- This article is about the franchise as a whole. For other uses, see Scooby-Doo (disambiguation).
Scooby-Doo, now in production for more than 50 years, is the longest-running United States animated franchise produced for Saturday morning television. The original series was created in 1969 by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears for animation powerhouse Hanna-Barbera, where numerous spin-offs and related works were produced for nearly 30 years. Warner Bros. has handled production of Scooby-Doo media since acquiring Hanna-Barbera in 1997.
The franchise primarily focuses on the adventures of a talking Great Dane named Scooby-Doo and four teenagers: Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, and Shaggy Rogers. Known as Mystery Inc., they travel the world in a van called "The Mystery Machine” and solve mysteries that involve ghosts, monsters, or other supernatural forces.
Origins of Scooby-Doo
Creation and development
In 1968, Fred Silverman, executive in charge of children's programming for CBS, was looking for a show that would revitalize his Saturday morning line-up and also please parental watchdog groups. The result was The Archie Show, based upon Bob Montana's teenage humor comic book Archie. The musical numbers The Archies performed during each program were a success, with the song "Sugar, Sugar” becoming a mega-hit single in 1969. Silverman was eager to expand upon this success and contacted Hanna-Barbera about creating a similar show based on a teenage rock-group, but with a twist: the band members would solve mysteries. Silverman envisioned the show as a cross between two popular programs, the I Love a Mystery radio serials of the 1940s and the early 1960s TV show The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.
William Hanna and Joseph Barbera gave the task to two of their head story men, Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, and artist/character designer Iwao Takamoto. Their initial concept bore the title Mysteries Five, and featured five teens (Geoff, Mike, Kelly, Linda, and Linda's brother "W.W.") and their dog, Too Much. The teens - and their dog, who played the bongos - were in a band called "The Mysteries Five” and would solve mysteries involving ghosts, zombies, and other supernatural creatures.
Ruby and Spears’ concept of Too Much had two potential directions: a large cowardly dog, or a small feisty dog. When the former was chosen, they consulted with Joseph Barbara on whether to use a Great Dane or a sheepdog. They decided on using a Great Dane, primarily to avoid mimicking The Archies’ own sheepdog, and Barbera assured them that a Great Dane would not be too similar to the comic strip character Marmaduke.
Takamoto consulted a studio colleague who bred Great Danes to learn their characteristics, and then intentionally designed Too Much to be the exact opposite of a prize-winning Great Dane, giving him overly bowed legs, a double-chin, and a sloped back, among other abnormalities.
Though they were still members of a teenage rock band at this stage, the show was inching closer to its final form: Geoff and Mike had merged into one character called “Ronnie”, Kelly was renamed to "Daphne", Linda was now called "Velma", and "Shaggy" (formerly "W.W.") was no longer her brother. At Silverman's behest, two major details were changed: "Ronnie” became “Fred” ,and the show's proposed title changed to Who's S-S-Scared?. Using storyboards and a short completed animation sequence, Silverman presented Who's S-S-Scared? to CBS executives as the centerpiece for the 1969–1970 season's Saturday morning cartoon block. Executives felt that the art would be too frightening for young viewers and decided to pass on it, which sent Silverman back to Hanna-Barbera for revisions.
Ruby and Spears reworked the show to make it more comedic and less frightening. It was at this stage that the rock band element was dropped and the show became more focused onto Shaggy and Too Much. According to Ruby and Spears, Silverman was inspired by an ad-lib in Frank Sinatra's recording of the song "Strangers in the Night", and decided to rename the dog "Scooby-Doo" and rechristen the show Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (writer Mark Evanier has posited that the song that inspired the Scooby-Doo name may have really been "Denise," by Randy and the Rainbows). The revised show was re-presented to CBS executives, who approved it for production.
The formula and characters of Scooby-Doo
Each character has a clearly established personality and function within the group: Fred is the leader and a determined detective, Velma is highly intelligent and analytical, Daphne can be observant but is danger-prone and vain, while best friends Shaggy and Scooby-Doo are cowardly, perpetually hungry, and motivated by food. These characteristics have largely stayed consistent throughout the entire franchise. Each character also has a recurring function that serves the plot. For example, Fred generally suggests that they split up to search for clues while Velma's skepticism of the supernatural helps the gang determine that the villain is not a real ghost. Other recurring character quirks can occur both as comedic effect and as an important plot element, such as Velma losing her glasses or Scooby and Shaggy being bribed with food to do something dangerous.
The influences of Dobie Gillis are especially apparent in the original series. Mark Evanier, who wrote Scooby-Doo teleplays and comic book scripts in the 1970s and 1980s, identified each of the four teenagers with their corresponding Dobie Gillis character: "Fred was based on Dobie, Velma on Zelda, Daphne on Thalia, and Shaggy on Maynard." The similarities between Shaggy and Maynard are especially noticeable as they have similar appearances and demeanors.
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! episodes were built with a plot formula that has subsequently been used throughout most incarnations of the series. At the beginning of an episode, the Mystery Inc. gang encounter or are told of an evil ghost or monster which is causing some form of trouble and offer to help solve the mystery. While looking for clues, the gang, especially Shaggy and Scooby, are chased by the monster. After collecting clues and analyzing them, they determine that the monster is not supernatural and capture it to unmask someone who is generally trying to commit a crime or is trying to cover their crime up. The culprit is then arrested by law enforcement, bitter at being stopped by a group of kids and their dog.
Hanna-Barbera's Scooby-Doo clones
Because of the Scooby-Doo formula's effectiveness, Hanna-Barbera repeatedly applied it to the development of new programming. By the time the second Scooby-Doo series aired in 1972, the studio had already produced other shows using the formula, including Josie and the Pussycats (1970), which resurrected the idea of rock band crime-fighters, and The Funky Phantom (1971), which featured a mystery solving team of three teens, a real ghost, and his ghostly cat.
It is not uncommon to find elements from Scooby-Doo episodes repurposed for the clone cartoons, including character types, music, and sound effects. Even actual character designs would be recycled, such as Mr. Greenway in the Scooby-Doo, Where are You! episode That's Snow Ghost and Dr. Greenthumb in the Josie and the Pussycats episode A Greenthumb is Not a Goldfinger.
Notable clones include The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan (1972), Goober and the Ghost Chasers (1973), Speed Buggy (1973), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids (1973), Inch High, Private Eye (1973), Clue Club (1976), Jabberjaw (1976), Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels (1977), Buford and the Galloping Ghost (1978), and the Pebbles, Dino, and Bamm-Bamm segments of The Flintstone Funnies (1980). Even when Joe Ruby and Ken Spears left Hanna-Barbera in 1977 to start Ruby-Spears Productions, their first cartoon was Fangface: yet another Scooby-Doo clone.
Scooby-Doo production history
The beginning on CBS (1969-1975)
Scooby-Doo, Where are You!
Scooby-Doo, Where are You! made its CBS network debut on Saturday, September 13, 1969 with the episode, What a Night for a Knight. The original voice cast featured Don Messick as Scooby-Doo, Casey Kasem as Shaggy, Frank Welker as Fred, Nicole Jaffe as Velma, and Stefanianna Christopherson as Daphne. Seventeen episodes of Scooby-Doo, Where are You! were produced in 1969.
The show was a major ratings success for CBS, and they renewed it for a second season in 1970. The eight second-season episodes differ slightly from the first-season in their increased use of slapstick humor and Archie Show-like "chase songs" during climactic sequences. The second season also saw Heather North take over the role of Daphne and the use of a re-recorded theme song.
Both seasons contained a laugh track, which was the standard practice for U.S. cartoon series during the 1960s and 1970s.
The New Scooby-Doo Movies
The next iteration of Scooby-Doo was an hour-long program for CBS called The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972-1974). 24 episodes of the show were produced, each one featuring a guest star (or stars) that would either need help from the gang or would team up with them to solve a mystery. Guest stars include animated renditions of fictional characters, like Batman & Robin and the Addams Family, and real celebrities, like Don Knotts and Phyllis Diller. In most cases, the actual celebrities voiced their animated doppelgängers for the show.
Constant variation: the ABC years (1976-1991)
CBS broadcast Sooby-Doo reruns through the 1974–75 season, but a major change was in the works: Fred Silverman, who helped bring Scooby-Doo to television, was hired to be the President of ABC Entertainment in 1975. Contacting Hanna-Barbera early on in his tenure, he arranged for new Scooby-Doo episodes to begin airing on the network in 1976. During its time airing on ABC, Scooby-Doo went through numerous format changes and had several new characters introduced.
The Scooby-Doo Show and Hanna-Barbera programming blocks
A total of 40 new Scooby-Doo episodes in the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! format were produced from 1976–1979. While most of the same voice actors returned, Velma was voiced by Pat Stevens and veteran voice actor Daws Butler joined the cast to play a new semi-regular character: Scooby-Dum, Scooby's dim-witted cousin. Though these episodes were later packaged for syndication as The Scooby-Doo Show, they originally aired as a part of large Hanna-Barbera produced programming blocks. For the 1976–1977 season, new episodes were paired with Dynomutt, Dog Wonder to create The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour (the mid-season addition of a Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! rerun to the block prompted a new title, The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Show).
For the next season, new episodes aired as part of Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics (1977-1978). This large programming block included a new Scooby-Doo episode, a Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! rerun, an episode of Laff-A-Lympics, an episode of Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, and an episode of The Blue Falcon & Dynomutt. The following year, this block became Scooby's All-Stars (1978-1979) after The Blue Falcon & Dynomutt was cancelled.
Scrappy-Doo's "puppy powered" era
Hanna-Barbera was informed that ABC would cancel Scooby-Doo and replace it with a new series unless they were able freshen it up to boost ratings. Joe Barbara's answer was a new character - Scooby's rambunctious nephew, Scrappy-Doo - and hired writer Mark Evanier to bring Scrappy to life and write his debut episode. The new character and story succeeded, earning ABC's approval and an order for 13 new episodes that aired under the title Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo (1979-1980). The Scooby-Doo characters, albeit without Scrappy, also appeared outside of Saturday mornings for the first time in a 1979 primetime special, Scooby Goes Hollywood: a tongue-in-cheek story about Shaggy and Scooby's desire to be in a prime-time series instead of Saturday morning cartoons.
When development of the next season began, the undeniable success of Scrappy-Doo prompted a radical overhaul: Fred, Daphne, and Velma were completely dropped from the show in favor of making Scrappy a central character with Scooby and Shaggy. The tried and true half-hour mystery format was also replaced with three self-contained 7-minute segments and villains who commonly proved to be supernatural instead of disguised criminals. The revised Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo show aired as part of The Richie Rich/Scooby-Doo Show (1980-1982) and The Scooby & Scrappy Doo Puppy Hour (1982-1983).
Daphne was brought back for The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show (1983) in an effort to find a middle ground between the original series and the modern format. The show's second season, which aired in 1984 under the title The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries, also saw the return of Fred and Velma, albeit in a semi-regular capacity. Episodes from both seasons consisted of two 11 minute segments that were either self-contained or two halves of a longer plot.
The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo (1985) is the most recent series to include Scrappy-Doo as a main character. Once again, Fred and Velma were omitted, though two new characters were introduced: Flim-Flam and Vincent Van Ghoul (modeled after and voiced by Vincent Price). This was the first Scooby-Doo series to feature a prominent story arc, centering on Shaggy and Scooby's quest to recapture evil spirits that they accidentally released from imprisonment, but it was cancelled because of budget issues before it could be completed (over 30 years later, the plot was finally concluded in the direct-to-video film Scooby-Doo! and the Curse of the 13th Ghost).
The final major appearances of Scrappy-Doo were in three made-for-television movies in the Hanna-Barbera Superstars 10 series: Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers (1987), Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf (1988), and Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School (1988).
The final ABC series
Tom Ruegger refocused the series on the original five Scooby-Doo characters in a prequel, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo (1988-1991). This marked the first time that the appearances of the characters were heavily redesigned, and Ruegger implemented a zany style that was heavily inspired by classic Tex Avery and Bob Clampett cartoons. The series follows the exploits of the gang several years before the events of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! and introduced several elements that helped build the larger universe of Scooby-Doo, such as the town of Coolsville. Though the show was a success, it would prove to be the final Scooby-Doo series to run on ABC.
Transitions: Taft and Turner (1991-1997)
Hanna-Barbera's parent company, Taft Broadcasting, had faced a variety of financial challenges in the late 1980s as they contended with changes in television markets and increasing competition. After changing hands in 1987, Taft was renamed Great American Broadcasting but was unable to turn things around. To make matters worse for Hanna-Barbera, valuable personnel, such as A Pup Named Scooby-Doo creator Tom Ruegger, were being hired away by Warner Bros. to fuel production of their now-legendary slate of animated programs from the 1990s. Great American put Hanna-Barbera up for sale and it was purchased by Turner Broadcasting System in 1991.
Turner wasted no time in putting their newfound animation assets to work, launching Cartoon Network in 1992 and Cartoon Network Studios just two years later. In 1993, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo reruns began airing on the new channel and other Scooby-Doo series soon followed, as did reruns on other Turner owned networks. During Turner's ownership of Hanna-Barbera, just one new Scooby-Doo related program would be produced: the made-for-TV movie Arabian Nights, originally broadcast by TBS in 1994. The film only includes Scooby-Doo and Shaggy, who narrate stories featuring classic Hanna-Barbera characters as a means of escaping a Caliph who is angry at them for eating his food. Arabian Nights would bookend both Scooby-Doo and the studio in a number of ways: it would be the final film appearance by voice actor Don Messick as Scooby-Doo, the final film by actor Allan Melvin, and the final project solely produced by Hanna-Barbera.
Scooby's revival at Warner Bros. (1997-Present)
In 1997, Turner merged with Time Warner, bringing both Hanna-Barbera and the rapidly growing Cartoon Network under the umbrella of Warner Bros. Hanna-Barbera personnel moved into Warner Bros. Animation's department and the long used Hanna-Barbera studio on Cahuenga Blvd. in Los Angeles was left empty (the Los Angeles City Council would later approve a plan to preserve it).
Warner Bros. has owned Scooby-Doo, along with the back catalog of Hanna-Barbera and Ruby-Spears, since the merger with Turner. During that time they have ramped up production of Scooby-Doo media with multiple TV series, direct-to-video releases, made-for-TV movies, live-action adaptations, and major theatrical releases.
Co-produced by Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros.
Starting in 1998, Warner Bros. Animation and Hanna-Barbera, as a subsidiary of Warner Bros., co-produced four new direct-to-video Scooby-Doo movies. These highly successful films feature older versions of the original five characters from Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! and are the first major franchise entries since A Pup Named Scooby-Doo.
The events of the first movie, Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998), reconnect the members of Mystery Inc., who are shown to have gone their separate ways as they got older. Fred's plan to reunite in New Orleans for Daphne's birthday ultimately leads them to investigate strange legends about Moonscar Island, which turns out to truly be haunted. Three more direct-to-video releases were made in successive years, each with a plot involving an actual supernatural phenomenon: Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost (1999), Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders (2000), and Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase (2001).
In 2001, the Cartoon Network aired Night of the Living Doo, a half-hour parody of The New Scooby-Doo Movies that featured guest stars David Cross, Gary Coleman, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and Mark Hamill. By the end of that year, Hanna-Barbera was fully absorbed into Warner Bros. Animation, marking the end of the decades-old studio (though the Hanna-Barbera name can still be seen on some releases, there is no Hanna-Barbera unit at Warner). William Hanna and Joseph Barbara continued working at Warner Bros. and would be involved in the development of new projects until their respective deaths.
Scooby goes to the silver screen and comes back to television
Scooby-Doo received its first ever live-action treatment: Scooby-Doo, a feature length major release directed by Raja Gosnell with a screenplay by James Gunn. The film hit theaters on June 14, 2002 and its cast included Freddie Prinze Jr. (Fred), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Daphne), Matthew Lillard (Shaggy), and Linda Cardellini (Velma). Scooby-Doo (voiced by Neil Fanning) was created using computer-generated special effects. Despite negative reviews (the Rotten Tomatoes average is 30%; the Metacritic score is 35), the film was a hit with audiences and earned a worldwide box office haul of $275 million and a "B+" at Cinemascore. The film was the last project that William Hanna was involved in and he passed away on the day that the film was released.
With the success of the four direct-to-video releases and live-action film, Warner produced the first new Scooby-Doo animated series in more than 10 years, What's New, Scooby-Doo? (2002-2005), for The WB's Saturday morning Kids' WB programming block. While the series featured the characters in updated clothing and a modern setting, their personalities remained rooted in the original series and episodes largely relied on the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! plot formula.
In 2003, Warner released Scooby-Doo! and the Legend of the Vampire, the first direct-to-video release since 2001's Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase. The characters' appearances in this release (as well as subsequent direct-to-video releases) have generally matched their appearances in Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! and What’s New, Scooby-Doo?, as opposed to their depictions in the first four Warner/Hanna-Barbera direct-to-video films. Since Legend of the Vampire, Warner has maintained steady production of direct-to-video Scooby-Doo films and shorts, releasing an average of two new titles per year.
Scooby-Doo and the gang returned to the silver screen a second time in 2004's, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. Raja Gosnell and James Gunn returned to direct and write, and the main cast also reprised their roles. Similar to its predecessor, the film was panned by critics (the Rotten Tomatoes average is 22%; the Metacritic score is 34) but earned a worldwide box office haul of $181 million and an “A-" at Cinemascore (a grade higher than the first film). Though it did well, Scooby-Doo 2 underperformed expectations and a planned third film was cancelled. Actor Matthew Lillard said in 2004 that he believed that Scooby-Doo 2 was better than its predecessor and that the studio was responsible for its underperformance, as its release date placed it at a disadvantage.
A new series for a new channel and more live-action adaptations
Warner introduced a new Saturday morning series called Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! (2006-2008) which aired on The CW (the resulting channel of a merger between The WB and UPN). In the series, Shaggy is informed that his rich uncle, Albert Shaggleford, is missing and has named him as his sole heir. Shaggy and Scooby-Doo gain access to his fortune and technology, but are forced to match wits with a group of criminals who are trying to steal Shaggleford's inventions. The series marks the second comprehensive artistic reimagining for a Scooby-Doo series (the first being A Pup Named Scooby-Doo). This series is also the first in which Casey Kasem does not voice Shaggy and was the final Scooby-Doo project that Joseph Barbara was involved in.
The gang returned to live-action, albeit on the small screen, for a prequel film about how they first met entitled Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins, which premiered on Cartoon Network on September 13, 2009: the 40th anniversary of the debut of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! It was a massive success and is the highest rated broadcast in the history of Cartoon Network. The film's cast consisted of Robbie Amell (Fred), Kate Melton (Daphne), Hayley Kiyoko (Velma), and Nick Palatas (Shaggy), while a computer generated Scooby-Doo was voiced by Frank Welker. The success of the film led to a follow up with the same cast, Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster, which premiered on October 16, 2010 on Cartoon Network and also delivered record ratings for the network.
Reinvention and franchise expansion
Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated (2010-2013) debuted on Cartoon Network as the eleventh Scooby-Doo animated series. Creators Tony Cervone and Spike Brandt completely reimagined the origins of Mystery Incorporated, resulting in a series that does not exist in the continuity of any prior Scooby-Doo series or movie. While the gang are depicted as they appear in Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, they live in an extensive alternate universe centered in the town of Crystal Cove. The series explores the gang's personal relationships in a way not previously seen, as well as their relationships to their families. Further distinguishing itself from other series, Mystery Incorporated features a dark, sinister tone and pits the gang against both natural and supernatural villains in a series-long story arc.
Scooby-Doo direct-to-video releases became increasingly creative and varied during this time. For example, Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map (2013) shows the gang as Muppet-style puppets and reconnects with the world of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. The following year, Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery (2014) was a successful crossover between Scooby-Doo and the WWE, featuring many wrestling stars voicing animated versions of themselves. There have since been other crossover direct-to-video releases, including a second WWE collaboration and a film featuring the rock band KISS. The introduction of Scooby-Doo LEGO merchandise prompted a TV special on Cartoon Network, LEGO Scooby-Doo! Knight Time Terror (2015), and two full length LEGO/Scooby-Doo direct-to-video releases.
The next series to air was Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! (2015-2018), which again introduced a completely new artistic depiction of the gang. Because of the dark and sinister tone of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, this series took a much lighter direction and regularly amplified the main characters' personality traits and the formula of the show for comedic effect. The series began airing on Cartoon Network, but was completed on the Boomerang network.
The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo finally received its long-sought conclusion in the direct-to-video release, Scooby-Doo! and the Curse of the 13th Ghost (2019).
Current and planned projects: streaming and a return to the silver screen
The most recent Scooby-Doo series is Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?, which debuted on June 27, 2019. The series harkens back to one of the earliest iterations of the series, The New Scooby-Doo Movies, by featuring guest appearances from both real-life celebrities and fictional characters. This is the first Scooby-Doo series premiering exclusively to the Boomerang streaming service instead of network or cable television, although Cartoon Network did air the first few episodes. In the US the final episodes were released on HBO Max.
A brand new feature-length animated Scooby-Doo movie, called SCOOB!, entered development in 2014. The film was directed by Tony Cervone, with actors Frank Welker, Will Forte, Gina Rodriguez, Zac Efron, and Amanda Seyfried voicing the members of Mystery Inc. The first trailer for SCOOB! was released in November 2019 and it was originally slated for a theatrical release in 2020, however the movie was released online on May 15, 2020. It was eventually released in theaters in select countries and grossed $24.9 million at the box office.
In early 2021 a new series, to air on HBO Max, was announced. Simply titled Velma it is to star Mindy Kaling as the voice of our favorite orange-clad mystery solver. The series is currently in production.
On December 21, 2021, HBO Max released a sizzle reel featuring a first look at a Christmas-themed spinoff film, titled SCOOB! Holiday Haunt, to be released on the service in 2022. The film takes place in the gang's youth, with Welker and the actors who portrayed the younger versions reprising their roles while Cervone returned to write the film with Paul Dini as well as produce the project.
On May 23, 2022, a new CGI preschool series titled Scooby-Doo! And the Mystery Pups was announced, with Scooby and Shaggy as camp counselors who lead a "paw"-some new crew on mystery-solving adventures at sleepaway camp, and set to premiere on Cartoon Network (through their Cartoonito block) and HBO Max in 2024.
The Scooby influence
Critical reaction and awards
While a successful series during its three separate tenures on Saturday morning, Scooby-Doo won no awards for artistic merit during its original series runs. The series has received only two Emmy nominations in its four-decade history: a 1989 Daytime Emmy nomination for A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, and a 2003 Daytime Emmy nomination for What's New, Scooby-Doo's Mindy Cohn in the "Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program" category. Like many Hanna-Barbera shows, Scooby-Doo was criticized for poor production values and formulaic storytelling. In 2002, Jamie Malanowski of the New York Times commented that Scooby-Doo's mysteries are not very mysterious, and the humor is hardly humorous. As for the animation—well, the drawings on your refrigerator may give it competition." Even proponents of the series often comment negatively about the formula inherent in most Scooby episodes.
Nevertheless, Scooby-Doo has maintained a significant fan base, which has grown steadily since the 1990s due to the show's popularity among both young children and nostalgic adults who grew up with the series. The show's mix of the comedy-adventure and horror genres is often noted as the reason for its widespread success. As Fred Silverman and the Hanna-Barbera staff had planned when they first began producing the series, Scooby-Doo's ghosts, monsters, and spooky locales tend more towards humor than horror, making them easily accessible to younger children. "Overall, Scooby-Doo is just not a show that is going to overstimulate kids' emotions and tensions," offered American Center for Children and Media executive director David Kleeman in a 2002 interview. "It creates just enough fun to make it fun without getting them worried or giving them nightmares." Many teenage and young adult audiences enjoy Scooby-Doo because of presumed subversive themes which involve theories of drug use and sexuality.
In recent years, Scooby-Doo has received recognition for its popularity by placing in a number of "top cartoon" or "top cartoon character" polls. The August 3, 2002 issue of TV Guide featured its list of the "50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time", in which Scooby-Doo placed twenty-second Scooby also ranked thirteenth in Animal Planet's list of the "50 Greatest TV Animals". Scooby-Doo, Where are You! ranked forty-ninth in the UK network Channel 4's 2005 list of the "100 Greatest Cartoons of All Time". For one year from 2004 to 2005, Scooby-Doo held the Guinness World Record for having the most episodes of any animated television series ever produced, a record previously held by and later returned to The Simpsons. Scooby-Doo was published as holding this record in the 2006 edition of the Guinness Book of Records.
Subsequent television shows and films often make reference to Scooby-Doo, for example Wayne's World and the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in which Buffy and her monster-slaying friends refer to themselves as the "Scooby Gang" or "Scoobies", a knowing reference to Scooby-Doo. (Coincidentally, Sarah Michelle Gellar, who played Buffy, later played Daphne in the live-action movies.) Even South Park paid homage to Scooby-Doo in an episode entitled "KoЯn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery". The Kevin Smith film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back included a scene where Jay and Silent Bob are picked up in the Mystery Machine while hitchhiking and both they and Mystery, Inc. get "high" off of "dooby snacks". A plethora of other media properies have referenced or parodied Scooby-Doo, among them the TV Funhouse segment of NBC's Saturday Night Live, the online comic Sluggy Freelance, the FOX animated series Family Guy and The Simpsons, and the Cartoon Network programs Johnny Bravo, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, and The Venture Bros..
Overview and history
Like any major franchise, merchandising and promotion is an important component of the Scooby-Doo universe. Promotions and merchandising often follow the ups, downs, and trends of Scooby production. A new series means a new slate of tie-in merchandise; a popular character means an increase in merchandise for that character. For example, Scrappy-Doo was featured as prominently on products as he was on television in the mid to late 1980s, but largely disappeared from the store shelves just as he has in television and movies.
Even in the early days of Scooby-Doo, merchandise included decorated lunch boxes, iron-on transfers, coloring books, story books, vinyl records, underwear, and other such goods. Despite the popularity of the Scooby franchise in the 1970s and 1980s, merchandising was sometimes inconsistent until the influence of Cartoon Network and eventual acquisition by Warner Bros. renewed licensing and product efforts. Since the mid 1990s, Scooby has regularly been featured on multivitamins, breakfast cereal, cake mixes, plush toys, action figures, car decorations, and much more. Even real "Scooby Snacks" dog treats have been produced by Del Monte Pet Products.
Home video releases and streaming
Scooby-Doo series have been consistently released on common home formats for several decades. VHS releases generally consisted of episode compilations, while DVD and Blu-ray releases have included both episode compilations and complete seasons and series. TV series and movies have also been offered on Boomerang's streaming service, as well as HBO Max. Despite the constant releases and content availability, not every Scooby episode has been made available to consumers in recent years. Several episodes of The New Scooby-Doo Movies have been bogged down in copyright questions over guest stars' contracts and licensing agreements. As of 2020, Wednesday is Missing has yet to be released on DVD or Blu-ray and almost half of the entire series remains absent from the Boomerang streaming service.
Books and comics
- Main article(s): List of comics
Scooby-Doo, Where are You! comic books by Gold Key Comics debuted in December of 1969 after the original series had been airing for several months and was considered a huge success. These comics initially contained both adaptations of episodes of the cartoon show and original stories, but soon moved to all-original stories that ran through 1974. Charlton Comics took over publishing of Scooby comics during 1975 with Bill Williams contributing most of the art, but Marvel Comics took over soon after with writer Mark Evanier (who also worked on the Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo television series) and artist Dan Spiegle. Scooby comics from the mid 1990s were released by Archie Comics, though their time on the series was short lived due to Warner’s acquisition of Hanna-Barnera. Scooby comics books have since been published by the Warner subsidiary DC Comics, which maintains a monthly Scooby-Doo series.
- Main article(s): List of books
Children's and junior fiction Scooby titles have published since the 1970s, ranging from chapter books and short stories to easy readers and picture books for young children. The first Scooby books came from publishing houses like Golden Books, Rand McNally, and even Peter Pan Records. After a drop in output during the 1980s and early 1990s, Warner's acquisition of Hanna-Barbera fueled a surge in new releases from a large number of publishers: it is now common for multiple new titles to be released every year. Much like the comic books, the book releases include a mixture of original stories and adaptations of Scooby episodes. In addition to children's and junior series, Scholastic has introduced a young adult series featuring Daphne and Velma which launched in 2020 with The Vanishing Girl.
Games (Board games, video games, etc.)
- Main article(s): List of games
Numerous board games, video games, and online games have been created around Scooby-Doo, with the first board games dating to the early days of its original run on CBS. Many are merely “Scooby-Doo Editions” of well known games like Monopoly and Clue, but numerous releases have been created with original gameplay design. However, board games are dwarfed by the number of video and computer games. Scooby began appearing in arcades and consoles in the 1980s and became more common as computers and the internet became more prevalent; the franchise has now appeared on platforms from Sega, Nintendo, Playstation, and Xbox. Early PC games appeared in the 1990s, as did a slate of early online games on Cartoon Network’s website. Many of the online games offerings on the Cartoon Network and Boomerang websites have been used as promotional tie-ins with current and upcoming Scooby series.
From 1990 to 2002, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo appeared as characters in the Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera simulator ride at Universal Studios Florida. Shaggy and Scooby-Doo are also costumed characters at Universal Studios Florida, and can be found driving the Mystery Machine around the park. Additionally, Six Flags’ longstanding partnership with Warner Bros. for use of Warner and DC Comics intellectual property means that Scooby characters and themed rides are common across all Six Flags parks.
- Main article(s): Filmography
- Laurence Marcus & Stephen R. Hulce (October, 2000). "Scooby Doo, Where Are You". Television Heaven. Retrieved from http://www.Televisionheaven.co.uk/scooby.htm on June 9, 2006.
- Ruby and Spears, "Scooby Doo...The History of a Classic"
- Ignacio, Cynthia Quimpo (2002). "Iwao Takamoto: Scooby-Doo and Iawo, Too". Yolk 2.0., vol. 9, issue 3. Los Angeles, CA: Informasian Media Group, Inc.
- (2006).Interview with Iwao Takamoto. Eerie Mystery of Scooby-Doo and Dynomutt's History [documentary featurette from The Scooby-Doo/Dynomut Hour: The Complete Series DVD bonus features.]. New York, Los Angeles, CA: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. Excerpt: "The Great Dane was supposed to be the biggest dog around...and there was a woman [at the studio] who actually bred and reared Great Danes. So, she came over, and spent a solid hour describing all of the positive things that makes a prize-wining Great Dane. And I selected about five things, I think, and went in the opposite direction. For instance, a good, strong straight back, so I sloped his back. A strong chin, so I under-swung his chin...and I think straight hind legs she mentioned. So I bowed them..."
- (2006). Interview with Ken Spears. Eerie Mystery of Scooby-Doo and Dynomutt's History. Excerpt: "That character [Fred] started out...I think his name was 'Geoff'...and then he became 'Harvey'. And then all of a sudden, Fred [Silverman] came in and said [the character] was going to be 'Fred'. So, I guess he had something to do with that."
- Ruby and Spears, "Scooby Doo...The History of a Classic"
- Evanier, Mark. (July 10, 2002). "Shaggy Dog Story." News from Me. Retrieved from https://www.newsfromme.com/2002/06/10/shaggy-dog-story/ on March 24, 2019.
- Evanier, Mark. (July 10, 2002). "Creative Credit." News from Me. Retrieved from https://www.newsfromme.com/2007/01/09/creative-credit/ on March 24, 2019.
- Evanier, Mark. "Scrappy Days: The birth of Scrappy-Doo and what I had to do with it." News from Me. Retrieved from https://www.newsfromme.com/writings/scrappy-days/ on March 24, 2019.
- Biederman, Patricia Ward (June 7, 2004). "Agreement Reanimates Historic Hanna-Barbera Complex." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2004-jun-07-me-cartoon7-story.html on March 24, 2019
- "Scooby-Doo (2002)." Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved from https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1112357_scoobydoo on March, 24 2019.
- "Scooby-Doo Reviews." Metacritic. Retrieved from https://www.metacritic.com/movie/scooby-doo on March 24, 2019.
- "Scooby-Doo (2002)." Box Office Mojo. Retrieved from https://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=scoobydoo.htm on March 24, 2019.
- Cinemascore. Retrieved from https://www.cinemascore.com on March 24, 2019.
- "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)." Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved from https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/scooby_doo_2_monsters_unleashed on March 24, 2019.
- "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed Reviews." Metacritic. Retrieved from https://www.metacritic.com/movie/scooby-doo-2-monsters-unleashed on March 24, 2019.
- "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)." Box Office Mojo. Retrieved from https://www.metacritic.com/movie/scooby-doo-2-monsters-unleashed on March 24, 2019.
- "Matthew Lillard says no Scooby Doo 3." Movieweb. Retrieved from https://movieweb.com/matthew-lillard-says-no-scooby-doo-3/ on March, 24 2019.
- Umstead, R. Thomas (Sept. 15, 2009). "Scooby-Doo' Movie Scares Up Record Ratings For Cartoon Network." Multichannel News. Retrieved from https://www.multichannel.com/news/scooby-doo-movie-scares-record-ratings-cartoon-network-382563 on March 24, 2019.
- Umstead, R. Thomas (Oct. 18, 2010). "Scooby-Doo' Movie Nets 5 Million Viewers for Cartoon Network." Multichannel News. Retrieved from https://www.multichannel.com/news/scooby-doo-movie-nets-5-million-viewers-cartoon-network-382001 on March 24, 2019.
- Scott, Ryan (Mar 22, 2019). "New Scooby-Doo Movie Gets Zac Efron & Amanda Seyfried as Fred & Daphne." Movieweb. Retrieved from https://movieweb.com/scooby-doo-reboot-cast-zac-efron-amanda-seyfried/ on March 24, 2019.
- Malanowski, Jamie (May 12, 2002). "One for the Scooby Cognoscenti". The New York Times.
- Burke, Timothy and Burke, Kevin. Saturday Morning Fever. pg. 108.
- Berardinelli, James (June 2002). Review for Scooby-Doo [feature film]. James Berardinelli's Movie Reviews. Retrieved from http://movie-reviews.colossus.net/movies/s/scooby-doo.html on August 13, 2006. Excerpt: "Unfortunately, there is an audience out there for Scooby-Doo. It is comprised primarily of Generation X'ers, who wax nostalgic about the "classic" cartoon series, and their children, who are too young to know any better."
- Elias, Justine (Feb. 24, 2002). "Scooby-Doo Forever: The Curious Cachet of a Cowardly Dog." The New York Times. Excerpt: "Both the [Cartoon Network] and children's TV critics point to Scooby's mix of thrills, gas and reassurance as the key to its longevity."
- Elias, Justine. "Scooby-Doo Forever."
- Burke, Timothy and Burke, Kevin. Saturday Morning Fever. pg. 106.
- Chambers, Bill March 2000). Review for Scooby Doo's Original Mysteries DVD. Film Freak Central. Retrieved from http://www.filmfreakcentral.net/dvdreviews/scoobydoo.htm on August 13, 2006.
- (Aug. 22, 2002). 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time". TV Guide.
- (Jun 20, 2003). "Animal Planet Picks Top 50 TV Animals". Scoop. Retrieved from http://scoop.diamondgalleries.com/scoop_article.asp?ai=2787&si=121 on August 13, 2006.
- (2005). "The 100 Greatest Cartoons of All Time". Channel4.com. Retrieved from http://www.channel4.com/entertainment/tv/microsites/G/greatest/cartoons/results.html on August 13, 2006.
- (25 Oct. 2004). "Scooby-Doo breaks cartoon record". BBC News. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3949579.stm on March 27, 2006.
- "Scooby-Doo according to Wingnut: Collectables". Wingnuttoons.com. Retrieved from http://www.wingnuttoons.com/Scooby-Doo_Collection2.html on August 12, 2006. Contains an extensive illustrated list of Scooby-Doo-related merchandise, from the 1970s to the present.
- Stokes, Trey (2002). "The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera". Retrieved from http://www.trudang.com/simulatr/hbsim.html on August 12, 2006. Article on the creation of the ride, written by one of its programmers.