Noodle Incident

aka: Noodle Incidents

Hobbes: What about the noodle incident?
Calvin: No one can prove I did that!

The Noodle Incident is something from the past that is sometimes referred to but never explained, with the implication that it's just too ludicrous for words, and the reality that any explanation would fall short of audience expectations. Questions about it are often met with "You Don't Want To Know…" Persisting is a good way to press a character's Berserk Button.

Commonly introduced to the audience by having characters react to some fantastic and improbable event with "Oh no, not again." The key to this trope is that the audience is left to imagine what happened based on vague hints or clues, with funny (or scary) results.

Named for an incident referenced by the characters of Calvin and Hobbes, where the author admitted he decided against ever stating what happened, as he figured nothing he could come up with would be as outrageous as what the readers thought happened.

Don't be surprised if it was caused by a trickster-type character. If there's a noodle incident and a trickster happens to be in the main cast, the trickster is almost always responsible for it, or at least blamed for it.

Compare with Cryptic Background Reference, In-Joke, Noodle Implements, Second-Hand Storytelling, Take Our Word for It, That Mysterious Thing, & What Did I Do Last Night?. Reminiscing about a Noodle Incident by the people involved can result in Lost In Transmission for an outsider. Compare and contrast Offscreen Moment of Awesome, where the off-screen incident would have been better on-screen. See also Cow Tools. Enough such incidents create a character who has Seen It All. If a Noodle Incident is essential to solving a mystery, it's a Riddle for the Ages. If it results in the person/people involved being banished from wherever it happened, they've become Persona Non Grata. See also Great Offscreen War. Contrast Oblivious Mockery, where characters talk about an event they don't know happened but the viewer does (most of the time).

In Spy Fiction or similar tropes, the Noodle Incident is usually referred to by a place's name. "This is just like Budapest!" "Remember Helsinki?" "God, it's Rio de Janeiro all over again." Sometimes this is elaborated upon, but usually not.

To be clear, this isn't simply a reference to something that is never shown "on-screen". A Noodle Incident is marked by a lack of information, shown or told. Bob saying to Alice, "Remember that time we robbed a bank?" does not qualify, whereas "Remember the bank?" does.

Naturally, this trope is a good source of Fanfic Fuel. Often overlaps with Getting Crap Past the Radar.

Not to be confused with The Google Incident (or the second one), although you might get this vibe from some tropers.


Alternative Title(s):

Unexplained Past Incident, Throwaway Backstory Event, The Noodle Incident, Noodle Incidents