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"Unaired pilot" has been nominated to be merged with the article, "Next Time On Trailer." Please discuss about this on the talk page and the appropriate action(s) will be done as soon as possible.
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This article contains information on a subject that is not considered canon in the Gravity Falls universe.

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The unaired pilot is the unofficial pilot of Gravity Falls. It is a low-budget, pre-production test version of the show with a premise similar to that of the first episode "Tourist Trapped."

While pitching Gravity Falls to Disney, Alex Hirsch was eventually asked to create a pilot of the series to show to the network. He accepted, and the series was later greenlit for production as a full series.[1] Unsatisfied with the look and style of this pilot, Alex Hirsch personally hired his own team when the show was greenlit.[2] The pilot has never aired on television, but the full episode was uploaded on August 3, 2016 after Cipher Hunt, as a prize for the completion of Bill's puzzle.

The episode is on a private site, which can be accessed right here. To access it, a username and a password are required. The username is "RETURNBACKWARDS" and the password is "TOTHEPASTAGAINTHREE".

In April 2024, the pilot was released in HD alongside the previously lost "Next Time On" reel.

Overview[]

Twins Dipper and Mabel visit their eccentric great-uncle Stan for a summer in Gravity Falls, Oregon, where he operates the world's most bizarre museum. In the opener, the twins arrive in Gravity Falls and soon discover something amiss in the remote town.

Synopsis[]

Pilot Golf Cart in midair

The "tidal wave of horror."

The episode opens with a flash forward of the young twins Dipper and Mabel Pines falling from a cliff in the golf cart, while being chased by a "tidal wave of horror." Then it cuts back to Dipper narrating how their parents sent them to spend their summer break with their Great Uncle Stan in the town of Gravity Falls, Oregon, where they soon came face-to-face with the town's strange and uncanny secrets.

Pilot Olddipper

Freezie Pops from the Freezie Pop London Bridge that Stan made.

One day, Stan calls the kids downstairs. When they get there, he calls them "my favorite twins, Dylan and Rowena." Then he shows them his newest attraction: a scale model of the Tower Bridge in London built entirely from freezy pops. When he taps it, the model breaks apart and they start eating the 200 freezy pops at Grunkle Stan's request. Dipper reads one of the riddles on the sticks: "What is a ghost's favorite ice cream flavor?" Mabel says it's "booberry" and Grunkle Stan says "corpse melon," while Dipper thinks it's "cookies and screams," but the stick is blank in the other side, so the riddle has no answer.

Pilot Undead page

The "Undead creatures" page in "Dr. Crackpot's Book of the Damned."

Dipper soon finds his sister's new boyfriend — Norman — is suspiciously odd. Later, while reading a mysterious book called "Dr. Crackpot's Book of the Damned," with facts and notes about magical creatures, he starts believing Mabel's boyfriend is a zombie, because of his strange behavior, and starts to secretly record him to confirm his suspicion. Then, he confronts Mabel and tells her what he thinks Norman is, but she doesn't believe him. Right when he's about to give up and admit he's being paranoid, Dipper watches a video he took where Norman drops one of his hands and then picks it up. Convinced that Norman is a zombie, he borrows the golf cart from Stan and rushes to save Mabel.

Meanwhile, Mabel is with Norman, who reveals that he is actually a gnome named Jeff standing on top of 4 other gnomes, and that they want to marry her and make her their queen. When she rejects their proposal, they kidnap her. Dipper finds the gnomes running into the forest carrying a tied up Mabel over their heads and starts to chase them with the cart. Dipper asks what is going on, and Mabel explains that Norman turned out to be a bunch of gnomes.

Pilot smashin gnome faces

Dipper smashes Shmebulock's face.

In the forest, Dipper demands the gnomes to hand out Mabel, but the other gnomes jump off the trees and start tearing the golf cart. Then other gnomes are fired like arrows from a bow towards the golf cart. Dipper dodges them, though, and soon catches up with the kidnappers. Once he does, he tells Mabel she has to jump. She uses her braces to cut the rope and jumps into the cart. Dipper drives away from the gnomes, but a gnome jumps and grabs his face. Mabel punches the gnome off his brother's face, but when he's able to see again, he accidentally drives the cart off a cliff and through a Gravity Falls billboard, crashing it in a forest.

The twins crawl out from the cart, only to find themselves surrounded by the gnomes. Then, the Gnome King appears. He's an old gnome with a very long white beard which he uses to move around, instead of his legs. He announces that the time has come to fulfill Mabel's destiny, as it's written in the prophecy of "Shmiseldorf." Mabel tells him to go away as Dipper threatens him and throws a shoe at him. Seeing this, the King says he will release Mabel if Dipper answers a riddle: "What is a ghost's favorite ice cream flavor?" Mabel thinks that it's "booberry," while Dipper believes it's "cookies and screams." She asks him to trust her, so Dipper answers "booberry." This turns out to be the right answer and all the gnomes become stone statues.

S1e1 differences

Pilot vs final comparison.

The twins return to the Shack. Mabel says that she is sorry she didn't trust Dipper before and that she feels sad that her first boyfriend was a bunch of gnomes. Dipper tries to cheer her up by saying that her next boyfriend may be a vampire. Then they hug.

When they ring the Shack's door bell, Stan opens it, covered in melted stains of red freezy pops that he had been eating. He tries to say, "Brain freeze!" but can only say, "Brain" before the twins think he is a zombie and start pelting him with rocks.

The episode closes with Dipper's narration, who says that "It was the least weird day of summer." A pterodactyl is seen flying above the woods.

Credits[]

The episode has no credits at the end, but the following are some of the confirmed participations in its production:

Production notes[]

The pilot was created in 2010 by recent CalArts graduate Alex Hirsch.[1][2] Hirsch wrote and drew the storyboard entirely on post-it notes and a rushed pilot was commissioned by Disney to a small low-budget flash animation studio, House of Cool, located in Toronto, Canada.[2]

"Next Time On" trailer[]

Main article: Next Time On Trailer

Hirsch revealed in 2022 at Pixelatl that a "next time on Gravity Falls" teaser-like preview was produced alongside the pilot. In a 2023 interview, he said that the idea came from the show Arrested Development, which used fake teasers to end its episodes.[5] This trailer was created as a sales pitch for Disney, to display fake but plausible future plots that could happen in the show. This tactic was successful to the point that Disney Television Animation made it mandatory for all future show pitches. Hirsch has said he may not have a copy of the full video. It has never been released in full to the public and is only available in pieces posted by animators who worked on it.[6]

Pitch Bible[]

In April 2024, the Pitch Bible for the pilot was released and revealed the original plans for the series back in 2010 that were very different to the final version of the show.

Logline[]

Two twins get a summer job working for their uncle in the strangest town in the world.

Synopsis[]

Two 12-year-old twins, Dipper, a conspiracy theorist, and his sister Mabel, an cheerful romantic, have to spend their summer living with their Great Uncle Stan, a money-grubbing conman running a tourist trap in the sleepy town of Gravity Falls. What starts as a family sitcom (pampered city kids living in the country, trying to survive the summer doing manual labor for their uncle) turns into a mystery/adventure when the kids discover that every weird creature and phenomenon imaginable (from gnomes to time portals to quantum waffles) exists right outside their door.

In A Nutshell[]

12 year old Dipper Pines had planned the perfect summer- 3 months of video game playing, popsicle eating, and YouTube surfing, stationed on the couch with an arsenal of NERF weaponry to keep his twin sister Mabel away. Mabel's summer was going to be equally awesome- a non-stop musical montage of cat-sitting, romance-novel reading, and counting the days between attending concerts for her favorite 5 boy bands. But then disaster struck. Dipper & Mabel's parents won tickets to a summer-long luxury cruise, and decided to ship the kids off to spend the summer with the only available relative- their Great Uncle Stan up in Gravity Falls, Oregon. "It'll be nice to get away from it all," reasoned Dipper & Mabel's parents. "Hopefully Uncle Stan isn't under house arrest any more"

As it turns out, their Great Uncle Stan is the black sheep of the family for a reason. An 80-something year old huckster, Stan runs and lives in "The Mystery Shack," a cheesy tourist trap which overcharges unlucky tourists for a glimpse at the world's crappiest 'museum of the unusual.' Suddenly, the kids are forced to share a room in the attic and spend all summer doing chores for their crazy uncle in a town with no Internet connection or cell phone reception. The twins decide that the only way to survive the summer is to form a truce and vow to find fun, no matter what. Little do they know that although the shack itself is a tacky hoax, there is indeed is something very strange and supernatural about their new town.

The Big Mystery[]

The menagerie of paranormal and unusual within the town isn't an accident- Gravity Falls does indeed have a mind of is own, a mischievous soul which collects and protects the unique and strange. Gravity Falls is a safe haven for things that have no place in the logical adult world of megamalls and skyscrapers- its' the last corner of America where jackalopes still roam and lake monsters can rest peacefully.

Dipper & Mabel's place within the town isn't an accident either. A place like Gravity Falls has many enemies, from government agents who want to harness its power to Lil Gideon, who wants to bulldoze the whole thing and turn it into a theme park dedicated to himself.

Even though Grunkle Stan seems like a doddering nutjob, he is actually the sworn protector of the town- his Mystery Shack is not just a business but an outpost to guard from threats, as well as a hokey front to make all of the magic of the town seem like a hoax. As it turns out though, Stan is getting up in his years and has brought Dipper & Mabel in as potential replacements to run the shack and protect the town. Of course, he can't just outright tell them this- their little minds would be blown, and they're not mature enough to handle it. He knows the only way to understand the importance of the town is to experience it for yourself. He plays the sarcastic old fool around them, secretly hoping that they rise to the occasion and are ready when the time comes to reveal everything. (Which, if it ever happens, would either be in the last episode, or the movie)

Alternate scenes[]

A series of alternately animated scenes from the pilot have also been released in the years since by animators who worked on the show, but whose clips did not make the final product:

  • Kevin Martonick Unused Pilot Clip2

    Kevin Martonick's Unused Pilot Clip

    An alternate clip for one of the scenes in the pilot was released by Kevin Martonick on an animation demo reel.[7] It differs from the scene used in the pilot as it is a wider shot and Norman's hair blows in the wind.
  • DharmaliPatel 3

    Alternate scene of Dipper and Mabel answering the gnome question

    DharmaliPatel 9

    Alternate scene of Dipper and Mabel being readied to go to Gravity Falls

    DharmaliPatel 14

    Alternate scene of Dipper and Mabel throwing rocks with Mabel wearing her normal sweater

    Another reel by Dharmali Patel contained 3 alternate scenes from the pilot that were not used in the episode.[8] The alternate scenes are:
    • Alternate scene of Dipper answering the gnome riddle.
    • Alternate scene of Dipper and Mabel being readied to go to Gravity Falls, that takes place in the woods.
    • Alternate scene of Dipper and Mabel throwing rocks at Grunkle Stan but Mabel has her normal sweater in the pilot, rather than the one she wore on her date with Norman.

Differences[]

  • It is 12 minutes long, approximately half the length of a normal Gravity Falls episode.[9]
  • As narrated by Dipper in the beginning, this isn't their first adventure. He mentions "that fishing trip," which could be a reference to the events of "The Legend of the Gobblewonker," and a "telekinesis incident," where Mabel is shown apparently lifting Stan and his couch with her mind.
  • Unlike "Tourist Trapped," Dipper has his blue pine tree hat throughout the entire episode, instead of him getting it at the end.
  • Stan is in his eighties in the pilot, while he is in his sixties in the series.[10]
    • He wears adult diapers of a brand called "Grampers", a parody of Pampers.
  • Soos and Wendy do not appear in the pilot episode unlike in the actual pilot.
  • There is no Journal 3 in the pilot. Instead, Dipper reads a book called Dr. Crackpot's Book of the Damned, which he already has at the Shack. The book appears to be written in German, which Dipper is able to read.
    • Due to this, Dipper doubts that Norman is blinking when he's blinking instead of reminding Mabel about Journal 3's warning, "Trust No One."
  • While the dialogue is the same, Dipper gets the keys to the cart from Grunkle Stan instead of Wendy.
  • While most of the plot is identical to that of "Tourist Trapped," the climax is completely different. Instead of forming into a giant gnome, the gnomes chase the twins to the lair of a gnome who appears to hold a high position among the gnomes. This gnome asks the twins to solve a riddle to free Mabel. When the twins solve the "riddle" (actually a joke found on a popsicle stick), the gnomes turn to stone.
  • Dipper states that this episode was "the least weird day of summer," but in "Tourist Trapped" he expresses boredom for his life in Gravity Falls.
  • In the scenes from the next episode, Bats Biker's tattoo says "stab" instead of "bats," which is the same word backwards.
  • There are, of course, noticeable differences in style and character designs. The following are key differences.
    • Details are not as heavily outlined as they appear in the show's current design.
    • Dipper has no vest and has differently styled shoes with white tips. He also has white stripes at the ends of his sleeves and at the bottom of his shirt and his Pine Tree hat is worn at the beginning instead of being obtained later in the series like the aired pilot.
    • Mabel has a different outfit and also has white shoes.
    • Stan has four fingers in the pilot while in the series he has five. Also, Stan has grey eyebrows and his hair cannot be seen with his fez on, but thick white hair can be seen around his head in the pilot. His fez has a star between the claw-like points and Stan's nose is a different shape. In this design, Stan has a walking stick with an 8 ball at the base of it.
    • Wendy, seen in different clips, has black hair and her hat and outfit are completely different from in the series.

Trivia[]

  • Alex Hirsch originally stated that he hoped this pilot would never be fully shown to the public, because it's "a mess" and it "would be like showing awkward photos from [his] high school prom."[9] Another reason was that pilots made for internal usage usually have a lot of unlicensed material, like songs, so releasing them to the general audience can cause legal trouble. This is probably the case with the musical pieces used in the pilot.[11]
    • However, Hirsch later stated if people completed the real-life puzzle of Bill Cipher during Cipher Hunt, he would release the unaired pilot to the public.[12] The puzzle was finished on August 1, 2016.[13]
      • On August 3, 2016, the pilot was released on The Mystery of Gravity Falls, although to access it one needs a username and password, which turned out to be on the USB drive that was among the treasures found with the Bill Cipher statue. They are "RETURNBACKWARDS" and "TOTHEPASTAGAINTHREE," respectively.
  • Grunkle Stan's original design in the pilot was later reused in the actual show for Mayor Befufftlefumpter.
  • Four notable pieces of music are used in the pilot. The first is an instrumental version of "To Binge" by Gorillaz, which is used during Dipper's recap of events, at the start, as well as during the narration at the end. The second is an instrumental version of "In The Summertime" by Mungo Jerry, which can be heard in the date montage between Mabel and Norman. The third is a brief excerpt of the theme song to the 1999 sci-fi comedy Galaxy Quest, heard when Dipper first takes off in the golf cart. The fourth and final piece is an excerpt from the score to the 1984 horror film, Nightmare on Elm Street, used when Stan is being pelted with rocks.
    Early Gravity Falls Material

    Early copy of the Gravity Falls pilot via Lowbrow Studios.

  • "Retardant Racoon" was later seen (as "Fire Retardant Racoon") at Mystery Mountain, in "Roadside Attraction."
  • There is an animation error in Dr. Crackpot's Book of the Damned. When Dipper is first reading the entry for zombies, the image of the zombie is on the right page, but when he's showing it to Mabel, it's on the left page.
  • The famous sketch of the Jersey Devil can be seen on the opposite page of the entry for The Undead.
  • When Stan shows his newest attraction to Dipper and Mabel, a scale model of a bridge built entirely from freezy pops he calls it the 'London Bridge'. In reality he made a model of the 'Tower Bridge' in London. London does have a bridge named 'London Bridge' but that's not the one Stan has made.
  • Stan has made an attraction he calls a "Uni-cat", but pink "Uni-cats" really do exist in Gravity Falls, as seen in the unreleased scene.
  • Mabel guesses "Boo-berry" as an answer the question "What is a ghost's favorite ice cream flavor?" Boo Berry is a kids' breakfast cereal, though whether this is an intentional reference is unknown.
  • While never used in the show, the idea of Dipper and Mabel having trouble answering a riddle because they cannot agree on it was a scenario that could be found in one of the alternate endings for the non-canon book Dipper and Mabel and the Curse of the Time Pirates' Treasure!, and like the pilot, Mabel's answer was the right one.
  • Although never involved with it, Lowbrow Studios received an early copy of the pilot and production material for Gravity Falls in 2010 while they were working for Disney.[14]

Gallery

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References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Thomas J. McLean (December 8, 2010). Disney Renews ‘Fish Hooks,’ Picks Up ‘Gravity Falls’. Animation Magazine. Archived from the original on November 17, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Mystery of Gravity Falls (Aug 3, 2016). The Mystery of Gravity Falls. Retrieved on August 3, 2016. “In 2010 recent CalArts grad Alex Hirsch pitched "Gravity Falls" to Disney Channel. He wrote and drew the storyboard entirely on post-it notes and a rushed pilot was commissioned by Disney to a small low-budget flash animation studio in Canada. This rough in-house "pilot" Disney produced, though ultimately in a very different style and never fully "finished", shows us the very first ever glimpse of Dipper and Mabel. Unsatisfied with the look and style of this pilot, Alex Hirsch personally hired his own team when the show was greenlit to series. Click here to watch that pilot”
  3. Gravity Falls Comic Con 2015. YouTube. Squirrel On A Wire (July 16, 2015).
  4. Sorrentino, Alessandra. ANIMATION.
  5. Alfrely (October 4, 2022). Lo que NO SABÍAS de GRAVITY FALLS y AMPHIBIA | Entrevista a Alex Hirsch y Matt Braly | Pixelatl 2022 (Spanish). YouTube.
  6. Hana Hyperfixates; That GF FAN (April 12, 2024). Alex Hirsch Interview Transcript. Archived from the original on April 13, 2024. Retrieved on April 15, 2024. “And it was so effective, and so successful at getting the show picked up, that after Gravity Falls got greenlit, they made every other show in development create “Next Time On””
  7. Martonick, Kevin (May 7, 2022). Demo Reel. Vimeo.
  8. Patel, Dharmali (July 1, 2015). Dharmali Patel_Animation Demo Reel. Vimeo.
  9. 9.0 9.1 I am Alex Hirsch, creator of Gravity Falls. Ask me anything!. Reddit (August 16, 2013).
  10. Sara Goldberg Stan promo art, "A hunchbacked, 80-year-old P.T. Barnum of questionable sanity"
  11. Gravity Falls Comic Con 2015. YouTube. Squirrel On A Wire (July 16, 2015).
  12. Alex Hirsch (Jul 25, 2016). Twitter:Tweet Number 757814314245824516. Retrieved on August 3, 2016. “Don't throw the irl jigsaw puzzle away just yet though! If it's completed, I will upload the unreleased pilot to Gravity Falls! #CipherHunt”
  13. Alex Hirsch (Aug 2, 2016). Twitter:Tweet Number 760323097090150401. Retrieved on August 3, 2016. “The ImpossiPuzzle is complete, thanks to the effort of our brilliant/insane #CipherHunters. Prize coming soon! https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Co010VeUAAAg8OG.jpg”
  14. https://twitter.com/LowBrowStudios/status/1460684165230247941

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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
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