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In cartoons, kids are portrayed as being way shorter than adults, even kids who are seven to twelve years in age. In real life, seven year olds are on average four feet tall, but in cartoons, seven to eleven year olds are often drawn to be only half adult height. Despite that children are rather small when they're young, it doesn't stay this way for long in real life (unless that is, they have a growth condition but that's another story entirely), especially when puberty sets in and they outgrow clothes faster than they get new ones. In some cartoons however, it's much more exaggerated. Even ten and eleven year olds only appear two feet tall.

Usually, this is done as an exaggeration and to play around for fun with. Because children often feel overpowered by their parents and other adults, they're drawn much shorter. Especially when it's told from their point of view. Sometimes, all that's visible of their parents are their legs. Bully and jock characters tend to be shown at heights that are more realistic for their age, however.

However, this is not a Universal Trope and sometimes children are scaled to a more realistic size. Having said that, though, it's prevalent enough that averting the trope may lead to the audience being confused about how old a child character is actually supposed to be.

Teens Are Short refers to simply having most teens be identified by being shorter than adults, especially in Dawson Casting. This applies to four to twelve year old children being RIDICULOUSLY small for their age, to the point that they are only as tall as toddlers. Classic cartoons often invert this trope and Teens Are Short for laughs.

This is seen to a much smaller degree in live action television, where smaller actors may be chosen instead of a taller actor.

Related to Animation Anatomy Aging. Teens Are Short is the teenage version. Compare Miniature Senior Citizens.


Examples:


Anime and Manga

  • The main character in the Pokémon anime, Ash Ketchum, is 10 but younger kids can be about half as tall he is.
  • Leon, Rebecca, and Mokuba on Yu-Gi-Oh!. And Yugi...except he's the same age as the rest of the cast.
  • Detective Conan comes to mind. He comes up to the knees of most adults, as does most of his classmates. Particularly funny since Genta, who is around the size of an ACTUAL kid that age, looks like a giant in comparison...
  • Yachiru and Nel in Bleach are drawn like this. Yachiru seems even smaller than she is because she hangs out with Kenpachi, who is very large.
  • In Gurren Lagann, Simon is 14 at the start of the series, but looks like he's 10. Other characters his age have more realistic heights. Supposedly, he just has stunted growth.
  • Mamoru and his friends on GaoGaiGar are lucky if they come up to an adult's waist.
  • Chiyo-Chan in Azumanga Daioh was often so much shorter compared to the other girls, her head was barely visible in the frame. This was relaxed later in the series, though whether it was due to Art Evolution or just her growing taller is debatable.
  • The students of Hanamaru Kindergarten are probably some of the smallest in fiction period. Their teachers have no difficulty picking them up.
  • The kids at Crayon Shin-chan are tiny. Despite being 5, they're the size of babies!
  • Saint Seiya is weird for this one. Kids 9 are under are tiny. Anyone who is at least 10 looks like an adult. Everyone in this world gets a giant growth spurt when they become 10, it seems.

Film

Literature

  • Berenstain Bears. One of the books shows Sister as being small enough to cling to papa bear's head. And as usual, the leader of the bully squad, Too-Tall is even a hanging lampshade.

Newspaper Comics

  • Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes despite being 6-years-old is shown as being only about 2 feet tall, about as tall as a toddler, and his parents are both normal height. Just about every one of his peers except Moe (the school bully) are also about as tall as he is. Amusingly, Hobbes (when he's not a plushie) is taller than Calvin is.
    • This can be extended to pretty much every non-Moe (No, not that kind of Moe) child in the comic.
    • He even mentions in one strip that short pants touch his feet, and another when he follows the wrong woman around the Zoo that "From the knees down, she looks just like you".
  • The kids in Family Circus are all disproportionately tiny.
  • Averted in For Better or For Worse, which not only had the kids grow up in real-time but portrayed them as being more closer to the adults in terms of size when they hit double-digits.

Video Games

  • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Link is only 12 years old and comes up to the waist of most human adults. The Bomber Kids, however, only come up to his waist. How they manage to form a working club that helps people, when realistically they shouldn't even be able to talk yet, is anybody's guess.
  • The campers in Psychonauts, all roughly ten years of age, only reach about the waists of the councilors. Except for Oleander.

Western Animation

  • Timmy and several of his friends (and most of his peers) in The Fairly Odd Parents obviously fit this. Despite being about 10 years old, he probably isn't that much taller than most adults' knees. His babysitter Vicky is tall enough to worry about tripping over him even. Many argue that this more or less symbolizes how little he feels compared to all the adults.
    • Except for when he regresses her to about ten years old and she's even shorter than he is.
      • Actually, he wished that she was five years old, half his age. So it makes sense that she was shorter at that time.
    • Timmy and most other ten-year-olds in the show definitely fit. His parents can pick him up and hold him in their hands! see Turner Back Time.
    • Some of his classmates are somehow taller than him, even though they are considered to be around the same age...
  • Just about every kid in South Park probably goes up to most adults' thigh level in terms of height.
  • The Tweebs in Kim Possible
  • The kids, including Lilo, in Lilo and Stitch: The Series
  • The kids in Phineas and Ferb.
  • Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory, is 8 years old.
  • Tommy, Gus, Lola, Kurt, Bambi and, Bjorn from Robotboy are shown to be, at least 3 or 4 feet tall.
  • The kids in Kid vs. Kat
  • Averted in Handy Manny to the point that even the toddlers in the show are only a head shorter than the adults and teens.
    • Then again, their heads are huge.
  • Also averted in Super Why!, and like in Handy Manny, their heads are huge.
  • The kids in Special Agent Oso.
  • Inverted in the Looney Tunes cartoons that show the Three Bears, where Junior is twice the size of his pint-sized father (and still in diapers, despite being 7½ years old!).
  • Tucker from My Life as a Teenage Robot is as tall as his 16 year old brother Brad's head.
  • A lot of kids in The Simpsons fit this trope, except for the school bullies.
    • Ralph Wiggum even makes fun of this in one of the comics.

  Ralph: He looked like every grown-up does! LEGS!

    • Bart and Lisa once referee to as being 4 feet tall. This brings up certain implications when you realize that they reach around their parents waists or so.
  • Used really, really weirdly in Dragon Tales, where the parents are never shown above knee height as a result of their giant-like stature. In fact, every adult except the teacher/mentor character is freakishly tall.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender, the main protagonists range from age 11 (Aang and Toph) to 15(Zuko) and yet even the oldest male is seen as significantly shorter than most adult characters, only averted for adults who are portrayed as extremely short.
  • In Family Guy, a baby like Stewie is compared next to five year olds and nine year olds, and they are the exact same height.
  • Haley in American Dragon Jake Long. She is even said to be only two feet tall.
  • Mac from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends
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