The Disappearing Dollar: Comic Book Edition

Logic puzzles, Brain Teasers, Logic Conundrums…

Call them what you will…

The Skeptical Samurai loves them! 

Logic puzzles, are a great workout for the grey matter, and an effective way to keep you humble in the face of potential misplaced overconfidence.

Here is a SUPER nerdy spin on a classic logic puzzle.

Three comic book nerds (let us call them Ryan, Rich and Dan) attend a comic con.  To their amazement they come across “Comic Book Guy” who is selling a CGC 9.0 rated edition of Incredible Hulk #181 CGC

for the amazingly “low price” of $3000!

Realizing that no one individual has $3000 to spend, Ryan, Rich and Dan enter a nerd huddle and determine that they each have brought $1000 to the comic con, and if they pool their funds they can collectively afford this classic bronze age comic (and then quite possibly re-enact the classic Simpsons “Three Men and a Comic”, where Bart, Milhouse and Martin collectively purchase Radioactive Man #1, and are then forced to deal with the consequences of joint ownership of a highly desired comic book).

Ryan, Rich and Dan pay “Comic Book Guy” $3000, and in turn collectively become owners of one of the Bronze Age’s most sought after books. 

Pan back to Comic Book Guy.  He realizes that he has overcharged Ryan, Rich and Dan for the comic.  After making the sale, he quickly glances at the most recent comic price guide, when he is horrified to learn that he should have charge $2500, and not $3000.  Feeling that he has compromised his comic book ethics, he gives his lackey “Side Kick” $500 to return to Ryan, Rich and Dan in order to appease the Comic Book Gods.  However, “Side Kick” feels that his talents have always been under appreciated by Comic Book Guy, so he decides not return the full $500.  Instead he pockets $200, and gives $100 each to Ryan, Rich and Dan.

But there seems to be a problem…

$100 has gone missing! 

Ryan, Rich and Dan started off by paying “Comic Book Guy” $3000 ($1000 each) for Incredible Hulk #181.  Feeling that he had compromised his comic book ethics, “Comic Book Guy” gave $500 of the $3000 to “Side Kick” who took $200 for himself and gave the remaining $300 back to Ryan, Rich and Dan ($100 to each man).  Ryan, Rich and Dan originally paid $1000 (3 x $1000 = $3000), and have received $100 back, which means that each of them have now paid $900 to “Comic Book Guy”

So we have got the $2700 to “Comic Book Guy” (3 x $900) and $200 to “Side Kick” which he pocketed.  This accounts for $2900.  But Ryan, Rich and Dan originally gave “Comic Book Guy” $3000.

So where is the missing 100 dollars gone?

Answer after the jump!

This has been the Skeptical Samurai

Working to Serve…

Through the Process of Inquiry…


One Response to “The Disappearing Dollar: Comic Book Edition”

  1. theskepticalsamurai Says:


    The key to this brain teaser is to not get caught by the subtle misdirection in the description of the event. This particular brain teaser typically tricks most people, because just like a good magic trick, it misleads people to believe/accept that something has happened that has not.

    Let us review the brain teaser shall we!

    It is true that Ryan, Rich and Dan have each paid $900 toward Incredible Hulk #181. In other words, they have paid a total of $2700. However this includes the $200 that “Side Kick” pocketed, so there is no extra $200 to add to $2700 to make $2900. The $3000 is a red herring. Ryan, Rich and Dan originally paid $3000, but once the $300 has been paid back to them, this figure no longer applies.

    To make this all clear, consider the following

    Ryan, Rich and Dan pay $3000 for a CGC 9.0 Incredible Hulk #181
    Comic Book Guy has $3000

    Comic Book Guy gives Side Kick $500 out of this $3000
    Comic Book Guy has $2500
    Side Kick has $500

    Side Kick returns $300 to Ryan, Rich and Dan
    Comic Book Guy has $2500
    Side Kick has $200
    (Ryan, Rich and Dan have $300)

    Ryan, Rich and Dan have paid $2700 dollars in total
    Comic Book Guy has $2500
    Side Kick has $200

    The shows that the $2700 paid by Ryan, Rich and Dan, $2500 of which has gone to Comic Book Guy, and $200 of which has gone to Side Kick. However there is no reason to add Side Kick’s pocketed $200 to Ryan, Rich and Dan’s total of $2700 (as this already includes Side Kick’s pocketed $200). This brain teaser typically works because of a subtle misdirection that occurs in the original description of the events that leads you to add the $200 that Side Kick has pocketed, when in actuality (as explained above) there is no reason to do this.

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