Steven and the Gems celebrate Little Homeschool's first graduating class, but his fears of growing apart from his friends threaten the festivities.
- Aesop Amnesia: Steven's lessons during the movie about accepting change start to crumble when he learns Sadie and Lars didn't become a couple and are going away from Beach City.
- Amicable Exes: Downplayed in the sense that the ship never set sail, but during one of the time skips, Lars and Sadie talked through not being able to connect enough to become a couple, but remained on good terms.
- Armor-Piercing Question: As Lars walks off after seeing Shep and Sadie together, Steven asks if Lars is okay. Lars states he's fine, before asking Steven the same thing, causing Steven to pause.
- Bi the Way: This episode reveals that Sadie is pansexual via her romantic relationship with the non-binary Shep.
- Can't Stay Normal: Lars has decided to leave his pastry shop to Blue Lace Agate so he can return to space with the Off Colors. Seems that after almost three years back on Earth and building a normal life for himself, he began to miss being Lars of the Stars.
- Cerebus Call Back: "Island Adventure" had a throwaway joke that Steven didn't fully understand private boundaries because people come and go through his room all the time. Here this gap in socializing him on privacy has more dramatic consequences when he freaks out at the normal level of privacy people have for personal problems.
- Continuity Nod: Steven mentions to Shep "they say you don't really know someone until you've been stranded on an island with them".
- Creator Recovery: After sorting out her issues and getting together with Shep, Sadie's music takes a turn for the much more optimistic. It's likely one reason Sadie Killer and the Suspects broke up.
- Crazy-Prepared: Steven asks for a copy of Shep and Sadie's music on cassette tape of all thing, which they provide immediately.
- Deadly Force Field: Steven accidentally creates a shield around everyone at the graduation that cuts the stage in half and then begins contracting, nearly crushing everyone.
- Double-Meaning Title: "Little Graduation" can mean both the Off Colors' matriculation from Little Homeschool, and the shrinking of Steven's Deadly Force Field bringing his older teenage friends together for the last time before Sadie, Lars, Buck and Sour Cream depart from Beach City for bigger things.
- Expository Hairstyle Change: Sadie stopped dyeing her hair and put it up in a ponytail. It, along with her lighter-colored clothing, reflects how her life and musical styling have changed since Sadie Killer and the Suspects broke up.
- The Fellowship Has Ended: The Suspects break up to pursue their own interests. Sadie and Sour Cream are still musically inclined as Sadie plans to continue her life on tour with Shep and Sour Cream has begun regularly deejaying in Empire City, while Buck prepares to go to medical school elsewhere, and Jenny stays behind to focus more on growing her online phone case business.
- Higher Education Is for Women: Inverted with Buck, who has decided to go to medical school to become a doctor and is the only one of the Suspects who is pursuing a job that requires postsecondary education.
- Hypocrite: In "Snow Day", Steven makes a deal about maturing and moving on, but this episode shows that, out of all characters, he is the one struggling the most with adjusting to the changes occurring around him.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: While things are still a little awkward on Lars's end, he never shows any resentment to Sadie entering a relationship with someone else, and even shows them a lot of support. It's actually Steven who takes it hard.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The entire series is from Steven's point of view. Thus, he's caught quite off guard to realize things actually do happen when he's not around.
- Literal Metaphor: Steven is advised that if he keeps holding onto to his friends so tight, he'll suffocate them... literally, in this case.
- Never My Fault: Despite trapping everyone in a shrinking shield and trying to dodge the fact it's Steven's emotions (and not Lars's as he had tried to blame) causing the whole problem, when pointed out it's his doing, Steven can only snark it's not him.
- Noodle Incident: Somehow, being trapped in a slowly shrinking force field isn't the worst party Jenny's been to.
- Not Now, Kiddo: Inverted. Steven pushes away Shep as they try to tell Steven what's really been bothering him.
- Offscreen Breakup: Since Lars returned to Earth, he and Sadie didn't break up so much as stop trying to connect romantically and move on. Steven (and by extension the audience) only find out months after Sadie starts dating someone else, and doesn't take this well—which may have been why they never mentioned it to him.
- Offscreen Inertia: Defied. Steven assumes that Lars and Sadie haven't been talking enough since the former returned to Earth, and that this lack of communication was the reason Sadie moved on and Lars wants to leave the planet again. However, it turns out that they had already spoken honestly and amicably about their feelings on several occasions — they just did so without Steven's micromanagement.Steven: When did this happen?! I didn't see any of this!
Sadie: That's because it was private.
- Overly Long Hug: Before Lars heads off, Steven gives him a Man Hug that last longer than Lars expected, and keeps going as the scene changes.Lars: ... Are you gonna let me go anytime soon?
Steven: Just a couple more minutes.
- Please Don't Leave Me: Steven is so desperate for his friends not to leave that he unwittingly traps them in a shrinking dome.
- Power Incontinence: Steven has so much trouble dealing with all the changes coming at him at once (Lars and Sadie not getting together, Sadie Killer and the Suspects breaking up, Lars and the Off Colors leaving again) that he goes Pink and tries to hold onto them by creating a force field that nearly crushes them all.
- Put on a Bus: Lars and the Off Colors return to space to explore and meet new people across the universe—though, as Lars points out, Steven could visit him pretty trivially.
- Reality Ensues:
- Lars and Sadie have gone through a wonderful deal of Character Development, and were reunited at the fifth season's finale. However, after so many years of their up-and-down relationship and time to become new people, they both failed to reconnect and decided they were better off apart.
- Just because Steven wasn't around to witness certain events doesn't mean they didn't happen. Nor does it mean that Steven is entitled to know about said events. Sadie point blank tells him that her and Lars going their separate ways was a private matter. Him being the main character doesn't mean that the lives of others revolve solely around him.
- Ship Sinking: We learn Lars and Sadie concluded they'll never get together, and Sadie has moved onto a new partner called Shep.
- Suspiciously Apropos Music: Sadie's new song is about personal change and looking ahead towards the future instead of longing for the past or trying to preserve the present, which Steven is having problems doing.
- Swapped Roles: Breaking the trend from past Lars-focused issues, it's actually Steven who's guilty of bottling up his conflicted emotions, with the former trying to talk him through it. Steven is upset that all of his friends are now growing up and going their separate ways. Plus, Steven hugging Lars for his help at the end is a reversal on how Lars hugged Steven for all of his in "Lars' Head".
- They're Called "Personal Issues" for a Reason: Sadie and Lars never mentioned to Steven that they tried to make things work out between them before giving up, which Sadie defends as not really being Steven's business.
- Wham Line: Steven learning the hard way that his ship has sunk.Sadie: Shep is just the best. I can't believe I've been dating them for two months!