The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo TV series is the seventh incarnation of the Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon Scooby-Doo. The series premiered on September 7, 1985 and ran for one season on ABC as a half-hour program. Thirteen episodes of the show were made. It replaced Scary Scooby Funnies, a repackaging of earlier shows; another repackaged series, Scooby’s Mystery Funhouse, followed.
In the initial episode, the gang are thrown off course on a trip to Honolulu in Daphne’s plane, landing instead in the Himalayas. While inside a temple, Scooby and Shaggy are tricked by 2 bumbling ghosts named Weerd and Bogel into opening the Chest of Demons, a magical artifact which houses the 13 most terrifying and powerful ghosts and demons ever to walk the face of the Earth.
As the ghosts can only be returned to the chest by those who originally set them free, Scooby and Shaggy, accompanied by Daphne, Scrappy-Doo, and a young juvenile Mexican con artist named Flim-Flam, embark on a worldwide quest to recapture them before they wreak irreversible havoc upon the world. Assisting them is Flim-Flam’s friend, a warlock named Vincent Van Ghoul (based upon and voiced by Vincent Price), who contacts the gang using his crystal ball and often employs magic and witchcraft to assist them. The 13 escaped ghosts, meanwhile, each attempt to do away with the gang lest they be returned to the chest, often employing Weerd and Bogel as lackeys.
The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo differed greatly from most previous incarnations of the series, in that it pitted the Scooby-Doo characters against actual supernatural forces. The concept of capturing real ghosts was one that was already familiar in mid-1980s culture after the debut of the film Ghostbusters in 1984; indeed, two other ghost-busting series the Real Ghostbusters (an adaptation of the film) and a Filmation production known as GhostBusters, were also soon to debut.
Story editor and associate producer Tom Ruegger led the overhaul of the property, and the irreverent, fourth wall breaking humour found in each episode would resurface in his later works, among them a Pup Named Scooby-Doo. Of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, Ruegger recalls not being fond of the Flim-Flam character (‘Definitely the product of network focus groups’) or the other added characters in the cast. As with most of the other early-1980s Scooby-Doo entries, original characters Fred Jones and Velma Dinkley do not appear.
13 Ghosts was canceled and replaced by reruns of Laff-a-Lympics in March 1986, before the end of the season. It became the final Scooby series to feature Scrappy-Doo.
A feature length film, Scooby-Doo! and the Curse of 13 Ghosts, is released on February 5, 2019.