"Tank Abbott is the kind of guy you'd expect police to find alone in the center of a wrecked biker bar before they called for immediate backup. He looks like the shitty character from every fighting video game who'd somehow reverse-TRON'ed into our world. His face makes it clear that he hates everything that isn't ZZ Top or alcohol poisoning. He bench presses 600 pounds and wore gloves into the Octagon back when you didn't have to. This implied that he knew things about punching skulls that the rest of us didn't. People put on a diaper before they make eye contact with him."
The David Versus Goliath
plot is where the hero is the underdog in comparison to the villain. One of the easiest ways to have this come across visually to audiences is to literally make the villain physically larger.
Aside from the villainous characters themselves being big, their tools and resources also tend to be bigger. If the hero has Powered Armor
, the villain has a Humongous Mecha
. If the good guys come from The Kingdom
, the bad guys come from The Empire
. If the hero has an average-sized Cool Sword
, the villain has a BFS
. At the climax of a Speculative Fiction
work, the villain may go One-Winged Angel
to increase his size and strength. In High School settings the local Alpha Bitch
tends to be taller than the Cool Loser
heroine (and she usually wears heels, so she tends to look even taller). The list goes on and on.
Furthermore, this trope is hard to invert, because the language of visual media has built connotations of size being directly proportional to strength and power so thoroughly that it is genuinely hard
to make a smaller villain without the audience developing concerns and undeserved sympathy for the antagonist having to face off against a big, strong hero
; it requires lots of time and effort to work through this tendency prior to any such confrontation between hero and villain. One possible solution for the inversion is to make the villain smaller but much more intelligent and cunning than the hero
This is the reason why Large and in Charge
is more common among villains.
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Anime and Manga
- In One Piece, most of the evil guys tend to be veritable behemoths of muscle or fat, or at least very tall and imposing. Our heroes, except for Franky and Brook, are average sized.
- Guts from Berserk is no shrimp himself, but the Apostles and other monsters he faces tend to be gorilla-sized at the very least; plenty are the size of a house once they go One-Winged Angel, and the very biggest are more like mountains.
- Bleach. Almost all Soul Reapers are human size, while most hollows are larger than human size (some of them are a lot larger than human size.
- Many Arrancar hollows have Resurreccion forms that are much larger than their normal human-like forms.
- The climactic battles Goku faces against both Demon King Piccolo and his Reincarnation namesake in Dragon Ball involve the latter supersizing themselves - and Goku wasn't all that big to start with.
- Cell is taller than all of the heroes and physically imposing besides (in all of his forms). Super Buu is even bigger. However, this is averted by both Frieza and Kid Buu being shorter than the heroes, despite being tremendous physical threats.
- The original inversion was Vegeta. Goku is roughly 5'10 and built like a bodybuilder, whereas Vegeta is about half a foot shorter and looks like a runner who decided to start lifting weights.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam The Federation focuses its resources on producing one kind of mobile suit. The Principality of Zeon, in contrast, squanders its resources on the construction of a number of huge mobile armours, including the Brau Bro, the Elmeth, and the colossal Big Zam (itself piloted by seven-foot tall Admiral Dozle Zabi).
- In Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, the Titans are the ones who build the Psyco Gundam and the Psyco Gundam Mark II, both of which stand the height of a small skyscraper. Those mobile suits designed by Paptimus Scirocco, while not as huge, still tend to be larger than average, with his final ride, the PMX-003 The O being a hulking Lightning Bruiser taller than any AEUG mobile suit and two or three times as wide.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny the Destroy Gundam is put into action by Blue Cosmos, the coalition of racist groups behind the Atlantic Federation. A combination of the aforementioned Big Zam and Psyco Gundam, the Destroy is a walking Weapon of Mass Destruction that burns its way across Eurasia before being halted in downtown Berlin.
- In G Gundam, the Devil Gundam is extremely large for a mobile suit, and is the principal antagonist of the series. Interestingly, it is largely immobile, so its lieutenants do most of the real fighting.
- In Fist of the North Star, Kenshiro is roughly 6 feet tall and 220 lbs. Raoh is roughly a foot taller and a hundred pounds heavier but is at least realistically large unlike the assorted giants such as Zeed, Mr. Heart, Mad Sarge, Devil Rebirth, and Uighur. Fudoh inverts this during his final battle with Raoh.
- Played with in Claymore. The Youma are bigger than people; the awakened beings are even bigger(some being 100+ metres tall/long) with one exception, and yet the heroines are normal-sized, if taller and a lot thinner than average, women; any fashion model could pass for one with the right makeup and contacts. The tallest, Galatea, is pegged at 185cm officially.
- In the Pretty Cure franchise, the Pretty Cures are teenagers, most of them are around 14, a few are younger or older. The villains are either adults or humanoid beings who are taller than average people or Attack Of The 50 Feet Whatever.
- Seiren from Suite Pretty Cure ♪ is a black cat fairy, but she's taller than fairy mascot Hummy. Seiren's human form Ellen is as tall as the heroines Hibiki and Kanade. And Eas from Fresh Pretty Cure! is as tall as Love, but smaller than Huge School Girl Miki.
- Ira and Regina from Doki Doki Pretty Cure are smaller than the heroines, unless you're count Aguri's human form who is smaller than them.
- Discussed Sgt. Frog, where Space Detective Kogoro (average human height) is about to fight Keroro (about two feet tall), but stops because he can't fight Keroro without looking like a huge bully. Keroro solves this by putting on a Mobile-Suit Human to give them approximately equal size.
- Several of Superman's most powerful enemies, like Darkseid, Mongul, Doomsday and even Lex Luthor in his power suit is usually notably larger than he is, though without he's typically smaller than Superman.
- Kept in Smallville despite Clark Kent played by the 6'3'' Tom Welling - Alder, Doomsday and Titan are portrayed by Dave Batista (6'6''), Dario Delacio (6'8'', and his exoskeleton added a lot of size) and Kane (7' 0"(!)), respectively.
- While they are both powerfully built, highly experienced warriors with super-human powers; fact of the matter is that Wolverine is 5'3" (160cm) and his Arch-Enemy/Evil Counterpart Sabretooth is 6'6" (198.1cm)
- Downplayed in the films, as Hugh Jackman is only slightly shorter than Tyler Mane (and about the same height as Liev Schrieber).
- The Mighty Thor averts this with Loki who is typically drawn as being smaller than Thor, though some of the Thor's other enemies play this straight.
Films — Animated
- The closest thing Brave has to a villain is an enormous demon bear, so any fight between him and a human will obviously have this dynamic. However, even in the final battle between the demon bear and the Baleful Polymorph queen turned into a bear, the Big Bad is noticeably much bigger than the Mama Bear (which is justified, since male bears are bigger than females).
- Jafar in Aladdin is at least a head taller than everybody else in the movie that he interacts on-screen with.
- In The Great Mouse Detective, the good guys are mice, but the villain is a ra... big mouse.
Films — Live-Action
- Star Wars has Darth Vader, who stands over 2 meters (though the good guys have Chewbacca, who's even taller). The Empire also has much larger war machines; the largest Rebel ship, the Mon Calamari cruiser, is absolutely dwarfed by the largest Imperial ships, the Death Star and the Executor.
- The final battle of Avatar zig-zags this trope; Big Bad Colonel Quaritch is bigger and much more physically dangerous than the wheelchair bound Jake, but is smaller than Jake's Avatar form, which is smaller than the Mini-Mecha Quaritch pilots.
- Many tall actors made a career for themselves playing monsters (usually as People in Rubber Suits). Standout examples:
- Regularly happens in Star Trek films:
- Star Trek Into Darkness: The Vengeance is twice the size of the Enterprise. In fact, if you look at a size comparison she is the biggest Federation ship ever built thus far.
- The Narada in 2009's Star Trek similarly dwarfs the Enterprise, the Kelvin, and any other Federation or Klingon ships. Justified, at least in part, because Nero originated from over a century into the future.
- The Scimitar from Star Trek: Nemesis made the Enterprise-E look tiny by comparison.
- The Son'a vessels in Star Trek: Insurrection were somewhat bigger than the Enterprise-E; however, this was taken Up to Eleven in the same film with the collector vessel built to harvest the Ba'ku planet's rings.
- The Borg cube and sphere from Star Trek: First Contact played this trope straight as well, even if they didn't last long into the film.
- The whale-probe in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and V'ger's vessel in Star Trek: The Motion Picture are huge in their own right, though not specifically evil.
- Specifically averted in Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan — in each case, the villains and their tactics are what make their vessels dangerous to the protagonists.
- Emperor Xerxes of 300 is a nine feet tall androgynous God-King, towering over both his opponent King Leonidas and his own men.
- Even if James Bond is tall (only Daniel Craig is below 1.80 m) many times The Dragon is huge - best example is Jaws, but Necros and Stamper also qualify.
- While Godzilla is by no means a small guy, many of his opponents are often even bigger than him (e.g. King Ghidorah [image◊], Destoroyah [image◊], Orga [image◊]).
- In Godzilla-Mothra-King Ghidorah, the one film in the franchise where King Ghidorah is the heroic monster and Godzilla the villain, Ghidorah's substantially smaller than normal, and is now shorter than Godzilla.
- Iron Man has Tony Stark in his human-sized Iron Man suit facing off against Obadiah Stane in his fifteen-foot-tall Iron Monger suit.
- The Sequel has the same human sized Iron man vs. the Iron-monger like Whiplash.
- Sabretooth in X-Men, as Tyler Mane is 6' 9" (2.6 m). In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, not so much as Liev Schrieber is only 3 cm taller than Hugh Jackman.
- Sunday, from The Man Who Was Thursday is described as "too big to process." He's not more than eight feet tall, however, but his terrifyingly jolly personality can't possibly hurt...
- Gregor Clegane from A Song of Ice and Fire, AKA "The Mountain that Rides", known to some fans as "The Mountain that Rapes", possibly the worst ordinary human in the series (out of quite a lot of competition), and also the largest.
- In Redwall, Vermin are invariably larger than Redwallers, though badgers tower above all others (and are good guys).
- Inverted in Animorphs, where the major villains, the Yeerks, are actually slug-like Puppeteer Parasites who require hosts to stand against the other species (both humans an aliens), who are both much taller than them. This doesn't make them less dangerous in anyway.
- Played straight with Big Bad Visser Three, a major antagonist with the morphing power who uses it exclusively to go One-Winged Angel on the heroes.
- In the various Stargate series, bad guys always have big armies, big ships, big empires, and big egos.
- Played straight fairly often in Star Trek, where the usually very impressive Enterprise will be dwarfed by the bad guys' starships◊ (some expanded-universe materials indicate this was invoked by the Romulans, who designed their D'Deridex class with a lot of empty space, resulting in a ship that is much larger than Starfleet's Galaxy class but only somewhat larger in actual mass, crew and decks).
- The word "Titan" is usually synonymous with giant, and while not all the Titans in Greek Mythology were evil, many were. Cronos broke his promise to his mother by refusing to free the Hekatonkheires after overthrowing his father, ruled as a tyrant, and consumed his children to prevent them from turning against him; it was only due to Rhea's intervention that Zeus was spared and was able to. The Titans who sided with him were hardly innocent either.
- In Norse mythology, the Jotuns, or frost giants, were the eternal enemies if the gods of Asgard. Although their actual size varies depending on the story, the most powerful ones (like the illusionist sorcerer Utgard-Loki) tended to be the biggest.
- Most of the factions in Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 are taller than humans: the Elves / Eldar, Orcs / Orks, the forces of Chaos (especially Khornates), Lizardmen, Kroot... An exception in 40K is the Tau, who are shorter and less physically capable than humans (which is why they prefer to shoot their enemies from miles away) - but by the standards of the setting, they tend to be a bit nicer than humans. The Skaven are also smaller but have far, far greater numbers... and definitely count as evil.
- Take to extreme levels in 40k (as usual) with the C'Tan star gods, who were so massive outside their necrodermis shells that they didn't even notice planets.
- In most Sci-Fi FPS shooters the evil alien race is usually 7 or 8 feet tall on average, with their Giant Mook members being even larger. Often this makes them easier to shoot, without really making them any stronger.
- Halo: Brutes and Elites (the most prominent soldiers of the Covenant) are around eight feet tall. Hunters are twelve.
- Averted with Grunts, Jackals, and Drones, who are smaller or as big as a human (and in the Jackal and possibly Drones' case, frailer). Their leaders, the Prophets, average at about seven feet, but as a rule are frail and a bit hunchbacked.
- The Big Bad of Halo 4, the Didact, is around nine feet tall.
- Half-Life: Alien Grunts are also around eight feet tall. Again, subverted by the Alien Slaves and Alien Controllers, who are as big or smaller than a human. Played straight again with Gargantuas and Manta Rays, but those are living tanks and living fighter-bombers respectively.
- Resistance: Chimera units are taller than normal humans.
- Ganon of The Legend of Zelda is always bigger than Link and Zelda combined. Even in his human form, he can be up to twice as tall as them regardless of whether Link and Zelda are adults or kids.
- Ghirahim in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword plays this straight when he goes One-Winged Angel, where he's about a head taller than Link and noticeably bulkier (in his normal form he and Link are the same size). Demise plays it straight even in his humanoid form where he's around the same height as Ganon's human form, but is also much bulkier with his arms alone being thicker than Link's torso.
- Archimonde in the final level in Warcraft III is far larger than any other unit and is basically invincible. In addition, all the demonic units have far more health than the player's units or his computer allies', are physically larger, and do "chaos damage" which is resisted by none of the armor types.
- Present in World of Warcraft with dungeon and raid bosses. Anywhere from five to forty players need to be able to target and track their actions so the bosses are bigger. This ranges from bosses being twice as tall as normal (even if there something that's normally human sized) to behemoths so large they don't fit on the screen unless you're as far away as possible.
- In Infinity Blade, almost everything is bigger than you, except the final boss.
- M. Bison of Street Fighter is a man of very large stature, especially in the Alpha series, though Zangief and Sagat are always bigger than him.
- In the 2D Final Fantasy games, enemy sprites were always bigger than the player sprites.
- In Shank, every boss is bigger than Shank in gameplay. Averted in cutscenes for most of them.
- In Sword of the Stars II, the Suul'ka, Liir Great Elders gone mad, even the smallest of which are bigger than any other races' Leviathans.
- The Reapers in Mass Effect are absolutely massive in size, with the largest Reapers being nearly twice the size of the Destiny Ascension, the largest non-Reaper ship in the galaxy. And they also have firepower and defenses to match. Reaper Destroyers are much smaller, but compared to the ground forces they go up against, they practically hit Kaiju proportions, and also have defenses to match. Anything less than constant orbital bombardment or reengineered Reaper weapons to a Destroyer's weak point are basically the equivalent of throwing rocks at them.
- As a general rule, if there are two forces involved and one of them has something huge - a Brute, Praetorian, YMIR mech, Geth Colossus or Atlas mech, just to name four - then the force with the huge thing is the bad guy.
- The Space Pirate Ridley of Metroid is always much larger than his Arch-Nemesis, Samus Aran. His size usually varies between each game in the series, sometimes reaching up to almost twenty feet in Metroid Zero Mission, but even in his smaller appearances (like Melee, for example) he still towers over her. He's still dwarfed by other pirates such as Kraid or Phantoon, as well as his boss Mother Brain.
- Transformers: War for Cybertron and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron subverted this due to the Autobots and Decepticons sharing animation models for characters and enemies it meant they were usually typically close in size, and in the case with the latter game, the Autobots had the larger GiantMooks with their Titans and also had Metroplex who was by far the largest character in either game, and also had one of the few cases of Optimus Prime was larger than Megatron.
- Justified in the various versions of Transformers, as most of the Decepticons tend to favor larger military vehicles for their alt-modes as opposed to the smaller civilian vehicles favored by most of the Autobots.
- One exception is the movies, which in an attempt to keep a realistic scale, led protagonist Optimus Prime (whose alternate mode is a HUGE truck) to be taller than most Decepticons. That said, Megatron is generally depicted as noticeably bigger than Prime◊.
- Beast Wars subverted this in its final season where Optimus Primal's Optimal Optimus form was much larger than Megatron. Transformers Prime played this trope straight in its first two season with Megatron being the same height as Optimus bring while being bulkier, but subverted it in its third season when Optimus Prime was upgraded was both taller and bulkier than Megatron.
- Unicron takes this up to 11, as he's the size of a small planet.
- Ziggzaged in Transformers Animated, where the sizes of many of the Transformers is VERY inconsistent. The Decepiticons are typically presented at least as being a head taller than Optimus prime, but in some shots they're over twice his his height.
- In Codename: Kids Next Door, the heroes are children who fight evil adults, so this Trope is usually applied by default, except in the cases with child villains. (And some of them, like the Delightful Children, have adult-sized Mooks most of the time.)
- The Smurfs are really small, so pretty much every villain in the cartoon is bigger than they are. (But then, so are most of their allies.
- Adventures of the Gummi Bears took this a step further. Not only is the Big Bad (and most humans in general) bigger than the heroes, but the villains' Mooks are a group of ogres bigger than he is, which he is somehow able to keep in line.