"The Invisible Hand of Fate"
The Venture Bros. episode
"There are no free hands in this business, son."
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 3
Directed by Jackson Publick
Written by Jackson Publick
Production code 3-27
Original air date 15 June 2008
Episode Chronology
← Previous
"The Doctor Is Sin"
Next →
"Home is Where the Hate is"
List of The Venture Bros. episodes

The Invisible Hand of Fate is the third episode of Season 3 and the overall twenty-ninth episode of The Venture Bros.


After slipping in his bathroom and falling, Billy Quizboy recovers several lost memories. Billy is about to shout accusations at Pete White when White knocks Billy unconscious with a PlayStation 2 and phones Brock.

A flashback story then begins, showing Billy on a game show called "Quizboys" hosted by Pete White. White wears gloves, makeup, and a wig to hide his albinism. Billy writes down an incorrect answer but the correct answer is unexpectedly displayed as his instead, thus winning him the game. In a reference to the quiz show scandals of the 1950s, the other contestant and the public then accuse Billy of cheating. Unbeknown to them, White's hidden and unwelcome manipulation was actually to blame so Billy's reputation is unjustly harmed. In the dressing room after the game, White reveals his albinism to Billy and offers to make things right.

Responsible for Billy's ruined reputation and loss of winnings, Pete White takes Billy to compete in a series of "underground" quiz challenges to finance a roadtrip to the Venture compound with the hopes of gaining employment as a scientist and a lab assistant. They arrive just as the OSI is hauling away a clearly disturbed Myra Brandish while Dr. Venture speaks with an agent. H.E.L.P.eR. is in the background, holding a baby Dean and Hank. After Dr. Venture denies them jobs, White enlists Billy in what they believe is another quiz contest but is actually a dog fight. Billy loses the fight along with an eye, a hand, and all of his previous winnings (since White had placed a bet on Billy).

Brock Samson and Colonel Hunter Gathers, two agents of OSI, have been tracking Billy Quizboy. They provide Billy with a robotic hand and eyeball in a plan to infiltrate the Guild of Calamitous Intent. Samson and Gathers believe that Professor Fantomos at "State University" is recruiting students into the Guild. Billy enrols in Fantomos's class and is comforted to find that most of his classmates have major deformities that make him "not so different" with his own enlarged head.

Fantomos' assistant, who is also Billy's roommate commits suicide and Billy is too busy answering questions from the police to write his term paper. Billy observes that Fantomos is inflexible with the paper's due date when he sees him turn another student away. Expecting to explain why his paper is late, Billy is surprised when Fantomos asks Billy to assist him with an experiment because of an impressive essay someone turned in with Billy's name. Once again, Billy was rail-roaded by others cheating for him and he is too intimidated to dispel the allegations.

Unbeknown to his professor, OSI had cheated for Billy and used a paper written by Stephen Hawking. Fantomos is attempting to use a nuclear-powered machine to grow new limbs, as he was born with deformed, shrunken arms and legs and uses robotic appendages that fit over his real ones. The experiment goes awry, and when Fantomos tells Billy to check a crucial piece of machinery, Billy is forced to reveal that he knows nothing about this technology, and cheated on the paper he wrote about it. Billy's electronic eye is ripped from its socket and causes an explosion which apparently kills Fantomos. Professor Fantomos' once deformed limbs enlarge to normal size and become invisible, gaining the power to kill through touch and thus he becomes the villain, Phantom Limb.

As punishment for their failure, an OSI superior looking and sounding like Sgt. Hatred (later seen donning a Guild ring) indicates that Colonel Gathers was transferred to Guam and Brock Samson is apparently reassigned to be Dr. Venture's bodyguard. This puts a stop to the pair's attempts to expose the Guild.

OSI wipes Billy's memory and Brock delivers Billy to a disheveled Pete White. The post-credits scene returns to the present as Billy awakens from an attempted memory wipe and angrily attacks Brock, prompting White to smash him over the head a second time with the PlayStation 2.

Connections to other episodes Edit

  • While sitting on the toilet at the start of the episode Billy can be seen reading the issue of Super Scientific American featuring JJ on the cover as mentioned in The Doctor is Sin.

Cultural referencesEdit

  • Billy's fall in the bathroom leading to an epiphany is a reference to Doc Brown's inspiration for the flux capacitor in Back to the Future.
  • The quiz show contestant who accuses Billy of cheating looks like the child cartoon character, Louie, from the Life with Louie animated series. The series is based on the childhood of comedian Louie Anderson, a game show host on Family Feud.
  • The quiz show logo on Pete Whites jacket is of a slightly different design to that on the TV shows set, the jackets features a hidden penis.
  • According to Jackson Publick, Fantomos is based on Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre's creation Fantômas.[1]
  • Professor Impossible's name is shown being removed from the door of the university's science department. Stephen Colbert, the voice of Professor Impossible, chose not to return to the show this season.[2] Publick further stated that Professor Impossible's title being removed was not his way of showing disdain for Colbert leaving the show and that an early draft of the script contained a scene where it is revealed that Professor Impossible was forced to leave the university due to a scandal involving a student named Sally.[3] The described scene appears as a voiced animatic on the DVD set.
  • The OSI is repeatedly shown as a parody of GI Joe:
  • Shore Leave is an effeminate parody of Shipwreck. He and his men are also a parody of the Village People.
  • The leader of S.P.H.I.N.X. bears a resemblance to G.I. Joe villain Destro. The uniform he wears is similar to the 1997 toy figure. The S.P.H.I.N.X. ship is a parody of White Base of the Gundam series.
  • The G.I.Joe battle cry of "Yo Joe!", is parodied as "YO! S.I.!"
  • During the OSI Theme Song cutaway, a satirical take on the GI Joe theme, there are several notable cultural references including:
  • General Nguyen Ngoc Loan Executing a Viet Cong Prisoner in Saigon photograph: An OSI agent is seen executing an S.P.H.I.N.X. agent in precisely the same manner.
  • The Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse photographs (specifically those featuring Lynndie England) are also referenced. A female OSI officer, drawn to look and dress like England in the infamous photos, is standing with one foot on a pile of S.P.H.I.N.X. bodies while giving the 'thumbs-up' sign.
  • Race Bannon makes a brief speaking cameo in OSI headquarters, apparently torturing a captured S.P.H.I.N.X. agent.
  • Shoreleave tells Co. Gathers that "Wayland Flowers called. He wants his Madame back." Wayland Flowers is a comedian from the 1980s whose act featured a puppet, Madame.
  • Col. Gathers mocks Shore Leave telling him that "The Village People called..." The Village People were a popular 70's disco act who—like Shore Leave and the others—dressed like a policeman, a Native American, a construction worker, a leather-clad biker, a cowboy and a sailor.
  • The Nozzle's appearance is a reference to the alien computer, Max, from Disney's 1986 science fiction film, Flight of the Navigator.
  • To pass the time during the road trip Brock and Colonel Hunter play the travel game Cow Poker.
  • To convince Billy to become his lab assistant, Fantamos tells him that the suicide of Billy's roommate entitles him to a 4.0 grade from his college, a reference to a false urban legend.
  • Col. Gathers refers to Billy as "Woyzeck," the title character in a play by Georg Buchner. In the play, the innocent Woyzeck is manipulated by doctors and his military seniors (much like Billy is manipulated by Fantomos and OSI), eventually going mad as a result of this manipulation and his steady diet of nothing but peas.
  • Col. Gathers mentions the Bilderberg Group and asserts that they are responsible for the fall of the Berlin Wall, which hasn't happened yet as Billy points out. This places the events of the flashbacks no later than fall of 1989.


  • When Professor Fantomos and Billy go into the lab the door is left open, however in the next shot the door is closed behind them.
  • When Professor Fantomos is in his machine, his head is visibly unattached to the rest of the body.
  • When Sgt Haine is dressing-down Brock for the failure of the mission, Haine's hands alternate between being in front of him and being held behind his back in successive views.
  • In the closed captioning they mistakenly use "Build-A-Bear Group" instead of "Bilderberg Group" for Col. Gathers' line about the Berlin Wall tumbling down.

Production notesEdit

  • This was the first episode produced for season three, even though it aired third.[4]
  • 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 The Invisible Hand of Fate the credit reads Kimson "The Nozzle" Albert.

References Edit

Preceded by:
"The Doctor Is Sin"
The Venture Bros. episodes
Original Airdate:
June 15, 2008
Followed by:
"Home Is Where The Hate Is"