"A Hearth's Warming Tail" is the third Christmas-themed episode of the animated television series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, produced and aired in the show's sixth season. Its plot is based on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It premiered on Discovery Family on May 14, 2016.
The episode opens in Ponyville as all the ponies are decorating the town and Castle of Friendship for Hearth's Warming. Twilight Sparkle, in particular, is excited for the recently-reformed Starlight Glimmer to celebrate her first Hearth's Warming Eve in Ponyville. However, Starlight feels that she would rather skip the holiday, saying she considers it to "just [be] an excuse for silly songs and fun". When Twilight tries to explain the holiday's importance, Starlight says she already knows the story of how Earth ponies, Pegasi, and unicorns came together to vanquish the windigos (as elaborated upon in "Hearth's Warming Eve"). Therefore, Twilight instead decides to tell her favorite holiday story - A Hearth's Warming Tale.
The story is about Snowfall Frost (portrayed by Starlight Glimmer), a powerful, yet bitter, unicorn who hates Hearth's Warming Eve and values studying and magic above all else. Accompanied only by her assistant Snowdash (Rainbow Dash), she lives in her Canterlot home applying her knowledge to the betterment of Equestria. She views Hearth's Warming as a "menace" and doubts the holiday's origins and believes singing songs and being nice are a waste of time. After she unwittingly excuses Snowdash to leave early and enjoy the holiday with her friends, Snowfall voices her disgust and desire to skip Hearth's Warming altogether, so she gathers some ingredients and prepares a magic spell to erase the holiday from existence.
But before Snowfall can cast her spell, she gets a visit from the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Past (Applejack), who takes her back in time, explaining that every choice one makes in life has its consequences, no matter how small. In the past, Snowfall sees her younger, happier self celebrating Hearth's Warming Eve. However, when her magic instructor, Professor Flintheart, finds her decorating the classroom, he voices his displeasure and tells her that she forget about ever having fun and focus entirely on hard work and studying. The younger Snowfall takes his advice to heart and changes her point of view, thus sowing the seeds that cause her to grow up to be the pony she is now.
Upon returning to her house, Snowfall then encounters the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Presents (Pinkie Pie), who takes her on a tour through present-day Canterlot and shows her all the joy that the present has to offer. At Snowdash's home, Snowfall sees a party being enjoyed by everyone in town, where she also overhears Snowdash and her friends talking about her behind her back. The spirit then tells Snowfall that this will be the last Hearth's Warming Eve party Equestria ever has and then vanishes before Snowfall can ask what she means.
Finally, Snowfall Frost encounters the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come (Princess Luna), who says to her that there are no more Hearth's Warming Eves to show, showing her a future where she succeeds in erasing Hearth's Warming Eve from existence. In this bleak vision, Equestria is blanketed in deep snow and plagued by windigos. Realizing the cold nightmare of a future that she could potentially create, Snowfall finally understands the holiday's importance and pleads to the spirit to tell her if these events can be changed. Upon that, Snowfall is returned to her home and finds that there is indeed still time for her to make amends and change the future. She goes to Snowdash's party bearing gifts and a new appreciation for Hearth's Warming Eve, and the ponies openly welcome her.
Upon finishing the story, Twilight excuses herself to join the party downstairs and tells Starlight Glimmer that she can join if she wants to. A short while later, Starlight accepts Twilight's invitation and joins the party as well, learning to let go of the past and enjoy the present.
- "Hearth's Warming Eve Is Here Once Again"
- "Say Goodbye to the Holiday"
- "The Seeds of the Past"
- "Pinkie's Present"
- "Luna's Future"
- "Hearth's Warming Eve Is Here Once Again (Reprise)"
- Due to the condensed story, the roles of several Christmas Carol characters are combined: the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Past fulfills Jacob Marley's role of foreshadowing the other spirits, and Snowdash (Bob Cratchit) attends a holiday party much like Fred.
- An earlier draft of the episode called Discord to play the role of Marley, but the scene was cut for time.
- Professor Flintheart resembles Harry Potter character Severus Snape, as portrayed by Alan Rickman in the film adaptations.
- A Tiny Tim-esque character makes a brief, non-speaking appearance portrayed by Featherweight.
The episode was made available (along with the show's previous Christmas-themed episode, "Hearthbreakers") on the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Holiday Hearts DVD, released on October 3, 2017 by Shout! Factory. It was also included on the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: The Complete Season 6 DVD, released on November 7th.
|Kelly Sheridan||Starlight Glimmer / Snowfall Frost|
|Tara Strong||Twilight Sparkle (speaking)|
|Andrea Libman|| Pinkie Pie / The Spirit of Hearth's Warming Presents (speaking)|
|Ashleigh Ball|| Applejack / The Spirit of Hearth's Warming Past|
Rainbow Dash / Snowdash
|Tabitha St. Germain|| Princess Luna / The Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come (speaking)|
Rarity / Merry (speaking)
|William Samples||Professor Flintheart|
|Kazumi Evans||Rarity (singing)|
|Shannon Chan-Kent||Pinkie Pie (singing)|
|Aloma Steele||Princess Luna (singing)|
|Rebecca Shoichet||Twilight Sparkle (singing)|
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Wiki: A Hearth's Warming Tail
- "A Hearth's Warming Tail" recap at TV Tropes