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Troll Bridge
"Stop! Who approaches the Bridge of Death must answer me These Questions Three, ere the other side he see."

I'm the grumpy old troll who lives under the briiiiiidge
I'm the grumpy old troll who lives under the briiiiiidge
Who's there?
If you wanna come over
All you have to do is this
All you have to do is thiiiiiiis
Solve my riddle!
The Grumpy Old Troll (who lives under the bridge), Dora the Explorer

The Hero and his companions are on a quest to find a MacGuffin, stop The Big Bad and Save The World. In order to get to the MacGuffin Location, they have to cross a bridge. But wait, there's someone guarding the bridge, and they won't let The Hero past until they pass a test.

Usually a troll of one kind or another, these bridgekeepers more often than not demand that anyone who wants to cross has to answer a riddle.

Related to Riddle of the Sphinx. Compare Only Smart People May Pass and Only the Worthy May Pass.

Examples

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    Fan Works 
  • The four encounter a variant of this during the quest for the third part of the Vasyn in With Strings Attached. In this case, they're in a narrow canyon and they have to pay a toll to a troll in order to pass. The troll wants flesh to eat, specifically George (who's a horse at the moment). When they turn it down, it jokes that it'll wrestle one of the rather feeble-looking four for the chance to continue on. Things do not end well for the troll, or at least its self-esteem.

    Film 
  • The old man from scene #24 who guards The Bridge of Death in Monty Python and the Holy Grail asks anyone who wants to cross five three questions, although the questions' difficulty varies wildly. Anyone who can't answer is flung into The Gorge of Eternal Peril. The catch: If you ask him a question and he can't answer it, he gets thrown.
    • The Black Knight may also count as a troll.
  • Labyrinth: In order to pass Sir Didymus's Bridge, you must first best the little creature in a fight ... or ask his permission.
  • Played for laughs in Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Little John refuses to let Robin and his group pass over the bridge unless they can beat him in a duel. The other characters then point out that the waterway that the bridge crosses "Ain't exactly the Mississippi" and can just as easily be jumped over without trouble. Robin fights Little John anyways. Hilarity Ensues.

    Literature 
  • The troll in the story of "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" threatens to eat the goats that cross the bridge he lives under.
  • This actually appears in the Morte d'Arthur. It appears in Chrétien de Troyes's version too.
  • It appears in the The Bible. The Angel of Death appears at a ford to prevent some guy from crossing it.
    • Also in The Bible, Balaam gets held up by an angel that only his donkey can see.
  • In Discworld this is a traditional Troll occupation. It is extremely impolite to mention the Three Billy Goats Gruff.
    • The Discworld short story 'Troll Bridge'' naturally features one of these. While Cohen originally was going to fight him, the two end up reminiscing together over how the world isn't as accommodating to heroes and monsters as it once was.
    • A Troll also has a legitimate job as a toll taker of a bridge into Lancre. It's mentioned that people crossing the bridge pay a certain amount to cross, and 10,000 gold pieces to bring a billy goat across. A footnote mentions, "Trolls may have been slow, but they didn't forget in a hurry either."
  • One of Jim Butcher's short stories in the Dresdenverse, called "Restoration of Faith", has an interesting take on a Bridge Troll... in Chicago, even.
  • In Septimus Heap, both the bridge to the House of Foryx as well as the House itself are guarded by a Toll-Man and a DoorKeeper respectively.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire (and its TV adaptation), the main bridge across the Green Fork is fortified and guarded by two castles known as The Twins that are the seat of the feudal house Frey. The Freys extort variable payments from whoever wants to cross their bridge, which can get absurdly high if the traveler is desperate enough.

    Live Action TV 
  • "STOP!" *thunder* "I am The Bridgekeeper!" He requires crossers to answer questions about shapes (and sometimes to play a tune) before they can pass him and cross.
  • Appeared in Northern Exposure in the episode when Fleischman leaves the show.
  • Parodied, minus the bridge, in "The Nightman Cometh" episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
  • MADtv had a sketch about a "Gap Troll" that asked riddles of customers to The Gap.
  • Once Upon a Time: The Enchanted Forest has a troll bridge, which is matched by a decrepit toll bridge in Storybrooke.
  • On Lost Girl, a between-seasons webisode has Kenzi searching for a druid and being stopped on a bridge by a short, scrawny guy who demands that she pay a toll. Turns out the guy was an internet troll but got demoted to bridge duty as punishment. However, when Kenzi and her companion try to ignore the troll and cross the bridge without payment, the troll attacks and beats them up. Despite his puny appearance, he is still a troll and has incredible strength. In the end Kenzi's companion agrees to take over the troll's bridge duty for a month so Kenzi can pass unmolested.
  • Merlin had something like this, with Warwick Davis playing the bridge-keeper, who simply wanted to impart some cryptic advice before letting Arthur, Merlin and Gwaine carry on their way.

    Mythology 
  • Oedipus encountered the Sphinx, who required all travelers to answer her riddle before letting them continue on their journey. If they failed, she ate them.

    Video Games 
  • In The Ledgend Of Zelda Twilight Princess Link must joust a King Bublin on The Eldin Bridge on horseback.
  • That one puzzle in The Secret of Monkey Island. The Troll is George Lucas in a Mask, you need to feed him a red herring to pass.
  • Colossal Cave has a troll bridge, as do umpteen other Interactive Fiction games probably influenced by it.
  • In My Sims Kingdom, Spookane resident Yuki stops you from crossing unless you bring her "shinies", found in the nearby ruins. If you don't, she'll bite your face! Okay, not really, but she really wants to!
  • A special event Fallout 2 parodies the Monty Python scene above, in which The Chosen One's path is blocked by a bridgekeeper, who will only let him pass if he answers three questions. If he is unable to answer the questions correctly, he will spotaneously die. If he answers all three correctly, he is allowed to pass. However, if he answers the final question with a question, the bridgekeeper himself will be unable to answer, and thus will die.
  • Shadowgate has a bridge, guarded by a troll. Like most things in Shadowgate, messing with him is usually fatal, as he likes pulling the bridge out from under you and is too smart to be fooled by copper coins. Only gold will do.
  • Touhou: Subterranean Animism has a bridge guarded by a jealousy-ridden, Ax-Crazy Bridge Princess. Three guesses how you get past her.
  • In one of the campaigns in The Battle For Wesnoth you will encounter a Toll Bridge, where you must pay Troll.
  • In some old Ultima games, any time you step on a bridge, there's a chance that you'll get a Random Encounter made up entirely of trolls.
  • The Interactive Fiction "game" +=3 confronts the player with a bridge guarded by a Three Troll, who will not let the player pass (and thus win) until he's been given three things. An intentional Guide Dang It written to illustrate that a puzzle can be "logical" and still utterly confounding: the player is holding only one item, but he can give the troll the clothes he's wearing to make up the difference.
  • In King's Quest I the player must get onto an island accessible by three bridges, all of which are guarded by a troll. Options are giving it treasure, or re-enacting "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" by coaxing a friendly goat to the scene.
  • Phantasy Star II, the bridge to your destination is guarded by a serial killer named Darum, and Rolf refuses to face him until you rescue Darum's kidnapped daughter.

    Webcomics 
  • In Digger, Surka the "honorary" bridge troll does this, though she's a bit more open to negotiation than most.
  • There was a troll on the Bridge Of Doom in The Heroes of Middlecenter. The first three heroes managed to weasel their way out of being eaten by promising that someone meatier was coming after... who happened to be the party paladin. The troll didn't expect the meat to fight back...
    • When they cross the same bridge back, it's now a crime scene and a cop asks three questions to said paladin.
  • At one point in Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic, a traveler gripes about having to cross a "troll bridge". His companion berates him for insulting toll collectors... only to discover the bridge actually is operated by a (very polite) troll.
  • One shows up in this The Princess Planet strip.

    Web Original 
  • The Campus Labyrinth of Magisterius University has a Troll Bridge. The troll doesn't let anyone pass unless they can exact change. "Most folks who isn't shapeshifters just change clothes with each other."
  • To acquire the secret knowledge of a forum, ye must first endure the wandering trolls and resist the urge to feed them with fire and attention.
  • The League of S.T.E.A.M. encounter one in their webisode, "Big Trouble".

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The Battle of Stamford Bridge (1066), where one Viking supposedly resisted the Saxon troops trying to cross the bridge, holding them off until the rest of the Vikings could prepare for battle. The Viking was defeated by one cunning Saxon going under the bridge and pushing his spear UPWARDS... There's a rather graphic illustration of this outside a nearby pub.

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