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Three Can Keep A Secret is an Alternate Universe Gravity Falls fanfiction by New-Yorktown that diverges at the very end of the original show by having Dipper Pines decide to remain his Great Uncle Ford's apprentice instead of returning to California with his sister Mabel. The story is set nearly three years later, when Mabel travels back to the town of Gravity Falls to reunite with her brother.

Upon making her return however, Mabel is met with a number of unexpected changes and consequences that resulted from Weirdmageddon and becomes involved in a new series of mysteries and adventures, all while carrying a very big secret.

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The fanfic was published before various supplementary materials and as such is consistent with only the original ending of the show though elements from them are sporadically being placed into later chapters.

You can find the completed first story here. A sequel, Interludes Between Rational Worlds was published, but the author eventually deleted it and moved it over to the original story. An actual midquel, Three More Can Keep A Secret was eventually published which is a Crossover with Star vs. the Forces of Evil. There's also a canon-compliant side story, "Field Work," which can be read here.

As of September of 2020, New-Yorktown had made a final post announcing their abandoning of the project in response to mounting real life responsibilities. Included with the announcement is an outline for the rest of the story. However, since then they have occasionally posted additional material in response to continued interest, including a short narration of the planned ending of Three More, an episodic breakdown of planned events from the unnamed canceled third story, some disconnected scenes, and a running author's commentary.

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Three Can Keep A Secret provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • The Northwest parents have always been this, but since Weirdmageddon, Preston has gotten into the habit of taking out his miseries on his daughter, accusing her of being a shame on the family for associating with commoners and beating her when no one else is around. His wife is functionally a non-presence in their lives up to the day Preston murders her, although Preston implies at one point that she was looking for another "meal ticket" and planning on leaving him. It's unknown whether this is accurate or just part of his paranoid delusions.
    • Dipper's and Mabel's parents are a much more downplayed version of this from what little we know; they singled out one of their children for preferencial treatment and openly disrespected the other regardless of witnesses to the point of a very good case for emotional abuse, and the behaviors they incentivized and taught as normal and acceptable through this Favorite/Unfavorite dynamic really screwed up their two children. (Ironically, because The Unfavorite managed to escape this toxic household, the favorite child appears to have ended up with the longer-lasting damage).
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  • Accusation Fic: Shades of it, aimed specifically at Mabel and more generally at the ending of Gravity Falls. Dipper has become much more confident and happy living seperately from Mabel in Gravity Falls as Grunkle Ford’s apprentice and the apocalypse Mabel inadvertently helped trigger (and in this story, kept quiet about) resulted in large numbers of dead. The emotional impact of both these realizations is what forces Mabel to confront herself over her actions from the show the author finds disagreeable. Word of God says that if the story hadn't been canceled halfway through, a confrontation with Gideon, the Pines' Shadow Archetype in the show, would have helped cap off her realizations that she needs to change as a person to truly regain the close sibling relationship she desires—change that the author believes show itself repeatedly bungled. They also seem to consider the post-series media additions, which retconned a lot of the implied consequences of the series in the face of criticism, to be a poor way to address the show's flaws.
  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: The For Want of a Nail that sparks the plot is that Dipper did reconsider Ford's offer post-Bubble and chose to stay in Gravity Falls and become Ford's apprentice. Since Dipper received Mabel's blessing, their parents even allow it, much to Dipper's joy and Mabel's chagrin.
  • Adaptational Context Change: The Cleaving of Earth and Mewni. In canon, it's an unintended consequence of the destruction of magic. Here, it's a last ditch attempt to save what little remains of Mewni after it's been absorbed into the Nightmare Realm.
  • Adaptational Karma: The project adds a number of negative consequences to characters' canon mistakes. The consequences tend to be inversely proportional to the amount of consequence a given character faced in canon.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Played with. The story adapts Gravity Falls canon up until the end of the cartoon and discards the future portrayed for its characters in its conclusion and additional properties. While the story's characterization doesn't conflict with the show per se, its deconstructionist perspective handles all of the cast's flaws and conflicts with much more weight, leading to characters going in very different directions from what their respective franchises have portrayed for them.
    • Dipper Pines has visibly become happier and more confident as a result of living in Gravity Falls and finds being Ford’s apprentice a fulfilling and exciting dream come true, in contrast to the pessimistic description the show gave of that scenario, suggesting that his twin really was just smothering him. Though on the flip side, Dipper is also shown as much more deeply emotionally wounded than in canon, both by the extraordinary supernatural dangers he has been put in and by the more mundane bullying he received from his sister.
    • Mabel Pines is portrayed as being outright emotionally exploitive of brother, feeling entitled to his support, companionship and trust despite treating him very poorly and secretly continuing her attempts to make him to abandon his dream to come live with her in a world he very clearly doesn’t fit into. An internal monologue outright has her realize she’s never been able to properly understand or empathize with her brother. This is mostly portrayed as the result of emotional immaturity instead of maliciousness however.
    • Pacifica Northwest is given some intellectual Hidden Depths, having been provided with a top notch education courtesy of her family’s money. As a result of that and her genuine interest, she’s depicted as being able to keep pace with the scientific aspects of Dipper’s adventures, and is outright shown to have skill in maneuvering through social situations that Dipper and his great uncle lack, as well as hinted at knowledge of economics. In addition, her budding respect for Mabel withered as Dipper recounted all their adventures together, although Pacifica never informs Dipper of this, and in the fic proper the two girls despise each other.
    • As opposed to the common interpretation of Ford as a tunnel-visioned old man unqualified for looking after Dipper's wellbeing and too proud to admit his faults, Ford here has learned to be open with his mistakes and uses them to empathize with his charges when they screw up, provides unconditional love and support to the children in his care, and is willing to talk out and respect their differences of opinions. While he can't shield them from everything and has blind spots regarding what should emotionally be "normal" for developing teenagers, he does have distinct boundaries and limits in what burdens he allows them to take on, which have only ever been broken in emergencies and when these are broken Ford openly discusses with the family whether such additional burdens are a good idea. In short, Ford here is as good a parent as he can be given their circumstances, far better than Dipper's birth parents at tending to his emotional needs, and successfully breaks The Chain of Harm in the Pines' history of child abuse.
    • The outline for the cancelled third story in the trilogy details a surprisingly unsympathetic perspective on the Crystal Gems, though admittedly it would have been an in-universe opinion held mainly by Mabel as she deals with the end point of her character development, describing them as cowards who want to hide inside their own bubble on earth while galaxies are burning, leaving the Dirty Business of saving the multiverse from Bill and his Diamond pawns on the shoulders of the Pines Family and their allies. It's possible part of Mabel's negative opinion is projection; after all, the Crystal Gems to Mabel represent the temptation of a Bubble and her refusal to stay with them is representative of her growth and refusal to repeat her past actions—she could easily just be assuming things about them that were true of her past self.
    • As in canon, Eclipsa here can hardly be straightforwardly labeled evil. She's genuinely kind towards most if not all people with whom she interacts. However, in Three More she truly has commited legitimately concerning deeds that are morally ambiguous at best. Murdering her own mother, for one. With premeditation.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Pretty much everyone. The story's antagonists are almost universally depicted or were planned to be depicted as far more vicious and unsympathetic than in the source material, with explicitly shown body counts (high ones at that) and most canon instances of sincere redemption being subverted, run back or simply ignored. The protagonists on the other hand are in turn significantly more violent, underhanded and are depicted as sincerely struggling with their assorted character flaws, which are given much more serious acknowledgement. Despite this, a clear distinction does exist between heroes and villains in the story: The heroic characters are those that are aware of their character flaws and work to overcome them for the good of others, while villainous characters embrace their selfish desires without concern for or even reveling in the suffering and death they spread as a result.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Dipper calls Pacifica 'Paz'.
  • Alien Autopsy: Ford and Dipper perform one on a monster from Mewni.It gets described in gruesome detail, but Ford and Dipper remain clinical and professional during the whole thing.
  • Alien Invasion: The planned ending of "Three More Can Keep A Secret* would have played with this trope: Mewni is invaded and conquered by the Lucitor Kingdom at the manipulation of Bill Cipher. Mewni itself would not see this as an alien invasion due to their long history with the Underworld, but the invasion is being secretly masterminded by Bill Cipher and his ace in the hole that seals Mewni's defeat is a joint effort of familiar demonic soul sculping and the genuinely alien foot soldiers provided by the Diamond Authority.
  • All Take and No Give: Mabel's status as the Taker in her relationship with her brother is a contentious issue among the fanbase, and this fic runs with it. Here, she never accepts or gets over the fact that Dipper wanted to separate from her and stop being her Giver, and is always looking for ways to go back to their old relationship, irregardless of how Dipper actually feels about that. Later Character Development plays with this however: Mabel outwardly becomes more supportive of Dipper's dreams, but she is acting on a selfish need to "earn" back his love and trust, and these efforts often consist of taking from and hurting other people.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: As a Deconstruction Fic, Three Can Keep A Secret treats the emotional and behavioral instability Mabel shows in canon completely seriously, so there's a very good case to be made that this characterization of Mabel has some sort of personality disorder.
    • She shows little awareness for others' boundaries, is extremely impulsive to the point of sabotaging her own goals without thinking, and is very charming despite her inflated sense of her own importance (and, contradictingly, frequent self-loathing).
    • While she demonstrates a capacity for empathy in her instantaneous support for shielding Pacifica from her father, Mabel struggles intensely throughout the story with feeling, processing, and expressing it, to the point of damaging her relationship with her brother due to her inability to give back emotionally in the way he needs.
    • She suffers from erratic and frequently shifting emotions sometimes manifesting in sudden and intense aggression, especially as she moved into adolescence; at one point she gets so jealous she briefly imagines killing Pacifica for daring to be closer to Dipper than Mabel herself is now, a sudden shift which even startles Mabel herself but which she still struggles to restrain.
    • She's extremely parasitic in her relationship with her brother with no idea, initially, why this behavior is wrong, and without him to keep her on track during the years he lived in Gravity Falls, she was unable to manage the demands of school, struggled to meet, manage, or even make realistic long-term goals for herself, and became, according to Word of God, a "pretty hardcore" juvenile delinquent.
    • She has a long history of failing to learn from repetitive mistakes, self-delusion, denial, and many short-lived yet very intense romantic (and possibly sexual) attachments.
    • It's implied that, pre-Character Development, a lot of her inability to accept Dipper's desire to live separately was because he helped to compensate for her difficulties functioning in the world.
    • It's worth noting that Mabel also has the interpersonal history often associated with such disorders, having lived through both a bad home environment and extreme trauma, both issues for which she actually received less support as she got older owing to her increased coinciding inability to confide in her companions in Piedmont and resistence to confiding in those who actually went through the traumatic experience with her.
    • After she and Dipper have their falling out, she displays a repeat of her very concerning canonical behavior of self-harming emotional incapacity, which is also treated completely seriously.
  • An Aesop:
    • It's toxic and self-harmful to invest love and respect into people that don't love and respect you, even if those people are family.
    • The key to truly healthy relationships is a mutual and reciprocated effort towards being understanding and supportive.
  • Anti-Hero: The entire Pines Family, as per the show, but Dipper specifically has evolved from a Classical Anti-Hero (striving to save the day despite being weighed down by emotional flaws like insecurity and a general lack of skill or strength) to the more modern definition, bordering on a '90s Anti-Hero being a much more skilled, experienced veteran of the town's weirdness while also having become more ruthless, underhanded, and even violent in the pursuit of his objectives. Pacifica semi-jokingly refers to him as an "intellectual Bad Boy."
    • Mabel big time; her difficulties with her moral compass are possibly the most focused on of the Pines family. While she knows she has flaws, Mabel has little to no decent guidance on how to deal with them and is seemingly unable to separate her goal of being a better person from her self-interested goal of getting Dipper to trust her again, and thus, while genuinely wanting and trying to do good, the "good deeds" she does "for others" still end up largely self-serving. She's outright left allies to die so she can accomplish feats that will hopefully impress Dipper.
  • Anxiety Dreams: Ford, Pacifica, Dipper, and Star all have one each at the same time after Ford and Pacifica survive Bill's attack at the underground weapons warehouse. They're each highly symbolic of their current issues and are implied to be instigated by Bill, although he only features in Ford's.
    • Pacifica's nightmare of being a vampire with Dipper as her willing victim is pretty straightforwardly representative of her fear of using him.
    • Dipper's nightmare reflects the conflicting pulls he feels from Pacifica and Mabel and his fear of somehow returning to Piedmont, whether literally or emotionally.
    • Star's dream is blatantly about her conflicted feelings about Marco and Dipper, but more subtly about her inner conflict over the morality of embracing change, as her dream switches subject focus from Earth mathematics to imported inventions to Mewni-style battles just as often as it shifts focus between the boys she likes.
    • Ford subverts this; his dream is a lucid duel between him and Bill in a mindscape version of a coffee shop near Ford's college, so he's in control and proves it by winning. The two are each drinking coffee while being provided weapons by the dreams' NPCs, and damage each other in turn until Bill missteps and Ford splashes his coffee in Bill's eye, after which Bill disintegrates. Ford then takes and drinks Bill's coffee while waiting for the dream to end.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: After laying into her for lying about starting Weirdmageddon, Dipper cuts off Mabel's retort that Gravity Falls has clearly been bad for him and he should come back home with seven words.
    Dipper:(Bluntly) Life back in Piedmont was terrible, Mabel.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Ford and Pacifica exchange a joke of this structure at Bill's expense after finding his inventory of illegally smuggled Earth weapons on Mewni, all of which were (of course) stored fully loaded.
    Pacifica: Bill Cipher: Destroyer Of Worlds, Necromancer, Ender of Hopes, irresponsible gun owner.
  • Author Tract:
    • The outline for the unfinished remainder of the project details the deaths of all three remaining Diamond Matriarchs, with Dipper and Mabel having a direct hand in Yellow Diamond's death. Why? Because the Diamond Authority are "unambiguously horrific space nazis that have exterminated trillions of sapient beings," to the point of even the most racist Mewmans finding the Diamonds' genocide disgusting. The message is pretty clear: these Nazis are not wacky, nor should they be sympathized with. In fact, they're so undeserving of sympathy that not only do Dipper and Mabel kill Yellow Diamond, but it never occurs to them to show mercy and Mabel deliberately stomps around on Yellow Diamond's remains while wearing glittery pink boots.
    • The Gems' fanatical devotion to the Diamonds is paralleled to a "rugged survivalist" group that uses their shared interest in "rugged survivalism" to disguise their violent tendencies. They're portrayed as hyper masculine, xenophobic and antisemitic terrorists as well as blindly obedient to their leader, and man who is a selfish, moralless coward who financially scams, and protects himself at the expense of, his followers. Further, the group takes advantage of misplaced police sympathy to gain firearms and escape custody, killing their fellow citizens and bombing the police on the way out. They're pretty transparently a depiction of the Alt-Right, and once again these Nazis are not wacky: Queen Eclipsa shoots their leader dead in a parking lot and after all they've done, no one cares.
  • Back from the Dead: Here, Bill's backwards message in the finale was actually a spell he cast in order to save himself that split his body apart and deposited his consciousness into the minds of three people who made deals with him, namely Mabel, Preston, and Blendin Blandin. However, Ford soon discovers that due to Bill becoming three-dimensional during Weirdmageddon, he was actually split apart into nine pieces instead of three. If any three pieces of Bill reunite, he'll be restored to his original state. If all nine come together, he'll be restored to full power. Fortunately, the heroes managed to destroy some of the pieces, so 3D Bill is gone for good. Unfortunately, the remaining ones found each other.
  • Battle In The Center Ofthemind: In the cancelled third story outline, Eclipsa and White Diamond have one of these after Eclipsa mind probes a Pearl White Diamond was controlling.
  • Betrayal by Inaction: The outlined epilogue clarifies that Mewni falls due to the Lucitors taking advantage of the destruction caused by Meteora's rampage—for which the Butterflies' allies, the Spiterbites, Ponyheads, and Seafolk do not provide their promised aid. Once they figured out the chaos that was unfolding in Mewni, the various other powers decided to ally with the Lucitors, who invade just as Star defeats Meteora.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: The plot outline for the cancelled last third of the story frames an unnamed, ambitious officer of the Diamond Authority as one of these. As the direct pawn of the second most successful Bill fragment in the multiverse, she would have been responsible for mass producing Gem soldiers from cremated planetary populations, served as Bill's main instrument for directing Diamond Authority military assets against the protagonist, and even would have experienced delusions of ruling the galaxy herself after all three Diamonds were killed off. Instead she would have been shattered by an underling they'd chronically abused during a chaotic evacuation, without ever meeting one of the protagonists face to face.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: There's a significant number of family members with whom the Gravity Falls branch of the Pines family aren't willing to acknowledge relation. It's implied this is because the Pines family has been riddled with The Chain of Harm for at least four generations—Dipper's and Mabel's parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents have all been unstable at best and abusive at worst towards their children. Pines family holiday celebrations are implied to be very stressful and always have a significant number of members not in attendance; Dipper only attends out of obligation towards his promise with Mabel, and there's no mention of Ford, Stan, or Grandpa Shermie attending, despite Stan's initial desperation to be accepted back into the family and the fact that Shermie is spoken of as if he's still alive. In fact, Dipper and Mabel have never met Shermie, and the only mention of anyone who could possibly be their grandmother is by Stanley, who at one point makes reference to "that awful lady of [Shermie's]," which is decidedly not complimentary.
  • Birds of a Feather: Star and Pacifica turn out to have a great deal in common, having both been born into the upper class of their society and have experienced stifling upbringings meant to mold them into ideal inheritors to their parents' empires, which both have come to regard as morally questionable, and swiftly become good friends and close confidants.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Mabel behaves like this intentionally at times, especially when she first returns from Piedmont, saying things she knows are incredibly hurtful, manipulative, or insensitive and passing them off under the guise of her being Innocently Insensitive.
    • Most visibly when she first re-encounters Pacifica. After being told that Pacifica helps with Dipper's research and internally declaring that "No bleach blonde stereotype is going to replace me as Dipper's mystery buddy," her verbal response is described as thus:
      "So you're helping Dippen-Dots out with all his research huh? What's he got you doing, running on a hamster wheel to power the laboratory, or are you testing new cosmetics out before they move to animal testing?" The twin asked teasingly, preemptively playing it off as a joke.
      • For the record: the first insult is straight forwardly insulting, but the second is far more clever in its offensiveness. The first implies Pacifica's as useful to their research as an animal, the second implies she has less worth than one, because in traditional (and increasingly controversial) cosmetic production, animal testing is done before products are tested on humans in order to screen for possible harmful side effects and reduce the chances of accidentally harming humans. By suggesting Pacifica would be a test subject before production moved onto animals, Mabel's basically calling Pacifica not only sub-human, but sub-animal. All while deliberately using Dipper's assumed good will in order to pass these incredibly insulting statements off as jokes and make Pacifica look like an over-reacting "bad guy" in the conversation if she takes offense. The unexpected fact that Mabel's statement upsets Dipper more than Pacifica—and thus threatens Mabel's ability to convince Dipper to return to Piedmont with her—is pretty much the only reason Mabel stops behaving like this in front of him, and even then it takes a couple chapters.
    • When Mabel finally manages to make Pacifica angry in front of Dipper and gets the opportunity to try to frame Pacifica as the instigator and thus claim that Pacifica's actually still been a bad person all along and Dipper is wrong for being closer with Pacifica than he is Mabel, Mabel pretends to be well-intentioned and sincerely apologetic for fighting with Pacifica in front of Dipper and then celebrates at the presumption that she's close to ruining Pacifica's good relationship with Dipper as soon as she leaves Dipper's line of sight. This despite the fact that deliberately escalating her conflict with Pacifica in an attempt to damage Dipper's opinion of Pacifica has clearly hurt Dipper, and he's still upset and blaming himself for encouraging them to get along when Mabel leaves the room to celebrate. Then Mabel encounters Pacifica and Pacifica quickly cuts Mabel's victory high short.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • This story turns the original show's victory over Bill Cipher into this: The world was still saved, but the story spends a lot of moments exploring the long term, slow healing damage Bill inflicted on the the town and its inhabitants, in addition to the separation of Dipper and Mabel that forms the basis of the fic.
    • Three Can Keep A Secret itself has one: the last chapter is of Mabel and her first real moment examining herself and the things that make her happy without deluding herself, realizing that all of her happiest memories feel tainted now because she's become aware of how unhappy they often were for Dipper, and that it wasn't that she and her brother had become more distant after Gravity Falls as that they had never actually been very close; Dipper had never felt comfortable enough to confide in her; Mabel had never understood Dipper enough to respect his priorities. The story ends with Mabel realizing that the depths of the dysfunction in the twins' relationship is foundational—broken from its very base—and on Mabel taking her first steps towards trying to genuinely understand her brother enough to create a new foundation for their relationship in order to replace their toxic relationship with something healthier. The fact that Dipper reacts to her sudden curiosity towards his interests and opinions with suspicion shows how far they still have to go, but it's all uphill from here.
    • The planned ending of this project has one of its own. Bill has been permanently defeated along with the entire Nightmare Realm, but he's taken the entire Multiverse's status quo with him: the old seat of power that used to manage and control magic throughout most the Multiverse—the dimension of Mewni—has been almost completely destroyed along with most of its populace, with only a few salvageable remnants of the dimension able to be saved by cleaving them with Earth; the Diamond Authority has been obliterated, saving countless organic species and planets but turning their vast empire into an unstable political vacuum; and Earth, for its part, has been completely unmasqued in terms of magic and the supernatural and now has to manage a new role in the Multiversal community and the surviving bits of Mewni that have been added to their world, which leads to both a lot of initial chaos and the rising prominence of the Pines family and the remaining Butterflies as new leader figures in Earth society because of their needed expertise. Earth looks set to inherit a new Status Quo as a prominemt power in the Multiversal community, but mostly because the old Status Quo has been obliterated.

  • Call-Back: When Stan and Ford see that Bill's attacking the Mystery Shack with the zombies of Weirdmageddon victims, Stan asks if he should turn on the sound system.
    • During the fics take on the episode Starfari Star Butterfly end up in a large brawl against a gang of monsters led by an ineffectual Bad Boss that wants her wand while being helped by a teenage boy from earth, similar to season one of her own show. However, the earth boy this time is Dipper Pines instead of Marco Diaz. The contrast between the two is fairly sharp even without Marco being present.
    • Mabel's bubble prison was planned to have a surprising one in a version of earth inhabited by Steven Universe and the Crystal Gems. Separated from her friends and family while in the process of trying to stop a cosmic apocalypse, Mabel would find herself in a sunny, cheery and peaceful environment full of friendly oddball faces as well as a genuinely kind and pleasant young man close to her own age with whom she is genuinely romantically compatible with. Instead of having to be dragged away from paradise to face her responsibilities and save her family however, Mabel would complete her character arc her by leaving of her own free will to join her family fighting in space, even as her new friends refuse to stand with her.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Mabel's not wrong when she argues that living in Gravity Falls has had some negative effects on Dipper. We see characters acknowledge in both "Three Can Keep A Secret" and in its sequel, "Three More," that Dipper has become more ruthless as he's gotten older, from Grunkle Stan sadly wondering whether he's made Dipper become "too tough" to Star outright calling Dipper "kind of a destructive jerk." His almost perpetually Properly Paranoid status has caused him to quickly jump to the most efficient solutions possible, which can often seem extreme and disproportionate to the actual threat level. However, Mabel has deliberately kept herself ignorant of the fact that, whatever negative tendencies Dipper has gained from living in Gravity Falls, living in Piedmont was very obviously worse for him: the toxic homelife in Piedmont is manifestly the source of Dipper's and Mabel's toxic relationship dynamic as well as many of Dipper's ingrained insecurities. Gravity Falls at least gives Dipper an avenue with which to feel productive and accomplished and overcome those insecurities; the fact that Dipper is explicitly way more comfortable in Gravity Falls than he ever was in Piedmont with his sister and parents makes clear that, while Mabel isn't wrong when saying that living in Gravity Falls has hurt Dipper, she's absolutely wrong in trying to convince him that moving back to the unsupportive and toxic homelife in Piedmont would solve any of it. While she's half-deluded herself into believing that her self-interests are also what's best for Dipper, Mabel's very clearly just trying to exploit a new vulnerable spot she's found in Dipper's emotional state to promote her self-interests as a solution for him solely for her own benefit regardless of the negative effect it would have on him in actuality, which unsurprisingly doesn't go over well.
  • Came Back Wrong:The resurrection explained under Back from the Dead comes with some downsides for Bill: Rather than inhabiting the Nightmare Realm he wishes to link to Earth and projecting into willing hosts, the Bill fragments appear to be sucked into and trapped inside minds of individuals looking to make a Deal with the Devil, randomly at that. At one point, a piece of Bill wakes up possessing a bedridden war victim. In addition, they can't communicate with each other freely and despite living in minds, can't possess the bodies at will: The already unstable Preston had to undergo severe psychic torture before giving control to Bill, while Mabel stayed herself despite being subjected to hallucinations and attacked by Dipper.
  • Canon Welding: The crossover elements of the story are executed this way, with the events of ‘’Gravity Falls’’ happening on the same earth from ‘’Star Vs’’ but a few years earlier, resulting in Dipper, Star, Marco and Mabel all being around the same age. Ford explicitly visited Mewni (and was left with a poor impression of it), became at least familiar with demons and foiled an attempt by Bill to steal a pair of Hekapoo’s magic scissors during his time lost in the multiverse. The MHC also fought against Bill at a different point far in the past (though he tricked them) and it’s strongly implied that the other dimensional source of weirdness alluded to vaguely by ‘’Gravity Falls’’ is in fact the Realm Of Magic. Eclipsa at one point tells of meeting a wise tea-loving man who could only use fire magic but studied the magics of water, wind, and earth. On a more tangential note, elements from Rick and Morty pop up from time to time, with Ford making occasional off handed references to being involved with a shady character similar to Rick during his lost years and the security at the alien hospital are all humanoid housefly like Insectoid Aliens, but are never explicitly identified as Gromflomites. This connection does have basis in canon however.
  • The Chain of Harm: A central theme of the project is the characters attempting to cope with and grow beyond the damage inflicted by past generations and parental figures. Word of God even explicitly points this out in an author's note, although it seems even they didn't notice how pervasive the theme was until reflecting upon the outline in hindsight.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl:
    • Platonic variant. Mabel's thoughts when meeting Pacifica after three years are wondering if her twin replaced her and then determinedly stating that "no bleach blond stereotype is going to replace me as Dipper's mystery buddy". She spends most of the story trying to discredit Pacifica in Dipper's eyes and in one moment of emotional instability, legitimately considers murdering Pacifica. Though Mabel tries to argue this is because Pacifica is actually a bad person with a negative influence on her brother's life and she's being a good protective sister by trying to drive Pacifica away, Mabel's eventually forced to grapple with the fact that she herself was a toxic influence and Pacifica and Dipper have actually been enormous boons to each other's personal growth.
    • Pacifica notably averts this. While she returns Mabel's hostility with disdain, and at one point snaps and lays into the girl for her treatment of her own brother, Pacifica appears to be genuinely trying not to interfere with Dipper's and Mabel's relationship outside of supporting Dipper and does her best to coexist with Mabel for Dipper's sake. She has her opinions—strong ones—but tries to allow Dipper to manage the relationship for himself. Pacifica does slip up and return fire on Mabel's barbs at times, especially when Mabel first returns to the Falls, but Pacifica openly regrets this after the fact because she sees it as giving into a bad part of herself that she's trying to overcome.
  • Combat Pragmatist: When thrown into a large brawl against a gang of monsters, Dipper's first instinct is to cheat outrageously during the fight, at one point literally kicking a monster while he's down AND on fire before eventually blowing the place up and running away when the odds turn against him and Star. It's worth noting that this is the explicit policy of all the Pines family when it comes to life-or-death scenarios; when teaching Mabel how to box, Stan tells her that since the fights she wants these skills for won't be for sport, she should weight her gloves for harder hits. It reads as a similar Shoo Out the Clowns deconstructive treatment to the way the rest of this story treats its source material in general: rather than handwaving the negative implications in general and the frequent fights in particular, the point is made that the majority of these conflicts have life-or-death stakes and "cheating" is relatively meaningless if fighting "honorably" means getting yourself and your loved ones killed. The ruthless attitude of the Pines stems from the fact that they're more often than not Properly Paranoid regarding the potential danger of their opponents and more extreme tactics said danger justifies. This is deconstructed later, as the above means that the instances at which they are not right in their paranoia highlights the negative affects of this very obviously, as demonstrated when Pacifica and Marco discuss the weird, paranoid behaviors their respective partners have displayed and still consider justified (from avoiding carrying one dollar bills to chasing away Gustav and still wanting to find him and bug his house). It's clear that this combination of Combat Pragmatism and the frequent state of being Properly Paranoid has had a negative effect on how much "honorable" leeway Dipper is willing to give a new opponent and how quickly he can find a reason to rationalize using extreme measures against them.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: While other characters have their emotional arcs and plot threads, Three Can Keep A Secret is very much Mabel's story, and focuses mainly on her returning to a place that changed her life in childhood in order to finally process through and eventually overcome the circumstances in which she grew up.
  • Creepy Stalker Van: The van Ford acquired for transporting their sensitive scientific equipment and samples is an all-white transport van with few windows (and those than exist are tinted to protect from UV rays). Mabel instantly invokes this trope by joking about luring the samples into the van with a bag of candy.
  • Crossover: Three More Can Keep a Secret has Dipper, Ford, and Pacifica arrive on Mewni during the events of Season 3 of Star vs. the Forces of Evil. The planned third installment of the series crosses over with Invader Zim, Steven Universe, Amphibia, and The Owl House.
  • Death World: According to the plot outline, this is what Mewni was planned to become post Bill's victory. The Lucitors become The Face of the initial invasion by the Nightmare Realm, so the scope of the catastrophe isn't immediately obvious, but the entire dimension quickly falls into its own Weirdmageddon. Mewni, unfortunately, ultimately fairs far worse than Earth, as Earth was only bound to the Nightmare Realm for a week in one small geographic area and Weirdmageddon was unable to spread owing to Earth's low levels of arcane radiation at that time; the entire dimension of Mewni, on the other hand, is completely overrun and eventually consumed on a molecular and energetic level by the Nightmare Realm; only small portions are able to be salvaged by cleaving them with Earth, with the rest having become part of the Nightmare Realm and thus is destroyed with it.
  • Deconstruction Fic: The fic's interpretation of canon events and choices in the series can lead to much darker subject matter and character interpretations, but the story still takes even those cues from canon—it merely treats canon events and their consequences far more seriously than canon itself did.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: Despite the aforementioned dark and unsympathetic takes the story has on its source material, the outlines for the cancelled half of the ending do suggest it was going in this direction, since by forcing the characters and stories to really confront their emotional flaws and the true implications of things like magic and dimensional travel the protagonists are rebuilt into better people with healthier relationships, and the potential of magic and the supernatural can be applied to build a better future and a better world, rather than solely a force of destruction and trauma for the cast. In chapter 15 Ford basically tells Mabel that this more hopeful view of his research is what he learned from her and Dipper and one of the reasons he's grateful to them, because he almost gave up on the original goals of his research out of fear.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Much like in canon, Mabel still gives Dipper her blessing that he can stay in Gravity Falls with Ford, clearly expecting him to do what he did in canon and say he's giving it up. As it turns out, when you give someone your blessing for something they want to do, they tend to take that as a sign you are okay with it as well.
    • Mabel throughout the story keeps trying to get Dipper to return to his former life with her, failing to consider the idea that he is genuinely happy in Gravity Falls, danger and trauma be damned.
    • The extra material detailing the planned ending indicates that the former Butterfly allies that chose to side with the Lucitors during their invasion didn't actually think through the logical conclusion of Bill's despotic and cruel personality—i.e, how he would treat them once he no longer needed them.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Beyond simply embarrasing, the use of Dipper's birth name is portrayed as legitimately unpleasant and uncomfortable for him. The Pines parents chastizing Dipper for "indulging" in the use of his nickname over the summer despite knowing full well how uncomfortable he is with his birth name is one of the many instances in the opening chapter in which Dipper's and Mabel's parents show far less consideration for Dipper's feelings than they do Mabel's.
  • Drugs Are Good: Or at the very least, they're not treated as any worse than the other crimes Grunkle Stan is willing to commit. Both Stan twins are depicted as having used and sold pot since high school, Stan as having partially kept the Mystery Shack operating with proceeds from growing pot in the nearby woods (though he tries to keep this a secret from Dipper and Mabel) and the two smoke some together in the present day to help Ford calm down after a terrifying Realm of Magic induced Mushroom Samba. That being said, both the older twins are immediately concerned when Mabel expresses familiarity with the substance.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Divine on Mortal: Averted. This AU depicts The Love God in a less than flattering light by invoking this trope. He's easily tricked into providing love potions to the Lucitors, whose use of them to try and make Star marry Tom is unambiguously portrayed as date rape and is being encouraged by Bill Cipher. Word of God has also stated that Robbie and Tambry did not remain in love with each other once the potion used on them in the show wore off, and both are traumatized by the event.
  • Dying Race: Most of the magical flora and fauna of Gravity Falls were decimated by Weirdmageddon, and because they were uniquely adapted to Earth's low levels of magic, there's no species quite like them in the rest of the multiverse. The lilliputtians have gone extinct, the gnomes are an endangered species, and the Manotars population had been relatively stable until Mabel accidentally wiped them out by exploding the mine in which the entire tribe had been working.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The outline for the canceled ending reveals that after being put through the absolute wringer - including every character being forced into situations that exploit their greatest flaws and thus are forced to overcome them and the heroes losing the battle for Mewni, with the dimension subsequently being consumed by the Nightmare Realm and too far gone to save by the time of Bill's eventual defeat - the heroes manage to defeat Bill, cleave the salvageable remnants of Mewni with Earth, bring Earth in as an active member of the magical multiverse community, and bring about a golden age of invention and medicine, with the Pines and Butterflys becoming world leaders through helping to oversee this drastic change. Also, after decades of hardship and interfamily conflict, the Pines successfully break The Chain of Harm and finally make bank off their hard work and patents in the scientific field with Pacifica Pines as CEO of the company.
  • Elite Mooks: The first group of Homeworld Gems the heroes encounter are a strike team of eight Rubies that are described as experienced veterans of previous alien campaigns and live up to the description; killing dozens of armed humans and only suffering casualities themselves once the rocket launchers and grenades get brought out. In addition, their Squad Leader is demonstrably cunning, if a bit overconfident, able to see through trickery and strategically employing the Gem abilitity to fuse and shapeshift in order to reach her objective.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
    • The shady black ops group that was backing Ford's initial research was immediately certain that had Stanley had murdered his brother and stolen his life for selfish reasons when Ford fell through the portal and immediately wrote the whole thing off for decades as a result, showing severe inability to grasp the idea that Stan might have better intentions or could be useful himself.
    • Mabel suffers from a downplayed and arguably far more sympathetic version of this starting in Multiverse Chase. After losing Dipper's trust by hiding things from him for years out of fear that he would react badly, a more self-aware Mabel decides she genuinely wants to be a better person and a better sister in order to earn Dipper's trust back so he'll cooperate with returning their relationship to the state she preferred it. However, trying to do so with no example or idea of what a genuinely healthy sibling relationship looks like leaves her floundering with no idea how to move forward correctly, and her attempted solutions at regaining Dipper's trust are, among other things: learning how to fight so Dipper will think she's more capable, giving Dipper presents, and attempting to get involved with his interests, all while continuing to hide her mistakes in order to give him a better impression of her. Unfortunately, none of these address the actual issue Dipper has: Dipper doesn't want her to try to earn his favor back through gifts or pandering or displays of physical capability, Dipper just wants his sister to trust him enough as a person to make his own life choices and thus allow for an open, honest, and respectful relationship. Even when Dipper tries to spell out what he needs in a clearer manner, Mabel's reaction indicates that she's either unable or unwilling to understand why honesty is important in a healthy relationship, and she continues to repeat her mistakes and lie and omit key information from those around her.
    • Mabel doesn't really understand why Dipper is refusing to return to their old relationship. Now that he's had time away from her, and a actual support system in Ford and Pacifica, he has come to realize that their former relationship with her was nothing more then Dipper constantly having to sacrifice his wants and dreams for Mabel, while she never returned the gesture. Mabel, however, was so used to their relationship being toxic and based around those behaviors, and so convinced that all of her wants and desires were actually what was best for everyone and thus that Dipper's difference of opinion means he's misguided at best, that she doesn't get how it hurt Dipper. Even Pacifica spelling it out for her doesn't seem to do much.
  • The Evils of Free Will: Implied in Mabel's justification of why she treated Dipper the way she did in the past—because, from Mabel's perspective, the person who most made Dipper unhappy was himself, she was justified in intervening and ignoring his feelings and priorities in order to make his life better. It's a weak justification even to her own ears; she prefaces the statement by admitting it wasn't kind. It only later occurs to her how twisted it is that she tried to usurp control of Dipper's life to enforce how she wanted him to live.
  • Evil Plan: As Bill desires to cause as much pain and chaos as he can, his ultimate goal is cleaving as many dimensions as he can together... with the Nightmare Realm.
  • Evil vs. Evil: The conflict between the Diamond Authority and the Irkens, of which Bill takes advantage. Both sides are genocidal authoritarians and casually exterminate all they consider unworthy of existence or who do not submit to their rule. However, despite both being evil, they differ in how they subdue other races—the Diamond Authority simply seeks to exterminate the organic life in the way of its colonization, while the Irkens keep those they capture as slaves and some of their leaders even allow their slaves access to creature comforts in exchange for their submission, motives which increase the slaves' labor efficiency.
  • Fix Fic: Mabel's arc in the story is very much a stealth reboot of The Last Mabelcorn's plot beats regarding Mabel trying to prove she can be a good, capable, trustworthy person and going about that in a very self-interested way. Unlike The Last Mabelcorn, however, Three Can Keep A Secret doesn't brush off the problems with that.
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • What If? Dipper stays as Ford's apprentice after the series?
    • The sequel is basically "What If? this version of Bill and the Pines were around for Star Vs. season 3?" Dipper helps Star learn how to block out magical mental interference and Glossaryk stays dead, as it turns out.
    • Its climax is What If? the MHC found Eclipsa guilty? And What If? instead of helping during Meteora's attack, the Lucitors used Mewni's weakness to conquer it?
  • For the Evulz: Bill tells Stan and Ford that Mabel was the one who gave him the rift (and shows Dipper the scene inside Mabel's mind) in order to fill them with despair as his zombie army violently kills them.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Mabel claims that Pacifica is no good for her brother and refuses to grant her "permission" for Dipper and Pacifica to date, but in actuality Mabel's jealous of the fact that Pacifica seems to get along better with Dipper than Mabel herself does now. When the group is escaping the Futurekind and Mabel and Pacifica are climbing a vertical shaft using the grappling hook's rope, Mabel is even sorely tempted to cut the rope behind her, knowing full well that this would almost certainly kill Pacifica either through the fall itself or from the Futurekind beneath. Mabel's only able to prevent herself from giving into the temptation and killing Pacifica by reminding herself that cutting the rope would also trap Dipper below. Mabel begins to really struggle internally with this when she realizes just how good Dipper's and Pacifica's relationship has been for the both of them, mentally and emotionally, in direct contrast with how genuinely toxic Mabel realizes her relationship with Dipper has been—something that simultaneously makes Mabel feel both more guilty and, again, more jealous.
  • Heel Realization:
    • Mabel faces a number of these throughout the story as the predictable outcome follows from the consequences of Weirdmageddon and what her choices involving that situation actually have done to the people of the town and the people who love her.
    • The turning point of Mabel's character at the end of Three Can Keep A Secret comes from her realization that nobody in the Piedmont Branch of the Pines family had ever cared enough about Dipper as a person to try to understand him and his values, interests, and insecurities. Mabel realizes that not only does she not understand her brother, but that she's never really understood her brother, that she was encouraged by their parents not to try, and that she actually has spent her entire life looking down on him for all of the ways his values differ from hers, and can't think of a single explanation she's told herself for why Dipper likes the things he likes that isn't insulting towards him. It's an incredibly painful realization for her and takes a lot of courage to face, but she ends the story in a much healthier place for it, resolving to actually try to get to know her brother on his terms.
  • Honesty Is the Best Policy: Played with, explored, and defied by various characters. The point is made that the inability to tell the truth and the unwillingness to talk about what happened to all of them during Weirdmageddon has mentally screwed up a lot of the town from lack of outside support. On the other hand, Dipper and his friends are very open with each other about their problems and trust each other to accept and forgive their mistakes, and so despite the traumatic experiences they've endured, him and his small group of friends are mentally much better adjusted than the majority of the town. Defied by Mabel, who doesn't understand why anyone would want to confide in another about their problems, openly believes that makes things hurt more, and sincerely believes that the more honest she is with those around her, the less people will like her. It's worth noting that Mabel is by far the least mentally stable and most self-destructive of the Pines family as a result, although she's largely in denial of this. It's further worth noting that the Pines are a family of conartists and Combat Pragmatists, so deception to get ahead is actually a commonly used tactic in the family playbook. The difference is that the other family members use this pretty much exclusively on opponents, and treating those you want to be genuinely emotionally close to like an opponent you have to manipulate will only isolate you in the end. Stan learned this the hard way, and unfortunately, Mabel is in the process of doing the same.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: The loss and eventual destruction of Mewni renders Moon, once the Queen of the dimension that enforced magical regulations across the Multiverse, without a kingdom or even a home. Her daughter and predecessor are much better suited to overseeing the cultural changes and magical advancements Mewni's surviving refugees need.
  • He's Back!: Bill Cipher returns in Chapter 2.
  • Hourglass Plot: This fic and the series are this to each other. In the series, Dipper was neurotic, anxiety-ridden, and insecure, and had to face tough life lessons about the consequences of his flaws, while Mabel was confident, secure, and content. In the present day, Dipper has become confident, secure, and content, while Mabel is neurotic, anxiety-ridden, and insecure, and has to face tough life lessons about the consequences of her flaws.
  • Irony:
    • Mabel kept quiet about giving the rift to Bill for three years because she was terrified of losing her friendship with Dipper if he found out. Once he does find out, he's mad at her not for starting Weirdmageddon, but for not trusting him enough to admit her mistake, and later, for his upsetting hindsight realization that she also hid the truth because the truth would lessen her chances of manipulating their relationship back onto her terms.
    • Mabel feared that knowing the truth about her actions in Weirdmageddon would cause those around her to be less cooperative with her or even would cause those she loved to reject her. Years of living with this secret and the resulting fear has left her pathologically afraid of admitting to her own mistakes and has left her convinced that no one would still like her if she were honest about them. The bitter irony is that even after her major secret is out in the open and after those she's deceived have told her directly that it is the continuous manipulative dishonesty, not her mistakes, which makes her untrustworthy in their eyes, she's so used to hiding things and pretending things are fine that she can't stop being dishonest and doesn't even seem to comprehend the benefits of honesty anymore, even though her own dishonesty is what's caused all of her current problems.
  • Karma Houdini: Takes Mabel's canon status as this and retroactively subverts it. In fact, this story is arguably a direct critical assault on Gravity Falls' tendency to spare Mabel alone from the consequences of her actions. Instead, her avoiding the consequences when she first incited them means they get heaped on her all at once upon her return to the Falls.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty:
    • As noted above, the first installment of this series is a direct critical assault on canon's refusal to give Mabel's mistakes and Aesop Amnesia any meaningful consequences. Even small deeds of selfishness, like pushing Dipper to do dangerous work for shady people solely so she and her friends can spend his work time attending the shady people's party, come back to inconvenience her, since that incident is what made Dipper and Pacifica (someone Mabel views as her own in-universe Replacement Scrappy) Fire-Forged Friends.
    • The rulers of Mewni got away with their hypocritically racist, sexist, corrupt, and bloodthirsty policies for centuries until an unfortunate series of coincidental timings—only some of which were instigated by Bill Cipher—ramps up existing tensions and aids in creating the perfect storm of internal and external pressures, most of which stem from said racist, sexist, corrupt, and bloodthirsty past. These hit the kingdom in rapid succession, leaving it highly vulnerable, and it folds like a deck of cards to invasion by the Lucitors and the coinciding opportunistic betrayal of their allies.
  • Kill 'Em All: By the outline's planned ending, all of the three remaining Diamond Matriarchs are dead.
  • Lack of Empathy: This is exhibited by most of the Pines family at one point or another—such as Ford believing the Futurekind deserve to suffer the consequences of losing their life-sustaining power source (i.e. death) because they weren't willing to help others with it—but Mabel's moments are much more habitual, frequent, focused on, and indiscriminately expressed (she's shockingly unempathetic to friend and foe alike at multiple points). Mabel's sense of right and wrong is largely dependent on what will get her what she wants and what will make her look good, especially in earlier chapters. Mabel does experience remorse, especially about Weirdmageddon's 113 victims and various deaths she's causes over the course of the story, but it's unclear how much of it is genuine regret over causing others harm and how much is regret over damage to her own good and heroic self-image and personal interests; there is evidence to both.
  • Like a Son to Me: Stanford's extremely warm and supportive attitude towards Dipper, great pride in the boy's personal growth and desire for Dipper to inherit everything of his always heavily implied this attitude, but it was finally confirmed in the sequel fic: While on a magic induced Mushroom Samba that is spawning frightening omens of the future, Stanford vows to protect Dipper, calls out his real name and uses the phrase "my son" in reference to him. By all indications, Dipper seems to reciprocate.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Dipper's and Star's friendship, despite Moon's initial assumptions, has a large element of this. As the twin of Mabel Pines, Dipper's completely used to helping balance out and support someone with Star's specific type of creative energy and attention difficulties. Star is very reminiscent of Mabel, minus the trust issues that have currently brought the twins into conflict. On Star's side, Dipper is the first person she's met who's been forthcoming, educated, experienced, and patient enough collectively to help guide her through understanding herself and her relation with magic, and being the same age and with similar experiences with magic makes it easier for them to understand and trust each other.
  • Magitek: The goal of Ford, Dipper and Pacifica Northwest, to understand the anomalies of Gravity Falls enough to make them beneficial for mankind. Mentioned hypotheticals include using a magical source of heat as the driver for a power plant, and using the dimensional portal technology to avert water shortages.
  • Mask of Sanity: While Mabel is certainly selfish in her dogged insistence on finding a way to get Dipper permanently back to Piedmont, she has very clearly suffered emotionally and mentally from living while keeping her culpability in Weirdmageddon a secret, and being without Dipper for so long (and the circumstances of his seperation) clearly only magnified these problems. Her guilt and stress coping mechanisms of self-delusion and rationalization, which have helped her avoid and ignore confronting her emotions, have caused her to become the Mood-Swinger. However, she's become so used to hiding her own emotional instability that the brief instances at which she fails and displays genuinely harmful unstable tendencies tends to stun her family due to them considering this highly out of character. On the outside she's a cheerful, loving, if Innocently Insensitive Fun Personified, but on the inside she's been spontaneously tempted to murder Pacifica, and only talks herself out of it because the method would likely also kill Dipper. It doesn't help that living in fear of her secret being discovered for years has left her convinced that no one would like her if she were honest, a mentality she can't shake even after her major secret is out in the open.
    • A particularly notable instance of her mask slipping briefly occurs when she asks Stan to teach her boxing so she can feel more useful to Dipper and he might trust her again. Stan tells her to weight her gloves with something to add force to the hit, subtly leaves several items around for her to choose, and while she goes to choose something, he sets up a punching bag in the yard. Stan then tells her to go at it freestyle so he can see what he's working with. She starts punching the bag slowly but works up to beating the hell out of it, hitting faster and harder while getting angrier and angrier until she breaks the bag off its structure and then continues to beat it while it's down. Stan intervenes at this point, alarmed, and takes off her gloves to find that instead of picking the items he'd left for her, she'd filled the gloves with broken garden bricks for maximum force and the insides of both gloves are now filled with blood. The conversation that follows makes clear she knew this would hurt her and considered this acceptable if it helped her earn Dipper's trust back.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Would have developed into one in the canceled third installment, as indicated by the episodic plot outlines—characters would go on sidequest to make alliances or investigate the suspicious activities of characters from The Owl House, Amphibia, and the antagonists from Steven Universe and Invader Zim. In The Owl House's case, there would even be potential for a Protagonist vs. Protagonist battle, as the protagonists of that show are a rebel faction against the Ambiguously Evil antagonist with whom the Pines-Butterfly coalition make an Enemy Mine alliance in order to unify the forces against Bill Cipher.
  • Memory-Wiping Crew: Emperor Belos uses Ford and Dipper as one. He frames it as them helping to preserve an old professor's research after the man had become senile, claiming the professor had consented to memory extraction to preserve his work. Given Belos'nature, Dipper and Ford both suspect he's lying, but as of yet have no proof and since Belos appears to have kept his word about providing them with intelligence on Bill's actions, the Pines-Butterfly coalition give aid per the allegiance by collecting the old man's memories.
  • Merged Reality:
    • Weirdmageddon temporarily bridging Gravity Falls and the Nightmare Realm still has aftereffects that Dipper and Ford have been monitoring. Ironically, Bill's invasion made Gravity Falls less supernaturally active because Bill killed off most of the indigenous magical flora and fauna.
    • Bill was planned to eventually succeed in enacting a full-scale Weirdmageddon onto the dimension of Mewni. Unlike Earth, which had both circumstancial and intentional protections in place that limited the scope of damage to just Gravity Falls, the entire dimension of Mewni is quickly and irreversibly merged with the Nightmare Realm. A few small fragments of the dimension are spared enough to be cleaved with Earth after the final showdown, but this merging of the realms means that when the Nightmare Realm is destroyed, the vast majority of the dimension of Mewni is too merged with it to be spared, and so Mewni is destroyed with it.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Played with. When both Dipper and Mabel see the grave containing Bill Cipher's victims, Dipper expresses guilt over the fact that he doesn't know the name of a single one of 113 people who died, as it's a lot easier to just not know them when his friends and family survived the ordeal. However, the deaths of these people are not taken lightly and Mabel even has an emotional crisis of sorts.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: By the planned third story, the two general sides are both full of people of various alignments and allegiances, with the Pines-Butterfly Coalition tending to be ruthless but well-intentioned people generally ranging from Lawful Good, Lawful Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, and Chaotic Good, with the occasional Token Evil Teammate in the form of Belos, and the Lucitor-Cipher side consists of all varieties of evil and neutral as well as Moral Pragmatists and good people who bought into the Lucitors' PR scheme like Luz.
  • Moral Pragmatist: Emperor Belo subverts this; he helps the Pines-Butterfly Coalition in their war against Bill because their agendas compliment his (for now), but he's still doing immoral things behind their backs for similarly pragmatic reasons.
  • Muggle with a Degree in Magic: Ford and Dipper are both downplayed examples. They're extremely knowledgeable about magic and its functions—even moreso than most magic users—but as there's very little magic on Earth, they don't use it as easily or naturally as magic-users in other worlds. This is not to say they can't—there are a few instances in both Gravity Falls canon and this project in which Ford or Dipper use magic for themselves—but due to how limited a resource it is on Earth, they've adapted to using small amounts very efficiently, most often via Magitek.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Mabel has this reaction after realizing how selfish she's been, how little she's cared about Dipper after Pacifica tells her the true extent of Dipper's trauma and sacrifice, and whenever anyone brings up the consequences of Weirdmageddon in general. In response she tends to do her best to either rationalize away her realizations about her flaws, rationalize in a shallow solution she can perform to make herself feel better about those flaws, or suppress these feelings for fear of facing consequences should her perceived culpability be acknowledged. She's come to openly disbelieve in the worth of honesty in healthy and trusting relationships because she believes that if she were honest with the people in her life, she wouldn't have any relationships. As a consequence, she's never sincerely grown in response to these moments of guilt, and the resulting cyclical nature of that dishonestly, guilt, and temporary escape via further dishonesty has done serious damage to her emotional stability.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The outline for what would have been the ending doesn't shy away from the fact that the three remaining members of the Diamond Authority are genocidal fascists. It portrays them as having exterminated trillions of sapient beings and deserving of neither sympathy nor mercy.
  • The Needs of the Many: Ford and Dipper operate on this mentality—to uncomfortable extremes, at times.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Subverted. After a mad dash to evacuate as many people as possible from Mewni in only a few minutes using the few dimensional transportation devices to be had, Heckapoo hermetically seals the dimension to protect any other from being invaded in a similar manner. This traps everyone else in the dimension in with Bill's forces and renders then unable to escape or be rescued until the seal is removed. Those left behind are put to work as slaves, which actually causes the start of some peace between Mewmans and Monsters stemming from both races being treated equally terribly under Bill and the Lucitors, but as the dimension of Mewni is eventually destroyed along with Bill and only a few bits of the dimension are salvageable enough to cleaved to Earth, the majority of those who couldn't escape don't survive.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Mabel to Dipper: "Don't you feel accepted or whatever with me?" Yeesh.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: There's... something lurking on the edge of the narrative during the "Multiverse Chase" series of chapters, where the portal trio are chasing Bill through some kind of sci-fi setting where an alliance of numerous species is at war with some kind of enemy that is described as carrying out genocides upon entire planets and posing an existential threat to organic life as a concept. Whatever it or they are, this enemy never battles against the protagonists. Instead, Bill possess two people who have been made receptive to him by a need for knowledge that could help defeat this enemy, and one person who was hospitalized by the war against them.
  • One Dose Fits All: Subverted and Exploited by Dipper during a fight with an alien blood drinker possessed by Bill in an alien hospital. Dipper leaves himself open so Bill will try to drink his blood, but hid bags stuffed full of random liquid medicines under his clothes in the places he was likely to try and puncture, figuring that even in the advanced hospital they're in, drinking a huge dosage of random pharmaceuticals will have adverse effects. He's right.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Directly addressed in-text and changed with Retcon. The outline for the incomplete third story details the Pines-Butterfly Coalition happening to encounter Anne Boonchuy during their hunt for Bill, and shortly after they are attacked by Bill's forces. Anne is described as freaked out by this group of battle-hardened killers, quickly saying a heartfelt goodbye to the Plantars before hitching a ride with Dipper and departing the narrative. In the next series of chapter outlines, the author directly notes that in hindsight this doesn't make sense for the character, as Amphibia and the characters in it are pretty rough and violent in and of themselves, and Anne comes back into the narrative and gets more involved with the Cipher situation in Amphibia.
  • Outdated by Canon: The author, New Yorktown, plotted the events of the project back during the beginning of season three, at which point Tom's development and Eclipsa's moral alignment were still in question. As such, they went with what they believed made sense for the characters at that point. Unfortunately, it turns out Tom's development was sincere, so Tom's villainy in Three More reads as something of an artifact from an earlier interpretation of the character.
  • Out-Gambitted: Toffee learned information about the wand from Bill, but he's such a Magnificent Bastard that he managed to strike a contract that was entirely in his favor and Bill got nothing out of it, which seriously impressed and annoyed Bill.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Wendy ended up sent to a lumberjack camp at some point during the Time Skip, presumably by her father, and while she does return to town to welcome Mabel in the beginning of the fic this basically amounts to crowd shots, as Wendy has no meaningful interactions with the rest of the cast or even any dialogue.
    • Gideon and his father fled the town when the rest of its citizens refused to forgive him for serving Bill Cipher and tried to return him to prison. Mrs. Gleeful is apparently still in town, though by the sound of it her mental state hasn't improved.
  • Rags to Riches:
    • Inverted and played with for the Northwest family. Their finances took a massive hit during Weirdmageddon, and while Preston liquidated his remaining assets into a smaller but still substantial fortune, he refused to invest it in his family's quality of life and favored trying to play the market in an attempt to grow his fortune back to its previous state. They're still technically rich, but Preston's refusal to accept reality means his family now lives in a furniture-barren, dirty, bug-infested and poorly maintained house that hasn't been repaired since before Bill's attack because the only money Preston willingly put into it went towards installing himself a high-tech personal office.
    • Played straight with the Pines family in the planned ending, Pacifica included. The technology Dipper and Ford create and patent does end up taking the market by storm. The Pines never even end up having to compromise any of the rights to the patents to get production off the ground because Pacifica starts their own company with her inheritance, meaning the family keeps the full profit themselves.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The second story unambiguously portrays the use and effects of the Love God's love potions as date rape, as the person under their effects cannot consent to their own actions under the influence.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: In chapter 3, Pacifica tears into Mabel over her All Take and No Give attitude regarding Dipper over the course of the series, and specifically compares Mabel's selfish behavior to the way the Northwest parents raised Pacifica to behave—the same bad behaviors Pacifica is actively struggling to unlearn.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Dipper and Pacifica undergo this together in chapter six of "Three More Can Keep A Secret." Star and Marco undergo one three chapters later.
  • Replacement Goldfish:
    • Dipper briefly plays this role to Star as a result of him sharing a number of superficial traits with Marco, but she opts to not pursue this after seeing the genuine differences between the two and the obvious closeness he and Pacifica have. Star instead is motivated to push them together and later be more honest about her feelings.
    • There's an element of this in reverse, too: Dipper instinctually wants to trust Star because she comes across like a more earnest and accepting version of Mabel. As Mabel's lack of acceptance, understanding, and honesty towards her brother is the thing currently distancing their relationship, Star is both familiar and a relief. This similarity with Mabel is also why Dipper's better at working with Star's more strange behaviors and thought processes than others around him, who are generally far more baffled by her mannerisms, especially when first meeting her.
  • Rocky Roll Call: Ensues in the sequel once the cast discover Eclipsa free and talking to Star in the garden, much to everyone's confusion.
  • Sequel Escalation: Going by the outline for the cancelled half of the story, the series as a whole was planned to have a lot of this. The beginning sections taking place in the town of Gravity Falls were comparatively down to earth and low-stakes, focusing a lot more on character relationships and Fridge Logic left over from the series itself, sustaining the source show's Magical Realism atmosphere. "Three More" shifts focus to Mewni and significantly ups the stakes, becoming a dimension hopping borderline Dark Fantasy heavily focused on the bloody political machinations between nations of magic and monsters. The cancelled sequel would have intensified into an outright Science Fantasy Space Opera featuring the protagonists traveling across a war ravaged galaxy and battling against the incredibly vast armies of BOTH the Irkens and the Diamond Authority in order to have a final battle against a Bill that had become, in the words of the author, "a horrific JRPG final boss."
  • Shout-Out:
    • A pair of them to Doctor Who and specifically the Sixth Doctor at that: In imitation of Grunkle Ford, Mabel knits herself a Badass Longcoat described as "a knee length exploding rainbow of colors" out of severely disparate materials, and completes the outfit with yellow slacks and Mystery Shack style question marks on the shirt. Later on, Dipper dispatches someone attempting to kill him using an insect catching kit the same way The Doctor did in The Two Doctors.
    • There's also one to Big Finish Doctor Who in the form of a rhyme borrowed from Zagreus. Except with "Zagreus" replaced with "Cipher."
    • The cancelled third section of the story would have taken the Doctor Who references even farther by reinterpreting the Diamond Authority into Expies of the Daleks (complete with only mildly modified war chants) including the use of a “Factor” to introduce freedom to rank-and-file Gems and instigate a rebellion ala’ The Evil of the Daleks.
    • Also has one to Star vs. the Forces of Evil, where a group of Pixie magic crystal miners have set up in the woods.
    • Ford makes reference to having been a mega seed smuggler during his time lost in the portal, and later wonders if he’s going to spot a blue, spikey haired partner from those days among Rhombulus’ collection of crystallized interdimensional criminals, but concludes he could outwit the MHC any day of the week.
    • At one point, Dipper decides he needs to use "The Pines Family Secret Technique." Running away! Mabel also says that Bill couldn't destroy the Shack with "a muda barrage."
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Though Dipper has an element of moral ambiguity in the lengths he and his mentor take their For the Greater Good philosophy and Pacifica joking calls him an "intellectual bad boy," this trope is actually a major component of why Pacifica finds Dipper admirable and attractive. She sees his strong will, work ethic, and personal moral code (however unusual the latter is) as not only refreshing but life-changing for her to witness, and hold him in extremely high regard. The trope is played with a bit in that while Pacifica loves him, she doesn't acively seek him romantically, because she's been taught to think of loving relationships as opportunities for exploitation and can't shake the anxious guilt that she'd somehow be manipulating Dipper by dating him. It takes Star helping Pacifica work through her feelings in Three More for Pacifica to work up the courage to confess and ask Dipper out.
  • So Proud of You: Ford, Dipper's Parental Substitute, never misses a chance to internally or externally express how proud he is of how Dipper has grown both mentally and emotionally and avoided Ford's own missteps, even managing to help Ford himself grow more as a person.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: Acts as one to Universe Falls, an earlier Gravity Falls Fusion Fic that the writer of this fic was clearly influenced by but took the concept in a very different direction. UF combines the source show with "Steven Universe" and begins the story of both shows from the beginning with a shared setting with hefty amounts of Adaptation Origin Connection and (so far) no addditional crossover elements beyond reference jokes, while Three Can Keep A Secret begins after the end of the story of GF and employs Canon Welding to gradually introduce a large number of crossover elements. Both fics make heavy use of realism to interpret their source materials more tragically/realistically, Universe Falls places most of its emphasis on the emotional issues/connections the characters have with each other and resolving the ensuing angst, Three devotes much of its focus to the grand scale cosmic adventure and Surreal Horror inherent in the shared setting.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: One of the things Star and Dipper bond over is their shared strain of particularly bizarre, protective, open-minded and counter-intuitively selective paranoia. The two trust each other easily but bond over the story of Star chasing away Gustav, with Dipper being completely supportive of Star's actions and even offering to teach and equip Star regarding the use of alternative investigative resources like bugs, going so far as to explain how to best break into people's houses to place them. In response, Star calls Dipper a good friend and says she'd be happy to learn. Marco and Pacifica think they're both nuts.
  • Stupid Evil: This is Bill's primary weakness, as explained by Ford. While genuinely intelligent and manipulative, Bill Cipher's only genuine objective in all his plans and schemes is the exercising of his own sadism. As a result, rather than clean up clues or evidence that could be used to figure out his schemes, he'd rather leave evidence in place and build sadistic traps around it instead, even as the Pines family gets better and better at escaping them. In the cancelled series finale,the heroes would have exploited this by sending the assembled Pines into a face to face confrontation with Bill, giving the demon a chance to torment and tear apart the family that he can't resist, while the Butterfly family enters the Nightmare Realm and destroys it right under his nose.
  • Swapped Roles: Dipper and Mabel have essentially switched places in their previous dynamic, with Dipper now being the confident and well-adjusted secondary protagonist and Mabel being the primary focus character riddled with insecurities and suspicious of others.
  • Take That!: Dipper at one point calls Doctor Jelly Goodwell "the kind of idiot who thinks ancient aliens built the pyramids."
  • Token Evil Teammate: Emperor Belos, a prominent villain of The Owl House, is this to the Mewni and Earth forces standing against Bill Cipher, providing them intelligence on Bill's actions through his ability to scry across dimensions. He's authoritarian but pragmatic, and he understands the danger Bill poses to his land, so he, the Pines, and the Butterflies form an alliance.
  • Token Good Teammate: Because Belos joined the Pines-Butterfly Coalition, Luz refuses to trust them, and so ends up being taken in by the lies of Bill Cipher and the Lucitors and convinced of the goodness of the Lucitors' cause, joining the war on Bill's side.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Dipper, Mabel, and Pacifica have all become much more physically capable over the Time Skip, participating in and winning violent fights against supernatural creatures on several occasions.
  • Totem Pole Trench: Dipper and Janna pull this when posing as Stan's and Eclipsa's bodyguard during an investigation into a literal Death World.
  • The Unfavorite: In the first chapter there's some implications that the dynamics inside the Pines family home in Piedmont weren't exactly kind to Dipper.
    • When they're introducing Grunkle Stan as Stanley for the first time, Dipper questions his parents about whether they'd been under the impression that Gravity Falls would be a "fun learning summer science camp with [their] reclusive genius relative," and indicates his disagreement with this assumption if they were. His parents reply by belittling Dipper's supposed upset at this, claiming he's exaggerating how he feels, and saying that, if he is upset, they're sure it's his fault he didn't have a good time. They further insist that they know what Dipper went through at Gravity Falls without him having to tell them and they "won't hear a word to the contrary."
    • When Ford attempts to discuss his offer to apprentice Dipper, his parents interrupt by belittling Dipper's nickname and disparaging that he actually used it in public over the summer, seemingly unaware or uncaring of how uncomfortable Dipper is with people using his birth name.
    • When they go into another room to contemplate Ford's offer to apprentice Dipper and have him live in Gravity Falls full-time, they can be overheard calling Dipper's books (and, through the implication, their subject matter and thus his interests) "creepy." One of them also mentions that "summer was so nice," a comment that, when put in context with the fact that they'd spent summer without their children and this is being brought up in relation to Dipper moving away from them, seems to imply that they'd enjoyed Dipper's absence more than his presence.
    • In response to her and Dipper's parents doing all of this in front of guests, one of which they've never even met before, Mabel internally notes that "that's how they always talk to Dipper." By contrast, while Dipper's and Mabel's parents brush off, belittle, and make assumptions about Dipper's feelings, they go out of their way to respectfully ask Mabel how she feels about Dipper possibly going away, as if Mabel's desires for Dipper's future matters more in their consideration than Dipper's desires for his future. If this emotional belittling of one child is truly part of a regular pattern in the household as Mabel implies, that may indicate a level of emotional abuse; even though their parents receive only a portion of a chapter's focus, it's clear from whom Mabel learned her toxic behaviors towards Dipper.
      • Confirmed in Chapter 5 of "Down to Earth": After Mabel suffers an anxiety attack from suppressed guilt, she begins examining her own concept of happiness and happy memories but what had previously been her happiest memories now feel tainted in hindsight owing to how she treated Dipper during those moments. Struggling to find untainted happy memories, Mabel recalls that her parents had always told her that as long as she was happy, Dipper would be happy. It's only now that she realizes how truly messed up that line of thought is. When added to the Cloud Cuckoolanders Minder dynamic, the apparent regularity and dependency on Dipper's assistance in things like Mabel's schoolwork and chores, and the fact that their parents let Mabel decide whether Dipper could accept his apprenticeship or not, there forms a heavy implication that the Pines parents basically treated Dipper like his purpose was to be an aid and accessory to Mabel, an implication made heavier by the fact that, earlier in this same arc, Dipper tells Mabel that he's surprised their parents even know he's gone, openly stating that they always gave Mabel everything she wanted but never supported Dipper, and he genuinely believes they love her more.
    • When Mabel first reunites with Dipper in Gravity Falls at the very beginning of the story, Mabel notes that Dipper lacks the stress lines she always sees on his face when he's in Piedmont for Christmas.
  • The Unmasqued World: A recurring idea in the story is that Weirdmageddon and its aftereffects are too destructive and bizarre to permanently cover up, and Word of God eventually confirmed this trope as part of the planned ending to the series, but frames it rather positively: With the research they'd conducted and the allies they'd made across the multiverse, the Pines Family would help acclimate the people of earth to the existence of magic, becoming famous, rich and renowned by creating a golden age of Weird Science that cures diseases, promotes human peace and opens other dimensions to exploration.
  • War for Fun and Profit: The Lucitors are cast as war profiteers making money by facilitating and escalating wars, who openly engage in moraly dubious practices such as creating weapons from the deceased souls that wind up in their dimension after death. It's portrayed as immorally as it sounds. Ford describes the "soul foraging" process as "grinding up the souls of the dead to make weapons to make more dead" and calls the act "completely barbaric." Queen Moon's staunch and condescending defense of the practice and claim that the fate of the souls don't matter because they've been "damaged into submewmanity during the process of death" is one of the standout moments that highlight her extremely questionable moral standing. When Ford brings evidence to her that the Lucitors may be working against Mewni and warns her that war profiteers only stand to benefit greatly from Playing Both Sides, Moon and the Magic High Commission brush him off, arguing that the Lucitors have been staunch allies in providing weapons to use against the monsters and their weapons only end up in monster hands due to the rare outlying sympathizer who smuggles overstock weapons out without the Lucitors knowing. Ford turns out to be right.
  • War Refugees: Everyone who manages to escape from Mewni before Hekapoo seals the dimension ends up in Gravity Falls, where they set up camp and functionally slowly join the community. However, the refugees stay intimately involved with the war effort, as the whole town works together to combat Bill Cipher anew.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: The episode overview indicates that just because the refugees of Mewni are in dire straits doesn't mean they're just going to forget their differences and get along. The mewmans will work with the humans, and the monsters will work with the humans, but the mewmans refuse to work with the monsters. Judging by how they come to view Mabel after she tries to use Mermando as a positive example of a monster, it's very possible that the mewmans may ramp up tensions with the humans if they view the humans as too monster-positive.
  • Wicked Cultured: King Dave, according to the canceled plot outline. He's a noted lover of the theater and very interested in the arts of other worlds and cultures.
  • Window Watcher: During Star's first full conversation with Eclipsa, Eclipsa causually deduces that Star's been using the All Seeing Eye to spy on Dipper's and Pacifica's private moments together, because she wanted to know what it was like to have a friend with whom you've become romantically involved. Star's very ashamed and embarrassed by this, but comforted by Eclipsa's lack of judgement towards her.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: While while many mewmans and monsters manage to escape to Earth before it happens, the dimension of Mewni itself is destroyed in the battle against Bill Cipher. The Butterflies, their subjects, and the monsters all end up relocating to Earth permanently.
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