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." These anecdotes may not be genuine, as Forrester can be considered an occasionally unreliable source.
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."
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.
In Experiment #414 Tormented, Dr. Forrester expressed happiness that the Seattle Mariners had won a baseball game, indicating that he had become a fan of that team at some point.
The MST3K Years
While working at Gizmonic Institute, Forrester and Erhardt (later TV's Frank) sent Joel (and later Mike) cheesy movies which the subject was forced to watch, in order to find a movie that would drive people mad and allow him to take over the world. In response, Joel built several robot friends to keep him company, and keep himself from being driven mad. Joel, Crow T. Robot, and Tom Servo mocked each of the movies they were forced to watch, thus thwarting Forrester's efforts (to a degree).
During Joel's time on The Satellite of Love (and for a short period with Mike), Forrester participated in Invention Exchanges with Joel and the 'bots, apparently hoping that Joel would conceive of a new invention 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 end of the sixth season, Frank was assumed into Second Banana Heaven by the angel Torgo the White. In the seventh season, Pearl Forrester (Mary Jo Pehl) joined her son Clayton to "help" him. She eventually took over the experiment herself.
Clayton's last appearance in a full episode was Laserblast (Episode #706), where he announces that his funding has been cut, causing him to pack up Deep 13 and cut loose the Satellite of Love. The end of the episode is a parody of 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which an old Clayton tries to reach a monolith-like giant videocassette labeled "The Worst Film Ever Made". In the final scene, he is reborn as a star child. When Pearl muses about another chance to raise her son, he utters his final words of the Comedy Central series: "Oh, poopie."
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. Lawrence Erhardt
While seemingly Dr. Forrester's equal (as they both claimed to be doctors), Larry often played a subservient role to Clayton. The two appeared to have a certain level of mutual respect, though Dr. Forrester never seemed especially troubled by Larry's unexplained disappearance (as he may have been responsible for it).
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 for good, 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 nature of Dr. Forrester's relationship with his daughter has yet to be established. It is unclear who her mother was, or what role Clayton played in the raising of Kinga.
If viewers assume that Clayton and Kinga are roughly the same age as the actors who play them, then Kinga would have been born when Clayton was in his early 20s, and she would have been pre-adolescent when Clayton isolated himself and began his experiment.
When the show moved to The Sci-Fi Channel and the characters were (at the start of Season Eight) existing in the future year of 2525, it was revealed that although Pearl had intended to do a better job in 1995 of raising Clayton properly the second time around, she murdered him in his youth as his twisted personality manifested once again (because of her bad mothering). When the SOL crew returned to the 20th century, it was at the same time they had left it, i.e. at the end of Episode #706 (roughly the mid-1990s), which would mean that a second Pearl and a baby Clayton were still alive at that time.
Viewers can assume that the time-traveling Pearl would be cautious (since she had advised Mike on the danger of time travel paradoxes before), and because she was now the de-facto ruler of a distant peasant-inhabited country she would be unlikely to have any contact with the other Pearl and Clayton. However, this potential paradox not yet been addressed.
|Principal||Dr. Clayton Forrester • Dr. Laurence Erhardt • TV's Frank • Pearl Forrester • Professor Bobo • Brain Guy • Kinga Forrester • Max|
|Secondary||Gerry and Sylvia • Dr. Peanut • The Observers • Synthia • Ardy • Skeleton Crew|
|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|