"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
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"The Doctor Is Sin"
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"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 O.S.I. 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 O.S.I., 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 Fantomas at "State University" is recruiting students into the Guild. Billy enrols in Fantomas'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.

Fantomas' 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 Fantomas 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 Fantomas 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, O.S.I. had cheated for Billy and used a paper written by Stephen Hawking. Fantomas 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 Fantomas 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 Fantomas. Professor Fantomas' 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 O.S.I. superior named Sergeant Haine--looking and sounding like Sgt. Hatred and 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.

O.S.I. 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.

Episode Cast

First Appearances

Connections to Other Episodes

Home Insecurity

Ice Station - Impossible!

Past Tense

  • Professor Fantomas admires Billy's robot hand, surmising that it was based on a design from his former student Mike Sorayama. Mike Sorayama was last seen dead, at his funeral, in the Season 1 episode Past Tense.

Victor. Echo. November.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Kills

Showdown at Cremation Creek (Part I)

The Doctor is Sin

  • 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.

Blood of the Father, Heart of Steel

Cultural References

Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse (2004)

Back to the Future (1985)

  • 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 billboard next to Pete White's trailer is the same billboard that Marty McFly sees when he travels back to 1955 in Back to the Future.

Berlin Wall / Bilderberg Group

  • 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.

Casper the Friendly Ghost

Cow Poker

  • To pass the time during their road trip Brock Samson and Colonel Hunter Gathers play the travel game Cow Poker.

Die Hard (1988)

  • Professor Fantomas' appearance, hairstyle, and clothing are based on Hans Gruber, Alan Rickman's villainous character from the 1988 action film Die Hard.

Don Quixote


Flight of the Navigator (1986)

Ghostbusters (1984)

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1983-1986)

Goldilocks and The Three Bears


  • An irritated Hunter Gathers refers to Brock as a "lurid golem" when they switch seats on their road trip.

Jeopardy! (1964-present)

  • The underground quiz competitions take answers in the form of a question, using the rules popularized by the televised quiz show Jeopardy!

Jonny Quest (1964-1965)

Little Nemo

  • Pete White uses the codename "Little Nemo" for Billy, a reference to the comic strip character created by Winsor McCay who has fabulous adventures in his dreams only to wake up at the end of each strip.

Louie Anderson

  • The quiz show contestant who accuses Billy of cheating looks like the child cartoon character, Louie, from the Life with Louie (1994-1998) animated series. The series is based on the childhood of comedian Louie Anderson, a game show host on Family Feud.

Louis XIV of France

Magna Carta (1215)

  • Billy correctly answers the first question in the underground quizboy competition with "The Magna Carta" after only hearing the date.

Mobile Suit Gundam (1979-1980)

Nguyễn Ngọc Loan

  • During the O.S.I. theme song cutaway an O.S.I. agent is seen executing a S.P.H.I.N.X. agent in the same manner as the famous photograph of General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executing a Viet Cong prisoner in Saigon.

Pass by catastrophe

  • To convince Billy to become his lab assistant, Fantomas 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 called "Pass by catastrophe".

Richard III of England

  • In his final appearance on the Quizboys tv show, Billy Quizboy had the correct answer of Richard III of England substituted for his incorrect guess to the question of who was the last king of the Plantagenet dynasty.

Stephen Colbert

  • 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] Jackson Publick 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.

Stephen Hawking

The Incredible Hulk (1977-1982)

  • Shore Leave calls Hunter and Brock "Mr. McGee and his little friend The Hulk." Both were characters on the television series The Incredible Hulk.
    • Jack McGee is a tabloid news reporter who obsessively pursues The Hulk, thinking that exposing him as a deadly menace will help his journalistic career.
    • The Hulk is a huge, incredibly strong green creature into which protagonist Dr. David Banner transforms in times of extreme anger or stress.

The Six Million Dollar Man (1973-1978)

The Village People

  • Col. Gathers mocks Shore Leave by telling him that "The Village People called..." The Village People were a popular '70s 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.

Watchmen (1986-1987)

  • One of the contestants in the underground quizboy competition wears a tshirt sporting the blood-spattered smiley face design from The Comedian's button in the Alan Moore comic book series Watchmen.

Wayland Flowers

  • Shore Leave tells Col. Gathers that "Wayland Flowers called. He wants his Madame back." Wayland Flowers is a comedian from the 1980s whose act featured a puppet named Madame.

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


  • The quiz show logo on Pete White's jacket is of a slightly different design to that on the TV show's set.


  • When Professor Fantomas and Billy go into the lab the door is left open, however in the next shot the door is closed behind them.
  • When Professor Fantomas 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.


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