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Courage the Cowardly Dog

Everyone’s seen this. It’s a childhood classic which terrified us with each new episode, but which is still dear to our hearts to this day. This week, I’m recommending you Courage the Cowardly Dog.

I’ll keep this short and simple because I cannot fathom how any of you could not know about Courage and I doubt you haven’t seen at least an episode. Hopefully even if you’ve read only this far, you’re already thinking of watching some favorite episodes again. Go back to those nice childhood days of sitting in front of the TV, scared as hell, wondering what new villains poor Courage would have to save Muriel and Eustace from.

Courage the Cowardly Dog is a horror animated series which aired on Cartoon Network between 1999 and 2002. Horror for kids isn’t that uncommon, as other series (like The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy or Scooby Doo) tackled the genre, but none of them did it quite like Courage. Although it’s mainly targeted at kids, watching it as an adult bring pretty much the same experience, except with the added level of nostalgia (and perhaps changed perception of what exactly is scary about the episode’s main idea).

Its uniqueness earned it the reputation of cult classic, with people nowadays fondly remembering it and appreciating it. Even back in the ‘90s, Courage was on a whole different level though: the pilot, The Chicken From Outer Space, was nominated for an Academy Award, and its eeriness, dark humor, and stories felt vastly different than any of the other cartoons at the time. It had a certain element of poetry to it that perhaps seemed directed more towards older audiences, but which enticed children to even more curiosity. To me, watching it felt like I was privy to things I wasn’t really supposed to see. Sure, there were some episodes (like Cajun Granny Stew) which were mostly just quirky, fun, scary adventures, but there were also some (The Magic Tree of Nowhere or Perfect) which only gain in meaning and emotional punches as time passes. For the purpose of this recommendation, I went back to watch some of these episodes, and Perfect had me crying in the first few minutes, so…

Courage is incredibly inspiring, especially to a kid. Despite being terrified of literally everything, which is a hilarious and obvious contradiction to his name, he braves it all because of his love for Muriel (and Eustace). It says a lot about the kindness and love he’s capable of when he is willing to go through so much trouble to save even an awful old man like Eustace, right? He’s not only adorable and loving, but smart and gosh darn hilarious. The whole “There's something fishy goin' on here, or my name is Stinky Looloo. And thank goodness it's not.” thing is a motif throughout the series (in its various forms), and with each delivery, the line only becomes funnier. Similarly, I find myself still quoting “the things I do for love…” to this day. Who could’ve thought this pink dog would be so relatable?

Just like Courage, Muriel and Eustace are iconic. Everyone knows them, everyone loves them. They are very unique choices of main characters (old, clueless for the most part, grandparents with a dog for a grandchild), so that in itself sets the show apart from other stories. Even if there is no character who is physically similar to the children the cartoon is made for, every kid I know still enjoyed it. For me it was even more engaging as my grandparents are literal carbon copies of Muriel and Eustace. It’s quite eerie actually.

Just… everything about this cartoon is awesome. The fact that they live in the middle of Nowhere, the opening (which I still know by heart), the various human and animal villains (the legendary Katz, Le Quack, Fred – who have multiple appearances – or the Butcher Pig, the Mummy, and other one-time enemies), the other familiar characters (the doctor – “There’s nothing to worry about, nothing at all” - the “Watch where you goin’, you fool” guy, Shirley the Medium, Ma Bagge), the absurd stories (a demon in a mattress, a sentient house, a hair growth solution which makes you blow stuff up), everything is just so unique, so fun, so scary, nothing that has come after has been able to evoke the same feelings that Courage has. It’s one of a kind, and it always will be.

I’m really curious what your memories and thoughts on Courage are, so please drop by my Contact and talk to me about it. And if I’ve made you miss it, go watch some of your fave episodes again.

For now, I’ll leave you with a list of my own favorites, to maybe get you started:

Season 1 Episode 1 A – A Night At The Katz Motel

My favorite as a kid, I had no idea this one was the first episode in the series. Katz makes for a fabulous first villain, and remains one of the scariest ever. Also those spiders still give me nightmares.

Season 1 Episode 4 A – The Demon in the Mattress

The first time I was really terrified by this cartoon, the exorcism Courage and Eustace perform on Muriel is still firmly in my head even now.

Season 1 Episode 4 B – Freaky Fred

“Hello new friend, my name is Fred. The words you hear are in my head. I say I said my name is Fred, and I’ve been veeeeeery… naughtyyyy.”

Season 1 Episode 7 A – King Ramses’ Curse

This one for sure traumatized literally everyone. “Return the slaaaaaaaaaab” is probably triggering for every person who’s watched this episode as a kid. Someone said 2020 and its whole apocalyptic vibe is reminiscent of the plagues Ramses rained on the Bagges, which makes this episode very fitting to watch right now.

Season 1 Episode 8 B – The Hunchback of Nowhere

Beautiful friendship, very sad story, very good lesson to teach kids.

Season 1 Episode 11 A – Heads of Beef

For some sick reason, I loved watching this episode repeatedly. Something about Courage discovering the secrets behind the Pig’s diner was really fun for me. Maybe because I loved Courage-Eustace centric episodes. I loved pairings where they dislike each other even as a kid, hah.

Season 2 Episode 1 A – The Magic Tree of Nowhere

Another beautiful, evocative story.

Season 2 Episode 13 – The Tower of Dr. Zalost

The counting of the sheep, the pink balls, just everything about this episode is memorable. I watch it whenever I miss Courage.

Season 3 Episode 6 B – Curtain of Cruelty

Similar to the previous episode, it’s just a really cool episode with a nice message.

Season 3 Episode 12 A – The Quilt Club

This episode terrified me as a kid because I thought I too will be trapped inside a quilt like Eustace. I love watching it.

Season 4 Episode 2 – Rumpledkiltskin/ House Calls

Both of these episodes are brilliant, but House Calls is one I specifically love rewatching.

Season 4 Episode 3 B – Windmill Vandals

This is the one that scared me the most. Those dead vandals gave me nightmares for days. I still refuse to watch this episode.

Season 4 Episode 10 A – Last of the Starmakers

I cried at it as a kid and it saddens me now too. The alien squid couple deserved better!!!

Season 4 Episode 13 – Remembrance of Courage Past/ Perfect

What a way to end the series… Remembrance of Courage Past is such a bittersweet backstory for our loveable Courage, and Perfect is just… perfect.

Go watch Courage now!!! You have no excuse!!! (use adblocker)

As always, thank you for reading, and see you next week!