In the golden age of television, there are more shows than any person could possibly keep up with. That’s why your friendly neighborhood FANGRRLS have pulled together a list of the queerest episodes of one of our favorite shows, Steven Universe. Whether you’re a first-time viewer or a die-hard mega-fan, these episodes will make your heart sing with queer glory — and with so much TV to watch, why not cut to the good (read: queer) stuff?
Steven Universe, an animated children’s show, has been heralded as one of the queerest shows on television — and it has proudly earned that honor. Fusion is the primary vehicle for communicating queerness within the narrative. This phenomenon occurs when two Gems (or not, in Steven’s case) combine their physical and emotional selves and become an entirely new being. Fusion Gems are more than just the two Gems who come together to create them. They are people who have their own personalities and quirks.
At times, fusion represents queer relationships. For instance, in Season 1, Episode 49 “Jail Break,” Garnet comes out as a fusion between Sapphire and Ruby. While no other fusion reveal could possibly live up to that moment, there are several characters throughout the series who are Gems who choose to live in a permanent state of fusion. Ruby and Sapphire are so devoted to one another that living together as a fusion isn’t enough, so they decide to have a human wedding in Season 5, Episode 23 “Reunited.” (It was a moment so tender and so unabashedly queer that it made our list of “The 18 Queerest Genre Moments of 20GAYteen.”)
Elsewhere, fusion represents gender identity. Whenever Steven, a human-Gem hybrid and male, fuses with a human female or a Gem (who all use she/her), the resulting fusion is non-binary. When Steven and Amethyst fuse they form Smoky Quartz, a real jokester who loves their yo-yos and has a self-deprecating sense of humor.
Finally, in Season 5, Episode 29 “Change Your Mind,” Steven is revealed to be a Gem fusion…of two Stevens: Gem Steven and Human Steven. In this way, fusion also comes to represent—and clarify—Steven’s transness. He both is and is not the mother who gave up her form to create him.
And, that’s only the beginning! We haven’t even gotten into the romantic tension between Lapis Lazuli and Peridot (LET THEM FUSE ALREADY, YOU COWARDS) or the negative example of fusion that is Malachite, a cipher for abusive relationships. We also haven’t touched on the love triangle between Steven’s mom Rose Quartz, his dad Greg Universe, and his guardian/fellow Crystal Gem Pearl, but just keep on reading. We’ll get there. And, finally, Season 5 is so fantastically queer that we could put almost every episode on this list. (Just watch it.)
In recognition of the power and beauty of queerness and the novelty of presenting queerness so simply in a children’s TV show, here are the 5 queerest episodes of Steven Universe.
Season 1, Episode 37: “Alone Together”
Steven has been trying to fuse with each of the Crystal Gems to no avail. Not only does he doubt his own ability, but so does Pearl, who wonders aloud “if Steven’s body is even capable of fusion” due to being a half-organic being. (Garnet believes he can and we all know that she has a special understanding of fusion.) When his friend Connie consoles him, they end up dancing together and as they laugh and lose themselves in the movement, Stevonie makes their first appearance. At Garnet’s behest, they spend their time enjoying the experience of being a fusion. Stevonie’s first experience is one filled with joy, active consent, and a whole lot of d’aww. (And a douche bag, but there’s always a douche bag.)
Season 2, Episode 22: “The Answer”
Garnet wakes Steven at midnight on his birthday to tell him a story. Though he already knows that she is a fusion of Ruby and Sapphire, he doesn’t know how they met and how Garnet became a Crystal Gem. So Garnet tells him as a birthday present.
After Rose starts the rebellion, Sapphire comes to earth to predict the future for Blue Diamond. When she faces the temporary incapacitation she expected, a “common” Ruby comes to her aid, accidentally fusing with the “superior” Gem. Garnet forms, surrounded by gasping aristocrats. A fusion of two Gems of different types had never before been seen and Garnet quickly unfuses before making a daring escape as Ruby and Sapphire. The two spend their time on Earth getting to know one another and exploring their mutual attraction. Eventually, they meet up with Rose and Pearl and become Rose’s main inspiration for the rest of the rebellion.
Season 3, Episode 8: “Mr. Greg”
Steven convinces Greg and Pearl to go on a road trip to the big city, but the tension between Pearl and Greg makes things tough. Before Greg, Rose and Pearl were a devoted item. Part of the reason Rose started the rebellion was the way Pearl “swept her off her feet.” (Sapphire’s words.) So, when Greg comes along and Rose falls in love with him, it devastates Pearl who barely feels like she gets to understand her pain before Rose gives up her form to create Steven. Her deeply emotional song, “It’s Over, Isn’t It?” captures her internal conflict and her grief powerfully and in fact, the entire episode is filled with emotionally potent songs. In the end, Steven explains that the reason he brought Greg and Pearl on this trip was so that they could see that they need each other. It’s a touching meditation on what queer family means.
Season 5, Episode 3: “Off Colors”
The Crystal Gems have lived with the understanding that they are the only “different” Gems in existence, but when Steven goes to Homeworld and meets a group of disenfranchised Gems who call themselves the Off Colors, all their assumptions are defied. Each of the amazing people he meets represents a “flawed” Gem that Homeworld deemed unworthy. Despite living under an authoritarian regime that would rather see them dead than fused or flawed, this little band of rebels carves out a life for themselves in an abandoned kindergarten. All of the Off Colors are gorgeous, however, Fluorite, who is a polyamorous six-Gem fusion, is quite the stunner. She speaks slowly, is HUGE, and eventually catches Garnet’s eye for a little fusion on fusion flirtation. (Who do we have to pay to see Fluorite and Garnet fuse?)
Season 5, Episode 29: “Change Your Mind”
In “Change Your Mind,” the events of the preceding five seasons come to a head. The bulk of the narrative surrounds Steven’s return to Homeworld and his attempts to reconcile with his Diamond Family. Blue and Yellow Diamond imprison Steven and Connie out of disgust when they form Stevonie in front of everyone. Instead of being apologetic, Steven points out that healthy families don’t lock one another away, causing Blue and Yellow to realize the error of their ways. But, White Diamond? She’s not buying it. Steven finds a way through and shows White that flaw and defects, all metaphors for types of queerness, are what makes life worth living.
This episode is required viewing and contains never-before-seen fusions that will make your jaw drop and make you wish you could ride a parasol that shoots rainbows.