Indiana Jones Wiki

"You listen to Short Round. You live longer."
―Short Round[src]

The boy known as Short Round was born Wan Li on February 8, 1926. Orphaned during the Japanese bombing of Shanghai in 1932, Li picked up his alias as a pickpocket on the streets of his home town and tried to rob the man he would later know as Dr Jones. Rather than see the youngster arrested, the archaeologist took him under his wing.

In 1935, when Jones's attempt to acquire a diamond at Club Obi Wan turned sour, he and Short Round fled China with nightclub singer Willie Scott only for their plane to crash in India where the three helped recover one of the lost Sankara Stones and unraveled a Thuggee plot to rule the world.

Afterwards, Shorty found a more stable life at an American boarding school though he still paired up with Indiana Jones for the occasional adventure and maintained correspondence with his friend until at least the 1950s, having taken up the hunt for the elusive diamond himself.


Early life[]

"Shorty's family were killed when the Japanese bombed Shanghai. He's been living on the streets since he was four. I caught him trying to pick my pocket, didn't I, short stuff?"
―Indiana Jones[src]
Shorty look

Short Round, originally known as Wan Li.

Wan Li was born on February 8, 1926 in Shanghai, China.[2] The oldest child of a steel plant foreman in Shanghai,[3] he had at least one younger brother named Chu.[4][5] They once had an argument about who was the better clean-up batter, Jimmy Foxx or Lou Gehrig.[5] Wan Li was orphaned when a Japanese bombing raid killed his family[1] during a night[5] in January 1932,[2] including his brother Chu.[5]

He was taken in by a Christian mission, where he picked up basic English and mathematics. However, he soon turned to the seedy streets of the Shanghai underbelly, acquiring survival instincts while working as a guide, pickpocket, and cutpurse. Li gained much of his English from watching Hollywood motion pictures at the Tai-Phung Theater as he worked in shady areas such as the opium dens on Liu Street, and assumed the nickname Short Round.[3] He had watched numerous films, including Tarzan, The Mummy, I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang, Wings, Dracula, King Kong, It Happened One Night and Ice Creatures From Venus; and he had seen a movie about Robin Hood seven or eight times and a Charlie Chaplin picture about the circus.[5]


Shanghai, the birthplace of Shorty and where he met Indiana Jones.

In 1935 Shorty met a German consul, his supposed "Uncle Wong", in a brothel while shining his shoes.[5] Later that year at the Gung Ho Bar Short Round attempted to pickpocket a tall American man in a fedora, only to find himself caught by Indiana Jones's bullwhip. Rather than turn Short Round over to the authorities,[3] Indy introduced Short Round to his friend Wu Han with Shorty becoming one of Indy's contacts in Shanghai.[6] Shorty would later remember the incident as forming second luckiest day in his life.[7] On one occasion, the three traveled by yak through the Himalayas where they were set upon by nomadic thieves.[6]

During their time together, Indy introduced Short Round to American baseball—and the New York Yankees—and taught him additional survival skills like how to drive despite his young age. Shorty,[5] who kept his original name closely guarded even from Indiana,[3] suspected that he was a reincarnation of the lower god Chao-pao, He-Who-Discovers-Treasures, and considered him the ultimate clutch hitter. Indy was planning to take Short Round to America with him and the boy planned to become Indy's son.[5]

The Temple of Doom[]

Fleeing Shanghai[]


Shorty while driving trough Shanghai.

Over the week before[5] the upcoming exchange at Club Obi Wan[1] Short Round broke into "Uncle Wong"'s garage while he was away and hot-wired his Auburn Speedster inside for use by Indiana Jones several times.[5]

Short Round served as a driver with the Auburn Speedster for Jones and Wu Han while the pair was trying to exchange Nurhachi's ashes for the Peacock's Eye from gangster Lao Che.[1] He was sent to the Nang Tao Airport to acquire three plane tickets. Local officer Art Weber was reluctant to serve the child, but nevertheless accepted the payment when Short Round insisted he was the assistant to the famous professor Indiana Jones on a "very important government case".[5]

When Jones and singer Willie Scott — pulled into events following Wu Han's murder — made an emergency escape from Club Obi Wan, Short Round had stopped nearby and picked them up as they dangled from an awning. Using boxes strapped to his shoes to reach the pedals, he evaded Lao Che's men and sped to the airport.[1] As the vehicle raced down the city streets, Shorty imagined himself as James Cagney.[5] They managed to board a Ford Tri-Motor Airplane initially intended for Siam, not knowing that the plane was owned by Lao Che himself.[1]

Arrival in India[]

Short Round: "What is Sankara?"
Indiana Jones: "Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory."
―Short Round and Indiana Jones[src]

Short Round with "Big Short Round".

After Lao Che's pilots abandoned the plane, a sleeping Short Round woke up as Willie Scott was trying to awake Indy. Short Round demanded that Scott call his boss Dr. Jones. While Indy attempted to take control of the defueled plane, Shorty discovered that all the parachutes were gone. As the plane was set to crash on a cliff in the Himalayas, the three escaped the plane crash using a inflatable raft. As the raft slid down the snow capped mountains and then into the Yamuna River, they eventually reached the village of Mayapore. When Jones was given the task of recovering the town's sacred stone from Pankot Palace, Short Round and Scott accompanied him through the trek on elephant through the jungle.[1] Short Round named his elephant "Big Short Round", believing him to be the reincarnation of Chu.[5] One night on the trail, Short Round beat Jones at poker, though they both accused each other of cheating.[1]

At Pankot Palace, the trio were welcomed in and made guests, attending the Guardian of Tradition Dinner. That night, Shorty awoke to find Indy being attacked by a Thuggee assassin who had seemingly emerged from a painting. Shorty tossed Indy his whip, which reversed the ambush. Short Round accompanied Indy into a set of secret chambers found in Willie's room, but accidentally triggered some of the lethal traps. Despite her fear of the insects crawling in the chambers, Willie managed to stop the traps and save their lives. As they explored further, they witnessed a Thuggee ceremony presided by Mola Ram.[1] After witnessing the sacrifice Shorty believed that they must had currently be witnessing the fifth hell ruled by the Yama Kings.[5] After Indy went to retrieve the Sankara stones, Willie and Shorty were captured by Thuggee cultists and separated. While imprisoned briefly with Indy, Shorty learned about how the prisoners were turned into Thuggee followers through a ritual of blood drinking.[1]

Short Round attempted to stop the forced conversion of his friend by attacking Zalim Singh, but failed to prevent Indy from being forced to drink the dark blood. Shorty was shackled and forced to work in the mines below the palace, alongside the other child slaves taken from the area's villages. When the guards were absent, Shorty broke his chains and attempted to escape. Eventually he was re-captured, and was brought to witness another of Mola Ram's gruesome ceremonies, where a converted Indy was to put Willie to death. Breaking free, he tried to snap Jones out of it, and was struck by his friend. Hitting Indy with a torch managed to clear the effects of Kali Ma from Jones' mind, and the two fought the temple staff for freedom, subduing Chattar Lal and saving Willie.[1]

When Jones decided to help all the children escape, Shorty helped him fight the guards and unshackle the slaves. Indy was then attacked by the slavemaster and Shorty attempted to protect his friend, only to be tossed aside. Zalim Singh used a voodoo doll to inflict pain on Indy. Short Round saw Singh and climbed up to Singh's vantage point and wrestled for control of the doll. Eventually Shorty won, and saved Indy from being killed in the rock crusher. Singh pulled out his knife to kill Shorty, who struck back with a torch, the pain from the resulting burn freeing Singh's mind from the Thuggee spell. Singh thanked him, and also informed him of the best escape route.[1]

Taking off in a mine car, Shorty controlled the brake while Indy dealt with their pursuers. With the mines flooding, they managed to escape to freedom after a confrontation with Mola Ram and the remaining Thuggee, in which Ram was devoured by crocodiles and the Thuggee were defeated by the Eleventh Poona Rifles. With the escaped children, the trio returned to Mayapore as heroes. There, as Indy and Willie embraced together, Short Round sprayed water over them with the help of Big Short Round.[1] In that moment Short Round thought that it was the luckiest day of his life, with his second luckiest being the day he had met Indiana Jones.[7] He drew several pictures based on his adventure at Pankot in Indiana Jones' journal.[8]

Further adventures[]

At some point during their time together, Willie Scott was kidnapped in Hong Kong with Indiana Jones taking up the chase on a motorcycle. She and Short Round were also trapped in a burning room on one occasion but the pair escaped by pulling down the flaming curtains and jumping through the window.[9]

Before the close of 1935, Short Round joined Indiana Jones at a dig in Olympia, Greece and they got involved with a trio of Ancient Olympic Coins at a nearby café.[10]

Short Round eventually returned with Dr Jones to the United States,[3] where he attended boarding school.[11]

Note: The following section is ambiguously canon.
It contains information that originates in a source that has not been deemed definitively canon.
"That kid's great to have on your side in a pinch, but I'm glad we found someplace stable for him between adventures."
―Indiana Jones[src]

Jones funded an allowance for Short Round and it was to the archaeologist that the boarding school sent the boy's report card which detailed that Short Round excelled in history, geography, and physical education. At his own request, Short Round had also been enrolled into an advanced shop class but the school's guidance counselor included a note with the report card which cautioned that their student had taught all his classmates how to cheat at gin rummy, which privately met with Jones's approval.[12]

Ambiguously canon information ends here.
RCO007 1470453856

Indy is saved by Short Round.

In 1936, Short Round still owned his New York Yankees cap and assisted the archaeologist off the coast of Bimini where Jones was diving in search of evidence that confirmed the existence of the lost continent of Atlantis.[11]

When a corrupt captain called Belgrade tried to rob Jones of any treasures found, Short Round arrived in a speedboat to carry his friend to safety. Afterwards, he returned to school although he lamented it was no fun.[11]

Note: The following section is non-canon.
It contains information confirmed to be non-canon by the author or Lucasfilm. Everything said in this section and not elsewhere did not happen in the "proper" Indiana Jones continuity.

An older Short Round looking for Sasquatch.

He teamed up with the archaeologist again some years later in Jones' search for the Sasquatch. Within the tree canopy they discovered the wreckage of an unknown technology, beyond even that found in Atlantis[13] (reached by Indiana Jones in the May of 1939).[14]

Inside, the pair came across a human skeleton in the pilot seat that gave Doctor Jones pause for thought. Shorty asked if they should keep looking for the "monster" but Indiana decided it might be best to leave it to the Great Unknown.[13]

Non-canon information ends here.

Short Round eventually took up the search for the Peacock's Eye like his hero and managed to track the diamond to Hawaii in 1957.[8]

Personality and traits[]

Short Round was fluent in Chinese and his English was manageable. Even at a young age and short stature, Shorty was a skilled driver. He was extremely loyal to and protective of Indiana Jones, willing to risk his own life to defend his friend. While calm and quick-thinking under pressure, he rarely accepted responsibility for actions that may have gotten him and his friends into trouble.[1]

He was skilled in a form of karate,[15] allowing him to swiftly defeat the Thuggee guards that attacked Willie and himself.[1]

In private Shorty prayed to numerous Chinese deities and mythological figures, including Feng-p'o, Naga, the God of the Door of Ghosts, the Star of Happiness, the Star of Dignities, and the Star of Longevity, the Celestial Ministry of Time, the Ministry of Celestial Fire, the Ministry of Exorcism and the Three Star-Gods.[5]

Shorty imagined that someday he could be as good a pitcher as Lefty Grove.[5]

Behind the scenes[]

Short Round was portrayed by the Academy Award-winning actor Ke Huy Quan in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.[1] Quan originally accompanied his brother to the open casting call for the role of Shorty, but the casting director asked Quan to read for the role despite his inability to pronounce the words correctly. The following day, they were called from Spielberg's office, for which Quan's mother dressed him in a three-piece suit, and Quan was cast despite having no idea of who Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Harrison Ford were.[16] Like Indiana Jones and Willie Scott, the character is named after a pet dog: Short Round was the dog of the film's writers, Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck.

The idea of a child sidekick character of Jones' that serves as comic relief was floated about for Raiders of the Lost Ark, during Lucas, Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan's story conference: a son of an early, unnamed iteration of Sallah Mohammed Faisel el-Kahir called Sabu.[17] When it came to writing the screenplay, Kasdan changed Sabu to an older son named Abu,[18] but by the second draft Abu's role was mostly absorbed by Sallah.[19] Although Sallah's children were included in the final film, the name Abu itself had shifted over to a nonspeaking serving boy apprenticed to Imam.[20]

Quan enjoyed making the film, noting that Ford often invited all of the crew to his Sri Lanka hotel room to hang out and how Ford once brought everyone ice cream cones just before shooting, causing the main actors to have ice cream smeared over their faces in one shot of The Mine Car Chase. Quan credited Spielberg for keeping a "very light" mood in the set, not being aware of how dark the film was until he read the film reviews about the picture. After filming concluded, Spielberg screened all of his movies by that point to Quan.[16]

Quan had privately hoped to reprise his role as Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but the character wasn't brought back for the sequel. Quan ultimately didn't mind, grateful for what Spielberg had done for him by casting him in both Temple of Doom and in Richard Donner's 1985 film The Goonies.[21] Short Round had a cameo written into Indiana Jones and the Saucermen from Mars, one of the many screenplays for the potential fourth film which became Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Set in 1949, Short Round was to be an usher along with Sallah at the wedding of Indiana Jones and Dr. Elaine McGregor (in this version Marion Ravenwood does appear but as a guest) and drives the newlyweds to the airport at the close of the story.[22]

Gabriel Hardman, storyboard artist for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, has said that during the development of the fifth Indiana Jones picture a tag scene which included Short Round was considered but the idea wasn't implemented.[23]

According to the unauthorized Spanish-language book Indiana Jones: Biografía, Short Round was adopted by a high-society couple—friends of Willie Scott—in New York City, and eventually followed in Indy's footsteps, studying archaeology at the University of Chicago.[24] This account is not endorsed by Lucasfilm Ltd.


The Temple of Doom novelization states that Short Round was born in the Year of the Monkey. That would place his birth between February 1920 and February 1921, but the narrative also identifies him as being twelve.[5] Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide lists his date of birth as February 8, 1926. However, the Guide contradicts itself later in the book by indicating that Short Round is eleven years old in 1935.[2]'s now defunct profile on Short Round gave his birth year as 1924.[3] With the movie itself stating that Short Round was living on the streets from the age of four due to the Japanese bombing of Shanghai, the historical attack on the city in 1932 would put the character's birth year as late as 1928.[1] Ke Huy Quan himself was twelve at the time he was cast for the film.

Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide places the death of Short Round's family on January 18, 1932,[2] while's profile places in Fall.[3] The first statement appears to be a typo, as the real historical event began on January 28.[25]

Short Round's real name being Wan Li was established in the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Sourcebook[15] and later mentioned on and in Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide.[3][2] However, the 2008 DVD release of Temple of Doom subtitles the line "You listen to Short Round."—repeated in James Kahn's novelization,[5] the illustrated screenplay,[26] and Suzanne Weyn's young adult version of the story[6]—as "You listen to So Wah Mu." Streaming services caption the dialogue as "You listen to Suwamu. You leave Lanka."

Despite his cap being identified in several sources as that of the New York Yankees baseball team,[5][6] the hat Short Round wears in Temple of Doom is actually that of the New York Giants.[1]


Non-canon appearances[]


Notes and references[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 IndianaJones Short Round's Marshall College entry on (backup link on
  4. The Marshall College article described Short Round as the oldest child of his family, indicating that Chu was younger that him.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.18 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom novel
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom junior novel
  7. 7.0 7.1 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: A Tale of High Adventure
  8. 8.0 8.1 The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones
  9. The Adventures of Indiana Jones
  10. Indiana Jones and the Lost Treasures 5 - "Olympic Ordeal!"
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 FAIJ The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones – "Trail of the Golden Guns"
  12. Disney Magic Kingdoms
  13. 13.0 13.1 Into the Great Unknown
  14. Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
  15. 15.0 15.1 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Sourcebook
  16. 16.0 16.1 The Making Of Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom at Empire
  17. Raiders of the Lost Ark Story Transcript Conference
  18. Raiders of the Lost Ark first draft
  19. The Complete Making of Indiana Jones
  20. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  21. Ke Huy Quan, Comeback Kid: The Oscar Winner on ‘Everything Everywhere,’ Kissing Harrison Ford and Why He’s Worried About What Comes Next at Variety
  22. Indiana Jones and the Saucermen from Mars
  23. IndyCast: Episode 337 on the IndyCast
  24. Indiana Jones: Biografía
  25. WP favicon January 28 incident on Wikipedia
  26. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: The Illustrated Screenplay

External links[]