When a small person is accosted by a larger opponent, most people expect the latter to win, but in fiction the smaller a combatant, the more ass they can kick.
Like the Square/Cube Law
going down, a combatant gets cooler and more badass the smaller they are. Short guys trounce giant bruisers, children routinely trounce goons, little people will be amazing wrestlers (if not literal ankle biters), and mice or smaller creatures (especially of the Talking Animal
variety) will swarm and overwhelm
, if not individually disable enemies with rapier precision.
Much like Muscles Are Meaningless
and Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass
, these characters are formidable fighters despite (or sometimes because of) their size.
There is some basis in science for larger proportional strength for smaller creatures
: the Square/Cube Law
works in the other direction. Although the volume, mass, and inertia of a half-sized humanoid such as a Hobbit
is one-eighth a standard-sized human's, the strength of muscles is based on their cross sectional area, making Hobbits proportionally twice as strong as a human, and much more agile. This is also why ants are so strong compared to their mass. However, for this trope, Rule of Cool
is in play whenever the Pint-Sized Powerhouse is as strong as, or stronger than, an average-sized human.
See also Apron Matron
, for when small old ladies do this, and Mini Mook
. Cute Bruiser
, for when they're young, or at least very young-looking
. Killer Rabbit
covers "harmless" animals. See Weak, but Skilled
for a common explanation behind this. Waif-Fu
and Glacier Waif
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- AC/DC. Most of them are under 5'6". AC-freaking-DC.
- Kyo from Dir en grey. He is one of the most powerful, diverse, and emotional vocalists in the metal genre. Not to mention his guttural growls are scary as hell. Guess how tall he is? 5 foot 1.
- Toshi of X Japan, who is barely above 5'5, and who for much of The Eighties and The Nineties (and even in The New Tens) is the iconic power vocalist of Visual Kei.
- Dave Mackintosh, the drummer from DragonForce. He's 5' 4" and his nickname is Compact Dynamo.
- Ronnie James Dio was only about 5 feet 4 inches tall, but had one of the most powerful voices ever in hard rock/metal.
- Lady Gaga, an exceptionally versatile piano prodigy with an incredibly powerful voice and an exceptional stamina. She's 5'1".
- Pat Benatar is just 5' tall, and delivers incredibly powerful vocals.
- Melanie Mongeon from the Canadian experimental grindcore act Fuck the Facts is a tiny, rail-thin woman who is known for her unbelievably ferocious vocal performances and aggressive onstage presence.
- Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, known for his brutal and ear-destroying Industrial Metal output, is 5' 7".
Mythology and Religion
- David 1, Goliath 0. David is a youngster at that point in The Bible, but depictions often make him even younger. David could even be the Trope Codifier, seeing as "David and Goliath" is a common term for a fight where a little guy is able to beat up a big guy.
- Thor's son Magni was the embodiment of strength. One myth states that Thor fought a giant named Hrungnir, but while Thor was victorious and killed Hrungnir, the giant's body fell on him, pinning him to the ground and leaving him helpless. After no-one else was able to so much as budge the giant's heavy corpse, Magni - who was only three days old at the time, was able to lift it off his father effortlessly.
- In Greek Mythology, Heracles is rarely depicted as "pint-sized". However, he certainly was on the day he was born, and on that day, Hera made her first strike against him, sending two venomous serpents to kill him while he slept in his cradle. He simply grabbed them both and crushed them, one in each hand.
- The Mini Estrella Division, most commonly seen in Mexican promotions, was set up to give wrestlers who are simply too small and short to qualify even for the lowest weight classes(which are enforced by law) someone to compete against. While there are many Mini Estrella who eventually outgrow the division, some have already hit their maximum size yet still find promoters finding ways to have them wrestle those far out of their weight class just because they are popular enough. AAA had the mascot division, made entirely of Mini Estrella and larger wrestler pairs, for example.
- Rey Mysterio Jr: At 5'4" he is overshadowed by just about anyone he meets in the ring, but still often holds his own. Even more so when you consider he started as a teenage in Tijunana, he used to be smaller.
- Tazz, on a relative scale: at 5'9" and 240 lbs the average pro wrestler towered over him. Guess who was the toughest, hardest Badass in all of ECW?
- Bryan Danielson while larger than the average man, was only an inch taller and 50 lbs lighter than Tazz. Yet he used to use a butterfly suplex as his finishing move. An extremely delayed butterfly suplex.
- Midget wrestlers. There is one story of such a wrestler picking Gorilla Monsoon (who weighed 400 lbs) in a fireman's carry and carrying him around a ring.
- Any gnome or halfling in Dungeons & Dragons who reaches high enough level. At 15th level, there's not much difference between human and halfling barbarians.
- While both races take a hit to physical strength, gnomes are extremely durable, being able to endure exertions like dwarves and orcs. Compared to elves, they are almost indestructible.
- The Kithkin in Magic: The Gathering's "Lorwyn" and "Shadowmoor" blocks are a little under four feet tall, but are incredibly tenacious in a fight. In fact, the most common "classes" for them are Knight and Soldier.
- The Yu-Gi-Oh! card game has a few:
- Injection Fairy Lily is a cute and friendly-looking nurse (albeit one holding a huge syringe). If her Effect is used, her Attack Score rises to 3,400, stronger than Blue-Eyes White Dragon.
- Ultimate Baseball Kid. He looks like a ten-year-old little leaguer, but his effect grants him 1,000 extra Attack Points for every Fire-Attribute monster on the field (except himself) making him lethal in the right type of deck.
- Goblin King. Despite the regal name, he's a small guy who's a Level 1 monster with zero points, but he gains 1,000 points for every Fiend on the field other than himself. If used in combination with cards like DNA Surgery and Opti-Camouflage Armor, this can be very potent.
- Mokey Mokey. Being a Normal Monster, this guy at first seems even weaker than a Kuriboh. However, if the Spell Card Mokey Mokey Smackdown is used, these little guys become terrors, their Attack Scores becoming 3,000 apiece if a Fairy you control is destroyed.
- Blood Bowl has one of these in the form of the Goblin Fanatic. In a world that has trolls, ogres, daemonic beasts, treemen and dwarven warmachines - the unit with the highest physical strength is a tiny goblin who's 'roid raged on weird mushroom potions and rapidly swinging a solid steel ball and chain that's three times as big as he is.
- Diz, in the Whateley Universe. She's a petite middle-schooler at a Superhero School full of high school bruisers. She can strike with a force of over eight tons with a fingertip. Her room looks like it was designed to hold the Incredible Hulk.
- Worse than that, she can't not strike with 8 tons of force. Even if she wanted to. Her computer is built so it takes 8 tons and 1 ounce of force to press the keys, otherwise she either couldn't press them at all or would demolish them. Her code name is Diz Aster. Poor kid.
- Reiko Ishida of Survival of the Fittest v4 is 4'9, which has been noted to technically make her a midget. However, she was a successful athlete before the island, having had a fair amount of recognition as a figure skater. On the island she manages to receive a fairly high body count; one death has her manage to beat a Huge Schoolgirl to death.
- Neopolitan from RWBY is ostensibly the smallest human character in the series, standing around 4'11" including heels, but is capable of performing some seriously impressive acrobatic feats near the end of Volume 2 and outright overpowering Yang, who is a head taller than her.