"Spookily coffin-shaped, with a hydraulic arm to raise any dead metal in its way."
Jonathan Pearce

Gravedigger was a competitor robot that fought in Series 3-5 of Robot Wars. It reached the Semi-Finals in Series 3, famously defeating Mortis in its heat, but did not enjoy great success thereafter, being eliminated in the first round in both Series 4 and 5 by Thermidor 2 and Tornado respectively. After its Series 5 defeat, Gravedigger, along with its team, retired from Robot Wars, and did not appear in any other subsequent series.


Gravedigger S3

Gravedigger in the arena for Series 3

When it debuted in Series 3, Gravedigger was a brown wedge-shaped robot designed to resemble a coffin, armoured in steel and featuring a front-hinged flipping arm as its weapon, which the team claimed was powered hydraulically by a 2 tonne ram. It bore a close resemblance to Series 2 runners-up Cassius, and cost £2,500 to build over four months, but had a low top speed of 5mph, powered by 2x 1Hp motors. Gravedigger was 2-wheel driven, and it also had a castor wheel at the back, a feature that was removed for Series 4 and 5.

Gravedigger S4

Gravedigger in the arena for Series 4

In Series 4, Gravedigger underwent a comprehensive redesign, with the chassis and bodywork modified to feature a taller wedge. Its flipping arm was also fitted with a rear scoop which allowed it to flip robots from the rear as well as the front, while its steel armour was swapped for aluminium and the robot's top panels bore artwork depicting a laughing moon and the Grim Reaper. Additionally, Gravedigger's top speed was increased to 8mph as a result of it adopting go-kart wheels and tyres. However, the rear scoop was unable to reach the floor, its electronics were contained in an OXO tin, and the team had to tone down the power of its flipping arm after it bent under its own weight during testing.

Gravedigger Arena

Gravedigger enters the arena in Series 5

For Series 5, Gravedigger's flipping arm was converted into an axe. The rear of the arm was also retained to act as a rear lifter - although in this incarnation of the machine it was no longer on the arena floor. The robot's front wedge was partially compromised in favour of an axe rest at the front, which was armed with a small static spike. This version of Gravedigger also had additional artwork placed on the underside of the machine - while the robot itself gained a further 9kg of overall weight. The axe was powerful enough to bring Gravedigger off the arena floor when firing the weapon, although the weapon's effectiveness was hardly demonstrated in its only battle in the series.

Qualification Edit

Gravedigger s5 qualifiers

Gravedigger at the Fifth Wars qualifiers

The original Gravedigger initially attended auditions to qualify for the Third Wars where it was successful. As it was seeded it did not need to attend any qualifiers for the Fourth Series of Robot Wars. However, for the Fifth Wars, Gravedigger attended the qualifiers, however it is unknown who they fought or if they won or not, nonetheless they were successful in qualifying for the series.

Robot HistoryEdit

Series 3Edit

"It's gonna shove the opposition right out of the arena."
— Dave Chaplin
Gravedigger Manic Mutant

Gravedigger is attacked from behind by Manic Mutant

In Heat F of the Third Wars, Gravedigger was drawn up against fellow newcomers Manic Mutant in its first round battle. Manic Mutant was much faster off the line than Gravedigger, but Gravedigger twisted round rand rammed into Manic Mutant's side. Gravedigger charged at its opponent again, but Manic Mutant dodged its attack and started shoving it from behind. Although it was initially pushed forwards, Gravedigger was quickly able to retaliate with a reverse push of its own, firing the flipping arm at thin air as it did so.

"Now we'll see the pushing power of Manic Mutant, and Gravedigger actually heaving back."
— Jonathan Pearce
Gravedigger vs manic mutant

Gravedigger misses its first flip...

Gravedigger turned around sluggishly whilst Manic Mutant backed away for a charge, and it warded off the resulting ram easily. Gravedigger then exposed its side to another, more powerful charge from Manic Mutant, but it still didn't suffer any damage from the attack. Manic Mutant then slid up Gravedigger's wedge, but when Gravedigger fired the flipping arm, nothing happened, as its opponent wasn't on the arm. Readjusting its position with a small turn ensured that Manic Mutant was on the flipping arm, and Gravedigger capitalised by forcing Manic Mutant over and onto its back.


... but throws over Manic Mutant with its second flip

"You can see, there, the lifting arm of Gravedigger - OH - and flipping Manic Mutant up and over, and that's the end of Manic Mutant!"
— Jonathan Pearce

Manic Mutant had no srimech, and was deemed immobilised, with cease being called immediately after the flip. As a result, Gravedigger was declared the winner of the battle.

"Gravedigger sends Manic Mutant to an early grave!"
Craig Charles
Mortis Gravedigger

Gravedigger struggles early on in the battle with Mortis

Gravedigger was then drawn up against the Heat favourites Mortis in the second round. This was a battle where everyone in the pits was rooting for Gravedigger. In the battle, Mortis immediately went on the attack with its axe, pushing Gravedigger from the side, towards the CPZ, and axing the top of the newcomers. Gravedigger reversed away from Mortis and had its wedge punctured by Mortis' axe near the bottom. Mortis then forced Gravedigger into Shunt, lifting it up while the House Robot axed Gravedigger's front, gauging another hole into the wedge.

"Look at that damage immediately sustained by Gravedigger from Shunt!"
— Jonathan Pearce
Mortis Gravedigger 1

Gravedigger thrusts Mortis over

Gravedigger slipped off Mortis' lifter as it was bundled closer towards Shunt, who dented the armour near the flipping arm. As Gravedigger flicked its arm up (lifting Shunt's axe away from its body as it did so), Shunt lifted it up slightly with the front scoop. Eventually, Gravedigger escaped from Shunt, just as Mortis came in for an attack. Shunt axed Mortis and then lifted it onto the top of Gravedigger's wedge, and Mortis was flipped onto its side. Mortis quickly fell back onto its tracks, and Gravedigger used its lower front to push it slowly towards the pit.

"First of all, it was Mortis pushing Gravedigger onto Shunt, then vice versa, turning Mortis up and over."
— Jonathan Pearce
Mortis axes gravedigger

Gravedigger is axed by Mortis late on

Gravedigger backed off, and it was clear by this point that Mortis' right track had jammed during the pushing contest. After Gravedigger sustained another puncture from Mortis' axe, both the lifting arm and the axe of Mortis appeared to jam briefly. Wary of the axe, Gravedigger attempted to get round Mortis' sides. Gravedigger then drove underneath Mortis and almost tipped it over, despite missing with the flipping arm. However, Mortis landed back on Gravedigger's wedge, and Gravedigger turned to position Mortis on the arm, and flipped it onto its back, before pushing it down into the pit of oblivion for the win, much to the delight of the spectators in the pits.

Mortis pitted 3

Gravedigger sinks Mortis into the pit

"It's Gravedigger, now, certainly with the impotency to go on and win this. They can flip Mortis - Mortis has a srimech and can self-right themselves, but they're dangerously towards the pit, and Mortis have gone!"
— Jonathan Pearce as Gravedigger defeats Mortis

Gravedigger then attacked the House Robots and almost ripped off Matilda's shell, but Matilda fought back and lifted Gravedigger up slightly with her tusks, while Shunt axed Gravedigger's shell twice more before cease was called.

Craig Charles: "Well you've beaten the best robot, do you think you can go on and win this thing now?"
Jonathan Chaplin: "We can try."
Dave Chaplin: "Well, we'll have to repair it first!"
— Interview after the fight with Mortis
Gravedigger heat final

Gravedigger, as it looked before the Heat Final began

In the heat final, a scratched, patched up Gravedigger went up against fellow newcomers, The Darke Destroyer. This battle was rather slow to begin with, since Gravedigger was hesitant to attack The Darke Destroyer early on, perhaps wary of the blades. It nudged into The Darke Destroyer's front, shoving it briefly, but it was unable to get the flipping arm into play. The Darke Destroyer slipped off Gravedigger, but its blades caused no damage when they hit Gravedigger's side.

"Gravedigger, just coming in underneath The Darke Destroyer, and trying to use that lifting arm, the blade scratching really, at the surface of Gravedigger, nothing more."
— Jonathan Pearce
Gravedigger vs darke destroyer missed flip

Gravedigger fails to flip over The Darke Destroyer

After failing to breach its opponent from the side, Gravedigger twisted round and pressured The Darke Destroyer towards the Flame Pit, sustaining scratches to the bodywork from the blades as it did so. Gravedigger then pushed The Darke Destroyer directly onto the Flame Pit, before Dead Metal attacked it. Gravedigger failed to breach The Darke Destroyer yet again, deflecting away to the side, allowing its opponent to catch one of its blades in the back of Gravedigger briefly. Gravedigger quickly retreated and charged, flicking its arm up as it made contact, but once again it failed to get underneath. Finally, Gravedigger got underneath The Darke Destroyer from behind and threw it across the arena, but it landed on its wheels.

Darke Destroyer Gravedigger

Gravedigger's shell is scratched by The Darke Destroyer

"A very, very tight and tense heat final, and there, the lifting arm flipping The Darke Destroyer up, but not over."
— Jonathan Pearce

The Darke Destroyer was briefly caught in Dead Metal's grip, but it escaped, and Gravedigger came side-to-side with it, each machine seeking to gain an advantage. Gravedigger was able to take the initiative first, shoving The Darke Destroyer into the arena wall.

"Patched up, bloodied and bruised, but edging The Darke Destroyer towards the arena wall, and at the same time steering itself away from that blade."
— Jonathan Pearce
Gravedigger vs dd

Gravedigger's flip on The Darke Destroyer is intercepted by the Floor Spikes

As Gravedigger attempted to flip The Darke Destroyer into Shunt's CPZ, an arena spike threw The Darke Destroyer over instead, rendering it immobile. Gravedigger then backed off for Shunt to axe the defeated machine, and Dead Metal also came in to slice The Darke Destroyer. Gravedigger then decided to shove around Sgt. Bash, as it exited its CPZ, but little was done to either machine. Cease was eventually called and Gravedigger was declared the winner, putting it through to the Series Semi-Finals.

"Well, how cocky can you get?"
— Jonathan Pearce, as Gravedigger takes on Sgt. Bash
Steg-o-saw-us vs gravedigger

Gravedigger shoves Steg-O-Saw-Us into the arena wall

In the Series Semi-Finals, Gravedigger was drawn up against Steg-O-Saw-Us. Gravedigger initially charged at Steg-O-Saw-Us, but Steg-O-Saw-Us darted round its side. However, it was slow to respond, and Gravedigger caught up to it, nudging Steg-O-Saw-Us from behind and pressuring it over the Flame Pit. Giving chase once more, Gravedigger was unable to catch the more nimble Steg-O-Saw-Us, who then turned to face Gravedigger, pushing it briefly in a circle from the side. The two machines then drove head-on into each other, with Gravedigger's powerful drive giving it significant resistance against Steg-O-Saw-Us' signature push, allowing it to shove Steg-O-Saw-Us into the arena wall at the edge of Sir Killalot's CPZ.

"[Steg-O-Saw-Us] now being pushed by Gravedigger dangerously backwards, to the arena wall and Killalot!"
— Jonathan Pearce
Gravedigger vs Steg-O-Saw-Us

Gravedigger flips up Steg-O-Saw-Us

The House Robot pushed forwards, forcing Steg-O-Saw-Us onto Gravedigger's wedge. Gravedigger immediately responded with a flip, almost toppling Steg-O-Saw-Us over. Thanks to its tail, however, Steg-O-Saw-Us was able to remain grounded, and Gravedigger drove forwards to try and tip it over from a different angle, to no avail.

"Gravedigger in the ascendancy here, Steg-O-Saw-Us has something to do."
— Jonathan Pearce
Gravedigger Steg SF2

Steg-O-Saw-Us' tail was unable to help it against Gravedigger

Both robots reversed away from Sir Killalot and engaged near the centre of the arena, with Steg-O-Saw-Us able to get round Gravedigger's side once more for a brief push. Both robots circled side-by-side, and Gravedigger briefly got behind Steg-O-Saw-Us, but failed to breach its ground clearance. Gravedigger then shoved Steg-O-Saw-Us over the Flame Pit and achieved a second successful flip, tipping it onto its side by Matilda's CPZ, but Steg-O-Saw-Us was righted by the House Robot's tusks, and the House Robot then shoved Gravedigger away from its opponent.

Gravedigger flips Steg

Gravedigger's second significant attack on Steg-O-Saw-Us

"Gravedigger's lifting arm can also be used as a srimech mechanism, a self-righting mechanism, and also lifts Steg-O-Saw-Us up onto its side, but it comes crashing down!"
— Jonathan Pearce

Steg-O-Saw-Us was finally able bring its tail into play, but its first attack barely lifted Gravedigger off the ground, and its second attack succeeded only in raising its whole body off the ground. The battle ended with Steg-O-Saw-Us pushing Gravedigger slowly round in circles, with Shunt succesfully separating them with seconds to go.

Gravedigger Steg-O-Saw-Us SF2-2

Gravedigger is shoved around with seconds to go

Gravedigger was shoved around in a circle by Steg-O-Saw-Us once more before cease was called. The match went to a judges' decision, which went in favour of Steg-O-Saw-Us, despite the two flips and Jonathan Pearce's assertions that Gravedigger had been more aggressive.

"Well, what do I know?"
Jonathan Pearce, following the decision, after believing Gravedigger should have won

Series 4Edit

"Capable of sinking any opponent six feet under!"
— Jonathan Pearce, on the new lifting arm

A redesigned Gravedigger returned for the Fourth Wars as the number 13 seeds, where it was drawn up against Kronic the Wedgehog and Thermidor 2 in its eliminator. The team encountered serious issues with the robot's flipping arm during testing (see Design); the arm itself did not work at all during the battle itself.

Thermidor2 vs gravedigger vs kronic

Gravedigger slides underneath Thermidor 2

Gravedigger vs thermidor 2 vs kronic 1

Gravedigger tries to get underneath Kronic the Wedgehog, attacking Thermidor 2 in convoy

This was evident from activate, as Gravedigger easily slid under Kronic the Wedgehog from behind, but failed to register a flip. Gravedigger reversed away then charged at Kronic the Wedgehog's side, but failed to get underneath this time. While Kronic the Wedgehog flipped Thermidor 2, Gravedigger launched another attack from behind, but deflected off it into Shunt's CPZ, where it sustained an axe blow for its troubles.

"Kronic the Wedgehog buffeted by Gravedigger, the seeded robot in this eliminator, seeded 13 and pushing in again on the back of the Wedgehog."
— Jonathan Pearce
Gravedigger vs kronic

Kronic mistimes a flip and is wedged by Gravedigger

It slammed into Kronic the Wedgehog again, over the Pit of Oblivion, and then slipped underneath Thermidor 2 easily, but it still could not fire its flipping arm. Gravedigger then became caught between Thermidor 2 and Kronic the Wedgehog when the latter was flipped up slightly, its front landing on Gravedigger's side. Spinning away, Gravedigger rammed into Kronic the Wedgehog yet again.


Gravedigger is lifted onto the arena wall by Kronic the Wedgehog

"I think Gravedigger has a problem with that weapon; we heard beforehand they had to readjust it, and I don't think the operating arm is operating!"
— Jonathan Pearce

As Thermidor 2 took damage to one of the claws, Gravedigger was suddenly onto the arena side wall by Kronic the Wedgehog. This meant Gravedigger was unable to move, before Thermidor 2 came in and flipped the seeded machine onto its side.

Gravedigger flipped

Gravedigger is flipped by Thermidor 2

"And Gravedigger's on its side! Gravedigger, the seeded robot, in major, major trouble here, it was Thermidor doing the damage... Gravedigger could be in a coffin here."
— Jonathan Pearce

Sir Killalot throws Gravedigger

With the flipping arm not working, Gravedigger couldn't self-right, and was deemed immobilised. The house robots then moved in for the kill, Sir Killalot plucked it up by the lifting arm and spun it around wildly, before throwing Gravedigger back onto its wheels, where it charged at Matilda. By this point it was too late for Gravedigger though, despite engaging with Thermidor 2 again, and it finished by slipping underneath Kronic the Wedgehog's side, but it was deemed immobilised when cease was called.

Julia Reed: "You were seeded as well. What number?"
Jon Chaplin: "Number 13."
Julia Reed: "Unlucky for some, eh?"
— Post-battle

Series 5Edit

"Lined up to enter the arena first, Tornado, hoping to send Gravedigger six feet under."
Philippa Forrester before the battle
Gravedigger Axes Tornado

Gravedigger axes Tornado

With the new axe weapon, Gravedigger had a tough draw in the first round of the Fifth Wars, as it was drawn up against the number 12 seeds and fellow previous semi-finalists Tornado. Gravedigger charged at Tornado immediately, but missed its hit with its axe by considerable distance, as Tornado darted around it. It fired the axe again as Tornado rammed into it from behind, unable to push it across the arena floor.

"See the axe coming down of Gravedigger there, with such power it actually rocked the machine."
— Jonathan Pearce

The former Semi-Finalists lock horns

Gravedigger then turned into Tornado, smashing its axe down onto the top of the seeded machine. As Tornado attempted to get round its side, Gravedigger launched another attack, pinning Tornado with the axe and allowing Gravedigger to briefly drag Tornado across the arena floor. Once Gravedigger released its grip, Tornado slammed into its side and pushed it across the arena and into the side wall. Gravedigger missed its next attack, before Tornado attacked it from behind again. Gravedigger fired its rear lifter, but Tornado simply shoved it into the path of Sergeant Bash. It was then shoved across the width of the arena and into another side wall, immobilising the Series 3 semi-finalist in the process.

"A very good performance by Tornado has left Gravedigger immobilised, right from the start..."
— Jonathan Pearce
Gravedigger flame pit

Gravedigger is held over the Flame Pit by Sir Killalot

Sir Killalot grabbed Gravedigger's double headed axe and carried it for a bit, before letting it down for Refbot to count it out, with Tornado gently nudging Gravedigger all the while. Sir Killalot then carried Gravedigger by its axe and dangled it over the Flame Pit briefly.

"They already have their grave dug by Tornado, and Sir Killalot is about to conduct the cremation of the Gravedigger... and Gravedigger about to be placed six feet under."
— Jonathan Pearce
Gravedigger pitted

Gravedigger ends the fight in the pit

After this, it was dragged towards the pit by Sir Killalot, revealing a sad face on the underside of Gravedigger. The House Robots then allowed Tornado to finish off Gravedigger. It took a few light shoves, but soon Gravedigger was forced down into the pit of oblivion, eliminating it from the competition. Gravedigger was retired after this loss.

"When it first started out, I thought Gravedigger looked fairly dangerous."
Craig Charles, to the victorious Tornado team


Series 3
The Third Wars - UK Championship
Semi-Finals, Round 1
Heat F, Round 1 vs. Manic Mutant Won
Heat F, Round 2 vs. Mortis Won
Heat F, Final vs. The Darke Destroyer Won
Semi-Final 2, Round 1 vs. Steg-O-Saw-Us Lost
Series 4
The Fourth Wars - UK Championship
13th Seed, Heat, Round 1
Heat G, Eliminator vs. Kronic the Wedgehog, Thermidor 2 Eliminated
Series 5
The Fifth Wars - UK Championship
Heat, Round 1
Heat G, Eliminator vs. Tornado (12) Lost


  • Wins: 3
  • Losses: 3

Series RecordEdit

  • Gravedigger in the pits in Series 3
  • The team in Series 4
  • The insides of Gravedigger in Series 4
  • Official photo of Gravedigger in Series 5
  • The team in Series 5
Series Gravedigger Series Record
The First Wars Did not enter
The Second Wars Did not enter
The Third Wars Semi-Finals, Round 1
The Fourth Wars Heat, Round 1
The Fifth Wars Heat, Round 1
The Sixth Wars Did not enter
The Seventh Wars Did not enter
Series 8 Did not enter
Series 9 Did not enter
Series 10 Did not enter


  • In its final two appearances in the main competition, Gravedigger fought in Heat G and was defeated in its first battle.
  • Gravedigger was one of six seeds in the Fourth Wars to be eliminated in Round 1 of the main competition, and the second highest ranked seed to go out (being seeded 13th), this also making it the third highest ranked seed in Robot Wars history to go out in Round 1 (excluding Terrorhurtz).
  • Gravedigger, at number 13, was the highest ranked seed to lose its seeding the following series.
  • The original Robot Wars Magazine incorrectly stated Gravedigger as having lost to Spawn of Scutter in Series 4. Gravedigger never fought Team Scutterbots on Robot Wars, despite both teams appearing in the same Heat in the following series.
  • Gravedigger and Thermidor 2 are the only two robots to reach a Semi-Final and then subsequently lose in the first round of the next two series they fought in. Coincidentally, the two fought each other in Series 4, with Gravedigger being defeated in Round 1.
  • Each of Gravedigger's losses were to a robot that competed in Heat G of the corresponding domestic championship (Steg-O-Saw-Us in Series 3, Thermidor 2 in Series 4 and Tornado in Series 5). Gravedigger's loss to Steg-O-Saw-Us was the only one not to take place in the first round of the heats.
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