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Gravity Falls is an animated Disney Channel Original Series created by Alex Hirsch and produced by Rob Renzetti. It began airing on June 29, 2012 and has quickly developed a cult following with its paranormal theme, inventive writing, quirky yet lovable characters, thrilling escapades, and enough eyebrow-raising jokes to make one wonder how a kid-friendly channel like Disney picked it up in the first place.
The show tells the story of twins Dipper and Mabel Pines, who have been sent to live for the summer with their "grunkle" note Stanford "Stan" Pines in the mountain town of Gravity Falls, Oregon, where he owns the Mystery Shack, "the world's most bizarre museum". Dipper and Mabel's situation worsens (or, rather, betters) when Dipper finds a mysterious book, whose cover is only marked with the number "3" and a hand with six fingers. Upon opening it, Dipper finds a Great Big Book of Everything explaining the many strange beings, past events, and even federal cover-ups that exist within this town of secrecy — all cut through with an urgent warning: Trust No One! Thus begins Mabel and Dipper's adventures as they interact with the supernatural world that surrounds them.
After the first season finale, Alex Hirsch announced that the series would be going on a possibly year-long hiatus. Several Miniseries were released over the break to keep fans satisfied.
Such miniseries include:
- Dipper's Guide to the Unexplained, where Dipper attempts to make documentaries explaining supposed mysteries around Gravity Falls
- Mabel's Guide to Life, in which Mabel tries to give out handy tips to live every day life
- Fixin' it with Soos, a short series of videos that has Soos trying to fix various things around the Mystery Shack
- TV Shorts, which consist of a few sketches depicting Gravity Falls' TV programming
- Mabel's Scrapbook, which follows the Pines family on vacation outings.
Season 2 premiered on August 1, 2014, 364 days after the season 1 finale. New episodes now premiere on Disney XD first and Disney Channel later on.
This show contains examples of the following tropes:
- Agent Mulder: Dipper is shaping up to be one of these, as seen in the early trailers.
- Badass Grunkle: Stan Pines. While he has no biological children or grandchildren, Stan fits every other aspect of the Badass Grandpa to a T. As early as the pilot, he is shown to be keeping big secrets, punches a pterodactyl in the eye in Land Before Swine (as well as a certain other creature, as we see in Weirdmageddon part 3), and is at his most badass in Scary-oke and Not What He seems, which are also the episodes where he has big reveals. He protected Dipper and Mabel by fighting off swarms of zombies single-handedly, with a baseball bat, brass knuckles, and the grandfather clock. He trained himself to be self-sufficient, and to go from barely graduating high school to being capable of fixing the inter-dimensional transporter in the basement lab to bring back the other Badass Grunkle of the series: Ford Pines, an exceptionally intelligent man where Stan excels physically. Both men are in their 60s or 70s.
- Brother-Sister Team: Obviously
- Chekov's Gun: Mabel's grappling hook was introduced in the pilot episode but did not make a second appearance until the season one finale, during which it was used to save Dipper's and Mabel's lives.
- Chekov's Army: The Gnomes, as featured in the pilot, became Dipper's and Mabel's army during their attempt to steal back the Mystery Shack.
- Complete Monster: Bill Cipher is a one eyed, pyramid shaped Eldritch Abomination who rules over the realm of nightmares and serves as the primary Big Bad of the story. Originally from the flat 2nd dimension, Bill detested the dull normalcy of his world so much that the first thing he did when he received his Reality Warping powers was lay waste to it and plunge it into total disorder, killing even his own family. Viewing Earth as being in similar need of "liberation", Bill sought a way to enter Earth's reality in psychical form so that he could unleash "Weirdmageddon" upon the entire planet. He began his plan years in the making by linking his new realm of anomalies to the town of Gravity Falls, Oregon. He then entered the mind of the inquisitive Stanford Pines, befriending him as his "muse" and research partner, and deceiving him into constructing a machine that would create a dimensional portal for Bill and his demon underlings to enter through while also creating enough power to tear the entire universe apart. Ford's associate Fiddleford McGucket was left traumatized after accidentally looking through the portal into the nightmare world, and after Ford saw what Bill was truly planning and abandoned construction of the machine, Bill relentlessly hounded him via invading his thoughts and dreams, or sometimes even resorting to Demonic Possession. When we meet Bill in the present day plot, his antics include invading Stanley Pines' mind through the dreamscape as part of a deal with Gideon Gleeful and later attempting to destroy Dipper, Mabel, and Soos purely out of frustration, tricking Dipper into letting him take over his body so that he could smash Ford's old computer (which he succeeds at) and destroy his secret journals (which he fails at), and finally breaking the Dimensional Rift that he coaxes an emotionally distraught Mabel into giving him while in the form of Blendin Blandin, which allows him and his demons to enter the physical world at last. He kicks off his apocalyptic "party" with nearly killing a man by rearranging his face, turning Ford into a golden miniature statue, burning the three journals and ordering his minions to eat Dipper, unleashing distortion and destruction upon the entire town, turning many residents to stone and using them to build himself a "throne of human agony", and wiping out Time Baby and the Time Police when they attempt to crash his party. He also had Mabel trapped in a Lotus Eater Machine trap that would gradually Mind Rape her and anyone else who entered. Bill ultimately intended to spread chaos across the globe so that the world could become his playground, using the rationale that he was making things the way they ought to be. In the Grand Finale, he tortures Ford with around 500 volts of electricity in order to make him tell him how to break the anti-weirdness barrier around Gravity Falls, then deciding that torturing Ford's young niece and nephew, Dipper and Mabel, might get better results given how much Ford cared about them. He takes out the souls of the Pines Family's friends and seals them within banners, and then attempts to murder Dipper and Mabel, stating he was going to "make some children into corpses." Despite being certifiably insane and having a serious case of Evil Cannot Comprehend Good, Bill seemed perfectly aware of basic human morality and sanity, being all too willing to exploit it for his own ends and never caring to follow it himself. He put his own self interest above all else, treated even his own demon "buddies" as slaves to do his bidding, and his quirky, Crazy Awesome, Laughably Evil persona could not detract from his menace. Petty, psychotically childish, sadistic to the extreme, and possessing a sick sense of humor, Bill ended up one of the darkest and most horrifying villains to come out of a Disney animated series.
- A note by Bill himself in the official Journal #3 makes his Grand Theft Me of Dipper even more disturbing in retrospect. It reads: Note to self: possessing people is hilarious! To think of all the sensations I've been missing out on - burning, stabbing, drowning. It's like a buffet of fun! Once I destroy that journal, I'll enjoy giving this body it's Grand Finale - by throwing it off the water tower! Best of all, people will just think Pine Tree lost his mind, and his mental form will wander in the mindscape forever! Want to join him, Shooting Star?
- Deal with the Devil: A favorite tactic of Bill's that he uses to get what he wants from humans for as long as they have existed. He has made deals with Gideon Gleeful, Blendin Blandin, Dipper Pines, and other Pines family members unspecified for spoilers' sake.
- Dirty Coward: Once the tables are turned against him, Bill Cipher begs for Stanley not to erase him using the Blind Eye Society's memory erasing gun, promising him anything he wants. However, given that he doesn't offer Stanford or the Pine Twins any recompensation, he doesn't actually regret his actions and is simply being shameless.
- Great Big Book of Everything: Journal #3. Considering that the premise of the show is built on exploring the weird stuff Journal 3 gives information on AND discovering the author is one of the main story-arcs, it's kind of ridiculous that it wasn't listed here until November 2016.
- Somethings are subverted. Examples are: the author of Journal 3 appears in person for a decent portion of the show, the book can fail in some instances (e.g. weaknesses of gnomes unknown, "IF HE GAINS A PHYSICAL FORM ALL IS LOST")
- Half-Identical Twins: Dipper and Mabel.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Kristen Schaal (Mel in Flight of the Conchords, Edith in the Captain Underpants movie) and Louise in Bob's Burgers) voices Mabel. Blendin Blandin is voiced by Justin Roiland of Rick and Morty fame (though he doesn't yell out UNACCEPTABLE!!! despite Justin and Mabel's not-so-good behavior), and he sounds EXACTLY like Morty, minus the voice cracks.
- Genki Girl: Mabel.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Who wants to put on some blindfolds and get into my car?!"
- In Summerween, Alex Hirsch wanted the phrase "Bottles will be spun" on Tambry's party invitation. When Disney's Standards and Practices wouldn't allow it, he changed it to "Not S & P Approved" to be a smartass. Oddly enough, the much more obvious reference (demons actually shown playing "Spin the Human" and eating whoever it landed on) in Weirdmageddon was kept in the episode.
- Homemade Sweater From Hell: Mabel's sweaters. Subverted in that she likes them and wears them proudly.
- Impossibly Tacky Clothes: Mabel's sweaters can sometimes go into this.
- In Touch with His Feminine Side: Dipper.
- Large Ham: Several characters, such as Mabel and Stan (mainly when he is acting as Mr. Mystery) tend to delve into this, but the paragon of hammy evil is clearly Bill in both words and behavior, from start to finish.
- Bill first introduces himself to the audience when Lil' Gideon summons him via evil cackling, presenting his summoner with a full set of deer teeth, and proudly agreeing when the young "psychic" declares him to be insane. And that's only the beginning. Probably his weirdest entrance was when he played the piano...
- Limited Wardrobe: Averted with both Dipper's hats and Mabel's sweaters.
- Man Child: Soos. Disney even uses that exact word to describe him.
- Magnificent Bastard/Complete Monster/Crazy Awesome: As horrible a person as he is, Bill Cipher is definitely one of the most beloved and memorable things about Gravity Falls.
- Nice Hat: Grunkle Stan really seems to like his fez.
- Precocious Crush: Dipper has one on Wendy, the 15-year old girl who works at The Mystery Shack.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Mabel is more energetic than Dipper is, though they both enjoy adventuring. Stanley Pines also has a brother by the name of Stanford, though given they eventually turned on each other temporarily, perhaps they had more differences than Dipper and Mabel have in the present.
- Slasher Smile: In Sock Opera (S2E4), "Bipper" does this for almost all of his screen time up until his confrontation and ensuing fight with Mabel. It's especially prominent when he asks how Dipper could possibly hope to defeat him and when he pulls the cake (with Mabel and the journal on it) back up to the rafters after she falls.
- Write What You Know: Alex Hirsch based the series on the childhood summers he and his twin sister spent camping with their grandpa Stan.
- Write Who You Know: In addition to writing what he knows, Mabel was heavily inspired by Hirsch's sister. One example is that Ariel Hirsch wanted a pet pig when she was a kid, so Alex gave Mabel a pet pig in the show.