The Scooby Gang can’t take a step without running into some kind of villain; they’re constantly chased by things that go bump in the night. Ever since 1969, the iconic Great Dane and his loyal companions have found themselves in trouble wherever they go, in or out of Coolsville. And though it may seem unnecessary to work Halloween into any given story, seeing as Scooby-Doo! doesn’t ever need a special occasion to get creepy, there’s something irresistible about those mysteries set on All Hallows’ Eve.
The long-running franchise has certainly amassed a staggering amount of cases over the years, but these ten stand out due to their Halloween backdrops.
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
To Switch a Witch
In this episode from the series that started it all, the Scooby Gang visits a friend named Arlene (voiced by Judy Jetson actor Janet Waldo) in Salem. There’s no time for Halloween shenanigans, though, because the people of Salem are being stalked and menaced by an evil witch! What makes this mystery even stranger is the fact that the witch looks just like Arlene, who happens to be witch’s descendant.
To Switch a Witch, which was later repackaged as an episode of The Scooby-Doo Show, is available on HBO Max.
The Scooby-Doo Show
The Headless Horseman of Halloween
New Scooby-Doo! episodes produced in the ’70s, with the exception of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, were repackaged as The Scooby-Doo Show for syndication and home video. This includes select episodes from Where Are You! The Headless Horseman of Halloween, which was originally made for The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour, takes place in Sleepy Hollow when the village was still called North Tarrytown. The official name change came about in 1996.
In the episode, Mystery Inc. and Scooby-Doo’s cousin Scooby-Dum are at a Halloween party at Crane Manor when they encounter the infamous Headless Horseman. This episode can also be found at HBO Max.
The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries
A Halloween Hassle at Dracula’s Castle
When ratings started to slip in the ’70s, the franchise pulled a “Cousin Oliver” and introduced Scrappy-Doo. As Scooby-Doo’s young nephew started to receive top billing, other characters were written out; Daphne, Fred and Velma were all dropped until the ’80s, with only Daphne returning at first in The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show (later The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries). Fred and Velma, who hadn’t been seen for five years, eventually had recurring roles in the series.
In the two-parter A Halloween Hassle at Dracula’s Castle, the whole Scooby Gang is reunited. They’re all invited to a costume party, where the hosts turn out to be real monsters. Dracula and his friends all seem menacing until it’s revealed they need help getting rid of a ghost. These two episodes are available at Tubi.
A Pup Named Scooby-Doo
Ghost Who’s Coming to Dinner
A Pup Named Scooby-Doo de-aged the core characters so they were back in elementary school. “Babyfication” was popular among late ’80s and early ’90s cartoons, yet in this case, the treatment breathed new life into the series. This fresh take on the Scooby Gang is outright irreverent, with some of the more distinct characteristics carrying over into future properties.
In the Halloween episode Ghost Who’s Coming to Dinner, the kids’ night of trick-or-treating comes to an abrupt stop when they land an unexpected case; a real ghost asks for their help. If they can’t solve their client’s mystery, the ghost may end up moving on to the afterlife. This episode and the rest of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo are available through Boomerang.
The Scooby-Doo Project
As part of a Scooby-Doo! marathon on Halloween in 1999, Cartoon Network aired an original segment called The Scooby-Doo Project. The live-action animated short was initially shown in parts before the whole thing was played in full at the end of the marathon. An extended ending was included, too.
As the title suggests, this featurette parodies the box-office hit The Blair Witch Project. Now, it wasn’t uncommon to see media imitations of the popular found-footage horror movie around this time, although some critics thought The Scooby-Doo Project was one of the better takes. The success of the short inspired Cartoon Network to make another Halloween special in 2001 called Night of the Living Doo.
What’s New, Scooby-Doo?
A Scooby Halloween
Scooby-Doo had largely become a direct-to-video franchise starting in the mid-’90s, all thanks to the success of Zombie Island and its follow-ups. However, Mystery Inc. finally returned to the small screen with What’s New, Scooby-Doo? in 2002. This was the first all-new TV show since A Pup Named Scooby-Doo ended in 1991. The series was essentially an update of the original, though there were changes, especially to Fred. In addition, popular musicians often performed the chase songs.
In A Scooby-Doo Halloween, the group visits Velma’s aunt, uncle and cousin for the October holiday. Once there, the Scoobs get enmeshed in a new case; sinister scarecrows and a ghost are on the attack. The chase sequence here is accompanied by “Shout It Out Loud” by KISS, who make an appearance in the episode. What’s New, Scooby-Doo? can be found on HBO Max.
Anyone wanting more scarecrow scares can also watch the 2013 featurette, Scooby-Doo! and the Spooky Scarecrow, on the same platform.
Scooby-Doo! and the Goblin King
The twelfth entry in Warner Bros. Animation’s series of Scooby-Doo films is fairly unique for the time. For the most part, the villains in these stories almost always turn out to be regular people in disguises, or they’re using advanced technology to pull off their schemes. Meanwhile, The Goblin King is reminiscent of The Boo Brothers, The Ghoul School, and The Reluctant Werewolf. Like that trilogy of movies, the supernatural elements of this story are genuine.
On Halloween night, the Scooby Gang encounters the Goblin King and learn magic is indeed real. This leads to Shaggy and Scooby then entering the underworld to save their friends. Fans can find this and other WB Animation Scooby movies on HBO Max.
Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!
Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated was a tough act to follow, but at the same time, there really was no way to outdo such an unparalleled series. On the other hand, the serialized storytelling of the aforesaid show might have been seen as an obstacle, so the franchise resumed an episodic format. On top of that, Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! is notably quirky and less serious. The ultra-stylized character designs divide fans as well.
In Halloween, Fred’s issue with the holiday is revealed when he and the other Scoobies come across a mean witch named Baba Yaga. This underappreciated series is streaming in full on HBO Max now.
Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo!
The newer Scooby-Doo! movies have only gotten bigger and bolder with age. Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo! sees Mystery Inc. teaming up with the Mistress of the Dark herself, Elvira, when a mysterious ooze turns pumpkins into monsters. The addition of Dr. Jonathan Crane, who Batman fans recognize as The Scarecrow, only adds more fuel to the fire.
The 2020 movie reaches near spectacle level as several opposing forces converge on Halloween night. At the moment, Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo! is available at many digital retailers as well as on home video.
Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo!
The most recent Scooby-Doo! movie begins with Mystery Inc. capturing the mastermind behind all the other villains’ costumes: a genius fashion designer named Coco Diablo. Crime everywhere takes a nosedive with Coco now in prison, but the Gang needs her help when a pack of ghoulish lookalikes show up around Halloween.
Trick or Treat is the first movie to use the character designs from Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?, and it’s also the first property to openly identify Velma Dinkley as queer after a history of coding. The movie can be found on home video and at digital retailers, and it will have its TV premiere on Cartoon Network on October 14 before finally becoming available on HBO Max.