Scooby-Doo has been a favorite of kids for the past fifty-three years, and there’s no end in sight. So how did this all get started? How many versions are there? Why does everyone hate Scrappy? You’ve come to the right place for answers. This article goes over the many series that have portrayed Scooby and his pals.
The Mystery, Inc. Gang’s Band Days
Did you know that the original concept for the show was a group of teenagers in a rock band who solved mysteries between playing gigs? It’s weird to think about, but true; the mystery gang was originally supposed to be a band.
When the task of creating the show was given to Hanna-Barbera writers Ken Spears and Joe Ruby, and character designer Iwao Takamoto, they came up with Mysteries Five, five teenagers and a sheepdog who played the bongos. I know, right?!
The pitch was rejected, and they went back to revise. They reduced the number of teens, renamed them, and changed the sheepdog to a Great Dane–Takamoto designed him purposely to be the opposite of a prize-winning show dog of the breed. They dropped the band element, upped the comedy, and ramped down the scary on the next round of revisions.
Originally, the dog was named Too Much. However, he was renamed Scooby-Doo, based on Frank Sinatra’s scatting in “Strangers in the Night” by Fred Silverman, a CBS executive. He named the show Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?. This time, it was approved, and the rest is history. Which is exactly what we’re here to discuss.
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?
The first iteration of the gang aired starting September 13, 1969. With a total of forty-one episodes, this series stuck to its monster-of-the-week format, with no overarching plot.
The formula it created for its episode storylines is continued and played upon in many iterations, but in Where Are You?, the plot stays the same from episode to episode: the gang comes across a mystery, investigates a little, splits up to look for clues, comes back together and makes a trap for the monster, the trap fails, the gang catches the monster through a comedic series of events, the monster is unmasked as a person while the gang explains the dastardly plan, and it all gets wrapped up with the classic, “And I would’ve gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids!,” from the villain (although, the phrase “meddling kids” wasn’t coined until season 2!).
There was an eight-year hiatus in the show between ’70 and ’78 when ABC picked it up from CBS for its third and final season. (Though the final season was technically a selection of episodes from later series marketed as a third season by ABC. Those television broadcasters, always up to dastardly hijinks!)
Overall, the program was a success! The reception it got allowed the plethora of amazing content we got later.
Scooby’s Further TV Incarnations
The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972-1973)
These 1-hour long episodes featured guest stars helping the gang solve mysteries. These included both real-life celebrities voiced by themselves or impersonators and popular animated characters. Fun Fact! Mark Hamill’s first voice-acting work was done on this series. He did additional voices in 8 episodes, and has since gone on to voice such iconic characters as Joker in Batman: The Animated Series (1992) and Ozai in Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005).
The Scooby-Doo Show (1976-1978)
Technically originally aired under several different names, these forty episodes have been bundled together and branded The Scooby-Doo Show. Fun Fact! This period of Scooby history saw the introduction of Scooby-Dum, the predecessor to Scrappy-Doo in that he was widely hated (including by me as a child).
Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo (1979-1980)
Driven by falling ratings and threats of cancellation, the crew gave the show a major overhaul. Decreasing the presence of and ultimately eliminating Fred, Daphne, and Velma, the show put the focus on Shaggy, Scooby, and Scooby’s nephew, Scrappy-Doo. Initially received as a good move by critics, Scrappy continued to be successful for years. However, as time went on, fans began to dislike him. This caused his own creators to turn on him as well, and Scrappy, though portrayed in a few more recent iterations, has largely fallen by the wayside. Fun Fact! Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo was the last Hanna-Barbera cartoon to use the studio’s laughtrack.
Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo (1980-1982)
A second run of the series that introduced the franchise’s present-day most hated character, this iteration was made up of seven-minute shorts that were put together into episodes or put in as segments of other cartoons. Fun Fact! Scrappy was originally going to be the companion of Daphne’s niece, but she was dropped during the process of Scrappy’s creation.
The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries (1983-1984)
Yet another Scooby and Scrappy show, this one eventually featured the return of the rest of the gang. Fun Fact! In this series, Fred’s last name is given as Rogers, which is Shaggy’s last name, in one of the episodes. However, this appears to be a mistake, as he is also given the last name Jones in the same episode.
The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo (1985)
The shortest of the Scooby series, this program actually has an overarching plot. Scooby and Shaggy accidentally open up a chest that contains thirteen ghosts and demons that they then must recapture before they can do any major harm. This series introduces Vincent Van Ghoul (voiced by Vincent Price), as a helpful supporting character. Fun Fact! The series didn’t tie up all the loose ends, so a movie was released in 2019 finishing off the series nearly thirty-five years late.
A Pup Named Scooby-Doo (1988-1991)
A personal favorite of mine, this series had a different style of animation than any Scooby series previous. It revolves around the mystery gang in their younger years–much younger! As children, they solve mysteries in a similar format to the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? plots. Fun Fact! This was the last Scooby series where Don Messick, Scooby’s original voice actor, voiced Scooby.
What’s New, Scooby-Doo? (2002-2006)
Ah, yes, the Scooby-Doo I grew up with. Nostalgic, indeed. This is the first series after Hanna-Barbera closed and Warner Bros. took over the Scooby-Doo franchise. These are the versions of the characters that would be seen in the many animated movies released from 2003 onward. Fun Fact! This was the first series to feature The Hex Girls, though they were actually introduced in the 1999 movie, Scooby-Doo! and the Witch’s Ghost.
Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue (2006-2008)
This is an interesting one. The plot is different from anything done with the franchise before. First, Shaggy inherits the estate of his rich inventor uncle. Then, he updates the Mystery Machine to have the ability to turn into different things (think Magic School Bus but a bit wackier). Finally, he must stop his uncle’s rival and save the world, all with the help of his trusty pal Scooby, of course. This one also features a different art style, the characters’ designs being based on the 2002 live-action movie. It was so different from any of the other series that it is almost unrecognizable, really. Fun Fact! Ray DeLaurentis said he developed the idea for the show in three and a half days.
Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated (2010-2013)
Another series with an overarching plot, this one features the gang on a mission to solve the mysteries of the past of their hometown, Crystal Cove, and what happened to the first Mystery, Inc. The plot is treated far more seriously than in any previous series, and it includes personal drama between the characters absent in any of the previous animated iterations. Fun Fact! Velma is heavily implied to be a lesbian, and, according to producer Tony Cervone, was made that way on purpose. Likewise, her relationship with the character Marcie was a romantic one, though they “[didn’t have] time to act upon their feelings during the main timeline…” according to Cervone.
Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! (2015-2018)
This is about when I stopped following new Scooby content, though more for time and motivation reasons than any kind of dislike of new content. This one pokes fun at elements of the original series and has a completely new art style, much like A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. Fun Fact! Matthew Lillard returned as Shaggy in this one, years after playing him in the live-action movies.
Scooby-Doo, and Guess Who? (2019-2021)
Much like The New Scooby-Doo Movies, this show features special guests helping the gang solve mysteries and save the day. Fun Fact! This is the first Scooby-Doo series to have any episodes released directly to HBO Max, and it won’t be the last! Two more series, one aimed at adults, and one at toddlers, are on the way!
Animated and live-action, there are forty-seven television, streaming, theatrical, and direct-to-video Scooby-Doo films. As someone who has seen a good deal of these, I can tell you my favorites are Witch’s Ghost, Zombie Island, the two live-action theatrical films, and Loch Ness Monster. There’s so much to choose from, and so many different takes on the characters, that I could never cover it in a single article.
Other Mystery Gang Media
Again, there’s far too much: games, comics, shorts, etc. There’s even the first episode of a Riverdale/Supernatural-style fan-made show that came out recently! The Scooby-verse is massive!
So there we have it. Scooby sure has had a lot of adventures! And I’m sure we all hope he has many, many more. From Where Are You to Guess Who, we’ve journeyed with Scooby through the years, and I know I’ll certainly be along for the ride, whatever comes next.