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An "MST" (or "MSTing") is a type of satire performed by adding humorous running commentary on top of another work. "Humor" here can range between tongue-in-cheek commentary to outright vitriol, depending on the original work's quality.

The term "MST" was derived from the show Mystery Science Theater 3000 (often called "MST3K"), which did this to So Bad, It's Good B-movies, but was coined and popularized by fan fiction writers, who applied it to an MST3K-style treatment of other fanfics. MSTers often targeted SBIG fics, though sometimes they chose genuinely good stories either as a personal challenge or just to have a laugh. And while MSTs weren't limited to fanfics (one of the earliest known text-based MSTs is of a Usenet group post), they did become—and still remain—the primary target.

In the conventional text-based MST, a MSTer quotes large chunks of the source material, then inserts their own snarky comments:

> [Text straight from the fanfiction]
MSTer: Snarky comment or pop-culture reference!

Early examples of MSTings would utilize MST3K's cast as the required snark brigade; dedicated writers would include host segments and the Mads. Once the general stylistic conventions of fic-based MSTs were established, MSTers branched out by changing the characters commenting on the fic at hand: Sometimes they used characters from a fic's source material, sometimes they used random characters unrelated to the fic, and sometimes they used wholly original characters(often the author's forum persona and other members) while staying within some form of the MST3K formula. (Some fandoms refer to this as "sporking".)

Fanfic MSTers have a fairly elaborate Code of Honor that they follow before doing a MST, which boils down to the following rules:

  • A MSTer must never make a MST just to spite another author - especially if you don't like them personally.
  • A MSTer must first ask for MSTing permission from the original author. Fan fiction being subject to Sturgeon's Law like anything else, a lot of authors may consider their work an Old Shame - or realize there is No Such Thing as Bad Publicity. If they say yes, go ahead. If they say no, respect their decision. If they don't respond, can't be contacted or have vanished altogether, go ahead, but tread carefully.
  • A MSTer must always credit the original author of the work being MSTied.
  • A MSTer must try their best not to let their humor hit below the belt. Sturgeon's Law applies to MSTers just as much as it applies to the authors they target.

MSTers who didn't follow this unwritten code were often blacklisted by their respective fan communities. When enough writers failed to follow the code, a number of fanfic sites banned MSTs entirely rather than deal with further rousing of the rabble. Such bans - combined with the major MSTers of the form's late-'90s heyday moving on to other pursuits - led to a dearth of fic-based MSTings after the early 2000s.

When it comes to sex and violence (notably in regards to Lemons), MSTers don't have a hard "rule" about how to treat such content. Many MSTers avoid reprinting the more Squick-y content while keeping "tamer" content intact, while others leave everything in.

Outside of fan fiction, this trope is referred to as "riffing" (not to be confused with the musical term). Text riffs generally work in a similar fashion to fanfic MSTs or sporkings; audio or video riffs will have snarky commentary running over the original audio.

Compare Alternate DVD Commentary, The Abridged Series and The Heckler. If this in done by characters to their own source material, then it's a "Let's Watch Our Show" Plot.

MSTers with their own pages:

    open/close all folders 

Examples of MSTs targeting fanfiction (divided by medium of original work):

    Anime and Manga 

    Films — Animation 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Happens in-universe in "The Cameo." Penny and her chem lab partner are described as mercilessly flaying a fictional piece of bad smut fanfic featuring the former TV star and her dog. They even reference Mystery Science Theater 3000 while doing so.
    Penny: [barely stifling a fit of giggles] Good evening. Welcome one and all to another episode of “Mystery Porn Theater 3000.”


    Live-Action TV 
  • The LiveJournal community house_mst is dedicated to MSTing the very worst of House fanfiction, using characters from House to comment on it rather than the original MST3K characters.

  • The Asylum (no relation to the production company The Asylum) is a Wordpress-based blog that riffs on various bad fanfictions from around the web. It features a number of former contributors from Library Of The Damned, after that site closed.
  • A MSTing For All Seasons is a website collecting the MSTing works of three separate authors, targeting everything from the infamous "Oscar" stories to a collection of UFO conspiracy theory postings. They may be some of the best examples out there.
    • Specifically, prolific MSTer Megane 6.7, who's been riffing on fics for nearly a decade (including several MSTs done well after the zenith of the MiSTing community's output). Ever wonder who to thank/beat up for finding Oscar's fanfics? Go find Megane; he was the first person to riff "Artemis's Lover".
  • The LiveJournal community badfic_quotes sporks multifandom fanfic and "professional" stories, with a particular love of poorly concieved summaries from The Pit (, while weepingcock is the smutfic sporking equivalent, hunting down the worst descriptions of sex and body parts that will having you screaming for Brain Bleach. Particularly of note: the dark, dark world of Transformational Porn Fic.
  • The Chongo Show has started a series called "What the Fanfic", a video MST with accompanied animated pictures to match what is being said. Most readings are blin and all comments are improvised.
  • The Daily Insanity, made by Raetekusu. As of now, he only has Chapters 1-11 of My Immortal and a MST of an article comparing Stephenie Meyer to J.K. Rowling, but under planned MSTs, he has My Inner Life, a Sue-fic from Kingdom Hearts, and a couple of more recent fics he's found.
  • Das Sporking has sporkings for sixty-four fandoms and counting, including both fanfiction and published works. It initially had a much smaller range of fandoms to be sporked when the only sporkers were Das Mervin and Mrs. Hyde (who of course could only spork for things they were familiar with or interested in), however the community eventually opened up to allow more sporkers, all of whom brought their own fandoms to the table.
  • Everything What Is Crap, formerly "Shinji's Vault of Anime MSTings" or "SVAM", contains lots of MSTings of fics from anime, Western cartoons, and other forms of media. The site was one of the largest MSTing repositories on the 'Net, but it went into archive mode in 2008 and vanished from the Internet a decade later. The link now goes to an archived version on the Wayback Machine.
  • decided to ban fic MSTings at one point because they were "disrespectful" to authors. They have either changed their policy or stopped caring since then, as "MST3kII" is still going strong.
  • Twitter account fanfiction_txt finds particularly bad lines from fanfiction of all media, and presents them without comment. Tumblr account fanfictionimg then periodically takes some of the cream of that crop and creates little comics out of it, lampooning just how absurd the lines are if taken at face value.
  • supercomputer276 brings you the Game Over MST, starring his Game Over series characters riffing ideas that could have turned out great if only they had a decent writer, ranging from Happy Tree Friends to Klonoa.
  • It Came From English 101! does this with the MSTer's own English essays, as well as fanfics.
  • The Lardpirates' Heckles section, which covers particularly bad webcomics (mostly Gonterman) to especially offensive fan fiction of One Piece, Final Fantasy and Phantom Brave. More are sure to come!
  • The blog Library of the Damned riffs on fanfics from a variety of fandoms, ranging from video games to children's TV shows.
  • Bennett the Sage on Channel Awesome does Masterpiece Fanfic Theatre where he brings "the very best of the very worst of fanfiction" by reading horrible, usually NSFW, fanfic aloud, while every now and then white text pops up over the video as a snide comment in an MST fashion.
  • The MSTing Mine is an effort to archive every MST ever posted to the MST3K Usenet groups. This includes the earliest known MSTs, posted to said Usenet groups in 1993.
  • There is the relatively new Pocket Dimension of Horrible Fanfiction, that covers such fics as My Inner Life, The Quest For The Holey Grail, and a couple of Kingdom Hearts fics in production or finished.
  • The forum Refia is dedicated to writing up new and fresh MSTings of both recent and classic fanfics, mostly of The Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who canon.
  • Retsuraed is described as "halfway between an MST and an Abridged Series". Besides the usual snarkyness, the people reading the fic often like to add additional "scenes" to it that poke fun at the blatant plot holes and Fridge Logic in the fics.
  • So, What Colour Is Your Toothbrush?, handling everything from Case Closed and Harry Potter to Warrior Cats and Hetalia: Axis Powers.
  • The Stephen Ratliff MSTing Archives include pretty much every Stephen Ratliff-based MSTing ever written. Also the MSTings of the infamous Peter Guerin Daria fanfics, such as The Misery Senshi Neo-Zero Double Blitzkrieg Debacle.
  • Topless Robot's Fan Fiction Friday Feature does this for fanfic. It moved to io9 with creator Rob Bricken, but similarly to the example did not last long due in part to the "disrespect" issue.
  • WeHeartFanfics, an MST Youtube channel created by independent game developer Banov and some of his college friends.
  • MSTings have also been done in webcomic form.
  • The Polish blog Niezatapialna Armada Kolonasa Waazona focuses mostly on fanfiction (much of it for Harry Potter) and on Real-Person Fic (most of them about singers and boy-bands), though they've also reviewed published literature.
  • The Satellite of Hate is an interesting inversion of the usual MST: Joel is an evil villain who is imprisoned on the Satellite of Hate, and he is forced to read well written fanfiction in an attempt to rehabilitate him.
  • M.C.T. 3000 by MariusWales has a regular cast of children from various cartoons (with occasional guest characters) riff various movies (mostly live-action, with a few animated ones).

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • MSTs are the main attraction on the blog The Half-World.
  • Project A.F.T.E.R.note  was a site dedicated to ridding the world of terrible fanfiction by MSTing it. However, instead of using a cast of characters, it was just the author of the MST commenting on the work. Its forum also included a section where fans could post their own MSTs. Sadly, the site and its forums are no more, but several old members migrated to the Anime Outsiders forums to continue MSTing... until AO removed its forums at some point.
  • Wattpad invokes this by allowing users to comment on every paragraph of other users' writing, so you can click on the comment logo (a speech bubble with a number in it) at the side of a chunk of writing and read comments of people reacting in real-time.
  • Wisecrack are a group of people who analyse the philosophy, sociology, psychology and politics and beloved pop culture franchises and products.

    Western Animation 

Examples of MSTs and riffs targeting other media:

    Anime and Manga 
  • The DVD Commentary track for the anime Bakemonogatari consists of the characters MSTing their own show, with dialogue written by the original author.
  • The cast commentary for The End of Evangelion trying desperately to fight off the incredibly bleak film by mocking it.
    Hey wait, that last guy's still alive!
    Oh, no, wait, yeah, that's all of them.

    Comic Books 
  • Deadpool's text boxes have shifted from mere thought boxes to this role in the later years.
  • For Mister Kitty Stupid Comics the format is:
    > Panel from comic book
    Snarky comment!
  • The Bongo Comics Simpsons series had a B-story where Bart and his friends turn up for the latest in the Space Mutants franchise, only for the movie to put on an old Troy McClure film called Gladys the Groovy Mule. Bart and friends even cast distinctive silhouettes in the first row while they snark.
  • The Marvel UK reprint of the comic book adaptation of The Transformers episode "The Big Broadcast of 2006!" had a Simon Furman framing device in which the Quintessons denied it ever happened.


  • Dragons: Lexicon Triumvirate has one on ConjugalFelicity, which can also be found on ImpishIdea along with another one that appears to have ended prematurely.
  • Older Than Radio: In Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, narrator Pip and several other crowd members riff on a particuarly bad performance of Hamlet. "The ghost appeared to have died with a bad cough which he carried with him to the tomb."
  • Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte has an in-universe one where the title characters provide a commentary on Kobayashi's favourite Otome Game as a means of practice for Broadcast Club they're in...until one of the characters in the game hears them and starts reacting.
  • John Nowak and Matt Plotecher's MSTing of Tom Swift's War Tank tears into the original series' hallmarks of Patriotic Fervor, Ethnic Scrappies, Canon Sues and the magnificent colossus of all-consuming stupidity that is Ned Newton. It has its own tropes page, here.
  • Kippurbird has done sporkings of every book in the Inheritance Cycle, as well as shorter ones of various other books.
  • Kyon of the Haruhi Suzumiya series provides an in-universe example when he spends most of The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina: Episode 00 making snarky comments.
  • ImpishIdea, contains several sporkings including one for Maradonia Saga.
  • The Maximum Ride series has several; such as one on Soulish Exhortations, one on ImpishIdea and one on Das Sporking.
  • A proto-form of this kind of critique in Poland might be the writer Feliks Kres, who, in his magazine column "Galeria Złamanych Piór" ("Gallery of Broken Quills") once or twice published fragments of particularly bad reader-submitted stories, and commented on them this way. Kres quickly decided it was pointless, but many subsequent Polish sporkers cite him as an inspiration.
  • Turkish-German comedian Serdar Somuncu's most famous act is an MSTing of Mein Kampf. It is exactly as transgressive as it sounds, and absolutely hilarious.
  • Jeff Vandermeer's novel Shriek: An Afterword features the story's protagonist snarkily commenting on the narrator's work.
  • Mark Twain:
    • Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses is some sort of proto-MST.
    • In Roughing It, Twain gives The Book of Mormon the same treatment after he is given a copy when he is travelling through Utah.
    • He does a devastating critique of Christian Science which, along with taking apart its medical and religious principles, just plain mocks Mary Baker Eddy's writing in Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures.
  • The Polish Speculative Fiction e-zine Fahrenheit has an occasional section named Zakużona Planeta (lit. "The Duzty Planet"), for sporking particularly bad submissions. It's a literature journal, so the comments focus mainly on explaining the flaws in writing, as opposed to simple mockery. They still tend to be hilarious, however.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Community Abed and Troy apparently have a tradition of doing this to horrendous B-movies; Shirley, Pierce, and Señor Chang show up, too. (And yet Jeff, played by the one cast member who had guest starred on RiffTrax, does NOT show up.)
    • Pierce attempts to compensate for his lack of ability at this by writing his jokes with a team of writers beforehand, like the actual Mystery Science Theater 3000 did after its first season.
  • CSI: NY: At the end of "Get Me Out of Here!," the team gathers in the conference room to watch Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan together and mock all the inaccuracies. For example: a head being chopped off in one fell swoop with a machete, since various layers of bone and connective tissue would prevent that being possible.
  • Half of any given Doctor Who DVD or Blu-Ray commentary for the Fifth Doctor's era becomes this when the commentary is done by Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding and either Matthew Waterhouse or Mark Strickson. They're usually snarking at themselves, each other, or the Special Effects Failure of the moment on the screen (when they're not affectionately snarking at each other in the recording booth) making for a hilarious and gleefully anarchic experience For instance.... Sutton and Fielding have shades of this as well (either with or without Davison and Waterhouse or Strickson) when doing the "Behind the Sofa" shorts note  on the current Doctor Who full-season Blu-Ray sets. The two gleefully snark about the episodes, and when it's a Fifth episode, are often ribbing Davison as well.
  • The DVD Commentary by the cast for Farscape often features the cast riffing on the action or dialog. Especially Ben Browder and Claudia Black. Their commentary together on the season one episode "Throne For A Loss" is particularly hilarious.
  • Game Show Network's original series Faux Pause screened obscure, short-lived game shows, paused them at certain points, and riffed on them.
  • FlirtyFroggy wrote a series of commentaries/reviews of Hornblower. Writing and characters are praised very often, but mocked mercilessly when it's deserved. As the author put it: "I mock because I care." It's very snarky, but also includes gushing about Archie Kennedy, because in the author's opinion, he's the cutest and coolest character on the show, and needless to say, this view is mirrored by many fans.
  • The Glitterdome (archived, as the website is unfortunately no longer active) was an archive of MSTs for dozens of TV shows, done by taking screenshots and adding captions. It's mostly sci-fi and supernatural shows such as Buffy and Doctor Who.
    • Hipsoda's Caption Crack is another captioning site, where cappers (as they call themselves) can choose from an assortment of shows, movies, commercials, etc. and even "fave" captions.
  • Some of the DVD Commentary tracks for Mad Men feature the actors riffing on the episodes. It happens pretty much any time Vincent Kartheiser (Pete Campbell) and/or John Slattery (Roger Sterling) are on the commentary, and there are a few episodes where they're together.
  • M*A*S*H did this a few times in its early years when home movies were being screened. Used to its funniest as Hawkeye, Trapper, Klinger, Radar and Henry were watching Frank's home movie of his wedding.
    Hawkeye: [as movie first shows line of wedding guests] I've invited you all here today because I'm ready to name the murderer.
  • In a case of MST being the regular narration, MTV Brazil used to broadcast Rockgol, a soccer tournament between musicians where the announcers were two comedians. Instead of doing a regular play-by-play, they frequently mocked the "athletes" (including giving them nicknames) or took detours discussing weird topics.
    • A similar concept was done by ESPN (!) with the series Cheap Seats, which even had a cameo from Mike Nelson, Tom and Crow in the frist proper episode of Season 2, "Creative Breaking Champs/K-1 Fighting"note ; it focused on two dudes who riffed on weird old sports they found in the ESPN tape library. Unusually for this type of setup, they had a live studio audience for a time!

    Miscellaneous/Multiple Media 
  • The fivers over at have some elements of an MST combined with an Abridged Series. It's a bit complicated; read the examples at the works page.
  • Comic SJ Perelman would often mock plays or entire novels. He even had a special prefix for the times he mocked a book he had read as a child; "Cloudland Revisited".
  • In a speech before the Reichstag on April 28, 1939, Adolf Hitler went point-by-point through a series of demands addressed to him by Franklin D. Roosevelt. The German dictator paused after reading each item to give his snarky/sarcastic answer, prompting his rubber-stamp parliament to roar with laughter. That's right, MSTing is something Hitler did.


    Professional Wrestling 
  • Although short-lived, Lynxara's Mystery Wrestling Theater 3000 was a fun series geared towards wrestling fans. Instead of using the Bots and the Mads, Lynxara used well-known WWE and WCW stars as the riffers with Vince McMahon and Dwayne Johnson serving as their captors. While it did riff wrestling-related fics, MWT3K's two longest (and most memorable) entries have nothing to do with wrestling: the horrific "Coming of Munihausen" (a crossover between Sailor Moon and Overfiend), and the even-worse(!) "A sorcerer, a demon, and Emeralds" (an incredibly dark Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic).

  • William Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream ends with a bumbling theatre troupe that plans to perform a version of "Pyramus and Thisbe" for Duke Theseus, his new wife Hippolyta the Queen of the Amazons, and some guests. The play is an extreme example of So Bad, It's Good; meanwhile, the royal couple and their guests mercilessly riff on it. (It should be mentioned that it wasn't taboo to talk during the play in Shakespeare's time; and also that "Pyramus and Thisbe" had been adapted for the stage several times, always poorly.)
    • Given the precedence, authors MSTing Shakespeare fanfics often use Theseus and Hippolyta.
  • In the Commedia dell'Arte, there was a character called the Capo or Capocomico, ostensibly a narrator, but in some shows he would join the action, complain to the audience, and sometimes even freeze the action and physically move the actors.
  • Just a few years after the Shakespeare example, it was included in Francis Beaumont's The Knight Of The Burning Pestle in the form of a loud middle-class couple that's supposed to be part of the audience. They decide they have a better view of the show if they sit on stage, then get in an argument with the guy reading the prologue, and soon berate him into changing the play so it focuses on the middle class—which, remember, was a pretty new class at the time—and also into making up a new character and subplot so that their servant-boy can be in the show. They never do shut up, occasionally interrupting the action to complain.

    Video Games 
  • Broken Pixels was a series on where three guys would play bad video games for comedic value. Featured Seanbaby.
    • Broken Pixels received a spiritual successor of sorts called Shame Night, a live Ustream show shown every Friday. Unfortunately, that's now gone as well, due to co-host Scott Sharkey being laid off under mysterious circumstances.
  • Any given Let's Play might be this, depending on the player's opinion of the game and the overall tone of their LPs. Pokecapn and his crew (whether it's all four guys together or just any combination thereof) tend to choose games that are ripe for this sort of treatment, so naturally it's going to happen.
  • Two Best Friends Play from theswitcher features two best friends playing games with their insult-exchanging commentary over it.
    • They also did a "Two Best Friends Watch" with their friend Woolie of Metroid: Other M through the in-game Theater mode.
  • In a curious case, the otherwise forgettable Off-World Interceptor had MST-style riffs over their own cutscenes. Presumably, they realized that they were deeply terrible and figured that was the only way to redeem them.
  • The series of Playstation Underground demo disks from the 90s once got in the actual Mystery Science Theater 3000 cast to riff on some of the video features from other disks in the series.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 Presents "Detective" is an adaptation of the old, So Bad, It's Good text adventure Detective, with added humorous riffing by the Mystery Science Theater crew who comment on all the oddities and flaws of the game.
  • The Early Years is a collection of text adventure games written by author Sam Stoddard as a child. Stoddard provides a present-day commentary which frequently mocks the childish, illogical nature of the games' puzzles and plotting, as well as pointing out spelling mistakes and programming errors.
    You are at the sun. You see nothing of interest.
    You know, I'm pretty sure that if I were standing on the surface of the Sun, whatever I'd be seeing would be of particular interest. Then again, maybe I had already figured anyone standing on the surface of the Sun would be blinded a skillion times over. But I'm guessing not.

  • In Homestuck, Dirk MSTs a Pony Pals book. As the story goes on, he starts going Off the Rails, blacking out and rewriting entire chapters, keeping only the chapter titles. According to Jane, it becomes "a tough, emotionally draining read. But it's cathartic, in all the worst ways possible."
    • This MST has since been defictionalized by sonnetstuck, and even has its own page. A lot of times, it goes deep into a philosophical discussion of the very essence of literature and writing, including the author's all-powerfulness in their work, originality and even etymologies of various writing- and retelling-related terms.
  • Tough The Gutters usually is content with criticizing the comics industry by the way of parody and satire, in this two parter they emulate the MST3K style, taking a shot at a controversial real life speech, with the creators playing the parts of the MST3K crew.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Family Guy episode "New Kidney in Town" has Peter, Quagmire, and Joe watching Charles in Charge on a TV at the Drunken Clam and riffing over the show's intro in this manner.
    Quagmire: I heard the show's sweater budget was like $200,000.
  • A special 2007 television version of the Jimmy Neutron movie called "Genius, Sheenius or Inbetweenius" had Jimmy, Carl and Sheen rifting the film in the exact way MST does.
  • The 1988 Mighty Mouse episode "Mighty's Tone Poem" had the hero making four of his arch-foes watch his home movies of clips from first season episodes. As the film rolls, they make commentary on it:
    Oil Can Harry: I'd walk out of this movie on an airplane!
    Petey Pate: I've seen detergents that left a better film than this!
    The Cow: If this were any more of a dog, it'd have fleas!
    • The episode "Scrappy's Playhouse" has Scrappy going to a theater showing old Terrytoons and doing commentary. He's eventually thrown out talking too much.
  • MSTF is an annual event at Botcon, a big Transformers convention, which involves giving the MST3K treatment to The Transformers: The Movie, and in later years various other episodes of Transformers.
  • Mystery Brony Theater 4000 is four bronies riffing on My Little Pony G1 and G3.
  • When the Powerpuff Girls were reluctantly forced by the Professor to watch an old silent film in an old revival theater, they began to spout wisecracks and make fun of of the movie. They even sit in the same position at the same silhouette angle of MST3K.
  • The episode "Remembrences" of The Legend of Korra has members of the cast riffing on particularly disliked moments in their own show in a Clip Show format. The third act in particular goes off the rails and becomes an Abridged Series that's one funny moment after another.
  • Beavis And Butthead had entire segments like this that riffed on music videos.
    Butthead: (at the start of Amy Grant's "Baby Baby" video) Is this a Clearasil commercial?!
  • On the DVD for the SpongeBob SquarePants special "SpongeBob vs. The Big One", there's a bonus feature called "Plankton's Special Sinister Commentary", where Plankton riffs on several clips of the special in this style.

Alternative Title(s): Mystery Fanfic Theater, MS Ting