Scooby-Doo has the distinction of being the longest-running cartoon on television. First appearing in 1969, the mystery-solving Great Dane has starred in 310 animated episodes of shows ranging from Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! to Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics to The Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show. But Scooby-Doo has another important distinction. Since his name comes from the refrain "Scooby-dooby-doo" from the song "Strangers in the Night," Scooby-Doo is also the only cartoon canine inspired by a Frank Sinatra lyric!
When Hanna-Barbera initially pitched the show that would become Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! to CBS, it was a scary cartoon, heavy on haunted houses and monsters, but light on comedy. Also, the four teenagers were the main characters, and their dog merely a supporting player. The CBS executives worried that Mysteries Five or Who's Scared, as it was slated to be called, would be too frightening for children. Bu they still wanted to find a way to make it work. Fred Silverman, then the head of children's programming at CBS, cracked the case wide open when listening to that famous Sinatra record. He reasoned if they called the dog "Scooby-Doo," made him the main character, and made the cartoon a comedy, they would have a hit.
On Saturday morning, September 13, 1969, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! premiered. Fraidy dog Scooby-Doo (or Scoobert, his formal name) was joined by a team of four teenagers: confident leader Fred, accident-prone Daphne, bookish Velma, and hungry-hungry slacker Shaggy. The five crime-solvers formed the team of Mystery, Inc. Visiting haunted houses, ghost towns, and abandoned amusement parks, the teens investigated sightings of witches, ghosts, and even monsters. Invariably, the "monster" would turn out to be a greedy human in disguise, trying to scare away people for his own profit. Of course, the villain would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for those "meddling kids"!
The show's next incarnation, The New Scooby-Doo Movies, saw a slew of high-profile guest stars join the gang to help find clues. Phyllis Diller, Jonathan Winters, Tim Conway, Sonny and Cher, Don Knotts, Dick Van Dyke, and Mama Cass Elliot were among those who helped the gang clos cases. Basketball's Harlem Globetrotters got in the game for three episodes. Mystery, Inc., even teamed up with Gotham City's Batman and Robin. But of course, the Dynamic Duo always blindfolded the teens before taking them to the top-secret Batcave.
In 1979, the Scooby-Doo series changed forever. Even though Scooby had occasionally met up with his relatives, such as cousins Scooby-Dee and Scooby-Dum, the gang in the Mystery Machine could not have known what to expect from the arrival of Scrappy-Doo. Feisty, fearless, and prone to yell "Puppy power!", Scooby's young nephew got the gang in loads of trouble. Instead of running from ghosts like Uncle Scooby, Scrappy would meet them head-on and, more often that not, need to be rescued. In 1980, Scrappy dominated so many episodes that Fred, Daphne, and Velma could retired temporarily from active duty at Mystery, Inc. With their exit from the series, The Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show, as it was now called, featured the two dogs and dog's best friend Shaggy.
The trio of Scooby, Shaggy, and Scrappy continued in such series as Scooby, Scrappy and Yabba-Doo, a wild-west show featuring another of Scooby's country cousins, and The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, in which Daphne came out of retirement to join the trio for a new set of mysteries.
The original Mystery, Inc. team finally reunited (sans Scrappy) in 1988, when A Pup Named Scooby-Doo premiered. That show, set in 1963, featured a young Fred, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy, and Scooby solving grade-school mysteries in their hometown of Coolsville.
A Pup Named Scooby-Doo in 1991. Had Mystery, Inc. perhaps solved its final mystery? Of course not! In 2002, the original group of five hops in the Mystery Machine once again, when television's longest-running cartoon finally becomes a live-action film. Now that Fred, Velma, Shaggy, Daphne, and Scoobert are together again, the only mystery left is how many cases this fivesome will solve in the future!