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Yup, Velma is a lesbian. A new film removes any doubt.

Viral video clips from the new Scooby-Doo movie were met with enthusiasm by fans who had long considered Velma a queer icon

A scene from "Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo!" (Warner Bros Home Entertainment)
8 min

In just 13 seconds, a viral clip from the latest “Scooby Doo” movie, released on streaming services this week, settled decades of speculation and fan debates. Velma Dinkley is gay — undoubtedly, unambiguously gay.

The scene, clipped from “Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo!” and shared on Twitter Monday night, starts with Velma as we’ve always seen her: the short brunette bob and bangs; the black, rectangular glasses; that iconic bulky orange turtleneck and maroon pleated skirt. She strides past her fellow sleuths, Daphne Blake and Fred Jones, a box of Scooby snacks in hand to give to the eponymous Great Dane.

But mid-sentence, she trails off.

A lush orchestral arrangement starts playing. A series of captions pops up on the screen, highlighting different features of the woman standing in front of her, the costume-designing crime boss Coco Diablo: “Obviously brilliant!” Incredible glasses!” “Amazing turtleneck!” “Loves animals!”

Velma exhibits all the telltale signs of cartoon swooning. She blushes. Her eyeglasses fog. “Jinkiiiiees,” she sighs.

In a later scene, Velma professes her thirst for Diablo outright to her best friend, Daphne Blake.

“I’m crushing big time, Daphne. What do I do? What do I say?”

Trinity Wheeler, an 18-year-old student from Ontario, Canada, was the first person to share a clip from the new film online, adding the caption: “OMG LESBIAN VELMA FINALLY.”

About 48 hours later, her video had been played more than 5.5 million times and received more than 200,000 likes.

For Wheeler, the Scooby-Doo franchise has all the familiarity and comfort of a childhood blanket. She loves how reliable and predictable its formula is: each new storyline iterating on the same oddball group of friends, the same catchphrases, the same goofy villains who would’ve gotten away with it, “if it weren’t for those meddling kids.”

Watching the new movie with her family during dinner on Monday night, Wheeler was thrilled to see something new: the scenes of Velma affirming her attraction to women. So she shared a few clips on Twitter — as “proof,” finally, that Velma was queer. The responses have been overwhelmingly positive, she said.

“I was just hoping at least some of my friends would be like, ‘Oh that’s so exciting for you. Love that,’” Wheeler said. “I didn’t expect it to blow up.”

For those who have followed the long-running animated franchise, it was probably no surprise that Velma is a lesbian. Fans have heralded her as a queer icon, and previous Scooby-Doo writers and producers have tried to depict her as such for at least 20 years. In 2020, Tony Cervone, a supervising producer for the 2010-2013 animated series, “Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated,” shared an image of Velma in front of the Pride flag.

“We made our intention as clear as we could ten years ago. Most of our fans got it. To those that didn’t, I suggest you look closer,” Cervone wrote. In that series, Velma dates another member of the mystery-solving gang, Shaggy. But the intent was to show Velma acting “a little off and out of character” in that relationship, Cervone clarified in the comments.

“I’ve said this before, but Velma in Mystery Incorporated is not bi. She’s gay,” he wrote.

Weeks later, James Gunn, who wrote two live-action Scooby-Doo movies released in the early aughts, tweeted that he had written Velma as “explicitly gay in my initial script,” which he wrote in 2001. But he met pushback from Warner Bros., which owns the franchise.

“The studio just kept watering it down & watering it down,” Gunn said. He later deleted the post.

Audie Harrison, director of the new Scooby-Doo film, told NPR this week that Warner Bros. was “very supportive of this direction for Velma’s character from day one.”

“It honestly did not occur to [me] that we were doing something so groundbreaking until right now,” Harrison said. “I just set out to have fun with the comedy of an awkward teenage crush.”

The film comes at a time when LGBTQ representation in children’s media has reached an inflection point. Over the past decade, more animated shows have prominently featured queer characters, such as Nickelodeon’s “The Legend of Korra,” Cartoon Network’s “Steven Universe” and Netflix’s “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.”

How ‘The Legend of Korra’ changed the landscape of queer representation in animated shows

But the creators of these stories still have to fight for this representation, said Eve Ng, an associate professor at Ohio University whose work focuses on media, gender and sexuality.

Hollywood has long struggled to prominently feature queer characters and stories, but this representation has been especially fraught in children’s media, said Ng.

That’s because there’s a strong sentiment that children have to be “protected” from certain kinds of content, she said: “content that is too sexual, content that is too violent, content that has problematic language.”

“Because queer identity has often been over-sexualized, simply having a queer character often is seen as ‘too sexual,’ even if it’s just that they kiss or hold hands,” Ng said.

Ng cited “She-Ra” creator and showrunner N.D. Stevenson, who said he had to convince Netflix executives to get on board with his vision of progressing the show’s two female main characters from enemies to lovers.

Even “Legend of Korra,” widely acknowledged as a trailblazer for queer representation, did not make explicit in the show that its main character, Korra, had coupled up with her friend Asami — in the series finale, the two are last seen holding hands. Producers confirmed the relationship was romantic after the fact.

The 2022 Disney-Pixar film, “Buzz Lightyear,” highlights the controversy that still swirls around these depictions. The movie shows a same-sex kiss between two supporting characters — a first for the Hollywood juggernaut. The kiss had been edited out of film, but made it back to the final cut after LGBTQ employees publicly pushed to have it included. It was reportedly banned in 14 countries, and angry commenters left negative reviews for the film for pushing “gender ideology on kids.”

This partly explains why television has been a friendlier medium for queer representation. Studios have to weigh whether backlash or lack of interest could impact ticket sales, but it’s “a different kind of economics” for cable networks or streaming platforms, said Ng.

To work around these barriers, some creators would “queer code” characters — giving them a style or demeanor that runs “counter to heteronormative expectations,” but without explicit confirmation of their sexuality, said Ng. In other instances, these characters would have intense relationships with characters of the same gender, but would stop short of being explicitly romantic.

Velma may well be an archetype of the queer-coded character for many fans. She stood in contrast to Daphne, her tall, blonde, “conventionally attractive,” best friend — a dynamic not unusual in ensemble shows, said Ng. Velma wore her hair short, glommed onto logic and didn’t seem particularly pressed for a boyfriend.

“It’s less normative in terms of heterosexual femininity,” said Ng. And for some fans looking for queer representation, that was enough to generate theories about Velma’s sexuality.

Ng believes this new chapter for Velma is significant: Her on-screen romance is not “a blink and you’ll miss it” kind of flirtation — it’s sustained throughout the movie. Nor does the movie try to do too much — like rewriting the character’s history or altering the group dynamics, a common critique from those who oppose “woke” updates to beloved characters, Ng said.

Wheeler, the Scooby-Doo fan whose clips have been viewed by millions, said she sees herself in Velma, but not just because she’s gay.

Wheeler grew up “not knowing anything about my sexuality,” she said. She knew she wanted a romantic relationship, but also didn’t want a boyfriend. It didn’t click until recently that Wheeler felt that way because she was attracted to girls. Last year, Wheeler came out.

The teenager sees Velma’s path unwinding the same way: a young person many had assumed was straight slowly coming into her own queer identity. And along the way, revealing other layers to herself, too — the side that gets excited and flustered, or, in Velma’s case, so infatuated with her hot crush that her glasses melt off her face.

“She’s freaking out and it’s like, 'Oh, I completely, completely relate.’ ”


An earlier version of this article referred to N.D. Stevenson by his pre-transition name and pronouns. This version has been corrected.