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Everything's Better with Cows

"Once upon a time, and a good time there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down the road met a nicens little boy named baby Tuckoo."
—The opening to A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man by James Joyce

Who knows why people love cows? They stand around and moo. And yet, people love 'em. Some people love 'em enough to put 'em into their works regardless of appropriateness, just because they think cows are awesome.

This trope is about female bovines inserted into a work of fiction without any actual purpose or logical explanation, except for the Rule of Cool or Rule of Funny.

Note: This trope is not a list of your favorite works featuring cows. Nor is it a list of all cow jokes in fiction. It's about gratuitous cows.

Compare Garnishing the Story. Sometimes overlaps with Drop the Cow. See also Aliens Steal Cattle and Cow Tipping. If you were looking for minotaur-esque critters (Man-Cows), check out A Load of Bull. Not really related to You Fight Like a Cow (but it's a fun mental image, isn't it?)


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • Dancing cows sell chocolate.
  • Gateway computers played up their being founded in Iowa by delivering their product in boxes patterned after a Holstein cow. The cowbox became part of their logo in 1998.
  • Chick-Fil-A frequently uses intelligent cows in its ads that urge customers to "Eet Mor Chikin" instead of beef. They even sell comedic calendars that are loaded with cow puns.

     Alternate Reality Games 

     Anime and Manga 
  • In Princess Tutu, the one-shot character Femio believes himself to be So Beautiful, It's A Sin. As punishment, he has a bull that comes to trample him when called. At one point—when he believes the Magical Girl and her dark counterpart are fighting over him—he decides he's so sinful that an entire herd is called to trample him. There's enough bulls that they fill up a square of the town, leaving the residents to stare at them in confusion.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena had one episode where Nanami started turning into a cow. The highlight was the Dream Sequence: Nanami dreams that her beloved brother Touga is taking her on a wagon to market, and there's a butterfly overhead...just in time for the chorus to start in on a 1940s Yiddish song "Dona Dona," which is apparently popular in Japan.
  • The first thing you see in the Chobits anime is a cow that has nothing to do with the plot. That is because Hideki lives on a farm until he moves to Tokyo.
  • A random cow on the railroad tracks is what allows Ed to catch "Mushroom Samba"'s bounty of the week in Cowboy Bebop. It was not mentioned beforehand and simply appears without warning on the train tracks. And the only thing that even acknowledges it is the team pet, nobody ever mentions it again.
  • Subverted by the Demon Guard Minotauros in One Piece. He looks like a Holstein cow minotaur, and looks pretty harmless and cute.... until he starts smashing people around with his trusty spiked club.
  • In Hetalia, Spain's pet bull helps him to knock out the carriage where Romano was being kidnapped by Turkey, and much later aids in France's defeat. Such a reliable animal.
  • Hiromu Arakawa, author of Fullmetal Alchemist, even uses a cow as her avatar, although it is easily explained by the fact that she grew up on a dairy farm.

     Comic Books 
  • Marvel Comics:
    • The Mighty Thor, the cow of thunder (pictured atop this page).
    • Then, of course, there are the infamous Cow Skrulls (and the even more infamous Cow-Skrull Burgers).
    • Behold, the terror of Hellcow the vampire cow!
  • In Tintin Tintin In Tibet, Captain Haddock tries to step over a sacred cow. The cow gives him an unasked-for ride.
  • DC Comics has the Battlin' Bovine: Bat-Cow! Starting as a one-off gag in Grant Morrisons Batman Incorporated (and subsequently a background gag in the Batcave), she later got her own story in the Batman Incorporated one-shot, written by Dan DiDio. A version of Bat-Cow also appears in Tiny Titans, who is a member of the League of Just Us Cows, which includes Aqua-Cow, Flaming Head Cow, and Bat-Cow Beyond.

     Fan Works 
  • In Strike Witches Quest, you encounter a hissing Martian robot cow, which quickly becomes a regular at Castle Barin.
  • Star Trek: Voyager J/7 Slash Fic Oh My God, They Killed Chakotay! by Sazzy1972. Captain Janeway believes that killing her boring first officer is the only way to break a "Groundhog Day" Loop, and so tries to bump Chakotay off with increasingly hilarious methods, including dropping a cow on his head in the holodeck.
  • The Naruto fanfic Yet Again has exploding cows, used to help train the Konoha Twelve. Needless to say, they're all scarred for life.

     Film - Animated 
  • Cars featured farm equipment that acted like cattle, and one of the activities involving said farm equipment is called "tractor tipping."
    • ''El Materdor'' also featured cattle, but this time, they are all portrayed as bulldozers instead of farm equipment.
  • At the climax of The Emperor's New Groove, a squad of palace guards get accidentally dosed with shape-shifting potions, leading to:
    Yzma: Get them!
    Transformed guard: Um, I've been turned into a cow. Can I go home?
    Yzma: You're excused. Anyone else?
    Other transformed guards: No, no, we're good.
    Yzma: GET THEM!

    Film - Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • Where's My Cow?, an in-universe children's book. Screaming the words to it provide the Madness Mantra of Sam Vimes while he's possessed by a demonic entity.
    That. Is. Not. MY. COW!
    • Later it was defictionalized as an actual picture book, where the cow isn't gratuitous anymore.
  • Wayside School Is Falling Down: The school doesn't fall down, but it does get taken over by cows.
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude has a herd of cows that reproduce too quickly. Only Melquiades' words of wisdom can calm them. Later, Aureliano Segundo would yell the second quote above in the middle of his parties.

     Live Action TV 
  • Gene the cow on Fringe. Part of Walter's lab and generally present once per episode, Gene was brought in as fresh-from-the-cow milk was required for the "fringe science" for one incident in the series premiere, and has been there ever since. She's often discussed offhand in Walter's discussions with Astrid - for example, Walter postulating if he could make milk from Gene that would never spoil using a life-extending fluid that was part of the main plot, or wondering if he could make Gene produce chocolate milk by feeding it the right ingredients.
  • On The X-Files, Mulder has a close encounter with a very unfortunate cow that crashes through the ceiling of his motel room in "Rain King".
  • The Brass Eye "Animals" episode features cows heavily. There's Carla Lane crying over the grave of a hypothetical cow, there's a crazy caravan man engaging in a surreal harassment campaign against a cow that's inherited his land and there's a cow being fired out of a cannon in a fictional Libyan folk custom and left for the dogs and jackals. And maybe scorpions if they eat meat, I dunno.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. Tom Paris pulls a practical joke on Harry Kim while he's in the Fair Haven holodeck program, transforming a pretty Irish lass into a cow just as Harry's about to kiss her.
  • The Doctor Who Expanded Universe likes this one.
    • The Doctor Who Magazine comic strip "The Lunar Strangers" features two humanoid alien cows.
    • One of the Eighth Doctor Adventures novels reveals that the TARDIS has a cow, which is implied to provide their supply of milk.
    • Another one takes place on an alien planet where the local fauna is much like that of Earth, except the cows are disconcertingly enormous:
    What I Learned in Outer Space by Anji Kapoor – impressive pause – They have bigger cows.
  • Among the weird bumps MTV Brasil used to air were some starring space cow Vacalática.
  • The Julie Andrews episode of The Muppet Show involved the discovery of a (non-muppet) cow backstage. They eventually get rid of it, but just before the credits, it's revealed that the cow is allegedly Julie's.
  • One of the sketches in the Bavarian TV special Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus was The Merchant of Venice acted by a herd of cows, in mooing with German subtitles.
  • The Golden Girls
    Rose: I remember my first love....
    Sofia: Let me guess...it was a cow.
    Rose: How did you know?

    Music 
  • The Arrogant Worms song "I Am Cow."
    • They also used a cow's moo in the background of a song about hunters shooting anything that moves.
  • The Foo Fighters song "For All The Cows".
  • The cover for Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother album features cows—and deliberately has nothing to do the music.
  • The video for "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" by Eurythmics, which also features the same cow from the Pink Floyd album mentioned above.
  • "Cows With Guns" by Dana Lyons.
  • "Angus Dei" (not "Agnus Dei") from the "Missa Hilarious" by P.D.Q. Bach.
  • "Little Tiny Song" by Barenaked Ladies which is actually about an angry cow.
  • Independent piano-rock musician Matthew Ebel has a song called "Trees" which has this as its "punchline":
    All I wanted was to milk / A metaphor about the trees / And write some crap that really wows. / But now instead of / Writing 'bout the trees, / Somehow or another, I've ended up / Writing about...cows?
    • Immediately followed by the sound of a cow mooing. This has become a Running Gag among his fans; when he plays "Trees" during his live shows, and gets to this part, the ones who are familiar with the joke all go "Mooooooooo!"
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Smells Like Nirvana" has a cow mooing right after the line "A Garage Band from Seattle, well it sure beats raising cattle!".

     Newspaper Comics 
  • The Far Side. Gary Larson wrote in The PreHistory of The Far Side, "I should have just called this thing The Cow Side and forgot about it." To those unfamiliar with the strip: for some strange reason, it often features unexplained cows. It even became the Trope Namer for Cow Tools.
  • Cow And Boy by Mark Leiknes is a strip about a young farm boy and his friend, a cow. The cow is the reasonable, sensible one of the two.

     Pinball 
  • There's a longstanding tradition of hiding cows as Easter Eggs in Physical Pinball Tables. Some players even use the term "Hidden Cows" to refer to Easter Eggs.
    • The tradition started in The Machine: Bride of Pin*Bot because programer Brian Eddy likes cows. When a ball starts, leave it in the plunger. Hold the right flipper for at least 45 seconds, then hold the left flipper for at least 45 seconds, then hold both flippers for at least 45 seconds. The game will beep; tap out "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" with the flipper buttons (right flipper first) and the game will display the lyrics in time with the song.
  • Attack from Mars has a playfield decal and an animation of aliens beaming up a cow, and the "Saucer Attack" mode can randomly be replaced with "Cow Attack".
  • In Revenge from Mars:
    • One of the items taken during the "Alien Abduction" mode is a cow.
    • The big martian on the backglass is holding a cow.
    • One of the animals that you shrink in the "Big-O-Beam" mode is a cow.
  • In Metroid Prime Pinball, a winged cow will randomly appear in the middle of a swarm of Shriekbats.
  • The playfield for Taxi has a cow sitting in a motorcycle sidecar.
  • In Tales of the Arabian Nights, press both flipper buttons quickly when entering the Bazaar. On the fourth visit, the merchant will give you a cow worth 1 million points.
  • One of the souvenirs in Red & Ted's Road Show is a picture plate with a cow on it.
  • Medieval Madness has a cow as one of the things that can be launched from the catapult. Also, if you launch three cows, the Video Mode will be "Save the Calves" (instead of children).
    • Another appears in one of the peasant quotes ("They took our cows!").
  • WhizBang Pinball's Whoa Nellie! Big Juicy Melons has a wry cow in the lower-right corner of the playfield.
    "Complete and udder nonsense."
  • White Water has no less than four of these:
    • Pressing the left button 3 times, the start button once, the right button 15 times, the start button once, the left button 23 times, and the start button once during Attract Mode reveals a cow.
    • The fifth item in Bigfoot's Hotfoot is a cow.
    • When the cow in Bigfoot´s Cave has been collected, getting the Mystery Canyon as a Whirlpool Award will show a picture of the Spirit pulling a string on the legless cow. A loud "moo" is heard.
    • The animation after shooting Disaster Drop has a cow show up as a Freeze-Frame Bonus.
  • In Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure, the display for "Shoot Again" includes a cow in the hieroglyphs.
  • Hitting a certain shot in Doctor Who sometimes displays a cow in Doctor attire, mooing.
  • Scared Stiff:
    • One of the Deadheads is called Meat Head, and has a picture of a cow.
    • If you enter the initials "M-O-O" on the high score, the display shows two frightened cows.
    • One of the videotapes on the backglass is "Curse of the Zombie Cows".
  • Cirqus Voltaire:
    • One of the obstacles Roonie the Kangaroo jumps over is a cow.
    • The history of the Cirqus (played during the Attract Mode) mentions fire-eating cows.
    • One of the "Fun With Bonus" judges is a cow named "Heffer".
  • Safe Cracker:
    • One of the "?" awards is a cow head.
    • One of the Candy 2000 awards is "MOO", which gives you a Vault letter.
    • Entering "MOO" as your high score initials prompts a cow sound effect to play.
  • In Jack*Bot, a cow can be awarded during Casino Run, adding a Special.
    • Cheating during Casino Run prompts a soundclip of a moo to play.
  • Black Rose:
    • The jet bumper display can show cows fencing instead of men.
    • Starting the Unlimited Millions Round can also show many small cows.
    • Getting a Combo Shot can prompt a cow to walk across the screen, mooing.
    • The last sound clip in the Sound Test is a moo.
  • If you enter your initials as "MOO" in No Fear: Dangerous Sports, Skull will say "Mooo!" after awarding your free game.
  • An Easter Egg in Sega Pinball's Golden Eye has Bond get chased by a cow.
  • Two examples of this from The Champion Pub:
    • The 14th jackpot level is "Cow of a jackpot".
    • Sometimes, when the Barfly is swatted, it will instead be a Cowfly (complete with moo).
  • Monster Bash:
    • One of the venues for the band is the "Cow Palace".🐄 
    • A skeleton of a cow can be seen in the animation for the Mosh Pit Multiball.
  • 3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent has a table where you use a ray to turn the dinosaurs back to their original forms. The Tyrannousaurus Rex is a cow!
  • The Video Mode for Data East's Lethal Weapon 3 is a shooting gallery game, where players must shoot enemies and avoid bystanders. On occasion, one of the criminals will be replaced with a cow, and shooting it is worth one million points.
  • Indianapolis 500 has several:
    • A farmer with a cow appears in the first animation of "Wrong Turn".
    • The "Pit Stop" animation sometimes shows the player passing a cow being milked in the Pit.
    • The final Raceway Souvenir is a Race Cow, worth 50 million points.
    • The last Spanner word is COWS.
  • In Jersey Jack Pinball's The Wizard of Oz, the Horse of a Different Color is sometimes replaced with a cow. It's worth more than any of the other horses.
  • Corvette:
    • One of the Challenge race tracks is the "Holisten Track", which is shaped like a cow's head.
    • Occasionally, instead of being challenged by a sexy model racer, the player will be challenged by a cow. Even the closed-caption text reads "Moo".
  • In Demolition Man, the eighth AcMag award is an exploding cow.
  • America's Most Haunted:
    • The silhouette of a ghost cow can be seen in the center background of the backglass.
    • On initial settings, the second high-score entry has the initials COW.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • ARSION had Bullfight Sora, because what better to fight bulls than a cow? Well ARSION went under and Sora trotted out to the wider wrestling world.
  • CHIKARA had MosCow the Communist Bovine. At Here Come the International Invaders 1st Stage- Attack of the Phantom Sith, August 17, 2007, he was defeated by USApe. In what must have been a case of Defeat Means Friendship, at Bruised on October 26, they teamed with Dragon Dragon in a losing effort against the Order of the Neo-Solar Temple (Crossbones, Hydra and UltraMantis Black).

     Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Jerry Seinfeld joked about the impulse so-called "mature adults" have to stick their heads out of car windows and say "Moo" when they see cows, as if the cows could be fooled.
    Jerry: Hey, there's a cow driving that car! How can he afford that!?

    Toys 

     Video Games 
  • Little Kings Story also heavily features cows. One of your units is a Cow Knight (a knight on a cow), and one of the enemy monsters will be the dreaded vampire cow.
  • Lon Lon Ranch in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, milk cows can be found in a lot of places and one is even moved into your treehouse.note 
  • Baldur's Gate. "Cheats:Cow Kill();". Doubles as Drop the Cow.
    • Baldur's Gate II: Throne Of Bhaal features a possible result of a wild magic surge as "cow drops on the spell's target".
  • Destroy All Humans! has radioactive, exploding zombie cows. And for the full Pox quote: "Brains? ...Healthy green glow? ...THOSE HUMAN FOOLS! Clearly, they've genetically altered these pathetic gasbags and turned them into RADIOACTIVE EXPLODING ZOMBIE COWS! Show them the folly of their mad science!"
  • Grunties from .hack are Cow Expies and are generally funny — especially milky grunties.
  • Wii Play has a minigame where you ride a cow down a racetrack and run down scarecrows for points.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters includes the Mootator, which morphs enemies into cows. It can be upgraded into the Armoogeddon, which morphs them into exploding bulls
  • In The World Ends with You, one item's description says it's made of faux-leather "('cause cows are cute!)".
  • Earthworm Jim has a large emphasis on Cows. From using them as catapult fodder in the first, which is actually later seen in the background of Down The Tubes, even though the level is underwater and ends up landing on the Princess you been playing hours to rescue when you're three feet away from her, to rescuing them in the second in Udderly Abducted to use their milk to fill buckets to open gates. Talking cows also congratulate the player at the ends of levels.
    • Not to mention the complete Mind Screw that was the ending of the second game. Suffice to say, said ending attempts to take this trope further than perhaps any other source.
  • Everything's Better With... the Turf Herders!
  • Many Raiden first stages have cows on the ground below you.
  • The two-headed "brahmin" cattle have appeared all over the Fallout series and are often associated with Easter eggs or mini-quests.
    "Moo! Moo, I say!"
    • Also worth mention: T-1000 cow, cow-tipping, cows playing cards and mistaking the player's team for the Feds, Brahmin Armor.
  • The sequel to Crystal Quest reveals your Flying Saucer — depicted in gameplay as a 16-pixel-wide circle — to be piloted by a six-legged Space Cow.
  • Pokémon Gold and Silver has Miltank.
  • For no reason at all, one early boss in Death Smiles is "Giant Cow - Mary". Well, see for yourself.
  • Cows are used as a defense mechanism in Rock of Ages. They push boulders away, power fans, and can even be launched from your castle's catapult to deal heavy damage to the opposing boulder.
  • The Tauren of World of Warcraft are three meter tall Badass Pacifist upright walking bovines (rather than men with bulls' heads.) They don't have udders, aren't herbivorous and certainly are never eaten by other sentient humanoid species. Regardless, they are notorious for being the butt of notoriously many bad cow related jokes among the player community, and vast majority of their players gives them names referring to beef or milk products or puns on the word 'bull'.
    • Given that many of the /silly and /flirt lines of the tauren also use bovine-related humor, it seems Blizzard expected this. They are also the only species that actually play a sound effect when the /moo command is used.
  • A rumor surrounding the first Diablo game involved a "secret cow level". It was an Ascended Meme in Diablo II; the Secret Cow Level (aka The Moo Moo Farm) featured hordes of high-level bipedal bovines swarming toward your character wielding poleaxes, mooing all the while.
  • In Black & White, you can choose a cow for a companion critter. While the Creatures technically start as True Neutral, the cow leans more to benevolent actions like eating grain instead of worshippers.
  • In the Day Of The Tentacle intro the protagonists' car runs into a barn. Then they are followed by an upright-walking cow. Then the cow waves her foreleg at them and gives up the chase as hopeless. Later the evil Purple tentacle does some cow-tipping.
  • In Fighters Destiny, one of the unlockable characters is Ushi, a fighting cow from Hokkaido.
  • Cthulhu Saves the World has "The Bovinators" as enemies on the Ultharian spaceship. The Ultharians steal cattle and turn them into genetically-engineered super soldiers with big guns.
  • The "Whizz Words" on Addicting Games moos whenever you play the words cow, moo, bull, beef, farm or mad.

    Webcomics 

     Western Animation 

    Other 
  • The help screen for apt-get (Debian Linux's package manager) mentions that it has "Super cow powers". Typing "apt-get moo" at the command line gives you an ASCII Art rendering of a cow.
  • Cowsaynote  is a joke application to render input text as a speech bubble or a thought bubble of an ASCII Art cow.
  • Both Cowsay and apt-get Easter Egg have been inspired by a collection of ASCII cows that has circulated Internet from times immemorial.
  • "E-Cow-Nomics", a poster that explains various economics models with cows. For example, traditional capitalism is explained as:
    "You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income."
    • ... whereas Nazism consists of:
      "You have two cows. The State takes them both and shoots you."
  • Tom Servo 3 has cows as one of her many Running Gags (specifically Thomas and Alfred, the two cow-hating farmers, and Nazi Cows).
  • Subversion: Mass Effect 3 had a "Space Edition", where some special packages of the game were shot to the upper atmosphere in balloons, and then fans tried to track them down. One in England led to this amusing update.

     Real Life 
  • University of California, Davis is well known for cows, rumored to smell like cows, the rock climbing competition is the Cow Crank, and used to trot out a fistulated cow (don't ask) at a school event every year. Oddly enough, the school mascot is not a cow. (not that they haven't tried...)
  • Cow Parade is an art exhibit where artists in a city all get a cow to decorate. This has branched out into all kinds of merchandise tie-ins.
  • In the 90's there was a TV-add for a German travel agency, that consisted of several pictures with voiceovers of family members telling what they want to do and see during their holidays. It got quite some infamy for the line by a little girl "I want cows!". Most germans of age 20 and older will instantly recognize that line.
  • The chocolate milk Toddy uses cows in their ads and on cans.
  • An animation by Cyriak.
  • The College of Wooster has adopted the cow as a second (or third, depending on how you count) mascot, to the point where there are MOOvers to help students on move-in day and shirts featuring the "Wooster Cow-Tipping Team." Three guesses as to why the cow has become so popular.
  • Hinduism teaches that cows are symbols of innocence and should not be eaten, and once-domestic cows can be seen freely roaming around India. On the holiday Gopastami they honor cows although this may be more a celebration of cowherding than of the cows themselves.
  • Cows were a measure of wealth for many Iron Age and late Bronze Age cultures, including the ancient Celts, many East African tribes, the Homeric Greeks, and the ancient Romans. ("Pecuniary" comes from the Latin _pecus_, "cattle".) Modern expressions like the Texan "all hat and no cattle" reflect this to an extent.


Clucking FunnyGarnishing the StoryEverything's Better with Dinosaurs
Drill MoleMammal TropesEverythings Better With Llamas
Bewitched AmphibiansImageSource/Comic BooksGenius Loci

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