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Shameful Shrinking

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A character who is often a Large Ham or a Small Name, Big Ego will often brag about how no one or nothing is better than he is. Unfortunately, just as soon as he says this, another character tells him that the boss wants to have a word with him about his lack of progress. As a result, the braggart literally shrinks in shame because of this.

Put more simply, this is when a character literally shrinks when either embarrassed, ashamed, or humiliated about something. In a fantasy setting, they may truly be becoming smaller, but in other places it's just a visual shorthand. Expect this to show up very often in Comedy or Western Animation.

Not to be confused with feeling embarrassed about unwanted shriveling of the male genitals.

A form of Metaphoric Metamorphosis. Contrast Lustful Melt.



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  • In an anti-sexual harassment PSA, a man talks to a woman at work, and as he tells her she should Show Some Leg etc., she shrinks smaller and smaller; when she says "that's sexual harassment and I don't have to take it" she regrows to full size. [1]
  • In this Established Men spot, one man shrinks out of embarrassment as another man successfully woos a woman. [2]
  • A man shrinks out of embarrassment in this Finansbank commercial
  • An old commercial for Maaco auto re-painting shows car owners shrinking to 3 or 4 feet tall out of embarrassment because of the shameful condition of their car. [3]

    Anime & Manga 
  • Happens to Jun Shiomi in Food Wars!. Even funnier because she's already a very short woman (despite being 34, she looks like a middle-schooler), and the one calling her out on behaving like a child and not doing her chores is her adoptive son.
  • Clefairy does this in the Magical Pokémon Journey manga when someone criticizes it for running as fast as they can to deliver a message, which still took them all morning long.
  • In Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, in the Detective Noir world, anyone who gets shot with a gun doesn't die, but turns in a Chibi version of themselves, thereby cementing themselves as the shameful comic relief character who will never be taken seriously again. Others shun those who become this.
  • Ranma ½: In the manga, during the "Legendary Battle Dogi" story arc, Ranma tries to appeal to Akane's sentiments by saying the Battle Dogi is driving them apart. It works, and Akane accepts to get rid of it, making Ranma starts to feel really guilty about the trick. After imagining himself as a devil being torn apart by Akane's "angelic" light, he metaphorically shrinks in shame.
  • Rosario + Vampire: In episode 9 of the anime, Moka does this during an argument with the other members of Tsukune's harem.
  • In the third OVA of Saber Marionette J Again, there's a scene everyone is having dinner, in the middle of an awkward silence (due to what happened last night). Cherry tries to break it off going into some gossip about two neighbors who apparently got into a fight for a fence. When nobody laughs, she shrinks.

    Comic Books 
  • In an Archie Comics story, Veronica invites Archie to a "high society" party. She berates him like crazy while briefing him for the event, e.g. "You have nothing in common with these blue-bloods, but there's no point in advertising it." At the end, Archie is barely up to Ronnie's socks. Then Archie runs into Betty, who tells Archie what a great guy he is. Arch walks away literally 10 feet tall.
  • In the comic-book version of Le Donjon de Naheulbeuk, after the group is forced to fight a Golem inside ancient desert ruins, the Enchantress is grumbling that the map they were following should have contained a warning... until she checks it and sees that, yes, it did contain a warning about the golem, she just missed it. Next panel, she's reduced to the side of a midget in shame, almost disappearing in her hat.
  • In Maus II, Art Spiegelman is shown shrinking smaller and small as reporters torment him with questions about Maus I. At the end he is a small crying child. A helpful talk with his therapist about coming to terms with his guilt lets him get bigger again, but then listening to recordings of his father's speech causes him to shrink back into a child.

    Comic Strips 
  • Happens to Jon in this Garfield strip.
  • Happens to Luann in this early strip.
  • Played with in a Mafalda strip. When Felipe is called to talk in front of the class, he gets smaller as he walks down the aisle. After the teacher congratulates him on a good job, he walks back to his desk as a giant.
  • This Happens to Charlie Brown twice in Peanuts. In the former strip, Patty gives him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech when he talks down to Snoopy, making him shrink in shame. In the latter strip, Schroeder tells him that it’s nice to listen to something “Semi-Classical” after Charlie Brown asked him if the music was beautiful, leaving him shrunken.
  • An arc of Pearls Before Swine comics has Rat and Pig discussing the differences between their egos. Pig's ego is as tiny as a mouse, while Rat's ego is even bigger than any of the characters, showing that Rat has a Small Name, Big Ego. However, at the end of the arc, Pig's germophobic sister Fantina shows up and tells Rat that she's leaving him for Dilbert because he's a much better man than Rat. This causes Rat's ego to shrink down to the same size as Pig's ego, as Pig steps on it.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Benny Hill Show: Happens to Benny Hill (via bluescreen) in a 1980s sketch where a girl chews him out for being sexist — obviously intended as a Take That! to RL critics who claimed he was.

    Music Videos 
  • The music video for "Close, but No Cigar" has a anthropoid cat who dates beautiful human women. However, once he finds even the slightest fault about them (imagined or otherwise) he verbally roasts them. Each time he does, the woman gradually shrinks until she's a tiny, bite-sized version of herself. She then suffers the ultimate humiliation when he grabs her, stuffs her into his mouth, messily chews her up and devours her.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Les Guignols de l'Info: When François Mitterrand gives a memorable "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Édouard Balladur after the 1995 presidential election.
    Édouard Balladur: Mister President, may I ask you a question? Please be frank: why do French people hate me?
    François Mitterrand: [takes a deep breath] Because you look full of yourself, pedantic and contemptuous; you constantly show the arrogance of a peacock; you are distant with the people and puffy with pride; you parade at the smallest success and are petrified with fear at the smallest breeze; the polls made you presumptuous, and you so much wanted to be unavoidable that you made yourself unbearable. That's it. Anything else?
    Balladur: [gets 10 cm smaller] And... and why do you hate me?
    Mitterrand: Because thanks to you, Chirac was elected. Dumbass.
  • On The Muppet Show, guest star Madeline Kahn is in a park talking about how beautiful everything is, when a monster comes and starts destroying whatever she mentions as being beautiful. She turns to the monster and tells him how horrible he is... and how that makes him beautiful, and as she goes on how beautiful his horribleness is, the monster shrinks down to the size of a croquet ball. She tells the audience how "sometimes you have to talk your problems down to size" before hitting the monster away with her umbrella.
  • In an episode of the PBS series The Puzzle Place, Ben chews out at least two characters while he's trying to work out a puzzle. They visibly shrink as he yells at each one.

    Video Games 
  • In Breath of Fire IV, some of the cast attempt to hijack a vehicle (long story). The merchant who owned it gave them a dressing down (before deciding to lend them the money to buy their own), causing the members of the party who did it to shrink.
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Lord Crump tries to talk down the Puni Elder. She explodes on him and gives him a considerable dressing-down as he gradually shrinks until he's smaller than any of the Punies.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Adventure Time episode "In Your Footsteps", Jake used his shape-shifting powers to do this literally when attention was called to him for making Finn think a bear was trying to steal his identity.
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
  • In the Darkwing Duck episode "Kung Fooled", Darkwing shrinks when his master, Goose Lee, talks about how he has been a disappointment to his training; that he abandoned the ways of Quack Fu, he started using gadgets over skill, and that he never learned the Belly Bounce.
  • Cassie from Dragon Tales has a tendency to shrink when she felt upset or ashamed about something.
  • Played with in an episode of Family Guy. When Peter becomes too tall due to a chiropractic adjustment, Lois helps him shrink back to normal size by berating him.
  • Happened quite often on The Flintstones:
    • In one episode, Fred goes to Mr. Slate's office after attending a masquerade party where he thinks he was schmoozing up to Slate, expecting a pay raise. Instead, Fred discovers that Slate was the guy at the party to whom he was bad-mouthing the boss, and as Slate hurls back the insults Fred gave him, Fred gets smaller and smaller still holding the (non-shrinking) cigar Slate gave him. This after Fred had told Barney to "Think big and be big."
    • In another episode (titled "My Fair Freddy"), Fred, under the tutelage of the Great Gazoo (who for once isn't using magic to help him), does ballet in a tutu. He unknowingly attracts attention from various people throughout Bedrock, even those from the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes. Fred finishes and discovers he had been watched the whole time, and promptly shrinks. Believe it or not, things end well.
    • Another example: After Fred and Barney go behind Wilma's and Betty's backs, quitting their jobs, opening their own drive-in restaurant, and hiring cute waitresses, neither Wilma nor Betty lets them live it down, and embarrass them by re-enacting the waitresses' song-and-dance routine at dinner, causing Fred and Barney to shrink in humiliation.
      Fred: Well, Barney, it's like you said, some wives will find a way to make a guy feel small.
      Barney: Yeah, ain't it the truth.
    • In the episode "Boss for a Day", Fred gets smaller and smaller after the board of directors humiliates him.
  • In the Huckleberry Hound short "Little Red Riding Huck" a wolf shrinks after mistakenly swatting a college student instead of Huck.
  • The Kim Possible episode "Blush" has a variation: Dr. Drakken tries to get rid of Kim by spraying her with a pollen concoction that causes her to vanish bit by bit every time she feels embarrassed.
  • In a Little Lulu cartoon, Lulu is at a department store trying to pick out something to buy, and the store manager tries to convince her to buy a doll carriage by climbing into it and putting on a baby bonnet. He gets a little too into the role, bursting into tears when he breaks a rattle and being pacified when Lulu gives him a bottle. It's only then the manager notices that the entire store is roaring with laughter at him and he shrinks down to the size of a real baby.
  • Believe it or not, this actually happened to the already-tiny Mr. Bogus once.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the episode "Ponyville Confidential", when Twilight reads the "Fluttershy Has Tail Extensions" headline, Fluttershy sinks behind an inner window sill. She's crying Ocular Gushers when we next hear from her.
    • In "Princess Twilight Sparkle, Part 2", Discord shrinks when Fluttershy scolds him not to try anything just because the Elements of Harmony have been returned to the Tree of Harmony. He invokes this again in "What About Discord?", shrinking when he feels bad about being left out of the Mane Six's new inside joke. Note that Discord is an actual Sizeshifter, so it isn't just metaphorical.
  • Popeye does it in the 1960 short "The Spinach Scholar", when the schoolchildren laugh at his definitions of verb and adverb.
  • When the Rowdyruff Boys return in an episode of The Powerpuff Girls, the Girls are surprised to find that the old method of defeating them (by kissing them) only makes them bigger and stronger. They have a hard time fighting them until they realize the Boys shrink down in size whenever they feel emasculated.
  • Done Up to Eleven in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Chef Bob", when SpongeBob's titular puppet with a mind of its own insults Squidward as a part of his insult comedy act. Squidward shrunk until he disappeared. When SpongeBob reprimanded Chef Bob, saying he can't talk to one of his "best friends" like that, Squidward grew back into existence, claiming that was even more insulting.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures:
    • In the cartoon, "The Return of Pluck Twacy" from the episode "New Character Day", Ticklepuss (based on the obscure Looney Tunes character, Sloppy Moe) shrinks when he is unable to tickle Plucky, as Plucky has deliberately hit himself on the head with a hammer repeatedly.
    • Another episode, "Music Day" has a cartoon where Li'l Sneezer practices his trumpet in the basement while eating limburger cheese during lunch, causing assumed flatulence. When Plucky blames Hamton, Hamton shrinks to the size of a mouse and hides behind a milk carton.
    • In Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation, Buster shrinks when he finds out he's about to be forcibly wed to all three of Big Daddy Boo's daughters.
    • "Ask Mr. Popular" has a short where Hampton creates Tad, an Imaginary Friend who turns out to be not so friendly. When everyone finds out what a Jerkass Tad is and stands up for Hampton, Tad shrinks to bug-size...and is promptly eaten by Sweetie Pie. Doubles as a Karmic Death.
  • Who Killed Who?: The detective aims a shotgun at the door, demands the person behind it to show themselves, and begins counting to ten. A ghost promptly enters, causing the detective to literally shrink with fear and run away while still counting in a squeaky voice.
  • Once on Xiaolin Showdown, when Raimundo's most recent joke fell flat, his entire head literally deflated and sank into his neck.


Video Example(s):


Lois Berates Peter

Lois shames a newly-heightened Peter down to bring him back down to size (and then some).

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

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Media sources:

Main / ShamefulShrinking