How Gotham's Riddler Was Able To Do What He Did, According To The Actor

Gotham has been slowly bringing the Riddler out to play over the past two seasons on the show with Ed Nygma's gradual descent into madness. Now we have an idea of how this show's version of the infamous villain actually came about. And, if you think you know what drove Nygma to embrace his dark side after leading a, seemingly, normal and peaceful life, his portrayer, Cory Michael Smith, believes you probably have it wrong. Instead of blaming the Gotham police co-workers who teased him, or, you know, himself, for taking a big turn to the dark side, Nygma is convinced that fate itself has sealed his life into that of an evil-doer.

Cory Michael Smith spoke about this idea with, revealing that Nygma had to split into two personalities in order to take his dark side fully to heart.

He accidentally killed two people, when he had good intentions. So I just kind of like this idea that Ed very physically manifested this part of himself that he thought was outside of himself, this ability to do these horrible things.

In case you've forgotten, Nygma's first kill was the boorish, and probably physically abusive, detective who briefly dated Kristen Kringle. After Nygma confronts him for not treating Kristen right, their confrontation eventually leads to Nygma stabbing the ever loving crap out of him, leaving the cop dead and his body in need of disposal. Nygma had no intention of killing him, but once he did, his darker side was unleased in a major way. His personality split, and according to Cory Michael Smith, this was the only way he could deal with the darkness that he found himself capable of.

So, how exactly does fate play a part in all this? Because, even from a casual perspective, Nygma is responsible for letting his anger get the best of him to the point where he kills two people and gets rid of their bodies. Well, Smith has an idea of how this came about, as well.

He thought he was innocent of all those feelings because he'd denied them for so long. Then learning to embrace them, that they are part of him, and I think his -- the way that he normalizes things or psychoanalyzes things is different than most people. So seeing this reality given to him by fate, he thinks that all these bad feelings mean that he's a bad person; it's part of his capacity to do this, so he's going to because fate has decided this is his life. That's versus other people who might be like, 'Oh, I made a mistake. I get angry sometimes, but that doesn't mean I'm a bad person.' He's so consumed by this.

So, it seems that our soon-to-be Riddler feels like this is just his life now. He hasn't made the decisions that have brought him to his life locked up in Arkham Asylum; instead fate put situations in his way that his darker side couldn't help but respond to, and it did with ferocity. All Nygma feels he's doing is responding to what fate has presented him with in the only way possible.

I have to say, I think that reasoning might be brilliant, and even nuttier than what I could have dreamed up for why Nygma finally went from sorta weirdo to full-on murderous evil. And, it makes perfect sense. Bad guys almost always feel that they have been wronged and that the way they handle things is for the best reasons. There's no real reason for Riddler-light to feel any different.

We'll be able to watch Ed Nygma continue his trip down the dark road of murder and mayhem when Gotham returns to FOX on September 19 for Season 3.

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Covering The Witcher, Outlander, Virgin River, Sweet Magnolias and a slew of other streaming shows, Adrienne Jones is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend, and started in the fall of 2015. In addition to writing and editing stories on a variety of different topics, she also spends her work days trying to find new ways to write about the many romantic entanglements that fictional characters find themselves in on TV shows. She graduated from Mizzou with a degree in Photojournalism.