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http://cloudmistdragon.deviantart.com/art/King-Sombra-is-Not-Dead-MLP-FiM-Fan-Theory-652475278 Faintly...I’ll go...to take this head on... The Debate of King Sombra Every fan of King Sombra has seen The Crystal Empire, the two-parter premiere episode of the third season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, in which he made his debut. Although both the portrayal of King Sombra in this episode and the episode as a whole have always sparked a wide mix of different opinions amongst fans of the show, one generally accepted opinion on the episode is that the scene of King Sombra’s defeat is one of the show’s most memorable scenes. What has always made it stand out from the show’s other instances of a villain suffering their untimely defeat, often caused by multi-colored lights (TASTE THE RAINBOW MOTHERF'ER), is that it apparently depicts the first, and still to this day, only time where a villain has been killed. ...Notice how the word, “apparently”, is italicized for emphasis. There is debate on the matter of whether King Sombra was truly killed or not in The Crystal Empire. Those who side with the former and believe that the case is open-and-shut most often bring up the response of Meghan McCarthy, the aforementioned episode’s writer, who when asked about whether Sombra was dead or not, replied by saying that he was. The most common counterargument to this is that what Meghan McCarthy says is subject to change, as demonstrated in the case of her reply to a question on the issue of whether Flash Sentry, a character from the show’s spin-off film series, Equestria Girls, would ever make an appearance in the show. Though she replied by saying that he would not, Flash Sentry still in fact appeared in two episodes she wrote for. When Meghan was asked about this, she replied by saying that it was not her decision to include said character in the episode. It was later announced by “Big” Jim Miller, the show’s supervising director (and Sombra’s voice actor :3), that the reason for his inclusion was that he was “added by request”. Incidentally, Jim Miller, the same person who defended Meghan on this matter, also implied that the show’s team was undecided on whether to use King Sombra again or not when he was asked about whether he thought the character was capable of being redeemed or not. It has been proven that what a member of the show’s creative team says in regards to the show’s future is not absolute confirmation, as what they say is interchangeable depending on the future of what the entirety of the show’s creative team ultimately agrees upon. In fact, the episode in question, The Crystal Empire, turned out very different from how it was originally planned to be. Many of the changes made to the original script, such as King Sombra originally being the leader of an army of the undead, were discussed in an interview with Meghan McCarthy. Hasbro, the parent company of Studio B, the studio that produces the show, also had influence in the changes made to the original script as well, but that is a matter to be discussed much later. Essentially, the only thing we know for certain at the moment regarding the debate on whether King Sombra is dead or not is that there is no concrete, conclusive answer yet. Even what I am about to discuss is only a theory for my own personal headcanon that King Sombra is very much alive. However, I have many facts to bolster my argument, including many examples from the show that I do believe need to be given more attention. Be warned that this theory will be very long and detailed. In an effort to simplify it as much as possible, however, I will divide it into five parts and start from the basic facts we all know. The Defeat of King Sombra In The Crystal Empire, King Sombra is defeated when the Crystal Heart is put back in its rightful place, causing intense light to erupt all across the empire, causing his pony body to explode. What follows this is even more light bursting from the empire, causing the shadows that have surrounded the empire to blow away and disappear. Needless to say, naturally, in the real world, your body exploding would most certainly kill you. What is also needless to say, however, is that King Sombra is most certainly not a natural creature living in the real world. Though an explosion of the body would still guarantee the death of a pony, even in a fantasy world like My Little Pony’s where death is acknowledged, a nagging question still lingers in regards to Sombra… ...What exactly is he? He is first shown to be a unicorn before Princess Celestia explains to Twilight Sparkle that he was “turned to shadow”. After that, the only part of the episode that shows him as a unicorn again is soon before his defeat. Somehow, exposure to light emanating from the Crystal Heart causes him to “transform back into a unicorn”. There is no stated explanation given for why this happens in the episode, but there is an implied one that can be assumed upon observation of evidence... If you watch the scene where Sombra “becomes a pony again” closely, you can see the shadow being “pulled off of him” by the light from the Crystal Heart. In real life, when a shadow is exposed to light, the shadow extends and grows darker, which explains the shadow being pulled away. I know that it is possible that the only reason Sombra is forced into a solid form by the light of the Crystal Heart is because shadows simply are not allowed to be in the presence of the Crystal Heart’s light. But notice how said light does nothing to the dark crystal Sombra is riding, even though the crystal was formed from Sombra’s shadow form when he came out of the ground. Knowing this, we can assume the possibility that there was no transformation involved in Sombra’s “pony reverting”. However, it doesn’t end there. A popular belief surrounding Sombra’s form is that he is a “shadow pony”, a hybrid between a creature of pure shadow and a pony. What I just talked about may seem to support that. It is even possible that what Celestia meant by “turned to shadow” is that she and Princess Luna actually put Sombra inside a body of shadow. Therefore, he still, technically, is a pony. But wait a minute, let’s go over some more details before we jump to conclusions. The flashback that portrays Celestia and Luna defeating Sombra for the first time does seem more likely to be depicting a transformation rather than Sombra being “put inside of a shadow”. In that scene, an intense flood of light washes over him, causing his cape, armor, and circlet to fall off. It is not until a similar thing happens to him with the Crystal Heart that he regains all these items, even though they were blown off of him a thousand years ago. After that, he is thrown in a fissure between two colossal layers of ice that come together. Now, think about it. If he was just a pony inside a shadow, no, if even any part of him is still flesh and blood, wouldn’t he die by having two walls of ice crush him? That isn’t even counting that he managed to live for a millennium inside of such an inhospitable area as inside of an icy crevice. How is this possible? Is he immortal? Then why does he assume the form of a seemingly mortal pony right before his defeat? Because of a magic light? Wasn’t it magic light that turned him to indestructible shadow? It seems rather complicated at first, but I believe the answer is actually very simple... King Sombra’s body has been entirely transformed into shadow. The pony form he takes on when he’s exposed to the Crystal Heart’s light isn’t real. The first piece of evidence I will bring up to back up this answer is the way Sombra behaves in his shadow form. Magic simply passes right through him, he can expand his body to surround the entire area of the empire with shadow, he can regenerate broken parts of his body, can pass through solid ground, and can transform parts of his body, or even his entire body, into dark crystal, as shown in the scene where his horn sinks into the ground and in the scene where he goes after Spike. The second piece of evidence I have to bring up are the aforementioned cape, armor, and circlet reappearing, even after they were lost a thousand years ago. An easy answer to how they magically came back (besides MAGIC! *snort* *snort*) is that they didn’t magically come back at all. Parts of Sombra’s body of shadow simply adopted their form. Think it through. If Sombra can physically manifest himself as crystal, what would be so difficult about manifesting parts of himself as simple accessories? But more importantly, doesn’t this make it entirely possible for him to create a body for himself that resembles that of a pony’s, but is actually made entirely of crystal? Imagine the scene where Sombra appears to become a pony again like this. When the light shines on him, his shadow body is naturally forced to assume a physical form of dark crystal. The light then causes the rest of the shadow surrounding him to extend in the direction opposite of where he’s headed. Some of it fades while some of it becomes part of the dark crystal he’s on. Going back to the scene where the broken piece of Sombra’s horn sinks into the ground and transforms into dark crystal, notice how in the following scene, he is still able to use magic even with part of his horn gone. But in the case of Shining Armor, an ordinary pony, he could not use magic after Sombra did something to his horn that caused dark crystals to appear on part of it. Now let’s go back to the scene where Sombra’s body explodes. Why does this happen if he is just a normal pony of flesh and blood at this time? The light from the Crystal Heart fills all the other ponies’ bodies with light that glows all throughout them. But in Sombra’s case, it causes his body to crack and shatter like glass or rock...or crystal. If you watch closely, you’ll see that his explosion is not so much an explosion, it is moreso a wave of light pushing the crumbled pieces of his body away. You can even still hear Sombra screaming as parts of his body fly away. This could be intended to be an echo, I know, but I only mean to state what happened. This is merely extra food for thought as well. The real kicker comes with the final piece of evidence I have for my theory on why King Sombra is one-hundred percent shadow… When King Sombra supposedly dies, his shadows, which are shown to be part of him, do not die with him. They linger around the empire until another burst of light blows them away and causes them to vanish. Why is that? Again, think. If Sombra was just an ordinary pony, the light from the Crystal Heart would not kill him. If Sombra was just a pony-shadow hybrid, losing his pony self would destroy his entire being. That is, if you consider that he is mortal… Upon exploring the details of Sombra’s defeat, I have arrived at the conclusion that even if my answer is incorrect, much evidence is still left behind that supports that King Sombra is always in the form of an immortal shadow. And this is only one part of what I want to discuss… Backstory of King Sombra Many agree that the backstory Sombra is given in the show is vague and leaves much to be desired. For one, just the way Princess Celestia explains it is shaky. She doesn’t even mention that it was her and Luna who banished King Sombra one thousand years ago even as said fact is made obvious in the flashback. Not only that, but there is an inconsistency in her story. How was King Sombra able to take over the Crystal Empire if the Crystal Heart was there to protect the empire from evil? How did Sombra get in? Was the heart knocked out of place and rendered temporarily unusable? Did it break and have to be fixed? Or… It is possible that there’s something Princess Celestia and Luna know about Sombra that they don’t want Twilight Sparkle to know. Just watch the way Luna behaves the entire time. What reason does she have to be unhappy that Twilight is being given a chance to protect the empire and make a large step towards the next chapter of her life? Is she just jealous? When at any other time in the series has Luna been shown to be jealous of Twilight? She seemed to be very happy for her when she became a princess in Magical Mystery Cure, so what reason would she have to be upset? If it has nothing to do with Twilight, then maybe it has something to do with Sombra… I’m sure some of you reading this already know that Luna’s behavior in this episode has led to speculation amongst some fans that Luna and Sombra were once in a relationship back when Sombra ruled over the empire with kindness. I’m also sure about what some of you are thinking… “What the hell? I thought this was some loser’s crazy conspiracy theory about King Sombra being alive, not some loser’s shipping trash!” ...and don’t worry, I have no intention of abruptly shifting the focus of this theory to LunaXSombra4ever. I bring this up because I do believe it is vital to understanding why Sombra’s backstory as we know it does not match up with his rise and fall as we know it. Here is where I’m trying to explain why Sombra’s backstory does not fit with an ending of him abruptly being killed. It is possible that Luna and Sombra were merely close friends, and that no romance was involved between them. It seems ridiculous imagining them together in an intimate relationship…until you read the comics and take a look at the arc where Princess Celestia has a romantic relationship with an alternate version of King Sombra. Now I am well-aware that it has been said that the canon of the comics and the canon of the show are separate, not just by word of the show’s staff, but also by word of the comics’ staff. This matters not though, as what I mean to show here is that MLP is not against the idea of its characters having romantic relationships. There have even been hints in the show, such as with Big McIntosh and Marble Pie. I’d even say that there’s another hint in the episode besides Luna’s odd, unexplained behavior. Watch what happens after the Crystal Empire banishes King Sombra. We get a scene where Celestia puts her horn against Luna’s and smiles after seeing light from the empire pass by the window. Luna hesitates at first, but soon slides her horn against her sister’s as well and smiles. What is the purpose of this scene? Most likely, it’s to show that Celestia and Luna are relieved that Twilight has passed the test and that the Crystal Empire is safe. However, that does not mean this is the scene’s only purpose… It’s entirely possible that the scene has a secondary purpose, that being to confirm that it was indeed Celestia and Luna who banished Sombra a thousand years ago. Though they’re covered by a veil of shadow in the flashback, you can see them putting their horns together to shine their light on Sombra, just as they do in this scene. Keep in mind that Celestia and Luna “should not have known” that Sombra had returned. All Celestia had asked of Twilight was to protect the empire from danger, she never told her that the threat was Sombra... Whatever the case may be, it doesn’t make sense from a writing perspective to imply that something more happened between Celestia, Luna, and Sombra, only to permanently kill Sombra off with no intention of taking that implied plot point anywhere. Speaking of comics and permanently killing off characters… The Other Story of King Sombra I do read the IDW MLP:FiM comic series, and I have read the issues of the Siege of the Crystal Empire arc. Unlike the aforementioned arc, Reflections, this arc tells us for the first time in the main series (that’s discounting FIENDship is Magic) what King Sombra’s backstory is. This displays that Hasbro does have some interest in him even with him being “dead” in the show. Without spoiling too much, this arc tells us that King Sombra is actually an umbrum, a creature who comes from a race of shadow ponies...as far as comic canon is concerned, but you catch my drift. And yes, this arc proves without a shadow of a doubt (no pun intended) that show canon and comic canon do not intermingle, as they have two different “Changeling Invasion of the Crystal Empire” stories. The one in the show does not acknowledge or leave any window of opportunity for the one in the comic to take place. I mention this because many do view the comics as canon with the show, which is true to some level. The comics do try to stay faithful to the canon of the show, but in the end, are intended to be their own stories. They don’t mean to follow the show exactly and, therefore, should not be used to back up arguments for what went on and what didn’t go on in the show. Hey, I’m just being honest here. If I don’t give it to you straight that my entire theory falls apart if the comics are canon, I’m fu- Moving on, there is another interesting fact about Sombra’s arc in the comics that does cast doubts on him being killed off in the show. Again, trying to only spoil what’s necessary, there is a character who apparently gets killed off in the story and is only said to actually be alive at the very ending of the comic through an abrupt exchange of dialogue (NO NOT KILLED SHATTERED). When the writer of said arc, Jeremy Whitley, was asked about this bizarre moment, he replied by saying that it was a last-minute inclusion made because of Hasbro’s policy of “not killing off characters”. Remember what I said much earlier on about Hasbro having influence in the changes made to the original script of The Crystal Empire? It is apparent now that their influence does not merely impact how the episodes of the show are written, but also how the stories in the comics are written. Because My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is a show intended to promote toys, this has always been something to be expected. I mean not to imply that it’s surprising in the case of the comics, but it is indeed interesting. If you explore Hasbro’s past, history shows you that killing off characters has not gone well for them. The poor box office performance of The Transformers: The Movie was widely blamed on Hasbro’s controversial decision to use it as a way to advertise their upcoming line of toys by killing off much of the current character cast and replacing them with new characters. Not only that, but allowing for the return of a beloved villain character such as King Sombra would be basic business strategy. Though I humbly acknowledge that everything I have said thus far has been subject to correction, I will do the unthinkable for a moment...and be realistic. Disregarding my input, just imagine it for yourselves. Do you honestly think that during production of Season 3, that Meghan McCarthy was ever called into Stephen Davis’ office and told that she had to completely kill off a new character, whom money could potentially be going into, and leave no door open whatsoever for the character to ever return? No, that I can guarantee never happened. There would be a better chance that one day, Meghan was called into his office and asked to write My Little Pony: High School Musical. Speaking of My Little Pony: High School Musical… ... ...I’m just kidding. At least as far as I know, there’s no evidence of King Sombra being alive in Equestria Girls. Still, I feel I’ve made my point that there are even clues outside of the cartoon that nudge at the possibility of Sombra being alive. Not just that, I also feel like I’ve said enough about Sombra just being alive...so how about I end this by talking about him being alive...and returning? Return of King Sombra Soon I’ll come around...lost and never found... What’s that? King Sombra might still be alive because his horn survived the explosion? Come on, that’s crazy talk! So yeah, speaking seriously, why did it take me so long to bring up what is easily the most popular speculation for how Sombra was able to survive being blown to bits in The Crystal Empire? Easy. Because I wanted to be original! To set myself apart from those zombie writers who just go on and on about trivial stuff that everyone already knows, I went on and on about trivial stuff that no one cares about, like a worm tunneling its way through a zombie’s corroding brain! I’m just joking, as always. I don’t really think I’m “more original” than theorists who use Sombra’s horn and his ability to regenerate his body parts as the focal point of their argument for him being alive. It’s a good piece of supporting evidence to the argument, but I already discussed his regeneration ability earlier, and additionally, it was never what drove me to become a follower of the belief that Sombra is still alive. My inspiration came from SkyBolt, co-creator of the popular Sombra-related music composition, Fall of an Empire, after he discussed his inspirations in an afterthoughts video concerning the project, so special thanks to him. In this video, SkyBolt talks about his personal headcanon on what happened to King Sombra in the Season 3 premiere at a few points. Believe it or not, granted you’re unfamiliar with the video, his theory on the matter is very different from mine. Still, I took everything he said into consideration. He too brought up Luna’s unusual behavior in the episode, but what particularly caught my attention is when he began talking about believing that Sombra actually returned to the Crystal Empire after all had transpired. After hearing that...I got curious. And so, I began to think. Were there any other potential clues to Sombra’s return other than his horn? Looking now, I believe there are… First, I’ll bring up the bright orange sky at the end of the special. Remember that in The Crystal Empire, when Sombra surrounded the empire, the sky above the area was orange, the color of the sky during sunset. In the final verses of The Failure/Success Song, it is sunset and the sky is orange, even though at every other time in that series of scenes, it is day and the sky is blue. Seeing as how it was nighttime when Twilight and her friends were at the Crystal Empire, confirmed by Shining Armor’s line of dialogue about “not wanting to run into things after dark”, and the night sky outside Celestia and Luna’s palace after Sombra is defeated, it would make sense for it be daytime when Twilight and her friends returned home. After all, they left in the afternoon and arrived at the empire at night, where the sky above is always blue. Please don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not trying to be overanalytical and I know such a small thing is explainable by an oversight. Do keep in mind though that in The Crystalling, the show’s Season 6 premiere, a similar thing happened towards the end where a small black creature that appeared to be a Changeling could be seen flying towards the Crystal Empire in the final scene. While this was explainable by an oversight, as it could’ve just been a random pegasus veiled by shadow that was added to the scene by mistake or for effect, it still turned out to be foreshadowing for the plot of Queen Chrysalis’ return that season. On the subject of The Crystalling, anyone who has watched the special has noticed its bizarre lack of an antagonist, the same way Princess Twilight Sparkle, the show's Season 4 premiere, lacked an antagonist. But in the case of the latter, the conflict was set in motion by a former villain, long ago while he was still evil. In the case of the former, the conflict is caused...by an innocent infant and the forces of nature. Needless to say, something about this feels off. Could it be the nagging feeling that the storms that threaten the Crystal Empire are actually being caused by an evil force? It has been proven in the show that evil forces do create storms that bring harm to the land of Equestria, as seen in the case of the Windigoes. So is it possible...that the real cause of the storms in The Crystalling...is King Sombra? The dark clouds enshrouding the empire do give one callbacks to the shadows Sombra surrounded the area with back in The Crystal Empire, just as the final scene where the dark clouds are banished away by the Crystal Heart give one callbacks to the shadows being blown away by the Crystal Heart after Sombra’s defeat. But these scenes have more in common than you may know… If you looked closely in The Crystal Empire, you would’ve noticed that after the Crystal Heart is put in place, for the first time, Sombra’s shadows...can be seen casting shadows in the same way the dark clouds in The Crystalling do. It’s odd how they mirror each other this way. How does a magic shadow...cast a shadow? Could this have been done intentionally? Or is it also coincidence that the ones who volunteer to stymie these dark clouds are Princesses Celestia and Luna, the same ones who have returned to the empire for the first time in a thousand years...and banished King Sombra the last time they were here? Finally, do not forget that Sombra is all too familiar with weather phenomena, as displayed by his creation of an artificially orange sky, one that is seen in both The Crystal Empire and in the alternate future shown in The Cutie Re-Mark. Not only that, but do you remember what happened the first time King Sombra reappeared outside of the Crystal Empire for the first time in a millennium? The weather was unruly...the winds were howling...like a storm... But I’ll keep coming… In conclusion, I believe that there has been far more evidence pointing to King Sombra’s return than we ever thought. Please look at all this for yourselves and make your own conclusions based on what you believe, however. If you find a mistake within my theory, please call me out on it, preferably in a civil manner. Fandom starts with love, there’s no need to shove. I just found this to be an interesting thing to explore and talk about. All it is is my thoughts on the research I’ve done. Also, keep in mind that this entire thing was written by the same person who drew two pictures of King Sombra’s ghost visiting Princess Luna under the headcanon that he had died in The Crystal Empire. However, that same person also believes now that King Sombra is coming back...and that he’s bringing his toys with him...