Scooby-Doo is an American animated cartoon franchise, comprising several animated television series produced from 1969 to the present day. The original series, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, was created for Hanna-Barbera Productions by writers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears in 1969. This Saturday-morning cartoon series featured four teenagers—Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, and Norville “Shaggy” Rogers—and their talking brown Great Dane named Scooby-Doo, who solve mysteries involving supposedly supernatural creatures through a series of antics and missteps.
Following the success of the original series, Hanna-Barbera and its successor Warner Bros. Animation have produced numerous follow-up and spin-off animated series and several related works, including television specials and made-for-TV movies, a line of direct-to-video films, and two Warner Bros.–produced theatrical feature films. Some versions of Scooby-Doo feature different variations on the show’s supernatural theme, and include characters such as Scooby’s cousin Scooby-Dum and nephew Scrappy-Doo in addition to or instead of some of the original characters.
Scooby-Doo was originally broadcast on CBS from 1969 to 1976, when it moved to ABC. ABC aired the show until canceling it in 1986, and presented a spin-off featuring the characters as children, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, from 1988 until 1991. New Scooby-Doo series aired as part of Kids WB on The WB Network and its successor, The CW Network, from 2002 until 2008. Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated aired on Cartoon Network from 2010 to 2013, and Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! debuted on Cartoon Network in 2015. Repeats of the various Scooby-Doo series are broadcast frequently on Cartoon Network and its sister channel Boomerang in the United States as well as other countries.
In 1968, parent-run organizations, particularly Action for Children’s Television (ACT), began to protest about what they perceived as excessive violence in Saturday morning cartoons. Most of these shows were Hanna-Barbera action cartoons like Space Ghost, The Herculoids and Birdman and the Galaxy Trio, and virtually all of them were canceled by 1969 because of pressure from the parent groups. Members of these watchgroups served as advisers to Hanna-Barbera and other animation studios to ensure that their new programs would be safe for children.
Fred Silverman, executive in charge of daytime programming for the CBS network at the time, was looking for a show that would revitalize his Saturday morning line and please the watch groups at the same time. The result was The Archie Show, based upon Bob Montana’s teenage humor comic book Archie. Also successful were the musical numbers The Archies performed during each program (one of which, “Sugar, Sugar”, was the most successful Billboard number-one hit of 1969). Silverman was eager to build upon this success, and contacted producers William Hanna and Joseph Barbera about possibly creating another show based on a teenage rock group, this one featuring teens who solved mysteries in between gigs. Silverman envisioned the show as a cross between the popular I Love a Mystery radio serials of the 1940s and either the Archie characters or the popular early 1960s television series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.
After attempting to develop his own version of the proposed show called House of Mystery, Joseph Barbera, who handled the development and sale of Hanna-Barbera shows while William Hanna handled production, passed the task along to story writers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears and artist/character designer Iwao Takamoto. Their original treatment, based in part on The Archie Show, was titled Mysteries Five and featured five teenagers: Geoff, Mike, Kelly, Linda, Linda’s brother W.W. and their bongo-playing dog, Too Much, who were all members of the band Mysteries Five. When The Mysteries Five were not performing at gigs, they were out solving spooky mysteries involving ghosts, zombies, and other supernatural creatures. Ruby and Spears were unable to decide whether Too Much would be a large cowardly dog or a small feisty dog. When the former was chosen, Ruby and Spears wrote Too Much as a Great Dane but revised the dog character to a large sheepdog (similar to the Archies’ sheepdog, Hot Dog) just before their presentation to Silverman, as Ruby feared the character would be too similar to the comic strip character Marmaduke. Silverman rejected their initial pitch, and after consulting with Barbera on next steps, got Barbera’s permission to go ahead with Too Much being a Great Dane instead of a sheepdog.
Lead character designer Takamoto, while designing the characters, consulted a studio colleague who happened to be a breeder of Great Danes. After learning the characteristics of a prize-winning Great Dane from her, Takamoto proceeded to break most of the rules and designed Too Much with overly bowed legs, a double chin, and a sloped back, among other abnormalities.
Ruby and Spears’ second pass at the show used Dobie Gillis as the template for the teenagers rather than Archie. The treatment retained the dog Too Much, while reducing the number of teenagers to four, removing the Mike character and retaining Geoff, Kelly, Linda, and W.W. As their personalities were modified, so were the characters’ names: Geoff became “Ronnie” – later renamed “Fred” (at Silverman’s behest), Kelly became “Daphne”, Linda “Velma”, and W.W. “Shaggy”. The teens were now based on four teenage characters from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis: Dobie Gillis, Thalia Menninger, Zelda Gilroy and Maynard G. Krebs, respectively.
The revised show was re-pitched to Silverman, who liked the material but, disliking the title Mysteries Five, decided to call the show Who’s S-S-Scared? Silverman presented Who’s S-S-Scared? to the CBS executives as the centerpiece for the upcoming 1969–70 season’s Saturday morning cartoon block. CBS president Frank Stanton felt that the presentation artwork was too scary for young viewers and, thinking the show would be the same, decided to pass on it.
Now without a centerpiece for the upcoming season’s programming, Silverman had Ruby, Spears, and the Hanna-Barbera staff revise the treatments and presentation materials to tone down the show and better reflect its comedy elements. The rock band element was dropped, and more attention was focused upon Shaggy and Too Much. According to Ruby and Spears, Silverman was inspired by Frank Sinatra’s scat “doo-be-doo-be-doo” at the end of his recording of “Strangers in the Night” on a flight to one of the development meetings, and decided to rename the dog “Scooby-Doo” and re-rechristen the show Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! The revised show was re-presented to CBS executives, who approved it for production.Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! made its CBS network debut on Saturday, September 13, 1969 with its first episode, “What a Night for a Knight.” The original voice cast featured veteran voice actor Don Messick as Scooby-Doo, radio DJ Casey Kasem (later host of radio’s syndicated American Top 40) as Shaggy, actor Frank Welker (later a veteran voice actor in his own right) as Fred, actress Nicole Jaffe as Velma, and musician Indira Stefanianna Christopherson as Daphne. Scooby’s speech patterns closely resembled an earlier cartoon dog, Astro from The Jetsons (1962–63), also voiced by Messick. Seventeen episodes of Scooby-Doo Where are You! were produced in 1969-70. The series theme song was written by David Mook and Ben Raleigh, and performed by Larry Marks.
Each of these episodes features Scooby and the four teenage members of Mystery, Inc., Fred, Shaggy, Daphne and Velma, arriving at a location in the “Mystery Machine”, a van painted with psychedelic colors and flower power imagery. Encountering a ghost, monster, or other supernatural creature who is terrorizing the local populace, they decide to investigate. The kids split up to look for clues and suspects while being chased at turns by the monster. Eventually, the kids come to realize the ghost and other paranormal activity is actually an elaborate hoax, and—often with the help of a Rube Goldberg-like trap designed by Fred—they capture the villain and unmask him. Revealed as a flesh and blood crook trying to cover up crimes by using the ghost story and costume, the criminal is arrested and taken to jail, often repeating something nearly identical to “… and I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids!”
Scheduled opposite another teenage mystery-solving show, ABC’s The Hardy Boys, Scooby-Doo became a ratings success, with Nielsen ratings reporting that as many as 65% of Saturday morning audiences were tuned into CBS when Scooby-Doo was being broadcast. The show was renewed for a second season in 1970, for which eight episodes were produced. Seven of the second season episodes featured chase sequences set to bubblegum pop songs recorded by Austin Roberts, who also re-recorded the theme song for this season. With Stefanianna Christopherson having married and retired from voice acting, Heather North assumed the role of Daphne, and would continue to voice the character through 1997.[The influences of I Love a Mystery and Dobie Gillis were especially apparent in these early episodes. Of the similarities between the Scooby-Doo teens and the Dobie Gillis teens, the similarities between Shaggy and Maynard are the most noticeable; both characters share the same beatnik-style goatee, similar hairstyles, and demeanors. The core premise of Scooby-Doo, Where are You! was also similar to Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books. Both series featured four youths with a dog, and the Famous Five stories would often revolve around a mystery which would invariably turn out not to be supernaturally based, but simply a ruse to disguise the villain’s true intent.
The roles of each character are strongly defined in the series: Fred is the leader and the determined detective, Velma is the intelligent analyst, Daphne is danger-prone, Shaggy is a coward more motivated by hunger than any desire to solve mysteries, and Scooby is similar to Shaggy, save for a Bob Hope-inspired tendency towards temporary bravery. Later versions of the show would make slight changes to the characters’ established roles, most notably in the character of Daphne, shown in 1990s and 2000s Scooby-Doo productions as knowing many forms of karate and having the ability to defend herself, and less of a tendency towards getting kidnapped.
Scooby-Doo itself would be an influence on many other Saturday morning cartoons of the 1970s. During that decade, Hanna-Barbera and its competitors produced several animated programs also featuring teenage detectives solving mysteries with a pet or mascot of some sort, including Josie and the Pussycats (1970–71), The Funky Phantom (1971–72), The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan (1972–73), Speed Buggy (1973–74), Goober and the Ghost Chasers (1973–74), Jabberjaw (1976–78), Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels (1977–80), among others.The New Scooby-Doo Movies
In 1972, new one-hour episodes under the title The New Scooby-Doo Movies were created; each episode featuring a real or fictitious guest star helping the gang solve mysteries, including characters from other Hanna-Barbera series such as Harlem Globetrotters, Josie and the Pussycats and Speed Buggy, the comic book characters Batman and Robin (later adapted into their own Hanna-Barbera series, Super Friends, a year later), and celebrities such as Sandy Duncan, The Addams Family, Cass Elliot, Phyllis Diller, Don Knotts and The Three Stooges. Hanna-Barbera musical director Hoyt Curtin composed a new theme song for this series, and Curtin’s theme would remain in use for much of Scooby-Doo’s original broadcast run. After two seasons and 24 episodes of the New Movies format from 1972 to 1974, CBS began airing reruns of the original Scooby-Doo, Where are You! series until its option on the series ran out in 1976.