‘Zoinks!’: 15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Scooby-Doo’
Since 1969, a cartoon dog and a gang with a Mystery Van has been an iconic part of pop culture, from spin-off shows to disturbing fan art to inspiring Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So grab those Scooby Snacks, jump on board the hippie wagon, and learn about the creation of the juggernaut that is Scooby-Doo and which installment almost starred Mike Myers…
How Scooby Was Designed
Production designer Iwao Takamoto took notes from his Hanna-Barbera colleague, who happened to be an expert on Great Danes. “The Great Dane was supposed to be the biggest dog around, and there was a woman (at the studio) who actually bred and reared Great Danes,” Takamoto revealed on The Scooby-Doo Dynomutt Hour DVD featurette. “So, she came over and spent a solid hour describing all of the positive things that make a prize-winning Great Dane. And I selected about five things, I think, and went in the opposite direction. For instance, ’a good, strong, straight back,’ so I sloped his back. ‘A strong chin,’ so I under-swung his chin… and I think ‘straight hind legs,’ she mentioned. So I bowed them.”
The Designer of Scooby-Doo Spent Time in a U.S. Concentration Camp
Takamoto was born in the United States and excelled at school. However, his education was interrupted after Pearl Harbor, as his entire family was forced into the Manzanar concentration camp — one of 10 that held Japanese Americans until the end of World War II. “When I was in the camp,” Takamoto once shared, “I had met two men who had art directed for film studios. Just for the fun of it, I would sketch things around the camp, and they both encouraged me to possibly consider it as a profession. Remembering this, I called Disney Studios.”
Mike Myers Was Almost Shaggy in the 2002 Live-Action Movie
Scooby-Doo was written by James Gunn and starred the actor who’d become the longtime voice of Shaggy, Matthew Lillard. But at one point, Wayne’s World comedian Myers was up to co-write and star in the movie as Scoob’s BFF.
There’s an R-Rated Cut of the Live-Action Movie
In 2017, Gunn confirmed the rumor that Scooby-Doo has an R-rated cut. “The first cut was rated R by the MPAA, and the female stars’ cleavage was CGI’d away so as not to offend,” Gunn revealed on his Facebook page. “But, you know, such is life. I had a lot of fun making this movie, regardless of all that. And I was also able to eat, buy a car, and a house because of it.”
Gunn also shared some favorite memories from the Australian shoot: “Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar had rented an enormous, mostly-unfurnished house out on the ocean. The cast, a few members of the crew, and I had massive games of Nerf gun tag throughout the house, trying to kill each other for hours. Truly some of the most fun I ever had. I also remember sitting in Lillard’s apartment late at night playing the game Celebrity with a group of celebrities. I was still pretty new to Los Angeles, and the whole thing was a bit surreal. Oh, and I also remember doing a karaoke video in the touristy section of Surfer’s Paradise with me and Linda Cardellini and Isla Fisher, line dancing with weird hats and props to, I think, ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ or something. I know I have that video — I think blackmailing Linda and Isla might be a good anniversary gift to myself. On second thought, they could probably use it to blackmail me.”
Frank Sinatra to the Rescue
Scooby-Doo started off as a haunted house show titled Mysteries Five and later Who’s S-S-Scared? with a dog thrown in as a side character. But its lack of comedy and the high number of scares had the network worried it wouldn’t land with the young crowd. On a red-eye flight, Fred Silverman, CBS’ head of daytime programming, got the idea of having the dog be the star and funniest character. “I’m listening to music,” he explained, “and as we’re landing, Frank Sinatra comes on (‘Strangers in the Night’), and I hear him say, ‘Scooby-dooby-doo.’” Silverman instantly knew they had the name for their dog: “That’s it, we’ll take the dog — we’ll call it Scooby-Doo.”
This breakthrough also led to Fred Jones being named in honor of Silverman.
Named What Now?
Scooby-Doo’s first concept involved a bunch of teenagers in a band with a dog called “Too Much.” Too Much the Dog was a bongo player who traveled with the band and solved a variety of comical mysteries on the road.
‘ My Glasses! I Can’t See Without My Glasses!’
Velma’s recurring bit came from a real-life incident. During a table read for the first episode, Nicole Jaffe, who voiced Velma, actually lost her glasses and uttered the now iconic catchphrase. It cracked up the staff, leading to them writing it into the show.
Carl Sagan Praised the Show
The late astronomer and planetary scientist wrote in his book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science As A Candle in the Dark, that an adult version of Scooby-Doo would be closer to the so-called paranormal experience than what The X-Files ever gave us.
Or, as he so eloquently put it: “A series called The X-Files, which pays lip service to skeptical examination of the paranormal, is skewed heavily toward the reality of alien abductions, strange powers and government complicity in covering up just about everything interesting. Almost never does the paranormal claim turn out to be a hoax or a psychological aberration or a misunderstanding of the natural world. Much closer to reality, as well as a much greater public service, would be an adult series (Scooby-Doo does it for children) in which paranormal claims are systematically investigated and every case is found to be explicable in prosaic terms. The dramatic tension would be in uncovering how misapprehension and hoax could generate apparently genuine paranormal phenomena. Perhaps one of the investigators would always be disappointed, hoping that next time an unambiguously paranormal case will survive skeptical scrutiny.”
The Voice of Many a Cartoon Dog
Voice artist Donald Earle Messick was Hanna-Barbera’s go-to guy for voicing cartoon pets. Not only was he the OG voice of Scooby, but also Astro in The Jetsons, Muttley from Wacky Races and tons of others.
Too Much TV Violence
Scooby-Doo originated from a public outcry against violence on television at the time. Silverman said that the network was getting complaints about aggressive and violent CBS cartoons, including Superman and Space Ghost.
The OG Creators Deny the Drug Rumors
Rumors about Shaggy being a stoner and the gang with a hippie van having psychedelic parties have run rampant since the show began. However, series creators Joe Ruby and Ken Spears have vehemently denied that they had any intentional references to such shenanigans. In an interview with radio host Stu Shostak, the two said they “took umbrage” at the 2002 live-action movie’s jokes about Shaggy being into hotboxing and loving the name Mary Jane.
That Time Cartoon Network Used ‘Scooby-Doo’ to Spoof ’The Blair Witch Project’
In 1999, following the hyped release of the iconic found footage film, Cartoon Network produced a full-on spoof that mixed animation with live-action and saw the Scooby Gang enter the haunted Casper County Woods. You can watch the complete compilation below.
Shaggy Quit Thanks to Burger King
Casey Kasem — Shaggy’s voice for almost three decades — quit the character after being asked to do a Burger King ad in 1995. A vegan and animal rights activist, part of his frustrations came from failing to convince producers to have Shaggy become a vegan. The producers finally agreed to make the burger-loving maybe-stoner a vegetarian in 2002, which led to Kasem returning to the role.
A Love Letter to Hanna-Barbera
Tony Cervone, the director of the 2020 animated feature film Scoob!, said that his movie about Scooby and the gang in a Hanna-Barbera multiverse was a love letter to the original studio that created the franchise. “There’s a lot of Easter eggs in the movie,” Cervone said in an interview. “My favorite is the Takamoto bowl. The shout-out to Iwao is important, Ruby-Spears and Hanna-Barbera and Karlson’s names. There are no mistake names. The original cast’s names have been used throughout the movie. It is not just a shout-out as a property; it’s a shout-out to the people who made these cartoons. And we miss them.”
The Abbott and Costello Influence
“I had always thought that kids in a haunted house would be a big hit,” Silverman once explained to Emmy TV Legends. “As a kid, I would go and look at Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and movies like that… And our Abbott and Costello will be Scooby-Doo and Shaggy.”