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Western Animation / Scooby-Doo Direct-to-Video Film Series

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The first four direct-to-video films.

"Mystery, Inc. is back in business!"

Scooby-Doo has been around since 1969. It has obviously had lots of TV series, movies, and even some video games. This sub-page focuses on the single largest chunk of it (at least by number of titles): the Direct to Video film series.

By 1998, the venerable franchise had become moribund: although multiple incarnations of the TV series were airing in syndication (as they had for decades), nothing new had been made since Arabian Nights in 1994. The output of Hanna-Barbera at the time had been highly reduced under Turner, and most of the funding was going to the shows Cartoon Network Studios was making within the larger company. Similarly to what was created with Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures, the time was right to tap into a new era for the studio's best-selling property, in collaboration with Warner Bros. Animation, whom eventually absorbed Hanna-Barbera (and Cartoon Network Studios branched off as their own unit). The first fruit of this was Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (though that project had its genesis as an unmade episode of SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron). This movie kick-started a complete revival of the franchise over the next several years – three animated TV series, two live-action theatrical films, two live-action TV-movies, and at least one new DTV cartoon per year each year since 1998 (it averages out to about one every nine months).

Cartoon Network is owed some gratitude for helping air a lot of these upon their first arrival, especially with the first few installments of this series.note 

As of late, there have been thirty-four entries in this series, spread across four style development eras.

For the Lego movies, see Scooby-Doo Direct-to-Video LEGO Film Series. See also SCOOB!, which was originally intended for theaters (and thus is not part of this series) but instead released on digital platforms due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Here are all the Direct to Video films:

The films overall commonly provide examples of the following tropes:

  • Animated Credits Opening: The newer films seem to be going on this direction. While all the films are animated, the opening credits usually include cases the gang is working prior to the events of the movie, and consist of much cheaper and trippy animation with musical accompaniment.
  • Art Evolution: The animation has changed three times (four eras in total), recently it has been at its most stylized.
  • Batman Cold Open: From Abracadabra-Doo! on, it has become common for the films to begin with the gang unmasking a monster and solving another mystery.
  • Big Budget Beef-Up: Compared to the original shows produced by Hanna-Barbera.
  • The Cameo: Dynomutt and the Blue Falcon, Frankenstein Jr., Space Ghost, the Herculoids, and Claude Pertwee (from H-B's 1970 show Where's Huddles?) all make appearances in the 2013 movie Scooby Doo: Mask Of The Blue Falcon.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: Already known for this prior to the DTV series, where almost every entry follows the formula.
  • Cowardly Lion: Scooby and Shaggy, in comparison to being more one-dimensional cowards in the original series, are more competent and well developed in this series.
  • Darker and Edgier: Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island is definitely the darkest Scooby-Doo movie so far. Witch's Ghost and Alien Invaders followed suit before Cyber Chase went back to a more lighthearted mood. It wasn't until 2010 when Camp Scare brought back this trope.
  • Demoted to Extra: Shaggy and Scooby in the 2004-2006 movies (which spend more time focusing on Fred, Daphne and Velma), and Fred, Daphne and Velma in the 2007-2009 movies (where the focus is largely shifted towards Shaggy and Scooby).
  • The Ditz: Fred, in the 2004-2009 movies, keeping in line with how he was with What's New, Scooby-Doo?
  • Fanservice: Ever since Abracadabra-Doo and beyond, they've done this more and more with Daphne and, to a lesser degree, Velma. Plus, one-movie characters. Best examples in Camp Scare where Daphne and Velma have a scene in bikinis that also features Jessica, a really curvy girl that Fred takes note of.
  • Hero of Another Story: KISS is this to Mystery Inc. in their team up. The reason why the Gang hasn't met up with them before is because their mysteries are more "cosmic" in nature.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: The Hex Girls and the Phantom Virus debut in the second and fourth movies but enjoy quite a bit of fan recognition, with the Hex Girls becoming seemingly recurring guest stars on a semi-regular basis.
  • Invisible Parents: The '10's movies indicate that the Gang are still high school students, but their parents are never seen or brought up, save for Velma getting a call from her mother in Abracadabra Doo! and a silhouette cameo of Velma's parents in the opening sequence of Frankencreepy. Presumably, this is to keep their connection to the other Scooby-Doo entries ambiguous so to not keep viewers hung up on those details. Velma's parents are the only ones implied to be Angie and Dale from Mystery Incorporated, since they're Velma's only parents (A Pup Named Scooby-Doo introduced Velma's parents, but they were essentially One Shot Characters that were created exclusively for that series).
  • Knight of Cerebus: The earliest two films had some:
    • The first had Simone Lenoir, Lena Dupree, and Jacques in Zombie Island. They are the first villains in the Scooby-Doo franchise to be outright figuratively and literally monstrous, having committed murder countless times before and tried to kill Mystery Inc. (and nearly killed Scooby and Shaggy to the point Shaggy "was going to feel like a raisin") and an undercover police officer to preserve their immortality as well as suffering Family Unfriendly Deaths when the harvest moon became no longer in alignment.
    • The second has Ben and Sarah Ravencroft in The Witch's Ghost. Ben is a devious and dangerous warlock. However, the threat posed by him is eclipsed by that of his more genocidal ancestor after she is released from her prison.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Scooby and Shaggy do get several moments to themselves when put into real danger and up their game from their usual cowardice of running for their very lives.
  • Long Runner: The series of Direct-to-Video films alone have been going on for almost twenty-two years, and is still going today. It's pretty much guaranteed that there will be at least one new installment per year, sometimes more, with only 2002 going without a DTV film (the first live-action film came out in theaters instead).
  • Loose Canon:
    • For most of the series existence the series operated on the loose continuity standards applied by Hanna-Barbera of continuity when you want it, none when you don't. The first four movies operated on an idea that that in Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island Mystery Inc had disbanded at some point and come back together. As the series rolled on this aspect was slowly ignored with the gang still being Vague Age teenagers with events of the past being retconned when necessary.
    • In the post Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated there was deliberate teasing of toying with references to that series which was a standalone Alternate Continuity. Some movies in this series even served as counterpoints to Mystery Incorporated's writing. References to the series were not off limits despite this, as several plot points in movies would have contradicted MI's storylines.
    • Come the 2019 movies, this became a hot button issue with movies serving as sequels to The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo and Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island with easy retcons to anything from either that contradicted the status quo of today. Only for this to flip the exact opposite direction with the next two movies which actually treated Mystery Incorporated and Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! as equally referencable as past events. Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo! is set in Crystal Cove from MI but also features references to A Pup Named Scooby-Doo where the gang grew up in Coolsville.
    • Fred's house in Beach Beastie looks exactly the same as it did in Mystery Incorporated. Shaggy and Scooby also complain that it's full of traps that they keep accidentally setting off, which was also an issue back in Mystery Incorporated.
  • Mythology Gag: The series, while having many different kinds of adventures, has been pulling much deeper out of the well as of late than ever before. Some movies even become throwbacks to a specific older series like The New Scooby-Doo Movies or gags of Hanna-Barbera like characters being a fictional tv show in one episode only to crossover for real later.
    • In the opening sequence to Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy, when we see Velma's family tree, the silhouettes of her parents resemble their Mystery Incorporated incarnations.
  • Reconstruction: The most recent films, especially when compared to Mystery Incorporated's totally reworked and self-defying approach — the plots mix played straight Scooby mysteries (though they also play with them in some of their films) with witty writing, lots of lampshades (even as they unashamedly use the tropes in question) and crazy occurrences that sometimes derail but always loop back into the plot. They come off as Scooby mysteries re-imagined with a sometimes more modern comic and sometimes darker and edger approach and willing to do a lot more with the characters, and help modernized the franchise and pull of the job a bit better than What's New did.
  • Romantic False Lead: There have been a few: Ben to Velma in The Witch's Ghost, Jessica to Fred in Camp Scare, Winsor to Velma in Legend of the Phantosaur, and Bram to Daphne in Music of the Vampire.
  • Rule of Fun: In Frankencreepy, a Take That, Audience! joke is made towards a character who nitpicks at the minor errors throughout the movie. The obvious message is that you shouldn't take all of this too seriously and have fun.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: For obvious reasons as well as a major recurring feature throughout the series.
  • Shared Universe: The 10s-era movies establish one with Batman: The Brave and the Bold, a Broad Strokes version of Young Justice (2010), Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, Space Ghost, Frankenstein Jr., Mighty Mightor, The Herculoids, and possibly more. Yeah. And we may have to add more to that list if these movies are a sequel to Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated.
  • Status Quo Is God: Some movies will have Shaggy or Velma getting a new love interest or building up towards Fred and Daphne having a Relationship Upgrade. However, none of this ever leads to long-lasting changes because by the next movie, Shaggy and Velma will go back to being single again while Fred and Daphne will be back at square one, with the gang going after the latest mystery in their van. Time will tell if Velma being explicitly established as a lesbian in Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo! will last into the future.
  • Take That, Audience!: The 2010-era movies have made numerous references to Mystery Incorporated, a few being pokey towards fans that take continuity seriously (i.e. the fans that want the 2010-era movies to be in the same continuity as Mystery Incorporated and/or look down on the 2010-era movies for being Reconstruction/Lighter and Softer instead of taking after the Darker and Edgier/Cerebus Syndrome tone of Mystery Incorporated). In the same vein, however, the movies are lightheartedly reminding viewers to loosen up because Scooby-Doo has ultimately always been Rule of Fun. This may be a mix of Trolling Creator, as some of the staff on these movies are returning staff members (namely Brandt and Cervone, who helped produce Mystery Incorporated and have had many more hands on roles in the Scooby-Doo and Tom and Jerry direct-to-video series).
  • Took a Level in Badass: Scooby-Doo in Where’s My Mummy? is a notable example of screwing up the usual "Scooby-Doo" Hoax, where Velma is the one staging the thing to scare away treasure thieves from the tomb. Scooby and Shaggy also assume this role in movies such as Scooby-Doo! and the Goblin King, Scooby-Doo! and the Samurai Sword, and Big Top Scooby-Doo!. However, the most notable example is from Scooby-Doo! Legend of the Phantosaur, where Shaggy performs the most impossibly amazing feats that nobody would ever think possible of him.
  • Turn of the Millennium: The earlier films took place in this time period, and interestingly this seems to be the time when the Scooby-Doo franchise seemed most dormant.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Given Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island and Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost are Darker and Edgier in contrast to the usual light-heartedly comedic nature of the overall franchise, this is expected due to the villains being Ax-Crazy and real supernatural threats in contrast to the previous Malevolent Masked Men with petty and non-homicidal criminal motives. Zombie Island has Simone, Lena and Jacques, while Witch's Ghost has Ben and Sarah Ravencroft, the latter of which is much more vile than the former. Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy took this even farther when old villains from the past return with revenge murder on their agenda. Furthermore, the villain of Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness is willing to resort to murder after being exposed.