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20 Shows Like Gravity Falls You Need To Watch

There's a reason why Wired called Disney XD's "Gravity Falls" "the smartest cartoon on television." Since its premiere in 2012, the animated series has won acclaim for its unique characters, whip-smart writing, and an elaborate mythology that steadily unfolds over two seasons.

Created by Alex Hirsch, "Gravity Falls" is the story of Dipper and Mabel Pines (Jason Ritter and Kristen Schaal), 12-year-old twins who spend an unforgettable summer in Gravity Falls, Oregon living with their great uncle Stan Pines (Hirsch). Smarmy scam artist "Grunkle" Stan runs the dilapidated tourist trap The Mystery Shack while Dipper and Mabel secretly investigate the strange and unusual phenomena plaguing Gravity Falls.

Audiences of all ages have been drawn to "Gravity Falls," a puzzle box of a show that rewards multiple viewings and even hides secret messages within episodes. The series concluded in 2016 after a 40-episode run, and while "Gravity Falls" is one-of-a-kind, there are several shows available for fans to watch, whether they're in the mood for small-town mysteries, plucky young heroes, or adventurous animation. Here is a list of 20 shows fans of "Gravity Falls" should watch next.

Twin Peaks

Perhaps no mystery has gripped television audiences more than one question: "Who killed Laura Palmer?" The bizarre death of the beloved homecoming queen — "She's dead. Wrapped in plastic." — brings eccentric FBI special agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) to Twin Peaks, a small town in the Pacific Northwest cloaked in mystery and suspense. Developed for television by David Lynch and Mark Frost, "Twin Peaks" defies simple classification. It is at once a soap opera, an adult crime drama, a horror story, and an offbeat comedy, all presented with the hazy logic of a fever dream.

"Twin Peaks" has been frequently named among one of the best television shows of all time by outlets such as TV Guide, Empire, and Time. After its abrupt cancelation in 1991, the cult classic show was followed by a prequel film, "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me" (1991), and the limited series "Twin Peaks: The Return" (2017), both directed by Lynch.

And if Agent Cooper sounds familiar to "Gravity Falls" fans, that's because Kyle MacLachlan voices the bus driver who appears in the series finale. In an interview with the AV Club, Alex Hirsch elaborated on the cameo, explaining, "'Gravity Falls' has so much inspiration that comes from 'Twin Peaks,' the idea of Agent Cooper being the one to drive Dipper and Mabel home made me feel like, yeah, they're going to be all right."

Eerie, Indiana

"Gravity Falls" could be considered the long-lost twin of "Eerie, Indiana," the 1991 sci-fi horror series for preteens that aired for a single season on NBC. Both shows follow the adventures of young boys who unexpectedly find mystery and excitement when they move from the city to a small town that is "the center of weirdness for the entire planet." 

In "Eerie, Indiana," that hero is Marshall Teller, played by Omri Katz. Marshall's findings include Tupperware parties for parents who want to preserve their children in plastic ("ForeverWare"), a retainer that lets the wearer read dogs' minds ("The Retainer"), and an old gun haunted by the spirit of a bank robber ("The Hole in the Head Gang").

With its wry, absurdist tone, "Eerie, Indiana" frequently toed the line between silly and scary, with five of its nineteen episodes directed by horror icon Joe Dante, the creative mind behind "Gremlins." "I loved 'Eerie, Indiana,'" "Gravity Falls" creator Alex Hirsch told Blumhouse.com in 2015. "It's absolutely fair to say that in some ways 'Gravity Falls' is me making more episodes of a show that was shot down in its prime that I loved when I was seven."

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

"Submitted for the approval of The Midnight Society." Those eight simple words are enough to send shivers down the spines of anyone who grew up watching Nickelodeon in the 1990s. "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" aired for five seasons on the network's popular SNICK programming block, terrorizing tweens and teens with a new terrifying tale every Saturday night. This horror anthology series follows a group of teens called The Midnight Society as they gather at a secret campsite to exchange scary stories.

The show has been compared to "The Twilight Zone," with Bustle praising "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" as "infinitely rewatchable." With episodes featuring ghostly children, evil clowns, and grisly underwater zombies, the series is ideal viewing for younger "Gravity Falls" fans who love scares and surprises but may not be ready for horror media aimed at adults. Eagle-eyed viewers will also recognize future stars among the young cast, including Ryan Gosling, Neve Campbell, Tia and Tamera Mowry, and Jay Baruchel (victim of the aforementioned underwater zombie in "The Tale of the Dead Man's Float"). "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" has also inspired two revival series to scare a new generation, with the most recent, subtitled "Curse of the Shadows," kicking off its run in 2021.

The Owl House

One of the best fantasy shows on television is "The Owl House," created by Dana Terrace and airing on the Disney Channel. "The Owl House" introduces audiences to Luz Noceda (Sarah-Nicole Robles), a spritely teenage girl with an overactive imagination. When her mother tries to send her to a "reality check" summer camp, Luz discovers a portal that transports her to the mystical Boiling Isles. Luz falls under the tutelage of the witch Eda Clawthorne (Wendie Malick), aka The Owl Lady, and joins Hexside Academy to study magic and hopefully find a way back home.

With its beautiful visuals, dynamic characters, and crackling sense of humor, "The Owl House" is animated fantasy at its finest. The show also represents a significant step forward in LGBTQ representation in children's entertainment. Luz is Disney's first bisexual lead character, with the second season focusing on her romantic relationship with her former rival, the colorfully-coiffed witch Amity Blight (Mae Whitman).

Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated

No list inspired by "Gravity Falls" would be complete without mentioning the crime-solving kids who make up Mystery Incorporated in the decades-long "Scooby-Doo" franchise. Animation's original ghost-hunters — Shaggy, Scooby, Fred, Daphne, and Velma — need no introduction, but of the dozens of "Scooby-Doo" television shows and films that have been released over the years, which one is perfect for "Gravity Falls" fans?

Look no further than "Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated," as the 2010 to 2013 series that has been called "the best incarnation of 'Scooby-Doo!'" by Collider. Set in creepy Crystal Cove, where everyone dresses like it's 1969, the series follows the team as they investigate the town's monster sightings, as well as the disappearance of the four teenagers who were the original Mystery Incorporated.

What makes "Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated" unique to the franchise is its serialized format and overarching mysteries. Broadening the scope beyond the traditional monster of the week formula also allows the show to explore the Scooby Gang's dynamic in new and exciting ways, such as the blossoming relationship between Fred and Daphne, as well as the love triangle between Velma, Shaggy, and — Scooby? "Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated" takes beloved archetypes and, for the first time, turns them into complicated, believable characters.

Inside Job

"I know that I could make the world a better place," says Reagan Ridley (Lizzy Caplan), the brilliant but overlooked protagonist of "Inside Job." Unfortunately, Reagan works for the shadow government organization Cognito, Inc., whose idea of making the world a better place includes replacing the President with a robot or anything else that appeases their shape-shifting reptoid overlords.

Cartoon Brew reports that "Inside Job" is Netflix's first in-house adult animated series, created by former "Gravity Falls" writer Shion Takeuchi and executive produced by Alex Hirsch. This hilarious and highly-inventive show posits a world where conspiracy theories are true, Oprah runs the Illuminati, and Mothman works in Cognito's HR department. Amid this chaos, tech genius Reagan tries to navigate more down-to-earth struggles like securing a promotion, taking on a former frat boy (Clark Duke) for a partner, or dealing with her paranoid, alcoholic father, Rand (Christian Slater), the former CEO of Cognito. 

"Inside Job" is perfect for audiences looking for a more absurdist take on workplace comedies. Just don't forget the tinfoil hats.

Over the Garden Wall

Watching "Over the Garden Wall" is like receiving a vintage Halloween postcard from another dimension. It is peculiar, maybe even frightening, but also strangely comforting. Developed by "Adventure Time" alumni Patrick McHale for Cartoon Network, this 10-episode miniseries is essential for anyone needing a spooky, atmospheric series to watch in autumn.

"Over the Garden Wall" stars Wirt (Elijah Wood) and Greg (Collin Dean), two brothers who have found themselves transported into the mysterious land called the Unknown. With the help of an unhappy little bluebird named Beatrice (Melanie Lynskey), Wirt and Greg travel across the Unknown in search of a woman named Adelaide who can supposedly send them home. Episodes vary in tone between absurdist joy (try not to smile when Greg sings "Potatoes and Molasses") and haunting sadness, with the brothers' love for each other carrying them through the deep, dark night. Visually stunning and emotionally complex, "Over the Garden Wall" unfolds like a forgotten piece of American folklore.

Infinity Train

All aboard the "Infinity Train" for a ride you'll never forget. Originally airing on Cartoon Network before moving to HBO Max, "Infinity Train" is an audaciously creative animated series about a strange, seemingly endless locomotive and its passengers. Each season is self-contained, following new passengers as they explore the Infinity Train's bizarre environments. Also aboard the Infinity Train are curious creatures like a sentient concierge bell named Kell and a shape-shifting deer named Alan Dracula. Everyone who steps foot on the train acquires a glowing green number on their hand that represents an emotional problem they need to resolve; the only way to leave the train is for the number to reach 0.

"Infinity Train" is a dark and engaging ride, unafraid to explore topics such as death, divorce, and toxic codependency. The train itself proves to be a literal vehicle for the characters to process and, hopefully, resolve their trauma. Heavy stuff for a children's show, but as Vulture argued, "'Infinity Train' outgrew its audience -– and grew better for it."

Courage the Cowardly Dog

In a 2021 article examining the series' impact, Collider called "Courage the Cowardly Dog" the "equivalent of a fever dream in the middle of the night, where the shadows and monsters lurk." Not bad for a cartoon show about a petrified pink pooch.

Developed from the 1996 animated short "The Chicken from Outer Space," "Courage the Cowardly Dog" aired on Cartoon Network for four seasons between 1999 and 2002. Courage (Marty Grabstein) is a rescue pup who lives with the elderly, cantankerous Eustace Bagge (catchphrase: "Stupid dog!") and his gentle wife, Muriel. The ironically-named Courage is the last line of defense between his owners and the things that go bump in the night, whether they're ghosts, swamp monsters, or an evil anthropomorphic cat named Katz.

"Courage the Cowardly Dog" is an atmospheric mix of comedy and calamity, mixing its traditional 2D animation with experimental CGI (as in the series finale, "Perfect") and even Claymation ("Courage in the Big Stinkin' City") for an eerie effect. Courage returned in 2021 to team up with another cowardly cartoon canine in the direct-to-video film "Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-Doo! Meets Courage the Cowardly Dog."


Ten years after its debut, the impact and influence of "Gravity Falls" can be seen in many of the animated shows that have followed in its wake. One notable example is "Amphibia," the Disney cartoon series created by former "Gravity Falls" storyboard artist Matt Braly. In a 2019 interview with Animation Scoop, Braly spoke about the show's "inspiring" approach to long-form storytelling, adding, "So ['Amphibia'], as cute and as friendly and magical as it can seem, it's got some teeth."

"Amphibia" is the story of 13-year-old Anne Boonchuy (Brenda Song). Along with her friends Sasha and Marcy, Anne is transported to the magical, tropical world of Amphibia. Unfortunately, the girls are separated when Anne befriends the Plantars, a kind family of anthropomorphic frogs, and Sasha joins up with the warmongering toad Captain Grime. "Amphibia" is a winning combination of cute characters and sophisticated storytelling. Anne is the first Thai-American lead in an animated series, and her strained, complicated relationship with Sasha is one of the show's most compelling story arcs.

"Gravity Falls" fans who check out "Amphibia" will be especially tickled by the Season 2 episode "Wax Museum," in which Anne and the Plantars stop at a roadside attraction and meet a curator with an uncanny resemblance to Grunkle Stan.

Rick and Morty

Pickle Rick. Szechuan sauce. Wubba lubba dub dub. Anybody reading this article has probably felt the impact of Adult Swim's mega-hit "Rick and Morty," the Emmy Award-winning animated series that GQ has called "one of the great TV comedies."

Created by Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, "Rick and Morty" began as an adult-themed "Back to the Future" spoof. Later, they developed it into an original series about intergalactic mad scientist Rick Sanchez and his long-suffering grandson Morty Smith (both voiced by Roiland). This homage later came full circle when "Back to the Future" star Christopher Lloyd played Rick in a 2021 promo for the show's fifth season.

"Rick and Morty" is a chaotic blend of dimension-hopping science fiction and intense family drama, wringing laughs out of Rick's bizarre misadventures while also dissecting the toxic behavior alienating him from his family members. "Gravity Falls" fans may be surprised by the show's link to "Rick and Morty." Alex Hirsch and Justin Roiland once shared an office at the Disney Channel, and, as Hirsch revealed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, after creating their respective hit TV shows, both creators planted Easter eggs in their programs that hint at a larger connected universe.

Star vs. the Forces of Evil

"It's gonna get a little weird," promises the theme song to "Star vs. the Forces of Evil," which was written by "Gravity Falls" composer Brad Breeck. After all, how many animated shows star an interdimensional magical princess who wears devil horns and has a floating unicorn head for a best friend?

The magical princess in question is Star Butterfly (Eden Sher), the rambunctious heir to the throne in the dimension of Mewni. Star's parents send her to Earth as a foreign exchange student, hoping that she can learn responsibility as she continues her magical training. Star and her friend Marco (Adam McArthur) hop between dimensions to have adventures while trying to stop the evil Ludo (Alan Tudyk) from stealing her magic wand. 

"Star vs. the Forces of Evil" ran for four seasons on the Disney Channel, taking the fanciful exploits of a candy-colored magical girl and developing them into a compelling saga about family, young love, and the power of magic.

Stranger Things

"Stranger Things" has held a telekinetic chokehold on audiences since its premiere on Netflix in 2016. Set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, "Stranger Things" follows the psychic child Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) as she escapes a mysterious facility. Eleven finds friendship with a group of local tweens searching for their missing friend Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), who has been taken to the terrifying alternate dimension known as the Upside Down.

Created by the Duffer Brothers, "Stranger Things" is a winning combination of inventive scares and nostalgic nods to the science-fiction properties that defined the 1980s. These include nods to iconic franchises like "Dungeons & Dragons," "The Uncanny X-Men," "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," and the works of Stephen King — to say nothing of the third season set in the ultimate 80s mall. Its extraordinary, multigenerational cast includes genre film veterans like Winona Ryder and Matthew Modine alongside engaging newcomers Brown, Schnapp, and Finn Wolfhard. 

"Stranger Things" is wholly addictive, and fans can return to this unique universe in 2022's Season 4.

The X-Files

"The truth is out there," proclaimed the tagline for one of the biggest pop culture juggernauts of the 1990s. "The X-Files" follows FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) as they investigate unsolved cases and possible extraterrestrial phenomena across the United States. The winner of 15 Emmy Awards, "The X-Files" is best known for its inventive monster of the week episodes, an overarching narrative about a vast government conspiracy, and the electric chemistry between Duchovny and Anderson.

The longevity of "The X-Files," which lasted nine seasons and inspired feature films, spin-off shows, and a revival series in 2018, can partly be attributed to its mutability, hiding among different genres like a shape-shifting alien. While many episodes are straightforward science-fiction and horror stories, "The X-Files" was unafraid to satirize itself. Among its best episodes are Season 7's "X-Cops," filmed as an in-universe episode of "Cops," and Season 5's "The Post-Modern Prometheus," an imaginative retelling of "Frankenstein" filmed in black-and-white. 

"The X-Files" is also, ultimately, a love story between Mulder and Scully, who grow closer over several seasons and become one of television's best "will they/won't they" couples.

The Simpsons

The longest-running scripted show in history needs no introduction, but any "Gravity Falls" fan who has not yet met "The Simpsons" should hop on the nearest bus to Springfield. Over 700 episodes of "The Simpsons" have hit the airwaves since its debut in 1989, making the animated sitcom (which has also spawned comic books, video games, a feature film, and more) one of pop culture's most enduring depictions of Middle America.

Bringing new meaning to the term nuclear family, "The Simpsons" chronicles the misadventures of Springfield Nuclear Power Plant employee Homer Simpson, his wife Marge, and their children Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. Decades of satire, slapstick, and surrealism have mutated "The Simpsons" into an unstoppable comedy kaiju, with Springfield densely populated by bizarre characters like Sideshow Bob and Disco Stu (look out, Tad Strange). But at heart, "The Simpsons" is about the unbreakable bonds between family members, and brainy Lisa and mischievous Bart are spiritual cousins to Dipper and Mabel Pines.

The "Gravity Falls" Season 2 episode "Little Gift Shop of Horrors" pays direct homage to "The Simpsons" and their annual "Treehouse of Horror" Halloween specials with its trio of short, self-contained horror stories. "The Simpsons" returned the nod in the Season 33 episode "Bart's in Jail," in which Alex Hirsch guest-starred as top-hatted "Gravity Falls" villain Bill Cipher in a surprise cameo.

The Hollow

In Netflix's original animated series "The Hollow," three teenagers wake up in a stone cell with no memory of who they are or how they got there. Finding notes in their pockets bearing their names, the teens –- Adam, Mira, and Kai –- discover that they are in a strange place called the Hollow. As they explore their unusual surroundings, the young trio discovers that they all have special skills to help them overcome the Hollow's most dangerous obstacles. However, the longer they try to find their way back home, the more they fear that someone has trapped them in a bizarre game.

Ending in 2020 after two seasons, "The Hollow" is one of the more binge-able shows on this list, with twenty action-packed episodes. In his editorial for Bloody Disgusting, Rafael Motamayor commended "The Hollow" for its well-developed mysteries and satisfying resolutions, noting that "the promise of teenagers with cool powers facing off an unknown world ... should fill the adventure void left by 'Gravity Falls.'"

Little Witch Academia

If Mabel Pines watched anime, she would love "Little Witch Academia," the Studio Trigger-produced fantasy television series about a young girl's adventures in magic school. Atsuko Kagari (Erica Mendez) is an energetic student at Luna Nova Magical Academy, where she trains to become a witch. Mocked by her peers for her common, non-magical background, Atsuko's undefeatable optimism nevertheless makes her the ideal owner of the Shiny Rod, an ancient relic that responds to the emotions of whoever wields it.

"Little Witch Academia" is a delightful coming-of-age story and powerful addition to the magical girl anime subgenre that includes series like "My-HiME," "Magic Knight Rayearth," and "Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon." Only the hardest hearts can resist Atsuko as she navigates friendships and rivalries at Luna Nova, discovers her teachers' mysterious secrets, and finally learns how to fly on a broom. Crunchyroll and IGN both included "Little Witch Academia" in their rankings of the best anime of the 2010s, making it a must-see for fantasy lovers.


Based on the children's graphic novels written and illustrated by Luke Pearson, "Hilda" is an Emmy Award-winning Netflix animated series about an adventurous little girl in the big city. Blue-haired Hilda (Bella Ramsey) loves to explore the mysterious woods around her home with her pet deerfox, Twig. She is initially distraught when her mother moves them to the city of Trolberg but quickly discovers that the metropolis is full of surprises, including baby rock trolls, nightmare spirits, and witchy librarians.

"Hilda" is a charming, beautifully-animated program, true to the spirit of the books and perfect for anyone in the mood for magic and whimsy. Drawing heavily from Scandinavian folklore, "Hilda" rewards audiences with its lively characters and imaginative, carefully-constructed worldbuilding. The series also inspired a movie, "Hilda and the Mountain King," that follows the young heroine as she attempts to reverse a spell that has turned her into a troll.

Steven Universe

Steven Quartz Universe (Zach Callison) may not look like a superhero: he's a sweet, gentle little kid who cries when his favorite cat-shaped ice cream sandwich is discontinued. But Steven is also a Crystal Gem, the half-human son of rebel leader Rose Quartz (Susan Egan), who once saved the planet from extraterrestrial conquest. Under the tutelage of his Crystal Gem guardians Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst (Estelle, Deedee Magno Hall, and Michaela Dietz, respectively), Steven explores his blossoming magic powers and learns that his "radical kindness" (per Rolling Stone) may be the key to saving the universe.

"Steven Universe" is (pardon the pun) an absolute gem, colorful and funny and often deeply touching. The show is also a television milestone for LGBTQ visibility, exploring queer characters' identities and romantic relationships onscreen and culminating in the history-making same-sex wedding between longtime partners Ruby and Sapphire. The commitment to depicting love in all its forms may be the series' lasting legacy. As show creator Rebecca Sugar told Entertainment Weekly, "We need to let children know that they belong in this world."


"Riverdale" is a towering monument to comic book camp. A modern-day reimagining of the comics published by Archie Comics, "Riverdale" twists the brightly-colored world of Archie Andrews, Jughead Jones, and Veronica Lodge into something darker and stranger. The 2017 pilot establishes the new rules of "Riverdale" immediately. Wealthy Veronica (Camila Mendes) is the new girl in town, Archie (K.J. Apa) is sleeping with his teacher, Mrs. Grundy, and someone has murdered Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines) in a gothic plot ripped from the pages of a V.C. Andrews novel.

Over seven seasons, "Riverdale" has embraced the kitsch, turning the small comic book town into a near-Hellmouth plagued by teenage gangs, mysterious cults, hooded killers, and cheerleaders dressed in black mourning uniforms. Even sweet Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), the archetypal "girl next door" in the Archie universe, discovers in the Season 4 episode "Witness for the Prosecution" that she carries the dreaded "serial killer" genes. Riverdale is the weirdest town on television, right after Twin Peaks and, yes, Gravity Falls.