Anonymous asked: So, Applejack. She's the kind of person (pony?) we'd like to befriend in real life, but she's overshadowed on the show. What's the solution to this? Or is there even one?
It’s a difficult problem. One issue that is brought up often in the fandom is that Applejack seems much more sane than the rest of the cast. Stories are driven by conflict, and characters who are nice and reasonable and stable don’t create and maintain conflict quite as well as characters who are not. However, you don’t want to make characters who are too far in the other direction, because usually we want to have characters who are reasonably likable. The rest of the cast is in a pretty good middle-ground, where they’re really likable but they also have some problems that cause a lot of conflict.
And it’s certainly not that Applejack doesn’t have problems. She can be a little mean on occasion. And she’s really proud and doesn’t back down from a challenge even if she should. But both of those problems are already covered by Rainbow Dash and Rarity, who are also generally more animated and extreme in these behaviors. Aside from that, she’s… messy? There’s probably more that could be done with that but I’m not sure it’s really compelling.
She’s a fictional character though, so she’s hardly set in stone. If the writers came up with some kind of neurosis for her that 1) fits with the rest of her character as we understand it, and 2) is an issue that hasn’t come up before so we can believe that we haven’t seen it, then that might resolve this issue.
There are also ways to make her stand out more and be more interesting without adding crazy problems. Some have pointed to her babying of the apple tree in Over a Barrel as suggesting a stranger side to her than we usually see, that perhaps she usually represses. I think developing that further, that she has a unique relationship with her trees that the others might find a little crazy, has a lot of potential for helping her stand out.
But I would also say that personality traits aren’t the only things we have to work with. One of the main reasons I find Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash interesting is their shared backstory, which has nothing to do with their personalities. Same for Twilight and Celestia, or most of all Princess Luna’s backstory. I think one thing the writers could easily do, probably more easily than making Applejack crazier, is just giving us more information on her past.
Resolving the missing parent issue would be the most obvious way to go about this. Whether they’re dead or live elsewhere or ran off, any of those things is a potential source of drama. And we can already speculate on all that, but seeing it for real in canon, and most of all seeing Applejack’s reactions to it, could really help establish her better as a character I think. Admittedly dead parents are not likely to happen, and neither are parents who abandoned their kids, but parents who are just gone a lot and are somewhat neglectful are much more doable and could still be a great source of drama. But even giving her more backstory with the family we’ve already seen could help a lot.
Finally, I would also say that it isn’t the end of the world if one character out of six isn’t quite as compelling and popular as the others. Ultimately what matters most is the cast as a whole, and even if Applejack isn’t the most interesting character in it, she still helps define the others through contrast and I think she would definitely be missed if she were gone. As a writer I know I would want to solve the problem and improve her character, but I think the issue isn’t that she’d a bad character, only that she’s a good character in a cast of great characters. And I’d understand if a writer decided that was good enough.