Yes, My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic is designed primarily for children. But adults who watch the show will be delighted to discover a world of references engineered to go right over its target audience’s tiny heads — specifically, homages to grown-up touchstones like Star Wars, Top Gun, and even The Big Lebowski (pictured above).
Before the cult hit airs its season finale this Saturday, get acquainted with it by watching Friendship Is Magic‘s 10 best nods to entertainment classics, placed in the order in which they appeared on the show.
1. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
After saving the land of Equestria from the wicked spirit Discord in season 2’s “The Return of Harmony,” the six pony pals at the center of the series are lauded as heroes — much like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo at the end of the first Star Wars movie. See the pony version of this scene below — then watch the second video to see how perfectly it syncs up with A New Hope‘s conclusion.
2. The Big Lebowski
A bowling alley scene in season 2’s “The Cutie Pox” includes a few familiar faces — ponies dressed just like Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, John Turturro, and Steve Buscemi’s characters in the Coen brothers classic. You’ll spot most of them around the 20-second mark.
3. I Love Lucy
Lucy’s famous chocolate-factory scene has been parodied far and wide — including on Friendship Is Magic, which swapped in cherries for candy in season 2’s “The Last Roundup.”
4. The Music Man
Friendship Is Magic‘s catchy songs are often more than they appear. Several are direct homages to the works of Stephen Sondheim, like the Sunday in the Park with George-esque “Art of the Dress” or the Into the Woods-inspired “At the Gala.” And then there’s this tune, sung in season 2’s “The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000” by the devious Flim Flam brothers — who bear a striking resemblance to Harold Hill, the antihero of Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man.
5. Raiders of the Lost Ark
When bold Rainbow Dash enjoys a gripping adventure tale (tail?) in season 2’s “Read It and Weep,” we learn that the story is a lot like the first Indiana Jones movie, minus Harrison Ford.
6. Sherlock Holmes
Season 2’s “MMMystery on the Friendship Express” is chock full of pop culture references, starting when goofy pony Pinkie Pie dons a Sherlockian guise as she tries to solve the Mystery of the Half-Eaten Cake.
7. Silent movie serials
Pinkie first accuses Gustave le Grand, a French-accented griffon, of destroying the dessert. As she spins the tale of what she thinks happened, it’s shown onscreen as a Perils of Pauline-inspired silent serial, complete with Pinkie getting tied to a set of railroad tracks.
8. James Bond
Pinkie then sets her sights on Donut Joe, a unicorn she imagines as a Bondian super spy. He’ll take his hay shaken, not stirred (because who stirs hay?).
9. The Royal Wedding
Season 2’s climactic wedding, which saw beautiful Princess Cadance and dashing Shining Armor joined in matrimony, was a direct reference to the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It aired on April 21, 2012 — almost exactly a year after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge celebrated their own nuptials.
10. Top Gun
Finally, there’s season 3’s “Wonderbolts Academy,” in which Rainbow Dash gains admission to an elite flying school. Naturally, her need for speed leads to several references to the ’80s Tom Cruise classic — check out the instructor pony’s aviators, for starters.