Courage the Cowardly Dog is a supposed childrens show that aired on Cartoon Network from 1999 to 2002. The story revolves around a small, perpetually terrified dog named Courage who fights off constant waves of abnormal creatures threatening the well-being of his owners, Eustace and Muriel Bagge. Despite the shows cutesy animation, every episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog is a master class in creating nightmare fuel.
There are endless unsettling moments in Courage the Cowardly Dog. The creepiest episodes involve old-world abominations that seem out of place in the shows modern setting. If you live in rural Kansas, you might be wary of bears and tornadoes, but have you ever stopped to consider the impending threat of a zombie film director?
13 The Great Fusilli (Season 1, Episode 13)
The second half of the final episode of the first season of Courage, “The Great Fusili” sees an eponymous traveling performer arrive in Nowhere who has the mysterious power to turn those who act in his shows into puppets. Fusili conscripts Eustace and Muriel into his performance, successfully transforming them.
In the end, Fusili himself is turned into a puppet, and Courage rescues Eustace and Muriel. However, things end on a grim note, as, unable to return them to their natural states, Courage must puppeteer his adoptive family in order to feign normal life.
10 “Courage In The Big Stinkin’ City” (Season 2, Episode 2)
Who would trust a sketchy cockroach to begin with? This episode effectively gave fans the creeps for many reasons, and one was due to the main foe called Schwick (Paul Schoeffler), a sleazy and evil cockroach who offers Courage and the family a place to stay.
The word “help” thats written out on their dust-covered window makes matters worse. Courage has no choice but to do his bidding and opens a door to the most terrifying moment of the episode. There is a young girl playing the violin, but she then turns around and morphs into a screaming and scary claymation creature.
“A Night at the Katz Motel” (Season 1, Episode 1)
It’s always best to start from the beginning. How is Courage, the Cowardly Dog, introduced to its young audiences? Naturally, by referencing one of the most famous Alfred Hitchock horror films, Psycho. While most children might not recognize the reference to the movie where Norman Bates murders his mother, mummifies her body to leave in the cellar, and kills anyone who stays at the motel, it’s still a jarring intro for young viewers. Muriel, Eustace, and Courage arrive at the eerily familiar motel called The Kats in the middle of a thunderstorm. Run by none other than a cat named Katz, an ironic sign states that no dogs were allowed inside. Out in the rain, Courage must go.
The devil is in the details with this episode. The layout of the hotel room is ripped-off carpet, moldy walls, and a giant painting of a person’s face staring directly down onto the bed with empty eyes. If only that were the most horrifying detail of this episode. Later on, viewers come to find out that Katz, the cat (entirely in tune with the show’s dark humor), has been harvesting radioactive spiders who feast on human flesh. In this case, the human flesh of Muriel and Eustace. Courage must overcome his fears to save them, which is the longest-running gag of the entire series, aside from the contrast of his name and personality.
As far as introductory pilots go, Courage, the Cowardly Dog’s comes straight out of the gate with one of the most terrifying scenarios anyone could imagine. It also sets up the thematic pattern of Courage stewarding the role of small children, who are dismissed for their fears—left on their own to defeat them.
What’s the creepiest episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog?
What episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog sent kids to the hospital?
Why was Courage the Cowardly Dog Cancelled?