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Western Animation / The Venture Bros.
aka: The Venture Brothers

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"Go Team Venture!"

The Venture Bros. (2003–2018/2023) is an animated [adult swim] series created by Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer. The show focuses upon the lives and adventures of the Venture brothers, snarky Hank and brainy Dean, as well as their father, scientist/adventurer "Dr." Thaddeus "Rusty" Venture, who has grown bitter and neglectful towards his 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: Brock Samson, an ex-black ops agent renowned as a One-Man Army (seasons 1-3, 6-7), who was replaced (seasons 4-5) by Sergeant Hatred, a former super-villain/recovering pedophile.

The Venture family travels the world, getting into all sorts of bizarre adventures and spoofing the ever-loving 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 (though still humorous) turn into deconstructing the entire "youth adventure" genre. The focus of the series shifts from the brothers and onto Rusty, and as the theme of "failure" becomes the central element of the series, the episodes begin to show what happens to boy adventurers as they grow up and discover that their 1960s childhoods' promises of peace, love, and super-science have failed to materialize.

There is also The Monarch, Dr. Venture's longtime nemesis, who develops from a lame joke villain based around butterflies to a badass 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 becoming the show's Deuteragonist. The story becomes as much about the Monarch's struggle to balance his personal life with his desire to "arch" Dr. Venture as about Team Venture itself.

Through the Monarch, the show skewers and deconstructs Supervillain tropes by presenting a world where "arching" is seen as a profession rather than a passion, which is strictly moderated by the Guild of Calamitous Intent, a supervillain organization that assigns ranks depending on one's power level and social status, and subsequently determines who the villain can "arch" according to the Guild's rules. However, the Monarch constantly rebels against the system, and due to several setbacks over the course of the series, sees his rank dropped below Dr. Venture's status. Despite this, the Monarch is determined not to let this stop him from arching his sworn nemesis, regardless of what the Guild has to say about it...

A Long Runner in the Adult Swim line-up with a very devoted fanbase, it's notable for, out of all of their original shows, coming the closest to making any actual sense with strong continuity and evolving plots. As the seasons go by, episodes focus more on the characters' bizarre and intersecting backgrounds, while surprisingly deep Character Development adds delicious layers to the humor.

J.G. Thirlwell (aka Foetus) does the soundtrack.

On September 7th, 2020, Adult Swim cancelled the show after seven seasons, despite initially renewing it for an eighth season. In 2021, the network announced that the show's creative team was developing a movie set after the events of the seventh season to serve as the series finale. That movie, Radiant is the Blood of the Baboon Heart, was released in 2023. The trailer can be watched here.

Character specific tropes can be found on the series' character pages while episode specific tropes should go on the appropriate recap page.

The Venture Brothers provides examples of:

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    Tropes With Their Own Series Pages 

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick have commented on how pleasantly surprised they are to get CG animation from Korea on any objects that have complex movements. Some examples are The Monarch's jet car, Sergeant Hatred's tank when it first appears on the Venture compound, and the Sphinx aircraft in the season four finale.
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Dr. Venture toward Dr. Girlfriend throughout the series. She seduced him as "Charlene" in the season one episode Midlife Chrysalis under the Monarch's orders, and once Dr. Venture recognizes her in the season two finale, he proceeds to hit on her almost every time they're alone together from then on, which she responds to with snarky annoyance. Finally, in the movie, she flat out admits that she's disgusted by him, despite her husband the Monarch being a clone of his.
  • Aborted Arc: Early in season six, it seems that the villain Copycat is trying to steal Dr. Mrs. the Monarch from her husband, including outright smearing him by stealing his costume and impersonating him while breaking Guild rules in "Faking Miracles". This is dropped after that episode and Copycat doesn't return until season seven.
  • Abusive Parents: A running theme in the series is that only horrible parents would drag their kids into dangerous adventures week after week, turning them into selfish, jaded adults with various psychological issues. Jonas Sr., Rusty, Richard Impossible, Action Johnny's father, and the Quymn family are some of the many examples. Rusty is even so callous as to replace his sons when they inevitably die with near-identical clones he has kept since they were born with memories extracted and implanted from their learning beds. He is also shown to have inherited this trait from his father, who was somehow even worse, with flashbacks showing that he routinely tormented 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. Dr. Impossible doesn't even refer to his child by name, instead literally calling him "THE CHILD".
  • The Ace: Quite a few characters are shown to be the absolutely best at what they do and are even famous in-universe for it. However, the series being a mass Genre Deconstruction for everything from action adventurers to superheroes/villains to spies/secret agents, almost all of them play with it in one way or another. Brock, for example, is perhaps the single most renowned badass on the planet but has suffered his fair share of mental and physical abuse over the years that it causes him to have a breakdown, deconstructing it. (He later reconstructs it when it has an epiphany that he's just that good at it and that it allows him to protect the people he cares about.) Dr. Killinger isn't just "an ace", but exaggerates "the ace" so much that it leads to huge comedic impact.
  • Action Hero: The world is full of them, but they are frequently deconstructed. A lifetime of "action" leaves them broken down old men with bodies full of bullets, metal plates, prosthetics, PTSD, and other nasty side effects but little else to show for it. It serves as the catalyst for Brock's break down causing him to quit at the end of season three, lampshading it with the below quote, before he reconstructs it when he later returns after realizing that this is what he was put on the Earth to do. (He still doesn't want Hank to follow in his shoes, however.)
    Brock: I've seen enough spinnin' butterfly... naked boy armies... screw this... I'd rather, uh, quit.
    Brock: Look, you don't want my life, Hank. This job's not all it's cracked up to be. I've been at this for over twenty years and what do I have to show for it? A metal plate in my chest, Vatican karate gorilla blood on my hands and a footlocker full of Manboro miles?
  • Adventurer Outfit: Rusty dons the "safari" variant in seemingly each episode set in a jungle.
  • Affably Evil: The majority of the villains seen in the series, to the point where the Monarch and his genuine hatred of Dr. Venture can be seen as an outlier, all in-line with their Punch-Clock Villain status. Particularly for the higher ranking Guild members, they're most often downright cordial to both the heroes and each other, often hanging out while "off-duty" and there are several episodes showing Villains Out Shopping.
  • All Amazons Want Hercules: Several of the series' most prolific Action Girls have shown interest in strong man of action Brock Samson, including Molotov Cocktease, Dr. Quymn's bodyguard Ginnie, O.S.I agent Amber Gold, and Warriana. Quite literal in Warriana's case, since she's an actual Amazon (as a Captain Ersatz of Wonder Woman) and her Affectionate Nickname for Brock is Heracles. Dr. Girlfriend has also shown some lust for Brock and is clearly annoyed that he didn't take advantage of her when he had the chance.
  • The Alleged Car: Henchman #24's powder blue Nissan Stanza gets this treatment. It's not much to look at, but it runs okay in the few episodes we see it.
  • All There in the Stinger: Nearly every episode has a stinger (with the first parts of two-parters being the main exceptions) and the series is not shy about tying off plot points or dropping major revelations in them. They even include some fake Un-Installments.
  • Always Identical Twins: Averted with the Venture family, as both Hank and Dean, and Rusty and JJ are fraternal twins.
  • Always Someone Better: Keeping with the show's central theme of "failure," most of the main characters have someone "better" at what they do out there.
    • Jonas Jr. is this to Rusty. Despite being a malformed twin Rusty absorbed in the womb and carried inside of himself for 43 years, JJ proves to be a far more competent scientist and far more popular with the ladies within weeks of breaking out of his brother's body, then succeeds in living up to their father's legacy as the head of a billion dollar tech company.
    • Phantom Limb was this compared to the Monarch early in the series. The Monarch was a lame joke villain who drove Dr. Girlfriend (the only source of competence he had) back to her ex-boyfriend, Phantom Limb. Limb was a far more competent villain, having risen to the highest ranks of the Guild and given command over the best Guild operatives, as well as being far more refined and deadly in battle with his Touch of Death. Later, this becomes inverted, when that same refinement and professionalism drive Dr. Girlfriend back to the Monarch, as Monarch proves he is far more passionate about his career and Dr. Girlfriend herself.
    • Dr. Orpheus has one in the Outrider, the man his wife left him for. Orpheus has trained his entire life just to "perceive that there is a second world," while the Outrider can travel through it. (This too, eventually inverses itself in a way, when it is shown that the Outrider cheated to obtain his powers while Orpheus' master admits that Orpheus is truly his best student.)
    • After Dean's internship in season four, we learn that Rusty isn't even the most successful version of himself in existence:
      Alternate Universe Rusty: Look, you’re the Dean of this dimension, right? Explain to ‘The Untalented Mr. Ripley' here he can’t just waltz into my dimension and try to kill me with a rock and replace me! Just because I happen to have more hair, more money, and a hit play on Broadway!
    • Played with Sergeant Hatred and Brock when it comes to the job of protecting the Ventures. Brock is The Ace and one of the world's most dangerous people, but he's not actually that great at running security: he dislikes guns, doesn't care about prevention, is easily distracted by women, combat, and OSI business, and generally has a laissez-faire attitude towards the boys' safety, since for most of his tenure Rusty just replaced them with clones when they died. On the other hand, there's Hatred, the overweight has-been who proves to be the Boring, but Practical alternative: he prefers the lethal and immediate force of firearms over flashy Mook Horror Show slaughters, runs on the clock security measures, and trains the boys so they can actively protect themselves; in the end, he's actually a bigger deterrent to the Monarch than Brock ever was, being responsible for more henchmen deaths in a shorter time period, and never lets either of the boys die. He then still gets replaced as the Venture family bodyguard once Rusty moves up in the world both because Brock outranks him and Venture is up against a higher caliber of villains (though still pulls his weight as the Ventech building security guard/tour guide).
  • Amazon Brigade: Molotov's Blackhearts are a team of all-female assassins. They engineer the events of the season three finale so that Brock eliminates their competition, but are themselves wiped out at the end of season four by Brock and Rusty's "Spanish Fly" concotion.
  • Ambiguous Gender:
    • Doctor Girlfriend, whose chain-smoker voice causes many throughout the series to believe she had a sex change (or was planning one). She, Monarch, and Phantom Limb all vehemently confirm that she's a woman each time it's asked.
    • Hunter Gathers. He supposedly got GRS to go undercover (and avoid being assassinated for being a rogue agent), but after de-transitioning, admits that he misses his breasts. He was also frequently Disguised in Drag on missions in flashbacks before the operation as well, lending further ambiguity.
  • Amoral Attorney: Monstroso is a 7'4" Genius Bruiser with an Ivy League law education drawing significant inspiration from The Kingpin. His day job is as a "mundane" lawyer while, as the top lawyer for the Guild, his specialty is the double cross, which is encouraged by the Guild, even against fellow Guild members as the Monarch finds out the hard way. He later betrays the Guild and spills secrets to the O.S.I. before getting offed by the Investors.
    Dr. Mrs. The Monarch: "He's a supervillain and a lawyer! That's like a shark with a grenade launcher on its head!"
  • Anachronic Order:
    • Seasons one and two had 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 Triana's friend Kim was shown hanging around before she was to be officially introduced. The latter 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. Physical copies and streaming servies typically correct these episode orders to the ones the creators intended.
    • The entirety of The Very Venture Halloween Special takes place during the first commercial break of What Color Is Your Cleansuit?, the first episode of season five. This is a bit problematic, as before the break, Dean just becomes a goth, which he was throughout the entirety of the Halloween special, but immediately afterwards, he knows that he and Hank are clones.
  • And Starring: Major guest stars typically get this treatment, including Kevin Conroy (Captain Sunshine) and Nathan Fillion (Brown Widow).
  • 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 accidentally saved from a cobra in a package via having left said package on his desk for several years.
    • The Guild of Calamitous Intent has an entire division dedicated to training these for the villains under their purview.
  • Animation Bump:
    • On top of the to-be-expected Art Evolution, the pilot was, instead of having higher quality animation, animated in Adobe Flash.
    • After season one, the series gets a noticable bump in animation quality including smoother movements, sharper details, and even some 3D effects.
  • Anticlimax: To be expected with the show's running theme of "failure". Major plots are often resolved in (comedically) underwhelming (and often surprisingly realistic) ways. A great example is the ORB, a major plot item from the final episodes of season three that has been passed down over the centuries through various geniuses like Archimedes and Newton. Brock's O.S.I. orders are to kill Rusty if he tries to activate it with it strongly implied that past bodyguards Kano and Sandow killed their Venture family clients to protect it. As revealed a few episodes later, Sandow actually broke the ORB a century in the past, rendering it completely useless.
  • Antiquated Linguistics: Dr. Orpheus can fall into this one during his dramatic speeches. Combine it with his Large Ham tendencies and swelling music Leitmotif, and anything he says sounds more dramatic. Lampshaded by Dr. Venture in "The Trial of the Monarch", who comments on this tendency with a near-Mystery Science Theater 3000 level of snark as Orpheus testifies in court.
  • Anyone Can Die:
    • At the end of season one, the series hadn't been picked up for another season, so both of the eponymous brothers get killed, only to turn out in the next season's premiere (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 death of Henchman #24 in the season three finale 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.
    • The pre-season six special All This and Gargantua 2 ups the ante by killing off over a dozen secondary and tertiary characters, but with the most significant character death being Jonas Venture Jr..
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: All over the place, which is odd (and intentionally played for comedic effect) considering that the Venture-verse includes all manner of "SUPER SCIENCE!", legitimately superpowered heroes and villains, and real magic. Rusty, for example, has dealt with everything from aliens to ghosts to alternate universe versions of himself but dismisses Chupacabras outright (they're real). Similarly, Hunter Gathers, one of the most informed individuals on the planet, dismisses vampires despite the fact that they exist (and Jefferson Twilight hunts them for a living).
  • Arc Words: The Venture Brothers. Initially in the series (and outwardly throughout), it refers to Hank and Dean. When the focus of the show shifts more toward Rusty, it also refers to he and Jonas Jr., to whom he has an Always Someone Better complex. The season two premiere, after Hank and Dean are killed in the season one finale, replaces them with Rusty and JJ as an opening Credits Gag to lampshade this idea. Come the season seven finale and Finale Movie, it can also be seen as referring to Rusty and the Monarch, who are first implied to be half-brothers and then revealed to be clones. Given the latter's increase in prominence throughout the series, a serious argument can be made that they are the most important set of "Venture Brothers" to the plot.
  • Arch-Enemy: In the series, there's an official, sanctioned version of this from the Guild of Calamitous Intent, which involves a full system of rules and laws for "arching", as it's called, that both the "antagonists" in the Guild and their sanctioned "protagonists" that they arch must follow. Some significant examples include:
    • The Monarch is Dr. Venture's de facto primary arch-enemy throughout the series. In some seasons, he is also Venture's legal Guild-sanctioned arch, but in others, this is taken from him by other villains, much to his frustration, which leads to him actively trying to take out the competition so he can legally arch Venture again. Also worth noting that the feeling is not fully mutual, as the Monarch is much more passionate and Rusty much more apathetic about their rivalry.
    • In the earliest episodes, Baron Ünderbheit was considered to be Rusty's arch-enemy (though not Guild-sanctioned), much to the Monarch's annoyance. The original plan was for the Monarch to be Dr. Venture's more comical Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain nemesis, while Ünderbheit would be the serious, genuinely menacing nemesis. However, this was faded out as Ünderbheit's presence in the series was greatly diminished after the second season and Monarch fully grew into the role of Rusty's (albeit still fairly comical) main enemy.
    • Other Guild-sanctioned arches for Dr. Venture have included Sergeant Hatred in season three and Wide Wale in seasons six and seven. Both of them actually requested to arch Venture specifically to get back at the Monarch; in Hatred's case, he went out of his way to treat the Ventures kindly and ended up becoming their bodyguard starting in season four, and in Wide Wale's, he subcontracted his arching of Rusty out to other villains.
    • The Order of the Triad, especially Dr. Orpheus, actually wanted their own Guild-sanctioned arch-enemy, to the point of hosting tryouts for the position in one episode. Torrid emerged as the winner by kidnapping Orpheus's daughter Triana, and the Triad are shown battling him a few times in future episodes.
    • Billy Quizboy, and by extension Pete White, have Augustus St. Cloud, who only joined the Guild in the first place for the sole purpose of being able to arch Billy.
    • Action Johnny (the grown-up Jonny Quest) has Dr. Z, a Captain Ersatz of Jonny Quest's arch-enemy Dr. Zin. Dr. Z also arched Jonas Venture Sr. in the past, judging by his relationship with Rusty.
  • Art Evolution:
    • The faces of the main cast became a lot more detailed by season two, while Dr. Orpheus' face settled after varying in his first couple of appearances. Backgrounds get more detailed by season three and, by season four, there is more detail all around with more vibrant colors. The series also evolved from somewhat Limited Animation that was filled with a lot of sliding animation into place, reusing the same animations over and over, and/or characters just sort of standing there blinking and talking, to much more impressive and expressive animation as later seasons go on, corresponding with budget increases. This goes even further with the Finale Movie, which further improves on the series (already impressive) art quality.
    • From the pilot into the series proper, the designs of many characters are changed. Brock's Top-Heavy Guy traits are downplayed while the Monarch and his henchmen all get sleeker uniforms. (The latter is actually addressed later in the series, where flashbacks show the original design.)
  • Ascended Extra: A number of characters started off as off-hand mentions with a few Noodle Incident details before appearing in the series proper. Monstroso is mentioned as far back as season one but later appears as an Arc Villain in season four with a few episodes revolving around him. Sgt. Hatred is mentioned in season two as another villain who the Monarch's henchmen steal parts and tech from, only for him to finally appear at the end of the season and then become Rusty's Guild sanctioned arch in season three, then the family bodyguard in seasons four and five.
  • Author Appeal: The creators, Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick, are not shy about including their favorite works and genres throughout the series. Pop culture (especially music) of The '60s, The '80s, the Victorian Era, and more are worked liberally into the series. Even when going full Genre Deconstruction, as they do with "boy adventurer" works, "pulp" heroes, and various Supervillain works, it is clear that they are intimately and lovingly familiar with the source genres. The season three episode "ORB" even has this called out in the DVD creator commentary, where Publick remarks that the script was "a list of stuff Doc likes". Most notably, allusions to late 19th/early 20th-century American writers and painters. (Doc Hammer is also a painter.)
  • Author Avatar:
    • In the DVD commentaries, creators 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. Henchmen #21 and #24 are the Ur-example; others include Guild officers Watch and Ward, the Moppets, and O.S.I. Agents Doe and Cardholder. Their Seinfeldian Conversations, Hypothetical Fight Debates, and commentary on the situation at hand are often taken from actual conversations between Jackson and Doc.
    • Despite their numerous other "pairs of characters based on themselves", Pete White (who looks like an albino version of Doc voiced by Jackson) and Billy Quizboy (who looks like a hydrocephalic version of Jackson voiced by Doc) are not an example despite the similarities. In the series' official art book, the creators confirm that it was just coincidence that the characters look like themselves.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: A common source of humor and deconstruction regarding many '60s era "Super Science!" and Zeerust devices to note a few prominent examples:
    • Jetpacks require a lot of thrust to lift a human in reality, are difficult to control, and have a good chance of setting the wearer's legs/feet on fire.
    • The Monarch's flying car requires expensive fuel, is easily mistaken for a UFO, and has a difficult time landing.
    • Even devices which actually function relatively well struggle to find a market for their services, such as Rusty's "Walking Eye". What does it do? ...general Walking Eye stuff.
    • Subverted several times in the series by Henchman 21 who believes that several pieces of the Monarch henchman uniform are just for show. He is surprised to learn that the seemingly impossible wings are functional for flying and the Utility Belt comes stocked with useful gadgets and armaments.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Hank and Dean, who are killed in the season one finale, are revived via clones kept by Dr. Venture at the start of season two. It turns out this is far from the first time that they have died.
    • After being killed in the season three finale, Henchman 24 returns in season four as an Obi-Wan-esque ghost. In the season four finale, it is strongly implied that he wasn't a ghost, but just a distraught 21's wishful hallucination.
  • Badass Normal: Though the Venture-verse has plenty of legitimately powered heroes and villains, some of the most capable and lethal individuals have no superpowers to speak of.
    • Brock is the most prominent example, having no superpowers but being widely recognized by the hero and villain communities alike as one of the most outright dangerous people on the planet. The fact that "Death by Samson" and "getting Samson'd" are recognized terms used by villains, henchman, and even Guild Strangers speaks to the level of badassery in play. In later seasons, he's easily the top agent at SPHINX and then the O.S.I., and gets reassigned to be the Venture family bodyguard once Rusty inherits Ventech from JJ and becomes a top-level "arch" for the Guild's most dangerous villains. This for a guy who Doesn't Like Guns, instead using a trusty bowie knife, his imposing physical stature, Car Fu, and the occasional Improbable Weapon to earn this reputation.
    • Shoreleave is easily the #2 agent at SPHINX and then the O.S.I. behind Brock and the only agent generally trusted to partner with Brock on missions. A full-blown Agent Peacock, he likewise has no superpowers but can take down waves of mooks and is as accurate with a pistol as other characters with scoped rifles at the same range.
    • Each of the Monarch, Dr. Mrs. the Monarch, and Henchman #21 (from season four on after he Took a Level in Badass) have no powers but prove to be highly competent in combat. The Monarch does have dart shooting wristbands while 21 has a retractable Blade Below the Shoulder gauntlet, but given the level of powers possessed by other characters in the series, these still qualify as "normal". To note some particular badass accomplishments, Monarch has survived multiple encounters with Brock, Dr. Mrs. has been seen several times taking down groups of trained guards with Waif-Fu, and 21 manages to bloody Brock a little in a one-on-one fight, even impressing Brock before the two agree to team up to take out the humongous Monstroso.
  • Banana Republic: Puerto Bahía. Its president is in US pay, and the country seems to support itself mostly on coffee cultivation and slave labor.
  • Battle Cry:
    • In line with being a parody of G.I. Joe, O.S.I. grunts on seen on several occassions chanting "YO! S.I.!" to the tune of "GO JOE!" Likewise with SPHINX, being (in their original incarnation) a parody of G.I. Joe villains COBRA, will shout "SPHINX!". Shoreleave says it with a lisp.
    • The Actionman shouts "ACTION, ACTION, ACTION!" while engaging in combat. The "Go Juice" Jonas Sr. had him gave him some rather bloodthirsty tendencies back in the day, but he'll still say a more toned-down version as a Catchphrase in modern times.
  • Because You Can Cope:
    • Rusty routinely saddles Hank with the lion's share of the emotional trauma of being a boy adventurer because he reasons that Hank knows it's all fake. Meanwhile, he tries to protect Dean while maintaining his belief in "super-science" and the threat of costumed aggression. While the Hank part remains true, by the end the series, Dean rejects this lifestyle, wanting to become a journalist and get away from the hero/villain cycle.
    • After learning that he and Hank are clones in the Halloween Special, Dean decides to handle the emotional trauma of knowing on his own and not reveal this information to Hank, to spare him the pain of knowing. He eventually tells Hank at the end of All This and Gargantua-2, where not only is Hank not traumatized, he thinks it's awesome.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy:
  • Berserk Button: Brock has a few seen throughout the series. Making fun of him, showing him a lack of respect, or touching his car will have him using his (actual) license to kill (or at least severely beat) the offender.
    Dr. Orpheus: (To Brock) "So... anyone who doesn't immediately show you respect, you murder?"
  • Berserker Tears: Dean is normally The Load and completely useless in any kind of fight. However, he has a few triggers (making fun of Triana, endangering Hank) that will cause him to fly into a berserker rage, complete with tears, and take down larger/more capable opponents.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: Gender reversed with Brock, as it seems the easiest way to get him attracted to a woman is to have her best him in a fight. He fell in love with Molotov Cocktease when, the first time they met, she tied him to the bed, set the building on fire, and stole his cigarettes. He is similarly attracted to Warriana later in the series when she bests him in a fight.
  • Beware the Silly Ones:
    • This may as well be the mantra of the entire series. Every character has some quirky, comedic traits, but a large portion of them can be extremely dangerous as well. Despite being "a guy in a butterfly costume", the Monarch cuts a swath through every hero (and even some other villains) he faces who isn't Dr. Venture. Shoreleave is a Camp Gay Agent Peacock, but is the second best O.S.I. agent after Brock and can shoot as accurately with a pistol as others can with scoped rifles. Dr. Orpheus, in addition to being one of the nicest people on the show and a massive Large Ham, is a master of magic who can trap souls in figurines and dispel hauntings that the more science/action oriented heroes can't even touch.
    • The Guild is the organizational embodiment of this. As Brock notes, take away the spandex and rules keeping everything in check, and you have a group of super-rich nutjobs with death rays and private armies at their command. The O.S.I. and "protagonists" they protect go along with the "cat and also cat" game because it's less destructive than letting the villains run amok.
  • Big Bad: Several throughout the series, depending on the season and arc, often veering into Big Bad Ensemble as well.
    • Season one: The Monarch and Baron Ünderbheit, with the Monarch as a Big Bad Wannabe and Ünderbheit the much more threatening villain.
    • Season two: Monarch moves into a Villain Protagonist role, Ünderbheit gets Put on a Bus, and Phantom Limb takes over as the Big Bad towards Rusty and the Monarch over the course of the season.
    • Season three: Monarch is barred by the Guild of Calamitous Intent from arching Dr. Venture, so Sgt. Hatred takes over as Rusty's Guild-sanctioned arch. He subverts the Big Bad role though, by being dead set on gaining Rusty's respect and love, largely to torment the Monarch. Throughout it all, you have Molotov Cocktease and Colonel Hunter Gathers' Black Hearts Mercenary group manipulating events, especially in the season finale.
    • Seasons four and five: Monarch retakes the role, though occasional Arc Villains like the returning Phantom Limb, Monstroso, and Molotov Cocktease get their share of focus as well.
    • The All This and Gargantua 2 post-season five special has The Sovereign in this role.
    • Season six and early season seven: The Monarch is arch-blocked once again, this time by Wide Wale and his cadre of subcontractor villains, from Dr. Venture whose taking over Ventech Industries elevates him to a top-level arch. The Monarch then becomes the Blue Morpho to get back to arching Dr. Venture by unintentionally killing all of the subcontractors.
    • Later season seven: The Peril Partnership encroaching on the Guild creates much of the drama, while the Monarch takes steps to increase his rating to get back on Rusty's level, finally achieving it in the season finale. Copycat and Mission Creep serve as episode Big Bads in the meantime.
    • The Finale Movie: The villain Mantilla takes up the role, hoping to get revenge on the Guild while attracting Dr. Mrs. the Monarch and eliminating the Monarch (during an arch of Dr. Venture).
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: The creators in the series DVD commentary take frequent shots at Adult Swim and Cartoon Network.
    Billy Quizboy: [narrating] "... With more special features than an Adult Swim DVD".
  • Bittersweet Ending: Frequently throughout the series, for both the majority of episodes and some entire seasons, going hand-in-hand with its deconstructive nature of its source genres. The day may be saved, but damage has been done (physically, psychologically, or otherwise) and the characters involved are rarely better off for it. Sometimes, like in the season one finale, it just goes into full-blown Downer Ending territory.
  • Black Comedy: The series is not afraid to touch on subjects including child death, parental abuse (in all of its forms), pedophelia, and much more, all while keeping a comedic angle. A great specific example is the conversation that named the trope Powered by a Forsaken Child.
  • Bland-Name Product: Packs of cigarettes seen throughout the series are usually branded "Manboro", based on Marlboro.
  • Blood Is the New Black: After a fight, Brock (especially in earlier seasons or flashbacks when he was more of a mindless killing machine) will often be shown covered in paint-like swaths of blood.
  • Body Backup Drive: How Rusty kept resurrecting Hank and Dean as clones. Their learning beds double for Brain Uploading their memories which are implanted in the clones. As with most of "his" inventions, later seasons and the Finale Movie confirm that this was yet another process invented by his father to clone Rusty when he died, that Rusty then co-opted.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Enforced by the Guild of Calamitous Intent on its villains. Just outright executing their arches is highly frowned upon (as the Monarch learns during season three while antagonizing "arches" other than Dr. Venture), but if you can kill them with convoluted Death Traps and classically Evil Plans? That's perfectly fine, since the "protagonists" have a chance to fight back. And it all needs to happen within the bounds of "equally matched aggression". If they don't, for example, use guns, then neither can you. (This is why the Monarch's henchmen are armed with dart guns when, at least early in the series, he could afford something much stronger.) However, 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 playing these games but have access to far, far worse.
  • Bored with Insanity: After going crazy following his defeat at the end of season two, Phantom Limb goes insane as the villain "Revenge", talking to inanimate objects as he plots revenge on the Guild in season four. After he escapes from the Guild's prison, 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: Quite a few characters stick to less flashy but more practical weapons and tactics despite the universe being flush with legitimate superpowers and abilities.
    • Brock Doesn't Like Guns and has no superpowers, but is widely recognized as one of the most dangerous people on the planet despite primarily using his bowie knife, fists, and the occasional Improbable Weapon. Another "practical" benefit is that, since he doesn't use anything more powerful, the villains, per Guild bylaws on "equally matched aggression", aren't allowed to either.
    • While Brock was putting on Mook Horror Shows, his replacement as the Venture family bodyguard, Sgt. Hatred, has lacks his aversion to guns. Since he is willing to pack heat, Monarch henchmen deaths actually go up once he takes over. He also takes "arching" prevention much more seriously by making rounds, improving compound defenses, and teaching the boys self-defense.
    • Jonas Jr. moves away from the family "super science" trade to instead focus on things like communications technology and software engineering with his Ventech Industries. This makes him a billionaire and when he leaves the company to Rusty after he dies, Rusty immediately runs it into the ground by dropping the focus on these "boring" things to kickstart Awesome, but Impractical "super science" R&D.
  • Brain Bleach: SPHINX, while led by Hunter and based at the Venture compound, has a memory wiping pod with this effect. A few characters even visit it voluntarily, like Hank when he finds out that Dermott's older sister, to whom he just lost his virginity, is actually Dermott's mother and his father is Rusty. He does leave himself a message on his communicator watch noting that he lost his virginity, but leaves out the details.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Rusty's childhood consisted of a lot of this, thanks to his father and associates being complete Jerk Asses. They embarass him, drag him along into dangerous situations, force him to kill, get him injured, and even get him outright killed. It's a big reason why he's a jaded, Seen It All, has-been as an adult. By extension he inflicts this on Dean, trying to bring him along as the next generation of "super scientist" but eventually causing him to rebel.
    • Henchman 21 throughout season four. His best friend, Henchman 24, dies in the season three finale. Wracked with guilt, 21 Takes a Level in Badass to discover his murderer and get revenge... only to realize that that he himself is really to blame. He eventually gets fed up as the Monarch's Dragon and Noble Top Enforcer, quitting at the end of the season to join SPHINX... only for Hunter to get accepted back into the O.S.I. with a promotion and taking all of the other SPHINX members with him, leaving Gary alone and driving him back to the Monarch.
  • Break the Haughty: Dr. Venture is presented throughout the first two seasons as Nominal Hero at best and Villain Protagonist at worst, with the Freudian Excuse of his terrible upbringing by his endangering and emotionally abusive father. Early in season three, Dr. Killinger takes him on as a client, deals with his antagonists, gets Venture Industries running again... only for Rusty to find out that Killinger was doing it because Rusty would make a great supervillain. After a Heel Realization, Rusty asks Brock in a weak voice: "Am I a bad person?", to which Brock is unable to disagree. After this episode, while he can still be quite selfish, he starts to display his other negative traits less while taking more of an interest in the care and wellbeing of his boys.
  • Brick Joke:
    • All over the place. The creators keep excellent track of the series continuity and nearly every episode features a few Continuity Nods and Call Backs to previous events. The majority are simply for the sake of comedy, like bringing up "Dawn Venture" (the name Baron Ünderbheit called a cross-dressed Dean in season two) in the season three finale, a throwaway line about Hank having a crush on the female postwoman (who he later invites to prom in the season four finale), and mentioning a number of characters in dialogue several seasons before they actually show up (Sgt. Hatred, Monstroso).
    • 21, who has witnessed Hank die and apparently come back to life unaware that he is a clone, tells him he's the Highlander mid-season three. Come the season three finale, he (and most everyone else) learns the Venture boys are clones, and tells Hank that it looks like he won't see the Quickening after all.
    • Early in the series, Hank asks if Brock is going to get a canoe with his Manboro Miles. In a season five episode, while Brock is going through his storage unit for a villain costume, a canoe can be seen.
    • In season one, Doctor Orpheus predicts the Action Man will die in "two years, seventeen days, from a stroke". Come season seven, the Action Man suffers the stroke.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Throughout the series, Dr. Venture is shown to be decently competent when he absolutely has to be. He's capable of performing surgery, like harvesting the boys kidneys after his get stolen, and many of his inventions are modifications to projects his father started, like the cloning technology he used to create and revive the boys. A few of his own inventions that technically function (if not always for their intended purpose) include the Ooo-Ray, G.U.A.R.D.O, the Walking Eye, and the Joy Can, which tend to "fail" due to the "Lazy" part of the trope. In season seven, he (along with Pete and Billy) successfully invent a matter transporter device... which the O.S.I. attempts to confiscate as The World Is Not Ready (and is ultimately stolen by the Guild). In the Finale Movie, it's revealed that he was able to not just cure Bobbi of her invisibility that his father caused, he was even able to transfer the power to Debra, with her being able to fully control it, in exchange for her genetic material to make Hank and Dean. Properly motivated, Rusty was able to not just fix his father’s mistakes, but surpass him by creating one of the most powerful villains in the series.
  • Broken Pedestal: Despite his stellar reputation in the hero/villain community, the series has made a point of showing that Jonas Sr. was really a Jerkass whose actions psychologically (and sometimes physically) damaged Rusty and caused incredible amounts of suffering to countless others with a For Science! egotistical attitude. This is all in line with the series' Genre Deconstruction of "science adventure" heroes like Benton Quest and Doc Savage.
  • Buffy Speak: Quite a few characters throughout the series struggle to put the mind-blowing weirdness they are consistently forced to witness into words. Frequent users include Hank, Pete White, Henchman #21, and Jefferson Twilight, but nearly all main and recurring characters fall into this at least once.
  • Bungling Inventor: Dr. Venture is an interesting case study in this trope throughout the series. He can be somewhat capable when properly motivated (usually by his life being in danger or by the prospect of a huge payday), such successfully harvesting kidneys from the boys to replace his own, building the "Joy Can", a matter transporter, and modifying many of his father's leftover inventions like the cloning technology, but his Brilliant, but Lazy tendencies tend to lead to failure more often than not. It's not that many of his inventions "don't work", it's that he doesn't bother to think (or care) about the negative effects, like his Vacuum Boom-Broom leaking radiation or his Joy Can being Powered by a Forsaken Child (literally).
  • Butt-Monkey: Most of the characters in the series are on the receiving end of this at one point or another in the series, given its nature and theme. However, a few characters really suffer more than their share of abuse:
    • Billy Quizboy is roundly dismissed as a loser even among his fellow losers. However, don't push him too far. He's groin punched Brock Samson and lived and apparently managed to shake off the effect of O.S.I. brainwashing technology. He's an incredibly gifted surgeon (being repeatedly kidnapped to perform illegal operations throughout the series) and, when hired by Ventech in the later seasons, manages to help Rusty actually invent some functional "super science"-y tech including a matter transporter.
    • Sgt. Hatred is introduced as a "super soldier" supervillain on par with the Monarch, with his own hover tank, a literal army of henchmen, and a wife he loves dearly. He gets divorced, levied to serve as the Venture family bodyguard where he is seen as a poor replacement for Brock (even though, in many ways, he actually performs better than Brock, such as never allowing the boys to die), then gets further humiliated and degraded when Brock returns as he gets demoted to the Ventech building security guard (and tour guide).
    • Subverted with the Monarch. He starts off as an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain with a silly gimmick and is effectively a hapless punching bag for Team Venture. As the series progresses, he undergoes significant Character Development, takes several levels in badass, marries the woman he loves, sees his best henchman become his best friend, and essentially becomes the show's Deuteragonist. By the end, for his efforts, he finally reaches "level ten villain" status where he can no longer be stopped from arching Dr. Venture.
  • Cain and Abel:
    • Rusty as the "Cain" to Jonas Jr.'s "Abel". Not only did Rusty eat JJ in the womb, forcing him to endure decades trapped within Rusty's body before finally breaking out, JJ turns out to be the brilliant, charismatic, "super scientist" successor to their father. JJ gets married, starts a multi-billion dollar company, a develops a reputation second only to Jonas Sr. Rusty is clearly envious of his brother's success... but this gets subverted as of "All This and Gargantua-2" where JJ really does care for Rusty, and Rusty, if a bit begrudgingly, does care about JJ as revealed when JJ announces he is dying from cancer. After giving what remained of his life to save everyone aboard the space station, JJ leaves his company to Rusty.
    • The Finale Movie reveals this to be the case for Rusty and the Monarch, as well. The Monarch was a slightly altered Rusty clone given by Jonas Sr. to the Fitzcaraldos when they couldn't conceive a child of their own. It even impacts the very title of the show, as it initially (and outwardly throughout) referred to Hank and Dean, with it also apply to Rusty and JJ from season two on. With the Monarch's rise in status to the show's Deuteragonist and overall impact throughout the series, it can be argued that he and Rusty are the most prominent set of "Venture brothers" throughout.
  • Camp Gay:
    • Most of the members of the O.S.I. back in the day when Brock was a rookie agent. The main group explicitly resembles 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.
      Col. Gathers: "Oh yeah? Well, the Village People called, and they want you to fucking kill yourself, you prancing bastard!"
    • In 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 in many cases this approaches subversion or deconstruction. The creators love to make 'realistic' interpretations of other characters and watch them fall apart. Due to the sheer length, examples can be found on the character page for the applicable character.
  • Car Meets House: Brock has done this intentionally on more than one occasion. Hank did it on accident once while driving Brock's car.
  • Carnival of Killers: The series likes to introduce new groups of villains in this fashion. Examples include the three assassins hunting Brock at the end of season three and several new Guild villains (like some of Wide Whale's "sub-arches") in season six/seven. One of the characters knowledgeable about the new "killers" provides narration on their names, backgrounds, and applicable abilities while the characters are shown. Parodied at least once as well, when a deranged Phantom Limb introduces several inanimate objects(a toster, a shoe, a coffee mug) as part of his "Revenge Society" in this fashion.
  • Cartoon Bomb: Discussed by The Monarch, 21, and 24 when they talk about using one of these on Dr. Venture, along with dropping an anvil on him and other silly cartoonish attacks.
  • Cast Herd: Done intentionally, not for lack of characterization, but in an attempt to avoid too much Acting for Two for creators Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick, who voice the majority of the characters on the show. The majority of the "herds" contain one character each voiced by each of them to help alleviate this.
  • Casting Gag: Captain Sunshine is a Superman and Batman combo expy who leans heavily into the Batman and Robin Mistaken for Pedophile misconception (using copious Innocent Innuendo to play it up). Of course, they get Kevin Conroy, who has more credits as Batman than any other actor, to play him.
  • Cast of Expies: Almost the entire cast are parodies of some kind of superhero or pulp action character. Though the characters they parody do also exist in their universe, such as Rusty and Action Johnny, the latter of whom is clearly meant to be a washed up, drug-addled Jonny Quest.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: There's a wide variety of distinctive facial features, body types, and even species on display that's easy to tell who everyone is even when they're out of costume. In the few instances where characters do have similar facial features, it usually ends up being plot-relevant, as is the case with Rusty Venture and the Monarch.
  • Catchphrase: "Go Team Venture!" *fanfare* It was originally the played-seriously-straight team motto of the '60s era Team Venture, complete with "V" salute. In the current setting, Hank and Dean will attempt to play it straight in the early seasons but it more often than not comes across as lame due to the circumstance. Billy, being a huge fan of the Rusty Venture Cartoon, badly wants to do it on several occasions, only to be stiffed by Rusty or have him begrudgingly give a half-assed version.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Unusually for the trope, 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 lampshaded Hank wearing Freddy's signature outfit; Col. Gathers points out the similarity between the '80s OSI superstars and 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. Similar to how one of the themes of Watchmen is how different the world would be if superheroes really existed, as part of the Venture Brothers "failure" theme, we see 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 like 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.
  • Central Theme:
    • Failure. Characters rarely succeed in the big epic ways that you would come to expect from other superhero stories. Anticlimax abounds, the realistic outcome follows in brutally honest ways, and any victories the characters achieve are usually more of the mental or emotional variety (Rusty accepting his life, 21 recovering from 24's death etc.). If any success does happen, usually it turns out that there's Always Someone Better to take you down a peg or that there is no achievable endgame.
    • Identity. Heroes and Villains are not something one is so much as roles characters play, comparable to that of a children's game of cops and robbers. The relationship between those aligned as good or evil operates on a professional basis, attacking one another under a heavily regulated system and then Go-Karting with Bowser when they have finished arching for the day, not unlike the rules of a game of pretend. Since super-science, magic, and all of the other fantastical elements of the world are either too expensive, dangerous, or impractical for anyone else to use, only rich or insane weirdos have access to them and have defined an entire community and economy around them. Character Development for many characters usually results in switching specific roles (Sgt. Hatred starting as a villain and then becoming a full-time member of Team Venture, Hunter defecting with a sex change and then changing back, the Monarch taking on the heroic identity of the Blue Morpho, etc.), with their capacity to have these identities - hero, villain, scientist, henchman - more important than doing them well.
  • Cerebus Retcon: In the first two seasons, Billy simply states that he has no idea how he got his robotic hand or lost his eye. In "Victor. Echo. November.", several characters speculate with increasingly fanciful stories that all involve Phantom Limb. Later, it's revealed that he lost them when Pete mistook a dog fighting match for an underground "Quizboy" tournament. The O.S.I. replaced them when they recruited him to spy on Phantom Limb, but when that went awry, they memory wiped Billy and left him with Pete. Now every time he remembers, Pete knocks him out and calls Brock/Hunter to re-wipe him.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The series grew from initially being a parody of Jonny Quest and other action/adventure franchises to being a more serious examination of the characters, deconstructing the genres from which they are drawn, while still keeping an element of dark humor throughout.
  • Character Development: Most of the characters started out as parodies/expies of Jonny Quest characters, Pulp characters, or various superheroes/villains, but all of them have become more complex and three-dimensional as the show progressed. Specific examples can be found on the applicable character page.
  • 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. A prominent example is the change in Brock's personality over season one - in 'Are You There God, It's Me Dean' Doc Hammer had Brock attack the Monarch's henchman to cheer up the Monarch on his sad excuse for a birthday, though, (as Doc explains in the commentary for the episode) at the time of writing, Brock had not shown such compassion before. Other examples can be found on the applicable character's page.
  • Cheated Angle: Dr. Girlfriend's hair in the early episodes.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The series loves dropping hints about major events and revelations that will only become important several episodes, if not entire seasons, later. For example, the season two episode "Hate Floats" has Phantom Limb using a muscle accelerator to heal Brock which he says is "leftover from his day as a goodie two-shoe scientist". Come season three's "The Invisible Hand Of Fate", we see that Limb using similar devices on himself is what gave him his powers.
  • Children Forced to Kill: Happened frequently to Rusty as a youth, breaking him, conditioning him to accept horror, and contributing to his many Freudian Excuses. Examples include a clip from The Rusty Venture Show showing him being forced to shoot a villain to save his father and telling Sgt. Hatred that his father once made him kill a man with a house key when he was 10.
  • Clone Angst:
    • 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 to end their blues. Later, Dean learns that he and Hank are clones; furthermore, no efforts are made to wipe his memory or cover-up the knowledge. He decides to keep this from Hank to spare him from the blues, ultimately telling him a full season later. Hank, in an aversion of the trope, thinks that being a clone is pretty awesome and is not bothered at all, which helps Dean feel better, too.
    • In the Finale Movie, the Monarch is revealed to be a failed clone of Rusty rather than his half brother as previously implied. Or, rather, he and the Rusty we've been following are both clones of the original Rusty, who died at some unspecified point in his childhood. Rusty takes this completely in stride, but the Monarch has a minor breakdown over it before his wife convinces him to accept it as a fantastic element of their rivalry.
  • Comic-Book Time:
    • Thanks to a particularly long Brick Joke (Orpheus reading the Action Man's date of death), it can be inferred that that exactly two years and seventeen days passed in-universe between the season one episode "Past Tense" and the season seven multi-premiere "Arrears in Science", despite 13 years passing in reality. This also fits with the age of Hank and Dean, being revived as clones at the start of season two where they celebrate their 16th birthdays and being around 18 (Dean enrolls in college while Rusty forces Hank to get a job) in season seven. Adding further confusion is that technology and pop culture seem to move at the same speed in the show as they do in real life, while the creators decided to move several key in-universe events up by a few years (like Jonas' death from 1983 to 1987).
    • Unusually, this applies in-universe as well. Dr. Venture is shown as as a child both far longer or earlier than he could have been given his stated age in the series. Take when the Action Man kills Turnbuckle in 1966, Rusty helps his father build Gargantua-1 in 1971, and Kano kills Venturion in 1976, Rusty is depicted as essentially the same age despite ten years passing. Seeing as how the Turnbuckle incident and Venturion's death were both shown on-screen only a few episodes apart, this seems to be very intentional. Then, in the Finale Movie, it is confirmed that Rusty has been cloned just like his own boys, meaning he could have been a child in 1966, 1971, and 1976.
  • 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, Shore Leave), and even the title duo was expanded into a trio (Hank, Dean, Dermott.
  • Company Cross References: The show is implied to take place in the same universe as Jonny Quest, with characters (including Jonny himself) even appearing in the show, as well as Scooby-Doo, though only via references by characters. All three are properties of Warner Bros. who, after season two, due to interest in reviving Jonny Quest, forbade the Venture Bros. creators from using that show's characters who were replaced by very similar expies like "Action Johnny" and "Dr. Z".
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Rusty's upbringing, with his father bringing him along on dangerous "adventures" from the time he was "old enough to pee standing up", has made him this way. Situations that would be utterly terrifying and mind-blowing to normal people seem to annoy Rusty, at most. Note that, despite this, he has not Seen It All (Deconstructing that trope), as there are still things that he fears (malignant cancer, financial ruin, Dean getting an STD, realizing that he is indeed the "failure" that everyone else sees him to be), just not anything to do with "super-science" or costumed menaces.
  • Continuity Nod: The series is massively self-referential and every episode typically contains numerous references to previous episodes. For a full list, see the series Recap pages.
  • Contractual Genre Blindness: Literally, when you sign a contract with the Guild of Calamitous Intent. As part of their "cobs and robbers", "cat and also cat" game with the O.S.I., they are allowed to be constumed menaces toward qualified "protagonists", with the Guild ensuring "equally matched aggression" to keep things fair. The O.S.I. tolerates this because it's actually less disruptive and damaging than allowing a bunch of costumed villains, many with superpowers, advanced weaponry, and armies of henchmen, to run amok unchecked.
  • Cool Car:
    • Brock's Dodge Charger, named "Adrienne", 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. He later rebuilds it and even converts it to electric. Possessing a cool car seems to be common among O.S.I., as Myra has a Bullitt Mustang and Col. Gathers has a Jensen Interceptor with gadgets similar to 007's DB5.
    • The Monarch's second Monarchmobile, which can fly. This is in marked contrast to his previous transport, Henchman #24's beat-up Nissan Stanza, and even the first 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.
    • Blue Morpho's Morphomobile, which is a sporty car, has all the standard spy tech devices in it, and can fly.
  • Corrupted Character Copy: So many examples, befitting the show's status as a Deconstructive Parody of boy's adventure series and costumed heroes/villains, that the series has its own page.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: A great deal of build-up (over several seasons) is given to 21's crush on Dr. Mrs. The Monarch, and his fear of The Monarch's wrath. He eventually learns they have an open relationship anyway... which weirds him out enough to no longer be interested.
  • Crapola Tech: Much of the technology Venture Industries produces, not just since Rusty has taken over, but even when Jonas Sr. was still around. Much it is Awesome, but Impractical, technically functioning but with a big enough host of negatives to kill any practical applications. Examples demonstrated in the series include a functioning light saber (incredibly costly to produce, does produce a beam of light but it can't cut anything), the vacuum "Boom-Broom" (which functions, but is also highly radioactive), and the Gargantua-2 ray shields (which mutated all of the interns who worked on them and require four arms to operate).
  • 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. Meanwhile, costumed heroes and villains with legitimate superpowers and advanced technology run around causing mass collateral damage.
  • Creator Cameo: Doc Hammer (using his real first name of "Eric"), appears in a Freeze-Frame Bonus shot as one of the students in Dermott's yearbook.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Many characters and elements started as offhand references. For example, Baron Ünderbheit, Monstroso, Sgt. Hatred, Truckules, and Captain Sunshine were all briefly alluded to as part of the show's world-building before they actually appeared on-screen.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Brock against any group of henchmen, but especially the Monarch's, straddles the line between one of these and a full-blown Mook Horror Show. Despite the world being filled with legitimately superpowered heroes/villains and all manner of "super-science" technology, he is still one of the most dangerous people alive.
  • Dark Parody: The show started off as such a parody of Jonny Quest and shows how, in the real world, a child going on those types of adventures would inflict a plethora of trauma and psychological disorders. Rusty, a loose Johnny expy, is a mess of being Conditioned to Accept Horror and Freudian Excuses. When the "real" Jonny shows up in the show (later adjusted to be his own character in "Action Johnny"), he's a drug addict who is terrified of his father. Starting in season two, the show shifts into more of a Deconstructive Parody and Genre Deconstruction for youth adventure, Two-Fisted Tales, and the world of costumed heroes/villains.
  • Dating Catwoman:
    • Brock relationship with Molotov Cocktease throughout the first several seasons. He is an O.S.I. agent while she was a former Soviet agent turned mercenary. They typically go full Slap-Slap-Kiss when they cross paths, most often when one of Molotov's missions conflicts with Brock's, and she's not above using him to do her dirty work (distracting a target while she steals something, taking out rival assassins by siccing them on Brock, etc.)
    • Hank and Sirena starting in season six. He's the son of the hottest "arch" in the business and she's the daughter of the "level ten" villain assigned to him. Hank actually brings this up during their first date, believing that she's only dating him to piss off her dad. She assures him this isn't the case... but later cheats on him with Dean.
  • Deal with the Devil: Any deal made with "the Investors," a trio of mysterious Intangible Men in the employ of the Guild. They spend much of seasons four and five pulling the strings over several arcs. They are responsible for giving Billy and Pete their "seed money" for their company, but in return, kidnap Billy to transplant the heart from a dying King Gorilla (who they got released from his life sentence in exchange) into Monstroso. As revealed in "All That and Gargantua-2", they were one of the financiers of JJ's company (he's innocent but ignorant) and helped the current Sovereign usurp the previous leader of the Guild. His plan to blow up Gargantua-2 with them on it is his attempt to get out of the deal.
  • Decon-Recon Switch:
    • On the one hand, the O.S.I/Guild rivalry is often played for as much comedy as possible, with many of the jokes centering on how ineffectual and hidebound they are, and the childishness of it all. In fact, Rusty outright calls both the Guild and O.S.I "Children." On the other hand, it's made very clear during the tenure of the reborn S.P.H.I.N.X that compared to the prospect of serious, more adult villains armed with super-science who eschew a costume and gimmick, the current structure is probably for the best.
    • After roughly two-and-a-half seasons spent as a Deconstructive Parody and Genre Deconstruction for everything from "action adventurers" to superheroes/villains to Spy Fiction to For Science!-style Science Heroes, the series starts to reconstruct some tropes within these genres. The episode "ORB" is frequently pointed to as the point where the show veers noticeably towards reconstruction. In that episode alone, Rusty mocks his father's catchphrase several times, but at the end he says it unironically, making it clear that for all his father's many serious failings, his ideals still had value. Downplayed in that there is still plenty more deconstruction that takes place in the seasons to follow, but the series reconstructs enough of them (Clone Angst, The Rival, Punch-Clock Villain, to name just a few) that the vibe has noticably shifted.
    Rusty: "We are not only men of science: we are men of hope."
  • Deconstructive Parody: The show starts as an analysis of how boy adventurers like Jonny Quest and The Hardy Boys would fare later in life, the collective trauma they've experienced being chased, kidnapped, tortured, and even killed and brought back to life via cloning turning them into jaded, burnt-out, has-been adults who've been Conditioned to Accept Horror with truckloads of Freudian Excuses. The series pretty quickly grew (starting late in season one, definitely by season two) into a Genre Deconstruction beyond simply "boy adventurers" (though that would remain part of it) including costumed heroes/villains, Spy Fiction, Two-Fisted Tales, and more.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: For genres as wide-ranging as "boy adventurers" like like Jonny Quest and The Hardy Boys, to costumed heroes/villains, Spy Fiction, "action-adventurers", and more. Each is thoroughly deconstructed down to its core elements, showing that how, with more realism applied, super powers and "super science" are dangerous, Awesome, but Impractical at best, and all of those involved are still the same sort of small, petty people as exist in real life, using these great gifts selfishly, and ultimately feeding into the series' Central Theme of failure. In the later series, a Downplayed Decon-Recon Switch starts to take place as some of these elements are reconstructed, showing that the ideals behind them can still have value.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Hank and Dean 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. With the revelation at the end of season seven that Rusty and the Monarch are related and in the Finale Movie that the Monarch is a Rusty clone, a reasonable reinterpretation of the title, given the prominence of each throughout the series, is that it they are the true titular "Venture Brothers".
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: In the flashbacks to the original Team Venture of the '60s and '70s, things like racism, misogyny, sociopathy treated as heroism, and scientific advancement at the cost of anything else are fully present and treated as the norm for the era.
  • Den of Iniquity:
    • Several episodes show that the Monarch's flying cocoon fortress has a bar-like area where his minions quietly gather for drinks on their downtime.
    • Guild Council of 13 member Don Hell runs a night club for villains which appears in a few episodes.
  • Destination Defenestration: Quite a few of Brock's fights include someone going through a window, either the enemy or Brock himself. Only once (when he goes through the cockpit window of an O.S.I. jet) does he realistically end up with a number of cuts.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Throughout the entire series, the Monarch hates Rusty with the passion of someone who was wronged in a highly significant way. One of the first things the Monarch did to Rusty, while they were still in college, was try to blow him up with a bomb (that blew off Baron Ünderbheit's jaw, a building on campus, and was blamed on Rusty). Through seven seasons worth of "archings" (ranging from "mildly annoying" to "almost deadly"), it is never made clear just why the Monarch hates Rusty so much. Finally, in the Finale Movie, we learn that Monarch incorrectly believes that Rusty slept with his girlfriend, Debbie, which 21 takes as the reason for the hate. Years worth of hate, property destruction, and attempted murder from the Monarch seem highly disproportionate in comparison, if 21's interpretation is indeed correct.
  • Distressed Dude: Rusty became this so often in his youth while "adventuring" with his father that the Guild of Calamitous Intent enacted a bylaw for the treatment of hostages known as "Rusty's Law", forcing villains to release hostages who have untreated medical issues.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Sgt. Hatred becoming Dr. Venture's arch-nemesis over Monarch in season three is treated very similar to him being the new lover with Monarch as the ex (particularly when Hatred goes on about how he will treat Venture better than Monarch ever could.) The Monarch's psychotic rant about Venture when killing his new assigned arch, Dr. Dugong, could easily apply, word for word, to an ex-lover.
    • Hank's reaction to Sgt. Hatred replacing Brock as the new family bodyguard in season four clearly resembles that of a stepchild not liking their stepfather.
    Hank: "You're not my real bodyguard!"
  • Double-Meaning Title: The Venture Bros. initially, and nominally throughout, refers to Hank and Dean. Starting with season two, after Rusty discovers Jonas Jr., it can also been seen as referring to them. (The season two premiere even lampshades it by having them replace the temporarily deceased Hank and Dean in the opening credits.) JJ at one point even reminds Rusty that "...we're the Venture Brothers!". Early in season seven, it is strongly implied that Jonas Sr. impregnated the Monarch's mother when she and her husband were unable to conceive, making Rusty and the Monarch half-brothers. The season finale confirms that they are related, but is not specific about how. Finally, in the Finale Movie, we learn that Monarch is really a slightly altered Rusty clone, and given the former's rise in plot significance over the course of the series, they are perhaps the most important set of "Venture Brothers" to the show.
  • Downer Ending: The season finale of season seven is a downer for pretty much every involved character. Hank runs away after Dean sleeps with his girlfriend. Monarch and Rusty learn that they are related, while the Guild promotes 21 to "full villain status" despite his desire to stay the Monarch's #2, causing them both to nearly nearly quit. The O.S.I. spent the previous episodes preventing Rusty from monetizing working teleportation tech as The World Is Not Ready... Not helping matters is that Adult Swim renewed the show for an eight season, then reneged almost two years later, making it appear that the entire series was ending on a down note. Thankfully, this proved to be a Series Fauxnale as the Finale Movie was announced, wrapped things up (while still leaving possibilities open for more if the series is ever renewed), and ends on a much more positive note for everyone.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Nearly every single character who appears in the series to the point where the who don't have multiple psychological issues can be counted on one hand. Among the the current Team Venture alone, Rusty is a jaded, Conditioned to Accept Horror cynic full of Freudian Excuses. Brock is a deconstructed One-Man Army whose lifetime of killing and witnessing bizarre things causes him to have a breakdown and quit for a time. Hank is reckless, ADD addled, has a complex about being The Un-Favorite to Rusty, and was genuinely hurt when Brock left. Dean is meek, cowardly, and naive, desperating wanting to get away from the "boy adventurer" lifestyle Rusty impresses upon him. Hatred is a recovering pedophile, former supervillain, and divorcee who is treated by the Ventures as a lousy replacement for Brock and, just when he finally earns their respect, gets demoted upon Brock's return. For everyone else, check out their entries on the series' character pages.

  • Easily Forgiven: As part of their Punch-Clock Villain status, villains associated with the Guild are often downright friendly with their "arches" when "off the clock", despite any beatings, attempted killings, henchmen slaughters, etc. between them. The Monarch's genuine hatred for Rusty is actually something of an outlier, occasional Enemy Mine scenarios notwithstanding.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The first season employed differing styles of choppy and limited animation that look downright crude by the standards of later series. Art Evolution and Animation Bump play into the later quality improvements. Further, in the title sequence, Hank has a Girly Run with his hands flapping around at his sides, while Dean has an exaggerated sprinter's gait. In season two, it's explicitly stated that Hank is more athletic than Dean.
    • Characterization is unsettled in the first season. For example, in the first episode ("Dia de los Dangerous") where Doc and the boys are in Tijuana, Hank's first line is "This place it tits! Divvy this, we got these boss Mexican hats," and in "The Incredible Mister Brisby", he is happy to point out an elephant's penis and accuse his father of being "on the rag". Even though he says some pretty outlandish things, it's hard to imagine Hank from later seasons talking this way.
    • The first 3/4 or so of the first season remains firmly in the "Dark Parody of "Jonny Quest" territory. The series begins its Cerebus Syndrome turn at the end of the season, then firmly goes in that direction starting with season two.
    • Rusty's relationship with his father is shown in a more positive, if still somewhat distant, light in the early seasons. While it was clear that his childhood adventures and living in his father's shadow were the source of Rusty's problems, Jonas Venture Sr. was seen to be caring and supportive. Rusty even had fond memories of his boy adventurer days. This is opposed to later seasons where Jonas and the rest of Team Venture are shown to be abusive and manipulative sociopaths who constantly traumatized Rusty by making him come along with them on their dangerous adventures.
  • Elite Mooks: Guild "Strangers", deployed as part of their "black out teams" or as guards for high-ranking Guild leadership, are noted throughout the series to be much tougher than usual villain henchmen. When Brock goes up against them for the first time, he notes to Rusty that they "may not make it out this time". Later, them showing up causes the typically Does Not Like Guns Brock to reach for one.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil:
    • In Ünderland, both men and women are apparently subject to conscription into Baron Ünderbheit's army until age 38, at which point You Have Outlived Your Usefulness.
    • The Guild is open to seemingly anyone interested in being a villain. Men and women are seen throughout it's ranks, it includes people of color (and "people of color"), and is particularly open to victims of For Science! gone awry, many of whom are now Ambiguously Human at best.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Enforced by the Guild of Calamitous Intent on its membership. They have numerous bylaws dictating the treatment of prisoners (notably "Rusty's Law", which forces villains to release hostages who have untreated injuries), as well as requiring the release of prisoners when a ransom has been paid "in good faith", and enforces things like Contractual Genre Blindness so that villains can't just walk right up and execute their "arches". It's less about having actual "standards" and more in place to avoid outright war with the O.S.I., who is willing to play along with the Guild's "cops and robbers" game to keep them from doing far worse.
  • Everyone Went to School Together:
    • A sizable portion of the adults in the main cast (Rusty, Brock, Pete White, Monarch, Baron Ünderbheit) all attended "State University" at the same time. This is quickly lampshaded by Hank in the episode where it first comes up. 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.
    • Richard Impossible was a professor at State University, until he lost the job due to an inappropriate relationship with Sally when she was a student there. Phantom Limb, then still "Professor Fantomas", replaced him where is shown to have taught Sheila (later Dr. Girlfriend and Dr. Mrs. the Monarch) and Billy Quizboy. Impossible and Fantomas were also in Jonas Sr.'s "boys brigade" together, which they discuss when they unite as supervillains.
  • Evil Laugh: Most of the villains on the show have one, which is fitting for the setting, and they're all unique. The Monarch gets to display his (deep and genuinely menacing) laugh most often. Others include Phantom Limb, which is more gentlemanly and refined (though gets more psychotic after he mentally snaps as "Revenge"), and Dr. Z, who has a classic "cartoon villain" laugh.
  • Evil Overlooker: The Monarch and Phantom Limb are both doing this on the back of the season two DVD box. The foldout that holds the discs has the Monarch alone in this position.
  • Expy: The entire show is one giant satirical deconstruction of various classic animated and comic book heroes. Everyone from the main characters to countless one-offs are based, at least in part, on someone or something from those genres. See the series character and recap pages for full lists.
  • Expy Coexistence:
    • The original concept of the show was as a Dark Parody of Jonny Quest. Despite this, characters from Quest show up in the first season, when Race Bannon, a special agent and badass bodyguard for the Quest family, interacts with Brock, a special agent and badass bodyguard for the Venture family. "Jonny" himself appears in season two, though for complex legal reasons, the Venture Bros. creators lost the ability to use the Quest characters, so they themselves got turned into expies like "Action Johnny" and "Dr. Z". Race only appears in a single flashback seasons later, and is referred to as "Red".
    • The Fantastic Four is explicitly mentioned as a comic book several times in the series, which also has a The Fantastic Faux family of expies in the Impossibles. In one episode, it is mentioned that the Impossibles went to a Halloween party as the Fantastic Four, winning best costume.
    • It's been shown frequently that despite about half the cast being parodies of some stripe, the pop culture of the show's world is broadly similar to our own. For instance, Doctor Orpheus, Brown Widow, Dr. Entmann, and so on are all based on Marvel Comics characters, and yet Marvel also exists as an in-universe comic company that publishes much the same books it does here. There have been quite a few cases of characters directly bringing up the resemblance.
  • The Faceless: The Sovereign of the Guild and the Council of 13 are both introduced as such early on, with the Sovereign being a large, red, talking head and the Council all being shown as silhouettes. As the seasons go on, their identities are revealed and these devices are used less and less.
  • Fake Crossover:
    • Zig-zagged with Jonny Quest. The show starts off as a (and maintains an air of throughout) Dark Parody of Quest, with the current Team Venture as loose expies and Rusty implicitly in the role of a "grown up Jonny" showing how traumatizing that childhood would be. In "Ice Station Impossible", Race Bannon, the Quest family bodyguard, shows up as an agent, indicating that both series take place in the same universe. In "Twenty Years to Midnight", Jonny himself appears as a drug-aggled and deranged adult. However, the connection was dropped in season three as Warner Bros. (the parent company who owns the rights to both the Venture Bros. and Jonny Quest) wanted to reboot the Quest franchise and didn't want any more damage done to the characters, so they ordered the Venture Bros. to stop using them. The Quest characters became expies of themselves in "Action Johnny", "Dr. Z", "Radji", and, in a flashback, Race as "Red". (No reboot ever ended up happening.)
    • Several mentions are made of the Scooby-Doo existing in the Venture-verse. The Pirate Captain describes some of his past adventures, which all all sound like episodes of Scooby Doo, particularly the part about getting to meet "the guy who did the voice fer Inspector Gadget." Later, Action Johnny mentions Daphne and Velma as if they are real, with Action Johnny having slept with Velma, much to the surprise of his companions who all thought she was a lesbian. This, of course, leads to Expy Coexistence with the "Groovy Gang" from "Viva Los Muertos!", who are all a mix of the Scooby gang members and famous killers.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Enforced for just about everyone, since "Failure" is one of the Central Themes of the show. Everyone almost always ends up right back where they started, if not worse off, far more often than they see any kind of success. Even when they do achieve success, it is usually in the form of small personal victories, like learning to accept themselves or a situation, rather than anything big or epic.
  • Famous Ancestor: The Venture family dates back at least a century, with Col. Lloyd Venture helping to found the Guild of Calamitous Intent and being the first person on the moon (in 1902). Jonas Venture Sr. is seen as a super-science legend by pretty much everyone. Ultimately Subverted by Rusty (and Hank and Dean by extension), because he's a massive failure in comparison. He has no shortage of Freudian Excuses and, as we see throughout the series, his father was a massively Abusive Parent in private.
  • Fan Wank: In-Universe Example: In addition to who would win a fight between Lizzy Borden and Anne Frank, 21 and 24 also debated such important topics as the reproductive strategy of Smurfs.
    21: Smurfs! Don't! Lay! Eggs!
  • The Fettered: Villains associated with the Guild Of Calamitous Intent are much more dangerous than they appear at first. They are obligated to follow Contractual Genre Blindness — rules forbid them from invoking Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?, are forbidden to attack civilians or law enforcement, are barred from fighting on "hallowed ground", and many more, in order to avoid escalations of violence with the O.S.I. As made clear several times in the series, these are a bunch of "pissed off nut-jobs" with legitimate super powers, advanced technology, and armies of henchmen who would wreak untold havoc if allowed to run unrestricted.
  • Film Noir: Hank's detective agency daydreams are a parody of this, shifting to black and white with him attempting to speak the vernacular and look the part.
  • Foreshadowing: LOADS throughout the series. Sometimes very subtle, sometimes very clear. Sometimes it is for the same episode, sometimes it is setting up something that doesn't happen for several seasons. Specific examples can be found on the series Recap pages.
  • For Science!: The entire Venture-verse runs on this idea, drawing from the 1960s ideals of world-changing science that can accomplish anything and corrupting it by putting it in the hands of abusive, greedy, often shorts-sighted sociopaths who can't bother following proper safety standards and/or are Only in It for the Money (or fame). Details of the characters who most often fall into this are listed on their character pages.
  • Freak Lab Accident: How most superpowered individuals, heroes and villains alike, ended up that way. It is Lampshaded at several points in the series and specifics on these characters can be found on their character pages.
  • Friendly Enemy: Sergeant Hatred becomes Rusty's Guild-sanctioned "arch" in season three specifically to spite the Monarch, who has been stealing equipment from him, by treating Rusty as nicely as he possibly can.
    Hatred: "I'm going to make his life wonderful! And you can't do squat about it!"
  • Gambit Pileup: The creators really like this trope. At the end of almost every significant story arc, the plans of multiple parties all converge and things get chaotic rather quickly, with one clearly coming out on top and most characters lucky to survive. Gathers and Molotov in the final episodes of season three by getting Brock to take out their competition, Molotov freeing Monstroso in the season four finale (though not without Rusty being an accidental Spanner in the Works) while General Treister ferrets out the Guild rats in the O.S.I. and hands it over to his hand-picked successor in Col Gathers, and prominently in the special "All This And Gargantua-2" where all of Killinger, the Investors, the Sovereign, and Phantom Limb clash with Killinger coming out on top by clearing out the corruption from the Guild (and it being implied that even the pile-up itself was part of his plan). Additional examples can be found on the Recap pages for the episodes in which they take place.
  • Giving Up on Logic: Happens all the time and is frequently lampshaded when it does, going hand in hand with the Seen It All and Conditioned to Accept Horror nature of many of the main characters. On several occasions, when a newer and/or more sane character tries to question something bizarre, the other characters will often mention a Continuity Nod or Noodle Incident that makes the current situation seem downright reasonable by comparison. Specific examples can be found on the appropriate Recap page.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Given the Punch-Clock Villain nature of most villains in the series, this is a not-uncommon occurrence. Rusty's season one yard sale is open to both fellow "protagonists" and villains, with it noted that such an event is covered by a Guild treaty on "casual contact". When Sgt. Hatred becomes Rusty's official arch in season three, he invites Rusty to a party he's throwing at his house. In season six, after the failed joint sting operation against The Blue Morpho by the O.S.I. and The Guild, they decide to play a game of "good guys vs. bad guys" volleyball in Rusty's pool.
  • Good Costume Switch: When Sgt. Hatred becomes the new Venture family bodyguard in season four, he not only switches to wearing a Venture Industries suit, but also replaces the "H" tattoo on his face with a "V" tattoo. Better, it used to say "HATRED" down his front, but he removed all but the "D" because that one was "in a tender area". Now it just says "VD"...
  • Hair-Trigger Sound Effect: Throughout season four when Hunter, Brock, and Shoreleave are all part of SPHINX, nearly every mention of SPHINX is met with a chorus going *Sphinx!*. Shoreleave himself parodies it a few times with a lispy Camp Gay version.
  • Hammy Villain, Serious Hero: The Monarch is the hammy Card-Carrying Villain prone to over-the-top speeches and classic "dramatic" villainy foil to Rusty Venture's "hero". Rusty, a jaded former boy adventurer, has Seen It All and the Monarch's villainous theatrics do little more than annoy him. For the first several seasons, Rusty barely acknowledged the Monarch as anything more than the rest of his Rogues Gallery constantly disrupting his life while Monarch has always considered Rusty to be his true Arch-Enemy.
  • Heel–Face Turn: While heroes and villains teaming up in Enemy Mine situations is fairly common, a few villains do flip over to the side of "good" throughout the series. Sgt. Hatred is most prominent, going from Rusty's official arch in season three to his bodyguard in seasons four and five. 21, who had spent most of season four acting as a Noble Top Enforcer anyway, leaves the Monarch in season five... only for SPHINX to immediately fold and turning him into a hermit hiding out on the Venture compound before going back to the Monarch.
  • Heroes "R" Us: The Office of Secret Intelligence provides bodyguards to qualifying "protagonists" as a counter to the Guild's villains. Rusty has Brock (with Sgt. Hatred and Myra Brandish each serving stints), Jonas Sr. had Kano, and Col. Lloyd Venture had Eugene Sandow. When the Monarch is assigned to arch Jonas Jr., he doesn't want to play "the game" and calls the Guild to complain, who direct him to the O.S.I. instead for this reason.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: More pairs of them than you can shake a super-science stick at.
    • Brock has been serving as Rusty's bodyguard for most of the boys' lives, with many indications that they've become genuine friends during that time. When Brock leaves for seasons four and five, Sgt. Hatred takes over the role as both bodyguard and closest friend.
    • Pete White and Billy Quizboy have become this to such an extent that they are Mistaken for Gay by many people (including Billy's mom). They've lived together for as long as Brock has been serving as the Venture family bodyguard and by the end of the series, don't even bother correcting people who assume they're a couple.
    • Monarch Henchmen #21 and #24. They're inseparable Bumbling Henchmen Duo Mauve Shirts whose Hypothetical Fight Debate are the stuff of legend. At least until 24 dies at the end of season three. Part of the reason that it was such a shocking Wham Episode is because it broke up a pair of these, which was directly stated in the DVD commentary by the creators. Leads to pretty dramatic Character Development in 21.
    • The Guild agents Watch and Ward are never seen apart, practically being two halves of the same character. "Operation P.R.O.M." offers the strong possibility that Watch is gay (Ward doesn't seem to mind, though), but this trope allows one or both of the 'life partners' to be homosexual, as long as there is no actual romantic link between them.
    • Mr. Doe and Mr. Cardholder are the O.S.I. equivalents of Watch and Ward, having apparently worked together for a very long time and are often Finishing Each Other's Sentences. They turn out to be Guild moles in season four.
    • Tim Tom and Kevin, the Murderous Moppets and later Pupa Twins. They served as Dr. Girlfriend's henchmen when she was the solo villain Lady Au Pair and are basically never seen apart, sharing a penchant for sadism.
  • Highly-Conspicuous Uniform: The Monarch's Mooks wear bright yellow uniforms with ridiculous oversized butterfly wings on the back. 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: Jonas Sr. dragged Rusty along on all of his dangerous adventures as a Science Hero since Rusty "could pee standing up". Rusty suffered no shortage of injuries (physical or psychological) and even died before being brought back as a clone like his own boys. He's now a jaded, cynical has-been and brings his own boys along, inflicting this on them as well. In season four, he joins a therapy group that includes other former "boy adventurers" and child sidekicks, showing that this idea is deeply ingrained in the setting.
  • Historical Domain Superperson: The series is rife with examples, befitting an Alternate History universe complete with '60s-era Super Science! and real Functional Magic. To note:
  • Historical In-Joke: A favorite trope of the creators who work these liberally in throughout the series, including some very obscure ones that avert Small Reference Pools. See specific examples on the Recap pages for the episodes in which they appear.
  • Historical Relationship Overhaul:
  • Hypocritical Humor: Throughout the series, Dr. Orpheus always refers to Rusty as "Mr. Venture", owing to his lack of a legitimate doctorate. Orpheus does not have a doctorate from any legitimate educational institution either, with his title apparently having been "bestowed by a higher power".

  • Iconic Sequel Character:
    • Sgt. Hatred didn't appear until late in season two and didn't get much characterization until season three. Come seasons four and five, he is a main character as the new Venture family bodyguard and is present in almost every episode. He takes a step back a little in seasons six and seven, but remains prominent in many episodes.
    • Dermott didn't appear until season three but then became a main cast staple, appearing nearly as often as the Venture bros. themselves in seasons four and five. He then gets Put on a Bus when the family moves to New York in season six before making a single appearance in season seven after having joined the O.S.I.
  • Incompetence, Inc.: Venture Industries has been in freefall since Jonas Sr. died, and by the time of the first season, is a shell of its former glory, with little more than a dilapidated compound and a tiny handful of employees (mostly Rusty himself) to keep the lights on (mostly by completing/tweaking unfinished projects left over by Jonas Sr.). "The Doctor Is Sin" suggests that they haven't had a single significant breakthrough in decades. When they do get some work from Jonas Jr. to build the ray shields for the Gargantua-2 space station, Rusty has to bring on dozens of unpaid interns from State University (accepting all that applied) to build it.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain:
    • The Monarch started off as this, mostly being a lame joke villain based around butterflies who could attempt the "classic evil scheme" tropes on the Venture family and, usually, end up as a punching bag for Brock. However, the creators found their intended initial Big Bad, Baron Ünderbheit, to be too much of a one-note Evil Overlord and found the Monarch more interesting to write for. Over the course of season two, he grows into a Not-So-Harmless Villain, and by later in the series, is a full-blown "level ten" supervillain.
    • Numerous others appear in group shots and backgrounds throughout the series as low-level Guild villains. For example, the recurring villain Brick Frog is literally a guy in a frog costume who throws bricks, existing for comedic value. He is far from the only one.
    • The Guild's "equally matched aggression" ranking system was started when one of these, a pugilist/fisticuffs-themed villain named Turnbuckle, decided to "arch" the original Team Venture and took Rusty hostage. The Action Man, in a serious case of Disproportionate Retribution, pistol-whipped Turnbuckle's skull in and then finished him with a bullet to the brain. To prevent any more situations like this, the Guild strictly regulates who villains get to arch based on their "EMA level", which is determined via a combination of factors including the villain's own prowess, their wealth, their technology, and how many henchmen they have in their employ. The aforementioned Brick Frog is "level one", while someone like Red Death (a Grim Reaper-themed villain with a Sinister Scythe who can disintigrate entire armies) is a "level ten".
  • Ink-Suit Actor:
    • A Zig-zagged example with the duo Pete White and Billy Quizboy, who look a lot like creators Doc Hammer and Chris McCulloch (AKA Jackson Publick) respectively, with added deformities (Pete being an albino while Billy is a hydrocephalic). The "Zag" comes in because each character is voiced by the other creator.
    • In the "Go Team Venture! The Art and Making of the Venture Bros" book, Jackson and Doc mention multiple times that when they're stuck creatively, they'll create two new characters as avatars to banter to each other with, and both Henchmen #21 & #24 and White & Quizboy are a result of this practice. They also say that it's purely coincidental they look like the two - though White and Quizboy were both conceived early on in the show's development.
  • Kid Hero All Grown-Up: Deconstructed as part of the basis of the show, in line with being a Dark Parody to Jonny Quest, is Rusty being one of these. A childhood of "boy adventurer" trauma (including his death and being revived as a clone, likely repeatedly) has left him a bitter, jaded, and cynical adult with loads of Freudian Excuses who is Conditioned to Accept Horror. He takes a lot of it out by putting his own boys through the same lifestyle, complete with deaths and cloning, at least until a much-needed Heel Realization brings out more of his "heart of gold" tendences, even if he's still pretty outwardly abrasive toward them.
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Subverted at the end of season one, where it appears that the eponymous brothers themselves have been killed. In the season two premeire, it's revealed that this is far from the first time that has happened, and Rusty simply uploads their memories (collected from their "learning beds") into clones.
    • While it doesn't happen quite often enough to qualify as Anyone Can Die, the series has killed off it's fair share of prominent characters over the seasons, often in Wham Episodes. Henchman 24, Jonas Jr., General Treister, Doe and Cardholder, the Investors...
  • Lampshade Hanging: Constantly throughout the series. The creators are well aware of TV Tropes and even mention some tropes by name in the DVD commentary. Specific examples can be found on the series Recap pages for the episode in which they take place.
  • Large Ham: A prominent trait among nearly every Guild villain seen in the series. Loud, dramatic Evil Gloating, variations of Evil Laughs, wearing Contractual Genre Blindness as a badge of honor... the list of villains who avert this is far shorter. Lampshaded at one point when the Monarch tries to give a dramatic "MARK MY WORDS!" threatening speech in front of a party full of other villains, to which Sgt. Hatred cuts him off and reminds him that they're all villains and they've each given those speeches hundreds of times.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: 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.
  • Less Embarrassing Term: Rusty insistently refers to the jumpsuits he commonly wears throughout the series as "speed suits". He is quick to chastise those who call them "jumpsuits".
  • Limited Wardrobe: Most of the cast have one outfit that they almost always seen wearing. Even on the high side, a few characters might have two or three at most, like Brock. Lampshaded in "Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean" by the Monarch commenting on Hank's desire to change his clothes.
  • The Load: Hank and Dean, most of the time in the early seasons. They get better as the show goes on, Downplaying it as Hank becomes braver and more physically capable, while Dean becomes more crafty. They're both still largely incompetent (Hank being bookdumb and Dean being naive), so they never quite outgrow this trope.
  • Love Interest: While it's more common for Brock, Rusty, or even occasionally the boys to have a Girl of the Week, there have been a few recurring love interests throughout the series:
    • Molotov Cocktease for Brock in the earlier seasons, stated to be the one woman he's ever loved. This is seemingly not the case as of the latest seasons, since while she and Brock are technically on the same side, she's deceived and betrayed him multiple times, and hasn't appeared since season five.
    • Triana Orpheus for Dean, also in earlier seasons. It was kept ambiguous as to whether or not she had any romantic interest in him until season four when it's revealed that she doesn't, and she and Dean mutually decide not to pursue a relationship and still be friends when she moves to go live with her mom. However, when she accompanies Dean to prom as his friend in the season finale and when he gets overly jealous about her now having a boyfriend, she leaves in a huff, and has not appeared since.note .
    • Dr. Girlfriend (later Dr. Mrs. The Monarch) for The Monarch throughout the show's whole run. They were dating at the beginning of the series, broke up at the end of season one, Monarch spent all of season two trying to win her back, and succeeds by the end of the season, ever since which they have been married.
    • In seasons six and seven, Sirena Ong for Hank. It has to remain a Secret Relationship due to her father, Chester Ong/Wide Wale, being a Boyfriend-Blocking Dad and supervillain who happens to be Dr. Venture's official arch-enemy.
    • Also in Seasons six and seven, Warriana for Brock, who proves to be quite the Amazon Chaser.
  • Love Redeems: Subverted by the Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend, who 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. Confirmed to be a an intentional Subversion in the creator commentary for the DVDs.

  • Machine Empathy: Brock 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."
  • Made of Plasticine: Just about everybody who goes up against Brock, notably the Monarch's Mooks and even more so Sargent Hatred's Mooks. It reaches Mook Horror Show levels of slaughter with severed limbs and gushing blood very quickly.
  • Mad Scientist: A legitimate career in the Venture-verse, for both heroes and villains alike. Jonas Venture Sr. is perhaps the greatest and most famous, with his father (Lloyd Venture) also stated by Rusty to have been a "super-scientist", while Rusty is utterly failing to live up to the family legacy. Crosses over with Omnidisciplinary Scientist as well, as they work on fields as wide-ranging as nuclear physics, space travel, biology, and advanced engineering.
  • Magic Versus Science: Part of the quiet ongoing rivalry between Rusty and Orpheus. While not outright hostile toward one another, Rusty constantly refers to Orpheus as things like a "snake charmer" who performs "party tricks", while believing that the "magic" he performs can be explained scientifically. Comes to a head in "Return to the House of Mummies: Part II" when they challenge each other to "shrink themselves". (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.) However, when it comes to magical threats like angry ghosts or an apparent poltergeist, Rusty is quick (if still snarky about it) to enlist Orpheus' aid.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe:
    • Inverted with the Venture brothers themselves. It's clear that Rusty is their real father, however, the identiy of their mother is only alluded to throughout the series. Myra's first appearance in season two implies that she's their mother, but later in season five, it's revealed that she was just delusional and isn't really related to them at all. Finally, in the Finale Movie, we learn Rusty harvested eggs from Debbie St. Simone, daughter of family friend Bobbi St. Simone, in exchange for trasferring Bobbi's invisibility superpower to Debbie so she could become a villain. While Debbie is their biological mother, Rusty actually "carried" them in an artificial womb.
    • Zig-zagged with Dermott, whose mother led him to believe that Brock was his father. Later, when Hank, the Alchemist, and Dr. Orpheus do some investigating, they learn that Dermott is wrong about both his mother and his father. His "mother" is actually his grandmother, and his "sister" Nikki is his biological mother. Furthermore, his biological dad is not Brock, but Rusty. Dermott himself later learns this (about Rusty at least) in season five, even calling Rusty "dad" to his (and Hank and Dean's) surprise.
    • It is heavily implied in seasons six/seven that the Blue Morpho's child by his wife (Malcolm/the Monarch) is not actually his, but Jonas's biological son. The Finale Movie further twists it, revealing that Malcolm is a slightly altered Rusty clone. How Jonas handed him over is left unclear.
  • The Men in Black: The O.S.I. "Misters" are this crossed with elements of Internal Affairs, dressed in black suits and hats. They respond to "problem children" like Jonas Jr., who refuse to play "the game" between the O.S.I. and Guild, answering calls as if they're a dry cleaning service before showing up, tranq-ing uninvolved civilians, and bringing the individual in line. They're also shown investigating internal matters to the O.S.I. (like their loss of Molotov and Monstroso in season five) and overseeing O.S.I./Guild/Other similar organizations joint investigations (as in "Any Which Way But Zeus"). The ones we see all have a "Mister X" naming convention, with the "X" being a generic placeholder name (Doe, Cardholder, Yourname, Sample, etc.)
  • Misblamed: Baron Underbeit was Rusty's laboratory partner at college, and became Rusty's enemy after being disfigured in a laboratory explosion that was actually caused by a young Monarch trying to kill Rusty.
  • Missing Mom:
    • Rusty's mother is never even referred to, one of many Freudian Excuses he has regarding his father. Given the confirmation in the Finale Movie that he was cloned by his father, it is possible that, just like his own boys, he has no true "mother".
    • Hank and Dean's mother is left a mystery for nearly the entire series. After brief indications that it could be Rusty's former bodyguard Myra Brandish or Dr. Quymn, the Finale Movie finally reveals that their biological mother is Debbie St. Simone, daughter of Bobbi St. Simone (one of Jonas Sr.'s flings) and the then-leader of the Guild, Force Majeure. She traded Rusty some of her eggs in exchange for his help in transferring her mother's invisibility powers. Rusty then carried them in an artifical womb.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Given the closeness of their working relationship, this happens to Rusty with his bodyguards, both Brock and Hatred, on several occasions. They're all quick to correct it when it happens.
  • Mixed Metaphor:
    • Seems to happen at least once per episode, in large part due to the prevalence of Buffy Speak. See the series Recap pages for specific instances.
    • Many character names, especially villains, have double meaning names that often cross this over with Punny Names. A few notable examples include Fat Chance (both a saying and an obese man with an "enigma hole" in his belly that produces random items), Radical Left (both a term for extreme far-left political beliefs and a Two-Faced man with a messed up left side), and Phantom Limb (a medical condition affecting amputees and a man with invisible limbs).
  • Mocky Mouse: Roy Brisby's character "Bizzy Bee" is a cartoon bee with many obvious visual similarities to Mickey Mouse, including as the mascot for the Disney World-esque theme park "Brisbyland". It gets focus in the season one episode "The Incredible Mr. Brisby" and appears in the background throughout the series.
  • Mook Horror Show: Brock puts these on repeatedly throughout the series, earning him the nickname "Slayer of Henchmen" from the Monarch's crew. Regular henchmen, Guild Strangers... it doesn't matter. He often ends up as a Blood-Splattered Warrior after, showcasing the extent of the carnage.
  • Mooks: The henchmen of the Guild villains. They're nameless, typically faceless rabble expected to swarm the "protagonists" en masse and often die in droves. They don't have nearly as many of the protections the Guild provides to the full-fledged villains, either. The Monarch henchmen (except 21 and 24, at least for the first three seasons in the latter's case) get it especially bad with easily hundreds dying over the course of the series.
  • Mr. Alt Disney: Roy Brisby, creator of Bizzy Bee and Brisbyland, is a darker Walt Disney. Unlike the Urban Legend of Disney allegedly using cryogentics to extend his life, Brisby is looking for Dr. Venture's help to clone him a new body, instead.
  • Muggles Do It Better: Zig-zagged. While not without exceptions, Badass Normals like Brock, Molotov, and various O.S.I. agents tend be more effective and leave higher body counts that their superpowered enemies and peers. However, at least from the perspective of the Guild, villains are limited with rules and regulations preventing them from using the full extent of their abilities and resources in order to avoid an Escalating War situation with the O.S.I., who allows them to exist since they reign-in the "pissed off nut-jobs" by pitting them against "protagonist" arches who can either defend themselves or get assigned O.S.I. bodyguards. Without such measures, these powered villains would likely wreak untold havoc upon the world, even beyond what the O.S.I. could deal with.
  • Never Found the Body: The creators have stated numerous times in the DVD commentary that unless you actually see a character die on-screen, do not assume they're really dead. Prominent examples include Henchman #1/Scott Hall, who appears to die twice in seasons three and four, but comes back to join the Revenge Society and is Killed Off for Real in "All This and Gargantua-2" and Molotov/Monstroso at the end of "Operation P.R.O.M.", who are both alive and well come season five.
  • 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 season itself, 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.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: If a character isn't a Historical Domain Character, Captain Ersatz, Corrupted Character Copy, or an outright expy, they are probably one of these. Prominent examples include Dr. Henry Killinger, Col. Hunter Gathers, and Col. Lloyd Venture. Others can be found listed on the appropriate character pages.
  • No Dead Body Poops: Repeatedly averted throughout the series. For example, when Race Bannon dies, he craps his pants. Ned, the mentally challenged Thing expy craps his pants when he sees a revolting alien's true form. The orphans trapped beneath the Venture compound store their excrement is an old ICBM. Rusty also notes at one point that he suffers from irritable bowel syndrome.
  • No Delays for the Wicked: Subverted and Deconstructed. The Guild of Calamitous Intent's labyrinthine rules for "arching" are designed to reign in the villains under their purview. New members aren't allowed to select their own arches (unless you bribe them), there is endless red tape and "hoops to jump through" for villains trying to move around in the Guild ranks, and their leadership is so hidebound that they follow their rules to a self-destructive "tee". The Monarch constantly bristles at the rules and lampshades how nonsensical much of it is. Come the "All This and Gargantua-2" pre-season six special, Dr. Killinger recognizes these flaws and, through a complex Gambit Pileup, clears out much of the old leadership and paves the way for a renewed Guild with fresh leadership... while still preventing the Monarch from rising in the ranks or getting to officially arch Rusty.
  • Noodle Implements: The O.S.I. helicarrier has "The Nozzle", an odd device with what appears to be a scanner on a gyroscopic, telescoping arm, that shows up in a few episodes. No one, not even Hunter Gathers, has any idea what it does.
    Master Billy Quizboy: What the Hell was that thing?
    Col. Hunter Gathers: I have no idea.
  • Noodle Incident: The reason the Monarch hates Dr. Venture. We know that Monarch first attempted to "arch" him in college (by blowing him up with a bomb) and that they apparently played together as children, with Rusty once taking a toy from Monarch. It gets lampshaded when the Pupa twins ask Dr. Mrs the Monarch what happened and she answers them with a long speech that tells them absolutely nothing. The Finale Movie implies that Monarch incorrectly thinks that Rusty slept with his college girlfriend, Debbie. Given that they dated in college and the Monarch confirms in "Shadowman 9" that his first attempt on Rusty's life came in college, it seems that this may be the reason. 21 pretty much accepts it, but the Monarch doesn't confirm it.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Monarch and Rusty, despite their animosity, are much more alike than either would care to admit. After leaving the Monarch's organization in season five, 21 helps out Rusty with a crisis on the compound and, after a Rusty Jerkass moment, states that working for Rusty is basically the same as working for the Monarch. In the episode "The Devil's Grip", the two reflect on their lives and realize that they have a lot in common. Come the Finale Movie, we learn that Monarch is actually a slightly altered Rusty clone, bringing this trope to its literal extreme.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain:
    • The Monarch is practically a case study in the trope. He starts out as a Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain who can really only annoy Dr. Venture, essentially being a punching bag for Brock whose henchmen die in droves every time. Over the course of the second season, he reunites with (and eventually marries) the actually competent Dr. Girlfriend and then, while barred from arching Venture, makes a habit out of killing his new arches too quickly that gets him in trouble with the Guild. He pulls off a successful Batman Gambit to be allowed to arch Venture once again in seasons four and five, but after a series of setbacks (while Venture catches a massive break), falls below Venture's level and is once again arch-blocked by higher-level villains. He adopts the Blue Morpho identity that his father once used to be an Anti-Hero and sets off taking out the other villains between he and Venture with such success that the Guild puts a massive bounty on his head. Finally, by the end of the series, he is promoted to a level ten villain, the highest he can go, and the events of the Finale Movie make it so that even the Guild couldn't stop him from arching Venture.
    • This is the case for most of the villains in the Guild. The Guild's rules essentially enforce things like Contractual Genre Blindness and Even Evil Has Standards on their villains to keep them from being too destructive, while also having the Equally Matched Aggression system that pairs villains and their "protagonist" arches to ensure they are on relatively equal footing. As Brock points out in "The Lepidopterists", these are people with legitimate superpowers, advanced technology, and henchman armies who could wreak untold havoc if allowed to operate unchecked.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Repeatedly parodied/lampshaded with several characters. Rusty dropped out of college, meaning he doesn't even have an undergraduate degree, but uses the "Dr." title based on an honorary degree he got in Tijuana. Despite this, he has the knowledge of an Omnidisciplinary Scientist and, when able to get past his Brilliant, but Lazy tendencies, can perform feats in multiple scientific fields including biology (harvesting kidneys from the boys after his were stolen, cloning them, etc.) Orpheus claims he got his "Dr." title from "a higher source", but does have an earthly bachelor's degree in communications with a minor in women's studies. Dr. Girlfriend (later Dr. Mrs. the Monarch) does have a legitimate doctorate in physics, meaning that, while she is a villain, she's not just another example of Morally Ambiguous Doctorate. Billy, meanwhile, has an illegitimate medical doctorate thanks to doing a favor for Monstroso, but even without it, is one of the most skilled surgeons in the world with incredible knowledge of anatomy.
  • Obliviously Evil: Dr. Venture never seemed to realize that his huge accumulation of horrible deeds and For Science! thinking could qualify him as "a bad person". After Dr. Killinger gives him a Heel Realization in "The Doctor is Sin", he shows some improvement over the rest of the series. While he can still be selfish and abrasive, he does care about the boys a bit more and takes steps to work through his many Freudian Excuses, like going to therapy.
  • Off Screen Moment Of Awesome: Used frequently, often in tandem with the series' penchant for Anticlimaxes. Two sides of a fight (often including Brock) are shown, but the fight itself is continuously cut away from to showcase other characters antics before cutting back to the aftermath. The build-up to these fight scenes, with no payoff, fits neatly into the show's Central Theme of "failure".
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You:
    • Throughout the series, the Monarch does not take it well when other villains arch Rusty. Early on, he meets (after some initial bluster) with Baron Ünderbheit to discuss this, with the dispute being arbitrated by The Guild of Calamitous Intent. Later, the first time he is blocked from arching Rusty, he first performs a Batman Gambit on Jonas Jr. in order to be allowed to arch JJ's "guild-sanctioned relatives", including Rusty. Come season six, after Rusty inherits JJ's company and becomes a prime arch candidate while Monarch loses almost everything but his wife and 21, he is blocked again. He takes on the Blue Morpho persona of his father in order to take out the villains between he and Rusty, finally getting him back as an official arch at the end of the series.
    • Similarly, Molotov feels this way about Brock (when they aren't making out), repeatedly aiding him throughout the series just so other people don't get the pleasure of killing him.
      Molotov: "You know I'd never let anyone kill my Samson. That is my job."
  • Out of Focus: Quite a few characters go from frequent appearances to few, if any, at different points through the series' run. Specific examples can be found on the applicable character pages.
  • People Jars: The Hank and Dean clones are stored in such containers within the Venture compound.
  • Perky Goth: Triana Orpheus, with the twist that her single father is a Nice Guy Large Ham Necromancer.
  • Ping Pong Naïveté: Hank and Dean, about sex, reality in general, and (at least in the early seasons) the fact that Brock kills people in front of them regularly. May have something to do with those learning beds, which Dr. Venture believes screwed up his own social life. This is 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 grounded and well-rounded the longer they're alive.
  • Plot Armor: Discussed on several occasions by Henchmen 21 and 24, with both 21 and the Monarch outright stating at different points in season three that the two of them "can't die". Just as they practically become main characters, 24 loses his and dies in the season three finale, sending 21 down a path of serious Character Development.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Joycan, a Lotus-Eater Machine, is the Trope Namer courtesy of Dr. Orpheus' response to Rusty's use of (part of) an orphan in its construction.
  • Power Levels: In-universe, the Guild ranks villains using an "E.M.A. Rating" (which stands for "Equally Matched Aggression") to pair them with arches of an equal threat level and avoid horrific Curb Stomp Battles (in either direction). Villains with super powers/advanced technology, vast resources, and henchmen armies are highly rated (up to "level ten"), going down from there to "level one" Harmless Villains at the bottom. The Monarch, for example, starts off as a level seven, but after the loss of his cocoon, most of his henchmen, and his wealth, drops to level four by season six.
  • Punch-Clock Villain:
    • Many of the Guild villains are of the card-carrying variety, at least while on the clock. After, most of them are perfectly cordial with each other and their "arches", crossing over with Villains Out Shopping and Go-Karting with Bowser. The Monarch not being one of these is seen as a major exception.
    • Nearly all henchmen seen throughout the series are normal people in their "off time". They have hobbies and interests outside of villainy, and usually do not "hate" their bosses' arches, treating their activities like most people treat their normal jobs.

  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Largely averted as most characters include a realistic amount of "ums", "ahs", and pauses in their dialogue, as well as them interrupting each other and trailing off. Goes hand-in-hand with the show's tendency toward Buffy Speak, as some of the most prominent examples include Henchman 21 and Billy who are prone to this as well, and quite a few characters say "like" a lot.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: How Brock, one of the O.S.I.'s top agents, ended up bodyguarding the washed-up, has-been Dr. Venture. He and Col. Gathers were getting too close in their investigation of the Guild, so an O.S.I. officer named Haine Actually Sgt. Hatred assigned Brock to "rookie stuff" in Venture while sending Gathers to Guam.
  • Red Herring: The series loves to drop these, only to heavily play with them down the line in line with its penchant toward Anticlimaxes. Notable examples include Brock as Dermott's father, Myra as Hank and Dean's mother, and Scare Bear as... well, anything.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Between the two most recent Venture body guards. To illustrate, Brock is a fit, One-Man Army, and man of few words while Sgt. Hatred on the other hand is an overweight, pistol-wielding, fellow who talks a lot.
    • Dean and Hank are shaping into this as their characters continue to grow. Dean is becoming more skeptical, pragmatic, and passive, while Hank is becoming more headstrong, confident, and aggressive.
  • Red Right Hand: Extremely common on the show with almost every single villain, and even a sizable portion of the heroes, having some kind of freakish physical trait. Notable examples are Phantom Limb, whose arms and legs are invisible, and Scaramantula, who has eight fingers (and an abnormal amount of hair) 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 O.S.I.'s basic troopers in the shiny, smooth armor tend to die as easily as most villain henchmen. The largely exist to give the "good guys" someone who can be killed without sacrificing a named character.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless:
    • Zig-zagged with Dr. Venture over the course of the series. Early on, he actually does come up with some functional inventions (either his own creations like the Joy Can or completing/continuing his father's unfinished work like the cloning tech), but between the combination of his For Science! attitude, greed, laziness, and Freudian Excuses, most of them have terrible side-effects (like the Joy Can being Powered by a Forsaken Child and the Vaccuum Boom-Broom leaking radiation) that kill any practical applications. He also never considers selling cloned organs, though given what we see of the technology (the clone slugs seem to grow in real-time, so it wouldn't be very fast) and it's explicit illegality, it's likely he wouldn't have been able to do so anyway. When he finally does come up with a working, (mostly) side-effect free invention (the teleporter in season seven), the O.S.I. attempts to confiscate it as The World Is Not Ready (and it ends up being stolen by the Guild).
    • Defied by Jonas Jr. Rather than follow in the Awesome, but Impractical "super-science" footsteps of his father (and attempts by his brother), he created a billion dollar tech company with inventions like smart phones, tablets, and operating systems. While he still does some bigger, more impressive work like Gargantua-2, he evidently makes his money with the more Boring, but Practical stuff. In season six, when he dies and leaves the company to Rusty, it is revealed that he outright shuddered the super-science R&D department. Rusty shuts down the other operations and re-opens R&D... resulting in a massive stock plunge for the company.
  • Reestablishing Character Moment: After failing to kill even a defenseless Dr. Venture in season four's "Bright Lights, Dean City", the Revenge Society is shown in The Stinger of season five's "Bot Seeks Bot" working with noted Ace and Evil Mentor Dr. Killinger. In a Training Montage at the start of the pre-season six special "All This and Gargantua-2", he is shown helping them to greatly improve their powers, like helping Prof. Impossible to use his Rubber Man powers as Voluntary Shapeshifting to impersonate others and Fat Chance to control what he pulls out of his belly button "Enigma Hole", ahead of their planned assault on the episode's eponymous space station.
  • Revealing Continuity Lapse: Using several points of referencenote  in the show, the series takes place over the course of a little over two years in-universe (despite 20 passing in real life from pilot to Finale Movie). However, all throughout, flashbacks to Rusty's childhood as a "boy adventurer" show him to be his (roughly) 10 year-old self despite up to a decade passing between some of the events. For example, he appears to be the same age when the Action Man kills Turnbuckle in 1966, Rusty helps his father build Gargantua-1 in 1971, and Kano kills Venturion in 1976. He is also shown to be a standard-aged college student when his father dies in 1987. If he was 10 years old during the '60s, he would have been much older at that time. In the first season, which debuted in 2004, Rusty claims (without appering to be deceitful) to be in his mid-40's, meaning he couldn't have been 10+ when some of these events took place. It was easy for most of the series to either Hand Wave it as the characters giving the dates being non-specific (about 40 years ago, about 50 years ago, etc.) or to accept it as a Series Continuity Error... until season seven's "The Inamorata Consequence" where it is strongly implied that like his own boys, Rusty was repeated cloned by his father after dying. The series Finale Movie then outright confirms it.
  • Rewatch Bonus: The series is chock-full of them. Early Bird Cameos, Foreshadowing many seasons in advance, Call Backs to throwaway gags or one-off jokes... All are much easier to pick up the second time through and noted in the appropriate recap pages.
  • Rule-Breaker Rule-Namer: The Guild has several hostage-related regulations named after Rusty since he was constantly getting kidnapped as a boy hero, such as "Rusty's Law" ensuring that hostages are freed to deal with untreated medical emergencies.
  • Rule of Funny: In the various DVD commentaries and other interviews, Doc and Chris have stated that this is the defining "rule" of the show. They write whatever is funniest at the time, then tie it into the show's continuity later.
  • Running Gag:
    • Henchman 24's "powder blue Nissan Stanza" and it's status as an Alleged Car is brought up several times in seasons two and three. It even comes up again in a flashback after 24 dies in a "for sale" ad.
    • Henchman 21 complaining that "nobody tells me things" over the first three seasons about various parts of his Monarch equipment, which he thinks are purely for show. It turns out the wings are actually functional, the Utility Belt is full of useful gadgets and armaments, and his rifle shoots Tranquillizer Darts, to name a few.
    • Creators Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick have a few of these throughout the DVD commentaries. Throughout season three, at the beginning of every commentary, Doc told the viewer that 24 dies at the end of the season. 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. Likewise, they make numerous jokes at the expense of Adult Swim and Cartoon Network throughout the seasons.
    • There are plenty of episode-specific examples as well, covered on the applicable recap pages.
  • Sadist Show:
    • The creators have outright stated that the Central Theme of the show is "failure". As such, the show is a full blown Dysfunction Junction where just about every character has serious flaws, hangups, and psychological disorders. On top of it, many are Deconstructed Character Archetypes of famous figures in fiction, showing how they would all fare incredibly poorly in the real world. Very rarely do we get to see the big, exciting payoffs seen in the source genres the series deconstructs, resulting in plentiful Anticlimaxes. To illustrate how dedicated the creators are to this concept, take for a specific example Pete White. A disgraced former game show host, he lives in a trailer, the standard home of losers in fiction. In the trailer's first 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. And it's in a very sunny climate, which would be perfectly lovely for most people, but he's an albino. When hits rock bottom in "The Invisible Hand of Fate", he just sits on his own doorstep until he turns the color of raw hamburger.
    • Starting around season four, the creators started to subvert this as often as they played it straight, showing how some of these "doomed" individuals can find ways to achieve smaller, more personal successes, like Rusty addressing some of his issues via therapy and starting to care more about the boys as his legacy. Hank and Dean are moving on and showing signs that they'll finally break this cycle and either be successful, or at least not be so psychologically damaged by it. The creators have highlighted this subversion in the commentaries, stating that they want the show to be about more than failure and give its characters some victories as a result.
  • Science Hero: "Super-scientist" is a legitimate career in the Venture-verse, being something of a cross between a Gentleman Adventurer and an Omnidisciplinary Scientist, usually with a very For Science! attitude. Rusty's father and grandfather were both these, with Jonas Jr. coming much closer to their legacy than Rusty ever does.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: The show is very dialogue-heavy. A large chunk of it consists of nerdy trivia, Shout-Out references, and plentiful Buffy Speak. This gets taken up a notch by 21 and 24, who often get into a "Cavemen vs. Astronauts" Debate and/or Hypothetical Fight Debates on top of this. Per the creator commentary, many of these conversations are based on ones Doc and Chris have had in real life.
  • Sequel Hook: Each season finale has one of these. In fact, seasons one and especially three end with full-on Cliffhanger 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?"
  • Series Continuity Error: The series is very good about continuity for the most part, but there are still a couple of examples:
    • In "Victor. Echo. November." in season two, Hank remembers Billy operating on Dean to fix his testicular torsion in "Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean", even though, as a season one episode, this actually happened to their clones who died, implying that Hank and Dean still have memory of this through their memory beds. However, in the pre-season six special "All This and Gargantua-2", when Billy brings this up, Hank doesn't remember it and asks when that happened, before concluding it must have happened to their clones, suggesting they don't have memories of this.
    • Related to the above, Hank in the former episode mentions Billy operating on "your balls, Dean", which suggests that this happened only to Dean and ignores the Here We Go Again! moment at the end of the original episode that implies that Hank also got testicular torsion. Billy's words in the latter episode to Hank about fixing "you and your brother's" testicular torsion, however, do acknowledge this moment and apparently confirm that it happened to both boys.
    • In "Everybody Comes to Hank's" in season four, Dr. Orpheus is among the people who finds out that Dermott's father is Dr. Venture. However in "Momma's Boys" in season five, Dr. Orpheus no longer seems to know this and is confused by the fact that he could hear Dermott's call for help as if he was one of the Venture brothers.
    • In season seven's "The Unicorn in Captivity", Dr. Venture states that he wants to have enough money to retire to "Spanakopita", clearly referencing the events of the season five episode of the same name. However, it was an actual plot point in that episode that "Spanakopita" was the name of the made-up holiday, which itself was named after a type of pie, and the name of the island itself is Spanakos. Rusty is essentially stating here that he wants to retire to the holiday or the pie, rather than to the island like he presumably meant.
  • Shared Universe: The events of Jonny Quest are canon to The Venture Brothers, at least in the first two seasons before Warner Bros. (who owns both properties), hoping to revive the Jonny Quest franchise, forced them to stop. As of season three, the Quest characters were altered slightly into Writing Around Trademarks versions ("Action Johnny", "Dr. Z", "Radji") for the rest of the series. A conversation between Rusty and Johnny in season five's "Self-Medication" implies that Scooby-Doo is canonical to the universe as well (another Warner Bros. property), which is amusing considering that psychotic Spoofy-Doo expies of the Mystery Inc. crew appeared in season two's "¡Viva los Muertos!".
  • Ship Tease: The status of Pete White and Billy Quizboy as Mistaken for Gay Heterosexual Life-Partners has been milked for a good number of jokes in the fandom. In "The Silent Partners", Shoreleve even sarcastically quips "Oh yeah, friend. Friend." in reference to their relationship. Those making the jokes include Jackson Publick himself quipping that they "do it in [his] fanfiction". Given allegorical versions of themselves have made out by request as of season four, it appears 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 on?"
    Jackson: "Like they do in my fan stories."
    Doc: "Like I read on the internet."
  • Shout-Out: So many that the series has its own page. The Episode Recaps also list the shout-outs from each episode.
  • Shown Their Work: The creators have a deep knowledge about a wide variety of topics that they work into the series regularly. You can bet that these references, be they a Shout-Out, Historical In-Joke, Historical Domain Character, or something else along those lines, are nearly always well-researched and accurate. Specific examples can be found on the appropriate episode Recap pages.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Though they initially start out closer to Single-Minded Twins, Hank and Dean grow toward opposite ends of the temperament scale as the series goes on with Hank becoming more of a foolhardy jock and Dean becoming quieter and more reserved. It is also implied that this might be the longest they've ever gone without having to be resurrected as clones, which may factor into it.
  • The '60s: The decade is a significant source of Author Appeal, with most of the characters drawn from the media of that era, but with modern twists.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Brock's relationship with Molotov Cocktease is.... volatile. Just about every meeting they have in the series begins with a fight before turning into making out, and then usually returning to the fight.
  • Sleek High Rise Apartment: After the death of Jonas Jr., Rusty inherits his estate and quickly moves into a penthouse atop a highrise in the center of New York City. Seasons six and seven (and the Finale Movie) mostly take place there.
  • Sleep Learning: Hank and Dean's beds are stated to be for this purpose, with Jonas Sr. narrating various school topics (originally intended for Rusty, with Rusty edited in at a few points to update the names). Dean has expressed a dislike/fear of this at multiple points, noting that it often gets hot inside the bed. We later learn that the beds double for Brain Uploading, capturing the boys' memories for implant into new clones when they die.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: For a Genre Deconstruction series of the normally "ideal" "youth adventure", Science Hero, costumed heroes/villains, and Spy Fiction genres, the series has a heavy focus on the themes of failure and contians many Anti-Climax moments. However, The Venture Bros. is not quite as cynical as it might seem. In fact, by the time the Finale Movie wraps up, the series ends on a fairly positive note for most of the characters.
  • Small Reference Pools: Deconstructed with extreme prejudice. The creators, as they've stated themselves in the DVD commentary, go out of their way to defy this as often as possible with incredibly obscure nerdy references, Historical In-Jokes, and plenty of Author Appeal toward their eclectic/esoteric interests, and you know they've Shown Their Work too. French literary character Fantômas and occultist Aleister Crowley as founding members of the Guild? Victorian Era "father of bodybuilding" Eugen Sandow as the bodyguard to Lloyd Venture (including a reference to his failed foray into the chocolate industry)? Recordings on gramophone cylinders, James Whistler's "Arrangement in Black and Gold" painting (and it being the basis for The Picture of Dorian Gray), Archimedes of Syracuse, Henry Clay Frick? And all of those are from just one episode. By their own admission, the creators have had to talk each other down from including even more obscure references in the series. Examples from other episodes can be found on the appropriate Recap pages.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Dr. Henry Killinger has only had three major appearances to date (with a few bit appearances in other episodes,) but has made a significant impact on the Venture universe in each. First, by helping to rebuild the Monarch's organization and reunite him with Dr. Girlfriend, setting Monarch down the path of becoming a Not-So-Harmless Villain, and second, giving Rusty Venture a much needed Heel Realization, that eventually helped to bring out more of Rusty's Jerkass with a Heart of Gold tendencies. Then in his third appearance, he slays the Investors and reforms the Guild of Calamitous Intent after the Sovereign's defeat. It is reasonable to say that he has quite likely had the greatest overall impact on the Venture-verse and overall series plot of any living character.
  • Soaperizing: For an animated series drawing from numerous action-oriented genres, there is a big focus on the characters' interpersonal relationships: Rusty (and Brock) (...and Hatred) trying (and failing, or not even trying) to parent the boys, the Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend breaking up then getting back together, 21 mourning 24, and more than a few soapy Everyone Is Related twists.
  • Spoofy-Doo: "¡Viva los Muertos!" features a team of middle-aged mystery solvers who combine the Scooby Gang with infamous criminals from the '60s and '70s. Ted, Fred combined with Ted Bundy, is cheerfully abusive to the others and threatens the wrath of God if they don't obey him. Patty, Daphne combined with Patty Hearst, was abducted by Ted and just wants to see her family again. Val, Velma combined with Valerie Solanas, cynically spouts radical feminist talking points. Sonny, Shaggy combined with David Berkowitz (Son of Sam), is a mentally ill man who hallucinates that their dog Groovy can talk, telling him to kill for some unholy higher power. Ted controls Sonny using "Groovy Treats", which is just Sonny's medication. The group enters the Venture Compound in search of a mystery, assuming that it must be abandoned, only to be killed by Brock for trespassing. Adding another layer is that, according some off-hand conversations between characters, the actual Scooby Doo gang exists within the Venture-verse (and Velma gave Action Johnny herpes).
  • Stock Scream: The classic "Wilhelm Scream" is used quite a few times throughout the series. Given its Genre Deconstruction nature, especially to genres that commonly use that scream, it is likely an intentional homage.
  • Superior Successor: Zig-zagged as both of Dr. Jonas Venture Sr.'s sons are this towards him in different ways, even if he still has the better reputation in-universe:
    • Outwardly, Rusty is a cynical, jaded, massive failure in comparison to his father. however, he's A Lighter Shade of Black at his worst when compared to Jonas Sr. who was an amoral, narcissistic, sociopath that cared for no-one and, at best, saw others as tools/entertainment or, worse, subjects for his experiments. Rusty is no saint but he's got way more heart than his father ever did and is surrounded by friends and family that care deeply for him with Rusty admitting he cares for them too.
    • Jonas Jr. is basically a miniature Jonas Sr. with a conscience, ideals, and discipline when it comes to inventing and usually finishes what he starts. Like Jonas Sr., Jonas Jr. is also a ladies man but is chivalrous and unlike his father wasn't trying to just get in their pants but truly cared about them and was interested in them as people.
  • Supernatural Hotspot Town: The Venture compound is naturally home to all manner of bizarre scientific phenomenon owing to the "super-science" the family has been engaged in for generations. However, it also has its fair share of supernatural elements as well. It is revealed to be built atop an Indian Burial Ground (forcing the family to call Orpheus once a year on the anniversary of a battle to quell their spirits), it attracts an alien visitor in the Grant Galactic Inquisitor (who is later killed by a different alien who comes through a portal the family builds), and the giant graveyard (containing the many villain henchmen killed there over the years as well as numerous dead Hank and Dean clones) is accidentally brought back as zombies in the Halloween episode.
  • Symbolic Wings: The Monarch's henchmen have wings on their costumes as part of the "butterfly" theme. Subverted in season two when they turn out to actually allow flight.
  • Team Hand-Stack: "Go Team Venture" is a zig-zagged case. When done by the original Team Venture, all do it with two fingers raised in a "V" when they're about to join together in a battle, it's an awesome gesture with special effects and a special Leitmotif. By the time of the series proper, only Hank and Dean still do it by touching their V'ed fingers together in a victory celebration after the adventure, and it comes across as incredibly lame, subverting it. On a select few occasions, Rusty is goaded into doing it after something awesome (like with Billy after finding ORB) or touching {with Jonas Jr. about to perform a Heroic Sacrifice), double-subverting it.
  • Technical Euphemism: The members of the Guild of Calamitous Intent hate the terms "good guy" and "bad guy", and would rather say "protagonist" and "antagonist" instead. (Still, they have no issue with calling themselves "villains" and most even take pride in that fact).
  • There Are No Therapists:
    • Subverted in that there actually are therapists, but Rusty has long refused to go because Jonas Sr., 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. When he finally does go to one in season four who has a "former boy adventurer support group", it actually does seem to help Rusty... at least until the Monarch has the therapist killed so Rusty doesn't have an excuse to get out of arching. 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, have more faith in chemicals than they do in words and emotions.
    • Dr. Orpheus provides a unique brand of mental-spiritual healing from time to time, like for Brock in "¡Viva los Muertos!" and Rusty in "Assisted Suicide".
    • Dr. Killinger functions as a therapist in his appearances, serving as a relationship councilor between the Monarch and Dr. Mrs. the Monarch that eventually leads to their marriage, gives Rusty a much-needed Heel Realization in "The Doctor is Sin", and helps mend/build-up the Revenge Society ahead of "All This and Gargantua-2". Spending an episode with Killinger is a serious Character Development shot in the arm.
  • Those Two Guys: In the DVD commentaries, creators 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 who also tend to be Heterosexual Life-Partners. Henchmen #21 and #24 are the prime example; others include Guild officers Watch and Ward, the Moppets, and O.S.I. Agents Doe and Cardholder. Their Seinfeldian Conversations, Hypothetical Fight Debates, and commentary on the situation at hand are often taken from actual conversations between Jackson and Doc.
  • Time Travel: Grover Cleveland's Presidential Time Machine is a recurring artifact in the series. The Venture family finds it in season one (where it is apparently taken by the Monarch) and, in season seven (which has to be some kind record for a Call-Back Brick Joke), future!Rusty and future!Billy step out of it to distract the villain Monarch and 21 are fighting long enough for him to impale himself.
  • Tranquillizer Dart:
    • The Monarch's wrist shooters and all of his henchmen guns fire these. One dart seems to be enough to instantly sedate a normal person, though tougher characters can tank quite a few before going down. Their use, over more lethal weapons, is enforced the Guild rules on equally matched aggression. For most of the series, with the Does Not Like Guns Brock bodyguarding the Venture family, the Monarch can't use anything more lethal either. When Sgt. Hatred takes over and does not share Brock's aversion to guns, the Monarch would be within his right to use something more as well (and does, but only for #21's wrist blades and the Pupa Twins, who already use blades and are seen using Uzi's once).
    • O.S.I. agents are seen several times using these on uninvolved civilians to keep them out of the way/from learning too much. When Doe and Cardholder show up on Spider-Skull island to reign Jonas Jr. in for not wanting to play the heroes/villains "game", the immediately tranq the Pirate Captain (leading to his addiction) and attempt to tranq Ned, but can't pierce his skin.
  • Troperiffic: Exaggerated, with a heavy emphasis on the "underlying love for the genre" portion. The creators have even stated they read TV Tropes and mention several tropes by name throughout the DVD commentaries. Notably, given the nature of the series as a Dark Parody and Genre Deconstruction of its many source genres, many of the tropes are Subverted, Zig-Zagged, Deconstructed, Lampshaded, and/or otherwise played with to show just how they'd work (or fall apart) under more realistic circumstances.
  • Twinmaker: The Venture twins enjoy immortality through cloning until the season three finale, when their clones are used as an army during an attack on the Venture compound.

  • Überwald: Ünderland, the tyrannical kingdom of darkness ruled with an iron fist by Baron Ünderbheit. It is always dark when shown, mentions are usually accompanied by a wolf howl, and it has mandatory conscription for all citizens until the age of 37 (after which they are executed). In seasont two, Ünderbheit is overthrown and Girl Hitler takes over. Despite the name, she's actually a fair and competent leader, pulling Ünderland away from the trope.
  • 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 Geek Reference Pool discussion. In all cases, 24 takes whichever position is most obviously wrong, such as the The Smurfs being a non-mammalian egg-laying species.
  • 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 Live, Small Name, Big Ego tendencies. Rusty 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. It is later elaborated on more, when he admits to Hank (who is disguised as a kidnapper) that the reason he's so mean to Hank and protective of Dean, is that Hank understands the world he lives in and Dean doesn't, meaning that Dean needs protection from "harmless" threats (like kidnappers who clearly aren't going to hurt anybody) because he won't realize that he's not in danger, while Hank will. Of course, even with all this shown, he still clearly favors Dean over Hank due to Dean's greater intellectual capabilities.
  • Un-Installment: There are no Parts I and III to season two's "Escape to the House of Mummies Part II". Part I is mentioned in the "Previously on…" Cold Open to Part II, while Part III is mentioned in the "On the Next" Stinger.
  • Unions Suck: Throughout the series, the Guild of Calamitous Intent is a Weird Trade Union for supervillains. As one might expect from a villainous union, they are not depicted in a flattering light. There's corruption (Guild members taking bribes to bend its rules, falsifying the details of a "protagonist" death in order to live off of "arching insurance"), power struggles (the current Sovereign got the position by performing a Klingon Promotion, then Phantom Limb tries to pull The Starscream on him), an ossified and hidebound power structure (the Council of 13 hasn't added a new member in decades, meaning they're all old and out of touch), and loads of bureaucratic red tape that chafes the villains, especially the Monarch, preventing them from "arching" who they want.
  • Unknown Rival: The Monarch to Rusty, throughout the first season. While Monarch considers Rusty his true Arch-Enemy, Rusty is more annoyed by the "prick in a butterfly costume" and doesn't seem to think of him as anything more than the rest of his Rogues Gallery. Over the rest of the series, Monarch becomes a more significant character and spends most of the time as Rusty's official "Guild sanctioned" arch (and when he's not, he's scheming on how to get that status back).
  • The Unreveal: A major factor in the show given its Central Theme of "failure", going hand-in-hand with the series' frequent use of Anticlimaxes. Just when we think we're about to get some massive revelation, circumstance conspire to prevent it from happening or to make it something far less interesting. To note some prominent examples from over the course of the series:
    • The reason why the Monarch hates Dr. Venture so much is never stated in the series proper. 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 the Finale Movie, we get a big clue when he mentions that he incorrectly believes that Rusty slept with his college girlfriend, Debbie. #21 seems to take it as fact, and it does fit in with the timeline as the Monarch himself claims (in "Shadowman 9") that his first attempt on Rusty's life came in college, but it still isn't confirmed.
    • Who is Hank and Dean's mother? In season one, Rusty, while headed out on a date, says he's going to "get the boys a new mommy", to which Dean replies that they don't know their old mommy. 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 for the a date before going any further. Season two implies that it might be Rusty's former bodyguard, Myra Brandish, but in season five, we learn this is not the case. The Finale Movie once again provides an answer, but still not an especially clear one. In exchange for Rusty's help to inherit her mother's invisibility powers, Debbie St. Simone donates some genetic material to Rusty, implying that she is their biological mother. In The Stinger, Rusty is shown to be "carrying" the boys himself in an artifical womb. Since it was still somewhat vague, creator Doc Hammer outright state that she donated her eggs and Rusty used them to create the boys in commentary.
  • Used Future: The series, despite being in our own present, is treated as the "used future" for all of the idealist dreams of 1960s-era "super science" projects. Whenever such a project is shown in the past, expect to see its ruined present equivalent to be contrasted immediately. Most of Jonas Venture Sr.'s projects fall under this (Gargantua-1, E-Den, Humongoloid, etc. all gone to ruin or abandoned).
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: The creators seem to genuinely believe this about their audience and, in an example of Tropes Are Not Bad, it actually enhances the series humor while averting Small Reference Pools with a vengence. Obscure real life figures (Eugen Sandow, Gaeten Dugas, etc.), obscure fictional characters (Fantômas, at least outside of France, Bibleman, etc.), tons of extremely niche geeky references, you pretty much have to be a genius to fully appreciate the humor.
  • Villain Protagonist:
  • Villains Out Shopping: A core dynamic of the Guild villains is that, while they're on the clock, they're full-blown Card-Carrying Villains with everything that entails. While off the clock, they tend to lead rather normal/mundane (if still eccentric) lives where they go shopping, attend parties, go out to bars, date, etc. Sometimes this even includes Go-Karting with Bowser by inviting their supposed "arches" to these types of things. Several episodes specifically focus on this, as noted in their Recap pages.
  • The Voiceless: Dr Orpheus's ex-wife Tatyana appears but doesn't talk. Hammer and Publick mention in an episode commentary that they'd like to do something with her someday, so they want to leave their options open for a voice actor until then. So they imply she's a wine mom who's a little fed up with her current husband to justify why she hasn't got a lot to say.
  • Weird Trade Union: The Guild of Calamitous Intent, while superficially having the trappings of a Nebulous Evil Organization, functions much closer to a union/governing body for the world's supervillains. They strictly regulate their membership, matching them with appropriately matched "arches" to limit casualties on either side, all as part of an agreement with the O.S.I. to prevent an Escalating War situation between them. It is also shown that they compete with other, smaller, often less-reputable villain organizations like the (Canadian-based) Peril Partnership, Fraternity of Torment, and Phantom Limb's short-lived Revenge Society.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Throughout the series, quite a few subplots with endangered characters are resolved just by the episode ending. Doc getting stuck in a wall, Doc and Sgt. Hatred being busted by the police, 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. If it involves a main cast member, they'll be back to normal by the next episode.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: One of the running themes of the show. For example, we see Henchmen 21 and 24 go from generic Monarch henchmen, to Mauve Shirt Surprisingly Elite Cannon Fodder with full Plot Armor (that they discuss), to 24 losing that armor and dying, leading 21 on some serious Character Development. Similarly, Brock at different points gets depressed/has a breakdown over killing so many Mooks throughout his career. The episode "¡Viva los Muertos!" fully explores Brock's guilt and eventual reconciliation on the subject.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Dr. Thaddeus Venture, the son of the legendary Science Hero Dr. Jonas Venture Sr., is a supposed good guy. However, especially in the early seasons, a lot of the things he does disturbs and disgusts the people around him, leading to him being a Nominal Hero at best and Villain Protagonist at worst. He has a Heel Realization early in season three, after which he avoids running into this quite as often, though is still frequently selfish and abrasive. Specific examples can be found on the appropriate Recap pages.
  • Will They or Won't They?:
    • Dean and Triana is set up in season one and reinforced a few times over the next couple of seasons. The season four finale pretty much confirms the "won't".
    • Brock and Molotov is also played up in the first few seasons. They get some Slap-Slap-Kiss action, but never actually have sex. The season four finale likewise pretty much kills this one too.
  • Zeerust: The entire Venture Compound, as well as the other Venture bases and various other elements of the show. Virtually all super-science has a traditional '60s Zeerust vibe to it, and the ones that don't (mostly Jonah Venture Jr.'s stuff) have an '80s Zeeurust vibe to it instead.

"Well, looks like they're about done, H.E.L.P.eR. Are you ready to meet... The Venture Brothers?"
Dr. Thaddeus “Rusty” Venture

Alternative Title(s): The Venture Brothers, Venture Bros


Red Death

Red Death explains the etiquette of old school villainy.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / MagnificentBastard

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