The Noodle Family appear in the "Elmo's World" segments of Sesame Street. A group of silent characters, Elmo frequently asks the Noodles to demonstrate how to perform a chore or answer a question; they respond through pantomime, but invariably gets the process wrong, or fails to follow Elmo's instructions. Through trial and error and repeated prompting, The Noodles usually manage to figure it out.
Writer Louise Gikow called the Noodles "a dynasty of mimes,...in the tradition of great silent film comedians like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd". They make mistakes, but solve them with the help of "enthusiastic kid voice-overs", which empowered children and helped them feel smarter than the adults. They are silent in order to allow Elmo to do all the talking, and to give children the opportunity to respond to what they saw on the screen. Acting similar to clowns, using slapstick and similar types of physical comedy, they physically and humorously act out their replies to Elmo's questions. According to writer and "Elmo's World" co-creator Judy Freudberg, "Mr. Noodle, who never speaks, is all about trial and error. When you throw him a hat, he acts like he's never seen one before. Kids feel empowered watching him because they can do what he can't". According to Sesame Street researcher Lewis Bernstein, the characters, whom he called "bungling", give young viewers "the opportunity to figure it out" before the adults did.
Mr. Noodle was introduced along with Elmo's World in Season 30. Mr. Noodle was played by Bill Irwin, who had previously worked with Arlene Sherman, executive producer of Sesame Street and co-creator of "Elmo's World", on short films produced for the show.
For the next season Irwin was unavailable, so Sherman asked her friend Michael Jeter to replace Irwin as Mr. Noodle's brother Mr. Noodle. Jeter enthusiastically accepted, later calling it his favorite role in 20 years. Irwin returned to the role of Mr. Noodle and appeared alongside Jeter in two Season 32 segments, after which the two Noodle brothers alternated, and occasionally appeared jointly. Jeter continued in the role as Mr. Noodle's brother until his death in 2003 (at the end of Season 34); Jeter appeared in 23 Elmo's World episodes and two Elmo's World specials.
In 2001 Actress Kristin Chenoweth was cast as Mr. Noodle's sister Ms. Noodle and appeared alongside her two brothers in two home-video productions. She later appeared in a Season 34 episode and two Season 37 episodes.
Bill Irwin, the original Mr. Noodle, continued in the role throughout the entire initial run of Elmo's World (which concluded in Season 40); Irwin appears in 42 of the original episodes plus three Elmo's World specials.
Starting in Season 47, the concept of Elmo's World was revived in a new format. Irwin returned as Mr. Noodle and the series introduced some new Noodle family members, including two new brothers, played by the Tony and Grammy Award-winning Daveed Diggs and comedian Daniel Koren.
- Elmo doesn't know why the Noodle family lives outside his window.
- The "Elmo's World Live!" stage shows at Sesame Place feature Mr. Noodle's nephew, Mr. Noodle in a similar role.
- The Cookie Thief depicts Mr. Noodle in a painting by "Cookie Magritte" entitled The Brother of Mr. Noodle (a spoof of Magritte's Son of Man). Despite the title, the painting is of Mr. Noodle, not his brother, Mr. Noodle.
- The Noodle family also has three dogs - Schmoodle, Floodle, and Frank.
- Outside of Elmo's World, Mr. Noodle (Irwin) appeared in one of the many celebrity montage versions of "Sing."
- Five of the six actors to portray the Noodles in Elmo's World are Tony Award winners (the exception being Daniel Koren).
- Gikow, Louise A. (2009). Sesame Street: A Celebration - 40 Years of Life on the Street. (page 169)
- Clash, Kevin (2006). My Life as a Furry Red Monster (page 77)
- Davis, Michael (2008). Street Gang.(page 339)
- Oliver, Myrna (2003). "Michael Jeter, 50; 'Mr. Noodle' on Sesame Street". The Los Angeles Times.
- Season 47 Press Kit
- Ask Elmo.