Put the Mystery Machine in the garage and send Scooby-Doo off to doggie day care, because Velma is here with a brand new take on the Scooby gang. The HBO Max animated series is set before there was any gang to speak of, and Scooby-Doo isn't even a consideration.
Executive producer Mindy Kaling's reimagining of Velma Dinkley as a surly high school outcast is far from the only shake-up among the original characters from the 1969 Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? cartoon. Daphne is Velma's bestie turned hated rival, Fred is a pampered doofus, and Shaggy isn't even Shaggy, he's Norville. The show is framed as an origin story of how Velma, in her words, assembled "the greatest team of spooky mystery-solvers ever."
The cast of Velma is full of talented actors whose voices you might instantly recognize, and those who will have you tearing your hair out trying to place where you've heard them before. Allow this cast roundup to be your guide. In addition to the below-listed performers, the ensemble includes Fortune Feimster (Champions), Shay Mitchell (Pretty Little Liars), and Debby Ryan (Insatiable) as Daphne’s fellow popular girls, Yvonne Orji as another queen bee, "Weird" Al Yankovic and NBA star Karl-Anthony Towns as high school boys, and Ming-Na Wen (The Book of Boba Fett) and Ken Leung (Industry) in a pair of undisclosed roles.
In the original Hanna-Barbera cartoon, Velma was the brainy one, who, despite constantly losing her glasses, was instrumental in the solving of many silly mysteries. She also said "jinkies" a lot. In this reboot/origin story, Velma is a surly high school outcast whose fondness for solving mysteries was passed down by her mother. (Her mother’s subsequent disappearance is becomes a source of trauma that haunts Velma — literally — throughout the show.) She's also embarrassingly attracted to Fred and holds a white-hot hatred for former friend Daphne. She's voiced by Mindy Kaling, the show's executive producer. Kaling first became known to American audiences as Kelly Kapoor on The Office, before getting her own sitcom, The Mindy Project. Since then, she's become a major producer and developer, with shows like Never Have I Ever, Champions, and Four Weddings and a Funeral.
In Velma's reimagining, Daphne is an Asian-American popular girl who used to be friends with Velma when they were younger. Now they're sworn enemies. She's voiced by Constance Wu, who broke through with her performance on the ABC sitcom Fresh Off the Boat, then garnered acclaim in the films Crazy Rich Asians and Hustlers.
In the original cartoon, Shaggy is a snacky, perpetual scaredy-cat whose best friend is a dog named Scooby-Doo. Many have speculated over the years that Shaggy is a stoner, but that's just your interpretation, man. In Velma, the character goes by his proper name, Norville. There's no "Shaggy" and no Scooby-Doo either. He's nerdy and awkward, but he's very available to help Velma in her various mystery-solving quests. He obviously has a huge crush on her, but she doesn't see it. He's voiced by Sam Richardson, the comedic actor best known for his roles as Richard Splett on Veep and Aniq on The Afterparty.
In the classic cartoon, Fred was mostly a preppie haircut and an ascot. Oh, and he also drove the "Mystery Machine" van, so there's that. There's no scientific data on this, but Fred was probably nobody's favorite Scooby-Doo character, which may be why Velma feels free to turn him into a privileged (yet hot) doofus. He's popular at school, but he's a terrible disappointment to his wealthy parents. He's voiced by Glenn Howerton, best known for his role as Dennis on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Aman is Velma's father, a successful lawyer who believes Velma's mother ran out on them and thus isn't terribly sympathetic to Velma's dogged investigation into her disappearance. Instead, Aman has moved on — he’s dating a hot, younger woman and is expecting a second child. His relationship with Velma is strained, to say the least. Aman is voiced by Russell Peters, the wildly successful Canadian comedian who in the last decade has crossed over into American success, largely via his Netflix specials.
Sophie is both a waitress and owner of Spooner's Malt Shop, the local hangout in Velma. She started dating Velma's dad, Aman, and is now expecting their first child together. She and Velma don't get along well, for obvious reasons, but also because Sophie has a habit of insulting Velma when trying to help her out. She's voiced by Melissa Fumero, who starred for eight seasons as Amy Santiago on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and most recently was on Netflix's Blockbuster.
Donna and Linda are Daphne's parents (Blay + Ke = Daphne Blake, get it?). They're a lesbian couple who adopted Daphne when she was a baby. They're also cops, which means they cross paths with Velma and whomever other teens are solving mysteries at that moment. Jane Lynch and Wanda Sykes, who are both out lesbians in real life, voice Donna and Linda, respectively. Lynch played the Emmy-winning role of Sue Sylvester on Glee before winning a few more Emmys as the host of Hollywood Game Night. She currently hosts The Weakest Link, and she'll be returning to Party Down when that show's revival debuts next month. Wanda Sykes is an acclaimed comedian best known for her stand-up specials, The New Adventures of Old Christine, and a ton of guest-star appearances on shows like The Other Two and black-ish.
William and Victoria Jones are Fred's wealthy and demanding parents. They're both major figures in the town thanks to the family business (men's accessories, a nod to Fred's notable ascot). When Fred runs afoul of the law later in the series, the scandal is almost too much for his parents to bear. William and Victoria are voiced by Frank Welker and Cherry Jones. Welker voiced Fred Jones in the original 1969 cartoon and in almost every animated incarnation of the show since. Cherry Jones, meanwhile, is a legendary actress — a two-time Tony Award winner and three-time Emmy winner known for her performances on 24 (as the President of the United States), The Handmaid's Tale, Succession, and films like Signs, The Village, and most recently as Tammy Faye Bakker's mother in The Eyes of Tammy Faye.
Blythe and Lamont are Norville's parents. Blythe is also the principal of the high school, while Lamont is the guidance counselor. They're played by Nicole Byer and Gary Cole. Byer is the Emmy-nominated host of Nailed It!, a frequent guest judge on RuPaul's Drag Race, and one of the stars of the NBC sitcom Grand Crew. Cole is best known for his comedic roles in films like Office Space or TV shows like Veep. Most recently, he just wrapped up The Good Fight, where he played the NRA-supporting husband of Christine Baranski's Diane Lockhart.
Sheriff Cogburn, perhaps named after Rooster Cogburn, the character played by John Wayne and then Jeff Bridges in True Grit and its remake, is the Sheriff in Crystal Cove. He's not exactly the most skilled lawman, and is prone to jump enthusiastically to the wrong conclusions. He's voiced by Stephen Root, who is currently starring as Fuches on Barry. He has also played Jimmy James on Newsradio, and he provided the voices of Bill Dauterive, Buck Strickland, and other characters on King of the Hill.
Diya is Velma's mystery novelist mother who went missing two years ago. In flashbacks, Diya is shown to be a warm and caring mother whose love of mysteries inspires her daughter. Her absence leaves a hole in Velma's life, causing a series of terrifying hallucinations that plague Velma. She's voiced by actress Sarayu Blue, who led the short-lived NBC sitcom I Feel Bad and starred in in the TNT medical drama Monday Mornings. Blue has also had roles in films like To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You and Blockers.
New episodes of Velma stream Thursdays on HBO Max. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.
Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.
TOPICS: Velma, HBO Max, Cherry Jones, Constance Wu, Frank Welker, Gary Cole, Glenn Howerton, Jane Lynch, Melissa Fumero, Mindy Kaling, Nicole Byer, Russell Peters, Sam Richardson, Sarayu Blue, Stephen Root, Wanda Sykes