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Series: Deadliest Warrior

Gladiators versus Apaches. Pirates versus Knights. Ninjas versus Spartans. Samurai versus Vikings. Zombies versus Spacem... Uh... Never mind.

Being that Humans Are Warriors, there are thousands of different cultures, each with their own philosophy of combat, and each with their own ideal weapons. They are legendary. They are powerful. And they leave only one question to be answered:

Who would win in a fight?

This is the most basic argument to rock message boards all across the internet, and rarely will you see an Off-Topic section on a website without this somewhere. Someone had the bright idea that this would make a good documentary — and it turns out they were right.

Much like the MythBusters (except drenched in gallons of blood), these guys approach age-old curiosities from the standpoint of the scientific method. Fighting styles are brought in, demonstrated, and boiled down into data. Weapons are examined by experts in very tightly-controlled tests. Descendants and masters argue their case about their strengths and decrying the others' weaknesses.

All of the data is then combined into one-thousand simulated fights (5,000 as of Season 3), and from there a single result is determined and recreated in a dramatic re-enacting. All of this can be seen Wednesdays at 10 PM EST on Spike TV, or on the internet at their official site under Full Episodes, should you live in Canada and the USA note .

Had a successful run, becoming the number 1 show on Spike after three seasons, though due to budget and production cost reasons a fourth season was not greenlit.

A video game has now been released, where players will be able to make their own fights between most of the Season 1 ancient warriors and a couple of Season 2's. A sequel has followed as well, with the various historical domain characters from the show being the playable warriors. Chivalry Medieval Warfare has also announced an expansion to its game made with Deadliest Warrior.

Plans for a movie based on the series have been announced.


This show displays or discusses the following tropes:

    open/close all folders 

    A-D 
  • Action Girl:
    • Two of them, in a season 2 episode, when the KGB took on the CIA.
      • Faux Action Girl: The C.I.A female agent got no kills while her counterpart claimed at least 2, unless you see the dead drop spike as a third kill.
    • Joan of Arc was the first female warrior featured on the show and took on William the Conqueror. Joan won.
    • The female vampire from Vampire VS Zombies.
  • A God Am I:
    • Alexander the Great was a self-proclaimed god. When testing their weapons and getting a kill strike, one of the Attila experts quipped, "I think I just proved him mortal!"
    • According to Ivan the Terrible's reading of the Bible, he saw himself as the Archangel Michael and believed it was his duty to slaughter the enemies of God.
  • And That's Terrible: When groups such as the Waffen-SS and Iraqi Republican Guard are featured, the narrator and the hosts frequently mention how despicable they are to get the point across that they're not endorsing their ideology or methods in any way.
    • Very prominent in the Pol Pot vs Saddam battle, especially since one of the weapon's experts was a defector and another had many in his family killed by his respective leader, so they were under no illusions.
  • Annoying Arrows: Though the actual tests constantly subvert this, these are usually played straight in the final showdowns.
    • In Gladiators versus Apaches, an arrow fully impales the gladiator. He rips it out and continues on like nothing. Even so, it still gets the majority of the Apache's kills. It happens again in Viking versus Samurai, Pirate versus Knight, Aztec Jaguar versus Zande Warrior, twice in Vlad the Impaler versus Sun Tzu, Ming Warrior versus Musketeer, and Comanche versus Mongol.
      • Justified in the Aztec Jaguar vs. Zande Warrior's case, as the Aztec was explicitly wearing cotton armor that was proven in the tests to reduce the impact of an arrow and prevent it from being a kill-strike. However, in the simulation the Aztec was still noticeably hurt by an arrow, thus making it a subversion as well.
      • Also, all bows are not created equal. The impact of an arrow launched from a shortbow made of non-ideal lumber would naturally have much less of an impact than an arrow from a yew longbow. The arrows probably wouldn't even be the same SIZE.
      • coincidentally, the cotton armor was made to stop arrows, knights also used cotton to stop arrow penetration as well.
    • Played straight in Persian Immortal vs. Celt, when the Persian bow and arrow is tested, one of the Celtic warrior experts declares that the Celtic warrior will simply pull the arrow out and keep fighting.
    • Played straight with Sun Tzu's Fire Arrows: the fire pit didn't create a very hot zone during testing, the cloth on the arrow actually stopped the penetration power of a typical arrow, and because of that last point, the fire cloth would actually cauterize the arrow wound.
    • And on the other end, where Sun Tzu's armor stopped the crossbow bolt from rather close range. But it was a repeating crossbow that admittedly did not fire with a lot of force, in order to allow for a higher rate of fire.
      • Same episode, Sun Tzu's opponent Vlad the Impaler brought a heavy duty crossbow. Tzu's armor didn't stand up so well.
    • Also straight in the game, where any arrow hit causes little damage unless it's right on the head. Since this applies to all projectile weapons as well, you can end with scenes as unlikely as a ninja doing elaborate acrobatics while two javelins protrude from his body, both ways.
    • In Comanche vs. Mongol, the Mongol takes an arrow to his leather-armored chest, then pulls it right out and continues fighting.
  • Anti-Cavalry: According to Mongol historian Munkhtur Luvsanjambaa, the Mongol's glaive was meant to be used as a tool to kill the enemy's horse and its rider.
    • Ivan the Terrible's bardiche and Hernán Cortés' alabarda (Spanish halberd) are portrayed as this.
  • Archer Archetype: Bows are used by lots of warriors before the invention of gunpowder. Interestingly, archery was a skill both sides brought to the table in the "Alexander the Great vs. Attila the Hun" battle; Attila and company used traditional bows and arrows, although it was the powerful composite recurve bow, while Alexander and his men used the more esoteric gastraphetes (the belly bow) and, if you want to stretch it a little, the ballista. Although historically speaking, the gastraphetes was rarely used and never produced in any significant quantity. The gastraphetes was a bulky and poorly designed crossbow, so Alexander preferred to use archers with normal bows as well.
    • Historically, Alexander also used horse-archers, but to a much lesser degree and was quite rare. Most of Alexander's army were phalangites, basically soldiers carrying a giant 18 foot pike - that would have been utterly useless in single combat. Geoff Desmoulin says they brought in the ballista because "how can you NOT test that weapon"?. The Roman Scorpion also operates by the same logic, being a gigantic torsion catapult. Both, however, were originally siege weapons—and several say that the idea of bringing in siege weapons for one-on-one combat is...questionable.
    • When the Zande experts show off their bow, Max Geiger isn't impressed. "We've seen a lot of bows and arrows." And, indeed, the Zande are the only archers yet to not be all that impressive.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted, armor can make or break a fight.
    • Most warriors in chainmail however have this trope enforced by the testing of butted chain as though it were riveted.
      • Depending heavily on the type of weapon used. Chain mail does, of course, provide little defense against stabbing weapons (even riveted mail, if the incoming weapon has a tip thin enough to slip through the rings). William Wallace vs Shaka Zulu showed that, Shaka's ONLY effective weapon was the short thrusting spear. However, the Viking chain mail held up to a strike from a katana without hardly a scratch, due to the katana being a slashing weapon.
    • In Pirate versus Knight, the Knight armor was effective against Flintlock Pistols and the Boarding Axe, but penetrated by the Blunderbuss. Also, the armor withstood the shrapnel from the pirate's Grenado, though it was noted he'd still be badly concussed and stunned.
    • In Alexander vs. Attila, Attila's leather armor does nothing to prevent Alexander's lance from impaling the dead pig stand-in. On the other hand, Alexander's helmet is effective against Attila's ax, though they don't show any other tests of his armor.
    • In Shaka Zulu versus William Wallace, the Iklwa goes right through Wallace-era mail armor. Then again, as a stabbing weapon, it's to be expected.
    • Excessive emphasis is put on how unbreakable the Spartan's shield is against its opponents. They're right.
    • In Azande vs Aztec the Azande arrows fail to punch through the Aztec cloth armor, which, traditionally, is specially treated specifically against arrows.
    • In Centurion vs Rajput, the Rajput's Katar went through Centurion chainmail like it was a t shirt. Likewise, the Centurion's Dolabra did the same thing with the Rajput's armor. However, it was the Katar and the Khanda that won the match for the Rajput in the end.
    • In Ming Warrior versus Musketeer, the inability of the 3-barrel pole cannon to pierce the Musketeer's steel breastplate cost it the edge over the Musketeer's wheel-lock pistol, and was also a significant factor in the Musketeer's win in the final simulation as well.
    • In the "Back for Blood" special, Samurai vs Spartan, neither warrior's spear could penetrate through the other's armor, making this part of their battle a draw.
      • Strangely though, both weapons scored fairly highly in the simulation, particularly the Spartan spear despite the fact that it was broken in the test.
    • In Comanche vs Mongol, the Comanche's war lance pierces straight through the Mongol's lamellar armor.
    • In Joan of Arc vs. William the Conqueror, Joan's armor blocked William's sword, which had been judged the superior blade in an earlier test. Furthermore, it was judged that although Joan's full plate armor was heavier, it was less restricting on the wearer's movement than William's chainmail (shattering a common Coconut Effect).
    • In Genghis Khan vs. Hannibal, the armor proved to be one of Genghis Khan's winning points, with his armor failing less than Hannibal's.
    • In Ivan the Terrible vs. Hernán Cortés, the results varied; both could penetrate the other's armor with their firearms and Cortés' alabarda was capable of rendering Ivan's chainmail-and-steel-plate combo useless, but Ivan's bardiche couldn't break Cortés' steel breastplate. Armor ended up being an important advantage for Cortés.
    • In season 3, this is averted in a general sense; one of the 100+ X-Factors the computer takes into account is Armor Metallurgy.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Usually representatives will forget this is a "What If" entertainment show and act like it's an actual life-or-death contests. See Serious Business below.
    • Both sides in the Viking/Samurai had some light teasing, the Samurai expert is a notable subversion of this. It's not entirely clear because the guy never cracks a smile when he makes a joke, so it's difficult to tell whether or not he was serious, or just a very good Deadpan Snarker.
      • He was smirking a few times and works as a comedian outside the show, so I'm gonna have to give the edge to Deadpan Snarker.
        EDGE, DEADPAN SNARKER!!
    • The SWAT vs GSG9 seems to subvert this. Both sides engage in good-natured trash-talk, but nothing serious—likely because both are essentially on the same side. As one of the GSG9 experts said, as long as the threat is neutralized and any innocents involved are safe, he doesn't care if it's SWAT or GSG9 getting the job done.
      • Pretty much the same deal with US Navy SEALs vs. Israeli Commandos. One of the Israeli experts states that there is a lot of respect between the two sides, especially since in the real world, they are allies and they fight the same enemies. Furthermore, the show even shows the two sides' experts shaking hands to hammer home the point. It's further reinforced in the Aftermath episode, where both experts repeatedly emphasize the great respect and camaraderie between the SEALS and Israeli special forces.
    • One of the more unfriendly instances of banter was the Jesse James vs. Al Capone. At the end of the pistol whip demonstration one of the Capone guys is actually cursing about "how stupid" a pistol whip is... and then starts swearing up a storm in the Aftermath.
      • Especially notable since the Aftermath specials usually have the experts act far more respectful towards their opponents, and even coming to their defense against viewer questions and complaints. The Al Capone expert is one of the few (if not the only) expert to remain just as belligerent in the Aftermath as he was in the episode itself.
    • Spetsnaz vs. Green Berets. As one of the Green Berets points out "They were my enemy, I was trained to kill them.". They throw around a lot of insults, even Flipping the Bird at each other. And in once instance, one of the Green Berets even admits "Those Russian guys... I'm pretty scared of them." Banter back and forth who is better is normal in the show, but in this episode, it stood out remarkably.
      • Except it was later revealed in the "Aftermath" following that the footage of the two teams was deliberately edited to make them appear more hostile than they were.
  • Ascended Extra: Kieron Elliott, a member of episode 8's William Wallace team, becomes the host of the show's "Aftermath" (an on-line tie-on which answers questions asked by the show's fans).
  • Ascended Meme: People who dislike the show's tendency to focus only on the weapons and ignore other possible factors like training and movement, give it the nickname of "Deadliest Arsenal". This is now the name of one of the achievements in the game for unlocking all weapons.
  • Ass Kicking Pose: Several, but among the more notable are the ones used by the Shaolin Monk and Maori Warrior with (respectively) staff and taiaha, and the somewhat amusing poses assumed by Napoleon and George Washington just before they cross swords.
  • Ass Shove: Where Vlad the Impaler's impaling spike starts - as if being impaled in and of itself wasn't bad enough.
  • A-Team Firing: The Ming Warrior's Nest of Bees fires 32 arrows at once, essentially making it an entire squadron in one weapon. Fitting with the trope of an entire squadron, its accuracy is abysmal.
    • That said, like a few other weapons dubiously brought into the show, it was designed for battles between legions (as opposed to five-on-five squad combat used by the show), to be fired en mas into ranked infantry; blasting a whole lot into a whole lot of people, not carefully aimed at one.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: When testing weapons, the experts will often target weak points or areas unprotected by armor. This often involves an Eye Scream, as seen below.
    • The Samurai perhaps did this most impressively with the Yumi bow from something like 20+ yards, planting an arrow in each eye on the Ballistics dummy. Even while it was wearing a helmet. Double points for Calling Your Attacks. Would have been nice, though, if they'd shown the arrows would be likely to pierce chain mail as well, the Yumi being a longbow and all.
    • In Ming Warrior vs. Musketeer, this actually costs the Ming representative—in a test specifically to see how his weapon handles against Musketeer armor, he ignores this and starts firing at other areas after the first shot deflects off harmlessly, and gets called on it by the Musketeer experts.
      • This probably was not actually intentional. The weapon he was testing was shown to be very inaccurate in the test. The neck shot just above the armor was probably just luck rather than skill.
    • Revealed to be the premise of Vampire vs. Zombies at comicon.
  • Audible Sharpness: Very often.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Al Capone vs. Jesse James, Shaka Zulu vs. William Wallace, Sun Tzu vs. Vlad the Impaler, and Attila the Hun vs. Alexander the Great. All eight incredibly authoritative. All eight incredible asskickers.
    • Season 3 is practically overloaded with authoritative asskickers. Genghis Khan vs. Hannibal Barca, Joan of Arc vs. William the Conquerer, George Washington vs. Napoleon Bonaparte, Crazy Horse vs. Pancho Villa, Ivan the Terrible vs. Hernán Cortés, Saddam Hussein vs. Pol Pot, and Theodore Roosevelt vs. Lawrence of Arabia.
      • Questionable for Joan of Arc since truthfully she never actually fought and killed anyone in battle.
  • Automatic Crossbows: Sun Tzu's Repeating Crossbow
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Occasionally invoked. Some flashier weapons lose to simpler weapons due to their impracticality.
    • The Sicilian Mafia reps have this opinion of the Yakuza's nunchaku. Their preferred wooden instrument of destruction is the all-American baseball bat.
    Zero Kazama, Yakuza expert: "This? (referring to nun-chaku) This is just to distract you while I break you with my foot!"
    • The best example the show has to offer is probably the Rajput's aara, a thin, flexible, whip-like sword and one of the more esoteric weapons ever featured on the show. It got no kills in the simulation and a performance so pathetic it's almost totally unprecedented. The Roman Centurion countered with his own cool looking but ultimately kind of stupid weapon in the Scorpion bolt-thrower, which was described as "machine gun like" by the Centurion experts but actually has a rate of fire of roughly one bolt per minute.
      • It was "machine gun like" in how it was used by the Roman Legion, not in how the weapon actually functioned. The Scorpions were set up in emplacements along the line to fire on oncoming infantry. It wasn't a weapon for hitting individual soldiers, it was more of a suppression weapon to ward off infantry advances, like machine gun emplacements.
    • The Ballistic Knife wielded by the Spetnaz. Awesome, but you have to retrieve the knife once you fired it....
  • Awesome McCoolname: Experts Snake Blocker and Zero Kazama.
    • Also host and computer expert Max Geiger. Anyone with a name like that is clearly either a scientist or a robot.
    • Geoffrey Desmoulin's middle name is "Thor." Additional points for having the initials GTD
    • There's more from Season 2. One of the Rajput experts is named Gugun Deep Singh. One of the Medellín Cartel's experts is named Michael Corleone Blanco.
    • In Season 3, one of the Crazy Horse experts is named Moses Brings Plenty.
      • His other expert goes by the name of Delano "Blu" Eagle.
    • One of the WEAPONS actually gets one of these. The Ming Warrior's landmine has a proper Chinese name that translates as "Underground Sky-Soaring Thunder".
    • For an English speaker, Vlad the Impaler's sword gets a nod. It was called the Kilij, pronounced pretty much phonetically (read: kill-age), and, well, let's just say it lived up to its name.
  • Ax-Crazy: Vlad the Impaler....just, Vlad the Impaler.
    • Both Ivan the Terrible and Hernán Cortés are portrayed this way; Cortés was obsessed to no end with gold, while Ivan was just batshit insane note .
  • An Axe to Grind: One of the most common weapon archetypes seen on the show. Some examples include the Apache's tomahawk, Viking's great axe, the Knight, Vlad the Impaler's, and Cortez's halberds, Attila's scythian axe, the Immortal's sagaris, and Ivan the Terrible's bardiche.
  • Back Stab: Happens on two different occasions in the sims.
    • In Genghis Khan vs. Hannibal, Genghis' last soldier is stabbed in the back by Hannibal himself.
    • In Saddam Hussein vs. Pol Pot, Pol Pot dispatches Saddam's last soldier from behind with his cane knife. The same thing later happens to Pol Pot's final troop, being stabbed by Saddam and his combat knife.
    • This is also Hernán Cortés' finishing move in the second video game; he knocks the enemy down with his close range sword, offers a hand to help them back up, then stabs them with his dagger as he pulls them.
  • Badass: The guest experts vouching for each team seem to be chosen based on how badass they are them self. You've got people that are Spetsnaz, SWAT members, practitioners of all kinds of martial arts and more showing up weekly... and that's not even going into the individual Warriors themselves.
  • Badass Adorable: Claire Dodin. She's just so chipper and cute, even when stating matter of factly that she could put a sword through your chainmail and kill you instantly.
  • Badass Boast: Part of the testing process involves each expert making a Badass Boast for each weapon they demonstrate in order to convince the judges of its lethality.
    • Zero Kazama takes it to the next level in the Japanese Yakuza vs. Sicilian New York Mafia episode. The Mafia rep has just demonstrated the bone-crushing power available from the common American baseball bat. Kazama holds up his nunchaku: "We can do the same thing without a weapon. These? These are just to distract you while I break you with my FOOT!"
    • Every warrior gets one of these at the beginning of their respective episode. For example, the Persian Immortal's boast was being "the precision killer in a massive war machine who forged the largest empire the Middle East has ever seen."
  • Badass Grandpa: Several of the older experts qualify, given that they've usually spent several decades in their field. One notable example: Thomas freaking Bonnano. He has family ties to one of the cornerstone families of the Sicilian Mafia, and knows his way around a Tommy gun. Even though he appears to be about sixty years old or so, he's not a guy you want to mess with.
  • Badass Israeli: The Israeli Commandos.
  • Badass Longcoat: The Jesse James gang.
  • Badass Mustache: Vlad the Impaler sports one. Also seems to be a requirement for a french musketeer. The Celt also sports quite the badass 'stache.
    • One Musketeer was baby-faced. He dies by headshot, without the facial hair to protect him.
    • Theodore Roosevelt's is downright amazing.
  • Badass Native: The Comanche and Apache.
  • Bad Boss: In the simulation for Ivan the Terrible vs. Hernán Cortés, Ivan not only throws one of his men off their horse so he can ride it, but uses another successfully as a Human Shield.
  • Bald of Awesome: Barry Jacobsen's pate is downright Picard-esque.
    • Richard "Mack" Machowicz has one too.
  • Bang Bang BANG: Gun sound effects are usually beefed up.
  • Banned In Britain: Rather understandably, the IRA vs. Taliban episode did not air in the UK. Nor did the "Back for Blood" special which included the IRA a second time.
    • It seems that Bravo cut out the Stiletto test from Jesse James gang vs Al Capone gang and in KGB vs CIA they cut the use of the exploding cigar at the start of the sim.
  • Batter Up: The mafia receive a baseball bat as one of their weapons. When compared to the Yakuza's nunchucks, the judges determined that nunchucks were faster and flashier, but the baseball bat delivered a heavier and more lethal blow, by which we mean it shattered a pig's spine in one hit.
  • Beard of Barbarism: The Celts and their wicked mustaches.
    • The Vikings have 'em, too.
  • Beast of Battle: Hannibal's war elephants.
  • BFS: William Wallace's Claymore. The Celtic Longsword wasn't too small either. A less extreme example with the Rajput's Khanda sword, which, while not as blatantly massive as the first two, still boasted a length of about three feet.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The ending of the Jesse James vs. Al Capone sim.
  • Bilingual Bonus: A small one for Ming Warrior vs. French Musketeer, Geoff did a couple of countdowns in Chinese and French. In the showdown, the Musketeers also speak in French.
    • In Nazi Waffen-SS vs. Viet Cong, the Waffen-SS experts are heard communicating in German during the testing for the Viet Cong's Tokarev pistol. At the start of the episode's simulation, a Viet Cong soldier interrogates his Waffen-SS hostage in Vietnamese, and later threatens him in Vietnamese again.
    • Before testing the Rajput's aara, Sukhwinder Singh, the guest expert for the aara communicates to the Rajput experts in Hindi.
    • In Green Beret vs. Spetsnaz, the last Spetsnaz taunts the Green Beret he just killed in Russian. "I am spetznaz! No one will defeat us!
    • Saddam Hussein uses a few Arabic phrases in his battle against Pol Pot including his Pre-Mortem One-Liner.
    • In Ivan the Terrible vs. Hernán Cortés, Hernán Cortés says a few of his lines in Spanish, including the order to fire the arquebus that starts the battle, and his victory yell after killing and looting Ivan.
  • Black Dude Dies First:
    • Averted in the Green Beret vs. Spetsnaz sim. The third Green Beret to die, and the seventh overall, is the only black character.
    • Also averted during French Foreign Legion vs. Gurkhas. The black legionnaire is the third of his team to die.
  • Blade on a Stick: Almost too many to list, the list carrying the following weapons: the Samurai naginata, the Spartan dory spear, three types of halberds (used by the Knight, Vlad the Impaler, and Hernán Cortés), the xyston of Alexander the Great, the Zande makrigga, the Centurion's pilum javelin, a Persian spear that didn't have a name attached to it, the Celtic lancea, the Comanche war lance, a Mongol glaive, Genghis Khan's jida lance, Hannibal's soliferrum javelin, and Ivan the Terrible's bardiche poleaxe. Nearly all of them proved extremely effective.
  • Blasting It out of Their Hands: Jesse James does this to Al Capone during the simulation.
    • Also done in Green Beret vs. Spetsnaz; the former uses a Beretta Pistol to shoot an AK 74 out of the hands of the last Spetsnaz agent.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Season 2 so far surpasses Season 1 in red goop. A few examples include a head exploding in both the Back For Blood special and the SWAT vs. GSG-9 simulation, and filling a pig carcass with blood to test the Bowie Knife in Jesse James vs Al Capone.
    • They used to just leave the pigs as they were. In Season 2, they FILL the pig with fake blood. Just for fun.
    • The friggin' BOWIE KNIFE. Geoffrey was friggin' SPEECHLESS.
    • The whole "tear the dummy's heart out" thing is probably the winner here, though. Because they tore the dummy's heart out.
    • Katars. "Everything that was inside, is now outside."
    • In Somali Pirate vs. Medellín Cartel, the targets for the long range firearms were rigged with tannarite canisters that would explode in a spectacular fashion if they were hit. Scientifically speaking here was no reason for the dummies to explode into a gory heap other than it looking bloody awesome.
    • Testing what exactly happened when Vlad the Impaler lived up to the nickname with a ballistic gel dummy and a lubed spike.
  • Bloody Handprint: Used by the show as a logo to represent the Mafia.
    • In the "KGB vs. CIA" dramatized battle, a shot and wounded KGB agent leaves one on a door, followed by a trail of blood, allowing a CIA agent to track him down and eventually kill him. Another KGB agent leaves one on his car window while being strangled to death.
  • Blood from the Mouth: A sure sign that a warrior's dead in any given sim.
  • Bond One-Liner: Mafia vs. Yakuza. After gunning down a restaurant full of dummies with the Tommy Gun, Thomas Bonanno takes a flower prop from a vase, puts it in a dummy's shirt pocket, and says "Have a nice day."
  • Boobs of Steel: The female KGB agent in the KGB vs. CIA episode.
    • Joan of Arc in the Deadliest Warrior Legends game, growing at least 4 cup sizes. She also has literal Boobs of Steel with rather form-fitting chestplate armor.
  • Boom, Headshot: How Frank James kills Al Capone. With a WINCHESTER. THROUGH JAIL BARS.
    • Also how the Pirate defeats the Knight, with a flintlock shot through the opened visor of his helmet.
    • And again in Ming Warrior vs. Musketeer; one of the Musketeers gets shot through the forehead with the Ming Warrior's 3-Barrel Pole Cannon.
    • Quite literally what happens to the dummies in Somali Pirate vs. Medellín Cartel during the long range testing, since they had explosives tied to their necks that would go off after a headshot.
    • SWAT vs GSG9. Both sides are police forces equipped with sniping specialists. During testing, two target dummies take rounds right through the eyes. More target dummies take head-splattering hits during the kill-house demonstrations of the assault rifles and the shotgun demonstrations.
    • In Saddam Hussein vs. Pol Pot, Saddam ends the sim by shooting Pol Pot in the head at point-blank.
      • In the video game it's possible to get an instant victory with projectile weapons this way.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: In the showdown between the Jesse James Gang and the Al Capone Gang, Jesse and his comrades arm themselves with Civil War-era guns this way, after apparently winding up in a historical museum... somehow.
  • Brains and Brawn: This is the primary setup for the experts of season 3's warriors: one expert handles the weapons, while the other provides insight on the people using them.
  • Broken Streak: Crazy Horse's loss to Pancho Villa has ended the Native American winning streak, which the Apache started and the Comanche furthered.
  • The Cameo: In Deadliest Warrior: Legends, the arcade mode has Richard "Mack" Mackowitz act as your opponent in the two 'challenge' matches that you complete to unlock your secondary short and mid-range weapons.
  • Camera Abuse: The re-enactment scenes get a fair bit of CG blood on the lens.
  • Cape Snag: In Theodore Roosevelt vs. Lawrence of Arabia, this costs Lawrence the battle, as Roosevelt grabbed a handful of his cloak to immobilize and kill him.
  • Captain Obvious: Armand, whenever he's asked to analyse the damage to a skull subjected to the Chunky Salsa Rule. Frequently lampshaded.
    Armand: "Uh...this guy's dead! I really don't need to be here!"
  • Car Bomb: One of the Medellín Cartel's weapons.
  • Catapult to Glory: William the Conqueror's torsion catapult, designed to launch rocks and diseased corpses over castle walls.
  • Cavemen vs. Astronauts Debate: See Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy above and Serious Business below. You are going to need the MST3K Mantra.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: Season 2 Somali Pirate rep Abdi Ali. Take away the rocket launcher and the accent, and you've got a near-dead ringer for Kanye West.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Thoroughly averted, as every French warrior that appears on the show is described and depicted as extremely badass.
    • In the Musketeer vs Ming Warrior, the Musketeers defeat the Ming Warriors with over 670 kills.
    • Season three has Joan of Arc, Napoleon Bonaparte, William the Conquerer (Yes, he was king of England, but he was from Normandy) and the French Foreign Legion. Napoleon lost to George Washington, Joan defeated William, and the Legion lost to the Gurkhas.
      • The French Foreign Legion were a sort of Double Subversion. They were depicted as extremely badass, but it was also explained that they weren't necessarily made up of Frenchmen, including the former member they brought on as an weapons expert, who was Australian.
      • It was a tie by any mean between Napoleon and Washington, considering the latter barely won with 50.4%
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the beginning of Theodore Roosevelt vs. Lawrence of Arabia, Armand and Mach bring up how Lawrence could run a mile in under 5 minutes. This shifts the X-Factor of Endurance in his favor, with Lawrence getting an 88 and Theodore getting a 71.
    • This occurs as well in Genghis Khan vs. Hannibal; during Dorian's traditional "tale of the tape" at the beginning of each episode, he brings up Genghis' protein-oriented diet and Hannibal's diet, mainly focused on carbohydrates. At the end of the episode, Hannibal's diet gives him the advantage in the X-Factor of Physicality, receiving an 81 compared to Genghis Khan's 76.
    • With Season 3's X-Factors, this trope occurs a lot; another example being in Saddam Hussein vs. Pol Pot, when Mack's usual warrior analysis after Armand's gives us this tidbit about the latter.
    Mack: He has a beautiful vision once he gets into power: "I want to eradicate the past and create a past of my own liking." This is his plan: "I'm going to kill off anyone who knows anything about the past. 'Hey, you read a book? You're dead. You're an intellectual? You're dead. You wear glasses, you're dead.'" That's this guy in a nutshell.
    • In the X-Factor analysis, this idea is what costs him the X-Factor of Psychological Health; Pol Pot gets a 27, and Saddam gets a 46.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: Demonstrated in KGB v.s. CIA with the Dead Drop Spike, which was tested in a simulation of a bathroom stall.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The Aztec specialist swears a LOT. As does the Capone specialist...especially in the uncensored Aftermath.
  • The Coats Are Off: Al Capone, before going hand-to-hand with Jesse James.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Although not aired, the hosts tested Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein's preferred torture methods, which were Electric Torture and acid baths, respectively. Ivan the Terrible and Hernán Cortés also have there torture methods addressed, and in the simulation, Ivan The Terrible is busy torturing a prisoner by ripping them in half with a horse.
  • Cold Sniper: "Maxim", the Spetznaz representative.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Alexander the Great trained in Pankration, a fighting style that allows for everything from low blows to eye gouging.
    • The Israeli Commandos trained in Krav Maga, a hand-to-hand combat system that emphasizes aggression and doing whatever it takes to win, including attacks to the eyes, throat, and groin.
    • The experts for the Ninja and Pirate outright stated that this is their warrior's preferred fighting style.
  • Combat Stilettos: Joan of Arc, in the game.
  • Common Tongue: Adverted. Every warrior speaks the language they are native to, if they talk at all in the episode to begin with. This makes it almost impossible for the warriors to talk to each other in battle, but then again they are too busy killing each other and don't want to attract attention.
  • Competitive Balance: Armored and shielded Mighty Glaciers who fight with brute force tend to go up against unarmored Fragile Speedsters who rely on agility and occasionally hit-and-run tactics. Examples include Apache vs. Gladiator, Ninja vs. Spartan, and Pirate vs. Knight. Arguably, Mighty Glacier Viking vs. Lightning Bruiser Samurai fits the mold, as does the form vs. power matchup of Shaolin Monk vs. Maori Warrior (and later, Persian Immortal vs. Celt)
    • In the game, also. You have Guerillas (e.g. Ninja and Apache) who can't get into a direct fight and have to use their agility to survive, Beserkers (e.g. Pirate and Viking) who have a deadly offense, but less in the way of defense and Champions (e.g. Knight and Spartan) who can dish out a lot of damage and take it, but won't move very quickly.
  • The Conqueror: The show has a few of them.
  • Cool Old Guy: Many of them, including Barry Jacobsen, David Kono, and Anthony de Longis.
  • Cool Sword: Various cool swords are brought out through the show, including the Scottish claymore, the European longsword, the katana, and the cutlass.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: The entire point of the show.
  • Costume Porn
  • Creepy Monotone: The Vlad the Impaler specialists. Both of them.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Played straight and averted with some groups. The Spartan and the Shaolin Monk both had one weapon that got the vast majority of their kills and won them the match. Alexander the Great and the Aztec both had a weapon that got the majority of their kills, but none of the other weapons matched up to the other side in kills.
  • Cultural Posturing: By the bucketload, and source of some of the show's more hilarious quotes.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Sometimes one Warrior just dominates the other. The Shaolin Monk's twin hooks get almost twice the kills the Maori's entire arsenal does, the Apache gets over double the kills of the Gladiator, the Persian Immortal gets almost 700 kills in his fight with the Celt, and the Musketeer follows suit with almost 700 kills over the Ming Warrior.
    • In the "Back For Blood" special, the Spetsnaz slaughtered the Irish Republican Army over 700 times out of 1000.
    • So far averted in Season 3 , with Saddam Hussein's 56%-44% victory against Pol Pot being the widest margin of victory.
    • This trope is likely to become much less common in Season 3 overall, since the sample size for the simulations has been increased from 1000 battles to 5000 battles.
  • Dan Browned / Critical Research Failure: We had an entire page dedicated to it here. There's controversy about the scientific and statistical validity of the tests and whether the experts know what they're talking about. Some people have legitimate complaints about the capabilities of individual warriors portrayed in situations. Others are just nerd raging.
    • As a note, the combat scene follows Rule of Cool and is not really intended to be well researched or informative.
  • Danger Takes A Back Seat: In "KGB vs. CIA" the simulation ends when the remaining KGB agent is killed by the last CIA agent, who hides in his back seat and garrotes him when the he gets in the car.
  • Death by Materialism: In the "Somali Pirate vs. Medellín Cartel" simulation, one Somali pirate is killed when he attempts to escape with one of the Cartel's jeeps that was loaded with cash & cocaine. Unfortunately, he was unaware of the car bomb...
    • In the "KGB vs. CIA" dramatization, all the deaths that occurred happened due to both squads of agents trying to obtain a roll of important microfilm documents.
    • Averted by the 18th century Pirate, who killed the Knight to steal his treasure.
    • In "Ming Warrior vs. Musketeer, a musketeer tries to loot a Chinese sword stuck in the ground, triggering a landmine.
  • Death Glare: In the "Apache vs. Gladiator" episode, expert Snake Blocker is shown glaring angrily whenever the gladiator experts disparage Apache weapons.
    • Theodore Roosevelt give Lawrence of Arabia a particularly furious one when Lawrence takes out Roosevelt's last Rough Rider.
    • In "George Washington vs. Napoleon Bonaparte", Napoleon expert Matthew Cape sports a hilariously angry look when the Washington team's rifles prove more accurate than Napoleon's muskets.
  • Deceptively Simple Demonstration: Many of the weapon demonstrations and tests are designed to be visually dynamic. Weapons are often tested against targets that are braced for impact to transfer all of the weapon's force into the target, creating a more impressive effect. Fragile materials such as ceramic are often used for targets of lighter weapons so that they can have something to break or shatter. Experts of the opposite side will occasionally gripe that the opponents' test makes the weapon look better than it is.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Happens in the "KGB vs. CIA" dramatized battle between the sole female agents of both sides. The KGB agent shoots her CIA counterpart dead.
    • Averted with Joan of Arc vs. William the Conquerer.
  • Diagonal Cut: And horizontal cuts and vertical cuts, usually to pig carcasses.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Zande's Kpinga knife has an obvious twig and berries shape above the handle. Max comments on it and the Coley Mustafa Speaks, Zande descendant says it shows masculinity.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: The show has a disclaimer at the beginning of each show saying they don't endorse the warriors actions or beliefs, but inevitably whenever they test a warrior's weapons, it comes off as extremely cool—even when the combatants are scumbags such as the Nazi SS, Somali Pirates or Medellín Cartel.
  • Double Weapon: As their special weapon, the ninja receive a kusarigama, which has a sickle on one end and an ensnaring chain-link on the other.
  • Drop the Hammer: William Wallace brought a warhammer of impressive size and clout.
  • Drunken Master: In the game, the pirate is heavily implied to be completely smashed, explaining why his guns can be dodged with relative ease. He even passes out after performing his finisher! If the Pirate wins with a normal move it's confirmed that he's drunk. He pulls out a flask/canteen and says "Do you want some?" in a very slurred voice.
  • Dual Wielding: Several examples, including the Shaolin monks and their hook swords, the Yakuza sais, William Wallace's dirk and targe (a shield with a large spike on the end), the Spartan's shield and xiphos/spear/javelin, the Viking experts throwing two full-length spears with each hand, Jesse James' outlaws, and the Musketeer's rapier and main gauche.
    • At one point in the "Persian Immortal vs. Celt" simulation, the Celt warrior uses both his sword and burda club at the same time.
    • And in the finale of the "Shaolin Monk vs. Maori Warrior" simulation, the latter wields both the Mere and the Shark Tooth Club.
    • In the "William Wallace vs. Shaka Zulu" simulation, Shaka Zulu grapples with William Wallace while wielding both the Zulu Axe and Iklwa spear.
  • Due to the Dead: Something to think about: the Ming Warrior would remove the ears of the military personnel that they defeated. One of the French Musketeers salutes a fallen comrade in the sim. It's coincidental, most likely, but it certainly makes for an interesting contrast...
    • Celts collect the heads of enemies they killed as trophies, and Comanches do the same with their enemies' scalps.
      • The Apache got this from the British and the French. A lock of foreign hair was incredibly valuable in colonial Europe..
  • Dwindling Party: This usually happens in most squad battles until only one member of the winning side is left standing.

    E-H 
  • Eaten Alive: In Vampires vs. Zombies, this is the fate of the first vampire to die. The other two vampires sense he's in trouble but they arrive too late to save him, and are horrified to discover his fate.
  • Eats Babies: After the test of the Persian Immortal's bow and arrow, William Spencer Dinnean, one of the Celt experts, comments on how the Celt would simply use the arrows as toothpicks after he finishes eating Persian babies. Needless to say, the Persian experts weren't amused. Considering the Celts didn't actually eat babies, neither were some of the fans. Others considered it a Badass Boast.
    • The show claims that Vlad the Impaler did this and forced the parents of said baby to do the same.
  • Edutainment Show: Whether or not you agree that the data and research are accurate, they still do a LOT in presenting the cultures, ideals, and weapons throughout history. You'll also learn a lot by reading the discussions made about the show.
  • Eigen Plot: the battle videos always play out this way. If one group brings along a rifle, a pistol, a knife and a bomb, expect each of these weapons to make exactly one kill. So if a crossbow-wielding enemy is up against someone with a sword, you'll know the swordsman will win if there's already been a recorded crossbow kill for that side.
  • Elevator Action Sequence: Occurs early in the final showdown of Yakuza vs. Mafia.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Green Beret vs. Spetsnaz, Nazi Waffen-SS vs. Viet Cong, Roman Centurion vs. Rajput, Ming Warrior vs. Musketeer, Navy SEALs vs. Israeli Commandos, U.S. Army Rangers vs. North Korean Special Operations Forces, and French Foreign Legion vs. Gurkhas.
  • Epic Flail: The knights receive a military flail ("morningstar") for their special weapon. Its spikes make very short work of the demonstration mannequins. William Wallace receives a ball and chain, which is used as a throwing weapon. The ninja has a kusarigama, which is a flail attached to a sickle.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: The IRA vs Taliban final showdown takes place in a car-loaded junkyard. The respective sides have a nail bomb and a RPG-7. Do the math.
    • The Medellín Cartel's explosive weapon is a car bomb.
    • In the Saddam Hussein vs. Pol Pot battle, Saddam's crashed car explodes after it is shot at by one of Pol Pot's soldiers.
      • Not a straight example; the car only expoldes because Pol Pot's man hit the barrel of petrol next to it.
  • Everything's Worse With Bees: In Saddam Hussein vs. Pol Pot, after the dummies are shot in a testing range, they're swarmed with bees. The hosts end up judging the damage from a safe distance.
    • They also changed their fake blood formula to prevent future incidents
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In "Saddam Hussein vs. Pol Pot", there's a brief re-enactment of Saddam ordering a chemical attack on a Kurdish villiage, and the Republican Guard soldier he's talking to seems utterly shocked.
    • Hernán Cortés looks positively disgusted when he sees Ivan and his men torturing a random peasent.
  • Evil Laugh: Vlad the Impaler bellows one upon engaging Sun Tzu.
    • Ivan the Terrible lets out a particularly mainiacal laugh in several re-enactments.
  • Evil Versus Evil: A selling point/set up of some of the shows. Mafia versus Yakuza, Nazi Waffen-SS versus Viet Cong (the promo of which says outright they're villains), Jesse James' outlaws versus Al Capone gangsters, Somali Pirate versus Medellín Cartel, Saddam Hussein versus Pol Pot, and Hernán Cortés vs. Ivan the Terrible.
  • Explosive Cigar: The CIA get this as their explosive weapon.
  • Eye Scream: Various experts go for the eyes:
    • In Viking versus Samurai, Tetsuro Shigematsu, a samurai expert puts arrows through the test dummy's eyes. This is then shown again in slow motion. Made worse by the fact that the doctor said that you would still be feeling it, still remember it, and would hemorrhage to death in so much agony.
    • In Spartan versus Ninja, the ninja demonstrate Black Eggs, which would put crushed glass into the eye. However, in the final showdown, the Spartan takes the glass full-on, looks shocked for a couple seconds, then goes on fighting like nothing happened. Annoying Glass-In-The-Eye?
    • In Green Beret versus Spetsnaz, the Spetsnaz sniper "misses" the nose he's aiming for and puts a round right through the dummy's eye.
    • In Shaolin Monk versus Maori Warrior, the Shaolin representative goes right for the eyes with the Emei Daggers.
    "Like mushrooms on a skewer."
    • In IRA versus Taliban, the IRA representative slingshots a lead pellet into a skull's eyesocket. Imagine that smashing into a real, squishy eye.
    • In SWAT versus GSG-9, both sniper rifles put rounds through a test dummy's eyes, similar to the Spetsnaz example above.
    • In Ming Warrior versus Musketeer, the Musketeer expert pierces both of the gel-torso's eyes with both the rapier and main gauche.
    • The Zulu has blinding powder spat into the target's face, which does not impress the judges much.
    • In Joan of Arc vs. William the Conqueror, one of Joan's French knights gets shot in the eye with a crossbow bolt by one of William's soldiers.
    • In Crazy Horse vs. Pancho Villa, one of Pancho Villa's rebels gets shot through the eye with a revolver wielded by Crazy Horse.
  • Fanservice Pack: Joan of Arc in the game inexplicably grows at least four cup sizes, gets incredibly form-fitting armor, and runs around in highheels.
  • A Fate Worse Than Death/Cruel Mercy: In Sun Tzu vs. Vlad the Impaler, Vlad doesn't decapitate Sun Tzu when he has the chance. Instead, he impales him on a wooden stake (I.E. shoving a large wooden stake up his ass, which penetrates his internal organs and comes out his shoulders) leaving him to die a slow, painful death.
  • Final Girl: Averted in the "CIA vs. KGB" simulation, where the female members of both sides are killed in the middle of the fight.
    • Also averted during Vampires VS Zombies. The female vampire goes down 2nd
    • The last surviving member of the GSG 9 is female, however. And then gets promptly shot down by the last SWAT member.
    • Played straight in Joan of Arc vs William the Conqueror.
  • The Film of the Series: Yes, a movie has been announced. The plot is still unknown.
  • Fisticuffs Boss: Due to Combat Breakdown, often times the combat will be determined by the combatants' most close-ranged weapons, right down to knives, brass knuckles and such. Not always, however.
  • For the Evulz: Seems to be Vlad the Impaler's motivation at times in the Sim for his episode, like when he starts the fight by destroying a teapot with a cannon, and just laughs at Sun Tzu.
  • Freudian Excuse: In Crazy Horse vs. Pancho Villa, the motives of both warriors amount to this; Crazy Horse waging war against the U.S. military after witnessing the Blue Water Massacre, and Pancho Villa loathing the upper class after a hacienda owner assaulted his sister.
  • Gatling Good: Theodore Roosevelt uses a Gatling gun in Theodore Roosevelt vs Lawrence of Arabia.
  • Genre Savvy: It's usually pretty easy to figure out who will win the final battle based on what they do during the fight. If one side is happily torturing innocents or attempting to shoot unarmed prisoners, it's a safe bet that side will lose. Also note how the side that is acting in self-defense will nearly always come out victorious.
  • Gold Fever: In Ivan the Terrible vs. Hernán Cortés, Cortés's lust for gold was described as causing him to be psychopathic in his quest for it. In the simulation, after Cortés defeats Ivan, he steals gold from his coin purse, implying that this is the reason for attacking him.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Played with in the "Yakuza vs. Mafia" episode. The nunchaku look impressive, but the baseball bat ultimately delivered a harder hit.
    • Even though it wasn't mentioned in the episode, Theodore Roosevelt was a champion boxer and black belt martial artist, against Lawrence of Arabia, it allows him to stun his opponent long enough to finish him off in the simulation.
  • Good Versus Good: SWAT versus GSG-9.
  • Gorn: While the final showdowns always keep bodies intact, the blood vessels are much less fortunate. The testings also usually result in buckets of mock blood spurting everywhere. There are exceptions to this trend, though, but when they go for the gorn...
    • If you know your Zombies and seen the preview, a really painful looking test is done in this fashion for testing the zombies.
    • The "Back For Blood" special when an Irish Republican Army member's head gets splattered by a Spetsnaz.
    • The "Somali Pirate vs. Medellín Cartel" episode when a Cartel member hacks off a Pirate's hand with a machete before killing him with a strike to the neck.
    • In "KGB vs. CIA": a KGB agent gets half his face blown off from smoking an exploding cigar given to him by a CIA agent, and some unlucky fellow meets a similar fate in the weapon's dramatization.
    • In "Vlad the Impaler vs. Sun Tzu", when Vlad chops off Sun Tzu's hands with his kilij to incapacitate him.
    • In "Comanche vs. Mongol", where the Comanche warrior scalps the Mongol after killing him.
    • The "U.S. Army Rangers vs. North Korean Special Ops episode has a Ranger that gets his leg blown off after stepping on the Korean box mine.
    • In "Genghis Khan vs. Hannibal": Hannibal's war elephant kills one of Genghis Khan's soldiers by stomping on his head.
    • In "Hernán Cortés vs. Ivan the Terrible": Ivan drawing and quartering a victim, pulling said victim in half and dragging the bleeding upper half of the corpse behind his horse for a few moments.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The next-to-last shot in "Vlad the Impaler vs. Sun Tzu" is one of these, before we see Sun Tzu impaled on a stake, and Vlad letting out a victory yell.
    • Another example in "Comanche vs. Mongol", where after the Mongol is killed by the Comanche warrior in a cave, the Comanche takes off the Mongol's hat and puts a scalping knife to his head before the camera turns away. The Comanche is then seen emerging from the cave with the Mongol's scalp in hand.
    • Subverted in the "Ming Warrior vs. Musketeer" episode, when they show an attempted Ming deserter getting his feet cut off.
    • Played straight in Genghis Khan vs. Hannibal's simulation, where Hannibal's war elephant stomps on the head of one of Genghis' troops. We only see the elephant's foot, the other soldiers running away, and a close-up of the dead man's now smashed head.
  • Gosh Hornet: Assessing the ranged weapons for Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein ran into difficulties when a swarm of bees flew in and covered the backs of the final targets. The reason for this, as explained in the episode's Aftermath, is that the artificial blood they've been using was syrup-based, and the bees were attracted to the sweetness. They've since altered the formula to be soap-based instead to avoid another such incident.
  • Groin Attack: During the AK-74 test, the Spetsnaz rep lies on the ground and puts a bullet straight through the dummy's batch. In the Yakuza VS Mafia final showdown, a Mafioso swings straight into a Yakuza's groin, giving him enough time to earn a kill shot.
    • Not the typical use of the trope, but one of the Zande's weapons has a penis shaped blade, and another is essentially a curved steel penis.
    • The Nazi Waffen-SS' Schrapnellmine a.k.a. the Bouncing Betty mine, was shown to be capable of using its metal ball bearings to tear through human groins.
      "It's not exactly anatomically correct, but...his junk has been PUSHED IN." (an understatement, as the mannequin was also cut completely in half at the waist)
    • One of the KGB experts makes a similar claim with the explosive dead drop spike.
    • More than one recreation of ancient combat includes this as a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment (Wallace throwing the ball and chain at an English knight is probably the funniest).
  • Gun Twirling: The Jesse James gun tester does this quite a bit.
  • Guns Akimbo: The Jesse James demonstrator with two revolvers.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: There are several weapon demonstrations that end with a pig carcass or test dummy cleaved in half, the U.S. Army Rangers' SR-25 and the Nazi Waffen-SS' Schrapnellmine being to of the first examples that come to mind.
    • In Ivan the Terrible vs. Hernán Cortés, the sim starts off with Ivan and the Oprichniki torturing a man by tying his arms to a horse's hind legs, his legs to another horse and having them move in opposite directions. When Ivan is ambushed by Cortés and his men, he mounts a horse and charges, ripping the man in half.
  • Hammerspace: Typically avoided; all the warriors' various weapons can be seen strapped to their person.
    • Played straight in the game. The warriors that use thrown items seem to be able to produce them from thin air, the most blatant examples though are the polearms which just appear in the fighters hands.
  • Hand Cannon: This is the actual name of one of Vlad's weapons. However, it's not actually as impressive a firearm as it sounds (and it's the size of a Tommy Gun).
    • The closest the show has had to an actual Hand Cannon was the Musketeer's Wheel-lock Pistol.
  • A Handful for an Eye: In Pirate versus Knight, the Pirate tries this on the Knight when the battle takes to the beach. In Spartan versus Ninja, the Ninja runs up the Spartan's shield and plants a black egg directly to the face.
  • Hero Tracking Failure: The Israelis find themselves on the wrong end of this trope in their showdown, as they spray fire at a running SEAL only for their shots to fall behind him. Said SEAL goes on to be the last man standing.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja: This is one of the points upon which those who say the show gets it wrong frequently lean upon. In response to the controversy, host Max Geiger insisted that the show was based on warriors in combat and not assassins sneaking around.
  • Historical-Domain Character: William Wallace versus Shaka Zulu, Attila the Hun versus Alexander the Great, Jesse James' outlaws versus Al Capone's gangsters, Vlad the Impaler versus Sun Tzu. Also, Hannibal Barca vs. Genghis Khan has been confirmed for Season 3, William the Conqueror vs. Joan of Arc as has Crazy Horse vs. Pancho Villa, George Washington vs. Napoleon Bonaparte, Saddam Hussein vs. Pol Pot, Lawrence of Arabia vs. Theodore Roosevelt and Ivan The Terrible vs. Hernán Cortés.
  • Historical In-Joke: In Theodore Roosevelt vs. Lawrence of Arabia, Roosevelt gets winged by a bullet, but survives and keeps fighting. This happened to the man in real life.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Vlad and Ivan get this big time, going from "tyrants but relatively competent leaders whom their people still respect" to Axe Crazy lunatics and mass murderers For the Evulz.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In the "Teddy Roosevelt vs. Lawrence of Arabia" Aftermath, the Executive Producer of the show briefly talks about as the result as this. He was at first glad for the clear example of Rock Beats Laser to quell accusations that the more modern warrior always wins... only to realize that it would instead provide fuel for accusations of an American bias.
  • HSQ:invoked Very high within the show itself, since the hosts gape and gasp after just about every weapon demonstration.
    • Shaolin Monk versus Maori Warrior arguably has the biggest moment in the series when the tiny dude takes the Emei piercers to a dummy's head. The smallest person to appear on the show goes to town on the poor piece of ballistics gel, putting over a dozen stabs into the face and skull, including a kick, and finally delivers a hit with enough force to remove most of the head. At one point near the beginning, he stabs into both eyes and pulls them out, leaving the eyes on the other side of the piercers for the rest of the fight. Geiger's reaction?
      "Holy fuck, man. What the fuck was that?"
      • This was even brought up in the aftermath, with several comments essentially going "What the fuck, man? Seriously. What the FUCK?" He explains that, after one of the Maori experts declared the weapons little more than knitting needles, he decided to go all-out to give a full demonstration of what the Emei piercers could do.
      • Rob Roy, the Navy SEALs representative, puts the Shaolin Monk representative to shame with his own moment: going absolutely insane with his tactical knife on a gel dummy. He stabs it in the gut and neck Over Nine Thousand times, ends up cutting the head and arm off, and then sticks his knife where the head used to be. He also slashed and stabbed the face apart. There's a good reason Max is left standing stunned, mouth agape in shock at Rob's brutality. He was trying to outdo the similar antics of the Ka-Bar wielding Israeli commando, who had started with a lethal neck strike then continued on for disemboweling.
  • Hooks and Crooks: The Somali Pirates use grappling hooks as their close range weapon.
  • Hope Spot: In the Ming Warrior vs. Musketeer simulation, one French Musketeer is shot in chest, is relieved to see that the the bullet deflected off his steel breastplate and stands back up, only to be shot in the head.
  • Horny Vikings: Refreshingly averted in Episode 2. The Vikings there all have realistic peaked-cap helms with noseguards. While the trailer for Season 2 showed the Celts with horned helmets, the actual episode featuring them did not.
  • Horse Archer: The Huns, Comanches, and Mongols (and by extension, Genghis Khan) are this trope. Coincidentally, the Comanche and Mongol fight each other in the same episode.
  • Humans Are Warriors: The documentary is all about it.
  • Human Shield: In the Yakuza versus Mafia showdown, a Yakuza member grabs a bystander to soak a couple Mafia bullets.
    • In Ivan the Terrible vs. Hernán Cortés, Ivan uses one of his own soldiers to shield himself from a conquistador's arquebus shot.
  • Hypocritical Humor: After the testing of the Comanche's scalping knife, one of the Mongol experts calls the cuts and stabs "nothing more than flesh wounds." The clip that plays afterwards? The pig it was tested on being sliced open, spilling fake blood.
    • In "Persian Immortal vs. Celt", the Persian experts decry the Celt expert's demonstration of an impressive sword strike from a chariot by claiming that they can easily avoid it. The Persian's next two weapons are chariot-based, which the expert plays up by claiming that they can't be avoided because opposing forces will have to put too much focus into getting out of the way of both the chariot and the horses pulling them.
  • Hypothetical Fight Debate: Resolving such debates is the show's entire purpose.

    I-L 
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Gun safety rules will occasionally be broken in the lab, especially when the experts are filmed showing off firearms. They do seem to pay extra attention on the firing range when testing, though.
    • In all likeliehood the in-lab weapons are not loaded.
      • The number one rule in gun safety is to treat all firearms as loaded at all times even if you just unloaded it yourself.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Maori warriors ate the bodies of their dead enemies in an attempt to absorb their power; they taunted their opponents by showing their tongues and making this intention very clear. Vlad the Impaler is also stated to consume human flesh. Subverted with the Azande, who only pretended to be cannibalistic in order to intimidate their foes.
    • The Zombies from Vampires vs Zombies, obviously.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: In the simulations, this is how Shaka Zulu, one of Atilla the Hun's soldiers, the Aztec Jaguar, a Nazi Waffen-SS soldier, Sun Tzu, one of Hannibal's soldiers, and one of Ivan the Terrible's henchmen die.
    • Also how the Viet Cong use the punji sticks in their booby traps.
    • Also a preferred method of execution with Vlad the Impaler.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Generally averted in the final showdowns, but sometimes occurs in the re-enactment spots that are shown during the weapon demonstrations.
    • Happened during the Centurion vs. Rajput match, though; The Rajput manages to chop the Roman's pilum clean in two out of midair with his khanda.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: The Spetsnaz ballistic knife has plenty of reliability issues. It's still a knife that shoots itself.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The IRA use a slingshot, the Mafia use an ice pick, the Green Berets have a shovel, Attila the Hun had a lasso, the Somali Pirates have grappling hooks, and the Khmer Rouge had a cane knife. The majority of the weapons prove to be surprisingly effective, but entrenching tools actually have a long history of use as a hand-to-hand weapon—many WWI soldiers preferred them over bayonets because they did not stick into the enemy.
    • Entrenching tools have been used quite a bit in combat, often in desparation. They have their shape for many reasons, smacking skulls being one of them. It's not so much improbable as desperate.
    • When testing scattershot, the alternate ammo Washington would have used for his cannon, his experts explain that it consisted of nails, chains, and other small metal objects.
  • Informed Ability / Informed Flaw: Many of the dramatizations tend to conflict with the episode's findings; in many cases, weapons found to perform exceedingly well play only bit parts in the fight, and final blows are dealt by weapons that tests had deemed ineffective.
    • Season 3 seems to be better about this, though, with test results and other findings directly playing into the dramatizations:
      • In Joan of Arc vs. William the Conqueror, the extremely long reload time of the crossbow used by Joan gets one of her soldiers killed, and the one-on-one fight between Joan and William was visibly decided by Joan's superior armor, just as shown in tests.
      • In Theodore Roosevelt vs. Alexander of Arabia, Lawrence at one point deploys the "Phantom Army" strategy his experts mentioned to great effect, and Roosevelt's Gatling gun was a key part in the fight, playing to it's advantage against Lawrence's counterpart and it's contribution to Roosevelt's final score.
  • Inherently Funny Words: Admit it, you laughed every time they said "Flammenwerfer" (pronouced "Flammenverfer").
    • "Blunderbuss"?
  • Insistent Terminology: Joan of Arc's inexplicable ability to know exactly what to do in situations she had zero training or experience in is always referred to her "intuition". The hosts explicitly neither support nor dismiss the possibility that she was taking orders from God.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: At the start of the "Nazi Waffen-SS vs. Viet Cong" battle, a member of the Waffen-SS finds himself on the receiving end of this at the hands of the Viet Cong, who have beaten him up and pointed a gun at his head. He is rescued soon after by his comrades, and ultimately proves to be the last man standing.
  • Jitter Cam: Used in almost every single simulation in every single episode.
  • Joke Item: In Deadliest Warrior: Legends, the second video game based off the series, all the playable warriors have one as an unlockable weapon (Genghis Khan gets a koi fish, Sun Tzu gets a paper fan, William Wallace gets a shovel, etc.).
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Averted. The katana is not granted any more special powers than it demonstrates during testing, and many western swords are shown to be just as lethal. Testing suggested that the katana could cut straight through more than one unarmored body in a single swing, but it had absolutely no effect on chainmail.
    • Interestingly, this didn't actually stop it from being a highly effective weapon in the sim itself—it broke 100 kills and even slightly outperformed the Dane axe in its category.
    • It was shut down pretty hard in Spartan vs. Samurai, though. 15 kills, bettering only its Spartan xiphos counterpart which scored 10 kills.
  • Knife Nut: Apaches are portrayed as such. One Gladiator expert remarks upon seeing a knife throw that now the knife can't be used again. Apache expert Snake Blocker insists that Apache warriors would each carry as many knives as would fit on their person; he then proceeds to withdraw several knives from his waistband and various sheaths about his person, including one that was apparently hidden IN HIS HAIR.
    • Navy SEAL Rob Roy fits this when he uses a three-inch knife to completely destroy a gel torso by disemboweling it, cutting off one of its arms, cutting its head off and ultimately leave the knife sticking straight up out of the neck.
  • Knife-Throwing Act: In the "Apache vs. Gladiator" episode, Apache expert and US Army instructor Snake Blocker does a variation of this, throwing three knives and hitting three human-sized targets with center-mass killshots within three seconds before finishing the sequence with a backhanded stab to a dummy.
    • Mentioned to be a viable tactic with the bowie knife, and demonstrated against the pig carcass. The edge is still given to the stiletto.
  • Kung-Foley: See Bang Bang BANG and Audible Sharpness above.
  • La Résistance: Several revolutionary groups have been mentioned over the course of the show, such as the Provisional Irish Republican Army, George Washington and the Continental Army, and T.E. Lawrence's bedouin tribesmen.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: In Crazy Horse vs. Pancho Villa, the first man on Pancho Villa's side mounts a horse and charges at Crazy Horse's entire team by himself, only to be shot with an 1860 Henry Repeating Rifle.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: A few dramatizations would try and give some justification as to why the two sides are fighting, but many don't bother.
  • Licking the Blade: Performed by the Apache after stabbing the Gladiator several times in the throat.
  • Lighter and Softer: Season 3 (when compared to season 2), seems to be more about showing off all their research, without all the cool testing of the previous seasons.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The Samurai in Episode 2. Agile and precise, but armored just as well as his opponent.
    • Similarly, the Vampires in Season 3 are portrayed like this. Superhumanly fast, strong, and quite durable.

    M-P 
  • Machete Mayhem: The close range weapon of the Medellín Cartel; also, the cane knife used by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge was said to be inspired by the machete.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The Ming Warriors Nest of Bees test.
  • Mad Bomber: During the simulations, the IRA members can be heard chuckling before detonating a nail bomb.
  • The Mafia / Yakuza: Episode 5.
    • Also episode 12, the Jesse James Gang vs. Al Capone's Gang.
  • The Magnificent: Several of the historical domain characters, ranging from such as Alexander the Great, Ivan the Terrible, and Vlad the Impaler.
  • Manipulative Editing: In the Spetsnaz vs. Green Beret episode, both sides said during the Aftermath that the episode was edited to make the two teams look more confrontational against each other.
  • Man on Fire: In IRA VS the Taliban, the IRA bring a flamethrower to add a little gas to things. According to the doctor, it would be a nightmarishly horrible way to die—even after you get out of the flames, your bones would still be cooking you from the inside.
    • The Nazi Waffen-SS used a significantly more powerful flamethrower, which utilized tar fuel that stuck to the skin while it burned.
    • Sun Tzu's huo chien, or flaming arrows, were used in association with flammable ingredients such as lard and linseed oil, to light large areas, and soldiers, on fire.
  • Martial Pacifist: Shaolin Monks are said to have taken no pride in killing, and fought only out of necessity.
  • Mob War: Yakuza vs. Mafia. Jesse James vs. Al Capone, sort of. Somali Pirates vs. Medellín Cartel may sort of fit as well.
  • Molotov Cocktail: Used by the Mafia.
  • Moment of Silence: Though the background music still plays, the Musketeers do this for one of their comrades who gets blown up by a land mine.
  • Mood Whiplash: In the simulation, the Medellín Cartel was surely not expecting to be ambushed by Somali Pirates as they were relaxing to some Columbian music.
  • Mooks: Besides the final showdown at the end of each episode, there are also reenactments throughout the running time that show each of the two featured combatants killing enemies that they were historically against in their time period. For instance, Vlad the Impaler is shown fighting Ottomans,the Medellín Cartel is depicted as slaughtering Columbian police officers, and William Wallace is taking down English soldiers.
  • More Dakka: Several of the automatic firearms weapons, especially the Tommy gun.
    • One of the Al Capone experts even derides the Colt Revolver's performance with something alone these lines. "Not enough firepower! You can still show him in the casket."
  • Motion Blur: Used in the Vampires vs. Zombies simulation to illustrate the vampires' superhuman speed.
  • The Musketeer: Not just a musketeer, but a French one to boot, one who definitively averts that unfortunate, cultural trope.
  • Mythology Gag: The Game has an achievement called "Who's Deadliest Now?", which you get by beating Arcade Mode with the Knight, the Viking, and the Ninja on the Deadliest difficulty. Fans of the show will notice that all three warriors lost their match-ups on the show, and the warriors they fight at the end of their Arcade Modes were the ones who beat them.
    • Also, the pirate faces the ninja at the end of his arcade mode.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Vlad the Impaler. Seriously, the last dude you'd want to hear is on the battlefield opposite your side just based on name alone.
  • The Napoleon: Davide Lavera, one of the Aztec's experts, was about 5 feet tall (dwarfed even by Max!) and was probably one of the most arrogant experts they've ever had.
    • Averted surprisingly with the REAL Napoleon with Dr. Dorian stating he wasn't that short at a 5'7". He did, however, have a significant size disadvantage against the 6'4" George Washington.
  • New Rules as the Plot Demands: A Mafia gangster pulls out a switchblade to fight his opponent, the Shaolin Monk brings out a meteor hammer during his showdown with the Maori, an IRA operative uses his own knife to kill a member of the Taliban, and two of Crazy Horse's Lakota warriors are seen with self bows, but none of these weapons were actually tested. Their roles seem to be to make the simulation more interesting.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Averted in the 3rd Season Finale Aftermath, in which the question of what a zombie-vampire hybrid would be like comes up. The zombie expert, vampire expert, and Dr. Dorian all agree that such a creature would just shamble into the sun and die. However, Geoff puts forth the possibility that a virus mutation might cause a different, unexpected, and considerably more interesting result.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: During the simulation, one of the Medellín Cartel members bears a strong resemblance to Pablo Escobar.
  • North Koreans with Nodongs: The North Korean Special Operations Force, who appear in Season 3, fighting the US Army Rangers.
  • Off with His Head!: The Scottish claymore is notable for this, chopping off 3 heads at once in its test.
    • The Celtic Longsword was also meant to take heads.
    • Geoffrey yells this trope when testing the Zande Warrior's makrakka. It does.
    • The Aztec Jaguar's macuahuitl is shown to execute this, being capable of decapitating a stallion in 3 hits. And there's also the Celt's longsword, which sliced a gel torso's head in half. Finally, we have the CIA's garrote, which consists of nothing more than just 2 small sticks and some piano wire. Even that is enough to slice open a torso's throat and decapitate it.
    • Now we have Navy SEALs' Rob Roy and his recon knife, a 3-inch blade that he uses to decapitate a ballistic gel torso.
    • In a sneak peek at the first episode of Season 3, a dummy is decapitated by Napoleon's cannon. The ball that did it had already taken out another dummy in front.
    • Attila the Hun's finisher in the game Deadliest Warrior: Legends involves him ripping off his opponent's head...with his bare hands.
    • In Saddam Hussein vs. Pol Pot, Calvin Bondley, an expert for the former dictator, uses the RPK machine gun to shoot the head of a test dummy in a simulated ambush.
    • In Ivan the Terrible vs. Hernán Cortés, Vladimir Orlov, Russian special forces trainer and one of Ivan's experts, utilized the tsar's sablia (Russian saber) on horseback to decapitate a gel dummy wearing Hernán's steel armor.
  • Oh Crap: Two such reactions in the IRA vs. Taliban fight. One coming from a Taliban operative that gets eliminated by friendly fire from an RPG, and the other coming from the remaining Taliban as he realizes he's going to get blown up by a nail bomb with no way out.
    • Another one in the Back For Blood special. It's from an IRA combatant this time, and he gets his head blown off by a Spetnaz operative seconds after he makes this expression.
    • In the Nazi Waffen-SS vs. Viet Cong fight, this is seen on the face of a Waffen-SS soldier who runs out of bullets seconds before he is shot dead by a Viet Cong.
      • From the VC experts themselves after they witnessed the Flammenwerfer test.
    • In the Somali Pirate vs. Medellín Cartel fight, this appears on the face of the remaining Cartel member who locks himself out the Cartel base, when the last Pirate shoots an RPG at him.
    • In the Saddam Hussein vs. Pol Pot battle, Pol Pot has this expression just before Saddam shoots him in the temple with a pistol.
    • In Theodore Roosevelt vs. Lawrence of Arabia, this is the look on one of Lawrence's men when he not only fails to kill Roosevelt, but sees Roosevelt about to kill him.
  • Omniglot: According to British firearms specialist Richard Reid, Lawrence of Arabia was fluent in 7 languages.
  • Once A Season: A few weapons are repeated each season. Some examples include the halberd (used by the Knight & Vlad the Impaler), the RPG-7 and AK-47 (both used by the Taliban and Somali Pirates), the Tommy Gun (used by the Mafia and Al Capone Gang), and, if you want to stretch it a little, the sling (used by the Gladiator, Aztec Jaguar, and Celt).
    • The place of origin for some of the warriors fit too; one Russian-based warrior has appeared per season (Spetznaz, the KGB, and Ivan the Terrible), as well as the U.S. military following this trend (the Green Berets, Navy SEALs, and Army Rangers). Native Americans have been following this trend too (season 1's Apache, season 2's Comanche, and season 3's Crazy Horse).
  • One-Liner: Doc Dorian in FFL vs. Gurkhas "Stick to history, you don't understand medicine" but also common in the Trash Talk between warriors.
  • One of Us: The three hosts are clearly as psyched by their jobs as we are.
  • One-Hit Polykill: Both Cortés' and Ivan's guns take out two targets with one shot.
    • The vampires also frequently slash through several zombies with one swing of their claws.
    • This also applies in the sims as well:
      • In Navy SEALs vs. Israeli Commandos, the final SEAL remaining kills his last two opponents in the same C4 explosion.
      • In Saddam Hussein vs. Pol Pot, Pol Pot uses a Chinese stick grenade to kill two of Saddam's henchmen standing guard outside of the building he's in.
  • Only in It for the Money: Hernán Cortés' primary reason to lead the Spaniards' expedition into Mexico was because of rumors of vast sums of gold hidden in the New World.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The vampires win the battle, but is shown being infected by the zombie virus, with the words To Be Continued... at the end.
  • Our Vampires Are Different / Our Zombies Are Different: The Vampires vs. Zombies match-up in Season 3.
  • Outrun the Fireball: The last IRA member remaining does this to escape a Taliban's RPG aimed at a camper van.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Sukhwinder Singh, a specialist brought in by the Rajput's experts, stood about 4 feet tall, yet looked just as tough as anyone when swinging the aara.
    • Many of the actual historical warriors, were in fact, much smaller dudes. To say the least of Joan of Arc.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Interestingly, the technique itself is tested as one of Jesse James' weapons in the "Jesse James vs. Al Capone" episode.
  • Poisoned Weapons: The ninja's blowgun is poisoned. In the Apache episode, expert Snake Blocker asked for a poisonous animal to show that Apaches would poison their weapons. The episode did not address poisoned weapons, but did show a brief shot of Snake Blocker holding a scorpion.
    • The Zande's botto and pima are shown to have been poisoned with a toxin described as similar to strychnine. Despite this, it couldn't pierce the Jaguar's ichucapilli armor, or do much damage to him, and the Jaguar's tematlatl sling was given the edge.
    • The Viet Cong's punji sticks were smeared with human feces for similar effect. If the impalement didn't kill you, a septic wound might. The Nazis' flammenwerfer still got the edge.
    • The arrows on Sun Tzu's repeating crossbow were also coated with wolfsbane. This, combined with being accurate enough to hit Vlad in the neck, gave it the edge.
    • Let's not forget Shaka Zulu's spit of poison.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: In Saddam Hussein vs. Pol Pot, Saddam says, "This is a gun" in Arabic to Pol Pot before executing him with his pistol.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Before he became a host, Richard "Mack" Machowicz revealed that he is a fan of the show in one of the Season 3 preseason Aftermaths.
  • Prongs of Poseidon: The Gladiator's trident net is tested against and given the edge over the Apache's knife. In the final simulation, the trident & net combo proves to be the gladiator's deadliest weapon.
  • Precision F-Strike: Kieron Elliott at the end of Navy SEAL vs. Isreali Commando's Aftermath.
    Kieron: I'm Kieron Elliott, and thank you for... ah, fuck it.
  • Power Trio:
    • Geoff: The Brawniest of the three, most emotionally involved in the carnage, and even personally participated in a few tests (Id)
    • Armand: Cerebral Doctor (Superego)
    • Max: Brainy enough to program the computer, but enjoys a good gusher (Ego)
    • A new version of Power Trio has emerged with Mack now the Ego.
  • Powerful Pick: the Centurion's Dolabra
    • In a less literal instance, the Mafia actually used an ice pick as a stealth weapon. Scarily enough it went through a skull.
  • Pun:
    • After slicing through Roman chain mail with a katar, one of the Rajput experts quips, "I guess that makes me the katar hero."
    • Another example in Somali Pirate vs. Medellín Cartel: during the testing of the Pirate's rocket launcher, Geoff gave the signal with "3, 2, 1, ROCK IT!"
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Very often in the simulations there will be only one person left alive...with the rest of their friends/teammates dead.
    • In the KGB vs. CIA simulation, the final CIA agent manages to kill the last KGB agent, but failed to obtain the dead drop.
    • In Zombies vs. Vampires, the final vampire manages to finish off the remaining zombies, but in the wrap-up, it cuts back to the dramatization, which shows that he was infected by the zombie virus, and is beginning to turn.

    Q-T 
  • Railing Kill: One NKSOF falls over a rail after getting shot by an Army Ranger.
  • Rain of Arrows: In Ming Warrior vs. Musketeer, the Ming Warriors bring a Nest of Bees to the fight: a man-portable arrow launcher that fires 32 rocket-powered arrows at once. However, the Muketeer's flintlock musket got the edge because it was found to be more accurate and practical in a squad vs. squad battle.
  • Rated M for Manly: Oh, where to even begin with this.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Many fans of the show attempted to use video games and movies as expert testimony to refute the results of the show. In the Aftermath of "IRA versus Taliban," one of the hosts lampshades this, saying, "Always a reliable source for research..."
  • Recycled INSPACE: It's Animal Face-Off WITH HUMANS!
  • Red Baron: Several of the warriors were given badass aliases in their time; for example, Lawrence of Arabia was known as The Devil of the Desert, while Napoleon was called the God of War (no relation).
  • Red Herring: In "Sun Tzu vs. Vlad the Impaler", the expert mentions Sun Tzu would coat the grounds ahead of time with a flammable fluid to make his flaming arrows more effective. It almost makes you think that he is going to use this to defeat Vlad at the last minute. Not only that, but in the same battle, when Vlad pauses before delivering a killing blow to Sun Tzu, he cries out, and you expect him to just drop dead from the poison that got shot into him at the beginning of the fight.
    • Most of the warriors that appear in the opening and the DVD covers are actually the losers of their matches
    • An example that involves having watched previous episodes for the trope to be played straight: in Saddam Hussein vs. Pol Pot, Jonathon Khan, a weapons expert for the latter dictator, claimed that guerrilla tactics always beat organized armies; those who watched Nazi Waffen-SS vs. Viet Cong and Spetsnaz vs. IRA know that his statement is wrong and would expect Pol Pot lost to Saddam, which he does.
  • Reformed Criminal: Kenny Gallo, the Medellín expert who used to work for the cartel. He's an FBI-protected witness and says that he has changed his lifestyle since then.
  • Regional Riff: An Asian flute can be heard frequently whenever East Asian warriors and weapons are featured, particularly during stealthy and indirect attacks.
    • Latin-American fighters like the Medellín Cartel or Pancho Villa were accompanied by a couple of notes from a Spanish guitar.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: This is actually an important part of season 3's testing process; Mach has an expert for each warrior consult what said warrior's ideal tactic is and-or their greatest victory; from Genghis Khan's triumph at the Battle of Kalka River to how William the Conqueror won the Battle of Hastings.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: In the Back For Blood special, this is averted. The Webley revolver was matched up against the Makarov pistol; even though the Webley had greater reliability and stopping power, the Makarov was given the edge due to it's higher capacity and faster reload. During the final showdown, when it comes down to a handgun shootout between the two survivors, both run out of ammo at the same time. The Spetsnaz commando was able to reload first and kill the IRA terrorist.
    • In Jesse James vs. Al Capone, this is averted again. The Colt 1845 & Peacemaker were put up against the Tommy Gun, and, while both of them were capable of delivering killing blows, the edge was given to the Tommy Gun for its rate of fire and capability of hitting a target with more bullets than the revolvers.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The William Wallace experts all but discuss this trope verbatim in reference to Wallace's motivation for fighting the English.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Mostly averted throughout the show, as the newest and most advanced weaponry almost always wins (much as it does in Real Life). Exceptions are Shaolin Monk versus Maori Warrior (in the weapons comparisons though not the actual result) and Jesse James' outlaws versus Al Capone's gang.
    • The Spartan, an Iron Age warrior, has also consistently performed well outside his technological zeitgeist, beating the steel-using Ninja and Samurai.
      • Due in large part to his shield. The Spartan's shield generated more kills than the Ninja's entire arsenal, and was key in edging out ahead of the Samurai.
    • Played straight in "Mongol vs. Comanche". Despite being from a later historical period, the Comanche use weapons which seem more primitive than those wielded by the Mongols. Nevertheless, they come out the victors.
    • Played straight in "Teddy Roosevelt vs. Lawrence of Arabia," where Teddy's Gatling gun wins out over Lawrence's Vickers machine gun due to greater reliability.
  • Rule of Cool: You probably can't watch this show without saying "Woah that was cool!" at least once.
  • Running Gag: In "Shaka Zulu vs. William Wallace", after every time the Zulu experted tested one of his weapons, he would shout "ZULU!", with Geoff & Max echoing him.
    • As well, in Zande Warrior vs. Aztec Jaguar, prior to every one of their weapons tests, post-test in some of them, and in the final interview, the Zande experts would constantly chant "NOM NOM! NOM NOM!".
  • Ruthless Modern Pirates: Season 2's Somali Pirates, who went up against the Medellín Cartel and won.
  • Sai Guy: One of the Yakuza's weapons.
  • Samus Is a Girl: It's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, but William the Conqueror looks completely baffled when he sees that Joan of Arc, the warrior who just fought her way into his castle and is now brandishing a sword in front of him, is a teenage girl. Then Joan attacks him, and he gets over it quick.
  • Sanity Has Advantages: In the battle between Saddam Hussien and Pol Pot, Saddam had an X-factor in his favor by not being as insane as his opponent (though since these two are both Grade-A nutjobs, he still scored below 50; his opponent just scored even lower).
    • The same thing happens in Ivan the Terrible vs. Hernán Cortés; while Hernán Cortés was still considered crazy, the X-Factor of Psychological Health went in his favor, with him scoring a 72 compared to Ivan's 37.
    • Came into play to a lesser extent between Washington vs. Napoleon, when a number of X-Factors put in Washington's favor involved how Napoleon became more egotistical and prone to overreaching in his later years. In the Aftermath, the Napoleon expect even conceded that Washington would have had an advantage against Napoleon as he was later in life, but asserted that he might not have fared as well against the younger, more stable man Napoleon was earlier on in his career.
  • Sawed-Off Shotgun: One of the Mafia's weapons in Mafia versus Yakuza. The realistic kind, not the pistol-shotty kind.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: The Iklwa weapon of Shaka Zulu is named after the sound effects it causes upon impaling and being removed. Can be terrifying if you really think about it.
  • Scary Black Man: Rob Roy, one of the Navy SEALs experts. He's pretty normal most of the time, but if you see him test out the SEALs' knife, you'll feel sorry for the gel torso he tested it out on.
    • The African tribal warriors are said to have been this in real life to everyone else. Particularly the Zande, who filed their teeth into fangs to give enemies the impression that they were cannibals.
  • Scope Snipe: The U.S. Army Rangers representative pulls this off, though unlike more cinematic examples it goes diagonally through the walls of the scope instead of the lenses.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In "Genghis Khan vs. Hannibal", Hannibal's war elephant runs off after getting hit with too many Annoying Arrows.
    • In "Vampires vs. Zombies", one of the vampires tries to leave the building. Unfortunately for him, it's dawn, forcing him to stay inside with the zombies.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: At the end of the show's "opening", we see a ninja toss a shuriken at the camera, which then turns into part of the logo.
  • Serious Business: Putting aside the fact that the show addresses various hotly debated topics ranging from military history to martial arts, the representatives of both sides of any match-up act as if the battle is actually taking place and has regularly taken place throughout history.
    • Somewhat justified in the case of the Proud Warrior Race guys (Apache, Zulu, Maori, Celt, Aztec, Zande, etc.) who are defending the honor of their heritage (or at least that's the way they see it).
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Whenever the Mafia show up.
  • Shields Are Useless: Toyed with. While shields can proved to be incredibly useful in a fight, the show's testing process generally concludes that large weapons would cut or break through shields and often damage the arm behind them with a full-force swing. The offensive capacities of shields varied depending on the episode:
    • In Viking versus Samurai, the Viking shield scores the fewest amount of kills in the episode.
      • Although a lot of people have criticized the show for it's faulty representation of the Viking's use of his shield.
    • In William Wallace versus Shaka Zulu, William Wallace's Targe shield demonstrates a killer puncturing capability.
    • In Spartan versus Ninja, the Spartan shield gets the most kills of any weapon in the episode, even more than the Spartan's spear.
    • In the Back For Blood special, the Samurai's kanabo was seen to have enough power to severely dent the Spartan's shield. However, it was still strong enough to withstand the blows, allowing the Spartan to get the upper hand.
      • It should be noted, however, that a direct kanabo shot would likely have broken the Spartan's arm. This was ignored in the simulation because it's more awesome that way.
    • In Jaguar vs. Zande, they test the jaguar warrior's throwing spear on the Zande's shield, which pierces it easily. Later, during the simulation, not only does the Jaguar's spear pierce the shield, he knocks a huge chunk of it off with his club.
  • Shoe Phone: Most of the weapons in KGB vs. CIA are like this. They include a camera gun, a briefcase gun, a retractable shoe knife, and a booby trapped exploding cigar.
    • The Isreali Commando's explosive weapon, a cell phone rigged with semtex explosives, also qualifies.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In either a shout out or simple rehash of pre-existing choreography, the Spartan uses Achilles' Finishing Move from Troy, running toward the Ninja with very long strides and then jumping up and delivering a downward stabbing attack with his spear.
    • One of the Rajput team members makes a pun on Guitar Hero after demonstrating the katar.
    • A Roman Centurion expert calls one of the Rajput experts a warrior princess when they test the chakram.
    • After the Celtic Longsword slices a gel torso's head in half, Armand refers to the head as Pac-Man.
    • The Game has two achievements spoofing the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. One is "Black Knight", which you get by slicing off all the Knight's limbs, and the other is "Flesh Wound", which you get by beating an opponent with your arm sliced off.
      • It also makes a reference to 300 with "That Was Sparta!", which you get by killing 300 Spartans over your career.
    • In the second game, Vlad the Impaler in his entrance cut-scene takes a drink from a goblet and then casually tosses it aside.
  • Shovel Strike: Green Beret's entrenching tool.
  • Shown Their Work: Every episode is one gigantic orgasm of research, testing, and displaying work before the final showdown. However, there have been protests against the research, with some people crying Dan Browned. In the show's defense, there is a lot of testing and research done that is not shown because of time constraints.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: Averted. The show's computer simulates 1,000 battles (5,000 as of the 3rd season) so that the winner is not determined by a single "lucky blow." The choreographed battles always feature the combatants trading blows with all of their weapons before one combatant wins. In the squad battles, it usually comes down to one last man on each side.
  • Skyward Scream: In Waffen-SS vs. Viet Cong, the winner shouts "Deutschland!".
  • The Spartan Way: Nearly all experts argue that their side has been trained this way, having fought since childhood and/or trained unbelievably hard.
    • Especially the Spartan experts.
    • The Spetznaz representative allowed black belt Geoffrey Desmoulin to PUNCH HIM IN THE CHEST several times to demonstrate the toughness that a Spetznaz developed.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Armand observing some carnage: "The technical term for this would be mush."
  • Spy Versus Spy: KGB vs. CIA.
  • Stab the Sky: If an ancient warrior wins by killing the other one with a sword, expect this.
    • Averted by the winners of Viking vs. Samurai, Maori vs. Shaolin Monk, and George Washington vs. Napoleon Bonaparte:
      • The Samurai just did a chiburi flick and sheathed his katana.
      • The Shaolin Monk respectfully bows to his fallen foe.
      • Washington just cleaned his sword with a cloth and looked at the sunset.
  • State Sec: Guess which group makes an appearance in season two.
  • Stock Scream: Take a drink every time you hear a low, strained, "UWOOAAH!".
  • The Stoic: Several warriors are portrayed as such:
    • The Yakuza are portrayed as being trained to show no pain and to show no emotion in the face of enemies.
      • Or when cutting off their own fingers in the face of their own superiors.
    • The Spetsnaz's reputation for toughness is demonstrated by one of the soldiers, who allows a martial arts black belt to punch him several times in the stomach—to no effect.
      • This is actually a basic part of the average modern day martial art. It involves hardening your abdominal muscles temporarily right before a punch lands.
    • The Shaolin Monk, in the final showdown. Contrasted very nicely with the Maori warrior.
      • Though their experts were almost the complete opposites; one only need to watch the shaolin going completely crazy during the emei piercers demonstration while the maori watched calmly, nodding their heads.
  • Storming the Castle: Saddam Hussein vs. Pol Pot's first test, which, coincidentally, is the show's first test to use more than one weapon, simulated the urban combat tactics used in taking over a building; Calvin Bondley and Jonathon Khan (each side's respective expert who dealt with the weapons) used their side's grenade to kill the men at the guard post, move towards the building's exterior with light machine guns, and finish by killing the guards inside with pistols.
    • Many of the sims have this scenario, with the simulation of Joan of Arc vs. William the Conqueror being a literal example.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Anytime there's an explosive weapon. Sometimes the explosion of said weapon is enhanced just because it's cooler like that.
    • But there have been a couple of times where some of the tests on military-grade explosives used less of the explosive than normal because the normal amount of explosive would have been too big of a boom.
  • Stupid Statement Dance Mix: During the season finale live Aftermath, a simple one was played using clips of dialogue from Max Brooks (zombie expert and son of Mel Brooks).
  • Suffer The Slings: Whenever ancient warriors aren't using bows and arrows, they usually have this. They rarely work well; virtually every time a warrior has brought a sling to the table, it failed to impress. One rare occasion happened in Aztec Jaguar vs. Zande Warrior, where the Aztec tematlatl sling got the edge over the Zande botto and pima bow and arrow. However, in the simulation result, the botto and pima still got more than four times as many kills as the sling.
    • This was actually addressed in the Persian Immortals vs. Celts Aftermath, in which one comment flat-out asked why slings kept getting brought onto the show if they never worked well. Amusingly enough, it was the Persian expert who jumped to respond to the complaint, explaining that, since slings are small, lightweight, can be easily stashed on someone's person, and have effectively infinite ammunition, there are really no downsides to having one available in combat. Even if they don't impress in tests, in the right hands and the right situation, they can still potentially turn the tide of a battle.
  • Suspiciously Small Army: Whenever the match-up is between specific strategists known for leading armies of thousands or hundreds of thousands, they give them a half dozen men each and match them up with their personal weapons. Both squads are invariably wiped out leaving it a personal 1-on-1 fight.
  • Swiss-Army Weapon: The Shaolin Monk's twin hooks, described as 4 killing tools in one.
  • Sword Fight: Occurs several times over the course of the series, mainly in the final battle scenes at the end of most episodes; amongst said episodes are Viking vs. Samurai, Pirate vs. Knight, Attila the Hun vs. Alexander the Great, Roman Centurion vs. Rajput, Vlad the Impaler vs. Sun Tzu, Ming Warrior vs. Musketeer, George Washington vs. Napoleon Bonaparte, Joan of Arc vs. William the Conqueror, and Genghis Khan vs. Hannibal. Ivan the Terrible and Hernán Cortés take it up a notch and do it on horseback.
    • In the game, the Viking's short range weapon is now his longsword and his great axe is mid range; the roles of the two weapons were switched around in the show, the sword fight was longsword (mid range) vs. katana (short range).
  • The Cartel: The Medellín Cartel.
  • Take That: Several times toward Twilight at their 2011 Zombie vs. Vampire Comic Con panel.
  • Taking You with Me: In the dramatized Somali Pirate vs. Medellín Cartel battle, after being shot and left for dead by a Pirate, a Cartel member detonates a nearby car bomb that the shooter had inadvertantly gotten into after seeing the money and drugs in the trunk, killing them both.
    • Another example in U.S. Army Rangers vs. North Korean Special Ops where a Ranger blows up both himself and the Special Op who fatally wounded him after said Special Op goes to check the damage he's done.
  • Technician Versus Performer: One debate that tends to come up with a lot of older guns (and occasionally something like a cannon or crossbow) tends to boil down to: This weapon performs better (better accuracy, more powerful) but is technically inferior (often it involved a longer reload time or a tendency to misfire.)
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Guaranteed to be demonstrated at LEAST Once an Episode. The line is almost used verbatim in the Spetsnaz vs. Green Berets episode..
    • Averted in Jesse James vs. Al Capone, where the Bowie Knife being overkill in hand-to-hand combat is one of the main reasons given for their giving the smaller stiletto the edge. However, this does not take in the sim, where the Bowie Knife gets more kills.
    • What can best describe the ending of the Vlad the Impaler vs. Sun Tzu sim.
    • Navy SEALs vs. Israeli Commandos. Rob Roy. Knife test. This is probably one of the few times "overkill" is putting it lightly. With a three-inch knife he does to a gel torso what most other people would need a sword to do.
  • Time Travel: While most fights would need to involve time travel in some way, in Jesse James vs. Al Capone, Jesse and his men seem to suddenly spawn in a museum during the Depression and proceed to break out the museum pieces rather than being armed from the start like most fights.
  • Title Drop: Aside from the end of the show's traditional intro, you also have several experts claiming the warrior they represent is the deadliest warrior.
  • Too Dumb to Live: In George Washington vs. Napoleon Bonaparte, only Napoleon and Washington are left, and Napoleon successfully knocks Washington off his horse with his sword. Instead of charging at Washington and attempting to slash him with his cavalry sabre, he gets off his horse and runs over to duel him, which ultimately leads to his demise.
    • In Theodore Roosevelt vs. Lawrence of Arabia, the last nameless Rough Rider has Lawrence of Arabia, whose armed only with his jambiya dagger, at gunpoint in trench. He immediately runs over to Lawrence and tries to strike him with the butt of his rifle. Predicably, Lawrence dodges and slashes him to death.
    • In Crazy Horse vs. Pancho Villa. one of Pancho Villa's rebels charges by himself at a full gallop towards Crazy Horse's advancing Lakotas. It doesn't end well for him.
  • Training from Hell: Most of the experts attempt to portray their warrior as undergoing intense training that produces a superior warrior. A notable example would be the Spetsnaz, who actually would not divulge too much info as state secrets.
    • The French Foreign Legion is described in great detail that their training regiment in the desert is complete hell. More Legion recruits actually die in training than any other military group in the world.
  • Two out of Three Ain't Bad: Averted in the Dragunov vs. HKG3 test during the second half of the Back For Blood special: Skoti Collins, one of the IRA, managed to kill 2 out of the 3 targets with the IRA's preferred sniper rifle. The good doctor, in response to Collins' statement, said that two out of three might work in sports, but in warfare, it's a different story.

    U-Z 
  • Undercrank: Used in the finale of Ivan the Terrible vs. Hernán Cortés when the two leaders are charging at each other to land the killing blow on their opponent.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Reality Ensues for the most part in this show, but there have been some notable instances where a single weapon helped usher an otherwise-doomed warrior to victory. Examples include the Shaolin Monk and Theodore Roosevelt.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: The Spetsnaz experts do it during weapon demonstrations and the Americans mock them for it. The ninja does it during the final showdown. Also done by the female CIA agent in the simulation.
  • Urine Trouble: Richard Reid, an expert for Lawrence of Arabia, explained that the Vickers machine gun was cooled off by pouring water though a tap which flowed through the gun; however, in the Middle East, Lawrence improvised by having soldiers urinate in it. When the Vickers suffers a jam during testing, the hosts think it's because of overheating, thus leading to Geoff joking that someone needs to piss on the machine gun.
  • V-Formation Team Shot: The Waffen-SS, Viet Cong, and Navy SEALs get one of these over the course of their episodes.
    • The 4 Rough Riders accompanying Theodore Roosevelt into battle also get one of their own, as do the 4 members of the Jesse James gang. However, neither of these are in a V formation.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Although the guys representing him are nice enough, William Wallace. Among other things, his claymore was so devastating that the BFS page has a link to a video of it giving a triple decapitation.
  • We Need a Distraction: In Theodore Roosevelt vs. Lawrence of Arabia, Lawrence and his soldiers set of an explosion to draw Teddy's Gatling gun fire to that area. Meanwhile, Lawrence flanks them and manages to kill a Rough Rider.
  • Weapon of Choice: Each side is given about four or five different ones, which are graded against each other.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer: Equipment is usually graded solely on how much damage it can do, rather than alternate utilities such as parrying, disarming, or disabling opponents. The main complaint among critics also seems to be there's no impartial way compare fighting styles and tactics to each other and that differences in the mindset and tactics of warriors of different cultures and time periods don't seem to be factored in, leaving the battles seeming more like "Deadliest Arsenal" than "Deadliest Warrior". As of Season 3, however, more emphasis is put on X-Factors and weapons strategies.
    • Played with in Ivan vs. Cortes. During the "kill an opponent with your sword from horseback" test, the Ivan team specialist is using a saber that can only slash from horseback, whereas the Cortes team specialist has the choice of stabbing or slashing. This works works against the Cortes team's sword, as it turns out it's really hard to stab with a sword from horseback, more-so under pressure. Thus, Ivan's saber with its keep-slashing-away hammer-mentality was given the edge.
    Mack: [It's a liability when] you have to navigate in your head "well I could do it this way or I could do it this way..." When you only have one technique but you're great at that technique, just let go and let the technique do the work.
  • Whip Sword: The Rajputs' aara sword is the most obvious one, and arguably the Shaolin Monk's Whip Chain as well.
  • White And White Morality: Geoffrey clearly thinks the Navy SEALs vs. Israeli Commandos match-up is a fight between good guys, as shown in the Aftermath of Comache vs. Mongol. Whether he's right or not is a matter of...heated debate.
    • Also SWAT vs. GSG-9, a battle between two police forces. Hell, they even both specialize in counter-terrorism.
  • Worthy Opponent: Ultimately, most of the experts exhibit this towards the end, especially in the Centurion vs. Rajput episode, where both sides would continually give props to the other's weapons and their capabilities.
    • Often, the winning warrior in the simulation show some sort of honor to their fallen opponent. Though some show this better than others, and, of course, averted by a few warriors who explicitly don't show honor to fallen opponents.
  • Xanatos Gambit: The Viet Cong's explosive and special weapons function like this. For example, the POM-Z2 mine had an F-1 grenade underneath it. If by chance, an enemy soldier discovered the trip wire that activated the mine, they would then trigger the grenade. Similarly, if the spiked punji ball didn't hit a vital organ, it would knock the enemy down, and would break his skull.
  • Your Head Asplode: Several of the modern firearms do this. Also happens in the pre-title dramatization for SWAT vs GSG9 and to the second to last IRA member in IRA vs Spetsnaz.
    • In its test to see how much damage it could do to human skulls, the Celt's special weapon, the Burda Club (just a wooden club with some metal rings) managed to make the skulls explode.
      • The Apache's club did the same thing to an unprotected skull.
      • As can the Mongol's flanged mace.
      • Don't forget the Knight's Morningstar.
      • Or that elephant. Among other things.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: During the 'IRA vs Taliban' episode, the Irish experts try to portray the IRA like this.
    • To be expected, given as one of them was a nephew of Micheal Collins, who all but started the IRA.
    • While this show has been broadcast on TV in Great Britain, it is notable that episodes featuring Irish terrorists have yet to be seen. Your Freedom Fighters Are Our Murdering Terrorist Scum...
  • Zerg Rush: The modus operandi of the zombies, and the reason why a test was needed to find a suitable ratio of zombies per vampire.


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