Recap: Gravity Falls S1-E1 "Tourist Trapped"

"The gnomes are a powerful race!"
The first episode of Gravity Falls.

It seems like an average summer day in a small town called Gravity Falls, Oregon. Cookouts are held, children are playing, everybody is having fun. That is, except for the two kids in a golf cart being chased by a giant monster. "My name is Dipper. The girl about to puke is my sister Mabel."

We then go to a flashback that takes over most of the episode. It turns out that the two are over at Gravity Falls for the summer. Mabel looks at it as a positive experience ("Yay: grass!"), while Dipper is more skeptical, and irritated by Great-Uncle Stan. Stan's house is a tourist trap, and uses it to make money. Stan tries to pick a member of his workforce to put some signs up in the forest. Soos and Wendy refuse, so Dipper is chosen. He comes across a fake tree, which controls a passage which leads to a Journal containing the secrets of Gravity Falls, and the monsters that lie underneath the small town, such as Ghosts or Gnomes.

Meanwhile, Mabel is trying to get her big summer romance. She then meets a boy, Norman that has suspicious features, including gray skin and bleeding. Mabel is head over heels, but Dipper is suspicious, especially as he reads the book. He comes to the conclusion that Norman is a ZOMBIE. So, he gets Wendy to toss him the keys to the cart ("Try not to hit any pedestrians"), and Soos gives him a bat (in case he runs into a pinata).

However, Norman outs himself... as a bunch of gnomes. Mabel decides to break off the relationship... only for the gnomes to kidnap her to make her their queen. Dipper is able to arrive as they tie Mabel up, rescues Mabel and the two flee. The gnomes turn into a Super Gnome, bringing this episode full circle. Mabel and Dipper are forced to knock out all of the gnomes as they attack. However, the journal shows no permanent weakness for the Gnomes. They arrive at the Mystery Shack, and Mabel pulls a Batman Gambit: surrendering to the gnomes, and then attacking them with the leaf blower (that Mabel used for kissing practice). As they go in, Stan lets them take a piece of merchandise from the store each for free. By the end of the episode Stan enters a secret passage behind the soda machine.

This Gravity Falls episode provides examples of:

  • Accidental Pun: "Will you join us in holy matri-gnomey? Matri— matrimony! Blah, I can't talk today."
  • Advertised Extra: Sort of, that zombie Mabel befriended in some early trailers? He turned out to be a bunch of gnomes in disguise.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: The gnomes kidnap Mabel and try to force her into marry all of them so that she can become their new queen.
  • And This Is for...: "That's for lying to me, that's for breaking my heart, and this is for messing with my brother!"
  • Batman Gambit: Done by Mabel of all people!
  • Batter Up: "And this is in case you see a piņata."
  • Big Damn Heroes: Dipper immediately comes to Mabel's rescue after she's been kidnapped by gnomes.
  • Big Stupid Doodoo Head: Mabel tells the gnomes "You guys are all butt-faces!"
  • But Thou Must: Mabel gets a guy to read a note asking if he likes her. The only responses she provides are "Yes", "Definitely" and "Absolutely!!!".
  • Chekhov's Gun: The leaf blower that Mabel uses for kissing practice is used to defeat the gnomes.
  • Crying Wolf: It's implied Dipper believed in and investigated the paranormal long before he encountered real cases in Gravity Falls. As a result, Mabel doesn't believe him when he claims Norman's a zombie.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Dipper narrates in the episode about his experiences, and writes a bit in the Journal by the end. These elements never show up again after this episode.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Dipper shows Mabel what he suspects Norman is, at first he opens the book on the gnomes article by accident.
    • Mabel grabs Norman's arm (covered by his sleeve) and admires his muscle, which she regards as a pleasant surprise. There's a surprise in there, alright.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • One of the many statues Grunkle Stan makes people see is a bigfoot in a pair of underpants called the "Sascrotch".
    • The gnomes' plan for Mabel to marry all of them—take into consideration that Mabel's only twelve and it's mentioned that there's at least a thousand gnomes.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: Mabel gets one at the end of the episode.
  • Gulliver Tie Down: Mabel is victim to this, courtesy of the Gnomes.
  • How We Got Here: The episode opens with Dipper and Mabel fleeing an unseen giant monster.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: Mabel defeating the Gnomes with a leaf blower.
  • Literal Metaphor: When Mabel decides to 'spill the beans' on her having a boyfriend, she knocks over a can of beans.
  • Mars Needs Women: G-rated version: The gnomes wanted Mabel to become their queen by marriage.
  • Nice Hat: Dipper gets the pine-tree hat he wears for the whole series after his old one gets snatched by a gnome.
  • Pet the Dog: Grunkle Stan gets a moment like this after feeling guilty for mocking Dipper and Mabel, and lets each of them take anything they want from the Mystery Shack. In true Grunkle Stan fashion, he tells them to do it before he changes his mind.
  • Rise from Your Grave: Spoofed when Norman falls into an open grave.
  • Running Gag: There's a different cryptogram in the ending credits of each episode. This episode's cryptogram reads "ZHOFRPH WR JUDYLWB IDOOV." Once decoded, it reads "WELCOME TO GRAVITY FALLS."
  • Sequel Hook: The ending with Stan entering a secret passage behind the vending machine not only tells us there are even greater mysteries of Gravity Falls, but that Stan has some Hidden Depths.
  • Shovel Strike: Soos gives Dipper a shovel to use to save Mabel.
  • The Un-Hug: Dipper and Mabel's "awkward sibling hug."
    "Pat, pat."
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: G-Rated version. Mabel was expecting Norman to be a vampire after Dipper suggested there's something fishy about him, and when Norman said he wanted to confess something:
    Mabel: Oh Norman, you can tell me anything. (thinking) Please, be a vampire! Please, be a vampire!
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Dipper kicks a gnome in rhe stomach, whereupon it barfs a rainbow.
  • We Will Meet Again: Jeff as he flies into the distance.
    Jeff: I'll get you back for this!
  • Wham Line:
    Jeff: We'll never forget you, Mabel...because we're going to kidnap you.
  • The Worm That Walks: All the gnomes cling together to form a giant.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Due to his appearance, Dipper believed that Norman was a zombie, with his theory convinced when he saw a video clip of Norman's hand coming off. Much to his surprise, and that of the audience, he was actually a totem pole of gnomes and the hand that fell off was actually a fake. Dipper even lampshaded that he was way off.