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Headscratchers / Mystery Science Theater 3000

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It's just a show, but even MST3K has a few things that just don't make sense.

     The Name 
  • Why is it called Mystery Science Theater 3000? It has a conspicuous lack of mystery, science, and 3000...
    • The Joel era shows had plenty of Mad Science, and the reason for the 3000 is a mystery. There, see?
      • Actually, the reason for the 3000 is that the show was originally going to be called Mystery Science Theater 2000, but then it was decided that the turn of the Millenium was just a mite too close.
      • Of course, Joel intended the 2000 as a model number (as everything was being called the such-and-such 2000 at the time); the 3000 was a case of Jim Mallon Completely Missing the Point and Joel not caring enough about it to correct him. As for the "Mystery Science" bit, Hodgson's stand-up routine was big at the time and he would refer to his bizarre gadgets as being made by Mystery Science Labs. (Said gadgets were used, at least early on, in the Invention Exchange segments, a notable example being the machine that makes it look like your head's doing 360-turns.)
      • In his very early stand-up days, he mentioned that he created his props in Mystery Science Lab 2000.
    • How is being trapped in a satellite in low Earth orbit and being the subject in a bizarre experiment designed to drive a man insane not science-related?
    • The show is named MST3K. The K stands for Karl. Karl is the man who invented lightning. (Canon explanation.)
    • They're trying to solve the mystery of what movie is bad enough to drive people nuts but using science and making people watch it in a theater. 3000 sounds cool.
  • According to the new series, it's the name of the theater they watched the bad movies in.
    • It always has been, just was never explicitly stated on-screen before the new season.
      • It was actually called that in the pilot episode.

    Eating, Breathing, Other Science Stuff 
  • How does he eat and breathe?
    • In Soul Taker, Joel says that the Satellite of Love was designed by Dr. Forester to last about ten years. He probably installed oxygen tanks and food supplies that were meant to last that long. In the Sci-Fi Channel era, Observer probably would be able to send Mike new food and air when the need arises.
      • The show's writers deliberately ignored the fact that, in the gap between seasons seven and eight, the crew had apparently travelled five hundred years into the future, to 2525, a time when apes had become the dominant species on Earth.
      • Ah, but when Joel showed up, they were back in 1999. Time travel stopped the clock and returning to the normal timestream started it again. (Nevermind that the SOL didn't so much time-travel as it did sit around for 500 years while the crew became beings of pure energy and then time travel...)
    • Plus, there's, ya know, the giant tube connecting them to Earth. Heck, at one point, Crow actually slides down the insides of the Umbilicus and ends up in Deep 13.
    • As mentioned in episode 1012, there was a silo and a feedlot on the satellite, though Mike never noticed them.
      • Farmwork was probably part of the "higher functions" that Gypsy performed.
      • Also, a silo implies growth of something to store and use as silage, meaning there's probably hydroponic farm bays of some sort generating oxygen along with grass and/or grain.
    • Fairly sure that in one of the episodes the Mads mention that they're going to send up lunch soon.
    • With his digestive tract and respiratory system, respectively. Didn't you ever take Health class?!

  • What about those other science facts?

  • Why after a lengthy explanation of how they got up there, and their purpose in being there being explained as well, is how they actually survive the one topic that off-limits?
    • Because it's the one part that's completely irrelevant. In ANY story, it's a given that the characters will survive long enough to finish the plot, no matter how unlikely or ridiculous it is, and so the writers shouldn't feel obligated to give that any detail. Basically, the viewer needs to know why Joel (or Mike) is in space watching movies he doesn't like, or else they will not be invested. What Joel/Mike eats and breathes, however, is not important. Whether they order pizza, cannibalize, or photosynthesize, they are still that guy who sits in space and watches bad movies. When you ask questions like, "Okay, but what does he eat?", you've stopped thinking of it as a show, and thus, the writer no longer has anything for you, because you're just missing the point of what they're trying to do. And THAT'S what "It's just a show; you should really just relax" is supposed to mean.

  • Why is "how he eats and breathes" even a question? When that bit's being sung (in Mike-era?), we actually see Mike ordering pizza (or something?) which is presumably the answer. Is the question supposed to be rhetorical?
    • The questions predate Mike's intro, and they're just samples of the many things which you're far better off not worrying about. Also, he's ordering a pizza in space.
    • And the best part is, if they don't reach low Earth orbit in thirty minutes or less, it's free!
    • The 'pizza' is actually a giant omelette made of alien eggs. Crow pulled out a menu due to the Rule of Funny.

  • What are the other science facts for that matter and energy?
    • They once read a letter from a very young fan that specified the 'science facts'. It read [all spelling intact]: "Crow how come your head never turns in front of the movie? And when it does it turns right back the other way. How come tomservo dosent have arms that move, and why dosent tomservo have any eyes? Are those slinkies on tomservos arms? Why does Gypsy have a flashlight on her head, and why doesn't Gypsy have eyes, and does tomservo see and why does tomservo have a bubblegum machine head? Why don't you ever show the other robot [Cambot] and did he blow a fuse?" You can probably imagine how they responded to someone breaking their most sacred rule. It's from the episode "Alien from LA", btw.
      • The answers are, respectively: Crow's head moves, but appears not to due to an optical illusion; there's not enough electricity in Servo to power his arms and his hoverskirt simultaneously; yes; the flashlight is her eye; the bubblegum machine head is Servo's eye; and you don't see Cambot for the same reason the camera you record something with doesn't show up on the recording.
      • And for the last one; Yes. That's why they had to keep rebuilding him.
      • Well, the real reason was because between having to disassemble the Deep 13 set every season lest it collapse and seeing to all the other random junk scattered between the sets, they lost track of the Cambot prop—which, after all, they had needed exactly once in all of the first five-and-a-half years to show in the opening sequence. The second one was similarly lost after two-and-a-half years of disuse for the same reasons. (More likely than not, they just thought the KTMA Cambot stank, though I quite like it. It's cute.) But, in-universe, it might've kept blowing fuses, and to make things easier for himself Joel kept simplifying the design, bringing Cambot from a full-fledged robot with a camera to a snake-like 'bot with a camera for a head to a floating Pokéball. Brilliant.

  • How come we can't see through Servo's head in the theatre?
    • I'm not quite sure how the shadowrama (or whatever it was called) thing works but I suspect they used something similar to blue screen (I'll probably check later), thus if we could see through Tom's head we woudln't see a transparant ball we would just see the bit on the top of his head floating in mid air as the transparent ball would have the blue or whatever colour would be removed showing through it and thus the ball would go with it (I've seen this happen in other shows that used early blue screen or CSO such as the Tomrorow People), so I believe to avoid this they made a separate and completely black Servo puppet for the theatre (and I think I saw some earlier episodes where you could see through his head and it had disappeared, not entirely sure about that though).
    • Ahem. To quote the episode guide:
    "Servo is able to attach a special nontransparent head onto himself in order to prevent such problems. Servo's no dummy. What's odd about this frequently asked question is that nobody has ever seemed to notice that you can see through Mike's head when they're all in the theater. We've tried a lot of solutions to this problem, but there's something about the chemical composition of the poor guy's head that makes film-generated light stream right through it."
    • Both Servo and Crow were played by all-black copies in the theater segments of virtually all episodes. In a few earlier ones, however, Servo had a clear dome in the theater. It really didn't work that well; pure silhouettes are more effective and less distracting.
    • Green screens can be very dodgy on what they choose and don't choose to eliminate, especially in older versions of the technology. A prime example of this is during the final sequence of Manos: The Hands of Fate when Joel raises his hand and says, "Wow, this is blowing my mind!" A reflection caught on the wristwatch he was wearing, and as a result you can see through his wrist.
      • For the record: the theater Crow also "plays" Timmy in Fire Maidens of Outer Space and the theater Tom appears as planetarium Tom in opening host segment of The Skydivers.
      • I like Tom Servo's response to that exact question in one episode: "It's because of physics."

  • Why would we be asking how they eat and breathe and other science facts anyway? Wouldn't we be thinking that, oh, I don't know, a scientist did it?
    • Look at most of the questions above might not bug you, but it will obviously bug someone.
      • I'm not sure if it's bugged anyone,actually. The above questions are probably just riffing on the theme song itself.

  • Probably only wondering from lack of watching the show, but: when the crew leave the theater for a skit, does the movie just keep going without them? Do we miss bits?
    • I've never really been sure. I've noticed that, often, when they go back into the theater, the part where they resume the movie often doesn't seem like it could directly follow the part where they left it, leading me to suspect that the movie does keep playing for an unspecified amount of time when they're outside the theater. But I haven't ever put the effort into figuring out if that happens consistently, or trying to figure out how long the time gap actually is.
    • Actually, now I think about it, the movie must keep going. Remember that Joel can't control when the movies begin or end, because he used those special parts to make his robot friends. Ergo, he can't pause the films, and they must keep going during the skits.
      • There's no air in the rest of the satellite when the movie is going (c.f. The Movie, Invasion of the Neptune Men), so MJ&TB can't just leave any time they want — apparently the breaks are officially sanctioned. It would make sense for the Mads to pause the movies during the breaks so as not to lessen their effect. However, since Joel apparently had the power to control where the movies began and ended in the first place, it's possible that the Mads can't pause them and the movies do indeed keep going. Or maybe the mads do have that power, but it doesn't always work that well (again, see The Movie), possibly because of the removal of the parts that were used for the robot friends.
      • Also — It makes sense that the movies would have breaks and be edited for content and time, as the original purpose of the experiment was to sell the results of the tests to TV stations — if a movie only made people insane when it ran too long for TV and had content that they wouldn't be allowed to show, that wouldn't do them any good.
    • As a practical matter, by the time you subtract commercial breaks and host segments, actual movie time is probably about 70-80 minutes. Since most movies run longer than that, they have to edit out something, and it'd make sense to do that where they're taking breaks anyway.

    Questions About Parts 
  • Why was Joel stupid enough to use vital movie-preempting parts from the theater to build the robots? Or, at the very least, why couldn't he have wired those parts to work while still being integrated into the robots? I mean, what better way of sticking it to the Mads by having your very own remote control to shut down any experiment they sent you prematurely?
    • You should really just relax.
    • Probably because watching terrible movies with snarky robots is better than sitting around with nothing to do.
      • Exactly. Joel figured, correctly, that having companions - even companions that destroy everything that he cares about, repeatedly, like the toothpick sculpture of Monticello he spent months building - is far more valuable than being able to skip the crappy parts of a movie.. Besides...
      • He totally built that sculpture just for them to trash it. Cheered them right up.
      • Also, as shown in the invention exchanges, Joel was pretty much a habitual inventor. I can easily see a scenario where he looked at the "special parts" and saw robot components and from that point it just never occurred to him not to build robots.
      • Or maybe he just didn't realize what those special parts were for until after he had built the Bots, and felt pretty stupid when he found out and it was too late...
      • He was lonely, so he made robots, not caring about the movies.
      • If you were forced to watch So Bad, It's Good movies for the rest of your life, which would you rather have: Two friends to offer you companionship and mock the movie, or the ability to fast-forward and pause the movie? If you didn't pick friends, I feel sorry for you. Look at that one KTMA episode where it's just Joel watching the movie without either of the bots. It's not much fun. Would that episode be much more fun if Joel were continually fast-forwarding and rewinding it? Would it be more fun that way than, say, Overdrawn At The Memory Bank was? Furthermore, wouldn't that have gotten really old after ten years where it was all you could do? Besides, if you could build two highly intelligent self-aware robots out of a remote control, wouldn't you go through with it just to prove you could, especially if you were as obsessive an inventor as Joel?
      • Also because Joel is notably Genre Savvy. He's watched enough science fiction to know that people go crazy when trapped in space for long periods of time without companionship.
    • Why would the Mads even give Joel that ability in the first place? What would have stopped him from just stopping the movie and never going back in to finish it?
      • The fact that the Mad can control the level of oxygen in every part of the ship and can remotely administer electric shocks to Joel and Mike if they refuse to comply.
      • Several episodes show the "grisly" effects of refusing to go into the theater.
    • The mads were probably too lazy to cannibalize a VCR player to make a movie player that didn't have fast-forwarding. It would just be easier to shock Joel if he pull something like that.
    • Alternatively, it was a cruel joke by the Mads: "Hey, they forgot that I can just fast-forward the mov- ahhhhhhhhhh!"

  • Why is it, as the seasons went on, the SOL seemed to become more and more poorly lit?
    • Perhaps the lights were wearing out.
      • And they didn't bring any spare lightbulbs.
      • In my opinion it got "better" lit, although perhaps more darkly, it was better lighting from a production POV.
      • The SOL got dimmer a little bit after Joel left and Mike took his place. My guess is that in-universe Joel may have been doing some minor maintenance around the SOL often, and since Mike isn't as great with this sort of thing, the lights stopped working mid-season 6.

  • MST3K Mantra aside, how could you make what's basically a remote control out of the scraps the Bots were made of?
    • It's established when Joel returns to fix the ship that he didn't build Gypsy. Notice she seems to be the only one of the 'bots malfunctioning when the ship starts going haywire. Also, the SOL is a satillite, so it probably doesn't have the ability to land.
      • The bit about Gypsy above is incorrect. Gypsy breaks down because she's integrated with the ship's systems, but it was stated a few times during Joel's run that he built Gypsy, too. (Specifically, he built her before Crow and Tom). Cambot was probably constructed from an existing camera which was meant for communication and recording of (mad) scientific data.
    • Forrester and Erhardt, like Joel, were fanatical inventors. It's not hard to see them making an overly complex remote with enough parts for two-to-four robots.
    • Joel cannibalised the electronics from the movie control equipment (which probably did more than just start/stop the movie) for the robots brains and used other parts in their construction. Cambot was already on board, and Gypsy was built from the parts that were already controling the higher functions of the SOL.

  • What was with Joel's homemade spaceship thing in episode 420? It's apparently made from parts used for Crow, so does that mean there are other Crows running around the SOL?
    • Crow was made from spare parts. It's possible there are extra parts lying around for the 'bots, especially because Servo's head explodes several times with no lasting consequence.
    • There's several thousand Servos (most of them apparently made by Servo himself), but the only other Crow on board that I can think of is the old AMC Crow that Gypsy had been working on (later sent out as a loaner to a guy whose Crow broke down on the side of the road). "Where does the continuing of things which goes again?"
    • Hey, don't forget Timmy!
      • They threw Timmy out the airlock.

  • Joel used the movie-controlling parts of the SOL to build the Bots. Wonderful, except how exactly did a Floralier flowerpot set, bowling pin, gumball machine, etc. allow the Mads to start and stop the movies?
    • He used both movie-controlling parts and non-movie-controlling parts in their construction, naturally.
      • So all the other stuff was just lying around? Or did the Mads take pity on Joel and allow him a shipment of miscellaneous crap with which to invent things?
      • Canonically, The Satellite of Love just has a bunch of random stuff laying around, and no one is sure why. If you want a Fan Wank explanation, Deep 13 is similarly full of random crap, and Pearl did once use the SOL to store a couch while she was redecorating. Perhaps Forrester and Earhart were using their cool satellite for personal failed invention storage prior to launch? Alternatively, the Mads are mad, and trying to figure out why they do anything may cause a similar condition.
      • IIRC, The Gizmonics Institute has an official policy of invention. The invention exchange isn't just something Joel and the Mads made up, it's an official (or at least traditional) part of working for the institute that all employees are expected to take part in, so the mads must've sent him some stuff up to use in inventions (which explains where he got all the stuff for his *other* inventions) that he used to make the bots.
      • The reason the Mads sent him stuff to invent with could be so the Institute thinks Joel is still working there, making inventions. The Mads then have Joel send his inventions back to them, and they in turn send the inventions to the higher ups at the Institute with Joel's name on them. The Institute doesn't wise up to the Mads, Joel stays in space, and they keep getting funding (until they do wise up and the Mads have to move down to Deep 13).
      • I always just figured the 'special parts' he used were the electronics that actually made the bots, you know, move and talk and stuff. Their bodies were just cobbled together out of some of the random junk lying around the SOL. This is why their arms don't work (as per numerous jokes to the fact).

     Unsolved Mysteries of the Invention Exchange 
  • What's a Daktari stool?
    • Daktari was a show from the Sixties about a wild-animal veterinarian in Africa ("Daktari" is Swahili for "doctor"). J&TB just painted a stool with zebra stripes as a silly visual gag.
    • The gag goes further than that. In addition to the above, the stool is not only a literal doctor's stool but "dark, tarry stool" is a symptom of many digestion disorders.
    • Joel Hodgson has confirmed that the joke is a reference to the TV show and a bizarre question on the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (a personality test somewhat like the better-known Meyers Briggs test) which asks the respondent if they have ever had any "dark, tarry-looking bowel movements."

  • What was the last punching bag in the invention exchange in "The Giant Gila Monster"?

     Gypsy Trivia 
  • Why doesn't Gypsy get to watch the movies? All the other three bots can watch, but she doesn't. Sexism?
    • Hardly, it's by choice. Gypsy is responsible for all the higher functions and maintenance of the Satellite of Love, leaving her with little time to watch the movies (which, after all is a torture). However, she does watch the movie in Episode 412: Hercules and the Captive Women, and leaves once she realizes how bad the movie is.
    • Cambot only joins them because they need someone to record them. If Gypsy strapped a camera to her head, maybe she'd join them more often.
    • I think it was mentioned that running the SOL takes up most of Gypsy's computing power, which is what makes her so adorably dopey - also ill-suited to non-stop wisecracking.
      • There's an episode where she's unplugged from the ship's "vital functions", and becomes significantly more intelligent (also, depressed.) Besides, why would Gypsy even want to watch a movie not starring Richard Basehart?

  • Why did the lovely Gypsy disappear in the later seasons? She was awesome.
    • She didn't. Gypsy was never a major character to begin with, and once the show became more plot-oriented there was less time for her.
      • There was also a tendency to use her less after Jim Mallon stopped voicing the character and was replaced by Patrick Brantseg, but she never actually disappeared at any point.

  • If Gypsy runs the higher functions and steering and whatnot on the SOL, what ran them before Joel made her? Was she made out of the parts that ran them, with Joel adding a personality? Was Joel supposed to take care of it all himself (which would admittedly be a bit easier if he was able to pause the movies)? Were the higher functions not supposed to be done at all, presumably killing Joel within a few days of his arrival on the SOL?
    • The very early proto-episodes indeed show Joel taking a more active role in managing the ship's day-to-day functions. There's even a sketch where he offhandedly states that he's trying to finish some complex calculations needed to make micro-adjustments to their orbit in order to avoid coming in contact with debris from a minor meteor shower due to pass by them. Presumably, Forrester and Earhart either didn't think of these things, or are just that insane/cruel.
    • And furthermore, if Gypsy has to steer the ship, she could easily fly them back to Earth? I mean, the Mads would find out, and landing would be tough, but still... and by the way, doesn't MST3K Mantra make this entire page null and void? Ah, fuck it, it's fun.
      • I always assumed Joel would have to regulate that sort of thing himself—that, or, put basically, the theme song doesn't say all his robot friends were made out of the start-stop thingy. Cambot, at least, would have to be pre-existing for Joel to contact the Mads.
      • I, too, always assumed Gypsy and Cambot were already on-board when it was launched.
      • Gypsy might be like Holly — the computer AI — and what Joel built was just a robot body for the already-present AI to use. Similarly, Cambot might be the security system, and Joel just added more functions.
      • I assumed Cambot was aready on board, Joel just re-programmed him to be on his side as opposed to Forrester's. As for the SOL's AI, I thought that was supposed to be Magic Voice.
      • Mike landed the SOL on Earth during The Horrors of Spider Island. Twice.
      • He crashed the Satellite, as part of the "being in an airplane crash makes women helpless, sex-starved and murmur a lot" experiment.
      • Word of God has it that the Satellite of Love was originally equipped with only small "micro-positioning thrusters" and was never meant to be able to propel itself it to the far reaches of space, nor survive re-entry should it somehow wind up in Earth's gravity. Any capacity it shows for either in seasons 8-10 is attributable to either nanites or Negative Continuity.

  • Beginning in Season 11, Gypsy is able to drop in on the theater and deliver the occasional riff, but she's usually either dropping off or picking up some sort of bucket— what exactly is it? A cooler full of drinks and snacks for Jonah and the bots?
    • In response to widespread speculation, the only cryptic Word of God explanation which has been offered for what Gypsy drops off in each episode is that it's "the payload." During the live show tour following the release of season 11, however, there were occasional references made to the "payload" containing snacks and alcoholic drinks, usually ones suited to the local tastes of the current city on the tour.
    • In season 12, "the payload" also starts containing M. Waverly and Growler. Presumably, they've been dragooned into whatever it is Gypsy needs them to do.

     The Satellite of Love 
  • Why is it called the Satellite of Love anyway? And why is it bone-shaped?
    • The Satellite is named for the famous Lou Reed song on his 1973 "Transformer" album, which was sung at the end of all "MST3K LIVE!" preformances. It's bone-shaped because the writers needed to give the Demon Dogs a reason to attack the ship in episode 103, "Mad Monster".
    • Alternatively, "Because".
    • Maybe the SOL is bone-shaped as a Shout-Out to 2001?
    • SOL is an acronym that also means... well, something very fitting.
    • Although I probably shouldn't do this, I'll clarify the above: SOL = "Shit Outta Luck." Similarly, the ship being bone-shaped could be a reference to the crew's being, as another show would say, "boned."
    • Actually, I'm pretty sure it's bone shaped to accommodate the elaborate door sequence that separates the bridge from the theater; the interior set and hallway sequence came first. From an in-universe perspective, the long hall of doors forms a somewhat eccentric but ultra-fortified airlock, preventing depletion of oxygen and keeping the Deep Hurting safely contained. (Oh, and it's the "Satellite of Love" because inventor/janitor Joel Robinson liked Lou Reed. He gave his orbital prison a weirdly positive, pop-cultural inspired nickname because he is unflappable in his strangeness.)
      • The new host bridge/theater transition sequences in Season 11 turn the long hallway into living space, with what appear to be a kitchen, laundry room, bot workshop, and other rooms divided up by the series of doors. This results in the shape of the SOL arguably making somewhat more "logical" sense, but it's not that hard to imagine Dr. Forrester deciding to construct the ship in such a way that getting to the theater required a pointless trek down a long scary hallway with a bunch of elaborate forbidding doors purely for deranged evil genius showmanship.
    • According to a draft of The Movie, Dr. Forrester explained that the original name was 'Satellite Orbital Laboratory', but Joel changed it just to annoy him. Way to stick it to the Mads, Joel.
    • Jerry Lewis also called the satellite that transmitted his annual Labor Day telethon the "Satellite of Love".

  • Why can't they go through the main hallway to get to the theater? My bad if this WAS addressed at some point in the series, but the only thing I found that even mentioned it was in the pilot, when it's time into the theater Joel says "I'll go around, you can go through." But that only raises more questions. What does "going around" mean? Is there another hallway that they go through? Why would there be multiple hallways to get from the same starting point to the same destination?
    • Fire code?
      • Hmm? Care to elaborate on what exactly you mean by that? I fail to see how the hallway presents any sort of fire hazard. Even if it did, what's the point of it being there in the first place? Why would anyone deliberately put in a hallway you can't go through?
      • 'Why would there be multiple hallways to get from the same starting point to the same destination?' When space permits, multiple exit and entry points are built into any structure which has large concentrations of electrical wiring, flammable materials, use of open flame or other factors which increase the risk of a fire. I'm not saying that Cambot's hallway is there because the Mads are worried that Joel might die a horrible, horrible deathnote : just that it's a good reason to have two different hallways that connect point A to point B.
      • The Mads did have a vested interest in keeping Joel and Mike alive, after all- if they died, they'd have to keep finding new people to replace them with, or they would have to give up on the experiment. The Mads didn't really care about whether Joel/Mike died, but they didn't want their work to be a waste. As Bobo says, "If we don't help them, then they'll die and we won't have anybody to play with!"
  • Speaking of the hallways, why did they change the hallways for the Mike episodes? They served the same purpose and were never destroyed in the end, so why change the hallways?
    • Maybe they just wanted to change things up? In my mind, it wouldn't be too surprising if they got tired of seeing the same hallway time and time again.
    • In the ACEG book, they say that the reason they changed the doorway sequence for the Mike-era was simply because they realized the Joel-era doorway sequence looked outdated, and they decided to make it look more elaborate.

     The Forrester Methodology 
  • This one thing has always confused me: Drs. Forrester and Erhardt rocketed Joel into space in a massive satellite filled with conveniences, show him one bad movie per week (and give him the power to start/stop the film), and expect him to go insane. Anyone else see the problem with this?
    • Forrester and Erhardt sure didn't. They're Mad Scientists after all, why should they let a perfectly good plan go to waste just because it makes absolutely no sense?
      • Remember, the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide describes Dr. F as "a man whose passion for depravity far exceeds his aptitude".
      • Now keep in mind he CAN'T control where the movies begin or end, because he used those special parts to make his robot friends.
      • But he was granted the ability to. It's not the Mads fault he didn't use it.
      • If he had used them they would have just forced him to resume like they do in several episodes when he puts off going in to the theater. There may be legitimate reasons for him to start/stop like commercial sign and bathroom breaks but now it's outta his hands...
    • Also, it seems to work pretty well, all things considered. Most of the things Mike does are not the actions of a completely sane man.
    • Plus, if he has other conveniences, then if he does go insane, they'll know it was the film that did it. It's a control, in other words.
    • They don't expect him to go insane. It's an experiment. The goal is to see if any of the movies are bad enough to make him go insane on their own.

  • If the Mads are trying to find a movie that's so bad they can use it to take over the world by showing Joel a bunch of awful movies, wouldn't all the terrible movies sort of wear him down slowly and they'd need to show all the movies to people to break them (Yeah, MST3K Mantra, but I'm not the only one overthinking things here)?
    • Forrester is a man whose passion for depravity far exceeds his aptitude. In short: any flaw in the Mads' plans can be attributed to their insanity and lack of forethought.
    • They did show all the bad movies to people. To keep their targets from realizing what they were up to, they turned it into what seemed like a TV series, but was actually just a series of incredibly bad movies shown over the course of, oh, about ten years. They called it Mystery Science Theater 3000.
    • So the Forrester's really did drive humanity insane with awful movies? That explains so much!

    A gay old time 
  • What's with all the subtle and non-subtle homosexual subtext within the show? I can't be the only person who sees it, as other people have remarked on it too.
    • what exactly? I thought most of that kind of stuff would have been played for the lulz anyway.
      • "Bro humor" played for laughs before it was more common. Anything else and we'll need examples please.
    • Everything is played for the lulz on MST3K, homosexual subtext included.
    • I don't know what you're talking about. It's not called the Satellite of Strictly Heterosexual Luv... not that there's anything wrong with that.
    • It's a common joke, to imply guys are gay when they're not. If you're referring to stuff involving the bots, wouldn't it technically be "robosexual", though?
    • Specific examples: 1) In "Beginning Of The End", Mike and The Bots call down to Deep 13 to find The Mads in the midst of a 'domestic' scene (mud facials, eating bon-bons and watching daytime TV) like a couple; 2) in "The Creeping Terror", during Laundry Day, Frank makes mention of Forrester's "fine washables" ("I know I bought you more underpants!") 3) Also from "The Creeping Terror", during the Love, American Style satire, Tom and Mike "must" get married because Mike get's Tom's engagement ring stuck on his finger. And so much more...

    Is Joel vs. Mike really Serious Business? 
  • Why all the hullabaloo over Joel Vs. Mike? They were both very funny, just sometimes in different ways. Can't we just accept that neither is inherently superior than the other and all just get along?
    • No. GTFO.
    • It may not be an answer you are looking for but, "You're not alone." IJBM too.
    • Mike is a clean-cut blond and writing room overachiever whose incisive wit and verbal precision leads to tremendously polished riffing. Joel's a brown-haired memetic stoner and unfathomable oddball whose comedy is so far out of left field that even when it doesn't work, it is a wonder to behold. In an ideal world they'd still be working together, but since they aren't, the Betty and Veronica contrast makes it tempting to take sides.
    • The hilarious part is that Mike and Joel have always been great friends and collaborators and are still rather close to this day. Mike even wanted to acknowledge the Fandumb by staging a mock rivalry between Cinematic Titanic and RiffTrax. Joel disagreed, and so the rivalry is only in the minds of fans and even then mostly friendly.
    • I suppose we could accept that the views of others are valid... if we want the talk-radio and "news"-network industries to collapse!

  • One thing that's gotten on my mind lately; why couldn't Joel and Mike just work together? I mean it'd be understandable if Joel had other commitments, but think about what could have happened. I even wrote a theme new theme song for the occasion. What do you think?

    In the not too distant future,
    There were to guys named Joel and Mike
    None too different from you or me.

    Two regular joes who used their gifts,
    Two normal faces who traded shifts, (High five)
    They did their jobs, each with a kipper face,
    But their bosses didn't like them so they shot 'em into space.

    (Mike and Joel): Get! Us! DOWN!!!

    We'll send them cheesey movies,
    The worst we can find (La la la.)
    They'll have to sit and watch them all
    And we'll monitor their minds (La la la.)

    Now, keep in mind they can't control
    Where the movies begin or end (La la la)
    Because Joel used those special parts
    To make their robot friends.

    Cambot! (We're rolling.)
    Gypsy! (Company!)
    Tom Servo! (I'm famous!)
    Croooow! (Servo stole my line.)

    If you're wondering how they eat and breathe,
    And other science facts (La la la,)
    For Mystery Science Theater 3000!
    • Because if Joel hadn't left, Mike wouldn't have become host. Joel didn't leave due to a dispute with Mike, who he worked really well with—in fact, Joel even stated when he left that he felt Mike should have the hosting job. Joel and Jim Mallon, the show's owner/producer, had a dispute with regards to Joel's place in a potential MST3K film franchise in combination with Joel's desire to do other things and his discomfort with being in the spotlight.
      • Yeah, I found that out shortly after I wrote the lyrics and now that you mention it, that was a terrible idea from the beginning.
    • Having two subjects eliminates-or at least lessens-the need for companionship, so there's no need for robot friends.

     Mirror Universe Servo 
  • In episode #611, Last of the Wild Horses, the evil mirror-universe Tom Servo is stuck in the theater with prime universe Crow and Mike, until the last act, when the prime Servo comes back into the theater. Though he had spent the entire episode trapped in mirror-Deep 13, he seems to automatically know what's going on the film, who the characters are, and even picks up on the running gags. How?
    • Because Tom is just that good.
      • Maybe Mirror-Tom has seen "Last of the Wild Horses" of his own volition. He's obviously a fan of the genre...
      Evil Tom: I'll destroy you! I'll - oooo, a cowboy movie!!

    • It is established in various episodes that they know what is going on in the theater down at Deep 13 or in the Widowmaker etc.
      • "You mean you watched the movie and we didn't get to watch you watching the movie?" - Pearl. In other words, the Mads watch the movie.

     Crow's Name 
  • More of a question than a JBM — was it ever confirmed that Crow's middle name was The? Because if not, I'd like to think his middle name was Trace, simply because it's kinda funny to have a name in the format of "Name T. Species" where the T is an actual name.
    • I seem to recall seeing it cited more than once as "Tiberius", but that could just be Fanon.
      • According to the Wikia, his middle name is The. As in, Crow The Robot.
      • Also according to Trace Beaulieu.
      • It gets worse, according to Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges into Minnesota, Crow is an acronym for Cybernetic Remotely Operated Woman. Mind Screw.
      • Joel admitted he was kidding about that; he just wanted to see Crow's reaction.
      • In Gamera Vs. Gurion, Joel at one point during the Invention Exchange refers to Crow as Crow The Robot.

    "It's a cockroach" 
  • WTF is that thing that goes past the "6" door in the Mike-era episodes? I've wondered this for years. (It's not a Nanite.)
    • It's a cockroach.

    Crow loves Crow 
  • Did Crow ever get together with the "extra" time paradox Crow from Time Chasers?
    • To what end?
      • No, they just argued and called each other rude names.

    Mixing fictional and double-fictional characters 
  • I don't seem to understand how it is that characters from the movie can visit the crew. The crew just saw a movie of them, so wouldn't they accuse the characters of being fictional? Are these characters supposed to be actors in the movie they just saw or are they real people? I believe the giant (portrayed by Mike Nelson) said he was an actor in a movie. Same thing when the Nostalgia Critic and Angry Video Game Nerd are greeted by people from stuff they review.
    • Simple. Everything is based on a true story, and all the main characters have time machines.
    • Perhaps the guys are open-minded enough not to be prejudiced against somebody just because they're fictional.

  • Speaking of time, the rationale given for Mike not being able to use the time machine to escape the SOL is due to it emitting lethal levels of radiation. However, in subsequent episodes they keep sending people other than Mike back and forth through time. Either Mike is too stupid to notice that the radiation danger has passed and there's an obvious escape route in front of him or it only emits radiation when something is beamed out, which means that there are a lot of people being hurtled forwards in time and having their corpses sent back...
    • This demands Dark Fic. Make it happen, internet.
      • IIRC, the only people to use that machine are Crow and the future woman from Terror From The Year 5000. I'm pretty sure her suit was covered for that sort of thing.

    Exceptions to the show's policy about rape scenes 
  • It's explained that movies like The Sidehackers and Red Zone Cuba were cut for content because the show has a "No Rape Scenes" policy, or something of the like. And yet, they made no such changes for The Violent Years...
    • I haven't seen that one, but maybe the rape scene in Years was less violent than the ones in the other two?
    • Because apparently rape is okay when it's female on male.
    • The rape in The Violent Years was only implied, and on top of that, it had absolutely nothing to do with actual rape, it was just some guy's fantasy.
    • Yep, I was thinking about that during the (admittedly failed) rape at the beginning of Girls Town.

    Cambot doesn't get a present 
  • In "The Killer Shrews", why doesn't Cambot get a present?
    • Perhaps he was feeling shy that day and turned himself off before he received his gift.
    • On a similar note, how come in the series finale, when M&TB think the SOL is about to self-destruct, everybody says "I love you" to each other, but NOBODY says "I love you" to Cambot! Sure, Servo didn't say "I love you" to Crow, but Crow called him out on it. I guess nobody loves Cambot.
      • My guess is that when the crew came back from the edge of the universe in "Revenge of the Creature", maybe Cambot wasn't himself for the rest of the series, like Crow was until "The Mole People", when he was able to recognize Mike.
    • That always pissed me off too. Sure, Cambot was mute and impossible to show on screen, but they don't even mention what happened to him when they all get back to earth.
      • Being a big Cambot fan, I have worried about these same problems and came up with my own explanations for each:
      • Cambot recieved his present during the commercial break.
      • While Pearl was having her freakout, Cambot interupted Tom and Crow bickering and pointed out how none of them said goodbye to him. Mike and Gypsy gave sincere apologies while Tom and Crow told Cambot to speak up next time.
      • Who do you think was filming that scene in Mike, Tom and Crow's apartment.

    It was a lyric before it was a mantra 
  • Slightly meta example but it bugs me a little bit that the Trope Namer for the MST3K Mantra doesn't really need it. There's plenty of straight, non-comedy sci-fi that needs more handwaves and suspension of belief then MST3k.
    • Yes, but no other show has said it better than "Just think to yourself, 'It's just a show, I should really just relax.'" MST3K had this sentiment in their theme song, which is why it deserves to be the Trope Namer.

  • I'm probably just asking this because I haven't watched the show enough, but how is it that a show based on mocking bad movies manages to be the trope namer for not thinking too hard about inconsistencies in a story? Doesn't emphasizing that make them hypocritical or at least deprive them of ammunition?
    • The mantra cautions against taking seriously what is meant to be taken lightly, not taking lightly what was meant to be taken seriously. Think about it. You'll be glad you did.
    • It was meant to excuse how Joel and Mike lived in the SOL. Still, much of what they criticized was not Science facts.
    • They were reminding people that they were watching a glorified puppet show. The movies they riff on, however, were written to be taken seriously. (Well, they do do a couple "comedies", like The Wild Wild Adventures of Batwoman and Catalina Caper, but for the most part they're riffing on serious movies.) For movies that contain good science, for example Marooned, you'll notice they don't riff on the science. For movies that contain terrible science, for example Stranded in Space with the planet the same size as Earth but opposite the Sun, where everybody is left-handed, they tear it apart.
    • Ya know if you read the entire summary of MST3K Mantra you wouldn't be asking this, it addresses that question.
    • It is the trope namer, not because it exemplified the trope, but because it proudly carried the Lampshade Hanging right out where everybody could see it.
    • The mantra isn't saying "Don't like it? Well F**k off". It's saying "Who cares if it doesn't make sense, as long as you enjoy it." If you actually watch the show, you'll see that they don't so much analyze as they just mock. There's nothing in the mantra about that.
  • Joel and the rest of the people who helped him develop the show knew it would attract geeks, and geeks tend to analyze stuff like "how he eats and breathes, and other science facts" until it's not fun anymore. So that was added to the theme song to remind everyone that it's a comedy puppet show, and not a sci fi show.

    The End 
  • The SOL lands in Diabolik. Mike, Tom and Crow move into a small apartment. Then they start watching the cheesy movie The Crawling Eye. Why? They've escaped the experiment, but they're still watching bad movies. WHY?!
    • Simple. They've seen so many bad movies that they just have to keep watching them. The experiment failed in the sense of trying to find a movie that would make the world kneel, but succeeded in making them unable to live life without them. Then again, this could just be wild mass guessing.
    • For Crow and Tom this would make a lot of sense considering that they were designed to make jokes while watching bad movies. As for Mike, he's probably gotten so used to it that it's second nature for him.
    • Heck, I'm not trapped on a satellite, and I watch bad movies of my own volition for fun.
      • Word of God states that Mike and the 'bots are the sort of buds who'd watch TV on a slow afternoon and snark at the screen. For fun. Besides, there's a big difference between being forced to and doing it for the heck of it. For one, they can change the channel. Poor guys can only afford a TV with a dipole antenna.
      • It's also a Shout-Out to the very first episode, which featured... The Crawling Eye. Of course, none of the actors who worked on the first episode were around for the last one, but Crow and Servo (the characters) are a little creeped out when they realize what's going on, IIRC...
    • Stockholm syndrome. They've fallen in love with bad cinema.
    • Nostalgia's sake, sort of like a celebratory "Hey, remember when we first snarked at a movie together?" thing - at least for the Bots. Plus the idea of things coming full circle again, the Bots themselves "growing up" the same way children would, and all that other fun sentimental stuff.
    • They had been watching/making fun of bad movies for years, in the bots' case, their whole lives. It became part of their routine, so they kept at it. What I want to know is why they're inexplicably present again on Kinga's rebuilt So L.

     This page 
  • If the motto of the the show is"It's just a show; I should really just relax." why does this page exist?
    • It's the show's motto, not the fans' law.
    • People did think to themselves "it's just a show, I should really just relax". . . then decided not to just relax, and came here.

    The Credits 
  • Why do they stay and watch the credits sometimes and leave right at the end other times?"
    • End credits are actually a relatively new phenomenon in the world of movies. Prior to the formation of the MPAA, most films only had opening credits, and when the movie ended, it ended. For the later films, rights issues probably stipulated that they had to show all the credits if they wanted to air the film.
    • Probably the latter way more than the former. The MPAA is Older Than They Think, dating back to the '20s. It probably has to do, as mentioned, that with the evolution of more elaborate end credits in the '60s through the early '80s, rights contracts and clearances may have demanded that any showings include the entire credits to satisfy the various production unions' contracts.
    • I always figured it had more to do with whether or not the film in question was long enough to fill an entire episode.
     Why did they never riff an animated movie? 
  • There was that one Gumby short but why did they never do a feature length animated movie?
    • Joel claims it's because a lot of riffing is about reacting to characters' faces, and bad animated films tend to have very inexpressive characters.

    Kinga Forrester's Mother 

  • Why did a show as venerable, iconic, and classic as Mystery Science Theater 3000 have to resort to crowdfunding to make new episodes like some unknown, debut indie project? Shouldn't Netflix have had to come to them, hat in hand on bended knee, to beg Hodgson to revive the show?
    • The franchise had been defunct for over 17 years, and subject to a nasty rights scuffle between Jim Mallon and Joel Hodgson, so to an outsider it may have seemed too complicated or risky. And a successful Kickstarter is, funding aside, also a great litmus test to present to executives who want to gauge potential interest in a property.

    "Does this bug you? I'm not touching you." 
  • Can someone explain this riff to me? They say it in several episodes and I've never been sure what they're referring to. Is it just something everyone but me gets?
    • It's just something children occasionally do to each other when trying to be annoying.
    • To be more specific, you're taught at an early age that you're not allowed to touch someone else (or that, if you do, they will have license to touch you back i.e. shoving) but it's an annoying sibling tactic to wave your hands or fingers around your sibling's face, close enough to be irritating and distracting but not "technically" doing anything wrong because you're not actually touching them. A lot of bad movies will have baddies close in on a character but not actually doing anything except look menacing as they hover over them, and this is what that joke is making fun of.


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