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Dr. Venture: Some people just shouldn't breed. Those're some ugly kids.Dr. Venture: Will you listen to yourself, Hitler?
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 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.
- DC, has the Oans or the Guardians of the Universe, the little blue people that maintain order in the cosmos.
- In the early comics, its revealed that an offshoot of their kind migrated to Earth and inspired the myths of leprechauns.
- 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.
- The Spider King, has the D’Givani, a highly advanced short alien species. A D’Givani fleet was transporting dangerous criminals near Earth when they ran afoul in a meteor shower. Crashing in Norway in the middle ages, a lone D’Givani survivor is mistaken as a dwarf by a band of Norsemen who adopt him.
- CrossGen has some examples of this trope:
- Carvers of the Glade from the planet Quinn in Sojourn.
- Bantam from the planet Arcadia from Ruse.
- The Deku Scrubs and the Fairies in The Blue Blur of Termina.
- 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)
- 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.
- Star Kid has the Trelkans, a tiny peaceful alien race at war with the ruthless Broodwarriors.
- Along with the Munchkins, there's also the people of China Country in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
- The Trope Codifier, of course, are JRR Tolkien's Hobbits, and also Dwarves (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit).
- In works by Terry Pratchett, all the Little People tend to be violent and mean tempered.
- In Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles series, Doli, Gwystal and the rest of The Fair Folk are smaller than humans in size.
- Warrows in the Mithgar series by Dennis McKiernan fit here.
- The Little People in Robert E. Howard's and Arthur Machen's fiction (not related, but have very similar, if vague descriptions) are Always Chaotic Evil creatures that form a degenerate civilization in places where the Celtic people believed The Fair Folk to dwell, and occasionally kill people or rape women crossing their territory for no particular reason. The offspring born from the latter cases are always mentally retarded and physically at least slightly deformed, and they seem to subconsciously know the language of their fathers though how that is possible is never actually explained.
- There's more than a sprinkling of Reptiles Are Abhorrent associated with them as well, especially in the Howard story "Worms of the Earth".
- The Little People who work for Mr. Tiny in the Cirque Du Freak series. While the small, blue-hooded, (mostly) mute Little People are minor characters in the beginning, one of them, Harkat Mulds, quickly becomes a major character.
- The Deltora series has various short races, like the Raladin, a short blue skinned race of builders; the Dread Gnomes; and even the Pirran Tribes that live in the hidden seas beneath Deltora.
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.
- 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.
- The Demiurge who were added after the demise of the Squats to fill in the space dwarf motiff.
- 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.
- Elves (both Christmas and cookie based) in Sluggy Freelance.
- 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.
- 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