On Friday, Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch took to his personal blog to announce that the Emmy-winning animated series will be coming to an end … almost immediately. After tonight’s fabulous “Weirdmageddon II: Escape from Reality,” at times heartbreaking and giddily hilarious, there will be a one-hour finale, “Weirdmageddon III” (which has yet to be scheduled) and that’s it. And while this is very upsetting news (the series is, after all, one of the greatest shows airing on television currently–and that’s saying a lot), the end of Gravity Falls is actually a good thing.
“The first thing to know is that the show isn’t being cancelled–it’s being finished,” Hirsch wrote on his blog. “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.” And this is something that we should really think about: This is the way it was supposed to happen all along.
This isn’t the case of a creator being unhappy with the way the series was headed, or a channel cutting a series loose because it creatively lost its way. This was part of the design of Gravity Falls. It’s a series about twins who are sent to live with their great uncle for a summer. Summer vacation in America typically lasts between two and three months. The series will conclude with 40 episodes and 17 shorts (so pretty much perfect timing). Structurally, the conclusion of Gravity Falls just made sense. As Hirsch said, “It’s meant to be an exploration of the experience of summer, and in a larger sense, a story about childhood itself. The fact that childhood ends is exactly what makes it so precious–and why you should cherish it while it lasts.” Trust us: we’ve cherished every moment of Gravity Falls, like countless fans.
On a narrative level, too, ending the series now is ideal. Gravity Falls has always concerned itself with mystery, both in the mysteries that would spring up every week, and the overarching mystery of the town and where its weirdness comes from. With the “Weirdmageddon” storyline, the overarching mythology has reached a wonderful apex (with the very literal end-of-the-world), while the central characters are ready to move on from the serialized mysteries. The show is very much a coming-of-age tale, and the characters are maturing and moving on. There might have been more stories to tell in Gravity Falls if the characters had chosen to stay there instead of going back home, but maybe not.
One of the things Hirsch was worried about, in terms of prolonging the series, is Gravity Falls losing its freshness. And with the show ending now, that isn’t even a factor. Gravity Falls will go out at its creative peak, as experimental as anything Disney XD has ever aired, and also one of its most popular shows. (On learning of the series’ end, visionary filmmaker Guillermo del Toro tweeted at Hirsch, calling the show “one of the best realized, most compelling series around.” He then added: “You are ending it at the very top of your form.”) There’s never been an animated series like Gravity Falls—a show that combines hardcore mythology with deep emotionality, formal playfulness, and gentle surrealism. It will be remembered (rightfully so) as one of the very best animated series ever. If it kept going on and on forever and ever, then maybe that wouldn’t be the case. Even the very best animated series experience creative lulls, and if something is on all the time, then people eventually take it for granted. With Gravity Falls ending so early, it has cemented its place in history. It will be forever missed and endlessly appreciated.
And this may not be the definitive end of Gravity Falls. In that fateful blog post, Hirsch said that, “just because I’ve finished the story I wanted to tell doesn’t necessarily mean we will never see Dipper, Mabel, and Stan again. It means that this chapter is closed, and that I, at least for now, am personally done telling their story.” So there could be further stories, somewhere down the line. (Keep in mind that in the next couple of years both Twin Peaks and The X-Files, touchstones for Gravity Falls’ development, will be returning to air.) But for right now, it’s over … almost.
Keep in mind that we still have two more episodes, and the finale is going to be a special, hour-long episode that will, undoubtedly, be mind-blowing. There are still many twists and turns yet to be revealed. And in the lead-up to the finale, we’ll be providing tons of Gravity Falls content, including our recaps and a look back at the entire series. As Jason Ritter, who voices Dipper said on Twitter, “it ain’t over ‘till it’s over.”