A Derpy Hooves vector
|Other names||Ditzy Doo, Bright Eyes, Derpy Doo, Derpy, Muffin|
|Fan voice(s)||BaldDumboRat (most works)|
Meredith Sims (A Day at the Dentist, Alt. 6)
Rina-chan (Meet the Ponies)
SerenaMidori (Game Derps, Vinyl and Neon)
Grey DeLisle (Epic Rage Time)
Origins and name
Derpy's first appearence in a crowd scene in the pilot episode was noted by fans due to her eyes being askance, or "derped". Though originally just a joke by the animators, fans latched on to the odd-looking Pegasus, and she became the first of many background ponies to be given special fan attention and characterization.
Eventually the producers of the show took notice and began giving Derpy walleyes in all her appearances. In season two, cameos of Derpy were explicitly storyboarded, culminating in her first "real" speaking role in the episode The Last Roundup. That episode also confirms her name within the show as "Derpy". The scene was later edited to make Rainbow Dash no longer call her 'Derpy' and make her eyes no longer-cross eyed.
Ditzy Doo is a named but unidentified pegasus who gets confused during Winter Wrap Up. Before stepping down as showrunner, Lauren Faust had expressed the possibility that the name Ditzy might officially be applied to this background pony. This, and an alleged derogatory connotation to "derpy", has led some fans to prefer "Ditzy". Examples for fanfics that use "Ditzy" instead of "Derpy" are the Dinky Doo trilogy and Ditzy Doo's Dismally Derpy Day; in Fallout: Equestria, Derpy is a nickname for Ditzy Doo.
Reaction to Derpy's speaking role
While Derpy's first speaking role was meant as an acknowledgment of the fan base, it has received mixed reactions. A YouTube video recording during a live streaming of the episode shows mostly ecstatic responses. Equestria Daily changed first its main banner and subsequently other parts of its design to honor Derpy Hooves. Formal reviews were often appreciative of her "canon" appearance, like calling it "a really big deal" and "freaking beautiful".
However, the scene in question - in which Derpy causes a number of accidents, all while retaining a cheerfully oblivious demeanor - has also been called "gross", disgusting and "harmful", primarily for perpetuating ableist stereotypes. One blogger with experience working with disabled children wrote a lengthy - and very frequently reblogged - piece detailing her disappointment not just with the show, but with a number of fans who wouldn't recognize why Derpy's appearance would be offensive. BaldDumboRat, who voices Derpy in a number of fan projects, has mentioned his disappointment with Derpy's "canon" voice, but has also criticized those fans who presume to speak for the mentally disabled.
Hasbro removed The Last Roundup from iTunes in late January 2012, and WeLoveFine, a Hasbro-affiliated online store that sells, among other things, t-shirts with fan-made designs, removed references to Derpy from their catalogue. The website savederpy.com was registered soon thereafter as a central hub to coordinate efforts to keep Hasbro from changing Derpy Hooves' show appearance and merchandise. Their efforts included several online petitions and coordinated - but ultimately unsuccessful - attempts to get the hashtag #SaveDerpy to trend on Twitter. As of April 7, 2012, the site features merely a letter from Amy Keating Rogers (see below); the news blog Derpy Hooves News continues to prominently link to it.
WeLoveFine reversed their alterations in the weeks that followed, but Hasbro did not; when the episode went back up on iTunes on February 24, it had been edited: Derpy's name was removed, her cross-eyes made less pronounced, and she received a different voice. Among the more prominent reactions to this change was an in-character monologue voiced by BaldDumboRat in which Derpy apologizes for any offense she may have caused and that all she ever wanted was to make people laugh; an abridged and animated version of the monologue by 47times was even more widely disseminated and, as of April 7, 2012, has over 500,000 views on YouTube. She later organized a rendition of the Smile Song with Derpy in Pinkie's role as lead singer and almost 200 additional singers in the background chorus.
On February 29, a tumblr unaffiliated with previous SaveDerpy efforts published an email exchange with Amy Keating Rogers, the episode's writer, who explained that she never meant to offend, but that she understood why Hasbro edited the episode. As of April 7, 2012, Derpy has not been cut from any previous episodes, and she appears cross-eyed in several subsequently-released ones. Fandom output regarding the Pegasus has mostly returned to normal, pre-controversy levels and motifs. The editor of IDW's official My Little Pony Friendship is Magic comic mentioned in a note to Equestria Daily that, as someone officially involved with an official licensed product, he "probably" wasn't supposed to call her Derpy.
Derpy's personality in fan works
Derpy's odd expression has led to a great deal of fan speculation about her character. Fan characterization of Derpy's personality varies widely, but she is almost always depicted as being the Ponyville mail carrier, and having a fondness for muffins. She is often portrayed by fans as having a daughter, a light purple unicorn known as Dinky Hooves, and sometimes an older pink unicorn daughter named Sparkler.
In the fanfic "My Little Timelord," Doctor Whoof crashed his TARDIS, severely injuring Filly Derpy. Since then, she claims that her eyes are " derped " due to that accident.
Her personality can vary wildly depending on the work. In some cases, she is a completely normal Pegasus who simply has strange eyes; in others, she is portrayed as very unintelligent, to the point of being mentally disabled in some stories. Other tales portray her as bright but easily distracted, or excessively childlike. In some she is just highly odd and eccentric.
Another point of divergence is her speech pattern. In many stories she talks normally, while in others she speaks in a simple, childish manner. Some versions of Derpy can only say the word "muffins." Other stories portray her as speaking in completely random "word salad" sentences which make no sense at first glance, but often contain hidden meanings which hint that Derpy is much more intelligent than the average pony. In some depictions, however, she suffers from a medical condition that causes it.
These are just some examples of the most common portrayals; countless others abound.
Mail and muffinsAn early fanfic portrayed Derpy as the mail carrier for ponyville, and this portrayal has stuck to the point that it is an almost universally accepted trait among fans. Derpy is often associated with mail and letters, and is said to be extremely dilligent in her rounds. In most stories, she is very dedicated to her work, though her level of comptence varies.
Derpy's only line in season one is "Muffins!" in Applebuck Season, spoken in tandem with a few other background ponies. Due to this, she is usually shown as having a great love of muffins, which can border on obsession in some cases, going on a rampage when Sugarcube Corner runs out of a special type in Epic Rage Time: The Incredible Derp
The Derpy Scale
Derpy's level of intelligence often varies greatly depending on the work. Quite often, however, works featuring Derpy place her somewhere on the following four-point scale, one attempt at categorizing the different interpretations the character enjoys in fan labor:
- 1: The diligent mail pony: She is a sweet and hard-working mare who everyone likes and depends on. She delivers the mail for Ponyville and is the very ideal of the reliable postal worker. Neither rain, nor Dragons nor Griffons will stop her from getting your mail to you. Her vision is impaired, but that's all that's unusual about her. Respected by all of Ponyville. This version was named by fans as "Bright Eyes."
- 2: The day-dreamer: She is quite often out of it, lost in her own little world. Being easily distractable and blessed with a childlike attitude, her mind and attention are constantly shifting from place to place, but this often means she can notice things other ponies easily miss. Despite her aloof state of mind, she delivers the mail with utmost speed and efficiency. Other ponies see her as scatterbrained but dependable. Based on her scene in The Last Round-up, this is most likely where Derpy's canon personality sits.
- 3: The Space Cadet: Her words and actions are totally nonsensical, and she seems to be completely insane. However, sometimes her statements make sense in retrospect or have an kind of odd logic behind them. This leads some ponies to believe that she is actually extremely intelligent, but she acts so strange that it is difficult to know for sure. Still delivers the mail flawlessly, to the surprise of many, though some ponies say this proves her hidden brilliance.
- 4: The drooling idiot: Incapable of saying anything but "derp", "Muffins," and the like. Mentally challenged. Practically every concept more complex than “fire bad, tree pretty” is light years beyond her. She is genuinely happy, though, and capable of affection and kindness. Delivers the mail by accident. Walks into walls, often repeatedly, like a wind-up toy. Other ponies just try to make sure she's taken care of.
In the early days of the fandom, most portrayals of Derpy tended toward the two extremes of the spectrum. More recently, Derpy is more commonly portrayed around 2 or 3, with 4 becoming quite rare. This has become especially true since the introduction of Dinky Hooves.
A unicorn filly who appeared in the background of several episodes bears an uncanny resemblence to Derpy, and was soon adopted by parts of the fandom as her daughter, Dinky Hooves (or Dinky Doo when Derpy is named Ditzy). Dinky is usually written as a fun-loving filly who loves her mother very deeply, though in some works she is embarrassed by her.
Derpy's portrayal as a mother is almost universally the same, however: she is portrayed as being extremely devoted, kind, and caring (sometimes to a fault) towards Dinky. She calls Dinky "my little muffin" and is very protective. Derpy is often shown to be willing to sacrifice anything if she feels it will help her daughter.
Because Derpy is often portrayed as being childlike and cheerful, the mother and daughter are sometimes shown happily playing together at children's games. Dinky usually accepts her mother's stranger traits without question or judgement, though some portrayals show her being bothered by them.
The identity of Dinky's father is a matter of controversy among fans. Common culprits include Doctor Whooves and Pokey Pierce, though many portrayals intentionally leave the question open. Dinky Doo's Father Revealed, like the title suggests, answers the question directly.
In keeping with the fictional character he is likened to, Doctor Whooves is frequently depicted as having a "normal" (i.e., non-alien) companion, usually Derpy Hooves. One of the first, if not the first, fanfic to pair the two up was My Little Timelord, started in February 2011. "Doctor Whooves and Assistant" is a popular audio play featuring BaldDumboRat in the role of Derpy Hooves. In some fan labor, such as BaldDumboRat's tumblr Lovestruck Derpy, Derpy is depicted as being in love with the Doctor.
Carrot Top is typically associated with Derpy in fan works and commonly portrayed as Derpy's best friend. Depending on the work, they may even be roommates. Carrot almost always plays "straight man" to Derpy's antics. A common running gag is that Derpy keeps emptying Carrot Top's fridge without her permission, despite many attempts by Carrot to secure the fridge or prevent Derpy from raiding it.
A pale purple pony often called Sparkler (her official name given in merchandise is Amethyst Star) is seen with Dinky Doo in the episode Sisterhooves Social, suggesting she is her elder sister. This conflicts with the frequent depiction of Derpy as a single mother; some fans have attempted to explain the discrepancy by making Sparkler a family friend, while others have added her to the Derpy Hooves family in one way or another, such as being adopted by Derpy.
Ditzy Doo as Derpy's mother
Following "The Last Round Up", which made the Derpy name variant official, some fans restructured the mare's "established" relationships to keep the name "Ditzy" tied to the character in some way. It was suggested that Ditzy was the mother of her, Sparkler, and Dinky, Ditzy herself not being present in Ponyville for "unknown" (or undecided) reasons. Derpy takes care of her younger siblings in absence of their parents. Derpy is also married to Doctor Whooves (as stated above) so that her name can remain the fan popular Hooves (actually spelled Whooves) instead of becoming Derpy Doo.
At least one story portrays Derpy and Ditzy as completely separate ponies, not related in any way.
Many works show other Ponyville residents treating Derpy as a valued friend and neighbor, and not judging her due to her eyes. However, other stories may portray Derpy as being a victim of teasing or bullying due to her strange eyes, which may lead to Derpy being portrayed as isolated from other ponies or very lonely, such as in Isn't it Great to be Different?
Ponies often respond to Derpy in a similar way that they respond to Pinkie Pie: they consider her behavior strange, but accept it as part of her nature.
On some occasions, fans ship Derpy with Rainbow Dash in a ship called DerpyDash.
- ↑ 2013 State of the Herd Report (2013-03-17). Retrieved on 2014 January 15.
- ↑ Sethisto (2012-10-14). IDW Opens Pony Comic Section on Their Forums. Equestria Daily. Retrieved on 2012 October 25. “I think as someone officially involved with the official licensed product, I'm not supposed to formally refer to her as Derpy.”