You really love your Mystery Science Theater 3000. When we asked you to tell us what you thought the single, all-time greatest episode of MST3K is, we received thousands of responses on our social media pages. In 24 hours. So, yeah, you love your MST3K.
And we here at Shout! Factory do, too! So, with your help, along with a lot of super-scientific, double-blind experiments with only minimal amounts of human and robot testing, we discovered and compiled the definitive five greatest MST3K episodes of all time, accompanied by some of your comments.
There was a lot of love for a wide variety of episodes (and we’ll get to some of the honorable mentions in a future post), but these five stood head and shoulders above the rest, clear winners in the battle for wittiest quips, wackiest sketches and insult-iest riffs [click here for the 10 Runners Up]. So without further ado (because who has time for ado?), we present to you the five bestMST3K episodes ever, picked by fans and backed by science!*
*Not actually backed by any sort of science. Please consult your doctor before choosing a favorite Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode.
5. POD PEOPLE
Pod People has nothing to do with pods. It has nothing to do with people. But it has everything to do with hurting.
Hurting from laughing too hard, that is. This classic season three episode introduces Joel and the bots to the adorable alien Trumpy (who can do stupid things), while Joel introduces the world to a brand-new guitar chord.
Audrey W – The booze jokes, the cord of bodies piling up, Dan Fogelberg poaching eggs… Not to mention Public Domain Karaoke and Joel singing with the bots as his backup. Just perfect.
Wade M – Pod People. Utterly classic. So many unforgettable lines. “It stinks!”
Jeffrey W – POD PEOPLE. Three terrible movies in one! And the homicidal Banana Splits joke kills me every time.
4. MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE
It almost seems like too easy a target – Manos: The Hands of Fate is quite simply one of the worst movies ever made. But Joel, Tom Servo and Crow have such comedic talent, they somehow make the worst movies into something delightfully watchable. And so it is with Manos, a season four episode that starts with the short Hired! Part 2 (Electric Boogaloo) and ends without a new pope having been chosen.
Jeff V – Manos, The Hands of Fate. Because it features Frank Zappa in a Sears poncho and a stoner who had his kneecaps kicked backward and walks like a cricket.
Jay F – The Mads each individually APOLOGIZED for Manos: The Hands of Fate. I kind of want to write a huge dissertation on why it’s so great/terrible, but I think that really sums it up.
Jerry R – Mine’s Manos: The Hands of Fate. That movie was terrible, but MST3Kmanaged to make me laugh so hard I fell off my couch.
3. SPACE MUTINY
The first Mike-hosted episode to make the Top Five, Space Mutiny is a film that doesn’t really have a clear moment of mutiny, but is most definitely set in space. Starring silver screen icon Big McLargeHuge and featuring the tragic death of a character who inexplicably shows up in the very next scene, Space Mutiny may be a low moment for Hollywood, but thanks to MST3K it’s become a high point in many fans’ lives.
Justin S – Space Mutiny. It’s perfect. Ludicrous but semi-competent movie = great riffing. Excellent host segments.
Karla J – Space Mutiny because it brings a dead Lt back so she can give a report.
Will A – Dude, Space Mutiny. No ands, ifs, or buts about it. It has Blast Hardcheese. That gives it an auto-win.
2. THE FINAL SACRIFICE
OK, look — the votes for #3 and #2 on this list were close. Really close. Like, it was practically a tie. But in the end, there can only be one victor in a serious battle for second place such as this one, and The Final Sacrifice edged Space Mutiny to claim that coveted number two spot. We can sum up the reason for its slight superiority in but a single word:
Yes, Zap Rowsdower was in fact the only reason given by many of you for whyThe Final Sacrifice is one of the greatest MST3K episodes ever. And maybe there were some more reasons, but we were too busy solving Myst in ten minutes to notice.
Lacy H – There are so many amazing episodes but I can watch Final Sacrifice over and over and I laugh until I cry every time!
Charles P – Final Sacrifice…because Rowsdower saves us and saves all the world!
Ben M – The Final Sacrifice. We watch it at least twice a week. My wife has a hard time sleeping unless it’s playing AND we’re naming our next dog Rowsdower.
Numbers 2 and 3 may have been close, but when it came to #1, the answer was as clear as a boom mic above Joe Don Baker’s head: Mitchell holds the top spot of your hearts. In Joel’s swan song as host, our heroes expertly lampoon the story of an alcoholic detective named my-my-my-Mitchell (who likes his scotch by the quart) before Joel gets blasted out of the Satellite of Love in an escape pod, marking the end of one era and the beginning of another. It also marked the high point of a classic series.
Adam M – Mitchell. All the jokes and wisecracks made at the expense of Joe Don Baker’s somewhat lazy and seemingly ineffectual protagonist are reasons enough.
Nathan L – Mitchell. An important episode in the evolution of MST3K, and Joel and the bots just destroy this movie… and any chance they had of getting a Christmas card from Joe Don Baker.
Samantha V – Mitchell. Now and always. It makes me hurt myself laughing.
Anthony P – MITCHELL!!! Not only does it mark the end of the Joel era and the beginning of the Mike era, but it has — hands down — some of the best jabs at a single actor (Joe Don Baker) in the entire history of MST3K!!!
Rob K – Mitchell in MST3K‘s hands is a total work of art. That along with a performance by Joe Don Baker that makes you believe that he could actually be Mitchell. Or is it Mittens?