If I wasn’t clear enough a few weeks ago, let me state it again: cartoons are weird. They live in their own worlds where the physical laws of nature do not apply. But that’s why we love them. The Flintstones wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if it authentically depicted the difficulties of using an elephant as a shower, and if the physics in Loony Tunes were even the least bit realistic, those cartoons would contain more blood and gore than the Saw movies and the Spanish Inquisition combined. But sometimes, even in context, cartoons just make you wonder about their strange little worlds and especially the characters that inhabit them.
Which brings us to today’s topic: Scooby Doo. As is the case with most great cartoons, if you start asking questions about how the Scooby Doo universe works, all you’ll find are more questions. I know I’d just be stating the obvious if I said that Scooby Doo makes no sense, but there’s more to Scooby Doo than meets the eye. There isn’t an episode of Scooby Doo I’ve watched that doesn’t make me wonder about the thought processes of some of the characters.
We could talk at length about the Scooby Doo gang themselves and their bizarre issues—why Shaggy and Scooby are willing to put their lives on the line for dog food, why the characters always run using the same repetitive body movements, or why they never seem to stop and wonder whether, just maybe, the monster could be a guy in a costume just like the last twenty-seven monsters they’ve encountered—but the Scooby Doo universe is home to a much more interesting group of psychotics: the villains. Say what you will about Yogi Bear or the “I Love to Singa” owl from that one Warner Brothers cartoon, but the Scooby Doo villains are, without a doubt, the most bizarre group of cartoon characters around.
Scooby Doo villains generally want to accomplish something fairly simple like smuggling diamonds out of the mountains or obtaining ownership of a hotel to access the precious oil beneath it. But how does every Scooby Doo villain they plan to accomplish their goal? By dressing up in a slightly-above average Halloween costume and running around yelling at random people. Remember, it’s not like they’ve already tried to commit their crimes using more traditional methods. Dressing up in a rubber hunchback costume was Plan A. I really wish we got to see the moments these plans were conceived. I always imagine the villain sitting in his dingy, dimly-lit basement and saying something like, “Okay, Jimmy. We’re going to smuggle these diamonds through the underground caves in the mountains, but we have to keep tourists away from the ski resort so they don’t expose our operation. So I’m going to dress up like a giant ghost lobster.”
But the real question is this: what will these people do with their lives after the cartoon’s over? Sure, they’ll have to spend some time in prison because of those meddling kids, but they’ll eventually be released. None of them are committing really serious crimes; no one in Scooby Doo dies or gets seriously injured. Eventually, these people are going to be back on the outside, trying desperately to fit back into normal society. However, for these scarred individuals, that’s never going to happen. It doesn’t matter how hard a former Scooby Doo villain works to turn his life around. He’ll never shake off the stigma of having dressed up in a rubber monster suit and yelled at passers-by. I mean, how will they ever find a job? “Alright, Mr. Stevenson, let’s have a look at your resume. I see you got your Master’s from Columbia University, spent a few years working for the Harrington Law Firm, and…dressed up as a ghost pirate and chased innocent hikers away from an old mining town in order to perpetrate a real estate scheme. Uh…we’ll be in touch.”
Those meddling kids don’t just solve mysteries. They strip away their nemesis’ dignity and stain their futures. Still, being a former Scooby Doo villain wouldn’t be all bad. I guess it would be kind of cool to tell your grandkids that you spent a summer as the Phantom Walrus of Crystal Cove.