"The Saphrax Protocol"
The Venture Bros. episode
Episode no. Season 7
Episode 10
Directed by Juno Lee
Written by Doc Hammer
Production code 710
Original air date October 7, 2018
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List of The Venture Bros. episodes

The Saphrax Protocol is the tenth and final episode of Season 7 and the overall eighty-first episode of The Venture Bros.


A "Blackout" team of Guild of Calamitous Intent agents infiltrates the VenTech Tower using the stolen teleporter pads. The Blackout leader lays out their plan for capturing Dr. Venture in elaborate detail, only to have a sleepy-eyed Dr. Venture walk in on the crew for an easy capture.

Dr. Venture is teleported to The Council of 13's outer space headquarters on Meteor Majeure, where Guild communications agents Watch and Ward sarcastically greet him, then sedate him.

In the conference room of Meteor Majeure, Red Mantle and Dragoon enter to find the other members of the Council of 13 annoyed at their tardiness. They were delayed by taking the shuttle instead of the teleporters, which they note were occupied with the Blackout operation that evening. Phantom Limb explains that Council member Dr. Phineas Phage is absent due to a recent teleporter accident that left him temporarily comatose, but that everybody else is present and ready to begin the evening's "Tenning" ceremony.

Hank Venture, dressed like Lando Calrissian from The Empire Strikes Back, walks through a blinding snowstorm. He comes to a frozen lake where he encounters ten creepy blank-eyed dolls that walk toward him menacingly, their plastic teeth gnashing. Hank's godfather, The Action Man, crests a snow-covered hill and yells a warning to Hank that the dolls can't see him if he stays perfectly still. Hank, who doesn't find the dolls the least bit scary, asks why he can't just kick them over. The Action Man admits that he never thought of that as he found the dolls deeply unsettling. Hanks walks through the cluster of dolls, effortlessly knocking all of them over, as he approaches The Action Man. The two discuss their surroundings, which Hank thinks are reminiscent of Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back, causing him to ask The Action Man why he's dressed as a Wookiee. The Action Man replies that he's dressed as Mark Hand the Catchman from the film Barbarella. The two quickly realize that neither one has seen the other's favorite "space fantasy movie".

Watch and Ward send the Blackout team leader back to the VenTech Tower to keep Brock Samson occupied. He finds the room filled with the bloody corpses of his Blackout team. When the Blackout team leader tries to question what he thinks is the surviving member of his team, a disguised Brock reaches out and breaks his windpipe. Brock has the Blackout team leader tell him, though nodding, how many agents will be sent to occupy him while Dr. Venture is kidnapped: 15. Brock uses his hunting knife to cut a vertical slit in the gasping Blackout team leader's throat, allowing him to breathe through it. His face returns from red to white as his lungs fill with air and blood gushes out of the hole in his neck.

Back on Meteor Majeure the "Tenning" ceremony begins in a room ringed with drummers in elaborate costumes. Members of the Council--Dr. Mrs. The Monarch, Dragoon, Phantom Limb, Radical Left, Red Death, and Red Mantle--stand near the center of the room. Red Mantle oversees the ancient ritual of the story of Saphrax, the first villain, and his comrade Altheaeus, the first henchman, with The Monarch embodying the former and Henchman 21 as the latter. The ritual is meant to prove to the Guild The Monarch's worthiness of an EMA Level of 10 and his eligibility to arch a Level 10 protagonist like Dr. Venture.

For the first Trial of Saphrax, Dr. Z wheels a hollow log into the room and dares The Monarch to retrieve a stone from inside it, warning him that a Beast slumbers within. Not finding an alternative, The Monarch sticks his hand into the log and feels around, quickly finding his arm encrusted with the Beast's waste. As Dr. Z needles him to hurry, The Monarch says he doesn't want to get bit, with Z expressing shock that The Monarch thinks they would bring a vicious animal into space. Confused, The Monarch asks why Dr. Z had warned him of the Beast's "wrath" earlier, with Red Mantle replying, "You're touching poop! It's pretty gruesome. I wouldn't do it."

A lone Blackout agent cautiously searches the lobby of the VenTech Tower, the red laser sight on his firearm tracking its way across the room as he makes his rounds. From within the samurai armor on display in the lobby Brock Samson opens his eyes. With a bloodcurdling cry Brock flies through the air, catching the Blackout agent completely off guard as a samurai sword impales his face to the lobby floor. Brock, still wearing the samurai armor, chuckles to himself as he slides for cover under the reception desk. He grabs the public address microphone and gives a speech to all of the Guild Blackout agents sent to distract him:

Testing. Testing. Hello, idiots. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for accepting this suicide mission. Your target, a one Brock Samson, has been really bored lately and will enjoy the shit outta this. Each one of you fine soldiers will be sacrificed for his amusement. Your unavoidable deaths will become the stuff of legend. Every new recruit will hear the story of the time the Guild Blackout got locked in the VenTech Tower behind 7-inch, bomb-proof steel doors and were killed one by one in glorious service to this dumb-ass guild you joined. Good luck out there, and thank you for your service.
After clicking off the P.A., Brock feels around for a gun underneath the reception desk, expressing disbelief that head of security Sergeant Hatred doesn't keep a weapon handy.

Sergeant Hatred, meanwhile, attempts to sweet talk Night Nurse Cindy Marie Abrams into letting him enter the Intensive Care Unit of Stuyvesant University Medical Center to visit the comatose Hank Venture. As he is not a blood relation she requests he take a seat in the waiting room.

Dean Venture, Hank's fraternal twin, has no such problem gaining entry to Hank's hospital room. He sits by his brother's bedside while monitors, respirators, and other hospital noises fill the room. Dean unfolds some college ruled notebook paper and begins reading his handwritten confession to the unconscious Hank of enumerated reasons why he is "a crap brother."

Zooming over a frozen river on a floating sled pulled by a flying stingray, Hank and The Action Man continue to argue about The Empire Strikes Back versus Barbarella. Hank explains to The Action Man that he isn't in a "Barbarella Purgatory" because he isn't dead, he's merely comatose from the stroke he suffered shortly before Thanksgiving. The Action Man asks Hank if he also had a stroke, with Hank guessing that something happened because he worried too much about his girlfriend, Sirena. The Action Man says his the younger Dr. Venture had been the same way, meeting a woman and becoming so unbearably clingy that she moved away and changed her name. Realizing that The Action Man is talking about Hank and Dean's mother, Hank presses him for more information and he divulges that she was an actress named Bobbi Saint Simone. As The Action Man cautions Hank that obsessive puppy love gave him a stroke and counsels him on the need to grow up, a vicious Wampa from The Empire Strikes Back appears directly in the path of their sled.

In the board room of the VenTech Tower a barefoot Brock Samson steps across the room-length table, sword in hand. A terrified Guild Blackout agents backs himself against the plate glass window, his gun drawn on Brock's torso. Brock dares him to fire and he obliges, knocking Brock onto his back. Brock stands back up, a bullet hole in his shirt right above the metal plate on his chest. He approaches the agent with his sword drawn, but finds himself disappointed mid-speech when the agent activates a hidden poison tooth, depriving Brock of the satisfaction of the kill. Brock furiously yells aloud that he considers this "cheating".

Dead bodies begin stacking up in the teleporter room on Meteor Majeure, but Watch and Ward can barely be bothered to notice as they are totally engrossed in the results from a "clunky old blood analyzer". After running the tests four times and receiving the same results each time they have to conclude that The Monarch and Dr. Venture are blood related.

The Monarch continues his Tenning ceremony, approaching his wife, who is dressed as a bridge keeper. She asks him what business he has on the other side of the bridge and he answers that her mother is there waiting to have sex with him. The assembled crowd gasps "Oh, no, he didn't!" in unison and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch informs "Saphrax" that he shall not pass.

Henchman 21 then approaches to assist The Monarch, warning the bridge keeper that his army of troops stand behind her, thirsty for her blood. Dr. Mrs. The Monarch turns to look behind her, dramatically narrating her actions. Henchman 21 takes the opportunity to pantomime stabbing her with a wooden sword, declaring that he has "made [her] look." Dr. Mrs. The Monarch cries that she has been deceived expertly and pretends to die. The assembled crowd appreciatively chants that Altheaeus is the father of "made you look." Phantom Limb declares that Altheaeus has performed exceptionally and as a result has transcended the role of henchman, earning the title of Level 4 supervillain. The Monarch, visibly displeased, angrily protests that the ceremony was meant to be HIS party.

In Hank's hospital room Dean continues pouring out confessions to his unconscious brother. He laments that the two of them are no longer close like they used to be and don't share secrets anymore, then proceeds to unleash a flood of private information that he suspects Hank doesn't know: their father is also a clone; H.E.L.P.eR. has a "brother"; Dermott Fictel is their half-brother; Dermott's real mother is Nikki Fictel, the woman who took Hank's virginity (though he had the memory erased by S.P.H.I.N.X.); and their father still masturbates, which grosses Dean out. Dean then confesses to Hank that he's jealous of him for being carefree enough to dress as Batman in public.

Hank and The Action Man find themselves suspended by their ankles from an icy ceiling, replicating the scene from The Empire Strikes Back where Luke Skywalker is captured by the Wampa and taken to its frozen cave. Hank, noting that he is dressed like the rakish smuggler Lando Calrissian, attempts to use his charm to seduce the attacking Wampa, with no success. When it seems like Hank and The Action Man are doomed to be eaten, lasers fire and the Wampa falls over dead with a hole in its torso. They look up to see Dr. Phineas Phage, whose robotic lower half has been transformed into an AT-AT Imperial Walker from The Empire Strikes Back and whose torso sports massive wings, like the angel Pygar from Barbarella. Phage frees them and commands them to follow him. After Hank notes all the references to The Empire Strikes Back, The Action Man muses that he's interested in seeing the movie.

As his Tenning ceremony nears completion, The Monarch approaches a majestic looking tent while guiding Radical Left--costumed as an Empress--by the left arm. He raises his wooden sword and calls out to his enemy, "Emperor Flavius", to emerge from the tent and meet his doom at the hand of Saphrax. The Monarch boasts that he has twice bedded the Emperor's wife, with the chorus of Council members responding "Saphrax, the father of players." Before he can enter the tent Dr. Z stops him to exchange the wooden sword for a real sword and Red Mantle reveals that the tent contains his real sworn enemy: Dr. Venture, who has been gagged and strapped to an upright table. The Council offers The Monarch the opportunity to slay Dr. Venture with no repercussions and permanently end their grudge, then leaves him alone in the tent with his nemesis to make the decision in privacy.

A bloody Brock Samson, surrounded by dead Guild Blackout agents in the middle of the living room, raises a spear to attack, then pauses to announce he needs to urinate. He asks aloud if anybody else needs to take a "whiz break", with the agent he was attacking incredulous at the notion. An unseen attacker, identified by Brock, reluctantly admits that he also has to urinate.

Sergeant Hatred continues in his fruitless attempts to convince night nurse Cindy Marie Abrams to let him visit Hank's hospital room. In the room, Dean confesses to sleeping with Hank's girlfriend, Sirena, saying he doesn't know why he did it. Dean says he misses the relative simplicity of their life at the Venture Compound and he misses his twin brother. He tousles Hank's hair, noting that he was always jealous of it, and makes a final plea for Hank to return from his coma.

Dr. Phineas Phage flies through "Coma Town", carrying Hank and The Action Man in his arms and explaining to them how a transporter accident landed him there. When he mentions having seen a "glowing lake of goo" The Action Man identifies this as the Matmos from Barbarella and directs Phage to take them there.

A shirtless Sergeant Hatred promises an unenthused Cindy Marie Abrams that she can do whatever she wants with him if she just lets him visit Hank for three minutes. Dean emerges from the ICU and Cindy asks him to get Hatred to leave her alone. Dean directs Hatred to put his shirt back on, assures him that he'll be watching over Hank, and asks that Hatred go home to comfort Dr. Venture, as he's likely worried about Hank's comatose state. Hatred complies.

Hank, The Action Man, and Phineas Phage land on a floating platform above the glowing Matmos, which Hank equates to The Force from Star Wars. Deciding that he must take The Action Man's advice about growing up, Hank declares his intent to plunge into the Matmos. Phage is skeptical of this qualifying as a mature decision, but Hank presses on, declaring that the dive will either wake him up in the real world or kill him in his coma. He says his goodbyes and jumps in. The Action Man expresses his admiration of Hank's "moxie", while Phage sniffs that Hank likely has undiagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

A dead Guild Blackout agent teleports back to Meteor Majeure with a note pinned to it from Brock Samson, who threatens to come over in person if the Guild doesn't return Dr. Venture. Watch and Ward make their way to the Tenning ceremony to retrieve him.

The Monarch exits the tent with his sword unbloodied, admitting to the Council that he chose not to take Dr. Venture's life. They ask if he has decided to carry on his grudge without the help of Henchman 21. A frustrated and embittered Monarch lashes out at the Council, telling them that he is too old to start over--and he certainly can't do it without the aid of his wife or his best friend--so he is choosing to quit the Guild. Henchman 21 steps forward to agree, stating the he doesn't want to be a villain on his own, he just want to support his best friend with his grudge, disavowing the Guild and pledging his allegiance to The Monarch. The Council applauds their decision, divulging that this had been part of their test and that they had passed it. On behalf of the Council, Phantom Limb pronounced The Monarch and his Number 2 to rightfully be "Level Ten Villains with all benefits that title is heir to." The room erupts into congratulations and rejoicing.

Watch and Ward interrupt the rejoicing to pick up Dr. Venture for return through his teleporter. Watch says he can't hold in the secret of their blood relation any longer, with Ward desperately urging him to bite his tongue until a better time. Watch says he has to reveal it. From outside Meteor Majeure we hear The Monarch angrily shriek "Are you kidding me?!"

After the credits rolls, Dean Venture finds himself being shaken awake in the hospital lobby by Cindy Marie Abrams. She informs him that his brother is gone, with Dean immediately going into panic mode about Hank's death. Cindy Marie Abrams attempts to calm him, explaining that Hank isn't dead--he's gone. He left the hospital without a trace. Dean rushes outside to look for his brother, pulling aside a stranger who looks similar to Hank and apologizing for the mistake. Hank dramatically narrates in voiceover as Dean stands still and alone amidst the foot traffic in front of Stuyvesant University Medical Center:

I'm everywhere and nowhere. I'm a man on a mission and a mission on a man. I'll find myself even if I have to look in myself. It's time I grow up. Call me... The Bat.
Hank, in the middle of a throng of Manhattan pedestrians, turns to look at the camera and pulls down the hood of his jacket, revealing that he is wearing his Batman mask.

Episode Cast

First Appearances

Episode Transcript

See: The Saphrax Protocol (transcript)

Connections to Other Episodes

Powerless in the Face of Death

Everybody Comes to Hank's

  • It is revealed Dean knows the truth about the heritage of Dermott Fictel, which his father confessed to him while drunk. Dermott's parentage was first revealed in the Season 4 episode Everybody Comes to Hank's and confirmed in the Season 5 episode Momma's Boys.

Venture Libre

O.S.I. Love You

The Devil's Grip

Arrears in Science

The Inamorata Consequence

The Unicorn in Captivity

The Forecast Manufacturer

Cultural References


  • Pop music boy band founded in 1996. Hank had one of their CDs, which Dean openly mocked him for owning despite Dean secretly enjoying it and later borrowing it for himself.

Alatheus and Saphrax

  • The episode's title refers to the real life historical figures Alatheus and SaphraxGreuthungi chieftains who served as co-regents for Vithericus, son and heir of the Gothic king Vithimiris. Both figures are referenced repeatedly in The Monarch's EMA Level 10 ceremony aboard Meteor Majeure.
  • The story told in the ceremony differs from real history; The Guild's version ends with Saphrax sparing Emperor Flavius Valens instead of stabbing him in his tent, whereas Valens actually died in battle against Saphrax and Alatheus.

Barbarella (1968)

  • The coma world resembles the landscape of Tau Ceti's 16th planet, which The Action Man refers to as the "Ice of Wier".
  • Hank is attacked by several dolls with razor-sharp teeth, which he easily kicks aside.
  • The top of Dr. Phineas Phage's body, with the wings, is based on the blind angel Pygar.
  • Hank dives into the Matmos: living energy in liquid form, powered by evil thoughts and used as an energy source in the city of Sogo.


  • Hank vows to leave his wealthy life behind to grow up and become The Bat, just as Bruce Wayne did in Batman Begins (2005).
  • Hank wears his plastic Halloween mask from the Adam West Batman series in the 1960s, previously seen in numerous episodes.

Billy Dee Williams

Darkman (1990)

  • Hank's speech and Dean trying to find him in the post credits sequence come from the closing scene of this early Sam Raimi superhero film.

Diff'rent Strokes (1978-1986)

NYPD Blue (1993-2005)

Rushmore (1998)

Semana Santa (Holy Week in Spain)

  • Holy Week in Spain (Spanish: Semana Santa) is the annual tribute of the Passion of Jesus Christ celebrated by Catholic religious brotherhoods (Spanish: cofradía) and fraternities that perform penance processions on the streets of almost every Spanish city and town during the last week of Lent, the week immediately before Easter. The Guild Choir in the background of The Monarch's Tenning ceremony wear the distinctive cloaks and hoods (capirotes) of Spanish Holy Week processions.

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

  • Hank is dressed as Lando Calrissian.
  • Hank mistakes The Action Man's fur-covered outfit for a Wookiee costume.
  • The coma world resembles the ice planet Hoth.
  • Hank thinks the stingray pulling their sled is a Mynock.
  • Hank and The Action Man are trapped in a cave by a Wampa.
  • The bottom of Dr. Phineas Phage's body is replaced with an AT-AT Imperial Walker.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)


  • The Guild Council refers to The Monarch's ceremony as a "Tenning", due to his applying for an EMA Level 10.
  • While unconscious in Stuyvesant University Medical Center, Hank meets his godfather The Action Man in a purgatory-like world and learns that his and Dean's real mother was an actress named Bobbi Saint Simone. Dr. Venture apparently became obsessive and emotionally smothered her until she stopped taking his calls, changed her name, and moved to another state.
  • When Brock sends a dead blackout team member back through the portal with a note pinned to his chest there are way more than 15 bodies on the floor. Apparently The Guild sent in additional reinforcements to keep Brock further occupied.

Preceded by:
"The Forecast Manufacturer"
The Venture Bros. episodes
Original Airdate:
October 7, 2018
Followed by:
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