A discussion on the strongest warriors in fiction might include some fairly standard picks, like Goku, Superman, or Saitama. An individual that shouldn’t be overlooked, however, is Shaggy Rogers from the "Scooby-Doo" franchise. Put simply, Shaggy is a character whose presence makes games even better. What may be underestimated, though, is his limitless power.
From obscure fan meme to playable reality, Ultra Instinct Shaggy has taken the world by storm. The character set a major precedent for the power of the gaming community. What was initially a joke just for "Dragon Ball" and "Scooby-Doo" lovers has now become canon to Warner Bros. and its properties.
In November 2021, Warner Bros. announced crossover fighter "MultiVersus," which includes Shaggy Rogers as a playable (and powerful) character. With this incredible reveal, it feels like the right time to track the history of the infamous meme. How did a bizarre meme eventually become so strongly embraced by the actual rights-holders? The rise of Ultra Instinct Shaggy is absurd and nonsensical, but more relevant than ever. Here’s how it all happened.
The origin of Ultra Instinct Shaggy
"Dragon Ball Super" is a major factor in the creation of Shaggy’s new form. The sequel series to "Dragon Ball Z" is a battle anime in which a colorful cast of characters duke it out and obtain new powers and forms. At one point in the series, the main character, Goku, achieves a new transformation that allows him to run purely on instinct and reaction. This form is called Ultra Instinct, and many a slow-motion action sequence is later scored with the "Ultimate Battle" music.
History was made when a YouTuber named Midya took it upon themselves to edit a scene of "Scooby-Doo! Legend of the Phantosaur" with a number of "Dragon Ball" influences. In this viral clip, an out-of-context scene of Shaggy beating up thugs in a bar is backed by Goku’s "Ultimate Battle" theme and some slow motion editing. Although taken down (per KnowYourMeme), secondary channels have since re-uploaded the video to preserve Ultra Instinct Shaggy’s first appearance.
Despite the fact that "Scooby-Doo" typically has little to do with climactic battles or even action altogether, the marriage between "Dragon Ball" and Shaggy’s fight is perfect. It’s no wonder the meme took off the way it did. This was just the beginning, however, as countless other artists and creators would put their own spin on the Warner-owned character.
Shaggy becomes Dragon Ball’s newest fighter
After a spotlight was placed on the "Legend of the Phantosaur" scene by Midya, more memes came along that aimed to seamlessly embed Shaggy into Goku’s world, making things even more hilarious.
One infamous piece of fan art, created by MielSibel, is of an ominous, smirking Shaggy undergoing the iconic transformation, surrounded the Ultra Instinct glow. Others made fan art of Shaggy throwing down with other "Dragon Ball Super" characters, complete with a giant "KO" screen that seems pulled straight from "Dragon Ball FighterZ."
Eventually, fans took their love to the next level, creating mods for video games like "Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2" Seeing a Shaggy character skin doing battle atop the "Tournament of Power" stage further blurred the line between fan dream and fighting game reality.
While other mods would put Shaggy in games like "Grand Theft Auto 5," the majority of fan jokes were hellbent on portraying Shaggy in an anime style. However, the memes would eventually bleed over into live-action.
Shaggy’s true power
Various scenes and interviews featuring Matthew Lillard’s portrayal of Shaggy in the "Scooby-Doo" feature films have also been given the meme treatment.
A running theme among Shaggy memes is the idea that he’s tapped into untold power. For instance, pictures of an early 2000s interview of Matthew Lillard have often been edited with fake quotes, with the actor appearing to brag about only using a portion of his power. This expands the lore in which Shaggy’s power is immeasurable and his true potential has yet to be seen.
YouTuber Kadz took things to the next level with an edited video of BTS footage from the live-action film "Scooby-Doo." Using AI to read the dialogue, the modified video shows the cast members talking about Shaggy and his power level. One infamous moment of the video features Matthew Lillard claiming, "There was one instance where I used 0.8% and the entire set turned to ash."
Another template for these creations is a scene in "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed," during which Scooby and Shaggy drink potions and Shaggy becomes insanely ripped. A dedicated YouTube channel simply titled "Buff Shaggy" has posted a number of edits of the scene, showing just how dangerous Shaggy can become when he puts his mind to it.
Shaggy reacts in real life
To most longtime viewers of "Scooby-Doo" media, Matthew Lillard is one of the best to play Shaggy. Lillard has starred in the live action "Scooby-Doo" films and voiced the character in a number of animated projects, including "Mystery Incorporated," and his extensive career made his reaction to Shaggy’s internet popularity even more meaningful.
Lillard seemed a bit hesitant regarding the movement, as his first tweet about the meme stated nothing more than "This is wrong." He further clarified his first impressions during an interview with YouTube channel Wyrmwood. At one point, Lillard mentioned that seeing Shaggy with "demonic eyes" felt wrong, because "[Shaggy’s] like the most innocent creature in the history of cinema."
The actor eventually came around to the concept, even discussing the possibility of the "Scooby-Doo" personality entering video games in an official capacity. When asked about whether he’d be willing to offer his voice for a project like this, Matthew Lillard simply said, "I’m available."
While Lillard embraced these memes on social media, The crazy idea of a Lillard-voiced Ultra Instinct Shaggy making his way into a real video game took some time — and that’s a whole history lesson on its own.
Petition for Shaggy in Mortal Kombat
Even though Shaggy will be making his godlike debut in "MultiVersus," the campaign to add him to an official Warner Bros. video game goes back a couple years. Early 2019 saw fans begging NetherRealm Studios to put Shaggy into "Mortal Kombat 11." As Lillard mentioned in his interview with Wyrmwood, fans eventually rallied behind an actual petition "to get [Shaggy] as the big baddie in ‘Mortal Kombat.’"
The petition posted to Change.org gained a ton of traction, eventually garnering over 380,000 signatures from people who wanted to see Shaggy as a "Mortal Kombat" DLC fighter. Many felt that after seeing the infamous memes that he would be a fun pick for the cast, and the fact that both NetherRealm and the "Scooby-Doo" property are owned by Warner Bros. was icing on the cake.
Though the petition went viral and its creator was still hopeful well into the end of 2019, some did not see eye to eye with the desired fighter. Things came to a head when the creator of "Mortal Kombat" came out and responded to the petition.
Ed Boon reacts to the Shaggy petition
Sadly, Ed Boon, the creator of "Mortal Kombat," shot down any hopes of "Scooby-Doo" characters being represented in the legendary fighting franchise. After the Change.org petition gathered a ton of steam, Boon famously responded to a fan who tweeted "We want Shaggy" at him. To much dismay, Boon bluntly replied, "Let me know how that works out for you…"
Of course, just because Boon hasn’t changed his stance on the matter, it doesn’t mean that Boon hasn’t joined in on the fun on occasion. Shortly after he shot down fans’ hopes, the game director drew attention by sharing realistic fan art of Shaggy fighting Scorpion.
One of his latest jabs came when he reacted to someone’s comic strip of Fred unmasking Scorpion. In the comic, the "Mortal Kombat" character proceeds to execute Fred by using his demonic fire breath. Ed Boon wryly responded to the picture: "This pretty much kills any chances of Shaggy as a guest."
Though fans would love to see how Shaggy would function in a "Mortal Kombat" title, the series’ creator has mostly remained firm on his decision. And maybe that’s for the best, since some people have determined Shaggy would be much too powerful for anyone in the "Mortal Kombat" roster to defeat.
Shaggy’s true power revealed
One of the main running gags with Ultra Instinct Shaggy is his power level and sheer strength. Dream matchups like Shaggy versus Scorpion or Goku have been coveted by the gaming community, so it’s natural that people would want a calculation of Shaggy’s actual power. YouTube channel The Film Theorist sought to definitively answer this age-old question. In MatPat’s analysis of Ultra Instinct Shaggy, he breaks down the memes and the "Legend of the Phantasaur" fight scene. He also uses precedents set by "Dragon Ball" to help draw conclusions.
When referencing "Legend of the Phantasaur," MatPat spells out the lore behind Shaggy’s newfound ability to fight instinctively. He explains that in the film, Shaggy is hypnotized, which leads to his unfathomable strength.
The video goes on to break down all of his techniques, as well. MatPat states that Shaggy seemingly "has fast reaction times, above average strength, and the ability to almost fly." Because he is unable to create energy attacks in the film, MatPat compares Shaggy to many of the characters in the original "Dragon Ball," where the series is more focused on basic martial arts.
Disappointingly, The Film Theorist determined that Shaggy is not even on par with Goku’s strength in the first "Dragon Ball" series. However, later iterations of the character might disprove this conclusion.
Scoob! references the meme
For a while, the most high profile reactions towards Ultra Instinct Shaggy came from Matthew Lillard and Ed Boon. Having the beloved voice actor and a veteran game director is impressive, but seeing an official "Scooby-Doo" movie production weighing in is a different beast entirely. About six months before the movie came out, the Twitter account for the movie "Scoob!" — which controversially didn’t feature Matthew Lillard as Shaggy — directly acknowledged the existence of Ultra Instinct Shaggy, beginning his journey to canonicity.
This bombshell occurred when the Twitter account for mobile game "Dragon Ball Legends" made a standard update post about what’s to come for the game. The account for "Scoob!" retweeted this update along with a picture of the film’s version of Shaggy sporting a distinct Ultra Instinct glow. The post, which arrived nearly a year after the meme’s peak popularity, was captioned, "Don’t make Shaggy use 5% of his power."
Fans were blown away to see Warner Bros. addressing the meme while marketing a major new movie. This particular joke paved the way for the company to further embrace Ultra Instinct Shaggy in unexpected ways.
Shaggy makes a cameo in Mortal Kombat
Remember when there was no chance of a Shaggy and "Mortal Kombat" crossover? Well, Warner Bros. apparently changed its mind when Ultra Instinct Shaggy finally got to make his "Mortal Kombat" debut.
A number of Warner Bros.’ animated projects feature a pre-credits segment in which Daffy Duck hops around until Porky Pig opens up the Warner Bros. logo and pulls him in. These goofy little opening scenes have gradually grown into bigger spectacles. At the top of the animated movie "Mortal Kombat: Scorpion’s Revenge," Daffy again runs around the screen. This time, a peeved Porky Pig is instead replaced by Scorpion himself, who yells "Get over here" and drags Daffy into hell.
But it was the opening of "Mortal Kombat: Battle of the Realms" that really changed the game. During the WB logo sequence of this movie, Scorpion hops out and flips across the screen. Suddenly, a glowing Shaggy Rogers pops out of the logo and grabs Scorpion. As Scooby looks on, Shaggy cheekily says, "Like get over here, man."
Fans couldn’t believe their eyes, and what looked to be a fun little nod to fan outcry may have been the first hint at the eventual announcement of "MultiVersus."
Shaggy vs. Batman?
"Nickelodeon All Star Brawl" had fans going crazy when it was revealed as a "Smash Bros." clone full of beloved cartoon characters. Not long after that game’s debut, rumors began to spread that Warner Bros. would up the ante with its own fighting game — one that might feature a certain Scooby-snack-loving Mystery Incorporated member.
Early leaks pointed to NetherRealm Studios as the developer behind this mysterious title, but these were quickly disproven. All that was known for sure was that Warner Bros. seemed to be putting together a 2D platform fighting game that would finally pit Shaggy against Batman.
Veteran "Smash Bros." pro player Hungrybox reported on the leaks, looking back on the godly Shaggy and the long-running memes.He argued that the "Battle of the Realms" opening titles sequence was clearly a tease for the new game, and that a reveal was on the way. Reddit got in on the fun, with rumors running rampant well before the official reveal of "MultiVersus."
All that gamers knew for sure was that their favorite "Scooby-Doo" character would be joining the ranks of a brand new multiverse-spanning fighting game. But nobody was prepared for how faithful Shaggy’s "MultiVersus" appearance would be.
MultiVersus stars Shaggy Rogers
After weeks of rumors, Warner Bros. Interactive finally decided to unveil its newest project with developer Player First Games: "MultiVersus." Just as the leaks stated, the company was working on a new Smash Bros. clone with a confirmed Shaggy appearance. In a video featuring game director Tony Huynh, audiences got their first good look at the project — as well as Ultra Instinct Shaggy.
While on the topic of returning voice actors, the game designer introduced Shaggy. The character will be voiced by Matthew Lillard, which already made fans happy. But what shocked many was Shaggy’s appearance and move set in the game. Rather than opt for his more classic cowardly ways from the cartoon, Shaggy appears to have his Ultra Instinct abilities in "MultiVersus."
At one point in the trailer, Shaggy is surrounded by blue and yellow auras, shouting out phrases such as, "Like, dude, I’ve got all kinds of tough guy power." Even his moves are otherworldly, including an energy-filled uppercut and chargeable punch that manages to damage Superman.
With this move, Warner Bros. Interactive and Player First Games fully welcomed the character’s unexpected following, implementing a lot of the humor and outlandish decisions that the fans came up with. What started out as an entertaining mix of anime and "Scooby-Doo" eventually became an official part of gaming history.