BattleBots is a robot combat TV show where competitors design and operate remote-controlled, armored machines to fight gladiator-style in an elimination tournament. It’s both medieval and futuristic, and plays to our most base desires to witness destruction and sparks flying. In the US, for five seasons BattleBots aired on Comedy Central, before it was revived in 2015 by ABC. In February 2018, Discovery Channel and Science picked up the show for its eighth season.
There are other counterparts that haven’t seen as much mainstream success, such as UK’s BattleBots, Robot Wars (the original, of which BattleBots is an offshoot), and even Hebocon, where people design the “worst” robots they can and pit them against each other. These are ultimate nerd showdowns, pitting brains and steely brawn against each other.
In the world we live in today, BattleBots might seem a bit outdated, as life-changing robots are being built these days for various purposes. And after all, we're all afraid of Skynet becoming a real thing, and of robots taking our jobs in the future. Who knows, maybe one day this very article will be referenced in a robot-written exposé on the dangers of combating robots against each other. For now, we’ll focus on the robots in the arena, designed by engineers and scientists with only one intention: causing destruction to each other, not the human race.
We’re here to talk about the BattleBots we know and love—the ones we think we could destroy with a swift kick to the side, and those we’d run from for fear of getting our limbs chopped off. Here are 10 BattleBots we could beat up, and 10 we want protecting us.
20 Weak: Drill-O-Dillo
Drill-O-Dillo was a Super Heavyweight bot that showed up in the show’s second season, but eluded many people for a long time because the official photographers forgot to take a picture of it, initially.
Drill-O-Dillo’s weapon was a spinning rock chisel—or a drill—which normally might not be a bad idea.
But Drill-O-Dillo battled Gray Matter, another pretty useless bot, and managed to lose by getting run over by a spike and losing its wheel. In fact, when Gray Matter went into reverse, Drill-O-Dillo’s entire axle sheared right off. A single hit managed to ruin the bot’s entire drive system, making it one of the most unreliable and useless bots out there. Final record: 0-1.
19 Weak: Root Canal
Root Canal was a Middleweight robot from Team Mutant Robots, who also built Diesector, a bot that won two BattleBots championships. But Root Canal was not Diesector. The bot featured omni-directional wheels, meaning it could drive in any direction, including sideways. It was meant to be super mobile and maneuverable so it could use its cutting disc well. The problem was, the robot didn’t actually work: its omni-directional wheels were a gimmick and it was too fragile. In its first fight, Root Canal was pushed against a wall and broke, losing the battle. Bottom line, Root Canal was poorly designed. In its second fight, it lost in one hit as well. Final record: 0-2. Another Root Canal that took second place in a recent BattleBots competition but it wasn’t the same design: it was rebuilt as a Heavyweight, without the omni-directional wheels.
18 Weak: The Green Dragon
Green Dragon never made it to the televised one-on-one rounds of BattleBots. It only made a brief appearance in Season 2.0’s Lightweight rumble, though it didn’t do much. This robot didn’t have a lot going for it.
It wasn’t durable, and its saw blade was not centered correctly.
The second incarnation was a simple trapezoidal shape with some saw blades in the wedges. Green Dragon managed to lose to one of the worst BattleBots around in season 2, Scrap Daddy LW 55. It rammed into Scrap Daddy and lost a whole tire. Overall, the Green Dragon was not built to last, and even if it were, it could hardly do any damage.
17 Weak: RACC
RACC, or Robot Action Combat Cluster, was a Lightweight multi-bot that competed in the 1999 Long Beach BattleBots event. Multi-bots are typically quite ineffective in the Lightweight division, where entrants are already small and compact. RACC was built partially by Will Wright, the guy behind SimCity. The red thing on the right, when separated from RACC, was called “X11,” the middle thing was the “Emergency Escape Pod,” or EEP, and the left blob didn’t have a name. So, RACC was three machines in one. These three units were meant to be a safeguard against being counted out of a fight. If one part of RACC was incapacitated, the other two could go on. The problem was, RACC never won a single fight. It lost by two “audience” decisions, being unable to impress the Long Beach crowd. Final record: 0-2.
16 Weak: Rim Tin Tin
Rim Tin Tin was a Lightweight that looked like it would fare well, but it simply didn't. Over the course of four BattleBots events, Rim Tin Tin changed its appearance up every time. But each time, the core of the robot stayed the same: a robot built inside a tire rim, armed with a lighting device of some sort.
Its weapon wasn’t the worst, and although it was amusing with its punning name, it just wasn’t effective.
It almost won in its first fight, against Rampage, but eventually lost. In its final fight, it lost against Paladin with a judges’ decision of 42-3. Yes, it scored only three points. Final record: 0-4.
15 Weak: Blendo
Blendo was Jamie “MythBuster” Hyneman’s Heavyweight robot that caused a stir in the early days of BattleBots. It was deemed so destructive in the 1995 and 1997 Robot Wars tournaments that it was forced to forfeit because it was a safety hazard. That being said, Blendo was simply an obsolete mess in later years. Full body “spinners” like Blendo have been forced to evolve with the sport, in order to stay devastating. But Blendo did not adapt. Even by 1999, in Long Beach, Blendo was immediately trounced by Punjar—a robot Blendo had one-shot defeated two years prior. Punjar beat Blendo a second time, as well. Blendo’s spinning dome required an electric power drill to start its gasoline engine, which was simply no good. Final record: 0-4.
14 Weak: Black Ops
The team that built Black Ops manages to have more losses than any other on this list. Their robots continuously brought themselves close to victory, but always failed to seal the deal.
There have been four total Black Ops bots, and they have four losses by knockout, one loss by judges’ decision, one loss by forfeit, and one loss by TKO.
Black Ops itself was a Heavyweight robot that competed in Seasons 3.0 and 4.0. It was a two-headed robot armed with two spiked wedges, which were then replaced by two retractable arms. The team responsible for building Black Ops (0-2) also built Proto-Type 4 (0-1), M.I.A. (0-1), and A.W.O.L. (0-3).
13 Weak: UltraViolent
This robot looks like it could do some damage, but that was not the case in either of its two fights. It was created by Andrew Peterson as a six-wheel-drive bot equipped with a flipping arm set, front wedge, and two pivoting arms mounted on either side. First, the flipping arm was just for show: the team was unable to get it working in time for the tournament. In fact, the lifting fork were the only things that worked on this monstrosity (and the LED lights). In its first fight, it never even moved—its wheels didn’t even spin—and it took a brutal hit from Son of Whyachi’s spinning hammers. In its second fight, it managed to move, but took a few hits and became immobile. Final record: 0-2.
12 Weak: Wrecks
Wrecks was a strange looking, ineffective robot that competed in the first two seasons of BattleBots. Its main weapon was a large, vertically-spinning steel disc that also provided its forward movement. It had no wheels, operating instead of gyroscopic procession. Its weapon was attached to an apparatus that lifted it back and forth, creating a rocking motion that moved the back-mounted “foot” to move forward. It was all very complicated for a robot that ended up losing both of its fights. Wrecks has a pretty ingenious weapon, but the problem was that it never really got going, relegating it to the useless pile. Fans agree, if this thing had wheels, it might actually be a pretty good bot.
11 Weak: Stewbot
If we’re talking about the most useless bots to ever enter the arena, Stewbot must take the cake. However, Stewbot was never a serious contender, per se. It was a Lightweight “robot” that was basically a joke: literally an R/C truck with a trailer filled with Lego bricks in the back.
It only fought once, and lost, against The Crusher.
It went out in spectacular form, however, which was probably its intent: it was overturned and then destroyed by a pulverizer, with a showering of Legos to follow. Stewbot was entered into the competition by John Hargrave, host of Computer Stew, a comedy show about technology—so that should be enough to tell you it wasn’t a serious entry. Final record: 0-1.
10 Scary: Last Rites
Last Rites is a robot with one of the longest tenures in the BattleBots franchise. Between 2006 and 2010, it would become a household name amongst viewers, though it wasn’t until 2010 that it really took off. Last Rites was a simple bar spinner built by Team Hardcore Robotics. It was the 2008 and 2012 ComBots Champion, and is one of the “Big Three” in US combat robotics, alongside “Sewer Snake” and “Original Sin.” It first competed at the 2005 ComBots Cup, where it went 2-2, but every year after that it was upgraded and fared better. In the 2007 RoboGames, it lost the finals to Sewer Snake, but returned the year after to win the whole thing. Last Rites is consistently regarded as one of the best BattleBots of all time, with an overall record of 49-31.
9 Scary: Son of Whyachi
Son of Whyachi is a lighter version of Team Whyachi’s Super Heavyweight robot, Whyachi. It originally competed in Season 3.0 as a Heavyweight, where it won the championship. After new rules declared its “feet” did not constitute the weight bonus given to walkers, it was moved to the Super Heavyweight division.
In BattleBots, it won the Season 3 championship against BioHazard, though it lost very early on in Season 4.
Son of Whyachi was quite a punishing robot, and it certainly belongs near the front of the pack as far as the efficiency of modern BattleBots goes. Viewers and critics alike consider is one of the best BattleBots of all time. The bot’s final record was 14-7.
8 Scary: Hypno-Disc
In the early Robot Wars era, Hypno-Disc was one of the most destructive and successful robots around. Between 1997 and 2000, it was the most feared bot in the field. Relative to the era it competed in, it had no equal at the time. In Series 4, Hypno-Disc sent Splinter home in pieces in one of the most destructive battles ever seen on-air. Hypno-Disc fought in Series 3-6, and reached three consecutive Grand Finals, finishing up runner-up on its debut, and never failing to reach the Semi-Finals in any of its main-series appearances. But despite its strong UK Championship performances, Hypno-Disc actually never won a robot combat tournament. Its problem was that it was quite easy to immobilize. Still, it had a final record of 22-10.
7 Scary: Brutality
In 2009, Brutality was the biggest name in BattleBots. It was a Heavyweight robot built by Aptyx Designs, that competed in the professional BattleBots 2009 Professional championship.
It was a low robot armed with an overhead spinning bar and a front wedge, similar to three-time middleweight champion, Hazard.
It is one of the only BattleBots to go undefeated in its entire history, winning the championship in 2009. It still competes today. Brutality is notorious for destroying BioHazard so completely that the other bot was forced into retirement at the ComBots 2005 event. Sure, it only has 5 wins under its belt, but when you put the zero losses next to that, that’s batting 1000!
6 Scary: Ziggo
Ziggo, built by Team Ziggy, was a robot that competed in all six Lightweight Championships of BattleBots. It was a full-body spinner with a bladed shell made from a steel wok. It was named after the dangerously destructive Blendo, and Johnathan Ridder’s cat Ziggy, which combined formed Ziggo’s name. When at full speed, Ziggo was an unapproachable weapon, and its armor proved nearly impossible to damage. Ziggo is responsible for some of the greatest destruction seen in the Lightweight class, and is hailed as such. It won three championships, one Royal Rumble, one “Most Aggressive” award, and ended with an overall record of 18-4.
5 Scary: Minotaur
Minotaur is a robot built by the Brazilian Team RioBotz, which competed in Season 2 of BattleBots on ABC, and Season 3 on Discovery and Science. It’s armed with a 12,000-RPM spinning drum that was reduced to just under 10,000-RPM for competing. In the 2016 competition, Minotaur did very well: it knocked out Photon Storm in the round of 48, caused Blacksmith to catch fire in the round of 32, decapitated Warhead in the round of 16, and removed Bronco’s wheels in the quarter-finals. It reached the Grand Final next season, but lost to Bite Force. Overall, Minotaur has been dominant in its field, with a record of 10-3. It’s considered one of the two most destructive bots of all time, by many, right alongside another entry on this list…
4 Scary: Razer
Razer was a very popular British Heavyweight robot that competed in the first two BattleBots events. It was armed with a powerful crushing ram that could exert approximately three tons of pressure per square inch at its tip.
It was designed to pierce through opponents’ armor plating and damage their internal components, and it did just that on multiple occasions.
It was also very fast and agile, making it an extremely dangerous bot. Its pair of “wings” on the top sides of the weapon could push it back onto its wheels when it got turned over. It won the 1999 Heavyweight Rumble at the Long Beach event, and found huge success in BattleBots, too. Its overall record was 41-7 in the UK.
3 Scary: BioHazard
BioHazard was a Heavyweight robot built by Carlo Bertocchini. From 1999 to 2002, it competed in all seven BattleBots events, winning four titles in the process. It was also quarter-finalist twice, runner-up once, and won a single Heavyweight Rumble. It competed in US Robot Wars and won the title twice, in 1996 and 1997. At the time, it was the most successful bot in BattleBots history. BioHazard was designed entirely on a computer before a single part was bought or manufactured. It had the shortest height for a Heavyweight, at just 4 inches high, and that low-profile frame was one of the greatest engineering accomplishments of the bot. It had a final, superb record of 27-3, with one of those losses coming to Brutality, which forced the bot into early retirement.
2 Scary: Hazard
Hazard was a robot built by Tony Buchignani that competed in Seasons 1 to 5 of BattleBots, with the exception of Season 2. It was a Middleweight robot, a low box-shaped bot with four-wheel drive, a front wedge, and a large tool steel spinning blade on top. It was one of the most effective robots in BattleBots history.
It won the Season 1, 3, and 4 Middleweight Championships, and made it into the semifinals of Season 5.
In Season 5, it was redesigned with side skirts, which proved to be its design flaw: T-Minus managed to flip under the wedge skirt and push it under a spinning blade, rendering the bot useless. Until the Season 5 semifinals, it was undefeated in combat! Ultimately, it had a record of 17-1.
1 Scary: Tombstone
If you ask avid fans who they think is the most destructive bot to ever grace BattleBots, they’re likely to say Tombstone (or maybe Minotaur, depending on who you ask). Tombstone was a simple, Heavyweight machine built by Hardcore Robotics. It was a two-wheeled box-shaped robot armed with a large, horizontally-spinning bar that weighed about 65-75 lbs.
Its hammer also served as a shield.
It was champion in the Super Heavyweight division at the NPC Charity Open in 2004, runner-up of the first season ABC reboot, and champion of the second season. The second Tombstone built was a new version of the team’s flagship Heavyweight, Last Rites. But it was a lot nimbler and faster than Last Rites. It won the giant bolt for “most destructive robot” in 2015. Its overall record was 24-4.