Venture Brothers Wiki
"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"
List of The Venture Bros. episodes

Past Tense is the eleventh episode of Season 1 and the overall eleventh episode of The Venture Bros.


Thaddeus Venture, along with the rest of Team Venture, are in the X-1 flying to attend a funeral for which they are late. 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 human/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.

Episode Cast

First Appearances

Connections to Other Episodes

The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay

Eeney, Meeney, Miney... Magic!

Ghosts of the Sargasso

Return to Spider-Skull Island

Shadowman 9: In the Cradle of Destiny

The Invisible Hand of Fate

Perchance to Dean

  • The posters on Dr. Venture's dorm room wall in this episode are the first solid hint we get of his love for progressive rock music. He makes his feelings for the genre explicit when he lets Dean listen to his beloved crate of prog rock records in the Season Four episode Perchance to Dean.

Arrears in Science

Cultural References

50 Cent

  • 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, including one reading "60 CENT" (a parodic reference to rapper 50 Cent).

Bad Boys (1983)

  • When Hank claims that Brock killed two dervishes with a pillowcase full of Cokes, it's a reference to the 1983 film Bad Boys, in which Sean Penn fought using a pillowcase full of Cokes as a weapon.

Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979)

Blade Runner (1982)

Boba Fett

  • 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, including one depicting the Star Wars character Boba Fett.

Doc Savage

Dungeons & Dragons

Fargo (1996)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Gladiator (1930)

  • Brock Samson was expelled from State University after accidentally killing his fellow college football teammate, Tommy, an incident which still haunts him with guilt to this day. A similar incident occurs in the 1930 Philip Wylie novel Gladiator, a book which heavily influenced the pulp action and superhero genres.


  • One of the posters on T.S. Venture's dorm room wall is based on the prog rock band Gong's 1974 album You.

Hajime Sorayama

Heavy Metal


  • When Baron Ünderbheit walks into the church, a panicked Hank entreats Brock to "kick his butt!" Brock declines, stating that Ünderbheit won't do anything violent, as the church is "hallowed ground". This is a reference to the film Highlander, in which the principal antagonists may not fight each other on "holy ground", such as within a church. A similar reference is made in The Diving Bell Vs. The Butter-Glider, when Henchman 21 orders the pursuit of Team Venture broken off as they take an ailing Dr. Venture inside a Catholic hospital.

Horace Panter

Jehovah's Witnesses

Naked Lunch

Pete Rose

Pink Floyd

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962)

The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968)

The Godfather (1972)

  • 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 Incredible Hulk (1977-1982)

The Invisibles

  • Upon finding Rusty's missing molar in his old dorm room at State University, Kano proffers a piece of origami to Colonel Gentleman, who replies "No Kano, I don't think time machines figure into this caper." The origami figure resembles a similar one from the Grant Morrison comic book The Invisibles, where an ancient Japanese monk folds an origami configuration that generations later inspires his descendent to design a time machine.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

The Matrix (1999)

  • 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, including what appears to be a film poster for the 1999 film The Matrix.


  • In T.S. 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 prog rock band Yes.

Production Notes

  • 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.
  • Col. Gentleman's choice of houseboys indicates that he is a pederast (and a deleted scene included on the season one DVD features a line from Otto that seems to confirm this).[3]


  • This is the first episode to feature Pete White without Billy Quizboy in any capacity.


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


  • When Brock Escapes he saw The Original Team Venture Disguised Lesliebots you can see Doctor Venture and Pete White Out in their Cells next to Otto Aquarius
Preceded by:
"Tag Sale - You're It!"
The Venture Bros. episodes
Original Airdate:
October 16th, 2004
Followed by:
"The Trial of the Monarch"