Every Scooby series is different: even if most of them revolve around a talking dog and four teens solving mysteries together, each show has different elements that makes it unique from the other shows. That's why I thought it would be interesting to rank each of the series premieres and finales up against each other, to compare and contrast how strongly each of the shows started and ended.
16. Maltese Mackerel
Beginning with the series premieres, "Maltese Mackerel" is the first to go. I know there are like a million different orders for the Scrappy shorts, but I'm going with the Amazon and iTunes order for this series, and the DVD set order for the Richie Rich Hour, since those would be the authorities on what the episode order would be. "Maltese Mackerel" was a very lackluster, screw-around type episode where nothing was really introduced. It's just Shaggy, Scooby and Scrappy trying to deliver a golden fish, which is no different than any other episode of the series, and the plot wasn't developed very well.
15. Scooby Ghosts West
Pretty much the same criticism here. The guys meeting invisible ghosts in a hotel was cool I suppose, but it wasn't really anything special or unique to introduce the series.
14. The Swiss Alps and Tokyo, Japan
There's only a slight gap between this one and the previous episode. While I enjoy Laff-a-Lympics probably more than most do, I felt this first episode could have introduced the competition a little more. Maybe there could have been a minute or two long segment explaining how this competition started or the history behind it? Granted, I realize that it's a hard thing to do in a competition, action-style show like this, and it might bore kids to hear a two-minute history lesson about how the competition was started by Sir Laff A. Lympic in 1933 or whatever lol, but I didn't want to rank this any higher given so many other Scooby shows have done it so much better.
13. Hound of the Scoobyvilles
While this is another one of the same scenarios where it doesn't feel like it kicks off the series, it was a little more special than just the guys running around like we saw in the previous two Scrappy series. Inspiration is taken from the famous book "The Hound of the Baskervilles" for the plot of this episode, which I suppose is kind of special, but nothing great compared to what we get in some future series.
12. Revenge of the Swamp Monster!
While I don't hate Guess Who, I've always found this episode to be a particularly weak premiere. It didn't feel any different from most of the other episodes, and while it did give us a sense of what the format for the series was going to look like. The writing was also definitely a little weak and it felt like they were trying to copy Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? exactly, in a way that felt a little forced. While they improved with that tremendously as the series went on, I felt this episode was one of the weaker ones, and not a great one to start off with. The police finding the missing people five seconds after the culprit was apprehended demonstrates the cringey writing perfectly lol.
11. Ghastly Ghost Town
I love this series and I'd put this super high if this were an article being driven by pure nostalgia, but alas, it's not. This is a great episode and I love all the different plot threads going on, but it doesn't feel like series premiere material to me. To me, a good series premiere gives the audience some of the best content that the series has to offer, to get them hooked so they'll continue watching the series. While the content here is good, I wouldn't say it's anything incredible in comparison to the rest of the series. The mystery is definitely a little confusing, since we don't even really know who the villain is until five minutes before the episode ends. All the different plot threads and antics are fun, but I think other Scooby shows started off better than this one did.
10. Shags to Riches
We're finally getting into the episodes I would consider good premieres! The placement of this one is more because I didn't feel the content of the series was amazing (though I don't hate it like most people do), but as a premiere, I thought it was an excellent way to introduce the series. Shaggy finding out he was rich, exploring his uncle's mansion and looking a bit into the disappearance, and then getting kidnapped by Dr. Phibes' agents, very much outlined what the series ahead was going to look like, and introduced us to the basic plot structure. It was a very well-written premiere and I have no issues with it, though I'd place a good portion of the Scooby premieres above it just because I didn't find it as enjoyable as a series.
9. The Scarab Lives!
"The Scarab Lives" is a fun episode that I found to be one of the best of the show, and features a high-stakes plot of a comic book character coming to life and haunting the writer. That's a very unique plot for a Scooby-Doo episode and has always felt "special" in a way to me. My main criticism of this episode is that I wish they would have introduced Scrappy in a little more detail than just the intro. Given they added a brand new character after the show after 10 years of the same format, I feel like at least a minute or two explanation of how Scrappy came to be with the gang would have been nice, instead of just acting like he was a normal part of the gang without really acknowledging the sudden appearance of his character much at all.
8. There's No Creature Like Snow Creature
What's New, Scooby-Doo? will always have a special place in my heart, and the premiere is no different. I thought this was an excellent episode to kick the series off with. The writers cleverly showcased all the new tropes that made this series different from the others, from the technological aspect, to the updated Mystery Machine with a GPS, and even including a celebrity (Chris Klug), which would become a common trope for this series, all within the first few minutes of the episode. All the "updated" elements of this show felt like very natural additions to the progression of the series, and didn't seem cringey or forced in at all. I thought the Snow Creature villain was super creepy-looking as well, and the B-plot of Fred breaking his leg created a very entertaining dynamic between the remaining four members of the gang throughout the episode.
7. High Rise Hair Raiser
While this could be shrugged off as a "normal" episode of Scooby and not premiere-worthy, I think writers did an excellent job here picking a very creepy episode to showcase. The whole episode taking place at night in a construction site started The Scooby-Doo Show off by demonstrating this would be a series that was a bit darker than the series before. The whole scene at Netty Crabbe's house was also the creepiest Scooby-Doo setting to date, in my opinion, which made this episode top-notch for me. We didn't necessarily get super creepy vibes with all the season 1 episodes, so I think this episode was a really good one to kick the series off with. I also want to make note of the whole B-plot of the gang needing jobs. That's a super interesting plotline that makes this episode kind of unique, because we don't really see anything like that in other episodes (until it's done in a silly way in the Richie Rich Hour, but that doesn't really compare IMO).
6. Mystery 101
Jon Colton Barry, the head writer of Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! has talked quite a bit about how he intended this show to be a reboot of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?. Personally, the fact that this episode reimagines "What the Hex is Going On?" from Where Are You, even using the same villain, is a genius writing move. It created a bridge between Be Cool and Where Are You from the very start, and prompted the audience to compare and contrast this show to the classic series we all know and love. Granted, that didn't necessarily result in all positive feelings, as we know from the amount of hate the show has received, but I think it was a very smart move for the writers to reimagine such a classic episode of Where Are You with their own twist. Doing this "compare and contrast" type premiere episode allowed the audience to see how this series was more comedy-focused and character-driven than previous Scooby series had been, while also showing us how it was the same basic Scooby-Doo formula we all know and love. I honestly wish more series would do something like this, because I think it was a great way to kick off the show and help the audience understand the tone of the series right from the beginning.
5. To All The Ghouls I've Loved Before
It's really tough to try to give the audience for a series that's both dark and humorous at the same time, but The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo pulls it off well with their series premiere. 13 Ghosts picks up from where The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries left off, showing Daphne, Shaggy, Scooby and Scrappy all flying in a plane to Hawaii together. After an emergency landing occurs, they meet Flim Flam, a con-artist kid who would later become a huge part of the show. This is a significant improvement on how they just threw Scrappy in the show without introducing him, other than the intro which provides little explanation as to why Scrappy was in a box on a train. The same goes for Vincent Van Ghoul, who they meet in town. Afterwards, the gang find their plane was dragged into a creepy-looking temple, where they are eventually tricked into opening the Chest of Demons, which kicks off the show.
4. A Bicycle Built for Boo!
"A Bicycle Built for Boo!" is another one that's always stood out to me as a series premiere. While in a lot of ways, it's just a normal episode, it also gives us some backstory behind the gang's detective agency in a clever way. Given Shaggy had to hire the detective agency for help finding his bike which was stolen by a ghost, that makes me think of this episode as an origin story of sorts. The rest of the gang had all sorts of problems throughout the series, yet it's the only episode where the gang forces one of their own members to pay for their detective services. This makes me think that Shaggy and Scooby were perhaps just acquaintances of Fred, Velma and Daphne, who already had their own established detective agency. Through Shaggy and Scooby's help in solving the mystery of the green ghost, Fred, Daphne and Velma got to know Shaggy and Scooby better, eventually resulting in them joining the detective agency and becoming friends. Anyway, that's my head canon for this episode; I'm not sure if others see it that way.
3. What a Night for a Knight
Even though this is pretty high, I'm sure some people are pretty surprised it's not even higher. I love how this episode casually introduces the general format behind the series in a very smooth, natural way, but this episode didn't do anything crazy special to kick off the series. It will always have a special place in my heart as the episode that started it all, but since this article is ranking episodes purely in terms of how good of premieres or finales each episode was, the remaining two did it a little better.
2. Happy Birthday, Scooby-Doo!
I absolutely adore this episode. A special surprise birthday celebration for Scooby was such a cool way to kick off the series, while also commemorating the franchise's 15 year anniversary. Another big reason this episode is up there so much is because the Red Skull Case has always fascinated me, because all throughout the episode, they reference the case as if it's such a famous, classic Scooby-Doo case that we should all be aware...except we're not, because they've never shown it before. It's oddly intriguing and makes me want to get some sort of movie someday that gives us that backstory lol. Either way, this is a stellar premiere and I wish we'd get more series that kicked off this strong.
1. Beware the Beast from Below
Of all the series premieres in the Scooby franchise, I think is the best one out there. Not only does this episode introduce us to all the core aspects of the series, like the gang's high school, the recurring characters (i.e. the gang's parents, the sheriff, the mayor, etc.), and the tone, but it also kicks off the overarching mystery by giving us just enough of a tidbit (a mysterious person calling the gang and the locket) to keep the viewers hooked. Honestly, this is how I'd like to see all Scooby shows start off, because Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated had me absolutely head-over-heels in love with the series from the very first episode.
Now that we've ranked all the premieres, let's move on to the finales!
16. Horror-Scope Scoob
"Horror Scope Scoob" from The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo gets dead last purely because it was an overarching series and should have wrapped at least something up, but it wraps nothing up. In fact, not only that, but it actually creates a few continuity errors. In the series premiere, it's said that ghosts can't open the chest. That's the whole premise of why Shaggy and Scooby open the chest: because Weerd and Bogel can't, so they have to trick a mortal into doing it. However, in this episode, the demon Zimbulu is able to flawlessly open the chest on his own without any mortal assistance, and there's no explanation for why. This happens a little in a couple other episodes: Zomba tries to open the chest in her episode, as does Time Slime, but I felt "Horror-Scope Scoob" was the most egregious example of them just disregarding everything the first episode set up, because the entire main plot point of the episode was Zimbulu trying to find the chest so he could open it, which he shouldn't be able to do according to the first episode. Oddly, when the demons are released from the chest, it's also just some cheesy looking demons the animators quickly drew and not the actual demons we saw captured throughout the series. Just in general too, "Horror-Scope Scoob" is one of the weaker episodes of the show IMO.
15. Bride and Gloom
This was a Yabba-Doo episode, and it was actually so bad that I'm just going to make this explanation one (really long) sentence: it didn't wrap anything up, and the plot of a misogynistic guy wanting a wife was rushed and not really that interesting; alright, that was a really long sentence, which shall end right now.
14. The Ransom of Scooby Chief
This one's a contender for one of the worst episodes of Scooby-Doo ever, IMO. What saves it a little in this ranking is that they at least tried to sort of create a backdoor pilot for what was to come: a series of Shaggy, Scooby and Scrappy antics without Fred, Daphne and Velma. I respect that a little, but I hated the plot itself and it felt like pointless screwing around, which...guess what...is mostly what we get for the next three years! Huzzah!
While this one is another episode that was too rushed to have much of a plot, Scooby running into Bigfoot while camping and no one believing him was somewhat entertaining, unlike the previous two which I didn't find to be entertaining in the slightest. It didn't wrap anything up really, so not a great finale in my book.
12. The Wrath of Waitro
I felt like this was one of the weaker A Pup Named Scooby-Doo episodes, and it definitely wasn't a good one to end on. It was at least a little entertaining, but for me personally, the plot felt a bit rushed and the whole "it was all a dream" ending is a bit of a cop-out.
11. Siam and the Moon
While this is another very typical Laff-a-Lympics competition, I really like that they ended it with a three-way tie. The teams competing on the moon also felt special and "finale-ish," even though other Scooby series obviously did it better.
10. The Movieland Monsters!
It was actually kind of tough to pick which finales I like best from this point on, because I think they were all pretty close together in quality from here. If I had to pick one to eliminate of the remaining ten though, it would be "The Movieland Monsters!" It was a cute episode and I loved the monster, but personally, I didn't recognize a lot of the movies so it wasn't as special to me as it could have been. As I've said before, I also think that the voice actor episode would have made such a better finale and would have ranked a ton higher. However, I did like their inclusion of Carol's "closing song" here and the fact that this episode was a homage to classic films, given Guess Who is composed of a lot of famous stars from films.
9. The Beast is Awake in Bottomless Lake
While this episode didn't really feel like "finale material" any more than any other episode they would have picked from the show (pretty much any season 3 episode would have made as good of a finale as this), I really did enjoy this episode and how dark of a tone it had. This was one of the darker episodes of season 3, given it all takes place at night at a creepy lake, and the monster looked super spooky and grotesque-looking!
8. Wedding Bell Boos
It's getting a bit hard to choose some between these episodes, because they're all so good haha. "Wedding Bell Boos" was a wonderful finale, because it finally allowed us to meet Shaggy and Scooby's entire family. Not only this, but the entire mystery was centered around a deceased member of Shaggy's family trying to stop the wedding of Shaggy's sister. This was my favorite episode of the series and absolutely meets that criteria of "the best the series has to offer" which is what I'd expect from a finale. This episode also set the stage for several other appearances of Scooby's family throughout the 1980s, and the fact that this episode introduces us to the family members we'd come to get to know better in later series almost feels like this show's finale was providing us with a glimpse into some characters we'd get to know even more later, which I find to be pretty cool and unlike any other Scooby finale.
7. Uncle Albert Alert
I know people hate this series and will be surprised I placed it so high on the list. However, I felt like this episode was an excellent finale and wrapped everything up pretty nicely. The overarching plot of the series was that Shaggy's Uncle Albert had gone missing, and not only did Shaggy and Scooby finally attempt to find him in this episode, but they were essentially forced to because Dr. Phibes suspected a mole in his lair. The comedy was pretty spot-on in this last episode as well, compared to some of the other episodes. The only thing I didn't like is that there was no resolution brought to the Dr. Phibes plot. He just escapes and says "he'll be back," and then we have no idea what happens afterwards (or if all the agents Shaggy and Scooby rescued rejoined Phibes's army). Besides that somewhat minor issue, I thought this episode did a great job wrapping up the show.
6. Don't Fool with a Phantom
It certainly isn't getting any easier to pick the order for these last few finales, and I feel bad about ranking this one a bit low, but compared to the other remaining finales, this was just an average Scooby episode, even if it was one of the better ones of season 2. This definitely felt like it abided was one of the best episodes the season had to offer, and I loved the creepy setting of the Wax Museum and the Wax Phantom himself (I wish they'd have the Wax Phantom appear again sometime instead of just reusing the same couple of Where Are You villains over and over again!). There was nothing wrong with this episode at all, but I would argue the remaining five just wrapped things up and felt more special than this one did.
5. The Haunted Carnival
You could definitely argue this is a very typical episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, and in a lot of ways, it is. However, the ending for me of the gang working at Dick's carnival has always felt very finale-ish to me, which places it just a teensy bit about "Don't Fool with a Phantom." I loved the plot of Dick's carnival being haunted by so many different ghosts, and Dick was an excellent guest star that you could tell was really into his character.
4. The Nutcracker Scoob
This episode is my favorite Scooby-Doo holiday episode of all-time, and always manages to put me in a Christmasy mood whenever I watch it. It's pretty unique to end a series with a holiday episode, and quite frankly, I really liked that they did that. Holiday episodes always feel a little more special to me than the average episode, as should finales, so it makes total sense that they'd make the holiday episode the finale. Until recently with "Scroogey Doo," this episode was the closest thing we had to Scooby parody of A Christmas Carol, and I've always appreciated this episode a little more because of that. I love A Christmas Carol and given the plot revolves around three ghosts, I think it fits super well with Scooby. I was also very impressed by how they combined two classic Christmas films (The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol) to make up the plot of this episode. For these reasons, this remains one of my favorite Scrappy episodes to date, and one of my favorite finales to date.
This episode explored a lot of new territory that a Scooby episode had never tried before: the whole mystery being solved in a virtual reality simulation, even though Velma doesn't know that. The gang being captured one by one felt super crazy and during my first time watching this, I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen, which is unusual for a Scooby episode because they can be pretty formulaic. All the different crazy twists and turns with the gang members slowly being captured, and the weird occurrences like the zombies that didn't make any sense within the plot, made this episode feel like a truly epic finale that was more entertaining than many other What's New, Scooby-Doo? episode. This episode exemplifies what I want to see in a finale, because it felt like the best the series had to offer.
2. Professor Huh? Part 6 ¾
Given Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! was, for the most part, an episodic show that didn't have an overarching plot, the fact that we got such an epic finale was incredible. The villain being Fred's father was amazing enough on his own, but Professor Huh? was so silly yet creepy at the same time, which is super hard to pull off, but this episode did that stupendously. The added plot point of the gang having to be on the run from the police and become fugitives from the law, after Fred's childhood friend frames him, made this episode even more amazing, as we've never had such a high-stakes, action-packed plot in a Scooby episode of any series (other than maybe the #1 finale, which I'll get to in a moment). Like with the WNSD episode (but amped-up), there were so many crazy things going on throughout the episode that I had no idea what would happen next, which is exactly what I want from a Scooby finale. Fred even drives over a bridge at one point to fake the gang's deaths! That's miles above what any other Scooby finale has done. I also found the ending of the series to be super sad, where Fred's dad says he has to turn himself in, but Fred locks him in the Mystery Machine so he can escape. The next morning, the Mystery Machine is back in Fred's garage with a llama, who is holding a note saying "I love you son. This note will self destruct in 3, 2, 1." Series over. That's such a sad ending, and I didn't ever think a Scooby-Doo series would end in a such depressing way! The writing of this finale was so incredible that I feel bad not placing it at #1, but that's because the spot goes to:
1. Come Undone
While I hated putting the Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! finale at #2 given how incredible it was, this finale literally features the apocalypse, which I felt was just a little more high-stakes lol. The gang having to confront the end of the world was an unfathomable plot even at the beginning of season 2, so the fact that the finale was taken in this direction was amazing. The old Mystery Incorporated being devoured by the Evil Entity, and the gang having to desperately cling onto life while the Entity's minions are chasing them had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. It was really sweet that the Heart of the Jaguar was the gang's friendship for each other, and the fact that it reset the entire timeline was shocking. While Be Cool's finale was epic, the fact that the fabric of the universe was literally altered in this finale makes me place this one first. Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated's use of an overarching plot is one of my favorite things that the Scooby franchise has ever done, and the conclusion of this plot didn't disappoint.
Well folks, that about does it for my rankings! I realize this was an incredibly long article, so thanks sticking around and reading this, and I hope you enjoyed it! I'd be interested to hear people's thoughts on my rankings, and I'd love to see others' rankings of the premieres and finales as well if anyone is interested in sharing theirs!