This ICHF was written by Nickel Smart.
I think it’s safe to say that Scooby-Doo is one of the most iconic animated characters in history, having been around for over 50 years. In fact, Scooby-Doo is one of the few fictional characters to ever be given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, along with Bugs Bunny, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Shrek, and even Godzilla. One of the reasons for this was that, despite being a kids show and not being that scary, Scooby-Doo is a horror franchise. Even though most of the monsters they face aren’t real, they regularly deal with vampires, ghosts, witches, zombies, mummies, sea monsters, demons, aliens, dinosaurs, and basically any horror archetype that has ever existed. As a result, this attracted children who were too young to experience more adult horror fiction. Honestly, Scooby-Doo was likely the progenitor for horror entertainment for children, like Courage the Cowardly Dog and Gravity Falls. Therefore, its easy to say that Scooby-Doo is one of the most influential characters in the entire horror genre.
However, while Scooby-Doo is mostly known for being made for kids and dealing with people in costumes, it is commonly agreed that the best installments in the franchise are not only very dark in comparison to the other shows and films, but they also deal with real monsters. While many have cited Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island as being the franchises best and scariest installment, I posit that the position belongs to Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. After finding a mysterious locket with a picture of a man and a woman inside of it, Scooby and the gang find themselves trying to solve a mystery spanning centuries involving their hometown of Crystal Cove, all the while being guided by a mysterious voice calling himself Mr. E. I can safely say that Mystery Incorporated is a massive love letter to not just Scooby-Doo, but the entirety of the horror genre itself. Every monster they face is either a unique take on a notable horror archetype, or a flat-out homage to another horror property, including War of the Gargantuas, Duel, and even The Call of Cthulhu (complete with the shows own version of Lovecraft voiced by Jeffrey Combs). The story itself takes major inspiration from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and Stephen King’s It. Even though the first half of season one doesn’t really focus on the overarching mystery and the contentious series finale, it needs to be said that Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is one of the finest pieces of horror for kids.
At the end of the show’s sixth episode. “The Legend of Alice May”, the gang learn the identities of the man and woman, named Brad and Judy, and realize that they were apart of group of teenage mystery solvers that were around before them named Mystery Incorporated (which is where they gain their name), complete with their own talking animal mascot in the form of a parrot named Professor Pericles. Four episodes later in “Howl of the Fright Hound,” the gang manage to meet Professor Pericles in an animal jail. While the other inmates are locked behind bars like regular criminals, Pericles is locked behind a glass cage in a waist jacket. When the gang meet Pericles, they are informed by the guard that not only has Pericles not spoken in years, but is quite possibly the smartest being on earth, which is shown after Pericles, without even moving, somehow knocks out the guard by duct taping his taser to his hand. With the guard knocked out, Pericles tells the gang to not only look for clues involving the previous gang’s disappearance but to not trust anyone, especially Fred’s father Mayor Jones. The guard then comes to and leads the gang out of the jail. At the end of the episode, it is learned that after the jail was attacked by a Terminator-esque robot mimicking Scooby (don’t ask) that Pericles managed to escape and is now on the run.
Its only in episode 16, “Where Walks Aphrodite,” does Pericles rear his head again. After the entirety of Crystal Cove, the human members of the gang included, fall under the sway of the titular goddess and her love potion. The only ones who aren’t affected are Scooby and Pericles, who form a temporary alliance to create an antidote, which they create after going around the town. The cured gang and Pericles figure out Aphrodite’s identity and catch her, though Pericles disappears soon after. It isn’t until Ed Machine, an associate of Mr. E, reveals a recording sent to E revealing that Pericles was the one who told Aphrodite the ingredients to make the potion, with his real goal being to find three objects for an unknown purpose, though Ed says that Pericles plan will threaten all of Crystal Cove and beyond.
Pericles would then make his return in episode 23, “A Haunting in Crystal Cove,” as the culprit in the episode’s mystery. Pericles poses as a cloaked apparition in order to get steal a strange puzzle piece-like object from Mayor Jones in an homage to Poltergeist and actually gets away with the piece, in spite of those meddling kids. Pericles comes back for the finale of season one, “All Fear the Freak,” as he sends a message to Mr. E by killing Ed Machine offscreen. He then returns in the final minutes of the episode. As the gang is broken up due to circumstances I can’t reveal due to major spoilers, Pericles reveals to Scooby that he has two out of six pieces of the now named Planispheric Disk, which he stole from the gang and Mayor Jones. This causes Scooby to become determined to bring the gang back together to stop Pericles. Pericles then becomes the main villain of the show during season two, being the cause of several prominent events and continuing to manipulate events to his goals.
Out of all of the villains to ever appear in Scooby-Doo media, Professor Pericles is one of the most distinct and possibly the most evil. Throughout the show, it is shown just how intelligent and cruel Pericles is as he tears Crystal Cove apart to further his plans. Much of this is aided by Udo Kier’s chilling performance, perfectly manifesting his malevolent intelligence, and his design, giving him an imposing look for a character of his size. But the most prominent aspect of Pericles is how much of a perfect foil he is for Scooby himself. Scooby is cowardly and gluttonous but he’s still good hearted. Pericles is intelligent and cruel, though he does enjoy eating sunflower seeds. While Scooby maintains a good friendship with Shaggy and the rest of the gang, Pericles used the former Mystery Incorporated for his own means. These aspects create what I wholeheartedly believe is one of the best villains to grace animation in the last decade. And I say to all who read this: Please watch Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated to see one of the best and most underrated animated series in recent memory.