The My Little Pony franchise is famous for cutie marks, unique symbols on a pony's hind leg at the hip. The term is a play on "beauty mark" and "quarter mark". Cutie marks have appeared on My Little Pony ponies since the 1980s, being a staple feature of the franchise.
|“||You have to put your cutie marks on these cards so I know whose plate is whose.||”|
— Toola-Roola, first on-screen mention of cutie mark.
The term "cutie mark" had not been officially coined prior to Generation 3, and was previously referred to as "symbol" or "marking". The first on-screen mention of "cutie mark" occurred in the animated short "Toola-Roola's Party" in 2008 during the Generation 3 Core 7 era.
On November 19, 2013, Hasbro filed a trademark of "CUTIE MARK" for "Toy ponies; dolls".
In Generations 1-3, the significance of the symbols were not elaborated on. It appears that most ponies are born with a symbol (G1 pony Ember being a major exception). The mark often related to traits or hobbies that the pony exhibited, though they don't make much connection to the pony's personality.
In Generation 4, cutie marks play a much larger role in the lore, personality, individuality, and talent of a pony, and one will earn their mark after they find their "special talent" as young ponies. Cutie marks are implied to make up a large portion of the magical powers of a pony, but are only rarely affected by outside magic. Cutie marks cannot be forcibly granted to a markless pony by magic, however, a cutie mark can be removed by Tirek's magic stealing abilities or a rare spell that suppresses a pony's unique talents.
While the animated movies feature cutie marks on both sides of the pony, the toys often feature the marks on only one side. The side varies between toys, mostly dependent on each toy's packaging. This is seen throughout G3 and G4. G1, however, had figurines with cutie marks on both sides.