Epic Rap Battles of History provide examples of the following tropes:
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Absentee Actor: Lloyd has pretty frequently been absent as a rapper, though any time this is the case, he'll still pop up in the background playing a non-participant such as Carl Sagan or John McCain. Peter, meanwhile, had taken part in every battle without fail all the way up until Cleopatra vs. Marilyn Monroe, where both Lloyd and Peter played cameo roles. (The fact that this is the first time Peter didn't rap is especially notable when you consider that this wasn't even the first woman vs. woman battle...)
Bruce Lee vs. Clint Eastwood is notably the first battle where Lloyd rapped but Peter didn't. Since then, we've also had Adam vs. Eve, and Goku vs. Superman.
Tesla vs. Edison is a weird example in that it's the only battle where Peter is visually completely absent but still does the vocals for Tesla.
Michael Jordan VS Muhammad Ali is the first battle ever where neither Peter nor Lloyd appear at all - not for vocalsnote Though Peter still voiced the announcer, not for a cameo, nothing.
Similarly, Edgar Allan Poe vs Stephen King, which also pits two returning guest stars (Zach Sherwin and George Watsky) against each other.
"Renaissance Artists vs the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" puts a new twist on this, with Peter and Lloyd voicing the Turtles. Lloyd performed as the turtles along with stunt actor Xin Wuku, so he wasn't entirely absentee. The battle also brought in a record four special guests (previous guests Rhett & Link and first-timers Smosh) as the Renaissance artists.
Actual Pacifist: Both Gandhi and MLK Jr. qualify. The whole rap between them is how much more of a pacifist each one is than the other, and the battle really heats up as the two come closer and closer to not getting violent with each other.
Gandhi: I am passively resisting the fact that you suck. I am celibate because I don't give a fuck!
Adam would be (mostly) fine having Eve around if she didn't start bleeding and turn into a demon every month. The other main issue is her constant nagging.
Bob Ross described Pablo Picasso's dour attitude as his "blue period".
Alternative Character Interpretation:invoked Most of the rappers' personalities are exaggerated from what history remembers, or canon in the case of fictional characters. Example, Bieber is depicted as an annoying, pint-sized brat, but more likely than not, the real Bieber is not as annoying (some of the time). Mister Rogers was normally a friendly man, but here, he's a perpetually placid fellow with a short fuse.
Nice Peter: "Master Chief: Has guns, repeated acts of violence. Moses: Killed Egyptian dude, buried him in sand. Mozart: TOO DANG LOUD." (Mister Rogers is also on the list, with the subtitle "Creepy, racist?".)
Joseph Stalin in the season 2 finale.
Stalin: "You got off easy when they pickled that moose cock! I'd leave your neck in a noose in a trench and shot! Your whole family! Shot! All your wizard friends! Shot! Anyone who sold you pierogi! Shot!"
Artifact Title: Early rap battles would always include at least one historical figure. Since then, however, we've had five battles between only fictional characters. One in the first seasonnote Gandalf vs. Dumbledore, two in the secondnote Doc Brown vs. Doctor Who and Batman vs. Sherlock Holmes and two in the thirdnote Rick Grimes vs. Walter White and Goku vs. Superman.
Chuck Norris, who claims to be "everyone's master".
Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt.
Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the US, got fed up with the lack of ERB over the summer, and told Epic Lloyd and Nice Peter to get off their asses and get back to work with a structured release schedule. If they didn't, he threatened to carve his own chin out of Mount Rushmore and beat them with his own stoney mustache.
Badass Baritone: Beethoven, Darth Vader, Christopher Columbus, Master Chief, Barack Obama, Santa Claus, Grigori Rasputin, Vladimir Putin, Superman, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Donatello di Niccolo.
Badass Beard: Abe Lincoln, Billy Mays, Chuck Norris, Wilbur Wright, Vladimir Lenin, Grigori Rasputin, Clint Eastwood, Santa Claus, Blackbeard, Walter White, and all the Renaissance artists except Rafael.
Special mention goes to Abe Lincoln, who scoffs at how Chuck Norris can block bullets with his beard by boasting how he catches them with his skull.
Badass Bookworm: Ben Franklin is an educated gentleman. Then there's Albert Einstein, Sherlock Holmes, Stephen Hawking (again), Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Walter White, Sir Isaac Newton, Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and the Renaissance Artists.
Dumbledore prefers the company of wizards and he's proud of it.
Freddie Mercury is well aware of his (bi)sexual preferences, but remains calm and composed throughout all of Frank Sinatra's bashing.
Badass in a Nice Suit: Frank Sinatra, Bill O'Reilly, Thomas Edison, Al Capone, Barack Obama, Vladimir Lenin and Mikhail Gorbachev.
Badass Long Robe: Gandalf, Dumbledore and Moses with their wizard/holy man robes.
Badass Mustache: Genghis Khan's Fu Manchu, Albert Einstein, Hitler's toothbrush mustache (or Dirty Sanchez, according to Vader), the Mario Brothers, Orville Wright, Freddie Mercury, Nikola Tesla, Josef Stalin, and Edgar Allan Poe, and Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Badass Pacifist: Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr; passively resisting and forgiving hard.
Big Lipped Alligator Moment:invokedDefied in Bill Gates VS Steve Jobs. HAL 9000's appearance at the end of the rap superficially seems to have nothing to do with either of the two businessmen. Once you look into it, however, it turns out that HAL 9000 was actually used in a famous Macintosh ad campaign.
Napoleon Bonaparte gets one at the beginning of his second line. note "T'as une tête a faire sauter les plaques d'egouts!" That translates to "You've got a face that could blow off a manhole cover!"
Also, Christopher Columbus gets "Arrivederci! Imma leave before this battle begins!"
When Putin enters the Season 2 finale, he drops the line "...doing judo moves and schooling every communist сука", which is, of course, Russian for bitch. It helps that the word comes off sounding like a heavily-accented "sucka".
Joan of Arc gets on too, with "Je suis la fille en feu" meaning "I'm the girl on fire" (right before calling herself Katniss Everdeen)
The sign behind Goku says "歴史の壮大なヒップホップの戦い" ("Epic Rap Battles of History" in Japanese).
Part of William Wallace's rap is "Alba gu bràth," which means "Scotland forever."
Breaking the Fourth Wall: Given the medium of the series, it almost goes without saying that the participants would be "aware" of it. Nonetheless, they only actually make direct references to it a couple of times.
In Steve Jobs VS Bill Gates, Steve says he bets "this beat" was made on one of his Apple products, referring to the rap beat playing in the background. Nope. Fruity Loops. PC. And then there's the intro to the battle:
Narrator:BILL GATES! VERSUS—
Steve Jobs: (pops up) Let me just step right in./I've got things to invent! (shoves away the "Epic Rap Titles of History" title card)
Marilyn Monroe quips that Cleopatra's nose matches Kassem G's, one of Nice Peter's associates. Also when she whispers " Tossing Caesar's Salad."
After the beat abruptly stops in the rematch between Hitler and Vader, Hitler's visibly confused and asks "where is the DJ?"
The entire Nice Peter vs. Epic Lloyd battle inherently falls under this.
Putin spits hot borscht when he's crushing these beats.
Doc Brown spits it hot and generates way more power than 1.21 jigawatts.
Superman threatens to freeze the entire Saiyan race with his Super Breath.
Brick Joke: The first quote at the end of the first season finale says "If Season 2 does not have a Russian character, I will kill this NicePeter with my bare hands" and is credited to Vladimir Putin. No Russians appear in Season 2... until the finale, where four Russians (and a Georgian) battle each other (the first five-way battle), including Putin... who is played by NicePeter.
Skrillex calls out Mozart for his infamous scatological sense of humor, who throws itnote The insults, not poop. right back in his face.
Mozart: "In two more months, the world will forget about your Skrill-excrement!"
Mozart: "Oh yes, I've heard that EP, and see, I transcribed it here [pronounced "hee-yah."]/Tell me: what comes after the 68th measure of diarrhea?"
The battle between the creators themselves featured cameos from nearly all the characters they've played as before.
The rematch with Vader and Hitler begins with Hitler frozen in carbonite, just as he was at the end of their original battle.
During Rasputin Vs Stalin, Lenin's arrival and verse is similar to Lincoln's during Obama Vs Romney. He stands between both rappers and criticizes them one after the other, even repeating some movements and shots.
Carl Sagan makes a very small cameo in Sir Isaac Newton Vs. Bill Nye, which is similar to his previous brief appearance in Albert Einstein Vs. Stephen Hawking
Look carefully at the arcade game in the Turtles' lair during "Renaissance Artists vs TMNT". It's actually playing "The Wright Brothers vs the Mario Brothers", which is not only Rhett & Link's previous appearance but the last time a Nintendo game was brought up.
Canis Major: In the final battle (of season 1), Kassem G rides a magnificent flying wolf.
Thomas Edison, who openly admits that he screwed Tesla over, and is shown electrocuting a puppy during his second verse. The real-life Edison electrocuted several animals—most famously an elephant named Topsy—in an effort to discredit alternating current technology, of which Nikola Tesla was a prominent figure.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: In "Renaissance Artists vs TMNT", the Renaissance Artists Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael all have the colors of the turtles named after them somewhere on their costumes.
Corrupt Corporate Executive: Nikola Tesla's largest issue with Thomas Edison is how Tesla wanted to give electricity to the world for free, but Edison strongarmed him with politics and business practices to turn a profit with it.
Creative Closing Credits: Almost Once an Episode, always involving the logo of the show. Some examples include it being crossed by two electric shocks forming an X (Tesla vs. Edison); six logos chanting like they were cheering on in a match (Ruth vs. Armstrong); and two big logos calling their "logo armies" and setting war between them (Washington vs. Wallace).
Creator Cameo: If EpicLloyd isn't playing one of the rappers, he usually appears as a background character, usually someone being referenced to by one of the rappers. Examples include:
Nice Peter also plays John F. Kennedy, his first-ever cameo in the series. He's otherwise rapped in every single battle till then.
Marty McFly in Doc Brown Vs The Doctor—where he actually speaks in his cameo.
Jon Na, the director of photography for Columbus Vs Kirk, cameos as Sulu.
Nice Peter shows up as all the cowboys in Clint Eastwood's backdrop.
EpicLloyd cameos in Santa vs Moses as Santa's elves.
Peter appears in Adam Vs Eve as "Steve."
Nice Peter is a reverend amongst the Indian crowd in Gandhi Vs Martin Luther King Jr. while EpicLloyd is the one white guy in a crowd of African Americans following Martin Luther King. The Behind The Scenes show Lloyd slowly creeping his head up in the back of the crowd just so that he can be there, hoping nobody will notice.
Nice Peter and Epic Lloyd both appear as girls behind Miley Cyrus in Miley Cyrus Vs. Joan of Arc.
Nice Peter plays both Jimmy Olsen and Krillin in Goku Vs Superman.
Justin Bieber VS. Beethoven. Given Bieber's reputation on YouTube, you can probably imagine how this goes.
The Easter Bunny vs. Genghis Khan. The Easter Bunny spends his second verse panicking.
In their rematch, Hitler's "the reason you suck" song leaves Vader completely out of words, so much that he couldn't think of any comeback lines, and made him turn his back in shame. Or he was just acting that way to lure Hitler into standing over the Rancor pit. In their second rematch, Vader's rapid-fire onslaught reduces Hitler to barely-coherent, non-rhyming screeched imprecations ...right before he gets bisected by Vader's lightsaber.
If we're talking about popularity, Mr. T, Bill O'Reilly, and Frank Sinatra are getting curb-stomped harder than the Easter Bunny on the official site. In fact, Mr. T is the second-least popular battler, just above Justin Bieber. You'll need to log in through Facebook in order to see the stats.
Thomas Edison gets completely vilified by Nikola Tesla's claims of how Edison made sure he could make money off of the concept of electricity. The fans agree: Edison only has ~15% of the vote. Given Edison's recent reputation with the Internet demographic, it's not surprising.
Babe Ruth annihilates Lance Armstrong in his second verse. Lance is visibly shocked.
Doctor Who vs Doc Brown. Doc Brown gets a one up after his first verse by killing the Doctor; cue the Doctor regenerating and proceeding to deliver an epic Motor Mouth verbal beatdown that puts Busta Rhymes to shame.
Curb Stomp Cushion: Even if vastly outclassed in terms of ability and popularity, all the characters manage to get at least some effective jabs in against their superior opponents.
NicePeter: *holding tiny snake* You are the smallest snake I've ever even dreamed about!
Dance Party Ending: A lot of the battles like to have the characters just dancing at the end. Among the more notable examples are "Bill Gates vs. Steve Jobs", "Rasputin vs. Stalin", and "Donald Trump vs. Ebeneezer Scrooge". From the 2nd season on, almost all of them show the characters dancing in the credits. Their second channel features a few Dance Battles of History to the tunes of their battles.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: Darth Vader doesn't give Adolf Hitler a chance to finish rapping his second verse in Round 3. He just sneaks up behind him and cuts him in half with his lightsaber.
"You got off easy when they pickled that moose cock; I'd leave your neck in a noose in a trench and shot, your whole family: shot, all your wizard friends: shot, anyone who sold you pierogi: shot!"
Don't Try This at Home: In the behind-the-scenes video for Cleopatra vs. Marilyn Monroe, Lloyd shows off a Vader vs Hitler shirt and tells viewers not to wear it at school because it might get them expelled.
"Easy, Jaws of Life! I can't stand a racist; I love the colored and the queers - just ask Sammy Davis!"
Dummied Out: A commercial advertising ERB played in theaters the weekend before the release of George Washington vs. William Wallace. While the commercial mainly showed footage of Al Capone vs. Blackbeard and Mozart vs. Skrillex, there was a Freeze-Frame Bonus of William Wallace lifting up his kilt and showing his digitally censored manhood underneath. This scene isn't shown in the battle itself or the behind the scenes.
Dynamic Entry: Abraham Lincoln flies in on a bald eagle, free falls between Romney and Obama (calling them 'shiny turds') and bitch slaps them both. They never saw it coming.
"Rick Grimes VS Walter White" briefly shows that Superman and Edgar Allan Poe will be contestants in the "More Battles" section (but obviously not against each other). The battle immediately after that also has another preview showing Isaac Newton.
Most of the early rap battles put characters against each other who seem very randomly picked. In later episodes they have more in common with each other and thus seem more fit to oppose one another: they have the same profession, are similar icons, have similar sounding names, were real life rivals, or are similar characters from a different franchise.
The announcer had a different voice for the first few battles.
Abe Lincoln vs. Chuck Norris is the only battle the announcer does not kick off by shouting "BEGIN!"
Kim Jong-il vs the Mega Powers is the only match where a person who comes in during the middle is announced by the announcer. It also uses a different font for the subtitles than all the other battles.
E = MC Hammer: In Shakespeare vs. Doctor Seuss, during the Cat in the Hat's line about "you leave a classroom looking like the end of MacBeth", the blackboard in the background has the equation "1 + 2 = SO MUCH BLOOD".
Epic Fail: Hitler claims that Vader's entire life is one big this. Vader doesn't have any comeback other than laughing as Hitler steps over the Rancor pit before dropping him in.
Evasive Fight Thread Episode: It is nearly impossible to come to a consensus over who "wins" each rap battle. Everyone's rap style and lyrics are determined by their popular image, so each side will also sound wildly different and some matchups will feel more equal then others. In addition, the raps are accompanied by dramatic elements and special effects that are either indicating the current rapper's superiority, or are just for fun, and this further confuses the issue. The episodes themselves leave the winner up to the viewers, but the YouTube commentators don't even bother, typically just suggesting ideas for the next battle.
Finally averted when ERB allowed viewers to vote on Facebook and on their official site, leading to an official winner.
Lady Gaga flips off Sarah Palin a split second before the battle begins. John McCain flips off the whole world at the end.
Master Chief gives a long one to Leonidas at the end of his rap.
Barack Obama stealthfully does this to Mitt Romney. While commenting on how it would be awkward to have a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Lady, he counts off with his middle finger, pinky, and ring finger, in that order.
The teaser at the end of Season One included a supposed ultimatum by Vladimir Putin that if Season Two doesn't feature a Russian he will kill Nice Peter with his bare hands. There aren't any until the Season Finale, which features a match between Russians (four of them and a Georgian, to be exact).
Ben Franklin makes several death threats to Billy Mays, promising to "craft a lyrical coffin", telling him to "join or die", and referencing "Death of a Salesman". At first, this just seems like the usual hip-hop trash talk, but then Billy dies.
Stephen Hawking's silhouette is visible right at the start of the Vader vs. Hitler rematch.
Shakespeare vs. Doctor Seuss: During Seuss's first verse, a blackboard in the background alludes to Things 1 and 2 showing up later.
Santa Claus has Mozart on his naughty list for being "TOO DANG LOUD", in his own words. A few videos later, Mozart squares off against Skrillex, who's also been accused of being too dang loud.
Picasso refers to Muhammad Ali in his opening verse - who is one of the featured characters of the very next battle.
There's often so much going on the screen that some of the humor can be missed. For instance, Kim Jong-Il's rocket launcher fires his own head.
Outside of the raps, the first two videoes in season three after the December-May hiatus have both had at least one split-second shot of a future battle in the "more battles" section. This marks the first time the series has had any such previews.
Funny Background Event: Most of the battles have the characters doing ridiculous dances and/or poses in the background:
Behind the Wright Brothers, you can see biplanes flying, and at one point one crashing into the ground.
Obama with his head down and looking like he'd just been scolded by his mother while Lincoln moves on to chewing out Romney.
While the Fourth Doctor is rapping, look at the computer screen behind him on the TARDIS control panel. It's Minecraft! Specifically, it's video footage from the Yogscast Minecraft Series.
In Columbus vs. Captain Kirk, after Kirk says "Have fun canoeing" he can be seen behind Columbus doing a rowing motion.
One of the ninjas that Bruce Lee beats collapses onto the borderline between Lee's and Eastwood's screens, and the part of him that falls into Eastwood's screen changes into a cowboy. Apparently they have one-size-fits-all Mooks that dynamically change to fit the scene. The effect is repeated later in the episode, when a desperado, sneaking behind Eastwood, turns into a creeping ninja when he crosses the divide.
Stalin can be seen looking down at his hand after Lenin points out how it shriveled up.
Rasputin can be seen dancing in place to the beat during Gorbachev and Putins' verses
More generally, the non-rappers can be seen in the background with a facial expression of mild surprise, which is actually funnier than if they were violently reacting to being insulted. During Putin's verse, Gorby can be seen to be making a "is that bacon I smell?" face.
In Al Capone's last verse, Edward Kenway is briefly seen standing with the gangsters behind him, and then starts assassinating Blackbeard's crew towards the end.
Additionally, during Blackbeard's second verse, you can see Blackbeard's pirates stealing from Capone. "Pilfer all your rum and sell it at a profit" indeed.
In Rick Grimes vs. Walter White, Walter distracts a zombie with a bag of meth at the beginning of his second verse. At the very end, the zombie walks behind him tweaking out.
Joan of Arc says "je suis la fille en feu (I am the girl on fire) call me Katnis Everdeen" in her first verse.
Gratuitous Russian: Vladimir Putin calls Rasputin, Stalin, Lenin, and Gorbachev "bitch" in Russian.
Groin Attack: In round three, Hitler vows to kick Vader's balls (and face). Stalin also references the historical removal of Rasputin's "moose cock." Batman threatens to crush Sherlock Holmes's "British nuts until they're bangers and mash." There are many references to how William Wallace was castrated during his execution, and George Washington outright threatens to knee him in the "moose knuckle."
BY THE POWER INVESTED IN ME BY THIS GIANT BALD BIRD
The announcer barely even gets to finish opening the second battle before …
I AM ADOLF HITLER, COMMANDER OF ZE THIRD REICH!
Informed Ability: Elvis claims to have 1 rap for Michael Jackson's monkey, 2 for his clothes, 3 for his family, and 4 for his nose. Besides some cracks about his abusive father and his relationship to his wife, he ends up making fun of some completely different traits of his instead.
Insult Backfire: Skrillex tries to call Mozart weird for his obsession over scatological humor. Mozart turns it back on him by referring to Skrillex's music as "skrill-excrement" and "diarrhea".
Insurance Fraud: Al Capone threatens to burn down Blackbeard's boat for the insurance money.
Iron Butt Monkey: Adolf Hitler survives being frozen in carbonite in the first battle and dropped into the Rancor pit in the second. He appears to have been Killed Off for Real by being cut in half in the third. He does continue to scream afterwards, but that's probably just Rule of Funny.
I Take Offense to That Last One: Marty McFly only seems to object to the Fourth Doctor referring to him as a chicken, not his earlier insinuation that he has an oedipal complex.
The Christmas elves are quite surprised that Moses' religion forbids bacon.
Jerk Ass: Thomas Edison is a greedy, idea-stealing, and Tesla-smearing jerkass. He's an absolute jerkass in fact.
Joke Character: Even the narrator sighs when he introduces the Easter Bunny.
Just Here for Godzilla: In-universe, during their Rap battle, Epic Lloyd invokes this as the reason people visit Nice Peter's youtube channel.
Kiai: Bruce Lee doesn't need words to fight Clint Eastwood, when he can just say "waaataaaw" instead.
Kids Rock: Young Michael Jackson, played by 10-year-old Bentley Green.
Killed Mid-Sentence: Darth Vader barely gives Adolf Hitler a chance to say his name, nevermind finishing his second verse in round 3. He sliced him in half with his lightsaber. Hitler never saw it coming. Then again, Boba Fett wasn't expecting to be shot dead in the middle of his verse either.
Kissing Cousins: Skrillex claims that Mozart and his cousin Maria Anna Thekla engaged in more than kissing.
The Knights Who Say Squee: Peter and Lloyd got "Weird Al" Yankovic for a rap battle. Lloyd reveals in the Behind The Scenes that both of them have been huge fans of his music for all their lives. Lloyd starts singing "Yoda", saying it's the song he grew up on.
From the 2nd season battles onward, the music will be slightly varied when it's a different participant rapping.
In Nikola Tesla vs Thomas Edison, the synth riff is lower in pitch for Edison.
Virtually any musical combatant will add elements of their style to the rap:
In Mozart vs Skrillex, the beat is more dubstep-y for Skrillex. When Mozart's rapping however, a violin is prominently featured.
In Beiber vs Beethoven, Beiber's music is higher pitched, while Beethoven's features a piano.
Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley both bring elements from their music (and age) to their raps.
Donald Trump vs. Ebeneezer Scrooge three different styles. Donald Trump gets one all for himself, then it shifts for Ebenezer and J.P. Morgan. Kanye West's appearance basically counts as a musical Genre Shift, which plays out for the rest of the battle.
Look at Freddie Mercury's background as his verses go on. It starts out as a black sky with some almost invisible clouds, but as he continues and gets louder and hammier, we see flashes of light and the clouds become more visible. Compared to the usual consistent backgrounds, this is a neat touch.
Edward Kenway appears in the background all through Capone's last verse, and is busy dispatching Blackbeard's crew when his name is dropped.
During the Donald Trump vs. Ebenezer Scrooge battle, look at Scrooge's background, more precisely at his clock.During his verses it moves forward by a hour each, and the ghosts (JP Morgan, Kanye West and the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come) appear when it strikes 1, 2, and 3 respectively.
Medium Blending: During his first verse, Elvis vacillates between rapping and singing to the tune of "Jailhouse Rock".
Babe Ruth manages to rap in the style of a radio sports announcer and barely pauses for a breath once he starts.
"Weird Al" Yankovic did to math equations what George Watsky did to Shakespeare. Both of Isaac Newton's verses are actually rather lengthy, but speed by pretty fast. However, in his 2nd verse, he prattles off a very complex math equation at super speed.
Mythology Gag: Though the Turtles appear in their traditionally colored masks, when Mikey spits his first line, the three other Turtles appear from behind him all wearing their original red masks. note Though the comics were in black and white, early covers show them all wearing red masks, as seen on The Other Wiki
Never Work with Children or Animals: The BTS for Bob Ross vs Picasso implies that they were originally going to pan down to Bob (the wiener dog playing Lump) when Picasso mentioned him, but couldn't get Bob to stay still long enough to pull it off.
Lloyd as Picasso: *chasing after Bob* He's too fast!
News Parody: The first battle has a parody news ticker that shows up twice.
Noble Bird Of Prey: A gigantic bald eagle makes an appearance in Obama vs. Romney as Abe Lincoln's way of getting to the battle.
"By the powers invested in me by this giant bald bird…"
Frank Sinatra vs Freddie Mercury, which is heavily influenced by Queen's Genre-Busting style, specifically the operatic and hard rock.
Mozart vs Skrillex, which emulates both artists' styles very well.
Overly Long Name: Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso takes up much of one of his verses just saying out his name.
Perception Filter: By the time you get around to Hitler Vs. Vader 3, you're probably so used to seeing suggestions for the battle you just saw during the closing line, that unrelated comments such as "is that pewdiepie" and "BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUH :(" pass without notice.
Pirate: Blackbeard is a Type 1; pure evil and very dangerous.
"Blackbeard vs. Al Capone" starts and ends by giving thanks to Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. Edward Kenway is even mentioned in the lyrics AND seen in the background behind both Capone and Blackbeard, eventually killing a few pirates in traditional assassin style, not to mention the other subtle references to the game.
Lloyd spends a good minute advertising for a company that donated 100% organic, fully compostable eating utensils and dishware in the BTS of Donald Trump vs. Ebeneezer Scrooge. He even points out the company's address with a full display on the screen.
In the announcement for "Season 3.5" Teddy Roosevelt wants to make sure everyone knows about the US government's new healthcare website, although he calls it "POLARIZING NEWS" and says he doesn't "give a damn" whether viewers like or hate it, as long as they know about it.
Pun: While not usually part of one of the rap battles themselves, Charles Darwin hosts ERB News and spits out two of them.
Blink and you'll miss it, but after Napoleon (Bonaparte) threatens to beat Napoleon (Dynamite) "so bad they'll make a virgin meringue," the former briefly appears in chef's garb, whisking something in a bowl.
Walter White cooks a dish called "Blue Sky," which is, of course, meth.
Abe Lincoln interrupts the battle between Romney and Obama to deliver one of these.
Lincoln: *To Obama* You! I wanna like you! Don't talk about change, just do it! I fought for what was on my brain until a bullet went through iiiiit! *To Romney* And you! Moneybags! You're a pancake, you're flip-floppity! It's a country, not a company, you can play like Monopoly!
Babe Ruth also gives Lance Armstrong one of these with both barrels, in the rapid-fire style of a radio sports announcer. He takes four long sentences to nail Armstrong for forgetting "what real sportsmanship was!" before finally pausing for breath.
Babe Ruth: It's the bottom of the ninth against the Texan in a bathing suit, filled with more artificial ingredients than a Baby Ruth And it may be way too soon, but I'm calling my shot, and I'm not talking about those Italian syringes you brought The Sultan of Swat'll knock you right outta the park and round the bases to the sound of uproaring applause While you hang your head in shame and disgrace because you got lost and forgot what real sportsmanship was!
Lenin delivers an awesome one to Josef Stalin about how communism was about bringing down social classes and benefit the proletariat, yet he used it to hop himself to power, and stopped a great revolution.
Reflective Eyes: EpicLloyd pulls off an impressive quick change backflip in the reflection of NicePeter's sunglasses.
Reset Button: The Doc Brown vs. Doctor Who video is stuck in a time loop. The "EPIC RAP BATTLES OF HISTORY" logo itself is used the exact same way at both the beginning and end of the video, at which point the video resets to give the Tenth Doctor another chance … but he just turns off the video with his sonic screwdriver.
Retraux: Various people from history are presented through the lens(es) of their respective time periods:
Anyone famous from the 1920s through the 1960s—including Babe Ruth, Marilyn Monroe, Martin Luther King Jr. and more—will be Deliberately Monochrome. note Figures older than this are usually in color, possibly because our collective mental images of them are from either paintings or later color fictional portrayals. In Cleopatra vs. Marilyn Monroe and Gandhi vs. MLK Jr., the former is in color while the latter is in B&W.
Hitler's verses until Vader uses the horse to bring him into his own screen. May double as Anachronism Stew when you notice that Vader claims that he came before Hitler, and all of his screentime is shot in color. Then again, he does hail from a galaxy far, far away.
Martin Luther King Jr. stays in monochrome even when he crosses over into Gandhi's colored setting.
The Wright Brothers have a grainy sepia tone and their audio is processed to sound like it was recorded on a phonograph.
Aside from the fact that young Elvis is shot in monochrome, both old Elvis and young Michael are shown as if on 1970's television. Old Michael even has a special filter on him that makes him appear as in the '90s video clips.
Bruce Lee Vs Clint Eastwood have a retro colour filter for both contestants.
A meta example in NicePeter vs. EpicLloyd; when Peter turns into John Lennon, the image quality of him is much poorer, as a reference to the poor image quality of the John Lennon vs. Bill O'Reilly video, as it was their first video and had only a $50 budget.
Lenin is shown in red and white, making him appear as if he stepped out of a Russian Revolution-era propaganda poster.
Retired Badass: Bob Ross served 20 years in the United States Air horse.
The Reveal: The Narrator is a bear, apparently… That is, until he was next revealed to be a hippopotamus. Or a Giraffe. Or a snake.
EpicLloyd: You know what's in that jetpack, don't you? [beat] Rocket fuel.
Invoked but Defied in the BTS of Michael Jordan vs. Muhammad Ali. Lloyd is trying to show off the snack table, including a cake that the catering lady brought in. When the camera wanders to look elsewhere, Lloyd calls them out on it before storming off.
In Rick Grimes vs. Walter White's BTS, Peter informs Lloyd that, tragically, "the heroin joke didn't make it." Then they hold a melodramatic funeral for said joke, implying that we will never hear it again.
Lloyd also sometimes dresses up in part of the costume and imitates the announcer.
Lloyd:(with Gandalf's beard) "The Oakridge Boys Vs. ZZ Top!"
There also seems to be one in the second season's behind the scenes videos of people not recognizing who one of the rappers is supposed to be, such as one man not realizing Lloyd was dressed as Mario.
Each season finale tends to top the last one. The Season 2 finale had five rappers (Rasputin, Stalin, Lenin, Gorbachev, Putin), which at the time was the biggest group in any one video. The season 3 finale tops that by having a whopping eight rappers perform (Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael the artists versus Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael the Turtles). On the other hand though, the video itself is 2 minutes 14 seconds long. Not counting the 15 seconds it takes to introduce the characters, the actual rapping between these 8 characters is only 1 minute 25 seconds— One of the shortest matches in the series.
Serial Escalation: The season two finale. Rasputin gives his verse. Then Stalin gives his. Then Vladimir Lenin drops in and starts trashing both of them. Okay, he's probably just the Russian equivalent of Abraham Lincoln... Then, knock knock, and it's Mikhail Gorbachev, pulling a Who's on First? with his 'birthmarks'. Then it's Vladimir Putin. "And for god's sake, we need a Russian!" indeed.
Halo's Master Chief was correctly identified as a Petty Officernote Full title; "Master Chief Special Warfare Operator of the Navy John-117" by his foe Leonidas, which most players are unaware of.
Freddie Mercury vs. Frank Sinatra referenced Frank's mob ties, the fact that he didn't get in the military during WW2, and the fact that his most famous song "My Way" was actually written by someone else.
Skrillex claims that Mozart is "into powdered wigs and poop". Sounds out of place, doesn't it? Actually...
Most people know very little about Stalin's family, especially the fact that he left one of his sons to die in a German prison instead of trading him for a German Field Marshall.
Likewise for his shriveled right hand, which he was highly self-conscious about throughout his life.
They took pains to be as accurate as possible with Stephen Hawking's pose in Einstein vs. Hawking in order to avoid offensive portrayals of the disabled.
Peter took it upon himself to watch every single episode of Breaking Bad and read up on Dragon Ball after the first half of Season 3 ended in order to prepare lyrics for the episodes featuring characters from the franchises in question - no small feat.
Superman makes several references to the fact that many Dragon Ball Z characters happen to be named after vegetables, a result of the aforementioned work Peter did.
Doesn't actually happen, but Mario tells the Wright Brothers to "just get back in [their] biplane and make out with each other".
Decidedly did happen with Cleopatra and her brothers.
The Singularity: What HAL's rap in Bill Gates vs. Steve Jobs seems to be all about.
Slap-Slap-Kiss: Defied. After Adam realizes that he may have gone too far with calling Eve a colossal bitch, he apologizes, and she apologizes for everything she said as well. Adam wants to give her a hug to make up, but she'll be having none of it.
Stephen Hawking's verses are played using Auto-Tune vocals instead of a synthesized voice, because they couldn't get the synth to use a proper rhythym. He's the only rapper yet that has had said treatment.
Shakespeare's second verse. Turns out he can rapreallyfast. This was to be expected, as he was played by George Watsky, one of the fastest rappers on YouTube.
Steve Jobs vs Gates: instead of sticking to the formulaic two verses per rapper (2 vs 1 battles notwithstanding), Jobs and Gates end up switching back and forth every line for a while:
Jobs: Ooh, everybody knows Windows bit off Apple.
Gates: I tripled the profits on a PC.
Jobs: All the people with the power to create use an Apple!
Gates: And people with jobs use PC.
Jobs: You know, I bet they made this beat on an Apple!
Gates: Nope, FruityLoops, PC.
Jobs: You will never ever catch a virus on an Apple!
Gates: Well, you can still afford a doctor if you bought a PC.
Then, of course, there was HAL.
It's getting more common. Marilyn Monroe vs. Cleopatra was 3 to 2 verses respectively, while Mitt Romney vs. Barack Obama had one big verse for each and smaller verses as the song goes on, similar to the above.
Then, of course, there was Abraham Lincoln.
"Adam vs. Eve". Instead of raps actually relating to the story of Adam and Eve, it's mostly just a generic married couple bickering set to music. This one was expected since some of the comment suggestions that went with it were "Man vs. Woman"
"Stalin vs. Rasputin" is possibly the strangest example yet, with 5 rappers each getting one verse.
"Michael Jordan vs. Muhammad Ali" gave both rappers three verses instead of the usual two.
Like "Stalin vs. Rasputin", "Donald Trump vs. Ebeneezer Scrooge" also features 5 rappers: Donald, Ebeneezer, J.P. Morgan (The Ghost of Rich Dudes Past), Kanye West (The Ghost of What's Right Now), and The Grim Reaper. However, Ebeneezer gets a whole verse in response to each of the other four. The episode was also different in the the rap itself tells a progressing story; even in the Vader vs Hitler trilogy, the story only happened before and after the battles.
"What's up, bitches? My name is Sir Isaac Newton. I am a philosopher, a mathematician and I invented so much sweet shit you wouldn't believe.
Special Effects Failure: Invoked. Doc Brown makes fun of how lame the special effects are in the Doctor Who series.
Spell My Name with an "S": Hitler's first name is spelt 'Adolph' on his title card at the beginning, but is spelled in the more conventional way, 'Adolf', in the subtitles where he introduces himself. Both spellings are valid. In the rematch, however, Hitler's title card actually uses the spelling 'Adolf'.
Spin-Off: 9 The Official Fanzine type that shows the behind the scenes and extra info.
Epic Rap Battles of History—Behind the Scenes
Epic Drawings of History with Marydoodles
Epic Makeup with Ceciley
Epic Dance Battles of History
The following follow along the lines of the Re-imagining type of Spin-Off:
Epic Cartoon Rap Battles Of History by The Infinite Source.
"I spit hot borscht when I'm crushing these beats!" note Borscht is a Russian dish made by crushing beets, or in this case, beats.
"Took Trotsky out of the picture"
"I'm a President in my Prime"
"The last man who attacked me lived a half-life"
"I see a universe of infinite energy, but no potential for threat from this enemy."
"You're the least talented rat in your whole pack of rodents!"
"Your highest calling was a text from Wiz Khalifa." note Khalifa is known for tremendous marijuana consumption, so a message from him would be a "high calling" indeed.
Superman being a "greasy slick MC from DC."note The obvious reference is Superman's hailing from DC Comics, but "DC" is a common name for Washington, D.C., the capital of the US, referencing Superman's being the All American Face.
Stylistic Suck: Everyone is basically this, due to the whole premise being a rap battle.
Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney takes the cake, really. Both of them have incredibly stilted speech that you'd expect from career politicians, and the battle eventually dissolves into childish bickering. Then Abraham Lincoln shows up…
Title Scream: EPIC RAP BATTLES OF HISTORYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!
Time Skip: In the Elvis Presley VS Michael Jackson fight, both characters go through this. Michael spins into his older, whiter self, and Elvis gets fat from eating too much.
Timey-Wimey Ball: The Doctor begins explaining how space and time work, then says 'nevermind' and gives Doc Brown the nut shell.
Toilet Humor: Elvis Presley's death on the can is inevitably brought up when he fights Michael Jackson.
Elvis: Well I died on the shitter, but I don't give a crap!
Not to mention NicePeter likes to pantomime popping a squat. He's done it twice, as Donald Trump and Mozart, the latter of which was known for his scatological interests which are brought up numerous times during the battle.
In his second verse, Martin Luther King is accompanied by a group of people, all of whom are black except for the one white guy played by Lloyd. Similarly, in Gandhi's second verse, he's accompanied by Indians and one white reverend played by Nice Peter.
Captain Kirk wonders if Queen Isabella would like his "Captain's Log".
Mozart's cousin "blew notes" on his "little magic flute".
Viewers Are Geniuses: Even with a concept so simple as "take two or more historical figures/characters/celebrities", it's surprising just how many allusions to various events and traits of the characters in question can be found under the surface of the lyrics. Fittingly enough, the users of Rap Genius go intodepth with these, as do members of the Epic Rap Battles Of HistoryWiki.
Picasso claims that he can make better art with his weiner... Lump!
When Donatello (the turtle) says "I don't Gattamelata clue what you do," we briefly Donatello (the sculptor) working on his famed sculpture of Gattamelata.
Walking Spoiler: It's hard to discuss Lenin, Gorbachev, and Putin's role in the season 2 finale without lessening the impact of their arrival.
We All Live in America: Many of the Epic Rap Battles will feature at least one American character. The exceptions so far are Vader vs. Hitler, Genghis Khan vs. the Easter Bunny, Gandalf vs. Dumbledore, Beethoven vs. Bieber, Einstein vs. Hawking, Master Chief vs. Leonidas, Moses vs. Santa Claus, Adam vs. Eve, and Rasputin vs. Stalin.
Wham Line: The introduction of a third side is usually this.
"I'm sorry Bill, I'm afraid I can't do that." HAL's intro.
"CAW!" The eagle introducing Abraham Lincoln in the Obama/Romney battle, the first time a rapper returned outside of the Hitler/Vader rematch
There are several in the season 2 finale:
"I have no pride for you who ruined everything my revolution was doing to stop the bourgeoisie!" Lenin's introduction.
"Did somebody say 'birthmarks'?" Gorbachev's intro, the first time we got a fourth side.
Followed by "Did somebody say 'real power'?" Putin's intro, forming a fifth side.
Writer on Board: While most battles have all participants nail a few key blows against their opponents, or have a weak start with a killer Wham Line finish, others are so lop-sided (or have a special guest who acts as a mouthpiece) that it's clear the writers heavily favor one side. While nobody's going to dispute who should win in Genghis Khan vs. the Easter Bunny, the slant in other episodes has led to some Internet Backdraft against fans who take exception.
Vader to Hitler: "So many dudes been with your mom, who even knows if I'm your father?"
Hawking to Einstein: "There are ten million million million million million million million million million particles in the universe that we can observe/ Your mama took the ugly ones and put them into one nerd".
Inverted by Obama, who compliments Romney's father as a Take That to Romney:
"They say your father was a great man, you must be what's left."
Bruce Lee: "I beat the Good, and the Bad. You must be the ugly. I would mess up your face, but your mama did it for me!"