For whatever reason (too much Agatha Christie, perhaps) many of these riddles involve death. While death should never be a subject that human services shies away from, you may wish to exercise care in selecting from this list.

A key part of the process is the asking of questions by your listeners. The questions can receive one of only three possible answers - yes, no or irrelevant.

The RiddlesEdit

The Man in the ElevatorEdit

A man lives on the tenth floor of a building. Every day he takes the elevator to go down to the ground floor to go to work or to go shopping. When he returns he takes the elevator to the seventh floor and walks up the stairs to reach his apartment on the tenth floor. He hates walking so why does he do it? Answer

Push that CarEdit

A man pushed his car. He stopped when he reached a hotel at which point he knew he was bankrupt. Why? Answer

The Man who Hanged HimselfEdit

Not far from Madrid, there is a large wooden barn. The barn is completely empty except for a dead man hanging from the middle of the central rafter. The rope around his neck is ten feet long and his feet are three feet off the ground. The nearest wall is 20 feet away from the man. It is not possible to climb up the walls or along the rafters. The man hanged himself. How did he do it? Answer

The Coal, Carrot and ScarfEdit

Five pieces of coal, a carrot and a scarf are lying on the lawn. Nobody put them on the lawn but there is a perfectly logical reason why they should be there. What is it? Answer

Manhole CoversEdit

Why is it better to have round manhole covers than square ones? Answer

Death in a FieldEdit

A man is lying dead in a field. Next to him there is an unopened package. There is no other creature in the field. How did he die? Answer

Trouble with SonsEdit

A woman had two sons who were born on the same hour of the same day of the same year. But they were not twins. How could this be so? Answer

Anthony and CleopatraEdit

Anthony and Cleopatra are lying dead on the floor of a villa in Egypt. Nearby is a broken bowl. There is no mark on either of their bodies and they were not poisoned. How did they die? Answer

Friday Edit

A man rode into town on Friday. He stayed for three nights and then left on Friday. How come? Answer

The Arm of the Postal ServiceEdit

One day a man received a parcel in the post. Carefully packed inside was a human arm. He examined it, repacked it and then sent it on to another man. The second man also carefully examined the arm before taking it to the woods and burying it. Why did they do this? Answer


A man died and went to Heaven. There were thousands of other people there.. They were all naked and all looked as they did at the age of 21. He looked around to see if there was anyone he recognised. He saw a couple and he knew immediately that they were Adam and Eve. How did he know? Answer

The Deadly PartyEdit

A man went to a party and drank some of the punch. He then left early. Everyone else at the party who drank the punch subsequently died of poisoning. Why did the man not die? Answer

The Deadly DishEdit

Two men went into a restaurant. They both ordered the same dish from the menu. After they tasted it, one of the men went outside the restaurant and shot himself. Why? Answer

A Glass of WaterEdit

A man walks into a restaurant and asks for a glass of water. The waitress pulls out a handgun and shoots it over his head. The man walks out with a smile on his face. Why? Answer

The RealizationEdit

A man was walking downstairs in a building when he suddenly realized that his wife had just died. How? Answer

The Blind BeggarEdit

A blind beggar had a brother who died. What relation was the blind beggar to the brother who died? (Brother is not the answer). Answer

The Broken MatchEdit

A man is found dead in a field. He is clutching a broken match. What happened? Answer

The Music StoppedEdit

The music stopped. She died. Explain. Answer

Swimmer in the ForestEdit

Deep in the forest was found the body of a man who was wearing only swimming trunks, snorkel and facemask. The nearest lake was 8 miles away and the sea was 100 miles away. How had he died? Answer

The Elder TwinEdit

One day Kerry celebrated her birthday. Two days later her older twin brother, Terry, celebrated his birthday. How come? Answer

The SolutionsEdit

The Man in the Elevator (Solution)Edit

The man is (of course) a dwarf. Variants of this puzzle include the clue that on rainy days he goes up in the elevator to the tenth floor (he uses his umbrella!) Go Back

Push that Car (Solution)Edit

He was playing Monopoly. Go Back

The Man who Hanged Himself (Solution)Edit

He climbed on a block of ice which has since melted. This one is often stated with the clue of a puddle of water. Go Back

The Coal, Carrot and Scarf (Solution)Edit

They were used by children who made a snowman. The snow has now melted. Go Back

Manhole Covers (Solution)Edit

A square manhole cover can be turned and dropped down the diagonal of the manhole. A round manhole cannot be dropped down the manhole. So for safety and practicality, all manhole covers should be round. Go Back

Death in a Field (Solution)Edit

The man had jumped from a plane but his parachute had failed to open. It is the unopened package. (The question is sometimes given with the following rather elegant clue - "As he approached the center of the field he knew he was going to die.") Go Back

Trouble with Sons (Solution)Edit

They were two of a set of triplets (or quadruplets etc.) Go Back

Anthony and Cleopatra (Solution)Edit

Anthony and Cleopatra were goldfish whose bowl was knocked over by a clumsy dog. Go Back

Friday (Solution)Edit

The man's horse was called Friday. Go Back

The Arm of the Postal Service (Solution)Edit

The three men had been stranded on a desert island. Desperate for food, they had agreed to amputate their left arms in order to eat them. They swore an oath that each would have his left arm cut off. One of them was a doctor and he cut the arms off his two companions. They were then rescued. But his oath was still binding so he later had to have his arm amputated and sent to his colleagues. Go Back

Heaven (Solution)Edit

He recognized Adam and Eve as the only people without navels. Because they were not born of women, they had never had umbilical cords and therefore they never had navels. Go Back

The Deadly Party (Solution)Edit

The poison in the punch came from the ice cubes. When the man drank the punch the ice was fully frozen. Gradually it melted, poisoning the punch. Go Back

The Deadly Dish (Solution)Edit

The dish that the two men ordered was albatross. They had been stranded many years earlier on a desert island. When the man tasted albatross he realized that he had never tasted it before. This meant that the meat he had been given on the island was not albatross as he had been told. He correctly deduced that he had eaten the flesh of his son who had died when they first reached the island. Go Back

A Glass of Water (Solution)Edit

The man had the hiccups. The water didn’t work, but the BANG from the handgun did. The man was cured and happily left. Go Back

The Realization (Solution)Edit

The man had visited his wife in hospital. She was on a life-support machine. As he was walking down the stairs all the lights went out. There had been a power cut and the emergency back-up systems had failed. He knew that she had died. Go Back


This puzzle is one of a type that depends on the listener making implicit assumptions about gender - in this case that a blind beggar is a man. Similar puzzles involve surgeons who refuse to operate on their sons etc. This is probably the best of the class because it is very simply stated. Go Back

The Broken Match (Solution)Edit

He and a number of other passengers were making a balloon trip in a desperate attempt to flee a country. The balloon had to lose weight to stop it from crashing. He drew the short match and had to jump. Go Back

The Music Stopped (Solution)Edit

She was a circus tight-rope walker who walked blindfolded over a high wire. The band played as she crossed and when the music stopped it was the signal that she had reached the end of the walk and could safely alight. One day the conductor was taken ill and the stand-in conductor ended the piece of music too early. She stepped off to her death. Go Back

Swimmer in the Forest (Solution)Edit

During a forest fire, a fire-fighting plane had scooped up some water from the lake to drop on the fire. The plane had accidentally picked up the unfortunate swimmer. Go Back

The Elder Twin (Solution)Edit

At the time she went into labor, the mother of the twins was travelling by boat. The older twin, Terry, was born first early on March 1st. The boat then crossed the International Date line (or any time zone line) and Kerry, the younger twin, was born on February the 28th. In a leap year the younger twin celebrates her birthday two days before her older brother. Go Back