Western Animation: Steven Universe

Believe in Steven.note 

"We... are the Crystal Gems, we'll always save the day,
and if you think we can't, we'll always find a way!
That's why the people of this world believe in
Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl - AND STEVEN!"
Steven Universe theme song

Steven Universe is a Cartoon Network show from Rebecca Sugar, an Adventure Time alum who also created Pug Davis. It is also the first Cartoon Network original created solely by a woman.

The show is about the misadventures of a boy named Steven, the youngest of a team of magical guardians of humanity: the Crystal Gems. Steven may not be as powerful as the other Crystal Gems. Or as savvy. And he doesn't have much control over his powers, which originate from the gem in his bellybutton inherited from his late mother. But that doesn't stop him from joining Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl on their magical adventures and somehow finding a way to save the day!

A comic book series began in August of 2014 (Announced before the show was even set to air. Yeah, CN was so confident in the show they gave it a comic book right off the bat). A short teaser story was released in the Adventure Time 2013 Spooktacular.

Steven Universe has had a (noncanon) Cross Over episode with - of all shows - Uncle Grandpa.

A standalone mobile game, Steven Universe: Attack The Light was released on April 2nd, 2015 for iOS and Android. It features a self-contained story written by Rebecca Sugar and turn-based RPG gameplay along the lines of Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario.

There is a recap page, as well as a Best Episode Crowner. A wiki is here.

Warning: Unmarked spoilers ahead. Proceed at your own risk!

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These are the Crystal Tropes:

    A - D 
  • Adult Fear:
    • Of course, because this is a show targeted towards children, Steven doesn't get killed or even seriously injured, but the fact is that a good chunk of the series so far has a young optimistic boy get thrown into repeated life-threatening situations, some more jarringly dark than others, while the Crystal Gems try their best to keep him safe. "So Many Birthdays," "Space Race," and "Cat Fingers" are the most prime examples, but there are plenty of others.
    • On the flip side of the above, we have Steven's occasional self-esteem issues, worrying that he may never be able to hold his own in said life-threatening situations due to his lack of powers. "An Indirect Kiss" displays this when, after hoping to have Healing Tears like his mother and finding out he doesn't, he relates the story to Connie as Pearl mocking him for his lack of powers and claiming that the gems want nothing to do with him.
    Connie: She didn't really say that.
    Steven: No, but that's what it felt like.
    • In the turning point of "The Test," the Crystal Gems admit to each other that they don't really know what they're doing and are worried they can't raise Steven well without his mother.
    Amethyst: We're bad at this.
    Garnet: Steven is not just a Gem. There's never been anyone like him. We don't know what he needs.
    • Greg having to let Steven go back and try to help the Crystal Gems in "The Return", knowing that he may never see him again (in addition to his more general reservations about Steven going on missions). In "Full Disclosure" Greg has a Freak Out bordering on a Hollywood Heart Attack when he hears about Steven's abduction.
    • In "Joy Ride", not only does Steven reveal that he sometimes thinks that the Gems blame him for Rose's death, they attack him while he's in Peridot's pod, as they think he's her.
    • In "Say Uncle", they are understandably worried when UG shows up, especially after he fires weapons at Steven, and even attack him because they believe he's a threat to Steven.
  • Aerith and Bob: The Gems, of course, are named after gemstones. But the humans have names like Greg, Steven, Connie, Onion, Sour Cream...
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Garnet does this to Steven in the opening.
  • All There in the Manual: Initially, only the Tumblr Character Blog "Keep Beach City Weird" confirmed that the show is set in the Delmarva Peninsula on the United States East Coast. This would indicate the show most likely takes place in the Delaware region, which makes sense given Rebecca Sugar herself based Beach City off of beach towns in that region, or possibly a fictional state named Delmarva—Word of God would later state to the latter to be the case.
  • Alternate History: There are subtle signs that the long-term presence of the Gems has slightly altered Earth's history. Word of God confirms this.
    • "Delmarva Peninsula" isn't just a geographical location, but a state in this setting—a window on the Big Donut that has the words "Beach City, DV"; DV is presumably the abbreviation for "Delmarva."
    • In "Arcade Mania" a modified Department of Justice seal with a broken up snake on it can be seen, likely based on a famous political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin. Money is printed with the same symbol on one side and a diamond on the other taking the place of the Eye of Providence. The snake symbol is also on the coins.
    • In So Many Birthdays we're shown that the Gems have changed human history at least once when Steven finds a painting of the Gem's rescuing Brook Watson from a shark attack in Amethyst's room.
    • A high-altitude view of the North America in "Jail Break" show something caused Florida to break off from the mainland.
    • In "Story for Steven", Marty talks about taking Greg's tour to "Empire City" and Ronaldo's blog makes mention of going to a convention in "Charm City". In real life these are nicknames for New York City and Baltimore, respectively, but the way they're said implies those are the cities actual names in-show, or at least used much more commonly.
  • Aliens Speaking English: The Crystal Gems have been on earth for over a thousand years and have had time to master the language. Homeworld Gems like Peridot, however, still speak English on their own planet.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • "Ocean Gem" reveals that the gem monsters the Gems fight used to be Gems themselves. To make matters worse, one of these Gems, Lapis, was trapped in a mirror, essentially enslaved and only able to communicate with recorded reflections. One of which happens to be Steven screaming.
    • Another example of this is when Lapis fuses with Jasper to form Malachite. Once they are fused, Lapis drags the two of them to the bottom of the ocean using her power over water.
  • Animation Bump:
    • Lapis has far more flowing, graceful animation than most of the main cast, reflecting both her aqueous nature, and how much more serious she is than them. Especially apparent when she's alone with Steven, whose jerky animation and childlike personality contrast hers.
    • Rose also has carefully animated hair, as her large curls are detailed and can often be seen moving and bouncing with the smallest movements of her head. This helps portray Rose's sublime beauty, which many characters refer to throughout the series.
  • Animesque: Like its spiritual counterpart, Adventure Time, Steven Universe takes a lot of aesthetic and thematic hints from anime. Fittingly, whereas Adventure Time is an American Shounen series with a large female following, Steven Universe is an American Shoujo series with a large male following.
  • April Fools' Day: In 2015, Steven Universe had a Cross Over with Uncle Grandpa. While it aired on April 2 (as to fit with the pattern of airing new episodes on Thursday), the episode itself says "April Fools'" in it. Part of the prank also included one of the staff members considering it a canon episode, although the episode says otherwise.
  • Arc Symbol:
    • The hot dog Steven eats in the opening: see Arc Words.
    • The five-pointed star is implied to have some sort of connection to the crystal gems as it appears in all of their designs in one form or another. (Steven and Pearl have it on their shirts, Garnet has it on her top as well as her gauntlets, Amethyst has it in the holes in her pants, Rose Quartz's dress had a large star shape cut out from the midriff, and Lion displays it as his mane)
    • The Homeworld Gems seem to be associated with a rhombus/diamond shape. Lapis's clothes have a triangle design, that together form a diamond. Peridot's design seems to incorporate a lot of diamond shapes, implying an association with Lapis. Hers and Jasper's clothes include a yellowish diamond shape on the torso, possibly signifying their position under Yellow Diamond or that they are modern Gems.
    • Flowers, especially roses, which are associated both with Steven and his mother Rose Quartz.
      • Rose also seems to have had a connection with a pink triangle symbol.
  • Arc Words:
    • "If every pork chop were perfect, we wouldn't have hot dogs." A saying of Greg that gets repeated a few more times through the show, which represents the shows theme that nobody is perfect, and that this makes the world a nicer place.
    • "Believe". The show's tagline says to "believe in Steven", the theme-song says "the people of this world believe in" the Crystal Gems, and Lapis says that she "never believed in this place [Earth]". As of "The Test", Steven becomes frustrated because he thinks the Gems don't believe in him. But in the end, he realizes they don't believe in themselves when it comes to raising and training him properly.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Steven lives in a house at the base of a seaside cliff, and at least one episode involved a Gem being damaged from falling off of that cliff. In real life, the Delmarva Peninsula is as flat as a board. See Alternate History above for more detail.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Occasionally the show reminds the audience that Pearl and Amethyst don't really hate each others guts.
  • Awesome Mc Cool Name: Steven Universe. Lampshaded by Connie's mother who claims that it couldn't possibly be his real name.
  • Big "NO!": Practically Steven's Catch Phrase, and the first thing he ever says on the show. Generally it's just him being melodramatic, but taken to creepy levels when a magic mirror containing the imprisoned Lapis Lazuli expresses its horror by replaying it on a loop.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The first season narrative finale "Jail Break" ends with Steven and the Gems managing to save the Earth from Peridot and Jasper, but Lapis had to sacrifice herself by trapping herself and Jasper at the bottom of the ocean, Peridot managed to escape and is somewhere on the planet, along with the possible appearance of a new villain called Yellow Diamond.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Magical being like the Gems and the monsters they fight do not bleed, merely disappearing in puffs of smoke when mortally wounded, leaving behind a gem which will eventually regenerate into the original being.
  • Building of Adventure: Pearl insists (multiple times) that there are several rooms in the Gem Temple that aren't safe for humans, so you just know that even something as simple as a coffee run could get the blood pumping in your ears.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: All of the characters, human or Gem, have very unique designs with distinctly different faces and body types. Appropriately however, characters who are directly related to one another do share some clear resemblances (such as Steven and Greg, Connie and her parents, the Fryman and Pizza families, etc.)
  • Central Theme:
    • Most episodes tend to converge on themes of mixing magic with reality, accepting or embracing imperfection, and/or finding beauty in the ugly. Rebecca describes the show as "reverse-escapism," where magical beings are fascinated with the mundane. Steven is the epitome of the magic-and-reality theme, as he is half-human (normal) and half Crystal Gem (magic). A standard way they mix magic with reality is solving a magic problem a "mundane" way, like Steven using a glow bracelet (normal/mundane) to lure a worm gem monster (magic) to its death, or using standard household duct-tape to patch up an enormous geode that's about to "leak" out a devastating magical storm.
    • The Power of Love and friendship, and how relationships, though difficult to manage, make people stronger.
  • Cerebus Retcon:
    • The Reveal that the monsters the Gems fight are actually corrupted Gems casts the whole series in a different light.
    • The background which is given in "Warp Tour" and "On The Run" about the Crystal Gems being renegades from the homeworld after a huge war to protect the Earth from their own kind, and Amethyst having been created as a soldier for that war...
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: While the show has a few lighthearted episodes, most of them take a 90° turn into drama that quickly changes the tone of the story.
  • Character Blog: Keep Beach City Weird, run by Ronaldo Fryman since slightly before the show started and updating for most new episodes. He mentions it in-universe when he takes a picture of Steven's cat fingers.
  • Character Development: As the series progresses:
    • Steven becomes more self-confident, less naive, and really grows into his role as The Heart.
    • Connie learns to become more independent and self-confident, standing up to others.
    • Garnet gradually becomes less stoic, showing more and more emotion.
  • Chekov's Gun: Numerous times an object will be introduced, seemingly just as a plot device for an individual episode, then become important down the line.
    • In "Gem Glow", you can briefly see a glow stick in Steven's freezer. This ends up being the catalyst for his and Connie's friendship.
    • In "Rose's Room", the Crystal Gems bring back a 'wailing stone', which accidentally destroys Steven's TV. In "The Message", it activates when Lapis sends them a warning from the Homeworld.
    • In "Monster Buddies", the main characters go to collect a 'shooting star'. When Steven asks what it does, Amethyst sarcastically responds, "You shoot it, duh". Turns out she wasn't just joking- shooting stars are literally powerful bombs, which the Crystal Gems apparently use to destroy the Galaxy Warp once and for all.
  • City of Adventure: Beach City. The presence of the Gems and their temple apparently attracts much unwanted magical attention.
  • Clarke's Third Law: The Gems' abilities amount to what most would call "magic". They are also entities from outer space, suggesting that at least some their "magic" is actually extremely advanced technology. See also: Sufficiently Advanced Aliens and Magitech. Some gems, like Peridot almost exclusively use technology. Other displays of magic, such as Rose Quartz's healing tears and Lapis Lazuli's complete elemental control over water, suggest no technology could ever exist to mimic them.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: Most entries on "Keep Beach City Weird" are made alongside an episode of the show and have something to do with it, generally implying that Ronaldo is posting them in-universe around the same time. While some entries are Ronaldo's viewpoint of events that occurred in the episode or him encountering their aftermath, and rarely they have absolutely nothing to do with the episode, often it's about some element of the episode or thematically related without any causal link. For instance, right after Steven uses time travel to make copies of himself in "Steven and the Stevens", Ronaldo makes a post about alternate timelines. Steven is inspired to live on the road by a book series in "On the Run", then Ronaldo posts a review of the graphic novel adaptation. "Winter Forecast" is about Steven experiencing the same events over and messing up more each time, and is followed by a post about life's biggest regrets.
  • Continuity Nod: This series has some pretty amazing continuity in terms of small details. For example, Steven's cheeseburger backpack, which he got in an episode of the same name, is seen or referenced in many of the later episodes. More specific examples can be found in the recap pages for each episode.
  • Cool House: The Crystal Gems' home is explored in "Together Breakfast." The whole thing is a wooden house that is attached to a giant statue (the temple). That wooden house part? That's Steven's room. The Crystal Gems get the temple, which is a magical, intricate facility with long hallways, tunnels, floating platforms, crystals galore, and even magic waterfalls.
    Garnet: We inhabit the inner sanctums... only accessible through magical, extra-dimensional doors.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The music that plays during the end credits tends to change:
  • Crossover: With Uncle Grandpa. Like all children Uncle Grandpa helps, Steven is his distant relative.
  • Depending on the Artist: Different storyboard artists for the show each have their own varying styles. This is most obvious in any episode storyboarded by Ian Jones Quartey, whose storyboarding style is at time very different than anyone else's.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The opening credits are sung by the Crystal Gems, plus Steven.

    E - M 
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Many of the secondary Beach City Residents make brief cameos in earlier episodes before they are properly established, such as Mr. Smiley staring at the Red Eye in Laser Light Canon and the cool kids being attacked by Frybo.
  • Eldritch Location: The Gem Temple has water which doesn't obey gravity, areas where gravity isn't consistent, and is implied to be alive (it has numerous body parts and a heart).
    • In "Serious Steven" the Gems freak out because the pyramid they've entered appears to be one of these; no matter which direction they go, they always seem to end up in the same room. It turns out that the outer edges of the temple were merely rotating to give this impression, however.
    • In the Uncle Grandpa crossover Pearl has something of an emotional breakdown when she and the other Gems get trapped in the endless white void of the "Plot Hole".
  • Episode Title Card: Every episode has a title card displaying the same view of the beach near the Gem Temple with one of the temple's hands in the foreground, holding a washing machine and a clothesline with some of Steven's clothing on it. Various details, such as the weather and time of day, are changed to reflect how it would look at the start of the episode, usually a blue and pink day time palette, with the most common variants being a pinkish orange morning/evening palette and the nighttime blue pallette used in the credits. The one exception so far is "Jail Break", which instead shows outer space because the Crystal Gems begin the episode as prisoners in a spaceship.
  • Expository Theme Tune: The Crystal Gems purpose and names are all laid out in the twenty second long theme song, as at the top of the page.
  • Fantastically Indifferent: Gems have been on Earth since at least the beginning of recorded human civilization (one comment by Pearl in "Political Power" implies they've been on Earth since before humans started moving away from hunting and gathering 12,000 years ago). The citizens of Beach City at least are largely indifferent to them and Ronaldo considers their activities as an explanation for all the weirdness in town as too simple and mundane.
  • Fastball Special: Garnet throws Amethyst at the Red Eye in "Laser Light Cannon". She does so again in "Beach Party", with Amethyst turning herself into a literal ball.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • One of the lyrics to Greg's single in "Laser Light Cannon" is "I know I'm not that tall". When we finally see Rose in "Lion 3: Straight to Video", it turns out she is a lot taller than Greg.
    • The fact that the Red Eye in "Laser Light Cannon" doesn't quite operate like what the show establishes as the usual Monster of the Week (i.e. not leaving behind a gem to be collected) hints that there's more to it. As in, it was a probe, not a gem monster
    • One of the transformations Amethyst cycles through in "Cat Fingers" is her Purple Puma wrestler persona from "Tiger Millionaire".
    • Also in "Cat Fingers", Steven asks how to change into a huge lion. A few episode later, he meets a huge lion.
    • The temple that the gems live in is in the shape of an enormous woman with eight arms. Both Pearl and Amethyst's fusion, and Amethyst's and Garnet's fusion end up having four arms. Alexandrite, the fusion of Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl has six arms, implying that the eight-armed woman either represents a four-gem fusion, or the specific fusion of Rose Quartz and the others.
    • The bright, pink setting that Steven slides down in "Together Breakfast" ("Hey... This isn't so bad.") is later revealed to be Rose's former room in "Rose's Room". The same background music even plays. Pearl warned the heart was connected to the most dangerous rooms in the temple. She wasn't kidding.
    • One of the locations the Stevens go to in "Steven and the Stevens" is a desert-like landscape where nautical vehicles can be seen. This foreshadows the events of "Ocean Gem" where the ocean disappears. So the Stevens went into the future.
    • In "Monster Buddies", the Centipeetle can be seen trying to take the shape of a woman when it is first released. A few episodes later "Ocean Gem" confirms that they were once sentient.
    • In "Steven the Sword Fighter", when Pearl is gravely injured she reverts back to a pure Gem to recuperate in much the same way the monsters the Crystal Gems fight do, come later in "Ocean Gem" it's revealed that the monsters the Gems fight are gems themselves.
    • The Cookie Cat theme-song from "Gem Glow" — overall an ordinary, meaningless advertising tune, except for the lines; "a refugee of an interstellar war" and "he left his family behind" — or, what appears to be the back-story of the Crystal Gems when they separated from the Homeworld Gems.
      • In "Future Vision", as Chibi-Steven was zapped by Cookie Cat he wailed "NOOO! I never considered you might be EVIL!". Although "Warp Tour" hinted at it, only after "Marble Madness" was it clear that the Homeworld Gems don't have warm feelings toward humanity.
    • Another from "Gem Glow"- Connie's bracelet appears in the freezer next to all the Cookie Cats.
    • In "Cheeseburger Backpack" Amethyst tries to cheer Steven up after he messed up the mission by telling him 2 out of 4 of his ideas worked, saying he got 50% as if she was describing a test score. In "The Test", we find out it actually was a test.
    • In "Warp Tour", Peridot mentions she plans to reactivate an area called "Kindergarten". "On The Run" reveals what it is. "Marble Madness" sees her trying to reactivate it.
    • Cross media example. On Ronaldo's "Keep Beach City Weird" blog on Tumblr, he opened questions for Halloween 2014. One question asked what his first encounter with the paranormal was; he answered an incident with a piece of wood. Another asked if he was friends with Lars; he simply answered "No". Fast forward to February 2015, when the show's Halloween episode aired, where we find out the history behind both those answers.
    • In "Lion 2: The Movie" Lion brings Steven and Connie to a cave filled with magical weapons. In "Rose's Scabbard" it is revealed to be Rose Quartz's armory.
    • The lead-up to The Reveal in "Jail Break" that Garnet is a gem fusion was rather extensive:
      • Garnet has a gem on each hand (both cut into different shapes), three eyes that are all different colors, and is far stronger than Amethyst or Pearl.
      • In the episode "Fusion Cuisine", one can very briefly see Sapphire and Ruby when Alexandrite de-fuses.
      • In "Alone Together," Garnet's advice to Stevonnie (the fusion between Steven and Connie) makes it seem like she's speaking from experience. Because she is; she's a fusion between two lovers (which just so happens to be what Stevonnie is). She makes another comment in the same episode.
        Amethyst: [Fusing is] really hard, even for us.
        Garnet: Not for me.
      • The opening sequence hints at the truth: at the end, when each Crystal Gem gets their own shot, two shooting stars can be seen in the background behind Garnet.
      • The door to the rooms of the Crystal Gems has one of their characteristic stars on it. Each point of the star has a miniature colored gem on it that represents the owner of the room; Rose/Steven has a pink gem, Pearl has a white gem, and Amethyst has a purple gem; Garnet, however, uses both the red and blue gem to go to her room, hinting at her status as a fusion.
      • In "Monster Buddies," Amethyst nicknames Garnet "the G-squad."
      • In Garnet's introduction during the intro of the series Pilot Episode, she is standing between two large chunks of ruby and sapphire. This, of course, means that Garnet was likely a fusion since her conception as a character, or at least before the pilot was finished.
    • The fact that the Gems are aliens is kept a secret until "Ocean Gem"; afterwards, the many references to space, such as the star-symbols and even the name 'Universe' makes it seem like it should have been obvious that they weren't from Earth.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: There are often very small, easy to miss details, which usually take the form of cute shout-outs to other media, or plot relevant details.
  • Gem Heart: Literally. The Crystal Gems recede into their gem when their bodies are too heavily damaged and regenerate afterwards. This applies to the monsters also, leaving nothing but a gem for the Gems to collect after they kill them.
  • Great Offscreen War: Pearl, Garnet, and Rose Quartz were all part of a great galactic gem war long, long ago. When it was revealed that the Gems were planning on doing something that would seriously harm the Earth, they decided to fight back to protect the Earth, even if it meant exiling themselves and cutting off access to the planet from other Gems.
  • Hard Light: Word of God says this is what the Gems' bodies are made of (though they can actually be quite soft, if they wish).
  • Hero Insurance: While the townspeople certainly don't like the Gems occasionally destroying their property, they don't usually do anything about it—the most that seems to have ever happened is the Gems getting banned from Fish Stew Pizza for wrecking the storefront. The Gems themselves outright don't care; their job is to kill the monsters, and property is collateral.
    (after the Gems accidentally cause an EMP and Mayor Dewey is begging Steven for help)
    Steven: We'll help you clean up!
    Garnet: (offscreen) No we won't!
  • High School A.U.:
  • Home of Monsters: "Kindergarten" is where Amethyst was created. It's a desolate canyon filled with large drilling machines shaped like bacteriophages.
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: Gems don't always get a lot of human habits and behaviours, something which is often played for both laughs and drama. Pearl especially seems to get confused by some of the things that these short lived, organic creatures do.
  • Iris Out: Most episodes end with an Iris Out in the shape of the star on Steven's shirt and a playful "pop" noise accompanied by mini stars. The ones that don't usually end on a more serious/ominous note.
    • "House Guest" instead has two iris outs, in the shape of two stars, which close in on Steven and his dad.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Keep Beach City Weird stopped posting during the summer of 2014, but returned late that August with the promise of up to six more posts, mirroring Cartoon Network's scheduling of the show through the end of the first production order.
    • After the broadcast of "Marble Madness", Ronaldo noticed one of the marbles entering earth, so his plans for the next week involve watching the C.A.R.T.O.O.N. note  NETWORK, a comet-detecting service for commercial airliners, every day at 5 P.M., with the relevant points bolded.
  • Leitmotif: Various characters have their own:
  • Licensed Game: Attack the Light.
  • Light Is Not Good: "Attack the Light"'s premise is that Steven accidentally unleashed an army of light meant to be commanded by a strong Gem.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Justified; "Story for Steven" reveals that Steven's shirt(s) were once merchandise Greg would sell at concerts during his rockstar days. Meanwhile, the Gems' bodies are merely projections, and since their clothes are as fake as the rest of them, they tend to stick to a single outfit. The one real exception to the Limited Wardrobe is Connie, who wears a different outfit in practically every single one of her appearances.
  • Magitek: A lot of the magic in the show seems like a form of technology. For example, Pearl's hologram is a voice-activated hologram that can touch things, but bugs out with static. Rose's room is like a gaming processor that can't handle areas that are too big. The room also responds to voice commands. Rose's armory does as well. Crystal shards (as seen in "Frybo") also respond to voice commands.
  • Maternal Death? Blame the Child: The Gems and Greg all love Steven very much, but they're also aware that Rose effectively gave up her life so he could be born. Tragically, Steven himself begins to pick up on this, and starts to feel guilty.
  • Mayfly-December Romance: When Greg and Rose met he was a 20-something travelling musician while she was a more than 6000 years old Lady of War from a race of sentient gems. Tragically subverted as Rose died a decade or so later, leaving Greg to care for their son.
  • Monster of the Week: Downplayed. There are monsters with gems in their bodies that the Gems need to stop from reaching the temple but they rarely are the focus of the episode. It turns out these monsters are actually corrupted Gems. There are also the occasional monster that differs, such as the spirit in "Together Breakfast" and the Red Eye in "Laser Light Cannon" which was a space probe sent by Peridot. Later on, this becomes even less of an emphasis as the focus shifts to a Myth Arc.
  • Mood Whiplash: The show does have moments to change from funny to seriousness in a matter of minutes.
  • Mundane Utility: All the Gems have shown that they're quick to use their magic for relatively normal matters.
    • All the gems maintain that fusions are only used in dire situations...but Steven manages to convince them to fuse just to attend supper with his friend's family anyway.
    • Steven uses the pocket dimension in Lion's mane to store sodas and things.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: As shown above with the Theme Tune Roll Call, Steven Zoidberg's himself in. And in the pilot it was Steven who wrote the song in the first place.
  • Musical World Hypotheses: Most of the time, when songs come up, they seem Digetic. Steven (and to a lesser extent, Greg) are musically talented, and often enjoy performing or improvising songs. Occasionally, though, they're obviously something different, such as Pearl's monologue of "Strong in the Real Way" or Garnet's Bad Ass Boast in "Stronger Than You", which she sings during battle and continues to be audible as Garnet ceased visibly singing.
  • Myth Arc: "Mirror Gem" and "Ocean Gem" hint at a far wider conflict than merely monsters randomly attacking Beach City. All those monsters are corrupted Gems, and the Crystal Gems seem to fear whatever might come from their homeworld.
    • This came back in "Warp Tour" when ball-like machines travel through the warp streams to get to the Intergalactic Warp pad so they can fix it and give another new Gem, Peridot, access to it. This also reveals that the Earth-bound Gems actively destroyed that particular warp pad to prevent more of their kind from reaching Earth. Why that is has not yet been revealed, but it actively terrifies Garnet.
    • In "On the Run," we learn that the Gems from their homeworld were trying to use Earth to create other Gems, which would be dangerous for the humans already living on Earth. Amethyst was one of the Gems created here.
    • After the season 1 finale, Peridot manages to escape to Earth, and there's the looming threat that Homeworld is going to notice that she, Jasper and Lapis have gone missing and come to investigate.

    N - R 
  • New Content Countdown Clock: On the day of the premiere, there was a clock in the corner of Cartoon Network's programs counting down to the premiere of Steven Universe.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore:
    • "Mirror Gem"/"Ocean Gem" has this effect: Steven releases the Mirror Gem, revealing her to be another Gem named Lapis, which prompts the reveal that all the gem monsters were corrupted Gems, turning the dynamic on its head. At the end, Steven heals Lapis and she goes into space, but the Gems imply this might have repercussions in the future and it expands the setting from just Earth to space.
    • "On the Run" puts nearly everything in regards to Amethyst in a whole new light. She was born on Earth in the Kindergarten to be a "bad," parasitic Gem, and she still has negative feelings about this, which were not addressed until "On the Run."
    • "Jail Break" does the same with Garnet. She's a fusion between Ruby and Sapphire.
  • Off Model: This happens in the show very often and Ian Jones-Quartey has actually stated that the show creators are aware of this and make no apologies about doing so, because cartoons are meant to be fluid, expressive and funny.
  • Official Couple:
    • Steven and Connie. While they're still too young to be romantically involved with each other, they are best friends, and share close enough of a bond to prove to the Gems that Humans can fuse with them. The end of "Full Disclosure" only cements the relationship, with Connie choosing to stay with Steven after learning the whole story about the Gems.
    • Sapphire and Ruby have been confirmed by one of the storyboard writers to have a romantic relationship.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The Crystal Gems are often elsewhere on the planet fighting evil. As Steven isn't ready to join them, they don't take him along. In "Cheeseburger Backpack", for example, they've just returned from fighting a giant bird, and in "Cat Fingers", they journey off to another mission, leaving Steven behind to deal with his problem himself.
  • Police Are Useless: Beach City doesn't even seem to HAVE any form of law enforcement: none are present, even in situations where they logically should be, such as when a blackout nearly causes a riot or when the there's a massive evacuation.
  • Portal Door: The door at the Gem monument leads to the Gem temple, and opens to specific areas depending on which Gem activates it.
  • Portal Network: The crystal platform in front of the Portal Door links to other platforms of similar construction. There's a larger version of this called the Galaxy Warp that connects to an interplanetary network.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: It is implied that many gem artifacts, including the Desert Glass and the pyramid in "Serious Steven", are powered by sentient Gems. Lapis Lazuli herself powered a magical mirror.
  • The Power of Love/The Power of Friendship: The show's central theme is the love and relationships between characters. Steven in particular is primarily motivated by the need to care for and protect others. Fusions between gems also work far better if the gems legitimately love and care for one another.
    • Steven's gem powers are activated by his desire to protect and shield the ones he loves.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The series often uses motifs from Hinduism, such as the multiple arms seen in the Gems' temple statue and fused gems (including Opal and Sugilite). Opal was also originally planned to form a clockwise swastika symbol with her hands when summoning her bow, a symbol associated with Vishnu. Sugilite, with her four arms, scary-looking fangs and Blood Knight personality, strongly resembles the Hindu goddess Kali (who is associated with the counterclockwise swastika).
  • Running Gag:
    • Steven often falls flat on his face after teleporting.
    • The TV in Steven's room has broken several times.
    • When something magical happens to Connie and Steven, Connie will usually say something along the lines of, "Is this usual?" to which Steven will reply, "No. This is new."
    • Steven, in some way, mentioning that Lars and Sadie probably like each other.
    • Mr. Universe's van suffering abuse.
    Mr. Universe: NO, NOT THE VAN.
    • The Gems ground Steven by forbidding him to watch TV for 1000 years in "Fusion Cuisine", and it keeps coming up again in future episodes. In the episode "Joy Ride", Garnet ungrounds Steven from TV.

    S - Z 
  • Scenery Porn:
    • The series has gained a name thanks to its gorgeous artwork.
    • The scene in "Ocean Gem" with the sea tower reaching into space is breathtaking.
  • Science Fantasy: While some of the stuff the Gems have and can do is depicted as technology, a good portion of said technology seems to be Magitek of some kind, and the rest is straight up described as magic, and has no apparently technology behind it.
  • Shout-Out: A whole page's worth.
  • Show Within a Show: Li'l Butler, a parody of series' like The Nanny. Greg has an entire collection of VHS tapes though the series itself seems to have ran it's course.
  • Space Age Stasis: Nope! The Homeworld Gems have continued to advance in the thousands of years they've been cut off from Earth, to the point that the most powerful weapons the Gems have are useless against their technology.
  • Surprise Creepy: The show is usually a lighthearted comedy, which makes the occasional foray into terrifying Body Horror all the more effective.
  • Surrealism: Downplayed, but it's there and not always Played for Laughs (for example, the Homeworld Gems arriving in a giant hand-shaped spaceship for apparently no reason), though the show does sometimes veer into Surreal Humor.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: The Gems employ Warp Pads to get around from place to place on Earth, crystal pads activated by a Gem's thought or by a convenient Warp Whistle. They transport more than the Gems themselves, but a normal human can't activate one on their own. Those who are transported by a pad go through "Warp Space", a space where all the streams from the warp pads run through. The other streams are visible if one sticks their head out, but as warp space lacks heat, air and gravity, it is not advisable.
    • There are larger versions known as the Galaxy Warp, to get from planet to planet, though the one to and from Earth is broken. The Crystal Gems make sure it stays that way too, and for good reason.
  • There Are No Therapists: Steven really needs one after the Season One finale.
  • Theme Tune Extended: There is an extended version of the show's theme ("We Are the Crystal Gems") even longer than the pilot version. The version that can be found online has some parts censored with "dah dah dah" and such, because those are apparently spoilers. Here's the extra lyrics that haven't been censored for spoilers:
    If only you could know what we really are
    ....
    We were surprised to find your beauty and your worth
    We will protect your kind, we will protect your Earth
    We will protect your Earth
  • Thriving Ghost Town: Beach City is home to less than two dozen people, for an area that should charitably require five times as many. Greg lampshades this when Steven says how the whole city will be at the concert he wants them both to attend. Greg says that like 15 people, tops.
  • Title Theme Drop: The theme song is often played in the background in clever ways, such as just using the basic chords from the theme, or remixing the melody very slightly.
  • Troll: Meta example on Tumblr. The Crystal Gems fanblog reblogged a post that Ronaldo specifically said not to reblog. He calls them out on their failed attempt to troll him.
  • Trailers Always Lie: Not exactly trailers, but it's become notorious in the fandom that the episodes with particularly innocent and silly promos will turn out to be incredibly intense by the end. "On The Run" was probably the worst offender, with both the summary and the preview shown at MAGFest a couple weeks before it aired made it seem like nothing but wacky hijinks with Amethyst.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Everyone in Beach City reacts like this towards the Gems. Despite their display of magical powers, no one seems to care. When Ronaldo finds out they're responsible for a bunch of strange events he attributed to The Reptilians, he finds this actual explanation too mundane to accept. This is justified when you consider that the Gems have been on Earth since practically the dawn of humanity, if not longer (Pearl casually states in "Political Power" that she can remember when humans used to be hunter-gatherers, implying that her presence on Earth predates the Neolithic Revolution of 10,000 B.C.E). As far as humans are concerned, the Gems have pretty much always been there; it's an old hat at this point.
    • Played with in "Lion 2: The Movie". Connie is suitably amazed by the giant pink lion and gem magic, while Steven is used to it and is more excited about the movie with the cyborg heli-dog. Once the flying robot shooting up the street is defeated, the ticket lady doesn't even question what happened.
    • "Beach Party" has Garnet explaining to the Pizzas exactly how the Gem Temple works. As she does so, the gem in her right hand sparkles.
      Kofi: What is wrong with your hand?
    • In "Ocean Gem", Mayor Dewey refers to the Gems as "those magical ladies", and while everyone is rather surprised the ocean has disappeared, they care less for this physical impossibility than they do the effect it will have on the town.
    • When Alexandrite shows up to a family dinner with Connie's parents, their reaction to a giant, multi-colored, six-armed woman is mild surprise and stammering through the usual expected niceties.
    • Played with during Greg's story of how he met Rose; he pays no attention to the fact he had a conversation with Amethyst, who was a giant purple owl with her gem in its chest, but is promptly shocked when the owl starts talking back.
  • War Is Hell: "Rose's Scabbard" reveals that every weapon on the battlefield from "Serious Steven" belonged to a Gem that died in the fight, and Greg tells Steven that "there's no such thing as a good war" in "The Return".
  • Was Once a Man: Every single monster and gem-powered artifact in the show.
  • Wave Motion Gun: Rose Quartz's light cannon. It shoots a beam of light in the shape of a flower that blooms into a silhouette of Rose herself.
  • We Are as Mayflies: In "Keep Beach City Weird!", Pearl muses that humans live "short, boring lives." Gems, on the other hand, do not age and are very hard to kill.
  • Weapon of Choice: The gems all have a different magical weapon that they summon through their gems.
    • Garnet has a pair gauntlets that are projecyed out of the gems embedded in her hands.
    • Pearl gets a spear and has a collection of swords in her room.
    • Amethyst uses a whip
    • The titular character Steven has a shield that he inherited from his mother. His mother also used a sword that is not projected out of a gem, but is instead summoned out of Lion.
    • Lapis Lazuli does not have a weapon. Instead, she has the power to control water
    • Jasper summons a Cool Helmet from the gem that is her nose.
    • It's also worth noting that when two gems fuse their weapons combine into a new one too:
      • Opal turns Pearl's spear and Amethyst's whip into the limbs and string of an Energy Bow
      • Sugilite combines Garnet's gauntlets into a giant meteor hammer with Amethyst's whip as the chain
  • Well-Intentioned Replacement: In the comic story from the Adventure Time 2013 Spooktacular. The Gems make a comic book for Steven after destroying Steven's pile of GuyMan (and GuyWoman) variants that a devious shape shifter turned itself into. Steven loves it.