Courage the Cowardly Dog is an Academy Award-nominated American animated television series, created by John R. Dilworth, who directed each episode, about a dog named Courage and his owners Muriel Bagge, a kindly old Scottish woman, and Eustace Bagge, a grumpy old farmer, living together in a farmhouse in the middle of the fictional town of Nowhere, Kansas (often described as middle of nowhere).
Every opening of the show documents Courage's past: "Abandoned as a pup, he was found by Muriel, who lives in the middle of Nowhere with her husband Eustace Bagge. But creepy stuff happens in Nowhere; it's up to Courage to save his new home."
In the series, when Courage wants to save his family from the villain, instead of typical feats of strength, the two engage in a game, normally something juvenile such as dodgeball or a staring contest, in which Courage usually, if not always, loses. The villain is then usually defeated in a variety of many other ways: Courage tricks the villain, he flees from them, makes amends with the villain, somehow convinces the villain to change, Muriel saves the day, or in some cases, the villain simply voluntarily moves on in favor of plotting another diabolical scheme. Almost every single event that happens to him causes him to scream manically and usually shape-shift into some random object that portrays fear, sorrow, confusion, or some other random emotion. However, he overcomes his fear to save Muriel.
A typical feature of the show is the spoofing or reference of various classic horror and cult films as the basis for many episodes. This is seen in episodes such as "The Demon in the Mattress", "The Precious, Wonderful, Adorable, Loveable Duckling", "Heads of Beef", "Klub Katz", "Night of the Weremole", "Journey to the Center of Nowhere", "The Great Fusilli", "Robot Randy", "1000 Years of Courage", "Invisible Muriel", "Human Habitrail", "A Night at the Katz Motel", "Courage the Fly", "Mega Muriel the Magnificent", "The Transplant", "McPhearson Phantom", "The House of Discontent", "Courage vs. Mecha-Courage" and "Hard Drive Courage".
In numerous episodes, especially the Pilot, Eustace would get hurt in some (usually dark) way by the end of the episode, only to come back alive and unscathed by the next episode. In the Pilot, Eustace ate an alien chicken egg and turned into an alien chicken to be shot by a ray gun. In another episode, Courage in the Big Stinking City, Eustace was eaten (spare for bones) by Schwick's mysterious beast.
There is an obscure Dilworth animated short, Smart Talk with Raisin - Pulling a Malade out of a Hat, that appeared on MTV's Liquid Television in Season 3, episode 1. It features a proto-Courage character named Hamilton as well as what can be considered a proto-Muriel, the titular Raisin, and a proto-Eustace, named Malcolm (who in this case is Raisin's misanthropic brother). This may have influenced the development of Courage the Cowardly Dog.
In the United Kingdom, however, the show continues to air in a re-run fashion; the exception being that it's usually on a fixed time at night on 11:00 pm to 12:55 am GMT. Episodes are run contiguously without adverts, not even for half-hour breaks; this is the only show on the UK version of this network aired in such a manner.