The tendency to visually depict leaders of an organization as large, physically intimidating people. Sort of makes sense, because people are more likely to follow orders from a big guy than a small one. Abundant in video games since these guys need to be able to make impressive bosses as well and players like big targets. Unless they have magic or machines for that, but even then they tend to be pretty big. While most commonly this trope applies to villains there are still some heroic characters that are Large and in Charge.
Exactly what flavor of "big" he (or she) will be depends chiefly on the character's personality, or sometimes species. He could be morbidly obese to symbolize his greed and decadence, but could instead be a towering seven-foot-tall man. (Note that very tall villains are not necessarily muscular or good at fighting, and in that case will usually have to rely on some shorter Mooks with Stout Strength.)
Because Evil Is Bigger, this is more prevalent among villains. This applies to most of the brutish types of Always Chaotic Evil fantasy races, like Orcs, Hobgoblins, and some of the many, many types of trolls. Races which get Stronger With Age will tend to justify this either as the biggest individuals being Older and Wiser, or only very tough and resourceful ones reaching old age.
Related to Authority Equals Asskicking (or, perhaps, Asskicking Equals Authority). Also see Hitler Cam, the camera effect that you can use to accentuate height. Contrast The Napoleon (when he's in a leadership position).
Sometimes found in real life- in the modern world, elected leaders are generally of average or greater height. However, this is rarely taken to the kind of extremes found in video games.
Can be found in art, especially B.C periods. The most prominent example is Egyptian art; almost all periods of European art before the Renaissance too. This makes sense, as people tend to pay more attention to bigger figures.
Contrast Mister Big and The Napoleon. Adipose Rex is the trope for fat kings.
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Anime and Manga
The Big Bads of each One Piece arc are often unnaturally large, despite mostly being human.
Also from One Piece, Edward Newgate, Whitebeard, is a very large man, easily dwarfing some of his lieutenants who are themselves quite large.
All of the Shichibukai are impossibly tall, except for Mihawk and Boa Hancock, who are just unusually tall (198cm and 191cm). Kuma and Moria are almost seven freaking meters tall.
Occasionally played with. Rob Lucci was the most powerful of CP9, but was merely tall, standing around 6'7" and relatively slim (in human form). While this would be huge in the real world, two of his subordinates, Fukurou and Kumadori, utterly dwarf him in both height and mass, and only slightly taller than Nico Robin. Then he uses his Devil Fruit power, and becomes a gigantic bloody leopard.
An interesting twist on this is Buggy. While not the largest by far, he is a toweringly lanky figure. However, when he is defeated and separated from his crew, portions of his arms, legs, neck and torso were stolen, reducing him to a chibi-version of himself standing at barely 3 feet tall. However, the moment he is reunited with his crew he finds his missing body parts and resumes his more imposing form.
And there's the 3 Admirals.
Averted with the Straw Hats. Luffy isn't the tallest of the crew. Franky and Brooke easily tower over him and Zoro and Sanji are also taller than him. Even Robin is taller than Luffy.
To be fair, Robin is around 6'2 and also taller than Zoro, Usopp, and Sanji.
Lordgenome from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, who's at least seven feet tall and densely muscular. Even more so with Thymilph the Crasher, first among his four generals and literal 800 Pound Gorilla.
Futari wa Pretty Cure takes this to truly ridiculous extremes. Everybody in the entire series is approximately human-scaled or smaller, except for the Queen of the Garden of Light, who I suspect could dance with an average Gundam, and her opposite number Dark King (or Evil King or however we're translating it this week), who is about the same height as her but has no legs (so a "complete" Dark King would be even bigger).
Bismark Waldstein, the leader of the Knights of the Round and the Emperor's personal bodyguard. Not only is he about as tall as Charles, but his Ace Custom is twice as tall as the average Knightmare Frame. He even wields a BFS on foot at one point!
Inverted in Bleach. Though there are giants in Soul Society, only two of them are Captains, and the tallest of those is nine foot five. That's small compared to the lowly gate guards, each of whom is larger than the three largest Captains combined. It's also said that making the normally gargantuan Hollows (or Arrancars) human-sized actually increases their power (perhaps because it's the same amount of power concentrated in a smaller space).
Although the bankai of one of those two captains is Kokujou Tengen Myouou and takes a form of a hundred meters tall ironclad giant, the biggest creature in the entire series perhaps except for Yammy Riyalgo who can grow as big as he pleases.
The Hollows have a similar situation. The multiple-story-tall Gilean-class Menos are the weakest Hollows that are strong enough to be useful in the Big Bad's army. Stronger Menos tend to get smaller until they hit the Bishounen Line. After that, the only way to gauge power levels is to pick fights with them.
Played straight, however, with the Emperor of the Vandenreich, who's tall enough to Neck Lift 2-meters-tall Kenpachi off the ground.
While most leaders in Naruto are normal sized (the Third Hokage was even kinda short since he was an old man and the Tsuchikage is a freaking midget), the Raikage is a freaking giant.
Played straight as well with Gamabunta, the chief toad of Mount Myouboku. He's easily the largest toad of the lot; his size rivals even the larger Tailed Beasts.
In Hokuto No Ken, about every thug gang leader is for some reason three times larger (officially, by about 4 to 12cm) than your average normal human, and demonstrate physical prowess like crushing heads with their bare hands. This reaches truly ridiculous proportions with the Prison Chief Wigür (height not given, probably three stories) who dwarves even Raoh (who in turn dwarves about every peasant/soldier/thug, and even the hero Kenshiro) (roughly two stories, or 210cm).
Averted with that one prisoner in Cassandra who is the size of a skyscraper: his one scene has him taking orders from a normal-sized criminal who convinced him they're brothers.
Used initially in Yuusha-Oh GaoGaiGar. Of all the fully combined mecha, the titular one is the largest. ChoRyuJin combines two robots to approach his size, Big Volfogg uses two support units and is still smaller, and even Big Guy Goldymarg towers over all the others but is still smaller than GGG. Subverted by Sixth Ranger Soldat J, whose mecha is a warship which transforms into the gargantuan King J-Der, dwarfing all the other heroes. Subverted again in FINAL by Goldymarg, who, after his destruction in Osaka, has his AI built into the star-destroying Goldion Crusher.
Done comically in School Rumble with the manga institutions Chief Editor being ridiculously large. So much in fact that he shakes hands with one of the charicters using only the tip of his finger.
Very evident in Transformers Victory, on both sides. Star Saber is the biggest of the regularly appearing Autobots, and is also the Supreme Commander. Deathsaurus is even bigger, standing twice as tall as the average Transformers, and naturally enough is the Decepticon Emperor of Destruction.
Also evident in Transformers Masterforce after the Godmasters appear. Ginrai has the biggest Autobot Transtector, and so Metalhawk hands command of the Earth Autobots over to him. Mega and Giga jointly command the Decepticons under Devil Z's leadership, and they can combine their Transtectors to form Overlord, who is even larger than Ginrai. To cap it off, Devil Z eventually combines with BlackZarak, who is bigger still.
However, this trope reached its ultimate expression in Transformers Headmasters with Fortress Maximus and Scorponok. Both gain leadership over their respective factions, and both are roughly the size of a large building.
Definitely averted in Dragon Ball Z. Vegeta was the Prince of Saiyans... and he was 5'4". Frieza was shorter in the first form you see him in, and his final, most powerful form is his second-smallest. Cell was tall and muscular, but then you get to Buu... Kid Buu was very much like his name, a small bundle of destruction.
General Red was a total inversion. Of course, once Officer Black took over the Red Ribbon army the trope straightened itself out.
This trope is taken Up to Eleven with the Raven in Princess Tutu. He's so large that his wings blacken the sky when he's overhead and when his feet touch the ground, a single claw is large enough for a teenage girl to hug. Of course, he's also pretty much a symbol of evil in the series, so he's nearly always depicted in abstract—glowing red eyes in the sky, a huge foot stepping down onto the ground, etc.
Eyeshield 21 subverts this with the Hakushuu Dinosaurs, as team captain Marco is quite scared of the massive Gaou, creating the impression that Gaou is leading the team. But Gaou has nothing but respect for Marco and no desire to challenge his authority, meaning Marco is really in charge.
Mobile Suit Gundam: The two tallest characters shown in the series are Zeon dictator Gihren Zabi, and his enormous and heavily scarred brother, Dozle, who serves as a Vice-Admiral and commander of Solomon Base. Both are hulking men, with broadshouldered builds, with Dozle being in the running for tallest man in the franchise as a whole and also making his brother look thin by comparison. Dozle's backstory indicates that his customZaku (which was never seen in the anime) had a chest that bulged out somewhat compared to the standard model, to make room for a cockpit he can actually fit into.
The Spider-Man villain the Big Man is a very tall and powerfully built man with a very intimidating voice, but subverts this because in reality, he's Frederick Foswell, a reporter for the Daily Bugle, a small, meek individual who uses a padded suit, a mask, and a voice modifier to better look and sound the part of a criminal mastermind. In the comics, his daughter Janice later pulled the same trick as the Big Man.
Negation subverts this somewhat with third-tier villain Komptin, whose first appearance in the flesh shows him to be half-human height and rotund, as opposed to the huge, looming figure on the communications screen.
Averted in Image Comics' WildC.A.T.S. - Jacob Marlowe (Lord Emp) is the multi-millionaire financier as well as the team leader. He's also shown to be rather far below average height. (Four feet tall wouldn't be far off, though with scales being what they are in comics, it's sometimes hard to say.)
For a heroic female example, look no further than "Ma" Hunkel of the Justice Society of America. She may be in her '80s, but she's still pretty huge and capable of kicking your ass (and then baking you cookies). Even more so back in her heyday, when she ran around as a superhero, the Red Tornado.
Subverted in Fables: The Adversary appears to be a huge, armored warrior, but the real Adversary is little old Geppetto, and the nominal Emperor the public sees is his literal puppet.
In the Star Wars: Legacy comic, Darth Krayt, leader of the One Sith, follows Darth Vader's legacy of being large and imposing thanks to the Vong growths in his body and armor. Many of his subordinates are tall and muscular in themselves, but he stands out even among them.
Subverted in Legacy War when he finally learns how to rid himself of the growths and he drops back down to normal human size. A trade made willingly, coming as it does with a more than equal growth in his force power and the removal of the time limit the growths place on his life span.
It goes even farther than that. New Genesis and Apokolips are BILLIONS of times bigger than Earth. The Boom-Tubes actually shrink him when he visits Earth. At his regular size, he could hold Earth in his hand. So, among titanic beings, he's still the biggest.
Tsuruya's father in Kyon: Big Damn Hero is explicitly mentioned as being larger than his daughter's bodyguard, who's large as it is. He's also in charge of the largest Yakuza group in the story.
Eden in The Tainted Grimoire is a massive Bangaa. He is also the Lord of Camoa and one of the members of the Coronet.
The Pony POV Series, in addition to the Princesses (obviously) also has the dragon queen Tiamat, who is so big that she blots out the sun when at full height, and she also managed to single-handedly end the Dragon-Hooviet War, just by showing up.
Darth Vader is by far the tallest human in the series, played by the 1,98m (6'6) David Prowse. He would have been even taller had Prowse and the 2,10m (7'3) Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) not mutually agreed on which parts they would play.
The President in Idiocracy, used to illustrate America's idiocy in that it would elect a professional wrestler (and porn star) to the highest political office.
Mufasa from The Lion King, as would be expected from a pride of lions.
Almost subverted with the Transformers Film Series. In the first movie, Optimus Prime is by far the largest Autobot (at 28 feet tall), however Megatron (at 33 feet tall) is according to Word Of God, not the largest Decepticon in the movie. Blackout (the helicopter) apparently was (he was 35 feet tall), but due to the way the camara angles are set up, Megatron appears to be the biggest Decepticon and thus, the biggest Transformer in the entire film.
The sequel plays this a little more straight. With Megatron reduced to The Dragon status due to the new Big Bad, The Fallen, who despite being much less massive in appearance, is actually taller at 41 feet tall.
Shade from Dark Life is the leader of the Seablite gang, and is described as being enormous.
In Animorphs the hero and team leader Jake is a minor example of this. He's just a kid, but he's a kid built with a football plater's stocky physique and is both the tallest and strongest member of his team. In a later book set in the future, Jake's adult body is described as having a 'Schwarzenegger-esque' build.
Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Men at Arms subverts this. With the leader of a savage dog pack purported to be menacing, lethal, and incredibly dangerous, you come to assume he's going to be one big dog, but it turns out that he's actually a small poodle that wets himself near constantly and is more than a little insane. He remains incredibly dangerous.
Played with in the case of Captain Carrot plays. He's 6'6 and has the approximate body shape of his namesake due to his hugely developed musculature. He's neither the leader of the watch nor the ruler of the city, but he has to actively work to not be any of those things, since most people obey him unthinkingly.
Amongst others are Mustrum Ridcully (Archchancellor of UU, and apparently quite a big man), Hughton Ridcully (Mustrum's brother, and chief priest of Blind Io, and consequently the whole religious organisation in the city), Harry King (one of the biggest employers in the city, and apparently also a big man), the brothers Upright (run all the stagecoaches in the city, and again, big men, and in this case pretty portly as well). Perhaps surprisingly averted with the trolls, the most powerful troll in the city is by no means big by their standards.
Damon Knight's short story "The Handler" is centered around a subversion of this trope; the Big Man at a party is just a puppet controlled by the despised pathetic little man crammed inside his chest.
This is a key plot point in Brave New World, particularly since the society invokes this deliberately by retarding the growth of lower castes to various degrees.
Alanon of the Sword of Shannara is over seven feet tall, and the leader of the heroes.
Most myrddraal are human sized or slightly taller. Shaidar Haran, the most powerful member of that race (and possible avatar of the Big Bad) is almost half again as big. This is explicitly noted by the Forsaken when they first meet Haran.
In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40000Ultramarines novel Dead Sky Black Sun, Uriel thinks that the largest of the monstrous Unfleshed facing them is the leader and so tries to fight a duel with him, to keep them off. Then, their real — and much larger — leader shows up. (Fortunately, while a hideous cannabalistic monster, he's also a Reasonable Authority Figure, and he thinks there's something strange about Uriel to be considered.)
In A Song of Ice and Fire, King Robert Baratheon is described as "towering over lesser men" and being muscled like a woman's fantasy when he was in his prime. This is justified by the fact that he won his crown by fighting. Other examples include Gregor Clegane, a monstrously huge knight who leads a troop of soldiers on particularly vicious missions, and the Titan's Bastard, a giant of a sellsword who leads a mercenary company.
Togrul in the Conqueror books is khan of the Kerait tribe, and also the biggest, fattest person in all Mongolia. Genghis Khan himself is also rather tall.
Ciaphas Cain has been stated to be one of the tallest in most groups (at least two meters). And he's the Commissar, which means not only is he In Charge, he has the option to shoot anyone who disagrees. (He still has to do what the Commissariat and the Inquisition say, though).
Tigerstar of Warrior Cats is described as a very large and muscular cat with very long, hooked claws. Inverted with Scourge of BloodClan, who is so tiny that most characters wonder what the heck he's doing sitting next to Bone, who is enormous (and Scourge's Dragon). Scourge quickly proves that his small size gives him speed and agility, which coupled with his ruthlessness make him one of the most lethal combatants in the series.
Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings stood at 6'6'', which was considered very tall for Men at the end of the Third Age.
Men of Númenor were noted for generally being taller than typical Men, and their height was often indicative of their personal power and social standing. Elendil (regarded as the greatest Man of his age) was about 8 feet tall. Height as a measure of power and standing was also typical among the Elves.
Another Tolkien example is the Great Goblin from The Hobbit.
Bullroarer Took was a military leader of sorts, and widely known to be so large he could ride a horse. Considering that he was a Hobbit, this is very impressive indeed.
In Watership Down, the largest rabbit is almost always the leader of their warren. General Woundwort, for instance, is described as approaching the size of a hare and is immensely strong. The protagonists end up being an exception, with the average-sized Hazel being the Chief Rabbit. In fact, Woundwort assumes Bigwig to be the chief because of his size, and is disturbed when it turns out he isn't — Bigwig is at this point successfully fighting him off. He assumed the chief rabbit was even bigger.
In the House of The Keys to the Kingdom, this is pretty much universal. The Trustees and their higher-up servants are especially tall, usually about 7-9 feet. When a worker is demoted in Grim Tuesday, she shrinks about an inch.
In Doctor Who, Cyber Controllers tend to be larger than normal Cybermen, and Emperor Daleks tower over normal Daleks. Except when said Emperor is Davros. Even then he wears casing to made himself seem bigger in Rememberance of the Daleks.
In Farscape all Scarrans were larger than most other bipedal races, but Emperor Staleek did appear appreciably larger still. Oddly enough, and despite his brutality on occasion, he also appeared to one of the more intelligent and reasonable Scarrans that we saw as well, so one would guess his size was not as much of a factor in actually choosing him as leader, but still was apparent.
In Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson, generally considered the lead presenter, is 6'5". This is especially apparent when compared to 5'7" co-presenter Richard Hammond. Clarkson regularly mocks Hammond for being short, and exploits his height by placing things (mainly cars on the "Cool Wall") out of Hammonds reach.
King Uther fits into this in 'Merlin''. Anthony Head is kind of tall anyway, and the royal outfit and his usual intimidating scowl added to it.
Subverted in Kiss, whose lead singer and brains of the band Paul Stanley is of fairly average height, while his number-three man, bassist Gene Simmons, is the most physically imposing thanks to his thick metal armor and stilettoed platform shoes. Actually double-subverted if you think about it, because with his instantly recognizable "kabuki lizard" face, Simmons is undoubtedly The Face Of The Band.
Also subverted by Shagrath, the lead singer of Dimmu Borgir, who, while not the scrawniest member of the band, looks puny compared to guitarist Silenoz.
Vince McMahon, the man behind World Wrestling Entertainment, stands at six-foot-two and weighs about 250 pounds, pretty average by wrestling standards but gigantic compared to the other members of his family and his various assorted corporate cronies. And he wears a padded suit to make himself look even larger.
The Nexus. Wade Barrett may not have been the largest man in that nine-man group, but he was definitely near the top of the list.
Played with in TNA's Aces & Eights. The Dragon of the team (and de facto leader in many of the brawls) was early on revealed to be the massive (6'7", 291 pounds) Drew Hankinson, a.k.a. "Director of Chaos" or "D.O.C." (pronounced like the monosyllabic slang term for a doctor). He was the first member of the gang to be publicly unmasked, and thus embodied the entire group for a number of months. Since then, however, as several other members of Aces & Eights have been revealed, D.O.C. is no longer very prominent and now basically fills the role of Dumb Muscle.
Warhammer 40000 models from the "Headquarters" section of the Codices tend to be noticeably larger than rank-and-file figures, the better to accommodate details like the Bling of War. Alternatively, a model's status can be measured by the size of his pauldrons.
Justified by the Orks' biology - not only do greenskins never stop growing, but successful or aspiring bosses will actually bulk up and grow even faster. Exemplified in Warlord Ghazghkull, the self-proclaimed Prophet of the Waaagh!, who's nearly twenty feet tall◊. This all makes it very easy for Orks to tell who their superiors and underlings are, leading them to comment that humans' military hierarchy is confusing since we're "all 'bout da same size" and therefore must waste valuable time arguing over who's in charge (though some have wised up to the fact that those in charge have the nicest hats).
Behold, Deffboss. He was supposed to be the sole survivor of the original batch of Orks, millions of years ago, and have kept fighting and growing ever since. Currently, he's the size of a planet, with a whole Ork ecosystem living in his body, who built fortifications as his armor.
TyranidSynapse creatures tend to be much bigger than the rest of the swarm, though it should be noted that not every large Tyranid is necessarily a Synapse creature. Imperial policy on the matter is to "shoot the big ones!" and hope that it helps.
Space Marines start out with a foot or two on regular humans, and due to their genetic modification will slowly but continuously grow throughout their lives. Their commanders are usually at least eight feet tall, the Primarchs of old were even bigger, and the Emperor Himself was reputably as immense as you'd expect a Physical God to be. Chaos Space Marines follow the same scheme, and Warlords who ascend to Daemon Princedom grow to be the size of Dreadnoughts.
Warhammer: Orcs, Ogres, and Daemons. Orcs for the same reason as in 40K, Greater Daemons are the stronger leaders of the Lesser Daemons, and Ogres because when you're really big, you have to listen to the guy who's really, really big
There are only two real "ranks": Grots and Bosses. A Grot is anything smaller than you, and is to be kicked and abused at your leisure; a Boss is anything bigger than you, and is to be feared and respected.
Many monsters in D&D grow in size as they increase in levels. This is especially evident with the dragons, who through their lives grow from a Pint-Sized Powerhouse to an ancient wyrm the size of a big cargo plane.
Also, one of the third edition supplements included a Large and larger size only feat called Large and in Charge. It added knockback to the user's attacks of opportunity, allowing it to abuse Instant Death Radius, though it naturally required a high Strength score to be effective.
The "rulers" of the Slivers in Magic: The Gathering are much larger than even their largest subordinates—specifically, all three have 7 power and 7 toughness, while the largest Sliver (aside from a variant designed to sabotage opposing Sliver decks) has 4 and 4. In real life terms, they would also be physically larger; the Queen is dozens of feet long, the Overlord a mashup from at least four other Slivers, and the Legion actually being a Hive Mind spread out among many Sliver bodies.
The green Phyrexian faction is led by Vorinclex. It really fits his personality.
Invoked in Stacking. Small characters are children or adults with low social status, while large dolls tend to be wealthy. The Big Bad is The Baron, the largest doll, while the protagonist, Charlie Blackmore, is the smallest doll.
Gorath from Betrayal At Krondor is chieftain of a major clan, and is tall and broad-shouldered even by dark elf standards. Though it's notable that, having taken the position at age twelve, he was put in charge before he became large.
King Dedede from Kirby. Kirby's height has been given as eight inches, which would make King Dedede about as large as an actual penguin. When scaled up along with Kirby in Super Smash Bros, however, he is appropriately large.
In Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Golbez is much taller than most of the other characters, even though he's not really a villain at all, to the point that even though Cecil was scaled up to be the largest of the heroes note No, really. Don't believe us? Find a rip of the renders, he looks small enough beside Golbez (helped along by their many scenes together) that people mistake him for being one of the smaller characters in the game. Chaos himself is this trope.
In the original game he was also an exemplary◊ of the "ridiculously over-sized enemy battle art" trope seen commonly in early RPGs, spanning the full height of the screen.
Metroid has Ridley. While he might not lead the Space Pirates (the games never cleared up his exact position), he's Samus' Arch-Enemy and obviously much bigger than she is.
He still answers to Mother Brain who towers over the both of them. In fact, pretty much all of Samus' archenemies are the biggest baddies in the games bar Kraid.
And then you get to Super Metroid, where Kraid turns out to be one of the biggest monsters in the series, standing several stories tall!
World of Warcraft bosses usually have bigger models than the players, even if the boss is of the same race. This is due in part to Story And Gameplay Segregation. Bigger bosses make it more manageable for big parties to fight them. Faction and other leaders also tend to be unusually large, and they can double as bosses fort he opposing faction. Also present in Warcraft III, with heroes being huge in comparison to normal units, and high-level variants of monsters towering over even the largest map structures
In World of Warcraft, size tends to equal power in all terms. In Loch Modan, you'll meet level 17 ogres that are about eight feet tall. In the Blade's Edge Mountains, you'll meet level 67 ogres that are closer to twenty feet tall!
Not to mention the hunter Shrinky Dink effect when taming a pet for a reverse application of the trope. The quickest way to make a five story tall elite dinosaur smaller than your mount? Bring it over to our side!
Most high power temporary damage buffs increase the size of the player tremendously, played to its most powerful form in boss mind control spells: Mind Controlled Players tend to double, triple or even quadruple in size, and their stats scale insanely high until the mind control is broken.
They also do this with some important NPCs. Tirion Fordring in Icecrown Citadel, for example, is substantially taller than the other humans in the room.
This isn't all Gameplay and Story Segregation; several leaders are mentioned in story as being unusually large for members of their race; Thrall, Fandral Staghelm, and Cairne Bloodhoof are all noted for standing a head or so higher than the average (already rather large) orc, night elf, and tauren respectively. Though sometimes the segregation's still in place, Tirion's specifically noted to be a fairly average sized man in the novel that introduces him, for instance.
Another weird instance is Tyrande. The female Night Elf player model stands a few inches shorter than a male. Tyrande is nearly twice the height of the normal-sized Night Elf women standing near her.
The Lich King, who towers over you at the start of the Death Knight starting zone, no matter what race you picked.
Noth The Plaguebringer, despite having a normal human male shape and model, looks to stand nearly 9 feet tall. A normal human male NPC standing next to him looks to only be about waist height compared to him.
The Laguz Kings, Ashnard, and arguably Ike (in 10) from the 9th and 10thFire Emblem games are all this. Before them was King Zephiel from the 6th, and before him the trend began with Emperor Hardin from the 3rd.
Odin Sphere takes this to a ridiculous extent. Several of the 'important' characters, like Odin and his main general, are basically giants, despite ostensibly being the same race as the human-sized Valkyrie protagonist. The extra odd part is that three of the human sized characters are Odin's children; despite the fact that he's about 4 times taller then them, despite being hunched over, and at least 10 times more massive.
In City of Heroes and Villains, Lord of War Hro'Dtohz and Master At Arms U'Kon Gr'ai are several times larger than a typical Rikti.
The creatures of the Devouring Earth get progressively larger with rank, then make a huge leap to their creator Hamidon, who has taken the form of mile-wide giant amoeba.
Most of the Rularuu bosses are maybe twice human size. Rularuu himself (leader of the group) is explicitly stated to be over 100 feet in height.
Similarly, the small Hydra forces are man sized. They get bigger.
Dracula in the Castlevania series is usually (with a couple of notable exceptions) about twice the height of the protagonist when confronted, requiring the Belmont hero to jump in order to whip him in the face. This may be a Shout Out to the original novel, in which one of the Count's unused but mentioned powers is to "grow and become small".
While most of his second forms are of the One-Winged Angel variety, his second form in the arcade game Haunted Castle is to become so large that only his head fits onscreen.
Subverted in No One Lives Forever 2 where the Big (literally) boss of French mime villains actually was a midget on a unicycle.
Mass Effect plays this fairly straight with the humanoid geth variants; the larger the geth, the tougher it is and the higher-ranking it is. Geth Primes are generally the nastiest thing you can fight on two legs. Also averted with Saren Arterius. He is much shorter than his fellow Turians who usually go over seven feet, being only about as tall as the human protagonist. Of course he compensates this with purely muscle-based width and personality powerful enough to fill a large room.
Mass Effect 2 reveals that the Geth are actually several hundred programs in one sentient mobile platform. The bigger the mobile platform, the more programs contained within, and therefore, the smarter the individual mobile platform. They also become smarter when more programs are clustered together, hence why Primes buff units near them.
Subverted by Legion, who is the smartest individual Geth platform thus far, having over a thousand programs in it. It's only the size a standard Geth Trooper. However it was specifically designed to be that way so the Geth could have an effective single agent.
In the DLC "Lair of the Shadow Broker", the eponymous Shadow Broker is a member of the Yahg species. He towers over nearly all the characters in the series so far, and is equally broad. The confrontation with him starts with him performing an epic Slouch of Villainy behind his desk that disguises his true height; when things get serious, he pushes away from the desk and stands up... and up... while Shepard's party looks on.
The third game reveals that Harbinger, the Reaper semi-encountered in the second, is in fact the oldest, largest, and most powerful Reaper, and is also their leader (excluding the Catalyst).
In Aquaria, every single boss is at least 3 times as big as Naija, the protagonist. Most are a lot bigger. It's also carried to its logical conclusion— the [humanoid] Final Boss, The Creator, is so gigantic that his eye is almost as big as Naija herself.
Captain Syrup in the first two Wario Land games was an Aversion of this trope, but the BigBads in the later games from Wario Land 3 and onwards certain fit this profile (especially Rudy the Clown and the Shake King)
Toyotomi Hideyoshi in Sengoku Basara is a towering guy comparable to a gorilla. Obviously, he is one of the more ruthless leaders of the game.
In Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, the opponents are at least twice as tall as Little Mac (they don't call him little for nothing).
The Wii version tones down the height advantage that opponents have over Mac, but they don't tone down the weight advantage. Mac weighs in at 107 pounds. Glass Joe, his first opponent, weighs in at 110 lbs. Von Kaiser, his second opponent, weighs in at 144 lbs, and Disco Kid, his third opponent, weighs in a 210 lbs! In real life, that's several weight classes apart! Then there's King Hippo, who's weight and height are listed as "???".
In the old Amiga platformer Shadow Of The Beast, most bosses (and some mooks) were large, but the final boss? All you see of him is his foot, and his club-wielding hand that tries to crush you. You defeat him by repeatedly punching his big toe.
In Halo Wars, there's Arbiter Ripa 'Moramee, who easily dwarfs his fellow Elites. That's saying something when almost your entire species is already larger than 7 feet tall supersoldiers.
The Didact, the military leader of the Forerunners, is probably one of the largest character in the entire Haloverse. In fact, Forerunner society in general seems to run like this, with individuals acquiring new mutations that make them even larger as they advance in rank; Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting's father, a fairly high-ranking Forerunner, was about 4 meters (aka roughly 13'1") tall.
In Devil May Cry, Mundus, the demon king, is by far the largest demon Dante has to face.
Hardly. DAH SAVYAH is at least twice his height, the Leviathan is so large that Dante can spend an entire stage running around its innards, while Echidna and the building demon in DMC 2 could give him a run for his money.
It's no wonder that Chieftain from Elite Beat Agents is the lead character in the hard difficulty, being impressively tall and everything.
In Drakan: The Ancients' Gate, Arohk lampshades this on the way to optional boss Snotmaw's territory: "Since he's a chieftain, I'm guessing he's a very large wartok. Their system of government isn't particularly complex."
Warhammer Online's redesign of the city sieges pits boss NPCs against each other. The Warlords are twice the size of a normal player (despite being characters that, in the original tabletop game, were normal man-sized), whereas the King NPCs are both roughly three to four times the height of a normal man. including the Emperor Karl Franz, who is very much a normal human. Still, it helps to a) justify his one-on-one fight with the monstrously huge and mutated Daemon Prince Tchar'Zanek and b) pick him out as a target...
In Dragonshard, the Captains are much larger than the rest of their squads.
In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Redd White is the CEO of Bluecorp, and a pretty big guy. This is supposedly because the episode he appears in was originally going to be at the beginning of the game, and that the creator wanted the first villain of the game to be "tough".
A slight subversion in Ratchet & Clank: The Big Bad and final boss, Chairman Drek, is very small, but uses a big machine in the final boss fight. Also subverted in the second game of the series - the final boss is a little pet...turned gigantic.
In Titan Quest the special monsters tends to be bigger than the other soldiers, while the hero-monsters are even larger. This is expecially evident with the Satyrs, Jackal-men, Croc-men and Dragonians.
All of the bosses in RuneScape's God Wars Dungeon are like that. The race of birdmen is led by a giant birdman, different from the others due to having his arms attached to the wings (possibly to aid in moving them). The general morass of goblins, ogres and such greenskin is led by a member of the nearly-extinct Ourg race, looking like a typical giant orc. The evil god's demons are led by a large demon, too. Only Saradomin's forces are led by an angelic being instead of a giant, not that much larger than a human. She's a member of an extinct race too, though.
Tarka males go from "scaly monkey" to "scaly ape" after the Change, which also enables them to enter the highest echelons of power.
Hiver Princes can vary in size depending slightly on their mother, but most of them are intended to do battle for a princess' favour and tend to be larger and more powerful than warriors.
Liir never stop growing, so their elders can be positively huge. The extreme of this are the Suul'ka, Great Elders who are larger than Leviathans.
The major villain of Pirates of the Caribbean Online, Jolly Roger, is about 10 feet tall. Aside from some walking trees on a remote island, he is easily the largest opponent in the game.
Ugh-Zan III, the Final Boss of Serious Sam: The First Encounter. While the biggest enemy you've faced so far is 50ft tall at the very most, his height is 330 feet. And he's just as bulky as he is tall.
The boss in Minubeat is four times as big as the enemies you've faced up to this point, as well as significantly creepier and looking like a cybernetic face rather than a square.
Orlok The Eternal is the field commander for the Hierarchy in Universe At War, and he's about 5 stories tall.
The Overlord is over twice the height of his impish minions, being human (or at least close enough). There's also King Melvin of the halflings, an extreme case of Adipose Rex.
Most of the Qunari in the Dragon Age series are already pretty big guys, standing seven or eight feet tall and being built like a bull (except for human and elven converts, of course). Their military leader the Arishok is even larger and more muscular, with larger horns as well.
The comic Those Who Speak proves that this is likely just a coincidence, however, and size alone is not the only deciding factor in who is Arishok. Your old companion Sten becomes the new Arishok after the death of the one in Dragon Age II, and while he's large compared to a human, he's not large for his race and is completely hornless.
Played straight in Pokemon Black And White by Team Plasma. "King" N is five foot eleven (1.8 meters), putting him One Head Taller than the player characters, albeit slender in build. His father Ghetsis tops six and a half feet (2 meters even)... and going by the fact that he apparently wears forty pounds of metal on his neck for the entire first game, he is probably not lightly built.
OFF: Though all the guardians (even Japhet, though not at first) follow this somewhat, Enoch's by far the most noticeable, as he somewhat resembles a rounder, much fatter, and much bigger Elsen, who'll get enormous when he's actually serious.
Barry Heterodyne, Baron Klaus Wulfenbach, Master Payne and the Jager Generals from Girl Genius.
Last Res0rt takes this to its logically ridiculous extremes by making the Vaeo Family 7-foot-tall lizards compared to the rest of the cast, and then TOP that by introducing Veled (head of the Celigan Military), who measures just under 10 feet tall.
In fact, the main subversion is Jigsaw Forte herself: she's the smallest Executioner of the four. The other executioners are a reasonably sized human, a large lion-like centaur, and an alien creature commonly mistaken for a Horse.
Fa'Lina from DMFA is head of SAIA, and towers over most of the cast. However this is her smaller form, as Clan leaders are shown to be 'naturally' much larger.
Homestuck's Skaia Battleground is based on a chess game, except both Kings are mutated humanoids the size of mountains, each wielding a scepter the size of a building. Their enormous size comes from the scepter; when the White King gives up his scepter, he shrinks to the size of a largish humanoid.
Also, Lord English, the leader of The Felt. He's not the size of a mountain, but he's at least ten feet tall.
King Adelaide of the Basitin from TwoKinds. Basitins are generally between 5ft and 5’6. Adelaide is about 8ft.
Optimus Prime and Megatron from Transformers, with the exception of the gestalts and a few very big Transformers like Tidal Wave or Metroplex.
Particularly jarring in Beast Wars, after Optimus Primal carries the spark of the original Optimus and his body mutates as a result. He gains several "traditional" transformer-style attributes, and he towers, being about half the size of the original Autobots and about double the size of the Maximals, including Rhinox, who turns into a rhino.
Earlier seasons offered a subversion- Dinobot was head and shoulders taller than Optimus Primal, and Rhinox was equally as large if not larger. Late season two, Rampage is much larger than Megatron, who really doesn't need size to be scary... it just helps.
Ditto for Ultra Magnus, especially in Transformers Animated. The same series has a similar subversion to Beast Wars in that the leader of both the main Decepticon and Autobot cast have a leader who is only the second largest, being smaller than the The Big Guy and The Brute of the group.
Unicron is the size of a small planet.
Primus IS a planet.
Very apparent in Beast Machines - the Vehicon generals are each about twice the size of their respective drones.
Goliath from Gargoyles is the largest gargoyle in his clan (though Hudson and Broadway come close), and its leader as well. However, his hand-picked successor, Brooklyn, is the second-shortest of them.
And in the first episode, they are seen handing out invasion assignments based on physical height. Ending with sending the shortest applicant to the "home of the slaughtering rat people", after not sending an earlier applicant there because he looked taller. (That earlier applicant instead went to the planet that housed the universe's comfiest couch.) Zim himself is just about as small as this last applicant.
From My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic we have Princess Celestia. Not only taller than all but the largest of her subjects by at least one time and a half, she has a monstrously large wingspan and a horn much larger than than any other unicorn. To a lesser extent, the same also goes for her younger sister Luna, who is effectively the second-in-command of Equestria.
Seems to be the case with the Worms in Men In Black; the few leaders we see are several times the size of the Worm Guys regulars. "I am large and in charge" is even a favorite phrase of the Worm King when he's learning English.
The Bug Queen counters this by saying she's larger!
Historically, wealthier and more important people had better access to nutritious food, like meat, which allowed them to grow larger and stay fitter than the ill-nourished masses. Not having to work physically for a living could also make them much fatter.
The Leadership bit is also often justified in that, as Terry Pratchett so succinctly and accurately put it in one of the "Disworld" books (roughly paraphrased here): "For much of history in a great many places the leader was he who could kill the most enemies." While there certainly were some very talented, effective, and deadly leaders who were smaller men, being large often does help one with this.
Emperor Charlemagne of the Sacred Roman-German Empire was 6ft 4in (1.93m), far taller than average at the time.
Edward I of England was 6'2 (188 cm), towering over most of his contemporaries; that's why he got the nickname "Longshanks". His height, combined with his fierce temper made him a very intimidating man.
It's Older Than Feudalism. In art history, drawing the most important people larger than their subordinates is called hierarchical proportion. In ancient Egyptian art, the pharaohs and gods tower over the lowly workers. If men are depicted with their wives or children, the other members of the family are often at knee height.
El Cid Campeador is known to have been 1.75m tall, well above the average for his time and country.
Czar Peter the Great was over two meters (6'6) tall, though quite skinny.
More recent: The late King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV of Tonga stood an impressive 6'5" and weighed 440 lbs.
William Wallace is often portrayed as especially tall, if not a giant.
There's considerable debate about this, because primary sources about Wallace have been so hard to come by. The poet Blind Harry, in his The Acts and Deeds of Sir William Wallace, Knight of Elderslie, credited him as being a giant, and many later writers viewed the poem as being close to fact. But the poem was written about 170 years after Wallace's death, and modern historians have found so many glaring errors in it (some of the battles described probably never even took place) that its value as history is no longer well-supported.
George Washington, the first American president, stood a little over six feet tall, an impressive stature for his time. Thomas Jefferson was even taller, though not as robust.
Abraham Lincoln is still the tallest president ever (6'4" aka 193 cms), living at a time where the average height was even shorter. He compounded his height with a tall stovepipe hat, which his statutory equal LBJ didn't bother with.
With one exception, all American presidents since Harry Truman have been taller than the average man (Jimmy Carter was average height). Yes, even George W. Bush, who despite often being depicted as short by political cartoonists is actually 5 ft 11 in (almost 180 cm) in height while the average American male is 5 ft 9.2 in.note This phenomenon may have been due in part to his father's six-foot-two height; people are supposed to be taller than their parents. Bush was very particular about not appearing short while running against the 6'4" John Kerry, since taller candidates usually do better in elections.note History records that Bush actually beat Kerry by a larger margin than he won against (six-foot-one) Al Gore in 2000. Of course, the Republican also had incumbency on his side, and many Democrats have referred to Kerry as one of the least electable individuals they could have picked in 2004.
William Howard Taft is best known for his weight while in office as president. He actually lost about 80 lbs after leaving office.
James Madison is a subversion. He was about 5'4" tall and probably weighed less than 100lbs.
The French Republic had Charles de Gaulle and Jacques Chirac.
Some of the French kings were well above the average height of their time. Francis I was nearly 2m tall, his son Henri II and grandson Charles IX reaching 1,80m, and Louis XVI was 1,90m.
The July Monarchy had prime minister Casimir Perier, whose 1.86m made him eight to ten inches taller than the average Frenchman. He knew how to use it in order to intimidate his opponents, at times.
Though those who have seen Arnie in person can attest that, impressive musculature notwithstanding, he is not, in fact, a particularly tall man...
He is 6' to 6'2" (1.82 to 1.88m) depending on what source do you believe, above average but not gigantic.
The phrase "big man" is often used to indicate the man in charge. Anthropologists have reported that among some of the tribes that they've studied, the word for leader often literally translates to "big man."
E.g. Sumerian "lugal", the word for "king", is composed of the morphemes "lu", meaning "man", and "gal", meaning "large".
Mikheil Saakashvili, president of Georgia, is a giant compared to most Georgians - he stands 6 feet, 4 inches in height.
Helmut Kohl, maybe the most competent Chancellor of Germany to date, is 193cms (6ft 4in) tall and over 300lbs.
Malcolm Gladwell reports in the book "Blink" that the average height of a CEO for a Fortune 500 company is 6 feet - American average is 5'9". And while only 2% of American males are above 6' 2", almost a third of the CEOs are. Gladwell concludes that people have a subconscious association of tall=good leader, much as many Americans have associations saying white male=good leader.
Men of the Mycenaean royalty and nobility were often 6 feet or taller, whereas the lower classes were...not very tall. This has led to debate over whether the upper class was merely better fed, or were a conquering race. Some German archaeologists have argued that they were Teutonic barbarians who rode in and took over the Mediterranean peoples in Greece.
Castle Hochosterwitz, in southern Austria, was overseen at one point in its history by a Burghauptmannnote castle champion/overseer, who stood at an astounding 2.25 metersnote about 7' 5". His armor is on display in the castle armory for visitors to see, alongside other suits of armor made to fit more ordinary-sized soldiers of the day — who were, incidentally, significantly shorter than modern-day folks. So this guy, imposing enough to the modern man, was a true giant among his contemporaries.
Armours and uniforms from the Late Middle Ages to Early Modern times, as shown in museums (from the Royal Armoury in Madrid to the Gravensteen in Ghent, Belgium) look like originally designed for men in the 1.65-1.75 m range. The fact most suits of armour also have a prominent belly does not mean, on the other side, they were fat - bulges in armour were necessary to deflect sword slashes.
Slovene president, Dr. Danilo Türk, is over 190 cms tall.
In the animal kingdom, being large and physically powerful is often what nets you the best territory, along with the most females.
This also applies to many female animals, social insects being the most prominent.
Frederick I of Württemberg was almost 7 feet tall and weighed around 400 pounds. When he held negotiations with Napoleon Bonaparte in 1805, his courtiers and subjects were quite anxious and even afraid, because the two rulers were comically mismatched in size, and the resulting awkwardness could have killed the talks. Fortunately, Napoleon was totally cool with being four heads lower than his vis-a-vis, recognizing Frederick as King of Württemberg and forging an alliance.
King Harald Hardrada of Norway - one of the three claimants to the throne of England in 1066 - was famously tall. Not that it did him any good in the end, even in the pre-battle negotiations: when asked how much land he would cede to Harald in exchange for peace, King Harold of England (as told in Heimskringla) supposedly answered: "Six feet of English earth - no, seven feet, since he is so much taller than other men." And then made good on that boast at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, where Hardrada and most of his men were killed.
There wasn't any doubt who was in charge on the basketball court when Shaquille O'Neal (all 7'1", 325 pounds of him) was playing.
The same goes for Wilt Chamberlain (same height). There has never been, and probably never will be, another player who could dominate a game so completely.
Yao Ming is even taller than Shaq, at 7'6". During his playing days, he was the tallest in the NBA.
Osama bin Laden's impressive height of between 6'4'' and 6'6'' was considered well-known and distinctive enough that, in the raid that ended his life, the American troops actually used his height as an impromptu initial means of confirming his identity in the dark conditions of his compound.
Though not as extreme, William the Conqueror stood 5'10" (178 cm) tall, well above average height for the period, and was apparently quite muscular as well. His most well known foe, Harold Godwinson, was also reportedly quite tall.
American Civil War general William "Bull" Nelson stood at 6'4" (195cm) tall and weighed about 300 pounds (136kg). He was quoted as saying "You needn't worry about the enemy, boys, for if they can't hit me, they can't hit the side of a barn."
Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, British professional soldier and Canadian nation hero of the War Of 1812 stood between 6'3" and 6'4", and broadshouldered and heavily built to boot. Coupled with his bright red coat, shoulder epaulets, and enormous hat, and he made for an imposing sight on the battlefield. This is what ultimately got him killed during the Battle of Queenston Heights, while leading his men in a charge.
On the American side of the war, Winfield Scott, future hero the Mexican War, and eventual Commander-in-Chief of the American Army, stood 6'5", and was quite heavy later in life.