- "Man may have tempered the spectre of nuclear evil. But tonight I have the unenviable task of reporting that warfare has been taken out of man's hands. We're now at the mercy of machines, and a battle, the likes of which we've never seen before, is about to begin. Outside the studio, women have lashed themselves to the railings. Britain is about to witness the birth...of Robot Wars, which is all about robots...fighting."
- — Jeremy Clarkson's introduction to Heat A
Robot Wars: The First Wars was the first series of the British television game show Robot Wars. It was originally broadcast in early 1998 on BBC Two (and repeated twice more, first in the Autumn of that year, prior to the start of The Second Wars, and again in the Spring of 1999 on BBC One). The series was hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, the pit reporter was Philippa Forrester and commentary was provided by Jonathan Pearce.
The series consisted of six heats, with six robots competing in each heat. The six winners from the heats moved onto the Grand Final. In each heat, the six robots would compete through a series of three challenges - the Gauntlet, the Trial and the Arena.
- The Gauntlet was an assault course with three separate routes, each filled with various hazards and guarded by the House Robots. Competitor robots had to make their way as far down the course as possible in the time allowed. The robot covering the shortest distance by the end of the stage was eliminated, leaving five robots to continue.
- The Trial was a set challenge which varied from heat to heat. Events held during the course of the series included Sumo, British Bulldog, Football, Stock Car, Labyrinth and Snooker, each with their own specific objectives and goals. The lowest-performing robot from each Trial would be eliminated, allowing four robots to continue.
- The Arena was the first combat stage for the remaining robots, which were paired off and fought in one-on-one battles. As the stage's name implies, each battle was held in the main Robot Wars Arena, which featured various hazards including the House Robots. Two winning robots from the Arena stage would face each other in the Heat Final, where the winner would progress to the Grand Final.
In the Grand Final, which was held at the end of the final heat, the six heat winners fought each other in a single melee battle to determine the series champion.
Although no special events took place throughout the First Wars, highlights from the preceding US Robot Wars events were shown at various points throughout Heat D. These included a battle from the 1995 UK Open Competition between The Master and Thor, and montages from the 1996 US Robot Wars competition.
- Main article: Robot Wars: The First Wars/Heat A
Gauntlet: Barry eliminated
Trial (Sumo): Grunt eliminated
- Nemesis vs Roadblock: Roadblock won
- Killertron vs Shogun: Killertron won
- Killertron vs Roadblock: Roadblock won
- Main article: Robot Wars: The First Wars/Heat B
Gauntlet: Uglybot eliminated
Trial (British Bulldog): Detonator eliminated
- Recyclopse vs Scrapper: Recyclopse won
- Mortis vs Leighbot: Mortis won
- Mortis vs Recyclopse: Recyclopse won
- Main article: Robot Wars: The First Wars/Heat C
Gauntlet: Plunderbird 1 eliminated
Trial (Football): WYSIWYG eliminated
- Robot The Bruce vs Cruella: Robot The Bruce won
- Dreadnaut vs Wedgehog: Wedgehog won
- Robot The Bruce vs Wedgehog: Robot The Bruce won
- Main article: Robot Wars: The First Wars/Heat D
Gauntlet: Vector of Armageddon eliminated
Trial (Stock Car): Krayzee Tokyo eliminated
- Cunning Plan vs Bugs: Cunning Plan won
- The Demolisher vs SAT'arn: The Demolisher won
- Cunning Plan vs The Demolisher: Cunning Plan won
- Main article: Robot Wars: The First Wars/Heat E
Gauntlet: Wharthog eliminated
Trial (Labyrinth): Psychosprout eliminated
- Bodyhammer vs Torque of the Devil: Bodyhammer won
- REALI-T vs Full Metal Anorak: REALI-T won
- Bodyhammer vs REALI-T: Bodyhammer won
- Main article: Robot Wars: The First Wars/Heat F
Gauntlet: Elvis eliminated
Trial (Snooker): Eubank the Mouse eliminated
- Skarab vs The Blob: Skarab won
- Prince of Darkness vs T.R.A.C.I.E.: T.R.A.C.I.E. won
- Skarab vs T.R.A.C.I.E.: T.R.A.C.I.E. won
- Main article: Robot Wars: The First Wars/Grand Final
First Wars Grand Champion: Roadblock
- Main article: Robot Wars Awards
These are the winners of the various awards given out at the end of the series:
- Best Design: Plunderbird 1
- Best Engineered: Mortis
- Most Original Entry: Psychosprout
- Sportsmanship Award: Nemesis
- Main article: Robot Wars: The First Great War
The highlights of the First Series were later released on video.