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Since Asskicking Equals Authority and Authority Equals Asskicking, your average Big Bad tends to be (appropriately enough) big - however, a frequent subversion of this is for the big cheese to be a half-pint. Generally this will be taken to an extreme degree, and accentuated by giving him two Giant Mook bodyguards.

Almost invariably The Napoleon, with a Berserk Button about their height. Alternatively (or as well, if they're too dumb to notice the irony) they might have an Ironic Nickname along the lines of "Mr. Big". This might be a reference to their sizable reputation and influence, combat skills, or personality. Often got their position due to intelligence or deviousness that compensates for their lack of physical threat - if Shorter Means Smarter, this guy is a genius. Will often be introduced with a Big Shadow, Little Creature or Big Little Man shot.

Contrast Large and In Charge. Compare Killer Rabbit, Pint-Sized Powerhouse.


Examples:


Anime and Manga

  • Garlic Jr. from Dragonball Z. Alternatively, Pilaf from Dragon Ball.
    • Regarding Dragonball Z, Vegeta is the shortest of the Saiyans and at the time of his introduction easily the most powerful. Freeza also qualifies, given Zarbon and Dodoria's relative size to him.
  • In Dragonball (Before the Z), the Red Ribbon Army was led by Commander Red, who was extremely short. This would turn out to be relevant to why his organization kept clashing with the protagonists in the first place: he was after the Dragonballs himself simply to wish himself taller.
  • The Major from Hellsing is very short and fat, but he's easily one of the most effective leaders in the show.
  • "The Baby" (real name unknown) from Monster.
  • Envy from Fullmetal Alchemist.

Comic Books

  • One of the earliest examples in comic books is a villain actually named "Mr. Big" from one of the early Spider-Man comics. While his costume made him look like he actually was a tall and heavy guy, he was eventually revealed to be a cringing slender lightweight under his padding and elevator shoes. Nonetheless, he was evidently charismatic and intelligent enough to earn the trust and loyalty of the Enforcers, who helped him take over all the other criminal operations in New York City for a while before Spider-Man exposed him.
    • Fancy Dan, a member of the Enforcers, is also a rather small man, albeit highly self-confident and possessing well-nigh legendary martial arts skills. He was also charismatic and intelligent enough to be shown running his own criminal gang many years later in the Spider Girl comics.
  • Big Figure from Watchmen. Averted somewhat in the film as he remains relatively cool despite Rorschach's digs about his height. His bodyguard is not quite so restrained and suffers for it.
  • Joe Dalton from Lucky Luke.
  • The Batman villain Scarface - and the Ventriloquist is still a small man compared to Scarface's mooks.
    • The Dummy inverts this setup, being small man disguised as a ventriloquist dummy, fooling even his own underlings into believing their boss is an eccentric who insists on speaking through a dummy.
  • Odin Quincannon from Preacher (Comic Book).
  • Nappy Klains, The Napoleon of Crime, "They call you that because you're small and evilly ambitious!" in World's Finest #154. He's short enough to pass for a pre-teen boy with the aid of heavy makeup.
  • Grigori "Little Greg" Irinescu, The Don of the Vampire Mafia in Top Ten, who has to stand on his desk so people can kiss his ring without getting on their knees.

Film

  • Vizzini from The Princess Bride.
  • Master of Master/Blaster in The Road Warrior
  • Mr. Big from For Your Height Only, a Filipino James Bond take-off in which both the villain and hero are midgets.
  • Swan from Phantom of the Paradise. 5'2 Paul Williams' evil multimedia mega-tycoon plays against 6'4 William Finley's naive antihero.
  • Cubby Khan from Pocket Ninjas. Explained by his being very young, so I guess there's one thing in that movie that makes sense.
  • Texas Jack in The Great Race. No berserk button about his height, but all the male main characters and all of his own henchmen are several inches taller than him. However, he's still by far the most feared fighter in the town.
  • Rory Breaker in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, the short but ruthless leader of the black London gangs. He's described as "that psychotic dwarf with an afro." His two massive bodyguards rarely have their heads in frame.
  • Dark helmet in Spaceballs.
  • Big Tits Zombie features a dwarf Yakuza boss.
  • The Forbidden Zone (the Richard Elfman movie) is ruled by King Fausto, played by Herve Vechillaise. He's already king of an entire dimension, and has plans to somehow create a zombie baby army (and navy, and air force, and marine corps...) to conquer the rest of the galaxy.

Literature

  • The Mule in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. Played entirely seriously. He does however have psychic powers that he uses to control people.
  • A canine example is Big Fido from Men at Arms, the toy poodle Adolf Hitler Expy in charge of a gang of much larger dogs.
  • Picrochole, the diminutive petty king from Gargantua.
  • The fearsome Director Sato from Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol stands at a towering four feet eight inches.
  • Eldest Gruff from Small Favor is the elder brother of a gruff approximately the size of an elephant, and makes ominous booming sounds when he walks. He's five foot nothing.

Live-Action TV

  • Gus, the "Gucci dwarf" from Black Books, flanked at all times by two massive bodyguards and carrying a fold-out highchair in a briefcase.
  • Mr. Big, the main villain from the pilot episode of Get Smart. As with For Your Height Only he's actually a midget, which is only revealed when Smart and Mr Big are in the same room.

 Agent 86: So you're Mr. Big.

Mr. Big: So you're Maxwell Smart!

  • Dr. Miguelito Loveless, a recurring villain on The Wild Wild West.
    • Arliss Loveless, his replacement in the movie Wild Wild West, was a variation on this -- he was an [considers phrasing carefully] average-sized person, but completely legless. Don't say it...
    • Both Dr. Loveless and Mr. Big were played by Micheal Dunn.

Newspaper Comics

Video Games

  • Salazar from Resident Evil 4. He fits the short guy with two large bodyguards ( genetically engineered monsters, no less) flanking him. Oddly he breaks a tradition of sorts in video games by sending one after you at once and then fighting alongside the second (as opposed to watching on the sidelines and having both double team the player).
  • Mr. Big, the drug kingpin from the original NARC arcade game.
  • In Mousehunt for Facebook, the Nerg Chieftain Mouse is the smallest mouse in the tribe. It's also the most difficult one to catch in the Nerg Plains.
  • Subverted in Art of Fighting. Mr. Big actually is big, or tall, at least.
  • The Lego Adaptation Game for Pirates of the Caribbean turns Cutler Beckett into one of these.

Web Comics

Western Animation


Real Life

  • Many depictions of Napoleon Bonaparte portray him this way. Napoleon was actually around average height for a Frenchman of his time period, but soldiers tended to be larger and burlier than the average man for obvious reasons, causing him to look fairly undersized around his fellow soldiers. He was given the affectionate nickname "The Little Corporal" by his men. Britain, his sworn enemy, seized upon the perception and lampooned him in propaganda cartoons as a midget tyrant. Further confusing issues for the British, Napoleon was 5'3 tall in French measurements, but due to the fact that French feet were longer than Imperial feet this equated to 5'7 in British measurements.
    • In French, the word "petit" is usually interpreted to mean "little", but it can also mean modest or thin. The play-on-words was likely intentional among his soldiers (for endearing effect) as well as British propaganda (for slanderous effect).
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