Although it might not be apparent at first, Velma could be the most widely beloved character from Scooby-Doo. While changes occur from series to series, every iteration of the character has a few core elements that maintain the franchise's universal appeal to generations of fans. In every incarnation of the series, Velma is brilliant, clever and arguably the one most focused on actually solving the mystery. While Scooby and Shaggy run around in terror, Fred walks headlong into danger, and Daphne fills in various other roles, Velma is consistently the brains behind Mystery Inc.
Velma serves as the only one most equipped to solve the mysteries in each episode. As such, she is the glue that binds the team together. She serves as arguably the core member of Mystery Inc. It is up to her to solve every mystery that comes her way. Now, CBR is taking a look back at this iconic cartoon character.
Velma in the Original Scooby-Doo
The original series, Scooby-Doo Where Are You? offered kids bite-sized mysteries every half-hour, featuring a spooky "monster" that invariably turned out to be some petty criminal out to scare people off of some scheme. The core cast of characters each brought something different to the table, but because the focus was on offering hijinks, the show gravitated towards Scooby and Shaggy as stumbling on scary stuff.
Because of this, the supporting cast fell to the wayside. Many people have trouble defining Fred and Daphne's roles in the early series. Fred serves as leader and Daphne as "the girl." As such, they seldom contributed much to the mysteries. But Velma served as "the brains" of Mystery Inc., which meant she'd often solve the mysteries and spot clues. The rest of the crew would catch the criminal, but she'd solve it all.
While Scooby and Shaggy often offered the most entertainment value, Velma solved most of the conflicts they encountered, which meant she was the team's most valuable player.
Velma in Later Series
This trend continued from iteration to iteration, though the rest of the cast was fleshed out in more detail. Each series tried to give each character equal merit and weight in the series. Though Daphne's role often varied from series to series, Fred would either take on more physical or more goofy roles. But the core mystery solving was always done by Velma.
For a while, the later series focused exclusively on Scooby and Shaggy (and sometimes Scrappy) encountering odd scenarios. By comparing how these shows dealt with problems and how Velma dealt with them, it's clear to see what an impact Velma had on the team. Where Scooby and Shaggy would stumble upon the solutions to their mysteries, Velma deduced her solutions from evidence uncovered and other casual details the other characters overlooked.
This is most apparent in A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, a later '80s series that featured much younger versions of Velma and the rest of the original Scooby Gang. In this series, Fred is often shown to brashly decide that he knows the culprit of every episode's crimes, invariably a school rival of his aptly named Red Herring. Naturally, Velma usually deduces the solution to the mystery at hand by using a logical approach.
Without Velma, Mystery Inc. forced or lucked their ways into solutions, not offer clever answers. Because of this, Velma became increasingly vital to solving mysteries, especially after the series moved away from her character.
The Voice of Rationality
In the various live-action and animated Scooby-Doo films, Velma often plays an instrumental role in solving the various mysteries. However, she often is no longer solely responsible for solving the mysteries, as many of the mysteries ended up "solving" themselves thanks to villain monologues.
In Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, Velma is almost incidental in the early conflict of the film. The team reunites because of Fred and Daphne, not Velma. Most of the mystery is solved thanks to the villains explaining the conflict to the heroes.
So if she isn't solving the mystery, why is she important?
Velma consistently demonstrates a willingness to accept both supernatural and natural explanations to problems. When confronted with absurd supernatural elements, she is the first to gain a level-head about the situation and approach the situation rationally. She is the first to rationally accept there are zombies on the island in Zombie Island or the existence of witches in Witch's Ghost.
Without her rational approach and detective skills, Mystery Inc. would collapse into chaos, as Scooby and Shaggy's hijnks overpower everything else around them. In almost every incarnation of the series, Velma has been the intellectual fuel that's kept the Mystery Machine running.