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Alternative Character Interpretation / Steven Universe

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Steven Universe is a complex show with complex characters. As such, different interpretations of said characters are common.

  • Is Greg a better parent than the Gems themselves? On the one hand, he's somewhat of a slacker, living in his van which is perpetually full of junk, seemingly misplacing as many things as he finds, can be forgetful at times, and it's somewhat unclear that despite being a human himself, he'd give Steven a proper education and upbringing. On the other, he definitely gets serious whenever Steven is facing a problem or life-threatening situation, and is otherwise a fun-loving, supportive good parent. Episodes such as "Laser Light Cannon", "Cat Fingers", "Ocean Gem", "Space Race", "The Message", etc, show that Greg is actually quite competent in 'normal' matters, even if he's all too aware of how out of his depth he is at magical things. Not to mention he lives in a van because they essentially kicked him out of the house he built for his dead wife and child. He even gives the Crystal Gems a small What the Hell, Hero? when he points out that they "never give up on anything, except for [him]". It's been later revealed that Greg took care of Steven as a baby and the Gems took custody of him as he got older, and that even now Greg is the one paying for all of Steven's living expenses, raising further question of who should be living with whom.
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  • Lapis Lazuli. Was she a threat that could've seriously hurt everyone around her? Or was she just a homesick Gem that was just severely injured and didn't want to be on the planet anymore? After the events of "The Return/Jailbreak" and beyond, is her willingness to sacrifice her freedom, and even her identity for Steven the result of Steven's personality making her a better person? Or is she doing this purely for his sake, and couldn't care less about her home planet, the Earth, other Gems both Crystal and otherwise, and even herself? While anger about her being captured and tormented by Jasper was part of it, after defusing, Lapis seems to have done it for Steven's sake and her own self-destructive issues.
  • After "Coach Steven", Sugilite's character has been subject to some amount of interpretations. Is her personality a result of Garnet and Amethyst's mindsets at the moment of fusion, or is it a reasonable mixture of their own distinct traits? Was it an example of the Ruby and Amethyst parts of her just getting wildly out-of-control? Was her lashing out at Pearl an indication that the amount of time she spent fused was causing her to go out of control, or was she justifiably hurt that Pearl left her behind?
    • With later revelations that Amethyst was meant to be twice as big and much more intimidating than she is right now (she's a runt because she apparently 'birthed' 500 years too late), and Sugilite being unconventionally larger than other fusions, could Sugilite's size and attitude be a manifestation of Amethyst's true form/potential? Garnet herself believes their mindsets at the time coupled with both of them having aggressive tendencies was a reckless idea in hindsight.
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  • The exact relationship between Amethyst and Greg as shown in "Maximum Capacity". Was Amethyst's reaction in this episode akin to a child who's working through the grief of her mother-figure getting into a new relationship and then dying? Or, as another fan contingent suggests, was there also something romantic/sexual going on between the two of them? Similarly, the fandom is also split between those who feel that despite her cruel actions in the episode, Amethyst was still sympathetic considering her back-story (and apology), and those who felt she crossed a line.
  • "Rose's Scabbard" has shed new light on Pearl. Was her relationship with Rose an adoring kind of Hero Worship? Was Pearl the Gem equivalent of a stalker who wanted to know all of Rose's secrets? Or was their relationship something a little less platonic? "Sworn to the Sword" certainly brought up even more questions on the exact nature of Rose and Pearl's relationship especially after its implied that Pearl is significantly younger than Rose. There is also the possibility that Pearl's devotion to Rose was rather unhealthy, for Pearl herself most of all. Both of these implications might explain why Rose kept some distance between herself and Pearl. Matt Burnett has confirmed on his Twitter that Pearl's feelings were not platonic. This answers one question, but the debate over whether Rose herself saw her as a lover or friend still leaves the matter open to multiple interpretations.
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  • Could many of Pearl's character traits be the result of being (the Gem equivalent of) autistic? She displays numerous traits typically associated with Asperger Syndrome in particular: taking hyperbole, sarcasm, and humor literally (e.g: Steven's "Butter-fly" joke); an inability to pick up on social cues, difficulties empathizing with those she doesn't have a close connection with (i.e: most humans), being ultra-logical most of the time but highly anxious and emotional in stressful situations, and trouble understanding other people's perspectives - such as Amethyst's in "On the Run". Given that the other Gems can seem to glean a basic understanding of earth and its inhabitants, Pearl's behavior may not be explainable by reference to her outsider status alone. Many autistic SU fans see Pearl as autistic or the Gem version thereof.
  • "We Need to Talk" shows Rose having an alien mindset, laughing hysterically at Greg when he asks her if she takes him seriously but moments later being put-off when he laughs at her and then starts crying, completely ignoring Pearl's jealousy and anxiety, singing about how she likes "playing along" with humans, and implying she's had human lovers (and possibly something with Pearl) but had no idea what being "in love" is like.
  • "Catch and Release" reveals that rather than being a flat-out antagonist, Peridot truly thinks of the Crystal Gems as traitors and expresses fear of them, to the point where she assumes every mundane object they own is a weapon they could use to harm her. She even refers to Garnet as a "filthy war machine" as part of her indoctrination regarding Homeworld's taboo against inter-Gem fusion. Peridot may be a sort of metaphor for autism. Blunt, literal, issues understanding other people's feelings, thinks normal things are weird, she even fits into the another planet metaphor.
  • As of "Alone at Sea", Jasper is seen as either like a drug or sex addict regarding Fusion, a masochist desperate to be under Lapis' power, or even not changed at all and putting on an act to try to make Lapis still feel like the one at fault.
  • Because of the shows propensity to deftly move up and down the Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness on a regular basis, the behavior and attitudes of several characters have been subject to rigorous debate.
    • Pearl and Amethyst's amusement at humans' short lifespans: are the Gems really an advanced race of warriors, or just a group of Smug Super thugs and that Lapis may have had a point in her argument? Or alternatively, are the Crystal Gems simply Noble Bigots in comparison to the rest of the Gem race? Lapis herself seemed to show little regard for the Earth and its inhabitants herself, and the modern Homeworld Gems are if anything, even worse. The end result appears to be that as insensitive and unintentionally condescending as they can be, they've grown to genuinely believe in protecting Earth and is the best defense humanity has.
    • Connie's parents? Decent parents or, in the case of Connie's mom, a full blown Jerkass Abusive Parent? Dr. Maheswaran (Connie's mom) is the more divisive of the two Maheswaran parents; whether she's Good Parents, an Abusive Parent or just My Beloved Smother, is extremely debatable. She appears to be some degree of overprotective of Connie, even forbidding her from watching a medical television show for being unrealistic, and comes down very hard on her when she learns Connie lied to her about Steven's family. She refers to Greg's "because we love you" explanation as a "shut-down" and compliments it as such, which strikes some viewers as a red flag. However, she also isn't as close-minded as Connie seems to think, as she was rather quick to form a rapport with the Crystal Gems (over their decision to harshly punish Steven). "Nightmare Hospital" suggests she wasn't aware of the damage she was doing to her daughter, and thought since Connie wasn't talking about her feelings meant she was doing her job as a protective mother. She's resolved to push back on her rules and is trying to keep an open mind when it comes to Connie's adventures with the Crystal Gems. Just so long as Connie is honest with her.
    • Sadie. Misunderstood teenager with a crush, or a Yandere who goes to excessive and even cruel lengths to get back at Lars for simple pettiness? Or somewhere in between, as a cheerful if somewhat obsessive girl that although sometimes cruel to a guy that's more than cruel to her back, still is a positive influence?
    • Lars. Jerk with a Heart of Gold who really does care about Sadie, or Jerk with a Heart of Jerk who likes to toy around with her feelings for him, and is only jealous when she spends time with Ronaldo because she's paying attention to someone who isn't him? Or maybe he's just one really screwed up kid with attachment issues.
    • Is Ronaldo a jerk who would risk the safety of Beach City for his conspiracy theories, or are his conspiracy theories all he has as a coping mechanism for being friendless?
    • "It Could've Been Great" raises another very interesting possibility: that Ronaldo is aware that he alone knows the truth about the world and all that it entails, because in point of fact, he does: his theory about "Polymorphic rocks that follow the Diamond Authority and plan to hollow out the earth" is fact. He also indirectly stumbled on to the not entirely inaccurate conclusion that the Gems bring most of Beach City's problems with them.
    • After "Hit the Diamond", some fans suspect being permanently Fused is actually a quite unhealthy way for Gems to live, as Ruby and Sapphire seem utterly starved for each other's attention and can't stop themselves from aggressively flirting even as it risks them being discovered by Homeworld Gems. It doesn't help that in Alone At Sea, Jasper has become addicted to the power-high that fusion brings, and is desperate to re-fused with Lapis. This is the same Jasper who detested fusion and would have never even lowered her eyes to that of another Gem, much less get on her knees and beg.
    • Are the people of Beach City Apathetic Citizens that don't really care about the Gems or are they Conditioned to Accept Horror while quietly resenting the Gems for the trouble they bring? "Rising Tides/Crashing Skies" shows the people largely unconcerned about the invasion by Homeworld but other episodes imply that they don't like the Gems for the trouble that happens around town.
    • Is Ronaldo actually as socially incompetent as he appears or does he have an average off-screen social life? While his Conspiracy Theorist antics seem to isolate he is seen to travel in some of the same circles as the Cool Kids when "off the clock" and can even rope others into his plots at times. "Restaurant Wars" also shows him as the first teenager on the show to actually have a girlfriend, implying that he's more social savvy than he lets on.
  • Jasper's had a Draco in Leather Pants reputation in the fandom for a while, but "Earthlings" is the first episode to show her in a somewhat sympathetic light. She's desperate to find some semblance of control on a planet she despises, all of her Corrupted Gem "army" heads for the hills once they get out, she gets beaten by a Fusion again, and then resorts to Fusing with one of the Corrupted Gems just to try and get a leg up only to start Corrupting after they de-Fuse. Just to add the cherry on the world's shittiest sundae for her, she is only as adamant about fighting "Rose" as she is because of something Rose did to Jasper's original Diamond, Pink Diamond. So, is she still an Ax-Crazy warrior bent on unjustified revenge against someone that doesn't exist anymore, or is Jasper another victim of Homeworld's Social Darwinism with a legitimate beef against Rose Quartz that she'll never get to resolve?
    • Some fans interpret Jasper's confused reaction to Steven's ignorance about Pink Diamond as her finally realizing seconds before being corrupted that Steven really isn't Rose.
  • Mystery Girl's lack of any lines (that we can hear, at least) is a natural well for fans to project any kind of personality they want onto her (and how similar or not she is to Rose besides her looks).
  • Pink Diamond. Some theories/fanfics centered around her interpret her as a Token Good Teammate for the Diamond Authority, for instance using a theory that Gems with their gem located on their navel tend to display caring and loving personalities and have a fascination towards life (like Rose Quartz herself). However, there isn't a lot of information about her, and Garnet said she would've never stopped until Earth was turned into a colony. So, was she an Asshole Victim and an Evil Overlord? A Lighter Shade of Black compared to her fellow Diamonds? An Affably Evil Token Good Teammate?
    • If the existence of the human zoo and what Blue Diamond said about her are any indication, it seems she was fond of humans, much like Rose Quartz. However, while Rose wished for humans to live freely on their own planet, Pink most likely saw them as interesting animals that should be safely kept in a zoo, while she turns their homeworld into her colony.
    • With the reveal that she might not have been killed by Rose Quartz and might in fact have been offed by another Diamond, it seems likely that the argument for her being a Token Good Teammate (or at least with an agenda at odds with the rest of Homeworld) is solidified.
    • The episode "Jungle Moon" depicts Pink as a Cheerful Child who only wanted to prove herself worthy of being a Diamond, further implying that she was the Token Good Teammate of the Diamond authority after all.
  • Navy's betrayal in "Room for Ruby"; were her actions the reveal of her true personality of being a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing? Or was she simply reacting to how Steven and the Crystal Gems had not only duped her twice, but left her and her team lost in space with no sign they were ever going to be rescued? If the latter, her serene reaction to revealing her betrayal may be pride in that she finally managed to pull one over on her enemies who had tricked her and her comrades so many times before.
  • It's almost always believed that Lapis and Jasper's relationship is a metaphor for Domestic Abuse and toxic relationships. What the fanbase can't make a consensus on, however, is who the abuser and victim are. Was the abuser Lapis, Jasper, or were they both victims and abusers in their relationship? There are arguments for each of the options.
  • The ending theme, "Love Like You", has stumped fans. It's so ambiguous that it can be about almost any character singing to another character. Just who is singing the song and to who they are singing it to has created a multitude of theories. Some of the most popular include Lapis singing to Steven and Rose singing to Greg.
  • Rose is a Posthumous Character who we've only seen through the eyes of people who deeply love her and often put her on a pedestal. Whether she truly was as sweet as she seems has been discussed by fans to bits. Some think she secretly had a dark side, while others think she had a Dark and Troubled Past and tried to atone for it by being a Friend to All Living Things.
  • Fans have noted that Lapis' personality is inconsistent from episode-to-episode compared to other characters. Is this just an example of Depending on the Writer, or is her fluctuating behavior a result of the trauma she's been through?
  • There is a growing suspicion among the fans that Lars is actually a pre-op female-to-male transgender kid. Cited as evidence is that some shots appear to show him with small breasts (especially a close-up in "Coach Steven" where he's doing push-ups), it's unclear where exactly in such an open-minded town as Beach City he would have picked up such an exaggerated idea of what masculinity entails unless he was overcompensating for his assigned birth gender, his panic at being asked to take his shirt off in "Lars and the Cool Kids", and the scenes with his parents in "The New Lars" possibly being seen as them accidentally dead-naming him with his birth name Laramie. Another similar interpretation is that Lars is a trans boy but went on hormone blockers prior to hitting puberty (or early into puberty). He doesn't have breasts but still has a lot of anxiety over his chest.
  • As of "The Trial," several things about Pink Diamond's murder and those involved have been called into question.
    • Was Rose framed, and did she willingly take the fall? Or was she truly responsible? If she was, did she receive some inside help?
    • Yellow Diamond, at the trial, showcased a desire to get the whole thing over with, and lashed out at the Zircons when Blue Zircon presented the possibility of one of the Diamonds having a role in Pink's murder. Was Yellow truly responsible and trying to cover it up, or did she simply want to get the procedure over with and lashed out due to rage over being accused?
    • Adding to the above point, it could've also possibly been White Diamond. Considering we have not seen her as of yet, and she didn't even come to the trial, that might highlight how little she cares for the other Diamonds. Yellow's lashing out could be possible panic because she might've witnessed White shattering Pink and was keeping it a secret. The reason for why she'd keep it a secret would be because either: she did not want discord among the Diamonds which could cause possible in-fighting since Homeworld was already getting pressured by the rebellion; or simply because like Blue and how they both felt for Pink, she simply cannot betray White and cause Blue more pain at realizing what happened. Or it's possible White threatened Yellow - considering how White has the most planets and moons on her mural, she's possibly the strongest and most authoritative out of the Diamonds, so it's plausible.
    • There are still two major holes to all of these: Eyeball's eyewitness account that Rose did it, and Pearl and Garnet very much giving the impression that they at least fully believe it themselves. But fans are still finding ways around these: it could be that given the Ruby Squad's general incompetence, Eyeball's story isn't reliable, and that Rose let the other Crystal Gems think she did it for some reason.
    • It doesn't help that Eyeball claims it was Rose's sword that she remembers, and Blue Diamond claims it was a sword that shattered Pink Diamond, when we know via Bismuth that Rose's sword was incapable of shattering a Gem. Not to mention, if Rose had already had a weapon that could shatter a Diamond, there would've been no reason for Bismuth to make the Breaking Point.
    • Eventually all is explained: Pink Diamond faked her death to become Rose, with Pearl (who was actually her own) shape-shifted into Rose to do the deed, hence why Eyeball thinks it was her. Garnet and Amethyst legitimately thought it was true as well, since Pink's last order was for Pearl to never tell anyone about it.
  • While nobody denies that Aquamarine is bad news, her actions at the end of "Stuck Together" are open to interpretation. After reminding Topaz that the Diamonds would shatter her for betraying her, she offers to forget the whole mutiny as long as Topaz falls back into line. Was this just another attempt to cow Topaz into submission, or a legitimate Pet the Dog moment? It would probably be less debated were it not for the delivery of her letting Topaz off, with a noticeably tired, distinctly not angered or otherwise nasty tone and expression that stands out considerably compared to everything seen of her up to that point.
  • Homeworld's distaste for intergem Fusion has been debated for a while. Some fans assume it's because Fusion was meant to only be for battle, so it's strange for Gems to want to Fuse otherwise (as expressed by Peridot), or that it is an affront to their purpose as given by the Diamonds (insinuated by Jasper). However, with the release of Save The Light, a new character is introduced, Hessonite... as in Hessonite Garnet, a naturally occurring single-Gem Garnet. If one assumes that other known Fusions (such as Opal, Sugilite, Sardonyx, etc.) may have single-Gem versions on Homeworld, intergem Fusion may instead be an issue of strict elitism and classism; weaker Gems Fusing and masquerading as rare and/or high authority Gems to the offense of the single Gems of the type, who are in a position of power to express their anger through laws and punishment against such acts. This could be shown in "The Answer", after Ruby and Sapphire Fuse for the first time, as only Ruby was going to be shattered for it. Sapphire, who is already an aristocratic Gem and not considered "lesser", was seemingly going to receive no punishment for Fusing with Ruby.
  • With The Reveal that Rose Quartz is Pink Diamond, a lot of her previous characterisation could be seen in a new light. Was she really that compassionate in the first place, or was she a lying, selfish sociopath who caused millenia worth of pain and suffering simply to escape her problems?
    • Was Pink Diamond the real Rose Quartz all along, or was there an actual rebel Rose who she replaced at some point? Though, the information we currently have suggests the former.
    • Related to the twist, just how much is Pearl her own gem, seeing as she's still utterly devoted to her former owner and carrying out her wishes?
      • Additionally, did she share Pink/Rose's love for the Earth and its inhabitans, or was she just a Pearl following her Diamond? Joe Johnston's Tumblr post suggests it's a little of both.
    • That said, this video indicates that she did try to cultivate Pearl's degree of autonomy through language.
    • To muddy the waters even further, how much of what we saw in that episode what really happened? This is Steven watching Pearl's memories and we know that Pearl believes herself to be Rose's true love. It is entirely possible that many of Rose's statements didn't have the loving tone that we see in the episode... but Pearl REMEMBERS it like that. As such, it is entirely possible that Rose actually talked to Pearl in the same way she would Garnet or any other gem but Pearl's own feelings caused her to twist Rose's words into declarations of love.
    • A more minor one: Is Smoky Quartz actually the proper name for Steven and Amethyst's fusion, since it's specifically said to be the name for a fusion of Rose Quartz and Amethyst? The same goes for Rainbow Quartz.
    • After getting the full story in "Now We're Only Falling Apart," there's a theory that Pink/Rose never reciprocated Pearl's obvious feelings for her because she was well aware of the power imbalance between them and worried that it was only the adoration all Pearls are supposed to have for their owners rather than genuine love, which she'd never been comfortable with in the first place. But at the same time, she couldn't explain this to Pearl because it would conflict with her desire to see Pearl make her own autonomous choices.
  • In "Together Alone", Steven and Connie accidently fuse into Stevonnie again, right in front of the Diamonds. Garnet, Opal and a Jade Fusion jump to their defense, only to get poofed by Yellow. Was this the moment where the Diamonds finally snapped after repressing their prejudices against fusion for Pink's sake? Or were they simply trying to protect Pink from White's wrath?
  • The Movie definitely leaves room for ambiguity:
    • Pink Diamond's abandonment of Spinel. It's very unclear just why she did so, especially given how uncharacteristically cold it would be of her given her Benevolent Boss behavior. Did Pink simply outgrow their playtime and didn't know how to break this to Spinel? Was their playtime the refuge from sadness that Spinel described it as but was starting to see diminishing returns and Pink couldn't bring herself to say so? Did Pink try to explain things to her only for Spinel to not comprehend what she was saying? Was it an extension of some of her immaturity at the time that was a result of coming before Pink's Character Development? Was Pink trying to act like the other Diamonds in leaving Spinel behind? Did Spinel already have some Yandere traits and Pink chose a method that would stave off any real trouble? Did Pink honestly intend to return for Spinel but couldn't because of everything that happened? Did Pink believe that Spinel would be taken care of by the other Diamonds and reassigned or some such so she didn't consider it an issue? Word of God from an interview about just why Pink did this has it as a mix of Spinel growing overwhelming for her to handle, Pink herself trying to move forward and outgrowing Spinel, and Pink just not considering how Spinel would react to everything with a dose of Didn't Think This Through in how she handled things.
    • Spinel hitting the Despair Event Horizon. While it's pretty clear cut that Pink's abandonment is responsible for her losing it, is it just from the act? Or is it that Spinel would have gone mad under any circumstance that kept Pink away for long enough because of how her gem type is hardwired? Or is it that Spinel is a standard representative of her gem type but had Yandere tendencies as an anomaly that would have boiled over no matter what? Could it have been a result of her gem type simply not being able to process the emotions she felt because they're made for fun and joy and the contradiction drove her mad? That she actively wanted revenge on Pink Diamond for abandoning her stands out given that Homeworld Gems don't have an easy time shrugging off their "default settings". Lapis was put in a horrific And I Must Scream situation by Homeworld and still chose to blame and lash out at the Crystal Gems rather than put the blame on Homeworld itself so Spinel choosing by herself to turn against her former Diamond definitely raises some questions.
    • Also of note is Spinel continuing to laugh after Steven hits her with The Rejuvenator. Was she just so far gone at that point that she didn't realise or care that all her memories would be wiped and the person she is now would be essentially dead? Did she not care because her revenge plan has seemingly succeeded and it just didn't matter to her what happened afterwards? Or was that part of Spinel's plan all along? If so, was it just because being reset conveniently meant Steven couldn't get any information out of her that would help him undo her plan or was it because she didn't want to continue on like she was and/or atleast part of her knew she hated what she's become and wants to go back to who she was before she was driven to villainy? This is supported by her Villainous Breakdown.
    • Also involving Spinel's actions, late into the film she is holding Steven several hundred feet above ground that's covered in a sea of her injector's poison, he can't do anything to stop her from dropping him, and she's made it clear that she intends to kill him. But instead of capitalizing on this opportunity immediately, she decides to savor the moment and gloat until he realizes (partially thanks to her own words) what he needed to regain his powers, before dropping him now that he's able to save himself. Was this just typical Bond Villain Stupidity or was it the part of her deep down that didn't want to hurt Steven causing her to hesitate, as again, supported by her Villainous Breakdown in the ensuing confrontation.
  • After the series ended with Peridot never once fusing with anyone despite some teasing early on, some fans starting seeing her as asexual.


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