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Discord is a villain in the animated television series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (MLP: FiM). A pony-dragon hybrid known as a “draconequus," the character is introduced in the show’s second season premiere as a cunning manipulator with powerful magical abilities. In the show, Discord performs a shuffle-style dance which inspired a series of YouTube remix videos.
On September 12th, 2011, the tech news blog Wired posted a leaked one minute clip showing footage from the upcoming second season of MLP:FiM. In the video, several ponies discover Discord at the entrance to a hedge maze, where he proceeds to disable their magical powers in order to make them play a game of his choosing. The same day, a screen capture of the footage was posted on the Cheezburger site My Little Brony.
Discord is the former ruler of Equestria, the land in which MLP:FiM takes place. During his reign, he was seen as a tyrant by Equestria’s inhabitants, which caused Celestia and her sister Luna to imprison him in stone using magical artifacts known as the “Elements of Harmony.” When the artifacts broke their bond with Celestia and Luna, they connected to Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rarity and Rainbow Dash, which allowed Discord to break free from the prison. Using powerful magic and illusions, Discord manipulated the ponies in a series of tests but was ultimately turned to stone by the Elements of Harmony a second time.
On September 13th, 2011, the web culture blog UpRoxx published an article titled “Good News, Bronies: My Little Pony is Back, and Star Trek’s Q is Voicing the Villain”, which contained an embed of the leaked video footage from Wired. On September 17th, the full episode “The Return of Harmony” was released, which featured Discord as the primary antagonist against Twilight Sparkle and her friends. The same day, DeviantArt user Vitoamito submitted a fan art of the character.
On October 22nd, a photograph of Discord papercraft sculpture (below, left) was posted on the Paperkraft art blog. On October 31st, FanFiction.net user Bronuis Maximus submitted a fanfiction story titled “Discord’s Reign”, which received mostly positive reviews from the community. On May 5th, 2012, an animated pixel art version of the character was posted on My Little Brony.
The meme has continued to spread on sites like Deviantart, Ponibooru, the /r/mylittlepony subreddit and Ponychan. As of May 15th, 2012, a Facebook page for Discord has received over 3,100 likes.
In the second season premiere of MLP:FiM, Discord performs a dance similar to the Melbourne Shuffle in a stained glass window. On September 17th, 2011, YouTuber Trizero126 posted a video of Discord performing the dance to the song “On the Dancefloor” by the electronic musician David Guetta (shown below, top, left). The same day, the single-serving site Disco Discord was launched, which featured the looped animation accompanied by the song “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” by the electronic duo Daft Punk. Shortly after, other YouTubers began uploading remix videos of the dance scene, in similar fashion to the DJ P0N-3 dub videos.
John de Lancie
Discord is voiced by the American actor John de Lancie. The day after the first Discord episode aired on September 18th, 2011, de Lancie reacted to the sudden surge in attention from pony fans on his Twitter account.
Roddenberry warned me that I had no idea what I was getting into with Star Trek. Someone should have warned me about My Little Pony! Egads!
— John de Lancie (@johndelancie) September 18, 2011
De Lancie is known for playing the omnipotent trickster Q in the science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. In an interview at the 2011 BronyCon convention, MLP: FiM supervising director Jayson Thiessen mentioned that Discord was created with the Q character in mind. On September 25th, sections of the interview were posted to the MLPonies Forums by member Headless Horse.
"Discord was a character straight off Lauren’s pen, because apparently she’d been bingeing on Trek:TNG lately at the time that script got written. She decided to play him just like Q, because why the hell not? She’d originally planned to have Discord voiced by a De Lancie soundalike; but then during one of the meetings, someone (Jayson said it might well have been him) just said, “Why don’t we just try to get the real guy?” Sure it cost money, but Hasbro said why the hell not? And John was free, and he was game, so there’s our Discord. Why the hell not?"
Search query volume for Discord rose in September 2011, the same month the leaked footage was released on Wired.