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YMMV: Epic Rap Battles of History

  • Acceptable Targets: Adolf Hitler is the only character to have something horrible happen to him at the end of the video. Three times. Whether or not you think he raps better than Vader, he's Adolf Hitler and Vader is allowed to kill him at the end of every video because he's that evil.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Bill Nye. Nice Guy who spends half his verse praising his opponent, or a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who uses compliments to segue into cheap shots on Newton's personal life?
  • Awesome Music: The series has a number of epic beats. Matches that stand out include:
    • Any "Darth Vader vs. Adolf Hitler" match. The first has a significant improvement in musical and lyrical quality over "John Lennon vs. Bill O'Reilly", the second has the soundtrack of Van Helsing as its background music, and the third has some particularly memorable lyrics.
    • "Abraham Lincoln vs. Chuck Norris".
    • Bob Ross vs. Pablo Picasso has an awesome track and is one of the closest matchups in the series.
    • "Ludwig Van Beethoven vs. Justin Bieber".
    • "Albert Einstein vs. Stephen Hawking".
    • "Genghis Khan vs The Easter Bunny."
    • "Napoleon Dynamite vs. Napoleon Bonaparte".
    • "Dr. Seuss vs. William Shakespeare" has Shakespeare's second verse, which leaves the Cat In The Hat dumbfounded and impressed. That's not to say that the Cat In The Hat was a slouch, either.
    • "Columbus vs. Kirk". Not quite Ominous Latin Chanting, but it's close, and still epic.
    • "NicePeter vs. EpicLloyd". That beat wouldn't sound out of place on a radio song.
    • "Mario Bros vs. Wright Bros". It sounds exactly like a soundtrack from a typical Super Mario game.
    • "Michael Jackson vs. Elvis Presley".
    • "Cleopatra vs. Marilyn Monroe" has a very fitting Egyptian-themed beat behind it and it makes the rap battle that much more awesome.
    • "Bill Gates vs. Steve Jobs", in addition to having an awesome beat, also has the honor of winning the honor of "Best Original Song" from the 3rd Streamy Awards.
    • "Frank Sinatra vs. Freddie Mercury", which subtly includes the beat from "We Will Rock You".
    • "Bruce Lee vs. Clint Eastwood".
    • "Moses vs. Santa Claus".
    • "Mohandas Gandhi vs Martin Luther King Jr."
    • "Thomas Edison vs. Nikola Tesla". The beat and the lyrics flow well with each other almost better than all previous episodes. Plus, the beat almost makes the Battle sound like a Mega Man (Classic) game!
    • "Lance Armstrong vs. Babe Ruth"- The beat sounds exactly like what you'd hear in a serious rap song.
    • "Mozart vs. Skrillex". One of the best music beats in ERB, it combines dubstep with Mozart's music to create a seriously awesome beat.
    • "Blackbeard vs. Al Capone" can easily be used as a film or video game score.
    • "Rick Grimes vs. Walter White" has a nice dramatic undertone, fitting considering who the combatants are.
    • "Goku vs. Superman" has a suitably epic industrial beat for a pair of Invincible Heroes, along with some of the best lyrics in all of Season 3.
    • The beat to "Artists vs. TMNT" is awesome.
  • Base Breaker: Chuck Norris. His fans love his portrayal in the series, but a number of other people don't really like the Memetic Badass jokes that comprise most of his rap.
    • They seemed to be well aware that talking about the Affordable Care Act in ERB News 3.5 would be very divisive, describing it as "Polarizing News."
    Theodore Roosevelt: Some people will hate it. (clip of Lincoln smacking Obama) Some people will love it. (clip of Lincoln smacking Romney) I! Don't! Give A! Damn!
  • Broken Base:
    • Batman vs. Sherlock Holmes is possibly the most polarizing episode yet. Half the fans like it just fine, the other half found Batman's delivery of his verses to be off-putting, on top of Batman having very few good lines.note 
    • Some comments in the Gandhi VS MLK battle suggest that more than a few people didn't find the portrayal of either all that honorable towards the men.
    • Adam vs Eve, for not being about Adam and Eve so much as a rap battle between Man and Woman. Also, it's arguably the most raunchy of the battles.
    • There's also a division between the fans that want to see more matches between Adolf Hitler and Darth Vader and fans who think that the battles between the two are getting stale and the focus of the show should be placed elsewhere. The latter was acknowledged in "Hitler vs. Vader 3" in the form of an included comment.
    • Reception to Miley Cyrus vs Joan of Arc has proved to be pretty divided so far: while some people are fine with it, it has a share of detractors who think it's one of the worst battles. There are also fans who are disappointed at the match-up and wish Joan had gotten a different opponent.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: This series, much like actual rap battles, lives on this trope.
  • Dude, Not Funny!:
    • Using Marilyn Monroe's multiple miscarriages and her death by barbiturate overdose as "disses" in "Cleopatra vs. Marilyn Monroe". Obviously, rap battles aren't expected to be civil, but still.
    • A couple of Hitler's lines come off as this to some.
    • Clint Eastwood's lines about Bruce Lee's death by aspirin and the death of his son were seen as low by some.
    • Einstein makes fun of Stephen Hawking being in a wheelchair, and more than once.
    • Sherlock Holmes might have taken it a bit far with his insults about Batman's parents' murder.
    • Frank Sinatra's making fun of Freddie Mercury's AIDS could also come across as this.
    • While Hitler is at least sort of Laughably Evil, Joseph Stalin here is just as horrifically unstable as the real Joseph Stalin.
    • Putin's Implied Death Threat can come off this way, as he may really have had a man assassinated with radioactive material to cause a painful, lingering death that the KGB used to perform, but is virtually impossible to trace to the killer.
    • For some of the more religious viewers, the inclusion of Moses, Adam, and Eve.
    • Elvis Presley mocking a child Michael Jackson for being beaten by his father.
    • Some may find Muhammad Ali's trivialization of the murder of Michael Jordan's father a tad much, especially given how he only brought it up to lead into a punch line that Jordan's baseball career was "the real tragedy". Then again, Jordan takes a shot at Ali's Parkinson's Disease earlier in the video.
    • In Goku vs. Superman, the former even drops a joke about Christopher Reeve's crippling, which is still pretty touchy for some viewers. Not to mention the latter dropping a (rap) bomb on Japan, even if it's a metaphorical bomb.
    • Sarah Palin's many transmisogynistic lines against Lady Gaga, which is somehow made worse by the Crosscast Role.
  • Ear Worm:
    Capone: (to Blackbeard) "I run an intricate criminal syndicate, so show respect. Or get that tongue ripped out your neck and shoved straight up your poopdeck."
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Boba Fett. He only appears for eight seconds and gets killed by Hitler of all people, but his lines were so awesome that he's become very popular, with people pleading for him to return. Interestingly enough, he was voiced by Ray William Johnson, a particularly divisive YouTube personality, which shows how much people liked the character.
    • Nikola Tesla. His battle with Thomas Edison was one of the most requested rap battles up until they fought. He also is one of the few battlers to be overwhelmingly considered by fans to have curb stomped his opponent.
    • Edward Kenway. His cameo in Blackbeard vs. Al Capone was so popular, there is a huge, increasing number of fans begging for him to have his own battle.
    • Raphael and Michelangelo are quite popular due to both of them being played by Smosh.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Rap Battle #5; The Macho Man died about 4 months later after it was released. Then Kim Jong-Il passed away in December, though Kim could be considered an Acceptable Target, much like Hitler. They later added a brief annotation honoring Randy Savage's memory. Kim Jong-Il? Meh, who cares.
    • In-Universe, Ben Franklin jokes that the battle's going to mark the Death of a Salesman. Just after he starts his second verse, Billy Mays kicks the bucket.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Happens constantly during "Einstein vs. Hawking", obviously. For example, p-brane (pronounced the same as pea-brain) is a vital element in string theory. Also, 'relatively blown' and 'Albert E equals MC square' refers to Einstein's best known theory (relativity).
    • The entirety of Shakespeare's first verse is in iambic pentameter. Minds will be blown. It's complete with Ye Olde Englishe phrases, pronunciation and theatrical gestures.
    • Similar to Shakespeare above, Edgar Allan Poe's first verse is in trochee, the inverse of iambic. It even contains a modified line from The Raven.
    • Said to the Wright Brothers: "You might fly like a hawk, but you fight like a kitty!"
    • Bill Gates VS Steve Jobs is full of tech-based jokes. There's a delicious double pun in the line "I think different from the engine of the days of old" - simultaneously playing on Apple's old slogan and Charles Babbage's original computer.
    • Mozart vs. Skrillex is full of awesome music in-jokes—musical terms relevant both to composition and synthesizers, references to several famous electronic musicians, and even a reference to Mozart's tendencies to wax scatological.
    • Vader off-handedly referring to the Stormtrooper clones being superior to Hitler's.
    • Understanding "Rasputin vs. Stalin" requires quite a bit of knowledge on Russian history:
      • Joseph Stalin's right hand was reportedly withered, which is directly referenced by Lenin.
      • Stalin's boast about taking Leon Trotsky "out of the picture" is both literal and figurative, as Stalin orchestrated Trotsky's exile (and possibly assassination), and later altered photographs to remove Trotsky from Lenin's side.
    • Gandhi's advice telling MLK 'With protests and women the same advice goes, always stay away from the ho's' isn't just a fun play on the word 'hose,' which MLK's followers got hit with a lot in protests, but also a reference to the lesser-known allegations of adultery often leveled at him.
    • "My technique will make your mistress weep / put her to sleep, elbow drop a dream, I go deep" is an extended reference to Picasso's "The Dream". Dora Maar, Picasso's mistress, posed for the painting, and it tore a bit when someone pushed his elbow into it. Also, Bob Ross's line: "I keep it mellow, like I'm cadium yellow. I'm a bright like titanium white kinda fellow" is a reference to the fact that cadium yellow and titanium white were two of the most consistently used colors in his paintings.
    • The two kids Kanye West ends his verse with in "Donald Trump vs. Ebenezer Scrooge" aren't random homeless children, they're Ignorance and Want, two children who serve the same function in the original Dickens novella.
    • Much like Einstein vs. Hawking, Newton Vs. Nye has plenty of Genius Bonus, particularly when Newton brings out an equation from one of his works.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Hitler vs. Darth Vader: Vader tells Hitler (played by Lloyd) that he has a Napoleon dick. Lloyd later plays the French man himself in a later video.
      • In the same video, Vader moonwalks. He was played by NicePeter, as was the adult Michael Jackson in season two.
      • In the rematch, Vader comments that he's "on the leader of your limp-dicked Luftwaffe" before making a reference to Lucas's other famous production, Indiana Jones. Then another Lucas production about pilots taking down the Luftwaffe came out.
      • In the third installment, Hitler tells Vader "I beat you twice you sellout and now you bow down to Mickey Mouse.". Now, Maker Studios, the company that produces Epic Rap Battles of History, does as well.
    • Sarah Palin vs. Lady Gaga: Lady Gaga makes a reference to the Jackson 5. 15 episodes later, The King of Pop himself (with a short appearance by his sibs) takes a shot at the mic. Both Gaga and Adult!MJ are played by Nice Peter to boot.
    • Justin Bieber vs. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Bieber says he's the next Michael Jackson. MJ himself appears later.
    • Albert Einstein vs. Stephen Hawking: The line "I'm the Snoop Dogg of science". Later, Snoop Dogg appears as Moses in a later episode.
    • Genghis Khan vs. The Easter Bunny: Genghis Khan tells the Easter Bunny that he's about to feel Wrath of Khan before Captain Kirk appeared in a rap.
    • Benjamin Franklin vs. Billy Mays The line "Call me Arthur Miller, son..." becomes funnier considering the wife of Arthur Miller, Marilyn Monroe, would appear as a rapping contestant later on.
      • "Your Boy George chopped down trees" said by Vince Offer (played by Peter), before George Washington (also played by Peter) appears in a battle.
    • Nice Peter vs. Epic Lloyd: Kassem G is named in Cleopatra vs. Marilyn Monroe (he also appears there) and appears as one of the soldiers in the third Hitler vs. Vader.
      • The Stinger for Season 2 has a quote from Vladimir Putin appears, saying that he will kill Nice Peter if Season 2 does not have a Russian character. The Season 2 finale has five Russian characters, one of which is Putin.
    • Wright Bros. vs. Mario Bros.: The Maro Brod have the line "You may fly like a hawk, but you fight like a kitty." Fight like a kitty, you say?
    • Michael Jackson vs. Elvis Presley: Elvis to MJ: "you like to grab your own wanger". In the Season 2 finale, Mikhail Gorbachev does just that ("I got the balls to let Baryshnikov dance, playa!"). Both are played by Lloyd.
    • Cleopatra vs Marilyn Monroe the line "overthrows pharaohs who oppose me like Moses". Moses himself later appears in Moses vs. Santa Claus.
    • Bill Gates vs. Steve Jobs: One of the lines from Bill Gates is, "I'm a God! Own Xbox!" Along comes Xbox One...
    • Frank Sinatra vs. Freddie Mercury: Freddie claims Frank was "in the pocket of The Mafia". Lloyd, who played Frank, later portrayed the best known face of the Mafia, Al Capone. So much for plausible deniability.
    • Babe Ruth vs. Lance Armstrong: In the behind the scenes, Peter says Lance Armstrong (who he plays) is like Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead. Peter later raps as Rick in Rick Grimes vs Walter White.
    • Grigori Rasputin vs. Josef Stalin: The line "If you're the Man of Steel I spit Kryptonite" from the former to the latter (played by Lloyd). Superman himself appears latter in Goku vs. Superman and is also played by Lloyd.
    • Bob Ross vs. Pablo Picasso: Pablo called himself "the greatest, the modern art Muhammad Ali". What's the next rap battle? Michael Jordan vs Muhammad Ali.
    • Isaac Newton vs. Bill Nye: A mere month and a half after the battle was published, the cover of the September 2014 issue of Popular Science has Nye appearing in a boxing-like posing.
  • Ho Yay:
    • The reference to Steve likely refers to the fundamentalist/anti-gay slogan "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve".
    • Freddie Mercury mixes this with Foe Yay in his final line to Sinatra.
  • It's Short, so It Sucks : A common complaint on Artists vs. Turtles is that it's too short for an 8 person Battle, and that the Turtles' verses are half as long as the Artists.
  • Memetic Badass: Abe Lincoln. In his first appearance, he raps against fellow Memetic Badass Chuck Norris. In his next appearance, he's carried in by a giant eagle to deliver a verbal beatdown to Obama and Romney.
  • Memetic Outfit: Bruce Lee's wearing the yellow jumpsuit from Game of Death. Younger viewers may recognize this outfit from Kill Bill.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Seriously, Hitler, it wasn't cool shooting Vader's homeboy when he didn't want to mess with you anymore. Vader straight up kills him because of it.
  • Most Annoying Sound: A bizarre example as it doesn't come from the Epic Rap Battles at all. After "Bill Gates vs Steve Jobs" battle came out, many fans went looking for an instrumental version of the beat used, only to quickly grow tired of the original's use of "Tristan on the track" as a refrain. Tellingly, numerous versions now exist on youtube, editing it out.
  • Nausea Fuel: In the Making Of video for "Elvis vs. Michael Jackson", there is a clip of Epic Lloyd spitting out half-eaten bananas into a trash can. He doesn't like bananas too much.
    • George Washington's teeth can get a bit distracting due to this.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Mr. Rogers is rather creepy in his portrayal.
    • Bill O'Reilly's eyes when he says he's evil.
    • There's something very off-setting about Justin Bieber. His giggles and the fact that he looks creepy, insane and evil at times makes him seem like a creepy doll.
    • Dr. Seuss can be quite disturbing as The Voiceless Marionette Master that he is. Despite being in a participant in a rap battle, he never says a word, only grinning and glaring menacingly while summoning his creations to battle for him.
    • Darth Vader in the Season 2 rematch when he removes his helmet.
    • HAL 9000 intrudes on the battle between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. He's appropriately eerie, boasting of his superiority in that infamous monotone of his. The most terrifying thing about him is that he does not seem to move on his own, nor does he emote.
    • After Steve Jobs dies in his battle with Bill Gates, Gates seems to go insane, especially compared to his previous Tranquil Fury... just look at his last verse:
    I'm a god! Own Xbox!
    Now there's no one that can stop me! THE WORLD IS MINE!
    • The especially creepy part is how he seems to realize this mid-verse, going from yelling at Steve's death to "I'm alone now, with nothing but power and time...and no one on Earth who can challenge my mind!" His sudden change is frightening.
    • Skrillex briefly turns into a "Scary Monster" that looks kind of creepy.
    • Stalin's portrayal is quite...unsettling. Most of his lines are part of a long, thorough death threat towards Rasputin and everyone he knows. What makes this worse was that he wasn't any better in Real Life.
    • Thing 1 and Thing 2's high pitched voices, creepy look and Ax-Crazy lines make them scary.
    • The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come is as dark and creepy as he is in the book, albeit averting The Voiceless in favour of Evil Sounds Deep (or rather morally ambiguous). He's not once played for laughs either, and there's only a second's indication that he'll turn up. Nice Peter even invokes this in the Behind the Scenes video.
    "Boo! You're gonna die, with no one to love you and no one to cry!
  • Older Than They Think: There's a small group who considers Rhett & Link's Epic Rap Battles to be ripoffs of these; their first Epic Rap Battle (the straight-up match between the two) predates John Lennon Vs Bill O Reilly.note 
  • One-Scene Wonder: Boba Fett appears for all of maybe eight seconds in the season 3 premiere. The half-verse that he does manage to get is awesome.
  • Painful Rhyme: Being based on rap, this was unfortunately inevitable.
    • "Look at these two, their lives must've been horrible / Two dorky dudes named Wilbur and Or-i-ville"
    • Rhyming "streets" with "mysteries" in Batman vs. Sherlock Holmes.
    • Einstein rhyming "serious" with "theory was"
    • Lenin rhymes 'Right hand man' with... 'Right hand, man.' The context it's used in is clever, but it's still unpleasant to the ear.
    • Edison rhymes "gently" with "directly".
    • "Cleopatra vs Marilyn Monroe" is full of these.
      • "Whose rap flows the dopest? Marilyn Monroe's is"
      • "You wear too much eyeliner for anyone to adore you/You might as well be working on the door at Sephora" is probably one of the most painful rhymes in ERB yet.
    • Not a painful rhyme but, due to where he puts the emphases, Blackbeard's line "You're an obese greasy sleaze squeezing a diseased peter" definitely doesn't flow as well as it could.
      • In the same battle, it's clear that Blackbeard's trying to rhyme "Irate" and "Pirate" in an earlier line.
    • The last six lines of Rasputin's verse respectively end with: "mind," "price," "lives," "Kryptonite," "hypnotize," and "wife."
    • Muhammad Ali turning "wobblin'" and "goblin" into three-syllable words.
    • More subtle, but in Skrillex vs. Mozart, Mozart has to pronounce "here" very oddlynote  so he can rhyme it with "diarrhea". However, many people pronounce "here" in such a manner. Including many rappers, so this isn't so much a Painful Rhyme, but an accent thing.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Ray William Johnson is a fairly divisive YouTube user, to say the least, in part due to his =3 Fan Dumb as well as his vocal Hatedom from said show. However, he was able to stand his ground as an actor for the show, with many people considering his eight-second Boba Fett performance to be the best part of the third Adolf Hitler vs Darth Vader match, and a number of people considering his raps as Goku to be better than Superman's in the eponymous Goku vs Superman.
  • Rooting for the Empire: In the second Adolf Hitler vs Darth Vader battle, many people like Hitler better, even though he's definitely the more evil of the two. Of course, if you're on Vader's side, you're still rooting for the empire anyway.
  • Rule of Cool: The foundation of the whole series.
  • The Scrappy:
  • Special Effect Failure: In "Artists vs Turtles" when Mikey says the artists "...draws more dicks than New York Pride, Donnie, in the background with the other turtles, has a pair of sai instead of his bo staff.
    • After Holmes drops his killer punchline in his rap battle against Batman, Watson can be seen stepping over a railing in the background, revealing the fact that it's actually a greenscreen.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song:
  • They Just Didn't Care: In Artists vs TMNT, the Turtles tend to switch voices at random over the course of the song. All four of them are voiced by both Peter and Lloyd at some point. Granted, the only part of the song where it really matters is when each of the turtles gets their solo to rap about their Weapon of Choice and their namesake, and during that moment it's Peter as Leo/Raph and Lloyd as Mikey/Donnie, so one might call that the official lineup.
  • Tough Act to Follow:
    • George Washington vs William Wallace was considered by some to be extremely underwhelming, especially coming after the excellent string of battles that was Isaac Newton vs Bill Nye, Edgar Allan Poe vs Stephen King, and Goku vs Superman.
    • Season 3 in general compared to season 2. A common complaint is that few of the songs in season 3 is not as memorable.
  • Unconventional Learning Experience: Many rap battles can make people want to go out and learn about people like Newton, William Wallace, Gandhi, Da Vinci, etc, etc.
  • Unfortunate Implications: With all the 90+ Male Rappers in the Series, we have only 7 Female Rappers, usually with one Female battle per Season. The Smurfette Principle is in full effect here.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Goku vs. Superman. Particularly the Air Jousting at the end, and Goku turning Super Saiyan.
    • In Batman vs. Sherlock Holmes, the visual effects for Batman's first verse were pretty boss.
  • Win Back the Crowd: The fandom was displeased with the unannounced hiatus that happened after the Bill Gates VS Steve Jobs, some even going so far as to thinking that the work would become an Orphaned Series. Cue the announcement that the next six Rap Battles would be uploaded back-to-back every fortnight, followed by a holiday break and more episodes. This was impeded only by a small Schedule Slip in regards to Batman VS Sherlock Holmes.
  • The Woobie:
    • The Easter Bunny really bit off more than he could chew.
    • Freddie Mercury starts off as one. He spends most of Frank Sinatra's first verse and part of his first verse moping at his piano. Then he gets going.
    • Iron Woobie: It's subtle, but Vladimir Lenin apparently watched his most trusted student dismantle his efforts toward a socialist paradise in favor of a brutal dictatorship. The reason you don't notice is that Lenin vents about this with authority.

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