Dr. Clayton Forrester is the originator of the "Mystery Science Theater" experiment, which he began with his colleague, Dr. Laurence Erhardt, at the Gizmonic Institute. He engineered the kidnapping of janitor Joel Robinson, shooting him into space aboard the Satellite of Love, then later conspired with TV's Frank to kidnap temp worker Mike Nelson to replace Robinson.
Dr. Forrester (full name Clayton Deborah Susan Forrester) has been a mad scientist ever since his youth, when he was a member of Evilos (a mad scientist version of Webelos), where he grafted the rear end of a dog onto the rear end of a cat "and they all laughed." During his youth, he played the trombone.
Clayton has expressed a fixation with figure skating that he closely linked to his scientific ambitions. He referred to "Oslo...I was found drunk and woozy...scratching the name Toller Cranston into my thigh with a nail." Other pivotal moments in his early life include a 1956 visit to "Sun Valley...where I was found behind the soft-serve machine, drooling over a picture of Dick Button" and a visit to "the Ice Capades, [where] I was hot-riveting my kneecaps to Peggy Fleming's zamboni."
Forrester's high school career was typified by a series of humiliations, presumably contributing to his unstable personality. Frequently teased by classmates, he received a "shameful expulsion" from the Chess Club, suffered a "shameful shower incident" during his sophomore year, got rejected by the Swing Choir, was frequently victimized by book-dumpings after typing class, was forced to do power sit-ups in gym, and received "the revulsion, scorn, and rejection of all the pretty girls." At some point, he was struck by lightning, resulting in the white streak in his hair and mustache. This may have happened more than once.
While earning his doctorate, Forrester took some undergraduate courses in Super-Villainry, and at some point he joined the Fraternal Order of Mad Science. He was a frequent attendee of the Mad Scientist Convention, although he lost the convention's invention contest each year (on one occasion his entry, "the More Painful Mouse Trap," was met only with laughter). In response to his rejections, he has blown up the convention center twice and once used incendiaries to not "actually make the building blow up, it just made it burn...really quickly. Oh it was beautiful."
Dr. Forrester has expressed happiness upon the Seattle Mariners had won a baseball game, indicating that he had become a fan of that team at some point.
At some undisclosed point, Clayton was reported to have had a relationship with Kim Cattrall and fathered Kinga Forrester with her. Dr. Forrester apparently attempted to recruit Kim into joining him in the field of Mad Science, but she refused. Kinga would grow up not knowing who her mother was.
The MST3K Years
While working at Gizmonic Institute, Forrester and Erhardt developed an experiment to see if cheesy movies could be used to drive people insane, thus proving the scientist with a strategy that would enable them to take over the world. For a test subject, Forrester and Erhardt shot Gizmonic janitor Joel Robinson into space (according to the theme song, it was because they didn't like him for undisclosed reasons), depositing him on The Satellite of Love. In response, Joel built several robot friends to keep himself company. Joel, Crow T. Robot, and Tom Servo mocked each of the movies they were forced to watch as a means of surviving with their sanity intact.
During Joel's time on The Satellite of Love (and, later, for a short period with Mike), Forrester participated in Invention Exchanges, apparently hoping that his test subjects would conceive of a new invention idea that was good enough to steal. Forrester also reportedly sold the results of his experiment to cable television as a source of supplemental income.
At the conclusion of the original experiment (due to loss of funding), Dr. Forrester packed up Deep 13 and disconnected the Satellite of Love from its tether to Earth.
Then, in an eerily familiar event, Dr. Forrester was visited by a monolith-like giant videocassette labeled "The Worst Film Ever Made" before evolving into a star baby. Pearl then took possession of the now-infant Clayton, vowing to raise him right this time, to which the baby Clayton responded "Oh, poopie".
In the future year of 2525, Pearl (who had been cryogenically frozen centuries earlier and revived by intelligent Apes) revealed that although she had intended to do a better job raising Clayton the second time around, she "got busy and never got around to it", so she murdered him in his youth as his twisted personality manifested once again.
Circa 2008, an older Dr. Forrester appeared again alongside a once-again alive TV's Frank (with Joel and the 'Bots back on the SOL) to present a seminar on upgrading the MST3K Volume 10 Box Set to 10.2.
In 2018, Dr. Forrester's remains were kept at the Gizmonic Institute (in a drawer, along with TV's Frank's) until Dr. Erhardt obtained them with the intention of fulfilling Clayton's wishes to have his ashes scattered while the song "Idiot Control Now" is played. It was stated by Kinga that his death occurred 20 years prior to Season 12.
In spite of being generally misanthropic and not particularly charismatic, Doctor Clayton Forrester managed to attract some colleagues, and in some cases retain them more or less of their own free will.
Dr. Laurence Erhardt
Dr. Forrester's colleague, Larry often played a subservient role to Clayton, perhaps indicating Dr. Forrester's seniority (since Forrester was clearly older than Larry).
The two appeared to have a certain level of mutual respect, unlike Dr. Forrester's relationship with his later assistant, TV's Frank. This extended to after Clayton's death, when it was revealed that Dr. Forrester had bequeathed a spaceship - The Pretty Lady - to Dr. Erhardt, with the understanding that Dr. Erhardt would take Clayton's ashes and scatter them in accordance with Clayton's stated desire.
By far the longer-lived of Forrester's associates, TV's Frank was generally the target of abuse by his awful boss. Despite this, Frank was surprisingly friendly toward Forrester and displayed some moments of genuine affection toward him. Frank worked for five years with Dr. Forrester, apparently dying and being revived by Forrester several times. When Frank eventually died permanently, Dr. Forrester was despondent of the loss of his sidekick until his mother arrived.
Pearl was typically domineering, insulting and demeaning to Clayton, even though she claimed to have his best-interests at heart. In return, Forrester was deferential to his mother, often eager to gain her affection (which was never forthcoming). He could, however, show a callousness to her, such as his lack of concern when she was ill, his willingness put her "in a home", and his eagerness to transform one of her suitors into the Chicken of Tomorrow. However, unlike his relationship with Frank, Clayton was extremely hesitant to inflict physical harm on his mother.
The full nature of Dr. Forrester's relationship with his daughter has yet to be established. Kinga did not know who her mother was until a visit from Dr. Erhardt, who informed her that her mother was the actress Kim Cattrall. There's no reason to assume that Dr. Erhardt was lying, though it is not clear how he obtained that information. It is still unclear how involved Clayton was in raising his daughter.
- Dr. Forrester may be considered an unreliable source concerning matters from his personal history, as he has been established to be "mad" and has been shown to lie when it suits the narrative he wishes to construct. Thus, his accounts of his obsessions with ice skaters or his claims about romantic encounters may not be wholly accurate.
- The discipline in which Forrester holds his degree has not been specified. It is unclear if he is a doctor of medicine or if he holds a PhD (or both, or neither). He has demonstrated a certain level of proficiency at mechanical engineering, as well as biology and genetics. He also seems to have an understanding of psychology and marketing.
- Dr. Forrester and Dr. Erhardt were first created simply as a visual representation of the "bosses" mentioned in the original opening theme. They were shortly brought into the series proper.
- Dr. Forrester's timeline is somewhat convoluted by his first death, rebirth, second death and, yet, he was alive again in 2008. This makes it difficult to square all the information given on the show with each other.
- The name "Dr. Clayton Forrester" was apparently inspired by the scientist character played by Gene Barry in the 1953 feature film adaptation of The War of the Worlds. The name was also applied to an airship in the anime series Nobunagun.
|Principal||Dr. Clayton Forrester • Dr. Laurence Erhardt • TV's Frank • Pearl Forrester • Professor Bobo • Brain Guy • Kinga Forrester • Max • Mega-Synthia|
|Secondary||Gerry and Sylvia • Dr. Peanut • The Observers • Synthia • Ardy • Skeleton Crew • Dr. Donna St. Phibes • Bonesy|
|Mirror Universe||Mike Nelson • Crow T. Robot • Tom Servo • Gypsy|
|Locations||Gizmonic Institute • Deep 13 • Deep Ape • The Widowmaker • Ancient Rome • Castle Forrester • Moon 13|