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The Origins of Scooby-Doo

VO: Rebecca Brayton
This series was created by the American animation company Hanna-Barbera, and was introduced to generations of children on September 8th, 1969 as “Scooby-Doo, Where are you!” Prior to its debut, the show was pitched as a humorless and scary cartoon series filled with terrifying haunted houses and monsters. What is even more surprising is that the star canine was presented as a mere supporting character. Of course, this concept came to be reworked. As a result, it became one of the longest running animated series of all time, containing a unique mix of mystery, adventure, horror and comedy. Join WatchMojo.com as we explore the origins of Scooby-Doo.
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The Origins of Scooby-Doo

This mystery series stars a group of adventure-seeking teens and a talking dog! Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be taking a look at the origins of Scooby-Doo.

This series was created by the American animation company Hanna-Barbera, and was introduced to generations of children on September 8th, 1969 as “Scooby-Doo, Where are you!”

Prior to its debut, the show was pitched as a humorless and scary cartoon series filled with terrifying haunted houses and monsters. What is even more surprising is that the star canine was presented as a mere supporting character. Of course, this concept was deemed too frightening for young children. Under pressure from parent-run media watchdogs, it was re-worked by the head of the CBS children’s television division.

The revised show placed a greater focus on the dog companion, who starred as an easily frightened and always hungry Great Dane called Scoobert, or Scooby for short. This name originated from the famous Frank Sinatra album “Strangers in the Night,” and more specifically, from the musical phrase “doo-be-doo-be-do.”

Scooby’s voice characteristics were developed and performed by voice actor Don Messick from the very first episode until his retirement in 1996. He made Scooby famous for his use of broken English, and for starting words with the letter “R.”

Scooby was a major success due to his comedic personality, and became an animated icon around the world. His brown-colored body with black spots, opposable thumbs, dexterous tail, ability to run on two legs, diamond-shaped gold tag, and simple blue collar all made him recognizable. Scooby was also dramatically different from his real-world breed, as he had a humped back, curved legs and a small chin.

Of course, Scooby didn’t go out on adventures alone. He was accompanied by a team of teenagers. These included the confident, ascot-wearing leader Fred, the accident-prone Daphne, bookish Velma, and the snack loving slacker named Shaggy.

Together, they formed Mystery Inc. and embarked on countless journeys to seek out adventure in their Chevy van, dubbed “The Mystery Machine.”

While visiting ghost towns, abandoned amusement parks and other paranormal sites, they sought out the truth surrounding various mysteries. Predictably, the monsters always turned out to be greedy humans in disguise.

By the late ‘70s, Scooby-Doo and his team starred in countless specials and made-for-TV movies, and even teamed-up with the likes of Batman and Robin.

Though they occasionally met several of Scooby’s relatives, 1979 marked a major shift for the series. That was the year the show introduces Scooby’s young nephew Scrappy-Doo, who was a fearless young pup with a catchphrase.

Soon after, this character and his ability to get into trouble became the series’ central focus. The show then temporarily retired many of the other characters, and caused the series to re-emerge as “The Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show.”

Thankfully, the team eventually re-assembled without the little pup in 1988, for the prequel series “A Pup Named Scooby-Doo.”

In the years that followed, the original gang appeared in more direct-to-video films, several live-action movie adaptations, as well as a new string of shows which included “What’s New Scooby Doo?” and “Shaggy & Scooby Get a Clue!”

Scooby-Doo is one of the longest running animated series of all time. It has endeared itself to countless fans over the decades with its unique mix of adventure, horror and comedy.
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