The Venture Brothers isn’t just one of my favorite animated shows, it’s one of my very favorite TV shows period. Adult Swim ended one of the longest-running shows in its line up this week after 81 episodes over 17 years. If you’ve never seen it (There’s no excuse, it’s been around for 17 years. Seriously, get your life together) the show explores the equal parts wacky and depressing adult life of the thoroughly unimpressive Dr. Thaddus ‘Rusty’ Venture, former-boy adventurer à la Johnny Quest. He and his two current boy adventurer sons, Hank and Dean, navigate a reality full of insecure super scientists, dysfunctional villains with punny names and supernatural neighbors.
This show is great. Was great. Whatever. I’ve been watching it for half of my life not only because it is intelligent and hilarious, but because the characters change and grow as the show goes on. Hank and Dean, the titular Venture brothers, grow up (once their father runs out of clones) and character relationships grow and change through the impossible scenarios they go through. But you know what else it should also be known for? The amazing cars featured in the show. Cars are the foundation for multiple episodes, and it’s clear Publick and his co-creator Doc Hammer put a lot of thought into what cars appeared in what episodes. Here are just a few of my favorites.
We’ll start with the most obvious: Brock Samson, former superspy and bodyguard to the Venture family is spiritually one with his ‘69 Dodge Charger. The car is the centerpiece for the very first episode of the first season: Dia De Los Dangerous. The episode kicks off with Brock playing strip poker in order to obtain a part for his car while in Tijuana, Mexico. He fights multiple luchadors buck naked in order to obtain the part after being cheated at cards. Later on, he drops his Charger from the family’s supersonic jet while inside of it down into the lair of Dr. Venture’s most persistent arch-nemesis, The Monarch. Mayhem ensues after that as he gets revenge on some henchmen, and you get some great close-ups of the Charger in detail as well as plenty of animated blood:
It is full of the kind of superspy additions you’d expect for a man who not only has a driver’s license but a license to kill. That Charger is a part of him. He can sense when someone is inside of it a whole country away, though I’ll admit the car looks less like a Charger and more like a box of matches in many scenes. As you can see above, the animation got much better by season six.
Henching for a costumed supervillain isn’t all glamour and dart guns. These guys and gals are the unnamed hardworking backbone of any professional supervillains’ outfit. They don’t really seem to get paid either. For some on the bottom rung of professional masked villainy, a Nissan Stanza with a lien on it is a dream come true. In the season two-episode Victor Echo November, The Monarch escapes from prison to find everything, including his giant floating cocoon fortress and his Monarch-mobile, destroyed. Two of his most loyal and unkillable henchmen, 24 and 21, offer up 24's mostly powder-blue Stanza so he can go on a double date with his ex and her new beau. Definitely not one of the mighty Monarch’s prouder moments, but still one of my favorite episodes.
The Stanza becomes a running gag throughout the first two seasons, though it is eventually crushed in the epic Season 2 ender Showdown at Cremation Creek Part II, along with a recently rebuilt flying cocoon:
The really good cars often end up in the same episodes together, and this episode, I Know Why the Caged Bird Kills, is no different. The first very good car and my favorite in the show is this Saab 96. It’s clearly been driven by the family for generations, including by the mysterious late Dr. Jonas Venture, the boys’ grandfather. Though the show insists this vehicle was built by Venture Motors, it definitely just a Saab with a V on the grill:
Hank and Dean are teaching themselves to drive in it (because why would Dr. Venture ever do anything with his kids) when they are kidnapped by an unhinged woman named Myra who may or may not be their mother. In the same episode, a Japanese demon posses the car and takes Dr. Venture and his tenant, the necromancer Dr. Byron Orpheus, on an unforgettable road trip where they encounter Myra and help rescue the boys.
Myra may or may not be the Venture Brother’s mother, but she’s definitely a pain in the ass for the family. This single-episode villain kidnaps the boys, apparently not for the first time. She uses her Mustang to slam into Brock in an attempt to escape. As we know, Brock really hates it when he gets hit with a car.
Her main mistake was not taking off but trying to finish the job. The confrontation leads to this classic The Venture Brothers scene, further cementing Brock’s reputation as a badass.
Dr. Orpheus is a classy and weird guy. We all know that means he’s a Volkswagen man. As well as being a master Necromancer and member of the Order of the Triad, Orpheus spends his free time making his famous frittatas, hanging with his cat and helping the Venture family out of various jams. He and his daughter Triana drive this charming little Volkswagen Beetle throughout the series. Our own Jason Torchinsky thinks this particular Beetle is closest to a Brazilian VW Fusca, which just makes this single dad necromancer and balancer of the delicate energies of the cosmos somehow even cooler, windbreaker and all.
[Update: Tuesday, September 8, 2020, 8:33 p.m. - Upon reviewing half of season one, there is a split second where Moltov’s Dodge Viper appears to pull Brock Samson from a tar pit in The Incredible Mr. Brisby.]
The KGB spy-turned-mercenary and Brock’s love interest is just too badass not to mention here. Her love of ‘90s Americana is on full display with her Dodge Viper, which we see in the episode The Family That Slays Together Stays Together. That doesn’t make it any less memorable, however. Maybe that’s one of the reasons Molotov and Brock click, despite being on separate sides; they have their shared love of the Dodge brand. And they’ll always have Lazer Zeplin at the Akron planetarium.
Dr. Girlfriend is The Monarch’s No. 2, both in arching and in life. The season one episode Mid-Life Chrysalis is another episode that has a ton of good cars in it. The always lovely, husky-voiced Dr. Girlfriend is usually wearing a Jackie O-inspired pink pillbox hat and white gloves. So it makes sense she’d go with a classic pink ‘60s sports car to keep up her vintage charm.
Another vehicle we only ever see once, this C3 is the Doc Venture’s ticket with the ladies, or so he thinks until Brock takes off in it. A classy lady would be impressed by the Saab 96, but I’m not here to tell a fractured, pill-popping washed up super scientist and neglectful single dad what to drive during his mid-life crisis.
There are a ton more awesome vehicles in this show, from Sgt. Hatred’s Willys and hover tank to the boys’ very own Venture Industry hoverbikes. I’d write about them all, but I think everyone else is just starting to suspect I want to skip work and watch cartoons all day. They aren’t wrong. It’s a great show and I’m sorry there won’t be more of it. I know I’ll be binging the seven seasons we do have all week.