Steven Universe's Gems
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Steven Universe's Gems

The Top Ten Episodes of Steven Universe

Steven Universe's Gems

Steven Universe is a show known for its strong characters, engaging plots, imaginative world building, and poignant development, all while being able to appeal to both children and adults. There are over a hundred episodes, but there are some that truly stand out. If you are an avid fan of the show, you will likely have your own opinions of what should be on this list and in what order, but each episode of the following episodes is certainly worthy of its admiration. But before the list begins, here is some background information on the show:

Steven Universe (and this will contain many spoilers for anyone who is not caught up) is about aliens called gems who live on Earth. Each gem has a gemstone on her body from which her essence flows in the form of hard light. About five thousand years before the start of the show, the gems invaded Earth to deplete it of its natural resources. A small group known as the Crystal Gems detested this, and chose to revolt against the gem homeworld tyranny. They fought not only to protect Earth, but also to ensure their freedom from a government structure in which each gem’s race directly determined her class, her name, and what kind of work she was forced to do. At the end of the civil war, homeworld’s forces were driven from Earth, but only a few members of the crystal gems remained. These gems, Rose Quartz, Pearl, and Garnet, as well as one more gem they discovered named Amethyst, stay on Earth to protect it and live in freedom, though they know homeworld could always return. Five thousand years after the war, Rose Quartz meets a human named Greg with whom she falls in love. Rose gives up her life to be able to give birth to their son Steven, and so Steven grows up with the gems who raise him while mourning the loss of Rose. Thus begins the story…

"Cry for Help"

Besides being able to shape-shift, summon weapons from their bodies, and go infinite time without eating or sleeping, one of the most interesting powers gems have is the ability to fuse with each other. When two gems fuse, they become a new being for however long they choose to stay in that form, and the fusion’s personality is a mix of the individuals’. Prior to this episode, fusions between Pearl and Amethyst as well as Garnet and Amethyst had been revealed, but never a fusion between Garnet and Pearl. Enter: Sardonyx.

Hammy, creative, and articulate, Sardonyx is a fusion who is not afraid to laugh at her own jokes and will make quite a show with her war-hammer. Her introduction is very entertaining, but also sets up an important conflict in the show. Pearl lies to Garnet to trick her into fusing with Pearl again. Fusion is intimate, performed as an expression love, often in the romantic sense. By lying to fuse with Garnet, Pearl takes advantage of her in perhaps the most violating way she can. Garnet is certainly a victim in this episode, though because the audience is so well acquainted with Pearl, they can see why she would feel lonely and desperate enough to do something so awful in order to feel needed. It is an intense conflict, and one that lasts far beyond the one episode.


An interesting aspect of Steven Universe is that nearly every episode wraps up in approximately 12 minutes, making each one its own small gem. “Bismuth” was the first episode to break this mold, giving Steven Universe a full episode length to fit a whole half hour time slot, and it worked very well. In this episode, Steven finds a member of the original crystal gems who fought in the gem war. Garnet and Pearl are brought to tears to see their comrade who they thought they had lost thousands of years ago, and it is touching to see them reunite. For Bismuth however, it was like she was unconscious, only to wake up to what felt like the next day and find thousands of years had passed. Bismuth is a soldier taken out of a war, deprived of her chance to save any her comrades who had been lost. Bismuth has so much complex emotional drama to deal with at once, and it is bittersweet to see her try to cope as she is reunited with her family. Much more time could have been dedicated to her internal conflicts and it would have made a strong story arc in the show, but unfortunately Bismuth only appears for the one episode.

Another, more prominent conflict with Bismuth is the fact that she was knocked into unconsciousness during the war by Rose Quartz, who kept her that way for thousands of years. Bismuth wanted to use lethal force against their enemies, but Rose, as the leader of the gems, was opposed to this. While preservation of life is always important, it’s hard not to see Rose as a villain here. Bismuth had a strong point that even given their powers, fighting a war with nonlethal force could spell disaster for them. Perhaps if they had used Bismuth’s strategy, more than a small handful of their allies would have survived the war. Furthermore, after the fight between Rose and Bismuth, Rose never brings her out of unconsciousness to try to talk to her. Rose lies to their comrades, saying Bismuth was lost in battle, and so abandons Bismuth completely. In this way Rose is a hypocrite for arguing for the preservation of all life while halting the life of Bismuth. At the end of the episode in modern time, Steven returns Bismuth into unconsciousness, in what I believe is repeating Rose’s mistake. This episode is quite flawed in that Bismuth is a tragic hero treated as a tragic villain by the framing of the episode, but it is still on the top ten for the promise Bismuth shows as a character.

"Hit the Diamond"

Garnet is a fusion between two characters named Ruby and Sapphire, and exists as the personification of their love. While Garnet is always a wonderful character to see, the rare opportunities to see Ruby and Sapphire as individuals make strong episodes. There are other episodes such as “The Answer” and “Keystone Motel” that showcase the individual characters and are strong episodes in their own right, but “Hit the Diamond” shows them in a new way. While they are still the focus of the episode, the main conflict is not about their relationship, which is a nice change to see. In this episode, Ruby and Sapphire can simply be a couple, not in distress and having a healthy relationship. While the conflict of the episode centers on something as simple as a baseball game, it works well as a framework for seeing Ruby and Sapphire interact. At the same time, “Hit the Diamond” features five new characters, a lot of comedy, and manages to progress the overall plot in a surprisingly relaxing episode.

"Space Race"

A conflict not often touched on in Steven Universe is the crystal gems never being able to return to their original home planet. In “Space Race,” Pearl laments not being able to return to homeworld. Steven decides to try to build a spaceship for her so she can visit homeworld, only he doesn’t get very far using a wagon, cardboard and tape. Pearl, inspired by Steven’s idea, decides to build a real spaceship, and she actually does get very far. Pearl wants to bring Steven to space with her, but her rapidly made spaceship may not be very safe.

When she eventually does take Steven up into space in her homemade spaceship, the ship begins to break apart. Pearl’s desperation to return to homeworld is palpable, and you can tell that no matter how dangerous it is, its something she feels she has to do. In the end when she chooses to abandon ship with Steven, it is very bittersweet. Pearl is losing what she most wants, but is also remembering how important being with Steven is, and decides she is happy being on Earth with him. “Space Race” is a very touching episode with a lot of strong comedy. True, Pearl almost gets Steven killed, but as Steven says, “I’m used to it.”


There are many good fight scenes in Steven Universe, but most of them end as quickly as they begin. “Earthlings” takes place immediately after an episode setting up the scene, so the fight can have the full time it deserves. Of course, this episode would not be on this list if the only impressive thing about it was the action. Throughout the series, Amethyst has felt insecure about her size. She doesn’t feel like she is as strong as the other crystal gems, and her pride was hurt even more when she learned that compared to other gems who are quartzes, she is very small. In this episode, Amethyst goes up against Jasper, considered to be the perfect quartz. Amethyst is fighting what she wishes she could be but knows she never will, and so long as she fights she convinces herself further and further that she was born wrong. It is only through Amethyst’s bond with Steven that she can accept herself the way she is and love herself. The bond between Steven and Amethyst at this point is so strong it can take on an identity of its own, and it's this point we get the new fusion Smokey Quartz. This episode is great on many levels. It progresses the plot, reveals secrets, introduces a new character, and holds a pivotal moment of development for Amethyst and Steven.

"Mr. Greg"

While many Steven Universe episodes have enjoyable songs, “Mr. Greg” is a full-scale twelve-minute musical. When Steven’s father Greg earns a large sum of money, they go to a fancy hotel for a one-night vacation, and at Steven’s request, Pearl comes too. Things have always been awkward at best between Greg and Pearl, since Pearl was in a romantic relationship with Rose before Rose met Greg. Pearl has never been able to move on from losing Rose, first to Greg and then to Rose giving up her life, and this episode brings the tension to its height. Pearl sings a ballad of how she wishes she could move on, and by the end of the episode, while she is of course not magically over losing Rose, she does bond with Greg over them both missing her, so the wall that has always existed between them begins to crumble. Combine this with catchy and moving songs, and you have a fantastic episode.

"Alone Together"

When Steven dances with his close friend Connie, they end up fusing into a being they never expected to be. As Stevonnie, they are a personification of their compassion for each other. As Garnet says, “You are not two people, and you are not one person. You are an experience.” And indeed, the episode is an experience. Steven had never fused before, and so the audience gets to figure out how it works as the characters do. Existing as Stevonnie feels amazing at first, and but being together for too long can be stressful, and so Steven and Connie have to figure out how long they are comfortable staying fused. Stevonnie may be the first gender-nonbinary character to be featured in a show for children. Seeing oneself represented in media is very important to feeling secure in one’s identity, and Stevonnie provides a healthy depiction of what can be seen as a transgender character. Through introducing Stevonnie, “Alone Together” builds strongly upon the relationship of two important characters and introduces a new character to be important later on in the show. While the plot may not be as exciting as other episodes, the expertly devised flow of the narrative puts “Alone Together” at the top of this list.

And so, this brings the list to an end. But wait, you may be thinking, this list only has seven entries, and if you are thinking that you are absolutely correct. That is because the top three episodes are each deserving of their own article going into full analysis of how they develop the central characters and are pivotal to the show. These episodes focus on Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl, and you can look forward to their reveals very soon.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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