Men are generally taller than women in Real Life; in fiction, it's practically codified that every such couple will have the man One Head Taller than the woman. (And if this is reversed, expect seeing Marshmallow Hells and Funbag Airbags). As transplanting traditional gender roles into same-sex couples is popular in fiction, the character who could be considered "dominant" (often more serious or reserved) in the relationship is often similarly taller than their significant other. Either way, being One Head Taller naturally allows you to tuck someone under your chin when surprising them with a hug. This rarely works the other way around, although the 'cutesy' partner being taller is usually a deliberate humorous device for the audience to notice. In that case, the grouchier counterpart is hugged the way one would a puppy. Usually, if the shorter partner is doing the hugging from behind, the arms will come around at about elbow-height, and the hugger will either rest their cheek against the huggee's back, or tuck their chin around an arm.
With some skill, this trope can give the illusion of characters being much older (or younger) than they actually are.
A noticeable exception are (arguably "dominant") Tsunderes, who are short. On the other hand, the act of cuddling is designed to show off their cute side.
This is an extremely pervasive trope in BL work, to the point where shippers drawing doujinshi will occasionally modify the heights of characters to make the taller Seme/shorter Uke stereotype work. An Onee-sama is also very likely to be taller than her relevant object of attention.
Bara Genre however, usually has the Seme "shorter and cute" while Uke "tall and handsome" instead.
Taking this to extremes gives you Huge Guy, Tiny Girl and Tiny Guy, Huge Girl.
Sachiko in Maria-sama Ga Miteru is quite a bit taller than Yumi, leading to the impression that their age difference is actually larger than it is.
Gravitation goes in the reverse, and simply makes Shuicihi much shorter than everyone. Granted, he's also the "bottom" of the relationship.
All of the canon love interests of Usagi—bubbly, cheerful, and easy-to-anger—in Sailor Moon are at least a head taller than her. The one who she ends up with is over a foot taller than her, and they play out the hugging tropes several times.
The Yaoi version of this is played quite straight with Seishirou and Subaru of CLAMP's Tokyo Babylon and X1999. Dom's Dom Seishirou is MUCH taller than submissive Subaru in Tokyo Babylon, when the former is at full (and considerable) adult height and the latter is only 16 and very slightly built. In X, 9 years have narrowed the difference, but adult Subaru is still almost a head shorter than Seishirou.
Éclair from Kiddy Grade is the taller one out of her team and is quick to act, but Lumière always manages to keep a cool head.
Although Negi Springfield from Mahou Sensei Negima! is usually shorter than 90% of his class (being 9½-year-old boy teaching 15-year-old girls), when he magically turns 15 while he and Asuna go on Not a Date (as she constantly reminds him and probably also herself ) in chapter 77, he is very much one head taller. On the other hand, when Negi is in his normal 10-year-old form he is two heads shorter than when in teen form which means Asuna is one head taller than him.
Kurogane and Fai, are differentiated in height like this. Both are quite tall, but Kurogane is a full head taller than Fai.
Watanuki, the protagonist of Tsubasa's sister series xxxHOLiC is an interesting example. Within his own series, he looks kind of scrawny, as he's shorter than his often-around classmate Doumeki, and is about the same height as his female employer Yuuko. But Watanuki is nearly a head taller than Syaoran. Which is odd, given that they are technically supposed to be the same person/the same existence/clones/twins... it's complicated okay?.
The 2 cm height difference between America and England tends to be exaggerated by both fanartists and the author himself. In fact, England is usually drawn much shorter than he actually is — according to the height info, he's the same height as France. (This is possibly because he is a Tsundere who's very reminiscent of The Napoleon.) This is sometimes justified by how much larger geographically the US is compared to the UK.
This trope is also evident with Germany and Italy, and is lampshaded.
Hungary is 160 cm while both of her suitors,Austria and Prussia, are 178.
Bean Bandit and Rally Vincent from Gunsmith Cats (platonic example). That it doesn't go into Huge Guy, Tiny Girl territory is testament to the fact that Rally is pretty tall herself.
Kaze to Ki no Uta plays this rather interestingly. At the start of the manga Serge and Gilbert are about the same height and size. However, a conveniently timed growth spurt ensures that by the time they actually get together Serge is noticably taller and larger built.
Allen from D.Gray-Man is only slightly taller than his probable love interest Lenalee (him being 169 cm, and her being 166 cm). But in line with this trope he is the youngest and shortest of the main male cast (with the next closest in height being Kanda at 177 cm), much to the delight of yaoi shippers.
Tail of the Moon and anything else by Rinko Ueda feature female leads who are just tall enough to sniff their lovers' armpits. This author routinely changes her character's height by several inches — or even feet — in order to facilitate a romantic pose.
This is in no small part the reason that Hiyori of Lucky Star ships Minami/Yutaka. Minami is 25 cm taller than Yutaka.
Inverted and then played straight in Fullmetal Alchemist. Winry seems only a tad bit taller than Ed, but this may be because she wears boots with slight heels for most of the first portion of the series. In fact, it seems like they're basically the same height, until chapter 84 that is. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he is getting taller... sorta. Ed finally manages the trope in the epilogue, when he proposes to Winry.
Inverted in the fujoshi fandom of Eyeshield 21 where one of the most popular pairings is Seijurou Shin and Haruto Sakuraba, which Sakuraba is very noticeably taller than Shin. However it's played straight with BL pairings with Sena Kobayakawa, who is pretty short compared to most football players in the series.
Haruhi of Ouran High School Host Club is considerably shorter than most of the cast (excluding Honey). Standing at a mere 5'1" (155 cm), her potential love interest Tamaki stands about a whole foot taller than her at 6' (183 cm; he's also the second tallest of the Hosts, Mori only a little taller at 6'4", or 192 cm). Even the twins Hikaru and Kaoru who are quite a bit shorter than Tamaki, Kyouya, and Mori are still about One Head Taller than Haruhi (and both stand at 178cm, or about 5'10").
For the record, Haruhi is only a few inches taller than Honey, who stands at 148 cm, or about 4'9".
Applies to Sora and Sunao, Yoru and Ran, and Shinichirou and Nanami in Sukisho.
Aoshi and Misao from Rurouni Kenshin practically define this trope. I mean, Misao barely reaches Aoshi's chest...
In Digimon Adventure 02, while Arukenimon is quite tall in her human form, her (non-romantic, though he sure would like to be) partner Mummymon significantly towers over her. The height different shrinks somewhat when they're in Digimon form, although Mummymon still has at least a head over her.
Liz, Patty, and Tsubaki are taller than their respective meisters (though this is possibly because they are older than them), with Maka being about the same height as Soul. Though, this is averted later in the manga when it is shown that Soul and Black*Star have gone through a growth spurt, and possibly Kid too.
Soul now appears to be a couple inches taller than Maka, but Black*Star isn't even Tsubaki's height yet.
The relative height of Simon and Kamina in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann helps to fuel Ho Yay speculation from fans. Most dramatically demonstrated in the first episode when Kamina hugs Simon and tenderly cradles Simon's head against his chest.
In Himitsu Kichi, Kana and her boyfriend. The funny part (or disturbing part for some) is that she is 18 while her boyfriend is a 6th grader. She's so short her boyfriend thought she was in elementary school too.
Iason is a little more than one head taller than Riki in Ai no Kusabi.
Jotaro/Kakyoin is a very popular slash pairing from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, and sure enough, of the five True Companions starring in Part 3, Jotaro is the tallest (tied with Joseph) and Kakyoin is the shortest.
In Attack on Titan, Ymir is about two heads taller than Christa. Of course, when Ymir's is in her titan form, she's hundreds of heads taller than Christa. A non-romantic, but Ho Yay, example would be Levi and Eren, Levi standing at 160cm or 5'2 and Eren standing at 170cm or 5'7, despite Levi being so much shorter, he's demonstrated he's immensely stronger than Eren; he's not Humanity's Strongest Soldier for nothing, those of the fandom that supports the pair goes against the "taller is dominant" part of the trope and Levi seems to top more often.
Comics — Books
The Joker and Harley Quinn — he's tall and lanky, while she's a petite (although not tiny) former gymnast. She barely reaches his shoulder, but that doesn't seem to be a problem because she's happy to climb all over him for a kiss should the opportunity arise.
Inverted with Nightwing. Both his two main pairings, Starfire and Barbara Gordon, are taller than him (Starfire almost by more than one head). Especially his New 52 incarnation.
New Gods: Mister Miracle and Big Barda, a married couple. He's average height. Superman has to hover a bit to look her in the eye.
And usually Wonder Woman and most of her love interests. DC apparently likes inverting this trope.
The Wookiee Groznik and his life partner Elscol Loro. When Elscol's husband saved Groznik from Stormtroopers, the Wookiee pledged a life debt to him. When he was killed in combat, after getting revenge by taking down the Imperial shuttle responsible with a rock, Groznik switched the debt to Elscol, and almost never left her side.
Psylocke from X-Men isn't exactly a shorty herself, but she still finds herself one head shorter in a relationship with Sabretooth. Of course, given it's Creed we're talking about, you're considered lucky when you reach as high as his collarbone.
The old Marvel collectible cards said Cyclops was 6'2", Jean Grey was 5'6", and Wolverine was 5'2". When Cyclops is shown kissing/holding Jean Grey, he is one head taller than she is. However, when Jean Grey is shown kissing/holding Wolverine, he is also one head taller than she is. And whenever Cyclops and Wolverine are shown together, Wolverine is much shorter than Cyclops. Apparently Jean's height varies in order to accommodate this trope.
Belarus and America. She's is 162 cm while he's 177.
Any guy with Taiwan.(Who is 150 cm in the old height chart by the way) Which make South Korea, two-heads taller than her.
Vietnam and Thailand, while their official height is not revealed, is also often portrayed like this in fanon as the former is mid 160 and the latter is little below 180.
Australia and New Zealand also get this treatment once in a while no matter what the latter gender is. This trope also get used when Australia is paired with England.(Despite Australia's height is slighty more than America.)
Almost everyone when paired with Netherlands will be this.
The Bridge gives both a straight and inverted example. All of the transformed kaiju are quite large once turned into their Equestrian forms. Godzilla and Spacegodzilla both being much taller than a normal stallion and easily a head taller than any Equestrian who's name isn't Luna or Celestia.
Inverted in the fact the two tallest of the six kaiju are female, Mothra and Destroyah. The latter of towers over the largest of the male transformed kaiju.
The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden, at somewhere around 6'9", fits with most of his actual or potential love interests, although Murphy at "5 feet and small change" is particularly notable.
An Earthly Knight by Janet McNaughton explicitly mentions that Jeanette is a head shorter than Tam Lin.
Mentally invoked by Menelaus in Count To A Trillion after Princess Rania's growth spurt: "He hated the fact that the top of her head no longer fit nicely under his chin when they hugged...It seemed obscurely unnatural, as if someone had made a mistake when putting the universe together."
Mix Beer With Liquor And You Will Get Sicker has a play with this trope, averting it for the most part. The protagonist Lauchlan (6'2") towers above his love interest Corbin (5'). Despite this Corbin’s forceful personality makes him the most dominant of the relationship, and will often climb or stand on things in order to nullify the height difference during intimacy. Intimacy aside, Lauchlan is often so cowed by Corbin’s temper that he forgets the height difference completely. He is often described shrinking down and backing away from Corbin, a subconscious attempt to make himself seem smaller and less threatening.
In Dragonseye, Zulaya is described as being taller than average for a woman, and has told her current mate, K'vin, she likes that he's a head taller (her previous mate was her own height).
Tangled Flynn Rider is one head taller than Rapunzel.
In The Incredibles, Bob Parr is just over one head taller than his wife. But in one brief fight between them, Helen grew taller than Bob without realizing it.
Films — Live-Action
Inverted and lampshaded in The Alibi, where the hero, after kissing his love interest at the end, notes "Actually, I've just realized; you're quite a bit taller than me, aren't you?"
In Back to the Future, the part of Jennifer was recast one of several times because the actress was taller than Michael J. Fox. Interestingly, it was the female crew which insisted Marty should be taller than his girlfriend.
Although in the Harry Potter books, Harry was supposed to be about a head taller than Ginny, Daniel Radcliffe manages to be just about the same height as if not a bit shorter than Bonnie Wright, as of Half-Blood Prince. Unfortunate they had no sure way of knowing it'd turn out like that when they were both first cast a decade earlier.
Obliquely referenced in Ocean's Eleven, when Saul objects to Tess's relationship with Terry Benedict on the grounds that "she's too tall for him".
Star Wars: Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala aren't that far apart — Hayden Christiansen is 6'1" (185 cm), Natalie Portman 5'3" (160 cm). However, had Padme survived episode III, she might not have believed Darth Vader was her husband — because his transformation to a cyborg was accompanied by a jump in height of about six inches, as the original Vader, David Prowse, was 6'7" (200 cm). For an idea of what a reunion would have been like, consider Princess Leia's (who took very well after her mother) and Vader's scenes together. The in-universe reason is that Anakin's new legs were bigger than his real ones, increasing his height (probably to make his look more menacing to his enemies).
For that matter, Leia and Han, given that Harrison Ford is about 6'1" (185 cm) and Carrie Fisher is about 5'1" (155 cm).
She has to look up for him to kiss her forehead!
Another more recent example with Natalie Portman is Thor. Chris Hemsworth is a exactly foot taller than her.
Whenever Rocky Balboa and Adrian are standing next to each other, the height difference is pretty noticeable. The top of her head comes up just over his chin, which makes her really short, as Sylvester Stallone is only 5'8".
Four Christmases had Vince Vaughn (6'5") and Reese Witherspoon (5'2") as its romantic leads. Witherspoon said that during a scene where they were dancing together, Vaughn was literally picking her up and carrying her. The movie's poster lampshades their height difference by showing the two standing back-to-back but with Witherspoon wearing five-inch heels and standing on a stack of boxes.
The height difference between Honey and Frisbee in A Song Is Born is lampshaded by the fact that she always has him get a stack of books for her to stand on before she can kiss him.
In The Mindy Project Mindy isn't too short-at 5'4, she's roughly average height for a women, but she's dated some tall men. Her first on-screen partner, Tom (played by Bill Hader) is 6'1, her casual sex partner Brendan is six feet tall, and her fiance, Casey (played by Anders Holm) is 6'4-she even says he's the tallest man she's ever dated. Its not too glaring most of the time, since Mindy often wears heels.
On the original Get Smart, Barbara Feldon was actually taller than Don Adams, which could have highlighted the comic nature of the couple, but the producers insisted their heights be "fixed". Most scenes of Max and 99 talking to each other were staged with Don standing on boxes while Barbara slouched. Their heights sometimes visibly change when they cut to a walking scene.
At one point she mentioned that she was the only actress in Hollywood with calluses on her ankles, as she would roll her ankles, throw out her hip, and bow her head to look as short as possible.
The X-Files. Agent Mulder noticeably towers over Agent Scully. This was the reason the Scully Box was invented, as David Duchovny is 6' tall, whereas Gillian Anderson is 5'2", meaning they couldn't be shot in a closeup frame unless she was standing on a box. Often if they were shot walking down the street, she was on the sidewalk while he was walking on the street itself, closing their height gap by a few inches.
Kang Hyuk from Flower Boy Ramyun Shop is over a head taller than Eun Bi, but he's nearly a head taller than everybody because he's an absolute giant.
iCarly inverted the general gender idea of the trope, then played it straight, with the same characters. Of course, this was because of the wonders of puberty. Freddie was very short in the first season, as he was barely 13 years old and might not have even hit puberty when they started filming. They ended up using Scully Box and/or giant platform shoes. Carly was the tallest in the early episodes, so any scenes where Freddie and Carly hugged or stood next to each other had Carly towering over Freddie. By Season Two Freddie had hit puberty, and by season three he towered over the girls. Cue the Dance of Romance, with Carly snuggled into Freddie's chest and neck.
John Krasinski is 6 foot 3, so Jim from The Office (US) is quite a bit taller than Pam. Dwight used to tower over Angela as well, although that had more to do with her being so small she had to buy children's size clothes.
Marshall and Lily on How I Met Your Mother fit this rather well. Best part? Marshall is the runt of the family! His mom says something about him and his brothers being not much smaller than Thanksgiving turkeys when born! Any pairing with Jason Segel falls into this, as he's 6'4" (193 cm).
Ted and The Mother also qualify as she only measures up to Ted's shoulder and she has to stand on her tiptoes to kiss him when he proposes to her.
Buffy and Angel. Actress Sarah Michelle Geller is only 5'2" (157cm), actor David Boreanaz is 6'1" (185cm). They often put Buffy in ridiculous heels or made her stand on crates to get them in the same shot together. As Buffy is supposed to be a sixteen year old who falls in love with the older Angel, it comes in handy.
The height difference between Buffy and Riley was at least as big if not bigger. Marc Blucas' height made scenes where he had to kiss the diminutive Sarah Michelle Gellar a bit awkward.
Kelso and Jackie in That '70s Show. Ashton Kutcher is 6'2"; Mila Kunis is 5'3" as an adult, and she was just 14 when the show started.
Another two-man example: Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson (6'5") and Richard Hammond (5'7"). Often becomes an issue whenever Jeremy has to adjust the seats of a car that Richard had previously driven.
Community has 6"4" Jeff and the 5"3" Annie. Britta's in the same boat but is always wearing tall-heeled boots of some sort so it's less noticeable.
The West Wing: Lampshaded in a scene where C.J. Cregg and Annabeth Schott are doing one of the show's "walk-and-talks" together. Cregg (played by 6'0" Allison Janney) asks Schott (played by 4'11" Kristin Chenoweth) how tall she is and then comments it's hard to believe they're the same species.
Deconstructed on Lizzie McGuire when a girl turns Gordo down for a school dance because he's short and "I don't want to go out with a short guy." Gordo takes it very hard.
Inspector Lynley is almost exactly one head taller than his partner Sergeant Havers. They're not romantically involved. Really.
Gender-inverted with Jack and Rachel on Boy Meets World. She is quite a bit taller than him, something he was insecure about when they first got together.
Babylon 5: John Sheridan and Delenn. Mira Furlan is actually 5'6", but looks quite petite next to 6'2" Bruce Boxleitner.
Inverted in Phil of the Future, in which Phil is actually a few inches shorter than Keely. This is never acknowledged in universe.
Almost ludicrously at times in Merlin, Percival towers over EVERYONE, including the other knights who are not at all short. More traditionally, Gwen's head just about comes up to Arthur's shoulders.
In Six Feet Under, Ruth Fisher was significantly smaller than her new husband George.
The Invisible Man partners the very tall and thin Darien with the much-shorter Hobbes, a contrast sometimes used for comedic effect — especially given that Hobbes is an experienced and quite competent agent while Darien starts out naïve and inexperienced (with this side of the law, anyway). Darien also towers over love interests Alianora and Kate.
The NWA South Atlantic Tag Team Champions, the 5'8ft Talon and the 7'1ft Tower, The Unholy Alliance. The only reason the Alliance don't make the jump to Huge Guy, Tiny Girl is that Talon was not tiny, Tower was just that huge.
Orlando and Rosalind in As You Like It, though earlier in the play, Rosalind says that the reason she'll disguise herself as a boy is that she is "more than common tall" and very tall for a girl, though of normal height for a boy.
Jaques: What stature is she of? Orlando: Just as high as my heart.
Cierra from Riviera: The Promised Land, who sometimes acts as an affectionate Onee-sama, appears to be slightly taller than the game's hero and thus half a head to a full head taller than the other female characters. The fan artists have noticed. Les Yay has ensued.
Played straight in all Resident Evil titles, but most noticeable in Part 2, where Leon is a head taller than Claire, and male zombies are a head taller than him.
Played with infuriatingly with Yggdra Union's Gulcasa and Nessiah, the darlings of theYaoi Fangirls. A few height charts have been released by Sting, and while Gulcasa's height is shown to be between 180-185 cm, Nessiah's height has varied every time — one official account set him at 170 cm (half a head shorter), another at roughly 160 cm (one head shorter, and the same height as Yggdra, the main character), and yet another at 155 cm (quite short indeed for a male character, and just barely reaching Gulcasa's shoulders).
Perhaps due to the works of a certain troper, the third account of Nessiah's height seems to be accepted as Fanon. She usually gives him a bit of a height complex to go along with it, and coincidentally or not, he displays a few Tsundere qualities when another character brings it up.
In The Movies, any actor or actress can play any role. In a romantic scene featuring a man putting the moves on a woman, the man will be noticeably taller. However, switching the roles so that a woman is seducing a man, or making it a same sex couple, will preserve the original height difference so that the seducer is always taller than the seducee.
This trope is inverted with Calvin Scott and Aurora Borealis. He's a normal 6-foot-tall citizen, while she is a power psychic who stands nearly six inches taller than him. Their Praetorian counterparts would be this trope, had Praetor Tilman, aka Mother Mayhem, not stolen Aurora's body.
Averted with same-race couples in Dragon Age: Origins, where gender differences barely affect height. Mixed-race couples are subject to this trope, however, due to how much shorter elves and dwarves are than humans.
Inverted in a case of some human/elf couples; a female elf can quite clearly take the lead with both Alistair and Leliana, despite being at least a head shorter.
In Final Fantasy VII (Dirge of Cerberus in particular), Vincent is notably very tall, at about 6'. Yuffie clocks in at about 5'2, and the height difference is very obvious in their scenes together. It's enough to make one wonder just how much trouble she had hauling him to safety after Rosso knocked him out...
In the Pokémon series, character heights can be used as a fairly consistent way of judging their ages; at least in Generations I-V.
In Fate/stay night, Shirou is at least a head taller than Saber, who's the shortest Servant by far.
The height difference between Rin and Archer tends to vary in illustrations. Some of them only put him at One Head Taller, while others border on Huge Guy, Tiny Girl. Officially, he's just about 11 inches (28 cm) taller than hernote 6'2.5" (187 cm) vs. 5'2.5" (159 cm).
In Katawa Shoujo, Hisao and the shortest girl, Emi, are this. At one point while hugging her during her arc he mentions that he has to resist the urge to rest his head on top of hers.
This trope is also touched on with Lilly, the character who most strongly averts this by being about as tall as Hisao. Hisao once points out that when he's kissing, it's nice to have her head and lips level with his.
In Drowtales female drows are typically taller then males, so this is invoked in many of the pairs and couples in the setting.
Sarnel and Shala Post Time Skip invoke this, with Shala being tall enough to put Sarnel in a headlock and manhandle him about to show her affection.
Quain'tana is at least a head taller than her ally/lover Ash'waren, as can be seen here.
Mik of Boy Meets Boy is both taller and more built than his slighter, younger lover Harley. Especially noticeable when Harley gets down on one knee to propose to Mik.
Played straight and subverted in El Goonish Shive: Shapeshifter Grace's default form is actually slightly taller than Tedd, and no-one (least of all Tedd) has suggested that she adjust it. Played straight with Elliot and Sarah, and when Nanase, Susan and Justin's genders were reversed.
A partial subversion involves Summer and Carrie; Carrie is the much more outgoing of the girls, and would normally be about half a head shorter than Summer ... except for her enormous head of hair, which brings her up to about the same height. Uma is taller than both, but tries not to be noticed (because she's an alien hiding on Earth).
Gunnerkrigg Court has Zimmy and Gamma, a fine example of the Tsundere being shorter. Gamma still seems like the dominant one however, just a little more subtle about it than most.
Gender flipped with Parley and Smitty. Tom lampshades it in this page.
Tom: He better carry a footstool around.
Played with in Khaos Komix in the case of Mark and Steve. Mark, assumes this position (no snickering!) as he is shorter, but in the end they decide to take turns.
Fritz in The Quick And Dirty Life Of Fritz Fargo is about five feet tall and therefore at least one head shorter than most of the other characters. However, he tends to dominate most of the people he knows with sheer force of personality. Played more straight in his relationship with Seth, who's his manager as well as his boyfriend, much older, very controlling, and probably about a foot taller than him.
In Total Drama Island we have Izzy and Owen, Bridgette and Geoff, and Beth and her outside-the-game boyfriend Brady. Ex-couple Courtney and Duncan averted the trope by being the exact same height, and one-way relationship Sierra and Cody invert it, resulting in Marshmallow Hell as well.
The Merrie Melodies short Wild Over You features Pepe Le Pew chasing after a "wild cat" that has escaped the zoo and painted herself up as a skunk to avoid capture. In the brief scenes that the two are pictured together, it is readily apparent that Pepe is at least 1/3 smaller than her. Pepe even comments on how there are "acres and acres of her" as soon as he sees her.
On 6teen, Nikki barely even comes up to Jonesy's shoulders.
Jared Padalecki and Genevieve Cortese- he's 6'4" and she's 5'4".
In figure skating and ballroom dancing, it's usually recommended that the man have some height on the woman.
This doesn't mean Man's height > Woman's height. This means Man's height > Woman's height + 3ins heels.
2"-3" heels (though in Latin dancing, the man is usually wearing 1"-1.5" heels himself) in ballroom, but in skating both are standing on blades about the same height. Also in pairs skating in particular, what the Russians termed "gorilla and flea" pairs (this trope in extremis) grow out of one partner, almost always the man, needing to lift the other partner, almost always the woman, straight over his head. This is easier with a wide size disparity-many partnerships formed when the pair were tweens or teens end when the girl has a growth spurt and the boy fails to grow enough to match.
Inverted by Prince Charles and Princess Diana: they were within half an inch of the same height, and in high heels she was noticeably taller than he (but the inversion was itself inverted on the wedding-commemorative postage stamp, which showed her just about eye-level with his chin).
Hayden Panettiere (officially 5'2" but many believe she's shorter) and... well, everyone she's ever been with. Although, her relationship with 6'6"/198cm boxer Wladimir Klitschko might be the most extreme example. (Bear in mind she's wearing four inch heelsin this picture◊.)
Abraham Lincoln was the tallest President of the US at 6'4. His wife, Mary Todd Lincoln was 5'2.
George Washington was pretty tall himself, standing 6'2, compared to his wife Mary Curtis, who was 5'0. It was said that he would always bend down to speak with her so that she didn't have to crane her neck up to look at him.