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TV Tropes Blog Hop: Remember the Noodle Incident?

The TV Tropes Blog Hop is finally here! Although we have a small number of participants, it doesn't mean you can't check them out! Don't forget to visit all the blogs listed at the end of the post. It'll only cost about five minutes of your time, but it's worth it.

For the yMusic post, I'm sorry to say that I'm moving it to Sunday indefinitely.

Keep your eyes out for more blog hops in the future. But for now, here's the post I created for this blog hop:

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That's right, Calvin. You never explained it.

Ah, the Noodle Incident, named after one of Calvin and Hobbes' most famous jokes. It's one of my favorite tropes that I wish I can use more often in my stories.

Definition:

According to its page on TV Tropes, a 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
  • [with] the reality that any explanation would fall short of audience expectations

To explain it in my own words, a Noodle Incident is a past event that is unexplained, forcing the audience to imagine all of the details.

Variations:

In most cases, the dialogue which brings up such an incident in passing dodges around the issue, hinting at it. The same set of phrases are sometimes used, liked "remember the time when...?", "let's not go there," "oh no, not again!", etc.

Of course, there's a few variations:

  • A true Noodle Incident: an incident that is alluded to and never elaborated in-universe. Out-of-universe, Word of God might give in or just let the audience know. (The trope namer)
  • A Noodle Incident that starts off with all the trappings of a true one, but is revealed later in a work. (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's bowl of petunias, at least in the novels)
  • A Noodle Incident that briefly happens before the work that has a huge effect on the plot, but it's never elaborated. (The Ed, Edd, n Eddy movie, according to my sources)
  • A Noodle Incident that occurs during the story off-screen, but it's never elaborated in full. (Whatever "trade secret" Kurama used to make Kaito laugh in his no-talk zone)
However, like many similar tropes, many instances of the Noodle Incident don't exactly stick to the audience. It becomes a throw-away joke, instead of being a moment that fans speculate or get frustrated over for years to come.

Tips:

There're ways to make it stick though.

Here's some factors I have observed that lead to a Noodle Incident sticking out:

  • Give it a name: "Noodle Incident" is a short but memorable phrase that makes discussing it easier than "that one incident with the noodles".
  • Bring it up multiple times: Although Calvin and Hobbes ran for years in a medium that is hard to read all installments, The Noodle Incident pops up enough time that many readers during its initial runs and the years after that hear of it at least once.
  • Induce a reaction: The stronger the characters react to it--whatever it involves dialogue, facial expressions, reactions, or plain old emotions--the more memorable it is. Fleeting Noodle Incidents are rarely remember.
  • Use plenty of humor: The Noodle Incident was written as a joke. The aforementioned "bowl of petunias"   was one of many jokes that stood out in the movie adaptation due to its execution.
A good rule of thumb for seeing if a Noodle Incident had great impact is if a fan at one point wrote a fan fiction around it, indicating that it incited speculation.


Examples From My Own Writing:

Now, in my current project, Manifestation Files, I have one of the "will be explained later" variety, The Cat Incident. Whatever it is, it caused the split between the narrator and his former best friend. And despite the two having quite a lot of conflict between each other, it's implied they were really close before it happened. In future drafts, I'll definitely have it pop up more, with plenty of reactions.

For a "true Noodle Incident", I have one incident in a superhero idea that I have: Spartan Wrestling. Basically, it was the final dare in a Truth or Dare game the protagonist participated it at a teen party. From the bits I thought up in my mind, he gets quite flustered around it, yet it was worth the $500 jackpot he won.

Not to mention it sounds a bit dirty--which it's not, but that's one reason it sticks in my mind.

YOUR TURN: Do you have a Noodle Incident in your work?