The Venture Brothers (2003-present) is a cartoon series on [adult swim]/Cartoon Network that focuses upon the lives and adventures of the Venture brothers (snarky Hank and brainy Dean) and their father, scientist/adventurer Thaddeus "Rusty" Venture (who has grown bitter and abusive towards his own children due to his failure to live up to the legacy of his super-scientist father Jonas Venture, making him a sort of pulp version of a Former Child Star). They are followed by their government issued bodyguards: first Brock Samson, an ex-black ops agent who's described as a Swedish murder machine and then Sergeant Hatred, a former super-villain/recovering pedophile who was drafted by the military to replace Brock when he quit the job.The Venture family travels the world, getting into all sorts of bizarre adventures and spoofing the everloving hell out of Jonny Quest along the way — at least at first. The series quickly developed into something far more interesting than a mean spirited Jonny Quest parody as the characters gained depth and the show took a dark turn into deconstructing the entire "youth adventure" genre. The focus of the series shifted from the brothers and onto Rusty Venture, and as the theme of "failure" became the central element of the series, the episodes began to show what happens to boy adventurers as they grow up and discover that their 1960s childhood's promises of peace, love, and super science fail to materialise over the course of their own lives.There is also The Monarch, Rusty Venture's longtime nemesis who transforms from lame joke villain based around butterflies to bad-ass super-villain; his quest to win back his girlfriend and get revenge against fellow villain Phantom Limb, who framed him for murder, catapults him into the spotlight in a number of episodes.Notable for, out of all of [adult swim]'s original shows, coming the closest to making any actual sense. As the seasons go by, episodes focus more on the characters' bizarre and intersecting backgrounds, while surprisingly deep Character Developmentadds delicious layers to the humor.J.G. Thirlwell (aka Foetus) does the soundtrack, which is awesome.note Witness!There is a Character Sheet for the series.
Abusive Parents: A running theme is that only horrible parents would drag their kids into dangerous adventures week after week.
Rusty is just as selfish, reckless, and condescending towards Hank and Dean as he is to everyone else. He has almost no regard for the safety and well-being of his sons, who get dragged onto adventures where they often get kidnapped. In fact, both boys have actually been killed and replaced several times over the years, necessitating their replacement by near-identical clones that Rusty has kept since they were born. Under the guidance of their father (and learning beds), Hank and Dean have grown up to be socially awkward teenagers without the knowledge or skills to succeed in regular society.
While Jonas Sr. seems like the perfect role model, flashbacks reveal him to be just about as bad as Rusty when it comes to parenting. He routinely torments Rusty with dangerous experiments and adventures. When he's not completely neglectful, he's bringing Rusty along to orgies and publicly humiliating him in front of his team.
Although Doctor Orpheus is a surprisingly caring and domestic father, he keeps a dimension gateway in Triana's closet and mindwipes her every time she opens the door, leading to some cumulative trauma.
"Well, you see, dear, I was just...Oh this is pointless. SLEEEEEEEEEEEEP! In your sleep everything is forgotten."
Dr. Impossible fails to refer to his infant son by name, referring to him as THE CHILD, when he even remembers he has a son. Then there's this gem:
Sally Impossible: What could possibly be more important than your son? Richard Impossible: Sssssssscience?
The Hale Brothers were driven to murder their father by his psychological abuse.
Action Johnny is another former boy adventurer and recovered addict with severe father issues.
Dr. Henry Killinger will fix all of your problems, personal or career-related, with his "magical murder bag." He isn't just The Ace, he's a character for whom the role of The Ace is played straight but turned up to eleven so he'll have huge comedic effect.
The super-intelligent, incredibly-handsome, fabulously-wealthy, and outwardly-perfect Dr. Jonas Venture. Jonas Jr. skirts this trope but keeps from falling in by being a dwarf who spent several decades being mistaken for a tumor.
21's insistence that the "Monarch Mind Infractor" should have been called the "Monarch Mind Machine" or the "Monarch Mind Mutilator."
There is "The Mighty Monarch!" himself, along with his Monarch-Mobile. In the episode "Shadowman 9 in the Cradle of Destiny," he poses as The Mighty Manotaur, a supervillain with a Malevolent Murder Maze.
Phantom Limb calls Billy his "prodigiously perspicacious protégé."
Girl Hitler, a minor recurring character, looks pretty much exactly what you would expect her to look like: a woman who looks and acts like Adolf Hitler, mustache included. She turns out not to actually be evil, but her catchphrase is "you mess with ze girl..." (arm shoots up in Nazi salute) "...and you get ze Hitlahr!"
In the fourth season premier, Hitler himself appears possessing a dog. The Nazis want to use Rusty's (now revealed) cloning technology to bring him back. Dean grows attached to the dog. "He's not all bad. Hitler just needs someone to believe in him. Can't you just give Hitler a chance!"
Not so much since he was imprisoned and stripped of his Guild membership for attempting to usurp control of the Guild from David Bowie.
Dr. Henry Killinger, who appears to help people by drastically improving their lives, but then turns out to be setting them up as super-villains that are "destined" to plague some specific good guy he's picked out for them.
both the Monarch and Doctor Girlfriend
(arguably) Henchmen #21 and #24
Sgt. Hatred, who vowed to subvert the trope with his rivalry with Doctor Venture, just to piss off the Monarch for stealing technology from him. It worked too well as Hatred ended up replacing Brock as the Venture family's bodyguard.
The Sovereign is so nice and polite in person that you tend to forget he's running the world's largest organization of costumed villains. Although considering that The Guild has rules and regulations binding them, and discourages killing (without prior escalation), they're not nearly as bad as the usual criminals. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the Sovereign actually is David Bowie.
The Alleged Car: Henchman #24's powder blue Nissan Stanza. It's not much to look at, but it runs okay when we see it.
"Blood of The Father, Heart Of Steel". The part of the story focusing on the Venture family is done Back to Front, starting with the climax of the Stupid Jetpack Hitler plot and running to the start. However, at the same time, we see what's been happening to Brock Sampson; his plot is told in normal chronological order, and is played in between segments of the Venture family plot. The timeline is established by titles displaying the CGC value of #21's Marvel Comics #1 and by the length of Hank's hair.
Season one and two had similar out-of-order problems upon first airing. Phantom Limb's debut episode didn't air originally until the week before "The Trial of the Monarch" when it was supposed to air earlier in the season. Similarly, "Assassinanny 911" originally aired as the third episode of season two when it was originally supposed to air midway through the season, meaning Trianna's friend Kim was shown hanging around before she was to be officially introduced. The later created (temporarily) a What Happened to the Mouse? scenario as her debut episode (Victor.Echo.November) ended with Kim being given a Guild contact card and Kim proclaiming that she was going to become a villain and torment the Venture Brothers, after Hank kept accusing her of being a super-villain. When aired in proper order, "Assassinanny 911" reveals that she didn't go through with it.
Animal Assassin: The Monarch is a fan of these. He sends a tarantula to kill Doctor Venture in his sleep, but it was thwarted by a scorpion sent by Baron Ünderbheit. He also put 21 up to the task of killing Venture's psychiatrist by planting a snake in the air vents of his office. He has also used caterpillars and dangled the Venture family above an amazonian river filled with Candiru fish. Rusty is saved from a cobra in a package by virtue of having left said package on his desk for several years.
Animation Bump: On top of the to-be-expected Art Evolution, the pilot was, instead of having higher quality animation, animated in Adobe Flash.
Pretty common on this show. Notable examples include Home Insecurity, where The Monarch and Underbeit trade lasers and daggers, and get ready to fight, but peter out because they were just grandstanding. Also, Bright Lights Dean City, where The Revenge Society, made of newcomers, and old faces, have spent the entire B-plot trying to kill Dr. Venture, and they finally have him surrounded, until one guy trips and sends Dr. Venture to another dimension.
Anyone Can Die: At the end of season one the series hadn't been picked up for another season, so the main characters both get killed, only to turn out in the next season's premier (which was produced over a year later) to have been clones (which explains why their father ignores them so much - he's already coped with the deaths of the originals). The later death of Henchman #24 is a Wham Episode worthy of spoiler tags, and was a total shock to the fanbase since the show's focus had shifted so much since the first season.
In a DVD commentary for season two, Col. Gentleman was stated to be above sexuality. "Of course I'm having sex with Kiki, what would you do with him? Look at 'im, he's beautiful! That doesn't make me gay, that makes me smart!"
Dr. Girlfriend / Mrs. The Monarch / Queen Etheria had quite an interesting personal life before joining up with the Monarch. The Monarch and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch are the most notorious swingers in the Guild. When #21 confesses to his makeout session with the Monarch's wife, the Monarch doesn't even bat an eye. Manta Claus did much nastier things to his woman while he watched. And then she made them all breakfast!
Brock Samson. The early episodes show him bedding mostly unattractive women and even paying a particularly skanky prostitute. Later he's shown to be more of a memetic sex god, having bedded most of the female characters on the show.
Arbitrary Skepticism: Rusty and Dr Orpheus spend the entirety of "Return to the House of Mummies pt II" debating this.
Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: When Brock discovers Dr. Girlfriend in bed, she says something along these lines. Brock declines, still suspecting that she's a post-op transsexual. Dr. Girlfriend is somewhat disappointed and pouts that she's not going to beg.
Art Evolution: The main cast's faces became a lot more detailed by season two, while Dr. Orpheus' face just settled. Backgrounds were more detailed by season three. By season four there is more detail all around and the colors are more vibrant.
Even between the first episode and second episode, the character designs shifted a fair bit, gaining more vivid colors, darker and more defined lines, and other little changes. This resulted in the titles looking a little... odd... since they still use all the designs from the first episode.
Author Appeal: In the DVD commentary for the Doc Hammer-written "ORB", Jackson Publick remarks that the script was "a list of stuff Doc likes." Most notably, allusions to late 19th/early 20th century American painters. (Doc Hammer is also a painter.)
Author Avatar: In the DVD commentaries, Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick have said whenever they're stuck on the writing, they create a pair of characters loosely based on (and frequently voiced by) themselves. #21 and #24 are the Ur-example; others include Watch and Ward, the Moppets and the Lepidopterists.
Of course it has been suggested that Pete White◊ looks suspiciously like Doc Hammer◊, and they share a love of 80's electronica.
Pete White is Doc Hammer if he was albino and voiced by Jackson Publick; Billy Quizboy is Jackson Publick if he was a little person and voiced by Doc Hammer.
Author Filibuster: Possibly a subversion, but: the season four episode had two (Pro-Choice and Anti-Vegan/Vegetarianism) for the price of one, when now Imaginary Friend 24 delivers a tangent about the "truth" about souls: everything BUT unborn babies have souls (babies don't get their souls until their first year of life) and that God doesn't care if you eat animals/plants that have souls.
Brock Samson does this to the Monarch and OSI, tricking them into fighting each other.
Brock himself is a victim of a one by Molotov Cocktease and Hunter Gathers, as they trick Brock into thinking OSI is out to kill him to get him to eliminate the competition for their new assassination agency.
Even that turns out to be part of an even bigger Gambit organized by Hunter Gathers, to get Brock free of O.S.I. and recruit him for the newly restructured SPHINX.
Which was just a Xanatos Roulette by General Treister to install Hunter as new head of the O.S.I. and flush out Doe and Cardholder as moles.
Actionman will yell "ACTION, ACTION, ACTION!" repeatedly while shooting costumed mooks in the face.
Bears Are Bad News: That creepy as sin bear supervillain in Bright Lights, Dean City, who frightened the hell out of the Revenge Society's leaders. He's dripping in blood, has a scary costume, never speaks, shows up out of nowhere, and has a knife (identified as Scare Bear in commentary).
Because You Can Cope: Subverted: Rusty routinely saddles Hank with the lion's share of the emotional trauma of being a boy adventurer because Hank knows it's all fake. Doc Venture tries to protect Dean while maintaining his belief in super science and the threat of costumed aggression.
Subverted: In the Halloween Special, Dean decides to handle the emotional trauma of knowing the Venture brothers are clones by himself and not reveal this information to Hank, to spare him the pain of knowing.
Molotov Cocktease and Colonel Hunter Gathers' Black Hearts Mercenary group in season three.
Subverted, however, with Sgt. Hatred in season three; while he's Rusty's official nemesis for that season, he is dead set on gaining Rusty's respect and love, largely to torment the Monarch by not killing Rusty.
And back to the Monarch again in season four. Phantom Limb has returned as of season four and is back on his game, fully intent on taking back the position.
Biggus Dickus: Brock, Jonas Venture, the Monarch, and Monstroso all have big dicks.
Bilingual Bonus: In the pilot, the character "Otaku Sensuri" is introduced as representing "the Onani Corporation of Japan". Onani, in Danish and Japanese, means masturbation, and "onanism" is an archaic English word for masturbation. Not to mention "Sensuri" - or rather, "senzuri" - is itself another Japanese slang word for masturbation. Pair this with the well-known word "Otaku" (meaning "fanboy"), and the whole damn company is basically about Fan Wank... whether literal or metaphorical is best left unsaid.
In English, the sin of Onan refers to a Biblical tale of a guy who loves to spill his seed. Hardly an archaic use; anyone well versed in Judeo-Christian theology would understand that an Onanist is a wanker. The Danish term would have the same origin, don't know about the Japanese term.
Biting-the-Hand Humor: Done very subtly. The creators had to fight tooth and nail with Cartoon Network to get them to cough up the money to use a licensed song in the second season premier. According to the commentary for that episode, the network may well have had a decent point because (according to Doc Hammer) the rights cost an eighth of entire series budget.
The same commentary plays with biting the hand humour too, playing a message from CN denying them the money, and revealing that the network only agreed after seeing the scene cut to music written by Doc Hammer which was bad enough to convince them they needed the track to make the sequence work.
The third season premier has the Guild's Council showing a video of the Monarch having sex with Doctor Girlfriend for the first time, only to replace the song (by The Sugarcubes) with generic music (Brock's training song from season one) because they couldn't afford the rights, much to the Monarch's annoyance.
Venture Bros. box sets tend to have some digs at Adult Swim:
Billy Quizboy (Narrating): ...With more special features than an Adult Swim DVD.
Bittersweet Ending: The season three finale. The three assassins who tried to kill Brock turned out to not have been with the OSI, but they were Molotov's assassin rivals. However, the others don't know yet and Molotov is still likely not an enemy of the Venture family, so they're safe for the time being; it also appears Sergeant Hatred might perform a Heel Face Turn. However, Brock's experience with the whole situation convinces him to quit the OSI, thus he also quits being the family bodyguard. Finally, the attack on the Venture Compound by the Monarch left the boys' clones destroyed, but Dr. Venture may be likely to protect his boys more often (as he told Hank, "you only live once"). His cloning experiments (which are illegal) have been made public. 24 and H.E.L.P.eR are dead; the former now talks with his best friend, Henchman 21, from beyond the grave (he also helped said friend become a Badass) and the latter had his head placed on a walking eye Dr. Venture made some time ago.
Season four's finale, similarly. The episode balances out ending relationships while also starting some new ones. Dean is forced to give up on Triana again. Molotov leaves Brock for Monstroso and seemingly commits suicide with Monstroso rather than being captured. Henchman 21 is fully disillusioned with Dr. Girlfriend as well as the Monarch, quitting and flipping them off but opening the door for a full Heel Face Turn, as well as being forced to finally face the fact that his best friend is truly dead and he's been hallucinating him this entire season. At the same time the Alchemist finally hooks up with Shore Leave and Sgt. Hatred is reunited with Princess Tinyfeet. Hunter Gathers is finally able to end the feud with OSI, but at the same time General Triester ejects himself to a possible death in search of an alien cure after being shown to be a really good guy. Finally, 21 buries 24's skull, putting him behind him. In regards to Molotov's death, however, the creators of the series have stated numerous times that no one is dead unless you see them die on screen.
King Gorilla trying and failing to rape the Monarch in prison (he proved unable to because The Monarch was too feminine for his tastes), and Nancy and Drew Quymn attempting to rape Dean.
Now some people may say that Rusty having sex with an underage girl (statutory rape) isn't funny, but those people just don't get the swinging Rusty Venture.
In two episodes of season two Hank alludes to unseen incidents where he and Dean were Bad Touched by Sgt. Hatred, and they were both hilarious moments.
In "The Revenge Society" short-statured Billy Quizboy wakes up from what he believes was a dream only to be greeted by recovering pedophile Sgt. Hatred. A later episode says all they did was cuddle.
Blatant Lies: Practically the only thing that comes out of Dermot's mouth.
Blood Is The New Black: After a fight Brock (especially in earlier seasons or flashbacks) will often be shown covered in paint-like swaths of blood.
Body Backup Drive: The Venture Brothers had a backup army of clones, at least until their dad had to stop cloning them for legal reasons.
Bond Villain Stupidity: Why not just kill a hero? Because the Guild of Calamitous Intent's bylaws prevent it. In fact, supervillains are generally not even allowed to arm their henchmen with actual guns, which is why the Monarch and his henchmen use darts. Heroes also have to adhere to this if they don't want to piss off the Guild, which is described as a powder keg of psychos who like using kid gloves but have access to far, far worse.
Bored With Insanity: After his escape from the Guild of Calamitous Intent's prison in season four, Phantom Limb gradually regains his sanity, culminating when Professor Impossible restores his limbs completely with the added side effect of screwing on his head tightly in place.
Boring, but Practical: Monstroso's plan to take down Venture was to do it bureaucratically rather than some grandiose invasion like the Monarch had hoped for.
Bottle Episode: "Tag Sale - You're It!" was meant to be one, as it took place entirely on the Venture compound, except that Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick loaded the background with brand-new bit characters, going against the whole idea... They tend to do that a lot.
Break the Cutie: The Monarch dumping Dr. Girlfriend in "Trial of the Monarch", especially given how the Monarch reduced his lover to tears by calling her a whore. Unseen, but mentioned, was Dr. Quymn's off-camera break-up with the father of her two kids, which left her emotionally destroyed until her childhood friend Rusty came back into her life.
Rusty's childhood consisted of a lot of this, thanks to his father being a complete Jerk Ass, a constant with the fathers/guardians of former boy adventurers/detectives. Thus, this applies to Dean Venture as well.
Lovable loser Henchman 21 gets broken in season four.
Which comes as a result of his being broken in the season three finale.
In one of the earlier seasons, it's mentioned that the boys had a crush on the postwoman who delivered to the Venture compound, as she was the only female they ever saw. Hank tries to take her to prom in the season four finale.
The Monarch orders 21 and 24 from prison to dispose of the charred remains of Wonderboy, whom he later admits he "kind of slew" during his period of heavy drinking following the breakup with Dr. Girlfriend. In the season three premiere, the Monarch told an offhand war story about "Captain Sunshine" in which he tricked the hero into thinking that the Monarch was invulnerable. For all the viewers know, this is just some guy the Monarch made up to impress Dr. Girlfriend. Captain Sunshine charges into the story in the second episode of season four and loudly declares that he knows the Monarch is invulnerable.
Both Monstroso and Sgt. Hatred are also characters based off Brick Jokes. #21 mentions that most of the Monarch's henchmen went to work for Monstroso when the Monarch was sent to prison, and Sgt. Hatred was originally just some guy the Monarch stole technology from (and his henchmen played pranks on), only to become a main character by Season 4.
21 realizes Hank's immortality in season two and tells him he's the Highlander. In season four, after Hank's clones are all destroyed, 21 tells him that it looks like he won't see the Quickening after all.
In the season 4's finale, one of Hunter's demands to General Treister in exchange for Monstroso is for the O.S.I to stop sending agents to try and infiltrate SPHINX, as they're starting to get tired of killing them and can't afford the body bags. By the end of the episode, it's implied that all but five of the SPHINX agents are O.S.I moles.
Brilliant, but Lazy: Rusty can be pretty competent when necessary (he's certainly adept at cloning) and weapons of mass destruction. It has been shown however that many of Dr. Venture's inventions are in fact creations of his late father, and sometimes his own modifications to his father's work. It's also implied that Pete White is a skilled scientist as well, though he spends most of his time playing video games and goofing off. However, Pete White's specialty is computers and technology, with most of his hobbies (video games, radio, internet) reflecting that.
Dr. Girlfriend went to college for a degree in science, designed the Monarch's working wings and the cocoon's security system. She mostly makes snacks for henchmen and reads all day. She had great potential as a supervillain but she prefers to be the power behind the throne because it's easier.
Broken Pedestal: The series has made a point of showing that Jonas Sr. was really a Jerkass whose actions either psychologically damaged Rusty or caused incredible amounts of suffering to others.
Buffy Speak: Jefferson Twilight tends to do this a lot. Nik-L-Nips. That is all.
Butter Face: Anna Baldavich. Apparently. When she died in season two, a news banner states she receives a closed-casket funeral.
Butt Monkey: Billy Quizboy. Most of the characters are on the receiving end of tons of abuse, but Billy is roundly dismissed as a loser even among his fellow losers. However, don't push him too far. He's groin punchedBrock Samsonand lived, not to mention he apparently managed to shake off the effect of O.S.I. brainwashing technology as well as being shown to be a brilliant amateur surgeon.
Subverted with the Monarch: the pilot shows him as a hapless punching bag for Team Venture, but as the series progresses, the Monarch takes less abuse and becomes more of a dominant figure.
Camp Gay: The Alchemist, who ironically is the one member of the Order of the Triad who also sees how utterly silly the trappings of super-heroism is and constantly busts Dr. Orpheus's balls whenever he starts taking things way too seriously.
The Alchemist: But being a magic super hero that keeps chasing the same guy? It’s completely gay. That is coming from a guy that voluntarily has sex with men!
Most of the members of the aforementioned OSI, who resemble The Village People and are all very enthusiastic about "hitting the showers" together. Eventually we learn that Shoreleave was kicked out of the group for being gay, indicating that the group apparently lives in a Transparent Closet.
In the The Guild flashback, Oscar Wilde, who's referred to by Aleister Crowley as "The ugly queen".
Captain Ersatz: Many, MANY characters are thinly-veiled pastiches of both famous and obscure fictional characters, although it many cases this approaches subversion or deconstruction. The creators love to make 'realistic' interpretations of other characters and watch them fall apart.
Less obviously than most, the Action News Team is based on the Freedom Fighters (including Firebrand), with Captain Sunshine being the Ray.
Most of the cast ends up corresponding with someone. Dr. Venture is Jonny Quest as an adult, his father was Doc Savage. Visually he's based on Benton Quest... somewhat. Mostly the beard.
Rusty's boy adventurer support group is composed of Action Johnny (Jonny Quest), middle-aged murder suspects Lance and Dale Hale (the Hardy Boys), Ro-Boy (Astro Boy), and the first Robin (who is now fat and broke).
And yet it's implied, as well as being outright stated, that (at least some of) the real characters exist in-universe, like the Quest family, as well as Daphne and Velma. Even odder when you consider characters like Rusty and the fake Scooby Gang in season 2 are parodies of certain real life counterparts (Johnny Quest and, well...the Scooby Gang, respectively.)
Cargo Cult: The season three episode "What Goes Down Must Come Up", where a group of chemically addled children trapped in an underground bunker derive their entire culture from punchcard recordings Jonas Venture made to educate Rusty in the event of a nuclear apocalypse... and VH-1 Classic.
Cargo Ship: The Monarch and his new Butterglider seen in the second part of season four. invoked
Phantom Limb and 'Lady Nightshade,' a high-heeled shoe he stole from Dr. Girlfriend's closet.
Rusty (Brock, Hank and Dean) with that "iron cylinder of unearthly delights" they call the Joy Can.
Car Meets House: Brock has done this intentionally on more than one occasion. Hank did it on accident once while driving Brock's car.
Caught with Your Pants Down: One episode has the Monarch watching Dr. Girlfriend seducing Dr. Venture on a video monitor. He starts rubbing his chest, his hand drifts downward... and stops abruptly when a henchman passes through.
Celebrity Paradox: Unusually, parodies of characters and celebrities exist alongside the real thing. Rusty, modeled as a grown-up Jonny Quest, interacts with the actual Jonny Quest; Jonny and Rusty gossip about Daphne and Velma in "Self Medication" despite parodies of the characters showing up in "Viva Los Muertos!" - not even touching the fact that other characters have Lamp Shaded Hank wearing Freddy's signature outfit; Col. Gathers points out the similarity between the 80's OSI superstars and The Village People; Professor Impossible and his family exist in a world where people read comics about The Fantastic Four; and Captain Sunshine and Wonder Boy are real while Batman and Robin are fictional.
Here's how it works You know how one of the themes of Watchmen is how different the world would be if superheroes really existed? For instance, there aren't any superhero comics, since there's actual superheroes. Well, as part of the "failure" theme, The Venture Brothers shows a world that's functionally the same despite the presence of superheroes, super-science, etc. Magic and mad science exist, but are in the hands of the same inept, petty people as everything else, and are thus no more successful. In reflection of this, the world of The Venture Brothers has exactly the same escapist fantasy literature and cinema as our world; the presence of real superheroes has failed to make any impact.
Celibate Hero: Deconstructed with Col. Bud Manstrong, who is so sexually repressed that his girlfriend cheats on him with Brock Samson. He's shown to be a complete Mama's Boy too, and it is later revealed that his mother's an Evil Matriarch whose bullying of her son has caused him to repress any and all sexual desires, to the point of having a Heroic BSOD when said girlfriend gives him a handjob right before she dies.
Cerebus Retcon (relatively speaking): Billy's inability to remember how he got his robotic hand.
Cerebus Syndrome: Not nearly as drastic as most examples, but Venture Bros. went from being a parody of Johnny Quest/Hanna-Barbera cartoons to a more serious examination of the characters.
Chaos Architecture: Underland is somehow in Eastern Europe and at the same time bordering with Michigan.
Character Development: Most of the characters started out as Jonny Quest/pulp comic parodies whose personalities could be summed up in one or two sentences, but all of them have become more complex and three-dimensional as the show progressed. For example:
Dean has gradually changed from an enthusiastic adventure boy to a Type 2 Seen It All who really just wants to hang out with kids his own age. He's also become more likely to get into fights (though he hasn't Taken A Level In Badass).
Dean is by no means a Badass, but let's be fair, he did manage to kneecap Baron Ünderbheit with a steel baton after being caught *completely* off-guard by The Revenge Society. Definitely an improvement over Dean's previous onscreen fight, where he just flailed wildly against Dermott. In the same scene his rape whistle seems to disable Mr. Impossible, or at least forces him to put his hands over his ears instead of using his stretching powers to subdue Dean. It takes Phantom Limb's "killer hand thing" to drop him.
The Monarch has become more intelligent and sane in his villainy, even pulling off a Batman Gambit — though it's possible he was always this way, since he became horrifically lethal the moment he was arching anyone other than Venture. His relationship with Doctor Girlfriend (now Dr. Mrs. The Monarch) has dramatically evolved, too.
Brock has become more moral over the course of the show, questioning things that didn't seem right when he looked closer, leading up to quitting in the season three finale.
The entire purpose of Dr Henry Killinger is to force this in characters. He's like a more affable Mike.
While still not all that smart, Hank isn't nearly as naive or childish as he used to be in early seasons now that he's older. The largest evidence came during his angry speech when 21 kidnapped him and his brother and accused them of killing 24. Brock's absence, while unfortunate, is actually having a pretty cool effect on his personality and actions.
Dr. Venture himself has slowly but surely overcome some of his daddy issues. Hand in hand with this is him becoming less callous toward his sons (if more openly vitriolic).
Henchman 21, following 24's death, has become one of the most competent people not just in the Monarch's organization, but in the Guild. He was actually capable of earning praise from Brock Samson for their fight.
Characterization Marches On: The writers describe their characterization process as simply writing whatever was funniest at the time, then modifying the character afterward so that it comes across as Hidden Depths. This off-the-wall approach has led to some characters going in wildly different directions - Hank and Dean went from one step short of Single-Minded Twins to extreme opposites of recklessness and cautiousness; the Monarch went from joke villain to a bad ass villain with character depth to make him one of the most fully developed characters of the series.
Rusty's characterization has been kept almost completely consistent, however.
Chekhov's Gun: A bunch, some huge, some subtle, like Phantom Limb using a muscle accelerator to heal Brock Samson. He says it was a left over from his day as a goodie two-shoe scientist. In season three we learn that using similar devices on himself is what gave him his powers.
Child by Rape: Dermott. Either his father knowingly had sex with a minor, which is statutory rape, or his mother mislead him about her age, which is rape by deception. Either way Dermott is the result of a rape.
Children Forced To Kill: A clip from The Rusty Venture Show shows young Rusty being forced to shoot a bad guy to save his father.
In the season 3 finale, Doc tells Sgt. Hatred that his father made him kill a man with a house key. He was ten.
Although not exactly a child, Killinger makes Hank kill a man who stole from his father.
The Chosen Zero: Dean Venture's bizarre mental breakdown during the season two finale has him imagine himself as the chosen one of a fantasy world. The ruler of the fantasy land is not impressed and assumes that it's some kind of a joke.
Cloning Blues: Hank and Dean, upon discovering the laboratory where their clone slugs are kept, curl up and start weeping. Dr. Venture subsequently claims that the clones are a Christmas present in order to end their blues.
In "Perchance to Dean," a deformed Dean clone who was aborted as a baby but somehow survived hidden in the Venture compound, wishing he was the 'real' Dean. Oh, and also making a Dean-suit out of the skins of dead clones.
"The Better Man" adds a new wrinkle to this, possibly. Dean's genes are useless for reproduction, as the cloning process has made him unable to father kids that aren't freaks. Since the clones were all made at once, this must mean the cloning technology has some serious flaws. Of course, the Master could easily have been exaggerating to make a point.
In the Halloween special, "A Very Venture Halloween," Dean learns that he and Hank are clones; furthermore, no efforts are made to wipe his memory or cover-up the knowledge. After a brief reflection on the ethics of "playing God", he decides to drown his sorrows in cheap beer.
Comic Trio: Starting with season four, a lot of Those Two Guys-type relationships were expanded into comedy trios - the Revenge Society (Phantom Limb, Impossible, Ünderbheit), SPHINX (Brock, Hunter, and Shore Leave) and even the title duo was expanded into a trio.
Companion Cube: Phantom Limb's "Revenge Society" consists of a coffee mug, a toaster, and a shoe...and he talks to them.
This was due to Limb's prior nervous-breakdown after suffering through various losses to the Guild and The Monarch. He eventually pulls himself together and replaces said inanimate objects with real people (Underbheit, Professor Impossible, etc.). At least, we THINK the people replaced the objects...
Continuity Nod: In a throw-away line at the end of the first season, the Monarch instructs his henchmen to "send Captain Sunshine the charred remains of his beloved Wonderboy." Said Captain appears for the first time three seasons later.
On top of that, Captain Sunshine's belief that the Monarch is invulnerable confirms a story that the Monarch told to impress the future Dr. Girlfriend in a flashback in the third season.
The show actually has a ton. In the first half of the season three finale, Hank mentions to professional assassin Le Tueur that he'd once dressed up in a Batman costume and jumped off the roof of his house... or at least, he thinks did— it might have be a dream. In the season two premiere, we actually see a Hank clone do exactly that in a Death Montage. Which begs the question: how does the current Hank remember that?
When Dean's testicles wrap around themselves in season one, Rusty blames himself, muttering "Should have fixed this in the prototype phase," and then the second season reveals what he meant by that.
Even one of the show's main characters started out this way. Originally Sergeant Hatred was just part of a throwaway gag; the Monarch idly mentioned he'd stolen some pieces of his Hover Tank. A whole season later, Hatred becomes Rusty's new arch enemy, thus stealing the Monarch's job. It turns out he planned this all just to get back at the Monarch for stealing his tank parts. Later still, he's promoted to one of the four main cast members when Brock quits the team.
While Sergeant Hatred was introduced in the season 2 finale two-parter, he becomes a recurring character in early season 3, as Doc's new Arch. However, in the previous episode, which flashes back to Billy's time as an OSI Operative, Brock gets bawled out by a shouty, redheaded OSI noncom. In the montage which ends the episode, he is shown putting on a Guild of Calamitous Intent ring.
In the midseason finale of season four, "Pinstripes & Poltergeists." The Monarch is executing a business deal with the hugely oversized Devil-themed villain Monstroso; as far back as the season one finale, Dr Girlfriend was assumed to have some history with Monstroso.
When Alchemist phones up Watch and Ward to ask them what a Rusty Venture entails, they immediately reply that "the guild is not responsible if a third party kills their assigned archvillain." This is a clear reference to the Triad's nemesis being dispatched by the Outrider in an earlier episode.
The Scooby-Doo knockoffs in Viva Los Muertos have a flashback where the Shaggy and Scooby analog brutally kill Hank and Dean. They encounter them again (as clones) and assume that they are ghosts. When the "gang" sees the tanks of clones, the Fred analog is heard to say "They're not ghosts, they're the freaking Boys From Brazil!"
Cool and Unusual Punishment: 21 uses the Chinese Water Torture on Hank and Dean, which just proves to be kind of annoying at worst. Doesn't help that he neglected to keep them completely isolated and keeps telling them that they're going insane.
Cool Car: Brock's Dodge Charger, which still holds together despite him using it as a weapon with some frequency. And, showing how tough he is, it's shown that he tore it apart before the beginning of the two-part season three finale when it tried to kill him.
The Monarch's new Monarchmobile, which can fly. This is in marked contrast to his previous transport, Henchman #24's beat-up Nissan Stanza, and even the purple, war wagon Monarchmobile. Well, okay, the original original Monarchmobile was actually pretty cool - the purple war wagon he adopted later was a little fruity.
Myra's Bullitt Mustang is a nice complement to Brock's Charger. The car chase scene in Bulitt is between a Mustang and Charger and is often listed as the seminal chase scene.
Colonel Gathers' Jensen Interceptor, with gadgets similar to 007's DB5. All OSI members past and present seem to have some identifiable 'cool car' from the late 60s or early 70s.
'Venture Motors' SAAB 96 in which Hank and Dean were likely conceived.
Crapsack World: One of the themes of the show is how the age of super-science that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s never produced the cool technology (such as jet packs and flying cars) promised to the common man.
Crippling Overspecialization: Implied to be the bane of Jefferson Twilight, Blacula hunter, since he exclusively hunts black vampires. Later countered when it's revealed that he is a former army vet and has a ton of practical skills such as the ability to drive a tank. That said, abandoned, fueled-up, ready-to-drive tanks that can actually be driven by one guy are probably much less common than Blaculas.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Hank handily beats all the "tests" thrown at him by a secret organization he wants to join, all of which were designed to make him go away. Hank himself points out that he's spent so much time with people trying to kill him or abduct him that this stuff is old hat.
Cryptic Background Reference: Many characters and elements started as offhand references. Baron Ünderbheit, Monstroso, Sgt. Hatred, Truckules and Captain Sunshine were all briefly alluded to as part of the show's world-building before they became important parts of the story.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Though any scene where Brock puts a beatdown on the Monarch's henchman is an example, nowhere is this more noticeable than in the first episode where he runs them over with his car. He had to turn his windshield wipers on to clear the blood away so he could find more to run over.
Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Referenced; the Monarch paid a couple million dollars for some robot caterpillars just so that he could ransom the Venture boys for ten million. He explicitly says that he is doing this For the Evulz.
Played straight with Jonas Jr. who makes a comfortable living selling the advanced tech he initially improvised to try and kill Rusty.
Cyanide Pill: Brock has a false tooth loaded with arsenic, which he offers to Dr. Venture in "Love Bheits".
Decoy Protagonist: The Venture Brothers aren't necessarily the protagonists. The show is constructed as more of an ensemble piece than anything else. Many episodes focus on Dr. Venture and Brock, and the season arcs in general seem to narrate the Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend as they become professional villains. Hank, however, is definitely the protagonist of season four.
Disproportionate Retribution: A guy they knew in college actually his robot clone, the real person was dead tries to get back at his college associates for his mistaken belief that they were doing everything they could to separate him from his crush. Rusty has this following gem: "Oh come on! You're going to kill me because I had fake sex on graph paper with a girl who barely spoke to you in real life??"
The Dragon: Dr. Girlfriend made a career out of playing "Number 2" to various supervillains, including the Monarch and Phantom Limb. Shortly after their marriage, however, she and the Monarch became an Evil Duo, with the Pupa Twins (formerly Dr. Girlfriend's Murderous Moppets) acting as twin Dragons.
Dude, Not Funny!: Invoked in-universe when the Monarch accidentally brings cigarettes to King Gorilla's welcome home party. To be fair, he expected the cancer about as much as we did.
The Monarch calls Ned Impossible a retard, which Jonas Venture Jr. takes deep offense to.
Dumbass Has a Point: When Dermott gives Dean girl advice, Hank marvels that it was actually good.
Dumb Muscle: Deconstructed with Ned Impossible, who was mentally challenged before the freak accident that gave him superhuman strength.
Dysfunction Junction: The characters who don't have multiple mental issues can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand.
Elite Mooks: The Black Guards the Monarch briefly employed under the tutelage of Dr. Henry Killinger.
Possibly subverted: one of them was 24 (who is definitely not elite). It's entirely possible they were all just normal incompetent Monarch henchmen with cooler looking uniforms, meant to invoke this trope.
It's later revealed that Billy Quizboy and Dr. Girlfriendalso went to State University, but not at the same time as everyone else, and that Phantom Limb used to teach there, having taken over Professor Impossible's position at the school when Impossible was involved in a scandal involving a student named "Sally".
It's lampshaded again in season four when the Monarch meets Pete White for the first time, and remembers White from his college radio show and acts surprised that they hadn't met before then.
Season three also implied that Phantom Limb and Professor Impossible worked under Jonas Venture Sr. as part of group of assistants to his scientific work. Professor Impossible confirms this in season four in a conversation with Dean.
However, Dr. Orpheus went to "a junior college upstate" where he majored in communications (Post-Mortem Communications?). And the Doctor title was bestowed upon him by a higher power than a mere college professor.
The Council of Thirteen, though some of them can be identified by their silhouettes (Wild Fop, for one...) However, Word of God says that they often use silhouettes when they haven't decided exactly what a character will look like.
Two councilmen, 8 and 3, were revealed in The Revenge Society as Dragoon and Red Mantle (or as The Big Bopper and Buddy Holly in their earlier days).
One of the councilmen can be easily identified as Dr. Z (an ersatz of Dr. Zin), who himself made appearances as a civilian on a few occasions throughout Season 3.
Fail O'Suckyname: Pretty much every bad guy on the show, really. Just look at the names on the Character Sheet. Villains with dumb names is clearly an intentional part of the plot.
Fake Cross Over: Race Bannon from Jonny Quest makes an appearance in "Ice Station— Impossible!", but dies onscreen within minutes of appearing (he later appears as an OSI interrogator in a flashback in season three). In the season two episode "Twenty Years to Midnight", the group has an encounter with a deranged, drug-addled, middle-aged Jonny Quest. Though Warner owns rights to both the Venture Brothers and Jonny Quest, the character names were changed in season three due to possible interest in reviving the Quest franchise. Thus, Jonny Quest became "Action Johnny," Doctor Zin became Doctor Z, and Hadji became Radji, who works for Jonas Jr. and has a strained relationship with his wife due to his desire to help the drug addicted Action Johnny.
In "The Buddy System," The Captain (fake Ghost Pirate) describes his past adventures as a villain to the kids, which all sound like episodes of Scooby-Doo, particularly the part about getting to meet "the guy who did the vaice fer Inspector Gadget." The implication is that the Captain is, in fact, really from Scooby-Doo.
"Self Medication" included some dialogue between Dr. Venture and his fellow former boy adventurers that referred to Daphne and Velma as if they were real, with Action Johnny having slept with Velma, much to the surprise of his companions who all thought she was a lesbian.
Fake High: Unfortunately the victim of the prank was allergic to oregano.
Fetus Terrible: Jonas Venture Jr., Dr. Venture's fetus-in-fetu parasitic vanishing temporarily evil twin.
As well as Tiny Attorney, inverted as the parasitic twin is a Matlock-esque Southern gentleman and the brains of the operation while the host is an inbred simpleton who doesn't speak.
Tiny Attorney is a direct shoutout to "Kuato", the leader of the Mutant Rebellion in Arnold's Total Recall.
Film Noir: Hank's detective agency daydreams are a parody of this.
Flat "What.": Hank delivers one of these in "Pinstripes & Poltergeists", when, after being assured that SPHINX can effortlessly erase their minds, Doc Venture casually tells him and Dean they're clones.
Fog Feet: The Phantom Limb has a very dangerous version of this trope.
A Form You Are Comfortable With: Played with in "Twenty Years to Midnight", where an alien takes the form of Dr. Venture's father, much to his annoyance. He eventually berates the alien until it reveals his true form, which is indeed apparently very disturbing.
Formally-Named Pet: The Monarch keeps his old cat, Mister Mostly Mittens, mounted in his dining room. "Mostly," since it had three white paws and one non-white paw.
Dr. Venture sees science only as a means to an end; his underlying motivation is Money, Dear Boy, and to a slightly lesser but still very strong degree, recognition. How he gets there is of little importance to him. Meanwhile Professor Impossible's treatment of his wife and son borders on cruelty. At best, he treats them as possessions and not as human beings.
Later seasons, however, have implied that both characters have come to take their families for granted as a result of their scientific exploits rather than neglecting to care for them at all; examples are the mess Dr. Impossible has become as a result of Sally's leaving him in season three and Dr. Venture's arguably greater interest in his sons' well-being after all of their clones are destroyed at the end of that same season.
Freak Lab Accident: One was involved for Phantom Limb, Dr. Entman/Humongoloid, and Dr. Dugong (if indeed that is not a costume).
Season one has Baron Ünderbheit suggesting Rusty Venture was responsible for the loss of his jaw during a lab accident, though it turns out the explosion was caused by the Monarch in an attempt to kill Rusty.
"Bright Lights, Dean City" in season four expands on this, showing that freak lab accidents have created quite a few notables in the show's setting. Brown Widow (the Spider-Man shoutout) is another example, and even notes that the experience soured him on exploring further careers in super-science.
Freudian Slip: When the Monarch is handing out orders on who each of his henchmen is to "find and subdue," Dr. Mrs. the Monarch accidentally says "find and seduce Brock Samson."
Friendly Enemy: Sergeant Hatred. "I'm going to make his life wonderful! And you can't do squat about it!"
Genre Savvy: Almost all of the cast is genre savvy, some (like #21 and #24) dangerously so. In other cases, such as Dean and Hank, they're genre savvy to the point of it interfering with their social lives.
Ghostly Glide: The sinister cadre known as The Silent Partners are shown not only gliding smoothly from place to place, but also have the habit of entering or leaving a room by levitating out of/ in to the floor.
Ghost Pirate: Or so it seems, until it proves to be a hoax by not-so-ghostly pirates.
Giving Up On Logic: When Rusty notes that Hank is taking the whole Rusty has been turned into a caterpillar thing awfully well, Hank just shrugs and points out all the other crazy stuff they've been involved in. Rusty winds up agreeing.
Going Commando: Rusty in "Ice Station — Impossible!" which turns out to be a bad idea after his Impossible jumpsuit shatters.
Good Costume Switch: Seargent Hatred not only switches to a venture compound suit, he also removed the H tattoo on his face and replaces it with a V tattoo.
Better, it used to say HATRED down his front, he removed all but the D because that one was "in a tender area".. so now it just says.. VD...
Gathers: Do you want the bad news or the good news first? Brock: I don't know, the good I guess. Gathers:There is no good news! Just bad news and weird news.
Great Escape: The Monarch's escape plan, after being framed for a murder that didn't happen, involved the cooperation of several fellow imprisoned villains... who all looked the other way when he made his move due to threats of death from Phantom Limb (who framed the Monarch so he could reclaim his ex). He got out with help from King Gorilla, who defied Phantom Limb due to his own issues with the Guild and the Monarch's reveal why he was framed.
Green Eye: Molotov Cocktease, with the red hair to boot.
Military Policeman 1: Oh, uh, I'm sorry, sir. Go on ahead. Military Policeman 2: What are you doing? Why'd you let 'im go? MP1: What? It's just a bunch of vets campin'. MP2: Dude, that was a shaved Bigfoot and Steve Summers in a wig made out of shaved Bigfoot.
Subverted in the "The Incredible Mr. Brisby" when Mandalay pulls a captain sensible and opts not to fight a pissed off Brock Samson, stepping aside so he could rescue the Ventures.
Hallucinations: After 24's death, 21 began carrying around his skull and talking to it. In the season four mid-season finale, 24 appears as a ghost only 21 can see and gives him advice in combat situations. At one point, he (the ghost) implies that he may be only a product of imagination, giving 21 confidence in his own abilities. Which is met with a frantic "NO! You are real!" In the season four finale, it is confirmed that 24 is a hallucination, not a ghost.
In "Showdown at Cremation Creek Pt. I and II" Dean has a complete (peaceful) breakdown where he imagines that a trek through the inside of the cocoon's engine room is a magical adventure with his childhood hero, Giant Boy Detective, and he is The Chosen One. It's basically an extra-Freudian Never Ending Story.
Handicapped Badass: Phantom Limb, who has one arm, one leg, and one testicle, goes up against an army of robotic Diamond Dogs, Guild Foot Soldiers and 15 foot robots. It doesn't end well for the army.
Most of the villains foul up somewhere and become this.
Seems to be what the Guild of Calamitous Intent and the OSI are designed for. The members seen seem to be more about annoying their arches rather than outright killing them.
Has Two Daddies: Brock and Rusty to the twins (well, the show is satirizing Jonny Quest after all). Brock seems to fulfill the "mother" duties, being much more personally involved with the boys than Rusty.
Hates Small Talk: In episode with the Walt DisneyExpy Mr. Brisbee, Brock at first tries to get along with Brisbee's bodyguard, but the other is completely silent and rude. Later on Brock is bored and tries to light a cigarette but can't, at which point the other bodyguard produces a lighter, prompting Brock to say "You're all right." Of course, it was all a trick to knock him out.
Heel Face Turn: Sgt. Hatred has replaced Brock as the Venture family bodyguard.
Heroic BSOD: Dean has a very minor one in the Halloween special when he wakes up on the examining table of an aged geneticist named Ben, who reveals that he is actually a clone born in a lab tank. Ben helps to talk him through it though.
Hero of Another Story: Inverted for a villain with Sergeant Hatred. He was originally a catch-all for whenever another villain needed to be mentioned, particularly for 21 and 24 to steal stuff from. He eventually gained a a few unsavory quirks from offhand mentions before he debuted in the series proper and was integrated into the main cast.
Lamp Shaded in season four when 21 complains that their uniforms make them stand out without actually providing any protection and that the non-retractable wings make it difficult to get through all the tapered doorways in the Cocoon.
Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Everyone in Dr. Venture's therapy group, which consists of expies of Robin, Jonny Quest, and the Hardy Boys. They even refer to him as "Johnny".
Historical In-Joke: The ghost of Abraham Lincoln pins Colonel Manstrong in a full nelson, referencing Lincoln's past as a wrestler.
Hollywood Nerd: Henchman #21, whose "weapons arsenal" consists of replicas, collectibles, and Hulk Hands.
Jean-Claude LeTueur is a handsome and extremely wealthy assassin whose last known whereabouts were the San Diego Comic Con; when asked by customs at the airport whether he had anything to declare, he shouted "Excelsior!"
Homoerotic Dream: One of the members of SPHINX makes a comment about having one of these.
"I had an erotic dream about Henry Rollins list night, and I'm straight as an arrow!"
Hypocritical Humor: Rusty tells Hank how awkward his 16th birthday was because his father invited prostitutes to the party. For Hank and Dean's home school prom, he tries to hire some whores for it.
Those were for the adults; count them out, and theres a hooker for every (straight) guy there. Hank and Dean had to find their own dates; Dean asked Triana (who had a boyfriend and only went "as friends"), while Hank tried to ask their mailcarrier (who said "hell no") and later Dermott (later reforming Shallow Gravy).
Improbable Aiming Skills: Shore Leave is deadly accurate with his pistols, being able to shoot specific targets on 21's costume from a large distance. One handed. Also Sgt. Hatred, able to do the same thing but with a scoped rifle.
Incredibly Lame Pun: A lot of characters are named based on puns, such as Phantom Limb, Manotaur, Quentin Ball, Killermanjaro, and "Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Nightmare-coat".
Ink Suit Actor: A sort of inverted example, the duo Pete White and Billy Quizboy look a lot like creators Doc Hammer and Chris McCulloch (AKA Jackson Publick), with added deformities. Inverted because each character is voiced by the other voice actor. Whether the in-joke stops there or extends to a mechanism for Doc and Chris to poke fun at each other is uncertain, you'd have to know them to tell I s'pose.
Brock has slept with a lot of women, and occasionally (if unintentionally) beats up their significant others shortly afterwards.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Brock Samson as of season three. Even after being terminated from his mission, he continued caring for the safety of Venture and, more noticeably, the boys, when facing three deadly assassins.
Orpheus' master never misses the opportunity to mock Orpheus for his failures in life, or Triana for how she could possibly fail, but he arguably does this for his pupil's benefit (to show him where he's gone wrong and encourage him to change).
Rusty Venture has some genuinely soft moments like when he cried over Brock's "grave" in "Dia de Los Dangerous!," or when he ordered Brock to spare the life of his brother who just tried to vaporise him with a laser, but then there are times like when he used the soul of an orphaned child to power a sentient "pleasure chamber" in "Eeney, Meeney, Miney...Magic!"
Karma Houdini: Arguably, Pete White. He basically destroyed Billy Quizboy's life, first ruining his reputation as a quizboy by cheating for him, then losing both the money that Billy had been saving for college and the boy's hand by accidentally entering him in a dogfighting ring. In order to retain Billy's friendship Jack had his memory wiped, allowing him to completely avoid the consequences. It's really no wonder that Zero introduced Billy as "under the villain Pete White."
Large Ham: The Monarch, who does it for fun and show, and Doctor Orpheus, who seems incapable of not doing it.
The only time that Orpheus doesn't speak this way is when he delivers withering sarcasm.
Last Unsmoked Cigarette: In the episode, "Dr. Quymn, Medicine Woman," Dr. Quymn wears a crystal necklace throughout the episode. We find out after she suffers an epileptic seizure and her home burns down that it's her last cigarette, which she proceeds to smoke to deal with the stresses of the evening.
Leader Forms The Head: Comes up when JJ Venture's team spoofs Voltron with the "Ventronic," complete with the "I form the " exclamations. The combined form has two heads, the one formed from JJ's robot, and the "left arm" clown head, shaped in a way to be recognizable and comfortable to Ned. Instead of just putting the clown head on top, they wind up with a stubby, useless arm, not too dissimilar to JJ himself.
Legacy Character: Captain Sunshine, as it turns out. Not suprising since most of his character is a parody of Batman and the first Robin recently assumed the title.
Leitmotif: Dr. Orpheus has his own dramaticallyRISING MUSICwhenever heSPEAKS ALLLLOUD! Which is to say pretty much all the time.
Less Embarrassing Term: Dean: "My big gift is a jumpsuit???" Dr.Venture: "Speedsuit Dean, Speedsuit. I don't ever want to hear you say jumpsuit again."
Light Is Not Good: Captain Sunshine, who is solar powered, just for extra irony. Well, OK, he's still a superhero, but he does some... questionable things.
Lima Syndrome: The Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend develop this regarding the boys in the first episode.
Limited Wardrobe: Most of the cast. Exceptions include Brock, who has been seen wearing at least three different shirts.
Lampshaded in the episode "Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean":
Hank: "I had to sleep in my clothes! Now I feel gross wearing them two days in a row!" Monarch: "You're kidding me, right? That's the only outfit I've ever seen you in!" Hank: "Well, that doesn't mean I never wash it." Monarch: "Fair enough."
After which, Hank spends most of the rest of the episode in a minion costume.
Lampshaded in "Escape to the House of Mummies Part II", when we learn Triana Orpheus always wears the same outfit due to a maddening fear of her closet, it being the doorway to the Necropolis.
The Load: Hank and Dean, most of the time. Dr. Venture on occasion.
Logic Bomb: In season four, Sergeant Hatred speaks nonsense to the robotic guard outside Malice. The guard's head shoots sparks and its face pops off because while it's programed to answer over 700 questions, "none of which include chicken fingers."
Love Freak: King Gorilla. The only reason he helped the Monarch escape from prison was in the name of love.
Love Redeems: Word Of God states that the Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend are meant to be a subversion: they have a functioning and loving relationship while still being irredeemably evil villains who kill people at the drop of a hat. The prevalence of the trope combined with the hilarious and over the top nature of their Moral Event Horizon moments make it a little hard to realize that this is happening.
Luke, You Are My Father: Dermott has told at least one person that he is Brock Samson's long lost son. It's revealed that Dr. Venture is actually his father.
Machine Empathy: Brock Samson has demonstrated the ability to sense when someone's in his car even if he's not physically present. Hank, upon witnessing a demonstration of this talent (which, despite the presence of superpowers and magic in this setting, seems to be purely mundane), comments to another character "I've seen him do that from a continent away."
Hank: I'm gonna take my shot now. I have it figured out that if I can just skim pop's belt buckle, maybe the bullet will ricochet off it and kill the guy with the gun!" Sergeant Hatred: Hank, I will give you so much money to not shoot your dad.
Magic Versus Science: The rivalry between Doctor Venture and Doctor Orpheus that comes to a head with the Two Lines, No Waiting challenge to shrink themselves. Dr. Orpheus ends up quitting because his master tells him how, philosophically, he's already as small as he can get in comparison with the vastness of the universe. Venture wins by default because Orpheus was the bigger man in admitting his failure, faster than Rusty could say he couldn't fix his father's shrink ray even with Pete and Billy's help.
Hank (to Sgt. Hatred): I already know you used to be a pedestrian.
A Man Is Not a Virgin: Rusty is embarrassed about not losing his virginity until he was 24. Billy Quizboy was ridiculed for being a virgin in his mid-30s, until season four, when Monstroso treated him to three prostitutes as part of the payment for Monstroso's heart transplant. As of season four, ladies and gentlemen, Hank had sex. With his best friend's hot mom. Who was knocked up at age 15 by Rusty Venture. And then got his memory wiped because remembering that last bit was too much to bear.
Manly Tears: A more sound-based example: Brock is sobbing when he's seen destroying his Cool Car that tried to kill him.
Meaningful Name: Assassins Jean-Claude LeTueur, Russel Sturgeon, and Heinrich Triggermensch; "Le Tueur" is French for "The Killer", Sturgeon is a kind of fish (and Rus specializes in maritime assassinations and general aquatic activity), and Herr Triggermensch ("Hair Trigger"), (German: Mr. Trigger-person, or Trigger-man) is a former biathlete, expert marksman, and gun fetishist.
Brock Samson himself: while his name is mostly meant to bring to mind "Race Bannon", he's a strong and somewhat amoral guy with long hair, like the biblical Samson, and has brick/rock-like qualities. The name "Brock" also means "badger". You do not want to voluntarily mess with a badger.
Not to mention a certain family that tends to venture into danger (much like another family tended to quest).
Mismatched Eyes: As near as it can be told, the Mighty Sovereign, David Bowie, as well as Jefferson Twilight.
Missing Mom: Nearly omnipresent. Rusty's mother is never even referred to, Hank and Dean's mother left right after they were born on account of maybe being taken to a mental institute, and Triana's mother left her husband for another man.
Doctor: (Venture is taken to the emergency room to extract a tumor) Sorry, medical personnel only. Brock: I go where he goes. Doctor: Oh. You must be his... partner then? Brock: No, it's more like I work for him— Wait a minute! NO!!
Pete White. Frequently, and much to his annoyance.
Phantom Limb: "Let the rats desert the ship. It's the big-fish-rats we're after."
Motionless Makeover: In "O.R.B.", Hank and Dean cover Orpheus in toilet paper while he's astral projecting, which freezes his body.
Motive Decay: Appears to happen in an episode when The Monarch suddenly demands ransom money instead of his usual MO of trying to kill Dr. Venture. It's revealed that he is simply doing it to hurt Rusty where it hurts. His wallet.
Hunter Gathers in the Black Hearts, though it turns out Hunter Gathers was working for SPHINX the entire time, and has recruited Brock, Shore Leave and a whole slew of former OSI agents into his organization.
If Phantom Limb's plan in "Bright Lights, Dean's City" is to be believed, The Moppets..
#21 donning his henchmen uniform while humming Mars, the Bringer of War and providing his own sound effects. Then, when #24 shows up and sings along with him, it becomes an instant Crowning Moment of Funny.
Doctor Byron Orpheus! and The Order of The Triad
Go Team Venture! (except when the original 60s team does it)
The "Ooo Ray"
#21's "weapon stockpile
Phantom Limb's selling of stolen artwork as supervillainy.
Dr. Zin Of Jonny Quest, who revels in acting out as a Large Ham to the benefit of younger villains and heroes and to entertain kids.
Mundane Solution: How do you dissolve an impenetrable shield generator force field? Put a little club soda on it.
Mushroom Samba: At a spiritual healing party held by Dr. Orpheus, Brock ingests an hallucinogen of sorts and then rides the beautiful dolphin into the bosom of his wisdom-dispencing motherfather figure.
In the episode "What Goes Down Must Come Up." we see a flashback where the original team Venture inhales a little too much of what is supposed to be a mood-enhancing drug. The hallucinations they (and the children with them) subsequently have are positively terrifying.
When Brock gets orders to kill Hunter and Molotov Cocktease comes to babysit the Ventures, Hank gets pricked in the neck when he accidentally discharges Molotov's boot heel spike. The resulting hallucinations convince him that killing his father will allow him to be with Molotov. He may have been more successful had his weapon of choice not been a papier-mache model sword.
My Brain Is Big: Subverted with Billy Quizboy, who is actually a hydrocephalic. Jonas Venture-era villain Brainulo acts like this, but in the DVD commentary, the idea that Brainulo doesn't have any actual inborn mental powers (and that he was originally written as if this were the case) is raised.
Nemean Skinning: Brock does this to a polar bear in "Ice Station Impossible".
And to Edgar Allan Poe in the fake preview for "Escape to the House of Mummies part 3"
Never Found the Body: Henchman 1/Scott Hall. After two seasons of being presumed dead, he appears in season four as "Zero."
Never Trust a Trailer: The fourth season trailer (beware of spoilers if you haven't watched up to the season three finale). Several clips used in it turn out to be fake-outs of some sort, especially the clip of Future!Doctor Venture juxtaposed with a shot of Dean aging - the two scenes have nothing to do with each other in the series, and Future!Doctor Venture is just David Bowie in disguise. The trailer also milks fantasy sequences and out-of-context lines for as many cool scenes as they can.
The Trailer for The Better Man focused on a "Hell Beast From Hell," who was even in the Cold Open and wasn't even from Hell. Despite physical appearances, it was not on the level of Cthulhu. The rest of the trailer talked about Triana entering a "portal to the Second World." Except it's not a portal to the Second World. Orpheus doesn't have a portal to the Second World. Half the episode centered on Orpheus not having a portal to the Second World.
None of the season four trailers can be trusted: AT.ALL!
Orpheus: I'm making my famous fritatas! Orpheus: Who wants PIZZA ROLLS? Orpheus: I would make a whizbang salesman!
Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Brock Samson's Joy Can vision includes ninjas raining from the sky, cowboys with flamethrowers riding Tyrannosaurs, polar bears on motorcycles with scuba divers manning machine guns in the sidecars.
Nipple and Dimed: Near the end of season three when the Monarch, his wife, 21, 24, Tim-Tom, and Kevin break into the Venture compound, Dr. Mrs. the Monarch waits in Brock's room so that she can seduce... er, subdue him when he shows up. As she adjusts her outfit, you can briefly see one of her nipples.
Dr. Henry Killinger looks, sounds, and acts a lot like former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger, right down to his magic murder bag. Then again, it's heavily implied that that's exactly who he is. As if the name didn't give it away.
Brock's mentor, Col. Hunter Gathers, is a distillation of the public persona of Dr Hunter S. Thompson, with the addition of a gender dysmorphism of which Thompson appeared to be free, or perhaps medicated out of existence.
Col. Gentleman, while he looks and sounds like Sean Connery, shares many of the personal traits of the late William S. Burroughs: a relationship with a Maghrebi adolescent boy named 'Kiki', a fondness for hashish, and a tendency to write on and on and on like a crazy person.
Mr. Brisby is a jaundiced view of Walt Disney, differing only in that he appears to have been limited to a wheelchair for the past twenty years, as opposed to having died and been kept frozen in the basement of Tomorrowland.
David Bowie and his associates Iggy Pop and Klaus Nomi. David Bowie gets another subtle one in "ORB" during the flashback to the Victorian Era Guild: "Tesla and the Avon Ladies are attacking."
Brian Eno shows up, too, in "The Revenge Society". Flying in the Warm Jets, no less.
When 21 and 24 finally see each other out of costume, they comment that they look like Kevin Smith without a beard and Jerry Seinfeld with a unibrow, respectively.
Appearing for only a few seconds is the BDSM-themed supervillainess Bettie Rage.
Guild council members Red Mantle and Dragoon describe an alternate explanation of the events of The Day The Music Died in The Revenge Society.
The Revenge Society later picks up married couple Lady Hawk Johnson and Lyndon Bee. And yes, they do look and sound exactly like President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife "Lady Bird" Johnson.
Keith Flint is seen running around in the forgotten underground of the Venture Compound.
No Delays For The Wicked: Subverted—the Guild of Calamitous Intent's labyrinthine rules for "arching" often delay the Monarch's schemes long enough to reference the documentation. However, the protagonists are similarly constrained by GCI policies.
Nominal Importance: Henchman #1 is a study in all aspects of the trope. It doesn't appear to save him.
24: You are nameless- 1: I'm Scott Hall! My name is Scott Hall! 24:Mmmmm, nope! Not gonna help! 21: Yeah, now it's just pathos. You're all dying in my lap and I'm all, SCOTT, SCOTT DON'T YOU QUIT ON US, DON'T YOU DARE! 24: You've just made your unavoidable death more pathetic.
Ironically, we learn 21's name (Gary), but not 24's.
Note to Self: Hank does this prior to a memory wipe so he'll know he finally got laid, leaving out the part that it was with Dermott's mother (who he thought was his sister) who had been knocked up by Rusty.
Not Me This Time: When Rusty and Brock are knocked out and kidnapped by a flying coffin, Hank and Dean immediately call the Monarch and demand he return them. He responds that it wasn't him this time, but "I have something planned for Thursday."
Rusty proclaims this in "Pomp and Circuitry" when the new wing of State University blows up — tacitly admitting responsibility for the lab accident that cost Baron Underbheit his jaw even though it was actually the Monarch. (Of course, Rusty probably doesn't know it's the Monarch's fault.)
Not Quite Starring: David Bowie, aka the Sovereign, in the two-part season two finale. His first appearance is even accompanied by text at the bottom of the screen that says, "celebrity voice impersonated". Allegedly, they tried to get David Bowie himself but he didn't get back to them before the episode aired.
Pretty much called out in "The Lepidopterists" where not playing by Guild rules to satisfy their crazy supervillain games ends up getting a lot of people dead. When bored supervillains don't have heroes to play stupid games with they tend to commit real crimes.
Revenge, Phantom Limb's alter-ego after he snaps, appears to be completely insane, as his revenge society initially consists of a Wisdom (a mug), Chuck (a toaster), and Lady Nightshade (a woman's dress shoe). However, all end up being useful to some degree, demonstrating that Revenge is, as he puts it, "Fruit-loop as a fox!"
Obliviously Evil: Dr. Venture never seemed to realize that his huge accumulation of horrible deeds could qualify him as a "bad person."
Oculothorax: "It's a giant eye!" Dr. Venture's eye robot.
Off Screen Moment Of Awesome: Used to an irritating degree. The Audience is never shown The end of Brock's fight with Henchman 21, 21 and Brock vs. Monstrosso, Brock and the rest of the family fighting the fly women in (P.R.O.M.), 21 and Sphinx fighting the Monstroso henchmen, and the battles between The monarch Henchmen and the OSI and the Monarch henchmen vs. guild henchmen, are continuously cut away from to showcase other characters antics The build up to these fight scenes, and no payoff represent the theme of failure in the show.
Oh Crap: Doctor Venture in "From The Ladle To The Grave The Story of Shallow Gravy" when He hears Dermotts last name and figures out that he's the boy's father.
This is how Molotov views Brock when they aren't making out.
Molotov: You know I'd never let anyone kill my Samson. That is my job.
Only Sane Man: Subverted in that pretty much every character feels like this at one point, only to turn around later and act unstable again.
Out of Focus: Triana seemed like she'd end up being Dean's love interest in the show, but midway through season two the Venture brothers stopped being the real center of the show, and thus Triana became more of a background character seen now and then.
Overshadowed by Awesome: As more time passes with Sgt. Hatred as the Venture bodyguard, we get to see that he actually has some competence, but it's all too easy to compare him to Brock.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Despite the fact that Jonas Venture Senior is a 6'2" white guy claiming to be "Japanese man from the village of Japaninawa", despite dressing like a Chinese person and holding the outer corners of his eyes with his fingertips to make them look slanted, and despite Scaramantula explicitly pointing these facts out, he never fully realizes that he's talking to the man he's planning on blackmailing.
Also, Hank in "Showdown at Cremation Creek":
Hank: Hello-ski! I am, how you say? Russian Guyovitch!
The superteam in "Handsome Ransom" is instantly recognizable as the Action News team.
Parody Magic Spell: "Everybody Come to Hank's" uses this. When assisting Orpheus casting a spell, an incantation is apparently required, and The Alchemist decides to have a little fun with it.
Ping Pong Naïveté: Hank and Dean, about sex, reality in general, and the fact that Brock kills people in front of them on a regular basis. May have something to do with those learning beds, which Dr. Venture believes screwed up his own social life. This was also due to their clones not getting the advantage of first-hand experience for very long; the current Hank and Dean are getting much more well-rounded the longer they're alive.
Power Perversion Potential: Orpheus's Master is a shape-shifter and well aware of the benefits. First demonstrated when he takes the form of Cerebus and lets one of his three heads continuously lick his genitals, which he admits to loving (but can also taste, which is maddening). Then later when he takes the form of Catherine the Great's horse (a scene that was mostly cut), and finally Lampshaded when he takes the form of Orpheus's surprisingly still hot ex-wife and claims he's going to jump rope naked in front of a mirror, in her body, after Orpheus leaves. "I mean would you look at these breasts? You could bounce a penis off these!"
Previously On: Parodied in "Return to the House of Mummies Part II", where the five minute Previously On is all that exists of Part I. Ends with an On The Next for a Part III which we never get to see either.
In "Showdown at Cremation Creek Part 2," there is a Previously On which basically shows the major events of the previous episode in super-fast motion, ending with the scene of the cliffhanger, played normally.
Product Placement: Brock: "Ever heard a Real Doll? It's a type of sex doll that you can make look like anyone. You can even put a uhhh.."
Psychic Nosebleed: Happens to Dr. Orpheus when he tries to probe Dr. Henry Killinger's mind.
Psycho for Hire: Herr Trigger, one of the three assassins sent to kill Brock. He is a gun fetishist and considers his job to be "ecstasy".
Punch Clock Villain: The Monarch's henchmen, and, previously, the Monarch and Henchman #24 for Phantom Limb, as well as Dr. Venture's single-episode "Venchmen". Mr. Brisbys bodyguard, Mandalay, was a great example of this as well.
Put on a Bus: Baron Ünderbheit after he was exiled from Ünderland and refused lodging by the Monarch in "Love Bheits".
Triana decided to live with her mom for a while.
It's debatable whether or not this actually a case of being put on a bus. Being a background character most of the time her absence is no greater than that of several other characters. Orpheus for example is absent for six episodes at the start of Season Four, which is roughly the same number of episodes Triana is absent for.
The Rashomon: In "Victor. Echo. November.", three completely different origin stories are given for Phantom Limb by various characters and all of them involving Billy Quizboy somehow. In 'The Invisible Hand of Fate" Limb's origin is revealed and did indeed involve Billy.
Raw Eggs Make You Stronger: In season one, Hank gives Brock a glass of raw eggs when he starts training to get his secret agent license back.
Hank: "When I'm through with you, you're going to eat lightning and crap thunder!"
Dean: "It looks more like he's going to eat eggs and crap... eggs."
Reconstruction: Much of the second and third seasons were spent lampshading the utter ludicrousness of the Guild of Calamitous Intent and the Office of Strategic Intelligence's secret costumed battle for supremacy, showing them both to be hidebound, ossified and frankly, quite ineffectual. Eventually, certain members of OSI saw through this and decided enough was enough, dug out some old equipment, and thus SPHINX was (re)born, as a more dynamic alternative focused on actually eliminating threats (costumed and otherwise) and not maintaining a BS status quo.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Between the two most recent Venture body guards. To illustrate, Brock is a fit, Knife Nut and man of few words, Sgt. Hatred on the other hand is an overweight, pistol wielding fellow who talks a lot.
Red Right Hand: This one is extremely common on the show. Almost every single villain, and a sizable fraction of the heroes, have some kind of freakish physical trait. Notable examples are Phantom Limb, whose arms and legs are invisible, and Scaramantula, who has eight fingers on his right hand and wears a rubber four-legged spider on his nose (with his eyebrows and mustache forming the other four legs).
Red Shirt Army: The Monarch's henchmen, more than any other supervillain, especially right after breaking out of prison and hiring a bunch of thugs off the street.
Reed Richards Is Useless: For all his money problems Doc Venture never considers selling cloned organs. However, the clone slugs seem to grow in real time, so doing so wouldn't be very fast. He was able to make a "quick and dirty" clone of a boy who died in "The Buddy System," but the quality of that clone was pretty questionable.
Though Dr. Venture did mention that this clone would "get better" with time, and that he had fixed several genetic anomalies while the clone was incubating. "I did his parents a favor, it was a real mess in there."
Replacement Goldfish: In the season four premiere, 21 tries to convince Dr. Venture to clone 24. However, as the only payment he can come up with is a vintage comic book, Doc declines. In "Handsome Ransom", Capt. Sunshine seeks to make Hank his new Wonderboy. It's clear he's desperately trying to use Hank to replace his slain sidekick because he's not ready to deal with it, spoiling and sheltering him for fear that he'll feel that loss again.
Reunion Revenge: "Past Tense" centers on Dr. Venture, Brock, Pete White and Baron Ünderbheit being kidnapped by a supposedly (and actually) dead college classmate for their "crimes" against him - all of which are extremely minor, petty pranks which he thinks ruined his chances with the girl of his dreams (they didn't; he was a total loser and she wasn't interested).
The Reveal: Averted. One detail contributing to the Monarch's enigmatic quality was that he always wears a hood, leaving all but his face obscured except in flashbacks... then, in "The Diving Bell vs. The Butter Glider," he unceremoniously appears without the hood. The mystery is dispelled in an extremely undramatic manner.
Running Gag: Several, including 24's Nissan Stanza and 21 complaining about not being told about things, such as the fact that the wings on the henchmen's costumes are actually flight-capable. There are also other episode-specific ones, such as the lingering smell of the stinkbomb in season four's finale.
There's also the episode commentaries. Throughout the entire series Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick joked about how no-one would listen to the commentary before seeing the episode. (Sometimes the season.) This culminated in season three when, at the beginning of every commentary, Doc told the listener that 24 dies at the end of the season. (See You Should Know This Already) This was later paid off when they were given a signed photograph by the one person who had listened to the commentary before seeing the episode.
Sadist Show: Word Of God says that the show is about "failure." Just to illustrate how dedicated the producers are to this concept, one episode showed the home of former game show host Pete White. He lived in a trailer, the standard fictional home of losers. In the establishing shot, a billboard is shown in the foreground informing the viewer that that trailer is the only house of a planned subdivision. The character is a failure, his home's a failure, and the ground his home is standing on for miles around is a failure. However, the show also subverts this: Rusty and a lot of his generation seem either doomed to the results of their "Adventure" lifestyles or partially breaking away from them, such the Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend's marriage, 21 growing up, and even Rusty settling his issues. Their children however are moving on and showing signs that they'll break this cycle and either be successful or at least not be psychologically scarred.
Sad Times Montage: After Hank and Dean are killed, the first episode of Season 2 opens with a montage of characters looking depressed, Doc breaking down, fleeing the compound in the X-1, and Brock tracking him through various exotic locales as Doc "finds himself". Unusually for most montages of this type, the accompanying music is an upbeat techno track, which undergoes a Diegetic Switch as Brock finally catches Doc at a rave.
Scarecrow Solution: "Escape To The House of Mummies Part II". Dr. Venture, sitting on Brock's shoulders and dressed in a green blanket waves a flashlight at cultists to save Hank and Dean. It doesn't work.
Scary Black Man: Mandalay, Mr. Brisby's bodyguard, who dwarfs even Brock in size and is just as intimidating.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Mandaley does this just after Brock returns. He immediately breaks his usual silent personality, says he isn't paid enough and simply leaves.
During the season three finale Brock quits his job at the OSI as a secret agent and his job for Venture as a bodyguard because he can no longer stand all the weird, jacked-up crap he has to deal with on a daily basis.
21 does this at the end of Season 4, seemingly fed up with the Monarch and just leaves.
Searching The Stalls: Brock is looking for Phantom Limb inside a bathroom. He begins searching each stall, encountering a different villain in each one, before finding his target. It has to be said that at this point Brock is completely naked and covered in blood. His appearance quickly cures 24's constipation as he sits on the john
Secret Weapon: Subverted with the Monarch's Death's Head Regalia, a set of Powered Armor that isn't actually powered, and is in fact too heavy for the Monarch to move in. Doubly subverted when the Monarch actually activates it, and does manage to take out a large chunk of three armies with it (well, two armies, one of which was his own, and a bunch of naked clones), and then triply subverted when he loses control and falls over. The armor spun so badly the Monarch was dizzy to the point of vomitting uncontrollably.
Doc Venture: You don't know me. Why in my prime I saw some things that would make your head spin! Sgt. Hatred: Yeah, I've seen a guy's head spin, like right off his neck. Why? 'Cuz I punched him! Top That! Doc Venture: Okay, okay... My father made me kill a man- kill a man! -with a house key. I was ten. Sgt. Hatred: That's nothing. I ate a whole Labrador retriever once!
Brock: I've seen enough spinnin' butterfly... naked boy armies... screw this... I'd rather, uh, quit.
Sequel Hook: Each season finale had these. In fact, seasons one and especially three have had full on Cliff Hanger deaths. On killing Henchman 24, Doc Hammer stated that it was such a stupid decision that you have to see where they're going with it.
Hammer: I mean, who the hell kills one half of a comedy duo?
Serious Business: Most supervillians take themselves very seriously. Especially the Monarch:
Jollyrancher82: I just thought, you know, "The Monarch," I thought you were into cosplay? Monarch: Real name. And I am into costume business, not costume play.
Ship Sinking: "The Better Man" has one of more gentle examples. "Operation P.R.O.M" torpedos the Molotov/Brock pairing. She threw him over for Monstroso! It also drives another nail in the coffin of the Dean/Triana ship by introducing Triana's new boyfriend.
Ship Tease: It's common knowledge (to the fans and of course Henchman 24) that Henchman 21 has a thing for Mrs. the Monarch and it's generally seen as one-sided...until season four's episode "Assisted Suicide" where the two of them are seen bonding over an unconscious Monarch. 21 ups the ante by kissing Dr. Mrs. the Monarch... seconds before the Monarch wakes up from his mind-control arching. Thankfully, he didn't catch them but the damage is still done. The more interesting part is that Mrs. the Monarch does genuinely like 21 so maybe it's not as one-sided as we think.
Additionally, the status of Pete White and Billy Quizboy as Heterosexual Life Partners has been milked for a good number of jokes in the fandom, including Jackson Publick himself quipping that they "do it in [his] fanficion". Given allegorical versions of themselves have made out by request as of season four, it appears Mr. Publick is willing to put his money where his mouth is.
Fan: When are Pete and Billy going to get girlfriends? Doc: I thought you were going to ask the more obvious question. "When are they going to get...it on?" Jackson: Like they do in my fan stories. Doc: Like I read on the internet.
Then there's Shoreleave's sarcastic "Oh yeah, friend. Friend." in "The Silent Partners." Honestly, that entire episode, especially right after the offscreen kiss in "Assisted Suicide" was just begging for more people to ship those two.
Shooting Gallery: Subverted. Brock has to to prove his marksmanship skills at a shooting gallery as part of a test to get his OSI license renewed, but refuses to use the gun he is given, opting instead to jump over the barricade and tear apart the bad guy card board cut-outs with his knife (and using one innoncent bystandard cut-out as a club, which he props back up after destroying all the other targets).
Captain Sunshine's gimmick is walking this line. All Wonder Boy-related dialog in Handsom Ransom can be taken more than one way, but Word of God from Jackson Publick's blog says that he is not a pedophile.
Silence, You Fool!: The Council of Thirteen in the season three opener. Lampshaded when the first council member to shout it out has to explain himself to one of his confused comrades ("I was just trying to sound intimidating."), then subverted when another member attempts it and repeatedly screws up the timing ("Ok, you need to do that when SHE'S talking.").
Spirit Advisor: In season four, 24 appears to be this to 21, until the season finale. The Master is one to Dr. Orpheus, and Dr. Orpheus helps Brock get in touch with a spirit guide that takes the form of Col. Gathers in season two. Jonas Venture gives Rusty this piece of unheeded advice in an early episode:
Dr. Venture: You dont need diet pills, you just need to work a few things out.
Stairs Are Faster: The Monarch and Henchman 21 take the chute down to the Monarchmobile while Henchman 24 takes the more sensible stairs. He gets there first and closes the sunroof just as they would fall into the car.
Stalker with a Crush: Myra, Rusty's old bodyguard. In her defense, it's not exactly her fault she thought there was something between them after she is implied to have had his children. See Shrug of God.
Stealth Pun: In the season four finale, "Operation: P.R.O.M." Sgt Hatred has most of his HATRED tatoos removed, with the exception of the D, as it's in kind of a tender area, and replaces the H with a V for "Venture," meaning his tattos now read "VD," venereal disease.
The Alchemist:But being a magic super hero that keeps chasing the same guy? It's completely gay. That is coming from a guy that voluntarily has sex with men!
Apparently inverted with born-again Holy Diver and Sky Pilot, who are allegedly Gay Straight, but he revealed later that it was a cover-up and that he actually is still very, very gay. Hell, he's in the navy.
Strapped to an Operating Table: Happens to Dean in "A Very Venture Halloween". Subverted when he is just given a medical check-up and then released unharmed.
Suspiciously Similar Song: In "Perchance to Dean", Rusty introduces Dean to progressive rock. The music very clearly pastiches Yes' songs "Close to the Edge" and "Roundabout", even though the band's identity is only hinted at in dialogue. The sleeve of the record Rusty puts on looks more like an Asia album, while Yes' album Fragile can be clearly seen in the record crate (along with King Crimson's debut.)
Sweet on Polly Oliver: Baron Ünderbheit mistakenly attempts to marry Dean when he is dressed as Slave Leia.
Sympathy For The Hero: Monarch has a moment of it for Dr. Venture when he finds that Venture is already too broken for for Monarch's attempts to unleash sanity breaking mental trauma to work.
What can I do to this guy that life hasn't already?
Take a Third Option: Season four revealed that Eugene Sandow actually broke the Orb, instead of killing Colonel Venture. This could be justified as Sandow couldn't bring himself to kill Venture, but the potential threat the Orb poses was too great.
Take Our Word for It: Lt. Baldavitch's face. The alien (disguised as Jonas Venture Sr.) in "Twenty Years to Midnight" as well. Annoyed by Rusty's berating him for showing up as his dad, he reveals his true appearance to everyone's horror.
The Guild of Calamitous Intent forces this on their members. Weapon tiers are strictly enforced.
Ted Baxter: Rusty Venture. He believes himself to be a towering pillar of awesome who just so happens to shun the spotlight (going so far as stating that he has a standing policy of shunning the media and not doing interviews), but the rest of the world views him as a has-been, wanna-be, and uses his name for a ridiculously long series of bizarre sex-acts. Also the Venture Brothers (Hank in particular) themselves seem to be oblivious to how pathetic they really are.
Subverted with the Monarch, who, despite going around making up crap about butterflies being poisonous and crap, is treated as a legitimate villain by his peers even if they mock his butterfly motif.
If Dermott was half as awesome as he says he is, he'd be right up there with Brock. Instead, he gets his ass handed to him by Dean. Triana sees through his bullshit even before that.
Tempting Fate: Do not brag about your Plot Armor. Someone dies in the season three finale, and it sure as hell isn't a Venture brother. DOZENS of Venture Brothers die in that episode, just not the currently active Hank and Dean.
There Are No Therapists: After three seasons of seeing how messed up Dr. Venture is, he finally goes to a therapy session. The delay is even given an in-story justification, as it's revealed that Jonas Venture, the source of all of Rusty's trauma and mental issues, was his son's therapist and messed it up royally by sneaking out while his son talked and them went on a long-winding lecture condemning his son as an ungrateful whiner who should shut his mouth and never blame his father for his life, since the isolationism and forced trauma was considered by Jonas to be something "better" than the life of most normal kids. The episode has a second justification for this trope. The therapist is killed by a snake that the Monarch had 21 plant so Rusty doesn't have an excuse to get out of arching. The Monarch is damn determined to get at Rusty.
In a sense, this is avoided. Dr. Orpheus provides a unique brand of mental-spiritual healing from time to time. Also in seasons two and three, there is a minor character called Dr. Killinger who functions as a therapist, particularly in his episode with Rusty. Furthermore... Rusty's aversion to therapy and unwillingness to confront himself are direct contributors to the pill-popping habit he displays throughout the series. Rusty, and perhaps the similar super-scientists Dr. Impossible and Dr. Venture, have more faith in chemicals than they do in words and emotions.
Took a Level in Badass: 21. The mid-season finale pretty much has raised his status to one of the most competent characters on the show now, as goofy as he still acts. He even manages to go toe to toe with Brock *** ing Samson. He loses, but upon waking from being knocked out, Brock commends him for his ability. Hank also fits this when he tries to join SPHINX.
The Monarch starts out as an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. Starting with Season 3 he gets more competent, less goofy and more frightening. When he was being shuffled from arch-to-arch in season 3 he was downright lethal, and at one point even the Axe Crazy Pupa Twins were scared of him.
Too Much Information: Col. Gentleman and Sgt. Hatred's sex lives. Billy Quizboy's "guilty pleasures" list is considered too much information by Billy himself when he realizes he misunderstood the question.
Too Soon: "Handsome Ransom" involves a Captain Ersatz of Superman and Batman who takes a shine to Hank as his new Robin. It involves "sleepovers" and giving him lots of toys. For what it's worth, the season had started production beforeMichael Jackson died.
Subverted in the first episode; Brock takes about a dozen butterfly darts, and only goes down when hit with a truck. Of course, itisBrock.
The pirate captain has an addiction to tranquillizer darts in the episode "The Lepidopterists."
24's attempt to kill Hank in the episode "Tears of the Sea Cow" are averted because he didn't know his rifle only shot tranquillizer darts.
Transsexual: Brock's mentor Hunter S. Gathers, though at some point between the end of season three and the beginning of season four he got it reversed.
Some think Dr. Girlfriend, due to her deep, masculine voice. Brock continues to make jokes about Dr. Girlfriend to both the Monarch and Phantom Limb throughout seasons one and two, and her gender is questioned when she enters a public restroom. In the season three episode "Home Is Where the Hate Is", she's caught smoking for the first time by her husband, the Monarch, at a party. After he comes to realize the clues that she's been smoking (since 1989), well...
Sgt. Hatred: I guess I'll say it. Her three-pack-a-day voice?
Transvestite: In the years before his gender reassignment, Col. Gathers evidently used any excuse to use a feminine persona as a "disguise".
Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: 21 and 24 like to debate these. Their debut consisted of an argument about who would win in a fight between Anne Frank and Lizzie Borden. When this conversational well runs dry, they also engage in excessive Fan Wank. In all cases, 24 takes whichever position is most obviously wrong. invoked
The Unfavorite: As the series goes on, Dr. Venture shows more contempt - or at least snark and negligence - toward Hank, brought on by Hank's Too Dumb to LiveTed Baxter tendencies. This lead into an unexpected Crowning Moment of Heartwarming for Rusty when he held Hank back and told him "You only live once" after Hank unleashed the naked clone army to be ground up in the season three finale, thus ending their effective immortality.
The Unreveal: The reason why the Monarch hates Dr. Venture so much has yet to be revealed, leading to much speculation from both fans and characters. In one episode, the Monarch begins to reminisce about the first time he felt hatred for Venture, and the screen begins to get wavy as if we're going to a flashback... only it turns out things look wavy because his wings are on fire thanks to the laser security system at the Venture Compound, and he interrupts his own reminiscence to mention this.
In a much earlier episode, Dr Venture says he's going to get the boys a new mommy. When Dean points out they don't know anything about their mom, Rusty scratches his chin and ponders, "That's right, I never really told you boys about her..." but is interrupted by car honking and leaves on a date before going any further.
Unsettling Gender Reveal: Inverted in that Dr. Venture never learns Ginny is a woman because he's not remotely attracted to her.
Urban Legends: Kidney theft is a major plot point in "Dia De Los Dangerous" as well as the chupacabra. There are apparently tons of them.
Billy Quizboy was granted an automatic 4.0 GPA for a semester of college because his roommate committed suicide.
Used Future: Whenever a utopian project is started in the past, expect to see its ruined present equivalent to be contrasted immediately. Most of Jonas Venture Sr.'s projects fall under this.
Viewers Are Geniuses: There are so many obscure references, to just about any topic, in each and every episode that you kind of have to be one in order to fully appreciate the humor.
Villain Episode: "Shadowman 9: In The Cradle Of Destiny". While many other episodes have a majority of the episode dedicated toward the Monarch, this episode did not cut to the Venture family at all. Brock has a cameo only and didn't speak.
Doctor Orpheus: How fast are the spikes? Doctor Venture: Uh, slower than "haunted house" spiked walls but not quite as slow as "mad scientist" spiked walls.
Wasn't That Fun?: Appears in the season 2 finale; after fighting off dangerous Guild helicopters, having the X-1 crash into The Cocoon, and the whole lot of them winding up crashed in the Grand Canyon, Brock plucks Hank out of the water. The first thing Hank says?
“Well Done Son” Guy: Rusty toward Jonas Venture. This is implied with Hank - when Dr Killinger comes to take over the Venture compound, he hangs out with Hank, encouraging him with sports and other physical activity. Season four gives us D-19, a deformed clone of Dean who Rusty flushed away when he didn't come out right (though unknown to him he survived). Poor guy end up having delusions of a imaginary Rusty talking to him and trying to make a body suit out of the skin of the deceased Dean clones.
This happens a lot. A lot of subplots are resolved just by virtue of the episode ending: Doc getting stuck in a wall, Doc and Sgt. Hatred being busted by the police while Hank runs away, Phantom Limb's fate at the end of "The Revenge Society," and the entire B-plot of "Return to the House of Mummies Part 2" (of course, that was the point.) Usually helped out by Rule of Funny, as many of these resolutions are either boring or funnier in the audience's imagination.
What happened to the Frankenstein minion, and the German Plastic surgeon who was revealed as a Sphinx agent.
The Impossibles (save Dr. I) fall into this category and Blessed with Suck: Sally's skin is invisible (making her a walking anatomy model) and her power is to make it opaque, Ned's entire body is severely callused (though not invulnerable, so he's in constant pain), and Cody is instantly combustible with oxygen (he also is physically sensitive to his own power, though he seems to immediately heal when extinguished).
Also, lampshaded by The Order of the Triad, which includes a sorcerer and an alchemist with great magical powers... and Jefferson Twilight, whose power is to track and hunt Blackulas (and only Blackulas). He is also, however, an accomplished martial artist and military veteran, and lives between two worlds.
There's also the amateur supervillain Fat Chance, a morbidly obese guy who has the power to grab items from a link to another dimension in his belly button. What comes out is entirely random, which leads to other supervillains to just start pulling stuff out of him in an attempt to find something even remotely useful or deadly to kill Dr. Venture with. The power also works the other way
And Fat Chance was actually the best candidate of the Terrible Interviewees Montage from the Revenge Society's hiring process. One had the power of Polygamy and another the power to grow by barely an inch, Phantom Limb had to squint to even notice the difference.
Revived a dead Mook and started planning on Frankensteining more dead people in order to use them as cheap labor, only to change his mind via a phone call with the military and eschew the plan in favor of using the "Venturesteins" as what ammounts to zombie suicide bombers. Brock Samson was quite disturbed at this.
Eschewed protecting his children in favor of letting them die to be replaced with clones, much to Brock's disgust.
Allowed a young child to be killed on a tour of his compound and returned a genetically modfied clone to his parents in his place (although claiming that he was doing the boy a favor since his DNA made him "a ticking timebomb for cancer"). Again, much to Brock's disgust.
Dr. Killinger once attempted to make Rusty an official villain, only for him to back out at the last moment, horrified to know that he's potentially just that evil. Even Brock himself has some Even Evil Has Standards moments with Rusty and is hesitant and answering Doc's question of whether or not he's a bad guy (settling for a very dark morally gray area).
Trying to solve his money problems by stealing orangutans from the Amazon and teaching them to box. Brock (notice a pattern?) called this "a new personal low"—and not just because of the fact that orangutans don't live in the Amazon.
Using Sally's (Richard Impossible's then wife) love for him to get a crucial machine part for him. Once again Brock calls him out for this.
Inverted and subverted with "Go Team Venture"...where the Venture brothers' catch phrase is uttered, only by them, at the end of a caper and almost always ironically.
Double subverted when the original Team Venture does it.
They all do it with two fingers raised in a "V," but only the two Venture-brothers do it by touching their V'ed fingers together in a victory celebration after the adventure; meanwhile only the original Team Venture simply raises their fingers when they're about to join together in a battle.
William Telling: One set of Hank and Dean clones died trying to do this to each other simultaneously.
Will They or Won't They?: Dean and Triana. They won't. Probably. Brock and Molotov. Being that Molotov fell off a cliff in a vehicle that exploded, probably won't.
Wimp Fight: Any time that Hank or Dean gets into a fistfight.
Except that one time Dermott is being rude to Triana, and Dean kicks his ass. Brock beams with pride when he does.
Worf Had The Flu: In the third episode of season four, Dermott shows up to hang out with Hank. When Hank brings up the time Dean beat the shit out of him, Dermott claims he was "cheap-shotted when I wasn't ready" and "had a massive stomach flu". Obviously, he's lying.
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: What Brock was told never to do as an OSI officer, which led him to refuse to kill his former superior in "Assassinanny 911" when he underwent a sex change to be a woman. This rule and the above example pretty much cause the events of the third season finale. Brock will hit Molotov Cocktease, but she's as tough as he is and likes it.
Batman Gambit / Xanatos Roulette: "The Lepidopterists": The Monarch, by arching Jonas Jr. and riling him into serious retaliation, trick everyone into thinking J.J. nearly destroyed him. Long story short, he and his men were fine and the Monarch was granted the right by Guild law to get revenge upon J.J. by attacking his family, finally making it possible for him to once more assault Thaddeus Venture without incurring the wrath of the Guild.
Hunter Gathers' scheme to get Brock Samson to quit the Venture family and return to Gatherer's side borders is a bigger example of this: Hunter quit OSI and had a sex change operation in order to join an all-girl assassination group run by Brock's arch enemy. While doing so, he arranges for assassins to go after Brock, in order to eliminate them so as to remove the competition for his new allies and their newly formed assassination squad. The plan works and turns Brock against OSI as far as tricking him into thinking OSI was behind the hit. Brock resigns even after OSI disavow being behind the hit attempts, leaving the Venture family as he resigns as their bodyguard. However, he arranges for his fellow cohorts at OSI to help him reform SPHINX, a former terror group turned militia designed to neutralize non-Guild aligned super-villains and ultimately abandons Molotov when Brock goes after her. Leading to Brock to be in an isolated and weakened state, ripe for recruiting.
Although his own personal motives have yet to be made clear, Dr. Henry Killinger's schemes tend to ultimately benefit those who are caught up in them.
Hank: Is it me, or does like every Nazi want to clone Hitler? It's like the only thing they think of!
You Got Murder: Lampshaded. One afternoon, Rusty is going through some old mail when he opens a large box containing a death threat from the Monarch, involving a cobra jumping out of the box to bite him... except not really.
Jefferson Twilight: [To Dr. Orpheus, regarding why Orpheus doesn't want him and the Alchemist to see his master. Note that Jefferson is black.] Yeah, tell the truth. You're embarrassed of us, aren't you? It's 'cause The Alchemist's gay, isn't it? Doctor Orpheus: No, it's because you soiled yourself... and he's gay.
You're Insane!: Inverted when Phantom Limb is talking to a member of "The Revenge Society", who are all inanimate objects, in front of Guild Councilman Red Mantle (who has Councilman Dragoon's head sewn onto his shoulder) and Billy (who has been stuffed inside a potato sack):
Billy: Why can't I hear them? Red Mantle: Because you are sane!
You Should Know This Already: Invoked in the DVD commentary for season three, where Doc Hammer gives away one of the season's biggest developments in the commentary for every episode.
"24 dies this season. (...) I just want to do that every time, because nobody should be watching this unless they've seen the season."
You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Brock says this to Hank and Dean when they're Brainwashed and Crazy. In this case, though, Brock says it as a threat; it's not that they're afraid to kill him, they're afraid of what he'll do to them if they try.
Zeerust: The entire Venture Compound, as well as the other Venture bases and various other elements of the show.