A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
Parents and caregivers: Set limits for violence and more with Plus
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this show isn't appropriate for any child young enough to believe in the reality of a cartoon character on any level. Every episode begins with Courage's owner's husband behaving in a nasty, abusive way to his wife and dog, and overall the show is about as violent and gross as it's possible for animation to be (and not in the Bugs Bunny way that many parents feel is funny even to young kids). That said, it's all so extreme -- characters grow extra arms, turn inside out, etc. -- that it's next to impossible to take it seriously, even though it's also hard not to wince if you've got a young kid in front of the television when it comes on.
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What's the story?
Courage (voiced by Marty Grabstein), a small magenta dog who's afraid of everything, is adopted by Muriel (Thea White), who lives on a Twilight Zone-esque farm with her husband Eustace (Lionel G. Wilson), who loathes and is jealous of Courage. In every episode, the three are beset by various woes (they're sucked up by aliens who want their DNA, tied up, maimed, have all their blood sucked out of them, etc.) that are often brought on by Eustace's plots against Courage. It's up to Courage to save the day, and he always does -- although usually by doing things like screaming so loudly that the house falls on the troublemaker rather than by actually defeating him. In the process, Eustace is often crushed, mauled, and even eaten, although he invariably returns intact for the next episode.
Is it any good?
Cynical and over the top, COURAGE THE COWARDLY DOG was pretty cutting edge in 2000, when it was created for the Cartoon Network. And it's still fairly out there in its willingness to take both violence and sheer gross-out gore to extremes in the name of humor. The creators spoof the horror genre in many episodes, and fans of horror movies will undoubtedly find plenty of inside jokes.
But while the show is funny -- and certainly both unique and unpredictable in its storylines -- it's not a particularly kid-friendly cartoon. Younger viewers will do better with Looney Tunes or Tom and Jerry, which have plenty of slapstick 'toon violence without the graphic images.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the level and type of violence in this show. Is it so over the top that it's funny, or is it just outrageous? Why do we find it funny to watch a cartoon dog turn inside out? Is there more to the show than that? Overall, what makes you want to watch -- the gross-out humor or the fact that you can count on Courage winning out in spite of himself?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love comedy
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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