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It’s hard not to feel the nostalgia when you look back on your childhood TV shows. Can you still remember waking up on a Saturday morning and turning on the TV to primetime TV shows with its unique art styles? You might even have asked for a birthday party with your favorite show as the theme or still have a giant cartoon character plushie hidden somewhere in your house.
While these shows were made for kids, it’s easy to forget these shows were made by adults. And often when you look back, you’ll see a few inappropriate but cleverly hidden adult jokes that you might have overlooked as a child but might have made your parents smirk at the reference. Instances such as Miss Sara Bellum’s address in The Powerpuff Girls to Dexter’s assistant briefly in Dexter’s Laboratory may have innuendoes that might have slipped your notice but going back to it today makes you wonder how the reference made its way to a kid’s show back then.
Out of all the grown-up realizations we’ve had on our beloved childhood characters, one reference seems unclear and has started a lot of fan theories and debates about whether the theory is true or it’s just a coincidence. You might remember Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, one of the five members of the Mystery Machine of the Scooby-Doo franchise. You might remember him as the best friend of Scooby-Doo, the one who likes to eat a lot, and the one who’s always first to suggest they leave at the mention of ghosts or ghouls. However, there is also evidence – from the way he talks, to the way his character is built – that suggests a much more adult theme: Shaggy is a stoner.
At this point, you’re either shocked and in disbelief, thinking “Is Shaggy really a stoner?” or shrugging and claiming it’s something you already expected. But there is evidence in episodes that suggest Shaggy – and to an extent, his best buggy Scooby –are smoking weed. While it’s never visibly seen in the franchise, their personality and actions hint at the stereotypical stoner attitude.
While many people – including Matthew Lillard, the current voice actor playing Shaggy, and series creators Joe Ruby and Ken Spears – deny the theories, you can’t help but look at all the hints throughout the TV shows and its movies that support it. And based on the evidence we found, we think it’s possible.
1. His Huge Appetite and Love for Scooby Snacks
You’ll remember that part of Shaggy and Scooby’s loveable quality is their never-ending appetite and willingness to do anything for food, especially their Scooby Snacks. The series attributes this, based on their dialogue in Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island due to their constant state of terror always makes them hungry. And in Scooby-Doo! And the Monster of Mexico, Fred mentions that Shaggy can eat so much and maintain his slender physique is due to his high metabolism.
It seems like a convenient excuse, but their large appetite may be due to something else. Huge appetites induced by weed, commonly known as “the munchies,” are one of the well-known effects of getting high on weed. Marijuana’s active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol, stimulates appetites.
It’s also why Shaggy’s food cravings are a bit… odd. From an extra cheese pizza with pickles in Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo to chocolate-covered hot dogs and liverwurst, the show says it is due to Shaggy receiving a garbage disposal unit as a toy when he was younger. But in the book Pot Psychology: How to Be, the authors Tracie Egan Morrissey and Rich Juzwiak claim that when people get high and do not prepare their snacks ahead of time, stoners find whatever food they can, which includes making up weird food combinations or substitutes.
Oh, and while we’re on the topic of food, those Scooby Snacks? A cookie which, in Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins, Shaggy admits to making the recipe for? Yup, that’s right. If you don’t believe me, look at the 1988 series, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. Before they were called Scooby Snacks, they were called “Mellow Mutt Munchies.” A bit on the nose there, Hanna-Barbera.
2. His Personality
Shaggy’s personality is that of a cowardly, absentminded, and goofy but loveable character. But the reason why fans speculate on his weed habits is also due to his personality and how it matches the behavior of people under the influence of marijuana.
For someone so afraid of ghosts, Shaggy often fails to notice the ghoul in the room until it moves or screams. He tends to space out, and when it’s time for them to run, he and Scooby are often slow to respond. When they’re not looking for ghosts, Scooby and Shaggy tend to laugh and act giddy for the slightest reasons. It could just be part of their character, but their personality would easily be explained away when you consider they might be under the influence.
3. The “Hippie” Stereotype
From the van to his appearance, Shaggy was most likely modeled after the stereotypical hippie stoner stereotype in the ‘70s. They couldn’t show him smoking explicitly on a kids’ show, but they could use direct reference that only adults would understand.
Shaggy was always unkempt (hence, the name “Shaggy”), caring very little about hygiene or his facial hair. His hairstyle could be traced to the Beatnik stereotype of people who also smoked pot. He was always talking about food or the munchies. He always rambles, both in high and low speeds.
As for the van, it originally belonged to Fred, who was almost always seen as the one driving the Mystery Machine. However, in Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, Fred supposedly gave his van to Shaggy, who went on to solve mysteries with Scooby and Scrappy. The series took place in the late 1970s, and the idea of a stoner like Shaggy driving a windowless van decorated in the flower-power theme associated with hippies and marijuana during that time only drives the theory deeper.
4. Mary Jane is His Favorite Name
The theory that Shaggy is a stoner has been around as early as 2002 when director Raja Gosnell took that subtext and planned to hint at it throughout the live-action film, Scooby-Doo. According to Newsweek and Entertainment Weekly, he had shot several scenes as a running gag referencing his weed use, but those scenes were cut from the final film to make it more family-friendly. You’ll find the deleted scenes in home media releases
However, one scene remained which may have been a bit inappropriate for its PG-13 rating. When Shaggy, Scooby, and the rest of the Mystery, Inc. gang take an airplane to Spooky Island, Shaggy meets and instantly falls in love with a girl named (surprise, surprise) Mary Jane. Seems like an innocent coincidence, until you hear the rest of the dialogue.
“I’m Mary Jane,” she introduces herself. Shaggy then has a look on his face and exclaims, “Like, that is my favorite name!”
Given the running theories about Shaggy’s hobbies, they maybe should have removed this scene too if they didn’t want to further strengthen the argument for Shaggy as a stoner.
While Shaggy’s pastimes remain a subject of theory for now, it doesn’t change the fact that we enjoyed watching him and the rest of the gang solve mysteries and drive around in their iconic van. This growing interest also shows that, seeing the signs, references, and innuendos, we’ve never seen before, how much we’ve grown and understand more than we did in the past.