Steven Universe

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Steven Universe TV Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Quirky cartoon values family, fun, and finding your purpose.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 146 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 384 reviews

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

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 see stereotypes on the surface; for example, Amethyst 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. However, every character has incredible depth and their love and support for Steven is apparent, subverting any preconceived notions.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Steven is compassionate, curious, eager to learn, and creative in his problem-solving. All the Crystal Gems work closely with Steven to teach him about their shared powers. 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."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bylistenhere January 19, 2015

Are we watching the same show?

The warnings are so off the mark. Here are some clarifications:
1. I want to make it clear that Steven has never done anything sexual, there are no crude jokes... Continue reading
Adult Written byIcyteasupport March 14, 2014

Believe in Steven Universe?

Amazing show, the pacing is perfect, it doesn't need a 2 part episode to explain something with loads of action and emotion.
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... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byIhateyou December 5, 2013

Actual review

Emily Ashby is a biased critic, and she should be ashamed. Her review gave this show an unfair review, which is completely untrue. I'm going to give you a... Continue reading

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, this 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. 

Talk to your kids about ...

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

  • The Gems teach and mentor Steven. Can you think of any other shows where female characters are as powerful as the Gems? What qualities do each of them have?

  • Some animated shows contain both comedy and drama in their stories; this one, Legend of Korra, and others. What do you think about this trend? What can animation do that live-action can't?

  • How do the characters in Steven Universe demonstrate compassion and curiosity? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love tween TV

Character Strengths

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