This past week, a significant number of netizens tacitly agreed that Shaggy from Scooby-Doo was the single most powerful being in the universe. This was something that I was willing to take at face value. Apparently, enough other people were willing to as well. A series of memes featuring an omnipotent Shaggy quietly (and then all at once) proliferated across Twitter, Tumblr and Reddit this past week in what is currently the best meme of 2019 thus far.
The notion that Shaggy, arguably the least capable but most integral member of Mystery Incorporated, is actually a being powerful enough to kill God is patently ridiculous (but also so, so right). While powerful Shaggy appeared seemingly out of nowhere within the past week, Polygon’s Petrana Radulovic reported the meme is rooted in a sequence from the 2011 movie “Scooby-Doo! Legend of the Phantosaur.” In one scene, a hypnotized Shaggy beats up a diner full of bikers twice his size. The sequence itself is a real treat. Shaggy calls a bunch of men with handlebar mustaches “punk” and saves a local girl’s lacrosse trophy.
It was first memed in 2017 when YouTube user Midya overlaid the clip with music from “Dragon Ball Super” that plays when Goku, the Dragon Ball series’ protagonist, reaches “Ultra Instinct” form (in layman’s terms, he becomes even more jacked and powerful). Radulovic argues, however, that it was a viral tweet depicting Shaggy holding Sasuke Uchiha from “Naruto” up against a wall (another January meme, roll with me here).
Powerful Shaggy is the best meme of 2019 so far because of its absurdity and relatability. Chances are, the vast majority of us, (“us” being millennials and Generation Z kids), grew up indoctrinated into the Scooby-Doo canon. Shaggy is an instantly recognizable figure, as are the actors that played the Mystery Inc. crew in the 2002 and 2004 live action films. One iteration of the meme edits screenshots from behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast of the live action films, imagining the actors describing Shaggy’s ability to warp realities and possess humans. Seeing the live action cast on my social media feed was a nice little thrill of nostalgic joy; seeing them describe Shaggy’s infinite power was the icing on the cake.
Ultimately, powerful Shaggy is successful because of its incredible absurdity. I wrote in September about how shitposting is the lingua franca of internet humor. Shitposting doesn’t get much better than everyone deciding the most canonically inept character in a franchise is suddenly the only one with the power to either kill or become God. Furthermore, the vast majority of powerful Shaggy memes depict Shaggy using only a fraction of his power while still achieving godlike feats. This begs the question: what does Shaggy look like at 100 percent power? Or even a 25 percent Shaggy? It’s inconceivable.
While we still have 11 months of memes ahead of us, powerful Shaggy is an early frontrunner for the best meme of the year. May he zoink on for eternity.