|First appearance||"What a Night for a Knight" (Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!; 1969)|
|Full name||Scoobert Doo|
Scooby-Doo is the eponymous character and protagonist of the animated television franchise, created in 1969 by the American animation company Hanna-Barbera. He is a male Great Dane and lifelong companion of amateur detective Shaggy Rogers, with whom he shares many personality traits. He features a mix of both canine and human behaviors (reminiscent of other talking animals in Hanna-Barbera's series), and is treated by his friends more or less as an equal. Scooby often speaks in a rhotacized way, substituting the first letters of many words with the letter 'r'. His catchphrase is "Scooby-Dooby-Doo!"
Writers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears created the original Scooby-Doo series, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! for Hanna-Barbera, as a part of CBS's 1969–1970 Saturday morning cartoon schedule. Originally titled Mysteries Five, the dog who later became Scooby was originally more of a sidekick character – a bongo-playing dog named "Too Much" whose breed varied between Great Dane and sheepdog between treatments.
By the time the series was pitched to the network as Who's S-S-Scared? in early 1969, Too Much was solidified as a cowardly Great Dane. Both the dog and the series would be renamed Scooby-Doo by Fred Silverman, CBS's head of daytime programming, between its unsuccessful first pitch and a second pitch, which earned the show a green light. Silverman stated that he came up with the name from the syllables "doo-be-doo-be-doo" in Frank Sinatra's hit song "Strangers in the Night", but the term "skooby-doo" had already been in use long before that as Cockney rhyming slang for the word "clue" (fitting with the show's mystery genre). A character in the 1953 TV film Swingin' Together is named Skooby-doo, and the name was featured in the title of the single "Feelin' So Good (S.K.O.O.B.Y.-D.O.O.)", released just a few months earlier in 1968 by The Archies, a fictional band from the CBS series The Archie Show that was overseen and intensively monitored by Silverman as CBS's head of children's programming.
Taking notes from a Hanna-Barbera colleague who was also a breeder of Great Danes, production designer Iwao Takamoto designed the Scooby-Doo character with a sloping chin, spots, a long tail, a sloped back, and bow legs – all traits in direct opposition to those of a prize-winning purebred Great Dane. In defining the personality of the dog, Ruby and Spears looked for inspiration to the characters played by Bob Hope in his horror-comedies – a coward who shows traits of bravery when his friends are in danger. Veteran Hanna-Barbera voice artist Don Messick was the original voice of Scooby and spent decades working on the character.
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! premiered on CBS on September 13, 1969, at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time. It ran for two seasons, with a total of 25 episodes. Its final first-run episode aired on October 31, 1970.
In most incarnations of the series, Scooby is regarded as a unique Great Dane dog who is able to speak in broken English, and usually puts the letter "R" in front of words and noises made. Other incarnations, such as A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, present him as a speech-impaired dog in the larger fictional universe as nobody in Coolsville seems bothered by his speaking ability. In recent years (most notably in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated), Scooby is able to speak in complete sentences and has more dialogue, though partially retaining his speech impediment. He consistently shows about the same level of intelligence as his friends, while also being subject to the same knack for clumsiness and moments of being dimwitted as well.
Different iterations of the character have been developed and expanded in the various series featuring the characters, many of them contradicting, such as the original series and the recent live-action films where Shaggy and Scooby first meet as older teenagers for the first time. This contradicts the animated series A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, where they know each other from almost infancy, though the films may be seen as having a different continuity altogether than the cartoon products. As an adult canine, Scooby is usually treated as a mix of a pet and a friend by his companions.
In all versions of the character, Scooby and Shaggy share several personality traits, mostly being cowardly and perpetually hungry. Yet their friends (Fred, Daphne, and Velma) encourage them to go after the costumed villains, usually with "Scooby Snacks". The biscuit-like dog treat or cookie snack is usually shaped like a bone or, in later versions of the cartoons, Scooby's dog tag. However, Scooby's inherent loyalty and courage do often force him to take a more heroic stance even without any prodding. Scooby is also extremely ticklish, and this is seen in many of the television series and films.
Scooby has a speech impediment and tends to pronounce most words as if they begin with an "R"; however, most characters are able to understand him almost perfectly. In most iterations, he keeps his sentences relatively short, usually using charades for anything longer than three or four words. His catchphrase, usually howled at the end of every production, is "Scooby-Dooby-Doo!" or "Rooby-Rooby-Roo". Scooby was voiced by Don Messick through Arabian Nights in 1994, after which point Messick quit smoking; quitting smoking changed his voice and prevented him from achieving the same raspy vocal effect (despite Messick's efforts, he suffered a career-ending stroke in 1996 and died in 1997, before any further Scooby-Doo productions were made). Messick is also known for providing the voice of the dogs Astro on The Jetsons and Muttley (who snickered). The characteristic speech impediments of Scooby and Astro are so similar that Astro's signature phrase, "Ruh-roh!", is popularly and improperly attributed to Scooby (as in "Ruh-roh, Raggy!"); of the two voices, Scooby's had a deeper and throatier timbre than Astro's.
According to Fred in Scooby-Doo: Behind the Scenes, the thought having a dog with an Adam's apple was a little strange, but they got used to it, so when he started talking, it wasn't a big deal. But despite his special gift of speech, he did have his shortcomings like his cowardice. But as Mystery Inc. bonded, he would form a special partnership with Shaggy, comparing themselves to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Shaggy says that things just clicked and whenever the gang needs bait for a villain, they would send Shaggy and Scooby in and he says there's no one else he would rather work with. Fred claims that the only thing that scares Scooby more than monsters is a trip to the vet.
Scooby is brown from head to toe with several distinctive black spots on his upper body and does not seem to have a melanistic mask. He is generally a quadruped but displays bipedal 'human' characteristics occasionally. Scooby also has opposable thumbs and can use his front paws like hands. He has a black nose and wears an off-yellow, diamond-shaped-tagged blue collar with an "SD" (his initials) and has four toes on each foot. Unlike other dogs, Scooby only has one pad on each of his paws (so that it was easier to draw in the Scooby-Doo Annuals).
Scooby has a fully prehensile tail he can use to swing from or press buttons. Both his head and tail are malleable and useful as a communication aid or creating a distraction.
Creator Iwao Takamoto later explained that before he designed the character, he first spoke to a Great Dane breeder, who described to him the desirable characteristics of a pedigree dog. Takamoto then drew Scooby as the opposite of this. He said "I decided to go the opposite [way] and gave him a hump back, bowed legs, small chin and such. Even his color is wrong."
According to the official magazine that accompanied the 2002 film, Scooby is seven years old.
Don Messick originated the character's speech patterns and provided Scooby-Doo's voice in every Scooby-Doo production from 1969 until his retirement in 1996. Voice actor Hadley Kay voiced the character for a brief period in 1997, for two episodes of Johnny Bravo, and a few television commercials. Scott Innes (also the then-voice of Shaggy) voiced Scooby-Doo in the 1998-2001 direct-to-video films and continued to voice the character regularly for video games (such as Scooby-Doo! Night of 100 Frights), toys and some commercials until 2008. Neil Fanning provided the voice of the computer-generated Scooby-Doo in the 2002 live-action film and its 2004 sequel. Frank Welker (also the voice of Fred since 1969) has voiced Scooby since 2002, taking over beginning with What's New, Scooby-Doo? and other spin-offs including the live-action prequels Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins and Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster. Dave Coulier and Seth Green have both voiced the character in Robot Chicken.
Voiced by in unofficial material and other languages:
Casey Kasem, the original voice actor for Shaggy Rogers, said that Scooby is "the star of the show—the Shaquille O'Neal of the show." Kasem explained, "People love animals more than they love people. Am I right or wrong? They give more love to their pets than they give to people. Scooby is vulnerable and lovable and not brave, and very much like the kids who watch. But like kids, he likes to think that he's brave."