Actor Allusion: Red Dwarf was mentioned a lot in Craig Charles' early series. The robot "Scutter's Revenge" (and its follow-up "Spawn of Scutter") was a reference to the Scutters, Inquisitor from Series 2 was named after the titular enemy from Series 5 episode "The Inquisitor", Charles himself made a joke about gazpacho soup in one episode, and the Series 2 Heat K episode opening introduced Charles as "the man who oils Kryten's bearings".
Adored by the Network: At the height of its powers around series 3 and 4, the show was definitely this, to the point where new episodes could be seen up to three times in one week.
Ascended Meme: One of the Facebook posts done by the rebooted Robot Wars team included the hashtag #homeinabinbag, a reference to the Stealth team who entered Stealth into the arena against Hypno-Disc in one piece, and went back home in several bin bags. The phrase later became a Crowd Chant when Carbide was in the arena.
Contest Winner Cameo: Christian Bridge joining the Panic Attack team during season 4 after winning a competition in Robot Wars Magazine.
Thor in the video game Arenas of Destruction.
Creative Differences: This was what led to the Razer team not entering Series 7. After a controversial battle against Tornado in the Extreme 2 European Championship which they won on a judges' decision, the team voted 2-1 to concede the match on the grounds that they had been immobilized (Ian, the team captain, was the one who went against it); the argument led to the team breaking up.
Dub Name Change: Their mere existence forced Banpresto to change the title of their series to Super Robot Taisen (Taisen means Wars in Japanese) for all games released in English speaking countries.
Dueling Shows: With BattleBots. Both share a common ancestor in the robot combat tournaments held in abandoned San Francisco warehouses in the early 90's.
With BattleBots being revived in 2015, and Robot Wars revived in 2016, the duel is set to continue once again. The duel had a third entrant in 2018, a day after World Series ended, when King of Bots in China began and featured many of the most successful teams from both other shows entering new robots into this one.
Executive Meddling: Specifically in the case of Storm II. As seen here and here, the producers of the show were unhappy about Storm II not using its 'active weapon' in its semi-final fight (which the revamped Series 7 rules stated must be on every robot, but not necessarily used), thus after failing to influence the judges to give the semi-final to Firestorm 5, they tried (and succeeded) in the final to meddle with Storm II's chances of success: first in its fight against Tornado by raising the pit after they had fallen into it, and secondly in its fight against Typhoon 2 by letting Team Typhoon repair damage to it in between the fight, not letting the house robots fight with it as normal, and not informing the judges of damage done to it (most notably Typhoon 2's drive chains having fallen off). This meant that the fight was given to Typhoon 2 in the judges' decision, prompting large boos from the crowd (albeit in post-production cheering was overdubbed onto the announcement). However, when the judges found out about this Team Storm received individual letters of apology.
According to Team Typhoon, many of these claims are false. There was no repairing going on as the teams didn't even have access to the robots during the pause, and the reason for their 'zero damage' claim was because they had no reason to suspect otherwise. They where only informed about the drive chain after the judges decision (typhoon 2 uses two chains to drive the robot, either of which could take over if the other failed). The only real explanation is that one of the teams is outright lying, but we'll probably never know which one. The general Executive Meddling against Storm II is still indisputable though.
The producers attempted to screw Storm II over again in the finals of the third World Championship. In the fight, its opponent Supernova was stacked against the wall long enough for the Refbot to move in and attempt to count it out - except the Refbot's counter wasn't working, which was only communicated to the producers. However, the House Roboteers and the Storm II team all drew the obvious conclusion, and thought it would be funny for Shunt to stack Storm II on an angle grinder. Cue the producers arguing that Supernova technically wasn't immobilized because it had never been counted out, and had Supernova taken off the wall while Storm II was left there. This time, however, the judges weren't having any of it, and gave the win to Storm II.
Also in the Second Wars semi-finals, in the case of Mortis. In the pinball trial, when Mortis first started to move it got stuck on the arena spikes, meaning that it scored 0 points. However, somebody on the production team decided to let Mortis run again. (This at least may have been justified, as the roboteers had been told the spikes would not be used.) However, the usual driver was unhappy about this decision, meaning that another member of the Mortis team drove the robot. In the second attempt, Mortis scored very few points, and the house robots started scoring points for them (note that when the trial was introduced it was explicitly pointed out that points scored by the house robots would not count), and according to the scoreboard, Mortis had scored 100 points. In the televised version, there was no hint that Mortis had been given a second run or that the production team had fixed it. The production team clearly wanted Mortis, the favourite, to reach the final. At least when Panic Attack pushed Mortis into the pit in the next round the executives didn't try and persuade the judges that they shouldn't win. The "Grudge Matches" special at the end of the series included a fight between Mortis and Napalm, the robot eliminated as a result of the above meddling. The intro to the match didn't explain in any detail and made it look as if the Mortis team had been given a second chance by protesting to the judges, when in fact they were given one despite their protests. (Mortis won the grudge match.)
Another instance pertaining to The Seventh Wars. With the new producers, a new rule was implemented that all competing robots must have an active weapon. Therefore, robots who only had static wedges and spikes, or were thwackbots (a robot which caused damaged by spinning on its axis and slamming a clubbing or sharpened weapon into its opponent) were not allowed. Even Stinger, a former Grand Finalist, which had consistently participated in highly entertaining battles and fought reigning champion Chaos 2 to a standstill in Series 4, where it placed 3rd overall, was barred from competing because it didn't have an active weapon. The majority hated this rule. As a kick in the teeth to Stinger, a blunder was made in the entry list and a sit-and-spin thwackbot called T-Wrecks, who did nothing, was let in regardless.
The First Wars had an example that was actually justified. Because there were 36 entry slots, but only 33 entrants, the production crew created three "stock robots" - Eubank the Mouse, WYSIWYG, and Grunt - to make up the numbers. When all three made it through their respective Gauntlets, at the expense of actual competitors, the producers decided it would be unfair to have the stock robots proceed any further and contrived to have them exit in the Trials. Eubank the Mouse drove straight into a wall and "broke down", WYSIWIG was eliminated despite Dreadnaut having actually broken down, and Grunt drove right off the Sumo platform in four seconds flat - much to the frustration of the team it had eliminated in the Gauntlet, who felt that their machine would have done well in that Trial.
The Middleweight Championship in Extreme 2 borders on this. Team Typhoon, who before then had the only good Middleweight in the country, were allowed to enter a second robot somehow. The fight was somewhat farcical as the two Typhoon bots (one of which was a clusterbot, effectively two robots in itself) ganged up on the two other robots and after they were defeated, just spun around on the spot, not attacking their brother.
Made even worse with the fact that the one part of the clusterbot was immobilised in the qualifier, which the rules state should've meant the robot was eliminated, but was allowed through anyway. For some reason this rule had apparently been waived for weight classes below heavyweight, which then only raised the question: why?
A rare case where executives of another show began meddling. BattleBots does not allow robots which debuted on their series to fight in Robot Warsnote It appears that this rule hadn't been enforced until around Season 2.0, as Rammstein was able to appear on the Robot Wars War of Independence event after its debut in BattleBots Season 1.0., but for a period of time the opposite could happen. This meant that the Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors and Nickelodeon Robot Wars series didn't have any famous BattleBots competitorsnote It did have some teams, though. The Bat in particular was entered by Team Minus Zero, better known as the team behind frenZy.. Son of Whyachi was notably one robot that had to be turned away after arriving once the Robot Wars producers discovered this clause. This rule culminated in an embarrassing Third World Championship Qualifier in Series 7 where both competitors fighting to represent the US were equally awful, and some people questioned why robots from Extreme Warriors or Nickelodeon didn't bother trying to qualify.
Even robots built by British teams, or teams that appeared on Robot Wars first were not immune. Team Hurtz (famous for Killerhurtz and Terrorhurtz) were not allowed to (officially) bring beta onto the 2016 reboot by the BattleBots producers because they owned the broadcast rights to the robot (key word being "broadcast" - they did fight in an unbroadcasted battle in the new arena). Killerhurtz wasn't allowed to be included in Robot Wars promotional material for the same reason. note To add insult to injury, at that time beta didn't actually get to FIGHT on BattleBots! They first attempted to enter it in Series 5.0, but the magnets the robot used to maintain stability when swinging its incredibly powerful hammer tore the metal floor panels up, meaning beta couldn't move under its own power in the battlebox. The team attempted to rectify this and enter in Series 6.0, but there was no Series 6.0 as the show was cancelled. When the 2015 reboot arrived, the team thought beta would finally get its chance to show off its stuff, but when they were flying the robot across San Francisco (disassembled of course) American Airlines somehow managed to lose a 25kg bag of essential parts for eight weeks, forcing them to miss out. Thankfully, they managed to finally compete for ABC Season 2 where they did quite well, defeating Lucky, Overhaul and Nightmare before being defeated by Tombstone. Notably, it seemed that these rules had been started fresh when it was rebooted, as Kronic (who premiered in 2000 on Robot Wars) competed in ABC Season 1 as "Chronic", but legally couldn't compete on Robot Wars again (which ultimately turned out for the better, as it instead led to the team entering Apollo, which went on to win series 8).
As mentioned above, it was initially Averted in the opposite scenario. Robot Wars competitors were allowed to take part in BattleBots - Razer fought in the Long Beach and Las Vegas events in 1999, while Bigger Brother and Panic Attack, among others, competed on the show itself. However, after the above mentioned incident with Son of Whyachi, the UK producers returned the favour, and barred their UK robots from appearing in BattleBots. However, there were still an ample amount of competitors whom just went for a new paint job and name (i.e Bigger Brother became Little Sister while Dantomkia became Spitfire), and much like above with the merchandising issue, Killerhurtz was an exception to this new rule.
A justified example for the 2016 series. The live events tended to encourage more flipping robots, as spinners were banned note Due to the arena being made cheaply for easier transportation, and replicating the original arena with bulletproof plating to protect the audience would cost a fortune and very powerful axes were discouragednote Since the roboteers don't have the money and/or time to repair between fights and between events. They can be hired by practically anyone for several events, several days a week. Terrorhurtz and Thor are the only major competitors to use a large axe., so a large number of flipping robots attempted to qualify for the reboot. The producers were forced to deny entry to a lot of these competitors, no matter how popular or successful they previously were, in order to enforce Cast Speciation.
Franchise Killer: Series 7, for several reasonsnote Although whilst it ended the television show, live events continued to be popular and later on the organisers even got the rights from Mentorn to use the Robot Wars logo and branding:
Firstly, while Five picked up the broadcast rights, the merchandisingrights supposedly remained with The BBC, meaning Five couldn't make much money from it.
Thirdly, the sheer number of popular robots that didn't return for Series 7 (most notably Chaos 2, Hypno-Disc, and Razer) likely put a lot of fans off. Although in hindsight a lot of fans have agreed this might have made Series 7 better by finally giving some new contenders (Typhoon 2, Storm 2, M2, Tough As Nails) and long-time contestants who'd always been muscled out by the top tier (Bulldog Breed, Raging Knightmare) room to shine.
Fourthly, with live event shows becoming popular at the time, more robots qualified with flippers due to the practicality of having them in live shows while other roboteers added a flipper to their robot (such as The Grim Reaper). 11 of the 16 semi-finalists had flippers, so the show by that point became a game of "who's got the biggest flipper?" Ironically, of the 5 robots without a flipper, 4 of them filled out the four available slots in the Grand Final.
Five were also not helped by the fact that the moment the channel switch was announced, the BBC immediately pulled all Robot Wars airings to avoid promoting what was now a rival channel's show; Extreme II was getting its first terrestrial run at the time, and this left three episodes never shown outside of BBC Choice. (This move coupled with the aforementioned merchandising problem probably led to the ending of the official magazine.)
Keep Circulating the Tapes: The odd VHS and DVD specials exist, and the show still exists in reruns, but no full release of championships have been made. The only complete episode to receive a commercial release was the First World Championship. For now your only hope for watching all the episodes is if you recorded them, or if someone posted the episode on YouTube.
Fortunately, most of the episodes are now on YouTube (for starters you can find Series 1-6 and both Extreme series here), with just the American series left.
The Merch: This is possibly one of The BBC's most merchandising-friendly shows. In the early noughties Robot Wars merchandise was the number one boys' toy in the UK, and the revived series is set to have its own line.
Missing Episode: Previously thought to be the entire show, in addition to the German, Dutch and US series. All are now on YouTube.
The International League Championship was thought to be gone in similar fashion - it was a one-off show broadcast in between Series 3 and 4 and seemingly never repeated, hence its obscurity. A copy finally emerged in 2011.
The Pilot episode MTV made is likely to remain missing for a long time. The only evidence of it even existing are a few references on some of the competitors' websites (most of which no longer exist).
There are also individual battles that were never transmitted and thus no surviving footage, most notably an unbroadcast Wild Card Warriors event between Hypno-Disc and newcomers TX-108 (which TX-108 won, making this the only WCW battle where the newcomer won).
The pilot episode of the 2016 revival was not actually recorded and no footage of the battles that took place during it are known to exist.
Name's the Same: Some names have been used for several competitors who are otherwise unrelated to each other, including Cyclone, Hammerhead, Spin Doctor and Prometheus. However, they would never be in the same show, with one usually originating from the UK tournaments and the other(s) originating from one of the many international spin-offs.
The Pete Best: Team Cassius. They reached the Grand Final of the First and Second Wars (and some believe they threw the final battle in the Second, because the winner, Panic Attack, were donating their sponsor money to charity and would've got more for winning, although they denied this). Their robot in the Third Wars was one of the best, although it fell very early and the team retired in protest of lax safety regulations before the Fourth Wars, just as the show became popular.
Mick Cutter especially so. He left Team Chaos at the end of the Second Wars to join Team Cassius and didn't enter after Team Cassius pulled out. Team Chaos won the championship that year, and the year after, becoming one of the most popular and successful robots. To add insult to injury, Cutter was the one driving Cassius II during its disasterous 3rd Wars appearance when it charged at Pussycat, missed and drove straight into the pit, accepting full responsibility for their shocking early departure from the series.
Martin Smith went from being a roboteer with Cruella in the first and second series to be a full-time judge from the third series onwards. Justified since, while the competition is open for anybody with any skill, quite a lot of the roboteers are very capable and qualified with robotics outside of Robot Wars (indeed, at the time of his ascension, Martin Smith was a professor of robotics at the University of East London).
Also Jamie McGarry, who was the webmaster of the Panic Attack fan site for several years; when it became promoted to the official Panic Attack website, he was invited to join the team for the Seventh Wars.
Anyone who liked the show and had the know-how could be one. Numerous teams were inspired to build and compete after seeing the show on TV.
Both George Francis and Kim Davies took jobs on the show as technical consultants in Series 7. Obviously this meant that they couldn't take part themselves; while this was the end of Team Chaos, Kim handed Panic Attack back to his old friend Kevin Pritchard (who had been on the Panic Attack team for their championship run in the 2nd Wars) and the robot fought on without him.
Long-running competitor Adam Clark was appointed as the judge of the Extreme 2 Antweight Championship as recognition for his creation of the first fighting antweight robot, Toecutter.
Real Life Writes the Plot: The Hypno-Disc team were voluntarily Put on a Bus for Series 7 due to family matters (they intended to return only for the show to begin a 12-year hiatus following that series); S3 could no longer afford the time and money involved, so also dropped out that year.
Reality Subtext: Series 7 was around the time when live robotic combat shows really took off around the UK. Due to the rules barring spinners and the practical cost of avoiding axes and crushers, the popularity of flipping robots increased dramatically. These robots qualified for that series, hence why 11 of the semi-finalists had a rear or front mounted flipper (none of them made it to the Grand Final, though), and the roboteers (such as M2) made more references to the live circuit.
The producers became aware of this when holding qualifiers for the 2016 series, and barred entry to several robots with flippers, despite their track record. For example, Turbulence won the 2006 live UK Championship, but failed to qualify for TV.
Screwed by the Network: Suffered this from both the BBC and Channel 5. Three episodes from Extreme II were never aired on terrestrial television, and the show in general got shunted around the schedules a lot, to the point that in the last series only about two episodes were shown in their originally advertised timeslots. Channel Five also moved it from its well-known Friday timeslot to Sunday evenings.
Throw It In!: Craig Charles ad-libbed the first four-line "...on Robot Wars" poem at the end of his first episode. The producers liked it and asked him to do it every week. Prior to becoming a comedic actor on Red Dwarf, Craig was a performance poet both on television and touring the country and used his skills for the show.
Troubled Production: An incident in the pits during the Third Wars (a hydraulic spike weapon went off and pinned a crew member's foot to the floor) and the resulting investigation caused several side events to be cancelled and the rest shortened, and many robots would never be seen because of this. The Football (which Razer would've competed in) and Pinball tournaments were truncated, and the Sumo and Tag Team events were cancelled altogether (although they would be successfully remounted the following year). The most notable casualties were the alternative weight class championships (except for the middleweight championship, which was reduced to a single battle), which would never really kick off again. Nowadays, you'll be lucky to find a roboteer with a robot that's not antweight, featherweight or heavyweight. The incident also drove Rex Garrod, one of the most talented roboteers, to leave Robot Wars in protest, just as the show was starting to really take off.
Un-Cancelled: As of 2016. Jonathan Pearce and Craig Charles both expressed interest in returning, and the teams that have applied to participate included Behemoth, Terrorhurtz, Storm II, and Gravity (with Hypno-Disc and Tornado also potential candidates in a later series). Pearce returned as commentator, however a change in style (with more emphasis on the scientific side of robotics) saw Charles replaced by comedian and physicist Dara O'Briain as the main presenter.
Unfortunately, after 3 reboot series of steadily-increasing quality (with Series 10 being considered one of the greatest ever), the BBC cancelled it again to make room for new programs. Fan outrage was spectacular.
The "Peoples' Challenge" in Extreme gave the viewers the option to choose which robots they'd like to see fight each other, and Hypno-Disc vs. Razer was actually the winning choice, but both teams decided it wasn't worth the damage to their robots. Outside of that, the two robots came maddeningly close to meeting in the Series 5 Grand Final and the first two All-Stars tournaments, but it never quite happened.
Seen in many cases throughout the show's run, notably in Series 1 when Plunderbird 1 was eliminated in the gauntlet despite being in the same heat as a stock robot (kamikaze robot made to make up numbers), or several robots breaking down at critical moments where they were in complete control (or between rounds, which prevented the chance of Razer fighting fellow crusher Suicidal Tendencies).
Some of the robots that were turned away for Series 7 include Dutch champions Slicer and PulverizeR, as well as a completely rebuilt and very different looking Sir Chromalot.
Robots that were turned down for the 2016 reboot, or wanted to compete but couldn't for other reasons, include Anarchy (hugely overweight due to changes in walker weight limits), Gravity (one of many powerful flippers turned away to try and diversify the field), Hypno-Disc and Tornado (both teams were interested but their robots were long-retired and they couldn't get a working one up and running in time for filming; they are still candidates for any future series).
Team Cassius left the show in protest of the lack of safety regulations following the accident during the Third Wars mentioned above. Their robots had all been among the best in the series they competed in and likely would have done well in the later series.
A few years after the show went off air, digital channel Challengenote who show repeats of old gameshows, including Robot Wars were going to broadcast the UK championship live events, but the deal fell through.
The Wiki Rule: Has its own wiki that is the only place on the internet to list all results ever.
Stuart McDonald, the show's director and announcer, also worked as the director for Gladiators and Top of the Pops. The Gladiators from the former were the inspiration for the House Robots.
Rex Garrod, captain of the Cassius team, was also the inventor of Brum.
Although he wasn't seen onscreen, Joe Thomas, later of The Inbetweeners fame, was one of the students who built Series 1 grand finalist T.R.A.C.I.E.
Pressing the pit release button had no direct bearing on the pit descending - there was somebody whose job it was to notice the button being pushed and make the pit go down. (On at least one occasion he missed the button being hit and the robot had to do so several times before it went down.) Additionally, in Series 4 the pit release siren itself didn't actually sound in the arena and was added in post-production, meaning occasionally a roboteer wouldn't notice the pit had been opened. After several self-inflicted pittings from oblivious drivers, the siren was sounded in the arena itself from Series 5 on.
Not one single robot, roboteer or team was present for all seven main series. The closest any team got was appearing in six out of the seven, and few of those used the same robot design throughout all six appearances (George Francis appeared in Series 1 with Robot the Bruce before inventing Chaos; Team Cold Fusion fought with Bodyhammer in the first 2 series before coming back with Pussycat; Team Firestorm's first appearance was on Groundhog; and Team Hurtz fought with Killerhurtz for their first 3 wars before building Terrorhurtz to replace it). The longest-lasting basic designs (although even these featured multiple sequels, rebuilds and upgrades) were Panic Attack and Behemoth, which first fought in Series 2, all the way up to the end. Not even the host and pit girl were consistent across all seven series (although Craig Charles replaced Jeremy Clarkson in Series 2 and stayed for all subsequent incarnations). The only constants for every incarnation of Robot Wars were the ever-enthusiastic commentary of Jonathan Pearce, the iconic deep-voiced announcements by Stuart McDonald, judge Noel Sharkey (who didn't appear in every episode and rarely spoke when he did, occasionally being called upon to explain a controversial decision) and the original 4 House Robots (Shunt, Dead Metal, Sgt. Bash and Matilda - not all of whom were seen in every episode, especially when the decision was made to have only two house robots in each battle).
For the reboot, Jonathon Pierce and Noel Sharky both returned once more, as did Shunt, Dead Metal and Matilda. Sergeant Bash did not return (when creating the new House Robots they were only able to do four and Bash drew the short straw, most likely for his Awesome, but Impractical design), and Stuart McDonald did not return. Behemoth returned again but Panic Attack did not, solidifying Behemoth as the longest-running fighting robot design in the UK scene.
The house robots Mr. Psycho and Growler are both named after songs by the band Space.