Among fantastic sapient species
, the small, cute races (often Hobbits
or Ridiculously Cute Critters
) are often given personality traits commonly associated with children - such as innocence, playfulness, curiosity, or naivete - to complement their adorable appearances. These creatures are usually sympathetic, but a rare evil
example of the trope may be a Psychopathic Manchild
These little guys are often capable of inspiring protective affection in members of the bigger races, and possibly, in the audience - although they may not need it
. However, if done badly, this trope can get into Tastes Like Diabetes
Despite being an iconic short fantasy race, dwarves are more likely to be treated with an inversion of this trope and depicted as if they're all born Grumpy Old Men
This is related to the real-life concept of neoteny
. Among many domesticated animals, the adults retain more cute physical traits and more youthful behaviors (such as playfulness and sociability) than adults of their wild counterparts. See also The Cutie
Anime and Manga
Film - Live Action
- Potemayo and Guchuko from Potemayo are small, round, big-headed and completely adorable. Potemayo may have reached physical maturity for her species (given the Bizarre Alien Biology at work, it's hard to tell), but in many respects she acts like a small child. (Guchuko is more self-sufficient, but her behavior is in some ways more reminiscent of a sapient feral cat's than a human adult's.)
- Dragon Ball Z: Psychopathic Manchild and final Big Bad of the series Majin Buu, especially in his "fat-Buu" form, speaks in a simple childish way e.g: "Buu gonna hurt you, make you sorry," is bright pink and loves candy so much that he can shoot a laser out of his headtentacle-thing that turns people into sweets so he can eat them.
- Played with and then averted in Galaxy Quest, with the rock miners. At first, they expect the cute looking aliens to be nice and friendly, particularly as they appear to tend to one of their wounded. But then they start cannibalizing the helpless alien and begin attacking the crew.
- Cute little Gizmo from Gremlins.
- Hobbits in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are downplayed examples. Tolkien doesn't portray them as particularly cute, but they are small people notable for their innocence and simplicity.
- Kender in Dragonlance are small, halfling-like people known for curiosity, playfulness, and lack of self-preservation.
- Poul Anderson's Hoka series. The Hoka are a race of teddy bear-like aliens who love playing pretend. To the extent that their hat is reenacting various human fictional and historical scenarios. (Although, considering the popularity of historical reenactment and LARPing among adult humans, one could argue that this makes them less childish than nerdy.)
- In The Railway Series and its Animated Adaptation Thomas the Tank Engine, the smaller tank engines are usually portrayed with more childlike, playful personalities while the tender engines have more matured (if still occasionally boisterous) personalities.
- Pathfinder goblins are a rare evil example. They are big-headed, child-sized, Ugly Cute little Psychopathic Manchildren who enjoy games, songs (mostly about eating or murdering people), and running around setting things on fire. The human-sized goblinoid races, by contrast, are unpleasant in much less amusing ways.
- Mort, the Mouse Lemur from Madagascar. Despite his childish personality, Word of God says he is actually an adult.
- Invoked and subverted in Futurama. Nibbler and the rest of his kind use this to their advantage, but are more intelligent and advanced than humans (at least the ones Nibbler hangs with).