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Shout Out / The Venture Bros.

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  • Rusty Venture is what would happen if Jonny Quest grew up to be a washed up child actor living in the shadow of his father, who is Doc Savage, James Bond, and Indiana Jones rolled into one abusive parent, and had The Hardy Boys as sons.
    • Rusty's first name, Thaddeus, and appearance, are a shout-out to Captain Marvel's arch-nemesis, Doctor Sivana. Or it's just a incredibly lame and cruel joke on his father's part. Thaddeus Venture. Thad Venture. Get it?
  • Hank's outfit is clearly based on that of Fred from Scooby-Doo, a fact that other characters have remarked on, and Dean's clothes and haircut are reminiscent of Peter Parker's from his debut. Dean's pajamas are... Spider-Man themed. Hank's are Aquaman, and as a somewhat beefy blond he actually looks a little like the King of the Seas. To drive it further home, the apartment Dean lives in during his summer internship at Impossible Industries is almost exactly the same as Peter's from the movies.
    • It reaches it's complete logical conclusion when he ends up becoming a close friend to the Brown Widow. Whom is the Venture Universes' resident Spiderman Expy.
  • Star Wars is a particularly popular subject. Usually patently obvious. This escalated to the point that, upon seeing the sheer volume of them while recording commentary on every episode of Season 2, Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick dared each other to avoid direct Star Wars references for all of Season 3, with the loser having to revert to their eighth-grade haircut.
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  • Dr. Jonas, Jr. and "Venture Team" combined to form Ventron. "And I'll form the head!"
  • This show does lots and shout outs to various bands and musicians. Led Zeppelin, The Stooges, The Buggles, Duran Duran (not named but directly referenced), Björk, Adam and the Ants, Depeche Mode, The Residents, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Jesus Jones have all been explicitly name checked. David Bowie was alluded to at least three times in various fashions before his appearance at the end of season two with Klaus Nomi and Iggy Pop.
    • In "What Goes Down Must Come Up," the first of the Rusty's that Dr. Venture comes across has the same hairdo and outfit as the singer in The Prodigy's video for Firestarter, which includes running at random in underground tunnels.
  • At one point, Henchman #21 tries to get Henchman #24 to team up with him as "Jet Boy and Jet Girl," just to make a reference to a French indie band despite neither of them qualifying as "Jet Girl."
  • In the episode "Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean", Billy's roommate Pete is seen playing a game that looks like Grand Theft Auto III, and even mentions doing a mission for the Yardies.
  • Dr. Orpheus' observation in "Self-Assisted Suicide" that "the doors of perception have opened all at once" could be counted as a double Shout-Out: Once to the book of the same title, and once to The Doors, who named themselves after said book.
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  • The occasional ray-gun sound effect is a dead ringer for the ones in He-Man.
  • Jean-Claude LeTueur's supervillain costume and history as a big game hunter/comic book nerd all harken back to Spider-Man foe Kraven the Hunter; Kraven's costume has a lion head chestpiece and leopard skin pants, LeTueur's has an elephant head and zebra skin.
  • Russel Sturgeon is explicitly based on Quint from Jaws in voice and appearance, his costume resembles that of Aquaman, and his entire MO as a fishing themed aquatic villain is a take on Aquaman villain the Fisherman.
  • While showing off the Order of the Triad merchandise, Doctor Orpheus claims that the Jefferson Twilight figure is actually just a repainted Mego doll of The Falcon. Meanwhile, the Alchemist figure is stated to be a kitbashed Spock doll.
  • In general, the three assassins sent after Brock are all shout outs to the different kind of villains of Comic Book Ages. Go-Fish is a shout out the Golden Age, Le Tueur to the Silver Age, and Herr Trigger to the Bronze to 90's Darker and Edgier style of villains.
    • Le Tueur's name is a reference to a comic by the same name by French writer Matz, about an unnamed assassin.
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    • And Molotov's list of targets are actually the writers and artists of the original Marvel Comic given to Dr. Venture by Henchman #21 earlier in the episode.
  • The Monarch is evidently a big fan of the "Can You Read My Mind?" sequence from Superman: The Movie, seeing how he directly homages it in "Hate Floats" and again in "The Diving Bell Vs. The Butter-Glider".
  • The fourth season premiere contains a lengthy shoutout to the climax of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Complete with "Don't look, no matter what happens," and Nazi face-melting.
  • The Dean suit that D-19 is making is reminiscent of The Silence of the Lambs.
  • The Scooby-Doo parody in season two are all references to famous crazy people: Ted Bundy, David Berkowitz, Patty Hearst, and Valerie Solanas.
  • A (fake) flashback in the first season shows Hank and Dean dressed like Indiana Jones and Thomas Magnum respectively. This is also how Chip and Dale dressed in Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, making this a rare double Shout-Out.
  • When Colonel Hunter Gathers arrives at OSI during Operation P.R.O.M.:
    Doe: That's none of your concern Mr. Gathers.
    Gathers: That's Colonel Gathers to you.
    Cardholder: Oh yeah? Well in that case, I'm President Cardholder, and this is my associate, Emperor Doe.
    Doe: God-Emperor Doe.
  • 21 says that he's personally seen Hank die multiple times, and tells him that he's an Immortal, and to prepare for the Quickening.
  • Hunter Gathers herself is an Expy of Hunter S. Thompson, complete with a reference to being shot out of a cannon as a funeral rite.
  • Minor villain White Noise is a somewhat convoluted Shout-Out to Glowworm from Astro City. Their mutation is vaguely similar, but while Glowworm was a black man before his accident (and is angered when he was portrayed as white supremacist in an in-universe comic), White Noise is simply a white supremacist. Definitely could be chalked up to coincidence, but not likely given the sheer number of comic shoutouts in the show.
    • SPHINX, while more directly based on Cobra from G.I. Joe and by proxy Hydra from Marvel Comics, seems a little too similar to Astro City's own Nebulous Evil Organization, PYRAMID. The Ancient Egypt motif, as well as the color schemes and general appearance of the uniforms, speak for themselves.
  • Captain Sunshine is not only a shout-out to Superman and Batman, but also Birdman, particularly in the way Birdman's powers are restored following his re-exposure to the Sun in some convoluted manner.
    • Captain Sunshine and the rest of the Action News Team/Super Gang are based on the Freedom Fighters, a relatively obscure team of DC Comics heroes — Captain Sunshine himself is the Ray, US Steel is Uncle Sam, Brown Thrasher is the Black Condor, Ghost Robot is the Human Bomb, and Barbie Q is Firebrand.
  • There are several references to 1990s era Nickelodeon shows, from Hank demanding of Dean's disembodied head "Yeah, Clarissa, explain it all" to 24, mad over 21 finally getting rid of his skull, asking 21 if if he's really just going to bury it and "declare this meeting of the Midnight Society over."
  • When Dr. Killinger cuts Dr. Venture so he can sign a contract in blood, Doc references the 1970s KISS comic book, which allegedly had the blood of the band's members mixed in the ink.
  • The members of Doc's therapy group are made up of other boy adventurers. Such as "Action Johnny" (Jonny Quest), Lance and Dale Hale (The Hardy Boys), Roboy (Astro Boy), and Wonder Boy (Robin, the Boy Wonder).
  • Dr. Quymn's daughters are named Nancy and Drew.
  • Brock accidentally killing his college football teammate and having to deal with the guilt for the rest of his life is a direct Shout-Out to the novel proto-superheroic 1930 book Gladiator, the inspiration for his own inspiration, Doc Savage
  • Fat Chance is a parody of a somewhat obscure Flash villain called Chunk.
  • Phantom Limb's original outfit (Minus the invisible arms and legs) is designed after that of The Phantom.
  • Phantom Limb's grandfather was Fantômas. Not a Captain Ersatz, the actual Fantômas. We guess that happens with characters in the Public Domain.
  • When out of costume, 21 wears a Porkchop Sandwiches t-shirt.
  • Brick Frog (a villain trying out for The Revenge Society in Bright Lights, Dean City) is in name a reference to the indentation in a standard brick and a villain from the live-action Tick show and in appearance a reference to the relatively obscure Marvel hero Frog-Man.
  • Ladyhawk Johnson and Lyndon Bee, a woman who turns into a hawk at night, and a man who is a bee by day, is a reference to the movie Ladyhawke and the former president and first lady Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson. "I shall not seek, or accept, your escape." Ladyhawk also has large angel wings sprouting from her back and a harness like the X-Men character Angel.
  • In episode 3 of season 2, Brock begins to slap a plastic surgeon that performed a sex change on Col. Gathers, telling him that "he was like a father to me!" The surgeons sobbed responses in between the slaps that "he's your mother! Your father! Your mother! Your father! Your mother and your father!" is taken almost verbatim from Chinatown.
  • At the start of S5,E5 Headshot refers to Molotov as "Hit-Girl". It's reinforced later in the episode when you learn that she was trained as an assassin by her father.
    • Fridge Brilliance when you realize she basically is Hit-Girl and Mother Russia rolled into one!
  • In the Season 4 episode Every Which Way But Zeus, a lot of characters get together to take down the episodes Big Bad. All of them are given codenames. Two characters in one body are given the names Kenan & Kel.
  • In the Season 5 episode Bot Seeks Bot, Dragoon's choice of torture reflects the nightclub scene from Requem For a Dream
    • "Ass to Ass!"
  • In "Bright Lights, Dean City", Rusty is trying to pitch a Broadway musical based on his life. While hammering out the score in Dean's apartment, he's joined by the Ventureverse's Spider-Man expy, who sings along. When Rusty asks him about his skill as a singer, not-Spidey mentions that he was once in a production of "The Sound of Music". The actor who played Spider-Man in the 1970's live action television series, Nicholas Hammond, was previously famous for playing one of the Von Trapp children in the original Sound of Music film.
  • When Hank and Dean run away from home on their hover bikes in the last episode of season one, great parts of this sub plot reflect Easy Rider, with one of the most obvious being Hank and Dean's helmets.
  • The episode titled "What Color is Your Cleansuit?"
  • Totally Spies! is directly referenced when Gary actually the Sovereign shows up to save Dr. Mrs. The Monarch and says he finds her acting all "Sam, Alex, and Clover."
  • Radical Left is Two-Face.
  • General Treister is one big shoutout to The Avengers and Thunderbolt Ross. He is in charge of the OSI and has an eyepatch like Nick Fury and has a mechanical heart like Iron Man, and wears an american flag as a tunic like Captain America did in Earth X. He is also like General Ross in age, rank and signature facial hair, and later turns into Treister Hulk from space radiation.
  • There is a bug-themed member of the Council of 13 that resembles a Kamen Rider, right down to the buckle of his belt looking like the Transformation Trinket.
  • In Season 6, Episode 3, Hank pulls a "nonchalantly hop backwards off a ledge" stunt that looks suspiciously like a certain move pulled by Lupin in The Castle Of Cagliostro.
    • Also Marty in Back To The Future Part II
  • Superhero references everywhere in Season 6: in the very first episode of the season, we're introduced to the Crusaders Action League (itself a reference to Archie Comics' Mighty Crusaders) comprised of Stars and Garters (an amalgamation of Captain America and Archie Comics' The Shield with a civilian persona based on Flash Thompson), Warriana (Wonder Woman with a costume like Thor's), Fallen Archer (a pretty even combination of Hawkeye and Green Arrow), and Night Dick (Ghost Rider plus The Spirit, possibly with shades of Batman). In following episodes, we learn that there used to be a hero called the Blue Morpho with a Chinese martial artist sidekick, one of the supervillains set to arch Rusty is Think Tank, an allusion to M.O.D.O.K., and the Spider-Man expy shows up again.
    • Wandering Spider, another of the one-off supervillains appearing in this season, is basically Latino Doctor Octopus.
    • The Doom Factory, a supervillain team which also menaces Doc for a single episode, is a double reference: most obviously, they're a clear parody of the Legion of Doom from Superfriends, with most of the villains being obvious expys of the various Legion of Doom members—their leader Wes Warhammer is Lex Luthor, for example. A bit more subtly, though, they're all allusions to figures from the pop art and visual art movements, with Warhammer himself being based on Andy Warhol. Another reference is the threat they send to the Venture family at the start of the episode, which is essentially just a still shot of the VenTech tower for an annoyingly long time; this is based on Warhol's 1964 film Empire, which was literally just eight hours of the Empire State Building standing around and looking pretty in complete silence.
  • In the episode It Happening One Night, Dr Venture and Sergeant Hatred are shown playing a round of Team Fortress 2. Interestingly, Valve once had a cross-promotion with Adult Swim that involved [adult swim] inspired items being introduced to Team Fortress 2, some of which were based on this very series.
  • Dermott's room in the special From the Ladle to the Grave has a few posters that are blurred out, with the exception of Dethklok.
  • When 21 gets the other henchmen to kill Tim-Tom and Kevin in Devil's Grip as those responsible for 24's death, the others start chanting, "Hench has killed hench! Hench has killed hench!", lifting the line almost directly from Battle for the Planet of the Apes, Trope Namer (and subversion) for Ape Shall Not Kill Ape.
  • In Red Means Stop, Red Death channels Liam Neeson from Taken almost verbatim, saying his now-famous Papa Wolf line to Monarch and #21 over the phone. In his typical fashion, #21 of course lampshades this.
    • In the same episode, the setup that #21 put other supervillains in instead of killing them is reminiscent of the Saw franchise, namely that they're in a run-down bathroom and chained to the wall.
  • The Grand Galactic Inquisitor (IGNORE ME!) is a shoutout to both The Watcher (who tends to be rather obtrusive about his observing) and the Living Tribunal (who has three faces and likes to make grand pronouncements) from Marvel Comics.
  • Torrid, archnemesis of the Order of the Triad, looks exactly like Deadman from DC Comics without the D on his chest. Not only that, due to being Dr. Orpheus' Arch Enemy (Whom is an obvious pastiche of Doctor Strange) and having a burning head. He also evokes Dormammu.
  • Supervillain Phineas Phage is not just a pun on bacteriophage but a reference to the case of Phineas Gage.
  • In the episode The Venture Bros. and the Curse of the Haunted Problem, the scene where Hank leaves the pizzeria he was employed at after being fired and subsequently confronted by the owner (who gives him a pizza shaped like a heart) is straight out of The Godfather Part II.
  • The ninja attempting to kill Rusty Venture in the pilot episode uses the same method (dripping poison down a string into the mouth of his sleeping target) as a ninja attempting to kill James Bond in You Only Live Twice.
  • Doc Hammer's long-time musician colleague and YouTuber Aurelio Voltaire has stated that he thinks The Monarch is based on him, although Hammer says he isn't.