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Ponification, or to ponify, is the act of turning people, fictional characters or objects into a cartoon pony, mainly in the style of characters featured in the television series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The process of ponification varies from manipulating canonical characters from the show into the role of a character from another fandom or a meme (for example, placing Derpy Hooves into an Ancient Aliens-style photo) to creating a non-canonical My Little Pony character (changing Giorgio A. Tsoukalos into a pony). The infinitive verb to ponify has also been used to describe the jargonization process of Bronyspeak.
One of the earliest known instances of Ponification was based on a video game character named Emi from Katawa Shoujo and posted to Ponibooru on December 27th, 2010. The pony character incorporated Emi’s hairstyle and its hind legs were replaced with prosthetic limbs similar to the ones Emi uses in the game.
The act of turning things into a different or fictional species is not unique to the My Little Pony fandom. Gijinka, the act of turning fictional non-humans into a human equivalent, was first recorded in 1753. The Japanese art style Kemono and the Furry subculture are similar, but centered around turning characters or people into their animal equivalents, both often featuring original characters. Other subcultures that often use this type of species-changing in their fan art online include Pokemon and Cats.
Previous generations of My Little Pony are also still used in ponifications and already existed before the start of the fourth generation of the series, although they are not as common. These ponifications, although also being present in art, are mainly based on dolls and figurines. They are most commonly shared on DeviantArt groups such as My Little Custom and CustomMLPValley.
The earliest ponification fan art on deviantArt was shared on February 25th, 2011 featuring three competitors from the 2009 Original Character Tournament (OCT) 1 Dollar Fighter.MLP:FiM image board Ponibooru gives over 275 pages of results for “ponified” as of May 2012. On deviantArt, searching for “ponified” yields more than 4450 results whereas “my little pony crossover” provides more than 7600 results as of May 2012. Various My Little Pony deviantArt groups including MLP:FiM and E-qual-estria have specific folders for crossover fan art. On Tumblr, these images are shared under the tags “ponified” and “ponification”. The show itself also used multiple ponies who were based upon people, although not being direct ponifications of those persons. So is the character Hoity Toity based on German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld and the character Photo Finish on the editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine Anna Wintour. Another popular usage of ponification used in the show were four background ponies who shared similar looks to the main cast of the 1998 comedy film The Big Lebowski.
Memes often get ponified with either characters from the show edited to fit the meme template or the subject of the meme edited into a pony version of itself. This is often seen with Advice Animals, Exploitables and Reaction Faces. Some of these also use examples directly taken from the show or fandom. So is Good Guy Fancy Pants a variation of Good Guy Greg based on the character Fancy Pants’ actions in the show.
Rule of the Internet
“If it exists, there is a pony of it. No exceptions.”
As of October 2011, ponification has largely been accepted as a Rule of the Internet. The website rulesoftheinternet.com has listed it as a sub-rule of Rule 34. The MLP:FiM fandom also created their own version of the rules of the internet in which the Rule 34 has been altered to the text shown above. The single topic blog There Is A Pony For That also describes itself as an “Alternate Rule 34”. On Urban Dictionary, searching for “ponify” redirects to the entries for Rule 42 and Rule 85, which are also referenced in the Tv Tropes entry.
Ponification also exists in fan fiction, where fans will blend elements from video games, anime or television shows with elements from the Ponyverse. These fanfics can vary from stories featuring ponies taking place in the original’s work’s universe, to recreating the original storyline with a pony equivalent. Many of these crossover fanfictions can be found on Equestria Daily’s fanfic archive, Fimfiction, and fanfiction.net. Some of these fanfics have grown into novel-length works such as Fallout Equestria, World of Ponycraft and Death Note Equestria.
Doctor Whooves is a fan-given name for a light brown background pony from the show who first appeared in the 11th episode of the first season, Winter Wrap Up. He is commonly seen as a ponified version of the tenth incarnation of Doctor Who, played by actor David Tennant, due to their similar appearances. This character has been featured on Neatorama and Buzzfeed and is a popular subject on fanfiction.net.