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Best Riddles Posed By The Riddler

Of all the villains in Batman's rogues' gallery, Edward Nygma (aka the Riddler) is among the Dark Knight's most mercurial foes. One of Gotham's deadliest masterminds, heroes and bad guys alike have learned to underestimate the Riddler's genius at their own peril.

What's truly terrifying about Nygma is that he views crime as a way to prove his superiority over others. As such, he's perfectly willing to kill you in an elaborate death trap while sadistically dangling an escape route in front of your face in the form of a riddle. And even if you do somehow solve his brainteasers, the Riddler always rigs the game in his favor — meaning there's often a second layer of meaning in his puzzles that you'll have to uncover if you want to survive.

If you think you've got the brainpower to outwit the Prince of Puzzles, read on. We've assembled some of the Riddler's best enigmas along with the high-stakes situations surrounding them. So, riddle us this — can you solve all of these conundrums before reaching the end of each section?

The Riddler kills two birds with one stone

Let's return to the simpler time of the campy "Batman" TV show when the Riddler, then popularly played by both Frank Gorshin and John Astin, enjoyed announcing himself with a more whimsical variety of riddles. In "Batman: The Movie" (1966), Adam West's "Bright Knight” version of Batman and Burt Ward's puzzle-solving Robin receive a pair of brain teasers from Gorshin's Riddler. First up, "What does a turkey do when he flies upside down?"

"He gobbles up!" shouts Robin. Logical enough.

And next: "What weighs six ounces, sits in a tree, and is very dangerous?"

"A sparrow with a machine gun!" cries the Boy Wonder, without a hint of irony.

Well, this was the era where Batman carried shark repellant in his utility belt. Curiously, the answers, when combined, are the Riddler's goofy way of revealing that Catwoman (Lee Meriwether) has teamed up with him (cats do "gobble up" sparrows in trees after all). Over time, however, the Riddler's conundrums would get darker. Much darker.

The 4 riddles in Batman Forever

Joel Schumacher's divisive 1995 film "Batman Forever" introduced audiences to a Riddler who was both an homage to Frank Gorshin's cackling villain and a disturbing modernized version. This Edward Nygma (Jim Carrey) is a sycophantic stalker obsessed with Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer). As a result of his fixation, he leaves elaborate cards showing Wayne dying in disturbing ways, along with four seemingly unrelated riddles:

"If you look at the numbers on my face, you won't find 13 anyplace." (A clock.)

"Tear one off and scratch my head. What once was red is black instead." (A match.)

"The eight of us go forth, not back, to protect our king from a foe's attack." (Chess pawns.)

"We're five little items of an everyday sort. You'll find us all in a tennis court." (Vowels.)

So, what do these riddles mean? Upon seeing them all, Bruce realizes each riddle contains a number, and when combined (13-1-8-5) and replaced with letters of the alphabet (M-R-E, with one and eight making 18), they spell out "Mr. E." — which signifies Mr. E. Nygma, of course. The sequence of letters also sounds like "mystery," another word for "enigma."

Wait, what? While the leaps in logic Bruce makes in order to get from numbers to Nygma seem absurd, the Riddler's way of sharing his identity through his riddles does match up with his trademark egotistical personality. He's just lucky Batman is the World's Greatest Detective.

The Riddler flips out

John Glover has amassed a lot of credits playing DC Comics characters. In addition to portraying Dr. Jason Woodrue in "Batman & Robin" (1997), Mr. Sivana in "Shazam!" (2019), and Lex Luthor's father in "Smallville," Glover voiced a highly cerebral Riddler in "Batman: The Animated Series."

In the episode "Riddler's Reform," a seemingly rehabilitated Riddler appears in a commercial and writes the numbers "31753701" on a chalkboard before flipping it over and revealing a map. Believing the numbers are map coordinates, Batman traces the Riddler's location to the First National Bank — but then remembers that the Riddler flipped the board, and that "31753701" reads "10 Leslie" — the address of a jewelry store — upside down.

Before Batman can get to the real scene of the crime, the Riddler's thugs have finished robbing the store, showing that this Riddler is actually smart enough to outwit the Batman — at least until the third act, when Batman escapes Riddler's seemingly foolproof deathtrap. He drives Nygma insane when he won't reveal how he did it.

Batman wings it

The Riddler of "Batman: The Animated Series" was a particularly clever criminal. How clever? He actually managed to stump the Batman — multiple times! In "The Batman Adventures" #10, a comic book that follows the continuity of the animated series, the Riddler considers quitting crime but decides to make one last attempt to outwit the Batman in "The Last Riddler Story."

Concocting an elaborate plan to steal a golden eagle, Riddler leaves Batman the following clue: "What's got wings that do not fly, arms that have no hands, and eyes that cannot see?"

Unfortunately, Batman's too preoccupied tending to his equipment to crack the riddle. Later on, he stops a rival gang during a museum heist and stumbles onto the Riddler's gang by sheer chance. When he admits he didn't actually solve the riddle to find them, Nygma is so overjoyed that he happily goes back to prison, content in the fact that he "won" — at least by his own twisted rules.

Digging a little deeper

By the time the Riddler appears in the animated series "The Batman," he's been given a much darker, more goth-style look and the voice of Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund. This Riddler is also a computer genius and likes using his gadgets to send the police and Batman on wild goose chases.

In the Season 2 episode "Riddled," Detective Ellen Yin (Ming-Na Wen) is forced to defuse multiple bombs the Riddler left around the city by answering riddles Nygma left behind. Batman secretly feeds her the solutions, but when Riddler poses his final conundrum, "A man builds a house with all four sides facing north. A bear walks past the house. What color is the bear?" Batman realizes they've been had.

Understanding the house must be at the South Pole, but there are no bears there and thus no answer to the riddle at all, Batman turns his attention to Riddler's other comments: "Pity about your hard drive over here," "You couldn't be further from the truth," and, "You're boring me." He deduces that the criminal has been leaving riddles within riddles to reveal his real plan: drilling into the Gotham City mainframe to steal all the digital information.

Freddy Clue-ger gets increasingly sadistic

Continuing to offer up his brand of sadistic villainy, Englund's Riddler shows up again in "The Batman" Season 4 in the episode "Riddler's Revenge." In the opening scene, he ties up Chuck Gorman, a businessman whom he believes cheated him and caused him to become the Riddler. Hanging him upside down, Riddler gives Gorman "one last chance" to earn his freedom by answering his riddle: "It can be cracked. It can be made. It can be told. It can be played. What is it?"

Surprisingly, Gorman is able to come up with the correct answer — but the gag he's wearing makes it impossible for him to speak clearly. Luckily, Batman appears to save the day and answer for Gorman: a joke.

Ultimately, the riddle itself isn't anywhere near as significant as the sick pleasure the Riddler gets from watching his victims squirm as they struggle to answer his brainteasers. His M.O. might appear ridiculous from the outside, but the people he traumatizes might have a different opinion on the subject.

Gotham's Edward Nygma finds answers within

In most of his stories, Riddler likes to match wits with those he considers equal to his intellect. But in the TV show "Gotham," Riddler finds a much more interesting opponent: himself.

That's because "Gotham" takes a slow-burn approach, showing Edward Nygma's (Cory Michael Smith) gradual transformation from awkward police scientist to criminal mastermind. After accidentally murdering his girlfriend Kristen Kringle (Chelsea Spack), Edward wakes up in the Season 2 episode "Rise of the Villains: Mommy's Little Monster" to find Kristen's body gone — and a series of riddles offering clues to its location.

Turns out Edward's developed a split personality, and his new Riddler persona has hijacked his body to play games with his original self. After puzzling over the riddle, "I'm tired of hiding and want to be free. To locate her body, find the two things missing from me," Edward correctly deduces Kristen's body is in the medical examiner's room (M.E.). When you're crazy enough to play head games with yourself, you know you've got serious problems ...

A riddle to reflect on

By Season 3 of "Gotham," Edward Nygma has been around the bend at least a couple of times. Even so, he's still in the process of discovering who he is, especially after murdering his friend Oswald Cobblepot (who's later healed). Things reach a turning point in the episode "How the Riddler Got His Name."

Deciding to take Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) hostage, Nygma forces Wayne Enterprises' junior executive Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk) to answer a series of riddles. Promising Fox that he'll release Bullock if his opponent can answer even one of the riddles, Nygma manages to stump Fox with the first two, but the last, "I feel your every move. I know your every thought. I'm with you from birth and I'll see you when you rot," evokes the correct response: your reflection. Despite this, Nygma still lets Bullock fall, nearly to his death.

However, the escapade teaches Nygma an important lesson: He can manipulate people into playing his sick games, no matter how irrational they may seem. Taking a moment to thank Fox for playing, Nygma fully embraces his new identity as the Riddler.

An a-maize-ing introduction

Over in the comic books, the Riddler underwent a decades-long evolution that saw him go from petty con man to criminal mastermind. Still, anyone who caught his first appearance in "Detective Comics" #140 could tell he was always pretty psychotic from the beginning.

After deciding he could prove his mental superiority by outwitting the Dark Knight, Riddler leaves multiple brainteasers for Batman hinting at the location of his crimes. Although the first few manage to stump Batman and Robin, his final riddle, "Why is corn hard to escape from?" leads to a particularly memorable climax.

Once Robin deduces the answer, "Because it's a 'maize,'" the Dynamic Duo track the Riddler to a funhouse-style maze on an amusement pier where Riddler has hidden a bomb. As with a lot of Batman's early capers, the Riddler seemingly dies at the end of the story. But these are the comics, so death is rarely permanent; each time the conniving criminal returns, he's crazier than ever.

The riddle of the sphinx

As someone who views crime as performance art, Riddler sends out his enigmas in inventive ways, placing them in elaborate pop-up cards or even skywriting them over Gotham City. However, in the comic book storyline "Dark Knight, Dark City," which ran from "Batman" #452-454, a more deranged Riddler shows just how twisted his delivery methods can get.

In the first issue, Batman is approached by a brainwashed woman dressed as a sphinx who tells the Dark Knight, "Generally, my leaves aren't turned at night. Usually, I'm full of worms by day. Lots of words, but deathly quiet." She then promptly throws herself off the roof of Gotham P.D., showing that Riddler is crazy enough to shoot his own messengers.

Batman saves the woman and then dissects the riddle with remarkable ease. "Leaves" in this case refer to the pages of a book, "worms" is a reference to "bookworms," and "deathly quiet" describes the interior of a library. To top it off, combining the first letter of each sentence spells out "GUL," or "Gotham University Library." Naturally, this turns out to be just the first step of a very disturbing night involving a satanic ritual the Riddler wants Batman to help him complete by stealing babies, killing henchmen, and crippling his victims. In a way, the perilous riddle is the most lighthearted part of the caper; things just get worse from there.

Batman keeps his mind sharp and his blade sharper

Riddler is in top form during DC's "Zero Year" when he shuts down all the power in Gotham City and traps Batman in a laser cage in "Batman" #33. To further up the stakes, the laser beams are rigged to trigger poison gas-filled weather balloons from various parts of Gotham. To deactivate the lasers, Batman needs to answer a series of riddles.

At first, Batman seems to play the game straight, answering the queries and slowly deactivating sections of the grid. However, when the mastermind asks his third riddle, "My greatest of my strengths is that I know my worth. I hug myself so tightly at every birth," Batman answers incorrectly: a blade.

Overjoyed, the Riddler gloats that the riddle's answer (a knot) was in reference to the famous Gordian knot Alexander the Great had to untie. In response, Batman reveals he's been stalling the Riddler so he can block the signal controlling the city. Adding that Alexander solved the riddle of the Gordian knot by slicing it open with a blade, Batman punches Nygma's lights out. Riddler might rig his games, but the Dark Knight is still smart enough to play by his own rules.

Riddler has another card up his sleeve

Riddler's greatest riddle (to date) recently appeared on a simple handwritten note in the first trailer to the upcoming "The Batman" movie, set to release on March 4, 2022. As Batman (Robert Pattinson) looks over a crime scene, Commissioner Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) reads the following riddle off a card: "What does a liar do when he's dead?"

The riddle launched a lot of online speculation, with many attempting to solve a cryptogram on the opposite side of the card. According to Twitter user Mike Selinker, who demonstrated how to solve the cryptogram with "brute force" rather than answering the riddle by wit alone, the clever solution is, "He lies still."

Perhaps. But as anyone who's familiar with the Riddler knows, the Prince of Puzzles often plays with double meanings, causing many to speculate over what this Edward Nygma (Paul Dano) means by the word "lies." After all, lying can refer to both the physical act of lying down or the psychological act of uttering falsehoods. Ultimately, fans will need to watch "The Batman" to see how the riddle is placed in context — making this unsolved puzzle the Riddler's best thus far.