The one in the middle is shorter. Must be a teenager.
Imagine that you are making a show which features teenagers alongside adults. You want to avoid Dawson Casting
, so you try to hire actual teens for these roles. But wait, these kids are taller than half the adult cast! The boys even have stubble and beards, and the girls... Basically, they don't look immature enough
. Half of the audience won't even believe that they are real teens
. So how do you make them look definitely younger than those middle-aged adults? Let's hire the shortest ones possible!
In Real Life
, this is only pronounced when the teens' nutrition is poorer than that of their elders - the average height of French children decreased by 3cm during World War II
, for instance. Static nutrition-levels (as throughout the world before 1850 and in some places such as modern-day Japan) result in teens who are only slightly (if at all) shorter. Since about 1850 the average height of north-western European and north American teenagers has however generally been greater than that of their elders, a trend that the rest of the world has begun to follow since.
Part of this can be the visual effect of a show shot from a child's or teen's perspective. The adults tower over our protagonists in terms of authority, and the best way to demonstrate that is make them physically much taller (or the child physically much shorter) than they actually are or conceivably would be. This is especially true in animated shows, which can oftentimes have the child reach no higher than the parents' knees despite almost nearing adolescence
. Again, it's a visual clue as to the power dynamic.
Contrast: Dawson Casting
. Or compare, as shorter/petite babyfaced actors can make a career off of it well into their thirties (even if they'd rather not
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Anime & Manga
- All the pilots in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing; especially weird in how they otherwise look way older.
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and its various sequels and spinoffs also has this happen a lot. It's especially noticeable in Gundam SEED Destiny, in which the teen characters are still short despite there having been a two-year time skip.
- All but one of the teen characters in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Shinji is especially noteworthy; his father is 6'1"/185 cm (which is extraordinarily tall for a Japanese male), yet Shinji's fourteen years old and about the same height as an eight year old. One might reasonably expect him to be at least 5'6" or 5'8", but Japanese female adults of average height (5'3" or so) loom over him. The only recurring teenage character who actually looks fourteen years old is a minor character, the guy from Osaka.
- GUN×SWORD contains several teens who are notably shorter than the adults around them. Compare Joshua to his older brother Ray for a good example. Joshua's age is never given, but he's probably in his mid to late teens.
- Dragon Ball
- At the beginning the 12-year old Goku doesn't seem to even stand up to (normal height) 16-year old Bulma's waist. Bulma herself is rather short compared to adults in the series.
- Krillin was also pretty short as a 13 year old. It's also noteworthy that when Goku and Krillin were young teenagers, they were still shorter than Bulma and the others, especially Krillin.
- By the time Dragon Ball Z hits, this trope is averted. Teenaged Future!Trunks is almost as tall as Goku, and the 16-year old Gohan (seen closer to the end of the series) is one of the taller members of the cast, despite being 5'9.
- Code Geass: Assumedly, in the Code Geass universe, you don't quit growing until you hit 30.
- It's surprising to see the 17/18 year old Lelouch, Kallen, and Suzaku compared to the 24 year old Clovis and the 28 year old Schneizel, Cornelia, and Jeremiah.
- Charles (who's a towering 6'8") started out super small, and had kids who barely reached his collarbone. Here's a collage◊ of the official height charts, for reference.
- Lelouch is almost 180 cm, which isn't really anything to laugh at. He just looks short compared to other people in the Britannian royal family who are unreasonably large. It seems that they indeed don't stop growing until much later in life.
- In Gurren Lagann, if you didn't have Word of God to tell you that Simon is supposed to be 14, you'd swear he was at most ten, which isn't helped by his Moe Stare or Tareme Eyes. Apparently he just didn't have a growth spurt until later on, since other teens in the series are more realistic in their heights.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure ping-pongs the issue, depending on the characters. Jotaro, Kakoyin and Josuke are tall and buff, but Koichi (nearly the same age as Josuke, or possibly the same) is a waist-height midget. One teenaged antagonist starts out tall but shrinks to Koichi's height after being beaten, as does another (presumably) adult antagonist.
- Averted for the most part in the Venus Versus Virus. A noticeable example happens to one of the younger side characters, Riku. He starts out◊ as an elementary student, maybe ten or eleven. By the end volume he's grown quite tall over◊ the one year or so, being taller than several of the 14 - 15 year olds and almost as tall as his older sister.
- Almost entirely averted in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. The girls are fairly shorter than the guys on average, but Kyon, Itsuki, and Taniguchi are as tall as most adults, if a bit skinnier and lanky (which is still fairly appropriate for teenagers).
- Like in Evangelion, the teens in Mahoromatic are somewhat short, as seen in the group shot of the first season's opening. Seems to be a Gainax thing.
- In Girls und Panzer, this is often averted, as Hana is slightly taller than her mother, and Miho, at 16, is about as tall as the family maid, Kikuyo. Interestingly enough, in many shots with adults and children present, one of the two groups will be sitting.
- Exaggerated in Fullmetal Alchemist. While Edward Elric is short, he's the shortest of all of the teenage characters, which are taller than him. It's eventually revealed that the reason is because Alphonse's body is absorbing nutrients from his own, which is keeping him from growing. After the Final Battle he starts growing a lot taller, to the point where he's taller than Winry. He's also 14 or 15 when the series starts.
- Magic Knight Rayearth has Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu—all fourteen—about as tall as each other, and way shorter than the adults they meet in Cephiro (barring the ones who have a childlike appearance). They're at least a head shorter than the women they meet, and barely up to waist-height on the men.
- Averted in Wandering Sons high school chapter. Nitori grows so tall that she surprises her sisters boyfriend, as Nitori is taller than Riku when he always used to look down on her. Teenage characters are frequently depicted as being as tall or taller than adults.
- Any issue of Young Justice that had them standing alongside the Justice League. Assuming that Superman and the rest were around 6 feet tall, the YJ kids looked like they were closer to 4 feet. Disconcerting, given that most of the cast was about 16.
- In Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter Parker is shown to be about the same height as Aunt May, though most other people tower over him. Hilariously addressed when someone tells Flash Thompson that he thinks Peter Parker may be Spider-Man; Flash dismisses the idea out of hand because "Spider-Man is like, 6 feet tall!"
- Inverted somewhat disturbingly in Darkchylde, where the title character looks like she could pass for a Swedish bikini model, despite only being 16. Her clothes often being turned into Modesty Rags doesn't help.
- Poor Billy Batson is sixteen years old, and despite the fact that he's supposed to grow into his "Marvel" form at some point, he still looks like a short, skinny kid.
Films — Animated
- Rapunzel in Tangled — supposed to be 18, and still shorter than all the adults.
- Same with Anna in Frozen- aged 18 and with one exception she's the shortest person in the main part of the film. Her sister Elsa is 21 and appears to be of average height.
- Averted in Toy Story 3; 17-year-old Andy is a couple inches taller than his mom. Given the prevalence of this trope, this aversion is kind of jarring in fiction.
- How to Train Your Dragon. Not only are the teens shorter than the adults, all but two of them are lanky and noodly. It doesn't help that the adults are all stereotypical gigantic vikings, even the women.
- In Brave, 16-year-old Merida is shorter than both of her parents. Not surprising with her father, a hulk of a man who's king of the Scots. A little surprising with her mother, though she's only half a head shorter. At least, when her mother's in human form.
- In Big Hero 6, Hiro is stated to be around 5'0" - pretty short for a fourteen-year-old, and further emphasized by the fact that everyone else in the movie is an adult and incredibly tall (except for Gogo and maybe Aunt Cass).
- It's stated in The Art of Big Hero 6 that for the first bit of the movie, everything is shot above Hiro's eye level so that we are looking down on him. However, after Tadashi's death, the "camera" moves down so that we are seeing everything from Hiro's point of view.
Films — Live-Action
- Probably explaining how Michael J. Fox got away with playing teenage parts into his late twenties. Interestingly, Back to the Future partially averted this with Crispin Glover and Thomas F. Wilson, both of whom are over six feet. However, they also had to play middle aged versions of George McFly and Biff Tannen, so they needed to appear taller than teenage Marty in 1985.
- For Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, casting specifically chose short actors to play the Corbulo cadets with the intention that Master Chief would tower over them in shooting, though this is justified by the Chief being a roughly 7'0" Super Soldier. Ironically enough, the Chief and his fellow Spartans are revealed at the end to be roughly the same age as the cadets, even though John is canonically 6'9" under the armour.
- Both used and averted in British comic-action thriller 188.8.131.52: of the four female leads who around 18 or 19 two are if anything tall but the petite Ophelia Lovibond and Emma Roberts certainly fall under this. Lovibond in particular has less than a two year age gap between her and the older villain played by Michelle Ryan but because Ryan is much taller, Lovibond seems much younger.
- Mamma Mia!. While technically not playing a teen (her character is 20) Amanda Seyfried is considerably shorter than Meryl Streep (who plays her mother.) She doesn't get it from her dad either - all three potential fathers are over 6 foot.
- In her 2012 film Gone Seyfried actually takes advantage of this trope and her height in-universe. Her character is twenty something but while trying to avoid cops looking for her she joins a group of teens and successfully blends in thanks to her lack of height.
- Mark Wahlberg's earliest roles were teens, despite his acting career beginning in his early twenties. The man is, depending on the source, no taller than 5'8".
- In Hairspray, the main teen cast members are all significantly shorter than the actors playing their parents — compare Nikki Blonsky (4'10") with Christopher Walken (6') and John Travolta (6'2"), Amanda Bynes (5'7") with Allison Janney (6'), Elijah Kelley (5'6") with Queen Latifah (5'10"), and Brittany Snow (5'4") with Michelle Pfeiffer (5'8" and towering in stilletos). Not to mention Zac Efron with everybody.
- Inverted in We're the Millers with Kenny, who is played by 5'11 Will Poulter. Played straight by the 5'2 Emma Roberts.
- Subverted in Tiger Eyes; 15 year-old Davey played by Willa Holland is at least 5'5" while her mother played by Amy Jo Johnson, is 5'2".
- Inverted in Deck the Halls, where Danny DeVito (5'0") and Kristin Chenoweth (4'11") have teenage daughters played by 5'9" Kelly and Sabrina Aldridge.
- Averted then used and justified in A Brother's Price. Almost-sixteen-year-old Jerin Whistler is taller than his older sisters. Later he meets Cullen Moorland, who's about the same age and shorter than said sisters, but by the end of the book has had a growth spurt. The Whistlers are all inclined to be tall, and boys stop growing later than girls do.
- In The Mortal Instruments, it is called out repeatedly that the main characters whose biological parents are still running around look very much like their parents, only shorter.
- While a good casting choice otherwise, it is hard to believe that Badass Ladette Sam Puckett from iCarly, whose actress Jennette McCurdy is 5'2'' max, could be the daughter of Pam, played by six-foot-tall Jane Lynch. Hollywood Nerd Freddie is also significantly shorter than his mother.
- In the iCarly/Victorious spinoff Sam & Cat, Miss McCurdy is paired with the even shorter (barely over 5') Ariana Grande as Cat.
- Heroes is a serious offender:
- Everyone from Claire's schools as shorter than 5'6", with the exception of West. Claire herself is only 5'1" (if that). The only characters shorter than Claire are Micah and Molly, simply due to the fact that they're still below the age of puberty.
- Elle is 24 and the same height as Claire, but tends to wear heels so she looks taller. In the online comics Elle got away with posing as one of Claire's classmates despite being eight years older than the rest of the class.
- Kim from The Parkers is significantly shorter than both her parents (Countess Vaughn is 4'11, Monique is 5'9, Tommy Ford is 6'4''). Lampshaded by an Enfant Terrible in one episode who, when told by Kim that her father was also tall, responded with Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe.
- Community: Gillian Jacobs and Alison Brie are the same height (and differ in age by all of 78 days), but Britta (late twenties to early thirties) always wears heels so she is taller than late teens to early twenties Annie.
- How I Met Your Mother: 5'9" Robin's teenage sister is played by 5'2" Lucy Hale
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Melissa Joan Hart is 5'2" making her much shorter than both of her aunts. This could, at least, be handwaved that she probably takes after her mother's family.
- The Sarah Jane Adventures:
- Clyde was cast because of Daniel Anthnony's short stature.
- Averted with Rani with Anjli Mohindra being cast despite being significantly taller than you'd expect a teenager to be. She's easily the tallest member of the main cast.
- Tommy Knight as Luke Smith is the only one of the teens to be played by an actual teenager and prove that real teens aren't short.
- Glee averts this trope by realistically having the teenagers heights span a wide range, although some of the shorter members (like Rachel at 5'2") may have used this trope to pass as teens. However, "Freakishly Tall" Finn is the tallest member of the cast (6'3"), taller than even the teachers and parents. Ironically (or not), Finn's actor is the eldest amongst the student cast.
- Also averted on Boy Meets World since all the actors were close to the ages of the characters they were playing Cory and Shawn quickly caught up to their parents in the height department once they entered high school and Eric (who was fifteen at the start of the series) was already almost as big as the actor playing his father and taller than William Daniels.
- The daughters on Modern Family look like homunculi compared to the actors playing their parents. This is especially notable with Haley, who is about 16 when the series begins so in real life should be already as tall as her mom. In reality, the actress playing her is actually now 23 but is petite.
- Unintentionally done in Family Ties. Michael J. Fox almost didn't get the role of Alex P. Keaton because the producers at NBC didn't think it was realistic that the 5'4" Fox could be the son of 6'4" Michael Gross, who played his father Stephen Keaton.
- Also unintentionally played straight in Married... with Children, as David Faustino was cast as Bud Bundy when he was 13. By the time the show ended, he was 23...and was still a head shorter (5'3"-ish) than his family on TV.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has two instances of straight use followed by unplanned subversion:
- Cirroc Lofton was fifteen but could have passed for twelve when he began playing 14-year old Jake Sisko; by the end of the series, when the character was about twenty, he was a shade taller than Avery Brooks (who played his father).
- Five-foot-tall, twenty-something Aron Eisenberg was cast as the teenager Nog specifically so that Nog would look young compared to other Ferengi (who tend, in turn, to be shorter than other humanoids). A much older Nog appears in an alternate timeline, still played by Eisenberg, and is of course the same height.
- Greek: All of the main cast pledges are shorter than their bigs (Rusty to Cappie, Rebecca to Casey, Calvin to Evan). Averted with Lizzi, who's shorter than most of the ZBZ pledges despite being older than everyone in the sorority.
- In The George Lopez Show, this is averted with Carmen, who is about the same height or maybe a little shorter than her mother. However, Max is very short, probably about 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall.
- Averted on What I Like About You. Teenage Amanda Bynes was 5'8, making her taller than adult Jennie Garth who was 5'5. Many episodes would actually have Garth wearing high heels and Bynes in sneakers so that they would appear to be the same height (sometimes even making Garth look taller).
- Played straight on Party of Five. At the height of 5'1 (at that time), Lacey Chabert was shorter than all of the adult cast members.
- Averted on Degrassi: At the height of 5'8, Miriam Mcdonald was taller than her on-screen mother, Amanda Stepto. Stepto is only 5'2.
- Later on, Zig (Ricardo Hoyos) is 6' as a high school freshman (age 14-15); he tends to play standing closeup scenes pretty awkwardly because a kid that age wouldn't be used to being tall yet.
- Mostly the issue is pushed aside as casting real teenagers gets a nice variety of heights. Most of the early cast were much shorter before they were on the show for six years. Miriam Mcdonald and Cassie Steele were, at one point, the same height (give or take an inch).
- Godric and Tommy from True Blood. One is really 2,000 years old but was turned into a vampire at a young age, while the other is an actual teenager. Both are played by shorter adult actors.
- Home Improvement featured an aversion, as the boys all grew up to at least equal their parents in height — Brad and Mark grew so tall that an eventual gag in the show's opening was to have them stand in front, with their parents having to shuffle around to see past them. The exception was middle child Randy, played by Jonathan Taylor Thomas, who stood at five foot four and was utterly dwarfed by his younger and older brothers, as well as both parents.
- Averted in Freaks and Geeks. Nick, played by then eighteen year old Jason Segel, is six-foot four and towers almost all other cast members (Except Dave Allen). The others are of average height and played by real teens or young adults. The only real instances of this are Linda Cardellini who is just over five feet tall and John Francis Daley who is at least noted as being short for his age (and he grew several inches soon after the show ended; had it been renewed for a second season, he actually would have been quite tall for a high school student).
- A.N.T. Farm:
- Played straight with the ANTs, being that they are preteens (being played by actors that are 13-15 years old) going to a high school, but not only are they shorter than every adult, but also regular high school students. Paisley and Lexi are taller than the ANTs but narrowly avert this compared to Principal Skidmore who is about their height. While all extras who are high school students are, for the most part, taller than the ANTs. Except for Cameron.
- Also played straight with Cameron, whose actor is 19 years old, yet about the same height as his sister who has to be at least three years younger, while their father is over 6 feet tall, and the mother is also taller than both kids, but not exactly tall. Gibson is around the same height as Chyna's father.
- The main cast of Austin & Ally sets up another aversion - Austin's another 14-year-old six-footer at the start, Dez is about the same height, Ally's barely One Head Shorter and hasn't shown any Huge Schoolgirl issues and Trish isn't that short.
- This is how Jason Earles got away with playing teenage Jackson on Hannah Montana despite being in his late 20s. He's only 5'5". Though it eventually led to his little sister played by Miley Cyrus outgrowing him, reaching 5'6" by the end of the series.
- In how Jason Earles's Kickin' It role he plays the Adult Child Big Brother Mentor alongside a group of kids, half of whom are taller than him.
- On Gilmore Girls, it varied.
- Jess is 5'10", which is actually the average height for young men his age. So part of the trick to convince audiences that he was 17 was to dress him in over-sized clothing, adopt a sloppy posture, and then play his scenes off Dean and Luke, who were both around 6'3".
- Played straight with Lane (5'1") and Paris (5'4"). Rory herself is of relatively average height at 5'7".
- Averted in Supernatural. Flashbacks have teenage Dean look roughly the same size then as when is an adult and Sam is portrayed in the same flashbacks as being exceptionally short and looking much younger than his actual age. This is mostly for the contrast to Sam as an adult where he is played by 6"5" Jared Padalecki and often has jokes made about his unusual size.
- Averted in Faking It. Despite a few of the characters having the heights to play this trope straight (Bailey Buntain is 5' even; Katie Stevens is 5'2"), the most visible authority figure, Principal Penelope, is played by Senta Moses, who is 4'11" (and, obviously, played this trope straight when she was younger).
- Played realistically in Dinosaurs, where 14-year-old Robbie is the same height as his father and slightly shorter than his mother, while 12-year-old Charlene in shorter than both of her parents.
- Semi-example: Zoe in House of Cards (US) is at least a few years out of her teens, but one of the youngest main characters, which is emphasized by her short stature.
- With the exception of Cordelia and Dawn (who was played by an actual teenager who went through a growth spurt) all of the teens on Buffy the Vampire Slayer were shorter than most of the adults around them. Buffy and Willow were at least a head shorter than their mothers and also shorter than adult female Jenny Calender. Xander and Oz were also both shorter than adult Giles.
- Averted in Peanuts where Snoopy visits his sister Belle and finds her teenage (in dog years) son is lubriciously tall and lanky.
- Averted in Zits, as Jeremy looks like his head might his the ceiling were it not for his signature slouch. Jeremy would tower over his mother if he weren't constantly slouching. The creative team has stated that they deliberately made Jeremy the same height as his parents to create a symbolic "power struggle".
- Usually averted in FoxTrot, but in one storyline, Paige invites all of her friends to Peter's Halloween party. Her friends are all ridiculously short and - as Peter keeps reminding us - high school freshmen, meaning they're all about 14 years old.
- In Spring Awakening:
- The teenage characters are all supposed to be 13-15 years old, but in reality it's rarely feasible for actors near that age range to be hired, particularly with the amount of sexual content in the show. To disguise this they make sure the majority are short in comparison to the adult actors.
- Averted in Hungary; many of the actors playing teen boys were hired due to being long, lanky, and gawky-looking.
- In The Sims 2, Sims at the "teenager" stage of life are shorter than those at the "adult" stage. Though Young Adult (seemingly about 17-21) is just as tall as the Adult stage, within an inch or at most two. The Teen stage does include all of puberty, though, and since the Sims don't grow within individual stages, it would have to be somewhere in the middle of the range (so it wouldn't look weird growing from Child or to Young Adult/Adult) and is thus reasonably justified.
- Kingdom Hearts:
- Main characters Sora, Kairi, Roxas and Naminé, ages 16, and Riku, 17, as of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. They are by far some of the shortest human characters in the entire series, reaching, at times, crotch-level of other characters.
- This is lampshaded however when they first arrive in the Pirates of the Caribbean world, with the main trio noting that things look really different (as it's rendered in a more realistic style). While Sora and the rest are still human, it's implied they may be a different variety of human than people from other worlds, explaining different appearances and heights.
- The World Ends with You:
- You don't notice it until an age 17+ character is in the same frame as one of the 15-year old heroes, but damn are those 15-year olds tiny. Beat initially appears to be quite tall, but you later realize that the entire cast of adults positively towers over him. Even given the fact that the average height of Asian women is 158cm (5'2"), Uzuki and Konishi are also absurdly tall compared to the tallest of Neku's gang.
- In the ending cinematic we see that real Shiki is much taller than Neku and even rivals Beat in height, but not so much as to obfuscate that adult height is still insurmountable for even the tallest of 15-year olds.
- In Bully the main character Jimmy seems to be constantly shrinking and growing as the scene demands it. For the majority of the game he looks to be a reasonable height for a 15-year old who is perhaps a bit of a late bloomer - he's a few inches shorter than the other teenage characters, and not quite a head shorter than the adults. However, in the cutscenes he's very clearly shown to be at about armpit-level to the principal and his secretary.
- Tales of Symphonia is an interesting example. The trope is averted by Raine and Lloyd; 17 year old Lloyd (at 5'8) is a good few inches taller than Raine, his 23 year old teacher (who is 5'5), however (though we don't know what his mother looked like) his father, Kratos, is 6'1, leaving him in the dust by nearly half a foot. At age twelve, Genis is 4'7.5 to Raine's 5'5, however by Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World he's allegedly 4'11, which means he's approaching Raine's height at a roughly normal rate, assuming he's going to be about her height and isn't going to shoot up. Trouble is, his character model hasn't changed at all, so though he should only be 6 inches shorter than Raine at that point, he still looks positively pint-sized next to her, giving the impression of this trope. There's a Z-Skit in the first game where Raine talks about how tall Lloyd is, and a C-Skit in the latter game where Genis wants Raine to notice that he grew a sixteenth of an inch.
- Solatorobo seems to want us to believe Petting Zoo People grow a foot between nineteen and twenty. Of the characters with given ages and heights, the teenagers are all 160cm/5'3" or less and the adults are 170cm/5'7" or more. This can't even be justified by breed: Opéra, a Russian blue cat, is taller than her two servants, Gren the kishu inu and Calua the ocelot.
- Michael from Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness is implied to be around 13, or at least no younger than your typical Pokémon protagonist. However, not only is he shorter than most adults in the game, he's also shorter than the link battle models for the characters from the GBA games, who are all about 11.
- Big Town in Fallout 3 is filled with short teenagers that are refugees kicked out of the settlement of Little Lamplight after reaching 16 years old. The vast majority of them are noticeably shorter than the Lone Wanderer. Despite the Wanderer being only 19 him/herself.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog, the teenage heroes are significantly shorter than the adults Vector the Crocodile and Vanilla the Rabbit. For example, Blaze the Cat is 14 years old and stands at 95cm. Sonic himself is 15 years old with a height of 100cm (Shadow and Silver are the same height as him). Vanilla the Rabbit is 130cm, and the 20 year old Vector the Crocodile stands at 180cm.
- PHD takes this trope even further. One graduate student acquires a posse of tiny undergraduates.
- The Homestuck kids are 13, but are about half the height of their adult guardians. However their regular appearances are not supposed to be realistic, and the guardians' appearances are more an effect of how they kids perceive them than actual true appearance. When shown in "Hero Mode", they are significantly taller.
- Inverted in Survival of the Fittest's fourth version; most male characters turned out to be around six feet, which is pretty tall for a teenager. The girls, however, seem to have fairly normal heights in comparison. This, of course, has been lampshade hung both in and out of character.
- Lindsay Ellis is 27 years old, but can pretty easily play a Bratty Teenage Daughter in flashbacks because she's only about five feet high.
- Brett Vanderbrook played a 16-year-old when he was 25 in The New Adventures of Captain S and he was the shortest of the male actors. Lampshaded in an outtake of the non-canonical Christmas episode:
- Lunk: You're too short, preppy!
- Chad: I just haven't hit my growth spurt yet.
- Lunk: And you never will.
- Despite being a spin-off of the trope picture, Sabrina: The Animated Series subverted this with Hilda and Zelda, who are portrayed as teenagers (they are still centuries old, they are under a curse for undisclosed reasons), appear to be the tallest characters in the cast. While Sabrina and her friends are still significantly shorter than the rest of the cast, they are portrayed as much younger than the original show. The show's own spin-off, however, Sabrina's Secret Life, goes back to playing this straight. Hilda and Zelda are back to being adults (presumably their sentence was lightened) and are still taller than Sabrina.
- Ben and Gwen play this trope in Ben 10: Alien Force and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. Both are at least a head shorter than both of their parents despite being 15 and later 16. Cooper also played this straight as well in Alien Force as a 14 year old, but in Ultimate Alien he subverts it stating he "got a growth spurt". Kevin and Max (as a teen) averted this trope as both are almost as tall or exactly as tall as most adults.
- Straddling the line between this and Artists Are Not Architects, even 15- and 16-year old boys in Avatar: The Last Airbender find themselves more than half a head shorter than almost all but the oldest and most bent over adults. This is most obvious in when Hakoda is onscreen. He's clearly shown to be about average when compared to the other Water Tribe men, and he's more than a head taller than his son (15 or above), daughter (14 or above), and Zuko (16 or above).
- Daria graduates high school without ever outgrowing her parents
- Despite being seniors and probably past puberty, neither Kim nor Ron in Kim Possible pass an adult's shoulders in terms of height.
- Most of the main characters in W.I.T.C.H. suffer from this, most notably Cornelia, who is the tallest of the 5 girls, but still a head shorter than her mother.
- Also the case in Code Lyoko. Most of the teens are between 13 and 14, yet they are all very much shorter than the adults. Even Yumi, who's reaching 15, is smaller than her parents (though she comes close to her father, who's probably of typical height for a Japanese male — her mother on the other hand is quite tall). Also of note is that the girls are often taller than the boys, or about the same size.
- In King of the Hill, 14-year old Bobby seems to be 3-and-a-half feet tall compared to his parents. All the kids are like this at first, but soon the others begin to grow to average height (note Joseph's growth spurt), leaving people to wonder if Bobby is a late bloomer. It turns out the animators didn't want to put him through puberty simply because they would have had to cast a man as his voice actor, and they had grown attached to his current actress Pamela Adlon.
- In Phineas and Ferb, Candace says explicitly that she's five-eight. Despite this, she and her teenage peers are still shorter than every adult in the show (except the humorously short old people).
- Mostly averted in Total Drama, where many of the teens are as tall as, if not taller than, the adult host Chris, which is lampshaded by Beth ("wow, you're much shorter in real life!"). The few adults mentioned on the show are usually the same height as the average height teens, with the exception of Chef Hatchet. Some contestants, such as Cody, Beth, Dawn, and Cameron, do play the trope straight.
- Most of the 14-year olds in Danny Phantom are ridiculously short for their age in comparison to their parents. All except bullies Dash and Kwan who are both at least as tall as Maddie Fenton. Danielle is an even worse example: apparently twelve years old and she's half the height of Danny himself.
- This is also present in The Fairly OddParents, though Vicky being more than a head shorter than either of the Turner parents isn't nearly as noticeable as the enormous difference between teenagers and younger children.
- Ed Eddn Eddy: The main kids are supposedly around 12 years old (except Jimmy & Sarah who are obviously younger, Rolf and the Kanker Sisters are also 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, the adults seem to be 4-5 METERS tall!
- American Dad!: Both used and subverted. Steve and Haley are both towered by their parents. Same goes for Steve's friends and Haley's boyfriend/husband Jeff. Other teens depicted in the show are typically depicted as having realistic proportions, so an argument could be made that Steve is just a late bloomer. Haley though is a college student. If the cover of volume 6 is anything to go by, Hayley is just barely 5 feet tall.
- Both parents in Family Guy tower over Meg and Chris, despite them being 16-17 and 14, respectively. Chris is a few inches taller than Meg, but still nearly a head shorter than his mother.
- Despite being about 14, Penny and her friends are at least a foot or more shorter than most of the adults in The Proud Family.
- Rugrats: A minor character, Alisa Carmichael (Susie's oldest sister) is 16, but shown to be a head shorter than her parents.
- The main characters of Tiny Toon Adventures are supposed to be teenagers. But as the title makes clear, they're tiny compared with the Looney Tunes characters that mentor them (Tweety excepted, of course.)
- South Park:
- Teen starlet Selena Gomez was portrayed as barely taller than Cartman and tiny compared with the adults when she 'appeared' on the show, apparently solely due to this trope (in real life Gomez is 5'6 which is actually noticeably taller than the average American adult woman.)
- Shelley Marsh is 13, but she's about as tall as the average South Park fifth grader.
- Laney Penn of Grojband may be short in stature, but her tall ambition more than makes up for it.
- Beavis and Butt-Head. They're shorter than most of the other Highland High School students (save for Daria) and all of the adult characters in the show.
- When Adventure Time started, Finn was somewhat short for a twelve-year old. Since then he's aged more or less in real time, but even at 15 he's still a full head shorter than the physically eighteen Princess Bubblegum.
- In Superman: The Animated Series, Jimmy Olsen, despite being at least 16, is easily shorter than most of the cast.