Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated joins Sym-Bionic Titan as another hidden gem that could reach new audiences on Netflix. Airing in 2010, Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated differentiated itself from previous incarnations by adding self-aware humor, character development, high stakes, and a long-running mystery. It’s a series that made audiences rethink everything they thought they knew about Scooby-Doo.
The art direction by Dan Krall (Samurai Jack) and character designs by Derrick J. Wyatt (Teen Titans) captures the painterly charm of the original series while also adding an edge to the new show. With a stylized new Scooby-Doo movie from the same creative team coming out this year, it’s the perfect time to revisit this underrated masterpiece.
If you’re still not convinced, here are some highlights and spoilers to illustrate why this series is awesome. I honestly can’t believe they got away with some of this stuff.
Scooby has an evil foil in the form of a super-intelligent bird called Professor Pericles. First appearing in “Howl of the Fright Hound,” this character is modeled after Hannibal Lecter and doesn’t shy away from murder.
The Scooby-Gang is not the original Mystery Incorporated. There were several previous gangs from previous generations including an evil version and a steampunk version.
The series pushes the envelope with sex and drug innuendos. In the episode titled “Night Terrors,” the entire gang gets high on hallucinogens and swaps lovers. In “The Gathering Gloom,” Velma solves the episode’s mystery in five seconds and the rest of the gang chills with an attractive Swedish Woman and her two daughters. Yep, this actually happens.
Velma is bisexual and probably a high-functioning psychopath. From the start of the series, Velma is having a secret romance with Shaggy. However, as the series progresses, Velma develops a relationship with Marcy, a former antagonist. Velma is shown to be capable of solving mysteries by herself and even goes on solo missions. Velma may not need the gang to solve mysteries, but it’s shown that she needs the gang to stay sane.
***Super Spoiler Warning***
The main antagonist of Mystery Inc. is an elder god who’s been driving people insane for hundreds of years. In the series finale, “Come Undone” this elder god devours Scooby’s entire hometown. The rich cast of supporting characters are killed one by one.
The Scooby-Gang manages to pull together and defeat the monster, but this comes at a price. The Scooby-Gang destroyed the source of all the mysteries in their hometown; therefore our characters have no purpose.
Our heroes drive the Mystery Machine into the sunset vowing to solve every mystery they encounter on their road trip. Then a “laugh track” is played for the first time in this new cartoon. This suggests the entire original Scooby series, about teenagers aimlessly driving from town to town, took place in purgatory.
There are many cartoons that have pushed the envelope in terms of depth of character and darkness of subject matter. None have gone so far and been as much fun as Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated.