Princess Luna, formerly Night Mare Moon or Nightmare Moon, is a winged unicorn, the younger sister of Princess Celestia, and the antagonist in the first two episodes of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic. Luna is transformed back to her former self through the magic of the Elements of Harmony and returns to rule Equestria together with her sister.
Her name, "Luna", means "moon" in Latin. The Friendship is Magic book, which comes with one of the gift sets of the toys, references her as Selena, "selene" (Σελήνη) meaning "moon" in Greek. More specifically, Luna is the Latin name for the Greek moon goddess Selene, who is the daughter of Hyperion and Theia in Greek mythology. Additionally, in the European French dub, Night Mare Moon was renamed as La Jument Séléniaque, which literally means "The Selene Mare." Night Mare Moon's title, "Mare in the Moon", is a play on the mythic Man in the Moon.
Princess Luna's mane has changed from her first appearance in Friendship is Magic, part 2, from opaque and still to translucent and flowing in Luna Eclipsed. Her old design is still used in the promotional online game Canterlot Castle, and her old mane is partly visible in some of the shots in Luna Eclipsed. Lauren Faust has stated that when Luna is fully grown, she will not look like Night Mare Moon.
A pony based on Luna's design is used in Sweet and Elite. One of the show's layout artists suggested that the tall, slender build may have been used to give the pony a supermodel-like appearance.
[The younger unicorn princess, later named Princess Luna, in the first episode's prologue.Princess Luna is introduced in the prologue of the first episode, depicted in a series of medieval-like drawings with a narration that says "two regal sisters who ruled together and created harmony for all the land", and that "the eldest used her unicorn powers to raise the sun at dawn. The younger brought out the moon to begin the night."
Nightmare Moon, from the prologue. The narration continues: their subjects, the ponies, played in the day but "shunned" the night and slept through it, which made the younger unicorn grow bitter, eventually refusing to lower the moon to make way for the dawn. Her bitterness transformed her into a "wicked mare of darkness", Nightmare Moon. The elder sister reluctantly harnessed the power of the Elements of Harmony and banished her "in" the moon, taking responsibility for both sun and moon, maintaining harmony in Equestria.
Following the prologue, Twilight Sparkle reads of a prophecy that states that "on the longest day of the thousandth year the stars will aid in [The Mare in the Moon's] escape, and she will bring about nighttime eternal", though Spike dismisses it as "an old ponies' tale". While composing a letter to Princess Celestia warning her of the danger, an image of Night Mare Moon is reflected in a giant hourglass that Twilight passes by. The day of Night Mare Moon's return is also the thousandth day of the Summer Sun Celebration, so Princess Celestia sends Twilight to oversee the celebration's preparations which are held in Ponyville, and encourages Twilight to "stop reading those dusty old books" and make some friends. The events of the first and second episodes revolve around Twilight Sparkle and her new friends' attempt to defeat Night Mare Moon by finding and using the Elements of Harmony, while Night Mare Moon tries to stop them in various ways. At the end of the second episode, Twilight and her friends confront Night Mare Moon and transform her back into Princess Luna, and she emotionally accepts Princess Celestia's offer to rule by her side again.
The show's developer, Lauren Faust, explained in a comment on her deviantArt page that Luna could not have been "drawn" from Night Mare Moon for a thousand years, and that Princess Celestia "did what she could" to orchestrate breaking the spell that turned Luna into Night Mare Moon. Faust added that this explanation is "as far as [she] ever got with it", and that the explanation might unfold differently on the show.
Prior to ruling EquestriaEdit
Stained-glass art of Celestia and Luna defeating Discord.Princess Luna doesn't make any further appearances in the series until Luna Eclipsed, which aired exactly one year after her previous appearance. However, more of her history is mentioned in The Return of Harmony Part 1. In the episode, Princess Celestia tells Twilight Sparkle and her friends that she and Luna discovered the Elements of Harmony and used them to turn Discord, the Spirit of Chaos and Disharmony, into stone. Discord's spell is later broken because, as Celestia explains, "Luna and [herself] are no longer connected to the elements."
Despite most ponies not recognizing Night Mare Moon upon her return, the episode Luna Eclipsed shows the ponies celebrating an annual festival called Nightmare Night, where foals go door-to-door in costumes collecting candy, which they later offer to the effigy of Night Mare Moon. Zecora tells in verse of the legend of Night Mare Moon, which explains the customs of the holiday:
- Every year, we put on a disguise
- To save ourselves, from her searching eyes
- But Night Mare Moon wants just one thing
- To gobble up ponies in one quick swing
- Hungrily, she soars the sky
- If she sees nopony, she passes by
- So if she comes and all is clear
- Equestria is safe another year
- Fill up her belly with a treat or two
- So she won't return to come eat you
When Princess Luna returns after her thousand-year absence, she is still mistaken by Spike and others as Night Mare Moon, especially by Pinkie Pie who rouses up a gaggle of foals by shrieking at misconstrued acts of violence perpetrated by Princess Luna.
Although she originally intended to change the festival into a "bright" celebration, at the end of the episode Luna accepts Nightmare Night for what it is: a night of innocent scares, harmless pranks, and lots of candy.
Personality as Night Mare MoonEdit
Much like arch-typical, over-the-top villains, Night Mare Moon is overly confident of herself and dramatically declares that the protagonist is a fool (foal) for thinking she can defeat her, and that "the night will last forever".
The narration at the beginning of Friendship is Magic, part 1 speaks of Night Mare Moon's bitterness which transformed her. When she first appears, she intimidates the ponies with her evil laugh and pointed questions. She snidely refers to the ponies as her "beloved subjects", but appears genuinely impressed when Twilight Sparkle recognizes her as Night Mare Moon.
Night Mare Moon uses her magic to indirectly set obstacles in Twilight's and her friends' path to the Elements of Harmony, making creatures unwittingly assist her, like the manticore whose paw she embeds with a thorn so he'd attack the ponies, or the sea serpent whose mustache she cuts off so he'd make the river impassible. She further indirectly attacks the ponies by causing a cliff side to collapse underneath the ponies' feet, and by making trees appear as monsters. As the Shadowbolts, she tries to persuade Rainbow Dash to abandon her friends so they won't be able to cross a fallen bridge and reach the Elements of Harmony.
Despite her indirect approach, when she is attacked by the royal guards, she quickly repels them with lightning, then turns into mist and floats away. She also confronts Twilight Sparkle directly when the two charge at each other, right before shattering the Elements of Harmony.
Personality as Princess LunaEdit
Once transformed back to her former self, Princess Luna is remorseful and tearful upon seeing her sister. She runs to her fold and the two later join a celebration in Ponyville where Luna receives a welcome wreath in wonderment, and gazes up with an anxious smile at her sister. This is Luna's last appearance in the series until Luna Eclipsed. Princess Luna returned to the show exactly one year after the broadcast date of Friendship is Magic, part 2, in the episode Luna Eclipsed. The episode takes place in Ponyville during Nightmare Night. Despite wanting to win over the citizens of Ponyville, the townspeople are frightened of her booming voice and assertive manner. Twilight Sparkle tells Spike that Luna must be having trouble adjusting after being gone for a thousand years.
When Luna tries to express her happiness with being purged of her dark powers, Twilight tells her that she sounds like she's yelling, and Luna explains that she's using the "traditional Canterlot voice", the royal we, and high volume in order to properly address her subjects. She uses archaic terms like "hath," "thy," "nay," and "thou," and other archaic terms and idiomatic constructs.
Twilight encourages Luna to lower the volume of her voice, but Luna is hesitant. Twilight Sparkle recruits Fluttershy's help in teaching Luna to speak in a softer voice, and later takes her to Ponyville so Applejack can show her how to be likable. For a short while, Luna manages to mingle with the villagers of Ponyville and have fun with them, by playing games where she throws toy spiders or pumpkins onto a target.
Princess Luna reverts to her intimidating self after Pinkie Pie and Pipsqueak accuse her of gobbling Pipsqueak's backside. She attempts to endear herself on the villagers by turning toy spiders into real spiders, trying to elicit "fun" by making them crawl on their own to the bulls-eye, but the spiders only frighten everyone. The villagers panic and flee, and after a few seconds of indecision, Luna stops the commotion by shouting "BE STILL" in her royal Canterlot voice, to the accompaniment of a crack of thunder. She then decrees in anger that since the ponies dishonor and insult her with the celebration, Nightmare Night is canceled forever.
Thanks to Pinkie Pie's insight, Twilight Sparkle realizes that because of the holiday, Pinkie Pie and her entourage actually want to be frightened, so she arranges for Luna to purposefully scare them. Luna appears as Night Mare Moon, scares the ponies, and bares fangs. After the ponies run away in fright, she changes back to her usual appearance and spits out the false fangs she was wearing, confused as to why Twilight wanted her to do that. Then one of the foals, Pipsqueak, approaches Luna on behalf of the children and asks her to come back and scare them again next year, even though she canceled Nightmare Night. Luna begins to understand and reinstates Nightmare Night, at which point Pipsqueak declares her his "favorite princess ever" and hugs her leg.
The princess manages to relinquish the use of her royal Canterlot voice, and in the epilogue she plays a variety of games with the villagers, accepts the foals' candy, and frightens Rainbow Dash by firing a bolt of lightning behind her.
Raising the moonEdit
Princess Luna is said in the first episode to be responsible for raising the moon to bring about the night. When she refused to lower the moon to make way for the sun, her sister Princess Celestia had to use the magic of the Elements of Harmony to stop her.
Wielding the Elements of HarmonyEdit
Later in the series, in The Return of Harmony Part 1, Celestia mentions that she and her sister both wielded the Elements of Harmony to defeat Discord and turn him to stone. However, as Celestia further mentions, Luna can no longer wield the Elements since she (and her sister) are "no longer connected" to them.
Night Mare Moon uses lightning to repel the guards in Friendship is Magic, part 2, and thickens the mist over the fallen bridge later in the episode to prevent Rainbow Dash from hearing Twilight Sparkle calling out to her.
Princess Luna manipulates the weather too, in Luna Eclipsed. She makes clouds swirl above her in the sky when she decrees that Nightmare Night is canceled, and produces lightning from a cloud to playfully frighten Rainbow Dash, who has been doing the same to other ponies throughout the episode.
Night Mare Moon appears out of mist in Ponyvilles pavilion.Night Mare Moon's mane is made of floaty, starry, purple mist, and she transforms into mist several times. She appears out of the mist in Ponyville's pavilion where the Summer Sun Celebration is being held, and she leaves the pavilion in a similar way, floating out into the night. The mist floats by Twilight's library window as the ponies learn that the Elements of Harmony are located in the "ancient castle of the royal pony sisters"; it follows them throughout their journey.
When the ponies stand on a cliff side, the mist seeps into the ground, and the cliff side collapses as the mist leaves. The landslide carries the ponies to the mouth of a deep chasm, with Twilight Sparkle dangerously dangling over the edge, but Applejack keeps her from falling long enough so her pegasus friends Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash can catch her and bring her down safely.
The mist floats straight into a manticore, making it lift its paw and growl. When the ponies come across it, it growls and attacks them, and the ponies fight back. Fluttershy manages to stops the fighting and calms the beast, then extracts a thorn from its paw, making him docile and affectionate. After the ponies leave, the thorn turns to purple mist.
The mist then seeps into several trees when the moon sets, and in the darkness the trees appear as monsters. All the ponies are frightened, except Pinkie Pie, who bursts into song and shows the other ponies that the monstrous trees turn back to normal when if you laugh at them.
When the ponies come across a sea serpent, he tells them that a "tacky little cloud of purple smoke just whisked past [him] and tore half of [his] beloved mustache clean off." The serpent's agitated wiggling causes the river to be tumultuous, preventing the ponies from passing it. Rarity, deeply affected by this "crime against fabulosity", picks off a sharp scale from the serpent, cuts off the hair from her own tail, and magically restores the serpent's mustache with it. The calm, grateful serpent, creates a bridge out of his own coils and helps the ponies cross the river.
The purple mist appears again, slithering past Rainbow Dash as she tries to fix the fallen bridge leading to the ancient castle ruins. Rainbow Dash hears someone calling her name, telling her they have been awaiting her, the "best flier in Equestria". "The Shadowbolts", a trio of ponies who resemble The Wonderbolts from Rainbow Dash's poster, gallop from the darkness and introduce themselves as "the greatest aerial team in the Everfree forest", then ask Rainbow Dash to join them as captain. When Rainbow Dash asks to fix the bridge first, the Shadowbolts present an ultimatum: "[i]t's either them or us". Dash thanks them for the offer but declines, and fixes the bridge for her friends. The Shadowbolts then turn into starry purple mist, join together, and float away.
The purple mist appears one last time when the ponies find the Elements of Harmony. It swirls around the elements and teleports them, along with Twilight who jumps into the whirlwind, to another chamber in the ancient castle ruins. Night Mare Moon appears with the Elements floating around her, then she and Twilight charge each other; Twilight teleports to the elements mid-way, and Night Mare Moon turns back to mist and quickly floats back to the Elements. She shatters the elements by stomping on the ground, and declares that "the night will last forever." Twilight's friends join her, and after figuring out the magic of the elements, they transform Night Mare Moon back to her former self. Princess Celestia returns and reunites with her sister, offering her to rule together.
Later in the series, in Luna Eclipsed, Princess Luna transforms into Night Mare Moon, though in appearance only and with a set of false fangs, to playfully frighten some foals for Nightmare Night.
- "Remember this day, little ponies, for it was your last. From this moment forth, the night will last forever!"
- — Friendship is Magic, part 1
- "You're kidding. You're kidding, right? "
- — Friendship is Magic, part 2
- "Citizens of Ponyville! We have graced your tiny village with our presence, so that you might behold the real princess of the night! A creature of nightmare is no longer, but instead a pony who desires your love and admiration! Together we shall change this dreadful celebration into a bright and glorious feast!"
- — Luna Eclipsed
- "[booming voice] Change our approach?"
- — Luna Eclipsed
- "Fun? What is this "fun" thou speakest of? Pray tell, what purpose do these serve?"
- — Luna Eclipsed
- "Ha ha! The fun has been doubled! "
- — Luna Eclipsed
- "Huzzah! How many points do I receive?"
- — Luna Eclipsed
- "Child. Art thou saying that thou... likest me to scare you?"
- — Luna Eclipsed
- "Tis a lie! Thy backside is whole and ungobbled, thou ungrateful whelp!"
- — Luna Eclipsed