There aren’t many animated mysteries as iconic and long-running as Scooby Doo. The Great Dane and the Mystery Gang have stood the test of time as the most recognizable and light-hearted mystery series for kids. As the classic for fans of animation and mystery, Scooby-Doo carries with it a sense of nostalgia that isn’t easy to shake off – but why would you want to?
But just because Scooby-Doo dominates the animated mystery genre for kids doesn’t mean it’s the only movie and TV franchise to collect the gang, find the clues, and unravel mysteries. Shows that range in maturity, tone, and animation styles are worthy contenders. From superhero sleuths to forgetful fish, the hardest part of all is deciding which one to watch next!
The Great Mouse Detective
When a toymaker is suddenly kidnapped, his daughter Olivia (Susanne Pollatschek) seeks the help of the infamous mouse detective, Basil of Baker Street (Barry Ingham). With the help of expert surgeon Dr. David Q. Dawson (Val Bettin), Basil discovers that the kidnapping may be related to Ratigan (Vincent Price), a criminal he has been tracking for years. As the clues converge and Basil gets closer to the truth, he discovers that all of Mousedom may be in danger.
A fun and clever love letter to the detective stories of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes (whose dog even makes a cameo), this movie is a classic that’s fun for kids and adults alike.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers
What better duo to start a detective agency than two squirrels looking for adventure? Devoted leader Chip (Tress MacNeille) and his more casual partner Dale (Corey Burton) use their detective skills to solve mysteries and save lives, along with their friends, Gadget (also Tress MacNeille), Monty (Peter Cullen/Jim Cummings), and Zipper (also Corey Burton), and an extensive collection of characters, recurring or not. Each episode is a self-contained mystery that takes you on an adventure and regains the status quo at the end, solving each case with a fun little bow.
With strong character tributes to Indiana Jones and Magnum PIthis series is pure fun every episode, for bite-sized pieces of mystery.
Pokemon Detective Pikachu
When 21-year-old Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) discovers that his detective father has been killed in a car accident, his father’s Pokemon partner, Detective Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds), seems to be telling him that something strange is going on. Pikachu believes that Tim’s father is still alive; together, Tim and Pikachu work on the case to find the truth, but the further they dig into the mystery in Ryme City, the darker the truth becomes, causing mistrust and self-doubt.
Based on the hugely popular pokemon franchise and the video game of the same name, this film builds on a strong mystery while retaining the initial charm of Pikachu and the other “pocket monsters.” While most of the movie is live-action, the animated Pikachu is cute, fuzzy, and fun.
dory (Ellen DeGeneres), an absent-minded royal blue tang fish with short-term amnesia, has no idea how to get back to her family or even where they are — until a flashback reveals a California location. Found family together with her clownfish, Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden roll), Dory goes on a research adventure to find her parents and remember her life before she lost them. Her journey leads her to an aquarium where she finds new friends and allies – and old memories.
Leave it to Pixar to create a really fun and heartwarming feature film based on a tragic throw-away rule from a comedic sidekick in Finding Nemo. Not exactly your classic detective mystery, Dory still uses her investigative skills to combat her short-term amnesia, making for a captivating and beautiful sequel to an already critically acclaimed hit.
In the bustling, forward-thinking city of Zootopia, predators and prey live in harmony — that is, until predators “go wild,” leading to disappearances and attacks across the metropolis. Bunny Officer Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) takes on the case of a missing otter who stands up as a godmother girl and fulfills her dream of becoming a big city police officer. She enlists the help of the swindler (swindler?) Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) to get to the bottom of the disappearances before the city turns against itself.
With clever use of an animal-led story about a buddy agent, this mystery takes a light-hearted look at real-world social problems while following an intriguing plot on a wild adventure across the animal kingdom.
Marcel the shell with shoes on
Of everything documentary maker Dean (Dean Fleischer Camp) he expected to find in his new home at an Airbnb, a tiny, sentient shell with a googly eye and miniature shoes living in the sock drawer, were not among them. Marcel de Schel (Jenny Slate) and his grandmother Nana Connie (Isabella Rossellinic) started living on their own after the disappearance of their entire family, who were accidentally taken by a previous tenant. While Marcel helps Dean film and Dean helps Marcel find his family, Nana Connie’s health begins to deteriorate, adding an extra dose of urgency to the story. Marcel holds hope for finding his family, but even internet fame and help from the world may not be enough to find what he’s lost.
Based on the original stop-motion shorts created by Camp and Slate, this theatrical release features a whole new story about Marcel the shell and his adorable adventures.
Twelve year old DJ (Mitchell Musso) has always been fascinated by his neighbor, the old Mr. Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemic), who drives kids away from his lawn and steals the toys from anyone who gets too close. But on the eve of Halloween, DJ accidentally becomes the catalyst for Mr. Nebbercracker’s heart attack. While DJ struggles with his guilt, the house across the street comes to life and eats unsuspecting children who stray too close. With the help of his best friend Chowder (Sam Lerner) and sarcastic girl scout Jenny (Spencer Locke), DJ must find a way to figure out how the house came to life and kill it before Halloween or any kid in the neighborhood will walk into the monster’s mouth.
Coupled with just the right amount of horror and eerie computer animation, this mystery stands out as both hilarious and truly scary. It’s the perfect watch for a family Halloween movie night!
When Marnie was there
After the death of her parents, Anna (Hailee Steinfeld) has had problems with self-esteem, even in her loving foster family. When she has an asthma attack at school, Anna spends the summer with her foster parents’ family by the sea. One night she meets Marnie (Kiernan Shipka), a blond girl about her age, and the mystery surrounding her new boyfriend gives Anna plenty to explore over the summer. The more Anna discovers about Marnie, the more she begins to understand her own past and identity, giving this mystery a deeply personal touch.
Studio Ghibli has always been a master at capturing ethereal, whimsical moments beyond the ability to explain, and the unknowable surrounding Marnie’s appearance adds an even more mysterious element to the story.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
A new vigilante has appeared in Gotham: the Phantasm, a vengeful figure who takes out criminals faster than Batman (Kevin Conroy) can contact them. As the Phantasm leaves dead criminals in its wake, police officers begin to blame Batman for the murders, prompting the caped crusader to bring in this new masked man. But the Phantasm is always one step ahead, putting Bruce’s detective skills to the test. With his cape and hood on a leash, Batman must discover the identity of the Phantasm and stop him from continuing to kill before it’s too late.
Interspersed with contemporary mystery are memories of Bruce’s early days as Batman and a blossoming romance with the lovely Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delaney) — a relationship doomed to be sacrificed for Batman’s crusade for justice. This is a sky-high stakes Batman animated film that takes a look at how Bruce Wayne became Batman.
Primary school twins Mable (Kristen Schaal) and Bear (Jason Ritter) Pines are sent to spend the summer with their reclusive con man great-uncle, Grunkle Stan (Alex Hirsho), in the middle of the town of Gravity Falls, Oregon. Initially horrified at the prospect of spending his entire summer under the “care” of Grunkle Stan, Dipper soon discovers that Gravity Falls is full of strange and supernatural happenings, from leprechaun armies to ghosts and creepy monsters to the strange townspeople. With Dipper’s unending curiosity and excitement for these quirks and Mable’s manic energy (and love for quirky sweaters), the mysterious twins set out to uncover the city’s secrets — and hopefully find the author of their journaled guidebook.
This series was clearly created with a lot of passion and love for puzzles and codes and uses both episodic storylines and long arcs to tell the mysterious story. You’ll never want summer to end!