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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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The World’s First Totoro-Themed Restaurant Is Coming to Thailand
StudioCanal
StudioCanal

Japan’s upcoming Studio Ghibli theme park will not open for another few years, but animation fans in Asia will soon have another destination where they can get their Hayao Miyazaki fix. Thailand will soon be home to a Totoro-themed restaurant, SoraNews24 reports.

May’s Garden House Restaurant in Bangkok is the first officially licensed restaurant inspired by Miyazaki’s classic film My Neighbor Totoro. The restaurant features Miyazaki-themed decor, like a giant Totoro figure that sits in the dining room, as well as menu items inspired by the characters, such as steamed buns shaped like Mini Totoros. The tables are adorned with figurines of Totoro, Mei, Sootballs, the Catbus, and other characters from the movie. While they aren't completed yet, the restaurant plans on adding a children’s playground, an orchid greenhouse, and various other elements before the grand opening.

Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki helped develop the concept for the restaurant, and he personally designed its sign. He also designed two exclusive new Studio Ghibli characters for the restaurant, Colko and Peeko (who you can see above).

While it has been open on a trial basis since mid-April, May’s Garden House is set to officially open at the end of May. Until then, Miyazaki uber-fans will have to content themselves with dining at the Straw Hat Cafe, the more general Studio Ghibli-themed restaurant at the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo.

[h/t SoraNews24]

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Photo Illustration by Mental Floss. Woody Image: iStock. Background: IFC Midnight
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9 The Shining References Buried in Pixar Films
Photo Illustration by Mental Floss. Woody Image: iStock. Background: IFC Midnight
Photo Illustration by Mental Floss. Woody Image: iStock. Background: IFC Midnight

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining: Not the most kid-friendly movie! But, as circumstance would have it, it’s a favorite film of Pixar regular Lee Unkrich, who has directed or co-directed five Pixar features—including Toy Story 2 and 3; Monsters, Inc.; Finding Nemo; and Coco—in addition to doing editing work on several others. As such, it’s no surprise (or maybe it is) that several references to The Shining, from the obvious to the obscure, have snuck into Pixar’s lineup over the years. Here are nine of them.

1. SID'S DISTINCTIVE CARPET // TOY STORY (1995)

One of the most iconic images from Stanley Kubrick’s filmography is of Danny (Danny Lloyd) cycling through the halls of The Shining’s Overlook Hotel. That same iconic carpet can be found in Toy Story, where it adorns the home of the toy-torturer Sid. Unkrich, who was one of the editors on the film, credits that particular Easter Egg to production designer Ralph Eggleston.

2. THE NUMBER 237 // TOY STORY 3 (2010)

The number 237 makes an appearance in 'Toy Story 3' (2010)
Pixar

Unkrich worked several references to the number 237—the room in the Overlook Hotel where some particularly trippy things go down for Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson)—into Toy Story 3, which he directed. The license plate on a garbage truck in one scene reads RM237; Woody instant messages a toy whose code name is Velocistar237; and the model number of a security camera in Sunnyside Daycare is Overlook R237.

3. THE SUNNYSIDE INTERCOM // TOY STORY 3 (2010)

Speaking of Sunnyside Daycare’s security system: It features an intercom that’s an exact (albeit animated) duplicate of the one used by Wendy Torrance (Shelley Duvall) in The Shining. Several feet away from the intercom is a tissue box, the pattern of which resembles that aforementioned carpet pattern in the Overlook Hotel.

4. THE "KALINGA" TECHNIQUE // FINDING NEMO (2003) & TOY STORY 3 (2010)

For both Toy Story 3 and Finding Nemo, Unkrich asked his composers—Randy Newman and Thomas Newman, respectively—to utilize the “kalinga” technique at particular moments where the audience was meant to feel unsettled. Favored by Polish composer and conductor Krzysztof Penderecki, whose music was featured in The Shining, the “kalinga,” per Unkrich, “is when the violin players tap their bows against the strings rather than strumming. It's almost a plucky sound. If everybody does that throughout the orchestra you get a crazy, almost insecty sound, it's so unsettling.”

5. “HEEEEERE’S JOHNNY!” // FINDING NEMO (2003)

This one’s easy: In Finding Nemo, Bruce the shark echoes Jack Nicholson’s most famous line from The Shining when he snarls “Heeeere’s Brucey!”

6. JACK TORRANCE’S AXE // COCO (2017)

    Early in Coco, there’s a scene where Dante the dog abruptly wakes up from a nap. In the background, we see a normal-looking axe stuck into a tree trunk. An axe could just be an axe ... were Unkrich not sitting in the director's chair. Earlier this year, in an interview with Cinema Blend, he confirmed that the axe is in fact modeled after “one of the axes from The Shining.”

    7. REDRUM // COCO (2017)

    There are two 'The Shining' references in this one scene from 'Coco' (2017)
    Disney/Pixar

      In that same shot, right behind the axe, is a red metal storage drum, a reference to REDRUM, Danny Torrance’s favorite phrase and (er, spoilers for The Shining?) “murder” spelled backwards.

      8. THE GRADY TWINS // COCO (2017)

        As Coco’s Miguel runs through Frida Kahlo’s underworld art studio, he passes a painting of two girls who, per Unkrich, represent a “Día de los Muertos-inspired version of the twin girls from The Shining.”

        9. APOLLO 11 // TOY STORY (1995)

          Stick with us for a moment on this one, as it's not as straightforward as the other ones: Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear was named after Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who was the second man to set foot on the moon. Apollo 11 looms large as part of the mythology of The Shining, as there are famously some conspiracy theorists who believe that Kubrick faked the moon landing and used The Shining as a quasi-confession. (At one point Danny Torrance wears an Apollo 11 sweater, which Lee Unkrich now owns.) This is very likely a coincidence, not an outright nod to The Shining, but given the level of The Shining appreciation in the halls of Pixar, it’s not a stretch to believe that someone at least got a chuckle out of it.

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