Daphne and Velma’s Relationship in HBO Max’s Velma
HBO Max’s “Velma” isn’t your average Scooby-Doo show — and not just because there’s literally no Scooby-Doo in it. In the new animated series, which wrapped up its first season on Feb. 9, the world of Mystery Inc. gets an adult twist with Mindy Kaling, Sam Richardson, Glenn Howerton, and Constance Wu voicing the roles of Velma Dinkley, Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, Fred Jones, and Daphne Blake, respectively.
The series, which was developed by Charlie Grandy, with Kaling serving as an executive producer, has a more mature tone than classic cartoon specials and features bloody murders and even some nudity. But the biggest change to the beloved mystery-solvers cartoon comes at the end of “Velma”‘s second episode — when Daphne kisses Velma!
Here’s how it happens: The show’s plot follows Velma, who loves solving mysteries because her mom was a mystery writer. However, her mother went missing years back, and whenever Velma tries to solve a mystery now, she has terrifying, debilitating panic attacks. On top of that, Daphne and Velma used to be friends but had a dramatic falling out.
In the first two episodes, some girls at school are murdered and Fred is the number one suspect. But when Velma starts to investigate, those pesky panic attacks get in her way. At the end of episode two, Velma has another panic attack when Daphne gives her some info about her mom’s disappearance, and the latter can’t figure out a way for her to snap out of it — so she kisses Velma. The panic attack ends, and soothing music plays. Daphne then asks if it worked. Velma says it did, so they kiss some more while a heartbroken Norville watches from afar.
As the season progresses, Daphne and Velma’s relationship gets more complicated. In the aftermath of the kiss, they have a major fight about if Daphne thinks she’s too popular for Velma. Velma also struggles with how she wants to label her feelings, since she always had a crush on Freddie, and Daphne is dealing with her own abandonment issues. The duo make up but decide to stay friends and put their romantic connection on the back burner.
Yet their feelings for each other come up for both girls over and over again. In episode eight, they team up with Norville and his girlfriend, Gigi (voiced by Yvonne Orji), to follow some clues about the serial killer, and while Velma and Daphne are trapped in a cave, they agree to try out being girlfriends. In the cave, they find the disembodied brains of the murdered girls and ultimately rescue them — along with Velma’s mom, Diya (Sarayu Blue).
In episode nine, Velma is focused on getting her mom’s memories back with Norville’s help. Daphne and Fred agree to fake date so they can get their popularity back and then Daphne can introduce Velma to the world as her girlfriend. Velma becomes convinced that Norville’s dad is the serial killer and calls the cops, and Norville becomes furious and leaves their school. Meanwhile, Daphne and Fred kiss, and Velma is mad that Daphne would betray her, even though Daphne says it’s just a ploy. In the last episode, Velma listens to all the voicemails Norville left her and is touched by his friendship, and she leaves him a heartfelt one in return.
It all comes together in the season finale when Velma figures out that Fred’s mom, Victoria (Cherry Jones), is the real murderer, and she was looking for a brain to implant in Fred’s body to make him the capable son she always wanted. As Velma, Daphne, and Fred try to escape her clutches, Daphne tells Velma she loves her. “I love you, too, Norville,” Velma responds. Daphne is aghast, and Norville rushes in at that moment to save the day (and inadvertently kills Victoria).
In the aftermath, the four friends can’t be further apart, and they’re all fighting with each other. The show sets up season two, hinting that the mystery isn’t necessarily over and ghosts might be real after all. What this all means for Daphne and Velma’s relationship is unclear, but in the closing moments, they’re not together.
Daphne and Velma’s relationship — despite their estrangement in the season finale — is pretty huge for the world of Scooby-Doo, as the cartoon has been long held as a childhood classic. Many fans have been interpreting Velma as queer for years, and 2022’s “Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo!” showed Velma developing a crush on a woman she meets. Many fans celebrated the moment, as it was the first time the character was canonically queer.
However, that special didn’t include any implications about Daphne, who many fans have also viewed as queer for years. James Gunn even revealed in 2020 that in his original script for 2002’s live-action “Scooby-Doo: The Movie” (which stars Sarah Michelle Gellar as Daphne and Linda Cardellini as Velma), Velma was portrayed as gay and she and Daphne kissed.
It’s disappointing that season one of “Velma” doesn’t end with the two characters happily coupled, especially after it spent so much time building up their relationship. The finale nods to a second season that looks like it may explore their dynamic more, but given the turmoil at Warner Bros-Discovery in the wake of their merger, it’s not yet clear if the show will return for more episodes. If this is the end of Daphne and Velma’s canonical romance, that’s what fan fiction is for.