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[[quoteright:300:[[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dwarf_shadow_0.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:300:"Yes, I know you were ExpectingSomeoneTaller."]]

We see a large, terrifying shadow on the wall. It turns out to be cast by something tiny and harmless. Less often, the tiny creature is ''[[KillerRabbit only seemingly harmless]]'' after all.

Sometimes a diminutive hero will {{invoke|dTrope}} this trope to try to impress or intimidate someone. Whether or not it succeeds depends largely on the intelligence of the person being intimidated -- and on the RuleOfFunny.

Subtrope of BigLittleMan, shadowy brother trope of DepthDeception, and the inverted relative to ShadowDiscretionShot. See also ScaryShadowFakeout. This trope is predominantly PlayedForLaughs.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In ''Anime/EdenOfTheEast'', when Akira and Saki first enter Akira's shopping mall, they see this sort of shadow, cast by a small, friendly puppy.
* Done in ''Anime/MakaiSenkiDisgaea'' with Laharl.
* Done in ''Manga/OnePiece''; the Straw Hats before reaching Jaya see what look like the silhouettes of giants in the sky. Later on, after Eneru is defeated, the audience learns that the 'giants' are actually the shadows of people living in Sky Island.

[[folder:Film - Animated]]
* ''[[WesternAnimation/TheLandBeforeTime Land Before Time II]]'' movie does this with a recently hatched T-Rex. The first movie had a more poignant example: Littlefoot sees a large shadow and mistakes it for his mother. Only when he approaches it does he realizes it's his own shadow. Used again in ''The Land Before Time V'' where Littlefoot and his friends get stranded on an island and cower from the shadow of an approaching Sharptooth, which turns out to be a slightly older Chomper, the T-Rex from ''II''.
* Mushu, the [[NonHumanSidekick dragon sidekick]] in Disney's ''{{Disney/Mulan}}'' does this: he casts a nice dragon-shaped shadow, until she realizes he's only a foot high. This scene is repeated in the game, ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'', which Sora and the gang initially mistake for a heartless attacking Mulan.
* ''Disney/{{Dumbo}}'': As Timothy Mouse approaches the ringleader's bed to whisper in his ear, he casts a huge shadow that is a direct homage to ''Film/{{Nosferatu}}''.
* Mama Odie's introduction in ''Disney/ThePrincessAndTheFrog''. The DVDCommentary references ''WesternAnimation/WhatsOperaDoc'' as an inspiration.
* In ''Disney/TheEmperorsNewGroove'', when Yzma drinks one of the last potions, she briefly casts a huge shadow, and is then revealed to have transformed into [[spoiler:a cute kitten]].
* The Galloping Goose (an old truck designed to run on rails) briefly seen at the beginning of ''WesternAnimation/{{Cars 2}}'', mimicking a freight train barreling through a tunnel to scare Lightning [=McQueen=] out of his old route.
* The introduction of movie mogul L.B. Mammoth in ''WesternAnimation/CatsDontDance''.
* ''WesternAnimation/AnAmericanTail'': As Fievel the mouse is wandering the streets of New York looking for his family during a SadTimesMontage, he casts a huge shadow on the wall behind him. More of a visual effect than played for humor.
* At the start of ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda'', Po is called downstairs by his father, who first appears as a large panda-like shadow, that turns out to be a goose holding a cooking pot piled with food.
* ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda2''. Not really a little creature, but done for the same effect when Lord Shen first meets Po, the legendary panda warrior prophesied to defeat him. Shen is practicing the speech he'll give to Po, who has just been captured. Then a huge shadow appears on the staircase, accompanied by growls and panting. Shen nervously reaches for one of his knives and...it turns out to be one of his gorilla {{mooks}} carrying Po, exhausted from the endless stairs leading up to Shen's throne room.
* Done in ''{{WesternAnimation/Brave}}'' to lure the warriors to the roof of a tower so Merida and her mother can escape.
* Done close to the beginning of ''WesternAnimation/FlushedAway'' when one of the [[BigBad Toad]]'s rat goons tries to intimidate Rita and Millicent Bystander (Roddy). He then falls on his face, completely ruining the effect.
* The imp does this to Sunny ''WesternAnimation/StrangeMagic''.
* Near the end of ''WesternAnimation/{{Coco}}'', [[spoiler: Pepita casts a shadow resembling his Alebrije form in the living world, but then enters in the form a normal-sized cat.]]

[[folder:Film - Live-Action]]
* The movie adaptation of ''[[Film/TheLordOfTheRings The Lord Of The Rings: The Return of the King]]'' portrays the scene where Sam scares away the orcs of Cirith Ungol as this, unlike the book where it was the Ring's evil aura that frightened them. This was likely done because the latter is an abstract concept that's a lot harder to convey in a visual medium.
* When Mini-Me first appears in ''Film/AustinPowersTheSpyWhoShaggedMe'', we first see his full size shadow behind a screen door, before the door opens and we get to see what his real size is.
* In ''Film/TheThirdMan'', police on a night stakeout see a threatening shadow cast two stories high. It turns out to be a balloon peddler.
* ''Film/TheBurbs'' uses this; a menacing-looking shadow (accompanied by heavy footsteps) ends up belonging to Henry Gibson.
* ''Film/{{Zathura}}'', when the Robot first appears.
* In the film version of ''InspectorGadget'', the villain makes a giant shadow puppet with his hands on the city's skyscraper, tricking people into thinking that a [[AttackOfTheFiftyFootWhatever giant monster]] is attacking.
* Used in ''Film/Tremors2Aftershocks'' to introduce the second stage of Graboid metamorphosis: the Shrieker.
* Joe's entrance into the Giant Scary Stadium in ''Film/{{Idiocracy}}'' makes it looks like he's driving a Monster Truck, just like his opponents ... until the Reveal, when we see his vehicle is more on the scale of a Smart Car.
* In ''Film/SpyHard'', the mook who captures the woman spy at the beginning is initially shown as a shadow on the wall. He then walks on-camera, and turns out to be a midget with a machine gun.
* A promotional image for ''Film/ThePhantomMenace'' showed the shadow of Darth Vader belonging to a young Anakin Skywalker (albeit a completely visible one), foreshadowing his eventual turn to the dark side.
* The Spartans in ''Film/ThreeHundred'' inspect a village that has been destroyed by the Persians. They turn to see a huge shadow against the smoke and sunset. It turns out to be a local boy, traumatized and mortally wounded.
* in ''Film/PeeweesBigAdventure'', we see an enormous shadow stretch across a wall at night, only to discover that it's our pint-sized hero Pee-wee storming down the street in a very bad mood.

* How the Mouse convinces the Gruffalo's Child that the Big Bad Mouse is real in Julia Donaldson's ''The Gruffalo's Child''.
* The dwarf Tyrion Lannister's EstablishingCharacterMoment in ''Literature/AGameOfThrones'' has him PetTheDog and then get in a position where the shadow he casts is as large as that of a giant. It's meant to establish that despite his hideous appearance and reputation, he's a good man at heart.
** The exact words are "as tall as a king". This has led to the inevitable EpilepticTrees among fans.
* In Literature/WarriorCats after lying about killing a dog, Scourge is sent by some other cats to get rid of a dog in an alley. He manages to frighten it away through the use of this trope.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* A ''Series/BarneyAndFriends'' video where Barney and several children tour a farm had a scene where BJ tell everyone that's he's been chased by a large bull who's "black as night", has "eyes red as fire", and "roars like a lion." Cue a black lamb running out of the barn BJ's in and as a result everyone starts singing "Baa Baa Black Sheep."
* In the ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'' episode "Plato's Stepchildren", our heroes beam down to the planet and are greeted by a booming voice and an enormous looming shadow, which turns out to be cast by Alexander, the four-foot-high court jester. The actor playing Alexander was 3 feet, 11 inches tall.
* In ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'', [[spoiler: before we find out that]] Dean [[spoiler: has been infected with a condition causing overactive panic attacks that might eventually kill him, the HowWeGotHere ColdOpen starts as he]] runs from [[ContinuityNod a ferocious canine]] with a large shadow, warning that it's a killer. It turns out it's a puppy.
* In ''Series/{{Lassie}}'', Jeff and Lassie notice the shadow of someone walking through the barn. He alerts his parents, noting that it looks like there's a big guy in there. They go in to investigate, only to find a young orphan named Timmy.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* An early ''Magazine/{{Dragon}}'' article detailed a fan-designed shadowy monster called an "umbra", which could only be slain with the shadows of weapons rather than the weapons themselves. Shortly after it was published, the magazine's letters column included a reader's inquiry about what to do about a sneaky player who'd invoked this trope against it, having his PC hold a sword very close to his party's torch and create a gigantic sword-shadow.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''[[Franchise/AceAttorney Ace Attorney Investigations]]'', the culprit engineers a fake giant shadow of [[PhantomThief Yatagarasu]] emblem on a wall by inventively applying light to local statues.
* At one point in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2'', Snake sees the shadow of a boss who unambiguously ''died'' in VideoGame/MetalGearSolid; it turns out it was cast by a flashlight a few inches behind an action figure.
* Occurs in the opening scenes of ''VisualNovel/{{Snatcher}}'', when the main character's RobotBuddy (also named Metal Gear) enters the room. Both its silhouette on the wall and the background music echo the FinalBoss fight of the original ''VideoGame/MetalGear'' ({{UsefulNotes/MSX}}).
* This turns up in ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaOrderOfEcclesia'' with a slight twist. The little creature is one of the bosses, and the big shadow is what he uses to attack you - and deals more damage than almost any other boss, unless you [[GuideDangIt complete a specific quest to unlock the accessory that reduces Darkness damage]].
* One of the secrets in ''VideoGame/SeriousSam - The Second Encounter'' has a demon shadow on the spiral staircase room in The Pit. The caster of the shadow is a very tiny variation of one of the enemies.
* Done at one point in the Old Clockworks of ''VideoGame/LuigisMansionDarkMoon''. One of the game's normal spiders is sitting right next to a light source, casting a giant shadow on the wall. Luigi is predictably a little freaked out by this until the camera catches up and shows the spider. Made more impressive when you notice that every light source in the game can do this if it's aimed right, even with Luigi himself.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'', in the Tomb of the Unknown King, after the party runs into Sacred (one half of what will become the Brothers [[SummonMagic Guardian Force]]) the second time, he tells the heroes that he's going to call on his older brother to aid him. The screen briefly gets obscured by a huge silhouette, until it shrinks to reveal Minotaur

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Tepoz's introduction in ''Webcomic/WapsiSquare'' was [[http://wapsisquare.com/comic/01162002/ like this.]]
* In ''ComicBook/{{Bone}}'', a little monkey casts a huge shadow [[http://www.boneville.com/comic/tuki-season-three-page-eleven/ on a cave wall]].

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The Warner Bros. ''[[WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes Merrie Melodies]]'' cartoons
** "Scaredy Cat". In the scene where ''a group of killer mice have Porky bound, gagged, and on his way to be decapitated'', large shadows of the mice (with one carrying an executioner's axe) appear on the wall.
** Early in "Claws For Alarm", Sylvester is terrified by a gigantic shadow belonging to a tiny spider.
** The opening of ''WesternAnimation/WhatsOperaDoc'', where the muscular shadow commanding the elements belongs to Elmer Fudd in an ill-fitting armor.
** In "Bye, Bye Bluebeard", a mouse tries to convince Porky he's a hatchet-wielding serial killer. At one point his shadow looms, large and menacing, on a wall.
** In "Porky's Movie Mystery" we see a shadow of presumably a giant muscular police officer interrogating and threatening Frankenstein's Monster, it turns out to be a very small police officer.
** At the beginning of "We The Animals Squeak" it shows a younger Kansas City Kitty's shadow and she appears to be a large and menacing cat that frightens away a gang of rats, then it turns out she was a very small kitten.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' with Nibbler in the episode ''I Second That Emotion''. [[spoiler:Immediately subverted: scary-shadowed Nibbler is followed by an actual giant monster.]]
* Subverted in one ''JimmyNeutron'' episode where they're camping - we see the shadow, and it turns out to be a squirrel. Then we see the bear who's really casting the shadow.
* ''WesternAnimation/ScoobyDoo'' sometimes plays this straight, but an interesting variation was in the classic episode "Mine Your Own Business," when as a plot to scare the old Miner '49er into a trap, the Miner runs when he sees and hears what appears to be a train approaching, but is revealed to actually be Shaggy making train noises while Scooby ran down the tracks with a flashlight and speaker Shaggy's train imitations were coming out of.
* Mr. Big, a villain on ''WesternAnimation/RockyAndBullwinkle'', appeared as an enormous shadow on the wall for several episodes before finally being revealed to be smaller than Rocky.
** For all Big's tiny size, the villains, including Fearless Leader, are still scared of him.
** The ''WesternAnimation/{{Beetlejuice}}'' cartoon also had a gangster named Mr. Big who initially appeared as an ominous looming shadow before turning out to be a midget.
* One of the ShadowDiscretionShot examples was the first appearance of Momo in ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender''. Huge shadow. Little bat-eared flying lemur.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheAngryBeavers'' - the beavers and their sentient, yet visibly nonmoving, tree stump get trapped in a cave and try to find a way out. Along the way they encounter the shadow of what appears to be a giant shadow of a frilled dinosaur. Cowering in fear, they are relieved that its just a small lizard - with a frill taped to its back. The lizard then proceeds to attack and bite the ButtMonkey Dagett, whose grip never lets go even after the end of the episode.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheWildThornberrys'' - Done deliberately by Eliza Thornberry, who uses her shadow puppet skills to cast a lion shadow to frighten away the wild hyenas mauling the friendly, domesticated hyena she released earlier.
* Both played straight and terrifyingly subverted in the 1990s version of ''WesternAnimation/XMen'' when the [[KillerRobot Ultimate Sentinel]] Nimrod - ''[[{{Determinator}} a robot that would give a Terminator nightmares]]'' - shows up. We see the massive shadow on the wall as [[FutureBadAss Bishop]] yells '' [[OhCrap "Oh, no! It's Nimrod!"]] '' -- when a [[RealMenWearPink man-sized, pink robot]] appears, and [[HopeSpot everyone breathes a slight sigh of relief...]] which disappears completely as Nimrod [[CurbStompBattle then promptly proceeds to beat everyone present like a red-haired stepchild.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Catscratch}}'': Waffles runs away from home and tries to live life on the streets as a dog. Seeking shelter he sees an ominous shadow against some flames: "Who dares enter the sanctity of my domain? Name yourself!" Waffle: "W-W-Waffle. Wh-who are you?" Dark Shadow: "History has given me many names. You may call me...(Shrimpy dog arrives) Barkmeat."
* In ''Literature/PippiLongstocking'', two crooks see Mr. Nilsson's oversized shadow at Pippi's window, and mistake it for that of a large, formidable man. Mr. Nilsson is, of course, a small monkey. Unlike most examples above, the audience is in on the joke.
* Jerry's magician uncle at the very beginning of [[WesternAnimation/TomAndJerry "The Haunted Mouse."]]
* The first appearance of [[OverlordJr Lloyd Garmadon]] in ''WesternAnimation/{{Ninjago}}'' uses this trope, causing the Ninja to initially believe that his evil father, Lord Garmadon, had come to terrorise Jamanakai Village.
* Used in ''WesternAnimation/{{Wakfu}}'' with a [[EverythingsBetterWithMonkeys monkey]] [[GodGuise worshipped]] by a WackyWaysideTribe.
* ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'' uses this in "The Hand that Rocks the Mabel", when the mysterious psychic Gideon is seen as a huge shadow standing behind a curtain, but turns out to be a little kid no taller than Dipper (and that's only counting his hair).
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSmurfs'' episode "The Smurf Who Would Be King", the Norf Nags are Smurf-sized creatures that cast giant shadows to make themselves big and fearsome in order to scare the Pookies into delivering them more jewels from the mines.
* The opening of the AnimatedAdaptation of ''ComicBook/{{Iznogoud}}'' shows a large, menacing shadowy figure climbing the steps of the sultan's (yes, he's a caliph in the comics, but a sultan in the cartoon) palace while a voice says 'Good... Good... Good'. Then when it reaches the top, it is finally shown that the figure is actually the short but menacing titular Grand Vizier, and the voice finishes by saying 'Iz No Goud'.