Cow and Chicken TV Poster Image

Cow and Chicken

If Ren & Stimpy starred in Monty Python...
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

No one is ever punished for bad behavior or rewarded for good. There are essentially no consequences in this universe.


Absolute, extreme cartoon violence with no consequences. Characters perform surgery on each other without anesthesia, hit each other with large mallets, push each other off cliffs and out windows, and so on.


Many characters are drawn with exaggerated and visible buttocks, which are sometimes leered at.

Not applicable
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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this animated comedy offers both extreme cartoon slapstick violence (none of which has any lasting consequences) and absurd, sophisticated humor. A familiarity with -- and understanding of -- some fairly adult cultural and literary references, a healthy dose of cynicism, and a firm grasp of irony are necessary to redeem what would otherwise be just another ugly little cartoon.

What's the story?

COW AND CHICKEN is one of the original Cartoon Network series. Cow and a chicken (both voiced by Charles Adler) are sister and brother who have human parents, and are constantly tormented by a devilish looking creature called Red Guy (also voice by Adler). Red Guy invariably fools their parents, leaving him free to torment them in a number of ways, such as operate on them or force them to star in his circus.

Is it any good?


Like Dexter's Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls, Cow and Chicken is really meant for teenage and young adult viewing. The show draws on a long line of earlier humor for its references, including Monty Python, Looney Tunes, and Charlie Brown. Much of it won't be funny if you don't have a reasonably long history of TV viewing -- and since the show as a whole doesn't make any sense, if it's not funny, there's not much point.

Of course, there are always the physical gags, which tend to take the usual cartoon tropes -- like eating fire or jumping into a glass of water from a diving platform -- one step further (missing the glass and saying "I hurt myself" or swallowing the flame and screaming, only to complain of a bitten tongue). Cow and Chicken was created in the same spirit that led to The Onion and eventually South Park. It's a meta-mockery: smart humor for people who also like to see cartoon characters drawn with a huge emphasis placed on their butts.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the show's humor, which stands up to dissection pretty well. Why is it funny that the Red Guy tries to dive into a glass of water and misses? (Because every other cartoon character ends up squashed in the water.) We never see the parents except from the waist down, and occasionally it becomes clear that they actually have no top halves -- what cartoon tradition is this mocking? Speaking of mocking, would you really want everyone to mock everything this thoroughly all the time? The show is very much a product of the late '90s, when this kind of humor was new and rapidly becoming the norm. Are kids today quite this cynical in their humor?

TV details

Premiere date:July 15, 1997
Cast:Charles Adler, Dan Castellaneta, Dee Bradley Baker
Genre:Kids' Animation
Topics:Book characters, Horses and farm animals
TV rating:TV-Y7

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Parent of a 5, 8, and 11 year old Written byLiNYC July 8, 2014
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much consumerism
Adult Written byDUDES!!! October 2, 2011

What the...?

OK... i'm sure this not a little kids show, they have buttocks leared at pooty humor, and absolutely graphic violence, but It can be fuuny, but not for under 10 or 11
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Parent of a 2, 2, 5, 10, 10, and 16 year old Written byMariofan May 2, 2010
This is IDIOTIC! It's so-so. My kid watched it when she was 4 and nothing was offensive, until now. characters do stupid things, people in this cartoon look ugly.