Despite being the title characters, much of Adult Swim’s The Venture Bros. has been about anything but the two boys that run in silhouette across the screen during the show’s opening. The series focuses heavily on their father and his efforts to make something of himself, despite having enough enemies to justify some semblance of scientific success. But as the seasons moved forward, Dean and Hank Venture truly began to come into focus, bridging from sheer comic relief into characters with goals, problems, and personal demons to face. Dean, in particular, has traversed the path from possible prodigy to living for himself, in more ways than one.
Mike Sinterniklaas, the voice of Dean Venture, gave a little insight into where Dean has been, and where he’s going in Venture Bros. Season 7.
“Dean certainly has moved past failing to remain alive, so that’s a big step,” Sinterniklaas Sinterniklaas told Den of Geek at San Diego Comic Con. The actor noted the changing themes of the show over the course of time, specifically when they concerned Dean’s development. “Now it’s all or nothing for poor Dean, he doesn’t have any backup clones. I do think it’s interesting for me to see that Dean has sort of matured. We’ve watched the evolution of him being true to himself.”
Dean’s relationship with his father determined much of his path over the course of the show’s first five seasons, but with the sixth, Dean began breaking away from the path that his father and grandfather went down. After spending most of his life being dragged through missions with his family and Brock Samson, Dean seems ready to leave behind the madness he knows for a more serene, peaceful life. But in order to theorize on where the young Venture is headed in Season 7, it’s worth looking back at his journey toward it, which has been full of its own little surprises throughout the course of the show.
When we first met Dean Venture, he was a gangly sixteen-year-old who wanted little more in life than to enjoy his days, despite being the more introverted twin in comparison to Hank. Most of Dean’s antics throughout the show’s first two seasons were just that–humor either at his expense or by his creation, and the occasional plot beat to lend to Rusty’s story. For the most part, it almost felt like the boys were largely in the dark when it came to the inner workings of their father’s rather unique mind, likely for the better.
This changed with the introduction of characters like Triana, Dean’s first crush, who ultimately gave the character something more to do than meander around through the episodes. Sure, Dean dealt with his feelings for her like any teenage boy would (read: poorly) but he was also one of the more endearing characters right off the bat, a tiny beat of innocence and naivete within a sandstorm of dirty jokes and grown-up arch nemesis problems that surrounded Doc Venture.
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Of course, not everything has sunshine and roses for Dean — but we probably don’t need to tell you that. For example, Dean’s relationship with Triana went downhill rather quickly, particularly when she took on a boyfriend. Dean’s reaction was no less than juvenile, and despite his efforts to smooth things over, the damage he did to their friendship seems somewhat irreversible at this point. “[Triana] is probably not going to be a big part of this [season],” said Sinterniklaas. “But there are, as I’ve been told by my Papa, other fish in the sea.”
Over time, the show began to spell out the fact that Dean seems to hold on to his nativete as a form of protection; while quite a few things might fly over his head, like sexual innuendos or direct instructions, he also often seems to directly pretend not to understand things, or let specific actions happen by simply playing dumb about it. The fraternal twin has been thrown into countless traumatizing situations, some a little more serious than most. For much of the first few seasons, he only needed to serve as the butt of a joke, but eventually, as the boys became more integral to the story, Dean found himself in the middle of far more dangerous situations. The use of altering Nano-bots in his body, put there by Doc and his cohorts, turned a simple tutoring session with Brock into a near-death experience for Dean. Doc removed them, but the damage was done.
Speaking of damage, one of the biggest challenges Dean seemed to face over the course of the most recent seasons was the fact that he and his brother were clones; replaceable clones, at that. The strangest aspects of their lives, including the still-unclear circumstances of their birth as well as the way they were homeschooled (during their sleep) suddenly seemed to click into place. Shortly after the revelation, though, almost every single clone was destroyed, leaving just the two Venture brothers to fend for themselves and actually try to stay alive.
Throughout the course of his developing story, it’s been hinted multiple times that Dean’s divergence from Rusty’s path might be because the boy has a much darker edge to him; darker, even, than his rather Spider-Man 3 emo Peter Parker haircut. The Sovereign — a villain who pretended, for quite some time, to be David Bowie — claimed that it was in Dean’s blood, as Dean is the rightful heir to the title of Sovereign of the Guild of Calamitous Intent, due to an ancestor of his leading the evil faction. Audiences are still unsure about Dean’s possible turn to the Dark Side, but it would prove to be an interesting turn in a story that tends to be far more serious when you think (probably too deeply, like this writer) about it
With Season 7 just hours away, one thing is for sure: Dean’s story has come into its own over the past several years. Both he and Hank have been crafted into robust characters, and watching the way their paths diverge has become half of the fun. “I’m excited to see how it all comes together,” Sinterniklaas said. “What happens to Dean now and his adventures in college. Truly living up to being his father’s son, the only one who went to school.”
The Venture Bros. airs Sunday nights at midnight on Adult Swim.