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Derpy Hooves is a nickname given to a background pegasus character from the animated TV series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The moniker comes from a stillshot in the pilot episode, wherein the character is seen wearing a googly-eyed expression similar to the DERP face.
The name Derpy was conceived by the fans on 4chan’s /co/ board on October 25th, 2010. The original thread was submitted by Dr. Foreigner, who posted: “Go to 17:18 into the first episode and look at the ponies in the background. When you see it…”
The iconic Derpy eyes can be observed at 1:15 in the following video:
Following the pilot episode, Derpy has made several additional appearances with and some without the “derpy” eyes. Derp face has been also observed in two other unconfirmed variations of the character: A filly version (but manifested as a unicorn instead) and a purple-haired version that was seen in the episode “Winter Wrap Up” at 20 min and 1 sec mark. This effect is most likely due to the show’s “cloning” method in which they take various pre-defined patterns and put them together to make the background ponies.
The show’s creator, Lauren Faust, later explained on her deviantART page that the character’s googly-eyed face was an error by an animator. While the character was officially nameless at first, Lauren Faust has also expressed that she may use Derpy’s design for another pony named “Ditzy Doo”. Ditzy is mentioned in the episode “Winter Wrap Up” as a rather dim-witted pegasus pony, but she has not been introduced onscreen. Quote from Lauren Faust about Derpy Hooves:
From Fyre-Flye (Lauren Faust) –
"Ha! I lurk around a bit and I noticed the Derpy phenomenon. As far as I know, her wall eyed moment was an accident -- or perhaps a layout artist entertaining him/herself. Who knows? Background ponies have no name, and their butt symbols are picked at random, so she can be Derpy if everyone likes. A later episode references a less-than-intelligent local pegasus named “Ditzy Doo” so maybe she can be her if we ever need to show her. But I would not want to step on everyone’s Derpy love."
Faust later sold two sketches of characters from the show’s “original pitch bible” to help with the relief effort in Japan that was going on at the time. The user that won these two sketches, Metacritter, decided immediately to put one of the items back up for sale on ebay in an auction. Upon asking Lauren Faust for the blessing of this auction, he received this response in one of her deviantART journals:
From Fyre-Flye (Lauren Faust) –
“I’m offering 2 more drawings from the same batch of development sketches---- plus a brand new sketch. The first time I’ve ever drawn this character.”
The file name of the picture reads “derpy11.jpg” suggesting the name for the pony. This original drawing of Derpy Hooves went on to raise $2,151 on ebay.
MLP Staff Response
After the numerous appearances by Derpy in season one, the fans were very curious if the background character would continue to make appearances and if they would be more lines for her. The directer, Jayson Thiessen, responded that she would indeed be making future appearances and that they would be in an “I Spy” fashion.
Holding to their word, Derpy has made multiple appearances in Season 2.
On January 21st, 2012, the 14th episode of the second season “The Last Roundup” aired. During the episode, the character Rainbow Dash addresses the background character as “Derpy,” recognizing her popularity within in the Brony fandom.
After the episode aired, fans quickly started discussing Derpy’s canon appearance, showing positive reactions and enthusiasm towards the gesture as a fan service. Equestria Daily also mentioned her canon appearance as Derpy. The show’s supervising director, Jayson Thiessen, announced on his Twitter that the character was voiced by Tabitha St. Germain, who is credited for several other characters like Rarity, Luna and Granny Smith.
On January 21st, 2012, Derpy Hooves News published a post titled “Derpy Hooves: Mentally Handicapped or Just Clumsy?” which suggested that some people found the Derpy Hooves character offensive toward disabled people. On January 30th, Redditor Orgwolf submitted a post to the /r/mylittlepony subreddit speculating that the original episode has been removed from iTunes as a result of people complaining that the name “Derpy” was offensive. The next day, Equestria Daily posted about the controversy but concluded that “Derpy is here to stay, and all fears should be sent TO THE MOON.” On February 2nd, 2012, Equestria Daily published a post stating that the “mailmare is in trouble” and provided a link to a Change.org petition for Hasbro to keep Derpy’s name.
The same day, Derpy Hooves News reported that a “reliable anonymous source” informed them that Hasbro was asking WeLoveFine T-Shirts to remove all Derpy Hooves merchandise and YouTuber Saberspark uploaded a video claiming that Derpy fans should remain calm and wait to hear a official response from Hasbro concerning the rumors:
On February 3rd, a “Save Derpy Hooves” image reached the front page of the /r/mylittlepony subreddit, accumulating over 1,000 upvotes within 17 hours.
Later on February 3rd, WeLoveFine changed all products that were given different names, back to their original. Equestria Daily also featured this the same day.
In late February, several weeks after the episode had aired, iTunes re-released the episode after it was taken off for a few days. The new iTunes version contained a slightly modified Derpy including the lack of Rainbow Dash calling her by the name “Derpy.” The modified Derpy Hooves did not have the signature “derp eyes” and featured a different voice as seen below.
Though the modified release put off most fans, the “The Friendship Express” DVD release from Shout! Factory was confirmed to contain the original version of the episode. Kreoss (an animator of the show) also released a note on his DeviantArt page to assure fans that future episodes of the show would safely contain more of the same, original Derpy.
Portrayal in Fan Fiction
Following the viral rise of My Little Pony on 4chan’s /co/, Derpy quickly became one of the fan-favorite characters, establishing itself as a popular subject of fan fictions and illustrations.’’
The character is often portrayed in online tributes and fan fictions as the town’s “mailmare” despite her appearance in the show as a crew member of a moving company, which was established through fan-fictions released prior to the broadcast of the official episode. In this alternate storyline, Derpy is seen as being extremely efficient at her job despite her lack of dexterity and mental capacities. She has been also paired up as the companion of Dr. Whoof, another off-screen pony who has taken on an online identity of his own due to Internet popularity.
Apparently, Derpy Hooves has been also referred to as the mother of a young pony named “Dinky”. This pony appears to be the unicorn variation of Derpy aforementioned by Lauren Faust.
March 1st has become known as the “Derpy Day” due to a group started on Facebook. It can be celebrated by:
- Eating muffins
- Wearing gray
- Making derpy eyes in mirrors and photos
- Delivering letter by hand
One of the most common associations with Derpy Hooves is …muffins. The show placed her in the background of a scene where some muffins were being given out. In episode four of the TV series, she is seen mouthing the word “Muffin” as the word is being said. Here is the footage:
Derpy Emptied your Fridge
Another popular phrase associated with Derpy Hooves is “I emptied your fridge”. Sometimes this involves muffins in the fridge, but it’s commonly the entire fridge. A popular fan-named background pony called Carrot Top is usually combined with Derpy Hooves in these images.
Screwball & Screwloose
Screwball and Screwloose are two fan-named background ponies originating from the second season of the show, Screwball from Episode 2, The Return of Harmony Part 2, and Screwloose from Episode 16, Read It and Weep. During their appearance, both characters showed a derp-eyed look and derp-like behavior. Because of their somewhat similar looks and behavior, fans often associate them with Derpy, resulting in the characters often being combined in fanworks.
Derpy related websites
This character has become so popular that there are a number of websites, games, and videos made in her honor. One of these websites is called DerpyHooves.com, which brings the latest updates on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic as well as forum discussions, pictures of Derpy, IRC chats, games, and other related information. There is also multiple webmail sites called Derpymail, which boast the ability to “take your mail and send it in all directions.” In addition, My Little Pony-themed single topic blog Equestria Daily also provides an ample coverage on Derpy.
Search queries for “derpy hooves” picked up in December of 2010, two months after the character was named on 4chan.
Derpy Hooves News – Hasbro Pressuring WeLoveFine to remove Derpy Merchandise