My Best Friend Is A Monkey, How Can This Be? Terrible Neural Network Riddles

Can a neural network write good riddles? Maybe, but I sure didn’t prove it with this post. If you have a taste for the terrible, read on:

The too obvious:

The What Is It Riddle
What’s the first letter of the word ‘E’?

Answer: E.

The Why Does It Look Like A Man Riddle:
Why does it look like a man’s head?

Answer: It might be a man’s head.

The mysterious:

The Hairy Thing Riddle
My best friend is a monkey.
How can this be?

Answer: A monkey is a python.

The How Do You Get Home From Work Riddle
I can make something,
I can break it,
I can but it,
I can make it,
But I have no hands or feet.
What am I?

Answer: An Iron Man!

The Can I Use Two Other Words Riddle
I get around very easily,
I can’t ride a horse,
I can’t swim,
I am not a dog,
But some people would like me,
In small things I could be anything,
In large things I could be anything.
I have no smell, I have no taste,
I have no feel, but I will win any fight.
But that is enough for you, you have played enough games of find me on twitter at @PopperPunch.

Answer: Jason Vorhees

The ones that almost make sense:

The Why Am I Late? Riddle
Why am I always late?

Answer: Because I can’t run.

The White When You Look At Me Riddle
Why does a boy dye his hair blue?

Answer: Because when he dyes, he dies.

The What Am I? Riddle
What does a time traveler wear?

Answer: A clock.

The 2,100 Pound Dog Riddle
My mouth is as big as 2,100 pounds.
Why is this?

Answer: Because I eat 2,100 pounds a day.

The accidentally heartwarming:

The What Could Be Better? Riddle
If a dog has a family, what does it have?

Answer: A Family.

The Dear Mum Riddle
Dear Mum, How are you?

Answer: I’m fine. I’m ok.

The accidentally horrifying:

The Reason the World Breaks Riddle
I am a god that has yet to be born,
and I am always stopping things from happening.
What am I?

Answer: A Computer.

The ones that actually kind of work???

The What Am I? Riddle
I’m a vision, a secret. And when you look at me, you will be captured.
What am I?

Answer: An ideal.

The That Object Riddle
I can do almost anything.
I can be one thing or a lot of things.
I can be something you can do with me.
I can change.
I can be hidden.
What am I?

Answer: A button

The The Majesty Riddle
Sir, you rule but are not King of England,
You are not of France,
You are not of America,
You are not of Switzerland,
And not of Norway. What are you?

Answer: The Queen of England

And More Riddles!

Click Riddle Me Again to try your wits against the neural network! Thousands of riddles await!

Riddle Goes Here =)

(I would appreciate people posting any actually good riddles in the comments — those were the hardest to find! Funny/striking ones are appreciated too…)

Update 1: More ‘Solvable’ Riddles

‘Solvable’ riddles found by other people (many are just funny or striking, but some are solvable!) Thanks to everyone in the comments, we’re up to 33!

Solvable Riddle Goes Here =)

Update 2: Can A Fake News Detector Write Riddles?

Apparently yes it can.

How This Was Made

I started by searching for a prompt that made decent riddles without fine-tuning. I tried a bunch of options and noted the ones that were most consistent. A few were surprisingly ineffective — for example a prompt like this:

Riddle: There are 30 white horses on a red hill: first they champ, then they stamp, then they stand still. What are they? 
Answer: Teeth

Tends to produce a conversation between two people named Riddle and Answer instead of a riddle:

Riddle: There are 30 white horses on a red hill: first they champ, then they stamp, then they stand still. What are they? 
Answer: Teeth
Riddle: What a stupid answer!
Answer: I'll come back and answer your question later.
Riddle: Yes, but don't start with your mouth full if you don't have teeth.
Riddle: I hate them too much!
Answer: But I'll come back to this later when I don't.
Riddle: I am a horse.
Riddle: They say the white knight was one of them.
Answer: It will help you explain the horse horse again?
Riddle: We will explain your horse again when we get to it.  

I subjectively judged the best prompt. For the main dataset I scraped 15,000 riddles from and formatted them like the prompt. I thought that if the riddles were only lightly formatted, just enough to parse out, and in a format GPT-2 already responded well to even without training, then maybe I would need less fine-tuning and I could reduce the risk of of memorizing (over-fitting) the relatively small dataset.

I sampled every 25 iterations with half the default learning rate until I found what look like a sweet spot where I at least occasionally found some that made sense and weren’t copying from the training material. Then I ran that model with a few different parameters and picked my favorite (top_p 0.9 seemed better than top_k 40 at various temperatures, in this case.)

I processed the samples and grabbed any matching the format, discarded the top X most common answers like nothing, time, etc — these were heavily overused in the training data and in riddles generally.

Guessing is what makes a riddle fun so I hide the answers in the random generator portion. They were still generally impossible to guess so I added hint button. It didn’t help much…

46 thoughts on “My Best Friend Is A Monkey, How Can This Be? Terrible Neural Network Riddles

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  1. Clicked generate maybe 10 times, and this one is the least nonsensical so far. Answer rot13d.

    Q: A little over a million I have taken from my friend, but once more I bring him back, or he will be nothing. What must I be?

    A: N pbssre

  2. This… maybe almost makes sense?

    The I Am There, But It Is Empty Riddle

    I am everywhere, yet empty. I am not where I appear to be. In the sky I’m seen, in the land I’m found. I am everything you ever want in life, yet you never need it. I make people happy, even if you don’t know them. I always seem to be there. What am I?

    A picture frame.

  3. This one deserves an honorable mention:

    The More Knows Riddle

    I have a head but no wings. A foot, but no head. An eye but no nose. A tongue, but no mouth. A wife but no husband.

    A Blog

  4. This got a chuckle out of me.

    Q: The Snake Looks Like A King Riddle
    a snake walks up a flight of stairs in 10 minutes
    a snake rolls around 10 times in 5 minutes
    a snake walks down the middle of a floor in 5 minutes
    how is that possible?

    A: a snake can always crawl

  5. Okay, now this one is actually delightful.

    How Long Did It Take? Riddle

    Q: What would be more subtle than a single letter?

    A: A fraction of a second.

  6. Okay, this one doesn’t really “work”, but it’s delightfully atmospheric:

    The Bird People Riddle

    There are thousands of bird people on this earth, only one for every continent and… one for every city. What happens to the first?

    Answer: The first bird doesn’t know what’s after it!

  7. Ooh, I think this one could be said to work:

    The What Am I Riddle

    I come in all shapes and sizes.
    I come in one color,
    I come in the form of a person.

    What am I?

    Answer: A silhouette

  8. The One True Way Riddle

    We are the world’s healthiest men, but our wings are not clean.
    We cannot stand for a sentence without ending.
    We hate thirst. We do not need to be held.
    We keep our friends around us and we even keep our enemies.
    We never die.
    What am I?

    A: We are not alive.

  9. The results I’m getting seem to have suddenly changed to be structured worse? But, I mean, technically, this one is right, even if it’s stupidly simple.

    The The Bean Riddle

    I have a plant on me what am i?

    Answer: I am a bean.

  10. Okay, this one’s amazing because the answer is EXACTLY what I said in my head when I saw the riddle:

    The One Riddle

    there is a black and white picture on a white wall that is upside down. what color is it?

    Answer: black and white?

  11. Spent a while sifting through various kinds of nonsense riddle, and then I finally stumbled upon this one, which I actually think is beautiful:

    The You Think You Know It? Riddle

    You are in a dark room. Your eyes fall across the long table with a book. What am I?

    Answer: The windows.

    There are multiple basic structural problems here, as you would expect, but the basic structural problems actually seem like a single coherent thing, not just accident. Why would the riddle ask “What am I?”, when “I” haven’t otherwise come up in the riddle? Because I’m the windows. And the windows aren’t there. That’s why the room is dark. It’s amazing.

  12. The The Sliding Stop Riddle

    In a lab, there was a slide with a metal platform underneath it. There was a tape measure on it. The slide was slideable. How could you stop the slide?

    Answer: You had to beat the slide up so that the tape measure could reach the slide. Once you beat it up the tape measure no longer had the slide.

    Posting this one on behalf of a friend – I was just really impressed by how the AI seemed to grasp the concept of percussive maintenance.

  13. Actually burst out laughing at this one:

    The Which One Got You? Riddle

    A man was coming home from work, and he decided to have some fun. He went to the store and picked up some apples, but didn’t bring any cash with him. He picked up two. They looked good, so he returned them. How is this possible?

    Answer: He forgot to bring a bill or money with him to the store.

  14. I love the ones where the AI actually seems to have a decent understanding of what it’s talking about, it just doesn’t understand what a human would have a hard enough time figuring out to constitute a riddle. Like, for example:
    The Classic Riddle Riddle

    A lady wanted to get on a train in New York. She bought a ticket for one thousand dollars. After the journey, she walked out of the train and on to a different train. After talking to the passengers and looking for the station, she finally found the station. When she got off the train, she saw her name was on the ticket. Why was her name on the ticket?

    Answer: The ticket was in her name.

  15. Last one I’m posting for now; this is the most ominous one I’ve seen:

    The Holy Riddle Riddle

    holy holy holy,
    holy holy,
    holy holy holy holy holy
    holy holy holy holy holy
    holy holy holy holy holy holy,
    holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy,
    holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy,
    holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy
    holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy
    holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy,
    holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy,
    holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy,
    holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy,
    holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy,
    holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy,
    holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy,
    holy holy holy holy holy holy holy,
    holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy,
    holy holy holy holy holy holy holy holy,
    holy holy holy holy holy sad holy holy,
    holy holy holy holy holy holy holy

    Answer: weevryrtheflickrohivee

  16. Here are two I found that actually work:


    The Steep Riddle
    What is lower than the clouds but higher than the sky?

    A dead person.


    The Paint There Riddle
    What color is paint the sun doesn’t shine on?



    This one works reasonably well:

    The Wig Hole Riddle
    It runs from side to side. In the wind it twists. Its wavy, and when I look at it I see the strand of my hair. What am I?

    A weave.


    This one would work if you just replaced the word “forgotten” with “said”:

    The Where Are We? Riddle
    It has been forgotten in this house, on my bed, in this road, in the hospital and on the streets.

    What Am I?

    The F word


    Here is one that would feels more like an Inspirobot quote than a riddle:

    The The Question That Riddle Riddle
    It is your dream. You get it. Now, what do you do with it?

    Change it. You would be happy, you would be relieved, you would be full.


    Then there is this one that sounds like it is trying to be an ad:

    The NEW Car Riddle
    you are one week away from buying a new car

    ahh yes that would be you!!! the dealers never miss their deadline!!! so id love to buy you a new one


    Here are a couple of heartwarming ones:


    The Happy Riddle
    why did the little girl dance so well?

    she had a picture book that gave the moment of joy in the world.


    There were three birds that wanted to live together in a box. It was three birds and one box. It was on one day each day the three birds would have to share a box. If the box was left in a good light the birds would stay together. The box was not left in a bad light the birds would not have to share a box. If one bird decided to eat the other two birds they would have to share a box with them. If the box was left in a bad light the two birds would not share a box with each other. Why did the birds decide to share a box?

    the box was made with cardboard, since the birds were sleeping together they wanted to be as warm as they could make themselves.


    …And a perhaps less heartwarming one:

    The What Am I Riddle
    I’m the ruler of the earth. You may know me as the father of this planet. You may think I am a silly old man. I’m not, but I am a king. I’m also a driver.
    What am I?

    I’m a clown.


    Here are a few that are so stupid as to be almost funny:


    The Number One Riddle
    What is the first number that begins with “n”?



    The A Farmer Has The Biggest Job In The World Riddle
    How many days are in a week?



    The Bar It At! Riddle
    what can only be done by a high class college student and can never be done by a teen?


  17. I was amused by this riddle:

    The What Is This?! Riddle
    What does a brown squirrel say when he looks in your direction?


  18. This one works okay:

    The Simple Mornings Riddle
    I come at the beginning of the morning, and end at the end of the day, and at every hour of the day. What am I?

    I am the hour.

    This one is more just funny, although I suppose you could interpret the answer as the sound of trying to talk with a stick in your mouth:

    The Beat Riddle
    you should take your mouth off my stick and ask me
    what am i?


    And here’s a subpar take on a classic:

    The Fuzzy And Styled Riddle
    What walks on four legs, stands on three legs and crawls on two legs?

    A human being!

  19. —This one is actually flawless! It’s short, it’s precise, and the answer makes perfect sense!

    The What Am I Riddle

    What am I that will turn other men bald?

    I am hair.

    —This one is really dark. But it’s still correct.

    The Funeral Riddle

    If you were to happen upon a body lying dead in a field of herbs, what would you do to make the closest approximation to your own life?

    You would probably kill yourself.

    —This one makes sense, i guess?

    The Where Am I Riddle

    Where am I? I am out of sight. There is no spot where I am. Where am I?

    I am out of my body.

    —A different take on the sword and the pen

    The Now Riddle

    What is stronger than any bomb?

    A pencil eraser.

    —The easter ‘rabbit’?

    The Rabbit To Egg Riddle

    What would make a rabbit jump up and down?


    —Jump scare

    The JUMP Riddle

    What is made out of nothing?


  20. A riddle straight from Borderline Personality Disorder:

    The He, She, Or Neither Riddle

    Q: two people come to you. one uses you and one uses him. what is the first person?

    A: the other one you used.

  21. Here’s a riddle that seemed like a total glitch, but the more i thought about it, the more sense it made.

    Riddle: its made as you walk, but you can never step in it.

    Answer: rain!

    Yeah, that sounds off the wall random (like another riddle i got: what has nine arms, nine feet and nine mouths? A badger!) Before i actually saw the answer, my first guess was a footstep… but that doesnt actually work. The act of creating a footstep requires stepping in it. You cant not step in your own footsteps.

    But this actually works if you think about how the ai generates the riddle.

    “Its made as you walk” – to a human this sounds like its implied that the act of walking somehow creates the mystery item. But it doesnt. Grammatically, this is literally interpreted as entirely passive. The thing is made while you are walking, as in simultaneously, not causatively. The riddle is not “what is something that you create by walking but cant step in” but instead its “what is something you cant step in even if its being made while you walk.” In a way its like a riddle inside a riddle!

    But wait! You can step in rain thats on the ground, cant you? Well, technically no. Those are called puddles. We might categorize that as basically the same as rain, but from the ai’s perspective they are two entirely different things. The two words might be strongly associated with each other within its programming, but it likely doesnt have the concept of “rain the hits the ground becomes a puddle.”

    My point in sharing all of that is this: i think youve discovered a way to study how much the ai actually understands (for lack of a more articulate term)about the word salad it puts together. A riddle at its most basic form by its nature shows the relationships of concepts, why (not just how) specific words are correlated, as well as exploits the limits and shortcuts we take with our grammer and language with non-literal interpretations and implied correlations.

    A well-generated riddle can reveal that gap that still exists between human symbolic language and the purely literal logic based programming – possibly giving clues how to bridge it.

  22. Thanks for all the comments everyone. I’ll try and update the post this weekend with the new Riddles.

    I may try also try making a better version of the generator, and I’m thinking I’ll train it backwards (answer->riddle) so that I can prompt the model for a riddle answer, it it should spit out a riddle that gives that answer.

  23. Creepy: The Common Devil Riddle
    Why did the devil blow out the candles?
    Because it would have made him easier to see.

    Silly: The What Is It? Riddle
    What comes out of a dirty window?
    A spot.

    Wtf: The Do Or Die Riddle
    What does a cow hate more than men?

  24. Ok, this is addicting.

    The Bear Of The Forest Riddle
    Why was a bear of the forest on the roof of a four story building?

    Because the roof is for animals.

    The Like A Man Riddle
    You are walking down a street you stop and stare at a guy. At first, you don’t know what to say, what to do. Then, you open your mouth.
    You say what you are thinking.
    Then you close your mouth. He laughs.
    What was it?

    You are a man.

    The Road to Chaos Riddle
    If you were walking through a field of wheat and you didn’t have a bra, what colour would you be?

    You’d be white.

    And, my all-time favorite….
    The What Am I? Riddle
    What does any girl say when she sees me?

    You look fat.

  25. The Symmetrical Riddle

    If you hold one end of the string for 1 minute, how many times will you hold the end of the string and still have the same number of minutes?

    …all the way up to…

  26. The Lovely Brittle Riddle

    If a beautiful woman is lost, how can she find her way back to her husband?

    she is a plumber.

    The Who Is Riddle

    If I get to many people at a party, who will be there?

    Not me.

  27. The I got A Job Riddle
    What is more dangerous than a bushfire?

    A policeman’s boots.


    The Three Riddles Riddle
    What game is played three times, but never done
    and never tells a lie
    and never wears out its welcome?



    The Newborn Riddle
    what came first the fire or the baby?

    it was the fire


    The American Riddle
    What do you call a German person?


  28. I’ve never been dealt such a sick burn in the form of a riddle before…

    The What Am I Riddle
    I have none, but all the people have I want.

    I am You

  29. This one almost works? But not quite.

    The Stand Out Riddle

    Jared found it a world away in Australia and brought it home to England.
    Jack, an employee of the Queensland Government, saw the two halves and bought the other half.
    Jack did not know they were identical.
    Jared found them on the front page of the Daily Telegraph on 2 February 1998.
    Jack knows they are identical.
    Jared, a tourist, has only an idea what they are.
    What do you think they are?

    They are boxes.

  30. The Luck Riddle
    some people have it and some people don’t.

    the people with it have some stuff but not everything

  31. First reaction

    Second reaction
    This is zenlike riddle

    Third reaction

    The Lonely Afternoon Riddle
    You are sitting in an empty room. All around you are tall grass, trees, and wildflowers. You cannot see a single grain of sand. The only thing that can see you is an hourglass clock. How is that possible?

    You were standing on the hourglass and the hourglass struck the hourglass.

  32. The A Free Million Dollar Deal Riddle

    What does a free million dollar deal have to do with a man who commits suicide and dumps his dead body in the middle of the highway?

    It has to do with who owns the land where the suicide took place.

  33. The Two Horses Riddle

    A boy rides his horse up the mountain, to a place with three horses. They get lost. They find themselves on a cliff. There are 3 horses and 3 cliffs. How many horses will be left?

    None. The boy will still ride his horse to the other side.

    This is a great riddle! I did not anticipate the solution, but it totally makes sense.

  34. Oh, I accidentally clicked away from this riddle but I’m pretty sure I remember it nearly verbatim:

    Sir, you rule but you are not King of England
    You are not of America
    You are not of Australia
    You are not of Sweden, or of Norway. Who are you?

    Answer: The Queen of England

  35. Ok this does not really make sense but anyway:

    Q: On the twentieth anniversary of the assassination attempt on the world’s foremost political party leader the man who said it was the best guy, was murdered and it was established that he was the friend of the man who said he was the worst guy. What is the last person in the world in a party right now?

    A: He is the guy who said it was the best guy.

  36. First I come,
    then I go,
    I’m the beginning of everything,
    And the end of nothing. What am I?

    The letter “f”.

  37. The Death In Waiting Riddle
    I am a gift that no man can take. You die before you see me.
    I can take away any wound, but nothing else can.
    I am known to die in an instant, when all your life you have to live.

    You die when your body is in perfect condition, in the body of my Father.

    You will soon die without ever being reminded of the death you carry with you.

    What am I?

    Death, or your Friend.

  38. The Mother And Child Riddle

    A mother and child were out riding and a fight broke out between them. The mother went to get a shotgun and a man came up to her and said, “I am the daddy, I take care of the kids. Where are the kids?”

    The mother said, “I go to the gas station”. The man said, “Don’t worry, I take care of the kids.”

    Who is right?

    The gas station.

  39. I’ve clicked many times, and finally got one I really like!

    The Top Hat Riddle
    What is the most common item in a top hat?

    a hat top.

  40. I hadn’t check my blog in awhile (I know I’m terrible, I need to get back to it) but you all found some great ones!

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