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There is a school of thought that supposes that part of the appeal of Humongous Mecha is... well, being humongous. A giant robot fight in the middle of a city or far above the earth allows for martial arts action coupled with lots of crazy weaponry, and plenty of property damage. However, now that the show's winding down and all the opponents are either dead or good, the Big Bad Eldritch Abomination or Sufficiently Advanced Alien of the day has shown up, and... well, it's kind of extra humongous. What's the solution?

Well, heroes are always cooler when you put them in giant robots, and your average giant robot is itself a hero, only fifty feet tall and metal, so...

This is basically what happens when you take this to its natural conclusion: a mecha which itself is riding in an even bigger mecha, or at least a mech-sized suit of Powered Armor. Sometimes there's a valid reason for this, but it's always at least part Rule of Cool.

Compare with Combining Mecha and the Mecha Expansion Pack.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Ur-Example is the Gordian, from the show Gordian Warrior, a dude inside a Motion-Capture Mecha inside a Motion-Capture Mecha inside another Motion-Capture Mecha. The design was later reused with some modifications as Vi-Kungfu from Machine Robo: Revenge of Chronos, but with one less mecha.
  • In Super Robot Retsuden — a Ken Ishikawa Affectionate Parody / Crossover — of several Go Nagai Mecha Shows, Mazinger Z, Great Mazinger, UFO Robo Grendizer, Getter Robo G AND Kotetsu Jeeg rode a ridiculously, impossibly, massively huge Transforming Mecha in the Final Battle.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray, as well. Initially, when Lowe Guele makes a 150-meter Gerbera Straight (which, by the way, re-redefines the BFS), he has to put his Astray Red Frame into a Junk Guild Power Loader (pictured above) just to swing it.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00
    • This is used for a surprise in the middle season: the Mighty Glacier Gundam Virtue is revealed to be just a Powered Armor of a smaller Fragile Speedster, Gundam Nadleeh. Dropping Virtue's armor off enables Nadleeh's pilot to play Judge, Jury, and Executioner on his teammates if he's dissatisfied with them.
    • Season 2 has the same in the form of the Seravee Gundam carrying the smaller Seraphim Gundam folded up on it's back. Or to be more exact, the two have the same cockpit but Seraphim is facing backwards (though it doesn't need the cockpit to operate; Seravee can launch and remote-control it). Unlike Nadleeh, Seraphim doesn't need to drop Seravee off piece by piece; it can simply eject and unfold. The Mobile Suit Variations line introduces an alternate version of Seravee that carries three weaker versions of Seraphim.
    • Gundam 00 Awakening Of The Trailblazer introduces the Raphael Gundam, whose backpack is the Seravee II.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory has the RX-78GP03 Gundam Dendrobium Stamen. Functionally it is a conventional RX-78 variant Gundam ("Stamen") which forms the controlling core of a massive mobile armor ("Orchis"). The Orchis section is primarily just a huge self-propelled weapons platform, and when the magazines are exhausted the Stamen can detach from the armor and fight normally. This is rather significant, as in the UC timeline mobile armors are non-humanoid weapon platforms and the only thing that can challenge a Gundam through sheer size and strength, and this was basically a Gundam-styled mobile armor.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn (at least in the OVA) the MSN-06S Sinanju becomes the core of the massive mobile armor NZ-999 Neo Zeong in final episode.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has the Space Gunmen, which are essentially up-scaled Gunmen capable of fighting and moving in space and piloted by regular Gunmen, which are then piloted by humans.
    • The show practically runs on this trope (In addition to the standard Hot-Blooded fare and universe-powering Rule of Cool) as it's essentially the major signature power of the Lagann - a smaller head-shaped robot compared to the standard Gunmen, it can drill itself into larger robots and take command of them. So, really. In the end, we have a human piloting a robot about the size of a human co-piloting a mech the size of a building piloting a robot the size of an entire city, piloting a robot the size of the MOON, co-piloting a robot who is larger then the biggest of galaxies.
    • And then they proceeded to break the barrier AGAIN in the expanded final battle in the compilation movie, by giving every member of the Dai-Gurren a Tengen Toppa mecha of their own, which combine into Super Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, which is the size of the universe and looks a lot like Kamina.
      • Although Super Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann might not technically count as a Mecha of any kind; where Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann was already less "mecha" and more "several red faces held together by some kind of green fire", Super Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is an entire universe in the shape of a shirtless man with spirals of green swirling coiling around his limbs, wearing Simon's Red Star Shades and a Dai-Gurren cape made of fire and with regular Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, visible in silhouette, standing in its face. A better description might well be a train of Meta Mecha ultimately piloting a god.
  • Bubblegum Crisis had the Motoslaves, Cool Bikes that transformed into Powered Armor for the Knight Sabers' Powered Armor.
  • Getter Robo has the terrifying ability to crash into any material, including organic masses and then reform them around itself into a larger Getter with the original buried in the center. Isn't that right Getter Emperor?
  • Martian Successor Nadesico has the Black Selena, a mecha inside a mecha inside a ship.
  • Code Geass: So, your resident Orange has just pledged his allegiance to your cause out of LOYALTY to your family? Now, we just need to give him a good custom mech, hmm... Hey, I've got it! Let's take the original Sutherland frame he piloted in the early series, and make it into the central core unit of the rebuilt Siegfried he became famous for at the end of the last season! Ladies and Gentlemen, I present - for your humble consideration - the STORM OF LOYALTY Sutherland Sieg! Basically, Jeremiah controlled the Siegfried through the core Sutherland Unit, which was itself outfitted with the Siegfried's telepathic controls (Rakshata is mentioned as being "disappointed" that the system isn't feasible for mass-production). When the Siegfried is destroyed, the Sutherland unit activates and comes into play. See it.
  • Guyver has the Guyver Gigantic, which is this trope applied to Organic Technology Powered Armour.
  • Heroman gets powered armor near the end of the series.
  • In Machine Robo: Revenge Of Cronos, hero Rom Stol can pilot a giant mecha named Kenryu.... and generally gets a sound butt whupping before summoning a giant mecha for Kenryu to operate, Vikungfu.
  • In a directly-related example, the designs of Rom, Kenryu and Vikungfu were retooled from the designs of the protagonist of an older anime/toyline, Gordian Warrior, in which the human-sized robot Protteser, who would hop into the larger mecha Delinger, who would then hop into the largest mecha Garbin.
  • Captain Earth combines this with Mecha Expansion Pack; to intercept a Kiltgang, the "Ordinary" version of the Earth Engine is jetted up into space via shuttle, then passed through three orbital stations where the larger main mecha is assembled in stages around it. The later Nebula and Flare Engines work the same way.
  • In God Mars, whenever using Gaia isn't enough (which is often), it can get inside the God Robot Sphinx before combining with the other five to form the eponymous giant robot. Gaia does need the extra protection, though, since it's equipped with a world-destroying bomb.

    Comic Books 
  • Many of Iron Man's special suits are designed to be piloted by Tony while wearing his regular suit, like the Hulkbuster suits. In the first issue of the Dan Slott run, Tony has his regular armor inside the "Foombuster" armor (designed to go toe-to-toe with Fin-Fang-Foom, and has telepresence microbots that are also shaped like his armor within that. He then has to clarify in a press conference that "Russian Nesting Doll Iron Man" isn't going to be a regular thing.
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye reveals that Ultra Magnus is this, explaining the years of surviving things most Transformers couldn't, as well as some inconsistent characterization. Turns out "Ultra Magnus" is a Legacy Character, and the original died ages ago. Chief Justice Tyrest, realizing Magnus' fearsome reputation, created Powered Armor based on him that other Autobots can wear to create an "Eternal Lawman". Whenever Magnus has apparently died the bot inside actually did die, and reflexively hits a recall button that teleports him back to Tyrest so a new Magnus can be chosen. The current bearer of the armor is actually a tiny bot named Minimus Ambus, who not only wears the Magnus armor, but another set of armor inside that.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Tony's Hulk Buster armor in Avengers: Age of Ultron works like this, an extra-large suit of power armor that he wears over his Iron Man armor. Avengers: Infinity War shows that the Hulk Buster armor is still operable without an intermediary set of power armor, however.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Super Sentai/Power Rangers: In general, the most powerful mech formations would have the heroes' main mech riding on top of another like a mount. In Power Rangers this applies to most of their Ultrazords (with a few exceptions).
    • In Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger, Sargain turns out to be an antlike being piloting a human-sized suit of when Sargain pilots Humongous Mecha, that means he's controlling a suit that's controlling a bigger suit. Not quite the same, though, perhaps.
    • Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger/Power Rangers S.P.D.'s main mecha, the Dekarobo/Delta Squad Megazord, can mount onto the Dekabike/Omegamax Cycle, the Sixth Ranger mech's motorcycle form. The former riding the latter is actually used as a part of their transformation into the Super Dekaranger Robo/Deltamax Megazord.
    • In Shuriken Sentai Ninninger and Power Rangers Ninja Steel, the chest of the main Megazord is designed like a throne that a smaller humanoid mecha sits in. It's usually the Red Ranger's mecha sitting there, but the Blue Ranger's mecha or other Mecha Expansion Packs can swap places with it as part of forming alternate modes. The Sixth Ranger's robot is a similar example, since it consists of a giant bison/ATV mech which is ridden and operated by a smaller humanoid mech. Later on in the series, it gets taken to another level when the team gets a mecha that turns into a weaponized throne that other full-sized mecha can sit in; which means you can have the Red Ranger's mecha sitting in the main Megazord, which itself is sitting in another weapons platform.
    • Played with in Avataro Sentai Donbrothers. ToraDragonJin is comprised of tiger and dragon mecha, with both in a humanoid form and the smaller tiger strapped into the dragon's chest. However, instead of the tiger controlling the larger dragon frame, it's portrayed as the dragon being in control and keeping the vicious tiger contained.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Mekton Plus expansion from Mekton Zeta has this as one of many, many options for its mecha. Of course, that expansion is basically rules for every giant robot trope in history, from transforming, to gattai-ing, to organic ones, so this should hardly be seen as a surprise.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, the Space Marines have two different takes on this:
    • The Grey Knight Nemesis Dreadknight is an open-bodied mecha piloted by a Grey Knight in a manner similar to the powerloader from Aliens or the mechas from The Matrix Revolutions. It packs an enormous amount of firepower and is intended to fight Greater Daemons of Chaos. The fanbase is rather torn on whether they are cool or silly-looking; it's been referred to as baby carrier.
    • The Space Marines have the Centurion armor, which is essentially a huge, unwieldy suit of Power Armor wrapped around the pilot's normal Power Armor and loaded down with either terrifying amounts of firepower or tank-shredding drills with built-in flamethrowers.
    • The Space Marine Codex 2.0 of the 8th edition introduce the Invictor Tactical Warsuit, applying the Dreadknight's design philosophy on a Redemptor Dreadnought Chassis.
    • Not wanting to be outdone, the Sisters of Battle now have the Paragon Warsuit.
  • Exalted has Warstriders, magitek superweapons which vary between giant powered armors to castle-sized war machines. Exalted also has the Alchemical Exalted — mechanical demigods with heroic mortal souls, empowered by a titan's Essence. Nothing stops Alchemicals from riding Warstriders... This is actually rather likely, considering the mechanical nature of the Alchemicals' world.
  • In the Magic: The Gathering set Kaladesh, a new Artifact type of "Vehicle" was introduced. These Vehicles have power and toughness, but aren't creatures unless they are crewed, and each Vehicle has its own requirement for what can crew it. What this means, and why it is relevant, is that you can have a 1/1 Servo token pilot a Sky Skiff, then have that skiff pilot a Ovalchase Dragster, then have the dragster pilot the Aradara Express, then that train pilot the Skysovreign. Or whatever order you want to do it in. But it's still a series of vehicles piloting other vehicles.
  • BattleTech has the Interface Cockpit System, which allows a mech to be piloted by a person in a special Battle Armor (Light) suit rather than using a traditional neurohelmet and command couch. This allows a couple of advantages- the battle armor protects the pilot both from injury and from the high temperatures of a normal mech cockpit, and it allows for the removal of the mech's gyro, among other things. However, the system is experimental and extremely rare, having shown up on only three mechs so far.

  • LEGO
    • Exo Force had this with Ha-Ya-To's Aero Booster, a smaller machine strapped to a massive jet engine that could detach from it.
    • Nexo Knights had this for the final battle depicted in the Tech Wizard Showdown set, with Clay piloting his Battle Suit and using that to pilot an even larger mecha.
  • Hot Wheels have Haul-Teration a detachable trailer that transforms into a robot that can attach a Zombot inside it.

    Video Games 
  • Acid Rain World: Gray Dawn is the mobile game of the toyline and one mech manufacturer is Cerberus, which are known for their power output and aggressive design. Cereberus has a mech called the Hades P5C3-mr. The Hades is new design known as a SAGA class and SAGA are giant mechs that are piloted by a heavy Cereberus mech and this layout gives incredible firepower and armoring as the Cereberus inside can still fire its guns.
  • The -Super Dimensional Gear Yggdrasil IV- in Xenogears plays this trope with an extra layer. You have a giant robot so colossal that it holds, in its hands, an enormous aerial pirate ship, which itself is so colossal that it has a hanger full of building-sized mechs!
  • The Huckebein Mk III from Super Robot Wars Alpha is able to equip a suit of Powered Armor called the Boxer Frame. The frame can also detach and transform into a flying surfboard, just for the hell of it.
    • Surfsword, actually. It was constructed from an incomplete mech intended to become a sword for the SRX.
  • The final battle in Metal Wolf Chaos has Richard Hawk's Mini-Mecha climbing into a larger, more powerful quadrupedal mecha.
  • The EXTREME Gundam in Gundam Extreme Vs. uses this: the main mobile suit pilots a larger frame that carries most of its weaponry. It has three of these frames: Carnage (Lots Of Explosions), Ignis (Beam Spam), and Tachyon (BFS). Full Boost added a fourth, the centaur-like Mystic Phase, which is something of a balance of the other three.
  • MechWarrior Legends, has this for the sake of gameplay. When a player ejects from a BattleMech, he goes flying into the sky in a full suit of Elemental or Longinus Battlearmor, where he can then engage players on foot. The rest of the series does not feature this (nor is it in the source material, BattleTech), as the eject button in previous games was essentially the suicide button.
  • Halo has the Mantis Mini-Mecha, first seen in Halo 4. Though intended to be piloted by a (relatively) unarmored human, its cockpit is capable of accommodating a fully Powered Armored Spartan-IV, or even a bulkier Spartan-II (namely the Master Chief.)
  • Mega Man
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • From Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (the 16-bit version), Sky Chase Zone features the Turtloid badniks: a large, flying turtle robot that shoots lasers from its mouth, with a smaller robot turtle perched atop its shell, piloting it.
    • Sonic Mania: The sky version of Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1 features Armadiloids, another pair of large and small robots very clearly modeled after the Turtloids, but this time designed in the image of armadillos.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 1, when Egil gains control over Mechonis, he does so while piloting his own Humongous Mecha. Meaning a Mechanical Lifeform the size of a human, is piloting a mecha the size of a building, which is controlling a mecha the size of a country.
  • Poppibuster in Xenoblade Chronicles 2. He's a large robot piloted by Poppi Mk. II, a robot body remotely controlled by Poppi. Notably Poppibuster also has an independent AI capable of speech and free-thinking as well, though he also seems to benefit from Poppi's additional experience and input.

    Western Animation 
  • Fortress Maximus, of Transformers: Generation 1. A Headmaster, he was too big for a human to transform into his head. Spike was given Headmaster armor so he can become the head of a normal-sized Transformer named Cerebros. Cerebros in turn turned into Fort Max's head.
    • Headmasters in general are this, being small robots that transform into the heads for bigger ones. Some of them appear in later toylines.
      • That varies according to the storyline used. For example The Transformers canon, the Headmasters were organic aliens who wore exo-suits allowing them to transform into the robots' heads. The Japanese Headmasters series (taking place after "The Return of Optimus Prime" but ignoring the Grand Finale three-parter, "The Rebirth") had them as a separate race of (human-sized) robots who built Transformer-sized exo-suits called Transtectors to better interact with the Autobots. There were also Headmaster Juniors, which were humans who donned Transformer-like armor. In general, the point of variation is whether the body is a fully sentient (albeit headless) robot who considers the head a partner, or effectively just a suit of Power Armor for the head.
    • There were also "Powermasters", humans in armor (or smaller robots, depending on the continuity) that became the engine for their larger partners.
    • The Brainmasters of Transformers Victory were human-scale robots that could either drive their Transformer-sized vehicle modes or go inside their robot mode chests and turn into their faces. The series doesn't display this much beyond Stock Footage, though later material claimed they had separated off their consciousness from their bodies in a process that also increased their attributes (the tiny robot is basically their brain, hence the name). The leader, Star Saber, added a Super Mode onto that.
    • Ultra Magnus's original toy is essentially the Optimus Prime figure in white, sitting inside a massive, fully-humanoid robot made of the truck's trailer. The Dreamwave continuity featured this, and IDW had a somewhat roundabout take: Ultra Magnus is a Legacy Character, whose armor is passed to certain Cybertronians with powerful enough sparks to bear it without strain. The current Magnus takes it a step further: under the Magnus armor, he's normal-sized, but the normal-sized body is actually one of these for his true body, which comes up to Rodimus's waist.
  • In Transformers: Animated, the Autobots' ship transforms in to a huge mecha called Omega Supreme. He has a mind of his own and an interior control console, so it's hard to say how much control the pilot has.
    • It's given more detail in the third season: Omega Supreme's programming was rather simplistic so he needed a second Autobot to pilot and guide him.
    • To elaborate: his programming is pretty much "kill everything that you are told". So second Autobot is needed to identify targets...
    • This seems to be series tradition for Omega Supreme, the toy of the Energon has a head that can turn into a small robot itself. (The plug for it doubles as a spare, comically tiny head.)
  • Men in Black: The Series has the arquillians, who use Mobile Suit Humans, and one episode has a Microcephalopoid, who pilots a Mobile Suit Arquillian while piloting a Mobile Suit Human.
  • The first episode of Megas XLR presents the ultimate weapon of the Glorft: the UMD, a Combining Mecha made up of Combining Mecha that were already made up of full-sized Humongous Mecha. In short, it flicks Megas away with its finger.
  • Challenge of the GoBots was fond of this trope although, rightly speaking, Gobots are cyborgs, not robots. The Guardians used both Powered Armor called Power Suits, and their standard space ships were the Command Centers which could extend four legs to turn into big walking mecha like the AT-AT's from Star Wars.
  • In the final episode of Farzar Renzo tries to wipe out the aliens with a giant robot. When Fichael starts to beat him with his own robot, Renzo said that wasn't even his real robot and brings out a much larger mecha for his own mech to control.