Dr. Laurence Erhardt is a scientist at Gizmonic Institute, who worked with Dr. Clayton Forrester at the beginning of the "Mystery Science Theater" project. He went missing a short time into the experiment (between Experiment #113 and Experiment #201), with TV's Frank showing a milk carton with his picture on it. It was later revealed that he had left on a journey of discovery that had "worked out real nice" for him.
Appearance and personality
Dr. Erhardt speaks with a high, squeaky voice, has curly black hair, and thick glasses. His catchphrase was to, after soberly describing a horrible movie's plot or some other dire scenario, cheerily proclaim "Enjoy!" Another catchphrase of his, with Clayton, is to cheerily reply "Thank you!" whenever Joel or the Bots label their invention for the invention exchange as particularly evil.
Little is known of Erhardt's past save that he became a "mad scientist" while working at a zoo; he went mad when, in his own words: "...they promised me students, but all I got were monkeys! Monkeys! Monkeys! So I took off my wetsuit, dropped that hedge clipper, and walked out of that zoo forever!" Any additional details are left for the viewers to fill in themselves.
Eventually finding employment at Gizmonic Institute, he worked with Dr. Forrester to launch Joel Robinson into space, where the pair conducted their movie-watching experiments on him.
When Dr. Forrester took on Frank, Joel asked what happened to Dr. Erhardt. Frank simply held up a milk carton with Erhardt's picture on it saying, "He's missing". While they never appeared on screen together, Dr. Erhardt apparently knew Frank and became aware of Frank and Clayton's eventual bond as a team. Similarly, Dr. Erhardt knew and recognized both Kinga Forrester and Max when he visited Moon 13.
Years later, Dr. Erhardt visited Moon 13 in Dr. Forrester's old spaceship The Pretty Lady. He stated that he had been on a journey of self-discovery. He also revealed that he had acquired Dr. Forrester and TV Frank's physical remains from the Gizmonic Institute, and intended to fulfill Clayton's wishes of having his ashes scattered while the song "Idiot Control Now" was played.
- Dr. Erhardt is portrayed by original cast member and writer Josh Weinstein, who was also the original voice of Tom Servo.
- Weinstein has stated that he adopted Erhardt's high-pitched voice to differentiate it from Tom Servo's deep voice, as well as the deeper voice that Trace Beaulieu was using for Dr. Forrester.
- According to Weinstein, Dr. Erhardt's name was inspired by that of Werner Erhard, the founder of EST. This was intending as a subtle jab at some other members of the Minnesota stand-up comedy community who were members of EST.
- Dr. Forrester and Dr. Erhardt first appeared outside the opening credits in episode #K06, during the show's original season on KTMA TV23.
- Dr. Erhardt was referred to in Experiment #313 - Earth vs the Spider when Joel identified one of the Spider's victims as resembling Dr. Erhardt. He joked "So THAT'S what happened to him!"
- The more than 28-year gap between appearances is the longest for any Mystery Science Theater 3000 character.
|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|