YMMV / Robot Wars

  • Badass Decay: The nature of the sport meant that the standards were raised every year. Most notable examples follow;
    • Hypno-Disc, who after reaching three consecutive grand finals (the only robot to do so) fared dismally in its Series 6 semi-final and Extreme II fights, defeating only the most fragile of opponents.
    • Chaos 2 slowly fell behind the times, making few modifications between series and electing not to take full advantage of the extra 20 kilos added to the weight allowance in Extreme 1/Series 5. It finished its career with a heat final loss to a newcomer in Series 6 and a thrashing in the Extreme 2 All-Stars competition.
    • Pussycat had a powerful blade and a very precise driver, propelling it to second place in Series 4. However, opponents' armours became thicker and the team lost their driver in a tragic accident. Pussycat returned in later series but could not deliver a repeat performance. They did, however, at least get to go out on a high note by winning the Series 7 All-Stars and War of Independence events.
    • In Series 6 the Wild Thing team abandoned their successful shield-on-wheels design in favour of a vertical spinner. Though this version did no worse than last series, its victories were a lot more lackluster.
    • Only seven of the sixteen seeded robots made the semi-finals in Series 7. Of all the seeds that year, only seven had been semi-finalists the previous series due to the rest dropping out, and of those seven only three - Tornado, Firestorm and Dantomkia - made the semi-finals again. And of the other seeds that did make it to the semis, one of them was Storm II, which was seeded for winning the New Blood tournament and was in its first appearance in the main championship.
    • The 2016 reboot saw a huge number of veterans crashing out in the first round, including the likes of Razer, Thermidor 2, Or Te, and Supernova). Ultimately, while four of the five heat finals featured a veteran robot, all of them lost.note  Justified due to the 12-year gap between series; that's a long time for this trope to set in, and many of them had spent the intervening years in retirement and were hurriedly taken out and rebuilt in attempts to bring them up to the current standard.
    • In fact, some robots were literally as they had appeared the last time they were on-screen, having no modifications made in twelve years.
  • Broken Base:
    • Tornado vs. Razer in the series 6 final most notably. Tornado showed up to the fight equipped with a large external frame that made it nearly impossible for Razer to either reach it with its crusher, or pit it, and subsequently won the match, thus unseating Razer as the UK champion. One side claims that the frame was perfectly within the competition rules and thus shouldn't be complained about, while the other side claims that the frame should have been banned since it made it much harder for Razer to win, and decries its use as an example of bad sportsmanship, on the basis that it was specifically built to allow Tornado to beat Razer.
    • In general, weaponless robots are either seen as boring (as they cannot damage other robots directly and don't create the destructive spectacle other types of robots can do) or amazing (as they require talented operators to maneuver them properly). The competition's organizers sided with the former, as after a weaponless robot, Tornado, won Series 6, there was a ban henceforth on robots without moving weapons.
    • While the announcement of the 2016 revival was met with universal delight and appreciation (as was the announced return of Jonathan Pearce as commentator), the announcement that Dara Ó Briain would be hosting instead of Craig Charles was met with some discontent. Some people think he's a good pick (as a comedian who is also known for his interest in science and technology), while others just can't get over the fact that the much-loved Craig won't be back (even though he couldn't make it because of prior commitments to doing Red Dwarf).
    • Similar to the reveal of the 2016 reboot, the announcement of the upcoming Series 2/9 was well-received, but also met with criticism, mainly stemming from the fact that it didn't seem to improve on the flaws of the previous series:
      • Easily the most base-breaking element was the fact that the builders were again only given two months to prepare, leading several (such as Storm 2, King Buxton, and Gravity) to decide that they couldn't make the deadline and pull out. This angered a number of fans, while others, both fans and roboteers alike, retorted that the builders had had since April to prepare for a potential Series 2/9.
      • Some fans had been hoping that Series 2/9 would feature more episodes, and more robots, and were disappointed that it would be the same 6-episode format as before; others were concerned that the December filming date would exacerbate the problems that the 2016 reboot faced, where the cold had affected several robots' pneumatics systems, either weakening them or causing them to break down entirely.
  • Creator's Pet:
    • Mortis was seeded 2nd in Series 2, ahead of every other Grand Finalist from the previous year (bar reigning champion Roadblock), including Cassius, whose predecessor had beaten it the previous year. This was solely due to how much the producers favoured it to win (admittedly, not without reason). Then, of course there was the Executive Meddling in its semi-final Pinball trial... after which the trope was oddly subverted, as the producers painted Mortis as a Heel for the rest of its Robot Wars career.
    • The Series 4 seedings ranked Razer and Behemoth 3rd and 6th respectively, ahead of previous champions and grand finalists, primarily because of their performance in the First World Championship (which seemed to be pretty clearly rigged in the UK's favour).
    • Typhoon 2 drew cries of this for literally robbing Storm II of their Seventh Wars championship through Executive Meddling. The fact that the team's other machines' success were also underscored by controversy tied to producer bias doesn't help.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Granny's Revenge in general. Especially since both of its fights had Sgt. Bash in the arena.
  • Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: During the first semifinal of Series 6, Wild Thing got trashed in their first round battle against Razer, but still had to compete in the Loser's Melee for a second chance and everyone pitched in to help get the machine up and running: Panic Attack gave them two fully-charged batteries to replace their fried ones, Tornado donated a spare wheel, George Francis (of Chaos 2) helped straighten out part of their bent weapon motor, even Alan Gribble (of the Pussycat team, who didn't enter this series following the tragic death of their driver) was there to lend his considerable technical assistance, despite still trying to overcome the death of his son David. Perhaps the most heartwarming assistance came from two members of the Dantomkia team- who were going to be one of Wild Thing's opponents in the Melee! The third member, who stayed behind to give their own machine a few touch-ups before the fight, explained to a flabbergasted Phillipa why they were helping the very robot they were just about to fight against, which is possibly the most heartwarming moment in Robot Wars: "Well the way I see it, we're all roboteers, we're all helping each other out".
    • In Heat D of the 3rd Wars, Ultor defeated Big Brother (the original incarnation of Bigger Brother) by a very close judges' decision, leaving Little Joe so despondent that he didn't even want to give Phillipa a cuddle. After the credits, though, Phillipa brought Team Ultor over to Big Brother's bench in the pits and Barnaby Golder told Joe that they'd decided the judges' decision was wrongnote  and they were going to give up their spot in the semifinals to Big Brother instead. Little Joe promptly gave Phillipa a big hug.
    • In the Grand Final Eliminator of Series 5, little Ellie Watts (who was six at the time, need we remind you) was seen covering her eyes as Bigger Brother was ripped apart by Hypno-Disc. After Bigger Brother pushed Hypno-Disc into the pit to secure one of the greatest and most improbable victories in the show's history, Jonathan Pearce said the following:
      Jonathan Pearce: Ellie! Look again! You've beaten Hypno-Disc! You've done it! You've won it!
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Professor Noel Sharkey, one of the show's judges, said that the judges inspected Hypno-Disc before its first ever fight and dismissed it as a copy of something off Battlestar Galactica, and that they didn't think it would do very well. A few minutes into the first match, according to him, the judges were crawling behind their desks to avoid the shrapnel flying everywhere as Hypno-Disc tore its opponent apart. On the meta level, Hypno-Disc's sheer destructive ability quickly established it as a fan favorite.
    • Storm II started as an unassuming newcomer in the New Blood tournament of Extreme 2. Not only did it proceed to take the tournament, well, by storm, but it fought its way through to the grand final of the Seventh Wars, plowing through the likes of Tornado and Firestorm along the way and losing out to Typhoon 2 only due to Executive Meddling (as mentioned countless times even on this very wiki). Bonus points because, while the executives hated it, the crowd begged to differ.
    • On a less competitive level, Diotoir was one of everyone's favourite robots (and certainly one of Jonathan Pearce's) despite no-one ever really taking them all that seriously. Splendid entertainment without going the whole Joke Character route that Plunderbird and Sir Chromalot did, great sportsmen (they won the Sportsmanship Award 3 years in a row) and everyone loved watching their red and black polka-dotted fur go up in flames almost every fight. They were actually pretty effective roboteers too, reaching two heat finals and once convincingly defeating Tornado in a surprise upset by simply out-shoving them.
    • Similarly, Nuts in the 2016 series also gained quite a few fans, partially due to the team completely embracing the robots' Joke Character status and use of Confusion Fu. Notably, it was put in a first round 4-way melee with three former grand finalist teams (Razer, Terrorhurtz and Kill-E-Crank-E, Pussycat's successor) and was put through to the next round.
  • Freud Was Right: Razer's attack on Matilda in the Southern Annihilator spawned... interesting interpretations.
  • Game Breaker: Razer (unless it's fighting Pussycat, or breaking down in the first 30 seconds of the fight.)
    • The ability to flip opposing robots out of the arena and thus win. It got so bad that in the last season, of all the robots that got through to the semi-finals, three (of sixteen) had no flipping capability. Though one of them eventually won the entire series.
      • For the 2016 reboot this was balanced out by enclosing much of the arena in high bulletproof walls, leaving only a few strategic gaps at which robots could be flipped out unless you have a colossally powerful flipper in the Wheely Big Cheese range (which tend towards Awesome, but Impractical).
    • In the Series 6 final, Tornado employed a Game Breaker of its own - An external frame, designed to keep Razer far enough away from Tornado's body that it couldn't cause any damage. The frame was so big that Tornado wouldn't fit into the pit. Razer and Tornado fans still argue over whether the frame should have been allowed or not.
    • The American robot Drillzilla, while being a walkerbot in name, actually employed a bank of shuffling feet to give it massive speed in contrast with traditional walkerbots, resulting in tremendous pushing power when combined with the extra weight allotted for walkers. This proved to be bending the rules far enough that a rule amendment was made re-classifying robots using this method of locomotion as "shufflebots" and restricting them to one-and-a-half times normal weight limit as opposed to the doubled weight limit for walkers, rendering Drillzilla unable to compete in the second Extreme Warriors series as it was over the new weight limit.
  • Ham and Cheese: Whenever Wheely Big Cheese is present, add Craig Charles and you partially literally get this.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Every time during the 7th Wars that Craig consoled a losing team by encouraging them to come back "next year" with a new robot to try again, considering the 7th Wars was the Franchise Killer.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The distinctive high-pitched whirring of Hypno-Disc's flywheel, which was often audible even over Jonathan Pearce's commentary - and the sounds of an opponent being torn to ribbons.
    • Think Hypno-Disc's flywheel sounded terrifying? This is what 2016 entrant Pulsar's weapon sounds like when it spins up. Sweet dreams.
      • Pulsar's weapon was so loud and distinctive it was actually lampshaded in series, with the presenters commenting on the "God awful siren" audible from the other side of the pits during their weapon test, as well as showing the recording from said test in the interview.
    • The "death hum" of Carbide's bar spinner when it reached its full speed was repeatedly mentioned throughout its heat and became borderline memetic.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In the opening of Heat D of the 2nd Wars, Craig said of the competitors "Well they all look very good, but can you imagine Keanu Reeves in a fight? No." Less than half a year after this episode was broadcast, a little movie came out with Reeves in starring role. You might have heard of it; it was called The Matrix.
    • After Series 5 entrant Dome was overturned within seconds of its only fight against Diotoir, Craig joked that it had been "as successful as the Millennium Dome". The Millennium Dome was later bought by mobile service provider O2 and has since become a wildly successful music venue.
    • One that took fifteen years to drop: Plunderbird's musical performance at the end of one Extreme 1 episode contained the line "And if it don't work, we go berserk, and hit it with a hammer". Guess what Dantomkia's captain proceeded to do after it failed to work in the 2016 series?
      Shane Swan: [hitting Dantomkia with a hammer] Damn you! Damn you!
  • "Holy Shit!" Quotient:
    • Cassius self-righting itself for the first time in Series 2.
    • Panic Attack pitting Cassius in the Series 2 final.
    • Hypnodisc demolishing its first opponent in Series 3.
    • Chaos 2 flipping Firestorm out of the arena during the Series 3 grand final.
    • Wheely Big Cheese sending Axe-Awe flying out of the ring from near the middle of the arena with the biggest flip in the history of robot combat.
    • Fluffy (a newcomer) sending Pussycat's blade (the #2 seed) flying in a Season 5 heat final after a head-on collision. (Unfortunately Fluffy broke down, costing it the fight, but the Pussycat team had abandoned hope between the blade being torn off and that.)
    • Bigger Brother, literally ripped to shreds, with its weapon torn off, its armour mangled and Jonathan Pearce going through its defeat speech, hitting the pit release, turning on Hypno-Disc and driving them neatly into the pit in the first match of the Series 5 grand finals.
    • Diotoir pitting Tornado in the Series 5 heats.
    • Dantomkia flipping Chaos 2 out of the arena in Series 6 and ending their run of semi-final appearances.
    • In the 2016 reboot, Apollo taking out Dead Metal, Matilda, and Shunt, over the course of a single episode. Notable for being the first House Robot kills of the new series. After that, scoring a ring out at against Storm II almost felt like an afterthrought.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Jeremy Clarkson in Series 1 was disdainful of many of the contestant robots, and on occasion outright hostile towards them. However, the standard of engineering in Series 1 was quite low, especially compared to the later series, and a lot of the robots Clarkson insulted genuinely weren't that good. For example, Prince of Darkness, which he infamously called "the worst robot I've ever seen in my life", took five hours to build, had wooden armour, no weapons, and initially looked like this (and yet it still swept the floor with the Gauntlet and Trial, which probably says a lot in itself).
  • Most Annoying Sound: In Series 3, after the winner of each battle was announced there would be the exact same sound clip of cheering and whistling. It's noticeable and when you realise this, the authenticity of the crowd reactions takes a nosedive. It's particularly irritating because of the sound of a single woman giving an extremely distinctive (and grating) high-pitched screaming cheer in the background of it, which is impossible not to hear every single time. The fact that it continued to get used at least two series later doesn't help.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The rising metal howl that accompanied Stuart McDonald's countdown before the declaration of "Activate!" that heralded the start of every battle.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Coulrophobic? I'd like you to meet a good friend of mine: Conquering Clown. It was an American robot with a clown head for decoration. The clown face was creepy enough on its own, but when it was set on fire the rubber would slowly melt away and leave an empty metal face before the neck snapped completely. Brrr.
  • Older Than They Think: While Cassius' famous first self-right shook the Robot Wars world, it wasn't actually the first instance of a robot turning itself right-side up again after being flipped by a long shot- Biohazard managed it with its lifting arm in the 1996 American Robot Wars championship in battle against Vlad the Impaler years before the show even started!
  • Overshadowed by Controversy:
    • The only time Mortis, "the most feared and technically advanced robot of the first four wars", made a semi-final is only remembered for the producers' interference controversially keeping them in when they arguably should have been eliminated. It all proved to be for nothing as the team felt they could no longer win Robot Wars afterwards and the regular driver's refusal to drive the robot in protest at the producer bias resulted in Mortis' elimination in the very next round.
    • The Seventh Wars is chiefly remembered for the producers trying every trick in the book to keep Storm II from winning.
  • Painful Rhyme: Some of the rhymes Craig signed off each episode with were beyond Narm-tastic, with the all-time worst probably being the one from Series 4 Heat O:
    Well if you look in a teepee you'll find Indian squaws
    Wishing they had a telly to watch
    Robot Wars
  • The Scrappy: The Refbot was highly unnecessary and annoying.
    • Refbot wasn't entirely unnecessary- he came equipped with a fire extinguisher to put out burning robots and the plough on his front allowed him, as an impartial participant, to free robots that were stuck on part of the arena but not immobolized without damaging them.
    • He was Rescued from the Scrappy Heap in Extreme by giving him the electronic countdown and yellow/red card system, both of which were far more useful than the fire extinguisher (which proved highly ineffectual the first time it was used) and the ploughs which on more than one occasion only got in the way.
    • Cassius Chrome, who debuted in the final series. His weapons? Metal fists that repeatedly punched other robots (and were interchangeable with a set of spikes). They were completely useless.
    • You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone with much good to say about Jayne Middlemiss, the replacement for long-time pit reporter Phillipa Forrester in Series 7 when the show moved to Channel 5. An ex-model with an obvious lack of technical knowledge, she came across as a Brainless Beauty and impressed nobody.
      • Averted by the Series 4 and Extreme 1 pit reporter, Julia Reed, who stood in for Phillipa while she took maternity leave. Julia was more or less as popular as Phillipa and handled the job extremely well, although Phillipa was always considered the "real" pit reporter. The transition was eased by Phillipa actually handing over the microphone to Julia herself at the start of series 4, making it easier for audiences to accept her.
    • While some people hate Tornado for the controversy in the 6th Wars Grand Final, pretty much everyone hates Typhoon 2 because of the 7th Wars Grand Final controversy, largely because of the perception that they were happy to play along with the Executive Meddling that robbed their opponents of their deserved win. It doesn't help that their robots are all copies of each other in different weight classes and that all of their victories are tied to some kind of controversy.
    • Napalm tends to be rather disliked due to the perception that it's a poorly made robot that wins battles with dumb luck rather than any sort of actual skill.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: The arena floor spikes which fired out of the ground in the Second and Third Wars, as on several occasions they ended a battle abruptly and unfairly when robots simply drove over them and got flipped. They returned in the 2016 reboot but are much more obvious, being outlined with a red square like the other hazards, and also fire much more slowly. This was enough to rescue them from the scrappy heap insofar as they became just another arena hazard rather than That One Arena Hazard.
    • The arena floor spinner (or "Disc of Doom"), a rotating disc set into the floor and activated by a bumper similar to the one that opened the pit in Series 6, was considered useless at best (it couldn't seriously affect the driving of any robot heavier than a featherweight), downright irritating (and not in the intended fashion) at worst- sometimes robots with a zero ground clearance scoop at the front would catch themselves on its raised edge while trying to drive over it, even when it wasn't spinning. Added in Series 6, it was removed after Extreme 2.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: The birth of the srimech in the Second Wars' semi-final and the first case of a robot being flipped out of the arena in the Third Wars grand final, both of which were groundbreaking at the time, but the impact is rather diluted if you didn't see them on first transmission - not having a srimech was seen as suicidal by the very next series, and being flipped out of the arena soon progressed from originator Chaos 2's signature move to the default tactic of most flippers.
    • Roadblock overturning Killertron in the very first heat final of Series 1, the first time a robot was defeated in this manner. It was very unspectacular, basically consisting of Roadblock turning in circles for twenty seconds with Killertron lodged on top of it, but Jonathan Pearce spent those twenty seconds screaming at the top of his lungs with a level of enthusiasm that was unusual even for him. This could be chalked up to Early Installment Weirdness (this was, after all, the deciding moment of the first heat final in the show's history), perhaps, but even so, the event barely warranted even a fraction of the excitement with which Jonathan approached it.
  • Shocking Elimination:
    • Plenty of defeats for Razer, Bigger Brother, Behemoth, Panic Attack, and Chaos 2 over the years.
    • The first major example came in Series 3. Despite Panic Attack's Dark Horse Victory in Series 2, Cassius was still considered the strongest robot around and Cassius II was the most anticipated (and feared) returnee, favoured to win the entire war. While it got off to a good start in its heat, in the 2nd round (fighting against Pussycat) clumsy driving by the driver (who, contrary to popular misconception, was new team member Mick Cutter, not creator Rex Garrod) sent it careening into the open pit, shocking everyone.
    • Hypno-Disc's successive losses to Pussycat in Series 4, and Bigger Brother in Series 5. Its loss to Pussycat was convincing but highly unexpected, whereas its loss to Bigger Brother came after it had spent the entire battle ripping the Watts' machine to shreds, and was thus even more of a shock.
    • Tornado's Series 5 loss to Diotoir came as a massive surprise, especially considering Tornado was a robot known for its speed and pushing power, and yet Diotoir was able to spend the whole match out-shoving it.
    • The Revolutionist losing to Propeller Head in the US Series after dislodging the latter's weapon.
    • Razer losing in the very first match of the 2016 reboot.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: The first round of the Series 7 All-Stars championship saw 4 of the most popular robots of the era in the arena with Cassius Chrome as House Robot. Most of the ensuing match saw the competitors completely ignoring each other to heap abuse on Cassius Chrome instead.
  • Tear Jerker: In the 2016 series, after the Chompalot team managed to rebuild their robot thanks to a gargantuan effort from the rest of the teams, it went into the head-to-head round against Gabriel and was swiftly dispatched, its punctured batteries billowing out smoke before eventually catching fire during the post-match interview. This time the repair job was just too great and the team were forced to retire, driving them to tears. The team posted a memorial video for their beloved machine afterward which, considering this was a veteran machine that the team had been using in action for 14 years and was now utterly destroyed beyond repair, is genuinely heartbreaking.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: 3 Stegs to Heaven, Corkscrew, and the gold version of Panic Attack.
    • Justified in that newer robots usually did suck a lot more than the original. Steg 3 was extremely weak compared to its predecessor (which took Chaos 2 to beat) and Panic Attack's Gold version had very poor locomotion.
    • This was also the reaction of some fans when the early 'trials' were dispensed with as part of the main tournament, which was turned into a straight knockout competition.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: The 5 Robot Wars video games ran the gamut, from unplayable to decent. There was also a board game, which was not well-received.
    • The best (worst?) example was the first licensed game, Metal Mayhem for the Game Boy Color. The 8-bit handheld simply wasn't capable of doing the show any justice, and it showed. Several robots were Off Model with inaccurate weaponry, mechanics such as flipping and self-righting simply weren't present, and battles were fought by simply ramming into your opponent and wildly flailing your weapon (or, failing that, by tricking the idiotic AI into driving into hazards). The roster consisted largely of obscure robots that had been knocked out in the heats (five of them as early as their first battle) while bigger names like Hypno-Disc and Razer were omitted, the controls were terrible (your robot would spin wildly out-of-control if you turned too fast), and the Robot Workshop was so lacking in features that it may as well have not been included at all.
    • Sort of averted with Robot Arena 2 which, while not a licensed game, is pretty much indistinguishable from one, to those who don't know. There's even an official Robot Wars mod that adds in hundreds of robots from the show and live events, two different Robot Wars arenas, and brand-new parts so you can build your own RW replicas. Unlike the official games, Robot Arena 2 has somewhat realistic physics (although they're prone to breaking) and building your own robots is actually worthwhile, as you can literally build it any way you want, rather than having set places to put set parts. If you want to use a saw blade as your wheels, that's fine, if you want to stack a motor on top of another to make your weapon spin faster, that works too. The game can be downloaded for free nowadays, premodded, if you know where to look (www.gametechmods.com is the only place that you can get it).
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/RobotWars