"Perfect" is the second half of the thirteenth episode in Season 4 of Courage the Cowardly Dog, written by Billy Aronson. It aired on November 22, 2002, it is the final episode of Season 4 as well as the series finale.
While working with Courage around the farm, Eustace cites Courage's incompetence, telling him that he cannot do anything right. While Courage is in the kitchen with Muriel and trying without success to perfectly make some baklava, a mysterious, elderly school teacher named The Perfectionist appears. Strangely, she can only be seen by Courage, implying that she may be imaginary. She claims that Courage is 'a disgrace' and, knowing of Courage's struggles, decides to train him strictly into becoming a perfect dog.
The Perfectionist tells Courage that he must prove that to her that he is "perfect" by going through several "perfection lessons". She first has Courage balance heavy books on his head while going up the farmhouse's stairs, saying that he needs to keep all books on his back while walking up the stairs in order to "walk perfectly". Courage, however, makes it up the stairs as all but one of the books start falling off his back. The Perfectionist harshly scolds Courage, who whimpers, teary-eyed.
Next, The Perfectionist has Courage try to "speak perfectly". She simply has Courage attempt to speak a tongue- twister, "The turkey in Albuquerque is positively perky," but Courage only speaks in gibberish. The Perfectionist tests Courage if he can "make something perfectly", and assigns him to make a model of the Eiffel Tower, but Courage fails, and The Perfectionist shows Courage the work of Di Lung, one of her past students, who has flawlessly made the Eiffel Tower model, much to Courage's disappointment.
Since it is late, The Perfectionist has Courage go to bed and "sleep perfectly". However, Courage finds himself without any sleep, because of nightmares with themes around imperfection. The next morning, he is excused to go to the bathroom and brush his teeth perfectly. A fish in the bathtub tells Courage that there is no such thing as being perfect, and that even with all of his imperfections, Courage can do anything. When Courage exits the bathroom, he notices that Eustace and Muriel also have imperfections with Eustace's broken bugle and Muriel's bubble gum-like baklava, with both proudly making the best of them.
Returning to The Perfectionist, Courage is told that he must go through one last examination; if he fails, he will be labeled as "imperfect". Courage's final lesson is to draw a "perfect" number six. Courage scribbles something down on a paper, which resembles a cartoon, He folds the paper and turns it upside down; a six is shown on the paper. The Perfectionist then screams and smashes her yardstick on Courage's desk and begins to surreally melt into a puddle of nothing as she rants about Courage being imperfect. She finally vanishes after uttering 'perfect' one last time, and her chalkboard explodes into dust. The episode ends by implying that Courage has accepted the fact that he is perfect the way he is, and eats at the dinner table with a happy Muriel and Eustace. The fish from before is shown cooked on the table, and he gives the audience a thumbs up, ending the episode and the series. The Perfectionist is then heard saying "Perfect!", during the ending-sequence.
- The Perfectionist: "You're not the least bit perfect!"
- Di Lung: "Aha ha ha ha ha. I'm perfect."
- Eustace: "You can't do nothing right! Ya amateur! You ought to go back to right-thing-doing school!"
- Bugle: "You're not perfect..."
- Fish: "There is no such thing as perfect. You're beautiful as you are, Courage. With all of your imperfections, you can do anything."
- The word "perfect" (and any word containing it) is seen/used 28 times throughout the episode.
- It is revealed that Di Lung was a past student of The Perfectionist in this episode. However, he has proven to be, too, not perfect in the past.
- The Perfectionist's chalkboard replaced Courage's computer.
- The music that plays during most of this episode is "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."
- This episode is widely regarded as one of the most unsettling episodes of the series due to the heavy subject matter, singularity, and primarily due to the vivid nightmare sequences.
- There are 5 nightmare scenes in rapid succession that all use differing animation styles. They are, as follows:
- A blue, deformed humanoid which is meant to be Eustace's bugle, (or called a fetus by fans,) appears in a blue void while ominous music plays. It looks up at the screen and whispers "You're not perfect." which then echos a few times in the background. This creature was designed by Jim P. Dilworth, the late brother of creator John R. Dilworth, and was animated in CGI by Pacific Data Images animator Keith Chamberlain. This particular sequence is frequently considered to be among the show's creepiest moments by fans.
- Courage dreams of himself as the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz, showing how little faith he has in himself. The dream ends after the three Courages are shown being overseen by a fourth Courage as the Wicked Witch of the West. This sequence was animated in a simplistic Flash style.
- Courage dreams of a series of cryptic and disturbing images flashing by the screen before a final one, resembling a disturbing angelic figure, along with the words "RIGHT NOW", flies at the screen. This dream was likely made with simple animation and editing tools, though CGI is possible as well.
- Courage is juggling pies for an audience, while jazz music plays in the background. Suddenly, the audience begins laughing discriminately at him. Courage realizes his lower body has been shaved bald, and, as the music becomes distorted and switches to out-of-tune accordion music, he rushes to cover himself, causing him to be hit in the head by the pies he was carrying. This scene was animated using stop-motion for Courage and CGI for the audience.
- Courage dreams of Muriel handing him a vase only for him to drop it. Instead of the vase breaking, it bounces and lands in Muriel's arms, only for her to promptly shatter instead, followed by Courage, looking skyward and screaming an anguished "No!", shattering as the entire environment breaks apart, ending the dream. This dream was animated in a paper puppet style with CGI and is otherwise crude and minimalistic.
- This episode marks the last appearance of Di Lung.
- The blue Bugle Creature in Courage's first nightmare resembles Squidward from SpongeBob SquarePants.
- This was the first television role of Robert Erdman.
- This is the last episode of the whole show, and a fitting one at that, as Courage has accepted himself for who he is.
- This episode was briefly banned by Cartoon Network in the mid-2000s. Likely due to the disturbing & unsettling nightmare sequences.
- In this episode, the bathroom and bedroom switched places.