Greetings hens and gentlegriffons! We Are Borg here with a gathered analysis of none other than Gabriella the Griffon and everything about her; this adorable aerial predator. I mean this griffon might just be the best character to be introduced in season 6. I’ll cover her design, personality, what makes her tick, her stint as a Mary Sue, and the minds behind her.
Please join me below for animated gifs, tattoos, death hugs, silliness, and a deeper look into Gabby than you thought possible.
I’d like to start off by saying I hope at some point parts of this article become irrelevant, factually incorrect, or just plain wrong. Why? Well, as a member of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Gabby has a high chance of returning to the screen, just like Babs Seed. Therefore, we can only assume that her character would become more developed and that much more fantastic, leaving this article in need of an update.
But for now, let’s talk about the Gabby we know. Gabby was first mentioned at a Hasbro press conference at the 2016 Toy Fair. During the closed-door event, an animatic was shown to the press of Gabby trying to get her cutie mark. At the time it was very open-ended as to whether or not griffons could get cutie marks, leaning more towards the “yes they could” side. Sneaky marketers!
Fast forward 6 months and there she is, Gabriella, at about 3 minutes into the episode “The Fault in Our Cutie Marks”. The eagle-eyed griffon is first spotted by the CMC on top their clubhouse as if summoned by their fate-tempting conversation. Right away we see that Gabby isn’t like any other griffon that we’ve seen in the show. In a word, cuter. Let’s break it down…
Gabbybetes is a real thing
Character design is an important part of every starring character. Equestria isn’t so much a cartoon world as it is a fantasy realm, borrowing from mythologies from our world to expand the show’s lore with its own unique twist. It’s the twist that helps make Friendship is Magic so fun to watch and frankly, fun to write editorials about. So far in the show Griffons are portrayed very similarly with other Greek mythology based portrayals: The head, wings, and talons of an eagle on its forelegs and the body and tail of a lion. Gabby starts off by breaking this base definition, as well as deviating from the show’s own established design of griffons. Gabby has a rounder face, three eye reflections inside of rounder eyes, and a few more curves than angles everywhere else. She’s not the hunter, beast, or creature of the divine you’ve seen and read about elsewhere. She’s adorable!
Bully in training
So I’m going to back up and eat my words a little as there’s an easy explanation as to why she doesn’t look like any griffon we’ve seen: She looks like a young griffon, but not anywhere near as young as Gilda up there. It is not just a stage of life we’ve not yet seen in the show, it’s really not one defined by anyone out there, as far as griffons go. Just try and do a search on the internet for a picture of a young or adolescent griffon. You’ll be at it a while. Or, just like people, Gabby isn’t really that young but just has a baby face.
That telescope is sooo big
That eye shimmer! Full of hopes, dreams, excitement. Gabby is like that all the time. It’s a part of her character and personality. Babyface or not, she’s not a child though. She’s obviously come of age in her culture; she’s unsupervised, has the important job of an international mail carrier, and is more than capable in a variety of skills. A vast variety, really. We’ll touch on that more in a second, but first, let’s delve deeper into Gabby.
Excited is the first thing we notice about Gabby, but excited is a symptom, a symptom of passion. Passion is one of two things that drive Gabby in everything she does. Passion is the difference between finding the answer to one’s existential crisis and whatever it is that gummy does...
Yeah….I suppose that’s the threshold for sentience in Equestria: The ability to work past one’s ennui. And it’s more likely passion, not an occupational duty, that drove Gabby across the world to the middle of Equestria to find a pony to help her get a cutie mark. It might also be passion that makes Gabby, a creature not of Equestria, so comfortable with permanent butt marks that’ll cover 8% of her body (I dare you to calculate that), but more than likely that’s a lack of follow through on consideration of the consequences. You know, like the 25% of people who regret getting their tattoo (fact source) …
Yikes! Not sure how tattooing works on fur. Anyway, Gabby is pretty counter-griffon culture. She’s being a rebel by not acting like a rebel, that is, every griffon in Griffonstone. I’ll pause here for a second to talk about the number one descriptor for Gabby that was thrown around after the episode aired. I’m talking about the dreaded moniker of ‘Mary Sue’. With her ability to perform or accomplish anything with surprising ability, many were quick to crown her the epitome of bad writing, but there’s a few problems with this...
Mary Sue like Nyx
...Starting with the definition. Until a scholarly and reputable source, such as a dictionary, defines Mary Sue, the definition differs based on who is defining it. Even TVTropes admits there is no set definition, though Gabby mostly fits what they describe. Since this a production television episode by more than one person a self-insert by the authors would be very hard to prove, so we’ll skip that part. Mary Sue's are defined as physically attractive, and as I mentioned earlier, she is designed unlike every other griffon to be cuter. Another part of the definition, depending on the source of said definition, is how likable the character is to the main protagonists; in our case, Scootaloo ends up pouring her heart out with how connected to Gabby she is and goes above and beyond to help Gabby in her quest. Gabby also has an unusual and exotic backstory, also part of the TVTropes definition, as she comes from a far off kingdom, an unusual species for Equestria, and doesn't fit into her defined culture. Most definitions actually do specify the Mary Sue is indeed good or amazing at almost everything they do to an easily identifiable, unnatural, and hard to believe way. This is something the CMCs call out in the episode’s song itself as "frightening". It is at this point, during the song, when Gabby doesn't have any faults at all, at least none that weren't purposely added to make her appear more endearing i.e. hyperactive, talks a lot, etc. It is at this point in the show she is a Mary Sue by several internet provided definitions. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and can build boats...it must be a Mary Sue...
Not so much the wrong song as the right song.
But the song ends and episode continues and we learn flaws do exist. One of them might be her obsession with her haunches and those of ponies. She’s not good at lying and she’s not good at friendship despite being passionate about it. Kind of like a certain book worm unicorn used to be. To be fair, it’s not like she’s had a lot of practice. Also, honestly, she’s probably good at everything because she has thumbs. Though, by that argument spike should be more useful than he is. By the way, that boat up there is the same one from the episode “Pony Point of View”.
Moving along, Gabby shows some flaws in social norms and interactions. It’s good that she got up and out of
But what else is inside that predator turkey besides passion? It’s her need to help others. It’s her friendship, kindness, and generosity that she gives so freely. Her choice to be self-sacrificing. Her compassion. That’s right, her passion for compassion. I’m not saying she’s a saint, or a born again alicorn, but nearly everything she does, she does for others, even when she’s far from home on a personal quest. And she’s compassionate enough to help others with as much passion as it takes to travel around the world to find one’s self.
And it’s more than what we see in the episode which makes her that way…
Behind the Scenes
Josh Haber, Meghan McCarthy, and Ed Valentine all had a hand in this episode, and each has written some great episodes for Friendship is Magic. Haber gave us big, epic premieres and finales. Meghan McCarthy is the queen of existential crisis episodes such as Lesson Zero and Party of One. And Ed has experience with the CMC. It’s a stellar trio that produced one of the finest CMC episodes of the show. And it wasn’t an episode without the well-written heart clutching feels from Scootaloo and the hyperactive Gabby and her quest to find her purpose.
It was great that Erin Mathews could return from her uncredited role as Little Strongheart to be Gabby. She’s a veteran voice actress who gave a great recording for a one shot (hopefully not) character. Still didn’t get to voice a pony though. Maybe she’ll voice a villain in the upcoming season 7 now that we are slowly defeating and reforming all the ones we have.
In conclusion, Gabby ended up being a well-rounded character and a super huggable, fluffy griffon, with hopes, dreams, and struggles we can all relate to. She taught us that a participation ribbon is all we really need to fulfill ourselves. Just kidding! She taught us that regardless of how good you are at something, what you feel good doing should drive your passion, determine your purpose, and shape your destiny. And in Gabby, it’s her passion for compassion. Until we see her again, we can only wish her luck in her mission of a glorious Griffonstone gentrification so great, generous and gratifying it’ll genuinely germinate the goodwill of griffons for generations.
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Update: Title changed as part of EQD experiment related on survey results.