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Gravity Falls is an American animated television series created by animator Alex Hirsch that first aired on Disney Channel, and then on Disney XD from June 15, 2012 to February 15, 2016. The series follows adventures of Dipper Pines (voiced by Jason Ritter) and his twin sister Mabel (voiced by Kristen Schaal) in the fictional town of Gravity Falls, Oregon, while on summer vacation. At the start of the series, twins Dipper and Mabel are sent to spend the summer with their great-uncle (or "Grunkle") Stan (voiced by Hirsch), in a mysterious town full of paranormal forces and supernatural creatures. The kids help Stan run "The Mystery Shack", the tourist trap that he owns, while also investigating the local mysteries. The series officially premiered on the Disney Channel in the United States on June 15, 2012.
Series creator Alex Hirsch first coined the concept for the show in an 11-minute low-budget student film which he made at the California Institute of the Arts. Hirsch was called in to do a pitch for the Disney Channel for a show based on the short pilot. Disney Channel bought the idea and started airing the series in the summer of 2012. The series was inspired by Hirsch's own childhood experiences with his twin sister during their summer vacations.
On March 12, 2013, the show was renewed for a second season as stated by creator Alex Hirsch in a tweet. However, Disney didn't officially confirm the second season until July 29, 2013, just four days before the season one finale "Gideon Rises" aired. On May 31, 2014, it was announced that the second season would air on Disney XD and Disney Channel. On June 14, 2014, it was confirmed that season 2 would premiere on August 1, 2014 on Disney Channel, and on August 4, 2014 on Disney XD, with most of the season two episodes airing first on Disney XD, as it is considered the new home for the series.
On June 12, 2015, it was announced that J. K. Simmons had been cast for the recurring role as Stan's twin brother, and his role would be introduced in the season two episode "A Tale of Two Stans". The episode aired on July 13, 2015.
On November 20, 2015, the show's creator, Alex Hirsch announced that the second season of the show would be its last. The decision was made by him, not by Disney, and it was done in order for the show to not lose its original spark. The show concluded with a one-hour special event titled "Weirdmageddon 3: Take Back the Falls", that aired on February 15, 2016.
On February 8, 2016, Disney XD aired a half-hour special titled Gravity Falls: Between the Pines, hosted by creator Alex Hirsch and Gravity Falls character Time Baby. The special elaborates on the production of the show, giving fans an inside look behind the scenes. A 68-hour marathon aired on Disney XD from February 12, 2016, up until the finale on February 15, 2016, with the entire series airing in order. Due to only having 39 episodes before its airing, the show was looped a grand total of four times to fill the 68-hour slot.
For their summer vacation, 12-year-old twins Dipper and Mabel Pines are dropped off from their home in Piedmont, California to the fictitious town of Gravity Falls, Roadkill County, Oregon to live with their Great Uncle Stan Pines (often shortened to Grunkle Stan), who runs a tourist trap called Mystery Shack. Things are not what they seem in this small town, and with the help of a mysterious journal that Dipper finds in the forest, they begin unraveling the local mysteries. With appearances from Wendy Corduroy, Mystery Shack cashier; Soos Ramirez, friend of Dipper and Mabel and handyman to Grunkle Stan; plus an assortment of other characters, Dipper and Mabel always have an intriguing day to look forward to.
Cast and primary characters
Dipper Pines (voiced by Jason Ritter) â" The 13-year-old twin brother of Mabel Pines.
Mabel Pines (voiced by Kristen Schaal) â" The 13-year-old twin sister of Dipper Pines.
Grunkle Stan (voiced by Alex Hirsch) â" The great uncle of Dipper and Mabel Pines.
Soos (voiced by Alex Hirsch) â" The 22-year-old handyman at the Mystery Shack.
Wendy Corduroy (voiced by Linda Cardellini) â" A 15-year-old girl who is a part-time employee at The Mystery Shack, whom Dipper also has a crush on.
Waddles (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker; Neil deGrasse Tyson as guest) â" Mabel's pet pig.
Stanford Pines, also known as The Author (voiced by J. K. Simmons) â" Grunkle Stan's six-fingered long-lost twin brother.
Candy Chiu and Grenda (voiced by Niki Yang and Carl Faruolo, respectively) â" Mabel's best friends.
Fiddleford Hadron "Old Man" McGucket (voiced by Alex Hirsch) â" The "local kook" of Gravity Falls, and former friend of Stanford.
Bill Cipher (voiced by Alex Hirsch) â" A powerful dream demon from another plane of existence (what he calls the Mind Scape) that can influence or control citizens of Gravity Falls through a trans-dimensional mindscape.
"Li'l" Gideon Gleeful (voiced by Thurop Van Orman) â" A young con artist and rival of Grunkle Stan. He speaks with a Southern accent.
Toby Determined (voiced by Gregg Turkington) â" Homely proprietor of and sole editor for the Gravity Falls' Gossiper.
Pacifica Elise Northwest (voiced by Jackie Buscarino) â" The most popular and wealthy girl in Gravity Falls.
Robert "Robbie" Stacy Valentino (voiced by T.J. Miller) â" A local teenage punk rock boy who is Dipper's primary rival for Wendy's affections.
Prior to working on the series, series creator Alex Hirsch's primary inspiration growing up was the popular animated sitcom The Simpsons, where he observed that "animation could be funnier than live-action. That animation didn't have to just be for kids. That it could be satirical and observational and grounded in a sense of character interaction". Hirsch graduated from the California Institute of the Arts, and was hired to work as writer and storyboard artist for the Cartoon Network series The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, where he was paired up with Pendleton Ward, the creator of Adventure Time. Afterwards, he moved on to co-develop the Disney Channel animated series Fish Hooks; shortly before he pitched (and was subsequently green-lit) Gravity Falls.
Hirsch explained in an interview with The A.V. Club during production of season 1, that a typical episode is conceived in a room reserved for writers, where a simple synopsis is presented, and from then on dramatic structure is defined, and the plot is modified to include a character-driven subplot, which Hirsch expresses as "the hardest thing ... to find a character story that actually uncovers, explores, or pushes tensionâ"on something our characters care aboutâ"that is properly explored via the magic or monster or impossibility of the week."
B- and A-stories are created, and are given to a writer to produce an outline, which is then subsequently checked-off by Hirsch for feedback. The writer produces a draft from these edits, where more notes may be given. Hirsch states that he and creative director Mike Rianda may personally create a draft for themselves before a final script is produced, in which the dialogue from the draft received from the writer is majorly revised; Hirsch states that the revising process "is not a discredit to our writersâ"it's just we have a very particular vision. In particular, I usually rewrite almost all of Dipper's dialogue and most of Mabel's dialogue, just because I have them in my head. Me and Mike will stay up for about 48 hours prior to the delivery of every script. We'll take the weekend, we'll work all night, we'll drink Red Bull, we'll sleep on the couch in shifts like maniacs, we'll slap each other in the face."
A script is delivered, which then gets translated into a storyboard, where feedback is received from Hirsch to the board artists if a certain element, such as a gag, doesn't work. Afterwards, a pitch for the episode is given to the network, where they do a read-through, and then the episode is either checked out by the network, or retooled in the small amount of time allocated before an animation studio must receive something to work with.
At the end of every episode, there is a ciphered text in one of many substitution ciphers:
Caesar cipher, hinted at by a voice in the opening sequence, which played backwards says "three letters back". This cipher was used in episodes 1â"6.
Atbash cipher, which is announced in an episode in Caesar cipher that it will be used this time. This cipher was used in episodes 7â"13.
A1Z26 cipher is a simple substitution cipher decoded by substituting the náµ—Ê° letter of the alphabet for the given number. It was used in episodes 14â"19.
A combined cipher is a mix of two or more ciphers seen in the show. The first time such cipher has been used is at the end of "Gideon Rises". It's solved by converting to letters using the A1Z26 cipher, then flipping the letters with the Atbash cipher, and finally by using the Caesar cipher. Season 2's combined ciphers start with the VigenÃ¨re cipher.
A symbol cipher appears in the 2 part season finale. It also frequently appears in the journals. The symbols for Q, X, and Z are currently unknown.
A cipher currently only known as the Bill cipher also exists, it is shown in every episode.
VigenÃ¨re cipher which is used in the end credits like all the other ciphers. The keyword for the cipher is hinted at by subtle clues in the episode. The voice at the end of the theme song hints at this cipher so when played backwards it says "Key VigenÃ¨re".
Season 2 also uses the symbol cipher mentioned above.
The Bill cipher also returns in season 2.
Gravity Falls received critical acclaim. Brian Lowry of Variety stated: "The show has a breezy quality that should play to kids, and tickle some twinges of nostalgia among their parents." Los Angeles Times Robert Lloyd referred to the program as "...gently twisted, with some Disneyfied action and heart-warming folded in". In his review, David Hinckley of New York Daily News called Gravity Falls "quirky and endearing", and offered praise for the character of Mabel Pines. Matt Blum, writing for Wired, favorably compared the show to Cartoon Network's animated program Regular Show and Disney Channel's animated program Phineas and Ferb, hailing Gravity Falls as "clever, strange, and somewhat poignant". Erik Kain of Forbes called Gravity Falls "the best thing on TV at the moment".
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