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In Memory of Joe Ruby: My Life With Scooby-Doo

On August 26th, 2020, the world lost Joe Ruby, the co-creator of one of the biggest, most well-known shows of all time: Scooby-Doo. He was 87 when he passed away from old age. While his life may have ended, the legacy that he left behind will remain as an eternal part of our lives. Even if you’ve never watched any of the shows/seasons (or even the movies), you’ve at least heard of it and the numerous pieces of merchandise available worldwide. In honor of Joe Ruby’s passing and the world he helped create, I will be sharing with you, the readers, my experience with Scooby-Doo and how much it impacted my life.

The earliest memories I have with Scooby-Doo was when I saw Scooby-Doo On Zombie Island and Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?. While I didn’t have cable at my house, there was a relative of mine or a friend of the family that we would visit that had access to cable. I even remember some of the after school latchkey programs (that I attended when I was little) that had cable, and Scooby-Doo was one of the many shows airing during my time there. After watching some of the shows, two of the live-action movies, and Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, I would check out any other animated movies from the library. I might’ve not seen all of them, but I’ve enjoyed each one that I watched. Each one had its own interesting synopsis and plot twist, not to mention the monster that was the main focus of each movie.

Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (Video 1998) - IMDb
Photo from imdb.com

As I grew older, I didn’t watch Scooby-Doo as often as I would want to. I would mainly focus on other series and my studies. However, the memories and my enjoyment of the series never faded. It wasn’t until years later, that I found my copy of Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island on VHS and watched it again. To my surprise, the movie’s animation, story, and even voice acting still holds up. Out of the many Scooby-Doo animated movies, Zombie Island is the one that will always remain on the top 10 list of my favorite movies. Looking back, most of my exposure to Scooby-Doo was through the many animated movies. I remember, back when the library had VHS tapes, I would check out any Scooby-Doo movies that I would discover. I must’ve watched Scooby-Doo and The Loch Ness Monster at least a dozen times when I checked it out. As far as I can remember, the only animated Scooby-Doo movies I’ve ever watched was Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, Scooby-Doo! and the Witch’s Ghost, Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders, Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase, Scooby-Doo! and the Loch Ness Monster, Scooby-Doo! Meets the Boo Brothers, Scooby-Doo! and the Ghoul School, and Scooby-Doo! and the Reluctant Werewolf. Back then, I had no idea that there were so many animated movies for the franchise, which blew my mind when I got older. At the time, I naively thought there were only a handful of animated movies for Scooby-Doo. I had no idea that (at the time of this article’s publication) there are 38 animated films with the 39th coming out this October. I had to lean back in my chair when I found out about this. I wouldn’t say that I think it’s excessive, I’m just surprised that they made this many. The ideas for each case are definitely worth being made into a movie (otherwise we would have a five-part arc for each said case) and while the synopsis for a few seemed a bit out there, I enjoyed the ones I’ve seen so far.

While I didn’t have very many good memories of the first live-action Scooby-Doo! movie, Monsters Unleashed definitely left a better and stronger lasting impression on me. The whole idea of the gang facing real versions of monsters they’ve unmasked in the past just felt perfect. It also brought me back to what they went through when they were on Zombie Island. Sure, there may have been moments that seemed almost over the top with its cheesiness, I feel like that was the point. It’s a live-action adaptation of a cartoon, so of course the main villain and certain scenarios are going to give off that vibe. Even having Scooby brought to life through CGI was necessary, I mean, look at how he moves about in the show, it makes the movie all the more perfect. It also brings up the question of what happens to the criminals after they served their time in prison. Honestly, it brought up a number scenarios that I never thought about when I was growing up. While I never researched the previous roles of the main actors and actresses (I was only a child at the time), I feel like they did an amazing job bringing the gang to life. All-in-all, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleased is the live-action Scooby-Doo! movie to watch.

Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004) - IMDb
Photo from imdb.com

With the current events that we’re going through (the ongoing pandemic), I was able to visit some of other shows that were available. At the moment, I was able to watch some episodes from Scooby-Doo! Where Are You?, What’s New Scooby Doo?, and Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. It was fun to see the difference in not just the animation, but how the main characters are written and what mysteries they’ll solve. The monsters were both terrifying and intriguing in both their design and the lore that surrounded them. From what I’ve seen so far, Mystery Incorporated definitely has an all-around focus on the characters, the story, and the mysteries. Everything is connected in some shape or form, which definitely keeps the viewers engaged. Even with all of that, there’s still plenty of classic Scooby-Doo humor sprinkled throughout the episodes.

Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated (TV Series 2010–2013) - IMDb
Photo from imdb.com

With What’s New Scooby-Doo?, it felt like a refreshing upgrade to the show that started it all: Scooby Doo! Where are You?. It’s not just with the animation quality and the voice acting, the characters felt more fleshed out. In each episode, the main gang and the side characters had their own personality. I’m not saying that they didn’t have any personality in the original show, it just feels like more effort was put into it. Like every show of Scooby-Doo!, the monsters were fascinating to watch on screen, some being classic monsters from the original show. While the classic first show will always remain as, well, a classic, What’s New Scooby Doo? gives off the feeling that it was what Scooby-Doo! Where are You? strived to be back then.

SATURDAY MORNINGS FOREVER: WHAT'S NEW, SCOOBY-DOO?
photo from saturdaymorningsforever.com

Other than re-watching What’s New Scooby-Doo? and Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, the most recent thing, that was Scooby-Doo! related, was when the show did a crossover episode with long-running series Supernatural in the legendary episode Scoobynatural. Fans of both series, including cast members, had been waiting for some type of crossover to happen. In season 13 of Supernatural, fans finally saw their fantasy become a reality, and honestly, it’s definitely one of the best episodes and one of my favorites in Supernatural. Not only was this the only animated episode (which clearly had so much effort put into it), but the episode was more enjoyable knowing how much of a fan Sam and Dean Winchester were of the show. Like Monsters Unleashed, it answered questions about what would happen if the two worlds collided and the characters. I feel like, even if you haven’t caught up with the show, you could watch it without worrying too much about getting lost on any key plot points. Other than the recap at the start of the episode, it doesn’t leave new viewers scratching their heads in confusion.

Scoobynatural | Supernatural Wiki | Fandom
Photo from supernatural.fandom.com

While Joe Ruby’s time on earth has ended, the show he has helped create will live on forever. The numerous pieces of pop and geek culture that were inspired by his work and the various crossovers in shows will also continue to carry on his legacy. The way Scooby-Doo! has impacted our lives will forever remain in our memories. Joe Ruby, we thank you for being part of the creation of such a beautiful series with many different styles of telling the story of Scooby and the gang’s adventures.

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