So, you've binged all of Steven Universe, Steven Universe the Movie, and even Steven Universe Future. You've basked in the glory that is queer content created by queer storytellers and artists, and you just can't imagine going back. You may be asking yourself, "What next?" After all, Steven Universe was truly groundbreaking for American animation. Creator Rebecca Sugar and their crew fought hard for each step, from showing Sapphire kissing Ruby's cheek, to the nonbinary and intersex Stevonnie, to Pearl's very much romantic love for Rose Quartz, to the wedding. Each hard earned victory, though only moments on screen, represents so much work behind the scenes from creators who would not compromise their vision in a world that still rallies against LGBT+ people existing in the public eye.
However, because of the work Rebecca Sugar and her crew did, so many other creators have been able to showcase LGBT+ characters and queer stories. Here at iMore, we've collected some of our favorites, from the subtle inclusion, to the series finales, to the entire shows built around queer characters and our stories.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
No list of queer shows would be complete without She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. While many of the shows on this list only feature queer characters in the background, the remake of She-Ra is truly an explosion of representation in much the same way Steven Universe was. The protagonist, Adora aka She-Ra openly crushes on other women. A pair of Princesses, Spinnerella and Netossa aren't just together, but actually married. One of Adora's best friends has two dads. One of the antagonists, Double Trouble is non-binary, and no one questions them or their pronouns. Even the somewhat out of touch Queen Angella doesn't trip up over this, still respecting their pronouns even as she held Double Trouble prisoner. In the background, we see more queer love. Whether it's Huntara flirting with another woman or Kyle's secret crush on Rogelio that Scorpia accidentally let slip, this world has no stigma against being queer.
And LGBT+ representation isn't all. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is an explosion of color, featuring black, brown, and Asian coded characters. You can find all body types in the cast, and each is showcased beautifully. Whereas She-Ra of the 80's was made for the sole purpose of selling white, cookie-cutter dolls, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power doesn't just respect the fact that no two bodies are the same, but outright celebrates this. On top of all this diversity, the story is incredible, and expertly woven with important messages you rarely find in children's programming.
Adventure Time, c'mon grab your friends... Although Adventure Time got its start well before Steven Universe (in fact, it's where Rebecca Sugar got her start!) the show only officially ended two years ago, and still has new content coming out in the form of comics and HBO Max (opens in new tab) specials. On top of that, with ten seasons, nearly 300 episodes, and a dozen volumes of comics already out, there is a ton of content to binge.
However, while this show is queer friendly, it takes a while before the queer characters are really highlighted in that way. BMO, for example, is most definitely nonbinary, and shifts between male and female pronouns. But BMO is also a living video game - really more of a robot than a person. The framework for Princess Bubblegum and Marceline history is there, but the only romantic relationships they are seen in prior to the final season are with men. Still, one of the four HBO Max specials is focused specifically on Marceline and Princess Bubblegum, while another is focused on BMO, so there is definitely more queer content coming.
OK K.O.! Let's be Heroes!
It should come as no surprise to see OK K.O.! Let's be Heroes! on this list. After all the creator of this Cartoon Network original, Ian Jones-Quartey is married to Steven Universe's creator Rebecca Sugar. The pair worked closely together to develop Ruby and Sapphire as representation for their own love story. Jones-Quartey only left production of Steven Universe to create his own show. OK K.O. focuses on a young boy, K.O., his two best friends Enid and Rad, who work in a hero supply shop in the retro futuristic setting.
Featuring a cast of colorful characters, both Enid and Rad are queer. Enid is bisexual and even ends up with a girlfriend during the course of the show, while Rad is genderfluid. There are a few queer couples in the supporting cast as well, including Nick Army and Joff, a couple who get married after living together for the course of the series. Unfortunately, OK K.O.! was canceled after just three seasons, but that's still over a hundred episodes to catch up on.
Star vs. the Forces of Evil
A Disney Channel Original series, Star vs. the Forces of Evil follows a pair of teens: one a princess from a magical world and the other a boy from earth. Although this show ended in 2019 after four seasons, it's definitely worth picking up. Not only is it an awesome story that explores some of the same themes as Steven Universe, but it's also queer friendly. The titular Star is bisexual, openly showing her crushes on both male and female characters and even having the bi pride flag in her eyes while doing so.
Meanwhile, her best friend Marco throws all the gender scripts and rules out the window, happily donning a princess dress when necessary. Marco's long standing crush, Jackie is revealed to be bisexual as well, dating another girl after she and Marco break up. On top of the main characters and supporting cast, even the crowds feature gay couples. Star vs. the Forces of Evil only had four short seasons and a handful of comics, but at least that means you won't have to wait for new content.
Craig of the Creek
Another Cartoon Network original, Craig of the Creek is helmed by Matt Burnet and Ben Levin, both of whom worked on Steven Universe before setting off to create their own show. Craig of the Creek tells the stories of three kids, Craig, Kelsey, and J.P., and their adventures at the creek in the woods behind their homes. Although the protagonists of this show are (mostly) too young to be worried about romance, the supporting cast includes two gay couples and a nonbinary kid voiced by one of the nonbinary artists and writers of the show.
Craig of the Creek is definitely more lighthearted than Steven Universe, but still has broad appeal. It's great for kids, while also being enjoyable for adults, especially those of my generation who remember having the same sort of imaginative adventures in our very own creeks.
Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts
In a post apocalyptic world where most humans live underground, hiding from mutated "wonderbeasts" also know as Mutes, Kipo tells the story of a teenage girl who finds herself separated from her community. She meets two other humans on her journey home, a girl called Wolf and Benson, a boy whose best friend is a Mute. Not long into their journey, Kipo finds herself crushing hard on Benson. She confesses, only for him to turn her down with a simple: "You should know... I'm gay." They hug, Kipo expresses how grateful she is to have him as a friend, and no drama or fuss is made of it.
While the only other time Benson's orientation comes up is a quick moment of him crushing on one of the other boys from Kipo's community, it was really refreshing to have a character coming out not be a huge, dramatic thing. Plus, the second season drops on June 12, 2020!
Summer Camp Island
Created by Julia Pott, another writer who got her start on Adventure Time, Summer Camp Island combines the magic of childhood with the very fantastical magic of witches, monsters, and aliens. While this Cartoon Network show isn't nearly as queer as Steven Universe or She-Ra, the way that queer characters and relationships are woven into the story is seamless. When protagonists Oscar and Hedgehog find out that their alien friend Puddle is in love with his king, there is no questioning that they're both male characters. They're treated like any other characters in love would be. Likewise, when Ghost's fathers are revealed, they're accepted as any other parents.
Having gay characters who can simply exist in the same way straight characters do is really refreshing, and The Hollow does just that. The Hollow is a Netflix Original series that follows a trio of teens who wake up with no memories in a strange world where they must complete puzzles and survive to figure out who they are and why they're trapped there. The first season was pretty great, but it isn't until the second season that we find out one of the trio is gay. The way in which this character's coming out is handled is very similar to Benson from Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts. Adam, very matter of factly, states he is gay. It isn't a source of drama, nor does it ever become the plot.
If you're not watching the reboot of Disney's DuckTales, you absolutely should be! Not only is it a fun show for kids of all ages, but for those of us old enough to appreciate it, the creators' love for the original DuckTales, as well as other Disney cartoons of the 80's and 90's couldn't be clearer. The new DuckTales has much more diversity than the original with characters coded as POC, and a handful of LGBT+ characters.
The series has introduced new characters, Indy and Ty Sabrewing, the fathers of Violet and later Lena, and it's expanded upon one of the original show's characters, Launchpad. While the main story of DuckTales is very much focused on the adventures of Huey, Dewey, and Louie, as well as their extended family, Launchpad is often seen reconnecting with his past romantic partners to have adventures of his own in the background. He's even been known to reminisce about his old flames which include a nonbinary Wereduck, a clone of himself, and even a talking cloud of energy.
A Rooster Teeth original series, RWBY is set in a world where creatures of darkness known as Grimm threaten the safety of the human populace on a planet called Remnant. While the story focuses primarily on a team of teenage girls training to fight off these Grimm as they get pulled further and further into a centuries old war, there is no lack of representation in this cast. The slow burn that is Blake and Yang still hasn't paid off in more than a few moments where even other characters have speculated that there may be something more there, but the supporting cast hasn't held back near so much. There have been several confirmed LGBT+ characters, including Jaune's sister and sister-in-law, who make the cutest family along with their toddler, Adrian!
Danger and Eggs
Danger and Eggs is an Amazon Prime Original animated series about a young girl named D.D. and her best friend, an anthropomorphic egg named Phillip. A cute show with a target demo of 7+, you won't find romantic subplots in Danger and Eggs, but you will find plenty of representation. This show has multiple pairs of gay dads, a lesbian folk duo, and even a trans girl voiced by Jazz Jennings. Jazz's character Zadie explains chosen family, and what it means to be accepted by others (especially when your biological family doesn't accept you) to the protagonists.
The Dragon Prince
A show that's been compared to Avatar the Last Airbender for its epic world building and themes, The Dragon Prince features a diverse cast including queer characters. With a pair of lesbian queens, a gay assassin and his elf husband, and even a nonbinary sign language intepreter, the world of the Dragon Prince features more LGBT+ representation than either Avatar series did while on television. There are three seasons to this show already available on Netflix, and rumors of a fourth season coming sometime this year.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Another reboot of an 80's classic, Friendship is Magic doesn't feature a ton of romantic subplots, but of those featured, there . Throughout the series, Lyra Heartstrings and Sweetie Drops, also known as Bon Bon, are shown growing closer, moving in together, and even proposing. While the pair aren't part of the "Mane Six", they both were in the show from season one, had episodes with more prominent roles. Not long after their on screen proposal, they were featured in a news article that had their wedding announcement. Although Friendship is Magic has ended, with well over 200 episodes, a spin off series, and three movies, there is plenty of content to work through before the next spin off series premieres sometime this year.
The Legend of Korra
Sequel series to Nickelodeon's hit Avatar the Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra sought to appeal to both the adults who loved Avatar and a new audience. Both Avatar the Last Airbender and Legend of Korra feature extremely diverse characters, with virtually every character coded as POC. While the show itself only features the building blocks of an LGBT+ relationship with a very brief pay off in the final scene, the story is continued in a series of comics published by Dark Horse. While I personally am not a huge fan of shows taking the very last moments to reveal LGBT+ characters or relationships - after all, it's easy to throw in a final scene when you can no longer be canceled - the comics explore the relationship between the protagonist and her girlfriend, as well as expanding upon other queer characters' identities.
While some shows have really led the way for LGBT+ representation, other shows have taken considerably smaller steps. Plenty of characters have been coded gay, and plenty more confirmed gay by creators outside of their respective shows. Take Gravity Falls' Sheriff Blubs and Deputy Durland. The pair seemed awfully close throughout the show's two seasons, but were only officially confirmed gay months after the series ended. On the other hand, some shows get cancelled before they get the chance to really explore their queer characters, like Twelve Forever, which featured a gay protagonist coming to terms with her orientation.
Then again, if you've watched everything on our list, don't want to settle for hints of representation, and just cannot wait for new content, you could always pick up anime. While western animation has been incredibly slow to welcome LGBT+ representation, queer characters have been openly celebrated in Japanese produced anime and manga as early as the 60's. The list of anime featuring LGBT+ characters would easily dwarf this one. Whatever you choose, you can be sure to find more and more LGBT+ representation, thanks in part to Steven Universe.
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