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A diagram explaining the outcomes of the game.
Another diagram, displaying clockwise from top: Scissors, Paper, Rock, Lizard, Spock.
The normal form matrix of Rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock. Rows represent available choices for player 1, columns those for player 2. Numbers in cells show utility (payoff) for player 1, player2.

Rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock is a five-gesture expansion of the classic selection method game rock-paper-scissors. It operates on the same basic principle, but includes two additional weapons: the lizard (formed by the hand as a sock-puppet-like mouth) and Spock[1] (formed by the Star Trek Vulcan salute). This reduces the chances of a round ending in a tie. The game was invented by Sam Kass and Karen Bryla.[2]

The game was mentioned in three episodes of The Big Bang Theory. According to an interview with Kass, the series producers did not ask for permission to use the game, but he was later referenced in an episode in the fifth season.[3]


The rules of Rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock are:

There are ten possible pairings of the five gestures; each gesture beats two of the other gestures and is beaten by the remaining two.

One way to remember the rules is to remember the standard "rock-paper-scissors" ordering, where each gesture defeats the one before it, and is defeated by the one after. But then add the two novel gestures near the word they approximately rhyme with:

  1. Rock
  2. Spock
  3. Paper
  4. Lizard
  5. Scissors

In this expanded list, each gesture is defeated by the following two options, and defeats the preceding two.