The Noodle Incident is a running gag in the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. It was mentioned several times, but the reader has never been told what exactly the incident was. Much like Hobbes' reality, it is assumable that Bill Watterson wants the reader to make up his or her own perspective of what could have happened. Throughout the comic, the most that we learn is that it was presumably done by Calvin (though he may have been framed) and has caused him to worry about possibly not getting any presents from Santa Claus. Whenever a character, usually Hobbes, mentions it to Calvin, he immediately gets very defensive about it. When Hobbes commented on the Incident, Calvin claimed that "no one can prove he did it," and that it was rather an accident. Hobbes had also mentioned that there was a strainer involved.
- In one comic, Calvin complains about the downsides of his life and then states that today will be different because he will "go for the gusto." In the following strip Calvin tells Hobbes he got in big trouble at school. Hobbes asks Calvin what he did, and Calvin replies, "I don't want to talk about it." Hobbes then asks if it had anything to do with "the sirens around noon" and Calvin again doesn't want to talk about it, implying that it was a dangerous incident.
- In another comic, Calvin brought noodles to school for his report on the brain saying that it was a brain this is the most likly explanation.
- It may have involved worms and something belonging to Calvin's father. In a strip where Calvin was reminiscing on not getting punished very severely over backing his parents' car into a ditch, Hobbes remarked "But try keeping live worms in your dad's..."; at which point Calvin interrupted him and dismissed the issue very defensively, the same way he did when questioned about the Noodle Incident.
- In one strip, Hobbes mentions "The Salamander Incident." However, it is unknown if the Salamander Incident was related to the Noodle Incident, or perhaps another name for it. If the latter is true, then the Noodle Incident may have involved salamanders.
These are the only facts we know about the Noodle Incident:
- Calvin was the apparent perpetrator.
- It involved noodles.
- It involved hot noodle sauce.
- It happened at school. Miss Wormwood evidently knows about it, and may have even been a witness to the incident taking place. This is revealed in a strip where Calvin's mother goes to a parent-teacher conference with Miss Wormwood, causing Calvin to panic when she gets home, asking her "Miss Wormwood told you about the noodles, didn't she?!" Calvin's mother replies with a suspicious "No...", and does not press the issue.
- Calvin never told his parents about the incident. Apparently, Miss Wormwood and Principal Spittle never told Calvin's parents either, so the incident would have had to have been something big enough to get Calvin in trouble, yet not big enough to involve Calvin's parents.
- It happened a long time ago, (as revealed in a fantasy strip where Calvin is imagining Santa Claus and one of his elves reviewing his "case" to determine if Calvin has been good or bad that year) and therefore, must have been a very serious incident for it to still be remembered now. The fact that Hobbes repeatedly brings it up (as did Santa Claus in Calvin's imagination once), seems to imply the memory still haunts Calvin to this day.
- One of Santa's elves also notes that they've had "trouble verifying the particulars; accounts seem to vary", which suggests that what exactly happened is in dispute. Alternately, this may just be Watterson's noting that different fans will have their own versions of the Noodle Incident.
- The police may or may not have been involved (see above), though if Calvin's parents never knew about it, then this is highly dubious.
- It is not exactly stated one way or the other, but it seems to be implied that Calvin was caught or framed, therefore his explanation was not believed (though this could simply be Calvin trying to avoid trouble). To try and prove innocence, Calvin apparently thought of a cover story, the creativity of which impressed Hobbes. Calvin, however, even now claims that it was the "unvarnished truth". Like the incident itself, we are never told exactly what Calvin's excuse was. In fact, for all we know, it may actually be the truth. According to Calvin, although apparently caught or framed, no one can prove he did it (which is also said by the elf mentioned above). However, considering Calvin may just be defensive about it makes such a statement questionable.
Whatever happened, Calvin was apparently forced to confess to it, as indicated in one strip where Calvin is lamenting his inability to write a fictional narrative for school. Hobbes offers, "What about your explanation of the Noodle Incident?", which Calvin insists was not a fabrication.