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The Runt At The End

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In any series of ostensibly-similar individuals, the last one will always be smaller than (or otherwise different from) the rest, and will often cause more trouble than the others. Just to drive the point home, they may have an Odd Name Out.


When the Youngest Child Wins, the child is often The Runt At The End, and may also be The Fool.


Be careful, though, because sometimes The Runt At The End turns out to be a Pintsized Powerhouse. Compare Arson Murder And Jaywalking.


Examples Edit

Anime Edit

  • Weird anime example: Team Sexy Madam (Lovely Madam in the English translation) from Magical Project S was a team of adult women (housewives and office ladies) press-ganged by the villain, Ramia, to defeat Pretty Sammy with Sexy Power. Except for the sixth and final member, who was very small — and was later shown to be a popular junior high school girl.
  • In an episode of Template:Anime/Pokemon, a Gliscor and its group of Gligar followers had one of these. Ash ended up catching it. Paul, meanwhile, caught the leader.
  • Technically speaking, The Major. Of all the members of Millenium (most of whom are statuesque vampires, except for the Captain, who is a werewolf and the most statuesque of all), he stands out for being short and fat, wearing thick spectacles, not wearing a military uniform, and displaying no superhuman abilities. This is in stark contrast to his status as Millenium's beloved leader, who is extremely charismatic, and quite a skilled strategist. He's also a cyborg.
  • Samurai Seven, as seen below in the Seven Samurai example below, has Katsushiro, the Wide Eyed Idealist and physically smallest character.


Comics Edit

  • In Fables, Bigby used to be the runt of his litter, and his name was even given by his brothers as mocking of his tiny size. Lately they abandoned him, but Bigby got bigger, and bigger, and bigger, until he became the Big Badass Wolf of legend.
  • Joe Dalton in Lucky Luke. He tries his best to act the leader, but even when that works, he just ends up being the Runt At The Front instead.


Movies Edit

  • Explicitly invoked as homage by Steven Spielberg in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, with the little red light that trails behind the larger, more physical-looking UFOs — and causes more trouble and fuss.
  • This trope makes an appearance in the original 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street: At the climactic moment of the film, a parade of burly bailiffs stream into the courtroom each toting two large bags of mail; the parade ends with a smaller bailiff carrying a single bag.
  • Shows up in, of all things, The Magnificent Seven — with Chico, the inexperienced young gun, tagging along behind the other more experienced gunslingers on the ride to the Mexican village.
  • This follows from Seven Samurai, with Katsuhiro tagging along with the much older samurai. Of course, Kikuchiyo is the real odd one out of that group.
  • Every time the stampeding animals go by in Jumanji, a rhino slowly trots after them as it huffs and puffs for air.
  • In a brilliantly timed and executed visual gag in The Three Stooges' short "Calling All Curs," the boys are forced to beat a hasty retreat when the dinner bell sounds at their dog hospital and a massive clusterfuck of pooches stampedes down the hall... followed after a brief delay by one lone scrawny little pipsqueak of a mutt.
  • The entire reason the Home Alone movies exist is because the main characters are this.
  • Electra Glide in Blue where the lead character, a motorcycle cop, is almost a foot shorter than his fellow officers. It's underlined in the opening sequence.


Literature Edit

  • In Finland, the last person of a line who is smaller than the others is referred to as "the tip of the tail" after a scene in the country's national novel Seven Brothers, where the titular siblings are mocked in a song which ends by calling the youngest brother Eero, who's always lagging behind, the tip of their tail.
    • Eero is also the smartest of the lot, though his quick tongue often puts him at odds with his brothers.
  • From Discworld, the City Watch has Nobby Nobbs, who is shorter than most dwarves, unsavory and ugly enough that he has a signed statement from Lord Vetinari confirming that he's human.
    • And Vetinari himself once asked if they were forged!
  • In The Bible, King David was significantly smaller and less important-looking than his brothers.
  • In Charlotte's Web, Wilbur (the pig) is literally this trope. He is saved by Fern, who begs her father not to kill him for being smaller than the other pigs.


TV Edit

  • Corporal Jones in Dad's Army is smaller, stands at the end when the troops fall in, and always comes to attention half a second behind everyone else.

Theater* The Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, a group of male ballerinas (yes, you read that right) demonstrate the trope nicely in this pas de quatre from Swan Lake.


Video Games Edit

  • While they're all the same size, the cut scenes in Wario Land II commonly featured one Spear Goom who would run into the others, causing them to flip around and glare at him before continuing on.
  • Similarly, whenever a mob of Shy Guys runs around in Paper Mario, there is always a straggler who manages to trip before catching up.
  • The opening sequence of Super Mario Bros. 3 also does this — a group of koopas goes past, then one lone Koopa Troopa follows at twice the speed, trying to catch up...
  • In Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Bowser's ultimate attack, the Broggy Bonker, can, with good timing, result in a gang of Blitties running by to mob the enemy. There is of course a brief pause between the time the penultimate Blitty runs offscreen and the time the last one appears.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, a group of cowardly castle guards run away from having to help someone across a certain very dangerous field (so Link has to do it) and the pint-sized, plump one at the end is the last to run away. Hilarity and annoyance ensues.
  • The ghosts in Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man and Jr. Pac-Man — the first three all rhyme, followed by a last one which doesn't. This last ghost is also the most ineffective one.
    • Inky, Blinky, Pinky and...Clyde/Sue/Tim!
  • There's a group of ogres that patrol across the Badlands in World of Warcraft. They walk in a line and the last one is about one third the size of the others.
  • Although all members the bad guy caveman tribe in the caveman section of Live A Live are Palette Swaps, there's the one guy who keeps getting left behind, assigned the difficult tasks and falling into pits while the others move on.
    • Also happens in the opening segment of the same chapter, where the hero is chased by a stampede of mammoths, followed by one tiny one.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, the mini game Mog House (the least likely candidate for being Side Tracked By The Gold Saucer) has as its ending a long line of little baby Mogs ("Moogles" in every other FF) ending in a tiny little one who trips. It's so cute it Tastes Like Diabetes.


Webcomics Edit

  • This Achewood strip.
  • In WCI High, one teenage superhero vs. one football team doesn't end well.
  • Seen in Skin Horse during this week (next-to-last strip).
  • Among the dev'esses of the Sarghress clan in Drowtales, you wouldn't be blamed for thinking that Sang and her son Kor'maril Niz'zre are this trope given that the other characters (including the token human) tower over them, but Kor'maril is one of the highest ranking Sarghress and a certified Badass in his own right, while Sang is described by the author as "small and mean" and an old friend of Quain'tana. Long story short, in the drow world, The Runt At The End tends to be a Pintsized Powerhouse if they have managed to survive that long.


Cartoons Edit

  • This is almost a signature trope for the works of Walt Disney:
    • Dopey from Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs is perhaps the best-known Disney example.
    • Snow White has a turtle who keeps lagging behind the other animals. By the time it catches up, the others are already on their way out.
    • The small pirate in the green coat in Peter Pan.
    • Fantasia has several:
      • In the Chinese Dance part of the "Nutcracker Suite", performed by dancing mushrooms. The tiniest one (called "Hop Low" by the animators) has trouble keeping in step with the rest.
      • Another Fantasia instance is the little black Pegasus foal in the Mt. Olympus section, who likewise can't keep up and generally screws up ... until all the others are frolicking in a rainbow, when the black one comes fluttering down for a perfect landing, the soul of decorum.
    • Hathi Jr. from The Jungle Book
    • Ed the hyena in The Lion King.
    • The plump muse in Disney's Hercules.
  • Benny in Top Cat.
  • A Looney Tunes short which parodied Disney's Fantasia fused this with an inversion of "The Ugly Duckling": a black duckling attached itself to a family of swans, adding a discordant visual and auditory note to their graceful progress.
  • Even Scooby Doo has the gang of teenagers (and the dog)... plus Scrappy Doo, who always wanted to fight the ghosts.
  • The animated adaptation of The Phantom Tollbooth did this with King Azaz's senior advisers.
  • A particularly early episode of The Fairly OddParents had Timmy wishing for "a ton" of clones of himself in order to deal with all the chores imposed on him by Vicky. Cosmo and Wanda do the math and figure out that it adds up to exactly "forty-four and a half Timmies". After Timmy gives the orders to his clones, they all march out of the room grunting like soldiers. Right after the 44th Timmy? A half-sized clone with a high-pitched voice.
  • MGM and Warner Brothers both use this trope in a number of animated shorts with animals ranging from hounds to crocodiles. The runt usually says "I've been sick."
  • One episode of The Simpsons centers around the nuclear plant's workers' union. Every time they hold a vote, everyone votes Aye, except for one nebbish little voice that chimes in with "Nay". Eventually Homer asks "Who keeps saying that?" Cut to a beefy blond guy and The Runt At The End. The runt points at the beefy guy and says (in that same voice) "It was him! Let's get him fellas!" As the other workers pound the guy into pudding, the runt chuckles.
    • From the same show, when a mob war between the Fat Tony's mob and the Yakuza erupt on their front lawn, Homer, in a moment of Genre Savvyness, recognizes the little Yakuza member as a Pintsized Powerhouse.
      Marge: Maybe we should go inside.
      Homer: But Marge, that little guy hasn't done anything yet. Look at him! He's gonna do something and you know it's gonna be good. (Door closes behind Homer)
      Little Japanese Mobster: Hiiiiya!
      (Thud)
      Homer: Aww.
    • Another episode had Mr Burns releasing the hounds, where the usual procession of vicious guard dogs is followed by the elderly and obese "Crippler", who has apparently been around since the Sixties.
  • In the classic Bugs Bunny cartoon Little Red Riding Rabbit, the Big Bad Wolf discovers several other wolves in Grandma's bed, and hustles them out. He starts to climb into the bed, only have a smaller wolf scamper out after the others.
  • The Russian animated version of Treasure Island had the runty pirate at the end who kept having to catch up to the rest.
  • The creeping foot fungus in Courage The Cowardly Dog has the Big Toe (mob boss), 3 henchmen, and one inept henchman as the pinky-toe.


Other Edit

  • There is a Rifftrax gag in the Transformers movie poking fun at a short man hanging in the back of the group at an army meeting.
    Kevin: Hehe. Hey, look at that little eager guy in the back there.
    Bill: *In a high, nasally voice* I want to help too, sir!
  • The little ant who's always stopping to do things in the song "The Ants Go Marching One by One".
  • 8 in a bed and the little one said, roll over, roll over. Until everybody but the little one fell out.
  • And this little piggy went "wee wee wee wee" alllll the way home. Why? Who knows?
  • Lil Orphan Orange (a parody of Little Orphan Annie) one of the mascots of Otter Pops, is the physically smallest character, which used to be especially apparent when all the characters were printed on the sides of the popsicles.


Real Life Edit

  • Pluto used to be the runt at the end of the Solar System until it was demoted to "Dwarf Planet" status, although that decision may be reversed.
  • The vowels A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y.
  • In the famous Iwo Jima flag raising picture the man farthest to the left is too short to help the others lift it.
  • This troper was told that piglets always nurse at the same teat, and the farther down the teat the less milk it gets, resulting in the piglet on the end being the smallest.
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