by Dalton Martin
Gravity Falls is one of those rare shows that transcends the age threshold for a typical ‘kids shows.’ In a generation plagued by abominations like Johnny Test and every live Disney Channel show in existence currently, it is great to see such greatness rise to the top and garner almost universal acclaim, and with the four-year show finally coming to an end, it is the perfect time to look back on what made this show so great.
For some reasons, creators of shows for kids just cannot seem to nail a relatable character anymore. Every show on the Disney Channel seems to have the same outlandish plotline of some teen living in Los Angeles trying to make it big as a successful dancer/singer/actor. None of these characters come off as being even remotely relatable. Gravity Falls not only nails one relatable character, but ends up making most of the ensemble of truly outlandish character more realistic than anything these live shows have been spewing out these past 10 or so years.
The main characters, Dipper and Mabel Pines, come off being the most endearing characters ever, each being embodiments of childhood adventure. Mabel’s quirkiness and carefree nature perfectly pairs up perfectly with Dipper’s intelligence and rashness. Almost anybody can watch this show and see themselves as one of these characters alone. The main cast is rounded off with Grunkle Stan, the relative Dipper and Mabel is staying with during their time in town. Stan is a wonderfully enigmatic character, both being a tough-as-nails jerk the first few times we are introduced to him, but slowly opens up to his niece and nephew the deeper into the show we go.
There is one particular episode that touches on the polarizing relationship between the two kids and their Grunkle that makes both Dipper and Mabel question if they can truly trust the shady Stan. But, these little details expand upon the message of family, as most tend to have secrets, yet they’re able to get past them. Where the Pines may be directly related, the familial bond extends to the numerous secondary characters that are about as equally fleshed out as the main protagonists. Soos, the loyal handy man, becomes a sort of older brother for Dipper, often going together to figure out the secrets of the town. The other employee of Grunkle Stan’s Mystery Shack, Wendy Corduroy, is another integral secondary character, both being the love interest for Dipper and being a strong role model for Mabel.
The World Building
Unlike most cartoon shows that like to focus on telling one-off stories with little to no narrative, Gravity Fallstends to make sure everything, and everyone, is in the show for a purpose. Whether it is a vague hint of a mystery pertaining to a single episode, or the images of Bill Cipher, the eccentric main antagonist of the second season, spread across the first few episodes before he is even properly introduced, it’s always great to see when show creators take the proper time and care to beautifully craft something amazing.
One of the best examples of this is in the very first episode where gnomes are just briefly mentioned before becoming heavily entwined in the plot seemingly out of nowhere. At the episodes end, the gnomes are dealt with and you’d imagine they’d never be relevant again, however they come back for many episodes, usually being an important ally for Mabel and Dipper. But it is not just the gnomes that fit this role, almost everything, and everyone, comes back at some point after an initial introduction, whether it’s the unimportant background character that turns out to be a time-traveler, or mysterious tomes left behind by an unknown individual.
For those who watch Gravity Falls, it is the most rewarding experience to connect the dots and realize how something so innocuous in one episode, becomes an integral plot point in the next.
While Gravity Falls will hook you with the characters and it’s elaborately crafted world, the over-lying mystery of the titular town will keep you coming back for more. The show is notorious for keeping it’s audience in the dark, with only the faintest flicker of light being a guide to the truth behind all of the mysteries present in the show. Who is the author of the mysterious book? What is the endgame of the enigmatic antagonist Bill Cipher? What is Dipper’s real first name? All of these questions, and much more, are always present in the series, causing many fans of speculate endlessly.
It doesn’t help when at the end of every episode there is a cryptogram to figure out that ranges from being a short epilogue to it’s pertaining episode, or a subtle hint at things to come. It may take awhile to get the truth of one mystery, the payoff is incredible, especially once you suddenly figure out the answer was always right in front of your face the entire time. The constant stream of mysteries and conspiracies slowly made the show into a giant hit, with many fans corresponding online to figure out every little detail. As a result, a show that was meant to be for a younger demographic instantly sucked in parents and teens alike.
Gravity Falls isn’t just a series of one-off tales, but rather an expanded narrative with a ton of secrets and hidden details to be discovered that adds to the story. Never before has a show had so many conspiracies intertwined within its narrative outside of classics like X-Files or Twin Peaks. It’s easy to see how series creator Alex Hirsch has instilled that sense of adventure and mystery most children experience as they grow up. Having not all the mysteries answered by the end of the show mimics a sense of reality as not all questions are answered every time.
Thanks for Visiting Gravity Falls
As sad as it is to see the series finally come to an end, I completely understand why it had to, and I applaud Alex Hirsch for sticking with the endgame he envisioned, and with the show at it’s end, now is the perfect time to binge watch this 40 episode masterpiece. If you have yet to experience this wonderful show, I more than encourage you to do anything in your power to do so. I firmly believe Gravity Falls will go down as a modern day classic that will be looked back on years to come, it’s just that good.
Must Watch Episodes
Dipper vs. Manliness
In an odd coming of age tale, Dipper decides it’s time to become a “real” man after failing a manliness test game at a diner. After being taunted by Stan he seeks the help of the overly masculine Manotaurs. This episode is a beautiful take on how easy it is to conform to typical social norms and how toxic they can sometimes make us. For a kids show, this is one particularly deep episode I definitely recommend checking out.
This episode focuses on the love-triangle between Wendy, Dipper, and Wendy’s current boyfriend, Robby. With both Dipper’s and Robby’s jealousy getting out of hand, Robby challenges Dipper to a fight. Dipper, being the pipe-sized wimp that he is, naturally summons Rumble McSkirmish, a clone of Street Fighter’s Ryu to help him even the odds. With tons of nostalgic nods to past video games, the message of how to not resort to violence to solve problems perfectly resonates in this episode.
Weirdmageddon Part 2: Escape from Reality
Being the second entry in the three-part series finale, this episode is my personal favorite. Delving into a child’s psyche of never wanting to grow up and to escape change is amazingly encapsulated in this episode. The trio of Dipper, Soos, and Wendy venture into the unknown as they attempt to rescue Mabel from the clutches of Bill Cipher. What starts out as a recovery mission, turns into a personal battle against giving into a delusional reality where everything you ever want and need is there. This is truly one of the deepest stories told in Gravity Falls, and is probably my most favorite episode in the entire series.