While the new Scooby-Doo movie, Scoob!, updates the now 50-year-old kids series for the 2020s, it also pays homage to many of the franchise’s most famous clichés. Crusty old guys shake their fists at meddling kids. Scooby and Shaggy munch on Scooby Snacks. People yell “Zoinks!” And Mystery Inc. gets a hand from several guest stars, including other Hanna-Barbera heroes like Dynomutt and Blue Falcon, and even a real-life celebrity or two.
Scooby-Doo’s tradition of kooky guest stars is almost as old as the show itself; the show’s first revival after its initial run as Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! came in a series of “movies” (really just hour-long episodes) each with its own special guest. Some were famous TV stars and comedians; some were fictional detectives or cartoon characters. Some made perfect sense; some were downright strange.
With not only Scoob! available now, but a new Scooby-Doo series that’s revived the weekly guest star format, it’s the perfect time to honor some of the surprising faces who’ve taken a spin in the Mystery Machine, starting with...
The current Scooby-Doo series on Cartoon Network is called Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? In each episode, Mystery Incorporated teams up with a new guest star in a modern update on the old The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries. Like that series, the guests are a mix of real-life celebrities and famous fictional characters. Technically, Steve Urkel is the latter; in the 1990s he became a pop-culture phenomenon as one of the supporting players on the ABC sitcom Family Matters. He hasn’t done much since then, but he returned, in peak nerd form, on the first season of Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?, voiced by his original actor, Jaleel White. Let’s assume the case involved some stolen cheese.
The first guests on the first installment of The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries were the Three Stooges, the famed physical comedy troupe. The Stooges and the Scooby gang certainly share a similar sense of humor, but remember: This was 1972, decades after the Stooges’ peak and 20 years after Curly died following multiple strokes. Larry had a debilitating stroke of his own in 1970, and through the middle of the decade the group limped along in various configurations with replacements. The surviving Stooges didn’t even provide their own voices for Scooby-Doo.
The Ghost of Abraham Lincoln
Speaking of mysterious ghosts: The first season guests on Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? included the spirit of America’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. Very few people realize that the Gettysburg Address was actually about Lincoln remembering a really good sandwich he ate four score and seven years ago. I hope he had a good agent and got residuals as part of his deal, Scooby-Doo episodes air forever.
Scooby-Doo has made not one but two different direct-to-video movies starring the outlandish superstars of World Wrestling Entertainment. The first, 2014’s Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery, sees Scoob partnering with wrestlers like John Cena and the Miz. The second is even weirder — 2016’s Scooby-Doo! and WWE: Curse of the Speed Demon, which swaps out a wrestling setting for off-road racing with wrestlers. The guests include the Undertaker, a WWE character who’s also known as “The Deadman” and sometimes possess supernatural powers like the ability to resurrect himself from the dead. (No, really.) The Undertaker is one of the few modern wrestlers who takes care to maintain the illusion that he really is the guy he plays on television, which makes the clip below especially funny when he growls “Thank you, Scooby-Doo.”
Kids love Phyllis Diller. Everyone knows this. My daughters’ favorite toy? Their Phyllis Diller doll. They can’t put it down. So this just makes sense. I don’t even know why I put it on this list.
The Harlem Globetrotters were frequent Scooby-Doo guest stars all through the 1970s. And they made sense for Hanna-Barbera; they produced a Globetrotters cartoon series during that period. (Recycling existing characters surely cut down on animation costs.) Still: Why is a basketball team solving mysteries? Is the mystery how the Washington Generals stay in business even though they’ve never won a game?
Some musical acts I can sort of see with Scooby and Shaggy; Kiss got their own Scooby-Doo movie, and that outlandish pairing kind of works. But Sonny and Cher? Yes, they had their own variety show. But unless I missed the episode where Sonny and Cher solved crimes in their spare time, I don’t quite see the connection.
A lot of Scooby’s fictional guest stars make sense; Batman and Robin, at least in their 1970s animated form, were decent partners for Shaggy and Scooby’s antics. Sherlock Holmes, on the other hand, is a no-nonsense detective who lived like 100 years ago. But hey, he’s also in the public domain! Want some Scooby Snacks, Sherlock?
Sia and Scooby-Doo? Yes, Sia and Scooby-Doo.
I will confess I haven’t seen this entire episode, but after watching the clips I kind of want to. I hope the mystery involves the a spooky appearance by the actual, Biblical Judeo-Christian God, who Gervais refuses to believe is real.