"This is a warning to all living mortals, that whosoever opens this Chest of Demons will release 13 of the most powerful ghosts upon the face of the Earth!"
The 1985 incarnation of the Scooby-Doo
franchise and final incarnation of the original Scooby-Doo franchise. The first also to introduce a story arc, though it was never finished due to its cancellation.
It begins when Scooby, Shaggy, Daphne and Scrappy end up in Tibet by plane crash, and Scooby and Shaggy are tricked into opening the Chest of Demons, a chest containing 13 powerful, terrifying ghosts each bent on world domination. Fated to return the malevolent spirits to the chest, the team is guided by mysterious mystic Vincent Van Ghoul, played by Vincent Price
, who exasperatingly helps our heroes catch them all before it's too late
This show uses the globetrotting Scooby-Shaggy-Daphne-Scrappy format of the late 1970s/early 1980s shows, though it is the last show to do so, also adding a new member of the gang in the form of Flim-Flam, a child con artist who runs into the gang and joins up with them. It was also one of the first shows to substantially feature real
ghosts, as opposed to guys in masks and the self-referential parody, pop-culture references, and fourth wall breaking that would go on to characterize A Pup Named Scooby-Doo
(this is the result of Tom Ruegger, who produced the latter, being associate producer on this one).
This series provides examples of:
- An Arc: The first Scooby-Doo show to have an overarching plot, and the last one until Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated.
- Artifact of Doom: The Chest of Demons
- Bad Future: The episode "It's a Wonderful Scoob." Without Scooby around, the world falls to the ghosts, Daphne is a broken slave to the Time-Slime ghost, Scrappy and Flim-Flam have become his loyal servants, and Shaggy is a lone rebel that has gone crazy, adamantly believing that Scooby will return and save them.
- Big Bad Wannabe: Bogel and Weerd so desperately want to be one of the 13 ghosts.
- The Bermuda Triangle: One episode takes place here.
- Break the Cutie: The Bad Future above has Daphne being Driven to Madness and doing a Face-Heel Turn.
- Charm Person: Nicara
- Chekhov's Gun: Flim-Flam was selling a concoction known as "Lots of Luck Joy Juice" when we first see him. One of the ingredients was Wolfsbane, and a splash of it was enough to cure the werewolf villagers that put the gang into a corner.
- In another episode, a vendor hands Daphne a magic amulet written in gibberish. It turns out that when Daphne gets sucked into the mirror world, she learns that it's a magic spell. Moreover, the vendor was actually Vincent Van Ghoul in disguise!
- Circus of Fear: "The Ghouliest Show On Earth" has this, complete with Mind Control.
- Cool Old Guy: Vincent Van Ghoul
- The Comically Serious: Vincent Van Ghoul, as played by Vincent Price, who loved these kinds of roles (when he wasn't playing a villain, of course).
- Cousin Oliver: Flim-Flam was added as a result of focus testing. Tom Ruegger, the associate producer who would later handle A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, admitted that he hated Flim-Flam in an interview in which he stated that he'd even learned to love Scrappy.
- Cross-Dressing Voices: Susan Blu as Flim-Flam
- Cut Short: Scooby-Doo and his friends never did catch all 13 ghosts. Technically, only 11 ghosts were shown being caught at all - and no ghosts were captured in the pilot.
- This is debatable, as there was an episode or two where they could have conceivably caught others. The last episode did seem to be written with End of Series Awareness.
- Also, outside of episodes, they might have caught one of the 13 ghosts back into the chest.
- Cynical Mentor: Vincent Van Ghoul
- Dark Is Not Evil: The shadow that the gang chase after in "Me and My Shadow Demon" is actually harmless.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: Several of the 13 Ghosts went after the Scooby gang directly with their worst tricks rather than wait around to be captured. It could count as Genre Blind, too, considering whose show this actually is.
- The Danza/Ink-Suit Actor: Vincent Van Ghoul, after Vincent Price.
- Deadpan Snarker: Vincent Van Ghoul.
- Distressed Damsel: Scooby, Daphne, Flim-Flam and even Vincent Van Ghoul ended up in this role a few times.
- Evil Laugh: Vincent Van Ghoul has a pretty impressive one, despite being an ally to Scooby-Doo's gang, due to being played by Vincent Price.
- Five-Man Band: The gang, for the first time in a while, though they share roles occasionally.
- Follow the Leader: The show followed on the coattails of Ghostbusters, and it shows. Also a case of such things not always being bad.
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: Unfortunately they never did get all 13.
- Heroic BSOD: In "It's a Wonderful Scoob," after a mishap with Time Slime's scepter shows him all the horrors he's faced in his life, Scooby becomes so traumatized that he goes into a 10-Minute Retirement. Vincent shows him a Bad Future to help snap him out of it, though.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Fred Jones never appeared, but that didn't mean Frank Welker wasn't still doing voice work here and there.
- Vincent Price as Vincent Van Ghoul
- Let's not forget Howard Morris (aka Wade the Duck of U.S. Acres) was one-shot character Platypus Duck. Also Bogel in every episode.
- Weerd was Laugh-In regular Arte Johnson.
- Holding the Floor: One of the ghosts was weak to sunlight, so the gang needed to delay the ghost until daybreak, which Van Ghoul calls a filibuster.
- MacGuffin: The eponymous 13 Ghosts.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The series starts with Scooby and Shaggy tricked into opening the Chest of Demons. As Vincent Van Ghoul states in the opening as to why they have to do this, "Because you let them out!!!"
- No Ending: There are 13 ghosts and 13 episodes. But the first episode was just Scooby and Shaggy accidentally letting them loose, and another episode didn't end with a captured ghost. So the show ended with just two ghosts left, and no conclusion.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Down to the last ghost. While they are all referred to as ghosts, the series goes back and forth on whether they're actual demons or something else entirely. A couple of them even seem more like rival magic users to Van Ghoul rather than actual spirits.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: The first episode has a town of werewolves who hide their true selves from outsiders, only to attack and transform them at night, acting more like a secret cult than the general idea of a werewolf.
- Put on a Bus: Fred Jones and Velma Dinkley, at least until What's New, Scooby-Doo?.
- Sealed Cast in a Multipack: Scooby-Doo opens up a box and unleashes thirteen malicious ghosts onto the world, and must get them all back.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The 13 ghosts. The whole show revolves upon getting them back into the can.
- Self-Referential Humor: One of the first times the franchise started using it. Though, of course, the next show after kicked it up a notch.
- Something Completely Different: The Scooby gang actually battles genuine supernatural creatures rather than people in costumes this time around.
- The Only One: Vincent Van Ghoul makes it clear from the beginning that Scooby and Shaggy are the only ones who can recapture the 13 Ghosts because they were the ones who set them free in the first place.
- Thirteen Is Unlucky
- Those Two Bad Guys: Bogel and Weerd, a pair of bumbling ghost minions who bounce their services from demon to demon, but consistently mess up.
- Town with a Dark Secret: The town of werewolves in the first episode, who coincidentally have nothing to do with the Chest of Demons.
- Well, the mayor does state that it was their ancestors who first trapped the ghosts, which is why the ghosts cursed the townspeople with lycanthropy.