This article contains information on a subject that is not considered canon in Steven Universe.
It must be tougher for you, Lars. At least people like jokes!
The seven-minute, online-exclusive pilot of Steven Universe, alternatively referred to as "The Time Thing", was released on May 21, 2013, through Rebecca Sugar's father Rob's YouTube channel and on Cartoon Network's website (which has since been removed.)
Steven is given a magical time travel hourglass from Amethyst and does what any kid would do- he uses it for comebacks. But toying with magic draws trouble to his sleepy beach town and Steven has to step up and save the day- with more comebacks.
"Rebecca Sugar was asked by Cartoon Network to create a pilot for a proposed cartoon series. The result: Steven Universe. Here's the finished pilot. Rebecca and her crew are hard at work on the series, and what you see here are early versions of character designs and animation. Rebecca's brother Steven is working on the backgrounds for the show, so to say I am super proud would be an understatement. Enjoy the video and look for Steven Universe to start in the fall."
The pilot episode begins with a now-scrapped intro with the Crystal Gems introducing themselves. Steven is waiting for the other Crystal Gems to come back from the Crystal Palace. When they arrive via the Warp Pad, Amethyst shows an Electric Skull to Steven, and it starts laughing hysterically. Pearl slaps it out of Amethyst's hand and smashes it with her foot, saying their Crystal Palace was swarming with the creatures. Amethyst takes the Hourglass out of her fanny pack and says that the creatures were after it. Steven asks if he can see it and Amethyst says he can, but Pearl says no because it is extremely powerful and that they should not have brought it home. Steven tells Garnet to make Pearl let him see it, but she shushes him. Steven is disappointed and says that he wants to go on adventures with them next time, and he tells the Gems that he wrote a song for the team and begins to sing "We Are the Crystal Gems" (which later on turns into the theme song for the finalized show). Amethyst and Pearl begin to tease him, saying that he will look like a clown if he were to play the song in battle. Garnet tells them not to make fun of Steven, and they stop. Pearl explains to Steven that he is too young to come with them, and he does not have powers in his gem yet, but Steven still wants to help, so Amethyst tells him to go grab some donuts, and after giving him money, he leaves to do so.
When Steven walks outside to go to Big Donut, he learns that Amethyst gave him the Hourglass. He keeps it in his pocket and proceeds to buy donuts. As Steven enters the store, Lars, the cashier, begins to mock Steven, who slams his money on the counter and demands to have three donuts. Lars retrieves the donuts and makes fun of Amethyst, Garnet, and Pearl, causing Steven to point out that they save the world and that he is also a Crystal Gem. Lars says that they are all hot girls, and Steven is not, so Steven storms out as Sadie tells Lars to lay off. Steven broods about it, and says, "If I was a hot girl, I wouldn't be talking to you". He regrets not saying that when he had the chance as it would have been hilarious. His pocket begins to glow and suddenly, Steven is back inside the Big Donut when Lars made his comment before Steven originally left. Not knowing what happened, Steven was confused for a second before realizing what happened and remembering the comeback he wished he had said to Lars, so he shouts it in Lars' face and high fives Sadie. Lars calls him a joke and Steven storms out again. He comes up with another comeback and is again transported through time to say his comeback: "It must be tougher for you, Lars. At least people actually like jokes!". Sadie jokingly says that Steven is on fire.
Back at their home, Garnet is saying that she has a bad feeling as Steven walks in. Steven tells them what happened and takes out the Hourglass that took him back in time. Pearl is shocked and asks him why he has it, and turns to Amethyst and asks her why she gave it to him. Amethyst then says she was letting Steven see it because he wanted to. Pearl reveals that they had been protecting the Hourglass for one thousand years, and now that it was activated, it could only be used by Steven for its chosen purpose. Then Pearl asks what said purpose is, Steven tells them it was for comebacks and Amethyst laughs. Garnet notices an Electric Skull outside and alerts the others. Pearl explains that activating the Hourglass caused holes in the fabric of time, and the creature sensed it. Garnet asks Steven why he is such a buttface. Steven is offended by this. Pearl, Amethyst, and Garnet retrieve their weapons from their gems and begin to fight the Electric Skull. One by one they are beaten, and Steven tries to help them when they fall. They are all down, and Steven must think of a comeback to Garnet's comment. He finally does after several tries and is transported back to the moment that Garnet called him a buttface. He says the comeback and directs the Gems to get on top of the Big Donut and hide behind the sign, which is also shaped like a donut. Steven points out they need to destroy the Electric Skull's hair, so they push the sign onto the Electric Skull so that it gets stuck inside the hole of the donut-shaped sign. Having its hair destroyed, it begins to get struck by lightning and eventually dies. Steven wishes he could have told them this morning that "this clown is gonna save your lives", and the Hourglass takes him back in time to the morning. He tries to stop it but fails. He smashes it on the ground, preventing the majority of the previous events to occur. He then ends the pilot episode saying, "This clown is going to save your lives".
- Steven Universe (debut)
- Amethyst (debut)
- Pearl (debut)
- Garnet (debut)
- Electric Skulls (debut)
- Lars Barriga (debut)
- Sadie Miller (debut)
- Earth (debut)
- The episode was originally going to be named "The Electric Skull".
- The song that Steven sang was re-used in the extended theme.
- A shortened version of the Pilot was shown on Cartoon Network's official Facebook page on July 20, 2013.
- This was included on the Gem Glow DVD as a special feature, albeit modified with a still backdrop end credits with the Pilot's music and the Cartoon Network Studios logo containing a sound byte from the Ending Theme.
- The Hourglass used in the pilot would later be used as the smallest hourglass in "Steven and the Stevens"
- The red and blue crystals in Garnet's part of the intro are likely a reference to Ruby and Sapphire.
- Pearl, Amethyst, and Garnet's ears were visible in the pilot, unlike how they are now.
- Note that Steven's eyes slightly resemble the redesigned Steven's eyes in the first episode of the first season.
- One of the most notable changes are the designs in most of the characters: The art is more detailed, which has been modified so the actual series could be simpler to animate.
- Lars has black hair instead of reddish-orange hair.
- Steven has less "poofy" hair and pink "sunburned" skin.
- Garnet has straight hair instead of her trademark cubic afro, smaller hips, and has a different outfit design.
- Amethyst has a yellow star barrette in her hair, nails painted dark purple and different outfit design.
- Pearl has changed the most from her pilot design to her current design, having blue skin, visible ears with star earrings, differently styled hair in a darker shade of orange, and different outfit design.
- Sadie is largely the same. However, she is somewhat taller, and she has noticeably rounder hips compared to her more square-shaped current design.
- The Timing Director for the Pilot was Genndy Tartakovsky, who created and directed episodes of Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack, and Sym-Bionic Titan.
While the episode is not canon and is not part of the official continuity, elements of it were reused in later episodes:
- The brand of "Chips" Steven ate reappear in "Cat Fingers", where Amethyst is seen eating them.
- The Hourglass reappears in "Steven and the Stevens".
- Pearl's form is referenced for a split second in "Steven the Sword Fighter" when she regenerated and "Steven Universe: The Movie" during Steg's guitar solo in "Independent Together".
- The three-dollar bill reappears in the main series.
- Steven's penultimate comeback "What's your excuse?" is used again by him at White Diamond in "Change Your Mind".
- Garnet rips a piece of hair off the Electric Skull, but when the scene changes, you can see that the hair that was removed is still there.
- When Steven says "Just give me three donuts", Lars puts three chocolate donuts in the bag, but when Steven drops the bag in the next scene, the donuts are all different flavors.
- Throughout the pilot, Pearl's dangling earring is located on her right ear, and the stud earring is on her left. However, when summoning her weapon, the dangling earring is on the left ear, and the stud is on the right ear.
View the episode's transcript here.
- Steven Universe: Art & Origins, p. 238, Chris McDonnell, 2017