Steven Universe

Common Sense Media says

Quirky cartoon's edgy content suits tweens better than kids.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Though his family structure is atypical, Steven has the benefit of three older "siblings" who mentor him. Even though the Gems' supernatural powers are important weapons, Steven often shows that humans are worthy warriors, too. Some people may consider certain characters to be stereotypical; for example, Garnet sports an Afro and has large, curvy thighs and a tiny waist; Amethyst is overweight, eats junk food, picks her nose, and likes to be loud and crude; and Steven's dad has a mullet, minimal work ethic, and lives out of his van. Others may see these types subverted, as every character has depth and at least some positive qualities. 

Positive role models

Steven is compassionate, eager to learn, and creative in his problem-solving. All the Crystal Gems work closely with Steven to teach him about their shared powers. Amethyst encourages Steven's love of junk food and general crudity, but her heart is in the right place. Greg's lack of powers doesn't stop him from teaching his son some valuable lessons about being a good person, often from personal experience of doing things the wrong way.    


The Gems face off with a variety of beings. There's hand-to-hand combat, often accelerated by each Gem's unique weapons: a whip, gauntlet gloves, and a sword. Most foes collapse or disappear when they're killed, but in some cases there's additional violence.  


Nothing overt, but there's some innuendo that will hit the mark with tweens. In one scene, for example, Steven embraces a standing cannon and rubs up and down on it before being told by a grown-up to stop. 


Occasional "butt."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Steven Universe is one of those Adventure Time-esque animated shows that's more for teens and tweens than young kids. Its ultra retro, stylized design and kooky plots will appeal to teens who enjoy Cartoon Network's more offbeat offerings. That said, there's a truly likable group camaraderie and lots of strong female characters, especially Steven's cohorts the Gems, both of whom benefit Steven as he matures in his powers and as a boy. You'll see a fair amount of fighting, hastened by the Gems' powerful weapons, and some creatures' bloodless deaths, but some problems are solved with words rather than violence. Brief sexual innuendo isn't out of the question either.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

STEVEN UNIVERSE is an animated adventure series that centers on the youngest member of the Crystal Gems, a group of guardians tasked with protecting Earth from a variety of unwelcome visitors. Steven (voiced by Zack Callison) inherited his Gem from his late mother, and as the show progresses, his powers evolve with the help of full-fledged Gems Garnet (Estelle), Amethyst (Michaela Dietz), and Pearl (Deedee Magno). Also present is his dad, Greg (Tom Scharpling), who compensates for his lack of superpowers with an abundance of love and protective instincts for his son. 

Is it any good?


Created by former Adventure Time artist/writer Rebecca Sugar, Steven Universe is a quirky cartoon whose off-kilter comedy sometimes leans on stereotypes and crudity for effect. None of it is intentionally harmful, but parents may question the need for recurring potty humor and junk food consumption (ice cream and "fry bits" are a couple of the characters' favorites) that's mostly limited to the show's portlier -- and, it's implied, less healthy -- characters. On the upside, as the series evolves and Steven matures, more attention is paid to his assuming equal status and responsibility among the Gems, and Greg takes on a more significant mentoring role for Steven's character development, to surprisingly positive results.

As in Adventure Time, Steven Universe is a cartoon that isn't really meant for younger kids, thanks to some mild sexual innuendo and general crudity, among other snags. Its bizarre premise and throwback animation style may appeal to tweens looking for something that's off the beaten cartoon path, though, and they will be able to see past the characters' flaws to recognize their positive traits better than younger kids would. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of fantasy stories like this one. Why is it fun to imagine supernatural forces at play around us? How would it change the world if such things could be true?

  • Tweens: Who do you think is this show's target audience? What is the draw of cartoons that push the envelope and aren't meant for kids? Did any of this show's content seem inappropriate to you? 

  • Families can talk about their rules for media consumption. What time limits do you place on watching TV? On using devices? What are the safety and/or health hazards of too much screen time? What are some good activity alternatives to TV that your family can enjoy together?

TV details

Cast:Estelle, Michaela Dietz, Zach Callison
Network:Cartoon Network
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Space and aliens
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Steven Universe was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 16 years old Written byemykat183 November 7, 2013

An amazing show with great morals and lots of love!

My young age rating isn't because I think it's bad, on the contrary, as a teenager I really like this show, and I rather have my little siblings watch this than something like 'Jake and the Neverland pirates' or *shiver* 'Yo Gaba Gaba' because this show is engaging, and it talks to kids like intelligent, and always learning human beings, which, they are. I watched it with my 5 year old sister, my 7 year old brother, and my 9 year old brother. We all liked and enjoyed it. The younger kids can watch the bright happy colors, the silly songs, adorable jokes and characters, and be content and happy well soaking up good story, morals, and pure fun and action. The older kids can focus on the interesting story aspects, the beautiful screen art, and the great voice acting, not to mention the heart breaking backstories, something we have already seen in play from just the first few episodes. (And I can’t wait for more ^-^) My favorite part about the show and what I’ve seen of it, is that it acknowledges certain things that kid shows don’t normally, like yes, sometimes bad things happen to good people. Look at Steven, his mom died and he’s being raised by his mom’s old friends because his dad is kinda a deadbeat. But Steven keeps a bright and positive attitude in the cold world. And because he smiles and loves life, and keeps moving, he always comes out saving the day. That’s an important message to send to kids who have fallen on hard times. Life is tough and scary, but life is also bright and happy, and you should love being alive no matter who you are because things will always get better, and you are important and can help things get better! Steven is an amazing role model, and the shows message is so sweet it’s almost cheesy! But some people might be opposed to the show because of the violence, when we first meet the gems they are straight up murdering a bunch of worm monsters. Steven’s response to this is that he finds the worm monsters cool, and thinks they should keep them as pets, but then a worm monster spits an acid puddle on the floor, burning a hole that looks down in the lower levels of the building, and well, they don’t keep the monsters as pets. Would you? All the violence really seems to be directed at monsters who seek to kill, which really isn’t that bad. If anything, my younger siblings found it to be pretty awesome, as did I. However the violence is quite tame, and hardly present, and not to intense, as the monsters disappear out thin air when destroyed, and bigger monsters leave behind ‘gems’ as a sort of war prize when destroyed, but also seem to disappear. Others may dislike the show because of the ads. And I was very nearly in that category. You see after months of awful ads depicting a horrible show by the name of ‘Uncle Grandpa’ many cn fans lost all faith in cartoon networks choice of shows. It was actually kinda insulting. You’d just get finished with a bomb shell reveal from ‘Adventure Time’ you know what I mean AT fans, those sudden shocking moments that tell you something about the characters and the overall plot that come within the last second of the episode, those ones that leave you staring at the screen wishing you could time travel to next Monday to find out what the heck just happened, but knowing in your heart that you can’t, and even if you did, you’d find that next week’s episode had nothing to do with what you just watched. Then as you’re gawking in shock at the screen, he comes out. Uncle Grandpa. “Good morning” Remember those word cn fans? I do, and I’m still annoyed when I hear them today. *sigh* I’m ranting. Back on topic, uncle grandpa came out, and I watched it just to see if maybe it was good, it wasn't. Many people had the same experience, and many lost faith that cartoon network would ever produce another good show. Then we start seeing ‘Steven Universe’ ads. Still completely hurt by uncle grandpa, I personally was wary of watching this new silly looking show, and frankly kinda scared of the now seemingly abusive relationship I have formed with cartoon network. But, when my siblings wanted to watch the show with me, I braced myself for what could possibly be another punch to the face from my favorite channel. Going in with low and hesitant expectations, I readied myself in a mental flinch. But I was pleasantly surprised. Cartoon Network, why did I ever doubt you? So what I’m trying to say here, is watch the show, give it a chance at least! I really liked it and I think you will to! And if not, it’s still perfectly appropriate for kids of all ages, is full of good messages, and interesting stories, and of no threat to you or your family. Not to mention, it’s full of beautiful art and great characters and plot! This is emykat183, signing off and wishing you a happy viewing! ;)
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Written byAnonymous November 8, 2013

Strangely Charming

When I saw Steven Universe in commercial, I sighed in disgust. Another lackluster show with flashy colors to conceal it's boring actuality. When I actually saw the show... well, I was pleasantly surprised. "Pearl", whom I figured to be the dumb Paisley blonde of the group, was in truth, the firm mother figure. I loved that! And although the stereotypes seem a bit over-the-top (not to the point where that's the center of the issue), I found that, like Adventure Time, it's story will remain engaging for a long while. The premise is already engaging as it is. Though, the amount of junk food they consume is so somewhat excessive (not as much as Regular Show). If your kid needs a nice story, oddly fitting colors, can take some crude language, and can stomach a little bloodless action fighting scenes, I think this is for them.
Kid, 12 years old November 10, 2013

Not what i expected

When i saw the commercial i honestly thought it'd be a lot like regular show, adventure time, etc. Then when i saw it my reaction was like "WOW. Well this isn't what I thought It'd be." I was really surprised thinking that the show would probably be for people around my age then after I see it I say it should be like Y-7 unless it already is that but I don't know I never checked the rating.


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