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18 Fun Facts About Gravity Falls

The rumors were all true: Gravity Falls is coming to an end after just two seasons. It wasn't canceled, though; showrunner Alex Hirsch had a definite end to the series in mind, and it has now reached its natural conclusion. Bummer. The final episode, “Weirdmageddon 3: Take Back the Falls,” will air on February 15. To tide you over until then, here are a few mysteries we've unraveled about the show.

1. Soos is based on Jesus Chambrot, a college friend of series creator Alex Hirsch.

“Jesus was of indeterminate age—we knew that he was a few years older than the rest of my friends at CalArts but we never knew how old for sure,” Hirsch has said. “We figured maybe 20, 22? Then one day he took off his hat, revealing he was bald. It was vaguely traumatizing for all involved. Out of respect we never asked him.

2. Dipper and Mabel are loosely based on Alex and his twin sister, Ariel.

Some of Ariel’s character traits that have shown up in Mabel include a love of boy bands, a bit of boy craziness, and, in general, just being “goofy and nuts and full of love.” Hirsch said he takes particular pleasure in “taking my memor[ies] of growing up with my sister and fusing them with some kind of magic weirdness. The relationship between the twins is very much based on my relationship with my twin sister.

3. Mabel’s fantastic sweaters are also rooted in real life. 

In particular, a lime green troll doll sweater that Hirsch’s sister wore in elementary school. “[The sweater had] a gem sticking out of the belly and actual hair that stuck to it, and I just remember, even though I was very young, being like, ‘This is unusual. It is weird that she is wearing this in public.’” But there’s more to the sweaters than fond memories of tacky childhood knitwear. Hirsch felt that Mabel’s character is so fun-loving and bubbly, she wouldn’t wear the same outfit week after week like cartoon characters in many animated series do.

4. Grunkle Stan may seem too good to be true, but he is based on Alex Hirsch’s grandpa—gold chain and all!

Here’s Stan’s doppelgänger, Hirsch's grandfather, with the young Hirsch twins. Even the “Grunkle” part was inspired by a great aunt who called herself “Graunty Lois.”

5. There's a link between the name “Dipper” and acne.

According to Hirsch, Dipper’s distinctive forehead birthmark really was a naturally occurring phenomenon—sort of. “There was a kid in my high school who had horrendous acne, and I took great pleasure in mapping out his face like the constellations. Without him knowing, I would draw his daily weird acne cluster, and think, ‘Hmm, this could be Orion.’ And one day he just had a perfect Big Dipper on his forehead.”

6. Gravity Falls itself was inspired by Boring, Oregon.

As a child, Hirsch remembers taking road trips and being “enchanted” that there was a town called Boring (which dubs itself "The Most Exciting Place to Live"). "Gravity Falls is partially from what I imagine Boring might be like. Or maybe the opposite of Boring, Oregon, would be Gravity Falls."

7. Jason Ritter almost got replaced.

Ritter shot the pilot for Gravity Falls, but by the time Disney picked it up, he had already committed to another show. That show wouldn’t allow him to work on Gravity Falls simultaneously, so he had to let Dipper go. Fortunately for fans, Ritter’s other show got canceled, and he was able to step back into the role since the Falls folks hadn’t found a replacement for him yet.

8. Kristen Schaal was the first choice for Mabel.

“In terms of Mabel, I knew from the get-go that it’s got to be Kristen Schaal or there’s no show,” Hirsch said. “I would’ve just stopped working. If we hadn’t gotten her, I would have probably quit.”

9. Smart Waddles was voiced by Neil deGrasse Tyson—and he's just one of many celebrity voice cameos.

In one episode, Mabel’s pet pig Waddles eats a mushroom powder that turns him into a super genius who has built a machine that allows him to talk. That genius? Neil deGrasse Tyson, of course. If you have an ear for voices, you may also have heard John Oliver (Wax Sherlock Holmes), Nathan Fillion, (Preston Northwest), Lance Bass (member of the boy band Sev'ral Timez), J.K. Simmons (Stanford Pines), Alfred Molina (Multi-Bear), and Louis C.K. (The Horrifying Sweaty One-Armed Monstrosity).

10. There's a Homestar Runner Connection.

If you were a fan of the Internet cartoon Homestar Runner and find that Gravity Falls humor is also right up your alley, there may be a reason for that: Homestar co-creator and voice actor Matt Chapman was a writer for the show.

11. Alex Hirsch writes all of the ciphers himself.

They’re usually inserted into the show at the last minute. Here’s a list of all of them thus far.

12. You Can Listen to the Theme Song in Reverse.

 You’ll hear a whisper that tells you how to unravel the cipher at the end of each episode. They change as the ciphers change—the one above drops the hint to “Switch A and Z.”

13. You're not imagining those references to Twin Peaks.

Since they’re both supernatural-based shows that take place in the Pacific Northwest, Hirsch and his writers thought it would be fun to sneak in a few design references.

14. Between seasons one and two, the creative team took a road trip up the Oregon coast.

They stopped at every tacky tourist attraction they could find, including “Confusion Hill” and “Trees of Mystery.” Though they did this after the series started, they were surprised (and pleased) at how well they had nailed some of the more subtle aspects of these Mystery Shack-like stops.

15. There’s an animated version of Hirsch in every episode.


Gravity Falls via YouTube

At the end of the theme song, we’re shown a stack of Polaroid pictures showing the twins’ various summer shenanigans. There’s one underneath some others at the very top that’s not even entirely in the shot, but you can just make out the red goatee that represents Mr. Hirsch.

16. There's not a grand scheme connecting Gravity Falls to Rick and Morty.

Some fans have noticed references to Gravity Falls appearing on the Adult Swim show Rick and Morty. Interesting? Yes, but don't read too much into it—it's simply because Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland once worked on the Disney show Fish Hooks with Alex Hirsch. "We both dreamed one day of having our own weird TV shows, and we would talk about ways in which we would childishly abuse this power," Hirsch told Entertainment Weekly. "For some reason, the universe has blessed us with our mad wishes ... We started putting little Easter eggs in our shows that sort of connected the two. Our motivation for that is primarily to freak people out and blow their minds. The impression of a grand brilliant design is probably more something that the fans have invented." 

17. Another hidden thing to watch for: The letter "H."


ElliSmithwick via YouTube

According to the Disney Channel's Facebook page, the appearance of the letter "H" throughout the series is no mystery: They're subtle nods to "Hirsch."

18. There's more weirdness to come.

It’s unfortunate that the show is ending, but don’t worry—Hirsch has some new tricks up his sleeve for the new animated series he's developing for Fox. “I’m cooking up some brand-new weirdness,” he has said.

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10 Filling Facts About A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Though it may not be as widely known as It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving has been a beloved holiday tradition for many families for more than 40 years now. Even if you've seen it 100 times, there’s still probably a lot you don’t know about this Turkey Day special.

1. IT’S THE FIRST PEANUTS SPECIAL TO FEATURE AN ADULT VOICE.

We all know the trombone “wah wah wah” sound that Charlie Brown’s teacher makes when speaking in a Peanuts special. But A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, which was released in 1973, made history as the first Peanuts special to feature a real, live, human adult voice. But it’s not a speaking voice—it’s heard in the song “Little Birdie.”

2. IT WASN’T JUST ANY ADULT WHO LENT HIS VOICE TO THE SPECIAL.

Being the first adult to lend his or her voice to a Peanuts special was kind of a big deal, so it makes sense that the honor wasn’t bestowed on just any old singer or voice actor. The song was performed by composer Vince Guardaldi, whose memorable compositions have become synonymous with Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang.

“Guaraldi was one of the main reasons our shows got off to such a great start,” Lee Mendelson, the Emmy-winning producer who worked on many of the Peanuts specials—including A Charlie Brown Thanksgivingwrote for The Huffington Post in 2013. “His ‘Linus and Lucy,’ introduced in A Charlie Brown Christmas, set the bar for the first 16 shows for which he created all the music. For our Thanksgiving show, he told me he wanted to sing a new song he had written for Woodstock. I agreed with much trepidation as I had never heard him sing a note. His singing of ‘Little Birdie’ became a hit."

3. DESPITE THE VOICE, THERE ARE NO ADULTS FEATURED IN THE SPECIAL.

While Peanuts specials are largely populated by children, there’s usually at least an adult or two seen or heard somewhere. That’s not the case with A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving may be the only Thanksgiving special (live or animated) that does not include adults,” Mendelson wrote for HuffPo. “Our first 25 specials honored the convention of the comic strip where no adults ever appeared. (Ironically, our Mayflower special does include adults for the first time.)”

4. LUCY IS MOSTLY M.I.A., TOO.

Though early on in the special, viewers get that staple scene of Lucy pulling a football away from Charlie Brown at the last minute, that’s all we see of Chuck’s nemesis in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. (Lucy's brother, Linus, however, is still a main character.)

5. CHARLIE BROWN AND LUCY STILL KEEP IN TOUCH.

Though they only had a single scene together, Todd Barbee, who voiced Charlie Brown, told Noblemania that he and Robin Kohn, who voiced Lucy in the Thanksgiving special, still keep in touch. “We actually went to high school together,” Barbee said. “We still live in Marin County, are Facebook friends, and occasionally see each other.”

6. CHARLIE BROWN HAD SOME TROUBLE WITH HIS SIGNATURE “AAARRRGG.”

One unique aspect of the Peanuts specials is that the bulk of the characters are voiced by real kids. In the case of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, 10-year-old newcomer Todd Barbee was tasked with giving a voice to Charlie Brown—and it wasn’t always easy.

“One time they wanted me to voice that ‘AAAAAAARRRRRGGGGG’ when Charlie Brown goes to kick the football and Lucy yanks it away,” Barbee recalled to Noblemania in 2014. “Try as I might, I just couldn’t generate [it as] long [as] they were looking for … so after something like 25 takes, we moved on. I was sweating the whole time. I think they eventually got an adult or a kid with an older voice to do that one take."

7. LINUS STILL GETS AN ENTHUSIASTIC RESPONSE.

While Barbee got a crash course in the downside of celebrity at a very early age—“seeing my name printed in TV Guide made everyone around me go bananas … everybody … just thought I was some big movie star or something,” he told Noblemania—Stephen Shea, who voiced Linus, still gets a pretty big reaction.

"I don't walk around saying 'I'm the voice of Linus,'" Shea told the Los Angeles Times in 2013. "But when people find out one way or another, they scream 'I love Linus. That is my favorite character!'"

8. THANKS TO LINUS, THE THANKSGIVING SPECIAL GOT A SPINOFF.

As is often the case in a Peanuts special, Linus gets to play the role of philosopher in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and remind his friends (and the viewers) about the history and true meaning of whatever holiday they’re celebrating. His speech about the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving eventually led to This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers, a kind of spinoff adapted from that Thanksgiving Day prayer, which sees the Peanuts gang becoming a part of history.

9. LEE MENDELSON HAD AN ISSUE WITH BIRD CANNIBALISM.

In writing for HuffPo for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’s 40th anniversary, Mendelson admitted that one particular scene in the special led to “a rare, minor dispute during the creation of the show. Mr. Schulz insisted that Woodstock join Snoopy in carving and eating a turkey. For some reason I was bothered that Woodstock would eat a turkey. I voiced my concern, which was immediately overruled.”

10. MENDELSON EVENTUALLY GOT HIS WAY ... THOUGH NOT FOR LONG.

Though Mendelson lost his original argument against seeing Woodstock eating another bird, he was eventually able to right that wrong. “Years later, when CBS cut the show from its original 25 minutes to 22 minutes, I sneakily edited out the scene of Woodstock eating,” he wrote. “But when we moved to ABC in 2001, the network (happily) elected to restore all the holiday shows to the original 25 minutes, so I finally have given up.”

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12 Brazzle-Dazzle Facts About Pete's Dragon
Walt Disney Productions
Walt Disney Productions

Forty years ago, on November 3, 1977, Pete's Dragon was released in theaters across America. Though it was a box office disappointment at the time, it has since turned into a beloved classic for the generations of audiences who grew up with Pete and Elliott. In honor of its 40th anniversary, check out these brazzle-dazzle facts about the Disney classic.

1. ELLIOTT WAS VOICED BY VETERAN ACTOR CHARLIE CALLAS.

Charlie Callas was a comedian known for his rubbery face long before Jim Carrey was around.

2. IT WAS HELEN REDDY’S FIRST LEADING ROLE IN A FILM.

You’d assume that working with an invisible dragon would be pretty challenging for anyone, let alone someone new to the film industry, but Helen Reddy enjoyed the experience. “I only had one actual scene with the dragon," she explained, "and during rehearsals I worked with a latex model of his head so that I would be familiar with the dimensions during filming.”

3. REDDY’S BALLAD IN THE MOVIE WAS NOMINATED FOR AN OSCAR.

Reddy's "Candle on the Water" was nominated for Best Original Song. It lost to “You Light Up My Life.”

4. DON BLUTH SUPERVISED ELLIOTT'S ANIMATION.

The project notoriously called for a lot of overtime hours, and a couple of years after Pete's Dragon was released, animator Don Bluth left Disney. He went on to animate and direct The Secret of NIMH (1982), An American Tail (1986), The Land Before Time (1988), and All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989), among others.

5. CALIFORNIA DOUBLED FOR MAINE.

The movie may look like it takes place in Maine, but neither the cast nor crew went anywhere near the Pine Tree State. The landscape scenes were courtesy of Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch in Canyon Country, California, while the Passamaquoddy town square and wharf area was constructed on the Disney Burbank Studio lot, partly from an old Western set. Even the harbor was constructed on-set.

6. ACTOR SEAN MARSHALL HAD NO FORMAL ACTING BACKGROUND.

Despite this, he beat hundreds of kids who auditioned to play Pete. “I think Disney always went for kind of the natural,” he said.

7. MARSHALL BECAME AN ALL-AMERICAN POLE VAULTER IN COLLEGE. 


redmorgankidd via YouTube

He partially attributes his athletic success to his role in the film, saying that the training he went through for the part, especially ballet, made him more of an athlete.

8. THE LIGHTHOUSE BEACON COULD BE SEEN FOR MILES.

Nora and Lampie’s lighthouse was equipped with a real lighthouse lens and a wickstand that could create a beacon that was visible for 18 to 24 miles. Constructed on California's Morro Bay, Disney had to obtain permission from the U.S. Coast Guard to actually light the lamp. There were plans to eventually move the lighthouse to Disneyland, but it became too deteriorated.

9. MICKEY ROONEY AND RED BUTTONS DID SOME AD-LIBBING.

The scene where Mickey Rooney and Red Buttons drunkenly walk to the cave to see Elliott turned into a massive ad-lib session, with each comedian trying to outdo the other with pratfalls and slapstick. “The director said, ‘That was fantastic, but we can’t have a 20-minute scene where you two are just walking through the cave. We’ve got to re-shoot it,’” Marshall recalled.

10. IT WAS A DISAPPOINTMENT AT THE BOX OFFICE.

The film only made $18 million in the U.S., which was a real disappointment to Disney. The studio was hoping to experience the same level of success it had had with another movie that mixed live action and animation—Mary Poppins.

11. THE SODIUM VAPOR PROCESS WAS USED TO MIX ANIMATION AND LIVE ACTION SCENES.

Invented by Ub Iwerks, the co-creator of Mickey Mouse, the process involved using a camera with a prism installed that separated the sodium vapor lights from the rest of the color. This projected a yellow light onto the screen behind the actor, which could later be subtracted out, and any background could be added in its place.

12. THERE’S A GOOFY YELL TUCKED AWAY IN THE FILM.

It’s when Dr. Terminus (Jim Dale) accidentally sends himself flying via harpoon. Listen for it at 1:13 below.

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