Paper People

"Being paper thin, I'll just slip in quietly through the crack in the door! Hahahahahaha!"

This is when a character is quite literally paper-thin, as if they were a paper cutout. This can also apply to normally three-dimensional characters who have been flattened as a result of, say, a 300-pound weight being dropped on them.

Not to be confused with Flat Character.


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    Anime & Manga 

  • Many artists enjoy making paper children, which, while not quite as alive as most examples of this trope, are photographed so as to appear to be interacting with the otherwise-three-dimensional world.

    Comic Books 
  • Flat Man of the Great Lakes Avengers. Apparently he has a 3D form, but his Rubber Man powers only work while flat so he only switches to that when he absolutely needs to.
  • One robber / rapist crushed by a millstone in a story by Wilhelm Busch. Other than typical for this trope, he doesn't exactly revert.
  • Two minor characters in Flaming Carrot got turned into "one-dimensional (sic) cartoon characters" by alien invaders, and folded up and stuffed under a rock. "Well, at least you can park in handicapped spaces now..."
  • Mortadelo y Filemón does this on a normal basis. A couple of times, it is an actual invention by Professor Bacterio that allows them to be paper thin so that they can infiltrate some place.
  • Minor Legion of Super-Heroes foe Ronn-Karr has the ability to flatten his body to be two-dimensional. He is not much of a threat.
  • From Franco-Belgian Comics, Les Krostons feature three evil gnomes originating from a comic book, who have the power to shift from 2-D to 3-D at will.

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the Tim Burton version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Mike Teavee gets shrunken by the television transportation system and then has to be re-stretched by a taffy puller leaving him very tall but nowhere near average girth.
  • Judge Doom towards the end of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, after being flattened by a steamroller.

  • What do you get when you run the Dynamic Duo over with a steamroller? Flatman and Ribbon.

  • Flat Stanley is about a boy who is flattened by a falling bulletin board.
  • Flatland has an entire paper-thin WORLD.
  • Even more so, A.K. Dewdney's Planiverse.
  • In one scene in A Wrinkle in Time, Meg finds herself transported briefly into a two-dimensional world, where she can't breathe ("a paper doll cannot gasp"), and her heart can't pump blood properly ("a knife-like, sideways beat"). It was, Mrs. Which explains, an oversight on her part (apparently she and her two companions were perfectly comfortable there). It's implied that they were paying a brief visit to the above-mentioned Flatland.
  • Discworld: In Pyramids, one of Ptaclusp's sons accidentally becomes this trope due to the twisting of dimensions by the grossly-oversized Great Pyramid. He also tends to drift horizontally at a steady rate, as the "fourth dimension" of Time now runs that way for him.
  • The Beautiful Culpeppers is a children's book about a family of paper dolls owned by a little girl. They also have a 2-D paper house, which is tacked to a wall; they can go inside it, but we never get any details about what it's like in there.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Grimm has the flat folk — people who were crushed under the falling Beanstalk but weren't killed by it, and were squashed into two-dimensionality. Well, physical two-dimensionality. Humans native to the Grimm Lands are always two-dimensional in the literary sense.
  • The second edition of Dungeons & Dragons has the Duo-Dimension power, which lets a character use this trope. The follow-up power Duo-Dimensional Blade gives you a blade that has been Sharpened to a Single Atom. The latter power appeared in later editions as well.
  • In the Savage Worlds setting Wonderland No More by Triple Ace Games one of the player-character races is a Playing Card. It is an Alice's Adventures in Wonderland setting, after all. They have the ability to 'turn sideways' against an opponent, giving that opponent a penalty to hit them in combat. They can also slip under doors and such.


    Video Games 

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 
  • This Whole Movie is built off this trope.
  • Mister Origami, a World-War II-era supervillain from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, is paper-thin and can fold himself into many different paper animal shapes... and assume the abilities of the animal in question.
  • One episode of The Sonic Amigos has Mario, Sonic, Knuckles and Rayman get turned to paper as a result of one of Eggman's evil schemes.

    Western Animation 
  • Kate Moss is portrayed this way on Family Guy.
  • In Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, the character Duchess appears like this whenever she turns around.
  • Paper Doll Man of The Impossibles, who used his powers to steal top secret plans from the Pentagon, as well as money.
  • The protagonist of Thin Pig makes better use of this than most, folding himself like origami into whatever form is necessary at the moment.
  • From a show within a show on Futurama: "Father! The kidnappers cut off one of my dimensions!"
    • During The Beast With A Billion Backs, Fry and his date went on a 2D Tunnel of Love ride.
  • On Ugly Americans, a wizard rival of Leonard's is trapped between dimensions, manifesting himself as a paper cutout.
  • In the Classic Disney Short "Pluto's Judgement Day", one of the cats testifying against Pluto is a chubby kitten whom Pluto chased into the path of a steamroller. After testifying he turns around, revealing that he - and the balloon he's carrying - is flat as a pancake.
  • During the first Jimmy Neutron/Fairly OddParents crossover special, when CG Jimmy is transported into Timmy's 2D world, he remarks that his depth is gone, and falls flat on the floor like a standee.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • Teri is a crumpled paper cutout of a teddy bear. Her clothes and face are drawn onto her, and she can change either with a pencil. Most of her body is a flat object that moves in 3D space, but her face is like an Animated Tattoo on her head.
    • Wilson Bilson is also pencil on paper, but animated much differently than Teri. His entire body is a sketch, animated in two dimensions, which is projected on a background of notepad paper that follows him and contours to the movement of his body. Said sketch is quite slipshod, combining a band leader, male bodybuilder, goth, and female cheerleader, which gives him some rather contradictory personality traits.
    • A joke in "The Sweaters" had one of the badly-animated background characters in Richwood Stadium take a tennis ball to the face, then topple over like a cardboard cutout. A sketch in "The Extras" revisits them, showing that they're all cutouts that can move back and forth, but have their body parts stuck in the same relative position. This proves extremely inconvenient for the two the sketch focuses on as they attempt to eat and watch the game. Eventually, one tries to move, which succeeds and grants him depth and the ire of those around him.
  • In The Problem Solverz episode "Zoo Cops", the characters are transported to another dimension, where everyone becomes this.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Lisa, who is self-conscious about her weight, visits a store selling ridiculously undersized clothing and sees a video of a child runway model who is almost invisible when viewed in profile.
    Girl: I hear she's back to her birth weight.
  • Turned Up to 11... eh... one dimension in the animation One D by Mike Grimshaw, where all characters and props are lines.
  • In The Proud Family, Oscar Proud remarks he is so thin he "disappears if he turns sideways."
  • Bill Cipher of Gravity Falls is a triangle, not a pyramid. Whenever he appears, he only has two sides, front and back. He is not just flat, but literally two-dimensional, as was apparently everyone from his home dimension. Even when he escapes into the real world and gives himself a physical form, his default is a thin triangular plate.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "The Return of Harmony Part 1", the very first appearance of Discord (Spirit of Chaos and Disharmony) is under a stylized, two-dimensional shape moving over stained-glass windows.
    • In "Dungeons & Discord", once transported to the RPG world by Discord's magic, the evil Squizard and his mooks still appear as flat cardboard panels, although animated, looking just like the cardboard tokens drawn by Spike for the game.
  • In the 1937 Merrie Melodies short "Speaking of the Weather" does this to a caricature of William Powell (a Visual Pun to his role in The Thin Man).

    Real Life 
  • Flatworms: They are what they say they are. Also: for a substantial proportion of them (the planarians, at minimum), cutting them up just gives you as many worms as pieces.
  • Ediacaran biota: So far as we can tell from the limited fossil record, these were also thin. Note that some believe that some Ediacarans were (at minimum) proto-mollusks, proto-echinoderms, and proto-chordates, and were thus more substantial.
  • Trichoplax adhaerens, sole member of the phylum Placozoa. These organisms are completely flat, composed of about three layers of cells.
  • Plane trees. More generally, the practice of espaliering, which trains trees to grow in a flat pattern.

Horace: It's like we're cartoons! How horrible!