Despite being aimed for children, Gravity Falls grabbed older teens and young adults. With the help of fan hypotheses and guesswork, the show’s numerous mysteries were solved. After nearly a decade, the show still retains a loyal fan base. There was even a global treasure hunt, with clues appearing in Los Angeles, Russia, and even Japan.
Gravity Falls completed its second season in February 2016, and Disney determined the show wasn’t successful enough to make a film. Even though he has a multi-year contract with Netflix to explore new projects, Alex Hirsch isn’t giving up on Dipper and Mabel’s story.
“My ideal, if I had a magic wand, would be to build a very awesome Gravity Falls video game that is really, really in-depth to the narrative of the series and contains new canon,” Hirsch tells Inverse.
Hirsch explains his untold past, how he smuggled secret codes into episodes, and his idea for a Gravity Falls video game in a long Zoom interview.I was a nervous child. The Weekly World News was a popular conspiracy tabloid in the 1990s, when I grew up. So instead of establishing friends, I spent my time searching for cosmic codes.
As a child, I was fascinated by the idea of subliminal messages in media. The belief that in the 1960s they thought you could hear satanic messages if you played records backwards. I enjoyed the idea that the world was a gigantic Easter egg hunt waiting to be solved by someone odd.
Did Disney Like Your Idea of Cryptograms or Easter Eggs That Paid Off Months Later?
My timing was perfect. With a new lineup of animated programming and fresh new voices, the Disney Channel was eager to redefine its identity.
The hidden codes and secret messages were never really a priority in the channel’s conversations. This is a humorous, entertaining character comedy with action and adventure. All those small hidden components would be stuff I would add late at night, like 3 a.m., just to see if I could sneak something in there for fun. As long as the concert was still enjoyable for general audiences, I earned my dessert to include the extra weird aspects.
We had no idea how nicely it would go. Because it was a kid’s channel, I figured only two or three people would detect the secrets. And I know kids are smart, but I also know they have a lot going on, so I had no clue this would be so popular. For Season 2, I doubled down and tried to provide as much attention-bait as possible to the fan community.
How Did You Keep the People Guessing Without Spoiling the Show?
For example, Dipper squeals whenever Stanford acknowledges being the author, and Soos demands Stanford’s backstory coincides with his writing.
After the show ends, there’s the time spent wondering and theorising. To produce a show that could be enjoyed in that way. One of the issues of modern fandom is that fans are so enthused about their participation that they can lose track of what comes from the show and what comes from themselves.
The internet’s nature is that all information is equal, because it’s all on your phone. It doesn’t matter if it’s from the president, a TV show, or an 11-year-old. So it’s quite easy for a piece of fan art to be mistaken for a screenshot of an episode, leading to confusion when it’s revealed that’s not what the programme is about.
It can go too far, but I believe it’s a tiny group of individuals who appear larger because they’re so noisy. Most fans I meet are humorous, clever, sophisticated, savvy folks who adore and connect with the material. As a result, I try not to focus too much on the extremes.
Changing a Plot or Backstory to Meet Fan Theories?
Before I started writing the series, I had a plan for how the novel would end and what the major plot beats would be. So I knew I had to pay off my debts and keep to my series’ framework.
I was more interested in how people reacted to the series than anyone’s specific guesses regarding mysteries. People’s reactions to characters and emotions. If I discover that people aren’t as interested in a character as I imagined they would be, I may spend less time creating that character in Season 2.
In Season 1, when people started responding to Bill Cipher, I realised it. I always intended for him to be a key part of Season 2, but I enhanced his presence because I knew people would demand it. But I didn’t change the story.\
Is There a Reversal? A Character You Didn’t Get Enough Time With in the Show?
Yes, I adore the Pines family and the people of Gravity Falls. They dwell in my head and heart, and even though the play is ended, they still occasionally speak to me. If I ever write additional stories in that realm, I’d like to explore some new dynamics.
We never produced a full episode about Wendy [Linda Cardellini] — and it wasn’t for want of trying. We tried a handful of them while writing and none of them worked. I could have cracked it with more time, but we always have to consider scheduling and budget. And we’ve got a lot more stories to tell, but I believe if I ever did more Gravity Falls, I’d use the opportunity to get to know Wendy better as a character.
The Journal Number 3 and the new comic continue to tell stories in the world of the show, even though you’ve stated that you finished it on your own terms and do not plan a third season. Would you like to see more Gravity Falls stories in a certain format?
I adore experimenting with these characters. If I had a magic wand, I’d build a killer Gravity Falls video game that delves deep into the series’ lore and contains fresh canon that’s been circling the series, but I’ve never found a home for it.
Disney, from what I understand, has stopped its interactive section and guards their IP fiercely. And I’ve never got an opportunity to work with these characters in a video game. This is one of the reasons I wish I owned Gravity Falls. If I did, I’d team up with a sick indie studio to develop the best Gravity Falls game ever. Because I don’t own Gravity Falls, it’s up to Disney to determine what to do with it.
Does Gravity Falls Help You Prepare for Your Secret Netflix Projects?
My first series was Gravity Falls. I was in my early twenties and learning to create scripts, so it was like boot camp or trial by fire. Everything I know about entertainment I learnt from that profession, from writing, producing, voicing, directing, and observing what worked and what didn’t.
I’m really happy to be working at Netflix right now, and I’m participating in several secret projects I can’t discuss. Gravity Falls fans know that when I put my heart into something, it typically turns out well. So I hope they join me on my next trip when the time comes to reveal it.
Working on Gravity Falls Aided Your Present Projects?
I definitely have the benefit of experience when it comes to knowing what works and who to hire. But writing is always difficult.There are so many books, lectures, and presentations about screenwriting, characters, and television. But starting something new is always a struggle if you want to do it well. Making anything that stands the test of time demands humility, honesty, and feedback. Anyone who says it’s easy is probably not giving it their all.