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How Scooby-Doo Ruined Freddie Prinze Jr.'s Acting Career

Long before he played Fred Jones or tried to sell you Cascade dish detergent, Freddie Prinze Jr. was America's teenage heartthrob. The success of teen films like "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and "She's All That" had made him one of the most popular up-and-coming actors of the 1990s, especially for young girls. According to The New Zealand Herald, however, his time in the teen limelight was not destined to last.

While "She's All That" set up Prinze with a little star power, the fame had a short shelf life. Prinze's other ventures in teen rom-coms like "Summer Catch" just didn't resonate with audiences the same way. So, in 2002, Prinze, along with his wife and "I Know What You Did Last Summer" co-star, Sarah Michelle Gellar, took on a different genre. The two accepted roles in the live-action adaptation of "Scooby-Doo." Soon after, Prinze would disappear from the public eye almost entirely — in no small part due to the fact that "Scooby-Doo" and its sequel, "Monsters Unleashed," were complete and utter failures. In a way, they were so bad that they ruined Prinze's acting career.

It's no mystery why Scooby-Doo marked a downturn in Prinze's career

Credit where it's due, the live-action "Scooby-Doo" films starring Prinze, Gellar, and the current voice of cartoon Shaggy, Matthew Lillard, do have some nostalgic value. Plenty of kids grew up watching this absurd, almost-raunchy take on Mystery Inc.'s adulthood adventures and came away with positive memories. The first film even did well in the box office, making $275 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo).

The real problem is that critics switched to heavy-duty cast iron when they panned the film shortly after release. To this day, "Scooby-Doo" only has a 30% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Evidently, the poor opinion that critics had on the film was shared by fans because "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed" didn't perform nearly as well as its predecessor in the box office. Furthermore, it has an even lower Rotten Tomatoes rating than the first film.

Since then, Prinze has appeared in almost no other film roles (via IMDb). Though he is quite active in the realms of television, video games, and innuendo-laced detergent advertising, he has practically abandoned films. But that's okay, because Prinze has always prioritized other parts of his personal life.

Even without acting Prinze has his plate full

For someone who was once one of the biggest names in mainstream movies, Freddie Prinze Jr. has remained surprisingly down to earth when it comes to his family. Since he married fellow actress Sarah Michelle Gellar over 20 years ago, Prinze has always centered his priorities on those he loves. In an interview with E!, Prinze said he "became a full-time father" when the couple's first child (who was seven at the time) was born.

Even before then, the actor kept himself busy with other non-acting endeavors. According to GQ, the actor spent time writing plotlines and directing promos for World Wrestling Entertainment during the late 2000s. A lifelong wrestling fan, Prinze used his knowledge of the sport and his show business expertise to his advantage.

As a father and homebody, however, Prinze has continued to show off his talents. He has even become a cookbook author. In 2016, he released a collection of 75 recipes called "Back in the Kitchen." Since then, Prinze has kept one foot in show business, appearing in the occasional TV show or lending his voice to a popular video game or animated show. Still, barring a small appearance in "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," he's mostly stayed away from films since his days as a member of Mystery Inc.