In a New York Comic Con panel centered on the upcoming Steven Universe art book, Steven Universe: End of an Era, creator Rebecca Sugar talked about how the epilogue series allowed her to tie up some loose ends of the show, explore plot elements that the team drew up early on and never got to use, and really dive into who Steven was as a character.
For instance, Steven’s larger pink form started as concept art drawn back in 2013. The idea of a “perfect” Steven — a more powerful Steven — floated around that time, too. The concept was retooled for the final episodes of Steven Universe, where Steven realizes that his more powerful self isn’t necessarily his better self. The original art, however, turned into a visual manifestation of Steven’s toxic stress and pressure as seen in the final episodes of Steven Universe Future.
Writer Kat Morris mentioned that finishing off the once-villainous Jasper’s story, as well as dealing with the other Rose Quartzes, were plot elements that the team wanted to include in the show’s final episodes, but couldn’t really fit in. Future allowed them to give those stories conclusions.
The big thing Sugar wanted to do with Steven Universe Future was explore the toll that heroic exploits had taken on Steven and dive into Steven’s selflessness as a character flaw. The team wasn’t able to do this within the original series, but by the time it came to Future, they’d already decided to make Steven older, which mean they were exploring a different version of the character. The time jump ended up dictating a lot of the story — an older Steven whose grown up without acknowledging the stress and trauma of his life.
“If you go through a fight and you win [...] You still get hurt,” Sugar said in the panel. “I was thinking about the whole shonen genre and all the child heroes. Even if they win, there should be some chance to unpack the fact that you’re a child that’s been put through deadly situations.”
One storyline that the crew wanted to fit into Future but couldn’t? An episode focusing on the Off-Color gem Rhodonite.
In the theoretical episode, Peridot would have created a device to let gems know how many times they’d been Rejuvenated (essentially rebooted to base forms). Most Gems ended up never being Rejuvenated, while some went through the process once or twice before. But Rhodonite — a fusion of a Pearl and a Ruby — would’ve been revealed to be Rejuvenated 17 times.
“We delved into her past and tried to help her reclaim her memories,” explained Sugar. “It became this anthology ... this love story that keeps happening. Every time the Pearl and the Ruby that make up Rhodonite found each other and fell in love, they were then Rejuvenated so they wouldn’t remember. But every time they would keep finding each other again.”
Unfortunately, the story was just too massive to contain in an 11-minute episode, though some concept art of it is available in the upcoming book.