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.

British Film Institute
Pop Culture
Where to Watch Over 300 British Animated Films for Free Online
British Film Institute
British Film Institute

The history of animation doesn’t begin and end with studios in Japan and the U.S. Artists in the UK have been drawing and sculpting cartoons for over a century, and now some of the best examples of the medium to come out of the country are available to view for free online.

As It’s Nice That reports, the British Film Institute has uploaded over 300 films to the new archive on BFI player. Dubbed "Animated Britain," the expansive collection includes hand-drawn and stop motion animation and many distinct styles in between. Viewers will find ads, documentaries, films for children, and films for adults dating from 1904 to the 21st century. Episodes of classic cartoons like SuperTed and Clangers as well as obscure clips that are hard to find elsewhere are represented.

The archive description reads:

“Through its own weird alchemy, animation can bring our wildest imaginings to life, and yet it can also be a powerful tool for exploring our everyday reality. Silly, surreal, sweet or caustic, this dizzyingly diverse selection showcases British animation's unique contribution to the art form, and offers a history ripe for rediscovery.”

This institution’s project marks their start of a whole year dedicated to animation. UK residents can stream the selected films for free at BFI player, or check out their rental offerings for more British animated classics.

[h/t It’s Nice That]

Amy Meredith, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
You Can Still Visit This Forgotten Flintstones Theme Park in Arizona
Amy Meredith, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Amy Meredith, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Like many pop culture institutions of the 20th century, Hanna-Barbera’s The Flintstones hasn’t been relegated to just one medium. The animated cast of America's favorite modern Stone Age family sold cigarettes, starred in a live-action 1994 film, and inspired all sorts of merchandise, including video games and lunchboxes. In 1972, it also got the theme park treatment.

Bedrock City, located 30 minutes from the Grand Canyon in Williams, Arizona, was the brainchild of Linda and Francis Speckels, a married couple who bought the property and turned it into a 6-acre tourist attraction. Concrete houses were built to resemble the Flintstone and Rubble residences and are furnished with props; a large metal slide resembles a brontosaurus, so kids can mimic the show’s famous title credits sequence; and statues of the characters are spread all over the premises. The site also doubles as an RV campground and parking site.

A Flintstones theme park house
Matthew Dillon, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A statue of Bam-Bam at the Flintstones park in Arizona
Matthew Dillon, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A statue of Wilma Flintstone at Bedrock City in Arizona
Matthew Dillon, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When it first opened, Bedrock City employed actors to stay in character, but the remote location proved challenging to retain both employees and visitors. Over the past four decades, it's had a steady stream of tourists, but not enough to turn a huge profit. Atlas Obscura reports the attractions are in various stages of disrepair.

Linda Speckels put the property up for sale in 2015 with an asking price of $2 million, but it has yet to sell. One possible hold-up: The new owner would have to negotiate a fresh licensing deal with Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. for the right to continue using the show’s trademarks. (A separate Flintstones park in South Dakota, owned by another member of the Speckels family, was sold and closed in 2015.) With its proximity to the Canyon, the 30 total acres could be converted into almost anything, from a mall to a golf course. For Flintstones enthusiasts, the hope is that the park’s unique attractions won’t be reduced to rubble.


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