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The Venture Bros. canceled at Adult Swim — but the network still wants more

A bizarre show comes to a bizarre end

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Rusty, Hank, and Dean Venture in Venture Bros. season 7 Image: Adult Swim
Matt Patches is an executive editor at Polygon. He has over 15 years of experience reporting on movies and TV, and reviewing pop culture.

The Venture Bros., quite possibly the weirdest TV series of all time (even after inspiring a slew of other weird TV series), has come to an end. Creator Christopher McCulloch aka Jackson Publick took to Twitter on Monday night to break the news.

“Unfortunately, it’s true: #VentureBros has been canceled. We got the highly disappointing news a few months ago, while we were writing what would have been season 8. We thank you, our amazing fans, for 17 years of your kind (and patient) attention. And, as always, We Love You.”

Like many early Adult Swim shows, The Venture. Bros. began as a loose parody of 1960s cartoons, taking loving aim at the misadventures of Jonny Quest. The show premiered in 2004 and sporadically returned to airwaves whenever Publick and his co-creator Doc Hammer were good and ready. The down periods allowed the pair to conceive a grand mythology for the series, full of weird satirical characters and dark humor. The seventh season premiered in August 2018.

“The convoluted backstory, that was always in the DNA,” Publick told Polygon around the season 7 premiere. “As a kid, watching a movie like Star Wars, I always liked the storytelling technique of not telling you everything about a character, but definitely hinting at their past. Han Solo: What’s his deal with Jabba the Hutt? Why does Greedo hate him? There’s stuff they’re not telling us that’s probably super cool. So right from the beginning, we gave everybody comments like that — little suggestions that there was a story there — and as you have to keep filling out episodes, you go, ‘Huh, maybe we should actually step into that story.’”

The abrupt ending is both tragic for fans, who after nearly two decades expected the Venture Bros. universe to grow indefinitely, and fitting for a show that maneuvered the evolution of TV at its own strange pace. After Publick announced the news, Adult Swim chimed in on Twitter to confirm the cancellation. But, in true Venture Bros. fashion, it also left the door open for a random return in the future. “We also want more Venture Bros. and have been working with Jackson and Doc to find another way to continue the Venture Bros. story.”

The news sent a wave through the animation community, prompting an outpouring of love from both longtime fans and and creators inspired by Publick and Hammer’s work. Actor James Urbaniak, who voiced Rusty Venture for the series’ entire run, also delivered his parting words.

All seven seasons of The Venture Bros. are currently streaming on Hulu.

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