The natural counterpart to the Gentle Giant. While the Gentle Giant is large and kind-hearted, the Napoleon is hot-blooded, aggressive and short. This character comes in a variety of flavors: they might be physically belligerent or merely pushy; they might be compensating for their lack of height by acting "big", or it might just be an incidental part of their character. By and large, small things are Acceptable Targets, so expect the Napoleon to be a villain or the Butt Monkey.
The name comes from "Napoleon complex" (popularly known as "short-man syndrome"), an inferiority complex said to be suffered by short people. Aggressive or dangerous people who are short are often labeled as such to mock them. This was most famously done to the legendary French emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. Although Napoleon was of average height for his nationality and time period, a number of different factors created the widely held urban legend that he was quite short—mostly stemming from a discrepancy between English and French measurement systems that got Lost in Translation. English propaganda of the time seized on the perception and portrayed him as comically short to deflate his image.
See Mister Big for when a vertically-challenged person is head of a criminal organisation. Compare A-Cup Angst, when a female character feels inferior due to a lack of outward growth. Napoleons might use a Scully Box to appear taller.
Not to be confused with Napoleon Delusion.
open/close all folders
In 2013, Ford Motor Company ran a series of TV advertisements that illustrated "and is better" by cutting away to what would happen if "and" in a well-known conjoined figure of speech were replaced with "or". One such spot illustrates "large or in charge'' as a Lilliputian chief executive standing on a desk in a meeting and demanding that things be done his way.
Anime & Manga
Shana from Shakugan no Shana is an exelente example of this. She's small and very strong
Anak Zahard from Tower of God. Small, strong and straight to the point (or punch).
Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist. He's an okay guy, but he takes comments about his heightwaytoo personally, and interprets them as being much more vindictive than what the person originally said. For example, were someone to comment that Ed is "small", he would interpret it as "so small you can crush him like an ant", usually followed by the other person saying something like, "I didn't say that much!" He even assaults people for making a comment about his height, and eventually causes a catastrophe in the manga when he recklessly attacks Envy, who was coming in "peace" and just called him "pipsqueak" without thinking. And Envy even tries to talk him into stopping.... He also keeps track of the exact number of times Envy called him pipsqueak.
He also takes at face value figurative comments such as "Grow up a little!" and misinterprets Hohenheim's innocent question, "Do you still hate milk?" He once gets mad at himself when he thinks about being small enough to fit inside air vents is a good thing. Two other twists on this Running Gag: Two Lady of War characters, Izumi Curtis and Olivia Armstrong, both call Ed short, but he doesn't respond in his usual manner, because he's terrified of them. Another instance is with two characters who start beating Ed up because he basically said they were his slaves. They actually do call him a pipsqueak who is an inch tall, and his response is "I'm not small, it's the world that's big." Although, unlike most listed here, due to his nature as a teenager, he does grow taller as the story goes. Never becomes what you'd call "tall", but does become a decent height.
Vice-Chancellor Napoleon from the second season of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX.
Commander Red of Dragon Ball. He had plans to ask Shenron to make him taller. Which, when his right hand man finds out, gets him shot in the face (Red earlier led Black and his army to believe that they'd use the Dragon Balls to conquer the planet).
Krillin is one of the shortest characters in the series, despite being a year older than Goku. In his teens, Krillin was really upset to be called small or something. In his adulthood, not so much, but he doesn't like it.
Vegeta of Dragon Ball Z. It's extremely noticable during his first appearance, and not only because he's standing next to Nappa. Vegeta seems to grow in comparison to the other characters as the series moves on, though this can be attributed more to added muscle mass and aging rather than physically growing taller. He consistently remains one of the shorter fighters in the show, with only other adult Z fighter shorter than him being Krillin.
Naruto before Shippuden was this — him being the shortest in the team, including Sakura. And let's face it — he really is very confrontational, rude, loud, and aggressive. In Shippuden, however, he's a lot taller, practically as tall as Sakura if not a bit taller.
England from Axis Powers Hetalia, though his demeanor isn't explicitly stated to come from his shortness, as he's actually the same height as France and his official height would set him only two centimeters shorter than America and at the same height as France. However, sometimes America looks One Head Taller next to him, almost to Huge Guy Tiny Other Guy proportions at times, so it's suspected that the author made him shorter in comparison to play up this trope.
Switzerland would be a straighter example. Though his height is never directly addressed, he's shorter than Italy, has a Hair-Trigger Temper and quickly resorts to shooting. He's very much a Jerkass except for when it comes to his adoptive sister Liechtenstein and sometimes Austria. To boot, he's voiced by Romi Park.
To an extent, Hiei from YuYu Hakusho. He's never shown as being especially sensitive about his height, but he is a diminutive, snarky, and on the tempermental side.
Emerald from Pokémon Special, who tries to make up for it with extendable arms and ridiculously high platform shoes. To be fair, you can't really blame him, since he's shorter than Yellow (who does not, however, have the same problem, though she does usually Sweat Drop every time one of the GSC gang realizes that she's older than them, despite being shorter).
Kanta Mizuno, the eponymous Desert Punk is one of the shortest people in the series and rather ugly (this isn't particularly rare in the series). These qualities contribute to him being a jerkass who is determined to prove himself the best bounty hunter there is.
The protagonist, Kankichi Ryotsu, of Kochikame is like this. He's shown to have a short temper and excels physically. His height is depicted at 167 cm, shorter than most of the main cast, but sometimes appears shorter. His boss, Daijiro "Bucho" Ohara, is slightly taller and has a short fuse temper mainly towards Ryotsu goofing off on his job.
A milder example is Ryota Miyagi from Slam Dunk. While he's smart enough to use his lack of height to his advantage in his sports team, he's still somewhat sensitive about it. Then again, being a member of the basketball team as well as the shortest of the regulars will make you this.
Mushibaikinman from Anpanman is one of the shortest characters on the show, yet has one of the quickest fuses as well, lashing out at others with his cavity-causing spear without notice. Also in the show is Arinkokiddo, a little ant cowboy, so everyone towers over him. Before he changed to the good side, he would lash out at anyone that called him "tiny" or "cute", zapping them with his shrinking pistol to bring them down to his size.
Levi of Attack on Titan, the stoic, domineering, hyper-badass captain of the Survey Corps. He's so ridiculously skilled and authoritative, it's easy to overlook his shortness (5'2").
In Dominion Tank Police, Leona Ozaki calls her miniature tank Bonaparte - it's small, but it definitely leaves a lot of destruction in its wake when she's in a bad mood.
Masayuki Hori from Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun to his chagrin, stopped growing at 5' 4". It's not something he seems to dwell on too much, but if he's teased about it he does not take very well. Additionally, as the Drama Club president he's a hard working no-nonsense sort of person, and in general will blow a gasket in the face of too much horsing around or incompetence.
The Big Figure, the dwarf kingpin in Watchmen. Rorschach is also a small man who wears lifts in his shoes while in costume to appear taller.
In Love And Rockets, Carmen is very small and extremely aggressive, though she isn't as nasty as many examples on this page.
Despite what Hugh Jackman's portrayal may have you believe, Wolverine is 5'3" and has a legendary temper and mean streak.
Joe Dalton in Lucky Luke. While his height isn't a problem for him, he is described as a "hysterical midget" and lives up to that description.
Gilles De Geus: Admiral Lumeij is a vain, self-important man of short size, always trying to get himself noticed.
De Kiekeboes: Timothea Triangl is a dwarf who plots for world domination. He underwent a sex change at one point because he would be able to walk on high heels and look taller and be able to use the ladies' toilets, instead of being unable to reach for the urinoirs in the men's room.
Similarly, Iznogoud. Both characters' jumping up and down in rage would be a lot less funny if they were taller.
Jose of Cybersix, the bratty, bossy son and second-in-command of Von Reichter. The only thing shorter than him is his temper.
Ivy the Terrible from The Beano is a short aggressive pre-school aged child. Who ocassionally seems to be more agressive and destructive than some of the older and larger characters in the comic.
Tom Thumb in Supreme Power is minuscule in the extreme, standing only about an inch tall if that, and ridiculously irritable. It's virtually impossible to have a conversation with him in which he doesn't repeatedly threaten you.
Libertad from Mafalda. Her name means "Freedom" and she's completely aware people will make stupid jokes about it.
Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin has been known to have issues with his height. It's particularly frustrating for him that shorts in fact actually touch his feet. Then again, it's possibly subverted by the fact that he's only six years old.... It may just be a a riff on his character design, since his legs are cartoonishly short.
While Valkron from Warriors of the World is not the shortest person in his party, he is certainly the shortest when standing next to any of the other men. He's the most aggressive and short-tempered in the party, and bringing up his height in any context whatsoever provokes him into making threats of violence for pointing it out.
The Trope Namer is summoned as an Archer-class Servant in Nerve Damage. His Master points out that 5'2" is historically inaccurate, but it's canon that Heroic Spirits appear according to legend rather than fact. Napoleon's Noble Phantasm Napoleonic Complex even grants him extra ranks in several stats if his opponent is significantly taller than him.
The personification of the city of London in Paris Burning, whose political ambition is explained in part by her desire to "make herself tall in people's eyes". She probably wouldn't take kindly to being lumped in with Napoleon, of course.
Films — Animation
Lord Farquaad from Shrek, who takes great lengths to appear taller, such as by attaching false legs to his stirrups. Upon seeing Farquaad's massive tower, Shrek suggests that he's Compensating for Something, which could actually go a few ways.
Mr. Huph, Mr. Incredible's boss at the insurance company, in The Incredibles. He's extremely short and short-tempered and looks even smaller next to Bob. He's voiced by Wallace Shawn, who often plays these types of characters.
Lord Cutler Beckett from Pirates of the Caribbean. He's the closest thing to an outright-evil character in the films. He has no fear of gods, and no sense of honor; he's cold, heartless, tyrannical, and severe. But he's so tiny!
Francis Begbie of Trainspotting. Although the character in the book was described as a large, musclebound bruiser, director Danny Boyle chose to cast 5'8 Robert Carlyle on the belief that shorter men are more dangerous.
Tanner in both the 1976 The Bad News Bears (and its sequel Breaking Training) and the 2005 remake.
Rory Breaker, the leader of the black gang in Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. He's described as a "psychotic dwarf with an afro" who once lit a man on fire for changing the channel away from something he was watching. His short height is accentuated by his two mammoth bodyguards, whose faces are sometimes not even visible as they stand beside him.
This is a staple for most roles played by French comedic genius Louis de Funčs — short, bossy and bad-tempered.
For example, in Delusions of Grandeur, Don Saluste finds his valet Blaze (played by Yves Montand) to be too tall and orders him to serve his master while half-crouched. The actors for the "Grands d'Espagne" in the same movie were specifically chosen as very tall to make Saluste look shorter.
Teardrop in Winter's Bone is a scrawny, middle-aged and physically unimpressive man who commands a healthy respect from the meth dealers in his town. Judging by the fact that he goes literally Ax-Crazy on a car and wins a Mexican standoff with the local sheriff, he's no stranger to violence.
Kevin Hart's character in Think Like a Man, when confronted with a very tall man who wants to play on the basketball court that he and his friends were just about done with, refused to give it up and instead challenged the man and his equally tall friends to play him and his friends for the right to use the court. Kevin and friends lost really badly.
Ottilio Panza, an assassin in The Boondock Saints II, wears elevator shoes. He also lies down next to his victims after killing them, comparing his height with theirs.
Roger Brown in Headhunters. During his opening narration, he announces that he's 5'6 and that he's obviously overcompensating for it.
The Nac Mac Feegle, who are basically Violent Glaswegians with the bodies of Smurfs. Likewise, Wee Mad Arthur from Feet of Clay is six feet of angry in a six-inch body. He's actually an orphan Feegle raised by gnomes.
Corporal Strappi from Monstrous Regiment is another example. He constantly bullies any Borogrovian recruit that can't tear his head off, and by the end of the first day of marching he was able to get "Wazzer" Goom to throw up just by shouting.
Big Fido, feared canine psychopath and charismatic leader of Ankh-Morpork's Dog Guild, was a small fluffy white poodle.
Aliera e'Kieron from the Dragaera series. She goes as far as levitating to appear taller, which provides a handy excuse for a duel when someone points it out. She seems to have dropped the practice later in the series's timeline.
The idea that Napoleon was extremely short is a plot point in Harry Stephen Keeler's X. Jones of Scotland Yard. Midget-hating tycoon Andre Marceau is found strangled to death in the middle of a freshly rolled croquet lawn. The only footprints, other than Marceau's own, are some tiny, baby-sized footprints. These do not lead out to the body but merely describe a small arc around it. The police suspect a Flying Strangler-Baby. X. Jones is called in to help crack the case! The culprit is Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon seduced an ancestor of the victim and passed on a gene that causes people to die suddenly with symptoms that cannot be distinguished from strangulation. The same gene also causes hallucinations — in the victim's case, of a demonic baby. That was not an unusual plot for Mr. Keeler, either.
Lessa in the Dragonriders of Pern series is tiny but fearsome, made all the worse by her massive, jet plane-sized dragon Ramoth.
A mild example in the Doctor WhoTie In Novels starring the Eighth Doctor. He's not exactly short — at 5'8", he's only an inch or two below average height for a 21st-century British man. But that's not especially tall for a hero with his enormous reputation. He hardly seems to know or care what he looks like to anyone, but sometimes meets people who were Expecting Someone Taller, and another character comments on the fact that "he acts tall," which he does. His companion Anji is even more of an example; fellow companion Fitz reflects upon how silly she looks trying to boss around some thirteen-year-old girls whom she is "several inches shorter than", but decides she probably "shout[s] so much" because, "It must be a bummer to be short." He wouldn't know; he's the opposite of this trope, being tall and laid-back.
Scourge in Warrior Cats. Although replace "belligerent" and "pushy" with "mass-murdering psychopathic dictator".
Sammael (whose name means "The Destroyer of Hope") of the Forsaken in The Wheel of Time was one of several formerly prominent light side generals and Aes Sedai during the war against the shadow in the Age of Legends, whom was intensely jealous of the leader, Lews Therin Telamon, The Dragon (but not The Dragon), for one because he was a head shorter than him. He is extremely irked the same is true of his opponent's Reincarnation Rand Al Thor, and sometimes uses a projection to appear taller. It should be noted that he probably isn't all that short really, as Rand is explicitly said to be much taller than is average thanks to his Aiel heritage, around 6 1/2 feet. It's explicitly stated in the books that Sammael is only slightly shorter than average. Doesn't help that the two Forsaken most often contrasted with him (Demandred, who shares his military skills and personal enmity for Lews Therin, and Ishamael/Moridin, who holds the job Sammael wants) are also tall guys.
D'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers is described as quite short, but it doesn't seem to bother him. He is extremely Hot-Blooded in the first book, but even in Twenty Years After, when he's matured a lot, he challenges two of his best friends to a duel because they bruised his ego.
Vorkosigan Saga: Miles Vorkosigan is ahem-mumble-something under five feet tall, and with fragile bones to boot (well, until he gets synthetic replacements, anyway). He's an Admiral rather than a General, but his Napoleonic tendencies are described several times by other characters, and even he acknowledges that he's driven by his physical condition; he has to prove, day after day after day, that he's a smartass bastard who can think rings around the opposition, and thus force people to accept the body that his brains happen to be in. The Vorkosigan Saga Universe should probably be very, very thankful that he had really good parents, because otherwise he'd have probably conquered it twice over by now.
Karrin Murphy. Tiny (especially when she's surrounded by men who are pushing six feet like Harry, Sanya and Thomas) and can probably kick your ass twelve ways from midday. Not to mention the fact that she may or may not be the wielder of a holy sword. As Sanya put it, "Tiny, but fierce."
A more Villainous example is the Red King the leader of the Red Court. Whereas all his deputies the Lords of the Outer Night are extremely tall he's barely over five feet. He's also a bloodthirsty psychopath, and is one of the most powerful individuals encountered in the series thus far.
The Legionnaire who goes by the name of "Super Gnat" in Robert Asprin's Phule's Company books. She's a wee little thing with an explosive temper about anything that even hints that someone is calling her "short." Once she's partnered with Tusk-anini (a 7.5 foot tall, warthog-looking alien who is also a really peaceful type), she starts to develop some self-control and get less touchy about her height.
Petyr Baelish in is called "Littlefinger" in part because of his short stature. He's half Napoleon and half Gatsby, having grown power-mad as a result of the humiliation he received as a pint-sized and poor noble's son.
Tyrion Lannister is a dwarf living in a culture that believes that dwarves are better off killed at birth. He develops a forceful personality and keen, educated mind to deal with the abuse and prejudice. While generally a moral person, he's also not afraid to straight up murder people who get in his way. It's worth noting that he's described as a "giant" several times in poetic ways when his integrity, personality or sexual prowess out-does his physical stature.
Musket from Lloyd Alexander's Westmark trilogy suffers from dwarfism, yet is one of the fiercest fighters and most forceful personalities in the series.
Hilda Mae Burroughs in Robert A. Heinlein's The Number of the Beast is short, but is by far the most aggressive of the four protagonists. She will not suffer an insult to herself or her family without exacting revenge, is ruthless in protecting her interests, and is the only member of the (by the end) enormous cast to successfully stand up to Lazarus Long's overbearing attitude.
Percy Wetmore, the main villain from The Green Mile, is described as being very cruel, very sadistic and very short.
Bond always mistrusted short men. They grew up from childhood with an inferiority complex. All their lives they would strive to be big — bigger than the others who had teased them as a child. Napoleon had been short, and Hitler. It was the short men that caused all the trouble in the world. And what about a misshapen short man with red hair and a bizarre face? That might add up to a really formidable misfit.
Dr. Anton Murik in Licence Renewed is barely five feet tall, but he has an aura of authority and is described as a born leader. The narration, from Bond's point of view, notes that men born that way will either side with angels or the devil.
Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Many times, a short male character will pop up and the author or one of the characters will say that the guy probably has a Napoleon Complex. This sort of character is portrayed as a Jerkass at best by the author. At times this seems to go into the territory of Unfortunate Implications.
Horace Rangoon, the villain in The Rio Hondo Kid by J.T. Edson.
Paul Tallutto of the First Reformed Church of the Antichrist in Mr Blank and its sequel is an extra-short example of this trope.
Louie De Palma from Taxi, though many of Danny DeVito's characters get classified as this by default.
Cheers' Carla Tortelli is 5 feet of seething hatred.
The TV series Jack-of-All-Trades features appearances by Napoleon himself, played by Verne "Mini-Me" Troyer.
The pompous and authoritarian Captain George Mainwaring in Dad's Army is at least a head shorter than most of his platoon, and is often called "Napoleon" by the local ARP Warden. In one episode he had a Dream Sequence in which he was Napoleon.
Dr. Romano on ER, even though he could be quite the good guy at times.
Top Gear's Richard "Hamster" Hammond, although he isn't actually very short. The Napoleon stuff comes from working with a "seven foot oaf" who is big on the mockery. Nonetheless, at about 5'7", he's the smallest of the hosts and also probably the most foul-mouthed and adventurous.
And as much as Hammond hates it, his height actually saved his life during his infamous accident. Had he been any taller the 300mph crash would have decapitated him in addition to the grievous injuries he actually did suffer.
El Chapulín Colorado can't get five minutes straight without being called "short" in a way or another, to the more insulting. The most memorables takes on it involve the famous "Pastillas de Chiquitolina" (Smallinium Pills), who can turn anyone who gulps them into Fun Size.
Chapulín:(showing the bottle) With one of these pills, I can become incredibly tiny! Just see! (El Chapulín swallows one pill and instantly shrinks to Action Figure size) Helped: Whoa! This is amazing! I though that you couldn't get smaller, but I figure I was totally wrong! Chapulín: They take advantage of my nobility...
On an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Tom Servo, who is the smallest of the 'Bots, got "short man's disease" and started expressing a higher level of machismo as a result.
An episode of the reality show Tool Academy features a contestant accused by the entire cast of being a Napoleon due to his short height and arrogance. Other contestants repeatedly assert that he is jealous of their larger physiques and wonder what a short man could possibly be arrogant about.
Ben Linus of LOST gets extra points for being implicitly compared to Napoleon once or twice. At 5'8'', he's just Napoleon's height, too, and while quite the gentleman, certainly dangerous and power-hungry enough to qualify.
Blaine Anderson from Glee shows flashes of this from time to time, being 5'7" in a cast where the average male height is 5'10 to six feet. The crew tries to use camera tricks to make Blaine seem appropriately tall compared to his boyfriend Kurt, but it's getting less frequent (and a number of fans like it more than the traditional height conventions).
Rumplestiltskin (and by extension Mr. Gold) in Once Upon a Time fits, given he's the shortest of the male cast and is still the person everyone fears because he's one of the most powerful beings in the series. Considering the actual fairy tale version of Rumpelstiltskin is an imp (and Rumple's called that numerous times), it makes sense.
Gabriel is a slight subversion because he's actually quite jovial, if a bit of a dick, but considering the average height of the main cast of this show, any person under 6'0 (actor Richard Speight Jr is 5'8) who can physically hand Sam and Dean their asses when he lets his temper fly is noteworthy. (Being an angel helps)
Crowley. Short and as power-hungry and temperamental as a Napoleon. The fact that he even looks a bit like Napoleon helps.
It's all relative: in Everybody Loves Raymond, Frank Barone is by no means a short man, approaching six feet tall. But both his adult sons are taller still. Frank therefore tries to exert dominance and alpha-male status over Raymond and robert - especially the hulking six-foot-eight Robert - at every possible opportunity. An unfulfilled working life as an accountancy wage-slave, low on the employment totem pole, didn't help. Frank also has military fantasies expressed through American Civil War re-enactment. But his Josephine generally gives him short shrift.
If you wanna live, live I beg you treat me good I'm like a walking razor Don't you watch my size I'm dangerous
In international football (soccer), quite a number of the truly great centre forwards were of below-average height with a somewhat squat figure that belied their talent for explosive speed and ability to jump higher than taller defenders to head a ball.
Ferenc Puskas of Hungary
Uwe Seeler (known to his teammates as "Dicker" = "fat one")
Gerd Müller (fondly known as "kleines dickes Müller" = "little fat Müller") of West Germany.
Romário is 5'6 and fits the trope perfectly: huge ego, got into a few field brawls (in this he's the guy that arrives when his teammate gets punched and falls). Even his style of play puts him here: he didn't avoid contact or dive (that much), rather getting deep into the area to score.
Rugby hookers tend to be the smallest member of the "tight five." The two locks are locks because they're tall, the two props are props because they aren't quick lock tall, but aren't short and are usually the heaviest players on the field, while the hooker is a hooker because he's shorter than the props, while being strong enough to push forwards around and crazy enough to volunteer to play hooker. Hookers also have a reputation for being more crazy and violent than typical Rugby players. Front row positions (hooker and props) are the most violent positions, particularly due to the force of scrums, in addition to the usual forward duties of constant rucking and tackling everything that moves. The hooker has it particularly bad in scrums, where his arms and shoulders are stretched back around the props' backs in a position that lends itself to injuries if the scrum collapses. The hooker also has to do all of this against guys who typically outweigh him by 20 pounds, partly due to height differences. This led to the creation of a Venn Diagram◊ calling rugby hookers crafty hobbits with psychopathic tendencies.
In the BattleTech universe, Victor Steiner-Davion may be the most obvious example (mostly because he regularly gets accused of this by his detractors). In reality, he's not overly sensitive about his height... but he is physically short, has to live up to being the firstborn son of two of the most famous and popular rulers in the recent history of the Inner Sphere, and doesn't suffer fools gladly, so, close enough.
Subverted in the song "Napoleon" from the Guy Bolton-P. G. Wodehouse-Jerome Kern Have a Heart:
Napoleon was a little guy, They used to call him Shorty. He only stood about so high, His chest was under forty. But when they started joshing him, His pride it didn't injure. He'd simply say, "Ah, fade 'way!" He knew that he had ginger.
Ultimate Supreme Executive Chairman Drek from Ratchet & Clank, and Emperor Percival Tachyon from Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction.
Ramon Salazar, the insane Castellan midget from Resident Evil 4, who also dresses in period clothing to make the connection even more obvious. Of course, he's also got progeria and a creepy laugh.
Laharl from Disgaea, who would likely (and literally) skin you alive for saying such.
Roger S. Huxley in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. Obsessed with proving himself to be "a real man", and three feet tall. Admittedly, he's twelve years old, but judging by his father's height, he's not likely to get much taller.
Manuel Calavera of Grim Fandango is a protagonist example. He has stubby legs that force him to wear lifts while acting in his official capacity as a reaper, and has a nigh-indomitable will which takes him from one end of the Land of the Dead to the other and from deck-swabber to captain of a ship within a year. While he doesn't appear to be good at fighting, he has only lost to Domino Hurley (once in backstory and once in Year 3) and managed to lay out Nick Virago with one punch in Year 2.
Inverted when one of the minds the player enters belongs to Fred Bonaparte, a direct descendant of Napoleon. Unlike his ancestor he himself is tall, and completely lacking in ambition, and as such is haunted by a fear of not living up to his family's reputation.
Played straight with Coach Oleander, who starts the whole "take over the world with psychic death tanks" thing because he was refused military service because of his height.
Zack Temple from Mega Man Star Force seems to be this only without the personality. He's definitely self-conscious about his height, standing less than four feet tall, and is constantly looking for ways to make himself taller (at least on the same level as Geo, and Luna and her hair).
Ripto from the Spyro the Dragon series. He typically rides on a dinosaur to make himself appear taller, and the heroes often make jokes about his height.
Final Fantasy II: One of Emperor Palamecia's dragons, Count Borghen, fits this trope, and even kind of looks like the dictator himself. He has no real bearing on the story, other than offing one of your more useful party members.
Arguably, Kirby. Combine the fact that he's about 8 inches, nearly destroys the universe when someone steals his cake, and American Kirby Is Hardcore, you've got one nasty puffball.
The Ax-Crazy Mori Kibbutz from Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony. He is notably shorter than any of the other characters, including his younger brother, Brucie, whom he regularly bullies and belittles. He strongly belives that he is superior to everyone else and will constantly brag about the size of his penis and his military training, especially if is his height is mentioned.
Doctor Neo Cortex of the Crash Bandicoot series. When the series began, he was so short that his in-game model couldn't even walk properly due to the insufficient length of his legs. It is implied in the introduction of The Huge Adventure that abuse related to his height (along with They Called Me Mad!) was what drove Doctor Cortex towards a life of trying to Take Over the World. It should be noted that he has gotten taller in later games; his official height is given as 5'3" in the Nintendo DS version of Crash of the Titans, and he now has visible knees.
This title notably fits the champion Veigar from League of Legends, the tiny champion who complains of short jokes while still trying to feign being evil.
Luna in Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranqulity is the shortest bachelorette, being nearly half of the size of the protagonist and having to jump in order to kiss him during the wedding. She's gets quite angry when anyone mentions her height. Her Animal Parade design is much taller, possibly to avert accusations of her being underage or pandering to lolicons.
Fire Emblem Awakening gives us Ricken, a Child Mage who is seriously embarrassed by his lack of height and has a massive complex about being shorter than almost everyone, even kids who are around his age.
Fate/stay night: Even though he doesn't really fit this trope in terms of personality (or height for that matter), Shirou Emiya seems to be quite conscious about being "too short," even though he's actually normal height. It seems like he'll eventually go through an insane growth spurt, but chances are that this spurt is of unnatural causes.
The 4th case of Ace Attorney Investigations is set 7 years before the rest of the cases. Various jokes are made about the then-13-year-old Franziska von Karma being short. Any of the comments that are said aloud end in a lash from her whip. This is the only place these jokes are made, as in the main setting she's in her late teens or early 20s and isn't (as) short.
Paul Hammerbro from Bowser's Kingdom. The only one shorter than him is Jeff and Paul has a temper to match.
Pella Brightwing from Twice Blessed is a pixie princess. She's also incredibly hot blooded and seems enjoy beating/blowing up things much bigger than her, especially if they make a crack about her size.
Belkar Bitterleaf from The Order of the Stick is short even for a halfling. He's also a Chaotic EvilAx-CrazyBlood Knight who will kill anyone or anything if given the chance, not just people who make fun of his height. He at one point claims this was inspired by other halflings making fun of his height, but he was just trying to get some roleplaying XP at the time so this may just be a convenient lie.
Permission Sam, arch-nemesis of Dominic in the Magic: The Gathering webcomic UG Madness, is a condescending jerk who plays solely control decks. He's also just 5'1", a fact that Dominic frequently uses to get on his nerves.
Agent Jerry is foul-tempered and quick to fire off his gun (fortunately, he's a terrible shot). Floyd Fitznewski, on the other hand, isn't really mean, he just has too much energy and likes to start fights for the heck of it — especially if it involves a flying tackle.
Meanwhile, Galatea seems to have a crush on the actual historical Napoleon. "He's so complex, they named one after him!"
Lord Stanley in Erfworld. "I'll ignore one height crack. One."
The ultimate example might be Plankton from Sponge Bob Square Pants, who is miniscule compared to the rest of the characters, whose height is typically less than 10 inches.
The latter half of Pinky and the Brain. He was even mistaken for Napoleon in one episode, securing him control of France. That is, until the real deal walked under the "You must be this tall to enter" signs Brain set up at the border specifically to keep him out.
Ren from The Ren & Stimpy Show. It helps that he's a Chihuahua, well-known in Real Life for yapping impotently at people as if they were the boss. And he's well-known for going psycho. Ren has been described thusly: "He would rip your heart out, if only he had the strength."
The episode "Avatar Day" has a flashback showing Chin the Conqueror, a cruel, and rather short, warlord who took over most of the Earth Kingdom before being defeated and humiliated by Avatar Kyoshi.
Jade from Jackie Chan Adventures may qualify. Usually she's just an over-enthusiastic kid, but then she also utters such gems as "If you harm one hair on his head, you're gonna hafta answer to me!" and totally means it. Whatever you do, do not call her a shrimp.
In The Venture Bros., Tim-Tom and Kevin are Dr. Girlfriend's "Murderous Moppets" from her days as the Au Pair. They're a pair of creepy midgets who always want to stab things, though their personalities are purely servile to Dr. Girlfriend and they act like her pets. They were even like this to The Monarch (Dr. Ex-Girlfriend Mrs. The Monarch's husband by then) until he got fed up and put the fear of The Monarch into them. They still act like this to nearly everyone else, though.
Cliffjumper from Transformers Generation 1. Basically, he's the same as Bumblebee as far as physical appearance goes (except red in colour), thus making him one of the smallest of the Autobots. Yet the dude is constantly in the middle of fights. He also has the habit of pulling a BFG literally out of nowhere.
Dirt Boss, the third Constructicon from Transformers Animated. While Mixmaster and Scrapper were Punch Clock Villains who followed whoever had the tastiest oil, this guy was planning to take over Detroit minutes after his creation.
Scrappy-Doo from Scooby-Doo. The other characters had to constantly restrain him from making patently suicidal frontal attacks on much larger opponents. (Then again, since at least Fred and Velma were always convinced from the get-go that the ghosts were really guys in suits, why did the others always run?)
Female version: Marcia the marsupial mouse from Blinky Bill can be downright nasty at times.
Mr. Mufflin from Fanboy and Chum Chum. No taller than 11-year-old Fanboy, a Perpetual Frowner, absolutely uncaring for his job (frequently reminds himself that it's only 12 years until his retirement) and prone to treating students inequitably.
In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Bullseye!" one of the contestants in the Pageant Of Evil is a Dr. Diminutive, who introduces himself by saying, "I don't have a Napoleon complex! Napoleon had a me complex!" He's quickly disqualified for being too short.
Bart Simpson in The Simpsons episode "Radioactive Man", in an attempt to get the part for Fallout Boy for the titular film being made, did several things indicative of the trope, including wearing elevator shoes, wearing a pin-stripe suit with vertical lines, and having a chihuahua as a scale for comparison. He ultimately doesn't get the part only because he was still a few inches too short. Milhouse got the part instead.
The actual Napoleon Bonaparte was 5'7, above average height for an 18th century Frenchman (5'5). It was propaganda from his sworn enemy, England, that created his reputation as a miniature, petty tyrant. A number of misconceptions have aided in perpetuating the image to this day. First, French feet of the time period were longer than modern feet, causing his height in French feet to be numerically smaller (he was 5'2" on the French scale). Also, his nickname le Petit Caporal, "the Little Corporal", actually referred to his humble background and modesty around his troops, rather than his physical size. Finally, he was often seen during war time on foot, surrounded by hulking bodyguards (who had a height requirement) and men on horses, making him look short by comparison. (He also came from upper-class stock, who at this time were noticeably taller than most people; the other men of power at the time would have been closer to modern averages.)
Ironically, one of the most celebrated British heroes of the Napoleonic Wars, Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, was only 5'4'', small for an Englishman, especially of his class; he was also very slightly built, probably little more than 100 lbs. His fame was assured by his habit of not only 'showing his chest on the quarterdeck' as officers were expected to (and thus exposing oneself to both cannon and enemy snipers) but covering his chest in official regalia to make it clear to the enemy exactly who he was (including in the devastating and incredibly dangerous attack his ship made at Trafalgar, sailing cross-wise though a line of enemy vessels). However, Nelson flaunted his small stature and disabilities (he had lost a hand and was blind in one eye after a head injury), believing that his physical disadvantages underlined his bravery.
Male politicians and political leaders often go to great lengths to prevent themselves from appearing short.
Louis XIV, who has a very similar reputation to Napoleon himself as a powerful warmonger, was about 5' 5'', which was considerably shorter than the average aristocrat in France at the time. He regularly wore high heelsnote Louis XIV actually influenced what eventually became a trend for women, and he did the same with stockings and extremely tall wigs to make him appear much taller than he really was. He also carefully ensured that paintings would depict him as being the largest and most notable figure, if there were others in the painting.
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is infamous for his attempts to hide his short height. While ex-president Bush is 15 cm (6 inches) taller than him, they appear the same size on the rightmost photo◊. But what is the guy on the right looking at? There are also some official pictures of French governments◊ where he can be seen on the tips of his feet in order to look taller. Some people actually compare him with Napoleon for this reason. One of his nicknames among his opponents is "Naboleon" (Midgetoleon). Ironically, few people would care about his height if he didn't go to such embarrassing lengths to conceal it: many recent world leaders like Vladimir Putin, Dmitri Medvedev, Hu Jintao, and his successor and main political rival (François Hollande) are about as short or even shorter than him and their height is almost never commented upon. In fact, his temper about his height is so famous that songs have been written about it. This page has a few examples.
Joseph Stalin was around 165-168 cm (5'5"-5'6"). His statues and portraits take care to make him appear taller, as well as conceal his withered arm. He didn't like being around men who were taller than him in general; almost all his deputies were notably short.
Caesar Augustus was around 5'7" according to his secretary (5'9" in Roman units and average for a 1st century CE male), but biographer Suetonius says this is slightly inflated and he was known for wearing thick-soled shoes.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il was infamous for wearing platform shoes and a bouffant hairstyle to make himself seem taller. When asked about Kim's height, Madeleine Albright noted that without his lifts, she stood eye-to-eye with him.
At 5'2", Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the same height as Kim Jong-Il.
While George W. Bush is not short, in the 2004 American presidential election he faced the much taller John Kerry. A minor news story broke revealing the back-and-forth negotiations between the two presidents' camps on how to film the debates. The Bush camp was particularly concerned about Bush appearing too short while standing near Kerry. Despite their efforts it became fairly common to portray Bush as a midget in political cartoons, which already existed because of Bush's Too Dumb to Live image and the fact that he was his father's son he was often compared to a small spoiled kindergartner wearing his father's suits in cartoons. This image may also have contributed to the idea that he was much smaller than he actually was.
Inverted by George W. Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, during his tenure as Ronald Reagan's vice-president. Bush was an inch taller than Reagan and took pains to avoid standing next to him in photos until after Reagan's term of office was over.
Small dogs are generally more aggressive than large dogs due to the fact that they have to work so much harder to maintain their place in the hierarchy. Their higher metabolism also gives them more forceful personalities in general, whether friendly or mean. Even the tiniest and cutest dogs have the instincts of hunters. In fact, many small dog breeds (like terriers) were specifically bred to hunt and kill vermin. Compounding the problem, many owners fail to train their small dogs properly, believing that their Mister Muffykins is harmless.
Smaller breeds of animals in general are more excitable and aggressive than larger breeds due to increased metabolism. Social animals also maintain hierachies, so smaller individuals need to work much harder to maintain their place.
Harlan Ellison is of short stature and is known for his forceful personality. In the documentary Dreams With Sharp Teeth he describes himself during his days in the military as a "mean little dog" who, though "86 pounds soaking wet," refused to give up and never collapsed during training. Contrary to the trope, he avoided confrontations with the other soldiers by volunteering to help them write letters to their girlfriends.
Alexander the Great was purported to be 5'4", although considering what time period he lived in that isn't that small. Average height for Mediterranean men of the time was around 170 cm (5'7"), but his enemies the Ancient Persian royalty and nobility were reputedly big men with huge physical strength.
Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann, the stars of Withnail and I, once had not-quite-an-argument — apparently more of a friendly debate — about whether Real Classic Movie Stars are generally short, according to Grant's memoirs. McGann, who's 5'8", thought so; Grant — 6'2" — didn't. Score one for the little guy; McGann won.
Bank robber George "Baby Face" Nelson was a raving loony, with a whole keyboard full of Berserk Buttons, but the biggest one was his height: he was only 5'4".
Although he was portrayed by 6'2 Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia, in real life T.E. Lawrence was 5'5.
Prince is 5'2". He is also known as being one of the hardest to work with musicians/producers in the industry. And he sometimes wears massive platform shoes when performing.
When Prince Eugene of Savoy-Carignan (1663-1736) requested to be appointed to be given command of a regiment, King Louis XIV of France refused because he said Eugene was too scrawny and too little. Refusing to accept this, Eugene entered the service of the Holy Roman Emperor and eventually rose to supreme command of the Austrian Army. Especially during the War Of Spanish Succession, in which Eugene together with the Duke of Marlborough led the main Allied Army, Louis must have deeply regretted judging the man once known as the "little abbé" by his appearance...
There is an (unreliable as it contains some supernatural detail) oral history of a Viking warrior chief known as 'Ivor the Boneless' whose lifestory suggests strongly that he was born with brittle bones, which would have made his legs not only very short but too weak to stand on (the saga says that he was borne into battle carried on a shield by 4 attendants, and used the very un-chieflike longbow (which would not have recoiled on his body).