Mystery Science Theater 3000 TV Poster Image

Mystery Science Theater 3000



Silly/smart bad-movie commentary is a teen geek's delight.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

If there's any message in this series, it's that being smart, witty, and a bit cynical can draw lots of laughs.

Positive role models

Though everything is up for mockery in this show, the main characters are actually pretty nice to each other. Though the characters on the Satellite of Love are in opposition to their mad scientist captors, it mostly plays out in a game of intellectual one-upmanship, i.e. trying to outdo each other's brilliant inventions. The lack of female characters, particularly in earlier seasons of the show, is a bummer.


Joel/Mike and the robots are imprisoned on the Satellite of Love but there's never a hint of any real menace. Some movies feature monsters and murders but the snickering commentary and frequent break-ins dispel any scariness.


Largely depends on the movie being lampooned. Some are quite suggestive, i.e. lots of girls in scanty clothing and some implied sex. But since the shows originally aired on television, there is no nudity.


Depends on the movie being featured, but any curses stronger than "hell" are generally cut out. The mad scientists and the Satellite of Love denizens frequently mock each other, but that's more of a nerdy rank-out designed to display superior intelligence than true insult.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters in some movies may smoke, drink, or do drugs. Many movies do take place in a criminal milieu.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Mystery Science Theater 3000 is the very definition of a cult show: It's not for everyone, but those who like it really like it. Because the show's premise relies on an old movie being played as the main characters watch, iffy content can vary depending on which movie is the focus. Occasional scenes of violence or scantily clad women appear in these movies, but the humorous tone of the series lightens any heavy scenes. The humor runs the gamut from toilet humor to truly erudite geek jokes. Older teens, particularly those with a bent for sci fi, fantasy, and technology, can appreciate the show, though they may need a geeky, well-read mom or dad to explain a lot of the references.

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What's the story?

MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000's theme song sets up the entire plot of the show: Joel (later replaced by Mike) is just another guy in a red jumpsuit at the Gizmonic Institute. His mad scientists bosses didn't like him, so they shot him into space. There, with the help of his (puppet) robot pals, he's trapped on the Satellite of Love, forced to watch the cheesiest bad movies of all time, while the Mads keep track of his reactions back on Earth. Joel and the 'Bots cope by roundly mocking the movies they must watch, commenting wryly in silhouette on the lower right of the screen as the movie plays. The Satellite of Love also competes with the Mads to invent the wackiest objects, such as canine antiperspirant or the scratch-n-sniff report card.

Is it any good?


Profoundly ridiculous and shockingly smart, Mystery Science Theater 3000 became an instant nerd classic when it premiered in 1988 on an obscure Minnesota television station, and time has not diminished its luster. Though the idea of a guy in a space suit and a couple of robots (one shaped like a gumball machine!) wisecracking about bad movies is admittedly goofy, the lightning-quick wit and astonishing cleverness of the cast's quips will first kill you with laughter, then send you running to Wikipedia. You may find yourself looking up Werner Ehrhard or Merchant-Ivory or the cast of Starsky & Hutch after each episode; rest assured that there are annotated guides of obscure MST3K references online.

The quality of the movies mocked on MST3K varies widely, but the quality of the jokes made about them absolutely doesn't. Thus pretty much every two-hour episode is genius, and beloved by smart science-y types the world over. Not everyone will enjoy the show, but those who enjoy it become the kind of slavish fans who would happily attend a Mystery Science Theater 3000 -con or -o-rama. Watching any episode is (about) two hours of guaranteed fun.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Mystery Science Theater 3000 takes on obscure bad movies. What makes these movies "bad"? How are they different from the kinds of movies you go to see in the theater? Is the dialogue different? Plots? Costumes, lighting, scenery?

  • The Satellite of Love characters and the mad scientists compete over who can invent the most interesting or useful objects. Do you ever see anything on the show that you think is a good idea? Do you ever have ideas for inventions?

TV details

Cast:Joel Hodgson, Kevin Murphy, Mike Nelson, Trace Beaulieu
Network:Comedy Central
Topics:Robots, Space and aliens
TV rating:NR
Available on:Streaming

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written byNintendoFan_ January 1, 2015

Is 'MST3K' Alright For Kids?

Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) is an amazing show and should be seen by any movie fanatic or critic. The reason I say iffy for 13 and under is because the content may vary between which movie is being reviewed. Apart from that, MST3K has several 90's references that many kids of today might not understand.
Teen, 13 years old Written byBoyOfDestiny55 February 4, 2014

In The Not Too Distant Future, Next Movie Night AD...

This show is AMAZING! I watch it regularly with my dad, and their witty dry humor makes my day. It's not for everyone, but definitely try it out! Although this show has a relatively PG overall feel, there is definitely a more intense undertone that comes out every once in a while, causing the show to go off color for a short period. They quickly rebound however and don't dwell on being lude, but not before you get the chills when your parents are around. Let me explain: Sex: This show is overall not a crass or lude show. However, because it is a comedic show where they comment throughout the movie, the content they draw from the film can become crass and lude, even if for just a second. So, expect about on average 2-3 fast flying innuendos for each episode. Its a know your kid moment. I recommend previewing for anyone under the age of 12. Violence: almost a non issue. Their banter could make Alien as tame as Veggie Tales. Any violence whatsoever is proceeded by a funny line, cutting whatever gravitas the moment had off.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Kid, 11 years old December 5, 2013


Awesome show, the movies are so bad and they bleep out language. You have to be fairly smart to understand a lot of the jokes though.


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