Killing A Main Character In Gravity Falls Was Never On The Table

Don't let the Y-7 rating fool you — just because "Gravity Falls" immediately endeared itself to a young Disney Channel audience doesn't mean it can't win the hearts of full-grown adults too. A coming-of-age story that alternated between utter absurdity and grounded emotional resonance, the delightful animated series from Alex Hirsch tells the story of two siblings solving mysteries in a small, spooky town. Twins Dipper and Mabel Pines expected to spend another boring summer in middle-of-nowhere Gravity Falls, Oregon, with their great-uncle Stan, but instead, they found themselves uncovering conspiracies, battling zombies, besting wizards, and grappling with the fact that their childhood is almost behind them.

It's a collection of silly, manic, and fun misadventures that never fail to toe the "kid-appropriate" line with dark humor. Layered into all of that is a touching story about two siblings overcoming their fears of growing up ."Gravity Falls" has a little something for everyone, so of course, it grew more and more popular as the years went on. But none of that changed the fact that series creator Alex Hirsch outlined a two-season series, and wouldn't stretch the story any further than that.

By the time 2016 rolled around and the series was set to conclude its second and final season, fans were hankering for a sense of what the big send-off had in store. Hirsch, who has long used his Twitter account to connect with fans, through exciting behind-the-scenes tidbits and hints at what's to come in the future, continued on as usual, occasionally blessing fans with nuggets of info. But as so often happens with the internet, sometimes the most innocent tweet has a way of getting out of hand.

Be careful what you tweet

Speaking with TV Insider, Hirsch recalled how one tweet caught the attention of fans and kickstarted endless speculation:

"Early on in the season, just as Season 2 was premiering, out of the thousands and thousands of questions people asked me on Twitter, someone asked, "Will any characters die this season?" I said, "Yes, at least one character will die this season." Like a tiny snowball rolling down a hill gaining size and importance, by the end of the season, I was reading people saying, 'Alex Hirsch promised that Dipper or Mabel would die in the last episode. We demand death.'

Ah yes, more proof that the internet is powerful and terrifying. Before Hirsch could fully absorb the weight of his words, things spiraled right out of control. He added, "It was strange to watch one casual and truthful answer gain imaginary significance and turn into a full-fledged prophecy by fans."

In the end, none of the main characters on "Gravity Falls" died. They were never really in danger of losing their lives anyway. Sure, the Pines twins were frequently having their existence threatened by the eldrich horror that is Bill Cipher, but death wasn't on the table. Those simply aren't the stakes of this story. Hirsch said:

"Gravity Falls is a show about growing up, and the main arc of the series is to have our characters deal with that challenge: What does it mean to grow up? What does it mean to change? Can you grow older without losing that spark of childhood inside of you? The kids, in my heart, were never in danger of dying or anything like that."

I know the series is already concluded, but that's still a relief! Killing Dipper or Mabel would be unthinkable and entirely unnecessary. Life and death aren't the only stakes that matter.

The real stakes of Gravity Falls

When they aren't trying to defeat the triangular demon that looms over their summer vacation, the twins at the center of "Gravity Falls" are grappling with everything from family drama to newfound friendships to the childhood horror of realizing that you won't be a kid forever. What could be more life-or-death than the concept of becoming a teenager?

Those internal crises were always the show's most interesting obstacles. Viewers were less worried about whether or not the twins would make it through the summer (of course they will) and more concerned about who each character would become when it was all said and done. Would Mabel still dread becoming a teen? Would Dipper keep trying to fast-forward through childhood? And as they enter a new chapter in their lives, what would become of their relationship?

It's best laid out in the climactic four-part finale, "Weirdmageddon," which sees Bill Cipher crossing over into the real world and plunging Gravity Falls into chaos. We know, of course, that the Pines will be victorious in the end, but the question is how? And the answer very meaningfully sees the other pair of twins, "Grunkles" Ford and Stan setting aside their grievances to come together and make the ultimate sacrifice. It also sees Mabel and Dipper mending their relationship for the better.

No one needs to die for the series to reach that dramatic point of climax. Or for it to emotionally devastate its audience.

'I personally prefer the Pines' alive.'

None of this is to say that death is nonexistent in "Gravity Falls." Villains like Bill are frequently destroyed after their defeat (see: dipper's many deceased clones or the sentient wax figures who melt in the sun), but for Hirsch, that's very different.

"I definitely feel, whether it's TV or movies or anything, that a punishment as grand as death deserves a crime as grand as such. In our show, for the most part, except for one or two gags, when a character like Bill is killed off, it's only because they were threatening to kill many, many other characters. I don't believe any of our main cast would deserve a punishment like that. I personally prefer the Pines alive."

And to those insane few who were fixated on seeing the Pines worry about their lives, Hirch has the perfect response: "The kids who were desperately praying to see some main character die, I would say [to them], "Go outside. It's a beautiful day."