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I'll have you know I got my degree in torture, I am a certified master of torture!
~ Emperor Pilaf

Pilaf, or Emperor Pilaf as he called himself, is the secondary antagonist in Dragon Ball and a minor antagonist in Dragon Ball GT as well as a recurring character of Dragon Ball Super. He wants to use the Dragon Balls to rule the world.

Pilaf is much like a power-hungry and totalitarian dolt who thinks that he is destined to rule the world. Whenever something bothers him, he will cry and complain like a baby until he gets his way.

Appearance

Emperor Pilaf is a small, blue, impish creature who wears a green, red and black tunic with a frill on the neck. He also wears blue pants and cream shoes and a multi-colored hat that has the colors of red and dark blue. On the front of his tunic, he has a red circle with a red Chinese character in the center.

Personality

Emperor Pilaf acts as if he is king of the world all because of his "toys". He has no special powers and usually keeps his henchmen in line by torture devices he keeps in his castle, and can also act like a parent figure to his lackeys, once telling them he was cutting their allowance. If something bothers him, he will cry, whine, and complain until he gets what he wants. Despite his immature attitude, Pilaf has some degree of reserve in the manga, where he is disgusted by Bulma's "diseased" confession that she figured he would strip and violate her as punishment for not giving him the final Dragon Ball.

Pilaf is notorious as a bumbling and ultimately inept comical villain. In fact, some of his schemes (such as releasing King Piccolo or reviving Frieza) end up having potentially dangerous consequences for the very world he wishes to conquer.

Regardless of his negative traits, Pilaf does seem to show more compassion in Dragon Ball Super, like helping Trunks in math in return for letting him and his gang stay over at his house. Despite this, he still attempting to get revenge on Goku.

History

Dragon Ball

Pilaf is a tiny 36-year-old imp who rules a giant isolated castle. He has two main followers, Shu and Mai, whom he loves to torture for their failures. Pilaf got one of the Dragon Balls and just waited for someone to arrive at his castle looking for his ball.  

As Son Goku and his friends came, he immediately sent his two henchmen, who imprisoned them and stole the Dragon Balls from them. With all the Dragon Balls, Pilaf summons Shenron to realize his wish. Goku tries to escape using a Kamehameha, but it only made a hole in the wall, from where Oolong managed to escape by turning into a bat.     

As Pilaf was about to ask his wish, Oolong jumps in and immediately asks for female's underwear, which Shenlong grants to him. Pilaf obviously gets mad and catches them again, but Goku turns into an Oozaru ape and starts rampaging, destroying Pilaf's castle in the process. Pilaf tries escaping in a plane and shots a bomb at Goku, which merely knocks him out. Goku returns to normal and Pilaf flees.  
PilafGangkicked

The Pilaf Gang betrayed by King Piccolo

Sometime later, after the Red Ribbon Army is defeated, Goku gets all the Dragon Balls except for one. By going to the fortune teller Baba, Goku finds it with Pilaf, who discovered a way to block the Dragon Radar to locate the Dragon Balls. He uses a gigantic robot to fight Goku, only to be defeated again. He later releases King Piccolo from his confinement in hopes he would help him conquer the world, only to be betrayed by him.   

Dragon Ball GT

Much time later, Pilaf returned as a minor villain in Dragon Ball GT as an elderly figure along with Shu and Mai (who are also elderly) and managed to enter the Kami's Lookout and summon the Red Shenlong from the Black Star Dragon Balls. However, before he can make his wish to take over the world, he is interrupted by Goku in the middle of summoning after Goku asks where the mysterious light is coming from as Pilaf discovers that Goku looks very familiar and orders Shu and Mai to fire the missile at Goku, but the Saiyan was still too strong and tells the gang that they never change, which infuriates Pilaf. As he argues with Goku, he asks that he wanted Goku to be small again, so he could stomp him, unaware that the dragon is listening. The Dragon mistakenly interprets this as a wish and grants it, turning Goku into a child, much to Pilaf's dismay. Pilaf wasn't seen again after this except briefly when Super Saiyan 4 Goku teleports he and his gang to the new planet Tuffle. 

Battle of Gods

In the recent movie Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of Gods, while the Z Warriors are busy with Lord Beerus, Pilaf, Mai and Shu return and once more try to steal the Dragon Balls. Once again, Shenlong's summoning goes wrong for them during the three years gap between the Frieza Saga and the Android Saga, resulting in their own unintended de-aging into young children. Mai for her part takes advantage of this and begins a friendship/young romance with Trunks. It has been suggested, but not confirmed, that since these events occur ten to fifteen years (version depending) before the timeframe of Dragon Ball GT, this supersedes and perhaps eliminates that series, since that depicted Pilaf and his gang as elderly. 

Dragon Ball Super

Pilaf appeared as an antagonist of the God of Destruction Saga, which is the episodic adaptation of Battle of Gods. He later appears as a recurring supporting character for the rest of the series.

Quotes

These are the Black Star Dragon Balls. They were made long ago before Kami separated from Piccolo. And I know this because I am a brilliant researcher and an unrivaled mastermind... with a special knack for devious behavior.
~ Emperor Pilaf in Dragon Ball GT.
I see, you actually want the Treatment, don't you? Oh, you'll wish I would've killed you.
~ Emperor Pilaf to Bulma.
I put you guys through a lot, didn't I? (Mai: Oh, it was my pleasure.) Emperor Pilaf: But still, it's been tough for us all. But oh, we will have our revenge!
~ Pilaf about to have his revenge on Goku.
So. We meet once again. Or should I say one last time.
~ Pilaf and his gang encounter Goku for the second time.
Heh heh heh heh heh. Heh heh heh heh heh. What? You think you have some puny little dream that's worthier than my imperial ambitions? Maybe we should flip a coin for it.
~ Pilaf to Goku.
So. Sorry for the wait. We ran into a little glitch. But we can proceed with your destruction now.
~ Pilaf about to attack Goku.
I wish you were a little kid again, then I can really teach you a lesson or two.
~ Pilaf as he wishes that Goku was a kid again so he could stomp him.
It is marvelous. Born leaders, like us, only need one wish... to rule the world!
~ Pilaf to King Piccolo.
(Mai: From here on, I think we should choose our allies with more scrutiny, sire.) Be quiet!
~ Pilaf to Mai after getting betrayed by King Piccolo.

Gallery

Trivia

  • The name Pilaf is a pun on the rice dish of the same name. The simplified Chinese characters he wears on his chest are 炒饭 (chǎofàn), which means "fried rice".
  • Pilaf is most commonly associated with the One-Star Dragon Ball, as he was the one in possession of it during Goku's first two quests for them. Even in Dragon Ball GT, when he discovers the Black Star Dragon Balls, the One-Star Ball is the one he picks up.
  • Interestingly, Pilaf's affinity for the One-Star Ball is shared with Yi Shenlong, the final villain in GT, and thus the final major villain in the entire Dragon Ball anime series. In contrast, Pilaf was the first major villain of the series (being the main enemy in the first saga of Dragon Ball), as well as the one who (inadvertently) started the first arc of GT.
  • It is revealed in the anime only that Shu and Mai are not his only minions and in "The Emperor's Quest," there is one who left a spy tracker in Skull Valley. Mai mentions that after he left the tracker, he was never heard from again. It is assumed this spy was killed by the wolves. Another minion is later heard calling Pilaf on a crocodile-shaped telephone.
  • In the 9th Dragon Ball Z movie, Bojack Unbound, Pilaf, Mai, and Shu are on cards in a card game Goku and Kaio are playing.
  • Emperor Pilaf makes a minor appearance in Dr. Slump and Arale-chan: N-cha! Love Comes From Penguin Village where he is in a crowd with Mai, Shu, Oolong, Lunch, King Nikochan and his servant, Pink and Cobalt Blue.
  • The Dragon Ball Z anime movie/filler villain, Garlic Jr., looks and sounds very similar to Pilaf, sharing the same voice (same Japanese voice only in the Garlic Jr. Saga), skin color and diminutive size, except Garlic Jr. is a much more serious villain.
  • Pilaf is voiced by Chuck Huber in the FUNimation dub.
  • Pilaf was voiced by Dean Galloway in the Blue Water dub.
  • Pilaf is voiced by Don Brown in the Ocean dub.
  • Pilaf is voiced by Tom Fahn in the Bang Zoom! dub.
  • Pilaf is voiced by Shigeru Chiba in the Original Japanese dub.
  • The twist that Pilaf, the initially bumbling main antagonist is replaced by King Piccolo who is far more competent and dangerous might have started a trope which would later be reused in Gravity Falls (Li'l Gideon and Bill Cipher), Star vs the Forces of Evil (Ludo and Toffee), Wander over Yonder (Lord Hater and Lord Dominator), Steven Universe (Peridot and Yellow Diamond) and Adventure Time (Ice King and the Lich).

Navigation

           Dragon Ball Villains

Dragon Ball
Pilaf Gang
Emperor Pilaf | Shu | Mai

Red Ribbon Army
Commander Red | Assistant Black | Captain Dark | Captain Yellow | Colonel Silver | Colonel Violet | Major Metallitron | General White | General Blue | Murasaki | Buyon | Hasky) | Tao Pai Pai

Crane School
Master Shen | Tien Shinhan | Chiaotzu
King Piccolo's Demon Clan
King Piccolo | Tambourine | Piano | Cymbal | Drum | Piccolo Jr
Other
Bacterian | Bear Thief | Giran | Launch | Monster Carrot | Octopapa | Oolong | Pirate Android | Puar | Spike the Devil Man | Yamcha

Dragon Ball Super
Champa | Frost | Duplicate Vegeta | Goku Black | Zamasu | Barry Kahn | Quitela | Zen-Oh

Video Game Exclusive
Towa | Mira | Demigra