Zoinks! He may be as energetic as ever, but Scooby-Doo is, in fact, almost fifty years old.
Animation studio Hanna-Barbera produced the first cartoon starring Mystery Inc. and their Great Dane way back in 1969, and the supernatural crime-solving gang have been going strong since, via a string of follow-ups, spin-offs, and even some live action movies (of, ahem, questionable quality).
With a brand this iconic and long lasting comes a lot of fascinating facts. The story behind how the gang came to TV screens entails several twists more surprising than the vampire not being the caretaker in disguise, and the behind-the-scenes drama didn’t finish just because the show had made it to air. Then there’s the surprisingly complex mythos behind Scooby’s family and friends, and, weirdly enough for a children’s show, the rumors that the characters may have been sex addicts and stoners, but only when we weren’t watching…
So find your glasses and get yourself a bowl of Scooby Snacks to tuck into as you read through these fifteen groovy facts about the secrets of Scooby-Doo.
15. What Were Fred And Daphne Getting Up To Together?
One thing many viewers noticed about the original cartoon series was that Fred and Daphne would often disappear for long portions of episodes. Coupled with the fact that they were clearly the hot ones (well, as far as animated characters go), this led to the assumption that they were sacking off solving mysteries in order to get it on.
I suppose you couldn’t really blame them – they must have realized that all the ghosts turn out to be a cleaner wearing a sheet rather than a real threat, so there’s no harm in taking time out to bounce around in the back of the Mystery Machine. But the show’s writers refuted this idea, later explaining that they simply found Fred and Daphne boring so would get them out of the way and focus on the more interesting Shaggy, Scooby and Velma.
Nevertheless, these rumors wouldn’t go away. 2010’s Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, which followed the gang as teenagers, put Fred and Daphne in a romantic relationship, finally addressing the tension that had existed, if only in the minds of certain viewers, since the show’s beginnings.
14. It Was Spawned Out Of A Backlash Against Cartoon Violence
Whining letter-writers who complain about the violence their kids are watching may seem prudish and overly reactionary at times, but if it wasn’t for those meddling parents, we wouldn’t have Scooby-Doo.
In 1968, Saturday morning TV was dominated by action cartoons, several of which were made by Hanna-Barbera, including Space Ghost, The Herculoids, and Birdman and the Galaxy Trio (no relation to the Oscar-winning Michael Keaton movie). Worried that their precious innocent children would pick up some bad habits from these tales of outer-space adventure, parent-led groups such as Action for Children’s Television protested.
The networks gave into the pressure and canceled virtually all of these shows by 1969. CBS needed to find new, less violent shows, to fill their schedule. One of these was The Archie Show, which came from the Filmation studio, and another was produced by Hanna-Barbera – this was Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, the first in a long line of Scooby series.
13. The Movie Almost Confirmed Velma’s Homosexuality And Shaggy’s Stoner Habit
Let’s be honest, the 2002 Scooby-Doo movie wasn’t great, and it’s astonishing that it managed to get a sequel. But had writer James Gunn’s original plans for the movie come to pass, it could have been a lot more interesting – albeit at the expense of irritating some conservative parents.
Fred and Daphne may have had their fling, but other members of the Scooby Gang had rumors surrounding their personal habits, too. Viewers had often speculated that Velma might be a lesbian and had also wondered if Shaggy, being goofy, often hungry, and, well, shaggy, might be a stoner.
Gunn, who went on to write and direct the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, wanted to play on these rumors and so put lots of touches hinting that they might be true into his script. Perhaps unsurprisingly, someone decided that it had to be toned down in order for the film to provide wholesome, PG-rated family entertainment.
12. The Gang Were Originally A Rock Band. Scooby Played The Bongos.
It took a few attempts to get the formula of the show right. In its original pitch, the series that would become Scooby-Doo was called Mysteries Five and followed a rock band who’d solve supernatural crimes in between gigs. The members of the band were called Geoff, Mike, Kelly, Linda, and W.W., and they had a bongo-playing dog called Too Much.
After this was rejected, the Hanna-Barbera team reworked their ideas, with the human characters renamed and the show picking up the new title Who’s S-S-Scared? But this was again turned down, with the CBS president finding the artwork too scary for young viewers.
The show as we know it really came into being when CBS exec Frank Silverman had a big idea – inspired by the tone of the movie Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein! He revised the pitch, finally removing the rock band element and focusing more on the comedy, with Shaggy and his dog now front and center.
11. Shaggy’s Voice Actor Left Because They Wouldn’t Make The Character Vegan
You should never invite Shaggy and Scooby round for dinner because they’ll pile everything in your fridge into one enormous sandwich and gobble it down before you can say ‘appetizers’. But this recurring gag led to some awkwardness behind the scenes.
Legendary radio DJ Casey Kasem was the voice of Shaggy right from the days of Mystery Inc.’s first cases. In real life, Kasem was a devout vegan and had often expressed a desire for Shaggy not to eat meat either. He seriously fell out with the producers when, in 1997, he was asked to voice Shaggy in a Burger King commercial. He refused and left the show.
10. There’s A Gritty Post-Apocalyptic Scooby Series
Many well-known characters have been Dark Knight-ized over recent years – reimagined with a more modern and gritty outlook – but you’d think Scooby-Doo and his friends would steer clear of that trend. Apparently not.
DC began publishing a monthly comic series named Scooby Apocalypse in May last year, giving the gang a post-apocalyptic landscape to meddle with. In the world of this comic, Velma was a scientist and Shaggy a dog handler at the top-secret scientific lab behind the ‘smart dog’ program. Scooby was a prototype of this program and is able to communicate with humans through a cybernetic chip in his brain. But another project from the same lab went horribly wrong, bringing about the end of the world.
The characters have also been given a redesign for this series, with the ideas behind their original characteristics mixed in with both modern and sci-fi stylings. It’s completely ridiculous, but devout Scooby fans will get a kick out of this very different take.
9. Scooby Was Named After A Frank Sinatra Lyric
As we’ve learned already, the show was at one point called Who’s S-S-Scared?, and the lead canine character had the unusual name of Too Much. When the higher-ups decided that these names were Too Rubbish, CBS exec Fred Silverman needed to come up with something better.
The idea came to him during an overnight flight to LA. As the plane was coming about to land, Frank Sinatra’s ‘Strangers in the Night’ came on over the in-flight PA. Sinatra ends the song with some improvised nonsense singing, and Silverman found himself drawn to one particular line of this – “doo-be-doo-be-doo”.
Mishearing these sounds, Silverman decided that ‘Scooby-Doo’ would be the perfect name not just for his dog character, but for the show as well. And here’s a bonus fact about Scooby’s name – as evidenced in spin-offs where we meet his family, his full name is actually Scoobert Doo.
8. There Was A Real High-Speed Chase Involving A Mystery Machine
You’d think the kind of people who styled themselves after Scooby-Doo wouldn’t get themselves into too much trouble with the police. That wasn’t the case for California resident Sharon Turman, who painted her minivan to resemble the Mystery Machine, then ended up being chased across town in it by the cops.
Turman was wanted for violating her parole when officers spotted her on one day in 2016. She jumped into her van and sped off, leading the officers to pursue. This was no cartoon chase, as she seriously endangered other drivers by driving through a red light and nearly hitting four other cars.
Remarkably, the colorful van won the chase, as the police decided to call off the chase in the interest of public safety. Turman later ditched the van, but where did she end up after that? Well… it’s a mystery.
7. The Same Actor Has Voiced Fred For Almost 50 Years
Many actors don’t know when their next job’s going to come along, but Frank Welker has been blessed with a career security these struggling thesps would be jealous of – he’s played Fred for almost 50 years, and is still going strong!
Welker was only 23 years old when he was offered the role of the bossy ascot-wearing investigator. He’s reprised this role in every Scooby series since, with the exception of 1988 to 1991’s A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, for which Carl Steven was brought on board as the pre-teen Fred. Welker also took over the role of Scooby himself in 2002.
Other roles you may recognize Welker’s voice from those of Hefty Smurf, Abu in Aladdin, and several Transformers. He also voice doubled for Leonard Nimoy in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. For his incredible lifetime achievements, Welker was awarded an Emmy in 2016.
6. There’s A New Cinematic Universe In The Works
Shared universes are the big thing in cinema these days. Marvel did it first and did it well, then DC copied them, not so well, and now King Kong, the Universal Monsters, and even LEGO have their own mega-franchises. So should we really be surprised that Hanna-Barbera is jumping on the bandwagon?
A 3D computer-animated Scooby-Doo movie is set to reach theaters in September 2018. It’s currently being directed by Tony Cervone and Dax Shepard and will be called S.C.O.O.B. – your guess is as good as ours when it comes to what that stands for.
After this, we’ll be seeing movies set in the same universe featuring other Hanna-Barbera properties; we don’t know which ones, but good contenders include The Flintstones, Wacky Races, and Top Cat. Well, that’ll only happen if S.C.O.O.B. does well enough – but they wouldn’t make a bad Scooby-Doo movie, would they?
5. Daphne, Fred, And Velma Were Replaced In The ’80s – By Scrappy-Doo
Everyone knows that Scrappy-Doo is one of the most annoying cartoon characters ever created, right? That wasn’t the thinking at the time he was introduced… Scooby’s aggressive nephew was brought into the show in 1979 in order to boost ratings and when that initially paid off, the series was restructured to focus more on the central trio of Scooby, Shaggy, and Scrappy.
This change didn’t work out too well for the other members of Mystery Inc., as Fred, Daphne, and Velma were written out of what was now called Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo. Adventures were more comedic, with less focus on the mystery – often, the villains would turn out to be actually supernatural rather than a man in a mask!
This new format didn’t last for too long. Daphne was written back into the show in 1983 – at which point she became less of a damsel in distress and more of a strong and independent character – but it wasn’t until 1988 that Fred and Velma would return permanently.
4. Velma Losing Her Glasses Really Happened
Short of “I would have got away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids!” and “Zoinks!”, one of the Scooby-Doo series’ most well-known catchphrases is Velma Dinkley’s “My glasses! I can’t see without my glasses!”, often accompanied by her feeling around for her misplaced eyewear and not realizing she’s in the presence of a creepy monster.
But this line wasn’t in the original scripts. Rather, it actually happened during a table read, as original Velma actress Nicole Jaffe lost her own glasses and uttered the words. The producers thought it was a cute reaction, and wrote it into the show. The line would go on to be one of the most memorable recurring gags in the franchise.
It was even parodied in the Scooby-Doo and Johnny Bravo crossover episode; Velma drops her glasses at the same time Johnny drops his cool shades, leading Velma to say her catchphrase and Johnny to give the variation “My glasses! I can’t be seen without my glasses!”
3. Scooby Has An Extended Family
Dogs tend to be born into large litters, and yet Scooby-Doo is by far the most famous of his family. Many of his relatives have been introduced across the years, however.
We’ve already talked about Scrappy-Doo, his notoriously irritating nephew. There’s also Scooby’s white-furred brother Yabba-Doo, who fights crime out west with his owner Deputy Dusty; Scrappy and Yabba teamed up for several stories in the early ’80s show Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo.
Look even closer, and there are several more Doo brothers and sisters who’ve appeared, even if only once. Scooby is one of a set of triplets, alongside Skippy-Doo, a nerdy dog who can use computers (yes, of course he wears glasses) and Dooby-Doo, who styles himself like a 1980s pop star. There’s also the redheaded Howdy-Doo and the glamorous Ruby-Doo, Scrappy’s mother. We’ve even met Scooby’s parents, Mama-Doo and Dada-Doo, in certain spin-offs. That’s a lot of Doos to remember to send Christmas cards to.
2. Jodie Foster Guest Starred Before She Was Famous
A series called The New Scooby-Doo Movies aired from 1972 to 1974; its hour-long episodes saw the gang team up with guest stars. These ranged from real life figures such as the Harlem Globetrotters and Sonny & Cher to crossovers with other fictional franchises, including Batman and The Addams Family.
This particular episode saw the return of certain cast members from the ‘60s live action show, but some new voice actors had to be cast. As Pugsley Addams, the devious pre-teen genius, the producers cast a nine-year-old girl called Jodie Foster – four years before her big Hollywood break as a teenage prostitute in Taxi Driver.
The spooky adventure actually went down well enough for Hanna-Barbera to make a full Addams Family series, and Foster reprised the role for 16 episodes the next year. The producers may have been impressed by her performance, but they can’t have known how big a star Foster would end up becoming.
1. Scooby’s Voice Was Also Papa Smurf’s
You’d recognize his rolling R’s – “ruh roh, Raggy!” – anywhere, but you may not realize that Don Messick, who voiced Scooby-Doo’s titular canine from the first episodes in 1969 up until 1985, was quite the voice acting legend.
After trying to make it as a ventriloquist, Messick found his way into voice acting in the mid 1940s, first working on radio series The Raggedy Ann Show before coming to the attention of Hanna-Barbera. Though his biggest gig for them was as Scooby, he also voiced the wise old Papa Smurf in The Smurfs, faithful feline sidekick Spot in Hong Kong Phooey, less amiable cat Sebastian in Josie and the Pussycats, and much more.
You may have also heard Messick as several characters in the 1977 animated adaptation of The Hobbit or as several of the ’80s animated Transformers. Oh, and he voiced Scrappy-Doo. But we’ve talked about that pup enough.