Cow and Chicken

Cow and Chicken
Preceded by
Johnny Bravo
Succeeded by
I Am Weasel
Cow and Chicken
Cow and Chicken intertitle.jpg
Genre Comedy
Surreal humour
Toilet humour
Format Animated series
Created by David Feiss
Voices of Charles Adler
Dee Bradley Baker
Candi Milo
Howard Morris
Dan Castellaneta
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 52 (List of episodes)
Running time 14 minutes (approx.)
Production company(s) Hanna-Barbera Cartoons
Cartoon Network Studios
Distributor Warner Bros. Television
Original channel Cartoon Network
Picture format HD: 1080i
Audio format Stereo
First shown in November 12, 1995 (short)
Original run July 15, 1997 – July 24, 1999
Related shows I Am Weasel
What a Cartoon! Show

Cow and Chicken is an American animated series, created by David Feiss. The series shows the surreal adventures of a cow, named Cow, and her chicken brother, named Chicken. They are often antagonized by "The Red Guy", who poses as various characters to scam or hurt them. The series was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1996 and 1998.[1]

Like Dexter's Laboratory and some other Cartoon Network series from the 1990s, the original pilot appeared as an episode of the series What a Cartoon!, the brain child of Fred Seibert, then president of Hanna-Barbera. The Cow and Chicken series first broadcast on Cartoon Network from 1997 to the year 1999, with reruns airing prominently on the network until April 2006. Late into the series run, the characters I.M. Weasel and I.R. Baboon, who were part of the series recurring segment, I Am Weasel, were another counterpart into their own series. Reruns are played on Boomerang, which are rated TV-Y7.



Cow and Chicken are brother and sister, who have human parents whose faces are never seen in an episode. In the pilot episode, "No Smoking", their bodies have no upper halves. In the episode "Cow and Chicken Reclining," when Cow is digging in the closet and pulls out what would be their upper halves, she refers to them as her science project. In the same episode, Mom's shadow appears with the upper half of her body cut off. In the episode "Which Came First," when Mom sits on the TV and laughs, her body appears to have an upper half. The creators were faced with the question of whether and how to explain this scenario. David Feiss approached this problem in the series's opening title sequence: Mama had a chicken/Mama had a cow/Dad was proud/He didn't care how. This is all that is ever offered in explanation, though there is one hint in the episode "The Day I'm Born" that Cow is adopted, and Chicken's parentage has been told about in the episode, "Which Came First?", when Mom sits on an egg and says, "Oh, boy, this brings back memories!"

Cow and Chicken's extended family consists of various other types of animals, including Cousin Boneless, who is a boneless chicken (unable to walk or get up from the floor); Snail Boy, a snail; Cousin Black Sheep, a sheep; and Sow, an evil pig. They also have an uncle Longhorn Steer, who appears in "Professor Longhorn Steer." The episode, "Happy Meat" also showed the ghosts of a pair of Cow and Chicken's ancestors, a male farmer married to a female chicken.

The show is set in Witchita, Virginia.


Poster to the Cow and Chicken pilot No Smoking: The Original Pilot

The idea of Cow and Chicken first existed as a story that David Feiss had made for his daughter.[2] Feiss was a cartoonist who had worked with Hanna-Barbera and related projects since 1978.[2]

Later, Feiss was called to submit any ideas he had for the series "What a Cartoon!", a series composed of various cartoon shorts from various creators and writers. Feiss submitted three ideas for the series to Larry Huber, the series' executive producer. One of the ideas was Cow and Chicken.[3] Cow and Chicken premiered on the "What a Cartoon!" series in 1995. Although most cartoons in the series had never gone beyond one short, Hanna-Barbera had decided to turn Cow and Chicken into a full series (possibly since the Emmy Award nomination of the original short), following many letters from fans asking for more Cow and Chicken cartoons.[3]

The Cow and Chicken series premiered on July 15, 1997, and ran for 52 episodes through 1999. Reruns continued to be shown on Cartoon Network until April 10, 2006. The show also included a cartoon called I Am Weasel as a supporting segment; this segment was spun off as an independent series late in the show's run. Typically, an episode would consist of two seven-minute Cow and Chicken shorts playing back-to-back, then followed by a seven-minute I Am Weasel short (with separate theme song) at the tail end, before the end credits. The exception to this structure was episode 105 ("The Ugliest Weenie"), which had the Weasel short ("I Are Big Star") play in-between the two Cow and Chicken shorts, possibly because said shorts were one storyline.

Cow and Chicken was notable in that a single actor, Charlie Adler, voiced three leading roles of Cow, Chicken, and the Red Guy (much like how Mel Blanc voiced many characters in the Warner Brothers' Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes series). Other actors provided supporting voices, including Dan Castellaneta (the voice of Earl). David Feiss himself did the voice of a clown in an episode called "The Great Pantzini". Additional voices in various episodes were provided by Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, and Seth McFarlane.

Today, the series is often labeled a classic of the late 1990s Cartoon Network cartoons (the collective Cartoon Cartoons).

Main characters


Cow, voiced by Charlie Alder (who also voiced as Chicken and Red Guy), is Chicken's 7 year old sister, with a weight stated as 600 pounds. Cow looks up to Chicken, who she refers to as "Big Brother". She is often viewed by Chicken as infantile and stupid, and is quickly prone to emotional outbursts. She is the only character to appear in every episode of the show. Cow has employed Blackmail to get Chicken to do what she wants and often attempts to get the other characters to do the right thing. She also enjoys drinking her own milk. Her frequent quote is "Fairy Princess!" whenever she sings in excitement. Cow's alter ego is "Supercow", a superhero with the ability to fly. Supercow's powers lie in a green blanket and her outfit is purple with a logo on the chest which resembles that of Superman. Her alter ego Supercow speaks Spanish, and in several episodes exclaims: "¡Supercow al rescate!" ("Supercow to the rescue!") In the Spanish-language dub of the show, this works in reverse -- Cow speaks Spanish while Supercow speaks English. Cow first became Supercow in the pilot, "No Smoking." She whistles musically as seen in the episode: Chicken Lips.


Chicken, voiced by Charlie Adler (who also voiced as Cow and Red Guy), is Cow's 11 year old brother. He can be mean to his younger sister, and even to the rest of the family. He has a powerful ego, but in spite of this, has a powerful conscience, usually only displayed when Cow is in danger, as well as being more intelligent (and sane) than most characters, and his selfish actions can actually come to others help. An example of all these can be found in the episode "Comet!", where Chicken was the only one to walk normally (the other characters followed the Red Guy by using their buttocks in instead of their legs), and later Chicken tricked all the others in belief that a deadly comet was coming to smash them all and sold "Shields" (rather cheap gadgets) to them, but after he witnessed Cow's farewell to her toys, Chicken felt guilty and confessed to the scam. However, when a real deadly (but small) comet arrived, Chicken's protections actually worked and he was forgiven for his prank. His speech is riddled with malapropisms and sarcasm. Despite being a male, he demonstrated the ability to lay eggs. Chicken is very fond of ice skating. Like other chickens, he cannot fly, and is afraid of flying. Chicken is the only character in the show who knows that his sister and Supercow are the same person. Chicken even once turned into his own alter ego, calling himself "Wonder Wattle" to save his sister. Whereas Supercow speaks fluent Spanish, Chicken required the help of a Spanish dictionary. He is also shown in the episode "The Bad News Plastic Surgeons" to have high skills in plastic surgery.

Despite his name, Chicken more resembles a rooster, including having a wattle.

The Red Guy

The Red Guy, voiced by Charlie Adler (who also voiced as Cow and Chicken), serves as Cow and Chicken's incompetent arch-nemesis throughout the series whose trademark is his (usual) refusal to wear pants. He was originally portrayed as the Devil in the pilot episode where he attempted to tempt Chicken into smoking and lure him down to Hell, although later episodes remove any outright connection between him and Satanism. In later episodes, he spends his time trying to either scam, annoy, torment, humiliate, physically harm, or outright kill Cow and Chicken. Later in the series, despite the long history of animosity between them, Cow, Chicken, and the Red Guy are portrayed as friends in some episodes. He displays odd mannerisms (such as rolling around on the floor or walking on his buttocks to get around) and uses very exaggerated tones in his speech. He seems prone to mood swings, often going from smooth and witty to loud and ranting in an instant. He often disguises himself as an authority figure (principals, kings, queens, lunch ladies, police officers and other things) and wears disguises such as small shirts, wigs and short skirts. In some episodes, multiple and seemingly distinct Red Guys are present, usually working together, which raises the question of whether or not the Red Guy in each episode is a different one each time. Catch phrases include: "Hello, it's me, [whoever he is]," "I'm going to be rich," "Fetching!", "Why the long face?" "Sue me," "Ooh," "You know", "Can you be helped?" when disguised as a store clerk, and "Is that a crime?" Like the other characters in the show, Red will refer to everyone else as "ladies," "girls," "gals," or "men." He is revealed in the episode "The Day I Was Born" to be the doctor who delivered Cow from her real mother.

A running gag throughout the series deals with the fact that The Red Guy does not wear pants (or underwear), and seems to take pride in his buttocks and his nudity similar to a nudist. In fact, he often goes to extreme lengths to avoid wearing pants. Some rare exceptions occurred in “Intelligent Life?” when after establishing world peace Red asks to keep the jeans he has acquired. Upon wearing them, he exclaims, “Look at what I have been missing all these years!”. He often introduces himself with fake names emphasizing his lack of pants (i.e. Dr. Laxslax, Sans Pants, Ben Panced, Seymour Butts, Mrs. Bare Derrière, Officer Pantsoffski, Mr. Jeans Begone, Lance Sackless, Mr. Cheeks, etc.). A lot of The Red Guy's explanations for why he pulled a certain scam involve something bad that happened to him when he was 9 years old. While in a therapy session, The Red Guy revealed he had no idea that wearing pants was required in school, stating he was too young to know such a complex fact. The Red Guy also appeared semi-regularly in I Am Weasel.


Flem, voiced by Howard Morris, is Chicken's best friend who has thick red lips. He and his father both wear glasses. Of the three (Earl, Chicken, and himself), he is the one most often sent to perform tasks, because he is considered the ugliest or fattest. Flem is named after one of David Feiss's friends in middle school who was not good looking but was very loyal.


Earl, voiced by Dan Castellaneta (using a higher pitched version of the slurred, drunken voice Castellaneta uses when he voices Simpsons character, Barney Gumble), is Chicken's other best friend who wears a red baseball cap and braces. Like Flem, Earl is based on one of David Feiss' friends back in Middle School. He and Flem both have a secret crush on Cow. Earl lives with Flem and Flem's Dad.


Dad, voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, is Cow and Chicken's father. His brother is Professor Longhorn Steer. On screen, only his legs and waist are shown. He is identified by green pants and brown loafers. He boasts his manliness, stating that even the most mundane of tasks (such as driving in the snow) "bring out the man in him". Dad does not seem to know about Cow's birth and once stated she was born in a cabbage and claimed, "That was the best cabbage we ever had". Like his wife, sometimes he also seems to be insane. For example, he once woke up his kids at 3:00 a.m. only to tell them how he and Mom met.

Sometimes he indirectly refers to himself as a woman (when talking about a clock passed down to all the girls to his family, he said that his mother gave to him, when he was giving said clock to Cow) or to Mom as a man ("start your day off like a man, just like Momma").


Mom, voiced by Candi Milo, is Cow and Chicken's mother. Like Dad, only her legs and waist are shown on screen and is identified by a white dress with red polka-dots, a yellow apron and red flat shoes. She is prone to giving her children advice that is strange: "Never go to the carnival naked" or "Never run around in a burning school auditorium". She is sensitive, as shown in one episode, crying when Chicken asked what would happen if a guy goes in a girl's bathroom (though it is hinted she might have been worried Chicken would commit voyeurism).

Miss Teacher

Teacher, voiced by Candi Milo, is Cow and Chicken's female teacher who is simply called "Teacher." Her catch phrase is "Basically". In class Teacher will say "Shut your pork traps!" or "Shut your pie holes!" to get her students to listen to her. Also, she responds to Chicken's strange, even contradictory observations, such as realizing the Earth is cubic, with "That's why you go to school!"

Minor characters

  • Crabs the Warthog (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) - One of Cow's favorite dolls. Shaped as a green warthog with wheels in his snout, as well as being dressed up in some smart and colorful clothes. His first appearance was in "Part Time Job." Crabs also has a key role in the episode, "Cow's Toys." Also appeared in "Can Cow Come Out and Play?" and in "Lawnmower Chicken." Along with many other "kids' show for adults" aspects of this show Cow is heard shouting "I've got crabs..." followed by a too-long pause, finished with " the warthog" during at least one episode.
  • Piles the Beaver (voiced by Tom Kenny) - One of Cow's favorite dolls. Shaped as a purple beaver with blond hair. Much to Manure the Bear's disgust, Piles also has a rip-cord that says random things such as, "I'm Piles the Beaver. Hey!" His debut was in "Cow Loves Piles," but he was first mentioned in the episode, "Who is Supercow?" Piles also has an important role in "Cow's Toys." Again, like Crabs, Piles is referenced by Cow with a too-lengthy pause between "I've got piles..." pause... "the beaver".
  • Manure the Bear (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) - One of Cow's favorite dolls. Shaped as a disgruntled bear wearing a dirty diaper. Manure was first referenced in "Chicken's First Kiss," when Earl tells Chicken that he was hit with the same doll. Manure wasn't introduced as one of Cow's dolls until season 3. Like Crabs and Piles, he also has a key role in "Cow's Toys." He is implied to soil himself often.
  • Boneless Chicken (voiced by Charlie Adler) - Cow and Chicken's funny cousin. An older chicken who possesses no skeleton, except for having teeth. He always says strange things, but the watcher can't tell if he's serious or just joking. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War. He only appeared in "Alive!", "The Laughing Puddle," "The Exchange Stüdent", "Dream Date Chicken," "Boneless Kite." and "Cow & Chicken Blues." It is unknown which side of the family he is related to.
  • Grandmama (voiced by Bibi Ostewald)- Mom's mother and Cow and Chicken's grandmother. She often seems as blind as a bat; she has glasses, but refuses to wear them. Once she lost her husband, and her only reason was can't remember where I put him.She then went shopping for one and picked up her own husband, quite oblivious that it was him. She was seen in the episodes "Grandma at the Mall" and "No Smoking."
  • Grandpapa - Mom's father and Grandmama's husband,whom she lost, because she couldn't remember where she put him. She buys him again at a grandpa bazaar. He looks surprisingly similar to her.
  • Flem's Dad (voiced by Michael Stanton) - Usually seen wearing Summer Camp clothing; he made appearances in the episodes, "The Legend of Sailcat", "Going My Way?", "Lost at Sea" (in which the Red Guy calls him an idiot). Flem's Dad can play the guitar.
  • Cousin Black Sheep (voiced by Tom Kenny) - Cow and Chicken's other cousin. He's the black sheep of the family. He is in fact extremely kind and cultured, but people accuse him of misdemeanors anyway, because he is a black sheep. Like Boneless Chicken and Cousin Sow, it is unknown which side of the family he is related to.
  • Snail Boy (voiced by Tom Kenny) - Cow and Chicken's other cousin. Mom and Dad's nephew. He is Cow and Chicken's maternal cousin through Mom's sister.
  • Cousin Sow (voiced by Pamela Adlon) - Cow and Chicken's evil Pig cousin. Sow is Cow's favorite cousin. Sow's step parents sent her to live with Cow and Chicken as her last chance to clean up her act. Sow did bad things at school and Cow got the blame. Sow even dated Flem and Earl. Sow eventually got sent to Reform School and is never seen or mentioned again. It is also never said which side of the family Sow is related to. Since Sow mentions her stepparents working together, it is possible her parents are on good terms with each other.
  • Professor Longhorn Steer (voiced by Tom Kenny) Dad's brother who is a longhorn. Longhorn has lied to the family for years about being a college professor, until Cow & Chicken get to know him after a couple of lessons where he gets arrested. While he is an unsuccessful fraud at first, he becomes a successful professor teaching cattle how to stampede. He states that due to his unsuccessful life, he has never married and raised children, which causes envy between him and his more successful friends. Since his surname is Steer, this hints that Cow, Chicken, Mom, and Dad's surname could also be Steer.
  • Sumo Guy (voiced by Carlos Alazraqui) - He's the sumo wrestler that appears in the episode "Sumo Cow".
  • Blind Mud Puddle Johnson (voiced by Greg Eagles) - Appeared in the final episode of the same name. Cow and Chicken use Dad's advice when they have the blues to go to him. It turns out he lives out on a bayou neighboring their house beyond the fence. He told the tale of a gator hunter named Lance Sackless.


Cow and Chicken has a total of 52 episodes in 4 seasons that were produced from November 1996 to April 1999.[4]


Cow and Chicken drew on several types of cartoon humor through its run. The series often made use of cartoon violence; Cow and Chicken were frequently placed in dangerous situations and the Red Guy was frequently pummeled and beaten (usually by Supercow). The series also made fun of the clichés of cartoons. For example, Cow has an alter-ego: Supercow, who is a superhero with different characteristics to her normal character (such as flight, and the ability to speak Spanish); and the Red Guy tries in vain to discover Supercow's secret identity so he can "die happy". Another cliché made fun of in the series is that the children's parents, who are called Mom and Dad by everyone, exist only from the waist down, and can be seen to stop at the waist (whenever their shadows appear, they are cut off at the waist). A picture even exists on the wall of the parents from the waist down. Also, Cow disguises herself as Dad simply by wearing Dad's pants. This makes fun of the idea of partially unseen characters and cartoons in which adults are seen only from the waist down (e.g. Muppet Babies). Also, many jokes of the series use adolescent humor, which made the show somewhat controversial.

Recurring jokes and gags

In some episodes, the missing upper bodies of Cow and Chicken's parents are used as a gag. For example, in one episode ("No Smoking"), the cartoon "camera" accidentally zooms out too far, and shows Mom and Dad cut off at the waist. In another episode ("Cow and Chicken Reclining"), Cow and Chicken search through a closet by throwing out everything inside, and for a small moment, the upper (human) bodies of Mom and Dad are visible as part of a discarded science project by Cow (however, considering the absurdist nature of the show's humor, this may be a throwaway gag). They are also occasionally seen driving a car with their feet, writing and grabbing on to things with their toes, and dialling a phone by kicking the numbers. Mom and Dad's shadows are also shown as being cut off at the waist in several episodes like "Cow and Chicken Reclining". Mama's body can be seen cut clearly in one scene when she laughs sitting on a TV in the episode "Which Came First?". In one episode, Cow also disguises herself as Dad by wearing his pants, which nearly cover Cow's face.

Whenever the scene showed Cow and Chicken in the school cafeteria they always ordered "pork butts and taters."

When disguised, The Red Guy often is without pants or disguise names reflect this in puns or more literal references such as "Mr. Likenopants", "Officer Pantsoffski", "Mrs. Bare Derriere", "Ivan Panced", "Lance Sackless", "Ben Panced," "Rear Admiral Floyd", "The Great Pantsini", "Larry Lackapants", "Mr. Jeans Begone", "Dr. Laxslax" and "Dr./Mr./Prof. Heiniebottom"; Supercow will refer to the Red Guy's incarnations as "El Diablo sin pantalones" (literally, "the Devil without pants").

Within the show, the characters often refer to everyone else as ladies, girls, gals, or men, regardless of their gender, as well as constantly peppering their speech with malapropisms and using sarcasm.

Mom and Dad will often say things to imply or outright say they are of the opposite gender. ("It's time you started off your day like a man. Just like Momma!")

The show often breaks the fourth wall. I Am Weasel exists as a cartoon in the fictional world of Cow and Chicken, however, this is contradicted in "I.R. In Wrong Cartoon" (a crossover between the two cartoons), when the Red Guy, disguised as a bearskin rug, says to Cow when she wants to take Weasel out of the TV to make him real, "He's just as real as you and I." In "The Laughing Puddle", when the entire population of Folsom has gone into the titular puddle, Chicken states, "Is anything in this cartoon ever going to make sense?" A few times throughout the series, some characters (usually the Red Guy) request for the cartoon to end.


DVD releases

Cow and Chicken: Season 1, a two-disc set featuring the complete first season which contains 13 complete episodes, was released by Madman Entertainment in Australia (Region 4 PAL) on September 12, 2007.[citation needed] Season 02 Came Out on February 10, 2010 by the same company in Australia.[citation needed]

It is currently unknown if any DVD releases will occur in the United States.

Other DVD releases

  • Cartoon Network Halloween: "Cow with Four Eyes"
  • Cartoon Network Christmas: "Me an' My Dog"


Cow, Chicken and The Red Guy have all been characters in the game Cartoon Network Racing. The game is for the PlayStation 2 and the Nintendo DS. The PlayStation 2 Version also includes Flem and Earl as playable characters.

In the video game Fusionfall, one of the items you can get for your character is based on Cow and Chicken. Cow and Chicken's cousin, Boneless Chicken can also be seen on a billboard in the game. Though not in the game (yet), Cow is seen as SuperCow as a statue at Mt. Neverest.


The segment "Buffalo Gals", which aired initially on February 20, 1998 along with the follow-up segment "Cow and Chicken Reclining," was banned by Cartoon Network because of its innuendos implying that the Buffalo Gals were lesbians and its typecasting of lesbians.[5] The episode contained obvious sexual humor, which includes Mom's line "It's the Buffalo Gals, a biker group that randomly breaks into people's houses and chews on their carpet," the name of one of the bikers being "Munch Kelly," the Buffalo Gals singing "Buffalo Gals" (Buffalo gals, won't you come out tonight?), and the Buffalo Gals playing softball and talking about "pitching" and "catching", slang terms for gay sex.[6] The episode aired only once, and was replaced with the episode "Orthodontic Police" in future airings.

The episode "Comet!" was edited after its first showing. On the part where Dad hits his golf ball too far, he originally shouts, "Oh, divot!". This language offended viewers, who misinterpreted the word as "dammit". On reruns, this was edited by having Dad shout, "Oh..." followed by a few seconds of silence and a repeat of Dad yelling "Two!" The unedited episode could be seen on Cartoon Network Video from August 26 to October 8, 2007, and on Boomerang.

See also


External links

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