Gravity Falls, over the past three-and-a-half years, made its mark as one of the most beloved cartoons on TV. It’s mystical plot, it’s combination of highbrow and lowbrow comedy, it’s mixture of scathing comedy with deep drama, all of it combined to make one of the biggest cult hits on TV.
Now, it’s over, and it will be missed.
(Yes, I am aware that it’s been over for a flipping month. Schoolwork happened. Sorry about that.)
I do intend to write one final requiem for the show before leaving it for (at least) a while, one where I lay out why I loved Gravity Falls so much. Before I do so, I have decided to do a personal ranking of every… single… episode. I did it for Season 1, and I did it for the first half of Season 2.
Now, begins my largest-ever list. Note that this ranking represents my current thoughts on the episode – my reviews from before might be outdated. (Also, the name is to keep it within the “Top X” title.)
40. Roadside Attraction
This is one of the few episodes that actively got worse the more I thought about it. “Roadside Attraction” is harmed by it’s heavy-handed (if well-meaning) moral, it’s arguably hypocritical execution, and it’s lack of well-executed comedy. However, the most damning thing about it is that, aside from sinking CanDip as a “ship” (and developing Candy a little bit as a character), it was an entirely pointless episode, taking up space that could have been used to flesh out other ongoing plot lines or characters. If (or, rather, when) I go back and re-watch the entire series (unless I’m doing a re-review), this is probably the only episode I’ll jump over.
39. The Love God
Yes, Robbie got some wicked character development, and the Love God was one hell of a hilarious character. (John DiMaggio is awesome.) Unfortunately, “The Love God” suffers from other character mishandling, idiotic moments, and an ending that seemed to leave an awkward taste in my mouth on both fronts. Less skippable than “Roadside Attraction”, but not watching it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
38. Dipper vs. Manliness
Its critique of hyper-masculinity is pretty quirky, but the plot itself – A and B – were both executed in a rather boring, pretty cliché way. ABBA jokes do not a good episode make. It launched Mabel’s bond with Stan, but it did so in a rather boring way. While I would watch it over “Roadside Attraction”, skipping it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
37. Little Gift Shop of Horrors
The weaker of the two “anthology” episodes. I personally prefer it when my episodes have, y’know, a sense of continuity. Otherwise decent, but even without the continuity issues, it still would’ve landed in the bottom quarter – weak character development sorta hides behind the great animation and Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
36. The Stanchurian Candidate
This was almost a brilliant political satire – especially in the wake of Donald Trump’s candidacy for president. Unfortunately, a rather weak ending, weak jokes, and a scene that might render this entire episode pointless… well, it renders the episode somewhat pointless.
35. Boss Mabel
It does have a decent message on the concepts of stern control vs. loose management, and “Cash Wheel” was funny, but other than that… not a whole lot. A bit of foresight into Mabel’s relationship with Stan was cool, but otherwise, skipping it won’t cost you much. It’s cute, but… meh.
The first, last, and only Gravity Falls holiday episode (unless you count “Little Gift Shop of Horrors”). It did give a look at the slow separation between Mabel and Dipper, but it suffered from the use of the “liar revealed” cliché and the re-hash of the Dipper-Mabel-Wendy dynamic found in “Time Travelers Pig”. Thankfully, the episode was otherwise still pretty funny, albeit not as much as others.
33. The Deep End
A comparatively blasé affair that has Mabel meet and crush on a merman, Dipper get a job and have it threatened by his crush on Wendy, and Stan and Gideon act like idiots to each other. It’s color by numbers, although the hilarious Mr. Poolcheck certainly buoys it. Will say, though, that Mabel’s line of giving up somebody you love was a bit poignant.
32. The Time Travelers Pig
I should just hide my entire first year of the blog, and this episode – or at least, my review thereof – is a prime reason why. I hated the episode when I first reviewed it – as in, I actually gave it a failing score. Recent re-watches have made me a bit kinder. While I still think it’s flawed (it did seem to simplify the main trio a bit too much for my tastes, and the causality issues weren’t even addressed) and consider it a bit overrated (hence it’s rather low placement), I can’t really say I dislike the episode anymore.
31. Fight Fighters
Much like “Time Travelers Pig”, I did find this episode goes down better on future re-watches. Hindsight has made the Dipper/Robbie conflict more tolerable, and the video-game jokes are hilarious and well crafted. I still feel Mabel got short-changed when it came to plot development, however, although even then, hindsight has shown her bond with Stan definitely developed in this episode.
30. Double Dipper
Pacifica’s introductory episode (which sets her up as a snob only to deconstruct her in Season 2) is also the first episode to show just how insane Dipper’s crush on Wendy could go – willing to do anything just to practice “techniques”, rather than, y’know, talk to her. Pretty funny, if a bit of a simple episode.
So shoot me – I placed one part of the three-part series finale pretty damn close to the bottom of the pack. I weigh it heavier because of its importance as a series finale, yet it seemed to go through the motions quite a bit for my tastes. The backstory for Dipper and Mabel was rather nice, though. And if you think this is low, put this in perspective – I had this closer to the bottom when it first premiered.
28. Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons
Ford’s second episode does a sizable job at exploring his character, making him more civil than the comparatively arrogant character that left the portal in “A Tale of Two Stans”. That, and I did like the send-ups to “Dungeons and Dragons”. Not outstanding compared to the rest of the show, but pretty good on its own merits.
27. Little Dipper
The first inklings of a schism between Dipper and Mabel lie in this episode. The return of Gideon Gleeful fleshes him out even further, demonstrating that his distaste for Stan runs deeper, and that his desire for the Mystery Shack is truly intense.
26. Northwest Mansion Mystery
In spite of a rather, well, insipid B-plot revolving around an Austrian Baron (which cost this episode a few spots), this episode is well known for fleshing out Pacifica, exposing that her family is trying to preserve the odious Northwest traits of selfishness, greed, classism, and arrogance. The abuse she experiences also turns her into a tragic figure, yet one who manages to break the chain. Oh, and the ending is a setup for one hell of a fantastic episode.
Oh, I should bring up, for the regular readers who haven’t noticed (assuming I have regular readers in the first place), that whenever I mentioned this episode, I swapped out the last word – this a reference to the title being listed as “Northwest Mansion Noir”. As of this post, that joke is being retired. It was stupid, anyway.
25. The Legend of the Gobblewonker
The second episode brings Soos in the spotlight, teaming him up for a comic romp with Dipper and Mabel. The mystery was pretty cool, and the resolution would have an impact on future episodes. Stan’s plot also explored a bit of pathos in his character. Not an outstanding episode, but still, a pretty good one.
24. Tourist Trapped
First episodes should always be weaker than most episodes afterwards, as that indicates that the writers, well, improved. Well, here’s the pilot, a fairly respectable 24th place. Not too optimal, but not bad on it’s own merits. It establishes the setting, the characters, and the mystery, and does so in a fantastic fashion. Given that this episode has the gnomes and the vending machine, well, we’re definitely just sorting out which very good ones are less good than the other very good ones.
23. The Land Before Swine
Stan’s first entry into downright heroism shows him rescue a pig. It’s much more awesome than it sounds. That, plus a rift between Soos and Dipper, plus another rift between Mabel and Stan, has this squeeze out a spot above the pilot episode.
22. The Golf War
Pacifica gets fleshed out, thus ensuring that Alex Hirsch kept the promise that he made before the season started. That piece of character development managed to combine with a quirky plot that a complete dork (read, me) could interpret as an analogy on nationalism and European politics, to make a pretty hysterical half-hour of TV. RIP, Big Henry.
21. Blendin’s Game
A time travel episode, this episode shows Dipper and Mabel’s actions coming back to bite them, what with Blendin wanting the two dead. This episode, though, is more well known for showing Soos’s more tragic backstory. Prepare. For. GLOBNAR!!!!!
20. Irrational Treasure
Historical inaccuracies aside (because I am a history nerd), this episode was a pretty cool adventure – one that exposed Pacifica’s establishment status as being built on sand, and one that gave development to Durland and Blubs. Nothing like a political thriller to mark the midway point in the list.
19. Bottomless Pit!
Canon, it is not. Funny, though, it is. “Bottomless Pit” borrows from the Treehouse of Horror and Anthology of Interest style of storytelling to create three hysterical stories, all of which either flesh out the characters, or at the very least, create a lot of laughs, as seen above. Thanks for the laughs, Footbot.
Season 2 kicked off with a horror movie aesthetic – one that completely overshadowed the celebratory aspects of the “return of the Mystery Shack”. Zombies, the government, and cheesy pop rock – truly, this episode showed that Season 2 was going to be a thriller. Indeed, it lived up to this episode’s tonal foreshadowing.
17. Soos and the Real Girl
A rather disturbing look at an emotionally abusive relationship, “Soos and the Real Girl” is fantastic. A send-up of dating simulations, it also gives Soos a bit of the limelight, allowing him to shine as both a comedic character and as the victim of a genuine problem that so many men and women face. That, and Stan tries to steal a Chuck-E-Cheese animatronic. Damn it, I love that plotline, stupid as it was.
16. Weirdmageddon I
Part I of the three-part finale, a lot of this is pure action. Pure. Action. Bill goes mad, Dipper and Wendy are on the ropes, and are in a race with Gideon to try to get to Mabel. By far, the most action packed episode of the show. Oh, it’s excellent action.
15. Sock Opera
Honestly, this would’ve placed above the top 30 based on “Bipper” alone (“Human Soda! I’m gonna drink it like a person!”), but this episode has quite a bit more to it. This episode thrusts Mabel’s more selfish worldview into the spotlight, and has it (indirectly) put Dipper on the brink of death. Oh, and Bill gets involved. Hilariously dark.
The third episode is a pretty quirky mystery. Honestly, it beats out “Sock Opera” for a rather stupid reason – John Oliver. Man is brilliant. Even without him, though, it’s a hilarious, hilarious episode, one that helps flesh out the town as a whole, and actually ends in a rather terrifying manner – the first this show had.
13. The Hand That Rocks the Mabel
The odious Gideon makes his debut in the show’s first real “sublime” episode. His “façade” of being this cute psychic is rapidly peeled away, exposing him as a psychopath who manipulates anybody possible, and is willing to declare revenge to keep his power over the town. This set the stage for the rest of the season.
12. Boyz Crazy
Yes, I still think that this episode is a hidden gem, even though my opinion about it has declined from “Greatest Episode of Gravity Falls ever”. While it contributes little on the surface, and the answer to the CD mystery is still left a bit ambiguous, deep down, it is probably the most tragic outing during season 1. Dipper is forced to confront his insensitive behavior and realize that Wendy is not an object to be won, Mabel has reality finally confront her without any sort of “consolation prize”, and both the CD and the Boyz are prime examples of the show’s macabre elements. Honestly, it was a re-watch of the episode that made me realize the complexities of the show. Oh, there’s also the merciless mockery of the music industry. It might seem strange, but “Boyz Crazy” transformed my love of the show to downright admiration. It was also the first review I ever loved posting – the writing practically flowed from me.
I should bring up at this point, though, that in my review, I seemed to jump to the conclusion that Robbie was going to perform a horrible act with the CD player. In hindsight, I was going through a sorta SJW-ish phase at the time. (I could justify it by the fact that no follow-up to the episode was out yet, but still.) That conclusion that might have been quite a bit brash of me. If I crossed the line, I am sorry. I still like the review, though.
11. The Inconveniencing
The very first Gravity Falls episode I ever watched, re-watching it reminds me just how fantastic the show is. It contains a fun mystery, genuine horror, a quirky twist on the supernatural, and all that jazz. And much as the WenDip ship plot has been blasted by fans, it also provided a decent analysis of his attempts to come off as mature. “Dusk 2 Dawn” was, for me, the Hotel California – I checked into the show, and never left.
10. The Last Mabelcorn
ALWAYS… I WANT TO BE WITH… must. Erase. Erasure. From. Brain!
Uh, I mean… “The Last Mabelcorn” is a great bit of Mabel analysis – deconstructing her affable persona and lending her a great bit of self-doubt, as well as allowing us to see what makes a well-written character, and how flaws impact our views of these characters. The ending was a bit too neat for that plot, but the B-plot more than makes up for it.
9. Gideon Rises
In spite of the ending being somewhat predictable, the rest of the episode was one epic season finale, showing Gideon at his most dangerous and odious. It reflects on Grunkle Stan’s self-awareness that he’s not the best guardian ever, it’s fun of quirky callbacks, and the entire atmosphere is just epic.
7. Weirdmageddon Part III
Gravity Falls comes to an end in style, finally resolving the damning Ford-Stan chasm, having Stan perform an awesome gambit against Bill, and twisting around the show’s mythology once thought out. The battle, in itself, was awesome. It’s a nitpick, but the only thing keeping it out of the top 5 was the fact that the ending may have been a bit too neat. Still, it’s a brilliant end to a brilliant summer.
6. Carpet Diem
A character piece at heart, it’s probably the best “one-off” episode in the show, with a reflection on the dynamic between Dipper and Mabel. It’s the first episode to really showcase a larger wedge being placed between them. Are they drifting apart as they get older? That combines with one of my favorite “Bodyswap” executions of all time and mixes in great Grunkle Stan material. The end result is one of the most memorable, hilarious, heartfelt episodes of the show.
5. Into the Bunker
Probably the most “definitive” horror episode that the writers of Gravity Falls ever produced, this episode brings Wendy into the motley crew of Mystery Twins (and Soos). They kick ass… sort of. Genuine horror, a brilliant performance by Mark Hamill, and one of the most heartfelt yet bittersweet endings this show ever had, land this episode at a solid #5.
Bill Cipher’s debut is actually one of the most well-produced character studies in animated TV – not only for Grunkle Stan, but also for Dipper. Showing Stan’s tragic backstory, and his relationship with Dipper, it makes the former more sympathetic and gives the latter a moment when he tries to abandon heroism for a seemingly legitimate reason. Oh, and Bill and the Mystery Shack gang have one awesome battle.
3. Society of the Blindeye
A thriller from beginning to end, “The Society of the Blindeye” peeled away at the once-mocked madman Fiddleford McGucket, showing him as a tragic figure who drove himself into madness on his own volition. Beyond that, it also showcased just how the citizens of the town can stand living in the center of insanity. And it’s horrifying. Easily the third darkest episode of the show – although it is but a mere coincidence that it is also my third favorite episode… ok, maybe it’s not.
2. Not What He Seems
Yes, this episode didn’t make it to No. 1. Feel free to write me angry letters longer than President Harrison’s inauguration speech. Still, that’s not an indictment on the episode as much as it is praise for the actual Number One spot, because “Not What He Seems” is one well-produced half-hour. Very well produced, actually. Beautiful tension, an excellent climax, thought-provoking actions from the Mystery Twins, all culminating in the resolution of one of the great questions this show presented – who wrote the journals? Many have even cited it on par with “Ozymandias” as the greatest TV episode of all time. What can beat it?
1. Dipper and Mabel vs. The Future
I thought long and hard about this one – which is to say, as soon as I began writing the post, I knew that this would take the top spot. What other episode broke down the entire show’s façade, the entire town of Gravity Falls, Oregon, in one large sweep? The drama is amazing, the character development sublime, the plot is fantastic, and the overall pacing of the episode is incredible. The schism between the Pines Twins reaches a head, and the consequences are dire. And, damn it, the ending is one of the most tragic and mortifying moments of anything I’ve ever seen. “Dipper and Mabel Vs. The Future” is closer to perfection than any other Gravity Falls episode (which is no easy feat) and is in my personal Top 10 list of the greatest TV episodes ever. Dead. Serious.
My next post, again, will be a requiem for Gravity Falls. It will likely be my last Gravity Falls post for a while.