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 had a (noncanon) Cross Over episode with 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.

The show has an official Character Blog, Keep Beach City Weird, written from the perspective of the supporting character Ronaldo. It has a new update most of the time when a new episode airs.

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

Warning: Unmarked spoilers ahead (not all spoilers are unmarked, just some of them). Proceed at your own risk!

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These are the Crystal Tropes:

    A - D 
  • Absentee Actor:
    • Garnet and Amethyst do not appear in "Frybo". They both appear in "Lion 3: Straight to Video" but have no dialogue.
    • Pearl and Garnet are absent in "Joking Victim".
    • Amethyst and Pearl are not in "Garnet's Universe", although their voices are in the characters of Hoppy and Hopper. They are also absent in "Love Letters".
    • Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl aren't in "Horror Club" and "Open Book".
  • Acrofatic: Steve knows how to hoof it when he needs to. His dexterity doesn't suffer much either. He even lampshades this after reassembling his Together Breakfast after it flies through the air by catching each piece one by one back on the plate.
    Steven: SKILLS!
  • Action Girl: Every single Gem, although technically they're not really girls, but agendere female-presenting beings.
    • Sadie. She's the first human to take down a Gem monster, and she does it alone and armed with nothing but a wooden spear.
    • Connie, who trains with a sword to become a knight.
  • Adorkable: About 90% of the characters.
  • Adults Are Useless: In "Island Adventure", after getting trapped on the island, Steven is sure that the Gems will come to find him. A week later there's no evidence the Gems even know he's missing.
  • 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.
    • In "Sworn to the Sword", Steven is legitimately afraid that Connie's going to get herself killed to protect him, and that Pearl's instilling an unhealthy mindset.
  • 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: Steven receives one from Garnet in the first opening. In the second opening, Amethyst and Pearl join in.
  • 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.
    • There is now going to be an actual manual released in October 2015, written by the show's creator from Steven's perspective.
  • 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 North America in "Jail Break" shows that 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.
    • Judging from some comments in "Love Letters", the American entertainment industry in this world isn't based in California, it's based in Kansas.
  • 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.
    • Given the Alternate Universe nature of the series and the length of time gems have been on Earth, it's possible that the Gems influenced the language spoken by humans.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Crystal Gems. Even Pearl, the lankiest of them, can kick a boulder apart with ease.
  • Amusing Injuries: Sometimes. For example, after her Gem is cracked, Amethyst's body starts doing a ton of crazy things. However, more often than not, injuries will be treated seriously. This is understandable, as if a Gem is injured, they'll retreat into their gem to regenerate.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Steven's shield is inherited from his mother, as well as his gem powers.
  • An Aesop: Not always present, since this show is more directed at the actual plot, but they can be found in a few. For example, "Love Letters" teaches that sometimes, it's probably better to be straightforward rather than give the wrong idea.
    • A few episodes get some humour out of immediately subverting it. The ultimate example being Steven the Sword Fighter where he hasn't even finished delivering the moral when he reverses it.
    Steven: You know, I might miss Pearl a whole lot, but you know, sometimes you just have to accept things for how they are before you- (Pearl regenerates) Never mind! Pearl's back!
  • Anime Hair: There's Pearl's pixie cut, Garnet's cubic afro, Rose Quartz's Regal Ringlets, and Peridot's triangular 'do.
  • 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.
    • When Lapis fuses with Jasper to form Malachite, Lapis drags the two of them to the bottom of the ocean using her power over water. Fusions normally split apart in the case of any disagreement, which Jasper tries, but Lapis holds her into the fusion so now Jasper is trapped inside her own body and hauled into a place where Lapis has complete control of the situation.
    • In "Keeping It Together", Garnet discovers shards of Crystal Gems defeated in the war were buried together and forced to fuse. The result was conscious enough to form human silhouettes and scream in agony before turning into a horrible monster, which was seemingly conscious enough to recognize Garnet and silently reach out for help.
  • 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, Steven Universe is an American Shoujo series.
  • Another Dimension: The Gems' temple door is described as "omni-dimensional", so it could be assumed that this is their case.
  • 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.
    • There's also a symbol of three triangles within a larger triangle. It can be seen on the floors of Peridot's ship and on the floor of the temple in "Serious Steven."
    • In "Sworn to The Sword" a version with a fourth, pink diamond shape appears. Notably, the pink shape is broken on two of three versions we see, and in nearly the same way, as if it was deliberately defaced.
  • 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.
    • "Let me do this for you!", and variations thereof. Multiple characters have expressed a willingness to sacrifice themselves for someone else's sake, even if the person in question doesn't want them to; first in "Sworn to the Sword", with Pearl insisting on putting herself in danger instead of Rose, then with Connie, willing to lay down her life for Steven, echoing Pearl's sentiment. The phrase shows up again in "Chille Tid", this time from Lapis Lazuli, telling Steven not to come looking for her while she struggles to keep Jasper at bay. Minor character Sadie has a variation of "Why won't you let me help you?!"
  • Art Evolution: Very slightly. While the animation and backgrounds in the show were usually pretty impressive to begin with, the designs became less prone to being Off Model and more attention was given to the backgrounds bit by bit.
  • The Artifact: The opening sequence showed the Gems with their debut outfits, despite gaining new ones since. Once all three Gems received a redesign, the opening was brought up to date.
  • 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.
  • Art Major Physics: Peridot's ship in "Jailbreak". In reality, it should have caught fire sometime in the atmosphere, and the impact of the ship on the Earth would wipe out Beach City at least.
  • Asleep for Days: When Gems regenerate, they ought to take careful time to consider what form they'll take when they return. For Amethyst, when she isn't rushing it, the longest time has been four hours. The regeneration of Pearl's we've seen took weeks.
  • 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.
  • Badass Boast
    • Pearl gives Sugilite a verbal beatdown at the end of "Coach Steven" after spending a good portion of the episode saddened that she wasn't as strong as the latter.
    • "I'm Lapis Lazuli! And you can't keep me here anymore!"
    • Jasper does this quite a bit. She's disappointed not to see Rose because she wanted to beat her into the ground.
    • "Stronger Than You" is an entire song of this:
    Garnet: If you break us apart, we'll just come back newer
    And we'll always be twice the Gem that you are
  • Back Story Horror: The Gems are very reluctant to talk about it to Steven, but whatever the Homeworld Gems did in the past, it terrifies all of them, including Garnet.
  • Badass Family: The Gems act as one toward Steven, with Amethyst like his sister and Pearl and Garnet as his aunts.
  • Bad Bad Acting: Garnet:
    Garnet: Yes, the children are playing swords. Sorry, playing with swords. They're bleeding. Oh no, they are dead.
  • Battle Couple: As of "Sworn to the Sword", Steven and Connie look to be well on the way to becoming this. Between their obvious feelings for one another, and their meshing almost immediately in combat against Pearl's training holograms, they have the potential to be formidable combatants on par with the other Crystal Gems if both their budding romance and training proceed apace.
  • Beach Episode: "Beach Party"
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: The Crystal Gems are all good guys, and they've been stated once or twice to be considered attractive—or "hot", at least—especially the gorgeous Big Good Rose Quartz. Peaceful fusions like Opal, Rainbow Quartz, and Stevonnie are beautiful, while the hot-headed Sugilite and the destructive Malachite are pretty monstrous. Lapis Lazuli is also fairly pretty and doesn't quite fall into villain territory. Jasper, on the other hand, has a Slasher Smile and more masculine features, and she and Peridot are the only straightforward villains we've seen so far.
  • Beneath the Mask: One of the main themes of the show is showing the Gems' true colors bit by bit. Amethyst acts laid-back and lazy, but is actually very upset at how Garnet and Pearl demean her. Pearl acts like a perfectionist, but has underlying self-esteem issues regarding physical strength and is still suffering from Rose's death. Garnet is a Stoic more often than not, but is actually emotional within herself.
  • Berserk Button: For all the Crystal Gems, hurting Steven.
    • Steven: Insulting his mother.
    • Garnet: Being hit, surprisingly.
    • Pearl: Untidiness.
    • Amethyst: Rubbing her origins in her face.
  • Betty and Veronica: Played with. While Rose is unambiguously Archie, Pearl is the unlucky longlife friend who considered herself the closest to her, but with a nasty attitude towards her rivals, while Greg was the exotic one thanks to being human, but he took Pearl's remarks with patience and actually was unsure if he was good enough for Rose.
  • Big Bad: The Homeworld Gems along with their presumed leader Yellow Diamond.
  • Big Eater Steven and Amethyst. More often than not they will scarf down any and all available food.
  • 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. Steven also does this when Lapis fuses with Jasper.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Amethyst to Steven.
  • 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.
  • Body Horror: If a Gem has their gemstone cracked, their body starts to uncontrollably lose, gain, or rearrange body parts. Some of the fusions also have some strange bodily features, such as extra eyes or limbs, but what really gets into Body Horror is Alexandrite's second mouth. The entire rest of her face swings upwards like a mask to reveal a gaping throat filled with fangs.
    • When Steven shapeshifts his fingers into cats, he loses control of the power and all his limbs turn into cat heads. He eventually has cat heads boiling out of every part of his body in a manner that wouldn't be out of place in a horror movie.
    • The Cluster and Peridot's other "experiments"—pieces of Gems killed in the war between the Homeworld and Crystal Gems, buried together to force them to fuse. The fusions emerge as random combinations of body parts, most of which simply silently twitch and strike out blindly—but the Cluster not only senses its environment, but emits tortured wails in what are likely the united voices of the Gems they once were. The Cluster horrifies and disgusts Garnet to the point of nearly splitting back into Ruby and Sapphire, and even after getting a grip, Garnet is still unsettled enough to audibly argue with herself in Ruby's and Sapphire's tones of voice.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: "If every pork chop were perfect, we wouldn't have hot dogs!" is ostensibly Greg's line, but it's been used more times by other people, including Steven and Pearl.
  • Broken Bird: Rose has been gone for eleven years, and Pearl still isn't taking it well. "Sworn to the Sword" hints at outright Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from her loss.
  • 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.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Steven to the Crystal Gems. It comes from a mix of one of them being The Stoic and another being Literal-Minded.
  • 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.)
  • Celebrity Paradox: Rebecca Sugar has stated that Garnet's favorite music artist is Estelle, whom she is voiced by.
  • 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.
    • Putting in all your effort in everything you do and making contributions for people, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant it is.
  • Cerebus Retcon:
    • The Reveal in "Ocean Gem" 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 first mentions it in-universe when he takes a picture of Steven's cat fingers, and brings it up multiple times after that.
  • 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.
    • Lapis Lazuli starts out disliking the earth and hating the Crystal Gems. After meeting Steven, she is willing to make a Heroic Sacrifice to protect the earth just to keep him safe.
  • Character Title: The show is named after the eponymous Steven.
  • 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.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Pearl during Rose and Greg's relationship, to the point where she fuses with Rose in the middle of Greg's music video to make him jealous. To be fair, she's known Rose for thousands of years, and if the characters' statements are anything to go by, this has happened before. Pearl refers to Greg as "a phase."
  • 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.
    • The first season follows the progression of an entire year, with the halfway "Mirror Gem/Ocean Gem" two-parter mentioning the beginning of summer vacation, "Horror Club" apparently being a Halloween episode, the following "Winter Forecast" showing the beginning of winter and "Maximum Capacity" being set in New Year's Eve.
  • 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. he helps Steven with summoning he shield.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: In the middle of the first season, the episode Keep Beach City Weird ends with Ronaldo going on a tangent about "polymorphic sentient rocks coming to hollow out the Earth part of the Great Diamond Authority". By the end of the season, it was revealed that he was 100% correct.
  • A Day in the Limelight: While there are plenty of Steven-centric and Crystal Gems-centric episodes, some focus on a specific Crystal Gem or a citizen of Beach City.
  • 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.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: After trying to run away with Connie in "Fusion Cuisine", Steven is punished with 1,000 years of no T.V. Only disproportionate from a human point of view. The Gems are all but immortal so a thousand years is barely the blink of an eye to them. This is a far kinder punishment than the initial "No dinner for 1,000 years."
  • The Dog Bites Back: After being imprisoned by Jasper for an unknown period of time, Lapis takes full control of their fusion and drags them into the ocean.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The opening credits are sung by the Crystal Gems, plus Steven.
  • Downer Ending: "The Return" continues into "Jailbreak", but the former ends with Garnet being forced into her gems for regeneration, thus leaving the others weak and open for attack, and Steven unconscious due to Jasper.
  • Drama Bomb
    • "Steven the Sword Fighter" seems like it'll be the usual 'Steven must learn something' episode...until Pearl is suddenly stabbed onscreen and is forced to regenerate in her gem. The hologram she left behind tries to kill Steven repeatedly.
    • "Monster Buddies" takes a sad turn once the Centipeetle goes berserk, forcing the Gems to attack it.
    • "Mirror Gem" gets dark the second that Steven slaps Garnet. And it's all downhill from there.
    • "Warp Tour" introduces yet another Gem. This time, however, she's not setting to leave Earth. She's setting to do something terrible to it.
    • "On The Run" when Steven and Amethyst enter the Kindergarten.
    • "Rose's Scabbard". The group finds the titular scabbard for Rose Quartz's sword, and Pearl learns that she wasn't Rose's sole confidante. The episode slowly more dramatic as Pearl worries more and more, but it reaches its peak when she suddenly smashes the wall with her fist.
    • "So Many Birthdays" . This episode plays with the consequences of warping time, until it gets to a point where Steven gets to a deathly age and can't warp back.
    • "The Message". Homeworld Gems are headed straight for Earth, as revealed by an ending message from Lapis Lazuli.
    • Pearl's Wrong Name Outburst in "Sworn to the Sword."
  • Dramedy
  • Dual Wielding: Garnet on a regular basis with her gauntlets. Amethyst and Pearl usually only sport one whip and one spear respectively, but they can do this if they please.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Amethyst pointing out to Pearl, usually the more knowledgeable of the two, that light-years measure light, not years.

    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.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Other than the extremely different designs, there are a good many differences between the actual series in the pilot. Steven was a bit rougher around the edges (going back in time to insult Lars), Pearl joined in on Amethyst's ribbing of Steven, and the entire episode felt more like Regular Show.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Evil Counterpart: Jasper to Rose. Rose was enormous, beautiful, loved everything and everyone, and fought for Earth. Jasper is enormous, garish, tries to kill the Crystal Gems in their first meeting, and wants to destroy Earth.
  • Evolving Credits: Following "Reformed", the series gets a new opening that has the new outfits of the Crystal Gems, the Warp Pad they start at being in space, all three Gems giving Steven an Affectionate Gesture to the Head and not just Garnet, more Beach City residents outside and the Big Donut, like Jamie sitting across the street from it, Connie with Rose Quartz's sword and a book following the van to the beach party, Greg leaning against Lion and playing on an electric guitar, and the three Gems coming up behind Steven as the title appears. See here for a side by side comparison.
  • 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.
  • 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 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. Cookie Cat shows up again in "Future Vision", appearing to Steven's imaginary self. Chibi-Steven gets zapped, and declares "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 that she plans to reactivate an area called "Kindergarten". "On The Run" reveals what it is, and "Marble Madness" sees her trying to gain access. Later in "Jail Break", she complains to Jasper about overriding her mission, stating that her whole reason for coming to Earth was "to check on the clusters". "Keeping it Together" sheds some light on her true objective.
    • 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.
    • Pearl remarks in "An Indirect Kiss" that the brambles are a mess without Rose's guidance, describing them as "directionless, pathetic, clinging things", while she is clinging to Garnet's arm. Later in the series when we learn more about Pearl and Rose's relationship, these seemingly off-hand comments have a darker subtext.
    • 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 bigger and 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.
  • Free-Range Children: Steven frequently runs around Beach City without any adult supervision and often, without letting any of the Gems or his father know where he's headed. Both his dad and the Gems knows this is frequent behavior for him, and his dad often doesn't find a problem with it.
  • 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.
    • In "Steven The Sword Fighter", when Pearl re-forms her physical form, her body fluctuates slightly before settling on her new costume. During the fluctuation, if one looks closely, her form seems to take on several different silhouettes very quickly, including her clothing in "Story for Steven" and her design in the pilot.
    • See Foreshadowing about "Fusion Cuisine".
    • In "Serious Steven" the Gems discover a pyramid with hieroglyphs on the walls inside depicting Rose Quartz protecting tiny humans from the attack of another Gem (who is shown again surrounded by giant hands like the space ship that appears in later episodes), but this is only on screen for a few seconds.
      • Also in "Serious Steven" (also a Rewatch Bonus): The four-triangle symbol on the floor of the pyramid is the same as the one in Peridot's ship.
  • Fusion Dance: Multiple Gems are capable of fusing into a larger and stronger one through dance.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The Gemstone Amalgamations beneath the the Kindergarten. The Homeworld wanted to find a way to use Gem fusion just to get more power, but rather missed the point of it.
  • 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.
  • Hair Flip: Amethyst flips her Rapunzel Hair in the original opening song.
  • Hard Light: Gem bodies are this; they can regenerate or transform easily as long as their gem is okay.
  • 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!
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the wars, Pearl would constantly do this for Rose. Unfortunately, due to being much smaller and weaker than the opposing Gems, she'd be consistently defeated.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Despite his cheerful personality, Steven is worried that the Gems will reject him if he doesn't obtain his powers, along with that he also thinks that they blame him for his mother Rose being gone.
    • Amethyst seems like the cool, laid-back slacker of the group, but episodes that focus on her reveal that she is insecure and quick to get angry, to the point where she thinks everyone is out to get her.
    • Pearl acts like a perfectionist and acts self-confident at times, but inside, she's very insecure about her physical strength.
  • High School A.U.:
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Downplayed example. In Jailbreak, Peridot calls Amethyst and Pearl 'clods'. While calling someone a clod is a mundane insult, the literal definition of the word is 'a worthless chunk of dirt', which gives it extra meaning in the context of one Gem insulting another, given that they are sentient minerals.
  • 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 behaviors, 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.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: This gem (no pun intended here) from "Together Breakfast".
    Steven: (about the breakfast) It's not exactly healthy, but it's in a stack...so I guess you can say it's a...balanced breakfast.
    Garnet: (Disapproving face)
  • Interspecies Romance: Greg and Rose Quartz. As Rose begins making more appearances, the relationship is deconstructed thoroughly. Gems are, after all, gemstones with "bodies" made of hard light, have very different views on love and relationships, and live on a geologic time scale, which naturally makes them view humans as something lesser, whether they mean well or not. Can beings with so little in common truly fall in love? What would prevent the human from seeing the alien as a god, or the alien seeing the human as a plaything? These factors are all huge strains on their relationship, and are all examined in "We Need To Talk".
  • 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.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: "Story for Steven" reveals that Greg was pretty attractive in his twenties.
  • Lady and Knight: This is exactly how Pearl describes the relationship between herself and Rose. She then trains Connie to follow in her footsteps towards Steven.
  • Lady of War: Pearl's signature style, as well as her fusion with Amethyst, Opal.
    • From the brief flashbacks we've seen, Rose Quartz also embodied this trope.
  • Leitmotif: Most major characters have their own. Steven has an instrumental version of the theme song. Pearl has a calm and elegant piano theme, Amethyst has a hip-hop beat, and Garnet has a distinctive bass synth. Greg has a simple, laid-back theme, while Rose has a soft piano piece. Lion has a simple, childlike glockenspiel theme. Lapis Lazuli's theme has two segments: a melancholy rolling theme with a water motif, and an aggressive theme that sounds like the crashing of waves.
  • Large Ham: Jasper. "You...have FAILED!"
  • Like Father, Like Son: If not for Greg's anxiety when it comes to Gem matters, he and Steven would basically be differently-aged copies of one another.
  • Licensed Game: Attack the Light.
  • Lighthouse Point: There's a lighthouse on the cliff above the Crystal Temple. It seems to be abandoned, as Ronaldo is able to use it as a base for organizing his conspiracy theories and watching movies.
  • 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. And though Steven is extremely attached to his pink star shirt and has multiple versions, he does wear a number of different outfits throughout the episodes, including hoodies, jackets, and tank tops. Many of them have a star in the same place and are the same shade of pink, so at a glance he seems to be wearing the same outfit. A lot of the background characters also have several different outfits they change between.
  • The Load: Steven started off like this to the Gems. He really did try to help, but he'd get everyone into trouble more often than not. Nowadays he's far more capable of handling himself.
  • Love at First Sight: Utilized on occasion, but the show hardly plays it straight:
    • Jamie says he has this with Garnet, but she rebuffs him, saying that love at first sight doesn't exist and that love takes time and work.
    • Rose Quartz and Greg, though it was more like attraction at first sight, considering the example above. The episode "We Need To Talk" goes further by slightly deconstructing Rose and Greg's initial attraction towards each other, with both of them realizing (and overcoming) the fact that they're very different from one another, enough for them to worry about their future together.
  • Love Triangle: Pearl vs. Greg for Rose; though she didn't mind showing affection towards both, the existence of Steven indicates that Greg "won" in the end.
  • Luminescent Blush: As with the Animesque feel of the show. Pearl is especially prone to it, but for her it's blue in color.
  • Magitek: A lot of the magic in the show seems like a form of technology. For example, Pearl's hologram is voice-activated and 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.
  • Male Gaze: There are several moments in the show where the camera pulls this on Pearl's backside, which is drawn a lot more shapelier than usual in those particular shots. Examples include the final act of "Laser Light Cannon" and, more blatantly, Amethyst's taunting in "Cat Fingers", where she morphs into Pearl, sticks out her rear and begins slapping it while going "Womp! Womp!".
  • Mama Bear: The Crystal Gems to Steven. Harming him is their shared Berserk Button.
  • Manly Tears: Greg falls victim to this a lot. You can't really blame the guy—he's already lost his wife and his only son risks his life on a daily basis.
  • 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.
  • Missing Mom: Besides Steven, about half of the cast's mothers aren't seen.
  • 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.
  • 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 Diegetic. 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. Ruby finds Sapphire by her siren-like vocalizing, which has the tune of "Stronger Than You", so it might be internal.
  • 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 
  • Never Say "Die": Characters do say "killed" and other synonyms for death, but when it comes to Rose Quartz, they say that she "gave up her physical form." This was actually because Rose didn't exactly die, but she became half of Steven.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Do not let the goofy episode teasers fool you. There are some seriously dark undertones to this show and a fair share of heart wrenching moments.
  • 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.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Gems often nonchalantly reveal an ability they haven't shown before without much comment- which makes sense, as different situations call for different skills- the first time we see a particular power in action, such as Amethyst's Rolling Attack, is simply the first time they were in a situation where they needed it. Some were even alluded to before they were seen (Opal's bow fires arrows made of light, with the same color as Pearl's ranged lasers)
  • 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.
  • Oddly Small Organization: The Big Donut's only known employees are Sadie and Lars, who work there every day, all day, and more or less run the entire place by themselves. A manager or owner has yet to be seen.
  • Oh, Crap: Happens very often to the characters.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Pac Man Fever: The show's creators are clearly video game fans, but this trope is still applied most likely for practical reasons.
    • Nearly every video game seen in the show has simplified graphics (probably most akin to the SNES or 90's arcade machines) but have gameplay mechanics that make sense, are portrayed believably and are reflective of real gaming trends.
    • Which makes things slightly strange since Steven has a Nintendo 64 and a GameCube in his room, along with game boxes which are clearly Animal Crossing and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
  • 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.
  • Psychoactive Powers: Gem abilities and their use seem to be keyed to the user's emotions. Steven loses control of his shapeshifting when he starts to get upset and has difficulty summoning his shield because each of the Gems gives him a different explanation for how to do so: Pearl suggests mental focus and rigorous discipline, Amethyst advocates 'just feeling it' and Garnet talks about tapping into the harmony of the universe. Steven's method, while not verbally espoused, seems to stem from compassion and a desire to protect.
  • 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.
    • Garnet is the embodiment of The Power of Love, since Ruby and Sapphire love each other so much they can't stand to be separated. Garnet even sings a song about how she's made up of love and that makes her stronger than her opponent.
  • Rule of Funny: Per Word Of God, the reason the people of Beach City take the magical goings-on around them in stride.
  • 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. Connie is shown falling flat on her face as well on "Sworn To The Sword" due to Steven being already used to teleport.
    • 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.
    Greg: 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.
  • Sealed Evil in a Duel: Jasper and Lapis, within Malachite's body. Lapis is able to trap Jasper in the fusion using the weight of the ocean and her own willpower, but she must actively restrain Jasper at every moment or Jasper will escape, or worse, Malachite will.
  • Secret Test of Character: In "The Test", it's revealed that the mission to the Sea Spire was one of these for Steven. He's much better now, but at the time, he didn't do very well at all.
  • Serial Escalation
    • Frybo in his titular episode. He has a permanent smile on his face, and when Pearl jabs him in the eye with her spear, ketchup pours from the wound like blood. He doesn't even speak. Uncanny Valley for sure.
    • For some, Malachite in "Jail Break". She has Jasper's Slasher Smile, four huge eyes, a raspy Evil Laugh, and tries to smash the heroes with a giant hand made out of water.
  • Shipper on Deck: All the Crystal Gems seem to ship Steven and Connie.
  • Ship Sinking
    • What seems to be the case for Sadie/Lars, at the moment, at least. It seems to have come from a mix of Lars' attitude and Sadie's actions in "Island Adventure." This was even made fun of in "Say Uncle", where Lars and Sadie are on a sinking boat.
    Lars: Our ship!
    • Any Garnet ships (sans Sapphire and Ruby, obviously) are now completely sunk, as Garnet isn't interested in any relationships.
    Garnet: Three's a crowd.
  • Ship Tease
    • Connie and Steven as a Toy Ship.
    • Rose x Pearl has been implied since "Rose's Scabbard."
    • In "Warp Tour", Pearl and Amethyst seem to be downright flirting with each other.
    • Sadie and Lars.
  • Shouldn't We Be in School Right Now?: Steven has never had a formal education, being home schooled by the Gems. Up until Connie told him about it he had never even heard the word "school".
  • Shout-Out: A whole page's worth.
  • Show Within a Show:
    • L'il Butler, a parody of series' like The Nanny that seemingly ended decades ago. Greg has an entire collection of VHS tapes.
    • Crying Breakfast Friends!, a cartoon about crying breakfast foods that Steven loves but leaves Greg utterly baffled. "Reformed" essentially indicates Crying Breakfast Friends! is the Steven Universe equivalent of itself, even having counterparts for each cast member.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!
    • Near the end of "Lars and the Cool Kids", Lars snaps from pressure and unreasonably blames the situation on Steven's "weird mom". Steven...doesn't react well.
    Steven: What do you know about my mom? I didn't even get to know my mom! But I do know, she saw beauty in everything....even in jerks like you!
    • In "Jail Break", "Stronger Than You" is pretty much a Shut Up, Hannibal! song. While beating up Hannibal to boot.
  • Similar Squad: The Cool Kids to the Crystal Gems. There's Sour Cream's calm and organized demeanor as Pearl, Jenny Pizza's playful personality as Amethyst, and Buck Dewey's somewhat The Quiet One personality to Garnet. Bonus points for there being physical similarities as well. This is lampshaded at the end of "Joy Ride", with a picture showing each Gem standing by their corresponding Cool Kid.
  • Sleep Cute: Steven. Pearl often watches him sleep.
  • Slow Motion Fall: Garnet at the end of "The Return".
  • Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom: One of the rooms in "Serious Steven."
  • 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 Crystal Gems have are useless against their technology.
  • Special Edition Title: "Jail Break" has the title card on a starry background rather than a beach.
  • Special Person, Normal Name: Steven.
  • Spoiler Title: "Jail Break" gives away that at least one (or all) of the Gems ends up captured after "The Return".
  • Squee: Garnet's reaction to Steven and Connie fusing.
  • Stress Vomit: Steven mentions almost succumbing to this in "Serious Steven."
  • Surprise Creepy
    • The show is usually a lighthearted comedy, which makes the occasional foray into terrifying Body Horror all the more effective.
    • Steven's dream in "Chille Tid" starts off as a 50's sitcom parody...until he opens the door to reveal Lapis Lazuli, with water pouring from her eyes and mouth.
  • 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.
  • Talking to Themself: Garnet at the end of "Keeping it Together". Upon seeing gem shards fused together, she has split feelings on the issue to the point where she nearly split apart.
  • 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.
  • Tempting Fate: "I may get eaten by a giant bird!" *chomp*
  • 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
  • Theme Tune Roll Call: Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl, AND STEVEN!
  • There Are No Therapists: Steven really needs one after the Season One finale.
    • Both Amethyst and Pearl have some extreme self-esteem issues, along with attachment issues in Pearl's case, which have been allowed to go on for literal millenia.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Breakfast: Though to be fair, its predecessor did try to kill them.
  • 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's like 15 people, tops.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: A downplayed example with Rose and Greg. Greg is taller than average but Rose is HUGE. It may have actually been part of the reason for the attraction, as hinted in "Story for Steven".
    Greg: I-I just can't stop thinking about that woman at the show.
    Marty: Oh, here we go. How big was she?
  • Title Drop: Occurs in "Story for Steven" and "Chille Tid".
  • 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.
  • Tomboy: Amethyst.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Amethyst and Pearl, respectively.
  • Trailers Always Lie: Most previews focus on the show's more happy-go-lucky, comedy elements, leaving its Myth Arc to the viewer's discretion.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: When Cartoon Network aired sent-in reactions from fans, some were reactions to Ruby and Sapphire fusing into Garnet.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Played with in the case of Greg and Rose. Rose is beautiful and majestic every time we see her, with a lot more attention than usual given to her graceful movements and huge shiny hair, and Greg is a schlubby middle-aged guy with a farmer's tan and receding hairline. But flashbacks show us that when he was young Greg was pretty good looking and cool, the somewhat well-known rock singer Mister Universe, with an awesome mane of hair that apparently inspired young!Amethyst to grow out hers.
  • 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.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Peridot and Jasper. Neither of them have any qualms about harming children, and their mission is to reactivate the Kindergarten, which will end life on Earth.
    • Lapis, during her stint as a villain, came down pretty dang hard, too, given she tried to drown Steven and Connie, and threw Greg's van with him in it, breaking his leg. She may be more sympathetic than the other two being a badly wounded Gem that really just wanted to go home but her methods were brutal. For added punch, she was introduced long before the other two, as the first humanoid Gem antagonist.
    • Peridot and, by extension, the Homeworld Gems have picked up some extra evil points as of Keeping it Together. The episode reveals that they have been conducting experiments in the Kindergarten involving forcibly fusing the remains of shattered Crystal Gems. To put the gravity of this into perspective, this is basically a Frankenstein scenario where all the parts can probably still remember that they used to be people, and with the way Garnet reacts combined with the sexual implications behind fusion in general, it's like they're in a permanent state of rape. Holy mother of God...
  • Violence Really Is the Answer: Deconstructed in "So Many Birthdays". Garnet tries to shake Steven back to normal, and mournfully admits to incorrectly believing this trope. However, Pearl and Amethyst shouting at Garnet is what causes Steven to regain his personality.
  • Vocal Evolution: Steven's voice deepens as the show continues.
  • Voice of the Legion: When a fusion begins to break apart, or its components are unwilling to work together, the fusion's voice will change from one person's to the other's.
  • 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.
  • Weapon of Choice: The gems all have a different magical weapon that they summon through their gems.
    • Garnet has a pair of gauntlets that are projected 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. Her official summoned weapon appears to be her fluid wings.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Mirror Gem"/"Ocean Gem" two-parter. Steven releases a new Gem named Lapis Lazuli (directly contradicting the Crystal Gems' wishes), it's revealed that Gems fought each other all the time, the various monsters fought over the course of the series are confirmed to be Gems that have become "corrupt", and Steven appears to have more control summoning his shield.
    • "Warp Tour." Another Gem named Peridot makes an appearance after her robots land from outer space and fix the Warp Pad that leads to the Gem Homeworld. Whatever this means, Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl are extremely distressed about the possibility of Homeworld Gems returning to Earth. It ends with Garnet smashing the Warp Pad, and raises even more questions about the Crystal Gems and why they seem to be in such a conflict with the others.
    • "On the Run." Pearl reveals that the trio (and Rose) were a group who defected from the rest of the Gem homeworld due to opposing a plan that would have damaged the Earth greatly, which involved a place called "Kindergarten." Later on in the episode, Amethyst reveals to Steven that she was actually created on Earth and was one of the many products of "Kindergarten."
    • "The Return"/"Jailbreak" two-parter. Peridot arrives on Earth in a giant handship from the Gem Homeworld. Steven and the Gems then face off against a new gem called Jasper that fought with Rose Quartz's army in the war for Earth thousands of years ago. Also, it's revealed that Garnet is a fusion between two long awaited gems: Ruby and Sapphire. Finally, at the end of the episode, Jasper fuses with Lapis Lazuli into the malevolent Malachite, but in a huge twist to Jasper, Lapis Lazuli takes over and sends Jasper and her to the ocean (possibly) forever. Peridot also managed to escape and is somewhere on Earth.
    • "Keeping it Together", which has the Crystal Gems revisit the Kindergarten and learn that the Homeworld Gems are interested in fusion, and have been forcibly fusing the Gem shards of fallen Crystal Gems' together!''
  • Wham Line
    • "Ocean Gem": "All those monsters we fight used to be just like us!"
    • "Sworn to the Sword": "Why won't you just let me do this for you, Rose?"
    • "Chille Tid": No! I'm not Lapis. We're Malachite now.
  • Wham Shot
    • "Mirror Gem": Steven freeing Lapis from the mirror.
    • "Jail Break": Ruby and Sapphire re-fusing into Garnet.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: What happens to Sugilite in "Coach Steven". The trope is lampshaded by Pearl.
    Pearl: Can't you see that a power that big/Comes with a bigger expense?
  • Worthy Opponent: Rose Quartz was this to her enemies, apparently.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Garnet to Jasper in "Stronger Than You":
    Garnet: But I think you're just mad 'cause you're single.
  • Your Other Left: Parodied in the episode "Rose's Scabbard". During a serious conversation between Steven and Pearl, we can hear Garnet and Amethyst in the background trying to maneuver an enormous battle axe through a doorway, and apparently no one ever taught Amethyst her directions.
    Amethyst: Turn it clockwise! No, your other clockwise! ... Yeah, lift it backwards. ... Not up, backwards!
    Garnet: You mean pull?