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In cartoons, kids are portrayed as being way shorter than adults, even kids who are 7 to 12 years in age. In real life, 7-year-olds are on average 4 feet tall, but in cartoons, 8- to 11-year-olds are often drawn to be only half adult height. Although children are rather small before they talk, it doesn't stay this way for long in real life (unless that is, they have dwarfism, but that's another story entirely), especially when puberty sets in and they outgrow clothes faster than they get new ones. In some cartoons, however, it's much more exaggerated. Even 10- and 11-year-olds only appear 2 feet tall.
Usually, this is done as an exaggeration and to play around for fun with. Because children often feel overpowered by their parents and other adults, they're drawn much shorter. Especially when it's told from their point of view. Sometimes, all that's visible of their parents are their legs. Bully and jock characters tend to be shown at heights that are more realistic for their age, however.
This trope is not quite omnipresent
; sometimes children are scaled to a more realistic size. Still, it's prevalent enough
that averting the trope may lead to the audience being confused about how old a child character is actually supposed to be. And sometimes it's even justified
by the Super-Deformed
art style of a work.
Teens Are Short
refers to simply having most teens be identified by being shorter than adults, especially in Dawson Casting
. This applies to 4- to 12-year-old children being ridiculously
small for their age, to the point that they are only as tall as toddlers. Classic cartoons often invert this trope and Teens Are Short
This is seen to a much smaller degree in live action television, where smaller actors may be chosen instead of a taller actor.
Related to Animation Anatomy Aging
. Teens Are Short
is the teenage version. Compare Miniature Senior Citizens
Anime and Manga
- The main character in the Pokémon anime, Ash Ketchum, is 10 but younger kids can be about half as tall he is.
- Leon, Rebecca, and Mokuba on Yu-Gi-Oh!. And Yugi...except he's the same age as the rest of the cast.
- Detective Conan comes to mind. The title character comes up to the knees of most adults, as does most of his classmates. Particularly funny since Genta, who is around the size of an ACTUAL kid that age, looks like a giant in comparison...
- Yachiru and Nel in Bleach are drawn like this. Yachiru seems even smaller than she is because she hangs out with Kenpachi, who is very large.
- In Gurren Lagann, Simon is 14 at the start of the series, but looks like he's 10. Other characters his age have more realistic heights. Supposedly, he just has stunted growth.
- 9-year-old Mamoru and his friends on GaoGaiGar are lucky if they come up to an adult's waist.
- Chiyo-chan in Azumanga Daioh was often so much shorter compared to the other girls, her head was barely visible in the frame. This was relaxed later in the series, though whether it was due to Art Evolution or just her growing taller is debatable.
- Saint Seiya is weird subversion for this one. Anyone who is at least 10 looks like an adult. Everyone in this world gets a giant growth spurt when they become 10, it seems.
- De Kiekeboes: Konstantinopel has this height.
- Nero: Adhemar and Clo-Clo, who are presumably toddlers, have this height, while Petoetje and Petatje, who are slightly older teens, are a bit taller than them.
- Berenstain Bears. One of the books shows Sister as being small enough to cling to Papa Bear's head. And as usual, the leader of the bully squad, Too-Tall, is even a hanging lampshade.
- Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes, despite being 6 years old, is shown as being only about 2 feet tall, about as tall as a toddler, and his parents are both normal height. Just about every one of his peers except Moe (the school bully) are also about as tall as he is. Amusingly, Hobbes (when he's not a plushie) is taller than Calvin is.
- This can be extended to pretty much every non-Moe (no, not that kind of Moe) child in the comic.
- He even mentions in one strip that short pants touch his feet, and another when he follows the wrong woman around the Zoo that "From the knees down, she looks just like [Mother]".
- The kids in Family Circus are all disproportionately tiny.
- Averted in For Better or for Worse, which not only had the kids grow up in real time but portrayed them as being closer to the adults in terms of size as of age 10.
- In Baby Blues, Zoë and Hammie are absurdly small for preschoolers.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Link is only 12 years old and comes up to the waist of most human adults. The Bomber Kids, however, only come up to his waist. How they manage to form a working club that helps people, when realistically they shouldn't even be able to talk yet, is anybody's guess.
- Timmy and several of his friends (and most of his peers) in The Fairly OddParents obviously fit this. Despite being about 10 years old, he probably isn't that much taller than most adults' knees. His babysitter, Vicky, is tall enough to worry about tripping over him even. Many argue that this more or less symbolizes how little he feels compared to all the adults.
- Just about every kid in South Park probably goes up to most adults' thigh level in terms of height.
- The Tweebs in Kim Possible
- The kids, including Lilo, in Lilo & Stitch: The Series
- The kids in Phineas and Ferb
- Averted in Handy Manny to the point that even the toddlers in the show are only a head shorter than the adults and teens.
- Then again, their heads are huge.
- Also averted in Super Why!, and as in Handy Manny, the children's heads are huge.
- The kids in Special Agent Oso
- Inverted in the Looney Tunes cartoons by Chuck Jones that show the Three Bears, where Junior is twice the size of his pint-sized father.
- Tucker from My Life as a Teenage Robot is as tall as his 16-year-old brother Brad's head.
- A lot of kids in The Simpsons fit this trope, except for the school bullies.
- Used really, really weirdly in Dragon Tales, where the parents are never shown above knee height as a result of their giant-like stature. In fact, every adult except the teacher/mentor character is freakishly tall.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the main protagonists range from age 12 (Aang and Toph) to 16 (Zuko) and yet even the oldest male is seen as significantly shorter than most adult characters, only averted for adults who are portrayed as extremely short.
- In Family Guy, a baby like Stewie is compared to 5- and 9-year-olds, and they are the exact same height.
- Mac from Fosters Home For Imaginary Friends. Not surprising since it shares a creator with The Powerpuff Girls.
- Most kids on Rated "A" for Awesome are like this. While Les and Thera play it straight, Lars and Noam have more realistic heights. Noam is treated as freakishly tall. In contrast, the middle school seniors look like they should be in high school.
- In Real Life, newborn horse foals are a lot more than half as tall as their mothers, once they are able to stand properly, with 90% of an adult's leg length. The colts and fillies of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, while being old enough to go to school and run around independently, are shorter, proportionally, than newborn foals would be. The "baby ponies" of the G1 cartoon are similarly tiny.
- Inverted in The Little Rascals episode "The Zero Hero": The bank robbers are presumably adults, but they're only about half as tall as Darla.