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Ponies tend to be the stock Christmas wish that has no chance of ever coming true. References to formerly owned ponies can also mark a character as a Fallen Princess.
Of course, the trope is parodied when it's a boy who likes ponies.
This is mainly a North America/Northern Europe trope. In many other parts of the world, liking horses is not considered feminine at all- hence you will not really encounter this trope.
Now somewhat of a Dead Horse Trope, due to more varieties of female characters being included in media.
- One of those odious car commercials that came out in the US Christmas 2008 had a little girl berating her adult self for thinking a new car was a better present than the pony she got when she was seven, that made her scream so loud the neighbors came over, and made the girl next door sickly jealous.
- A Verizon commercial where three older girls are suggested to have each got what they actually wanted for Christmas, and one of them asked for a pony (the others? Cell phones). Turns out it wasn't such a great gift after all.
- A radio ad tells the tale of a father who couldn't afford a new car for his daughter's Sweet Sixteen—so he got her a pony to ride everywhere instead.
- I love horses, they're my friends!
- When Cracker Jack introduced a bigger size bag for their product, the advertising played up the size of the bag to mythic proportions: A guy bringing home a bag tied to the roof of his car can't fit it in his garage, a guy buying Cracker Jack at a baseball game gets crushed by a flying bag, etc. The prize inside also got scaled up; guess what a young girl gets inside her Cracker Jack bag? That's right:
"Mommy! Mommy! I got a pony!"
- An advertisement about spending money to earn reward points for NFL swag has a father going on a shopping spree for his daughter; at the end of the commercial, she is seen riding on a pony.
- Calvin and Hobbes: Suzie ends a list of wishful thinking about improvements/politeness from Calvin with "and as long as I'm dreaming, I'd like a pony."
- Cruel Intentions 2 uses a sexily racy version of this trope.
- In Serenity, Mal dresses as a woman to get into the temple where Inara is being held. His first words to her are:
Mal: Dear Buddha, please bring me a pony, and a plastic rocket--
- Jessie's previous owner Emily in Toy Story 2. At least until she grows older...
- Discussed in George of the Jungle—the girls are all watching George frolicking with the horses, when one of the male guests at the party (who, of course, cannot see the King of the Jungle) comments "What is it with chicks and horses, huh?"
- From Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Veruca obtains her golden ticket, smiles and says: "Daddy, I want another pony."
- From Batman Returns:
The Penguin: Hey...why should I trust some cat-broad anyway? Maybe you're just some screwed-up sorority chick, who's getting back at her daddy for not buying her that pony when she turned sweet sixteen!
- Dodgeball: An Underdog Story: There's a close equivalent where Peter finds out through Kate's home decorating that she's obsessed about unicorns.
- Piers Anthony beats this trope to death, resurrects it, and then beats it to death again, and keeps on beating it in just about all his writing. ...maybe because he actually is the father of a horse-crazy girl.
- Possibly the reason why American Girls Collection Felicity Merriman exists. That and princess-y clothes, but she was far more historically accurate back in the day and still had the horse thing going on.
- In Soul Music, there's a bit about how a certain type of girl who will refuse to clean her bedroom, even at gunpoint, will fight for the privilege of mucking out a stable. Susan, however, is very much an exception, until she meets Binky.
- Adora Belle Dearheart (aka Spike) averts this, mentioning that she had a pony when she was younger but didn't like it very much. But she used to ride it or whatever you're supposed to do with the things.
- In Hogfather, Death, posing as the Santa Expy, promises to deliver a pony to a little girl, complete with jodhpurs. Cue said girl's mother trying to explain they live in an apartment.
- One Ross O Carroll Kelly novel claims that girls who grew up owning a horse end up mentally messed up, as their first love never showed any affection (horses not being the kindest of pets).
- At least some of the adaptations of Black Beauty, which may have even started the whole trend.
- George R. R. Martin has somebody theorize in his A Song of Ice and Fire that woman like horses because they rub them the right way. Although there are a few women who dislike horses, namely Sansa.
- Laisa of the Vorkosigan Saga. While a shrewd merchant/scholar, she is immediately taken with the idea of riding a horse when she visits Barrayar. This is justified though; her home planet, Komarr, is two notches up from being a lifeless rock, and so her wanting to ride a horse outside is kind of like someone from Arizona wanting to ski.
- Subverted by Cordelia Vorkosigan. When confronted with horseback as the only option for escape from assassins, she's not happy about it. Her home planet, like Laisa's, isn't known for its animals, and she's never been on one before. Afterward, she still doesn't care for horses, possibly because they remind her of her possibly-homicidal father-in-law.
- In 'Mountains of Mourning' you have this "God, thought Miles jealously, if I had half the sex-appeal of that bloody horse I'd have more girlfriends than my cousin Ivan. " Ivan being well known for his bed hopping.
- At the beginning of the sixth The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book, And Another Thing, four of the main characters experience a Lotus Eater Machine in which each of them are saved from the cliffhanger of Mostly Harmless in different ways. Fourteen year old Random Dent thinks they were rescued by unicorns.
- Oh-so-many paperback book series aimed at young girls, including The Saddle Club, Pony Pals and Thoroughbred books.
- Shel Silverstein's poem "Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony" is about a girl who withers away and dies when her foolish parents refuse to buy her a pony; the poem ends with the suggestion that the young reader use it to get stuff from his/her parents.
- Averted in the Secret Country books by Pamela Dean. Of the three female main characters, Ruth and Ellen are competent riders, but not terribly interested in horses. Laura, however, hates horses with a passion and tends to fall off of them as soon as she's put in the saddle. This is inconvenient for her, since the person she pretends to be for two books plays this trope straight.
- Subverted hard in The God of Animals by sisters Alice and Nona, who, having grown up in depressing circumstances on a struggling horse farm, have no illusions about horses, particularly in regards to the show circuit. Played more or less straight with Sheila, though she's viewed as a silly Spoiled Brat by the protagonist.
- Taken Up to Eleven in Winni Allfours. The girl of the title loves ponies, but her parents won't buy her one. In a whimsical twist, Winni eats all her vegetables to turn into a pony herself!
- In the third Codex Alera book, double-agent Rook has her daughter held hostage as leverage, and said daughter is very intent on getting away and going somewhere with ponies.
- Parodied in Our Dumb World, where the map of Zimbabwe points out a little girl soldier who wants to blow up an pony for her birthday.
- In Harry Potter Parvati Patil and Lavender Brown go into fits of delight whenever they get shown horselike magical creatures such as Hippogriffs, centaurs and unicorns. With regards to the unicorns, Alpha Bitch Pansy Parkinson is described as having to "work hard to conceal how much she liked them".
Live Action TV
- Summer from The OC. Also, Marissa's little sister Caitlin, before she got Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome. And non-little-girl Seth, of course.
- Elliot Reed from Scrubs. Prior to one episode her "best moment" of working in medicine was being able to ride a horse to work.
- JD's liking unicorns should be noted as detrimental to his image in Dr Cox's eyes.
- In one episode of The L Word, the titular lesbians have a party, and one of them speculates that straight girls wanted ponies, while lesbians wanted monkeys, and they ask around the table. The bisexual ones say ponies, and one says "Racecar".
- Veronica Mars must have used the pony joke at least five times.
- Rachel on Friends mentions having a pony once.
- Cordelia on Angel has a bracelet made of hair from the tail of her former pony, Keanu. (They actually manage to turn that into a plot point.)
- The infamous pony chapter of Seinfeld.
- Amanda from The Latest Buzz even goes so far as attempting to hide her pony in the office when she thinks her father is going to take it away.
- Daisy in Spaced, while arguing with Marsha about mothers (Series 1 Episode 6). According to the DVD commentary, Daisy had originally wanted a Tacchini jacket, but that was felt to be too obscure:
Marsha: All she wanted to do was show you somebody cared about you.
- In Robin Hood After a fight with Marian, Guy of Gisborne tries to appease her by...bringing her a pony! And it works. Of course in the Middle Ages getting a horse was rather like getting a car; a pretty palfrey was the equivalent of a classic convertible.
- Similarly, on The Mentalist, when Patrick Jane misses Teresa Lisbon's birthday (or at least turns up without a present,) she gets upset. Rather annoyed, he says, "What? Upset you didn't get your pony?" At the end of the episode, her absent present comes. It is, of course, a pony.
- In the later seasons of Full House, Michelle rides horses at a barn, and one of the other girls there races her and causes her to fall off the horse and get amnesia.
- Hilariously averted in Leverage: Parker is absolutely terrified of horses, stemming from a traumatic childhood incident in which a man in a horse suit beat up a clown during a birthday party.
- Ruthie rides a horse on Sunday in an episode of 7th Heaven.
- On Castle:
- Castle offers to buy Beckett a pony to make up for having poked into her mother's murder when she asked him not to. She's distinctly unimpressed.
- Beckett herself explains that every girl goes through a phase of wanting a Moped "when we realize we're never going to get a pony".
- On the Santa Claus Conquers the Martians episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Gypsy stated she want a pony for Christmas.
- In The Golden Girls S6:E11 (Stand by Your Man), Dorothy explains just how badly she wanted a pony when she was six:
Rose: I really wish you'd try to get along with Bingo. I mean, maybe you don't know the fun you can have with a pet. Have you ever actually had one?
- In the Everwood pilot Andy bribes Delia into moving to Colorado by telling her she can get her own pony.
- In Two Broke Girls, both Caroline and Max adore Caroline's horse Chestnut.
- Young Olive from Pushing Daisies wanted one after her first riding lesson. When her parents refuse she tries to go to Arabia, by taking the shortest possible route. About ten feet down she finds a T. Rex skeleton that an Arabian Shaw trades her a horse for the skeleton.
- Tom Petty, "Free Falling".
"She's a good girl; she's crazy about Elvis, loves horses, and her boyfriend too..."
- Jonathan Coulton, "Skullcrusher Mountain"
"I made this half-pony half-monkey monster to please you
- Louis CK, no stranger to deconstructing "adorable animal" cliches, recounts a story of him showing his daughter a large gathering of Italian wild ponies. She was elated right up until one of them reached down and bit her on the leg. CK and his kid looked it up later and discovered that, in fact, "ponies are assholes; they bite all the time!"
- Bella Sara is a trading card game that banks on this trope.
- My Little Pony is made of this trope.
- Lisa Frank. Bonus points for Tastes Like Diabetes.
- Maria Luna of Backyard Sports almost perfectly fits this trope. She has a huge collection of pony dolls and wants a real one. This is subverted, however, when she goes to the circus; she hates the ponies there.
- Robot Unicorn Attack is this trope turned Up to Eleven. Although honestly, who wouldn't want a robot rainbow unicorn?
- The box cover art for pretty much every horse-caring/raising/racing game will be aimed towards girls.
- In Death Spank, while performing fetch quests for Orphan Annie, DeathSpank tells her "If the next words out of your mouth are I Want a Pony" to which Annie answers "Really?!". Quest Update: Buy a pony for Annie.
- "Ghostcrawler promised me a pony!" is a World of Warcraft meme, referenced in-game by the 2010 addition of the Celestial Steed.
- Wheatley in Portal 2 tries to lure you into a Bottomless Pit by enticing you with the fact there's a Pony Farm.
- Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure features, as the title might lead you to believe, ponycorns, which are sort of like Unicorns, but smaller. Pony-sized, you might say.
- Referenced in a Crowning Moment of Funny in Mass Effect 3 when Liara's mother buys her a commando unit. When Liara questions why a commando unit her mother tells her that she's too old for a damn pony.
- In Darths and Droids, Sally "invents" Jar Jar Binks, giving him a pony face, then later describes the Gungan army as having dinosaur ponies.
- Millie from Ozy and Millie likes ponies. (On the other hand, so does the Dread Pirate Locke, so in that universe it might be a species thing instead of a gender thing.)
- Amber from Shortpacked collects My Little Pony figurines. Ethan got her started because he wanted to comfort her and give her something to do. The fact that this also turned her into a willing accomplice for his own toy collecting obsessions must have been purely coincidental, I'm sure.
- One story arc of The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob involves the characters encountering unicorns, and both Jean and Molly are totally smitten with the creatures. Molly, in particular, had requested a pony for her first birthday, and assumes she has gotten her wish when she meets the giant unicorn Unigar the Vast Unicorn.
- Joyce Brown from Its Walky, to the point where her battle mech only responds to commands with the word "pony" in them.
- Also played with, in that by that time she has changed a lot and is actually annoyed that the mech's programmer made those assumptions about her.
- The header picture comes from Homestuck, but it's actually a subversion in that Rose's mom presents it to her in (what Rose views as) a passive-aggressive attempt to smother her, and really doesn't want the pony (named MAPLEHOOF).
- In one chapter of Eerie Cuties, Nina is hit by a gender-reversal orb and becomes a boy. Later, when she is changed back, she says: "Hey! I like ponies again!"
- Played straight and parodied in this strip of Penny Arcade. All of the girls do love ponies, but then, so does Gabe.
- This Girls with Slingshots strip.
- Graham offers Celeste a Pony in Wizard School to let him go back to the real world - although he wants to feed it "processed pony chow, made from other ponies. Or whatever it is neglected ponies eat.".
- In Sinfest, God announces impending Doomsday. Monique's reaction: Ponies!
- Sarah of Lonelygirl15 thinks "ponies are awesome", as stated in "Getting Her Back".
- The Nostalgia Chick says that all girls go through a "horsie" phase (not her, though), which Hasbro exploited and exploited well.
- Serenity in Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series, who opens an evil door on the promise of ponies. Twice.
- The Whitest Kids U' Know used this and abused it in a similar matter to Family Guy.
- My Little Pony is built off this trope, and Megan, the main human character, has a pony of her own (that can't talk). She also takes Firefly's appearance out of nowhere and being whisked off to a land of talking ponies quite well.
- Friendship is Magic, in spite of its Periphery Demographic (adults ranging from 18-25), is very much aimed at little girls, and the diverse personalities of the characters were made specifically to appeal to various little girls. As Lauren Faust says, "There's no wrong way to be a girl."
- Ironically subverted in the series, since there's no humans in the series. The girls are the ponies themselves.
- Lisa Simpson from The Simpsons. On her Christmas list, she listed "pony" over and over again.
- Margo Sherman from The Critic (mostly horses, though).
- Dee-Dee from Dexter's Laboratory is a pony fancier, as are her cloney best friends.
- And there was the episode where she asked Dexter to turn her into a pony because she liked the My Little Ponies expy so much.
- Yin from Yin Yang Yo prefers Twonicorns but they're horses with two horns, who are erudite and speak in tough guy voices.
- Ginger of As Told by Ginger likes horses enough that her room is decorated with a horse motif.
- Amy from Futurama. When Kif creates a holographic pony for her as a romantic gift, she comments that it looks exactly like the pony her parents wouldn't let her have, because she already had too many.
- DW in Arthur is obsessed with ponies. When Arthur is trying to invent a new holiday, she immediately blurts out "Pony Day!" without missing a beat. In another episode, her choice for where to go on vacation is—or rather, in a bit of a plot twist, isn't—the theme park Ponyland. Francine showed an interest in horseback riding, but that may be more along the lines of her trying out any sport-related/athletic abilities she could get her hands on then an actual fondness.
- In the episode "The Story on Page One" from Family Guy, Peter attempts to give Meg a pony that she has wanted since she was 6 years old. Except, "Oh. Oh God, that's right... ponies... ponies like food, don't they? Oh boy." No girls like dead ponies.
- Becky occasionally mentions liking ponies in Word Girl. In the episode where her birthday takes place, her parents rent out a pony so she can ride it around her yard.
- Riley from The Replacements. Her obsession with the movie The Majestic Horse takes on epic proportions.
- On The Boondocks little Jasmine is so desperate to get a pony (which she wants to name "Sammy Davis JR the Pony") that she buys one on credit from the local Corrupt Corporate Executive, Ed Wuncler. She promises to pay him back with proceeds from her lemonade stand. But she ends up so deeply in debt to him that she's forced to work day and night just to keep up with the payments, and it's never really clear if her pony even exists (all she ever sees is a photo.)
- While not touched upon directly in the show, Isabella from Phineas and Ferb has ridden her share of horses in the show: a real one in "The Magnificent Few", a mechanical one in "Ain't No Kiddie Ride", and...Phineas as a centaur in "Isabella and the Temple of Sap" (Thankfully that was just a daydream though).
- Also, when Candace is having a weird dream and her brothers try to lure her off the straight and narrow with pastel unicorns. Dream-Phineas comments on how uncharacteristically girly that is and dream-Ferb reminds him that they ARE inside Candace's dream.
- Penny from The Mighty Bee really wanted a pony for her birthday.
- God, the Devil and Bob: Bob mentions that he doesn't think he's ready to deal with his daughter dating. God suggests a pony. "What's a pony gonna do?" "I dunno, I thought girls liked ponies."
- Tina from Bob's Burgers likes horses almost as much as she likes zombies.
- Subverted in Ugly Americans when male demon Twayne is instructed to think of his favorite thing to counter stage fright, he whispers "ponies, ponies, ponies" to himself.
- Played with in The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, when the cast goes to a backwards shadow dimension. Mandy meets an ultra-girly, feminine version of herself who of course loves ponies. Mandy psychologically BREAKS her, and turns her into an indistinguishably similar clone of herself. The pair then proceed to destroy all of the stuffed animals in the room with a chainsaw and a flamethrower.
- Another episode had Grim try to get money to renew a canceled series obviously parodying My Little Pony called "My Troubled Pony" by turning the violent Schlubs in Billy's backyward(who are themselves parodies of The Smurfs) into gold.
- Subverted with Mandy in yet another episode where they go to Costmo (the Bland-Name Product version of Cosco) and buys a gigantic box filled with porcelain unicorns, prompting Grim to wonder outloud why unicorns are such a big deal to little girls. Becomes a Brick Joke at the end where the unicorns are used as baseballs for Mindy to smash with her baseball bat.
- Played with and (double?) subverted in the first Christmas Episode of SpongeBob SquarePants. Mr. Krabs wishes for a pony... with saddlebags full of money.
- An episode of Camp Lazlo had the Beanscout trio trick their Distaff Counterparts, the Squirrel Scouts, into taking their spitting llama (which they thought was a unicorn) by sticking an ice-cream cone on its head. In addition, the Scouts themselves felt lousy that they didn't have any horses.
- Parodied in Dave the Barbarian with Twinkle the Marvel Horse. After Princess Candy grows out of this stage she stops visiting and he doesn't cope very well with being abandoned...
Twinkle the Marvel Horse: I've been...so lonely...in here. Such terrible thoughts one has. Alone. In the dark.
- (Except the ones who like ballet. Sometimes.)