rainbow wants adulation the most? She'll happily play cheering section - perhaps too happily, given Rainbows family history. And looking at the eps above, they're probably the two ponies most likely to rush off on an adventure.

Oh, and you've missed a key ep - Secrets and Pies.

Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy, a very unusual friendship that may sadly be defined by one infamous moment where Pinkie's attempts to "help" Fluttershy overcome her stage fright only made things worse. It doesn't seem like Fluttershy took it too personally, though, since she and Pinkie Pie were still speaking when drafted to be the players for Ponyville's buckball team and seemed to sync well. If anything, Fluttershy was more annoyed by Pinkie's overprotective ways of her, treating her like a little sister despite the pegasus being older by a year. Pinkie Pie probably sees a lot of her youngest sister in Fluttershy, though she has seemed to back off on her protective tendencies upon realizing how assertive Fluttershy has become all on her own. Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie probably help push each other not to be consumed by their own worst tendencies, Fluttershy being able to get Pinkie to relax and Pinkie in turn able to coax Fluttershy to be more socially active.

Key Episodes: Buckball Season, Common Ground, Rainbow Roadtrip, Filli Vanilli (reluctantly), Griffon the Brush Off, Putting Your Hoof Down

It's pretty amazing that Andrea can play both the most introverted and the most extroverted of the six. And it's a combination that can definite go wrong sometimes - but as one thing they both have in common is being perhaps the nicest of the six, there's usual plenty of room to recover.

Pinkie Pie and Rarity, probably the hardest to pin down considering Rarity tends to act the most like an adult and Pinkie Pie the most like a child. They do seem to get each other and are able to hang out together with no qualms, but it's likely that they only really know each other through being Ponyville natives. Rarity seems to be at times annoyed by Pinkie's antics, but at other times probably finds them a bit charming. Pinkie Pie in turn seems to respect Rarity's expertise, except when it clashes with her own perceived "expertise". There was a theory from a YouTube user that at least at first Rarity was pretending to tolerate Pinkie when she really couldn't stand her, based on how Rarity seemed to react whenever she was with Pinkie in the same scene. But I can't imagine Rarity would force herself to endure such a trial if it was really hurtful.

Key Episodes: Spice Up Your Life, Putting Your Hoof Down, Gift of the Maud Pie

Interesting - I hadn't heard of such a theory. It's possible they did have some friction when Pinkie first tried to befriend her - actually, that could have made a nice flashback ep like When the Apple Lies.

One notable point is that the two of them can be said to be the groups two social experts - but said expertise comes in very different flavours.

7168061 Well, since you're asking for clarification on the bolded parts.

Out of all the mane six, Applejack is the most likely to know Pinkie Pie from the start and know how she works. Applejack was the one who offered a layman's perspective for the "Pinkie Sense" when Twilight was still baffled by it. As for "A Royal Problem" that was more a subplot, but Applejack was repeatedly annoyed by Pinkie Pie's special effects messing up her set pieces, especially confetti and the burning marshmallow. And that alone proves that they can clash directly instead of indirectly. But Applejack seemed for the longest time to be the one least bothered by Pinkie's antics.

Interesting - I hadn't heard of such a theory.

It was from YouTuber DagerYamer, who if you know him for anything it's probably the "My Little Disney" PMVs and the "Saturday Morning Ponies" skits featured at BronyCon. That theory was actually his very first one.

And I think we can agree that TwiPie and RariJack got way overplayed, to the point where the latter noticeably hit decay in Season 7 and everyone got sick of them, whereas RariPie, RariDash, TwiJack, and PinkieShy were rarely (if ever) used.

Just three left, so let's do them all in one post.

Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy, our two pegasi, are the only pair confirmed to be of prior acquaintance, and although said relationship seemed shallow to me early on it eventually became undeniable that they were friends in their youth in Cloudsdale. Still, we know little of the details and origins of the relationship, leaving much to the imagination.

It's a good thing they have that going for them, because while previous same-tribe pairs had presumably tribal values to connect them, Flutters is a living exception to the stereotype of pegasi as a bold warrior race. She doesn't even live in the sky and rarely flies, while Rainbow rarely touches the ground if she can help it. Initially, it seemed like a similar dynamic to Rainbow and Pinkie, but them being close before this recolours Rainbow's early frustration with Flutter's opposing nature. (Honestly, they're almost as opposite as AJ and Rarity - Twilight and Pinkie don't quite form a third set, though.)

So what drew this unlikely pair together? Was it connected to how they got their cutie marks? Does it reveal some hidden side of them? Or were they just, like, neighbours or classmates or something? What do you think?

Key episodes: The Cutie Mark Chronicles, Hurricane Fluttershy, Flutter Brutter, Daring Doubt

Rainbow and Rarity are next - the two the show spent a whole episode telling us don't really have anything in common. Problem was, by focusing too much on their different tastes, they missed what they do have in common - they're both highly ambitious and image-focused ponies who intend to shine across all Equestria sooner rather than later. And they enjoy bringing out the best in others, whether as a designer or a coach.

Now that said, their differences in tastes do probably matter more when it comes to interaction - so it is likely they don't have that much to do with each other one-to-one. But still, looking at this list I do wonder if there aren't better examples of the Friends Who Never Hang among the Mane 6. I suppose it takes two personalities like theirs's to fall out so dramatically over it, though - another similarity!

Key episodes: Sonic Rainboom, Rarity investigates, End in Friend

We finish like we started, with a pair of subtly implied best friends with the potential for more - Fluttershy and Rarity. Close since early on, the unicorn is the only one of the Mane's extroverts with a soft enough touch to draw out the timid pegasus without scaring her off. Both are the most feminine and conventionally beautiful of the Manes, both work demanding jobs far over reasonable hours, and even their Elements are a close match.

Of course, that doesn't mean they can't have differences. Rarity may love Opal in particular, but animals in general are far too messy - and Flutters doesn't quite get why Rarity wants everypony's eyes on her all the time. And of course, neither of them are a straight speaker exactly, so they can get themselves a bit tangled in knots. But in the end they deeply enjoy each others company, and that's good enough.

Key episodes: Green Isn't Your Color, Putting Your Hoof Down, Castle Mane-ia, Filli Vanilli, Fake It 'Til You Make It... aside from the first they're not so much the main focus though.

7168131
I think you may be thinking of a different episode - nether of those ponies was in A Royal Problem.

It's true that if Rarity initially avoided Pinkie, AJ would be the first to get to know her.

I didn't see TwiPie as too overdone - certainly not Rarijack levels. And Raridash had a surprising number of stories, even if one of them was about how they never got any stories. But the rest of those certainly needed more.

7168150 Oh, I was thinking of "Horse Play", sorry.

Also, the only RariDash episodes I can think of directly are Sonic Rainboom, Rarity Investigates!, and The End in Friend.

7168156
Indeed - but how many of the other pairs you listed have three?

7168131

And I think we can agree that TwiPie and RariJack got way overplayed, to the point where the latter noticeably hit decay in Season 7 and everyone got sick of them, whereas RariPie, RariDash, TwiJack, and PinkieShy were rarely (if ever) used.

I can definitely agree with Rarijack; had it been toned down, I'd think I might have actually liked it a bit. But with the amount of spotlight it got, especially in EG, it definitely soured my opinion on the ship to the point where I kinda despise it now. TwiPie didn't feel like it was used all that much in my opinion, but then again, I recently got back to watching ponies and didn't watch them all in order.

This is more Equestria girls oriented, but I think I would've like to see Human Twilight bonding with the Mane 7 (excluding Sunset, we've seen plenty of that) in specials. She seems to hold more ground with Fluttershy and Applejack, but they barely had their moments together even since Friendship Games.

7168169 I think EQG in general needed to focus more on The Rainbooms and less on Sunset Shimmer and Sci-Twi. By the time it finally got around to doing so it only ended up proving that the characters were underdeveloped and one-dimensional versions of their pony counterparts, with Sci-Twi as the only exception and Sunset as the undisputed franchise mascot. But one good character does not a good franchise make.

7168194
True. If we were to compare Sunset to the actual, OG Mane 6 and Starlight, she is majorly undeveloped. We know the goals, their pasts, even their families, but we can't say the same for Sunset Shimmer. What goal does she even have? The writers kept on dancing around it like she would live in the human world forever without major problems, like the statue possibly breaking because the link between the worlds is getting weaker with magic leaking in, the portal becoming unstable, or her meeting with a human counterpart.

HapHazred
Group Admin

I feel like Rarity and Applejack have a very strange evolution as a duo. They start out clearly antagonistic, with Applejack struggling to reconcile her own need for control with Rarity imposing her very superficial values of appearance and behaviour onto her (Look Before You Sleep) and responding aggressively as a result, but this outright antagonism is pretty much annihilated once Rarity straight up yeets her major season one character flaw (a very ugly superficial deal) and then they effectively just become highly similar characters, but with radically different flavours. They're both hard-working, embrace a form of traditional values which forms their comfort zone and get uncomfortable when removed from that zone, and obviously exist in the same social sphere (that being the main cast).

For that reason I personally feel that the 'friction' between them becomes similarly superficial, with them typically arguing over relatively trivial things (Trade Ya, that one where they're on the boat, and a few other minor appearances elsewhere, off the top of my head). This isn't necessarily bad; in many ways, a very skin-deep level of friction is as interesting as a deep-rooted flaw in their relationship, but I do find it rather curious that the two characters that appear to be the most opposite are potentially the most similar, in a sense (I could argue that other characters are more similar in other ways, but I think that's a debate for another time perhaps).

Similarly, I'm low-key fascinated by Rainbow and Fluttershy's relationship, since I think it bounces around all over the place depending on where each of the characters are mentally in their devellopment. We know Rainbow was bullied and teased as a child; we know she was arrogant and loudmouthed as a younger mare, and we know she gradually becomes more mature and slowly improves her ability to manage her many, many insecurities. Fluttershy by contrast we know to have been physically weak (literally couldn't even fly properly) as a child, amazingly shy and quiet as a young adult, and appears to have become somewhat relaxed in her own easily startleable nature as she grows as a character. Their friendship, despite being the longest shown in the show, appears also to be one of the most mysterious and confusing, and to me most open to interpretation. Was Rainbow friends with Fluttershy because, like her, she was also ostracised by the other children? Was Fluttershy only really following Rainbow along because she was too shy not to? Did Rainbow Dash move to Ponyville because that's where her only consistent friend (Gilda notwithstanding for some reason) was? Despite them being radically different in a much deeper way than Applejack and Rarity, they're also characters whose conflicts are rooted in insecurity, but how they overcome them strikes me as vastly different, as Rainbow rails against her own inner weaknesses and struggles and thrashes against it, whereas Fluttershy... doesn't. Or at least, not as much. They both take baby steps, but Rainbow would much rather take leaps and bounds, whereas Fluttershy, left to her own devices, wouldn't step at all.

It paints a very curious and complex picture of a friendship, and I for one struggle to get a bead on them.

7168357
So you think S1 Rarity was a lot more different to her later self than Applejack was, and that "defanged" their relationship?

And one reason Flutterdash is confusing because I'm fairly sure them being friends in the past is a retcon.

HapHazred
Group Admin

7168744 Well yes, to a degree, I think they were defanged, but I don't think that's all that bad, for a few reasons. For one, I like the vibe that some of the main cast are more closely aligned than others, and a perpetual, light, superficial ribbing can be indicative of a stronger friendship between two characters. I also think that it makes sense for the characters to evolve from outright antagonism as we see most famously in Look before you Sleep to a gentler, more established friendship that changes as their own character growth evolves. Like I mentioned earlier, in many ways only having surface level arguments is as interesting as a deep, intractable opposition of character, since it highlights (to me) the similarities between them as well as a great many other things.

Whilst I perhaps do suspect that the extent of Rainbow and Fluttershy's relationship when they were younger is tweaked and expanded on to a degree, the fact that it existed strikes me as rather established, given the subtext of Sonic Rainboom combined with Cutie Mark Chronicles, which are both season 1 episodes. They're clearly in the same class/school, with the same bullies Fluttershy later stands up to in SR, and Fluttershy displays strong knowledge about the Rainboom. Obviously it could be argued that they didn't have a strong awareness of each other at the time, but I think it's a bit of a stretch that they didn't at least know of each other (particularly in Fluttershy's case; in fact I believe it's stated outright that she did), which still opens up curious questions about how that informs their relationship later on.

I do however think that it's consistent with the themes of the show that if they were friends, they would have had a very poor understanding of the relationship, since this would be in line with their behaviour in season 1 and the context of that season.

7169113

For one, I like the vibe that some of the main cast are more closely aligned than others, and a perpetual, light, superficial ribbing can be indicative of a stronger friendship between two characters.

Now, I see this as more of an Appledash thing, with Rarijack being based in a more substantial difference of values. But I do think just being friends for a long time weakened the antagonism there - from simply writing the other off as a dirty hick/ stuck-up snob to a more mature "I still have no idea why she cares about the ridiculous things she does, but she's a good enough pony deep down".

They're clearly in the same class/school, with the same bullies Fluttershy later stands up to in SR, and Fluttershy displays strong knowledge about the Rainboom. Obviously it could be argued that they didn't have a strong awareness of each other at the time, but I think it's a bit of a stretch that they didn't at least know of each other (particularly in Fluttershy's case; in fact I believe it's stated outright that she did),

Oh obviously they knew each other at least vaguely, but given how they behaved towards each other vaguely seemed more likely than anything else. And it wasn't school, it was summer camp - the place for fleeting first meetings, as AJ and Rara will tell you.

HapHazred
Group Admin

7169119

"I still have no why idea she cares about the ridiculous things she does, but she's a good enough pony deep down"

I would personally argue that that is a sign of a superficial source of conflict, since the disagreements only run on the surface level and are accompanied by a strong understanding of the other's person. By contrast, I'd argue AppleDash features a very different dynamic, where they're superficially similar-ish (I say 'ish' because it's clear to anyone who spends more than five minutes looking at the characters that they do in fact have a variety of different interests), Rainbow is a fundamentally self-centered character who either focuses on her own insecurities and life goals whilst typically being dismissive of others whereas Applejack, whilst having insecurities and moments where that translates to self-centeredness, is typically oriented towards other characters and seems far more invested in them. In FWF, Rainbow plays dirty because she wants to win, Applejack then plays dirty because she wants Rainbow to stop cheating. Rainbow loses her shit because her pet has to hibernate which she can't cope with in TFTM, whereas in OAB Applejack loses her shit because she's unable to fulfil her perceived obligations to the town and can't cope with it. In Wonderbolt Academy, Rainbow takes a stand because she doesn't want to be involved with a bad organisation that rewards stuff she doesn't like, but in stuff like that one where Flim and Flam are selling fake medicine, Applejack takes a stand because it's harming others.

That's not to say that either one doesn't do the opposite from time to time; Rainbow has on occasion focused less on herself and more on others (Scootaloo being a recurring example), but I think that's the overall trend. Their personalities and motivations can align, but I don't believe they're on the same foundation. By contrast, Rarity also tends to focus on others, and translates her focusing on the wellbeing of others into personal success, which is similar to how Applejack translates things like the safety of others into personal contentment; Applejack and Rarity tend to think the same thing, but with different flavour text, if you will, and its the flavour text that causes friction.

7169143
Hmm... so AppleDash looks more similar than it is, but Rarijack is more similar than it looks?

Still, sometimes it's the similar ones you can't stand the most.

HapHazred
Group Admin

7169144 I mean, in my opinion. Any kind of analysis that has to go this deep into the fundamentals of a character, none of which are explicitly stated, will involve some measure of personal interpretation, so ones mileage will inevitably vary. I do stand by my opinion, though.

I personally prefer the more multifaceted and complex friction between Rainbow and Applejack (as my written stories will clearly indicate) but I do think there is something to be said for a relationship between two similar characters who do just get on legitimately well together (superficial friction aside) having a charm that, evidently, a fair few have found engaging.

7169152
Whereas I like the fairly frictionless bond of best friends between Applejack and Twilight - admittedly not the best basis for pure romantic drama, but that just means you need to be creative. Romantically, I just can't see the potential for more than a fling between AJ and Rarity, and neither of them seem like the type. I thought AppleDash was more plausible, but now having read your analysis I'm not so sure...

Ah well, what matters is friendship - if they want romance, they can always find it outside their circle.

HapHazred
Group Admin

7169159 In terms of romantic shipping it adds a new layer of context. You'll hear loads of folks spouting various theories about what makes a good pairing and stuff, but ultimately all that matters in a conventional romantic pairing story is that both characters are invested and motivated in pursuing/being with the other. There's no real basis in 'opposites attract' being better or 'they're too different' being a basis for something not working, in my opinion.

In my case, I frequently and periodically write romantic AppleDash stories because it's fairly easy to imagine scenarios where both characters are motivated to be with the other romantically. I can imagine Rainbow being attracted to Applejack for selfish reasons, and I can see Applejack being attracted to Rainbow because she might be an outlet for her own insecurities, or Rainbow being dependant on Applejack for stability and support and Applejack becoming enamoured with Rainbow's personal drive and dedication; all concepts I personally find very attractive to write about and enjoy personally. These things are not rooted in what makes them similar or dissimilar; it becomes based in how we interpret the characters wants and desires, and conflict tends to arise from how the characters aim to fulfil those desires, whether selfish or selfless.

But mine is not the only interpretation. It's just the best one. This differs a bit from friendship pairings, where I feel things are a lot more flexible, and it's a bit easier to be friends with someone but not necessarily have to feel like you're committing to sharing your life and highly intimate existence with them.

EDIT: You folks will have to forgive me rambling about my favourite pairing. I've just finished an AppleDash contest and it's still very fresh in my mind.

7169168
Interesting. I guess i don't read that much pure romance anyway, let alone write it - I come at shipping more from a "can I see them married down the line?" perspective. And until recently, I didn't pair the Mane 6 with each other at all - partly because none of them seemed motivated to be any more than friends .

HapHazred
Group Admin

7169170 I mean, that's fair enough. There's a strong argument that, as they're presented in the show, the characters aren't even that suited to a long lasting relationship. I personally view the potential for a very long lasting relationship as you describe it being tied to whether their wants and desires will continue to align with being romantically involved with the other.

I'm a very simple man, ultimately, and I feel that people, both fictional and real, tend to do what they want to do when left to their own devices, and so if two characters continue to find reasons to want to be together, then I'll buy it. At least on paper.

7169173
Well, I guess since I have no real experience with romance, I just consider their friendship strength and closeness as well as how well I think they could stand living together - which puts Rarijack right out. Love is cool and all, but being together requires compatibility too, at least as long as one will only change so far, and I don't see either of them changing that much. And that's before even considering kids...

HapHazred
Group Admin

7169186 I don't typically find myself standing in Rarijack's corner (so forgive me if I'm doing it wrong), but the common argument against it is pretty much as you say; that they're not compatible and constantly bickering.

Whilst it may be true that they bicker a lot, I don't necessarily think that's the end of it. Common stuff I've seen have been that they find excitement and constant personal challenge in being around someone whose lifestyle is so different, which provides a heady sense of novelty. One could also imagine that, since they're actually rather similar past the surface level (I believe, and I stand by that belief), that they'd often be on the same page. They both admire generosity and hard work, which is certainly something they would rally around as well. In some interpretations (which I'd disagree with, but there you go) they even enjoy a little struggle.

In my mind, all that it would take to cement a long-lasting relationship is simply for them to enjoy the things that appeals to them more than they'd find the clashing lifestyles and traditions irritating. That's pretty much all the compatibility people need, I find. Nobody is without things that makes them a little irritating now and then; it's whether there's good stuff that makes the irritations and conflicts worth getting over. Twilight and Applejack might very rarely get on each others nerves (that I can recall...), but that might not mean that there's much they find exciting or enticing about being with the other. Does Applejack really want a source of stability, and does the perpetual learner Twilight want a conventional partner who doesn't challenge her? Maybe; maybe not. Mileage will vary.

I'm not trying to get you to suddenly enjoy shipping or Rarijack or AppleDash or whatever, but I do believe there's a lot of weird logic that flies around when it comes to shipping, and I find it rather interesting to talk about what I've seen.

7169193

Common stuff I've seen have been that they find excitement and constant personal challenge in being around someone whose lifestyle is so different, which provides a heady sense of novelty.

I suppose this is the key - do they enjoy it or just suffer it? I tend to split it down the middle and say they find it invigorating in small doses - which works for friendship or a fling, but not spending your lives together. Oh, it's not impossible if they somehow fell head-over-heels for each other, but I don't see that happening without magic or something - the surface clashes maintain a degree of distance between them.

HapHazred
Group Admin

7169195

the surface clashes maintain a degree of distance between them.

Well that can vary; a clash indicates a level of proximity (they have to be close enough to the other to clash in the first place), and if it gets resolved (as it usually does in the show) then that also shows proximity (since they know enough about the other to figure out how to resolve the problem). What I'd argue it indicates is effort; if the characters disagree and bicker lots, then it simply represents an effort to overcome, compromise, and tolerate in order to enjoy the good bits of the relationship.

But you are correct; it changes the context dramatically if one interprets them as enjoying the differences or enjoying the relationship in spite of them. This is why we generally come back to me ranting about interpretation and context, and also why there are such a vast amount of different pairings that rely on different interpretations and points of view, not to mention preferences.

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