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Most writers of fanfic post their works in venues where they hope to receive feedback in order to improve their skills. The MST is a specific variety of story commentary based around the format of Mystery Science Theatre 3000: three or four characters "watch" the fic unfold, and make snarky and/or constructive comments on it. The usual tone is one of lampoonery, sometimes verging on ridicule if the story deserves it. Extreme examples can mimic the entire structure of an episode of MST3K, right down to the message from the Mads and the invention exchange.
Originally, MSTers used the actual cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000, but as time went on using alternative casts became more and more popular. More often than not, alternative cast members come from the series the Fanfic being MSTed is based on, although they're usually something completely different — popular Anime characters, professional wrestlers, a Crossover of several different series, or even original characters created for the role. The setup for alternative casts will usually mimic the "mad scientists inflicting it on a trapped audience" format of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Usually, the format goes like so:
> Line from the original fanfic
CHARACTER: Snarky comment!
(Incidentally, the format for lines from the original fanfic likely has to do with modern fanfic's Usenet and internet-mailing-list origins; the > is used at the start of each line quoted in a post in old e-mail programs.)
Naturally, some MSTings get MSTed again, a practice known as "meta-MSTing". (Compare with Retsupurae).
An MST takes quite a bit more work than the usual comments and criticism a story may receive, and is usually reserved for stories that are either unusually good or extraordinarily bad. Because of its often inflammatory content, the creator of an MST will usually get the permission of the author first.
The practice isn't always limited to Fanfic, either; for example, particularly annoying spam may be given this treatment. Another common class of targets are posts espousing off-the-wall conspiracy theories. Obviously, the permission of the author isn't sought in these cases. When done in political commentary, this is called Fisking.
While the practice (and the community surrounding it) has waned in recent years, you can still find new MSTings floating around if you know where to look.
For the more traditional snarking of bad movies MSTing, see Alternate DVD Commentary.
- On The Satellite of Revolution, the cast of Revolutionary Girl Utena gets snarky on horrible Utena fanfic. Also, Mikage as the mad professor is several kinds of great.
- The DVD Commentary track for the anime Bakemonogatari consists of the characters MSTing their own show, with dialogue written by the original author.
- Card Captor Science Theater 3000, by CardCaptor Schlueter (aka Syaoran-kun). It mostly focuses on anime fanfics, with the riffers being Sakura, Syaoran, Tomoyo, and Kero, and Eriol and his guardians replacing the Mads. Features many running gags, a semi-coherent story, and tons of living plushies. One tip: stay away from the tea!
- While not done in classic MST format, the unimaginatively-named Review of Sailor Moon V by Horosha (NSFW) holds to the spirit of the trope by portraying the Sailor Senshi sitting around Hikawa Shrine one night reading copies of Troy "Silver" Stanton's fanfic series Sailor Moon V: The Dark Adventures of the Sailor Scouts. Unusually for this trope, the source material is actually really good, and the girls are rather impressed by Troy's work.
- A Total Waste of 6 Min 35 Sec is a deliberately awful Anime Music Video that has pop-up dialogue making fun of itself.
- Elmer Studios, which has original characters riffing on bad anime fanfiction (Please note that the site is a mirror, since Geocites collapsed). Recently revived
- Kyon of the Haruhi Suzumiya series provides an in-universe example when he spends most of The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina: Episode 00 making snarky comments.
- Yuugiou Mystery Card Game Theatre has original characters tearing into stories for all four series of the franchise.
- The Freelance Police Riffery Theater is a young but promising MST starring the Freelance Police.
- And another: this Marvel Adventures comic has the various Avengers "trapped" in a ceremony honoring Captain America, watching an old Patriotic Fervor propaganda film of him and making commentary. Of note: "So if something cool happens, then you really did it, and if it's lame, the movie guys put it in. Right."
- Um... it's not there. Is there another link?
- The Marvel Comics UK reprint of the comic book adaptation of the 'Transformers episode "The Big Broadcast of 2006!" had a Simon Furman framing device in which the Quintessons denied it ever happened.
- Deadpool's text boxes have shifted from mere thought boxes to this role in the later years.
- Robert Benchley in Road To Utopia interrupts the film a few times for Lampshade Hanging and sarcastic commentary.
- Brendan Fraser does this throughout his commentary track on The Mummy 1999 DVD.
- A non-fanfic example: Jeff Vandermeer's novel Shriek: An Afterword features the story's protagonist snarkily commenting on the narrator's work.
- The Vampoife Dood Who Lifed starts out with the characters MS Ting an awful fanfiction created by the author his/herself, then morphs into an actual story... though there's still quite a bit of snarking.
- The Black Pawn Movement MSTs various rant and complaint videos of Twilight fans. The spinoff DnA riffs much broader fare.
- Arguably the only safe way to enjoy The Eye of Argon.
- One particularly brave young man took on the infamous Lord of the Rings fic Celebrían. Read it here. If you dare.
- Though not a fanfic, Mark Twain's Fenimore Coopers Literary Offences is some sort of proto-MST.
- In Roughing It, Twain gives The Book of Mormon the same treatment after he is given a copy when he is travelling through Utah.
- He does a devastating critique of Christian Science which, along with taking apart its medical and religious principles, just plain mocks Mary Baker Eddy's writing in Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures.
- The many Harry Potter fanfics in which the Marauders (or any other combination of characters!) somehow get hold of one or more of the Canon books and read through it, making snarky comments in a Script Fic format.
- There's also a fic in which the Marauders get hold of My Immortal (found here).
- Some of the better Lord of the Rings MSTs were done by Al's Waiter.
- John Nowak and Matt Plotecher's MS Ting of Tom Swift's War Tank tears into the original series' hallmarks of Patriotic Fervor, Ethnic Scrappies, Canon Sues and the magnificent colossus of all-consuming stupidity that is Ned Newton.
- The Department Of Mysteries is a newborn sporking community for Harry Potter badfics, started by Snowfox and the newbie Gamerex27, both Tropers on this very website.
- The brave Rorschach, from the website ImpishIdea, is facing the daunting task of sporking the Maradonia Saga. Should the "movie" of the book come to fruition, expect a spork of it as well.
- Older Than Radio example: In Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, narrator Pip and several other crowd members riff on a particuarly bad performance of Hamlet. "The ghost appeared to have died with a bad cough which he carried with him to the tomb."
- The Glitterdome is an archive of MSTs for dozens of TV shows, done by taking screenshots and adding captions. It's mostly sci-fi and supernatural shows such as Buffy and Doctor Who.
- Hipsoda's Caption Crack is another captioning site, where cappers (as they call themselves) can choose from an assortment of shows, movies, commercials, etc. and even "fave" captions.
- The LiveJournal community house_mst is dedicated to MSTing the very worst of House fanfiction, using characters from House to comment on it rather than the original Mystery Science Theater 3000 characters.
- The spinoff-of-a-spinoff-of-a-spinoff MPT3K involves MSTing done by alternative Fanfic versions of a number of companions and related characters from the Doctor Who Canon and Expanded Universe, as well as fan-created characters. It gets a bit complicated...
- MASH did this a few times in its early years when home movies were being screened. Used to its funniest as Hawkeye, Trapper, Klinger, Radar and Henry were watching Frank's home movie of his wedding.
Hawkeye: (as movie first shows line of wedding guests) I've invited you here today as I'm ready to name the murderer.
- Game Show Network's original series Faux Pause screened obscure, short-lived game shows, paused them at certain points, and riffed on them.
- In Community Abed and Troy apparently have a tradition of doing this to horrendous B-movies; Shirley, Pierce, and Señor Chang show up, too. (And yet Jeff, played by the one cast member who had guest starred on Riff Trax, does NOT show up.)
- Pierce attempts to compensate for his lack of ability at this by writing his jokes with a team of writers beforehand, like the actual Mystery Science Theater 3000 did after its first season.
- Some of the DVD Commentary tracks for Mad Men feature the actors riffing on the episodes. It happens pretty much any time Vincent Kartheiser (Pete Campbell) and/or John Slattery (Roger Sterling) are on the commentary, and there are a few episodes where they're together.
- A MSTing For All Seasons is a website collecting the MSTing works of three separate authors, targeting everything from the infamous "Oscar" stories to a collection of UFO conspiracy theory postings. They may be some of the best examples out there.
- Specifically, prolific MSTer Megane 6.7, who's been riffing on fics for nearly a decade (including several MSTs done well after the zenith of the MiSTing community's output). Ever wonder who to thank/beat for finding Oscar's fanfics? Go find Megane; he was the first person to riff "Artemis's Lover".
- The MSTing Mine is an effort to archive all MSTs posted to the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Usenet groups.
- Everything What Is Crap contains lots of MSTings from various series and authors.
- The Stephen Ratliff MSTing Archives include pretty much every Stephen Ratliff-based MSTing ever written. Also the MSTings of the infamous Peter Guerin Daria fanfics, such as "The Misery Senshi Neo-Zero Double-Blitzkrieg Debacle".
- WeHeartFanfics, an MST Youtube channel created by independent game developer Banov and some of his college friends.
- Project AFTER is a site dedicated to ridding the world of terrible fanfiction by MSTing it. However, instead of using a cast of characters, it is just the author of the MST commenting on the work. Its forum also includes a section where fans can post their own MSTs.
- MSTings have also been done in webcomic form.
- Comic SJ Perelman would often mock plays or entire novels. He even had a special prefix for the times he mocked a book he had read as a child; "Cloudland Revisited".
- The forum Refia is dedicated to writing up new and fresh MSTings of both recent and classic fanfics, mostly of The Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who canon.
- Fanfiction.net decided to ban fic MSTings at one point, because they were "disrespectful" to authors.
- Apparently, they have changed their policy or stopped caring since then, since this story is still going strong.
- Topless Robot's Fan Fiction Friday feature does this for fanfic.
- Bennett The Sage on That Guy With The Glasses does Masterpiece Fanfic Theatre where he brings "the very best of the very worst of fanfiction" by reading horrible, usually NSFW, fanfic aloud, while every now and then white text pops up over the video as a snide comment in an MST fashion.
- It Came From English 101! does this with the MSTer's own English essays, as well as fanfics.
- A Random MST is a series that targets particularly bad fanfiction and other stories. Some exceptions, such as stories that aren't particularly bad, are made, such as the two MSTs of both Pokémon: Attack of Mewtwo and its sequel.
- So What Colour Is Your Toothbrush, handling everything from Detective Conan and Harry Potter to Warrior Cats and Axis Powers Hetalia.
- The LiveJournal community badfic_quotes sporks multifandom fanfic and "professional" stories, with a particular love of poorly concieved summaries from The Pit (fanfiction.net), while weepingcock is the smutfic sporking equivalent, hunting down the worst descriptions of sex and body parts that will having you screaming for Brain Bleach. Particularly of note: the dark, dark world of Transformational Porn Fic.
- The blog Library of the Damned riffs on fanfics from a variety of fandoms, ranging from video games to children's TV shows.
- The Lardpirates' Heckles section, which covers particularly bad webcomics (mostly Gonterman) to especially offensive fan fiction of One Piece, Final Fantasy and Phantom Brave. More are sure to come!
- The Daily Insanity, made by Raetekusu. As of now, he only has Chapters 1-11 of My Immortal and a MST of an article comparing Stephenie Meyer to J.K. Rowling, but under planned MS Ts, he has My Inner Life, a Sue-fic from Kingdom Hearts, and a couple of more recent fics he's found.
- Canadian music channel Much Music has Video on Trial, a series which essentially does this for music videos with a bunch of comedians.
- The Distressed Watcher (formerly on That Guy With The Glasses) had a series called Sour Note where he and his friend riffed on pop music videos.
- The Genesis Concept Album 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway got the MST treatment here.
- Although short-lived, Lynxara's Mystery Wrestling Theater 3000 was a fun series geared towards wrestling fans. Its two best (and most memorable) entries are its longest: "Coming of Munihausen", and the even worse(!) "A sorcerer, a demon, and Emeralds".
- William Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Nights Dream ends with a bumbling theatre troupe that plans to perform a version of "Pyramus and Thisbe" for Duke Theseus, his new wife Hippolyta the Queen of the Amazons, and some guests. The play is an extreme example of So Bad It's Good; meanwhile, the royal couple and their guests mercilessly riff on it. (It should be mentioned that it wasn't taboo to talk during the play in Shakespeare's time; and also that "Pyramus and Thisbe" had been adapted for the stage several times, always poorly.) Authors MS Ting Shakespeare fanfic often use Theseus and Hippolyta.
- The Livejournal pages heartless_fics and snakesonasora are dedicated to the MSTing of Kingdom Hearts fics. The two most famous fics are "Naga Eyes", AKA "Snakes on a Sora", which has a naga Riku horribly raping Sora, and "Immortality In Fickle Affection", AKA the Kooshball Penis Hydra Fic. More information on both here.
- MST3K Presents: Detective is an Interactive Fiction example
- This site, particularly this mocked story, is a good example of how not to write an MST.
- Escapist Magazine has Unskippable, which is pretty much Mystery Science Theater 3000 with game intros and no silhouettes. "It's zombies, right?"
- Retsupurae is this for LPs.
- A brand-new Pokémon community was just created recently. It goes by the rather unimaginative name "Sporkémon" and can be found here.
- Broken Pixels, a Too Good to Last series on 1UP.com where three guys would play bad video games for comedic value. Features Seanbaby.
- Broken Pixels has received a spiritual successor of sorts called Shame Night, a live Ustream show shown every Friday.
- But now, Retsupurae started making fun of bad games in longplay videos.
- rt_rocket is a LJ that, although originally meant for something else, now does sporkings of Earthbound and Kingdom Hearts fanfiction as riffed by Earthbound and Sonic the Hedgehog fancharacters, and sometimes even the MST-writers themselves. Has a lot of injokes and can be a bit confusing sometimes because of up to five people and their characters bickering, and some definite OOC-ness if a canon character joins the ranks, but worth it.
- Most of FoxTrax's DeviantArt page contains MST's for Sonic the Hedgehog.
- Two Best Friends Play from theswitcher features two best friends playing games with their insult-exchanging commentary over it.
- Any given Let's Play might be this, depending on the player's opinion of the game and the overall tone of their LPs. Pokecapn and his crew (whether it's all four guys together or just any combination thereof) tend to choose games that are ripe for this sort of treatment, so naturally it's going to happen.
- There's an ongoing MST of the My Immortal of Portal fanfics here done by G La DOS and the other characters from the franchise!
- The Way of the Metagamer includes a Fake Crossover with Mystery Science Theater 3000, in which the comic MSTs itself.
- SP Pf once had a sprite comic that was named, you guessed it, Mystery Comic Theatre.
- A number of webcomics MSTed themselves in the 2001 MST3Keenevent. (Note that most, if not all, of the links on that page are defunct.)
- In Homestuck, Dirk MSTs a Pony Pals book. As the story goes on, he starts going Off the Rails, blacking out and rewriting entire chapters, keeping only the chapter titles. According to Jane, it becomes 'a tough, emotionally draining read. But it's cathartic, in all the worst ways possible.'
- Machinima Commentaries does this for Machinima, although the MS Ters are not assuming characters.
- Another non-fanfic example: the Whateley Universe now has a story "Tales of the MCO", in which the students are watching the aforesaid anti-mutant show and MS Ting it the whole time.
- The Kimbettes MSTed the first assembly of the Fall '06 term.
What do we do with witches?
We burn them! Sorry Nikki!
- The Sturgeon Awards has its own MST of Obama Admits He Is A Muslim.
- Linkara from Atop the Fourth Wall does this often while reading the comic being reviewed aloud to the viewer. It's a very common style on That Guy With The Glasses, as they're all fans of Mystery Science Theatre.
- MSTs are the main attraction on the blog The Half World.
- The Bongo Comics Simpsons series had a B-story where Bart and his friends turn up for the latest in the Space Mutants franchise, only for the movie to put on an old Troy Maclure film called Gladys the Groovy Mule. Bart and friends even cast distinctive silhouettes in the first row while they snark.
- Mystery Fiction Theater N is currently riffing Faithful Hearts by legendary Suethor DisneyFan01. They may eventually do the retreaded version Faith of the Heart, but haven't decided yet.
- When the Powerpuff Girls were reluctantly forced by the Professor to watch an old silent film in an old revival theater, they began to spout wisecracks and make fun of of the movie. They even sit in the same position at the same silhouette angle of MST3K.
- The MSTing of the Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers Fanfic Under the Bridge is quite an unusual one. Not only is a very good and famous story MSTed, but one of the two writers of the MSTing is also the author of the story itself.
- MSTF is an annual event at Botcon, a big Transformers convention, which involves giving the MST3K treatment to Transformers: The Movie, and in later years various other episodes of Transformers.
- The 1988 Mighty Mouse episode "Mighty's Tone Poem" had the hero making four of his arch-foes watch his home movies of clips from first season episodes. As the film rolls, they make commentary on it:
Oil Can Harry: I'd walk out of this movie on an airplane!
Petey Pate: I've seen detergents that left a better film than this!
The Cow: If this were any more of a dog, it'd have fleas!
- The My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic fanfic Past Sins is getting its original version riffed here. And just so everyone knows, the author himself granted permission to let the original version get riffed, and joined in.
- The Family Guy episode "New Kidney in Town" has Peter, Quagmire, and Joe watching Charles in Charge on a TV at the Drunken Clam and riffing over the show's intro in this manner.