"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".
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 sued him for royalties to the computer game he designed called "Riddle of the Minotaur". Nygma protests, 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 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, inviting him to "The Wasteland". Mockridge leaves the meeting in a hurry, and Bruce Wayne turns to see the message.
He considers the message in the Batcave, where Dick Grayson is enjoying "Riddle of the Minotaur" on the computer. 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.
Mockridge enters the closed club, and finds Nygma waiting in the manager's office. He tricks Mockridge into cuffing himself with a 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".
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, 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.
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. After solving several riddles and avoiding multiple traps, they are still only halfway through. With only one minute remaining, Batman 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. To Riddler's chagrin, Batman does so. 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.
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.
Home video releases
- The Adventures of Batman & Robin: The Riddler (VHS)
- Batman: The Animated Series, Volume Two (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
- The Riddler's mask and gloves change from purple to grey 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 grey to gold a few times.
- 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.
- 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.
|Kevin Conroy||Batman/Bruce Wayne|
|Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.||Alfred Pennyworth|
|John Glover||Edward Nygma/The Riddler|
|Gary Frank||Daniel Mockridge|
|Brock Peters|| Lucius Fox|
Minotaur Robot (uncredited)
Riddler: My, my. Can we actually have brain beneath that pointy cowl of ours? So tell me, have you brawn to match?
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!
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 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)
(Seeing Competitron's move to Gotham in the paper)
(Mockridge lies in bed, fearful of the Riddler's return)