The Joy Can is a metal pod the size of a small room, large enough to comfortably hold several individuals. The machine probes the user's brain to manufacture hallucinations of his or her deepest desires. As the device is primarily intended for masturbation purposes, the door lock is on the inside of the Joy Can to protect the user's privacy.
It is a rare example of an inanimate object being referred to as an Abomination. The Joy Can seemed to have a malignant desire to entice people to enter and hypnotize them. Dr. Orpheus could sense a malevolent evil within the device.
In the episode Eeney, Meeney, Miney... Magic! the Joy Can apparently malfunctioned, trapping several individuals inside. Dr. Orpheus blamed the malfunction on the machine being haunted by the spirit of a "forsaken child", causing Dr. Venture to sheepishly admit that he (partially) used the heart of an orphan to power the Joy Can.
Hank Venture was the first member of the Venture family to feel the pull of the Joy Can. When Hank spotted the booth, he was entranced, walking towards it in a dazed state. He saw a blissful vision of his father offering to play catch as his mother (heard but not seen) offered them grilled cheese sandwiches. Brock Samson noticed Hank's near-hypnosis and forcibly stopped him from entering the booth; he glanced towards the machine, however, and walked into it in the same trance-like manner.
Inside the booth, Brock fulfilled his dreams, first by receiving forgiveness from Tommy, a teammate Brock accidentally killed during college football practice. Tommy then disappeared, as Brock's clothing became that of a Native American warrior, and ninjas began to rain down from the sky while Brock was assaulted by cowboys, dinosaurs, and polar bears driving cars mounted with machine guns. Brock proceeded to kill them all brutally; his garb then changed to a tuxedo, and a bed materialized, with Molotov Cocktease appearing from nowhere to finally consummate their relationship.
While the two doctors argued, Hank and Dean managed to get inside the machine wearing tinfoil hats. Thinking quickly, they wrapped a urine-soaked shirt around Brock's head to block the machine's effects; it worked, but they could not find a way to open the machine afterward.
Outside the booth, Dr. Orpheus concluded that true love is the key to opening the machine, but was fruitless at inspiring it. Triana Orpheus entered the lab, looking for her father. When her voice penetrated the booth, Dean's feelings of love opened the doors at once.
With Venture's reluctant agreement, Orpheus destroyed the Joy Can with arcane bolts.
- The virtual reality in the Joy Can was probably inspired by the 1950 Ray Bradbury short story "The Veldt".
- The virtual reality technology of the Joy Can is also similar to the holodeck from Star Trek.
- The idea that the Joy Can is powered by the heart of an orphan was likely taken from the 1993 B-movie Arcade, where the villain is a video arcade machine that is powered by a dead little boy's brain cells.