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Paper People

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"Being paper thin, I'll just slip in quietly through the crack in the door! Hahahahahaha!"

This is when a character is quite literally paper-thin, as if they were a paper cutout. This can also apply to normally three-dimensional characters who have been flattened as a result of, say, a 300-pound weight being dropped on them.

Not to be confused with Flat Character.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The "flattening iron" of Doraemon can turn objects and people paper-thin and -light (in case of people, it seems the iron also makes them unconscious while being flat), making them easy to be moved, rolled and stored. By spraying water on the flattened objects, they can be turned back into their original shapes and weight.
  • In Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure Diamond Is Unbreakable, Terunosuke Miyamoto's stand, Enigma, allows him to turn both objects and people into paper.
  • In Kill la Kill, the deceptively powerful and vicious Nui Harime, a model of Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon who sports a pink frilly attire and parasol, often Art Shifts into appearing to be a paper cut-out. Specifically, whenever she escapes a hail of blows from even the quickest and most powerful of the characters in the over-the-top narrative, she appears as a paper person rotating around her vertical access, giving the appearance that she is forever being blown away just out of the reach of the in-rushing attacks.
  • Edge Shot, a Pro Hero in My Hero Academia, is able to do this thanks to his Quirk, allowing him to pass through tight spaces and compress himself so tightly that he can attack faster than the speed of sound.
  • In chapter 12 of Nurse Hitomi's Monster Infirmary, Usui becomes one of these when a giant falls on her. It also turns her into a Fourth-Wall Observer.
  • In Tamagotchi: Happiest Story in the Universe!, the various Tamagotchis on Tamagotchi Planet are flattened into literal walking pieces of paper as a result of Kikitchi deciding to visit "The World's Happiest Story" and causing Tamagotchi Planet to slowly turn into a storybook.

  • Many artists enjoy making paper children, which, while not quite as alive as most examples of this trope, are photographed so as to appear to be interacting with the otherwise-three-dimensional world.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 8 episode 5, Huo Haha afflicts the Supermen with different magic spells, and Smart S. looks normal until he turns around and reveals he was turned flat.
  • Lamput: In "Shape Shift", Lamput gets the docs to transform into a flat sheet resembling a crosswalk, getting them walked on by multiple people crossing the street at once. A few seconds later, it skips to nighttime where they shapeshift out of that form, revealing those people left them flattened.
  • In episode 61 of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, Wolffy sings a magic song to flatten himself, allowing him to squeeze through the gate to Goat Village easily.
  • In the Simple Samosa episode "Spa Wars", Iddiyappam Appa, the owner of Appa Spa, chases after Samosa when he steals the remote control for all the spa equipment. Samosa uses the remote to squash Appa flat with one of the pieces of spa equipment, causing him to emerge completely flat and remain so for a few seconds before promptly reinflating himself back to normal.

    Comic Books 
  • Flat Man of the Great Lakes Avengers. Apparently he has a 3D form, but his Rubber Man powers only work while flat so he only switches to that when he absolutely needs to.
  • One robber / rapist crushed by a millstone in a story by Wilhelm Busch. Other than typical for this trope, he doesn't exactly revert.
  • Two minor characters in Flaming Carrot got turned into "one-dimensional (sic) cartoon characters" by alien invaders, and folded up and stuffed under a rock. "Well, at least you can park in handicapped spaces now..."
  • Mortadelo y Filemón does this on a normal basis. A couple of times, it is an actual invention by Professor Bacterio that allows them to be paper thin so that they can infiltrate some place.
  • Minor Legion of Super-Heroes foe Ronn-Karr has the ability to flatten his body to be two-dimensional. He is not much of a threat.
  • From Franco-Belgian Comics, Les Krostons feature three evil gnomes originating from a comic book, who have the power to shift from 2-D to 3-D at will.
  • The Golden Age Timely/Marvel superhero the Thin Man was an elastic-bodied fellow who always took this form.

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the Tim Burton version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Mike Teavee gets shrunken by the television transportation system and then has to be re-stretched by a taffy puller leaving him very tall but nowhere near average girth.
  • Judge Doom towards the end of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, after being flattened by a steamroller.

  • What do you get when you run the Dynamic Duo over with a steamroller? Flatman and Ribbon.

  • A Wrinkle in Time: Meg is briefly transported to a two-dimensional world, where she can't breathe ("a paper doll cannot gasp"), and her heart can't pump blood properly ("a knife-like, sideways beat"). It was, Mrs. Which explains, an oversight on her part (apparently she and her two companions were perfectly comfortable there). It's implied that they were paying a brief visit to the above-mentioned Flatland.
  • Discworld: In Pyramids, one of Ptaclusp's sons accidentally becomes this trope due to the twisting of dimensions by the grossly-oversized Great Pyramid. He also tends to drift horizontally at a steady rate, as the "fourth dimension" of Time now runs that way for him.
  • The Beautiful Culpeppers is a children's book about a family of paper dolls owned by a little girl. They also have a 2-D paper house, which is tacked to a wall; they can go inside it, but we never get any details about what it's like in there.

    Live-Action TV 

  • Cool Kids Table: Papyrus from The Chimera Program arc can turn himself completely flat and fold himself into a variety of shapes. He can also fold his arms into blades to attack people.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Grimm has the flat folk — people who were crushed under the falling Beanstalk but weren't killed by it, and were squashed into two-dimensionality. Well, physical two-dimensionality. Humans native to the Grimm Lands are always two-dimensional in the literary sense.
  • The second edition of Dungeons & Dragons has the duo-dimension spell, which lets a character use this trope. The follow-up spell duo-dimensional blade gives you a blade that has been Sharpened to a Single Atom. The latter power appeared in later editions as well.
  • In the Savage Worlds setting Wonderland No More by Triple Ace Games one of the player-character races is a Playing Card. It is an Alice's Adventures in Wonderland setting, after all. They have the ability to "turn sideways" against an opponent, giving that opponent a penalty to hit them in combat. They can also slip under doors and such.

    Video Games 
  • The Flatso enemies in Banjo-Tooie, which pop out of the floor of Cloudcuckooland's Central Cavern. The fact that they make a 'cha-ching' sound like that of paper money adds to this effect.
  • The Darwinians of Darwinia look like paper cut-outs. The basic Virii are just moving patterns on the ground.
  • Descent is notable for being the first First-Person Shooter with polygon enemies. This is made possible by all enemies being rather edgy Starfish Robots. The (human) hostages you have to rescue would require too much polygons, so they are made of sprites like in Doom. To give these sprites an appearance of depth, their height is scaled depending on the angle you view them from. This has the drawback that they appear to be absolutely flat when viewed from above or below. The original campaign avoids this by placing them always in rooms with a low ceiling, but Paper People are an often seen graphical glitch in user made levels.
  • Everyone in Harvest Moon: My Little Shop.
  • Hype: The Time Quest has tapestries with pictures of soldiers on them in the monastery. When you walk by them or retrieve something or otherwise trigger them, the soldiers rip themselves off the tapestries and attack you, still flat as paper. Fortunately, them being paper/cloth, fire magic tends to work well against them.
  • Slip from Katamari Damacy looks exactly like the Prince, only paper-thin. In one level, if you're not controlling either of them, you can even find the Prince sitting on a photocopier with Slip emerging from the printer.
  • Paper Mario:
    • Almost everyone is literally a paper cutout. And so are most objects and such, which even act as such.
    • Turned into a gameplay element in the second game, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: Mario can turn into a paper airplane, turn sideways to fit through cracks (and even has to hop to move around in said form) and several other curses.
    • In Super Paper Mario, Mario can enter 3D mode to pass hidden paths hidden behind 2D foregrounds.
    • Paper Mario: Sticker Star takes this even further. The characters are well aware they're made of paper, and take advantage of it whenever they can, such as folding themselves into a cone, a staircase, and a wheel, among others.
    • Paper Mario: Color Splash takes it a step further again, portraying colour as the literal lifeblood of the Paper Mario' universe.
  • The universe of PaRappa the Rapper is inhabited entirely by paper people. And Boxy Boy.
  • In PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, characters from the PaRappa universe are now depicted as being cardboard-thick, rather than paper-thick. The reason behind this is because PaRappa would need to be thicker in order to stand a chance against the others, cardboard is stronger than paper, and he would literally be torn to shreds if he were still paper.
  • UB-04 Blade (Kartana) from Pokémon Sun and Moon is a 1-foot tall origami-looking Ultra Beast who is flat like origami. It also sports lots of blade-based moves, an insanely high attack of 181, and can cut a steel tower in one slice, which means it'll be giving out the most painful papercuts ever.
  • Sam and Max undergo this at one point, in order to get under a locked door to obtain a Super Mario Bros.-styled coin.
    Max: Lose weight and make money? Where do I sign up?
    Sam: I dropped a whole dimension and I've never felt better!
  • The characters in Snipperclips are Paper People who literally cut each other into pieces. (It doesn't hurt them and they can reform on a whim.)
  • The final boss in the 1999 PC version of Space Invaders is a black "yeti" creature, like those seen on the arcade game's cabinet artwork. For some reason, the beast is also flat. There's no explanation or anything; it just is.
  • Cheat codes will let you do this to Spyro the Dragon in the PS1 games Ripto's Rage and Year of the Dragon.
  • Super Smash Bros.' Mr. Game & Watch takes the original Game & Watch style and goes with it. He's a completely 2-dimensional character, though he's actually a 3D model made to look 2D.
    • On certain stages, all characters have the same flattening effect applied to them, those being: all incarnations of Flat Zone, Hanenbow, Mute City SNES, PAC-LAND, Duck Huntnote , and Super Mario Maker. The same applies to their Omega and Battlefield forms, which unfortunately means those specific ones are not allowed in tournaments because the 2D effect makes hit boxes work differently. Some other stages, such as Dream Land GB, use the camera angle to imitate this effect without actually having it.
  • One of the comical diseases in Two Point Hospital, "Flat Packed", has patients arrive looking like they're made out of a flat sheet of corrugated cardboard. They will occasionally fold themselves up into a ball and float around like paper.

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Kate Moss is portrayed this way on Family Guy.
  • In Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, the character Duchess appears like this whenever she turns around.
  • Paper Doll Man of The Impossibles, who used his powers to steal top secret plans from the Pentagon, as well as money.
  • The protagonist of Thin Pig makes better use of this than most, folding himself like origami into whatever form is necessary at the moment.
  • From a show within a show on Futurama: "Father! The kidnappers cut off one of my dimensions!"
    • During The Beast With A Billion Backs, Fry and his date went on a 2D Tunnel of Love ride.
    • One of the episodes in the reboot seasons has the Planet Express ship and its crew involved in an accident at relativistic speeds, and the professor had recently installed a dimensional drift drive. It results in them being reduced to 2 dimensions.
  • On Ugly Americans, a wizard rival of Leonard's is trapped between dimensions, manifesting himself as a paper cutout.
  • In the Classic Disney Short "Pluto's Judgement Day", one of the cats testifying against Pluto is a chubby kitten whom Pluto chased into the path of a steamroller. After testifying he turns around, revealing that he - and the balloon he's carrying - is flat as a pancake.
  • During the first Jimmy Neutron/Fairly OddParents crossover special, when CG Jimmy is transported into Timmy's 2D world, he remarks that his depth is gone, and falls flat on the floor like a standee.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • Teri is a crumpled paper cutout of a teddy bear. Her clothes and face are drawn onto her, and she can change either with a pencil. Most of her body is a flat object that moves in 3D space, but her face is like an Animated Tattoo on her head.
    • Wilson Bilson is also pencil on paper, but animated much differently than Teri. His entire body is a sketch, animated in two dimensions, which is projected on a background of notepad paper that follows him and contours to the movement of his body. Said sketch is quite slipshod, combining a band leader, male bodybuilder, goth, and female cheerleader, which gives him some rather contradictory personality traits.
    • A joke in "The Sweaters" had one of the badly-animated background characters in Richwood Stadium take a tennis ball to the face, then topple over like a cardboard cutout. A sketch in "The Extras" revisits them, showing that they're all cutouts that can move back and forth, but have their body parts stuck in the same relative position. This proves extremely inconvenient for the two the sketch focuses on as they attempt to eat and watch the game. Eventually, one tries to move, which succeeds and grants him depth and the ire of those around him.
  • In The Problem Solverz episode "Zoo Cops", the characters are transported to another dimension, where everyone becomes this.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Lisa, who is self-conscious about her weight, visits a store selling ridiculously undersized clothing and sees a video of a child runway model who is almost invisible when viewed in profile.
    Girl: I hear she's back to her birth weight.
  • Turned Up to Eleven... eh... one dimension in the animation One D by Mike Grimshaw, where all characters and props are lines.
  • In The Proud Family, Oscar Proud remarks he is so thin he "disappears if he turns sideways."
  • Bill Cipher of Gravity Falls is a triangle, not a pyramid. Whenever he appears, he only has two sides, front and back. He is not just flat, but literally two-dimensional, as was apparently everyone from his home dimension. Even when he escapes into the real world and gives himself a physical form, his default is a thin triangular plate.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "The Return of Harmony Part 1", the very first appearance of Discord (Spirit of Chaos and Disharmony) is under a stylized, two-dimensional shape moving over stained-glass windows.
    • In "Dungeons & Discord", once transported to the RPG world by Discord's magic, the evil Squizard and his mooks still appear as flat cardboard panels, although animated, looking just like the cardboard tokens drawn by Spike for the game.
  • In the 1937 Merrie Melodies short "Speaking of the Weather" does this to a caricature of William Powell (a Visual Pun to his role in The Thin Man).
  • In Batman Beyond, 2-D Man is almost completely flat and has the ability to stretch to incredible lengths after a Freak Lab Accident. Unfortunately, he and his compatriots can't pass as normal humans anymore and are confined to their headquarters when they aren't superheroing.

    Real Life 
  • Flatworms: They are what they say they are. Also: for a substantial proportion of them (the planarians, at minimum), cutting them up just gives you as many worms as pieces.
  • Ediacaran biota: So far as we can tell from the limited fossil record, these were also thin. Note that some believe that some Ediacarans were (at minimum) proto-mollusks, proto-echinoderms, and proto-chordates, and were thus more substantial.
  • Trichoplax adhaerens, sole member of the phylum Placozoa. These organisms are completely flat, composed of about three layers of cells.
  • Plane trees. More generally, the practice of espaliering, which trains trees to grow in a flat pattern.
  • Dolophones Conifera aka the Wrap-around spider is capable of flattening itself to wrap around branches to camouflage itself.

Horace: It's like we're cartoons! How horrible!


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