Stanford "Ford" Filbrick Pines, Ph.D., also known as The Author, is a paranormal investigator who came to Gravity Falls, Oregon, to study the huge concentration of supernatural activity in and around the town. After spending years of cataloging his research in a series of journals, he disappeared into an alternate dimension. His writings were left as the only evidence of his existence.
Ford's identity and whereabouts were a central mystery and a foreshadowing of the Gravity Falls series until the middle of the show's second season, when he was revealed to be Stan Pines' long-lost twin brother who vanished into an another dimension, after a fight with his brother caused him to stumble into the universe portal.
Stanford Pines was born in the 1950s to Filbrick and Ma Pines in Glass Shard Beach, New Jersey, along with his twin brother, Stanley. From an early age, Ford was fascinated with the supernatural and science fiction, attributed to his abnormally high I.Q. and a rare birth defect, granting him an extra finger on both his hands. Despite their vastly different personalities, Ford and his brother were the best of friends, often roaming the beach as an unstoppable duo in search of adventure. Unfortunately, their youth was plagued with frequent bullying due to Ford's six fingers and Stan's wimpish characteristics, most notably from their childhood tormentor Crampelter, which prompted their father enlisting them in boxing lessons as a means of toughening them up.
As the twins reached adolescence, Ford's brains and scientific achievement expanded with every passing year, while Stan struggled academically. Nevertheless, the two remained their closest allies, continuing the construction of their pet project, the Stanowar, to fulfill their childhood dreams of sailing around the globe. However, their future together fell under threat after Stanford's ingenious science fair experiment, a Perpetual Motion Machine, garnered the attention of West Coast Tech, a prestigious university on the other side of the country. With promises of fortune and success should he enroll in the college, Ford agreed to stay with Stan under the condition of rejection from West Coast Tech, which ultimately occurred after Stan accidentally damaged his experiment. Believing his brother's mistake was intentional sabotage, Ford watched on as his father disowned his twin from the family, evicting him from the house until he could repay the potential millions he cost the Pines family.
With no other options, Ford reluctantly enrolled himself in Backupsmore University, a low-ranking college with little remnants of the prestige or ambition of West Coast Tech. Undeterred, Stanford harnessed his brilliance and, due to his intense work ethic, entered a doctoral program three years ahead of schedule. During his collegiate years, Ford befriended fellow student Fiddleford McGucket, a genius mechanic aspiring to build personalized computers. Following the completion of a nationally ranked thesis, Stanford was awarded an enormous grant of one hundred thousand dollars, bringing an end to his studies at Backupsmore. Inspired by his own physical deformity to investigate anomalies and the paranormal, Ford set out to the sleepy hamlet of Gravity Falls, Oregon, believing there to be a large concentration of supernatural occurrences.
Putting his grant money to use in the construction of a large, isolated research lab in the forest, Ford encountered a plethora of unnatural creatures and oddities, cataloging his findings within a series of journals marked with his six-fingered insignia. Eventually, Stanford realized a need to expand his work area, establishing a small, heavily protected laboratory hidden within the woods. Using the confined location as a means of hosting his most dangerous projects and experiments such as the Shape Shifter, Ford made use of his talents and newly acquired knowledge of Gravity Falls to create a large amount of new and extraordinary inventions, including the mind-swapping Electron Carpet and a mind-controlling tie designed for the masters of presidential election candidate Ronald Reagan.
By 1981, six years since his arrival in Gravity Falls, Stanford had amassed a wide array of encyclopedic knowledge on his mysterious new home, now writing his third journal. Unfortunately, his work was soon halted after encountering a roadblock in discoveries and was left without answers as to how the improbable aberrations of Gravity Falls had come to be. However, the uncovering of a cave filled with cryptic hieroglyphics gave him hope of achieving answers, as the message foretold of an entity containing unending knowledge. Despite the warnings against it, Ford repeated the incantation aloud, later summoning a triangular dream demon known as Bill Cipher into his mindscape. Introducing himself as a muse that inspired a genius intellectual every century, Bill earned a godlike status in the eyes of Stanford, who, under his flattery and manipulation, forged a partnership; Bill would bestow his intellect onto Ford in exchange for the ability to move freely within and without of his own mind.
Under Cipher's guidance, Ford was introduced to overwhelming information and wisdom, learning of another dimension of paranormal phenomena that had leaked into his world, creating the peculiarities of Gravity Falls. With Bill's assistance, Stanford drafted blueprints to create an interdimensional gateway beneath his home, and recruited his college friend Fiddleford McGucket and his mechanic process into the project. As construction went underway, Ford furthered his obsession with the all-knowing Bill, collecting memorabilia such as rugs and statues, modeling his home's architecture in his image and even converting his private study to a place of worship. As their partnership seemingly grew to friendship, McGucket became uneasy towards the true purpose and function of the device they had constructed. During the portal's first trial, Fiddleford's suspicions were confirmed, glimpsing the Nightmare Realm Bill covertly intended to merge with the mortal world after being accidentally inhaled into the device. Horrified with the visions he endured, McGucket immediately abandoned the project, leaving Ford with suspicions of his own.
During a confrontation with his former ally, Stanford learned of Bill's true nature and ultimate plans, and quickly realized the portal would result in the destruction of the universe. Refusing to part with his life's work, Ford deactivated the device, as well as installing a metal plate into his head to prevent Bill from taking further possessions of his body. To further protect himself, Stanford created Project Mentem, a piece of machinery capable of bio-electrically encrypting one's thoughts and preventing Cipher from wreaking havoc in the mindscape. However, Ford remained stricken with paranoia, fearful of the catastrophe he had created, and took to continuing his research through invisible ink. Unfortunately, his fear of Bill's inevitable return grew stronger, leading him to take extreme security measures by abandoning his research and hiding his journals, preventing the portal's activation from ever reoccurring. Hiding his second and third journals locally and converting his offsite laboratory into a makeshift fallout shelter designed to survive Bill's impending apocalypse, Ford sent for his estranged brother Stanley in an urgent call for help.
After Stan's arrival, Ford's plight was near its end, as his final task rested on his brother's shoulders. Entrusting him with his first and final journal still in his possession, Ford ordered Stan to bury the book far from Gravity Falls in a place where it would remain for eternity. Enraged his brother had only sought him out for his own devices rather than a reconciliation, Stan spitefully prepared to burn the journal and much of Ford's work, resulting in a brawl within the laboratory that inadvertently reactivated the portal. In a matter of minutes and a few unfortunate steps, Stanford was sent flying into the device, disappeared into dimensions and regions beyond.
Ford now found himself stranded between dimensions in an unfamiliar netherworld of the supernatural, something he was hardly prepared for in all his years of studying Gravity Falls. As his brother Stan formulated a plan to reacquire the instructions to the device and continue to pay his house's mortgage through a tourist trap known as the "Mystery Shack", Ford navigated his strange new home for thirty years and came into contact with a variety of anomalies, such as the highly-illegal infinity sided die and the strangely pleasant Dimension 52. Though Stan concealed any remaining remnants of his twin brother for the time being, Stanford ultimately lived on as a legend to his grandnephew Dipper Pines, who locates his journal and becomes infatuated with its author.
In "Tourist Trapped," Dipper unwittingly stumbles upon his third journal and becomes entranced by the information it contains, and he quickly begins to use this knowledge to aid him in his encounters with the supernatural.
Eventually, Dipper and his family become entangled in Gideon's quest to learn the Author's secrets, convinced this knowledge would give him unprecedented power that would allow him to take over Gravity Falls. Gideon nearly achieves his goal of gaining all three journals in "Gideon Rises," but is stopped by Dipper and Mabel. His defeat enables Stan to seize possession of Journal 2, and Dipper's revelation of his ownership of Journal 3 lets him complete this same goal.
After learning about the invisible ink in his journal, Dipper leads his friends into the Author's bunker to search for clues on his whereabouts in "Into the Bunker." There, they come face-to-face with the mysterious figure's 210th experiment, the Shape Shifter. After successfully recapturing the beast, they emerge with their greatest lead yet: the Author's laptop (which actually belonged to Fiddleford McGucket, as later revealed).
In "Sock Opera," Dipper devotes himself almost excessively to cracking the password for the laptop. After innumerable failed attempts, he makes a deal with Bill Cipher but is tricked into letting the demon take possession of his body. Bill destroys the laptop to prevent Dipper from coming any closer to finding out some "major answers" and attempts to do the same to Journal #3, but is stopped by Mabel.
In "Society of the Blind Eye," after discovering that the laptop was manufactured by McGucket Labs, Dipper becomes convinced that Old Man McGucket is the Author of the books. In his confrontation with the elderly man, Dipper learns of the mysterious Blind Eye Society and goes to look for them. Recovering McGucket's stolen memories from the Society reminds him that he worked side by side with the Author (and that the laptop belonged to him, not the author), and begins trying to remember the man's identity.
In "Not What He Seems," it is revealed that Stan has been collecting radioactive waste, for the purpose of powering a doomsday device, and the twins encounter an old newspaper article which claims Stan Pines to be deceased. Contrary to this incriminating article, it is discovered that Stan Pines is the direct brother of, if not, the one mentioned in the article who is actually alive. At the same time as this discovery, the author of the journals is definitively identified, after his emergence from a portal in the center of the aforementioned "doomsday device," by Stan's reference to him as his "brother."
In "A Tale of Two Stans," Stanford, Dipper, Mabel and Soos ask Grunkle Stan about everything that's going on, so he explains in backstory (see in Early Life) after Stan's tale. After the story is told, the government agents descend on the Mystery Shack. Stanford takes Dipper's mind erasing gun and amplifies it, also connecting it to the speakers outside so the effect is broadcast all around the Shack, making the agents forget about this entire operation. He later talks to his brother, telling him he can have the house for the rest of the summer, but after that he will give him his name back and his house. In return, Stan tells Ford to stay away from Dipper and Mabel.
In "Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons," Ford emerges from the basement, fighting a Cycloptopus, which he quickly defeats. Dipper tries to ask him questions, but Ford tells him not to get involved with his work. Later, when Dipper falls into the basement with his 38 sided die, Ford becomes excited, saying that he loves to play Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons. They begin playing in the basement, and their session gradually takes over the house, including the living room where Stan, Mabel, and Grenda are going to watch the Duck-tective season finale. After Stan accidentally rolls the infinity sided die and releases Probabilitor the Annoying, Ford and Dipper are captured by the wizard and taken to the forest. When the others arrive, Probabilitor shrinks Ford and Dipper, turning them into playing pieces. With Stan and Mabel's help, they defeat Probabilitor. After that, Ford shows Dipper what he's been doing in the basement—not only did he destroy the portal, but he has also contained the interdimensional rift produced by the portal in a small case. He makes Dipper promise not to tell anyone about its existence before putting the rift away.
In "The Last Mabelcorn," Ford is shown having a dream with Bill Cipher in it, wherein Bill greets him as an old pal and tells him that he's been preparing for "the big day," going on to say that Ford will slip up and "things change", Ford warns the family and sends Mabel on a quest to obtain unicorn hair to Bill-proof the shack while he and Dipper go into Ford's research room. While having his mind read, Dipper decides to see what Ford is hiding about Bill and discovers that Ford made a deal with Bill and used to be friends with him. When Ford wakes up, he tells Dipper he "shouldn't have done that" and proceeds to try and take the rift from Dipper. Dipper, thinking Ford is Bill fires the gun, it ricochets off Ford's glasses and destroys the machine. Dipper apologizes and Ford forgives him, and proceeds to explain his past with Bill, revealing that Bill had tricked Ford into thinking he was a friend, until Fiddleford McGucket discovered that Bill had tricked them into building a portal between the real world and the realm of nightmares. Ford and Dipper then form a partnership and by using the unicorn hair that Mabel had retrieved they form a protective shield around the Mystery Shack, protecting their minds from Bill.
In "Dipper and Mabel vs. the Future," Ford realized that the rift case is slowly cracking. He asks Dipper to assist him in sealing the rift to prevent what he calls a "Weirdmageddon." They venture to the weird shaped cliff in Gravity Falls and Ford reveals it was formed by a UFO which is now buried under Gravity Falls. Ford takes Dipper inside the UFO, with Ford explaining that they are searching for an extraterrestrial adhesive to seal the rift. As they venture further to find the adhesive, Ford questions Dipper about his future plans, eventually offering his great nephew to become his apprentice. Dipper worries about school and Ford tells him he has 12 Ph.Ds and can offer better education. Dipper then worries about Mabel but Ford seemed positive that Mabel will do well on her own due to her personality. Ford tells Dipper that he has the potential to become something better and as Dipper worries about his potential, Ford realizes that Dipper's magnetic gun revealed the alien adhesive. They soon get discovered by the UFO security system and Ford gets caught. Before the security droid could ship Ford somewhere unknown, Dipper manages to save him. Ford once again offers his nephew to become his apprentice and Dipper finally decides to accept the offer. After Dipper talks to Mabel about his decision to stay with Ford, Dipper returns to Ford's lab to seal the rift. However, Mabel has taken Dipper's bag by accident and Bill manages to trick Mabel into giving him the rift. As Bill destroys the case and opens the rift, Ford and Dipper watch in as Bill fulfills his plans.
In "Weirdmageddon Part 1," Ford and Dipper witness more of Weirdmageddon as all of the creatures in Gravity Falls escape the area. Ford tells Dipper that Bill is getting stronger the longer the rift is open and the two set out to defeat Bill once more. Ford takes Dipper to the town's clock tower and prepares his quantum destabilizer to shoot Bill, however Ford gets distracted when a weirdness wave hits the bell, causing him to miss his shot. Bill confronts Ford and informs his fellow beings about Ford building the portal. Ford is offered to join to be a member of Bill's gang of weird creatures but Ford instantly declines. Bill then gives Ford a riddle and when Ford poses the same as Bill, Bill turns Ford into gold and uses him as a backscratcher.
In "Weirdmageddon 2: Escape From Reality" Bill notices that a force-field prevents him and his forces from spreading their chaos worldwide. So he thinks of turning to Ford and make him 'come out of retirement'.
In "Weirdmageddon 3: Take Back The Falls", Ford is brought out of his golden state by Bill to find himself chained in a strange room. Bill makes an entrance playing the piano before making a drink appear in Ford's hand, who then sits down on the couch he is chained to. When Bill mentions the couch is made of live animal skin and multiple facial features emerge from the cushions, Ford leaps up in shock and drops his drink. Quickly recovering, he insists Bill quits the games, stating he wouldn't be alive if Bill didn't want something from him. Bill gives a brief demonstration of his power before explaining his inability to escape Gravity Falls. Ford incredulously states it is a property to Gravity Falls weirdness magnetism which he studied years ago. Bill asks if he learned how to deactivate it, to which Ford admits knowing the simple formula capable of collapsing the barrier before spitefully yelling he would never tell Bill. At first, Bill tries persuasion, revealing his intentions of "liberating" the third dimension and offering to make Ford an all-powerful being if he helped. Ford denied this immediately, calling Bill insane. Bill then declared he would invade Ford's mind to get the code, but Ford called him out on his claim, reminding him of the rules of the mindscape. Ford declared that despite Bill's abilities with dreams, he couldn't enter Ford's mind without Ford shaking on a deal and letting him in. Bill, seemingly weary, claims Ford was making things harder than they needed to be and has Ford magically re-chained around both his legs and neck. As Ford struggled with the chains, Bill insisted everyone had a weakness and it was only a matter of time before Stanford would talk. The scene fades with Ford screaming as Bill begins trying to torture Ford into giving him the equation.
Meanwhile, Ford was unaware that Dipper, Mabel, Stan and the others were planning to rescue him in hopes that his knowledge of how to defeat Bill could get rid of him once and for all. The main objective of their mission was to rescue Ford, who was hailed as a hero in the rebels' eyes to the point where his six-fingered hand was a prominent sign on their trademark flag. Everyone was keen on the plan except for Grunkle Stan, who was still angry for never receiving a thank-you for saving his brother's life the first time. Still, the plan went through, and an armored robot Mystery Shack stormed to the Fearamid to rescue Ford.
The rescue began as Ford was continually tortured by Bill. Chained hand and foot, he was shocked by a 500 watt jolt from Bill's eyeball before the dream demon gave Ford another chance to give him the equation. Ford, despite his injuries and shock, was still vigorously resistant to Bill's demands. Just before Bill began shocking him again, the kids broke into the Fearamid. Bill sent out his henchmen to fight while he and Ford stayed behind, watching the battle. When the henchmaniacs were defeated, Bill was frustrated but noticed Ford's pride in Dipper and Mabel's success. When the demon stated how much the kids cared for Ford and visa versa, Ford realized his grave mistake as Bill now intended to torture the kids to get Ford to talk. When Ford tried resisting Bill, he was again turned to gold as the evil triangle went to take care of the heroes himself.
When Bill's eye was torn out in the battle, a rescue team composed of Mabel (armed with her grappling hook), Dipper (bringing his magic flashlight), Soos (carrying the memory eraser), Wendy, Stan, McGucket, Pacifica and Sheriff Blubs shot into action, landing in the pyramid with Mabel's knit parachutes. They approached the throne of agony and Mabel used her grappling hook to scale it, finding Ford frozen solid on the arm of the chair. Per Gideon's instructions, Dipper and Mabel pulled Mayor Tyler Cutebiker from the bottom of the structure, causing everyone to unfreeze, including Ford. After the proud uncle congratulated his grandniece and grandnephew, he turned to face McGucket, stating they hadn't seen each other since they parted ways and realizing his old partner must hate him. However, McGucket said he had tried forgetting and now would try forgiving, patching things up with Ford, who ignored his brother Stanley's presence completely.
Dipper then interrupted the happy reunions, turning their attention to the matter at hand (Bill was still currently occupied outside, fighting the Mystery Shack and those still controlling it). Ford pulls on a pair of six-fingered gloves and uses Robbie's can of spray paint to make a circle on the ground, causing the others to be bewildered and Grunkle Stan to think his nerdy brother had lost his mind. Ford insisted he was fine as he finished a drawing of Bill's zodiac wheel. Ford explained that the symbols were a prophecy about how Bill could be defeated by a mystical power and the town could be saved. Stanford began piecing together the puzzle, directing Dipper and Mabel to their rightful places on the wheel as Soos took his question mark, Wendy put Robbie in his place, and Gideon took his spot next to Mabel. Ford then explained how the symbols were also metaphorical, claiming that ice referred to someone cool in the face of danger and the spectacles referred to someone scholarly. These positions were taken by Wendy and McGucket respectfully as Pacifica reluctantly took her place next to McGucket and held his hand per Ford's instructions. After directing everyone to leave, Ford called to Stanley, who stood near the "door" staring at the losing battle between the Mystery Shack and Bill. The others yelled at Stan and his reluctance, to which he angrily pointed fingers at Ford, claiming he was a reason there even was an end of the world. Ford apologized and asked for Stanley's help. Stanley then agreed on the condition that Ford would say thank you after Stan spent 30 years trying to save him from the power and had never been thanked. Ford reluctantly agreed and thanked his brother, at which point Stan completed the magical glowing circle and took Ford's hand, claiming he wasn't always the bad brother. But when Ford corrected a grammatical error in his brother's sentence, the two broke out in fighting again with Dipper and Mabel attempting to separate them. This is when Bill returned.
The demon mocked the group for not holding hands before thanking them for gathering all threats to his power in one place as he burned the circle. Ford and Stanley were both tied in glowing red arms with hands and raised up to watch as everyone but Dipper and Mabel were horrifyingly turned into hanging tapestries. Bill insisted it wasn't too late for Ford's family and demanded the equation again as he locked Dipper and Mabel in the three-sided cage. When Dipper and Mabel insisted Ford not take the deal and drew his attention to them, Mabel sprayed spray paint in Bill's eye, making him momentarily blind and subconsciously release the two old twins. Dipper grew the cage until he and Mabel could escape, insisting that Ford and Grunkle Stan run while they take care of Bill. Ford is opposed, claiming its a suicide mission and too dangerous, but before he and Stan can follow the kids as they head deeper into the Fearamid, Bill grabs both of them in a telepathic choke hold before locking them in a cage, leaving the twins behind and unable to help Dipper and Mabel as he transformed into an even more monstrous version of himself and pursued the twelve-year-olds.
Left alone, Stan was upset that the kids would now die because of him and claimed their dad was right and he was nothing but a screw up. Ford accepted some of the blame as being the one to make a deal with Bill in the first place, claiming Stanley would have immediately seen through Bill's scam. The two brothers contemplate on how far apart they are and reflect on their childhood relationship like that of Mabel and Dipper. Again recognizing the young age of his niece and nephew, Ford sadly resolves that he will let Bill into his mind, fully knowing that he would destroy the world and the universe, in hopes of saving the kids. When Stanley desperately asks if there's nothing they can do, Ford reveals they could wipe Bill from the mind while he is weakened in the mindscape IF Ford didn't have the metal plate in his head. Grunkle Stan then suggests Bill entering his mind, but Ford dismisses this, saying his brother has nothing Bill wants and it has to be him, hoping that he can somehow save Stan and the kids. Stan doubts Bill would follow through with that deal, but Ford asks what other choice they have.
When Bill catches Mabel and Dipper he brings them back to the caged brothers, saying time was up and he would kill one of them, flashing their symbols before them to decide which one to kill. Just before he snaps his fingers and kills Mabel, Ford stops him and surrenders. Bill drops the kids as Stan tries to dissuade his brother unsuccessfully, and Bill is amused by their constant bickering. As Stan is tied down by red glowing hands, Ford claims he will agree to a deal if his brother and the kids will go free. The kids try unsuccessfully to stop Ford, but the deal is made and Bill giddily abandons his physical form to possess Ford.
However, Bill was tricked. While the two twins had been left alone, they swapped clothes and did impressions of one another so Bill accidentally invaded Stan's mind instead. The real Ford pulled out his memory eraser and hesitantly used it on his brother, erasing the memory of his entire mind, therefore destroying Bill but also Stan in the process. When it was done, Ford dropped the gun in despair as the world reverted back to its original form. Finding Stan in the forest, Mabel tried in vain to make Stan remember her, to which Ford explained that everything in Stan's mind was gone. Ford claimed that although Stan didn't know it he had saved the world, their family, and himself as he embraced his amnesiac brother and finally truly forgave him. Stan and Ford changed back clothes before going back to the ruined Mystery Shack, saddened that their victory came at the price of Stan's memories. Desperate, Mabel asked what could be done, but Ford sullenly admitting nothing could be done. Mabel was resistant, however, and started desperately reading out of her scrapbook. At first it seemed hopeless, but when Stan suddenly remember Waddles and Soos, Ford excitedly claimed it was working and urged Mabel to continue. The entire family sat together and read through Mabel's scrapbook, laughing.
A few days later on Dipper and Mabel's birthday, Stan had completely recovered his memory and the family was celebrating with the whole town. During the opening of presents, Ford pulled his brother aside, claiming that although Weirdmageddon was over, he detected anomalies in the Arctic Ocean and wanted to investigate. However, he claimed he was too old to do it alone; Stan pieced together the pieces as Ford gave him a picture of their childhood project, asking him for a second chance and offering to fulfill their childhood dream together. When the issue of the Mystery Shack came up, Stan believed there had been enough mystery and decided to close it until Soos inspired him and became the new manager of the Mystery Shack. Later that day at the bus stop, Ford accompanied the others as they said goodbye to the kids, saying "Can it, Soos!" in sync with his brother when Soos tried to rationalize Stan wearing Mabel's goodbye sweater. When Mabel tried unsuccessfully to part with Waddles, Stan broke and forced the bus driver to take the pig with the kids to California, threatening him with Ford backing the threat by showing his gun. The great uncle ran after the bus with the others when it pulled away before putting an arm around his sad brother. In the ending clips, the two Stans are seen aboard the Stan-O-War II battling a sea monster. As Stanley punched it, Ford threw a spear at it, causing it to retreat and the two happy twins to laugh.
He is intellectual and is considered a nerdy person, enjoying games which involve high levels of thinking, such as Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons. He would even go as far as to ignore the dangers of his research just to play such games (to the point where he would let a Cycloptopus bite his face when he became excited). Despite his intelligence, he is very simple minded when it comes to his own dimension since he hasn't stepped foot in it for thirty years. He doesn't have a clue about the modern technology as he believes floppy disks are still in use and had very little worry about giving Mabel a crossbow, thinking it's safe to give children weapons. Before he was sucked into the portal, he was shown to be paranoid and careful, having a hard time trusting people due to being tricked by Bill.
Ford is seen as a serious person when it comes to his work in researching the paranormal. However, he genuinely enjoys his research, even in the face of danger. His years of researching the paranormal both in and out of his realm have made Ford a strong, brave individual who will face danger head on in order to ensure that the world is safe. However, after all of his years of researching the paranormal, Ford's excitement for confirming things such as the extraterrestrial have dulled.
Ford bears a close resemblance to Stan Pines, however, there are a few notable differences: Ford's hair, unlike Stan, has a horizontal silver streak along the sides of it making his hair slightly more spiky than the latter, and he possesses unusually long sideburns. His chin has a cleft and much less prominent five o'clock shadow, and possesses little to no hairs on his chin whereas his twin's is covered in gray stubble. He has polydactyly, having six fingers on each hand. When he first comes out of the portal, he is seen wearing a large black coat with multiple pockets on the inside, and an item that appears to be a gun rested on his back. Underneath his coat, he wears a black shirt and pants. He also dons bulky black boots, a brown belt that slings from his shoulder, a tattered cape, and a gray scarf. He has a gold dot on either side of his glasses and a crack on the left lens. In "Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons," as well as all subsequent appearances, Ford is seen wearing a tan coat, a red turtleneck with a black belt that slings across his chest, black pants, and large brown boots coated in dirt.
During their childhood, Stan and Ford were the closest of friends and would go out on adventures together. However, they got into a fight when Stan accidentally broke Ford's perpetual motion machine and ruined his chances to go to a superior college and as an extension a chance of a large fortune for the family. Due to this incident, Ford held a grudge against Stan for many years, and even after learning of Stan's efforts to rescue him from the universe portal. Ford and Stan eventually reconciled albeit strained. Ford allowed Stan to stay in the shack until summer ends whilst Ford kept the interdimensional rift contained and worked on finding a way to stop Bill Cipher's plans. He then told Stan that when summer ends, Stan is to return Ford's shack and identity. During the events of Weirdmageddon, after being trapped together, Ford came to recognize the troubles Stan went through for him and the twins reconciled with each other. After Stan sacrificed (and subsequently regained) his mind, the two decide to leave Gravity Falls to realize their childhood dream. When they are seen later on their ship, they seem to be genuinely happy.
Ford and McGucket were close friends in Backupsmore University. During Ford's time at Gravity Falls, he called his old friend Fiddleford for help in researching the mysterious paranormal activities in Gravity Falls. They researched together and eventually built the Universe Portal. When they tested the machine, McGucket accidentally got sucked into the portal causing him to see something he wanted to forget, McGucket even questioned who Ford was really working for. McGucket then cut ties with Ford, and they never saw each other again (though Ford suspected that the Blind Eye Society was McGucket's doing, and even wrote disparagingly of his desire to forget what he saw in Journal #3).
Bill Cipher is Ford's greatest enemy, as Bill tricked Ford into building the Universe Portal. Ford attempted to warn people who read his journal about Bill Cipher's existence and the dangers he could do to their world. During Ford's time doing research at Gravity Falls, he hit a roadblock and he summoned Bill to assist him. He considered Bill a friend due to the amount of help and knowledge that Bill shared with Ford however when Fiddleford McGucket was sucked into the Universe Portal, Ford realized Bill's true goal and stopped him by deactivating the portal. Ford's current mission is stopping Bill Cipher from getting his hands on the interdimensional rift and goes to great lengths in doing so (to the point where he would Bill-proof the Mystery Shack). Unfortunately, the rift has fallen into Bill's hands, therefore creating a gateway from the Nightmare realm, to Earth.
Ford is an idol to Dipper as Dipper was always obsessed with the Author of the Journals. When Dipper obtained Journal 3, one of his main missions was to learn the mysteries of the town and to find out who the Author was. When he finally meets the Author, Dipper becomes extremely excited and Ford becomes flattered that Dipper was a fan of him. With eagerness Dipper wishes to assist him yet, Ford was initially reluctant to allow Dipper to help him at all because he is a child and he didn't want Dipper to be in danger. However during their game of Dungeons, Dungeons and More Dungeons, their common interests and enjoying the same things further strengthens their bond. Ford thinks of Dipper not only as his great nephew but a friend, Ford then decided to trust Dipper with the knowledge of a dimensional rift he sealed away, swearing Dipper to secrecy. Despite their close relation, Ford still kept secrets from Dipper about Bill Cipher, but he finally tells Dipper the truth in "The Last Mabelcorn," as he didn't want Dipper to distrust him. Due to this, he tells Dipper that no more secrets should be kept between them. In "Dipper and Mabel vs the Future", Ford invites him to stay in Gravity Falls with him to study all the supernatural occurrences since he's getting old. Dipper accepts this offer.
When meeting Mabel for the first time, he was surprised but endeared, upon coming up to her he liked her charming weirdness.
Ford hasn't interacted with Mabel as much as he has with Dipper, however, they are seen to be in good terms with each other. Mabel (along with Stan and Grenda) rescued Ford and Dipper from Probabilitor the Annoying despite Stan and Grenda's reluctance to do so. When Ford called for a family meeting, he allowed Mabel to find a lock of unicorn hair with which to protect the shack from Bill Cipher. Despite Ford's belief that Mabel won't be able to succeed, Mabel returns with the required item, shocking Ford. In return, Ford assures Mabel that she has a good heart.
- Intro: "Gravity Falls Main Title Theme"
- 101. "Tourist Trapped" (mentioned)
- 109. "The Time Traveler's Pig" (no lines)
- 119. "Dreamscaperers" (flashback, no lines)
- 120. "Gideon Rises" (mentioned)
- 3. "Mailbox" (mentioned)
- 201. "Scary-oke" (mentioned)
- 202. "Into the Bunker" (mentioned)
- 204. "Sock Opera" (mentioned)
- 207. "Society of the Blind Eye" (mentioned)
- 211. "Not What He Seems" (no lines)
- 212. "A Tale of Two Stans"
- 213. "Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons"
- 214. "The Stanchurian Candidate"
- 215. "The Last Mabelcorn"
- 217. "Dipper and Mabel vs. the Future"
- 218. "Weirdmageddon Part 1"
- 219. "Weirdmageddon 2: Escape From Reality" (no lines)
- 220. "Weirdmageddon 3: Take Back The Falls"
"It's hard to believe it's been six years since I began studying the strange and wondrous secrets of Gravity Falls, Oregon."
"Unfortunately, my suspicions have been confirmed. I'm being watched. I must hide this book before he finds it. Remember: in Gravity Falls there is no one you can trust."
"The portal when completed will open a gateway to infinite new worlds and herald a new era in mankind's understanding of the universe. Plus, it will probably get girls to start talking to me finally."
"My whole life I'd been teased for my six fingers. But that got my thinking about anomalies: things that were odd, unusual, statistically improbable. And according to my investigations, there was one place with a higher concentration of these things than anywhere else. A small lumber town in roadkill country, Oregon: Gravity Falls."
"I'm sorry, Dipper, but the dark, weird road I travel, I'm afraid you cannot follow. Well, call me for dinner!"
"Being a hero means fighting back even when it seems impossible."
- Ford's six-fingered hands are the result of postaxial polydactyly, a condition in which a person has an extra pinky finger on one or both hands.
- Alex Hirsch has on multiple occasions joked about the Author's identity:
- Ford was born before Stan.
- Ford has 12 Ph.Ds.
- In "Carpet Diem" the room with the titular carpet in it is Ford's. Stan also finds Ford's glasses in a drawer in the same episode.
- Instead of shaving, Ford sets his face on fire since he finds it to be "faster".
- Ford is, or was, obsessed with what was under a gnomes' hat.
- According to Alex Hirsch, Ford is hiding something under his sweater.
- Ford is left-handed.
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