"Past Tense"
The Venture Bros. episode
"Now that's how it's done!"
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 11
Directed by Jackson Publick
Written by Jackson Publick
Production code 1-12
Original air date 16 October 2004
Episode Chronology
← Previous
"Tag Sale – You're It!"
Next →
"The Trial of the Monarch"

"Past Tense" is the eleventh episode in the first season of The Venture Bros.


Thaddeus Venture, along with the rest of Team Venture, are in the X-1 flying to a funeral they are late for. Dr. Venture accidentally causes the X-1 to plough through the graveyard, interrupting a burial. Unconcerned with the burial after finding out it's not the one he's late for, Venture asks the priest where the Mike Sorayama funeral is.

At the funeral, Dr. Venture reminisces about the dearly departed, Mike Sorayama. In a flashback, Venture is starting to lose his hair. He also has an acne problem, but seems more self-confident. His friend Mike Sorayama is a Japanese man with a Minnesotan accent. Venture questions the chemistry textbook he notices on Mike's desk, and Mike admits he is tutoring a girl named Leslie Cohen. A young Pete White enters the room and proclaims that Mike has a "Tiny, Chiney chubby" for Leslie. Ignoring Sorayama, White and Venture complain about their room-mates. Venture's roommate turns out to be his future bodyguard, Brock Samson. White's room-mate is Werner Ünderbheit, sporting a mop-like head of hair, a tan and an intact jawline, and is still followed by Manservant. Venture mentions a "Creepy guy" in his creative writing class with long eyebrows and an obsession with Monarch butterflies; clearly, clearly referring to the Monarch. The flashback is broken with Hank Venture and Dean Venture's disbelief that their father and Brock attended college with these people.

The priest asks the pallbearers to come forward. Venture, White, Brock and Ünderbheit position themselves around the coffin, and begin to lift it when suddenly, shackles chain them to the coffin and gas renders them unconscious. Thrusters emerge from the coffin, which flies away with them. Four similar-looking silent women dressed in black casually leave the church, in the direction that the coffin went in.

Hank calls the Monarch, who denies responsibility for the ordeal. Dean roots through their father's belongings, locating a communication device. The boys contact an elderly gentleman lounging in Tangier. The man, Colonel Horace Gentleman, is surprised to hear from Hank and Dean but agrees to assemble the rest of the original Team Venture. Gentleman contacts a Japanese man named Kano, a Man/Fish hybrid named Otto Aquarius, and retired hero The Action Man. The senior Team Venture arrive at the Venture Compound and Horace introduces its members. Colonel Gentleman himself is an adventurer, Kano is a mute master of the martial arts who communicates through origami, the fish-man is the exiled son of Atlantis, Otto Aquarius, and Action Man is overly flatulent. Team Venture discuss a plan for finding the missing doctor. The late Jonas Venture Sr. implanted a tracking device in his son's molar tooth to help thwart his occasional kidnappings as a child.

The mysterious four women carry the pallbearers into a dungeon. They fasten iron collars around the captives' necks; a chain running through the wall connects Venture's and Brock's collars, while another connects White and Ünderbheit. The women are revealed as robots with the same face. Gas awakens the prisoners. A televised Mike Sorayama thanks them for attending his funeral and warns that theirs will occur soon. As the robotic women serve the four prisoners their seemingly last meal, Brock notices their resemblance to Leslie. Sorayama boasts of the perfection of his Lesliebots, then indicates that he will kill each of the prisoners for insulting him in college. They follow the tracking device's signal and bursts into a dorm room, frightening a student. Kano locates the tooth under a bed, and the older men realize this was "Rusty's" old room. The student they interrupted mentions that if Sorayama is dead, he has not heard: the youth is studying for Professor Sorayama's class.

A flashback shows Sorayama using a bong while Ünderbheit, White and Venture assure him the substance inside is marijuana from Ünderbheit's home country. When Sorayama acts as though he is getting high, the others tell him he is actually smoking oregano. Mike reacts badly, as he is allergic to oregano. In the current-day, Sorayama snarls that his near-death experience forced him to cancel a study date with Leslie. Ünderbheit assaults one of the Lesliebots, but it shocks him unconscious. In another flashback, Mike is listening to the radio. Pete White, the college station's disc jockey, reads a fake dedication declaring Mike's love for Leslie which is intentionally made to be humiliating for Mike. As the present-day Sorayama accuses Venture of betrayal, Brock saws through his chain using Ünderbheit's jaw. Team Venture locates Sorayama's headquarters and disable the Lesliebots.

Another flashback reveals Ünderbheit, White and Venture playing Dungeons & Dragons with Sorayama as Dungeon Master. After the players scoff at Mike's invention of a "Leslie Golem," Venture mocks Mike by having his character seduce the creature. The present-day Venture points out the absurdity of anyone taking offense at such an incident, but Sorayama barks that he saw Leslie leaving the room the next morning. Venture admits that he did not lose his virginity until the age of 24, so it must have been Brock, who shorts the cell lock with Ünderbheit's jaw. A few rooms away, Team Venture don portions of the Lesliebots' armor as disguise.

In the past, Brock was discharged from the football team on the same day as the D&D game. During practice, he accidentally killed Tommy, the quarterback; he spent the rest of the day drinking to drown his anger and guilt. He stumbles back to his dorm room that night. In a sequence alternating between flashbacks and the current plot, Brock spots the "Lesliebots"/steps on a die. He flies into a rage, attacking Team Venture/the players. Samson punches out Action Man's dentures/"T. S." loses his molar and throws Otto through a window and into the televised Sorayama/hurls Mike through the dorm window. The boys calm Brock down and explain that his victims are actually the good guys.

As Brock and Dr. Venture were chained together, Venture escapes the dungeon. Brock and the Ventures investigate the hole created by Otto's flight; on the floor lies a decapitated Sorayama, with cables protruding from his neck. Dean concludes that the real Sorayama must be close and opens the coffin. Venture puzzles over what appears to be Sorayama's corpse, wondering whether he programmed his robots to hate the group. They depart for home, apparently forgetting about Pete and Ünderbheit, who remain chained up in the dungeon.

A final flashback shows Brock packing his belongings, the day after the D&D game. He apologizes to Venture for beating up him and his friends. With his scholarship revoked, he is joining the Army; a career that would ultimately see him promoted into the Office of Secret Intelligence. On his way out the door, Samson casually mentions that someone called to say that Venture's father died.

Cultural ReferencesEdit

  • Dr. Venture and Pete White laughingly mock Baron Ünderbheit's hairstyle, comparing it to that of The Hulk's titular character and Pete Rose.
  • Publick has stated that Colonel Horace Gentleman's name refers to a nickname of Horace Panter, who played bass guitar in British band The Specials.
  • The Action Man's name originated as a reference to the David Bowie song Ashes to Ashes in the beginning of Ghosts of the Sargasso.[1]
  • In the scene involving Team Venture's search for Dr. Venture at his old dorm room, several posters can be seen hanging on the walls in the background. These include a depiction of the Star Wars character Boba Fett, a film poster for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, what appears to be a film poster for The Matrix, and one simply reading "60 CENT" (a reference to rapper 50 Cent).
  • In Dr. Venture's dorm room, there is a poster on the wall with a stylized logo that reads "Yea", a parody of the logo of the band Yes. Another poster is clearly based on the cover of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, as well as another poster based on the band Gong's album You.
  • Also in reference to Pink Floyd, a take-off of their song Comfortably Numb can be heard during some of the flashback sequences (such as the "oregano bong" flashback).
  • A spoof of the theme to The Andy Griffith Show plays as the Venture family leaves the castle.
  • When the boys are trying to figure out what to do after their father's been kidnapped, Hank Venture says that Dean Venture is "Not a wartime consigliere." This a quote from the film The Godfather.
  • The Lesliebots are essentially gynoids; female-looking robots, and resemble in design characters drawn by artist Hajime Sorayama, who the dead antagonist of this episode is named in reference to.
  • Col. Gentleman's young manservant Kiki is a reference to William S. Burroughs' book, Naked Lunch.
  • Mike Sorayama is based on the character of Mike Yanagita from the film Fargo. Comedian Steve Park portrays both characters.
  • Col. Gentleman uses the expression "Despite his racial handicap," taken from the character Raoul Duke in Hunter S. Thompson's semi-autobiographical novel and film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
  • The toy the college versions of the characters smoke oregano from looks similar to a first series Battlestar Galactica Cylon.

Connections to Other EpisodesEdit

  • The girl giving Kano a massage is very similar in appearance to the girl administering acupuncture to Otaku Senzuri in The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay.[2]
  • Dr. Venture makes note of a strange guy with "Eyebrows out to here" who writes poems about Monarch butterflies, a clear reference to the Monarch.
  • In The Invisible Hand of Fate, Phantom Limb notices that Billy Quizboy's mechanical hand is "Based on a Mike Sorayama design," and goes so far as to say he was the brightest student he ever had.
  • The student living in Dr. Venture's room in the present day later reappears as part of the Scared Straight! program in Return to Spider-Skull Island.
  • Brock Samson's accidental killing of Tommy during football practice was also mentioned in Eeney, Meeney, Miney... Magic!.
  • Dr. Orpheus takes the Action Man's hands and declares "Two years, 17 days, from a stroke" (in 2004). The Venture Bros. series time frame does not pass at the same rate as our real world time frame with Action Man remaining alive at this point in 2010. This is a prediction similar to the Ray Bradbury character of G. M. Dark in the book Something Wicked This Way Comes. Dr. Orpheus has similarities to, and is a bit of an amalgam of, Marvel Comic's Doctor Strange (in terms of clothing and demeanor) and G. M. Dark (mysterious dramatic traits and encyclopedic knowledge) as well as Mandrake the Magician (illusion casting and showy heroism).

Production NotesEdit

  • Col. Gentleman's choice of houseboys indicates that he may be pederast (and a deleted scene included on the season one DVD features a line from Otto that seems to confirm this).[3]
  • 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 "Past Tense" the credit reads Kimson "25 Charisma Points" Albert.


  1. Episode "Ghosts of the Sargasso"
  2. Episode "The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay"
  3. Season 1 DVD deleted scene for "Past Tense"

Preceded by:
"Tag Sale – You're It!"
The Venture Bros. episodes
Original Airdate:
October 16th, 2004
Followed by:
"The Trial of the Monarch"

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.