This interview is part of a series about the 50 greatest fictional deaths of all time. It has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Marissa Martinelli: What inspired your 2011 fanfiction, “Darkly Dreaming Scooby”?
Kris Johnson-Salazar (aka Wakegirl14): I should preface this by saying my family was super Catholic growing up. My sister got taken out of Catholic school because they were reading Harry Potter. My mom and dad would watch maybe NCIS or JAG, but nothing with a lot of bloodshed and gore. I don’t know how we convinced them to start watching Dexter, a procedural with a serial killer as the protagonist, but by Season 3, they were on board.
At the same time, my older sister was home from her first semester of college. She was very homesick, and I remember her asking my mom to send her VHS tapes of Scooby-Doo, because my mom used to tape a lot of Scooby-Doo for us when we were kids, and I guess she was nostalgic. She came back from college during winter break, and she was in full-on Scooby-Doo mode.
So I was watching a lot of Dexter. My sister was watching Scooby-Doo. The thing about Scooby and Dexter is, even though they’re very different, they’re both procedurals. I set it in Miami because of Dexter.
The fic’s synopsis now-famously starts “Scrappy Doo has been found dead in Miami, and Dexter and the team are on the case!” Why kill off Scrappy-Doo?
When that live-action Scooby-Doo movie came out in 2002, I think it was around that time that Scrappy-Doo became hated. Scrappy-Doo is kind of a Jar Jar Binks. Kids probably don’t mind him, but adults hate him. I think we felt like, Scrappy sucks, and he should die. No one likes Scrappy. So we said, “OK, we have our body.”
The actual villain was an obscure character—and honestly I didn’t leave enough breadcrumbs in the fanfic for people to know it was going to be him—called Flim-Flam. He was in The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, which was a failed TV series. Flim-Flam was this kind of street-smart kid who was a little bit of a brat. I didn’t know much about him, but my sister thought he was annoying and no one would suspect he’s the villain.
I actually haven’t read my fanfiction in a decade, because I was too embarrassed, so I had to reread it for this interview, and I was laughing. What was 2011 me thinking?
When did you realize that the first line of the fic’s synopsis had gone viral thanks to a Twitter bot that tweets out-of-context lines from fanfiction?
I had kind of forgotten about it for a couple of years. It was like, “Oh yeah, I wrote a fanfiction,” kind of embarrassed. Fanfiction, especially for young teenage girls, that’s your route for creativity, but everyone shames it and everyone shits on you for writing fun, creative stuff. Now we’re looking back and realizing that we were too hard on teenage girls and should let them have fun and be goofy.
Why do you think so many people are taken with that one specific line?
People really hate Scrappy-Doo. Also, it’s Florida. Whenever you see a thing like “alligator flips over man,” I don’t know, or in this case Scrappy-Doo being dead, it makes sense that it’s Florida. And the thing about memes is people are always adding to it, which is awesome, because it’s always growing.
But 2014, 2015 when it was going around, I was just totally unaware of that. When the new Star Wars movie was coming out, there were all these memes with the opening, you know, Star Wars, Episode Whatever: The Force Awakens, and then the title crawl. And then I saw one of those memes that said, “Scrappy-Doo has been found dead in Miami.” And I thought, Oh, that sounds kind of familiar.
But you didn’t recognize it as your own writing?
I went and looked through the comments on the fanfic. Someone read the first couple chapters of it out loud on YouTube. I was like, “Yikes, there’s spelling errors, I don’t want to hear it.” It was wild. I was super late to it. I didn’t realize it was that big. I’m sure that happens to a lot of people, like a lot of people take a funny picture and it gets circulated around the internet and then a loved one says, hey, did you know you’re famous for such and such face?
I’m in my mid-20s now, and looking back at the Scrappy-Doo stuff, I don’t feel embarrassed anymore that I wrote it. I don’t feel like a weirdo like I did when I was in high school. I mean, everyone feels like a weirdo in high school. But the embarrassment of writing a fanfiction and only telling close friends—and no one wants to read it, because no one wants to read your trash from when you were 15.
Memes get out of hand and you don’t really get recognized for it as the creator—and sometimes you don’t want to get recognized for it, sometimes you do. I always think about the woman who created “on fleek” and tried to reclaim it. I feel for her. You definitely see wanting to be recognized, but without the people who spread the meme, it wouldn’t be important. That’s how I have to see it. Yeah, I created the meme, but without the Tumblr page with the reply or the out-of-context Twitter or the people who drew pictures of Scrappy-Doo being dead or whatever, there’d be no meme. Anyone can use the format, “so-and-so found dead in Miami,” and I can’t stop them. If I did, that would kill the meme. I don’t want to kill the meme. I don’t want to kill Scrappy-Doo again.
Read more about the 50 greatest fictional deaths of all time, including picks from Johnson-Salazar, Stephen King, and more.