The Mystery Machine as a Symbol
of Religious Tolerance


The other night I was watching a 2012 episode of Scooby-Doo, Who Are You? and was startles as, over the course of the episode, the religion of each major character was revealed over the course of the episode. And it wasn't a hamhanded attempt at multiculturalism or an awkward way to make some kind of point. There may have been multicultural goals or a point to be made, but the writing was so excellent, that each reveals was smoothly executed, seemed natural to the conversation, and relevant to the typical Scooby-Doo plot. (Although the reveal was one of the more shocking I've seen. Daphne was driving the Mystery Machine and was about to shoot Fred, in the passenger seat, with a short-barrelled rifle. Fred wrestled the gun away as she is driving, gave her a nonfatal shot and tore off her face, revealing not Daphne but the episode's villain. I can't ever remember even seeing a gun in a Scooby-Doo cartoon before, unless it was strapped unused to the hip of local law-enforcement. Wild.

I should maybe point out that, since a c. 2004 feature-length cartoon where the monsters were real, I've largely written off post-early-Eighties Scooby-Doo. (Although I did recently enjoy Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?.)

I should pause here to say two things that are, in my opinion, vital to Scooby's success.

1) The monsters are NEVER real. This is a rationalist universe Mystery Inc. resides in. It's always someone in a mask. Always. Exceptions not allowed. Exceptions are a betrayal.

2) Mystery Inc are true friends, and an episode spent with them is an episode spent with friends. Just hanging out with Fred and Velma and Daphne and Shaggy and Scoob.

It was those two axioms that make the 2012 religion episode so fascinating. By so cleanly integrating this aspect to the characters' personal lives, it a) made rationality and religiosity comfortably coexistent and b) allowed people with different religious backgrounds to be friends.

Unfortunately, I can't remember the affiliations of Shaggy or Scooby (did he have one??) and can't easily look it up (it's not online for reasons I'll explain in a moment), but here you are:

Anyway, I thought it was a fascinating and rather daring choice and, that upsetting ending notwithstanding, a pretty good episode.

Unfortunately, you won't be able to find it online any more than I can because I watched it in a dream early Friday morning. I really hate it when stories end this way. Might be worse than finding out the monsters are real.

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