Okay, basically I’ve watched all the prior generations of My Little Pony. And my conclusion is this: while there is stuff that can be borrowed from these generations, they need liberal interpretations to be truly salvageable.
If we are to force it all into a consistent history, it’s necessary to do some serious crowbarring. And my personal starting point would be re-order the various series.
In a more reasonable order, we start with My Little Pony Tales. An earth pony settlement in a southwest region of the continent, called Ponyland. Nuclear families, 1980’s technology, elected officials, etc. Evidence of an even older civilization called ‘The Pintos’ by the locals, but completely supplanted by the earth ponies. This settlement only comes into contact with Pegasi, and even then it is a brief event.
We then move on to G3. Ponyland has expanded, and the former town is now the city of Ponyville (City of Townsville! Sorry.) With the Castle of Laughter now the centerpiece to the town. Most of the culture remains the same, but one big shift is the genders becoming segregated, and the males are exiled from the tribe for extended periods. Magic has become more common, and those who are appointed to be the guardians of the magic tools the ponies have discovered are called ‘princesses’ as a title of rank. The earth ponies first encounter pegasi, unicorns, and the fairy ponies known as Breezies. Unicorns at this point control the sun, moon, and rainbows via various magical artifacts.
G3.5 occupies an odd place where the various pony tribes are just beginning to integrate. Selected Pegasi have ‘blended’ with Breezies in some magical event off-screen to become the first Flutterponies all ready for G1. Not all Pegasi, just certain ones.
Here is where the Hearth’s Warming Eve play would be set. A conflict occurs between the three main tribes, and the release of the Windigoes causing them to abandon their current regions, and find themselves in Dream Valley at the Castle of Friendship.
Now we come to G1’s My Little Pony ‘n Friends. The tribes are almost completely integrated, and thanks to the commonality of magic, technology has waned to the point of non-existence. The Rainbows created by the Unicorns back in Unicornia are now ‘wild’ thanks to the Windigo-driven conflict, but the original Rainbow is kept by the Moochick just in case. Flutterponies have separated off into their own region, taking with them the unicorn’s Sunstone that allowed them to control the sun. Male ponies are still nomadic, only reuniting with the mares on a yearly basis. All the guardians of magic have been similarly exiled, nominally for their protection, living in isolation in the former Unicornia in the Castle of Rainbows. Protection that is demonstrated time and again to be necessary, with the devastation of the Smooze, and flood of Squink, and what not.
It’s during G1 that the Elements of Harmony and the Crystal Heart are first discovered deep in the crystal caverns under the Castle of Rainbows. (The six crowns of the Heart of Ponyland). Thanks to the Season 4 FiM opener, we have to have the Elements end up in another cavern, this time under the Castle of Laughter, where a mysterious Tree grows, taking the Elements into itself.
Now is when the Prince and Princess occur from the Hearts and Hooves storybook, and Discord comes to play for an unknown amount of time. Young Celestia and Luna, descendants of the storybook Prince and Princess, so to be official Princesses right from the get go, go on a Hero’s Quest to discover the various artifacts now scattered across the world in order to defeat Discord. The Elements of Harmony, the Sun and Moon Stone, the Crystal Heart, etc. During this quest they alicoronate (possibly due to somehow merging with the Sun and Moon Stones respectively), encounter Sombra at the Castle of Family (now the Castle of Love in the capitol city of the Crystal Empire), and probably and a variety of other villains all over the region. They don’t always win or end up with the desired result, however, they do manage to get enough artifacts together to take on Discord and win in the end.
The sisters settle in the Castle of Laughter, in Ponyville, which gets renamed to the Castle of the Pony Sisters. The Princesses institute several changes, including a Hearts and Hooves Day to move the ponies back to a gender-integrated society and an attempt to compensate for the loss of the Crystal Heart when Sombra took his ball and went home.
Eventually Luna throws her fit, and that area is consumed by the Everfree Forest. Old Ponyville is destroyed, and the capitol of Equestria gets moved to Unicornia, now known as Canterlot. Celestia grants the Apple Family leave to settle in the valley below to form a New Ponyville. Of course, since Old Ponyville ceased to exist a bit over 900 years ago, they don't remember it very well so the 'New' part is lost.
Which then lands us close enough to where we are now. The big conceit in all this is that the various Castles all predate the ponies, being built by some prior civilization. Ponies are never native, they always come from someplace else originally, and always find these castles already there for them. Perhaps in states of decay needing rebuilding, but pre-existing.
Most of this requires having seen the prior series as more suggestive, and liberally interpreted. But if you want to construct a history out of all of it, that’s what you have to do. Other versions can be constructed as well, each equally contrived out of very little cloth, but if you take liberties to this extent it's *possible*.
As a final note, I'm aware that there are other resources for these prior generations beyond just the animated series. G1 and G2 had comic books in Europe apparently, and there are hundreds of published picture books for each generation. I didn't go through those because, well, I can't afford them all and there's a limit to what I'm capable of consuming anyway. Sorry if I've missed some critical bit of information hidden away in a book. Twilight would be so wroth with me.
I'm currently re-watching all of G4 and taking worldbuilding notes just like I did with the prior generations, but since that series is still ongoing, I can't exactly do full-series summary essays like I've done with the others. I'm not sure what I'm going to do, to tell the truth. Any suggestions? Should I even bother with summaries, or just leave the individual episode blog entries on their own?