Let’s take a look back at the best episodes of Cartoon Network’s cult animated series Steven Universe season 1. The show revolves around the manic adventures of the title character, a boy who lives in the town of Beach City. Steven lives with aliens called the Crystal Gems and Steven, who is half-Gem himself, teams up with his friends and pet lion to protect his hometown from various threats while also learning to grow up.
Steven Universe debuted in 2013 to great acclaim and the fanbase continues to grow year by year. The series has matured alongside the main character and in addition to being a fun adventure with great musical numbers, it has tackled important themes like equality too. While later series would improve on Steven Universe season 1, it still did a great job of establishing the world and characters and featured some great sci-fi concepts.
Let’s look at the best episodes of Steven Universe season 1, based on their IMDb rankings.
Jail Break – Episode 52 (IMDb Rating 9.4)
The finale of Steven Universe season 1, “Jail Break” finds Steven and the Crystal Gems fleeing from series villain Jasper. In addition to delivering great jokes and emotional stakes, this is the episode where Steven learns a secret about Garnet.
Ocean Gem – Episode 26 (IMDb Rating 9.2)
"Ocean Gem" finds Steven and the gang having to save the ocean, which has been stolen by Lapis Lazuli. "Ocean Gem" is filled with some crazy visuals and action, but it’s an episode with some emotional weight to it too.
Rose’s Scabbard – Episode 45 (IMDb Rating 9.2)
"Rose’s Scabbard" is one of the defining episodes of Steven Universe with Lion finding the scabbard to Rose’s sword, but its Pearl’s romantic feelings for Steven’s mother and her feelings of betrayal that form the emotional core of the story.
The Return – Episode 51 (IMDb Rating 9.1)
The second last episode of Steven Universe season 1, “The Return” opens with a giant green hand pointing at the Gems from the sky to herald something dark is on the way. The episode still has a mix of laughs and action, but it’s one of the more intense stories of season 1 too.
Lion 3: Straight To Video - Episode 35 (IMDb Rating 9.1)
Another emotional, fan favorite episode finds Steven coming across a videotape in his Lion’s mane left by his mother, talking about her life on Earth with Greg and how much she loves her son.
On The Run – Episode 40 (IMDb Rating 9.0)
“On The Run” finds Steven and Amethyst heading off on the road together, with the hyperactive main character soon becoming bored. Amethyst also learns why she was created, which makes her question her purpose.
Alone Together – Episode 37 (IMDb Rating 8.9)
“Alone Together” finds the Gem teaching Steven about his fusion powers but this episode also tackled issues of consent and the experiences of transgender people, which is pretty incredible for a kids show.
Mirror Gem – Episode 25 (IMDb Rating 8.8)
The episode that leads into “Ocean Gem,” this finds Steven coming across a mirror that allows him to communicate with his own reflection, but this soon leads him into conflict with the Crystal Gems.
Story For Steven – Episode 48 (IMDb Rating 8.7)
Greg Universe tells his son how he met his mother Rose, making for a sweet episode that shows how the important figures in Steven’s life came to meet.
The Test – Episode 38 (IMDb Rating 8.5)
This episode finds Steven learning one of his missions was just a test, and while he deals with his anger about not being taken seriously the Gems also understand they need to let him make his own mistakes if he's to grow.