James Gunn Looked At A Lot Of His Own Pets While Writing Scooby-Doo

Although James Gunn's 2002 film "Scooby-Doo" was critically panned at the time of its release, the kids who watched it have since grown up to appreciate the film as the cinematic masterpiece it actually is. Featuring a star-studded cast and a standout performance from Matthew Lillard as Shaggy, "Scooby Doo" is simply a fun time from start to finish. Could they have eased up on the fart jokes? Probably, but we're not here to nitpick. 

When asked in a 2004 interview about which member of Mystery Inc. he most relates to, Gunn listed Fred (played in the film by Freddie Prinze Jr.) for his leadership position and "buffoonish" qualities, as well as Velma (Linda Cardellini) for her sometimes-obsessive attempts to logically think her way out of things. When it came to which character he found easiest to write for, however, the answer was obvious: "Scooby. I love Scooby. Scooby is just so pure and innocent."

Of course, everyone loves Scooby. He's a dog who can talk like a human but still acts like a dog in just about every other situation. For Gunn, Scooby reminded him of his own pet dog. "My dog has passed away," he explained, "but it was a little Havanese called Audrey." Gunn acknowledged that his beloved Audrey was very different from Scooby, but shared some well-defined personality traits. "She was always afraid and shivering and then she would instantly go to being happy and instantly go to being hungry." Sounds a lot like Scoobert Doo.

An easy character to write

As the writers for "The Simpsons" can also attest, writing for a dog character is surprisingly easy. As James Gunn noticed from his own dog's behavior, they have a tendency of "going quickly, from one emotion to the next, and always getting distracted by anything around the corner, jumping at sounds." It's why Scooby can be so terrified that he jumps in the air and stays up there for several seconds, and then a moment later he's getting excited over the possibility of a Scooby Snack. As Gunn explained to IGN:

"There's something humorous about dogs. I have a dog and a cat. And my cat is funny in a different way, but dogs are just ... They're funny. I think that's why God gave us dogs; they're jesters."

Sure enough, it's hard to imagine a successful version of the series where Scooby is a cat. Cats are great, but they don't have that same sort of excitement for life that Scooby's always had. Throughout the live-action film, Scooby is often selfish and unreliable, but he still gets chosen as the cult's sacrifice because of his "pure soul." That's because, like any dog, there's never any malice to Scooby's inconvenient behavior, and he'll always be loyal to his friends as long as he's not distracted. 

Although James Gunn's Scooby-Doo movies took a while to win over hardcore fans of the franchise, Gunn at least understood the appeal of the titular character. Scooby may be a coward and a bit of a dolt, but first and foremost he's a dog, and we'll always love him for that.