Courage the Cowardly Dog
Courage the Cowardly Dog

The Chicken from Outer Space is the pilot episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog. It was first shown during The What A Cartoon! Show on February 18, 1996.


The pilot episode begins with an elderly couple, the proto-Eustace and the proto-Muriel Bagge, who live on a farm and own a pink beagle dog named Courage. The family are spending an idyllic morning together, when the proto-Courage becomes frightened by a small mouse; this prompts Eustace to angrily scare him further by use of a voodoo mask when Muriel lets it go. Courage moves outside to rest on the porch, and watches as a UFO descends from the skies. An extraterrestrial species of fowl emerges from this UFO.

Courage runs back inside the farmhouse to alert his owners of the danger; however, when they follow Courage into the yard, the saucer has disappeared, along with the alien chicken. Eustace angrily proceeds to scare Courage once more, causing Muriel to angrily strike him with a rolling pin as punishment. Courage makes his way out to the hen house, where he discovers the Space Chicken dispatching the hens Eustace and Muriel tend to.

Courage quickly runs back to the house to alert Eustace and Muriel to the presence of the alien fowl, but when Muriel returns with Courage to the hen house, the remains of the hens have mysteriously disappeared, with only the Space Chicken in their place. While Courage attempts to deduce what happened to the other hens, Muriel unknowingly takes some of the Space Chicken's eggs. Courage is able to knock two of them onto the ground play slapping her hand and making her angry; this also angers the Space Chicken, who proceeds to lock Courage in the hen house upon Muriel's departure.

While Courage is trying to make his escape from the hen house by using different items, Muriel fries the alien chicken eggs with bacon and serves them to herself and Eustace. Courage succeeds in escaping by using explosives and begins searching for a buried object. At the house, Eustace eats the eggs and begins to sweat profusely, before his eyes seemingly change color to red. Courage recovers his old slingshot and rushes back to the house, while Eustace begins transforming into an alien fowl himself, laughing insanely all the while. Muriel realizes the eggs are the cause for Eustace's ailment and avoids eating them. Courage arrives back at the farmhouse and ambushes the alien, momentarily knocking him unconscious with the slingshot. The bird quickly recuperates and a fight ensues.

Courage and the Space Chicken attempt to negotiate for Muriel's safety through numerous games, such as rock-paper-scissors and fencing, while Eustace slowly completes his transformation. A mindless Eustace slowly advances upon Muriel, while Courage succeeds in the games against the alien. After claiming victory, Courage orders him to leave Earth forever. However, the Space Chicken reveals a large beam gun and attempts to assassinate Courage with it; Courage is able to dodge the beam, leading to it bouncing back onto the chicken, seemingly destroying him and turning him into a roast chicken. Courage then shoots the alien Eustace with the same gun, causing him to disintegrate into a pile of ash.

While Courage and Muriel are lounging peacefully in a rocking chair, a mouse is seen ingesting some of Eustace's ashes, before its eyes change color to red which causes Courage to scream in terror, ending the pilot with a cliffhanger. As the closing iris is shown, Courage turns to us and says one thing: "This shouldn't happen to a dog!", before the iris closes on his nose.


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  • This episode debuted almost four years before Courage the Cowardly Dog was made into a full series.
  • This pilot episode was made on December 31, 1995.
  • First appearance of Courage, Muriel, Eustace, and the Space Chicken.
  • Muriel and Eustace do not speak in this episode, save for Eustace's insane laughter as he turns into an alien chicken.
  • While Eustace is reading a newspaper, a caption can be seen on the press that says "UFO Sighted"
  • There are various images of real life people shown as framed pictures in the Bagges' house during the episode.
    • According to John R. Dilworth, these people were production staff members of the short or friends/relatives of John Dilworth including Michael Geisler, William Hohauser, Jim Dilworth, Margaret Fry and her husband, and John Dilworth's cat Suavidad.
  • When Muriel sits down to eat breakfast, she sits near a shelf that has easter eggs of various Stretch Films characters including Raisin from the MTV short Smart Talk with Raisin, Purdy and Fergurina from The Dirdy Birdy short film, a naked John Dilworth caricature and a scrapped pitch character named Sparkles.
  • John R. Dilworth makes a cameo in this episode, appearing on a billboard with the text "Drink Silly Pop!" as he gets zapped by the Space Chicken's laser beam.
  • When Chicken Eustace bends over and turns his back around laughing, you can see a framed caricature picture of John Dilworth with a flower coming out of his bare buttocks.
    • According to John R. Dilworth, he was surprised that the easter egg was untouched due to the censorship regulations he had to go through with Cartoon Network.
  • When Courage tells the Space Chicken to leave Earth, the label on the suitcase says "Mars". However during when the alien shoots his laser beam and Courage ducks, the label is changed to "Albany."
    • According to John Dilworth, the label was supposed to be "Albany" from the beginning in reference to his sisters' traveling to the city at the time of the show's production. But Cartoon Network rejected that idea so they changed it to "Mars" instead. That last shot where "Albany" shows up was an oversight production error not caught by Dilworth or the production staff.
  • When Chicken Eustace's ashes start falling out, you can see a small message in the ashes saying "Eat me", as an easter egg.
  • At the very end of the short, Courage opens the iris out and says "This shouldn't happen to a dog!" before the iris out closes on his nose and snaps on it while he says "Ouch!". This a reference to the ending of Bob Clampett's 1944 Bugs Bunny cartoon Hare Ribbin'.
  • During the credits sequence, a different version of the Stretch Films logo can be seen.
  • This short was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. It lost to the Wallace and Gromit short A Close Shave.
  • This pilot premiered on Cartoon Network's "What A Cartoon" show.
  • After Courage was made into a full series, this short was included as a bonus on the VHS release of Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost, being shown after the credits of the main feature. For this re-release, a new title card was created, which can be found in the Gallery below.
  • The mouse consuming Eustace's ashes and mutates into an alien is similar to the ending of Species (1995) where a rat consumes on one of the alien's body part and begins to mutate.