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    A 
  • Absentee Actor: "Cajun Granny Stew" is the only episode not to feature Eustace (although there are many where he is barely featured, such as "Tulip's Worm" and "Last of the Starmakers").
  • Accent Depundent: In-Universe; when Courage asks for help regarding a mummy, Computer thinks he means mommy, since "mummy" is the British way of writing it.
    Computer: If your mummy is coming for a visit, then give her flowers, you twit.
    Courage: (frowns, retypes)
    Computer: Oh, a mummy, that's much worse.
  • Acme Products: "Dil" Products, actually. It applies to certain things like blowtorches, vacuum cleaners, alkaline batteries, power cables and in one case, a grocery store.
  • Adult Fear: Courage's parents get sent to Pluto and he's all alone until Muriel finds him. They return in the series finale.
  • 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.
  • Affectionate Parody: "Cajun Granny Stew" is an affectionate send-up to Looney Tunes.
  • Alien Animals: The Space Chicken and his family qualify as aliens resembling animals.
  • All Just a Dream: The main story of "Cowboy Courage" is Courage dreaming as Muriel reads him a story.
  • Always Someone Better: Eustace's brother Horst, who was better at everything.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: The titular dog is pink with black spots.
    • 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 which is further supported by their antennae).
  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • Big Bayou, the snake that enslaves the slugs, has prominent eyelashes and constantly flaunts and talks about his own beauty.
    • Kitty and Bunny repeatedly describe each other as "friends", but the happiness they show when reunited suggests that they may be more than just friends.
  • 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.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: Such an exchange occurs in the episode "House of Discontent".
    Spirit of the Harvest Moon: I am the Spirit of the Harvest Moon.
    Eustace: And I'm a bucket of sardines.
  • Angry Mob: Eustace gathers an angry mob in "Courage Meets Bigfoot". When Bigfoot reunites with his adoptive mother however, they turn on Eustace.
  • Animation Bump: For a brief period towards the end of "Squatting Tiger, Hidden Dog", Courage and the evil Empress suddenly get a rapidly-animated fight that has probably some of the most fluid animation in the entire series, even though it lasts about fifteen seconds.
  • 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.
  • Art Shift: Two notable instances happen in the last two episodes:
    • In "Remembrance of Courage Past", Courage's backstory is shown through a series of flashbacks which resemble crudely-drawn crayon art that children usually make.
    • In the series finale "Perfect", Courage has several nightmares with each one being drawn in a different style of animation, such as CGI for one that features a creepy blue trumpet thing and stopmotion for another that has Courage performing in a talent show.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: In "Mother's Day" Courage is shown eating chocolate with no ill effects even though chocolate is known to be lethal to dogs.
  • Artistic License – Biology: According to the "Cabaret Courage" episode, if you feel sufficiently disgusted by other people's selfishness, you can become an ulcer in your own intestines, which will grow large enough to engulf an entire theater with them.
  • 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.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Dr. Vindaloo.
  • Ass Shove: The Cajun Fox tosses Courage onto a fountain of a mermaid, and said mermaid's hand seems to be stuck up Courage's ass, particularly because of his mouth serving as a water spout.
  • Asshole Victim: Eustace tends to get what he deserves for being a jerk, many episodes even ending with him getting killed. But the ones who are even more so are Bunny's abusive boyfriend Mad Dog in "The Mask" and the evil vet who sent Courage's parents to the moon when he was a puppy in "Remembrance of Courage Past".
  • Ax-Crazy: Katz and Freaky Fred are both clearly shown to be psychotic and unstable. Ironically none of them favour axes, Katz is into more indirect and convoluted yet much more dangerous death traps while Fred only uses sharp shavers.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Eustace and Muriel sometimes show that they actually do care for one another, such as seeking marriage counseling in "The McPhearson Phantom". They also got a sweet moment in "The Mask".
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    B 
  • Bag of Holding: Muriel has one, seen in "Curse Of Shirley".
  • Bald of Evil: Eustace and his mother lack hair, although it's really more bald of Jerkass.
  • Bankruptcy Barrel: In "Swindlin' Wind", Shirley the Medium places a curse on Eustace and Muriel that makes them swindle each other. Eventually, Muriel ends up wearing nothing but a cardboard box while Eustace is left wearing a barrel. Despite the fact that they were in a swindling match against each other.
  • 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 saves the day against Katz.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: "Courage Meets Bigfoot" has Courage encounter Bigfoot, who turns out to be harmless and childlike.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: The three main characters, with Muriel being overweight, Eustace being thin, and Courage being the shortest of the three because he's a dog.
  • Big "NO!": One of Eustace's catch phrases is to yell "No".
  • 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 deer 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. Oh and he also started hunting deer to prove himself to Horst. Muriel is really the only person in the family who isn't completely screwed up, if you don't count Courage. Even Fred, Muriel's nephew, is insane and has an almost fetishistic compulsion to shave people. He gets locked up in an asylum at the end of his episode.
  • Black Comedy: This show loves using dark humor, especially when it comes to Eustace's numerous deaths (and to a lesser extent, the literal pain that Courage keeps going through).
  • Black Eyes of Evil: The Harvest Moon spirit has black eyes and black lips. However it would be more correct call this Black Scary Eyes since he's not evil, at least not completely.
  • Blatant Lies: In "The Shadow of Courage", when Eustace defends making Courage sleep in the attic.
    Muriel: Eustace, don't you think it's a bit cruel to make Courage sleep in the attic?
    Eustace: Seemed pretty happy to me.
  • Blind Without 'Em:
    • Eustace cannot see well without his glasses; in one episode, he gets dragged halfway across the world without him knowing it.
    • Important plot point in "The Curse of Shirley": Eustace is cursed to be rained on until he shows generosity, and the rain gets so bad that it floods the Bagge house and threatens 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 anatomy being distorted, changed, or whatever in really disturbing ways. Especially most of Courage's screams which would result in this. However, the episode that provokes this the most are the episodes "Cabaret Courage" and "The Clutching Foot" with a Hollywood bigshot who had become one with his cabaret and turned into a a talking terratoma in the former and Eustace's foot getting a fungus that swells his foot so much it takes over his whole body and starts a mobster crime spree in the latter.
  • Born Lucky: The Cajun Fox claims to be born lucky, but his constant humiliation and injury makes it apparent that the opposite is closer to the truth.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: At least four antagonists have borrowed Eustace's catchphrase of calling Courage a "stupid dog".
    • King Buffo from "Feast of the Bullfrogs" yells "Stupid dog!" as he leaves after his defeat.
    • Jeeves Weevil from "Evil Weevil" is defeated when Courage tricks him into sucking his own body fat and making him shrink to the size of a normal insect. The villain responds by kicking Courage in the shin and yelling "Stupid dog!" in a high-pitched voice.
    • After Dr. Zalost's tower is demolished the furious and scorched doctor emerges with a single cannonball meant for Courage and in his fury calls him this as well, prompting an unwitting Eustace to lampshade that this is what he keeps telling him all the time and Zalost to laugh hysterically.
    • The Snowman, after dropping Eustace's anti-melting gene, also drops this catchphrase due to it being Courage's fault. Eustace excitedly lampshades this too, while stressing that he doesn't do anything right.
  • Bound and Gagged: Muriel gets tied up in "The Precious, Wonderful, Adorable, Loveable Duckling"; complete with ropes, and a blue bandanna gag covering up to her nose.
  • 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.
  • Bratty Food Demand: In "Little Muriel", Muriel is turned into a little girl and demands that Courage make her macaroni cheese with more cheese, less macaroni, etc and when he finally makes some macaroni and cheese that she deems perfect, she throws it at him and says, "I hate macaroni and cheese.".
  • Brawn Hilda: Muriel gets mistaken for a Valkyrie by a race of Brïnnhilde-esque Valkyries. The Valkyrie the sisters thought Muriel was, is actually named Brïnnhilde.
  • Breather Episode: "Mother's Day", in a sense. Although it's not the only episode of the series that doesn't feature any of the show's usual supernatural or criminal elements, it's more of a character study involving Eustace and Courage having to deal with Eustace's abusive mother.
  • Broken Record: Bushwick's Suspiciously Specific Denial and Accidental Misnaming routine are always spoken with the same words every time.
  • Brown Note: King Ramses' second curse is having a record annoy the Bagges with a record player playing a song about him. Out of universe it's actually considered hilarious, but in universe it's horrifying enough to be considered worse than the water plague.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Due to his Jerkass tendencies and his stupidity, Eustace tends to pick on the various supernatural threats that show up when doing so obviously won't end well.
  • Butt-Monkey: Courage goes through a lot of misfortune meaning here a lot of slapstick abuse. Also Eustace, though he usually deserves it.

    C 
  • 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.
      • 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..."
    • Eustace has several that also use the same sound clip which include "Stupid Dog!", "Blah blah blah", and "What's yer offer!"
    • Muriel typically utters "Oh my!" at least once an episode.
    • Katz has "I (really) wish you hadn't done that."
    • And, of course, the Computer. "You twit."
  • Casting Gag: The European Spanish voice actors for Eustace and Muriel (Rafael de Penagos and María Romero) had previously played a bickering married couple of polar opposites in the dub of George & Mildred. They were also reportedly quite close in Real Life.
  • Cats Are Mean: Recurring nemesis Katz, whose schemes always involve torturing or killing the Bagges 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 specifically taken from him by a crazed vet and sent on a rocket into space.
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: The show switching between a serious tone and a more humorous tone 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.
  • 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" end up making Dr. Zalost happy and convincing him to stop being evil.
    • The Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich (with just a 'wee' dash of vinegar) from "Tulip's Worm" is used to make the titular worm regurgitate out Courage, Muriel, and the teddy bears.
    • Muriel's tears in "Queen Of The Black Puddle" allow Courage and Eustace to escape the titular Queen of the Black Puddle.
    • Muriel's homemade fabric softener in "Curtain of Cruelty" ends up making Muriel and Courage immune to Floyd's Cruelty Curtain. Courage also ends up using it to reverse the effects and make everyone affected by the Cruelty Curtain nice again.
    • Eustace's memory quilt in "The Quilt Club" is used in defeating the Stitch sisters.
  • Chew-Out Fake-Out: In "Curtain of Cruelty", a man in a suit affected by the titular Cruelty Curtain catches Eustace replacing his car's stolen wheels by stealing wheels from a baby carriage. After it looks like the man is going to reprimand Eustace for his actions, it instead turns out that the man is impressed that Eustace would stoop to such a low and rallies everyone into making Eustace their new mayor.
  • Chubby Mama, Skinny Papa: Muriel and Eustace are technically this, since Muriel is overweight and Eustace is skinny as a rail, and they're both surrogate parents to Courage, Muriel moreso.
  • 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 up crime, he ends up becoming a licensed masseuse for electric eels. There's also his tendency to slap people with a fish.
    • Fred has a weird obsession with shaving people and animals and has a tendency to described his actions as "naughty".
    • Dr. Vindaloo is pretty eccentric, mainly due to his obvious shortcomings and incompetence as a medical professional.
  • 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 (though there are cases of this) and more because of his devotion to Eustace's wife Muriel.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Pretty much anytime Courage tries to tell Muriel or Eustace about a monster has them fail to understand that Courage is trying to warn them. See Completely Missing the Point below.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Several comic stories based on Courage the Cowardly Dog appeared in Cartoon Cartoons and Cartoon Network Block Party, which were two of several comic books consisting of comic adaptations of Cartoon Network shows published by DC Comics.
  • Companion Cube: Computer. While his speaking isn't just Courage's delusion, and it may be treated as a living character, it's still a computer.
  • Completely Missing the Point:
    Eustace: Did you break that door?!
    Courage: Ooooh, forget the DOOR!!
  • Conspicuous CGI: The carriage from the mattress episode, the anvil from the precious duckling episode, King Ramses, and the rug in the living room are all clearly made in 3D computer animation. 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. "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.
    • Also the blue creature that says "You're not perfect" in "Perfect" is animated this way.
  • Context-Sensitive Button: Goes on all the time.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: "Ball of Revenge" involves Eustace recruiting villains from previous episodes.
  • 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.
  • Cool Car: Di Lung has an impressive car.
  • Cool Shades: The Cajun Fox wears sunglasses over his huge eyes.
  • Counting Sheep: In "The Sandman Sleeps", it is shown that the Sandman has unsuccessfully tried to cure his insomnia by having sheep jump onto his bed so he can count them. They get bored and one even bleats "Just go to sleep already!"
  • Covert Pervert: Courage is a Nice Guy for the most part, but he is occasionally hinted to have a perverted side. In "Remembrances of Courage Past", a flashback to when he was a puppy has him stumble upon a woman showering while opening doors to look for his parents. He gleefully looks a second time before moving on in his search. It is also implied in "Hard Drive Courage" that he has a collection of porn on his computer.
  • Cowardly Lion/The So-Called Coward: Courage may be scared to death of pretty much everything that comes his way, but he deserves at least some credit for not letting his fear deter him from rescuing the Bagges and anyone else who may be in danger.
  • 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.
  • Cunning Like a Fox: The Cajun Fox tries to outwit Courage in order to keep him from rescuing Muriel.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon:
    • In "Watch the Birdies", the baby birds' mother threatens to eat Muriel with a cereal spoon if she returns to find even one feather on their heads out of place.
    • In "Courage Under the Volcano", Chief Wiki Wiki is angered by the volcano erupting and assumes that it's because Courage interfered with sacrificing Muriel to the volcano god. He informs Courage that he intends to tattoo the dog's face if they survive the eruption.
  • Cyber Space: Played straight in "Hard Drive Courage". Cyberspace is depicted as the actual inside of a computer. You know, chips, motherboards, the usual. Plus a lot of green binary code.

    D 
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Not all the monsters Courage meets are Always Chaotic Evil or hostile - some of them are just Chaotic Neutral or even friendly. In fact in some cases they even need Courage'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 third. "The Mask" is the best example of this.
    • The two Half Hour episodes - "The Tower of Dr. Zalost" and "The Mask" - deviate dramatically from the usual Monster of the Week formula, dealing with much more realistic horrors such as depression and abusive relationships respectively.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: When Nowhere is attacked by a doctor who fired unhappy cannonballs on people, Eustace isn't affected like everybody else. Instead of becoming unhappy, he is turned to ash, indicating that he couldn't be any more unhappy then he already is. Other episodes hint at his terrible childhood, though no events from it are shown. Apparently his mother and brother were very cruel to him growing up.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Courage's Computer, as well as Shirley the Medium, both tend to make sardonic remarks.
    • 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 plays the violin in "Courage in the Big Stinkin' City" has a really horrifying face.
  • Deranged Animation: Where do we begin, Conspicuous CG fetus with realistic face, Synchro-Vox faced tree and moon, and the Stop Motion violin girl, in addition to the already creepy characters in the series. This show is just full of disturbing animated sequences.
  • 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 faces 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 Mecha-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.
  • Diabolus ex Nihilo: This trope is commom through the series, as some monsters and other threats normally appear in the farmhouse without any explict reason.
  • 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?
  • Dirty Kid:
    • The titular duckling from "The Precious, Wonderful, Adorable, Lovable Duckling" at one point tries to peep on Muriel while she's bathing. Courage catches him and smacks him upside the head.
    • Surprisingly, Courage himself is shown to have been one in one of the flashback sequences of when he was a puppy in "Remembrance of Courage Past". While looking for his parents, he stumbles upon a woman showering and happily takes a second look before continuing his search.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • The evil librarian from "Wrath of the Librarian" torments Courage and transforms Eustace and Muriel into characters from his overdue library book just because he can't afford to pay the fine.
    • Shirley the Medium often puts a curse on the Bagge family because of slights, though in Shirley's cases it's usually because Eustace adds on his Jerkassery to his refusals to pay her and she always gives him a chance to lift the curse.
    • The biggest example of unreasonably harsh retribution 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.
  • 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 easy to interpret Fred's poem as ramblings of an insane serial-rapist. Plus the whole "locked in a bathroom" thing...
    • "The Mask" deals with domestic abuse situations.
    • "The Quilt Club" villains use the same tactics as cults do. Start out wanting someone to join your "club," proceed to alienate them from their friends and family, and then proceed to state their group is the only thing that matters. And it works on Muriel.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Dr. Zalost's rat assistant is named Rat.
  • Dogs Love Fire Hydrants: In one of the flashbacks of when Courage was a puppy in "Remembrance of Courage Past", Courage's parents are shown playing catch with him, with Courage getting his head stuck in a gate because his parents were distracted by admiring a fire hydrant.
  • 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 is named Rasmus and Muriel is named 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.

    E 
  • Early-Bird Cameo: All of the monsters, creatures and antagonists seen in the first season's opening wouldn't appear until the second season: Schwick (who first appears in "Courage in the Big Stinkin' City"), the McPhearson Phantom (who doesn't appear until the episode of the same name), Robot Randy (who doesn't appear until his self-titled episode), the mummified Mayan baker (who doesn't appear until the episode "Courage Meets the Mummy"), Carmen (who doesn't show up until the episode "Serpent of Evil River" and who only appears because of her looks and not because of any antagonism on her part), and one of the banana people (who don't appear until the episode "1000 Years of Courage").
  • Early Installment Weirdness: A small 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". "Cajun Granny Stew" is easily the most stand-out episode of this.
    • In one of the earlier episodes, Muriel calls Eustace "Grandpa".
    • Muriel's Scottish accent is slightly more pronounced in earlier episodes as well.
    • Some of the earlier episodes, such as "A Night at the Katz Motel" and "The Shadow of Courage", appear to vaguely imply that Eustace and Muriel can understand Courage, when the rest of the series has Courage incapable of speaking in anything other than complete gibberish in front of the Bagges and the Bagges consequently ignoring his attempts at warning them of danger.
  • 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. Played with because he didn't really do it but Muriel thought he did and took it rather well nonetheless.
  • Easy Amnesia: Muriel and later Eustace suffers memory loss from a concussion in "Dr. Le Quack Amnesia Specialist".
    Eustace: Where am I? (to Courage) Who are you? Who am I?
  • Eldritch Abomination: There are a whole lot of these that show up on the show.
    • The giant starfish which Shirley summons that eats cities and won't stop until hearing Muriel speak.
    • 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 is a place that has a lot of strangeness to it, mainly in the number of monsters and supernatural creatures that keep popping up. It's not very often the default setting of a show is one.
  • Ending Theme: An utterly hilarious 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.
  • Everytown, America: The series is set in the town of Nowhere, Kansas.
  • Evil Albino: The Harvest Moon, is expectedly just a face, white as the very surface of the moon. He's even more like Scary Albino.
  • Evil Laugh: Quite a few villains have evil laughs.
    • The King of Flan has an epic one.
    • Dr. Zalost gets a good one, too.
    • Katz has a great sadistic one.
    • Le Quack has a French version of one.
  • Evil Matriarch: Eustace's mother is a pretty awful person, though her first appearance did portray her as sympathetic after Eustace comforts her when she loses her hair.
  • Evil Old Folks: Eustace is more of a grumpy, crabby Jerkass than actually evil, but he definitely fits the bill in "Ball of Revenge", orchestrating a Villain Team-Up to kill Courage.
  • 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.
  • Expositron 9000: The computer's usual role is to give Courage information about the monsters that threaten him and the Bagges as well as how he can deal with them.
  • Expy:
    • 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.
  • Extra-Long Episode: While most episodes follow the Two Shorts format, with each short being 11 minutes long, some episodes, such as "The Tower of Dr. Zalost" and "The Mask" are full 22-minute episodes.
  • Eye on a Stalk: The Alien Brain Visitor from "Car Broke, Phone Yes" has two eyestalks jutting from his brain-like head.

    F 
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Courage encounters 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.
  • Felony Misdemeanor:
    • From "The Mask":
    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)
    • Although considering Kitty's history, it was kind of understandable.
    • 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.
  • Film Felons: Benton Tarantella and Errol von Volkheim, a duo of serial killers who became amateur filmmakers to lure in victims for snuff films.
  • 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. 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 villains from previous episodes simply because Muriel gave a new blanket to Courage instead of him.
  • Food Fight: Courage and Bigfoot throw food at each other for fun in "Courage Meets Bigfoot".
  • For the Evulz: Many of the villains have some logical (if entirely unjustified) reason for what they do. Usually Eustace disturbs something that should not be disturbed. Kings Ramses wishes to rest in peace, LeQuack has Greed. Katz, Benton Tarantella and few others on the other hand are just trying to kill people for their own amusement (with monetary gain being just a bonus).
  • Fortune Teller: Shirley the Medium is a fortune teller.
  • Fountain of Youth: "Little Muriel" has a tornado cause Muriel to become 3 years old again.
  • 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.
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    G 
  • Gentle Giant: Bigfoot isn't malicious in the least and is basically just a fun-loving child.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The show's gotten away with enough content to warrant its own page.
  • The Ghost: Several times, Muriel mentions relatives that we never see. For instance, she mistakes a police officer for her Cousin Harold in "Muriel Meets Her Match" and she mentions a sister named Dorothy in "Angry Nasty People".
  • Giant Equals Invincible: Eustace becomes a giant kangaroo monster in one episode, he starts destroying cities and kidnaps Muriel. These marsupials can only be defeated by another. This necessitates that Courage must also become a giant kangaroo monster to combat him.
  • Giant Spider: Katz feeds his victims to giant spiders in "A Night At the Katz Motel".
  • 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 the Medium and the Computer both fit the bill, as while they are willing to help Courage when he needs it, they do have their moments of rudeness every now and then.
  • G-Rated Drug: Water, used in "Journey to the Center of Nowhere".
    • Also flan, in another episode, and "the God Bone" in a third. According to an unseen narrator, no dog can cease licking the God Bone once they've started - "It's just that good!"
  • Greater-Scope Villain: 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 Jerkass he is.
  • Green Aesop: Although the presentation is very cartoonish, the snowman's episodes make a point of how global warming and ozone depletion are bad for Earth.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Eustace Bagge is an elderly grouch.
  • 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 undo the curse if she feels they learned their lesson.

    H 
  • Hammer Space:
    • How, exactly, Courage manages 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?
  • Happy Dance: Eustace does one in "Courage Meets Bigfoot" when he finds out that there will be a reward for capturing Bigfoot.
  • Hate Sink: Mad Dog is a disturbingly realistic take on a Domestic Abuser who threatens to bury Bunny and her friend Kitty alive if he saw them together again and he attempts to mow Bunny and Courage down with his car when Courage helped her to escape.
  • Hell Hotel: The Katz Motel qualifies as a hotel that is to be avoided, since it's just a front for Katz to lure in people he can kill.
  • 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 is a dog and he always faces his fears to rescue the Bagges when they are in danger.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Quite a few villains end up being defeated because of their own actions.
    • 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, with Courage using his equipment to undo the spell he's cast to make everyone addicted to his flan and the end of the episode having the foe get hypnotized by one of his billboards and become addicted to his own flan.
    • 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 is defeated by his own shed skins he stuffed animated in part with his own venom. And to top it all off, he is so vain that he can't bring himself to attack his likeness. He is 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?
  • Horny Devils: The Queen of the Black Puddle is cross between a succubus, a siren, and a Deep One.
  • Horny Vikings: The Windmill Vandals in "Windmill Vandals" though they are decidedly more modern as they were around a mere 250 years before the series started. The also are horseback riders as Nowhere, Kansas is a desert, and therefore has no water for miles outside of the windpump on the farm (which is why the attacked the farm nearly 3 centuries ago).
  • 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!
    • Also Di Lung's catchphrase of "Watch where you're going, you fool", since he is too self-absorbed and scornful to realize his own mistakes.

    I 

    J 
  • Jerkass:
    • Eustace is always scaring and mistreating Courage unprovoked and is generally a rotten and spiteful man.
    • Eustace's mom and brother never treated him well and are likely why he's the way he is today.
    • Di Lung (the Chinese Punk Kid), whose catchphrase is "Watch where you're going, you fool!" He's consistently portrayed as an arrogant dick.
  • 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.

    K 
  • Kangaroo Pouch Ride: In "The Transplant", Eustace carries Muriel in his pouch after he first becomes a giant kangaroo monster.
  • Kaiju: Both Eustace and Courage become giant kangaroo monsters in "The Transplant".
  • 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.
  • Kick the Dog: Eustace literally takes every opportunity he can to torment or harm Courage.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: There are occasions where a bad person inflicts harm on someone who deserves it.
    • In Klub Katz Eustace, now 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.
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    L 
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Eustace tends to get his just desserts for being a misanthropic grouch in nearly every episode.
    • A large number of villains suffer this as well.
  • Laughing Mad: Quite a few instances have characters laughing excessively as a sign of insanity.
  • Lean and Mean: Eustace, as well as Katz and the Cajun Fox, are all skinny and mean characters.
  • Leitmotif:
    • Almost every character in the show has their own theme music. Muriel has soft piano music. Eustace has banjo and fiddle music. Le Quack's is French. Dr. Vindaloo's is Indian. Shirley's sounds Romani. Cajun Fox has cajun music. Katz has jazz 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 McPhearson 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.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: Humans and anthropomorphic animals coexist in this setting.
  • Literal Metaphor: Here, living in the middle of nowhere isn't just a figure of speech. They actually live in the middle of a place called Nowhere.
  • Living Shadow: The Shadow from "The Shadow of Courage" is a sentient shadow.
  • 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: In "Windmill Vandals", the Windmill Vandals end up non-fatally decapitating Eustace, Muriel, and Courage. Being a (very scary) comedy the only harm that comes about is having their heads on the wrong bodies.
  • 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.

    M 
  • Mad Scientist: Parodied by Dr. Zalost, the self-proclaimed "unhappy scientist" who takes out his unhappiness on others by creating bombs that make other people as depressed and sad as he is.
  • Made a Slave: Enslavement happens to Courage and his family at times. Notable slavemakers include a giant alien robot and a clan of bullfrogs.
  • Magical Database: Courage's computer knows almost everything and is the go-to source of exposition whenever Courage needs to know how to beat the Monster of the Week.
  • Magic Librarian: And scary, too, in "The Pixie and the Prickle Pirate". The librarian manages to turn Eustace and Muriel into characters from an overdue library book as incentive for Courage to pay the fine.
  • 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 also extends this to the Monster of the Week. For example, when she comes upon Katz strangling Courage in "Katz Motel", she smashes a tennis racket over his head and saves 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.
  • Mass Hypnosis: "King of Flan" has the title antagonist use hypnotic ads to make everyone addicted to his flan.
  • The Mean Brit: The Computer has a British accent and frequently addresses Courage as "You twit".
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Eustace Bagge could be interpreted as 'Useless Baggage' which is what he is during most adventures.
    • 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").
    • Zalost means "mourning" or "sadness" in Slavic. He's on par with Itoshiki "Despair" Nozomu.
    • In the episode, "Heads of Beef" the owner of the diner is a pig named Jean Bon, which sounds very similar to "jambon," the French word for "ham."
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: When he's turned into a fly in "Courage the Fly", Courage keeps getting attracted to sources of bright light, and flies into glass a couple of times as well.
  • Mismatched Eyes:
    • Bigfoot in "Courage Meets Bigfoot" has one green eye and one blue eye.
    • Shirley's eyes have orange irises, though her left eye has a second one, which is green.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Quite often, Eustace's Jerkassery results in Muriel and/or Courage being punished by the people he's slighted when they did nothing blameworthy. Steal the "Forbidden Hat of Gold" and refuse to give it up? Muriel gets dragged away to be sacrificed. Swindle Shirley over a necklace? Both Eustace and Muriel get cursed for it. Refuse to return an Egyptian slab? King Ramses doesn't care that Courage and Muriel are caught up in it until Eustace is finally on his own. Almost every single time he makes a selfish decision, the whole family suffers for it in spades with Eustace occasionally being a Karma Houdini while Courage has to save the household.
  • 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 depressing or nightmarish to hilarious 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 when Courage thwarts the first curse by pulling a plug in the basement.
  • 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!.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • 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!"
  • My Instincts Are Showing: Courage will sometimes act like a normal dog at inconvenient times.
    Courage: (long howl) Man, I gotta stop that. I'm beginning to like it.

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