Okay, today I’m going to do something a little different: I consider the Venture Bros to probably be my favorite thing on television these days, so sometimes I like to read about it on the Internet. Now, I’m getting into a pretty big spoiler for the show here (though, one from the start of the second season and that was like forever ago), but I want to offer my own thoughts on the topic of the titular brothers, Hank and Dean, being clones. The idea is that the boys are so death-prone that their Super Scientist father has clones of them ready to go when needed and the boys’ beds record their minds as they sleep, so that the clones will have their memories. Simple enough. What I want to talk about today is… well, I occasionally see people on the Internet talking as though the fact that the Hank and Dean of today are cloned from the original Hank and Dean, it somehow means that these are not the “real” Hank and Dean, that they are, in fact different people who just happen to have the appearance and memories (in fact, Dean himself is going through a sort of existential crisis about that in the show as of this writing). So, in the interests of amassing evidence to argue against people who will never, ever see this website, here I will present my case:
Point I) In the universe of the Venture Bros, souls and the afterlife are confirmed to exist. Dr. Byron Orpheus, friend of the Venture family, is an accomplished necromancer and all manner of ghosts have been encountered (Abraham Lincoln in Guess Who’s Coming to State Dinner, Major Tom in Ghosts of the Sargasso, and a Native American tribe in Assassinanny 911, for examples). Knowing that the soul, in that world, is an actual thing, we would kind of have to say that who a person is would be defined by their soul.
Point II) The current clones of Hank and Dean have the souls of the previous incarnations. In the episode Powerless in the Face of Death, the episode that reveals the clonal nature of the boys, Orpheus travels to the afterlife in search of the boys’ souls and finds that their souls are not there. Continuing his search for the souls he comes to Dr. Venture’s lab, where he senses the souls within the machinery that Doc uses to record the boy’s memories. While Doc doesn’t believe in using the supernatural designation of “soul” preferring to think of it as just the boy’s “memory synapses,” but Orpheus is the expert in the supernatural and he says the souls are in there. It seems that one’s soul goes where a person’s “memories, hopes, and dreams” goes, and that’s what Doc has on store. Thus, with this information fed into the boys clone slugs every time they die, they are in essence carrying their soul with them.
To further my case, I point to The Family That Slays Together Part One, in which Hank notes that he “I jumped off my roof in a Batman costume. I think. I might have just dreamt it.” That was one of the ways that Hank died. Hank remembers this though it was probably not something that would have been recorded by his bed, and that indicates to me that he has carried a bit of memory from a previous body to his new one. It is especially worth noting that the ghost of Abraham Lincoln was only able to affect the physical world through objects that bore his image (statues, paintings, money, etc.). For the souls of Hank and Dean, their own cloned bodies would be a perfect fit.
To me, it looks like this: When the boys die, their soul goes to those Earthly things that most connect them to the world, their memories in Doc’s machinery, and then on into the clone slugs. That continuity of soul would mean that the clones of Hank and Dean now present are as much Hank and Dean as any Hank and Dean that ever came before. I fully agree that if we took a clone and let it live without downloading the souls into it, it would be a new person (look at D-19, the rejected Dean clone from Perchance to Dean). But the Hank and Dean of Season Four are still the Hank and Dean of Season One (and the dozen Hanks and Deans that died before that).