In sci-fi and anime you have your Humongous Mecha
and you have ...this.
The Mobile Suit Human is a Mini Mecha
designed to look like everybody else (more or less), manned by a tiny (usually about rodent-sized) pilot who can operate it to blend in with the rest of the population without being noticed; or to make himself seem more impressive than he otherwise would be. Nobody is ever afraid of anything tiny if it's not a Killer Rabbit
Most often employed for comedic purposes, the pilot of the suit is usually revealed at one point or another, to the astonishment and shock or amusement of who or whatever is unfortunate enough to be the one to open it up or see inside it.
The trope name is a pun on Mobile Suit Gundam
A potential subtrope of the Monster Suit
. For stories that depict ordinary humans as metaphorically
controlled by tiny pilots, see Ghost in the Machine
. For humans who are in mobile life support robots, see Man in the Machine
. See Little Green Man in a Can
for different levels of alien and/or mecha.
For a more specific form of this trope, look to Totem Pole Trench
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Anime and Manga
- A bad guy in the Maze Megaburst Space OVAs.
- Baltro from Gash Bell is an example. It's a foot-tall demon with telekinesis (more specifically, it can telekinetically control anything that has a special kind of flower attached to it). So until its defeat at the end of the story arc, Baltro hides inside an enormous suit of armor that it controls with that power.
- Koral Q, the tokusatsu madon, also qualifies.
- The alien frogs in Keroro Gunsou use fake robot bodies when forced to interact with humans, although we still see their normal faces. Incidentally, Keroro usually appears disguised as a woman.
- Bleach has Mod-Souls, which are small consciousnesses that take the form of small yellow pills. There are also gigais, which Shinigami commonly use to interact with ordinary living humans. Combine the two (as they did in the Bount arc), and you get this trope.
- Nemu Kurotsuchi, is a Canon implementation of this concept. But unlike the mod-souls of the Bount arc, her artificial soul is permanently attached to her artificial body.
- A fantasy application of this trope: In the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, Envy's real body is revealed to be a small monster fetus thing that can generate or hijack a more human shell around itself.
- Similarly, Father's apparent body is actually a container for a small amorphous blob-like creature which can't survive outside its container.
- In both of these cases, their true forms are the reasons for their villainy. Envy deeply envies humans despite his vocal disdain for them, hence why he disguises himself as a human most of the time. Father desires freedom after spending his entire existence trapped in a container. Father seeks godhood because he believes that is the only way he can be truly free.
- In Space Pirate Mito the Titular character is about the size of a human third grader, and resembles one. Her battle suit is of a normal-sized shmexxy woman. Hilarity Ensues when she has to leave it and it splits in half. So traumatizing for her son.
- It's later revealed that all mail suits are modeled after the same woman, giving her son yet another shock when the Big Bad's helmet comes off, revealing the same face as his mother.
- Imoko, usually a small floating thing in Sora O Kakeru Shoujo, has a "Maid-Droid" human-sized robot◊ that she can be seen using. Though she doesn't use the Maid-Droid very often.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! has the Life Size Host Robot Body Sayo-chan I that Haruna created for Sayo to pilot from its abdominal cockpit with her voodoo doll so she can form a Pactio with Negi. It also comes equipped with Eye Beams, Rocket Punch, and torso-mounted Gatling Guns.
- The cockpit design is even a Shout Out to Mobile Suit Gundam, it's exactly the same as the orignal Gundam, Guncannon, and Guntank, complete with the bulky fold-out targeting computer.
- There's also Chichigami, a fairly short mercenary who pilots the Paio II,a Mini Mecha that wasn't revealed to be such until later.
- A variant occurs in New Mazinger, an one-shot painted Mazinger Z graphic novel done by Go Nagai and released by Dark Horse Comics: the titular super-robot is blasted into a sword-and-sorcery world where he rescues a topless princess (this IS Go Nagai, after all) from invading lizard-men. When the princess attempts to offer herself to the mysterious knight to persuade him to aid her people, he reveals that he is a machine piloted by a human "just the right damn size for a pet!"
- In Super Dimension Fortress Macross, the Zentraedi are a humanoid species that stands 50 feet tall. The Humongous Mecha piloted by the humans are designed, on purpose, to be the same size. In one episode, one of the characters even steals a Zentraedi uniform and puts it on his mecha to pass as a member of the Zentraedi crew.
- The titular heroine of Kemeko Deluxe! is actually a Mobile Suit Human that's Bigger on the Inside.
- A strange, but almost direct play on this occurs in Basquash: actually the Humongous Mecha this show focuses on are later revealed to be created originally with the purpose to be a Mobile Suit Giant, allowing the humans to mingle easier with the race of the giants.
- An unusal variation in "Neon Genesis Evangelion"
- Gold Digger has the minor recurrers the Vaulton Force, a parody of the main cast of Voltron as Leprechauns defending a vault full of gold. Their title mecha is about six feet tall when combined.
- It can also combine with its support mecha to a far more powerful ultimate form!... that stands seven or eight feet tall.
- Top 10 features an intelligent talking Doberman Pinscher in a humanoid mechanical suit of armor.
- Hellboy villain Herman Von Klempt is simply a head in a jar. In the story Conqueror Worm he gains a robot body with the original biological head concealed in the chest.
- Also B.P.R.D. agent Johan Krauss, who's pretty much a cloud of gas in a pressurized suit.
- In the Marvel Comics' Retcon series Marvel: The Lost Generation, a Golden Age Brain in a Jar hero called the Eternal Brain was given a robot named Walkabout to provide him with mobility.
- The DCU's Mr. Mind (a tiny but very evil Venusian worm) has been seen to use large robots as bodies when he's not taking over humans.
- The Brain, from The DCU, went from, urm, being a brain to possessing a certain robotic supervillain later on, then professing his love to his French talking Gorilla, Monsieur Mallah....
- The Beezer (and later The Beano) had the Numskulls who controlled a real person, with various skulls in charge of different bodily functions.
- There were a number of similiar strips in other British Comics to The Numskulls with small variations the most common of which were changing the setting to a television rather than a human or having the characters inside the person be Germs. The Beano currently runs both The Numskulls and The Germs. 
- Number None, Nextwave's second Disc One Final Boss, turned out to be a robot piloted by a baby MODOK
- One strip of Calvin and Hobbes has Calvin imagining that this is what's going on inside of him as he trips down the stairs, and the ensuing panic that the tripping is causing among the crew. A later strip uses this as a metaphor for the phenomenon of dreaming, with the crew of Calvin's brain descending into the subconscious to gather random reels of tape and then playing them out of order.
- Early on, the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book introduced the Utroms, as species of vaguely brain-like aliens who, after being stranded on earth to to Mobile Suit Human exoskeletons in order to blend in with the population. Krang from the first cartoon was loosely based on this concept, although his own humanoid exoskeleton was decidedly not designed for blending in.
- Men in Black: The alien prince of the Arquillian Empire who had the Galaxy was piloting a Mobile Suit Human, the better to hide from enemies — and to pet his cat.
- Subverted with a side of Body Horror by the villain of the movie — while he is using a human guise for the majority of the film, referred to as an "Edgar-suit"; it's actually the skin of a farmer he killed in the beginning of the movie. Also could be considered an inversion, in that the "pilot" of the suit is somehow much bigger than the human he's pretending to be (or the ship he arrived in for that matter).
- Star Kid
- The 2008 Film Meet Dave, an Eddie Murphy vehicle, takes this to extremes, featured a suit that looked like... Eddie Murphy. And was captained by... a miniature Eddie Murphy (actually a tiny humanoid alien). And was also a spaceship with about a hundred crewmen, making it a Humongous Mecha at the same time.
- A truly excellent example in the Scooby-Doo movie. The villain turns out to be Scrappy inside one of these.
- Got a rare serious turn in Independence Day - the roughly human-sized alien invaders turned out to be biomechanical suits; the real deal were child-sized. They were implied to be physically weaker, but by no means disarmingly cute.
- In the novelization, it was explained that they're not just biomechanical suits... They were literally ANOTHER alien species that the Big Bad conquerors had defeated, found them to be useful, and TURNED THEM INTO THE SUITS! Or perhaps they somehow evolved some sort of symbiotic/parasitic relationship.. Psychic revelations like that tend to be unclear.
- In a very un-comedic example, the aliens in Dark City used corpses as Mobile Suit Humans.
- Done hilariously in a skit in the Woody Allen movie Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex, complete with a control center in the brain (infiltrated by a religious "spy" mid-coitus) and paratrooper sperm. Seriously.
- The main characters in Ratatouille played with this trope, one is a
pilot Chef and the other is an expert at being appearing human, at least at the beginning.
- According to The Art of Toy Story 2, the evil Emperor Zurg is actually a miniature alien in a suit of armor.
- Subverted Trope in Team America: World Police where there was a cockroach that was piloting Kim Jong Il.
- The Mote In Gods Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. A human spaceship is overrun by "Brownies" - monkey-like animals that breed like crazy and use advanced technology by instinct. When the humans evacuate the ship, several Brownies try to tag along inside a human space suit. They operate the limbs from inside, and put a severed human head into the transparent helmet for camouflage.
- In Bill the Galactic Hero, the Harry Harrison spoof of military sci-fi, Space Cadet "Eager" Beager turns out to be a Chinger spy living in the head of a human-looking robot. The Chinger aliens were presented as giant lizards in the official military propaganda, but they are actually seven inches tall.
- And an even earlier version comes from Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series; the Kaldanes are head-sized insectile beings who symbiotically live atop the bodies of Rykors, which resemble headless humans, connecting themselves to the Rykors' spinal columns to "drive" them.
- Animorphs features a subversion. Normally the Yeerks enslave humans by basically turning them into biological versions of this. Eventually an android captures one and places it in his skull, unable to enslave it the Yeerk is trapped in a Mobile Suit Human with no access to the controls.
- Broken Angels by Richard K. Morgan. A child is seen using the brain-dead body of a cyborg soldier this way; he rides on his back.
- Skool from the novel Un Lun Dun by China Miéville. For most of the story, he appears as a big strong human in a diver's suit. Turns out, the suit is actually full of water and inhabited by a school of fish, hence his name. Also, the mercenary Mr. Cavea's human body turns out to be just a suit. And the examples can go on.
- Man-Fac by Martin Caidin: the main character suffered crippling burns. He built a "Man-Facsimile" to allow him to get around. Although his body had been somewhat shriveled and shrunken by his injuries, the facsimile still needed to be of a very large man, seven feet tall or thereabouts, to fit him inside along with the mechanical muscles.
Live Action TV
- The short lived Saturday Morning show Los Luchadores had an evil chihuahua who operated a man-sized robot.
- In Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger, villain Sargain was a small, ant-like alien operating a man-sized armored robot. His Power Rangers Ninja Storm counterpart Zurgane didn't include this and was... uh, we're not sure (although his action figure incarnation did have a removable helmet showing the bug piloting the robo-suit, which surely confused a few fans unfamiliar with the original show).
- Kevin is purported to be one of these in an episode of The Office (US).
- The Teselecta, in the Doctor Who episode Let's Kill Hitler, is a shapeshifting humaniform robot piloted by miniaturized humans who traveled back in time to, you guessed it, kill Hitler.
- In a Meanwhile in the TARDIS extra.
Amy: "What kind of an alien (are you)?"
Doctor: "Well, a nice one; definitely one of the nice ones."
Amy: "So you're like a-a space...squid? Or something...are you like a tiny little slug in a human suit? (Doctor gives her a sour look) Is that why you walk like that?"
- A Sunday strip of Calvin and Hobbes had a fantasy spot in which Calvin was a Mobile Suit Human being operated by a crew of little Calvins.
- Though not mobile, the Mechanical Turk — an 18th century "chess-playing automaton", which was secretly operated by a man hidden in its base — is perhaps the closest Real Life has come to one of these. Its clockwork arm did move, via a complex series of levers.
- In the Trinity RPG by White Wolf the alien Qin use these, but most of the time it's subverted, since the suits, though human shaped, are obviously alien. They're just more practical for interacting with humans than their natural small 'furry squid/slug' form. In one particular plot a faction of Qin tried to use 'perfect human replica' suits to infiltrate a radical, racist, Slavic supremacist terror group, but only having a limited understanding of human culture, they used a suit modelled on an ethnic African appearance. Needless to say, Hilarity Ensued.
- Earthworm Jim is a foot-tall worm piloting an indestructible supersuit. A few scenes boot Jim out of his suit and he has to chase it down/endure the boss until he can reclaim it.
- Captain Commando has a playable character that is a super-intelligent baby riding a human-sized, headless robot. During the game, characters and enemies can ride other headless mechas, so you can have a baby riding a mecha that rides a mecha.
- In Meat Boy, Dr. Fetus sits in a mobile glass container. Which wears a tuxedo and a monocle and is occasionally able to fly.
- Cinema Bums features a strip where Mr. Potter from It's a Wonderful Life is actually one of these.
- Sluggy Freelance has Bun-Bun build human-sized mechanical costumes for himself and Kiki (a rabbit and ferret, respectively) so they can masquerade as Riff and Torg on Halloween and steal candy from Trick-or-treaters.
- Similarly, Frog's Frech (Frog-Mech), which parodies Darth Vader.
- Mechagical Girl Lisa ANT takes this to an interesting conclusion, as the heroine's Powered Armor was supposed to be a Humongous Mecha for its inventors.
- Sam Starfall of Freefall is a boneless squid-like creature occupying a humanoid suit that provides an exoskeleton to allow him to keep a humanoid form for interacting with a human world, walk on dry land, and provide him with a breathable atmosphere. As a bonus, the suit protects him from being added to the dinner menu of just about every terrestrial animal he encounters. And from what he firmly believes to be a human nurturing instinct (when they see his true form, they regurgitate their last meal.)
- It's necessary not only because of how Sam's looks. He also sweats ammonia.
- In It's Walky!, Alan is revealed to be an alien in such a suit.
- Pastel Defender Heliotrope's follow-up series To Save Her has an unusual inversion: Kaye is an amorphous blob who wraps herself around a skeletal armature to assume a humanoid form.
- Sin from Sam and Fuzzy, is one of these.
- A few angels from Blip used these near the beginning.
- Occasionally used by smaller species in 21st Century Fox, though mostly in emergency situations
- In Pv P, Scratch Fury turns the Ottobot into one of these. After learning to use it to (somewhat) convincingly pass himself as a human, he tries uses it to try to take over the Mayor's office. He's immediately thrown in jail, forcing him to leave the empty suit behind.
- In General Protection Fault Mr. Intertia turns out to be one of these operated by a pair of greys.
- Doctor Infanto, a supervillain active in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe is a super-intelligent infant who interacts with adults while wearing a "grown-up suit" that allows him the full range of motion that his still-underdeveloped body makes difficult. Imagine a baby's head on Arnold Schwarzenegger's body and you have the right idea.
- In the Whateley Universe, Rack fits this trope. He looks pretty much like a normal-sized guy in power armor. But he's really a small dwarf in Mobile Suit Human hardware that he built. He operates it using hand controls and telekinesis.