Want personalized picks that fit your family?

Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.

Get age-based picks

Steven Universe

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

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 123 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 297 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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.    

Violence

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.  

Sex

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. 

Language

Occasional "butt."

Consumerism
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 byemilylynng January 13, 2015

Everything you should ACTUALLY know about Steven Universe, okay?

I was so blown away by how bad the top review for this show was so I made an account: Hello, My name is Emily, I'm not a soccer mom, and here's everyt... Continue reading
Adult Written bymilanestablished January 20, 2014

It's Great

When you search for wrong things you can find them! Even in a Tom and Jerry you can see stereotypes and mildly sexual behavior. People complain when there are t... 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
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

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

Character Strengths

Find more TV shows that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love tween TV

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate