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"Bright Lights, Dean City"
The Venture Bros. episode
Episode no. Season 4
Episode 13
Written by Jackson Publick
Production code 413
Original air date October 10, 2010
Guest Stars
Episode Chronology
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"Everybody Comes to Hank's"
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"Assisted Suicide"
List of The Venture Bros. episodes

Bright Lights, Dean City is the thirteenth episode of Season 4 and the overall fifty-second episode of The Venture Bros.


Professor Impossible hires Dean Venture as a summer intern at Impossible Industries in New York City, while Impossible and Baron Underbheit, secretly become part of Phantom Limb's Revenge Society, plan to enact revenge on everyone who wronged them in the past (the list includes Jonas Venture Jr., Dr. Girlfriend, The Monarch, Girl Hitler, and even Henchman #21). When Dean discovers that Professor Impossible is working with them, he attacks Underbheit, which causes Phantom Limb to shock him into unconsciousness. When Dean wakes up, Professor Impossible tells him that the Revenge Society is a super-criminal "back to work" organization to help former supervillains reintegrate into society, which Dean believes.

Professor Impossible reveals to the other members of The Revenge Society that he has been keeping Cody, his former brother-in-law, in captivity: powering the entire building in order to keep Impossible Industries green. Phantom Limb approves of how exquisitely evil this is, as it keeps Cody in constant pain (unlike the Human Torch, Cody can feel his body being burned). Dean coordinates interviews with potential members for the Revenge Society, including Lady-Hawk Johnson, who turns into a bird at night; Lyndon-Bee, who turns into a bee during the day; Mr. Polygamy, a four-armed Mormon with four wives; Giant Indian, a Native American who claims he can "grow bigger"; Scare Bear, a silent man in a bear costume with a bloody knife (which unnerves all the members, including Phantom Limb); and Fat Chance, an obese supervillain who can pull random things from anywhere in time and space from a void hole in his stomach.

Meanwhile, Dr. Venture's latest get-rich-quick scheme is a Broadway musical called "Rusty!" about his childhood, which he plans to peddle to every agent and producer in town, in the process greatly irritating Dean by moving into his tiny cockroach-infested apartment without asking. Learning of Venture's presence in the city, the Revenge Society decides to make him their first victim, trapping him in a taxicab driven by a disguised Baron Underbheit. However, Dr. Venture is too absorbed in his MP3 player to notice Phantom Limb's threatening message, or when an air freshener starts leaking toxic gas. Due to Professor Impossible's inexperience in villainy, the gas is released into the front seat of the taxi, knocking out Underbheit. The speeding taxi is only stopped by the actions of the Brown Widow, a parody of Spider-Man.

The Revenge Society learns about Rusty's musical and Fat Chance, in a gag phone call as "Mr. Big Time from Big Time Productions," invites him to One Impossible Plaza as a trap. When he gets there, the current three members, alongside new members Lady-Hawk Johnson, Lyndon-Bee, and Fat Chance, ambush him. Dean tries to get help, but he accidentally reactivates Cody. Unaware that the only way to extinguish Cody is to put him to sleep, Dean releases him, thinking that he's just on fire. Phantom Limb tries to zap Rusty, but Fat Chance trips over his invisible leg and sucks Dr. Venture into an alternate universe. The fire caused by Cody spreads throughout One Impossible Plaza, destroying Rusty's musical.

In the post-credits scene, the cliffhanger from the previous episode is resolved when it turns out the Dr. Venture coming through the portal is an alternate universe counterpart of the latter who was returning a cuffed Rusty to his proper dimension. The alternate universe Dr. Venture reveals Rusty tried to kill him and take his place because he has more hair, more money, and a hit Broadway musical.

Episode Cast[]

First Appearances[]


When planning to recruit potential new members for The Revenge Society, Phantom Limb advises Baron Ünderbheit and Professor Impossible to looks for powers and attributes that adhere to S.P.A.W.M., "an acronym for the classic panoply of powers every professional villain team needs."

  • S = Speed
  • P = Power
  • A = Air
  • W = Water (or Wind, or Weather)*
  • M = Magic

*Phantom Limb notes that the W (Water) can alternatively stand for Wind or Weather, "but you definitely need at least one elemental in the mix." Ünderbheit mentions that a "fire guy" would be cool, prompting Impossible to introduce them to his former brother-in-law Cody.

"I'm Rusty!"[]

Rusty Venture writes an autobiographical Broadway musical called Rust! in one night. These are the lyrics to the song "I'm Rusty", as performed in the episode by Rusty and Brown Widow:

My name is Rusty

It’s Rusty Venture

Boy Adventurer

I’m living danger

With super science


It’s Rusty

A life spent in barrels

Hiding from arrows

Of Pharaohs

The dreams I buried

With robot fingers

They linger

Why, Rusty?

The man of action

Like muscle mothers

Not brothers

On grand adventures

They pushed me with them

For mayhem

Who's Rusty?

I'm Rusty-y-y (I'm Rusty-y-y)

A more fully produced version of the song plays over the end credits, sung by Rusty Venture:

(I'm Rusty, I'm Rusty)

The man of action

Like muscle mothers

Not brothers

On grand adventures

They push me with them

For mayhem

He's Rusty

Connections to Other Episodes[]

The Incredible Mr. Brisby

Ice Station – Impossible!

Powerless in the Face of Death

Home is Where the Hate is

  • Phantom Limb makes reference to Tim-Tom and Kevin, the Murderous Moppets, being "well-placed sleeper agents"--adding context to a scene in Home is Where the Hate is where the two discuss poisoning The Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend in their sleep. Given that Dr. Girlfriend has not been shown knowing them prior to Limb inducting her into a supervillianous life (in flashbacks in Shadowman 9: In the Cradle of Destiny), it is likely that Limb initially arranged them to be her henchmen, with the sleeper function in case he needed to have her killed.

Dr. Quymn, Medicine Woman

What Goes Down Must Come Up

The Revenge Society

Pinstripes and Poltergeists

Everybody Comes to Hank's

Momma's Boys

Tanks for Nuthin'

It Happening One Night

The Terrible Secret At The Turtle Bay

  • The Same Muggers From The Pilot Reappeared for the 3rd Time
  • They Also Appeared In The Finale Of Season 1

Cultural References[]

Amazing Spider-Man (1977-1979)

Apache Chief

Big (1988)

  • Dean's apartment seems to be based on a combination of other fictional New York City apartments, such as Josh Baskin's (Tom Hanks) flophouse apartment in Big. There is even a payphone with stacks of coffee cups on top of it on the wall outside his door.

Big Love (2006-2011)

Bright Lights, Big City (1984)

Coming to America (1988)

  • Dean's apartment seems to be based on a combination of other fictional New York City apartments, such as Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and Semmi's (Arsenio Hall) first apartment in Coming to America, complete with the chalk outline of a body on the floor.


Jacob Riis

  • When Dr. Venture first enters Dean's apartment, he asks if Dean is waiting for "Jacob Riis to take [his] picture." Jacob Riis was a famed journalist that focused on crime ridden slums in New York City.

Joe's Apartment (1996)

  • Dean's apartment seems to be based on a combination of other fictional New York City apartments, such as Joe's Apartment, complete with the swarm of cockroaches devouring food.

Ladyhawke (1985)

  • Lady-Hawk Johnson's name and ability to transform into a hawk while her husband is human is a parody of the fantasy film Ladyhawke.

Lilith Fair 

Lyndon B. Johnson / Lady Bird Johnson

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

Mitt Romney

Pet Sounds (1985)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

South Pacific (1949)


Spider-Man (1967-1970)

  • The Brown Widow casts a spiderweb in the middle of the street to stop the runaway taxi driven by an unconscious Baron Ünderbheit (and containing Rusty Venture in the back seat), and the vehicle is caught and stopped in the web. This is almost identical to the same imagery used in the opening credits of the 1967-1970 Spider-Man animated television series.

Spider-Man (2002)

  • When Brown Widow talks to Dean on the balcony, he is hanging upside down and holding Dean's face, a reference to the "Spider-man kiss" scene in the 2002 film, Spider-Man.

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

  • In another Spider-Man reference, during Dean's time-lapse apartment scene, besides redecorating, he crawls backward up the corner of his room while in his Spidey pajamas. This is a reference to a similar scene from the 2004 film, Spider-Man 2, which also occurred in a run down New York apartment.

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (2010)

Temple garment

The Blob

The Spot

The Shining(1980)

  • One of the supervillains (in this case more of a deranged psychopath) that The Revenge Society interviews wields a knife in a reference to The Shining.

The Sound of Music (1965)

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

  • In the post-credits, the alternate-dimension "successful" Dr. Venture refers to Dr. Venture as "The UN-talented Mr. Ripley".

T. S. Eliot


Walt Disney Company

  • The appearance of numerous "Bizzy Bee" images around New York City is a reference to the numerous images of characters associated with the Walt Disney Company which dot Times Square. Bizzy Bee is an animated character created by Venture villain Roy Brisby, and the show previously mentioned how Brisby was "taking over" Times Square (much as the Disney company has been accused of culturally destroying the same area.)

Production Notes and Trivia[]

  • 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 Bright Lights, Dean City the credit reads Kimson "Hot Sandwich" Albert.


Leonard Pierce of The AV Club gave Bright Lights, Dean City a B.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Pierce, Leonard. Bright Lights, Dean City. The AV Club. October 10, 2010. Retrieved October 12, 2010. <,46171/>

Preceded by:
"Everybody Comes to Hank's"
The Venture Bros. episodes
Original Airdate:
October 10th, 2010
Followed by:
"Assisted Suicide"