The show began on September 12, 2007 with Michael Riley and Chris McClain. The two would be the only members of the first season to do the show. In the second season, regular cast members Taylor Scheid and Dane Forgione debuted. They would remain the main four cast members of the show for around a year.
In 2009, Michael would move 1,200 miles to Austin, Texas where the show would remain for three years. In that three years, many cast members came and went. Near the end of 2011, Michael announced his return to Ohio with the 200th episode of the show. In March, Michael did move back and the show has remained in Ohio ever since.
Michael was the main host of the show from 2007 through 2013. In 2013, Michael stepped down as regular host to become part of the regular host rotation. The regular host rotation has since been done away with, and Michael has returned to his regular duties as host, occasionally having someone else sub in for him while he participates as a regular.
The show has a storied live history as well. The first broadcasted live episode was a benefit to help the Staten Island Academy of Performing Arts, which was a success. Live shows were sporadic, but became the normal around Christmas of 2011, and the show remained broadcasted live for roughly three-and-a-half years following. In 2012, the show premiered on Geek Juice. In 2014, Michael announced that the live shows would be cut back to every once in a while, and the show would be pre-recorded again for the first time since 2011. The first episode of the show not to be broadcasted live in this era of the show would be episode #320. However, two years later, the show would return to the live format again starting with the 9-year anniversary show.
The show turned seven years old on September 16, 2014. The 7-year anniversary show would feature a new version of the theme song that had been used for the past four years. The show underwent a huge reformatting on January 7, 2015, in an effort to cut broadcasts down to about 55 minutes each. This meant combining music, movies, television and video game news together to keep the show even. Episodes were recorded normally, but were usually edited down to just under an hour for broadcast on Geek Juice, with an extended version, referred to as the XL Version, being offered to Patreon contributors who donate at least $10 a month, later changed to $5 a month. The show was posted to YouTube, which required a new stock theme song, as well as an outro to circumvent placing a copyrighted audio track at the end of each week's show. This practice stopped soon after, but resumed in 2017.
The show made another major change in 2016 when, after nearly four years, it left Geek Juice. This rendered the XL versions moot, and episodes have aired as normal since then. In June of 2016, the show reverted back to the theme song the show had been using from 2010 - 2015, the theme to the sketch comedy show The Edge, though with the show returning to YouTube in 2017, it received another new theme, "Break Your Line" by Amoebacrew. Also in June of 2016, Michael announced he was taking an extended break from hosting the show, with the possibility that he may never return to the host position. Longtime regular cast member Chelsea Tarkington took over the reigns as host starting in July 2016. Her hosting tenure ended in October 2016, when Michael decided he would return to the host chair.
The MentalCast celebrates ten years on the air in 2017, with the 10-year anniversary show taking place on September 12, 2017. The tenth year of broadcast also featured the huge milestone of 500 episodes. Michael has announced that this could very well be the last year as, after ten years and 500 episodes, he feels it may be "time to move on." In June 2017, following a particularly unsuccessful record session, Michael made the difficult decision to end the show right then and there. The final produced episode of the show was the 10-year anniversary show, which aired on the exact date of which, 10 years earlier, the show had begun, bringing a sense of closure to the program, as well as bringing the show full circle.
After two years of dormancy, the decision was made in February of 2019 to revive the show, starting episode numbering from where the show left off, and beginning with Season 38, extended to include the month of March. The show is set to transition from audio-only to a video program by way of Twitch live shows, and resumed production live on March 13, 2019. After a week break from all shows in June of 2019, Michael Riley once again made the official decision to end the show.
- Main article: List of MentalCast cast members
- Main article: List of MentalCast episodes
The AniMentalCast is an animated highlight series produced by Dustin Kidd as a compliment to the show. The show was started on May 12, 2012 when Dustin decided to animate a news story from episode #208. Since then, Mike has sent audio clips to Dustin for use in the show. However, production of the show has pretty much ended due to Dustin's life obligations, so only two episodes were ever produced.
- Introductions: The show begins with the introductions by the host, which is usually Mike, but has been known to be different. Mike will welcome listeners to the show, state the episode number and sponsors, and introduce himself, followed by the introduction of the rest of the cast present.
- Mental News Story of the Week: Selected by the host, the Mental News Story is deemed to be a news story with a weird twist. In later episodes, the cast has acknowledged that Nash Bozard's show "What the Fuck is Wrong with You?" bears a striking resemblance to the Mental News Story, and occasionally, stories that were Mental News Stories appear on Nash's show, and vice versa. On June 12, 2012, it began regularly being a top 5 list, though occasionally may become a top 10 list or even a single news item, whenever necessary.
- New Releases: Formerly covered at the top of each section of pop culture (music, film and television, and video games), starting January 7, 2015, all new releases are covered here, starting with new albums being released during the week of show record, and the week following show record, then theatrical releases, then video games.
- TENDeep/8-Ball Lists: Formerly covered within each section of pop culture (music, film and television, and video games), starting January 7, 2015, all TENDeep (top ten) and 8-Ball (top eight) lists are covered here, usually presented in no particular order.
- Pop Culture News: Formerly covered within each section of pop culture (music, film and television, and video games), starting January 7, 2015, all pop culture news from all three sections is lumped together, with the story deemed the most important being discussed first, and any minor news tidbits being discussed last.
- Homestretch: This was a diversion or game played at the end of the show, usually based on a game show. The segment debuted on the first episode of the MentalCast and since took on a life of its own. The segment was given its own video series in October of 2011 to cut down on runtime for the show proper. The segment was originally retired in December of 2011, but was brought back on a more permanent basis in late 2012, whenever time needed to be filled at the end of an episode. Recurring games on the Homestretch included:
- Press Your Luck/Whammy!: Based on the game show of the same name. Players would answer trivia questions to collect spins to take to a board filled with cash and prizes. Usually, the cast would get upset at having to play this game.
- The Joker's Wild: Based on the 70's game show of the same name. Five categories were inserted on a "wheel" and appeared randomly when spun. Players would then answer questions from a chosen category. This game was by far the favorite game of the cast, and also the one that was played the most. The game became its own show on Mental in 2015.
- Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?: Based on the Facebook flash game. There were eight categories in 4 grade levels. One was chosen by a player, and then players would answer trivia questions. The high scorer answered a 5th grade bonus question for ten times their bank.
- Improv: Improvisational games, such as Scenes from a Hat, were played infrequently.
- Deal or No Deal: Based on the game show, Mike would allow one player at a time to pick a case and then eliminate cases to determine whether or not someone had the top prize of $1,000,000.
- Card Sharks: Based on the "Money Cards" bonus round of the game show, Mike would send one player at a time through Money Cards to guess whether cards would be higher or lower in sequence than the previous.
- Family Feud: Based on the show, the cast would be divided into two teams of two and a full game of Family Feud was played.
- Jokerdy!: A cross between The Joker's Wild and Jeopardy!. Currently, this is the most played Homestretch game in history and is, usually, a tour de force for Jason Amherst who, demonstrating his wide berth of knowledge, usually completely overshadows the other contestants, though Chelsea Tarkington usually holds her own and, when Amherst isn't present, dominates from time to time as well.
- Icebreakers: Following the introductions, Mike will generally ask the present cast what they bought over the course of the week since the last episode. Occasionally, he will augment the question depending on any special holiday or birthday event that took place between shows. Also, occasionally, if some big news broke since the last record, it will be discussed at the top of the show. This segment may not appear in every episode and, since early 2012, has only made the rare appearance.
- Politics: This was a fourth section of the news, following video games, and detailed important news regarding election coverage. The section started during the summer of 2008 and ended the week after Barack Obama became president in November of 2008. Originally, there were plans to bring the segment back for the 2012 coverage, but Michael Riley confirmed this section would not be coming back, as this (in his words) is "a pop culture show, and politics really doesn't have a place here."
- Around the Horn: Based loosely on the ESPN show, a topic was introduced and talked about between the cast, with Mike serving as moderator. After each cast member talked for up to a minute regarding the topic, the topic was then open for debate, with Mike awarding points for good opinions as in the ESPN show. Whoever had the highest score at the end of the segment (which usually lasted between 10-15 minutes) was declared the winner and allowed to pick the topic for the next show. This segment was retired in December of 2008 following the departure of Wyatt Estabrooks.
- Garbage Day: Similar to Room 101, this segment debuted on August 29, 2009, as a temporary replacement to Room 101. With Mike as the moderator, the cast would pick something they hated and wanted Ricky (the character from Silent Night, Deadly Night 2) to kill. The clip of Ricky's "Garbage Day" line from the movie would then be played. The segment retired a few months later to give way to Room 101, but has since been a staple of the show, usually pulled out in a response to a particularly dumb celebrity or news story.
- Picks & Pans: This was a segment that included Room 101, and the Wall of Awesomeness, which was the opposite of Room 101. The segment retired when Room 101 retired, on February 16th, 2011.
- Room 101: Debuting during the first week of 2009, this segment was directly based on the BBC show of the same name, in which Mike, serving as moderator, would ask the cast to nominate something they disliked in the past week, and provide an argument to why Mike should banish said item. After the argument, Mike would then decide whether or not the item would be banished from the face of the Earth, going into Room 101. The segment was retired from the show on February 16, 2011, due to waning interest, but made one-off appearances during the 150th and 200th episodes. The segment returned on February 18, 2015 and was done whenever time needed to be filled at the end of a show. The segment retired again with the end of the original run on the 10th anniversary and has not reappeared on the revival.
- Music: The music section begins with the announcements of new releases from the current week, between the current Tuesday (usually the day of the show record) and the next Monday, and the following week, between next Tuesday and the following Monday. Since September 1, 2010, this has been sometimes followed by a top-ten list called TENdeep (and sometimes a top 8 called the 8 Ball). After that, regular music news is covered. A reformat of the show on January 7, 2015 has made this, as a section, obsolete.
- Film & Television: The film and television section begins with the announcements of new theatrical releases for the current week, between the current Friday (the one following the day of the show record) and the next Thursday, and the following week, between the next Friday and the following Thursday. For the first year or two, TV DVD releases were covered as well, but was swept by wayside in 2011. The segment made its return on July 23, 2013 as "New on DVD and Blu-Ray." Since September 1, 2010, this has been sometimes followed by a top-ten list called TENdeep (and sometimes a top 8 called the 8 Ball). After that, regular film and television news has been covered. A reformat of the show on January 7, 2015 has made this, as a section, obsolete.
- Video Games: The video games section begins with the announcements of new video game releases for the current week, between the current Tuesday (usually the day of the show record) and the next Monday, and the following week, between the next Tuesday and the following Monday. Since September 1, 2010, this has been sometimes followed by a top-ten list called TENdeep. After that, regular music news is covered. Until February 16, 2011, the latest and upcoming Rock Band DLC was announced, but this segment was dropped due to waning interest. A reformat of the show on January 7, 2015 has made this, as a section, obsolete.