Scooby-Doo Returns is a 2016 American mystery comedy horror film based on the long-running Saturday morning cartoon Scooby-Doo. It is a sequel to the 2014 film Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? and a remake of the 2004 film Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. It starts Samuel L. Jackson, Jay Baruchel, Chris Zylka, Emma Stone and Ellen Page as well as Scarlett Johansson, John Lithgow and Robert Englund. The film was scored by Danny Elfman and directed by Brad Bird. There was a prequel released in 2018 called Scooby-Doo Begins.
Mystery Inc. attend the grand opening of the Crystal Cove Criminology Museum, having become celebrities after they solved the mystery of Spooky Island. They meet Heather Jasper Howe, a news reporter who bickers with Daphne, and then enter the museum and officially open an exhibit full of costumes of their former foes from past mysteries.
The occassion is interrupted when the Pterodactyl Ghost suddenly comes to life and breaks free. The gang tries to recapture it, but it evades them and then snatches the costumes of the Black Knight Ghost and the 10, 000 Volt Ghost. As the pterodactyl ghost escapes by smashing through a window and flying off into the night, a shadowy figure appears and and vows to destroy Mystery Inc.
While Howe begins a smear campaign against Mystery Inc. in the wake of the incident, Velma discovers a reptilian scale and tests it in a lab, where she is shocked to learn it is real. The gang try to figure out who the villain could be; Daphne suggests Johnathan Jacobo, the man who was behind the original Pterodactyl Ghost case, but Velma reveals that a year previously, Jacobo attempted to escape from prison using makeshift wings and promptly plummeted to his death. They then take a look at Jeremiah Wickles, the man who originally dressed up as the Black Knight Ghost, and decide to visit him at his mansion.
The gang arrive to find that Wickles isn't home, but his door is open so they take a look around. Scooby accidentally stumbles upon a clue when a sticky note becomes stuck on his paw; it reveals that Wickles is visiting the Faux Ghost, a local nightclub. However, their joy over the discovery is short lived when the Black Knight Ghost appears and chases them out of the house.
That night, Velma continues to analyse the scale, while Shaggy and Scooby head off to investigate the Faux Ghost. They are horrified to realise that the club is a spot for criminals who faced Mystery Inc. in the past to get together after Shaggy recognizes Aggie Wilkins (the Ghost of Witch McCoy), Harry the Hypnotist (the Ghost Clown) and C.L. Magnus (Redbeard's Ghost). They spot Wickles entering and follow him inside, disguising themselves. However, they are recognized soon enough and kicked out.
Later, Wickles leaves the club and heads over to the Old Tyme Mining Town. At the same time, Velma finds that the scale is made from something called randomonium before she, Fred and Daphne leave to go back to the museum. When they arrive however, they find that all of the other suits have been stolen by the Pterodactyl and Bkac Knight Ghosts. Howe leads the gathered crowd in booing the gang.
Shaggy and Scooby make their way to the Old Tyme Mining Town and learn what Wickles is really up to; he wants to turn the unused mine into a theme park for children. It is revealed that he when he became the Black Knight Ghost, he was stealing priceless pieces of art to sell on the black market in order to give the accumulated funds to charity. The two then leave and run into the others. Suddenly, they are all attacked by Tar Monster, Miner Forty-Niner and Captain Cutler's Ghost. While hiding, they come across a machine which brings the monsters to life and steal the control panel. They are then chased away by the 10,000 Volt Ghost before the Phantom appears and orders his minions to hunt Mystery Inc. down and not to rest until they find them.
Shortly thereafter, a ghost ship appears in the street as the monsters begin to invade Crystal Cove. Mystery Inc. skip town and retreat to their high school clubhouse. The Phantom appears on the ship and gives the people of Crystal Cove an ultimatum; either give up Mystery Inc. or everyone dies. Howe appears on the news with a mob of angered citizens pleading for the gang to turn themselves in.
In the clubhouse, the gang bond over how simple things were when they were younger and didn't know what they were getting in to. Having flirted awkwardly for the whole movie, Shaggy and Velma almost kiss when she suddenly has an epiphany and gathers the gang to inform them that they can use the control panel to reverse the effects of the machine and turn the monsters back into harmless costumes.
Mystery Inc. get in the Mystery Machine and race back into Crystal Cove in order to put an end to the Phantom's plans. However, after arriving at the mining town, they are seperated and chased by a gaggle of monsters. Fred and Daphne take on both the Black Knight Ghost and the 10,000 Volt Ghost, eventually managing to defeat them by zapping the 10,000 Volt Ghost with a pair of jumper cables, causing it to explode and take the Black Knight Ghost out with it. Scooby and Shaggy are chased by the Miner Forty-Niner but trick him into breathing fire at a gas canister, causing it to explode and burn him to death. Velma is chased by the Skeleton Men, but manages to dissambles their skeletal bodies.
The gang reunite at the monster making machine, only to be attacked by the remaining monsters. Each member of the gang tries to get the rewired control panel back to the machine, but each are incapacitated and must throw it to the next. Finally, it comes down to Scooby, who manages to reach the machine while also sending the Pterodactyl Ghost spiralling out of control, causing it to fly straight into the Tar Monster, where it drowns. Scooby then activates the machine before grabbing a fire extinguisher and freezing the Tar Monster's body solid. The rest of the monsters are then transformed back into costumes.
However, the gang then spot the Phantom watching just before the machine explodes, with the fireball blasting his mask apart to reveal Johnathan Jacobo. Jacobo tries to flee and a chase ensues, which culminates in Jacobo falling from a catwalk to his death.
With the villain defeated, the gang emerges from the mining town and are met by a large crowd. Among the crowd are Howe and Wickles. Howe continues trying to bad mouth Mystery Inc., when suddenly a policeman steps forward and announces that she is under arrest. Velma reveals that Howe was Jacobo's lover and her part of his revenge plot was to create bad press for the gang. It is then revealed that Jacobo faked his death during his supposedly failed prison escape and then set about hatching a grand scheme for retaliation. Howe is taken into custody and the gang are hailed as heroes. Unable to control himself any longer, Shaggy kisses Velma in front of the crowd to uproarious applause, with Scooby whistling.
Some time later, Shaggy and Velma are an item and the whole gang attends the grand opening of Wickles theme park.
- Samuel L. Jackson - Scooby-Doo (Voice)
- Jay Baruchel - Norville "Shaggy" Rogers
- Chris Zylka - Frederick "Fred" Jones Jr.
- Emma Stone - Daphne Blake
- Ellen Page - Velma Dinkley
- Scarlett Johansson - Heather Jasper Howe
- John Lithgow - Jeremiah Wickles
- Weird Al Yankovic - Johnathan Jacobo
- Robert Englund - The Phantom