The Real And Ridiculous Notes Gravity Falls Creators Received From Disney

"Gravity Falls" is officially 10 years old! Believe it or not, it's been an entire decade since Disney welcomed us into the world of cryptids and conspiracy with the Pines family and their beloved Mystery Shack. I'll spare you the brief (but very real) existential crisis about the passage of time and the weight of age slowly crushing our youth and instead put the spotlight on the series creator, Alex Hirsch, who decided to celebrate his hit show's 10th birthday as only he could: by annoying the hell out of some Disney executives.

As fans of the series know very well, Disney runs a pretty tight ship, and "Gravity Falls" had a tendency to test its limits with smart and occasionally risqué (per Disney standards) jokes. Sharply written and no stranger to dark humor, "Gravity Falls" championed the kind of absurdity that was celebrated by kids and appreciated by adults. Given the whole "fun for the whole family" corporate vibe, that should be Disney's bread-and-butter, but for Hirsch, it often meant being reined in by some pretty strict script notes. "Reined in" might be a bit of stretch though, because Hirsch was always up for the challenge of pushing back against the notes. 

The result? A ridiculous number of hilarious exchanges between the Hirsch and Disney's Standards and Practices Division. We could only imagine which jokes set them off and what throwaway lines Hirsch fought to defend ... but imagine no longer, because Hirsch gifted fans with a Twitter video that compiles some of the weirdest censorship requests he got from Disney. And trust me, whatever you're imagining, it's a million times funnier.

Alex Hirsch vs the S&P Department

"Ever curious about the fights I had with the Censors on Gravity Falls?" Hirsch asked on Twitter. "I probably shouldn't share this buttttt here are some REAL NOTES from DISNEY S&P and my REAL REPLIES. You are not prepared."

Oh to be a fly on the wall of the Disney S&P offices, where they apparently spend the day in crisis over the term, "Chub Pup." And also have constant contact with someone dubbed the "Disney Animal Consultant." It's hard to believe, but somewhere out in the world is a person who typed out the following message: "Please review Soos' line about dressing as a giant teddy bear. It may call to mind the people who dress up as stuffed animals as a furry fetish." The "Zootopia" jokes really write themselves, fellas. Better yet, just think through that note and take a stroll through any Disney-branded park: maybe the S&P team should set their sights on the Mickey Mouse mascots next.

This is only a fraction of the absurd notes that Hirsch received. Or, in his own words, "this is the TIP of the iceberg. (Note, "tip" sometimes refers to the tip of a penis. This has inappropriate connotations. Please revise)."

One message asked Hirsch to remove a scene where a horse has a pipe in its mouth, to which he responded, "Why? Is there a concern we'll influence horses to smoke pipes?" That's actually the best part — for so many of these, Hirsch responded with a very simple question: "Why?" Sometimes it paid off in spades — forced to actually think about the explanation they'd have to write, the S&P department would relent. Other times, they'd actually explain themselves and sound like absolute lunatics. It's sort of a win-win situation.

Gravity Falls tested the Disney limits

That's an awful lot of censorship for a show that once allowed eldritch horror Bill Cipher to say, ​​"How about I shuffle the functions of every hole in your face?" (A threat that he actually follows through on!) But never mind the nightmare-inducing content, Disney has to crack down on "makeout parties"! Seriously though, it's a wonder how Hirsch found the patience to fend off the S&P department, and a relief that he did. Testing Disney's boundaries — in genre, humor, and story — is exactly what made "Gravity Falls" such a delight.

One of Hirsch's most notable wins took time, but is still celebrated by viewers 10 years later. It may seem small, but the relationship between Sheriff Blubs and Deputy Durland was long suspected to be romantic and it wasn't until the series finale that "Gravity Falls" was finally able to confirm their relationship onscreen. Hirsch's censor video includes a note where he was asked to remove a casual interaction between the two because of the unspoken fear that it might be perceived as romantic, but somewhere between that episode and the finale, a little big more progress was made. Since then, there's been a lot more progress in that department, as later evidenced by "The Owl House," but Disney's relationship to LGBTQ+ representation is far from contentious and there's still a very long way to go.