When a very large creature such as a Kaiju first appears in fiction, it's usually alone, and menacing for its sheer size even if it's not ferocious. If it acquires offspring, or is shown in flashback as an infant, the image of baby creatures invariably differs: unable to loom like an adult, the juvenile's depiction will become cute and cuddly (if it's friendly) or fast-moving and in-your-face (if it still wants to eat you). Either way, this transition from towering bulk to close contact is facilitated by making the subadult creature much, much smaller than its parent or adult self. Small enough, in fact, to interact easily with and/or appeal to human characters, in ways that the mature version can't. While this makes sense in terms of drama, it can also lead to situations where the offspring are so tiny, it seems a bit bizarre to we humans to think that baby and adult versions are the same species. This is mostly a case of human/mammal chauvinism — many, many invertebrates and fishes in Real Life are tiny or even microscopic as hatchlings — but the feeling of incongruity persists. Often used to incorporate the Shoulder-Sized Dragon trope in stories about much larger dragons. May be combined with Cub Cues Protective Parent.
open/close all folders
- A credit card ad depicts a family buying things for an extremely large Newfoundland dog. In a scene of their very first dog-related purchase (the dog itself), the young Newfie puppy is barely the size of a cat. The man realizes that his new dog is going to be trouble when he sees the dog's huge mother.
Anime & Manga
- One Donald Duck comic had nephews find a large egg, slightly larger than a man(duck?). A creature is born from it, who is slightly shorter than the egg. At the end of the comic, we see the mother, who is larger than Earth.
- One Old Master Q (a Chinese comic) strip had Master Q feeding a tiny little "fish" in a fishbowl. The next panel has the "fish" being kept in a bathtub and being fed actual fish. Master Q is later seen running home with more food only to see a whale burst out of his house.
Films — Animation
- Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs: The baby tyrannosaurs are around Sid's size, but the mother is taller than Manny.
- The baby dinosaurs in The Land Before Time are rather small compared to the fully grown ones.
- True of dragons in How to Train Your Dragon, as revealed in Gift of the Night Fury.
- The Tacodiles from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.
Films — Live-Action
- The baby form of Godzilla Jr. from the Heisei era as introduced in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II. The scientists were able to move its egg between the rooms of their lab and fit the hatched Jr. into the elevator. The infant's size difference with Godzilla himself is made clear near the end when they are seen together. By the time of Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla, however, he has grown to half Godzilla's height.
- In Godzilla (1998), Zilla is the size of a skyscraper, but its horde of offspring are only about twice the size of humans, allowing them to pursue the main characters indoors.
- The baby rock biter from The Neverending Story 3 is fairly tiny compared to the adult rock biters.
- In The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, the Loch Ness Monster is small enough to swim in a bathtub as a baby, but the size of a bus when fully grown.
- Played with in Gorgo. Gorgo is a true ankle biter compared to his mother, about a tenth her size. That said, Gorgo is still twice as tall as an elephant.
- In Pacific Rim, the adult kaiju are the size of mountains, whereas the fetal kaiju that emerges from its dead mother's carcass is the size of a bus, hence better-suited to harry an individual human target through the rubble-strewn city streets. (It's uncertain if this trope would have still applied if it had grown to full term and been born.)
- In the Sharktopus movies, the adult sharktopi have van-sized bodies and tentacles several yards long, whereas the hatchling from the second film is small enough for the heroine to lift it between two fingers.
- In Gamera the Brave, the new Gamera Toto is the size of a normal baby turtle when he first hatches. After a week, he's about as big as a house and he's still growing. By the end of the film, he's a full-grown Gamera capable of defeating the film's antagonist.
- In Clifford the Big Red Dog, Clifford is born tiny, but he grows to the size of a house in compliance with his owner Emily Elizabeth's concerned wish for her undersized pet. In the spin-off Clifford's Puppy Days, his pre-wish life as a hamster-sized runt is depicted.
- Baby dragon Norbert in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is no bigger than a football. But in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire we see that adult dragons can get massive!
- Dragons in the Inheritance Cycle are very large, but their babies are much smaller.
- Seems to be the case in one of Robert Sheckley's short stories. A starship comes across a planet full of human scale animals and plants. In the end, it turns out that the planet is a playground for some kind of alien children. The children are probably human sized or near so, but the parents seem to cast mountain sized shadows and use a mile high metal column as a key to wind up the entire planet.
- As a puppy, Harry Dresden's dog Mouse was small enough to fit in his coat pocket. Fully grown, it's a struggle to squeeze the pooch into Harry's Volkswagen.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, direwolves and dragons. Direwolf puppies are the same size as ordinary puppies, while the adults are as big as ponies. Dragon hatchlings are small enough to curl up on a teenage girl's shoulder, while the biggest known adult dragon, Balerion the Black Dread, could devour mammoths in a single bite and covered entire towns in his shadow when he flew overhead.
- A dragon in its late juvenile years Birthright (2017), stands at about four feet, while the oldest dragon seen is large enough to be mistaken for part of a room. Said dragon is also still an adolescent, meaning they very likely come bigger.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- In a vintage supplement about giants, a "hulking barbarian" who volunteers to join the adventuring party turns out to be a young cloud giant playing at being a human warrior. Cloud giant adults average 18' tall, so if human-like growth patterns were assumed, a juvenile 6' tall ought to be their equivalent of a toddler too young to execute such a deception. This does work by the rules, which state that a juvenile giant is two sizes smaller than an adult (in this case, a Huge adult being Medium), and one big enough to pass as a very large human could be pushing Large, making this the equivalent of about a 10-year-old human. (Who would still struggle at this sort of deception, even without taking their blue-white skin and hair into account.)
- Some of the smaller variants of dragons are born at roughly the size of cats (4 feet long, half of which is tail, 1 foot wide, 1 foot tall, 8 foot wingspan, and 5 pounds) and grow to the size of large whales (85 feet long, 38 feet of which is tail, 10 feet wide, 16 feet tall, 80 foot wingspan, and 80 tons). The larger variants get even bigger, at 120 feet long and 640 tons, but since they are born the size of small bears it isn't quite as dramatic.
- In Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice, Main Character Mao is about the size of a normal teenager. His dad, the Overlord, is so freaking huge that even his fingers are several times Mao's size. However, Mao's ultimate skill Vasa Aergun reveals that Mao himself actually has a quite gigantic One-Winged Angel form.
- In the Katamari Damacy series The King of All Cosmos is so much bigger than the Prince. In the game, the King is bigger than the sun and the prince is about the size of a teacup.
- The skags, specifically Dukino's Mom, from Borderlands and Borderlands2 are a great example. The skeletons littered around Pandora, like in Three Horn Valley and Tundra Express, are so massive that bandits live in them.
- In Final Fantasy XIII, the baby Chocobos are about as large as a real-life baby chicken. Adult Chocobos are about eight feet tall, and can carry humans on their backs without even slowing down significantly. This is not generally true of the rest of the Final Fantasy series, though; other games have baby Chobocos (sometimes called Chicobos) that, while smaller than the adults, don't seem disproportionately small.
- In Metroid: Other M, Samus occasionally encounters a small furry creature with chicken legs. The tiny but greedy little monster quickly disgusts and disturbs her with its eating habits. Samus had good reason to be unnerved by the creature — it's actually the larval stage of whatever species her Arch-Enemy Ridley is and is in fact a clone Ridley itself. And thanks to Genetic Memory, it hates her just as much as the original did.
- Pokémon tend to be very small in their basic and baby forms, then get enormous with each evolution.
- Earthsong: The giant character is the size a human girl of her age would be. It is stated in the comic that had she the opportunity to reach puberty, however, she would be roughly 10 feet tall.
- In an early Yamara strip, the adventurers come across a tiny two-legged creature and start arguing about what sort of monster it might be. In the last panel, a gigantic foot of the same type appears behind them, and Yamara looks up very high while fearfully suggesting that the tiny creature might be somebody's baby.
- The great dragon Strake of Dark Wings is monumentally huge but his young son Arra is around the size of a puppy and years later when he's older he's as big as a draft horse yet still tiny compared to his father. The vast difference in size is actually remarked upon by the wyvern team sent to kidnap Arra.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Seems to be the case for dragons, generally.
- Spike the baby dragon is small enough to live with and interact easily with the ponies, and even ride on Twilight's back. When we're shown a full-sized dragon, a grown pony walks along his nose and is significantly smaller than his eyeball. Appears to take the "immortal, grow forever" path for dragons as the adult dragon described is indicated to be several centuries old. The "teenage" dragons from a later episode are much larger than Spike and the ponies, but still tiny compared to the many adult dragons in the episode, who come in a great range of sizes.
- In the episode "Gauntlet of Fire", we see Dragon Lord Torch, their leader and the biggest dragon seen yet, almost as tall as a mountain. (In fact, probably the biggest creature outright seen in Equestria, in the same size range as the humongous Ursa Major or Tirek's greater form.) Torch has a daughter named Ember who is barely bigger than Spike, and about as tall as one of Torch's knuckles.
- Invoked example: An episode of Danger Mouse has Baron Greenback get hold of a formula that made giant chickens. The eggs they laid, however, are normal size, and his plan was to distribute them to the world's doorsteps, so that when they hatch...
- The sabre-toothed moose lion from Avatar: The Last Airbender, which starts life as a rather cute Yorkie-sized cub and grows into a hefty 10' predator.
- Godzilla: The Series follows where the 1998 film left off, where the newly hatched Zilla, Jr. is just a bit bigger than adopted parent Nick, and eventually grows to match the skyscraper size of his biological parent.
- Godzooky from The Godzilla Power Hour is roughly human-sized. But he's less than half the size of his uncle Godzilla's head.
- Dinky the dog from his self-titled segments on Hanna-Barbera's Popeye cartoon show started off as a small puppy bought at a pet store, but became so big (about the size of a car) that his two female owners sing that he isn't a "Dinky doggie" anymore.
- Adamaï, Yugo's twin dragon brother in Wakfu is about a head shorter than the Kid Hero. Grougaloragran, an adult dragon, is massive like any other western-style dragon. When he reincarnates, he's about the size of a dog.
- Teensy from the Pound Puppies (1980s) episode "Little Big Dog" was a tiny puppy small enough to be mistaken for a mouse. By the end of the episode which takes place several months later, he was so huge that he dwarfed his future owner.
- In one Space Ghost episode, while Space Ghost is busy fighting a huge monster called a Star-beast in space, his sidekicks discover and befriend a strange creature no bigger than the team pet called a Star-fly. It's only too late that they remember that Star-flies are the larval form of Star-beasts. Fortunately, the new Star-beast still remembers the team pet whom it had befriended earlier and departs peacefully.
- Virtually all invertebrates play this trope straight, as do reptiles and bony fishes. Having babies that aren't extremely tiny is mostly reserved for placental mammals, birds, and some species of sharks.
- Perhaps the most extreme examples are open-water predatory bony fish, such as swordfish and tuna. Newly hatched fry are only a few millimeters long, but a lucky few will become the size of a small car.
- Mola mola, the ocean sunfish, start off at only 2.5 mm long, but grow to be the largest of bony fish. 60 million times their birth size.
- Giant squid can reach 13 meters in length, mantle-tip to tentacle-tip, but hatch out of eggs that are about 1 mm long.
- Leatherback sea turtles weigh up to 700 kilograms as adults. Their hatchlings' weight? 45 grams.
- Saltwater crocodile hatchlings average about 70 grams, but the largest males can exceed two tons in weight if they live long enough.
- Marsupials give birth to offspring that are hundreds of times smaller than their parents. Subverted in that a marsupial newborn is also so underdeveloped, it's neither adorable, nor capable of interacting with anything except the nipples inside its mother's pouch and the fur it has to climb to get there.
- Bears are extremely tiny at birth compared to their parents. Newborn polar bears weigh just 0.9 kg, but grow to 386-405 kg if male or 150-210 kg if female.
- Dinosaur infants tended to be no larger than a football when born, even for the largest sauropod species. There was a practical reason for this: a larger, thicker eggshell would have trouble absorbing enough oxygen for the embryo inside, and might even be too difficult for the hatching baby to break. This extends to their modern relatives, crocodiles and birds. Even the largest of birds have generally tiny babies.
- Pterosaurs also had this quality; a baby pterosaur would likely have been small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, but depending on the species it could potentially grow to have a wingspan like that of a small airplane.
- Inverted with the Paradoxical Frog, which after hatching grows into a huge, nearly foot-long tadpole... that later "grows" into a frog about a quarter of the tadpole's length.