If you're familiar with My Little Pony as it exists today, you probably love the show's heartfelt lessons and colorful characters. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is by no means the origin of those adorable characters though - the first series, which aired back in the '80s, was much weirder than you might recall. Cartoons from that period were all about selling toys, and while that hasn't changed much in the ensuing decades, Hasbro was particularly adept at toy-focused marketing strategies at the time.
Looking back, the series' concept, presentation, characters, and tie-in products were kind of strange. Sure, the show had cute ponies frolicking, telling adorable stories, and embarking on countless adventures, but peel back a layer or two, and it's all rather odd. That said, it did inspire a revamped television series, several movies and specials, highly collectible toys, and a group of devoted, adult male followers called "Bronies," so it's clearly had a lasting impact.
Here are some of the stranger aspects of the 1980s My Little Pony TV show you may have forgotten.
The Ponies Coexist With A Group Of Goblin Refugees
The group of friendly goblin creatures known as the Grundles once lived in their own region called Grundleland. But after their home was wiped out by a dastardly purple goo called the Smooze, they had to move into the remains of Dream Castle. The Grundles are led by King Hugo, the Grundle King. He speaks in rhymes, and while he looks pretty nasty, he's actually very sweet and kindhearted.
By the time the ponies met them, there are only five Grundles left in existence. Overall, the Grundles aren't very strange for a children's cartoon of the era, but considering the show is about sentient ponies, they seem somewhat out of place.
The Ponies Free An Enslaved Race Of Group-Thinking Hairballs
There are a lot of strange creatures living in and around Pony Land, but among the strangest are the Booshwoolies. These are essentially walking, talking hairballs who can only speak and act as a group. While they're individuals, they apparently have no capacity to think for themselves and they hardly ever use their own names, which include Chumster, Wishful, and Hugster.
The Booshwoolies are enslaved when first introduced, but Megan and the ponies eventually free them. Following their liberation, they move into Dream Castle.
While the Bushwoolies are strange in their own right, their cousins, called the Furbobs, are perhaps even odder. These are similar creatures, but instead of walking about on two legs like the Bushwoolies, the Furbobs are quadrupeds and have large, shiny noses.
Human Children Often Serve As The Ponies' De Facto Leaders
My Little Pony is ostensibly about sentient ponies who run a functional society without humans, but that doesn't mean kids can't stop by to say hello. In fact, the episodes usually center on a little girl named Megan who lives on a ranch with her two younger siblings, Danny and Molly. She is something of a leader to the Ponies, and when she's needed, they fly across the rainbow to bring her back to their world.
She has a magical locket that contains the Rainbow of Light, used to defeat whatever evil is threatening her pony friends. Megan is often joined by her siblings on her adventures to Pony Land.
Mr. Potato Head And His Family Were Frequent Guest Stars
In the '80s, Hasbro was all about selling their toys to children via cartoons, but the company didn't front a television series for each and every line of toys they produced. For those items that might not have been able to hold their own on a Saturday morning, the company found a way to bring them onto other series as guest stars, and My Little Pony was no exception. One of the more common characters who appeared on the series was Mr. Potato Head and his kids.
The Potato Head family wasn't the only Hasbro toy franchise to make the leap to MLP; the show also featured The Glo Friends and MoonDreamers. Each took half the cartoon's timeslot when it aired as My Little Pony n' Friends during the first season.