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Series / Robot Wars

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"Roboteers, stand by."

A British television show about fighting robots. The original run aired from 1997 to 2004, airing seven series (each comprising one UK championship, with a few sideshow tournaments and specials in most series) plus two series of "Robot Wars Extreme", a house show-esque format featuring several different events and mini-tournaments. The first 6 (and the two Extremes) aired on BBC2 while the last season aired on Channel Five. The latter channel's treatment of the show proved to be the death of it, but it lived on in repeats and live events organised by the roboteers. In 2016, a new 6-part series aired on BBC 2 and ended a hiatus of more than a decade; the revival lasted for two more series in 2017, but was cancelled in early 2018.

During the height of its fame, the show had two seasons and a Nickelodeon Kids' Series involving mainly US robots (called Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors and Nickelodeon Robot Wars respectively), two seasons involving robots from the Netherlands and Belgium (called Robot Wars: The Dutch Battles), and a German language single Series (named Robot Wars: The German Struggles) involving 12 robots from Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, which were broadcast in their native languages and used local Presenters and pit reporters. All series took place in the UK arena and used UK house robots (and the final UK series involved many big-name Dutch, Belgian and German robots). Most of the episodes are available on YouTube and if you live in the UK Challenge is currently showing reruns of all series bar 1, 3 and 4, with H2 showing Series 3 and 4. In addition, the UK version also spawned a Spin-Off, Techno Games, which ran for four series and was effectively a robotic Olympiad, featuring many of the same teams with new robots and sharing lots of personnel with the parent show.


The first season was hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, but later seasons were hosted by Craig Charles, who was more suited for this, with the 2016 revival fronted by comedian (and physicist) Dara Ó Briain. The show was originally a mix of fighting and various "trials" (games such as pinball, sumo, obstacle courses, etc.); later on, more emphasis was put on the former, with the trials first being demoted to sideshow tournaments, and by Series 5 the format was entirely combat-based.

Not to be confused with Super Robot Wars (which was, for a time, renamed "Super Robot Taisen" outside of Japan due to the show), or with the American series BattleBots with which it shares a common ancestor in the form of underground American competitions in the early 1990's. No relation at all with the 1993 Giant Mecha movie of the same name. If you're looking for a trope about wars against robots, that's Robot War.


The TV show provides examples of:

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  • Ace Pilot: Several of the most successful robots could attribute much of their success to the sheer skill of their drivers:
    • George Francis, driver of Chaos 2, was considered by many to be the most fearsome driver in Robot Wars, being the man to invent the Ring Out and the only roboteer to ever lift the UK championship trophy more than once in the show's lifetime (back-to-back in Series 3 and 4).
    • Kim Davies, driver of Panic Attack, was another highly-feared opponent, who took his simple flat box on wheels with a pair of lifting forks to claim the Series 2 championship and become one of the most respected teams on the show. Panic Attack was not actually very offensively powerful at all and almost ALL of its success could be attributed to how good Kim was at controlling it and using the lifting forks to pick enemy robots up and dump them in the pit.
    • Graham Bone, driver of Firestorm, never won a UK championship (and only one trophy, the Commonwealth Carnage in Extreme 2), but his fearless, controlled driving and relentless aggression made them constant contenders for the title, holding the record for the most battles ever won in the main competition and reaching five consecutive semi-finals and three grand finals, resulting in three 3rd place finishes.
    • Nick Adams, driver of Wild Thing, was considered by some to be almost like an older George Francis. Relentlessly aggressive with his agile and powerful bot, with incredible driving precision almost unseen in a 2-wheeled design, Wild Thing was never a finals contender, but was always given a healthy amount of respect. When the original Thing appeared in Series 3 even the showrunners said that they didn't think much of it- but they had to admit that by cripes could Nick Adams drive! The Series 5 semifinal clash between Wild Thing and Chaos 2 is considered to be easily one of the most awesome battles on the show due to the sheer levels of driving skill on display by both parties.
    • David Gribble, driver of Pussycat, supposedly declared himself "the best driver on Robot Wars" and while that might have been stretching it a bit, he could certainly walk the walk. In Series 4 Pussycat toppled such notable opponents as Razer, Thermidor 2 and Dominator 2 and even managed a shocking upset against Hypno-Disc, in no small part thanks to David's impressive driving, going all the way to lose the grand final against no less an opponent than Chaos 2. The team put in a similarly impressive showing in Series 5, going up to the 2nd round of the semifinals before falling to Firestorm. Unfortunately David's career was tragically cut short when he was killed in a motorcycle accident after Series 5.
    • "Little" Joe Watts may have been the face of Team Bigger Brother, but he only managed the weapons system of the robot, while it was his father Ian Watts who steered the "Nightmare in Metal" to glorious victory after glorious victory. Their accomplishments included dealing reigning champions Chaos 2 their first ever main series defeat in the Series 5 semifinals, their UNBELIEVABLE comeback against Hypno-Disc in the first round of the finals, and defeating reigning Series 6 champions Tornado in the All-Stars tournament of Extreme 2. Ian's motto was "Power is nothing without control", so with his precise control steering Bigger Brother, it was able to bring its immense power to bear time and again.
    • The rebooted series gave us the first candidate in Heat 3; Alex Brown of Team TR2. Survived the opening fight handily despite the robot's flipper not working, and while far from the most powerful flipper ever seen, once it was working they were always in control of any opponent they faced. Dantomkia faced them and were flipped over repeatedly to the point of running out of gas. Twice. Both King B3 and Big Nipper were invertible. It didn't make any difference.
    • Michael Oates, driver of Eruption, was already a two-time FRA (live circuit) champion even before the reboot began, giving him years of experience at the highest levels despite his youth, and rapidly became one of the most-feared drivers on the show. While he fell short in Series 8 in the "heat of death" and fell to the nightmarish power of Carbide in the Series 9 grand final, in Series 10 he fought back from an early setback after losing to Carbide again in his heat final to be the last bot standing in the 10-bot redemption rumble and won every consecutive fight to become Series 10 champion. A combination of precise control, constant aggression and persistence, and finely-honed combat savvy made Eruption, a bot which didn't look very intimidating compared to heavily-armed monsters like Carbide, almost unbeatable.
  • Achilles' Heel: A universally mandated one was the removable link that had to be included on every competing robot for safety reasons- when the link was removed (which it was at all times other than when it was in the arena or the testing pits) the robot was guaranteed to be powerless and effectively dead, in order to prevent accidents. Unfortunately, the #1 cause of defeats in the arena was the link falling out after a particularly hard slam, or even purely by sheer happenstance. Over the course of the show's history, links falling out were responsible for more robot eliminations than all the House Robots and arena hazards put together (on at least one occasion a robot was carried into the arena but simply refused to move once the battle started because the roboteers forgot to put the link in)!
  • Actually Pretty Funny: The Major Tom team had this reaction to their Series 5 battle against Kat 3, in which they shoved Kat 3 into the pit release button and then reversed away onto the pit as it was descending, eliminating themselves. Everyone else found it funny as well.note 
    • Perhaps more memorable was Robogeddon's driver William Ryle laughing hysterically in his control booth as his machine was helplessly torn to shreds by Hypno-Disc.
  • The Alleged Car: US entrant Flippa entered three battles during its career - two Annihilator rounds and a World Championship qualifier - and broke down in all three of them. In the second Annihilator round it didn't even make it into the arena, as its aerial had accidentally broken off beforehand.
  • Amusing Injuries: Any damage taken by a robot - especially mercy killings administered by the House Robots - fell under this, since any given robot could have been expected to cost several hundred pounds and weeks or months of construction work. Jonathan Pearce's trademark laughing fits didn't hurt either.
    Jonathan: (as Hypno-Disc lays into Robogeddon) Oh, you shouldn't laugh. Look at that, laid bare!
    (Hypno-Disc tears another chunk out of Robogeddon, Jonathan immediately cracks up again)
  • Anachronic Order:
    • Heats F and M were swapped in the logical sequence of the 4th Wars. It is believed that this was altered so that Gemini (pegged to win Heat F) could eventually meet Chaos 2 (almost certain to win Heat A) and continue their rivalry. Unfortunately, Gemini failed in this regard, rendering the swap pointless.
    • In some of the earlier episodes, it was common for roboteers from one heat to leave the arena and get interviewed by Philippa, while roboteers from a completely different heat line up to wait for their own pre-match interview.
    • Heats A and E were swapped in broadcast order for the Seventh Wars. Traditionally Heat A was the returning champion's heat, but the producers thought it made for a weak series opener because one of the robots broke down before making it into the arena.
    • In Heat B of Series 4, Diotoir is seen fully assembled and functioning in the sideshow Sumo tournament, filmed after the rest of the series. One episode later in Heat C it makes its appearance in the main tournament with the team desperately trying to get it ready in time and ultimately having to send it out into the arena with no weapon and no armour (see Cosmic Deadline below).
    • Bulldog Breed and Atomic both won their Mayhem battles in Extreme, qualifying them for the Annihilator, but when the Annihilator was broadcast they had both had to pull out because of damage filmed in the as yet unaired series 5, filmed alongside the Extreme series. Ironically, they'd both been in the same heat and the damage had been inflicted by the same bot: Hypno-Disc.
    • Sometimes heats were filmed in a different order, like Heats 1 and 5 of the 9th Series, though, as there was no seeding, there was no clear supposed schedule.
  • And Show It to You: Hypno-Disc pulled this off in each of its first two battles in Series 4, ripping the batteries clean out of The Predator and V-Max and (in the former example) smashing them to pieces.
  • Animal Motifs: Pussycat, Bulldog Breed, Dead Metal, Razer... the wars had animal-based robots to spare. Taken to its logical conclusion in the Commonwealth Carnage, which saw a spidernote , a dognote , a turtlenote , and a crabnote  in the arena at the same time.
    • This trope was noticeably prevalent in the Third Wars, which featured robots based on crocodilesnote , turtlesnote , dogsnote , catsnote , dragonsnote , cowsnote , pigs note , sharksnote , dinosaursnote , ratsnote , aardvarksnote , lobstersnote , and insectsnote .
  • Arch-Enemy: Many, many long-standing rivalries; Panic Attack vs. Firestorm, Panic Attack vs. X Terminator, Razer vs. Tornado, everyone vs. the House Robots...
    • In the Dutch Series, Bamm Bamm (based on the Flintstones character and later seen in the UK series albeit very briefly) fought Lizzard 3 times over the 2 series, due to the complicated format which saw various eliminated robots allowed back into the final alongside heat winners.
    • In the revived series, Ironside3 v Pulsar is the clearest rivalry, as the pair have fought 5 times. Series 8: Melee, Ironside progresses over Pulsar, but the latter is reinstated after Chompalot explodes, and gains a controversial win, after Ironside was judged to be overturned for 10 seconds. Series 9: Both progress through melee together. Controversial group match awarded to both teams after Ironside's team were lead to believe Pulsar was immobilized when it wasn't, and heat final.
  • Artistic License – Physics: The "Fantasy Fights" in the first official magazine took this to ridiculous extremes at times; all damage was ludicrously exaggerated, Suicidal Tendencies' lifting spikes were depicted as being able to launch a robot into the air, Destruct-A-Bubble headbutted another robot despite such a move being physically impossible in reality, and Stinger was shown to somehow ride up Wheelosaurus' incredibly narrow shaft with such speed that it went flying into the air and landed in Sir Killalot's claw. (That last one really needs to be seen to be believed.)
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The move of flipping a robot into the pit, which whilst very cool-looking was difficult for a robot to pull off without driving in itself.
    • A lot of the machines themselves fit. Generally, the more fancy a robot looks, the more vulnerable it is.
      • Hypno-Disc comes to mind. It was one of the most powerful, destructive robots on the show, capable of tearing most machines to pieces within a couple of blows. Sadly, Hypno-Disc was extremely prone to mechanical failures, presumably due to the extreme recoil caused by the impacts of the disc dislocating sensitive machinery within, and as a result it would rarely win tournaments.
      • Also Razer, prior to Extreme 1/Series 5. The weapon looked awesome and, when it worked, would deal out some of the worst damage the show had seen, yet the machine was very prone to mechanical failure.
      • Wheely Big Cheese was arguably the most powerful flipper ever seen in the show, and definitely the biggest, supposedly capable of flipping 800kg. On only one occasion - its memorable Series 5 battle against Axe-Awe - did it ever unarguably truly live up to its potential; the rest of the time it was plagued by mechanical problems and simply wasn't working at full power. What's more, its wheels were very vulnerable and it was usually defeated by having the welds broken so it no longer ran freely.
      • One Series 4 competitor, Saw Point, decided that regular wheels weren't cool enough and instead drove around on two-foot-diameter saw blades! In addition to looking awesome as hell, it actually immobilized Oblivion 2 in its first fight just by driving over it (the sawblades bent one of the panels in such a way that it lifted the robot's wheels off the ground). However, they were very inefficient means of locomotion and the machine was constantly getting knocked over. While its Ben-Hur-esque axle spears allowed it to drive on one wheel, they also gave Panic Attack something to hook its lifting forks into before battering Saw Point into submission.
    • Full body spinners (essentially spinning domes, cones or cylinders with blades attached in most cases) were as destructive as they were basic as they could dent or tear most armor on contact, yet were very hard to make and prone to mechanical failure, meaning they rarely did well. On top of that, most designs were also barely mobile and hard to control, so some early matches ended with the full-body spinner essentially destroying itself while attacking. The first such example, Warhog, wasn't reinforced at all, and the moment it hit another robot full-on it leapt across the arena with such force that it immobilised itself.
    • Clusterbots can come into this category. Clusterbots are effectively multiple robots, which start as one but split into two. All regulations (especially weight) count them as one robot, and the weight disadvantage means that clusterbots rarely have effective weaponry. It also didn't help that the entire robot was counted as immobilized if the amount of components equal to half were immobilized since most of the original series clusterbots were two robots with about equal weights. This means their competitors could win but just targeting one of the robots to defeat the whole robot (like what happened to Gemini in its battle to Tornado). There was thus only a handful of competitors of this type in the original series.
      • The reboot however saw a few more clusterbots near the end though this time they tended to be a fairly regular sized robot paired with a minibot. The minibots could potentially be a nuisance to competitors (ex: the minibot could activate the pit when the competitors are focused on dealing with the larger robot) while at the same time not causing the larger robot a win if the minibot got immobilized while the larger robot is still active.
    • Walkerbots fit this perfectly. Robots that actually walked around on legs, and were engineering marvels, but woefully inefficient when it came to fighting. (They were allowed twice the usual weight limit, but were usually slow unless they were shufflebots). The only exception was Anarchy.
    • Series 9 entrant Rapid was a precision-engineered masterpiece that cost £25,000 to build. However, that precision came at a cost: when something went wrong with its right-hand gearbox after its battle against Aftershock, the team were unable to get into the gearbox to find out what the problem was and fix it, and they were forced to withdraw. In its second series, it managed to win the heat with an efficient display, but it literally went out in a blaze of glory in the earliest possible stage of the final when Carbide broke its electronics.
  • "Awesome McCool" Name: Some roboteers went really over-the-top when it came to naming their machine- the most prominent was probably Raging Knightmare.
    • The second Dutch series saw an entry called Blackdevil Warzone.
    • Vincent Blood, one of the team members for Razer.
  • An Axe to Grind: One of the most common weapons, though generally ineffective. Mortis in early series, and Dominator 2 and Terrorhurtz later on, were three of the few exceptions. Not to mention Shunt. Thor too in the rebooted series, although it's more of a hammer/axe.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: A few robots, upon realizing they were all but beaten, would choose to drive into the pit rather than keep sustaining damage. The most notable examples were Chaos 2 in its First World Championship fight with Razer, after its flipper was disabled, and Infinity in Series 6 after it was buckled by 259.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • The official merch told wondrous tales about Inquisitor and Aggrobot (in Series 2 and 3 respectively) beating Razer by bravely charging in with their woefully underpowered weapons, miraculously hitting a weak point and taming the beast. The truth didn't make for quite as good a story; both breakdowns were just miniscule component failures that killed Razer's drive (and in neither case was the failure even caused by the enemy robot).
    • Early publicity for the programme made all sorts of outlandish claims about the house robots, e.g. that Dead Metal had "a thermonuclear starter motor".
    • Played for Laughs by Craig Charles during his post-action interview with the Inquisitor team after their robot's first appearance:
    Craig: Tell me, where does the name Inquisitor come from?
    Gavin Hatton: I'd rather not say.
    Craig: Why? Go on, tell me.
    Gavin: (quietly) Red Dwarf.
    Craig: Never heard of it.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • The winners of the first series, Roadblock, were just a simple wedge on wheels (it had a saw blade on the back, but that was hardly used). Admittedly in the 1st Wars a lot of robots were little more than slow-moving boxes, but Roadblock was solidly engineered, well-armoured, difficult to flip due to its size, and had plenty of pushing power, so it was able to come back again and take third place in the much more competitive 2nd Wars.
    • The original build of Panic Attack, that won the second series and beat Cassius? Just a box with lifting forks and a hell of a driver.
    • As in Awesome, but Impractical, a lot of successful machines come to mind. Tornado was essentially a quick and resistant flat box on wheels. It had a laughably weak weapon, but was immune to just about everything opponents could throw at it and would win by mere aggressiveness and persistence as opposed to actual damage-dealing. Bigger Brother also comes to mind. Not a particularly interesting of a concept, not a very cool weapon (simple flipper), but a set of armor so tough that even Razer could barely make a dent in it. It had similarly resilient internal workings too; in its Series 5 grand final eliminator with Hypno-Disc, Hypno-Disc shredded its armour and broke the weapon, but BB kept on going and finally pushed them down the pit, leading to the aforementioned fight with Razer in the final which Razer won quite easily due to the damage inflicted earlier.
    • The fight in the second round of the Series 5 semi-finals between Hypno-Disc and Dominator 2 involved Hypno-Disc attacking Dominator's sides until it lost drive on one side and couldn't be controlled properly any more, then staying out of harm's way until the time ran out. When the judges were delivering their verdict, they asked Craig Charles to point out that they thought it was "the most boring fight in the history of Robot Wars".
    • Storm II from Series 7 was effectively a smaller, faster, stronger version of Tornado, relying purely on its ramming power. It was so practical it reached the Grand Final, but so boring (at least in the eyes of the executives) that it's widely believed the shows's producers actively tried to stop them from winning.
    • The champion of both US series were the Panzer MK pushbots, both of which were practical and fast rammers/flippers.
    • Lizzard, the runner-up of the Dutch Series 1 and finalist in Series 2, was just a simple pushbot with a segmented thwacking tail (that really did almost no real damage) that got by on a combination of toughness, determination and the luck of the devilnote .
    • Zig-zagged by fixed spike weapons which were a very popular choice for simpler robots which lacked either the weight allowance or the engineering skill to use more elaborate weapons, especially early on. A slow-moving robot with a spike would be hard-pressed to even scratch their opponent's paintwork with it, let alone impale opponents, making them Boring And Impractical. However a really fast robot could put its entire weight behind its attacks and drive those spikes through thin armour, perhaps most notably seen when the 17mph Spikasaurus skewered Killerhurtz on its 12-inch spikes during the Series 4 Northern Annihilator.
  • Born Lucky: The Lizzard team from the Dutch series managed to be the runners-up in the first series despite losing twice before they even reached the Grand Final! Due to the strange format of the first Dutch series, the losers of the 3 first-round battles in each heat would fight a melee to see who would be reinstated, which Lizzard entered and won after losing its initial match against Philipper. It reached the heat final after winning its second round battle (which it actually appeared to lose when immobilized by Matilda, but the immobilization was ruled illicit and Lizzard was judged the winner, the fight reviewed to that point), but was defeated by Bamm Bamm and looked like its run was over. However, because there were only 5 heats in Dutch Series 1, a single Wild Card spot in the final was awarded to one defeated heat finalist... and it was not supposed to be Lizzard, but rather Pullverizer (the original incarnation of PulverizeR, the same robot that would go on to win the 2nd Series). However, Pullverizer couldn't repair the damage they took in the heat final in time to make the Grand Final, so the producers offered the Wild Card to Lizzard instead, who went on to survive the first-round melee against eventual champions Slicer and then get revenge on Bamm Bamm in the 2nd round before finally losing to Slicer once and for all in the final round.
  • Born Unlucky: The Parthian Shot team qualified for both Series 2 & 3, and in both cases the robot broke down before making it into the arena and forfeited its place.note 
    • Team Power as well. In Series 1, their robot Barry was the first robot ever to be eliminated - one of the robots that beat it in the Gauntlet was a stock robot which then committed suicide in the Sumo Trial, which the team felt Barry would have done well in. They then failed to qualify for Series 2, returned in Series 3 with Sonic, which made the heat semi-final before running into a certain Chaos 2, and then failed to qualify for Series 4 with two different machines. After that, they gave up.note 
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: The teasers for the Series 8 reboot showed the original House Robots covered in dust sheets having them pulled off, revealing them worn and grimy but still fully functional and ready to fight again. Subverted in the series itself as the House Robots were completely rebuilt from scratch, rather than being pulled straight out of retirement.
    • A straight example from the reboot was Infernal Contraption, which was literally on display in a museum for eight years before being pulled out of retirement.
  • Break the Haughty: Craig Danby's screen persona simply oozed confidence, but after Apex's spectacular self-destruction in Series 10, shattering the arena's inner fence in the process, Craig was left sitting at the side of the arena looking utterly horrified and declared that he'd never build anything that powerful again.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: After the famously expensive Rapid had won its Series 10 heat, team captain Josh Valman remarked "It's an expensive sport", and expressed his belief that the other top teams probably hadn't spent much less.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In Series 5, after the robot 8645T was overturned by S.M.I.D.S.Y. and counted out, Sir Killalot made the mistake of putting it right-way-up on the Floor Flipper and 8645T simply drove away before it could be flipped, much to Jonathan's disappointment. Two series later, 8645T 2 lost in much the same way as its predecessor, was righted, drove away onto the Floor Flipper and was finally thrown.
      Jonathan: (sing-song) We got you in the e-end!
    • The advertising for Series 9 had a potential one. The TV ads for the series depicted the house robots attacking and destroying a car; the radio ads depicted the car's unfortunate owner trying to describe the incident to his disbelieving insurance company.
  • British Brevity: Zig-zagged. Series 1 had only six heats, with the winners progressing to the Grand Final, which didn't even get its own episode. Series 2 through 7 averted it, with a minimum of 15 episodes each, then the 2016 reboot played it straight again by reverting to just six episodes (but with far more battles than Series 1, and the Grand Final got its own episode).
  • Buffy Speak: A member of the U.F.O. team gave us this wonderful description:
    "Well, (the main weapon is) a big lifty-uppy-spikey thing, designed to cut into the bladey thing above it, and we also have a couple of bright, lighty-shiny things at the front, and some floppy-spikey things at the back."
    • During the 3rd Wars, Philippa also described Zeus thus:
    Philippa: They've got a thing, and a thing, and they're going to inflict loads of damage!
  • The Bus Came Back: Any robot from the old series that's returning for the 2016 reboot counts as this trope by default. Notables examples include Draven, who had previously only fought in Extreme 1, and The General, who'd only ever appeared in a side competition back in Series 3.
    • Although their robots didn't return, several roboteers did: Robin Herrick (part of the original Bodyhammer / Pussycat team that had participated in Series 1), Ian Watts, Stuart Barnwell, and Sam Smith of Tiberius were all part of new teams. In fact, more than half of the teams in Series 8 featured either a returning robot or a returning team member.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Ming 3 has been trashed by spinning discs on three separate occasions. One was due to unfair meddling by a house robot.
    • Robochicken too (and this show came BEFORE Robot Chicken, by the way).
    • Nemesis and its successor Diotoir as well, which was prone to catching fire due to having a fur-covered body. This happened in all of its appearances due to Sgt. Bash inevitably singling it out above everyone else. Eventually there was a fight between the aforementioned Bash, Nemesis and another robot prone to fires (Ramrombit) just so everyone could watch them burn. (Sgt. Bash won.) The fight in question was called "Inferno Insurrection" and both robots were doused in paraffin. Nemesis was also adorned with a chef's hat, a kebab and onions.
    • Among the house robots, Refbot. Matilda was these in the early days before she Took a Level in Badass.
    • Team Memento Mori, builders of the ill-fated Overdozer and Wyrm. Overdozer was made out of wood and had a petrol engine (powering a tiny little cutting blade; Dara took one look at it and declared it to be an outboard motor, and that the team had built a boat) but miraculously didn't catch fire; instead, it lasted twenty-three seconds before Dantomkia caught up to it, and tore large chunks off of it in one flip. Wyrm didn't do much better; their only action in the melee was to drive forwards and gently crash into a wall, which immobilised them. They were reinstated by Frostbite's resignation, but that left them having to go up against Ironside 3 and Pulsar.
    • Piece De Resistance/Death Warmed Up/Immortalis/Metalis (all built by the same guy), Humphrey, and Monad get this treatment from the fanbase.
  • Call-Back:
    • Whenever a returning competitor appeared, especially in Series 2-4, Jonathan Pearce would remind first-time viewers of how they'd gotten on last series.
    • At various points in the series (typically just before the heat final, at the start of the semi-finals, and at the start of the Grand Final), the show would remind viewers how the two competing robots had gotten this far.
    • Whenever two humor-based robots appeared and one won, expect to see the trademark of the losing robot appear on the winning one. For example, Diotoir borrowed The Steel Avenger's colourful feather duster when it won and went into the heat final against Firestorm. In turn, Firestorm (and almost every other notable competitor!) has placed some of Diotoir's fur on their robot at some point.
    • Series 10's intros to Behemoth and Gabriel 2 are constantly mentioning Ant becoming "A viral sensation" after storming out of the control booth during the Series 9 battle against Cherub.
    • The first episode of 2017's World Series had Diotoir's Peter Redmond return with a new Diotoir to lead the Rest of the World team (in reality a loanerbot covered in the trademark fur of the Irish robot) and to celebrate his return the show used clips of the classic show's run for the first time in the reboot's history.
  • Camera Abuse: Sometimes, robots would destroy the ringside cameras when being flipped out of the arena.
  • Cargo Ship: An in-universe example: Jonathan Pearce commonly suggested that Matilda was having a relationship with one of the other house robots, usually Sir Killalot, Sgt Bash or Shunt.
  • Cast From Hit Points: A common problem with spinner robots, in that they would often damage themselves with the recoil. A notable example was M.R. Speed Squared: in both of its appearances it caused massive amounts of destruction in its opening melee, then suffered a breakdown and failed to work properly for the remainder of the heat.
  • Cast Speciation: Played straight in the early series, when robots all had wildly different weapons, but increasingly subverted/inverted over time as robots trended towards having either flipping or spinning weaponsnote . With spinners banned from live events for most of the show's hiatus, this got so bad that for Series 8 the producers had to enforce this trope, turning away a number of flipper robots regardless of their skill or pedigree just so they could have a more varied line-up of robots, and nerfing their effectiveness by raising the height of the arena walls to made Ring Outs harder.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • "Pit! Pit! Pit!"
    • "Let the wars begin!"
    • "3... 2... 1... ACTIVATE!"
    • Charles would finish each episode with a four line poem ending "on ''Robot Wars''."
    • Charles got several introductions in the early years from the announcer, but eventually stuck with "Ladies and Gentlemen. Please welcome the master of mayhem: Craig Charles."
    • Rex Garrod, the head of the Recyclopse/Cassius team, had "Well, you gotta try, ain't ya?"
    • The Hypno Disc team had "Spin to win" as their battlecry.
    • Dara shouting "THIS IS ROBOT WARS" at the start of every Series 8 episode, though it didn't carry over to Series 9.
  • Celebrity Edition: One of the specials shown as part of Series 4 saw celebrities take over vaguely-relevant robots (Vic Reeves took control of Diotoir, the Turner sisters took Gemini, etc.). A second, filmed alongside Series 9, aired over Christmas 2016. In this, celebrities such as Olympic heroes the Brownlee brothers and Kadeena Cox, radio presenters Scott Mills and Robbie Savage, Rizzle Kicks singer Jordan Stevens, and presenters Suzy Perry, Maggie Aderin Pocock and Neil Oliver had personally made ideas turned into bespoke robots by 8 roboteers from the previous series (the drivers of Sabretooth, Pulsar, Carbide, Thor, Terrorhurtz, Foxic, Dantomkia and Shockwave), who helped them with driving their collaborations, which all had the same motors and two outer wheels. However, this meant half the battles were won by one machine breaking off the opponent's wheel.
  • Chainsaw Good: Averted, as chainsaws were one of the least effective weapons seen on Robot Wars. Even House Robot Matilda ditched hers after Series 4 (the new spinning disc was designed to be interchangable with the chainsaw, but the chainsaw was never used again in the UK- though it was used infrequently in the Second US Series). One US fight after 2000 in which the Matriarch of Mayhem's chainsaw can be seen is here.
  • Character Shilling: The seeding of Ming Dienasty in the 7th Warsnote  was seen as very controversial due to its poor track record (all of the other seeds had made at least two heat finals or one semi-final, whereas Ming hadn't been past round 2 of any tournament). Ming made very little impact and was eliminated on a judges' decision in round 1. (They originally hadn't been seeded, but Dominator 2 pulled out so late in the day that the seedings had already been allocated.)
    • Mini Morg was seeded 19th in Series 5; they had been heat finalists the previous series, but had actually been eliminated in the opening melee and reinstated when another robot broke down before the next battle, and their only other win had been a Tag-Team battle in Extreme in which most of the work had been done by their partnernote . All five of the robots seeded below Mini Morg had much better track records (including two previous series semi-finalists), and at least two other robots (Steel Avenger and Bulldog Breed) also with more impressive histories weren't seeded at all.
    • Also subverted on a few occasions, where robots were given curiously high seedings that they went on to justify. Notably, three robots were seeded despite having never won a main-series battle beforenote , and all three went on to become Grand Finalistsnote .
  • Charlie Brown from Outta Town: A lot of Robot Wars competitors also appeared in the spin-off series Techno Games, which was a sort of robotic olympiad in which various machines competed in a series of disciplines. They were usually repainted, renamed, and had their weapons removed, but were still visibly the same robot. For example, "Pink Pants" was obviously just Pussycat with a coating of pink fur and no weapon, whilst Transpower was literally just 101 with its logo covered with a conspicuous piece of gaffer tape.
    • This was outright parodied in the first episode of the 2002 Techno Games, where the Plunderbird team showed up, claiming to be "the Smith twins... all three of us" when asked if they'd been on television before.
    • Virtually all of the US-based Extreme Warriors competitors also competed in BattleBots. Due to Executive Meddling, Transatlantic competitors had to change their robots' names and add a coat of paint before entering either arena to avoid the wrath of the lawyers.
  • Cheerful Child: These appeared on a lot of teams, often as a mascot. The Bigger Brother team had two, Joe and Ellie Watts.
  • Chef of Iron: Technically Diotoir when the team began putting food on it, so it would cook when the robot's fur caught fire (although when they tried this by sticking a kebab on it, the robot ended up in the pit instead).
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: A lot of teams who had been present in many (if not every) previous series disappeared in the Sixth and Seventh Wars. note 
    • In the Seventh Wars, only 7 of the 12 semi-finalists from Series 6 returned. Among those not returning were fan-favourites Razer and Hypno-Disc, as well as double champion Chaos 2note . Several of them were only intending to be Put on a Bus - the Hypno-Disc team were busy with family matters but intended to return for Series 8, and Dominator 2 had been forced to pull out at the last minute after suffering from a broken baseplate - but the lack of further series after 7 turned it into this trope.
    • The winner of the first Dutch series, the wedge-shaped, tracked and destructive Slicer, did not defend its title in the second series.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Whenever robots were taking on the House Robots in one-off battles, they would frequently take advantage of each other's weaponry to pull off stunts that normally wouldn't be allowed in the main competition.
    • In Series 7, when Gravity & Behemoth were taking on Mr. Psycho, Behemoth (with a weak scoop) started to push Gravity (who had, at that point, been immobilized but still had a functional weapon) from behind to use them as a flipper, since they had one of the most powerful flippers that series. However, both Gravity and Mr. Psycho broke down and cease was called.
    • During the All-Stars Tournament, Bigger Brother lifted Shunt up so that Panic Attack could get underneath and pull its Finishing Move of trapping Shunt on top of them and then pitting them.
    • During the Flipper Frenzy, the competitors all ganged up on the House Robots to combine their flipping power to try and get them out of the arena.
    • In a non-House Robot-related example, Tornado's anti-Razer frame, which was devised after Tornado was curbstomped twice by Razer. It was, in essence, a frame surrounding the robot wide enough that Razer's claw couldn't touch the robot's main body (and incidentally turned out to be too large to fit down the pit). Razer responded by attaching a hook to the end of the claw, allowing it to lift Tornado by the frame and parade it around the arena (although it lost all three times it came up against Tornado with the anti-Razer frame equipped).
    • And the new series gave us Crackers N Smash, a clusterbot team who used this trope a lot; firstly, due to the rules on clusterbots, they effectively had two robots that both had to be taken down separately. And then their tactics took this up to eleven: at one point, they even deliberately went into the arena with no weapons, on the grounds that they didn't need to win the fight to progress, and not having weapons made them less likely to need repairing later.
  • Competitive Balance: Naturally, no one robot was completely invincible, and many of the roboteers developed and upgraded their robots every year. It's even lampshaded in the intros for both Series 8 and 9: "There is no perfect design".
  • Content Warning: The original airings always ended with a voiceover stating that building a robot is extremely dangerous and should not be attempted without great care.
  • Continuing is Painful: Any robot losing in the first round of the semi-finals of the Fifth or Sixth Wars could still qualify for the second round... if they won another battle against both of the other two losers.
    • The method was also used in the 5 heats of the first Dutch series, though not in the grand final, which also had 6 robots. 2 out of the 5 losers' mêlées saw one robot drop out due to damage sustained in their round 1 exit, leaving the other 2 to go head to head. Three of the losers' mêlée winners capitalised on this reprieve to make the heat final, but lost it- one of them, Enderbot, losing to the same machine that beat it in round 1, Slicer. Another of them, however, Lizzard, was given a wildcard place to the finals and reached the grand final before narrowly losing to Slicer- it actually lost 3 times during that series, having only won its heat semi-final due to Matilda's illegal incursion immobilising it.
    • The round-robin stages in Series 8 and 9 sometimes ended up like this. If you lost a battle, you still had a chance to progress, but first you had to get your robot repaired and back out into the arena again. This was sometimes easier said than done, and so for Series 10 the round-robin stages were done away with.
  • Cool, but Inefficient:
    • Pneumatic-powered spikes, axes (with a few exceptions), chainsaws, and drills. Good for making a robot look cool, nigh-useless for actually punching through robot armor.
    • The paramount example has to be a a robot called Niterider. Its weapon was a "disemboweler", a drill accoutred with three flanges. The idea was to dig into the opponent's innards, and the flanges would flail around and slash the electronics. In practice though, lining up an attack with such an unwieldy weapon was impossible, and most metals can't be pierced with a drill.
    • Revolution 2 from Series 6 had possibly the scariest-looking weapon ever seen on the show: a rack of enormous metal claws attached to a spinning drum that Phillipa duly compared to a combine harvester. Unfortunately, the weapon's appearance was undermined by its actual performance, as the blades were far too light to deal any sort of damage beyond scratching paintjobs, and tended to stop dead every time they hit something.
    • Dutch robot Vortex Inducer was armed with a flywheel mounted on a unique movable arm that allowed the disc to be positioned either horizontally or vertically. In theory, this would let it combine the strengths of both weapon types and adapt to its opponents. In practice, the arm was very heavy and unwieldy, and even with a fragile, poorly-armoured chassis, the team had to remove Vortex Inducer's tank tracks in order to make the weight limit. In its only battle it was too slow to actually do anything, was counted out, and then cut cleanly in half by Sir Killalot.
    • Ms Nightshade in Series 9 was one of the most obvious. It was a 6-sided spiked pyramid in which every face had a petal-shaped axe on it, so the robot could look like the poisonous flower that is its namesake, and also prevent it from getting flipped or pitted. Unfortunately, the hammers couldn't properly retract, didn't have any force when they opened anyway, and had its drive damaged when it was pushed slightly across the floor while being moved into position, causing it to crash out by being flipped completely upside down. It ended up as a Memetic Loser and was held up as a target of criticism for such an obviously ineffective machine being granted entrance to Series 9 when proven machines like TR2 (a former grand finalist) had been turned away.
  • Confusion Fu: The Nuts team stated that this was their primary tactic, with a dose of Strategy Schmategy. If they don't know what their robot is doing, then their opponents certainly won't either.
  • Cosmic Deadline: The Diotoir team arrived in Series 3 with their robot in pieces as it had been disassembled by customs. To avoid the same problem in Series 4, they took the robot disassembled anyway, thinking they'd have enough time to put it back together when they got there. When they arrived, however, they found that the time of their first fight had been moved forward and that the robot was over the weight limit. The end result was that they went into battle with their top armour removed and no power for their weapon. They did not do very well.
    • Averted twice in Series 2, when Pain and The Parthian Shot were both disqualified for taking too long to repair their robot. The latter only needed minutes more to get Parthian up and running, but the deadline struck.
    • The Robot Wars Wiki has a page full of aversions.
    • Zig-Zagged in the rebooted series. Teams only have two hours to repair their robots between fights, and if they can't manage it, they have to forfeit their place and another robot is reinstated. Just about every heat features at least one team frantically trying to make this deadline: while a lot of them make it (Nuts in Series 8, Sabretooth and Pulsar in Series 9), some of them don't (Chompalot in Series 8, Rapid and Frostbite in Series 9).
  • Crazy Enough to Work: You're up against Hypno-Disc, a machine that tore everything in its heat to pieces. Everyone expects you to be ripped apart in seconds. What's your tactic? Ram headlong into it, of course! This is exactly what Splinter did in its Series 4 semi-final, and it proceeded to give Hypno-Disc its biggest challenge of the series so far... for about thirty seconds, anyway.
    Jonathan Pearce: Craig's plan - just drive straight at Hypno-Disc? He's utterly barmy— [Splinter deflects the first hit with ease] —or is he?
    • This is, in fact, the accepted tactic for dealing with spinners: ram headlong into them with a heavily-armoured wedge or scoop that can No-Sell their weapon and slow it down, and then push them around. Behemoth, with its much stronger titanium scoop, is the king of this tactic, having successfully defeated not just Hypno-Disc, but every horizontal spinner it's ever faced (with the exception of Carbide).
  • Crazy-Prepared: The Leighbot team in Series 1 apparently brought an electric fan with them just in case there were any vision-obscuring smoke effects in the arena. There were, and the team duly mounted the fan onto the end of Leightbot's movable lance weapon, so they could see where they were going during the Gauntlet.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Prince of Darkness in Series 1. The team had thrown it together in less than five hours, and it had wooden armour, exposed wheels, no weapons, and initially looked like this. It was the target of Jeremy Clarkson's infamous "worst robot I've ever seen in my life" remark, and was disparaged by Philippa and Jonathan as well... and yet it did so well in the Gauntlet and Trial that when it went up against eventual Grand Finalists T.R.A.C.I.E. in the heat semi-final, it was the favourite to winnote .
  • Crutch Character: The lack of seeding system in the Third Wars (as well as the large number of robots that year - 128, compared to 72 the previous year and 96 in the next two) meant that many robots that were functional but lacklustre managed to get quite far in the competition simply by not meeting any serious competition.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Naturally, there were quite a few of them over the years.
    • Interestingly, the two arguably most famous examples - Hypno-Disc's curb-stompings of Robogeddon in Series 3 and Splinter in Series 4 - were actually Curb-Stomp Cushions:
    • Razer's battle against Milly Ann Bug arguably rivals Hypno-Disc vs. Robogeddon as one of the most horrific (or alternatively, hilarious) examples of one-sided robot destruction ever seen on the show. Razer set Milly on fire, punched a few gaping holes in her, and then got the idea to try to cut the articulated machine in half. Failing that, Razer settled on removing Milly's wheels. All four of them. Jonathan Pearce described it as a sadistic schoolboy pulling a spider's legs off one by one.
    • Similar to Hypno-Disc above but taken a step further, Carbide's run in Series 9 consisted of them effortlessly beating every opponent they fought, winning every fight by knockout, none of them lasting more than 2 minutes, whilst taking no significant damage at all.
  • Dark Horse Victory: Spikasaurus winning the Northern Annihilator special in Series 4, especially as it had put in a rather weak appearance in the main competition that series (knocked out in the melee by Bulldog Breed and Stinger and tied for last place in Pinball) and was seen as only being in the Annihilator to make up the numbersnote .
  • David vs. Goliath: Many, many times.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Extended to an entire series! With a majority of the most popular and successful competitors leaving after Series 6, many of their former opponents got to show off the full extent of their power in Series 7, with Bulldog Breed (who was often knocked out by Hypno-Disc) and Atomic (previously eliminated by Chaos 2 and Hypno-Disc) now reaching the semi-final. Robochicken and Judge Shred made their first heat final, too.
  • Death from Above: The Drop Zone. Given the competitors were already immobilized and therefore out of the running when placed on the Drop Zone, though, it's also an example of Kick Them While They Are Down.
  • Defeat Means Friendship:
    • The famous 101/King Buxton rivalry was mostly for show: captains Grant Hornsby and Mike Franklin actually became very good friends and even talked about joining up to make a robot together in the reboot era. After two battles, the two teamed up and won the Tag Team Terror tournament in Series 4.
    • There were other instances of enemies becoming friends. In Robot Wars Extreme, Spawn Again teamed up with Comengetorix for a tag team match. The former's explanation of why they joined forces? "Last year we beat them, ever since we've been friends!"
  • Defiant to the End: Several robots sprang back to life and tried to keep fighting even after they'd been counted out, most commonly after being flipped over, counted out, and then accidentally righted during their Humiliation Conga. Arguably the most famous example was The Big Cheese, after it was defeated by Chaos 2 in Series 3; Sir Killalot made the mistake of putting it on the floor flipper the right way up, and The Big Cheese promptly drove off it and eviscerated Sgt. Bash with its lifting arm.
  • Determinator: Anyone who's able to put up a good fight against Hypno-Disc:
    • Bigger Brother is the John Paul Jones of Robot Wars, losing its flipper arm, sustaining terrible wounds to its armor, limping sluggishly along after damage to its rear wheels, and being practically eviscerated by massive gashes along its side, and still managing to win by cleverly manhandling the flagging Hypno-Disc into the pit!
    • Wild Thing may have eventually lost, but not easily. Despite suffering grievous wounds early on, Wild Thing refused to surrender, grabbing Hypno-Disc and ramming it into the wall so hard its spinner stopped working - and coming very close to shoving it over the fence - while Wild Thing was running on a single functioning wheel. The sheer tenacity of its fightback almost won them the resulting judge's decision.
    • Firestorm deserves a commendation for (if nothing else) charging the Disc of Destruction, eventually falling into the pit - but not before knocking Hypno-Disc in first. (The judges called a rematch, but Hypno-Disc hitting the floor of the pit disc-first had rendered it immobile. Firestorm was still working, so were declared the winners by default.)
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Mechanical failures ended many robots when they looked like winning. In the early seasons, but particularly Series 3, the arena spikes toppled many robots without srimechs (or functioning srimechs) - that's how Behemoth lost to Pitbull that year, and subsequently, how Pitbull lost to Firestorm. On a much more sinister and unfair level, the house robots sometimes attack perfectly-functioning robots outside of their Corner Patrol Zones. Ming 3 was a particular victim of this at the hands of Matilda.
  • Difficulty Spike: In the Second Wars Semi-Finals, the Gauntlet was far harder than it was in the heats, with the Sentinel being given 360 degree movement, a pit being added to the see-saw/ramp path, and a sphere being added to blockade the path with the Ramrig.
  • Double Entendre: In the Seventh Wars, when the Hassocks Hog team talked about how they'd upgraded their flipper weapon, which they'd described as previously being a "limp lifter", Jonathan Pearce gave us this gem:
    Jonathan: [knowingly] Ah, the old limp lifter problem.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • Mick Cutter, a member of the Chaos team in Series 2, left to join the Cassius team in Series 3. Needless to say, the new Chaos 2 robot won the latter series - and the one after that. Cassius, meanwhile, crashed out early in Series 3 after Cutter accidentally drove the robot into the pit, and the team never entered Robot Wars again.
    • The Robot Wars Magazine's run-down of the Series 4 seeds was full of this:
      • 12th seed Evil Weevil's description claimed it "needed to be be on the attack more". In Series 4 it didn't do very much attacking at all, as its batteries ran out during its first and only fight.
      • It was judged that another semi-final appearance for 16th seeds Trident would be "fantastic". In the end, Trident made no appearance at all in Series 4, pulling out at the last minute.
      • 20th seeds Cerberus' description read: "This time with a weapon, should do well, and always looks great". Its Series 4 incarnation didn't have a weapon (again), didn't do well (it went out in the first round), and didn't even look that great, as it was missing the decorative head.
      • 24th seeds X-Terminator were judged to have a "good, destructive weapon". Its axe in Series 4 was anything but.
      • 26th seeds Berserk 2 were judged to be "almost impossible to disable", but in their Series 4 heat semi-final, Tornado managed to do exactly that.
      • 29th seeds Sir Chromalot's description mentioned that a fight between them and Plunderbird would be "a must-see fight". When they finally did meet in Extreme 1, the resulting battle was extremely boring.
  • The Dreaded: Certain robots acquired this trait as the show progressed, most notably Chaos 2, Razer, and Hypno-Disc. The house robots are this in general, but Sir Killalot in particular.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The first few series have plenty of this: a visibly more relaxed attitude to health and safety (which changed after a major incident in the pits caused somebody serious injury), a completely different set, more simple designs, lots of teams that retired in later wars, and most noticeably the Gauntlet and other 'trials' in place of a straightforward knockout competition.
    • The first series had six heats, and the winner of each heat took part in a six-way melee at the end of the last heat, with the last robot standing declared the series champion. All other series (prior to the reboot) had at least twice as many heats plus semi-finals and a grand final.
      • The first series additionally didn't have any set weight limit or distinct weight classes, with the main competition featuring robots weighing anywhere between 10kg and over 110kg (although each heat would generally feature different weights, e.g. one show only featured featherweights). Combined with the aforementioned 6-man rumble for the Grand Final, this led to the laughable situation where the 11.4kg Cunning Plan ended up in the same fight as the 84.6kg Robot the Bruce (Cunning Plan was so small than it was actually eliminated when it got stuck underneath the 52.9kg middleweight T.R.A.C.I.E). The weight classes weren't enforced (with the main competition featuring heavyweights only) until the second series.
    • Some robots had this as well. The Chaos team were legendary for their flipper, but their Series 1 entry, the aforementioned Robot The Bruce, was just a box that pushed other robots around without having any actual weaponry.
    • Jonathan Pearce's commentary in the first two series dialled his usual hamminess Up to Eleven, almost bordering on No Indoor Voice at times. Even his shouting was comparatively subdued from Series 3 onwards, whereas in Series 1 he was practically screaming at the top of his lungs (see his commentary on the Roadblock-Killertron fight from Series 1 for a good example of this).
      • Conversely, Craig Charles' presenting was relatively subdued until Extreme 1/Series 5, when the hamminess he became known for took over.
    • The birth of the self-righting mechanism in the Series 2 semi-finals (which was immediately subjected to several slow-motion replays) is often accused of being overhyped, as very soon after that they were commonplace and it was considered madness to not have some form of self-righter. At the time, though, it was groundbreaking, particularly since until then Sir Killalot's greatest threat was his ability to turn robots over with his lance.
    • The first series had a more Cyberpunk feel. The arena looked intentionally low-budget, and Jeremy Clarkson gave narrations at the start of every episode about how robot wars "were putting the whole country into chaos".
    • Battles ended with "Stop and deactivate robots" in Series 1, as opposed to the much more concise "Cease" that got called afterwards.
  • Egocentric Team Naming: The 2016 "Battle of the Stars" celebrity special had a couple: Robbie Savage named his bot "RoboSavage", and Kadeena Cox named hers "Kadeena Machina".
  • Eldritch Abomination: A robot in Series 3 called Twn Trwn (pronounced "tun terran"). Though not as scary as typical examples of this trope, it qualifies by merit of comparison - the typical Robot Wars robots of the time were plain-looking metal boxes. Apart from the name being an abomination on its own, the robot was a miasma of faces, skulls, and creatures haphazardly stuck together. You could stare at the artwork all day and still not comprehend the robot as a whole.
  • Enemy Mine: This was a common tactic in any three-way battle from which two robots would go through; Splinter and Small Torque both teamed up against the seeded Centurion in their first round melee of Series 4, and in the round of three in the Series 7 Annihilator Kan-Opener and Ripper both united to take out Raging Knightmare.
  • Epic Fail:
    • Any time a robot drove into the pit, or broke down at the start of the match without moving at all, giving their opponent a free win. Special mentions go to:
      • Killerhurtz in Series 3, which drove right at Cerberus, got in a single axe blow that punched through Cerberus' armour and damaged its batteries, then reversed away and careened straight into the open pit. The team claimed they'd forgotten it was there (or possibly mistaken it for a floor panel), having been used to competing in BattleBots, which doesn't have a pit. Note that this was the series in which the pit was only open for the first two battles anyway.
      • Dreadnaut in Series 2, which was eliminated after the team accidentally knocked its safety link out while repairing it in the pits. They somehow didn't notice it lying on the arena floor next to the inoperable Dreadnaut prior to the start of the battle.
      • Thunderpants, which sustained damage to its drivetrain while qualifying for Series 7. The team didn't notice, and Thunderpants promptly broke down... while it was being driven into the arena for its pre-match introduction. Jonathan Pearce was not amused.
      • Agent Orange's fight with Max Damage in Series 3, in which Max Damage didn't move at all because the team had forgotten to insert the removable link. From Series 4 onwards, the robots were driven into the arena before the fight, rather than being carried in before being activated from the control booths, preventing any more such mishaps.
      • The Executioner's fight with Dominator 2 in Extreme 1. In a show of spectacularly poor control, The Executioner missed the pit release button three times before finally activating it, and then immediately drove in with very little input from Dominator 2. You can hear Craig Charles struggling not to crack up while announcing the results.
      • Tauron in Series 10, which was the first robot to be counted out despite being perfectly mobile, purely because the driver decided to stop moving it. He thought both robots had stopped at the same time even though in reality Iron Awe had moved after it stopped.
      • Doctor Fist from Series 6 has the dubious distinction of having lost two battles without ever making contact with any of its opponents. Its main series battle had it being dead on arrival, and would probably have been counted out even before Dantomkia killed it entirely with a ram into the wall, and its New Blood battle had it doing nothing but spinning in circles while its two opponents fought each other. The House Robots had to push it into the action, whereupon Doctor Fist still did absolutely nothing, and the House Robots gave up and destroyed it.
    • One of the Series 2 "trials" was a Joust, where each robot had to cover as much ground as possible against Matilda. The fourth robot to run got stuck and was pushed back, meaning that the last robot to run had to beat a negative score (-2.10m) to qualify. It didn't move at all until it was too late, whereupon it got stuck as well, and was dragged back to -2.80m.
    • During the trials, Shunt (whose "front face" is actually the V-shaped plough, not the scoop with the axe) was always forced to turn around to face the competing robot. Since he didn't have enough room to turn around on the narrow walkway, he usually ended up falling off and immobilizing himself. Why they didn't just have him start out facing backwards in the first place is a complete mystery.
    • Piece de Resistance at the start of its 2nd Wars Gauntlet run decided to try and take the middle route, over the see-saws. The first obstacle it had to clear was a small wall of loosely-stacked bricks. It proved to be too weak to knock the bricks down, repeatedly backing up and slamming against the wall without budging them at all in a most pathetic manner. Eventually Killalot came in behind them, scooped them up between his lance and claw and threw them over the wall, as if to say "oh for God's sake, here you go then!" If you can believe it, it actually got worse for them after this, since Killalot's interference was actually enough for them to pass the Gauntlet (another robot in the same heat registered the worst score in the history of the Gauntlet, a pitiful 0.2m) so they went onto the Trials, which was Skittles. Almost predictably, Piece de Resistance proved too weak to even knock over a single barrel, repeating charging against the stacks without making any impression at all, and the House Robots closed in to put them out of their misery, leaving them with a score of 0. Killalot was still roasting the robot over the flame pit while Craig Charles interviewed the team afterwards.
    • The Labyrinth trial in Heat E of the 1st Wars was rendered totally moot when Psychosprout - a spherical robot 'powered' by a remote control car inside - managed to roll backwards, meaning the other four robots only had to get off the starting point to qualify.
    • In the 5th-place playoff of the German series, Mr Psycho picked up Junkyard Queen, held it up off the ground and decided to go for a little stroll around the arena with it. Unfortunately, due to a perfect coincidence of circumstances and carelessness, he takes a corner too hard, suffers the full effects of the increased centrifugal force coming from Junkyard Queen's added weight, and tumbles iron arse over metal head!
    • At the start of Heat D of Dutch Series 2, Amok drove forward, onto the Disc of Doom (which for some unknown reason was already spinning when the bout started), wobbled off it again and simply stopped, making it the only robot in the history of the show to be KO'd by the arena spinner!
    • Phantasm from the Nickelodeon series ran into trouble as soon as it arrived at the studio to be weighed in and came up fifty-six kilograms overweight!note  The team had to hurriedly strip it of most of its armour and all of its weapons except its hinged front feeder spikes, used to get under oppponents.note  It fared about as well in battle as you might expect under the circumstances (that is to say, atrociously).
    • Series 9 had Wyrm in its group battle, where its main contribution was to knock itself out by driving forwards and nudging the arena wall. Dara quipped in the post-battle interview that Wyrm lasted three seconds shorter than the team's previous robot Overdozer, which was made of wood and got torn apart by a flipper.
    • Series 9 also had the tragic case of High5, which stopped moving entirely in its group battle after being gently bumped by Wyrm. Getting a new porthole torn into it by Supernova was just adding insult to injury.
  • Everything Is Trying to Kill You: During the House Robot Rebellions in Extreme 1 and Series 7, the contestants had to deal with not only the house robots, but also every single arena hazard. This didn't become apparent in the first one until Plunderbird 5 was unexpectedly thrown by the floor flipper, at which point Jonathan Pearce rammed the point home:
    Jonathan: Sorry, didn't we tell you about that? Ha ha! Too late now, isn't it, to find out what we've got up our sleeve! We've got weapons like that, and axle grinders and flamethrowers and torches, and goodness knows what! We're not gonna lose this, let me tell you!
    • This also happened in the Series 7 sideshow All-Stars tournament, which the contestants only used as an excuse to attack the house robots; at one point the Drop Zone was activated in a bid to stop the contestants (and missed).
  • Expy: Many designs were taken from other robots, most notably Adam Clark's machines, most of whom were heavily based on machines in BattleBots.
    • Pretty much every robot in the two-part "Battle of the Stars" celebrity special was based on (or at least bore a striking resemblance to) an existing bot:
      • In Part 1, Interstellar was openly based on Apollo (though its flipper is front-hinged, more like Firestorm or Envy), while Arena Cleaner was effectively Carbide armed with Fluffy's spinning hammers.
      • In Part 2, Dee bore a resemblance to a pink-painted Chimera (and performed just as badly), Robo Savage was basically a Welsh-themed T-Minus, Kadeena Machina resembles Infernal Contraption or S3, and Soldier Ant greatly resembles Tiberius.
  • Fanservice: Of a non-sexual kind. According to an audience member of Series 8, some roboteers held exhibition matches between championship matches simply to amuse the audience/ themselves, and had the added benefit of allowing the other robots that just fought in the championship bouts enough time to make necessary repairsnote . The battles were sometimes shown in the credits, such as Eruption v Infernal Contraption and Behemoth v Gabriel.
  • Filler: Constantly, especially in the Grand Final where four battles (or three; on two occasions the third-place playoff had to be cancelled due to one of the competitors being too damaged to fight again) lasting a maximum of five minutes each were milked out to the full timeslot.
    • The German series was even worse- with only 12 contestants in the entire series, they had to draw the 2 heats and single Grand Final out to the maximum length (they could only have 4 battles per heat, since they needed 2 robots from each to go through to the Grand Final), resulting in every episode opening with the same complete House Robot introductions (including the flashy debut of Mr Psycho and Growler shown at the start of the 6th Wars), the battles from the Extreme series World Championship that featured the German competitors crammed in there, and recaps and extended interviews at every opportunity.
    • In the rebooted series, it was Dara interviewing a judge about engineering and robotics advances. The Christmas celebrity specials filled the time with various clips and montages from the 2016 season. The latter also saw Dara and Angela have a go controlling TR2 and Behemoth respectively in a just-for-fun battle in the first episode.
  • Five-Man Band: The house robots:
  • Flipping Helpless: This was a common weakness in the early seasons, but eventually competitors started entering robots which were either able to work both ways up, roll back onto their wheels, or (for maximum Rule of Cool) use a SRIMECHnote  to flip themselves back over (after Cassius was able to do so with its flipper during Series 2).
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Literally. There was a robot named Fluffy. It had a spinning blade that was very destructive, and nearly took out the number 2 seed on its debut appearance (unfortunately, on both this and subsequent appearances it suffered from reliability issues that stopped it from reaching its full potential).
  • Foregone Victory:
    • The Series 7, Heat J final involved Thermidor 2 chasing Mighty Mouse and flipping it whenever it was close enough, and Mighty Mouse endlessly running away, making no attempt at all at actually fighting, until the time ran out. Neither Jonathan Pearce, Craig Charles or the judges pretended there was any suspense over the result whatsoever.
    • The Series 4, Heat P heat final battle between Hypno-Disc and Raizer Blade... wasn't a battle. It was an execution. Julia interviewed the captain of Raizer Blade before the battle (it had been touch and go to see if they could even get the robot running long enough to drive into the arena) and he cheerfully admitted that the robot was "bleeding to death"- their pneumatic lifting arm was leaking CO2 so they had no weapon, they were running on about half a speed controller so they might be able to turn in circles if they were lucky for the few seconds before Hypno-Disc destroyed them. The most he was hoping for was to give the audience a good show.note  Robot Wars has seen a lot of upsets and shocking results in its time, but this was one where there was literally only one possible outcome- the only thing that might have spared Raizer Blade was if Hypno-Disc (which was MUCH more reliable than it had been in Series 3) spontaneously suffered a catastrophic breakdown or lost its removable link. Predictably, the crippled Raizer Blade was knocked out in a single hit, with Jonathan comparing it to "putting the heavyweight boxing champion of the world in against my gran".
    • In Series 9 Heat E, the clusterbot Crackers 'n' Smash elected to remove its weapons prior to its round-robin fight against Carbide, to save them from getting destroyed ahead of its final round-robin match against Apollo. The two weaponless boxes stood absolutely no chance and after one of them was punted the entire length of the arena and straight through the wall, the team elected to forfeit the fight rather than needlessly risking further damage.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • During Plunderbird 2's first Gauntlet run in The Second Wars, it deliberately drove into the pit rather than take on the house robots, having already covered enough ground to qualify. During its second Gauntlet run, in the semi-finals, it had no choice but to take on the house robots and was promptly pushed all the way back to the start line before having its aerial sliced off by Matilda.
    • Berserk 2's narrow loss against Hypno-Disc in The Third Wars was the first demonstration of Hypno's innate weaknesses that would stop it from ever winning the championship and finish its career with a serious case of Badass Decay.
    • Future Battlebots legends Mauler were meant to have represented the USA in The First World Championship, but wound up disqualified as they hadn't performed a proper risk assessment and, after testing, were deemed too dangerous for the arena. Later, in Battlebots Season 2.0, a certain something happened which suggested the Robot Wars health and safety crew had made the right decision...
    • Take a quick look at Pussycat's Kill Tally during The Fourth Wars Sumo Basho, which was filmed after the Grand Final but aired during the heats. The only robot that's clearly visible is Razer, whose loss to Pussycat had already aired, but there are three more robots tallied beneath it, hinting at just how much further Pussycat went that year.
    • Chaos 2's heat final against SMIDSY in The Fifth Wars, where it flipped itself over trying to get SMIDSY out of the arena and its flipper then malfunctioned so it couldn't self-rightnote . On that occasion it went to a rematch, but its defeats to Bigger Brother later that year, and to Dantomkia in Series 6, both came after it got overturned and couldn't self-right (the former was because it had run out of gas for the flipper, which was the tactic Bigger Brother was pursuing, the latter was because Dantomkia had pushed it into a corner and Chaos flipped itself over while flipping its opponent, causing it to have no room to self-right).
    • Nuts' first battle saw it holding its own against three previous Grand Finalists (including champion Razer) and winning, and it would later qualify for the Grand Final 2 years later where it defeated another champion: Carbide.
  • Forklift Fu: While a few robots (most notably Panic Attack) had "lifting forks", the contestant that bore the most resemblance to an actual forklift was Series 4 robot Indefatigable. It lost its only fight to Chaos 2 and was hurled out of the arena.
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • Razer lost in Series 2 through 4 due to one thing going wrong (most notably in Series 3, when its self-righting mechanism went off at the wrong moment and left it stranded just before it got the chance to finish off a Curb-Stomp Battle with Aggrobot).
    • An almost literal example occurred in Series 2; if George Francis had only remembered to screw two small pieces of plastic onto the back of Chaos, it would have been the first robot to ever self-right during its heat final battle against Mace, and could well have then beaten Mace, reached the semi-finalsnote , and caused eventual champions Panic Attack to have been eliminated in the Gauntletnote . From there, it likely could have made the Grand Finalnote ... but on the flipside, if Chaos had gotten that far, would George Francis still have been motivated to make Chaos 2?
    • The third series was intended to feature a seeding system like the others, but did not due to the extensive changes to the show's format. This resulted in cases where high-quality robots went out early because they were drawn against equally good machines in the heats, whilst there were other heats were the entire field was unremarkable.
    • Typhoon 2 were flipped in their opening battle of Series 7 but went through because the other two robots in the fight had been flipped first, and were losing their semi-final match against Atomic when their opponent mistimed a large flip, turned itself over and broke the flipper with the force.
  • Free Wheel: Often when robots with exposed wheels went up against particularly destructive weapons. For instance, Hypno-Disc versus Ming 3:
    Jonathan: There goes a whole wheel! A whole wheel has come off! What an attack - oh, there goes the other one! Well, why not?
    • A rather funny example was in Series 6 Heat A, when one of Brutus Maximus' wheels came off and (to the amusement of Jonathan Pearce) rolled straight into the pit.
    • A spectacular example in Series 8 Heat A during Carbide's No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of Nuts: for the coup de grace, it tore one of Nuts' large wheels off with such force that the wheel was sent flying out of the arena.
    • On the subject of the 2016 series, "Do not bring exposed tires into the arena" practically reached Running Gag levels at times, for this very reason. In the celebrity special later that year, very few fights were won by anything other than any of the two-wheeled robots having one of them torn off, usually by Kadeena's Machina, and Scott Mills and Suzy Perry's spinners.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The Series 8 teaser trailers each focus on one specific competitor, but pay close attention during the Rapid Fire Montage battle scenes and you can make out several others, such as Carbide and Eruption, before they were officially announced.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Because everyone was good sportsmen behind the scenes, several friendly rivalries started. Some popular examples include 101 vs King Buxton, Panic Attack vs Firestorm, and Firestorm vs Diotoir.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Some robots would employ these as names (for instance, SMIDSY stands for Sorry Mate I Didn't See You, which the team, a group of bikers, had heard many times from cars nearly hitting them).
    • Robots without SRIMECHs (itself an acronym for Self-righting mechanism) would sometimes have PTO ("Please Turn Over") written on the bottom.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: The All-Stars special at the end of Series 7 was originally intended as a "Veterans" special featuring robots that had fought in at least five championships. However, S.M.I.D.S.Y., Thermidor II, Spawn Again, X-Terminator, and Bulldog Breed were all unable to participate due to damage sustained in the main tournament that yearnote . In the end they added Dantomkia instead and rebranded the competition as an All-Stars tournament.
    • Happens quite frequently in the rebooted series, thanks to the round-robin format and the limited two-hour repair times. If a robot takes irreparable damage, it has to withdraw. Chompalot met this fate in Series 8, as did Rapid and Frostbite in Series 9.
  • Germanic Efficiency: Black Hole, the champion of German Robot Wars, was VERY tough. During the Extreme 2 European Championship, it took out its first opponent in one attack, and only lost its next fight due to its opponent (which Black Hole had been demolishing for most of the match) suddenly ending up with a chance to push it into the pit. It's a pity they didn't enter the World Championships or Series 7.
    • Generally averted, though, as German roboteering quality in general was nowhere remotely near UK standards - best exemplified by the German Melee in Extreme 1, which was a Wimp Fight between four machines that were unremarkable even by Series 2 standards - and there were very few robots in the short-lived German series that were really up to much (this despite the series happening in parallel with UK Series 6). Black Hole was good and runner-up Tsunami was passable (although it was much improved by the time it appeared in UK Series 7), but most other German robots seen during the duration of Robot Wars (both in the German series and the various International specials and World Championship events) were extremely weak. They couldn't even find the minimum 12 German robots they needed for the 2-heat series and had to substitute in 3 Dutch entrants to make up the numbers.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Sometimes the writers slipped rather rude jokes into Craig's material, such as what he said after Pussycat shredded Robochicken in the 4th Wars.
    Craig: The cat gets the cream, but Robochicken has to cluck off!
    • The robot Vercingetorix, named after the Gaulish chieftain who fought against Julius Caesar, had Latin graffiti painted on it. Some of them were perfectly innocent (e.g. a Shout-Out to the Latin graffiti scene in Monty Python's Life of Brian), but others included podex perfectus es ("you're a complete arsehole"), stercorem pro cerebro habes ("you have shit for a brain") and Julius, futue te ipsum ("fuck you, Julius")note .
  • Glass Cannon: Robots with flywheels (both horizontal and vertical) were generally this by default. Flywheels were hugely devastating weapons, capable of inflicting severe damage, but were also extremely heavy, usually taking up 20-25% of the allotted weight limit even in later series. This meant that robots with flywheels usually had to have very thin armour to compensate, making them highly vulnerable. Flywheels also typically had a high recoil, damaging the wielders' internal mechanics and making them even more fragile. Fluffy managed to solve the first problem (its compact body allowed it to bolt on polycarbonate that was 16mm thick), but it infamously couldn't solve the second one.
    • Averted by Series 9 with the upgrades to Carbide; they solved the recoil and wear issues so it never breaks down. Combined with the reduced time needed for the bar to spin up and the fact that the weapon doesn't even slow down when it hits something, Carbide verges on being an Invincible Hero, as the only Achilles' Heel keeping spinners in check seems to have been effectively removed.
  • Godzilla Threshold: When spinner robots first began appearing in Robot Wars (starting with Hypno-Disc in Series 3), "entanglement weapons" such as nets or ropes were banned as unfair to them. After 4 of the 5 Grand Finalists in Series 9 had spinning weapons and Carbide absolutely destroyed everyone to win the entire series without even breaking a sweat, the announcement for Series 10 revealed that the producers had actually formally legalised entanglement weapons in an attempt to curtail the simply unstoppable spinners.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The Flipper Frenzy battle in Extreme 1 was intended to find out who had the best flipper: Bigger Brother, Chaos 2, Thermidor 2, or Wheely Big Cheese. Instead, the roboteers made a pact to gang up on the house robots (Matilda and Sgt. Bash) and try and throw one of them out of the arenanote . Halfway through, Jonathan Pearce criticized the competitors for taking things so drastically Off the Rails, then admitted, "It's a flipping frenzy out there, and that's what we wanted!" Lampshaded by Chaos 2's George Francis: "You put that many flippers in the arena, what'd you expect was going to happen?"
  • Graceful Loser: Everyone, since nobody took the competition seriously enough to get upset at losing. Even supposed rivals are more than happy to shake each other's hand, help each other out in the pits, and promise to come back the following year with a better robot.
    • Despite claims to the contrary from the media at the time, Ant from Team Make Robotics/Behemoth does NOT avert this, as his widely mocked storm-off was down to irritation at his team-mates insisting on the use of a weapon Ant was against for the battle and not because he'd lost to a team consisting mainly of children, as the media and editing at the time (probably accidentally) spun it.
    • If this was ever averted, it was by Ian Lewis of Team Razer. After Razer was ripped up by Pussycat during their Series 4 heat final he stormed off to check on his machine without waiting for the post-battle interview and delivered a rant to camera at the end of the episode about how ungentlemanly Pussycat had been by hacking up his machine so badly. The team ultimately split up after the European Championship in Extreme 2, after a controversial judges' decision gave Razer the win over Tornado despite the fact that Razer had burned out its motors and been immobilised but not counted out. Simon Scott and Vincent Blood voted to overrule the judges' decision and give the win to Tornado, but the ultra-competitive Lewis disagreed, saying that competitors shouldn't set a precedent of challenging, let alone overruling, the judges for the competition to retain any credibility. He rudely told Blood that his vote didn't count because he hadn't helped build Razernote  and despite Scott and Blood ultimately getting their way, this rudeness was the last straw that drove the team to break up.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: The Mazakari team had no idea what it meant, despite obviously being its creators/builders and the persons responsible for its name (the most likely explanation is that they took the name from the Inner Sphere designation for the Clan mech known as the Warhawk in BattleTech).
    • A walkerbot in the 2nd Dutch series was named Namazu (stylised as N A M A Z U on the battle boards), after the legend of the giant catfish that causes earthquakes. This proved quite appropriate, as its 175kg weight shook the arena floor panels as it walked.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: At one point in the German Series, a defeated robot (Junkyard Queen) was placed under the Drop Zone, only to have the chassis of another previously-defeated robot (Golem) dropped onto it.
    • On a couple of occasions the arena flipper would throw a defeated robot onto another robot that got in the way.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: In the second Dutch series, after Vortex Inducer was counted out, Sir Killalot drove in, grabbed the axle holding the fragile robot together, and sliced straight through it, effectively bisecting the Awesome, but Impractical machine.
  • Handicapped Badass: Berserk II in Series 3. All their team members were deaf, yet they built a robot that was able to survive a fight with Hypno-Disc, which had destroyed its last two opponents, barely unscathed.
    • Also has a minor heartwarming moment attached to it, as Philippa is seen to have learned a little sign language and continues to ask them for signs so she can communicate with them throughout.
    • In the second Battle of the Stars episode of the 2016 reboot, the team headed up by wheelchair-bound Paralympic gold medalist Kadeena Cox created a robot called Kadeena Machina which absolutely destroyed everything it came up against with little effort, winning all four of its fights with a relatively simply KO.
    • One of Track-tion's team members is missing her left arm below the elbow.
  • Happy Dance: After their first win in Dutch Series 2, the three members of Team Twister (a robot with a triangular spinning blade) all linked arms and danced around in a circle in the control pod, replicating the spinning motion of their weapon. They did it again after mangling their 2nd round opponent.
  • 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.
  • History Repeats: The 2016 finals were uncannily reminiscent of the series 3 finals, pitting the respective Wars' most powerful flipper (Chaos 2 and Apollo) against the most destructive spinner (Hypno-Disc and Carbide). Both occasions also saw the flipper coming out on top.
    • The Series 10 Grand Final was exactly the same as the Series 9 Grand Final, pitting Carbide (the greatest spinner) against Eruption (which had surpassed Apollo for the position of greatest flipper). Carbide had mullered Eruption in Series 9, but the stakes were somewhat different this time as Carbide had already lost a fight earlier in the final and were starting to get tired, while Eruption had actually lost in its heat and been forced to win through the 10-robot rumble to earn the wildcard spot into the finals. Ultimately subverted this time as Eruption proved victorious.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Chaos 2, the robot that invented the out-of-the-arena flip, getting flipped out of the arena by Dantomkia.
      • Chaos 2 was also knocked out of the Second World Championship in Robot Wars Extreme by driving into the pit while trying to flip another robot into it.
    • Razer was immobilised in the Third Wars after it got itself stuck on the spike at the back of its weapon, which raised its wheels off the ground.
    • Any time a robot activated the pit release button only to end up driving in itself, with the most hilarious example being Major Tom in Series 5. Shredder (also in Series 5) also fell victim to this, slamming Mousetrap into the button and immediately backing into the pit as it was descending.
  • Humiliation Conga:
    • Once immobilised, the House Robots are free to come in and punish the robot more, using their own weapons plus the arena's own hazards; a lucky competitor might find themselves in the pit straight away, but there's also the floor flipper, drop zone, flamethrowers, saws...
    • Poor, poor Matilda. Not only did Razer penetrate her roughly from behind with his mighty crusher, he proceeded to set her on fire (twice!), all the while completely ignoring Onslaughtnote . Even the other house robots proceeded to turn against her, with Sir Killalot only coming to her defense after she had been thoroughly trashed. Matilda took such a brutal beating in that fight that a comment was added to confirm that Matilda would return.note 
    • Kind of subverted in the Series 3 finale where, after flipping Hypno-Disc, Chaos 2 went after the house robots, and flipped Matilda and Shunt before they ended the round. On the other hand, it counts as one for the house robots, so everything evens out.
    • Averted in the 2016 reboot; because of the new round robin format that follows the melees, each of the four surviving robots have to fight against all three of the others to decide who goes into the heat final, so a robot defeated in one round will not be entertainingly attacked by the House Robots after they're immobilised. This has had the unfortunate effect of making the House Robots something of an afterthought in the battles.
      • This was then rectified in the Christmas 2016 Battle of the Stars, as the house robots are allowed a few hits on the immobilised robots once the round ends.
  • Hurricane of Puns: A lot of Craig's material was written along these lines; for example, his introduction to the second semi-final round of the 3rd Wars:
    Craig: Now, since the Wars began seventeen shows ago, machines everywhere have been having a go. One man was attacked by a vacuum cleaner, which nearly wiped the floor with him, apparently. Then another one was nearly killed by an electric razor, which they say was a really close shave. And one bloke even got into a fight with his trouser press, but I've heard they've straightened things out.
    • Series 7 featured a competitor named Ewe 2 (pronounced like U2). Jonathan Pearce had an absolute field day.
  • Incendiary Exponent: The two most common ones were fur (Diotoir, Granny's Revenge) and petrol (Reptirron, Technophobic, Sir Killalot).
  • Incoming Ham: Some of the more powerful and popular robots starting their careers in Series 2 began with some spectacular entrances during the round 1 Gauntlet.
    • Razer was one of the only robots to grip into a House Robot and push them to the Gauntlet end line.
    • Panic Attack was forced to make a spectacular jump off the see-saw and over Dead Metal after Killalot pinned down the opposite end of it to turn it into a ramp.
  • Informed Attribute: The roboteers of very average robots like to pump them up with extravagant descriptions of their weapons. 'Damaging', 'Armour-piercing', 'Destructive', 'Smashing'. Perhaps these descriptions were true in tests against weaker materials. However, against fellow robots most of the weaponry proves to be ineffective. Lampshaded by Philippa in Series 6:
    Philippa Forrester: If I had a penny for every time a bloke said to me "I've got a magnificent weapon" I would be rich by now!note 
    • Many roboteers in later seasons whose machines possessed flywheels would claim to be more destructive than Hypno-Disc. Needless to say, this wasn't reflected in the robots' performance.
  • It Only Works Once: Many defeated robots would return the following year with modifications designed to prevent them from being defeated in the same way. Hypno-Disc and Behemoth both added SRIMECHs after their Series 3 defeats, while Dominator 2 returned for Series 5 with wheelguards to prevent a repeat of its loss to Pussycat.
    • Dramatically averted with regards to the Team Chaos machines, whose four main-series defeats were all the result of being unable to self-rightnote .
  • Joke Character: Granny's Revenge (and its subsequent iteration, Granny's Revenge 2) definitely counts. It was pretty much a granny in a wheelchair holding what appeared to be a prop chainsaw. It supposedly had a pneumatic flipping leg, but this never saw use, thanks to it being burned to cinders by Sgt. Bash in a matter of moments.
    • Diotoir as well, to a lesser extent. Became a Lethal Joke Character in Series 5 after it knocked out Tornado.
  • Kayfabe: The Extreme series were more based around this, with "grudge matches" arranged that saw perfectly pleasant roboteers snarling at and trash-talking each other before and after the fights. The amateur acting wasn't convincing at all and fooled nobody, which made it somewhat Narm Charm. The show itself was designed like a professional wrestling show with a "Main Event" bout being touted and built up throughout the broadcast and a championship belt for robots to fight for. Perhaps unsurprisingly the conception and filming of the original Extreme show was during the peak of World Wrestling Entertainment's worldwide popularity.
    • At least one such battle openly parodied this. The Tornado vs Stinger Vengeance battle was originally supposed to be part of the All-Stars tournamentnote , but after it was filmed the producers decided they wanted the first round of the tournament to be as originally planned (with Tornado fighting 3 Stegs to Heaven and Stinger fighting Pussycat), but decided to broadcast the Tornado vs Stinger match anyway, rebranded as a Vengeance battle - even though the teams had never fought each other on television before and neither had any reason to seek vengeance on the other. Cue much Bad "Bad Acting" in the pre-fight VTs about how the Stinger team had wounded Tornado by branding their robot "a boring box".
    • After another Vengeance battle, in the post-match interviews with Craig the two contestants admitted that the whole thing had just been an excuse to attack the House Robots, in spite of the fact that the two robots (Bigger Brother and Comengetorix, who had fought each other in the Tag-Team Terror earlier in the series) had a legitimate reason for a grudge match:
      Craig [to Joe Watts of Bigger Brother]: They really upset you, didn't they, Joe?
      Joe: No.
      [Much laughter]
    • A rare example from the actual series was the Widow's Revenge team from Series 5. One of their team members was engaged to one of the Razer team members, and when they were drawn in the same heat as Razer, they decided to front themselves as the collective wives of the Razer team, claiming to be out for revenge on their "husbands" who were neglecting them in favour of their robot. Everyone went along with it - Razer, the production staff, everyone - and it culminated in one of the most hilarious battles in Robot Wars history, with the two teams (and Jonathan Pearce, who had a field day with his commentary) trading entirely fake insults and threats throughout.
      Jonathan Pearce: Let's be honest, Razer team, if you win... uhh... you've got no homes to go to. It's your decision.
    • In Series 8, Foxic and Dantomkia both went down the Kayfabe route, acting arrogant for the TV cameras (and testimony from fellow roboteers confirms that they really were just acting). This backfired spectacularly when a combination of Manipulative Editing and fans failing to see through the Kayfabe resulted in both teams getting flamed online, with Foxic in particular almost becoming The Scrappy.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: This is effectively what the house robots are for, heaping more pain onto already-defeated robots. Sometimes competitors will also do this, most infamously X-Terminator shredding Bulldog Breed while trying to get it out of the arena.
    • Deliberately averted by Gabriel in Series 8. Having contributed to the fiery demise of Chompalot earlier, the team didn't want to destroy a second machine, so during the following match against Beast, they hit Beast enough times to damage its drive on one side and then stopped, as they believed it was immobile and refused to damage it any further. This led to the bizarre spectacle of the Beast team asking Gabriel to keep hitting themnote  note 2 .
  • Kill It with Fire: Could be accomplished by pushing opponents onto the flame hazards, with the aim of causing them to overheat, burn out, and/or catch fire. A notable example came in the Extreme 1 All-Stars when Behemoth defeated Hypno-Disc by holding it over the flame pit until its motors burned out.
    • And of course, if a robot was made of an obviously flammable material (or covered in fur), you could be 99.9% certain that it would meet its demise in this fashionnote . The most well-known example was Diotoir, but arguably the most spectacular (and funny) was Granny's Revenge.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Faced with the prospect of having to fight Carbide and Apollo in succession in Series 9, the Crackers 'n' Smash team elected to remove their weapons entirely before the Carbide fight, so they wouldn't get irreparably destroyed. After Smash was thrown into the arena wall with enough force to smash a panel off, stopping the fight, the team then took the opportunity to forfeit the match and give Carbide the three points rather than risking further damage.
  • Lame Pun Reaction:
    • Craig Charles got a reaction from the audience with this line about Robocow's round 1 defeat in Series 3: "Robots do not have the milk of human kindness. Udder destruction."
    • He also gets this from a child roboteer after a loss. Following Crushtacean's defeat at the hands of Chaos 2 in Series 6, Craig reveals to the TV viewers that the child was kicking his father because of the driver error that ended the battle. Craig then says, "That was a bit shellfish." Cue silence from the child and mild laughter from the studio audience, prompting Craig to try again with "Don't clam up on me".
    Craig: "I don't know why I bother."
  • Large Ham: Craig Charles and Jonathan Pearce.
    • The host of the two Dutch series, Rob Kamphues, was every bit as over-the-top as Craig Charles... only, y'know, in Dutch.
    • The Sir Chromalot team as well.
    • The International Wreck Crew, of Plunderbird and Plunderstorm infamy. They were a lot better at rapping than robot building.
  • Left Stuck After Attack: Happened every so often, typically with robots getting their weapons stuck in their opponents. The House Robots were allowed to come in and free any robot that suffered this so that they could keep fighting, but occasionally it ended in a case of Hoist by His Own Petard, such as when Kan-Opener got its claws stuck in Demolition Man in its Series 6 first-round melee and was promptly torn apart by Fluffy.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: The Recyclopse/Cassius team were known for generally trying to defeat their opponents without overly damaging them, and then if the house robots tried to damage the helpless opponent, they would use that as an excuse to attack the house robots (and show no mercy).
    • Several teams throughout the series had similar "gentlemen's agreements" in place, whereby the two teams agreed not to cause too much damage to one another. This was often because one of the robots knew they were about to be curb-stomped (such as Raizer Blade v Hypnodisc in Series 4) and wanted to minimize the repair job. The brief enmity between the Razer and Pussycat teams was the result of Pussycat allegedly violating such an agreement during their battle.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • Most noticeably after Series 1, with the removal of the often downright rude Jeremy Clarkson, and the contestants no longer swearing on camera. The theme slowly drifted away from futuristic apocalypse towards straight-up competition.
    • Justified in Nickelodeon Robot Wars, the kids' version of the American import Extreme Warriors. They deactivated all flame based arena hazards (including Sgt Bash's flame thrower) and referred to Sir Killalot as Sir K.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Many of the more successful robots. Tornado, Razer and Chaos 2 come to mind.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Up to 128 robots in a single season, not counting side events. You're introduced to a minimum of 6 robots and their team members per episode.
  • Loophole Abuse: A few of the teams also competed in BattleBots, but had to come up with methods of getting around BattleBots' exclusivity clause, which would have prevented them from returning to Robot Wars afterwards. These methods ranged from simply repainting and renaming the robot (Bigger Brother/Little Sister), to building a second robot specifically for BattleBots (Razer/Warhead, Terrorhurtz/beta, Panic Attack/Scallywag), to building two near-identical robots and entering one in each tournament (Cobalt/Carbide, Chronic/Apollo).
    • 2016 entrant Gabriel is a torque-reaction axlebot, a configuration that technically shouldn't be allowed under the "moving weapons" rule. However, Gabriel's motors allow it to move the body independently of the wheels, so it can attack without using torque reaction. It therefore qualifies as having a "moving weapon" and was allowed to competenote .
  • Lovely Assistant: Arguably Philippa Forrester and Julia Reed. In the re-boot Angela Scanlan certainly covers the "lovely" criteria but is treated as more of a co-presenter with Dara O'Briain than exclusively a backstage reporter.
  • Made of Iron: While most of the competitors are literal examples, there were also quite a few robots that were known for their hardiness, with perhaps the most famous examples being Bigger Brother and Wild Thing.
  • Manipulative Editing: Fights would occasionally be edited to avoid controversy (the events in the Second Wars semi-final surrounding Mortis, as noted under Executive Meddling, only came to light after the programme had been broadcast as they were all cut out), or just to provide the most entertaining programme (Robogeddon vs. Hypno-Disc actually started out as a Curb Stomp Cushion before the destruction started).
  • Man on Fire:
    • Or rather Robot On Fire. Particularly Diotoir, with its flammable fur coating.
    • Granny's Revenge took it Up to Eleven.
    • Sir Killalot caught fire a couple of times during the early series, by virtue of being petrol-powered.
  • Metaphorically True: The Channel Five series heavily hyped the fact that for "the first time", "a cash pot of over £20,000 was on offer". Every previous series had offered cash prizes, but as they were broadcast on the license fee-funded BBC this couldn't previously be referred to, and the total of the "cash pot" was (contrary to what the phrasing implied) reached by adding up how much each roboteer was paid; the winner received £5,000 from it.
  • Mini-Game: The Trials became this in Series 3 & 4 when the decision was made to have the main tournament entirely combat-based, with a number of tournaments being played between rounds (most notably the Pinball Warrior Tournament in both series, plus Robotic Soccer in Series 3 and Sumo in Series 4.)
  • Mood Whiplash: Done intentionally with the teaser trailers for Series 8, which each featured a team gazing lovingly at their robot while cheesy romantic music played in the background, followed by a rapid-fire montage of said robot getting flipped and bashed around the arena.
  • Morton's Fork: In Series 9 Heat E, clusterbot Crackers 'n' Smash had its weapons severely damaged by Carbide during the opening melee, and by the time they got them working again, they had to fight Carbide a second time, in the head-to-head stage. If they fitted the working weapons, they'd likely be completely destroyed this time and they'd have to fight Apollo weaponless, which is against the rules; if they didn't fit them, they'd save them for the Apollo fight but they'd have to fight Carbide weaponless, which is against the rules (not to mention suicidal). They went with the latter option and removed the weapons.
  • Mutual Kill: Several times in the multi-robot battles, most notably when T.R.A.C.I.E. and Cunning Plan took each other out in the Series 1 grand final.
  • My Greatest Second Chance:
    • A number of successful robots hadn't originally qualified for that particular series. Steg-O-Saw-Us, TR2, and Pulsar all made the Grand Final despite only being reserve entrants that had taken the places of other robots.
      • Typhoon 2 took this a step further in Series 7. It lost its qualifying battle but was admitted as a "lucky loser", and went on to win the whole series.
    • The "Losers' Melees" in Series 5 and 6 gave robots defeated in the first semi-final round a second chance at reaching Round 2. Of the four Losers' Melee winners, only one - Firestorm in Series 5 - took advantage of its second chance and reached the Grand Final, whereupon it defeated Hypno-Disc (the bot that had knocked it out in the first place) to place third.
    • The league format in the rebooted series was built around this trope. The four heat semi-finalists would each fight each other once, earning three points for a knockout and two for a win via judges' decision, and the two highest-scoring robots would go through to the heat final. This means if a bot falls foul of technical glitches or the arena hazards, it has two more fights in which to make up points (as Carbide did in Heat A). It also means that the two heat finalists will have fought each other at least once before in the heat, giving the loser the chance to redeem themselves and claim victory the second time around (which Shockwave proceeded to do in Heat B).
      • It's not uncommon for a robot to take terminal damage during the league stage and have to withdraw, at which point the third-placed bot from its opening melee will be reinstated to take its place. Pulsar in Series 8, and Jellyfish and Wyrm in Series 9 were all reinstated in this manner, with the former going on to win the heat - that's right, Pulsar benefitted from this trope twice over.
      • The Ten Robot Rumble from Series 10 is a prime example. While the winner of the five heats would automatically enter the Grand Final, two robots from each heat (the Heat runner-up and winner of a play-off match) would be entered into a free-for-all for a Wildcard place. The winner of this battle, Eruption, would then go on to become the champion.

  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • Most notably the house robots: Sir Killalot, Dead Metal, Mr. Psycho, Shunt. Mind you, Killalot was slow enough that "really fast" wasn't all that relevant.
    • Also subverted. Many of the most dangerous robots on the show either had fairly functional names (Hypno-Disc, Razer) or aggressive, but not over-the-top ones (Chaos). Meanwhile, many of the competitors whose names did fit the trope (Psychokiller, Devastator, The Demolisher...) lacked the fighting ability to live up to them, and would sometimes have their over-the-top names mocked by Jonathan Pearce upon defeat.
      Jonathan Pearce: [mocking one such competitor] "Indefatigable"? Haha... yeah. "Invincible"? Yeah. "Invisible", more like. [as Sgt. Bash sets the toppled machine on fire] "Inflammable"? Hardly.
  • Nice Hat: The captain of S3 sported a nice trilby hat, and a team member from The Stag donned a very nice hat with lights and moving parts! Also contributed to the popularity and Crazy Awesome aura of the Nuts team come Series 8.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Prior to its Series 5 battle against Spawn Again, the team captain of Evolution put a brick inside the robot's rotating turret weapon, to try and give it some extra force. What actually happened was that the extra weight made the turret too heavy, Evolution was stuck spinning on the spot, and Spawn Again promptly threw it out of the arena in twenty seconds flat.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Whenever roboteers have donated spare parts to a struggling fellow competitor, only to find that that their next opponent is the very same robot they just aided. A particularly unfortunate case is Vulture of Series 10, who had to fight Track-tion after lending them a front wedge, prompting Dara to name-drop the trope. The unfortunate part is that Vulture's internals packed in just before the fight, forcing them to forfeit.
  • Non-Gameplay Elimination: The best remembered example is Pussycat's disqualification from Series 3 for using an illegal weapon. Notably, several robots failed to make it into the arena.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The majority of the first two series were taken up with the Gauntlet and Trials before they got to the actual fighting.
    • The Grudge Matches special at the end of the second series only featured two actual Grudge Matches. The remainder were various exhibition battles (such as a melee between robots that hadn't qualified for the main series), including one obvious joke match that was just being done for laughs (Sgt Bash vs Nemesisnote  and a sacrificial flammable robot).
    • Series 3 featured a one-time contestant named Flipper that was armed with - you guessed it! - an axe. It was supposedly able to work as a flipping arm as well, but they were defeated in their first match by Ultor and never got the chance to use it. note 
  • Numbered Sequels:
    • Some of the follow up robots' names (e.g. Chaos was followed by Chaos 2).
    • Got somewhat ridiculous with Firestorm who changed its number yearly and was up to 5 by Series 7. It was generally just referred to as Firestorm though.
    • The series/seasons themselves. The First Wars, The Second Wars, all the way up to the Seventh Wars.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: For Series 10, the show has announced that certain types of entanglement weapons will be permitted, a first for robot combat events. This is almost certainly due to the dominance of spinners in Series 9, to the extent that of the ten heat finalists, only three - Cherub, Thor, and Apollo - did not have some kind of spinning weapon.
  • Oddly Named Sequel:
    • Again, the names of some follow-up robots (e.g. Scutter's Revenge was followed by Spawn of Scutter and then by Spawn Again).
    • Barber-ous was followed by Barber-ous 2, then "Barber-ous 2 and a Bit".
    • After Judge Shred came Judge Shred 2, then Judge Shred 2 1/2.
  • Off-Model: The comic strip in the first incarnation of the official magazine tended to depict robots in this way, such as its depictions of Behemoth and Wild Thing here.
  • Off the Rails: Any non-competition match or event was capable of turning into this at a moment's notice (such as this bout in the Series 7 All-Stars tournament).
    • One of the most memorable examples was the "Flipper Frenzy" battle in the first Robot Wars Extreme. It was meant to be a titanic tussle between the four most feared flippers in the wars (Bigger Brother, Chaos 2, Thermidor 2 and Wheely Big Cheese). Instead, the four competitors made a pact to try and throw one of the house robots out of the arena. They failed, and all but Thermidor were knocked out in the process, but by god it was glorious.
    • The Tag Team Terror side event was meant to be a series of tag-team matches between teams of two robots, with one from each team fighting while the other waited in a CPZ to be tagged out by their teammate. Unsurprisingly, these matches tended to degenerate into 2-on-2 melees (or even free-for-alls) in short order.
    • Downplayed/subverted with the 10-Robot Rumble in Series 10. Originally, the competitors had all agreed to gang up on Sir Killalot in an attempt to take him out, but when the battle actually started, only Terrorhurtz and Thor actually went through with it. Their attacks were apparently insignificant enough to not be shown, although Sir K's retaliation - picking up Terrorhurtz by its axe shaft and trying to hoist it over the arena wall - was shown.
  • Off with His Head!: Any competing robots with heads are bound to be decapitated by Shunt. Season 4 saw Major Tom's head being smashed to pieces by Shunt, and poor Banshee was decapitated as well, with Shunt attaching her head to his axe, setting it on fire, and parading it around the arena.
  • Oh, Crap!: During the Series 4 semi-finals, the look on Isabelle Adams' (Wild Thing) face upon hearing who their next opponent would be: Hypno-Disc.
    • Generally, any contestant whose next opponent was Chaos 2, Hypno-Disc, or Razer was liable to have this sort of reaction.
    • More recently opponents of Carbide tend to have this reaction, to a much lesser, cooler degree.
  • One-Hit Kill:
    • In the early days, tipping a robot over via a wedge or lifting arm was generally this, as most robots weren't invertible or couldn't self-right. Roadblock won Series 1 and reached the Grand Final of Series 2 in this manner. The hated arena spikes could accomplish the same thing.
      • Flippers took this one step further. If you couldn't self-right, a single flip would knock you out. If you could self-right, a powerful enough flipper could still knock you out in one flip by simply throwing you out of the arena. This became pretty much the de facto tactic for all flipping machines starting with about Series 6.
    • There are plenty of examples of this throughout the Wars. In the first round of Series 3 alone, Firestorm beat Crasha Gnasha simply by ramming it once, Trident stopped Twn Twrn with a single axe blow, and Sumpthing managed to pull this on itself, as the first swing of its axe caused it to break down.
    • In Series 9, Crank-E, TMHWK, Tauron, Expulsion, High 5, and Crushtacean were all immobilized in one hit.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted on a few occasions:
    • There were two separate robots named "Spin Doctor". The first fought in Series 2 and was notable for breaking off one of Matilda's tusks during its Trial run; the second fought in Series 6 and 7 and did nothing of note whatsoever.
    • There were two unrelated bots named "Saw Point". The first fought in Series 4, and the second in Extreme 2 and Series 7 (confusingly under the name "Sawpoint 2"). Neither did particularly well.
    • On the human side of things, there was a frankly bizarre number of roboteers entering the wars with the surname "Pritchard". Most famously there were the brothers Anthony and Michael Pritchard, who created Behemoth with their dad Edward (and were later joined by their mother Liz), but there was also Marlon Pritchard of X-Terminator, Ian, Judy and Graham Pritchard of ICU, Ian Pritchard from S3 and Kevin Pritchard from Panic Attack's team in Series 2 and 7 (and also the Evil Weevil team). None of the teams were related to each other (except the ICU team, composed of family members of X-Terminator's Marlon Pritchard and using a repainted version of the Series 3 X-Terminator), but the name was more common than Smith!
    • Enforced in Series 6 with the robot "Spam"; they'd originally wanted to call it "Can Opener", but changed it when they discovered there was already a robot called "Kan-Opener".
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Sumpthing team captain Richard Dig was only ever referred to as Mr Dig or just Dignote .
  • Opening Narration: In the first 4 series (and the first episode of the 5th) this acted as a ''Last time on Robot Wars...'' sequence, but in Series 6 and 7 this acted as a preview of the upcoming episode (which did of course lead to spoilers, but this decreased somewhat in Series 7).
  • Origins Episode: The first incarnation of the official magazine had a comic strip that acted as this for each of the house robots. (With the show's shift to Lighter and Softer the comic was subsequently changed to "fantasy fights".)
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: War Hog was originally called "Tazzz", and painted to look like the cartoon character. However, either this caused some legal problem or the producers were worried it would, as prior to appearing on television it was renamed and repainted to add tusks and camouflage make-up.
  • Out of Order: Heats B and D of the Second Wars were swapped round when broadcast. This became obvious when the heat winners were introduced in the semi-finals in heat order: Mace (winner of the broadcast Heat B) came out fourth, and Behemoth (the winner of the broadcast Heat D) came out second.
    • The episodes themselves are also filmed out of order; it's not uncommon for robots from a completely different episode to appear in the background, lining up for their fight. Justified due to the long time needed to make necessary repairs to robots versus the short timeframe for filming.
  • Overly Long Name: Lampshaded by Craig Charles once. At the end of each battle, he liked to shout out the result; one fight featured a robot called "Cataclysmic Variabot", and when he managed to say it without tripping up he added, "Thanks for that!"
    • Another example was Fourth Wars entrant "Arnold, Arnold Terminegger". They shortened it slightly to "Arnold A. Terminegger" for Extreme 1.
  • Pinball Zone: The Pinball trial in the Series 2 semi-finals, which was retained as a sideshow tournament in Series 3 and 4.
  • Piss Take Rap: The Plunderbird team's intro in the first three seasons.
    We are the crew and we're here to tell you - we're gonna bash them, we're gonna trash them. In the wars you know we're gonna thrash them. The forecast's bad. You better get running. It's gonna be tough. There's a Plunderstorm coming!
  • Plucky Comic Relief: The teams of Diotoir, Plunderbird, and Sir Chromalot played this role.
    • Team Nuts in the first episode of Series 8 took this role and ran with it, spending most of their screentime cracking jokes and generally goofing around. In Series 9 they were joined in this role by Team Jellyfish (a spin-off of Team Nuts, driven by an ex-participant on Total Wipeout, who was part of the Nuts team a year earlier, and his wife, who also partook on Total Wipeout) and Team Memento Mori (builders of Overdozer and Wyrm).
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: "Oh, she's up to speed now, boy!" - PP3D's driver shortly before delivering the mother of all blows right into Cherub's face. The team has already started selling shirts with the line printed on it.
  • Prestigious Player Title: The show called its contestants "Roboteers".
  • Punny Name: For example, Axe-C-Dent.
    • 3 Stegs to Heaven (after Steg-O-Saw-Us and Steg 2).
    • Wheely Big Cheese.
    • Iron Awe.
    • There's a complete list on the wiki. Let's just say that roboteers are a punny bunch.
  • Put on a Bus: Newer house robots Mr. Psycho, Cassius Chrome and Growler did not return for the rebooted series 8 (nor were they mentioned), but perhaps more surprisingly Sgt. Bash, one of the original four house robots, did not return alongside its fellow originals. In March 2017 an online petition was started to bring Bash back including new designs to make Bash more dangerous.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: A few of them. The most notable is Bigger Brother's famous victory over Hypno-Disc in the Series 5 Grand Final eliminator. Sure, it was one of the greatest Crowning Moments of Awesome in the entire series, but the damage they received meant that they didn't have a hope in hell of beating Razer (they at least took it to a judges' decision, but it wasn't a particularly close one).
    • Hypno-Disc itself was on the "victory" end of a Pyrrhic Victory in Series 3, when it beat Steg-O-Saw-Us in the Grand Final eliminator. It took them so many hits to knock Steg-O-Saw-Us out that the recoil started damaging the machine's internals, and by the end of the match the disc mechanism has pretty much shredded itself. The team managed to get Hypno-Disc running in time for the final against Chaos 2, but it clearly wasn't working to its full potential and Chaos 2 took full advantage.
    • Not so much a "victory", per se, but in Series 9 Heat D, underdogs Frostbite surprisingly made the round-robin stage after High-5 and Wyrm broke down during its opening melee - Frostbite had lost drive on one side after a heavy blow from Supernova, but was still mobile. In its first round-robin battle it was pitted against Supernova again and was completely obliterated, leaving the team with no chance of repairing it and forcing them to withdraw.
  • Ramming Always Works: Played straight to a surprising degree. "Rambots", as they were called, were often highly effective even in later series: half the Grand Finalists in Series 1note  and Series 7note  had this as their primary tactic. Tornado won Series 6 (and Storm II almost won Series 7) in this manner.
    • There is, however, a distinction to be observed between "rambots" like Tornado and Storm 2 and "shovebots" like Robot the Bruce and Scutter's Revenge. Rambots aim to inflict damage by violently bashing into opponents and slamming them against the walls until they broke down, and were often armed with spikes or blades to add extra damage. Shovebots were slower and more methodical, aiming to use mechanical muscle to control the fight, pushing the opponent around and into hazards like the House Robots and the Pit of Oblivion, and they often fitted scoops for this purpose.
  • Rage Quit: A unique example that was more "righteous anger" than "rage", but famous and highly regarded roboteer Rex Garrod (inventor of Series 1 finalist Recyclopse and Series 2 finalist Cassius) resigned from Robot Wars after the 3rd series in protest of what he saw as the incompetent and inadequate safety standards of the show, enforcing petty and trivial rules while being lax enough with serious hazards to enable actual injuries to happen.
    Rex Garrod: For one accident to occur is bad, but for two of the exact same fault to occur in my book is nothing short of criminal. I have no intention of returning to Robot Wars until I'm satisfied that safety is up to the standards I am used to in my profession (Special effects for T.V, Films & Advertising). After these almighty cock-ups things have taken a giant step forward, but from information received by many of the last wars contestants, it still has a long way to go. And self-important people still rule, both in safety and common courtesy.
  • Redshirt: There weren't enough entries to the first series, so the numbers were made up by stock robots supplied by the production team. Said robots weren't allowed to reach the arena stage and so had to be disposed of in the trials.
    • The last of these robots, Eubank the Mouse, attained Mauve Shirt status by coming first in the Gauntlet and going on to pass the Trial only to abruptly "break down". Another, WYSIWYG, was eliminated in its trial despite Dreadnaut having broken down.
  • Retired Gameshow Element: The initial setup involved the Gauntlet and a different Trial in every show where the worst performing robot was eliminated before the arena stages began. Series 3 & 4 saw the main competition become entirely combat-based, but some of the more interesting trials were retained as sideshows (alongside other events such as Walker and Lightweight battles). Starting with Extreme the show was entirely combat-based.
    • Of the trials themselves, the Labyrinth, Snooker, Stock Car (which was only designed for lightweight and featherweight robots) and British Bulldog would only ever be played once each, in Series 1. Football and Sumo were retained for Series 2, as well as several other trials exclusive to that series: Joust, King of the Castle, Skittles, and Tug of War (which later became a Techno Games event). Pinball was a special trial for the semi-finals and was retained as a sideshow for Series 3 & 4. Football and Sumo also managed to survive in this manner for the Third and Fourth Wars respectively.note 
  • Retool:
    • The third series removed the Gauntlet and Trial, retaining some of the Trials as sideshows between rounds of the main competition in addition to various exhibition battles. It also phased out the conceit that the show was taking place in a post-apocalyptic world, as it was seen as patronising and preventing the show from being taken seriously as an actual sport.
    • The fourth series strove to cut down on the number of boring round 1 fights (as well as the problem of sub-par robots fluking their way into the semi-finals because they were in heats where the entire field was unremarkable) by changing the format of the first round from four one-on-one fights to two three-way melees, and introducing a seeding system that ensured each round 1 battle would have at least one veteran competitor.
    • The tenth series drastically changed the format from the first two reboot series; rather than two opening four-way melees from which two robots qualified, there would be two three-way melees from which only one would qualify, whilst all four eliminated robots would have another chance to qualify for the second round by fighting each other (which effectively replaced the round-robin format of the second round). The two robots knocked out in the second round would also fight each other to determine the heat's third and fourth place; rather than having the judges select a wildcard from the five losing heat finalists, the sixth grand finalist would be chosen by having all the second and third placed robots from each heat fight each other in a ten-way melee.
  • Revolving Door Band: UFO entered into two different wars, and had a completely different team each time. (Both robots were also completely different designs, having only the name and logo in common.)
  • Ring Out: First accomplished by Chaos 2 in the Series 3 final against Firestorm, as the only way of getting around an opponent with a srimech; in Series 4, the ringside area was redesigned in expectation of this happening much, much more.
    • By contrast, the arena for the reboot series looks to have been designed deliberately to avoid these- while there are still open gaps near the four cardinal points to make it possible with sufficiently good driving, most of the arena wall is topped by an extended plexiglass shield which increases its height by several feet until it's almost as tall as a man. Only the most incredible flipper bots would be able to throw a robot that highnote !
      • Matilda got the first Ring Out of the reboot with some help from Dantomkia, the victim being King B Remix. As mentioned above, the wall is much lower in parts, no higher than they were in the old show. The pit release area is one such spot.
  • Rule of Cool: Zigzagged. While there was a fair bit of this going on (it is, after all, a show about robots fighting each other), some of the best robots were the ones that struck a balance between "cool" and "practical".
  • Running Gag:
    • Virtually everything Diotoir has done would become one.
      • Diotoir catching on fire. It reached the point where they began putting food (and presenters began making requests) on it.
      • Diotoir's fur appearing in completely random and unexpected places. It's not uncommon for some random robot to have some of Diotoir's fur attached to their antenna or elsewhere on the robot or on the roboteer.
      • Jonathan Pearce or the pit reporter would frequently wonder aloud how on Earth the team had managed to get hold of so much polka-dot fur, especially when Diotoir caught fire in its previous battle yet reappears again and again looking as good as new.
      • The team frequently engaged in (harmless) pranks post-Series 4.
      • Off the screens, it's not uncommon for a random roboteer's (such as Hypno-Disc) website to highlight how the Diotoir team's expertise helped with the repairs of their robot.
    • Iron Awe getting flipped out of the arena (Axe Awe by Wheely Big Cheese in Series 5; Iron Awe 2 by Chaos 2 in Series 6 and Dantomkia in Extreme 2).
      • This became Running Gagged in the last series, when it was highly fancied to go the same way against Bigger Brother in its heat, only to pull off one of the biggest upsets in history by flipping Bigger Brother out itself. It stayed in the arena, only to be torn to pieces by Typhoon 2.
  • Serial Escalation: Series 1 had 33 competitors (+3 stock robots) spread across 6 heats. Series 2 had 72 competitors, 12 heats and a few side competitions. Series 3 had 128 robots, 16 heats and many side competitions.
    • Subverted with subsequent series though as the competitor amount was kept steady at 96 and with 12 heats. The side competitions where also either removed or moved to the Extreme spin-off.
    • Also averted by Series 8, which had just 40 competitors. To some disappointment, Series 9 not increase this number. To even further disappointment, Series 10 has reduced this number to only 30.
  • Single-Stroke Battle:
    • More than a few battles were decided with only a single attack. Perhaps the most spectacular example was Wheely Big Cheese's fight against Axe Awe in Series 5: Axe Awe got in a single blow on Wheely Big Cheese that did nothing, and five seconds later, Wheely Big Cheese got in a single flip that threw Axe Awe over the arena wall from fifteen feet away.
    • Then, of course, there was the battle between fellow flippers Gravity and Dantomkia in Series 7, which was all over in a single flip and six seconds.
    • The second Battle For The Stars celebrity special had another pretty spectacular one: Jordan Stephens' thwackbot Dee drove straight at Kadeena Machinanote  and was duly punted ten feet into the air and halfway across the arena by the latter's vertical spinner, losing one of its wheels in the process.
  • Sir Verba Lot: Sir Killalot the house robot.
    • Sir Chromalot... who has a lot of chrome.
    • Sir Force A Lot in the US series.
  • Situational Sword: Flippers. Against some robots they could cause a One-Hit KO. However the number of such robots dwindled over the years, with most robots either being impossible to flip over or having self-righting mechanisms, making flippers much less useful barring the incredibly powerful ones like Chaos 2's, which were able to cause an outright Ring Out. That being said, most self-righting robots were flippers and all flippers required CO2 for their weapons to work. No CO2 = dead in the water, as bots like Bigger Brother found out against Firestorm. Most self-righting mechanisms either worked sporadically or didn't work at all, still allowing flippers to defeat them.
    • Ground clearance worked a bit like this as well. A ground clearance of even just a centimetre was enough (especially in later series) for wedge robots to get in underneath you and flip you. However, in the first two series, you needed some kind of ground clearance in order to be able to clear the Gauntlet (as Vector of Armageddon proved), and even in later series, a zero ground clearance was risky because your armour could then snag on the arena floor, hindering your movement or even immobilizing you entirelynote . Some robots (like Cassius 2) got around these problems by using an adjustable suspension system, but most teams didn't have the time, money, or spare weight to implement such a system.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Team Rapid, who declared their robot had 'Fifteen times the power of any flipper seen previously'. While Rapid was certainly no slouch, it cost a truly exorbitant amount of money to build (£25,000!note ), had an impractically high ground clearance for a flipper, and was so hopelessley overengineered that when damage was sustained in the gearbox the team couldn't even hope to fix it in time, leading to their prompt retirement from the competition.
  • So Last Season: A surprising number of robots from the original series have returned over a decade later for the 2016 reboot with more-or-less the same design as they had the last time they were seen. Although some of them did quite well, there were plenty of early exits and ultimately none of them made it beyond the heat final. Perhaps the best example involved former British and World champions Razer who were involved in the very first match of the first heat of the reboot, they were quickly ganged up on and dumped in the pit and did not return for Series 9.
  • Sore Loser: Almost completely averted- thanks to British stoicism you can count the number of times that someone made a big fuss after losing in ten series on the fingers of a single hand (and even then they were mostly pretty mild cases). Pretty much every team would admit to being no more than, at worst, "disappointed" when they lost and they would always shake their opponents by the hand. No hissy fits here.
    • In Series 1, Mortis weren't happy that the judges gave the heat final to Recyclopse over them and the episode ended with Jeremy Clarkson announcing that the team wished to register a protest. A formal protest was not actually registered, however, so this was possibly just Kayfabe; however, Mortis were genuinely upset by the result.
    • In Series 3, Daisy Chopper were defeated by Griffon by a judges' decision and formally requested a recount. The judges did reconsider but ruled in Griffon's favour again, albeit closer this time (a split decision).
    • Ian Lewis of Razer threw a temper tantrum when Pussycat ripped up his robot in the Series 4 heat final, considering them to have violated the "gentleman's agreement" not to cause unnecessary damage to an immobilised opponent- after the battle he refused to attend the interview, instead rushing off to check on Razer, and at the end of the episode there was a clip of him ranting to the camera about how unsporting it was of Pussycat to rip into Razer like that. Averted by his teammates, though, who went up cheerfully for the interview and congratulated Pussycat for a battle well-fought. This was probably the most notable instance of poor sportsmanship in the history of the show.
      • Lewis topped himself in Extreme 2 when Vincent Blood and Simon Scott voted to concede to Tornado over his objections, insisting that nobody should argue with the judges (who had ruled in his favour) and rudely telling Vincent Blood that his vote didn't count because he hadn't helped build Razer (he joined the team in Series 3). This fortunately happened off-camera, but it resulted in the team splitting up and Razer retiring from the show.
    • In Series 6, Corkscrew was eliminated when it was deflected off Kronic 2 and onto the pit just as it started to descend, taking Corkscrew down with it. After the battle, captain John Heatlie protested that the pit had opened without the release button being hit, requesting to see the tapes of the battle. After he was shown the relevant footage of Kronic 2 hitting the button, he apologised and accepted the result with good grace (although it must be noted that Kronic 2 had hit the button thirty seconds before the pit started to open under Corkscrew, so he probably had a point).
    • Anthony Pritchard of Behemoth was interpreted as this when he stormed off after their shock defeat to Cherub's family team, which went viral. In reality, he stormed off because he was angry at his teammates for selecting a weapon attachment that didn't work and cost Behemoth the win.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: When Sir Killalot joined the show he dwarfed the other House Robots and rather upstaged them.
  • Spectacular Spinning: In general, spinners are known for scattering more bits of metal across the arena than any other weapon type. Of course, Sturgeon's Law applies to spinners as much as anything else, but when a spinning weapon works, it works.
    • Hypno-Disc is perhaps the most fondly-remembered example, and the codifier for heavy spinning weapons of all sorts. The team's motto was "Spin to win".
    • Disappointingly averted with Gyrobot, which had some genius design elements, but sadly didn't make it far.
    • Zig-Zagged with 13 Black, for whom spinning rarely works at all. As a last resort, 13 Black would spin its whole body round and round, in hopes that the other robot was dumb enough to bump into it. It's a destructive tactic, but Craig Charles rightly called them chicken. However, when facing off against Chaos 2 and Razer at the same time, it was able to nearly destroy Chaos 2, and caused enough damage to Razer to make it start smoking.
    • And of course, Typhoon 2, who went on to win Series 7 thanks to its "gyroscopic speed".
    • Slicer in the Dutch series with its giant drum, and vertical spinner Pulverizer, ensured both Dutch winners were rotating weapons.
    • The Revolutionist in the US Series, a full body spinner covered with the US flag which was the runner-up of the first series. Remarkably, it lost its heat final in the second series to the machine Propeller Head (which had a spinning overhead bar, hence its name), in spite of having ripped off the spinning bar: it was pushed down the pit.
    • Series 6 added the "disc of doom", a round disc set into the floor that could be activated by a bumper similar to the pit release that would cause it to spin, supposedly to pose a driving hazard to the robots. Results were... less than spectacular.
    • The rebooted show is overflowing with spinners, with engineering advancing to the stage that they're simply the best weapons available. Carbide is the most prominent example, being the runner-up in Series 8 and, after receiving some upgrades, absolutely murdering everything to win Series 9 without even breaking a sweat.
  • Spiked Wheels: Attempted by a few bots, but wholly impractical because the opponents rarely ended up side-to-side.
  • Spoiler Opening: At least in Series 6. Series 8 appeared to feature one, showing robots from different heats battling each other (such as Gabriel and Behemoth) but these turned out to have been from the exhibition matches rather than the main tournament.
  • Standard Snippet: From Extreme onwards, the competitors would enter the arena to a rock remix of "Mars" from Gustav Holst's Planets suite.
  • Stealth Pun: During House Robot introductions before a fight, sometimes Sir Killalot would turn from side to side, alternately raising and lowering his claw and lance arms in different directions. That's right, he was dancing The Robot.
  • The Stinger: No, not the Series 4 grand finalist.
    • Series 2 had one at the end of every episode, where the heat winner would pit the disabled robot, but if it was already pitted, the team would get up to shenanigans either on or off the arena.
    • At the end of Series 3, Heat D, Ultor approached the Big Brother team and explained that they felt the judges' decision was wrong, and that they were giving the win and their place in the semi-final to Big Brother.
    • The end of Series 4, Heat B featured an extended rant by Ian Lewis of Team Razer after their robot was severely damaged from their heat final loss to Pussycat. He stated that virtually every roboteer works under an assumed gentleman's agreement not to do too much unnecessary damage to recurring competitorsnote , noting how Razer had immobilised Milly Ann Bug by only removing the wheels, since their team had installed expensive equipment inside their robots' domes which they would have to pay to replace before their assumed return in Series 5.
  • Stock Footage: The show would use it from time to time, usually when showing the two House Robots that had been selected for each battle from Series 5 on.
    • Stock Footage Failure: This happened occasionally, particularly with one bit of footage they repeatedly used to accompany the "3... 2... 1... Activate!" countdown at the start of every battle, which showed three kids in the audience holding up large signs with "3", "2" and "1" on them. What made this so obviously noticeable was that the kid with the "1" sign was holding it sideways.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: In Series 9, pressing the Pit Release Button - now officially designated the Arena Tyre - had an equal chance of either opening the Pit of Oblivion or triggering a Rogue House Robot, letting a House Robot come out of their CPZ and attack the competition for 10 seconds.
  • Take That!: Against RoboCop in Series 3 Heat O:
    It's the show that Robocop deplores,
    'Cause we're good after three sequels of Robot Wars.
    Forget imitations from foreign shores,
    We're the first, we're the best, we're Robot Wars!
  • Tank Goodness: Series 5 competitor Evolution was a large model tank, armoured in mostly MDF. The turret had two sharp blades on the end and span around at high speed to damage opponents. An earlier competitor, Terminal Ferocity, was built to resemble an artillery turret.
  • Technician vs. Performer: In both robots and their teams. Obviously, all of the robots take Technician skill to design and drive, but some teams are geared more to precision, while others favour dramatic battles and crowd-pleasing performances.
    • The Apollo and Carbide teams in Season 8 and 9 are interesting, as the Performer team drives the Technician robot, and vice versa. The Apollo team ham up to the camera, playing on their status as "the boy band of robot wars," while the Carbide team are more sedate and focused on the robot. However, Apollo itself can only make a certain number of flips thanks to its sheer power, and therefore the team has to steer accurately and time their attacks, while Carbide simply whirs around the arena murdering everything in sight, much to the delight of the crowd.
    • In general, the tried-and-tested designs (such as flippers) are Technicians, while the more off-the-wall designs are Performers. The Technicians usually win, but it'd be a dull show without the more outlandish designs — and it's a glorious day when a seemingly bizarre robot gets the upper hand and goes through.
    • Spinners are usually performers, especially the ones that inflict nightmarish amounts of damage. Hypno-Disc was a firm fan favourite for this reason, and Carbide has assumed the mantle since.
  • Tempting Fate: Hypno-Disc's infamous battle against Splinter in Series 4 had a hilarious example courtesy of commentator Jonathan Pearce, after the underdog Splinter appeared to be gaining the upper hand:
    Jonathan: Could this be one of the biggest shocks ever in Robot Wars? If they [Splinter] keep attacking on a frontal collision with that spinning disc [using their front scoop to deflect the disc away], they'll protect their more vulnerable sides, of course! And maybe, who knows- [Hypno-Disc smashes the scoop clean off] -OH NO THEY WON'T!
    • Hypno-Disc's Series 5 battle with Atomic proceeded in much the same manner:
      Jonathan: Atomic, here, doing very well- [Atomic's flipping scoop is torn straight off] -UNTIL THAT MOMENT!
    • During Dundee's only battle, against Cassius in Series 3, Jonathan Pearce remarked that it was doing better than the team's previous robot Loco (which had coincidentally been knocked out by Cassius in Series 2). No sooner had Pearce said this than Cassius proceeded to flip Dundee over, eliminating it.
    • Lampshaded by George Francis after the infamous "Flipper Frenzy" fight in Extreme 1, in which Chaos 2, Bigger Brother, Thermidor 2 and Wheely Big Cheese spent the entire fight attacking the house robots rather than each other. When Craig Charles called them out on it, George explained that they'd all wanted the honour of being the first to flip a house robot out of the arena and that when you put that many flippers into the arena at once, what else do you expect to happen?
    • Double subverted with Backstabber, a robot deemed by its team to be "Razer-proof". While Razer did indeed have trouble sinking its claw into Backstabber due to its awkward shape, there was nothing stopping it from shoving Backstabber down the pit instead.
    • Series 10 had Craig Danby do it twice in an episode. As part of the team for Apex, a small robot with a bar spinner weapon larger than the robot, he noted that as an untested design it would either win everything or the team would go out "in a blaze of glory" and later said in an interview section shown before their Robot Redemption fight that he would be gutted if Apex got destroyed after all the time they had sunk into it. Then came the Robot Redemption fight against Track-tion, and the incident that Apex is known for - a hit from Track-tion unbalanced the large spinning bar and sent both the bar and Apex's main body shooting off across the arena in two different directions after a spectacular self-destruction.
  • 13 Is Unlucky: 13 Black had two huge spinning discs for massive destructive potential, and yet it rarely lived up to its capabilities. Their motto was "unlucky for some..." As Craig Charles said, it only lasted about 13 seconds in Series 5 (it actually lasted longer, but was easily beaten on a judges' decision in a colourless battle) — although in Series 6 it reached the Semi-Finals, and managed to take out Chaos 2 and Dominator 2 in the All-Stars Tournament.
    • Lampshaded by the Gravedigger team, who were seeded 13th in Series 4 and promptly crashed out in Round 1 as their flipper arm wasn't working.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The reaction of roboteer Luke Jackman (of Spawn Again) when he's informed by Philippa Forrester that their next opponent is Terrorhurtz while he's attempting to fix an unspecified major problem with the robot.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: The large number of non-returning semi-finalists in the Seventh Wars combined with the increase in number of heats allowed for several long-standing but often overlooked robots to be seeded.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Killerhurtz becoming Terrorhurtz during Series 5. Atomic's new design in Series 7. The reason why nobody remembers the original Chaos.
      • Terrorhurtz was a double-subversion; in its first series it failed to do any better than Killerhurtz despite the look, won only one battle (and that was because a house robot interfered) and only in the Sixth Wars did it really get going.
    • House Robot Matilda in Extreme 1/Series 5, after its flimsy chainsaw was replaced with a gigantic vertical flywheel that would flip contestant robots clean into the air upon striking them.
    • Sting 1 and 2 were very average robots with no weapons or success whatsoever. Then the team entered S3 (considered to be Sting 3) two series later, which was a completely different design. The spinning blade and unique shape ensured this entry only lost in the second round of the semis when they entered the main competition.
    • X-Terminator in the Seventh Wars; after a massive redesign that involved replacing the often ineffectual axe with a flywheel, it went on to finish 4th, and also managed a Ring Out without a dedicated lifting weapon, one of the few robots to perform such a feat.
    • The arena will be taking one in the 2016 reboot, which the announcement that the floor will be made of 6mm steel rather than the old wooden boards. Just as well, since the weight allowance has been increased to 110kg, meaning the contestants will be deadlier than ever. And even then, it wasn't quite enough, as spinners had become deadly enough to tear up the floorboards and smash wall panels clean off.
    • According to the producers, the four returning House Robots (Matilda, Dead Metal, Shunt and Sir Killalot) are being upgraded to modern-day roboteering standards. Prepare for terror.
    • Nuts. Good Lord, Nuts. In Series 8 it squeaked through the melee when Razer got dragged down the pit by Kill-E-Crank-E, got brutally torn to pieces by Carbide, and basically couldn't do anything to any of the other robots in the round robin (although it did hold Terrorhurtz to only winning by a Judges' Decision, causing them to miss out on the heat final). In Series 9 they didn't even accomplish that much, as its speed controllers broke down in the opening melee and it got ejected from the arena by Matilda without doing anything. But in Series 10, it became one of the top contenders for the title after its seemingly useless flail weaponry proved capable of consistently hitting opponents in unarmored locations. It started off by beating up both of its opponents in the three-way opening melee, including a Grand Finalist from last series, then it knocked out each of them again in later rounds, destroying Concussion's wheels and tearing open Androne 4000's hydraulic system. This put Nuts in the grand final, where it was drawn against Behemoth and Carbide, the robot that demolished it in Series 8. It proceeded to almost immediately eliminate Behemoth by pressing the pit release with a minibot right as Behemoth bounced onto it, and broke Carbide's weapon chain on the first hit, leaving Carbide unable to attack and winning by Judges' Decision. Carbide eventually beat it the second time, but only by welding on a piece of another defeated opponent to protect its chain - Nuts repeatedly got direct hits on the chain guard, and would have most likely broken the chain again if it hadn't been there. From Joke Character to Lethal Joke Character within the space of a single series.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Almost everyone in the first Robot Wars Extreme. Only the most polite teams ever said anything sportsmanlike about or to their opponents, and this was usually done in the aftermath of a fight.
  • Too Powerful to Live: Chaos 2 flipped its way to become Champion in Series 3 and 4 with often minimal damage and effort, and came close to repeating the feat in Series 5. This trope was invoked in one of the Series 4 Annihilators when in the very first round, every single other robot united to take it out before anyone else; Badass Decay set in later in Series 6 and the Extreme II All Stars.
    • The same thing happened to Hypno-Disc in its Annihilator: nobody else so much as touched each other until the deadly spinner was dispatched.
    • A few robots were so powerful that they weren't allowed to fight, for safety reasons. These included Mauler, the Series 7 version of Sabretooth, and during the show's hiatus, pretty much any robot with a spinning weapon.
    • Apex ended up being literally too powerful for its own good, as a single solid hit on Track-tion caused Apex's humongous spinning bar to dislocate itself from its housing and helicopter through the arena wall.
  • Trash the Set: Became increasingly common in the later series due to the sheer power of the robots' weapons. Ring Outs would often break studio lights or cameras, and Gravity once broke the arena wall by flipping Hydra onto it. In the rebooted series, both PP3D and Carbide have broken panels off the arena wall by knocking opponents into it with their spinning weapons.
    • In the final episode of Series 9, Aftershock damages the floor twice.
    • Arguably the most spectacular example was Apex in Series 10, Heat 3. The robot had the heaviest spinner the show had seen. After a single attack against its opponent, the weapon was quite clearly off-kilter and started hitting the robot itself. Cue the weapon tearing itself out of its housing, totalling Apex in doing so, flying off into the air at speed, and tearing a hole clean through the first protective screen. The Apex team's reaction was a mixture of mild embarrassment and horror.
  • Try Not to Die: Quoted verbatim in the title sequence of Series 9: "Advice I would give to roboteering teams entering the arena is: don't panic, and try not to die."
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Over the course of the Seventh Wars, Tornado and Firestorm were both beaten by main competition debutant Storm 2, Bigger Brother was beaten by Iron Awe in Round 2, Spawn Again was beaten by Raging Knightmare in the heat final, Pussycat was beaten by M2 in Round 2, Behemoth was beaten by Mute in Round 2, and Mighty Mouse, Judge Shred, and Robochicken all made the heat final for the first time (recording better or the same competition finishes than over half the seeds).
  • Undignified Death: Any match that didn't go to the judges was highly likely to end in this for the losing robot.
  • Unexpected Character: The 2016 series featured several robots that had been active on the live event circuit in the interim between series (such as Behemoth and Dantomkia), and others whose return had been heralded when their teams participated in the revived series of BattleBots the previous year (such as Razer). It also featured several more unexpected entrants such as Thermidor 2, which had been in retirement since Series 7, and The General, whose only previous appearance had been in the sideshow Football tournament in Series 3!
  • Unperson: The VHS release of "The First Great War", a collection of highlights and behind-the-scenes material of Series 1, removed any footage of or reference to Jeremy Clarkson, and the video itself was presented by Craig Charles. No tie-in media mentions Clarkson at all, and many people watching Series 1 for the first time since broadcast are surprised to find someone other than Charles as host.
    • It seemed like that season was never broadcast in the US.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Jack Charles, son of host Craig Charles, occasionally joins Diotoir's team, most notably throughout the team's Series 5 campaign. You'd think the Pit Reporter or his own father would make a big deal of this, but he's barely mentioned when he appears.
  • Victory by Endurance: A valid tactic when a lot of robots simply weren't reliable enough to take a few bumps without breaking down- no matter how impressive your weapon is, if your drive system breaks down you're out. Very often the winner of a battle was simply the one that didn't stop moving. This was particularly common in the Annihilator battles, where 6 robots would fight at once and one would be removed each round until only one was left, as seen by the Dark Horse Victory of Spikasaurus in the Series 4 Northern Annihilator (where it limped to victory when Dominator 2 suddenly stopped moving) and the back-to-back wins in Extreme 2 and Series 7 by Kan Opener, who were never any good in the main competition but were experts at simply going the distance.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish:
    • The profiles of the House Robots that were shown before every single fight in Series 5, even if said house robots had already appeared on the episode. If they'd cut those out, they could probably have included an extra battle with the time saved.
    • Starting with the Third Wars the heat final battles showed a short montage of how the competitors had managed to get to that stage, despite the fact that the clips were from battles between half an hour and three minutes before.
  • We Interrupt This Program: The filming of a Series 3 heat once had to be stopped when a member of the audience was found to be in possession of a controller. It was subsequently found that they'd brought their own antweight robot with them.
  • Wham Episode:
    • In the early days, a viable piece of advice was "don't worry too much about armour, the robots' weapons don't actually do that much damage." Then came Series 3, Heat H, and in it Hypno-Disc.
    • In the early days, a robot being flipped was essentially out, as there was no means of recovery. In fact, the winner of the first series, Road Block, was literally a moving ramp that would force the enemy to drive over it and fall over. Come the Series 2 semi-finals, a robot named Cassius was flipped during the Trial and presumed doomed. Then, its flipper weapon was used to right itself, to the astonishment of commentator Jonathan Pearce, and presumably everyone else except the Cassius team themselves. Since this now made the most powerful weapon in the series much less useful, they stormed to second place. In Series 3, not having a srimech was considered highly risky, although a notable number of successful robots — including Hypno-Disc, Steg-O-Saw-Us, Mace 2, Thing 2 and Scutter's Revenge — still went without. However, Chaos 2 successfully mastered the high-pressure flipper design and stormed to victory with it, and from that point on not having a srimech was borderline suicidal.
    • From later on in Series 3, Chaos 2 flipping Firestorm out of the arena — creating a One-Hit Kill that not even a srimech would protect you from.
  • Whammy: All too often, a robot would dominate in its battle, only to lose due to due radio interference, a dislodged safety link, or some other technical malfunction that causes it to stop dead. Razer and Fluffy were particularly notable for this. Robots who ended up unexpectedly in the pit also qualified, especially if they were dominating the fight before their downfall. This was usually due to dodgy driving, the opponent managing to wriggle out of the way from the edge of the pit as their would-be conqueror charged towards them, or the dominated robot being such a Determinator that they got a Heroic Second Wind or some luck and drove their opponents in.
  • Wimp Fight: There were quite a lot of these in the early series, particularly Series 1 where most robots were little more than slow-moving boxes that would shove each other around a bit before one of them broke down or fell over and couldn't get up again.
    • A notable one from the later series was Warhog v Napalm in Series 5. Warhog's full-body spinner weapon wasn't working, Napalm's weapon may as well have not been working, neither robot had any real speed or pushing power, and by the end of the fight, Napalm was stuck against an angle grinder and Warhog had simply stopped moving. Napalm was judged the winner.
    • M.R. Speed Squared vs Foxic in the Series 8 Heat B round-robin stage. Neither robot was working properly (M.R. Speed Squared's weapon was broken, and Foxic was plagued by drive issues), and the result was an extremely boring match in which the only exciting moment was Foxic taking on Dead Metal (again). Jonathan Pearce expressed relief when it was finally over, and Professor Noel Sharkey was shown after the match remarking that it was possibly the worst fight he'd ever seen (and considering he's judged on every fight of every series since the show started, that's really saying something).note 
  • Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing: A potential tactic in any battle that wasn't "last robot standing"; Atilla the Drum managed to make it to the penultimate round of the Southern Annihilator in spite of having very little offense (although it was also helped by the fact that its design made it very difficult to attack), and this was also a tactic of Mighty Mouse in first-round melees.
    • In Series 2's "Reserve Rumble" (a fight between a group of robots that hadn't qualified for the main competition) Jim Struts was the only walker robot. Either because the other robots didn't think it posed a threat or weren't sure how to tackle a robot more than twice as heavy, it ended up the last robot standing as all the others broke down or were taken out by the House Robots.
    • Series 10 Heat 3; Track-tion. A case of Qualifies By Doing Absolutely Nothing. Was quickly eliminated in its preliminary fight by Rapid, with the aid of a bit of armour donated by the Vulture team only had to survive one hit from Apex before their opponent self-destructed in the eliminator, Ring-outed in near record time by Rapid again in the Heat Semi-Final, and went through to the 10-robot melee by default in the play-off when the aforementioned Vulture broke down in the pits.
  • The Worf Effect: The house robots often fell victim to this, as roboteers knew that taking one on and winning was an easy path to Robot Wars immortality. Spin Doctor smashing Matilda's tusks in Series 2, The Big Cheese eviscerating Sgt. Bash in Series 3, Gravity flipping Dead Metal (and just about every other house robot it dared to) in Series 7... the list goes on.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Behemoth got the Challenge Belt in Extreme 1 as a consolation prize for the world championship. They just had to beat out 3 challengers and it would be theirs to keep - even if a later challenger defeated them. The first two matches were a walk in the park, but their third opponent was the nigh-invincible at the time Tornado, who knocked them down and snatched the belt away. Behemoth would never win a trophy - unless you count the antweight version - and ended up with the most battle losses of any robot in Robot Wars.
  • You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: Some of the more successful teams, such as Chaos 2 in Series 4, would invert this during their introductions as a form of Badass Boast. The effect was: "You should know exactly who we are, and what we're capable of."
  • Your Head Asplode: Happened to Major Tom in Series 4. Major Tom had a plastic head (salvaged from a bubblegum machine) at the back of it, and in its battle with 101, got immobilised in Shunt's CPZ. Shunt brought his axe down on Tom's head, which made it shatter into a million pieces.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: On occasion, some robots don't even move off their starting area, which essentially gives the victory to the other robot. On other occasions, robots only need a tap before they stop moving and are eliminated.

     Board and Video Games 
  • Artificial Stupidity: It is often incredibly easy to get the AI robots in the computer games to drive into the pit simply by driving your robot to the other side of the pit, whereupon the AI robot will charge forward, straight into the pit.
    • In Metal Mayhem, you can often do the same thing with the arena spikes or the flame pit. Especially the flame pit.
    • The "Football" mode on Extreme Destruction is just a regular head-to-head battle with a ball and goal, meaning that the competitor robot ignores the ball and just attacks you.
    • Also from Extreme Destruction, if an AI competitor robot is placed next to a CPZ at the beginning of the battle, there is a chance that when the fight begins the competitor will immediately drive into the CPZ and attack the house robot.note 
    • For some reason, the house robots in the Kilimanjaro arena in Arenas of Destruction are incredibly unresponsive and will only attack (and even then only barely) if a competitor robot actually attacks them first.
    • In the "Mad Bomber" mode, AI robots will only move if they have the bomb or are being chased by the robot with the bomb.
  • Artistic License – Engineering:
    • Chassis, armour, wheels, motors, power source, weapons, and you're good to go.
      • It's even simpler in Metal Mayhem due to the Game Boy Color's limitations: body shell, drive motors, gear ratio, weapon. That's it.
    • Armour, wheels and even weapons will fly off in massive chunks as a robot gets hit. Even if the other robot is attacking with an axe, it's enough to tear off whole sheets of metal.
  • A Winner Is You: Completing "Competition" mode on Extreme Destruction, which presents you with 'CONGRATULATIONS — enjoy your special prize' and a revolving image of a small carriage clock. Played for Laughs a little, as if you stay on the screen a while the clock falls apart.
  • Bland-Name Product: You can equip your bot with motors from a "Dosch" drill, or a "Yuarta" battery. Funnily enough, in Arenas of Destruction, the latter still has the actual brand name clearly printed on it.
  • Bonus Feature Failure: The computer games allowed you to unlock competitor robots to play as as you progressed through the various tournaments. Unfortunately, several of these — Dominator II or Pussycat in Extreme Destruction and Panic Attack or Razer in Arenas of Destruction, for example — were so poor compared to their real-life counterparts that they just weren't worth bothering with.
  • Capture the Flag: Found on both Arenas of Destruction and Extreme Destruction.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: In tournaments on Extreme Destruction with a cost limit, the AI robots are not bound by that restriction.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Wheely Big Cheese in the PC/Xbox version of Extreme Destruction is unlocked early on and has an incredibly powerful flipper.
    • Likewise, in the Game Boy Advance version- if you know which Gauntlet event to complete (The Slalom on Silver Difficulty), you can unlock Chaos 2 right off the bat.
  • Dummied Out: Metal Mayhem's box art includes a screenshot depicting Ultor, implying it was going to be playable at some point before being removed from the final game.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Terrorhurtz appeared as a playable robot in Arenas of Destruction well before it actually appeared in the UK series. This was down to Battlebots owning the rights to the image of the team's current machine, Killerhurtz, so its successor was used as their representative instead.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: In Metal Mayhem, when a bot takes terminal damage, it catches fire. This would make sense for Diotoir, or if the bot was killed by the flame pit, but kill a robot with your flipper and it will still catch fire.
  • Filling the Silence: In Extreme Destruction at least, Jonathan Pearce never shuts up. While he's a borderline Motor Mouth in the TV show, his commentary in the game is a never-ending stream of repetitive, over-enthusiastic, and often hyperbolic comments.
  • Game-Breaker: Chaos 2 is exactly as nasty in the games as it was in real life, so much so that you have to beat the World Championship (entry fee: 25,000 credits) in order to access it!
  • Gravity Screw: The Mars arena in Extreme Destruction includes an anti-gravity switch.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Any fight on the aircraft carrier arena in Extreme Destruction is this, because it is almost impossible to keep control of your robot on a constantly shifting floor with obstacles literally flying into you and multiple instant-kill hazards.
  • Off-Model: The in-game version of Crasha Gnasha in Metal Mayhem looks nothing like the actual robot whatsoever, being purple instead of blue and missing both of the real robot's weapons- it doesn't have its saw, and the side-to-side hammer has been replaced with a physically improbable overhead whip.
    • The version of Tornado in Extreme Destruction has the box-shaped chassis of the Series 4 version and the weapon of the Series 5 version, making it both this and a Composite Character.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: No prizes for finishing second or below, here.
  • Unexpected Character: One of the reasons Metal Mayhem (based on Series 3) was so poorly received by fans was because of its bizarre roster choices. Five of the playable robots - Crasha Gnasha, Terminal Ferocity, Dundee, Milly-Ann Bug, and Purple Predator - lost in the first round that year, the former two in ten seconds flat, and all but Milly-Ann Bug never appeared on the show again. Meanwhile, two of the four grand finalistsnote  and three of the fan favouritesnote  were all overlooked.


Video Example(s):


Firestorm Flips Mr Psycho

Even after beating Panic Attack during the Commonwealth Carnage, Firestorm proves it's strength by flipping the heaviest house robot, Mr Psycho.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / DavidVersusGoliath

Media sources:

Main / DavidVersusGoliath