Scooby-Doo was never really about the mysteries. With an unswerving dedication to formula, each episode’s plot was like an Agatha Christie novel if the murderer ran around in a monster mask and Hercules Poirot just got high and ate sandwiches until he accidentally cracked the case. I’m not even sure if the gang ever really solved any crimes. I mean, the cops would always take Old Man Jenkins into custody in the end, but what would they charge him with? Unlicensed scaring? Impersonating a pirate ghost? I imagine the Scooby-Doo conviction rate was even lower than that of To Catch a Predator.
Really, the only reason to watch was for the characters. I would never go so far as to say any of them were particularly cool — unless, say, I was doing a post under a rubric requiring me to declare one of them the coolest — but there was a carefully constructed balance to the group. Just like if you removed any of the denizens of Gilligan’s Island everything would devolve into Lord of the Flies-style murderous bloodbath, each Mystery Machine passenger was essential. But which one was the best? For my money, it’s Velma*, the only one who actually did any crime-solving. Plus, by jinkies, she was totally cute in a nerdy way, and I could relate to her as I, too, can’t see without my glasses.
Understandably, I imagine many of you beg to differ, so here’s a brief rundown of the characters to choose from. I’ve excluded recurring guest stars like Don Knotts and Mama Cass because they’re not actual characters, and Scrappy-Doo because he is literally the worst thing ever to happen to anyone over the course of the 20th century.
Clothing style: The sweater over button-down shirt ensemble screams preppie, but that orange ascot screams, “That’s right, I’m wearing an ascot. Deal with it.”
Drug of choice: Oxycontin
Contribution to team: He’s the group’s de facto leader and the only male who isn’t a pothead, a dog, or both. He’s also good at building traps, but that’s only when he’s not off alone with Daphne solving the Mystery of the Missing Pants.
Clothing style: The “fashionable” one, Daphne goes for a Joker-esque color combo of purple and green. Her favorite fashion pose is standing with both hands on her tiny waist, judging you.
Drug of choice: Diet pills
Contribution to team: Aside from tapping that ascot, Daphne is particularly good at getting herself kidnapped. Whatever, she’s rich, what does she care?
Clothing style: A heavy orange turtleneck sweater with a mini-skirt, because apparently only the top half of her body is cold.
Drug of choice: Adderall
Contribution to team: Certainly the only character with book smarts, and possibly the only one that’s literate, Velma is almost always the one who catches the criminal using deductive reasoning rather than some sort of net attached to a rope.
Clothing style: Shaggy typically wears a pea green shirt with brown bell bottoms, neither of which have been washed in months.
Drug of choice: Seriously, what do you think?
Contribution to team: Shaggy fulfills the very important mystery-solving function of hanging out with a dog, toking up, and eating enormous sandwiches. Also, he’ll occasionally help tire out the ghost/Bigfoot/whatever by making it chase him through an impossible, space-bending series of doors.
Clothing style: A blue collar with his initials and not much else.
Drug of choice: Scooby Snacks, and a little of whatever Shaggy is having
Contribution to team: Honestly, for a title character, Scooby-Doo doesn’t do much. When your theme song is literally your friends trying to find you because you have work to do, you know you’re probably not the most productive member on the team. Also, somebody left a gross surprise in the back of the Mystery Machine and I don’t think it was Shaggy. No, wait, I take that back. It probably was Shaggy.
So folks, make your choice. Which is the best meddling kid?
*This is, of course, only counting the main gang members. Otherwise the answer would obviously be the 1972 Harlem Globetrotters.