James Gunn Had a Plan for R-rated Scooby-Doo 3, and It Was Terrible

James Gunn Had a Plan for R-rated Scooby-Doo 3, and It Was Terrible
Image credit: Legion-Media

Is it really a good idea to take a property originally intended for kids and make it R-rated? History says no.


  • The live-action Scooby-Doo movie series had two installments; the third film was canceled even though Gunn already had it all planned out in his head.
  • Scooby-Doo 3 could be R-rated, and Warner Bros. would allow it.
  • Gunn says the new mystery would see Scooby and Shaggy go through an existential crisis, according to Gunn.
  • This approach would hurt the franchise and cause the movie to flop.

The Scooby-Doo media franchise has had its share of ups and downs. What began in 1969 as a children's cartoon about four mystery-solving teenagers and their talking dog has gained a cult following over the years and seen many reboots and remakes, including the live-action film series directed by Raja Gosnell and written by James Gunn.

While the first installment in the series, 2002's Scooby-Doo, became a box office hit and garnered some positive reviews, its sequel, 2004's Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, was not nearly as successful, with both profits and opinions about it too low for the franchise to continue.

As a result, Warner Bros. canceled the third film, which, according to Gunn, was all planned in his head. And to be honest, from what the screenwriter says about it, the cancellation may have been for the best.

R-rated Movie On The Cards

Talk of rebooting the film franchise resurfaced after Matthew Lillard, who played Shaggy in the two-film series, told Toofab in 2022 that a more violent, R-rated new movie with an original cast would be fun and that an R-rated third installment was actually being discussed at the time the second entry was being filmed.

James Gunn then tweeted in response to a fan question that Warner Bros. would probably have given the sequel the go-ahead if he and the team were up to it, but they just didn't have the time.

James Gunn Had a Plan for R-rated Scooby-Doo 3, and It Was Terrible - image 1

Scooby-Doo 3's Possible Plot

In 2020, Gunn participated in a Twitter-based Q&A session with fans and revealed what the third installment would be about if it were to happen.

'The Mystery Ink gang are hired by a town in Scotland who complain they're being plagued by monsters but we discover throughout the film the monsters are actually the victims & Scooby & Shaggy have to come to terms with their own prejudices & narrow belief systems. (Yes, Really!),' the filmmaker wrote in a now-deleted tweet since shared elsewhere in the media.

Failure Guaranteed

The story Gunn describes sounds off and out of character. What's wrong with Scooby and Shaggy's belief system, really?

Let's face it: the whole idea of an R-rated Scooby-Doo feels dumb. The story of the teenage gang is not slasher movie material, and it would open the door to unnecessary sexual content that wouldn't improve the characters in any way, instead simply turning them into sad adults with grown-up issues.

The comedy, lightheartedness, and fun are essential to the franchise. If you try to make something too serious, you run the risk of having all your comic relief fall flat, as Mindy Kaling's recent failed attempt proved.

Sources: Toofab, Collider, Twitter.

Would you watch an R-rated Scooby-Doo?