Steven Universe: The Movie’s Best Call-Outs to The Original Series
There are multiple great references to the original Steven Universe hidden in the Cartoon Network show’s first film.
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WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Steven Universe: The Movie, which premiered Sept. 2 on Cartoon Network.
Steven Universe: The Movie was a love letter to the series that preceded it, pushing not just the overall themes of the series but featuring the entire expansive cast in some form. There are a number of references throughout the film to earlier episodes and plotlines, as well. Some of them are a reference to specific locations and moments from the show, while others toy with unused designs and unanswered questions.
Here are the best references to the original Steven Universe television series in the movie.
Sapphire Saving Ruby
After all the Crystal Gems lose their memories, Ruby and Sapphire are restored to their original, separate forms. Sapphire predicted Ruby would be shattered and killed in less than a day, an event that almost happens when Spinel accidentally unleashes a buzzsaw and it goes out of control, cutting loose a giant anvil Bismuth had been using for construction. Steven shields Ruby for a moment, but when the shield cracks, Sapphire ignores her own prophecy and leaps to save Ruby, causing them to fuse into Garnet.
Garnet wasn’t introduced as a fusion, instead initially appearing to just be a regular Crystal Gem. But her origins were eventually revealed in the Season 2 episode, “The Answer.” Brought to Earth to try and capture Rose Quartz, Sapphire predicted her own demise. But Ruby surprised everyone when she lept to push Sapphire out of the way. The pair accidentally fused into Garnet and ended up fleeing together. The moment provides a satisfying twist on their origins, with Sapphire finally getting the chance to return the favor.
While trying to restore Amethyst’s memories, Steven takes the gem with him around Beach City. The music number “No Matter What” showcases them having fun together, with Steven slowly reminding Amethyst about all the things she’s forgotten that she loves. After taking a train to find a cliffside from which to stare out across the ocean, Steven is able to fully restore her and her memories by completing their signature handshake.
The sequence can be seen as a direct follow-up to the events of “On The Run” from the first season of the series. After having a fight with Pearl, Amethyst decides to go “on the run” with Steven. The pair even take the same train, riding along and singing a musical number. This was one of the earliest explorations of Amethyst’s character, and also introduced the Kindergarten that she was born in. It’s one of the major moments where Steven and Amethyst really begin to form a bond, and it’s a pleasant surprise to see the movie go through it again.
Amethyst Turning Into Rose
During the Sadie Killer and the Suspects concert, Steven and Greg try to restore Pearl’s memories by having her listen to a song about rebelling and becoming your own person. When the song doesn’t initially have an effect, Amethyst transforms into Rose to try and jog her memory, though even that isn’t enough. It takes Steg (the fusion of Steven and his father Greg) singing a rock ballad about being your own person to truly awaken Pearl.
The plan to restore Pearl with the image of Rose makes sense. Pearl was formerly Pink Diamond’s attendant, and she helped her fake her death so she could become Rose Quartz. Pearl fell in love with her over time and was devastated when she died to give birth to Steven. The moment also references the episode “Maximum Capacity” by having Amethyst specifically shapeshift to look like Rose. While it was done to hurt Greg during “Maximum Capacity,” this time she makes sure Greg and Steven are okay with her using Rose’s appearance, in a quiet indicator of how she has grown over the course of the series.
Lars And The Off-Color Gems
Although the many civilians of Beach City do appear throughout the movie, none of them really play any important role. Among them are Lars and the Off-Color Gems, a group of gems who were in hiding on the gem Homeworld. The group has been among the many gems that have been helping Bismuth construct the neighboring “little Homeworld.” Lars is also used as a portal at one point by Steven, who travels through Lion’s Dimension.
Lars gained that ability when Steven used his powers to bring Lars back to life in the fifth season episode “Off Colors.” There also two small references are hidden in plain sight during this moment as well. The mysterious chest left by Rose in Lion’s Dimension is seen when he travels through the dimension to pop out of Lars’ hair. The chest has been opened, hinting that sometime in the two years since the last episode of the fifth season, Steven may have found a way to unlock it. Steven also makes sure to save a piece of an Ube Roll that Lars baked for the Off-Color Gems. The distinctive purple dessert was first baked by Lars in the Season 4 episode “The Good Lars.”
Most of the narrative centers on Steven trying to help the Crystal Gems get their memories restored. Eventually, all of them are restored to their original form by Steven figuring out how to bring their memories to the forefront. When this happens, the Crystal Gems glow a bright white and quickly transform into the various forms they’ve been in the past. Hidden amongst these are flashes of specific and deep references to the history of the series.
Garnet has the fewest transformations thanks to her overall strength, making her more difficult to knock out of the battle. On the other hand, Amethyst has a series of transformations to reflect her numerous creations. There’s even a shot of her with a lopsided arm and leg from when her gem was cracked in the Season 1 episode “An Indirect Kiss,” standing out amongst the others. The most obscure reference comes with Pearl. Among her many transformations is the appearance that she had in the original unaired pilot, with a distinctive hairstyle and cloth on her wrists.
Created by Rebecca Sugar, Steven Universe stars Zach Callison, Estelle, Deedee Magno Hall and Michaela Dietz. It is currently unknown when new episodes will begin to air on Cartoon Network. The movie is available now.
Brandon Zachary is an Associate Writer with Comic Book Resources and has written for CBR since 2018. He covers breakouts on comics, film, television, video games, and anime. He also conducts industry interviews, is a Rotten Tomatoes certified film critic, and knows SO MUCH about the X-Men. For requests, comments, or to hear his pitch for a third Avatar series that incorporates robots, you can contact him through [email protected].