"Mid-Life Chrysalis"
The Venture Bros. episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 8
Directed by Jackson Publick
Written by Doc Hammer
Jackson Publick
Production code 1-03
Original air date 25 September 2004
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"Ice Station - Impossible!"
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"Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean"
List of The Venture Bros. episodes

Mid-Life Chrysalis is the eighth episode of Season 1 and the overall eighth episode of The Venture Bros.


While flying to Marrakech, the X-1 is intercepted by fighter planes and instructed to land. On the ground, the airmen curtly state that the jet has violated secure airspace. Dr. Venture begins to reply, but the soldiers cut him off, insulting his scrawny frame and calling him "Grandpa." When Brock Samson produces his Office of Secret Intelligence agent identification, he is shocked to learn that his license to kill has expired.

The incident sends both of the men into depression, with Brock losing his purpose in life and Venture frantically grasping at his faded youth. Hank Venture and Dean Venture attempt to cheer Brock up, finally volunteering to help him pass his recertification exam. In the meantime, Venture drags out his "swinging single" wardrobe and buys a new sports car and a toupee. Dressed in a hideous ensemble he thinks is fashionable, he begs Brock to accompany him for a "boys' night out." Brock reluctantly agrees, if only for entertainment purposes. Temporarily unsupervised, Dean dares Hank to drink a disgusting mixture he concocts. After agreeing to the stakes (their grandfather's baseball glove, $15, and Dean's slavery for the remainder of the night), Hank closes his eyes and downs the awful drink. He then proceeds to command Dean to perform a series of demeaning chores.

Venture and Brock pull up to a nearly deserted strip club. While Venture flirts awkwardly with the strippers, the bartender mocks Brock's mullet haircut, sending the bodyguard into further depression since he can no longer kill with impunity. He meets one of the strippers in the restroom for a sexual encounter, but is unable to perform due to tantalizing memories of his secret agent adventures. Improbably, a woman begins showing interest in Venture; he fails to recognize that "Charlene" is a thinly-disguised Dr. Girlfriend. She continues the charade while remaining in contact with the Monarch through a communications link. Venture takes her back to the Venture Compound, where he begins fumbling for a condom; while he is distracted Dr. Girlfriend delivers an injection to his neck that knocks him out cold.

The next morning, Brock continues to mope over his expired license. Dr. Venture struts through the kitchen, none-too-subtly announcing his perceived "score" from the previous night and proudly displaying the "hickey" on his neck and his "two" cups of coffee. Dean and Brock are sitting at the table going through a sample exam of the secret agent exam. As he returns to the bedroom with two mugs, Brock says "Monarch's outside." As "Rusty" returns with the coffee he is dismayed to find Charlene gone. Still smitten, he calls her and insists on another "date". Dr. Girlfriend agrees, leading to an argument with the Monarch over her motives. Hank appears in a sweat-suit, commanding the bodyguard to drink a glass of raw eggs before beginning an exercise regimen. Hank revels in his role of trainer, verbally abusing Brock while putting him through an exhaustive fitness routine. Dean does his part by helping him study for the written portion of the exam. Brock attempts to alert Venture to the growth that has consumed one side of his face, but the lovestruck doctor dismisses the bodyguard's brief display of concern.

The next morning, a pessimistic Brock leaves to take his recertification exam. Seconds later, Hank and Dean hear a blood-curdling scream from their father's bedroom. They investigate and find that Venture has turned into a gigantic caterpillar with a human face. The distraught scientist attempts to find a chemical solution to his predicament, but his prolegs can not manipulate the equipment and H.E.L.P.eR. proves useless. Resigned to his fate, he tries to convince H.E.L.P.eR. and Hank to shoot him. The Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend continue to quibble over Venture's fate. When she expresses sympathy for him, the jealous Monarch accuses her of sleeping with him. She responds that he is nicer than she thought he would be and regrets injecting him with the serum.

At the exam, Brock refuses to fire a handgun, destroying several cardboard targets by hurling the firearm and several others with his knife. On the written portion, he merely doodles. The examiner initially seems disgusted by Brock's incompetence, but soon confesses that Samson has fulfilled his every expectation; Brock had not only saved the life of the examiner's father (who spoke very highly of Samson to his son), but babysat the examiner himself decades ago. Venture's new insectile instincts move him to spin a cocoon from the laboratory ceiling. He is surprised by Charlene, who says goodbye and gives him a final kiss... and then injects him with another mysterious compound. The final scene shows Venture awakening naked and restored to his normal form on the lab floor — Dr. Girlfriend had administered the antidote.

Brock later returns to the strip club and shows the bartender his newly restored to license to kill. After staring at it and Brock for a few seconds, the bartender is jumped by Brock, leading to a possible off-screen beating.

Episode CastEdit

Cultural ReferencesEdit

  • When Dr. Venture is turned into a caterpillar, he warns Hank that he may soon turn into something dangerous that might try to kill the boys, and demands to know if Hank knows how to fire a shotgun (presumably, to euthanize Venture before he can harm his sons). This is a reference to the movie The Fly, in which the creator of a teleportation device fuses with a fly, becoming a horrible insect hybrid, and in the end is euthanized with a shotgun blast to the head.
  • Brock's flashback, when he is painted blue, is a reference to the Jonny Quest episode "In Pursuit of the Po-Ho".
  • When the examiner questions the winged figure Brock drew on the written exam, the bodyguard refers to it as "Icarus." The figure is the logo of Swan Song Records, which was founded by Led Zeppelin. Although it is based on an 1869 painting of Apollo by William Rimmer, the modified version is thought to refer to Icarus.[1]
  • Hank tells Dean to "Make it shine, Gunga Din." Gunga Din was portrayed as a character of lower importance in Rudyard Kipling's famous poem of the same name, as well as a movie starring Cary Grant.
  • Hank tells Brock that he's going to make him, "Eat lightning and crap thunder." The same line was used by Burgess Meredith's character in the first Rocky movie.
  • Doctor Venture's comment when he reveals that he has been turned into a caterpillar, "torn from the pages of Kafka" is a reference to Franz Kafka's book The Metamorphosis in which the main character transforms into an insect.
  • In the scene where Dr. Venture calls Dr. Girlfriend after their night, a copy of Vladimir Nabokov's book Lolita is lying open on the bed, on which Dr Venture is lying in a posture similar to one usde by the actress Ewa Aulin in publicity photos used to promote the film "Lolita".
  • Brock mentions taking out a sniper by ripping off an alligator's jawbone and using at as a throwing weapon, which is similar to how Samson, the biblical figure that Brock is named after, was said to have slain an army using a donkey's jawbone. (Brock has also used the jawbone of a Monarch henchman as weapon in another episode.)
  • Before being grounded, Team Venture's intended mission was to prevent mutant lizard-people from overrunning the real world city of Marrakech, Morocco.
  • Dr. Venture orders a Rob Roy cocktail at the bar.
  • After Dr. Venture sheds his human skin and morphs into a caterpillar, Hank says that if his father were to put his dermis under his pillow the Tooth Fairy would "probably give him like a grand" for it.

Connections to Other EpisodesEdit

  • This episode sees the introduction of no new notable characters, though General Treister is first mentioned in this episode, but won't appear until later.
  • This episode is flashed back to in Showdown at Cremation Creek (Part I).[2]
  • The boys directly ask Dr. Venture about their mother. He pauses, realizes he's never told them about her, and is about to start telling them when he gets interrupted. This is one of the more prominent hints dropped in Season 1 about the mystery of the boys' mothers' identity, which will come to the forefront in I Know Why the Caged Bird Kills, in late Season 2.
  • The bartender from the strip club reappears in The Family That Slays Together, Stays Together (Part I), indicating he survives whatever it is Brock does to him after the episode cuts to the end credits.
  • In Showdown at Cremation Creek (Part I), Rusty realized Dr. Girlfriend was the woman he was into that week. According to Dr. Girlfriend, The Monarch intended to electrocute Rusty with a giant bug zapper when he finished his transformation into a butterfly.

Production NotesEdit

  • The episode's title is a combination of "mid-life crisis" (the depression Brock and Venture experience) and chrysalis (the pupal phase of a butterfly's life). Doc Hammer has stated he felt this was a great title.[3]
  • During this episode's DVD commentary, Jackson Publick expresses surprise at the references he "got away with" in "Chrysalis", including strippers, supposed anarchists, and an abortion joke. He stated that the "little black boxes" censoring nudity and near-nudity only made the episode funnier.[3]
  • On the DVD commentary, Publick and Hammer discuss the inspiration for Dr. Venture's bar-hopping ensemble as being based on something they saw on a "bad clothing" website.[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 this episode, the credit reads Kimson "all out of condom" Albert.


  • At 19 minutes and 46 seconds into the episode: As Dr. Venture is spinning his cocoon, the camera rotates 180 degrees and the edge of the frame can be seen, just right of Hank.[3]


  2. Episode "Showdown at Cremation Creek (Part I)"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Season 1 DVD commentary for "Mid-Life Chrysalis"

Preceded by:
"Ice Station – Impossible!"
The Venture Bros. episodes
Original Airdate:
September 25, 2004
Followed by:
"Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean"