As previously discussed in Night Owl, there are some strange fandoms out there. Obscure fan bases aren’t limited to less popular Presidents, but also exist for secondary television characters as well. If Happy Days is your bag, there is Potsie Weber fanfiction. More of a “Trekkie”? You can join the Tribble Appreciation Society. Yet few fans are as dedicated to their dialogue-less characters as the Bronies are to My Little Pony’s Derpy.
Derpy Hooves, aka Ditzy Doo, aka Muffins appeared in the background of the first episode. She was just supposed to be in the background, so layout artists didn’t pay much attention to the fact her eyes were misdrawn and didn’t bother to fix it. The fans, however, noticed. The more the Bronies (adult My Little Pony fans) discussed her, the more the producers noticed. Soon it became a “Where’s Waldo” style game where she was inserted in the background of each episode so the fans could try and spot her. This even spawned fan-made games based on “Finding Derpy.” All was good fun.
Then came the infamous episode, “The Last Roundup“.
In that, Derpy not only got lines, but she was even referred to by name. What followed would forever be referred to as “DerpyGate“. Some parents were upset and wrote angry letters to Hasbro, the My Little Pony parent company, accusing them of using Derpy to make fun of the mentally disabled. In response, the producers went back, eliminated Derpy’s name and straightened her eyes.
Fandom was not pleased. They accused Hasbro of ableism and pushing the message “you have to be perfect or you’re not allowed to be seen” Multiple petitions were created. Derpy herself begged for clemency:
The good news–Derpy was saved, and went on to appear in more episodes, the theatrical release, and various merchandise. Now, however, she is affectionately referred to as “Muffins.”
Question of the night–Who is your favorite animated character?