The Noid: Man or Monster?

This article originally ran on Mike Podgor’s Monsters of Multimedia on July 11, 2018.

If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember the Noid. A red-clad humanoid created by the Claymation superstars at Will Vinton Studios, his sole goal was to stop the delivery of Domino’s pizzas. At the very least, he wanted to ensure they didn’t reach the customer within Domino’s self-imposed half-hour time limit. He rarely succeeded in this task, but being a cartoon pitchman in the eighties allowed one a level of stardom not seen since the days of the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. A cartoon was planned and two seperate video games were created, one even kissed by retro gaming royalty Capcom, and his legacy was only cut short by death and destruction. Literally. The Noid’s sad end began when it was revealed that Domino’s 30-minute guarantee was causing a frankly absurd amount of costly accidents and was cemented when an mentally ill man with the surname Noid believed the commercials were about avoiding him and so he took a Domino’s hostage. Things ended sadly for both Noids, but we’re not here to focus on the Noid’s history but rather the very nature of his being: namely, what is he? Man, or monster?

While Domino’s Pizza has been contacted for a concrete answer to this question, it’s quite probable they will never be heard from and so the answer must be sought by delving into all Noid-based media. Since this amounts to two video games and a handful of commercials, there’s not a lot to go on but we’ll hopefully make some determination by the end of this article. It should be noted that all of these were pulled from YouTube, and a hearty thanks is due each and every brave soul that did so.

The first Noid commercial act refers to him as “a Noid” interfering that this is not the only Noid, but part of a group of Noids. While this may denote his species designation (a Noid) it may simply be a classification of his occupation. For example, any group of professionals (i.e. priests, artists, writers) can be referred to in their professional capacity as well as what they are (i.e. human) which may be the case here. Much more telling is the Noid’s size. He is barely bigger than the initial pizzas and much smaller than the Domino’s pizza. Unless the pizzas are for some reason gargantuan, his size denotes him as something inhuman.

Unlike the first commercial, this one shows us the Noid in more domestic surroundings and the only thing unusual is the end, in which he blinks himself out of existence with a remote control. Since this is basically a short cartoon, this does nothing to prove or disprove his humanity.

This batch of commercials once again returns the Noid to his diminutive size, not unlike the gremlins that supposedly menaced planes in the second World War. Similar to the gremlins, the Noid’s sole purpose is to undo the aspirations of man. While previous gremlins sought only to destroy planes and machinery, the Noid is much more interested in destroying pizzas. Whether this is more or less threatening is entirely up to the reader to decide.

In this commercial, the Noid travels from a realm where he matches the scale of everything to an actual living room where he’s very tiny. This is the first time we see the Noid in the real world, and it’s clear that he’s not actually a human as we know them. He also has access to black magicks so make of that what you will.

There’s a lot to take in with this commercial. It’s a rap about avoiding the Noid in a realm resembling the Wackyland most prominently seen in Tiny Toons Adventure and features children outwitting the Noid that is, at least, as large as them. Due to their surroundings, it’s possible that the children have somehow made it to the Noid’s world and are subsequently mocking him.

The Noid is once again the real world, and once again very tiny. There’s not much more to take in, except that this predates the Noid’s two video games. It would not be a surprise to learn that later versions of this ad ran with a brief bumper explaining that the Noid was finally in a computer game.

The Noid is once again in the realm where he faced off against the children, but this time faces the menace of Domino’s stopping their guarantee that all pizzas would be delivered within a half-hour or they would be free. The penalties for avoiding the Noid are lessened, and therefore his power is diminished.

This is probably the most cartoonish the Noid gets, causing an explosion that launches him into space and squashes him flat. This doesn’t mean he’s any more or less human, though the over-sized pizza does continue that trend.

The final Noid commercial we’ll be looking at simply involves him controlling the weather, only to be undone by Domino’s pizza. From these commercials, we have learned that the Noid is different sizes based on where he manifests. In the Noid’s home realm, he’s to scale with his surroundings. In the real world, he’s diminutive. It’s safe to say at this point that he’s not a human but some sort of monster. The question remains: what kind of monster is he?

We’ve gone through enough commercials and they’ve yielded some answers, so we must turn to other media. While the Noid’s cartoon was dead on arrival, there were two video games featuring the character. The first was an MS-DOS game, available to play here, entitled Avoid the Noid.

The game is simple: you’re a pizza delivery person who has to deliver a pizza to the client at the top of a building while avoiding the titular Noid. While the entrance has an arrow above it that reads “doom” your driver goes into the building, where he is constantly beset by a group of Noids and their traps. This, at least, establishes that the Noid seemingly exists as a species. They’re half as tall as a human and able to kick a human in the face. Oddly, while the goal is to avoid the Noid and preserve your pizza, the delivery person jumps and rolls like an acrobat which probably does the pizza no favors. It requires a large amount of trial and error. A larger amount than I was able to really muster, and so I moved on to Yo! Noid for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

This game is far easier to play than Avoid the Noid, being a simple side-scroller. The most bizarre thing is that the Noid is cast as a hero in this game, being enlisted by the Mayor of New York to stop another Noid-like creature, Mister Green, and his legion of monsters. There is no explanation as to why the Noid is the mayor’s first choice, and the boss battles are bizarre affairs where you must out-eat (or at least out-last) your opponent in a pizza-eating contest. The first level is beset with cheap fish-based and platforming deaths, while the second is an ice level, neither of which offer any further insight into the Noid’s nature.

There are two further games featuring the Noid. One was a browser game that is, sadly, no longer available. The other was a sequel to Yo! Noid titled Yo! Noid II: Enter the Noid which is a surprisingly good game considering how it was made in a month. The Noid is recast as a more sympathetic and heroic figure, and while only the first level was played for the purpose of this article, there are hints to a darker nature further into the game. However, since this game was not licensed by Capcom, any insights for the purposes of this article are null and void.

From what we’ve learned, it can safely be assumed that the Noid is not human and is some sort of monster. While he may be a Noid, he may also be some off-shoot of traditional gremlin or perhaps even a goblinoid. Should Domino’s ever reply to our inquiry, we will update this article.

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