Three Doors Riddle

You’re in the woods – it’s dark, there’s no electricity, and you’re running from something (e.g. a bear, a ghost, or some other scary thing). You come across an empty building and go inside. Before you are three doors (may vary among tellers): a circle one, a triangle one, and a rectangle one. Which do you choose?

After you choose one, you are presented with another three doors: for example, one red, one green, one blue. You choose, and again there are three doors: one covered in velvet, one covered in glitter, and one made of wood. This may go on until you are presented with a final set of three doors: one that leads to a den of hungry lions, one to a room with an electric chair, and one with a rising flood. Which do you choose?

The other two doors may vary, but all are meant to present an inescapable death – except the electric chair. As said at the beginning of the riddle, there is no electricity – therefore, upon choosing the room with the electric chair, you will survive, and have thus solved the riddle.

The informant also mentioned a variation of the riddle where one room instead leads to a group of lions that haven’t eaten in a hundred years – in this case, you are meant to be distracted from the fact that the lions would be dead from starvation.

Context: The informant first heard this riddle somewhere between the ages 9 and 13, while at a junior lifeguard summer camp.

Analysis: This seems to fit into a trend of ‘catch’ riddles that a) casually introduce a key detail (lack of electricity), b) distract the receiver with irrelevant information made to seem important (choices between doors + a sense of urgency), and c) ask a question that, unbeknownst to the receiver, depends solely on the key detail. The receiver is then meant to feel foolish for missing the obvious.