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Weekend Discussion Thread: The 25-Episodes that Define MST3K

Paste Magazine had a piece this week called “The 25-Episode History of Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

I know a good topic to steal when I see one. (And author Chris Morgan noted wryly on Twitter that it’s an idea that’s been had before.)

So, do you agree with their list? If not, what’s your list of 25 episodes that define MST3K?

36 Replies to “Weekend Discussion Thread: The 25-Episodes that Define MST3K”

  1. Mom...m'I nuts? says:

    Robot Monster, Women of the Prehistoric Planet, Catalina Caper, Godzilla vs Megalon, Cave Dwellers, Pod People, Gamera vs Guiron, Earth vs The Spider, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Tormented, The Beatniks, Bride of the Monster, Manos, Mitchell, Brain that Wouldn’t Die, Creeping Terror, Beast of Yucca Flats, Laserblast, Jack Frost, Time Chasers, Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, Pumaman, Werewolf, and The Screaming Skull is my top 25 episodes that define MST3K. All the riffing in these episodes are top notch and downright hilarious.
    Honorable mentions: Incredible Melting Man, Escape 2000, Incredibly Strange Creatures etc., Agent for H.A.R.M, and Boggy Creek 2


  2. TwirlingTibby says:

    In no particular order!

    1) Hercules vs. the Moonmen
    2) Hercules Unchained
    3) The Cave Dwellers
    4) War of the Colossal Beast (with Mr. B. Natural)
    5) Gamera
    6) Gamera vs. Baragon
    7) Gamera vs. Gaos
    8) Gamera vs. Guiron
    9) Gamera vs. Zigra
    10) It Conquered the World (with Snow Thrills)
    11) Fugitive Alien (He tried to kill me with a forklift!)
    12) The Unearthly
    13) The Day the Earth Froze
    14) The Human Duplicators
    15) Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
    16) Werewolf
    17) Riding with Death
    18) Jack Frost
    19) Horror of Party Beach
    20) Space Mutiny
    21) Beginning of the End
    22) The Deadly Mantis
    23) Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster
    24) Godzilla vs. Megalon
    25) Night of the Blood Beast


  3. Saherrin says:

    Some of this was covered in the article but here it goes…not necessarily my list of faves but rather for historical context (I threw in a couple of my faves, just ’cause)

    Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy, Women of the Prehistoric Planet, Rocketship X-M, Sidehackers, Catalina Caper, Gamera, Cave Dwellers, War of the Colossal Beast (more so for the short Mr.B Natural), Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Space Travellers, Hercules Unchained, Manos, I Accuse My Parents, Mitchell, Brain That Wouldn’t Die, Village of the Giants, Violent Years, Starfighters, Sampson vs the Vampire Women, Laserblast, MST3K movie/This Island Earth, revenge of the Creature, Space Mutiny, Werewolf, Soultaker, Diabolik…


  4. Norman says:

    1. K07 Gamera vs Zigra

    2. 101 The Crawling Eye

    3. 107 Robot Monster

    4. 201 Rocketship X-M

    5. 212 Godzilla vs Megalon

    6. 307 Daddy-O

    7. 311 It Conquered the World

    8. 312 Gamera vs Guiron

    9. 404 Teenagers from Outer Space

    10. 421 Monster A-Go-G0

    11. 423 Bride of the Monster

    12. 424 Manos the Hands of Fate

    13. 506 Eegah

    14. 512 Mitchell

    15. 513 The Brain that Wouldn’t Die

    16. 521 Santa Claus

    17. 606 The Creeping Terror

    18. 621 The Beast of Yucca Flats

    19. 624 Samson vs the Vampire Women

    20. 701 Night of the Blood Beast

    21. 706 Laserblast

    22. 801 Revenge of the Creature

    23. 810 Giant Spider Invasion

    24. 815 Agent for H.A.R.M.

    25. 816 Prince of Space

    26. 817 Horror of Party Beach

    27. 1001 Soultaker

    28. 1011 Horrors of Spider Island

    29. 1013 Diabolik

    If I can only have 25 I would take out: 201 Rocketship X-M
    311 It Conquered the World 701 Night of the Blood Beast
    and 1011 Horrors of Spider Island


  5. Jay says:

    Every time I rewatch an episode I haven’t seen in a while I find new gems of humor and social reference, so my top twenty-five constantly changes. There are my perennial favorite four or five, but variety is the spice of MSTie life. From “The Green Slime” to “Diabolik” they all make my list. Weenie Man answer? You decide, Cal.


  6. TarlCabot says:

    Go to

    Notice anything different?


  7. Fart Bargo says:

    25!? I’ll do one per season.

    Hitting on all cylinders with a real turkey of a movie. All MST characters are established and roles defined. A portal to things to come.

    Bad movie made funny by J&tB. It also shows the humanity of the guys with kind words about the large comic relief couple. Both Frank and Kevin have comfortably fit into their roles at this point.

    Great riffing and love the respect shown towards J. Elvis via riffs. The movie itself is the perfect template on what movie should be selected.

    A seminal episode. To me, this is my Joel swan song episode. Everyone seemed to enjoy doing this episode.

    Norman Rockwell’s “Breaking Home Ties” illustrates my emotional state after this episode. I am the father because of Joel’s departure. I am the son looking forward to Mike and what he might bring.

    Represents what I consider Mikes excellent run with established regulars.

    Trace’s last show. Outside of Joel, his humor and creativity simply can not be duplicated. Great host segments and appropriate send off for Trace. Welcome Pearl.

    Goofy movie with top notch riffing. Bill comfort and comedy starts to gel for both his characters and shows that he belongs.


    This episode always struck me as MST3K’s slap to the network with its Jackie Coogan fashion show skit. I don’t know if this is true but Bill/Crow’s intensity about how painful it was to view Coogan and now he is going to give it back in spades makes me guess that this was a cathartic based skit.

    Of course the last show. I enjoyed how they closed out the series coming full circle with the Crawling Eye.


  8. Green Switch says:

    Since you’re looking for episodes that define MST3K, I’ve included episodes of historical importance as well as episodes that feature great riffing.

    Here goes:

    1. K00 – The Green Slime, for getting the ball rolling and essentially establishing what the show would be about

    2. K07 – Gamera Vs. Zigra, for introducing the concept of the back-and-forth between the SOL and the Mads

    3. 101 – The Crawling Eye, for setting the groundwork and flavor for the show’s national run

    4. 102 – The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy, for introducing the show’s practice of riffing shorts (Radar Men from the Moon)

    5. 112 – Untamed Youth, for introducing the national run’s concept of riffing features that didn’t have to do with mad scientists or monsters (in this case, a musical)

    6. 201 – Rocketship X-M, for bringing TV’s Frank and Kevin Murphy’s Tom Servo into the fray

    7. 202 – The Sidehackers, for establishing the show’s behind-the-scenes practice of screening prospective episodes from start to finish

    8. 205 – Rocket Attack USA, for featuring the first stinger (“Help me!”)

    9. 212 – Godzilla Vs. Megalon, for featuring true strength in terms of writing/riffing and using the first Japanese monster movie during the show’s national run

    10. 301 – Cave Dwellers, for raising the bar and setting new standards in terms of the hilarity that the show could achieve

    11. 303 – Pod People, for taking the excellence that we saw in Cave Dwellers and kicking it up a few notches. I would say that the combo of Cave Dwellers and Pod People was very important to the show’s history.

    12. 307 – Daddy-O, for not only being a strong episode in its own right, but also for playing around with the show’s format with the prolonged end credits gag

    13. 321 – Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, for being a rock solid episode and featuring top-level host segments (the holiday angle doesn’t hurt things, either)

    14. 408 – Hercules Unchained, for ushering in the tradition of riffing on sword-and-sandals films (plus being very funny in its own right)

    15. 422 – The Day the Earth Froze, for not only being the first of the four Russo-Finish entries, but standing out as one of the show’s most head-over-heels hilarious moments

    16. 424 – Manos: The Hands of Fate, for perhaps representing THE defining moment of the series, for showing just how well the riffers can spin gold out of an absolute oddity of a film

    17. 512/513 – Mitchell and The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (yeah, I’m going to cheat and use two films in one entry), for landmark-level riffing as well as featuring the passing of the torch from Joel to Mike

    18. 607 – Bloodlust, for introducing Pearl Forrester, who would play a more significant role down the road

    19. 624 – Samson Vs. the Vampire Women, for top-notch riffing and the end of an era with Frank’s departure

    20. 706 – Laserblast, for another era-ending episode (for both Trace and the Comedy Central years) that packed in wall-to-wall laughs

    21. 801 – Revenge of the Creature, for kicking off a stellar eighth season and seeing the start of a new era (the hop to Sci-Fi Channel, Bill Corbett takes over as Crow, Professor Bobo’s introduction, Mrs. F becomes the new head Mad)

    22. 805 – The Thing That Couldn’t Die, for introducing Brain Guy, starting the trend of the SOL visiting other planets, and featuring an episode that – for me, anyway – kicked off an unprecedented streak of episode quality that would continue through to the end of the eighth season

    23. 903 – The Puma Man, for taking the ninth season to new heights with excellent writing/riffing that would set the stage for other season nine giants like Werewolf, Hobgoblins and Gorgo

    24. 1001 – Soultaker, for not only starting a trend of strong theater segments for the final season, but also for bringing back Frank as a soultaker and having Mike meet Joel

    25. 1013 – Diabolik, for bringing the series to a satisfying and hilarious full-circle conclusion with theater segments that don’t let up


  9. Green Switch says:

    Now, if we take out the element of historical importance and try to pick defining episodes in terms of episode strength, my picks would look a little different:

    1. Women of the Prehistoric Planet
    2. Wild Rebels
    3. Godzilla Vs. Megalon
    4. Cave Dwellers
    5. Pod People
    6. Daddy-O
    7. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
    8. The Giant Gila Monster
    9. The Day the Earth Froze
    10. Manos: The Hands of Fate
    11. Eegah
    12. The Magic Voyage of Sinbad
    13. Mitchell
    14. Alien From L.A.
    15. Santa Claus
    16. The Creeping Terror
    17. The Sword and the Dragon
    18. Red Zone Cuba
    19. The Incredible Melting Man
    20. The Giant Spider Invasion
    21. Jack Frost
    22. The Puma Man
    23. Werewolf
    24. Squirm
    25. Diabolik


  10. ck says:

    I’d need a definition of ” … a list that charts the important moments in MST3k history”
    to respond. What is meant by “important moments”? Introducing new characters (Pearl Forrester, Brain Guy, etc .)?
    Episodes fans respond to most? Movies showing (umm) creativity (Manos). Well constructed movies, especially plot?
    (Say, Time Chasers).


  11. Kenotic says:

    The only changes from the original:

    Substitute Giant Gila Monster for Teenagers from Outer Space. GGM was gloriously bad and of a similar feel, but has the infamy to be in the public domain so that Comedy Central could place it anywhere — again and again. It was also a good example for putting crappy “rock” music into a movie and expecting to placate the young set with the water-downed Pat Boone clones. MST3k thrived on riffing bad music all the way from Catalina Caper to Rifftrax’s take on “High School Musical.”

    Substitute War of the Colossal Beast for Amazing Colossal Man. ACM is a better movie, but the former has Mr. B Natural – the shining example of a short subject that is so bizarre and expertly mocked that it overshadows the main feature. 20 years later we’re still laughing with the frustratingly feminine Mr. B, and every band kid familiar with the show can quote it at length.

    Substitute Red Zone Cuba for Night of the Blood Beast. MST had some charming features of cheese (Magic Sword, Jack Frost) that were oddly enjoyable. On the opposite end there’s this joyless, pointless slog. Those bizarre Coleman Francis movies were truly the worst things MST3k did (collectively at least), and they appeared to be effortlessly riffed every time.


  12. trickymutha says:

    Wild Rebels
    King Dinosaur
    Pod People
    It Conquered the World
    Bride of the Monster
    I Accuse My Parents
    Red Zone Cuba
    Angel’s Revenge
    Night of the Blood Beast
    The Leech Woman
    The Thing that Wouldn’t Die
    Jack Frost
    Space Mutiny
    Time Chasers
    Puma Man
    Quest of the Delta Knights
    Future War


  13. Son of Peanut says:

    Great idea for a posting, though I can’t help but notice that very few people are bothering to “like” each other’s posts. We are probably just too busy thinking up our own lists. And so, in no particular order…

    1. Laserblast
    2. Prince of Space
    3. Pod People
    4. I Accuse My Parents
    5. Werewolf
    6. Overdrawn At The Memory Bank
    7. Mitchel
    8. The Brain That Wouldn’t Die
    9. Red Zone Cuba
    10. The Rebel Set
    11. Puma Man
    12. Samson Vs. The Vampire Women
    13. The Wild, Wild World of Batwoman
    14. Gunslinger
    15. Godzilla Vs. Megalon
    16. The Beginning of the End
    17. The Projected Man
    18. The Magic Voyage of Sinbad
    19. Santa Claus
    20. Time Chasers
    21. Night of The Blood Beast
    22. Bloodlust
    23. The Beast of Yuccca Flats
    24. Jack Frost
    25. Future War


  14. Dr. Erickson says:

    Um, I guess this is an okay “discussion” – though I also think if I just randomly listed 25 titles below, no one would bother to scrutinize them too closely. If I could whittle it all the way down to just two defining or historically significant eps I’d go with “Mitchell” and “Brain that Wouldn’t Die”: the Joel-Mike switcheroo back to back. A smoother torch-passing has rarely occurred in the annals of television. (Okay, maybe Dick York-to-Dick Sergeant comes close.)


  15. crowschmo says:

    Go to

    Notice anything different?

    Yes. First they unload all the merchandise, now, a reworking of the site. Can’t wait to find out what’s in store. :)


  16. Mibbitmaker says:

    #8 – With the one exception of leaving out the episode that introduced Castle Forrester (901), that is, in my view, the perfect list with the perfect reasoning for each choice.


  17. Prime Minister Jm J. Bullock (pondoscp) says:

    Outside of a handful of “fan favorites” being unnecessarily on the list, this is one of the better defining lists I’ve read. It’s a pretty decent historical moments list.
    He forgot Soultaker.


  18. Droppo says:

    If I may play the role of Comic Book Guy for a moment….there’s an error on the list! An error! Pearl did not stay with the show as a permanent cast member from Bloodlust on. She didn’t appear again until Night of the Bloodbeast.

    My list:

    The Crawling Eye
    Robot Monster
    Rocketship X-M
    The Lost Continent
    Pod People
    Gamera vs. Guiron
    Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
    Master Ninja I
    The Magic Sword
    Manos – the Hands of Fate
    I Accuse My Parents
    The Brain That Wouldn’t Die
    Alien From L.A.
    Santa Claus
    Village of the Giants
    Samson vs. the Vampire Women
    Revenge of the Creature
    Time Chasers
    The Final Sacrifice


  19. EricJ says:

    I don’t count “Famous host segs” as fodder for the list, and went more for the stylistic evolution of the show.

    1) Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy – Yes, Crawling Eye came first, but Mummy had the funnier, more memorable riffing to stick in our head as the show’s struggling jump from home-produced KTMA to the struggling home-produced Comedy Central, with Commando Cody for cultural Rocketeer-icon value.
    2) Robot Monster – The episode that came up with better gags than the Medveds could, and passed our cultural bad-movie torch from the Golden Turkeys to the SOL.
    3) Robot Holocaust – First cheesy contemporary 80’s movie, to show that bad movies weren’t just a “50’s thing”
    4) Untamed Youth – First teen-genre picture, to show that it wasn’t just a “sci-fi” show
    5) Rocketship X-M – New writers, new energetic silliness, TV’s Frank, and….look, a Robot Holocaust callback! We have cult fans who get the jokes, now!
    6) Rocket Attack USA – Letting the writers indulge their political-PC grudges didn’t hurt the riffing anyway, especially on a movie this clumsy.
    7) Lost Continent – Established more of the fourth-wall humor that we weren’t watching the movie, we were watching them watch the movie (“No more rock climbing!”)
    8) Godzilla vs. Megalon – It was only public domain that helped bring official Toho monsters to the world of MST3K (Gamera was Daiei), but if it’d never happened, we would have always wondered.
    9) Cave Dwellers – They could have chosen from so many low-rent Conan knockoffs, but if they’d done Yor, Hunter From the Future, would it have been the same?
    10) Pod People – A movie so strange and unpeggable, the riffs and segs WERE the stars of the episode. When all the segs are scene-specific parodies, you know it’s good material.
    11) Time of the Apes – It’s the innocence of early Japanese TV that makes Sandy Frank compilations strange enough to riff, but this one at least had an actual plot and was surreal enough to stand in for all of them
    12) Amazing Colossal Man – First Bert I. Gordon, and a return to core 50’s American drive-in sci-fi
    13) It Conquered the World – First Roger Corman, ditto
    14) Gamera vs. Guiron – Let’s be honest, the other Gameras just weren’t that good. If you only had to pick one, why not the silliest?
    15) Santa Claus Conquers the Martians – There were only two movies that could ever have been the Very MST3K Christmas Special episode, and this one had the cult/Turkeys credit. And the more sincere holiday feeling from J&tB.
    16) Hercules Unchained – First sword & sandals, and unquestionably the silliest.
    17) Monster a Go-Go – Attack of the the Eye Creatures should have been on the list, but MaGG was more riffs done on less of a movie. Had to pick one of the two, and the skating short clinched it.
    18) Day the Earth Froze – You can say “All the Russo-Finnish fairytale movies”, but when you think back to the first time you saw this…
    19) Manos – Every bad-movie cult discovers one unknown classic out of the depths, as their legacy: Medveds’ 50 Worst Films discovered Robot Monster, the Golden Turkeys discovered Ed Wood and Plan Nine, websites discovered Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny, and MST3K discovered a worst movie most of us hadn’t even conceived of yet.
    20) The Painted Hills – Only the Flintstones had ever done as nastier and sillier parody of the 50’s heartwarming preoccupation with Lassie.
    21) Wild World of Batwoman – Yep, skipped over Mitchell/Brain (the movies weren’t anything in particular to distract the show from its own plot-transitional navel-gazing, and unfortunately, Mitchell DID “influence the future series”, but let’s save that discussion for another time), and went straight for “What if Mike had to go up against actual sanity-crushing strange movies he couldn’t hip-snigger at?” For just a short time in the new series, they thought he was going to be Joel 2, and if they’d stayed with the same movies, he would have been out of his league.
    22) Santa Claus – The new Holiday Episode with That Other Guy Kicked Out of the Reruns, but here was a movie many in the audience had their own childhood experiences with. It had to happen sooner or later.
    23) Samson vs. the Vampire Women – The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy for the new Brains, and with Santos included.
    24) Hobgoblins – The other sanity-crushing Batwoman for the Mike era, and coming in a package of other minor-league contemporary direct-to-Blockbuster titles, helped finally strike back against critics and directors snickering that their mere bad movies were “bad enough for those guys on MST3K”. Rick Sloane, you freakin’ wish.
    25) Merlin’s Shop of Magical Wonders – We remember it as the last one, and it should have been. Diabolik just didn’t come as ridiculously out of left field, and wasn’t as “ultimate” a bad movie to end on.

    (Oh dear, is that 25? Gee, guess I had to skip over most of Season 7-9, and didn’t have room for Invasion USA on S6. Still, Batwoman and Hobgoblins cover the “What if?” good-bad Mike films.)


  20. Patti says:

    TarlCabot: Go to

    Notice anything different?

    Very intriguing.


  21. GizmonicTemp says:

    GREAT article! Man, it’s so hard to separate truly historical episodes from what you simply prefer, but I think it does a good job of picking EPs that not only LOOK different, but FEEL different. That being said, I do have a few notes.

    1) #207: For that fully-cooked feeling, I would have gone earlier to #206 or even #205.
    2) Great to see BOTH #301 and #303 on the list, instead of choosing one.
    3) I would have chosen #311 over #312. I’m not sure how #312 stands out over the earlier Gamera/Godzilla entries, and #311 had Peter Graves AND Lee Van Cleef for star power.
    4) #404 seems a bit of a random choice. I’m gonna use this slot on #414. “Tormented” was a genuinely scary and suspenseful movie. Cheesy, yes, but you can argue that it might have been the first MST3K entry to make the viewer uneasy.
    5) I would LOVE to include #502 “Hercules” here, but I can’t find any other movie to swap with it around this slot.
    6) At first reading, how can you NOT include #521 “Santa Claus”? However, #322 was already mentioned and my holiday jury is still out on which is the better entry.
    7) I really want to swap out #604 “Zombie Nightmare” for #607 “Bloodlust” because of its new-horror feel, but, historically, Pearl’s first episode IS indeed important.
    8) #624 is a dark horse, but Frank’s last EP was just so darn touching, I LOVE its inclusion here!
    9) It’s about this time in the list where we’re running out of slots, but there are just so many darn good EPs to choose from. I would have given #1003’s slot to #1001 as it’s the “reunion” episode.
    10) I really feel that #822 “Memory Bank” OR #1006 “Boggy Creek 2” need to be here somewhere, so how about a 26-show history? :-)


  22. klisch says:

    Robot Monster- First episode I saw. Got hooked right then and there.

    Time Chasers- Best movie they did. Could watch it without the riffs.

    Gamera vs Guiron- The ‘thank you’ scene made me laugh the most.

    Pod People- Host segment #3. Best one they did.

    Santa Claus Conquers the Martians- Episode that I’ve watched the most.

    Those are just 5 movies that I think are top 25 worthy for me.


  23. Wayne says:

    Reaffirms my belief that none of the Hercules episodes are required viewing. Every time yet another is included on a set it bums me out, and I can’t believe how many there were. Wish they were all on one set, like Gamera, and then (unlike Gamera) I could have avoided buying any.


  24. GornCaptain says:

    Reaffirms my belief that none of the Hercules episodes are required viewing. Every time yet another is included on a set it bums me out, and I can’t believe how many there were. Wish they were all on one set, like Gamera, and then (unlike Gamera) I could have avoided buying any.

    Once has to experience SANNNNNDSTOOOORM! and DEEP HURTING! at least once. ;)


  25. Satoris says:

    Since Mst had so many “trilogys” or similar typed movies, I would give an example of each. Plus, of course, all of the transiton episodes. Then add in some iconic bad movies and episodes. So my list would be: (no particular order)
    1. The Crawling Hand
    2. Wild Rebels
    3. The Sword and the Dragon
    4. Gamera
    5. Godzilla vs. Megalon
    6. Robot Monster
    7. Mitchell
    8. The Brain that wouldn’t Die
    9. Laserblast
    10. Samson vs. the Vampire Women
    11. Revenge of the Creature
    12. I was a Teenage Werewolf
    13. Horror of Party Beach
    14. The Final Sacrifice
    15. Jack Frost
    16. Time of the Apes
    17. The Thing that couldn’t Die
    18. Werewolf
    19. Fugitive Alien
    20. Prince of Space
    21. Rocketship XM
    22. Santa Claus
    23. Bride of the Monster
    24. Mst3K the Movie (This Island Earth)
    25. Diabolik


  26. EricJ says:

    GornCaptain: Once has to experience SANNNNNDSTOOOORM! and DEEP HURTING! at least once.

    I didn’t put Moon Men on the list because it’s not that great a movie, but yes–
    Unchained has to be seen because it’s the iconically silliest, and Moon Men for the show’s fourth-wall Rockclimbing-like riffs on SAAAND-STOOORM…
    (And Frank’s old villain-cliche’ overdo of the line still sends me into giggles in the intro.)


  27. Leave Crow T. Robert Denby Alone says:

    I champion the landmarks!

    1. Crawling Eye (Pilot)
    2. Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy (Start of Commando Cody)
    3. Robot Holocaust (End Commando Cody)
    4. The Black Scorpion (Last episode featuring Josh Weinstein)
    5. Rocketship XM (Set Change, Frank’s premier, Kevin starts as Tom Servo)
    6. 1st Spaceship on Venus (because it’s Prometheus)
    7. Earth vs. The Spider (Crow’s oft-recalled script “Earth vs. Soup” featured)
    8. Gamera vs. Guiron (best of the Gameras)
    9. Tormented (Mr. BIG representin’)
    10. The Painted Hills (after which there will be piling on)
    11. Mitchell (Last Joel Episode)
    12. The Brain that Wouldn’t Die (1st Mike Episode)
    13. Bloodlust (1st appearance of Pearl Forrester)
    14. Samson vs. the Vampire Women (Last Frank Episode)
    15. Night of the Blood Beast (Pearl Forrester becomes a regular in Deep 13)
    16. Laserblast (Last episode for Comedy Central, last episode featuring Trace)
    17. Revenge of the Creature (1st episode on SciFi, Kevin as Bobo introduced, 1st episode with Bill as Crow)
    18. The Thing that Couldn’t Die (Bill as Observer introduced)
    19. The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (Seen before it was MST’d)
    20. The Projected Man (Castle Forrester introduced)
    21. Gorgo (Guest appearance by Leonard Maltin)
    22. Quest of the Delta Knights (Pearl in the theater)
    23. Soultaker (Joel and Frank make guest appearances)
    24. Diabolik (final official episode)
    25. Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonder (Last new episode to actually air)


  28. CHF01 says:

    Instead of historical importance, I’m going with personal comedic value viewpoint, since ‘defining’ is a subjective term :)

    In no particular order:
    1. Women of the Prehistoric Planet (Hi-Keeba!)
    2. Giant Spider Invasion (Vaaaance!)
    3. Puma Man (He flies like a moron)
    4. Gamera vs Barugon (I hate to pull rank on you, son)
    5. Riding With Death (Can he get any more spittle on those fish lips??)
    6. Space Mutiny (Special effects by Industrial Light and Morons)
    7. Pod People (You can do magic, Trumpy!)
    8. Alien from L.A. (Yuck!)
    9. Touch of Satan (This is where the fish lives)
    10. Werewolf (An American Werewolf in traffic)
    11. The Deadly Mantis (I’ve got a mantis in my pantis)
    12. Blood Waters of Dr. Z (Sargassum…the weed of deceit)
    13. Final Justice (Go head on!)
    14. Terror from the Year 5000 (Are you ready for terrOOOOOOORRR?!?!?)
    15. Merlin’s Mystical Shop of Wonders (Rock and Roll Martian)
    16. The Final Sacrifice (Hockey hair)
    17. The Girl in Gold boots (I want my pretty mind back!)
    18. Prince of Space (Your weapons have no affect on me)
    19. Untamed Youth ( You ain’t gonna make a cotton picker outta me)
    20. Overdrawn at the Memory Bank (When Loving Lover’s Love)
    21. Eegah! (It’s funny, I was driving a stick too)
    22. Time of the Apes (He really shocked the monkey)
    23. Agent for HARM (That my sweet, is how it’s done)
    24. Horror of Party Beach (So what is additional dialogue, anyway?)
    25. Teen-age Strangler (Is This Love?)


  29. 01: SST Death Flight. From Season 0, MST3K’s counterpart to the Beatles’ Hamburg performances. A snapshot of a pretty good show on the verge of becoming a really great show. By all rights, this really should’ve been re-done in Season 3 or 4. The Hodgson/Beaulieu/Murphy cast would’ve totally killed it on this one. Ripe, stanky ’70s cheese packed full of ’60s has-beens and ’70 B-listers, trying to cash in on a genre — airline disaster flicks — that had already long worn out its welcome by this time.

    02: Robot Holocaust. Season 1 isn’t my favorite by a long shot, and Weinstein was rather dry as Servo, but it’s episodes like these where you can see them really starting to find their groove, and the movie is a finely-aged slice of ’80s cheese. One of those movies in which every actor’s performance elicits a quiet gasp of “GOD, they’re BAD” from me.

    03: Black Scorpion. I honestly thought they were on the cusp of greatness in this one, a taste of what was to come in Season 2 and after. Hell, even Weinstein is nailing it in this one. Even now, after a crapdillion viewings, Servo’s “haircut” riff busts me up.

    04: Rocketship XM. TV’s Frank arrives, and the fun really starts. The movie’s an old fave from my teenage Creature Feature-watching days. As someone who was a young teenager at the peak of the Apollo Era, there’s nothing I like more than a really stupid old space movie. Can someone please tell my why then needed to take firearms to the friggin’ MOON? NOTHING LIVES THERE.

    05: Cavé Dwellers. Miles O’Fun with Miles O’Keefe. Crow nails it early: not even Tolkien could follow this plot. As I did during Robot Holocaust, I constantly found myself responding to actors’ performances by gasping in horrified amazement, “GOD, she’s BAD!”. The vicious deconstruction of continuity gaffes in the final host segment is epic.

    06: Fugitive Alien. Oh, f’cripesake, people, do I even have to go into it here? This is the song written for the train fight! This is the fight, Rocky and Ken! HE TRIIIIEEEED TO KILL HIM…

    07: Attack Of The Giant Leeches. This was the first movie I saw on the old Count Gore’s Creature Feature on DC local TV in 1972, when I was all of 15, and which introduced me to the wild and wonderful world of Roger Corman and changed me forever. I’d been enjoying MST3K fairly regularly by now, but this is the episode that made me a total hardcore. I was flipping through the cable guide that evening and noticed that holy crap, man! Attack Of The Giant Leeches is on MST3K tonight! Hot DAMN! It was all over at that point.

    08: The Day The Earth Froze. MST3K had always been getting big laughs out of me, but this was the first episode that had me laughing until I hurt from start to finish. I’d never heard the riffing coming at me this fast and furiously before — and quality as well as quantity. They’d throw down a riff that had me spurting beer out of my nose, and I’d hardly have a chance to recover before they threw down another riff that had me laughing until I damn’ near wet myself.

    09: Manos, The Hands Of Fate. MST3K’s counterpart to Dark Side Of The Moon. The Plan 9 From Outer Space of the 1960s. Do I even need to add any more here? M*th@rf&ck!ng Manos The M*th@rf&ck!ng Hands Of M*th@rf&ck!ng Fate, people. Nelson’s turn as Torgo is epic. Certain actors “own” their roles, and Michael J. Nelson IS Torgo.

    10: Warrior Of The Lost World. Anyone who knows me knows just how much I detested everything about the ’80s — the politics, the pop music, the TV shows, and the movies… especially depressing-ass post-apocalyptic hopelessness like Mad Max, and hopeless cheap knock-offs like Warrior Of The Lost World (original working title: Sad Max). I was worried when first going into this one; the deep hurting of the ’80s was still fresh in my mind, but by the time Megaweapon — the only likeable character — hit the screen, I decided that yeah, I’m ready to watch ’em shred some ’80s movies. F*ck you, ’80s.

    11: The Brain That Wouldn’t Die. Here’s another one from my blissful teenage Creature Feature-watching days and, at that point, one of the most sick and twisted movies I’d ever seen — and I loved it for that. Up until now, Mike Nelson had been kind of like MST3K’s “secret weapon”, but I wasn’t sure at first when he debuted as host. By time time this was over, though, I was totally cool with Nelson. Nobody else there could’ve stepped into that part and pulled it off. Even back then, I thought the whole Joel Vs Mike pissfight was pointless and bogus.

    12: Colossus And The Headhunters. Season 6’s answer to Hercules Unchained, a big heaping slab of steaming hot entirely-pulled-out-of-writers’-asses mythological action — and cheesesteak. Also, like The Day The Earth Froze, one of those episodes where I could barely recover from one riff before the next one slammed into me and sent me into convulsive laughter all over again. The riffing on the climactic wedding battle scene is epic.

    13: The Skydivers. In the entirety of my adolescence and young adulthood that I’d spent watching the Count Gore Show, I’d seen a lot of rank-ass movies, but I’d never heard of Coleman Francis until I saw this stinkburger in Season 6 — and I’ll be real honest with you, it was like the first time I saw Citizen Kane in my senior film class in high school. I was in awe of Francis’ gift for taking an exciting, compelling subject, draining it of all excitement and romance, and leaving behind the withered, dessicated husk of a movie.

    14: Samson Vs The Vampire Women. Farewell, TV’s Frank, you were enjoyed. It was really sweet of the Brains to pull an originally-scheduled movie and present this one as a going-away present for Frank who, as I recall, is a huge fan of these cheesy old El Santo flicks. They really do a number on this one, too; it’s what fighter pilots like to call a “target-rich environment” — the minions of Satan who are basically cheap thugs, the vacillating, evasive Dad, the bizarre costume party scene… how could this not have been a classic?

    15: The Brute Man. This one’s in strong contention for my personal pick for the quintessential Nelson-era episode, a double-barrelled attack leading with Chicken Of Tomorrow, to soften you up for the knockout punch. Another one that had me laughing until I begged for mercy, it contains one of my all-time favorite riffs: “Uhh, honey…? My face is big as ever, and someone shot my sizzler off!” –Crow T. Robot

    16: Laserblast. The movie’s tolerable enough, and Mike’n’the Bots do a yeoman’s job as usual, but I still have a hard time with this one because I knew it was supposed to have been The End, and you can tell that the Brains went into it thinking it was going to be The End — and it was The End for one Dr. Clayton Deborah Susan Forrester. Still, had it actually been The End, the final Deep 13 segment, parodying the famous transformation scene from Kubrick’s 2001, was a superb ending.

    17: Revenge Of The Creature. The original Creature From The Black Lagoon was one of the first horror flicks I remember seeing as a young boy in the ’60s, and out of all the monsters of MST3K, the Creature From The Black Lagoon is the only one that’s well thought-out, beautifully designed and, as such, truly friggin’ scary. If it seemed that Bill Corbett’s performances as Crow were weak, it was only because he had to follow Trace Beaulieu. Corbett certainly grew into the role quickly enough, especially considering that he had all of a weekend to get the hang of working the puppet before this episode went into production. It also helped that they kicked off the SciFi Years with one of my all-time favorite ’50s horror franchises.

    18: The Incredibly Strange Creatures Etc. For me, this was one of those “trash classics” that existed only in legend for many years before the advent of VHS reissues; in fact, the first time I ever saw this epic was on MST3K — and I’m actually rather glad of that. Nelson wasn’t that far from the truth when they claimed that Ray Dennis Steckler simply filmed the open-stage nights at a local club and made it half the movie. Wonderfully, breathtakingly, sublimely bad. I was actually in awe of the badness of this movie.

    19: The Giant Spider Invasion. After seeing Monster A Go-Go, it’s impressive to see how much Bill Rebane matured and found his voice as a filmmaker. No doubt Rebane was ecstatic to have snagged Perry Mason co-star Barbara Hale and Gilligan’s Island co-star Alan Hale Jr. for this stinker even as both were slouching into the twilight of their respective careers. Wonderfully savage jokes about Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest are made only as guys from the Upper Midwest can make them.

    20: Space Mutiny. You’d have thought that by the late 1980s, studios would know how to make a proper space movie, but apparently not. The crappy ’80s IBM PC ATs on an ultra-futuristic starship, the nasty title sequence looking as if it was made on a C64 and the exterior effex shots stolen from old Battlestar Galactica episodes make this a thing of wonder. Add to that the brilliant acting chops of Chunk Hardslab, and there’s no way you could have a history of MST3K without including this turdbomb.

    21: Puma Man. What in ths Hell, Michigan is this supposed to be — a drama? A tongue-in-cheek comedy? I can’t figure it out. What I do know is that it contains some of the rottenest flying effex I’ve ever seen, and the stupidest, most half-assed superhero outfit I’ve ever seen. Add a big, steaming slab of Donald Pleasance and you’ve got some of the worst — and by that I mean best — that the late ’70s had to offer. When you want the flavor of bacon in a dip.

    22: Hobgoblins. Dear GOD, where the hell do I start with this silly hot mess? Did somebody actually think this was funny? A parody of Goblins? SOMEBODY TELL ME!! But, anyway… Mike’n’the Bots do to this movie what I could only dream of doing — knee it in the groin, and snag on it, and give it a power sit-up. The bit during the closing credits is the cherry on this steaming sh#t sundae. Pretty much everything I hated about the ’80s is mashed into this piece of crap.

    23: The Screaming Skull. Another old fave from the Count Gore show, starring the perpetually angst-ridden Peggy Webber. Does anybody here know of a movie this woman was in where she didn’t constantly appear to be on the edge of a nervous breakdown? For me, the only likeable character in this box of foam peanuts is Mickey, the gardener, who I’ve always thought was the Torgo of the SciFi Years. I know I didn’t die while watching it, but I still think I deserve a free coffin for surviving it.

    24: Blood Waters Of Dr. Z. God, I love a movie where the “hero” turns out to be comically ineffectual, and the monster is basically a low-rent Creature From The Black Lagoon. This isn’t an episode I’ve seen on many all-time lists, but it sure as hell’s one of my all-timers. I was totally sucked in from the opening line “Sargassum — the Weed Of Deceit!” and Crow’s pat but hilarious response, “That’s what I smoke!”

    25: Diabolik. This was a tough one for me — not just because it really was The End, but because the movie just didn’t seem “bad” enough. It didn’t seem to elicit the kind of reaction from me that I had for horrid little sh*tstains like Manos or Skydivers. I was a bit disappointed that they hadn’t gone out in a blaze of glory by riffing a classic old plopper like Plan 9 From Outer Space or Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster. Still, the final host segment is sweet and poignant — back on Earth, in Nelson’s apartment, Nelson and the Bots settle down to watch a late-night Creature Feature and instinctively begin riffing on the credits even though they don’t really have to, and one of the Bots suddenly realizes they’re watching The Crawling Eye — “hey, haven’t we seen this one before…?”


  30. Ian L. says:

    The author of the article seems to have picked the 25 most important episodes of the show, rather than the 25 best/most favorite. Can’t really argue with the 25 most important episodes- he hit all the major ones such as the Joel/Mike switch-over with “Mitchell” and “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die”, the two finales, the first episode, Kevin Murphy replacing Josh Weinstein, etc. About the only one I’d add is “Last of the Wild Horses”, since it had Forrester and TV’s Frank riffing in the theater instead of Mike and the bots. Keep in mind this was years before Cinematic Titanic.


  31. Ian L.:
    The author of the article seems to have picked the 25 most important episodes of the show, rather than the 25 best/most favorite.Can’t really argue with the 25 most important episodes- he hit all the major ones such as the Joel/Mike switch-over with “Mitchell” and “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die”, the two finales, the first episode, Kevin Murphy replacing Josh Weinstein, etc.About the only one I’d add is “Last of the Wild Horses”, since it had Forrester and TV’s Frank riffing in the theater instead of Mike and the bots.Keep in mind this was years before Cinematic Titanic.

    Oh, wow, yeah… that’s one of the things I enjoyed most about Last Of The Wild Horses — getting to see Conniff and Beaulieu riffing on a movie in character as Dr. F and Frank.

    For another fun little preview of CT, check out Quest Of The Delta Knights, where we get to see Mary Jo Pehl in character as Pearl Forrester in the theater with the Bots. She really kills it, too, especially when she’s putting on her Pearl Forrester “smart-mouthed old broad” persona.


  32. Jay:
    Every time I rewatch an episode I haven’t seen in a while I find new gems of humor and social reference, so my top twenty-five constantly changes. There are my perennial favorite four or five, but variety is the spice of MSTie life. From “The Green Slime” to “Diabolik” they all make my list. Weenie Man answer? You decide, Cal.

    I also have a certain “core” of solid faves, but I totally get you… every once in a while, I’ll reach into the backup pile, pull out an episode I haven’t watched in a while because it didn’t do much for me the first time around, and suddenly have a new favorite.

    That happened for me with Mighty Jack, Tormented, Riding With Death, and Hamlet, among others. I’ll be in the mood to binge out on some MST3K, scroll through my list, be unable to make up my mind and think D’ahh, cripes… what haven’t I watched in a while…?


  33. GornCaptain: Once has to experience SANNNNNDSTOOOORM! and DEEP HURTING! at least once.

    Funny you should mention that. I’m watching Hercules Vs The Moon Men right this very minute.

    One of those Hercules movies that I just couldn’t deal with at first, for the same reason that Joel’n’the Bots damn’ near broke down watching it… SAAAAAANNNNNNNNDSTOOORRRRRMMMMMM.

    Gave it another shot earlier this summer, and inexplicably found myself totally digging it.

    “There goes Nebraska!” –Joel.


  34. Wayne:
    Reaffirms my belief that none of the Hercules episodes are required viewing. Every time yet another is included on a set it bums me out, and I can’t believe how many there were. Wish they were all on one set, like Gamera, and then (unlike Gamera) I could have avoided buying any.

    I don’t know if you could call it “required” MST3K viewing, but I can still heartily recommend Hercules Unchained. My own personal favorite out of the Hercules cycle.


  35. Satoris says:

    Maybe I should have added “Racket Girls” to this list because it has the Crow/Tom Servo “wedding”. A very funny bunch of segments. I especially love Dr.F accidentally starting the ceremony with the beginning of the Prince song “Let’s go Crazy”.


  36. Prime Minister Jm J. Bullock (pondoscp) says:

    I was going to go through this thread and make a list of all the episodes that no one included and call it the “non-defining” episodes, but it was a “Herculean” effort. Would make for interesting conversation, though. For instance. no one has cited Master Ninja 2 as defining. It’s not, lol, I love it though, but no one’s calling defining. Hellcats was another I noticed. No surprise there. Stranded In Space? Not defining, but a good explanation of the show’s premise. Neptune Men? Imagine that, no takers. Who knows, I may get a bug and “go ahead on” and compile the list this weekend, even though a new weekend thread is about to happen.


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