Nightmare Fuel: Courage the Cowardly Dog

You're not perfect...

Courage the Cowardly Dog has a ton of freaky stuff in every episode, with some comedy to add a little Nightmare Retardant in. However, some episodes tend to avoid the comedy angle, and we end up getting these. In fact, these moments are so frightening that you may actually wonder why this show airs on the daily Cartoon Network timeline instead of the [adult swim] timeline, which would actually fit there.
  • The freaking pilot episode was already filled with terrifying scenes such as the Chicken from Outer Space breaking the neck of one of the farm's chicken (with a bunch of already dead chicken lying around) and Eustace's slow transformation into a Space Chicken (and he's Laughing Mad through the entire process).
    • Also, when Courage brings Muriel, it was just the Space Chicken and the bodies of the dead chicken had all dissappeared. We never find out what the Space Chicken did to them, as Courage frantically looks for them in the hay.
  • The episode with the Weremole, especially when it bites Muriel, eventually causing her to transform into another one.
  • There are plenty of scary episodes, but "Freaky Fred" stands out. He's obviously not right in the head, and he has sharp pointy objects within reach.
    • What makes Fred stand out from all the other villains of Courage was that he had no malicious or murderous intent with any of his actions. He was just an insane man with an almost fetish-level obsession with shaving people against their will (incidentally, shaving IS a sexual fetish). Despite his urges ruining his only relationship, his career, and his life in general, he shows no remorse for what he's done, though he knows its wrong. He cant stop himself because its what makes him happy. And the worst part is that he's probably the only Courage villain to "win", in that he succeeds in shaving Courage bare, save for his tail (because that would be weird).
    • The choir of children that can be heard singing when Fred starts shaving Courage... *shudder*
    • This episode is also unique in that it is told from the villain's point of view, so the viewer gets a better look inside Fred's mind.
    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... very naughty...
    • Nightmare Retardant: some people find "NAUUUUUUUUGHTY" hilarious.
    • Freaky Fred is essentially a serial killer in everything but action. He isn't actually dangerous, thank God, because his compulsion isnt lethal, but there are people like him in the real world, with the same lack of restriction, and THEIR impulses aren't harmless. Fred isn't evil, not in the traditional sense. He isn't Katz, a cruel, sadistic bastard who enjoys tormenting those weaker than him. He isn't Le Quack, a criminal mastermind. He isn't even the Queen of the Black Puddle, a supernatural predator. Freaky Fred is, for all intents and purposes, your friends, your neighbors, your family, and you will never know, because most of them are never caught. They don't want to hurt you, they know it's wrong, but they have to, because it's what their brain tells them to do.
  • The scene in the episode "Courage the Fly" where Eustace is chasing Courage as a fly. At one point, he gets Muriel's face stuck with fly paper and physically tears it off. When he puts it back, he puts her face back upside down. Thank god for cartoon physics.
  • "Retuuuuurn the slaaaab...or suuuffer my cuuuuurse...", or King Ramses from "King Ramses' Curse". To some, it's not even so much the voice, or his equally creepy Leitmotif, but the way he moves. The way they animated him makes him look just like an Uncanny Valley reanimated corpse (not helping matters was that as opposed to the 2D animated characters, he's animated in CGI). And he just stood out in front of their house the whole time, never moving from that spot, but always watching them.
    • On the other hand, the really bad disco music in the second curse could be considered memorable for giving something of a Mood Whiplash to an otherwise terrifying episode.
    • In the beginning of "King Ramses' Curse", a giant black swarm chases the thieves who stole the slab. They bury it just in time for the cloud of doom to reach them. The camera pans to the side as they scream, and when it pans back, there's nothing left of the thieves or their car.
    • How about the ending of the episode? Eustace still refuses to give up the slab, and tries to extort Ramses to return it. The episode ends with a TV interview with an archeoligist saying that the slab has been returned to Ramses tomb, only for the camera to show that EUSTACE has now been imprisoned with as an image on the slab.
  • The season finale "Perfect" ended the series with some particularly chilling moments. Possibly they were saving the scariest for last.
    • The elephant in the room here is the Perfect Trumpet Thingy, pictured above. This is most definitely the scariest thing to ever appear on the show. It's a downright bizarre hallucination of Eustace's broken bugle at the beginning of the episode... except it now sports a whispery, eerie human head (with the bugle's tube going directly through the top of it and out the other end).
      • If you thought the picture alone was bad (that thing just stares into your soul), it's even better when you see it in motion. There are two reasons behind its "being creepier in motion": the vaguely off-key (or distorted, take your pick) background music, and the way the creature's eyes seem to imply that it is somewhat of an incomplete experiment, waiting for someone to put it out of its misery.
      • What's even worse is the fact that it's slowly floating towards the camera in an ominous aura of white light, and that behind it is an incomprehensible, foggy blue backdrop. Then, after it quietly delivers its line, it creepily looks away from the camera and smiles weakly, all while the whisper "perfect" echoes louder and faster in the background. The sequence itself begins without warning, yet it ends so quickly that you'll be asking yourself: "What the hell was that?"
      • Another creepy factor (which extends to the episode as a whole) is the recurring theme of imperfection, as it is - especially counting the "it's your fault"-ish way the line is delivered by the bugle- likely to induce slight cases of inferiority complex among the more literal-minded viewers. It doesn't help much that the way the dream is presented makes it appear as if it's directly addressing the viewer, rather than Courage.
    • The Perfect Trumpet Thingy was only the first in five nightmares Courage had to endure, the other four ranging from being genuinely creepy to saddening.
      • The second nightmare was essentially a Downer Ending parody of The Wizard of Oz, with the three main Oz inhabitants —the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow, all portrayed by Courage— not getting either of the things they desired —to have a heart, to be brave, and to have a brain, respectively—, while The Wicked Witch of the West (also played by Courage) watches them from her crystal ball, cackling at them.
      • The third nightmare was a bunch of childish drawings rendered in CG, fluttering around a blue abstract space, while an ominous wind chime plays.
      • The fourth nightmare (animated in stop-motion) was Courage on stage juggling bowls of soup in front of an audience. The audience begins to laugh at him, upon which Courage realizes the bottom half of his body has been shaved. In embarrassment, he tries to cover himself, breaking his concentration and causing the bowls of soup to fall down and spill all over him.
      • The fifth and final dream, depicted in a crudely drawn, cut-out cartoon, is Muriel handing Courage a giant vase. Courage accidentally drops it...which causes Muriel to then shatter like glass. Courage utters a anguishing "NO!" in horror as the entire dream similarly shatters into nothingness.
    • The Perfectionist; not only does she torment Courage and give him the aforementioned sequences of nightmares, but when Courage finally accepts himself for who he his, she melts.
  • There's also a nightmare factory of an episode that is "Courage in the Big Stinkin' City". The whole episode is creepy, but it really cranks it Up to Eleven when Courage enters the condemned apartment building to retrieve a package. The first two doors are rather silly (like an oncoming shark, or King Ghidorah), but when he opens the third door, he sees a young 12-year-old girl playing the violin, which Courage likes. She soon turns around and goes scary bitch mode on Courage, revealing a freaky demon face and screams!
    • It doesn't help that she's animated in a claymation style instead of the normal 2D art. When they decide to change the animation style for a character, they do NOT mess around.
    • The Fridge Horror that is the monster behind the door from the same episode. Complete with skeletons around the room and a "help me" message written on the window. Even worse, we never find out what the monster is. Also, the whole entire reason Schwick sent Courage to get the package with a squeegee inside was only because he needed to remove the "help me" message. Possibly to lure more victims without suspicion.
    Schwick: You wanna know what made these bones? You don't wanna know what made these bones.
    • The fact that Schwick is a giant cockroach is really nightmare fuel; cockroaches are nasty enough to begin with, and Schwick is five feet tall.
  • "The House Of Discontent" is about as intentionally scary as the above examples. The premise involves an Uncanny Valley spirit harvest moon with a creepy white human face and dark soulless eyes trying to entrap and melt the Bagge family because Eustace failed to grow a plant to ensure his farmer status. Again, like Ramses, the Spirit Harvest Moon's Leitmotif is quite creepy.
    • The voice was surprisingly deep and ominous as well, but the real thing that made this terrifying was that this was an eerily-out-of-place live-action black-and-white disembodied head, interacting onscreen with Courage and his owners. The fact that they were shown onscreen at the same time just seemed to add to the guy being convincingly scary, and the different styles were even more dissonant than the Uncanny Valley-CGI Ramses, who never shared the screen with any other characters.
    • How about the fact that the Spirit of the Harvest Moon tries to KILL Eustace, and by extension Muriel, for not honoring their land properly? Yeah, turns out the the reason the Bagge's property is a wasteland is because Eustace is a selfish, cruel old crank who is too broken to understand the symbiosis of a farmer and his land.
  • Any episode featuring Katz. Katz has no qualms about killing Courage or anyone, and he seems to have no traces of comedy whatsoever. His Leitmotif might be as equally creepy accompanying his appearances.
    • "A Night at the Katz Motel" is arguably his worst appearance, as his monstrous schemes at its worst take place in the middle of the night in a rundown motel. This episode is definitely not for arachnophobes.
    • He's a Serial Killer and most of his episodes imply the family are only the latest in a long line of victims to fall into his traps...and the only ones to leave.
    • He only targeted Muriel in one episode for the fact that her pies won first ribbon over his.
  • The zombie director episode "Everyone Wants To Direct". This episode had a dark atmosphere with barely any humor, and the plot involving killing someone in a movie for real is all too real. Also, said zombies turned out to be past serial killers who managed to slay a dozen people on a kid's show.
    • At least Benton had his face covered by the goofy fake nose and glasses for most of the episode. His partner, Errol Van Volkheim, on the other hand we see in all of his disturbing, rotting glory. With stringy hair, decayed and sharp teeth, bones poking through his skin, and missing his eyes save for one that looks like it's about ready to pop out of its socket at any second. Oh, and let's not forget that shrieking noise he makes when he first rises from the grave (check it out here: Seriously, all that on a kids show.
  • Some of Courage's screams can be very terrifying for kids, especially when some body parts are deformed or organs come outside. Watch it, if you dare. By far the scariest is the scream from "Car Broke, Phone Yes" (the fourth clip in the video), where Courage utters an unholy banshee-esque high-pitched screech.
  • "Cabaret Courage". Getting dropped into a room which looks like (is?) the inside of a human body, talking to a guy that looks like an ulcer, then performing for that guy, getting dropped into some kind of green digestive-acid if you fail...
  • "The Mask", which features a girl in a flowing white dress wearing a giant creepy doll mask (and a terrible, raspy voice) who beats the shit out of Courage due to a hatred of dogs and spies on them to look for any sign of hypocrisy. The back story about her friend's abuse by a pack of dogs is a (not even thinly veiled) depiction of domestic abuse and forced prostitution. Courage The Cowardly Dog, a children's cartoon series with an episode revolving around an inner-city gangland drama.
  • "Curtain of Cruelty" is definitely scary. The town turning from kind into rude and hateful. To make things worse, Muriel is dragged off for not being mean, and is forced to undergo re-education, where she is forced to watch a video of dolls being broken by a fist, and eventually told to smash a hamster with a mallet. Thankfully, she resists the brainwashing. Then at the end of the episode, the gerbil is now smiling, only for it to turn out that Eustace is now being put through re-education to be GOOD by the voice and the hamster, who hits him with a mallet as the screen turns black.
  • Eustace being consumed by foot fungus in "The Clutching Foot". Especially the way its presented. Eustace decides to take a nap to get rid of his foot fungus rather than going to the doctor like a sensible person, and wakes up the next day feeling refreshed and healthy... then he glances downwards...
  • It's Doc Gerbil's World, it's Doc Gerbil's World. For those who don't know, in the episode "Human Habitrail", Courage ends up in the horrible cosmetics-themed version of "It's a Small World". And it is creepy.
    • Doctor Gerbil himself is probably one of the most frightening characters to ever appear on the show. Masquerading as a kindly vacuum salesman and Southern Gentleman, he's really a deranged scientist who kidnaps his customers and performs all kinds of sick experiments on them to test out his products (which leads to all kinds of Body Horror). Let's also not forget the horrifying Evil Laugh he lets out whenever he experiments.
    • How about the implication that he thinks he's being GOOD? He thinks that kidnapping humans and subjecting them to horrible experiments is payback for humans doing the same to animals, nevermind that the humans he's doing this to has no involvement in animal research and never did. And then there's the crazy woman he's driven insane and given suction-cup feet to...
  • The Great Fusili. Specifically the ending. In it, Courage fails to stop Muriel and Eustace from being turned into puppets. Well, thank God that this show has a Negative Continuity. However, this was originally going to be the last episode... There's also the nonexistent crowd, Fusili being turned into a puppet as well and the countless victims beforehand. Seriously, Fusili's puppet storage looks like a Cannibal Larder...
    • Courage reenacts his usual situation with them, implying that he had gone through some serious Sanity Slippage by the episodes' end.
  • The Evil Vet from the episode "Remembrance of Courage Past". At least Katz in some episodes, had reason to try commit atrocities, but the vet just seems to enjoy being evil. He's the one who not only directly traumatized Courage as a child, but was also responsible for the disappearance of his parents and Courage ending up as an orphan until Muriel rescued him. Any villain from the cartoon pales in comparison to the evil vet.
  • The episode 'Bad Hair Day' has a sequence where Courage goes into a building that farms humans for hair, and he sees dozens of humans hanging from rope on the ceiling... Most of whom have their eyes closed and are not moving, though they probably arent dead, as human hair stops growing after death, aside from a minor post-mortem burst.
  • In "The Tower of Dr. Zalost," the titular doctor (who has, at this point, forcefully made all of Nowhere depressed) chokes Courage onscreen. Later, after Courage creates an antidote for Zalost's cannon balls and destroys the fortress, a scorched, seething Zalost chases Courage back into the house, forcing Courage and a newly cured Muriel to hide in the kitchen. Thankfully, Zalost gets better immediately afterward.
  • Though all of these can be Nightmare Retardant, due to a popular theory, Courage has paranoia, massive fear of everything, doggy instinct to protect his family and possible psychotic neurosis and/or schizophrenia and everything happening in the show may all be just in his head. note 
  • While not as iconic as a lot of scares and villains on the show (heck, the antagonists were just Well Intentioned Extremists), the episode Courageous Cure is outright disturbing in its handling of body horror and Involuntary Shapeshifting.
  • The episode "Ball of Revenge." It features six of the most terrifying villains in the show, united under a common goal: completely annihilating Courage. But the worst part? Eustace was the one who brought them together. Now he isn't just an annoyance and a jerk, he is a true antagonist to Courage. Even dedicated viewers likely didn't expect him to go this far in his hatred.
    • Freaky Fred's short cameo at the end, notably his first appearance in the show since his introduction, counts as well. All the villains have been defeated, Eustace is punished, and everything seems to be going well- until Courage turns on the TV and Fred appears, calling Courage's name with his razor at the ready. Fred is still out there, and he's not done with Courage...

Alternative Title(s):

Courage The Cowardly Dog