Courage the Cowardly Dog

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Courage the Cowardly Dog
Courage the Cowardly Dog intertitle.jpg
Created by John R. Dilworth
Written by
Directed by John R. Dilworth
Voices of
Opening theme "Courage the Cowardly Dog"
Ending theme "Courage the Cowardly Dog" (Instrumental)
Composer(s) Jody Gray
Andy Ezrin
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 52 (102 segments) (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) John R. Dilworth
  • Robert Winthrop (Season 1)
  • Winnie Chaffee (Season 2–4)
  • Jack Spillum ("The Fog of Courage" only)
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor Cartoon Network
Original network Cartoon Network
Picture format 480i (4:3 SDTV)
Audio format Stereo
Original release November 12, 1999 (1999-11-12) – November 22, 2002 (2002-11-22)
Related shows What a Cartoon!

Courage the Cowardly Dog is an American animated comedy horror television series created by John R. Dilworth for Cartoon Network as part of the network's Cartoon Cartoons block. It follows an anthropomorphic beagle who lives with a married elderly pair in the middle of Nowhere. The trio are frequently thrown into bizarre misadventures, often involving the paranormal/supernatural. The series is known for its dark, surreal humor and atmosphere.

Dilworth pitched the series to Hanna-Barbera's animated shorts showcase What a Cartoon!, and a pilot aired on Cartoon Network in early 1996.[1] The segment was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost to Wallace and Gromit's A Close Shave. Cartoon Network greenlit a series from the short, which premiered on November 12, 1999. It ended on November 22, 2002, with a total of 52 episodes and four seasons (with 13 episodes per season) produced.

During its run, the series was nominated for 2 Golden Reel Awards, winning 1 additional Golden Reel Awards and 1 Annie Award. Spin-off media include comic books, DVD and VHS releases, and collectible toys.


Courage the Cowardly Dog follows Courage, an easily frightened, pink beagle dog. He was abandoned as a puppy after his parents were forcibly sent into outer space.[2] He lives in a 1962 ranch house near the fictional town of Nowhere, Kansas with Muriel Bagge, a sweet-natured Scottish woman, and her husband Eustace, a grouchy, selfish, greedy man who constantly harasses Courage. Courage was found in an alleyway by Muriel, who took him up as her own.

Courage, Muriel and Eustace frequently run into monsters, aliens, demons, mad scientists, zombies and other supernatural perils from myths and legends that Courage must fend off to save his owners, unbeknownst to them. Although most of the creatures that the three face are frightening or disturbing, some turn out to be sweet and simply in distress. The plot generally uses horror conventions, common to horror films. Ironically, given his name, Courage is a genuine coward, but still goes to great lengths to protect his owners.

Although episodic in nature, there are a handful of recurring characters in the show's cast, including Courage's sarcastic, sentient computer, the family physician Dr. Vindaloo, the fortune-telling chihuahua Shirley the Medium, Eustace's mother "Ma", and recurring villains such as Katz and Le Quack.


Originally, Courage the Cowardly Dog was created as a seven-minute animated short, "The Chicken from Outer Space". Dilworth started the animated short with Hanna-Barbera, sponsored by Cartoon Network and introduced Courage.[3] Dilworth graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1985. He became an art director and founded his own animation studio, Stretch Films in 1991, and incorporated in 1994.[3] The animated short was shown as one of the episodes of Cartoon Network's World Premiere Toons in 1996, a Hanna-Barbera Cartoons innovation by then-president Fred Seibert. The short served as a de facto pilot for the future series.[4] The original animated short had no dialogue except for one line spoken by Courage, who had a more authoritative voice than in the series. It was uttered by voice actor Howard Hoffman who also provided all the other vocal sounds and effects for the short.[3] An alien chicken was the villain in this short, who later reappears in the series to seek revenge. His sons also attempt to seek revenge too in a later episode.[5] The short was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 68th Academy Awards.[6]

Sound design[edit]

When deciding on sound effects, Dilworth tried to avoid pre-made stock sounds.[3] He contributed a substantial amount of new material to sound designer Michael Geisler and only looked for sounds that made him laugh. The composition of the series' music relied on what was being portrayed: suspense, comedy, or action. The production crew worked together to come up with new music for the series that had not previously been used. There were a few sections on one particular piece that Dilworth exceptionally liked.[3] The production crew was able to isolate these sections and expand them into a usable theme.[3] Dilworth further complicated the crew's job by suggesting layering the theme with a variety of funny sounds, a strange tempo and a voice over of a crazed laugh or person singing to give the music and sound effects their own personality beyond anything else out there.[3]

Original music featured in Courage the Cowardly Dog was composed by Jody Gray[7] and Andy Ezrin.[8][9] Classical music can be heard at times, which pays homage to classic Warner Bros. animation and the scores of Carl Stalling.[10] In several episodes, Gray arranged various famous classical pieces and wrote up to 15 songs, such as Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries".[9]

In 1999, Cartoon Network gave Dilworth permission to turn the short into an animated series. Hanna-Barbera was responsible for the What a Cartoon anthology and intended on developing the series. However, Dilworth insisted on taking the production to his Stretch Films Studios. The stories' plots were written by the show's head writer, David Steven Cohen, in addition to Irv Bauer, Craig Shemin, Lory Lazarus, Bill Marsilii, Allan Neuwirth, Bill Aronson and Michelle Dilworth.

Broadcast history[edit]

Courage the Cowardly Dog originally was premiered as a short on February 18, 1996. The show premiered on November 12, 1999 and became the highest-rated premiere in Cartoon Network history at the time.[11] It last aired on November 22, 2002, with 52 episodes produced in four seasons.


In total, there were 52 episodes in four seasons produced, plus a pilot episode. The series ran from November 12, 1999, to November 22, 2002.

Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
Pilot February 18, 1996 (1996-02-18)[1]
1 13 November 12, 1999 (1999-11-12) March 31, 2000 (2000-03-31)
2 13 November 3, 2000 (2000-11-03) November 16, 2001 (2001-11-16)
3 13 January 11, 2002 (2002-01-11) August 9, 2002 (2002-08-09)
4 13 September 6, 2002 (2002-09-06) November 22, 2002 (2002-11-22)
Special October 31, 2014 (2014-10-31)


John G. Nettles of PopMatters reviewed the show and called it, "a fascinating and textured mixture of cartoon and horror-movie conventions, and a joy to watch."[12]

Alex Mastas of Lights Out Films reviewed the show gave it a grade "A-" and described it, "The backgrounds are rich and imaginative—they composite lot of the show over real photos and occasionally integrate CGI into cartoon. The look is weird and ethereal, just like the show itself."[13]

KJ Dell Antonia of Common Sense Media gave three stars out of five with the summary, "Cult fave 'toon plays over-the-top violence for laughs."[14] Antonia warned parents that the series contains graphic animated violence, including "exploding organs, growing extra limbs, turning inside out, you name it".[14] Antonia said shows aimed at younger audiences "usually don't go for thrills and chills, so it's good to see a genuinely surreal and slanted series develop a decent following."[15]

Jeff Swindoll of Monsters and Critics reviewed the first season DVD and felt a bit disappointed about its lack of the original Hanna-Barbera short "The Chicken from Outer Space."[16] Swindoll felt that the lack of special features still should not deter fans from buying the season since the other episodes have appeared on other releases of the series.[16]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1995 Academy Awards Best Animated Short Film John R. Dilworth
For short film "The Chicken From Outer Space"
2000 Annie Awards Outstanding Individual Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Television Production[17][18] John R. Dilworth
For episode "A Night at the Katz Motel"
Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing — Television Animated Series — Sound[18] For episode "The Duck Brothers" Nominated
2001 Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing — Television Animated Series — Sound[18] For episode "Courage in the Big Stinkin' City" Won
2003 Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing — Television Animated Series — Sound[18] For episode "The Tower of Dr. Zalost" Nominated

Home media releases[edit]

A VHS tape of Courage the Cowardly Dog was released along with Mike, Lu & Og in 2000. The VHS tape is now out of print.[19]

VHS editions of Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost and Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders each include an episode as a bonus.

Courage the Cowardly Dog: Season One, a two-disc DVD set featuring all 13 episodes from the show's first season, was released in Australia (Region 4) on September 12, 2007, by Madman Entertainment.[20][21] On January 13, 2010, the complete second season was also released.[20][22]

A Region 1 release of the first season was done by Warner Home Video on July 20, 2010. The release is the second in an official release of several Cartoon Cartoons on DVD, under the "Cartoon Network Hall of Fame" name.[23] The second season was released on October 14, 2014 as the fourth in the "Hall of Fame" series.[24]

In addition, all four seasons of the series are available for download on iTunes.[25][26][27][28]

Title Release date Episodes Region Description
Season 1 September 12, 2007[20][21] List of Courage the Cowardly Dog episodes 4 This two-disc release includes all 13 episodes from the first season.
Season 2 January 13, 2010[20][22] List of Courage the Cowardly Dog episodes 4 This two-disc release includes all 13 episodes from the second season including the pilot episode "The Chicken from Outer Space".
Courage the Cowardly Dog: Season One July 20, 2010[23] List of Courage the Cowardly Dog episodes 1 This two-disc release includes all 13 episodes from the first season.
Courage the Cowardly Dog: Season Two October 14, 2014[24] List of Courage the Cowardly Dog episodes 1 This two-disc release includes all 13 episodes from the second season.

Select episodes from the series were also featured on several Cartoon Network compilation DVDs:

  • The Powerpuff Girls: Down 'n' Dirty - "Journey to the Center of Nowhere" - November 7, 2000
  • Scooby-Doo and the Toon Tour of Mysteries - "The Mask" - June 2004
  • Cartoon Network Halloween Volume 2: Grossest Halloween Ever - "Courage Meets the Mummy / Night of the Weremole" - August 9, 2004
  • Cartoon Network Christmas Volume 2: Christmas Rocks - "The Snowman Cometh" - October 4, 2005
  • Toon Foolery: Laugh Your 'Ed Off! - "The McPhearson Phantom"


  1. ^ a b Mendoza, N.F. (February 18, 1996). "SHOWS FOR YOUNGSTERS AND THEIR PARENTS TOO : Cartoon Network stars a hen from outer space; 'Human Animal' explores our needs on TLC". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  2. ^ "Remembrance of Courage Past". Courage the Cowardly Dog. Season 4. Episode 13. 2002-11-22. Cartoon Network. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Miller, Bob (November 1, 1999). "The Triumphant Independent — an interview with John R. Dilworth". Animation World Network 4 (8). Retrieved 10 July 2011. 
  4. ^ Strike, Joe (July 15, 2003). "The Fred Seibert Interview — Part 1". Animation World Network. Retrieved April 13, 2011. 
  5. ^ "The Revenge of the Chicken from Outer Space". Courage the Cowardly Dog. Season 1. Episode 12. 2000-06-09. Cartoon Network. 
  6. ^ "Academy Awards, USA (1996), Best Short Film, Animated". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2011-05-24. 
  7. ^ Chan, Darlene (November 14, 2002). "Creating Successful Music For Animation". Animation World Network. Retrieved 5 July 2011. 
  8. ^ Sporn, Michael (August 9, 2008). "Splog » Dil & Dali". Michael Sporn Animation. Retrieved 5 July 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Guerin, Ada (April 23, 2002). "Courage the Cowardly Dog — Cartoon Network". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  10. ^ Crisafull, Chuck (August 20, 2002). "Children's programming is pacing the field of TV music". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  11. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog Best Series Premiere in Cartoon Network History". Time Warner. November 16, 1999. Retrieved March 24, 2011. 
  12. ^ Nettles, John G. (2001). "Courage the Cowardly Dog review". PopMatters. Retrieved July 26, 2010. 
  13. ^ Mastas, Alex (March 4, 2003). "TV Review: Courage the Cowardly Dog (2003)". Lights Out Films. Archived from the original on 2003-05-12. Retrieved 2011-07-14. 
  14. ^ a b Antonia, KJ Dell. "Courage the Cowardly Dog — Television Review". Common Sense Media. Retrieved 7 July 2011. 
  15. ^ Miller III, Randy (July 21, 2010). "Courage the Cowardly Dog: Season One : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Retrieved June 11, 2011. 
  16. ^ a b Swindoll, Jeff (July 21, 2010). "Courage the Cowardly Dog: Season 1 - DVD review". Monsters and Critics. Retrieved June 11, 2011. 
  17. ^ "28th Annual Annie Awards — Category # 15 - Outstanding Individual Achievement for Design In an Animated Television Production". Annie Awards. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  18. ^ a b c d "Awards for "Courage the Cowardly Dog" (1999)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 5 July 2011. 
  19. ^ "Courage". 
  20. ^ a b c d "Courage the Cowardly Dog". Madman Entertainment (Australia). Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  21. ^ a b "Courage the Cowardly Dog Season 1". Madman Entertainment (Australia). Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  22. ^ a b "Courage the Cowardly Dog Season 2". Madman Entertainment (Australia). Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  23. ^ a b Lacey, Gord (June 29, 2010). "Cartoon Network Hall of Fame: Season 1 Press Release". Retrieved July 8, 2010. 
  24. ^ a b Wolfe, Jennifer (July 23, 2014). "Cartoon Network to Release Season 2 of 'Courage the Cowardly Dog'". Retrieved August 6, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog, Season 1". Apple. Retrieved June 10, 2011. 
  26. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog, Season 2". Apple. Retrieved June 10, 2011. 
  27. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog, Season 3". Apple. Retrieved June 10, 2011. 
  28. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog, Season 4". Apple. Retrieved June 10, 2011. 

External links[edit]