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Courage the Cowardly Dog

TV review by
KJ Dell Antonia, Common Sense Media
Courage the Cowardly Dog TV Poster Image
Cult fave 'toon plays over-the-top violence for laughs.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 28 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 88 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

"Courage" apparently has very little, although he always fights his cowardice and comes through for his owner. Another main character regularly tries to harm Courage, and all characters except two are prone to cruel remarks and behavior toward one another (to say the least).


All of the characters are subjected to extremely gross, graphic animated violence, including exploding organs, weapons of all sorts, growing extra limbs, turning inside out -- you name it. It's intended to be so over the top that it's funny, but it's still very strong for a cartoon.


Very occasional references, such as "this is one of those naughty men's clubs, isn't it?" when a character is tied up.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byporkchoppal July 24, 2015

Cutting Edge Cult Animation is Creepy and Ingenious

Violence: 8/10 Sex: 4/10 Profanity: 2/10 Hedonism: 0/10 Maturity: 7/10
Adult Written byShizukaVictoria June 5, 2011

I grew up with this show.

I personally adore this show and still watch it whenever its on. In some shows it does give out a good message like one show Eustace the grumpy farmer was curse... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byuvkitty September 26, 2010

a tad too harsh

Extremely idiotic people. I'm sorry, but if your 7 year old isn't smart enough deciding the difference between what's good and bad, then maybe yo... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old October 14, 2011

cute charming show about overcoming fears to help those you love

Seriously people. I have always liked this show when i was small. I think the messages it sends are nice. Eustace is mean to courage but there is no instance i... Continue reading

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?

TV details

For kids who love comedy

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