Thoughts on Star

Bobby Schroeder
30 min readAug 1, 2021

I have a confession: I took entirely too long to watch Star vs. the Forces of Evil, and I put it off for petty reasons. For one, I thought the show gave off what I’d call “Parry Gripp energy.” Between things like Star’s signature move being a “narwhal blast” and, well, the multiple scenes where they literally play “Space Unicorn,” the show gave off this overly-wacky, perhaps semi-ironic lolrandom vibe. Fun for the kids in the target audience, but not necessarily for me.

It turns out I was dead wrong, and I was missing out! I mean, that Parry Gripp vibe is still kind of there, sure. But within minutes I was totally won over by the show’s rebellious attitude, wildly expressive animation, snappy humor, and instantly lovable characters. It has elements seen in other cartoons about young heroes balancing school life with magical adventures, but it executes those elements in a way that gives the series an identity all its own.

But the thing is, the first and last episodes of Star Vs. might as well be completely different shows. And not in a good way. I don’t hate the show it became — no series is flawless, and when it’s good, Star Vs. is phenomenal. But its failures are interesting. Unfortunately, a lot of the criticism from fans focuses too much on oversimplified complaints like “Toffee didn’t come back” or “the monster arm never came up again” or “the ship I like didn’t become canon.” So instead of skimming the surface, let’s dip down.

Writer’s note: I worry sometimes that being posted to Medium gives posts like this an air of legitimacy to folks who don’t know that Medium is literally just a blogging platform. Medium articles don’t have to be vetted by anyone, and I am not writing this professionally. I also don’t want this to get shared around as some kind of epic dunk on the show or its creators. I mostly liked the show! The people who made it should be proud! I am just one random woman sharing lukewarm takes on a children’s cartoon, and I’m only doing it here rather than on Tumblr because it’s easier on the eyes.

Here’s an unrelated Hotel Mario gif to further undermine this post’s legitimacy.

Now, the first two seasons are mostly episodic, so the easiest way to talk about what I love there is to talk about the characters.


Star, as she’s introduced in season 1, is not just a manic pixie dream girl. She is the manic pixie dream girl. And she rules. She could have easily come off as annoying, but between the writing, animation, and Eden Sher’s performance, I loved her instantly.

Star is a loving embodiment of the hyperactive weird girl in school, except she is also literally a magic princess from another dimension. In this type of cartoon, you would probably expect this to be a secret, right? Star probably lives a double life and has to balance school with her magic adventures, and both comedy and drama spring up from her trying to keep them separate. Right? Nope! The show plays fast and loose with its fantasy elements, with Star hiding nothing from the people she meets on Earth, and that’s what makes the first two seasons so fun. Everyone knows Star’s whole deal from the start. She carries her wand with her everywhere she goes and fires off spells on a whim. In an early episode she turns her teacher into a troll, and she just… stays that way for the rest of the series? In one episode Star gets bored on a field trip and decides to take her whole class to another dimension where they all nearly die.

With so much chaos, you might think that Star might get in trouble with the Diaz parents, who she’s staying with as a foreign exchange student. Right? Wrong again! Marco’s parents love Star and her antics. They think it’s great when she transforms their living room with magic. They love the puppies she made that shoot lasers out of their eyes. (The unexpected dynamics with the parents extend to Star’s parents too, which I also liked a lot. While they seem like stern disciplinarians at first, King River actually has the boisterous personality of your typical fantasy dwarf, and he only gets more feral as the show progresses. Because of his informality, he has a very casual dynamic with Marco, to the point that they’re on a first name basis.)

Another thing I love about Star in these early seasons is that she doesn’t have to be a role model. It was apparently a conscious decision to not really portray Star as a superhero, and I love that. It fits the oddball tone of the show perfectly. In her time on Earth, Star doesn’t go out of her way to save people, and she only really fights villains when they come after her. Half the time she’s cleaning up her own messes. In school, she’s kind of a delinquent. She’s allowed to be weird and flawed and go on all these adventures with Marco without there always needing to be a tidy lesson for kids at the end of the episode. It doesn’t feel like they had an executive breathing down their necks going “what if Star is a bad influence,” and that makes her feel so refreshing.


I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about Marco. Next to all the other characters, Marco is just kind of… a guy in a hoodie? He seemed boring. But I ended up liking him a lot. He’s the straight man to Star’s antics, and he feels integral to the show’s formula, to the point that the stretches where he isn’t interacting with Star much felt like some of the weakest parts of the show to me.

Marco isn’t just the straight man, though. He has his own eccentricities. He’ll gladly rush into battle alongside Star, and they explain his fighting skills by saying that… he’s a green belt in karate. Sure! It fits the tone of these early seasons. (Series creator Daron Nefcy has also cited Scott Pilgrim as one source of inspiration for the show’s style, and you can definitely see that with Marco’s whole deal as a dork who can inexplicably do crazy martial arts moves.) He could have been a total wet blanket, but nah. Marco’s fun.

Of course, for anyone who was on Tumblr in this show’s heyday, there’s an elephant in the room. And as a trans woman I know everyone is expecting me to address…

The trans Marco headcanons.

Now, here’s the thing. I get it. I absolutely do.

There are so many little moments that you can point to as giving off trans vibes. Even aside from the princess disguise that he’s consistently totally casual about, there’s little stuff like comments about him being uncomfortable with his body, the way he covers his chest with a towel after showering, or all the stuff about being your true self. Believe me when I say I have come up with headcanons for much, much less, including reasons like “I like this character.” So I don’t begrudge anyone who supported this reading back during the show’s run, or who speculated about it on Tumblr, or who said they would have been happy if Marco was a trans girl. I would have been ecstatic myself!

It was just so hard to watch people getting into all these heated arguments on Tumblr about Marco’s gender and how revolutionary it makes the show and analyzing every little comment from the crew in the hopes that it would happen, when... it’s Disney. I don’t wanna rub salt in the wound — again, it would’ve ruled if they did this, and folks were eager for it because there’s so little good trans representation out there. But it was so obvious that Disney would never approve of it, no matter what the crew wanted. And the crew meant for these little moments to be jokes. Not necessarily jokes at Marco’s expense, but jokes nonetheless. (I mean, his princess alias is literally “Princess Turdina.”) It’s not the first time a cartoon for girls has had jokes about the male lead being kind of girly by association.

Constant fandom discourse was, in fact, the other big reason I put off watching Star Vs. for so long. All I ever saw was fans bickering about stuff like this. But, again, I’m glad that I finally got around to watching it now.

There’s much more to say involving both Star and Marco, but for now let’s skim over some other characters.


Ludo is ostensibly the main antagonist for the first two seasons of the show. He’s fun as far as your typical megalomaniacal villains with delusions of grandeur go, and Alan Tudyk puts in a great performance here. However, the show basically forgets Ludo exists in the last season, so there really isn’t much to say about him.


Speaking of villains, sorry to disappoint, but I have little to say about Toffee. He’s lizard Magneto. He’s cool. He isn’t actually in the show much. I don’t really care that he stayed dead because he still gets the last laugh. Moving on.

Pony Head

I’d never really seen people talk about Pony Head, so I had no idea what she was actually like. I just knew she was a wacky magic flying unicorn head.

It turns out Pony Head is one of my favorite characters.

I expected her to kind of be like, I don’t know… a generic My Little Pony parody, maybe? Sickeningly cutesy in an ironic way? Instead she’s Jenny Slate being a horrible toxic party girl, and that performance makes her one of the funniest characters in the show. A lot of fans seem to hate her because she’s narcissistic, possessive, mean, and, well, crazy, but I just love her for that. She’s horrible and it’s funny that she’s horrible.

I think she only starts to feel out of place to some people because she never grows or learns her lesson, even as the show gets more serious and other characters like Star become more heroic and responsible. But like, to me, that’s just Pony Head keeping the original madcap spirit of the show alive.

The crew also clearly had a lot of fun drawing her and I appreciate that. This is truly peak character design:


Ignoring the romantic drama for now, I ended up liking Tom, Star’s on-again-off-again half-demon boyfriend. In the early seasons I thought it was really funny that they kept playing up Tom as this bad boy toxic ex of Star’s when they must have broken up when they were like… 13? So I’m glad he got to have an arc where he worked through his teenage anger issues.


Since the first two seasons have Star and Marco going to school, they need a lot of classmates. Most of them are stock teens — the popular girl, the nerds, the cool girl Marco has a crush on, etc. (One of Marco’s dorky friends, Alfonzo, is very clearly voiced by Homestar Runner co-creator Matt Chapman. I like him because of this.) A lot of them start to disappear in season 2 because the writers just had nothing to do with them.

The odd one out is Janna, who goes from a minor extra to a main character. She loves dark magic, and there are tons of increasingly absurd jokes about her invading Marco’s privacy off-screen, which escalate from her stealing his stuff to her apparently hypnotizing him so she can make him fall asleep on command. When the show shifts its focus from Earth to Mewni, Janna inexplicably starts showing up there too. In a show full of oddball characters, it makes sense that Janna would be the one classmate who stuck around.


Kelly’s okay. She ends up being a surprisingly prominent character, but I also… don’t really get what her role is supposed to be? What’s her deal? It feels like she ends up mostly existing to be another point on the shipping web in seasons 3 and 4. I dunno. She’s fine. Kelly’s fine.


I’m going to single out Oskar as another one of Star’s classmates who I liked. He’s fun as the weird kid with inexplicable vampire fangs who makes indie music and lives in his car, and Jon Heder is great in the role. I wish we saw more of him, but I’m glad they at least remembered he existed in the last few episodes on Earth.

More characters will come up organically as we talk about the story. Speaking of which…

Things start to change

The season 1 finale, where Star has her first dramatic confrontation with Toffee, is the first time the show really gets serious. This leads to multiple shifts in style, including a complete overhaul of the animation style. This made me a little sad at first.

The first few episodes were animated by Mercury Filmworks, known for their work from Wander Over Yonder and the recent Mickey Mouse shorts, among many other shows. Despite effectively being a Flash cartoon they managed to capture this hand drawn energy that almost makes it look like a cool indie graphic novel come to life. It’s perfect for this show. Characters are all bouncy and fun, snapping between all sorts of dynamic poses to suit the comedy and the action as needed. In a lot of shows like this the fight scenes can feel more like an obligation than a selling point, but it’s just so fun to watch Star and Marco do their thing because of the way they move. That fight scene in the convenience store parking lot at the end of the first episode is what had me totally hooked on the show.

After a transitional period in late season 1, season 2 gives the show a more typical hand drawn style. And it still looks good for sure! But it looks like your typical 2010s cartoon, and the lack of that dynamic motion changes the vibe of the show.

Still, once I got used to it, the second season was also a lot of fun. The show was clearly starting to become more serious with an overarching serialized story, big mysteries, and more focus on romance (again, we’ll get to that), but this was all balanced out with plenty of one-off adventures like those seen in the first season.

Nitpicks with seasons 1 and 2

It’s easy to oversimplify things say that the first two seasons were perfect and they ruined it later on, so in fairness here are some things I liked less in the first half of the show.

One thing that struck me is that the show doesn’t tend to treat its fat characters all that great. Most of the heroes are super thin, while the minor fat characters like Miss Skullnick and Marco’s friend Ferguson are generally supposed to be gross and obnoxious, with ill-fitting clothes and exaggerated pudge always spilling out over their waistlines. It’s not the end of the world I guess (lots of cartoons have this problem), but it’s not great either.

There’s also Marco’s crush on Jackie. Knowing that Marco was gonna end up with Star anyway didn’t help, but the fact that so much time is spent on Marco’s crush on a girl who he’s never actually spoken to, is just… so tiring. I never like these kinds of stories where a character has a crush on someone they don’t even know, and it didn’t help that Jackie only started to be fleshed out as a character after she started dating Marco, at which point they were already teasing Starco.

(Way later, towards the end of the show, Jackie comes back after a long absence and we find out she has a girlfriend. Well, okay, they don’t say it, because Disney, but it’s implied. It’s a nice little gesture, I suppose. I’m sure the writers fought for that one, and I’m sure they would’ve done more if they could. But we only really see Jackie’s implied girlfriend for one scene, and Jackie herself already felt like an underdeveloped character, so it didn’t exactly blow me away.)

Season 2 also introduces a recurring subplot where we see Marco as a rugged adult hero due to him spending nearly 20 years fighting in another dimension where time works differently. While he always changes back when he returns home, this recurring subplot is deeply weird to me because they keep having him remind everyone that he remembers everything and that he’s actually in his 30s now. I’m not gonna make any hyperbolic accusations about this being unforgivably problematic or whatever, but like… it is weird.

A very finite multiverse

I will reiterate that I don’t hate seasons 3 and 4 as a whole, but things start to feel off with season 3, when the show leaves Earth.

One of the best things about the early seasons is that you never know where Star and Marco will go next, with them bouncing between Earth, Mewni, and a seemingly endless list of other colorful worlds. Season 3 throws that out. Most of the rest of the show takes place exclusively on Star’s home planet of Mewni. The scope of the series starts to feel claustrophobic. Star and Marco rarely visit other worlds. Most of the Earth cast is rarely seen again. The intro and outro are updated to remove the Earth stuff. (The second ending theme does go hard, though.) Even characters who you would assume must be from other zany worlds, like Pony Head or Tom, are revealed to actually be from other kingdoms on Mewni. Almost every episode has to exist to serve the ongoing main plot on Mewni.

And like, I get why they would do this. Look at how people (especially adults) talk about cartoons online. Any time a new episode doesn’t advance the main plot, fans will immediately bemoan it as filler. People want the stakes to constantly be raised, the drama to get ratcheted up, the big mysteries to be unraveled. That’s what gets all the praise, not slice of life comedies or monster-of-the-week shows.

So I get the rationale. But in some ways this show ends up feeling like a cautionary tale about how not every cartoon can pull off that shift. We have a real plot now, but again, the world feels like it’s shrunk. Everything revolves around a few characters on Mewni— mainly the Butterfly family, the Magic High Commission, and Glossaryck. And it all comes back to…

Monster racism

All of the major conflicts in Star Vs. lead back to one thing: the centuries-long divide between Star’s people, the Mewmans, and the monsters.

I can’t say this wasn’t telegraphed early on. Season 1 had “Lobster Claws,” which first introduced the idea that Ludo’s monster goons could change, and “Mewnipendance Day,” which… well, made it blatantly clear that the Mewmans are violent colonizers. Season 2 takes this further, painting more of the monsters like Buff Frog as sympathetic and showing what the inequality on Mewni looks like from their perspective. But in seasons 3 and 4, this becomes the main focus.

Now I think people can sometimes be unfair in media criticism when they confuse allegory for applicability. Every story has many potential readings, and you can always find unintended parallels, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be judged as an explicit allegory for one specific thing. With this, though, there are so many direct allusions to real world racism and colonialism (including both America’s history and modern day issues) that it’s hard to read this as anything but a direct allegory. In the final story arc the villain even proclaims “this kingdom used to be great, but not anymore”, and a Mewman village has erected a wall to keep monsters out. It is not subtle.

Despite these being huge, systemic problems that no one person can fix, Star keeps coming up with ideas for special events that she thinks will bring peace between the two groups. The first time it happened, I was like, okay. This is a kids’ show. Star is 14. She’s naïve. Maybe she’ll learn a lesson here. But… she keeps doing it? She thinks a petition will fix racism. A party will fix racism. A live TV special will fix racism. An “integrated” sporting event will fix racism. When the show does finally try to be a little more nuanced in one such episode, the message is that the adults are probably too far gone, but the next generation will be better. In other words, it’s the tired argument that we just have to “wait for the old bigots to die.”

Much has already been written about the ways in which fantasy racism allegories fail to reflect real life. But for a while I thought that, for as trite as all this is, maybe Star Vs. would at least avoid the common pitfall of giving a rational historical reason for why the oppressed group is hated. And then, sure enough, the reveal: the one monster king in the history of Star’s kingdom ate a guy. The truth is more complicated than that (the guy who got ate deserved it), but the show doesn’t really get into that, leaving the Mewmans with an excuse for their bigotry. They’re still painted as being in the wrong, of course, but it’s still so disappointing for the show to go there at all.

The fact that the monsters have become sympathetic also means that the show massively cuts down on the number of fight scenes in the back half with few real villains around to fill in for Ludo’s gang. In a lot of cartoons I wouldn’t mind this, but the fights were always so fun and energetic in the first season that this is one of those rare instances where it does feel like a loss.

I did say that I didn’t entirely hate seasons 3 and 4 though. There are still some good one-off episodes in there, and within the main story there’s one new character who really shines.


It’s a good thing I like Eclipsa, because boy does this series turn into The Eclipsa Show a lot!

Eclipsa was a queen from 300 years ago who experimented with “dark magic” and ran off with a monster husband. Her reign is generally treated as the darkest period in the Butterfly family’s history, and her section in Star’s spellbook is initially locked away for being too dangerous. But as it turns out, Eclipsa has been trapped in a crystal this whole time, meaning she’s still alive. And when she’s eventually freed… she’s totally chill.

The show keeps the audience guessing about her true motives for a while, but ultimately Eclipsa doesn’t have a single evil bone in her body. She’s actually one of the kindest and most affable characters in the whole show. She just doesn’t care about society’s definitions of “good” and “evil,” and also she’s goth, and kind of a rock star to boot. (Eclipsa being both goth and a walking ray of sunshine makes her an accurate representation of a bunch of goth people I’ve known in my life.) And all this while being not a rebellious teen going through a phase, but a grown woman who’s married with a kid.

So yes, for all its flaws, I’m happy that I stuck with this show to the end, and Eclipsa is a big part of why. She’s just so much fun. Unfortunately, while I would have loved to see Eclipsa go on adventures or be a cool leader or just be herself, she has little time to do this.

Eclipsa spends much of season 3 under house arrest in the castle while Star’s mom and the Magic High Commission debate over her fate. When it’s discovered that the queen who succeeded Eclipsa wasn’t her real daughter (because her real daughter was half-monster) and that Star and Moon aren’t real descendants of the royal family, Star gives the throne back to Eclipsa.

(Even ignoring Eclipsa’s arc, so much of the back half of Star Vs. revolves around the politics of the royal family. I’ll admit I have a lower tolerance for this kind of thing than a lot of people, but it felt like such a massive step down from the goofball adventures of the first two seasons. Like, just because you said Star is a princess doesn’t mean we have to devote so many episodes to the inner workings of the monarchy, especially if it’s going to be this dry.)

Throughout season 4, Eclipsa is in charge, but she’s unable to really do anything because she has no public support. A central part of the conflict here is that Eclipsa’s monster husband, Globgor, is also trapped in a crystal like Eclipsa was. (Globgor is also a total sweetheart, might I add? Eclipsa’s lucky.) However, she can’t free him because the racist Mewmans are still afraid of him and it will hurt her already dismal approval ratings. So we get multiple episodes where Eclipsa tries some sneaky method of freeing her wrongfully imprisoned husband, only for Star to get mad and scold her for not doing things “the right way.”

Yes, Star, the girl who once filled a high school football field with death traps because she took a comment about her school’s team getting “slaughtered” too literally, is now a huge nark who cares about doing things by the book. I get that she’s got this typical arc where a young hero becomes more responsible over time, and I get that Eclipsa’s chaotic good nature is supposed to make her a foil to showcase how far Star’s come. But it’s still so disappointing to see Star lose her rebellious charm. She thinks that Eclipsa’s life needs to be structured entirely around what will or won’t piss off the bigots who already hate her. Even if she and Globgor did nothing wrong, even if it’s clear that the Magic High Commission completely fucked them and their daughter over, she still has to do everything through the proper channels so that she looks respectable. Man, fuck that! Just go free your husband!!

This whole arc comes to a head with “Cornonation,” when Globgor is freed during Eclipsa’s official coronation and all hell breaks loose. Star gets mad at Eclipsa because she thinks she did it, but it turns out a member of the Magic High Commission did it in order to frame Eclipsa and try to take the throne from her. This all backfires when the crowd at the coronation sees the gentle way Globgor treats his and Eclipsa’s baby daughter, Meteora, and they all realize that he’s just a normal dad like any other.

Yes, after multiple episodes about how Star can’t end racism with a single event… Globgor being a chill dad at the coronation was what did it. They like him and Eclipsa now! At this point I was so tired of this arc that I just accepted it. Eclipsa can just be a cool leader now, right? WRONG! Because with only a few episodes left, THIS is the point where the show finally decides to return to Earth. But it’s okay. Racism on Mewni is over!! Or IS IT??? But hold on, before we get to the final battle, it’s time for everyone’s favorite part of the show…


At first, Star had a crush on Oskar, but then she started crushing on Marco. But oh no, Marco has always had a crush on Jackie, and now they’re dating!! Star tries to rekindle her feelings for Oskar, but it’s too late! She likes Marco more! Marco finds out Star has a crush on him, and he starts to like her back! So he breaks up with Jackie so he can go be with Star on Mewni, but uh oh! During that time Star got back with her ex, Tom! But oh snap, now Star and Marco are alone together and due to extraneous circumstances they have to KISS! But Star is still dating Tom, and now it’s even more awkward! And now Marco is kind of ambiguously maybe going out with Kelly as a rebound? But not really I guess, they’re just “breakup buddies.” But oh, it turns out Star and Marco have just been cursed this whole time! They don’t actually love each other! They’re just friends. Phew! Let’s spend an entire 22-minute episode breaking the curse. Okay, great. Everything’s settled now. It’s OVER. Oh, whoops, it’s NOT over, they still like each other!!! And Tom can tell! So now Tom’s breaking up with Star, and THAT sure is awkward, but Marco’s afraid to make a move! But finally, with less than an hour left in the series, they have a moment together in the final arc to confess that they’re still in love with each other, at which point they kiss again and start dating.

Now imagine that, stretched over 77 episodes.

Like, look. I have no horse in this race when it comes to Star Vs. shipping. If they wanted to pair Star and Marco up, that’s fine. They clearly have chemistry, and it was hinted at from the first season. They’re cute together! And you know, there’s something powerful about Star, the Quirky Weird Girl, finding love without having to change anything about herself. This is also far from the worst love triangle nonsense I’ve ever seen. Everyone’s respectful the whole time, and Marco and Tom get along great instead of bickering over Star. (Which just made me think they should be poly, but, again, Disney.) And to be fair, sometimes it’s good to explore other romantic options for your lead characters just so you can prove that the endgame pairing really is The One, and that they aren’t just settling or being forced together.

But the show wastes so much time on this will they/won’t they nonsense that even after years of slow burn Starco pining it somehow STILL feels rushed in the end. They wait so long to actually resolve it that there’s no time left to explore what their relationship looks like now. When Star calls Marco her boyfriend in the finale I was like, wait, what? They’re going steady?

What kills me is that, if they wanted a source of juicy relationship drama other than love triangles? They had an alternative. “The Knight Shift” reveals that Marco doesn’t plan on staying on Mewni forever, because at some point he’ll want to have a normal life on Earth and go to college and whatnot. Now he and Star start to worry that growing up will lead them down different paths in life. If they had already been dating at this point then the question of whether or not this teenage romance will last would be a perfect source of tension! (And this is EXACTLY what they do in the finale. But by then it was too late.)

But like, this is it? Star and Marco can visit any dimension on a whim and go on whatever adventures they want, and what we’re focusing on most of the time is this merry-go-round of teen romance, a tired fantasy racism allegory, and royal family drama? It’s not just that there was a shift in tone. Tons of shows pull that off. It’s that the things they chose to focus on are boring.

Praise for seasons 3 and 4

I swear I still like this show overall, so let’s balance this out a little with some random things I liked in the last two seasons:

  • The episodes about Star’s spells. (Yes, I’ll get to them.)
  • The Pony Head episodes. Yes, even the ones where she’s at her worst! ESPECIALLY those episodes!! She’s FUNNY I love her
  • Any time they went back to Earth. That last stretch of episodes back on Earth was particularly nice and felt like a return to form in some ways
  • The episode where we finally find out how Janna got to Mewni off-screen
  • The joke with Marco’s old friends about how actually DnD is cool with a diverse audience now
  • Some folks seem to dislike the final arc of season 3 with Meteora as a villain, but I dunno. I thought it worked. It felt like they struck the right balance between drama, action, and comedy
  • The start of season 4 where Star and Marco got to go on adventures to new locations with Star’s dad. River is fun, even if the subplot of Moon losing her memory was resolved super quickly
  • Nachos the dragon-cycle is cute. I want to pet her
  • The episode where we finally see Globgor interacting with Eclipsa is ADORABLE. She’s living the dream

Okay, enough beating around the bush.

The final arc

(Quick side note: despite rumors that the ending was rushed due to a sudden cancelation mid-production, series creator Daron Nefcy said in an AMA that season 4 was always written to be the end.)

The final villain is none other than Mina Loveberry, the deranged magical warrior first introduced in season 2 who has more than a passing resemblance to Sailor Moon and the voice of Princess Carolyn. A lot of fans were apparently disappointed that the final villain was her and not Toffee, the show’s Magneto. But eh. It made sense to me. Mina is the embodiment of all the skeletons in the Butterfly family closet, being the last in a line of super soldiers made to oppress monster kind. With the show being all about that conflict in its later years, it made sense for the last threat to be a Mewman who hates monsters and wants to take the throne back from Eclipsa and Globgor, and Mina fits the bill there.

Of course, Mina isn’t alone. We soon find out that Mina has been taking orders from Star’s mother, (former) Queen Moon, who thinks that she needs to take the throne back for the good of her people.

While the show had its ups and downs, this is the exact point where the final arc starts to completely fall apart for me. Moon had her problems with Eclipsa, sure, and there have been times when she butted heads with Star. And I was also starting to worry about her during the subplot about her becoming the leader of a makeshift village of displaced Mewmans who were bitter that Eclipsa gave the monsters their land back. But she was also portrayed throughout the show as a rational individual and responsible to a fault, and she had worked with Eclipsa in the past. So to say that Moon was behind the attempts to dethrone Eclipsa, and that she’s behind Mina and her new army of monster hating super soldiers, and that she thought someone as crazy and bigoted as Mina would just… stop when commanded? That Mina wouldn’t take things too far? I mean, come on.

Things manage to get worse, though, because this isn’t really a twist where Moon ends up being the villain! After she’s like “oh no, I didn’t think Mina would go this far, I just wanted Eclipsa to surrender the throne,” she has to work with Star and co. for the rest of the arc, helping them pull off the plan that ultimately saves the day. And in the end… Star readily forgives her mother. Like it was nothing! Like Moon didn’t literally threaten a race war to take back the throne! She isn’t even really sorry, but Star says “I want to be the kind of family where Moms mess up and we figure it out.” I was in awe that after getting so deep into the politics for so long they would try to walk it back to be a simple family dispute.

What’s this big plan to stop Mina and her army though? Well, Star comes up with one last plan to end racism:

To destroy all magic.

The problem with magic

It’s easy to find tons of armchair critics online who will tell you that the most important thing for a story with magic is for the magic to have clearly defined rules. And honestly, that’s bullshit. Twin Peaks is full of surreal, unexplainable magic that works off of vague dream logic, but that’s half of the appeal. What’s really important is for the presence of magic in a story to support the intended narrative. A more interesting question than “how does the magic work” is “what does magic mean to this world,” and that’s a question that Star Vs. ends up asking with its finale.

Unfortunately, the answer they landed on seems to have pleased no one.

In defense of this decision, the idea that magic is a tool of oppression in this story doesn’t come out of nowhere. Toffee hated the Butterfly family’s use of magic against monster kind the whole time, the Magic High Commission are clearly corrupt, and when the wand was created it was given to the first Mewman settlers (who were actually lost humans from Earth who had crossed over through the Realm of Magic, as we learn later) to use in their colonization of Mewni. There are also plenty of times where the magic in the show is supposed to be dark and ominous, or just flat out a stupid thing for Star to be messing with.

This is absolutely not a consistent theme, though. The biggest counter-example is Star’s spells. Her narwhal blasts and her warnicorn stampedes have been summoning sentient creatures with free will, as it turn out, and they all live in a palace inside her wand and hang out together. Even the non-animal based spells are anthropomorphized in there and turned into sympathetic characters with their own little stories. And when Star destroys all magic, they all just… die off-screen. Fans tend to throw around “Star committed genocide” when talking about this ending, and I don’t think that’s really fair. Everyone who died was like, a magical construct, and aside from her spells we only know four characters who die. But it’s like… she’s still killing them. It’s still wild that the show doesn’t even acknowledge this.

The Magic High Commission also dies with the destruction of all magic, but they suck, so eh. Fuck ’em. I know fans love Hekapoo for being cute, but it’s still… weird to me? That Marco is buddies with her even though she’s complicit in all the horrible things done to Eclipsa and her family? They make a point to depict Hekapoo as the least bad of the group, but she was still a part of that, and she still had it out for Eclipsa. My opinion of her aside, though, it’s very bizarre that Star is so casual about sacrificing Hekapoo.

There’s one more character who dies with the destruction of magic, though, and that’s Glossaryck. I’ve mostly avoided talking about him until this point, but he’s one of the most important characters in the entire show, and also kind of the poster child for the unsatisfying direction the story went in.

Glossaryck (whose voice suddenly changes from Jeffrey Tambor to Keith David because… well, you know) is introduced in season 1 as the funny little wizard who lives in Star’s spellbook. He’s basically Clippy, except fully self-aware and even less helpful. He is but one of many fun, eccentric characters for Star and Marco to interact with in this multiverse. By the end of the series, Glossaryck has been revealed as a Dr. Manhattan-style neutral character who knows everything that’s going to happen, the creator of the Magic High Commission, and basically the embodiment of all magic in the universe. (A tie-in book apparently reveals that he was “created by the universe as a means of understanding all of the magic that flows within it.”)

Through time travel Glossaryck created the wand and gave it to the first settlers of Mewni to oppress the native monsters, and he also stoked Toffee’s hatred of magic on the monster side. Again, like Dr. Manhattan, he knows everything that’s going to happen and doesn’t really care about any of it. He just does what’s needed for the timeline. It was Star’s destiny to destroy all magic, and he ensured that this happened by… creating the centuries-long conflict that made magic a tool of oppression in the first place?

I don’t fucking know, man.

So yes, magic did create this whole conflict. But destroying magic and ending the monarchy doesn’t actually fix it at this point. Taking away Mina’s magic ends the current threat, but as she points out, the bigotry that she embodies isn’t just going to go away. That history isn’t undone. And, in fact, I can only assume that things will get worse with what happens in the last scene of the show. To ensure that Star and Marco can stay together, Mewni and Earth are merged into a single world. On the surface it’s supposed to be touching, and it kind of is, but I just can’t help but wonder about all the new conflicts that will arise from this. The show went to great lengths to show all the problems that arose from Mewmans coming to Mewni, and now we have to throw modern Earth humans into the mix too?

But even with this new fantastical fused world to explore, the universe of the show is left feeling small and sad. The magic is gone. While it was framed as a tool of oppression by the end, it was also the thing that gave the show its entire identity! Star being the rebellious princess who used magic however she wanted! On Earth, magic was what made Star different from everyone else. It was counterculture. But instead of making her an outcast, she was surrounded by people who loved and supported her eccentricities. And she used that magic to travel to different worlds and make likeminded friends! But that’s just gone now. Some characters who should theoretically be magical beings like Pony Head and Tom are allowed to live, so they’re still around, but the full extent of magic’s role in this world outside of the Butterfly family is unclear. One thing that IS explicit, though, is that the dimensional portals are all gone. Anyone from a world other than Earth or Mewni? Goodbye! They’ll never ever see Kelly again because they can’t make portals anymore. No more adventures in other dimensions ever again.

I want to like this ending so bad! I really do! On paper I think it rules that Star’s ultimate decision is to give up her own power and end the monarchy for the greater good. I love stories where people realize that the system is broken beyond repair and decide to burn it all down. But the way she accomplishes this raises so many more questions and leaves the universe of the show in a less interesting state. They barely even spend any time debating this decision to rid the entire multiverse of magic before they go through with this plan. They never wonder if magic could be used as a tool for good instead of just oppression. I could see some of the groundwork for this decision, sure, but if they wanted to end on that shocking note then they should’ve spent more time having Star question whether or not magic is a good thing instead of going in circles with love triangles and attempts to end racism through respectability politics.

So, where does that leave us? Well, even after all that… I still liked the show.

I know, I know. The ending sucked. The romance sucked. So much of the main plot was lame. But no show is perfect, and there was still so much I fell in love with in there. The characters, the humor, the art, the action, the world. Even with all my complaints, there’s a lot here that the folks who worked on this show should be super proud of. I’ll be thinking back fondly on this cast for years to come, and I’m glad that a show this fun and unique exists — not just for adults like me, but for kids lucky enough to grow up with it.

I wouldn’t go back and stop myself from watching this show, even if I did just write thousands of words about how the ending stinks. I’d even still recommend it! (Just… maybe stop after Eclipsa’s coronation and pretend that’s the happy ending. Or maybe you’ll like the ending better than I did! I don’t know you.) Because sometimes what matters is the friends made along the way. Friends like my new beloved toxic fave, Flying Princess Pony Head.



Bobby Schroeder

Transgender indie game developer, artist, and cartoon enthusiast. Creator of Super Lesbian Animal RPG, the world’s premiere RPG about lesbian animals.