Bedlam in the Big Top

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Bedlam in the Big Top
Premiere date: November 15, 1969
Music composed by: Ted Nichols
Directors: William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
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"Bedlam in the Big Top" is the tenth episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! season one. It aired on November 15, 1969 on CBS. It was produced and directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, the founders of Hanna-Barbera Productions.

The gang gets in way over their heads when they are enthralled by a hypnotizing ghostly clown.

Detailed summary

The Ghost Clown stands in the hills above Mr. Barnstorm's circus when he catches Samson the Strongman and Max the Midget on their tandem when it suddenly splits in the middle as if the clown caused it. The two carnies are noticed by Mystery Inc., who are driving by through the woods. They stop to assist, with Scooby saving Max who went flying into the branch of a tree; Scooby gets praise from everyone. Samson the Strongman and Max the Midget introduce themselves and explain they are leaving the circus because the circus is jinxed. Max warns them to get out of this part of the woods fast, but being naturally curious, Mystery Inc. head straight toward the circus and talk with the manager, Mr. Barnstorm, unaware that the Ghost Clown has witnessed all of this and laughs sinisterly. Mr. Barnstorm tells the kid a ghost clown is haunting the premises and will have to close it for a whole year, before also warning them to leave. Freddy, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy leave, but in the meantime, Scooby has caught the sight of the Ghost Clown's shadow, which leads him to be hypnotized by the clown's gold coin.

They arrive and split up to look for Scooby. Velma and Shaggy find Scooby balancing across the high wire in a trance. They manage to save him. Fred and Daphne go into the costume tent, and Fred is locked in a trunk by the clown. Daphne is then hypnotized. Velma and Shaggy find her riding a unicycle and wearing a ballerina costume. They save her as well, thanks to the spray of an elephant, and rescue Freddy. Then the gang set up a trap to capture the ghost clown in a cage, but it backfires, when the clown hypnotizes Shaggy and sets him taming lions, but Scooby saves Shaggy and they flee, with the clown in pursuit. They manage to lead the clown into the cage, but he vanishes from inside it.

Fred's frustrated cry unlocks Shaggy's memory; the clown uses a gold coin to hypnotize his victims. Going out again, the clown tries to hypnotize both Shaggy and Scooby, but the two counter-act with a mirror (while closing their eyes) and trick the clown into hypnotizing himself into acting like a chimp. They lure the chimp-clown into a cage and then unmask him as Harry the Hypnotist. Harry used to be a hypnotist in his own act with the circus, but he was caught stealing and was fired and imprisoned as a result. He came back to get revenge and dressed up as the ghost clown to do so.

Memorable quotes

Ghost Clown: You will pay attention for a time... and soon your thoughts shall all be mine. Watch the pretty coin of gold, and you will do as you are told.

Mr. Barnstorm: I know that man. He's Harry the Hypnotist. He had an act with us, but we caught him stealing and sent him to prison.
Velma: Looks like he wanted to get revenge.
Daphne: As the Ghost Clown, he knew he could ruin your circus.
Fred: He sure had us fooled with this balloon copy of the Ghost Clown. You see, he inflated it with this gas cartridge, and it disappeared when he deflated it.


Character debut Speaking debut Ep. debut No lines Mentioned

In order of appearance:

Character Actor
Ghost Clown/Harry, the Hypnotist Barry Richards
Max, the Midget Don Messick
Samson, the Strongman John Stephenson
Velma Dinkley Nicole Jaffe
Shaggy Rogers Casey Kasem
Fred Jones Frank Welker
Daphne Blake Stefanianna Christopherson
Scooby-Doo Don Messick
Mr. Barnstorm Don Messick







Joe Ruby and Ken Spears either wrote or story edited, as they were unable to remember what they specifically did past the fifth episode.[1]



The theme song, "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?" was performed by Larry Marks, with lyrics and music written by David Mook, while Ben Raleigh wrote the music, respectively. The rest of the music was composed by Ted Nichols, who was credited as the musical director.


Dates are in order of release:

  • United States: November 15, 1969 at 10:30 am on CBS

Behind the scenes


  • When Velma reacts to the tandem bicycle going out of control, Daphne's lips move (or at least just barely).
  • Samson points off to his left, saying that Max flew off the bicycle in that direction, yet Scooby finds him hanging from a tree off to the strongman's right.
  • Velma's mouth doesn't move when cheering for Scooby after he rescues Max.
  • It takes mere moments for the rest of the gang to get out of the van and out of its reach after Scooby saves Max.
  • At first, Max is standing behind Scooby, with Samson next to him, then suddenly Max is by Scooby's side, and Samson is gone.
  • While unhypontizing Scooby when the Ghost Clown says you shall not work in this circus his eye sockets turn yellow
  • When Shaggy says, "Don't tell me that there are two of them", his head is up instead of right.
  • The Clown's lips are colored red, but when hypnotizing Daphne, they suddenly turn grey. It does flicker red at the beginning of his sentence, though.
  • Perhaps for more detail, Daphne is not only given white sclera, but also blue irises when being hypnotized by the Ghost Clown.
  • When the Ghost Clown yells "Give me back that whistle", the black part of his costume is colored red.
  • Samson hangs onto the bicycle handlebars, keeping his arms in exactly the same position, even though the handlebars are no longer attached to the bike.
  • It is revealed in this episode that Daphne can't even ride a bicycle. However, she rode one in the The New Scooby-Doo Movies episode "The Dynamic Scooby-Doo Affair," very proficiently. Naturally, she could have practiced a lot since then.
  • Velma's fine with clowns in this episode, which contradicts the later produced What's New, Scooby-Doo? episode "A Terrifying Round with a Menacing Metallic Clown," in which claims she's had a phobia of clowns since her fifth birthday.
  • How did the gang not even realize that Scooby is not with them when they were leaving the circus? 
  • When the gang (minus Scooby) were leaving the circus with the Mystery Machine going from left to right it is obvious that the animators simply flipped the cells of it going from right to left. Unfortunately, this results in the steering wheel being on the left side and the gang being in the opposite positions (Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy from left to right) from where they should be when the animators change to the front view.
  • The Ghost Clown was controlling Scooby like a puppet but that is impossible to do since he just hypontized him.
  • The Clown attempted to convince the gang that there were two of them when they attempted to capture him. The Clown they captured was a balloon that was deflated to make it appear as though the Clown had disappeared into thin air, however, wouldn't the gang have seen the balloon in the cage once it had deflated? (Perhaps they did not check until after they had caught him?)
  • Right before the Clown is finally captured, Scooby and Shaggy hold up a mirror to prevent themselves from being hypnotized. The Clown should have stopped the hypnotism chant when he saw the mirror; instead, he hypnotizes himself.
  • Mr. Barnstorm states that the lions had begun acting like scared kittens, yet the one Shaggy tames seems to be acting perfectly normal. It is possible the Ghost Clown reversed his hypnosis on that lion, assuming this is why the lions were acting scared.
  • Shaggy says about going back to the hero sandwich in the cage (that the Ghost Clown balloon would be caught in), but there would be no reason why it would be there, especially since he would've surely eaten it not long after getting it.
  • Daphne says she hopes Scooby doesn't try the high wire again, even though she wasn't on-screen with Velma and Shaggy when it happened. It's possible she peeked inside the tent off-screen and saw Scooby on the high wire.
  • It is not revealed how the Ghost Clown/Harry the Hypnotist was brought out of his trance.
  • At the end of the episode, a young boy in the audience is inexplicably holding a balloon shaped similar to Scooby's head.

Everlasting influence

This episode has been adapted several times in the following decades:

Critical reception

In other languages

Language Name Meaning
French Le Fantôme du Clown The Ghost of the Clown
Greek Ο Κλόουν του Τσίρκου
Παλαβομάρες σε Σχοινί
The Clown of the Circus
Crack-braining on a Wire
Hungarian A bolond bohóc The crazy clown

Home availability


  1. ^ Joe Ruby and Ken Spears. Scooby Addicts. Retrieved April 15, 2020.