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"If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?" is the fortieth episode of Batman: The Animated Series. It originally aired on November 18, 1992. It introduces the character of Edward Nygma, a.k.a. "The Riddler".

Plot

Nygma argues with Mockridge

Edward Nygma argues over his unfair firing.

Software designer Edward Nygma returns to his office and finds it locked and his name on the door gone. His boss, Daniel Mockridge, smugly informs him that he has been fired since Nygma previously sued him for royalties to the computer game he designed called "Riddle of the Minotaur". Nygma protests his firing, saying that the company, Competitron, is now making millions from his game. Mockridge dismisses this, and reveals that quite a while ago, he tricked Nygma into signing a work-for-hire contract that did not give him any royalties or copyrights to the game, in order to secure the vast fortune for himself. Outraged, Nygma challenges that Mockridge's greed is no match for his genius, to which Mockridge responds: "If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?"

Two years later, Mockridge, free and clear of any obligations to Nygma, is negotiating to sell Competitron to Wayne Enterprises for a lucrative buyout. The negotiations are interrupted when Mockridge catches sight out the window of a stock update screen, which someone has tampered with to send him a riddle "Why do multi-billion dollar deals break down in the Wasteland?", inviting him to "The Wasteland". Mockridge leaves the meeting in a hurry, and Bruce Wayne and Lucius Fox turn to see the message.

He considers the message in the Batcave, where Dick Grayson is enjoying "Riddle of the Minotaur" on the computer Dick comes across a riddle "What is the shortest distance between a point in Gnome, Alaska and a point in Miami, Florida?". Dick selects the "Straight Line" answer, though Alfred Pennyworth suggests the answer on a globe is a curved line. As Batman tries to figure out the clue, Dick's in-game character is grabbed by the Hand of Fate, which Dick explains to Alfred that whenever a player makes a mistake the hand picks them up and takes them to another part of the maze. Batman realizes the Wasteland is the name of both a location within the game which is a dead end, and a nightclub in Gotham that Mockridge owns, thanks to Dick getting a game over.

Mockridge enters the closed club, and finds Nygma waiting in the manager's office. Mockridge orders Nygma to get out and tells him he's selling out to Wayne. Nygma offers him a proposition in exchange for figuring out his ring puzzle. He tricks Mockridge into cuffing himself with said ring puzzle. Furious, Mockridge asks if Nygma is running some kind of extortion scheme, but Nygma says that it's now Mockridge himself he wants, as his thugs grab him from behind. Batman and Robin arrive, and Nygma makes his first appearance as "The Riddler".

Riddler shows his plan

Riddler shows his plan to Batman and Robin.

In the fight with Riddler's thugs, Riddler overloads the club's dance lights, sets the club on fire, and traps Robin in an oversized Chinese finger trap. Batman is forced to let Riddler escape with Mockridge to save his partner.

As they drive in pursuit, Batman explains that he knows the Riddler's real identity, having investigated Mockridge's background. They notice the city lights blinking, and realize that Riddler is now tampering with the electrical grid to send a message via Morse Code. Batman decrypts the message and finds another riddle "When is the Minotaur's owner as high as an elephant's eye?", which he realizes is an invitation to the "Riddle of the Minotaur" amusement park outside the city, the centerpiece of which is a maze like the one found in the game, after figuring out that Mockridge owns "Riddle of the Minotaur", corn is as high as an elephant's eye and another word for corn is maize, meaning "When Mockridge is in the maize".

At the entrance to the maze, Riddler appears on a screen and shows them Mockridge, tied up at the center of the maze with the Minotaur robot, programmed to kill him in less than ten minutes. Before he lets Batman and Robin enter, he tells them to leave their utility belts behind to make things more interesting.

Entering the maze, they find that Riddler has "updated" its features to make it more lethal. These include a corridor labeled "Loser's ahead" where there are blades at neckpoint meaning loses a head. Batman and Robin soon arrive at a fork with a riddle written in Arabic which translated reads "Which way to the eating place". They go throough the left corridor only to realize they went the wrong way after Robin recognizes the Hand of Fate. Batman realizes in the Arab world people always eat with their right hand. They soon come across a locked door with three keys each labeled A, C and D respectively. Batman tries the key labeled D but as he turns it two giant spinning blades are launched. Luckily the duo avoid them. Just as Batman is about the try the key labeled A, Robin stops him saying three blades will be launched if that key was turned and suggests trying the C key. Before turning the key, the duo place their backs against the wall. They turn the key and the door opens. Robin explains that it was a musical puzzle with the key of D having two "sharps", the key of A having three and Batman deducing the key of C has no sharps. Even after solving these riddles and avoiding multiple traps, they are still only halfway through. They arrive at a three-way path with the left path having a zig-zag line depicted above it, the middle door depicted with a straight line and the right door depicted with a curved line. Robin recognizes this as the riddle he got to in the game. With only one minute remaining, Batman goes through the left corridor and captures and reprograms the robotic "Hand of Fate" to carry them to the center of the maze, which Riddler describes as cheating.

Once in the center, they still need to solve the Minotaur's riddle to keep it from killing Mockridge. The Minotaur asks "I have billions of eyes, yet I live in darkness. I have billions of ears, yet only four lobes. I have no muscle, yet I rule two hemispheres. What am I?" To Riddler's chagrin, Batman does so answering that it's the human brain, causing the robot to stand down. Batman explains the brain has billions of optic and auditory nerves, four lobes, two hemispheres and is the only thing Nygma respects. Incapable of losing gracefully and frustrated at his attempt for revenge foiled, Riddler orders the robot to destroy them anyway. Narrowly, they manage to save Mockridge and destroy the robot using the Hand of Fate via remote. However, Riddler informs them that he's actually been talking to them from a private plane, and has already made good on his escape.

Wayne Enterprises acquires Competitron, bringing a surge of much-needed jobs to the city. Dick is still bitter that Mockridge, whose greed and dishonesty started the whole battle with the Riddler in the first place, made millions out of the buyout and ultimately got away scot-free. Bruce, however, is strangely satisfied, noting that neither they nor the authorities have had any success tracking the Riddler down. He wonders how well Mockridge will be able to sleep with his enemy still at large.

Daniel Mockridge quails

Daniel Mockridge quails alone in the dark.

Indeed, Mockridge shivers in terror as he makes his way to bed. He locks five separate deadbolts on his door, then tiptoes to his bedroom, carrying a shotgun. He checks under the bed, then climbs in and turns out the light, staring fearfully at the ceiling.

Background information

Home video releases

Production inconsistencies

  • The Riddler's mask and gloves change from purple to gray a few times towards the end of the episode.
  • When Batman picks up the A key when trying to unlock the door with the sharp discs, Robin knocks it out of his hand but moments later the A key can be seen in its original place on the key rack.
  • The keys also change from gray to gold a few times.

Trivia

  • The "Riddle of the Minotaur" maze was adapted into the first stage of the Riddler level in the Super Nintendo game "The Adventures of Batman and Robin". The final challenge is the same riddle as in the episode, which the player may solve by entering the letters "H.B".
  • This episode makes the first appearance of The Riddler. He appears next in "What Is Reality?".
  • In the scene where Batman and Robin first come across the maze in an amusement park, the word SEX can be seen in the background. The S and E are part of the name of a carnival attraction while the X is hidden as part of the scaffolding that appears just behind it. Hidden pranks like this are often done by studio animators as inside jokes amongst themselves.
  • A man resembling Harvey Dent's assistant, Carlos, from "Two-Face, Part I" can be seen getting off the elevator with Nygma at the beginning of the episode.
  • The sound effects used in the "Riddle of the Minotaur" game are directly taken from the NES game Super Mario Bros.
  • The ending of the Batman Beyond episode "Inqueling" is similar to this episode's ending. Both have a central character becoming fabulously wealthy at the expense of the central villain, but now live in fear of the villain's return and retribution.

Cultural References

  • The Riddle of the Minotaur is loosely based on the ancient Greek myth of the Labyrinth, at the center of which King Minos imprisoned his monstrous stepson, the Minotaur.
  • Other mythological references include the Griffon.
  • The riddles featured in the episode contain a number of interesting references to art, literature, and science:
    • The phrase "the corn is as high as an elephant's eye" is from "Oh What A Beautiful Morning", a number from Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical "Oklahoma!".
    • Maize is a type of corn cultured by the Native Americans.
    • "Losers Ahead", when spoken with a British accent, sounds like "Loses a head".
    • In music, the key of "A" has 3 sharps, the key of "D" has 2, and the key of "C" none.
    • Among Muslim peoples, etiquette requires a person to always use his or her right hand for eating.
    • The human brain contains millions of visual and auditory nerves, is divided into four lobes along two axes, and into two hemispheres along one axis.

Cast

Actor Role
Kevin Conroy Batman/Bruce Wayne
Loren Lester Robin
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. Alfred Pennyworth
John Glover Edward Nygma/The Riddler
Gary Frank Daniel Mockridge
Brock Peters Lucius Fox
Minotaur Robot (uncredited)
Hal Rayle Henchman

Uncredited appearances

Quotes

Nygma: You are a fool, Mockridge, to think you can get away with this. Your amoral greed is no match for an intellect like mine!
Mockridge: Oh, yeah? Then tell me something, Eddie: if you're so smart, why aren't you rich?


Riddler: My, my. Can we actually have brain beneath that pointy cowl of ours? So tell me, have you brawn to match?


Batman: How far did you say you'd gotten in the game?
Robin: Now, I'm not sure. Maybe halfway?
Batman: (Sarcastically) Already I love this.


Batman: "The Riddler"? What is that, Nygma? Some kind of joke on your name?


Batman: I don't know what's worse, the traps or the puns.


Batman: I'll find Mockridge if I have to tear this place apart, Nygma!
Riddler: I doubt it. I made sure the perils were quite lethal. You have eight minutes, gentlemen. Then Mockridge becomes the only good corporate shark: a dead one.


Robin: I guess this isn't a good time to tell you, nobody's ever made it to the center of the maze.


Riddler: That is grand scale cheating, Batman! You're not allowed to tamper with the Hand of Fate!
Batman: I don't believe in fate!
Riddler: You probably don't believe in Minotaurs either, but you'll still have to answer the riddle.


Batman: I solved your riddle, Nygma! Now here's one for you: "How do you take out a Minotaur with a single blow?" Like this! (presses button)
(Hand of Fate swoops down and pushes the Minotaur through a wall)


(Seeing Competitron's move to Gotham in the paper)
Dick: I guess the Mayor's happy about this.
Bruce: Bringing in $5.5 million a year in new jobs will do that.


(Mockridge lies in bed, fearful of the Riddler's return)
Bruce: (Voiceover) How much is a goodnight sleep worth? Now there's a riddle for you.


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