Western Animation: Steven Universe

"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 adventures 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 finding a way to save the day!

A comic book series began in August of 2014. With a short teaser story released in the Adventure Time 2013 Spooktacular.

Steven Universe had a (noncanon) Crossover 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 supporting character Ronaldo. It has a new update most of the time when an event in a new episode catches Ronaldo's attention.

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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  • Absentee Actor: The Gems play a role in most episodes, but not all of them:
    • Amethyst has a last-second non-speaking appearance in "Keystone Motel", but is otherwise absent.
    • Garnet and Amethyst do not appear in "Frybo" nor "Historical Friction", and have a brief silent cameo in "Lion 3: Straight to Video".
    • Pearl and Garnet are absent in "Joking Victim" and "Onion Friend".
    • Amethyst and Pearl are absent in "Garnet's Universe" and "Love Letters". In the former case, while the characters aren't present in the episode, their voices are (as Hoppy and Hopper).
    • None of the Gems appear in "Horror Club", "Open Book", "Nightmare Hospital", nor "Sadie's Song".
  • Accidental Pun:
    • Sugilite sounds similar to "suggilate" (to beat until bruised), and she's an aggressive fusion who loves to smash.
    • Sapphire is close to "sapphic" (lesbian) - like her love with Ruby.
    • Malachite is reminiscent of words that start with the mal- prefix, meaning "wrongful", "bad", "ill" or "evil" (such as malicious, malevolent or malfunction.) She's an unstable, deformed fusion formed through hate and revenge.
  • 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 genderless female-looking beings.
    • Sadie. She's the first human to take down a Gem monster, and she does it alone and armed with nothing but a pointy stick.
    • Connie, who takes up the sword and trains with Pearl to become a knight.
  • Adorkable: It'd be easier to list characters that don't have at least a moment like this. In particular, Steven, Connie, Greg, Pearl, and Peridot are the most obvious offenders.
  • 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 (however, that may change as the series goes on), 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.
    • 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 retells 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 are worried they can't raise Steven well without his mother.
      Amethyst: We're bad at this.
      Pearl: What?
      Amethyst: Yeah. You can't control him, and he shouldn't be taking advice from me, and we don't have Rose to tell us what to do!
      Pearl: But he needs us to show him how to be a Gem!
      Garnet: Steven is not just a Gem. There's never been†anything,†or†anyone†like Steven. 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.
    • "Cry For Help" and the ensuing arc explores the fears that somebody you love may deliberately betray your trust on a fundamental level; and by that token, the fear that you could accidentally hurt someone you love so badly that they may never forgive you.
    • "Catch and Release" has Peridot sneak into Steven's room and kidnap him, drag him to the Galaxy Warp, and demand he fix it at blaster-point.
  • Aerith and Bob: The Gems, of course, are named after gemstones and the humans have mostly normal names like Greg, Steven, or Connie. Except Onion's family are all named after food that aren't typically used as names, and Peedee's name is completely fictional.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Garnet's default way of showing physical affection towards Steven (and the most practical way, given their height difference). This is demonstrated in the first opening, much to Steven's apparent annoyance. In the second opening, Amethyst and Pearl join in, and Steven (having matured somewhat) appears more appreciative of the gesture.
  • Aliens Speaking English: The Crystal Gems can get away with this, having been on Earth for thousands of years. Homeworld Gems like Peridot and Jasper, however, still speak English.
  • 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 takes place in a fictional state named Delmarva in the Delaware region, which makes sense given Rebecca Sugar herself based Beach City off of beach towns in that region.
    • There is now going to be an actual manual released in October 2015, "Guide to the Crystal Gems", written by the show's creator from Steven's perspective.
  • Alternate History: The long-term presence of the Gems has slightly altered Earth's history and geography.
    • The Delmarva Peninsula isn't just a geographical location (it's on the east coast, being split between Delaware, Maryland and Virginia), but an actual state called "Delmarva" in this setting.
    • 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 in Amethyst's room of the Gems rescuing Brook Watson from a shark attack.
    • 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—if he meant the state or city is unclear.
    • According to "Keystone Motel", Pennsylvania, the "Keystone State", is literally called Keystone and nicknamed "The Great State".
    • Judging from the play about Beach City's founding in "Historical Friction", the European colonization of the Americas happened in the early 19th century. And judging from comments made by the Crystal Gems' fusion about how dangerous the land was for humans, it's left ambiguous whether it was inhabited at all before then.
    • A map in "Friend Ship" shows that there is a significant gap between North and South America, and two huge islands off the coast of where Brazil should be.
    • World War II never occurred in this version of history, and America lacks many of our holidays aside from birthdays.
    • A worldwide map shown in "When It Rains" shows that although the continents are in the same positions as ours (South America underneath North America, Africa underneath Europe), their shapes are different. South America is a bit bulkier and Africa is missing a large part, indicating the two continents split differently somehow.
    • This map of Beach City released at the 2015 NY Comic Con (though apparently drawn in 2014) confirms the state as being Delmarva, while the map itself displays Beach City as being along their counterpart to Delaware's Rehoboth Bay.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Crystal Gems. Even Pearl, the lankiest of them, can kick a boulder apart with ease.
  • Am I Just a Toy to You?: This was a question Greg felt the need to ask Rose early on in their relationship, as seen in "We Need To Talk". Up until that point, even though they were both very smitten with each other, he'd been getting the impression that she didn't really see him as an equal. As it turns out, due to differences in their respective cultures, species, and planet of origin, she actually didn't. It's strongly implied that their relationship following this conversation is what finally changed her views.
  • Amusing Injuries: Sometimes. Since a Gem's body is just a construct of light for them to interact in the world with, most injuries can be fixed easily with varying amounts of time, allowing them to receive heavy damage that can be played as slapstick. Zigzagged when Amethyst's Gem is cracked as her body starts doing a ton of crazy things. Steven and Amethyst think it's funny and treat it like a sort of game, but Pearl and Garnet treat it as seriously as it really is. However, more often than not, injuries, particularly human ones, will be treated seriously, especially for Steven since he's a child and can't regenerate.
  • An Aesop: Not always present, since this show is more directed at the actual plot, but they can be found in a few.
    • "Love Letters": You shouldn't blindly pursue a relationship with someone you don't know.
      • A related message is that love takes time and work, with Garnet even going so far as to say that Love at First Sight doesn't exist.
    • "Keystone Motel": It's important in a relationship to view issues from the other person's point of view, and to consider how it affects other people.
      • A secondary Aesop is that betrayals of trust, even if they're not severe enough to completely break a friendship, can't be fixed with a simple apology and make take time to get over.
    • "Friend Ship": Chasing after a goal single-mindedly isn't always the best way to go. Also, everyone has doubts on the inside, even if they don't always show it.
    • A recurring motif, appearing in almost every episode featuring fusion is, "consent is really, really important".
    • A few episodes get some humor out of immediately subverting it, the ultimate example being "Steven the Sword Fighter" where Steven hasn't even finished delivering the moral before 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!
    • Identity is a very strong theme in the series, with every one of the Crystal Gems having some form of issue with identity:
      • Steven is both the child of and effectively the reincarnation of Rose Quartz. Since Pearl was in love with Rose, and all of the Crystal Gems idolized her and looked to her for leadership and emotional support, this causes problems for young Steven. It doesn't help that the Gems aren't familiar with human procreation, or even the concept of "children"; on more than one occasion, Pearl has even accidentally referred to Steven by his mother's name, and Jasper can't even grasp that there is a difference. Worse still, due to the unique nature of Gem biology, by any normal Gem standard, she's not wrong.
      • Amethyst, having been the product of a horrific project with the goal of birthing more gems by killing all life on Earth, and which was the entire reason for Rose Quartz's rebellion, has issues with her origins, considering herself to be (and believing others see her as) a "parasite". She also strongly defines herself by what Garnet thinks of her; in "Reformed", this leads to her effectively mutilating herself in an attempt to gain Garnet's approval. Peridot's revelation in "Too Far" that gems of Amethyst's type are supposed to be much larger and more physically powerful—akin to Jasper's body type—and that in the caste system of Homeworld, Amethyst would technically outrank both Pearl and Garnet, doesn't help matters, either.
      • Pearl defined herself in large part by her relationship with Rose; Rose's absence (and Steven and Greg's continued presence) causes her no small amount of conflict. Homeworld gems (and, on occasion, Pearl herself) have referred to her as "just a Pearl" and revealed that Pearls are created explicitly to be beautiful servants and nothing more—meaning that Rose Quartz's decision to treat Pearl as a person and not a slave/object is what has defined Pearl's entire persona.
      • As the result of Ruby and Sapphire's fusion, Garnet is defined by the love between her two component gems. Her song "Stronger Than You" lays it out very clearly: she is made of love. Despite this, on two occasions we have seen her two halves deeply conflicted, both in regards to the act of fusion between unwilling participants. Since she defines herself by being a fusion, these violations trouble her deeply. She also reveals in "Friend Ship" that she's always had doubts about her ability to lead the Crystal Gems in Rose Quartz's place, but sublimates them for the good of the team.
    • The show makes a point of saying that "people screw up sometimes, but that doesn't make them bad people". The talk between Steven and Pearl at the beginning of "Historical Friction" particularly makes it clear.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Steven's shield is inherited from his mother Rose Quartz, as are his protective bubble and healing powers; although arguably, he inherited them from himself. In a subversion, Rose also left him her sword - but that has been taken up by Connie, instead.
  • Anime Hair: There's Pearl's protruding pixie cut, Garnet's angular afro, Rose Quartz's Regal Ringlets, and Peridot's pyramidal 'do. Even Vidalia has her hair shaped exactly like an onion.
  • 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 they're both trapped together in a body they're forced to share.
    • In "Keeping It Together", Garnet discovers shards of Crystal Gems defeated in the war were buried together and forced to fuse. The result was a conjoined mass of limbs that's 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. In a more literal adherence to the trope, the Cluster was able to scream while lacking a mouth.
    • For ages, fans wondered about the nature of the possessed scroll that could be heard screaming in multiple voices from "Together Breakfast". The creators eventually revealed that it was painted using the grounded dust of shattered Gems as pigments, and was essentially their tortured souls lashing out.
  • 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.
    • Garnet and Jasper's fight in "Jailbreak" is animated with many wide shots and dynamic camera angles, giving it a more cinematic feel.
  • Animesque: Like its spiritual counterpart, Adventure Time, Steven Universe takes a lot of aesthetic and thematic hints from anime. Fittingly, whereas Adventure Time shares enough traits to make it an American Shounen series, Steven Universe shares enough traits to make it an American Shoujo series.
  • Another Dimension:
    • The Gems' temple is described as "omni-dimensional", so it could be assumed that this is the case.
    • Lion's mane exists in a Pocket Dimension of its own.
  • April Fools' Day: The Uncle Grandpa crossover aired on April 2 (to fit the show's schedule of new episodes on Thursday, else it likely would've aired the day before). Part of the prank also included one of the staff members considering it a canon episode, although the episode says otherwise.
  • Arc Symbol:
    • 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 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." A version with a fourth, pink diamond shape appears at the sky arena in "Sworn to The Sword" and in the ancient Gem vessel in "Friend Ship". Notably, in the former case the pink shape is broken on some of the versions we see— and in nearly the same way on each, as if it was deliberately defaced. The pink diamond also appears repeatedly in connection with Pearl. The original Holo-Pearls, her space-suit, half of the belly-cut on Rainbow Quartz and the shoes of Sardonyx all had pink diamonds on them. Considering Pearl's self-described role as a knight, this raises interesting questions about what Rose's position on Homeworld was.
  • 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; it first appears 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. In a similar vein earlier in the series, Sadie presses Lars with "why won't you let me help you?!", the issue being that said 'help' involved stranding both of them on a deserted island.
    • "Strong/Stronger". Ultimately, every single one of the Crystal Gems- even Garnet- harbours doubts and fears about their own strength, and a recurring theme of the show is that being "strong in the real way" isn't about the physical body at all, but emotional strength.
    • "We won". In reference to the rebellion, but with some chilling undertones the more often it's used. In "Rose's Scabbard", Pearl uses it to gloss over the horrors Garnet describes, in order to protect Steven from the details. Earlier in "On the Run", Amethyst mentions how they won the war to "protect the Earth from parasites like me."
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • In "Rose's Room", this is what allows Steven to escape the eponymous room:
      Steven: I don't want this...
      Tiny Whale: (with Rose Quartz's voice) What do you want. Steven?
      Steven: I want to be back with the Gems!
    • In "We Need to Talk", Greg becomes worried that Rose can't tell the difference between loving humans and being in love with a human. When she doesn't take his concern seriously (confirming it in the process), he confronts her about it:
      Greg: Can you just talk to me, for one second. Like a real person?
      Rose: ...I'm... not... a real person. I thought... haven't we... is this not how it works?
    • Ruby and Sapphire spend most of "Keystone Motel" in conflict, which Steven tries his hardest to resolve. When he finally gives up, the two realize how much of an effect their argument has had on him:
      Steven: I don't understand! Is it... is it me?
  • 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.
  • Artificial Zombie: The second season introduces fusion monsters formed from the forcefully fused remains of shattered Crystal Gems.
  • Art Shift:
    • "Garnet's Universe" in a pastiche to Shonan anime of the 80s, switches from the show's regular style to a less detailed, much sillier and cartoonish style.
    • The "Classroom Gems" shorts are done in chibi, in homage to the science segments in GunBuster.
  • Artistic License Ė 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. There are some more seaside cliffs on Beach City's outskirts. In real life, the Delmarva Peninsula is as flat as a board, bar some large hills along the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delaware.
  • 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. The only feasible explanation is that either Pearl turned the ship far enough around, or that it had some kind of emergency system that dampened the impact.
  • 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.
    • Subverted in season 2 by Peridot, who regenerated with no problems but missing Artificial Limbs after only about an hour. Whether this has to do with not giving herself a redesign, or perhaps to do with being bubbled, is still something to ponder.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance:
    • Gems are able to change their appearance at will, so they're all completely Justified examples.
    • The Frymans. They're a family of french fry salesmen, and all of them have blonde dreadlocks that look exactly like their wares.
    • Vidalia and her younger son Onion have hairdos shaped like, you guessed it, onions.
  • Audience-Alienating Premise: In-Universe, the show "Crying Breakfast Friends". It's apparently exactly what it sounds like, and so far Steven is the only character to like—or understand—the show.
  • 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 Coolname: The protagonist himself, Steven Quartz Universe.
  • Back Story Horror: The Gems are very reluctant to talk about it to Steven, but the war for Earth against the Homeworld Gems in the past terrifies all of them, including Garnet.
  • 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.
      Sugilite: What? You want some more?
      Pearl: Anytime! You're no match for me, not even close!
    • From the end of "Mirror Gem":
      I'm Lapis Lazuli! And you can't keep me trapped here anymore!
    • Pearl again, who gets the most impressive one in sheer conviction in "Marble Madness", when Peridot asks why they keep meddling in her business:
      Pearl: Because, we are the Crystal Gems! We're still alive, and we're still the guardians of this planet, and all its living creatures!
    • Jasper gets a villainous version in "The Return", also doubles as a Breaking Speech.
      Jasper: I was there. You know. At the first war for this garbage planet. I fought against your armies. I respected your tactics. But this? (lifting Steven by his shirt) This, is sick. I don't get what you're planning, Rose. But look! Your base is taken. Your armies are ruined! You have failed! (headbutts Steven from the camera's perspective, then smash to black)
    • Two cases in "Jail Break":
      • "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
      • And from the end of the episode:
      Lapis Lazuli: I'm done being everyone's prisoner! Now, you're my prisoner, and I'm never, letting you, go!
  • Badass Family: The Gems act as one toward Steven, with Amethyst as an older sister and Pearl and Garnet as his mother figures.
  • Bad Bad Acting: Garnet:
    Garnet: (completely deadpan while on the phone with Connie's mom) Hello, this is Mom Universe. Yes, the children are playing swords. Sorry, playing with swords. They're bleeding. Oh no, they are dead. Don't call again.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Despite the Rule of Cool trumping physics when it comes to scenes in space, there's actually a justification given. The Gems being The Needless, don't have to breathe, and as half-Gem, Steven is shown being able to hold his breath longer and receive a small degree of air in space, though it can only last so long. His other half is organic, after all. Averted when traveling inside Lion's mane, as it takes some experimentation to figure out that he needs to hold his breath before going in.
  • 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 and the Gem mutants, 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:
    • Despite the entire show being set alongside a beach, in a town called Beach City no less, the aptly-named "Beach Party" manages to be an example. It focuses almost exclusively on Steven and the other Crystal Gems barbecuing and playing beach games with the Pizza family... at least, until the giant monster attacks.
    • "Island Adventure" sees Steven, Lars, and Sadie taking a vacation on an island via Warping.
  • 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. 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.
    • Amethyst is messily dressed, and has poor hygiene; she also happens to be the "bad girl" among the Crystal Gems.
    • It also seems that the more stable and kind a fusion is, the better they'll appear. Stevonnie looks like a perfectly normal teenage girl (though the fact that they're 75% human may be a reason for this too). Opal and Rainbow Quartz are beautiful, with one odd feature each (extra arms and eyes, respectively). Garnet is practically perfect with only one extra eye. Sardonyx has extra eyes and arms but is beautiful regardless, while Sugilite has the same features but looks monstrous. Malachite is the most monstrous fusion so far, as she is composed of hate and revenge.
  • 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: the one for her is screwing around with fusion. Because Garnet is a near-perfect fusion between two lovers, she finds fusion to be sacred and beautiful. So, when she finds out that Homeworld has been conducting forced fusion experiments with former Crystal Gems, and that Pearl had tricked Garnet into fusing with her for a Power High, Garnet is seriously furious. In fact, it's serious enough that Ruby and Sapphire defuse when talking to each other about how to deal with Pearl in the future.
    • Pearl: Played for Laughs, untidiness. Played for Drama, casting doubt on her relationship with Rose, as evidenced by her reaction in "Rose's Scabbard" when she discovers a secret that Rose hid even from her.
    • Amethyst: Rubbing her origins in her face.
    • Ruby: As stated in Garnet's entry, screwing around with fusion. It makes her literally fume.
  • 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, 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. Moreso in Amethyst's case, as she's been shown eating things that aren't food, such as plates, motor oil, and tea bags.
  • 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.
    • "Keystone Motel": Ruby and Sapphire make up at the end and refuse into Garnet, and although Garnet doesn't seem angry with Pearl anymore, she still hasn't completely forgiven her.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Magical beings 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.
    • This gets briefly Averted in "Coach Steven", when Pearl's injuries while fighting Sugilite earn her a bloody nose and several nasty-looking scratches.
  • 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, the first major instance being 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, which were 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 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 or so 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.
  • Calling the Old Woman Out:
    • In "Nightmare Hospital", Connie calls her mother out on her Control Freak tendencies (and how, despite the above, she's completely failed to notice what's actually been happening in her daughter's life).
    • At the end of "Sadie's Song", Sadie confronts her mother over her habit of becoming a Stage Mom over anything Sadie shows even the slightest interest in.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Given that one of the Gems is The Stoic and another is Literal-Minded at times, Steven occasionally has trouble getting a joke across.
  • 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...
    • After the events of the episode "Keeping it Together", the shenanigans involving the shattered gem shards in "Secret Team" became a lot harder to find funny.
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: While the show has a few lighthearted episodes, most of them take a 90į 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:
    • Steven, over the course of the show, he not only becomes more self-confident and less naive, he also gains competence and really grows into his role as a Barrier Warrior and The Heart of the Crystal Gems. He also gains the respect and trust of his teammates and joins them as a fully-fledged team member, completely reversing his status as the Tag Along Kid; it's telling that in several first-season episodes, the show follows Steven's more mundane life while the Gems go on missions without him (with Steven often pleading in vain to be allowed to participate); whereas by the second season, when the Gems are seeking out an incredibly dangerous, even murderous enemy, not only is Steven on the mission without comment, his defensive abilities frequently save his teammates lives.
    • Connie learns to become more active participant in events; rather than resigning herself to being an onlooker to Steven's "magical destiny", she fights beside him more and more boldly over time.
    • Garnet gradually becomes less stoic as she becomes more confident in her (relatively new) position as the team's leader, showing more and more emotion toward Steven especially as she begins to treat him as more of a friend than a ward.
    • Amethyst's maturity increases in very small increments, as does her self-awareness; both likely benefit from her very gradually working through her underlying self-loathing.
    • Pearl sees a painful aversion; while the other gems move on from their grief over Rose, she remains unable to let go. And while the other Gems all gain more confidence in their abilities, her insecurities have never abated, leading to her disastrous deception of Garnet in order to feel "stronger". Eventually she realizes that she can't allow herself to break down emotionally anymore, and must work through her own self-loathing.
  • Character Title: The show is named after the eponymous Steven.
  • Chekhov'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 think about using in "Winter Forecast" to remotely destroy the Galaxy Warp once and for all before Steven distracts them and blows up the house. Given it still exists in later episodes, they apparently decided against it.
  • 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 Magitek. 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.
  • Clark Kenting: After Steven inadvertently heals her eyes, Connie pops out the lenses to her glasses to keep her parents from noticing. In "Nightmare Hospital", nearly a year later, they're still oblivious to it.
  • 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. 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 that can be brought up at any time. For example, "Monster Buddies" has the Crystal Gems on a trip to track down a shooting star that's described as a fire elemental of great power. This isn't referenced again until "Winter Forecast", 19 episodes later when Steven sees the Gems using it to blow up the Galaxy Warp in a possible future. It explodes, vaporizing everything on the spot and isn't seen again. As seen in a later episode, the Warp is still standing, suggesting they opted against it. More specific examples can be found in the recap page 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. The passage of time is further cemented in "Nightmare Hospital", when Connie notes that it's been nearly a year since the events of "An Indirect Kiss", which first aired on September 18, 2014; "Nightmare Hospital" aired on September 10, 2015. The next episode "Sadie's Song" establishes it's been a year since the last Beach-a-Palooza, a plot point in "Steven and the Stevens".
  • 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:
    • Throughout the first half of season 1, the theme evolved, adding more instruments each time, through five different variations. By the second half (which was early on considered season 2), the piece got a new melody. Said melody gets a drum solo remix starting with "Watermelon Steven". note 
    • The episode "Winter Forecast" introduces a new theme, with something of a swinging jazz feel to it. note  In "The Message" and "Political Power, only now it's a Dark Reprise with the sound of space-ship engines and static overlaid. note  Following that, "Jail Break" brought back the season 1a theme With Lyrics. The first episode of the second season then uses the lyrical version shorted from two stanzas to one.
    • "Say Uncle" has it's own remix of Love Like You done in the style of the Uncle Grandpa theme.
    • Following from "Cry For Help", yet another ending theme was introduced, this one being a down-beat remix of both the jazz theme from "Winter Forecast" and the lyrical version of "Love Like You". It functions as something of a Dark Reprise for both of them, befitting the episode's Downer Ending. "Nightmare Hospital" introduces another new, lyrical ending theme. Putting them together and after "Love Like You" shows that they're actually a single song split into at least three parts.
  • Creepy Child: Onion; mute, earless, and prone to acts of destruction.
  • Crossover: With Uncle Grandpa; he helps Steven with summoning his shield.
  • Crystal Ball Scheduling: In "Cry for Help", the cartoon "Crying Breakfast Friends" is a parallel for the actual episode's plot. The "Crying Breakfast Friends" episode involves a pear apologizing for lying to a spoon, and when asked if she would forgive someone if they lied to them, Garnet replies with a neutral grunt. It's later revealed that Pearl has been repairing the hub, not Peridot, so that she could fuse with Garnet, something that Pearl apologizes repeatedly for. However, while the spoon and the pear make up at the end, Garnet and Pearl do not. Steven and Amethyst even acknowledge this.
  • 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.
  • Deconstruction:
    • Love at First Sight is taken apart, with the possibility of Loving a Shadow brought up. As shown in "We Need To Talk", Greg and Rose hooking up within hours of meeting at the end of "Story For Steven" causes some problems due to the speed of the relationship, which isn't helped by the fact that it's an Interspecies Romance and the fact that humans and Gems have different understandings of relationships. In "Love Letters", not only does Garnet shoot down Jamie's one sided crush on her (which also shows that a crush is under no obligation to reciprocate feelings) she explicitly says that love at first sight doesn't exist. Even Steven and Connie's burgeoning relationship, with them developing a mutual crush quickly, is taking its time to get to a full Relationship Upgrade as they become closer gradually.
    • "Sworn To The Sword" deconstructs Pearl's Undying Loyalty to Rose Quartz, which led to Pearl jumping into battle to protect Rose without any concern for her safety, and despite her Gem regeneration meaning she could heal from that, she was implied to have frequently argued with Rose about doing so, especially when there was no reason to. She then tries to instill this way of thinking into Connie, who cannot regenerate like she can, even telling her that she doesn't matter as long as Steven is safe. Steven himself has a opposition to this similar to what Rose was implied to have, and in the end the two are able to find a balance by protecting each other.
    • Lapis Lazuli's situation deconstructs Sentient Phlebotinum pretty harshly, having spent millenia in an And I Must Scream type fate, only interacting with others when they want something, which has left her a Broken Bird.
  • 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.
    • Garnet's eyes appear differently every time we see them. They're either colored dots, solid black dots, colored irises, or colored irises with pupils.
  • 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, though hardly the blink of an eye to them, is something they'll live through. This is a far kinder punishment than the initial "No dinner for 1,000 years."
  • The Dog Bites Back: After being imprisoned by Jasper in "Jail Break", Lapis takes full control of their fusion and drags them into the ocean. She's still trying to wrestle control away from Jasper, however.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The opening credits are sung by the Crystal Gems, plus Steven.
  • Downer Ending: "Cry for Help": Pearl repairs the Communication Hub so that she and Garnet will keep fusing as Sardonyx, using the guise that Peridot is repairing it instead. Garnet is furious and gives her a "The Reason You Suck" Speech. The episode ends with Garnet and Pearl refusing to speak to one another and Amethyst and Steven watching the scene somberly.
  • 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, which also happens to be Amethyst's "birth" place.
    • "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 quickly becomes 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 literally being as old as you feel, until it gets to a point where Steven gets to a near-death age and came close at being too far gone to warp back.
    • "The Message". Homeworld Gems are headed straight for Earth and they've advanced their technology to the point of being unrecognizable to Gems that remained on earth, as revealed by an ending message from Lapis Lazuli.
    • Pearl's Wrong Name Outburst in "Sworn to the Sword."
    • In "Cry for Help", the revelation that it was Pearl repairing the Hub, not Peridot. It creates a huge amount of drama that requires three episodes of breather to fill.
  • Dramedy: Oh, absolutely. The show is notorious for how fast and effective it is at being alternatively funny, sad, and heartwarming within it's short run-time.
  • Dream Walker: In "Chille Tid", Steven communicates with Lapis (and Malachite) during a dream sequence.
  • 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: In "Chille Tid", Amethyst points out to a sleep-deprived Pearl, usually the more knowledgeable of the two, that light-years measure light (distance, technically, but close enough), 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 Cannon", and the cool kids being attacked by Frybo.
    • A musical case: the middle of I'm Still Here, from the end scene of "Rose's Scabbard", contains a very subtle nod to Do It For Her, which isn't heard until "Sworn to the Sword", a dozen or so episodes later.
    • An example applied to an object: Connie mentioned reading The Unfamiliar Familiar series in the comic about three months before it was mentioned in the show during "Marble Madness".
  • 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), their home was called the Crystal Palace, as apposed to the Crystal Temple which would henceforth be named, Pearl joined in on Amethyst's ribbing of Steven, and the color palette was more like Regular Show.
  • Ear Worm: An in-universe example in "Sadie's Song"; the song in question is a pop number described as such:
    Sadie: It's so cheesy, and dumb, and, and catchy... and I know every single word.
  • 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. However, it turns out that the outer chambers of the temple were merely rotating, presumably to confound potential intruders.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: "Catch and Release" reveals the reason why Peridot's so desperate to leave Earth. When the Cluster hatches, it will literally hatch from the earth, destroying the whole planet .
  • 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. Additionally, there are semi-official title cards made by the storyboard artists for each episode that they post online, which have a much greater range of variety (and are sometimes hilariously misleading).
    • The "Barn Arc" in season 2 also gets it's own title card; a picturesque country scene with Steven's laundry hanging up on a line.
  • Everyone Has Standards: The Cool Kids may be typically rebellious teens who bypass police tape for a thrill, but "There is nothing lame about seatbelt safety". That car isn't moving until everyone buckles up.
  • 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.
  • 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. The longer, extended version also gives the backstory of the Gems being aliens from another planet, and their motivations as both individuals and a group.
  • Failed a Spot Check: In "Nightmare Hospital", somehow the hospital staff mistook two fusion monsters for human patients.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Averted, in "Onion Friend", the first thing we see Vidalia doing is demanding to know why strangers are on her property with a shotgun in hand.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: Gems have gotten all sorts of fun injuries like bing stabbed through the gut, getting split in half, and having their torsoes crushed.
  • Fanservice: Being a family cartoon, it's far from a high priority in the series, but it does happen to various extents.
    • Many fusion dances involve at least some degree of this, particularly the one that formed Sardonyx.
    • "Garnet's Universe" has the scene with Garnet training under a waterfall in what appears to be a sports bra.
    • Speaking of, Garnet tends to have the most attention in this regard. "Love Letters" has a solid 15 seconds of Garnet sensually dripping with seawater as she walks out of the ocean. Jaimie's noticeably taken by the sight.
    • While singing to herself in "Sadie's Song", the camera takes a moment focus on the title character's backside while she gets caught up in the moment.
    • After Steven and Connie fuse into Stevonnie for the first time, let's just say that the camera puts a lot of emphasis on the new, aged-up body that they form.
    • Amethyst poses as a model in "Back to the Barn" wearing a bra and boy underwear.
  • 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.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The Gem Homeworld is confirmed to have one in "Back to the Barn", with different Gems having different roles.
    • Pearls are a made to order Servant Race.
    • Peridots seem to be technicians.
    • ** The Guide to the Crystal Gems book stated that Rose Quartz, Steven, Jasper, and Amethyst are all Quartz-type gems. Apparently they're one of the higher-ranking types. This seems to indicate that they're meant as a soldier/leadership caste, given the roles of the three full gems.
      • Supported in "Too Far", in which Peridot mentions that Amethyst should be the one in charge of the Crystal Gems. However, she also calls her "defective" due to being abnormally small for a Quartz-type gem.
    • Rebecca Sugar stated in an interview about the book that the Homeworld Gems have a very strict system of social rules. When two gems of the same "type" fuse, the resulting fusion is of the same type and not that much stronger. When two gems of different types fuse, however, it creates an entirely different type of gem, drastically stronger than the sum of its parts. Garnet is one such example, and she said in the guide that it was unusual for gems of different types to fuse the first time Sapphire and Ruby formed her.
  • Fantastic Slurs: Most of Peridot's taunts toward the Crystal Gems seem to revolve around comparing them to rocks or dirt. "Clod" (though this insult exists in real life as well, Peridot seems to be using it in a different context) is her insult of choice, "dirtbomb" she's only used once, and she's referred to Steven as a "pebble" at least once.
  • Foil
    • Pearl and Amethyst. Pearl is a precise and orderly perfectionist with an almost ballerina-like elegance and is also very thin with short hair. Amethyst is a lazy and kind of sloppy trickster. She's plump and short with Rapunzel Hair.
    • Ruby and Sapphire. Ruby is hot-headed and emotional, and it's implied that she constantly hurts herself trying to get out of her cage in "Jailbreak." Sapphire is calm and collected and simply sings to calm Ruby down. They're also red and blue respectively. "Keystone Motel" further exemplifies this, as Sapphire is willing to forgive Pearl for tricking them, while Ruby is literally fuming with rage over it. The reason being that Ruby gets so emotional that she's essentially stuck in the present, only thinking about how mad she is rather than any actual solutions. Sapphire on the other hand focuses too much on the future where the problem has already been solved and didn't notice the emotional strain that exists before the actual resolution. It's practically taken Up to Eleven with the reveal that Ruby and Sapphire seem to have fire and ice themed powers, respectively.
    • Rose Quartz and Jasper. Rose Quartz was gorgeous and elegant, softly curved and with a soothing voice. She was also incredibly kind and adored Earth. Jasper is much more masculine and rugged, rough around the edges with a kind of growling voice. She's also a straightforward villain and despises Earth.
    • Garnet and Malachite. Garnet is literally "made of love" and is the Nice Guy of the Crystal Gems, as well as the most human-appearing fusion (her only odd feature being her third eye, which is always concealed.) Malachite is made of revenge and hatred and is easily the most monstrous fusion as of yet, with all her limbs being arms, a Slasher Smile, and four eyes.
    • Sugilite and Sardonyx. Sugilite is very destructive, cruel, and rude, and is almost as grotesque as Malachite, and wears a shredded costume. Sugilite does not like being taken apart. Sardonyx, meanwhile, is very nice and optimistic, if not a bit flashy. She's very pretty for a fusion, and wears a neat tuxedo. Although she loves being her, she's completely fine with unfusing.
  • Food as Bribe:
    • In "We Need to Talk", Greg bribed Amethyst to play the drums with pop rocks.
    • Steven bribes Lion with Lion Lickers.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • 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 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.
    • 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 "Steven's Lion," Steven asks if he can keep Lion. Pearl is reluctant to allow this and turns to Garnet, who replies, "We kept Amethyst." Although Pearl gives an unconvincing laugh, not much is though of it, as it's not brought back up for another thirty episode. As it turns out, we learn in "On The Run" that Rose found Amethyst in the Kindergarten, thus The Crystal Gems essentially did keep Amethyst.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • In "Giant Woman", Steven sings "If it were up to me, I think I'd rather be, a Giant Woman". Stevonnie's six-foot-something probably comes close.
    • 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.
    • 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'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.
    • "Secret Team" has Steven and Amethyst find Pearl holding gems shards in a bubble that Rose made. Pearl makes up an obvious lie about wanting to see how the shards react to the bubble, and never explains what she was really doing. Given future revelations about Pearl's feeling about Rose, it seems she was focusing on the bubble itself and treating it as a memento.
    • 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 Ruby and Sapphire 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.
    • "Garnet's Universe" looks like a fun filler/homage episode dreamed up by Steven, who obviously really loves anime and anime-related tropes. However, "Garnet's Universe" contains the following: two small secret allies that Garnet doesn't want Steven to know about, Garnet having to fight a giant orange bad guy, the real bad guy imprisoning Garnet and her friends and mocking her love (for Steven), and Garnet gaining superpowers through The Power of Love and beating the bad guy into the ground. Which wouldn't mean anything to the viewers...until they watched "Jail Break".
    • In "Jail Break", Peridot complains to Jasper about overriding her mission, stating that her whole reason for coming to Earth was "to check on the Cluster". "Keeping it Together" sheds some light on that mission, when we meet the gem-shard monsters.
    • In "Story for Steven", when Rose tells Greg that she's interested in him, she phrases it very oddly, saying, "You're awfully cute, and I really want to play with you." The way her statement is phrased makes it sound like she's referring to a novelty or a pet, and in "We Need to Talk," it's confirmed that this is exactly how she viewed Greg before he called her out.
    • In "Cry for Help" and "Friend Ship", Peridot expresses a desire to escape Earth as soon as possible because "This planet has an expiration date"; "Catch and Release" gives some more clues as to why: "the Cluster" is still dormant, but when it finally hatches...
    • If one looks closely at Peridot's character design, you may notice her forearms and lower leg are disproportionately long compared to her upper arm and thighs. In "Catch & Release", we see why: they're Artificial Limbs that go over her much smaller real ones.
    • In "The Return", Jasper calls Pearl "a lost, defective pearl". In "Back To The Barn", Peridot revealed that Pearls are considered nothing more than useless, shiny status symbols to be ordered around.
    • Amethyst has a lot of similarities to Jasper- they're both brawny, have large manes of hair, and use-spin dash attacks. All 'quartz' Gems are revealed to be warriors, only Amethyst formed abnormally small.
  • Forgot About His Powers: The Gems frequently fail to use their shape-shifting powers in battle when it would be very helpful. Amethyst uses her for pranks and to amuse Steven, while Garnet and Pearl don't use them all. It's particularly egregious when Peridot discovers she can turn her hand into a helicopter as an escape route, and none of the Gems ever think of transforming into something that can fly to pursue her. At the very least, Garnet has demonstrated she can stretch her limbs to absurd lengths, more than enough to catch Peridot if need be. Lampshaded in one episode where Pearl suggests Amethyst transforms to escape being held but Amethyst saying she's too freaked out to do it (and implying that Pearl also can't).
    • When the giant eye/probe is approaching Beach City, their response is to continually throw Amethyst at it, rather than form Opal, who specializes in powerful, long-range attacks.
  • 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.
    • Onion just seems to go wherever he wants and do whatever he wants, with his mother only acknowledging that he's a "little troublemaker".
  • 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. In the same episode (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.
  • G-Rated Sex: While gems reproduce like viruses and only artificially, the social and intimate equivalent for their Bizarre Alien Biology is fusion, which is utilized to have storylines and characters that are far more sexual than could otherwise be depicted in a children's show. The fusion is done via dancing, which allows for some very sexual imagery (and even accidental fusion when dancing recreationally). Played for drama as well as characterization; the villains are conducting experiments on fusing dead gems together, and the rape connotations are treated as being even more serious than the necromantic issues—the importance of consent to a proper fusion and lack of it here is specifically mentioned.
  • Hair Flip: Amethyst flips her Rapunzel Hair in the original opening song.
    • Rainbow Quartz does a particularly dramatic one upon forming in "We Need To Talk".
  • Half-Arc Season: Episodes in a season regularly switch between one-offs and stories that advance the Myth Arc or otherwise contribute to World Building. Although you can't immediately be certain if the episode is important or not.
    Rebecca Sugar: I think I went through something as a cartoon fan, I had this moment where I loved fun, self-contained cartoons when I was little, and then at a certain point, I only liked long serialized stories. If itís not over 26 episodes, whatís the point? But then I realized later, itís hard to make a story that fits, a cartoon that starts and finishes and can be complete, but with stories that take 26 episodes to tell, thereís something a little easier about that. With this show I wanted to do, basically the hardest thing possible, which is self-contained and serialized, see if both were possible.
  • Hard Light: Gem bodies are this; they can regenerate or transform easily as long as their gem is okay.
  • Harmful to Minors: Steven is gradually exposed to more and more horrors as the series progresses. The arc that happens between "The Message" and "Full Disclosure" did a number on him in particular.
  • Hell Is That Noise:
    • The mirror screaming in Steven's voice.
    "Nooooo! NoooooNOOOOOOooooo! NOOOOOOOOO!"
    • The mirror's laugh is incredibly creepy.
    • The garish shriek that the Cluster makes in "Keeping it Together". It sounds like several voices screaming in agony.
    • Jasper ranting YOU. YOU YOU YOU. psychotically when she sees Steven in "Chille Tid".
  • 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 fight the monsters, property damage is an acceptable consequence, and besides, they were here first ("Historical Friction" elaborates on this a bit more— the Gems warned William Dewey that the area was dangerous, but he founded Beach City there regardless).
    (after the Gems accidentally cause a blackout and Mayor Dewey is begging Steven for help)
    Steven: We'll help you clean up!
    Garnet: (offscreen) No we won't!
    Steven: ...I'll help you clean up!
  • 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 and is still deeply hurting over Rose Quartz's death.
    • On a far less serious note, the episode "Arcade Mania" reveals that Garnet, of all people, really likes video games.
  • High School A.U.: Hilary Florido; a storyboard artist for the show creates promotional art for episodes she worked on, where the characters are in a high school setting. Notably, Steven is a super-professional, ten-year-old teacher in it. (Sound familiar?)
    • In "The Test", Steven is having the characters take... well a test.
    • In "Maximum Capacity", Amethyst and Greg are searching for gym supplies.
    • Even more stuff from the same week as "Maximum Capacity".
    • This is an advert for the first Steven bomb event.
    • For "Political Power" Mayor Dewey is the principal and is giving an announcement.
    • In "Open Book", Ruby and Sapphire are also students, and Connie is the school's librarian.
    • "Joy Ride" has Steven telling the cool kids to get to class.
    • For "We Need to Talk", Some of the characters are studying in the library. Paradoxically, Stevonnie appears as a student, despite Steven and Connie also being present in the scene.
    • In "Historical Friction", the characters are setting up a play, and Jamie is the director.
    • "Catch and Release" shows Steven in a hallway chatting with Rose and Pearl, while Peridot spies on them from the restroom.
    • In "Too Far", Pearl informs Steven about an argument between Amethyst and Peridot.
  • 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. Gems don't require food, but Amethyst eats because she finds the sensation neat.
  • 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)
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Amethyst and Pearl manifest this in different ways:
    • While Amethyst does talk a big game sometimes, usually she just goes through life rolling with the punches like it's no big deal. While she doesn't appear to think higher of herself than anybody else, she does give off the impression that she's cool with who she is and any attempt to bring her down will just roll right off her back. "On the Run" reveals that, in reality, she secretly despises herself due to being the living byproduct of the Gems' previous attempt to destroy the planet.
    • Pearl carries herself very highly and only rarely admits she's in the wrong about anything. Episodes like "Coach Steven" and "Rose's Scabbard" chip away at her layers, and in "Friend Ship" she finally breaks and admits how she really feels: weak, useless, and incomplete.
  • Insignificant Little Blue Planet: None of the Homeworld Gems bear any particular hostility towards Earth, but nor do they view it in any high regard. Lapis told Steven that she "never believed in this place", Jasper is dismissive of "this garbage planet", and Peridot is more concerned with getting off "this sad rock" before the Cluster wakes up and destroys everything.
  • 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.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Deconstructed and then defied in "Full Disclosure". The episode (moreso even than many Hollywood movies) spends considerable time on and gives considerable thought to Steven's reasoning in ending his relationship with Connie, and he's more justified than many heroes in doing so: his father demonstrated (again) that Steven's dangerous lifestyle is stressful, even pushing to the verge of an apparent heart attack. Not only that, Steven's powers are untrained and so far fairly limited, and it's unreasonable to assume that he would be able to protect Connie from serious danger. However, the episode's conclusion is that even under these generous circumstances, this trope is a terrible thing to do to someone, and that Connie should be allowed to decide for herself whether she wants to risk her physical and emotional well-being.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: "Story for Steven" reveals that Greg was pretty attractive in his twenties.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • In "Island Adventure", Lars is furious when he realizes that Sadie deliberately hid the warp pad that would have allowed them and Steven to to return home from the island. Even if Sadie's heart was in the right place, she still earns a serious What the Hell, Hero?
    • In "We Need to Talk", Pearl tells Greg that Rose views him as nothing more than "a phase", and is only interested in him because he's human. At the time, she's right.
  • 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. However, she twists this trope into a version that demands suicidal self-sacrifice rather than obedience.
  • 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.
    • Sardonyx, Pearl and Garnet's fusion, is this to a lesser extent. She's elegant and acrobatic, but she hits things with a warhammer and is the biggest ham out of all the Gems except for Sugilite.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In "Nightmare Hospital", Connie says that she hasn't needed actual lenses in her glasses for nearly a year. Her eyes were healed in "An Indirect Kiss", which aired September 18, 2014, and "Nightmare Hospital" aired September 10, 2015, making it nearly a real-time year.
  • Leitmotif:
  • Large Ham:
    • Jasper. "You... have FAILED!"
    • Peridot as well. "Yes! Feel my unbridled rage!"
  • 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. which combines Paper Mario RPG physics with Steven Universe.
  • 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.
  • Living Forever Is No Big Deal: The Gems are friendly, but not very social with humans. They also apparently haven't used their immortality to accumulate wealth.
  • 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.
  • Locked Out of the Loop:
    • As time went on, it became increasingly clear that the Gems were doing their best to try to keep the darker side of their history from Steven, though he learned more as he's usually forced into situations where certain details can't be avoided.
    • Steven tries to keep Connie in the dark about the events of the first season finale, but fails.
    • Connie keeps her parents in the dark about a lot of the magical stuff she gets into with Steven.
  • 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.
    • Horror Club seems to imply Lars vs.Ronaldo for Sadie.
  • 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.
    • Ultimately averted, as none of them, not even Pearl, ever hold this against him.
  • 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 can have slapstick, comedic moments that change from funny to serious, in a matter of seconds. Primarily being a comedy, it's mostly lighthearted, but dramatic scenes can and do occur in most episodes.
  • 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: The series uses different hypotheses at different points:
    • There are several examples of Diegetic; Steven and Greg are musically talented, and often enjoy performing or improvising songs.
    • All in Their Head appears in "Full Disclosure", where Steven monologues about his fear of something happening to Connie and Beach City.
    • Adaptations are fairly common, such as Pearl and Connie training and talking in "Do It For Her", or Garnet giving Jasper a Badass Boast in the form of "Stronger Than You", which also continues to be audible as Garnet ceases visibly singing.
    • "What Can I Do for You" is an interesting example; Greg and Rose are actually singing and playing—dialogue clarifies that they're filming a music video (Diegetic)—but Rose's lyrics are such an on-the-nose statement of her character that in quickly worries Greg, even though he doesn't let himself slip up for the sake of finishing the take.
  • 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 
  • Naked People Are Funny: Amethyst has this as an in universe opinion.
  • The Needless: Because Gems get all the energy they need from their gemstones and their bodies are more or less physical holograms, they have no need to eat, drink, sleep, or even breathe. It is implied in "Chille Tid", however, that they do become stressed when overexerted, and while still not necessary, rest is beneficial to them in these situations.
  • 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. The specifics as to whether or not she could be considered alive are more philosophical than anything.
  • 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.
    • Similarly, fans have learned to become suspicious of any episodes which are given particularly innocuous seeming promos or episode summaries, since those are usually used to deliberately disguise some of the heavier episodes.
    • Inverted by the promo image for Friend Ship, which depicts the Crystal Gems, Lapis, and Jasper as chess pieces with Peridot as The Chessmaster turning Pearl against her friends. Peridot's behavior in that episode is more like panic than strategy, as the only reason the Crystal Gems walked into her trap and had any trouble escaping it was due to a conflict between Garnet and Pearl that Peridot had nothing to do with and wouldn't fully understand from briefly seeing them earlier in the episode. Also, Lapis and Jasper do not appear at all, and Pearl ends up resolving her conflict rather than escalating it.
  • 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).
  • Noble Bigot:
    • Rose Quartz was this toward humans, despite being seen by everyone as kindhearted and good-natured. The most attention is drawn to this when Greg confesses to her that he fears she doesn't respect him, and she interprets it as a joke. Their relationship following this did seem to dial this back a bit though.
    • Pearl has some shades of this. She'll gladly protect the Earth and its inhabitants, but she'll still occasionally come across as smug and superior when interacting with them personally.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The Big Donut used to make its donuts on-site, until "...the accident". It's only mentioned once, and all we see of its aftermath is a burn mark on a wall, shaped like a human outline.
    • In "Full Disclosure," Amethyst suggests that the Gems build a moat surrounding the temple, and offers to shapeshift into a crocodile in order to help guard it; Pearl's comments imply that she has made the same offer more than once in the past, but "never commits."
    • A year before the start of the series, Steven entered into Beach City's Beachapalooza festival. After that, a new rule was then added stating that all participating acts must wear clothes.
    • Amethyst offhandedly mentions at one point that she, at one point, attempted to flush herself down the toilet.
  • 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.
    • "Warp Tour" takes the above even further, where we see another Gem, Peridot, for the first time and whose presence indicates that the Crystal Gems are renegades from their kind and that wherever they're from has more Gems who are powerful, unfriendly and have plans to do very nasty things to planet Earth.
    • "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.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: Pearl constantly tries to shelter Steven from aspects of gemhood and gem history that she considers too mature for him to handle.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: At first played straight with the Crystal Gems and Steven, then averted big time due to Character Development.
    • In "Warp Tour", the three older Crystal Gems refuse to believe that Steven saw something in the warp stream, to the point of teasing him, arguing with him about it, and then flat-out shutting him down. Steven eventually takes desperate, dangerous measures to catch the unknown creature, which turns out to be one of Peridot's plug robonoids, heralding her arrival and much bigger problems for the Crystal Gems. They not only admit their mistake, they learn from it...
    • By the time "Chille Tid" happens, the Crystal Gems are surprised that Steven might be able to make psychic contact with Lapis Lazuli, and by extension Malachite, in his dreams, but far from tearing him down, they encourage him to try again and accept the information he brings back at face value.
    • Played with but ultimately averted again in "Catch And Release": while Steven tries to tell the Crystal Gems that Peridot was trying to say something bad was going to happen, Garnet gently dismisses him at first, convinced that Peridot was lying to save her own skin. Steven doesn't discuss what Peridot was trying to say to the Crystal Gems because he himself doesn't understand it that well, so he takes the question directly to Peridot, who tries to escape and then gets trapped in Steven's bathroom. When the Gems find out that Steven released her from her bubble, they're shocked at first, but once he articulates what he was worried about, they not only immediately understand, they agree with his idea of keeping Peridot imprisoned but un-bubbled so they can convince her to share information about the mysterious Cluster.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted. The episode "Catch And Release" takes place in Steven's bathroom which he has to use by the end. An offhand comment by Amethyst also confirms that if a Gem chooses to eat, they have to deal with the results.
  • Noodle People: Pearl seems to be designed with the ideal physique for a ballet dancer; tall, slender, and long-limbed. Combine this with the show's art style, and she's basically made of broomsticks.
  • No Song for the Wicked: Depending on your views, morally ambiguous or not, none of the Homeworld Gems have a musical number, not Lapis, not Peridot, not Jasper, NONE of them.
  • 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.
  • 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. After the first half of season one, this was dialed back significantly, but as the former post can attest, it still happens in minor variations in many places.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The Crystal Gems are often elsewhere on the planet fighting evil. As Steven in the early episodes wasn't ready to join them, they didn'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.
  • One-Gender Race: With the exception of Steven who is half-human and male, all Gems are genderless but look like and are referred to as women.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • Steven is normally a kind, cheerful and friendly little boy. While he can and does get angry at things that warrant such feelings (hurting his family and friends, insulting his mother, etc.), he is never angry as a default. Most of "Warp Tour" has him extremely surly and argumentative with the gems, especially Pearl, because he is sleep-deprived and just that afraid of the thing he saw in the warp stream. Similarly, in "Keystone Motel" he finally ends up breaking a plate and storming out over the way Pearl, Ruby and Sapphire have all been fighting.
      • While it's not the only time he's gotten angry, the way he snaps at Lars in "Lars and the Cool Kids" for insulting his mother is especially noteworthy in that it got him to call Lars a jerk without any hesitation. For comparison, he struggled to call the Homeworld Gems "mean" after they destabilized Garnet, knocked him out, captured him and his friends, and voiced plans to destroy the planet, and Lars is somebody he actually wants to be friends with.
    • Amethyst, at her best, is laid back and personable, and at her worst is cocky, hotheaded, and rude. She expresses her negative emotions almost exclusively through anger, to the point where even when Steven was on the brink of death from rapid aging in "So Many Birthdays", her futile attempts to save him only caused her to get more and more frustrated, which contrasted hard with Pearl's Inelegant Blubbering. Because of this, her breakdown in "On The Run" where her backstory is finally laid bare and she releases all the self-hatred she's been bottling up for the last six thousand years has to be seen to be believed.
    • Pearl's breakdown in "Rose's Scabbard". She is a perfectionist and has a tendency to get a little full of herself from time to time. However, she gets increasingly bitter as she learns she wasn't Rose's sole confidant, and lashes out at the other Gems and Steven out of sheer anger and vindictiveness, something she has never really done before. She even failed to help Steven after he fell from a floating island, despite voicing concern. Fortunately, Steven saves himself and still forgives Pearl for everything.
    • In "Keeping It Together", Garnet is so traumatized by the existence of The Cluster and its implications, she nearly unfuses from the shock. Even after she pulls it together long enough to poof the monstrosity, she has a moment where her two halves, Ruby and Sapphire, are arguing with each other through her, complete with changes in emotion and inflection, just like split personalities.
    • In "Cry for Help", Amethyst learns Pearl was repairing the Communications Hub, but when Garnet gets mad when she finds out, Amethyst defends Pearl, despite the two rarely getting along and Amethyst not minding seeing Pearl get in trouble once in a while.
  • 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 (such as the arcade at Funland, or the Nintendo 64 and GameCube in Steven's room) 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.
  • Parents as People: A central tenet of the show: just because someone has become a parent/caretaker, it doesn't stop them being a person with their own goals, virtues and hangups — and it doesn't mean they're reduced to the role of bystander while the next generation go off and do important things. However, as the show progresses it also becomes clear that even the best parental figures are imperfect: their jealousy, insecurity, emotional distance or irresponsibility won't magically vanish because a child has turned up. Even parents have to address their own issues. Vidalia, for example, is the loving mother of Sour Cream and Onion, but she still finds the time to pursue her goals of being a painter.
  • Perfection Is Impossible: This is the Aesop of "Historical Friction", that everyone makes mistakes, and the important thing is to keep on trying.
  • Plot Parallel: In the episode "Reformed", it's implied that the characters in "Crying Breakfast Friends!" are each a counterpart to one of the characters in Steven's life. The few other glimpses we've gotten of this show seems to relate to the main plot of the episode, in particular "Cry for Help" (see Crystal Ball Scheduling).
  • Point of Divergence : While Steven's town and world look remarkably similar to ours, there's a number of hints that the arrival of the Gems and their subsequent civil war over Earth's resources have...changed certain things. One of the most telling is that while the dollar bill we've been shown as currency in Steven Universe says "United States of America", instead of the pyramid-and-crest design, it has a diamond on the left and a partitioned snake (thought to be a reference to Benjamin Franklin's "Join Or Die" political cartoon urging the Thirteen Colonies to unite) on the right. This is borne out by the names of the two states we've seen so far, Keystone and Delmarva. Matt Burnett has also stated that Christmas and Halloween do not exist in-universe. Seen from space, Florida has apparently been detached from the rest of North America and is now an island. (However, Ghana still exists in this universe as Ian Jones Quartey has stated that the Pizza family is from Ghana.)
  • 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.
  • Power High: "Cry for Help" implies that this is why fusing with Garnet can be addictive. Because Garnet is already an incredibly powerful and perfect fusion, the considerably weaker Pearl and Amethyst find fusing with Garnet to be remarkably pleasant.
  • 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.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Rose Quartz was able to stop the Homeworld Gems from destroying Earth, but at the cost of her entire army (it's mentioned that she was only able to save her closest friends). Furthermore, it turns out that the Homeworld Gems left behind several monsters assembled from Crystal Gem shards, as well as "the Cluster" (implied to be capable of killing everyone on the planet once it "hatches").
  • Rage Quit: What the Cluster amounts to: the Crystal Gems won the war, so the Homeworld decided to plant an Eldritch Abomination in the planet's core to destroy it.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Crystal Gems, in the eyes of Homeworld Gems, are this. As detailed in "Back to the Barn" and "Too Far": Pearl is a member of a Slave Race and is considered defective for doing anything more than standing around, looking nice and holding her owner's possessions, fusions like Garnet are used almost exclusively for battle so her staying fused all the time is seen as at least somewhat outlandish, Amethyst, though fully functional as a soldier, is also considered defective as far as Quartz gems go because of how short her Shapeshifter Default Form is and Steven, being a Half-Human Hybrid, is something completely new and unheard of.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: With the parallels between sex and fusion being as strong as they are, the way the gem shards were forced into doing it in "Keeping it Together" could very easily be seen as a metaphor for rape. The episode goes into great lengths to emphasize how monstrous and evil the act was, even more so than its elements of graverobbing and necromancy.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Amethyst, Greg and Rose Quartz all have this. What's left of Greg's hair goes to the backs of his legs (it was floor length when he was younger i.e. shorter). Amethyst made her hair floor-length apparently to match Greg since she was seen fawning over it when they first met. Rose Quartz has extremely thick, luscious hair styled in thick Regal Ringlets that go down to the backs of her legs, and it would probably be even longer if it were straight.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Amethyst and Pearl, respectively - the former being anarchic and energetic, the latter being reserved and obsessed with details.
    • Steven and Connie would also qualify, Steven being a Cheerful Child and the Keet and Connie being calm, shy, and duty-bound.
    • Ruby and Sapphire (the former is Hot-Blooded and lives in the moment, the latter is stoic, introspective and has precognative powers - notably, they usually share the same feelings but express them differently) are a nearly literal example of this trope.
  • Rousseau Was Right: With a couple of very rare exceptions, the show seems to fall into this, especially among the human characters. Even Lars and Ronaldo are shown to be mostly scared, alone, and/or awkward. The Gem monsters and corrupted Gems who attack Steven and the Crystal Gems are insane with corruption and attacking out of desperate madness rather than actual malevolence, as proved by the Centipeetle, and Lapis Lazuli lashed out from fear and misery and feeling trapped. Apart from Marty, Jasper, Peridot, and the above examples, everyone in the show has been shown to be essentially good people trying to do the right thing, to greater or lesser degrees of success. And if some of Matt Burnett's tweets can be taken at face value, even Jasper and Peridot may have Hidden Depths that the viewers have yet to encounter.
  • Rule of Funny:
    • Per Word Of God, the reason the people of Beach City take the magical goings-on around them in stride.
    • Pearl's exaggerated Sanity Slippage in the Uncle Grandpa crossover.
  • 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, though he gets the hang of it later on. Connie, not having Steven's experience, does the same thing in "Sworn to the Sword".
    • 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."
    • Mr. Universe's van suffering abuse.
    Greg: No! Not the van!
    • Steven's TV is also regularly destroyed. So far, it's happened in "Gem Glow" (shattered by Steven's shield), "Steven the Sword Fighter" (hacked by Holo-Pearl's sword), "Rose's Room" (wrecked by the Wailing Stone), and "Back to the Barn" (propelled by Peridot). Thankfully, the gems have plenty of spares.
    • 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.
    • Steven expressing frustration at Lion for not informing him of his various magical talents (pocket dimension in his mane, walking on water, able to create portals in space and time by roaring, etc). Lion is the Team Pet and can't talk.
    Steven: "Lion! Why don't you tell me you can do these things you do?"

    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.
  • Self-Sacrifice Scheme: During the climax of "Watermelon Steven", the melon army has gone rogue, indiscriminately attacking anything they perceive as a threat to Steven. Baby Melon stops them by punching Steven, causing the other melons to turn on him. Once he is slain, the melons have nothing left to fight.
  • Servant Race: Pearls are revealed to be this in "Back to the Barn", meant to be servants to more important gems.
    • The same episode also implies that Peridots are made to be technicians and engineers, and are low down on the totem pole.
  • Shaped Like Itself:
    Pearl: Simplified to our basic forms, gems are, well, just gems! (giggles)
    • In "Rising Tides/Crashing Skies", Mayor Dewey is captioned as "Mayor Dewey".
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • All the Crystal Gems seem to ship Steven and Connie.
    • During "We Need to Talk", when Greg is having doubts about his relationship with Rose, Garnet offers some helpful advice.
  • Shipping Torpedo: Pearl tries to use the fact that Greg can't fuse with Rose (after fusing with her into Rainbow Quartz to make him jealous) to try to drive them apart. It fails.
  • 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
    • Steven and Connie, as the series progress.
    • Rose and Pearl have been implied since "Rose's Scabbard."
    • 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.
  • Shown Their Work: Someone on the staff must really know their gemology, since barely an episode passes without some Fridge Brilliance relating to real-life gemstone science and mythology.
  • Show Within a Show:
    • Li'l 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.
    Amethyst: Who wants to watch a cartoon about people crying?
    Steven: (tearing up) I do!
  • 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.
  • Space Is Magic: Lapis Lazuli has abused this trope the hardest, but the series implies Gems are capable of many things impossible by standard physics. In general, the harsher realities of space travel are glossed over for the sake of the storytelling.
  • Space Opera: The backdrop of the setting has this feel, with a galactic empire of alien conquerors controlling what are implied to be many planets, with a small group of rebels resisting their plans for Earth. In practice, the show features comedic adventuring with many Slice of Life moments keeping it grounded. From the Crystal Gems' point of view, staying on an exotic planet with many diverse and strange alien cultures makes Earth a Planetary Romance.
  • Special Edition Title: "Jail Break" has the title card on a space background rather than a beach.
  • Special Person, Normal Name: Steven.
  • Squee: Garnet's reaction to Steven and Connie fusing.
  • Statuesque Stunner: When Greg first met Rose, his best guess when asked how big she was was "eight feet tall". It's suggested he had a thing for taller women.
    • Garnet, at least in Jamie's eyes.
  • Stress Vomit: Steven mentions almost succumbing to this in "Serious Steven." This actually leads to the discovery of how the dungeon works. All the rooms were spinning, giving Steven motion sickness.
  • Stylistic Suck: "Rising Tides/Crashing Skies" is made entirely to look like it was filmed on a camcorder and edited with Windows Movie Maker.
  • Super-Deformed: In the Classroom Gems short.
  • Super Fun Happy Thing of Doom: During the war, Homeworld Gems built an unknown number of facilities designed to siphon nutrients out of the Earth's crust and use them to grow new Gems, at the expense of all life on the planet. Said places are now decrepit, craggy canyons, littered with broken machines that closely resemble thirty-foot tall viruses. The walls are all covered in holes the exact size and shape to fit a specific humanoid, a la The Enigma of Amigara Fault. What did the Homeworld Gems decide call these places? Kindergartens. Doubles as a pun because Kindergarten is German for child garden, and this was a place to grow young gems...
  • 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.
    • Anytime Onion appears, expect something creepy and messed up to happen.
  • Surrealism: Downplayed, but it's there and not always Played for Laughs, though the show does sometimes veer into Surreal Humor.
  • Symbolic Blood: Frybo bleeds ketchup.
  • Taking the Bullet: Parodied in "Together Breakfast" when Steven takes a squirt gun blast for a stack of waffles.
  • Talking to Themself:
    • Stevonnie sometimes talks like this, since they're the fusion of Steven and Connie. This is seen a few times in "Alone Together".
    • 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.
    • Malechite and Alexandrite also do this. It appears to be a symptom of an imperfect fusion.
  • 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. A larger version exists that allows for interplanetary travel; the only known Galaxy Warp on Earth is inactive, and the Crystal Gems have a vested interest in making sure it stays that way. 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.
  • Tell Me About My Mother: Steven asks Pearl what his mother was like at the beginning of "Rose's Scabbard", setting up the episode's story.
  • Tempting Fate: In "Giant Woman", "I might get eaten by a giant bird!" (chomp)
  • Theme-and-Variations Soundtrack: There are a few cases of an episode-specific Recurring Riff, such as in "Space Race" or "Watermelon Steven".
  • Theme Tune Extended: There is an extended version of the show's theme ("We Are the Crystal Gems") even longer than the pilot version that appears in one episode in a flashback. When it was first released a year earlier, it had lyrics censored for spoilers.
    If only you could know/What we truly are
    When we arrived on Earth, from far beyond your star
    We were amazed to find your beauty and your worth
    We will protect your kind, and we will protect your Earth
    We will protect your Earth, and we will protect YOU!
  • Theme Tune Roll Call: Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl, AND STEVEN!
  • There Are No Police: Beach City doesn't 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.
  • There Are No Therapists: Deconstructed. 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; as a result, both of them handle their emotional grief in unhealthy manners. Steven himself has run into his own issues when it comes to coping with recent events (for a specific example, "Full Disclosure" centers around him dealing with the aftermath of the season one finale), however he tends to push aside his own internal problems because he wants to look like he can handle anything in front of the older Crystal Gems. Even Garnet isn't free from this; she explicitly states in "Friend Ship" that she does have weaknesses, but tries to look strong and reliable to the others — in other words, no matter how cool she appears, Garnet suffers from internalized anguish as well
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich:
    • "Together Breakfast" ends with the Crystal Gems making a new Together Breakfast, then realizing they no longer have the stomach for it (and ordering a pizza instead).
      Garnet: It did try to kill us.
    • "Secret Team" ends with Steven and the Gems ripping their secret team membership cards, which were free pizza coupons, Steven claims they would've gotten one if they didn't rip them up.
    • In "Onion Friend", Steven never does end up getting to eat his 'perfect' bagel.
    • Onion enjoys throwing good food into the ocean.
  • 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.
  • Time Abyss: All of the Crystal Gems, save Steven, and the 6000 or so old Earth-born Amethyst, existed for thousands of years before they came to Earth; existing on a (literally) geological time scale has caused them to develop a vastly different perception of time than humans.
  • Time Dissonance: As a result of existing on a (literally) geological time scale, Gems tend to perceive time differently than people do. For example, In "Space Race" Pearl seems to forget that 50 years is a long time to a human, the Gems think that 1000 years with no TV is an acceptable punishment, and in "We Need to Talk" Rose says that she feels that things on Earth move so fast.
  • 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?
    • Steven has inherited his dad's taste for "Giant Women". He literally sings a song, called Giant Woman, in the episode Giant Woman.
  • 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 has a disheveled appearance, she messily eats absolutely anything, and generally lacks stereotypically "girly" refinement. In her very first scene in the series proper, she's introduced while picking her nose.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl:
    • Amethyst's complete lack of refinement and Pearl's delicate femininity clash throughout the show; although in a subversion, it's Pearl's insensitivity which eventually brings them to blows.
    • Ruby and Sapphire have served as a more caricatured example, given their limited screentime: Ruby's hot temper and lack of social graces contrasting against Sapphire's more stoic, patient outlook and polite behavior. Their designs mirror this, with the former's outfit being androgynous and combat-oriented, and the latter's apparel resembling a Princess Classic.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Steven starts to become more mature as the show progresses and obtains new abilities and becoming a protecter of the planet just as his mother was. After season 1, he's fully able to use his shield with ease.
    • Connie; during season 2 is learns how to sword fight and together with Steven, they show amazing skills in combat.
  • Too Many Mouths: Alexandrite has a second, extra-toothy mouth that opens along the base of her chin, meaning her entire face is lifted up like an upper jaw.
  • Trademark Favorite Food:
    • Steven likes Cookie Cat sandwiches, which were unfortunately discontinued in the first episode.
    • Ironically, Lion's favorite food turns out to be the Lion Lickers that replaced them. Steven uses them to get Lion to listen to him.
  • Trailers Always Lie: Most previews focus on the show's more happy-go-lucky, comedy elements, leaving its Myth Arc to gain notoriety via word-of-mouth.
  • 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 and brick red/paper white/purple skin, 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 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's summer tourism.
    • 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. And for another mark against the Maheswarans, in "Nightmare Hospital", Dr. Maheswaran treats two different Gem Clusters...and her reaction to an eight-armed monstrosity without a heartbeat and a headless torso with a clubfoot? A remark that the former "doesn't look like a car accident" and disparaging the hospital's low-budget stethoscopes.
    • Played with during Greg's story of how he met Rose; he sees nothing wrong with a purple owl with a giant gemstone on its breast until it talks.
  • Unusual Pets For Unusual People: Onion the Creepy Child has a pet snake (which he's perfectly fine feeding live rats to in front of guests).
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show:
    • Peridot and Jasper. Neither of them have any qualms about harming children (if they even understand what children are; Peridot still seems to think "a Steven" is a species), and Peridot's mission involves doing something to this Insignificant Little Blue Planet.
    • 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've been conducting experiments in the Kindergarten, involving forcibly fusing the remains of shattered Crystal Gems into a twisted Frankenstein-like mass of Body Horror. In addition, it's implied that the individual shards can still remember that they used to be people. Garnet's horrified reaction drives the point home.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: Peridot narrowly eludes the Crystal Gems' grasp on multiple occasions. In one particularly close call, she detaches one of her own feet in order to escape.
  • Violence Really Is the Answer: Deconstructed. The Crystal Gems have knee jerk reaction to solve whatever problem they have with violence, but this doesn't work all the time and makes the situation worse or what could've been so: Garnet tries to de-age Steven with violence and it only makes him age faster, their hurting Centipeedle only causes more distress towards the creature, and their refusal to hear what Peridot has to say could've lead to more problems since she knows about the Cluster, had Steven not released her, the Earth would've been doomed even more.
  • Vocal Evolution: Steven's voice deepens as the show continues. It's a deliberate choice on the part of his voice actor, who's voice had already broken by the time he started the part.
  • 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.
    • 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.
      • Sardonyx combines Garnet's gauntlets and Pearl's spear into a large, cartoonish warhammer.
    • Connie always showed a tendency towards sword-fighting, and eventually trained to become an expert with it.
    • Peridot's "limb enhancers" aren't her Gem weapon, but they're her main, and seemingly only, offensive weapon. With them she can Wall Run, use a Tractor Beam built into her palm, use her Raymanian Limbs fingers to fly like a helicopter, and fire a Hand Cannon. Without them she can only Wimp Fight with Steven.
  • 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: Enough for a subpage.
  • Wham Line
    • Episode-specific cases:
      • "On the Run": "...and we shut this place down so the Earth would be safe from parasites like me!"
      • This exchange between Ronaldo and Lars in "Horror Club" casts their interactions through the episode in a new light:
      Lars: Come on, man! We used to be friends!
      Ronaldo: And you threw me away!
      • "Sworn to the Sword": "Why won't you just let me do this for you, Rose?"
    • Scenes with series-wide implications:
      • "Ocean Gem": "All those monsters we fight used to be just like us!"
      • The appearance of a Homeworld gem in "Warp Tour" is treated with the gravity it deserves, but one specific line drives home how much of a Very Bad Thing it represents:
      Pearl: They're coming back. I can't do this! Not again!
      • In "The Return", Greg hints at the Gems' deepest regret, and how they don't want Steven "thinking of them like that". Steven presses the issue further:
      Steven: Like what? ...Dad, like what?
      Greg: Like aliens, Steven! Aliens who invaded Earth!
  • Wham Shot
    • "Steven the Sword Fighter" has two in quick succession: Pearl getting stabbed through the chest, and then poofing into a cloud of smoke.
    • "Mirror Gem": Steven freeing Lapis from the mirror.
    • "Jail Break": Ruby and Sapphire re-fusing into Garnet.
    • "Cry for Help": Pearl being shown repairing the Hub, not Peridot.
    • "Keystone Motel": Garnet defusing into Ruby and Sapphire.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Garnet's reaction in "Cry for Help" to Pearl tricking her into fusing Sardonyx. Garnet already takes fusion very seriously, seeing it as a beautiful and sacred thing, not just a power-up for strength. But she's also furious because Pearl wasted their time when Peridot was still on the loose, and refuses to speak to Pearl by the end of the episode.
    • Greg acts like a bit of an uncharacteristic jerk throughout "House Guest", taking advantage of his broken leg for sympathy and to spend extra time with Steven, and abusing the warp whistle the Gems gave him to keep calling Steven back to the temple for petty reasons while he's needed on an important mission. When it's revealed that Steven actually had healed his broken leg, but Greg pretended the healing didn't work to spend more time with his son, bringing down Steven's self-confidence and causing his powers to stop working, his actions are recast as full-blown Jerk Ass. Steven and the Gems forgive him extremely quickly after he apologizes.
  • 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?
  • World of Action Girls: Steven is the Non-Action Guy (at first) of an otherwise all-female species of Magical Girl Warriors. Among the human characters, the two biggest Badass Normals are both girls, Sadie and Connie.
  • Worthy Opponent: Rose Quartz was this to her enemies, apparently.
  • Wrong Name Outburst: In "Sworn to the Sword", Pearl accidentally calls Steven "Rose" during an argument.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are:
    • "On the Run", following Amethyst and Pearl's confrontation in the Kindergarten:
      Pearl: I just never thought of this as you. None of this is your fault! You didn't build this place! I... I'm sorry, Amethyst. I hope you can forgive me. You're the one good thing that came out of this mess. I always thought you were proud of that.
    • In "Sworn to the Sword", after training from Pearl (who has her own self-esteem issues), Connie begins to display the view that as an ordinary human, she's nothing compared to Steven's legacy and power. Steven shuts that down right away, reminding her how they work best as a team, and how much he admires her.
    • In "Friend Ship", after Pearl breaks down and admits that she's dependent on Garnet for strength and that she can't function without someone else telling her what to do, Garnet tells her what she needs to hear:
      Garnet: It's not easy being in control. I have weaknesses too. But I choose not to let them consume me. I struggle to stay strong because I know the impact I have on everyone. Please understand, Pearl. You have an impact too. There are times when I look up to you for strength. You are your own gem. You control your destiny. Not me, not Rose, not Steven. But you must choose to be strong, so we can move forward. So I can trust you again.
  • 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?
  • You Should Have Died Instead:
    • No one dies in in "Horror Club", but after Sadie is taken by the possessed lighthouse, Ronaldo blames Lars and says that it should've been him.
    • "Rose's Scabbard" heavily implies that, even though Pearl loves Steven with all her heart and would sooner die than see any harm come to him, there's still some part of her deep down that resents him for being born and taking Rose away from her. The saddest part? Steven is completely aware of this.
    • In general averted. Although there is the hanging truth that Rose would be here if not for Steven, none of the gems, or Greg, treat him this way, instead looking at him as the continuation of Rose.