The series stars a unicorn pony named Twilight Sparkle, who is a pupil of Equestria's ruler Princess Celestia. Seeing the young pony buried in books, the princess sends her to Ponyville and gives her the task of making...展开friends. Along with her assistant, a baby dragon named Spike, she becomes friends with the tomboyish Rainbow Dash, glamorous Rarity, hard-working Applejack, timid Fluttershy, and hyperactive Pinkie Pie. Together they explore the ins and outs of the town and solve various problems. Each episode usually ends with Twilight Sparkle reporting back to Celestia on some aspect of friendship that she has discovered in the process, either through her own experience or by watching the other ponies.
The six main characters are written as young adults with a maturity level in the 12-18 year old range, but several episodes focus on the exploits of a much younger trio of pony characters called the "Cutie Mark Crusaders" who are trying to discover what their special talents may be (and thus gain the corresponding "cutie marks" on their flanks).