Batman:The Animated Series Wiki

What is Reality is an episode of the first season of Batman: The Animated Series and features the return of The Riddler since his first appearance in the episode If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?

"What is Reality?" was the 48th produced episode and the 45th episode aired.


When the fugitive Riddler begins to erase all traces of his former life as Edward Nygma, he traps the mind of Commissioner Gordon inside a virtual reality world. Batman must enter the computer-generated landscape and navigate a series of deadly riddles if he is to rescue his friend and ally.

In the end, he causes the Riddler's concentration to falter, and the villain winds up snared in his own trap.


Gotham City is under a cyber-attack by an unknown hacker, who leaves a riddle at every scene of their handiwork. Batman and Commissioner Gordon deduce the hacker to be Edward Nygma, aka The Riddler, and discover that he is erasing all of his personal and criminal records. Gordon receives a message of a large crate painted with question marks delivered to the GCPD Headquarters. While Batman and Robin investigate the crate, Riddler's men infiltrate the Police Records Room and dispose of Edward Nygma's police record.

WR 05 - Batman

Riddler's Surprise Box

Batman, Gordon, and Robin discover the crate to be a variation of the Chinese Box Puzzle. Robin manages to open the crate and it reveals a giant computer on the inside. Robin is assigned to study the computer while Batman heads to the Batcave to decipher Riddler's clues. With Alfred's help, Batman realizes that the clues aren't in the answers, but the riddles themselves; specifically the numbers in the questions (500, 1000, 5). Batman converts the numbers into Roman Numerals which spells D,M, & V, which announces Riddler's next crime at the Department of Motor Vehicles. However, Batman arrives at the DMV too late to stop Riddler's men from destroying Nygma's driving records.

WR 20 - Robin

Batman and Robin work to save Gordon

Meanwhile, Robin explores the computer's mainframe and finds that it is a virtual reality simulator. He invites Gordon and shows him the program. As soon as Robin leaves the room to get a snack, Riddler takes control of the program and traps Gordon's mind in the system. Batman is then contacted by Riddler, who directs him back to the GCPD to find Gordon's situation. Riddler appears on the computer's screen and explains to Batman and Robin that Gordon's life is in his hands and that even trying to unplug the system would be just as fatal. He demands that Batman solves his riddles inside the V.R. program in order to save Gordon's life. Batman accepts and enters the program with Robin providing help and advice from the outside.

After solving through the Riddler's challenges, which include secret doors, a chess game in which Batman plays as a knight for his Dark Knight alias, and a constellation puzzle; Batman makes it to the final challenge in which Riddler shows him a "Baxter's Puzzle Box" with Gordon trapped inside and is forcefully denied of any help from Robin. Fortunately, Batman realizes that he can manipulate the virtual landscape like Riddler by duplicating himself to dismantling the box. Riddler responds by duplicating more versions of himself to stop Batman; Batman responds with a riddle of his own to Nigma; -Riddler has fallen into Batman's trap since Riddler's consciousness is spread across his duplicates and he is unable to sustain the concentration needed to maintain his virtual world, causing it to collapse.

WR 35 - Shocked

And how to get him out maybe a riddle none can Solve Riddler Trapped

Batman rescues Gordon and both of them escape the program. Riddler almost escapes his virtual reality world but not quite.

Batman deduced Riddler's location after judging from a clue left by Riddler: at the closed Gotham's World's Fair Exposition. He and Robin and Gordon arrive there and find Riddler, who was unable to escape his program and his mind is indefinitely trapped there.


Actor Role
Kevin Conroy Batman
Bob Hastings Commissioner Gordon
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. Alfred
Loren Lester Robin
John Glover Riddler
Bever-Leigh Banfield Clerk
Hal Rayle Broker