Also Katz is a 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?)
Di Lung. He has a high pitched voice and wears girly sandals.
Dr. Vindaloo may or may not also qualify, considering he had a quirk of shaving his legs and other body hair.
Not to mention Kitty and Bunny. Actually, make that unambiguous.
An Aesop: If there's any message in this show, it's that "courage" isn't necessarily synonymous with "fearlessness". Courage at least means being willing to challenge one's own fears instead of running away, and doing the right thing no matter how difficult it may seem.
"The Tree of Nowhere" is a perfect example of courage in the face of utter demise.
Also in the final episode "Perfect", Courage has to learn to accept his personal imperfections.
Angry Mob: Eustace gathers one in "Courage Meets Bigfoot". When Bigfoot reunites with his adoptive mother however, they turn on Eustace.
Aroused by Their Voice: Katz, captivating his victims with his smooth sexy voice before he, you know, kills them.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The possible candidates for Muriel's cousin Fred as imagined by Courage: A mummy, a giant bug, Frankenstein's monster, and a mime (and THAT's the one he shudders about).
Fred's an interesting subversion, in that the truth: He's a compulsive barber, is less "monstrous" than the mummy or the bugs, but he turns out to be far scarier.
And in "Big Ball of Revenge", at the climax Katz pulls out a flamethrower, The Big Toe is wielding a spiked club, Cajun Fox has a cleaver, the Queen of the Black Puddle has a conch shell with a missile inside, and the were-mole... has a flyswatter.
Art Evolution: While the series' look and style as a whole remains completely consistent from the first episode to the last, the last two seasons (Season Four in particular) makes more use of lighting and atmosphere, and the characters' coloring reflects such, making them really look like they're in that environment, as opposed to just using their standard color schemes.
Ascended Fanboy: Doubly so! Michael Sporn, whom Dilworth worked with on Sesame Street and greatly admired, loved Courage and was later invited to write and animate the flashbacks for "Remembrance of Courage Past."
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.
Bigger Bad: The evil veterinarian from "Remembrance of Courage's Past". Not only is he the first real threat that Courage had ever encountered in his life, he is thoroughly responsible for the loss of Courage's parents, thus resulting in the dog's paranoia (although it should be noted that if it weren't for him, Courage never would've met Muriel). Thankfully, he gets his comeuppance in the end.
The Bagge Family, Ma Bagge in particular. Eustace in his youth was actually a pretty nice but sad kid, but he had a Big Brother Bully in Horst, and his mother treating him like dirt, more or less leading to Eustace becoming the grumpy and cruel Jerk Ass he is.
Big Screwed-Up Family: The Bagges who are a whole villainous family of abusive jerks. Ma Bagge was not only a bully but also a Corrupt Corporate Executive who threatened lives, Horst hunted sentient deers and threw goats of a cliff to make bucks and Eustace became as ready to do any dirty work for enough money as the rest of his family. Ow and he also started hunting deers to prove himself to Horst.
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". Also the "Clutching Foot".
Brain with a Manual Control: In the episode "Mission to the Sun", a thumb-sized bacteria is shown getting inside Muriel's brain and messing with the controls found inside, which initially results in Muriel behaving in an insane way, until finally she starts destroying the spaceship's machinery and talking with the bacteria's voice. Eustace is shown also having the bacteria in his brain at the very end.
Brawn Hilda: Muriel gets mistaken for a Valkyrie by a race of Brïnnhilde-esque Valkyries. The Valkyrie the sisters thought Muriel was, was actually named Brïnnhilde.
Busy Beaver: Explored in the episode, "A Beaver's Tale"; Nowhere is suddenly flooded from a giant dam being constructed by a disgruntled beaver who won't stop until the dam is completed. Courage unwittingly discovers the beaver is actually more interested in playing music, but the beaver shows Courage his childhood of how his father disapproved of him playing music, and instead, wanted him to grow up to be a construction worker like him. In the end, however, Courage presses the beaver into giving up construction to follow his dream, and the dam is destroyed.
Butt Monkey: Courage. Also Eustace, though he usually deserves it.
Carnivore Confusion: Done hilariously in the episode "Fishy Business", where Muriel serves sushi and raw fish for dinner - as Courage starts to help himself, a new goldfish the Bagges just happen to have now gives him a look of horror, causing Courage to change his mind. After the Bagges leave with the Fishonary, the goldfish hops out of the bowl, and appears to mourn over the sushi, before looking around, whipping out a pair of chopsticks, and happily helping himself to some.
The Cassandra: Courage, he always notices that something is evil, while Muriel and Eustace usually are ignorant of it.
Catchphrase: 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."
Also, variations of "I'm not going to like this..." usually: "I just know I'm not gonna like this..."
Katz has "I (really) wish you hadn't done that."
And, of course, the Computer. "You twit."
Cats Are Mean: Recurring nemesis Katz, whose schemes always involve torturing or killing the Baggs and Courage.
Cerebus Retcon: Part of the Series Finale, "Remembrance of Courage Past", does this to the opening: Courage wasn't exactly "abandoned as a pup". His parents were taken from him by a crazed vet and sent on a rocket into space.
Cerebus Rollercoaster: This becomes more frequent in the last couple of seasons, sometimes episode to episode, and other times, within the same episode, such as, "The Mask," which is full of Mood Whiplash.
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 (though there are cases of this)and more because of his devotion to Eustace's wife Muriel.
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.
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.
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.
Didn't Think This Through: In "Shirley the Medium", the titular fortune teller warns Eustace not to open his deceased brother's box, which is said to contain his entire fortune. At the end, he opens it anyway, and ends up getting trapped inside of it. Regardless, he does indeed gain access to all of his brother's money, but suddenly realizes that he can't even use any of it because he's still trapped in the box.
Eustace: Hey...where am I going to spend it?
Disproportionate Retribution: The evil librarian and Shirley (the latter more than once) curse the Bagges because of slights, though in Shirley's cases it's usually because Eustace adds on his Jerkassery to his refusals to pay her and always gives him a way out.
The biggest on by far, however, was in the episode "Ball of Revenge", where Eustace hired Courage's past foes to kill Courage all because Muriel gave Courage the blanket Eustace wanted.
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. Plus the whole "locked in a bathroom" thing...
Double Subversion: Courage tries to defeat the Cajun Fox by putting a detour sign on the road so that he drives his steamroller into a bunch of rocks blocking the other road. He ignores it, thinking he's too smart for that, and plows over the detour sign plummeting off a cliff.
Downer Ending: In "The Great Fusili", Courage fails to stop Muriel and Eustace from being turned into puppets. Also, in "Muriel Blows Up", Courage fails to stop Eustace from eating the explosive carrot, and rushes back to find a gigantic Muriel feasting on a whole patch of them. But due to Negative Continuity, these endings don't stick and the Reset Button is always pressed.
Dub Name Change: In the Norwegian dub, Eustace became Rasmus and Muriel became Matilda. In the Latin American dub Eustace is Justo (Juste)
Dysfunctional Family: Eustace was treated like crap by his brother and mother. We don't know about his father though, as he was only mentioned.
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".
In one of the earlier episodes, Muriel calls Eustace "Grandpa".
Muriel's Scottish accent was slightly more pronounced in earlier episodes as well.
Easily Forgiven: Courage, after Bigfoot causes him to splatter pie all over the kitchen. Muriel tells him that next time he should get a plate. Subverted cause he didn't really do it but Muriel thought he did and took it rather well nonetheless.
Easy Amnesia: Muriel and later Eustace in "Dr. Le Quack Amnesia Specialist".
Eldritch Abomination: That giant starfish that eats cities and won't stop until hearing Muriel speak.
There are a whole lot of these that show up on the show, really.
The starmakers are probably the only example in all of fiction of not only being benevolent examples of this but also sympathetic ones too.
Eldritch Location: Nowhere. It's not very often the default setting of a show is one.
Everybody Laughs Ending: Not everybody, but a vast majority of the episodes end with this schtick of Courage, or whichever character, looking into the camera, and letting out a goofy and idiotic sounding laugh, before we iris out.
Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Eustace Bagge is often referred to as "The Farmer" by characters on the show. The episode descriptions for the first two seasons (aside from "A Night at the Katz Motel") on Netflix exclusively refer to him as such.
Everyone Hates Mimes: Before Fred arrives in "Freaky Fred," courage imagines him as all sorts of monsters such as a giant anthropomorphic bug (whose design would later be reused for the weevil), a Frankenstein-like being...and a mime.
Evil Puppeteer: In "The Great Fusilli", the sound of Creepy Circus Music alerts the Bagges that their house has been visited by a magic stage run by a Wicked Cultured crocodile named Fusilli. Fusilli encourages Muriel, Eustace, and Courage to perform on his stage, eventually convincing them to sign a contract to become full-time actors. Things only get worse when Courage goes backstage and discovers many lifeless puppets - and he and his owners are next! Courage goes back to the stage to warn them, but he's too late - letting out a triumphant Evil Laugh, Fusilli uses his stage to turn Muriel and Eustace into puppets. Fusilli is eventually Hoist by His Own Petard when he falls onto the stage and is turned into a puppet himself, but Muriel and Eustace are still stuck as puppets. It's worth noting that many fans find this to be one of the show's most disturbing episodes, leading to many creepy fan stories and theories.
The Hunchback of Nowhere is an obvious nod to Quasimodo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He even owns a set of handbells, which he rings at the top of the farmhouse.
Freaky Fred has uncanny similarities to Sweeney Todd. Both characters are British, specialize in cutting hair, and, of course, are freaky as hell.
Eye on a Stalk: The Alien Brain Visitor from "Car Broke, Phone Yes" has two eyestalks jutting from his brain-like head.
Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Courage has encountered creatures and people that seem to come from many horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and mythology based origins.
Feathered Fiend: Courage tends to keep getting antagonized by birds for some reason.
Played straight with the Chicken from Outer Space, Le Quack, the Goose God, and the so-called "Precious, Wonderful, Adorable, Lovable Duckling". Also in a few gag scenes, Courage gets harassed by a mean bird for no reason.
Subverted with the Duck Brothers, and the Mama Bird, who were just looking out for their families. Courage also ends up (more or less) making peace with the Son of the Chicken from Outer Space.
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 show does a pretty good job turning a mad barber's obsession with shaving hair into full-blown horror.
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.
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, but he did attempt to try again. Cut to one of the last episodes, "Ball of Revenge", where he tries to kill Courage by inviting all the major, and some not even that major villains.
For the Evulz: Many of the villains have some logical 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, Benton Tarantella and few others on the other hand are just trying to kill people for their own amusement (usually).
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.
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.
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.
The Cajun Fox spends his entire episode trying to put Muriel in a stew. In the end, he falls in his own pot.
Hollywood Heart Attack: Happens to Courage in "Night of the Weremole"; he clutches his chest and collapses during one of his wild takes. Then after he recovers in Dr. Vindaloo's office, he runs off with him, snapping the ECG leads and showing a Flatline.
Dr. Vindaloo: You almost bought it, boy. What is up with that?
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!
Invisible Stomach, Visible Food: Comes up in the episode "Invisible Muriel". Eustace doesn't seem to notice Muriel is invisible, but can clearly see her swallowing a mouthful of pancakes, prompting him to tell her to close her mouth when she chews.
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.
Kaiju: Both Eustace and Courage become giant kangaroo monsters.
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.
In Klub Katz Eustace, now a a wrecking ball, chases Katz through the island.
Eustace himself is a victim of this. A villain proving himself as a threat will target Eustace, not even knowing he or she is doing Karma's job. One of the most unique cases of this trope ever, is Doctor Gerbil's. The good doctor targets humans in general because he has a racist hatred against them and believes that all of them are guilty of animal slavery and cruelty regardless of whether they did any experimentation or not. So in the case of Eustace he does punish him for his cruelty just because he happens to be mean.
Knight Templar: The Harvest Moon. Believing that Eustace is a poor farmer who doesn't respect the land, he demands that Eustace either prove his ability to grow a plant or leave his home. When Eustace refuses Harvest Moon tries to kill the Bagges.
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.
Sometimes, different characters share the same leitmotif. For example: The Demon in the Mattress and the Windmill Vandals share the same motif; Freaky Fred and the Evil Librarian share one; King Ramses and Mc Phearsom Phantom share one; The Great Fusilli, and the Paper Shadow Maker from "Profiles in Courage" and the disgruntled actor from "Cabaret Courage" share one; Basil the Burglar and Evil Weevil share one; among others.
On occasion rather loud accordion music can be heard from Muriel's radio.
Malicious Misnaming: Eustace always addresses Courage as "stupid dog" or a description synonymous with such. In fact, Eustace has only mentioned his name twice in the show's entire run. The second time only was to mock Muriel's love for the dog ("'Courage, Courage, Courage!' That stupid dog gets all the good stuff around here!") so the first time was the only time that actually has him address Courage by his name.
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.
Man of a Thousand Voices: Paul Schoeffler alone voices Katz, Cajun Fox, Le Quack, Freaky Fred, Dr. Vindaloo, Snowman, and many other one-shot characters. Just listen to all of them very carefully, they all start sounding the same after a while.
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 overwhelming terror 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 "Remembrance of Courage Past").
Shirley's eyes have orange irises, though her left eye has a second one, which is green.
Monster of the Week: The whole show is about a dog having to confront a new monster or villain in every episode.
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 military 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.
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!.
A Running Gag is that when Courage confronts the villains, they rarely actually fight. Instead, they often decide who wins via some otherwise casual competition like handball or thumb-wrestling, made epic with with close-up shots of desperate, perspiring faces, Scare Chords, cutaways to the people in danger, and other devices to emphasize drama.
"Courage... Closer... closer... It would be lovely... If I could... have a cup... of... TEA!"