There are several aspects of the Scooby-Doo franchise that I find confusing. Why Velma, who was friendly and confident in the first series, was later transformed into a cynical, deadpan nerd with self-esteem issues, I don’t understand. I don’t understand why Scooby and Shaggy have been reduced to supporting roles in so many of their own series, where they are at best unimportant to the plot and at worst actively detrimental to the gang. I don’t get why Scooby-Doo is a franchise at all; even with the rare real monster and design change, there are only so many times I’m willing to sit through the formula. In particular, I don’t understand why one tiny nephew named Scrappy Dappy Doo continues to be treated with such contempt.
Scrappy has been put through the wringer. At the conclusion of the 1980s, he was abruptly fired from the franchise and hasn’t been welcomed back since. Those few disparaging remarks about him that have recently been made on various programmes are rare. He was transformed into a psychotic villain in the disastrous live-action 2002 movie. He liked it when Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law made him appear in degrading cameos, frequently as a corpse. In the early 2000s, even Cartoon Network enjoyed one of their bumpers. Additionally, “the Scrappy” has gained popularity as a moniker for late additions that fans don’t like.
It goes without saying that, especially in the era of Twitter and YouTube comment sections, that kind of fury over a Saturday morning cartoon should always be taken with a huge shaker’s worth of salt. It’s a sure bet that there are more of these fervent anti-fans than there are of them. However, Scrappy has been shooting very frequently for the past 30 years, so there is some validity to the unfavourable fan reaction. Does he truly deserve this?
The only reason Scooby-Doo endured long enough to enter the era of contemporary media franchising is thanks to Scrappy, who some Scooby fans despise and accuse of ruining the franchise. After three seasons and a variety of gimmicks, such as celebrity cameos and the dimwitted cousin Scrappy-Dum, Scooby-Doo was past its prime in 1979. Even then, repeition was such a problem that ABC was considering cancelling. Hanna-Barbera found this to be intolerable and determined that Scooby-Doo required a new star character. Joe Barbera came up with the basic concept for a little nephew named Scrappy-Doo, Iwo Takamoto (likely) created a character design, and writer Mark Evanier created Scrappy’s personality using Henry Hawk from the Looney Tunes as a reference. How come Henry Hawk? As a result of the ABC executive who would decide Scooby’s destiny purportedly being smitten with the vintage Looney Tunes and approving cartoons based on their connections to the classics. The executive’s loyalty to the Looney Tunes was later called into question by Evanier, but he nevertheless followed Henry Hawk’s lead and penned the script for what amounted to an unofficial pilot for Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo. The series was picked up due to the quality of that script.
At the end of the day, it was the same old tale: eerie mysteries that were solved by a man wearing a mask. The only difference was that there was now a spoiled puppy who preferred to fight the criminals than run away from them or find the solution. Every new episode included Scrappy’s constant screams of “Let me at ’em!” and “puppy power!” (possibly an ad-lib from a rejected voice actor that Barbera took a like to), and the action centred more and more on the trio of Scooby, Shaggy, and Scrappy. They received so much attention that Fred, Daphne, and Velma were dropped after the second season. In some versions, Daphne would occasionally reappear, but for the majority of the 1980s, Scooby-Doo was a three-man squad.
Scrappy accomplished the task for which he was created; ABC didn’t cancel, and the show’s ratings rose. Even the authors (at least some of them) found the character enjoyable to deal with. But before he even made it to the air, Scrappy got into trouble. Finding the perfect voice required numerous recordings of the full episode, and after just one season, a money and personality conflict cost Scrappy his first performer (Don Messick, Scooby’s VA, ended up winning the part for the majority of Scrappy’s tenure). Evanier claimed that Standards and Practices thought the youngster was “too independent” and desired that he more closely resemble his uncle Scooby. In a conference, Evanier was able to successfully counter their requests, but Hanna-Barbera eventually gave in and had another writer dumb down Scrappy. And a subpar animation studio received the first batch of his programmes.
Evanier ultimately came to the conclusion that Scrappy wasn’t a long-term asset to the cast. He said that Scooby’s ability to talk clearly “tore the already-frail’reality'” apart. I doubt that was the problem. The idea that the two talking dogs have distinct speech patterns never occurred to me, and I’ve never heard a Scrappy hater bring it up, despite all the things I questioned about Scooby-Doo even as a young child. A more major revision to the formula—and one that some people considered repulsive—came with the fortuitous choice to include actual supernatural beings during the Scrappy years (a later effort would reduce the Skeptical Inquirer to tears). Additionally, the fact that three major cast members were let go while this new character debuted with equal credit on the title irked some fans (and helped to inspire Poochie on The Simpsons years later).
Scooby-Doo had five main characters when it was first imagined, and there were two different personalities for each of them. While Fred and Daphne lacked many distinguishing personality qualities, Velma developed a catchphrase and a running joke involving her glasses. When Daphne did return for a season or two, her absence from the show had not given her any personality, and the focus remained on Shaggy and the dogs in any event. Whatever else you may say about him, Scrappy definitely has a personality that could influence how a story develops. Which wasn’t always a good thing; after rewatching Scrappy-Doo and Scooby-Doo episodes for this post, I’m willing to admit that Scrappy is a grating little tyke who is aggressively inserted into every scene and has catchphrases that have been overused – in his first season.
However, Scrappy changed over time far more quickly than the initial cast. After one season and a cast change, he had significantly calmed down and was now more of an enthusiastic and wide-eyed young detective than a would-be fighter. His irrational, blind hero love of his uncle Scooby gave way to a more pragmatic—yet still warm—perception. His ability to change would increase as the cast shrank. Even though they were dull, Fred and Velma were able to piece together clues and solve problems. Together with Daphne, they also provided most of the essential exposition and inquiries. After they left, Scrappy was left to pick up the slack, thereby taking on the role of the franchise’s straight man while Shaggy and Scooby continued to be portrayed as comic characters. Scrappy was a younger, more energetic straight man who enjoyed the idea of ghosts and goblins.
This was especially clear during the Red Shirt Shaggy period. The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo marked the beginning of this era for the franchise. Scooby-Doo continued as a series of TV movies with Scooby, Scrappy, and a palette-swapped Shaggy mixed up in various paranormal situations after The 13 Ghosts finished its incredibly brief run. Daphne (and Flim Flam, a sidekick who was far more annoying than Scrappy ever was) were still along for the ride. Shaggy nearly had to play the straight man and detective more because he was the only human in the primary cast, and his red shirt appeared to give him a bit more sense of duty. But Scrappy was the one that followed the mysteries and monstrosities involved in any adventure the crew got themselves into, and by this stage, he did it without trying to “splat” anyone or incite “puppy power.”
These TV movies: how excellent were they? A stretched, meandering movie like Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers won’t win any Emmys because the 1980s weren’t exactly the most adored decade for Scooby-Doo or animated network television in general. But since Scooby-Doo is a property geared toward children, I was able to love Scrappy and the Red Shirt Shaggy era as much as I did any other Scooby series as a child. I don’t think Scrappy brought the brand to its knees, looking back as an adult. The production values of Hanna-TV Barbera’s animation were never great, and the writing—which was never exactly Pulitzer Prize-worthy—began to decline long before Scrappy appeared. If Scrappy was initially pushed too far and was a bit of a twerp, he eventually developed into a more likeable character and a more fascinating straight man than the alternative.
Eventually, Fred, Daphne, and Velma would return and remain. Shaggy and Scooby have frequently been given less-than-meaningful roles in more contemporary series and movies that have attempted to transplant characters onto them. These initiatives have occasionally been mildly successful, but compared to Scrappy’s ten-year tenure, he still seems to be the more reliable figure. He, Shaggy, and Scooby made up the core trio, which allowed them to more successfully serve as the genuine stars of what is meant to be their programme. Despite how uneven they were, the Red Shirt Shaggy period’s ghostly encounters had a feeling of experimentation that made them entertaining to watch and at least provided some respite from the generally endless “guy in mask” pattern. Therefore, Scrappy wasn’t that horrible after all. It might be worthwhile to give Scoob’s nephew his own reintroduction if the franchise is to continue, which all indications suggest it will, despite how perplexing I find it.
Being a binge-watcher himself, finding Content to write about comes naturally to Divesh. From Anime to Trending Netflix Series and Celebrity News, he covers every detail and always find the right sources for his research.