"Tiny, but fierce."
—Sanya concerning Karrin Murphy, The Dresden Files
When a small person is accosted by a larger opponent, most people expect the latter to win, but in fiction the smaller a combatant, the more ass they can kick.
Like the Square-Cube Law going down, a combatant gets cooler and more badass the smaller they are. Short guys trounce giant bruisers, children routinely trounce goons (provided it's a Home Alone set up), midgets will be amazing wrestlers (if not literal ankle biters), and mice or smaller creatures (especially of the Talking Animal variety) will swarm and overwhelm, if not individually disable enemies with rapier precision.
Much like Muscles Are Meaningless and Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, these characters are formidable fighters despite (or sometimes because of) their size.
In fact, there is some basis in science for larger proportional strength for smaller creatures: the Square-Cube Law works in the other direction. Although the volume, mass, and inertia of a half-sized humanoid such as a Hobbit is one-eighth a standard-sized human's, the strength of muscles is based on their cross sectional area, making Hobbits proportionally twice as strong as a human, and much more agile. This is also why ants are so strong compared to their mass. However, for this trope, Rule of Cool is in play whenever the Pint-Sized Powerhouse is as strong as, or stronger than, an average-sized human.
See also Apron Matron, for when small old ladies do this, and Mini-Mook. Cute Bruiser, for when they're young, or at least very young-looking. Killer Rabbit covers "harmless" animals. And Weak but Skilled for a common explanation behind this. Waif Fu and Glacier Waif are subtropes.
Anime and Manga
- Son Goku of Dragon Ball, up until he was around eighteen or so, was maybe half the size of most of the other characters. He introduced himself to Bulma by throwing her car.
- How about a piece of candy? Majin Buu turned Vegeto into a piece of candy to eat him, but was just as powerful and too small to hit! Buu was forced to turn him back.
- There's also Young Gohan, Young Trunks, Goten, The Saibamen, The Cell Jrs., and Kid Buu.
- First form Frieza was probably the major example in Dragonball Z.
- And his final form too.
- And Goku again in Dragon Ball GT
- Vegeta. Woe betide anyone who dared to mock Majin Vegeta.
- What about Chiaotzu and Krillin? They were weak when compared to the protagonists but they were stronger than every common person and that included many much taller than them. Krillin especially, as he's pretty short even after he grew up.
- Kenshin Himura in Rurouni Kenshin, aka the Hitokiri Battousai, is towered over by most of his friends but routinely takes down people twice his size. He's based on a real life assassin named Kawakami Gensai, who was regularly mistaken for a woman, but who was known as the most fearsome assassin of the Meiji Era and was noted for assassinating a man in broad daylight.
- Kenshin is also a subversion of sorts - because his school of swordsmanship was designed for far more muscular men (like Hiko, his Cynical Mentor) he ends up unable to fight as well as he once could at the end of the series.
- Yahiko's an extremely straight example, taking on minibosses regularly after the Kyoto arc, especially after he learns the Kamiya Kasshin-Ryu Succession Techniques.
- Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist- but don't point it out. He doesn't like to be called short.
- after he crosses the Bishonen Line, Father simultaneously has the power of God, and looks like/is the same height as Ed.
- Also Mei Chang
- Honey from Ouran High School Host Club.
- Bleach: Hitsugaya, Yachiru, Wonderweiss, and Ururu are all child characters who are all far more capable than their small sizes and young (biological) ages should indicate they are.
- Yaiba counts. He's really small compared to the other characters, but he can knock out a huge man with a bamboo sword!
- Ryoma Echizen, Kevin Smith, Akaya Kirihara and Kintarou Tooyama from The Prince of Tennis. To a degree, also Bunta Marui.
- The two most powerful fighters from Ranma ½ are Happosai and Cologne, Old Masters who have shriveled down to the size of babies..
- Taiga Aisaka, the Palmtop Tiger from Toradora! has violence issues, but she's probably too much of a Dojikko to be seriously dangerous.
- Ash's Pikachu in Pokémon. It can also be quite scary in the games when equipped with a Light Ball.
- A good deal of the team's main Pokémon tend to be this (and if they're lucky, will kick the butts of their evolved forms down the line!). Of course, there's the sheer irony in Brock's Happiny being one of the physically strongest when the games have its physical Attack with the likes of Shuckle and its evolution Chansey.
- Then there's Croagunk, whose testament to battle was shown in the first DP movie when he easily blocks a Draco Meteor fired by a Legendary Pokémon!
- Sagara Sousuke from Full Metal Panic! against pretty much all of his major enemies/rivals. Every single guy he has a serious fight with is built much larger than him, is older, and has a whole lot more muscle than him. However, he holds his own very well, and pretty much always wins in the end.
- Astro Boy, the original pint-sized powerhouse of anime.
- Negi of Mahou Sensei Negima. Not only is he a kid capable of clearing out an arena filled with huge men using mostly martial arts, but even in his
adultteen form, he was still smaller than most of the people he fought and beat the crap out of in the Magic World Tournament Arc and gave the towering Game Breaker Jack Rakan the fight of his life.
- Evangeline as well. She's so incredibly powerful that there are perhaps five people in the world capable of putting up a decent fight against her... not that you'd ever guess it, due to her having a perpetually 10-year-old body.
- Also Kotaro and Yue.
- A certain amount of Fridge Brilliance sets in when you realize that Negi learned his martial arts from Ku Fei, herself a Pint-Sized Powerhouse. Due to her small stature and petite frame, Master Ku would naturally know plenty of techniques designed to fight larger opponents.
- Jacuzzi Splot from Baccano! is a pint-sized One-Man Army and a total badass...when he isn't a crying, whimpering mess in an attempt just to introduce himself.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. Besides its parade of Cute Bruisers and Little Miss Badasses, it also has characters like pre-StrikerS Chrono, who can easily wipe out squads of Mecha-Mooks and Humongous Mecha on his own.
- Yu Yu Hakusho's Hiei. 4'9 without his hair and can beat up guys twice or three times his size with ease (and when introduced was much weaker than when he was a child). Kurama may also qualify- he's not short, but he's pretty skinny.
- Guys. Genkai.
- And Rinku. And Shishiwakamaru can shrink. And some of the guys from the various tournaments. But with the exception of Genkai they're all demons, so they could be considered to be cheating.
- Not really cheating, given that they can go up against fellow demons who are much larger, and hand them their asses.
- Underneath his kimono, Inuyasha is so thin he's almost scrawny. And he can easily kill a mountain oni five times his height. When monkey sprites adhered a boulder to his right hand that was nearly as tall as he was, it only slowed him down.
- The title character of Desert Punk is a very short guy who is still capable of wielding a high-caliber shotgun with ease, and even without it he can pretty easily beat the crap out of most people. Of course, he's later outclassed by Mitsuru, who's like 11, but if you piss him off his "Hulk Syndrome" lets him lift large boulders with one hand and smash robots built with Lost Technology (slightly subverted in that it may also turn him into a giant, but he's superhumanly strong either way).
- Sawada Tsuna from Katekyo Hitman Reborn, who is always a lot smaller and younger than his opponents. Most of the villains he fights against even Lampshade Hanging how tiny or young he is.
- And the Acrobalenos are a group of seven babies...who can kick any of the main character's ass to hell and back.
- Yugi Mutou, from Yu-Gi-Oh. Granted he does have an extremely powerful alter ego in his head but the final episode of the series proved that he could kick his ass as well.
- Daikichi Komusubi of the Deimon Devilbats is 4'11. And a lineman. He's regularly holding off, or even pushing back, larger, more intimidating players, and speaks/writes in a language known as "Power-Go", which only 'truly strong men' can comprehend.
- One Piece
- Luffy is one of the shortest male humans in the series and can kick the ass of people many size his height and do things he damn sure shouldn't be able to do with his inhuman strength alone.
- To be fair Luffy isn't actually short, his height is about average (172 cm). There are just a lot of big mofos walking around the One Piece world (and that's not even counting the giants).
- He would be somewhat average in Real Life but seeing that he is shorter than almost every other character, there's no way he's average in his fictional world. Thus, he fits this trope to a T.
- Zoro when he was little. Kuina even moreso.
- Played straight with the Tontatta dwarfs, an entire species of this Trope. These tiny people average only about six inches tall but far stronger than the average human. One dwarf can flatten an average sized house with a single punch, while a group of about 20 of them were able to move an entire factory by pushing it.
- Luffy is one of the shortest male humans in the series and can kick the ass of people many size his height and do things he damn sure shouldn't be able to do with his inhuman strength alone.
- Blame! has a weapon example. Gravitational Beam Emitter is some of the smallest weapon in the series and really small even in today's standard. The firepower, on the other hand, can put Divine Buster to shame.
- The Power Card in Cardcaptor Sakura. This card spirit takes the form of a fluffy-looking, pink-clad little girl. (Who can't be any more than 3 feet tall.) But she has the strength of several grown men, and proves to be an immense challenge to Sakura.
- Heero Yuy of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
- Hunter X Hunter has its own share of insanely able kids. Killua was an assassin ever since he was born, and can extract the heart soundlessly out of an opponent, with just his hands, and he's twelve years old.
- Digimon Adventure gives us Gatomon—a Champion-level Digimon with the size and appearence of a Rookie.
- And Digimon Tamers takes it Up to Eleven with MarineAngemon—a Mega with the size and appearance of an In-Training.
- And now Digimon Xros Wars gives us Zamielmon, an evil digimon who's small enough to sit in someone's palm yet is strong and fast enough to give Mega level a hard time. However he's actually a gigantic Sizeshifter and Lightning Bruiser.
- Kaworu Nagisa form Neon Genesis Evangelion. Despite being a teenage Bishonen, he's got the strongest AT-field ever detected.
- Taki of Hyakujitsu no Bara is tiny in comparison to his lover Klaus but consistently demonstrates that he is the last person you want to anger. Not only did he single-handedly beat up the group of military students who came to haze him, he has twice bested Klaus in combat (granted never very conclusively), showing he packs far more power and fighting skill than his scrawny body would suggest.
- Shijima from Nabari no Ou is by far the smallest character the series. However, thanks to her immortality, she is also one of the best fighters and even manages to take down Raikou after fighting for an entire night.
- Nuriko from Fushigi Yuugi. Justified, as Nuriko's seishi power is super strength. (Which gets Turned Up to Eleven with a pair of magic gauntlets.)
- Tamaki Kawazoe is pretty much the central focus of Bamboo Blade for the fact that, despite being a first-year in high school (and a tiny girl, at that), she's easily the most competent fighter on the kendo team (since she had been trained by her father from a very young age). In one match, she sends a competitor twice her size flying with one deft strike.
- The whole cast of Part 1 Naruto. The characters were 12 year old monsters, with some of them being even younger and still destroying mountains.
- Hajime no Ippo: Ippo Makunouchi would like to have a word with you. As a featherweight (126 pounds/57 kg max usually) he regularly trains with people one or two weight classes above, and is considered small even in his own weight class.
- Kokoa, one of the smallest girls in Rosario + Vampire is one of the most physically powerful characters, since it's a vampire's special power. However, she doesn't have the fighting skills to back it up.
- In Tsukigasa, the short, girly-looking Azuma is capable of beating up 5 guys in a fight and leaving them with broken bones. His skill is part of why the damage is so extreme when he attacks his friend Kuroe later, cutting off his left arm in one strike.
- In Saint Beast, despite looking younger and smaller than all of the other angels of his rank Gai has one of the most powerful elementals in the show and loves a good fight.
- Akane Tendo of Ranma ½ is 5'2" but is fearsomely strong, able to swing boulders and stone lanterns around like they were made of Styrofoam.
- This is literally a tactic employed by The DCU's Ray Palmer, a.k.a. The Atom: he shrinks down to a tiny size, but his mass doesn't change, which means he can pack a wallop... or tear through somebody like a freakin' bullet.
- Al Pratt, the original Atom, was only 5'1". That's where his nickname originally came from - he was small, but took up boxing and later actually gained super strength.
- The Mouse Police in Fables.
- Wolverine. 5'3". One of the two or three most dangerous non-super-strong characters in the Marvel Universe in close combat.
- Wolverine's old friend Puck from Alpha Flight is even shorter and hits just as hard. Even in a prequel story before he lost his height completely, he fulfilled this trope.
- Spider-Man, while average by real life standards (5'10"), is practically a midget compared to the vast majority of his allies and enemies. Wolverine being the notable and perhaps only exception.
- He's still got about two inches over his Arch Enemy Dr. Octopus, a Mad Scientist whose mechanical arms make him a Genius Bruiser
- Early in his career, Spidey went up against a trio of crooks called the Enforcers, one of which was "Fancy Dan" Brito. Only 5'3", Brito was nonetheless a black belt in karate and judo, able to take down men much larger than he was.
- Rorschach in Watchmen is an unassuming man who stands 5'4, yet frequently kicks bar-fulls of ass. Interestingly, he wears thick-soled shoes to make himself look taller.
- Lately, Jubilee. A petite teenaged girl who, on the New Warriors, used power gauntlets to become the most physically powerful member of the team.
- Micro-Might from PS238.
- The title character of Cerebus. Three feet tall, one of the physically strongest and most skilled fighters in the world, and has repeatedly taken down squads of veteran soldiers by himself.
- Gully from Battle Chasers could be seen this way with the gloves on.
- Monica from Brazilian comic Monica's Gang.
- Young Scrooge in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. He is only half the size of most other (dog-nosed) characters, but he fights like a force of nature. And for that matter, also Old Scrooge, his nephew Donald and some other members of their family show tendencies in that direction.
- Molly 'Bruiser' Hayes from Runaways is a superstrong mutant and a preteen girl. Marvel's website actually named her the fourth toughest female on their roster, following She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, and Rogue.
- In Dungeon Keeper Ami Ami is a small, fifteen-year-old girl. Using keeper powers, she manages to fight on par with a horned reaper - in melee combat; a duel that amounted to a thinly-disguised public execution sponsored by a Dark God she'd angered. She won.
- Ringo in With Strings Attached. Granted, he's not that short (5'8”), but at one point, when he had been traveling almost nonstop for about four days, had hardly slept at all during that time, and felt like utter shit, he was forced to enter single combat against a 7-foot muscleman with a giant flail. Three seconds later: “I think I win. Can I please go to sleep now?”
- Spur in Final Stand of Death was able to take out Blink-182, including Mark's mecha, despite being about 7'2" as the mecha a third taller.
- In Drunkard's Walk S: Heart of Steel, it's strongly hinted that Usagi Tsukino has become one after Doug used magic to permanently improve her physical attributes, and that when she transforms into Sailor Moon, she's consequently even more of one than she was originally.
- Kung Fu Panda had Mantis, a praying mantis, as the Pint Sized Powerhouse.
Po: Wow, you guys are The Furious Five! You're all just like your action figures, only bigger! Except for you, Mantis, you're about the same.
- Shifu all the way, too. He's not as tiny as Mantis, but he's considerably shorter than most of the cast but we see him take on the Furious Five all at once in the beginning of the film (of course he trained them in the first place, which says a lot), beats up Po, and manages to hold off Tai Lung in the climax of the film.
- Knee-high, Yoda from Star Wars is. But if attack him you do, kick your choobies, he will.
- Ewoks. Cute little teddy bear-like aliens who can overpower combat trained humans in hand-to-hand combat with little effort. During the Battle Of Endor, some Ewoks can be seen throwing Stormtroopers around like ragdolls!
- Puss in Boots in Shrek, and later in his own film.
- Mini-Me in Austin Powers; in fact, being a pint-sized clone of Dr. Evil is the reason he's a powerhouse, as being cloned that way seemed to "concentrate" the model's strength into a smaller body.
- Reepicheep, the other Talking Mice, and the Dwarfs in the various Narnia films. (see Literature)
- Lori Campbell (Monica Keena) in Freddy vs. Jason. 5'1", and she decapitates Freddy Krueger with a fucking machete! But not before setting the dock on fire, blowing Freddy and Jason into the water.
- Monica Keena's character in Crime and Punishment in Suburbia takes down her abusive step-father, played by Michael Ironside, with considerably less trouble than Arnold Schwarzenegger had in Total Recall.
- Joe Pesci in anything.
- Alien: Vasquez, the smallest of the space marines, with the biggest gun.
- Grindhouse: El Wray.
- Sir Didymus in Labyrinth.
- Elliot Page in a few movies; as Kitty Pryde in X-Men: The Last Stand, they totally owned the Juggernaut, bitch; in Hard Candy, what they do to Night Owl is just... not right; in Whip It, they play the smallest member of a Roller-Derby team, who quickly becomes the star player.
- The Noisy Cricket weapon from Men in Black. The size of a holdout pistol, but its recoil alone sends the wielder flying.
- Star Trek: L'il Spock.
- Hit Girl from Kick-Ass.
- Lisbeth Salander, in The Millennium Trilogy, played by 5'4" Noomi Rapace (apparently, in the books, she's even smaller). Watch her beat up a couple of bikers.
- Watch Rocky III or IV, for the final showdown with Mr. T and Dolph Lundgren, respectively. 5'8" Sylvester Stallone is dwarfed by both men, but proceeds to hand both of them their asses.
- In Real Steel, Atom is an old robot a few generations behind the current fighters. He is also considerably smaller than them. With some modifications by Max and boxing training by Charlie, Atom is able to own most of the competition.
- Most of the experiments in Lilo and Stitch follow this trope.
- Chucky of the Child's Play series is of course, a doll, which means he only reaches about knee high. But as several of his victims have found out, his small size doesn't mean he can't mess you up.
- Luther, played by 5'6" David Patrick Kelly in The Warriors. While his outward personality is that of an obnoxious pest, he's actually a very dangerous individual, as you can work out from the "Oh Crap" expressions on the Warriors faces when he shows up at their hideout.
- Tinkerbell in Hook. When she first appears, the adult Peter thinks she's some psycho-firefly and tries to swat her with a newspaper; she quickly seizes it from him and returns the favor.
- In Urban Legend, when Brenda is revealed to be the killer, Fridge Logic dictates she must be this, seeing as this 120-pound female college student overpowered and killed several men much larger than her and then dragged their bodies clear across campus. Of course, Slasher Movies aren't big on logic.
- In Discworld the smaller races (such as the Nac Mac Feegle and the Dwarves) are explicitly stronger than humans because all the same amount of physical strength is focused into a smaller body.
- And then there are the Clan from The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, who, within about the first two pages, disable a highwayman by running up his pantlegs. Oh, and then they tie his shoelaces together. And Darktan is just plain Badass.
- The Gallivespians in His Dark Materials are a few inches high, but they have poisonous barbs on their heels that make them deadly in a fight. You do not want to mess with one.
- Reepicheep and his relatives in The Chronicles of Narnia, though they teamed up sometimes as well. A common tactic involved slashing various tendons and then, when the taller opponent fell, a quick slash across the throat.
- Trumpkin and Nikibrik, the two dwarfs in Prince Caspian, were both skilled fighters, especially the former.
- The Gruffs from Small Favor, the tenth Dresden Files book, are troll-slaying goatmen from the fairy tales. After the five-foot tall first wave is defeated, their seven-foot tall older brothers take over - when they fail, the big brother that comes next is twenty feet tall - but the Eldest Gruff, most powerful of them all, whose coming shakes the earth and swats a fallen angel without effort? Five foot two, tops, with a limp. And if he didn't take a liking to our hero, Harry clearly wouldn't have stood a chance against him.
- Not to mention Murphy (5 feet even, looks like a cheerleader, and took down an ogre with a chainsaw) or Ivy (who is twelve and capable of holding off eight fallen angels at once). The page quote is about her, with the subtext being that the Fists of God were debating recruiting her. She's done a pretty good job of establishing it as a potential second career and, hey, she is out of a job. Rebound career from cop to Knight of the Cross, amiright?
- We also have the Red King, who is slightly over five feet and is quite possibly the single most Badass vampire in the world, with the only possible exceptions being the Kings of the other two courts at full power or rather, he was.
- Compared to all of his enemies, Harry (and other Wizards) count as this. He regularly takes on things at the very least half his (admittedly greater-than-average) height again.
- In this corner, Drizzt, a 5'4 slender elf with a borderline babyface. In that corner, Wulfgar, a hulk of a man closer to seven feet than six, weathered and scarred, whose legs are nearly as thick as Drizzt's torso. Guess who is more dangerous in a fight. (A hint: one has been fighting for about twenty years, and is weathered and scarred. One has been fighting just as often for about sixty years, and...is not...) Drizzt also defeated a marilith in one story, a marilith being a high-ranking demonic general who is about seven feet tall with six arms using magical weapons and a wide variety of spellcasting powers.
- And then there's also Triel Baenre, daughter and successor of Old Matron Baenre, the Big Bad in many of the novels. While elves are not phisically imposing to begin with and dark elves are even considerably shorter, Triel is frequently described as being exceptionally short even by the standards of other dark elves, which puts her, as effective queen of the most powerful nation of an Exclusively Evil race, at a hight of about 4'7, or 1,45m. In contrast, her younger sister Quenthel is always described as very tall and muscular, but never has attempted to gain a Klingon Promotion.
- In the Warlock in Spite of Himself series, the Wee Folk are to be feared, Puck especially. And dwarfish Brom O'Berin can outfight nearly any man in Gramarye.
- Treecats from the Honorverse. Small, six-limbed aboreals, who look all cute and furry. However, they live on a world with a gravity of 1.6G, and have two definitions for enemies: those properly dealt with and those that are still alive. Add to that their reaction times and the fact that they have six limbs, each with surgically sharp claws, and there's a reason they've been compared to "berserking buzzsaws" when in battle rage.
A human being in good condition and with really good martial art skills had at least a fair chance against a treecat in a fight, simply because of the size disparity. But it wouldn't be easy and the human would certainly come out of it badly injured.
- Lucky Starr's sidekick Bigman Jones is only five-two, but routinely wins fistfights against men who are foolish enough to underestimate him.
- A minor character in the backstory of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Bandobras "Bullroarer" Took, was one of the tallest Hobbits in history at 4'5", and singlehandedly routed an army of Orcs by decapitating their leader with one swing of his club.
- Gimli in the Lord of the Rings is a dwarf and a great warrior, for instance, every dwarf is a good warrior despite their short size
- Darius Just, in Isaac Asimov's Murder at the ABA.
- Humans, in the Prince Roger series, are a good 3 feet shorter than the 9-foot tall native sentients of Marduk. Their powerhouse-ness comes from their advanced tactics and technology.
- Warrior Cats has Scourge, who is a very tiny cat often mistaken for an apprentice. He's also the leader of a group of stray cats known as BloodClan. Why? Because he can kill as easily as he breathes; his small size makes him extremely quick, and he's attached sharpened dog's teeth to his claws, making them that much more deadly.
- Time Scout: Ann Vin Mulhaney, Sven Bailey, and Margo Smith are all petite and incredibly deadly.
- Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: Yoko Akia. She is 4 feet 8 inches (1.46304 metres) tall, she weighs 90 pounds (40.82 kilograms), and just about everything about her is tiny. She can flatten just about anybody in a fight and her fellow Sisters and Vigilantes call her "the 90-pound stick of dynamite"!
- Jeremiah in Someone Else's War may be the youngest and tiniest child soldier in his squad, but he is also the most lethal in combat, partially because his enemies cannot in good conscience bring themselves to kill a child.
- From Harry Potter:
- Harry himself, arguably. He's designed as skinny and scrawny, but well, he's the hero. Emphasized in the movies, as Daniel Radcliffe is 5'5.
- Ginny is even shorter than Harry:
George: "Yeah, size is no guarantee of power. Look at Ginny."
- Dobby. Being a house elf, he's about three feet tall, but push him far enough, and he can use magic capable of knocking a dark wizard with Lucius Malfoy's skills off his feet.
- Professor Flitwick has goblin blood in his family, and his short height shows it, yet he was a former Wizard Duel champion, and personally defeated Dolohov, the dark wizard who murdered Remus Lupin.
- Amusingly, Snape might qualify in original novels. He's stated to be shorter than Sirus, who according to Deathly Hallows is 5'9".
- Firefly. River is easily capable of dropping many men much larger and apparently tougher than her, thanks to being a Psychic Powers Super Soldier.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Buffy Summers, 5'3", and has fought gods.
- Faith LeHane, another slayer, 5'5", equally badass.
- Sineya, the First of the Ones, was shorter than Buffy, but physically stronger.
- The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Cameron is barely over five feet tall, and looks to weigh in at less than a hundred pounds. And she will punch you through a wall without trying.
- Djaq from Robin Hood. A popular icon of her image includes the tagline: "and then I ripped his lungs out..."
- Agent Teresa Lisbon from The Mentalist.
- Not a character per se, but a ship: The U.S.S. Defiant, first of her class, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Only five decks tall, 119 meters long, yet packing a massive wallop with experimental heavy weapons, powerplants suitable for ships several times her size, comparatively superior maneuverability compared to larger ships she can match in gunnery, and the ability to take as much she can dole out thanks to heavy armor. And as a bonus thanks to an intel-sharing deal with the Romulans, she sports a cloaking device. She's a dyed in the wool warship in all but name; officially, her class role is designated as "Escort ship" in order for the Federation to remain politically correct.
- Also not a character, but in the same vein as the Defiant, the White Star class of pocket cruisers from Babylon 5 packed advanced Vorlon and Minbari technology, along with 4 fighters. It was the first ship to be seen single-handedly and directly taking out a Shadow vessel, and it could also knock out capital ships much larger than itself. One of its initial advantages was that it could create its own jump points, something other ships its size could not do. Deploying multiple White Star class ships into combat would often result in a Swarm of ships that would coordinate their firepower and speed to overwhelm any opponent.
- Russell Edgington from True Blood, a physically imposing man he ain't but stake his lover, and he'll go medieval on national T.V. He's 3000 years old (the oldest known vampire on the show), and vampires get Stronger with Age.
- Rollo in The Cape, a midget who's also the strongman of the Carnival of Crime and capable of kicking the hero's ass in the pilot.
- While the Prometheus, the first Earth starship in Stargate SG-1, is not very powerful and armed with (more or less) conventional weapons (regular/nuclear missiles and railguns), the second-generation Daedalus-class starships are considerably stronger, especially with the addition of the Asgard plasma beam weapons. The "pintsized" part comes in once you compare the sizes of the Earth starships with the ships typically used by the various alien races. Even a typical Goa'uld Ha'tak is several times the size of the Prometheus (less so than the slightly-larger Daedalus). Then you bring in the enormous Ori motherships and the Wraith Hives. For reference, a Hive was once mistaken for a mountain. Unfortunately, a ZPM-enhanced super-Hive (even larger than a normal Hive) pulls a Won't Work On Me on the Asgard weapons.
- Dr John Watson in the BBC's Sherlock, who is a 5'7", mild-mannered, jumper-wearing killing machine. Once punched the title character (6'0" and a badass fighter in his own right), splitting his cheek, then knocked him to the ground and put him in a choke-hold, all the while explaining that it wasn't a good idea for Sherlock to antagonise an Afghan war veteran who killed people when he had "bad days." He is also a very, very good marksman.
- The last episode of the second season has him breaking a guy's nose with a single punch. Badass enough that it had to be hidden with a Gilligan Cut.
- The Sontarans in Doctor Who are about 5' tall, but a Proud Warrior Race Guy nonetheless. Don't bother trying to insult their height, though. They'll just bark, "Words are the weapons of womenfolk!" before killing you.
- Parker from Leverage. Having to do the things required of a professional thief, such as hanging from a ledge by her fingertips, has made her quite strong, despite being the smallest member of the team. When she thought Tara had betrayed the team Parker proceeded to grab Tara by the throat with one hand and hang her over the edge of a building.
- Guerrero from Human Target. He only looks like a laid back computer geek; in fact he is a very intelligent, very dangerous ex-hitman. You do not want to get on his bad side.
- Supernatural brings us The Trickster, by far the shortest guy in the whole series, who not only tricks the brothers onto believing he's dead (more than once), becoming one of the few monsters of the week the Winchesters can't kill, but it's also revealed in the 5th season that he's really the Archangel Gabriel, one of the four most powerful beings in the show, posing as the pagan god Loki.
- The title character of the Korean TV series Strong Girl Bong-soon is 5'2" and slender -- and is capable of flinging grown men a hundred feet into the air and stopping a runaway bus. She did a Bare-Handed Truck Stop on a speeding car with one hand -- at age eight.
- ACDC. Most of them are under 5'6". AC-freaking-DC.
Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends
- David 1, Goliath 0. David is a youngster at that point in The Bible, but depictions often make him even younger.
- Norse Mythology; Thor's son Magni was the embodiment of strength. One myth states that Thor fought a giant named Hrungnir, but while Thor was victorious and killed Hrungnir, the giant's body fell on him, pinning him to the ground and leaving him helpless. After no-one else was able to so much as budge the giant's heavy corpse, Magni - who was only three days old at the time, was able to lift it off his father effortlessly.
- In Greek Mythology , Heracles is rarely depicted as "pint-sized". However, he certainly was on the day he was born, and on that day, Hera made her first strike against him, sending two venomous serpents to kill him while he slept in his cradle. He simply grabbed them both and crushed them, one in each hand.
- Rey Mysterio Jr: At 5'6 he is overshadowed by just about anyone he meets in the ring, but still often holds his own.
- Taz is an example too, on a relative scale: at 5'9" and 240 lbs the average pro wrestler towered over him. Guess who was the toughest, hardest Badass in all of ECW?
- Daniel Bryan anyone?
- Midget wrestlers. There is one story of such a wrestler picking Gorilla Monsoon (who weighed 400 lbs) in a fireman's carry and carrying him around a ring.
- Any gnome or halfling in Dungeons & Dragons who reaches high enough level. At 15th level, there's not much difference between human and halfling barbarians.
- While both races take a hit to physical strength, gnomes are extremely durable, being able to endure exertions like dwarves and orcs. Compared to elves, they are almost indestructible.
- Pathfinder offers the mauler archetype for familiars, replacing the Intelligence bonus with a Strength bonus among other things. Some optional creatures given by the Improved Familiar feat already having an unusual strength for their size, the two combined can give some ridiculous results.
- The Kithkin in Magic the Gathering's "Lorwyn" and "Shadowmoor" blocks are a little under four feet tall, but are incredibly tenacious in a fight. In fact, the most common "classes" for them are Knight and Soldier.
- Lilties, from Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, are, like 3 feet tall, on average, but they're the warrior race that used to rule the entire world. They were The Empire (the most adorable empire ever, but still). In fact, they're sort of still in power, since the princess is half-Lilty (yeah, they can breed with humans, which is a little... Squick)
- Conversely (and an inversion), Yukes, the tallest and most intimidating race, are the magical race, with little direct combat capabilities and, some say, no real bodies to speak of at all. Yes, they all wear armor and their weapon of choice is a hammer. But they couldn't wield it to save their lives.
- Speaking of Final Fantasy: what about the Moogles? Granted, they do not fight often, but when they do... 4 feet tall, 94 pounds, and apparently above dragons in the food chain.
- That would be the standard and Crystal Chronicles moogle. The Ivalice breed, on the other hand, is a different beast. Most Moogle classes provide crazy-ass support (Animists can heal one person completely while Jugglers have nasty debuffs), but the Moogle Knight can stand firm alongside any Hume or Bangaa, and if one of them decides to take up marksmanship, your best bet is to run as fast as you can in the opposite direction and never stop while there is breath in your body.
- Final Fantasy XI brings us the Tarutaru race. They come up to your knees, and are just as capable of thrashing monsters as any other race.
- Final Fantasy VII's Cloud Strife is 5'7" according to the English translation, though given that he's 173 cm in Japanese, he's closer to 5'8". Roughly average in America, but he's the shortest human adult male in the party, and quite possibly the entire cast. He's also the strongest member of the cast save for Sephiroth.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy brings together the main series' heroes to kick ass and take names, and prominent among the name-takers and ass-kickers is Zidane. The toony, chibi-fied art style of his original game is now finally translated to something a little more realistic, and, well—it turns out that it wasn't just the chibi-style, the kid has yet to clear five feet. This does not stop him from thrashing characters literally twice his height and probably many times his weight. A similar thing applies to the Onion Knight—the people who make a big deal over tiers may place him near the bottom, and who knows, they might be right—but a computer-controlled OK has the best average AI of any character in the game, according to the Word of God, and puts it to frightening good use.
- The Igniter bloodline from Bloodline Champions are at least half the size of the other ones, but are fully capable of holding their own against the others. The fire powers help.
- Mazzy Fentan of Baldurs Gate II - a 4 ft. tall lady knight who is one of the best melee fighters in the game and will rip through foes many times her size.
- King Mickey in Kingdom Hearts. Some fans of the game would dearly love a Smash Bros. style game so he and Yoda could have a match.
- The protagonists Ventus, Xion, Roxas, and Sora all count, the latter three moreso, and Sora especially. Judging by presentation alone, Sora is not only powerful, but balls-out crazy in his application of said power, despite being 15 years old and short.
- May from Guilty Gear is a cute, child-like Pirate Girl who stands 4-foot-something, but uses her ship's anchor (which is as big as she is) as a weapon. Her pet dolphin may qualify too, as he's about the size of a surfboard and used by May as such, meaning it has to carry May and the anchor.
- The cuccos in various The Legend of Zelda games. Dear God, the cuccos.
- Any child variant of Link counts, but special mention goes to Toon Link. Even Adult Link tends to be a David to Goliath-sized foes.
- Link takes it further in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. One of the new abilities in this game is Fuse, which he can use to attach almost any item to his weapon; it can, for instance, be used on a boulder. Link can still effortlessly swing a Fused Weapon and use it to batter down certain stone walls.
- The Poison Headcrabs from Half-Life 2 deplete your heath to one hit-point with a single bite. This is less due to the strength of their jaws and more the strength of their namesake poison, however.
- A metagame example from World of Warcraft. Smaller character models are harder to select and thus attack. Of the player races, this means the very tiny Gnomes are particular nuisances. And since Gnomes can be both Warriors and Death Knights, they can also be stupidly powerful and durable. Goblins, who will be added in an upcoming expansion, will be much the same. Dwarves aren't nearly as small, but are still pretty shrimpy, and can be Warriors, Paladins, and Death Knights - all the main tanking classes besides Druid.
- That said, since the aforementioned expansion the only race that has all of the tanking classes available to them are the typically 8 foot tall Tauren.
- The Goblins are Gnome-sized greenskinned creatures who are pretty strong for their size. And insane to boot. And tough enough to repeatedly survive piloting aircraft that crashes and experiments that blow up in their faces, both common problems with Goblin technology.
- Vulpera in the Battle for Azeroth expansion. Survivalists to the extreme, the typical Vulpera is gnome-sized, but can take down a Naga brute without breaking a sweat. Mecha-gnomes are a sub-class of gnomes from the same expansion that can be even stronger, given their cybernetic limbs.
- Minion Soldier in Gunstar Heroes.
- Jinx in Super Mario RPG.
- Presea from Tales of Symphonia.
- Suika Ibuki of the Touhou has the appearance of an 8-year old girl, yet is physically the strongest character of all. And that's before she uses her power of density manipulation to grow several times her size...
- Cirno is probably the smallest named character in the games, being a child fairy. But even though her incompetence, stupidity and supposed "weakness" are legendary, none of the named Touhou characters are to be trifled with. Cirno holds her own against some of the powerhouses of Touhou in Hisoutensoku and in Fairy Wars is strong enough to give trouble to Marisa Kirisame. Did I mention that Cirno is completely immortal?
- Remilia and Flandre Scarlet have retained the appearance of little girls for 500 years and, being vampires, are also reknown as physical powerhouses, combining exceptional levels of strength, speed and durability. Flandre's power of pure destruction makes her even scarier.
- Shinmyoumaru Sukuna is the princess of the inchlings, humanoids a few inches tall, and is the Final Boss in her debut game. Actually a subversion: without her Shining Neddle Sword and help from the Miracle Mallet to increase her size, she is utterly powerless and could easily get killed and eaten by a house cat. Her ancestor Issun-Boushi, however, has defeated many onis (Suika's species) in hand-to-hand combat with the Shining Neddle Sword without size-increasing magic.
- Kirby, in well, Kirby, is 8 inches tall, at least when not sized up in Super Smash Bros..
- Do note, this eight inch tall puffball has torn at least eight different Eldritch Abominations to shreds.
- While not as much as in the anime, the Pokémon video games tend to have more than a fair share of smaller creatures overpowering significantly larger ones. Mew weighs in at a little under 9 pounds and a foot tall and Shaymin is only slightly larger, but both have base stats well above average even among Legendary Pokémon.
- Don't forget Azelf. Tiny, light, very high Special Attack. Its physical Attack power is just as high.
- Celebi, Jirachi, Manaphy, Victini and Meloetta deserve a mention.
- If a Shuckle uses Power Trick, it becomes the most powerful attacker in the entire series, period. It's two feet tall. It's a shame that Power Trick Shuckle is for the most part an unreliable strategy...
- Excadrill is so ridiculously overpowered that many competitive formats ban it... and it's not even a legendary! It has a large base 135 Attack stat that can be bolstered by a Swords Dance, and an ability that doubles its Speed, making it the fastest Pokémon in the entire series in a sandstorm. Its height? About 28 inches.
- This trope is referenced at the beginning of Pokémon Black and White. You and your best friends get your starters, which were delivered to your house to be picked up. Since they're only level 5 Pokemon and still pretty small and cute, Bianca suggests having a Pokemon battle in your bedroom, assuming such cute little things couldn't possibly do much damage. Cut to after your battle with her and the cute little Pokemon have pretty much made the room a disaster area. This trope is promptly lampshaded by all present, including your mother who just saw the aftermath (though she's not too upset about it), no matter how little an adorable a Pokemon is, it's still a powerhouse.
- Sonic the Hedgehog has a number of these. Most of the non-human characters are slightly built, a little on the short side, have noodle arms, and are very strong. Knuckles especially. And any of the flying characters (Cream can carry Big the Cat, Charmy the Bee can carry Vector the Crocodile).
- Tails deserves special mention - he's 44 pounds (most of which seems to be his tails, which are each about the same size as the rest of him), and can beat up a giant robot with little trouble and no weapons. Repeatedly. He can also punch through solid rock.
- Classic Sonic. He can tunnel through solid rock, and he eats big, strong, fast things for breakfast. No giant battlemechs lived to talk about him, and the aforementioned Knuckles got thrashed.
- A good number of characters in Disgaea series are one of these. Laharl, for example, is a stick-thin, 4'3" thirteen-year-old capable of curbstomping a starfleet.
- Punch-Out!!: Little Mac.
- Saber in Fate/stay night isn't even five feet tall and is built like a twig - despite saying she's too muscular, yeah right - yet she's the 'strongest' hero in the Fifth Holy Grail War. Even while only partially powered against the next strongest, Berserker, she's still capable of holding her own. With Rin as her master, she's described as being absolutely invincible. Also subverted somewhat in that Berserker isn't using magic to buff himself like she does and like he should, but Ilya won't let him. Archer also manages a tie against her despite being very weakened, despite her being 'invincible.' Strength isn't everything, Saber!
- Without her magical energy, Saber is very frail; maybe even Sakura has more physical strength since no one is smaller than tiny old Saber.
- Aside from being strong Saber is also fast enough and skilled enough with the sword to win against Sasaki Kojirou so her failure to defeat Archer (who fell to his knees unable to stand while parrying overhead blow from her sword) came more from emotional reasons than anything else.
- Backyard Sports: Pablo Sanchez.
- Daxter from Jak and Daxter is one of these, at least in the later games and especially in his Gaiden Game. And if he ever gets his Precursor powers...
- Jak himself fits as well. According to his stats in Jak X he is 5'8" in Jak II Renegade, which definitely seems average... until you compare him with the other characters, that is, and realise he is only at about chin height with most of them. And of course, those are only the humans.
- Jubei from BlazBlue is a short, small cat-man... who's arguably the strongest living being in the world. In Tager's story mode, he stops one of Tager's punches cold, just for starters.
- Emilia, of Blaze Union. She is eleven years old, just barely four feet tall, and is a stupidly powerful Blood Knight who is capable of turning a one-sided battle in her enemies' favor into a complete rout... the first time she ever picks up a weapon. And that's not even getting into her Super-Powered Evil Side. At that given point in time, she is essentially the most powerful person in the world--Gulcasa would be stronger than this if he ever lost control of his demon blood, but he never does.
- Super Mario Bros.: Mario. He's 5'1" (Unless you go by the crossovers, where he's about 3'1"), chubby, with no visible muscles, but he can lift a castle and throw it to the side without breaking a sweat.
- Toad has always been a short-stack, but in Super Mario Bros 2, he's the strongest of the four playable characters, able to pick up objects very quickly, and consequently, throw them very quickly. Unfortunately he's also the worst jumper.
- The Adventures of Sam & Max: Freelance Police: Max is about three feet tall, but is incredibly dangerous. Hell, he once tore apart a demon in hell...with his bare hands!
- In City of Heroes there are a number of 3-foot tall tanks with the Super Strength powerset.
- Chrono Cross gives us Marcie at first. Age? 9. Occupation? Bratty half-pine killer of thousands as an elite of the Acacian military, one of the four Devas. Max strength of 86 on her own. For reference, Serge (that's you) maxes out at 88. Her coworkers Zoah and Karsh hit 90. But the worst offender? Leah. Age? 6. Occupation? Abandoned child in the wilderness. Max strength? 93. Max HP? 999. Both highest without any outside help.
- Considering that Leah is implied to be Ayla's mother...
- Utha from Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening is a female dwarf Grey Warden who has taken the vow of silence and has been corrupted with the Darkspawn taint. She has since joined the Architect in his quest. Unlike the other Grey Wardens, she does not like to use weapons and is, in fact, a master of unarmed combat.
- Merrill in Dragon Age II is a young elvish woman, definitely the smallest member of the main cast (Varric may be a bit shorter, but Merrill is a lot thinner), and capable of unleashing a horrendous firestorm of offensive magic.
- Everything in their universe absolutely dwarfs both Ratchet and Clank. Clank is especially noticeable, since he plays the part of Awesome Backpack most of the time. Ratchet is, supposedly, 5'1. Not too short by our standards, but almost everyone towers over him in-universe... even his fellow lombax, Alister Azimuth. This becomes even more puzzling when you see him in Playstation Move Heroes, where he doesn't even come up to Jak's shoulder. Jak, for the record, is in the running for shortest human(ish) character in his own series. As to the 'powerhouse' part of the trope? Ratchet is a one lombax army with an unbelievable arsenal of BFGs, and Clank's a robotic secret agent with loose control over time (depending on the game). You do the math.
- League of Legends has a lot of characters fitting this trope, most notably Veigar, the Tiny Master of Evil. One of the smallest champions with the ability to dish out some of the highest damage in the game and the ability to stun an entire team. Similar things can be said for the likes of Fizz the Tidal Trickster, Kennen the Heart of the Tempest and Teemo the Swift Scout, all of whom are as short as Veigar but capable of wrecking even the largest foes. Averted with Rumble the Mechanized Menace, who is even smaller than the previously mentioned characters but runs around in a (by the standars of his race) large mecha.
- Hibachi from the DoDonPachi series is often not much bigger than the player ship, sometimes even smaller but have nack for throwing every bullet fired in WWII at you.
- If you play a Bounty Hunter in Star Wars the Old Republic you eventually get a tanking companion named Blizz. Blizz is a Jawa, one of those little hooded guys from A New Hope, that wields a rocket launcher.
- Mini Robot Wars has the appropriately-named Minirobots. They're half as large as a standard enemy unit... and can put some serious hurt on the invading Machines. The tagline for the game even includes the phrase "Size Doesn't Matter!"
- The Inklings in Splatoon are pretty tough for a gang of kids with ink-guns, but they truly become "powerhouses" in Super Smash Bros Ultimate, where they can quite possibly "smash" better than any other new character.
- Titania in Warframe can turn into one of these with her Razorwing ability, shrinking to 1/4 of her original size but gaining the ability to fly at high speed, a pair of big machine pistols that can shred enemies and a sword that easily rivals the best melee weapons in the game in terms of DPS, while not losing anything in terms of durability and even gaining a whooping 50% evasion against enemy gunfire. Investing in Ability Strength, reducing the hefty energy drain of this ability and modding the aforementioned weapons make Titania a miniature death machine.
- Baby Bonnie Hood in Darkstalkers is 4'8", and this is a Fighting Game where many fighters are over seven feet tall. She's even capable of lifting and throwing them in some of her specials.
- Chun-Li in Street Fighter zigzags the Trope. Her official stats list her as 5'6", making her close to a Statuesque Stunner type, but compared to most other fighters in the franchise, she's almost petite.
- She does have Cammy beat by two inches, however, the Trope certainly applying to her too.
- World of Warcraft:
- Any Gnome, Goblin, Mecha Gnome, or Vulperia hero can potentially be this.
- Chromie downplays this. Her true dragon-form is as big as any dragon, but her usual form is a female gnome. Why does she prefer that form? As she herself says, "Meh, it works for me."
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob has Molly's pet alien "tentacle bunny," Snookums. Snookums began life as a Kaiju, but then got shrunk to the size of a basketball. However, he still has all his original mass and is strong enough to move around freely. Hence, the ground shakes when he hops, and he can defeat almost any opponent by hopping into him like a battering ram.
- The Order of the Stick. Belkar Bitterleaf, the Sexy Shoeless God of War.
- Sluggy Freelance has Bun-Bun, a mini-lop rabbit who might very well be the most dangerous being in the universe.
- Digger has at least one example: Lady Surka, Warrior Shrew and professional troll.
- Digger herself is a slightly more minor example.
- Hyraxx D'Mofiti from Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire is an alien who, while not all that small, is about a head shorter than average humans and is of fairly slight build. Yet she is able to throw Buck, who is several times her size, around with ease an collapse a heavy wall on him. Buck assumes she's another assassin sent after him but actually she's just a tabloid reporter (although in the setting being able to not get killed is more important than being able to make a good story if you want to be a successful journalist).
- Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures has Wildy San, who, like Belkar, is the team's resident Sociopathic Hero. Her brother, on the other hand, seems to rely more on strategy.
- Kiwi, the tiny fairy in The Dreamland Chronicles, has the magic to carry or slam around much bigger characters.
- Basically any Racconan in Tales of the Questor. They top out at around two and a half feet tall, but their "magic" powers, martial traditions, and sheer love of overkill make them a hazardous handful.
- Da'kor from Inverloch. They are the size of a human child, but in a fight an unarmed da'kor has a fair chance of defeating a human swordsman.
- Nike from Demon Eater. Sure, he's larger than the main character, but there are true gargantuans out there. And none can stand a chance against him.
- Song from Tales of a Gay Asian is less than 5'7 yet she can easily push 3 sophomore boys into a wall.
- Ixnay from Elf Blood: She's a pixie, literally around as tall as a pint glass. She's not strong enough to operate human/elf-sized door handles. She can easily take down a seven-foot tall, armoured hulking brute in a fight through guile and magic.
- In Schlock Mercenary, the titular mercenary ends up eating a plasma grenade, which destroys most of his body mass. Being a carbosilicate amorph, Schlock's distributed body system meant that he survived, but as a much smaller version with child-like innocence and little memory of his past. But though he's only about the size of a human head, don't mistake him for being any less dangerous, as he managed to shoot down a cruiser when he got loose inside it.
- Diz, in the Whateley Universe. She's a petite middle-schooler at a Super-Hero School full of high school bruisers. She can strike with a force of over eight tons with a fingertip. Her room looks like it was designed to hold the Incredible Hulk.
- Worse than that, she can't not strike with 8 tons of force. Even if she wanted to. Her computer is built so it takes 8 tons and 1 ounce of force to press the keys, otherwise she either couldn't press them at all or would demolish them. Her code name is Diz Aster. Poor kid.
- Reiko Ishida of Survival of the Fittest v4 is 4'9, which has been noted to technically make her a midget. However, she was an athlete before the island.
- Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Penny Polendina and Neo from RWBY are all tiny, slender girls or women who all punch way above their weight class.
- Scooby-Doo's Scrappy-Doo thinks he's this, but he's really just The Load.
- Well, he does lift Scooby and Shaggy with one hand at least once. So he has the strength for it... he just tends to borrow his strategies from Leeroy Jenkins.
- Looney Tunes had Henery Hawk.
- And Chester as well. A pint-sized pup who was able to swing Sylvester around.
- Bob Clampett's early version of Tweety would also qualify.
- In the 1940s Chuck Jones directed a handful of shorts featuring an African pygmy warrior named Inki. Also appearing in these cartoons was a small, black mynah bird who walked with a signature series of rhythmic hops and skips to the tune of Felix Mendelssohn's "Fingal's Cave" overture. The instant any attacker followed this bird around a corner (or otherwise out of the audience's line of sight), the sounds and music of a serious fight would ensue for approximately ten seconds, followed by the bird continuing on his way with nary a feather out of place. The attacker(s), on the other hand, were usually battered rather severely. To give one example, in the short "Caveman Inki", which was set in the stone age (described in the introduction card as being "probably before any of you people were EVEN BORN!"), the world's first last and only carnivorous brontosaurus was tied into several knots.
- There was also Rocky the gangster, of "Rocky and Mugsy" and a few other Bugs Bunny shorts, who despite being a tiny man could easily beat up people much bigger than himself.
- Jackie Chan Adventures: Jade, when she's not inflicted by Waif Fu.
- Mickey Mouse. Though not always victorious in his fights, Mickey has been known to jump into battle with much larger foes—Pete most often, but also the occasional monster spider (Gulliver Mickey, 1934), crooked Indian chief (Pioneer Days, 1930), or crew of pirates (Shanghaied, 1934).
- Donald Duck. Many times, his strength isn't just due to his Unstoppable Rage, but also sheer determination. In the Quack Pack episode, "Ducks By Nature", the camping leader is jealous of Donald and calls him "city wimp" but Donald carries BOTH their camping equipment (which includes a CANOE!) and then the camp leader challenges Donald to a race to climb up a cliff. Then, he cheats by secretly tying Donald to a tree with an EXTRA-STRONG bungie cord. Donald struggles for a bit before his determination makes him so strong that he not only uproots said tree but literally SENDS IT INTO ORBIT and gets him to the cliff top faster than the camp leader! In "Bird Brained Donald", he lifts a metal rail in from its post in cement to use as a ladder! And he beats BOTH Mickey and Goofy in a pseudo tug-of-war in "Answering Service". And these are just a FEW examples!
- Mighty Mouse.
- Droopy Dog. Usually, his tactic is psyching his opponent out, or letting him beat himself up; but when push comes to shove, Droop will face down his foe, tell him "You know what? That makes me mad", and proceed to beat the ever-living crap out of him.
- In the short "Droopy's Double Trouble", we are introduced to Droopy's stronger twin brother Drippy. The plot revolves around Spike running into Drippy (who has been instructed to keep out all strangers) and wondering why Droopy keeps beating him up for no reason.
- Then in "Homesteader Droopy", his infant son ultimately thrashes the bad guy.
- In the Tom and Jerry cartoon "Jerry's Cousin" the titular cousin is called Muscles Mouse, and the cats where he lives live in fear of him.
- Jerry himself becomes a Pint-Sized Powerhouse after a poison concocted by Tom backfires and gives him superstrength in "Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Mouse".
- And in "The Milky Waif" Jerry becomes this after Tom starts picking on his little nephew and triggers his Papa Wolf instincts.
- Atom Ant.
- And his quadruplet nephews Peepeye, Pipeye, Papeye, and Poopeye.
- The Ethnic Scrappy Joe Jitsu from the terribly stupid but quite funny The Dick Tracy Show; he stands only about 2 feet without his hat, but when Joe uses Jitsu, "Ah, so sorry. Excuse prease." He even pummels the bad guys at a fraction of his size!
- The Plastic Man show had Mighty Man, a shrunken Flying Brick, and Yukk, the World's Ugliest Dog, who had to wear a full-head doghouse helmet so no one would see him.
- Bamm-Bamm Rubble, on The Flintstones.
- Stewie Griffin of Family Guy. Still a baby, but he can hold his own in a fight against Osama Bin Laden and Lois in "Lois Kills Stewie", almost killing her if it wasn't for Peter's arrival.
- Meg also has shades of this, in one episode she beat the crap out of a guy when he rammed into her car.
- Brawn is one of the smallest Autobots (a little shorter than Bumblebee), but he's got muscle and attitude far beyond his size. Some of his exploits include picking up Soundwave and Megatron and tossing them like rag dolls.
- Transformers Animated's Brawn is much smaller than Bumblebee but stronger than Bulkhead.
- Garfield and Friends, normally not averse to eating live birds like he is to eating mice at all, is afraid to get near Ludlow, a small bird who is naïve and kind of annoying. However, he is not (known to be) this trope, or the reason Garfield's afraid. Ludlow's father, on the other hand, packs quite a punch, and while he's bigger than his son he's quite a bit more literally pint-sized.
- In another episode, one mouse's mother is inadvertently trapped in a cookie jar. He won't believe Garfield hasn't done anything with her, but since Garfield doesn't know what did happen, he's powerless to prove otherwise. This proves dangerous, as the mouse brings over a murine parody of Arnold Schwarzenegger to beat a confession out of him. The Cup-Sized Powerhouse knocks him around a while before Garfield is able to produce and subsequently discover the missing mother mouse.
- In Legion of Super Heroes, Karate Kid (not that one) is not only bereft of super-powers but also short and frail-looking, but can defeat Superman with his bare hands.
- In Teen Titans, Starfire is tall, but quite scrawny (though really, everyone but Cyborg is, so maybe it's down to the art style), which makes it all the more hilarious when she gets dangerous and introduces villains to the full wrath of a starbolt-wielding Flying Brick.
- Klockateer Number 216 from Metalocalypse is a very small member of dethklocks bodyguards but he is a very strong and capable fighter.
- Galaxy Rangers: The Kiwi species are sci-fi Hobbits in most senses of the word. They're a meter high, their planet and culture specialize in agriculture, and they're generally a good-natured bunch. Not that they can't dole out the whoop-ass - it just takes them a while to get them angry enough. Ambassador Zozo wears the planetary Hat to an extreme. He frequently takes on Mooks twice his size and wins - including a flying tackle onto the Scarecrow Entity.
- Both Aang and Toph from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Especially Toph. She's the shortest of the Gaang, but she can levitate giant boulders into the air and smash them down on her enemies.
- Korra from The Legend of Korra displays this trait as well. When the White Lotus Society first meets her, she is already bending three elements with skill... at about age four.
- Meap the alien from Phineas and Ferb. He's a tiny white snowman like alien with big blue eyes and a pink bunny ear hat, but is able to beat up opponents many times his own size and he is actually a police officer on his planet.
- Agent Perry the Platypus too.
- Also there's Agent S aka Sergei the Snail, who despite his small size and lack of limbs can somehow toss Doofenshmirtz around like it was nothing.
Doofenshmirtz: That snail is dynamite!
- The Powerpuff Girls practically embody this trope, being children with strength comparable to that of Superman.
- Bobby from Dungeons and Dragons. Only nine years old (ahem, "almost ten") and thus the youngest of the group, he was given the designation of "barbarian" by Dungeon Master, and he certainly shows it - he's able to flatten a whole horde of enemy mooks with his magical club.
- In Teen Titans, Bumblebee has the power to shrink to the size of an actual bumblebee, but retains her human-sized strength while doing so. As this scene demonstrates, she's not someone to take lightly.
- This was the whole joke behind Walter Lantz's Inspector Willoughby character ("That's me, folks!") He was a funny little man in a suit with a moustache who could casually beat up crooks more than twice his size.
- Weng Weng. He was a martial arts movies actor. 83 centimetres tall (2'9").
- Most short kendo practitioners. While the big guys may be able to hit harder, the smaller ones move faster and hit more areas, which is what counts in kendo. Case in point: a 5'1 man beating a 6'3 guy within ten seconds. Quite impressive.
- Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido. Many pictures of O-Sensei, as he is known, show him in the process of serenely trouncing people quite a bit taller and younger than him.
- Nobuyoshi Tamura, former student of Ueshiba, sensei of the French Aikikai, an 77 years old quite small man (compared to his French and European student) who has no qualm about having his younger, taller and stronger students crawl to the ground.
- Also Gozo Shioda, an early student of Ueshiba and founder of Yoshinkan Aikido, " was a small man, standing at around 5' 1" to 5' 2" (155–157 cm) and weighing around 102 lb. to 108 lb. (46–49 kg)", according to that wikipedia page.
- Muggsy Bogues managed to hold his own against the best basketball players in the NBA despite being 5'3" (160 cm) tall - the shortest man to ever play in the league.
- Bogues had several pictures of him with the tallest NBA player ever, the 7'7" (231 cm) Manute Bol. There was a 28-inch (71 cm) difference between their heights [dead link].
- Bogues and Bol were actually teammates for one season—Washington Bullets owner Abe Pollin was the Bill Veeck of the NBA.
- Bogues had several pictures of him with the tallest NBA player ever, the 7'7" (231 cm) Manute Bol. There was a 28-inch (71 cm) difference between their heights [dead link].
- Many combat specific soldiers are shorter, around the 5' range or less, and a Napoleon complex isn't uncommon. But in a Real Life aversion, it's a common complaint among drill sergeants in Combat Arms OSU Ts that 'the skinny ones break too easily', while the overweight recruits develop muscle mass from fat with fewer injuries.
- Nepali are known for their small size. Despite that the Ghurkhas have a remarkable reputation as soldiers.
- During the 60s the Gurkhas usually carried the American M16, rather than the British SLR. The reason for this was that the M16 was lighter and easier for the Gurkhas to fire.
- Who can forget Audie Murphy? At 166 cm/5'6", the Marines and paras rejected him for being too short. His company commander tried to have him sent to a cook and bakers' school after basic, but he'd have none of it. He went on to win every military award (some multiple times) in the US up to and including the Medal of Honor. And a few French and Belgian decorations on top of all that. And he had malaria at the time.
- Simo Hayha, at 5'3 (160 cm), was likely the greatest sniper of all time. He is officially credited with killing 705 Soviet soldiers over roughly 100 days of combat.
- The wolverine is a non-human example of this. It's maybe about the size of a medium-sized dog or a large badger, and can take down reindeer. Wolverines have been seen bullying an entire pack of wolves and steal their food! Against a wolverine's hell of a bad temper, the eponymous Sociopathic Hero is comparatively more of a Deathbringer the Adorable.
- Hell, the shrew! Tiniest mammal in the world, and they can take down things that, proportionately, would ruin a wolverine's day.
- Humans, too. 80 kg man can hunt almost any prey using tools. Without them, however, a man still can defeat an alligator or survive an encounter with a bear, if lucky. If you take account on the muscle mass, humans are incredibly strong.
- Yellowjackets, one of the smaller members of the wasp family, and by far the most dangerous.
- While size does make a major difference among evenly skilled fighters in the martial arts scene, the smaller competitors are still formidable fighters capable of impressive feats; many ostensibly lower weight class fighters have fought in the heavyweight divisions and done quite well. Also, when weight classes were introduced to competitive judo, many of the small judoka left the sport, saying that building the skills to overcome larger opponents were an integral part of it.
- Bruce Lee. The man was seriously tiny and scrawny for what was considered a good build for action hero badasses. That really didn't stop him.
- Chris Paul is one of the best and most feared players in the NBA, despite being one of the shorter ones.
- Boxer Manny Pacquiao is 5'6", and tends to come weighing in the mid 140 pound area. He's one of the best boxers in the world. You can underestimate him because of his size, goofy smile and friendly manner if you want to, but he will fuck you if you do.
- Foil Fencers are in all generality going to be better if they are both short and skinny, and they are harder to hit, and can get in close more easily. Short historical fencers who know that they're doing are nothing to sneeze at, either, when you realize that you have to bend at the knees (bending over exposes your head) to hit anywhere except for the head, which is far easier to defend against then your legs (which apart from bending at the knees to parry is to move them out of the way), which is their primary target.
- Germs, viruses, and diseases can decimate populations despite being invisible to the naked eye. However, this is more due to numbers, and so may be a better example of a Zerg Rush.
- Arabian Horses. Most range from 12-14 hands high (the technical size of ponies), and are renowned for three things: Their delicate beauty, being gentle enough that children can ride stallions, and having so much natural speed and endurance that it's illegal to race them against any other breed. Because it just wouldn't be fair to the other horses.
- Digging beetles have to be quite strong.
- Rhinoceros beetles are about 60 mm long, and can lift up to 850 times their own weight.
- Enthomologist V.S.Grebennikov experimented on various Scarabeidae beetles with a device allowing "proper" digging movement: two turf plates with a small gap between them, load tied to the beetle's thigh on a long thread. One Onthophagus (130 mg) dragged about 130 g, another (100 mg) pulled 421 g, Aphodius (220 mg) pulled 320 g, a big Aurata pulled "only" 495× its weight (it weighs almost a gram, so benefits from the scale less, and its strong side is flying, not digging), though it refused to dig in and preferred to crawl over tablecloth with its sharp claws instead. On a more accurate test with lifting weights using a block, Aurata pulled up 37× own weight, Aphodius 110×, Onthophagus 114×.
- Liam Hoekstra: The world's strongest toddler. He has a rare genetic disorder that makes him have a (incredibly high) metabolism, and has 40% more muscle than the average kid. In short: he's three and has a six pack. How does that make you feel, nerd?
- Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants, a skinny rod of a guy if there ever was one, is one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball today. When he was in college, most major-league scouts thought he was too small to play major-league ball.
- The Ratel, or Honey Badger, is an animal only three feet long. It is also the most feared animal in Africa. Honey badger don't give a shit about lions, cobras, etc. since their skin is thick enough to protect them against most animal stings and bites and actually too tough to be pierced by a spear or an arrow and it can withstand several machete blows, they have been known to chase away adult lions and stealing their kills, they raid henhouses by actually tearing off the planks from their walls... short of actually being bulletproof, there is little they can't withstand.
- Many small ice hockey players (David Krejci, who ended his career with the Boston Bruins, and Theoren Fleury, who most famously played for the Calgary Flames) can play a style better suited for players way larger. Krejci's hit opponents so hard, he gained the nickname of Wrecking ball.
- The Irukandji jellyfish has a bell of 1 cm long... and a sting from this can induce intense, full-body pain in a person.
- Similarly, the Pepsis Wasp, aka Tarantula Hawk. While big for a wasp(2"), is still just a little insect...whose sting has been likened to dropping a radio in the bathtub with you.
- Jackie Earle Haley: 5'5" and has black belts in taekwondo and kempo.