Stay Curious Stay Weird: Gravity Falls


Emily Palmer, Writer


Gravity Falls was a mystery-comedy series that started in 2012 and ended in 2016. The story follows twins Mabel and Dipper Pines after they are sent to small-town Gravity Falls, Oregon for the summer. Mabel and Dipper meet an abundance of strange creatures as they try to figure out the biggest mysteries surrounding the quiet town. Gravity Falls, despite its success, only had two seasons, and about 40 episodes. So why was Gravity Falls cancelled during the peak of its success? Well, the creator of the show, Alex Hirsch had this to say, “there are so many shows that go on endlessly that lose their original spark.” The story had run its course and came to a tight, conclusive ending. 

Gravity Falls featured a variety of anomalies from tiny golf people, Lillliputtians, to the massive, unruly Manotaurs. On the surface one may think these are random filler stories, like in Haunting Hour or Goosebumps, but there was an underlying struggle on a much larger scale that brought these characters together, more like Game of Thrones. The Gnomes the twins meet in the first episode of the series come back multiple times throughout the course of the summer, sometimes playing huge roles in the episode, and even making it in a few spinoff games. Manotaurs come back all throughout the final episodes of Gravity Falls and are shown in the final stand against Bill Cipher. 

These individual stories drew inspiration from many different myths and folktales. For example, in “The Golf War” during the sequence showing Mabel and Pacifica’s golf match, the miner-themed hole had a character named Big Henry, who dies trying to deliver a golf ball through the miniature mine during a gas leak. Big Henry’s character inspiration came from a song called “Big Bad John” by Jimmy Dean and the folklore of John Henry. Humorous portrayals of entities from different source materials also often appear in the series. Love God, a representation of Cupid or a cherub is a fitting example of this trope. He works as a Rockstar as second job and only matchmakes as a hobby in the episode after internet dating made him obsolete.  

In addition to the myriad of creatures, Gravity Falls is also rich in Easter eggs. For those of you who do not know an Easter egg when referencing media is a message, image or feature hidden in a video game, film, or other that is usually an electronic medium, think hidden mickeys in Disney films. There are 9 different cryptograms used in Gravity Falls. Almost every single episode has a secret hidden message in it. Some, silly in nature like the message “9-20 23-15-18-11-19 6-15-18-16-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-7-19!”  which is a reference to an ad Mabel saw during the episode “Land Before Swine” and simply says “IT WORKS FOR PIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGS!” It uses the A1Z26 cypher. One frequent message played in Gravity Fall’s theme song is “STAN IS NOT WHAT HE SEEMS” a reference to Grunkle Stan’s history of crime and his family. 

Bill Cipher, the main antagonist, shows up in many unusual places across the series. He shows up in a red stained-glass window in “Tourist Trapped” the first episode of the series, and on the back of a playing card in the episode “Irrational Treasure.” His reoccurring symbolism does not end at random appearances. Bill has an entire zodiac dedicated to him that would sometimes flash at the end of the theme song. The zodiac ended up being the way to defeat him. Backwards messages, hushed whispers, and flashes of imagery that would not be seen until later in the show came up early in Gravity Fall’s theme song. Alex Hirsch’s use of these codes and messages kept fans on the edge for many years waiting for the next teaser or clip to analyze. 

Science fiction is also a huge part of Gravity Falls. While some monsters have the simple explanation of being paranormal or otherworldly creatures, there is science to back some creature’s existence. In the episode “Boyz Crazy” the boyband Sev’ral Timez turns out to have been genetically engineered clones made by their producer. One of the more grotesque monsters shown, the Shape Shifter, was a mysterious egg in the woods before Ford and his assistant took back into their underground laboratory to study. Scientific reason takes both Dipper and Ford far through their explorations of Gravity Falls and the paranormal that lurks. 

All said and done, I want to give my opinions on the series. Starting with is there is no way to ever continue the plot of Gravity Falls. The continuity of the imagery and hidden messages of the show unfortunately do not leave much room for new mysteries to take place in the same locations as the original. Even if the Pines twins were to both come back for another summer at the Mystery Shack the driving questions have already been answered along with the fact that Ford, Mabel and Dipper’s great uncle, has already gotten to most of the town’s secrets and monsters. That being said, if desired, there is a lot of potential for spin off media such as games that truly expand on their universe, or maybe even other TV shows. One area is that Ford when offering Dipper an apprenticeship under him, Ford hinted that there is a lot more out there to discover. This new angle around Ford and his adventures could possibly make an intriguing sci-fi, mystery series that could charm old audiences back into the universe of Gravity Falls. 

Overall, Gravity falls was a unique show. Its intelligent writing created a satisfying ending for its longtime followers. The memorable creatures that were featured in the show still hold a place in popular culture and fans’ hearts. The ruins of internet scavenger hunts and communal code decryptions still exist online and created spaces for longtime enjoyers of the series to communicate. I myself still enjoy the show as a nostalgic, defining piece of media in my childhood and the catalyst for my intertest in otherworldly entities and the endless possibilities of other universes. I would like to end this with my favorite quote from the series, “Stay curious, stay weird, stay kind, and don’t let anyone ever tell you aren’t smart or brave or worthy enough.” – Mabel Pines