Everyone knows Scooby-Doo. Everyone has their own special version of the show they grew up with and appreciates different things about it. Maybe you love the gothic look, or the musical chase scenes, or the slapstick comedy, or maybe Daphne because she’s literally god. In my case, I binged the franchise last year and watched all 15 shows and 46 movies. And in doing that, I discovered that I’m basically cursed. I’m physically unable to completely dislike anything about Scooby-Doo. I would even watch those shows and movies that I rarely enjoyed again, by the pure fact that they are part of the franchise. And since I can’t escape my eternal obsession with the talking dog and the geeks that solve mysteries, I thought I might as well do something with it. So this time, I’m going to rank all current 15 runs of Scooby-Doo.
15. The Richie Rich/Scooby-Doo Show
I didn’t really have the best of times watching this show. It’s the second season since Scrappy-Doo’s first appearance, and they decided to change most everything. There was no Daphne, no Velma, nor Fred in sight, and the remaining members of the mystery gang, Shaggy, Scooby, and Scrappy were just out in the world doing their thing. They didn’t solve mysteries, but encountered real monsters, like a witch that turns Shaggy into a frog. At this point, Scrappy started to become a walking catch-phrase, and I don’t mean like Velma losing her glasses. In a 7 minutes’ episode, you would hear Scrappy say the same catch-phrase more than five times. So you either love it or you start to question what you’re doing with your life. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but if you like zany cartoons from the 80s with a short runtime, maybe it’s the right thing for you.
14. The Scooby & Scrappy-Doo Puppy Hour
There’s not much to say about this show, it keeps the same format as the one mentioned above. But it does bring some change. It introduces Yabba-Doo, Scooby’s brother, and the companion of a deputy in a town that seems out of the old west. He appears only exclusively with Scrappy in episodes where Shaggy and Scooby are left out. As I said, there’s not that many changes, but the little there is makes for a nice change of pace when watching it.
13. Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!
This is the second show after the hiatus that ended with What’s New, Scooby-Doo? and since that one was a pretty by-the-books modernization of the classic formula, they wanted to do something different with Get a Clue. This time, Shaggy and Scooby are alone again. Shaggy inherits a mansion from one of his various uncles, a scientist millionaire, who disappeared mysteriously. That sounds like a nice, normal setup for Scooby-Doo, right? Well, in the first episode they discover that Shaggy’s uncle is hiding somewhere because a secret, evil organization that wants to destroy the world is looking for him. So the hippie and the talking dog go on quests with the most random gadgets you could think of, and Scooby snacks that give Scooby powers, trying to defeat the evil organization. So yeah, pretty different. If for some reason you ever wanted a campy spy story mixed with Scooby-Doo, this should be the holy grail for you.
12. The New Scooby-Doo Movies
This is the second Scooby-Doo show, and keeping things on brand, they already changed a lot from the original. The gimmick of this one is that while they solve mysteries, they have guest stars. Those guests can be actors or even fictional characters. And to be honest, I think how much you’re going to like each episode depends on who’s in it. I loved the Batman episodes, but a lot of actors just didn’t do it for me. In part because of their type of comedy that just didn’t click with me, and in part because of the generational gap that made me not know most of them. Also, instead of 20 minutes, the runtime is 40 minutes, and for me, it dragged on several occasions. But it does give the sense that Scooby-Doo is just another Hollywood TV show that you could even watch the behind-the-scenes of, and that’s really cool.
11. The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show
After the success of the Richie Rich/Scooby-Doo format started to decrease to a point where The Scooby & Scrappy-Doo Puppy Hour was canceled after only one season, the production team decided to bring a couple of things back from the original format. The runtime was now 11 minutes, Scrappy was toned down, they were back to solving mysteries (although still facing real monsters sometimes), and more importantly, Daphne was back in the gang. Her presence changes the group dynamic for the better, serving as a contrast for Shaggy and Scooby’s cowardice but also for the hot-headed nature of Scrappy. And besides, Daphne is the best character from the mystery gang, so if someone had to be back, I’m glad it was her.
10. The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries
This keeps the format from The New Scooby & Scrappy-Doo Show, but it has one of the weirdest 80s intros that you can encounter, sung by Shaggy, so it’s instantaneously better. It also has double-part episodes where Velma and Fred are allowed to appear again, and it’s revealed that Velma has discovered water on Mars and Fred has been writing mystery books. It really feels like a reunion after so much time since they left, especially since in those shows, time has passed and the gang members are no longer teenagers in high school. If I ever want to watch Scooby-Doo in short bits, this is definitely what I’ll choose.
9. The Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo Show
The first appearance of one of the most infamous characters in TV history; Scrappy-Doo. His behind-the-scenes creation was basically hell on earth for the creative team, and until this day he’s so hated that the current shows and movies avoid mentioning his existence, and if they do, it’s for a joke where he’s the punchline. But If I’m being honest, Scrappy’s great. He’s cute and the admiration he has for his uncle is too wholesome for me to not like him. He plays well with the rest of the personalities in the gang and it’s a welcomed change of pace after the same formula for 3 shows.
8. Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?
The most recent Scooby show that just ended its run with three seasons. As What’s New was a modernization of Where Are You, Scooby-Doo, Guess Who serves as a modern approach to The New Scooby-Doo Movies. And I think it does a great job. Some of the celebrities still don’t work for me at all, and there’s some I still have no idea who they are, but it normally has great guests that work incredibly well with the Mystery Gang. The runtime is the run-of-the-mill 20 minutes that I think it’s perfect for the show so it never drags, and it has what is probably the most perfect art style for a modern view of the classic designs.
7. What’s New, Scooby-Doo?
Released in 2002, What’s New was the first Scooby-Doo show since 1991, the longest hiatus in the franchise’s run. While it was made because of the success of the Zombie Island tetralogy, it decided to go in a completely different direction. Just from the presentation, it’s a big departure from the previous incarnations, changing the art style, some of the designs, and especially the shift of going from traditional to digital animation. The formula is exactly like the original, especially the second season of Where Are You, musical chase scenes and all. The technology and mysteries are a bit more out there, and the horror elements that could be found, especially in the backgrounds, were toned down a lot. If the original series was a product of the 60s, this is very evidently a product of the 00s. It even has Simple Plan and Smash Mouth in it!
6. A Pup Named Scooby-Doo
This run marks the first time the hometown of the gang is established as Coolsville, and it takes place when they’re around ten years old. They hang around in their treehouse, waiting for mysteries to solve exclusively in the city. This series can be thanked for a lot of characterization that has stayed with the characters to this day, like the dumbness of Fred. It also came back to the original formula after so many runs without mysteries or with real monsters (Although it features one single friendly ghost in one episode). The art style sets itself apart from previous shows not only in the character designs but in the background art, which is a lot more whimsical and less gothic-inspired. This is definitely the gang at their cutest, with a tiny Velma that loves to hug Scooby, and with very cartoony dances during the chase scenes.
5. Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?
Is there a more classic show than the first iteration of Scooby-Doo? I think the perfect word to describe it is “charming”. From the very first episode, the elements of the show would click perfectly with viewers even half a century later. Shaggy and Scooby running from the monsters, the recollection of clues, the costumed villains that go from a wax monster to just a person with a sheet over their head, the intrinsically gothic and especially atmospheric backgrounds, everything combines to make a really weird pitch that wouldn’t be expected to work as well as it does, and not only was a success, but a cultural phenomenon that would spawn one of the most successful and recognizable franchises of all time.
4. The Scooby-Doo Show
This is the definition of the phrase “If it’s ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If it wasn’t for the intro, and the slightly, almost unnoticeably better animation, it would be the same as the first run. And if you ever watched the classic episode, it’s highly possible that you confused some of these episodes and thought they belonged to Where Are You. It’s exactly the same, but in my opinion, has some villains that I prefer, like The 10,000-volt ghost, The Mad Doctor,and The Disc Demon (Who also has what is probably my favorite intro for any monster in the franchise).
3. The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo
Definitely one of the most distinguishable runs of Scooby-Doo, and the last appearance of Scrappy to date. It starts when Shaggy and Scooby are tricked by two ghosts to open the Chest of Demons, releasing 13 ghosts that will destroy the world. Obligated to travel around the world trying to trap them again, the gang takes a very different shape this time around, with Shaggy, Scooby, Scrappy, Daphne, and two new members: Flim Flam, an orphan kid that tries to scam everyone and serves as a companion to Scrappy; and the one and only Vincent Van Ghoul, a wizard thousands of years old, who is voiced by, and based both in name and appearance on horror icon Vincent Price. The show can get pretty weird, with the gang entering a cursed town where the residents turn into werewolves, or being sucked into a comic book, and it tries to have as much fun as it can with each one.
2. Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!
The most controversial Scooby-Doo show. Although, much of the controversy is created by people that didn’t watch it, sadly. Be Cool is very distinct in its design, something that put people off ever since they were first shown it. But they work perfectly on their own and especially within the context of the show, which goes for a more comedic tone than ever before (and for now, after too), being one of the funniest shows I’ve watched. It doesn’t even try to be funny, it’s just ingrained in its DNA. The timing is always perfect, also deciding to play with the classic sequences under their own rules. But it’s not like comedy is everything it has going for it. It also knows how to handle horror elements incredibly well, with an episode that makes homage to Psycho that has authentic suspense and horror in it. And the characters are certainly unique, having the foundations made by previous iterations but modeled to be something of its own, even having the most distinct, and maybe even my favorite version of Daphne, who’s totally unhinged in this.
1. Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated!
Mystery Incorporated is what happens when you combine David Lynch’s Twin Peaks with Scooby-Doo. While there are a lot of movies, shows, and games that try to be like Twin Peaks, Mystery Inc. does it notoriously well, all without feeling forced. Maybe because the resources were already there, they just needed to be put in that direction.
The characters are taken to their maximum weirdness. The mystery, instead of being auto-conclusive with each episode, spans over the whole series, and there’s a general feeling of things not being quite right. For example, there’s an episode where the gang goes to interrogate a victim that was left in the hospital by a monster, and while he’s talking, he has a heart attack because of the trauma. But then we see the gang leave the room while his heart stops, and doctors enter with urgency, and their only reaction is Daphne thanking him and Fred saying that “It was a good question and answer session” with total calmness. Almost like there are two realities that are happening at once, and you just gotta accept it.
But it’s not just great for resembling other existing things, I used the Twin Peaks comparison to better explain how it feels to watch the show, but it’s absolutely great on its own merit. The mystery is extremely engaging from the first episode, which creates an atmosphere of weariness, like nothing in the town is what it seems. But probably the most important thing in the series is the characters, and the main cast does not disappoint. Each one has their own character arc, even Scooby-Doo himself, that makes the writing of the show shine at its brightest. They’re not only great character arcs for Scooby-Doo, which if we’re being honest, it’s not that much of a challenge, but they’re great character arcs in general. And the supporting cast is amazing too, with every side character feeling unique and weird in the best way possible.
Mystery Incorporated is not only the best Scooby-Doo show, but one of the best shows in general that you can find. And It’s also proof of how limitless the franchise is. I firmly believe that there is a type of Scooby-Doo for everyone, and that’s because the production team behind the show always tried to do things differently than before. And even though a lot of people complain when changes are made, like the recent outrage with the HBO Max show Velma, Scooby-Doo is always at its best when it tries to reinvent itself, believing in its potential but also appreciating what can be found at the core.
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