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 attempted to rob the man he would later refer to as Dr. Jones.


Early life[]

Wan Li was born on February 8, 1926.[1] The oldest child of a steel plant foreman in Shanghai, Wan Li was orphaned when a Japanese bombing raid killed his family in January 1932. 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 films 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.

At the Gung Ho Bar in 1935, Short Round attempted to pickpocket a tall North American man in a fedora, only to find himself trapped by Indiana Jones's bullwhip. Rather than turn Short Round over to the authorities, Indy introduced Short Round to his friend Wu Han with Shorty becoming one of Indy's contacts in Shanghai. On one occasion, the three traveled together through the Himalayas where they were assaulted by nomadic thieves during a yak ride.

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.[2]

The Temple of Doom[]

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

Short Round served as a driver for Jones and Wu Han while the pair were in Shanghai, trying to exchange Nurhachi's ashes for the Peacock's Eye from gangster Lao Che. When Jones and singer Willie Scott — pulled into events following Wu Han's murder — made an emergency escape from Club Obi Wan, Short Round 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.

Short Round with "Big Short Round".

A capable assistant to the adventurer, Short Round demanded that Scott call his boss Dr. Jones, and when their pilots, employed by Lao Che, abandoned the plane, Short Round calmly recognized that all the parachutes were gone while Jones attempted to fly the plane. When the three escaped the plane crash in India, 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. Short Round named his elephant "Big Short Round", believing him to be the reincarnation of his dead brother Chu.[2] One night on the trail, Short Round beat Jones at poker, though they both accused each other of cheating.

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. 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.

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.

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 sword to slash at Shorty and Shorty struck back with a torch, which freed Singh's mind from the Thuggee spell. Singh thanked him, and also informed him of the best escape route.

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 Mola 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.

Further adventures[]

Short Round returned with Jones to the United States, where he attended boarding school. In 1936, he assisted the archaeologist off the coast of Bimini where Jones was diving in search of evidence that confirmed the existence of a lost continent named Atlantis. 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.[3]

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 (reached by Indiana Jones in the May of 1939).[4][5]

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.[4]

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.[6]

Personality and traits[]

Short Round was fluent in Chinese, and his English was manageable. Even at a young age and short stature, he 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. He was skilled in a form of karate,[7] allowing him to swiftly defeat the Thuggee guards that attacked Willie and himself.

Behind the scenes[]

Actor Ke Huy Quan portrayed Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. 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 George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan's story conference: a son of an early, unnamed iteration of Sallah called Sabu.[8] When it came to writing the screenplay, Kasdan changed Sabu to an older son named Abu,[9] but by the second draft Abu's role was mostly absorbed by Sallah.[10] 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.[11]

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.

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. Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide lists his date of birth as February 8, 1926. However, the Guide contradicts the date given later in the book which indicates that Short Round was eleven years old in 1935.'s (now defunct) profile on Short Round gave his birth year as 1924. 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. Ke Huy Quan himself was twelve at the time he was cast for the film.

Short Round's real name being Wan Li was established in the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Sourcebook and later mentioned on and in Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide. However, the 2008 DVD release of Temple of Doom subtitles the line "You listen to Short Round."—repeated in James Kahn's novelization, the illustrated screenplay, and Suzanne Weyn's young adult version of the story—as "You listen to So Wah Mu."

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

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. This account is not endorsed by Lucasfilm Ltd.


Non-canon appearances[]


Notes and references[]

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