Was Mabel from Gravity Falls Selfish, and Did She Deserve the Backlash?

While Mabel Pines has faced her fair share of criticism over the years, the extent of the backlash against her character may be unjustified.

Since the conclusion of Gravity Falls in 2016, one of the recurring debates in the show’s fandom revolves around whether Mabel Pines, voiced by Kristen Schaal, can be labeled as excessively selfish, potentially unlikable, or even poorly written. Opinions on Mabel have spanned the spectrum, from regarding her as the series’ true hero to blaming her for the chaos of Weirdmageddon. Finding a nuanced perspective on this debate is challenging, but it’s essential to recognize that both the accusations against her and the intense backlash she’s received have their nuances.

Mabel Pines was one half of the Pines twins, serving as a core protagonist alongside her brother Dipper in Gravity Falls. While Dipper often took center stage, the show’s narrative was built around both twins. As the series progressed, it became apparent that the twins’ character flaws were quite distinct: Dipper’s eagerness to grow up and tendency to overthink, leading to mistakes, contrasted with Mabel’s desire to remain a child, which often led to selfish actions.

What Are the Criticisms Against Mabel Pines?

Many fans’ frustrations with Mabel stem from her seemingly frequent success in getting her way without having to make sacrifices or learn important lessons. Instances such as guilting Dipper into canceling his date with Wendy to retrieve her pet pig or the finale where Dipper chooses to forgo a potentially perfect opportunity to work with Ford in favor of attending middle school with Mabel have left the impression that Mabel doesn’t learn from her actions and remains selfish—a concerning trait for a supposed protagonist.

However, these criticisms, while valid to some extent, overlook crucial aspects of Mabel’s character. First and foremost, Mabel doesn’t always get her way; in fact, she often experiences setbacks or willingly gives up her desires after learning valuable lessons. Numerous episodes depict Mabel either losing or sacrificing something she desires as a result of her actions. She faces the consequences of her kindness to others or exerts significant effort to achieve her goals.

Why Mabel Pines Faces Harsh Judgment

The underlying reason for the harsh judgment against Mabel may be tied to her gender. Heroines tend to face more scrutiny for their flaws compared to male heroes. However, there are other factors at play. Dipper’s desire to grow up quickly may appear more justifiable and noble to some fans than Mabel’s wish to remain a child. Many Gravity Falls enthusiasts are adults who understand the potential consequences of clinging to childhood, making Dipper’s perspective more relatable and admirable. Additionally, the debate surrounding Dipper’s choice to stay with Ford for a better job may not resonate with the show’s younger audience. Those who identify with Mabel may find it frustrating that her viewpoint seemingly prevails without her learning the lesson.

Furthermore, the show’s greater focus on Dipper as a protagonist provides more opportunities for fans to connect with his struggles and character development, leaving less screen time for Mabel. This might explain why some fans view Mabel’s flaws more critically than Dipper’s. However, it’s essential to remember that Mabel is a twelve-year-old character, and expecting her to learn and grow as quickly as an adult might be an unfair standard to impose, let alone labeling her as a villain.

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