Steven Universe

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This article is about the television show. For show's main character, see Steven Universe (character).
Steven Universe
Steven Universe.png
Genre Drama[2]
Created by Rebecca Sugar
Directed by
  • Elle Michalka (art)
  • Nick DeMayo (animation)
  • Ian Jones-Quartey (supervising, season 1-2)
Voices of
Theme music composer
  • Rebecca Sugar
  • Aivi & Surasshu
  • Jeff Liu
Opening theme "We Are the Crystal Gems"
Ending theme "Love Like You", performed by Rebecca Sugar (from Season 1)
Composer(s) Aivi Tran
Steven "Surasshu" Velema
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 62 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Rebecca Sugar
  • Ian Jones-Quartey (co-executive producer, from Season 1 to Season 2)
Running time 11 minutes
Production company(s)
Original channel Cartoon Network
Picture format 1080i (16:9 HDTV)
Audio format Dolby Surround
First shown in July 27, 2013 (pilot)
Original release November 4, 2013 – present
External links

Steven Universe is an American animated television series created by Rebecca Sugar, former storyboard artist, writer, and composer for Adventure Time. It is produced by Cartoon Network Studios, and is the first show by the studio to be created by a woman. The series, rated TV-PG, premiered on Cartoon Network in North America on November 4, 2013.

Setting and synopsis[edit]

The series is set in Beach City on the American East Coast, where the four Crystal Gems live in an ancient beachside temple, protecting the world from evil. Immortal alien warriors, they project female humanoid forms from magical gemstones that are the core of their being. The Crystal Gems are Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl – and Steven, a young, half-human, half-Gem boy who inherited his gemstone from his mother, the Crystal Gems' former leader Rose Quartz. As Steven tries to figure out his powers, he spends his days with his human father Greg, his friend Connie, other people in Beach City, or the other Gems, whether to help them save the world or just to hang out. He explores the abilities passed down to him by his mother, which include fusion – the ability of Gems to temporarily merge their identities and bodies to form a distinct new personality.

The first season slowly reveals that the four Crystal Gems are remnants of a once great interstellar civilization. Most of the locations they visit are ruined shrines or locations that were once of great importance to Gem culture, but have become derelict and fallen into disrepair for millenia. The Gems are cut off from their homeworld, and it becomes apparent that the monsters and artifacts they encounter are Gems who have lost the ability to maintain rational humanoid forms. In parallel, flashbacks related by Greg develop the history of Rose Quartz and her relationships. By the end of the first season, Steven – and through him, the audience – learns that the Homeworld Gems intended to sterilize the Earth to incubate new Gems within her. Now, 5,000 years after Rose Quartz led the other Crystal Gems in a violent and apparently successful rebellion against these genocidal plans, the homeworld's machinations once again extend towards the Earth with the arrival of two hostile envoys, Peridot and Jasper.


Concept and creation[edit]

The titular character, Steven, is loosely based on Sugar's younger brother Steven Sugar,[5] who is one of the series's background artists.[6] Growing up, Sugar would collaborate with Steven and other friends to create comics.[7] In an interview with The New York Times, she commented on developing the background of the show's protagonist, expressing her desire to base the character from the viewpoint of her brother growing up "where you're so comfortable in your life because you get all the attention, but you also want to rise up and not be the little brother."[8]

The series is set in the fictional Beach City, which is loosely based on Rehoboth Beach, Bethany Beach and Dewey Beach, Delaware, all places that Sugar visited as a child.[5] The supporting characters Lars and Sadie were originally created in Sugar's college days.[9] The Gems are, according to Sugar, all "some version of me... neurotic, lazy, decisive".[10] She wanted their gems to reflect their personalities – Pearl's perfect smoothness, Amethyst's coarseness and Garnet's air of mystery.[11]

Sugar said that Steven Universe was influenced by the anime series Future Boy Conan and Revolutionary Girl Utena, as well as by The Simpsons.[12] Musically, she considers Aimee Mann "a huge influence".[13] She described a theory underlying the series as "reverse escapism", that is, the notion that fantasy characters would become interested in real life and would want to participate in it. The titular character, Steven, personifies this "love affair between fantasy and reality".[6]

The unusually strong female presence in a series about a boy – all major characters except Steven and Greg are female – is intentional, according to Sugar. She intended to "tear down and play with the semiotics of gender in cartoons for children" because she considered it absurd that shows for boys should be fundamentally different from those for girls. In terms of plot, according to her, the series is developing towards a far-off end goal, although everything in between is kept flexible, in part, because her own intentions have "changed since I've started because I’ve grown up a lot" while working on Steven Universe.[14]


A part of the storyboard and script from the episode "Island Adventure". Unlike in other series, the storyboard artists are also the writers, and create script and storyboards in conjunction.

According to Sugar, production for Steven Universe began while she was working on Adventure Time. Her last episode for the latter series was "Simon & Marcy"; following that episode, working on both series simultaneously "became impossible to do". Similarly, she encountered difficulty in the production of the episode "Bad Little Boy".[15] As executive producer, Sugar works on every part of the series including art, animation and sound, but considers herself "the most hands on" at the storyboarding stage.[16]

The series is developed such that the outline for an episode is passed to storyboarders, who then draw and write the episode simultaneously. The resulting storyboards are then animated based on traditional paper drawings by one of two Korean studios, Sunmin and Rough Draft,[4] based on the production crew's designs.[6]

Steven Universe features songs and musical numbers produced by Sugar along with her story writers, who collaborate on the lyrics for each song. According to Sugar, not every episode is meant to feature a song. She has instead opted to use them only occasionally to avoid forcing creativity.[15]

On November 14, 2013, 13 additional episodes were ordered for the first season.[17] On July 25, 2014, the series was renewed for a second season.[18] The second season began on March 13, 2015, the day after the first season ended.


The pilot episode for Steven Universe, along with a few other pilots, were released on Cartoon Network's video platform on May 21, 2013.[19] They were taken down and redirected to a 404 page shortly after.[20] On July 20, 2013, Cartoon Network uploaded an edited version of the pilot to both their official website and Facebook page.[21] The pilots were also exhibited at the San Diego Comic-Con,[22] and from July 27 to July 28, 2013, Cartoon Network aired a sneak peek of the pilot as part of Big Fan Weekend, along with the pilots for Clarence and Uncle Grandpa. A 30-minute panel dedicated to the series was hosted at the New York Comic Con on October 13, 2013, with Rebecca Sugar hosting.[23] The series premiered in the United States on November 4, 2013 on Cartoon Network, with two episodes.[24]

In Canada, it began airing on Cartoon Network on November 11, 2013[25] and on Teletoon on April 24, 2014.[26] It also airs on Cartoon Network channels in Australia from February 3, 2014[27] and in the United Kingdom and Ireland from May 12.[28]


Steven Universe series overview
Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
Pilot July 27, 2013
1 49 November 4, 2013 March 12, 2015
2 TBA March 13, 2015 TBA


A crossover episode with Uncle Grandpa, "Say Uncle", aired on April 2, 2015.[29]

Other media[edit]

Companion books[edit]

Several companion books are to be published:

  • Rebecca Sugar's Steven Universe's Guide to the Crystal Gems for Humans (October 2015, ISBN 978-0843183160) is to contain information about the Crystal Gems as well as original art.[30]
  • Max Braillier's Quest for Gem Magic (October 2015, ISBN 978-0843183177) is a "colorful journal and activity book" aimed at 8- to 12-year-olds.[31]
  • Walter Burns's Steven Universe Mad Libs (October 2015, ISBN 978-0843183092) is a Mad Libs word game book.[32]

Video game[edit]

A tactical role-playing video game based on the series, Steven Universe: Attack the Light!, was released on April 2, 2015 for iOS and Android devices.[33] It was developed by Grumpyface Studios in collaboration with Rebecca Sugar for mobile devices. Players control the four Crystal Gems in fights against gem monsters.[34][35]


BOOM! Studios publishes an ongoing monthly comics series based on Steven Universe written by Jeremy Sorese and illustrated by Coleman Engle.[36] A preview appeared in Adventure Time: 2013 Spoooktacular #1.[37] The first issue was published in August 2014.

A graphic novel based on Steven Universe, the first in a planned series, is to be published by KaBOOM! in December 2015. Written by Jeremy Sorese and drawn by Coleman Engle, Steven Universe: Too Cool for School is to develop the friendship between Steven and Connie as he accompanies her to school one day.[38]


Initial announcements of the series have attained positive press for Sugar being the first female creator for any show produced by Cartoon Network Studios. When asked about her role as a solo female creator, she responded with gratitude towards the feedback, ultimately voicing her passion to be a role model "just in the sense that I get to make what the ultimate cartoon should be. I tried to be a role model [by showing that] anyone who wanted to could take really traditional ideas of animation and bring them into the present but keep all the trappings of what [was] used [to make cartoons great] in the past."[39]

The series has received very positive reviews. David Hinckley of New York Daily News gave the series three stars out of five and called the series a "good-natured drama".[2] Tom Conroy of Media Life Magazine wrote that the series had the "right mix of edge and heart" and complimented "the blend of snark and sweetness".[40] The A.V. Club gave the series a B+ and wrote, "Steven Universe is on its way to becoming something special, a show that's inviting to viewers regardless of gender, age, or any of the other social constructs Beach City gets along just fine without."[41] Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times was highly positive, commenting that the series was "very good" and concluding with "[Rebecca] Sugar's good at this stuff — which is all that really counts."[42] Devin O’Leary of Weekly Alibi praised the series premiere for its "cheerful, distinctive look", making a comparison to the "highly cartoonish art style ... a cross between the old Schoolhouse Rock! shorts and some long-lost 70s anime series."[43]

Emily Ashby of Common Sense Media, on the other hand, gave the series 3 out of 5 stars, promoting the series "for older tweens [than] for kids" in her review.[44] As of April 2015, the score has been switched to a 4 out of 5 stars in Ashby's review.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result
2014 Annie Award Outstanding Achievement in Character Design in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production[45] Danny Hynes and Colin Howard Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Production Design in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production[45] Steven Sugar, Emily Walus, Sam Bosma, Elle Michalka, and Amanda Winterstein (for "Gem Glow") Nominated
2014 Behind The Voice Actor Awards Best Male Vocal Performance by a Child[46] Zach Callison (for "Steven Universe") Won

Home media[edit]

Video on demand[edit]

Depending on the customer's region, Steven Universe is available through various video on demand services such as Hulu, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and Xbox Video.


Episodes on the Steven Universe DVDs are not in original broadcast order. In the table below, the episodes are listed in the order they appear on the DVD, and are numbered according to the order in which they were originally broadcast.

Region 1
DVD title Season(s) Aspect ratio Episode count Total running time Release date Episodes
"Gem Glow" 1 16:9 12 132 minutes January 13, 2015 2 ("Laser Light Canon"), 1 ("Gem Glow"), 6 ("Cat Fingers"), 7 ("Bubble Buddies"), 9 ("Tiger Millionaire"), 10 ("Steven's Lion"), 15 ("Onion Trade"), 12 ("Giant Woman"), 14 ("Lars and the Cool Kids"), 19 ("Rose's Room"), 18 ("Beach Party") and 22 ("Steven and the Stevens")


  1. ^ " Steven Universe: Season 1, Episode 1 "Gem Glow / Laser Light Cannon": Amazon Instant Video". Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "'Steven Universe,' TV review". New York Daily News. 4 November 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  3. ^ McLean, Thomas J. (2012-09-11). "Cartoon Network Greenlights Steven Universe, Uncle Grandpa Series". Animation Magazine. Retrieved 2013-08-11. 
  4. ^ a b Levin, Ben (15 May 2015). "15 May 2015". Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Cavna, Michael (2013-11-01). "'Steven Universe' creator Rebecca Sugar is a Cartoon Network trailblazer". The Washington Post. 
  6. ^ a b c "Interview: Steven Universe Creator Rebecca Sugar". Hot Topic. 6 June 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  7. ^ Zargari, Shahab; Ryan Brunty; Ryan Davis (2013-07-27). "SDCC 2013 Press Roundtable Interview Series: Uncle Grandpa, Clarence, and Steven Universe" (AUDIOVISUAL WORK). Verbicide Magazine. Retrieved 2013-08-12. [Steven Universe, 1:58–2:06] I've always loved working with my friends on comics, and growing up, I did a lot of comics, and me and my brother together, we would do a lot of comics ... 
  8. ^ Ito, Robert; Jeremy Egner (2013-07-26). "Rising Animators Spring Into Motion". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-08-11. 
  9. ^ Sugar, Rebecca (20 August 2014). "I am Rebecca Sugar, creator of Steven Universe, and former Adventure Time storyboarder, AMA!". Reddit. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  10. ^ Sugar, Rebecca (20 August 2014). "I am Rebecca Sugar, creator of Steven Universe, and former Adventure Time storyboarder, AMA!". Reddit. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  11. ^ Sugar, Rebecca (20 August 2014). "I am Rebecca Sugar, creator of Steven Universe, and former Adventure Time storyboarder, AMA!". Reddit. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  12. ^ Sugar, Rebecca (20 August 2014). "I am Rebecca Sugar, creator of Steven Universe, and former Adventure Time storyboarder, AMA!". Reddit. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  13. ^ Sugar, Rebecca (20 August 2014). "I am Rebecca Sugar, creator of Steven Universe, and former Adventure Time storyboarder, AMA!". Reddit. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  14. ^ Howe-Smith, Nia. "Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar on growing up, gender politics and her brother". Entertainment Weekly (15 June 2015). Retrieved 22 June 2015. 
  15. ^ a b Kohn, Eric (2013-11-01). "Adventure Time Writer Rebecca Sugar on Steven Universe, Being Cartoon Network's First Female Show Creator And Why Pop Art Is 'Offensive'". Indiewire. p. 1. Retrieved 2013-11-25. 
  16. ^ Sugar, Rebecca (20 August 2014). "I am Rebecca Sugar, creator of Steven Universe, and former Adventure Time storyboarder, AMA!". Reddit. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (July 25, 2014). "Comic-Con Exclusive: Cartoon Network Renews 'Adventure Time,' 'Regular Show,' 3 More". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved July 25, 2014. 
  19. ^ Amidi, Amid (2013-05-21). "Sneak Peek: Cartoon Network's Steven Universe by Rebecca Sugar". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved 2013-08-11. 
  20. ^ Woerner, Meredith (2013-05-22). "Watch the amazing, fantastic and stupendous pilot of Steven Universe". io9. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  21. ^ Bricken, Rob (2013-07-20). "The first look at Rebecca Sugar's amazing new cartoon Steven Universe". io9. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  22. ^ Wolfe, Jennifer (2013-07-22). "Cartoon Network Sneak Peeks Rebecca Sugar’s Steven Universe". Animation World Network. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  23. ^ "Cartoon Network presents Steven Universe". Panels & Autographing. New York Comic Con. 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-24. 
  24. ^ D’Amato, Adrienne; Lach, Dawn; Ungerson, Shana (2013-10-03). "Steven Universe" (Press release). Cartoon Network. Characters tab. Retrieved 2013-10-03. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ Wolfe, Jennifer (April 8, 2014). "Rebecca Sugar's 'Steven Universe' Headed to Teletoon Canada". Animation World Network. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  27. ^ DHiggins (February 3, 2014). "New this week: Selling Houses, Tony Robinson's Time Walks, Freddie Flintoff and Big Cat Week". Foxtel. Retrieved 17 November 2014. 
  28. ^ Munn, Patrick (March 10, 2014). "Turner UK Unveils 2014 Programming Slate: 4 New Shows For Cartoon Network, New ‘Tom & Jerry’ Series & More". TV Wise. Retrieved 17 November 2014. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Steven Universe's Guide to the Crystal Gems for Humans". Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  31. ^ "Quest for Gem Magic". Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  32. ^ "Steven Universe Mad Libs". Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  33. ^
  34. ^ Dotson, Carter. "Cartoon Network Shows Off New 'Adventure Time' and 'Steven Universe' Games at PAX". Touch Arcade. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  35. ^ Jutte, Garrett (4 October 2015). "Steven Universe: Attack the Light! Video Game Coming to iOS". Guardian Liberty Voice. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  36. ^ Universe "BOOM! Studios Steven Universe". Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  37. ^ "Boom! Studios Announces ‘Steven Universe’ Ongoing Comic Book Series". Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  38. ^ Brown, Tracy (25 June 2015). "Exclusive cover reveal: 'Steven Universe' graphic novel continues to dream big". LA Times. Retrieved 28 June 2015. 
  39. ^ OLeary, Shannon (2013-07-24). "Cartoon Network Shows to watch out for: Steve[n] Universe, Uncle Grandpa, and Clarence". The Beat. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  40. ^ "‘Steven Universe,’ and a sweet one it is". Media Life Magazine. 1 November 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  41. ^ "A cartoon with an Adventure Time pedigree breaks down barriers". The A.V. Club. 4 November 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  42. ^ "Review: 'Steven Universe' is a gem". Los Angeles Times. 4 November 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  43. ^ O'Leary, Devin D. (December 2013). "Sci-fi gets Sugar-coated in Cartoon Network's Steven Universe". Weekly Alibi 22 (50). 
  44. ^ Ashby, Emily (2013-10-29). "Steven Universe". Television Review. Common Sense Media. Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  45. ^ a b "Annie Awards Nominations". ASIFA-Hollywood. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  46. ^ "BTVA Voice Acting Awards". Inyxception Enterprises. Retrieved January 15, 2015. 

External links[edit]