• Editorial: Whatever Happened to the Everfree Forest?

    The Everfree Forest is an eldritch patch of woods just outside of Ponyville. A place where the pony world's laws of physics and biology are out to lunch. It's inhabited by all manner of dangerous monsters and full of magic plants. Only the brave or the foolish dare enter this place...

    ...in the first two seasons. 

    By season seven, it's just a forest with a few threatening animals and some magical artifacts in it. 

    How and why did the Everfree go from the most feared place in Equestria to a boring old forest? Are there any story possibilities for this place in future seasons? 

    Find out after the break.

    After seven seasons and a movie, it's easy to forget just how terrifying this place was back in the day. It's presented almost as if it's a Lovecraftian nightmare for the ponies of Equestria. Plants grow and the clouds move all on their own without any magic or manipulation. Ferocious beasts roam about inside. 

    When Zecora first appears, one of the reasons everypony's afraid of her is that she lives in this spooky forest all by herself. 

    This location is so alien, so frightening to our heroes, that they believe anyone who does something bad enough gets banished to the Everfree. Or, even worse, they're banished and then imprisoned inside the Everfree.

    Granted this only gets brought up twice and in moments of panic, but it still shows us that ponies do not want to go in there. 

    For some reason, Twilight thinks magic kindergarten is worse than this.

    And when we travel into the place, we're shown exactly why. 

    Most of the animals in the Everfree Forest are either predators or big/destructive enough to destroy an entire town. There's giant space bears snoozing in a cave, wooden wolves that can recover from total destruction like they're the Iron freaking Giant, and the always-hungry parasprites.

    There's also the cockatrice, which can turn ponies to stone just by staring at them. 

    An animal that can turn ponies to stone lives in this forest and does exactly that to anything it runs into. 

    "...everypony who's ever come in has never come out."
    -- Rainbow Dash. 

    Not even the plants are friendly. Something as simple as a flower can change you into a mockery of yourself overnight. There's no reason why any plant would have this as a defensive mechanism, it just screws up your body because it thinks that's funny. 

    Heart's Desire, another flower, causes cutie pox. That's a disease which covers a pony's body with cutie marks and forces them to do every special talent that comes with them. Up until Zecora came along, there was no cure for this. 

    Almost everything in the Everfree either wants you dead or wants to ruin your day/life. Mix that with unnatural weather patterns and you've got yourself a certified Forest of Doom. It's no wonder everyone's terrified of this place.

    But after season two, the forest loses just about all the menace it had. Ever since Pinkie's trip to the Mirror Pool, the forest hasn't been as mysterious or dangerous as it used to be. 

    In some ways, it's a bit fitting that Pinkie Pie is the pony that starts this trend. After all, she's the one who giggles at the ghosties. Anyone who laughs at scary things wouldn't be afraid to go for a walk in the woods.

    She's also a reality warper who can do practically anything but fly and use magic, but I'm sure that has nothing to do with it.

    She's not in there with the monsters. The monsters are in there with her.

    As for why the Everfree isn't seen as the scariest place in Equestria anymore, there are a couple of reasons. 

    The first one, of course, is that The Scariest Cave in Equestria exists. Can't very well treat a forest as the most terrifying spot in the world when a place with that name is around, can you?

    The other one is that the mane six have gone up against far worse things. After dealing with a centaur trying to steal all the magic in the world, an invading army of shapeshifters, timey-wimey shenanigans, and Discord, a spooky forest is child's play.

    Put another way, Applejack has to fight a chimera in the fire swamp every time she delivers a cartful of pies to some Cajun ponies. 

    I don't think she's going to be too bothered by anything the Everfree Forest can throw at her.

    Even Rarity's gotten over the Everfree. In Bridle Gossip, she faints when the others talk about how unnatural the forest is. Twice.

    In It isn't the Mane Thing About You, she walks right into the woods without hesitation and is having absolutely none of the spooky eyes' horseapples.

    "You think darkness is your ally? You merely adopted it. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn't see the light until I was already a mare, by then it was nothing to me but BLINDING!"

    So if the characters don't fear it anymore, and it's lost most of the mystery/danger it had, are there any story possibilities left for the Everfree Forest?

    Of course there are! 

    When I brought up this topic for an editorial, a colleague recommended that I check out the Ponyville Mysteries chapter books. There are a few things in these three (at the time of writing) novellas that would be great to include in a future episode.

    Note: If you have any interest in reading the Ponyville Mysteries book series and want to avoid spoilers, skip to the next bit of bold text.

    First up, we've got two new creatures in these books, both of which could easily make for a good episode.

    At the start of this editorial, I called the Everfree Forest a Lovecraftian nightmare. Whoever writes these books must have thought something similar, because the first beast we're talking about is basically a kid-friendly version of the Dunwich Horror.

    There aren't any safe-for-work images of the Dunwich Horror (and I do not recommend image searching it). So here's a picture of Twilight as a cute version of another Lovecraft character, Herbert West.

    This fantastic beast is called a bogle. The bogle's an invisible, hard to find creature that happens to be very picky when it comes to nests.

    In the first book, a bogle comes to Ponyville and takes up residence in the schoolhouse. It rearranges the classroom into a nest of books, desks, and chairs. While boggling the minds of both the students and Cheerilee, it also terrorizes poor Pipsqueak. Eventually, the cutie mark crusaders convince the bogle to return to the Everfree by making it the prettiest doggone nest you ever did see. 

    A bogle would make a very interesting challenge for the mane six. All kinds of mayhem can be caused by an invisible monster, along with a lot of confusion/slapstick comedy. Or some schadenfreude on Rarity's part, since bogles really like fabric.

    It could even work as an animal for Fluttershy to befriend. It's not a pooka like Harvey, but it could still lead to some fun scenes.

    The second creature to come out of this little series is a classic monster and would make an amazing Halloween/Nightmare Night episode.

    In The Tail of the Timberwolf, the titular timberwolf terrorizes the tiny town of Ponyville during the night. For some reason, the timberwolf only eats candy. It also only comes out during a full moon. The CMC, along with their new friend Lilymoon, investigate and soon discover that it's not just a timberwolf.

    It's a werepony.

    When the rest of the town decides to find the timberwolf and move it somewhere else and refuse to believe them, the CMC decide to act. With the help of Zecora, they find a cure. The crusaders narrow down the possible suspects to Pinkie Pie and Lilymoon's sister, Ambermoon.

    They set a trap for the werepony, using a long candy trail as bait.

    Then Twist comes along and eats the bait.

    And then Twist turns into a timberwolf.

    It turns out Twist's last name is actually Talbot. Who knew?

    I really shouldn't have to tell you why this would make a great episode.

    Twist is a friggin' werepony. 

    This needs to exist in animated form. 

    Moving on.

    Creatures aren't the only thing this book series introduces. There's a new plant in here, too, and it's a doozy.

    The Fear Fern is a plant that, when touched, gives someone's greatest fear physical form. Normally, only the poor sod who touched the Fern can see this. 

    Scootaloo has the bad luck to touch a new Super-Fern version of this thing. Not only can she see her greatest fear (the Olden Pony), but anyone she touches can also see it. 

    This idea would make for a good psychological episode, and it'd be interesting to see it happen to just about any character in the show. It can either be about facing and overcoming one's fears, or it can end things the same way the book did.

    Which is blasting the power of friendship into the physical manifestation of fear's face. 

    Either way, it's bound to be a fascinating look into a character's mind. 

    Like this, but minus the door and full-blown hallucination.

    This concludes the spoiler-y bit.

    Of course, creatures and plants aren't the only things that can come out the Everfree. Some science education can come out of it as well.

    It's been a long time since the show was able to have that "e/i" symbol stuck in the upper right-hand corner, but that doesn't mean it can't devote an episode to teaching some stuff.

    Since the Everfree Forest operates like the real world, instead of a magical one, it's a perfect opportunity for teaching kids science-y things. Things like how the weather works, plant biology, etc. Twilight's got a ton of lab equipment and stuff, I'm sure she could figure out how it all works. 

    And I'm sure she'd be thrilled to do something like this. Teaching the masses! Filling young minds with the joys of science! Ponies calling her egghead again! 

    This'll be great!

    Every science teacher I've ever had was like this. Every. Single. One.

    So what do you think? Do you miss the old scary Everfree Forest? Do you have any ideas on how to use it in a future episode? Do you want to see Book Horse talk about science?

    Let everybody know down in the comments. 

    algernon97 is worst pony.