Formerly a janitor and inventor for Gizmonic Institute, Joel was launched into space by his boss, Dr. Clayton Forrester, and a co worker, Dr. Laurence Erhardt (later replaced by TV’s Frank), as part of an experiment to see which bad movies were capable of destroying the human mind. While stranded in space on the Satellite of Love, Joel built the bots, Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot, and Gypsy to keep him company. In doing so, however, he used special parts that apparently caused him to lose the ability to control when the movies would begin or end.
Though bombarded with many horrible films, Joel tended to take his captivity in benign stride, commiserating with the bots while interjecting clever, off –the-cuff cultural riffs in connection to the screen. Joel Robinson managed to escape the Satellite of Love in episode 512 (Mitchell), with the help of Gypsy and temp worker Mike Nelson.