Ford's identity and whereabouts were a central mystery and element of foreshadowing of the Gravity Falls series until the middle of the show's second season when he was revealed to be Stan Pines' long-lost twin brother, who vanished after a fight with his brother caused him to stumble through the universe portal.
Stanford Pines was born in the 1950s to Filbrick and Caryn Pines in Glass Shard Beach, New Jersey, along with his twin brother, Stanley. From an early age, Ford was fascinated with the supernatural and science fiction. He displayed an abnormally high I.Q. and a rare birth defect that granted him an extra finger on both hands. Despite their vastly different personalities, Ford and his brother were the best of friends, often roaming the beach in search of adventure. Unfortunately, their youth was plagued with frequent bullying due to Ford's six fingers and Stan's wimpish characteristics, most notably from their childhood tormentor Crampelter. This prompted their father to enlist them in boxing lessons as a means of toughening them up.
As the twins reached adolescence, Ford's brains and scientific achievement expanded a contrast to his brother's disinterest in academics. The two remained close, working together on their ship (called the Stanowar) to fulfill their childhood dreams of sailing around the globe until Ford was summoned to the Principal's office. There, he was lauded as a genius and offered the chance to show his science fair experiment, a Perpetual Motion Machine, to a visiting team of recruiters from West Coast Tech, a prestigious university on the other side of the country. With promises of fortune and success should he be accepted, Ford became less sure of his plans with Stan, revealing to his twin that he'd seize the chance to go if it happened.
However, on the day of the visit, Ford and the West Coast Tech team simultaneously discover that the Perpetual Motion Machine has stopped moving, defeating its sole purpose. A distraught Ford discovers an empty bag of Toffee Peanuts next to his display, and mistakenly believes Stanley has sabotaged him. He angrily confronts his brother back home and doesn't interfere while his father kicks Stan out of the house, disowning him until he could pay back the potential millions he cost the Pines family. He is seen sadly looking out at his brother from the window of their shared room, before a glance at a West Coast Tech pamphlet gives him the strength to close the blinds on him.
Ford reluctantly enrolls himself in Backupsmore University, a low-ranking college whose most notable achivement is clean dorms. Despite the drawback, he set himself to the task and worked hard, entering a doctoral program three years ahead of schedule. It was during this time that Ford met and befriended Fiddleford McGucket, a genius mechanic aspiring to build personalized computers. Following the completion of a nationally ranked thesis, Stanford was awarded an enormous grant of one hundred thousand dollars, which brought an end to his studies at Backupsmore. When thinking of how to employ the grant, Ford recalled how he'd been antagonized by his six fingers all through childhood, and decided to dedicate his life to the study of oddities. He chose the sleepy hamlet of Gravity Falls, Oregon, believing it to be an area of high concentration of supernatural occurrences.
Putting his grant money to use in the construction of a large, isolated research lab in the forest, Ford was soon entranced by Gravity Falls' weirdness. He recorded his many findings first in one, then in more journals as his discoveries increased. Eventually, he realized a need to expand his work area, establishing a small, heavily protected bunker laboratory to host his more dangerous projects and experiments, such as the Shape Shifter. Ford made use of his talents and newly acquired knowledge of Gravity Falls to create new and extraordinary inventions, including the mind-swapping Electron Carpet and a mind-controlling tie designed for the masters of presidential election candidate Ronald Reagan.
By 1981, six years since his arrival in Gravity Falls, Stanford had an encyclopedic knowledge of his mysterious new home, and was in the process of writing his third journal. Unfortunately, he soon hit a roadblock, and was left without answers as to how the improbalilities of Gravity Falls had come to be. The plateau in his research led him to the discovery of a cave filled with cryptic hieroglyphics, as the message spoke of an entity containing unending knowledge. Despite the warnings about the entity, Ford repeated the incantation aloud, which summoned a triangular creature who introduced himself as Bill Cipher into his mindscape. Presenting himself as a muse, one who chose a genius intellectual to inspire once every century, Bill offered Ford a partnership: Bill would bestow his knowledge to Ford in exchange for the ability to move freely within and without Ford's own mind.
Under Cipher's guidance, Ford was introduced to vast information, learning of a parallel dimension of paranormal phenomena that had leaked into his world, which gave birth to the weirdness of Gravity Falls. With Bill's assistance, Stanford drafted blueprints to create an interdimensional gateway beneath his home, recruiting his college friend McGucket and his mechanic prowess for the project. As construction went underway, Ford's admiration towards Bill and his wisdom escalated into worship, which led to his collecting triangular memorabilia, such as rugs and statues, modeling his home's architecture in his image and even converting his private study to a place of worship.
As their partnership seemingly grew to friendship, McGucket became increasingly suspicious of the device they had constructed and of Ford's mysterious collaborator, as Ford refused to reveal Bill's identity to his friend. When the portal's first trial resulted in Fiddleford accidentally going through it, bringing back a macabre warning about "the beast with just one eye", Ford finally became suspicious as well. He resolved to continue the project however, even though he now faced it alone: McGucket, disturbed by his glimpse of the Nightmare Realm and horrified at Ford for wanting to continue, quit on the spot.
The argument led to Ford questioning his mentor. It was then that Bill revealed his intentions of merging the Nightmare Realm with their dimension, even showing Ford a glimpse the horrors that lay beyond the rift. Refusing to part with his life's work, Ford deactivated the device and created Project Mentem, a machine capable of bio-electrically encrypting thoughts, which prevented Cipher from wreaking havoc in the mindscape. Despite these precautions, Ford remained deeply paranoid and fearful of the catastrophe he'd nearly caused; he took to journaling and even amending previous journal entries with invisible ink.
With his fear of Bill's inevitable return growing stronger, Ford eventually felt the need to abandon his research and hide his journals, thus preventing details on the portal's operation from falling into the wrong hands. Hiding his second and third journals locally and converting his offsite laboratory into a makeshift fallout shelter, designed to survive an apocalypse, Ford finally contacted estranged brother Stanley in an urgent call for help.
After Stan's arrival, Ford's plight was near its end, as his final task rested on his brother's shoulders: after briefly explaining the portal and its power, Ford entrusted Stan his first journal, the only one still in his possession, and requested him to take it as far away as he could. Hurt and enraged at being summoned only to be sent as far as possible, Stan spitefully claimed he'd get rid of the journal by burning it, which prompted Ford to react in defense of his research. The brawl escalated into a fistfight within the laboratory that inadvertently reactivated the portal. As the fight neared the active portal, Stan angrily shoved the journal back into Ford's hands, which inadvertently pushed Ford into the gateway's range. While a helpless Stan watched, Ford first yelled at his twin to do something, then tossed him the journal, before disappearing through the gateway.
Ford found himself stranded between dimensions in an unfamiliar netherworld of the supernatural, something he was hardly prepared for. Ford wandered through various dimensions over the next thirty years, such as the "strangely pleasant" Dimension 52. He also came into contact with otherworldly items, such as the "highly-illegal" infinity sided dice.
In "Tourist Trapped," Ford's grandnephew, Dipper Pines, unwittingly stumbles upon Ford's third journal and becomes absorbed by the information it contains. He quickly begins to use this knowledge to aid him in his encounters with the supernatural.
In "The Hand That Rocks the Mabel", it is revealed that Gideon Gleeful has somehow come into possesion of Journal 2.
In "Dreamscaperers", when Gideon summons Bill Cipher and requests his help against "Stanford Pines", a brief image of Ford can be seen projected upon Bill's body as the demon recalls the real Stanford Pines. He also appears in Stan's memories, sitting in the background and holding a book over his face.
In "Carpet Diem", Soos discovers what used to be Ford's room, presumably boarded up by Stan. The room, which has remained untouched for thirty years, contains Ford's electron carpet experiment and his glasses, the latter inspiring nostalgia in Stan.
During the events of "Gideon Rises" Gideon is shown to have some idea of the hidden power detailed in the journals, and is shown to be convinced that they are all he needs to take over Gravity Falls. He reveals Journal 2 to the Pines twins, takes Journal 3 from Dipper and, upon learning that there are three journals, mistakenly attempts to coerce them into giving him Journal 1.  After his defeat, Dipper reveals the journals to Stan, who asks to borrow them, secretly using the information to finally advance in reactivating the portal.
In "Into the Bunker", after learning about the invisible ink in his journal, Dipper leads his friends into the Author's bunker to search for clues of his whereabouts. There, they come face-to-face with a man who claims to be the Author. When Wendy recognizes the man as the man on the logo of a can of beans, the creature reveals itself as the Author's 210th experiment, the Shape Shifter. They also discover a prototype laptop with the label "Property of F", which they believe belonged to the Author.
In "Society of the Blind Eye," after discovering that the laptop was manufactured by McGucket Labs, Dipper becomes convinced that Old Man McGucket is the Author. In confronting McGucket, Dipper learns of the mysterious Blind Eye Society and goes to look for them. After recovering McGucket's memories from the Society, it is revealed that McGucket was the assistant of "a visiting researcher" who had been "cataloguing his findings about Gravity Falls in a series of journals". This effectively disqualified McGucket as the Author, but failed to shed light on his identity, as McGucket didn't have clear memories of Ford at the time.
In "Not What He Seems," it is revealed that Stan has been collecting radioactive waste, for the purpose of powering a "doomsday device". While searching his room, the twins find an old newspaper clipping that reports on the death of "Stan Pines", leading the twins to wonder who their Grunkle Stan really is. After the portal is finally put into motion, a hooded, six-fingered figure comes out: Stan identifies the figure as the author of the journals, his brother.
In "A Tale of Two Stans," Ford is less than happy at seeing the portal running, punching Stan over it instead of thanking him, despite this being their first interaction since his disappearance. While he seems pleasantly surprised to discover he has a niece and nephew (Dipper and Mabel), he is very angry to discover that his brother has been going by the name "Stanford" for the past thirty years. This is news to the twins and Soos, which leads to him and Stan recounting the story of their lives. The story is punctuated by his and Stan's unresolved anger at one another, which even Mabel can't discourage.
After the story is finished, the government agents surrounding the Shack finally discover the door behind the vending machine and are seconds away from breaking in. Worried about the portal being discovered, Ford takes Dipper's mind erasing gun and amplifies to radio head set frequency, directly targeting the agents. The effect is broadcast all around the Shack, making the agents forget about the entire operation and allowing Ford to go upstairs to convince them that he's a government envoy, come to explain that the power surges in Gravity Falls were caused by "an unreported meteor shower", a shameful mistake that he offers to take responsibility for. He gets them to hand over the entire case's flash drive before they leave, which he feeds to Gompers. When he and Stan get a chance to talk, Ford tells his brother he can stay in the house and watch the kids, on the condition that he will give him his house and his name back, and shut the Mystery Shack down for good once the summer ends. In return, he agrees to Stan's demand that he stay away from Dipper and Mabel.
In "Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons," Ford emerges from the basement, fighting a Cycloptopus, which he quickly defeats. He gently refuses Dipper's offers of help, insisting his work is too dangerous. Later, when Dipper falls into the basement with his 38 sided die, an initially stern Ford recognizes it from the game Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons, and both excitedly agree to play. They begin playing in the basement, and their session gradually takes over the house, including the living room where Stan, Mabel, and Grenda were about to watch the Duck-tective season finale. After Stan accidentally rolls the infinity-sided die and releases Probabilitor the Annoying, Ford and Dipper are captured by the wizard and taken to the forest, where he intends to eat their brains. When the others arrive, Probabilitor shrinks Ford and Dipper, turning them into playing pieces for a D,D,&D challenge against Stan and Mabel. Under Stan and Mabel's guidance, Dipper and Ford defeat Probabilitor's ogres and Impossibeast, returning to full size. Ford is later seen in the basement with Dipper, where he finally accepts his nephew's friendship, and even reveals his secret operation: not only did he destroy the portal, but he has also contained the interdimensional rift produced by it in a small case. He makes Dipper promise not to tell anyone about its existence before locking the rift away.
In "The Stanchurian Candidate," Ford is seen replacing a broken light bulb with one of his own inventions that will last for one thousand years and make everyone's skin softer. Later in the episode, Ford gives Dipper a mind-control tie to help Stan win the election for mayor of Gravity Falls against Bud Gleeful.
In "The Last Mabelcorn," Ford is fast asleep on a couch when an unseen force seems to enter his dreams. Within the dream, Ford demands the presence reveal itself: it is Bill Cipher, who greets Ford by his full name and calls him his "old pal". He reveals that he knows of Ford dismantling the portal, of the contained rift and taunts Ford, telling him he will slip up and "things change." Ford calls a family meeting the next day, where he discovers that Bill has already been antagonizing the twins (such as invading Stan's mind and possessing Dipper), and sets about Bill-proofing the shack: he sends Mabel on a quest to obtain unicorn hair for the protective barrier, but believing success with the unicorns is unlikely, he takes Dipper to his private study, where he reveals Project Mentem to him and straps him in, all while dodging his questions about Bill. Ford falls asleep while the machine is scanning Dipper's thoughts. He wakes up to the sight of his own thoughts projected on the Project Mentem screen, as Dipper had been unable to resist his own and put the helmet on him. He fails to reassure his grand nephew that he isn't currently possesed, leading Dipper to take a shot at him with the memory gun: the shot ricochets off of Ford's glasses, but hits the machine, rendering it unusable. When Ford finally calms Dipper down, he finally confesses, telling Dipper about his partnership with Bill and how he'd become aware of the horror he'd almost unleashed upon the world. Ford vows not to keep anymore secrets from Dipper in order to better fight against Bill, and reassures Mabel that she's a good person when she returns with the unicorn hair. Ford and Dipper then put together the protective shield around the Mystery Shack, effectively Bill-proofing it.
In "Dipper and Mabel vs. the Future," Ford realizes that the rift's case is cracking. He enlists Dipper's help in sealing the rift, to prevent what he calls a "Weirdmageddon." They venture to the weird-shaped cliffs in Gravity Falls, which Ford reveals was formed by a crashed UFO that is now buried under Gravity Falls. Ford takes Dipper inside the UFO to search for an extraterrestrial adhesive capable of shutting the cracks. As they venture further, Ford ask Dipper about his plans for the future, eventually offering his great nephew the chance to stay in Gravity Falls once the summer ends to pursue an apprenticeship with him. As he has 12 Ph.Ds, Ford argues that he can offer him an education better than the one available at any school. He also attempts to assuage his discomfort at leaving Mabel; Ford seems positive that Mabel will do well on her own due to her personality. Ford insists that Dipper has the potential to become something great and as Dipper worries about his potential, Ford realizes that Dipper's magnetic gun revealed the alien adhesive. They accidentally activate the UFO security system and Ford gets caught. Before the security droid could ship Ford somewhere unknown, Dipper manages to save him. Ford once again offers his nephew to become his apprentice and Dipper finally decides to accept the offer. After Dipper talks to Mabel about his decision to stay with Ford, Dipper returns to Ford's lab to seal the rift. However, Mabel has taken Dipper's bag by accident and Bill manages to trick Mabel into giving him the rift. As Bill destroys the case and opens the rift, Ford and Dipper watch in horror as Bill fulfills his plans.
In "Weirdmageddon Part 1," Ford and Dipper witness more of Weirdmageddon as all of the creatures in Gravity Falls escape the area. Ford tells Dipper that Bill is getting stronger the longer the rift is open and the two set out to defeat Bill once more. Ford takes Dipper to the town's clock tower and prepares his quantum destabilizer to shoot Bill. However, Ford gets distracted when a weirdness wave hits the bell, causing him to miss his shot. Bill confronts Ford and informs his fellow beings about Ford building the portal. Ford is offered to join to be a member of Bill's gang of weird creatures but Ford instantly declines. Bill then gives Ford a riddle and when Ford poses the same as Bill, Bill turns Ford into gold and uses him as a backscratcher.
In "Weirdmageddon 2: Escape From Reality," Bill notices that a force-field prevents him and his forces from spreading their chaos worldwide. So he thinks of turning to Ford and make him "come out of retirement."
In "Weirdmageddon 3: Take Back The Falls," Ford is brought out of his golden state by Bill to find himself chained in a strange room. Bill makes an entrance playing the piano before making a drink appear in Ford's hand, who then sits down on the couch he is chained to. When Bill mentions the couch is made of live human skin and multiple facial features emerge from the cushions, Ford leaps up in shock and drops his drink. Quickly recovering, he insists Bill quits the games, stating he wouldn't be alive if Bill didn't want something from him. Bill gives a brief demonstration of his power before explaining his inability to escape Gravity Falls. Ford incredulously states it is a property to Gravity Falls weirdness magnetism which he studied years ago. Bill asks if he learned how to deactivate it, to which Ford admits knowing the simple formula capable of collapsing the barrier before spitefully yelling he would never tell Bill. At first, Bill tries persuasion, revealing his intentions of "liberating" the third dimension and offering to make Ford an all-powerful being if he helped. Ford denied this immediately, calling Bill insane. Bill then declared he would invade Ford's mind to get the code, but Ford called him out on his claim, reminding him of the rules of the mindscape. Ford declared that despite Bill's abilities with dreams, he couldn't enter Ford's mind without Ford shaking on a deal and letting him in. Bill, seemingly weary, claims Ford was making things harder than they needed to be and has Ford magically re-chained around both his legs and neck. As Ford struggled with the chains, Bill insisted everyone had a weakness and it was only a matter of time before Stanford would talk. The scene fades with Ford screaming as Bill begins trying to torture Ford into giving him the equation.
Meanwhile, Ford was unaware that Dipper, Mabel, Stan and the others were planning to rescue him in hopes that his knowledge of how to defeat Bill could get rid of him once and for all. The main objective of their mission was to rescue Ford, who was hailed as a hero in the rebels' eyes to the point where his six-fingered hand was a prominent sign on their trademark flag. Everyone was keen on the plan except for Grunkle Stan, who was still angry for never receiving a thank-you for saving his brother's life the first time. Still, the plan went through, and an armored robot Mystery Shack stormed to the Fearamid to rescue Ford.
The rescue began as Ford was continually tortured by Bill. Chained hand and foot, he was shocked by a 500 watt jolt from Bill's eyeball before the dream demon gave Ford another chance to give him the equation. Ford, despite his injuries and shock, was still vigorously resistant to Bill's demands. Just before Bill began shocking him again, the kids broke into the Fearamid. Bill sent out his henchmen to fight while he and Ford stayed behind, watching the battle. When the henchmaniacs were defeated, Bill was frustrated but noticed Ford's pride in Dipper and Mabel's success. When the demon stated how much the kids cared for Ford and visa versa, Ford realized his grave mistake as Bill now intended to torture the kids to get Ford to talk. When Ford tried resisting Bill, he was again turned to gold as the evil triangle went to take care of the heroes himself.
When Bill's eye was torn out in the battle, a rescue team composed of Mabel (armed with her grappling hook), Dipper (bringing his magic flashlight), Soos (carrying the memory eraser), Wendy, Stan, McGucket, Pacifica and Sheriff Blubs shot into action, landing in the pyramid with Mabel's knit parachutes. They approached the throne of agony and Mabel used her grappling hook to scale it, finding Ford frozen solid on the arm of the chair. Per Gideon's instructions, Dipper and Mabel pulled Mayor Tyler Cutebiker from the bottom of the structure, causing everyone to unfreeze, including Ford. After the proud uncle congratulated his grandniece and grandnephew, he turned to face McGucket, stating they hadn't seen each other since they parted ways and realizing his old partner must hate him. However, McGucket said he had tried forgetting and now would try forgiving, patching things up with Ford, who ignored his brother Stanley's presence completely.
Dipper then interrupted the happy reunions, turning their attention to the matter at hand (Bill was still currently occupied outside, fighting the Mystery Shack and those still controlling it). Ford pulls on a pair of six-fingered gloves and uses Robbie's can of spray paint to make a circle on the ground, causing the others to be bewildered and Grunkle Stan to think his nerdy brother had lost his mind. Ford insisted he was fine as he finished a drawing of Bill's zodiac wheel. Ford explained that the symbols were a prophecy about how Bill could be defeated by a mystical power and the town could be saved. Stanford began piecing together the puzzle, directing Dipper and Mabel to their rightful places on the wheel as Soos took his question mark, Wendy put Robbie in his place, and Gideon took his spot next to Mabel. Ford then explained how the symbols were also metaphorical, claiming that ice referred to someone cool in the face of danger and the spectacles referred to someone scholarly. These positions were taken by Wendy and McGucket respectfully as Pacifica reluctantly took her place next to McGucket and held his hand per Ford's instructions. After directing everyone to leave, Ford called to Stanley, who stood near the "door" staring at the losing battle between the Mystery Shack and Bill. The others yelled at Stan and his reluctance, to which he angrily pointed fingers at Ford, claiming he was a reason there even was an end of the world. Ford apologized and asked for Stanley's help. Stanley then agreed on the condition that Ford would say thank you after Stan spent thirty years trying to save him from the power and had never been thanked. Ford reluctantly agreed and thanked his brother, at which point Stan completed the magical glowing circle and took Ford's hand, claiming he wasn't always the bad brother. But when Ford corrected a grammatical error in his brother's sentence, the two broke out in fighting again with Dipper and Mabel attempting to separate them. This is when Bill returned.
The demon mocked the group for not holding hands before thanking them for gathering all threats to his power in one place as he burned the circle. Ford and Stanley were both tied in glowing red arms with hands and raised up to watch as everyone but Dipper and Mabel were horrifyingly turned into hanging tapestries. Bill insisted it wasn't too late for Ford's family and demanded the equation again as he locked Dipper and Mabel in the three-sided cage. When Dipper and Mabel insisted Ford not take the deal and drew his attention to them, Mabel sprayed spray paint in Bill's eye, making him momentarily blind and subconsciously release the two old twins. Dipper grew the cage until he and Mabel could escape, insisting that Ford and Grunkle Stan run while they take care of Bill. Ford is opposed, claiming its a suicide mission and too dangerous, but before he and Stan can follow the kids as they head deeper into the Fearamid, Bill grabs both of them in a telepathic choke hold before locking them in a cage, leaving the twins behind and unable to help Dipper and Mabel as he transformed into an even more monstrous version of himself and pursued the twelve-year-olds.
Left alone, Stan was upset that the kids would now die because of him and claimed their dad was right and he was nothing but a screw up. Ford accepted some of the blame as being the one to make a deal with Bill in the first place, claiming Stanley would have immediately seen through Bill's scam. The two brothers contemplate on how far apart they are and reflect on their childhood relationship like that of Mabel and Dipper. Again recognizing the young age of his niece and nephew, Ford sadly resolves that he will let Bill into his mind, fully knowing that he would destroy the world and the universe, in hopes of saving the kids. When Stanley desperately asks if there's nothing they can do, Ford reveals they could wipe Bill from the mind while he is weakened in the mindscape if Ford didn't have the metal plate in his head. Grunkle Stan then suggests Bill entering his mind, but Ford dismisses this, saying his brother has nothing Bill wants and it has to be him, hoping that he can somehow save Stan and the kids. Stan doubts Bill would follow through with that deal, but Ford asks what other choice they have.
When Bill catches Mabel and Dipper he brings them back to the caged brothers, saying time was up and he would kill one of them, flashing their symbols before them to decide which one to kill. Just before he snaps his fingers and kills Mabel, Ford stops him and surrenders. Bill drops the kids as Stan tries to dissuade his brother unsuccessfully, and Bill is amused by their constant bickering. As Stan is tied down by red glowing hands, Ford claims he will agree to a deal if his brother and the kids will go free. The kids try unsuccessfully to stop Ford, but the deal is made and Bill giddily abandons his physical form to possess Ford.
However, Bill was tricked. While the two twins had been left alone, they swapped clothes and did impressions of one another so Bill accidentally invaded Stan's mind instead. The real Ford pulled out his memory eraser and hesitantly used it on his brother, erasing the memory of his entire mind, therefore destroying Bill but also Stan in the process. When it was done, Ford dropped the gun in despair as the world reverted back to its original form. Finding Stan in the forest, Mabel tried in vain to make Stan remember her, to which Ford explained that everything in Stan's mind was gone. Ford claimed that although Stan didn't know it he had saved the world, their family, and himself as he embraced his amnesiac brother and finally truly forgave him. Stan and Ford changed back clothes before going back to the ruined Mystery Shack, saddened that their victory came at the price of Stan's memories. Desperate, Mabel asked what could be done, but Ford sullenly admitting nothing could be done. Mabel was resistant, however, and started desperately reading out of her scrapbook. At first it seemed hopeless, but when Stan suddenly remember Waddles and Soos, Ford excitedly claimed it was working and urged Mabel to continue. The entire family sat together and read through Mabel's scrapbook, laughing.
A few days later on Dipper and Mabel's birthday, Stan had completely recovered his memory and the family was celebrating with the whole town. During the opening of presents, Ford pulled his brother aside, claiming that although Weirdmageddon was over, he detected anomalies in the Arctic Ocean and wanted to investigate. However, he claimed he was too old to do it alone; Stan pieced together the pieces as Ford gave him a picture of their childhood project, asking him for a second chance and offering to fulfill their childhood dream together. When the issue of the Mystery Shack came up, Stan believed there had been enough mystery and decided to close it until Soos inspired him and became the new manager of the Mystery Shack. Later that day at the bus stop, Ford accompanied the others as they said goodbye to the kids, saying "Can it, Soos!" in sync with his brother when Soos tried to rationalize Stan wearing Mabel's goodbye sweater. When Mabel tried unsuccessfully to part with Waddles, Stan broke and forced the bus driver to take the pig with the kids to California, threatening him with Ford backing the threat by showing his gun. The great uncle ran after the bus with the others when it pulled away before putting an arm around his sad brother. In the ending clips, the two Stans are seen aboard the Stan-O-War II battling a sea monster. As Stan punched it, Ford threw a spear at it, causing it to retreat and the two happy twins to laugh.
He is intellectual and is considered an introverted and nerdy person, enjoying games which involve high levels of thinking, such as Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons. He would even go as far as to ignore the dangers of his research just to play such games (to the point where he would let a Cycloptopus bite his face when he became excited). Despite his intelligence, he is very behind the times when it comes to his own dimension, since he hasn't stepped foot in it for thirty years. He doesn't have a clue about the modern technology as he believes floppy disks are still in use and had very little worry about giving Mabel a crossbow, thinking it's safe to give children weapons. Before he was sucked into the portal, he was shown to be paranoid and overly cautious, having a hard time trusting people due to being tricked by Bill.
Despite being very intelligent, Ford has shown himself to be very narcissistic and self-absorbed. This is shown by his reluctance to part with his life's work and share his scientific accomplishments with loved ones, instead relishing the image of being a solitary hero.
Ford is seen as a serious person when it comes to his work in researching the paranormal. However, he genuinely enjoys his research, even in the face of danger. His years of researching the paranormal both in and out of his realm have made Ford a strong, brave individual who will face danger head on in order to ensure that the world is safe. However, after all of his years of researching the paranormal, Ford's excitement for confirming things such as the existence of extraterrestrials have dulled.
Ford bears a close resemblance to Stan Pines, however, there are a few notable differences: Ford's hair, unlike Stan, is dark gray with a horizontal silver streak along the sides of it, and he possesses unusually long sideburns. His chin has a cleft and slight five o'clock shadow. He has polydactyly, with six fingers on each hand. When he first comes out of the portal, he is seen wearing a large black coat with multiple pockets on the inside, and an item that appears to be a gun rested on his back. Underneath his coat, he wears a black shirt and pants. He also dons bulky black boots, a brown belt that slings from his shoulder, a tattered cape, and a gray scarf. In subsequent appearances, Ford is seen wearing a tan coat, a red turtleneck with a black belt that slings across his chest, black pants, and large brown boots coated in dirt. He has a gold dot on either side of his glasses and a crack on the left lens. When Bill leaves Ford's dream, you can see Ford have a blue eye.
During their childhood, Stan and Ford were the closest of friends and would go out on adventures together. However, they got into a fight when Stan accidentally broke Ford's perpetual motion machine and ruined his chances to go to a superior college and as an extension a chance of a large fortune for the family. Due to this incident, Ford held a grudge against Stan for many years, and even after learning of Stan's efforts to rescue him from the universe portal. Ford and Stan eventually reconciled albeit strained. Ford allowed Stan to stay in the shack until summer ends whilst Ford kept the interdimensional rift contained and worked on finding a way to stop Bill Cipher's plans. He then told Stan that when summer ends, Stan is to return Ford's shack and identity. During the events of Weirdmageddon, after being trapped together, Ford came to recognize the troubles Stan went through for him and the twins reconciled with each other. After Stan sacrificed (and subsequently regained) his mind, the two decide to leave Gravity Falls to realize their childhood dream. When they are seen later on their ship, they seem to be genuinely happy.
Ford and McGucket were close friends in Backupsmore University. During Ford's time at Gravity Falls, he called his old friend Fiddleford for help in researching the mysterious paranormal activities in Gravity Falls. They researched together and eventually built the Universe Portal. When they tested the machine, McGucket accidentally got sucked into the portal causing him to see something he wanted to forget, McGucket even questioned who Ford was really working for. McGucket then cut ties with Ford, and they never saw each other again (though Ford suspected that the Blind Eye Society was McGucket's doing, and even wrote disparagingly of his desire to forget what he saw in Journal 3). Years later, during the Weirdmageddon event, McGucket chose to forgive Ford for the events leading to their falling out, finally mending their friendship.
Bill Cipher is Ford's greatest enemy, as Bill tricked Ford into building the Universe Portal. Ford attempted to warn people who read his journal about Bill Cipher's existence and the dangers he could do to their world. During Ford's time doing research at Gravity Falls, he hit a roadblock and he summoned Bill to assist him. He considered Bill a friend due to the amount of help and knowledge that Bill shared with Ford. However, when Fiddleford McGucket was sucked into the Universe Portal, Ford realized Bill's true goal and stopped him by deactivating the portal. Ford's current mission is stopping Bill Cipher from getting his hands on the interdimensional rift and goes to great lengths in doing so (to the point where he would Bill-proof the Mystery Shack). Unfortunately, the rift has fallen into Bill's hands, therefore creating a gateway from the Nightmare realm to Earth.
Ford is an idol to Dipper as he was always obsessed with the Author of the Journals. When Dipper obtained Journal 3, one of his main missions was to learn the mysteries of the town and to find out who the Author was. When he finally meets the Author, Dipper becomes extremely excited and Ford becomes flattered that Dipper was a fan of him. With eagerness Dipper wishes to assist him yet, Ford was initially reluctant to allow Dipper to help him at all because he is a child and he didn't want Dipper to be in danger. However during their game of Dungeons, Dungeons and More Dungeons, their common interests and enjoying the same things further strengthens their bond. Ford thinks of Dipper not only as his great nephew but a friend, Ford then decided to trust Dipper with the knowledge of a dimensional rift he sealed away, swearing Dipper to secrecy. Despite their close relation, Ford still kept secrets from Dipper about Bill Cipher, but he finally tells Dipper the truth in "The Last Mabelcorn," as he didn't want Dipper to distrust him. Due to this, he tells Dipper that no more secrets should be kept between them. In "Dipper and Mabel vs. the Future," Ford invites him to stay in Gravity Falls with him to study all the supernatural occurrences since he's getting old. Dipper accepts the offer initially, but later reconsiders.
When meeting Mabel for the first time, he was surprised but endeared, particularly by her description of his six-fingered handshake as "a full finger friendlier than normal."
Ford hasn't interacted with Mabel as much as he has with Dipper, however, they are seen to be in good terms with each other. Mabel (along with Stan and Grenda) rescued Ford and Dipper from Probabilitor the Annoying despite Stan and Grenda's reluctance to do so. When Ford called for a family meeting, he allowed Mabel to find a lock of unicorn hair with which to protect the shack from Bill Cipher. Despite Ford's belief that Mabel won't be able to succeed, Mabel returns with the required item, shocking Ford. In return, Ford assures Mabel that she has a good heart.
Ford once found its egg while digging. He calls it Experiment 210 and later considers the being to be too dangerous. He then locks it up in a cryogenic tube.
- Intro: "Gravity Falls Main Title Theme"
- 101. "Tourist Trapped" (mentioned)
- 108. "Irrational Treasure" (mentioned)
- 109. "The Time Traveler's Pig" (no lines)
- 119. "Dreamscaperers" (flashback, no lines)
- 120. "Gideon Rises" (mentioned)
- 3. "Mailbox" (mentioned)
- 201. "Scary-oke" (mentioned)
- 202. "Into the Bunker" (mentioned)
- 204. "Sock Opera" (mentioned)
- 207. "Society of the Blind Eye" (mentioned)
- 211. "Not What He Seems" (no lines)
- 212. "A Tale of Two Stans"
- 213. "Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons"
- 214. "The Stanchurian Candidate"
- 215. "The Last Mabelcorn"
- 217. "Dipper and Mabel vs. the Future"
- 218. "Weirdmageddon Part 1"
- 219. "Weirdmageddon 2: Escape From Reality" (no lines)
- 220. "Weirdmageddon 3: Take Back The Falls"
"It's hard to believe it's been six years since I began studying the strange and wondrous secrets of Gravity Falls, Oregon."
"Unfortunately, my suspicions have been confirmed. I'm being watched. I must hide this book before he finds it. Remember: in Gravity Falls there is no one you can trust."
"The portal when completed will open a gateway to infinite new worlds and herald a new era in mankind's understanding of the universe. Plus, it will probably get girls to start talking to me finally."
"My whole life I'd been teased for my six fingers. But that got me thinking about anomalies: things that were odd, unusual, statistically improbable. And according to my investigations, there was one place with a higher concentration of these things than anywhere else. A small lumber town in Roadkill County, Oregon: Gravity Falls."
"I'm sorry, Dipper, but the dark, weird road I travel, I'm afraid you cannot follow. Well, call me for dinner!"
"So this is how the world ends. Not with a bang but with a... boop-boop."
"Being a hero means fighting back even when it seems impossible."
- The name "Stanford" means "Stony Meadow," in contrast to "Stanley," which means "Stony Clearing."
- Ford's six-fingered hands are the result of postaxial polydactyly, a condition in which a person has an extra pinky finger on one or both hands.
- Alex Hirsch has on multiple occasions joked about the Author's identity:
- Ford is 15 minutes older than Stan, and feels naturally superior because of it.
- Ford has 12 Ph.Ds.
- In "Carpet Diem," the room with the titular carpet in it is Ford's. Stan also finds Ford's glasses on a drawer in the same episode.
- Instead of shaving, Ford sets his face on fire since he finds it to be "faster."
- According to Alex Hirsch, Ford is hiding something under his sweater.
- In Gravity Falls: Journal 3, it is revealed that Ford got tattoos with a tribe of octopus-armed warrior piglets, with Ford later admitting, "[The] tattoos were among my most serious regrets. Let's just say I wear [a] turtleneck for a reason."
- Ford's turtleneck was inspired by Carl Sagan's red turtleneck.
- He originally thought Soos' name was Zeus.
- The metal plate in Ford's head was put in surgically by an Oracle that he met in Dimension 52.
- Ford's favorite snack is jelly beans and admits it is a weakness of his.
- He considers Toffee Peanuts, Stanley Pines' favorite snack, to be the worst snack on earth.
- Ford admires the scientist and inventor, Nikola Tesla.
- Much like Soos, Ford also suspects that the mailman is a werewolf.
- Ford was voted "Most Paranoid" in junior high.
- Ford is the only person besides Mabel that Dipper has told his real name to.
- In the Rick and Morty episode "Morty's Mind Blowers", where it's discovered that Rick Sanchez secretly stores Morty's memories, there are two memories labeled "Stanford" and "Bill C". It's likely that they are memories of Ford and Bill Cipher, since the two series are considered to occur in the same multiverse, and both Ford and Bill, have traveled between dimensions.
- Alex Hirsch mentioned in the episode commentary that Ford and Stan are identical twins.
- Polydactyly, or having extra fingers, is caused by genetic mutation. Since identical twins share exact genomes, and since Ford is polydactyl and Stan is not, it is possible that Ford's polydactyly is not genetic.
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