It’s sad to admit, but there really aren’t that many TV shows that parents and kids share an adoration for (certainly not Caillou or Barney). When a cartoon appears that appeals to the whole family unit, then it’s like discovering a pretty precious unicorn — it is indeed rare and wonderful. Disney’s Gravity Falls is one of those unicorns.
Over two magical seasons, families all over the land have gone on mysterious and bizarre adventures with Dipper, Mabel, Grunkle Stan and the rest of the crew. Sadly, as heartbreaking as it is to come to terms with, Gravity Falls’ run is coming to an end this weekend, a decision made by creator Alex Hirsch (he wanted to end the series with a bang rather than fade away). While the ongoing narrative has been a kick in the pants, one thing that has been apparent in every glorious episode of Gravity Falls is that there is more than meets the eye. Here are 11 amazing facts about Gravity Falls that are sure to blow you (and your kids’) minds.
1. Creator Alex Hirsch is actually a twin himself
Mabel and Dipper Pines were loosely based on creator Alex Hirsch and his twin sister, Ariel Hirsch. While growing up, the two would spend their summer vacations in a cabin with relatives, which inspired the setting and scenario for Gravity Falls. Alex Hirsch also included certain attributes of his sister in Mabel’s character, such as her love of boy bands and goofy sweaters.
2. Grunkle Stan was inspired by Alex Hirsch’s grandad
Grunkle Stan was based not on an uncle but on Alex Hirsch’s grandfather, and he got the Grunkle name idea from his great-aunt, who called herself “Graunty Lois.”
3. There are codes to be deciphered
Every episode of Gravity Falls ends with a code that can be deciphered using a variety of ciphers, including Caesar, Atbash, Vigenère and A1Z26. There’s even a website (The Mystery of Gravity Falls) dedicated to the ciphers in the ending credits.
4. There’s an end credit puzzle
This one is for hard-core Gravity Falls fans. In the end credits (in one of the final frames where the codes appear), there are images and symbols, and each one of these static frames is a piece of a puzzle. When arranged correctly, the images of Grunkle Stan and his brother, Ford, appear. The puzzle won’t be completed until the entire series airs.
5. There are epic guest voice actors parents will recognize
Kids might not pick up on the iconic voices that pop up from time to time during the episodes, but parents totally will. One legendary vocal appearance was of famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson as Waddles the pig (who temporarily becomes a genius). Other notables who have stopped by Gravity Falls include John Oliver (as Wax Sherlock Holmes), Nathan Fillion (as Preston Northwest), Lance Bass (as a member of the boy band Sev’ral Timez), J.K. Simmons (as Ford Pines), Alfred Molina (as the Multi-Bear), Larry King (as a wax figure of himself), Coolio (also as a wax figure), Mark Hamill (as Bats Biker and a Shape Shifter), Jon Stewart (as Judge Kitty Kitty Meow Meow Face-Shwartstein) and Louis C.K. (The Horrifying Sweaty One-Armed Monstrosity).
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6. But your kids will recognize the voice of Mabel from other stuff
Actress Kristen Schaal (who is best known for her role in Flight of the Conchords) has also done voice work on Adventure Time, Despicable Me 2, WordGirl, the TV spin-off of The Penguins of Madagascar, Shrek Forever After and The Muppets. One of her most iconic voice roles (besides Mabel Pines) is of Trixie the cheery plastic Triceratops in Toy Story 3 and 4.
7. The show creators went to real “mystery” spots
The gang jumped in a van and took a research trip through California and Oregon to visit real tourist traps. On their adventure, they stopped by the Trees of Mystery (in Klamath, California), The Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery (at the southern tip of Oregon), Confusion Hill (at the tip of California) and It’s a Burl (in Kerbyville, Oregon). It was also inspired by The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, California.
8. There’s an awesome dog version (in ad form)
The Gravity Falls team created this amazing commercial to run during the Puppy Bowl — Gravity Paws!
9. Creator Alex Hirsch also does several voices on the show
Not only does Hirsch lend his voice to important characters such as Grunkle Stan Pines, Soos Chambrot and Bill Cipher, but he also is responsible for the voices of Fiddleford Hedron “Old Man” McGucket, the Gnomes and Quentin Trembley IV Esquire.
10. There are hidden odes to Alex Hirsch all over the place
Not only do caricatures of Alex Hirsch appear in many episodes, but keep an eye out for the letter H in various prominent places throughout the series.
11. You can Google map Gravity Falls
Yes, try it.
About the author: Sunny Chanel is a full-time content provider/blogger/writer/word stringer. She regularly contributes to Disney’s Babble, Mom.me, Fandango’s Family Room, BuzzFeed, and is the Bay Area editor for Mommy Nearest. Plus she is one of the founding dreamers of Wonder and Company. Beyond all the writing, her best gig is hanging out with her husband and 10-year-old daughter, exploring the always fun and fascinating streets of San Francisco.