When life is challenging, like say as a pandemic sweeps across the planet, TV can be incredibly comforting — and what's more comforting than one of the queerest animated children's series ever: Steven Universe?
Now, while every single character is a damn delight, we stan Garnet, the HBIC, the enigma, the mystery, the total smoke show. Viewers are introduced to her as a large, powerful Gem who mentors the Crystal Gems and helps them make decisions, but as the series unfolds we learn there's more to her than meets the eye.
In her own words, Garnet is "an entirely new Fusion formed not for power but for love." *sobs*
When a Ruby Guard meets a Sapphire and falls in love, they change not just Gemkind, but humanity as well — proving that their love, their queer love, is worth fighting for.
Created by Rebecca Sugar, a nonbinary woman, Steven Universe is the first Cartoon Network series to be created and run by a woman. Sugar wanted the series to offer kids positive representations of LGBTQ+ people. It's safe to say she succeeded and in the process gave a bunch of older queers a powerful way to explore and express ideas around gender, sexuality, and community.
So, though the world may be changing in ways we're still discovering, it's always a good time to revisit the greatest hits of Ruby, Sapphire, and Garnet. That's why we created this Garnet binge guide to Steven Universe. Grab some tissues and buckle up for the greatest love story ever told.
Season 1: Episode 1 "Gem Glow"
The pilot, way back when Steven thought his Gem powers were related to ice cream, establishes Garenet as a stoic, loving leader who has access to esoteric knowledge. Seriously, her advice on how to access Steven's Gem weapon is basically a treatise on the universe's interconnectivity.
Season 1: Episode 3 "Cheeseburger Backpack"
The Crystal Gems take Steven on a mission to save the Sea Spire. While Pearl frets about Steven's involvement, Garnet encourages him to be himself and do his thing. And when he makes mistakes she reminds him that it's okay to try and fail.
Season 1: Episode 8 "Serious Steven"
On another mission, Steven decides to activate "Serious Steven" and focus up. Garnet is so damn supportive of him in this episode that you'll probably bawl your eyes out — especially when she makes it clear she prefers regular Steven to Serious Steven.
Season 1: Episode 18 "Beach Party"
Garnet doesn't exactly "get" humans, but when Steven wants the Crystal Gems to make nice with the people of Beach City, particularly the Pizza family, she acquiesces even though the Pizza family are slow to warm to her. Maybe it's because Garnet accidentally destroyed their restaurant's roof and marquis and kind of just walked away? Who can say?
Season 1: Episode 20 "Coach Steven"
This is the first time we get to see Garnet form a Fusion with another Crystal Gem and she and Amethyst form Sugilite, a super strong, stone cold Betty who gets just a little bit out of control. Sugilite inspires Steven to become super strong, but Pearl isn't a huge fan of the lessons Sugilite teaches.
Season 1: Episode 33 "Garnet's Universe"
Garnet comes home and Steven tells her the story of her day. The animation style of this episode is so cute and it's a funny meta-textual moment for the series.
Season 1: Episode 39 "Future Vision"
Steven learns that Garnet has Future Vision, a power that allows her to see potential outcomes of decisions made. She explains that time is like a river and she has "the map" and steers "the ship." Steven melts down about pre-cognition because he's a child.
Season 1: Episodes 48 and 49 "The Return" and "Jail Break"
Gem Homeworld begins invading Earth (again). The Crystal Gems decide to face their foe without Steven, but Steven returns. He tells his father, "They don't have my shield!" And we fall into a pit of our own tears.
All of the Crystal Gems are captured by the Homeworld Gems including a big beefy Gem named Jasper, but don't worry: They can't stop Steven or the Gems he meets named Ruby and Sapphire…who just so happen to fuse together to form our favorite stoic badass.
Season 2: Episode 5 "Reformed"
Steven, Amethyst, and Garnet chase a creature in Amethyst's room in the temple. Amethyst is…let's go with messy. And as she faces the creature they call the Slinker, she also has to face Garnet's expectations for her. This great episode sheds light on Garnet's role as leader and as Amethyst's hero.
Season 2: Episode 8 "Keeping it Together"
Garnet and Steven figure out that the Homeworld Gems have been fusing shards together into a horrific form of Fusion. Garnet starts to freak out, but Steven helps her keep it together.
Season 2: Episodes 11 and 12 "Cry for Help" and "Keystone Motel"
When there's need of another big-ass Fusion, Garnet and Pearl form Sardonyx. Sardonyx is completely irresistible—and I'm not just talking about to viewers. Pearl gets a little co-dependent and manipulates Garnet into forming Sardonyx. That results in Garnet literally breaking up into Ruby and Sapphire who fight about how to proceed.
Season 2: Episode 15 "Friend Ship"
While pursuing Peridot, the Homeworld Gem who has been giving the Gem's a lot of trouble, Garnet and Pearl get stuck in a tough situation. They are forced to talk about what happened with Sardonyx and Garnet gives Pearl the best speech about interdependence ever.
Season 2: Episode 22 "The Answer"
Buckle up for the adorable back story of how one Ruby Guard fell in love with a Sapphire.
Season 3: Episode 4 "Log Date 7 15 2"
Peridot has joined the Crystal Gems, but she is really, really uncomfortable with the "fused one." As Steven listens to her audio-journal, he learns how she comes to understand and befriend Garnet.
Season 3: Episode 9 "Hit the Diamond"
Ruby and Sapphire get the Gems out of a tight spot…by playing baseball against a bunch of Ruby Guards. But when they can't stop flirting, they blow the Crystal Gems' cover.
One of my favorite running gags is that Ruby and Sapphire are too gay to function — and this episode just nails how adorable they are.
Season 4: Episode 4 "Mindful Education"
If you need a pep talk about not being perfect and learning to live with pain and mistakes, watch this incredible episode. Garnet teaches Stevonnie about meditation, control, and the power of Fusion.
Season 4: Episode 9 "Three Gems and a Baby"
Another adorable backstory episode shows how the Crystal Gems reacted when Steven was born. In a word? Poorly. They kidnap Steven, try to get Rose to come out of his Gem, and have to deal with one freaked out papa. All's well that ends well, though.
Season 4: Episodes 10-14 "Steven's Dream" "Adventures in Light Distortion" "Gem Heist" "The Zoo" "That Will Be All"
Garnet tries to dissuade Steven from going to a place he keeps dreaming of, which only makes him want to go more. When he goes anyway, his dad is captured and transferred to a Gem Zoo where he meets a bunch of humans that evolved separately from humanity. Garnet, Ruby, and Sapphire all get in on the action in these episodes — and they learn that their fear of the Diamonds can't keep them from helping the people they love.
Season 5: Episode 13 "Your Mother and Mine"
Garnet meets the Off Colors, Gems who don't meet Homeworld's purity standards, and Captain Lars. She immediately adores every one of them and compliments their unique attributes, which makes them feel weird. She even flirts with Flourite, a Fusion of several Gems. Then, she tells the Off Colors the true story of Rose Quartz. This whole episode is all about queer resilience and queer community.
Season 5: Episode 15 "Pool Hopping"
While Steven and Garnet explore alternate timelines by making zany decisions, Garnet realizes Steven isn't a baby anymore.
Season 5: Episodes 19-21 "Now We're Only Falling Apart" "What's Your Problem?" "The Question"
When the Crystal Gems learn that Rose Quartz isn't who she said she was, it impacts them all in different ways. Garnet un-fuses and Ruby and Sapphire discuss dissolving their relationship. Steven (and every viewer) flips out but his dad explains that relationships are choices. And guess what? Ruby and Sapphire choose each other which leads to…
Season 5: Episode 23 "Reunited"
A BIG GAY WEDDING!
Season 5: Episode 29 "Change Your Mind"
This 45-minute special is all about how Steven and the Gems fight for the freedom of the universe. We get to see a bunch of new Fusions and FINALLY we see what happens when Garnet and Steven fuse. OMG you're gonna love Sunstone.
This incredible episode is all about what it's like to be queer when your family doesn't accept you.
Steven Universe: The Movie
When one of Steven's mom's old friends (that she screwed over, of course) arrives on earth to exact vengeance, the Crystal Gems have their memories wiped and Steven has to help them find themselves. Garnet's meet cute happens again, but with a fun reversal.
Steven Universe Future
Steven Universe Future is kind of an epilogue for the series, showing what life is like for the Gems who have remained on Earth and formed Little Homeworld. While Garnet, Ruby, and Sapphire don't appear in every episode, their journeys continue in delightful ways. This entire miraculous season should be considered required viewing for any diehard Steven Universe fan.