Characters: Mystery Science Theater 3000
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Played by: Joel Hodgson
The original "guy shot up in space" and the creator of the robots. Joel was an employee at Gizmonic Institute, both a janitor and inventor. As part of Dr. Forrester's experiment, he was launched into space aboard the Satellite of Love and is forced to watch horrible movies. Joel has a rather laid-back personality, and as their creator, often acts as a father figure to the Bots. Halfway through Season 5, Joel escapes from the SoL and is replaced by Mike. Joel comes back for one episode later on, where it turns out he settled down as the manager of a Hot Fish Shop in Osseo, Minnesota.
Played by: Michael J. Nelson
The second "guy shot up in space" after Joel escaped from the Satellite of Love halfway through Season 5. Mike Nelson is a lifelong temp-worker, bouncing from job to job. Only the coincidence of him being temped out to Deep 13 for their audit at the time of Joel's escape led to him being employed long-term by Dr. Forrester. He's described by Dr. Forrester as a "disgustingly mild-mannered dope", which is pretty apt. To the bots, he's seen as a big brother, college roommate type, or amicable coworker, depending on the situation.
- Alternate History: Inspired by a time-traveling Crow's warnings, in one timeline he devoted himself to his rock band, Sex Factory, instead of temping. They actually got successful enough to open for Motorhead, but Mike died due to head trauma from thrown hotel keys and his abusive Jerk Ass brother was sent into space instead. Crow had to go back again to avert this.
- Ambiguously Gay: Or perhaps Bi. In "Werewolf" he implies he dated a man named Steve who died (but is interupted by the movie sign), and in "Laserblast" Crow pokes fun at him for thinking one of the actors is cute, among others. He also kissed a surly old truck driver once. (Who was a durned fine kisser.)
- Beware the Nice Ones: Mikey and the Llama comes to mind.
- Big Brother Instinct: Towards the Bots...at times.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: His Jerkass brother Eddie is just the tip of the iceberg.
- Butt Monkey: Tom and Crow have openly admitted to destroying his most prized possessions just For The Lulz.
- Character Development: In a sense. Though he's decidedly not a tech guy, he does eventually learn how to make repairs and mild alterations to the Bots.
- Deadpan Snarker: Leans more towards Snarker than Joel.
- The Kirk (Replacement)
- Kubrick Stare:
- Lantern Jaw of Justice: A not-so-heroic but not villainous version. He has a rather hunky face.
- Limited Wardrobe: Apart from the jumpsuit, there's this.
- Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: The Trope Namer, no less, destroying a grand total of three planets in the eighth season alone.
- Name's the Same: As Mike Nelson of Sea Hunt fame. However, it's never referenced til Gorgo. It's odd because the Lloyd Bridges phrase "By this time my lungs were aching for air" was an oft-used riff on the show.
- Phrase Catcher: "Good one, Nelson!"
- Power Born of Madness: Mike's tendency to randomly assume the identities of other people ended up saving the crew's lives during the Season 7 finale, when he transformed into Captain Janeway and rescued the satellite from a black hole via a stream of Techno Babble. And again in Season 8, when turning into Adam Duritz scared away the aliens attacking the ship.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Even though they only met a couple of times, he comes across as the Red to Joel's Blue.
- Sanity Slippage: Many, many times. Unlike Joel, Mike isn't quite as coolheaded, whether it's thinking he's Carol Channing or Captain Janeway, climbing down a stepladder to try to escape the S.O.L.note , or trying to invoke a Joel-style escape while sitting it a water heater after seeing Final Justice (starring Joe Don Baker, of course). He also has elements of Going Postal, such as wearing a Kubrick Stare while quoting Full Metal Jacket or getting a Thousand-Yard Stare thinking about an ex co-worker he thought had it out for him.
- Shirtless Scene: He's done this a few times.
"Ladies and... Gypsy
! Michael Nelson 'is...
Lord of the Dance!"
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Averted, Mike was very different from Joel. Unlike his predecessor he actively tried to escape from the SOL, gave up on the traditional invention exchanges early on, and was generally more biting and harsh in his riffing style.
- Tap on the Head: "...so they conked him on the noggin and they shot him into space..."
- This Loser Is You: "Just a regular joe they didn't like."
- Unfazed Everyman: He seems to be pretty cool with being stuck on a satellite forced to watch cheesy movies with robots that destroy his belongings all the time besides the occasional Sanity Slippage and escape attempt.
- Unlucky Everydude: At the hands of Tom and Crow.
- Waiting for a Break: Apparently a very talented and prolific stage actor, still had to resort to temp work. It actually also applies to how he joined the show in Real Life. Originally hired away from TGI Friday's to do "some typing," everyone was very surprised at his joke writing and musical skills, resulting in him soon becoming head writer and getting numerous cameos, and then being the natural choice to replace Joel.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Not so wholesome when he became Captain Janeway.
- You Look Familiar: Mike played several small roles in the host segments (and most notably played the recurring role of Torgo) before taking over as host.
- The Genie Knows Jack Nicholson: How they can make over hundreds of pop culture per episode despite being robots who have never been to Earth before, we'll never know.
- Joel sometimes implies that he personally programmed the references they didn't get from the T.V. into their memories.
- Ping Pong Naïveté: How much they know and understand about human life changes depending on what's funniest. At the very least they have a working knowledge of pop culture.
- Second Law My Ass: Applies to Crow and Tom Servo. Sometimes Gypsy as well. Even Cambot at one point.
- Robot Buddy: A very loose definition of the word "buddy".
- Ridiculously Human Robot: They all have distinct personalities, in addition of being capable of dreaming and free will.
- Tsundere: Show mixed traits towards Mike in the Sci-Fi Channel episodes, with Crow showing elements of a classic Type A.
- With Friends Like These...: Especially between Tom and Crow.
Crow T. Robot
Played by: Josh Weinstein (Invaders from the Deep only), Trace Beaulieu (KTMA through season 7, Great Gila Monster Sketch, Turkey Day 2014), Bill Corbett (seasons 8-10)
TV's wise-cracking Crow is a gold-colored hominid. His most obvious features are his pronounced beak made out of a bowling pin, and a hockey mask he wears as a head crest of sorts. He tends to be the most immature of the trio, generally acting out the most or getting into various types of trouble, referred to as "an unathletic nerd" by Mike and Servo. He also fancies himself a bit of an amateur screenwriter, and a Running Gag
on the program is him routinely pitching new scripts at the other two. He sits to Joel/Mike's right in the theater.
- Meaningful Name: Depending on when you ask him, Hodgson named Crow in honor of a Native American college friend with the same surname, or was inspired by the Jim Carroll Band song of the same name.
- Morality Pet: He's good friends with Pearl Forrester, of all people, and she treats him better than the rest of the cast.
- Mysterious Past: Crow spent almost all of the 500 years in the Satellite of Love (being pure energy was boring). Even he can't remember what he did, but apparently a large chunk of it was spent eating Nut Goodies and at one point, he tried to conceive (and made a fertility idol of himself to try to help out.)
- The Nth Doctor: Bill Corbett is The Other Darrin until a joke that his voice changes "every seven years or so" and a throwaway line by Joel saying that he'd changed his "bowling pin" part, making him The Nth Doctor.
- Sanity Slippage: He's more likely than Servo to descend into madness - and just as easily to Mood Whiplash himself into normalcy. For example, when Crow suckles at his "Mother's" nipple, he shriek's a primal scream when Mike tries to pull him off her - but a few moments later, when Mike gently tells him "That's not your mother", he pauses, and says, "Oh!"... then quickly asks him, "Are you my mother?"
- Spell My Name with a "The": His middle name.
- Sphere Eyes
- Split Personality: In the Sci-Fi Channel episodes, Crow has an occasional tendency to think he's something or someone he's not. Examples include a bear (Jack Frost), Mary Tyler Moore (It Lives by Night), and a Bellerian (Space Mutiny). Very likely a result of Sanity Slippage after he'd been on the Satellite for 500 years.
- The Starscream: Mirror Universe Crow.
- Stylistic Suck: His forays into screenwriting, especially the infamous Earth Vs. Soup.
- Telescoping Robot: Crow's arms look disproportionately small when he's behind a counter. A full body shot reveals he's really just folded his arms up to fit on the counter.
- Transparent Closet: Has had at least one kinky dream about Tom Servo, and gotten giggly over the thought of touching Robert Redford.
- UNIX: Crow runs mainly on Unix, according to Monster a Go-Go.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Tom Servo, Type 2.
Played by: Josh Weinstein (KTMA and season 1), Kevin Murphy (seasons 2-10), Frank Coniff (Great Gila Monster Sketch, Turkey Day 2014)
Tom Servo is a red robot. His most obvious feature is the fact that his head is a gumball machine. He also has inoperable arms on springs, and travels by floating on his hover-skirt. Despite these shortcomings, he's the most cultured of the crew and has a lovely singing voice. His jokes tend to be of the more intellectual type. He sits to Joel/Mike's left in the theater.
- Berserk Button: HE'S NOT MERRITT STONE!
- Casanova Wannabe: Mainly his KTMA-Season 1 persona.
- Deadpan Snarker: As with the difference between Joel and Mike, Weinstein's Servo is more Deadpan, and Murphy's Servo is more Snarker.
- Distressed Dude: Has gotten into this role a couple of times.
- Eyeless Face: It's implied the gumball container part of his body is his eyes.
- Fragile Flower: Takes a lot more for this to happen to him than most examples, but seems to have had a lot of nervous breakdowns throughout the series.
- Full-Name Basis: He was usually referred to as "Tom Servo" or "Servo". Only Joel regularly called him just "Tom".
- In Touch with His Feminine Side: Constantly wearing dresses and wigs.
- Large Ham: Gets into this on occasions. Especially during his "MIGHTY VOICE!" days.
- Me's a Crowd: After he was cloned in The Human Duplicators, it became an occasional Running Gag for the rest of the show's run that there are a bunch of other Servos hanging around somewhere on the satellite. In the final episode he blows them all up.
- Motor Mouth: Made the longest riff on the show; an entire minute and a half.
- Mysterious Past: Tom apparently had a wild life of adventure during his time an energy being on the edge of the universe, which he refuses to talk about.
- The Napoleon: Mirror Universe Servo, but also Tom himself on occasion.
- Reality Warper: During The Gunslinger, Tom Servo shows that he has such a complex understanding of reality that he's able to perform Offscreen Teleportation and warp time. He apparently uses it to scare Crow at night.
- Renamed the Same: When he changes his last name to Serveaux. It's pronounced exactly the same, but he thinks he can tell when people aren't pronouncing it right.
- Rule of Funny: Though it's frequently stated that his arms are nonfunctional, he nonetheless will be able to grab objects if it leads to a punchline.
- Send in the Clones: There's about 517 of him running around the ship by the end.
- Small Name, Big Ego: In spades, and usually Break the Haughty follows in quick order.
- The Smart Guy: So much so that when the Observers gave the satellite crew IQ tests, he scored higher than the observers themselves.
- Spell My Name with an "S": At one point he changes his name to Htom Sirveaux, and corrects Mike when he doesn't pronounce it correctly (even though it's pronounced exactly the same.)
- The Spock: If, as Murphy puts it, "kind of weepy".
- Through the Eyes of Madness: At one point Pearl gives LSD to the robots and has Mike hook them up to a monitor to see what they're seeing. Servo sees everyone as a lot more demonic, but he just laughs it off and says that that's what he always sees.
- Transparent Closet: Not quite as flagrant as Crow, but he is curvy, gifted with better fashion sense, and the best singer on the ship.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Crow, Type 2.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: If someone's going to get in a skirt as part of a skit, it'll probably be Servo. Lampshaded when Servo dresses as a Brownie. He angrily tells them that his hoverskirt doesn't give him many options when wearing costumes - or would you rather he wear his Flemish glass blower outfit?
Played by: Josh Weinstein (KTMA), Jim Mallon (seasons 1-8), Patrick Brantseg (seasons 8-10)
Gypsy was a robot built by Joel to service the higher functions of the ship. As such, she doesn't (typically) go into the theater with everyone else. She's basically a snake form, with a long black tube as a body, and her head is a baby's car seat attached so she kinda looks like a vacuum cleaner with a flashlight that serves as her eye. She has a huge
crush on Richard Basehart.
Kevin Murphy (KTMA through season 5) and Micheal J. Nelson (season 5-10), although he is only heard during Robot Roll Call
in the official seasons.
Cambot serves as the camera on the Satellite of Love, projecting to the Mads in Deep 13. As such, he's never seen, never heard, and it's easy to forget he's even there, but he's obviously an essential member of the crew, without whom we wouldn't see all the wacky hijinx on the Satellite.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: Kind of a given, since he's the one who has to film everything.
- In-Universe Camera: Invoked, as Joel built him specifically to be this.
- Not So Stoic: See Tender Tears below.
- Running Gag: Mike and Joel calling "Cambot, give me Rocket #9!" any time something is happening outside the ship. No matter what is being looked at, external visual is always from Rocket #9.
- Sdrawkcab Name: During Robot Roll Call his name is backwards because he's taping himself in a mirror.
- Silent Snarker: Made his only riff in 'Sidehackers', though made clever comments in one of the host segments as well..
- Tender Tears: In the Danger Death Ray review the deaths of so many innocent cameras leaves him crying through the last host segment, blurring out the scene.
Fan art by Andrew Dickman
Played by: Jahn Johnson/Alexandra Carr (seasons 1-5), Mary Jo Pehl (seasons 5-7) and Beth McKeever (Seasons 8-10)
Magic Voice is a female, disembodied voice who resides in the Satellite of Love, and whose main task is to announce when commercial sign is coming up and otherwise make the occasional comment on the action. It's never revealed exactly what she is, but seems to be robotic in nature, given how Joel was able to reprogram her along with the other 'Bots. The most common fan theory is that she's the ship's computer.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: She's one of the few characters to vanish from the show with no real explanation.
- Deadpan Snarker: Not to the extent of Joel/Mike and the Bots, but she gets a few good lines in from time to time.
- Out of Focus: While never a major presence in the show, she appeared less and less in later seasons, and in the Sci-Fi years only made the odd cameo before vanishing completely in season 10.
- The Voice: Literally; she is only a voice and lacks any sort of corporeal form.
- Affably Evil/Friendly Enemy: They've all had their fair share of chummy moments with their captives.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Refusal to go into the theater is met with either electrucution or the removal of the ship's oxygen.
- Failure Is the Only Option: None of the movies will ever break the SOLites' will. Although they have gotten close on a number of occasions.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: The Satellite Of Love crashing bringing an end to the experiments (and therefore the show) in Diabolik reduced Pearl to tears, with her makeup running and her hair in a mess.
- Dr. Forrester when Frank died, especially displayed in his song "Who Will I Kill?"
- Large Ham: Dr. Forrester and Pearl.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: TV's Frank to Dr. Erhardt; Pearl to Frank, and later Dr. Forrester; though to be fair while they filled similar roles their characters were all quite different.
Doctor Clayton Forrester
Played by: Trace Beaulieu
Dr. Forrester is the green-coated head scientist down in Deep 13 who oversees the experiment on the Satellite of Love. While he's evil with a capital E, he's also not particularly effective, given how after several years, he still has yet to find that perfect movie that will drive people insane. Oftentimes, the relationship between Dr. F and the folks on the Satellite tends to be strangely amicable.
- Bad Boss: Especially to Larry.
- Card-Carrying Villain: "Supervillain" is his actual job title.
Dr. Forrester and Dr. Erhardt: What do you want from us? WE'RE EVIL!
- Characterization Marches On: Started out as a smug, stern, pompous, deeper-voiced jerk but eventually became a manic, mincing, Charles Nelson Reilly-ish maniac.
- Clark Kent Outfit: As can be seen in the San Francisco International episode, underneath the scrubs, Doctor Forrester is cut!
- Einstein Hair: From Season 1 onwards.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Deborah Susan
- Evil Sounds Deep: In KTMA, almost to the point of Nightmare Fuel.
- Evil Laugh: NAUGHTY NAUGHTY!!!
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: His Freudian Excuse includes a mother who doesn't seem to care about his exsistence, rejection from every girl in high school, several Noodle Incidents involving ice rinks, the shower incident, and a humiliating expulsion from the chess club.
- Insult Backfire: He gets all warm and fuzzy when he's accused of crimes against humanity (or robotity).
Joel: That may be the most despicable thing I've ever heard of.
Dr. Forrester (smugly): Thank you!
- Locked into Strangeness: According to his Back Story, he was struck by lightning, which gave him his Skunk Stripe.
- Mad Scientist: A textbook example
- Nerd Glasses: One episode had them change from green to black with no explanation, and was never mentioned again.
- Shout-Out: He's named after the hero of the 1953 film adaptation of The War of the Worlds.
- Skunk Stripe: In his hair and mustache. Trace has hinted during a convention panel that it also appears in a third place (the location of which is for the reader to decide).
- “Stop Having Fun” Guys: During "Turkey Day '91", he's more concerned with world domination than Thanksgiving.
Doctor Laurence "Larry" Erhardt
Played by: Josh Weinstein
Dr. F's first assistant, who didn't get much characterization at all, since he was only around for one season. He pretty much aped Dr. F's tendencies towards loving evil and played the part of the sniveling aide.
Played by: Frank Conniff
Dr. Erhardt's replacement after Season 1, TV's Frank was, in the end, far more fleshed out than his predecessor. More laid back, goofy, and ineffectual than even Dr. F himself, Frank often found himself the butt of jokes, or just plain dead. He departed the show at the end of Season 6, where he was assumed into Second Banana Heaven.
- Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: When Torgo the White brings him to Second Banana Heaven. His season ten cameo reveals he got kicked out later.
- Attention-Deficit Disciple
TV's Frank: WHY?! WHY?! WHY?!?!?! Oooh, McKenna's Gold is on!
- Bizarre Human Biology: He's survived multiple kinds of dismemberment (has replacement organs!), having his blood replaced with antifreeze (blood which is of a previously-unknown type, by the way), and apparently exists in a state of perpetual cardiac problems (his heart works so hard it can power an engine).
- Butt Monkey: At the hands of Dr. F.
- Death Is Cheap: Frank gets killed a lot.
TV's Frank: Ooh, that's my old head! Just file that under "Frank's Old Head".
- The Ditz: Not as much as Bobo, but still.
- Friendly Enemy: With Joel, Mike and the Bots.
- Transparent Closet: With Dr. Forrester. One sketch revlolved around this.
- Minion with an F in Evil: The reason why so many escape attempts hinged on trying to convince Frank to hit the button that would return the satellite to earth. It almost worked on multiple occasions, Forrester stopping him each time.
- Phrase Catcher: "Push the button, Frank!"
- Put on a Bus: To Second Banana Heaven.
- They Killed Kenny He died a lot.
- Too Dumb to Live: Literally, as he was killed multiple times.
- The Dog Bitesback: One episode had Frank impersonate Dr Forrester and borrow lots of money from an angry mob, which then pummeld the real Dr Forrester, leaving him in a body cast for the rest of the episode.
Left, Deep 13. Right, Castle Forrester
Played by: Mary Jo Pehl
Dr. F's beloved mother
, who showed up a few times in Season 6, but became Dr. F's foil in Season 7 when she moves back in. Starting Season 8, after Trace Beaulieu leaves the show, she becomes the head scientist showing the movies. The story is that after Clayton died (again, it's a bit complicated), she was put in cyrogenic freezing, thawed by the future apes, and became the Lawgiver. Doesn't make much sense, but you know how it is
- Catch Phrase: "It's called (title of movie) and it sucks on toast."
- The Gambling Addict: In Prince of Space, she states that her favorite hobby is playing slot machines. And in Hamlet, Mike ropes her into playing a Shell Game and ends up winning his choice of a movie. Of course, Pearl turns the situation back in her favor by sending him a crappy, black-and-white, dubbed version of Hamlet.
- Legacy Character: Especially once she moves into Castle Forrester in season 9.
- Mad Scientist: Spends most of Season 10 trying to get her liscense.
- My Beloved Smother: Her original characterization with regards to Clayton. She also literally smothered him to death off-screen between seasons 7 and 8, when she didn't get around to raising the reborn Dr. Forrester and he grew up to be the same maniac he was before.
- Never My Fault: The whole reason she took over as head Mad was because she blamed Mike and the Bots for Clayton's death after she smothered him to death with a pillow.
- Psychopathic Woman Child: She has many tempertantrums.
- Skunk Stripe: Apparently she was also struck by lightning.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Noted to have a fondness for chicken-in-a-biskit snack crackers several times, to the point that Brain Guy uses it as motivation to prevent the destruction of the universe. No more universe, no more chicken-in-a-biskit.
- Twitchy Eye: Has one driving her VW camper in the title sequence.
Played by: Kevin Murphy
An evolved gorilla from the year 2525, from a future where apes evolved from men?
. Yes, it's a madhouse. He's heard it all. First appearing in the beginning of Season 8, he's a professor of anthropology, but soon becomes little more than The Ditz
often foiling Pearl's machinations.
Observer ("Brain Guy")
Played by: Bill Corbett
A member of an allegedly advanced species, the Observers. He and his kind first appear in Season 8 to observe the experiment, but Mike ends up blowing up their planet
, leaving only the one behind to hang around with Pearl and Bobo. Allegedly, his species is just the brain, which his "host body" carries around in a salad bowl, but this show being what it is
, the concept is only tangentially ever alluded to, and you may as well assume the guy in pale face with the robe is "Brain Guy".
- Butt Monkey: Even Bobo gets to mock him quite a bit.
- Ditzy Genius: Theoretically omnipotent and omniscient...unfortunately, he's a complete wimp and sad sack with no initiative.
- Insistent Terminology: Observer states he doesn't have a body. Except, you know, for the fact he actually does have one.
Observer: (after being thrown onto a grenade to protect others) It's a good thing I don't have a body!
- In Touch with His Feminine Side: And looks surprisingly decent in a nurse's outfit.
- Pacifist: Subverted. His race doesn't believe in war. They kill only out of personal spite.
- The Omniscient: Claims to be this, but actions speak louder than words...
- One Steve Limit: All of his species are named "Observer", which leads to this when they reunite!
Observer: (sees Mike!Observer) Observer! (sees Paul!Observer) Observer!
Mike!Observer: Oh, Observer...
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Mostly. Very few people ever call him Observer.