"Dr." Thaddeus S. "Rusty" Venture is one of the main characters on the Adult Swim show The Venture Bros., and parodies such adventuring scientists like Dr. Benton Quest and Doc Savage. He is voiced by James Urbaniak.
Dr. Venture is perhaps the central character on the show, as most everything revolves around him and something or someone affiliated with him. He is son of the late, great Jonas Venture, the premier scientist of his day and leader of the original Team Venture, and although as a child seemed to relish the adventuring life, in his current middle-age (43 as of "Twenty Years to Midnight") now despises it and constantly fails to live up to the legacy of his father and the expectations the world had for him. He hallucinates of his father at times; and, in a manner both amusing and depressing, still manages to be one-upped by these hallucinations ("Careers in Science"). These hallucinations may have something to do with his 'diet pills' and withdrawals from them.
In addition to the original Team Venture, Jonas and Thaddeus had several other affiliates, such as Jonas' bodyguard, the middleweight boxing champ Swifty and Thaddeus's friend Hector, a young Mexican boy. Despite recently re-learning of their existence, Venture fired both of these men from their long-time jobs at Venture Industries ("Powerless in the Face of Death").
Thaddeus has two sons of his own, Hank and Dean. His approach to parenting is charitably described as self-centered, relying heavily on his bodyguard Brock Samson to keep the boys out of trouble. Despite Brock's formidable abilities, the boys have died over a dozen times. Thus, Venture has developed 'clone slugs' to regenerate the boys' bodies and uses audio-suggestive devices in their beds to record their memories nightly. Despite his ridicule and negligence, he does seem to love the boys at heart, or at least possesses a sense of responsibility for them; he keeps re-cloning them (and hides this information from them, in order to protect their sanity), once tried to protect Hank from possibly being shot by Richard Impossible ("Ice Station -- Impossible!"), has expressed concern for the boys innocence in regard to sexual affairs (The Trial of the Monarch), and expressed concern and regret when Dean began to have serious testicular pains (Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean). When offered the opportunity to become a successful arch-nemesis to his brother thanks to Dr. Henry Killinger, Venture declined.
Venture attempts to be hip and competent to impress Brock, which usually fails ("Mid-Life Chrysalis"). Despite this, he and Brock have a relatively amicable relationship, and Brock (to his credit) has stayed improbably loyal to Dr. Venture and his assigned task of protecting him from any and all harm. Venture seems to find Brock emotionally comforting as well. Thaddeus also has friendships with two college-era friends, Dr. Peter White and Master Billy Quizboy, whom he occasionally turns to for help. However, another college friend, Baron Werner Ünderbheit, blames Venture for the lab accident that resulted in Ünderbheit's lower jaw being lost; Venture repeatedly denies any involvement, and it is later revealed to the audience that it was the result of an unsuccessful attempt by The Monarch to kill Venture.
The Monarch considers himself Venture's archenemy, for an as yet unexplained reason, yet Venture himself seems to considers the Monarch a nuisance unworthy of serious consideration ("Dia de Los Dangerous!"). The Monarch nonetheless repeatedly seeks to ruin Venture's life (as the Monarch once explained, "It's what I do! That's my THING!") albeit unsuccessfully.
His inventions tend to be re-inventions and inferior versions of what his father built, and he abuses illegal stimulants, which he calls 'diet pills', to keep himself going and repress traumatic memories of childhood such as being forced to test out a prototype Theme Park Ride (The Incredible Mr. Brisby). He also exhibits male lactation during moments of extreme stress. Dr. Venture, in short, is a man whose childhood was unstable and unpredictable, has never been able to live up to the expectations placed upon him and is now a bitter, washed-up, and burnt-out man; this is largely thanks to the fact that he had for 43 years been carrying his half-developed Twin Brother Jonas, who he had absorbed in the womb.
Venture has moments of insight and compassion, and even charm and wit, but these are few and far between, as he often falls back into cynicism, self-pity, extreme egotism, and utter amorality. Perhaps his lowest point came in "Eeney, Meeney, Miney... Magic!", when it was revealed that he had taken an orphan's heart and used it to power a new invention. He seems to maintain his adventuring life because he has nothing else going for him. His only alternative appears to be a career lecturing at Mexican community colleges.
Dr. Venture is landlord to Dr. Orpheus. Although the two get along well enough, Dr. Venture is frequently annoyed by Orpheus' dramatics and the two have debated the merits of technology vs. magic extensively. Dr. Venture tends to be jealous of Orpheus for petty reasons, such as all the attention he was getting screening potential archenemies ("Fallen Arches"). Venture apparently has a low opinion of Triana Orpheus; he told Dean that she was a bad influence and "girls like that are usually on the dope." It should be noted, however, that Dr. Venture said this in a moment of stress as he was attempting to ascertain the nature of Dean's sudden illness (which turned out to be testicular torsion), not to mention Dr. Venture's own issues with chemical dependency.
A lifetime of danger, starting at age 3, has left its mark on Doctor Venture.
To many things, Doctor Venture exhibits a strange kind of numbness. Though not fearless by any means, he does have high standards for what he considers threatening. When he was asked by Sgt. Hatred how much "menace" he experienced when confronted by hand grenades and giant spiders, Thaddeus replied with a deadpan 2 & 3 out of 10. He seems especially numb to threats that are "everyday" in heroic adventuring - spiked walls, strange cults, and the like. In "The Buddy System", when Billy Quizboy expresses sorrow and shock at having seen a child gruesomely killed, Venture merely expresses annoyance and darkly mocks his friend's previous desire to be an adventurer, ironically asking "not like answering trivia, is it?".
On the other hand, Doctor Venture seems to have been traumatized by his childhood, and mentions in Now Museum, Now You Don't that he still wakes up at night with flashbacks to some of the more horrible experiences he's faced as a child. Doctor Venture also uses amphetamines to cope with occasional stress or hallucinations of his father, especially in Season 1. He may be considered to suffer a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that affects, but does not incapacitate him.
This implies that while fantastic, his childhood adventures were not nearly as idyllic as the world was led to believe. The possibly amoral habits of the Original Team Venture (disregard for human life, sexual deviancy and destructive tendencies) may have influenced his flimsy ethics. At least one other boy adventurer, Action Johnny, ended up a drug-addled hermit living in a diving sphere, suggesting the boy adventurer lifestyle itself is often traumatic. Indeed, Thaddeus seems to be following in his father's footsteps of self-absorption and callous disregard for others - yet, strangely, he's more functional than some of his contemporaries, even able to manage his own drug habit.
Doctor Venture does have a few fond memories. In ORB he actually takes great pleasure in pursuing the mystery of the ORB with Billy Quizboy. He recalls taming a pterodactyl in Escape to the House of Mummies Part II. It seems those moments where he did something himself give him the greatest pleasure, and he does enjoy solving mysteries - those challenges give him a definite thrill, which he notes in ORB.
Despite his father's public declarations of great affection for his son, season 3 increasingly is bringing into the foreground that Dr. Jonas Venture, Sr., failed to live up to his own publicity: an egomaniac who seems more interested in having a good time and leaving other people to clean up his messes, and having a relationship with Rusty that alternated between paternalism, disregard, and using him as a prop.
Instances of these traits numerous:
In ORB, however, Rusty admits that while Jonas Sr. was a failure as a father, he was a great scientist with a lot of hope, and respects him for that.
By college-age years Thaddeus had grown into a rather opposite picture of his father: thin, somewhat shorter than average, and already balding. He no longer liked being called Rusty and still does not (he claims to be called "T. S." by everyone instead of "Rusty", but very rarely has he ever been called that), and he attempted to get away from his father's influence, despite this, his father never stopped loving him. During these years he met up with Peter White, Werner Ünderbheit, Mike Sorayama, the Monarch, and most inexplicably his dorm roommate was none other than Brock Samson (a freshman and slightly younger than Dr. Venture). One night when Brock, having accidentally killed a quarterback during practice, burst into the room containing Venture, White, Sorayama, and Ünderbheit playing a Dungeons & Dragons game. In a fit of drunken rage, he savagely beat the quartet (knocking out the aforementioned tracking tooth) and the next day was forced to leave college, but casually told Thaddeus he received a call that his father had died. (The first episode of Season 3 hints that an unspecified supervillain may have killed Jonas Venture Sr., leaving the possibility open for further revelations along this line. It is later hinted in O.R.B. that Jonas was, in fact, killed by his bodyguard Kano upon discovering the eponymous orb.) At some point soon afterwards, Venture dropped out of college (though not before finishing the semester, as Prof. Richard Impossible gave him a "sympathy 'D'"); therefore, Venture technically does not have the right to call himself a doctor.
He lost his virginity at the age of twenty-four and more or less seemed to take over running Venture Industries in the same rough timespan, at least insomuch as 'running' means 'running into the ground'. Dr. Venture's frequent financial problems and lack of expertise in running his father's company stem from his almost complete ignorance of Venture Industries' workings, so much so that Dr. Venture is unaware of the purpose and even existence of specific buildings on the Venture compound (until speaking with Jonas Jr. in season 2 he had no idea the compound contained a manufacturing wing). During the aforementioned 'moment of passion', (confirmed to be during his sexual encounter with ex-bodyguard Myra Brandish) Hank and Dean were probably born sometime during this period (there is a slight doubt of whether they were born or not). Dr. Venture developed a method of cloning (or used technology invented by his father) to bring them back due to their being death-prone (while he seems to have forgotten their precise ages, as shortly after being cloned Hank notices his ID is wrong when the Doctor comments it's their sixteenth birthday, though in that instance, the date is most likely wrong due to frequent clonings). Additionally, during this time Dr. Venture spent a considerable amount of time attempting to isolate and destroy the gay gene. However protesters forced him to stop prematurely.
Since then, Dr. Venture has settled into mostly making inventions for quick cash and government contracts, however his success is often limited. He still manages to get plenty of adventuring and action in life, frequently not by choice, such as having both his kidneys removed in Tijuana, being forced to fix the Gargantua-1 space station his father developed, attempting to directly cash in on his father by searching underseas for an experimental airplane Jonas invented, various plots of the Monarch like attempting to kidnap his sons, being turned into a giant caterpillar, and being captured in the Amazon rainforest. Despite all of this he mostly seems content to sit back and relax when possible, which is precisely what he did during the surgery Dean had for his testicular torsion.
The most significant thing to happen to Dr. Venture in the recent past was his discovery that a large tumor was actually his twin brother he swallowed in the womb still alive, having grown inside him all this time and the source of all his nightmares on two fetuses fighting one another. This infant built himself up a robot body and attempted fratricide against Thaddeus. Having learned all his tricks, the brother seemed ready to kill Thaddeus, but a last-minute save by Brock and a flying car defeated the sibling. The brother was then granted mercy and decided to call himself Jonas Venture Jr. Since then, Jonas has been granted about half the Venture fortune and has adapted to being the success Thaddeus never was (not to mention a lot more friendly to Thaddeus than vice-versa). A teleporter Jonas mentioned was half-finished accidentally split Dr. Venture into three parts due to Thaddeus deciding it looked good enough to use as-is.
With the Monarch's escape from prison he has become the target of him once more, a botched attempt to kidnap Dr. Girlfriend at a mall ended up taking Dr. Venture instead, who had had his eye punched nearly out of its socket by new, aggressive henchmen. He was saved by Brock and Phantom Limb teaming up and storming the flying Cocoon.
Rivalry between The Monarch and Phantom Limb escalated into a full-scale assault by the Guild of Calamitous Intent upon the Venture family. During the attack, Venture's arm was severed but successfully reattached by Master Billy Quizboy.
He always carries with him a number of 'diet pills' and has an addiction to them. These pills are used to suppress undesirable memories, hallucinations, and daydreams. It should be noted that Dr. Venture can be seen taking a pill every time he encounters a vision or memory of his father. He once told his children these pills were "Daddy's special aspirin" while Pete White referred to them as "mother's little helpers". Richard Impossible implied that Venture is an amphetamine addict. Unlike other boy adventurers, his addiction doesn't completely run his life (in the Showdown at Cremation Creek (Part II) commentary, Doc Hammer flat-out states that, while Venture is an addict, he is "not a junkie").
Despite his shoddiness, impatience, self-absorption, and knack for cutting corners, Dr. Venture can still safely be considered a super-scientist, if only because he has a much better understanding of science, physics, and the various fantastic elements and objects seen in the show than most other characters have. Unlike his brother, however, he lacks the ingenuity to create new inventions and his lack of business skill has reduced Venture to selling his father's old inventions - as he at times is able to transcend these limits, it suggests his actual problem is lack of effort due to his various neuroses.
It seems that while Thaddeus inherited some of his father's genius, he has been held back by an aversion to hard work, an unreliable ability to come up with useful inventions, and a lack of actual joy in the inventing process. Alternately, Dr. Henry Killinger suggests Thaddeus has a fear of success, and is reluctant to compete, due to his father's psychological abuse and domination. Certainly when he focuses on something for personal reasons or potential financial gain, he is capable of producing working -- if occasionally flawed or limited -- inventions. Given that two of his greatest successes are a machine powered by the heart of a dead orphan boy and a Frankenstein style creature, he may only be skilled in building objects which are crimes against nature, and he is oblivious, or simply negligent to their macabre situation.