Uncovering the Secrets of Gravity Falls: The Best Show Ever Created

“Remember! Reality’s an illusion, the universe is a hologram, buy gold, bye!” Bill Cipher

Gravity Falls. (Two) pairs of twins. Mystery. Secret Codes and Hidden Messages. Dark Pasts. Animal Friends. Love Interests. Teenage Angst. This two-season Disney XD classic does it all. I want to preface this article by saying that if you have not watched this series, my analysis might seem confusing since there are so many plot points throughout this short show, so I would recommend watching a quick summary (or the whole show :)) prior, but I will try my best to give a quick summary below. Spoilers ahead!

If you are not familiar with this television program named after a fictional town in Oregon, let me give you a brief overview. The show was created by Alex Hirsch and aired on Disney XD from 2013-2016. The show follows the 12-year-old pair of twins Dipper and Mabel as they navigate the town of Gravity Falls upon their parents’ decision to send them to spend the summer with their “Grunkle” (great-uncle) Stan. They soon learn that the town is swimming in supernatural secrets that they will spend the summer investigating. Spoiler alert: One secret they uncover as soon as they arrive is that nothing is at it seems! Grunkle Stan makes his living owning and operating the tourist-trap the Mystery Shack which is also where he and the twins live. He has two workers, Wendy and Soos who accompany the twins through their investigation of Gravity Falls.


First off, Mystery. Despite the apparent supernatural beings that seem to only be in Gravity Falls (rather than throughout Oregon or the United States in general), the first episode is completed with Grunkle Stan descending into a secret part of the Mystery Shack through the vending machine. From then on, you can only expect the unexpected. The appearance of Bill Cipher only 5 episodes later heightens the mysterious component as his hysterical laugh and creepy seance precedes his appearance. The conflicts between the twins, Gideon, and Bill, represent some of the ongoing plot-lines that are split up with more trivial episodes to keep any devoted fan guessing where these plot points could lead.

Secret Codes and Hidden Messages

Once you notice that there are secret messages in almost every episode of the show, you realize how much there is to discover about the series. Beginning with the infamous theme music to each episode, the theme song pans to a scene of pine trees where a figure (resembling Bigfoot?) can be seen only upon close observation. Only after watching the entirety of the program would a watcher know that Dipper’s introduction contains the Weirdmageddon creature 8-Ball, and that the group of photos presented gives the reader a hint at what is to come in terms of enemies our protagonists will face, and finally, the end of the theme song includes a voice that, when reversed, says “three letters back” which can be used to solve the cryptograms at the end of each episode. Also, in the 4 Weirdmageddon episodes at the end of the series, the theme song switches making the characters of Bill’s invasion the center of the introduction in a much darker approach to the show. The code in the theme song changes throughout the series to help give fans a hint as to how to solve the cryptograms:

  • The code changes in the episode “Double Dipper” where the message says “Switch A with Z.”
  • The whisper changes to “26 letters” in the “Bottomless Pit!” episode which is a reference to the “A1z26” style substitution cryptogram which uses numbers to stand for letters of the alphabet.
  • The episode “Scary-oke” at the beginning of Season 2 changes the whisper from “Key Vigenère” referring to the cipher at the end of the episode that requires a keyword hidden in each episode.
  • In “Not What He Seems” the whisper is changed to “not what he seems.”
  • Finally, in “The Tale of Two Stans” the whisper changes back to “Key Vigenère.”

There are also multiple recurring references to the creator of Gravity Falls, Alex Hirsch throughout the series including a stamp with the number 618 in the theme song which shows up throughout episodes in the show. One part of his face is also included in the pictures that are thrown down at the end of the introduction and if there is a side character that a watcher does not recognize (considering that Gravity Falls is a small town) it is probably a cartoon representation of Alex Hirsch that he decided to include.

Another example of secret messages are when Alex Hirsch actually addresses them in certain episodes. In particular, in the episode “Boyz Crazy” Robbie attempts to get Wendy back after standing her up by letting her listen to a song that “he wrote.” Dipper is suspicious of how this song “magically” made her like Robbie again so him and Stan find out that by reversing the song, there was a hidden message convincing her to take him back.

Another element of Gravity Falls that is not exactly explained as a secret message are Mabel’s assortment of sweaters. There are times when these sweaters come in handy, for example, when her sweater with a light bulb is used to light the underground hideout in “Into the Bunker” and her sweater with scout’s honor on the front and double-crossed fingers on the back when she lies to Grunkle Stan to get him to face his fears. Even if the sweaters don’t prove to be particularly useful in each episode, they usually represent either Mabel’s mood throughout the episode or are a symbol of the theme of the episode. Such as, a seahorse and bubbles in the “Into the Deep End” episode to represent Mermando and her light-pink butterfly sweater to represent her feelings of losing her freedom to Gideon in “The Hand that Rocks the Mabel.”

Love Interests

On another note, Mabel’s love interests prove to be a story-driving element of the show. Let me give you a run-down of who and how:

  • Gnomes: When Mabel’s first boyfriend, “Norman” who she had hoped might be a vampire turned out to be a bunch of gnomes who were in need of a queen, the twins had to fight off in the very first episode which was their first example of the theme that “nothing is as it seems.”
  • Xyler and Craz: Her dream boys, these characters appear in the show when Mabel is in altered states of reality such as when her, Dipper, and Soos enter Stan’s mind to free him from Bill and Gideon and in Mabel’s bubble during Weirdmageddon. They serve as her fantasy that (kinda?) comes true. The one thing that makes me uneasy about them is that they help Mabel and her family on two separate occasions but when they are freed from Mabel’s bubble they are sitting on a bench staring at the destruction in the real world when Xyler says “Jean-Paul Sartre postulated that every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness, and dies by chance.” I’m still wondering what this means.
  • Gabe Benson: All I have to say about this sock-puppeteer is that he is a freak and I have no idea how he is relevant to the progression of this series other than the epic Bill Cipher face-off during Mabel’s attempts to impress Gabe. He sucks and he is weird and gross.
  • Gideon Gleeful: There is so much to cover in regards to Gideon that I don’t even know where to begin. Anyone would agree that he is a boss and that although his feelings for Mabel are definitely legit, he is power-hungry and crazy enough to get stuck in adult jail as a 12-year-old which honestly says enough.
  • Mermando the Merman: This short-lived fling does not really go anywhere, however, I think that Dipper’s sacrifice of his job at the Gravity Falls pool to help Mabel return Mermando to the ocean shows that the twins would do anything for each other which is a theme the entire show is built around, who you can trust and who you can’t.

Ironically, all of these crushes come back to haunt Mabel in the “Love God” episode when the Love God uses them to distract her which shows that these “Summer Romances” are her ultimate weakness (also shown when she considers erasing these memories in “The Society of the Blind Eye”).

Aside from Mabel’s assortment of crushes, Dipper’s unwavering “thing” for Wendy is definitely a point of contention in multiple parts of the series as it makes an age distinction between the “tweens” and the actual teenagers.

Dark Pasts

In reference to dark pasts, we of course have Grunkle Stan, whose backstory is explained in full in the “Tale of Two Stans” as the disappointment of a brother in reference to his twin Stan(ley) who is actually the writer of the journals, the one who constructed the now-Mystery Shack, and who opened to the portal that began Weirdmageddon in the first place. I am not equipped to get into the entire backstory of these characters, but as the show reveals more and more about them, the important thing to realize is that every character is dealing with something different and is driven by the actions of their past.

Teenage Angst

Another important theme throughout the entirety of Gravity Falls in that of teenage angst and growing up. The show begins at the beginning of the summer when Dipper and Mabel are excited for their 13th birthday. Throughout the show, they are wishing that they could be older, old enough to be accepted by their teenage friends, and old enough to understand the motivations of the people in Gravity Falls. As my Dad would say, this show creates a connection between the older generation and the younger generation [quote]. The dynamic between the older people (Grunkle Stan and Grunkle Ford), [kinda] adults (Soos), teenagers (Wendy), and tweens (Dipper and Mabel) makes this show undeniable relatable for all people.

Gravity Falls is the bridge between the older generation and the younger generation.

— Rob Hutson

Some more notable people that I want to mention are:

  • Candy and Grenda
  • Waddles and Gompers
  • Deputy Derland and Sheriff Blubbs (All I have to say about that their relationship is that it is arguably the best in the show).
  • Pacifica Northwest (The Northwest family secret is a whole other story).

Overall, the show’s episodes are almost always around 30 minutes meaning that if you feel intrigued, it is not hard to binge (trust me on this, I can’t sit through long seasons of shows with long episodes at all). But, if you got anything from article, you probably got that I have an obsession and know too much about this. All I have to say in response to that is that you might be right but, I don’t have any shame about it. If you are anything like me and want to know anything and everything about this series, this site will be your holy grail. You’re welcome.