One of the most iconic cartoon franchises of all time, Scooby-Doo has seen quite a few iterations since the original series Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! premiered in 1969. There were many factors that led to the success of this show. It followed a group of teenagers from varying social groups (popular kids, a nerd, and a stoner) to appeal to a wide audience. Side note: yes, Shaggy was a stoner. Although he’s never explicitly shown smoking weed in any version of Scooby-Doo, it’s very much implied that he enjoys a nice toke of the jazz-cabbage.
Anyway, the show consisted of self-contained episodes that all followed the same basic formula: Mystery, Inc. is called to the scene of a crime that they must investigate, which usually involves some sort of ghost or monster terrorizing a community. Ultimately, of course, Mystery, Inc. ends up unmasking the villain and exposing them as nothing more than a human with nefarious intentions.
And the crew’s dog, after which the show is named, is usually the one who uncovers the final clue. This formula had been laid out by previous programs like I Love a Mystery (a radio drama series from the 1940s) and Dobie Gillis (a sitcom from the early 1960s), yet it seemed like Scooby-Doo had perfected it.
Scooby-Doo was created for children and had a PG rating, so the majority of the villains from the show aren’t going to live rent-free in your nightmares. However, over the many different versions of Scooby-Doo (including Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, What’s New, Scooby-Doo?, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, and Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?, just to name a few), there have been a handful of villains who have been actually pretty terrifying.
So, in honor of this classic cartoon and our favorite mystery-solving dog, we’re going to take a look back at the scariest villains ever in a Scooby-Doo series or movie. These are the scariest Scooby-Doo villains ever.
One particular Scooby-Doo villain that scared the shit out of me when I was a kid was Revolta, who was the main antagonist of the franchise’s third feature film Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School. In this film, the Ghoul School is the educational institution for the children of some of the world’s most famous monsters. Among the students are the daughters of Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, Wolfman, and a mummy. Despite the terrible reputations of their parents, these children are all kind-spirited and good. However, there’s an evil witch who wants to change that.
Upset that the world’s most famous monsters have “gone soft,” Revolta and her sidekick, the Grim Creeper, begin to poison the minds of the young girls and turn them evil using potions and dark magic. I think the fact that Revolta is able to control people’s minds is part of what makes her so scary. Plus, she’s covered in warts, she has four arms (which are fully exposed by her sleeveless dress), and it looks like her flesh is melting off of her body. All of this combined makes Revolta one of the scariest villains ever in Scooby-Doo.
Probably the scariest Scooby-Doo film ever made, Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island followed Mystery, Inc. as they journey to Moonscar Island, an island off the coast of New Orleans that’s allegedly haunted by the ghost of a pirate named Morgan Moonscar. However, the further they investigate, the more apparent it becomes that there’s more amiss on Moonscar Island than just a ghost pirate.
Eventually, the gang’s host on the island, a woman named Lena, reveals herself to be a werecat (along with two of her comrades). These fearsome creatures are definitely some of the scariest villains from Scooby-Doo, mostly because of how closely they resemble humans. In fact, these beasts were Mystery, Inc.’s most trustworthy human confidantes throughout the film, only to turn on them toward the end after sprouting cat ears and long fangs.
3. The Ghost Clown
Those who suffer from coulrophobia (the fear of clowns) should definitely avoid watching the “Bedlam in the Big Top” episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, which features the main antagonist of the Ghost Clown. Now, the Ghost Clown is really just the disguise of a man named Harry the Hypnotist, but the fear instilled by this costume is ever-so-real.
In terms of the appearance of the Ghost Clown, he really looked like your average clown. He had red hair, a face covered in white makeup with a pink nose and lips, a red cloak, and a goofy hat. But what made the Ghost Clown so very terrifying was his grin and his laugh, which were seen and heard after he pulled off one of his evil and deadly schemes. In the end, it’s revealed that the Ghost Clown is actually Harry the Hypnotist, an aggrieved circus performer who’s trying to exact revenge against his old boss.
4. The Ghost of Dr. Coffin
This villain was the antagonist of the episode titled “The Harum-Scarum Sanitarium” from The Scooby-Doo Show, which aired on ABC from 1976 to 1978. In this particular episode, Mystery, Inc. is enticed to investigate the haunting of a sanitarium (which was essentially a mental hospital) after they notice that there are a bunch of ambulances coming and going from the building with no patients inside them. A Canadian border patrol officer named Officer Oldfield warns the gang that they shouldn’t go inside the sanitarium because it’s haunted by the ghost of a Dr. Coffin.
Of course, Mystery, Inc. defies his warnings, and the gang enters the abandoned hospital. Not long after, they’re chased around the property by the ghost of Dr. Coffin, a pasty-white, bald man wearing a paramedic’s uniform and surgical gloves who’s surrounded by a creepy, green aura. Eventually, it’s discovered that the ghost of Dr. Coffin is really Officer Oldfield, who’s been scaring people away from the hospital so they won’t discover his gold-smuggling operation.
5. Ben Ravencroft
Ben Ravencroft was the main villain from the direct-to-video film Scooby-Doo! and the Witch’s Ghost. Ravencroft is a famous horror novelist who first appears to help the gang solve a mummy mystery in the museum. By doing so, he gains the trust and affection of the entire gang (especially Velma, who has a big-time crush on the dreamy writer). However, Ben Ravencroft has a dark secret in his family’s past: he’s the descendant of an evil witch.
As he learns more about his ancestor, Ben unlocks warlock powers that turn him into one of the most powerful villains that Mystery, Inc. ever has to face. The thing that really makes Ben Ravencroft so scary, though, is the fact that he was so easily able to gain the trust of everyone around him. But, personally, I think that the ponytail was a red flag from the beginning.
6. The Phantom Virus
The Phantom Virus is the main adversary of the 2001 film Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase, which involves Mystery, Inc. being trapped inside a video game and having to find a box of Scooby Snax in every level in order to complete the game and escape. Using clues left behind by the Phantom Virus throughout the video game, Mystery, Inc. is able to uncover the identity of the creator of the Phantom Virus, but only several near-death experiences.
The Phantom Virus is so scary because of how powerful he is. He’s able to manipulate technology in the real world, and he has near-omnipotence in the video game world. He’s also got the appearance of an evil bolt of lightning, which just makes him even more terrifying.