Riff Trax

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We don't make movies, we make them funny!

Years after Mystery Science Theater 3000 went off the air, show head writer/star/novelist Mike Nelson decided to try and make money off of the franchise that made him famous via bringing back the whole concept of riffing on bad movies -- but with a twist. Using the format of a podcast, Nelson now riffs on big budget blockbusters that studios would never ever let people like Mike make fun of. Hence Rifftrax was born.

Rifftrax is a website where you can buy (for $3-5 a file) audio MP3s of Mike Nelson (and occasionally others) making fun of big budget blockbusters such as Batman and Robin and the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy. Of course, you need to actually own or rent copies of the movies too, since the audio file only contains Mike's witty commentary on the films. (Rifftrax also releases riffs of educational shorts from the public domain, along with the occasional public domain feature; these include video files.)

Synchronizing the video to the riff is explained on the website in detail. There are generally two ways to go about it: either use the special Windows software to synchronize the riff with your DVD, or to play the MP3 and DVD separately with whatever you have on hand. Throughout the riff, a robotic voice called Disembaudio, visually depicted as a robotic toaster as seen in the Trope Image, recited lines from the DVD for reference. If the DVD and Disembaudio say the line simultaneously, you're in sync. Otherwise, pause whichever one is ahead.

Since starting Rifftrax, Mike Nelson has been joined by several ex-Mystery Science Theater 3000 loyalists (Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, aka the second voices of Tom Servo and Crow on Mystery Science Theater 3000) in his business. Guest stars such as Neil Patrick Harris, Chad Vader, Weird Al Yankovic, and Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka have also appeared. Disembaudio will also chime in now and then to crack a joke.

The concept was preceded by a brief series called "The Film Crew", in which Mike, Kevin, and Bill played themselves and were part of a Framing Device similar to Mystery Science Theater 3000, but much more mundane: they were working in the industry and tasked by their boss, Bob Honcho, to provide commentary on bad movies. A combination of Jim Mallon (owner of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 franchise) delaying release alongside Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVDs and budget costs in comparison to Rifftrax torpedoed that project, but Rifftrax lives on and has even inspired original show host and series creator Joel Hodgson to get in on the act and create his own spin-off, Cinematic Titanic...

The site can be found here.

They recently added a program that lets users send in their riffs and Rifftraxs then sells them and shares the money with the users. This program is called iRiffs.


Movies that have been riffed:

TV shows and movies that have been riffed:
Videogames that have been riffed (yes, really):

Tropes used in Riff Trax include:
  • Acceptable Breaks From Reality: No, Birdemic you don't have to show every parking scene, and we can figure out how you acquired snacks from a convenience store without being shown the whole process twice. The riffers clearly subscribe to the theory that a movie is entertaining first and realistic second.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: In their 300 riff.

Bill: Or...when he sits down to a meal of juice, toast, milk, and Trix cereal--
Mike: Uh-oh, where's he going with this?
Bill: And he looks at his bowl of Trix and he says, "THIS! IS! 'SPART OF A BALANCED BREAKFAST!!!"
Kevin: Wow!
Mike: Wow, you pulled it out! Nicely done!

  • Affectionate Parody: The jury's still out on which movies they DO like but the riffs of Road House and Casablanca (the riff of which was marketed as a "Rifftrax Challenge") certainly qualify.
    • The original Star Wars trilogy probably qualifies, too. The amount of hatred that went into the making of the Riffs of the new trilogy (especially aimed at Hayden Christiansen and Jar Jar) seems to result from their love of the original, with them often noting how particular elements have "ruined the franchise."
    • Their A New Hope riff contained the most fanboyish griping of all of them, even over the Star Wars Holiday Special.
    • And they obviously love the Lord of the Rings franchise, with barely any real insults in all three movies, but still make every serious scene into a farce.
  • All According to Plan: Used in the 300 riff track to try and lampshade the fact that the Persian only military strategy appears to be We Have Reserves.
  • All Men Are Perverts: One of their running gags. A sufficiently hot lady in a state of undress will have the riffers abruptly shift from mocking the movie to declaring it the best movie ever made.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Frequently done, Played for Laughs.

Mike (As Shelob the Spider Queen after being mortally wounded): Why? Why? Tell my 800 children I loved them . . . I was so close to curing cancer, give my notes to the medical community . . . I forgive you Sam, and I will pray for you.

  • Ascended Extra: The riffers occasionally take time out (usually while something ostensibly important is happening onscreen) to ponder the fates of an obscure character, such as Porkins, Mr. Ditkovich, "Big Dead-Ass Guy" from the Matrix Revolutions, Rock from Battlefield Earth, Trevor the toad from Harry Potter.
    • More indirectly, Disembaudio, who normally exists solely to ensure viewers have their audio and video synched, occasionally joins in for a brief riff and sings a few of the ending credit songs. He even became, more or less, the third riffer on the Willy Wonka track.
      • This was taken to it's logical extreme in one scene of the Breaking Dawn Part 1 riff, where they spent an ENTIRE scene discussing a painting of a dog face in Bella's room (it was even brought up again about 20 minutes later).
  • Asian Drivers: In the Empire Strikes Back riff, Chad Vader (as R2-D2) tells Luke "You drive like a member of the Trade Federation. An elderly female member of the Trade Federation."
  • Attack! Attack! Retreat! Retreat!: This exchange:

Kevin Murphy: I should really confront the film makers for being in conjunction with the drug industry for this film.
Mike Nelson: What are you talking about?
Kevin Murphy: Oh, come on! Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone?
Mike Nelson: You know what? Maybe you should just leave.
Kevin Murphy: Okay! Fine! I will!
Mike Nelson: Come back here. You don't get off that easy.

  • Author Appeal
    • Mike is practically obsessed with Roadhouse (once writing an entire book using it as the rubric for So Bad It's Good) and film-related riffs often appear.
    • All three are obsessed with beer and bacon, leading to shorts like "Three Magic Words", "As We Like It" and "Behavior of Domestic Pigs" (where at the end, they demand that the pigs "Be bacon now!").
  • Bacon Addiction: a major Running Gag.
  • Big No. For bonus points, the riffers often imitate Darth Vader's Big No from Revenge of the Sith.
  • Black Comedy Rape: In the Beowulf Rifftrax, the Riffers make a joke about a king being violated by a dragon.
  • Brain Bleach. This happens a lot.
    • In the Riff Trax of Attack of the Clones, Kevin tells Mike during the Greasy Spoon scene regarding slovenly cook Dexter, "Mike, I invite you to think about his underpants." Mike understandably reacts in horror and cries out, "WHY, Kevin?!" Kevin subverts the Trope by telling him that so long as he's thinking about Dexter's underpants, he's forgetting the rest of the movie. Mike sighs happily, "You're right. Ah, his underpants..."
    • In the Riff Trax of The Room, every sex scene is greeted with horror, and Kevin's reaction to Tommy Wiseau's pasty white rear end is priceless.

Kevin: DISCONNECT! (electric shock) DISCONNECT! (electric shock) DISCONNECT! (electric shock)

Mike (as the dying Padme): Tell . . Luke . . I loved him . . best.

      • Then three feature length riffs later in Return Of The Jedi as he is leaving Leia after revealing he's her brother:

Kevin (as Luke): Oh and I remember mother loved me best. Bye!

    • In the riff of Order of the Phoenix, really early on in the beginning there was an owl onscreen with a floating letter next to it.

Mike: It's time for Letter and the Owl, rockin' your drive to work!

      • Then, more than an hour later, Harry turned on the radio:

Radio: ..notorious mass murderer Sirius Black.
Mike: So we're makin' "Sirius Black" the "Phrase that Pays" here on Letter and the Owl!

    • "At Your Fingertips: Grasses" infamously posed and never answered the greatest question of our time: "Is corn grass?" Over a year and about three live Rifftrax later, the answer--yes, corn is grass--was given in a title card at the Jack The Giant Killer life riffs. The audience was very appreciative.
    • Early in Batman and Robin, when one of the cops gets hit on the head, for some reason the movie produces a very cartoony "bonk" sound. Kevin, Mike, and Bill commented on the poor man's "coconut head." Much later on in the film, Kevin makes an Incredibly Lame Pun, and Mike smacks him on the head, producing the very same sound effect. Mike then apologizes to Kevin, saying that he forgot about his "coconut head."
  • The Cast Showoff: Usually inverted. Kevin Murphy and Mike Nelson can both sing but they usually get Disembaudio to sing (badly) during the closing credits. Sometimes they play it straight and let Kevin show off.
  • Catch Phrase: Mike's nasal "Hey!" whenever another riffer sneaks a joke past him. (This is continued from Mystery Science Theatre 3000.)
    • Bill has said "Go so to hell." more than once to the other riffers in response to terrible puns.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Anytime a character does this, the guys will pretend they were dreaming about some bad movie the actor was in.
  • Catboy: Bill Corbett is a "sexy kitten" in their halloween costume sketch during their live riff of House on Haunted Hill. Played comically halfhearted by Bill in spite of applause and catcalls from the audience because he "doesn't want to overwhelm the poor audience".
  • Completely Missing the Point/Misaimed Hatedom: The riffers constantly trash Paranormal Activity for not being a thrill-a-minute horror flick, rather than the suspenseful buildup it was supposed to be. Then again, Rule of Funny is in effect, folks.
  • Darker and Edgier: If there's a happy, cheerful song in a short, its lyrics will be immediately changed to reflect death and horror. See the "County Fair" short for a great example.
  • Dude, Not Funny: "The jokes in Memento are pretty rare, folks, enjoy 'em while you can."
    • Kevin takes the time to acknowledge that the flashback of Rosalie being raped in Eclipse is genuinely disturbing.
    • The crew is practically silent for the beginning of X-Men, during the Holocaust scene.
    • This is arguably in play/overlaps with Refuge in Audacity when they crack jokes about Will Smith killing his dog in I Am Legend.
    • Their discomfort is palpable during the scene in Star Trek Generations where Picard reveals that his family was killed in a fire.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: A running gag in their riffs of the Harry Potter series particularly with regard to the continued distrust of the boy that saves Hogwarts once a year.

Harry: I was only [using magic in front of muggles] to save [them.]
Bill (continuing as Harry): Also I've saved the school four times and have a flawless record of being on the side of truth and justice.

Elevator: Department of Mysteries.
Mike: Also hardware, lady's lingerie and blatant traps for idiot children.

  • Ensemble Darkhorse: A gag used by the riffers. They often like to latch onto a character who is clearly not a focus of the story or even just has one or two lines and a memorable name. For example:
    • In Star Wars, they pine for Porkins, or sometimes Biggs Darklighter.
    • In Spiderman (and beyond) they often reminisce about Bonesaw.
    • In The Matrix Reloaded, they wax adoring of the Merovingian's unnamed bouncer, "Big-Dead-Ass-Guy".
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: As in Mystery Science Theater 3000, they occasionally espouse the theory that they've died and whatever movie they're watching is hell.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Discussed in several of their riffs. For example, when Odin hurls Thor's hammer to Earth, they want a monkey to find it.
    • For the first ten minutes of Laser Mission, the guys keep asserting that the movie would be several times better if it were actually "Laser Chimps", as they randomly guessed at first.
  • Fauxlosophic Narration: It's present in some of the shorts, including "American Thrift", "What It Means To Be An American" and "Your Chance To Live".
  • Flanderization: When they don't engage in Alternate Character Interpretation, they often go this route. In their The Dark Knight riff, they actually made the Joker even crazier.

Joker: You want to know why I use a knife?
Mike (as Joker): Because soup tastes better when its difficult.

    • In the Star Wars series, they made Luke singularly obsessed with power converters, and gave Anakin/Vader a pathological hatred of sand (See Running Gag below).
  • Freudian Trio:
    • Id: Kevin (always the first to chime in with a silly or crude joke)
    • Super-Ego: Bill (more measured and often more elaborate riffs)
    • Ego: Mike (the leader, more or less, and a mixture of the two styles)
  • Fridge Brilliance: Sarcastic In-Universe example: jettisoning the Death Star plans to Tatooine in A New Hope to hide them from Darth Vader was an act of brilliance; he hates sand.
  • A God Is He: Mike, Kevin and Corbett ponder if Disembaudio really is God.
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: Their typical variation of this gag is to state that they were in such and such band.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Comes up a lot in many of the older shorts.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Almost by definition. Don't fret if it takes you a while to hear Kevin Murphy as himself and not picture a red gumball-machine shaped robot.
  • Hollywood Tone Deaf: Whenever Disembaudio sings along to an end credits song, most notably in the Titanic riff.
    • The guys mock a group of tone-deaf singers in "Coffeehouse Rendezvous" by singing "I harmonize badly" in set of truly horrible voices. They're otherwise pretty good singers, especially Kevin.
  • Ho Yay: They're not above commenting on it when they see it. And hell, even when they don't see it.

Snape, shoving Quirrell against a wall: You don't want me as your enemy, Quirrell.
Bill Corbett: Now shut up and kiss me.

Kevin: And I especially hate those stupid advertisements for sound tracks where people just make fun of perfectly good movies.

    • It doesn't stop there, though.

Kevin: And all those stupid ads for downloadable commentaries!
Mike: Uh, Kevin?
Kevin: *beat* I love those things!
Twilight


Mr. Rhinehart: You have a problem with authority, Mr. Anderson.
Kevin Murphy: No, I don't! Go to hell!
The Matrix

Sarek: (to young Spock) Emotions run deep within our race.
Bill Corbett: No, they don't-- GO TO HELL, Dad!

The Merovingian: Choice is an illusion created between those with power and those without.
Mike Nelson: I choose to think of it that way anyhow.
The Matrix Reloaded

Mike: If that's |Tom Cruise under that mask, I'm leaving.

  • Madness Mantra: Some of the shorts provide their own, including "Quality freshness and flavor" (Three Magic Words), "Give George some more beans" (Each Child Is Different) and "Mr Bungle!" (Lunchroom Manners).
  • Mundane Utility: Exaggerated after Hermione reveals she's been using Time Travel to pack more classes into her schedule.

Bill: That's the nerdiest use of time travel since I went back in time to post "first" on a message board.

  • The Nicknamer
  • Overly Long Gag: Kevin has a really bad (almost intentional) tendency to do jokes that run on for several minutes. They only stop when someone actually stops him.

Bill: (after Kevin has been making annoying siren noises in Highway Mania) Kevin? Don't take this the wrong way, but I will murder you and smile doing it.

    • A callback to his tendency to do so as Tom Servo in Mystery Science Theater 3000, most notably in Manos: The Hands of Fate when he single-handedly delivers the single longest riff in the entire series.
    • Subverted on the Twilight commentary when Mike starts to praise the plausibility of the love story only for Kevin to hit him with a phonebook
    • On the other hand, he was greeted with praise for his minutes-long "Amway Sketch" during Avatar. Granted, it was Actually Pretty Funny.
  • Precision F-Strike - On the short The Red Hen, the following conversation takes place.

Kevin: I think it was really important to focus on the Red hen. The subtle differences between how the Red Hen and the speckled hen would handle this situation really elevates this short to a new level.
Bill: What level is that, Kevin?
Kevin: Complete dogshit.

Sokka: My grandmother would say, "why is your hair white, young lady, you look so strange!"
Yue: I would say...
Bill: Fuck off, Granny!

While listening to an Info Dump from a Mr. Exposition
Mike: All right, this is good, this is...
Kevin: This is horseshit.
Mike: <beat> Right.

  • Robot Buddy: Disembaudio.
  • Rule 34: Mentioned during the "Being On Time Game" short when a dad eats a banana during an overcranked sequence. Mike and Kevin have to physically restrain Bill from looking it up.
  • Running Gags
    • Llllladies...
    • Schnappi das kleine Krokodil
    • Horatio Sanz's obesity
      • And Jorge Garcia's.
    • Nick Nolte.
    • Similarily, Gary Busey.
    • The WNBA.
    • Rip Torn's alcoholism.
    • Daddy Day Camp.
    • "Sam, You Made the Pants Too Long."
    • "GET OFF MY PLANE!!"
      • Also of note with Harrison Ford, Mike and the others frequently mention Firewall in a grim tone.
    • If a character wakes up from a nightmare, or has a premonition of doom, it's always about a low point in their actor's career.
    • Any scene filled with wreckage or desolation is "Detroit."
    • Any male character removing his shirt is going for The McConaughey look'.
    • Tom Waits, especially if Kevin Murphy's involved.
    • Threats of physical violence for bad puns.
    • References to the Baconator, a sandwich from fast food restaurant Wendy's.
      • Also, Mike's(and the others' to a lesser extent) obsession with bacon.
    • Scornful references to According to Jim
    • References to Kelsey Grammer's car accident
    • "Cerebro?" "Yes, Magneto?"
    • Bonesaw references. Often variations on "BONEsaw is REA-DYYYYYYY!"
    • In the Twilight commentary, Mike, Kevin, and Bill keep saying "Line?" whenever Bella and Edward have a moment of awkard silence, which is at least half the film. This also appeared in The Last Airbender (which featured Harpo from Twilight).
      • In the New Moon commentary, they keep trying to guess whether Bella's next line will be a full sentence.
      • In the Eclipse commentary, they interpret the characters' excessive pausing as contempt for their own dialogue.
      • For Breaking Dawn Part 1 this is mostly exchanged for reminders of how the book couldn't possibly fit in one movie, during the numerous time-wasting montages.
    • Denny's.
    • Black Friday.
    • For the Harry Potter movies, jokes about how mind numbing and soul sucking Quidditch matches are.
      • They do the same thing with Pod Racing from Star Wars episode one but since then, the running gag has been that other soul-sucking sequences are so bad it makes them wish for a Pod Racing scene.
      • The "Wizards are minions of Satan" jokes throughout the Harry Potter movies.
      • Ever since the word "Mudblood" was introduced in the second movie, they go out of their way to make sure this is referenced every time Hermione is onscreen.
    • Pointing out that a sequence in the movie is similar to a video game, except they don't get to play it

Weird Al: (In Jurassic Park, while Dr. Grant is swinging away from the falling car during the T-Rex attack) This is just like Drake's Fortune.... except I don't get to play it.

(From 300)
General Guy: ...Sons to carry on their name.
Bill: Though Johnson's son may not be the marrying type, If you know what I mean.
Mike: He's considering moving to Athens, if you catch my drift.
Kevin: We think he may be a homosexual, if you can read between the lines.
Mike: Yes, thank you, Kevin.

    • In Star Wars Episodes 4, 5, and 6, they get a lot of mileage out of referencing things from the prequel trilogy that change the way you look at the original, including R2-D2's ability to fly and the revelation of C-3PO's creator, and facts about Luke and Leia's parents.

Leia: I was very young when [my mother] died.
Bill (as Leia): Like hours old, but I did know her.
Leia: She was kind but sad.
Bill (as Leia): Yeah, sure did learn a lot about her in those few hours.

During the scene where he gets shot dead: "Oh please, no, not in the junk...well, seeing as I'm nearly all junk, do your worst!"

    • Marry Poppins seems to have just been murdered any time they spot an umbrella without an owner.
    • In their Cloverfield riff, being glad the movie fell into a coma and trying to get away before it wakes up, every time the camera is dropped.
    • 300: Many, many jokes about This Is Sparta and the film's blatant homoeroticism.
    • For superheroes with animal motifs, (like Wolverine, Batman and Spider-Man) referencing the abilities they have that don't fit the motif and (typically unpleasant) abilities/behaviors they lack from their animal motif.

Mike Nelson: Do Wolverines like cigars? Is that a fact I somehow missed out on?
Bill Corbett: Oh! His retractable metal claws can cut through hardened steel. Just like a real wolverine.

      • Especially disgusting with Spider-Man, where Bill complains that Spider-Man doesn't liquefy the insides of his enemies to slurp them.
    • Jack Nicholson's golf clubs.
    • Blatant product placement.
    • Arby's
    • "So you're really going to go with that performance."
    • Any scene of people walking and talking is inspired/directed by Aaron Sorkin.
    • An animal with a high-pitched, screeching voice frequently gets compared to Kelly Clarkson.
    • "Aargh, a (something absurd yet hideous and scary)!" "Oh wait, it's just (less-than-attractive actor)."
    • References to terrible travel conditions that are still preferable to Northwest flights.
      • Northwest may be no more but the joke lives on through Delta.
    • Noting the similarity of film characters and situations to 'an average day at Comic Con.'

Ron: "Third year he fought off about a hundred dementors at once."
Mike(?): "Well, I've done that in the snack line at Comic Con."

    • Any scene featuring Darth Vader will inevitably be accompanied by a reference to his hatred of sand. Example: In the Star Wars Holiday Special, the brief scene with Darth Vader is accompanied by the riff: "I saw a grain of sand in my office. Eliminate it immediately."
      • From Return of the Jedi, "Security is tight after a terrorist tried to smuggle some sand on board. Turned out it was just a dude coming back from the beach." "And now he's dead."
    • If a character reacts with surprise to something off-screen, it's almost always "two dogs humping"
    • X, you magnificent bastard, I READ YOUR BOOK!
    • Noting phrases, technology, tactics, etc we will apparently still be using in the future.
    • Dramatic speeches will often get a "You're not funny" possibly followed by something like "Bring on Gallagher!"
    • Any time a crowd begins shouting or chanting something the riffers will chime in "Attica! Attica!"
    • When characters are sitting around doing nothing, they try to inform the actors that the camera has been rolling for a while now.
    • Whenever someone dies by falling or being launched, the Riffers provide their dying message.
    • "Crebain from Dunland!" a reference to the giant black birds used as spies by Saruman whenever the sky is filled with flying things.
      • The Young America Films shorts have a black bird as their logo, so this gag can be expected.
    • In the riff of The Return of The King, whenever Gollum refers to "The Precious," one of the guys says it's "based on the novel Push, by Sapphire."
    • I'm Harpo, I'm Harpo, boo-hoo
    • In The Last Airbender, they keep making jokes about Aang being a Jawa. Utinni! And arguing whether it's pronounced A-vatar or Ah-vatar. Also whenever water or ocean is mentioned they wonder if it's connected to the water of the ocean.
    • Particularly in their Star Trek riffs, they miss no opportunity to use their excellent George Takei impression, the best instances being when they voiced Sulu's daughter as Takei and rejected John Cho as the new Hikaru Sulu.
      • On the topic of Star Trek: "Spoooooock..."
      • Also, Chekov as an all-purpose Chew Toy, verging on Butt Monkey status, in both incarnations.

Bill: Yakov Smirnov's calling him from Balki's house, telling him to tone it down..."

    • The Kansas City Royals take a lot of abuse. Also, they're a running gag.
    • "Please, call me ___"
    • On the Inception Rifftrax, continuous Titanic jokes are made at Leonardo DiCaprio's expense.
    • Moreso than pretty much all the other running gags on this list, Monty Python quotes. They do it better than most geeks do.
    • On the Eragon Rifftrax, the plot and characters are repeatedly compared to Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and the Matrix.

"Kids are all the same. They beg and beg for a pet and then it gets old and they argue about who has to walk it. Then they end up banishing it to the furthest reaches of the Shire, urh, Tatooine, urh, wherever the hell we are."
(When Eragon and Murtagh are swimming) "If they run into Jar Jar Binks, I'm gonna put my head through the wall."
"Well, if Lucas was directing this guy would now say I've got a bad feeling about this, at which point, I'd put my head through the wall."

    • Mike mixing up the current movie with one they've done before, prompting the others to beg him to take a vacation.
    • Whenever a character in the movie says "What's happening?", Bill will break into the strains of the What's Happening theme song, on at least one occasion being soundly silenced by Kevin.
    • Kevin provides a multitude of vehicle sound effects, to the others' annoyance.
    • A character in a hopelessly remote location encounters a (or several) Starbucks.
    • Any disturbing sexual content will be greeted by Disembaudio wandering in, reacting with complete and utter horror, and running away. Was a running gag within The Room.
    • Kevin singing along to any notable background music, after which Mike and/or Bill threaten him with bodily harm. This is almost Once an Episode when it comes to the shorts.
    • Weirdly, many of the recent shorts cite anti-Semitic propaganda whenever someone starts reading something or learning something, although it's clear that they're just mocking it. (For instance, Willy going on about how the Jews and the Queen of England control the economy in "Paper And I".) Only in Rifftrax can the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" be used as a Running Gag.
    • (I dare you to) Diagram that sentence!
    • Giving ridiculously broad responses to vague statements. For instance, in "Down and Out", when the narrator starts talking about "stumbling over an object, large or small", Kevin gives the examples "Like a bobby pin, or an airplane hangar".
    • Whenever a movie is inconsistent about something's name (or the pronunciation of that name), Bill calls back to Over the Top by impersonating the villain of that film and screaming the hero's name, "Hawk! Or, Hawks!" Even though his name is clearly written on his goddamn truck ("Hawk Hauling"), Lincoln Hawk's name is both said and written elsewhere in the movie as "Hawks". This will also come up on the less frequent occasion wherein a semi truck is prominent in a scene, as in the opening to Fast and Furious.
    • During an unsafe situation, Mike intones "Shake hands with danger!" and Kevin sings the opening part of that short's theme.
    • Managing to shoehorn in singing Lady Gaga's "Poker Face"
    • After one of the three makes a particularly groan-worthy riff, one of the other riffers will frequently come up with an inventive and unique way to tell him to "go straight to Hell."

Bill: Kevin? Get on a plane and go straight to Hell.

      • Occasionally, it will be something about the movie or short they're watching that will be encouraged to go to Hell.
During the Riff of "Join Hands, Let Go!"
Mike: (with revulsion, as a bottle spurts gobs of ketchup all over one of the actors) Eww! Go to Hell, short.
During the Riff of "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones"
Mike: (when Jar Jar Binks appears and starts talking) Go to Hell, go straight to Hell!
    • In Birdemic whenever things get slow, one of them will just yell BIRDEMIC!
    • Usually near the end of a film, one of them will make a terrible pun, and the other two will slap him (complete with sound effects). Often, they comment on how well they synchronized their slaps.
    • Using the lyric "Turn around bright eyes" from "Total Eclipse of the Heart." This one reaches its zenith in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which actually features a character named Bright Eyes.
    • In the second half of Breaking Dawn Part 1, whenever a character would greet Jacob for the first time, the riffers would go 'Sorry about Abduction.'
    • Nicolas Cage in the Wicker Man isn't wearing a suit, it's a sport coat and slacks!
    • "Sorry, Ft. Worth!"[1]
    • They are merciless whenever a movie invokes Let Me Tell You a Story, only to fail to live up to the tightness of narrative that device implies.

"Remember, Santa is telling this story to the kids on the beach."
"And then, children, executive producer Armand Cerani hired Barry Mahon to direct. Isn't that wonderful?"

"The silver screen cannot contain the heated passion of Twilight!"

  • Self-Deprecation: For professional snarkers, the guys direct a refreshingly large number of jokes at themselves (or each other) for being overweight, nerdy, incapable of holding their drink etc. This sportingness probably contributes to the fact that their riffs never sound truly mean-spirited.
  • Self-Referential Humor: A lot. But special mention goes to the opening of their Highlander riff where Bill and Kevin begin with a generic template of their normal dialog.
  • Shout-Out - Many to Mystery Science Theater 3000
    • Battlefield Earth. Bill: "Psssh. 3000. What has the year 3000 ever done for us?"
    • In Titanic, Kevin's line of "I'm gonna sink this bitch" for Captain Theoden is taken verbatim, at the exact same scene, from way back when Mike and the bots did a short special to look over the movies that were at the Oscars that year (one of which of course was Titanic). Notable for Bill saying in an interview that for the longest time, it was one of his favorite jokes in the history of the show.
      • Reportedly, the chance to make this joke again is what prompted him and the team to riff on the movie at all, as they hadn't riffed on many "good" movies yet.
    • In the X-Men commentary, Bill "Crow" Corbett makes the "Can't we get beyond Thunderdome?" joke from Laserblast, to Mike's despair.
    • On their commentary for The Dark Knight, Bill says, "Krankor?!", an allusion to a villain from Prince of Space, when the Joker enters and starts cackling.
    • There's a scene in the X-Files movie near the beginning in which numerous 18-wheelers pull up, and Mary Jo says, Riding With Death 2: The Revenge of Robert Denby.
    • Revenge of the Sith, when Anakin and Palpatine are sitting in front of the... bubble show.
    • Star Wars Attack of the Clones has Mike saying "Into the Weenie-Mobile" as Anakin hops into a hovercar during the early assassin chase. Its a callback to the same remark in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie.
    • Revenge of the Sith also has Mike commenting that General Grievous "needs a posture pal."
    • In Phantom Menace whilst continuing the Running Gag about certain aliens' notable Chinese accents one of them says (to a robot servant): 'Ahh, thank you, Number One' which is a shout out to The Navy Lark, a common phrase said by the re-occuring Chinese villain.
      • When Darth Vader is slaughtering the members of the Trade Federation, one of the riffers shouts "Macken!!" during a close-up of a horrified look.
    • A New Hope has a reference to the villain of Space Mutiny, one of Mystery Science Theater 3000's best episodes.

Han Solo: Chewie, get us outta here!
Bill: Kalgan, take me away!

Yua: "It is time we show the Fire Nation that we believe in our beliefs as much as they believe in theirs."
Kevin: "I don't believe that you believe in your beliefs. Believe it!"

Kevin:"Oh, come on, what kind of a director would make his movie backwards?!?!?"

Kevin: (as Neo discards his empty weapon during the climactic lobby shootout) "Ugh, you know what message that sends to the young people out there? That it's okay to just go ahead and throw their semi-automatic rifles on the floor like he just did. Well, shame on you sir!"

Logan: "This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard."
Mike: "You haven't seen X-Men 3."

Neo: This is insane...!
Kevin: No no, the next two movies are insane; this one was somewhat rational.

    • Arguably, the ENTIRE Twilight commentary.
    • While passing time during the Pod Race scene in The Phantom Menace, Kevin starts reading from IMDB, to Mike's annoyance. One of the facts Kevin reads off was about the poor box office showing of Barb Wire, which Gramercy Pictures chose to promote instead of MST3K: The Movie over a decade earlier.
    • Lots of take thats at Jar Jar during the first two movies (he wasn't on the screen much for the third). And then in the original trilogy riffs, all kinds of horrible things happen to Jar-Jar off screen and Gungans in general.

Mike: Now eat your fried Gungan.

  • Technology Marches On: Extrapolated backwards in Captain America with a giant metal disc that holds ten thousand bits of information.
  • This! Is! SPARTA!: Mike and the other boys make fun of this trope, especially when they riff 300.

Bill Corbett: Well, I think he certainly proved that THIS! IS! SPARTA!
Mike Nelson: Yeah, his kids make fun of him cause when he's handing out stuff on the 4th of July he insists on saying, "THIS! IS! A SPARKLER!"
Kevin Murphy: Or, when he's giving his car a tune-up and his kid asks, "Hey Dad, what's that small white thing with the metal at each end?" he always replies "THIS! IS! A SPARKPLUG!"
Bill Corbett: Or, when he sits down to a meal of juice, toast, milk, and Trix cereal...
Mike Nelson: Uh-oh, where's he going with this?
Bill Corbett: And he looks at his bowl of Trix and he says, "THIS! IS! SPART OF A BALANCED BREAKFAST!"
Kevin Murphy: Wow!
Mike Nelson: You pulled it off; nicely done!
Bill Corbett: Thank you very much.

    • Later, there's "This! Is! Dinner!"
      • And in the Twilight Rifftrax, "THIS! IS! Forks High School: Home of the SPARTANS!"
      • And in Revenge of the Sith: "THIS! IS! THE TEDDY BEAR PICNIC!"
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: Bill Corbet in the Casino Royale rifftrax said that M "should use a better password than 'password'" when she was alarmed that James Bond used her password.
    • Kevin invokes this trope by name when Barbara is trying to guess Alfred's password in Batman and Robin.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The day after Transformers: Dark of the Moon was released, Mike, Bill and Kevin endlessly tweeted about how terrible it was - and they know they'll have to do a RiffTrax for it. Sucks for them, great for us.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch:

Bill Corbett: Housekeeping, Bitch!

  • Throw It In: If they think a joke is particularly funny the crew will leave their laughter in as opposed to editing it out, sometimes it can go out for several minutes and almost derail the commentary.
  • Values Dissonance: Frequently addressed by the riffers, especially when it comes to women and having a personality.
  • Viewers are Morons: The audience that many of the shorts were originally created for. Some of these include how to draw a rectangle and how to boil water.

Bill Corbett: Should a person who doesn't know what boil means even be allowed near an open flame?

  • What the Hell, Hero?: Generally called out with a "Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen."
  • Where Are They Now? Epilogue: Mike does one at the end of Road House, except it's about all the characters dying in various ways - he even includes such characters as "the man who wanted to try Dalton" and "the man who encouraged fellow patrons to grope his wife". Afterwards he claims he was joking and in fact everybody lived Happily Ever After...except Tinker.
    • Mike tried to do this at the end of Ocean's Eleven, but the epilogue cut him off mid-sentence. Twice.
  • With Lyrics: This is done often in the movie but constantly during the shorts, almost to the point of Once an Episode. Usually the lyrics are Darker and Edgier too. For instance, singing "probably going to die" to the tune of the theme music for Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban or Bill's anti-monkey lyrics from "Monkey See, Monkey Do: Verbs".

From the short "County Fair"
Singing Narrator: The ferris wheel goes around and around
Around and around like the merry-go-round

Mike Nelson: It falls to the ground with a hideous sound,
And bodies are plummeting down, down, down.

  • Your Head Asplode: Mike, Bill and Kevin's heads literally explode during the The Calendar - How To Use It short--not because the short was bad, but because the calendar was too damn clever.
  1. From the live version of the short "Flying Stewardess", where the guys apologized for the multiple potshots at Ft. Worth, TX.
  2. One could say he finds Boron boring.