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A Visual Pun
where an extremely short character is introduced in a manner that makes them appear much taller than they actually are. Also the inverse, where someone (or something
) of great size or height is made to appear normal-sized at first, or perhaps introduced in a shorter or chibi-like form.
A subtrope is Big Shadow, Little Creature
, where this is done via a large shadow cast on the wall. Depth Deception
is the Super Trope
— all examples that don't involve people should go there. May involve the use of Hitler Cam
. See also Mister Big
Anime and Manga
- In the first episode of Urusei Yatsura, after being knocked down by a ball Ataru appears to have an enormous monk towering over him; it's only when he gets to his feet again that we realise the monk is half his size.
- At the way end of the Kirby of the Stars anime, It turns out that Nightmare Enterprises' salesman, seen only chest-upward on a screen up to that point, has little more than feet beyond that.
- There was a yonkoma omake of Fullmetal Alchemist invoking this, in which Edward claims he's about 160 cm in height. The next panel immediately zooms out to show that he has an "antenna" in his hair and is wearing elevator shoes.
- The first episode of Slayers doesn't give any way of determining Lina's height until she meets up with Gourrey.
Film - Animation
- Thrud The Barbarian: A couple of thugs enter the bar and push Thrud away, thinking him to be their size. Turned out he was sitting.
- In one Lucky Luke comic, a Mexican thinks he's spotted two little Indian kids spying on him from a boulder (only their heads are visible). When they come out, it turns out they were standing behind it, and are easily seven feet tall.
Film - Live Action
- Mushu from Mulan put a lot of effort into his big entrance.
- Monsters vs. Aliens. Susan Murphy is captured by the government after growing to a height of 49 feet 11 and 1/2 inches and wakes up in a large, empty room with furniture the same scale as her. At first she (and the audience) is unsure whether she is normal size or not, until she steps on a normal sized chair and crushes it.
- The inverse happens a short time later when a vast door opens on a dark space and two menacing red eyes...and General W. R. Monger (tiny compared to the 49'11 1/2" Ginormica) comes out. The two glowing eyes were just the lights of his jetpack.
- And it happened a third time when Dr. Cockroach is trying to shrink Susan back to normal with electricity. When she comes to, she sees the others standing over her and she thinks she's small again. Turns out they were just standing over her face.
- Shrek. Our first glimpse of Lord Farquaad involves him striding dramatically along a corridor, camera focused on his face or body at a strange angle, then when the camera and scenery go still, he's revealed to be maybe half the height of the guards. The gag is repeated when princess Fiona first meets Lord Faarquaad: he arrives on horseback, propped into a sort of prosthetic armour that apparently enables his controlling the horse, and makes him look like he has normal sized arms and legs. Then arrives a guard who helps his lord dismount by picking him up like a teddy bear. Her previously favourable reaction... dies.
- Finis Everglot in Corpse Bride is first shown talking face to face with his wife. Then the camera pans out and it turns out he is standing on a stool and is really half her height.
- One of The Twelve Tasks of Asterix is to fight Cilindric the German. Asterix and Obelix are taken to an arena where there's an enormous pair of doors... which open to reveal a very short judo expert.
- Mini-Me's introduction in the second Austin Powers movie.
- In the Filipino James Bond parody For Your Height Only, the dwarf secret agent tracks down the unseen Mr Big, but discovers the Big Bad is a dwarf himself.
- Men in Black 2. Serleena's spacecraft which flys around blowing up planets turns out to be smaller than a dog. And lets not forget how our entire universe is inside an airport locker.
- In The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, the Baron and friends fall on a pit and see Vulcan, the God of Fire, towering above them. It's only when he pulls them out of the pit that they see that Vulcan is a head shorter than the Baron.
- Bad Boys. A hacker is helping the heroes and gets into an argument with one of them. When he stands up to start shouting, it's revealed that he's much taller than "the short one" who's arguing with him.
- In Kung Fu Hustle, the cowardly hero is facing down a hostile crowd, and looking for an easily beatable opponent to prove his nonexistent skills against. He calls out a runty-looking fellow who, it turns out, WAS SITTING DOWN ...
- "Your Robot is Defective" from Zathura.
- In the Buster Keaton film Three Ages, caveman Buster tries to grab a woman lying on the ground by the hair and drag her away, as cavemen were apt to do back then. The woman stands up and turns out to be a good two feet taller than Buster.
- Black Robe. Father LaForgue is harangued by the shaman Mestigoit, who is filmed close to the camera — it's only when he comes face-to-face with LaForgue (who is sitting down) that we realise how short he is.
- Played with in The Transporter 3. Frank Martin battles his way through a gang of mooks; after a disposing of them another man enters the room, shown via the standard Hitler Cam to make him look big, but in close-up so we don't see how big. Frank says, "Let me guess. You're the smart one." The mook replies, "No. I am the big one." and knocks Frank across the room. Then we see he's not just the standard big mook, but a Giant Mook One Head Taller than Frank!
- In Ichi the Killer, Jiji is a small old man who wears baggy clothes. When a thug threatens him at the end of the film, he strips off his clothes and reveals that he's ludicrously muscled, then breaks every bone in the thug's body.
- Done via a Feet-First Introduction in Elf, plus lots of awed looks from onlookers as legendary writer Miles Finch (played by Peter Dinklage) enters the room. We only see his height when Miles pushes away a chair so he can stand at the conference table that everyone else is sitting at.
- Done with a ship in Pirates of the Caribbean, first showing Captain Jack Sparrow on the crow's nest, and immediately revealing that he is not commanding a galleon but a tiny, leaking sailboat.
- Spaceballs. Our introduction to the villainous Dark Helmet. His height isn't obvious as he strides across the bridge of his Mile-Long Ship, as no-one's close to him and we keep cutting to Reaction Shots of his terrified crew. After a Dramatic Unmask reveals the face of geeky comedian Rick Moranis, he's then shown shouting up at the towering Colonel Sandurz.
- Samwise does this in The Lord of the Rings when storming into Cirith Ungol. He accompanies it with growling, briefly frightening the orcs.
- The Spartans in 300 inspect a village that has been destroyed by the Persians. The turn to see a huge shadow against the smoke and sunset. It turns out to be a local boy, traumatized and mortally wounded.
- In the pilot episode of Get Smart, KAOS is run by the mysterious "Mister Big" (as opposed to Siegfried). It's only when Mr Big and Maxwell Smart are in the same room do we realise that Mr Big is actually a dwarf.
- There's an episode of Quantum Leap where Sam leaps into a guy who works at a carnival. While he's checking out his new reflection in a funhouse mirror, one of the other carnies walks up and starts a conversation. At first we only see his reflection, which looks the same height as Sam, but when Sam turns to reply to him, he's revealed to be a dwarf.
- The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Fear, Itself" had Gachnar the Fear Demon... who is 4 inches tall. Buffy stomps him like a bug.
- A particular variation seen is a woman is chatting up a man, sitting down, and then realizes he's very short when he stands up, thus inducing uncertainty over whether she should continue with him. It happened to Jessie in Saved by the Bell (she angsted about how she can't date a shorter man, because it makes her feel tall and awkward), Samantha on Sex and the City (she agrees to give him a chance, but ends up going back and forth on him, but sticks with him when she realizes he's really funny and great in bed), and Roz on Frasier (he realizes she's pregnant at the same time, and they both turn and walk in opposite directions).
- Likewise an episode of The Golden Girls had Rose meeting a man at a bar and making a date with him, then he gets off the barstool and is revealed to be a dwarf (leading to the date becoming a huge round of Ignore The Disability).
- Star Trek: The Original Series ("The Corbomite Maneuver"). The Enterprise encounters a alien vessel, and is able to get a video feed revealing the bridge, which shows the alien captain, Balok, to be a scowling monster that looks to be about 7 feet tall. However, later they manage to get onboard, revealing they had actually been watching an elaborate puppet show, and the real Balok is no larger than a child.
- The page image is from the episode "Plato's Stepchildren". Alexander is first seen as a massive shadow against a wall. Said shadow shrinks as he approaches Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, revealing he's actually rather short compared to them. The actor playing Alexander was 3 feet, 11 inches tall.
- Done intentionally in-universe in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Bashir and O'Brien are just back from a mission that involved them being miniaturised. They stand at the bar boasting about their exploits, when Quark and Odo both note that a waitress seems oddly tall next to them, sending them scurrying away to check their height in sickbay. The waitress then stands down, off the step she'd been put on by Odo and Quark, revealing the entire thing to be a gag.
- Doctor Who did it as a Cliff Hanger reveal in Planet of Fire, where it turns out the Master has accidentally shrunk himself to a small size, and has been directing the shapeshifter robot that everyone thinks is him from a control box.
Romana: "I thought I'd try this one, but it's a bit short."
(The Doctor stands up, revealing Romana is the size of a child)
Doctor: "Well lengthen it then, go on."
(Exit Romana. The Doctor crawls along the floor for a while and then bumps into a toga-wearing beauty. He stands up...only to find he only goes up to Romana's shoulders)
Doctor: "Too tall, take it away!"
- Game of Thrones. Tyrion Lannister (again played by Peter Dinklage) is introduced in a brothel with a prostitute who is crouched down so she can...well, never mind. It's not until she stands up that we see Tyrion is a dwarf.
- In the first episode of Taxi, Louie (Danny DiVito) spends most of his time in the dispacher's cage. When he exits it the better to yell at someone and we see how short he really is, it's a big joke.
- In a sketch on The Benny Hill Show, Benny and Jackie Wright (a small man, under 5 feet tall) see a pair of wallflowers sitting at a dance. They decide to ask the girls to dance - Benny will ask the tall one and Jackie will ask the short one. The girls accept and stand up, revealing that - due to how the chairs they were sitting on were designed - the "tall one" is short and the "short one" is tall.
- The NCIS episode "Once a Hero", where Abby went to government-oriented science exhibition to look for someone who could lend her usage of a very specific device of... some kind, required to identify a particular evidence, and this trope happens, as the person at the stand is revealed to be much smaller than he looks. Abby doesn't look surprised.
- In one episode of My Hero, the main characters spend a while worrying about the dreaded (*glances around* *whispers*) Grand High Arbiter of Misuse of Power coming from Ultron to punish George for cheating in a lottery. The arbiter eventually arrives preceded by an earthquake and we see a figure in a black robe, seen from below, filling the screen and taking menacingly in a booming voice. Then we see that he's two inches tall and standing on a table. Janet squashes him.
- Sledgehammer. Sledge threatens to beat a confession out of a suspect and pulls him out of his chair, only to find he's One Head Taller than him. Dori wisely tries persuasion instead.
- The The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy gave us the G'Gugvuntt and Vl'hurg, who spent thousands of years sending their fleet across space to attack Earth, only to be swallowed by a small dog.
- The Wizard of Oz has Oz, the Great and Powerful.. and vertically-challenged.
- In Callahans Crosstime Saloon one character is nicknamed Long-Drink, for being a long drink of water. "When he sits he looks like he's standing, and when he stands he looks like three other guys."
- Futurama. When Bender wonders what it would be like to be 500 feet high, we're shown a towering Bender...who then turns out to be a normal-sized robot constructing the giant Bender.
- Looney Tunes:
- In one short, Beaky Buzzard finds a small reptile peeking through some rocks. Noting that the creature seems shorter than him, Beaky tries to grab it and take it home for dinner. Turns out "Shorty" is just the small head of a huge dragon.
- The "Inki and the Mynah Bird" shorts often introduce the Mynah Bird with ominous shaking, mountains cracking, animals heading for cover... and after all the commotion, out comes a 5-inch bird hopping at a leisurely pace.
- This is Elmer's intro in "What's Opera, Doc?".
- In one episode of The Simpsons, Moe has a date set up with a dwarf girlfriend, but he thinks she's bigger since her online photo was of her looking tall in front of the Empire State Building (actually the one in Lego Land).
- Inverted in the episode when a hobo was telling Simpson versions of American folk tales. Homer as Paul Bunyan first sees Marge at a distance and she sees him, assuming he's normal size. Cue them running towards each other but when she realizes he's a giant, she runs away.
- The reveal at the end of the Sponge Bob Square Pants episode "Blackjack".
- On the Goofy short "Double Dribble", a basketball coach is berating one of his players. At first the coach appears to be One Head Taller, but as the camera pulls back it turns out he's just standing on a stool, and is in fact half the player's height.
- Done in a treehouse of horror special in The Simpsons. While Bart and Lisa are Trapped in TV Land, they are the size of Itchy, and Scratchy towers over them. Then Itchy and Scratchy break the TV's screen and get out in a sequence that makes them look even bigger thanks to Hitler Cam, but they are soon revealed to be now the size of a common mouse and house cat, thus making them harmless in the "non-animated" world.
- Gravity Falls, "Carpet Diem": "Is that mountain lion tiny or just really far away in perspective? Ah! Perspective! Perspective!"