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Series: BattleBots

BattleBots is a popular show about fighting robots that was aired on Comedy Central for 5 seasons from 2000 until 2002, and later revived as a YouTube-exclusive series of episodes covering the 2009 collegiate tournament. The show is an American version of Robot Wars, which makes sense since they both share a common ancestor in the original Robot Wars competitions in the United States during the early and mid 1990's

It was hosted in the first two seasons by Bil Dwyer and Sean Salisbury. In the third season Sean was replaced by Tim Green.


This show provides examples of:

  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Walkers. Tracked robots to a lesser extent (one side always seemed to give out or rip, leaving the robot going in circles). Mechadon and Snake, two robots that competed in the early seasons (and built by the same guy, too), are excellent examples.
    • Many weapon designs fell into this category as well. Those spikey drop-hammers, toothed grills and even axle-spikes looked very fearsome and would reek havoc against humans; since the show wasn't "Robots Vs. Humans", and the other robots usually had some level of armor plating, they usually proved slightly less effective.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Wedges. Voltronic in particular screams this trope. Its weapon was a slow lifting arm that had small spikes pop out from the bottom when it grabbed something. It would then carry the opponent around, with them unable to retaliate because their wheels weren't touching anything. Voltronic won most of its fights by doing this, even after a rule was added stating robots could not "pin" another for more than 30 seconds: If the trapped robot could still move, they had to let go.
    • In an arena where the most guaranteed win is to hold your opponent under a giant hammer, heavily-armored non-offensive designs seem a lot more attractive. It's no wonder that Biohazard, Diesector, and and Vlad all won multiple Nuts, while Mechavore and Surgeon General got none.
  • Bullfight Boss: The only real strategy for pure wedge designs. A favorite of the various Vlad designs, who could make it work. Sharkbyte's owner was a bit savvy about it though.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • "HOLY MOLY!"
    • "The box is locked, the lights are on: It's robot fightin' time!"
  • Critical Existence Failure: Usually averted (if a robot was KO'd by taking a lot of punishment, it would usually slow down or lose weapon functionality along the way), but played straight when robots broke down due to internal problems despite looking just fine on the outside. See the season 5 fight between Tazbot and The Ringmaster for a perfect example. Another good example of this is Son of Whyachi vs. Mechavore in season three.
    • One fight should have ended when the loser's robot was disabled; the winner thought it would be funny to smash it to pieces and drop what was left into an arena hazard. The crowd found that... unsporting.
  • Crossover: Several robots from the British counterpart show, Robot Wars, entered Battlebots as well. Bigger Brother managed to defeat The Mauler in a surprisingly short fight and the Razer team built a completely new robot to compete, which ripped Nightmare to shreds.
  • Combat Break Down: Some fights would start out with two sophisticated machines trading shots from axes or saws. Three minutes later, two dented boxes are pushing each other, the weapons having broken long ago. Example: Mechavore vs. Mauler 51-50.
  • Combat Commentator: Two. Bil and Sean/Tim provided banter for every single match.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Hazard vs. Zion in season 5. Despite taking ludicrous amounts of damage, Zion somehow managed to cling to life long enough to send the fight over to the judges. The score? 43 to 2. Arguably a CMOA for Zion, since very few going up against Hazard even made it that far. Out of the 18 robots Hazard faced in his whole career, only six have survived the whole 3 minutes with him (with the one exception noted directly below.)
    • And Hazard vs. T-Minus later in season 5.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: T-Minus beating the undefeated Hazard in Season 5.
    • Specifically, Hazard had won 17 fights in a row and claimed three tournament trophies. 12 of its fights ended in KOs. It's quite fitting that its showdown with T-Minus was the last fight Hazard ever had.
  • Determinator: Zion. Several other robots are also like this.
  • Double Knockout: A lot of robot combat fans remember the awesome One-Hit KO Nightmare dealt to Slam Job in Season 3. What some may forget is that Nightmare broke down when it delivered that attack. You can tell by watching: After the hit Nightmare's weapon slows to a stop, and Nightmare doesn't budge at all for the rest of the match.
  • Drop the Hammer:
    • Quite a few robots, although most used a pointed tip instead of a blunt end. The Judge played this trope straight, though.
    • The Pulverizer, the most destructive obstacle in the arena. If the bot designer does not have a plan for getting away from the giant hammers, then you just know that's where they will end up.
  • Dueling Shows: With Robot Wars.
  • Duel to the Death: Every single fight.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: Mechavore, Hazard, Son of Whyachi, Ziggo, etc.
  • Explosive Overclocking: Mauler 51-50 was notorious for this.
  • Faux Action Girl: Several robots were quite revered despite losing almost all their televised battles. Examples include Mouser Mecha Catbot, Tentomushi, and The Mauler.
  • Follow the Leader: Any time a successful design was created, the next season would have several imitators.
  • Genre Savvy / Improvised Weapon: In Season 5, two of the champions decided to modify their bots beyond their expectations in anticipation of fights ahead. Diesector removed its hammers, added a plow to the rear, and a proboscis to its nose in its fight against Final Destiny. Later on, T-Minus uses an extension of its flipping arm against Hazard.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Bil's segment on how champion drivers display their (Giant) Nuts. Arguably, the Nuts themselves count too.
  • Glass Cannon: Nightmare, whose huge vertical spinning saw was definitely one of the nastiest weapons on the show... but the bot had two completely exposed wheels that were ripped off plenty of times in the course of the show, and to top it all off, its shape made it very easy to tip over. Nightmare was involved in some of the most spectacular knockouts in the history of BattleBots, but more often than not, it was on the receiving end of those knockouts. Nightmare's lightweight companion, Backlash, which was lower to the ground and consequently had better balance, was far more effective and made it to the lightweight finals more than once, winning in Season One.
  • Glory Days:
    • Son of Whyachi dominated the heavyweight division in season 3, winning all seven of its matches en route to a championship. After a rules change forced it into the superheavyweight division, it struggled to replicate its earlier success, losing in a first round knockout in season four and in the second round in season 5.
    • This applies to a number of bots that did well in early seasons but whose designs became outdated later on, such as Backlash, Mauler, El Diablo, Deadblow, and a number of others. Later, even bots such as Biohazard would become subject to this in post-Battlebots tournaments, as fierce young teams with updated designs and more money began taking over the sport on the independent scene.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Son of Whyachi in Season 4 immediately helicoptered into the battle box wall before it could even get out of the starting square. Even its team was amused.
  • Humongous Mecha: While tiny by most "humongous mecha" standards, Mechadon towered over every other robot in the show, thanks to its huge legs.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: See Spikes Of Doom.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Bambino was a robot that never made it to the TV rounds. The reason might have been that it used two baseball bats as its weapons. Bats are fine and dandy against humans, but against robots? Forget about it.
  • Joke Character:
    • Chinkilla, a ridiculous-looking robot with a Jay Leno face. It's main method of attack was flipping robots over by pushing the chin underneath. Unfortunately it was too heavy to enter any of the standard tournaments so it was only seen in exhibition matches.
    • Buddy Lee Don't Play In The Street was a toy radio-control fire truck with no weapons and a Cabbage Patch Kid on board. Amazingly, it did rather well.
    • The Wacky Compass
    • At least the Wacky Compass's followup Son of Wacky was a decent robot. On the other hand, Stewbot, an RC toy truck with a trailer filled with LEGO bricks, was not. It was no match for the Pulverizer.
    • Also Crash Test Dummy, As seen here
    • Will Wright's robot Kitty Puff Puff, a mobile block of packing foam that used tape dispensers as weapons. He had another one that was made out of a potted plant.
  • Lethal Joke Character:
    • Dr. Inferno Jr, to the surprise of everyone including the builder! It looked cute and top-heavy but enjoyed tremendous success thanks to its masterfully designed wedges and locomotive power on par with middleweight robots.
    • Buddy Lee Don't Play In The Street could qualify for this. While it did look like a toy RC firetruck on the outside, in reality that was just a shell and underneath it was a solidly built robot.
  • Life or Limb Decision: Happened to Diesector of all bots. He got his hammer stuck in the slot for the kill saws somehow. Naturally, he let the saws cut the hammer off. Viewable here: [1]
  • Lightning Bruiser: Superheavyweight Vladiator relied on its powerful armor and killer speed to ram opponents into submission. Diesector also qualifies, slightly slower than Vladiator but still pretty fast and with a great driver at the controls. Hazard is also one for the middleweights, what with it's good speed, toughness, and crazy-high offensive capabilities.
  • Limited Sound Effects: The wall of Lexan between the arena and the cameras tended to muffle the robots. To add impact, sound effects were added in post-production. Strange how lightweights and heavyweights with completely different weapons and armor make the same "pop" sound when striking a light hit.
  • Lovely Assistant: Carmen Electra, Traci Bingham, Donna D'Errico, Heidi Mark
  • Made of Iron: Most of the competitors if you take it literally. In terms of taking obscene amounts of punishment and still moving, Iceberg and Zion both qualify for their fights against Phrizbee-Ultimate and Hazard.
  • Man on Fire: Less common than in Robot Wars because none of the hazards involved fire. Still happened a few times though, like in Eradicator vs. Swirlee and The Judge vs. No Apologies.
  • Mle Trois: The Rumbles at the end of each tournament gathered up all the robots that were still working and threw all of them in the arena at once. One Rumble in Season 2 had about twenty heavyweight robots in it. Twenty. In an arena meant for two. It got confusing.
  • Mighty Glacier: Son of Whyachi, at least during season three when its primary method of propulsion was its slow walking feet.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: Season 1 gives us KillerHurtz vs. Mauler. Season 5 offers Iceberg vs. Phrizbee-Ultimate. In both fights the latter uses a spinning weapon to thoroughly destroy the former before the former mounts a comeback later in the fight. The Iceberg fight was especially brutal.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: It'd be easier to name the 'bots this doesn't apply too. Notable examples: Hazard, Vlad the Impaler, Bio-Hazard, Diesector, Nightmare, Deadblow, Overkill, Warhead, Mauler, Techno Destructo.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Hazard again.
  • One-Hit KO:
    • Nightmare vs. Slam Job, as outlined above.
    • Son of Whyachi vs. Nightmare
  • Only a Flesh Wound:
    • In Season 5's Lightweight tournament, Dr. Inferno Jr. lost one of its arms in its very first battle. It covered the broken tip with a wad of bandages and gauze, then went on to win the whole darn tournament with half its weaponry!
    • The same thing happened to Minion losing his saw in Season 1 against Gray Matter.
  • Opening Narration: Previews of the upcoming fights.
  • Scenery Porn: Viewers were often treated to shots of San Francisco and Las Vegas (depending on where that season's tourney was being held) with no real point except to fill a little time. It happened Once an Episode.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: Nightmare versus Son of Whyachi. Unfortunately, operator error on the arena hazards caused Nightmare to miss and be knocked across the arena with some help from its own disc hitting the floor after it flipped over due to gyroscopic forces.
  • Spikes Of Doom: The wall of the arena was lined with them. Several robots used spikes as weapons, but they usually weren't effective. The best moment for spikes was probably the finale of Ankle Biter vs. The Master. Ankle Biter managed to get under The Master and proceeded to ram it into the wall, impaling it on a spike.
  • Stone Wall: New Cruelty, Turtle, Iceberg, ZION, if not in looks.
  • Swiss-Army Weapon:
    • Diesector's jaws could be used as clamping tools, a wedge, or a lifting arm.
    • Overkill's blade was originally intended to thwack bots into submission, either from above or from the side by spinning around and hitting them with it, but its most successful application has been as a "spinner killer". Particularly in the case of horizontal saw spinners, bots have cut through the blade only to find that in doing so, they've rendered their own weapon useless, allowing Overkill to dominate the rest of the fight by pushing them around. This has happened to MOE, Mechavore, Surgeon General, and Warhead, and is a big reason why Overkill has never lost by knockout.
  • Technical Pacifist: Flippers and lifters. Yeah, they're fighting, but they usually didn't destroy their enemies because they couldn't - flinging a robot into the air does a lot less than you'd think.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Dr. Inferno Jr's driver, Jason Bardis, claimed that his robot was retiring after its Season 3 tournament win. It entered the Season 4 tourney and lost in its first battle (and it was never aired, so viewers actually thought he DID retire), then returned in full force in Season 5. See Only a Flesh Wound for what happened next.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: El Diablo vs. Ra, Hazard vs. Sabotage. There was also a competitor named Overkill, but its weapon was rather lacking and it won most of its fights by perseverance and not destruction.
    • Especially when Overkill beat Mechavore and Surgeon General during Season 4 by using the big blade to break their weapons. When the teeth on the blades hit the circles in Overkill's blade it bent the tooth and stopped the blade.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • MOE (stands for Marvel of Engineering) was most certainly NOT a marvel in the early seasons. It was seemingly Made of Plasticine and its weapon was totally useless. Then Season 4 rolled around. Cue MOE ripping the wheels off its opponents and smashing large chunks out of them, advancing deep into the tournament. The only reason it went out early in the fifth season is because it had problems with its weapon.
    • Megabyte, a full-body spinner from the heavyweight division, was eliminated early in the preliminary rounds of the fifth season tournament. After the show's run ended, its builders continued to work on it for non-televised tournaments in later years. A couple years after the end of Battlebots' run, Megabyte fought the Biohazard (who dominated during Battlebots' TV run and is often thought to be the "face" of American robot combat) and completely obliterated it (even worse than Son of Whyachi had done back in season three).
    • Slam Job is another bot whose success in the box has increased significantly after Battlebots' TV run ended. Remembered mostly for being the victim of Nightmare's Crowning Moment Of Awesome, Slam Job is now known as one of the highest-ranked heavyweights on the independent circuit. It even has a victory over the aforementioned Megabyte.
    • The Screws got teeth in season 5, effectively turning them into Killsaws lining the edge of the arena. While they still weren't encountered often, they were much more potent of a hazard than before. Said screws played a big role in the knockout by Ice Berg against Phrizbee-Ultimate.
  • Victory Pose: Most robots are capable of performing a "Victory Spin" by spinning in place. It doesn't really work for full-body spinners, though, and most walkers can't do it either because they would have to turn on a dime to pull it off.
    • Diesector in particular has an excellent victory dance that uses all his weapons to great effect. Bigger Brother and Little Sister also loved to do this.
  • UnCancelled: It's supposed to be coming back sometime in the future... hopefully. A tourney was held in April 2009.
    • Only the College tournament, the High School and Professional [Heavyweight] tournaments don't have a Network yet.
    • The 2009 College Tournament was to air on digital cable and satellite but was canceled at the last minute before airing even a single episode. One episode from this made it to Youtube's pay-per-view service, the rest are sitting in an editing room somewhere.
  • What Could Have Been: The series was canceled right around the time that combat robotics really started to take off on the independent scene, with more money coming into the sport and fresh young builders putting together some truly amazing bots. For example, imagine Megabyte vs. Biohazard, only with the production values of the Comedy Central show and Bill Dwyer's exuberant commentary.
    • Many of the robots that were not finished in time for the fights wound up like this. The Wacky Compass was supposed to have a spinning bar on top of it much like Son of Whyachi but was deemed overweight (even with the weight bonus for walkers) so it was replaced with two static bars. White Rabbit, a superheavyweight entered in Season 4.0 was supposed to have two counter-rotating blades mounted on top of the chassis spinning at 2000 RPM but had a crucial piece missing and was not ready for competition.


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alternative title(s): Battle Bots
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