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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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • The hosts are 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!
    • Zeus vs. Thor has quickly proven to be one of the most divisive battles of Season 4, because the video for it was shot in Lego stopmotion.
    • Many people found Stephen King Vs. Edgar Allan Poe either unfair because Stephen King had a longer second verse, or fair because Poe's really fast rapping compensated for it.
    • Oprah vs Ellen: It followed an extremely well-received Jack the Ripper vs Hannibal Lecter, focused on two personalities that aren't well-known to some people outside the US, and the writing was weaker in some parts (Oprah rhymed 'ya' with 'ya' in her first line, for instance).
    • "Artists vs. Turtles" has caused a bit of division between people who love it, and people who thought that it was good but weak compared to other season finales. The fact that season 4 started with a battle even bigger than it suggests that Epic Lloyd and Nice Peter could have done a better job.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: This series, much like rap battles in general, 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 and his blatant anti-Asian racism 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.
    • Jack the Ripper claiming he's worse than the 7/7 bombers. Even Hannibal attacks him for making the reference, though he's more disgusted by Jack seeming desperate to stay relevant.
    • Mr. Stay Puft claiming he'd "flip Kari butterside up." The innuendo is comes off as creepy since the line references a real person.
  • 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."
    • Now there's Superman vs. Goku. Yeah... good luck resisting the replay button; much less, stopping it from looping infinitely inside your head.
    • Try to get Sir Isaac Newton vs Bill Nye out of your head.
    • Artists vs TMNT. The first verse of the Artists certainly help.
    • Ghostbusters Vs. Mythbusters. Especially the Mythbusters' first verse.
    • Michael Bay's beat in "Spielberg vs. Hitchcock" is pretty catchy, which is ironic considering his films are anything but memorable.
  • 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 (the artists) are quite popular due to both of them being played by Smosh.
    • According to many of the comments on YouTube, Mr. Stay Puft was best part of the Ghostbusters vs Mythbusters rap battle - with many saying he won.
    • Michael Bay's appearance in "Spielberg vs Hitchcock", where his raps are agreed on as some of the weakest in the battle, but the cinematography and effects are praised as excellent. In other words, Michael Bay's rap segment was just like a Michael Bay movie.
    • Cast-wise, Xin Wuku's stunts get a lot of love.
  • "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.
    • Zeus vs. Thor is packed with obscure details from both Classical Mythology and Norse Mythology, on top of comments about the Greek philosophers and the oft-forgotten Viking discovery of the American continent.
    • Just like in Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter never blinks on-screen.
    • Hannibal Lecter calls himself "the bon vivant of violence." "Bon vivant," translated literally from French, means "good liver."
    • Thor's line to Zeus: "we'll flyte it out." It's not just a pun on "fight." Flyting was a common Norse custom involving a rapid-fire exchange of insults, usually in verse and sometimes set to music; essentially ancient rap battling. While old Norse poems do make it clear that Thor engaged in flyting, he was never as skilled in it as Loki, which means Zeus is likely correct when he says "Loki must have written your lines!"
    • Alfred Hitchcock's line "I squeeze screams out of chocolate syrup!" would sound out of place for anyone who isn't familiar with Psycho, in which chocolate syrup was used as fake blood in the infamous shower scene.
  • 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. Ludwig van Beethoven: 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.
    • Note the winged wolf that Kassem G appears with. What's the only winged wolf from a tv show at the time? Silverbolt in Beast Wars Transformers. It took them four movies, but the man himself finally cameoed in one.
    • Wright Bros. vs. Mario Bros.: The Maro Bros. 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.
    • The BTS for the season 3 finale has Peter appearing 'in a box' ie. an inset as he was out of town at the time. The BTS for the start of season 4 has Peter playing around in a box, the one the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man costume came in!
    • Jack the Ripper vs Hannibal Lecter: Jack the Ripper claims that Hannibal is forgotten and that nowadays people watch Dexter. Dexter's series finale ended in September 2013 while Hannibal premiered in May 2013. At the time this rap battle premiered, Hannibal had garnered enough popularity to warrant a third seasion on NBC.
  • 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.
  • Internet Backdraft: Only a minor example, but ERB caught quite a bit of flak for tipping over the piano in "Bieber vs. Beethoven". The amount of work that goes into creating an instrument like a piano, much of which is impossible to do with a machine and requires intense hand labor, causes many people to treat them as works of art unto themselves and destroying one is considered a major offense to music lovers.
  • 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.
  • 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 Mutation: The "Ghostbusters vs. Mythbusters" battle has created two, so far:
    • Go on almost any YouTube vid of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man these days, and there's bound to be at least 2-3 comments quoting Stay Puft's, "I live so large, you can't harsh my mellow". Which'll usually followed by another comment quoting the next line, "Just one step took me out the ghetto".
    • Likewise, Winston's "Tell 'em 'bout the Twinkie" has become popular on vids of the relevant scene from Ghostbusters. So has Egon's quip about a certain show being "All fluff 'n filler".
  • 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: Now has it own page.
  • 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.
    • Thor rhyming 'drizzle' with 'sniffles' in his battle with Zeus is especially painful to listen to, both because it doesn't rhyme and has no flow or music to disguise how bad it sounds.
      • The lines in Zeus' third verse end: skies, lines, rhymes, died
    • Hannibal Lecter attempts to rhyme "attention" with "Simpson". Suffice to say, it doesn't work.
    • Jack the Ripper rhyming "locked door" with "got caught" is an admirable but unfortunate attempt at a double rhyme.
    • Oprah Winfrey rhyming "for ya" with "Porsche", which doesn't sound well. It's also a pun on Portia De Rossi, Ellen's wife so perhaps that was the point.
      • Ellen herself rhymes "mention" with "lesbian". *shudder*
    • Steven Spielburg rhymes "Psycho" with "Lifeboat" and "Vertigo" with "Murder ya".
      • Alfred Hitchcock is guilty of trying to rhyme "turd kind" with "this time".
    • Stanley Kubrick rhymes "visionary" with... "make it"? What was he even trying to rhyme there?
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Ray William Johnson is a fairly divisive YouTube user, to say the least. 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.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Thanks to the show's use of fast-paced rap music and chroma keyed visuals, just about every episode has at least one clever lyric or Funny Background Event that you're guaranteed to miss on the first viewing, unless you have extremely quick comprehension skills.
  • 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.
    • If you rooted for Genghis Khan in Genghis Khan Vs. Easter Bunny.
  • Rule of Cool: The foundation of the whole series. You have far-flung historical character that know enough about each other for a rap battle. They are even fictional characters rapping against real people; dead or alive. It doesn't make any sense but it sure is cool.
  • 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. It's either this trope or Fridge Brilliance, as Rob Paulsen has played both Raphael (the owner of the sai, in the '80s series) and Donatello (in the current series on Nickelodeon)!
      • The "slice through ninjas like fruit" bit certainly counts: the banana in Donatello's hand is so clearly shopped it's translucent.
    • 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 are memorable.
    • The first real girl-on-girl battle of season 4 (Oprah Winfrey vs Ellen Degeneres) has the uphill task of following the highly popular "Jack the Ripper vs. Hannibal Lecter".
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Zeus vs Thor is animated with Lego Blocks, akin to The Lego Movie.
  • 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.
    • It happened between Seasons 3 and 4. Many fans found Artists Vs Turtles to be an incredibly disappointing finale to the third season, but were immensely pleased when Season 4 came back with Ghostbusters Vs. Mythbusters, which they considered "a group battle done right."
  • 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.