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Dr. Venture: Some people just shouldn't breed. Those're some ugly kids.

Brock: Kids? You're kiddin' right? They're achondroplastic dwarves.

Dr. Venture: And they're almost as good as you or I and they deserve this camp as much as any kid here. You're such a racist.

Brock: They're not really a race, doc.

Dr. Venture: Will you listen to yourself, Hitler?
Dr. Venture showing his sensitivity; The Venture Brothers.

Just about every fantasy world has at least one race whose defining characteristic is that they're short. They typically fill the role of "comic relief" in an adventuring group (when they're not the protagonists), and often serve as the "cute" race in a Five Races setup. Not always, though; the Little People can be made to fit pretty much any of the Five Races, with the exception normally being High Men (that spot's reserved for taller races, always). If any race of the Little People is to be considered tall compared to the rest of those races, it's most likely gonna be a Dwarf. Because they resemble a child, there's a good chance the Little People are magic users.

Dwarves, Hobbits, Leprechauns, Gnomes, and some Fairies are specific subtropes. If these people are really little and are the main characters, it is a Mouse World; for other mouse-sized people, see Lilliputians. Not to be confused with an animated series of the same name.

Examples of Little People include:

Comic Books

  • The ancestral High Ones in Elf Quest were as tall as humans, being shapeshifting extraterrestrials, but over the course of time many of their descendants evolved into shorter forms.

Fan Works

Film

  • The Munchkins of Oz.
  • Star Wars has Ewoks and Jawas.
  • The Nelwyn, from the movie Willow.
  • The Dark Crystal actually has two short-ish races, the smallish Gelfling and the even smaller "Pod People" (who look kind of like potatoes and live in big seed pods). Then again, there are no human characters, and everyone else is either a reptilian or a something like a very tall angel, so the scale isn't totally clear.
  • Though not the comic relief variety,the beings from Superman And The Mole People (don't really fit the Mole People trope because they aren't rodent-like, just like tiny humans mostly)

Live-Action Television

  • Pit Boss, a documentary series on Animal Planet that focuses on a talent agency based out of Los Angeles that specializes in and is run by little people that doubles as a non-profit pit bull rescue.

Literature

Mythology and Folklore

  • Many mythical depictions of elves were like this (Santa's elves, for instance), until Tolkien repopularized the 'tall' elves of ancient myth into modern fantasy.
  • Leprechauns, natch.

Tabletop RPGs

  • Halflings and Gnomes serve this purpose in Dungeons and Dragons.
    • The Dragonlance setting introduced the Kender, which served as a different take on the Little People at the time (even if it was considered the Scrappy race due to annoying players playing up the kender's natural curiosity, fearlessness, and kleptomania). This helped evolve the Halfling in later editions past "hobbits with the serial numbers filed off".
    • The Dwarves of the D&D settings were short, but they don't fit the cute or childlike part of the trope. They tend to be characterized as dour, tough, and warlike, and they tend to make good fighter characters.
  • The Ratlings of Warhammer 40000, though they don't have much presence in the game besides being specialist snipers for the Imperial Guard.
    • Also, before their tragic death by Tyranid, the fabled Squats.

Video Games

  • Warcraft also has Gnomes and Dwarves as its Little People.
    • Also goblins, but their only comic trait is their tendency to make things go boom.
  • Tarutaru in Final Fantasy XI take the cuteness factor, throw in some Verbal Tics, and aim for being as adorable and sweet as possible. Thankfully, the Narm-factor whenever they try and act serious is enough to make up for this.
  • The Lilties in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles are a very small and cute race. They're also super-adorable (and can crossbreed with people). Oh, and they used to be The Empire and can be extremely hardy and gruff, are incredibly strong for their size, can forge some mean weaponry, and can hold a grudge with the best of dwarves. Do not cross a Lilty of you know what's good for you.
  • The comic relief bit is oh-so-averted in Arcanum. Gnomes are Corrupt Corporate Executives who organize the mass kidnapping and rape (by ogres) of human women to breed half-ogres for use as a bodyguard race.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • Koehnes (and the race of Sidhe she's from) in the Whateley Universe. She has just showed up on campus and set herself as servant to Fey despite the fact that Fey has a roommate and lives in a dorm.

Western Animation

  • Ben 10 has Galvans, Grey Matter's species. Ditto and Echo Echo also are really small, but not as small as Grey Matter, and they share the duplication gimmick. In a bit of a subversion, Galvans are the setting's High Men, ruling over a vast technological empire and being responsible for building most of the cool Imported Alien Phlebotinum, including one of the races Ben can turn into (Upgrade) and the Omnitrix itself.
  • The Matoran and Agori of Bionicle
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