Why aren't Scooby Doo and Shaggy in Velma? Explained

Are Scooby Doo and Shaggy in Velma? (Image via WB Animation)
Are Scooby Doo and Shaggy in Velma? (Image via WB Animation)

Scooby Doo and Shaggy's presence in Velma is a question that has been running in fans' minds ever since the show hit HBO Max.

Velma has come under fire for several reasons, key among them being its race-swapping of the titular character and the subsequent character assassination. Fans have also criticized the writing as well as the crude and unfunny humor of the show. The audience backlash was also aimed at the show's depiction of gore and nudity.

At the time of writing, Velma on Rotten Tomatoes sits at a critical score of 57% and an audience score of 6%, surpassing Netflix's The Witcher: Blood Origin, which was also reportedly disliked and criticized by audiences, currently sitting at a critical score of 31% and an audience score of 13%.

However, fans are still wondering about the absence of Scooby Doo and the depiction of Shaggy in the series, both of which will be addressed below.

"Hey you can't use the dog": Are Scooby Doo and Shaggy in Velma?

The reason behind Scooby Doo's absence

Scooby Doo and Shaggy (images via WB Animation)
Scooby Doo and Shaggy (images via WB Animation)

The much-loved character of Scooby Doo is not present in the series. While speaking to Variety, show creator Charlie Grandy explained that Scooby's absence was partly due to the creators being unable to figure out how to do an adult take on the character and also partly because Warner Bros. Animation told him that they could not use the iconic dog.

The creator also mentioned how he wanted to respect the source material:

"When we were going into the show, and thinking about adapting it, we wanted to be respectful. We didn't want to just kind of take these beloved characters and put them in outrageous or gross situations, and say like, 'Isn't it crazy we did that to Velma?'"

He stated how Scooby Doo's presence is what made the previous Mystery Incorporated show a kids' show:

"So, when we were thinking about what made it a kids show, and what makes an adult show, the dog, Scooby, is what really seemed to... we couldn't get a take on it that was like, 'How can we kind of do this in a fun modern way?' It felt like what made [the original version] a kids show was Scooby-Doo. That coincided with Warner Bros. Animation saying, 'Hey, you can't use the dog.' So we're like, 'Great! This works out well!'"

The statement, however, did not sit well with Scooby Doo fans, Scooby's absence in Velma was one of the strongest criticisms aimed at the show by fans.

@HannaBarberaCap #HBOMAX Why is Scooby-Doo not in Velma?'Essentially, the crew felt that Scooby-Doo was too much of a character geared toward kids'WE WATCHED IT AS KIDS WE WOULD BE THE GENERATION TO OF WATCHED THIS!
To me this is NOT the Scooby Doo gang because in this gangs universe Scooby Doo is not there. Also when did Velma become Indian, Shaggy became black, and Daphne become Asian? and Why is the only white character Fred a bad person? the woke levels on this show are off the chart.…
velma killer is gonna be scooby doo because he's mad he's not in the show
My mom saw a preview of #Velma and asked me where Scooby Doo was. Shrugged and said not apart of the series. She asked why would they use Scooby Doo Characters for a show without having Scooby Doo in it. Shrugged again and said I don’t know. She doesn’t get it and neither do I.
I have not watched Velma because I refuse to acknowledge a Scooby-Doo franchise that does not have Scooby-Doo in it. The disrespect.
@RiseFallNickBck I don't get it. Scooby-Doo without Scooby-Doo and Shaggy. So it's not Scooby-Doo at all. But it happens in high school. If they were gonna try and make an original Velma, why not do Velma just after college?
Fan reaction to Scooby Doo's absence (image via Twitter)
Fan reaction to Scooby Doo's absence (image via Twitter)

How Shaggy's portrayal in the show differs significantly from the original

Unlike Scooby, Shaggy is present in the show. He is just not called "Shaggy" and is only referred to by his real name, Norville. Also, Shaggy aka Norville, like Velma and Daphne, is race-swapped and is now an African-American man instead of a Caucasian.

Shaggy or Norville's addiction to drugs in earlier depictions of the character has also been removed and he explicitly states how he dislikes them in the first episode of the show. The character's cowardice has also been eliminated, although his passion for snacks remains constant.

His relaxed and lazy persona from previous depictions has now been replaced by an ambitious and hard-working personality who is a school news reporter.

Daphne and Norville in Velma (image via HBO Max)
Daphne and Norville in Velma (image via HBO Max)

Furthermore, Norville's crush and love for Velma is one-sided as the latter only views him as her classmate and friend. As opposed to this, earlier depictions feature the two of them mutually attracted to one another. They even dated for a while.

Norville's voice actor, Sam Richardson, explained how he got former Shaggy voice actor, Matthew Lillard's seal of approval and how he was reassured by him.

"When they announced the breakdown of the characters, a lot of people, believe it or not, had a problem with there being a Black Shaggy. But really they’d probably be like, why aren’t the old voices the same? But they’re different. We’re different. It’s all different. Matthew Lillard said, “Oh, he’ll be a great Shaggy.” He tweeted it out. It was really nice. He didn’t have to do that. But I really appreciate it."

It remains to be seen whether or not Velma will get better as the show progresses, but as evidenced by the current Audience score of 6%, fans dislike it greatly.

Velma is currently streaming on HBO Max, and all nine episodes of the series will be released in weekly pairs from January 12, 2023, to February 9, 2023.

Edited by Upasya Bhowal