Bronies - adults who love My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (MLP) and participate in the show's fandom - are among the Internet's most frequently discussed subcultures. Some see bronies as creative, fun loving people who defy gender roles by appreciating a show aimed at young girls. Others see them as creepy adults who make the community uncomfortable for the show's actual target demographic.
No one knows what it's truly like to be a brony better than those who self-identify with the term, and no one understands what's really going on in the show's fan community better than the people who decided to leave it. On Reddit, former bronies reveal why they left the My Little Pony fandom.
For some, it's simply a matter of losing interest or not having time to keep up with the show. Others had terrible experiences which left them unwilling to participate with their peers. Some still love the series, while others can't stand it. Each person's experience is unique - but these Redditors have all left My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
From Redditor /u/Mr_Rippe:
The circlej*rk was too much for me. In high school, a bunch of my online friends were bored one night. We decided to watch it to see what the fuss was about. The first season is actually a solid show. Produced by one of the people behind Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends, it reminded me a lot of watching cartoons from when I was a kid.
I initially wore the "Brony" label as a badge of honor. People [spoke poorly of] it, but I wasn't a cringelord and I thought it was funny how many people were hating a show simply because it looked dumb. I even went to some of the early BroNYCons.
One of the people who watched the show in our group that night is named Mike, and you might recognize him if you're part of the Achievement Hunter community (not Michael, but Mike from IB). His mannerisms over time devolved into what you would typically associate with the Brony strawman. He also decided to take his fans and turn them on a girl who rejected him, which gave me a f**king headache since I was the mod of the IB subreddit and I had to spend a week dealing with pitchforks.
His change in personality, combined with the cringelords I met at BroNYCon and interacted with on the MLP subreddit, made me realize something: holy sh*t, these people believe what they're saying. They weren't hamming it up just to annoy outsiders. A significant number of people in the community didn't see anything wrong with the strawbrony. In fact, they would yell at people who weren't as big fans as they were! It was, at the time, a culture full of toxicity hiding behind a rainbow mane.
I know that not everyone is a cringelord (#NotAllBronies). You can like whatever the f**k you like and it's fine by me. But I was there in the beginning, and I can't disassociate the worst of the herd from the show itself.
From Redditor /u/Nostalgiohn:
I quit being a Brony thanks to one experience. The group I was with was overall a nice group, but it became very large thanks to the city we were in. With the increase came more people that made the group uncomfortable. One of these people showed up to our meeting, placed his things down and proceeded to announce to everyone, "Can I have a drawing of everyone's OCs (Original Creations) because I like to imagine that we are in Ponyville hanging out there."
This was uncomfortable due to the fact that we were at a meetup in public at a local games store, so it put a bit of a target on all of us. About five minutes after this, he then presented his phone and began to show the people around him what is called "clopping" - which is Pony rule 34 - while asking people if they think if it is hot.
This made me so uncomfortable that I stopped going to the group, stopped watching the show, and took most of my close friends with me. I am unable to watch the show without thinking about this experience as it was so jarring to me.
From Redditor /u/Blu3Army73:
My girlfriend at the time was a fan and she was the one who convinced me to watch it in the first place. It became something we shared together that we could be silly and sweet about; it made us happy. It reminded me of cartoons from when I was little, so it grew on me easily. When my girlfriend and I broke up two years later I just became uninterested. While I did genuinely like the show, the real reason I enjoyed it was the shared interest and connection with my ex.
That show is now, for me, one of those things frozen in time that I only associate with a short period of my life six years ago. Every once in a while I will see something from the series and I'll be able to touch what it felt like back then. Being a freshman in college, being in that relationship, etc. It makes me smile.
From Redditor /u/ponyPharmacist:
I once created and shaped a Russian brony community, built and maintained sites like everypony.ru, darkpony.ru, and mlpaudiobooks.net, visited and took part in organizing huge events, hundreds of people knew my name. And then I got married to a girl from the community and so [our] relationship and [my] daytime job left me no time for other stuff. I played a lot of dota2, which I now regret. Sometimes I gather with a few of my friends I got in the community, but we never even mention MLP.