I’ve made it no secret on this website (and in other places I’m in, mainly social media) that I love Death Battle. I came into the show in its third season when my friend Blane referred me to Toph Vs. Gaara. He knew I loved Avatar The Last Airbender and decided to show me it. I loved it and then spent a weekend catching up on all I’d missed, and was a faithful viewer ever since. And now, the finale of Season 8, Death Battle‘s 10th anniversary season has aired, and it seems only fair that for those ten years I list my personal favorite Top Ten Death Battle Episodes!
NOTE: Again, these are MY personal favorite episodes. We’re all going to like different ones, and that’s fine. Furthermore, I’m mostly focusing on the fights themselves, though some episodes do get extra points for witty banter between Wiz and Boomstick, or the jokes they drop, or the soundtracks, etc. So, now that this is settled, shall we begin?
WARNING!!! I WILL be spoiling some of these Death Battles, so if you haven’t seen some of them yet…you might want to watch them before reading my reactions. You’ve been warned!
Trust me when I say there are a LOT of honorable mentions I could do. There are 150+ episodes of this series, that’s a lot to cover and then whittle down to just 10 “best picks”. There are going to be some controversial picks on here I assure you. But for this list, I’m going to pick two honorable mentions, and they’re ones that deserve a LOT of credit for what was done.
First up is the second Live-Action Death Battle they did, Winter Soldier Vs. Red Hood:
Now, most would say that Nightwing Vs. Daredevil was the better of the two fights done by the epic group Ismahawk. But if you really look at all that went on in these two fights, Solider/Hood was the more intense, more story-driven, and arguably the most fun. Especially with all the big and little details that Ismahawk put into not just the looks of the actors who played Jason Todd (no relation) and Bucky Barnes, but the very area they were in. Seriously, there’s a LOT of Easter Eggs, and this fight definitely deserves a watch. And hopefully, we don’t have to wait too long for the next live-action DB, fans are eager for it.
The second honorable mention is one of three 2D Death Battles I’m mentioning in this list, Naruto Vs. Ichigo. Believe it.
This is one where the episode itself is just as important as the fight. Because these are two LEGENDARY Shonen Jump characters, and their histories are long, complicated, and are at times impossible to understand. So that’s why Naruto Vs. Ichigo is over 28 minutes long. They NEEDED that time to talk about the characters, then do the fight, and then break down why the victor won. It’s not an easy process! Especially when the stats behind these two characters can be hard to determine. So I want to praise the Death Battle crew for pulling it off in style. Especially in regards to Ichigo and Naruto’s various forms.
Then, the battle itself was just plain fun, including being (according to the team) the first time Ichigo had his final form animated in any capacity. And they didn’t hold back on Naruto and his forms either. Heck, they even got Johnny Young Bosch to be the voice of Ichigo once again (I met him recently, he loved doing this episode for the fans). This episode very nearly made it into the main list, so I had to make a mention of it somehow.
So now that those two are out of the way, let’s get to my true top ten Death Battle episodes!
10. Hulk Vs. Broly
What does it take to make a great Death Battle? A good matchup, a fun fight (animation-wise), great voice acting (when applicable of course), and then…a great soundtrack. When DB released the teaser for the Season 7 finale, they blasted the song “Ikari” (made by Therewolf Media) and I was hyped from the word go.
I have my own YouTube show where I predict DB results and then do reaction vids. And for this matchup I made sure I watched the Dragon Ball Super: Broly movie just so I knew who I was dealing with, and I’m so glad I did. That’s the thing that Death Battle does, it challenges you to go and watch things you wouldn’t watch otherwise so you can greater appreciate the battles themselves.
Getting back to the episode, this fight was so much fun not just because it was an over-the-top 3D finale, but because they went all-out with the voice acting, the fight animations, the powers of these characters, and yes, the soundtrack.
My adrenaline spikes every time I hear that song and watch this fight. It’s very fun seeing Broly and Hulk swap famous lines, and the levels that their powers are showcased.
I even noted in an article for another site that this was the perfect way to end not just the season, but 2020 as a whole, because these two literally broke the universe…and I loved every minute of it.
9. Kirby Vs. Majin Buu
Ok…this is a controversial pick, but hey, it’s my list, and I have a good reason for putting it here.
Just in case you don’t know, the reason this is a bit controversial is that because of Dragon Ball Super (which came well after this fight), some think that Majin Buu would beat Kirby now. Whether that’s true or not…not sure, so I’m judging this by what this episode is, and it’s awesome.
Not the least of which is that not a lot of people know the true power and backstory of Kirby! It’s deep and terrifying. He’s 8-inches tall but can crack a planet in half. Go, Kirby!
Fast forward to the fight, and you get what I personally believe is the best sprite-fight Death Battle has ever done. And yeah, that’s saying something because there’s a LOT of great sprite fights done by the various DB teams. But the reason this one worked for me was because of the variety, intensity, and at times, hilarity of it all.
We got to see Kirby steal Majin Buu’s food, we saw Kirby scared because of almost being turned into food, a Dream Land character screaming for his life as Majin Buu gets ready to absorb him, and so on.
But don’t knock the fight animation itself, it’s DEEP. Including showing multiple Kirby abilities, Fat Buu turning into Kid Buu, the use of the Star Rod and Miracle Fruit, and more! It’s REALLY good, and up until a few seasons ago, I would’ve put this in my Top 5 Death Battles for how quality this one was.
Is the fight result different now? Maybe. Is the fight still fun to watch now? Oh yeah.
Fun fact, this match-up was supposed to be Kirby Vs. Ditto originally…I’m glad they changed that.
8. Thanos Vs. Darkseid
For quite some time, Thanos Vs. Darkseid was the most-requested Death Battle episode. And it’s not hard to see why. This was a match-up of ultimate comic book big bads. The eternal “final bosses” if you will of the Justice League and the Avengers. So they had to get this one right.
And to that end, this is the 3rd-longest Death Battle ever behind Naruto vs. Ichigo and a certain fight you all will see later. They went deep into the backstories of Darkseid and Thanos, their abilities, their motivations, and all that makes them evil and powerful.
Then you get to the soundtrack, Kings of Infinity, which was sung by OmegaSparx (who assisted on other DB tracks as well), and it totally sets the tone for one of the best fights DB has ever done.
It starts simple, with each character feeling each other out, and then, it goes insane with the powers. From Darkseid’s Omega Beams to Thanos using the Infinity Gauntlet in various ways, to Darkseid becoming his true size and CRUSHING A BLACK HOLE WITH HIS HAND!!! And of course, the journey to the 4th World where the true victor is decided.
The look, feel, and sound of this fight is darn-near perfect. Whenever someone asks who would win between these two online? I legit show them this video because it answers that question very well.
Who’s the best? Darkseid is.
7. Obi-Wan Vs. Kakashi
Sometimes, fights just look cool. Ever since Ganon vs. Dracula (which also almost got on my list), Death Battle found themselves with a new way to make epic 3D fights and Obi-Wan Vs. Kakashi was one of the best uses of that new engine. Oh yeah, this one never gets old to watch.
This is definitely one of the episodes where “all of it is fun,” not the least of which is the “Obi-One-Liners” that they dropped rapid fire both in the breakdown, the fight, and the results (“From a certain point of view”).
But in the fight itself, they showcased everything you wanted to see in a fight between a Jedi and a top-tier ninja. Force powers? Check. Jutsus out the wazoo? Check. Plenty of references and one-liners? Triple check!
The battle just had an intense, yet calm feel that’s hard to describe at times. Kakashi at first was dodging Obi-Wan while holding onto his book! Boss. Obi-Wan had multiple cool moments too, including using his Force training to not fall for the Sharingan illusions. It was back and forth and I loved it.
The clincher for me though was the final seconds. Kakashi brings forth his lightning and drive (“Don’t give up”) while Obi-Wan remembers who he is (“Trust in the Force”), and a clash occurs. For a second or two, you don’t know who wins…until Kakashi literally falls to pieces.
I do ask you don’t debate me on the placement of this episode, after all…I have the high ground.
6. Machamp Vs. Goro
Let’s be honest here for a second if there’s something that Death Battle has loved to do from season 1 to now? It’s screw with people. Not in terms of results, but the matchups themselves. Never forget, we saw THREE My Little Ponies in DB, as well as some really deep-cut characters like Lucy from Elfen Lied going up against Carnage, and apparently…more of that’s in the future. This brings us to another possibly controversial pick, especially given how high it is on my list…Goro Vs. Machamp.
This is a fight that was talked about FOREVER in Death Battle chats, and specifically, the Death BattleCast. The joke is that this matchup works because they’re two fighters with four arms. What more do you need to know?
And sure enough, they did this fight last season, and it was awesome. Ben Singer and Chad James (the leads for Death Battle and voices for Wiz and Boomstick) noted that they LOVED doing this episode because of the absurdity of the Pokemon world, and the fact they got to tackle Machamp’s breakdown like an “Animal Planet documentary”.
Then, the fight came out and…it was so good!!!! Seriously, it had no reason to be this good, especially since only one of the characters is really talking (to be clear, they brought in a voice actor to say “Machamp” like a hundred different ways, that’s dedication!), but it didn’t matter.
The choreography mixed with a great soundtrack made it a hilariously epic fight. From Machamp doing the Seismic Toss (in a way that mimicked Raiden’s finisher in a recent Mortal Kombat game) to Goro unleashing his dragon fire, to the final flurry of Machamp to seal the deal, it was awesome. And hilarious.
Wackiness and unexpected epicness is really the trademark of Death Battle, and this battle shows what happens when that is cranked up to eleven.
5. Samurai Jack Vs. Afro Samurai
Let me tell you the story of a man named Luis Cruz.
Luis was brought on to the Death Battle animation team a few seasons back (and now LEADS the animation squad as their Director! Go Luis!) to help make sprite fights. And he was REALLY good at it, and his personal mission is to make every 2D fight better and better and not rest on their laurels.
But then, during a party with the DB team, Luis got a little drunk and approached Ben Singer and Chad James about doing their first in-house hand-drawn DB animation. The episode he wanted to do? Samurai Jack Vs. Afro Samurai.
Samurai Jack is one of my favorite animated series of all time, so I was already excited to see this fight. But the detail Luis (who did all the animation on his own!) put into the hand-drawn style was incredible. From the references to both shows (the setting is from the epic episode with the Scotsman), to the great voice acting, to the cleverness of the choreography, and the final sequence which is arguably one of the most bloody and gory things DB has ever done.
Add that to a music track that fits the samurai style of both Jack and Afro, and how can you not have this so high on this list? Keep up the great work, Luis!
4. All Might Vs. Might Guy
If you want to know the Death Battle that has steadily gone up my list the more I watched it? It’s this fight. And for very fair and honest reasons.
When this was revealed as the Season 6 finale, I honestly didn’t care that much. They had teased this before, but I had not watched My Hero Academia at the time, and I still haven’t watched Naruto.
But, as with most Death Battles, the fight itself will make you not care about the media you haven’t partaken in, and trust me when I say that this fight is truly…Mighty.
Not the least of which is that they start this fight in the most atypical way ever! With an arm-wrestling contest! These are two guys who are just happy to have competition…and then it quickly escalates from there. Death Battle’s legendary 3D animator Torrian Crawford came back from helping with other Rooster Teeth shows to do this fight, and it shows. The fluidity and style of All Might Vs. Might Guy is prevalent throughout, and both characters get the respect they deserve.
It may start out friendly, but it gets brutally awesome by the end. Including cycling through the 8 Gates of Might Guy, and the various Smashes of All Might. Just as important, the character of both fighters shines through. Might Guy wants to prove his worth, and All Might doesn’t give up and is ready to “go beyond” even after hitting his best shot. I can sum up the epicness of this fight in one screenshot:
Beautiful, and every time I watch it, even though I know the result, I wonder…will All Might hit him this time around? It never happens, but I’m so invested in this fight that I think about it…and that’s pretty special.
3. Link Vs. Cloud 2
I bet some of you thought I wasn’t going to have any episodes from the recent season in this list. And to be clear, this isn’t a sympathy pick. I’m picking episodes based on ones I LOVED to watch, and from the moment they teased this rematch, I knew it was going to be good. I just didn’t realize it was going to be THIS GOOD!!!
The original Link Vs. Cloud was actually the first-ever 3D Death Battle, and both Ben and Chad had no idea their animator was going to do that! But it was controversial (in the legitimate sense) because they heavily restricted both fighters in what they could and couldn’t do.
So, for the 10th Anniversary season, they brought back this “legacy match” and did it with modern Death Battle rules, as well as their newer 3D engine. The results speak for themselves.
The fight is AWESOME and has an epic track called “Final Breath” (made by Brandon Yates!) They went full-tilt from start to finish from a battle on bikes, to using the Four Sword, Cloud’s various magic and skills, to using the Fierce Deity Mask!!!! All the while ending with the Omni-Slash and honestly delivering a just verdict to a long-debated matchup. Seriously, this fight is crisp, constantly changes the battlefield dynamic to feel more epic, and feels like the clash these two have always deserved.
The only crime of this fight? Is that it hasn’t gotten over 2 million views yet! Make it happen people!!!
2. Goku Vs. Superman 1 & 2
Some of you are going to hate this duo pick. But if you’re honest with yourselves, you know why these two belong near the top.
Death Battle had broken a lot of barriers by the time they got to this episode. To the extent that Ben Singer himself admitted that Goku Vs. Superman was supposed to be the END of the show. But instead, it became the most important episode of DB ever from a standpoint that it has the most views ever for the franchise. Nothing comes close, not even its sequel. 45 million+ views can’t lie.
But why is this one so special? Well, the first Goku Vs. Superman dared to FINALLY answer the question of who would win. Not with words, but with stats, cold hard facts, and no bias (seriously, stop saying they have bias. They don’t!)
The first of the set did a ten-minute Death Battle showcasing all of Goku’s forms (up to SS4) and a vast majority of Superman’s powers. And that final sequence of the solar-supercharged Superman vs SS4 Goku still gives me chills to this day.
But even though they DID settle the debate, the infamous “Death Battle Curse” came about. Goku became a Super Saiyan God and the fight had to happen again. And while the verdict was the same, the effort put into not just showing the stats, but showcasing the history behind this infamous matchup is to be appreciated. Plus, the crisper 3D fight is awesome. My favorite moment was Superman walking through the massive Kamehameha without issue.
Yes, this fight will never be truly settled, and most think that GVS 3 will happen before the end. But for now, we can appreciate what Death Battle did with these two fights, as it quite literally brought a LOT of people to the show for years to come.
1. Solid Snake Vs. Sam Fisher
“You’re pretty good…”
Surprised? Many of you probably are, but I promise, I will explain. Solid Snake Vs. Sam Fisher was one of my earliest DB experiences in terms of new episodes (remember, I came in with Gaara vs. Toph), and when this one happened…it literally blew me away.
Not just because of the animation (which is honestly pretty long for an older episode) but the story behind it. This wasn’t just two secret agents/soldiers fighting, there was a purpose behind it. They both wanted data from a facility, they had their partners in Octagon and Grim helping them with key intel, they had to use various tricks from their trade (including a cardboard box) to get by, and both had the upper hand in multiple points in the fight.
But of course, as teased, the moment that really sealed this as the top fight was the “You’re Pretty Good” moment. As it is the moment that really honors Splinter Cell and Metal Gear.
This was just a REALLY good fight from start to finish. Even if you don’t watch the breakdowns and the recap, you’ll love this episode for the fight alone. So you could say that picking this as the best Death Battle episode was a…*lights of cigarette*…piece of cake.
Thanks so much for reading my list! But let me ask, in the wake of its 10th anniversary being over, what are YOUR top ten Death Battle episodes? Let’s chat about it, and of course, let’s keep supporting this show for as long as it’s on. Because it totally deserves it.