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Western Animation / The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo

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Only you can return the demons to the Chest... because you let them out!
"This is a warning to all living mortals, that whosoever opens this Chest of Demons will release 13 of the most terrifying 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).


A 2019 direct-to-video movie follow-up, Scooby-Doo! and the Curse of the 13th Ghost, will feature the whole gang helping Van Ghoul take on the last of the ghosts.

This series provides examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: While his name in the show is never mentioned, the mirror demon's name is Reflector Specter. Which is hilariously used to identify him on the dvd subtitles. Somebody did their homework there.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Chest of Demons, which holds thirteen of the most terrifying ghosts on Earth.
  • 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.
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  • Beware the Silly Ones / Not-So-Harmless Villain: Bogel and Weerd are usually seen as incompetent ghosts who constantly mess up the schemes of the 13 ghosts, but in the pilot, they did successfully trick Shaggy and Scooby to release them in the first place. Even Vincent Van Ghoul seemed to view them as a formidable threat.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Bogel and Weerd so desperately want to join 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.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Nekara's kiss does this to Victor Voudini
  • Charm Person: Nekara
  • 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 "Reflections in a Ghoulish Eye", 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.
  • Credits Gag: In the episode “That’s Monstertainment”, Zomba's movie has a custom Hanna-Barbara logo which resembles the MGM logo with Scooby-Doo in it. Scooby-Doo creators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera had started out as animators at MGM Studios.
    • The logo is also customized: it reads "Ranna-Rarrera" (Hanna-Barbera in Scooby's dialect) and has the logo read "limitus animatus" (which is Latin for "limited animation", which Hanna-Barbera was famous for).
  • Cut Short: Scooby-Doo and his friends never did catch all 13 ghosts. Only 11 of them were shown being caught at all - and no ghosts were captured in the pilot.
  • Cynical Mentor: Vincent Van Ghoul
  • Damsel in Distress / Dude In Distress: Scooby, Daphne, Flim-Flam and even Vincent Van Ghoul ended up in this role a few times.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The shadow that the gang pursue in "Me and My Shadow Demon" is actually harmless.
  • Darker and Edgier: Hilariously played straight and mercilessly averted in the same show. Several of the villains in this show are among the most threatening enemies Scooby has ever been pitted against. Among them a dark sorcerer who can put people to sleep for centuries, a soul stealing circus master and a Saturday Morning version of a succubus. At the same time because the show doesn't take itself seriously the show is goofier than a usual Scooby Doo show. This is played for laughs that many of the ghosts are often annoyed by the other characters' humor.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Vincent Van Ghoul.
  • Depending on the Writer: The first piece on this trope is obviously on the use of the terms "ghosts" and "demons" for the antagonists. They are practically used interchangeable even though some of which don't even seem to properly fit either.
    • There is also the question of can other demons free the other ones who had been retrapped. In "Ship of Ghouls" the chest being in the Bermuda Triangle will automatically force it open. In "That's Monstertainment" Zomba claims she will free her fellow spirits but never gets the chance. In "It's A Wonderful Scoob", Time Slime says he can do it in his Lair of Lost Time and according to the Bad Future he succeeds. However in "Horror-Scope Scoob" Simbooloo claims to do it as well also during the time of the Winter Solstice where allegedly "all the power in the universe will be his". When he does only three minor ghosts presumed captured before the episode get out. Even then he is defeated fairly easily for someone who thought he had all the power in the universe. It's not clear if the Chest of Demons really has any kind of specific power or if being in places with a Timey-Wimey Ball like the Bermuda Triangle or The Lair of Lost Time seem to change the rules.
  • 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.
  • Expy: Ghoulio, who sings "To All the Ghouls I've Loved Before", is one for Julio Iglesias.
  • Five-Man Band: The gang, for the first time in a while, though they share roles occasionally.
  • Ghost Ship: The Queen Myrtle from episode "Ship of Ghouls", a cruise ship destroyed by the Bermuda Triangle (along with everyone on board) 50 years ago is disguised as its luxurious self until the ghost captain and passengers attack the gang, after which it reverts to its current form, a floating wreck.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: Unfortunately, the heroes 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.
  • 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.
  • I Have Many Names: A rare example of a building. In "Me and My Shadow Demon" the place they go to investigate it at different times called "Befuddled Manor" or "Befuddled Castle" or "Befuddled Hall". Given that it's gimmick is it is a maze that gets people confused, it becomes a Lampshade Hanging that people even get confused about the name.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Vincent Van Ghoul, after Vincent Price.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Even before they met Scooby and the gang, Flim Flam and Vincent Van Ghoul were on good terms with each other.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: The main focus of "It's a Wonderful Scoob." After a mishap with Time Slime's scepter shows him all the horrors he's endured in his life, Scooby is badly traumatized and quits the gang, refusing to come back. When the rest of the gang is captured by Time Slime, Vincent takes Scooby to the future to show him the Bad Future that will ensue if Time Slime wins.
  • The Jinx: Marsella seems to be this. First she's trapped in the chest of demons, then she gets trapped inside a zone, and in order to be freed, what kind of help does she get? Expy witch version of The Three Stooges.
  • Knight of Cerebus: A majority of the 13 ghosts, if not all of them, are portrayed more seriously than the other characters, and don't play any games either. Not too many of them seem to partake in the fourth wall humor the show has to offer either.
  • Loophole Abuse: The sleep of the century curse can apparently only be broken by the kiss of a "great Danish prince". Turns out a Great Dane dog is close enough to work.
  • MacGuffin: The eponymous 13 Ghosts.
  • Magic Kiss: This is Nekara's power. On Friday the 13th she can put any warlock into a trance of love, but whomever she kisses she steals all his power, and by the looks of Victor Voudini, it's permanent.
  • Monster Protection Racket: The gang enter Befuddled Hall as exterminators, when Scrappy asks Flim Flam how does he know they have pests there Flim Flim brings out a container letting several rats right into the building.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The series starts with Scooby and Shaggy tricked into opening the Chest of Demons, and therefore releasing the demons. As Vincent Van Ghoul states in the opening narration as to why they have to be the ones to return the ghosts to the Chest: "Because you let them out!!!"
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Most of the visible "ghosts" take this to a whole new. It's not entirely clear if we are meant to take ghost literally or just a catchall. This is complicated even more that the chest that contained them is called the "Chest of Demons" instead of chest of ghosts. In fact the only genuine, classical ghosts in there were the sunken ship ghosts. The others all have a mix match of attributes on top of possibly being ghosts. Some like Maldor the Malevolent and Nekara are the Evil Sorceror or Enchantress up to eleven. Marsella is a witch of general sorts. As for the more direct explanations:
    • Zomba, perhaps the most striking example, is the ghost of a zombie (or… something like that), although not mindless at all, who also has hypnotizing powers and the ability to trap people inside TV shows. (As an aside note, exactly how and when she learned she could do that is unknown, since she was sealed in the Chest long before movies were created.)
    • Queen Morbidia is a sort of Elvira-like vampire who rules over monsters. Like Zomba, how being the ghost of a vampire works is left to our imaginaton.
    • Time Slime by looks appears to be the ghost of some kind of skeleton-like demon who is also something of a mechanical genius and time traveler (his end goal is described by Van Ghoul as turning the world into a "mechanical wasteland").
    • Demondo is the ghost of a big sort of normal bulky demon who has "cosmic ink" that apparently can bring whatever is printed/drawn with it to life. Much like Zomba, he was no doubt was very happy to have discovered comic strips when he escaped…
    • Rankor is at the crossing of a ghost, a Big Red Devil and a vampire. He can, additionally, possess various physical objects.
    • Professor Phantazmo is the ghost of an Evil Ring Leader who has various supernatural beings as minions. He uses bewtiched calliope music to disguise his appearance into that of a living man, but his true form is that of probably what he would look like if he were still alive but looked his real age.
    • Reflector Specter is the ghost of an Eldritch Abomination from beyond the mirror.
    • Simbooloo described himself as the ghost of a "lion demon", though he only looks very broadly lion-like. Scrappy calling him out as a "lying demon" is actually more accurate since by the looks of it his powers are shape shifting, teleporting and ordering other people to do work for him.
  • 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 (or at least, not one that was explicitly confirmed to be one of the 13 demons). So the show ended with just two ghosts left, and no conclusion...
  • 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.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Down to the last ghost. While they are all referred to as ghosts, most of them are not the ghosts of something that was human in the first place (we have ghost witches, ghost vampires, ghost demons, a ghost Eldritch Abomination, and — however that works — the ghost of a zombie), and in those cases they retain the abilities they had in life (or unlife or whatever).
  • 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.
  • Please Wake Up: Maldor can use his magic to put people into a sleep for centuries which he does to both the Princess Esmerelda and Daphne. When the others find Daphne they try their best to wake her up and at first it doesn't look like anything will work until they discover a Loophole Abuse.
  • Put on a Bus: Fred Jones and Velma Dinkley, at least until A Pup Named Scooby-Doo.
  • Sanity Slippage: Shaggy most of all in the Bad Future, as Vincent Van Ghoul said, "I'm afraid he's gone bananas," which then Shaggy pulls out actual bananas from his shirt.
  • Sealed Cast in a Multipack: Scooby-Doo opens up a box and unleashes 13 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.
  • Story Arc: The first Scooby-Doo show to have an overarching plot, and the last one until Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated.
  • Take a Third Option: Bogel and Weerd use a villainous version of this in the pilot. they stage a game show for Shaggy and Scooby where they have to choose between Scooby Snacks, fuel for their crashed pilot, and a box. Shaggy wants fuel, Scooby wants the food, they settle for the box... which turns out to be the Chest of Demons.
  • 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.
  • To the Tune of...: In the episode where the gang is sucked into the Sunday funnies, Platypus Duck's theme song uses the theme from The Great Grape Ape
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The town of werewolves in the first episode; Their ancestors were the ones who trapped the Thirteen Ghosts into the Chest of Demons, so the ghosts cursed the townspeople with lycanthropy.

Alternative Title(s): The Thirteen Ghosts Of Scooby Doo