7 Reasons Why “Warehouse 13” is the Most Steampunk Show on Earth

Warehouse 13

At first look you don’t expect Warehouse 13 to make it to the list of steampunk TV shows, let alone steal the #1 slot. The cover picture features a barn, and you get that it’s a vaguely parnormal spy show about some secret branch of the government, but until you get really invested you might miss some of the elements that make this unmistakably steampunk. Then again, some of those aspects are really hard to miss once you get started. Whether you’re an avid fan or a complete newcomer, here are some things you may not have thought of that designate this show as completely steampunk.


1. Tesla

Tesla_circa_1890All the great scientists and inventors in history have developed tools and security for the Warehouse. Most notable of these is Nikola Tesla–primary inventor of all technology pre-dating the era that was ready for it, and therefore the ultimate hero of the steampunk age. Warehouse agents are issued a Tesla gun–an electric stun gun conceived as a non-lethal alternative to bullets.


2. Farnsworth

Philo FarnsworthAmongst early-twentieth century inventors, Philo Farnsworth features prominently as the invention of video. He later went on to invent the first television set, which soon occupied a place in every household. Not all of his inventions were made public, however. He developed a miniature two-way video/audio communication device that was used exclusively by Warehouse agents. The miniaturization required for this sort of device would not become available to the rest of the world until the invention of the cell phone almost fifty years later. Warehouse agents continue to use Farnsworths’ devices due to the fact that they use their own private frequency and cannot be hacked.


3. H.G. Wells

ill_wellsH.G. Wells ranks up right under Jules Verne as a leading writer of Science Fiction in the Victorian era–also known as steampunk. Who better to star as a character in a lead steampunk television show? But Warehouse 13 takes it one step better, introducing H.G. as a woman–Helena. Since women writers were heavily disapproved of in the nineteenth century she wrote under a pseudonym and allowed her brother to represent her in public and take the credit. And if that isn’t cool enough, she actually invented a time travel machine, and a vest that allows the user to move faster than the eye can follow.


4. Steampunk Computers

warehouse131I’m sure everyone has seen that super awesome steampunk laptop someone made once, by dissembling their laptop components, placing them in a wooden box, adding an old typewriter keyboard, etc. Well, Warehouse 13 actually has that computer. They have all the fancy computing abilities a top-secret government agency should have, wrapped up in wood, brass, and old-fashioned accoutrements.


5. Punks

Claudia DonovanListen very closely to the word “steampunk” and pay attention to that last syllable. Steampunk originated as more than steam engines, top hats, and gasworks. It was a combination of “steam”, which includes all of those things, and “punk”–a subculture in the 70s that promoted anti-establishment and individual expression. Steampunk in it’s purest form is supposed to promote those themes and ideas–and Warehouse 13 characterizes this aspect perfectly in the character of Claudia Donovan. Claudia is a punk from the rebellious teenager trope down to her multicolored hair. Her presence in a warehouse full of Indiana Jones style artifacts is just further proof that this show does everything right.


6. History

poeSince steampunk is often an intersection of science and history, a spy show set in the 21st century is unlikely to make the list. Unless said spies are in charge of retrieving objects of historical significance, incorporating mythology and history into the plot as we learn all about characters like Edgar Allen Poe and Louise Borgia. Why travel to the past when you can bring the past to the present?


7. Magic

houdiniNobody will ever conclusively prove what is or isn’t steampunk, and that’s part of what steampunk is as well. But there’s often a moment in books and movies when you realize that this is not your run of the mill science fiction, and that moment is often marked by the appearance of a touch of magic, or a hint of the mystical. Even before we meet the anachronistic tell-tale signs of steampunk in Warehouse 13 it is introduced to us as a paranormal show–or a “magic is science we just don’t understand” type of show. It’s this touch of magic that makes it so memorable for it allows them to deal with concepts outside of usual scientific limitations such as resurrection, time travel, and second chances.


In Conclusion

When you take famous inventors, Victorian authors, and punk characters and add a dash of magic, a splash of history, and a liberal shaking of innovative thoughts and ideas you end up with an amazing concoction of anachronistic technology, original settings, and compelling plots. In other words–you’ve created perfect steampunk. And that is why Warehouse 13 is the most steampunk show on earth.


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