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Sitting Lyra is an exploitable series based on an image of a background unicorn character sitting on a bench in the animated TV series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Due to the character’s human-like posture, the image has grown into a notable source material for various photoshopped images and multi-pane comics related to the cartoon show.
The image of the background character, whose fan-given nickname is Lyra Heartstrings, stems from a scene in Season 1, Episode 7 titled “Dragonshy,” (shown below) which first aired on November 26th, 2010.
Sitting Lyra was first mentioned on 4chan’s /co/ (cartoon) board on November 26th, 2010, the same day as the original air date. An anonymous user posted a screenshot of the scene where Lyra appears on the bench.
Lyra made her first appearance as early as in the pilot episode, but the character began to gain fan interest with her trademark sitting position depicted in the 7th episode. Because her cutie mark is shaped like a lyre (an instrument resembling a harp) fans had been calling the pony “Lyra” since the first season. However, in November of 2011, Hasbro released a new line of toys that included a pony resembling Lyra, which was named “Heartstrings” instead. Nevertheless, “Lyra” has proven resilient among the fans who continued referring to the character with the nickname in fanfiction and artworks.
Character description from the MLP: FIM Wiki.
Originally seen in Canterlot, but is one of the most frequently seen background ponies in Ponyville. Very emotional and prone to crying at little things or bouncing around during group shots. Often seen with her friend Bon-Bon, she appears hornless in one instance. In Sonic Rainboom she is seen bouncing on clouds – a feat that normally only pegasus ponies are capable of. Known for sitting like a human when on park benches.
Images with the tag “Lyra” began appearing on another My Little Pony-related imageboard Ponibooru in March 2011. Fan art of Lyra almost always depicts the character in a sitting position, similar to the template image shown above.
Because Lyra and Bonbon are seen together so often, fans often ship the two characters together. The fan-fiction often depicts Lyra as the more outgoing of the two, with Bonbon being more shy. Lyra usually works as a musician, and so fan depictions of her often cross over with Octavia and Vinyl Scratch -- though few of these depictions are supported by canon.
Some fans identify Lyra with her sitting so strongly that it has begun to affect how people interpret her character and her interaction with Bon-Bon. There have been several instances where Lyra’s sitting has caused tension between the two – with Bon-Bon failing to understand the behavior. These depictions have set a pattern for how fan works characterize the two ponies, with Lyra being somewhat odd and free-spirited, and Bon-Bon being more reserved and balanced.
Over time, Lyra’s posture come to define both Lyra and Bon-Bon’s characters and the relationship between them. This trend spans over several mediums, including drawings, comics, image macros, and fan-fiction, such as the shipping fanfiction titled “How Lyra met Bon-Bon,” which was posted onto Equestria Daily on February 14th, 2011. It has spread so far as to encompass virtually every fan-depiction of either pony anywhere on the internet.
Being one of the better known background ponies in the fandom, it is not uncommon to see threads solely dedicated to Lyra on places like Ponychan’s /oat/ board. “Sitting Lyra” also yields some results on both Ponibooru and DeviantART. Lyra also has her own group on DeviantART, in which Sitting Lyra art can often be found. Someone even made Lyra papercraft, which also features Sitting Lyra.
The theme of “Sitting Lyra” can be found in a lot more of fanart than just those mentioned here. Not all of them use Sitting Lyra or certain developments that are the result of Sitting Lyra, but they do take up the majority. Another reason for this is that certain fans and artist see Sitting Lyra as a standard in Lyra fanart. Therefore certain tags aren’t added when they upload the image, even though they are present.
As with most of the My Little Pony characters, Lyra has often been drawn as a human, or in a humanoid form. In addition to following most of the tropes and patterns associated with anthropomorphic pony characters, Lyra images usually show her trying – somewhat ironically – to act like a pony, or at the very least to have an affinity for ponies in some way. One of the earliest such images was uploaded to Ponibooru in March of 2011:
Though this early image does not show the humanized Lyra wanting to be a pony, it does establish both Lyra’s affinity for ponies and Bon-Bon’s perplexed reaction – both of which are present in the meme as it normally is, but with the ponies and humans swapped. Since this trend began, the trend has become much more specific – to where the majority of humanized Lyra images show her wanting to be a pony in some way. In addition, Lyra has been portrayed as walking on her hind legs, having human-like hands and wearing cloths in other fanmade artworks.
According to an explanation posted via AllSpark forum by one of the layout artists for the show, the pairing was a complete co-incidence:
“The Lyra/Bonbon pairing I’d say is mostly coincidental. When setting up a crowd scene I tend to place ponies next to each other based on their colors as well as the colors of the surroundings. You want the colors to compliment each other but also not draw attention away from the focus of the scene. Lyra/Bonbon look good next to each other, which is why it just seems to happen most of the time. I do like how it’s played out amongst the fans (I can kinda see them as being best friends).”
However, in the now-famous Comic Con 2011 poster – in which Hasbro depicted a group shot of the show’s entire roster, including several characters that had only become popular in the brony community – Lyra and Bon-Bon are shown together and looking at each other, which may indicate that Hasbro is at least aware of the pairing.
Lyra received further recognition on February 11, 2012, when another pony with her design was included (once again under the name “Heartstrings”) in a new collection of dolls. This is the second collection of dolls to include Lyra’s design.
In November 2011, Hasbro released a series of blindbag ponies which used color palettes of various popular background characters from the show. One of the ponies used Lyra’s design, but was given the name “Heartstrings”. In March 2012, Hasbro made the name “Lyra” canon with its release of a new set of blindbag ponies. In this set another pony with Lyra’s design appeared, this time with “Lyra Heartstrings” as the given name.
Derivative: TV Lyra
Another trend centered around Lyra is to take a piece of fanart showing Lyra sitting on a couch watching television and then edit an image below her, similar to Fluttershy Holding Things.
Search Interest for Sitting Lyra starts getting popular in June 2011.
Equestria Daily – "’Official’ Blind Bag Pony Names ":http://www.equestriadaily.com/2011/11/official-blind-bag-pony-names.html