|Tim Green (2000-2002)|
Sean Salisbury (2000-2001)
Bil Dwyer (2000-2002)
Molly McGrath (2015)
Samantha Ponder (2016)
Chris Rose (2018-present)
Kenny Florian (2018-present)
|Sean Salisbury (2000-2001)|
Tim Green (2001-2002)
Chris Rose (2015-2016, 2018-present)
Kenny Florian (2015-2016, 2018-present)
|Mark Beiro (2000-2002)|
Faruq Tauheed (2015-2016, 2018-present)
|Bill Nye (2000-2002)|
|Arj Barker (2002)|
Traci Bingham (2001)
Heidi Mark (2001-2002)
Jason & Randy Sklar (2001)
Alison Haislip (2015-2016)
Faruq Tauheed (2015-2016, 2018-present)
Jessica Chobot (2018)
Jenny Taft (2019-present)
|Comedy Central Packagers|
|Discovery and Science Packagers|
BattleBots (also "formerly" known as Comedy Central Sports Presents Battlebots) is a robot combat show originally airing between 2000 and 2002 on Comedy Central, 2015-2016 on ABC and currently being aired by Discovery since 2018. Co-created by Greg Munson and Trey Roski, competing builders from the 1995-1997 US Robot Wars live competitions, the show originated in 1999 as a series of filmed events held in Long Beach and Las Vegas, which were respectively streamed online and broadcast as a pay-per-view event. Comedy Central picked up the original run shortly after which ran for five seasons.
As its name suggests, BattleBots involves competing teams building their own remote-controlled, armored and weaponed machines, which fight each other in an elimination-based tournament. The purpose of the fight is for one robot, or "bot", to damage, dominate and/or incapacitate its opponent within the given time limit through any means necessary. Not only are the robots at the mercy of their opponents' weaponry, but also required to avoid several hazards within the arena (the BattleBox) which can damage or hinder their movements.
Robots at BattleBots tournaments were initially separated into four weight classes ('divisions'), each with their own dedicated championships which were partially aired during the Comedy Central run. The majority of episodes from this era would show up to three battles across all divisions, with some airing as many as four. Maximum weight limits would increase slightly over time. By Season 5.0, tournaments were open to competitors in the following divisions:
- Lightweight: 60lbs (27kg)
- Middleweight: 120lbs (54kg)
- Heavyweight: 220lbs (100kg)
- Superheavyweight: 340lbs (154kg)
'Walking' robots ('StompBots') propelled by means other than wheels or tracks were initially given a 50% weight bonus. The rules changed following the victory of a heavyweight StompBot (Son of Whyachi) at Season 3.0. For Season 4.0 and the remainder of the original run, only a 20% weight bonus was given to walkers, with additional rules specifiying that walking mechanisms could not use cam operated walking mechanisms to qualify for the bonus. Since the rule change, walking robots continued to entered the competition, but none achieved any further success beyond preliminary rounds in the Comedy Central era.
Beginning with the 2015 ABC season, a single upper weight limit of 250lbs (approximately 113.4kg) was established, with flying robots ('Flybots') being introduced with a maximum limit of 10lb (approximately 4.5kg) each. The individual weight classes were simultaneously phased out in favor of a competition format focusing purely on heavyweight machines.
For the 2018 season (aired by Discovery), allowances for extra 'Decoration Weight' up to 10lbs were introduced, while stricter rules for 'Mini-Bots' (smaller robots forming part of a 'Multi-Bot' entry) defined their maximum weight as 20lbs (approximately 9kg) by the following year. Weight bonuses for 'Non-Wheeled Robots' (including walking designs up to 500lbs (approximately 226.8kg)) were reintroduced for the 2020 season, eligible designs being subject to pre-approval from the BattleBots organizers.
Throughout the Comedy Central, ABC and Discovery runs, most matches would last for a maximum duration of three minutes. Within this time, two or more robots aim to damage and/or incapacitate each other using any methods available, including the use of their own weapons and hazards within the BattleBox.
Once a robot is incapacitated, either due to damage or getting stranded on the wall or hazards, a knockout loss is declared when the referee counts the defeated machine out after thirty seconds. In a typical one-on-one match forming part of a larger tournament, the winner moves on to the next round; the loser is instantly eliminated. Winners of the final round (or the final of each weight division in the Comedy Central era) would be declared champion of their given season.
During the Comedy Central run, the driver of the affected robot could also call a "tap-out" to forfeit the match, usually to prevent his or her robot from taking excessive damage after being incapacitated. This ended the match ten seconds later; during the ten-second count, the winning driver was "asked" (but not instructed) not to attack their opponent's machine. Tap-outs have since been disallowed under the Tournament Rules issued for the ABC and Discovery seasons.
On occasions throughout the Comedy Central era, battles could be paused or stopped early for a variety of reasons. This often occurred if both robots became stuck together and could not separate, or both robots became incapacitated at the same time. In the former, BattleBots crew members would enter the BattleBox to manually separate the affected machines. In case of robots catching fire inside the BattleBox, the fires would be put out by crew members equipped with fire extinguishers.
The Comedy Central seasons ran as a traditional, multi-round knockout tournament, with robots aiming to win their individual weight divisions and the "Giant Nut" trophy. Each episode would show up to three or four matches from across all divisions, interspersed by VT, behind-the-scenes or comedy sketch segments usually relating to competing teams or BattleBots personnel. Not every match was shown on television, with the "preliminary" bouts receiving no coverage at all. The tournament structure in place varied depending on the number of robots entered for a particular season.
In Seasons 1.0-2.0, only battles starting from the Round of 32 and/or Round of 16 brackets would be aired, from which point the winners would progress to the Quarter-Finals followed by the Semi-Finals. The winning two robots from the latter would face each other in the Final to determine the overall champion of each division.
The number of entries greatly increased for Season 3.0, which featured a similarly-expanded format for all weight divisions. An official announcement outlined the following tournament structure for that season:
- Preliminaries - Untelevised bouts deciding the sixteen robots from each division to advance into the main televised rounds. To accommodate the higher entry numbers, these would only run for two minutes instead of the usual three. The BattleBox hazards would be disabled at this stage and the arena itself divided for lightweight and middleweight bouts as another capacity-related measure.
- TV Tournaments - Qualifying robots from the Preliminaries would initially fight in fully-filmed bouts against veteran competitors from previous seasons (ranked 17-32). This stage was referred to as the Round of 64. The winners would proceed to face the top-ranked (1-16) machines determined by the BattleBots organizers. In order, the remaining stages were the Round of 32, Round of 16, and so on.
Season 3.0 also saw the introduction of "seedings" for experienced competitors, each generally determined by performances in previous matches and tournaments. A total of 32 robots would be selected as such, each with the added benefit of being able to sit out earlier rounds of the competition. For Season 4.0, the tournament structure was further streamlined to consist of a Preliminary Competition and a Final Competition, with similar requirements as before. The top 16 seeded robots in each division were officially referred to as the Sweet Sixteen around this time.
The 2018 Discovery season introduced a new 'Fight Night' format which saw a greater number of televised preliminary battles between competing robots. These included both head-to-head and Rumble battles, with some being designated as the 'Main Event' of certain episodes. Depending on the season, each robot (including 'Backup' entries used to replace a withdrawn competitor) would be allocated up to three (2020) or four fights (2018-2019) at this stage. Behind-the-scenes and comedic segments also featured, each involving competitors and/or members of the reboot presenting team including Chris Rose, Kenny Florian and Faruq Tauheed.
2018-2019 season episodes aired on the Science Channel also included additional content over the original Discovery-aired versions. These varied from bonus fights to additional behind-the-scenes segments such as the 'Botopsy Report', which would briefly highlight the damage sustained by competing robots in between battles. The Science Channel airings have also been used for some international broadcasts, an example being ITV4's airings of the 2018 season in the United Kingdom.
The 'Fight Card' and 'Main Event' match-ups were determined by the producers and used to compute new rankings for competing robots, as part of a selection process for the main single-elimination BattleBots Championship. In 2018-2019, the top 16 robots determined by this process and the newly-formed rankings would be selected to compete in the main tournament; for 2020, the number of selected robots was expanded to 32, though the Tournament Rules for the 2021 season again list a minimum of 16.
In the event that both robots survive the three minutes, a panel of three Judges are called upon to decide the winner based on a set of categories established by the BattleBots organizers. For head-to-head matches, three Judges initially distributed a total of 45 points (15 points per Judge, 5 points per Judge per category) over three categories - Aggression, Damage and Strategy.
- Aggression: Determines how consistently a robot has fought to its opponent throughout the battle duration. A robot which remains passive and holds back safely from its opponent will not get many Aggression points; by contrast, a robot which attacks for the entire duration will.
- Damage: Determines how much damage the robot can deal to its opponent while remaining intact itself.
- Strategy: Determines how well a robot exploits its opponent's weaknesses, protects its own, and makes use of or negotiates the surrounding hazards. A robot driving over the kill saws, for example, will lose points in this category unless it had good reason to do so, while a robot that can attack its opponent's weakest areas will gain points.
The robot with the highest score from all three categories wins the match.
For the 2015 and 2016 seasons, a fourth category, Control, was added, specifically highlighting a robot's ability to 'attack an opponent at its weakest point', utilize its weapons well and minimize an opponent's chances of damaging it in response. Avoidance of BattleBox hazards was also emphasized. In 2016, the Aggression category was modified to rule the use of powered weapons as the only viable method of scoring points; attacks without these were discounted as a defensive measure and could in some cases reduce an individual robot's score in this category. Point allocations for the 2016 season were 2 for Aggression and 1 each for the other three criteria.
A further change for the 2018 season resulted in the points scores for Damage and Aggression being swapped round, the former becoming the most important factor now worth 2 points. Rules concerning ramming attacks with 'passive' features (e.g. wedges) and without the use of powered weapons were also tweaked.
For the 2019 season, the judging criteria was once again changed, with Strategy being dropped entirely and increased point values issued for Damage (3 points), Aggression (2 points) and Control (2 points) respectively.  The values were further increased for the 2020 season, with 5 points for Damage and 3 points each for the other two remaining categories.
At the end of most BattleBots tournaments in the Comedy Central run, a series of 'Rumbles' or 'melee rounds' were typically held in each weight class, allowing robots that survived the main tournament to fight in a 'free for all' in a 5-minute match. Occasionally, there would be more robots than what the BattleBox could hold for these types of battles, and so the idea was refined to introduce 'consolation rumbles' where the best-performing survivors would compete in a 'Grand Rumble' or 'Royal Rumble' to determine the overall winner. In Season 5.0, the majority of the rumbles planned for that season were canceled in response to a safety-related incident involving the competitor Nightmare, occurring during the initial Heavyweight Rumble.
The presence and purpose of Rumbles diversified in both of the ABC seasons, with a variety of these three-way battles being organized as both exhibition matches and, for the 2016 season, preliminary qualifiers for the main tournament. Three-way Rumbles were also staged on various occasions throughout the 2018-2019 Discovery seasons as part of the 'Fight Night' format. Some of these were exclusive to airings shown on the Science Channel, with additional Rumbles (including the six-way "Last Chance Rumble") also being crucial to finalizing remaining places within the Top 16 or Top 32 brackets.
For the 2015 ABC season, four robots which were defeated in the opening round would be selected by the producers to be reinstated for the Round of 16 as 'wildcards'. This was expanded in the 2016 season to include eight robots, which would be reinstated for the Round of 32 as part of an extended tournament format.
The 'Wildcard' process was dropped for the Discovery seasons with the introduction of the 'Fight Night' format. In its place, the 2018 and 2019 seasons featured the "Desperado Tournament", a redemption bracket offering robots with a low win-to-loss record a chance to fight for a place within the main BattleBots Championship. For the 2018 season only, a "Last Chance Rumble" was staged between six competitors for another potential place within the main championship.
All matches take place inside the BattleBox, a purpose-built, 48ft x 48ft square arena designed and constructed by Peter Lambertson. This includes a steel floor and a steel-framed Lexan enclosure, the latter protecting drivers, officials and the audience from flying shrapnel and robots. Teams bring their robots into the arena for combat through doorways, which are sealed after all humans have exited. Drivers control their machines from outside the sealed BattleBox; in one-to-one battles, their robots' starting positions were designated by color-coded 'red' and 'blue' squares at either end.
Within the BattleBox, a number of unique hazards are present for robots to avoid, with the risk of being hampered, damaged or even incapacitated should they drive or be maneuvered towards them by their opponents. The modern BattleBots Tournament Rules encourage competitors to 'use the hazards and obstacles to their advantage', with hazard usage also contributing to Damage points in the event of Judges' decisions.
Hazards first introduced throughout the Comedy Central run included:
- Pulverizers: Originally pneumatic-powered standard sledgehammers which delivered minimal damage to competitors, the Pulverizers were first upgraded to 50-pound aluminum mallets for Season 2.0, then to stainless steel hammers for Season 3.0-5.0 with a weight increase of over 150lbs. The Pulverizers, often located at the BattleBox corners or perimeter, were especially capable of seriously damaging robots in lighter weight classes.
- Spike Strips: The lower walls of the arena were originally lined with inward-pointing 6-inch long sharpened steel spikes. Pushing an opponent hard into a wall can sometimes lodge it into the spikes, impaling and incapacitating it. For the ABC/Discovery seasons, the Spike Strips evolved to form spiked bumpers lining the inner walls of the BattleBox.
- Spinners: Large, fast-spinning circular panels embedded in the arena floor, intended to fling robots across the BattleBox to disrupt their movements and navigation. The spinners were especially effective on robots in lower weight divisions, but their impact on heavier robots was minimal, despite motor upgrades implemented for Season 3.0.
- Killsaws: Circular carbide-tipped sawblades rising out of slots in the arena floor, capable of damaging and in some cases launching nearby robots across the BattleBox. First introduced at the 1999 Long Beach and Las Vegas events along with floor and wall Spikes, the hazard was upgraded over time with larger and more damaging sawblades, all manufactured by SystiMatic. In later Comedy Central seasons, red 'throwing blades' were added to increase the chances of a robot being thrown across the arena, with the motors being upgraded for Season 3.0.
- Pistons: Featured in Season 3.0 only, the Pistons were cylindrical, high-tensile steel columns that rose from the BattleBox floor. Their main purpose was to lift or tip over any robot crossing over them, usually resulting in instant incapacitation. The Pistons were also durable enough to break weapon systems for robots armed with powerful spinners.
- Ramrods: Sharpened steel spikes that rose out of the floor in groups of six, serving either to lift a robot off the ground or damage vulnerable portions of their undersides. These evolved from the similar floor Spikes initially used at the 1999 Long Beach and Las Vegas events. In Season 3.0, the Ramrods received new motors making them five times more powerful than their initial iterations.
- Hell Raisers: Hinged floor panels in the center of the BattleBox which could raise to flip, lift or block robots through the use of pneumatics. The 15-degree tilt angle also enabled to serve as a 'ramp' where robots could be launched if they drove directly over them. Present throughout the first three Comedy Central seasons, the Hell Raisers were removed by Season 5.0, but later returned for earlier seasons of the ABC/Discovery reboot.
- Screws: Introduced for Season 3.0 onwards, the Screws were continuously-rotating augers placed horizontally along parts of the arena perimeter, usually in between the Pulverizers. To this end, they were intended to catch, lift and propel robots towards the Pulverizers themselves, though their overall effect was minimal despite being more effective against robots in lighter weight divisions. For Season 5.0, the Screws were upgraded with serrated edges to better catch onto robots, their movements also changed so that the halves of one pair rotated in opposite directions. As a result, they now converged towards the center, creating a 'V'-shaped pattern with the added prospect of damaging, turning over or even trapping robots against the outer wall.
For the return of BattleBots in 2015, the BattleBox was updated with a revised aesthetic, the aforementioned spiked bumpers along the inner wall and a number of new and returning hazards. Additionally, it was now possible for competitors to throw opponents out of the arena in a similar strategy to that available in Robot Wars. This could be done by flipping robots into the spaces between the inner and outer walls, or (until after the 2020 season) the larger spaces between the inner wall and entrance/exit doors.
Alongside the Pulverizers, Screws, Killsaws and Hell Raisers, two new hazards were introduced for the 2015 season:
- Paddles: Sections of the spiked inner wall which could fire outwards in a similar fashion to a pinball flipper. Their purpose was to steer robots into nearby Killsaws.
- Hell Raisers: A second hazard bearing this name was a number of pneumatic spikes rising from the floor, intended to lift robots off the BattleBox and temporarily hinder their movements.
Most of the reboot hazards were computer-controlled with the notable exception of the Pulverizers, which were now operated by competing teams. From the 2016 season onwards, the Killsaws would only be enabled for the last 60 seconds of any given battle. A row of lights would flash to warn teams of their activation.
Updates to the BattleBox were carried out for the 2020 season, which saw a new AR500 steel floor and denser, rhombus-shaped heads adopted for the Pulverizers. For the 2021 season, the out of the arena zones near the entrance/exit doors were designated "Buffer Zones", which competitors were disallowed from deliberately throwing opponents into for safety reasons. Additionally, a brand-new hazard was introduced:
- Upper Deck: Originally referred to in the 2021 Tournament Rules as "The Shelf", a 16' by 8' platform raised six inches above the main floor. The inner Lexan floor was lined with two bi-directional screws or slightly taller walls on some sides to make it more difficult for robots thrown into this area to drive off and escape. If a robot remained on the Upper Deck for an extended amount of time, a 10-second countdown would be initiated and the affected robot deemed incapacitated, unless it drove off back onto the main BattleBox before the end of the count.
A Kickbot Arena Game and Build 'Em, Bash 'Em were released in 2001 and 2002 respectively by Milton Bradley.
Two video games based on the franchise called Beyond the Battlebox and Design & Destroy were released in 2002 and 2003 for the Game Boy Advance/GBA respectively by Majesco.
In 2002, the now-defunct THQ was working on a game that would be released for the GameCube and PlayStation 2/PS2 at the time. It was going to be a brawl fighting game, with mini-robots to customize. However, after a couple of years, the game was canceled along with the show in the same year.
McDonald's released Happy Meal BattleBots toys from April 26, 2002 until May 23, 2002.
During the modern series' hiatus, reruns of the ABC version continued to air on the Science Channel since July 12, 2017. The ABC and Discovery seasons have also been distributed in over 150 countries worldwide. In Canada, Comedy Network aired the series in primetime in the past. Starting on December 25, 2018, GameTV in Canada started airing reruns of the 2015 version.
From August 17, 2021, Netflix began streaming both ABC seasons internationally, with the BattleBots reboot also available on streaming services in the US such as Discovery, Discovery+ and Amazon Prime.
On February 2, 2022, it was announced officially by BattleBots that the 2018 Discovery season (Season 3) would be aired in the UK by ITV4, initially beginning on April 18. The season was later confirmed to begin airing two weeks earlier on April 4, with episodes being shown on weeknights in a 7pm timeslot.
Greg Munson and Trey Roski.
- BattleBots: Bounty Hunters - Spin-off of the Discovery seasons first aired in January-March 2021.
- BattleBots: Sin City Slugfest - Also known as BattleBots Championship, spin-off of the Discovery seasons premiering on August 8, 2022.
- Battlebots.com, BattleBots Design Rules (2016 season)
- Battlebots.com, BattleBots Design Rules (2018 season)
- Battlebots.com, BattleBots Design Rules (2019 season)
- Battlebots.com, BattleBots Design Rules (2020 season)
- Battlebots.com, BattleBots 2016 Tournament Rules
- Battlebots.com, BattleBots 2018 Tournament Rules
- Robotcombat.com, 'BattleBots announcement from 4/27/01'
- Robotcombat.com, 'BattleBots announcement from 9-25-01'
- Battlebots.com, BattleBots 2021 Tournament Rules
- Battlebots.com 'BattleBots Rules and Guidelines' [Version 1.7.1, updated October 6, 2000] (archived)
- Battlebots.com, BattleBots 2019 Tournament Rules
- Battlebots.com, BattleBots 2020 Tournament Rules
- RobotCombat.com, 'Nightmare- San Francisco 2002'
- Runamok.tech,'Tournament Tree - BattleBots 2015'
- Runamok.tech,'Tournament Tree – BattleBots 2016'
- RobotCombat.com, Team Nightmare - Battle Robots!, 'The History of Robot Combat'
- Robot Wars Discussion Forum (archived),BattleBots 3.0 (BBC Choice)
- Battlebots.com, 'Where to find BattleBots worldwide – BattleBots'
- Facebook, Untitled post by BattleBots, August 6, 2021
- Facebook, Untitled post by BattleBots, February 2, 2022
- Facebook, Untitled post by 'Monsoon - BattleBots' (Discovery Season 3-4 competitor page), March 28, 2022
- BattleBots Twitter post, June 27, 2022