Villain Overview
My actions seem... mad to you? I... I just killed the best friend that I ever had. And my search for a teacher or an enemy, that was just me trying to hold on to him for a little bit longer. But now I know who I am without him. [...] I'm the Riddler!
~ Nygma becomes the Riddler.

Edward "Ed" Nygma, also known as The Riddler, is a character and a major antagonist in the DC Comics television show Gotham, in which he appears as a major character in the first season, before developing into a major antagonist during the second season, in which he becomes the nemesis of protagonist James Gordon as well as Lucius Fox.

He serves as the villainous protagonist during the Mad City arc of the third season, where he becomes the archenemy of his mentor and friend Oswald Cobblepot. In the Heroes Rise arc, Nygma ultimately adopts his alter-ego, the Riddler, the future nemesis of Batman, and becomes a major antagonist. In the fourth season, he becomes once again an anti-hero, as he falls in love with Leslie Thompkins. However, his Riddler persona is revealed to be independent from him and act as a major antagonist. He returns in the fifth season as a major antagonist as he struggles to figure out what’s wrong with him but it turns out he’s being controlled by Bane to complete Theresa Walker's goals, which included blowing up Haven. However, he later teams up with Oswald and assists him in taking over Gotham by terrorizing it's people.

He is portrayed by Cory Michael Smith.


In the first season, he is a supporting character and works as a police forensics investigator for the Gotham City Police Department, who normally gives Harvey Bullock and James Gordon results of crime scenes. He is also shown for having a love for puzzles, and despite lacking empathy does not act as a villain for a majority of the first season. A subplot involving Edward shows his interest in colleague Kristen Kringle. His start of darkness occurs when he murders her abusive boyfriend Tom Dougherty, which shows him having a breakdown and in the last episode of the first season, having an argument with himself.

In the second season, Edward begins his journey to villainy when he is shown to have developed a split personality/schizophrenia and accidentally kills Kristen when confessing that he murdered Tom. His darker side soon takes over when Edward soon realizes he takes pleasure in getting off with his crimes.

Edward further develops into one of the antagonists as he begins plotting against Jim Gordon, who he wrongfully believes is suspecting him of Kringle's disappearance. Although Nygma manages to frame Gordon for a murder Nygma committed, Gordon is able to clear his name. Nygma is imprisoned in Arkham Asylum but Penguin, now planning to become mayor of Gotham, arranges him to be declared sane.

Nygma is released from Arkham and helps Penguin to achieve his goal and is named Penguin's Chief of Staff. However, when Penguin orders a hit on Nygma's girlfriend Isabella out of jealousy, Nygma - with Barbara Kean, Tabitha Galavan and Butch Gilzean - declares war on Penguin's empire, devoted to bringing it to shambles.

When Nygma seemingly kills Penguin by shooting him pushing him into Gotham Harbor, Nygma accepts his role as the Riddler and terrorizes Gotham City. Nygma later gets frozen by Victor Fries as he faces Oswald in the docks of Gotham.

In the fourth season, Penguin places his ice prison in The Iceberg Lounge, and presents it as a statue called "The Pax Penguina". Later, Nygma is released from the ice prison by his former classmate, Myrtle Jenkins. She burns the ice down, and helps Nygma recover. After that, Nygma plots revenge on The Penguin, but fails to overcome his fear from Victor Fries and gives up on being the Riddler and on making riddles. Later, Oswald is imprisoned by Gordon and is sent back to The Arkham Asylum. The Riddler persona is revealed to be a real issue for Nygma, as he can act independently, and he is a completely different person. Penguin eventually sees The Riddler's letter, and takes full control of Nygma by telling him "the name he will not speak".


Edward is normally cheerful, vivacious, effervescent, and friendly; however, he came off as weird and outright irritating towards his work colleagues. They specifically found this for his love of riddles, and his continued use of them while explaining what he had discovered during his work. Edward is also very knowledgeable and intellectual about factual trivia which he thinks is a helpful matter, however it is actually another source of why his colleagues find him annoying. He has shown to be a genius-level intellect although his unorthodox methods of finding clues has led to him being questioned by his superiors. However, he still remains loyal and a very necessary element for the police service.

Edward appears desperate for a friend or even the slightest hint of companionship, possibly due to his childhood of neglect and insecurities, which was shown as he took an instant shine to the new cop, Jim Gordon, simply because he solved his riddle while meeting the first time as most of his colleagues don't even let him finish, let alone answer one of his "brain-teasers".

However Edward does have a reputation among the GCPD for misbehaving equipment. Cases of this are pretending to be a coroner while "dissecting" a watermelon for Kringle and using the same room to "surgically remove onions from (his) takeout". Once the actual coroner, Doctor Guerra, discovered him examining a murder victims body without clearance, he had him suspended. Edward appears to suffer from OCD such as organizing Kringle's Evidence Room in the way he wanted after being left in charge. An example of Edward's most immoral rule-breaking deed was when he framed Doctor Guerra for hoarding body parts out of revenge for getting him suspended.

However, Edward does express a more altruistic and unselfish side. When he had discovered that his crush, Kristin Kringle was being abused by her boyfriend, Officer Tom Dougherty he went over to defend her despite Kringle's objections and ignoring the fact that Dougherty exceeded him physically. Another example was when he saved Kringle from being shot when the Maniacs invaded the GCPD and when he nursed an injured Penguin back to health.

His attempts at romance are feeble at best. Although Edward does constantly try to impress Kringle, it never pans his way, such as writing a love letter for her which is discovered by her then-boyfriend Arnold Flass, which was used to humiliate him and planting a bullet inside a cupcake which was an attempt at a romantic metaphor. Edward was eternally optimistic; he had hope that he and Kringle would still be a couple despite her outright rejecting him multiple times, ironically this determination was a factor of why Kringle found him unlikable.

However, as the series continued, something began to affect Edward's psyche. Because of the humiliation and abuse he has suffered all of his life and in his work place he slowly suffers from a breakdown until he actually had a mental collapse when confronting Dougherty at Kringle's home and ends up stabbing him multiple times which resulted in a magnitude of emotions: shock at what he had done and hysterical laughter while all the while muttering to himself "Oh, dear" at the sight of Dougherty's corpse.

After murdering Dougherty, Edward tries to resist his new persona but was seen arguing with himself and his "dark side" in the evidence room when he had discovered that the letter he had forged told Dougherty leaving Gotham left a clue that he was the one who actually killed him. Edward's schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder became all too clear; he had no capacity for remorse or mercy even taking some joy in murdering people, developing a much darker and sadistic personality and becoming a shameless serial killer and psychopath.

What is shown from this "Evil Ed" persona (a name given by many fans) is that he was reckless and arrogant, he had hidden clues in his forged Dougherty letter by spelling out his name NYGMA at the beginning of every sentence and nearly admitting to Kringle that he had killed Dougherty during their dinner. Eventually after accidentally murdering Kringle while trying to subdue her, then later hiding her body in GCPD, he discovered that he enjoyed getting away with murder and embraced his darkness, which was proven when he remorselessly killed a hunter while he was discarding Kringle's body in the forest.

Edward's serial killer identity has shown to be short-tempered, aggressive, forward, and downright arrogant, an example was when he slammed a drawer, angry at himself for leaving a clue about his involvement in Dougherty's demise and telling Penguin that his mother dying was because of his own weakness. However he was also able to project a calmness and confidence in his movements and words, something which surprised Gordon, for as long as he had known Edward he had always appeared shy and insecure. Edward still kept his powerful intelligence, able to cleverly hide the remains of his victims and could recognize it would be beneficial for him if he struck a partnership with Penguin after he had saved his life.

In spite of Edward's intelligence, he is shown to be quite paranoid and unreasonable, especially when he thinks someone is on to him, like when he believed Jim was close to the sudden disappearance of Kristen or when he fell for Gordon's trap when he thought the latter was going to find Kristen.

Powers and Abilities

  • Eidetic memory: Nygma has claimed that he is incapable of forgetting anything.
  • Explosives expert: Nygma is skilled at creating bombs, such as the ones he put in the museum and the train station.
  • Encyclopedic knowledge: Edward possesses a profound knowledge of anatomy and displays a wide-ranging command of esoterica from numerous fields.
  • Forensic expert: Nygma was the forensic specialist for the GCPD prior to his arrest. He was able to use his skills of forensics to frame Gordon for Pinkey's murder. He also noticed how the brake lines to Isabella's car had been cut, something the GCPD forensics team failed to see.
  • Skilled lockpick user: Edward has at least rudimentary lock picking skills, as shown when he successfully broke into the Medical Examiner's locker and accessing Hugo Strange's elevator to Indian Hill.
  • Logical Reasoning: Edward is able to calculate the likelihood of certain events. He also has the remarkable ability to view people and situations as puzzles to be solved. As such, Edward managed to successfully solve an advanced puzzle box within several seconds, an item of which has been passed down throughout generations due to its complexity, with even Oswald claiming that the most skilled mathematician could not crack it.
  • Master manipulator/Master of deception: Nygma is skilled at manipulating others, such as the inmates at Arkham. He was able to trick Kristin into thinking Dougherty left Gotham by writing a letter with his name in it.
  • Master tactician: Nygma is able to flawlessly execute the crimes he commits through careful and methodical planning, such as when he had Gordon incarcerated for murder. In his escape from Arkham, he knew when the guards and the guarding forces were walking around the floors of the asylum to scan the place, and knew how to act as he planted the bombs in the museum and the train station.
  • Medical knowledge: Nygma has some medical knowledge, having managed to save Oswald from dying from his gunshot wound and nurse him back to health.


  • Obsessive Disorder: Oswald stated that his true weakness is a desperate compulsive need to complete what he has started in exacting fashion. This makes him far more predictable than emotions. His need to prove his intellectual superiority as well as make the death of Oswald more dramatic made him weak and gave Oswald an opening to beat Edward Nygma at his own game. After months of being frozen on ice, his mind suffered severe damage and made this trait even more noticeable. He spent six hours devising two overcomplicated riddles (in rap form), that Oswald misinterprets and when he storms into the Iceberg Lounge, he is so frustrated that he does not realize he walked into the same trap as last time. After what Oswald said, he questions his own identity; Ed Nygma, The Riddler, someone else or nobody.
  • Split Personalities: Whenever Nygma is struggling with something internally or emotionally, he subconsciously creates a mental projection of his issue. After murdering Tom Dougherty, he began to hallucinate a darker, stronger version of himself which kept him in line. Initially the hallucination was only a reflection, but soon it appeared side by side with Nygma until it could hijack Nygma's own body. This hallucination would plague him until he accepted his life as a serial killer. The second hallucination was a brief image formed from his fear and guilt. Because Nygma was afraid that he would kill Isabella, he created a hallucination of Kringle who only said how it was a matter of time until Nygma kills Isabella as well. Unlike the Nygma hallucination, Kringle never evolved past the reflection stage. A third hallucination was the Penguin personality. Unlike the Nygma or Kringle hallucinations, Penguin was triggered by Edward taking pills. After Nygma thawed out, Nygma began experiencing his first hallucination once again as Dark Nygma, but in the form of his persona, The Riddler.

List of Victims

Kill count: 373

  • Tom Dougherty - Stabbed
  • Kristen Kringle - Choked (accident)
  • Unnamed Hunter - Hit in the head with a shovel
  • Leonard - Killed together with Oswald Cobblepot
  • Carl Pinkney - Bludgeoned with a crowbar
  • 2 unnamed gangsters - Both shot
  • 6 unnamed people - Killed after they failed his test
  • 2 unnamed theater actors - Ran through with a sword
  • Teddy Therio - Killed for part of his riddle
  • Unnamed Nurse - Shot over intercom
  • 2 unnamed police officers - Presumably shot
  • 2 of Sofia's thugs - Blown up with a missile/firecracker
  • Lee Thompkins - Stabbed to death (later brought back to life)
  • 349 unnamed people - Blown up (under mind control)
  • Will Thomas - Blown up
  • Unnamed Old Woman - Thrown out of window
  • Arthur Penn - Shot in the head

Episode appearances

Appearances for Edward Nygma

Season 1

  • "Pilot"
  • "Selina Kyle"
  • "Arkham"
  • "Viper"
  • "Spirit of the Goat"
  • "The Mask"
  • "Harvey Dent"
  • "Lovecraft"
  • "What The Little Bird Told Him"
  • "Welcome Back, Jim Gordon"
  • "The Fearsome Dr. Crane"
  • "The Scarecrow"
  • "The Blind Fortune Teller"
  • "Everyone Has a Cobblepot"
  • "Beasts of Prey"
  • "Under the Knife"
  • "The Anvil or the Hammer"
  • "All Happy Families Are Alike"

Season 2

  • "Rise of the Villains: Damned If You Do..."
  • "Rise of the Villains: Knock, Knock"
  • "Rise of the Villains: Strike Force"
  • "Rise of the Villains: Scarification"
  • "Rise of the Villains: By Fire"
  • "Rise of the Villains: Mommy's Little Monster"
  • "Rise of the Villains: Tonight’s the Night"
  • "Rise of the Villains: A Bitter Pill to Swallow"
  • "Rise of the Villains: The Son of Gotham"
  • "Rise of the Villains: Worse Than A Crime"
  • "Wrath of the Villains: Mr. Freeze"
  • "Wrath of the Villains: This Ball of Mud and Meanness"
  • "Wrath of the Villains: Mad Grey Dawn"
  • "Wrath of the Villains: Prisoners"
  • "Wrath of the Villains: Into the Woods"
  • "Wrath of the Villains: Azrael"
  • "Wrath of the Villains: Unleashed"
  • "Wrath of the Villains: A Legion of Horribles"
  • "Wrath of the Villains: Transference"

Season 3

  • "Mad City: Better to Reign in Hell..."
  • "Mad City: Look Into My Eyes"
  • "Mad City: New Day Rising"
  • "Mad City: Anything for You"
  • "Mad City: Follow the White Rabbit"
  • "Mad City: Red Queen"
  • "Mad City: Blood Rush"
  • "Mad City: The Executioner"
  • "Mad City: Time Bomb"
  • "Mad City: Beware the Green-Eyed Monster"
  • "Mad City: Ghosts"
  • "Mad City: Smile Like You Mean It|(voice)"
  • "Mad City: The Gentle Art of Making Enemies"
  • "Heroes Rise: How the Riddler Got His Name"
  • "Heroes Rise: These Delicate and Dark Obsessions|(mentioned)"
  • "Heroes Rise: The Primal Riddle"
  • "Heroes Rise: Light The Wick"
  • "Heroes Rise: All Will Be Judged"
  • "Heroes Rise: Pretty Hate Machine"
  • "Heroes Rise: Destiny Calling"
  • "Heroes Rise: Heavydirtysoul"

Season 4

  • "A Dark Knight: Pax Penguina|(cryogenically frozen; hallucination)"
  • "A Dark Knight: They Who Hide Behind Masks"
  • "A Dark Knight: The Demon's Head"
  • "A Dark Knight: The Blade's Path"
  • "A Dark Knight: Hog Day Afternoon"
  • "A Dark Knight: Stop Hitting Yourself"
  • "A Dark Knight: Things That Go Boom"
  • "A Dark Knight: Queen Takes Knight"
  • "A Dark Knight: Pieces of a Broken Mirror"
  • "A Dark Knight: A Beautiful Darkness"
  • "A Dark Knight: Reunion"
  • "A Dark Knight: The Sinking Ship, The Grand Applause"
  • "A Dark Knight: Mandatory Brunch Meeting"
  • "A Dark Knight: To Our Deaths and Beyond"
  • "A Dark Knight: That Old Corpse"
  • "A Dark Knight: One Bad Day"
  • "A Dark Knight: No Man's Land"

Season 5

  • Legend of the Dark Knight: No Man's Land: Year Zero
  • Legend of the Dark Knight: Trespassers
  • Legend of the Dark Knight: Ruin
  • Legend of the Dark Knight: Pena Dura
  • Legend of the Dark Knight: 13 Stitches
  • Legend of the Dark Knight: Ace Chemicals
  • Legend of the Dark Knight: Nothing's Shocking
  • Legend of the Dark Knight: The Trial of Jim Gordon (nightmare)
  • Legend of the Dark Knight: I Am Bane
  • Legend of the Dark Knight: They Did What?
  • Legend of the Dark Knight: The Beginning...


  • Edward working for the Gotham City Police Department is probably taken from the Arkham video game series Riddler, who was shown working for the G.C.P.D in the prequel game Batman: Arkham Origins.
    • Also, when Edward's "dark side" speaks to him, it distorts, similar to how Riddler's voice does when he speaks to Batman in the Arkham games.
    • The device he built to torture Tabitha and Butch might be another reference to the games, as the Riddler builds multiple elaborate death traps in the game Batman: Arkham City.
  • After being thawed out, Riddler couldn't think complexly, as his brain was damaged from being frozen. (As his fan explained, he couldn't figure out "What's red and green and goes round and round?: a frog in a blender.")
  • Edward's relationship with his alternate personality is similar to the relationship between the unnamed Narrator and Tyler Durden in the 1999 film Fight Club.
  • In some versions of the character he has the surname "Nashton", where he ends up taking the name Nigma (sometimes spelled Nygma depending on the writers).
  • Like most of his DC incarnations, Nygma always has an inability to tell a permanent lie. Even if he manages to get away with a lie like how he murdered Tom, he always leaves a clue about what actually happened, similar to how he made sure in each left margin, it spelled out "NYGMA".
    • He may also tell half truths. One instance is how he told Leslie Thompkins about his fight with Kristen, but leaves out the part where he killed her. Another occurrence is when he admits that Kristen "left" Gotham to be with Tom Dougherty (via afterlife).
    • Another example is his description of Tom Dougherty as "rotten". Naturally, Gordon assumed that Nygma was talking about Dougherty's personality, but Nygma was secretly referring to the fact that Dougherty is dead and decomposing.
  • His license plate is "RIDL LVR".
  • He is the most ruthless and violent version of the Riddler, being behind that of the "Batman: Earth One" incarnation.
  • This incarnation begins to craft his Riddler persona and gimmick years prior to Bruce Wayne becoming Batman.
  • Nygma's struggle with his darker side and having a split personality makes him similar to another Batman rogue Harvey Dent/Two-Face.
  • He has the highest bodycount of in Gotham after he blew up Haven.
  • Edward Nygma could be considered the main anti-hero/villain of the series, as he mostly appears somewhat a protagonist and even shows good intentions in the overall plot. He shares that quality with Penguin, who is an occasional anti-hero/villain with less good qualities but more storyline and appearance.

See also


Main Antagonists
Edward Nygma S5 Full Poster
Edward Nygma
Secondary Antagonists
Minor Antagonists
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