It was 1979, and after a decade of high ratings over three separate animated TV vehicles, the Scooby-Doo format was struggling. Under threat of cancellation from ABC, Hanna-Barbera retooled the concept to include a new character: Scrappy-Doo, Scooby’s young nephew.
Despite what revisionist history would have us believe, Scrappy-Doo did the job he was created to do. As the pugnacious, assertive yang to his cowardly uncle’s yin, Scrappy frequently challenged the ghosts and monsters they faced to fistfights, and was carried away from the action by Shaggy and Scooby, still trying to throw haymakers at his foes.
Scrappy was a hit, and the Scooby-Doo franchise had new legs: it ran for a further four series, into 1986. Of course, to hear people talk today, Scrappy-Doo killed Scooby-Doo. He was the archetypal odious pre-teen kid, the loudmouth that made everything about him.
People actually believe that the character was so obnoxious, so irritating, so toxic that it poisoned the show, trashed the Mystery Machine, and split the gang for good. It’s not true, but it’s a great story… because people these days hate Scrappy-Doo.
It’s become axiomatic, this loathing of the character. The producers of The Simpsons lampooned the Scrappy-Doo idea with Poochie way back in 1997 after a Fox executive suggested that they introduce a new, hip lodger to liven the show up; the whole name ‘the Scrappy’ has become the name of a trope in fiction concerning loathed and despised characters; most of the names cited in this article are Scrappies in one form or another.
Ever since the Scooby-Doo franchise was revived in 2002 - and even before then, with the 1988-1991 spin-off A Pup Named Scooby-Doo - there’s been only one mention of Scrappy-Doo. The live action feature film of that year saw the villain of the piece turn out to be Scrappy himself: abandoned years earlier by Mystery Inc. due to his overweening narcissism, he’d come back for supernatural vengeance.
And he would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for you meddling kids.
Agree with this selection, or do you have a much-loathed character of your own to share? Let us know in the comments...