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  • 555:
    • Fish Stew Pizza's phone number is 443-555-0156, as shown in "Keeping It Together".
    • Mystery Girl's number is 301-555-0189. In real life, the 301 area code covers part of Maryland, though not the part on the Delmarva peninsula.
    • In “A Single Pale Rose” we see a lot more phone numbers Pearl has stashed away, all of which include 555.
  • Abandoned Hospital: Invoked in "Nightmare Hospital" when Steven thinks the lack of staff and the lights not working means it must be one of these. Connie explains that they've just turned down the lights for nighttime patients, and a few doctors can be seen and heard, averting the trope.
  • Aborted Arc: A subplot involving Greg making a new album, "Water Witch," is dropped without comment after the first season.
  • Accidental Pun: Sugilite, whose name sounds similar to "suggilate" (to beat until bruised), is an aggressive Fusion who loves to smash.
  • Acquired Poison Immunity: Lapis has suffered so much in her life that Blue Diamond's Emotion Bomb barely affects her. Since gems cry at different amounts when exposed to it, it could indicate how much a gem has suffered in the past.
  • Acrofatic:
    • Steven can hoof it when he needs to, and his dexterity doesn't suffer much either. He lampshades this by reassembling his Together Breakfast after it flies through the air by catching each piece one by one back on the plate.
    Steven: SKILLS!
    • Over time, Steven also becomes more and more capable with fighting, furthering this trope.
    • Smoky Quartz is this in spades. Being thick and round-bodied due to their status as a Fusion of the chunky Steven and stocky Amethyst doesn't stop them from running and jumping rings around Jasper in a fight.
  • Acting Unnatural:
    • In "Hit the Diamond", Ruby's idea of 'acting natural' involves holding herself stiffly, sweatdrops, and Suspiciously Specific Denials. It's a good thing the Gems she's trying to fool are all Super Gullible.
    • In "The New Lars", Steven finds his mind is in Lars' body and walks around town acting like himself, but everyone likes the new Lars so much that they don't care.
  • Action Girl:
    • Most Gems would qualify, as they're Nigh-Invulnerable intergalactic conquerors that although synthetic, refer to and take the forms of human females.
    • 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.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • In "The Message" Greg paraphrases the song "Video Killed the Radio Star" as "video killed the audio star". Tom Scharpling primarily is a radio star, but eventually changed his show to be a podcast.
    • This wouldn’t be the first time that Kimberly Brooks voices a hot-headed, buff, proud warrior alien female with a strange code of honor from a Cartoon Network show.
    • When Garnet and Greg dig through record crates in "Steven's Birthday", he pulls out a record and grins at her, with the cover clearly being that of Estelle's album, Shine. She shoves her hand in his face.
    • Connie's mother, Dr. Maheswaran, has the hospital where she works become infested with shambling Gem monsters that attack her in "Nightmare Hospital". Dr. Maheswaran's voice actress, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, has done extensive vocal work for the Silent Hill franchise.
    • When Steven's uncle Andy first shows up, he wants the Gems off his property and to stop wrecking his stuff. Andy's voiced by Dave Willis, who had already gone through this sort of thing as Carl Brutananadilewski.
    • Marty, who antagonizes Greg in "Story for Steven", is voiced by Jon Wurster, who antagonizes Tom Scharpling on The Best Show.
  • Adopt-a-Servant: The Show Within a Show Lil' Butler is about a wealthy family who find and adopt a baby butler (complete with mustache and suit)
  • Adults Are Useless: Averted in most cases, except for one: 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.
  • Advanced Civilization, Hollow Imagination: Each Gem in the empire is created for a specific utilitarian purpose and is not allowed to deviate in any way. The only forms of art allowed are those that venerate the civilization's rulers, reinforcing the status quo. The opportunity for self-expression is one of the reasons Gems were drawn to Rose Quartz's rebellion.
  • Aerith and Bob:
    • The Gems are all named after gemstones, so you can get some very common human names (Pearl, Ruby), less popular but not unheard of names (Opal, Jasper), or unusual-sounding gems that aren't even that well known outside gemology circles (Sugilite, Peridot, Sardonyx, Amethyst).
    • The humans have mostly normal names like Greg, Steven, or Connie, including some foreign ones like Kofi. There are some exceptions, though: one family has onion-themed names (Onion, Sour Cream, and Vidalia), Fryman's youngest son is named Peedee.
  • All Gravity Is the Same: When Steven visits other planets, they typically have the same gravity as Earth. However, an exception was made when he went to Earth's Moon, as he bounced around while the Gem's bodies automatically adjusted for the lessened gravity.
  • An Aesop: The show's overall messages is that all of Earth's living creatures are important and deserve love. There are also several episode-specific ones.
    • "Love Letters": You shouldn't blindly pursue a relationship with someone you don't know. "We Need to Talk" goes into this as well, exploring the first steps in Rose and Greg's relationship.
      • 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 may take time to get over and you're within your rights to express how you feel. Expressing those feelings to the point of excusing bad behavior isn't right, but nor is suppressing them for the sake of defusing arguments, even if it's with a good intention at heart.
    • "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.
    • Because fusion is depicted as a transparent metaphor for relationships, including (but not limited to) romantic ones, each episode in which it occurs stresses the message of consent always, always always being 100% important.
      • In the case of Malachite, it includes abusive relationships as well.
    • 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 defying 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 and reincarnation of Rose Quartz. Since Pearl loved Rose, and all of the Crystal Gems idolized her and looked to her for leadership and emotional support, this leads to Steven feeling huge amounts of pressure and responsibility and wondering where his mother ends and where he begins. Pearl has even called Steven by his mother's name several times, and Jasper can't even grasp that there is a difference. Worse still, by Gem biology standards, she's not wrong.
      • Amethyst is the product of a horrific project, the goal of which was to birth more gems by killing all life on Earth, and which was the entire reason for Rose Quartz's rebellion. She believes that the others, especially Pearl, consider her 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 revelations in "Too Far" that gems of Amethyst's typenote  are supposed to be much larger and more physically powerful and that in the caste system of Homeworld, Amethyst would technically outrank both Pearl and Garnet, don'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.
      • Steven is a very unique being, the combination of a Gem and a human. This complicates things for him because he encounters new experiences, and none of his parental figures have all the answers. In "The Test" the Gems have to accept that they don't have all the answers, and Steven has to accept that they are doing their best in spite of this. This resonates with a lot of children who are different from their parents (from simple things like different life goals, to complex things like autism or being an LGBTQ+ member) and their parents might not have enough personal experience to help them out as much as they'd like, but they are still trying.
    • 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.
    Pearl: How do you know William Dewey?
    Steven: I'm gonna be him in this play! But he's totally boring! He's perfect and he never makes mistakes.
    Pearl: Wish I could say the same for myself...
    Steven: Yeah, but nobody's like that! Everybody gets stuff wrong, and then you have to keep going and it's hard, which is why it's great when you never stop trying!
    • A rather dark aesop happens in "Room for Ruby," when Navy—the gentlest and most girly of the five Rubies—makes her way back to Earth and reaches out to Steven, wanting to join the Crystal Gems and live on Earth. Throughout the episode, Lapis is mistrustful of how Navy seems so cheery and unbothered by previous events and how different Earth is from Homeworld. Sure enough, it turned out to be a ruse just to get to the Rubies' ship, which she then commandeers. Steven points out that she could have just stolen the ship from the start, but Navy cruelly responds that gaining Steven's friendship and then hurting him was more fun, then she dumps Steven, Lapis, and Peridot into the ocean and flies off. The moral? Be wary of people who are a little too easygoing and eager to please and a little too perfect in how they gain your friendship. There's always a chance they might have ulterior motives.
    • The aesop of "Can't Go Back" is to be careful what you wish for. Pink Diamond once wanted nothing more than her own colony, but upon receiving governorship of Earth, discovered that colonization comes with terrible moral implications. Another aesop is that people change over time and may outgrow the dreams they had in the past.
    • "A Single Pale Rose" features several aesops. One's actions, no matter how noble, may still have unintended consequences that hurt others. Also, running away from a bad situation may not necessarily resolve the situation, and could even make it worse.
    • Finally, in The Battle of Heart and Mind we get a point made about perfection which Greg tried to teach us back in season 1. If Every Porkchop Were Perfect We Wouldn't Have Hotdogs.
  • Affably Evil: Navy as it turns out. The rest of the squad sent her on a solo mission to get their ship back from Steven in Room for Ruby. She specifically states that she chose not to just steal the thing, but pretend to be defecting to Steven's side just so she could see him hurt when she stabbed him in the back. The reason she got away with it is that she'd always been pleasant to Steven in their past interactions, and she was still pleasantly smiling while she dumped him into the ocean.
    • Blue Diamond as well, to an extent. Compared to Yellow she is substantially easier to talk to (even having a heart-to-heart conversation with lesser lifeform Greg in her introduction) and has shown herself to be fairly open-minded on several occasions. That being said, she is still a diamond with all the conquest and slavery that entails. A few lines of dialogue in the movie even imply that she might have been in charge of inacting punishments within their empire, which would of course include numerous shatterings during her long life.
    • Pink Diamond would also fall here before her time on Earth changed her perspective on everything. Given that her old role was to arrange parties and lift the spirits of the other diamonds it's probably fair to say that she was always something among the lines of a nice individual, but she also didn't seem to see those beneath her in the heirarchy as anything other than amusements and annoyances. This is perfectly illustrated in the movie where she left Spinel alone and slowly going insane for 6,000 years purely because she had become bored with their games.
  • 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 Never Invented the Wheel: Interactions with Peridot imply that wheels were never invented on Homeworld or became so obsolete as to be forgotten.
    • We also discover that Homeworld never invented art, or at least abstract art, as seen when Peridot and Lapis make their meep morps.
    • Comes into play in "Lars and the Stars". The controls for Lars' Star Skipper are very similar to the controls for a car, therefore they are completely incomprehensible to homeworld gems. Stevonnie, on the other hand, is able to pilot it easily without any training.
  • Alien Space Bats: At some point before humans developed agriculture, the planet was colonized by the Gems, who eventually fought a civil war. This has affected humanity's development, but it's pretty subtle and unclear of how and how much exactly. There are numerous small differences (like Delmarva being a US state instead of just a landform), but then we see a world map drastically altered by the early stages of Hostile Terraforming, even sinking a huge part of what we know today as Russia into the ocean. And yet some points of divergence seem to stem all the way back to Pangaea, which split up differently from how it did in our timeline.
  • Aliens Speaking English: The Crystal Gems can get away with this easily, having been on Earth for thousands of years. Homeworld Gems like Peridot, Lapis Lazuli, Jasper, and Yellow Diamond however, also converse even in private in English. Gems do, however, have their own written language.
  • Allegiance Affirmation:
    • Initially a Homeworld Gem, Lapis Lazuli flip-flops on her exact alignment due to her tumultuous past of being a prisoner of both Homeworld and of the Crystal Gems; while close friends with Crystal Gems Steven and Peridot, she cares deeply for the Homeworld she remembers and is absolutely terrified of being imprisoned again, culminating in her fleeing Earth in the belief the Diamonds are planning an attack. When the Diamonds actually do attack during Reunited, Lapis returns and attacks Blue Diamond, stating that if she's going to be treated like a rebel no matter what she does, she may as well embrace it, officially proclaiming herself to be a Crystal Gem.
      Lapis Lazuli: I couldn't stay away. If they're gonna punish me like a Crystal Gem, I might as well be one.
    • Peridot goes through a similar process. After serving as the show's first recurring threat, she's eventually captured by the Crystal Gems, but Steven senses that she's afraid of something and sets her free. His kindness toward her gradually makes her soften her anti-Earth views, and she agrees to help the Gems stop the Cluster, a superweapon implanted by the Great Diamond Authority to shatter the Earth. Unfortunately, the Gems discover that Peridot is trying to contact Yellow Diamond, her superior—and one of the Homeworld leaders they've been rebelling against for centuries—and suspect the worse. When Peridot does contact Yellow, though, she refuses to give the Crystal Gems up and tries to persuade the Diamond to give up on the plan to destroy Earth. When Yellow stubbornly refuses, Peridot furiously declares her new allegiance:
      Peridot: I can tell you with certainty that there are things on this planet worth protecting!
      Yellow Diamond: What do you know about the Earth?
  • All Gravity Is the Same: When Steven visits other planets, they typically have the same gravity as Earth. However, an exception was made when he went to Earth's Moon, as he bounced around while the Gem's bodies automatically adjusted for the lessened gravity.
  • All Planets Are Earth-Like: Despite gems being able to live and colonize pretty much anywhere, all three other planets Steven has been to were ones humans can inhabit, at least temporarily, by total coincidence:
    • While the Gem Homeworld has no food and very little water (since Gems don't need them), the air is still breathable, temperatures are humanly tolerable, and gravity is not noticeably different than Earth's surface.
    • In "Jungle Moon", Stevonnie randomly lands on a moon where they're able to breathe the air and eat the lifeforms for sustenance. The planet it orbits, which has a thin atmosphere and few oceans (resembling a young Mars), used to support some kind of life, but Yellow Diamond harvested it for gems, leaving behind a mess of debris.
    • "Why So Blue?" has Steven visit another life-supporting planet without any kind of suit, though not by coincidence this time, and he didn't have to eat anything there.
  • 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. Later on, supplementary books such as "Guide to the Crystal Gems", the official Cartoon Network podcast, and interviews with the show staff would shed onto light on background material, character motivations, and more.
  • Alone with the Psycho: A pretty chilling example in "Bubbled." After being sucked out into space with the Rubies, Steven ends up with Eyeball, who upon finding out that she's stuck alone, in space, with Rose Quartz (kinda), draws her dagger and attempts to gouge Steven's gem out of his navel. All throughout the experience, she's giggling psychotically about how she's going to get her own Pearl. While Steven manages to throw her out of his bubble, it's clear he's been traumatized by the experience.
  • Alternate History: The long-term presence of the Gems has greatly altered Earth's history and geography. However, it's been suggested that Earth was somewhat different even before that.
    • 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.
    • 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. Along the same lines, "Keystone Motel" reveals that Pennsylvania, the "Keystone State", is literally called Keystone and nicknamed "The Great State," and "Same Old World" reveals that New Jersey is just "Jersey."
      • 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.
    • 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. "Same Old World" confirms that Empire City is the actual name, and according to Ian Jones-Quartey, it also has elements of Las Vegas and Paris (hence the combined motto "what happens in Empire City never sleeps").
    • Judging from some comments in "Love Letters", the American entertainment industry in this world isn't based in California, it's based in Kansas. Specifically, their version of Kansas City, rather than the state ("Kansas" is apparently not used as a state name, so the city never changed its name).
    • 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.
    • World War II never occurred in this version of history, and America lacks many of our holidays aside from birthdays.
    • The physical geography of Earth's surface has some rather massive differences from reality: Florida is an island instead of a peninsula, while Japan is a peninsula instead of an island. South America and Africa seemed to have split apart differently, giving the former a significantly larger share of land. (Which leads to the odd consequence of the Pizzas (per word of God) being of Ghanaian origin, despite Ghana not being there.) Oceans cut significantly further into southern India, southeastern China, western Australia, and especially northern Asia—the majority of the land taken up by Siberia and Mongolia in real life is part of the Arctic Ocean (if not an ocean in of itself). It's likely some of this came from the early stages of Homeworld's Hostile Terraforming, especially the last one (as there's a gem site right in the middle of said ocean).
    • The Canadian Flag is green and white instead of red and white in the show's universe, as shown in the Canadian Show Within a Show Camp Pining Hearts. It is unclear whether this is true of other flags inspired by St. George's Cross.
    • According to Word of God, this trope is at play on a cosmic scale, with the Gem's galactic empire having drastically altered the entire galaxy over its thousands of years of existence.
  • 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". Even though they were smitten with each other, he'd been getting the impression that she didn't 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.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Crystal Gems. Even Pearl, the lankiest of them, can kick a boulder apart with ease.
  • Ambiguously Absent Parent: Several of the families in Beach City only have one parent shown or mentioned.
    • Peedee and Ronaldo Fryman live with their father, but their mother is never seen nor mentioned. "Joking Victim" had a deleted scene where Mr. Fryman compared Peedee to his mother, but even that doesn't specify where she is now.
    • Same applies to Jenny and Kiki Pizza, who live with their father and paternal grandmother.
    • Sadie Miller's overbearing mother Barb is a recurring character, but her father has yet to appear or get any kind of mention. Barb is once called "Miss Miller", suggesting she is a single mother.
    • Buck Dewey's father is the mayor of Beach City, but his mother remains unseen and unmentioned.
  • Amusement Park: Beach City Funland is a recurring location.
  • Amusing Injuries: Since a Gem's body is just a light construct for them to interact with, most injuries can be fixed easily, allowing them to receive heavy damage that can be played as slapstick. Zigzagged when Amethyst's Gem is cracked and her body starts behaving strangely. 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, most injuries, particularly human ones, are treated seriously, especially for Steven's since he's a child and can't regenerate. Played straight when Steven appears in the 'Big Donut' with his head all bandaged up, and then it turns out he only has a half-inch scratch. He doesn't mention he got it by getting hit in the face by a brick-sized chunk of hurtling debris.
  • Anachronism Stew: Technology from a number of different eras seems to mingle together in Beach City. Characters are shown to own up-to-date smartphones and run blogs, but most TVs that are seen are of the older boxy variety that hasn't been sold in about a decade, and the video game consoles that Steven is shown playing include a Nintendo 64, a GameCube, and something that resembles a classic-style Game Boy, all of which have been out of production for over ten years. Characters are occasionally shown to use Walkmans with oversized headphones, rather than the iPods with tiny earbuds that are more popular in the present day. These could be examples of how the Gems' presence on Earth has affected the passage of time and technology in small ways; then again, it could simply be a reflection of real life, where plenty of people still use older tech together with more recent stuff.
  • 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.
  • And Call Him "George": "Legs from Here to Homeworld" starts out with Blue Diamond doing this to Steven after learning that he is technically her long-lost beloved Pink Diamond.
  • And I Must Scream: No mechanism has been found to allow Gems to permanently die. Even if shattered, they retain some form of consciousness.
    • 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 ground-up dust of shattered Gems as pigments, and was essentially their tortured souls lashing out, though this would only be a small taste of what was to come.
    • "Ocean Gem" reveals that the monsters the Gems fight used to be Gems themselves. To make matters worse, Lapis Lazuli was trapped in a mirror, essentially enslaved and only able to communicate with recorded reflections. One of which happens to be Steven screaming.
    • After Lapis fuses with Jasper to form Malachite, she 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, but Lapis forcefully holds Jasper in Malachite, sacrificing herself to keep them trapped under the ocean.
    • In "Keeping It Together", Garnet discovers that shards of Crystal Gems defeated in the war were buried together and forced to fuse. The results are conscious enough to form human silhouettes, reach out for help, and scream in agony before turning into horrific masses of limbs that attack everything looking for their other pieces.. In a more literal adherence to the trope, the Gem mutant was able to scream while lacking a mouth.
    • Taken to new heights with the Cluster itself, which takes that concept and multiplies that by millions, with thousands of Gems shattered into pieces to create a fused mass of shards that will destroy the Earth when it forms, compelled to form as it semi-mindlessly repeats to itself that it needs to become whole out of a desire to regain their original selves, buried alone in the Earth's core for over 5000 years.
  • Animated Actors: The Dove Self-Esteem Project videos star several characters in the cast: Steven, Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl, Ruby, Sapphire, Jasper, Sardonyx, Smoky Quartz, Connie, and Stevonnie.
  • Animation Bump:
    • Lapis has far more flowing, graceful animation than most of the main cast, reflecting both her aqueous nature and more serious character. Especially apparent when she's alone with Steven, whose jerky animation and childlike personality contrast hers.
    • Rose has carefully animated hair, and 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 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.
    • Pearl's 360-degree turn while singing about Rose and Greg in "Mr. Greg". In fact, the animators started with this scene and built the rest around it.
    • The fusion dances tend to have more frames and tight choreography. According to the production blog, the storyboards for those scenes are sometimes near-fully animated before being sent to animation proper to ensure that the timing is perfect.
    • Steven's two split selves hugging and fusing back together in "Change Your Mind" is given an extremely noticeable bump in quality, courtesy of Disney animator James Baxter.
  • Animation Evolution: Zigzagged. While the series does not always have bad animation, a lot of the series suffers a serious case of Off-Model (Especially in the Rough Draft Studios episodes). The early episodes of season 1 used it to its advantage and had some pretty smooth animation for its time, but starting from season 2 - where the animation is supposed to be much smoother and less exaggerated - the animation has been kind of wishy-washy. However, the Sunmin Animation episodes are known to be much cleaner and on-model than the ones by Rough Draft Studios. But sometimes, even their episodes have some inconsistency and stiff animation.
    • In the episode "Mindful Education", Takafumi Hori was a guest animator for the episode. The animation of this episode (especially during "Here Comes a Thought") is noticeably more fluid and Animesque than the majority of the later episodes. This is because Takafumi was an animator from Studio TRIGGER, a Japanese studio known for that kind of animation style.
    • Speaking of Takafumi Hori, he returns to animate not one, but TWO of the most important moments of the Big Damn Movie. These two moments are "Other Friends" and "Change". The former is akin to old cartoons like Mickey Mouse and Looney Tunes, while the latter is more akin to a fight from a Studio TRIGGER Anime like Kill la Kill. Which makes sense, considering the animator has worked on it for Trigger before.
    • The other studios have made the animation more smooth and fluid than the base show. As expected for The Movie, there are not as many inconsistencies as the main show, and the scenes are animated on a much smoother note.
  • Animal Motifs:
    • Cats, cats and more cats. You've got Lion, the cat fingers, Cookie Cats and Lion Lickers, Tiger Millionaire and Purple Puma, Peridot's cat-esque mannerisms, SWAT Kats being on Uncle Grandpa's list...
    • Snakes also show up quite a lot- Onion's python, Ronaldo's obsession with Sneeple, Sadie's casual wear, Party Guy, etc. Dollar bills in the show's universe even feature a variant of Franklin's 'Join or Die' cartoon.
  • 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.
  • 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".
    • Lion's mane contains a Pocket Dimension of its own.
  • Apathy Killed the Cat: Much of the unknowns about the gems are only gradually revealed, partly because it's information withheld from Steven, but also from no one addressing or asking about them. Steven can be curious, but admits he's very bad at thinking of followup questions.
  • Apocalypse How:
    • Averted Class 6. In "Marble Madness", Pearl frets that if Peridot restarts the Kindergarten, it will destroy all organic life on Earth; this was the impetus for Rose's rebellion. In "It Could've Been Great", Peridot reveals Homeworld's original plan would have left the Earth a hollow shell, so maybe even a Class X.
    • Implied in "Monster Reunion" that a Class 3A occurred 5,000 years ago, when the Diamonds unleashed some sort of white light attack that corrupted all of the gems on Earth, turning them into monsters. The only survivors were Rose Quartz, Garnet, and Pearl, who were protected by Rose's shield; Amethyst, who had not yet emerged from her hole; Lapis Lazuli, who was trapped in a mirror; and Bismuth, who was in a bubble.
  • April Fools' Day: The Uncle Grandpa crossover aired on April 2 (to fit the show's schedule of new episodes on Thursday). Part of the prank also included one of the staff members declaring it would be a canon episode, although the episode says otherwise straight off the bat.
    Uncle Grandpa: Don't worry, bro. None of this is canon.
  • Arc Symbol:
    • The five-pointed star is used by the crystal gems to show their rebellion against homeworld.
      • It appears on the modern outfits of the Crystals Gems (Steven’s and Pearl’s shirt, Amethyst’s and Sugilite’s knees, Garnet’s top, Opal’s drape, Sardonyx's dress shirt, Alexandrite’s collar, the cutout of Rose’s dress, Lion’s mane, Bismuth’s shoulder and belt, and the shirt and knees of Smoky Quartz).
      • It appears on almost all of the Crystal Gems’ weapons (top and base of Garnet’s gauntlets, end of Pearl’s spear, hilt of Amethyst’s whip, grip of Opal’s bow, ring of Sugilite's flail, top of Sardonyx's hammer, side of Smoky Quartz's yo-yo, and even the Breaking Point, but mysteriously missing from Rose’s sword and shield).
      • When showing wonder, Steven is often portrayed with stars in his eyes. This also happens to several other characters like Rose, Peridot, Greg, Amethyst, and even Lars.
      • Nearly episode ends with the camera cutting to a star before closing to black.
      • In flashback episodes the star can be seen on Greg's shirt while performing as Mr. Universe.
      • After Lars is revived by Steven, the collar of his T-shirt is ripped in five places, forming the rough shape of a star (two points on his chest, one on each shoulder, and one on his back), which is very reminiscent of the rough star shape made by Lion's mane.
      • Pointed out by Peridot In "Log Date 7 15 2", when she is panicking about becoming a Crystal Gem, and asks "Do I have to wear a star now? Where am I gonna put the star?"
      • Followed up in "Change Your Mind" upon reconstruction, Peridot now has a star on her shirt.
    • Likewise, the Homeworld Gems show their loyalty with colored diamonds (and occasionally triangles).
      • Nearly all Homeworld gems, such as Peridot, Jasper, and Holly Blue Agate have their respective diamond on their torso, signifying their position under their respective Diamond. The top and bottom of Lapis's clothes have a triangle design that together form a diamond. Jasper’s helmet and Peridot’s knees are diamond shaped. Yellow Pearl and Blue Pearl have diamond cutouts on the top their dresses. Doc has yellow triangles at the bottom of her suspenders, and Navy’s collar is a yellow triangle.
      • Pearl is also shown with a pink diamond on several occasions. 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. This makes sense as it was later revealed that Pearl was Pink Diamond’s Pearl.
      • The diamonds also have their own symbols. The old version shows all four diamonds placed together so that they form a larger diamond. It is seen at the sky arena in "Sworn to The Sword", in the ancient Gem vessel in "Friend Ship", in the moon base in "It Could've Been Great", and in the jungle moon base in “Jungle Moon”. Notably, the pink shape is broken in the sky area, or removed in Centipeedle’s drawing in “Monster Reunion”. This may be a hint towards the fact that Pink Diamond was thought to be shattered. Reflecting this, the new symbol has three colored 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."
      • Interestingly, the stars in the nighttime sky are portrayed as white, yellow, blue and pink diamonds, possibly hinting at diamond-controlled colonies.
    • Roses, and the rose symbol with a pink triangle in the middle, are associated with both Steven and his mother Rose Quartz. This symbol can be seen all over Rose’s possessions, specifically her sword and shield. Rose’s pink triangle makes sense seeing as she’s actually Pink Diamond.
    • White butterflies and dragonflies have an interesting connection to fusion.
      • The tip of Opal’s arrows are reminiscent of butterflies. When Sardonyx’s curtain and hammer disappear, they turn into dragonflies. When Garnet first fuses, butterfly-like roses can be seen in the background. Later in the episode, Ruby and Sapphire find a butterfly together. In “Mindful Education”, Garnet uses butterflies to teach Stevonnie about fusion. However, this is a little inconsistent, seeing how butterflies appear elsewhere unrelated to fusion, such as on the strawberry battlefield.
    • Though it’s not really a symbol, dancing is strongly associated with themes of love, trust, and friendship in the series. The gems can fuse into bigger, stronger forms through dancing, but only with consent and mental and emotional synchronization. Gems who do not synchronize their dancing are likely not mentally aligned either, and thus fail to fuse.
      • This has also been extended to humans such as Connie and Greg. Connie and Steven can accidentally fuse (since Steven is only half-Gem) with their love and friendship for each other, and scenes of Greg dancing with the Gems is often when he is developing a closer bond with them.
      • Dancing has also been used to symbolize reconciliation between the Gems and their friends, especially after strong and complicated disagreements.
  • Arc Words:
    • "If every pork chop were perfect, we wouldn't have hot dogs." A saying of Greg's that gets repeated throughout the first season and represents the show's theme that the world is a nicer place because nobody is perfect.
      • As it turns out this is the overarching theme for the entire series, as shown in The Battle of Heart and Mind.
    • "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!"
    • "What do you want?", as mentioned below in Armor-Piercing Question. It pops up every time Rose's Room appears, except for "Catch and Release" (though the implication is still definitely there). The question ties heavily into the show's themes of identity and finding one's purpose in life, particularly where it pertains to Steven himself and his struggle with filling in Rose's shoes.
    • "Miserable Planet" has been used in reference to the Earth on a few separate occasions by characters aligned with Homeworld. Peridot uses the term when complaining about being stranded in her audio logs in "Keeping It Together". Lapis Lazuli uses the term (through Malachite) as she drags Jasper and herself into the ocean in "Jail Break". Yellow Diamond uses the term in Message Received when expressing her satisfaction that the planet will finally be of use to her.
    • "I'm Not My Mom/I Am My Mom" in late season 4 episodes relating to the various ways in which Steven was intended by Rose to be a seperate being from herself, but still suffers from the consequences of her actions, and ultimately feels responsible for resolving the conflicts that she started millenia ago. This gets even worse in season 5, when it becomes more and more clear that the homeworld gems, especially the diamonds are not able to wrap their head around the difference.
  • 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?
    • In "Back to the Barn", Peridot is baffled when Pearl refuses to obey her orders, as the Pearls are a custom-made Servant Race back on Homeworld. Pearl insists she is her own master, but she is unable to respond when a confused Peridot asks "Then what are you for?"
    • Steven twice in The Battle of Heart and Mind.
      Steven (to Yellow): Does this look perfect to you?

      Steven (to White): I am a child. What's your excuse?
  • Armor-Piercing Response:
    • In "Future Vision", after Garnet explains the eponymous power, Steven becomes terrified of what the future has in store for him. Garnet assures him that while she can't be around to protect him all the time, he's still in control, and that he shouldn't go onto the roof, no matter what. He defies her advice, goes up to the roof (in the middle of a thunderstorm), and resigns himself to whatever comes next. When Garnet tries to convince him to come down, he refuses:
      Steven: Everything I do shoves me finally towards the end! The more I know, the more I know that I don't know! I can't live like this! Why did you tell me about future vision? What's going to happen to me on the roof?
      Garnet: This.
      Steven: Wh... what?
      Garnet: I knew you might do this if I told you about my power. I saw this, and I told you anyway.
    • In "Message Received", when Yellow Diamond asks what Peridot could possibly know about Earth, she replies with, "Apparently more than you! You... CLOD!"
    • In "Now We're Only Falling Apart", Sapphire asks Pearl that if Pink Diamond cared so much about the Earth, why didn't she use her authority to stop the Homeworld invasion without involving other Gems? Pearl responds that Pink did everything she could, but Yellow and Blue misinterpreted her requests and refused to listen to what she actually wanted, to the point of usurping control from her.
  • Art Evolution:
    • In Season 1, the animation and art was more simplistic. In Season 2, the animation is a little more Animesque and detailed, and character expressions are more detailed as well. Garnet's color palette also shifts slightly in Season 2.
    • Pearl had a more oval-ish proportioned face in earlier episodes boarded by Joe Johnston and Jeff Liu, but eventually it became more rounded. As of Season 4, her eyebrows are also drawn and animated a bit differently.
    • Although proportions vary a lot between scenes and artists, the earliest episode tended to draw rolls of fat on Steven's chest and belly. They're shown much less often by the end of the first half season, basically disappearing by the end of the season, giving his torso more of a trapezoidal or rectangular silhouette. Steven's head is also drawn larger on average, which has made his chest look even smaller.
  • 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—only to come in play again after Amethyst's new form debuted around the last quarter of Season 3.
  • Artificial Zombie: The second season introduces fusion monsters formed from the forcefully fused remains of shattered Crystal Gems.
  • Artist And Theband
    • In "Steven and the Stevens", Steven forms a band of the eponymous name consisting of him and three alternate versions of himself made as a result of using a magic hourglass upon realizing that it allows him to travel back in time.
    • Sadie's band is called "Sadie Killer and the Suspects," as she's the lead singer, and her frustrated horror-inspired lyrics gave the band its identity.
  • Artistic License – Geology: It's not entirely clear what the show's definition of "gem" is. Most Gems fall under the technical definition—that is, precious and semiprecious crystalline minerals. Pearl's and Lapis Lazuli's inclusion, however, would imply that it's more about jewelry stones in general than it is about actual gemstones. Then there's Bismuth, which is a crystalline metal.
    • From a geological point of view the only difference between sapphires and rubies is the color (both are types of corundum; red corundum is called ruby and every other color is called sapphire or [color] sapphire for colors other than blue, which is the color most commonly associated with the name sapphire). Since the color is just due to tiny quantities of impurities, it's kind of bizarre that fusing them produces Garnet (a completely different mineral) - that said, in the official podcast, Rebecca Sugar has confirmed that there are different single-gem Garnets, implying that Garnet as a fusion isn't the same thing and her being a Garnet is more about identity than her constituent gems. The show does, however, correctly treat Padparadscha as a type of sapphire (similar design, same voice actress, and in theory the same main ability, even if Padparadscha's is a bit... broken.)
      • Change Your Mind introduces the fusion Obsidian, who is formed from 5 gems but whose namesake is merely a form of igneous rock.
    • The show's use of gems does match the real world's in some ways, however. For example, Amethyst finds out her type of Gem is supposed to be a warrior, larger and more powerful than she herself is. Amethyst is a type of quartz. Other quartz-based Gems in the series are Jasper and Rose Quartz, both of whom are significantly larger than Amethyst. Also, garnet is in some sense a "fusion", being a silicate with two different cations (generally one divalent and one trivalent).
  • 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.
  • Art Shift:
    • "Garnet's Universe" in a pastiche to Shonen anime of the 80s, switches from the show's regular style to a less detailed, much sillier and cartoonish style. Said episode is also thought to be a homage to Super Mario Bros.
    • The "Classroom Gems" shorts are done in chibi, in homage to the science segments in GunBuster.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Steven lives in a house at the base of a seaside cliff, and at least one episode involved a Gem being damaged from falling off of that cliff. 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. However, since there are much greater geographical differences between the show's Earth and ours, an extra cliff is nothing compared to altered shape of continents, and given Gems' capabilities, it's not out of question they could simply CREATE a cliff when they needed it.
  • 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 longest regeneration we've seen is Pearl's, who took two weeks. There are exceptions, such as Peridot in season 2 and Amethyst in season 3 (who thought Steven was in danger), both of whom regenerated soon after getting poofed with no problems.
  • 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.
  • As You Know: Normally averted. The Crystal Gems are for a long stretch of the series not keen on explaining their history to Steven, so it's only through subtle clues in the background and some very easy to miss bits of dialogue that there's more going on than it seems. Since the series is largely from Steven's point of view, he typically only gets the finer details explained when the audience would be completely lost otherwise. Some very brief recaps are given to him in plot-important episodes, both to remind any viewers on obscure events that could have happened dozens of episodes ago, or more commonly the excuse that as an excitable kid, he needs a few nudges to catch him up to speed.
  • Audible Sharpness: most notably Pearl's spear and Rose's sword.
  • 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.
  • Awesome Backpack: Steven has his "Cheeseburger Backpack", introduced in the episode of the same name. It's really just a novelty backpack he ordered online, but it's surprisingly roomy.
  • Awful Truth: Gem history seems to be about 60% things Pearl doesn't think Steven is ready to hear; naturally, as the viewpoint character, he ends up learning about them anyway. Most notably: the monsters they're fighting are corrupted Gems, the other Gems they're likely to encounter are generally going to be villains, and the reason the Crystal Gems are on Earth is because they led a rebellion against the Homeworld Gems in order to prevent them from destroying the Earth to make more of their kind.
    • The end of Season 3 revealed some dark secrets about Rose Quartz, including that she was technically a war criminal who shattered her gem matriarch, Pink Diamond. Then, season 5 reveals that Rose was Pink Diamond in disguise all along. Rose/Pink instigated a rebellion and faked her assassination to protect Earth, but deceived countless Gems in the process and unwittingly drove the Diamonds to use the Corrupting Light.
    • "Bismuth" reveals that Rose Quartz defeated and bubbled the eponymous gem, who was a friend and ally, after the former revealed to her that she had created a weapon that could instantly shatter any gem. Rose kept Bismuth's fate a secret from all of the Crystal Gems, including Pearl, likely because they would have considered her actions hypocritical after what she allegedly did to Pink Diamond.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other
    • Occasionally the show reminds the audience that Pearl and Amethyst don't really hate each other's guts, especially as the show goes on. By the end of Season 2, their bickering has entirely stopped. This is best seen in how easily, smoothly, and casually they're able to fuse into Opal in "Log Date 7 15 2", compared to how difficult it was for them to get in sync without a life-threatening situation in earlier episodes.
    • Peridot starts showing signs of this, too.
    • Peridot and Lapis after a bit of time (and bonding over Camp Pining Hearts) goes on in season 3.
      Peridot: Um, just one second. I want to make sure Lapis is ok. HEY LAPIS, ARE YOU OKAAAAAAAY?
      Lapis: Yeah.
      Peridot: ARE YOU SURE?
      Lapis: Yeah!

  • Backing Away Slowly: In "Lion 3: Straight to Video", Lars goes into the backroom to check on Steven and Sadie, only to find them staring at a TV filled with static. When they turn to him, tears in their eyes, Lars puts his hands up and slowly backs away into the shop.
  • Backstory 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.
    • For Pearl, the circumstances surrounding Pink Diamond's assassination serve as this for her. "A Single Pale Rose" reveals that she and Pink Diamond faked the assassination so that Pink Diamond could live on as Rose Quartz, in the hopes that the Diamond Authority would end its colonization of Earth. A traumatic battle and the Diamond Authority's use of the Corrupting Light soon followed.
  • 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? (lifts 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: 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 in "Fusion Cuisine".
      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.
    • Steven in "Restaurant Wars":
      Steven: Are you telling me that you two are involved in a romantic relationship?
  • Bad Job, Worse Uniform:
    • Peedee Fryman and the Frybo costume. In "Restaurant Wars", he briefly wears a pizza suit.
    • In her youth, Vidalia worked at a t-shirt store, and the uniform was a shirt with a goofy face.
  • Bad Liar:
    • Ruby turns out to have this trait in "Hit the Diamond", complete with sweating a lot and blurting out very unconvincing statements. Luckily, the Homeworld Rubies are so stupid, they believe her.
    • Steven is a little better, but he still cracks under pressure, especially when compared to more experienced liars, like Connie.
      Connie: Hey, Mom. I was just finishing up my six o'clock violin practice.
      Dr. Maheswaran: You should've been done an hour ago. [...] Hey Steven, how are you doing?
      Steven: (sweating and nervously glancing at the sword they're keeping hidden) SITTING!
  • Barbarian Longhair: Amethyst and Jasper have ankle-length fly-away hair, keeping with their Quartz-type roles as aggressive, intimidating warriors, though Amethyst downplays this as she's heroic and her hair is slightly smoother. Rose Quartz plays with this; she's a warrior too, and her hair is just as long, but in neat and lady-like Regal Ringlets instead of the wild-child look. Going by silhouettes in flashbacks, this is a nearly universal trait of Quartz soldiers, and the hair seems to have a weaponized function for the signature Rolling Attack both Amethyst and Jasper.
  • Bare Your Midriff:
    • Rose Quartz' gem is where her navel would be, so there's a star-shaped hole in her dress keeping it visible.
    • Stevonnie, due to their clothes being a bit too small for them.
    • Lapis Lazuli's regular outfit and baseball uniform expose her midriff.
    • One of Yellow Diamond's Ruby squad members has her gem on her navel. Her nickname is even listed in the credits as Navy.
  • Baseball Episode: "Hit the Diamond", where Steven and co. make the Ruby squad play baseball in order to get them away from Peridot. If the Rubies won, then they could search the barn. If the Rubies lost, then they had to leave Earth for good.
  • 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.
    • Played completely straight in "Bubbled". Steven is blown out of an airlock on the moon base and floats through space in his bubble. At one moment, he completely dissipates his bubble in order to knock away one of the 5 Rubies that got blown out along with him. He holds his breath, pops his bubble and exposes himself to the complete void of space before reforming his bubble and starts breathing oxygen again. Apparently, the bubble itself creates oxygen.
    • It also appears that Gems can communicate in airless space as well (i.e., make themselves heard to one another without air as a conducting medium for sound). In "Bismuth", the title character was able to speak to Steven while within the airless pocket dimension of Lion's mane; in "Bubbled", Steven and "Eyeball" Ruby were able to communicate despite Eyeball initially being in space and outside Steven's bubble.
  • 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.
    • The two finally make their first successful battle perfomance together in "Crack the Whip", where they're so in unison with wanting to protect Amethyst and her gem from being shattered by Jasper that they fuse and go toe to toe in an even fight with Jasper, riding on Lion with Sword and Shield in hand.
  • 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 puffer fish 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 is more of an Anti-Hero. The same can be said for Peridot. On the other hand, Jasper is much more masculine and sports a terrible Slasher Smile. Yellow Diamond, the Big Bad, is very off-putting in appearance, with added lines and wrinkles.
    • 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 (and attractive, judging by the other character's reactions) teenager. (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 (and likely because Sapphire only has a single eye to begin with). 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.
      • However, it's also been said by the showrunners that fusion forms are "fixed". That is, if Lapis Lazuli and Jasper were to willingly form Malachite again for a mutually beneficial purpose, they'd still be just as monstrous. Similarly, Alexandrite is as monstrous in her first appearance (when the Gems are not quite all on the same page, and the fusion is in danger of falling apart at any second) as she is in her latest (when they're unified in mind and purpose).
      • This apparently doesn't apply to more long-term fusions, however, as Garnet has, to date, been shown with four separate "looks": her original, "cotton-candy hair" form (the flashback in "The Answer"), her form from when Greg first met the Gems (the flashbacks in"Story for Steven" & "We Need to Talk"), her modern-day form for most of the first season (up to her being destabilized and split apart in "The Return"), and the current form (after Ruby and Sapphire re-fuse in "Jail Break") that she has maintained despite splitting apart and re-fusing since (involuntarily in "Keystone Motel" and deliberately in "Hit the Diamond"). Relatively minor changes in a fusion's look seem to follow changes in the component gems' base form. Sugilite's outfit was different in Cry For Help than in Coach Steven, as all of her components had been 'poofed' and regenerated between those episodes.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Steven spends the entirety of Season 1 trying to prove himself to the other Gems that he can also be a capable member and help them fight monsters and protect the world, essentially wanting to grow up too fast and show that he can take his mother's place on the team. Over time, he's finally managed to achieve this...and now has to deal with all of the problems his mother left behind as a ruler who faked her death and her persona as a war criminal, and the Diamonds' vendetta against her now falls on him as her successor. Should've enjoyed your innocent days while you still could, Steven.
  • 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 seems to be one of the only gems who's legitimately concerned with how others see her. This is only compounded by her self-esteem issues due to her being born on Earth after the war. Pearl acts like a perfectionist, but has similar 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 secretly worried she can't lead the team as well as Rose or raise Steven properly. This is further extended to her future vision as Steven matures, reflecting both her insecurity and Steven's growing maturity.
    • Additionally, this is a major theme to do with Rose. As Steven puts it, his view of her shifts from a motherly figure who truly loved him to a 'conniving' type of person who only made Steven to run away from her own mistakes. This idea is continually played with in the series; it's probably most accurate to say Rose was both. She loved Steven and wanted him, but considering how much she tried to escape her past and some of the interactions she had with Pearl (especially the recorded conversation Pearl showed Steven in Season 1), Steven's birth may have simply been an easy out for Rose, much like the easy out she took earlier on. She still truly loved Steven and wanted to have him, but there is a hint of Rose perhaps trying to bridge her utilitarian life as a gem and the beauty she saw in life and nature.
  • Berserk Button:
    • 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 from her.
    • Amethyst: Rubbing her origins in her face. Even if the person in question is trying to compliment her.
    • Steven: Insulting his parents, and betraying his faith. Kevin's mere existence is enough for Steven to throw all cordiality and friendliness out the window.
    • Ruby: As stated in Garnet's entry, screwing around with fusion. It makes her literally fume.
    • Sapphire: Just like Ruby, messing with fusion. Also, she hates being lied to, because apparently it can disrupt her future vision.
    • Crystal Gems: Hurting Steven and insulting Rose.
  • Best Served Cold: As revenge for losing Earth to the rebellion, before leaving, the Diamonds began a millennia-spanning operation to create the Cluster, a giant Gem mutant, which would destroy the Earth. They also sent some sort of light/sound-based weapon that corrupted all Gems still left on Earth.
  • Betty and Veronica: Played with. While Rose is unambiguously Archie, Pearl is the unlucky life-long 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.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Although Navy seemed like the nicest of the Ruby squad, she turned out to be the most ruthless. She could have just stolen her ship from Steven, Lapis and Peridot, but it was more fun to win their trust before betraying them.
  • Big Bad: The Diamonds, especially their leader White Diamond, are the main antagonists. Formerly the Homeworld Gems, although they have since shifted allegiance (with the exception of Jasper) while the show has revealed much more imposing threats to Earth's safety. The original Homeworld Gem group becomes a Big Bad Ensemble when Jasper becomes a Rogue Agent in Season 3 and becomes a major villain.
  • Big Eater: Steven and Amethyst. More often than not they will scarf down any and all available food. More so 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 Catchphrase, 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.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The Fire Salt that appears in season one may be a reference to the Japanese word for "salty", "shiokarai", which literally translates to "salt-spicy".
  • Birthday Episode:
    • In "So Many Birthdays, it's not actually anyone's birthday, but when Steven learns that the Gems don't celebrate birthdays, he decides to throw them each a party anyway.
    • The show gets an actual birthday episode in "Steven's Birthday," in which he turns 14 and worries about not aging at the same rate as his best friend (and Love Interest), Connie.
  • Bisexual Love Triangle: The flashback episodes focused around Greg as a young twenty-something dating Rose depict a constant conflict between Pearl and Greg over Rose's affection, where the former is a big Clingy Jealous Girl who tries to chase Greg away so she can have Rose to herself. The narration implies a major reason why Rose went for Greg over Pearl is because Greg was the first person to treat Rose like they were on the same level, while Pearl put Rose on a pedestal and idolized her.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: In the episode "Know Your Fusion", Sardonyx remarks after a fake commercial break that they'll be off the air if the cartoon characters don't make the viewers buy more products, which is a jab at Cartoon Network's notorious tendency to cancel shows for not having profitable merchandise.
  • 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 sacrifices 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.
  • Bland-Name Product:
  • 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.
  • Blue Means Cold: Sapphire is a gem with a blue colour scheme, who can freeze things, but only when she experiences strong emotions.
  • Blunt "No":
    • In "Coach Steven", when Pearl walks by as Steven, Greg, and some friends are working out on the beach.
      Greg: Hey, Pearl. Come to check out some buff studs?
      Pearl: (looks him up and down) No. (walks away)
    • In "Log Date 7-15-2", Peridot is undergoing Sanity Slippage after telling off Yellow Diamond and cementing her Heel–Face Turn.
      Steven: Are you gonna be ok?
      Peridot (recording): I'm a traitorous clod! ...traitorous clod!
      Peridot: (grins maniacally at Steven) No!
  • Blunt "Yes":
    • Combined with a Big "YES!" in "Nightmare Hospital", when Connie reveals to her mother that her glasses are fake because her vision has been restored (by Steven, in "An Indirect Kiss").
      Dr. Maheswaran: What, your eyesight just "magically" got better?!
      Connie: YES!
  • 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 gem fusion "experiments" that were the prototypes for the Cluster—pieces of Gems killed in the war between the Homeworld and Crystal Gems, which were buried together to force them to fuse. Most of these fusions initially appear as random combinations of hands, feet, arms and legs, most of which simply silently twitch and strike out blindly—but the "Hand Cluster" that attacks Garnet not only senses its environment, but emits tortured wails in the united voices of the Gems that formed it. The Hand 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.
    • Actually played for laughs a few times. In one instance, Amethyst turns her feet into giant eyeballs so she can watch Steven and Connie spar. This is met with laughter from both of them.
    • Let's not forget that with the reveal that Gem Monsters were Gems corrupted at the end of the war... and Centi and Lapis both showed Gems desperately trying to get off planet... aaaand Rose's shield only being able to save herself, Pearl, and Garnet... there's an entirely real and horrible possibility that while safely under Rose's shield the three of them actually watched as their friends- and some enemies- were becoming monstrous uncontrollable creatures.
  • Book Ends: In the original pilot episode of Steven Universe the plot was resolved with Steven's come-back "What's your excuse". In The Battle of Heart and Mind, which is the official conclusion of the story first come up with by the series creators, Steven uses the same line to completely break White Diamond.
  • 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.
  • Bread and Circuses: Mayor Dewey briefly lampshades this in "Political Power".
    Mayor Dewey: They need their electronic distractions so they don't notice this town is a magnet for disaster!
  • Break the Cutie: Even the most adorable characters in the series are not worth upsetting.
    • Take Amethyst for example, she seems like a dorky Jerk with a Heart of Gold, but don't you dare make fun of her or her origins (though she somewhat got over this), or take away her Parental Substitute for a prolonged period of time or she will get you.
    • Even the adorable fun loving, Friend to All Living Things Steven himself isn't the time to upset, Just LOOK AT HIS FACE when Lars called his mother weird.
    • Lapis is a graceful, cute, aquatic gem. But has been abused many times, and is pretty much scarred for life.
    • Pearl hasn't been too well since Rose left, and has shown signs of grief and post traumatic stress disorder.
    • Connie is adorkable, but is stressed and upset for not being able to make friends, and is raised by very strict parents, and has a lot of tear moments.
    • In "Cry For Help", Garnet fuses with Pearl to form Sardonyx, in order to take down the homeworld communication hub. At first, Garnet is puzzled when the hub is rebuilt, only for Steven and Amethyst to discover that Pearl has been rebuilding the hub. Garnet is furious that Pearl would keep rebuilding the tower so she could fuse with Garnet into Sardonyx. This leads to Garnet breaking up into Ruby and Sapphire in "Keystone Motel". Ruby and Sapphire eventually reconcile, and Garnet ultimately reconciles with Pearl in "Friend Ship".
    • Connie accidentally triggers this for Steven in "Full Disclosure". When he learned how dangerous his life with the Crystal Gems is, he tries to distance himself from Connie without any explanation. She starts chasing him down until he is forced to tell her everything.
  • Breather Episode: Zig-Zagged. In between several episodes of intense drama and character development, SU still dares to alternate with lighter toned episodes. However, many of these apparently filler episodes manage to unveil clues that later will turn into major plot points, seemingly averting this trope. Some standouts:
    • The episode Shirt Club adds nothing to Steven's character or the general plot, instead focusing on a minor character and just shows how Steven is able to melt the cold hearts of everyone around him. It is between two of the most emotional episodes "Rose's Scabbard" and "Story For Steven", and while the episode that directly preceded it, "Open Book", is still a light episode, it at least builds the relationship between Steven and Connie and is one of Connie's most important character defining moments.
    • "Log Date 7 15 2" comes right after "It Could've Been Great" and "Message Received".
    • In season 3, there's "Greg the Babysitter", which comes after a similarly intense pair of episodes, "Monster Reunion" and "Alone at Sea". Then, after season 3 wraps up with an arc of Amethyst losing and regaining her confidence, followed by a major revelation about Rose Quartz that shakes Steven's own confidence and Steven narrowly escaping death in space, season 4 kicks off with the hilarious Looney Tunes/Road Runner homage, "The Kindergarten Kid".
  • Brick Joke:
    • In "Catch and Release", Pearl jokes about keeping Peridot outside attached to a leash, just a few episodes later, in "Too Far", Garnet attaches Peridot to a fence with a leash after she asked her to unfuse because it makes her uncomfortable.
    • A very long term one, in Ocean Gem, Steven says "No prob, Bob," to Lapis Lazuli, but she doesn't understand and tries to correct him on her name. Come "Hit the Diamond", and Lapis goes by the name Bob while masquerading as a human.
  • Broken Bird: Rose has been gone for fourteen years, and Pearl still isn't taking it well. "Sworn to the Sword" hints at outright Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from her loss.
    • Amethyst gets like this big time when she's reminded of her origins.
    • Steven is VERY horrified by the loss of his mother and the fact he never got to meet her, and he feels like the other gems are mad at him because of Rose's death, not to mention he even thinks he's somewhat responsible for it. Poor kid.
  • Broken Pedestal: What cements Peridot's Heel–Face Turn, once she discovers that her "flawless, logical, reasonable" leader is committed to a very unreasonable plan to destroy Earth, and all of her attempts to negotiate an alternative are forcefully dismissed.
    • In later seasons, the reverence that Steven has for the mother he never knew begins to fade, as he learns more about the hard decisions Rose Quartz had to make in wartime as the leader of the rebellion against the Gem Homeworld (foreshadowed as far back as "The Return" with Greg noting that there's "no such thing as a good war"). Revelations such as Rose having poofed and bubbled Bismuth for her extremist views and shattering Pink Diamond have tarnished Steven's image of his mother to the point that his doubts about her (among other things) threaten his ability to maintain fusion as Stevonnie. Ultimately Zigzagged when Steven finds out that Rose Quartz was actually Pink Diamond who conspired with Pearl to fake her own death. However we know that Pink Diamond did some foolish things, so she's still not the incredible person Steven thought she was.
  • Brutal Honesty:
    • Amethyst tends toward this.
      Pearl: Greg is... nice, Steven... but I doubt Rose would trust someone like him with such a powerful weapon.
      Amethyst: Your dad's kind of a mess, Steven.
    • She also gives it to herself in "Cat Fingers": Pearl blames her for Steven's predicament and later claims that the moral of the episode is never to listen to Amethyst. Both times Amethyst replies "That's fair."
      Steven: Amethyst... am I the cruelest creature on the planet?
      Amethyst: Oh Steven, those are just words that people use to describe how they feel about you.
    • Also Garnet. When Jamie sent her a love letter, her idea of a reply was just a letter saying "No." When coaxed into adding more, she adds "The End. Forever, and even after that."
    • When the Crystal Gems are trying to rescue Greg from the Human Zoo, Sapphire (who can see the future) comes up with a plan wherein they all pretend to adhere to their assigned roles (e.g. She's an aristocrat, Ruby is her bodyguard, Pearl is her servant, etc.). Followed immediately by this exchange:
    Pearl: "Is this really going to work?"
    Sapphire: "No."
  • 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.
  • Burger Fool:
    • Beach Citywalk Fries. Peedee had to wear a Frybo costume for a while before his father realized he hated it.
    • Lars acts like this type of worker at the Big Donut. Sadie also hated her dead-end job there enough to eventually quit.
    • In "Greg The Babysitter", Vidalia gets a job at a t-shirt shop with a uniform that includes a t-shirt with a silly face on it, in order to support baby Sour Cream.
  • But I Read a Book About It:
    • Peridot has only read up on a few hundred years worth of Gem history reports on Earth. Despite this, she didn't know there were still Gems on the Earth other than the Cluster and its prototypes.
    • In "Gem Hunt", Connie is prepared to survive the wilderness, not because of prior experience but because she read a book about it several times.
  • Butt Cannon: The Show Within a Show "Dogcopter" features a robotic helicopter dog that can shoot missiles out of his butt.
  • Butt-Monkey: Steven's TV, which got broken five times throughout the series.

  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Parodied in "Beta", where the alien Lapis and Peridot have redecorated their living space at the barn with several creations of their own. Neither is familiar with the word "art", however, so they have taken to referring to their works as "meep morps" or "morps".
  • Calling the Old Man 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.
    • In "Message Received", Peridot, realizing that Yellow Diamond has no intention of sparing the Earth despite it making logical sense, finally snaps and calls her a clod.
    • In "Drop Beat Dad", Sour Cream confronts Marty about the latter's selfishness.
  • Came Back Wrong: Downplayed example. After Lars dies on Homeworld, Steven resurrects him with his healing tears. However, his hair and skin are now purple, and he doesn't seem to need to eat or drink. It's quite possible that he's become immortal, but as we never see him get in a scenario where he can even be hurt, we don't know the full rammifications of this action. None of the other characters comment on this change, either.
  • Campfire Character Exploration:
    • In the Steven Universe episode "Island Adventure," Sadie and Steven discover Lars' talent for cooking when he roasts fish in the fire, and he and Sadie start to become (even more) attracted to each other.
    • A comparatively energetic example occurs during "It Could've Been Great," where Peridot finally shows her softer side and serenades all of the Crystal Gems in front of the campfire. Though the lyrics are tsundere, it's a sign that she's finally warmed up to them, even if she won't admit it.
    Peridot: I think you're all INSANE! / but I guess I am too. / Anybody would be if they were stuck on Earth with you.
    • "The Answer": When Sapphire and Ruby run from the Homeworld gems, Ruby ends up hiding them in a cave and using her fire powers to make a campfire. Over this, the two gems first open up to each other about who they are and how fusion has never been something they've experienced this way (or at all, ever). It should be noted this is more for light, than for warmth, as Sapphire is an ice gem and the heat doesn't bother her, and Ruby is a fire gem that doesn't get cold.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Steven in "Open Book", when Cloud Connie pins Steven into telling the real Connie how he really feels about her and the book:
    Cloud Connie: I know you like her! And I know you want her to like you too.
    Steven: No, don't listen!
    Cloud Connie: That's why you can't tell her the truth, but you want to! You wanna tell her!
  • 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.
  • The Caper: The plot of "Gem Heist" and the rest of the fifth Steven Bomb: the Crystal Gems have to infiltrate a highly secure Homeworld facility and rescue the kidnapped Greg, under the nose of not one but two Diamonds, all without being caught.
  • 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.)
    • This is used to great effect in "The Answer", where multiple physically-identical Rubies are introduced; it's suddenly very hard to keep track of who's who. However, each gem of the same type has their gem on a different part of their body. When more Rubies show up in "Hit the Diamond", they're all nominally identical, but each has a distinguishing characteristic and slightly different uniform.
  • Catch Your Death of Cold: In Steven Universe Future’s episode, “Snow Day” (S1,Ep. 7), Steven catches a cold by the end of the episode from being outside in a winter storm without a coat. We also see Steven sneezing from being out in the cold.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Rebecca Sugar has stated that Garnet's favorite music artist is Estelle, whom she is voiced by, although since the show has an Alternate History, it may be possible for both Garnet and Estelle to coexist.
    • In the episode "Steven's Birthday" Greg pulls out a record that looks remarkably like Estelle's "Shine." Garnet immediately vetoes it!
  • Central Theme: The series covers the idea that love comes in an infinite amount of forms, including platonic and especially familial and self-love. Every mini-theme traces back to this:
  • 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 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 90° turn into drama that quickly changes the tone of the story.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Following "Mirror Gem/Ocean Gem", the show grew more serious: episodes started delving into character relationships and the emotions that come with them, revelations such as Pearl having unresolved feelings towards Steven's deceased mother, Amethyst being a defective Gem created on Earth who resents herself for being part of a large-scale alien experiment, and the general nature of the Gem Homeworld began trickling in, the revelation that Homeworld performed experiments on fallen Gems that turned them into deformed creatures, and Steven starting to grow from a Tagalong Kid to a valued member of the team.
  • 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.
    • Peridot has a Twitter account that first started posting for "Too Short to Ride", and has posts corresponding to the events of that episode. She also hacked CN's official Twitter account. Since then, Peridot has updated her twitter with events that are at least tangentially related to a newly aired episode.
    • Amethyst took over CN's Twitter when "Legs From Here To Homeworld" aired on television.
  • 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. She also becomes more accepting of Greg and takes steps towards being less vindictive of him regarding the loss of Rose.
    • Peridot seeing that the Fantastic Caste System beliefs of Homeworld are wrong, how to be friendly and emotional instead of cold and logical, that the Earth is worth protecting, and that Yellow Diamond is a petty, vindictive gem willing to destroy the potential of Earth just to spite Rose Quartz and destroy the symbol of her millennia-old rebellion.
    • Lapis Lazuli comes to accept that both her and Jasper's roles in Malachite were toxic and unsustainable, and the former learns to appreciate her life on Earth despite the horrible things that have happened to her there in the past.
    • Jasper's character development is much darker, seeing as she changes from a powerful, seemingly perfect warrior to an emotional wreck who becomes increasingly distraught that she is unable to form a healthy fusion, eventually becoming corrupted after attempting to fuse with a Gem monster.
    • Posthumously, Pink Diamond grows as a character over the course of several flashbacks. In "Jungle Moon", she's depicted as a bratty child who wants nothing more than her own colony and Yellow Diamond's approval. Pink Diamond later came to love the organic life on Earth and faked her own death in an attempt to stop the Diamonds' colonization of the planet. "A Single Pale Rose" reveals that Pink Diamond and Rose Quartz were the same person, so the character development that Rose exhibits when she falls in love with Greg and prepares for Steven's birth is actually Pink's character evolution.
  • Character Title: The show is named after the eponymous Steven.
    • Some individual episodes fall under this as well, such as "Frybo", "Steven's Lion", and "Mr. Greg".
  • 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 glowing bracelet in Steven's freezer. This ends up being the catalyst for his friendship with Connie; in "Bubble Buddies", he borrows it to distract the worm monster attacking Beach City.
    • 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.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Lapis Lazuli, after flying away in 'Ocean Gem', Lapis returns in 'The Message' to deliver a warning of Peridot's return.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Pearl's sword fighting ability, which first appears in "Steven the Sword Fighter", takes on greater significance when Pearl starts training Connie as her protégée and the successor to Rose's sword.
  • City of Adventure: Beach City. The presence of the Gems and their temple apparently attracts a lot of unwanted magical attention.
  • Clarke's Third Law: The Gems' abilities are referred to in the show as "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.
  • Cliffhanger:
    • Season 2 ending. Peridot finally embraces her Heel–Face Turn, reconciles with Garnet and gets over her Fantastic Racism about fusion. However, the Cluster is still active and the Earth can be destroyed any moment.
    • Season 4 ending. Steven and Lars are trapped on a Gem ship and headed to Homeworld, with no idea of what punishment awaits them there.
    • The episode "Beta" ends right when Amethyst draws out her whip, ready to fight Jasper again, whom is standing only a couple feet away from her.
  • Clingy Aquatic Life: In one episode, the Crystal Gems just barely get away from a flooding underwater temple. When they get out, we see a fish in Amethyst's mouth, an octopus on Garnet's head, and seaweed on Pearl's face. A couple seconds later, Garnet points out that Pearl also has a lobster on her butt.
  • 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."
  • Connected All Along:
    • In "Onion Friend," it's revealed that Vidalia is the mother of both Onion and Sour Cream, who up until this point were not confirmed to be related; Vidalia is also Amethyst's old friend. A later episode confirms that Marty is Sour Cream's biological father.
    • "Horror Club" reveals that Lars and Ronaldo were childhood friends who had a nasty falling out.
    • "Sadie's Song" reveals that the mailwoman, Barb, is Sadie's mom.
  • Continuity Nod: Now has its own page. See individual episode recaps as well.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Steven talks with Bismuth several times near her lava-powered forges, even sitting next to her while she dips her feet in a pool of the stuff. It may be his half-gem physiology, but he never expresses any discomfort merely being near lava, only feeling pain when his bare flesh touches some lava-heated rock.
  • 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.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: The show teeters between this and Lovecraft Lite. Earth is threatened by a domineering alien empire that once attempted to harvest Earth's Resources, which would have annihilated all life on Earth, and now they are prepared to destroy the planet out of spite. Yet, despite being weary of the odds, not only have the Crystal Gems not given up fighting, Homeworld is not as powerful as they once were, as the empire is imperiled with a resource crisis that threatens the Gem species as a whole. What muddles this is how despite this, Yellow diamond, one of the Homeworld dictators, is willing to destroy Earth, and the useful resources it conceives and Homeworld needs, in a bout of vengeance. To Blur the line further, the Cluster, an Eldritch Super Weapon deployed by Homeworld made up of the collective consciousness of countless shattered gems, has no malign intent towards anyone, and is ultimately pacified by Steven.
  • Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears:
    • In "Coach Steven", Pearl tries to cover Steven's eyes when Garnet and Amethyst do their Fusion Dance, which involves some mildly suggestive dancing including pelvic thrusting.
    • In "Monster Reunion", Garnet turns Steven away when Amethyst is asked to poof a partially uncorrupted Centipeetle.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The ship Peridot uses to travel to Earth is equipped with escape pods that can be activated by bashing one's face against the floor.
  • 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 its 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. Additional parts would be revealed every few episodes throughout the second and third seasons until the full song was ultimately revealed in "Bubbled".
    • From season 2's "Too Far" to season 3's "Hit the Diamond", the end credits music was replaced by ambient insect noise and a soft, slightly ominous guitar piece. Additionally, the backdrop was changed from the beach outside the temple to the barn gate. (Some late season 3 episodes, particularly ones that end on cliffhangers, would also replace the backdrop, this time with a shot of the last location seen in the episode, though they kept the normal credits music).
    • After the full version of "Love Like You" was revealed in "Bubbled", in season 4, the end credits theme changed to just ambient noise for awhile. Eventually, some atmospheric background music was used for the end credits, changing every few episodes, which, like with "Love Like You", form a longer song when laid end-to-end, and as season 5 went on, it gained more tempo until "Reunited", where the song was revealed to be a reprise of "Love Like You". From there, every episode would reveal a new piece of the reprise until it concluded in "Change Your Mind".
  • Creator Cameo: Rebecca Sugar sings "Love Like You" from the end credits and also provides the distorted voice emitted by the wailing stone in the episode: "The Message".
  • Crossover: With Uncle Grandpa; he helps Steven with summoning his shield.
  • Cross-Referenced Titles:
    • "Steven's Lion", "Lion 2: The Movie", "Lion 3: Straight to Video" and many episodes later "Lion 4: Alternate Ending". All of them also turn out to be Meaningful Titles too.
    • "Monster Buddies" and it's Sequel Episode "Monster Reunion". Also "Tiger Millionaire" and it's sequel "Tiger Philanthropist".
    • The two parter "Are You My Dad?" and "I Am My Mom" - the titles contrast with each other.
    • "The Question" references the season two episode title "The Answer".
  • Crying a River: Rose Fountain is a fountain filled with Rose Quartz's tears, which had healing powers.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Steven Universe is always making reference to things that happened in the past that involved Gems, in particular the Gem war for Earth. The cause and purpose are eventually explained as the Crystal Gems splitting off from Homeworld to protect the native life, but the fine details are only vaguely alluded to, leaving thousands of years of history to explore. Additionally, many hints about the Alternate History shaped by Gems are brief images the camera's quick to pull away from. Among other things, there's a very large gap between the North and South American continent, Florida is an island some distance away, etc.
    • While we eventually find out what a Kindergarten is, it's unclear how many were in operation, let alone their specific purpose aside from creating Gems.
    • Similarly, the Galaxy Warp is said to connect Gem-controlled planets to the Homeworld via Warp. Aside from Earth, there's an additional fifteen Warps that have been severely damaged, with nary a hint as to their names and possible native species. And there's likely newer Warp Pads constructed as Earth's Gem technology is severely out of date.
  • 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.
    • In "Bismuth", the gang are watching a Lonely Blade movie wherein the eponymous protagonist is being tempted by an Evil Weapon that's also an Infinity +1 Sword. Bismuth comments that if it's really that powerful, then he should use it.
    • Many episodes have a corresponding post on Ronaldo's blog, Keep Beach City Weird that's related to the events of each episode, often by pure coincidence. A similar thing occurred in Peridot's twitter, when she muses about body-swapping. This was the plot of the "The New Lars", which Peridot had nothing to do with.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Almost literally, minus the "Dragon" part. Other Gems practically worship the Diamonds, calling them "The Great Diamond Authority". The Diamonds, unfortunately, seem like they take the idea seriously, treating everything and everyone around them like their own personal property. White Diamond in particular seems to be a cut above the others in that regard as she even treats her fellow Diamonds like that.
  • Crystal Landscape: Practically every Gem location, especially the Temple. Numerous rooms in the temple are decorated with crystal outcroppings and many of the locations the protagonists visit early in the series are full of sparkly crystal ornaments.
  • Crystalline Creature: The Gems are just that — sapient, living gemstones. Their humanoid bodies are actually constructs made out of Hard Light, with their true gem body visible in some part of it.
  • 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. Nearly every prediction that he makes after "Keep Beach City Weird" is true.
  • Cuteness Proximity:
    • In "Catch and Release", it's revealed that Peridot is only as tall as Steven without her limb enhancers and appears to be wearing footy pajamas. Upon learning this, rather than actually asking the question he freed her to ask, Steven is completely distracted by how adorable she is.
    • Rose reacts this way to baby Sour Cream in "Greg the Babysitter".
    Rose: (starry-eyed) Gre-e-e-eg, where did you get this mini human?
  • Cyclops:
    • Sapphire is revealed to be one when her hair is moved away from her eye in "Keystone Motel".
    • Centipeetle also has one eye, one that happens to be her gem.

  • Damned by Faint Praise: Mayor Dewey in "Dewey Wins", when he enlists Steven's help to seek re-election as mayor:
    Steven [at a press conference by Mayor Dewey]: ...So, in conclusion, Mayor Dewey had nothing whatsoever to do with the abductions. Everything was my fault because I unknowingly provided some space Gems with a list of names and put everyone in danger. Mayor Dewey would never do anything to purposefully endanger the town. He basically just keeps a low profile and doesn't get involved in much of anything.
    Woman: Yeah, maybe he should be involved!
    Man: He's the mayor!
  • Dark and Troubled Past: This trope flourishes in Steven Universe, especially common among the Gems. Its actually kinda hard to find a character who doesn't have one.
    • The Crystal Gems themselves were this trope's best victims, with special mention to Pearl and Amethyst. Poor Pearl didn't have many friends besides Rose, who was basically the key to her happiness, though of course wasn't to last. Amethyst is the one life seem to have despised the most besides Pearl, being a product of the Kindergarten, a machine that brought great destruction to the Earth and its inhabitants which led to a war that lasted for a millennium, and not to mention being stranded at the same place for a VERY long time. And this is only half of what Amethyst went through.
    • Garnet had increments of this as well, Ruby didn't seem to have been treated too kindly, and Garnet was confused when she was first made, and she had to start a position as leader she didn't even want.
    • This trope is also very common among the Beach City residents, but Connie, Greg, and Lars deserve a mention. Connie virtually grew up without ANY friends and wasn't allowed to enjoy her life for the sake of "safety"; Greg was abused and ridiculed by his manager, had to see his wife die, has a low-paying job, and has to see his own son constantly put in danger; and Lars appears to be a Freudian Excuse. As the Crewniverse says, he wasn't able to make a whole lot of friends, and he acts mean to Steven because he believes he'll ruin Lars' chance to make friends.
    • Rose Quartz, despite being the Big Good that everybody adores, has probably the darkest history of them all. It is heavily implied that, being the leader of the rebellion, she had to do a lot of really unpleasant, maybe even despicable things to protect her friends and Earth. Poofing Bismuth to prevent her from using the Breaking Point, then keeping her fellow Gems in the dark about Bismuth's fate, is one example. In "A Single Pale Rose", we learn that Rose Quartz and Pink Diamond were one and the same, and that Pink Diamond faked her own assassination in the hopes that the Diamond Authority would leave Earth in peace. Rose/Pink's actions angered the other Diamonds so much that they launched the Corrupting Light, corrupting countless gems on both sides of the conflict.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Obsidian, the fusion of Steven, Amethyst, Pearl and Garnet. Their gem color absorbs all light. This is a big contrast to White Diamond, whose gem shines all light.
  • 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.
  • Death by Childbirth: Rose Quartz with the birth of Steven, which also counts as...
  • Death by Origin Story: In a unique case that can simultaneously count from Steven's perspective as both common varieties of this trope - an origin involving the death of a very important other person and one involving the death of a previous incarnation of the same ontological entity that the subsequently "born" character is also a version of - in the sense of it also being...
  • Death of Personality: Rose's gemstone is still active, with Steven himself being a sort of Reincarnation generated around it and retaining the same magical properties, but her consciousness has been entirely supplanted by his, as best demonstrated when removing the gemstone from Steven's body, which it had been long been speculated would bring back the familiar living form of Rose/Pink, instead produces a pink version of Steven as the direct projection of its soul.
  • Death Is Cheap:
    • Outside of shattering, Gems only poof or go into hibernation if they suffer fatal damage, so long as their gem is intact. They can recover and take on a new look.
    • Even shattering a Gem can be undone, but it's not easy. Steven was able to fix Jasper, whom he shattered in the middle of his Drunk with Power state, using his healing tears and the Diamonds' essence.
    • Lars's death was undone via Steven's tears. It's not a perfect resurrection, though, as his skin and hair turned pink, and he no longer needed to eat. It's implied Rose Quartz did something similar to Lion.
  • Declaration of Protection:
    • Garnet in her song, "Stronger Than You":
      And I won't let you hurt my planet
      And I won't let you hurt my friends
    • Pearl in the extended theme tune:
      We will protect your kind
      We will protect your Earth
      We will protect your Earth
      And we will protect you!
  • 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 an 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' situation deconstructs Sentient Phlebotinum pretty harshly, having spent millennia in an And I Must Scream type fate, only interacting with others when they want something, which has left her a Broken Bird.
    • "Steven's Birthday" deconstructs Not Allowed to Grow Up with the reveal that Steven is actually 14 years old, and he's had the body of a preteen for years due to his Gem powers making his age depend on his mental state.
    • As the series goes on, it deconstructs Steven's All-Loving Hero status, as well as his being a Kid Hero on the whole. Several situations post-Cluster force Steven to learn that being a pacifist isn't always an option and the world is much more morally complex than he thinks initially; many threats can't simply be talked down, like Steven became efficient at doing during Season 2, and sometimes Steven is left with no choice but to resort to violence in order to save himself. Considering this leads to Jasper's seemingly-irreversible corruption before being bubbled, among other problems with other antagonists along the way, this actually leads to Steven breaking down due to blaming himself for failing to succeed at this, and the problems continue to linger onwards despite a Stepford Smiler demeanor.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: A major theme of the show is the redemptive power of love and friendship. Most of the shows primary antagonists wind up friends with at least Steven, and many of them utlimately decide to join the Crystal Gems.
  • Deliberate VHS Quality: Rose and Greg's tape for Steven is presented with a lot of film scratch and even has darkened edges, to emphasise that it was made with old technology from before Steven was born. The tape for Nora is even more degraded, thanks to it being in the desert unprotected for fourteen years.
    • "The Big Show" is almost entirely shown in the same quality as the old "For Steven" tape, because Steven is filming a documentary and wants the footage to look as old and authentic as possible.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The Crystal Gems. From The Other Wiki: "A gemstone or gem is a piece of mineral crystal,note  which, in cut and polished form, is used to make jewelry or other adornments."
    • Then there is "Universe and Universe's Universal Space Travel HQ".
    • Rose's "Laser Light Cannon."
  • 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 times 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.
    • Raven M. Molisee and Paul Villeco tend to favor boarding Pearl with a distinctively larger nose.
  • Destructive Saviour: The Crystal Gems are interested in protecting the Earth. Individual buildings on it, not so much. On one occasion, they shut off Beach City's power for more than a day while preparing for a battle, and don't particularly care. Steven, being The Heart, does try and limit collateral damage where possible and tries to apologies and make up when it happens, at least.
  • Deus ex Machina: In the final confrontation with White Diamond, Pink Steven shows up with no prior foreshadowing, somehow overpowers White Diamond with his voice, No Sells all her attacks, which prior to this point were overwhelmingly effective and then rejoins with Human Steven before the latter can die. This allows White to be put in a position where she can finally be reasoned with where before she just brushed everything off because she was just so strong and disconnected.
  • Different States of America: Steven and company live in the state of Delmarva, which is the Delmarva Peninsula turned into its own state as a result of Gem involvement in Earth's history creating an Alternate Timeline.
  • Discount Lesbians: It's entirely believable, if not downright obvious, that the only reason that Gems have No Biological Sex is so the creators can depict same-sex relationships frankly on a TV show for families with a certain plausible deniability. There seems to be a little leeway in this with Pearl showing interest in and getting the number of the human female punk rocker, showing that she prefers even human women, but being a Gem, this technically doesn't make her a lesbian (emphasis on "technically").
    • The aforementioned female punk rocker, however, is another story. She's implied to believe that Pearl is a human woman, so flirting with her and giving her number to her seems to establish Mystery Girl as being attracted to women.
    • Pearl's attraction to said woman also runs heavily on the Replacement Goldfish trope, making it more a case of Single-Target Sexuality on her part as opposed to regular homosexual preference.
  • Disney Death: Lars in "Off Colors". He's brought back a few moments after his death by Steven's Healing Tears, and his hair and skin are tinged Pink by it.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • In "Warp Tour", Pearl approaches and awakes a half-asleep Steven with a surprise; Steven accidentally sprays Pearl and Garnet with his water gun, and he doesn't get any of the cookies they had just baked.
    • In "Mirror Gem", when the other gems try to take the mirror away from Steven who releases Lapis Lazuli, Garnet tells Steven that he's grounded. In "Ocean Gem", Amethyst tells Steven that they're going to bury him in the ground for disobeying an order. After Steven tells them that's not how grounding works, he's later un-grounded when the ocean disappears and they investigate.
    • After trying to run away with Connie in "Fusion Cuisine", Steven is punished with 1,000 years of no T.V. Though it's only disproportionate from a human point of view, since the Gems are almost immortal. It's at least a far kinder punishment than the initial "No dinner for 1,000 years."
    • In "Restaurant Wars", Kofi restarts the feud with Mr. Fryman because Beach Citywalk Fries sold mozzarella sticks to Steven.
  • The Dissenter Is Always Right: The Crystal Gems tend to turn toward violent responses towards enemies, while Steven is the only one compassionate enough to try negotiating with their opponent instead. As the series progresses, the Crystal Gems get familiar enough with this routine that they're more open to letting Steven try being merciful first, though they're still reluctantly suspicious. A few inversions to the scenario also occur:
    • In "Bismuth", Amethyst is the only Gem who distrusts the returning Crystal Gem Bismuth, as she's too young to have met her in the past and finds it weird such an important friend was never mentioned previously. She drops her suspicion after Bismuth makes her a fancy new flail, but it turns out there was a reason Bismuth was never discussed among the others before.
    • In "Room For Ruby", Lapis is the only Gem who distrusts Navy, and turns out to be right when Navy betrays the Gems. This is a reversal of her previous situation in "Barn Mates" where she was distrustful of Peridot but portrayed as wrong and bitter.
    • In the Future episode "Bluebird", Steven is suspicious of Bluebird Azurite, while everyone else think she's harmless. Steven's fear of her turns into self-doubting paranoia as every one of her tricks appears to turn out to be well-meaning. By the end when it turns out Bluebird was Evil All Along, Steven has been so gaslit he can barely even tell anymore if anything she's doing is a murder attempt or just another misunderstanding.
  • Distinctive Appearances: Steven Universe uses this among not just the main characters, but also the secondary cast. The best examples of this are the three primary Crystal Gems, Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl, whose designs are based around squares, circles, and triangles respectively, with distinct heights and body types that they could be told apart miles away.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: In the episode "Hit the Diamond", Ruby and Sapphire suffer a mutual version of this. It especially effects Sapphire, who can literally look into the future to see where the ball will be, and her team still almost loses because she's too busy flirting with Ruby, who has infiltrated the opposing team to throw the match.
  • Does Not Like Shoes:
    • Lapis Lazuli, who is perpetually barefoot, ostensibly by choice as all Gems can freely manipulate their appearance, including clothes.
    • Rose Quartz didn't wear shoes, either.
    • Neither does Steven and Connie's Fusion, Stevonnie, though this seems to be just because Stevonnie's feet are too big for Steven and Connie's shoes.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The show is known for its frequent use of thinly-veiled analogies to tell stories about real-world conflict, usually having to do with sexual/gender identity, relationships and social justice.
    • Homeworld's attitude towards fusion is highly complicated, but has parallels to sexuality and racism. Gems of the same type can fuse with each other as a strategy, merely enhancing the base gem's abilities. However, Ruby, a base gem, wasn't even allowed to touch Sapphire, an aristocrat gem, and the two of them fusing, even by accident, prompted Blue Diamond to order Ruby's gem shattered. Garnet is also incredibly surprised that Rose isn't disgusted by her, because of the blending.
      • As of "Off Colors", it's revealed that on Homeworld, cross-gem fusions best case scenario is losing their job, and worst case is being permanently separated or even shattered.
    • Gems that are deemed defective, like Amethyst or Padparadscha, also draws a parallel with disabled people.
    • The plot of "Gem Drill", where Steven and Peridot have to go deep into earth and drill through giant cluster of gems before it forms, has parallels to abortion. Later, when Steven meets the Cluster trying to form a body and starts feeling their pain, he starts sweating and grabs the gem on his bellybutton, giving the impression that he has labor pains.
    • When Amethyst says she "didn't ask to be made" it's very reminiscent of someone who found out they were born from an accidental pregnancy. It's also the common cry of the Emo Teen, who laments that they "didn't ask to be born" in to the life they have. This can also be combined with the mother-daughter relationship between Pearl and Amethyst, considering Pearl belonged to Pink Diamond, and thus feels partially responsible for the Kindergarten.
      • Worse, Amethyst was created as the result of a horrific and monstrous act, something so horrible that it was the reason for the Gem's rebellion. Amethyst's issues surrounding this mirror those of a Child by Rape. Hell, considering the fact that she's a mineral-based alien, and her creation involved other mineral-based aliens forcibly taking over a planet and hijacking its minerals in order to reproduce, causing the planet to suffer in the process, she pretty much is the closest thing a Gem ever could be to a child conceived from rape.
    • It can be safe to say that Jasper and Lapis' relationship is a lot like Domestic Abuse. "Alone At Sea" really showcases this. Jasper is domineering, aggressive, and manipulates Lapis into doing things she doesn't want to do (i.e. saying how she's changed, encouraging that their relationship will be "better this time," etc.) while Lapis blames herself for taking out all her anger and frustration on Jasper and admits that even though she hates Jasper, she misses her.
    • When Jasper forcefully and violently fuses with a gem monster to get her power high again, it looks a lot like she's transferring her abusiveness towards a new partner. When that fusion quickly disintegrates, she laments that nobody she fuses with ever wants to stay, which is a not-so-subtle indication at how screwed-up her view on relationships is. Then she gets infected by the monster's Corruption, much like an STD.
    • Steven being mistaken for his mother Rose at first seems like something unique to Jasper because he used Rose's shield. Gradually, it's shown Homeworld in general think Steven and Rose must be the same person because they have the same gemstone, regardless of his acts or feeling. Even the other Crystal Gems take some time to understand Steven is not Rose. All of this strongly resembles one struggling to get their chosen gender identity recognized by others (on an individual and societal level).
    • Later, in "Legs From Here To Homeworld", the way Blue and Yellow Diamond talk about White Diamond and her temper comes across as older siblings trying to keep their younger sibling safe from an Abusive Parent.
    • In "Change Your Mind", the gentle way Blue says "She prefers to be called Steven" in the face of Yellow insistently calling Steven "Pink" can come across as a parent learning to accept their child's transitioning. Especially after she herself had repeatedly called him by "Pink" and making him act a certain way, before realizing just how much she had hurt "Pink"/Steven by trying to force him into being someone he was not.
  • 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 still struggles to wrestle control away from Jasper, however, and doing so takes all of her concentration.
  • Doppelmerger:
    • Homeworld fusions are only allowed between the same gem-type. Rubies, a solider caste who look nearly identical to each other, often combine into one large Ruby to defeat their enemies.
    • In the Season 5 finale "Change Your Mind", Steven's gem is forcibly removed from his body by White Diamond, and it forms a pink Gem version of him. The two recombine back to the full Steven with a dance.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The opening credits are sung by the Crystal Gems, plus Steven.
  • Downer Ending:
    • "Monster Buddies": Ends with Centipeetle, who is Steven's pet for this episode, getting crushed under a falling stalactite and Steven watch it die slowly. And then we learn that Rose was never able to help these monsters.
    • "Cry for Help": Pearl repairs the Communication Hub so that she and Garnet will keep fusing into 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 refusing to speak to Pearl and Amethyst and Steven watching the scene somberly.
    • "It Could've Been Great" ends with Peridot praising the original Gem Colony plan and (directly or indirectly) insulting everything that Rose Quartz and the other Crystal Gems had fought for, shattering any trust she had built with them to that point. Even Steven, the All-Loving Hero, is ready to give up on her.
    • "Bismuth" is one of the prime examples. Steven finally meets a new gem that doesn't try and kill him, until she does, and then Steven has to thrust his mother's sword through her gut and watch her poof.
    • Season 3. This season ends with Steven getting solid proof that his mother did indeed murder someone.
    • "Steven's Dream" ends with Blue Diamond kidnapping Greg, and Steven falling to the Earth totally powerless.
  • The Dragon: Jasper is Yellow Diamond's "perfect soldier", sent to accompany Peridot on her mission to Earth and the only Gem the Ruby Squad comes to retrieve following said mission's failure. Though it is later revealed that Jasper was originally under Pink Diamond's court, it is unknown just how loyal Jasper is to Yellow Diamond.
  • 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 age back.
    • "The Message". Homeworld Gems are headed straight for Earth and they've advanced their technology to the point of being unrecognizable to the 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.
    • "Earthlings" and "Back to the Moon" drop two of these bombs, and result in the most emotional fall-out in seasons 4 and 5. It starts with Jasper's condemning of Steven (who she realizes too late is not Rose like she thought) that reveals all her actions on Earth were to get revenge on a fallen Pink Diamond, before she succumbs to corruption; and the return of the Ruby Squad adds on that Rose Quartz was the one to shatter Pink Diamond, which completely crushes Steven's foundational beliefs about his mother.
    • "A Single Pale Rose" outdoes them all, and adds on to the fallout. Pearl is revealed to have served Pink Diamond before and during the Gem War. Not only that, Pink Diamond and CG!Rose Quartz are one and the same Gem, and Pink planned to abandon her rule of Earth to live among its inhabitants after she received it as her first colony and observed all of its life in all its forms.
  • Dramedy: Oh, absolutely. The show is notorious for how fast and effective it is at being alternatively funny, sad, and heartwarming within its short run-time.
  • Dream Episode:
    • "Chille Tid" is about Steven and the Gems trying to rest up after searching for Lapis Lazuli all night, but Steven keeps dreaming about Lapis and eventually figures out he's entering her mind.
    • "Kiki's Pizza Delivery Service": Kiki has a reoccurring nightmare about drowning in pizza goo which Steven uses his powers to help save her from every night. She only gets better after she confronts her sister in real life.
  • Dream Walker: In "Chille Tid", Steven communicates with Lapis (and Malachite) during a dream sequence. Later, he takes this a step further, allowing him to possess Watermelon Stevens while he's asleep. "The New Lars" and "Kiki's Pizza Delivery Service" reveal that Steven can possess humans and enter their dreams, respectively.
  • Driving Question: In season 5, specially after "The Trial", a new mystery arises to haunt Steven, which becomes something of a central plot point: What truly happened to Pink Diamond? Near the end of the season, the Wham Episode "A Single Pale Rose" answers this question. Now, the driving question is what Steven and the Crystal Gems will do with this knowledge.
  • 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.
    • And now we have Smoky Quartz, who combines Amethyst's whip and Steven's shield to wield up to three yo-yos at once.
  • 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.
  • Dub Name Change: In Latin America, all the gems names are changed to their faithful translations in Spanish (Pearl to Perla, Amethyst to Amatista, Yellow Diamond to Diamante Amarillo, etc) with the exception of Garnet and Peridot. There is an inconsistency with Pink Diamond name, as it varies between Diamante Rosa and Diamante Rosado, both correct regardless. The name of the group, the Crystal Gems, is only translated in the opening song as "las Gemas de Cristal" and the song "Who we are" of the movie, but it remains unchanged in the show.