Created By: BelieveItOrNotSeptember 9, 2010 Last Edited By: BelieveItOrNotSeptember 9, 2010
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ShrunkenOrgan

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In Western Animation, Anime, and Comics it is common to sum up behavioral problems or character flaws as being the direct result of some greatly underdeveloped organ in a character's body. Maybe said character has a heart that is too small and thus cannot properly love or maybe their brain resembles the size of a golf ball and thus lacks normal intelligence. In all cases, the organ is depicted as being far smaller than one would expect. Of course, having an organ this small in Real Life would cause serious complications for most of these characters, so this trope is very often Played For Laughs.

That being said, there are numerous examples of this trope being played seriously as well, typically in the Medical Drama or Soap Opera realm. While cases of super-small organs in those works are still factually inaccurate, they are at least portrayed as realistic, life-threatening conditions. For example, this trope could be invoked with characters that are far larger than average but still have an average size organ of some kind. If being Played For Drama, this "normal" organ could end up being the downfall of the character, such as having systematic heart failure from having a "normal" heart but a giant body.

As this trope greatly exagerrates real body parts, it is a natural subtrope of You Fail Biology Forever.

Compare Compensating For Something, which covers instances of one particular organ being smaller than average.


Examples:

Anime And Manga
  • Dragon Half: Has a character undamaged by a sword through the head because his brain is "compact".

Comic Books
  • Planetary: In one issue, a giant man is seen in one panel, dying from his sudden artificial growth. His autopsy revealed "a normal-sized brain hanging in a web of nerve tissues like cables in a skull several feet across."

Film

Live Action TV
  • Just Say Julie: In one episode, a supermodel's brain exploded out of her head (not fatally) when she tried to think too hard. It was the size of a wadded up piece of chewing gum.

Newspaper Comics
  • Dilbert tends to use this. See this book cover.

Western Animation
  • How The Grinch Stole Christmas: The titular Grinch is portrayed as having a heart that is far too small to feel love properly.
    The Grinch hated Christmas -- the whole Christmas season.
    Oh, please don't ask why, no one quite knows the reason.
    It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
    Or maybe his head wasn't screwed on just right.
    But I think that the best reason of all
    May have been that his heart was two sizes too small."
  • Ren And Stimpy: Stimpy's bean-sized brain accidentally falls off when he leans down. Ren's cousin Sven marvels at how big it is, and then shows Stimpy his own, pinhead-sized brain.
  • Pinky And The Brain: In the Title Sequence of the two titular characters walk behind an X-ray machine. Brain's skull has meshing gears, while Pinky's has a peanut.
  • The Simpsons: Mr. Burns' heart has been shown as a shriveled black lump that beats every now and again.
    • Additionally, after crawling out from beneath a landslide Mr. Burns tilted his head and banged his ear to try and clear out the gravel from his other ear. The gravel came flying out that ear, along with his walnut-sized brain.
  • South Park: The boys go to Afganistan and Cartman ends up in a tussle with Osama Bin Laden, during which Cartman pulls Bin Laden's pants down to show...nothing. Cartman pulls out several magnifying glasses until he finally gets enough magnification to show Bin Laden's very tiny penis, which is implied as the reason why he blew up the World Trade Center.

Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • September 3, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    • On Ren And Stimpy, Stimpy's bean-sized brain accidentally falls off when he leans down. Ren's cousin Sven marvels at how big it is, and then shows Stimpy his own, pinhead-sized brain.
    • In the Title Sequence of Pinky And The Brain, the two walk behind an X-ray machine. Brain's skull has meshing gears, while Pinky's has a peanut.
    • Also from The Simpsons, Mr. Burns' heart has been shown as a shriveled black lump that beats every now and again.
  • September 3, 2010
    arromdee
    Dragon Half has a character undamaged by a sword through the head because his brain is "compact".
  • September 3, 2010
    RossN
    Live Action Television example: In an episode of Just Say Julie a supermodel's brain exploded out of her head (not fatally) when she tried to think too hard. It was the size of a wadded up piece of chewing gum.
  • September 3, 2010
    RossN
    The Simpsons had another example with Mr.Burns: after crawling out from beneath a landslide he tilted his head and banged his ear to try and clear out the gravel from his other ear. The gravel came flying out that ear, along with his (walnut sized) brain.
  • September 4, 2010
    randomsurfer
    South Park: The boys go to Afganistan and Cartman ends up in a tussle with Osama Bin Laden, done in the manner of Looney Tunes. At one point Cartman pulls bin Laden's pants down to show...nothing. Cartman pulls out a magnifying glass, then another, then another, then another, then another, then another, then another, then another (you get the idea). He finally gets enough magnification to show bin Laden's very tiny penis, which (it is implied) is why he blew up the World Trade Center.
  • September 4, 2010
    Lavalyte
    "The Grinch hated Christmas -- the whole Christmas season. Oh, please don't ask why, no one quite knows the reason. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. Or maybe his head wasn't screwed on just right. But I think that the best reason of all May have been that his heart was two sizes too small."

    How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Suess.

  • September 4, 2010
    MatthewTheRaven
    A creepy and non-comedic example - in an issue of Planetary, a giant man is seen in one panel, dying from his sudden artificial growth. His autopsy "revealed a normal-sized brain hanging in a web of nerve tissues like cables in a skull several feet across."
  • September 4, 2010
    Fanra
    Are we including aversions to Biggus Dickus? In other words, do we want to include small penis jokes or is that a separate trope? Compensating For Something covers when they are Compensating For Something, but if they aren't that is another trope.

    If so:

  • September 5, 2010
    BelieveItOrNot
    I meant this to cover anytime an organ is smaller than would be physically possible under normal circumstances (I know the description isn't fully written yet, but this is what it will say). So if the penis is ludicrously small, then it would apply. If it's just smaller than average, it wouldn't.
  • September 5, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Dilbert tends to use this. See this book cover.
  • September 5, 2010
    Fanra
    So if the penis is ludicrously small, then it would apply. If it's just smaller than average, it wouldn't.

    Ok, then the Robot Chicken example would not be this trope. It's assumed it's just small, not abnormal.
  • September 5, 2010
    BelieveItOrNot
    Yeah probably not, the key to the trope is that the organ is ridiculously small to make a point (i.e. small heart = cannot love, small brain = stupid)
  • September 5, 2010
    TBTabby
    The Amazing Colossal Man had a heart that didn't grow as fast as the rest of him, which led to him having constant chest pains. A scientist claimed this was because the human heart was one giant cell.
  • September 6, 2010
    Warlock
    Actually, the small-penis joke was also used on South Park shortly after 9/11, to explain why bin Laden was so mad. (.. it was microscopic.)

    (which probably played off of the Chinpoko-mon joke of the 'big American penis'..)
  • September 6, 2010
    randomsurfer
    ^That's the one I described (and Believe It Or Not edited & used in the OP).
  • September 6, 2010
    BelieveItOrNot
    Yep, indeed I did.
  • September 8, 2010
    SeanMurrayI
    I don't think the image actually comes from an episode of The Simpsons. I always thought that image was a Fan Work, if anything; on the show itself, Homer's brain is x-rayed and shown often enough to convey that it's always a normal size. It's the crayon that he shoved up his nose as a kid that accounts for most of Homer's stupidity--not the size of his brain.
  • September 8, 2010
    BelieveItOrNot
    Regardless of being Fan Work, I would like to keep the image, since it makes the point quite clearly. I will remove the description stating that his intelligence derives from his brain size.
  • September 8, 2010
    SeanMurrayI
    By all means, keep the image. It's a great picture. I'm only pointing out how the picture is referenced as a trope example under Western Animation when the picture isn't from an episode of The Simpsons.
  • September 8, 2010
    BelieveItOrNot
    Gotcha, corrected, thanks!
  • September 8, 2010
    RossN
    While that pic is fan work that has been around for years the show homaged it in one episode. In "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind" Lisa pulled out a diagram of Homer's brain. It's diagram rather than an x-ray but the similarity is pretty clear.

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