Scooby Doo missed an opportunity to redeem the franchise outcast

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Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated fell into the familiar rhythm of dismissing Scrappy-Doo rather than trying to redeem the much-maligned character.

Scooby-Doo! Mystery incorporated was a game-changer for the longtime Hanna-Barbera group of mystery-solving teens and their big talking dog. It eschewed the one-off mysteries format that had long been the show’s staple and delved into the characters’ personal lives in a way that no other show or film had done before or since. It always stayed true to the history and personalities of the “Scooby Gang” and retained its established voice performers, but with the addition of 2002 live-action Shaggy Matthew Lillard taking on the role of Casey Kasem (who will appear in several episodes as Shaggy’s father).


Lillard’s addition was just one of the few references to live-action movies, like SD!MI attempted to be the “ultimate” Scooby-Doo series, incorporating elements from all other Scooby media. Namely, the first season episode “The Siren’s Song” began with Fred and Daphne visiting the Crystal Cove “Spook Museum”, a local attraction decorated with statues of various villains and monsters from previous series. After spotting a statue of Flim Flam, the “trickster pre-teen” of the 1985s The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo – which Fred understandably has no memory of since he and Velma were written out of the show at that time – Daphne spots an exhibit for Scrappy-Doo. She is immediately told to look away by Fred, who adds that they all swore they would “never talk about it”.


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Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated Scrappy Doo Statue

It’s a perfectly serviceable nod to a few aspects of the franchise that SD!MI developers Mitch Watson, Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone had no intention of returning. In the case of Flim Flam, its original series was regularly recalled, with 13 Ghosts Vincent Van Ghoul a recurring character on SD!MI and Maurice LaMarche impersonating original actor Vincent Price (on whom the character was also visually based). The refusal to discuss Scrappy could even be seen as a callback to the 2002 live-action film which featured him as the surprise villain; in addition to Lillard’s cast SD!MI also had Velma Linda Cardellini live in a different supporting role, and an exhibit for the film’s Luna Ghost appeared at the Spook Museum.


As noted however, SD!MI went beyond being just another Scooby-Doo series and attempted to bring real depth and stakes to the characters. Fred’s character was often just a cipher in many incarnations of the show and movies beyond being the de facto leader of the Mystery Inc. team. SD!MI might have gone a bit far in making trap-making his primary motivation, but he did so by explaining how being raised by a single father after losing his mother made trap-making traps an externalization of his desire to avoid losing someone else close to him. Velma and Daphne having a little more personality than Fred required fewer reworks for the new series, and Shaggy and Scooby-Doo remained as delightfully determined as ever. SD!MI nevertheless put the whole gang through the emotional and physical spin revealing new facets to all. But the former Scrappy-Doo series co-lead was left at a singular moment alone through SD!MI two seasons and 52 episodes.


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Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo

Which does not suggest that SD!MI touched on all aspects of Scooby-Doo lore excluding the lovable Great Dane’s nephew; for example, the Scooby-Dum and Scooby-Dee cousins ​​of The Scooby Doo Show were also absent from SD!MI. Additionally, the series ignored previous incarnations of the main cast parents in favor of developing original stories. Nonetheless, it still managed to incorporate a wealth of material from the franchise’s forty-plus years.

It seems easy to just ignore Scrappy, considering he had been pretty much wiped out of Scooby-Doo media since a last major appearance in 1988. Scooby-Doo! and the reluctant werewolf. Scrappy wouldn’t be gone entirely, but it would be via the previously noted villainous out-of-character role in the first live-action film, as well as guest appearances in the more mature. Scooby Apocalypse comedy and a fleeting mention in 2019 Scooby-Doo! and the curse of the 13th ghost direct-to-video movie (which again referred to the character with disdain). Prolific comics and animation writer Mark Evanier wrote the 1979 episode that featured Scrappy-Doo, and in a memento about his personal website unequivocally credits him as a major factor in keeping Scooby-Doo on the air. Scrappy would then consider the various Scooby-Doo series for the next decade until he chose to refocus on the original gang in the late ’80s prequel series. A puppy named Scooby-Doo.


By design, Scrappy was meant to be the opposite of his Uncle Scooby, the latter being a nervous coward while the diminutive Scrappy would run towards danger without hesitation. Certainly, the character smacks of desperation for a series that was simply looking for new ways to stay on the air in the years before it became a recognized and revered animation institution. Yet, considering all the different incarnations of Scooby-Doo over the past few decades alone (besides the famous Scooby-Doo! Mystery incorporated), it seems a short-sighted decision to avoid dealing with the long-running pint-sized pariah entirely.

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