Grunkle Stan regales a lost traveler with a series of three "Tales Designed to Sell My Merchandise":
Hands Off: Stan loses his hands after provoking a "Hand-Witch" who lives in the mountains.
Abaconings: An intelligence-boosting mushroom makes Waddles a genius, but threatens his friendship with Mabel.
Clay Day: Grunkle Stan's attempts to help Mabel overcome her fear of stop-motion leads to an assault by ferocious claymation monsters.
Tropes in this episode:
- 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: The cart that smart Waddles rides on.
- Absent-Minded Professor: Smart Waddles has shades of this, as he (along with Dipper) gives dangerous inventions to Grenda and Candy without a second thought. The Percepshroom may've put his intelligence through the roof, but they didn't do a thing for his wisdom.
- Affectionate Parody: Clay Day takes a few playful shots at Stop Motion Animation, and a couple at animation in general.
- An Aesop: Here are the real ones; the Spoof Aesop is below.
- If a person is mad at you, it may not have to do with you. If you did wrong to them, rectify it, but sometimes they have personal issues.
- Seeking knowledge has a price; so does staying friends with the one you love. If you're going to seek knowledge, do it to help others, not to become the smartest pig in the room.
- You don't have to conquer your fears to face them, or "re-mold them."
- And I Must Scream: The customer's fate at the end of the episode is stuck behind glass as a new exhibit. It's implied that Stan even glues his mouth shut!
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Genius!Waddles says that his Smarticle Accelerator will help him find the answers to such dilemmas as "the origin of life, the meaning of existence, [and] why dudes have nipples!"
- Aesop Amnesia: "Well, I learned nothing!"
- Battle Discretion Shot: The final battle inside Harry Claymore's studio gets turned into an Offscreen Moment of Awesome because of this. The witnesses even lampshade it.
- Breather Episode: "Abaconings" was more a cutesy story about Waddles gaining intelligence, sandwiched in-between scarier stories of Stan and the kids attacked by cursed disembodied hands and claymation monsters.
- Canon Discontinuity: The stories themselves and even the Framing Device are almost certainly not canon to the rest of the show, considering that the cipher keyword is "non-canon". Stan also states that he made up "Abaconings," and the page about Percepshrooms is the only one seen in the show not in the real-life Journal 3.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Stan traps the customer in a glass cage and uses him as tourist attraction in the Mystery Shack because he didn't buy anything, then Dipper and Mabel are undisturbed by seeing him trapped in the credits and don't help him out. There's really no reason for Stan to be that malicious and petty or for Dipper and Mabel to be that callous/oblivious besides it being funny and the episode being non-canon.(Tourist scrawls 'HELP ME' in glass)
Mabel: I don't think you're playing this right.
- The Comically Serious: Waddles, as played by Neil deGrasse Tyson. When he knocks over a laptop, he types, "Forgive me. My pig arms are cute and useless."
- Continuity Nod:
- Creator Career Self-Deprecation: In "Clay Day".Stan: You see, Mabel, those monsters are just tiny clay figures moved around one frame at a time by an anti-social shut in.
Soos: Those people are called "animators."
Dipper: What?! But how are these things real? What about stop-motion animation?
- And again, a few minutes later:
Harry Claymore: What? You really believe someone moves these figures around one frame at a time? I'm not a masochist!
- Didn't Think This Through: Dipper in "Abaconings," finding a Percepshroom that would stimulate brain power, and rubbing it all over his forehead. You'd think he would have learned from "Little Dipper" about messing with strange substances. Justified in that Stan is telling the story.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Stan locks the visitor to the Mystery Shack in a glass case and makes him a new attraction because he didn't buy anything. To make it worse, the guy only even came there because his car broke down.Stan: That's right, I'm a jerk!
- Eye Recall: Waddles does this as he is remembering his past adventures with Mabel, inspiring him to return to his old self.
- Face Your Fears: Subverted. Mabel does not overcome her fear of claymation. In fact, she's twice as afraid of it now that she knows her fear is rational.
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: At the end, Stan gives the viewer a potion that causes the viewer to collapse on the ground. The next day, the viewer wakes up, as an attraction in the Mystery Shack that Stan calls "The Cheapskate" for not having bought any of the items he offered. Tourists look at the attraction in awe.
- Framing Device: Stan trying to sell merchandise to an unseen customer serves as one for the three stories.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: During "Hands Off", you can briefly see Agent Powers at the swap meet and Agent Trigger at the bowling alley.
- Mabel's VHS of Shimmery Twinkleheart and Cinnamon is so low-quality that it has a background cel with the episode production number visibly written on it.
- Genius Serum: In the story "Abaconings", Waddles becomes super intelligent from eating a Percepshroom that Dipper found, choosing to pursue the answers to life's questions and problems. He chooses to give up his intellect because his pursuits will not give him any time to spend with Mabel (and he misses getting his tummy rubbed), much to the dismay of Dipper.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
Stan: Movies are great! You watch the movie, you scare the girl, the girl snuggles up next to you, next thing you know you gotta raise a kid, your life falls apart...forget that last part.
- In the first segment "Hands Off," Stan asks for his hands back from the witch who stole them because he has a gesture to show her.
- And then, when he gives her back the watch he stole from her, she drops it down the front of her shirt for safekeeping.
- In "Hands Off" as well, the witch is reading a magazine that says "Witches Be Trippin."
- In "Abaconings", the puzzle box Dipper has says that if you solve the crazy-hard puzzle, you could get your picture on the box. The nerd on the box who looks like Stanford as a kid is being kissed by a hot woman in a one-piece swimsuit. Dipper says with a grin, "Whoa. That's false advertising I can get behind."
- When Dipper and Genius!Waddles build the machine to find out all of the answers to the universe's questions, Genius!Waddles says that one of the questions it will answer is "Why do dudes have nipples?".
- This wonderful little tidbit from Grunkle Stan:
- Halloween Episode: Part of Disney's "Monstober" month-long special, and the 2nd one for the show after "Summerween." It's non-canon, not unlike the Simpsons' "Treehouse of Horror" specials, given that the post-credits cipher reads "noncanon." Since the stories fit into the rubric of the show, the only way anyone would've known (aside from the extreme Comedic Sociopathy) is that cipher.
- Helping Hands: The Handwitch from "Hands Off!" has a small army of disembodied hands at her beck and call.
- Homage: The "Clay Day" short is one to Ray Harryhausen, right down to the animated director being a stand-in for the late director.
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Mabel manages to give one to Waddles, when her friendship with him is threatened and tries to get him to realize what he became.
- Impairment Shot: When Stan gives the customer a sleeping potion.
- Intelligence = Isolation: Waddles gives up being a genius in "Abaconings" when he realizes solving the worlds' problems will give him no time to be with his owner/best friend Mabel.
- Large Ham Radio: At the start of "Abaconings", Mabel and Waddles play at being "May-May and the Hogg".
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The latter half of the battle between Claymore's stop-motion monsters and Twinkleheart is done as a Shadow Discretion Shot, with the characters remarking that stop-motion is really expensive.Soos: Sure is an impressive battle, though. I sure am glad I'm facing towards it.
- Left the Background Music On: The spooky tinkling music that plays when the Hand-Witch meets Grunkle Stan turns out to be coming from the Cute Biker's wind-chimes.
- Medium Blending: The third tale features stop-motion film in-universe done in actual claymation.
- Negative Continuity: None of the episode is really meant to be canon, but while the first two shorts at least end in Status Quo Is God, the last of the three shorts ends with Soos turned into a clay monster and then seemingly killed when Stan throws a television through his head.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Smart Waddles merely has to "talk" with Neil deGrasse Tyson 's voice to show how awesome he has become. He's even using Nerf darts to chase away Gompers.
- Non-Standard Character Design: The claymation figures blending in with the traditional animation.
- Oh, Crap!: A brief one shown by Grunkle Stan after Mabel (off-screen) lets him know Waddles isn't for sale with a well-placed suction dart to the fez.
- P.O.V. Cam: The Framing Device is seen entirely through the eyes of the customer Stan is telling the stories to.
- Pun-Based Title: All of the shorts in the episode each have one.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Discussed in "Abaconings" and played straight; Waddles chooses to become a normal pig again after the Percepshroom made him smarter, even though solving all the mysteries of the world could benefit humanity. Dipper doesn't think to try using the Percepshroom again and keeping it out of Waddles's reach.
- Schmuck Bait: The "potion" that Stan offers as a free sample, actually a knockout drug. Even if it was a Jerkass move for Stan.
- The title of the episode refers to...well, it should be obvious.
- Stan grabs a sphere that looks like the eye of Sauron. Presumably, it's a palantír.
- The Hand Witch is wearing The Master's robe from Manos: The Hands of Fate.
- The Hand Witch made a chair of hands that looks like the Iron Throne.
- The claymation cyclops the Pines family faces resembles the cyclops that appeared in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, while the skeletons are based on the skeleton warriors that appeared in Jason and the Argonauts. Fitting, considering that Harry Claymore is himself a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Ray Harryhausen.
- At the beginning of "Clay Day," the clock on the wall is Bubo.
- At the end of "Clay Day", Soos turns into Gumby.
- He also says, "Holy toledo!", which was the catchphrase of Pokey.
- Genius Waddles is a shout out to two prominent scientists. The first with the mobile wheel chair and voice synthesizer is Stephen Hawking, the second with his whimsical and awe-inspiring speech on science that is typical of him, is Neil deGrasse Tyson, who in fact voices Waddles.
- The title "Abaconings" is a pun on Awakenings.
- Spoof Aesop: According to "Clay Day," all stop-motion animation is evil. Also, it's rational to be scared of it.
- Stealth Pun: In the cave scene in "Hands Off!", we see Dipper fighting off several of the disembodied hands through punches. He was engaging in hand-to-hand combat.
- Turned Against Their Masters: In "Clay Day", Harry Claymore used black magic to animate his stop-motion monsters and make filming easier, but when computer animation made his creations obsolete, they went berserk and trapped Claymore in his own home.
- Waddles also temporarily does this to Mabel, preferring to share his genius with the world than to make Mabel happy. But Mabel convinces him to reverse that decision.
- The Unreveal: We never find out who the person whom Stan tried to sell to was.
- Three Shorts: This Halloween episode has three short stories.
- Unreliable Narrator: Stan, in telling the stories. He even makes up "Abaconings."
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Dipper and Mabel act astoundingly undisturbed by the man trapped in a glass cage in The Stinger.
- Uplifted Animal: Waddles becomes highly intelligent after eating the mashed-up Percepshroom.
- Vignette Episode: The second one after "Bottomless Pit!"
- Voice for the Voiceless: When Waddles becomes smart, he builds a cart that does all the talking for him.
- Zerg Rush: The magic hands attack Stan, Mabel and Dipper like this.