A television series in which the hosts--one human being and several puppets who look like robots--show bad movies and offer ongoing humorous commentary on the onscreen action. Brief comedy skits are scattered throughout the program, often with a common theme (sometimes riffing on elements in the movie being shown) or an ongoing storyline. The show's strong geek appeal lies in the mixture of lowbrow clowning and obscure references: thirty typical seconds might include a joke about German Expressionist filmmaking, a fart noise, a joke about Franz Kafka, a claim that one of the characters resembles Senator Estes Kehauver, and an observation that one of the actors is clearly not wearing underwear (and perhaps should be).

Story: In the not-too-distant future, Joel Robinson, a janitor at Gizmonics Institute, is trapped in the Satellite of Love and fired into space by mad scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester and his assistant Dr. Erhardt, who conduct their rogue experiments from a sub-basement at Gizmonics called Deep 13. They force Joel to watch bad movies in order to drive him insane. Joel cannibalizes some parts from the satellite and builds himself some robot friends: Cambot (who films the show), Gypsy (who controls the ship's functions), Tom Servo, and Crow. Together they watch the movies and make wisecracks.

Dr. Erhardt was soon replaced by former Arby's employee TV's Frank. Joel eventually escaped back to Earth (the escape pod on the SOL was stored in a crate marked "Hamdingers"). Enraged, Dr. F. and Frank clubbed temp worker Mike Nelson unconscious and sent him up to the satellite to take Joel's place.

When Frank was taken by Torgo to a paradise where evil henchmen live free from their cruel masters, Dr. Forrester's mother Pearl came to live at Deep 13 and assisted her son with his work. Forrester eventually ran out of funding and sent the satellite hurtling off to the farthest reaches of the universe where Mike and the bots spent the next five hundred years as beings of pure energy.

When they returned, Crow's voice was different (new actor) and Pearl Forrester was now their chief tormenter, helped by the alien Observer and the ape scientist Professor Bobo. The long experiment finally ended when in a moment of overexuberance, Pearl accidentally broke the joystick that controlled the satellite, causing it to plummet to Earth.

Everyone survived the crash; Gypsy (whose higher functions had till now been largely devoted to running the satellite) went on to found ConGypsCo, a multimillion-dollar corporation. Mike, Servo, and Crow turned down her offer to let them in on the ground floor, and ended up sitting on a ratty couch in Mike's tiny apartment, watching bad movies and making wisecracks.

MST3K made me a funnier person.

Listening to the rapid-fire cultural references and stunning delivery of all the performers, you wish to emulate them. You'll start putting on your wacky radio announcer voice which if you can do well, just sounds funny no matter what you say, and then if you can spout an obscure, Dennis Miller-esque reference at the same time, it's basically instant side-splitting guffaws.

Also funny is when you see a shot of someone's face on TV or in a movie, to be able to blurt out a name of someone they sort-of look like, and other people can see it even if it's a little strange, is something that ultimately gives you power over people.

Memorable Lines:

Tom Servo: (gasping) They arrested Harlan Ellison!
Joel Robinson: Good.

Crow T. Robot: I have my doubts that this movie is actually "starring" anybody. More like "camera is generally pointed at."

Mike Nelson: You know, this movie can be used to induce vomiting.

Tom Servo: What do you think the lesson of the movie was?
Crow: Don't watch it.

Tom: I see the movie has finally thrown up its hands and said, "I just don't know."

Crow: I want to hurt this movie, but I can never hurt it like it hurt me.

Crow: No fair! You can't flash back to stuff we saw ten seconds ago!

Tom: Emby Mellay? That's not a name, it's a bad Scrabble hand!

Crow: The only response to this film is pure, unbridled hate.

(Tom's dressed as a candy-striper)
Tom: Joel, this nurse's outfit makes me very self-conscious and embarrassed -- and yet, I don't seem to mind.

Crow: Ooo. I bet that would taste great with drawn butter. Of course, I'd eat my own HEAD with drawn butter.

Crow: Men should NOT have bikini areas!

Crow: A creature whose face is 80% eyebag!
Tom: So, radiation has a sense of humor!

Tom: You know, just because you CAN edit doesn't mean you SHOULD.

Joel: Crow, what do you want for Christmas?
Crow: I want to decide who lives and who dies!
Joel: Oh, I don't know...

Crow: Mike, I'm gonna look at your shoes for a while. It makes about as much sense.

MST3k first aired on the Minneapolis KTMA-TV channel 23 in 1988. In 1990 the show was picked up by a fledgling cable channel creatively named The Comedy Channel (renamed Comedy Central in 1991). MST3k moved to The Sci-Fi Channel in 1996 after CC cancelled it for not drawing crowds during several ridiculous time slots.

Sci-Fi stopped funding new episodes of MST3k in 1999 presumably in order to fuel the creation of more empty-headed T&A shows posing as science fiction. The channel continued to re-run a small selection of episodes from MST3k's years there until January 31, 2004 when one last viewing of "The Screaming Skull" marked the end of the show's official run. Unfortunately the vast majority of MST3k episodes cannot be easily syndicated as the rights to many of the films used were acquired under very limited terms (sometimes only allowing them a single broadcast).

Currently Best Brains (the company that created MST3k) is just a shell with its former employees (nearly all of whom appeared on the show) mostly scattered. While it is unlikely that MST3k will ever be revived, Rhino Home Video has created official VHS and DVD releases of certain episodes that everyone should purchase. Unfortunately the Rhino releases are a very small portion of the entire run. Thanks to the Digital Archive Project's MST3k DAP most of the episodes that cannot be purchased have been encoded into MS MPEG4 v2 format and are available for download.

The cast of MST3k and their characters:

Trace Beaulieu - Dr. Clayton Forrester and voice/puppetry for Crow T. Robot (Seasons Zero through Seven)
Patrick Brantseg - voice/puppetry for Gypsy ("Agent for H.A.R.M." through Season Ten)
Frank Conniff - TV's Frank
Bill Corbett - Observer (aka Brain Guy) and voice/puppetry for Crow T. Robot (Seasons Eight through Ten)
Joel Hodgson - Joel Robinson
Jim Mallon - voice/puppetry for Gypsy ("The Crawling Eye" through "Riding with Death")
Kevin Murphy - Professor Bobo and voice/puppetry for Tom Servo (Seasons Two through Ten)
Michael J. Nelson - Mike Nelson
Mary Jo Pehl - Pearl Forrester
Josh Weinstein - Dr. Laurence Erhardt, voice/puppetry for Tom Servo (Seasons Zero through One) and puppetry for Gypsy (Season Zero)

Here's a simplified list of MST3k episodes (a detailed list including info on the shorts can be found in the official episode guide at www.mst3kinfo.com). Links to write-ups about the films themselves and/or the episodes specifically appear in bold type. As you can see, E2 has a long way to go. Please /msg me if you node any of these so I can update this.

Season Zero (1988-1989)

  • The Green Slime
  • Invaders from the Deep
  • Revenge of the Mysterians
  • Star Force: Fugitive Alien 2
  • Gamera vs. Barugon
  • Gamera
  • Gamera vs. Gaos
  • Gamera vs. Zigra
  • Gamera vs. Guiron
  • Phase IV
  • Cosmic Princess
  • Humanoid Women
  • Fugitive Alien
  • SST Death Flight
  • Mighty Jack
  • Superdome
  • City on Fire
  • Time of the Apes
  • The Million Eyes of Su-Maru
  • Hangar 18
  • The Last Chase
  • Legend of the Dinosaur

Season One (1989-1990)

  • The Crawling Eye
  • The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy
  • Mad Monster
  • Women of the Prehistoric Planet
  • The Corpse Vanishes
  • The Crawling Hand
  • Robot Monster
  • The Slime People
  • Project Moonbase
  • Robot Holocaust
  • Moon Zero Two
  • Untamed Youth
  • The Black Scorpion

Season Two (1990-1991)

Season Three (1991-1992)

  • Cave Dwellers
  • Gamera
  • Pod People
  • Gamera vs. Barugon
  • Time of the Apes
  • Daddy-O
  • Gamera vs. Gaos
  • The Amazing Colassal Man
  • Fugitive Alien
  • It Conquered the World
  • Gamera vs. Guiron
  • Earth vs. The Spider
  • Mighty Jack
  • Teenage Caveman
  • Gamera vs. Zigra
  • Viking Women vs. The Sea Serpent
  • Star Force: Fugitive Alien II
  • War of the Colossal Beast
  • The Unearthly
  • Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
  • Master Ninja I
  • The Castle of Fu-Manchu
  • Master Ninja II

Season Four (1992-1993)

Season Five (1993-1994)

  • Warrior of the Lost World
  • Hercules
  • Swamp Diamonds
  • Secret Agent Super Dragon
  • Magic Voyage of Sinbad
  • EEGAH!
  • I Accuse my Parents
  • Operation Double 007
  • Girl in Lover's Lane
  • The Painted Hills
  • Gunslinger
  • Mitchell
  • The Brain that Wouldn't Die
  • Teen-age Strangler
  • Wild, Wild World of the Batwoman
  • Alien from L.A.
  • Beginning of the End
  • The Atomic Brain
  • Outlaw
  • Radar Secret Service
  • Santa Claus
  • Teen-age Crime Wave
  • Village of the Giants
  • 12 to the Moon

Season Six (1994-1995)

  • Girls Town
  • Invasion U.S.A.
  • The Dead Talk Back
  • Zombie Nightmare
  • Colossus and the Headhunters
  • The Creeping Terror
  • Bloodlust
  • Code Name: Diamond Head
  • The Sky Divers
  • The Violent Years
  • Last of the Wild Horses
  • The Starfighters
  • The Sinister Urge
  • San Francisco International
  • Kitten with a Whip
  • Racket Girls
  • The Sword and the Dragon
  • High School Big Shot
  • Red Zone Cuba
  • Danger! Death Ray
  • The Beast of Yucca Flats
  • Angels' Revenge
  • The Amazing Transparent Man
  • Samson vs. The Vampire Women

Season Seven (1995-1996)

  • Night of the Blood Beast
  • The Brute Man
  • Deathstalkers and the Warriors from Hell
  • The Incredible Melting Man
  • Escape 2000
  • Laserblast

Season Eight (1997)

Season Nine (1998)

Season Ten (1999)

  • Soultaker
  • The Girl in Gold Boots
  • Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders
  • Future War
  • Blood Waters of Dr. Z
  • Boggy Creek II
  • Track of the Moon Beast
  • Final Justice
  • Hamlet
  • It Lives by Night
  • Horrors of Spider Island
  • Squirm
  • Diabolik

Beginning in 2000 Rhino Home Video began releasing VHS copies of classic MST3K episodes for sale. Unlike fan dubs ("Keep Circulating The Tapes") these tapes were copied from the original master copies of the episodes from Best Brains. As such they were in pristine quality. In 2001 episodes began appearing in DVD format. Around Labor Day 2001 Rhino and Satellite News held a survey to ask which episodes fans wanted to see released in the not-too-distant-future, and the company seems to have used this data to create their release schedule. 2002 saw the release of volume one of "The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection", a 4-pack of DVDs that are unavailable separately. Tapes retail for around $15 and DVDs for nearly $20 each. Once the series left cable television on January 31, 2004, these tapes and DVDs became the only official way to get a MST3K fix.

Available VHS Tapes

Available DVDs

Best Brains has also taken to producing and selling copies of episodes, bloopers, documentaries, and shorts from the series, most notably selected episodes from Seasons 9 and 10 of the show. These tapes are only available from Best Brains for a limited time. Some of the following have been discontinued for several years, in fact.

Available Best Brains Tapes

And to top it all off there are home video VHS and DVD editions of 1996's Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie available from Universal Home Video. The VHS edition is fairly common, whereas the DVD is a rare find as it was discontinued in 2000. The DVD commonly sells for over $75 when it appears on eBay.

1 This tape has been discontinued due to a copyright misunderstanding. If you should find a copy for sale at a reasonable price, I advise you snatch it up because you may never see it again.

2 Shorts Vol. 3 is/was only available with this set when purchased directly from the distributor.


I’ve loved Mystery Science Theater 3000 since I was 11 years old. This should come as a shock to exactly no one who’s ever spent any significant amount of time with me. I discovered it on Sunday mornings on Comedy Central in 1996, and was instantly hooked. Anyway, I fell in love with the show, even when I didn’t get most of the references. Joel Hodgson, Mike Nelson, and the Bots were funny as hell, and even my eight year old sister now gets a chuckle out of some bits from the show, and it stopped production over year before she was born.

My discovery of MST3K was also around the time my Mom’s cancer, which she’d been fighting for years, really started to get the better of her. This was a miserable time in my life, as I remember very vividly being in denial about how sick my Mom was. When my Dad told me that things weren’t looking so great, I remember lying awake in bed that night, worried sick. Then I thought to myself, nothing is going to happen. My Mom has been around my whole life, and that’s not going to change, I thought. Call it hope, call it denial, whatever, I was certain that this wasn’t changing. I was quite wrong. My Mom died on February 1, 1997. Almost twelve years later, I have memories of that entire horrible week that are so vivid, they may as well have happened yesterday. I tried to put on a brave face, but it was all an act. I was wrecked.

Some months later, my brother and I were watching our VHS copy of MST3K Episode 513, The Brain that Wouldn’t Die. My Dad was watching it with us. We were all laughing, and, to be completely honest, it is the first time I can really remember laughing after my Mom’s death. My Dad, after the show finished, asked if they sold any more episodes of MST3K on VHS. They did, we told him, so in to the car and off to Borders we went, where we picked up Episode 301, Cave Dwellers, and what may be my all time favorite, Episode 303, Pod People. We got home, watched both episodes, and laughed so hard our sides ached. It was, to this day, one of the best nights of my life.

Over the next couple years, MST3K became a staple for my family. We taped each episode on the Sci-Fi Channel and watched them as a family, and laughed and laughed and laughed. We probably haven’t done this now in about eight years, and I really want to get my brother and Dad and I together and watch one again, for old time’s sake.

I know this is going to sound cheesy, but my point is this: MST3K was one of the first things that made me feel human again after my Mom’s death. I laughed my ass off at that show, and it felt good. The best laughs a person can ever have are the ones that come out they feel they are at their lowest point. I really needed to laugh then. MST3K helped make me feel good again, and for that, I’ll always be grateful.

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