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Pint-Sized Powerhouse

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Yoda: Proof, you are, that size matters not!
Mickey: Right back at ya, pal!

When a small person is accosted by a larger opponent, most people expect the latter to win, but in fiction, the smaller a combatant, the more ass they can kick.

Like the Square-Cube Law going down, a combatant gets cooler and more badass the smaller they are. Short guys trounce giant bruisers, children routinely trounce goons, little people will be amazing wrestlers (if not literal ankle biters), and mice, rats or other small creatures (especially of the Talking Animal variety) will swarm and overwhelm, if not individually disable enemies with rapier precision.

Much like Muscles Are Meaningless and Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, these characters are formidable fighters despite (or sometimes because of) their size.

There is some basis in science for larger proportional strength for smaller creatures: the Square-Cube Law works in the other direction. Although the volume, mass, and inertia of a half-sized humanoid such as a Hobbit is one-eighth a standard-sized human's, the strength of muscles is based on their cross sectional area, making Hobbits proportionally twice as strong as a human, and much more agile. This is also why ants are so strong compared to their mass. However, for this trope, Rule of Cool is in play whenever the Pint-Sized Powerhouse is as strong as, or stronger than, an average-sized human.

See also Apron Matron, for when small old ladies do this, and Mini Mook. Cute Bruiser, for when they're young, or at least very young-looking. It's also a common trait of the Mentor in Sour Armor. Killer Rabbit covers "harmless" animals. See Weak, but Skilled for a common explanation behind this. Waif-Fu and Glacier Waif are subtropes. This Trope is often — but not always — associated with a David Versus Goliath fight. Subtrope of The Big Guy; They are The Team's Class 4.

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  • One of the commercials for McDonalds Happy Meal featured an anthropomorphic ant named Ant who exercises a lot, is extremely fast and had once been stated to have lifted up an entire elephant without getting crushed by it.

    Board Games 
  • Pawns in chess can end up becoming this if they are in strategic enough positions. As a pawn is the least valuable piece, whenever one attacks any other piece, the other piece is usually forced to retreat. And if a pawn gets all the way to the other end of the board, it can decide the game by promoting to another piece (usually a queen).

    Card Games 
  • The Kithkin in Magic: The Gathering's "Lorwyn" and "Shadowmoor" blocks are a little under four feet tall, but are incredibly tenacious in a fight. In fact, the most common "classes" for them are Knight and Soldier.
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! card game has a few:
    • Injection Fairy Lily is a cute and friendly-looking nurse (albeit one holding a huge syringe). If her Effect is used, her Attack Score rises to 3,400, stronger than Blue-Eyes White Dragon.
    • Ultimate Baseball Kid. He looks like a ten-year-old little leaguer, but his effect grants him 1,000 extra Attack Points for every Fire-Attribute monster on the field (except himself) making him lethal in the right type of deck.
    • Goblin King. Despite the regal name, he's a small guy who's a Level 1 monster with zero points, but he gains 1,000 points for every Fiend on the field other than himself. If used in combination with cards like DNA Surgery and Opti-Camouflage Armor, this can be very potent.
    • Mokey Mokey. Being a Normal Monster, this guy at first seems even weaker than a Kuriboh. However, if the Spell Card Mokey Mokey Smackdown is used, these little guys become terrors, their Attack Scores becoming 3,000 apiece if a Fairy you control is destroyed.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Big Hero 6, Hiro's bot that he uses for bot-fighting is small and toy-like, but easily beats a much larger bot because of its maneuverability and ability to disassemble/reassemble itself.
  • In the climax of The Book of Life, the small, thin Maria managed to flip-kick Chakal, a strong and muscular man.
  • Dumbo: Casey Junior is the sentient steam locomotive in charge of hauling the circus train, but despite being a 2-4-0 Porter type, his size doesn't stop the fact he's able to haul a fully-loaded, 12 car circus train up a steep mountain with enough pulling power to rival a Big Boy.
  • Frozen: Anna, who is able to sucker punch Prince Hans (who is several inches taller than her, and noticeably better built) into the fjord at the end of the film effortlessly. She is shown running around the castle Le Parkour style earlier, so she may be small in stature but incredibly strong, like a ballerina.
  • Zig-zagged with Dash in The Incredibles films. He can utilize physics to generate power due to his super speed (i.e. Force=Mass*Acceleration). However, as a child, he doesn't have much mass. When he tries his Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs against a mook in the first film, it's largely ineffective due to his small mass and the short distance of his punches not allowing for much acceleration time. However, when he later speeds directly into the mook trying to shoot Violet, he's able to knock him completely off his feet and send him flying.
  • Kung Fu Panda:
    • Mantis, a praying mantis, is strong enough to throw around Po by himself. During the battle with Tai Lung he is able to hold the ropes of the broken rope bridge while the leopard and three of the other Furious Five are fighting on it (though clearly straining himself in the act).
      Po: Wow, you guys are The Furious Five! You're all just like your action figures, only bigger! Except for you, Mantis, you're about the same.
    • Shifu's not as tiny as Mantis, but he's considerably shorter than most of the cast. He takes on the Furious Five all at once in the beginning of the film (of course he trained them in the first place, which says a lot), beats up Po, and manages to hold off Tai Lung in the climax of the film.
  • One scene from Legend Of The Guardians The Owls Of Ga Hoole has the great gray owl Twilight pitted against an elf owl (the smallest species of owl) during combat practice. Twilight gets his tail handed to him.
  • Lilo & Stitch: Jumba Jookiba's experiments are almost entirely pint-sized and powerful in different ways, from control over electricity to being able to brainwash other Experiments via song. However, Stitch himself (and his predecessor and successors) is the crown jewel of this, given he is bulletproof, fireproof, able to think faster than a supercomputer, having perfect night vision, and being able to lift objects up to 3,000 times his size. This makes Stitch an extremely dangerous adversary in the eyes of the Galactic Federation up until he and Lilo bond and he lets go of his original nature.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse:
    • The tiny Spider-Ham who may be strongest character in the movie with his Cartoon Physics.
    • Miles and Gwen are super strong despite their stature.
    • Peni Parker is even smaller than Miles and Gwen and yet at one point she wrecks one of the Rogues Gallery outside her Mini-Mecha.
  • Tangled: Rapunzel, who is able to lift Mother Gothel up and down the tower every day using her hair and her hands. She makes it look pretty much effortless. Also, she manages to knock Flynn Rider out several times with a frying pan, and later helps him escape some guards by letting him swing on her hair.
  • In Turning Red, Abby is the shortest member of Mei's friend group, but she can throw a punch hard enough to knock an untransformed Mei down and acts as the group's bouncer during their red panda racket.
  • In Wreck-It Ralph, Fix-it Felix Jr. qualifies as this. Although half Calhoun's height, he can lift her with one arm while holding onto a rope with the other.

  • While none of the members of Lovebites are big by any stretch (the tallest is second bassist Fami at 160 cm), vocalist Asami (147 cm) and drummer Haruna (146 cm) take the cake. Despite their heights, Asami has a set of lungs that can belt out metal vocals with the best of them, and Haruna (whose Red Baron is "Little Big Engine") can play fast-paced drums for a two hour concert.

    Myths & Religion 
  • David 1, Goliath 0. David is a youngster at that point in The Bible, but depictions often make him even younger. David could even be the Trope Codifier, seeing as "David and Goliath" is a common term for a fight where a little guy is able to beat up a big guy.
  • Classical Mythology:
    • Heracles is rarely depicted as "pint-sized". However, he certainly was on the day he was born, and on that day, Hera made her first strike against him, sending two venomous serpents to kill him while he slept in his cradle. He simply grabbed them both and crushed them, one in each hand.
    • The hero Tydeus is generally described as short, but The Thebaid emphasizes his diminutive stature whenever he can. Every character Tydeus fights is taller than him, but his size disguises gigantic strength and unbeatable endurance that lets him win every fight. The guy can lift boulders or demi-gods over his head and throw them like a javelin and still have energy to fight forty soldiers in the dead of night.
  • Norse Mythology: Thor's son Magni was the embodiment of strength. One myth states that Thor fought a giant named Hrungnir, but while Thor was victorious and killed Hrungnir, the giant's body fell on him, pinning him to the ground and leaving him helpless. After no-one else was able to so much as budge the giant's heavy corpse, Magni — who was only three days old at the time, was able to lift it off his father effortlessly.

  • In a Captain Laserbeam episode of the Thrilling Adventure Hour, ex-Adventurekateer now-supervillain Tinker Taylor calls out Captain Laserbeam on always taking on every supervillain who came to Apex City. In particular he names the time that he abandoned chaperoning a field trip to the Pen and Paper Museum to fight Major Minor, the Minuscule Musician. What follows is a Long List of various miniature heroes:
    Captain Laserbeam: Who else was going to stop his martial march of miniature musical mayhem?
    Tinker Taylor: So many people could have done that: Mighty Mite, Guy Small the Small Guy, Little Hercules, Tiny Timothy, Short Attack, Willy Wee Warrior, the Homunculus, Space Midget, Scale Model, Robo-Small, the Itty-Bitty Hitting Committee, shall I go on?!

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Thanks to the legacy of luchadors such as El Santo and Místico, the lightweight division title belts tend to be more prestigious in Mexico than the heavyweight division title belts.
  • A "World Midgets Title" was established in 1949 by the National Wrestling Alliance. Though it did not have much longevity, the midgets proved strong enough to lift non-midget wrestlers (There is one story of such a wrestler picking Gorilla Monsoon (who weighed 400 lbs) in a fireman's carry and carrying him around a ring). In 2009, Octagoncito won the newly established World Minis title, but it didn't get much use before becoming a strictly PWR title.
  • The Mini Estrella Division, most commonly seen in Mexican promotions, was set up to give wrestlers who are simply too small to qualify even for the lowest weight classes(which were/are enforced by law) someone to compete against, although it sizes wrestlers based on height rather than weight, so size discrepancies are not entirely ruled out. While there are many mini estrellas who eventually outgrow the division, some have already hit their maximum height yet still find promoters finding ways to have them wrestle those far out of their weight/height class just because they are popular enough. AAA had the Mascot Division, made entirely of mini estrella and larger wrestler pairs, for example.
  • Rey Mysterio Jr.: At 5'4" he is overshadowed by just about anyone he meets in the ring, but still often holds his own. Even more so when you consider that when he started as a teenager in Tijuana, he used to be smaller.
  • Tazz, on a relative scale: at 5'9" and 240 lbs the average pro wrestler towered over him. Guess who was the toughest, hardest Badass in all of ECW?
  • Bryan Danielson while larger than the average man, was only an inch taller and 50 lbs lighter than Tazz. Yet he used to use a butterfly suplex as his finishing move. An extremely delayed butterfly suplex.
  • Thea Trinidad is barely five feet tall, but is a knockout tag team champion and has pin falls victories over noticeably larger wrestlers like Winter. Power really is not her stock and trade though.
  • Nikki Bella is 5'4 but can lift every other Diva over her shoulders, and has a very power-based move set. She picked up a fucking man and held him for several seconds!
  • Adrian Neville is a 5'10 high flier, but he can dead lift Kevin Steen into a German suplex.
  • Paul Robinson of Progress Wrestling. There's no getting around the fact that the man is TINY. However, he's also a former kickboxing champion and not only defeated Jimmy Havoc in a BRUTAL hardcore match to become number one contender to the Progress Championship, he dominated champion Will Ospreay for a good portion of the subsequent title match and only lost due to a roll-up pin.
  • The WWE Cruiserweight Classic had several of these. Contrary to popular belief, not all cruiserweights are high-flyers.
  • Dragon Gate roster skews shorter and leaner than most, even in Japan, and there are only one or two true heavyweights on the roster at any time; this means that while Don Fujii or Ben-K easily exemplify the trope in a vacuum, they are not short by DG standards. Even so, El Lindaman is notable for being about 5'3" but powerful and well-built — his thighs are enormous and he deals primarily in suplexes and judo throws. Peter Kaasa, for his brief tenure, was around the same height, and while his style was high-flying, he had a massively muscled physique and great strength.
  • John Silver of the northeastern American indies and The Dark Order is as strong as he is short, and he is very short.
  • Inaugural NXT UK Champion Tyler Bate is quite small compared to many hard hitters in the UK Indie scene, yet he is able to pick up two guys around his weight at the same time for airplane spins or giant swings. While wrestlers being able to lift double their weight isn't anything new, keep in mind that Bate is barely older than a teenager, thus making his feats of strength all the more impressive.
    • His British Strong Style stablemate Pete Dunne is no slouch either, as they don't call him The Bruiserweight for nothing. He's about Bate's size, yet he uses suplexes and throws to mess around with his opponents on a regular basis, no matter how big or small.
  • Solo Darling is 5'3, around 130 lbs., and during her match with Australian male wrestler JXT at Beyond Uncharted Territory Episode 12, she hit the much taller JXT with a Death Valley Driver on the apron, and the crowd chanted "Superhuman! Superhuman! Superhuman!" The commentators said that she deadlifts almost 500 lbs. She won, making this a case of Davita Versus Goliath.
  • Alexa Bliss is 5'1 and very skinny, yet she is strong enough to give people like Sheamus a piggyback ride, after she was tired from a workout.

  • Bay 12 Sword Art Online RP: Shiina is the smallest player within the cast. She's also the party's tank and is capable of hitting as hard as The Big Guy, who's almost three feet taller than her.
  • The Imperial Trust from Embers in the Dusk has always been smaller than its neighbours, but punching well above its weight due to the tech and troop quality. As of less than six centuries after its formation, the Trust is just under two hundred worlds, but has population and military in excess of nearby 2,000 world Chaos polities. Word of God is, it would have been a serious opponent for the entire Old Imperium.
  • Reiko Ishida of Survival of the Fittest v4 is 4'9, which has been noted to technically make her a dwarf. However, she was a successful athlete before the island, having had a fair amount of recognition as a figure skater. On the island she manages to receive a fairly high body count; one death has her manage to beat a Huge Schoolgirl to death.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Battletech:
    • The Clans fielded technology so beyond the Inner Sphere's that any Clan 'mech during the Invasion Era is generally speaking the equivalent of an Inner Sphere 'mech 20 tonnes heavier. One of the perhaps best known (and feared) examples is the 35-ton Adder light 'mech, whose twin Clantech ER PPCs provides it with firepower equivalent to the 80-ton Inner Sphere Awesome assault 'mech.
    • The Terran Hegemony was this in the lore's backstory. It possessed a meagre 95 worlds compared to the five Great Houses' hundreds of worlds each and therefore appeared as a tiny dot in the middle of five large realms on maps of the Inner Sphere. However, the Hegemony's worlds were the ones first colonised by humanity as opposed to the much-later colonised ones held by the Great Houses, giving the Hegemony a population and industrial base equal to several of the Great Houses combined and the best universities and development labs in the Inner Sphere. The Hegemony would leverage their technological and industrial might to serve as mediator between the Great Houses, eventually leading to the formation of Star League under the Hegemony's control.
    • The fan-favorite UrbanMech is tiny, slow, and can't take a hit. It is also armed with an AC/10 that can cause serious damage to mechs twice its size, and other variants put even bigger guns and nukes.. Its slow speed and fragility also become moot when it's deployed in its element, where there are plenty of covers and hiding spots.
  • Blood Bowl has one of these in the form of the Goblin Fanatic. In a world that has trolls, ogres, daemonic beasts, treemen and dwarven warmachines — the unit with the highest physical strength is a tiny goblin who's 'roid raged on weird mushroom potions and rapidly swinging a solid steel ball and chain that's three times as big as he is.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Any gnome or halfling who reaches high enough level. At 15th level, there's not much difference between human and halfling barbarians. While both races take a hit to physical strength, gnomes are extremely durable, being able to endure exertions like dwarves and orcs. Compared to elves, they are almost indestructible.
    • Character generation can result in this too. Height and weight in D&D, Pathfinder, and many other games is not related to stats. So yes, that human girl who stands 4'11" and weighs all of 108 pounds? If you're lucky, she's a barbarian and is carrying the tools of her trade. If she prefers Good Old Fisticuffs though...
    • It's entirely possible in the 4th edition D&D to start as a Pixie Fighter with a 13 in Strength, meaning the creature that's no more than 4 pounds and a foot tall in, and is the only player race in the tiny size category, can carry 130 pounds without penalty, while making every fight a match against much larger-sized foes.
  • Lancer: Most 1/2-sized armors are closer to Power Armor than a mech, and are either Fragile Speedsters relying on their agility, or unusual high-tech platforms expected to rely on their gimmicks and not expected to do that much damage. The IPS-N's Caliban, on the other hand, is an outright murder machine only somewhat taller than the average man packing over a hundred pounds of shotgun and expected to take down an entire capital ship by crashing through the bulkheads and personally splattering everyone inside. The thing can both blast and smack around armors much bigger than itself with pure, brutish strength and high-caliber firepower.
  • The Starfinder adventures "Skitter Shot" and "Skitter Crash" feature the skittermander soldier Nako. Note that skittermanders average three feet tall, but have no penalty to Strength thanks to being downplayed Heavy Worlders...and Nako has a score of 18. So what you have is an adorable six-armed red fuzzball the approximate size of a toddler...who goes around geared up like a Space Marine and can pretty much kick anyone's ass.
  • The Unofficial Hollow Knight RPG: Small bugs start with a penalty to Might, but taking the Concentrated Might trait at character creation gives them the same base Might as a large-sized bug at the cost of losing an equal amount of Grace. Since you only need a single more Might than that to start wielding two-handed weapons one-handed, it's very possible to have a small bug capable of dual-wielding greatnails right out of the gate. A few of the illustrations in the rulebook lampshade this, showing very small bugs wielding clubs several times the size of their own bodies with ease. Though this trope is Averted for the very smallest bugs, those with the Itsy-Bitsy trait, as it makes them lose 1 base Might and renders them incapable of taking any traits that increase Might, meaning that their starting Might will always be 1.


    Web Animation 
  • Object Shows:
    • Glassy in Animated Inanimate Battle may seem cute in first sight, yet she's 6 stars of pure evil. One such example is that she tries to bite Candle's face off after being kicked by Jelly
    • Teardrop, one of the shortest contestants, sends Woody flying through the air in the first episode of Battle for Dream Island.
  • hololive
    • Virtual YouTuber Amane Kanata stands at 149 cm, but has an impressive grip strength of 50 kg, she can open jars and remove shower heads with almost no effort.
    • There's also Inugami Korone. She stands at 156cm, does boxing as a hobby and, according to Shion, has a collection of muscle supplements she uses to stay in shape.
  • Played With in the Madness Combat episode DedmosRebuilt.fla, while Deimos is a normal sized character, he's pint-sized from the perspective of the giant mooks who are twice his size from this episode all whom he easily beats up to death with his bare hands thanks to a new stronger form.
  • RWBY:
    • Nora Valkyrie is the smallest of the main eight protagonists at 5'1". That said, she is strong enough to wield a hammer bigger than her own body, and claims she can lift five times her own weight. When her Semblance is activated, her blows can render boulders into ash and break a stadium designed to take insane amounts of punishment.
    • Neopolitan is 4'10" in heels, one of the smallest characters in the series, and one of its best fighters. Unlike Nora, she tends to use her agility and small size to her advantage as opposed to raw strength, although she's no slouch in the department either. Ironically, the only person to ever best her in physical combat is Maria Calavera, who is even smaller than she is.

    Web Original 
  • The protagonist in Humans Don't Make Good Pets is a reasonable height of 175cm (5'9") but is a full meter shorter than even the children of the alien family that "adopts" him. Despite this, being kicked by the father feels like a young teen punched him on the arm and he can send said father flying with a shove. Later, he even breaks through a metal door on a space ship using a tub to batter it off it's hinges. Once things heat up, the human protagonist can basically ignore anything that isn't an anti-tank gun and can leap several meters at a time due to the lower gravity.
  • In The Jenkinsverse, Humans are the strongest and toughest sapient race in the known universe. We are also one of the shortest.
  • Whateley Universe: There are a number of students at the Superhero School Whateley Academy who would qualify, but the most notable is a petite middle-schooler named Desiderata Lopez. She can strike with a force of over eight tons with a fingertip. However, as is often the case in this series, that power comes at a terrible price: in her case, it is Power Incontinence, which means that she always applies 8 tons of force to anything she does, whether she wants to or not. Her room looks like it was designed to hold the Hulk, her computer is built so it takes 8 tons and 1 ounce of force to press the keys, otherwise she either couldn't press them at all or would demolish them. Her code name is Diz Aster. Poor kid.

    Web Videos 
  • Critical Role:
    • Vox Machina has Pike, War domain cleric. While she's primarily the party's healer, she has a great amount of damaging spells, and carries a large mace with her she uses to crush heads. She's also a gnome, meaning she comes up to the average human's waist.
    • Bell's Hells has Orym, Battlemaster fighter, who is short even for a halfling, standing at exactly 3 foot 3. He uses a mix of his Battle Tactics and incredible agility to take down enemies easily two or three times his size, and usually fights on the front lines right next to the party's barbarian Ashton, who is easily twice Orym's height and made of solid rock.
    • The Hells also have Chetney, a Lycan bloodhunter. He's an elderly gnome, and not much taller than Orym, but makes up for his small statue with the simple fact that he's a werewolf... albeit a very short one.
      Liam: He's a terrier!
  • In The Cult of Scratchwood, Bren initially scoffs at the idea that the literally pint-sized Dalek Danny could harm him. Only, his laser gun isn't any less powerful than the other Daleks'...
  • The Funniest Minecraft Videos Ever: As Wilbur and Quackity demonstrate, even with the "Size Changer mod" enabled, players who are smaller than a baby zombie are just as capable of dealing damage as players of normal or larger-than-normal size.
  • Rats SMP: The clone cats produced from a potions mishap on Day 47 are sizeshifters that can shrink to be as small as termites, but can bite and scratch with all the strength of a normal-sized cat, dealing at much as 4 hearts of damage in one go when the maximum is 10.
    Owen: You should not hit as hard as you do.

Alternative Title(s): Pint Size Powerhouse



Leader-1 gives a demonstration of just how powerful the Mini-Cons are.

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