- "[T]he tallboy is another government bully, armed with incendiary devices, thickly armored and standing high overhead, looking down at the common people of the city[...]Exquisite? We think not."
- ―The Exquisite Tallboy
Tallboys are part of an elite unit of the City Watch. They use a suit that is an amalgamation of spindle-legged armatures, which keeps them out of reach of the rats that swarm Dunwall. Accompanying this, tallboys wear heavy armor plating, which protects them during confrontations.
Although their offensive power is significant, their movement capacity is limited; a circle-strafe is an effective way to create an opening that allows a few shots to be undertaken.
Each tallboy uses a compound bow and has a spotlight attached to his suit, which he can use to peer into shadows. Tallboys will also react to alerts aired via loudspeaker if they are near enough to hear them, and they can pass through walls of light unharmed unless the walls have been rewired.
Tallboys also have extra shielding in the form of collapsible wooden shields attached to their armor, which protect them from shockwaves.
Following this, due to their leg armatures, tallboys are unaffected by the Devouring Swarm power, and their heavy armor completely protects them against sleep darts and choke-holds. The only opportunity to take a tallboy down non-lethally is with the special Arc Pylon during the mission The Loyalists - those attempting a "clean run" are advised to avoid them altogether.
There are several ways to effectively kill a tallboy:
- Drop-assassinating them allows Corvo to kill them in a single hit; this can be achieved by ambushing them from a vantage point of sufficient height or by using a combination of Agility and Blink to reach their level, though the latter is considerably more difficult to pull off after having been detected.
- Explosive bullets or a well placed sticky grenade can kill a tallboy with one shot - provided that the three whale oil tanks on the back are destroyed.
- A grenade can also be "cooked" to explode once it hits a tallboy, killing it.
- Shooting the three whale oil tanks on their back will cause the tanks to explode. All three tanks, however, must be destroyed for the tallboy to fall. If shot with a non-explosive projectile like standard pistol ammunition, the explosion of the hit tank will not compromise the other two, making two more precise hits necessary for a kill.
- Using a large amount of ammo to shoot tallboys will generally kill them, but it is not the most economical way of eliminating them.
- Using Windblast to deflect one of their explosive arrows will send it back at the tallboy who fired it.
- Run as close to them as possible, use Bend Time, jump up to them using Agility or Blink, and attach a spring razor to their bodies.
- Possess them and walk them into water. However, this can only be done in some parts in the game where there is a water source near the tallboy.
- While Corvo's first encounter with a tallboy is at the beginning of Lady Boyle's Last Party, they are first seen when Corvo enters the Void for the first time.
- According to commentary by art director Sebastien Mitton, the idea for the tallboys came after watching a man on stilts cleaning a building facade. Originally they were designed as a type of town crier (which was replaced by loudspeakers) but they slowly evolved into the heavily armed guards that they are now.
- Given that Dishonored's visual designer is Viktor Antonov, the same man who directed Half-Life 2's style, this evolution may mean the current form of the tallboy is based on Half-Life 2's Striders, which are extremely tall biomechanical alien tripod enemies that help to keep order, and are generally difficult to take down.
- According to the in-game book The Exquisite Tallboy, every tallboy is "heavily drugged" with something that "renders them resistant to pain" and "dulls whatever empathy they might normally possess." It is not certain whether the tallboys' resulting decrease in empathy is part of the drug's intended effects, or merely a side effect.
- Tallboys are referred to as "stilt walkers" in loudspeaker announcements and in a conversation between two City Watch Officers.
- Although tallboys shoot explosive arrows, when Corvo loots their bodies he gets an incendiary bolt instead.
Enemies in Dishonored