The Changelings are the (former) secondary antagonists who first featured in A Canterlot Wedding - Part 2 and are the minions of their ruler Queen Chrysalis. They are shown to be pony-esque creatures that resemble bugs and have the ability to change their appearance into any other form presented to them at any time. They do not have cutie marks.
Role In The Series
In A Canterlot Wedding - Part 2, the changelings are shown breaking the magic force field around Canterlot, and later terrorizing Canterlot, as well as taking the form of the main six ponies and engaging in battle with them. They are soon sent far away from Canterlot by Shining Armor and Princess Cadance's combined magic, along with Queen Chrysalis at the end of the episode.
In the season five episode Slice of Life, a single changeling appears in the audience at Cranky Doodle Donkey and Matilda's wedding, frightening some foals.
In Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?, Rainbow Dash's dream has her fighting changelings, which she says is her favorite dream.
In The Cutie Re-Mark - Part 2, due to both Starlight Glimmer and Twilight Sparkle's changes to the past, the changelings are mentioned to have successfully captured Canterlot, making Zecora and a small tribe of ponies suspicious of them.
A single changeling appears flying in the background at the end of The Crystalling - Part 2.
In Times Are a Changeling, a single Changeling named Thorax appears. With several reported Changeling sightings spreading mass panic and with all the love from Flurry Heart making the citizens of the Crystal Empire a likely target for Chrysalis, Shining Armour, Cadence and Sunburst call Twilight, Starlight and Spike to the Crystal Empire. After explaining their situation, Starlight and Twilight are assigned with helping protecting their daughter Flurry Heart and the Empire and Spike volunteers to go outside with a small troop of guards to find the Changeling. After sending the guards away, Spike accidentally falls down a hole and encounters the Changeling in an underground cave. After saving Spike's life, the Changeling, named Thorax, explains that he isn't actually evil and just wants to make a few friends so he doesn't have to steal the love of others to survive, as he randomly freaks out and tries to steal love when he's around other people. Spike returns to the Empire and informs the guards that Thorax isn't evil, but they take that message as a joke, and to make matters worse, Shining Armour shows up and reminds Spike that the Changelings kidnapped Cadence, mind controlled him and tried to take over Equestria, and Spike is pressured into agreeing that there is no such thing as a good Changeling. After returning to Thorax with the disappointing news, he convinces him to transform into a pony to avoid suspicion, under the fake name Crystal Hoof, convincing everyone that they had been pen-pals since meeting at the Crystal Games. However, once Thorax goes near Flurry Heart, the love surrounding her overwhelmed him and he reverted back to his original form. He begs Spike to defend him, but Spike feels pressured into letting his friend go. Feeling guilty, Spike returns to the cave and finds Thorax, who is still mad at him, however, after Thorax saved him again, Spike decides to return to the Empire and tell his friends the truth. He returns and tells his friends that Thorax isn't evil (through song) and Twilight is proud of Spike for trying to defend someone that everyone, including himself, misjudged. Thorax is then accepted as an official citizen of the Crystal Empire.
In To Where and Back Again, the Changelings and Chrysalis return as the main villains. Sometime during Starlight and Trixie's visit to Starlight's old village, the Changelings infiltrated Ponyville, Canterlot and the Crystal Empire and kidnapped and replaced Twilight, Celestia, Luna, Cadence, Shining Armour, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rarity, Spike and Flurry Heart and took them to the Changeling Kingdom. Once Starlight and Trixie returned, her friends acted fairly mean-spirited towards them and didn't even recognize them, making the two suspicious. At night, Starlight has another bad dream about her village and figured that Luna would show up and help her face her fears, however, Luna appears in a rather frantic manner and quickly informs her not to trust everyone she meets and that the Changelings had captured every powerful pony in Equestria, including her and Celestia. Starlight quickly escapes the castle to get Trixie and the two unicorns break back in to find the Changelings communicating with Chrysalis about their successful mission. The two escape and consider getting help from Cadence and Shining Armour, only for Thorax to show up and tell them that they had been taken as well (while also scaring the living daylights out of Trixie). Starlight also notices that Thorax's wings had become sparkly and shiny, and he states that they had been like that ever since he made a lot of friends, which was also the same time he stopped needing to eat love. While wondering what to do, Discord appears, frustrated that no one ever calls him during magical emergencies. Upon learning that the Changelings took Fluttershy, an infuriated Discord teleports them to the Changeling kingdom, stating that he actually wanted to teleport inside Chrysalis's throne room. While ignoring Thorax, Discord launches multiple attacks on the kingdom, only for them to all disappear when they hit the boarder, leading to Thorax telling them that all non-Changeling magic doesn't work inside the kingdom because of the power of Chrysalis's throne. The unlikely group enters the kingdom and sneak into the Changeling hive, the structure of which is constantly changing like the Changelings themselves. Thorax navigates them through the hive while they are constantly under the threat of alerting hundreds of soldiers. When Discord accidentally alerts them, Trixie and Thorax use their smoke-bombs and shape-shifting to divert them, and two soldiers break off from the group and head for Chrysalis, and the group follows them. Discord distracts the Changeling guards with bad stand-up and the group proceeds to the next room. Discord is then captured by an army of Changelings pretending to be Fluttershy. One of the Changelings changes into Discord and tries to lead the rest of the group into a trap, however, they all realize this and Trixie distracts the Discord-Changeling long enough for the others to escape, but ends up getting captured. Starlight enters Chrysalis's throne room and she has Starlight restrained by her minions. While explaining her master plan, Starlight informs Chrysalis about Thorax and that there is another way, only for her to order Starlight not to mention "that traitor"s" name. She soon realizes that Starlight is just a disguised Thorax and that the real Starlight is trying to destroy her throne. After capturing her, Chrysalis decides to make an example of Thorax by stealing his love, only for him to give her the love willingly, reaching a new form. Realizing that Thorax was right all along, all the Changeling give love and reach the same new form. With Chrysalis defeated and the others freed, Thorax becomes the leader of the reformed Changelings.
Role In The Comics
In the comic The Return of Queen Chrysalis, they return, having survived their fall, and kidnap the ponies of Ponyville while disguised as animals, taking the ponies' places. The Mane 6 eventually fight them in a similar style to before, and take out a few of them before Pinkie Pie traps the rest in bubblegum using a cannon. Spike is left in charge of the captured changelings as the Mane 6 set out for the changeling kingdom, where Chrysalis is holding Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo. Some changelings are sent to manipulate the Mane 6 by separating and impersonating them. In the end, they are defeated by Twilight along with Chrysalis and imprisoned by Pinkie Pie in their castle, entranced by a costume she set to ask riddles and sing endlessly to them.
However, recently, on page 11 of Friends Forever Issue #8, a sign under the Mount Monument observation deck reads "Sign the petition to add Queen Chrysalis to the monument" and bears Chrysalis' fresh signature, which in turn strongly suggests they have since recovered and are back to plotting and causing trouble for Equestria. Chrysalis's Fiendship is Magic issue has her and her changelings escape and they are once again at large.
(It should be noted that it is up to the fans to decide for themselves whether the comics are canon)
Their interest in taking over Equestria is explained by their source of nourishment being true love, and that Equestria has "more love than [they] have ever encountered."
Queen Chrysalis and the changelings may be based off of Sinisteeds, dark, horse-like creatures who thrive on feeding off of love and emotion in the novel Gossamer by Lois Lowry.
The changelings are shown to be evil, mischievous and cruel individuals, though as only the Queen and her army has been shown, it is uncertain if this can be said about all changelings as a whole.
- When the changelings shatter the barrier around Canterlot, it looks similar to when Voldemort destroys the barrier around Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.
- The way Chrysalis and her army of changelings are sent flying into the distance echoes Team Rocket "blasting off".
- Changelings slightly resemble Thestrals from Harry Potter
- The comics depict the changelings (or at least three of them, one with armor) landing in the same area as their queen after their defeat in A Canterlot Wedding. However, in the episode only one changeling was shown flying in the same direction as her, as they are scattered in all directions.
- They are based of the original Changelings from folklore
- There are theories that duplicate background ponies seen throughout the episodes are actually changelings in disguise.
- A changeling is seen in the audience at Cranky and Matilda's wedding in the 100th episode, and was confirmed by the writers to be a friend of Matilda, indicating that either some changelings are good and do not follow Chrysalis, or that some survived their fall and changed their ways. This was further proven by another Changeling named Thorax, who ended up befriending Spike.
- Another changeling appeared at the end of The Crystalling, possibly foreshadowing their next appearance and invasion.