"I attempted to rise, but was not able to stir; for, as I happened to lie on my back, I found my arms and legs were strongly fastened on each side to the ground, and my hair, which was long and thick, tied down in the same manner. I likewise felt several slender ligatures across my body, from my arm-pits to my thighs. I could only look upward; the sun began to grow hot, and the light offended my eyes. I heard a confused noise about me, but, in the posture I lay, could see nothing except the sky. In a little time I felt something alive moving on my left leg, which advancing gently forward over my breast, came almost up to my chin; when, bending my eyes downward as much as I could, I perceived it to be a human creature not six inches high, with a bow and arrow in his hand, and a quiver at his back."
little people. Lilliputians
are humanoid characters whose main characteristic is that they are very, very small. Like, up to your knee small. Size of your thumb small. Size of an ant
This may be the result of a shrink ray experiment gone wrong
, but it's most likely the natural size of these beings, in which case they probably live in a Mouse World
. Whatever the case, you can be assured that life for these guys is going to be tough, as every insect is a threat, every step up a staircase is a colossal climb, and nobody ever
watches where they're stepping.
is a subtrope, for when these guys kick ass despite fitting in the palm of a hand. Keep in mind these aren't The Fair Folk
—fairies already have their own tropes. Regular-sized people who shrink down and then revert to normal size fall under Incredible Shrinking Man
; this is for naturally small humanoids. Contrast Our Giants Are Bigger
, to whom we
are the Lilliputians.
Not to be confused with Liverpudlians
Anime and Manga
- The Littl' Bits, a children's anime series from 1980, shown stateside on Nickelodeon.
- Chara in Shugo Chara! sleep in eggs and hang out in a dollhouse while their humans are at school.
- Doraemon: Nobita's Little Star Wars where an alien race are doll sized.
- The Shaman King anime/manga has little people called Minutians in the American dub.
- The Borrowers in The Secret World Of Arrietty.
- The dwarves in One Piece, tiny and cute people with long pointy noses, and fox-like tails. They are also insanely fast and powerful despite their size.
- Spinning off from the folk examples, the comic Fables has a town inhabited by actual Lilliputians who escaped the Homelands and joined up with other tiny folk heroes. They double as Lilliputian Warriors, especially when mounted on rodents as the Mouse Patrol. The name of the new village they formed? Littletown. (Smallville got outvoted.)
- People from the Bottled City of Kandor in the Superman mythos.
- The Smurfs are consistently described as 'three apples tall' (the French way of saying they're 'knee-high to a grasshopper'). Gargamel can hold several in one hand as if they were a bunch of small action figures.
- The tiny marker sniffers in Dilbert used to be normal people, but then they were... downsized.
- The inhabitants of Dimension X from Ed The Happy Clown by Chester Brown in his comic Yummy Fur, who look nothing like they do in this deliberately cheesy cover.
- A Calvin and Hobbes strip involves Spaceman Spiff landing on an alien planet, to find himself standing on tiny geometric farmland, and comes across a sprawling metropolis with skyscrapers an inch tall. This leads him to reflect that human size is by no means a standard for alien life... and of course, a blimp-sized monster appears to menace Spiff.
- Marvel Comics' Tim Boo Ba and his army.
- In the Sword of the Atom minis from the '80s, Ray Palmer came across an alien race stranded on Earth who'd been miniaturised by white dwarf star matter, and lived with them for a while. This being a pulp fantasy style series, they had some Lilliputian Warriors mixed in.
- One issue of What's New? With Phil And Dixie shows the title characters duking it out with inch-tall gaming miniatures. Phil wakes up tied to his bed with string, a la the original Lilliputians, at the end.
- The brownies from Willow.
- The Rhetons in The Phantom Planet are humanoid but very small.
- The Men in Black movies. In the second movie an entire colony lives in Kay's locker.
- Eddie Murphy's Meet Dave.
- Flight of the Navigator. Several of the alien specimens in the starship are rather small: the size of a human finger or so.
- Critters - until they eat enough, that is!
- The stitchpunks in the short film and movie of 9.
- Octavius and Jedediah in Night at the Museum. Also, their fellow Romans and Cowboys, respectively.
- The Leafmen and the Boggans from Epic .
- These guys are pretty common folk heroes around the world: Thumbelina, Tom Thumb, Thumbling and the Japanese Issun-boshi were all said to be about the size of a thumb (who'd have guessed?).
- Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels is the Trope Namer, giving us Lilliputians, said to be around six inches tall. They're so popular "lilliputian" is actually a dictionary word that means "very small."
- Note that when Gulliver travels to Brobdingnag, he becomes the Lilliputian: Lilliputians are smaller than us at a 12:1 ratio, and humans are smaller than Brobdingnags at the same ratio. Yes, lampshaded by the intellectual protagonist. Also similarly, "brobdingnagian" is in the dictionary too. Guess what it means?
- Someone actually did a study on the metabolism of Liliputians assuming their anatomy is Like Reality Unless Noted, and found that not only would they be as mayflies to humans, but we couldn't even hear them speak.
- The Borrowers, the protagonists are small humans just a few inches tall, who secretly live under the floorboards of a normal-sized human's house.
- In the book Adventures in Legoland, the LEGO people are like this when they come to life at night.
- The Helmacrons in Animorphs.
- Mistress Masham's Repose by T.H. White is essentially a piece of Gulliver's Travels fanfic centered on a girl who finds a group of Lilliputians who've taken refuge on her decaying ancestral estate.
- The Littles by John Peterson is a series of children's books that's very similar to The Borrowers.
- The Carpet People and The Bromeliad by Terry Pratchett.
- The nomes in The Bromeliad actually follow the square:cube rule, unlike the Lilliputians, with the result their lives and speech are both very, very fast by human standards.
- The Micronauts novel series by Gordon Williams (not to be confused with the toy line or comics of the same name). A group of miniturised clones created Twenty Minutes into the Future as an experiment to deal with overpopulation who attempt to establish a working colony in the grounds of an estate.
- The miniature warriors of The Lilliput Legion, one of the novels of the Time Wars series.
- Stuart Little meets one of these in the book.
- The people in Alice in Wonderland
- The 1980s Strawberry Shortcake books indicated that Strawberry and her friends are tiny people living in the berry patch of a nearby farm. The upcoming CGI series also has them as this small, although the early 2000s series did not.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy describes an alien race that travels across the galaxy to declare war on our planet. Due to an unfortunate size miscalculation, the alien fleet is eaten by a small dog.
- Dying Earth has the Twk-Men, who ride insects and exchange information for tiny measures of salt.
- In one of the Flat Stanley sequels, Stanley and his family travel to an alien planet very similar to Earth, but everyone's front lawn is approximately the size of a postage stamp.
- Infinity Beach, a 2000 science fiction novel by Jack McDevitt. The protagonist only realizes halfway through the novel that a 'model' spaceship is (unknown to its owner) a real spaceship brought back from an unsuccessful First Contact a decade before.
- The Isaac Asimov short story Youth has two boys capturing a couple of small aliens in the belief that they're unusual animals. Fortunately the aliens are smart enough to realize that harming the children would be a bad idea, so they just wait for adult humans to discover them. In the end, it is revealed the captives are the humans.
- Spoofed in the short story Matter of Magnitude by Al Sevcik. Earth has a mile-long battleship which it uses to enforce galactic peace, but it's forced to withdraw when it makes First Contact with an alien race whose spaceship they can't detect — it's only afterwards they realise that's because the alien spaceship is only an inch and a half long.
- Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures features a lost city of a species that fits. Said city - a veritable metropolis - is so small it fits under a single leaf.
- Lindsay Gutteridge's Cold War in a Country Garden describes the troubles of a spy whose first mission, after being shrunk to Lilliputian size, is to survive in his own garden - before being sent behind the Iron Curtain.
- The Whos down in Whovile, from Horton Hears a Who!.
- And the Grinch.
- Mites, the characters from Nikolai Nosov's Adventures of Dunno series of Soviet children's books are a lilliputian people living in a Ghibli Hills-esque Mouse World (that's Earth mites. Mites from the Moon live in a capitalist Wretched Hive).
- James Blish, in the novella "Surface Tension," has microscopic humans, produced by genetic engineering. The physics is addressed very realistically, and the biology was not out of question when the story was written, but Science Marches On; their cells were the size of viruses, but we didn't know much about viruses, or a lot about cells for that matter, when the story was written.
- Aside from the occasional naturally small alien species, one prominent example in Perry Rhodan is the quite human colony world Siga — whose inhabitants shrunk over successive generations due to a strange mutagenic component of their green (!) sun's hyperdimensional spectrum all the way down to only several inches tall. Their traditional in-series hat is being talented engineers and technicians (especially in the area of miniaturization, of course), but several named Siganese characters definitely cross over into Lilliputian Warrior territory as well.
- The littlepeople Hem and Haw in Who Moved My Cheese, a story about adapting to change, are as small as the mice Sniff and Scurry.
- Also the "teeny people", "punypeople", and "loyal employees" in parodies. The "About the Author" page in Who Cut The Cheese by Stilton Jarlsberg places them at six inches tall.
- The Twilight Zone episodes "The Fear" (a giant alien turns out to be a huge balloon controlled by a pair of very small aliens) and "The Little People": Two astronauts discover extremely tiny aliens living on an asteroid (inspired the Treehouse of Horrors example).
- The Outer Limits Original Series episodes "The Zanti Misfits", "The Invisibles", "Don't Open Till Doomsday", "Corpus Earthling".
- Sid and Marty Krofft Productions gave us Dr. Shrinker.
- Star Trek: The Original Series. The aliens in "Catspaw" only look human because of their transmuter. Without it, they're very tiny, and very alien. Also "The Trouble With Tribbles", and "Is There In Truth No Beauty" (Medusans).
- The Collector: "The Miniaturist" revolves around mute lilliputians given to a miniature maker by the Devil, which he tries to raise in a society better than the one outside.
- Pikmin in its entirety. The first game's protagonist Captain Olimar, and by extension all of Hocotate's inhabitants, are only about 1.5 inches tall, about the size of a coin. The aforementioned Pikmin are no bigger; about 4 of them being needed to carry a small bottle cap.
- The Minish from The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, used to Handwave the presence of Rupees and Hearts under rocks throughout the series.
- In NationStates Issue #29 "Minorities Demand Representation In TV Soaps", the nationality of the person in Option 1 is described as "Lilliputian".
- Issun and his village in Ōkami are the size of bugs and live away from civilization in the frozen north. They are known as Poncles in-universe.
- Torin's Passage: One layer of the world is filled with them. Torin needs to whisper when talking to them.
- You can visit the actual island of Lilliput in AdventureQuest. The Lilliputians help you fight a giant during that quest.
- Some Final Fantasy games feature a spell effect called "mini" that shrinks a target down to fun size. The fifth installment even features a Blue spell with this effect called "Lilliputian Lyric", and the fourth game contains a village inhabited by mini'd townsfolk.
- Flabébé is the smallest Pokémon known so far, being about as small as a Joltik and weighing about as much as a Gastly.
- In one Treehouse of Horror episode of The Simpsons, Lisa accidentally creates life when the tooth she soaks in cola gets zapped. The resulting highly intelligent lifeforms are this.
- The Simpsons successor Futurama did it months prior to South Park when Bender gets lost in space. Bender is attached by tiny space humanoids (Shrimpkins) who built a civilization and worships Bender as a god.
- The Twillerbees from Barbie Presents Thumbelina
- George Shrinks
- Hanna-Barbera produced its own Gulliver series in the late 1960s.
- The World of David the Gnome: Justified in that, well, they're gnomes.
- One episode of Mighty Max starts with reports of a swarm of beetles ruining a small village. Turns out they are actually tiny alien scouts, clearing the area for one of their diplomatic ships to land. Hey, the aliens left a note saying they would come back later (it's in a language no one alive can read, of course.) The aliens want Earth's toxic and radioactive waste; it's apparently an extremely valuable commodity where they come from. Win-win for Earth, Max, and the aliens.
- The Great Gazoo from The Flintstones.
- Galvans (AKA "Greymatter") from Ben 10.
- Tom and Jerry Blast Off To Mars. The Martians are Little Green Men the size of Jerry the mouse.
- One episode of the animated series Krypto the Superdog featured a couple of tiny aliens.
- The Minutians from an episode of My Life as a Teenage Robot.
- The (unnamed) aliens from Chibi Robo, which are only about the size of the protagonist himself.
- Once Danger Mouse found himself surrounded by massive alien battleships out to conquer Earth... until they show themselves and turn out to be tiny. They call off the invasion after learning that most Earthlings are much bigger than DM.
- Jimmy Two-Shoes actually has two named races: the Gnomans and the Racing Bugs. There are also several other citizens of Miseryville like this. Dorkus is even smaller than Heloise.
- ThunderCats (2011) has the plant based Petalars.
- Team Umizoomi could be considered a team of Lilliputians. Bot is a non-"human" example.
- The Paw Paw Bears are this: tiny bears slightly less tall than a dandelion.
- Orion's Arm: The artificial Clade Nisse is actually a straight example and a deconstruction of the trope, describing the difficulties in packing a sapient('sophont') intelligence in such a small head and addressing the difficulties in keeping in body heat. They're 30cm tall on average.
- The inhabitants of the city beneath lane five of the Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex in Welcome To Night Vale.