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YMMV / Courage the Cowardly Dog

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  • Accidental Innuendo: From "1,000 Years Of Courage":
    "I'm just a hairy banana! A big stinkin’ hairy banana!
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • There's a fan theory that states that the events in the show are just normal events as seen from a dog's perspective. Some specifics of the theory include:
      • Courage actually lives on a regular farm. He just thinks it's in "the middle of nowhere" because his owners are too old to walk him and he doesn't know what's outside.
      • The "monsters" in the show are just normal people or objects that Courage imagines as something completely different. That would explain why Eustace and Muriel rarely seem to notice any of them. Courage is actually freaking out over a postman, or a vacuum cleaner.
      • Eustace gets severely injured or killed in many episodes, yet is always completely fine in the next one. In reality, he could just be going to the store, or something, and that Courage simply believes he has passed away.
      • One of the Cartoon Network Groovies, "Courage: Hearts of Love" uses the concept of this theory by having Courage freak out at mundane things during a gathering at the Bagges' house, though it was created several years before the idea became mainstream. Nothing particularly scary is happening but Courage still is freaked out by everything. It also shows Eustace as a less jerkish owner which implies that most of his cruelty is exaggerated by Courage and that he is probably more distant and forceful to Courage compared to Muriel constant kindness to him which causes him to see her as an angel.
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    • Is Eustace a Jerkass Woobie with a Freudian Excuse or a totally unsympathetic jerk? For that matter, was he a nicer person when he and Muriel first met who became cantankerous with age? They do have their genuine moments of affection, after all. It's possible he hates Courage because he's jealous of his close relationship with Muriel.
    • Eustace's brother Horst is depicted in the show as a mean Big Brother Bully, but it is possible to interpret his actions toward his brother as harsh but protective.
      • In the episode "Shirley the Medium", it's ambiguous whether Horst Bagge's ghost tells Eustace not to open his box because he didn't want his brother to have access to his fortune or if Horst is actually warning his brother to protect him because he knows he'd be permanently trapped inside.
      • Horst may have been a jerk about it when he refused to let Eustace come with him on his hunting trips in "Farmer Hunter, Farmer Hunted", but it's conceivable that Horst refused to bring Eustace along because he didn't want him to get hurt.
  • Awesome Music:
    • The Tower of Dr. Zalost's haunting leitmotif, to the point that it's sometimes the only thing that can be heard, even when the titular character is firing cannonballs at our hapless hero.
    • The heartbreakingly beautiful, haunting One-Woman Wail piece played in the Doc Gerbil episode during the wacky boat chase scene.
    • The person who composed that disturbing yet awesome theme in "Windmill Vandals" deserves a medal.
    • The trumpet music that plays at the end of "The Shadow of Courage" and "Last of the Starmakers" is hauntingly beautiful.
    • The bittersweet bell soundtrack for "The Hunchback of Nowhere."
    • The Great Fusilli's theme, in its entirely appropriate Creepy Circus Music style.
    • The subtle organ music that plays during certain events. It plays quite a bit clearer in the quilt club episode, one place where it's really noticeable.
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    • Freaky Fred's excellent score just by a haunting bass, and a repeated xylophone track.
    • This beautiful choral music that plays at the end of "Curtain of Cruelty" and "Muted Muriel".
  • Base-Breaking Character: Eustace. He's either a Jerkass Woobie who's only grouchy because of his rotten childhood or a total asshole who doesn't deserve any sympathy. There are also fans who think he's kind of funny (at least, the funniest of the main trio), but others find him irrationally cruel to his dog well past the point of humor.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • Courage and the Bigfoot as fruit dancers. The preceding food fight is already weird enough, but this whole scene doesn't really seem to have any purpose.
    • A flying dragon coming out of absolutely nowhere (pun not intended) and eating Eustace in the last five seconds of the episode.
    • At the end of the episode "Human Habitrail", the boat chase between Courage and Doc Gerbil is completely silent aside from a One-Woman Wail that comes out of nowhere.
    • Most of Courage's nightmares from the last episode, especially that blue thing. It really has no importance to the rest of the episode except to scare you straight and it really isn't seen or mentioned again in those other nightmares.
    • "Snowman's Revenge" has Snowman breaking out into a So Bad, It's Good musical number about... a chilly love story?
    • "Courage Meets The Mummy" opens with an archaeologist dusting off a gem inside the Mayan temple, which then shoots out a beam of light which gets reflected off some things and causes a disco ball to come out of the ceiling while some music plays for a brief moment. Afterwards, the archeologist just shrugs it off and continues dusting off the gemstone.
    • In "The Magic Tree of Nowhere," Courage digs a moat around the tree and adds Instant Eel to the water. That makes sense in context. The eel then singing "Danny Boy"...not so much.
    • Immediately after King Ramses summons a horde of locusts, Muriel rushes into her kitchen in order to prepare food until she becomes exhausted. There is absolutely no reason for her to do this and nor does this even correlate with the rest of the episode. The only reason one would assume she does so is to prevent it from getting eaten by the locusts, but even then...
  • Broken Base: Season 4's "Ball of Revenge" is one of the most controversial episodes of the entire series:
    • On one hand, fans enjoyed seeing many of the villains (including Katz, Le Quack, and the Cajun Fox among others) return towards the series' end to seek their revenge, and consider it one of the best simply for being one of the darkest episodes of the series. On the other hand, many other fans considered it to be a huge missed opportunity by leaving out so many other villains that were all still alive last time they were seen and had lingering grudges against Courage and his family (like Tarantella or Shwick). Plus there's the fact that Eustace was the one leading them which many fans thought was far too cruel and straight up evil of him to actually want to kill Courage over something as minor as a blanket (which, of course, isn't helped by the fact that Eustace doesn't receive a more severe punishment for that egregious stunt). Finally, several of the villains returning make no sense in context considering that some of them actually tried to harm Eustace specifically in the past (the Queen of the Black Puddle), were just mindless animals with no motivations (the Weremole), or had no possible way of being there in the first place (The Clutching Foot was Eustace's foot fungus that took over his body).
    • The conclusion of the episode is a base-breaker as well: Courage screaming at the top of his lungs for almost a straight minute to defeat the villains is either awesome because he takes them out all at once in a way probably no one expected, or it sucks because it's so out-of-character for Courage to use his screaming as a weapon rather than outsmarting the villains like he usually does.note 
  • Catharsis Factor:
  • Common Knowledge:
    • For the longest time, everyone thought that Ringo Starr voiced the titular Duck Brothers in the episode of the same name. In reality, it was veteran voice actor Will Ryan doing an impression of Starr. Similarly, it was erroneously believed for a long time that Tim Curry voiced the Goose God when it was actually series regular Paul Schoeffler.
    • The instrument in the last episode is a bugle, not a trumpet, as it's commonly assumed.
    • The monster in the first nightmare in "Perfect" is supposed to be a mutation of the aforementioned bugle, yet many fans have thought of it to be a deformed fetus.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Katz, Courage's most recurring foe, is a ruthless and sadistic Serial Killer. While his motives tend to change, each episode he appears in generally has him using some sort of illegitimate business as a front for committing murders, and his list of past victims is strongly implied to be quite long. In his first appearance, he ran a Hell Hotel where he fed all his guests to spiders. Other episodes have seen Katz transforming the guests of his health spa into machines and forcing them to fight to the death for his entertainment; attempting to turn Muriel into candy as revenge for her always beating him in a candy-making competition; and trying to blow up a submarine full of people to drive a rival vacation submarine company out of business. Not content with simply killing Courage, Katz sometimes challenges him to some sort of game solely so that he can inflict more physical pain and drag out the dog;s suffering for as long as he can.
    • The Great Fusilli, from the episode of the same name, is a traveling stage magician who lured people onto his stage under the guise of making them famous actors. He would then have them perform for an imaginary audience, in order to use enchanted puppet strings to convert them into lifeless puppets, which he would then play with for his own amusement. Once Courage finds a room filled with the dozens of people he's converted into marionettes, Fusilli turns his owners Muriel and Eustace into puppets—an act not reversed by the end of the episode, causing Courage to suffer Sanity Slippage—while at the same time attempting to dispose of Courage.
    • "The Quilt Club": The Stitch Sisters, Eliza and Elisa, are the owners of an antique quilt shop and reclusive quilting club who make Muriel work day and night to pass the standards they use to admit those into their club. The club itself is a front; since the dawn of humanity the Sisters have walked the Earth, ensnaring the souls of women to prolong their own youth and binding them forever to their quilt. The souls of their victims are kept within the quilt for centuries on end, forever ripped of everything that once made them unique.
  • Cult Classic: Courage was never widely promoted, but remains widely beloved nearly two decades after it ended for its sheer weirdness, imaginative stories, quirky humor and truckloads of pure, concentrated Nightmare Fuel.
  • Delusion Conclusion: As noted above in Alternative Character Interpretation, a popular theory is that everything is seen from Courage's perspective which means that every horror aspect are just delusions from Courage's easily scared mind.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Freaky Fred. He's easily one of the most harmless villains in the show but he makes up for it by being one of the most... memorable.
    • The Hunchback is one of the most beloved characters for being a genuinely Nice Guy and one of the very few people willingly to stand up to Eustace and his bullying behavior.
    • King Ramses is one of the most memorable villains due to his unnerving design and catchy song.
    • Dr. Zalost is one of the most beloved one-shot villains in the show for being a menacing, sympathetic Tragic Villain with a kickass mecha-tower and a haunting musical theme.
    • Mad Dog, who stands out from even the scariest monsters of the other episodes by how disturbingly realistic he is.
    • The Starmaker is one of the most well remembered non-evil creatures in the series because of how poignant and heartbreaking her episode was.
    • Shirley the Medium has appeared in only 6 episodes of the series' 52 (the last of the episodes she appeared in merely being a brief cameo), but has a sizeable number of fans for being a helpful ally to Courage in his times of need and making hilarious remarks about Eustace's stubborn shortsightedness.
  • Evil Is Cool:
    • Katz is incredibly popular, due to being a smooth bastard with a catchy theme song that nevertheless manages to be utterly terrifying.
    • Dr. Zalost, who rides around in a mechanical castle (and his theme music is amazing.)
  • Fanon:
    • Katz and Kitty (and possibly Cajun Fox) are siblings.
    • The thieves in the beginning of "King Ramses's Curse" are also portrayed by fans to be related to Katz.
    • Shwick and the Violin Girl are friends.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: It is surprisingly common for fans to ship Courage with Shirley the Medium, most likely due to the fact that Shirley is the only notable anthropomorphic dog character on the show other than Courage, let alone the only one that Courage regularly interacts with.
  • Foe Yay Shipping: Katz and Courage. The extent of what these two do to each other in the eyes of fans are... Of course, you don't need to think about that.
  • Friendly Fandoms: The show shares some fans with Invader Zim, primarily due to both cartoons being famous for being both hilarious and nightmarishly disturbing.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • The difference between the words "bravery" and "courage" is that a brave man isn't afraid to start with, while the courageous man is afraid but does what has to be done in spite of his fear. That's Courage the Cowardly Dog in a nutshell. And it's why he's awesome.
    • Courage's last lesson in "Perfect" is to draw a perfect six. Six seems like an arbitrary number, until you realize it was chosen because six is a perfect number.
    • Assuming that King Ramses is Ramses II the Great, the most famous pharaoh of that name, this show is one of the few pieces of media to accurately depict him with red hair. It's either a Genius Bonus or Accidentally Correct Writing.
  • Girl-Show Ghetto: While far from a girly show, according to the creator, part of the reason the show got cancelled was because it was hard to market toys of a pink dog to boys.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The Mission To The Sun became some sort of prediction to Sunshine due to both of their premises being on a mission to rekindle the sun while being sabotaged by another person (Pinbacker for Sunshine and the worm for Courage).
    • Courage is named "Leone" (lion) in Italy, because of his courage. He lives in the middle of the desert, he rarely talks (if ever) and is extremely loyal to his owners. Then a certain cartoon comes in, where the protagonist meets a pink lion in a desert who never says anything and is extremely loyal to his owner.
    • One of the characters in the series had a house that's literally alive and jealously overprotective of its owner. Then came Monster House a film that took the exact same premise and ran with it.
    • Muriel and Courage making a deal with a Scottish Rumpelstiltskin in "Rumpledkiltskin" becomes funnier in light of Scottish actor Robert Carlyle playing Rumpelstiltskin in Once Upon a Time.
  • Ho Yay: Eustace and his appreciation for Velvet Vic can easily be interpreted as a fan with a celebrity crush.
  • Iron Woobie:
    • The titular Courage is the perpetually fearful protector of the Bagge residence. Abandoned as a pup after his parents were sent to outer space, Courage had since devoted himself to keeping Muriel safe. Despite his fears, Courage constantly puts himself in harm's way whether it be getting beaten within an inch of his life in a game of dodge ball, or taking grievous injuries. In the end, Courage lives up to his name in spite of being afraid.
    • The Hunchback of Nowhere is a man of unsightly appearance. Constantly shunned for his looks, the Hunchback finds kindness in the form of Muriel and Courage, playing shadow games and bell ringing for the latter, and staging a live performance for the former. When Eustace tries to demean him for his psyche, the Hunchback retaliates by calling him bald. He also stands up in Courage's defense by making Eustace realize that he was ugly on the inside.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Kitty is the best friend of the Bunny appearing in the two-parter "The Mask." Developing a deep hatred towards dogs because of Bunny's boyfriend, Kitty arrives at the Bagge residence, and viciously beats Courage for no other reason than because he's a dog. When Courage successfully saves Bunny, Kitty learns the error of her ways and genuinely expresses her gratitude towards Courage.
    • Eustace Bagge is the grouchy, elderly farmer and husband of Muriel Bagge. Growing up being compared endlessly to his older brother and being unsuccessful in nearly everything he did, Eustace became an embittered old man who makes a habit out of terrorizing or harassing Courage for no other reason than a mixture of For the Evulz and spite. Despite this, Eustace had shown on occasions to genuinely care for Muriel, and he would team up with Courage with the situation called for it.
    • Freaky Fred. He may be a little sympathetic, but he's still let his shaving obsession upset others with absolutely no remorse.
  • Love to Hate: Katz. He is undoubtedly the most popular villain in the fandom because of how vicious and cruel he can be.
  • Misaimed Fandom: There are fans who ship Courage and Katz in spite of the fact that Katz is a remorseless fiend who has attempted to kill Courage and/or the Bagges in all of his appearances.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Here.
  • Never Live It Down: Eustace has always been a Jerkass, but fans love to bring up how horrible he was to Courage in the episode "Ball Of Revenge", where, in an incredibly Out-of-Character Moment, he recruits many of the monsters that terrorized them both in the past and convinces them to kill the poor dog.
  • Nightmare Retardant:
    • The Spirit of the Harvest Moon can look pretty creepy... until one realizes it looks similar to certain meme faces on the internet (even then though, it is still somewhat creepy).
    • King Ramses is generally considered one of the scarier characters on the show, but the "Oh come ooonnn..." line kind of humanizes him in an odd way. And then there's his second curse...
  • Paranoia Fuel: Kitty could see Eustace and Muriel doing things in secret (sneaking cake, not fixing things) when they couldn't tell.
  • Popular with Furries: Katz because of his voice and character, Bunny and Kitty because their heavy Homoerotic Subtext (thus it overlaps with LGBT Fanbase).
  • Realism-Induced Horror: In a show filled with all kinds of fantastical and sci-fi threats, the villains who could exist in real life are widely agreed to be the scariest.
    • Freaky's Fred's shaving obsession is shows to be mostly harmless, but he's still someone who let his obsession take over his life until he was no longer able to properly function in society, not unlike a serial killer or sex offender. As absurd as a hair-cutting fetish might seem, it's still a perfectly believable obsession that someone could have.
    • Mad Dog! Apart from being anthropomorphic dog, there's absolutely nothing exaggerated or absurd about him from any real life domestic abuser. Most of what he does to Bunny, such as keeping her from her friends, threatening her with violence and gaslighting her, are fairly mundane controlling tactics used by real-life abusive partners, and it's that lack of exaggeration that makes him so much more uncomfortable to watch than any of the monsters or creatures Courage usually goes up against.
  • Self-Fanservice: A lot of fan art of Shirley the Medium, depicted in the show as short and wearing a conservative dress, has her drawn taller and more curvaceous.
  • Squick:
    • The idea of one of the Valkyries falling in love with the incredibly disgusting Troll king, and soon the other Valkyries and the trolls falling in love is just, gross. Don't think about their Honeymoon too much...
    • The entire "The Clutching Foot" episode. Namely the scene where Courage licks the foot as a cure.
  • Ugly Cute:
    • The Hunchback Of Nowhere. He's hideous In-Universe, but he also has a few traditionally cute elements, like his eyes (and of course, his personality). Heck, most characters qualify as being hideous and adorable at the same time due to the art style.
    • Courage himself. He has really over-the-top wild takes and horrid-looking teeth, but he is really charming in terms of personality and bouts of bravery.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • The first nightmare in the episode "Perfect" is a blue CGI monstrosity that has a twisted, deformed body and a barely human face.
    • The Harvest Moon in "The House Of Discontent" comes off as unsettling due to being a live-action head that has dark, empty pits for eyes.
    • The Magic Tree of Nowhere is yet another case of a character looking disturbingly lifelike due to having a live-action mouth.
    • The Violin Girl in "Courage in the Big, Stinkin' City." As if having a live action little girl composited into a cartoon wasn't creepy enough, she then turns around to reveal a horrific claymation face.
    • King Ramses in "King Ramses' Curse" comes off as unsettling due to being more detailed and lifelike.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The show's frequent used of Medium Blending, combining 2D animation with live-action, claymation, and CGI, not only made it stand out among it's peers, but perfectly complimented it's uneasy tone.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Technically, it's for older kids (ie, adolescents), but it's still infamous for being one of the few shows meant for a young audience that can be categorized as horror, with plenty of terrify supernatural villains and characters being put in imminent danger. And even disregarding that, we still have episodes like "The Mask," an outright gandland drama. There's also the fact that one of the main characters is a man who regularly abused both his wife and dog. That said, every episode has a happy ending with the villain getting their deserved comeuppance, taking off a bit of the edge.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: John Dilworth is clean, but he is a big fan of Salvador Dalí and has been known to do surrealist art of his own.
  • The Woobie:
    • Courage takes a lot of crap.
    • The Hunchback of Nowhere. Everybody always turns their backs on him just because he's ugly. Despite this, he manages to be keep his spirits up and be a Nice Guy.
    • In direct contrast to most "villains", Freaky Fred is a perfectly kind individual whose shaving... thing lost him his pet, his girlfriend, his job, and landed him in a mental institution.
    • The female Starmaker of the eponymous episode loses her mate when he sacrifices himself to protect her and their unborn offspring. Upon crash landing in Nowhere, Kansas, the Starmaker is experimented on by the military, its body slowly withering as its bodily fluids are drained. After its offspring hatch, she crawls out of the lab and becomes a garden upon her death.
    • Bunny is the best friend and plausible lover of Kitty trapped in an abusive relationship to Mad Dog. Mad Dog threatens her and Kitty if she dared to come within arms' length of her as a means of keeping her under his paw. He even goes as far as to bury Bunny up to her neck in dirt. When Courage arrives to rescue her, she is nearly mowed down by her vengeful boyfriend's car before being reunited with Kitty.
  • Woolseyism: In the Latin American Spanish dub, the fish in "Perfect" was given a gratuitous Argentinean accent and at the end of his speech he also says "I swear to Dieguito Maradona!", making it both a Crowing Moment of Heartwarming and Crowing Moment of Funny.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Wallace Shawn as Eustace in 2014 short The Fog of Courage. While most agree that Wallace is a good actor and did the best he could, he sounds absolutely nothing like Eustace. And Eustace's second actor Arthur Anderson was still alive at the time (though Anderson was 93 when he died in 2016, so he was apparently too old and/or ill to reprise the role).


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