Courage the Cowardly Dog

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Narrator: We interrupt this program to bring you...Courage the Cowardly Dog Show, starring Courage, the cowardly dog! Abandoned as a pup, he was found by Muriel, who lives in the middle of Nowhere with her husband, Eustace Bagge! But creepy stuff happens in Nowhere. It's up to Courage to save his new home!
Eustace: Stupid dog! You made me look bad! (pulls out mask) OOGA BOOGA BOOGA!

From the mind of animator John R. Dilworth came this Cartoon Network original series, spun off from Dilworth's animated short "The Chicken From Outer Space".

The title character, the high-strung and inexplicably pink canine Courage, is the beloved pet of Eustace and Muriel Bagge, an elderly couple who live on a dusty old farm in the middle of Nowhere (literally; they live in Nowhere, Kansas). Well, he's the beloved pet of the sweet-hearted Muriel, anyway; the mean and crotchety Eustace thinks he's just a "stupid dog", and torments Courage whenever he thinks he can get away with it (and even when he knows he can't).

In every episode, Courage and his family find themselves caught up in some form of supernatural weirdness, and Courage has to steel his frazzled nerves and save his owners from it. A refreshing change of pace from many cartoons of the day was that Courage seldom used force; more often, he relied on his wits (and a bit of kindness now and then) to deal with aliens, ghosts, monsters, the military, science gone wrong, or whatever sort of freaky happenings life threw at him.

As a rather interesting note, this is one of the very few cartoons that aired in the 1990s-early 2000s that Cartoon Network still reruns on a fairly frequent basis.

Tropes used in Courage the Cowardly Dog include:
  • Acme Products: "Dil" Products, actually. It applies to certain things like blowtorches, vacuum cleaners, alkaline batteries, power cables and in one case, an entire grocery store.
  • Adored by the Network: Quite possibly. Cartoon Network decided the pilot should become its own series, and the show has spanned four entire seasons without a single threat of having it yanked off the air, despite its scary nature. This show is also one of the few cancelled originals to still air on a regular basis.
    • Also, after the show completed its four-season, 52-episode run (typical for most cartoon series on cable networks such as Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon), many fans petitioned for a continuation, which both the network and John R. Dilworth considered, but ultimately, Dilworth decided not to continue with any further episodes or seasons.
      • On the same token, a (possibly theatrical) movie was confirmed to be in the works, however, it never came to fruition.
  • Adult Fear: Courage's parents get sent to Pluto and he's all alone until Muriel finds him.
  • Affably Evil: Freaky Fred. A psychopathic man with a Slasher Smile, but his amusing rhyming makes him one of the more entertaining villains. Besides, all he really does is shave people and animals bald.
  • All Just a Dream...OrWasItADream: "Cowboy Courage".
  • Exclusively Evil: Birds, it would seem.
  • Always Someone Better: Eustace's brother Horst, who was better at pretty much everything.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: The titular dog is pink with black spots.
    • Also, Katz is a fire engine red cat with purple stripes, Shirley the Medium is a green chihuahua, the Duck Brothers are bright blue with green, purple, and red eyes and neck markings, and there has been a chicken with an electric blue wattle (Although, to be fair, the chicken and ducks were from outer space. Maybe they're the fowl versions of Human Aliens?)
  • Ask a Stupid Question: Courage always does this with the computer, though he isn't really asking a stupid question, it's how the computer interprets it. Here's an example:

Courage: Computer. How do you get rid of bad eggplants?
Computer: Throw them in the garbage. You twit.

  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Dr. Vindaloo.
  • Asshole Victim: Eustace
  • Audio Erotica: Katz, captivating his victims with his smooth sexy voice before he, you know, kills them.
    • The Spirit of the Harvest Moon with his hot and deep voice can be frightening and cool at the same time.
  • Aw, Look -- They Really Do Love Each Other Eustace & Muriel due to marriage counseling in the episode "Mcphearson Phantom".
  • Bag of Holding: Muriel has one, seen in "Curse Of Shirley".
  • Bald of Evil: Eustace and his mother, although it's really more bald of Jerkass.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty: A non-quote example: the instrument in the last episode is a bugle, not a trumpet, as it's commonly assumed.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Eustace, of all people, actually gets a few. He flies past the sun Courage and Muriel are on riding a comet which lets them all get back to Earth, and in another episode pretty much saves the day against Katz.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: Muriel, Eustace, and Courage respectively.
  • Black Comedy: The entire animated series itself.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: The Harvest Moon's spirit has these and so does his lips. However it would be more correct call this Black Scary Eyes since he's not evil, at least not completely.
  • Blind Without'Em:
    • Eustace; he once got dragged halfway across the world without him knowing it.
    • Important plot point: Eustace was cursed to be rained on until he showed generosity, and the rain got so bad that it was flooding the Bagge house and threatening to destroy it. So later in the episode, when Eustace loses his glasses, he looks at Courage and sees a young child (presumably himself as a young 'un, given the appearance) being rained on; he feels sorry for "the child" and gives him his hat, a selfless act that ends up stopping the rain curse.
    • Muriel is apparently deaf as well, "You know I can't hear without my glasses, Courage." Although that makes more sense when you remember that Courage has to rely on gestures to communicate.
  • Body Horror: There are quite a lot of episodes that have this. Especially most of Courage's screams which would result in this. However, the episode that provokes this the most is the episode "Cabaret Courage".
  • Brawn Hilda: Muriel gets mistaken for a Valkyries by an entire race of Brïnnhilde-esque Valkyries. Not to mention that the Valkyrie the sisters thought Muriel was, was actually named Brïnnhilde.
  • Broken Record: Bushwick's Suspiciously Specific Denial and My Name Is Not Durwood routine.
  • Brown Note: King Ramses' second curse. Out of universe it's actually considered hilarious, but in universe it's horrifying enough to be considered worse than the water plague.
    • Theres also this:

It's Doc Gerbil's World, It's Doc Gerbil's World, It's Doc Gerbil's World, It's Doc Gerbil's World...

  • Butt Monkey: Courage. Eustace totally deserves everything that happens to him.
    • Eustace may be a jerk, and his actions later in life are pretty much inexcusable, but to say he's entirely responsible is a bit harsh. His father was basically nonexistent, off chasing whales, his mother verbally and physically abused him, and his older brother left home as soon as he could to go be rich, and never share any of that with the family, only laugh at Eustace's fate. He had a pretty bad upbringing.
  • The Cassandra: Courage, he always notices that something is evil, while Muriel and Eustace usually are ignorant of it.
  • Catch Phrase: Usually using the same sound clip. Some like "The things I do for love!" and "What do I do? What do I do!?!" for Courage and "Stupid Dog!" for Eustace.
    • He has another one that tends to go something like "Something weird's going on here, or my name's <strange, non-sequitir, or just plain incorrect name>! ...And it's not."
  • Cats Are Mean: Recurring nemesis Katz.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Believe it or not, this particular example took several seasons to develop. It's his uncanny ability to scream, which he uses to defeat the villains, who themselves forced Courage into developing his "talent" for years.
    • The Happy Plums from "Tower of Dr. Zalost" also count.
    • Also the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich (with just a 'wee' dash of vinegar) from "Tulip's Worm".
    • Muriel's tears in "Queen Of The Black Puddle".
    • Eustace's chair in "Klub Katz".
    • Muriel's homemade fabric softener in "Curtain of Cruelty".
    • Eustace's memory quilt in "The Quilt Club".
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Basil is a burglar who flips back and forth between robbing Courage, Muriel, and Eustace and thinking they're his family. After they convince Basil to give FISH.
    • Fred and Dr. Vindaloo.
  • Collapsing Lair: "The Tower of Dr. Zalost".
  • Come Back, My Pet: Courage routinely does this for Eustace, who routinely scares and abuses him. However, it's less out of the goodness of his heart and more because of his devotion to Eustace's wife Muriel.
  • Companion Cube: Computer. While he, if his speaking isn't just Courage's delusion, may be treated as a living character, it's still a computer.
    • The episode "Mega Muriel the Magnificent" contradicts this, it isn't Courage's imagination after all.
  • Completely Missing the Point:

Eustace: Did you break that door?!
Courage: Ooooh, forget the DOOR!!

  • Conspicuous CG: The carriage from the mattress episode, the anvil from the precious duckling episode, and the rug in the living room. Most notable in "The Queen of the Black Puddle" where the Black Puddle Queen bumps her head onto the rug when trying to catch Courage and Eustace. Also King Ramses. "Hard Drive Courage" takes it to an extreme by having Courage animated in CGI when he first enters cyberspace- though here, it's justified: he's rendered in computerized graphics inside said computer.
  • Context Sensitive Button: Goes on all the time.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: "Ball of Revenge".
  • Continuity Nod: The events that happened in "The Snowman Cometh", "Freaky Fred", and "The Queen of the Black Puddle" were mentioned in the episode "Mega Muriel the Magnificent".
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: In a number of episodes. For example, in "Ball of Revenge", Katz puts colour and white clothing together in the washing machine. Muriel's screaming ensues.
  • Cowardly Lion/The So-Called Coward: Courage, of course.
  • Crapsack World: It's hard to expect any good definition to come out of "The Middle of Nowhere", but any backwater in a horror plot is screwed; guaranteed.
  • Creator Cameo: Dilworth himself makes appearances in many of the still photographs that pop up here and there in the show.
  • Cyberspace: Played straight in "Hard Drive Courage". On an interesting note, Cyberspace is depicted as the actual inside of a computer. You know, chips, motherboards, the usual. Plus a lot of green binary code.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Not all the monsters Courage meets are Exclusively Evil or hostile - some of them are just Chaotic Neutral or even friendly. In fact in some cases they even need Courege's help.
  • Darker and Edgier: This could be disputed, as the entire series was darker than most other animated series; however, most episodes from the final season are significantly more dramatic in nature compared to other seasons, especially the first. "The Mask" is the best example of this.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Courage's Computer, as well as Shirley the Medium.
    • Katz can be rather snarky as well. "Pity..."
  • Death by Cameo: Among his many cameos in the show, John Dilworth's name appears on the list of people who checked into the Katz Motel.
  • Demon Head: That girl who played the violin in "Courage in the Big Stinkin' City".
  • Deranged Animation
  • Designated Victim: If the Monster of the Week can terrorize Muriel in any way, it will.
    • Eustace is also a likely target. Unlike Muriel, he's also less likely to be saved from said monster or disaster.
  • Determinator: Courage himself. On the long run, he faced uncountable nemesis and supernatural weirdness, and yet he stands by Muriel out of feelings of love and gratitude. This is even more obvious on the Mega-Courage episode, where he squares-off against a robotic version of himself said to be better in everything. Despite getting brutally beaten over and over again by the robot, Courage just stays there, taking it all, and indeed that's exactly what enables him to win.
    • Justified, as the one time he did run away from those he cared for, he lost them. Forever.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • In "Revenge of the Chicken From Outer Space", the way Muriel is heard screaming after the Chicken captures her makes it sound like she's being raped.
    • In "Freaky Fred", it's quite easily to interpretate Fred's poem as ramblings of an insane serial-rapist. Not to mention the whole "locked in a bathroom" thing...
  • Downer Ending: In "The Great Fusili", Courage fails to stop Muriel and Eustace from being turned into puppets. Also, "Muriel Blows Up".
  • Early Installment Weirdness: A number of the first season episodes have a lot of tradition cartoon antics (chases scenes, slapstick violence, etc), and can actually become quite goofy at times, with John Dilworth himself admitting a number of the earlier episodes were "cartoon filler".
  • Eldritch Abomination: That giant starfish that eats cities and won't stop until hearing Muriel speak.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Though he's not exactly evil, Freaky Fred's refusal to shave an animal's tail on the grounds that "it would be weird" definitely counts.
  • Evil Albino: The Harvest Moon, althought he's not really evil. He's more like Scary Albino.
  • Evil Laugh:
    • The King of Flan had an epic one.
    • Dr. Zalost got a good one, too.
    • Katz had a great sadistic one.
    • Le Quack had a french version of one.
  • Evil Matriarch: Eustace's mother.
    • Her first appearance did portray her as sympathetic after Eustace comforts her when she loses her hair.
    • Eustace's brother was a jerk thanks to her "love". Guess who she liked better?
  • Evil Old Folks: Eustace Bagge, all the way.
  • Executive Meddling: The reason behind Courage's limited speech and constant babbling and screaming after the first season.
  • Expositron 9000: The computer.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Courage has encountered creatures and people that seem to come from many horror, sci-fi, mythological, and even fantasy based orgins.
  • The Fighting Narcissist: Bayou loves himself so much, he makes his slave slugs stuff shed skins of himself. His most used word is "me" and variations of it. He's so vain, that even when his stuffed shed skins attack him, he cannot bring himself to attack them.
  • Film Felons: A zombie "director" who was already a Serial Killer, who became an amateur filmmaker to lure in victims before he had died.
  • Flanderization: Arguably, Eustace Bagge. He has always been a greedy, selfish jerk, but he was mostly just annoyed and passive in the earlier episodes. In "Demon in the Mattress", he even follows Courage's plan to get rid of the demon inside Muriel (see Crowning Moment of Funny). He failed at first (of course), but he did attempt to try again. Cut to one of the last episodes, "Ball of Revenge", where he literally tries to kill Courage by inviting all the major, and some not even that major villains.
  • For the Evulz: Most of the villains have some reason for what they do. Usually Eustace disturbs something that should not be disturbed. LeQuack has Greed, The Chicken from outer space is invading (at least the first time). Katz on the other hand is just trying to kill people for his own amusement (usually).
  • Fortune Teller: Shirley the Medium.
  • Tornado Of Youth: "Little Muriel".
  • Freudian Excuse: Sure Eustace is mean, but he might be less so if his mother or older brother treated him better.
  • Funny Animal: Oddly enough, Courage does some very human-like things and can apparently talk (at least to the audience), but he usually gets treated as a normal dog. By comparison, there are several equally anthropomorphic characters, like Shirley, who get treated as humans without comment).
    • And Courage usually talked to other characters in the first season.
    • This is lampshaded in some small, throwaway moments. For example, at the beginning of The Last of the Starmakers, Courage is on the porch and picks up the newspaper with his hand before putting it in his mouth and giving it to Eustace.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The show's entire premise: mature themes of horror played straight in a show appealing to people of all ages and levels of maturity. Several more specific (and traditional) examples as well.
    • Kitty and Bunny. How S&P didn't catch that is a mystery.
      • Though in all fairness, the way it was shown they probably WERE just good friends.
      • And they did just get reunited after a murderious gangleader attempted to keep them from being friends at all, even if he had to kill one or both of them. All you have to do is substitute the word 'dog' with 'men' and suddenly it makes sense. Kitty claims that "all dogs are evil" and hates Courage just for being a dog because of her experience with Bunny and her boyfriend Maddog. When eating dinner Eustace comments on the mask and asks Kitty what she's trying to hide to which she responds by pointing out his various shortcomings as a husband (get it yet?) Maddog is the paradigm of abusive boyfriends and makes it obvious that he is representing the negative aspects of dogs (men). Yet after Courage saves Bunny and she is reunited with Kitty, Kitty admits that not all 'dogs' are bad. Besides this, there's the obvious use of lesbian slang. If you don't see this episode as a positive representation of lesbianism, may your god have mercy on your brain.
    • From "Cajun Granny Stew": "That dog is starting to become a real pain in my aaaaa".
    • Though they only happen in Courage's head, we see Muriel get decapitated not once, not twice, but three times over the course of the series, complete with detailed insides. Eustace gets bitten in half at one point as well. To say nothing of Courage's frequent freak-outs that often end with his insides on his outside, so to speak.
    • The Duck Brothers with their thick British Accents—although it's justified since they're voiced by Ringo Starr—fighting throughout the episode trying to save their other brother. They used Muriel to try an accomplish this, as they were fitting the mind control device on her head as she slept:

Duck Brother 1: Stop it, you'll wake her!
Duck Brother 2: No! You'll wake her!

    • In the episode "Ball of Revenge", Eustace assembles a number of villains in his basement. Muriel upon seeing them asks what they're doing here Eustace responds:

Eustace: Err...it's a men's club.
Muriel: Oh, all right then. [sees the Lady From the Puddle] OH! This is one of those naughty men's clubs!

    • "That Dam Beaver".
    • There were hints that Courage was viewing an adult website in "Hard Drive Courage".
    • "Freaky Fred". Just watch for yourself.Hard to believe that they got away with that.
  • Good Is Dumb: Every single other good guy is a complete idiot in the series, to the point where they even ignore neon signs pointing at the villain.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Shirley and the Computer.
  • G-Rated Drug: Water, used in "Journey to the Center of Nowhere".
  • Grumpy Old Man: Eustace Bagge.
  • Gypsy Curse: Shirley puts them on people who are rude to her. Though since she's actually not a mean person, she normally leaves a loophole to escape or undoes the curse if she feels they learned their lesson.
  • Hammerspace:
    • How, exactly, Courage managed to fit anchors and full-grown whales into pockets that he didn't even have is inexplicable and simultaneously hilarious.
    • Where does Eustace pull the gigantic fright mask from when he scares Courage?
  • Headless Horseman: Headless Horsemen appear in "Windmill Vandals".
  • Hell Hotel: The Katz Motel.
  • Heroic BSOD: When Courage is having his flashback in 'Remembrance of Courage Past' he just...sits there. He doesn't even twitch when Eustace brings out the 'Ooga Booga Booga' mask.
    • Courage has other moments too, including an occasion where his eyes turn to snow and static is heard.
  • Heroic Dog: Courage, of course.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Ringo Starr is the Duck Brothers. No, really. (He didn't sing the Halftime Show, though.)
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Fusilli the magician is turned into a marionette after mistaking Courage for a phantom and falls onto the stage.
    • The Flan King gets this twice in a row at the end of the episode.
    • This is Courage's preferred method of dealing with villains, rather directly or indirectly, but Big Bayou is one of the greatest, as not only was he beaten by his a spell from his own spell book, he was defeated by his own shed skins he'd had stuffed animated in part with his own venom. And to top it all off, he was so vain that he couldn't bring himself to attack his likeness. He was hoisted by at least three or four of his own petards.
    • The evil vet from "Remembrance Of Courage Past" also is hoisted by several of his own petards. Not only does the dog he emotionally tramatized for life ultimately defeat him, he does so using his own rocket. He is then further hoisted when the dogs he's been launching into space see him and decide to take their revenge on him.
  • Horny Devils/Our Mermaids Are Different: The Queen of the Black Puddle is cross between a succubus, a siren, and a Deep One.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Eustace always refers to Courage as a "stupid dog" even though he himself isn't aware of the dangers that goes around in Nowhere, and Courage is the one who usually has to save him and Muriel.
    • The aftermath of saying "no" to Flantasy Flan:

Eustace: What happened to you, woman?! You look like a house!
Muriel: Well! Look who calls the kettle black!

      • Follow up: Courage fixes everyone's Flantasy Flan addiction, except his.

Courage: Well, it's showbiz!

  • Impossible Shadow Puppets: Courage sometimes does this; one episode even has a Living Shadow that "projects" itself to scare him.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: In one Halloween event in-between commercials, the Scooby Gang stopped at the cottage when their car broke down; leaving them with nothing to do but tell ghost stories.
  • Invisible Main Character: "Invisible Muriel".
  • It Makes Sense in Context: A majority of the plot devices fall under this. Most memorably, an episode which took place in an old west setting had Courage, who took the role as sheriff, bribe the military to send in a stealth bomber to drop a piano on a zombified outlaw.
  • Jerkass: Eustace (to a lesser extent) Courage's computer, Eustace's mom and brother, and Di Lung (the Chinese Punk Kid), whose catchphrase was "Watch where you're going, you fool!"
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Eustace sometimes fits this trope but just in rare cases - see "The Curse of Shirley" where at the end he gives his hat to the "kid version" of him in order to protect him from the rain.
  • Kangaroo Pouch Ride: In the kangaroo monster episode.
  • Karmic Death: The evil vet from "Remembrance Of Courage Past" is sent into space with his own rocket like he did to a huge number of dogs (including Courage's parents). For further karma, he finds himself surrounded by the dogs he launched into space who proceed to take their revenge on him. Additional karma is the fact the very dog he orphaned was the one who did this to him.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Despite reruns popping up on Cartoon Network and Boomerang every now and again, the show was largely relegated to the modern-day equivalent of tape-trading - YouTube - until 2010, when the first season of the show was confirmed for a DVD release.
    • You can buy the entire series on iTunes.
      • The pilot, The Chicken From Outer Space, partly plays this straight and partly averts it. It's not on the Season 1 DVD, but Jon R Dilworth sells it through his online store.
  • Kick the Dog
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Eustace is the victim of this in nearly every episode.
    • A large number of villains suffer this as well.
  • Leitmotif: The Hell Is That Noise that follows Katz's arrival.
    • Almost every character in the show has one. Muriel has soft piano music. Eustace has banjo and fiddle music. Le Quack's is french. Dr. Vindaloo's is Indian. Shirley's sounds gypsy. Cajun Fox has cajun music.
    • On occasion rather loud accordion music can be heard from Muriel's radio.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans, Oh My!
  • The Load: Eustace's stubbornness and greed alongside Muriel's innocent yet ignorant behavior turns them into this at times. Though on occasion they help Courage more actively.
  • Losing Your Head: "Windmill Vandals".
  • Lottery Ticket: "Lequack TV".
  • Loud of War: In "King Ramses' Curse", one of the plagues Ramses unleashes on Courage and his owners is obnoxious disco music ("King Raaamses! The man in gauze, the man in gauze!").
  • Lovable Coward: Subverted by Courage, who is really astonishingly brave for a coward.
    • Hence the name. 'Cowardly' because he's always scared, 'Courage' because he always pushes through it.
  • Magical Database: The Computer.
  • Magic Librarian: And scary, too, in "The Pixie and the Prickle Pirate".
  • Mama Bear: If Eustace is harassing Courage (or if it at least looks that way), Muriel is quick to bash him over the head with a rolling pin. With a One-Woman Wail.
    • In a few episodes, she has also expanded this to the Monster of the Week. For example, when she came upon Katz strangling Courage in "Katz Motel", she smashed a tennis racket over his head and saved Courage without a second thought.
  • Mass Hypnosis: ...Buy Flantasy Flan... Buy Flantasy Flan...
  • The Mean Brit: The Computer. You twit.
  • Meaningful Name: Eustace Bagge could be interpreted as 'Useless Baggage' which is what he is during most adventures.
    • While we're at it, Muriel Bagge could be interpreted as "merry old bag", since she's a perpetually optimistic old lady. And as for Courage's name, the fact that despite his cowardice he routinely risks his life for those he loves is extremely courageous (should go without saying). In fact, Muriel named him Courage because he showed courage (as seen in "A Remembrance of Courage Past").
    • Zalost means "mourning" or "sadness" in Slavic. He's on par with Itoshiki "Despair" Nozomu.
  • Monster of the Week: Quite literally.
  • Mood Whiplash: Masterfully. Depending on the episode, it switches from Tear Jerker or Nightmare Fuel to Funny in the blink of an eye. For example, there's the "Last of the Starmakers" for the former, where Courage saves the last batch of space squid babies, interspersed with moments of useless henchman and rollerskating millitary generals. For the latter, there is "King Ramses' Curse", generally regarded as one of the scariest episodes around, with a priceless jingle in the middle - "The man in gauze, the man in gauze, King Ramses!", and the man himself saying "Come onnnnnn" in the same tone as ever.
  • Morally-Ambiguous Doctorate: Vindaloo's inability (or unwillingness) to cure anything relevant to the plot (though to his credit he does give some advice about it). His academic title is pretty suggestive too: "Dr. Vindaloo, quack". And speaking of this...
    • The evil vet who orphaned Courage and sent a huge number of dogs into space For Science!.
  • Morally-Ambiguous Ducktorate: LeQuack, the duck brothers, Goose God, and of course "The Precious, Wonderful, Adorable, Loveable Duckling".
  • My Instincts Are Showing:

Courage: *long howl* Man, I gotta stop that.

  • Narrative Shapeshifting: Courage invokes this trope several times to warn his owners of the Monster of the Week.
  • Negative Continuity: A number of episodes end with Courage losing or the characters dying, yet they're back to Square One the next week. Even the original short film featured Eustace turning into a monstrous alien chicken and then getting vaporized. None the less, there's still a few reoccurring villains in the roster providing continuity in spite of it all.
  • Nightmare Face: The violin girl in "Courage in the Big Stinkin' City".
  • No Accounting for Taste: Muriel and Eustace's marriage.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The ending to the Le Quack episodes ends with the titular villain escaping from his confinement and he always leaves behind evidence as he goes such as a police van crashing with no officers in site and an entire prison on fire with no signs of other convicts, though it's never explained how he managed to escape every time. Since he usually fights Courage through the means of cartoonish antics, this just makes the endings even scarier.
  • Odd Job Gods: The Goose God. It was never quite clear what he was god of, but it presumably had something to do with waterfowl.
    • He was the God of Honking.
  • Once Per Episode:
  • One-Scene Wonder: Fred in "Freaky Fred". Kitty and Bunny from "The Mask". The blue nightmare creature from "Perfect".
  • One-Woman Wail: "Doc Gerbil's World", where the final boat chase between Doc Gerbil and Courage is accompanied by almost no sound other than this. It simultaneously comes off as Soundtrack Dissonance and Crowning Music of Awesome. Note that the only reason it's Dissonance is because said chase scene was between a plaid-wearing gerbil and a pink dog on jet-skis.
    • In the early episode "The Shadow of Courage", whenever Muriel would catch Eustace abusing Courage in any way, she would run at him with her rolling pin, accompanied by a triumphant, operatic One-Woman Wail.
  • Opaque Lenses: Muriel & Eustace, as well as Eustace's whole family. (Similarly, all of the recurring normal, non-villainous human characters except the General had their eyes obscured.) This seems to emphasize Courage's status as a Cassandra type, as nobody else sees what's obvious to him. Subverted in the Hothead episode (though it's fairly surreal looking).
  • Opening Monologue
  • The Other Darrin: Eustace was originally voiced by Lionel Wilson until his poor health forced him to retire. Arthur Anderson took over his voice for the remainder of the series.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: Hoo boy they are.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: Muriel gets bitten by a weremole.
  • Overly Long Gag: Katz and Courage falling down the stairs in Katz Kandy... and falling... and falling... goes on for about a full minute.
  • Overly Long Name: The Precious, Wonderful, Adorable, Lovable Duckling.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Benton Tarentella is definitely Not a Zombie.
  • Pass Fail: Kitty's mask and dress are a fairly obvious metaphor.
  • Pet the Dog: Horribly, horribly subverted, in "The Precious, Wonderful, Adorable, Lovable Duckling", where a duckling thinks Eustace is its mommy. Eustace tries to be a good mom, but the bird secretly wants to kill Muriel. Eustace doesn't seem to care about Muriel (then again, did he ever?), even if the bird blatantly tries to kill her. It doesn't help the bird is probably as bad as Eustace.
    • This ended up with the pair being blown to the moon (in Muriel's place), and each pairing lives quite contentedly.
  • Phrase Catcher: "Stupid dog!"
  • Physical God: The Goose God and an unnamed, female, teenage storm deity.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Fred's narration from "Freaky Fred".
  • Robot Names: "Mechacourage".
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Dr. Zalost's rat, Doc. Gerbil and Mr. Mouse.
  • Rolling Pin of Doom: Muriel's trademark attack against Eustace whenever he abuses Courage.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Again, Kitty and Bunny from the episode "The Mask" push it to very edge of what constitutes as subtext.
  • Rule of Funny: Determines whether Courage can speak or not in each episode.
  • Rummage Fail: Whenever he'd look through his impossibly large, nonexistent "pockets", he'd normally have to pull out three or more objects until he got what he needed, at which point he'd stuff it all back in.
  • Running Gag:
    • Among other things, Muriel's using vinegar in almost everything she makes.
    • And almost everyone not liking vinegar.
    • Eustace pulling out his mask to frighten Courage.
    • Muriel playing the sitar.
    • Eustace complaining about his possessions such as his chair, hat, or truck.
    • Muriel asking or giving tea.
    • Di Lung's car suffering severe damage in its every appearance.
    • Eustace complaining about Courage sitting at the table.
  • Sadist Teacher: Courage's low self esteem spawns one in Perfect.
  • Sand Is Water: One episode has the titular character forced by Eustace's mother to hunt a sand whale, who is trying to get his accordion back from Eustace's mother. And Courage is forced to row a boat in the sand. Another slight subversion, considering that the ground only worked like water for the sand whale, and not the rowboat.
  • Scare Chord: HMMM. I believe that all of the Title Cards had one of these playing in the background. Especially Perfect and Wrath of the Librarian.
  • Scenery Porn: A lot of the shots of the farm house either at night or at sundown are awfully pretty for a Nightmare Fuel, Crapsack World.
    • To elaborate, the show uses a technique of overlaying photos with animation, so the skies you see are (mostly) pictures, although exaggerated or altered.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Eustace Bagge, of course.
  • Second-Person Attack: In "1000 Years of Courage". Courage picks up a banana, attempting to eat it, but it turns out to be a living baby creature. Courage makes a dash for it as its mother hits him over the head twice with her purse.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: Katz in "Katz Kandy".
  • Secret Ingredient: The secret ingredient in all of Muriel's cooking is vinegar.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To, of all things, Sweeney Todd, in the form of Muriel's "crazy barber" nephew Fred. The horror is negated somewhat by his cheerful rhyming and the fact that in the end, he's mostly harmless.
    • Also, stock footage of King Ghidorah, a recurring nemesis of Godzilla, appears several times throughout the series.
    • The ending to the original short features Courage holding open the iris out to comment "This shouldn't happen to a dog!". The iris then closes on Courage's nose, causing him to yelp in pain. This gag is a reference to the classic Bugs Bunny short "Hare Ribbin'". Which is further played with in the sequels. "This still shouldn't happen to a dog!"
    • Also, there are figurines of Dilworth's Dirty Birdy short in the house.
    • The twin raccoons from "Campsite of Terror" have the same design as Avery, a character from Ace & Avery, a segment on Big Bag which Dilworth worked on prior.
    • Nedd from Noodles & Nedd (a series of Sesame Street segments by Dilworth) often appears, most commonly as a framed picture in the Bagge house lounge room.
    • The word "Dil" often appears, this is referring to Dilworth.
    • The episode "The Mask" contains a few overall elements and themes of gritty exploitation and noir, especially the violently abusive gangleader boyfriend.
    • Mad Dog's defeat is rather similar to that of Sykes from Oliver and Company, being too caught up in his fight with The Hero to realize his car is heading right into an oncoming train until its too late, the crash itself happening offscreen.
    • Benton Tarantella.
    • An episode where Courage, Muriel and Eustace are brought 1000 years into the future, where everyone is a banana, as a kind of inverted Shout-Out.
    • "Wait! I sense a disturbance in the Force!"
    • In "The Ride Of The Valkyries", a rather dim-witted bird is called the Norwegian Blue.
    • The entire episode "The Demon In The Mattress" was one to The Exorcist.
    • A lot of things the Snowman has said or done are a Shout-Out to Sean Connery and James Bond.
    • Muriel picking up playing the sitar after an early episode may be a shoutout to Star Trek: The Next Generation, and how Captain Picard picked up playing an alien flute after "The Inner Light".
    • The episode "Serpent of Evil River" features a serpent named Carmen who loves opera music. Guess what opera music they used to attract the serpent?...
    • One episode is titled "Courage vs. Mecha-Courage". Just take a guess what that's a shout out too.
    • In "The Duck Brothers" they have a pretty blatant shout-out to The Three Stooges
  • Slasher Smile: Freaky Fred has one.
  • Snap Back: Mostly concerning predicaments suffered by Eustace, but occasionally Muriel and Courage as well.
  • Snowlems: A living snowman (sounding suspiciously like Sean Connery) became a villain due to Hollywood Global Warming.
  • Solar CPR
  • Space Whale: A dangerous predator, in "Last of the Starmakers".
  • Space Whale Aesop: "Swindling only begets swindling, as selfishness begets banana-head."
  • Speech-Impaired Animal: Courage, though he seems to be able to talk to the viewer, but not to Eustace or Muriel... one exception is when Muriel is de-aged in one episode.
  • Staring Contest: Katz and Courage have an epic duel to the death in the form of a staring contest.
  • Stock Audio Clip: Quite a few. See the trope page for details.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Eustace is pretty much a carbon copy of his parents. Lampshaded in "The Sand Whale Strikes", when the Sand Whale has confused Eustace for his father, Ickett. Eustace pulls out a picture of his father (who looks exactly like him with a huge beard) and says "I don't see the resemblance."
  • Surreal Horror
  • Suddenly Voiced: The tiger from "Squatting Tiger Hidden Dog". Also Courage, as a recurring character trait.
  • Syncro-Vox: The Spirit Of The Harvest Moon and The Magic Tree Of Nowhere use this technique.
  • Talking Animal: And boy are there a lot of them! Strangely, Courage talked frequently in the early episodes, but later became a Speech-Impaired Animal over time. This is actually a result of Executive Meddling, CN forced Dilworth to give Courage less talking lines as they felt he was funnier as a babbling animal. The latter is somewhat subverted at one point. Realizing he can't talk to Muriel directly, he runs to a payphone and calls her.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Muriel and Eustace.
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation
  • They Killed Kenny: Eustace died at the end of a lot of episodes.
    • He doesn't really die though, he just suffers some sort of fate that tends to happen during the episode; whether it be lethal or non-lethal. The only time he truly dies is during the pilot episode.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Eustace - although sometimes Courage even risks his life to save him, he never thanks him and always keeps on bullying him.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: From The House Of Discountent:

Eustace: Would you look at that?
Muriel: It's a floating head!
Eustace: I was talking about that leaky pipe. *points to leaky pipe right next to the giant floating head* Gotta fix that leak.

Muriel: But my dear, we all must face reality.
Kitty: Really? Like how you sneak extra sweets when no one is looking!?
Muriel: (Gasps in horror and shame).


The database in tatters, a lone figures approaches.
"You have not seen the last ... of LeQuack!"
Iris out, but Courage holds it open.
"I said it twice, and I'll say it again, the stuff on this page still shouldn't happen to a dog!"
Iris out (for real) and closes on Courage's nose
"Owch!"