August 16, 2022

In lots of many years’ time, once we look again on youngsters’s animation of the 2010s, Steven Universe will possible be atop the listing of important reveals within the style. Along with its groundbreaking plot factors and delightful animation, the present is genuinely transcendent in its community. Rebecca Sugar created a fleshed-out science fiction world that fuses lore-driven storytelling with wacky character-developing episodic adventures. Within the content material tsunami that audiences are pressured to indulge in, Steven Universe stays a shining gem skipping alongside the waves, breaking conventions of what a youngsters’s present can do whereas making forever-loveable characters. Listed here are the 13 greatest and most important episodes of the present, ranked.

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13. “Change Your Thoughts” (Season 5, Episode 29)


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Starting with the very finish of the sequence could appear perfunctory, however on account of its size, significance to the present, and storytelling accomplishments, this listing could be incomplete with out the present’s finale. “Change Your Thoughts” acts as a closing paragraph for the present, summarizing each thesis and talking to each theme that Rebecca Sugar and her crew had been toying with up so far. The ending episode begins the place the one earlier than ended: On the Gem Homeworld, Steven (Zach Callison) and Connie (Grace Rolek) get up imprisoned on Gem Tower. Via a sequence of powerful conversations and new fusion revelations, Steven slowly works to persuade the Diamonds to fix their household drama so as to fully rewrite all of society throughout the universe.

Though the finale was prolonged to 44 minutes lengthy somewhat than showing within the typical ten-minute chunks that almost all episodes of the present do, the tip product rushes by means of emotional beats and storyline catharsis like a cat chasing a laser pointer, by no means fairly greedy something substantial. With over ten writers, the finale performs out like a guidelines of storylines that should be completed somewhat than a pure endgame for the sequence. Nonetheless, there’s no denying the ability of bringing these characters to a conclusion, pure or not, for an atypical particular episode that celebrates the ability of adjusting your pondering and embracing new sorts of households.

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12. “Kindergarten Child” (Season 4, Episode 1)


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A part of the position of Steven Universe throughout the canon of cartoon historical past springs from its acknowledgments of different animation touchstones. Whereas one episode’s title references Kiki’s Supply Service (“Kiki’s Pizza Supply Service”) and a Sailor Moon manga has been noticed in Steven’s room throughout “Home Visitor,” “The Kindergarten Child” most completely embraces a reference to the animation corridor of fame. When a roadrunner-style corrupted gem causes hassle on the Beta Kindergarten, the Crystal Gems do their greatest to include it. When their failure causes Peridot (Shelby Rabara) to giggle at their incompetence, Amethyst (Michaela Dietz) challenges her to seize it herself. With Steven’s assist, Peridot units her thoughts to outsmart the gem. Cartoonish hijinks ensue, resulting in loony outcomes and a lesson in understanding others of their variations.

“The Kindergarten Child” doesn’t unfurl some nice scroll of lore or create a excessive stake, world-ending narrative to observe. What the principally self-contained episode lacks in narrative significance, it makes up for in silliness and character growth. The plain references to the Roadrunner and Wiley Coyote dynamic deliver out a brand new aspect of Peridot as she learns to see issues from others’ views, persevering with her arc of understanding that makes her a beneficial addition to the sequence. Her transformation helps the sequence’ general concept of accepting every kind of beings and serving to them see the sunshine of this mindset, even when they’ve beforehand proven nice antagonism.

11. “Again to the Barn” (Season 2, Episode 20)


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Peridot’s arc begins right here, bringing Steven Universe right into a stronger period. Her transformation from Homeworld advocate to semi-regular Crystal Gem proves the Gems’ trigger simply and units the mannequin for the present to show enemies into buddies with understanding and love. “Again to the Barn” options Peridot’s first lesson on this route. When her backwards pondering results in conflicts with Pearl (Deedee Lynn Magno Corridor), a contest between every of their big robots leads her to study a lesson about judging somebody by their look. Along with beginning an excellent arc for the present, “Again to the Barn” options a number of the greatest animation of the sequence on each the robots and Peridot’s many pissed off expressions. As one of many nice self-contained episodes within the sequence, the present proves its potential to each push ahead an overarching narrative and maintain quick, light-hearted tales fascinating.


10. “Bismuth” (Season 3, Episode 20)


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Let’s get straight to Bismuth! The reinvention of the Crystal Gems begins with the introduction to a lore-heavy character from their previous when Steven discovers a Gem bubbled in Lion’s mane. All appears properly because the freed Bismuth catches up with Garnet (Estelle) and Pearl till Steven uncovers the rationale she was bubbled within the first place, main him to a deeper understanding of his mom. Like many on this listing, this comparatively lengthy particular thrives by giving us a wholesome dose of lore on the aspect of a whole story. The world-building is the star of “Bismuth,” alongside a personality who simply may have turn out to be a grating annoyance. As an alternative, by means of the ability of the episode’s easy however saturated writing, Bismuth turned an excellent recurring character, rating simply alongside the Gems as we all know them. This episode does the work for its viewers, permitting their mistrust to be validated whereas maintaining Bismuth versatile sufficient that by the ultimate episodes, the story could be incomplete with out her.


9. “Large Lady” (Season 1, Episode 12)


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“Large Lady” launched followers to fusion in a unusual, musical approach. When a mission project pops up in the midst of Pearl and Amethyst’s typical bickering, Steven proposes that they need to resolve their variations by fusing. Inevitably, two fuses in opposition to a typical menace and Steven will get his want – after a ukulele track that units a template for each nice musical variety of the sequence going ahead. Whereas fusion will tackle stronger metaphorical weight sooner or later, by introducing it as merely a cool potential, Steven Universe creates efficiency in its infantile brew. No baby desires to look at some PSA about their altering our bodies, however by making a cool potential that everybody is on board with (by means of Steven’s eyes), the present creates a cushioned atmosphere wherein it could sort out powerful matters immediately, beginning proper right here with “Large Lady.”


8. “We Have to Speak” (Season 2, Episode 9)


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Early historical past about Steven’s household has all the time been a fan favourite episode matter. “We Have to Speak” follows Greg (Tom Scharpling) and Rose (Susan Egan) early of their flirtation as they encounter fusion. As Greg unravels the story to Steven and Connie, a clearer portrait of Rose, Greg, and particularly Pearl kinds. The rationale for Steven’s conception is hinted at, filling out an essential a part of his mother and father’ relationship. In traditional Steven Universe vogue, the present makes use of its fantasy components to inform actual human tales. Greg and Rose’s relationship could appear far out, however their fusion incident lets Greg remind the kids of an essential lesson. Whereas fusion is a giant a part of the episode, as Greg places it, “that wasn’t as essential as speaking to one another.” Whereas the present explores unconventional relationships, they stumble on a common theme right here that even younger youngsters can perceive.


7. “Hit the Diamond” (Season 3, Episode 5)


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Typically, all it takes to make a great Crystal Gem journey is a few stakes and a gimmick! When a crew of Rubies from Homeworld involves Earth, the Crystal Gems resolve to distract them with a baseball sport. Sadly, to not seem suspicious, Garnet should unfuse, main Ruby (Charlyne Yi) and Sapphire (Erica Luttrell) to attract flirtatious consideration to themselves within the Ruby crew’s presence. On this mess of superlatives in regards to the worldbuilding, storytelling, humor, animation, and classes that the present has going for it, it’s simple to neglect that that is merely a short-form youngsters present with the purpose of leisure first. “Hit the Diamond” supplies precisely that, with simply sufficient furthering of the bigger plot to maintain older viewers . It’s easy storytelling, with apparent stakes and a comedic premise ripe for locating jokes in. From foolish gags in regards to the complicated guidelines of baseball to the Rubies’ big fusion in opposition to the Crystal Gems on the climax, every little thing a child may need from a Steven Universe journey is right here. Plus, there’s extra time given to the connection between Ruby and Sapphire, whom the present not often provides followers an opportunity to see.


6. “Lion 3: Straight to Video” (Season 1, Episode 35)


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Each baby encounters a longing; looking for their place within the universe. In fact, within the sci-fi world of gems and magical pets, Steven himself will get a extra literal model of that arc. The third of 4 Lion incidents begins with Steven on the Huge Donut with Sadie. After bantering about how Sadie doesn’t just like the lunches her mother makes her, Steven goes dwelling and tries to get some sleep. Sadly, Lion has determined it’s time for a lore drop and lays atop Steven. Upon realizing his pet’s fur transports him to a pocket dimension, Steven explores the realm, discovering a videotape together with his identify on it from his mom. The episode ends with him and Sadie watching the tape collectively and Sadie studying to understand her personal mom. A lesser present might need dropped this video and clarification of Lion’s fur into a fast ten-minute episode with out an arc, however Sadie’s appreciation for her mother retains this episode emotional somewhat than robotic. Rose’s monologue in regards to the potential of Earth’s life could be lovely sufficient, however Sadie grounds it in our actual world. Not all of us have an area mother that transferred their super-powered gem to us, however many viewers can join with that concept of underappreciating the folks we love probably the most in our lives.


5. “Fusion Delicacies” (Season 1, Episode 32)


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“Fusion Delicacies” supplies a traditional sit-com situation that places Steven’s household dynamic to the take a look at. When Connie’s mother and father insist on assembly Steven’s, our protagonist should resolve which of his three “moms” to take with him for approval. Lastly, he decides on taking all of them – fused into one! Antics ensue, and Connie and Steven’s friendship is put to the take a look at. The explanations for this episode rating so excessive are a bit complicated, nevertheless it primarily comes again to this episode’s exploration of nuclear household dynamics right here, ranging from an early joke wherein Steven errors the time period to imply “explosive.” Via a typical “boy meets lady’s mother and father” situation, the episode tells its viewers that regardless of the variety of or type of mother and father somebody could have, the essential factor is that they look after them. The thought of not throwing the infant (conventional parenting method) out with the bathwater (conventional parental roles), transcends the traditional boundaries of most different comedy or cartoon reveals utilizing this matter.


4. “Mr. Greg” (Season 3, Episode 8)


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By the third season, Steven Universe’s crew had actually hit its stride, and this episode is the jewel of that period. One of many present’s biggest strengths is that, 86 episodes in, it continues to pioneer new territory within the rocky terrain of the characters’ relationships. And better of all, it could accomplish that by means of track! When Greg comes into some huge cash, he decides to take a trip with Steven, who invitations Pearl to come back together with them to settle their effervescent resentment. Via the ability of fits, fountains, and a number of the greatest songwriting within the present, the 2 study slightly extra in regards to the different’s emotions following Rose’s loss of life. The shining second on this incident is Pearl’s “It’s Over, Isn’t It?” which pushes what the present can do with animation and songwriting to its limits. Pearl’s lament reveals her coronary heart in such a uncooked approach that’s solely enhanced by the extremely lovely background imagery and care given to drawing her each single motion. Whereas Steven Universe all the time has tip-top design, this episode stands as the height of marrying story to imagery.


3. “Log Date 7 15 2” (Season 2, Episode 26)


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An odd selection for the most effective of the contained episodes, “Log Date 7 15 2” follows Steven as he learns in regards to the developments in Garnet and Peridot’s friendship by way of the latter’s tape recorder. As Peridot learns extra about fusion, she slowly unveils extra about Garnet and accepts her pal’s lifetime of near-permanent fusion. The ability of this episode lies in its blatant metaphor. Whereas fusion has all the time been a obscure allegory for relationship matters that aren’t featured in youngsters’s reveals, on this episode, Steven Universe actually embraces the thought wholeheartedly. This straightforward storyline about two nice characters turning into nearer turns into a approach for youths to study exploration and acceptance, with out having to dig into particulars. At its greatest, Steven Universe presents new classes like this not typically explored in youngsters’s animation, which is why that is the most effective episode with none actual lore hooked up to it.


2. “A Single Pale Rose” (Season 5, E18)


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This episode reveals the present’s biggest twist with such power and brilliance that it deservingly stands at quantity 2. When Steven asks Pearl about what occurred between her and Pink Diamond, Pearl tells him to search out her cellphone inside her gem. Steven ventures deep into Pearl’s thoughts subject and uncovers the reality about his mom’s identification by means of Pearl’s recollections. The unimaginable storytelling method does greater than any expositional dialogue and retains unveiling layers to each Rose and Pearl.

Whereas Steven all the time grappled with the blended identification of his mom, this episode has him confront it head-on. This second feels earned and unforced, but genuinely shocking. Whereas followers had speculated on the speculation that this episode confirms, the present itself pulling this twist is a strong transfer, particularly so late in its run. Each character grapples with their relationship with Rose within the following episodes, abruptly redefining their place all based mostly on the lore that Pearl reveals right here. Once more, Steven Universe cements itself in cartoon historical past with its unimaginable storytelling that goes above and past its style one final time because the present approached its finale.


1. “Jail Break” (Season 1, Episode 49)


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Was there ever any doubt? “Jailbreak” is a traditional within the present’s historical past, unveiling the primary of many twists to the universe’s backstory. As Steven helps his buddies escape Jasper’s ship, the newly launched Ruby and Sapphire are revealed to be the unique gems that fuse into Garnet. Through an superior musical struggle sequence supplied by Estelle, Garnet celebrates being herself once more and stalls Jasper. The Crystal Gems are in a position to get again to earth, however Jasper comes after them till Lapis traps her by way of fusion.

“Jailbreak” is Steven Universe’s synecdoche. As one of many present’s first giant story twists, every little thing this present is and turns into may be boiled all the way down to this episode’s components. From an all-star track to thrilling motion, to the metaphor of fusion in each its greatest and worst kinds, every little thing that makes the present transcendent filters by means of its sturdy message. That is the most effective of the sequence due to its clear-cut demonstration of affection in its many kinds defending and remodeling all that it touches in excellent cartoony vogue with out speaking all the way down to its viewers.


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