From cash grabs to glory: Ranking ten Scooby-Doo iterations

Owen Reimer, Entertainment Editor

From cash grabs to glory: Ranking ten Scooby-Doo iterations

Scooby-Doo and Mystery Incorporated, when done well, is one of the greatest franchises in Hollywood history.However, throughout the years there has been some horrendous takes on the characters. Starting with their first appearance in 1969, these “meddling kids” and their beloved canine friend Scooby have appeared in over 40 movies and 13 TV shows. Throughout numerous reboots and spinoffs, the franchise has some serious ups and downs. 

  1. Scooby Doo and the Mystery Begins (2009)


Beginning with the worst, this 2009 TV film attempts to regain the magic of the 2002 essential  “Scooby-Doo” and fails on every front imaginable. The casting choices are awkward and every actor tries to mimic the renditions of their characters from the prior movies. This choice only makes everyone seem even worse than they are. Shaggy (Nick Pelatas) especially tries to imitate Mathew Lillard which makes one simply wish they were watching the other films. On top of awful casting, the CGI for Scooby is so awful that it distracts from every sequence he’s in, which, conveniently, is all of them. The dialogue is awkward and the origin-story plot feels unneeded and boring. Even for an obvious cash grab, “Scooby Doo and the Mystery Begins” doesn’t deliver on the most basic fronts. 

  1. Lego Scooby-Doo!: Haunted Hollywood (2016)

With any huge franchise that spans across decades, money is always a driving factor to create more content. Anything with the Scooby-Doo title will spread like wildfire, so pairing with Lego feels like it’s not even trying to hide the blatant money hunger. For a child fanbase, nothing about this movie is interesting or fun. The Lego animation style hinders so much of the storytelling, and Matthew Lillard voice acting can only go so far. Trying to sell toys is never a great motivation for creating a film. 

  1.   Daphne and Velma (2019)

This 2018 outing of two essential members of Mystery Incorporated succeeds at having an original and compelling plot. Apart from that one fact, however, the film is a wreck. What could have been a compelling new angle on two undervalued characters instead comes off as a worse Disney Channel original movie. The script makes Velma, the group’s resident genius, an unlikeable jerk who relies on teenage ‘nerd’ stereotypes, while Daphne lacks a personality. Their friendship, which is borderline toxic, makes no sense. So much could have been done from a screenwriting standpoint to elevate these characters who have displayed incredible depth in other renditions. Instead it feels like the entire Scooby-Doo aspect of the movie was an afterthought, added on for financial gain. 

  1. Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)

Sequels are dangerous. When a movie comes out of the blue and delivers an excellent experience for families across the world, (yes, the 2002 Scooby-Doo is that good) it’s difficult for studios to not instantly order a second outing. But these follow-ups commonly fail to hold on to what made the initial film magical, opting for anything but creativity. Instead of focusing on what makes the dynamic between the characters so wonderful, “Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed” decides to simply go ‘bigger,’ with more monsters, more corny lines, and less actual storytelling. The perfect cast is wasted on low-brow comedy that could even make the most immature of audiences roll their eyes. However, the cast still is able to carry a portion of the movie, given that they perfected the live action renditions of these classic characters. Still, it’s not enough. 

  1. Scoob! (2020)

This is the most recent iteration on the list, and the timing of this movie could not have been worse. In May 2020, right in the middle of a pandemic, the last thing on anyone’s minds probably would be “Hey I wonder what Scooby and the gang are up to.” Well, it turns out, they’re up to something barely fun enough to warrant one viewing. “Scoob!” tries to cash in on the current superhero craze while creating a new origin story for the gang and showing where they are in current times. It’s nothing crazy, but the animation is solid and the script has a few solid comedic moments hidden behind numerous fart jokes. It’s nowhere near the worst on the list, but it’s nothing special. 

  1. Scooby-Doo meets Batman (1972)

For some reason, Scooby-Doo and Batman’s partnership just make sense. Putting the fact that Warner Brothers conveniently owns both properties aside, the pairing of detectives surprisingly yields a solid two episodes of TV. These specials hold up for younger audiences especially, as Batman and Robin working with Mystery Incorporated to fight the Joker is a timeless tale. Very little has changed about either franchise in the 49 years since it’s initial release, so the quality writing and animation style holds up excellently. This is about as fun and Scooby-Doo can get. 

  1. Scooby-Doo and the Loch Ness Monster (2004)

There are 38 animated Scooby-Doo movies in creation from 1979 to 2019, and surprisingly, many of them are solid. These made-for-tv movies capture the franchise better than most, and 75 minutes is the perfect amount of time for a mystery to be introduced and solved. Because so many of them could have made the list, “Scooby-Doo and the Loch Ness Monster” takes the spot. It’s simply the best of the best. The sequences are about as exciting as they can get, the crew is in a whole different country (Ireland), and the “monster” is awesome. This is as good as it gets for these TV movies. 

  1. Scooby Doo, Where Are You! (1969)

It can’t be an essential Scooby list without mentioning the classic that started it all. To this day only one TV show has been able to top the first showing of Scooby and the gang. The theme song lives rent free in the minds of everyone in America, and for good reason. Without this mastercraft of a children’s show, we would all be without the rest of this list. Not only is it important, but the show holds up well. The animation style is dynamic and colorful, and the formulaic plot devices that encapsulate the franchise as a whole are more charming than ever. Everything after this was just an attempt to copy the original formula, and they got it right the first time. 

  1. Scooby-Doo (2002)

After decades in animated TV, Scooby-Doo was ready to make his live action debut. With a budget of 84 million dollars it was time to bring this beloved character to the big screen, and it could not have been more of a success. Everything about this movie is perfect in the context of the Scooby-Doo franchise. The casting is phenomenal. Not only is Mathew Lillard’s Shaggy one of the best movie characters of all time, but every role is perfectly portrayed with depth and accuracy. Every member of Mystery Inc. is able to showcase emotionally complex roles that perfectly portray the group’s dynamic. The story is also wildly entertaining and original. Starting the movie off with the group disbanding is an ingenious method of throwing the viewer off from the get-go. From then on, everything goes haywire. Somehow the entire movie is still wildly entertaining for all age ranges as well. There is no shortage of great things to say about this movie. 

  1. Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated (2010)

With all that being said, nothing touches “Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated.” While many other versions of this franchise are fun and wonderful, nothing comes close to the world-building and complex characters introduced in this two season Cartoon Network show. This is the first and only Scooby show that is able to canonically create a story that spans across the entire length of the show, while introducing development for every member of Mystery Inc. By focusing on the entire crew, and not just Scooby and Shaggy, it is able to expand on every idea introduced in the last few decades.  The atmosphere here is dark and mysterious, with real stakes involved, and it elevates everything to another level. This show takes the groundwork before it and simply goes the extra mile. Nothing touches “Mystery Incorporated.”