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Things That Happen In Every Scooby-Doo Movie

Of all the children's cartoons that have made the successful transition between Saturday morning cartoons and feature films, there's no doubt that "Scooby-Doo" reigns king. The talking Great Dane and his mystery-solving teenage companions may be best known for traveling the country — and the world — in search of ghosts, monsters, and other dastardly villains, but it's clear that Scooby-Doo's greatest legacy lies in the character's longevity. First appearing in "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?" in 1969, Scooby and the gang have become trademarks that are recognizable all across the globe. Who wouldn't love a talking dog, anyhow?

With nearly 50 different films, there are a few tropes that make a "Scooby-Doo" movie, uh, well, a "Scooby-Doo" movie. Ranging from characters and gags to monsters and mysteries, it's these formulaic comforts that keep us coming back as this mystery comedy horror series continues to entertain after more than five decades. While we all love the classic "Scooby-Doo" shows, the direct-to-video movies like "Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island" and "Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost," and the two James Gunn-written theatrical live-action films have become more popular over the years and are no doubt responsible for contributing to the childhood of many new, younger "Scooby" fans.

If you love "Scooby-Doo," and you're excited for the next direct-to-video installment, than [Scooby] snack on these familiar things that happen in every "Scooby" feature!

The gang stumbles on a mystery

This one is critical to any good "Scooby-Doo" story and is the reason why some "Scooby" productions — such as "Shaggy & Scooby-Doo! Get A Clue" — weren't as well received as their predecessors. "Scooby-Doo" is first and foremost a comedy mystery series, and after all these years we've come to expect a thrilling conundrum every time we reunite with the Mystery Incorporated gang. Over the past five decades, each new "Scooby" mystery has challenged our heroes' perceptions of reality, and the very best ones do so with a sometimes-simple, sometimes-complex mystery that makes us wonder who is behind the spooky Halloween mask.

Without a mystery to solve, "Scooby-Doo" falls apart. Whether Shaggy, Scooby, Daphne, Velma, and Fred stumble upon their latest case accidentally, intentionally seek it out, or are conscripted — either knowingly or unknowingly — into the investigation, there's always excitement to be had whenever they're on the case. Sometimes, they even participate in a musical! While these mysteries can range from small-town crime to international (and intergalactic) conspiracies, the world is always safer when the Mystery Inc. gang are together, unmasking all the villains in their wake. Well, at least those that they can unmask.

Monsters unleashed

Speaking of unmasking criminals, possibly the most iconic trademarks of the various "Scooby-Doo" movies are the monsters the gang attempt to unmask and declaw. Though many of them aren't wearing anything more exciting than a glorified Halloween costume, some of Scooby and the gang's most classic foes are actually pretty scary. Ranging from zombies and ghosts to vampires and extra-terrestrial forces, the Mystery Inc. crew has had their fair share of close encounters — and while the vast majority of these monsters aren't really monsters at all, sometimes these movies throw in a big supernatural twist that makes the world of "Scooby-Doo" just a little bigger. Looking at you "Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island!"

Without these villain's interference, the Mystery Inc. gang wouldn't have much to do, as their speciality is hunting not-so-real monsters. Although most "Scooby" movies feature new monsters to add to their ever-growing rogue's gallery, there are occasional moments where old monsters reappear to terrorize the mystery solving sleuths. In "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed" — the sequel to the 2002 live-action film — the costumes from most notable "Scooby-Doo" villains from the original Saturday morning archives are put on display to chronicle the gang's achievements. But, after a series of mad scientific experiments, these costumes are brought to life to haunt the gang once more. Sounds pretty spooky to us!

Alright gang, let's split up

One of the most famous phrases muttered in all of the "Scooby-Doo" canon is usually spoken by the gang's fearless leader Fred Jones when he says, "Alright gang, let's split up." Usually, this means that Shaggy and Scooby are sent one way, and Fred, Daphne, and Velma investigate the other. Often this leads to comedy capers and hijinks that get Shaggy and Scooby in heaps of trouble — and with a monster on their tail — before they regroup with their friends and come up with a plan to catch and unmask their latest ghoulish terror. In hindsight, it doesn't seem like too great of a plan given that Shaggy and Scooby are afraid of everything, but they still manage to mess with the monsters in their own funny way.

Of course, there are plenty of hints throughout the canon as to why Fred always pairs himself up with Daphne, which are later expanded on in the live-action films and "Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated," but the real reason may be that he's sick of Scooby and Shaggy's shenanigans. Unfortunately, poor Velma is sometimes shuffled between Shaggy and Scooby and the gang's unofficial couple, but she always makes the most of it and manages to be the brains behind solving the latest mystery anyway. Thankfully, by the end, Mystery Inc. always comes back together — but splitting up is certainly a huge part of the process!

An epic chase sequence

No "Scooby-Doo" mystery is complete without a long, drawn-out chase sequence in which the gang sprint away from whatever monster is chasing them. These pursuits are usually accompanied by a catchy musical beat, multiple hallway doors, and some laugh-out-loud gags that end in the gang springing their trap and finally catching the monster — and probably Scooby along with him. While every episode of insert-your-favorite-"Scooby"-series-here has their own chase during the episode's climax, most "Scooby-Doo" movies are fortunate enough to have more than one, which gives us plenty of action-packed material to treasure.

No matter if they're teenagers or adults, fighting fake monsters or real ones, or in a haunted house or amusement park, chase sequences are to be expected in any "Scooby-Doo" medium, with Shaggy and Scooby often leading the charge. In many of the "Scooby" films, the gang's trademark Mystery Machine even gets in on the action, most notably in movies like "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed" and "Scooby-Doo! and the Loch Ness Monster" that feature monsters that are larger than life. Thankfully, Scooby and the gang have some pretty reliable wheels — especially in a pinch!

Someone gets a new, one-time love interest

Dating within friend groups can be a bit challenging, especially when they're your only friends and you do just about everything with them. In the world of "Scooby-Doo," most of the feature films introduce new love interest characters to spice up the romance and (occasionally) make other members of the gang jealous — namely Fred or Daphne when the other is receiving romantic attention. This means that it's usually Velma, Shaggy, or Scooby who are getting busy with a member of the opposite sex, even if it's only for a few days and never meant to last much longer than that.

While most of the one-time love interests are a bit forgettable and don't ever reappear post their initial emergence, there are a few that are more memorable than others, including Crystal and her dog Amber from "Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders." Wannabe-hippies hitchhiking their way through the desert, Crystal and Amber work hard to take photos of a secret military installation before Shaggy and Scooby immediately fall in love with them. Unfortunately for the boys, these two turned out to be aliens themselves — albeit, good ones — who are only there by mistake and wish to get back home to the stars, leaving Shaggy and Scooby heartbroken upon their exit. But hey, what did they expect, they don't live anywhere near the same ZIP code!

Shaggy and Scooby get the munchies

Speaking of love interests, Shaggy and Scooby's biggest love affair is with food — of all kinds. Don't let Shaggy fool you with his thin waistline, he and his pal Scooby are always hungry, and they'll let you know it! In fact, these two will gorge themselves on any snack or meal in front of them without hardly a care in the world, even if they're being pursued by a cursed creature on their tail. This is exactly why Daphne and Velma keep a stash of "Scooby Snacks" at arm's length, because if not for their trademark dog treats, they'd be hearing all about the boy's hunger throughout their adventures. The animated films "Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost" and "Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase" both play this bit up masterfully.

Many fans have speculated over the years that Shaggy and Scooby are always hungry due to their dependence on recreational marijuana, and while that's never been confirmed, there are strong hints in the James Gunn penned "Scooby-Doo" movie that Shaggy and Scooby are enjoying more than food in their van. Plus, Shaggy's one-time love-interest in the 2002 feature is literally named Mary Jane, which just so happens to be the Shaggster's favorite name. Even the Adult Swim series "Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law" played on this theory in the episode "Shaggy Busted," but we'll leave that one for you to watch (and determine) on your own.

Velma essentially solves the mystery

There's no denying that Velma Dinkley is the smart one of the group. Sure, each member of Mystery Inc. has something to offer, and each of them are intelligent enough to solve a mystery on their own — at least we hope so — but Velma has always been a bit more committed to her studies. Whether it's her knowledge of science or the occult, or the fact that she's basically a walking encyclopedia, Velma always comes through and proves crucial to discovering the hidden identity and motive behind the latest monster mystery. No doubt, Velma's the smart one for a reason, and the gang wouldn't be the same without her.

Velma may be a genius, but even geniuses can fail. She's not always the smartest apple in the bunch, or the most pure, given that, in a few different "Scooby-Doo" mysteries, Velma is actually revealed to be the villain. This happens a few different times for a variety of reasons — and forces Shaggy, Scooby, Daphne, and Fred to solve these mysteries without her — but thankfully it doesn't ever last. We'd say 99% of the time, Velma is right there in the trenches with her fellow mystery solvers, bringing their latest "monster" from the shadows and into the light.

Mystery Inc. doesn't age

While this is a problem for most cartoon characters, rarely do other cartoons ever consistently age backward. At some point in the "Scooby-Doo" chronology, the Mystery Inc. gang graduated from high school and began working their own full-time jobs, often going their separate ways for a time. Both the 2002 live-action film and the late 1990s "Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island" begin with this exact premise before our heroes come back together for a new mystery. Yet, in later animated films, such as "Scooby-Doo! and the Curse of the 13th Ghost" and "Scooby-Doo! Return to Zombie Island," the gang have been "deaged" back to teenagers nearing their senior year of high school.

Not every "Scooby" production does this. Most of the television cartoons stick to their own canon — namely "Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated" — and explain their timeline over the course of the show. The direct-to-video animated movies, however, fail to do this, and instead keep us guessing as to what age and what phase of life the Mystery Inc. gang are in. Reboots like "Scoob!" also play around with our heroes' ages, making them somewhat indiscernible. Though, with all of the age shifting they've been through, and for cartoon characters that have been around since 1969, we'd say that Scooby and the gang aren't looking too bad!

A new setting in every movie

While some "Scooby" shows like "Mystery Incorporated" and "A Pup Named Scooby-Doo" take place in the same geographical location, namely Crystal Cove or Coolsville, respectively, not all "Scooby-Doo" stories happen in the same space. In fact, some of the best "Scooby" tales occur all across the globe, with "Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island" set on the small Moonscar Island, while "Scooby-Doo & KISS: Rock and Roll Mystery" moves from a haunted amusement park to an interdimensional cosmic world inspired by comic book artist Jack Kirby. With so many different stories to tell and mysteries to solve, the Mystery Inc. gang is rarely in the same place twice, though it does happen on special occasion.

What's fun about many of these new towns, countries, or out-of-this-world experiences is that each of them have their own aesthetic. Oakhaven, from "Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost," has a vast history that extends back to the Salem Witch Trials, creating precedent for the Witch that would haunt the small New England town. Likewise, the gang's journey into cyberspace, which led them through various time periods and cases of their own, was a completely different experience than any other location — because it was completely artificial. It just goes to show that with "Scooby-Doo," all things are possible!

Oddball red herrings and twisty villains

Every "Scooby-Doo" mystery has to have its own red herring — a character specifically designed to take pressure off the actual villain — and oftentimes they're some of the most interesting characters. From the wiccan rock band the Hex Girls to Officer Wembley to Seth Green's Patrick Wisely from "Scooby-Doo 2," there are plenty of strange and interesting characters who pop in and out of the "Scooby" canon to take our eyes off the monstrous prize. Of course, like all red herrings, it's eventually revealed that these suspects are actually innocent, and they eventually aid Mystery Inc. in solving the case and bringing the latest monster to justice.

But with every red herring, there is a secret villain out there ready to share their evil plan once the gang finally catches them. Of course, in some of the earlier "Scooby-Doo" animated movies — as well as the 2002 live-action film — the true villains turn out to be characters we would never have expected, with powers and abilities we didn't know they had. These M. Night Shyamalan-level twists (at least as far as cartoons are concerned) really threw "Scooby" fans for a loop! Even after all this time, the "Scooby" gang still manages to surprise, always keeping us on our tippy-toes.

Natural or Supernatural?

Although Scooby and the gang primarily investigate mysteries shrouded in the paranormal, the vast majority of their adversaries aren't supernatural beings at all. Usually, the latest ghost or ghoul they're chasing actually ends up being some loser in a Halloween mask with absolutely no real ties to otherworldly powers. This is a huge part of "Scooby-Doo's" decades-long charm as the show consistently takes the time to remind us that things aren't always what they seem. With all the special effects expertise these villains somehow possess, it doesn't really make much sense that they've turned to a life of crime rather than the arts. But hey, that's showbiz!

On the other hand, not every "Scooby-Doo" story involves some creep in a mask. Actually, some of the very best "Scooby" features contain real paranormal creatures who raise the stakes higher than any average Halloween-masked villain could. From the zombies and werecats from "Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island" to the living Phantom Virus from "Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase," the franchise always has a compelling take on their supernatural foils. This tension between the natural and the supernatural is part of what makes "Scooby-Doo" so exciting — go watch the "Supernatural" crossover — trust us, the investigation of the unknown is generally more compelling than your average "Nancy Drew" mystery novel.

You meddling kids!

Speaking of masks, just about every "Scooby-Doo" feature ends with the unmasking of the movie's villain and the revelation that it was just some average human behind the supposed supernatural terrors. Even when supernatural powers are involved, there's usually still a twist involving the disclosure of the real villain (behind-the-scenes) who kickstarted the paranormal events! In these moments, the gang all stands around with their tied up opponent, and Velma explains the villain's master plan before he or she goes on to say, "And I would've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids and your dumb dog!" It's kind of their thing.

The "meddling kids" line has become a trademark of the "Scooby-Doo" legacy, and one the gang all wear with pride. Though their enemies tend to underestimate them, Mystery Inc. always outsmarts their opponents at every turn — even when Shaggy and Scooby inevitably mess up Fred's plan. If there's anything you could say about the "Scooby-Doo" gang, it's that they're devoted to mystery-solving, no matter how hard, dangerous, or complicated the case tends to be. If you're looking for some fun, heartfelt mysteries, then look no further than the "Scooby-Doo" movies! Whether theatrical or direct-to-video, live-action or animated, they'll make you smile, laugh, and wish you had your very own talking dog!