When is the next episode going to air?
That’s the question Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch has been asked the most during the show’s two-season run, and the sad thing is that he rarely knew the answer. His adorable animated comedy about two pre-teen twins spending their summer vacation with their cranky uncle Stan at his tourist trap in a mysterious, rural Oregon town premiered on the Disney Channel in June 2012 and switched over to DisneyXD for its second season in August 2014. It emerged as one of those perfect cartoons that can be equally enjoyed by adults and children, with an ever-evolving and deeply layered mythology as well as a tendency toward genre-bending and general sci-fi shenanigans. However, as is surprisingly so often the way with Disney and DisneyXD programming there seemed to be little rhyme or reason to when the show actually aired.
Yet that didn’t seem to matter as Gravity Falls gradually amassed a sizable audience, inspiring countless fans to take to YouTube and social media to put forth their theories on how all of the show’s mysteries would play out. As of last summer, Variety said, “Gravity Falls now accounts for DisneyXD’s top seven regular animated series telecasts of all time in kids 6-11.” The second season premiere was actually the most-watched program in DisneyXD’s history.
However, now that the show is peaking in popularity it’s decided to call it day. Disney is at least giving us the proper heads-up about it, announcing the hour-long series finale will air on Monday, Feb. 15 at 7/6c. It will be preceded by a half-hour retrospective on the series on Monday, Feb. 8, and a 68-hour Gravity Falls marathon starting on Friday, Feb. 12 at 11 pm.
Wait, why is the show ending? Unlike fellow eternal summer animated comedy Phineas & Ferb, Gravity Falls has always been building to a conclusion. Mabel and Dipper were going to get to the bottom of what the heck was going on in that crazy town, and the show’s second season surprisingly answered many of the lingering questions. We now know Stan’s big secret. We know who wrote the book which has been guiding Mabel and Dipper’s investigations. We’ve met the secret big bad at the heart of everything (damn you, Bill).
It sure seemed like the show was wrapping everything up, and rather than finish the story and then simply keep going because the show is so popular Alex Hirsch decided to stick to his original plan, announcing through his Tumblr page (via CartoonBrew):
“The first thing to know is that the show isn’t being cancelled. It’s being finished. This is 100% my choice, and it[’]s something I decided on a very long time ago. I always designed Gravity Falls to be a finite series about one epic summer- a series with a beginning, middle, and end. There are so many shows that go on endlessly until they lose their original spark, or mysteries that are cancelled before they ever get a chance to payoff.
I wanted Gravity Falls to have a mystery that had a real answer, an adventure that had a real climax, and an ending that had a real conclusion for the characters I care so much about. This is very unusual in television and a pretty big experiment, and Disney for their part has been enormously supportive. I know that hits are rare in this business, and its hard to let one of them go, so I’m so grateful that this company has had the vision to let me start (and end) the show the way I always wanted to.”
Kudos to Hirsch for making the choice to walk away now that his story has reached its end, and double kudos to Disney for letting him do that. Hirsch won’t rule out any kind of later revival or one-off special, “[J]ust because I’ve finished the story I wanted to tell doesn’t necessarily mean we will never see Dipper, Mabel, & Stan again. It means that this chapter is closed, and that I, at least for now, am personally done telling their story.”
Get ready to say goodbye to one of animated TV’s best characters: Mabel.