It’s been over 20 years since the first live-action Scooby-Doo was released in theaters. That’s long enough that kids discovering it today have no idea that the version of the film that made it onto the big screen is a sanitized interpretation of the creator’s original vision. That’s right, Gen Z, believe it or not, that Scooby Doo movie your parents keep forcing you to watch because they still have a crush on Buffy and the dude from She’s All That exists somewhere in a raunchy R-rated cut full of boobs and bongs according to Cinema Blend.
“I had written an edgier film geared toward older kids and adults, and the studio ended [up] pushing it into a clean-cut children’s film.”James Gunn on 2002’s Scooby-Doo
James Gunn might be best known today for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy, but when he was hired to write a live-action adaptation of Scooby-Doo in the early ’00s, he was best known for his work with Troma—a studio known for movies like The Toxic Avenger.
Troma films are known for constantly pushing the boundaries of good taste by stuffing as much over-the-top violence and dark humor into their movies as possible. As such, Universal shouldn’t have been too surprised when Gunn handed in a script for Scooby-Doo that was largely R-rated.
“The first cut was rated R by the MPAA, and the female stars’ cleavage was CGI’d away so as not to offend.”James Gunn
As Gunn himself has said, “I had written an edgier film geared toward older kids and adults, and the studio ended [up] pushing it into a clean-cut children’s film.” Gunn’s claim is backed up by Sarah Michelle Gellar, who played Daphne in the film. Gellar has revealed in the past that the movie that She and her husband, Freddie Prinz Jr. (Fred), signed up for was changed during production to appeal to a younger audience.
Some of the things cut from Gunn’s Scooby-Doo script in order to avoid an R-rated film include several stoner jokes and references to marijuana, as well as allusions to Velma being a lesbian and even hints of she and Daphne having a fling. Gunn based a lot of the jokes on things Scooby-Doo fans have been saying for years—especially the widely accepted headcanon that the only reason Shaggy and Scoob are so hungry all the time is because they’re always high.
From all accounts, it appears that Universal’s original plan was to make Scooby Doo a darker meta-commentary on the original source material like the 1995 Brady Bunch movie.
Despite a lot of the more adult material being cut from the script before filming, some of the themes Gunn had woven throughout the screenplay still made it to the screen, including a few subtle weed jokes and the slightest inference that Velma might have a crush on Daphne. Even with the film being toned down during production, the initial cut of Scooby-Doo given to the MPAA came back R-rated, causing the crew to have to make some last-minute changes in post.
Some of the things cut from Gunn’s Scooby Doo script in order to avoid an R-rated film include several stoner jokes and references to marijuana, as well as allusions to Velma being a lesbian and even hints of she and Daphne having a fling.
“The first cut was rated R by the MPAA, and the female stars’ cleavage was CGI’d away so as not to offend,” Gunn said. You have to wonder if part of that is hyperbole—the MPAA isn’t in the habit of handing out adult ratings to films based on decolletage alone.
It’s entirely possible that the original cut of Scooby-Doo contained some other NSFW content to end up R-rated, such as more drug humor or less-subtle allusions to Velma being gay (the early 2000s were a time when just having a queer character was enough for a movie to be considered unsuitable for children).
In any case, an R-rated cut of Scooby-Doo does apparently exist, and we’re sure we speak for the internet when we say, #ReleaseTheGunnCut.