Yes John R. Dilworth's greatest gift to humanity, the awesome, the immortal, Courage The Cowardly Dog. From the animated short The Chicken From Outer Space made in 1996, to the 1999-2002 animated series run, Courage was the little pink dog kids in my age group rooted for at the time. This series was smart, funny, and at times, pants shitting terrifying. Dilworth caught lightning in a bottle with a little pink dog, who was scared of his own shadow, trying to defend his elderly owners Eustace and Muriel Bagge, from supernatural, cryptid, extraterrestrial, and terrestrial threats. Though it only ran for four seasons, and fifty two episodes, Courage was the dog everyone wanted back then. Well enough of the stroll down memory lane, time for the list.
Number 10: Klub Katz: If I had to describe Katz to people who never watched the show, he was basically the Sideshow Bob of the series. Sophisticated, charming, but psychotic. This wasn't Katz' debut episode, but it's got a place in my heart. Mainly because I'm a sucker for Isle of Dr. Moreau parodies. Basically Courage and the Bagge's go on a cruse, and get stranded on a seemingly deserted island. "Insert Carnival Cruise jokes here." Katz transforms Muriel into a top loading washing machine, and Eustace into a wrecking ball, for his own entertainment in a gladiatorial arena. Courage saves Muriel by transforming into a helicopter, and leaves Eustace to deal with Katz. All and all a good episode, but it may leave you wanting.
Number 9: The House of Discontent: This episode gave my youngest brother nightmares, and it's the only episode he really remembers vividly. Basically Muriel beseeches the Spirit of the Harvest Moon to help them grow plants on their land. The Harvest Moon spirit replies with outright hostility. Basically telling the Bagge's to leave their land. The spirit does give an ultimatum in the form of a ticking clock. Basically the Spirit is mad at Eustace because he is responsible for the sad state of the land. So if the Bagge's can grow a plant by midnight, they can stay, on the farm. Otherwise the Spirit will kill the Bagge's. Courage manages to get a wilted flower to grow, by using Eustace's sweat as a form of water, and saves the Bagge's from the Spirit's wrath. This episode is probably most remembered for the Spirit who looks like something from A Trip to the Moon. Otherwise it's good to see Eustace get a bit of a happy ending.
Number 8: Robot Randy: I love this episode's message, but I think the ending could have been handled better. Basically the plot revolves around what else? A robot named Randy. Randy is not like his war loving robot brethren. Randy is a pacifist, and only wants to carve wooden reindeer. The robots leader basically tells Randy to conquer a planet, or not bother coming back. So Randy invades Nowhere, enslaves the Bagge's and Courage, and forces them to erect statues of himself. Courage finds out Randy's true ambitions, and beats Randy in a break dancing competition. Muriel and Courage encourage Randy to make, and sell his reindeer as gifts, and the episode ends with Randy selling the reindeer to his fellow robots, but not before blowing one up, for asking if he can carve anything other than reindeer. As I said the message is rock solid, but the ending is sloppy. The message is to be yourself, and not let others dictate how you should live your life. The ending is sloppy, because it resolves the original ultimatum too quick, and Randy's reaction is out of line.
Number 7: Everyone Wants to Direct: This episode gave me nightmares as a kid. For a while I didn't want to watch Courage after this episode. The episode starts with a film director Benton Tarantella, obviously a zombie with a pair of fake glasses and nose, recruiting the Bagge's for a film. It's not hard, because the Bagge's are pretty naive. Courage is of course on high alert, and figures out that Tarantella is there to resurrect his old partner Errol Van Volkheim. The two where snuff directors, and got life sentences for their movies. Volkheim got released on good behavior, but Tarantella died in prison. It's revealed that Volkheim also died, and was buried in a cemetery that the Bagge's house was built over. So Courage gets locked in a trunk, but manages to rewrite the script. Tarantella and Volkheim get buried again, after Courage gets let out, and the episode ends. The thing that clinched my nightmare fuel from this episode, was Vokheim's rising from the grave. That was terrifying. The obvious plays on Quentin Tarantino, and Erich Von Stroheim's names are also a huge plus for this episode, but I wouldn't show it to small kids.
Number 6: Food of The Dragon: I like this episode a lot, it just has a charm about it. The episode starts with a Sunday seafood meal, that Muriel and Courage set to theme. Eustace hates it, because he hates everything, and they sit down to eat. Unfortunately they have an unwanted dinner guest in the form of a dragon, who eats Eustace, and then tries to eat Muriel. Courage makes a deal with the dragon, that if he can figure out why the dragon can't fly, the dragon won't eat Muriel. This goes about as well as expected, and the two flee the dragon to Nowhere lake. It's here that they figure out the dragon is actually a water dragon, and Eustace gets "regurgitated", only to get eaten again by an actual flying dragon. The episode has some solid jokes, good pacing, and a great resolve. It deserves it's middle of the pack status.
Number 5: The Magic Tree of Nowhere: Keeping with the aesthetic that Eustace is useless. Courage grows a tree from a complimentary package of seeds, that Muriel got with her new curtains. This immediately angers Eustace, but it only gets worse. The tree can grant wishes, and starts usurping Eustace's spot as provider. Eustace gets angry at Muriel after she won't let him knock the tree down, and wishes Muriel had a bigger head so she would know better. Muriel gets a bigger head, but at the cost of not being able to move. Courage starts looking for a cure, and it's at this point the tree makes itself known as a sentient being. It tells Courage that it has a cure, but will be cut down in three days. At this point it turns into a defense game, and Courage tries to hold Eustace off. this leads to the funniest scene in the series in my opinion, where Eustace, and Courage's instant monster sing a song together, before the monster turns on Eustace again. The episode ends with the tree getting cut down, Muriel getting cured, and Eustace getting a moral comeuppance in the form of Muriel's affliction. This episode isn't higher for two reasons. One there are a few forced plot threads, and two, there is some stiff completion for the top four.
Number 4: The Hunchback of Nowhere: This is the real cream we are getting into. As far as I'm concerned this is a four way tie, but we need to have a list. The episode starts with a remarkably ugly man looking for sanctuary from a storm. The man comes to the Bagge residence, and Eustace turns the man away, same as the rest. The man goes into the barn for shelter, and that is where Courage finds him. The two become fast friends, and the following morning Muriel makes breakfast for the two. Eustace of course throws a fit, and insults the man, but with Courage's help, the man merely points out that Eustace is bald, and that's enough to get Eustace mad. The episode ends with a bell recital in the rain, and Eustace falling from the roof, after he gets his comeuppance for being a prick. The man leaves Muriel, and Courage hoping to find more kind souls like theirs on his journey. This episode speaks to me on a deep level. It's basically everything I believe in, for being selfless. Basically help those, who are in need of help, and stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves. I was taught that from my dad at an early age, and it's something I strive for in my daily life. This is low, because the top three are pretty easy to guess. Like I said, it's a four way tie for me, but for the sake of the list, this episode is number 4.
Number 3: Remembrance of Courage Past: There isn't a Courage fan alive who doesn't have this toward the top of their list. Basically Courage's origin story, it's one of the most powerful, and emotional episodes the series ever produced. I won't go into too much detail, because I want people to see this episode, but needless to say, you will most likely be crying by the end.
Number 2: The Mask: This is hands down the most mature episode of the series. It deals with a lot of adult subjects. Sexuality, poverty, rape, oppression, gang violence, and many other themes. This episode pulls the kid gloves off, and puts the adult gloves on. The two characters in the story Kitty and Bunny are lesbians. The Main antagonist Mad Dog is a rapist, who runs a gang, and hangs around in slums, and just has an oppressive air about him. Again, you need to see this episode. I am not giving a synopsis, but be prepared for the themes you encounter.
Number 1: The Tower of Dr. Zalost: This is the definitive Courage episode in my opinion. The music flawless, the plot smoother than silk, this is the best episode of the series. Dilworth's magnum opus in my opinion, I have yet to meet a person who hates this episode. The villain is funny and threatening, the gravity of the situation is there, and Courage is at his best in this episode. I want you to watch this episode.
That's it, if I left your favorite off my list, just remember that it's my list. These are my favorite episodes of the series, but I'm sure many top threes will include the episodes I have in my top three. Maybe not in the same order, but for the most part they will be there. If you're looking for a cartoon from the good old days, or if you're new to Courage, then maybe my list will be a good starting point to get into the series, either again; or for the first time.