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.
This is the reason why Large and in Charge
is more common among villains.
open/close all folders
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
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 ship, the Death Star.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Justified 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 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.
- 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.
- 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: Other M, 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.
- 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◊.
- Unicron takes this up to 11, as he's the size of a small planet.