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The Touching Real-Life Inspiration Behind Gravity Falls' Main Characters

For as much as audiences came to love Disney Channel's live-action offerings, many of its animated ones are just as worthy of recognition and praise. Case in point, "Gravity Falls": a series about siblings Dipper (Jason Ritter) and Mabel Pines (Kristen Schaal) who spend their summer at the Gravity Falls, Oregon home of their Grunkle — or great-uncle — Stan Pines (Alex Hirsch). However, their time there is anything but average. All kinds of supernatural and paranormal occurrences start happening in the forested town, leading the two curious kids to search for answers.

Running from June 2012 to February 2016, "Gravity Falls" found its niche among viewers fairly quickly. Not only do most of the jokes land, and the lore beckons you to keep watching, but the characters and their relationships prove easy to get invested in. Especially as their situation grows more perilous, it becomes abundantly clear how much the Pines family and their assortment of friends mean to one another. As it turns out, these lifelike dynamics aren't the product of a skilled writing team alone, seeing as most of the "Gravity Falls" cast has some basis in reality.

Here's the touching way that the creator of "Gravity Falls," Alex Hirsch, came up with Dipper, Mabel, and other main members of the gang when putting the cartoon favorite together.

Alex Hirsch's family provided the basis for some of the Gravity Falls characters

Way back in 2012, as "Gravity Falls" just began its two-season run, Alex Hirsch spoke to Collider about the show and where the idea for it stemmed from. He revealed that Dipper and Mabel reflect himself and his twin sister growing up, right down to their interests and fashion choices. As far as Grunkle Stan goes, he's inspired by Hirch's grandfather, Stan, who'd goof around with him and his sister to keep them entertained. As far as the sci-fi plot goes, Hirsch explains that shows such as "The X-Files" and tabloid newspapers motivated him to make the series about all-things paranormal and absurd.

Naturally, these real-life connections made working on "Gravity Falls" a deeply personal experience for Alex Hirsch, considering one could interpret it as something of a fictionalized account of his childhood. With that said, it should come as no surprise that he took its development very seriously and often clashed with the higher-ups at Disney over their feedback. As he told The Mary Sue in 2017, one particularly heated exchange was over a scene involving a same-sex couple that those in charge didn't want in the episode. Sadly, Hirsch couldn't defeat the Disney censors, so he begrudgingly removed the moment.

Even though the powers that be at Disney could make changes to "Gravity Falls" as they pleased, they couldn't take away the personal association between Alex Hirsch's life and the characters and story he wanted to tell.