The story's cover art
|Date published||April 5, 2012|
Slice of Life
Background Pony is told in first person, from the perspective of Lyra, the story is framed as entries she makes in her journal.
Individual chapters work as self-contained episodes in Lyra's life, and many of them focus heavily on Lyra's interactions with one or two other characters with more established personalities in the show – for example, the third chapter is about Lyra and Applejack and the fifth is about Lyra and Rarity. As a result, the story often jumps back to a past setting well into the story.
At certain points, the story makes use of mint-green colored text to reinforce the effects of Lyra's curse in various ways, the most common example being that her name is always presented in green when it is spoken.
Lyra Heartstrings, a privileged unicorn from Canterlot, visits Ponyville for the Summer Sun Celebration, mostly to give her childhood friend Twilight Sparkle some company. Later on, as per the events of "Friendship is Magic" Parts 1 and 2, Nightmare Moon returns to Equestria to bring about eternal night. As a result of Nightmare Moon's presence, Lyra falls under a curse which erases everypony's memories of her existence and makes it so that anypony she meets will forget about her as soon as they part, or within some time interval since their meeting. Additionally, any piece of writing she produces is invisible to others, and anything others write about her either fades away or gets destroyed. Even her hoof prints in the dirt vanish shortly after being made. The curse does not apply to physical objects, as Lyra has been able to build a cabin to live in and has left anonymous gifts for other ponies to find.
Lyra's curse also renders her unable to leave Ponyville: the further away she moves from the center of the town, the colder she gets, forcing her to don warm clothing and stay as close to Ponyville as possible for fear of freezing to death.
A further consequence of Lyra's curse is that she hears symphonies in her mind and is compelled to compose and play them with her lyre. She later discovers that these symphonies are ancient, long-forgotten compositions created by Princess Luna around the time she became Nightmare Moon. As she plays each symphony, the next one in the suite is revealed to her, and Lyra hypothesizes that playing them all may be the key to curing her curse. However, each symphony, when played, has a profound effect on her mental and psychological state – some positive, others negative.
To make matters worse for her, she also learns that there is a separate plane of existence called the realm of the unsung which is ruled by a third alicorn princess by the name of Princess Aria, and that apparently if her mother were to ever find out that she is there the universe would end. Thus the reason why Lyra is cursed is that she knows too much, and her she soon loses her firm hold on her memories. That, and Princess Aria continuously keeps telling her she should just join her realm and find peace by becoming unsung and thus, in the eyes of the world, never having existed.
After tremendous hardship, by the end of the story, Lyra finally learns all the songs, plays them, and gets Princess Aria to help her through the second to last one which happens to be a duet. Princess Aria then gives her access to the last song in the symphony, however, Lyra deduces that playing it will result in history being re-written so that she was never cursed in the first place. This also includes all the good deed she had done including convincing Discord to surrender himself to the Elements of Harmony.
After asking her favorite pony, her childhood friend Twilight Sparkle, if she likes the way the world is; and getting yes for an answer. She chooses to not play the final song, nor to join Princess Aria's unsung. She simply asks Princess Aria to erase her love of music from existence, and to take her god-level harp she had picked up along the way, guaranteeing that anypony who shares her curse will never be able to get as far as she had in un-cursing themselves.
In the end of the story, she lives out the rest of her life among the ponies she loved. She finds her journal to be filled with blank pages, and all her present entries are short, brief, and hardly philosophical like they used to be. The curse also caught up with her and began wiping her memories, and thus she ended up as an amnesiac living among a bunch of ponies who keep forgetting her.
In the final few lines of the story she climbs up onto a hill, now an old mare. Her last thoughts imply she doesn't even remember being cursed, and that she thinks the ponies are just forgetful. She also wishes for a moment that she could make music.
The protagonist: a musician and formerly a scholar at Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns whose life has been drastically altered by a curse. She lives in a wooden cabin on the outskirts of Ponyville, and constantly wears an old grey hoodie donated to her by Applejack.
Twilight Sparkle and Moondancer
Lyra's two closest friends during her school days. The latter has not appeared in the story to date, but Lyra often reintroduces herself to Twilight, originally in futile attempts to research the curse or contact Princess Celestia for help, but later more often for help in identifying and researching the Lunar Symphony.
Let Lyra sit in front of her fireplace and donated her older brother's old jacket to her before chasing accusing her of stealing and chasing her out, as per the effects of the curse. She was a big contributor to the construction of Lyra's log cabin home. Lyra routinely leaves two loaves of bread on AJ's doorstep as payment for stealing food from her once, despite Applejack not remembering the incident.
Often passes by Lyra in the marketplace, dropping some bits as Lyra performs and commenting on her hoodie. Lyra comes to learn that Rarity is conflicted in regards to her fashion business, which while undoubtedly unique and artistically eye-catching does not bring the same fame and popularity achieved by designers of mass-produced outfits. Lyra does her favor by showcasing one of her best dresses during one of her street musicals. However, Rarity does not appreciate the gesture, stating that she would prefer to rise to fame in her own right.
Morning Dew is a character that is occasionally mentioned as being the object of Lyra's affections. e apparently has an illness that causes him to fall unconscious randomly. At one point Lyra spends a whole day with him, and then causes him to fall in love with a pony named Ambrosia the next.
Alablaster is the name of the pony who originally helped Princess Luna compose the Nocturne of the Firmaments. In doing so he managed to get himself cursed. After descending into madness, he finally goes to the realm of the unsung and waits until the day Lyra comes along so that he could teach her a few tricks as well as give her the "Nightbringer", which is a god level oversized harp that carries its own weight in magical power, allowing the user to unleash the full capacity of the magic in a song.
Nocturne of the Firmaments
Musician Belgerum has composed a fan-rendition of "Nocturne of the Firmaments", the ten-part symphony that forms a central part of the plot. It can be heard on this YouTube playlist or the Bandcamp album.
Background Pony received a positive reception on both FIMFiction (where it reached the Featured Stories bar shortly after being posted) and on Equestria Daily (where it has a rating of 6 Stars). SS&E made a remark about how much of a negative reaction he was expecting to lose after the story's downer ending. However, it did not seem to be as much as he expected.
Background Pony 2: The Re-Backgrounding
SS&E made a blog post fashioned as a description of a movie trailer of Background Pony 2: The Re-Backgrounding as a joke. Set just after the second to last chapter of Background Pony, Princess Aria suddenly decides to kidnap Twilight Sparkle, Morning Dew, and Ambrosia and surrounds them with in Town Hall with legions of unsung hoards. However, Lyra suddenly bursts in through a window while riding a motorcycle that sets the floor aflame, and begins slaughtering the unsung masses with a pair of Uzis and a katana. She then brutally kills Princess Aria with a single stab of her katana and a handful of one-liners. After causing Twilight to faint with a minor flirt, and killing grateful Ambrosia by tossing her into a pile of flaming entrails, Lyra saves a love/awestruck Morning Dew from the burning town hall. The building then explodes in the background (Twilight Sparkle was forgotten). The trailer then ends with Lyra saying "Sing my song and become enlightened, mother(BLEEP)ers!" before the sound of a gunshot and the text "Yeah... uh, no." appearing on the "screen".
Deleted wedding scene
SS&E also made a blog post for Background Pony's anniversary, and along with it, posted a deleted scene. The scene takes place during a wedding for an out of town couple, wherein Lyra is watching the couples dance before being approached by a stallion named Cedar Brown. The two get into some conversation. The two then share a dance before Lyra forces him to forget about her by telling him to go get some punch. He then proceeds to woo some more mares before his wife confronts him. Lyra then feels guilty about having entertaining him for so long, but Pinkie Pie then cheers her up with a hug.