Why is the SOL in MST3K shaped like a bone? I know it's not hard sci-fi or anything, but has it ever been explained by the creators, actors, set designers, etc?

The views of the inner architecture do seem to indicate the communications room at one end, then a big hallway, then the theater at the other end, so I guess it makes sense that way. And real satellites and space stations are built with that modular design sometimes too, spheres mounted on long pillars, though I don't think they were going for scientific accuracy. Maybe they were going for humor and a bone was just a funny shape for the SOL, I was just wondering if there was a definitive answer.

Also, I know it's just a show, I should really just relax. But I'm curious.

1 Answer 1


It's a tribute to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

From the IMDb FAQ:

It's a spoof of the famous jump cut in 2001:A SPACE ODYSSEY, where an ape throws a bone into the sky which suddenly changes to a satellite orbiting the Earth.

Joel also explained it in an interview:

One of my favorite 2001 jokes that’s built into Mystery Science Theater that Trace [Beaulieu] came up with [is] when we were designing the Satellite of Love he suggested we made it shaped like a bone. So it’s a manifestation of the frames of the film between when the bone that the “early man” throws up into the air and the space shuttle it turns into in the opening of 2001.

Here's the scene in question (the relevant bit is around 0:52):

Among the other notable 2001 references on MST3K is Gypsy doing a HAL impression which leads to Joel's departure on the Mitchell episode.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .