The Napoleon

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Speak not the name "palmtop tiger", or bad things will happen.
"You may inhabit a laughably small frame -- Really tiny. Borderline miniature. -- But the point is that it's filled with rage!"
Tiny Duke of Wellington, The Daily Show

The natural counterpart to the Gentle Giant. While the Gentle Giant is large and kind-hearted, the Napoleon is hot-blooded, aggressive and short. This character comes in a variety of flavors: they might be physically belligerent or merely pushy; they might be compensating for their lack of height by acting "big", or it might just be an incidental part of their character. By and large, small things are Acceptable Targets, so expect the Napoleon to be a villain or the Butt Monkey.

The name comes from "Napoleon complex" (popularly known as "short-man syndrome"), an inferiority complex said to be suffered by short people. Aggressive or dangerous people who are short are often labeled as such to mock them. This was most famously done to the legendary French emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. Although Napoleon was of average height for his nationality and time period, a number of different factors created the widely held urban legend that he was quite short. English propaganda of the time seized on the perception and portrayed him as comically short to deflate his image.

See Mister Big for when a vertically-challenged person is head of a criminal organization. Compare A-Cup Angst, when a female character feels inferior due to a lack of outward growth. Compare Tiny Tyrannical Girl.

Not to be confused with Napoleon Delusion.

Napoleons might use a Scully Box to appear taller.

Examples of The Napoleon include:

Anime and Manga

  • Aisaka Taiga from Toradora! (pictured above). Her shortness and temperament has earned her the nickname of "Palmtop Tiger". Do not speak this nickname in front of her.
  • Anak Zahard from Tower of God. Small, strong and straight to the point (or punch).
  • Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist. He's an okay guy, but he takes comments about his height way too personally, and interprets them as being much more vindictive than what the person originally said. For example, were someone to comment that Ed is "small", he would interpret it as "so small you can crush him like an ant", usually followed by the other person saying something like, "I didn't say that much!"
    • He even assaults people for making a comment about his height, and eventually causes a catastrophe in the manga when he recklessly attacks Envy, who was coming in "peace" and just called him "pipsqueak" without thinking. And Envy even tries to talk him into stopping....
      • He also keeps track of the exact number of times Envy called him pipsqueak.
    • He also takes at face value figurative comments such as "Grow up a little!" And misinterprets Hohenheim's innocent question, "Do you still hate milk?"
    • He once gets mad at himself when he thinks about being small enough to fit inside air vents is a good thing.
    • Two other twists on this Running Gag: Two Lady of War characters, Izumi Curtis and Olivia Armstrong, both call Ed short, but he doesn't respond in his usual manner, because he's terrified of them. Another instance is with two characters who start beating Ed up because he basically said they were his slaves. They actually do call him a pipsqueak who is an inch tall, and his response is "I'm not small, it's the world that's big."
    • Although, unlike most listed here, due to his nature as a teenager, he does grow taller as the story goes. Never becomes what you'd call 'tall', but does become a decent height.
  • Vice-Chancellor Napoleon from the second season of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX.
  • Atsushi Otani from Lovely Complex, who clashes a lot with the equally temperamental Huge Schoolgirl Koizumi.
  • Black Star in Soul Eater has a bit of Napoleon in him. While about average height with the rest of the cast, he places much, much emphasis on how "big" he is.
  • Michael from Angel Sanctuary. Yes, that Michael. He's prone to causing violent explosions whenever anyone mentions his height. Naturally, that's the first thing Setsuna says upon meeting him.
  • Dragon Ball: Commander Red. He had plans to ask Shenron to make him taller. Which, when his right hand man finds out, gets him shot in the face (Red earlier led his Black and his army to believe that they'd use the dragonballs to conquer the planet).
  • Dragonball Z. Vegeta. It's extremely noticable during his first appearance, and not only because he's standing next to Nappa. Vegeta seems to grow in comparison to the other characters as the series moves on, though this can be attributed more to added muscle mass and aging rather than physically growing taller. He consistently remains one of the shorter fighters in the show.
  • Snagglebit from The Littl' Bits; his original name was even Napoleon.
  • Naruto before Shippuden was this—him being the shortest in the team, including Sakura. And let's face it—he really is very confrontational, rude, loud, and aggressive.
    • In Shippuden, however, he's a lot taller, practically as tall as Sakura if not a bit taller.
  • England from Axis Powers Hetalia, though his demeanor isn't explicitly stated to come from his shortness. His official height would set him only two centimeters shorter than America and at the same height as France. However, he's a bit shorter than France and America looks One Head Taller next to him, almost to Huge Guy Tiny Other Guy proportions at times, so it's suspected that the author made him shorter in comparison to play up this trope.
  • Vita of Lyrical Nanoha. Tsundere, Fiery Redhead with a giant hammer and approximately half the height of most of the cast permanently. Gets annoyed whenever someone mistakes her for a child. Tends to be exaggerated in fan works where she's shown looking for ways to get taller.
  • To an extent, Hiei from Yu Yu Hakusho. He's never shown as being especially sensitive about his height, but he is a diminutive, snarky, and on the tempermental side.
  • Emerald from Pokémon Special, who tries to make up for it with extendable arms and ridiculously high platform shoes.
    • To be fair, you can't really blame him, since he's shorter than Yellow (who does not, however, have the same problem, though she does usually Sweat Drop every time one of the GSC gang realizes that she's older than them, despite being shorter).
  • Kanta Mizuno, the eponymous Desert Punk is one of the shortest people in the series and rather ugly (this isn't particularly rare in the series). These qualities contribute to him being a jerkass who is determined to prove himself the best bounty hunter there is.
  • Teen Genius Suzu Hagimura is Seitokai Yakuindomo's resident shorty. Never call her kid unless you want to hear a long tirade about the strength of her intelligence. That goes double if you're a foreigner: it'll be the Cluster F Bombs for you.
  • The protagonist, Kankichi Ryotsu, of Kochikame is like this. He's shown to have a short temper and excels physically. His height is depicted at 167 cm, shorter than most of the main cast, but sometimes appears shorter. His boss, Daijiro "Bucho" Ohara, is slightly taller and has a short fuse temper mainly towards Ryotsu goofing off on his job.
  • A milder example is Ryota Miyagi from Slam Dunk. While he's smart enough to use his lack of height to his advantage in his sports team, he's still somewhat sensitive about it. Then again, being a member of the basketball team as well as the shortest of the regulars will make you this.
  • Kokoro-chan from Tantei Opera Milky Holmes. Perhaps to compensate, she's especially fond of flaunting her IQ. In the OVA, she gets a side job of... being a loli idol.
  • Ironically (because she otherwise embodies so many Russian National Stereotypes), Katyusha of Girls und Panzer is extremely sensitive about her height.

Comic Books

  • The Big Figure, the dwarf kingpin in Watchmen. Rorschach is also a small man who wears lifts in his shoes while in costume to appear taller.
  • Fantastic Four villain, the Mole Man is a short guy who rules Monster Island, where most residents are Kaiju-size.
  • In Love and Rockets, Carmen is very small and extremely aggressive, though she isn't as nasty as many examples on this page.
  • Despite what Hugh Jackman's portrayal may have you believe, Wolverine is 5'3" and has a legendary temper and mean streak.
  • Libertad from Mafalda.
  • Joe Dalton in Lucky Luke. While his height isn't a problem for him, he is described as a "hysterical midget" and lives up to that description.
  • Similarly, Iznogoud. Both characters' jumping up and down in rage would be a lot less funny if they were taller.
  • Jose of Cybersix, the bratty, bossy son and second-in-command of Von Reichter. The only thing shorter than him is his temper.
  • Ivy the Terrible from The Beano is a short agressive pre-school aged child. Who ocassionally seems to be more agressive and destructive than some of the older and larger characters in the comic.


  • Lord Farquaad from Shrek, who takes great lengths to appear taller, such as by attaching false legs to his stirrups. Upon seeing Farquaad's massive tower, Shrek suggests that he's Compensating for Something, which could actually go a few ways.
  • Kadaj from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, while not espescially short, is noticeably shorter than his two brothers, as well as Cloud and Sephiroth, and out of all of them tends to act the most over-the-top.
  • Mr. Huph, Mr. Incredible's boss at the insurance company, in The Incredibles. He's extremely short and short-tempered and looks even smaller next to Bob. He's voiced by Wallace Shawn, who often plays these types of characters.
    • As well as Edna Mode from the same film, or Chef Skinner in Ratatouille.
  • All of the mob bosses in The Triplets of Belleville are tiny and always flanked by two much larger bodyguards.
  • Mr. Sykes from Shark Tale. He a short-temperd pufferfish who rules the Whale-Wash with henchmen Ernie & Bernie.
  • Yao from Mulan is one of the more fierce and Blood Knight -ish soldiers on the heroes side... and is also the shortest of them.
  • The main antagonist of Wreck-It Ralph is actually King Candy, a short, jovial, funny-looking guy whose size and personality makes him Beneath Suspicion for most of the movie.
  • Swan in Phantom of the Paradise, played by a 5'2 Paul Williams, has shortened doorways at the Swanage/Death Records.
  • Vizzini from The Princess Bride hires the strongest giant and most deadly swordsman he can find, but feels no fear in constantly browbeating and threatening them.
  • Napoleon's entire personality in Time Bandits was based around his abhorrence of tall people and obsessiveness about being short.
  • Gus, played by Mickey Rooney, from the film Night at the Museum. The real Napoleon appears in the sequel, Battle for the Smithsonian.
  • Joe Pesci's characters often have a Hair-Trigger Temper. See: Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas or Nicky Santoro in Casino.
  • Mini-Me from Austin Powers. He doesn't really say anything about it, though... just makes a lot of mean faces if you make fun of his height.
  • Lord Cutler Beckett from Pirates of the Caribbean. He's the closest thing to an outright-evil character in the films. He has no fear of Gods, and no sense of honor, he's cold, heartless, tyrannical, and severe. But he's so tiny!
  • Francis Begbie of Trainspotting. Although the character in the book was described as a large, musclebound bruiser, director Danny Boyle chose to cast 5'8 Robert Carlyle on the belief that shorter men are more dangerous.
  • Tanner in both the 1976 The Bad News Bears (and its sequel Breaking Training) and the 2005 remake.
  • Rory Breaker, the leader of the black gang in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He's described as a "psychotic dwarf with an afro" who once lit a man on fire for changing the channel away from something he was watching. His short height is accentuated by his two mammoth bodyguards, whose faces are sometimes not even visible as they stand beside him.
  • Miss Ungermeyer in the Lizzie McGuire movie.
  • This is a staple for most roles played by French comedic genius Louis de Funès—short, bossy and bad-tempered.
    • For example, in Delusions of Grandeur, Don Saluste finds his valet Blaze (played by Yves Montand) to be too tall and orders him to serve his master while half-crouched. The actors for the "Grands d'Espagne" in the same movie were specifically chosen as very tall to make Saluste look shorter.
  • Teardrop in Winter's Bone is a scrawny, middle-aged and physically unimpressive man who commands a healthy respect from the meth dealers in his town. Judging by the fact that he goes literally Ax Crazy on a car and wins a Mexican standoff with the local sheriff, he's no stranger to violence.
  • Kevin Hart's character in Think Like A Man, when confronted with a very tall man who wants to play on the basketball court that he and his friends were just about done with, refused to give it up and instead challenged the man and his equally tall friends to play him and his friends for the right to use the court. Kevin and friends lost really badly.
  • Ottilio Panza, an assassin in The Boondock Saints II, wears elevator shoes. He also lies down next to his victims after killing them, comparing his height with theirs.


  • The Helmacron race from Animorphs.
  • Curly from all incarnations of Of Mice and Men.
  • Discworld:
    • The Nac Mac Feegle are basically Violent Glaswegians with the bodies of Smurfs. Likewise, Wee Mad Arthur from Feet of Clay is six feet of angry in a six-inch body (and, in Snuff, is confirmed to be one of the Nac Mac Feegle).
    • Corporal Strappi from Monstrous Regiment is another Discworld example. He constantly bullies any Borogrovian recruit that can't tear his head off, and by the end of the first day of marching he was able to get "Wazzer" Goom to throw up just by shouting.
    • Big Fido, feared canine psychopath and charismatic leader of Ankh-Morpork's Dog Guild, was a small fluffy white poodle.
  • Aliera e'Kieron from the Dragaera series. She goes as far as levitating to appear taller, which provides a handy excuse for a duel when someone points it out. She seems to have dropped the practice later in the series's timeline.
  • The idea that Napoleon was extremely short is a plot point in Harry Stephen Keeler's X. Jones of Scotland Yard. Midget-hating tycoon Andre Marceau is found strangled to death in the middle of a freshly rolled croquet lawn. The only footprints, other than Marceau's own, are some tiny, baby-sized footprints. These do not lead out to the body but merely describe a small arc around it. The police suspect a Flying Stranger-Baby. X. Jones is called in to help crack the case! The culprit is Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon seduced an ancestor of the victim and passed on a gene that causes people to die suddenly with symptoms that cannot be distinguished from strangulation. The same gene also causes hallucinations -- in the victim's case, of a demonic baby. That was not an unusual plot for Mr. Keeler, either.
  • Lessa in the Dragonriders of Pern series is tiny but fearsome, made all the worse by her massive, jet plane-sized dragon Ramoth.
  • A mild example in the Doctor Who Tie In Novels starring the Eighth Doctor. He's not exactly short—at 5'8", he's only an inch or two below average height for a 21st-century British man. But that's not especially tall for a hero with his enormous reputation. He hardly seems to know or care what he looks like to anyone, but sometimes meets people who were Expecting Someone Taller, and another character comments on the fact that "he acts tall," which he does. His companion Anji is even more of an example; fellow companion Fitz reflects upon how silly she looks trying to boss around some thirteen-year-old girls whom she is "several inches shorter than", but decides she probably "shout[s] so much" because, "It must be a bummer to be short." He wouldn't know; he's the opposite of this trope, being tall and laid-back.
  • Scourge in Warrior Cats. Although replace "belligerent" and "pushy" with "mass-murdering psychopathic dictator".
  • Sammael (whose name means "The Destroyer of Hope") of the Forsaken in The Wheel of Time was one of several formerly prominent light side generals and Aes Sedai during the war against the shadow in the Age of Legends, whom was intensely jealous of the leader, Lews Therin Telamon, The Dragon (but not The Dragon), for one because he was a head shorter than him. He is extremely irked the same is true of his opponent's Reincarnation Rand Al Thor, and sometimes uses a projection to appear taller. It should be noted that he probably isn't all that short really, as Rand is explicitly said to be much taller than is average thanks to his Aiel heritage, around 6 1/2 feet.
    • It's explicitly stated in the books that Sammael is only slightly shorter than average.
  • Willie Dick, the 4'7" Tlinglit cop in The Yiddish Policemens Union rides a 2/3 scale motorcyle, wears a bearskin he killed himself, and is generally described as a Badass bordering on Folk Hero notoriety. Naturally, when Gentle Giant Berko Shemets used to be a cop in Tlinglit territory, the two of them were partners.
  • D'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers is described as quite short, but it doesn't seem to bother him. He is extremely Hot-Blooded in the first book, but even in Twenty Years After, when he's matured a lot, he challenges two of his best friends to a duel because they bruised his ego.
  • Miles Vorkosigan is ahem-mumble-something under five feet tall, and with fragile bones to boot (well, until he gets synthetic replacements, anyway). He's an Admiral rather than a General, but his Napoleonic tendencies are described several times by other characters, and even he acknowledges that he's driven by his physical condition; he has to prove, day after day after day, that he's a smartass bastard who can think rings around the opposition, and thus force people to accept the body that his brains happen to be in. The Vorkosigan Saga Universe should probably be very, very thankful that he had really good parents, because otherwise he'd have probably conquered it twice over by now.
  • Karrin Murphy of The Dresden Files. Tiny (especially when she's surrounded by men who are pushing six feet like Harry, Sanya and Thomas) and can probably kick your ass twelve ways from midday. Not to mention the fact that she may or may not be the wielder of a holy sword. As Sanya put it, "Tiny, but fierce."
    • A more Villainous example is the Red King the leader of the Red Court. Whereas all his deputies the Lords of the Outer Night are extremely tall he's barely over five feet. He's also a bloodthirsty psychopath, and is one of the most powerful individuals encountered in the series thus far.
  • The Legionnaire who goes by the name of "Super Gnat" in Robert Asprin's Phule's Company books. She's a wee little thing with an explosive temper about anything that even hints that someone is calling her "short." Once she's partnered with Tusk-anini (a 7.5 foot tall, warthog-looking alien who is also a really peaceful type), she starts to develop some self-control and get less touchy about her height.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire
    • Petyr Baelish in is called "Littlefinger" in part because of his short stature. He's half Napoleon and half Gatsby, having grown power-mad as a result of the humiliation he received as a pint-sized and poor noble's son.
    • Tyrion Lannister is a dwarf living in a culture that believes that dwarves are better off killed at birth. He develops a forceful personality and keen, educated mind to deal with the abuse and prejudice. While generally a moral person, he's also not afraid to straight up murder people who get in his way. It's worth noting that he's described as a "giant" several times in poetic ways when his integrity, personality or sexual prowess out-does his physical stature.
  • Lucky Starr's sidekick Bigman Jones.
  • Musket from Lloyd Alexander's Westmark trilogy suffers from dwarfism, yet is one of the fiercest fighters and most forceful personalities in the series.
  • Hilda Mae Burroughs in Robert A. Heinlein's The Number of the Beast is short, but is by far the most aggressive of the four protagonists. She will not suffer an insult to herself or her family without exacting revenge, is ruthless in protecting her interests, and is the only member of the (by the end) enormous cast to successfully stand up to Lazarus Long's overbearing attitude.
  • Percy Wetmore, the main villain from The Green Mile, is described as being very cruel, very sadistic and very short.
  • Base from Star Trek: Millennium, the galaxy's shortest and most angrily homicidal Ferengi.
  • In Ian Fleming's original novel of Goldfinger, the title character is depicted as one of these.

"Bond always mistrusted short men. They grew up from childhood with an inferiority complex. All their lives they would strive to be big -- bigger than the others who had teased them as a child. Napoleon had been short, and Hitler. It was the short men that caused all the trouble in the world. And what about a misshapen short man with red hair and a bizarre face? That might add up to a really formidable misfit."

  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: Many times, a short male character will pop up and the author or one of the characters will say that the guy probably has a Napoleon Complex. This sort of character is portrayed as a Jerkass at best and a Complete Monster at worst by the author. At times this seems to go into the territory of Unfortunate Implications.
  • Horace Rangoon, the villain in The Rio Hondo Kid by J. T. Edson.

Live-Action TV

  • Louie De Palma from Taxi, though many of Danny DeVito's characters get classified as this by default.
  • The TV series Jack of All Trades features appearances by Napoleon himself, played by Verne "Mini-Me" Troyer.
  • The pompous and authoritarian Captain George Mainwaring in Dad's Army is at least a head shorter than most of his platoon, and is often called "Napoleon" by the local ARP Warden. In one episode he had a Dream Sequence in which he was Napoleon.
  • Dr. Romano on ER, even though he could be quite the good guy at times.
  • Top Gear's Richard "Hamster" Hammond, although he isn't actually very short. The Napoleon stuff comes from working with a "seven foot oaf" who is big on the mockery. Nonetheless, at about 5'7", he's the smallest of the hosts and also probably the most foul-mouthed and adventurous.
  • El Chapulin Colorado can't get five minutes straight without being called "short" in a way or another, to the more insulting. The most memorables takes on it involve the famous "Pastillas de Chiquitolina" (Smallinium Pills), who can turn anyone who gulps them into Fun Size.

Chapulín: (showing the bottle) With one of these pills, I can become incredibly tiny! Just see!
(El Chapulín swallows one pill and instantly shrinks to Action Figure size)
Helped: Whoa! This is amazing! I though that you couldn't get smaller, but I figure I was totally wrong!
Chapulí­n: They take advantage of my nobility...

  • Jon Stewart was recently accused of being one of these. He decided to grab the idea and run with it.
  • On an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Tom Servo, who is the smallest of the 'Bots, got "short man's disease" and started expressing a higher level of machismo as a result.
  • An episode of the reality show Tool Academy features a contestant accused by the entire cast of being a Napoleon due to his short height and arrogance. Other contestants repeatedly assert that he is jealous of their larger physiques and wonder what a short man could possibly be arrogant about.
  • Ben Linus of Lost gets extra points for being implicitly compared to Napoleon once or twice. At 5'8, he's just Napoleon's height, too, and while quite the gentleman, certainly dangerous and power-hungry enough to qualify.
  • Blaine Anderson from Glee shows flashes of this from time to time, being 5'7" in a cast where the average male height is 5'10 to six feet. The crew tries to use camera tricks to make Blaine seem appropriately tall compared to his boyfriend Kurt, but it's getting less frequent (and a number of fans like it more than the traditional height conventions).
  • Fozzie's agent Irving Bizarre, who appeared on one episode of The Muppet Show; a short and snarky guy, despite being so short that his hat covers his entire body:

Kermit: Who else do you handle? Rich Little? Tiny Tim?
Irving: I wouldn't handle you pal, I'd get warts!

  • Irving was intended as a caricature of Hollywood talent agent Irving Lazar, who was also very short.

Newspaper Comics

  • The King in The Wizard of Id. His reaction to his height seems to vary wildly between Wangst, ruthlessness, and Disproportionate Retribution—a joke about "short stories" can lead to time on the rack.
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin has been known to have issues with his height. It's particularly frustrating for him that shorts in fact actually touch his feet. Then again, it's possibly subverted by the fact that he's only six years old....
  • Mr. Dithers, the Mean Boss to Dagwood in Blondie.

Tabletop Games

  • In the BattleTech universe, Victor Steiner-Davion may be the most obvious example (mostly because he regularly gets accused of this by his detractors). In reality, he's not overly sensitive about his height... but he is physically short, has to live up to being the firstborn son of two of the most famous and popular rulers in the recent history of the Inner Sphere, and doesn't suffer fools gladly, so, close enough.


  • Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream seems to have this as her Berserk Button. Sure, she's angry because she thinks Helena stole her boyfriend, but what really gets her riled are the short jokes.
  • Subverted in the song "Napoleon" from the Guy Bolton-P. G. Wodehouse-Jerome Kern Have a Heart.

Video Games

  • Ultimate Supreme Executive Chairman Drek from Ratchet and Clank, and Emperor Percival Tachyon from Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools Of Destruction.
  • Ramon Salazar, the insane Castellan midget from Resident Evil 4, who also dresses in period clothing to make the connection even more obvious. Of course, he's also got progeria and a creepy laugh.
  • Laharl from Disgaea, who would likely (and literally) skin you alive for saying such.
  • Roger S. Huxley in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. Obsessed with proving himself to be "a real man", and three feet tall. Admittedly, he's twelve years old, but judging by his father's height, he's not likely to get much taller.
  • Largo La Grande from Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge: Lechuck's Revenge, the former right-hand man of the previous game's Big Bad, who uses his reputation to boss around an entire island as he wishes.
  • Manuel Calavera of Grim Fandango is a protagonist example. He has stubby legs that force him to wear lifts while acting in his official capacity as a reaper, and has a nigh-indomitable will which takes him from one end of the Land of the Dead to the other and from deck-swabber to captain of a ship within a year. While he doesn't appear to be good at fighting, he has only lost to Domino Hurley (once in backstory and once in Year 3) and managed to lay out Nick Virago with one punch in Year 2.
  • Inverted in Psychonauts, where one of the minds the player enters belongs to Fred Bonaparte, a direct descendant of Napoleon. Unlike his ancestor he himself is tall, and completely lacking in ambition, and as such is haunted by a fear of not living up to his family's reputation.
    • Played straight with Coach Oleander, who starts the whole "take over the world with psychic death tanks" thing because he was refused military service because of his height.
  • Baldur's Gate plays this straight with Heroic Sociopath Korgan, and subverts it with Mazzy—while she's short, belligerent, and pushy, she is also the nearest thing to a halfling paladin and acts as such.
  • Shoma Sawamura from Rival Schools. It doesn't help that his on and off girlfriend Natsu is a Huge Schoolgirl.
  • Zack Temple from Mega Man Star Force seems to be this only without the personality. He's definitely self-conscious about his height, standing less than four feet tall, and is constantly looking for ways to make himself taller (at least on the same level as Geo, and Luna and her hair).
  • Ripto from the Spyro the Dragon series. He typically rides on a dinosaur to make himself appear taller, and the heroes often make jokes about his height.
  • Final Fantasy II: One of Emperor Palamecia's dragons, Count Borghen, fits this trope, and even kind of looks like the dictator himself. He has no real bearing on the story, other than offing one of your more useful party members.
  • Arguably, Kirby. Combine the fact that he's about 8 inches, nearly destroys the universe when someone steals his cake, and American Kirby Is Hardcore, you've got one nasty puffball.
  • Pepe from Atelier Annie. Being a fairy (a species whose members are shorter than most humans by nature), everyone he meets first notices his short stature, and this pisses him off very quickly.
  • The 4th case of Ace Attorney: Invesigations is set 7 years before the rest of the cases. Various jokes are made about the then 13-year-old Franiziska von Karma being short. Any of the comments that are said aloud end in a lash from her whip. This is the only place these jokes are made as she's in her late teens or early 20s and isn't short.
  • The Ax Crazy Mori Kibbutz from Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony. He is notably shorter than any of the other characters, including his younger brother, Brucie, whom he regularly bullies and belittles. He strongly belives that he is superior to everyone else and will constantly brag about the size of his penis and his military training, especially if is his height is mentioned.
  • The eponymous player character in the Adventure Game Ceville is a three-foot-tall tyrant.
  • The Axem Rangers in Super Mario RPG.
  • The Soda Popper from Sam and Max are former child stars who are short and bow vengence on Sam and Max.
  • Doctor Neo Cortex of the Crash Bandicoot series. When the series began, he was so short that his in-game model couldn't even walk properly due to the insufficient length of his legs. It is implied in the introduction of The Huge Adventure that abuse related to his height (along with They Called Me Mad) was what drove Doctor Cortex towards a life of trying to Take Over the World. It should be noted that he has gotten taller in later games; his official height is given as 5'3" in the Nintendo DS version of Crash of the Titans, and he now has visible knees.
  • This title notably fits the champion Veigar from League of Legends, the tiny champion who complains of short jokes while still trying to feign being evil.
  • Date Masamune as portrayed in Samurai Warriors is fairly small compared to others (especially in the first game) and is the resident Smug Snake who wants you to know that you are an imbecile!

Visual Novels

Web Animation

  • Strong Bad from Homestar Runner, even though he's really the second shortest character and of course the shortest is The Cheat, his Non-Human Sidekick.
  • Paul Hammerbro from Bowser's Kingdom. The only one shorter than him is Jeff and Paul has a temper to match.

Web Comics

  • Pella Brightwing from Twice Blessedis a pixie princess. She's also incredibly hot blooded and seems enjoy beating/blowing up things much bigger than her, especially if they make a crack about her size.
  • Belkar Bitterleaf from Order of the Stick is short even for a halfling. He's also a Chaotic Evil Ax Crazy Blood Knight who will kill anyone or anything if given the chance, not just people who make fun of his height.
    • He at one point claims this was inspired by other halflings making fun of his height, but he was just trying to get some roleplaying XP at the time so this may just be a convenient lie.
  • Permission Sam, arch-nemesis of Dominic in the Magic: The Gathering webcomic UG Madness, is a condescending jerk who plays solely control decks. He's also just 5'1", a fact that Dominic frequently uses to get on his nerves.
  • Agent Jerry in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob is foul-tempered and quick to fire off his gun (fortunately, he's a terrible shot). Floyd Fitznewski, on the other hand, isn't really mean, he just has too much energy and likes to start fights for the heck of it—especially if it involves a flying tackle.
    • Meanwhile, Galatea seems to have a crush on the actual historical Napoleon. "He's so complex, they named one after him!"
  • Lord Stanley in Erfworld. "I'll ignore one height crack. One."
  • Girl Genius has Dr. Beetle, who was one of most brilliant mad scientists around, but his little issues sped up his fall.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Eddy from Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy.
  • Numbah Four from Kids Next Door.
  • The ultimate example might be Plankton from SpongeBob SquarePants, who is miniscule compared to the rest of the characters, whose height is typically less than 10 inches.
  • The latter half of Pinky and The Brain.
    • He was even mistaken for Napoleon in one episode, securing him control of France. That is, until the real deal walked under the "You must be this tall to enter" signs Brain set up at the border specifically to keep him out.
  • Colonel Spigot from Tale Spin.
  • Yosemite Sam and Rocky the Gangster from Looney Tunes (both sport hats nearly as tall as they are!).
    • Henery Chickenhawk in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons.
    • One time Bugs Bunny went up against the actual Napoleon himself, or as Bugs called him, "Nappy".
  • Napoleon himself on Clone High.
    • Plus he's on the Basketball team!
  • Invader Zim is from a society that determines rank from height, and is the size of a human child. As a result he's perpetually eager to please his leaders, but being a Too Dumb to Live Genius Ditz he only succeeds in making things worse.
  • Ren from Ren and Stimpy. It helps that he's a Chihuahua, well known in Real Life for yapping impotently at people as if they were the boss. And he's well-known for going psycho. Ren has been described thusly: "He would rip your heart out, if only he had the strength."
  • Napoleon Brie from the original Biker Mice From Mars series, and Hairball from the new one.
  • Toph Bei Fong from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Brutish and short, but a good girl (if snarky).
  • Jade from Jackie Chan Adventures may qualify. Usually she's just an over-enthusiastic kid, but then she also utters such gems as "If you harm one hair on his head, you're gonna hafta answer to me!" and totally means it.
    • Whatever you do, do not call her a shrimp.
  • In The Venture Brothers, Tim-Tom and Kevin are Dr. Girlfriend's "Murderous Moppets" from her days as the Au Pair. They're a pair of creepy midgets who always want to stab things, though their personalities are purely servile to Dr. Girlfriend and they act like her pets.
  • In Xiaolin Showdown, Hannibal Roy Bean is... well, a bean. But it doesn't stop him from being one of the most evil and dangerous forces in existance.
    • Omi is a pretty straight example.
  • Dr. Wasabi from Chop Socky Chooks.
  • Cliffjumper from the G1 Transformers. Basically, he's the same as Bumblebee as far as physical appearance goes (except red in colour), thus making him one of the smallest of the Autobots. Yet the dude is constantly in the middle of fights. He also has the habit of pulling a BFG literally out of nowhere.
  • Scrappy-Doo from Scooby Doo. The other characters had to constantly restrain him from making patently suicidal frontal attacks on much larger opponents. (Then again, since at least Fred and Velma were always convinced from the get-go that the ghosts were really guys in suits, why did the others always run?)
  • Mr. Spacely in The Jetsons.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes gives us Lucius and Heloise. The two shortest members of the cast are also the two most aggressive.
  • Dirt Boss, the third Constructicon from Transformers Animated. While Mixmaster and Scrapper were Punch Clock Villains who followed whoever had the tastiest oil, this guy was planning to take over Detroit minutes after his creation.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: Mojo Jojo! He even gives a rant on how great Napoleon was just to rub the point home (though he was a little deluded about how well he did).
  • In one Animated Adaptation of Lucky Luke, General Custer is portrayed as a raving, megalomaniacal, racist midget.
  • Female version: Marcia the marsupial mouse from Blinky Bill can be downright nasty at times.
  • Mr. Mufflin from Fanboy and Chum Chum. No taller than 11-year-old Fanboy, a Perpetual Frowner, absolutely uncaring for his job (frequently reminds himself that it's only 12 years until his retirement) and prone to treating students inequitably.
  • Winslow & Eddie the Squirrel from CatDog
  • Citoset from The Ripping Friends
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Bullseye!" one of the contestants in the Pageant Of Evil is a Dr. Diminutive, who introduces himself by saying, "I don't have a Napoleon complex! Napoleon had a me complex!" He's quickly disqualified for being too short.
  • Bart Simpson in The Simpsons episode "Radioactive Man", in an attempt to get the part for Fallout Boy for the titular film being made, did several things indicative of the trope, including wearing elevator shoes, wearing a pin-stripe suit with vertical lines, and having a chihuahua as a scale for comparison. He ultimately doesn't get the part only because he was still a few inches too short. Milhouse got the part instead.
  • The titular character of Dan Vs..

Real Life

  • The actual Napoleon was 5'7, above average height for an 18th century Frenchman (5'5). It was propaganda from his sworn enemy, England, that created his reputation as a miniature, petty tyrant. A number of misconceptions have aided in perpetuating the image to this day. First, French feet of the time period were longer than modern feet, causing his height in French feet to be numerically smaller. Also, his nickname le Petit Caporal, "the Little Corporal", actually referred to his humble background and modesty around his troops, rather than his physical size. Finally, he was often seen during war time on foot, surrounded by hulking bodyguards (who had a height requirement), making him look short by comparison.
  • Male politicians and political leaders often go to great lengths to prevent themselves from appearing short.
    • French president Nicolas Sarkozy is infamous for his attempts to hide his short height. While ex-president Bush is 15 cm (6 inches) taller than him, they appear the same size on the rightmost photo. But what is the guy on the right looking at? There are also some official pictures of French governments where he can be seen on the tips of his feet in order to seem taller. Some people actually make a comparison with Napoleon for this reason. One of his nickname among his opponent is "Naboleon" (Midgetoleon). Ironically, few people would care about his height if he didn't go to such embarrassing lengths to conceal it : many recent world leaders (Vladimir Putin, Dmitri Medvedev, Hu Jintao, and his current main political opponent (François Hollande) are about as short or even shorter than him and their height is almost never commented upon. In fact, his temper about his height is so famous that songs have been written about it. This page has a few examples.
    • Joseph Stalin was around 165–168 cm (5'5"-5'6"). His statues and portraits take care to make him appear taller, as well as conceal his withered arm. He didn't like being around men who were taller than him in general; almost all his deputies were notably short.
    • Caesar Augustus was around 5'7" according to his secretary (5'9" in Roman units), but biographer Suetonius says this is slightly inflated and he was known for wearing thick-soled shoes.
    • North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il was infamous for wearing platform shoes and a bouffant hairstyle to make himself seem taller. When asked about Kim's height, Madeleine Albright noted that without his lifts, she stood eye-to-eye with him.
    • While George W. Bush is not short, in the 2004 American presidential election he faced the noticeably taller John Kerry. A minor news story broke revealing the back-and-forth negotiations between the two presidents' camps on how to film the debates. The Bush camp was particularly concerned about Bush appearing too short while standing near Kerry.
    • Inverted by George W. Bush's father, George H. W. Bush, during his tenure as Ronald Reagan's vice-president. Bush was an inch taller than Reagan and took pains to avoid standing next to him in photos until after Reagan's term of office was over.
  • Small dogs are generally more aggressive than large dogs due to the fact that they have to work so much harder to maintain their place in the hierarchy. Their higher metabolism also gives them more forceful personalities in general, whether friendly or mean. Even the tiniest and cutest dogs have the instincts of hunters. In fact, many small dog breeds (like terriers) were specifically bred to hunt and kill vermin. Compounding the problem, many owners fail to train their small dogs properly, believing that their Mister Muffykins is harmless.
  • Harlan Ellison was of short stature and was known for his forceful personality. In the documentary Dreams With Sharp Teeth he described himself during his days in the military as a "mean little dog" who, though "86 pounds soaking wet," refused to give up and never collapsed during training. Contrary to the trope, he avoided confrontations with the other soldiers by volunteering to help them write letters to their girlfriends.
  • Scientology's current[when?] leader David Miscavige. If the accounts from ex-members that he frequently beats his staff and encourages other high-ranking officials to do so and manipulates promotional pictures so that he looks taller are to be believed... Could also be considered a Mister Big depending on your personal opinions of Scientology.
  • Alexander the Great was purported to be 5'4", although considering what time period he lived in that isn't that small.
  • Attila the Hun may have suffered from dwarfism.
  • Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann, the stars of Withnail and I, once had not-quite-an-argument—apparently more of a friendly debate—about whether Real Classic Movie Stars are generally short, according to Grant's memoirs. McGann, who's 5'8", thought so; Grant — 6'2" — didn't. Score one for the little guy; McGann won.
  • Bank robber George "Baby Face" Nelson was a raving loony, with a whole keyboard full of Berserk Buttons, but the biggest one was his height: he was only 5'4".
  • Although he was portrayed by 6'2 Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia, in real life T.E. Lawrence was 5'5.
  • Devon Aoki is one of the world's smallest supermodels, at only 5'3". She is listed at 5'5" however, to give her a chance in modeling. Most supermodels have to be above 5'7", no question. She is also known for her roles in martial art films and as Miho in Sin City.
  • Charles Manson is 5'2".
  • Prince is 5'2". He is also known as being one of the hardest to work with musicians/producers in the industry.
  • When Prince Eugene of Savoy-Carignan (1663-1736) requested to be appointed to be given command of a regiment, King Louis XIV of France refused because he said Eugene was too scrawny and too little. Refusing to accept this, Eugene entered the service of the Holy Roman Emperor and eventually rose to supreme command of the Austrian Army. Especially during the War Of Spanish Succession, in which Eugene together with the Duke of Marlborough led the main Allied Army, Louis must have deeply regretted judging the man once known as the "little abbé" by his appearance...
  • Despite slightly taller than the American average height (though would be slightly under the average for post-1901 Presidents) at 5'10", Marco Rubio developed (or was seen as having developed) one due to an inability to stop feeding the 6'2" Donald Trump's "Little Marco" nickname for him. It reached the point Rubio started wearing high heeled boots to compensate, which attracted more attention than his height.
  • Japanese officers in World War II were so small that you could tell officer corpses from enlisted by the shorter height of officers. In this case it was because Japanese military schools took The Spartan Way to the point of not properly feeding adolescent cadets at just the time when they needed feeding.


  • The Quarterback gives orders to the offensive line in a football game, and is generally expected to by smaller and more spry than the other players. Conversely, telling a large person they'd be good at blocking carries the Unfortunate Implications of calling them a Meat Shield. However, this is a relative measurement as most quarterbacks are at least 6 feet tall as a requirement if only to to see over the heads of the offensive line and to thrown 'down' at the smaller wide receivers. As far as blocking, it's harder than it looks and it's an vital part of any offense, if no where near as glamourous as other positions.
  • In international football (soccer), quite a number of the truly great centre forwards were of below-average height with a somewhat squat figure that belied their talent for explosive speed and ability to jump higher than taller defenders to head a ball. Good cases in point were Ferenc Puskas of Hungary, and Uwe Seeler (known to his teammates as "Dicker" = "fat one") and Gerd Müller (fondly known as "kleines dickes Müller" = "little fat Müller") of West Germany.