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The Steven Universe Timeline Explained

Steven Universe is a dizzying feat of storytelling. At once a coming-of-age tale, an intergalactic fantasy, a family drama, and a genuinely hilarious all-ages delight, it makes balancing all those plates look positively easy. Centering it all is Steven himself, a hero whose courage is rooted in compassion, a willingness to change, and an unbreakable sense of what's right. He's a kid who laments the discontinuation of his favorite novelty ice cream, the heir to a planet-spanning empire, and the only person in the universe capable of righting thousands of years of wrongs. That's right: thousands. If there's anything that distinguishes Steven Universe more than its charismatic protagonist, it's the story's enormous scope. 

How does one go about keeping track of Gem rebellions that happened thousands of years in the past — especially when many of the main characters were actually there? By charting it all out on a timeline, of course! We've made our own for all your plot-untangling needs, from the earliest stirrings of the Diamonds to the post-war arrival of long-forgotten enemies. Read on, and remember: If every pork chop were perfect, we wouldn't have hot dogs.

Eons ago: The Great Diamond Authority is established

Untold years in the past, Gem culture as fans would know it came into being. Details are thin, but it seems likely that White Diamond, despot of Homeworld and the vast Gem empire, emerged first from the cosmic abyss. Soon after, Yellow Diamond, Blue Diamond, and Pink Diamond came into being, and the Great Diamond Authority was born.

This epoch would come to be known as Era 1. The four Diamonds might have squabbled, Pink, as the youngest, being particularly prone to fits of temper, but they were an intact foursome and their rule was as steady as it would ever be. Colonization was the order of the day, those planets brought under Gem control conquered, dismantled, and stripped of their resources to create ever more Gems. Norms became codified: Cross-Gem fusions were established as abominations, "off-color" Gems were seen as useless blights on society, and a rigid caste system developed according to White Diamond's self-serving vision of "perfection." Every Gem knew their purpose, which Diamond they served, and exactly where in the hierarchy they belonged — and that deviating from any of this meant being shattered, the Gem equivalent of death. Thousands of years passed this way, filled with Pearls who never knew anything but servility, Rubies who only ever guarded those seen as more precious, and Amethysts whose entire lives were spent building for the sake of the Diamonds and their empire.

6000 years pre-Steven Universe episode 1: Pink Diamond's change of heart

Despite the splendor and absolute power the Diamonds enjoyed for much of Era 1, all was not well within their glittering quartet. Pink Diamond, beloved for her clownish sense of fun, lavish parties, and childlike antics, had begun to chafe beneath all that frivolity, and longed for a colony of her own. Her elder Diamonds refused, leading to tantrums that cracked walls and disfigured Gems near her for thousands of years — until finally, Pink was given dominion over the Earth.

The luster soon wore off, however, and Pink Diamond found herself bored with the business of overseeing her colony. Seeking new fun, she disguised herself as a lowly Rose Quartz... and discovered the wonders of Earth. Everything dazzled her: Human civilizations, forest-dwelling fauna, meadows scattered with dandelions. The Earth was utterly unlike the life she'd known before — and it was going to be destroyed by her colonization. Transformed by her experiences, Pink begged the other Diamonds to let her abandon the colony and preserve the Earth as it was. They were unmoved: Yellow insisted Pink finish what she'd started, while Blue attempted to placate her with a human zoo. Newly impassioned, Pink was undaunted by their denials. She'd come to love Earth as it was, in all its messy, organic glory, and she was no longer interested in playing by Gem rules.

5750 years pre-SU: Rose Quartz's rebellion rages

Having created her Rose Quartz persona on a whim, Pink Diamond decided to take her seriously: Enter Rose Quartz, rebel leader of the Crystal Gems. Here was someone the Diamonds couldn't ignore, fomenting a revolution among Gemkind that grew ever larger and more tenacious. Blue Diamond's attempts to quell the uprisings failed, one campaign in particular resulting in Ruby and Sapphire meeting, becoming Garnet, and joining the Crystal Gems.

Rebellion became outright war. Bismuth, a Gem with building prowess, forged everything from Rose's legendary sword to the Breaking Point, a weapon capable of shattering a Diamond — a creation that so disturbed Pink Diamond, she dissolved Bismuth's form and contained her gem in a bubble, later secreted within Lion's extra-dimensional mane. Lapis Lazuli, trapped on a battlefield, was similarly "poofed," her gem fixed to a mirror by Homeworld Gems thinking her to be a rebellion member. Pink Diamond repeatedly returned to the Diamonds, begging them to let the Earth go, citing Rose Quartz and her terrifying army. She was rebuffed every time, scolded for being fickle, and told to do her duty, even if that only meant smiling and waving. But this was not the Pink Diamond of old, content to juggle and joke. Every battle-filled year of the war eroded the child she had been — and brought the formidable Rose Quartz into sharper focus.

4500 years pre-SU: Rose Quartz's ruse ends the war

After endless battles and innumerable attempts to convince the Diamonds to let the Earth be, Pink Diamond and Pearl hatched a daring plan. Pearl, disguised as Rose Quartz, appeared to shatter Pink Diamond in front of countless Gems — but in fact, Pink Diamond's corporeal form was merely "poofed," her actual gem hidden in Pearl-as-Rose's hand. The ruse was a success, convincing everyone that Pink Diamond was dead at the hands of the fearsome Rose Quartz. Pearl, having been compelled by Pink Diamond's last act of authority, was forbidden from ever revealing the truth, and Pink Diamond assumed the form and role of Rose Quartz, permanently.

The Diamonds were utterly devastated. The Earth, they decided, was worth only what it could do for them as the incubator of a "geoweapon": The cluster of gem shards they implanted within the planet, which would lay dormant for thousands of years. Having ordered all Homeworld Gems to evacuate, they attempted to obliterate the Crystal Gems with a dazzling blast of power. But Gems caught in their attack weren't destroyed — they were corrupted into the strange, animalistic monsters Steven would one day seek to heal. Nevertheless, the Crystal Gems were reduced to Rose Quartz, Pearl, and Garnet, and the Diamonds became a trio. Thus began Gem Era 2 — and life on Earth for the rebellion's last fighters.

4000 years pre-SU: Amethyst emerges from the Kindergarten

Five hundred years after the last Gem emerged from Earth's Prime Kindergarten, an Amethyst burst from its craggy walls. She was Amethyst Facet-5 Cut-8XM, unique for a whole host of reasons: She was the last known Gem to be made on Earth, far shorter than an Amethyst was meant to be, and, as she discovered upon clambering out of her hole, totally alone. There were no other Amethysts present as there were meant to be, ready to show her the ropes of being a burly foot soldier in the Diamonds' army. There were no other Gems around at all, in fact. For an unknown number of years, Amethyst roamed the Prime Kindergarten alone, an immortal child with no one but the boulders to talk to.

Eventually, the Crystal Gems — then consisting only of Rose Quartz, Pearl, and Garnet — discovered her. She was immediately brought into their fold, and thousands of years passed in which the foursome was inseparable. Amethyst grew to love her new family, yet remained a child, more comfortable with imitation and hyperactivity than anything else. True maturity would come only with Rose Quartz's passing and Steven's birth.

200 years pre-SU: William Dewey founds Beach City with some help from the Crystal Gems

Centuries went by in which the Crystal Gems explored the Earth, sought out corrupted Gems, bubbled them until a time they could be healed, and learned more about their strange new home. Rose Quartz explored the range of her powers, erecting healing springs and creating entire packs of reanimated pink lions with which she roamed the desert. Humanity never failed to intrigue her, and though the other Gems (especially Pearl) did not share her fascination, they were nevertheless roped into escapades and adventures involving the species they'd gone to war to protect.

One particular encounter led to the creation of Beach City, Steven's coastal home. "Historical Friction" unveiled the story of William Dewey, ancestor of the modern-day Mayor Dewey, who encountered a massive monster while at sea, only to be saved by the Crystal Gems. He would go on to make land and found Beach City — but his first mate Buddy wasn't content to stay put. As "Buddy's Book" revealed, he would travel the world, encountering Amethyst visiting the Kindergarten, a wide variety of Gem structures, and even Rose Quartz prowling the desert with her lions. His journal would end up an accidental atlas of Gem culture on Earth, discovered by Steven in the public library many years later.

30 years pre-SU: Greg Universe meets the Crystal Gems

The Crystal Gems' lives continued peacefully — until the arrival of someone new altered their paths forever. His name was Greg Universe, and he was a community college dropout, traveling the US alongside his sleazy manager, trying to get a music career off the ground. Diamonds, to him, were rocks on rings and outer space mattered most as the subject of awesome album covers. He was as human as human could be, and in short order, Rose Quartz was infatuated.

She'd fallen for humans before, but Greg was different. He forced her to confront the fact that she had never stopped seeing humans as adorable pets, exposed her to band t-shirts and hot dogs, and spent long, lazy days on the beach, enjoying the Earth Rose had saved thousands of years prior. Greg would claim, years later, that he never understood what such a "magical lady" saw in a "plain old dope" like him — but therein lies what made him so special to Rose. He was utterly ordinary in human terms, and thus absolutely extraordinary to a Gem. Greg changed before Rose's very eyes: He gave up touring, took a job at the car wash, and helped his friends raise their children. Mundanities to him, but to Rose, they were an intimate look at the sort of life she'd gone to war to protect. She was enthralled, in love, and eventually, contemplating something absolutely unprecedented: becoming a human herself.

14 years pre-SU: Rose Quartz gives up her form to become Steven

Rose and Greg's years together came to a strange end. Rose, fascinated by the way humans grow, change, and in her own awestruck words, "invent" themselves, decided to have a child with Greg. This was mind-boggling on a few levels. For one thing, a half-Gem, half-human child had never existed before, and very possibly could not exist at all. For another, she'd have to undergo human pregnancy, another totally unheard of phenomenon. And finally, she'd have to give up her form to become "half of [Steven]." He would have her gem, and as he would discover, her powers and occasional visions of her past, but he would be his own person. Rose Quartz (and thus, Pink Diamond) would be gone.

The Crystal Gems were shocked. It would take them years to fully process and accept Rose's decision, both because it was so completely foreign to them and because it took her away from them for good. Pearl especially would struggle with the loss of Rose, having loved her for millennia — to say nothing of having kept the secret of her identity of Pink Diamond. But to their surprise, the Gems loved Steven from the very beginning. After spending the first few years of his life with Greg, Steven moved in with the Gems and changed their lives forever.

0 years pre-SU: Steven changes the universe

Steven grew up like most kids, despite his immortal shapeshifting guardians. When the first episode saw him manifesting his mother's magical shield, it was a shocking event and the beginning of the end of the life he'd known.

Thus proceeded the events of Steven Universe, the series. Thousands of small meetings, battles, and reconciliations make up the story that unfolded across five seasons, from Lapis' journey to freedom and friendship to Connie's mastery of the sword. But at the center of it all was Steven: The oblivious boy with a favorite ice cream sandwich, the reluctant inheritor of his mother's misdeeds, and finally, the intergalactic leader who tore down Homeworld oppression by treating everyone, from the lowliest pebble to the mightiest Diamond, with compassion. Rose might have ended the colonization of Earth, but she was still a Gem — it took someone entirely new to break Homeworld's grip entirely. Innovative thinking and ironclad empathy were the answer, in the end, from a Beach City kid who'd never even heard of Pink Diamond, Homeworld, or Kindergartens. By the time Steven brought the Diamonds to earth and used their powers to heal the corrupted Gems, he'd freed Bismuth from her bubble, discovered the truth of Rose Quartz's origins, and taught the Cluster to coexist harmoniously. Not bad for a kid who started out singing the Cookie Cat theme song — nor for a young man determined to leave the universe better than he found it.

2 years post-SU: Spinel disrupts Steven's happy ending

Two years passed between the finale of Steven Universe and Steven Universe: The Movie. Steven, at the movie's start, was flush with the success of dismantling the Gem empire — only to have his happy ending disrupted by the arrival of Spinel, a Gem who had once been Pink Diamond's playmate. As Steven would learn, she'd been told to "play a game" by staying put while her mistress left to oversee her new colony. Thousands of years went by, during which she stayed perfectly in place. It was only when Steven sent a cheery message to the universe that Spinel learned the truth of her own abandonment — and the demise of the Diamond she's been created to serve.

Like so many Steven Universe antagonists, Spinel entered Steven's life venomously angry, looking for revenge and recognition, and left with newfound hope. She ended up settling down with the Diamonds, who loved her for how much she reminded them of Pink. But Steven had been rattled once more by an old ghost of his mother's, proving to him once and for all that there was no point at which he would be free of her legacy. "There's no such thing as happily ever after," he told Spinel at the end of the movie, "I'll always have more work to do." He likely will, and therein lies the tragedy and triumph of who he is.

3 years post-SU: Steven faces the future

Life on Earth continued, the Gems that now called it home adjusting, little by little, to their extraordinary new circumstances. Little Homeworld, built beside Beach City, grew, including Little Homeschool, a place for Gems to learn how to explore their own possibilities in the wide-open world of Era 3. Not all conformed easily — Jasper, for example, refused to give up the war she was born to fight, no matter how ardently Steven worked to convince her. But change happened, little by little, in the world Steven had transformed.

But Steven himself wasn't doing so well. His Beach City friends were growing up at the rapid pace of humanity, looking toward new horizons far beyond his reach. Odd new powers began to manifest, in which he glowed bright pink, demonstrated enormous strength, and manifested huge barriers. He might have healed the universe, but as Steven discovered, he was still a teenager, unsure of what to do with the rest of his (possibly very long) life. He might have accepted that there was no such thing as happily ever after, but that doesn't mean he was ready to face change in every aspect of his life — including himself. If anyone was up to the challenge, however, it was him — especially with his loved ones behind him and the courage of conviction he'd tempered within himself, over the course of an intergalactic war he'd single-handedly ended with love.