[[quoteright:250:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/342neandertal.jpg]]

Whenever a [[OneMillionBC cave man]] is depicted in media, he will often be TheBigGuy, having more muscles and stature than his descendants. This is especially true if he's a regular character who has somehow been [[DevolutionDevice de-evolved]], but usually it's a defrosted HumanPopsicle scenario.

Cave women, in the rare cases where they appear, are usually matronly and physically stronger than their modern counterparts, sometimes up to a BrawnHilda-type, unless they're just here for {{Fanservice}} in which case they're {{Nubile Savage}}s.

This is usually a case of poor research; the author is basing the caveman, rather than on Cro-Magnon humans, on the Neanderthals who were stockier and likely stronger, but ''still'' shorter than Cro-Magnon man. It's almost as if in fiction humanity evolved from the FrazettaMan.

This may even extend to showing these [[BeastMan super-ape-men]] as having SuperStrength, being incredibly athletic and acrobatic, and generally being savage fighters; [[JustifiedTrope which isn't quite so preposterous for a number of reasons]].

Just for the record, compared to modern man (''Homo sapiens sapiens'') the Neanderthal man was either a separate species (''Homo neanderthalensis'') or a subspecies (''Homo sapiens neanderthalensis''), probably depending on who you ask. They evolved in Eurasia while we evolved in Africa. They were not our ancestors, except perhaps in a small way - there is the hypothesis, now backed by evidence from the Neanderthal Genome Project, that small-scale interbreeding occurred between Neanderthals and ''H. sapiens'' in the Middle East 80,000 to 50,000 years ago. Most Caucasians and Asians seem to have a bit of Neanderthal DNA, while people of entirely African descent have none because there were never Neanderthals in Africa.

There is a practical aspect to this trope. This is often simply a result of the fact the easiest way to depict a caveman on LiveActionTV is to add brow ridges, fake hair, animal skin clothing, etc., to an actor, so the resulting RubberForeheadAlien will be slightly larger than a human, and rather large actors are often cast in the part.

This is usually a double case of artistic liberties most often, Neanderthal cavemen are depicted as nothing but simple, dumb brutes capable of barely a grunt. The various sciences researching them indicate that this is untrue, too in fact, they had ''larger'' brains than humans.[[note]] Although that extra brainpower was directed to different places than in a modern human; Neanderthals had a much larger Occipital Lobe, which processes visual information. This came at the expense of the Frontal Lobe (which in modern humans is disproportionately large), which governs higher functions. Neanderthals also lacked the ability to form complex societies (their groups were far smaller on average than a human tribe). It is also thought that Neanderthals had a longer gestation period and faster maturation rate, both of which hinder mental growth.[[/note]]

Contrast: NubileSavage, where prehistoric men will be hulking, ugly brutes, but prehistoric women are pinup models with bodies that exactly correspond to the current standards of beauty. For more bestial humanoids, check out FrazettaMan. Even earlier than these guys are OriginalMan.
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!!Examples:

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[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* Atlas/Seaboard Comics' ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Brute3.jpg The Brute]].''
* Larry Gonick mentions this in his ''ComicBook/CartoonHistoryOfTheUniverse'', observing that the term "caveman" is not wholly accurate, as many Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon communities lived in tents and other man-made shelters. The term "caveman" came from the fact that caves tend to preserve fossils better, so more fossils of primitive tribes are located in caves.
-->'''Prehistoric female''': We don't all live in caves, and we're not all men!
-->'''Prehistoric male''': Thank Yog!
* Java, the right-hand caveman of Simon Stagg, enemy of Creator/DCComics's ComicBook/{{Metamorpho}}, is a defrosted neanderthal.
* DC Comics once published the adventures of Anthro, "The First Boy on Earth", a Cro-Magnon boy raised by a Neanderthal tribe.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Commercials ]]

* The {{GEICO}} [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GEICO_Cavemen Cavemen]]. Played straight with their looks, but subverted in that the cavemen complain that they're being stereotyped as dumb brutes.
** Sadly being played straighter and straighter as of late, as the one remaining caveman is becoming portrayed more and more as TooDumbToLive, albeit in an UpperClassTwit sort of way.

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[[folder: Film ]]

* Played straight in ''Eegah!'', with the titular caveman played by Richard Kiel.
* Averted in ''Film/EncinoMan''. When 'cleaned up', the caveman is indistinguishable from 'normal' humans except for his decidedly odd behavior.
* Averted in ''TheManFromEarth'': characters explicitly say that a 14000 years old caveman would be exactly like anyone, only one initially believed that cavemen were different.
* The title family of ''TheCroods'' fits - but not Guy, who is both smarter and looks like a contemporary man.
** He's also a weakling, compared to the Croods. Even his LoveInterest Eep is able to easily lift him with one hand.

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[[folder: Literature ]]

* Justified with Joe the Gigantopithecus man and friend of Creator/MarkTwain in Creator/PhilipJoseFarmer's ''Literature/{{Riverworld}}''. Gigantopithecus was actually an ape (how it compares in terms of intelligence to modern apes is uncertain) that grew up to 10 feet tall.
* The ''Literature/ThursdayNext'' series features cloned Neanderthals, brought back to life as cheap labor for the all-powerful Goliath Corporation. Contrary to expectations, the Neanderthals are in fact a quite intelligent and peaceful bunch, albeit very different from humans in that they have no singular personal pronoun (always referring to themselves as "we" instead of "I") and their communities exist in a state of peaceful anarchy. Their pet political cause is to be cloned with the ability to reproduce, since Goliath made them all sterile as a way of undermining their freedom.
* Completely subverted in Robert J Sawyers Neanderthal Parallax trilogy in which Barasts (Neanderthal's) are obviously a different species from humanity's ancestors and are rather a cousin species that continued to develop in an alternate reality.
* In DavidZindell's ''Neverness'' and ''Requiem for Homo Sapiens'', the ancestors of the cave-dwelling Alaloi genetically reverse engineered themselves into Neanderthals.
* Subverted in ''Literature/EarthsChildren'', where the Neandertals (the Clan) are shown to be intelligent and, in some aspects, have better things than the Cro-Magnon people (the Others). However, to the Others, Neandertals are believed to be little more than animals.
* Averted in Creator/EdgarRiceBurroughs' ''The Eternal Lover'' (aka ''The Eternal Savage''); Nu and his people live in caves, but they appear to be modern humans.
* Mostly played straight in Creator/SMStirling's ''TheLordsOfCreation'' series. The Neanderthals on Venus are thuggish, violent, and have almost no regard for their own lives (although they do have recognizable family units and will protect their children and other vulnerable individuals). Played with in that the Neanderthals have had thousands of years of independent evolution on terraformed Venus, and [[spoiler: may have been genetically or otherwise manipulated along the way by the SufficientlyAdvancedAliens responsible for the setting.]]

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[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* In the original ''Series/{{Star Trek|The Original Series}}'' series episode ''The Galileo Seven'', there were ''giant alien'' cavemen threatening a shuttlecraft.
* Subverted in the ''[[Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration Next Generation]]'' episode "Genesis": a [[DevolutionDevice devolution plague]] affects Riker by turning him into an ''austrilopithecus'', an early human ancestor.
* The cavemen that the college students are turned into in the ''Series/{{Buffy|TheVampireSlayer}}'' episode "Beer Bad" are like this, though in this case it was the result of a punitive magic spell and thus no one was trying for scientific accuracy. In contrast, the First Slayer, as seen in "Restless", was physically like a modern human and could speak.
* On ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' there was the "Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer" who was unfrozen and became a sophisticated modern man. But whenever he needed to win something he'd pull out the "I'm just a simple unfrozen caveman who is confused by your modern world"
* Nimrod, the time-displaced prehistoric human in the ''Series/DoctorWho'' story "Ghost Light", is a Neanderthal.
* In ''Series/{{Sliders}}'', the Kromaggs were a menacing race that evolved from Neanderthals and liked to eat other humans!

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[[folder: Pinball ]]

* ''Pinball/{{Caveman}}'' plays this trope painfully straight, from the large club the caveman wields to the woman dragged ByTheHair.

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[[folder: Newspaper Comics ]]

* Pretty much every depiction of cavemen in Gary Larson's ''ComicStrip/TheFarSide'' follows the Neanderthal model. They're short and bulky, with small heads and big brow ridges.
** To be fair, so are the rest of Larson's characters. With the exception of the brow ridge. Usually.

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[[folder: Tabletop RPG ]]

* TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons 3.5 Frostburn supplement featured Neanderthals as a race of throwbacks dwelling in cold regions. They are on average bigger (including taller), stronger, and more adapted to cold climates but have lower than average mental and social traits. This could be justified as game balance and shoehorning the creatures into the supplement. Odd in that, the orc is usually a fantastic stand in for primitive man.
* "Caveman Cortez", one of the NPC ''luchadors'' in [[HeroSystem Lucha Libre Hero]], has the stereotypical Neanderthal look. Subverted in that he's also a licensed private investigator.

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[[folder: Video Games ]]

* In ''VideoGame/EarthBound,'' the cave boy was basically TheBigGuy... with a wooden club.
* ''VideoGame/NetHack''. The Caveman role starts with high strength, but low intelligence and primitive weapons (rocks and a club). The guardians on the Caveman quest are even called neanderthals.
* In 1992 game ''Ugh!'' the protagonist caveman is short and stocky. Smart enough to build a [[BambooTechnology pedal-driven wooden helicopter]], but strong enough to actually fly it. All to impress his NubileSavage girlfriend. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ugh_Computer_Game_Screenshot1.png Here they are]].

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[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* Candy in ''WesternAnimation/DaveTheBarbarian'' was hit by a de-evolution spell, which turned her into an enormous, dim-witted and easily angered super cavegirl.
** So, no real change then?
* Cave Guy from ''WesternAnimation/{{Freakazoid}}.''
** [[GeniusBruiser Except he subscribes to the New Yorker.]]
* Java the neanderthal from ''WesternAnimation/MartinMystery'' is called him "Java the caveman" as well as a Neanderthal interchangeably.
* The Caveman from the ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'' episode "Boyfriend from 20,000 B.C.", though not as hulking as other examples, still is tall and strong-looking.
* One ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' short has Marvin the Martian hit WesternAnimation/BugsBunny with a devolving ray, which turns Bugs into a big, hulking Neanderthal rabbit.
** This is actually a bizarre case; while this would be an error if Bugs was human, as a rabbit it would make marginally more sense, as prehistoric animals were typically larger in size than their modern day counterparts. ''Nuralagus rex'', also known as the Minorcan Giant Lagomorph, weighed 12kg (26lbs) on average and could weigh up to 23kg (50lbs).
* ''WesternAnimation/TheFlintstones'' averts this big time.
** ''Film/TheFlintstones'', TheFilmOfTheSeries, even has passing references to neanderthals, making sure they are a different species of human. Cro-Magnons over 40 seem to be [[FantasticRacism prejudiced against them]].
* ''WesternAnimation/SpongebobSquarepants'' depicts prehistoric versions of Spongebob and Patrick in an episode with the prehistoric starfish larger than his modern counterpart but the prehistoric sponge is more primitive but not physically much different than Spongebob. In the episode's sequel, prehistoric Squidward isn't much different than his modern counterpart except in language use. Then they discover fire... underwater.
* Notably averted in ''WesternAnimation/{{Cro}}'', where the titular character was, as his name implies, a Cro-Magnon and looked and acted surprisingly similar to a modern kid, very differently from his adopted Neanderthal family. They, however, acted the part to the letter.
* ''WesternAnimation/JohnnyTest'': In "Johnny BC", Johnny brings a bone that previously belonged to a group of monstrous cavemen back to his time period for his sisters. Along the way, the saliva on the bone from the cavemen cross contaminated with Johnny and turned him into a caveman himself. He proceeds to cause trouble by smashing things with a conveniently placed wooden mallet, slobber over his girl rival, beat up the school bullies, and chase after anything fire related.
* The version of VandalSavage used on ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'' is a Neanderthal (other versions of the character have been Cro-magnon). He's a hulking, primordial beast of a man (complete with facial scars courtesy of a long-ago encounter with a cave bear), true to stereotype- but ''unlike'' the stereotype he's also [[GeniusBruiser incredibly]] [[TheChessmaster intelligent]] and eloquent, as befits one of the DC Universe's most dangerous villains.
* Ugg the caveman from the 1980s (1960s?) HannaBarbara series WesternAnimation/DinoBoy played this straight. However, the Lost Valley contains many strange hominids, from the Treemen (which are even ''more'' [[FrazettaMan ape-like]] than Ugg is, complete with tails) to more modern-human like beings, such as the Bird Riders and the Wolf People.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Real Life ]]

* In Real Life, [[AllTrollsAreDifferent trolls]] may have been based on folk memory or skeletons of short, stout Neanderthals. Then again, we seem to be wired to believe in ElvesVersusDwarves, whether it's aliens, foreigners, or what-have-you.
** Interesting in that modern humans would fill the Elves' role, being thin and (compared to Neanderthals) extremely gracile. We also exhibited a higher degree of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoteny neoteny]], so perhaps we would have seemed creepily alluring. The fact that on occasion we killed (and maybe even butchered and ate) Neanderthals pushes us into TheFairFolk territory.
** Whereas Neanderthals were short and stout, and current facial reconstructions depict them with a rather large, somewhat bulbous nose, large heavy brows, and a receding chin. Cover the chin with a long beard, and you have a dwarf (as well as a reason for them to never shave the beard off, if they had the same standards of masculine attractiveness as modern humans).
** Is we're getting into the Cave vs. Dwarves debate, we should mention a hominid ''shockingly'' similar to another one of Tolkien's creations. ''Homo floresiensis'', which lived about 12,000 years ago on Flores Island (modern day Indonesia), were only three feet tall and, despite having small heads, show high levels of intelligence and tool use. Furthermore, they had ''huge'' feet. Their nickname? Hobbits.
*** Again TVTropes is highly unprecise and only discusses the version that news reporters love to spread. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_floresiensis See that other wiki for a much more scientific discussion of homo floresiensis]]. They might not be a separate race (just a genetic defect) and also probably did not have humanlike intelligence.
* Real Life of course has a wide variety of "cavemen," including ''Homo'' species ''habilis'', ''heidelbergensis'', ''erectus'', ''floresiensis'' (the famous "hobbits", these fellows were around 3 1/2 feet tall), and of course ''neanderthalensis'', the Neanderthals. The evidence is that Neanderthals were not dumb brutes but capable of complex tool industries, some small level of symbolism, and possibly complex speech. They also buried their dead and seem to have developed some sort of religion. They also had larger brain cases than we do. They did not, however, seem to have much creativity and stuck with one or two tool industries for their entire span of existence, one of which may (or may not) have been their attempt to mimic ''H. sapiens'' tools.
** Actually, we don't know about the tools. The reason we find stone tools and some wooden ones is that they're longer-lasting materials; these ancient peoples could easily have made a bunch of stuff like nets and baskets out of fiber that we would never find.
** ''Homo heidelbergensis'' actually fits the stereotypical "Neanderthal" role seen in fiction: they were taller and more muscular than modern humans, and are presumed to have been slightly less intelligent. ''heidelbergensis'' averaged 6 feet tall, compared to around 5'5" for the average Cro-Magnon and 5'8" to 5'10" for today's humans (all heights being for men, with women averaging several inches shorter).
* The vast majority of prehistoric hominids, like the vast majority of primates overall, were smaller than anatomically-modern humans. Whether or not they were ''stronger'' than humans is debatable, as it's uncertain when hominid strength began to be sacrificed in exchange for the extended endurance which was our own species' chief physical-fitness asset.

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