"Any Which Way But Zeus"
The Venture Bros. episode
Episode no. Season 4
Episode 50
Directed by Jackson Publick
Written by Doc Hammer
Original air date September 26, 2010
Guest Stars

Bill Hader as Professor Impossible

Episode Chronology
← Previous
"Pomp and Circuitry"
Next →
"Everybody Comes to Hank's"
List of The Venture Bros. episodes

Every Which Way But Zeus is the 50th episode of the American animated television series The Venture Bros.


Billy Quizboy and Pete White are attacked in their trailer by a man claiming to be Zeus, the Greek god of thunder. Later that night, after being left behind by Brock Samson, Colonel Hunter Gathers, and the other members of S.P.H.I.N.X., Zeus takes Shore Leave. The abduction of heroes and villains makes news all over the world. Dr. Thaddeus Venture believes he will be the next victim, though his son Hank and bodyguard Sergeant Hatred seem less concerned.

At Zeus's base (an abandoned horse racing track) Zero forces two of the kidnapped characters - Henchman 21 and U.S. Steel's partner Ghost Robot - to fight in a brutal deathmatch, which ends with Ghost Robot's death at 21's hands. Billy, Pete, and Shore Leave are seen sharing a cell in Zeus's prison (actually a disguised stable), discussing Zeus's plan, which seems to involve systematically killing off all of them until only one remains.

The abductions have attracted the attention of the OSI, which summons Brock and Col. Gathers as representatives of SPHINX to a secret meeting; Phantom Limb and Professor Impossible are in attendance, representing their new Revenge Society, as are Red Mantle and Dragoon, representing the Guild of Calamitous Intent, and a number of other villains. The meeting, called by OSI General Treister to discuss a plan for recovering the kidnapped heroes and villains, quickly falls into disarray as the attendees bicker over old scores.

Dr. Venture, still completely paranoid that he will be taken next, is instead "kidnapped" by Sgt. Hatred, Hank, and Dean while wearing voice changing masks to disguise their identity. They plan to subject Rusty to various tortures in order to validate his fears. While being interrogated, Hatred accidentally slips out Dean's name which leads Rusty to think that they kidnapped Dean and begs them to take him instead which hatred says "Hey that's pretty impressive. When Hank says they have "Hank" as well, Rusty reveals they can just go ahead and kill him, making Hank angrily eager to torture his father.

Gravely wounded, a old man cryptically warns Shore Leave of Zero's true intentions while 21 meditates in silence; ultimately, the henchman stands and asks his cellmates for help. They all agree, but when Shore Leave asks for 21's name, he introduces himself as Henchman 1.

The scene changes back to Hank failing at torturing Rusty he finally asks why Rusty seemingly loves Dean more than Hank. Rusty reveals (without knowing it's Hank he's talking to) that he knew they'd never manage to kill Hank, and actually admires Hank for trying his best to not follow the Venture legacy. If anything, Hank is more like him and his disinterest in following his own father. Rusty says he would  want  to hold Hank and apologize to him for his existence and for dooming him to be like himself. Additionally, he actually feels sorry for Dean because he believes so much in the whole "super-scientist" legacy and because he'll probably just end up just like his grandfather.

Billy and Pete are summoned by Zero to fight for Zeus, but they instead argue over their designation as hero and villain respectively and are thrown back in their cell, along with 21 and a seemingly ordinary old man. Billy, Pete, Shore Leave, and 21 are all summoned to fight in a tag-team battle, but the moment that Zero drops the flag to begin, Billy and Pete flee while Shore Leave and 21 use their weapons to reveal that Zeus is merely a cardboard cutout. Impressed, Zero leaps down from the booth to fight 21 himself, but 21 merely threatens him, before calling him Henchman 1. Zero becomes angry and removes his helmet, revealing Scott Hall, the former Henchman 1 who was believed to have been killed by Brock Samson (episode: "The Lepidopterists"). Back at the OSI meeting, it is revealed that the old man is actually the original Captain Sunshine, who retired and promoted his sidekick Wonder Boy to be the new Captain Sunshine (seen in "Handsome Ransom") and presently serves as his butler, Desmond. Hall, now calling himself "Henchman Zero," explains how he tricked Desmond (who still retained his Captain Sunshine powers) into dressing as Zeus and gathering heroic sidekicks and villainous henchmen. Hall had lead Desmond to believe that he would be gathering them for a party, as an attempt to compensate them for the perceived lack of recognition secondary characters receive. He later overtook Desmond and threw him into the prison stable. Hall now plans to finish off all the gathered heroes and villains by forcing them to battle, intending to kill the last survivor (which Hall hoped would be Henchman 21) himself, all for revenge over being left for dead by 21. When challenged by Hall, 21 refuses to fight, and points out that the other abduction victims have been freed by Billy and Pete, prompting Hall to flee.

At the OSI meeting, Mr. Doe and Mr. Cardholder inform the demoralized group that the issue has resolved itself, showing them that the heroes and villains have been reunited with their associates, except for U.S. Steel (because his partner Ghost Robot was killed).

In a post-credits scene, Dr. Venture is still held captured by Hank, who has tricked him into paying a ransom to his supposed kidnappers - actually Hank and Hatred themselves.

Cultural referencesEdit

  • The title of the episode is parody to the film Every Which Way But Loosestarring Clint Eastwood and his pal, an Orangutan. The film was also referenced in Season 3's episode, "Dr. Quymn, Medicine Woman".
  • When Shore Leave was about to be kidnapped, he makes a reference to Cinderella and pretends to mistake Zeus as his Fairy Godmother.
  • When Col. Gathers and Brock were discussing Robin, a stripper from the club, Brock described her breasts as, "The Notebook sad".
  • General Treister's codename for Red Mantle and Dragoon were Kenan and Kel, in reference to Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell, a pair of actors who were particularly famous on Nickelodeon's Kenan & Kel comedy show. Particularly, he is making reference to the series finale and full length TV movie, Two Heads Are Better Than None starring Kenan & Kel.
  • Brock Samson's codename was Topanga Lawrence, in reference to a principle female character from the television series Boy Meets World.
  • Hunter's codename is Kelly Clarkson, named after the singer-songwriter.
  • Prof. Impossible's codename is Mathew Perry, an actor who was previously on the show Friends.
  • Storm Front's codename is Orville Redenbacher, a reference to the popcorn magnate who starred in commercials for his product.
  • When Mr. Doe and Mr. Cardholder announce the abduction situation to have been resolved, they describe their arrival to be similar to a famous Coca-Cola commercial with less singing, referring in particular to the commercial that featured the song "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing."
  • When 21 is meditating, Shore Leave refers to him as "Ghost Dog" a reference to the Jim Jarmusch film Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.
  • When Hatred and Hank pretend to kidnap Dr. Venture,they disguise their voices using masks inspired by Optimus Prime and the Hulk. Those characters have been made into face masks known to have a built in voice changer to make the one wearing it sound like the character.
  • Instead of using a mask to hide his voice during the kidnapping sequence, Dean uses a Teddy Ruxpin doll.
  • While torturing Rusty, Hank attempted to duplicate the seatless chair torture as was done to James Bond in Casino Royale.
  • General Treister refers to Zeus as "the Greek god of thunder and rock 'n' roll", a reference to the KISS song "God of Thunder".

Connections to previous episodesEdit

  • A number of characters make appearances in this episode:
    • Scott Hall, now going by the name "Henchman Zero," was first seen in "The Lepidopterists". He mentions that 21 left him to die by the hands of Brock Sampson in that episode.
    • Phantom Limb and Professor Impossible appear at the OSI meeting representing The Revenge Society, which they founded in "Pomp and Circuitry".
    • Red Mantle and Dragoon make another appearance. They first appeared with names in "The Revenge Society".
    • General Treister first appeared in "The Family That Slays Together, Stays Together (Part II)".
    • Doe and Cardholder most recently appeared in "Blood of the Father, Heart of Steel".
    • Captain Sunshine and Desmond first appeared in "Handsome Ransom".
    • During the reunion scene, Phineas Phage is briefly seen along with one of his henchmen, the "Pro-Teens." Phage makes his first appearance after his debut in "Pomp and Circuitry".
    • Among the captured henchmen appear to be a number of the staff from the Monarch's accounting firm, which he mistakenly raided in the opening scene of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Kills."
    • Truckules, first seen in "Showdown at Cremation Creek (Part I)," also makes an appearance, breaking out of the stables and chasing after Henchman 1. This is rather odd since in previous episodes he is referred to as a villain, not a henchman.
  • Col. Gathers states he could pole dance better than half those women in the strip club, a reference to when he had worked as a stripper.
  • Ex-Wonderboy can be seen in a picture with Sunshine and Desmond. He was first seen as an adult in Dr. Venture's group therapy in "Self-Medication".
  • Dr. Venture was being held and "tortured" inside Sergeant Hatred's hover-tank (now with the venture logo on the front), the tank was first mentioned in "Powerless in the Face of Death".
  • Tigershark represents The Peril Partnership, first mentioned in the Season 2 episode "Fallen Arches"

Production notesEdit

  • One of the animation directors (Kimson Albert) has a "nickname" inserted into his credits. The nickname is an unusual line or word from the preceding episode. For "Any Which Way But Zeus" the credit reads Kimson "Mournful Tits" Albert.
  • According to an Adult Swim bumper, during the scenes of Dr. Venture's abduction, dialogue for Sgt. Hatred and Hank were recorded with Jackson Public wearing an Optimus Prime and Incredible Hulk mask respectively.
  • The two men who witness the transformation of the green on the golf course, and subsequently tranquilized by Mr. Doe and Cardholder, are Executive Producers for Adult Swim, Mike Lazzo and Keith Crawford.