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Disproved Theory
Recently acquired data disproves this theory, Lion was a Crystal Gem. We appreciate the attempt.
Lion was a Crystal Gem
[[Lion|250px]]
Theory Information
Title Lion was a Crystal Gem
Author SpinDizzy1
Illustrator SpinDizzy1
Date of Publication November 9, 2015
Publication Order
Previous The Ancient Sky Arena Statue Mystery
Next Stevonnie Will Be Forced to Duel Yellow Diamond

Introduction

This theory is about Lion being a Gem, a former member of Rose Quartz's army and a close confidant of Rose Quartz prior to being corrupted.

Evidence

Lion's Non-Aggression

Not all corrupted Gems are naturally aggressive.  Centipeetle was tamed by Steven ("Monster Buddies"). The Heaven and Earth Beetles are proof that corrupted Gems can lead peaceful existences without interference of humans or Gems ("Giant Woman").

Amethyst kidergarten

Amethyst's Gem is almost always partially concealed by her clothing.

Gem Location

If a Gem shape shifts or reforms, regardless of the form the Gem takes, the location and shape of their gem remains the same, even if they are impersonating another Gem whose gem placement is different (Amethyst - "Cat Fingers"). The size of the gem however may change (Amethyst - "Cat Fingers").  Gems are able to conceal their gems; Amethyst partially conceals her own gem almost all of the time due to her clothing.

Lion Pocket Dimension Location

Steven Accessing Lion's Pocket Dimension

There is an area within Lion's mane around his chest that acts like a pocket dimension like Pearl's gem and can be used to store items (as seen in "Rose's Scabbard"). Lion's mane conveniently conceals his chest and any gem that may lie beneath it.

Pyramid mural analysis

Examples of Gems whose gems are located on their chests.

We have already seen several examples of gems who have gems on their chests,  including Amethyst and Yellow Diamond. White Diamond and Blue Diamond have also been portrayed in gem art as having identical shaped gems placed where Yellow Diamond has hers (Pyramid Temple - "Serious Steven").

Lion's Odd Coloring

A pure Gem also retains their color when they shape shift, (Amethyst - "Cat Fingers") even as a fusion (Garnet - "Keep Beach City Weird", "Secret Team"), however Steven (half gem/half human) has shown he can change color when he shape shifts ("Cat Fingers"). Even damaged and corrupted Gems are limited by this (Centipeetle - "Monster Buddies", Amethyst - "Reformed"). This would explain Lion's odd coloring which does not resemble lions native to Earth.

(Note: If Lion is a Gem then he would have the same limitations of other Gems, therefore his gem will be pink in color. This rules out that Lion was a Rose Quartz Gem, even though he is an almost identical color,  we have seen his stomach in "Rose's Scabbard" and there are no gems placed there.)

Lion's Appearance

Just like Lion, some of the corrupted Gems have taken on the form of Earth's creatures;  Heaven and Earth Beetles ("Giant Woman"), Watermelon Tourmaline/Pufferfish ("Beach Party").

Lion's Magic Ability

Like the Gems, Lion is a magic user. He can walk on water (like Lapis Lazuli, Opal and Pearl) and blast stuff. Unlike the current Crystal Gems, Lion has the ability to portal, something that no other Gem yet has been seen to be able to do.  (Note:  This skill may have a limited range hence the general Gem populace's reliance for transportation such as space ships and warp pads or it is an extremely rare and not very well known skill for a Gem to have, just like Lapis Lazuli's water manipulation.)

Lion's Presence During The Gem Wars

Lion was present during the battle at Strawberry Battlefield, the battle in which Rose Quartz lost her scabbard.

Why don't you look for one that's more... you?

—Pearl, Rose's Scabbard

Okay! Lion, come help me look.

—Steven, Rose's Scabbard

When the Gems were searching the Strawberry Battlefield for weapons during "Rose's Scabbard", it was after  Steven asked Lion to help him look for something that finally led to Lion revealing the location of Rose Quartz's  scabbard that was lost during the battle at the Battlefield over 5000 years ago (which would make it one of the final battles of the last Gem War). This is information that only a witness who firstly knew it was Rose's scabbard and it's connection with Steven, but also saw Rose Quartz drop the scabbard could known because Rose herself could not relocate the scabbard.

But we won! Your mother led us to glorious victory! The odds were against us, and our hearts were uncertain *puts scabbard on her chest*. But we chose to fight alongside Rose, and here we made our stand against our Gem Homeworld!

—Pearl, Rose's Scabbard
The witness had to have been in close proximity to Rose Quartz during the battle and also had to have been someone with an exceedingly good memory like Pearl. (Despite being at Rose Quartz's side during battles, Pearl's reason for not knowing where the scabbard was, was most likely because she had been "poofed" at the time it was dropped, her recklessness was well-known. )

Back during the war, Pearl took pride in risking her destruction for your mother. She put Rose Quartz over everything; over logic, over consequence, over her own life.

—Garnet, Sworn to the Sword
Adding the fact that Pearl did not know Rose had a Lion, it can be deduced that the Gem that became Lion witnessed Rose Quartz fighting in that battle, but was in a different form at the time.

Lion's Former Allegiance

If Lion was a corrupted Gem, he was not a Homeworld Gem. 

In the end, your mother could only save a handful of her closest friends.

—Greg, The Return
This is an offshoot of the Corrupted Gems were Rose Army Theory. Almost the entire Crystal Gem Army was exposed to something that caused them to become corrupted, some Homeworld Gems left in Earth may have as well. Rose Quartz was able to save/shield herself as well as Pearl and Garnet from a catastrophic event that wiped out almost the entire Crystal Gem Army on Earth. As a corrupted gem, Lion would have been one of the casualties.

It is not likely though that Lion was a straggler left behind by the Homeworld. The fact that Lion is aware of many of Rose's secrets that Pearl is, and entrusted with many that Pearl doesn't know clearly indicates that the Gem formerly known as Lion was extremely close to Rose - perhaps even closer than Pearl was. Lion knew roughly where Pearl ran away to, the area where Rose Quartz had first announced her intention to stand against the Homeworld which would be a place sacred to them both ("Rose's Scabbard"). Pearl never mentioned anyone else being present when she recreated the scene where Rose made her announcement to her; either Pearl told "Lion Gem" or  Rose did. Pearl kept Rose's armory secret from the rest of the Crystal Gems, yet Lion knew its exact location and purpose.

Lion's Close Bond With Rose Quartz

Whenever Steven expresses a wish to know more about his mother, Lion makes it happen.

I wonder what kind of lunch my mom would've made me. Maybe actual space cookies! ...I just wish I knew a little more about her.

—Steven, Lion 3: Straight to Video

It was these words the triggered Lion to reveal to Steven the pocket dimension within his mane and the items stored within it by Rose Quartz. Lion's demeanor is not of a well-trained beast, he frequently ignores Steven's requests ("Rose's Scabbard"). But it shows that Lion does understand what Steven is saying and that Lion knew Rose Quartz personally. Lion is at least aware that the objects stored within his mane were items that Rose Quartz intended to leave for her son so he could get to know her, rather than bestowing the task to the remaining Crystal Gems or Greg whose views of Rose are biased. And as mentioned before, Lion retrieved Rose's scabbard for her son as well as took him to her secret armory.

Conclusion

Lion exhibits many of the characteristics regular Gems have (pocket dimensions, ability to use magic, ability to walk on water) and is non-aggressive like some Corrupted Gems. Despite Lion's limitations with intelligence, he appears to know Rose Quartz personally, has exhibited excellent recall (like Pearl) and knows of some secrets that were not made known to the Crystal Gems. The fact that Lion also was an eye witness at the Battle of Strawberry Battlefield, one of the final battles of the Gem Wars shows that his lifespan is akin to that of a Gem. Lion was not just a Gem prior to being corrupted, he was a Crystal Gem.  

Theory Update

In the episode "It Could've Been Great" Lion is shown to crash into one of the walls when he enters the Diamonds' Moon Base. Only one character was affected by the Moon's lack of gravity, and that was Steven Universe. Peridot, the Crystal Gems and Lion are all shown not to have been affected by the weaker gravity of the Moon. Peridot explains the reason why for Gems:  

We're Gems, we're a space-faring race designed to conquer other worlds. Our physical forms adjust automatically to the gravity of every planetoid.

—Peridot, It Could've Been Great
Just like a Gem, Lion's form has also automatically adjusted to the lack of gravity, the most likely reason for this is that Lion is a Gem of some sort too.  

Disproved Theory

In "Off Colors", Lars is resurrected by Steven, turning him pink and giving him a pocket dimension that connects to Lion's, indicating that Lion was a normal lion that was resurrected by Rose Quartz.

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