The Co-Creator of ‘Scooby-Doo,’ Joe Roby, Has Passed Away

Published on August 28, 2020

The co-creator of a childhood favorite (and arguable stoner favorite), Scooby-Doo, has passed away. Joe Roby passed away on Wednesday at the age of 87. Roby had a remarkable life that produced over ten grandchildren and one of the most beloved television shows of all time. 

The Life of Joe Roby

Roby passed away from natural causes in Westlake Village, California. In addition to Scooby-Doo, Roby created Dynomutt, Jabberjsaw, and Where Are You? According to his grandson Benjamin Ruby, “He never stopped writing and creating, even as he aged.” Roby, who served in the Navy, began his career at Walt Disney Productions and editing on television. As for Scooby-Doo, Roby created the show with Ken Spears. Together, the two worked on a variety of shows at Hanna-Barbera Productions, but of course, Scooby-Doo is their longest enduring creation. 

The two never expected their classic to last more than a single season. The show went up against The Hardy Boys, which the co-creators thought would hammer them in the ratings. If you ever want to revisit the show or the earliest episodes, “Mystery Mask Mixup” and “Nowhere to Hyde” were two of Roby’s favorite episodes. What’s fantastic is, Roby wouldn’t have changed a thing about the original show, either. Looking back on the series, he said he wouldn’t change a thing. Not all artists are as fortunate as Roby to think that about their greatest creation. 

The Legacy of Scooby-Doo

Scooby-Doo first aired in 1969. 51 years later, the show is still ongoing. The characters never age or lose their place in pop culture. It’s a truly remarkable feat what Roby and Spears accomplished. The president of Warner Bros. Animation and Blue Ribbon Content president, Sam Register, released a statement to celebrate Ruby’s creation and mourn his loss:

“Joe Ruby made Saturday mornings special for so many children, including myself. He was one of the most prolific creators in our industry who gifted us some of animation’s most treasured characters and it was a thrill to host him at our studio. Scooby-Doo has been a beloved companion on screens for more than 50 years, leaving an enduring legacy that has inspired and entertained generations.  We at Warner Bros. Animation have the privilege and honor of carrying on that legacy and send our warmest thoughts to his loved ones.”

The History of Scooby-Doo

Scooby-Doo began its life on CBS. The lighthearted show was created as a result of complaints about violent cartoons. The famous stars of the show went through a variety of forms, too. For example, Freddie, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy, and Scooby-Doo were initially imagined as a rock band. Ruby, Spears, and character designer Iwao Takamoto tested a bunch of options. Together, Roby and Spears wrote the first five episodes and were story editors for season one. Their original version of the series lasted all the way until 1976 before there were a series of reboots and big hit films. 

Post-Scooby-Doo Career

Roby’s career continued to thrive after Scooby-Doo became a beloved hit among kids and families. CBS tapped Ruby and Spears to oversee Saturday Morning Cartoons. In 1977, the duo created their own production company that launched animated hits such as Mister T, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Superman, and The Plastic Man Comedy-Adventure Hour, which was just a fantastic title for a show. In 1981, Taft Entertainment, which owned Hanna-Barbera, bought their company. Throughout most of Roby’s career, he was married to his wife, Carole. They were together for 63 years, had four children, and ten children. Roby lived a very full life full of creation.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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