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 for laughs. 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.
Examples:Anime and Manga
- Goku of Dragon Ball is stated to be 12 at the beginning of the series, but he looks about 6. There's even a point when Bulma expresses surprise at his age, saying she thought he was the same age as her...when she was twice his height. When he fights in the World Martial Arts Tournament for the second time, he's 15, but has barely grown any taller. It's only after the next Time Skip, when he hits 18, that he reaches his final, slightly below-average height.
- 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.
- The kids, including Lilo, in the four Lilo & Stitch movies
- Young Tiana and Charlotte and a random kid at the end of The Princess and the Frog.
- From Wreck-It Ralph, all the kid characters in the Fictional Video Game Sugar Rush are like this because of the chibi-esque art style of the game. The only reason Vanellope von Schweetz comes up even as far as Gentle Giant Ralph's waist is because his stylised character design gives him tiny legs and an oversized torso.
- 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.
- In Homestuck, some adult characters are as much as twice as tall as the standard "kid" size. Possibly even more exaggerated for trolls, which seem to have a larger size range.
- The characters do have a "Hero Mode" where they're shown much more realistically proportioned. Lampshaded when Aradia and the young Handmaid are first shown in this mode, before switching to the stockier, traditional "Sprite Mode" in the next page. The backgrounds, objects, and other characters were not adjusted to the new scale.
- 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.
- Most of the kids in Invader Zim. Gaz is small enough to sit on her father's shoulders.
- 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. The school bullies except for Nelson seem realistically tall, but that seems to just be because they were Held Back In School a lot (Kearney is sometimes shown to be a fully grown adult with his own kids).
- Ralph Wiggum even makes fun of this in one of the comics.
Ralph: He looked like every grown-up does! LEGS!
- Ralph Wiggum even makes fun of this in one of the comics.
- 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 adults who aren't 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 Foster's 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.
- The titular character of Steven Universe seems to be around 10 to 12; however, he usually seems at least a foot, if not two, shorter than his father and comes up to Pearl's waist or the height of a doorknob. Connie and Peedee, the other kids who seem to be about his age, are of similar height. Onion is even shorter. In the original pilot Steven's proportions were more realistic for a kid his age.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy: The main kids are supposedly around 12 years old (except Jimmy & Sarah, who are obviously younger; Rolf is probably older), so you'd think they'd be catching up to their invisible parents by now (Ed, the largest character besides Eddy's brother, claims to be 5′9″)...except looking at their offscreen parents' arms in "Mission Ed-Possible", one would think the adults were 4 to 5 METERS tall!
- Most of the Funny Animal students attending Elmore Junior High in The Amazing World of Gumball exhibit this trope is some form or another:
- Gumball, Darwin, Penny, and Tobias play this straight, as they're all 12, but only about half the height of their human-sized parents.
- Banana Joe and Anton are a very strange version of this: they're both the size of an actual banana and piece of toast, respectively, but their parents are just slightly shorter than adult humans.
- Hector and Tina are a similar case: They are gigantic by normal standards, with the former being a giant at least 50 feet tall and the latter being a full-sized Tyrannosaurus rex. Their parents are implied to be much bigger: Tina's dad is seen partially and seems at least twice her height (when his face appeared in shadow, he seemed even larger than that). Hector describes his dad as being so huge people can get lost in his belly-button, though he might have made that up.
- All the fourth-grader characters in Hey Arnold! are just above waist-height compared to regular adults. Wolfgang's gang of fifth graders seem ridiculously oversized by comparison, but this actually makes them more realistically-sized. Other fifth and sixth graders, mostly girls, seems barely taller than the fourth graders. Bizarrely, Harold is the largest fourth-grader because he's supposed to actually be thirteen, but still much smaller than any fifth grader, even though he should be two or three years older than any of them.
- Max and PJ of Goof Troop are remarkably shorter than their parents. Not that they catch up anytime soon: At high school (A Goofy Movie) and even in college (An Extremely Goofy Movie), they're still shorter than older characters.