- See also: list of cutie marks
The My Little Pony franchise is famous for cutie marks, unique picture-like symbols located on ponies' and zebras' flanks or haunches. The term is a play on "beauty mark", and it is also reminiscent of "quarter mark". The mark itself is positioned where livestock branding is usually performed. Cutie marks are often related to the personality, proclivity, or talent of their owners.
Friendship is Magic is the first My Little Pony production that explicitly refers to these symbols as a main subject of interest. They were referred to as "symbols" in the first generation and changed to "cutie marks" in the third generation.
Depiction in the series
Meaning and coming of age
- See also: Cutie marks/Acquisitions
The episode Call of the Cutie deals with the meaning and appearance of cutie marks. Cheerilee, the school teacher, explains to her students that ponies are born without a cutie mark. The cutie marks are obtained when ponies discover a unique characteristic that sets themselves apart from others. Twilight Sparkle demonstrates to Apple Bloom in the same episode that magic can't make a cutie mark appear, and she explains that the mark will only appear in due course. The meanings of cutie marks are not always literal: Cheerilee's cutie mark is three smiling flowers, and she explains it represents her wish that her students "bloom" and be happy. The social implications of cutie marks, or lack thereof, are explored in the episode. Ponies who have yet to gain their mark, like Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle, are derisively called "blank flanks" by Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara. On the other hand, Twilight and Applejack consider those without a cutie mark to be lucky, who still get to experience "the thrill of discovering who they are, and what they're meant to be". This argument is also expressed by Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo who say about fellow "blank flank" Apple Bloom that "she's full of potential" and "could be great at anything".
Since many ponies were conceived as toys before they became characters on the show, they are often named after their cutie marks. This conflicts with some elements in Friendship is Magic, since in the show, foals are born without their cutie marks and therefore cannot be named after them; see also nominative determinism. For maiden and married names such as Spoiled Rich (née Spoiled Milk) and Mrs. Cake (née Chiffon Swirl), the cutie mark is relevant more to the married name than—if at all—to the maiden name.
A "cute-ceañera" is celebrated by those who have recently gotten their cutie marks. The name of the celebration is a play on quinceañera, a celebration of a girl's fifteenth birthday in parts of Latin America.
Diamond Tiara celebrates her cute-ceañera in Call of the Cutie. It is thrown by Pinkie Pie at Sugarcube Corner, and in Pinkie Pride, Diamond Tiara grudgingly admits that Pinkie did a good job planning the party.
At the end of Crusaders of the Lost Mark, Pinkie Pie throws a cute-ceañera for the Cutie Mark Crusaders after they simultaneously earn their cutie marks. In The Fault in Our Cutie Marks, the Crusaders throw a cute-ceañera for Gabby in honor of her becoming a member of their group.
Depiction in Equestria Girls
In Equestria Girls, the humans at Canterlot High School are depicted with images and patterns on their clothes that resemble the cutie marks of their pony counterparts in Equestria. Characters' pony counterparts who lack their cutie mark in Equestria also lack it in Equestria Girls.
Cutie marks come in a wide variety of shapes and colors in My Little Pony Friendship is Magic. Cutie marks are often a set of two or three objects or animals, and usually feature between one and three colors. For example, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Applejack all have cutie marks with three objects and all of their designs have only two colors. One of the few ponies with a cutie mark with more than three colors is Rainbow Dash, whose rainbow lightning bolt has four. The other ponies with four- or five-colored cutie marks feature a more detailed image, so many of the colors are only different to allow for shading.
Although cutie marks are supposed to be unique, background ponies' cutie marks are often chosen at random from a set of 'stock' cutie marks. Lauren Faust, in a DeviantArt message, relayed that the cutie marks of background ponies are chosen at random. She jokingly referred to them as "butt symbols." Earth ponies tend to have food-related or horseshoe marks, unicorns have astrological symbols, and Pegasus ponies have weather-related symbols. Music notes are another common mark and are present on all three types of background ponies. Occasionally, adult ponies appear without cutie marks, some instances of which have been explained by Lauren Faust as an oversight.
Removal and replacement
Magical Mystery Cure deals with a magic spell that switches cutie marks between ponies. Twilight unintentionally switches her friends' cutie marks using Star Swirl the Bearded's unfinished spell. With their switched cutie marks, the ponies assume that their cutie marks define what they do, singing the phrase "It's got to be my destiny, and it's what my cutie mark is telling me". Twilight Sparkle manages to remind them what their actual destinies are, and they regain their original cutie marks. The WeLoveFine T-shirt "We're All Doomed" depicts a similar switch between the cutie marks of Dr. Hooves, Lyra Heartstrings, Octavia Melody, DJ Pon-3, and Sweetie Drops.
In the two-part season four finale, the cutie marks of ponies who lose their magic (whether stolen by Lord Tirek or voluntarily given up) vanish, either entirely (in most cases) or partially (in the case of Princess Luna).
During the season 5 premiere, The Cutie Map - Part 1 and Part 2, Starlight Glimmer uses a spell that removes a pony's cutie mark, replacing it with an equals sign. This adds a gray tone to the victim's color and effectively disrupts the talents associated with the cutie mark. (The equals mark Starlight Glimmer dons is a fake, as she reveals in the second part to have simply painted it over her real cutie mark to hide it.) This spell also demonstrates that cutie marks that have been separated from their owner can be stored, as Starlight Glimmer holds the missing marks in jars or in the Cutie Vault. When the marks are released, they return to the ponies they originally belonged to.
In A Royal Problem, Starlight Glimmer temporarily switches the cutie marks of Princesses Celestia and Luna, which also switches their magical auras and abiliities.
In The Cutie Pox, Twilight Sparkle reads that there used to be an epidemic in Equestria, referred to as "cutie pox", that caused ponies to sustain more than one random cutie mark, and it caused these ponies to involuntarily perform tasks as per given cutie marks, which appeared all over their bodies, not just their flanks. The phenomenon is not elaborated upon though, as the epidemic itself remains a historical mystery because it appeared and disappeared without a trace, according to the book Twilight Sparkle reads on the subject. A modern case of a cutie pox victim is Apple Bloom. In Ponyville Confidential, it is shown that cutie marks only appear as part of the pony's coat, as when both Snips and Snails have their flanks shaved due to a bubble-gum related incident, there is nothing but bare skin underneath where their own cutie marks were. In The Crystal Empire - Part 2, Princess Cadance's cutie mark glows. In Magic Duel, Snails' cutie mark turns into an older looking snail with glasses and a beard after Trixie uses an age spell on him and Snips. In Bats! and Night of the Living Apples, the Mane Six's cutie marks change during their times transformed into vampire bat-pony hybrids. Princess Luna's cutie mark changes from a white crescent moon on a dark-purple background to a light-blue crescent moon on a purple background as Nightmare Moon, and Rarity's cutie mark changes from three diamonds to multiple blue and white stars as Nightmare Rarity.
In Crusaders of the Lost Mark, Diamond Tiara's cutie mark glows during The Pony I Want to Be (Reprise). In The Mane Attraction, Coloratura's cutie mark glows during Equestria, the Land I Love and The Magic Inside.
Characters other than ponies
Zecora, a zebra that creates potions has a symbol on her flank; this symbol is referred to as her cutie mark both on a trading card of her and in the online game Equestrivia Challenge, and Princess Luna describes a group of zebras as having cutie marks in the book The Journal of the Two Sisters. In the IDW comics' Reflections story arc, a Tyrannosaurus rex with a cutie mark similar to Fluttershy's briefly appears. Other ungulates such as buffalo, pigs, cattle, mules, and donkeys are mark-less. Changelings, including their queen, don't have a cutie mark.
The cutie marks have long been characteristic of the My Little Pony toy line, albeit had not been officially coined as "cutie mark" prior to the third generation of the toy line. The cutie marks on the toys of the My Little Pony Friendship is Magic toy generation sometimes do not precisely match their design on the show. Additionally, while the show features cutie marks on both sides of the pony, the toys feature the marks on only one side. The side varies between toys, mostly dependent on each toy's packaging.
On November 19, 2013, Hasbro filed a trademark of "CUTIE MARK" for "Toy ponies; dolls".