In any series of ostensibly-similar individuals, the last one will always be smaller than (or otherwise different from) the rest, and will often cause more trouble than the others. Just to drive the point home, they may have an Odd Name Out
When the Youngest Child Wins
, the child is often The Runt at the End
, and may also be The Fool
. In a Five-Man Band
, this character will be either the Tagalong Kid
or (if it's a group of Action Girls
), The Chick
. In less sensitive works, will also often be a Butt Monkey
Be careful, though, because sometimes The Runt at the End turns out to be
a Pint-Sized Powerhouse
Compare Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
, The Last of These Is Not Like the Others
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Anime and Manga
- The majority view in Axis Powers Hetalia fandom is that Arthur is this compared with his brothers. Latvia also probably counts.
- Weird anime example: Team Sexy Madam (Lovely Madam in the English translation) from Magical Project S was a team of adult women (housewives and office ladies) press-ganged by the villain, Ramia, to defeat Pretty Sammy with Sexy Power. Except for the sixth and final member, who was very small — and was later shown to be a popular junior high school girl.
- In an episode of Pokémon, a Gliscor and its group of Gligar followers had one of these. Ash ended up catching it. Paul, meanwhile, caught the leader.
- And for human characters, Misty, whose sisters use this trope to tease her endlessly, to her annoyance.
- Technically speaking, The Major. Of all the members of Millenium (most of whom are statuesque vampires, except for the Captain, who is a werewolf and the most statuesque of all), he stands out for being short and fat, wearing thick spectacles, not wearing a military uniform, and displaying no superhuman abilities. This is in stark contrast to his status as Millenium's beloved leader, who is extremely charismatic, and quite a skilled strategist. He's also a cyborg. Well, was a cyborg. He's kinda just a robot now...
- Samurai Seven, as seen below in the Seven Samurai example below, has Katsushiro, the Wide-Eyed Idealist and physically smallest character.
- In Fables, Bigby used to be the runt of his litter, and his name was even given by his brothers as mocking of his tiny size. Lately they abandoned him, but Bigby got bigger, and bigger, and bigger, until he became the Big Badass Wolf of legend.
- Joe Dalton in Lucky Luke. He tries his best to act the leader, but even when that works, he just ends up the Runt At The Front instead.
- Explicitly invoked as homage by Steven Spielberg in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, with the little red light that trails behind the larger, more physical-looking UFOs — and causes more trouble and fuss.
- This trope makes an appearance in the original 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street: At the climactic moment of the film, a parade of burly bailiffs stream into the courtroom each toting two large bags of mail; the parade ends with a smaller bailiff carrying a single bag.
- Shows up in, of all things, The Magnificent Seven — with Chico, the inexperienced young gun, tagging along behind the other more experienced gunslingers on the ride to the Mexican village.
- This follows from Seven Samurai, with Katsuhiro tagging along with the much older samurai. Of course, Kikuchiyo is the real odd one out of that group.
- Every time the stampeding animals go by in Jumanji, a rhino slowly trots after them as it huffs and puffs for air.
- In a brilliantly timed and executed visual gag in The Three Stooges' short "Calling All Curs," the boys are forced to beat a hasty retreat when the dinner bell sounds at their dog hospital and a massive clusterfuck of pooches stampedes down the hall.....followed after a brief delay by one lone scrawny little pipsqueak of a mutt.
- The entire reason the Home Alone movies exist is because the main characters are this.
- Electra Glide in Blue where the lead character, a motorcycle cop, is almost a foot shorter than his fellow officers. It's underlined in the opening sequence.
- In The Sound of Music, one of the children asks Uncle Max if they're really going to sing in front of a whole lot of people tonight and he says they are and reads their names from the program, ending with Gretel. She asks why she's always last and Max replies "Because you are the most important."
- Snot Rod from Cars appears to lag behind the other Delinquent Road Hazards, the only time he ever catches up is whenever he sneezes. Snot Rod is the only Road Hazard not to be based on a Japanese tuner car (he is based on an American drag racer instead), the only Road Hazard to be colored with warm colors (he is colored orange, while everyone else is colored purple, green, or blue), and according to his toy bio, he is the youngest member of his quartet.
- Subverted in a memorable action sequence in Tim Burton's Batman Returns. Batman is on the street at night beating up a gang of criminals dressed as circus clowns, all of whom are either karate experts or are armed to the teeth. Suddenly he finds himself surrounded by, from left to right 1) a clown wielding a rocket launcher, 2) a clown swinging some nunchuks, 3) a clown brandishing two Japanese swords, and 4) an ordinary-looking woman (ordinary by the gang's standards, anyway) with curly blonde hair, a pink dress, no weapons, and a cute (but growling) poodle at her feet. Batman electronically programs a throwing disc to hit all four criminals, and when he throws it, it knocks out the three clowns fairly quickly - but never hits the woman, because her dog jumps up impossibly high and catches it in its jaws! The dog runs off, and not only does Batman never get his weapon back, but it's used against him later in the movie. (There's also a second subversion in that the woman isn't just The Dark Chick; she's the third-ranked member of the entire gang, and by the movie's climax is serving as The Dragon after Batman nabs the number-two man.)
- Shows up as well in Pee-wee's Big Adventure (also by Tim Burton) in the scene at the shopping center, when Pee-wee, tormented by the theft of his bicycle, begins to imagine seeing bikes everywhere. Bikes of all kinds are pedaled past him, and they start getting increasingly smaller until a remote-controlled toy bike "driven" by an action figure zips past.
- Airplane! has a funny one near the end with a long line of emergency vehicles driving onto the runway at the airport in Chicago to deal with the about-to-crash flight from Los Angeles. The vehicles get increasingly puny and ridiculous, ending up with the likes of a beer truck and one of those "wiener-dog" cars.
- Before the Delta Tau Chi members launch their mission of sabotage against Faber College's homecoming parade, there is a "tick-tock" montage (with eerie music by Elmer Bernstein) of several of the guys checking their watches to see if it's time to go. Everyone is wearing an expensive watch that marks the time as precisely eleven o'clock - except for Bluto, whose watch is really cheap-looking and broken, and is showing a blatantly wrong time to boot.
- The director's cut of Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, which was the version shown on American television, had an extra gag when Frank Drebin was arriving at the state prison (going undercover as an inmate to infiltrate a gang of terrorists). Frank is led past cells containing increasingly intimidating criminals: a guy so tough he lights matches by scraping them across his face, a guy so tough he lights firewood by scraping it across his face, an African lion, and...a mime, who is not in a cell and who thinks he's in an "invisible cage." (In the theatrical version, only the first two guys were shown.)
- The nine kids who attend the big gang meeting in The Warriors include their "tagger", Rembrandt, who is the smallest of them all and the most naive (and also the only Latino in the gang, although this is never mentioned). The video game based on the film reveals that he was the last to join (only a couple of months before the big meeting) and brings out the Big Brother Instinct in the other members. He does succeed in punching out a Mook when the gang gets cornered in a subway restroom (after blinding the guy by spraying him in the face with his paint can).
- In Finland, the last person of a line who is smaller than the others is referred to as "the tip of the tail" after a scene in the country's national novel Seven Brothers, where the titular siblings are mocked in a song which ends by calling the youngest brother Eero, who's always lagging behind, the tip of their tail.
- Eero is also the smartest of the lot, though his quick tongue often puts him at odds with his brothers.
- From Discworld, the City Watch has Nobby Nobbs, who is shorter than most dwarves, unsavory and ugly enough that he has a signed statement from Lord Vetinari confirming that he's human.
- And Vetinari himself once asked if they were forged!
- In The Bible, King David was significantly smaller and less important-looking than his brothers.
- In Charlottes Web, Wilbur (the pig) is literally this trope. He is saved by Fern, who begs her father not to kill him because he is smaller than the other pigs.
- The title character in Madeline.
- In Gene Stratton Porter's A Daughter of the Lands, the mother singles out Kate to not go to school because she's the youngest.
"The difference is that I am past sixty now. I was stout as an ox when Mary wanted to go to school. It is your duty and your job to stay here and do this work."
"To pay for having been born last? Not a bit more than if I had been born first. Any girl in the family owes you as much for life as I do; it is up to the others to pay back in service, after they are of age, if it is to me. I have done my share.
- In The Hobbit, Bombur, the last of Thorin's dwarves, is an overweight, incompetent comic relief character.
- Stephen King's It has Stanley Uris, the token Jewish kid and Lovable Coward of the "Losers' Club." He's far from being the smallest of the boys (and he's bigger than the girl of the group, of course), but when the kids go down into the sewers to hunt a monster that has been killing and eating children, Stanley is the most visibly nervous of the bunch and is so scared that he trails behind the others when they make their way into the heart of the sewer system. His dawdling eventually gets him captured by the town bully (whose gang has been stalking the Losers' Club) and nearly cut with a switchblade knife before the bully and his gang are frightened off by the monster. Later, the monster attacks the Losers' Club and grabs Stan first because he is the most fearful and "You all taste so much better when you're afraid!" Then it is time for Eddie Kaspbrak, the literal runt of the group, to step up and spray the monster in the face with battery acid from his asthma tube.
Live Action TV
- Corporal Jones in Dad's Army is smaller, stands at the end when the troops fall in, and always comes to attention half a second behind everyone else.
- When Val Kilmer hosted Saturday Night Live, he reprised his Jim Morrison character from The Doors in a skit about the dead Morrison forming a rock band in Heaven. He picks several deceased rock musicians...and then his final pick is jazz great Louis Armstrong, whose musical style doesn't mesh with that of the others at all, so they just have him play a trumpet solo at the end of every song.
- The one where Garfield met three rats named Rip, Juanita, and Bob:
Garfield: How'd you rats get your names?
Rip: They call me Rip because I'm fast.
Juanita: Juanita was my grandmother's name.
Garfield: How about you, Bob?
Bob: That's the sound my head makes when I run into a wall.
- Orson in U.S. Acres is considered the runt of the litter.
- In recent years this role has usually been filled by Hornswoggle, a dwarf. At first he was used purely for comedic purposes, but he Took a Level in Badass when he was the last of several cruiserweights to enter an open match for Chavo Guerrero's title at the 2007 Great American Bash. To the surprise of everyone, he won the title after pinning Jamie Noble (who served as the Butt Monkey of WWE for several months afterward because of this). But as the years have gone by, Hornswoggle has gradually suffered Badass Decay and now is used primarily as a mascot again.
- Then there's Maria Kanellis, who, before she Took a Level in Badass, was depicted as not quite up to par with the other WWE Divas.
- In the summer of 2010, when The Nexus were still a major threat, Heath Slater was the puniest of the faction and was mocked by John Cena for having long red hair similar to that of the Wendy's hamburger chain mascot.
- The Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, a group of male ballerinas (yes, you read that right) demonstrate the trope nicely in this pas de quatre from Swan Lake.
- In Of Thee I Sing, when the Presidential baby is about to be born, the White House receives baby carriages from many world countries (France, of course, is not one of them). These are presented in a long line, and the last is a wee one from Scotland.
- While they're all the same size, the cut scenes in Wario Land II commonly featured one Spear Goom who would run into the others, causing them to flip around and glare at him before continuing on.
- Similarly, whenever a mob of Shy Guys runs around in Paper Mario, there is always a straggler who manages to trip before catching up.
- The opening sequence of Super Mario Bros 3 also does this — a group of koopas goes past, then one lone Koopa Troopa follows at twice the speed, trying to catch up...
- In Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Bowser's ultimate attack, the Broggy Bonker, can, with good timing, result in a gang of Blitties running by to mob the enemy. There is of course a brief pause between the time the penultimate Blitty runs offscreen and the time the last one appears.
- In The Legend Of Zelda Twilight Princess, a group of cowardly castle guards run away from having to help someone across a certain very dangerous field (so Link has to do it) and the pint-sized, plump one at the end is the last to run away. Hilarity and annoyance ensues.
- There's a group of ogres that patrol across the Badlands in World of Warcraft. They walk in a line and the last one is about one third the size of the others.
- And then, there's Mazzranache, the evil pink tallstrider of Mulgore. As of Cataclysm, she's followed by a new clutch of babies. The last in line is not only a runt, but skitters around erratically.
- Don't forget Beauty, the core hound boss in Blackwing with her litter of pups Lucky, Spot, Buster.. and Runty. Runty stays in the back during the fight and hides and is a non issue through the fight, yet he is still targetable and even killable. If you do, though, prepare for a world of pain from his mother who gains a 200% damage buff when the little guy is killed.
- Although all members the bad guy caveman tribe in the caveman section of Live A Live are Palette Swaps, there's the one guy who keeps getting left behind, assigned the difficult tasks and falling into pits while the others move on.
- Also happens in the opening segment of the same chapter, where the hero is chased by a stampede of mammoths, followed by one tiny one.
- In Final Fantasy VII, the mini game Mog House (the least likely candidate for being Side Tracked By The Gold Saucer) has as its ending a long line of little baby Mogs ("Moogles" in every other FF) ending in a tiny little one who trips. It's so cute it Tastes Like Diabetes.
- Team Fortress 2: The Scout is even called "the runt of the litter" in his official wiki biography.
- In the original American Pac Man, the fourth ghost ("Clyde") is the only one whose name doesn't rhyme and is the ghost who's least aggressive and most likely to do something stupid in-game.
- Mech Quest has cowboy-themed mechs available, one of which has a horse stampede as an available attack. Every so often, once the horse silhouettes have gone past, a little one will patter across the screen.
- In Star Wars: Dark Forces (one of the first first-person shooters, coming right after Doom, you play as Rebel agent Kyle Katarn, who, after helping to destroy the first Death Star (from the original movie) in a prelude mission, embarks on a quest to foil Darth Vader's subordinate General Mohc (pronounced "mock"), who has designed and built an army of "Dark Troopers" - robot stormtroopers coated in a rare bulletproof metal that are so physically powerful they can wield rocket launchers the size of tree trunks and reduce entire Rebel bases to smoking ruins. After fighting your way through a dozen missions during which the enemies you face get more and more dangerous, you finally sneak aboard Mohc's ship, the Arc Hammer, where all the Dark Troopers are being constructed. Then, after slaying a mini-army of the robots, you confront the head Dark Trooper - General Mohc himself, unrecognizable behind a wall of impenetrable armor. Once you have killed Mohc (using one of his own weapons), you make your getaway to a cargo ship linking up with the Arc Hammer, hurrying to the cargo bay only to confront...a single brown-shirted Imperial officer, whom you can easily destroy with a couple of pistol shots or even a single punch to the jaw, pathetically trying to stop you from escaping. (In the game manual, the programmers even admitted that they only put this little guy at the end just as a contrast to show how immense the arriving cargo ship is.)
- This is almost a signature trope for the works of Walt Disney:
- Dopey from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is perhaps the best-known Disney example.
- Snow White has a turtle who keeps lagging behind the other animals. By the time it catches up, the others are already on their way out.
- The small pirate in the green coat in Peter Pan.
- Fantasia has several:
- In the Chinese Dance part of the "Nutcracker Suite", performed by dancing mushrooms. The tiniest one (called "Hop Low" by the animators) has trouble keeping in step with the rest.
- Another Fantasia instance is the little black Pegasus foal in the Mt. Olympus section, who likewise can't keep up and generally screws up ... until all the others are frolicking in a rainbow, when the black one comes fluttering down for a perfect landing, the soul of decorum.
- The King of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, who is very small and meek compared to the large Queen.
White Rabbit: Introducing her royal majesty, the Queen of Hearts!
(entire crowd cheers; King tugs on the rabbit's coat)
White Rabbit: (unenthusiastic) And the king.
Small Voice: Hooray!
- The last bird to take his seat in the Adventures In Music cartoons, "Melody" and "Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom". The character is also a Vocal Dissonance, as he's a bass, and the rest of the characters are sopranos and tenors.
- Hathi Jr. from The Jungle Book, who brings up the end of the column of marching elephants.
- Ed the hyena in The Lion King.
- Thalia, the short, plump muse in Disney's Hercules.
- In The Emperor's New Groove Kuzco was chased through forest by a pack of jaguars, all of them big and scary, and the last one a cute little cub.
- The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh had an episode about questing for the Land of Milk and Honey, featuring a herd of heffalumps thundering past, followed by a very small heffalump chanting "The land of milk and honey! The land of milk and honey!"
- Benny in Top Cat.
- A Looney Tunes short which parodied Disney's Fantasia fused this with an inversion of "The Ugly Duckling": a black duckling attached itself to a family of swans, adding a discordant visual and auditory note to their graceful progress.
- Even Scooby-Doo has the gang of teenagers (and the dog)... plus Scrappy Doo, who always wanted to fight the ghosts.
- The animated adaptation of The Phantom Tollbooth did this with King Azaz's senior advisers.
- A particularly early episode of The Fairly Oddparents had Timmy wishing for "a ton" of clones of himself in order to deal with all the chores imposed on him by Vicky. Cosmo and Wanda do the math and figure out that it adds up to exactly "forty-four and a half Timmies". After Timmy gives the orders to his clones, they all march out of the room grunting like soldiers. Right after the 44th Timmy? A half-sized clone with a high-pitched voice.
- Which means that Timmy only weighs roughly forty-five pounds.
- MGM and Warner Bros. both use this trope in a number of animated shorts with animals ranging from hounds to crocodiles. The runt usually says "I've been sick."
- Of course, The Simpsons does this a great deal:
- One episode centers around the nuclear plant's workers' union. Every time they hold a vote, everyone votes Aye, except for one nebbish little voice that chimes in with "Nay". Eventually Homer asks "Who keeps saying that?" Cut to a beefy blond guy and The Runt at the End. The runt points at the beefy guy and says (in that same voice) "It was him! Let's get him, fellas!" As the other workers pound the guy into pudding, the runt chuckles.
- From the same show, when a mob war between Fat Tony's mob and the Yakuza erupts on their front lawn, Homer, in a moment of Genre Savvyness, recognizes the little Yakuza member as a Pint-Sized Powerhouse.
Marge: Maybe we should go inside.
Homer: But Marge, that little guy hasn't done anything yet. Look at him! He's gonna do something and you know it's gonna be good.
(Door closes behind Homer) Little Japanese Mobster
: Hiiiiya! (Thud) Homer
- Another episode had Mr Burns releasing the hounds, where the usual procession of vicious guard dogs is followed by the elderly and obese "Crippler", who has apparently been around since the Sixties.
- In the episode in which the Springfield Elementary school bus crashes into the ocean and drifts off to a desert island, Bart has to swim down to the submerged bus to retrieve emergency supplies for himself and the rest of the kids. He sees various huge, scary sea creatures as he swims past, and finally has to confront a gigantic puffer fish...which then exhales, deflating down into a tiny minnow. Bart laughs and turns to leave - and then the little fish bites his bottom, ripping off a portion of his swim trunks (so you could say the fish "ate his shorts").
- In the classic Bugs Bunny cartoon Little Red Riding Rabbit, the Big Bad Wolf discovers several other wolves in Grandma's bed, and hustles them out. He starts to climb into the bed, only to have a smaller wolf (who was under the pillow!) scamper out after the others. The gag was repeated in the Sylvester cartoon "Little Red Rodent Hood", with cats instead of wolves.
Sylvester: Everybody wants to get into the act!
- In Hare We Go, Bugs is aboard the Santa Maria in 1492. As weeks drag by with no land in sight, the crew turn on Bugs - he quickly tacks a framed painting of an island on the ship's rail and cries out "Land!". All the crew jump through the frame and overboard...then a little crew guy runs up, and Bugs has to help him over the rail.
- The Russian animated version of Treasure Island had the runty pirate at the end who kept having to catch up to the rest.
- The creeping foot fungus in Courage the Cowardly Dog has the Big Toe (mob boss), 3 henchmen, and one inept henchman as the pinky-toe.
- In the Wile E Coyote And The Roadrunner cartoon "Ready, Set, Zoom!", when the Coyote dons an Acme Female Roadrunner Costume and is chased not by the Roadrunner but by many other hungry coyotes, the last coyote is noticeably smaller than the others.
- Tom had a similar experience in Tom And Jerry cartoon "The Brothers Carry Mouse Off". Tom dressed himself as a female mouse to catch Jerry and ended up chased by other cats, the last one of them quite small.
- Happens twice on Phineas and Ferb when Doofenshmirtz decides to clone himself and in another episode when he clones Perry. The botched version of himself doesn't seem to understand the situation and believes Perry to be a bunny. When one of the Perry clones come out awkwardly Doofenshmirtz feels very affectionate towards the poor creature, trying to teach it to use words instead of hitting people (even though the rest of the clones are an army).
- You'd also teach one of your army to use words instead of hitting people if you were the people.
- The Western episode of Tiny Toon Adventures had the Coyote Gang, which comprised Wile E., a couple of Dumb Muscle coyotes, and a The Runt at the End who looked like a Palette Swap of Calamity.
- In an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, an Adventurer Archaeologist named Daring Do is running through the jungle, pursued by several predators. Including a tiger, a panther, a cheetah, a lynx...and an adorable little house cat.
- This is mirrored later in the episode when Rainbow Dash tries to break into the hospital to finish reading the book. Dash runs afoul of two battleaxe nurses, an angry doctor...and an adorable little trainee filly.
- One "U.S. Acres" cartoon on Garfield and Friends had Roy Rooster win a game show reminiscent of Let's Make a Deal. The host keeps encouraging him to continue trading up for ever more impossibly fabulous prizes, up to and including eternal life. Roy then decides to trade up one more time, and finds that he has won...a dirty sock.
- Batman The Animated Series:
- "Almost Got 'Im" features several members of Batman's Rogues Gallery playing a card game at a nightclub and sharing stories about the occasions when they "almost got" Batman. You wouldn't expect Killer Croc to be the least threatening of the bunch, but he is; as the others' descriptions of their Death Traps get more and more elaborate, Croc fails to impress:
Joker: Who wants to go next!
Croc: ME! There I was, holed up in this quarry, when Batman came snooping around. He was getting closer...and closer...
Poison Ivy: And?
Croc: I threw a rock at him!
[The others stare dumbfounded for a few moments, then decide to just ignore Croc.]
Croc: (sheepish) It was a big rock...
- Subverted by "Sid the Squid" in "The Man Who Killed Batman." He is the smallest and most pathetic of a gang of crooks, but is also the one who always comes out smelling like a rose because of his ridiculously good fortune.
- There is a Rifftrax gag in the Transformers movie poking fun at a short man hanging in the back of the group at an army meeting.
Kevin: Hehe. Hey, look at that little eager guy in the back there.
Bill: *In a high, nasally voice* I want to help too, sir!
- The little ant who's always stopping to do things in the song "The Ants Go Marching One by One".
- 8 in a bed and the little one said, roll over, roll over. Until everybody but the little one fell out.
- And this little piggy went "wee wee wee wee" alllll the way home. Why? Who knows?
- Lil Orphan Orange (a parody of Little Orphan Annie) one of the mascots of Otter Pops, is the physically smallest character, which used to be especially apparent when all the characters were printed on the sides of the popsicles.
- This video. Watch the small monk second from the right (okay, almost at the end) whenever his group lifts their signs up high.
- Pluto used to be the runt at the end of the Solar System until it was demoted to "Dwarf Planet" status, although that decision may be reversed.
- Inverted with Mercury, however, now the Solar System's smallest planet again, it is also the planet closest to the Sun.
- Averted with Ceres, the smallest dwarf planet, which is located within the Asteroid Belt.
- The vowels A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y.
- In the famous Iwo Jima flag raising picture, the man farthest to the left is too short to help the others lift it.
- Piglets always nurse at the same teat, and the farther down the teat the less milk it gets, resulting in the piglet on the end being the smallest.
- Ringo Starr to the other three Beatles. Although he's now commonly understood to be a better drummer than everyone assumed, he was nonetheless the Odd Name Out, and certainly far smaller than his bandmates.
- There are 48 "contiguous" states in the U.S., which are, as the name implies, all pieces of one big rectangularish block of land. But there's two more states: Alaska, a frozen wasteland on the other side of Canada, not bordering any other states...and Hawaii, a chain of islands thousands of miles out to sea. On a map of the country, these last two usually appear awkwardly floating below the rest.