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  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • Many of the secondary Beach City Residents make brief cameos in earlier episodes before they are properly established, such as Mr. Smiley staring at the Red Eye in "Laser Light Cannon", and the Cool Kids being attacked by Frybo.
    • In "Rose's Room", the Tiny Whale speaks with the voice of Rose Quartz, who doesn't receive a proper introduction until "Lion 3: Straight to Video".
    • A musical case: the middle of I'm Still Here, from the end scene of "Rose's Scabbard", contains a very subtle nod to Do It For Her, which isn't heard until "Sworn to the Sword", a dozen or so episodes later.
    • Connie mentioned reading the Unfamiliar Familiar series in the comic about three months before it was brought up in the show itself.
    • Bismuth's gem was previously seen bubbled in Lion's Mane back in "Lion 3: Straight to Video", with her (simplified) physical form appearing during Lapis' flashback sequence in "Same Old World."
    • When Garnet merges with Amethyst in Coach Steven, there are three gems within her outline, showing that Garnet is a fusion, later revealed to be Ruby and Sapphire.
      • Ruby and Sapphire get another cameo in Fusion Cuisine when Alexandrite de-fuses. For a couple of frames, the Crystal Gems are shown as white silhouettes, and Garnet is shown as two small figures each with one gem, who merge back into Garnet by the time the Gems are back to normal.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Other than the extremely different designs, there are a good many differences between the actual series and the pilot. Steven was a bit rougher around the edges (going back in time to insult Lars), their home was called the Crystal Palace, as opposed to the Crystal Temple (or just The Temple), Pearl joined in on Amethyst's ribbing of Steven, and the color palette was more like Regular Show's.
    • Character designs in the first season are not as Animesque and are more simplistic looking compared to season 2 and up.
    • There was some fuzzyness about whether or not the Gems needed to eat, with some of the first few episodes suggesting that the Gems do eat. This is particularly evident in episodes like "Together Breakfast", where Steven tries to make breakfast for the Gems; and "Too Many Birthdays" where Pearl says that she likes pienote . Eventually it was settled that Gems do not need to eat, but that Amethyst (and occasionally Garnet) does so because she enjoys it.
    • Early episodes have a looser handle on some aspects of the Gems' lore and mission. In the first few episodes, the Gems fight a giant egg-laying bird and an evil painting and have a quest involving the "Moon Goddess statue". None of these things fit well into Gem lore as revealed in later episodes.
    • The writers understandably didn't have perfect grasps of the characters right from the start. Amethyst seems to care less about what the others think of her, when it's later revealed that she wants their acknowledgement. Pearl seems more confident in her own decisions, which just kind of emphasizes her flaws, when she later says that she's meant to follow more than lead. Garnet is the most notable, however, as the character with the most complex backstory but least growth during the show. She starts more enigmatic, with less time for others even if she's still the most sensible and helpful of the three. But the writers seemed to get a grasp on things in almost record time, well before the end of the first season.
    • Rose's hair, in her first on-screen appearance, had clearly defined ringlets, and seemed to have some kind of shine to them. All of her appearances afterward had her hair with a style similar to the rest of the cast, with some defined ringlets here and there.
    • Steven Universe originally had a Monster of the Week format. Since Jail Break, or arguably even Ocean Gem, the tone shifted dramatically to be more about character interactions and plot progression, although said monsters are still important to the narrative and show up occasionally.
    • Connie mentions that her family moves around a lot in her introductory episode, which is likely from a time in production where she was meant to be a minor character, and would eventually stop showing up. This is never brought up again, since she quickly becomes a major character (and Steven's best friend) and stays that way for the rest of the show's run.
  • Ear Worm:
    • In "Sadie's Song", the song in question is a pop number described as such:
    Sadie: It's so cheesy, and dumb, and, and catchy... and I know every single word.
    • Around the beginning of "Mr. Greg", Greg sings "Don't Cost Nothin'", which Pearl reacts with disdain to. She later sings the song and admits she remembers it because it's catchy.
  • Easily Forgiven: Averted, for the most part. Just because one character (usually Steven) will forgive an offense easily doesn't mean that someone else will. For example, while Steven instantly forgave Lapis for all of her wrongdoings, her other victims (Greg and Connie) don't follow suit. For Greg, he brings up what she did to him, implying that he's doesn't forgive what she did but spends the rest of their time together just not bringing it up. And Connie clearly doesn't forgive Lapis for her actions.
    • When Pearl betrayed Garnet's trust in "Cry for Help", Amethyst was quick to forgive Pearl's actions due to sympathizing with Pearl's feelings of inferiority. Garnet, however, averted this trope by becoming so furious that it took the following episode to forgive her and several episodes later to start trusting her again.
    • When the Crystal Gems learn that Rose Quartz was Pink Diamond the whole time, Garnet defused. Ruby and Greg forgave her immediately, but Sapphire was so upset that she didn't forgive her until after a long conversation with Pearl explaining her reasoning for her actions.
    • Despite everything she's done to them, Yellow, Blue and Steven forgive White Diamond easily.
  • Eating Optional:
    • Full Gems don't need to eat at all, though they can. Amethyst frequently indulges herself, and Garnet is said to eat occasionally, but Pearl dislikes and avoids eating. Steven, however, appears to have no choice in the matter, as his body is organic.
    • After being resurrected by Steven, Lars appears to no longer need to eat — or at the very least, he gets hungry a lot less. Since Lion is implied to have been through the same circumstances, eating is probably mostly if not entirely optional for him, as well, though Lion can sometimes be seen snacking on strange crystal lizards and "Lion Licker" ice cream bars.
  • Eldritch Location:
    • The Gem Temple has water which doesn't obey gravity, areas where gravity isn't consistent, and is implied to be alive (it has numerous body parts and a heart).
    • In "Serious Steven", the Gems freak out because the pyramid they've entered appears to be one of these; no matter which direction they go, they always seem to end up in the same room. However, it turns out that the outer chambers of the temple were merely rotating, presumably to confound potential intruders.
  • Electric Love: Garnet is a fusion (essentially a Fusion Dance of two or more gems that serves as a rough metaphor for their relationship) whose component gems are in a romantic relationship. She has Shock and Awe powers (despite Ruby and Sapphire, her component gems, having fire and ice powers respectively).
  • Eleven O'Clock Number: The episode "Mr. Greg" had "Both of You" a song sung by Steven to help Pearl and Greg make-up.
  • Ending Theme: The show has had about 20 different ending themes so far, each one being a segment of the full song, "Love Like You", or an instrumental variation of the themes in said song.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: "Catch and Release" and "When It Rains" reveal the reason why Peridot's so desperate to leave Earth. When the Cluster hatches, it will literally hatch from the earth, destroying the whole planet. Luckily Steven manages to get through to it in time.
  • Enslaved Tongue: White Diamond's mind control allows her complete and total control over the affected Gem, including speaking through them with her voice.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: In "The Trial", Steven is put on trial by Blue and Yellow Diamond, who want to see "Rose Quartz" answer for her crime of shattering Pink Diamond. During the trial, the Blue Zircon assigned to defend Steven realizes that the known details about the crime don't add up. For starters, how did Rose, by then a known war criminal, get anywhere near Pink Diamond in the first place? The conclusion Blue Zircon reaches is that Pink was lured from safety by someone she knew and trusted, and the only ones she knew, trusted, and could have shattered her were the other Diamonds. "A Single Pale Rose" reveals that Blue Zircon was very close, but would never have considered the truth: The one responsible for Pink Diamond's shattering was Pink Diamond herself. She faked the whole thing because she was Rose Quartz all along and wanted to shed her Diamond persona entirely in favor of living on Earth.
  • Episode Title Card: Every episode has a title card displaying the same view of the beach near the Gem Temple with one of the temple's hands in the foreground, holding a washing machine and a clothesline with some of Steven's clothing on it. Various details, such as the weather and time of day, are changed to reflect how it would look at the start of the episode, usually a blue and pink day time palette, with the most common variants being a pinkish orange morning/evening palette and the nighttime blue palette used in the credits. "Jail Break" instead shows outer space because the Crystal Gems begin the episode as prisoners in a spaceship. The "Barn Arc" in seasons 2 and 3 also gets its own title card, a picturesque country scene with Steven's laundry hanging up on a line, because the cast are living in the barn to work on the drill. This also extends to "Earthlings", "Kindergarten Kid", and "The Zoo"; the former two have title cards of the Beta Kindergarten while the latter is of the top of the Zoo". Additionally, there are semi-official title cards made by the storyboard artists for each episode that they post online, which have a much greater range of variety (and are sometimes hilariously misleading).
    • Averted in "Bismuth" where the title of the episode doesn't show up until the eponymous character has made her first (full) appearance, presumably because otherwise the title would spoil her appearance.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Peridot is near worship-fully loyal to Yellow Diamond and perfectly fine with Earth being destroyed, but she is first and foremost a Gem of logic and reason. When Yellow Diamond brushes off Peridot's well-reasoned and logical argument for why Earth should be spared in favor of petty revenge against Rose, Peridot does not take it well. She insults Yellow Diamond and helps stop the Cluster.
  • Everybody Cries: Steven loves watching the "Crying Breakfast Friends", a Show Within a Show where every breakfast item cries perpetually.
  • Everyone Has Standards: The Cool Kids may be typically rebellious teens who bypass police tape for a thrill, but "There is nothing lame about seatbelt safety". That car isn't moving until everyone buckles up.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Steven's mother, Rose Quartz has three:
      • Jasper. They're both varieties of quartz, Rose was enormous, beautiful, loved everything and everyone, and fought for Earth. Jasper is enormous, garish, tries to kill the Crystal Gems in their first meeting, and wants to destroy Earth. And while Rose betrayed and shattered Pink Diamond, Jasper remained loyal to her.
      • Yellow Diamond. They're both leaders for their respective factions and are both adored by their subjects, but while Rose was A Mother To Her Gems, forgiving, and saw beauty in everything, Yellow Diamond is a cold, callous Bad Boss who destroys planets with organic life routinely.
      • Pink Diamond, her former superior, whom Jasper and Yellow Diamond both loved in their own ways. Both are pink-colored Gems with their gemstones on their navels. Rose is kind, caring, values organic life, and is a Benevolent Boss to her fellow Crystal Gems, whereas Pink Diamond is cruel, tyrannical, cowardly, and is a Bad Boss to her subjects. In "A Single Pale Rose", it's revealed that they're the same person.
    • Kiki has Jenny in a mild form of this. Jenny even considers herself to be “the bad twin” and is always out partying while Kiki does the chores around their family’s pizza joint.
    • Peedee has Ronaldo.
    • Steven has Onion: Both are considered strange by their community, both wander around town without supervision and both go on adventures. Both are implied to be not entirely human. If Vidalia is human and Yellowtail is an alien then they are both Half-Human Hybrids too. However, Steven is kind while Onion is mischievous.
    • Greg has Marty: Both of them are single dads who used to work in the music industry and both have teenage sons who love music, but Greg chooses to be in Steven’s life while Marty doesn’t want to be in Sour Cream’s.
    • Garnet has Malachite: Both are semi-permanent powerful fusions. The former is based on love and the latter is based on hate.
    • Pearl has Peridot before her Heel–Face Turn: Both are socially awkward nerds who are easily rattled, but very intelligent and resourceful.
    • Amethyst has Jasper: Both are strong Quartzes who were made on Earth and are very determined,passionate,rough,and tomboyish but while Amethyst is a runt with a heart of gold, Jasper is a super Quartz with a superiority complex.
    • Lapis has Navy: Both were trapped on Earth and both befriended Steven and he helped both of them get home. They both also have similar appeals. But while Lapis let him heal her gem, Navy tricked him into letting her steal their space ship. Lapis went from wanting to steal the ocean to having a Heel–Face Turn, while Navy pretended to have one before betraying the Gems.
    • Peridot has Aquamarine: Both are small tyrannical invaders who use technology more than their own powers. Both are also quite hammy.
    • Lars has Emerald: Both miss their “best friends”; Lars cries over Sadie moving on, while Emerald will do anything to get her ship back, including shattering other Gems. They both also appear to be quite moody.
    • Stevonnie has Kevin: Both are sparkly, flirty, popular, and attractive teenagers who seem to attract a crowd of people wherever they go. Both also have great dance moves. But Kevin is an insecure, phony, jerk while Stevonnie is a genuine, confident, nice person.
    • Ruby has Eyeball: Pretty self-explanatory, Eyeball=evil Ruby.
    • Sapphire has Holly Blue Agate: Both are higher ranking blue gems who are very feminine. However, Sapphire was noticeably nice to the Rubies who served her, while Holly Blue Agate is notably abusive toward her Amethysts.
    • Yellow Pearl is this to Pearl the same way Eyeball is this to Ruby.
    • Bismuth has Yellow Diamond.
    • Another one that might be the biggest one in the series is Pink Diamond and White Diamond. We don't know much about White yet, but from her first appearance, there are already parallels and contrast. They are both royalty, the queens of Homeworld and Earth respectively. Both Pink and White are both very interested with creating life, almost obsessively. White wants more gems and so does Pink, but Pink values organic life as well as Gem life and wants both to be happy and free, White does not and is heavily implied to be abusive to her "daughters" and her subjects as well as genocidal to other species. White also values conformity while Pink values individuality. Both appear sweet and nurturing on the surface but can be condescending, insensitive, and selfish. Sometimes they might be unaware of this. Both are very feminine and stylish. Both are implied to have strong tempers. Both are great Chessmasters and are quite manipulative. The last similarity is that they are both implied to be a little bit mentally unsound, despite their intelligence. Pink is a little bit eccentric and White is a little bit off.
    • Before the Cluster’s Heel–Face Turn it was this to Fluorite.
    • Spinel is another one to Pink Diamond.
    • Bluebird Azurite is one to Garnet.
    • Cactus Steven is one to the Watermelon Stevens and Pumpkin.

  • Exactly What I Aimed At:
    • Pearl does this in "Keeping It Together" when Peridot runs up a wall. Pearl throws her spear up and Peridot barely ducks, only to learn that she aimed at a deactivated injector, which promptly falls on her.
    • A variation occurs much earlier in "Coach Steven" at the end of Pearl's fight with Sugilite. After luring her to the edge of the beach cliff, Pearl throws her spear at her feet to knock her off. The attack seemingly does nothing as Sugilite lands harmlessly. Unfortunately for her, her Epic Flail came falling after.
      Sugilite: Is that all you got? You think that's enough to bea—? (conked on the head and poofed)
    • Later on during "Crack the Whip", Stevonnie throws their shield at Jasper who catches it... which was exactly what Stevonnie wanted, as it leaves Jasper wide open to an overhead slash with their sword.
  • Exact Words: At one point Greg asked Rose to watch a baby Sour Cream (it's a long story) while he goes to grab something in Greg The Babysitter. He meant for her to take care of him, but Rose thought he meant that she should merely observe him. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Excited Show Title!: The Show Within a Show Crying Breakfast Friends!
  • Expository Theme Tune: The Crystal Gems' purpose and names are all laid out in the twenty second long theme song, as at the top of the main page. The longer, extended version also gives the backstory of the Gems being aliens from another planet and their motivations as both individuals and a group.
  • Expressive Mask: Of the glasses variant. Garnet commonly has these when she's boarded by Jeff Liu.
  • Extra-Long Episode: "Bismuth", "Gem Harvest", and "Reunited" are twice as long as regular episodes.
    • "Change Your Mind" doubles the above, making it four times as long as regular episodes.
  • Eye Catch: Used in the 100th half-hour special "Bismuth"; after each commercial break, a short animation of the Crystal Gems (including Bismuth) arriving onto a warp pad plays, with Steven running to them, then tripping and parlaying it into a pose. (It's repeated for both act breaks with a different-colored background for each.)
  • Failed a Spot Check: In "Nightmare Hospital", somehow the hospital staff mistook two fusion monsters for human patients. Even worse, they think it was a car accident despite that not explaining how anyone can grow extra limbs or live without a head.
  • False Confession: In "The Trial", Steven feels he must take responsibility for his mother's actions, and confesses to not only being his mother Rose Quartz, but to shattering Pink Diamond. Blue questions how he did it, and it becomes abundantly clear that Steven is taking the blame and doesn't actually know how it happened. Eventually, Zircon realizes that the whole situation doesn't actually make sense, and concludes someone close to Pink Diamond would have had to do it, someone who would be able to simply rush a Palanquin without being suspicious, and gets a little ahead of herself by blaming Blue and Yellow Diamond. Needless to say, Yellow poofs her for it, and then tries to take out Steven while Steven and Lars make a run for it in a Palanquin.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Averted in "Onion Friend". The first thing we see Vidalia do is demanding to know why strangers are on her property with a shotgun in her hand.
  • Family Theme Naming:
    • Fryman's kids, Peedee and Ronaldo, are both named after McDonald's mascots (Speedee and Ronald).
    • Vidalia's kids are named Sour Cream and Onion (after a flavor of chips), and "Vidalia" is a type of onion itself.
    • Bill and Buck Dewey both have names referring to a one-dollar bill.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence:
    • Gems have gotten all sorts of fun injuries like being stabbed through the gut, getting split in half, and having their torsos crushed.
    • When Pearl fights the animated Frybo costume, she stabs it in the eye, resulting in a geyser of blood that knocks Pearl off her feet. It spends the rest of the fight with her spear in its eye and blood covering half of its face. The fact that the blood is really ketchup does little to make the scene less gruesome.
  • Fan Disservice:
  • Fanservice: Being a family cartoon, it's far from a high priority in the series, but it does happen to various extents.
    • Many fusion dances involve at least some degree of this, particularly the one that formed Sardonyx.
    • "Garnet's Universe" has the scene with Garnet training under a waterfall in what appears to be a sports bra.
    • Speaking of, Garnet tends to have the most attention in this regard. "Love Letters" has a solid 15 seconds of Garnet sensually dripping with seawater as she walks out of the ocean. Jamie's noticeably taken by the sight.
    • "House Guest" has Pearl walking in splattered with motor oil and taking a moment to clean herself off.
    • While singing to herself in "Sadie's Song", the camera takes a moment to focus on the title character's backside while she gets caught in the moment.
    • After Steven and Connie fuse into Stevonnie for the first time... let's just say that the camera puts a lot of emphasis on the new, aged-up body they form.
    • Amethyst poses as a model in "Back to the Barn", wearing a bra and boy underwear.
    • Lapis' regular outfit exposes her back, since that's where her gem is. Her baseball uniform in "Hit the Diamond" includes a bared midriff.
    • Pearl wearing a tux in "Mr. Greg".
    • The Diamonds' Blue and Yellow Pearls are... rather scantily clad.
    • In "Restaurant Wars", Garnet and Pearl rock their waiter uniforms.
    • Pearl's rebel outfit in "Last One Out of Beach City".
  • Fantastic Angst:
    • Steven, a human-alien hybrid, grapples with mixed feelings about his (alien) mother, who gave up her physical form so that he could be born.
    • Steven's parental figures feel like they're failing him because they feel desperately unprepared and have no idea if they're raising him right/the way his mother would have wanted; no other Half-Human Hybrids exist and they don't know how to help him balance his Gem traits with his human traits.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The Gem Homeworld is confirmed to have one in "Back to the Barn", with different Gems having different roles. As the show goes on, more information is provided about Gems and their places in the caste.
    • Pearls are a made-to-order Servant Race.
    • Peridots seem to be technicians and are quite low on the social ladder.
    • The Guide to the Crystal Gems book stated that Rose Quartz, Steven, Jasper, and Amethyst are all Quartz-type Gems. Apparently they're one of the higher-ranking types. This seems to indicate that they're meant as a soldier/leadership caste, given the roles of the three full Gems. Supported in "Too Far", in which Peridot mentions that Amethyst should be the one in charge of the Crystal Gems. However, she also calls her "defective" due to being abnormally small for a Quartz-type Gem.
      • Agates are a subtype of Quartzes apparently made specifically to terrify and bully lower-ranking Gems into obedience.
    • Bismuths are architects, builders, and blacksmiths.
    • Rubies are bodyguards, grunt soldiers and shock-troops, literally Red Shirts.
    • Sapphires are very rare and are seen as aristocrats. Their future vision likely makes them tactical advisers to the diamonds.
    • Lapis Lazuli gems are made to terraform colony worlds, presumably by removing the water, since there are no visible bodies of water on gem colonies.
    • Topazes are muscle, but they're higher-caste than Quartzes are.
    • Zircons are lawyers.
    • Nephrites are pilots.
    • Morganites are unknown, but high enough ranking that one has her own Pearl.
    • Emeralds seem to be generals and are extremely high-caste.
    • Diamonds are at the very top of the totem pole, and rule over Gem society. There's also only three of them. There used to be 4
    • Rebecca Sugar stated in an interview about the book that the Homeworld Gems have a very strict system of social rules. When two Gems of the same "type" fuse, the resulting fusion is of the same type and not that much stronger. When two Gems of different types fuse, however, it creates an entirely different type of Gem, drastically stronger than the sum of its parts. Garnet is one such example, and she said in the guide that it was unusual for Gems of different types to fuse the first time Sapphire and Ruby formed her.
  • Fantastic Nuke: Whatever the Diamonds did that corrupted almost every Gem left on Earth after they retreated.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The Homeworld Gems towards humans (that is, all Gems except Steven, who is half human), to varying degrees, and heavily subject to character development.
      • Rose Quartz, despite launching a war against her own kind to defend humanity, had a benevolently paternalistic relationship with humans that only began changing after she met Greg.
      • Pearl has a distantly clinical view of humanity, and joined Rose's rebellion entirely out of loyalty to Rose, rather than on the humans' behalf. She continues to defend humanity in Rose's name because that's what Rose would have wanted. Though this attitude is slowly changing due to Steven's influence, her relations with Greg, and humans in general, remain aloof.
      • Similarly, Garnet seemingly fought for Earth in the rebellion more to establish a home where she could live permanently as a fusion. Her views towards the human race are unclear, though like the other Gems she rarely interacts with them.
      • Amethyst is the Crystal Gem (sans Steven) who pals around with humans the most (she was "born" and raised on Earth and considers it her home), but she found Pearl's speech on how "humans live short, boring, and insignificant lives" funny.
      • Loyalist Homeworld Gems, like Peridot and Jasper, are on the opposite side of the spectrum, viewing humans as little more than talking vermin. Again due to Steven's influence, though, Peridot seems to be coming around.
    • Homeworld Gem society (thanks to the caste system mentioned above) features a lot of this. In fact the core Crystal Gems are each examples of a different Homeworld prejudice that is analogous to a real-world one:
      • Homophobia: On Homeworld, fusion is only permitted between Gems of the same type, and then only temporarily for practical purposes (such as for tactical advantage in battle). Garnet is considered "disgusting" and "shameful" because she's a fusion of two different kinds of Gem, who choose to be permanently fused with each other out of love. Topaz, made of two separate Topazes, reveal to Steven that they have feelings for one another, and when they rebel against Aquamarine are threatened with separation and shattering, with Aquamarine commenting, "That's the problem with you fusions. Sooner or later, you all become sentimental." The Off Colors Rhodonite and Fluorite were persecuted on Homeworld for the same reasons: Rhodonite's component Ruby and Pearl were immediately replaced by their Morganite owner, and Fluorite is an unusually compatible (as well as unusually large and caterpillar-like) six-member permanent fusion.
      • Ableism: Quartz-type Gems are designed to be tall, broadly-built, physically strong and imposing, as befits their function as soldiers. Amethyst doesn't fit the mould because she incubated in the ground longer than intended, which gets her labelled as "defective" and "a runt" by Jasper, among others. The "Skinny" Jasper and Carnelian, who came out of her hole sideways and is only just taller than Amethyst, are also seen as defective, but were saved to serve along other Amethysts and Jaspers at Pink Diamond's Human Zoo out of pity; all of these Quartzes also all happen have the same jokester personality as the Crystal Gems' Amethyst, which creates an immediate comradery. Rose Quartzes are also seen as defective, with all of them bubbled in the Human Zoo, but only because the Crystal Gems' Rose Quartz is feared as the head of the rebellion that led to the shattering of Pink Diamond. The Off Colors Rutile Twins would have been immediately shattered for being a twinned deformed Gem, but scared away their fellow Rutiles before any could destroy them. The Off Color Padparadscha was abandoned after her Sapphire ability of precognition was found to be defective; her "predictions" are of events that have just happened around her, and thus she reacts everything with a delay.
      • Misogyny: Pearls on Homeworld are a Servant Race, expected to fulfil menial, servile roles for their owners (Yellow and Blue Pearl appear to perform the duties of a secretary / PA and a handmaiden, respectively) and to speak only when they are spoken to. Arguably a more direct analogy for racism / slavery; the misogyny mostly comes in where Pearls are also expected to look pretty for their masters, and that they are patronisingly assumed not to be intelligent, or capable, or good fighters. The Crystal Gems' Pearl has rebelled against these norms with Rose Quartz's help, serving as the Crystal Gems' engineer and one of their guerrilla fighters in the Rebellion.
  • Fantastic Slurs:
    • Most of Peridot's taunts toward the Crystal Gems seem to revolve around comparing them to rocks or dirt. "Clod" (though this insult exists in real life as well, Peridot seems to be using it in a different context) is her insult of choice, "dirtbomb" she's only used once, and she's referred to Steven as a "pebble" (seemingly the Gem equivalent of "brat") at least once. This makes sense, as Homeworld Gems are ranked based on what Gem caste they are, with the most rare and perfect, the Diamonds, at the top: to be called a common dirt lump or rock isn't just a literal insult, it's reducing them in station to being utterly worthless.
      • Additionally, it is interesting to note that clods and dirt are organic, and the contempt that Yellow Diamond shows for organic life may be reflected in their usage as insults.
    • Peridot also once used the term "filthy war machine" as a slur against fusion gems.
    • In "Rocknaldo", Ronaldo calls the Crystal Gems "rock people", and Steven isn't very happy about it at all.
    • "Dull" is another insult used by Homeworld Gems, usually in reference to a gem who is unintelligent or doesn't fit the caste system.
  • Fantastically Indifferent: Gems have been on Earth since at least the beginning of recorded human civilization (one comment by Pearl in "Political Power" implies they've been on Earth since before humans started moving away from hunting and gathering 12,000 years ago). The citizens of Beach City at least are largely indifferent to them and Ronaldo considers their activities as an explanation for all the weirdness in town as too simple and mundane.
  • Feud Episode:
  • Fictional Earth: The cartoon takes place on an alternate Earth with a number of subtle differences, such as the money having diamonds on it instead of Presidents' faces. More importantly, the map is quite different: a large chunk of Siberia is missing, part of Africa is attached to South America, and Australia is cut in half. Justified since Earth was colonized by Homeworld to produce more Gems, resulting in the aforementioned changes.
  • Fictional Disability: Gems are an artificially created for specific purposes in their Fantastic Caste System. At times however, the circumstances of their "birth" leave them with various defects of deformities, giving them different body-types and even differences in their powers, abilities and mindsets. These types of gems are referred to as "Off-Color." Due to the strict caste system, these gems are usually discarded, persecuted and even exterminated.
    • Amethysts are quartz gems designed to be tall, buff intimidating soldiers. Amethyst from the Crystal Gems however did not finishing forming until long after the others, coming out just barely half the height of what an amethyst should be. This also applies to the various quartz gems at the zoo, such as Skinny and Carnelian. It is implied through Peridot's observation of the Beta kindergarten on Earth that many of the gems there were created under lax conditions in a hurry due to the war.
    • Peridot is an era 2 peridot created under an environment where resources in creating gems on homeworld have dwindled. This is the explanation for why Peridot lacks many of the powers associated with gems (shapeshifting, super strength etc.) and possibly for her short stature. To compensate, era 2 peridots are equipped with technological limb enhancers. Although it turns out that Peridot, at least, also has ferrokinetic powers.
    • The Rutile Twins' gems fused together in their incubation process, giving them two upper halves.
    • Sapphires are short aristocratic gems with the power to see ahead into the future (or at least a probable future). Padparadscha is an off-color sapphire who possesses retrocognition, blurting out events that have already happened. She lives on the run with the other Off-Colors in the long abandoned Homeworld kindergarten.
  • Fictional Province:
    • Beach City is located in Delmarva, a state named after the real-life Delmarva Peninsula, where the states of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia converge. On his blog, Ronaldo mentions DelmarvaCon, which is held in Charm City, the nickname for Baltimore, Maryland, implying that Delmarva covers Maryland in this setting.
    • In "Keystone Motel", the characters visit the Keystone State, which is the nickname of Pennsylvania, only here it's the actual name of the state.
    • In "Mr. Greg", Steven, Greg, and Pearl go to Empire City, a city in the state of Empire, not New York.
  • Field of Blades: The Strawberry Fields, the last great battle of the Rebellion is filled with Weapon Tombstones of the Gems who fought there. It is located in what in our world is Norway.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: "Mindful Education" has this with "Here Comes a Thought", showing Ruby and Sapphire working through some of their issues. Ruby is set off at one particular incident and stews over it, while Sapphire is swarmed with thousands of burdens before Ruby comes back to help her through it. As Ruby, Sapphire, Steven, and Connie lay on the ground after that sequence, Connie lies next to Ruby while Steven's closer to Sapphire. Sure enough, Connie's problem is relatively minor in comparison to Steven's self loathing over his issues with his ever more complex mother and not being able to help Jasper, Eyeball, and Bismuth.
  • Foil:
    • Pearl and Amethyst. Pearl is a precise and orderly perfectionist with an almost ballerina-like elegance and is also very thin with short hair. Amethyst is a lazy and kind of sloppy trickster. She's plump and short with Rapunzel Hair.
    • Ruby and Sapphire. Ruby is hot-headed and emotional, and it's implied that she constantly hurts herself trying to get out of her cage in "Jailbreak." Sapphire is calm and collected and simply sings to calm Ruby down. They're also red and blue respectively. "Keystone Motel" further exemplifies this, as Sapphire is willing to forgive Pearl for tricking them, while Ruby is literally fuming with rage over it. The reason being that Ruby gets so emotional that she's essentially stuck in the present, only thinking about how mad she is rather than any actual solutions. Sapphire on the other hand focuses too much on the future where the problem has already been solved and didn't notice the emotional strain that exists before the actual resolution. It's practically taken Up to Eleven with the reveal that Ruby and Sapphire seem to have fire and ice themed powers, respectively.
    • Rose Quartz and Jasper. Rose Quartz was gorgeous and elegant, softly curved and with a soothing voice. She was also incredibly kind and adored Earth. Jasper is much more masculine and rugged, rough around the edges with a kind of growling voice. She's also a straightforward villain and despises Earth.
      • A more extreme example would be Rose Quartz and Yellow Diamond. Rose Quartz is the Big Good, kindly and compassionate, beloved by everyone, and spent thousands of years protecting the planet Earth. Yellow Diamond is the Big Bad, harsh and cruel, feared by everyone, and has spent thousands of years trying to destroy Earth. Rose Quartz is drawn in more detail, especially in the hair and face, to highlight her sublime beauty. Yellow Diamond is also more detailed, but it's more in her neck and face, to make her appear more intimidating and off-putting.
      • Also Yellow Diamond and Pink Diamond. The former is tall and commanding and masculine with short hair. The latter is short (only a foot or so taller then your average Quartz), is considerably nicer, sees the value of life on Earth, wears a skirt and feminine accessories, and has voluminous, poofy hair. Also everything said about Rose applies as Pink Diamond and Rose are the same person.
    • Garnet and Malachite. Garnet is literally "made of love" and is the Nice Girl of the Crystal Gems, as well as the most human-appearing fusion (her only odd feature being her third eye, which is always concealed.) Malachite is made of revenge and hatred and is easily the most monstrous fusion as of yet, with all her limbs being arms, a Slasher Smile, and four eyes.
    • Sugilite and Sardonyx. Sugilite is very destructive, cruel, and rude, and is almost as grotesque as Malachite, and wears a shredded costume. Sugilite does not like being taken apart. Sardonyx, meanwhile, is very nice and optimistic, if not a bit flashy. She's very pretty for a fusion, and wears a neat tuxedo. Although she loves being her, she's completely fine with unfusing.
  • Food as Bribe:
    • In "We Need to Talk", Greg bribed Amethyst to play the drums with pop rocks.
    • Steven bribes Lion with Lion Lickers in order to get him to listen.
  • Food-Based Superpowers: Invoked and subverted in the first episode. Steven's powers first appear when he sings about his favorite ice cream, Cookie Cat, and initially believes his powers come from the ice cream itself. His powers are actually emotion-based and appeared because he was very emotionally attached to said ice cream.
  • Foreshadowing: This show having been planned out years in advance, there's enough foreshadowing for its own page. See also individual episode recaps as well.
  • Forgiveness: Forgiveness is the focal point of a huge portion of the series; for instance, the Week of Sardonyx.
    • In "Keystone Motel", after Garnet finds out in the episode before that Pearl tricked her into fusing, Garnet is absolutely and understandably furious with Pearl to the point of barely even acknowledging her when she's in the same room. This results in a secondary conflict between Ruby and Sapphire; Ruby doesn't want to forgive Pearl, but Sapphire, despite being just as mad as Ruby is, knows the situation will eventually be resolved and believes that Ruby should forgive Pearl sooner rather than later. This leads to a massive argument between the two that splits up Garnet for over 12 hours. Ruby and Sapphire only talk it out rationally after seeing how their arguing was negatively impacting Steven, and re-fuse after reconciling. Garnet ends up forgiving Pearl in the last episode of the arc after Pearl finally admits that she feels useless and worthless without someone telling her what to do, and that she wanted to fuse with Garnet so badly because she loved experiencing what it was like to be in a stable, "perfect" relationship. Realizing that she hasn't been addressing the emotional needs of her teammates, Garnet tells Pearl that she needs her to be strong and self-determinant so that, in her own times of weakness, she can have someone to look to for guidance.
    • In "Too Far", Peridot and Amethyst have started bonding due to Amethyst thinking Peridot is funny. Peridot revels in the attention because she sees Amethyst as the only "real Gem" in the group and the one who should be the team leader, since she's a Quartz. She entertains Amethyst by roasting the other Gems, but ends up hurting Amethyst's feelings when, due to her size, she states that Amethyst incubated in the Kindergarten too long and is, by Homeworld standards, "defective" as a result. Peridot legitimately doesn't understand why Amethyst reacted so negatively to the comment, and feels sad and guilty when Amethyst ignores her. After an incident with a runaway drill head that Peridot saves Amethyst from, Peridot tapes a full apology on her tape recorder and plays it for Amethyst, acknowledging her own wrong-doing and stating that she wants to learn how to interact with her properly. Amethyst gracefully accepts the apology and forgives her, and Peridot states that she feels "big".
    • "Mindful Education" presents Steven and Connie with the revelation that they need to also forgive themselves in addition to forgiving others. The pair stew over the bad things that they've done to others (and any of their problems in general) and lock those feelings away deep within. Without anyone to talk them through it or by not letting themselves forgive themselves for those incidents, they end up with bad cases of self-loathing.
  • Forgot About His Powers:
    • The Gems frequently fail to use their shape-shifting powers in battle when it would be very helpful. Amethyst uses hers for pranks and to amuse Steven, while Garnet and Pearl don't use them at all. It's particularly egregious when Peridot discovers she can turn her artificial hand into a helicopter as an escape route, and none of the Gems ever think of transforming into something that can fly to pursue her. At the very least, Garnet has demonstrated she can stretch her limbs to absurd lengths, more than enough to catch Peridot if need be. "Log Date 7 15 2" implies that they try not to overly rely on it because it's less efficient than their other abilities.
      • Amethyst actually does turn into a helicopter, which the other gems all board, to pursue Peridot later on. Of course, that was a later episode and they still didn't do that when she escaped by flying.
    • When the giant eye/probe is approaching Beach City, their response is to continually throw Amethyst at it, rather than form Opal, who specializes in powerful, long-range attacks. Of course, it's possible that they tried but failed. They still keep throwing Amethyst at it though.
    • Steven mentions how he often does this in "Steven vs. Amethyst"
      Steven: Floating? I forget to use that half the time and the rest of the time my powers aren't guaranteed to work.
  • Fourth-Wall Mail Slot: Several episodes from Season 2 of the official Steven Universe Podcast feature a character, generally the one a particular episode is focused on featuring an interview with their voice actor, answering questions posed by fans on Twitter.
  • Free-Fall Romance: Not romance per se, but Connie snaps Steven out of a horrible Heroic BSoD in 'Mindful Education' with love and forgiveness as they are falling from the Sky Arena.
  • Free-Range Children:
    • Steven frequently runs around Beach City without any adult supervision and often, without letting any of the Gems or his father know where he's headed. Both his dad and the Gems knows this is frequent behavior for him, and his dad often doesn't find a problem with it.
    • Onion just seems to go wherever he wants and do whatever he wants, with his mother only acknowledging that he's a "little troublemaker". It actually ends up biting him in the rear in "Doug Out"; had he not been wandering out at night, Topaz and Aquamarine wouldn't have seen him, and therefore wouldn't have been able to kidnap him.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: There are often very small, easy to miss details, which usually take the form of cute shout-outs to other media, or plot relevant details.
    • In "Steven The Sword Fighter", when Pearl re-forms her physical form, her body fluctuates slightly before settling on her new costume. During the fluctuation, if one looks closely, her form seems to take on several different silhouettes very quickly, including her clothing in "Story for Steven" and "We Need To Talk", and her design in the pilot.
    • There's plenty of Foreshadowing from "Keystone Motel", from Garnet's twitchiness to Sapphire's tear stream.
    • In "Serious Steven" the Gems discover a pyramid with hieroglyphs on the walls inside depicting Rose Quartz protecting tiny humans from the attack of another Gem (who is shown again surrounded by giant hands like the space ship that appears in later episodes), but this is only on screen for a few seconds. In the same episode (also a Rewatch Bonus), the four-triangle symbol on the floor of the pyramid is the same as the one in Peridot's ship.
    • Unusual coins and dollar bills are subtle early indicators that the show takes place in an alternate Earth with a different history and geography.
    • One of the biggest hints to Garnet being a fusion is a single frame where Alexandrite de-fuses into her component gems, you can briefly see the bodies of Sapphire and Ruby just before they jumble back together as Garnet.

  • Freeze Sneeze. 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.

  • Freudian Excuse:
    • Amethyst behaves like a rebellious trickster to take her mind away from the fact she was grown to be a "bad Gem", and is worried what others think of her.
    • Lapis tried to drown the other Crystal Gems (sans Steven) for trapping her in a mirror for millennia.
    • Lars acts like a Jerkass to Steven because of an embarrassing moment in his past, and thinks Steven will ruin his chance to make friends.
    • Peridot has been hostile towards the Gems mostly for destroying her things because they falsely believe she's evil. While this is somewhat true at first, the reason she's trying to contact Yellow Diamond is to save the planet from being destroyed by the Cluster.
  • From Bad to Worse:
    • In "Keystone Motel", we first already have the conflict between Pearl and Garnet at home, then the conflict between Ruby and Sapphire at the motel, then the two of them (unknowingly) wreaking havoc there and at the diner (for the latter, Ruby goes out of control and continues arguing with Sapphire as strongly as ever). In response to the last one, Steven storms out in anger and lampshades how everything up to this point has been nothing but awful. At that, Ruby and Sapphire finally make up and re-fuse into Garnet.
    • In "Barn Mates", Lapis becomes increasingly frustrated with Peridot as the episode progresses, and Peridot keeps getting more confused herself regarding Lapis's dismissive behavior. The last straw for Lapis is when she crunches up Peridot's tape recorder, a gift that Peridot tried to give to her.
  • Fusion Dance: A frequently used literal example, possibly second in line to the throne of trope codifier. Multiple Gems are capable of fusing into a larger and stronger one through dance. As shown a few times, the dance isn't strictly necessary, it just helps.

    G - I 
  • Gaia's Lament: The Kindergarten, where Quartz Gems like Amethyst are artificially grown, is a bleak, lifeless canyon due to the Gem production process draining the life force of the surrounding area. If the colonization project hadn't been shut down, the whole planet would've followed suit.
  • Gem Tissue: Gems are called gems for this. In fact Garnet even provides the trope image.
  • Girls Like Musicians: Greg Universe was a fledgling rock star who had one of his modest concerts attended by Rose Quartz, a "magical alien" known as a Gem, and the leader of the rebel faction known as the Crystal Gems. Drawn by Greg's personality and love of music, the two began a romantic courtship that consummated in the birth of their son and eponymous protagonist, the cost of Rose's own life.
  • Glasses Curiosity: In "An Indirect Kiss," Steven asks Connie if he can wear her glasses in exchange for him continuing to tell her the story of why there's a fence around a cliff. She agrees, in exchange for his juice box, and he wears them for much of the remainder of the episode.
    Steven: How do I look?
    Connie: (squints) I have no idea.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The Gemstone Amalgamations beneath the Kindergarten appear to be this at first. Homeworld wanted to find a way to use Gem fusion just to get more power but really missed the point of it; later, it's revealed that these were just prototypes for the Cluster.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Jasper is an unlockable character in Spike Squad, a Flash volleyball game on Cartoon Network's website.
  • Good Costume Switch:
    • Discussed in Steven Universe, when Peridot joins the Crystal Gems.
      Peridot: Am I gonna have to wear a star? Where am I gonna put the star?
    • As shown in "The Answer", when Sapphire defected from the Gem Homeworld, her dress changed from including a diamond (the symbol of Homeworld) on the front to a stripe.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language:
    • In "Future Vision", Steven and Garnet's workout music is done in K-Pop style of "Korean National Gymnastics". The Korean lyrics translate to "Let's work out: One, two, two, two, three, two, four, two...."
    • In "Winter Forecast", Connie knows a bit of the Japanese language when she says "Itadakimasu", translated as "Let's eat". The longer form, "Itadakimasu gochisōsamadeshita", is a short, informal table grace translated as "Thank you for the meal".
    • In "Monster Buddies", when Centipeetle knocks Amethyst's sandwich out of her hand, and it gets dissolved in the acid, Amethyst utters some Gratuitous Spanish when she cries out "Nooo! Mi torta!" A torta is a Hispanic-style sandwich served hot or cold on an oblong bun, with avocados, chili peppers, tomatoes, onions, and the meat of choice.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Diamonds fulfill this role in the show. They are responsible for the corruption of most of the Rebellion, and each Diamond in particular influenced part of the plot. Yellow Diamond sent Jasper, Peridot, and the Rubies to Earth, Pink Diamond was the one in charge of the Earth colony, and Blue Diamond judging from what Yellow Diamond says to her in That Will Be All, may be the cause of the Diamonds coming to Earth again. Later seasons establish White Diamond to be a villain of an even greater scope than Yellow and Blue Diamond.
  • Great Offscreen War: Pearl, Garnet, and Rose Quartz were all part of a great galactic Gem war long, long ago. When it was revealed that the Gems were planning on doing something that would seriously harm the Earth, they decided to fight back to protect the Earth, even if it meant exiling themselves and cutting off access to the planet from other Gems.
  • Growing with the Audience: The show becomes more wrought with mature elements with each passing season, although it always remains child-friendly so as not to leave new audiences out.
  • The Grim Reaper: With her hood and cloak and gloomy disposition, Blue Diamond gives this vibe. Considering her people's role as a Horde of Alien Locusts, it fits.
  • Hair Flip:
    • Amethyst flips her Rapunzel Hair in the first opening song.
    • Rainbow Quartz does a particularly dramatic one upon forming in "We Need To Talk".
  • Half-Arc Season: Episodes in a season regularly switch between one-offs and stories that advance the Myth Arc or otherwise contribute to World Building. Although you can't immediately be certain if the episode is important or not.
    Rebecca Sugar: I think I went through something as a cartoon fan, I had this moment where I loved fun, self-contained cartoons when I was little, and then at a certain point, I only liked long serialized stories. If it’s not over 26 episodes, what’s the point? But then I realized later, it’s hard to make a story that fits, a cartoon that starts and finishes and can be complete, but with stories that take 26 episodes to tell, there’s something a little easier about that. With this show I wanted to do, basically the hardest thing possible, which is self-contained and serialized, see if both were possible.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Steven is half mortal, half gem.
  • Hard Light: Gem bodies are this; they can regenerate or transform easily as long as their gem is okay.
  • Harmful to Minors: Steven is gradually exposed to more and more horrors as the series progresses. The arc that happens between "The Message" and "Full Disclosure" did a number on him in particular.
  • Haughty Help: Despite the fact homeworld considers Pearls as nothing more than status symbols for their owners, Yellow Pearl (Yellow Diamond's Pearl) is snooty, arrogant and shrill gem, who clearly takes large amounts of pride out of her position, even chastising other gems for rule violations, to point where she even admits to considering Pink Diamond "silly". For her part Yellow Diamond seems to encourage this, treating her more like an employee than a possession and giving her actual responsibilities.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Several characters, including Peridot, Lapis, and even all four Diamonds.
  • Hell Is That Noise:
    • The mirror screaming in Steven's voice.
    "Nooooo! NoooooNOOOOOOooooo! NOOOOOOOOO!"
    • The mirror's laugh is incredibly creepy.
    • The garish shriek that the Cluster makes in "Keeping it Together". It sounds like several voices screaming in agony.
    • Jasper ranting YOU. YOU YOU YOU. psychotically when she sees Steven in "Chille Tid".
    • The Cluster talking.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: The interactive book Your Magic Mind and Body allows you to insert your name to create a personalized story.
  • Hero Insurance: While the townspeople certainly don't like the Gems occasionally destroying their property, they don't usually do anything about it—the most that seems to have ever happened is the Gems getting banned from Fish Stew Pizza for wrecking the storefront. The Gems themselves outright don't care; their job is to fight the monsters, property damage is an acceptable consequence, and besides, they were here first ("Historical Friction" elaborates on this a bit more— the Gems warned William Dewey that the area was dangerous, but he founded Beach City there regardless).
    (after the Gems accidentally cause a blackout and Mayor Dewey is begging Steven for help)
    Steven: We'll help you clean up!
    Garnet: (offscreen) No we won't!
    Steven: ...I'll help you clean up!
  • Hero of Another Story: Rose, who led a rebellion against the Great Diamond Authority with an army of Gems at her back and then she spent 5000 years guarding it from continuous attack before the main character was born.
    • Greg Universe, who left in family behind to become a musician, fell in love with an immortal and had a stable and happy life with her for over a decade which culminated in the birth of their child.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Lars. He gets better though.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Despite his cheerful personality, Steven is worried that the Gems will reject him if he doesn't obtain his powers, along with that he also thinks that they blame him for his mother Rose being gone.
    • Amethyst seems like the cool, laid-back slacker of the group, but episodes that focus on her reveal that she is insecure and quick to get angry, to the point where she thinks everyone is out to get her.
    • Pearl acts like a perfectionist and acts self-confident at times, but inside, she's very insecure about her physical strength and is still deeply hurting over Rose's death.
    • On a far less serious note, the episode "Arcade Mania" reveals that Garnet, of all people, really likes video games.
    • Just about every single character who's had more than one line on the screen has shown some level of depth. This can range from something as comedic as making fart jokes to serious underlying issues (most of which are relationship-based). It goes with the world building of the show that no one is absolutely perfect.
  • High School A.U.: Hilary Florido, a storyboarder and eventually a storyboard supervisor, likes to draw episode promos where the characters are in a high school setting. Everyone is human, Rose and Steven coexist, as well as Fusions and their individual components, and Greg is young Greg instead of current Greg. Notably, Steven is a super-professional, fourteen-year-old teacher.
    • In "The Test", Steven is having the characters take a test. Notably, this is the only promo where Greg is depicted as current Greg instead of Young Greg.
    • In "Maximum Capacity", Amethyst and Greg are searching for gym supplies. Another post shows the Gems in gym class, and an advert for the first Steven bomb event from another artist also shows the Gems in gym attire.
    • For "Political Power", Mayor Dewey is the principal and is giving an announcement.
    • In "Open Book", Ruby and Sapphire are also students, and Connie is the school's librarian.
    • "Joy Ride" has the Cool Kids goofing off and Steven telling them to get to class.
    • For "We Need to Talk", some of the characters are studying in the library. Paradoxically, Stevonnie appears as a student, despite Steven and Connie also being present in the scene.
    • In "Historical Friction", the characters are setting up a play, and Jamie is the director.
    • "Catch and Release" shows Steven in a hallway chatting with Rose and Pearl, while Peridot spies on them from the restroom.
    • In "Too Far", Pearl gets Steven to stop an argument between Amethyst and Peridot while Sapphire nervously looks on.
    • "Log Date 7 15 2" shows Peridot writing something in her notebook, while Garnet is chilling in class along with Amethyst, Pearl, and Lapis.
    • "Barn Mates" has Peridot in chemistry class, trying (and failing) to impress Lapis. Meanwhile, Ruby and Sapphire are talking to Opal in the background.
    • In "Too Short To Ride", Steven is watching the Gems run on a track as Amethyst manages to eat a donut hanging on a rope.
    • In "Beach City Drift", Steven and Connie rush to help Stevonnie deal with Kevin.
    • "Alone at Sea", has Greg preparing to swim laps in the pool, while Rose, Amethyst, Pearl, and Lapis sit on the sidelines in School Swimsuits.
    • In "Steven Vs Amethyst", Steven watches Amethyst while she's in detention.
    • "Beta" shows Steven coming across Amethyst helping Peridot in the school garden.
    • In "Know Your Fusion", The Gems and several Fusions are together in self-study.
    • "Last One Out Of Beach City" shows a school festival taking place with Amethyst doing a haunted house and Lapis doing a maid cafe while Pearl is looking at Mystery Girl.
    • In "Gem Harvest", the gang are in Home Economics; Amethyst is just eating the ingredients, Garnet is posing dramatically about to cut an onion that's in her hand, Pearl is failing to mix a bowl, and Andy is yelling at them. Greg is actually doing pretty well, but Peridot (who's holding a pumpkin) and Lapis are just staring at him while Steven walks by carrying something. Strangely, Andy looks like his present self while Greg looks like his past self.
    • "Gem Heist" shows Holly Blue Agate chastising Blue Pearl for something. Steven tries to calm her down while Ruby and Pearl sneak out of class.
    • In "Rocknaldo", Ronaldo tries to explain something about a rock, and Peedee and Peridot argue with him while Yellow Pearl attempts to ignore them.
    • "I Am My Mom" features Rose speaking with Steven about a grade she received on her paper.
    • "Raising the Barn" has Lapis and Peridot in an angry standoff, with Sapphire once again anxiously looking on.
    • "Kevin Party" has Kevin blasting his car radio and annoying everyone but Amethyst, who's enjoying the tunes.
    • "A Single Pale Rose" has Peridot showing off her gardening prowess to Pearl and Rose, while the former attempts to work her phone.
    • "Legs From Here To Homeworld" is a simple shot of Steven, Pearl, Garnet, and Amethyst's legs in a line.
    • In "Familiar", Yellow Pearl is complaining about something to a confused Pearl and neutral Blue Pearl, Topaz and Nephrite are eating lunch together, and Aquamarine is resting on the chain fence while Steven looks outward.
    • "Change Your Mind" has Steven giving a speech before the entire school.
  • Hive Mind: Both played with and occasionally averted with Gem fusions. A fusion obviously has the basic knowledge and memories of her constituent parts — otherwise, there would have to be re-introductions all around every time a fusion happened — and likewise, the individuals are shown to retain knowledge of their fusion's experiences once they un-fuse. However, at least some of the individuals' thoughts are not shared and/or can be held back from their fusion partner(s) — if not, in "Cry For Help", after her first appearance, Sardonyx (and therefore, Garnet, once she and Pearl unfused) would have immediately been aware that Pearl was secretly rebuilding the Communications Hub again and again, just to create more opportunities to fuse with Garnet.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Downplayed example. In "Jailbreak", Peridot calls Amethyst and Pearl 'clods'. While calling someone a clod is a mundane insult, the literal definition of the word is 'a worthless chunk of dirt', which gives it extra meaning in the context of one Gem insulting another, given that they are sentient minerals.
    • "Message Received" makes it clear that "clod" is a grave insult in Homeworld Gem culture, judging from Yellow Diamond's reaction to Peridot naming her as such.
  • Homage: The episode "Kindergarten Kid" is one for Wile E Coyote And The Roadrunner, with Peridot in the role of Wile E. Coyote and a landbird-like corrupted gem in the role of the Roadrunner, with lots of Amusing Injuries galore!
  • Home of Monsters: "Kindergarten" is where Amethyst was created. It's a desolate canyon filled with large drilling machines shaped like bacteriophages.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: The Gems don't consume organic material, but do consume inorganic material from planets to form either new Gems or structures in their outposts, leaving the planet a hollowed-out mass with spindles connecting crystal spires. The organics are largely ignored, or presumably killed if they try to interfere.
  • Hostile Terraforming: "It Could've Been Great" reveals that the Homeworld Gems intended on turning Earth into a Gem colony, which would've involved turning the planet inside out and expanding the crust into a hollowed-out shell like a bucky ball.
  • Human Resources: Well, Gem resources anyways. It seems gems can be used to power devices or be merged with inanimate objects, effectively trapping them. This is what happened to Lapis Lazuli, and in "Catch and Release", Peridot thinks the Crystal Gems are going to "harvest" her.
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: Gems don't always get a lot of human habits and behaviors, something which is often played for both laughs and drama. Pearl especially seems to get confused by some of the things that these short-lived, organic creatures do. Gems don't require food, but Amethyst eats because she finds the sensation neat.
    • In fact, Amethyst does a lot of things that humans do that aren't required for Gems to survive, including sleep. Having emerged from Earth's primary Kindergarten after the war with Homeworld was over, and never really being exposed to Homeworld society except by proxy through the other Crystal Gems, Amethyst considers herself just as much an Earthling as anyone else born there (as shown in her line from the extended opening theme: "I will fight for the world I was made in, the Earth is everything I've ever known"). She takes just as many, if not more, social cues from human beings as she does from other Gems, and thus fits in with humanity much better than Garnet or Pearl.
  • "I Know You Are in There Somewhere" Fight: Steven's confrontation with White Diamond is a dark take on this trope, with White Diamond insisting that Steven has actually been Pink Diamond all along and has just deluded himself into thinking that he is someone else. She's wrong, of course.
  • Idiot Ball: Plots of some episodes basically require Steven to be holding one. Episodes about him learning to control his powers, usually rely on him forgetting about how his powers work, and mysteries in the show, would be resolved right away if Steven asked literally anything about it.
  • I'd Tell You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You: In "Story for Steven", Amethyst jokingly says this to young Greg when he asks of Rose's whereabouts.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Steven invokes this toward Bismuth when she tries to convince Steven to use the "Breaking Point" weapon against Homeworld Gems. Bismuth thinks otherwise.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: In "Full Disclosure", after Steven and the Gems defeated Jasper, Steven tries to avoid directly talking with Connie, leaving voice messages on her home phone and texts on her cell phone. Connie gets fed up with Steven avoiding her when he sends her a text message saying they should no longer be friends, demanding that he break up with her in person if he's that serious, and she would go back to being friendless. He ultimately reconciles with her and tells her about the mission, and she wants to devotedly join him on his adventures, being a part of his universe.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: In "Rocknaldo", Steven is upset when Ronaldo's latest conspiracy theory involves "rock people" as aliens that walk among the Beach City residents, adding minerals to the water supply and hate men. Steven confronts Ronaldo, telling him that they don't just fight rock people, because they ''are'' rock people, and he finds that term highly offensive. Steven shows Ronaldo the gem embedded in his navel, summoning his shield from thin air, demonstrates shape-shifting abilities, and Ronaldo is shocked to discover that Steven is one of the Gems, breaking down into tears at his fanatical beliefs. Steven accepts Ronaldo's apology, helping him take time to see the Crystal Gems' perspective.
  • Impossible Mission: The Story Arc of the fifth Steven Bomb is this: Greg is kidnapped by Blue Diamond and the Gems must break into a highly secure Homeworld facility in deep space to retrieve him, having to avoid being recognized or detected by not one but two Diamonds, and then escape, all without being found out. Sapphire even outright says their chances of success are almost zero. They manage to succeed.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Steven likes making these. For instance, this gem (no pun intended here) from "Together Breakfast".
    Steven: (about the breakfast) It's not exactly healthy, but it's in a I guess you can say it's a...balanced breakfast?
    Garnet: (Disapproving face)
    • Amethyst thought it was lame that Bismuth used the same pun twice (saying, "Bismuth" in place of the word, "business"). Steven comments on how it'll be really funny if she says it a third time. When the third time comes around, it isn't funny.
    • In "Steven's Lion", Kiki says she hopes Steven isn't "lion" about owning a pink lion. When Lion isn't really outside the store, she's disappointed that he was "lion". Then she apologizes for using the same pun twice.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Amethyst and Pearl manifest this in different ways:
    • While Amethyst does talk a big game sometimes, usually she just goes through life rolling with the punches like it's no big deal. While she doesn't appear to think higher of herself than anybody else, she does give off the impression that she's cool with who she is and any attempt to bring her down will just roll right off her back. "On the Run" reveals that, in reality, she secretly despises herself due to being the living byproduct of the Gems' previous attempt to destroy the planet.
    • Pearl carries herself very highly and only rarely admits she's in the wrong about anything. Episodes like "Coach Steven" and "Rose's Scabbard" chip away at her layers, and in "Friend Ship" she finally breaks and admits how she really feels: weak, useless, and incomplete.
    • As shown in "Earthlings" and furthered in interview an with Rebecca Sugar, Jasper considers herself above others, especially defective Gems, but harbors her own self-worth issues due to coming from Earth and failing to protect Pink Diamond, and gains severe dependency issues upon finally being split from Malachite.
  • Inflating Body Gag: Amethyst eats a magic cloud and immediately puffs up like a balloon and starts floating away. Garnet has to hold her on a string until she deflates.
  • Informed Ability: It's said that all Gems are capable of Shapeshifting, but we've never seen Pearl do it, even when asked too or in situations where her shapeshifting would help. Averted in "A Single Pale Rose", where Pearl is finally shown shapeshifting, and even justifies why she has never done it again up to this point. To a lesser degree, Greg also mentions that Garnet likes to eat sometimes, but she is never shown eating.
  • Insignificant Little Blue Planet: None of the Homeworld Gems have a favorable opinion of Earth. Lapis told Steven that she "never believed in this place", Jasper is dismissive of "this garbage planet", and Peridot is more concerned with getting off "this sad rock" before the Cluster wakes up and destroys everything. The most hostile of the lot is Yellow Diamond, who wants to see it destroyed purely out of spite.
    • Subverted when Peridot finally begins to appreciate Earth's potential as a living world (though, initially, still framed in the context of its usefulness to Homeworld). Her decision to actively defy Homeworld's orders comes when Yellow Diamond dismisses this notion out of hand, and Peridot realizes that her "perfect" leader would rather indulge in petty revenge than reasonably discuss the possibility of Earth as a still-viable colony.
  • In Spite of a Nail: The presence of Gems on Earth since the Bronze Age has seemingly had major effects on history and geography, and yet present-day American culture seems to be about the same as in the real world, up to the state of Pennsylvania having the same borders (but a different name).
  • Internalized Categorism: This is one of Homeworld's favorite tricks. You are your category: Quartz Gems fight, Peridots are technicians, Pearls are servants. Even those who turn their back on Homeworld find it nearly impossible to shake off the idea; Ruby still downplays her own importance (as her Gem type is extremely common on Homeworld) almost six thousand years later.
  • The Internet Is for Cats: Steven goes into "TubeTube" to show Peridot how her new tablet allows her to access the World Wide Web -cue meowing sounds from the tablet.
    Peridot: Why was this documented?''
  • Interspecies Romance:
  • Introductory Opening Credits: The intro for the first season has separate scenes showing the names of each of the Crystal Gems with the corresponding Gem beside them as they call themselves out, with Steven also getting one with the show's logo at the end. This was dropped for the second intro, though the Theme Tune Roll Call was maintained.
  • Iris Out: Most episodes end with an Iris Out in the shape of the star on Steven's shirt and a playful "pop" noise accompanied by mini stars. The ones that don't usually end on a more serious/ominous note. This is completely dropped following "A Single Pale Rose".
  • Irony:
    • Of the situational variety. If Yellow Diamond hadn't sent Peridot to gauge the progress of the Cluster, she wouldn't have gotten stuck on Earth and helped Steven pacify it.
    • PeeDee opens a food truck that specializes in selling tater tots. When made on an industrial scale, tots are the ground up, compressed bits of french fries that were too small to be processed. PeeDee, who was openly frustrated with Steven on several occasions for only ordering fry bits instead of regular french fries, is now selling nothing but fry bits.
  • Isle of Giant Horrors: Steven Universe's Mask Island was not only the home of the beastly Invisible Gem Monster, but was also the battlefield for Malachite.
  • It Has Only Just Begun: Parodied by Peridot.
    Peridot: You really think that this is the end? Ha Ha Ha Ha! This - this is only the beginning! (beat) Of my escape!
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Gems (both Homeworld and Homeworld) tend to refer to humans as "it". In fact, the flashback in "Story for Steven" shows that Pearl once referred to Greg as this.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Deconstructed and then defied in "Full Disclosure". The episode (moreso even than many Hollywood movies) spends considerable time on and gives considerable thought to Steven's reasoning in ending his relationship with Connie, and he's more justified than many heroes in doing so: his father demonstrated (again) that Steven's dangerous lifestyle is stressful, even pushing to the verge of an apparent heart attack. Not only that, Steven's powers are untrained and so far fairly limited, and it's unreasonable to assume that he would be able to protect Connie from serious danger. However, the episode's conclusion is that even under these generous circumstances, this trope is a terrible thing to do to someone, and that Connie should be allowed to decide for herself whether she wants to risk her physical and emotional well-being.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: "Story for Steven" reveals that Greg was pretty attractive in his twenties.

    J - M 
  • Jackhammered Conversation: In the short "Video Chat", this happened to Peridot when her Internet communication breaks up. Ironically, it happens as she's explaining how she got the internet working so well.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • In "Island Adventure", Lars is furious when he realizes that Sadie deliberately hid the warp pad that would have allowed them and Steven to to return home from the island. Even if Sadie's heart was in the right place, she still earns a serious What the Hell, Hero?
    • In "We Need to Talk", Pearl tells Greg that Rose views him as nothing more than "a phase", and is only interested in him because he's human. At the time, she's right.
    • In "It Could've Been Great", Peridot argues that the Rebellion was a Pyrrhic Victory, and only delayed the destruction of Earth, as the Cluster would never have existed if Rose had let the planet become a Gem colony. While technically right, they way she put it really riled the Gems up.
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: While it is clear viewers are supposed to be learning things about the Gems as Steven learns them, it is also clear that all the secrets that have been kept from him and from other characters have done more harm than good.
  • Klingons Love Shakespeare:
    • In "Arcade Mania", Garnet gets extremely addicted to a rhythm video game, which her third eye makes her extremely good at.
    • Pearl tends to be the most condescending towards humans, but finds the human concept of knightly chivalry appealing. She sees her relationship to Rose Quartz as very similar. Rebecca Sugar once described her as such in an early interview. She also mentions she likes pie, though given her distaste at eating, it might be more accurate to say she likes the aesthetics of pie.
    • Amethyst very much enjoys eating and sleeping, which to gems are unnecessary and foreign. This might not technically count, as Amethyst was born on Earth and has lived there her whole life.
    • Peridot obsesses over Camp Pining Hearts so much that she's watched a single episode for three days and has tried writing a 1001-page essay about why one of the characters in it is terrible. Once she and Lapis share a living space, her love of the show spreads to Lapis. She also becomes instantly enamored with the aesthetics of The Greys; it isn't clear if she realizes it's a human's approximation of what an alien (which Peridot is) might look like, or how that might affect her opinion of it.
  • Kill on Sight: The Shattering Robonoids patrol Homeworld's underbelly, searching for Off-Colors, defective Gems, and fugitives on the run. If one scans for and finds a Gem's gem, it fires a blast that can make a sizeable hole in rock.
  • Killed Off for Real: "Change Your Mind" confirms Rose/Pink really is dead and gone, as opposed to what some characters thought: that she still existed in Steven's gem, or that Steven was her, in a new amnesiac form.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The show has a lot of these.
    • Lapis Lazuli showed us that other intelligent gems exist and how dangerous they can be. She also brings with her the conflict of what the Crystal Gems have hidden from Steven.
    • Peridot showed that most homeworld gems are a much more serious and persistent threat than Lapis.
    • Jasper shows that there are much more dangerous gems than Lapis and Peridot, and name drops her even more dangerous superior.
    • Yellow Diamond is much more intimidating than any previous gem and, before even appearing, comes off as incredibly dangerous due to her almost killing the main cast from light-years away and because she's behind the Earth-destroying Cluster.
  • Lady and Knight: This is exactly how Pearl describes the relationship between herself and Rose. She then trains Connie to follow in her footsteps towards Steven. However, she twists this trope to a version that demands suicidal self-sacrifice rather than obedience. Fortunately, Steven stands up for Connie and sets Pearl straight, helping her to overcome her emotional attachment for Rose Quartz.
  • Lady of War:
    • Pearl's signature style, as well as her fusion with Amethyst, Opal.
    • From the brief flashbacks we've seen, Rose Quartz also embodied this trope.
    • Sardonyx, Pearl and Garnet's fusion, is this to a lesser extent. She's elegant and acrobatic, but she hits things with a war hammer and is the biggest ham out of all the Gems except for Sugilite.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • The Crystal Gems often withhold information about themselves and Homeworld from Steven until the last minute when he really needs it. In "Mirror Gem", Steven says word-for-word, "Why do I never ask follow-up questions?!"
    • When Steven realizes his ability to float is controlled by his emotions: "Just like all my stupid powers!"
  • Large and in Charge: This seems to be common among the Gems. Rose Quartz was the former leader of the Crystal Gems and expansive in all directions, and her replacement Garnet is also considerably taller and larger than any of the others, though she's small for a fusion and her components, Ruby and Sapphire, are about Steven's size. Jasper, the highest ranking member of the Homeworld Gems seen in Season 1, matches Rose in height and is very broad shouldered and muscular, while the low-caste Peridot and Rubies are about three feet tall. This is later revealed to be part of the Gem Homeworld's Fantastic Caste System: Quartz Gems like Jasper and Rose (and like Amethyst could have been) are large and tall, and they're a Super Soldier caste of warrior leaders. Later, it's revealed the Homeworld leaders are a group of Diamonds who take this trope to the extreme by being the size of the Crystal Gems' largest fusions.
  • Large Ham:
    • Pearl acting as a Heel in "Tiger Millionaire". "We wanna stop all wrestling everywhere! Are you going to let us destroy all wrestling?"
    • Jasper. "You... have FAILED!"
    • Peridot as well. "Yes! Feel my unbridled rage!"
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In "Nightmare Hospital", Connie says that she hasn't needed actual lenses in her glasses for nearly a year. Her eyes were healed in "An Indirect Kiss", which aired September 18, 2014, and "Nightmare Hospital" aired September 10, 2015, making it nearly a real-time year.
  • Leitmotif:
  • Licensed Game: Attack the Light, which combines Paper Mario RPG gameplay with the Steven Universe world, along with its sequel, Save the Light.
  • The Lightfooted: Pearl is agile and highly mobile in combat, and she effortlessly dodges incoming strikes. Her dance on a glass balcony is also the current page image for this trope.
  • Lighthouse Point: There's a lighthouse on the cliff above the Crystal Temple. It seems to be abandoned, as Ronaldo is able to use it as a base for organizing his conspiracy theories and watching movies.
  • Light Is Good and Light Is Not Good: As to be expected in a show where a significant proportion of the main characters are Hard Light constructs, light certainly has to be a theme.
    • In regards to the Crystal Gems, light is portrayed as symbolic of their heroism and awesomeness. Rose Quartz is decked out in white and has a saintly appearance. However, over time we learn their faults and mistakes, showcasing that in spite of their initial image of perfection, the Crystal Gems are anything but, and have their own hang-ups that need to be solved through talking, not using a veneer of righteousness.
    • In regards to Homeworld, light emphasizes their orderliness, coldness and blind worship of the Diamonds. Through Jasper, we get the visual of light as burning away "impurity", and through the Diamonds it outright becomes a lethal weapon that corrupts other Gems. However, over time it's shown that most of Homeworld is misguided if anything, so they too aren't impossibly unreachable "divine" agents, but just people that can learn to be better.
  • Like a Duck Takes to Water: It is implied that despite the cold, calculated and destitute environment that Gems are created to be a part of, they all seems to possess a natural affinity to music.
    • It is implied that this is a reason why Steven is a Child Prodigy when it comes to music (on-top of having a One-Man Band for a dad), knowing how to play the guitar, bass, ukulele and drums.
    • In "We Need to Talk", Greg was able to have Garnet and Amethyst play the keytar and drums respectively despite having only known them for a short time.
    • In "It Could've Been Great", Peridot was able to memorize the names of every basic note mere seconds after being introduced to them by Steven, casually mumble the names of the notes as Steven strums them as she tries to understand the point of music, and later manages to sing with the gems about her thoughts and feelings of the time. While it is acknowledge that music is in-fact a thing acknowledged on Homeworld (Yellow Diamond having requesting her pearl to sing for Blue Diamond in "That Will Be All"), the concept still baffled Peridot, implying that certain gems like Peridot have no real access to such things considering their station does not require it.
    • In "The Question", Ruby was able to expertly play an original Western song with lyrics on the acoustic guitar only after Greg taught her how to play ten minutes prior.
  • Like Father, Like Son: If not for Greg's anxiety when it comes to Gem matters, he and Steven would basically be differently-aged copies of one another. It's almost like Steven is a clone of his father because his mother had no DNA of her own.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Justified; "Story for Steven" reveals that Steven's shirt(s) were once merchandise Greg would sell at concerts during his rockstar days. Meanwhile, the Gems' bodies are merely projections, and since their clothes are as fake as the rest of them, they tend to stick to a single outfit. The one real exception to the Limited Wardrobe is Connie, who wears a different outfit in practically every single one of her appearances, which also results in Stevonnie having a different outfit every time they're formed, at least subtly. And though Steven is extremely attached to his pink star shirt and has multiple versions, he does wear a number of different outfits throughout the episodes, including hoodies, jackets, and tank tops. Many of them have a star in the same place and are the same shade of pink, so at a glance he seems to be wearing the same outfit. A lot of the background characters also have several different outfits they change between.
  • Literal Metaphor: In "Reunited", when Steven asks Sapphire if she's nervous and she says she's not, ice forms where Sapphire steps, meaning she's got cold feet (to feel a little bit nervous about the wedding), and Sapphire shakes off the ice afterwards.
  • Literally Prized Possession: Peridot spends an episode trying to win an alien doll from a fairground game. The obvious Little Green Man joke aside, she spells out why she wants it by gushing over both its large head (swollen with thoughts!) and "compassionate eyes" ("It understands!").
  • Living Forever Is No Big Deal: The Gems are friendly, but not very social with humans. They also apparently haven't used their immortality to accumulate wealth.
  • The Load: Steven started off like this to the Gems. He really did try to help, but he'd get everyone in to trouble more often than not. Nowadays he's far more capable of handling himself.
  • Locked Out of the Loop:
    • As time went on, it became increasingly clear that the Gems were doing their best to try to keep the darker side of their history from Steven, though he learned more as he's usually forced in to situations where certain details can't be avoided.
    • Steven tries to keep Connie in the dark about the events of the first season finale, but fails.
    • Connie kept her parents in the dark about a lot of the magical stuff she gets into with Steven, but Nightmare Hospital forced her to reveal it.
  • Long-Lost Uncle Aesop: Parodied in "Say Uncle", when Uncle Grandpa shows up in Beach City in a crossover episode, helping Steven learn to show him how to summon his shield as an Eccentric Mentor who uses rocket launchers, snakes, bees, and vaporizers to help Steven's shield which Uncle Grandpa erroneously believes to emerge whenever Steven's in danger. Mr. Gus, who has an extensive knowledge of magical beings, sets Uncle Grandpa straight by telling him that Steven's gem shield summoning is based on emotional clarity. When the Gems attack U.G., Steven, who has learned more about summoning his shield by defending U.G., tells them that they can't attack people just because you don't understand them, and that you should take time to listen to what the other person has to say.
  • Love at First Sight: Utilized on occasion, but the show hardly plays it straight:
    • Jamie says he has this with Garnet, but she rebuffs him, saying that love at first sight doesn't exist and that love takes time and work.
    • Rose Quartz and Greg, though it was more like attraction at first sight, considering the example above. The episode "We Need To Talk" goes further by slightly deconstructing Rose and Greg's initial attraction towards each other, with both of them realizing (and overcoming) the fact that they're very different from one another, enough for them to worry about their future together.
    • Similarly, Steven is attracted at first sight to Connie, but not vice versa, and he has to earn her friendship. After that their relationship moves forward at a slow, realistic pace, appropriate for children their age.
  • Love Triangle:
    • Pearl vs. Greg for Rose; though she didn't mind showing affection towards both, the existence of Steven indicates that Greg "won" in the end.
    • Horror Club seems to imply Lars vs. Ronaldo for Sadie.
  • Lover Tug-of-War: A variant occurs in "Open Book", when Cloud Connie (in a wedding gown) pins Steven down and the real Connie attempts to fight for Steven:
    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!
    Steven: No!
    Real Connie: Get off of him!
    Cloud Connie: Tell her, Steven!
    Steven [grunts]: I... unggggh...
    Cloud Connie: Tell her!
    Steven:Mmmmrng... I liked the ending of the book!
    Real Connie: What?
    Steven: I-I thought it was sweet that Lisa and Archimicarus got together in the end! They were always so thoughtful towards each other, and I was so happy when they found the spell to make him human, and I loved every page about the cake, I wanted to draw a picture of it! I'm-I'm sorry I pretended not to like it, I just didn't want you to think less of me.
    Cloud Connie: *sigh* That's better. [Cloud Connie finally vanishes, to Steven's relief]
  • Luminescent Blush: As with the Animesque feel of the show. Pearl is especially prone to it, but for her it's blue in color.
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • The "Steven and the Crystal Gems" song is in the style of classic rock'n'roll songs, and is a homage to 70s teen bands such as Josie and the Pussycats. Its lyrics are quite upbeat at first but then it goes on about how Steven created an Alternate Timeline and how he watched himself (including the original Steven from the start of the episode) die.
    • The song "Do it for Him/Her" from the episode Sworn to the Sword also fits this trope. The song starts as a really nice piano piece about Pearl teaching Connie about sword fighting. It quickly develops into a really nice piano piece in which Pearl tries to teach Connie to "accept" her worthlessness and give her life for Steven, mimicking Pearl's own unhealthy obsession with Rose Quartz.
    • The song "On the Run" starts up as an upbeat little tune, Steven's lyrics reflecting whatever he likely thought the No-Home Boys would've thought. Amethyst's turn the song around, however.
      Amethyst: I don't care about what all the others say / Well, I guess there are some things that just never go away / I wish that I could say, "There's no better place than home" / But home's a place that I have never known."
    • The ending theme, "Love Like You", is a sweet little lullaby-like piano tune, and the full lyrical version is sung sweetly enough that you could hear it as just a nice, relaxing song. Except that the lyrics are actually the singer lamenting about what a terrible person they see themselves as compared to the person they're singing to:
      I always thought I might be bad, now I'm sure that it's true
      'Cause I think you're so good, and I'm nothing like you

      I could even learn how to love like you
      me like you
  • Magical Girl: Having magical powers of healing and defense, wielding a summonable magic sword and shield, being associated with roses, stars and the color pink, and fighting corrupted Gem monsters, Steven is a Gender Flipped example of a magical girl character.
  • Magitek: A lot of the magic in the show seems like a form of technology. For example, Pearl's hologram is voice-activated and can touch things, but bugs out with static. Rose's room is like a graphics card that can't handle areas that are too big. The room also responds to voice commands. Rose's armory does as well. Crystal shards (as seen in "Frybo") also respond to voice commands.
  • Male Gaze:
    • There are several moments in the show where the camera pulls this on Pearl's backside, which is drawn a lot more shapelier than usual in those particular shots. Examples include the final act of "Laser Light Cannon" and, more blatantly, Amethyst's taunting in "Cat Fingers", where she morphs into Pearl, sticks out her rear, and begins slapping it while going "Womp! Womp!"
    • In "Story for Steven" and "We Need to Talk", there are some close-ups of Rose's lips and eyes, implying this is how Greg sees her.
  • Mama Bear: The Crystal Gems to Steven. Harming him is their shared Berserk Button.
  • Manly Tears: Greg falls victim to this a lot. You can't really blame the guy—he's already lost his wife and his only son risks his life on a daily basis.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Ruby and Sapphire are a Discount Lesbians example. Ruby's hot temper and lack of social graces contrasting against Sapphire's more stoic, patient outlook and polite behavior. Their designs mirror this, with the former's outfit being androgynous and combat-oriented, and the latter's apparel resembling a Princess Classic. This is played with in "Reunited", where Ruby wears a dress and Sapphire a tuxedo during their wedding.
  • Masquerade: Completely and utterly defied. Not only do the citizens of Beach City know about Steven's powers, as well as the Crystal Gems, but they almost never bat an eye at it. In fact, several of the people (namely Connie, Sadie, Lars, and the cool kids) have actually involved themselves in Steven's adventures. Though there was a time where Connie had to play this straight to keep her sword training a secret from her family, it eventually was discovered, and unlike all other cases of this trope where "normal" people get involved, they actually come to accept it. Justified given that the show is largely about accepting others.
  • Maternal Death? Blame the Child: The Gems and Greg all love Steven very much, but they're also aware that Rose effectively gave up her life so he could be born. Tragically, Steven himself begins to pick up on this, and starts to feel guilty.
    • Ultimately averted, as none of them, not even Pearl, ever hold this against him.
  • Mathematician's Answer: In "Open Book":
    Connie: So... what did you think of the ending?
    Steven: Uh... I thought it was on page 917?
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The Kindergarten. In German, the word means "Garden for the children / Nursery". Technically, this applies to Gem Kindergartens, except the children are literally gardened from there.
    • The Breaking Point in "Bismuth." A pile-driver designed by the episode's titular character specifically to shatter Gems, the events surrounding its creation serve as a "breaking point" for Steven himself regarding his pacifist, all-loving attitude.
    • Alexandrite. Her name comes from the Greek for "Defender of Man". Appropriate, seeing as she's the fusion of all the surviving original Crystal Gems - the defenders of humanity.
  • Men Use Violence, Women Use Communication: Completely inverted, with the female-presenting Crystal Gems using violence as their first resort to dealing with problems, while Steven always endeavors for the peaceful solution and would rather befriend the enemy than fight them.
  • Melancholy Musical Number:
    • "Full Disclosure" is Steven debating whether or not he should tell Connie what happened in the previous two episodes after seeing his father's horrified reaction, and if she should be involved in his life at all for her own safety.
    • "Tower of Mistakes" is Amethyst lamenting the outcome of Sugilite, blaming it on herself and wishing she could make it up to Garnet.
    • "That Distant Shore" is Lapis lamenting about trying to adjust to Earth, only for her fears to get in the way, and that her attempt at staying safe just made her feel alone.
  • Messianic Archetype: While always starting cheerful and curious with a bit of that messiah feel, the parallels start creeping in gradually. He is the son of a human (Greg) and a transcendent otherworldly being (Rose Quartz) who comes into his own and learn how to control his otherworldly power, including the power to create food (grow plant life), heal the injured (healing spit) and ultimately revive the virtuous ( brings Lars back to life). He befriends and converts followers of his celestial parent’s doctrines (Peridot and Lapis Lazuli) and is willing to sacrifice himself to his people’s enemy (the Diamonds) and save his world in the process. This is especially telling in the episode “Three Gems and a Baby”, where three ancient beings (Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl) come bearing gifts for Steven and his weathered human parent (Greg) in a place that is not their own (Vidalia's house) set in December.
  • Metaphorical Marriage: In "Reunited", Ruby and Sapphire get married, and the grand ceremony, with everything from vows to exchanged rings, is attended by Beach City residents and officiated by Steven. Because the couple are Gems, aliens from another galaxy, and the Crystal Gems have ignored human-made processes such as getting a driver's license, they can't legally be married. But the event is meaningful to them and their friends.
  • Meteor Move: When Steven organizes a beach party for the Gems to bond with the Pizza family he sets up a game of beach volleyball. Garnet does this to the volleyball so hard that when it impacts the ground it turns the sand into glass.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Parodied in "Gem Drill" when the Cluster starts to awaken, and Peridot apologizes to Steven for not being able to save him or the "billions of other life forms who matter far, far less to me!"
  • Monster of the Week: Downplayed and sometimes subverted. Especially in the first season, many episodes deal with the Gems going on missions to defeat and capture monsters or recover Gem artifacts. As the show's Myth Arc develops, however, episodes featuring one-off monsters become less frequent, some of the individual monsters turn out to have a role to play in the overarching plot, and the monsters' backstory — most of them are Gems that were corrupted by a weapon unleashed by Homeworld at the end of the war — becomes an important part of the plot itself. Still, even into Season 4, occasional episodes still have a monster-of-the-week format.
  • Mood Whiplash: The show can have slapstick, comedic moments that change from funny to serious, in a matter of seconds. Primarily being a comedy, it's mostly lighthearted, but dramatic scenes can and do occur in most episodes, often with little or no warning.
  • Morphic Resonance: When a Gem shapeshifts, they retain the same color scheme as their default form. When Garnet becomes Steven, she also keeps her Cool Shades.
  • Motif Merger: Nearly every Gem has a leitmotif, and when two fuse together, the result has a theme that has elements of both components'.
  • Multiple-Choice Future: Garnet is established is having "Future Vision", an ability that allows her to see into many different probable futures. Many of these range from mundane to incredibly improbable (ranging from various comical deaths to chasing away the Ruby Squadron with a game of baseball) and are selected by the choices people involved in such outcomes make. In-contrast, Sapphire's future vision is much more hard-deterministic in nature and can only see one possible outcome, implying that Ruby's passionate and impulsive personality enhances her future vision while fused together as Garnet.
  • Mundane Fantastic: Humans really don't react much to the Gem's existence or them having a fight with a monster in the middle of town except for getting upset about collateral damage. According to the crew, the reason for this is that the Gem's existence is common knowledge in this universe and has been for a long time.
  • Mundane Utility: All the Gems have shown that they're quick to use their magic for relatively normal matters.
    • Steven started using Lion's pocket dimension to store all sorts of sundry items not long after discovering it. He also uses Lion's portal roar to do things like travel to the library.
    • Garnet is really good at Meat Beat Mania, thanks to her Future Vision.
    • When Peridot finds out about her powers the first thing she does is use them to cheat on a game to get the prize she wanted.
    • In "Gem Harvest", Peridot uses her knowledge of growing Gems to grow crops, Lapis uses her powers to water said crops, Garnet and Lapis use theirs for harvesting and Steven uses his shield as a cooking pot.
    • Peridot and Lapis use their ferrokenesis and hydrokenesis to... run Greg's car wash while he's away.
  • Musical Episode: "Mr. Greg" manages to cram 7 songs into an 11-minute episode.
  • Musical World Hypotheses: The series uses different hypotheses at different points:
    • There are several examples of Diegetic; Steven and Greg are musically talented, and often enjoy performing or improvising songs.
    • All in Their Head appears in "Full Disclosure", where Steven monologues about his fear of something happening to Connie and Beach City.
    • Adaptations are fairly common, such as Pearl and Connie training and talking in "Do It For Her", or Garnet giving Jasper a Badass Boast in the form of "Stronger Than You", which also continues to be audible as Garnet ceases visibly singing.
    • "What Can I Do for You" is an interesting example; Greg and Rose are actually singing and playing—dialogue clarifies that they're filming a music video (Diegetic)—but Rose's lyrics are such an on-the-nose statement of her character that it quickly worries Greg, even though he doesn't let himself slip up for the sake of finishing the take.
    • Various pieces of dialogue in "Mr. Greg" imply all of the songs are sung in-universe.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: As shown above with the Theme Tune Roll Call, Steven Zoidbergs himself in at the end. And in the pilot as well as this music video of the theme song, we learn it was Steven who wrote the song in the first place.
  • Myth Arc: The series begins In Medias Res with Steven, Pearl, Amethyst, and Garnet already together, already a family, already fighting Corrupted Gems (though we don't learn the latter until halfway through Season 1). However, following an act of kindness and compassion from Steven, a new Gem returns home to Homeworld, setting off a new interest from Yellow Diamond in Earth, checking in on its features, and after some interference from the Crystal Gems, eventually leading to multiple scouting missions in order to ensure the success of their superweapon. However, things get complicated. The overall myth arc is actually about Steven learning more about the past the Gems have kept from him regarding the war with Homeworld, and how to fix all the problems that his mother, the leader of the Crystal Gems, created. And maybe in the process, he might be able to change things for the better with everyone and every Gem around him.


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