• M.A. Larson Did an My Little Pony AMA on Reddit - The Answers!

    M.A. Larson hopped on Reddit the other day for an AMA all about his work on My Little Pony in particular. He answered a ton of interesting questions about production and his work on the show over the years.

    I went ahead and extracted all the questions and answers for easy viewing. Including cutting some of the clutter in questions (but not answers). Check it all out below!

    Q: I was just curious what your feelings were towards not getting to write Season 8 Episode 11 Molt Down, the episode where Spikes grows his wings. Do you only give out pony/princess wings?

    A: Fun fact, they asked me to write that episode, but it didn't work out.

    Q: Did you ever think the show would be as big as it has become? Would you have changed anything about what you wrote had you known?

    A: I never could have predicted it. And I think that's one of the reasons the show worked so well. No one expected much from it, so we really had the freedom to just be loose with the characters and entertain ourselves. And then it became this big thing and blew my mind. Continues to do so. I still get chills when I meet people at conventions and hear their stories and have them quote my own lines to me and stuff. I wouldn't change anything, really. I do believe that sometimes when things get worked and re-worked they can lose some of their charm. So flaws that are there, I'm okay with them.

    Q: If you could put wings on every single character would you do it?

    A: No! I would take all the wings away. Especially Rainbow Dash

    Q: What are your thoughts on the MLP Movie (the 2017 one, not the 80's one) ?

    A: It was good. The look took awhile to get used to since I'm so used to how the show looks. But some of the new characters were really fun and it was a blast to see the girls on the big screen.

    Q: Are you pleased with direction the show has been going?
    Was it true that you tried to pursue a full-time lead writing job for the show, but Hasbro denied you?

    A: Haven't been keeping up with it, to be honest.

    No, it was always the plan that Meghan would come back for the end of season five. The half season I did story edit was really difficult for several reasons, so I think they didn't ask me to story edit later seasons because they knew how much I didn't enjoy that.


    1.) Which finale is your favorite?

    2.) Which character’s development have you most enjoyed?

    3.) If you suddenly gained Discord’s powers, what would be the first thing you’d do?

    A: Thanks for your kind words!

    1) Best Night Ever is my favorite episode of the whole series, so I'd have to say that one

    2) Celestia's

    3) Exactly what he does. I would troll Twilight SO HARD

    Q: How do I get my wings?

    A: SING!

    Q: What's your favourite part in slice of life?

    A: I'm a huge fan of how that episode came out. I love the wedding part the best, where the fireworks start to go off. With such an insane episode, to have it end with such heart, I love it. And Peter New's delivery of "It takes love to make them ignite!" is an absolute joy.

    Q: How much influence did Faust have on Season 2? I know she worked on a good deal of its episodes before departing the show, but I've long wondered how big a part she played in the latter part of the season, as she seemingly left while the season was still being worked on. You wrote It's About Time and Ponyville Confidential, two episodes that aired pretty late on in the season (and they're both hilarious btw), so I guess a good question would be whether her fingerprints were on those episodes, or if at that point of the season she didn't have as much direct involvement anymore.

    A: It's interesting, everyone always says she had nothing to do with season two, but it's just wrong. I didn't even know she was leaving the show until deep into Ponyville Confidential. She was in all the story meetings for my episodes in season two, and she gave notes all the way through. So from a writing perspective, she was every bit as involved as season one. That being said, from the production side things might have been different, but from my perspective she was still very much involved.

    Q: What day at Bronycon is your actual birthday?

    A: August 3, which I think is Saturday?

    Q: Of every fan work out there that you've seen, what would you say is your personal favorite? If you haven't seen much at all that's totally understandable.

    A: I've seen so much fanwork I couldn't possibly choose. It all still blows my mind. The sheer creativity of the fandom is jaw-dropping.

    Q: Pineapple on pizza. Yay or neigh?


    (unless it also has peanut butter)

    Q: If you sign my fanfic at Bronycon, does that make it canon?

    A: I believe those are the rules, yes

    Q: How did you feel when you first found out about the brony fandom?

    A: I couldn't believe it. Like, actually couldn't believe it. We were in a story meeting in the crappy, windowless back room at Hasbro and Lauren showed me a video of these Russian teenage boys at some sort of day camp or something. The camera is moving around, people are speaking in Russian, then the cameraman comes to these two guys with guitars and they start playing "Winter Wrap Up." I must have had my jaw hanging open. I really didn't understand it. Some day I'll find this video and post it...

    Q: What advice do you have for those yearning to write their own little universes and work like where does one start and how should they approach it?

    What was one moment in the series that had the most impact on you, emotionally or otherwise?

    In the episode "The Cutie Map - Part 2", when Double Diamond threw the staff of sameness at the cutie mark bins, I saw that the staff resembles the Lance of Longinus

    from End of Evangelion quite a bit. Coincidence or nah?

    For "Return of Harmony", what was it like working with the legendary John de Lancie for that episode?


    1) Really hard question. I guess I'd say that you shouldn't get bogged down too much in the lore or the minutiae of the world, at least not in the beginning. Think of an overarching world and something hooky, something that will make a reader or viewer say "Ooh, that sounds cool!" A lot of times the research and minutiae seem so important to a creator, and sometimes it really is, but it's so important to keep the average viewer in mind and serve them up something that makes them say, "That sounds cool! I want to see more!"

    2) Great question. I guess I'd say the ending of Cutie Mark Chronicles. It was sort of cheesy message, "we're all looking up at the same rainbow," but after I wrote it, it kind of struck me how true it was. These ponies all came from different backgrounds and walks of life, and we all know them as one unit of six, but it was cool to see them individually before that and see how they were connected before they even met. I love that one.

    3) Total coincidence on my end. I can't speak for the art team, who may well have been fans.

    4) It was awesome, though I didn't actually get to work with him. But I watched every minute of his Star Trek work and had his voice deeply embedded in my head while I was working. So I'm grateful to him loaning me his voice for awhile in my brain, and then it blew my mind when he actually did the role. None of us planned on him playing Discord, but then he did!

    Q: What's your favorite part of being apart of the series?

    A: The world was such an extraordinary place to work in. Equestria is magical, the characters are so beautifully designed, and the freedom to incorporate humor and heart into what was largely a toy commercial was so unexpected and wonderful.

    The fandom, though, is something I couldn't possibly have prepared for. To travel the country, the world, and meet people who have turned a show about friendship into real-life friendships is astonishing. Still, after 9 years and who-knows-how-many conventions, it still gives me chills.

    Q: You and Scott Sonneborn both received writing credits for the season 5 opener "The Cutie Map". Just how much of the writing for that opener was you and how much of it was Sonneborn's work?

    A: It was a combination of Meghan, Scott, and me. I wrote the script based on work they had done.

    Q: New question. What do you hope for MLP Generation 5 to be like? (I know you won't be working on it. I just want your opinion)

    A: I just hope it goes back to basics. The simplicity of FiM was one of its greatest strengths. We got to play around with the characters and really get to know them while the fans were creating this entire universe out of the background ponies. That was such a magical thing to experience from the writing side of things. I think it would be a shame if it was too dependent on lore or rules. Just let the characters run things.

    Q: If Fluttershy makes a noise, and no one's around to hear it, is it still adorable?

    A: I think we all know the answer to that one

    Q: Hey there! What was your work regarding the 100th episode, Slice of Life?

    A: I wrote the whole damn thing. That one took more work than any other episode because it was so crammed with characters and moments and references, and the swirling "storylines" (in quotes because the story doesn't really matter in that ep) had to all come together in the wedding. So, yeah, that one was a ton of work. But also probably the most rewarding.

    Q: I know you never worked on the Equestria Girls part of the franchise. But if you did, which ideas would you have come up with and what changes would you have made if you wrote an episode, film or short?

    A: Hard to say since I've never seen EQG and don't really know the universe at all

    Q: Was there ever a reason why we never got any further examination or exploration of the Zebras? I always felt that Zecora and the zebras in general weren't given the screentime or attention they aught to have received. Most people just assume it's because Zecora (and by extension, all zebras) speaks in rhyme which is hard to write for, but that explanation just feels unsatisfactory to me I guess

    A: Not that I know of. Could have been a pretty amazing little avenue to have gone down, storywise. Doing something like that is tough on production (all those zebras would have to be designed, along with a whole new land), but they've done stuff like that before with yaks and whatnot. So I don't really have an answer. Maybe it's one of those things that better left to the imagination of the fans?

    Q: Heya Larson! You've developed a character / personality online around the community. Have you ever felt that people who meet you at the cons think they know before they've ever even met you? And was there a moment early on during the fandom's life-cycle where this first happened that you can remember?

    A: Hahaha yeah, that's true. It does often feel like people know me before we've even met, but I love that. I like that I can walk around a con and be surrounded by people who I can just walk up and chat with or write on or photobomb. I'm quite an introverted person in real life, but something about going to cons and people recognizing me brings out my extroverted side.

    It was strange being at my very first con, Midwestria, and hearing people mutter my name to their friends as I went by. It felt like I was pretending to be famous or something.

    But I love this fandom so much, and going to cons is a genuine joy that I never take for granted.

    Q: What is your favorite episode of MLP? (Episodes written by you count)

    A: Best Night Ever!!!

    My fave of mine is Return of Harmony

    Q: If you could have voiced any character in My Little Pony, who would you have chosen

    A: Ooooooo, fun one. I think I'd be best at someone like Silver Spoon, or some fancy shmancy pony. I do a mean Jeremy Irons.

    Q: Is there any episode that you did not write, but wish you could have written?

    A: Wish my version of "Rarity Investigates" would have seen the light of day. I did a reading of it at Bronycon last year and it made me laugh. There's a courtroom scene that I still think has some of my funniest stuff in it.

    Q: Do you feel like there's any common misconceptions from laypeoples you'd like to clear up, whether it's about writing TV shows/novels generally, writing for MLP specifically, or even something unique to yourself?

    A: Yes! I constantly see people talk about "the writers" on MLP, but that's not really a thing. A lot of shows do have writers rooms where they really do work as a collective on the stories, but MLP was always very separate. In fact, most of the writers on MLP I met through conventions! So when people like or don't like things "the writers" are doing, it really doesn't work that way. I had zero influence on Griffon the Brush Off or Hurricane Fluttershy or any episode I didn't write, and vice versa. Thank you for asking this, that's always bothered me how wrong people were about this.

    Oh, one other thing I could add. Be very careful about things you read on the internet. I've seen people claim things with great authority that are just flat-out wrong. I saw someone say something happened at a meeting I was at. So yeah, people tend to misconstrue things or just straight up make stuff up. Take it with a grain of salt.

    Q: What exactly is going on in that scene in "The Return of Harmony" where Discord brainwashes Fluttershy, compared to what he did to AJ, Rarity, and Pinkie? Is it that Fluttershy was too pure to be corrupted in this fashion, that Discord wasn't perceptive enough to realize her true vulnerabilities, that Fluttershy's failing was that she was too much of a doormat to resist, or something else?

    A: I LOVE THAT MOMENT! You're right with the first part. He's never met someone this pure and he can't do the mind games he really wants to do, so he just gets frustrated and snaps his fingers.

    Q: Favorite moment at a bronycon, since it's the last one?

    More openly, favorite moment at a con in general?

    A: Favorite moment at a con in general was probably watching "Slice of Life" with a packed house at MLP-MSP. There was standing room only and you couldn't even hear some of the jokes because of laughter and applause. Maybe the most rewarding moment of my career.

    Favorite BronyCon moment... gosh, there are SO MANY. I love BronyCon so much because I can just walk around and talk to people. I love photobombing random people, giving hugs, chatting. I love it all. A specific one? This is super vain but when I came into the building a few years ago with John de Lancie and GM Berrow, everyone waiting in line started chanting my name. I was sort of embarrassed at first, but then I was like, "Don't these guys recognize De Lancie?" they did, and they chanted for me anyway. Not gonna lie, that was pretty cool.

    Q: What was/is your favorite thing to autograph?

    A: My favorite thing I've signed is an on-duty cop. She popped into the autograph room, I asked if I could sign her, and she marched across the room and said "Sure!"

    Q: What is your favorite background pony?

    Do you have an OC?

    A: My OC is a batpony called Sharpie Fume

    My favorite background pony... hmm... tough one. I like the classics, so I'd say Derpy. She's just so endearing.

    Q: Why is Rarity your favorite pony?

    A: It's a cheat, but she's the most fun to write for. I also love characters with clear flaws -- she's arrogant and pompous -- but she's also one of the kindest and most generous with her friends. She's popular, but also a champion of the underdog. And writing her scenes with Sweetie Belle in Ponyville Confidential was one of my favorite moments in the show.


    1.) What My Little Pony episode that you wrote are you most personally proud of?

    2.) What drew you to work on DC Superhero Girls?

    A: I did write the season finale. It was called Magical Mystery Cure. And then they decided to continue on. In my original script, Twilight earned her wings and flew across Equestria with Rainbow Dash visiting characters we'd met along the way. Then she has a super heartfelt moment with her friends, then the book closes, just like it opened in the pilot.
    As for doing it now, I have to confess that I haven't been keeping up on what they've been doing the last few seasons, so I'd probably be the wrong one to do it. But it would definitely involve Winona being the one true ruler of Equestria.

    Q: Will you ever post your original script for fame and misfortune?

    A: There is no original script. There's about a one-page proposal for what I wanted to do, but that got rejected so I wrote what they wanted.

    Q: Which episode or episodes did you not write that you wish you had been part of?

    A: First of all, I never would have brought Discord back. But if he did have to come back, I would have liked to have written his follow-up episode.

    Q: Not sure if someone asked this already, but who is your favourite character?

    A: Rarity of the mane six

    Celestia of the princesses

    Winona of the pets

    And Stephen Magnet as overall favorite

    Q: As for my question, Amending Fences is by far one of your most popular episodes, but I always thought the ending didn't seem to match up with the rest of the episode. Was there some earlier draft where Twilight was actually wrong about causing Moondancer's seclusion by not attending her party? I fully expected the twist conclusion to be that Twilight only assumed she was the cause when nothing in the episode actually suggested she was, and she'd learn a lesson in humility and listening to others before trying to solve their problems.

    A: Thanks for your kind words, much appreciated.

    No, that ending was always the ending. To me, the concept was that Twilight really was a bad friend before Celestia tasked her with going to Ponyville. So I always thought that, yeah, she didn't treat Moondancer very well and had to make amends to her in this episode. What I like about it is that it is so thematic to the entire series -- if Twilight wasn't a bad friend, she wouldn't need to learn about friendship. So to me it always made sense that she really did mess up in the old days and now she's learned enough to see that and try to make it right.

    Q: Was Trixie planned to be some kind of villain before you writed Magic Duel??

    A: No, I don't think she was intended to be anything more than she was in her first appearance. She became such a fan favorite that I think Meghan wanted to find a way to bring her back. So we came up with this idea that someone who made her whole career on her reputation wanting revenge on the ponies who showed her up as a way to bring her back. Then she just became obsessed with her power. I'm thankful because it let me write the line, "The Great and Powerful Trixie doesn't trust wheels!"

    Q: Opinions on Male Alicorns?

    Can you assure us there won't be one at the end of Season 9?

    A: I can assure you of nothing!

    Q: Got any tips for aspiring writers?

    A: FINISH. This is the hardest thing for a writer. Whatever you're working on, you've got to finish it. Don't let it linger, don't let it be "something you're working on." You are so much more likely to sell whatever you're working on if it's a finished product.

    Also, learn to take notes. Lots of people put so much of themselves into whatever they're doing that they get defensive at any critiques. Even if you don't agree with the critiques, you've got to be able to hear them and investigate if there's any validity to it.

    Q: What’s a crazy concept for a story you’d wish to write but can’t for some reason or other? A simple logline would do, I love your settings and would love to see what other wacky things you’d be able to come up with.

    A: Always wanted to do an episode where Flam is elected Mayor of Fillydelphia and as his first act he outlaws cider. So Applejack has to become a bootlegger to bring cider into town under his nose. But it was deemed "too adult."

    Q: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever signed at a convention?

    A: A cop, several babies, an olympic gold medalist, Lauren Faust, a toilet seat, a go-pro that was filming me at the time... loads of stuff

    Q: I was wondering, do you feel it's been difficult to move on from MLP and work on other projects?

    A: I don't know that I've moved on necessarily. I don't work on the show anymore, but when I get to talk to someone about Sonic Rainboom or Luna Eclipsed or any of the episodes I worked on, it's just pure joy and fun to me. I don't feel sad about not working on it, or sick of talking about old episodes. I genuinely love the show and talking about the episodes I wrote.

    Sometimes it's hard to work on other things just because I knew MLP so well, but that's the nature of having written so many FiM episode.

    Q: Were there any particular MLP episodes or scenes that you didn't like how they turned out, and wish you could go back and have another crack at them?

    A: Fame & Misfortune 🙄

    Q: Random question about the production itself: how is it to work in such a system ? Is the global "lead" of an episode decided before you even start to write it (for consistency?) Do your texts get revised a lot (are you asked a lot to change stuff) ? Were you given some no-go ?

    A: Can't speak to how things have been run the last few seasons, but in the early days Lauren and Rob (story editor) would come up with the premise for an episode, which is only a sentence or two. For example, the only thing we had to work with for Discord on "Return of Harmony" was that he was "the mythical spirit of chaos." No description, no personality, nothing. So then we go to the story meeting where we flesh all that stuff out. After that, we had a lot of freedom to develop the character voices and humor and world, as long as we kept it all reasonably within Lauren's vision.

    hings seemed to get a LOT more note-heavy as the series went on, but I digress...

    Q: Now that the series is drawing to an end, was there a story idea that didn't make it into gen 4 that you wish had and what was it about?

    A: Lots. I always wanted to do a day in the life of Celestia. A really low-stakes episode where we see behind the crown.....

    Q: What advice can you give to someone about to go to their first mlp convention?

    A: Don't stress about anything! Pony cons are places of pure joy where everyone is your friend, everyone has the same interests as you, and you can just relax and be yourself. And come and say hi to me so I can sign you!

    Q: One of the things that always struck me about some of the earlier-season writing is that the antagonists often had understandable, even sometimes sympathetic underlying cause to their choices. Even if their actions put them in the realm of villainy, we as viewers could connect with wanting to prove something after being struck down, or feeling lonely and slighted. To me, it was one of the more driving elements of the show. Was this something that was deliberately done - spoken about at the planning meetings, discussed between staff? Or just an unconscious theme shared between writers?

    I've also heard some discussion about how much effort went into making the ponies' actions "horsey" to fit in with the setting. Were you ever conscious of this being a thing, or was that more on the animation side?

    A: We were definitely supposed to keep in mind how horselike the ponies are. It was always on the mind.

    Yeah, I think in the early years we weren't so much into the "pure evil" sort of antagonist. It just wasn't that kind of show. In my opinion (so take it for what it's worth), it can flatten things out if there's a pure evil antagonist because it turns the good guys into pure good or pure righteousness or whatever. Sometimes that works really well, but in an episodic show where you've got 22 mins to explore a character, the more nuanced villains work a lot better.

    Q: Do you think tv animation generally is going in a positive direction and we can expect more hit shows with similar strengths to MLP over the next few years?

    A: Unpopular opinion, especially for such a twitter fiend as me, but I don't necessarily thing the social media component of animation is a good thing. I love that fandoms can spring up and create whole universes, as happened with MLP, but I think there's a real danger of creators becoming too influenced by the fans. And of fans becoming accustomed to loud voices having an effect on shows. I think the best case scenario is to make the shows you want to make and then have a disciplined social media presence where you don't let that stuff affect the show. Fan interaction has to be a one-way street that should not leach back into the production. That's where I think things can go wrong.

    Q: Were you hoping to at least be able to write one more episode before the end of the series?

    A: Would have been nice, but it didn't work out. I also love Amending Fences so I'm happy to go out with that one.

    Q: Are there any notable scenes you've written that came out completely differently due to voice direction, storyboarding, or other misinterpretations in your script?

    A: There are a few, but on the whole the crew does an amazing job with this, especially considering we're in different countries. I guess one that comes to mind is the ending of Ponyville Confidential. People were upset that ponies were being so mean to the CMCs, but when I was writing it, it was never about them being mean, it was about them trying to avoid talking to them because anything they say could end up in print out of context. So I think somewhere along the line that nuance kind of got lost. But like I said, the crew does a great job of this.

    Q: Favorite memory of working on mlp?

    A: Working on the show itself, so not involving the fandom? There are certain moments where a line will come out as I'm writing that I wasn't expecting to write that are just so rewarding. The one that comes to mind right away is Pinkie's "And that's how Equestria was made." Also Rarity's "The gilded pages of your betrayal!" in Ponyville Confidential. Those lines that make me laugh because I didn't expect them are such a joy.

    But working with Lauren was awesome, and also Rob Renzetti. Two people I greatly admire. Thrilled to have gotten to write Return of Harmony. The whole thing was a blast.

    Q: What do you make of the ah...more savory stuff people do with your characters? What is it like to have someone do that to something you’ve developed and created?

    A: Hey, to each their own. I don't judge.

    Q: Trixie disappeared after her appearance in the S1 episode. She Reappeared Later in Magic Duel and sort-of has become a regular character in later seasons. Was this solely based on the popularity of her as a character and from Sethisto from EqD posting her all the time or did you guys just kind of pick her arbitrarily?

    A: I feel pretty confident saying this was because she was a fan favorite

    Q: What is your favourite place in Equestria and in real world?

    A: I'm a sucker for Canterlot at night. Something extra magical about it.

    In the real world, probably Kauai.

    Q: If you knew there'd be no interference from anyone else, what would you put in the show?

    A: That's sort of what Amending Fences was. That was my premise, my script, almost no changes throughout. Love that one.

    Q: What are some of your favorite songs from the show or the fandom?

    A: Oh man, so many. I don't know the fandom songs that well, but from the show my favorites are "At the Gala" and "Winter Wrap Up" and "Apples to the Core." Gonna listen to that one right now...

    Q: Do you have a favorite episode where Twilight Sparkle is the focus of the episode? (can be one you wrote as well)

    A: I really like Amending Fences. I think that one came out really well. And I adore Winter Wrap Up.

    Q: Who is Best Pony?


    Or possibly Celestia

    Q: Which episode was the hardest to make?

    A: Slice of Life. A million characters to learn and juggle, as well as trying to make it entertaining and have some sort of a loose story. It was a lot of work, but I really love how it came out.

    Q: I'm not sure if you're allowed to disclose or not, but will you have any involvement in G5 of mlp??

    A: Thank you for the kind words. Alas, I have no plans to be involved in G5...

    Q: What kind of music do you listen to?

    A: All sorts of stuff. Listening the the MLP soundtracks as I do this

    Q: Are you curious about the stories and such the MLP fandom has produced? If I have understood it correctly, you'd have been avoiding these things previously for legal reasons.

    A: I feel like I've gotten a bit of exposure over the years from chatting with people at cons. It blows my mind the amount of content, and the mind-blowing variety of stuff, that fans have come up with. It's kind of intimidating actually.

    Q: Given the choice, would you rather turn Sunset Shimmer or Starlight Glimmer into an alicorn?


    Q: What’s your favorite guest star that’s been on the show? did you get to meet them?

    A: In the time I was on the show, it was really only de Lancie. And no, all the records were in Vancouver and I live in LA. My favorite guest star I got to write for on any show I've done was Lewis Black. Writing dialogue for that guy in a kids show is... challenging...

    Q: What's your favorite city/town/location within the MLP universe?

    A: I mean, lame answer but I'm a Ponyville guy. Such a magical little place. I love the small town charm of it.

    Q: Do you think a live action MLP Movie could work like Pokemon and Detective Pikachu? Or would it destined to scare everyone like the Sonic Trailer.

    A: My guess? Horrifying.

    Q: If the seaponies went through the Equestria Girls mirror, what would they become?

    A: I don't know anything about EQG mirror or seaponies

    Q: Would you do an AMA like this one but on /mlp/ if you had the chance?

    A: Hell yes

    Q: In The Cutie Map you mentioned that Mage Meadowbrook was a unicorn but in S7 it was revealed that she's an earth pony. What was the reason for this change?

    A: Mage Meadowbrook was never in my script, that was added by someone later. And I didn't write the S7 episode. Sorry!