Archive for the ‘paradox’ Category

“Double Trouble Duel” – Yu-Gi-Oh Three Part Episode

December 8, 2011 2 comments

In this cartoon the heroes of the show, Yugi and Joey, are locked in a tag team match against a pair of twins named Para and Dox, otherwise known as the Paradox brothers. As the game commences the protagonists are baited with a riddle that will help them escape the labyrinth they have found themselves in. Should they answer the riddle and win the card game they will have their freedom. The riddle is a retelling of a classic riddle that goes as follows: there is a traveler wishing to go to the village of truth. Along his journey he is told that bordering the village of truth is the village of lies which is full of bandits and thieves that will destroy the traveler. It is also revealed that guarding the fork in the road leading to both villages is a resident of either village. Upon reaching this villager the traveler is offered to ask a single question to find his way. The riddle is then given over to the listener to provide the answer which is, “Take me to your village.” The guard would then take the traveler to the village of truth regardless of his origins. However in the three part Yu-gi-oh episode the riddle is expanded to include two guards on the road, two travelers, and a two question allowance mirroring the duel happening in the cartoon. The riddle is based on a classic known as knights and knaves. The old riddle is basically the same as the one featured in Yu-Gi-Oh with the major exception that there is an actual answer. What makes the riddle work is a premise known as the liar’s paradox. The phrase “this sentence is false” is the most popular form of the liar’s paradox. As long as the liar in the scenario always lies then the riddle can work. In the cartoon’s example both guards are lying causing the paradox to arise.

This added complexity baffles the pair of heroes at first causing a state of confusion. This confusion is shared by the audience who is no doubt trying to answer the riddle also. Joey is the first to answer having been familiar with the original riddle. He is reprimanded for his rashness in wasting his question. After having vanquished the two brothers it is left to Yugi to provide the final question. From here it is revealed that there is no correct answer. The riddle is impossible because of its delivery. The Paradox brothers cannot be trusted because if one only tells truths and the other lies there is no way of knowing which is which. They can be both lying. This causes a paradox not in the answer but in the originating instance, a riddle having an answer and no answer at the same time. The riddle is both wrong and right. This duality is only possible in a paradox. The correct answer is revealed when Yugi exposes the twins as frauds. The protagonists would have been wrong no matter what they did. Having discovered the truth the heroes are then granted the proper exit. Through this whole ordeal paradox is used to shed some light on the characters. Yugi is shown as the level head that ultimately prevails while his rash counter-part, Joey, learns a valuable lesson about trust. The villains are shown as conniving and sinister for presenting the false riddle. Paradox serves to highlight character traits and flaws in an interesting way with the final product of being entertaining.


Follow these links for the original Yu-Gi-Oh episodes:

For another example of the riddle see this clip from the 1986 movie Labyrinth:


Works Cited:

Henson, Jim, dir. Labyrinth. Prod. George Lucas. Tristar Pictures, 1986. Film.

pedestrian42, prod. Sarah’s Certain Death Riddle. 2008. Film. <;.

Sugishima, Kunihisa, dir. Double Trouble Duel, Part 1. Writ. Junki Takegami. Studio Gallop, 2000. Film. <

Sugishima, Kunihisa, dir. Double Trouble Duel, Part 2. Writ. Junki Takegami. Studio Gallop, 2000. Film. <,vepisode,1,0

Sugishima, Kunihisa, dir. Double Trouble Duel, Part 2. Writ. Junki Takegami. Studio Gallop, 2000. Film. <,vepisode,1,0

Windmill Paradox – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

December 8, 2011 4 comments

In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time the player is given control of Link, the hero time. Time has already appeared again as an agent of paradox as in past examples. Throughout the adventure Link has been tasked with saving the world by traveling through time. Eventually the player comes to an impasse. An invisible beast has ransacked a town and it is revealed that only a certain artifact can be used to defeat the creature. In order to attain the item the player must go back in time and explore a dungeon beneath the town’s well. However the well is full of water keeping the hero from venturing further. Upon traveling the future Link enters the town’s windmill which houses a strange organ grinder playing a mysterious tune. Upon talking to the man he is furious about an incident that occurred seven years earlier, the time of “young” Link, in which a small boy, dressed similar to the way the player is attired, plays a magical song that causes the windmill to malfunction and drain the well. In his frustration the organ grinder teaches Link the song. Afterward the player returns to the past and plays the song inside the windmill to drain the well and continue on with the adventure. In doing so the player creates a paradoxical loop otherwise known as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In a paradoxical loop, or self-fulfilling prophecy, one thing in the chain causes the other and vice versa. In this example the loop hinges on the organ grinder. He hears the song at one point in time and teaches that same song in another. However he would have never heard the song in the first place had he not taught the song to Link in the first place. This causes a paradox. It shouldn’t be possible, but it has happened none-the-less. This adds a layer of mystery to the proceedings. The player is left to wonder who this character, Link, is and how he can manipulate time, achieving the impossible. It is this strong feeling of mystery that draws the player in to eventually finish the story and narrative. This scenario and others like it help to establish this game as a masterpiece of the interactive entertainment medium.

Here is a clip showing the first half of the paradox:


Works Cited:

euphoricnerd, prod. Song of Storms – I MAKE IT RAIN. 2011. Film. <;.

Miyamoto, Shigeru, dir. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Yoichi Yamada, Eiji Aonuma, Yoshiaki Koizumi, dirs. Nintendo. 1998. Video Game.

Categories: narrative, paradox, videogame

“Roswell That Ends Well” a.k.a. the Grandma Paradox

December 8, 2011 Leave a comment

In episode nineteen of the third season Futurama the cast of characters find themselves flung into the distant past of 1947 by way of a popcorn accident colliding with a supernova. Time travel in and of itself is a thin form of paradox, but in this episode paradox is exploited further by what happens next. While trying to sort through the mess the main character of the series, Fry, happens upon his grandfather. Upon meeting his grandfather he is warned that engaging with the past could severely disrupt the future. Fry then tries his best to maintain the fragile balance of time, but he is sidetracked upon meeting his grandmother who is immediately stricken with him. He then takes it upon himself to keep his grandparents together, but he is further befuddled to find out through a series of sight gags, puns, and one-liners that his grandfather is a closet homosexual and accident prone. Despite his best efforts Fry fails to protect his grandfather and inadvertently houses his progenitor on a nuclear test site. The following explosion should have erased him from existence and yet he lives. While trying to console his grieving grandmother Fry then sleeps with her. It is later revealed that she is pregnant with Fry’s father meaning that he has now become his own grandfather.

This is a prime example of paradox in popular culture. It is logically impossible to be your own grandfather. For Fry to even exist he would need to have a grandfather. This is known as paradoxical loop. One instance affirms the subsequent instances in the chain which in turn confirms the primary instance, in this case siring children. Not only does this paradox serve to create confusion it comes off with comedic effect. The apparent incest is funny and unexpected. This episode also serves to parody the film Back to the Future in which a similar situation occurs. The audience arrives at a series of emotions: confusion, humor, and nostalgia. Each feeling serves to connect the viewer to the episode in a compelling way.

The following link will take you to a clip from the episode detailing Fry’s disturbing discovery.

Grandma Paradox

Works Cited:

Futurama. “Roswell That Ends Well”. 20th Century Fox. 2001. Film.

Grandma Paradox. Comedy Partners, 2008. Film. <;.

Categories: humor, paradox, TV episode

Paradox Overview

December 6, 2011 4 comments

According to Lanham a paradox refers to “a seemingly self-contradictory statement, which yet is shown to be (sometimes in a surprising way) true” (107). Lanham follows this definition with a phrase of unclear origin, “She makes the black night bright by smiling on it.” The black night is understood to be impenetrable in its darkness but is sundered with this woman’s smile. As an example of paradox this excerpt does little to explain the contradictory nature of the term. Nothing in the aforementioned sentence is self-contradictory as Lanham would suggest, but rather it is hyperbolic. A single smile, a relatively dull thing, illuminates the darkness. With the absence of a concrete example of paradox it is more important to provide instances of this strange occurrence in order to educate audiences to its complexities.

In popular culture paradoxes are used in a number of ways. The most common method a paradox is used is involuntary. The writer or creator of a text accidentally creates a self-contradiction. In this instance a paradox only serves to discredit the author. However, not all instances of this rhetorical device are by mistake. Paradox may be used in a number of ways to create mystery, intrigue, confusion, comedy, or to shed a particular light on a character’s personality within the text. This effect occurs mainly in narrative storytelling that can be found in short or long fiction, movies, television, and video games and is implemented mainly through the distortion of time.


Lanham, Richard A. A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms: Second Edition. Los Angeles: UCP. 1991. Print.

Categories: overview, paradox