When Gravity Falls went into its spring hiatus this March, it did so after the biggest cliffhanger in the animated series’ history. (The show returns to Disney XD Monday, July 13 at 8:30 p.m.) It was a cliffhanger that also vindicated the work of countless online sleuths: As theorized by fans on Reddit and YouTube (and suggested onscreen since the beginning of the show), local crank/tourist-trap operator “Grunkle” Stan Pines has a twin brother, who has emerged from interdimensional limbo bearing a six-fingered left hand and the voice of J.K. Simmons.
But a second pair of Pines twins isn’t the only subject of speculation among Gravity Falls fans. And even before “Not What He Seems” made it a reality, “the other Stan” was one of the more plausible hypotheses cooked up by the show’s audience. A series hinging on supernatural mysteries, littered with clues, puzzles, cryptograms, and Easter eggs, Gravity Falls inspires imaginations to run roughshod across the internet, as fans leap from the barest hints of evidence to increasingly wild conclusions. But they were right about Stanley and Stanford, so what’s to say that any of the following, seemingly ludicrous theories are off-base or incorrect? All lack of in-show, in-universe, in-canon confirmation aside, of course.
First depicted in the show’s intro sequence (before being brought to life in “Dreamscaperers,”) Bill Cipher is a dream demon with seemingly malicious intents for the Pines. “Seemingly malicious” because he’s a bit of a trickster-god type—but also because maybe he is a Pines? Bill has previously possessed Dipper’s body, a possession that some keen observers argue did not end with season two’s “Sock Opera.” Bill’s still in Dipper’s body, or so go the conclusion drawn from the elongated pupils (and elongated face, hair, fingers…) Dipper gains after Stan’s underground portal is opened. Follow that idea down a separate rabbit hole, and you arrive at the theory that Dipper and Bill merge much later in life, as the former grows older and becomes the latter, who then travels back in time to Gravity Falls to prevent his younger self from delving into the unknown.
Part of a larger theory strung together by YouTube user The Sqoou, the idea that Mabel has a secret lookalike is both stubbornly persistent and wildly controversial within fan circles. And its biggest sticking point stems from a single word: “Lebam.” There’s purported evidence of a second Mabel in a Gravity Falls short and a Breakfast Club-inspired dance sequence, but she didn’t have a name until a bunch of messages in bottles came pouring out of a pool filter at the conclusion of “The Deep End.” The letters marked “LEBAM” could’ve been an error in animation, but the show has so primed viewers to look for hidden messages that the faithful latched onto the Lebam name as definitive proof of a Mabel doppelgänger, a thread that could lead through a magic looking glass, or possibly a clone-producing copier. To those on the other side of the argument, Lebam is merely the one-word answer to the question, “What’s the worst Gravity Falls fan theory you’ve heard so far?”
Fateful words from Gravity Falls’ series premiere, from a journal entry on the undead: “Known for their pale skin and bad attitudes, most are mistaken for teenagers.” Teenagers like resident mood machine Robbie Valentino, who fronts a band called Robbie V. And The Tombstones and once sat in a van with “ZOMBIES RULE” written on its roof. Ergo: The pasty beanpole is one of the undead, despite his absence from Gravity Falls’ most recent brush with invading hordes of zombies. This theory goes hand-in-hand with the specious notion that pint-sized shyster Li’l Gideon is a vampire: Just because Gravity Falls is a place full of supernatural phenomena doesn’t mean it’s a place populated by supernatural phenomena.
In one scene of the Rick And Morty episode “Close Rick-Counters Of The Rick Kind,” a team of alternate-dimension Ricks and Morties are surrounded by swirling green portals—one of which produces a coffee mug, a notebook, and a pen. Months later, when Gravity Falls’ “Society Of The Blind Eye” premiered, Stan lost those very same items to his own portal, a bridging of animated worlds made possible by the friendship between Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch and Rick And Morty co-creator Justin Roiland. Roiland also voices Gravity Falls time traveler Blendin Blandin, whose cameo appearances throughout season one led one viewer to propose an entirely separate shared universe scenario. Based on Blendin’s bald head and tendency to hang around in the background during major events, Reddit user Zero00430 identified the character as one of the Observers from Fringe. Forget Blendin’s backstory, detailed in “The Time Traveler’s Pig,” which casts him in more of a Doctor Who mold—imagine what he’d look like if he was wearing Toby Determined’s fedora.
In February, Hirsch brought this sermon to the attention of his Twitter followers. It’s not a fan theory, per se: The preacher doesn’t appear to be a supporter of Gravity Falls, nor a fan of any pop culture produced in the past three decades. (Or a particularly savvy consumer of speculative fiction or satire, based on some of his evidence.) But in a great feat of irony (a mode of expression beyond the clergyman’s reach), the “Tourist Trapped” portions of the sermon scrutinize and analyze Gravity Falls as closely as the show’s proudest boosters, proposing an interpretation of the “Undead” journal entry that has nothing to do with Robbie and everything to do with the apocalyptic implications of wanting to fuck a vampire. But if the preacher truly wanted to demonize Gravity Falls, he shouldn’t have put it in the same company as two greats of TV animation, The Simpsons and South Park.