If you follow me on any social media, you know that I consider myself to be a connoisseur of Scooby-Doo. In anticipation for the Scoob! movie, I felt the need to bust out my Scooby-Doo DVD collection and rewatch all of them. In doing so, I realized most of the villains in Scooby-Doo share a common theme — they’re trying to keep someone out of their way or off of a piece of property, usually in the name of money. While I’m not saying the villains aren’t predictable, I do think that some of them rise above the others, whether it be for an elaborate scheme they were able to pull off, or a particularly intricate motive. I’ve listed them in no particular order, but have ranked them in their own separate categories.
Warning for possible spoilers ahead. (Do people tag spoilers from the 1960s?)
Most Theatrical Villain:
Stuart Wetherby (the Ghost of Elias Kingston) – Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? (1969)
Uncle Stuart’s story was a pretty basic one — old, fairly reserved relative, scheming to keep the family fortune for himself. What made him a good villain wasn’t his motive, but his execution: he was profoundly dramatic in his attempt to scare the family and our lovable gang of detectives away. Presumably cursed by the Wetherby family’s deceased neighbor, Stuart goes to great lengths to age himself using professional cosmetics to convince Mystery Inc. he has been turned into an old man by the neighbor’s ghost. The gang travels through a secret tunnel built inside a mausoleum on the dead neighbor’s property — presumably built by Stuart– and comes out on the other side in a local fortune teller’s shop. They discover Stuart is also using closed circuit television to project the “image” of the ghost of Elias Kingston– the neighbor who is believed to be haunting him– on to a crystal ball that’s even outfitted with a motor to send the ghost flying around the room. I’m willing to argue that Stuart wasted more money on this plan than he probably had to gain from the fortune. It raises the question, if you were rich enough to construct a plan this elaborate, would whatever you had to gain from a will matter?
Most Manipulative Villain:
Ben Ravencroft – Scooby-Doo and The Witch’s Ghost (1999)
It would be negligent of me to say that The Witch’s Ghost was the gangs’ first encounter with actual black magic, as Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island predated the film by a year. It certainly wasn’t the first time that Mystery Inc. had been outsmarted by a seemingly benevolent party either; Zombie Island did that as well. However, The Witch’s Ghost has perhaps the most elaborate con they’ve come across.
Ben Ravencroft was a horror author– that Velma just so happened to be in love with, because, of course she was– who paid off a museum guard duo to lure the gang to a faulty mystery. Unbeknownst to Mystery Inc., Ravencroft was actually planning on luring them to his hometown in Massachusetts, and using their detective skills to help him find a spell book belonging to his long-departed ancestor. Ravencroft even gave a pretty endearing sob story, saying that his ancestor was a Wiccan healer shunned by Puritan settlers because they feared the Wiccans, and that his goal was to find her “healing journal” and prove her innocence. On top of that, his hometown was capitalizing on his “ghostly ancestor” as a tourist attraction for their newly made Puritan village destination, leading the gang (and the viewer) to feel sorry that the Ravencroft name has been made a novelty. In actuality, his ancestor was the evil witch everyone believed her to be, and was imprisoned by Wiccans in her own demonic spell book. Ravencroft soon reveals himself to be a warlock out to rule the world. Obviously. Enter the first love of my life, Sally “Thorn” McKnight, who had wiccan blood, to save the day, trapping Ravencroft with his ancestor, Sarah, for all eternity. Bonus points for having Tim Curry as Ben Ravencroft.b
Scrappy-Doo – Scooby-Doo (2002)
Okay, hear me out. I know the first live-action film gets a lot of flack for this exact reason, but hear me out. If you’re unfamiliar with him, Scrappy is the tough, ready-for-anything nephew of Scooby, like his name would suggest. In the first live-action film, he’s shown to be traveling the country with a younger Mystery Inc. gang solving mysteries, but he has the unfortunate habit of “marking his territory” in the Mystery Machine. Particularly on Daphne. When he’s abandoned by the gang for this habit in the middle of the desert, he promises to enact revenge. Which he does, by stealing literal, real souls from tourists who visit the aptly named “Spooky Island.” The gang, following a break-up of sorts after they become fed up with Fred stealing the limelight when the local news crew shows up, are reunited to solve the mystery of what is happening to the Spooky Island tourists. When guests arrive on the island, they are reckless, happy college kids, only to leave the island as robot-like, cold-hearted, and unexplainably strong. This was a rather elaborate plot, and it’s never really explained how Scrappy was able to pull it off. He has a claw-machine like device he uses to harvest the protoplasmic souls of anyone he wishes, all while outfitted in a human robot suit of the park’s “owner” Emile Mondavarious. Using photosensitive monsters, he ultimately kidnaps his uncle Scooby to steal his soul. His actual soul. Because he got kicked out for peeing in the van.
Most Rookie Mistakes
Bill McLemore (the Phantom Virus) – Scooby-Doo and The Cyber Chase (2001)
I almost called this category “Stupidest Villain”, but Bill was really far from stupid. He was an intelligent, baseball-obsessed video game design student preparing for an upcoming science fair with his partner, Eric. Eric designed a video game centering around Mystery Inc. and the cases they solved, using a special beam that can send items from the real world into the video game. This attracted the attention of their professor, Professor Kaufman. In an act of jealousy, and in an effort to win the science fair for himself with his baseball-based video game, Bill creates a phantom computer virus that is brought into the real world and begins terrorizing the campus, even attacking Eric before Professor Kaufman uses a strong magnet to force the virus away. When the gang comes to see the game they have inspired, they are beamed into the game with the virus, and must survive the game, locate the Scooby Snax in each level, and beat the game. Bill’s downfall was leaving too many clues pointing to himself. In almost every level, there is some element of baseball. On one level, a baseball diamond can be found in a Roman colosseum, while in another the Phantom Virus uses baseball lingo. When the gang revealed this after they are freed from the game, all signs immediately pointed to Bill, who was promptly apprehended by campus security.
Best Twist Villain(s)
Jacques, Simone Lenoir, and Lena Dupree – Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998)
As we’ve learned, Mystery Inc. is prone to being outsmarted by presumably kind-hearted, well-intentioned people. They very rarely seek out these people; instead they are sought out. In Zombie Island, Daphne is an accomplished video journalist showing her viewers America’s most haunted destinations. Unfortunately, all of the destinations she and cameraman Fred visit are fake, which inspired one of my favorite songs in a Scooby-Doo film, and she is desperate for a real ghost. While they’re exploring New Orleans trying to seek out a real haunted house, they are overheard and approached by Lena Dupree, who works for a wealthy woman named Simone Lenoir on a haunted former pepper plantation on Moonscar Island. Desperate for a real story, Daphne jumps at the opportunity to interview Simone at her home. When they arrive, they are taunted by pirate zombies that presumably want them to leave the island. However, things quickly turn south when the gang discovers that the zombies were actually trying to warn them, as Lena, Simone, and ferry-driver Jacques are actually centuries-old werecats that rely on the souls of unsuspecting tourists to sustain their immortality. While Lena sneers at the idea of Daphne, Velma, Fred, and detective Beau Neville being rescued by Shaggy and Scooby, they outrun Jacques in his werecat form and are able to distract the werecats long enough that midnight passes on their feline sundial, and the werecats collapse into dust.