In Lesson Zero, Twilight worries about being sent back to Magic Kindergarten, and we see her daydream about a room full of foals teasing her:

Magic Kindergarten

In the back row on the right, we have a filly with both wings and a horn: an alicorn. I've generally heard (and assumed myself) that this was an animation error.

In the new season, however, this same error seems to be cropping up a lot. In fact, it's happened in each of the episodes with a "rainbow key".

Rarity Takes Manehatten:

Just after the intro sequence, as the Mane Six are walking the streets of Manehatten Manehatten

Rainbow Falls:

When the Cloudsdale team first shows up with their cheerleaders Cloudsdale Fans

Pinkie Pride:

Rarity even gets in on the alicorn action Rarity the Alicorn

As they say, "once is an accident, twice is coincidence, three times is a conspiracy." I realize that this question may be difficult to answer with the season unfinished, but is there any significance to these background alicorns?

To avoid pure speculation on the current season and the "lock-box of harmony", answers quoting the show staff on the subject are preferred. AMA responses, Twitter posts, tongue-in-cheek answers, etc. are fine, but something from DHX is preferred over speculation. That said, an answer of "no, we don't know anything official at this time" may simply be correct, and I'll just have to wait and watch the rest of the season.

  • In light of the "word of god" confirmation below, you may wish to reconsider your acceptance of @SF.'s answer. They aren't wrong but in my humble opinion, evidence-backed answers should gain priority over educated guesses.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 23:42
  • Fun Trivia: the white alicorn filly has been given the name "Pricess Error(ia)" by the fans. The unlicensed MLP plushes seller "OlyFactory" has even made a plush out of her.
    – SPArcheon
    Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 10:14

4 Answers 4


If you look for videos that catch this kind of errors: pegasi losing wings, ponies without cutie marks, missing limbs or mouth, etc, you'll notice how incredibly common these errors are. There are literally dozens of them in every episode.

Four occurrences of a background pony with both wings and horn happened across 91 episodes + feature length movie so far, appears as fairly low count compared to the total amount of this class of mistakes.


Numerous sources have confirmed that the user "Nayuki" (on the Allspark forum) is a layout artist on MLP:FIM.

He/She confirmed that the first instance you've noted was simply a "Layout/Animation error".

Screenshot of response to a MLP thread by user Nayuki, identified as "MLP Layout Artist" saying "That would be a layout/animation error."

My guess would be that the other instances you've shown are either shout-outs to the fanatical fans who noticed the original mistake or simply confirmation that alicorns aren't exclusively royal and that they do exist elsewhere within the FIM universe, even if we see them only very rarely.

For the record, there are numerous 'minor' royals across the human world, I see no reason why that shouldn't be the case for Ponies too.

  • 2
    "Minor royals" could be a potential argument for the other appearances, but not for the alicorn appearing in Pinkie Pride. Since she's, y'know, not an alicorn.
    – Brian S
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 20:17
  • 1
    @BrianS - As I said, probably they're doing it on purpose to annoy hardcore fanbois.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 21:31

Originally, they were called winged unicorn. The alicorn title came later. It could be there are rare births of ponies that are alicorns that are not of Royalty. In one scene, some of the Royal Guards in formation are alicorns. Their magic may be no stronger than a normal unicorn. The Royal alicorns may have special traits that make them live longer than ordinary ponies.

It could be that a unicorn must have strong knowledge of a wide range of magic and create new magic that makes them an alicorn princess. Twilight has studied magic her entire life and was able to figure out Starswirl's unfinished spell and fix it. This showed she was ready to move to the next stage which is alicorn princess.

It could be assumed that Sunset Shimmer was supposed to become an alicorn princess. She would had to have shown a potential for strong magic to become Celestia's pupil. Celestia's magic seems to be getting weak. The changeling queen was shocked to have defeated Celestia in an unexpected magic duel. I feel that Sunset was to be Celestia's chosen successor. Sunset showed that her own selfish ambition would not make her a good ruler for Equestria. Twilight also showed a potential for strong magic and became Celestia's pupil. Twilight shows thoughts for the feelings of others and more of a selflessness that will help make her a great ruler, one day.

  • Some good points, can you add some sources and references for these? Thank you!
    – Möoz
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 0:15
  • The term winged unicorn came from the Wikia page about alicorns and is not canon. They were called Pegasus Unicorns on Hasbro's MLP Facebook page. The term alicorn i from the episode Magic Duel. Magical Mystery Cure is the first time winged unicorns are called alicorn. The above photos show alicorns that are not mentioned as being royalty. There is a scene that shows a row of Royal Guards standing in formation and a few are alicorns.
    – Greypon3
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 1:32

In Equestria Girls, it was stated that Sunset was Celestia's previous student. Sunset showed traits that Celestia found unfavourable and removed her as a student. Sunset was probably supposed to replace Celestia in future. Twilight became Celestia's new protegee.

It came as a surprise to Queen Chrysalis that she bested Celestia in a unexpected duel. Celestia may have felt that she is slowly weakening and has been looking for a successor.

Faust didn't want the show to be populated with so many alicorns. Most are mistakes or oversights by the artists.


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