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YMMV / Mystery Science Theater 3000

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  • Acceptable Targets:
    • The Green Bay Packers. The shows' creators were all fans of the Minnesota Vikings, sworn enemies of the Packers.
    • Wisconsin in general, despite (because of?) both Joel Hodgson and Michael J. Nelson having grown up there.
    • Any film or scene set in Chicago will inevitably have a reference to the Cubs' (now ended) 108-year losing streak.
    • Any of the series' repeat offenders, most notably Joe Don Baker, Ross Hagen, Sandy Frank, and Coleman Francis.
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    • Crew members with old-fashioned, pretentiously aristocratic-sounding names always get a share of this. "Oh, is the great Hollingsworth Morse going to direct?"
    • The Sci-Fi era took particular delight in bashing the home countries of non-American movies. Notable targets include Japan (for Invasion of the Neptune Men), Canada (The Final Sacrifice, Zombie Nightmare), Britain (Gorgo, The Deadly Bees), and Maltese men in the episode Final Justice, at least to Crow.note 
    • Overweight characters especially get jokes about how much food they must eat and/or being an unchecked Gasshole. And the guys aren't above going after women for their appearance: see Escape 2000.
    • Jackson Browne after Daryl Hannah accused him of abusing her. In later seasons, they constantly referenced Browne when a man was shown on screen attacking a woman.
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    • Jabs at the NRA and/or their celebrity spokesmen Charlton Heston and Ted Nugent were prevalent during the Mike years.
    • Long story short: There were definitely lines of good taste and class that they wouldn't cross, but generally speaking, if they could get a joke out of something they were most likely going to.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Joel was a lot more frustrated with being in outer space during the KTMA era and season 1. Did the situation grow on him, or was he slowly Conditioned to Accept Horror? The same could be assumed of Mike. During his first couple seasons as host, he was often seen trying to escape the satellite, but he gave up by around Season 7. In Season 9's Quest of the Delta Knights, Pearl gets infuriated when she sees Mike acting too accepting about being held captive in space.
    • The 2017 revival gives absolutely no indication of why the Bots are back on the satellite, causing some warring fan theories about why they came back (the most popular being that they got homesick for the only home they'd ever known, and just went along with it when they suddenly got another human to watch movies with), or even that they're simply duplicates while the originals are still right where we last saw them. note 
  • Author's Saving Throw: Season 12 attempted saving throws:
    • First, the next season was set at just six episodes, as Joel admitted he'd forgotten just how much work it took to make the kind of quality product the show was at its best, and the shorter episode count would allow each one to receive the attention it needed.
    • The season also features far less obsession with added riffing that many fans complained about in Season 11, with a return to the more natural pace of the original. And the three riffers are again all recorded together, allowing them to play off each other and even crack each other up more naturally. The lack of rapid-fire riffing helps with the issues of audiences having trouble telling who is doing the riffing as well.
    • The poorly received overarching plot of Kinga and Jonah's wedding and Max's unrequited love for Kinga is brushed under the rug and promptly forgotten.
    • While the response to the celebrity cameos was certainly mixed, but to the relief of many they've dialed down the more gratuitous cameos that many felt were less MST3k skits and more "let's stop the show to have a celebrity do a bit."
      • However, none of it was able to get a Season 13 from Netflix.
  • Awesome Music:
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • Valeria (from the movie Robot Holocaust) appearing on the Viewscreen in ep. 201 Rocketship X-M, for seemingly no reason. Joel and the robots seem just as puzzled by her appearance as the viewers. After Valeria leaves, the incident isn't brought up again.
    • In Rocket Attack USA, the crew's reaction to the sudden appearance of the blind man who rather flatly says "Help me" resulted in the scene becoming the show's first stinger.
      Tom Servo: Lucky one. He didn't have to see any of this!
    • Crow, in particular, has issues with the movie showing some rather casual reactions to the pending apocalypse.
      Crow: Cut to New York, where Art Metrano and Harry Connick eat pizza and buy ties for their stupid girlfriends, and Harry Truman gets off a plane by the sewage dump and then a blind guy goes by and says "Help me." WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT SUPPOSED TO BE?
    • In First Spaceship On Venus, Tom and Crow have an encounter with an angry gorilla. It isn't really in context with anything and not even Joel believes that it happened.
    • The infamous "Joey the Lemur" sketch, where Joel flings around a lemur puppet and tries to sing a song about it. He gives it a tough guy voice, a rude attitude, and flubs every single line. Also, there were no lemurs in the movie (Joel and the bots confused a kinkajou with a lemur.)
      • Subverted, when Joey makes a comeback in "Last of the Wild Horses", much to Tom Servo and Gypsy's horror.
    • Crow's dark counterpart Timmy in Fire Maidens from Outer Space, especially when he pops up in the theater.
    • A host segment from Teenagers from Outer Space: a rogue spaceship makes contact with the SOL. On the Hexfield, a silent human skeleton attempts to wave, collapses in a heap, then leaves. Even Joel and the Bots are baffled and write off the entire encounter as "lame".
    • During the ending host segment (the parade of "troubling things") in the Carnival Magic episode, Jonah is briefly replaced on the viewscreen with a different host, one in a purple jumpsuit. Kinga is the only one who seems to notice, commenting "Please ignore that, since you didn't see anything because it doesn't exist" before the screen switches back to Jonah. The credits list him as Matt Claude Van Damme, played by Matt McGinnis, one of the writers and producers.
  • Better on DVD: The Movie now has the deleted scenes, and deleted theater segments! Fans are already getting to work on a fan edit.
  • Broken Base: A massive uproar occurred when Mike replaced Joel as host mid-season-five, resulting in a Flame War so bad that it eventually degenerated into personal attacks and pulled entire web communities apart. For years afterward the subject was banned on multiple fan sites, though in the later days of the fights there were more than a few trolls fanning the flames (Joel Hodgson himself admitted years later that he'd been one of them, not really understanding how serious it was). These days, while fans disagree about who was better (and most admit that it really just comes down to personal preference), most find they generally liked both. Jonah Ray joked that an advantage of being the new host was that he could unite the Mike and Joel fans into hating a common enemy.
    • This has arguably continued into the principals' post-MST projects, with fans debating the merits of (Joel-led) Cinematic Titanic vs. (Mike-led) RiffTrax.
      • Mike Nelson, at one point, proposed to parody the Joel vs. Mike debate by setting up a mock rivalry between Rifftrax and Cinematic Titanic, but Joel Hodgson (who is, incidentally, still a close friend of Mike's to this day) turned down the offer.
      • Joel's return in the Soultaker episode pokes fun at the fan rivalry. Mike is somewhat jealous of Joel's new life as the manager of a hot fish shop, but the bots remind Mike not to compare himself. "It ain't healthy."
    • Also notable is that the change was largely just cosmetic: Mike had been a writer for the show since the first season, becoming head writer since season two.
    • Is is okay to skip host segments while watching full movies? This is still a point of contention among some fans.
    • Their riffs of movies from otherwise popular franchises tends to get rather heated. Their riffs of Godzilla movies, in particular, can get rather heated from vehement defenders of the movies they riff to those who, even though they're fans of the franchise, feel those movies in particular still deserved to be riffed.
    • The casting for the 2017 revival, with many fans taking issue with the show now having a bunch of big names rather than the nobodies that gave the original a good deal of its charm. Others counter that they'd be under an insane amount of scrutiny from long time fans, so it was best to not subject any new unknown actors to that and get people who could easily weather it.
    • Other fans wonder why they'd even need a revival when Nelson, Murphy and Corbett are still in top form on RiffTrax, albeit sans silhouettes, and thanks to the audio commentary format, have riffed blockbuster films and franchises (most notably Star Wars and Twilight.)
    • The silence-filling style of riffing has also gotten mixed reactions from fans. Some hate it, because it gives the impression they're afraid of losing the interest of younger fans if there's any silent moments, while others are okay with the more rapid-fire pace of riffing because it means more jokes to catch on later viewings. Although it's worth noting they slow down the pace considerably in the back half of the season, leading yet another faction to point out it was at least partially because the new cast took a few episodes to really grow the beard (the season 11 riffing segments were recorded in order).
    • The multitude of visual jokes in the revival, especially involving Tom flying around the screen. Some fans say it adds a great new touch, while others are irritated at what they see as an unnecessary crutch to the almost entirely verbal humor of the original show. This also ties in to the above-mentioned obvious advance knowledge of what's about to happen onscreen.
      • Some people are fine with the visual humor, but think that they go on a bit too long. One example of this is in the episode Yongary. A spaceship takes off and Crow dares Tom to race it, but even after the joke is over, there's another five or so seconds of Tom being "stuck in the house" because he couldn't get back down to his seat before the movie cut to an indoor scene.
  • Critical Research Failure: Many of the movies the crew riffs on are guilty of this, but it's also invoked intentionally for comedic effect during some of the host segments.
    • In Tom Servo's planetarium show in the prologue for the Skydivers episode, he refers to the speed of light as "well over five hundred miles an hour" (which is technically true but also incredibly imprecise: the speed of light is 670.6 million miles per hour) and calls Mars "the brightest star in our galaxy". Needless to say, Crow and Mike can't resist derailing the show.
    • During Crow's Public Service Announcement on how to treat women, he treats women as if they're a cryptozoological phenomenon, like Bigfoot.
      • ...complete with a grainy, black-and-white photo of a fur coat wearing lady that looks like a frame from the Patterson-Gimlin bigfoot film.
      • When Mike points out that Crow knows Pearl, he quickly amends his conspiracy to state, yeah, sure, one woman exists, but do they all exist? note 
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Fans call it "Crow syndrome," since he does it the most often, but everyone on the SOL does this from time to time.
  • Cult Classic
  • Dork Age: Not during the show, but during the period that MST3K was canceled, in 2007 the official web page released a series of animated Flash shorts starring the bots with Paul Chaplin as Crow, James Moore as Tom, and Jim Mallon himself as Gypsy. These videos weren't memorable at all and actually lacked the comedy the original series. The web series only lasted four episodes.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: He only appeared for four episodes, but Peanut was instantly adopted by the fans - and by Mike's relatives, it seems.
    • Torgo, especially Mike's humorous portrayal of the character. Ortega took over Torgo's duties during the Sci Fi years, being played by Mike again, and this time being The Unintelligible.
    • Jerry and Sylvia, the Mole People who worked as lackeys in Deep 13. (Oddly, because The Mole People wouldn't be riffed til the Sci-Fi years.)
    • M. Waverly from the Season 11 episode "Hercules and the Captive Women". He appears for less than two minutes in one host segment at complete random, and immediately gets killed by Crow and Servo. Despite his brief appearance, fans immediately began wanting him to come back in a future episode.
    • PT Mindslap, with Mark Hamill cited by many fans as easily the best of the 2017 series' celebrity guests.
  • Epileptic Trees: About the end of Season 11: Kinga knew full well what Max was up to, and had arranged her own deal with Reptilicus Metalicus to send Jonah back to the SOL after the episode ended. After all, a cheap cliffhanger implying a major character's death is even more of a cynical publicity stunt than a wedding.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Kinga Forrester, the Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter. Felica Day makes singing about torturing someone with cheesy movies while monitoring their mind oddly arousing.
  • Fandom Rivalry: Joel fans vs Mike fans, which was pretty much the debate topic back when the Internet was young (well, besides "Kirk vs Picard", of course).
  • Fanfic Fuel: Even after learning Kinga's mother is Kim Catrall, we still get nothing on how they hooked up and what their relationship was like beyond falling apart due to Forrester's failure to convert her to mad science. And of course the possibility of Kinga trying to re-establish ties now that she knows. note 
  • Fanon: Many online sources contend that Joel Hodgson pulled an all-nighter finishing the robots before the first episode, and that this is the source of his on-screen character's sleepy-eyed, laid-back persona. All-nighter notwithstanding, Joel's relaxed attitude was a holdover from his stand-up/prop comedy act prior to MST3K. Evidence abounds on YouTube.
  • Foe Yay: Mike and Pearl could get very friendly when she wasn't trying to kill him...
    Mike (over coffee): So, Pearl... how come you're so evil?
    Pearl (considering the question thoughtfully): Hm... I'm filled with hate... I'm not sure if that helps.
    • Pearl and Crow are close friends, though Pearl refers to him as "Art". (See I Am Not Shazam)
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • During the host segment for Girl in Gold Boots where Crow strips, one of Tom's reactions to Mike's horror is to call him "Mike 'Taliban' Nelson."
      • The Taliban, prior to 2001, were an obscure group on the State Department's "hostile but ineffective" crazies list - getting the gag was a Genius Bonus at that time. The Taliban were simply thought of as a Real Life version of the town leaders from Footloose. ("I can't believe it, but I'm starting to agree with the Taliban Militia. Dancing should not be allowed.")
    • There are numerous school shooting jokes in "The Home Economics Story".
    • This line from the otherwise hilarious classic, Hike Up Your Pants song, "...Yank your trousers higher than Corey Haim, oh wow..."
    • The quip in Prince of Space "Woody Allen asked me out", then a reference to Woody Allen's marriage to his stepdaughter Soon-Yi took a much darker tone after his stepdaughter Dylan accused him of having molested her.
      • Same goes for the joke "The Woody Allen Story!" when the title screen of "A Date With Your Family" comes up.
    • The release of Logan a couple months before the revival series rather kills a joke in Avalanche, that one of the characters is harder to kill than Wolverine. Doesn't help that the mainstream Wolverine had been dead years before the events of Logan.
    • In At the Earth’s Core one of the jokes is that the bots were hoping for the new host to be a T.J. Miller type instead of Jonah, as that’s what they imagine someone who was equal parts Joel and Mike would be like. Then in late 2017 TJ Miller’s history of sexual harassment and misconduct surfaced...
  • Funny Moments: So many that the show has its own page.
  • Genius Bonus: How many other comedy shows make casual references to Bedřich Smetana or Margaret Chase Smith?
    • Obscure art references abound: Susan Rothenberg, an abstract artist, gets two shoutouts (her last name is mistaken both times, however, leading to some headscratching - "Susan Rothco" in Catalina Caper and "Susan Rothstein" in the short "The Chicken Of Tomorrow").
    • Torgo the White was this at the time - in 1995 when Frank Conniff left the show, the announcement of the Peter Jackson adaptation of the classic Doorstopper novel was still four years away.
    • Bre-ke-ke-kex, co-ax, co-ax.
    • During Devil Fish: Mike makes several Double Entrendres involving outboard motors, making reference to the Evinrude brand (observing Peter "grabbing at his own Evinrude", etc.). Not only is Evinrude a vaguely naughty-sounding word already, it's a substitution for another famous outboard motor manufacturer/dirty word: Johnson.
    • In the Agent for H.A.R.M. episode, Mike is put on trial for blowing up multiple planets, and during the trial Professor Bobo manages to destroy Observer's testimony thanks to his encyclopedic knowledge of pies... or so it would seem to most people. The real joke is only noticable to people who know a thing or two about baking: Observer's entire testimony is a litany of pie-making Dont's and the mistake Bobo called him on was the most minor of them.
    • Frank's son being named Max is a reference to the fairly obscure comedy The Great Race, in which the villain's henchman has that name and is frequently told "Push the button, Max!", which is where that order to Frank came from in the first place.
  • Growing the Beard: The cast and crew themselves have acknowledged the uneven quality of early episodes. This was largely because the on-screen talent were watching the movie for the first time, and many of their riffs were being made up as they watched. By season three, they had a more organized approach where the writers watch the movie in its entirety before approving it for MSTing, then watched it a second time to write the jokesnote , and a third time to film the episode. Season three's Pod People is frequently cited as the first truly great episode.
    • Also a literal version, as Joel grows some chin whiskers late in season two. At the same time, the quality of the episodes was increasing rapidly. It's an aversion because the whiskers disappeared by season three, yet the quality kept improving.
    • Joel himself admitted that it took a few episodes before everyone in the 2017 series felt they'd found their groove, and indeed some fans found that the first few episodes are a bit lacking (though mostly from trying too hard as they seem afraid to let more than a couple seconds pass between each joke). They noticeably slow down the pace of riffs as the season goes on.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • As if the Reality Subtext with Crow's script ordeals in The Incredible Melting Man episode wasn't enough, it gains yet another dimension if you think of what Bill Corbett (who later voiced Crow) went through with his pet project Starship Dave
    • One sketch involved the bots listing celebrity couples that were still together, and well over half of those listed had broken up by now.
    • In-Universe, the bots provide numerous examples of how out of date Mike's encyclopedias are, one of which is as follows: "It lists Hitler as a fairly stable veteran of the great war".
    • Meta: In the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, Mary wrote the preface to season 7 (which had yet to air when the book was published) and said they'd only be doing six episodes this time around. As it turns out, this is because they were being cancelled. Zig-zagged, since they were picked up by the Sci-Fi Channel after that.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: So many that it has its own page.
  • Ho Yay: Tom's got a roll of singles as thick as a pork roast for stripper Crow in the host part of the Girl In Gold Boots episode.
    • The bots loved to pick on Mike, especially in the Sci-Fi Channel episodes, even going as far as to having mixed Tsundere traits towards him.
    • Occasionally we get a bit of this with Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank. (There's at least one sketch — the infamous "let's call the Mads" host segment — which blatantly implies that neither of them are straight.)
      Dr. Forrester: Oh my God — Frank, switch on the game! Switch on the game!!
      • In the episode where Dr. F and Auntie McFrank open a Bed and Breakfast, we get this exchange:
        Kevin (Kevin Murphy): So, Clay? You and Auntie McFrank? Are you...?
        Dr. Forrester:...Partners?...Yes, we're...oh, look! Here comes breakfast!
    • Dr. Forrester is also a little too affectionate towards Joel, giving him Affectionate Nicknames and whatnot.
    • During one of the dance scenes in "Catalina Caper", Tom riffs "Girls just can't resist the frockling vibes of a hot guy... and neither can I!"
    • And of course, Servo and Crow get married in Racket Girls.
    • Season 12 has a whole story arc about Forrester and Frank making a joint will to be Together in Death, having their ashes mixed together before being scattered.
  • Informed Real Life Fame: Frank being referred to as "TV's Frank" as if to suggest he's a well-known television star even though he's not famous for anything. The creators just thought the convention of adding "TV's" or "Hollywood's" to an actor's name is funny.
    • The joke is taken Up to Eleven in the revival with Max's preferred name of "TV's Son of TV's Frank"
    Max: Dear TV's Diary of TV's Son of TV's Frank...
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Dr. Forrester has his moments at times, especially around his mother.
    • Tom Servo can act a bit obnoxious and egotistical, but that's because he's incredibly insecure about his height and intelligence and has more than enough Break the Haughty moments to make you feel a bit bad for him.
    • Kinga Forrester has her moments just like her father. As well, they also have them around Pearl.
  • Memetic Badass: The Movie has The Amazing Rando.
    Tom: Watch as Rando The Great constructs sets with only the power of his mind!
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: Most fans will rank Manos: The Hands of Fate as one of the all time funniest episodes of the series. However, series creator Joel Hodgson admitted in an interview that he honestly didn't think that episode was their best work. He recalled that in the writing room they were all too caught off-guard by the oddness of the film, distracting them from writing really good riffs. He has said a few times that I Accuse My Parents is his personal favorite MST3K episode, which most fans probably don't even have in their Top 10 (though the fans who have seen it consider it very good).
    • None of the MST3K cast seem to like the Manos episode much if their comments in this reunion video is any indication. This caused a bit of an awkward moment when upcoming new host Jonah Ray piped up with, "Well, as a fan, I loved it!" Also, interesting that Mike Nelson seems to have his own Magnum Opus Dissonance. His favorite episode is Season 10's Girl in Gold Boots, which isn't really a fan favorite either. Even the episode review section of the "Satellite News" website, describes the episode as "good, not great."
    • The entire crew of the revival series was caught quite off guard when Cry Wilderness became the most popular episode of the inaugural season among fans, having figured it would be Carnival Magic. Joel noted during the 2018 Turkey Day Marathon that they've always been wrong in predicting the fan favorite episodes.
  • Misblamed: A lot of fans went after Netflix when the news came that Season 12 would only have six episodes, thinking it was due to their budget being cut. In fact, as explained above in Author's Saving Throw, it was entirely the crew's own decision, to allow them to spend more time on the episodes and give faster releases of any future seasons.
  • Mondegreen:
    • The theme song for the Mike episodes in seasons 5-7 feature Cambot saying "Show yourself!" But the muffled way Cambot speaks makes it sound like he's actually saying "Kill yourself!" Similarly, when Crow appears, he says "That's one O." But it almost sounds like he's saying "That's (or Bat) guano!" instead.
    • In the original theme song for Joel, "shot him into space" can sound like "shot him in his face". This becomes something of an Ascended Meme in the Season 11 episode "The Beast of Hollow Mountain" when it's used as a riff.
  • Periphery Demographic: The series itself was actually surprisingly popular with younger children particularly during the Joel Era. (See What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids? below.) Even though a lot of the jokes would either go over their heads or probably be a bit too vulgar for their parents liking. But still a lot of the fan mail that was revealed at the end of an episode was sent in by kids still in Elementary School even though the series is more meant for Teens and Adults. This was more apparent during the early-to-mid '90s, back when the series was on Comedy Central. When the series moved to the Sci Fi Channel in the late '90s, this was less apparent. Joel did call the show a "cow-town puppet show."
    • Joel Hodgson was very well aware that young children were watching the show and insisted that the writers cut back on the raunchy jokes. Joel is also a Christian, so this doubled as a personal matter as well.
  • Poor Man's Substitute: Paul Chaplin and James Moore as Crow and Servo, respectively, in the 2007 webtoon.
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • Pearl Forrester managed to be this twice during the show's run; in season 7 when she replaced TV's Frank (it didn't help that her relationship with Dr. Forrester was almost the opposite of what Frank's had been), and then in Season 8 when she took over Dr. Forrester's role as the main bad guy. A lot of fans did warm up to her during the last three seasons, though, as she came into her own.
    • A large portion of the fanbase considered Mike this when he first took over for Joel as the main host. This would eventually lead to the infamous Joel VS Mike flamewar, where the fans fought over which was the better host, and it got so nasty that for years afterwards, the subject of who you preferred was taboo within the fanbase.
    • Largely averted with Bill Corbett's portrayal of Crow, who most fans grew to accept over time and in some cases even preferred to Trace Beaulieu's. It didn't hurt that by the time Corbett came on board, the fanbase was used to dealing with changes in the series, so his replacing Beaulieu wasn't as big of a deal. If anything, Corbett tried too hard to mimic Trace's Crow, before Best Brains told him to relax and just do Crow with his own voice.
    • Averted, or even inverted, with TV's Frank versus Dr. Erhardt, and Kevin Murphy's Servo versus Josh Weinstein's.
    • Also averted with Jonah, largely due to many fans being quite embarrassed by the Joel vs. Mike feud in retrospect and much more willing to give the new host a chance.
  • Rewatch Bonus: In the 2017 revival Kinga's inventions are all inspired by a joke in the previous episode.
  • Robo Ship: With so many robots on the show, fan pairings will be this more often than not. In fact many of the jokes on this show are just plain robo shipping fuel.
  • Scapegoat Creator: Poor Jim Mallon. Every cast member the show lost was immediately blamed on him not getting along with them, including Joel, who created the whole show and couldn't possibly be made to leave if he hadn't wanted to.
    • In an interview, Hodgson stated that he ultimately decided to leave the show for the good of the show, as he knew tensions between Mallon and himself would only escalate further, causing the show to cease production prematurely. There were too many people Hodgson respected working on the show who would be devastated, financially as well as emotionally, if that happened, so Hodgson wanted the show to go on for their sakes. Which is why, in the end, Hodgson was happy that the show lasted for as long as it did without his involvement. Hodgson also said the interview that had Mike been with the show earlier, he would have given the role to Mike. Instead, Mike was installed as lead writer in Season 2.
  • The Scrappy: Professor Bobo tends to be this for many viewers. Many people cite his obnoxious voice and antics, as well as his incompetence, as a main source of criticism. Most likely invoked however, seeing as the rest of the cast tend to find him rather annoying at times.
    • Pearl Forrester tends to be this too, mostly from those who enjoyed Clayton Forrester more.
    • Though the opinion is a relative minority, there are plenty of people willing to admit not liking Gypsy due to her grating voice. It's telling that the 2017 revival gave her a less grating (and more genuinely feminine-sounding) voice. (Explained in-universe by having Jonah give her a different voice because he couldn't stand her old voice, either.)
    • M Waverly is this In-Universe, with Crow, Servo, and Gypsy acting annoyed at his introduction (decrying there's already too much new stuff around the satellite as it is), and then he is immediately violently dismembered by Crow and Servo. Out of Universe he's a bit of an Ensemble Dark Horse, and his In-Universe scrappy status is part of the charm.
  • So Bad, It's Good: One might think this is the show and it does play that way as many of the films are so utterly bad, they're enjoyable in a cheesy way. However, the producers have said in interviews that they actually work to avoid that sort of thing as it's much more fun to riff on truly bad movies than the ones that seemed to be "in on the joke." As Frank Coniff put it in an interview "we don't want so bad it's good, we're looking for just plain bad."
  • Special Effects Failure: Both purposely invoked and played straight. Invoked due to the hodgepodge nature of the show's props and puppets (they were made from household appliances, knick-knacks and broken toys, after all). But played straight largely in the season one opening (Crow's head reveals the chroma-key effect used for the doors and his puppeteer can be seen before the "Robot Roll Call" begins).
    • Several theater shots reveal that Joel wears glasses (they can be seen any time he turns his head to the side) and Mike clearly isn't wearing a jumpsuit (his untucked shirttails are visible when he stands up). Not to mention both of them can be seen wearing head mounted microphones.
    • In the 2017 revival, the more effects-heavy puppets required the riffs to be filmed without the movie playing, going off time stamps. This naturally means the occasional line is a bit out of sync with the movie.
    • Hampton Yount has serious trouble syncing Crow's mouth movements to his lines. In the theater he often just leaves the mouth open the whole time, although that could be signal issues​ with the new radio controlled mouth mechanism.
    • Jonah Ray's gargantuan 6'5" frame almost gives away that they aren't sitting in real theater seats as he towers over the fake backrest. If they were he would most likely be very uncomfortable.
    • In Killer Fish, they apparently just plain overlooked dubbing in one of Gypsy's riffs, though oddly enough Tom's shocked gasp in response to it was left in. Luckily, it was fixed after enough people pointed it out.
  • Tainted by the Preview: The trailer for the 2017 revival was called out by many fans for appearing to be put together by someone with absolutely no idea what the appeal of the show was, as it focuses on the host segments far more than the movie riffing, with only some brief clips of the theater that don't include a single line. Luckily, the largest Kickstarter backers who got an early look at the first episode were quick to assure everyone the riffs are still just as good.
    • Netflix also released a 'trailer' which is just Jonah and the bots riffing on the first few minutes of Stranger Things, another popular Netflix property. This gave a far better indication of the higher tempo riffing and updated references that would be used in the new season.
    • Happily avoided with the Season 12 trailer, in part because it focused on all six films it would feature — including their first crack at The Asylum with Atlantic Rim and the all-time classic bad kiddie movie Mac and Me.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Synthia, the clone of Pearl in the 2017 series. After an intriguing introduction that hints her Clone Degeneration is an act, she hardly ever appears outside of silently loading in the latest experiment. Part of this may be that her character wasn't originally planned for the series and was only added after someone realized Rebecca Hanson, who originally had only been cast as Gypsy, also happens to look like a younger Mary Jo Pehl.
    • Nicely averted in Season 12, where the show gets much more use out of Hanson's talents as both Gypsy and Synthia. Synthia particularly shines in Killer Fish, where she handles both the legwork and the mad science required to turn a liquid Kingachrome recording of "Idiot Control Now" into a portable drink.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Joel returns for Soultaker, and he doesn't do any riffing with Mike and the Bots? (Joel explained that he wasn't able to help in the writing in this episode and didn't want to do anything he didn't contribute to.)
    • He was too busy fixing everything that was broken on the satellite.
    • Forrester and Frank put in their wills to have their ashes scattered to the tune of..."Idiot Control Now?" Many fans pointed out "Living in Deep 13" would have been a much better choice. And then we don't even see it anyway. note 
  • Uncanny Valley: During the opening host segment of The Violent Years, Servo replaces his dome with a ventriloquist dummy's head, which frightens and disgusts the others. Crow suffers unbearable Brain Bleach.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • The references to PETA, which were common in the Joel era, can come across as this. At the time PETA was a respected animal rights group that no one really had much problem with. These days... let's just say they're a bit more controversial.
    • While one segment claims Gypsy's named for the large amounts of the mineral Gypsum used in her construction, the name "Gypsy" is now considered an offensive slur for the Romani Note , making it pretty awkward to see it as a main character name. Addressed by Joel in the Live Social-Distancing Special from 2020, when Gypsy was renamed "GPC".
    • The older series didn't shy away from offhanded jokes at the expense of gay and transgender people, most notably in its highly popular Mr. B Natural segments, which can certainly be a bit uncomfortable for some viewers nowadays.
      • However, even some people who are non-binary find Mr. B Natural unsettling in an inexplicable way and can get laughs out of the short.
      • In addition, most of the jokes came from Joel and the 'bots being genuinely aroused by Mr. B. ("Oh, Mr. B....")
  • Vindicated by Cable: This happened to many riffed films. This show is the only reason many of them have pages on this wiki in the first place.
    • This actually backfired a bit. Some rights-owners saw the chance to actually make some money from a film which was only featured because it was a flop and tried to charge MST3K through the nose for the rights.
  • Vindicated by History: Josh "J. Elvis" Weinstein's tenure on the show falls under this. Since the first season episodes were rarely shown on Comedy Central, and the KTMA shows weren't widely available, Weinstein's tenure was frequently dismissed by many. (For example, one notorious CC promo referred to Weinstein's character of Dr. Laurence Ehrhardt as "a fake Frank".) However, recent DVD releases of first season shows, KTMA shows being available via the Internet, and his later work with Cinematic Titanic, has given fans the opportunity to favorably reappraise Weinstein's work, particularly his talent for ad-libbing riffs.
    • Weinstein would reference this during CT appearances by introducing himself as "the Tom Servo you don't like as much".note 
    • Not so much the show - it's good and successful, so there's no vindication to be made - but KTMA, the Minneapolis TV station were Season 0 was shot. Unlike both Comedy Central and the SciFiChannel, who tend to steer away from the show as much as possible and prefer to pretend they were never involved with it, KTMA - nowadays WUCW, a CW affiliate - just LOVES the show and cast to bits. While there is some obvious self-promotion going on by reminding people that MST3K began on their station every time they get, they've also uploaded old clips of different comedy bits the performers used to do there and invited several of them back to revive old shows and events from the KTMA era. One example is Bill Corbett reviving an old character, Bob Bagadonuts, in the very same new year's eve celebration special (The Melon Drop) that Kevin had created after it hadn't been done for more than 20 years.note . You can watch an interview here. They've also uploaded all previous Melon Drop specials to their Youtube page.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The door sequence in the 2017 series, done in absolutely gorgeous stop motion.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Kids do like the puppets. Yessir. And the humor in the puppet segments is fun; however, the actual movies they cover may still be scary to small kids, even with the riffing—which we should add often goes over the heads of a lot of grown-ups, let alone children. The crew have said they tried to make a lot of jokes that kids and adults would be laughing at for completely different reasons.
  • Win the Crowd: For The Return many site either Jonah's Kaiju Rap (Every Country Has a Monster) with its catchy lyrics and endearingly homemade quality or the second episode Cry Wilderness featuring a film with a truly baffling plot, a slightly slower pace of riffs with some great running jokes, and a truly manic host segment with the bots as raccoons.
  • The Woobie: Cambot at the end of Danger!! Death Ray. The movie had a large number of security cameras shot out by the protagonist, which ends up causing an emotional breakdown in Cambot.


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