Daphne comes from a wealthy family, but ever since her teenage years has traveled with Mystery Inc., the group of teenage investigators of the paranormal. This group also includes Fred Jones, Velma Dinkley, Shaggy and the dog Scooby-Doo.
Her first appearance was in the animated television show Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! in 1969. Her first appearance in comics was in Scooby Doo … Where Are You? #1 in 1970. It was published by Gold Key.
As opposed to the other characters in the Scooby Doo stories, she has undergone as fair amount of character development. She started off as a klutzy character (often used for character relief) and gained the name “Danger-Prone Daphne.” Later she would become a journalist, a fashionista and a martial arts expert. Her character development is complicated further by the fact that much of what occurs to her in other mediums is considered canon though it is never referenced as such. So while the early appearances of the character were klutzy in the television series, later series depicted her as a capable hand-to-hand combatant, but this was simply accepted as a change in the comics without explanation.
One of the constants about her is her costume. Although the costume of all the Mystery Inc. members has not changed much, her is perhaps the most indicative of the time when the characters were designed. It has certain characteristics true to the mod era of fashion with the colour, length and cut of the dress as well as her distinctive pink pantyhose (though this is occasionally depicted as pink knee high socks.) The association of purple with the character is generally maintained throughout her appearances, thus while on assignment in Hawaii she wears a purple bikini. In recent years her character has become more in line with modern clothing and depiction, with more revealing clothing than what was once deemed acceptable.
The Scooby Doo stories over the years have changed from time-to-time. Whereas originally the series was known for the characters uncovering frauds and never actually encountering a real supernatural entity, in later years the characters did indeed come into contact with ghost and other creatures of the night. Generally speaking though the characters are best known for exposing frauds and not for finding actually supernatural phenomenon.
As opposed to the other characters in the Scooby Doo franchise her family life is also extremely well detailed with no less than fourteen relatives identified including her sisters – Daisy, Dawn, Dorothy and Delilah.
There is often a romance hinted at between her and Fred but nothing has ever come of it.
Major Story Arcs
As with many cartoon characters that have transitioned from television to comics, the continuity of stories between issues for all Mystery Inc. characters is not very well maintained. Most of the television series aired in either a single or double episode mystery and the same generic format is held between comics. This has meant that there is little continuity for her as a comic book character. This is also confused by the fact that the Mystery Inc. characters have passed between various publishing companies with Gold Key, Marvel, Archie Comics and DC Comics being the major ones. At present DC Comics has the rights to her character as well as the others from the Mystery Inc. team.
Powers and Abilities
Daphne is a regular human being with no superpowers. Although not the most gifted of the Mystery Inc. detectives, she nonetheless has a sharp mind for detective work. She is also depicted as a strong hand-to-hand combatant. She also has some ability to pick locks or otherwise gain access to in accessible areas. To this end she often carries some small equipment in her purse.
Her other skills are not always as well defined and often show up on a case-by-case basis and are not often referenced. For instance, when investigating an underwater mystery it might be revealed that she (and the other members of the team) are all trained SCUBA divers, although their ability to do so would have never been referenced before. Other examples could include a prowess at surfing when they were on assignment in Hawaii.
She has the most appearances of any character in the Scooby Doo stories outside of Shaggy and Scooby. This is due in large part to her inclusion in the Scooby Doo and Scrappy Doo series. With ratings falling in the late 1970s, a smaller version of Scooby Do was introduced, his nephew Scrappy. The show was eventually retooled to only include Scooby, Scrappy, Shaggy and Daphne.
Sarah Michelle Gellar portrayed Daphne in two movie in 2002 and 2004. Her real life husband Freddie Prinze Jr. portrayed Fred Jones, as a nod to the romance implied between the two.