Mystery Science Theater 3000
The stinger first began appearing at the end of MST3K early in the second season. Almost all episodes of MST3K featured a stinger in the form of a clip from the movie that was just riffed and ragged upon by the robots and humans aboard the Satellite of Love. Looking for any rhyme or reason to the collective entity known as the MST3K stinger is an exercise in futility. Usually, the clip features a particularly bizarre moment from the movie in question, but the quality of bizarre ranges wildly from a silent shot of a contemplative Gene Hackman as an astronaut to a Bigfoot hunter softly saying “I saw the little creature” to a teenage caveman running into a tree limb.
The Muppet Show
Just before the fanfare dies down, the late great and totally lamented 1970’s syndicated brilliance of The Muppet Show would focus on the two old hecklers sitting high up in the theater. Statler and Waldorf always ended The Muppet Show with a sarcastic observation. The post-credits putdown wasn’t known as a stinger at the time; In fact, I’m not entirely sure when such a post-credits bonus became known as a stinger. What is for sure is that the final Statler and Waldorf heckle can now be seen as the prototype for the MST3K stinger and other examples.
King of the Hill
King the Hill did not start out featuring a post-credits resurrection of a great line from that night’s show, but it is now hard to remember when the show didn’t include a stinger. Just about every major character from “King of the Hill” got their opportunity to act as the coda for an episode, and it was difficult to tell while watching the show which particular line would be singled out for stinger immortality following the last chord of the closing theme music. Among my own personal favorites is Bill Dauterive saying “The monkeys must never find out.”
Xena: Warrior Princess
Xena offers a stinger of a different color. The stinger offered at the end of many, though not all, episodes of “Xena: Warrior Princess” are in the form of a crazy disclaimer credit. Examples include “No Dead Amazons lost their lives during the production of this motion picture” and “Although no great literary works of art were harmed or plagiarized, a few thespians stole some scenes during the production of this motion picture.”