Dr. Venture: Some people just shouldn't breed. Those're some ugly kids.
Brock: Kids? You're kiddin' right? They're achondroplastic dwarves.
Dr. Venture: And they're almost as good as you or I and they deserve this camp as much as any kid here. You're such a racist.
Brock: They're not really a race, doc.
Will you listen to yourself, Hitler?
Just about every fantasy world has at least one race whose defining characteristic is that they're short. They typically fill the role of "comic relief" in an adventuring group (when they're not the protagonists), and often serve as the "cute" race in a Five Races
setup. Not always, though; the Little People
can be made to fit pretty much any of the Five Races
, with the exception normally being High Men (that spot's reserved for taller races, always). If any race of the Little People
is to be considered tall compared to the rest of those races, it's most likely gonna be a Dwarf
. Because they resemble a child, there's a good chance the Little People are magic users
, Christmas Elves
, and some Fairies
are specific subtropes. If these people are really
little and are the main characters, it is a Mouse World
; for other mouse-sized people, see Lilliputians
Not to be confused with Little People Are Surreal
, Depraved Dwarf
, or the animated series of the same name
. Should be distinguished from Real Life
little people, lest you sound like Dr. Venture above.
- The ancestral High Ones in ElfQuest were as tall as humans, being shapeshifting extraterrestrials, but over the course of time many of their descendants evolved into shorter forms.
- In Raymond Briggs' The Man, a young boy has to hide and look after a demanding and bossy little man.
- The Munchkins of Oz.
- Star Wars has Ewoks and Jawas.
- The Nelwyn, from the movie Willow.
- The Dark Crystal actually has two short-ish races, the smallish Gelfling and the even smaller "Pod People" (who look kind of like potatoes and live in big seed pods). Then again, there are no human characters, and everyone else is either a reptilian or a something like a very tall angel, so the scale isn't totally clear.
- Though not the comic relief variety,the beings from Superman And The Mole People (don't really fit the Mole People trope because they aren't rodent-like, just like tiny humans mostly)
- Pit Boss, a documentary series on Animal Planet that focuses on a talent agency based out of Los Angeles that specializes in and is run by little people that doubles as a non-profit pit bull rescue.
Mythology and Folklore
- Along with the Munchkins, there's also the people of China Country in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
- The Trope Codifier, of course, are J. R. R. Tolkien's Hobbits, and also Dwarves (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit).
- In works by Terry Pratchett, all the Little People tend to be violent and mean tempered.
- In Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles series, Doli, Gwystal and the rest of The Fair Folk are smaller than humans in size.
- Warrows in the Mithgar series by Dennis McKiernan fit here.
- The Little People in Robert E. Howard's and Arthur Machen's fiction (not related, but have very similar, if vague descriptions) are Always Chaotic Evil creatures that form a degenerate civilization in places where the Celtic people believed The Fair Folk to dwell, and occasionally kill people or rape women crossing their territory for no particular reason. The offspring born from the latter cases are always mentally retarded and physically at least slightly deformed, and they seem to subconsciously know the language of their fathers though how that is possible is never actually explained. There's more than a sprinkling of Reptiles Are Abhorrent associated with them as well, especially in the Howard story "Worms of the Earth".
- The Little People who work for Mr. Tiny in the Cirque Du Freak series. While the small, blue-hooded, (mostly) mute Little People are minor characters in the beginning, one of them, Harkat Mulds, quickly becomes a major character.
- Many mythical depictions of elves were like this (Santa's elves, for instance), until Tolkien repopularized the 'tall' elves of ancient myth into modern fantasy.
- Leprechauns, natch.
- Halflings and Gnomes serve this purpose in Dungeons & Dragons.
- The Dragonlance setting introduced the Kender, which served as a different take on the Little People at the time (even if it was considered the Scrappy race due to annoying players playing up the kender's natural curiosity, fearlessness, and kleptomania). This helped evolve the Halfling in later editions past "hobbits with the serial numbers filed off".
- The Dwarves of the D&D settings were short, but they don't fit the cute or childlike part of the trope. They tend to be characterized as dour, tough, and warlike, and they tend to make good fighter characters.
- The Ratlings of Warhammer 40,000, though they don't have much presence in the game besides being specialist snipers for the Imperial Guard.
- Also, before their tragic death by Tyranid, the fabled Squats.
- Warcraft also has Gnomes and Dwarves as its Little People.
- Also goblins, but their only comic trait is their tendency to make things go boom.
- Tarutaru in Final Fantasy XI take the cuteness factor, throw in some Verbal Tics, and aim for being as adorable and sweet as possible. Thankfully, the Narm-factor whenever they try and act serious is enough to make up for this.
- The Lilties in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles are a very small and cute race. They're also super-adorable (and can crossbreed with people). Oh, and they used to be The Empire and can be extremely hardy and gruff, are incredibly strong for their size, can forge some mean weaponry, and can hold a grudge with the best of dwarves. Do not cross a Lilty of you know what's good for you.
- The Lalafell in Final Fantasy XIV are a diminutive race of adorable childlike people that love their Added Alliterative Appeal. The Plainsfolk have a more standard history of being farmers and shepherds. But much like the Lilties the Dunesfolk of Ul'dah however live in a Wretched Hive of a Merchant City filled with blood sports, vicious gangsters, corrupt merchants, Loan Sharks, DirtyCops and is run by The Syndicate in a Deadly Decadent Court that undermine their Puppet King and they also have an added bonus of having a history of violent racial strife. Both versions however have a history of being carried off by Giant Flyers and tend to be the favorite food of larger monsters.
- The Legend Of Zelda Minish Cap gives you the titular Minish. Your Nice Hat / Exposition Fairy (who is a Minish himself, cursed by the Big Bad into said hat form) also doubles as a way to shrink down to their size, thereby enabling interaction with them.
- The comic relief bit is oh-so-averted in Arcanum. Gnomes are Corrupt Corporate Executives who organize the mass kidnapping and rape (by ogres) of human women to breed half-ogres for use as a bodyguard race.
- The yordles from League of Legends are short humanoids who come in a number of variants; some are furry and animal-like, such as Teemo and Rumble, while others are more like small humans, such as Corki and Poppy.
- The Firbits in Dark Chronicle are half the size of the protagonists, addicted to grape juice, and their eyes are always covered with hair or glasses. While relatively mature, they have a habit of lapsing into childish responses, not unlike the Moon Folk from the previous game.
- Everquest II has a vast array of little folks for players to take on, including five races (Fae, Arasai, Froglok, Gnome and Ratonga) who are half the height of humans or less!
- Koehnes (and the race of Sidhe she's from) in the Whateley Universe. She has just showed up on campus and set herself as servant to Fey despite the fact that Fey has a roommate and lives in a dorm.
- The Proles in Lucky Day Forever. This trope is used to show that they are the lower class of a society ruled by tall, rich Whites.
- Ben 10 has Galvans, Grey Matter's species. Ditto and Echo Echo also are really small, but not as small as Grey Matter, and they share the duplication gimmick. In a bit of a subversion, Galvans are the setting's High Men, ruling over a vast technological empire and being responsible for building most of the cool Imported Alien Phlebotinum, including one of the races Ben can turn into (Upgrade) and the Omnitrix itself.
- The Matoran and Agori of BIONICLE