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"A Tale of Two Stans"[2] is the 12th episode of the second season of Gravity Falls and the 32nd episode overall. It premiered on July 13, 2015 on Disney XD.[2]

Official overview[]

Cornered underneath the Mystery Shack, Stan must finally reveal the secrets of his past and his mysterious portal to Dipper and Mabel.[2]


S2e12 twin confrontation

Stan and the author are having a cold reunion.

The episode begins with two boys running and peeks through a board that cover an abandoned cave. They are shown being friendly to each other. One of the boys tries to pull the board but fails. Then, the other boy punches the board and destroys it, and they get inside. Then, they write their name on the wall to let people know that they "own" the place, after they leave, it's revealed that they are a young Stanley and Stanford Pines.

Right where the previous episode left off, the author of the Journals, Stan’s brother, came out of the portal. Stan Pines, cornered under the Mystery Shack, greets the Author with a hug. However, the author responds to this by punching Stan and refuses to thank him for freeing him from the Universe portal, saying that he took a huge risk by re-activating it. In addition, the author says that Stan was the reason he was trapped in the first place. Mabel interjects and asks what is going on, and Dipper is so excited to meet the author for the first time he nearly barfs, respectively. Stan introduces the kids as the grandchildren of their brother and sister-in-law, Sherman and Aura. We soon learn that the Stan that Mabel and Dipper know is actually named Stanley and he stole his brother's name: Stanford. Stan says that he has a lot of explaining to do, and starts to explain his life story since it will be a while before Trigger and Powers find the basement.

S2e12 stans boat

The Stan twins as children.

Stanley and Stanford were twins born in the town of Glass Shard Beach, New Jersey during the 1950s. Their parents owned a pawn shop, their implacably stoic father and their mother, a pathological liar/phone psychic. The two loved exploring the town's beach and one day, they came across a cave that held a broken ship. The twins made it their goal to fix it up and use it to sail around the world together to hunt for hidden treasure. Throughout his life, Stanford was bullied for having six fingers, but he knew he always had his brother, Stanley, beside him.

S2e12 stanford and stanley

Ford and Stan discuss their future.

The twins could not have been any more different. Stanley was a troublemaker who was barely able to graduate while Stanford was a straight A student who won most of the science competitions at school. One day, a perpetual motion machine Stanford built for a science fair earned him an opportunity to be accepted into his dream college, West Coast Tech. Although Stanley still had his dream of sailing around the world in their boat, Stanford had his mind set to get into the college.

S2e12 I can make it on my own

The Pines family disowns Stanley.

One night, an upset Stanley went into the gym to look at Stanford's experiment and hit the table in frustration, accidentally destroying the experiment. When the college admission team came to look at Stanford's experiment the next day and saw it wasn't working, they denied Stanford's entry into West Coast Tech. Stanford confronted Stanley at home, and Stan's family believed that he did it on purpose to try to prevent Stanford from going off to college without him. Filbrick became so furious he kicked Stanley out of the house for ruining their chance of becoming rich. Stanley then dedicated his whole life to getting enough money to prove his family wrong by becoming a businessman. However, his products were unsuccessful and Stanley got banned from many states and countries, using fake identities to travel to new places. Stanley went to prison in three different countries (one of them Colombia).

S2e12 we already saw this

Stanford ponders the mysteries of Gravity Falls.

Meanwhile, Stanford was accepted into Backupsmore University and graduated at the top of his class, acquiring a grant for his scientific research. Stanford decided to study anomalies, attracted to them because of his anomalous six-fingered hands. After some research, Stanford pinpointed the place in the world with the highest amount of anomalies, Gravity Falls, and moved there in mid 1970s. Stanford enlisted the help of locals to build his house and went around the town recording all of his research and findings in three journals. Stanford ultimately believed that all the anomalies of Gravity Falls had to originate from another dimension, and decided to build the universal portal to help him get there. He enlisted the help of his college buddy, Fiddleford McGucket, whose technical know-how resulted in the complete construction of the universal portal.

S2e12 mcgucket one eye

Disturbed McGucket.

When the portal was activated for a test run, McGucket was almost sucked in. Stanford managed to pull him out, but McGucket wasn't himself and began to act strangely. He spoke in backward ciphers and issued a strange warning: "When gravity falls and earth becomes sky, fear the beast with just one eye." After recovering, McGucket told Stanford that the portal was too dangerous and urged him to destroy it, quitting the project when Stanford didn't do so. McGucket decided to forget what he had seen. Once Stanford began to hear whispers and felt that he was in over his head and fearing he was losing his sanity, he asked the only person he could trust - Stanley - to come to Gravity Falls.

S2e12 this sucks

Stanford enters the portal.

As the two meet in Ford's home, Stanford asked Stanley to hide the first journal far away from Gravity Falls to prevent anyone from being able to operate the portal. Stanley became upset at his brother for telling him to move all the way to the other side of the world after they had just met for the first time in ten years. After Stanley almost burned the first journal with a lighter, the two began to fight over the journal. Stanley's back was burned on the portal's control console in the process, resulting in him getting his "tattoo" as the portal ended up accidentally activating. Though Stanford tried to apologize, Stanley punched him in retaliation as he cursed him for being a failure as a brother and pushed him toward the portal out of anger, causing Stanford to get too close to it and getting sucked in. He threw the first journal to Stanley just before the portal shut off, trapping Stanford in another dimension.

S2e12 tropical skeleton

The Mystery Shack's first show.

Plagued by guilt, Stanley spent weeks trying to find a way to reactivate the portal, but couldn't without the other two journals to show him how. Eventually, Stanley ran out of food, leaving him no choice but to go into town. He tried to buy some food but he had no money. When the people inside the store noticed him and believed he was Stanford, they asked if he gave tours of his house, which was legendary for the strange things inside. Stanley agreed to give people tours in order to gain money and assumed his brother's identity, Stanford Pines, to do so. He also faked his own death in a car crash to further bury his old identity and his past. The Murder Hut, later renamed to the Mystery Shack, became a success over the years, but every night, Stan tried to re-activate the portal to get his brother back. Stan also admits that he had to lie to everyone in town (including the twins) over the past 30 years, as he couldn't risk anyone learning the truth about the portal's existence. Covering Ford's mortgage allowed Stan to keep the property, and by extension the portal, under his control and intact. Losing the portal would have meant forever losing any chance of getting Ford back.

S2e12 found something

The agents nearly catch the Pines.

Realizing now that Stan was just trying to save Ford, Dipper apologizes to Stan for his disbelief towards him, and Stan forgives him (since even he wouldn't have believed his own lies). Unfortunately, the government agents overhear the gang talking downstairs and are about to head down toward the basement. Soos claims that he forgot about the government agents, which reminds Dipper that he still has Old Man McGucket's memory eraser. Ford uses the device to make a sound wave that wipes the memory of the government agents. He then pretends to be a government official and tells the government agents that the readings they got were just radiation from an unreported meteor shower, and tells them to leave. After the agents leave, Dipper and Mabel express their gratitude towards Ford, and Dipper get prepared to ask the "2 billion questions" he has for Ford, but Stan tells the twins to go to bed, much to the twins' disapproval. Soos then slides off to call Wendy about the events that had occurred.

S2e12 all grown up

Stan and Ford muse.

Later that night, Stan and Ford look themselves over in a mirror, pondering how much they've changed over the years. Stan is hurt when Ford categorically refuses to thank him for getting him back to Earth. Ford then proposes a deal: Stan can stay for the summer to watch Dipper and Mabel while Ford stays in the basement to contain any remaining damage the portal may have caused; but when the summer is over, Stan must give Ford his house and name back, and the Mystery Shack must be closed for good. Stan bitterly agrees on one condition: Ford must stay away from the twins as he doesn't want them in danger and he claims that as far as he is concerned, they are the only family he has left. While Dipper and Mabel eavesdrop, Dipper wonders if them reuniting means good news or bad news for the family. Mabel wonders if her and Dipper will turn out like them, and Dipper promises they won't. Mabel is still uneasy about it as she lies awake thinking one day her and Dipper will get into a fight and part ways, like Stan and Ford did.

As the credits roll, Soos is still seen talking to Wendy on the phone about the two Stans at three in the morning.


Production notes[]

See also: List of allusions and List of goofs.

Character revelations[]

Series continuity[]

  • "BLENDIN WAS HERE" is written on a board at Glass Shard Beach, a reference to Blendin Blandin of "The Time Traveler's Pig" and "Blendin's Game".
  • Stan and the twins' "PINES!" cheer from "Scary-oke" is shown to have originated from Stan and Ford's childhood.
  • The episode continues immediately where "Not What He Seems" left off, following Ford's emergence from the portal.
  • Soos mentions his fan fictions written about Stan, which were first brought up in a cryptogram found in Dipper's and Mabel's Guide to Mystery and Nonstop Fun!
  • Stan and Ford's hometown of Glass Shard Beach was previously mentioned in "Society of the Blind Eye" on a page of Journal 3.
  • The high five wasn't widespread until the 1970s, so Stan and Ford's "high six" and Crampelter high-fiving his friends shouldn't ordinarily exist. However, in "The Time Traveler's Pig" Mabel shared a high five with Fertilia Mecc (later credited with it's invention), thereby introducing the high five in the 1800's.
  • A restaurant called "Hot Belgian Waffles" can be seen next to the Pines family's pawn shop, a phrase Stan yelled in "Headhunters" and "Not What He Seems."
  • Stan and Ford christen their ship as the "Stan-o-war," the same name of Stan's rowboat in "The Legend of the Gobblewonker."
  • The mask Stan used to scare Dipper in "Tourist Trapped" can be seen on Stan's childhood bed.
  • The portrait of the unknown woman in the room first seen in "Carpet Diem," is seen hanging next to Ford's trophy shelf in their childhood home.
  • The science project next to the Ford's "Perpetual Motion Machine" is a "Footbot 1000" made by Stan, a callback to the Footbot in his story from "Bottomless Pit!."
  • Stan recalls his adventures outside of the country, referenced in "Dreamscaperers" and "Soos and the Real Girl."
  • Octavia, the eight-legged cow from "Mabel's Scrapbook: Petting Zoo," appears as an illustration in a book that Ford reads at college, though it is likely a different mutant cow as this occurred 30 years prior to Octavia's appearance on the show.
  • A box reading Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons can be found in Ford's dorm room, a reference to his fondness for the game and the name of the succeeding episode.
  • A photograph depicting Stan and Ford boxing is taped to Stan's car, alluding to their days of boxing lessons first seen in "Dreamscaperers."
  • The giant wooden hand that grabs Ford's car bears a strong resemblance to the giant wood foot from the promotional art for the show.
  • The Shape Shifter from "Into the Bunker" is seen hatching from an egg.
  • Ford investigates the Floating Cliffs and documents them within a page of Journal 1, which was first briefly shown "Not What He Seems."
  • Shmebulock's father, Shmebulock Senior, is examined by Ford during his study of Gravity Falls.
  • The room Ford performs his supernatural research in is the same room first discovered by Soos in "Carpet Diem," and is later where Stan spends his first few nights alone in the Mystery Shack.
  • Several photographs that appear in the show's opening sequence make an appearance.
  • Ford drafts the portal schematics in Journal 1 first revealed in "Gideon Rises."
  • McGucket's laptop found in "Into the Bunker" appears as a prototype within his home.
  • The partnership between Ford and McGucket initially established in "Society of the Blind Eye" is revisited during their construction of the portal, as well as the unholy visions Fiddleford is subjected to during his time in the machine.
  • Stan mentions Rico, his former Colombian cellmate from "Dreamscaperers."
  • Stan's failed Stan Vac product from "Dreamscaperers" appears in his motel room. Additionally, Stan uses slogans that hint that his products are bad in this episode just like he did with the Stan Vac.
  • The postcard that Ford sends Stan from Gravity Falls is the same one appearing at the end of the opening sequence.
  • The trap door concealed behind the living room wall Stan mentions in "Little Dipper" is seen during Ford's inhabitance of the Mystery Shack.
  • The tattoo on Stan's back, first revealed in "The Legend of the Gobblewonker," is revealed to be a burn mark from a fistfight between him and his brother.
  • The Dusk 2 Dawn convenience store from "The Inconveniencing" is a part of Stan's story, when it was open and when Ma and Pa Duskerton were alive as the owners. The teenagers they hated are also shown dancing outside their store to rap music, reiterating why they hated teenagers.
  • Stan Bucks make a reappearance, first used in "Summerween."
  • Pictures of Dipper and Mabel from "Legend of the Gobblewonker" are seen on Stan's desk.
  • The memory eraser from "Society of the Blind Eye" returns.
  • On "the very real report" Stanford is reading to the Agents, Mabel has drawn the possible outcome of the snake's and badger's child, a snadger. This couple was brought together in "The Love God."
  • Ford mentions retreating to the basement to contain any damage from the portal, which was later revealed to be a dangerous interdimensional rift in the following episode.
  • Stan's reliance on copying Ford's answers to succeed in school may have resulted in his incredibly poor vocabulary.


  • The episode is thirty minutes long, and had no commercial breaks during its debut airing.[5] For reruns, the run time of this episode is 36 minutes, including commercial breaks.
  • Beginning with this episode, a photo of Ford with Journal 1 replaces the photo of the pterodactyl in the theme song. This change persists for the rest of the series.
  • The hole in the boards (in the episode and on its title card) is shaped like a triangle, a reference to Bill Cipher and his theme of Triangles.
  • The words "BLENDIN WAS HERE" can be seen on the boards that blocked the cave on Glass Shard Beach.
  • One of Stan's failed products was called "What a Racket!" Alex Hirsch has said that Bobby Renzobbi once sold a product with the same name.[6]
  • Stanley's science project, "Footbot 1000," is next to Ford's Perpetual Motion machine at the science fair. Footbot appears in Stan's story in "Bottomless Pit!"
  • The shop on the left side of "Pines Pawns" in Glass Shard Beach is named "Hot Belgian Waffles." Stan frequently exclaims these words when he is shocked. The shop on the right side is named "Knuckles Sandwiches."
  • The logo for "Sham Total" was written in a modified version of the "Action Is" font. Action Is is a font designed by Jeff N. Levine, and digitized by Brad O. Nelson at Brain Eaters in 1998. The font was loosely inspired by the lost Victor Caruso font "Caruso Roxy", and was originally found in a studio album from Steve Alaimo, who Levine worked in the recording studio with in 1997. Steve Alaimo was the host of the 1960s ABC series Where the Action is, and he named the studio album after the show. Action Is was a very popular font throughout the 2000s, and would make way for its extended version "Groovy Happening", as well as simplified version "Groovy Summer"; both were designed by Jeff Levine outside of Brain Eaters with approval from Brad O. Nelson.
  • When Stan is trying to fix the portal in the flashback, he has the books Theoretical Physics Made Stupid and Code Breaking in the lab.
  • This episode was viewed by 2.3 million viewers on Disney XD, a new record for the network.[3]
  • The list of West Coast Tech rejects includes at least Dianne Bonnetant, Paul Mandell, Stanford Pines, Mara Dorgenstern and Thomas O' Shant.
  • Near the end of the episode, Ford mentions Floppy Disks and 8-tracks when asking about the Agents mission. This is due to Ford being unaware of technology progression having made these formats obsolete, yet 8-tracks were and only have been used for audio.
  • The title "A Tale of Two Stans" was a reference story of "A Tale of Two Cities" which later used by the Dog Man creators for the 3rd Dog Man series, "A Tale of Two Kitties"
  • This is the first and only appearance of Stan and Ford's mother, Caryn Pines.
  • This is also the first and only appearance of Shermie Pines.

Cut Scenes[]

Alongside storyboards uploaded by the crew to Scribd and other personal socials, the release of the Complete Series Box Set saw several cut and deleted scenes being revealed for the episode:

  • An early opening of the episode had Soos giving a "previously," monologue with a scene showing Stan's nose bleeding. The bleeding is revealed to be from Ford punching him.
  • Ford originally was going to have a beard.
    Deleted ATOTS Scene

    Fully animated deleted scene from the episode.

  • There was a deleted scene involving both Stan and Ford adjusting their glasses at the same time. Unlike other deleted scenes, this one was fully animated and only ever was seen in the 2015 SDCC trailer for the 2nd half of season 2. It is unknown why it was cut. It is one of only two known fully animated deleted scenes from season 2 Gravity Falls, the other being the unicorn fight scene in "The Last Mabelcorn."
  • A younger Ford is shown to still be hurt by the bullies who picked on him that night in him and Stan's room.
  • Several cut montages of Stan and Ford growing up included them watching a movie on TV and making shadow puppets in class.
  • A cut storyboard by Alonso Ramirez Ramos showed younger Stan and Ford watching TV one night, shirtless and eating food.[7]
  • Ford is seen inspecting Stan's Foot Bot and Ford's own invention for the science fair is shown to be much different to the one seen in the episode.
  • Stan tries talking to a girl in school named Stacey, only to choke on toffee peanuts he was eating at the time.
  • One of Stan's schemes to make a lot of money involves betting on a race horse named Paycheck. As per his luck, the horse loses but gives him an idea for another scheme. It's possible the idea came from The Sopranos episode "Pie-O-My", which has a plot focused on a racehorse by the same name.
  • A deleted scene revealed by S. H. Cotugno in 2023 showed Ford being noticed by and playing with mermaids in the lake. Another had him noticing a traffic light creature that changed the lights while on his way home from the store. Both scenes according to Cotugno were cut for time.[8]
  • Originally Ford dismisses McGucket's concerns about the portal as "Dimensional Travel Sickness."
  • After opening the Mystery Shack, Stan goes and "ties up loose ends," by staging the car crash that results in his fake death that Dipper and Mabel find the news article about. Stan achieves this by driving Ford's car to the top of a cliff, stuffing a dummy in it and then pushing it off the cliff while pretending to scream for help under the name Stanley Pines. The car crashes and explodes, likely making sure the dummy isn't discovered.
    • A mafia figure (probably a boss) is seen reading the newspaper on Stan's death and showing some satisfaction from it, implying that Stan likely had ties to the mafia or other organized crime and likely also had a hit out on him.
  • Originally the ending of the episode had Ford returning to sleep in his own room. There he would have Bill Cipher reappearing in front of him and telling him how Stanley reactivating the portal will be of use to him soon (hinting at the rift's creation) and that things change.
    • While this did not occur, the idea was reused to form the cold open of The Last Mabelcorn, with the main difference being that by this point Ford was aware of the rift and what Bill would have meant by it being of use to him.


S2e12 end journal page

End page.

S2e12 end credits cryptogram
  • The ending cryptogram is 23 5-4-3-22-22-9-6-10 4-9-3-17-16 10-19-1 14-19-6-5-19-25 10-23-4-15-2-19 18-15-12-22-6-15-21-13 1-23-5-10'4 4-9-9 21-6-19-23-4-15-2-19 16-23-2-15-10-17 4-1-15-10-5 1-23-5 10-9-4 16-15-5 8-12-23-10 5-9 16-19 14-3-5-4 5-16-6-3-17-17-19-20 23-10-20 10-23-11-19-20 22-9-4-16 5-4-23-10. Once decoded it reads A STUBBORN TOUGH NEW JERSEY NATIVE, FILBRICK WASN'T TOO CREATIVE. HAVING TWINS WAS NOT HIS PLAN, SO HE JUST SHRUGGED AND NAMED BOTH STAN.
S2e12 Key


  • The code at the end, TIZOLHAJSIW CKMMWZPMKQ: GLY KJQBH can be decoded using the Vigenere cipher, and the key SIXER, to reveal the message BACKUPSMORE UNIVERSITY: YOU TRIED.
  • The key to the cipher can be found on the map in the Stans' room all the way to the right.
  • On the scene where Ford is writing the page Floating Cliff, a symbol code can be seen on the top right corner of the Journal, with some parts covered up by his fingers. when decoded, it reads(dash is the covered parts) MY COMPASS GOES HAYWIRE THE CLOSER I GET TO THEM. DOES THIS MEAN I THINK IT DOES ? THE ANSWER MAY BE UNDERGROUND.


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  1. Hirsch, Alex (May 22, 2015). Tweet Number 601862231085559808. Retrieved on May 22, 2015. “Things are about to get unusually unusual! Gravity Falls is BACK this July! #MysteryTwins”
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 July 2015 Programming Highlights (June 26, 2015). Archived from the original on June 28, 2015. Retrieved on July 25, 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Kissel, Rick (July 13, 2015). Ratings: Disney XD’s ‘Gravity Falls’ Sets Network Record With Summer Premiere. Archived from the original on November 14, 2020. Retrieved on July 20, 2015.
  4. Disney XD UK (September 11, 2015). Tweet #640492055718940672.
  5. Hirsch, Alex (July 3, 2015). Tweet Number 617032408655761408. Retrieved on July 3, 2015. “The legends are true! 'Tale of 2 Stans' will be super sized- 30 mins long & no commercial breaks! #BeStrongBladder”
  6. I am Alex Hirsch, creator of Gravity Falls. Ask me anything!. Reddit (August 16, 2013). Retrieved on July 14, 2015.

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V - E - H - D Gravity Falls episodes
Season one 1. Tourist Trapped | 2. The Legend of the Gobblewonker | 3. Headhunters | 4. The Hand That Rocks the Mabel | 5. The Inconveniencing | 6. Dipper vs. Manliness | 7. Double Dipper | 8. Irrational Treasure | 9. The Time Traveler's Pig | 10. Fight Fighters | 11. Little Dipper | 12. Summerween | 13. Boss Mabel | 14. Bottomless Pit! | 15. The Deep End | 16. Carpet Diem | 17. Boyz Crazy | 18. Land Before Swine | 19. Dreamscaperers | 20. Gideon Rises
Season two 21. Scary-oke | 22. Into the Bunker | 23. The Golf War | 24. Sock Opera | 25. Soos and the Real Girl | 26. Little Gift Shop of Horrors | 27. Society of the Blind Eye | 28. Blendin's Game | 29. The Love God | 30. Northwest Mansion Mystery | 31. Not What He Seems | 32. A Tale of Two Stans | 33. Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons | 34. The Stanchurian Candidate | 35. The Last Mabelcorn | 36. Roadside Attraction | 37. Dipper and Mabel vs. the Future | 38. Weirdmageddon Part 1 | 39. Weirdmageddon 2: Escape From Reality | 40-41. Weirdmageddon 3: Take Back The Falls
Animated shorts Candy Monster | Stan's Tattoo | Mailbox | Lefty | Tooth | The Hide-Behind | Mabel's Guide to Dating | Mabel's Guide to Stickers | Mabel's Guide to Fashion | Mabel's Guide to Color | Mabel's Guide to Art | Fixin' It with Soos: Golf Cart | Fixin' It with Soos: Cuckoo Clock | TV Shorts 1 | TV Shorts 2 | Mabel's Scrapbook: Heist Movie | Mabel's Scrapbook: Petting Zoo
Lists Allusions | Cryptograms | Goofs | International versions
Related Media Unaired pilot | Next Time On Gravity Falls | Creature in the Closet | Creepy Letters from Lil' Gideon | Gravity Falls Journal 3 Infomercial | Gravity Falls: Six Strange Tales | Gravity Falls: Even Stranger | The Mystery in Gravity Falls | "Old Man" McGucket's Conspiracy Corner Marathon | Between the Pines | Soos' Stan Fiction | Soos Cast | Gravity Falls – Tug-n’-Talk Shmebulock | One Crazy Summer: A Look Back at Gravity Falls | Call Me Mabel