When it comes to the James Bond franchise, there is perhaps nothing more iconic to it than the title themes made for the opening credits of each film. From soulful, instant classics, to 80s pop-rock, to whatever the late 90s were, every Bond song is instantly recognizable. I’m here today to rank them, but not in a boring, how-good-are-they kind of way. I don’t know anything about music theory to do something like that. No, I’m ranking them based purely on how I vibe with them in spur-of-the-moment decisions.
A couple of points before I get started: First, these rankings are not indicative of the quality of the artist performing their respective tracks. And second, as Dr. No does not have its own song, there is no listing for it, but to have the rankings be a clean 25 entries I have included a song that was made for one of these films but was rejected. Which one? Well, you’ll have to read on…
25. “Writing’s on the Wall” – Sam Smith
A song that wishes it could be “Skyfall” but fails at being memorable in any way other than how bad it is. The worst kind of vibes.
24. “The Man with the Golden Gun” – Lulu
Film: The Man with the Golden Gun
This song is not good. At all.
23. “The World Is Not Enough” – Garbage
Film: The World Is Not Enough
This was sung by a band called Garbage and that’s indicative of its quality. The world does not have enough vibes to make this enjoyable.
22. “Die Another Day” – Madonna
Film: Die Another Day
Instead of a Bond song by Madonna, we got a Madonna song being used for a Bond film. That’s a big difference and it leads to the vibes just not being there in this one.
21. “Live and Let Die” – Paul McCartney & Wings
Film: Live and Let Die
The second worst Beatle performs one of the worst Bond songs whose only memorable feature is its opening. Let the vibes die.
20. “Tomorrow Never Dies” – Sheryl Crow
Film: Tomorrow Never Dies
The late 90s, early 2000s were not kind to Bond songs, and unfortunately, Sheryl Crow is not the right kind of singer to make this one work for what it needs to be.
19. “All Time High” – Rita Coolidge
They were cowards for not having this song be named after the film it’s featured on. Defeatist vibes.
18. “You Only Live Twice” – Nancy Sinatra
Film: You Only Live Twice
The most average of Bond songs. That’s all I’ve got. Perfectly average vibes.
17. “Another Way to Die” – Jack White and Alicia Keys
Film: Quantum of Solace
The opening guitar riff helps give this some pretty enjoyable vibes.
16. “Diamonds Are Forever” – Shirley Bassey
Film: Diamonds Are Forever
There’s a personal bias I have to all of Shirley Bassey’s Bond songs thanks to our shared Welsh heritage, but this is her weakest contribution to the series. The vibes were, unlike the diamonds, not forever.
15. “License to Kill” – Gladys Knight
Film: License to Kill
The legend that is Gladys Knight helps the song not come across as a Shirley Bassey clone, giving it a license to vibe all of its own.
14. “GoldenEye” – Tina Turner
It takes nearly a whole minute for Tina Turner to start singing, which means it barely makes its way into the top 15.
13. “Moonraker” – Shirley Bassey
While the song itself is great, this is from a film that sees Bond go to space at the tail end of the 70s. It should have been a disco track, even if disco was in its last days then.
12. “The Living Daylights” – a-ha
Film: The Living Daylights
I unequivocally love a-ha, so of course, I massively vibe with this one.
11. “Spectre” – Radiohead
Film: Spectre (Unreleased)
Here we have the bonus song I mentioned up top. Radiohead submitted this for use in, you guessed it, Spectre, but for whatever reason, the producers went with Sam Smith’s terrible track instead. The most hauntingly beautiful Bond song that never was.
10. “A View to a Kill” – Duran Duran
Film: A View to a Kill
It’s Duran Duran, and at one point they sing the lyrics “dance into the fire”. Shit fucking rules y’all. They should have called it “A View to a Vibe” amirite?
9. “For Your Eyes Only” – Sheena Easton
Film: For Your Eyes Only
Perhaps the hottest a Bond song has ever been. There are some very spicy vibes contained within. Bonus points for Sheena Easton actually appearing in the title sequence.
8. “Thunderball” – Tom Jones
Another Welsh artist means there’s a lot of bias towards this one, but once you learn that Tom Jones actually passed out while holding the astonishing final note, you can’t help but vibe with it.
7. “Goldfinger” – Shirley Bassey
For that brass section alone this gets the biggest possible chef’s kiss I can give. Some truly unbeatable vibes right here, which only reinforces how incredible the remainder of this list is.
6. “Skyfall” – Adele
Despite how frequently this was played on the radio when it was released, to the point of over-saturation, it’s hard to deny just how iconic “Skyfall” is. The vibes, as the kids would say, are lit.
5. “From Russia with Love” – Matt Monro
Film: From Russia with Love
Matt Monro’s voice makes me want to hop in a 1960s convertible Ferrari and drive down the Italian coast. Impeccable vibes.
4. “No Time to Die” – Billie Eilish
Film: No Time to Die
I don’t believe in recency bias, but if there ever was such a thing, then this is the deserving benefactor of it. I vibe so much with “No Time to Die.” Billie Eilish nails every single thing you need to make a Bond song iconic. I can’t wait to see it used in the film itself.
3. “We Have All the Time in the World” – Louis Armstrong
Film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
One of the most romantic songs ever made. And I mean, how can you go wrong with Louis fuckin’ Armstrong? Great vibes, and based on a couple sneak peeks at Hans Zimmer’s No Time to Die score, seems to be featured quite heavily in the new release.
2. “Nobody Does it Better” – Carly Simon
Film: The Spy Who Loved Me
When they say nobody does it better, they mean it. Carly Simon understands the assignment like few others have. Not just excellent vibes, but one of the greatest Bond songs. The best kind of vibes.
1. “You Know My Name” – Chris Cornell
Film: Casino Royale
And here we come to the top entry, the title theme I vibe the most with. From the collaboration between Chris Cornell and composer David Arnold to its integration in the film itself as a proto-Bond theme, it’s hard to explain just how incredible “You Know My Name” is. 15 years on, this remains unsurpassed.
And lastly, I just want to end by giving a shout-out to Joe Cornish’s excellent parody song made for the release of Quantum of Solace. It never fails to make me laugh.
Hey readers, GateCrashers resident Task Force Xpert here! In my mind the Suicide Squad is one of the best ideas the comics industry has given us. A brilliant concept that can be incredible with the right creatives to capitalise on it properly. That concept has persisted in a few different forms over the years but a few factors always remain. One of which is in the name. Death and suicide. It’s a group that is known for its high body count and high-risk missions. Given that these stories usually feature obscure supervillains, the writers can churn through as many of these guys as they want to. So there’s a lot to cover here, in a lot of different ways. But there’s more to this than just morbid glee. Because I think the deaths of these characters gives an interesting peek into the creative style of each writer and artist that has tackled this concept. So in an effort to track the evolution or devolution of the Squad as well as cackling at the many violent deaths we will be discussing, I thought…why not?
First, some rules. What qualifies as a death? After all, no one really dies in comic books. Firstly it has to be main continuity books, so things like movie tie-ins don’t count. I think for a death to count it has to be an actual proper death. No getting sent to an alternate dimension, clones or death fakeouts. The character has to have had the soul escape from their body. However the character can be revealed to have survived the events of the story, but it must be from outside that run. As long as the character is dead in the context of the story’s narrative and the creative team intended for them to be dead, it counts. Everything else is fair game.
Blockbuster: Legends #3
First on the chopping block is Blockbuster, incinerated by Brimstone in the Squad’s very first appearance. Having the most powerful character on the team at the time die first, set the stakes perfectly. Nobody is safe.
Mindboggler: Suicide Squad Vol. 1 #2
Mindboggler sets a tradition that will become evident throughout this runthrough. She’s the first to die in Ostrander’s run proper, but also the first Firestorm villain to die, she wouldn’t be the last. A brief, pathetic, and fairly predictable death but it effectively establishes Boomerang’s character.
Multiplex: Firestorm Annual Vol. 2 #5
Multiplex was yet another Firestorm villain who was drafted onto the Squad to actually apprehend Firestorm. Unfortunately fellow Squad mate Parasite was released prematurely as backup. He drains Multiplex of his energy and uses his powers through the rest of the issue. I’m unsure if he is actually dead here, the issue establishes that those he drains die but he’s never mentioned outside this panel again. He shows up later in continuity but within this run and story he appears to be dead.
Slipknot: Suicide Squad Vol. 1 #9
Pretty much the same thing as Mindboggler, both a Firestorm villain and a character whose death was indirectly caused by Boomerang. Here Boomer let Slipknot know that the explosive bracelets (yes Bracelets. The bombs in the heads weren’t established yet) were a ruse. It’s brutal and again shows us how much Boomer just sucks.
Karin Grace: Suicide Squad Vol. 1 #9
In the same issue, Karin Grace sacrifices herself to stop the Manhunters and save the Squad. This was a way to redeem herself for betraying the Squad to said Manhunters in the same issue. So it’s not a death that is entirely earned but it’s important for how it affects Flag’s character going forward.
Mr 104: The Doom Patrol and Suicide Squad Special #1
An obscure Doom Patrol villain, Mr 104 was destroyed in a battle with the Doom Patrol against the Rocket Reds. He’s got probably one of the quickest deaths in the team’s history, so it’s short and sweet but not terribly interesting.
Psi: The Doom Patrol and Suicide Squad Special #1
Psi was a Supergirl villain that was again killed by a Rocket Red. Psi is lucky in that she gets one of the few quiet deaths among the Squad. She dies in the arms of the Doom Patrol’s Negative Woman away from the battlefield. It’s a short and oddly touching death, an anomaly for the Squad.
Thinker: The Doom Patrol and Suicide Squad Special #1
The oldest character on this list, The Thinker was a golden age Flash villain. Unfortunately, his experience didn’t seem to help him much as his throat was slit by his teammate Weasel. It’s not especially exciting or unique but I just really like this panel.
Weasel: The Doom Patrol and Suicide Squad Special #1
Thinker gets some revenge when his helmet is used by Rick Flag to kill Weasel. A nice bit of poetic justice and also another Firestorm villain to tick off.
Shrike: Suicide Squad Vol. 1 #25
Shrike is one of my personal favourite Squad deaths in Ostrander’s run. Ostrander puts in the work to make her sympathetic, as she works with the Squad’s resident priest to overcome the trauma of being sexually assaulted as a child. It was a footnote in the larger run but it made her death feel shocking and meaningful.
Rick Flag Jr: Suicide Squad Vol. 1 #26
For me, this is the crown jewel of Suicide Squad deaths. Flag, perhaps the book’s closest thing to the main character, goes out in a blaze of glory. Flag decided to take out the superpowered terrorists, the Jihad at their base Jotunheim, entirely solo. This one main mission results in Jotunheim being destroyed along with Flag. This particular issue is one of my favourites of Ostrander’s run. Here Ostrander blows the doors wide open. Just when we were getting complacent with the idea that the core cast wouldn’t die, Flag bites it. It’s not just shocking but incredibly well staged and it marks a key turning point in the run. My favourite Squad death.
Briscoe: Suicide Squad Vol. 1 #34
The first of several deaths in one of the Squad’s most disastrous missions. The Squad’s resident getaway pilot died in a fiery explosion on Apokalips in #34. Briscoe was a fun and enjoyable character, proving some levity with his enjoyable personality throughout Ostrander’s run. This death also meant the destruction of Briscoe’s beloved copter, Sheba. It’s a shocking death as Briscoe helped the Squad out in a jam many times, so his death made this one of the Squad’s darkest hours.
Doctor Light: Suicide Squad Vol. 1 #36
Doctor Light, a classic joke villain was killed in a fittingly comedic fashion. During this story, Light was harassed and haunted by his dead buddy Jacob Finlay, the heroic Doctor Light. So in one final act Light chooses to be a hero and takes to the sky, only to be immediately killed. It’s hilarious and a great example of Ostrander’s subversion. These are deadly missions and the bad guys aren’t gonna wait for you to say your catchphrase. So yeah it’s one of my favourites, especially for how it sets up Light later in the book as he navigates his way through Hell.
Lashina/Duchess: Suicide Squad Vol. 1 #36
Lashina had spent her time on the Suicide Squad disguised as a character called the Duchess, after she had been stranded on Earth following a failed attack on Belle Reve. She eventually managed to kidnap and lure the Squad to Apokalips where she aimed to take her place as leader of the Fatal Furies. However, she presumed Darkseid would want a bunch of mortals to kill. This oversight cost Lashina her life as she was destroyed by Darkseid’s omega beams. A quick death but oh so satisfying.
Flo Crawley: Suicide Squad Vol. 1 #36
While not technically a part of the Squad’s field missions, Flo was a key part of Task Force X operations. She was a computer expert and one of the most well-developed of the Belle Reve staff. She was also Waller’s younger cousin and acted as a sort of innocent conscience for Waller throughout the series. However, she yearned for adventure and was killed on Apokalips. It’s probably the saddest death the Squad has ever had and affects Waller from here.
Ravan: Suicide Squad Vol. 1 #47
Ravan is one of the great characters Ostrander introduced as part of the Jihad. A character who worshipped Kali, died in the least honorable way he could think of, poison from Kobra. Ravan was an enjoyable and interesting character with a fitting end.
Enforcer: Suicide Squad Vol. 1 #58
Man these last few have been pretty serious, time for some cannon fodder, and who better to serve that purpose than a Firestorm villain! The Enforcer was one of several characters killed in the War of the Gods crossover event, though I don’t know how given his whole deal is a suit of armour and he was stabbed with a regular ol spear.
Karma: Suicide Squad Vol. 1 #58
Karma was a member of the Doom Patrol, he sucked and deserved to die.
The Writer: Suicide Squad Vol. 1 #58
Maybe the most hilarious and creative death in Suicide Squad history. The Writer is Grant Morrison. After writing themself into continuity with Animal Man, Ostrander decided to make them a member of the Suicide Squad. The Writer was promptly killed after suffering from writer’s block. So fun.
Adam Cray, Karma: Sucide Squad Vol. 1 #61
The Atom was a point of mystery for the back half of Ostrander’s run. Many believed this character to be Ray Palmer back from the dead, but instead, it was a whole new character, Adam Cray. Cray secretly worked for Waller in an espionage and surveillance capacity. Unfortunately, he was killed by Blacksnake who believed that Cray was Palmer. At this point, readers had grown to love Cray so his death was shocking and tragic. Someone, please bring this guy back
Sidearm: Superboy Vol. 4 #1
Following Ostrander’s run, the Squad appeared in crossovers like a story with Superboy. Sidearm was a Superboy villain killed by another Superboy villain and Suicide Squad mainstay, King Shark. Not an incredibly interesting death if you remove the giant humanoid Shark.
Big Sir: Suicide Squad Vol. 2 #1
Keith Giffen wrote a new Suicide Squad run in the 2000s and wasted no time in killing off his Squad. Big Sir was a kind-hearted if dim-witted character who was killed by a small kamikaze child. Sad.
Multi-Man: Suicide Squad Vol. 2 #1
Multi-Man was an incredibly underrated Challengers of the Unknown villain who was killed by genetic experiment Eve and her mindless children monsters. Pretty boring, just another one on the list.
Clock King: Suicide Squad Vol. 2 #1
Okay, this guy I actually care about. Clock King freaking rules, always has and he deserves better than this.
Eliza: Suicide Squad Vol. 2 #3
Eliza was a character introduced in this issue. Take note. If a character is introduced in an issue of Suicide Squad, they aren’t making it out alive. Anyway, she was swarmed by killer ants. Who cares? #
Putty: Suicide Squad Vol. 2 #3
Putty is the same, created for this one story. He’s not as bad as Eliza seeing as he gets a moment of panic before his death which is more characterisation than most characters get in this. But he also dies off-panel so that’s down a point again.
Bolt: Suicide Squad Vol. 2 #3
Bolt is a generic lightning villain, who acts as an assassin for hire. So that means he’s one of those characters that just shows up when you need a panel of just a bunch of D-list villains. He dies in an explosion caused by the killer ants. Yes, the ants caused a massive explosion, they had a proper lighter and everything. Anyway, this is surprisingly not the last we will hear from Bolt on this list.
Larvanaut: Suicide Squad Vol. 2 #3
Larvanaut was yet another character created for this issue who died in this issue. He managed to kill the queen ant but that only caused the rest of the ants to attack and kill him in a rage. This is yet another off-panel death. Lame.
Fun aside though: Killer Frost is the only Squad member to survive this mission. Killer Frost of course being the most prominent villain of Firestorm.
Reactron: Suicide Squad Vol 2 #7
Reactron, a nuclear powered Supergirl villain was “killed” by teammate Killer Frost. It happens off panel and we only hear it taking place over comms. Anyway they note that he may not be dead but may as well be and won’t survive being thawed out. It’s ambiguous but I think it still counts.
Modem: Suicide Squad Vol. 2 #11
As you may have guessed from the high body count, Giffen’s run wasn’t focused on characterizing the villains. Instead, the focus shifted to the guys behind the scenes. The first of these characters to die was Modem, the book’s hacker character. Anyway, his computer was hacked by Digital Djinn, resulting in his death. This one was actually somewhat shocking as Modem was a main character.
Havana: Suicide Squad Vol. 2 #12
Havana was Sergeant Rock’s second in command on this Squad. She was the most well-developed character of this run so her death felt meaningful and impactful, if not perfectly executed. She was killed by Rustam of the Jihad.
Punch: Checkmate Vol. 2 #6
Punch and Jewlee were two characters used throughout Ostrander’s run. They were brought back for Greg Rucka’s Checkmate where Punch saved his wife from an ambush. These two characters had up until now been incredibly wacky and comical so seeing such a serious moment of self-sacrifice and grief was jarring and shocking. Really well handled.
Javelin: Checkmate Vol. 2 #7
Javelin was another character who died heroically to save Jewlee. This particular Squad seemed to be a great bit deal more heroic than most. It’s worth noting that Javelin survived outside of this run.
Tattooed Man: Checkmate Vol. 2 #7
The revelation of this issue was that Squad member the Tattooed Man ratted the team out to the Society of Super-Villains. As revenge Icicle froze him, Mirror Master mirrored him?? And Jewelle finished him off by stomping on him. It gets extra points for being a death caused by 3 Squad members.
(It’s worth noting that these last three deaths are not from a team known officially as Task Force X, rather they were former Squad members allying together for revenge against Waller)
Persuader: 52 #34
Persuader is a Superman villain inspired by Persuader from the Legion of Superheroes villain group the Fatal Five. His death was at the hands of Osiris of the Black Marvel Family after Waller had called for them to be brought in. It was incredibly shocking given the efforts to remain non-lethal up till this point.
Blackguard: Suicide Squad Vol. 3 #7
Blackguard was the unlucky first death in a Suicide Squad coup lead by General Eilling. He’s a Booster Gold villain so he was about as obscure as you get but he got to die in a spectacular fashion. With his head popping off like a melon.
Windfall: Suicide Squad Vol. 3 #7
Windall was an interesting character in that she wasn’t all that villainous, often committing violent acts and crimes because of actions against her. She was even briefly a member of the Outsiders. So it’s pretty brutal that she died trying to protect her teammates only to be melted by Chemo.
Cliff Charmichael: Suicide Squad Vol. 3 #7
At long last! Another Firestorm villain! Cliff started out as Ronnie Raymond’s bully before graduating to a new version of The Thinker. Along with Eilling he betrayed Waller and the Squad and was promptly shot and killed by King Faraday.
Twister: Suicide Squad Vol. 3 #8
Twister was a Teen Titans character allied with Brother Blood who was eventually drafted into the Squad. Up until her death Twister had been controlling the powers of her rogue teammate White Dragon. Unfortunately, the surrounding battle broke her concentration enough for White Dragon to burn her alive. Peachy.
White Dragon: Suicide Squad Vol. 3 #8
Of course, this was paid in kind when Plastique killed White Dragon back, by blowing him up from the inside out, which is awesome. This White Dragon was a character created by Ostrander early in his run, as the vigilante William Hell. He’s a white supremacist. Good riddance I say.
Plus a fun one-liner.
Marauder: Suicide Squad Vol. 3 #8
Marauder is another Ostrander character brought over from his incredibly underrated Aquaman run. He got blown up by a bunch of explosive Boomerangs by…you guessed it, Captain Boomerang. The second one that is. Anyway, pretty boring death.
Yasemin Soze: Suicide Squad Vol. 1 #67
In this Secret Six crossover, Deadshot’s loyalties were tested as he faced his old Squad. Unfortunately new Squad member Yasemin Soz let it go to her head that she was fighting a legend. Deadshot quickly killed her before she could keep monologuing. Hilarious.
Voltaic: Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #2
The first of MANY deaths from the New 52 era. Voltaic was a character created for this run, which as we know by now is practically a death sentence. Anyway, Voltaic was only brought along so he could be killed and framed for the Squad’s actions.
Lime: Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #7
Lime is one half of Lime and Light, twin sisters who turned to crime. I particularly like Lime’s death in that it answers the question of what if one of the Squad is caught. Well….their head gets blown off.
Light: Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #9
Look if you’re part of a duo and your other half dies, you got it coming sooner or later. I’m surprised Light was able to make it another 2 issues. She died as a human shield for Deadshot. Lovely
Yo-Yo: Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #18
Yo-Yo had it pretty bad. Earlier in this run, Yo-Yo was eaten by King Shark and presumed dead, only to be discovered clinging to life later. Yo-Yo served with the Squad again but died properly when Deadshot detonated his neck explosive in order to take out his sister, Red Orchid. He was practically the only relatively nice character in this Squad, so his death was more of a shame than others.
Crowbar: Justice League of America’s Vibe #5
I can hardly even remember this one. Crowbar is a villain that wields a magic crowbar that shoots lasers or something. He died in his one and only New 52 appearance because his crowbar overloaded fighting Vibe I think? I don’t know, I don’t think anyone even cares. MOVING ON.
Deadshot: Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #13
That’s right, arguably the Squad’s most iconic member Deadshot finally takes a bullet himself in #13 of the New 52 series. Lawton died shooting himself through the heart to get at Regulus, the leader of terrorist group Basilisk. One of many evil snake groups in comics. Anyway, it’s a pretty cool death. I kinda love this trope of characters injuring themselves to get to the bad guy. Although it gets points off for reasons you’re about to see.
Deadshot, again: Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #19
Whaattt? Deadshot? Didn’t he JUST die? Yeah, well, sometimes death just doesn’t stick. Turns out that the bullet only just grazed his heart and he was brought back up to full health in no itme. Only to be shot and killed by a new Squad member, the Unknown Soldier. Only plot twist. The next issue reveals him to be alive AGAIN! Turns out that Waller now has a serum that can bring people back to life. So some might argue these last two deaths don’t count. But Lawton was technically dead in both of them so it works in my book.
Voltaic, again: Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #20
Voltaic again as well!? Well, he just couldn’t stay dead. He’s just back inexplicably in #16 which we later find out was because of that little serum Waller has. Anyway, I guess being resurrected got to his head since he started to annoy the Unknown Soldier, resulting in a severe beating. That guy just is not a people person. Belle Reve’s handy medical staff tried bringing him back again but clearly, it didn’t go so well and Voltaic exploded on the operating table. I just find his death pretty funny in a black comedy sorta way. The writers just really tortured this dude.
Warrant: Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #27
So Warrant was, get this, a member of the Israeli Special Forces. He was eventually condemned by Israel (so you know he’s pretty bad) and joined up with the Suicide Squad. Although he was recruited secretly by The Thinker. He falls through some terrain, Deadshot refuses to help him and he drowns.
Reverse Flash: New Suicide Squad Annual #1
Yeah, this is that weird New 52 Reverse-Flash, Daniel West. West died from a massive time bomb after saving the children of a village. He pushes his body to the limit to do something heroic for once. It’s another rare heroic death in Squad and it’s given an appropriate amount of weight and gravitas. Not bad
Hunky Punk: New Suicide Squad #21
Yes, that’s really his name and he dies in a story called Double Teamed. He got shot through the eye by a character named Tattoo of a Rose. Yeah, it’s weird. He’s a delightful British gentleman who gets brutally murdered the instant he’s in the field. Bless him.
El Diablo: New Suicide Squad #21
This is one of those Squad deaths that happens to a main player. Diablo was one of the most developed Squad members of the New 52 era and usually, you can expect the main players to survive. But in the instances when these exclusive few do die, it’s in some glorious fashion. Not really so for El Diablo who just kinda gets really hot and goes to hell or something? It’s such a short unspectacular moment in this issue and it’s not even really clear what happened. It’s not really a death I think? Cause he just comes back in another Squad series soon after and it’s not really explained but in the context of this…I think it counts?
Battleaxe: Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot and Katanna Vol 1 #4
Battleaxe was a character created for this specific miniseries. She was pretty sassy but not much to write home about. She died when King Kobra used a sonic cannon that detonated the explosive in her neck. Uninteresting character but her death is creatively ruthless.
Deadshot (Will Evans): Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot and Katanna Vol 1 #6
In this story Lawton was replaced as Deadshot. His replacement Will Evans was introduced for this story. He was far more ruthless and careless than Lawton. Of course Lawton didn’t like that, so he tracked him down and shot him in the face. A pretty fun confrontation and a brutally cathartic death.
Zoomax: Suicide Squad Most Wanted: El Diablo and Amanda Waller #5
Zoomax was a character introduced for this story. He had animal morphing powers and got along well with El Diablo. Unfortunately he was drafted into the temporary Task Force Y and told to bring in El Diablo as he went on the run. Diablo fried him, causing his explosive to detonate. Kinda senseless given he is established to have a rapport with Diablo.
Captain Boomerang: Suicide Squad Vol. 5 #1
One of the more shocking deaths on this list. Boomerang is like a cockroach and somehow manages to survive every mission despite his skills being really good at throwing boomerangs. Anyway, he got melted by General Zod, leaving only his toasty boots behind. It sets the stakes well for William’s more bombastic Squad run but he was only dead for a few issues so it gets points knocked off for that.
Cyclotron: Suicide Squad Vol 5 #9
Cyclotron was a part of a one time Squad introduced in a Justice League crossover. This was a Squad with significantly more powerful members like Lobo and Emerald Empress. Cyclotron was a new character introduced and he tried to lead a revolt against Waller. Of course his being on this list should tell you he was unsuccessful. Waller doubled the reward for Lobo in exchange for killing him. What Lobo didn’t know was that he was a walking bomb. The Squad survived the blast but the little coup was stopped dead in its tracks.
Hack: Suicide Squad Vol. 5 #13
Hack was a character introduced in Rob Williams’ run. She had the ability to communicate with machines, hence the name. She was a pretty endearing character. Of course, you can’t be endearing and stick with the Squad for long as she was murdered by Captain Boomerang. She later returned as living code (you know how it is) but a death is a death.
Mad Dog: Suicide Squad: War Crimes Special #1
Mad Dog was a bounty hunter allied with organisations like Leviathan and the League of Assassins. Unfortunately, his career with the Suicide Squad wasn’t as prosperous. He died when he fell behind the rest of the Squad. But hey he got to take somebody down with him.
Master Jailer: Aquaman Vol. 8 #40
Rob Williams’ Suicide Squad didn’t really have all that many deaths. However a more touching death belongs to a minor Superman villain called the Master Jailer. He died in an Aquaman crossover containing a bomb planted by fellow Squad member Satanis. This story built him up as a pretty sympathetic character so it was a sad death.
Rag Doll: Suicide Squad Vol. 5 Annual #1
Okay, strap in cause this mission is a doozy. Waller has only a backup Squad as the main members are in Atlantis. She tasks this Squad with tracking down an escaped patient who is mysteriously fused with a man. The spirits of the people this man has killed come to haunt the Squad, brutally murdering Ragdoll. One of the more graphically disturbing deaths the title has ever seen. A shame too since I’ve always really loved Ragdoll.
Skorpio: Suicide Squad Vol. 5 Annual #1
Skorpio is the next casualty of these ghosts, as he’s dragged down into the water and killed. Skorpio is a Steel villain. Which is not something you can really say often. Good for him. But he still died quickly and off-screen.
Tao Jones: Suicide Squad Vol. 5 Annual #1
Tao Jones also died off-screen and this is her only New 52 appearance. She was a member of Helix, the group opposing Infinity Inc and she could make force fields or something. Meh.
Baby Boom: Suicide Squad Vol. 5 Annual #1
Another Helix pick is Baby Boom. She has the ability to blow stuff up with her mind, fairly self-explanatory. Anyway, these vague ghosts surrounded her and she exploded. It’s decent enough death. I enjoy that she’s cocky throughout but just before she dies she’s afraid. It’s something
Shimmer: Suicide Squad Vol. 5 Annual #1
Man if this is a weirdly NSFW panel if I’ve ever seen one. This is Shimmer, classic member of the Fearsome Five, the Teen Titans villains. She gets choked out and has her face torn up by more of these Scooby-Doo dudes.
Scream Queen: Suicide Squad Vol. 5 Annual #1
Eventually, Scream Queen and Merlyn are able to make it back to Waller intact. Of course, Waller isn’t happy and takes it out on Screamqueen by uhh blowing her head off her shoulders. I don’t like Waller being so flippant with killing the Squad. They’re expendable but this feels malicious and coldblooded, not calculated or powerful. It’s the goriest of the exploding head deaths though.
Snarlgoyle: Suicide Squad: Black Files #1
Suicide Squad Black was a Squad created specifically to take on magical threats. A few characters were created for this story in specific, one such character was Snarlgoyle who was apparently a cancer patient who moved her body into a gargoyle. Anyway she’s killed by some zombie dudes and is later resurrected by Sebastian Faust as Tiamat.
Alchemaster: Suicide Squad: Black Files #1
Another character created for this story is Alchemaster. He had a bunchy of weird goblin creatures hanging around him. Anyway he functioned as this stories cowardly character. You know the one, the one who screams about not wanting to die. He gets axed in the shoulder and bleeds out. he then gets his explosive detonator so his remains can’t be studied and used against them.
Wither: Suicide Squad: Black Files #6
Wither was another character introduced for this mini series. She was a succubus turned bad who was draining the squad of life. She had a relationship with a personal favourite of mine Gentleman Ghost. With her powers he was the only one who could take her out. It’s a well done moment but it’s undercut somewhat with Wither resurrecting at the end of the issue.
Lawman: The Flash Vol 5 #75
Lawman was killed off panel in a brief story from Williamson’s Flash run. He was introduced as a former partner to Deathstroke and a member of the League of Assassins’. Underwhelming death just there to set the stage for Captain Cold.
Snakebite: The Flash Vol 5 #75
Snakebite was a frequent partner of Lawman but at least had the dignity to die on screen trying to escape the chaos with a book that looks exactly like the Necronomicon from Evil Dead. I like cowardly Squad deaths so it’s fun enough.
Magpie: Suicide Squad Vol. 6 #1
Oh poor Magpie. Magpie was in a mission rigged against her. The Squad’s new director Lok, sent in the Squad to bring in a group of metahumans known as the Revolutionaries. Magpie wasn’t even meant to survive and she dies off-screen. It’s pretty lame but her begging for mercy since she’s way in over her head is pretty funny.
Cavalier: Suicide Squad Vol. 6 #1
Cavalier is another casualty of this deliberately suicidal mission. I love swashbuckling characters like him and this whole issue he has such a cocky Errol Flynn charm, only for him to complain that someone broke his nose, followed up by a metal fist through the back of his head. Contender for the funniest death in the Squad’s history.
The Shark: Suicide Squad Vol. 6 #3
No, not King Shark. This is another humanoid Shark character, a Green Lantern villain. He’s killed by one of the revolutionaries turned Squad member, Fin. In the first issue Fin’s brother, Scale was killed by the Shark. So fin got his payback by calling on some actual sharks to take him out. It’s a bit of poetic justice but also fairly cruel in that Shark watches his death telepathically through the eyes of Fin.
Lok: Suicide Squad Vol. 6 #5
Of course, Waller can’t be replaced for very long. In a standoff with the Squad, Lok uses his insurance, the force fields of Zebraman. This allows Deadshot to blow his brains out. It’s a really satisfying moment that pivots the run in a new direction. We finally get to see a Squad break out and start something new. It’s punctuated with the amazing touch of a riff on the comics code.
Jog: Suicide Squad Vol. 6 #5
Jog was one of the Revolutionaries drafted into the Squad. He had the ability to run at superspeed but only in smaller bursts. He died destroying all of the detonators for the Squads explosives. He manages to get all of them save one, causing the explosive to detonate. He gets one final goodbye to his leader before he goes. But it’s a good death that feels important and unique. Although it loses points for his resurrection later.
Deadshot: Suicide Squad Vol. 6 #9
Deadshot dies yet again and this time there’s no reviving him. Well not yet at least, this is comics after all. He’s killed by Black Mask after Floyd sees through his disguise. Black Mask promptly shoots him in the face, sending him hurtling out a window. It’s okay. I don’t particularly love this version of Deadshot and it wasn’t shocking going in, since we pretty much knew this was happening. Hey DC! Don’t spoil Squad deaths in your solicitations.
Bolt: Suicide Squad Vol. 7 #1
Poor Bolt. This is his second death in the pages of Suicide Squad. This time he is part of the team tasked with freeing Talon from Arkham Asylum. Unfortunately, Talon doesn’t take too well to being rescued and cuts Bolt’s throat. Hey, at least he died quickly.
Film Freak: Suicide Squad Vol. 7 #1
Film Freak is an incredibly obscure villain who speaks entirely in film references. Yeah, he’s as dumb as he sounds. So of course he was killed almost instantly when he got caught in Joker gas.
Shrike: Suicide Squad Vol. 7 #1
Shrike is a name given to several different DC characters, including a Hawkman villain and a character killed early on in this list. However, this version of the character was Boone, a Nightwing villain. He was also killed by Joker gas as Peacemaker rushed forward, leaving him behind. I love Squad deaths caused by other Squad members so this one’s great fun.
Exit: Suicide Squad Vol. 7 #2
Robbie Thompson continues the grand tradition of characters being created for a story and then dying in it. Exit is introduced as a low-level thief with the ability to great portals. He gets a little bit of character though as he tries to stay behind and save the Arkham guards before leaving with the Squad. He removes his gas mask to help a guard but it costs him his life. A surprisingly noble end.
Mindwarp: Suicide Squad Vol. 7 #2
Mindwarp follows the same tradition. He supposedly had telepathy but died because his mask cracked.
Keymaster: Suicide Squad Vol 7. #3
Waller sends the Squad to bring in Bolt for her new team. There are two characters first appearing in this issue, one of them Keymaster, who can make portals. Yep, another portal guy. He tries to make his escape through a portal with fellow newbie, Branch. Sadly for him, it sets off his explosive and he dies. Pretty standard fare.
Firefly: Suicide Squad: Get Joker #1
Firefly, DC’s resident arsonist ironically met his end burning alive. Waller replaced the neck explosives with a phosphorescent that burns whoever is unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end from the inside out. The Joker jumped Waller and stole the trigger, hence Firefly’s gruesome end.
That brings us to the end! Those are all of the deaths in the Suicide Squad’s history.
The following are deaths that I was unsure were able to fit the criteria. These first examples are Squad deaths that took place before the villainous iteration of the Squad now. They are only really included because of the name and because of Rick Flag as a throughline.
Manny, Arnie, and others: Star Spangled War Stories #128
During the 60s, Robert Kanigher wrote a bunch of fun stories of World War 2 soldiers fighting dinosaurs. These were often advertised as stories featuring the Suicide Squad. This was the Squad of Rick Flag Sr. I’ve lumped them together in this because it’s unsure if this Squad was a defined group or just a nifty tagline to hook readers. Not many characters died in the pages of these stories yet the Squad was well known for its high body count.
Rick Flag Sr: Secret Origins Vol. 2 #14
I suppose this technically counts as a first appearance death. Ostrander retconned the backstory of Rick Flag. When Flag was first created his origin was that of a World War 2 hero. However, as Ostrander started writing the character in the 80s the timeline didn’t line up. So he explained that was his father, Rick Flag Sr. That retcon was introduced in this issue and he died later in the issue while taking out the War Wheel.
Hugh Evans: Secret Origins Vol. 2 #14
Evans was one of the first Suicide Squad members, debuting in the Squad’s first appearance in Brave and the Bold #25. Evans died, however, between the Silver Age stories and Ostrander’s book. He was killed in a flashback detailing that Squads last mission. Evans and teammate Jess Bright fell. Bright was later revealed to have survived but poor Evans wasn’t so lucky.
Keith Giffen’s run introduced Sergeant Rock to the title. Through flashbacks Giffen established that following his service in Easy Company Rock led a version of the Squad. Two criminals were introduced for one mission, neither survived.
Spanner: Suicide Squad Vol 2 #4
Spanner was shot by Argentinian mobsters in an ambush. Unfortunately being a prisoner, Spanner was cuffed to his bed and couldn’t defend himself. He didn’t even have a line of dialogue.
Barnes: Suicide Squad Vol 2 #4
Barnes died off panel when the Squad infiltrated the home of former Nazi villain Iron Major. Off panel deaths are usually pretty lame but I think this one works. We don’t actually see the fight into the house so this helps sell how deadly the battle was.
Rick Flag Sr: Suicide Squad Vol 5 #31
In Rob Williams’ run it was revealed that Rick Flag Sr has been alive and secretly operating out of a satellite in orbit. The Squad is attacked by the Red Wave Monster, a modernised version of the first Suicide Squad monster. Flag Sr is sucked into orbit and dies in space.
The following are deaths that happened adjacent to main DC continuity, either on other Earths or through different events. Specifically with Future State and Convergence. The Convergence event was a way to revisit past events and characters and so we see a Suicide Squad akin to John Ostrander’s work.
Bane, Black Manta, Count Vertigo, Cyborg Superman, Deathstroke, Star Sapphire, Poison Ivy, Bronze Tiger, Deadshot: Convergence: Suicide Squad #2
Convergence is kinda confusing in its place in the multiverse. These are supposedly versions of the character from pre-Zero Hour. There were a massive amount of characters in this story and everyone died. All of these Squad members died when Star Sapphire and Cyborg Superman were fighting each other and caused an energy overload.
Amanda Waller and Captain Boomerang: Convergence: Suicide Squad #2
Waller managed to take out herself and Boomerang, who had turned out to be this story’s evil mastermind. She detonated explosives in the satellite headquarters of Kingdom Come Green Lantern, bringing an end to the Suicide Squad.
These next deaths are all from either the Justice Squad or an alternate reality Suicide Squad. Both teams are versions of characters who only appeared in these two issues, from parallel earth’s. The Justice Squad was made up of villains posing as heroes, while the Suicide Squad ventured to Earth 3 to bring back Waller. The reason these are honourable mentions is because none of these characters are the mainline counterparts, but I felt they still had to be included.
William Cobb: Future State: Suicide Squad #1
The first to die was Willaim Cobb, Talon. Waller blew his head off for disobeying orders. Nothing new.
Black Manta: Future State: Suicide Squad #1
There’s a ticking clock element to this story as well as the Squad start dying off the longer they are away from their own Earth. A version of Black Manta was the first to go. Not really anything of note other than this fun visual of the blood filling up his eyes.
Fisherman: Future State: Suicide Squad #2
A character called Fisherman was Waller’s version of Aquaman. The Fisherman was an old-school Aquaman villain and in Kurt Busiek’s run, it was revealed his helmet was a xenoform parasite. This version of the character was a person possessed by this parasite. He died getting his soul ripped out of his body by Lor-Zod or something?
Evil Star: Future State: Suicide Squad #2
Green Lantern villain Evil Star is dying surrounded by a version of Clayface disguised as Martian Manhunter. So he’s already dying and then PeaceMaker decides to just blow him up anyway. I guess to get to Clayface? Cool.
Cheetah and Clayface: Future State: Suicide Squad #2
In this story, it’s established that Clayface has explosives not in his head but in every piece of muck and dirt that forms him. So Waller exploits this to kill the surrounding Squad members, taking out not only Clayface but also Cheetah.
Lor Zod: Future State: Suicide Squad #2
Lor Zod, son of General Zod is a member of the Suicide Squad killed by a new version of the Flash created for Future State, although she was unaware it would kill him. He was injected with a lethal dose of Kryptonite.
Flash villain Mirror Master was used to kill himself and Hypnotic Woman (acting as Wonder Woman) when she used her powers to take over Mirror Master’s mind. Peacemaker detonated Mirror Master, taking out both of them and Bolt, this version of The Flash.
Parademon: Future State: Suicide Squad #2
Parademon was part of the Squad Peacemaker brought with him to retrieve Waller. He appeared to die in an explosion earlier. He survived however only to die immediately when he was next seen, because of his separation from his home universe.
Peacemaker and Amanda Waller: Future State: Suicide Squad #2
Peacemaker eventually also succumbed to the death of his fellow Squad members. However, just before his death, he was able to fatally wound this version of Waller, who died in the arms of Conner Kent who acted as leader of her Justice Squad.
Was this lunacy? Going through every Squad comic to discuss and showcase as many gruesomely graphic deaths as I can? Well not entirely. Because I think there is a lot to learn about the Squad here as to how it’s changed and evolved with each writer and creative team.
The original run by John Ostrander has a total of 19 deaths if we’re discounting the original Squad killed in Flashback from Secret Origins. But each death in Ostrander’s run has a real purpose and weight behind it. These characters stayed dead. If someone was killed in Ostrander’s run it wasn’t pretty or usually all that dramatic. In fact, most of the deaths in Ostrander’s work are rather unceremonious. Mindboggler is shot in the spine and Doctor Light is lasered on Apokalips. The deaths are supposed to highlight the fallibility of the characters. Ostrander has a real emphasis on the character’s flaws and growth. Each death highlights how a grisly demise may be right around the corner.
Keith Giffen changed up the formula quite drastically. He wasn’t concerned with the field members of the Squad at all. Instead, he focused on developing the characters behind the scenes. The ones helping the team from back home. So his run featured the deaths of many obscure or invented characters. They’re the most expendable of any of these runs.
The New 52 work on the characters was far more gruesome. Writers like Adam Glass and Ales Kot played up the horrible nature of the Squad’s lives. These are among the most brutal of the deaths in the Squad’s history. Teammates betray each other with gore aplenty. The torture is ramped up even further when Waller withholds the Squad from death. Characters die and return to life, seemingly die and reappear. For the New 52 Squad, working as part of Task Force X is grisly, a waking nightmare where criminals are mice in Waller’s great maze.
The death and rebirth aspect of the Squad is carried through to Rob Williams’ DC Rebirth run. There’s an almost meta-narrative to this stuff. Boomerang, Rick Flag, and Waller all die or seemingly die at some point only to heroically return later. For Williams, the Squad is the best of the best. An elite team that has endured hell and came out fighting. For such a long run there are only two permanent deaths. Wiliams plays with the fact that characters like Deadshot and Harley Quinn aren’t going to be killed. This is a Squad that can survive and will survive anything the DC Universe throws at them.
Tom Taylor’s run is quite different in that it functions less as a story on the Squad and more on a new group called the Revolutionaries. But there is still work done with the core members of Deadshot, Boomerang, and Harley. They’re quite friendly with each other here. Taylor intentionally or not builds off of Williams. Now the Squad are not only survivors but a small family, who celebrate together and mourn each other.
Robbie Thompson is only a few issues into his run so far so it’s harder to glean what his take on the Squad is. But so far these are characters who especially don’t get along. It takes the opposite approach of Taylor. Most deaths are caused by other teammates. Talon causes the death of Bolt and Film Freak, and Branch egging on Keymaster causes his death. Other characters are left behind or abandoned like Mindwarp and Shirke. So far Thompson’s Squad is a team that you have to struggle to keep up with. You have to work together or you die.
So where to from here? Well, we’re getting Task Force Z, a Squad made of zombified DC villains. It seems that even in death you aren’t safe in the Suicide Squad.
If there are any deaths I missed, feel free to let me know and I can add them to the list.
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 The10,000-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.