Courage is the series' protagonist, and an overly frightened pink beagle dog who lives in Nowhere, Kansas. He was abandoned as a puppy after his parents were sent into outer space, but was adopted by Muriel Bagge. Her husband, Eustace, regularly mistreats him. Ironically, given his name, Courage is a genuine coward, but still goes to great lengths to protect his owners; to the end, he often gets injured, sometimes quite brutally, or almost killed and only surviving through his determination and/or pure luck. Despite his cowardice, Courage is very clever and resourceful when the situation demands it, outsmarting the villains most of the time. Aiding him at saving the day is a self-aware, sarcastic and seemingly omniscient Computer that he keeps in the attic with which he could consult for information in how to remedy any predicament he faces (though it never fails to badmouth him in one way or another). He got his name when Muriel found him as a puppy alone in an alley and remarked that he must be quite brave to be there by himself.
Often, after being hurt by one of his many assailants, he will do a dazed laugh. He often says, "The things I do for love" when he is about to do something brave, "I just know something bad is going to happen" when there is something afoot, and "I know I shouldn't, but I gotta" when he is about to enter a villain's hideout. He tends to whisper "Oh no" to himself when something bad is going on. He also sometimes states, "Something fishy is going on, or my name is [absurd, Goofy name]... And it’s not." Other variations include "I'm telling you there's someone here" and "Something smells fishy". Courage also has a big hole in one of his teeth but, at certain times, he had a gold tooth and a wrench for a tooth in "The Curse of Shirley" and "Swindlin' Wind".
Though capable of speaking fluent English, Courage mostly does so only to the viewers and other non-human characters, tending to speak in unintelligible gibberish and mumbling to most human characters (except for Dr. Vindaloo, who is the only human who can completely understand Courage's communication, despite being a doctor for humans). This was likely done to better show what the human hears as opposed to actual speech. Therefore, though impossible in real life, Courage sometimes transforms into other beings, or simply objects, and may include effects such as turning into other characters, weapons, and different vehicles to convey his messages, exaggerating the danger. However, this does not seem to be much more comprehensible to the humans. Courage spoke in proper English quite often in the first season, but from the second season onward, his dialogue became increasingly limited to gibberish, mumbling, and screams, only speaking in proper English occasionally or when he really had something to say. This is because when viewing the first season of the show, the producers felt that Courage "talked too much" and wanted the dog to be more laconic.
During the development of the series, Dilworth had resembled Courage as Hamilton in the animated short "Smart Talk with Raisin" which had physically and emotionally, and one of the closest ancestor of the series.
- Accelerated Body Development
- Fire Immunity
- Ballistic Scream
- Strong Heart
- Shape Shifting
Courage has been seen doing things that are comically impossible, such as screaming so loud that it can break the entire basement floor and form a deep chasm as seen in Ball of Revenge, shatter the sun as he did in The Magic Tree of Nowhere, or use various visual transformations in order to communicate, such as turning into a snake, a club and a dragon, as well as many other creatures and objects pertaining to the thing he tries to explain. However, this is only infrequent and is assumed to be used for comedic effect.
Although he lives the typical life of an average dog (helping around the house or farm and being his average self) he's shown he's pretty quick on his feet when trouble strikes and he's forced to solve the problem in some way.
Courage has shown he can speak English. He demonstrates this when he does things such as yelling Muriel's name in distress or saying his catchphrase "The things I do for love." Unfortunately, this skill falls apart when he's distressed and in turn when it is needed most as he speaks in his signature gibberish when he's trying to explain danger to his owners.
- Ironically, Courage is the bravest character of the show; as he is always the one who saves Muriel & Eustace from the monsters.
- Courage spoke English quite often in the first season, but from the second season onward, his dialogue became increasingly limited to gibberish, mumbling, and screams, only speaking occasionally or when he really had something to say.
- Courage has many sounds that he's known for, such as his strange laugh at the end of some episodes.
- Courage is the only character (aside from Katz and Le Quack) who ever speaks directly to the audience. The frequency with which he does so (nearly every episode) makes this one of his trademark characteristics.
- During Courage's first flashback in Remembrance of Courage Past, his mother reveals his father's name when she calls him as he was playing with Courage.
- Courage (along with Muriel) are the only characters to be seen in every episode.
- There are a few running gags that Courage has with some of the villains that he shares with Eustace.
- Like Eustace, some of the villains called Courage, "stupid dog."
- Like Eustace, some of the villains strangled or choked Courage.