Why Those Shaggy Dragon Ball Memes Are Suddenly Everywhere (Again)

Well over a year since its debut, the Ultra Instinct Shaggy meme has reemerged in full force, combining the lovable goofball from Hanna-Barbera's Scooby-Doo franchise with the powerful Ultra Instinct form from popular anime series Dragon Ball Super. The unlikely combination has seen such a resurgence in popularity that a petition has circulated online requesting Shaggy Rogers be made a playable downloadable character in Netherealm Studios' eagerly anticipated fighting game Mortal Kombat 11, a petition that racked up over 100,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.

The origins of this crossover meme began in October 2017, when YouTube user Midya posted a re-edited fight sequence from the 2011 animated film Scooby-Doo! Legend of the Phantosaur. In the clip, Shaggy single-handedly dispatches a gang of bikers with the song "Ultimate Battle," from the Dragon Ball Super soundtrack, added to the scene. The viral clip inspired a whole wave of fan art depicting the character in a transformed, Ultra Instinct state, a powerful form assumed by Dragon Ball Super protagonist Goku as he fought Jiren in the Tournament of Power and focused his latent combat energy through battle to ascend to a higher level.

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With the first Dragon Ball Super animated film, Dragon Ball Super: Broly, currently proving to be a massive worldwide hit both at the box office and with critics, Dragon Ball is back in the American mainstream in the biggest way it has been in years, even receiving a balloon at the Macy's Day Thanksgiving Parade for the first time ever this past November. Thanks to this surge, the Scooby-Doo meme has gained renewed popularity online, especially after grabbing the attention of one familiar face: former Shaggy actor Matthew Lillard.

Lillard, who portrayed the live-action version of the character in the original 2002 Scooby-Doo film and its 2004 sequel, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, had the meme brought to his attention by a fan through Twitter, photoshopping images and doctoring quotes taken from behind-the-scenes interviews the actor gave while promoting the film dressed as the character, implying that Shaggy was some sort of mysterious, omnipotent being channeling himself through the actor.

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Since then, Lillard has embraced the peculiar meme, sharing fan art and other photoshopped images of Shaggy Rogers in various states of enlightened and omnipotent transformation through his social media accounts while giving them his tacit approval, even going as far to use the character's nonsensical catchphrases.

Buoyed by Lillard's support and resurgent interest in Dragon Ball Super among worldwide audiences, the meme has not only gained a second wind, it's undeniably the most popular it has ever been. An unprecedented amount of fan art has been created and shared to spread the meme with a "Badass Shaggy" subreddit created, honoring the Hanna-Barbera icon as the ultimate, all-powerful lifeform with the subreddit also gaining Lillard's public approval.

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With fan art including amateur illustrations and re-edited sequences from the final fight against Jiren in the Tournament of Power from Dragon Ball Super, even professional artists are joining in on the fun. One the the latest pieces is from fan-favorite artist Stanley "Artgerm" Lau, currently illustrating gorgeous Marvel and DC variant covers, creating his own piece of Shaggy Rogers transformed into an Ultra Instinct state.

With the Internet continually revealing surprising amounts of untapped creativity, one intrepid fan even created a custom character in the popular Dragon Ball fighting game, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, modeled after Shaggy and giving him the appearance of his Ultra Instinct form, with a video of the modded character posted on YouTube showing Shaggy battling the Grand Priest, Daishinkan for the fate of the Dragon Ball multiverse. Forget Captain Marvel -- Shaggy Rogers is who Nick Fury should have turned to stop Thanos and save the day at the end of Avengers: Infinity War.

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For decades, Shaggy Rogers was dismissed as one of the biggest wimps in Hanna-Barbera's extensive animated library of characters, the first to run and hide at the first sign of trouble, often leaping into the arms of his Great Dane companion Scooby-Doo rather than face danger himself always to comedic effect at the character's expense; his cowardice had become a half-century punchline across all previous incarnations of the character. With the character's previously unseen heroic side revealed during the surprise fight sequence in Legend of the Phantosaur, fans clamored to give the traveling crime-solver the respect he truly deserves while combining the character with Dragon Ball Super's most powerful tropes. 50 years since his first creation, the truth about Shaggy Rogers has finally been unveiled to the general public:

Shaggy Rogers is our all-powerful, ultimate being. Zoinks, indeed.

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