Gravity Falls is an animated series, debuted in 2012, concluded in 2016 and is the brainchild of creator Alex Hirsch. The series revolves around two children, Dipper and Mabel Pines (twins siblings) going to Gravity Falls, Oregon during one summer to spend time with their great uncle Stan Pines (nicknamed Grunkle Stan). Gravity Falls, the town, seems like a normal, average small town until it’s discovered to be a hotspot of various supernatural/paranormal activity. From gnomes, to Bigfoot sightings, zombies, secrets, family drama, to a being who calls himself Bill Cipher, Gravity Falls was one hell of an animated show for Disney.
So we’re going to briefly talk about it.
As much as wiki identifies it as a comedy, mystery, and action adventure series, which it is, I wanted to also mention that Gravity Falls has a lot of horror mixed in. For a younger audience, they may have (not) caught onto it but for older adults, I was really surprised at certain moments in the episodes that truly were frightening, and deep dove into the horror genre pool. And it isn’t just “jump scares”, it’s well written moments of creepiness and tension.
The inspiration from this post actually comes from season two, episode 10 titled “Northwest Mansion Mystery”. In the episode, Mabel’s rival Pacifica Northwest comes to Dipper to help them get rid of the curse surrounding the Northwest mansion during a celebration that only the “fancy” and “acceptable” people could be invited. There’s a scene where Dipper and Pacifica are trapped in a room with many taxidermy animals and then they say “ancient sins”, start bleeding red liquid that is NOT wine and I distinctly remember going “WHAT” at the moment. It reminded me of a creepy moment from the film Akira (such a good anime, please go see this film if you haven’t) where one of our pro antagonist Tetsuo Shima was in a hospital/clinic like room recovering and he starts to see little toys start to move. Then it escalates when a large teddy bear is in the room and it starts to leak. It leaks milk, which is scarier than blood to be honest.
I went on a mini tangent. Back to Gravity Falls.
Beyond that ONE scene, let’s talk about Bill Cipher. Um, probably one of the best cartoon villains I’ve seen in a while but also one of the most terrifying. Don’t let the yellow triangle fool you, he caused a lot of psychological horror and mental disruption. You can throw in emotional and physical but thinking about Dipper, Grunkle Ford and even McGucket, that kind of energy, really fucked them up. And let’s also mention that in the finale, “Weirdmaggedon 3: Take Back the Falls“, Bill just casually says “I have some children I need to make into corpses”. Again, WHAT. Bill is completely terrifying.
Gravity Falls is a cartoon that restored my faith in animation. That and ATLA (Avatar the Last Airbender). I grew up in the 90s and cartoons then don’t compare to what I’ve seen now. Granted, since Gravity Falls, I think Bob’s Burgers, Rick & Morty, Adventure Time and Steven Universe, have garnered my attention and are great storytelling cartoons. GF does that but it also has the spooky element that I enjoy. A little horror tossed in there and since there is no “Halloween holiday” aka the obligatory Halloween episode, every episode is full of mythical creatures, monsters, a psychotic triangle guy, rituals, science, clay and wax figures, zombies, the list goes on and on.
Watch Gravity Falls if you haven’t. I assume it’s on Disney+ but it is available on dvd/blu-ray, youtube has GF shorts (Mabel’s Guide To…, Fixin it with Soos, Dipper’s Guide to the Unexplained) to dip your toes into the GF lake. It’s a well written show with a great yet open conclusion. The characters development, the different adventures, the relationships, the villains and side characters are just as important to all these elements.
Just be aware that there are some horrific moments scattered throughout the series that will catch you off guard.