Why Robot Wars Failed #6: Similar TV Shows

This is the final article in this series talking about why a classic and loved TV show can fall so, far so quickly. With the series now complete, you can read the entire collection of articles with a new series set to begin following this article. This time, we are looking away from Robot Wars to see how outside influences of other shows affected Robot Wars and led to its demise.


Top Gear

In 2002, Robot Wars had a dropping audience as an old BBC favourite returned. Top Gear returned in 2002 with Jeremy Clarkson at the helm and had consistently good viewership whilst Robot Wars was dropping off. The show was also new and fresh meaning, that the BBC wanted to give it a few seasons to see if popularity would increase and, of course, it did.

Meanwhile, Robot Wars was dropping off and the resurgence of a similar TV show led to big pressure on Robot Wars. If a programme is rising whilst the established is reclining then, any TV executive is going to want more money for the improving show and may even take it from the declining show.



Niche upon Niche

It is hard to describe the sub-genre that Robot Wars helped to create but, we will call it the creation game show genre. Robot Wars really was the foundation of the genre but, it meant that shows would use the same formula just with a couple of different elements. Below is a list of similar shows to Robot Wars other than Robot Wars international versions or Robot Wars Extreme as we have spoken about them quite a lot:

  • Battlebots (US robotic combat show that acted more like a sport than an entertainment show).
  • Robotica (the trials and gauntlets from early Robot Wars series make up most of this US robots show).
  • TechnoGames (a robotic Olympics show in the UK based on Games, rather than fighting).
  • Full Metal Challenge (rather than robots, altered vehicles take on trials and fights)
  • Fightbox (virtual creations take on different trials and fights in this virtual reality based show)

These shows aired 1998 – 2003 and there have been similar TV shows since but, they are not relevant to this discussion. Including Robot Wars and all of its different versions as, one show then, six different shows fighting for the same sub-genre at different times, the audience is going to get stretched and for Robot Wars new, fresh shows are more appealing to a new audience than an old one that isn’t changing.


Genre Over Exposure

Six programmes fighting in the same sub-genre over 6 years means that there was a pretty big burnout in the community trying to watch all the different programmes. Not only did this lead to all of the similar shows to fail but, as the similar shows Failed, it led to Robot Wars not being different or special. Plus, all of the different nails in the coffin we have spoken about in the past Why Robot Wars Failed series, Robot Wars failed but, it wasn’t permanently.

The Next Big Series

So Robot Wars Failed, this doesn’t surprise anybody but, what surprised a lot of people is its return. So, why is Robot Wars back, twelve years after it failed! Well, it is a long story, a whole series worth of stories of Why Robot Wars is Now Back. This Series will be starting in a couple of weeks and will look at the modern TV environment in which Robot Wars has reappeared.

Not only that, we are also going to review similar TV shows to Robot Wars in the upcoming months and how well they worked and why they Failed. Some of the shows are mentioned in the article above as well as shows that have been on the small screen since Robot Wars’s original absence.


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