- "The most feared and technically advanced robot of the first three wars."
- — Robot Wars: The Ultimate Guide
Mortis was a tracked robot that competed in the first four series of Robot Wars. Despite being one of the most expensive robots to compete on the show, it had a mixed run of success, reaching the Semi-Finals of Series 2, but only reaching the Heat Final in Series 1 and 4 and losing in the second round of Series 3 to Gravedigger. However, it won the Series 4 War of Independence after soundly defeating US representatives FrenZy in the final.
Mortis was also originally scheduled to make an appearance in the first series of Robot Wars Extreme, where it was due to fight Axe-Awe in a Wild Card Warrior battle. However, Random Violence Technologies were unable to attend filming for Extreme 1/Series 5, so Panic Attack took Mortis' place. As such, Mortis did not appear for any later series of Robot Wars, although it intended to qualify for Series 7 with revisions to its weapon and drive systems.
A defining trait of Mortis was its portrayed cost. The TV show claims that Mortis was made from £40,000 worth of raw materials, with the robot being 'valued' at £250,000 towards the end of its appearances. In actuality, due to Mortis containing a lot of donated parts, Mortis cost less than £500 to produce. The name Mortis is a conjugate of the Latin word for "death."
Mortis' design evolved throughout its appearances, being a tracked robot with a tank-like appearance, a top speed of 9mph and an electrically-driven axe capable of firing quickly and causing tremendous damage to other opponents' armour. This axe featured a custom head modelled after Japanese tantō knives for optimal armour-piercing capabilities, and could strike up to three times a second with the equivalent force of a .38 Magnum rifle fired at point-blank range. Being one of the most technologically-advanced competitors on the show, Mortis was made out of aerospace-grade materials, with its armour consisting of carbon-fibre, Kevlar and laminated titanium in its appearances in Series 1-3.
After having its tracks exposed in Series 1, Mortis was redesigned for Series 2 with newer, more angular armour which enclosed its tracks completely, as well as a faster axe and improved electronics. It was also painted grey instead of black and dark grey, and was also planned to be fitted with a lifting mechanism which was removed before it competed.
In Series 3, Mortis' tracks were enlarged and protected by injection-moulded pads either side of the robot, while an electric lifting arm was added beside the axe to allow the robot to lift 100kg and self-right. At 79.5kg, it weighed slightly over the Heavyweight limit in that series. Mortis' armour was finished in a bronze-green colour for Series 3, which was altered to black and silver for Series 4. Also in Series 4, its armour was coated in silicon carbide, which when used as an abrasive, is almost as hard as diamond. This effectively made Mortis diamond-coated.
Like Firestorm in later series, Mortis remained roughly the same shape and design throughout the series, gradually being improved with more powerful motors, faster and more powerful weapon mechanisms, and what the team described as "better reliability". The axe and lifter combination it used in Series 3-4 was subsequently emulated by several other robots including Vercingetorix and its successor Comengetorix, Hydra, Oblark, Ripper and Hydrotec. However, while the Tanto axe was deadly, Mortis often suffered from reliability issues with its tracks and weapon motors, had a high ground clearance and was vulnerable to having its tracks damaged by arena spikes/side bars in earlier series.
Despite being retired after Series 4, Mortis was later revised with wheels instead of its tracks, and equipped with a more reliable srimech ahead of a possible entry into Series 7. However, the revisions came too late, and it failed to qualify for that series.
Of all the competing robots, especially within the first few series, Mortis was one of the most fancied to win by the producers. Every defeat it took, even against a higher-ranking machine (such as former Grand-Finalists Steg 2 in Series 4), was considered a shock. After falling in the Heat Final of Series 1, Mortis returned to Series 2 as the firm favourite, even being awarded the second seed ahead of Series 1 Grand Finalists Bodyhammer and fellow seed Cassius, whose predecessor Recyclopse beat it to reach the aforementioned Grand Final. Mortis was so highly fancied to win that it was involved in one of the most controversial incidents in Robot Wars history.
As expected, Mortis cleared its Heat and its Semi-Final Gauntlet run, which allowed it to progress to the Pinball trial. However, as its Pinball run started, one of Mortis' tracks was damaged by an arena spike before it could gain any points. This should have eliminated it immediately, but the producers insisted that a re-run should take place, as all roboteers had been informed that the spikes would not be used for the Pinball stage. Despite this offer, Rob Knight did not believe it would be fair to the other teams and refused to drive Mortis. Instead, team-mate Ben Impey took over, and under his controls, Mortis performed rather poorly, spending most of its time attacking the ramp and knocking over only one set of barrels and bricks. In total, it scored 75 points - already enough to qualify, but to make its run look more impressive, the House Robots scored an additional 25 points, moving Mortis one place up in the rankings and eliminating Napalm, much to the disconsolation of the Dartford Girls Grammar team.
This put Mortis through against Panic Attack in the Arena stage, but Random Violence Technologies, no longer willing to fight after their dubious qualification, didn't put up much of a fight, allowing Panic Attack to push Mortis into the pit very quickly. Ironically, during the end-of-series Grudge Match Special, the producers' explanation for a subsequent grudge match between Napalm and Mortis was that the Mortis team had demanded another go, not the producers, which resulted in Mortis being somewhat disliked in later series. This altered view of the incident was also alluded to by Jonathan Pearce during Mortis' introduction in Series 3, with Pearce referring to the team as "the students who fumed when eliminated controversially", when in actuality the events of the Series 2 Semi-Final appeared to dishearten them altogether.
Mortis' Heat Final during Series 1 earned infamy as the first controversial judge's decision in the show's history. Mortis' devastating axe mechanism had broken, and the axe was converted into a battering ram. Nevertheless, the battle was controlled by Mortis, despite the unanimous vote of confidence in favour of Recyclopse in the pits; however the judges voted in favour of Team Cassius, to the indignation of the Mortis team.
Their shot at vengeance came in the first Judgement Day battle. During this battle, Cassius was axed by Mortis; however Mortis had lost a track, and was left stranded by the pit. In an attempt to attack Mortis again, Cassius missed and drove straight into the pit, and although the Mortis team tried to call a rematch, the result stood. Rex Garrod retired after the next series, so the grudge was never settled beyond the 1-1 score.
Mortis started the Gauntlet strongly, charging past Shunt and ramming Bash askew. However, this attack damaged its steering, and it was unable to continue. Shunt then trapped it from behind, using its axe to pin it in place. Matilda joined its fellow House Robots in boxing Mortis in, preventing it from escaping from any direction. As Rob Knight looked on in dismay, even at one point shouting to the house robots to let Mortis out, Sergeant Bash shrouded Mortis in flames and cease was called with Mortis having traveled 7.40 metres, joint third with Scrapper. During the post-run interview Jeremy Clarkson commented on Arthur Chilcott's beard.
- "We're not going to let you go anywhere- we don't have to!"
- — Jonathan Pearce as Sergeant Bash boxes Mortis in
In the Trial, Mortis charged through the British Bulldog arena without much trouble, placing first on the leaderboard. Up against Leighbot, each robot moved forward, and Mortis rammed Leighbot's side. Mortis retaliated with its swift axe. Mortis relented long enough to attack Leighbot broadside, hammering it with its axe a number of times. Mortis then withdrew, driving into a CPZ in the process, but driving out to strike Leighbot who pursued. Matilda attacked, but retreated immediately. Mortis then reversed under Leighbot and used the tanto blade on the axe to flip Leighbot onto its back, ending the match. After this fight, the axe mechanism had broken so its weaponry system was modified to act as a battering ram instead, with the axe shaft sealed and its axe blade protruding from the front wedge.
- "We don't know how successful it's going to be. I guess it's just a case of suck it and see."
- — Arthur Chilcott before the final
When fighting against Recyclopse in the Heat Final, it was very aggressive but caused very little damage, and at one point, accidentally drove onto the arena spikes, being lifted up whilst Matilda attacked it with her chainsaw. After escaping, both robots pushed each other around the arena, with Recyclopse coming close to being flipped over at one point. However, both eventually ended up getting stuck on the arena railings, with Recyclopse hung up in the corner whilst Shunt attacked Mortis from below. The match ended and the judges controversially awarded the win to Recyclopse, much to the dismay of the livid Mortis team.
- "They're not working - we're working. We pushed them out, we had all the attacks, and we think we should've won."
- — Chris Sorsby argues post battle
At the end of the series, Mortis was awarded the Best Engineered Robot Award.
This was Mortis's best series, seeded number 2, higher than all other Grand Finalists (Barring reigning champion Roadblock), even Cassius, who actually defeated it in the previous wars, because Mortis was expected to do so well. It got in a fight with Shunt and Matilda in the Gauntlet, smashing Matilda's camera with its new Tanto Blade. It crossed the line then went back to continue its attack, only to be caught by Shunt and Matilda, and pushed backwards into the pit.
It survived the Joust convincingly, by using its Tanto Blade to hook onto Matilda's chassis and use its tracks to maintain good grip on the platform, preventing her from pushing it off.
It then met Rameses II in the Arena Semi-final. Mortis was the favourite, but Rameses II surprisingly managed to push it into the PPZ. Mortis escaped, but Sir Killalot got hold of Rameses II with its lance, and scorched it over the flame pit, before dropping it back down onto its side, where it was unable to move.
Mortis went through to face Oblivion in the Heat Final. It was by far on top here, whacking Oblivion repeatedly with its Tanto Blade, putting several holes in it and causing massive damage to its top plate. It tried to push it down the pit, but Oblivion held on until time ran out. Despite it having failed to actually immobilize Oblivion, the production team decided there was no need for a judges' discussion and immediately named Mortis as the winner, putting it through into the Semi-finals.
- "Look at that! It's like a sieve!"
- — Jonathan Pearce commenting on the damage done to by the tanto blade
In the Semi-Finals, Mortis completed the Gauntlet despite getting ambushed by Shunt and landing on its back at one point. This caused minor controversy as it tried to self right, but it landed on its side, whereas cease was called for other robots in this position, Mortis was allowed to finish.Its next trial was hugely controversial in the Pinball. Mortis started, but the spikes came up from the floor and broke one of its tracks, preventing it from moving. This meant it went out with 0 points. However Rob Knight was angered as he'd been told the spikes were not to be used in the pinball. So, the production team let Mortis have another go. Rob considered this act unfair, so he refused to control Mortis. With Ben Impey driving, Mortis managed to score at least 75 points, but it was recorded as having gained 100 on the scoreboard. They also got the satisfaction of seeing Sir Killalot drive itself backwards into the Pit.
- "In comes Killalot again. They're cushioned in there, have they done enough? Ooh, Killalot's taking a tumble! He lost his way. Have they lost theirs?"
- — Jonathan Pearce noting Sir Killalot's demise
Mortis faced newcomers Panic Attack in the next round, but Rob, still considering the dubious qualification unfair, refused to drive, so Ben Impey drove again. This, along with the lack of the will to win, was one factor in its downfall, as Panic Attack, with help from Matilda, lifted it up from the side and swept it into the pit for a surprise win, thus ending Mortis' most successful run.
- "Almost flipped-oh goodness me, what a surprise! Mortis have gone out!"
- — Jonathan Pearce makes no attempt to hide the favourites
Mortis returned at the end of the Series in the two Judgement Day Grudge Matches. First it went up against Cassius, as Mortis was beaten by Rex Garrod's Recyclopse in Series 1. Mortis tried to hit Cassius with its axe but missed, it then did hit Cassius causing some damage. However, Mortis then lost mobility in one of its tracks and was stranded near the pit. Cassius took a run up to push Mortis in the pit, but missed and drove down itself. Mortis was then pushed down as well. Then in a comedic moment, Cassius using its flipping ram to push Mortis out of the pit.
Mortis' next Grudge Match was against Napalm, as the Napalm team wanted revenge for their earlier elimination in the Pinball Trials. Mortis started strongly, hacking away at Napalm's armour with its Tanto Blade, doing minor damage to Napalm's wedged front and knocking off one of its rams. Napalm reversed to prepare for another attack (and hopefully to lure Mortis near the hazards), but accidentally drove near the pit, with its wheels hanging over the edge. After holding on for a brief moment the weight of its own weaponry caused it to overbalance and fall backwards into the Precipice, leaving Mortis with a second Judgement Day win. In celebration of its victory, Mortis once again went after the house robots, causing damage before Sir Killalot eventually hooked onto one of its tracks with its lance and simultaneously snapped the track and flipped it over. After the fight, Mortis was shown attempting to right itself with its axe.
- "Is that over the top enough for you?"
- — Arthur Chilcott, as Rob Knight demonstrates the new hands-free device
A redesigned Mortis received good-natured booing from the audience and roboteers in the pits when it returned in Series 3, where it faced newcomers Ming in the first round. After an attack with its axe, Mortis easily lifted Ming over with its new lifting arm causing its spinning blade to fall off, hit the floor and fly across the arena. After this victory, Mortis proceeded to attack Matilda before being ganged up on by all the House Robots, flipped over and pitted by Shunt.
In the second round, Mortis faced another newcomer in Gravedigger, starting well by damaging its front wedge with its Tanto blade. After being flipped sideways into Shunt by Gravedigger, it recovered and began a pushing match with the coffin-shaped machine, but soon afterwards, one of its tracks broke, rendering it only able to drive around in circles, and therefore leaving it vulnerable. It was turned over again by Gravedigger, and then as it tried to self-right, was pushed into the Pit, resulting in the shock elimination of the Series 2 Semi-Finalist and what would be their worst run in Robot Wars.
- "Mortis has a srimech. They can self-right themselves, BUT THEY'RE DANGEROUSLY TOWARDS THE PIT! AND MORTIS HAVE GONE!"
- — Jonathan Pearce as Gravedigger flips Mortis over and then pushes it into the pit
Mortis also entered the Pinball side competition but its luck in Pinball had not improved much and only came out with a score of 60 after getting stuck on the edge of the Pit. This put it in joint 8th with Killerhurtz, only ahead of R.O.C.S. 2.
Mortis then entered the First World Championship and represented England. In the first round it came up against Terror Australis from Australia. Terror Australis didn't move and Mortis axed repeatedly and used its lifting arm to pull off one of its armour panels before cease was called, giving them the win.
In the next round it came up against fellow English team Behemoth. Its luck ran out here, as Behemoth got under it from the front and turned it over. Mortis tried to self-right with its lifting arm, but Behemoth held it down with its shovel, pushing it towards the edge of the pit. Behemoth reversed, seemingly to let Mortis self-right again, but as it was attempting to so, Behemoth turned around, knocking Mortis off balance and causing it to topple sideways into the pit. Mortis also faced Terror Australis again in a special event broadcast during the International League Championship called "The Ashes", which, like its cricketing counterpart, placed an English robot against an Australian robot. The Terror Australis team, using a repainted Nemesis borrowed from the Diotoir team after their own robot irreparably broke down, tried to attack Mortis with its spikes, but Mortis landed some axe blows, before eventually lifting Terror Australis up and pushing it against the arena wall, turning it over and immobilising it. Whilst the House Robots attacked and eventually pitted the immobilised Terror Australis, Mortis could be seen in the background lifting up Shunt from underneath its shovel, pushing it around the arena.
Mortis returned for the Fourth Wars as the twenty-third seed, and fought Iron-Awe and Mazakari in its first round battle. It started by trying to hit Iron-Awe with its axe, but failed to cause significant damage initially, and proceeded to turn Mazakari over with its lifting arm. Mortis then managed to wedge its lifter through Mazakari's disc and chassis, dragging it towards Iron-Awe to allow Iron-Awe to attack Mazakari's exposed chassis. Eventually, the House Robots turned to attack Iron-Awe and Mazakari with Sergeant Bash and Shunt causing damage to Mazakari. The match went to a judges' decision, which went in favour of Mortis and Iron-Awe.
In the second round, Mortis faced main series debutants and Series 3 Pinball competitor Crusader 2. Mortis landed a huge number of blows on Crusader 2, causing damage to its armour and eventually immobilising it on one side, before Crusader 2 sustained more damage from the House Robots, allowing Mortis to move onto the Heat Final.
There, Mortis faced the 7th seeds Steg 2, and was careful to avoid the flipper. However, the lifting arm of Mortis became jammed open, and Steg 2 flipped it over, landing on its front wedge with its arm stuck open, being unable to self-right. Finally, Steg 2 pushed Mortis into the descending pit, ending yet another promising run for Mortis.
- "Not a lot to talk about for Mortis"
- — Jonathan Pearce after Mortis was pitted
However, Mortis did end its Robot Wars career on a high, winning the War of Independence special. It started by easily beating Ghetto-bot, piercing holes into its chassis with its axe and pushing it over the Flame Pit, setting it on fire from the inside doing so. After the House Robots moved in for the kill, Mortis teamed up with Shunt to axe the remains of Ghetto-bot, before taking a moment to attack Sir Killalot, manoeuvring between his weaponry and hitting him in the head repeatedly with its Tanto Blade.
It then went through to a grudge match against Panic Attack in the second round. Even though Panic Attack was aggressive in this fight, at one point pushing Mortis into Sir Killalot, who picked it up with its claw and lifted it into the air, Mortis was able to win on a tight judges' decision, aggressively causing a lot of external damage to the Welsh competitor with its axe, even hacking off its flashing light at one point.
Finally, it defeated the US robot frenZy to win the title, bowling it over from the start and foiling each attempt to self-right, whilst simultaneously hammering it with its Tanto blade. Eventually, frenZy's axe broke down and left it unable to self-right, allowing Mortis to attack its underside with its Tanto blade, before turning it over to the House Robots. This turned out to be Mortis' final televised appearance on Robot Wars.
|MORTIS - RESULTS|
|The First Wars - UK Championship|
|Heat B, Gauntlet||7.40m (3rd)||Qualified|
|Heat B, Trial (British Bulldog)||Completed (1st)||Qualified|
|Heat B, Semi-Final||vs. Leighbot||Won|
|Heat B, Final||vs. Recyclopse||Lost|
|The Second Wars - UK Championship|
2nd Seed, Semi Finals, Arena
|Heat C, Gauntlet||Completed (2nd)||Qualified|
|Heat C, Trial (Joust)||6.1m (1st)||Qualified|
|Heat C, Semi-Final||vs. Rameses II||Won|
|Heat C, Final||vs. Oblivion||Won|
|Semi-Final 1, Gauntlet||Completed (3rd)||Qualified|
|Semi-Final 1, Trial (Pinball)||100pts (3rd)||Qualified|
|Semi-Final 1, Arena||vs. Panic Attack||Lost|
|Judgement Day||vs. Cassius||Won|
|Judgement Day 2||vs. Napalm||Won|
|The Third Wars - UK Championship|
Heat, Round 2
|Heat F, Round 1||vs. Ming||Won|
|Heat F, Round 2||vs. Gravedigger||Lost|
Joint Eighth Place (with Killerhurtz)
|The First World Championship|
Representing UK, Quarter-Finals
|Eliminator||vs. Terror Australis (AUS)||Won|
|Quarter-Final||vs. Behemoth (UK)||Lost|
|International League Championship|
The Ashes, Representing UK
|The Ashes||vs. Terror Australis (AUS)||Won|
|The Fourth Wars - UK Championship|
23rd Seed, Heat Final
|Heat D, Eliminator||vs. Iron-Awe, Mazakari||Qualified|
|Heat D, Semi-Final||vs. Crusader 2||Won|
|Heat D, Final||vs. Steg 2 (7)||Lost|
|War of Independence|
Representing UK, Champion
|Round 1||vs. Ghetto-bot (USA)||Won|
|Round 2||vs. Panic Attack (UK)||Won|
|Final||vs. frenZy (USA)||Won|
- Wins: 13
- Losses: 5
|The First Wars||Heat Final|
|The Second Wars|| Semi-Finals, Arena|
Super Showdown with Minotaur
|The Third Wars||Heat, Round 2|
|The Fourth Wars||Heat Final|
|The Fifth Wars||Did not enter|
|The Sixth Wars||Did not enter|
|The Seventh Wars||Missed qualifiers|
|Series 8||Did not enter|
|Series 9||Did not enter|
Outside Robot WarsEdit
Mortis was one of several robots that travelled to the US to enter BattleBots. It first competed at the 1999 Pay-Per-View event in Las Vegas, where it beat Monster and Tazbot to reach the last eight in the heavyweight division, but lost to Voltronic on a Judges' decision. The latter battle is notable for being one of only two occasions where Mortis self-righted successfully in a televised fight without being pitted, the other being in its Series 3 fight against Ming. Mortis also won the Most Aggressive Robot Award in this season.
It later returned in Season 2.0, beating Berzerker 2000 by forfeit to reach the last sixteen, but lost out to Nightmare. In both seasons, Mortis fought in the heavyweight rumbles, but both times, it was immobilised much like it was in Series 4 - flipped over after its lifting arm jammed open. The team planned to enter a future series of BattleBots with the similar looking Maelstrom, but did not.
In September 2009, Mortis, stripped of its motors and electronics, was given away to Team Bud. Team Bud was working on restoring Mortis, along with its fellow Random Violence Technology robots Minotaur and Maelstrom (since renamed "RigorMortis") to working condition. However, since then, Mortis was given to John Findlay of Team Roaming Robots, and Mortis has recently been sold on once more, to a team that entered the reboot of BattleBots with a new robot. The owner of Mortis also owns Rigamortis.
Meanwhile, team members Arthur Chilcott & Rob Knight have since moved and have their own places in France nowadays. Arthur is retired from engineering but is happy to give advice to roboteers and also made an appearance at the 2013 European Championships where he was judging the event alongside Stuart Barnwell & Andrew Marchant. Rob now runs The Robot Studio, a robotics orientated business that supplies robotic systems created for entertainment or research.
Appearances in MerchandiseEdit
- Mortis is one of nine UK Series Competitors to have fought in BattleBots, going to BattleBots 99 in Las Vegas and came back with the "Most Aggressive Robot" award. It returned for Season 2.0 and reached the last 16, losing out to Nightmare.
- Mortis is one of 23 robots to have completed The Gauntlet, and, along with Dreadnaut, Nemesis and Roadblock, is one of four robots to have completed it twice.
- Mortis was profiled in Robot Wars: The Ultimate Guide.
- Mortis' depreciation from 2nd seeds in Series 2 to 23rd seeds in Series 4 was the highest decline in seeding of any robot, not counting robots that lost their seeding entirely.
- Mortis was nominated for the Best Engineered Award in Series 2 after winning in Series 1, but lost to The Mule. Along with Nemesis and Chaos 2, Mortis is one of only three robots to be nominated for the award it held the previous year, and then not win it.
- Mortis was one of four robots to fight in both Series 1 and 4. Coincidentally, the War of Independence was the final appearance of another, Detonator, as well as Mortis.
- Mortis was the only seeded Semi-Finalist of Series 2 not to make the Grand Final.
- Mortis was the first UK robot to attempt to self right with an axe.
- Mortis and Plunderbird 1 were the only robots in Series 1 to have tracks.
- Mortis was intended to have a lifting mechanism for Series 2; however the mechanism broke days before the filming and so it was delayed until Series 3. The mechanism is visible on Mortis during Arthur Chilcott's talking pieces during the Robot Builder's Guide, released as part of The First Great War.
- According to Rob Knight, Mortis was originally going to have a faster axe for The Fourth Wars. It was changed a little so that it could hit quicker.
- Mortis and Killertron were the first heat finalists to become semi-finalists in subsequent series.
|Honourable Mention in The Combat Robot Hall of Fame|