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Villain Overview

You summon me at your peril, Star Swirl! Once I defeat all of you, this realm will embrace the darkness, as I did so long ago!
~ The Pony of Shadows to the Pillars of Equestria.
I brought them together. I planned strategy, and I read all I could about the beasts we faced. But I didn't have magic or strength, so nopony ever noticed me. I went to Ponhenge to make my own copies of the artifacts. With them, I thought I could be a Pillar, too, and stand by their side in battle. I never wanted to steal their power. But instead of sharing and letting me help, my friends threw me out! So I became stronger than any of them! The darkness welcomed me when nopony would, and I will do what I must to protect it!
~ Stygian explaining his reason for becoming a villain to Twilight.

Stygian, better known as the Pony of Shadows, is a major antagonist in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, appearing as the main antagonist in the Season 7 finale, "Shadow Play".

He is a unicorn scholar and the founder of the Pillars of Equestria, who was also their friend as he brought them together to save his home and Equestria. After a terrible misunderstanding led him to be outcasted by the pillars, he was then transformed into a monstrous pony made entirely of shadows who desired to cover the entirety of Equestria in darkness before he was reverted back to his original form by the pillars as well as the Mane Six.

He was voiced by Bill Newton, who also played Bright Macintosh and Pharynx in the series.

History

Background

The Pony of Shadows was originally a male unicorn named Stygian, who lived in Equestria more than 1,000 years prior to the events of the series. One day, Stygian's village was attacked by the Sirens, who used their magic to turn everypony against each other in order to feed off their negativity to become even more powerful. In order to save his home, Stygian traveled across old Equestria in search of the country's greatest heroes, which included Rockhoof, Flash Magnus, Mistmane, Somnambula, Mage Meadowbrook and Star Swirl the Bearded. Together, they formed the Pillars of Equestria and fought the Sirens, banishing them into a different dimension and saving Stygian's home.

After vanquishing the Sirens, the Pillars stuck together and continued to defend Equestria from future threats. During this time, Stygian provided assistance by studying their foes and planning strategies for them. However, while the others were hailed and respected by all, Stygian wasn't recognized in the slightest for his own contributions because he always watched from sidelines while his friends did all the work. Desperate to be noticed and wanting to prove himself a hero as well, Stygian secretly borrowed a treasured belonging from each of the other Pillars and brought them all to Ponehenge in order to perform a spell that will create copies of the artifacts so that he can fight alongside them. However, the others discovered this and believed he was trying to take their power for himself. After taking back their artifacts and stopping Stygian's spell, they then banished him from the team without even giving him the chance to explain the reasons for his actions. At the time, Stygian believed that the Pillars were just being selfish and didn't want to share their power with him, causing him to despise his former friends.

Shortly afterwards, a heartbroken and embittered Stygian discovered the Well of Shade in the Hollow Shades. There, he encountered a mysterious and shadowy entity known as "The Darkness", which promised Stygian the power to take his revenge on those who supposedly betrayed him in return for helping the entity plunge the world into eternal darkness. Enticed by this promise, Stygian agreed to this deal, and the two merged into a single shadowy being; the Pony of Shadows.

The Pony of Shadows then attacked the Pillars of Equestria and began spreading darkness and chaos across the land, desiring every pony to feel the pain he had. Realizing that they couldn't defeat him conventionally, the Pillars then decided to perform a ritual to banish him to the space between dimensions known as Limbo. However, the ritual would require them to banish themselves along with their former friend to accomplish this. Willing to sacrifice themselves to save Equestria, all the Pillars agreed to this plan. But before they did, they each poured their essence into a seed and planted them in a cave underneath the Castle of the Two Sisters, which would eventually grow into the Tree of Harmony that would help future heroes in defending Equestria.

The Pillars gathered around Ponehenge, where they first banished Stygian. There, Starswirl casted a spell to bring the Pony of Shadows to them. Immediately, the Pony of Shadows attacked them and prepared to plunge the world into complete darkness, but the Pillars then performed the ritual and willingly banished themselves and the Pony of Shadows to Limbo, where they all remained for the next millennium.

Shadow Play

Over a thousand years later, the Pony of Shadows was inadvertently released from Limbo by Twilight Sparkle, who with the help of her friends freed the Pillars from the dimensional gap as well. The Pony of Shadows then destroys Ponhenge and Star Swirl's spell book so he can't be sent back and attempts to attack Star Swirl. However, Twilight and Starlight Glimmer counter his attack, forcing him to retreat to shadowy areas of Equestria to regain his power.

Due to the industrialization of Equestria over the past millennium, many of the areas that were once known to be dark are now populated and bright, thus buying Twilight and her friends time to come up with a plan on how to locate and re-contain him. The initial plan was to sacrifice the Elements of Harmony in place of the Pillars, but Starlight suggested that they should try to make peace with Stygian to regain his friendship, only to be rebuffed by Star Swirl who firmly believed that Stygian was beyond redemption.

Eventually, the ponies are led by the castle's map to the Hollow Shades, which is now an abandoned ghost town on the edge of Equestria. After traveling there, the entire town collapses into the ground to reveal the Well of Shade, where Stygian first became the Pony of Shadows. The Pony of Shadows explained how Stygian and the Darkness met and fused into one before attacking Star Swirl again. At that moment, the Mane Six and the Pillars open a portal to banish the Pony of Shadows and the Elements of Harmony into Limbo. However, as the Pony of Shadows begins to slip into the portal, Twilight sees Stygian himself struggling from within the black mass that is his body and dives in.

She then finds Stygian, sitting alone in the darkness. There, he revealed his true intentions for stealing the Pillars' artifacts. The Pillars and the rest of the Mane Six overheard their conversation, and the Pillars were shocked and horrified to learn that Stygian truly was their friend and that betraying and banishing him led him down the darker path. As the darkness begins to overtake Stygian again, Twilight urges him to forgive his friends and abandon the darkness. When Stygian questions why Twilight would believe he can be saved, Starlight joins Twilight and explains that she was like Stygian until Twilight managed to convince her of the power of friendship. Stygian then states that while he wants to believe what they say, he then becomes possessed by the Darkness again and boasts that it can never be defeated.

Twilight then takes a more forceful approach by lassoing Stygian's foreleg with her magic to pull him out of the Darkness while urging him to fight it. It was then that Starlight, the Mane Six and the Pillars combine all of their magic to pull Stygian out of the Darkness, which they succeed in doing. As a result, the Darkness was left without a host and could not prevent itself from being sucked into the portal on his own, causing it to be banished back into Limbo for good.

With the Darkness gone and the Elements of Harmony and Pillars of Old Equestria both intact, the land was at peace once again, and Star Swirl apologizes to Stygian and rekindles their friendship.

Alternate

The Pillars and Stygian encountered an alternate version of the Pony of Shadows after he abducted a young Celestia and Luna, intending to turn them into Daybreaker and Nightmare Moon. Despite his power, the alternate Pony of Shadows was thwarted due to Stygian's inexplicable ability to command his creatures. When he attempted to blast Stygian, their magics reacted and caused an explosion, and Stygian announced himself before departing for home with the Pillars. The alternate Pony of Shadows, who had recognized all of the heroes except Stygian, was then revealed to be the Stygian of that universe.

Appearance

Stygian, before becoming The Pony of Shadows.

Before his transformation, Stygian was a weak, skinny unicorn with a gray coat and a blue mane. He wears a brown coat over his body. His horn is tinier than any other unicorn's horn.

After becoming The Pony of Shadows, he takes on the form of an amorphous dark gray Alicorn with glowing white eyes and wispy, smoke-like wings. His horn becomes large and curved, much like King Sombra.

In both forms, he speaks in an indistinct European-sounding accent. In his mutated form, his voice also has a filter effect similar to what Queen Chrysalis had in Season 2, albeit much deeper.

Stygian was reverted back to his original form after being separated from The Pony of Shadows.

Personality

Before becoming completely evil, Stygian was rather soft-spoken, persuasive, imperturbable, and non-confrontational. Rockhoof refers to him as "scholarly".

As the Pony of Shadows, he becomes much more arrogant and loud. He constantly belittles the Pillars of Old Equestria and mocks Twilight for unknowingly setting him free. Even until the moment of his defeat, he maintains his composure and acts unfazed.

After being separated from the darkness and reconciling with Star Swirl, Stygian forgives him and the Pillars and returns to being a happier and kinder pony.

Episodes and Appearances

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

Season 4

Season 7

Season 8

Season 9

Comics

Friendship is Magic

Legends of Magic

Nightmare Knights

Trivia

  • The Pony of Shadows is the least recurring antagonist of the entire series, appearing in only two episodes. 
  • A mythical entity referred to as "The Pony of Shadows" was mentioned in the Season 4 episode, "Castle Mane-ia". However, this event is never mentioned in the Season 7 finale, so it is unknown if these two entities are one and the same.
    • Not to mention that the aforementioned entity was explained as being the accumulated hatred of Nightmare Moon, whereas the entity featured in Season 7 is something completely different. However, this could be a case of information being distorted over time within the universe.
  • The Pony of Shadows is the only major villain to not be included in the two-part episode The Beginning of the End. The reason for this is because the darkness that corrupted Stygian is sent to limbo. 
  • The Pony of Shadows is one of the few major villains who never made a reappearance in the show so far, despite appearing in the cover of Stygian's novel. 
  • Despite being the main antagonist of Season 7 finale, the Pillars were the ones who got Stygian falls into darkness, though they managed to reconcile at the end.
  • Pony of Shadows is very similiar to Nightmare Moon in many ways.
    • Both are used to be normal ponies.
      • Pony of Shadows is originally Stygian.
      • Nightmare Moon is originally Princess Luna.
    • Both used to have allies before they fall into dark side.
      • Stygian to Pillars of Old Equestria.
      • Princess Luna to Princess Celestia.
    • Both were overshadowed by their allies which leading to fall into dark side.
      • Stygian were overshadowed when he was unaccredited for his actions while the Pillars are hailed as heroes, leading him to stealing a specific item from each of the members so he could be noticed.
      • Princess Luna were overshadowed when everypony admire and appreciate her sister Celestia, leading her to grew jealous of her.
    • Both become consumed in their hatred which gained their dark forms.
      • Stygian became Pony of Shadows after misunderstanding led the Pillars betrayed and banished him for his actions.
      • Princess Luna became Nightmare Moon after consuming her jealousy inside of her.
    • Both facing their former allies for their vengeance before they were banished.
      • Pony of Shadows attacked the Pillars before they sacrificed themselves to trapped him inside limbo.
      • Nightmare Moon facing Princess Celestia before she was banished to the moon.
    • Both were escape from their banishment to complete their revenge.
      • After the Mane Six released the Pillars from limbo, Twilight realizes that she accidentally released Pony of Shadows from limbo as well.
      • Nightmare Moon was released during Summer Sun Celebration before facing Twilight Sparkle and her new friends.
    • Both became archenemies to Mane Six, beside from their former allies.
    • Both were followed by Mane Six to the new places they go to.
      • Pony of Shadows goes to Hollow Shades.
      • Nightmare Moon goes to forbidden Everfree Forest.
    • Both were attacked by the Elements of Harmony.
    • Both were reformed by Mane Six, which leading them to make amends with their allies they betrayed and abandoned their alter-egos, though their alter-egos still be mentioned.
      • Twilight and Starlight goes inside Pony of Shadows and convinced Stygian to turn over the new leaf so he could make amends with the Pillars, leading Pony of Shadows gets sent back to limbo.
      • The Mane Six defeated Nightmare Moon with Elements of Harmony, leading her to turned back to normal and make amends with Celestia.
  • The Pony of Shadows is similar to Venom, as they were both disgraced by famous heroes (The Pillars of Equestria for Stygian and Spider-Man for Eddie Brock), and so they become consumed in their hatred which attracted a sentient darkness which transformed them into supervillains.
  • Stygian is similar to Buddy Pines, as both of their heroes shunned them for their actions (Pillars of Old Equestria to Stygian and Mr. Incredible to Buddy), which caused them to fall into darkness while adopting new identities (Stygian became Pony of Shadows and Buddy became Syndrome) as a result. However, while Stygian eventually redeemed himself after being convinced by Twilight and Starlight, Syndrome ended up getting killed after his cape gets caught on a jet turbine.

Navigation

           My Little Pony G4 logo.png Villains

Television
My Little Pony 'n Friends
Ahgg | Beezen | Catrina | Dragon Gang | Erebus | Flories | Grogar | Hydia | King Charlatan | Lavan | Princess Porcina | Queen Bumble | Raptorians | Reeka & Draggle | Somnambula | Squirk | Tirac

Friendship is Magic
Apple Bloom's Shadow | Ahuizotl | Arimaspi | Bugbear | Changelings | Chimera | Cockatrice | Daybreaker | Dr. Caballeron | Diamond Dogs | Diamond Tiara | Discord | Dragons (Dragon Lord Torch, Garble & Sludge) | Flim Flam Brothers | Gladmane | Grogar | Hydra | King Sombra | Legion of Doom (Queen Chrysalis, Tirek & Cozy Glow) | Mane-iac | Maulwurf | Mean Six | Nightmare Moon | Parasprites | Pony of Shadows | Puckwudgies | Roc | Sable Spirit | Shadowbolts | Silver Spoon | Snips and Snails | Sphinx | Starlight Glimmer | Storm King | Svengallop | Tantabus | Tatzlwurm | Tempest Shadow | Timberwolves | Trixie Lulamoon | Vampire Fruit Bats | Windigos | Wind Rider

Equestria Girls
Dazzlings (Adagio Dazzle, Aria Blaze & Sonata Dusk) | Juniper Montage | PostCrush (Kiwi Lollipop & Supernova Zap) | Principal Cinch | Snips and Snails | Sunset Shimmer | Trixie Lulamoon | Vignette Valencia | Wallflower Blush

Comics
Accord | Bad Apple | Blonn Di and Shining Light | Changelings | Chupacabra | Cosmos | Daybreaker | Dazzlings (Adagio Dazzle, Aria Blaze & Sonata Dusk) | Diamond Tiara | Discord | Flim Flam Brothers | Grogar | King Diomedes | King Sombra | Mane-iac | Nightmare Forces | Nightmare Moon | Nightmare Rarity | Pony of Shadows | Princess Celestia | Pseudocorns | Queen Chrysalis | Rabia | Rough Diamond | Sendak | Shadowbolts | Shadowfall | Shadowfright | Silver Spoon | Smooze | Snips and Snails | Starlight Glimmer | Storm King's army (Storm King, Tempest Shadow, Grubber & Storm Creatures) | Sunset Shimmer | Swift Foot | Terri Belle | Tirek | Trixie Lulamoon | Vampiric Jackalope

Movies
My Little Pony: The Movie (1986): Hydia | Reeka & Draggle | Smooze | Ahgg
My Little Pony: The Movie (2017): Storm King's army (Storm King, Tempest Shadow, Grubber & Storm Creatures)
My Little Pony: A New Generation: Sprout Cloverleaf

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