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"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."
Pilaf in "A Devastating Wish"

Pilaf (ピラフ, Pirafu; FUNimation "Emperor Pilaf", Viz "Emperor Pilaf") is a small, blue Imp-like monster who craves nothing more than power and ruling the world. He rules over an empire[citation needed] that consists of his castle in the Diablo Desert and his two followers, Shuu and Mai.

Characteristics and design

Despite his seeming incompetence, Pilaf has an incredible amount of resources at his command, such as his own castle, airplane, laser weaponry, and high-tech floating base. Somehow he is able to improve on Bulma's Dragon Radar, develop a material that is capable of nullifying the electromagnetic pulses that a Dragon Radar picks up on, create an orbiting satellite detection system that can pick up images and sound from anywhere in the world, and find where the Denshi Jar containing the sealed King Piccolo, was buried under the ocean floor hundreds of years ago even though he was believed to be only a legend by everyone save Master Roshi and Master Shen.

Pilaf's design was partially based on Elton John's character from the film adaptation of Tommy. Pilaf wears a similar hat to John's and also has a gigantic pinball machine with piano keys.

Pilaf is one of the few characters to break the fourth wall, directly referring to the Dragon Ball comic itself. It should also be noted that despite his incompetence, he is known to the citizens of Earth, as Bulma recognizes him as Emperor Pilaf when they first meet.

Pilaf is a recurring character throughout Dragon Ball and appears almost twice as much in the anime as compared to the manga.


Pilaf acts much like a child would with a new toy, he acts as if he was king of the world all because of his "toys". Pilaf in fact has no special powers and usually keeps his henchmen in line through various torture devices he keeps in his castle home. If something bothers Pilaf, he will cry, whine, and complain like a baby until he gets his way. Despite his immature attitude, Pilaf demonstrates 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.[4]


Dragon Ball

Emperor Pilaf Saga

Main article: Emperor Pilaf Saga

Pilaf finding his first Dragon Ball.
Pilaf and his minions running from Great Ape Goku.

Pilaf's first appearance is at the beginning of Dragon Ball during the Emperor Pilaf Saga. He discovers the One-Star Ball, but soon finds out that he needs to collect all seven of the Dragon Balls. He ends up torturing his minions, Shuu and Mai, repeatedly due to them failing to gather any more Dragon Balls. He manages to collect all of the Dragon Balls once Son Goku, Bulma, and Oolong (who later are joined by Yamucha and Puar) appear near his castle and are ambushed by Shuu and Mai. They forget the Four-Star Ball, but end up getting it eventually as they trap them in a room with sleeping gas. When he is about to make his wish to take over the world, Oolong jumps in the way and screams a wish for a hot girl's panties. Pilaf captures Goku and the others and plans to kill them in the morning. During their nightly stay in prison, Goku's friends are freed when Goku transforms into a Great Ape by looking at the Moon. Castle Pilaf is completely destroyed by the monster ape, but Pilaf, Mai, and Shuu manage to escape after a failed attempt at trying to kill him by shooting him with their plane.

Red Ribbon Army Saga

Main article: Red Ribbon Army Saga

Pilaf returns a second time in anime filler to gather the Dragon Balls up once more during the Red Ribbon Army Saga, but he is stopped by the Red Ribbon Army.

Fortuneteller Baba Saga

Main article: Fortuneteller Baba Saga

Next, he fights Goku in a robot battle suit in a gamble during the Fortuneteller Baba Saga, but is defeated by Goku.

King Piccolo Saga

Main article: King Piccolo Saga

Pilaf returns a fourth time when he releases Piccolo Daimao from his confinement to achieve power. However, Piccolo Daimao betrays him soon after.

Piccolo Jr. Saga

Main article: Piccolo Jr. Saga

In the anime filler, he also appears at the end of Dragon Ball and tries to defeat Goku and Chichi in order to obtain the Basho Fan prior to Goku and Chichi's wedding.

Dragon Ball Z

Pilaf is neither seen nor heard of throughout Dragon Ball Z, minus a quick flashback by Bulma in a filler episode during the Namek Saga, as well as being seen briefly during the ending credits of Bardock: The Father of Goku. He also had an appearance in a picture stint on a card game in Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound.

Dragon Ball GT

Black Star Dragon Ball Saga

Main article: Black Star Dragon Ball Saga

Pilaf still plotting against Goku.

In the first episode of Dragon Ball GT, he makes a final major appearance as an old man. Pilaf, along with a now elderly Shuu and Mai, arrive at Kami's Lookout in order to use the Black Star Dragon Balls to make a wish while Goku continues his training with Oob. The trio manages to summon Shen Long, but are caught by Goku whom they try to stop with missile-launching robot suits. They fail and Pilaf complains how he wishes Goku was a kid again so that he could beat him up, unaware that the Eternal Dragon hears this wish, grants it, and turns Goku into a child before scattering the Black Star Dragon Balls across the galaxy. This sets into motion the events of the entire series.

Baby Saga

Main article: Baby Saga

Pilaf, Shuu, and Mai being transported to New Planet Plant by Super Saiyan 4 Goku.

Pilaf is not seen for the rest of the series except once during the Baby Saga. Before Earth explodes, Pilaf and his minions are seen briefly when Super Saiyan 4 Goku teleports them to New Planet Plant.


Pilaf built a large Dragon Radar with Mai and Shuu for Crane Hermit in Dragon Ball: Mystical Adventure.

Pilaf appeared in Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods.

Video games

GT plot hole

Note: During the Kid Buu Saga in Dragon Ball Z, Dende wished back everyone that was not evil. Even though Pilaf was evil, he was brought back, which is seen by some fans as a plot hole that led to the beginning of Dragon Ball GT. This can be argued, however, due to the fact that Pilaf was not a pure evil being (as opposed to a comical bumbling Imp with dreams of power), as the Red Ribbon Army was the first true enemy to pose that type of threat. This is backed up by Artificial Human No. 17 being brought back twice (No. 17 is slightly evil). The Funimation dub, intentionally or not, slightly clarifies this idea. In it, Dende's wish was worded as "Bring back everyone except the 'really' evil ones."

Another possibility is that, since Pilaf has so much technology at his disposal, he used it to have a vehicle built in which to flee Earth during the Majin Boo crisis.

Minions and former allies


  • Double Buster – Pilaf Machine releases strong pink Ki Blasts of energy from the two slots on the front of his chest, which creates massive damage.
  • Gatling Gun – Used only in his robot form. Pilaf reveals a machine gun from his left arm and releases waves of blasts at his opponent. This attack is used in the Budokai Tenkaichi video game series.
  • Launch Missiles!
  • Rolling Smash
  • The Treatment – Pilaf blows a kiss at his victim and blushes. He uses this attack on Bulma in "The Penalty is Pinball", but she shrugs it off as ridiculous.

Voice actors


Pilaf on the King playing card in Bojack Unbound.
Cameo of Pilaf and his minions in the 7th Dr. Slump film.
  • The Simplified Chinese characters he wears on his chest are 炒饭 (chǎofàn), meaning "fried rice". "Pilaf" is a type of rice dish.
  • Dragon Ball Z anime film/filler villain Garlic Jr., who shares the same voice, skin color, and diminutive size as Pilaf, is similar to Pilaf, except he is a much more serious villain.
  • In the 9th Dragon Ball Z film, Bojack Unbound, Pilaf, Mai, and Shuu are seen on playing cards in a card game Goku and North Kaio are playing.
  • It is revealed in the anime that Shuu and Mai may not be his only henchmen. In "The Emperor's Quest", one minion left a spy tracker in Skull Valley. Mai mentions that after he left the spy tracker there, he was never heard from again. It is assumed that this spy was killed by the Wolves. Another minion is later heard calling Pilaf on a Crocodile-shaped telephone.
  • Pilaf makes a cameo appearance in the 7th Dr. Slump film with his minions in a crowd and is seen giving a mean stare at Nikochan.


  1. Dragon Ball: Advanced Adventure
  2. Dragon Ball: Origins
  3. "The Legend of Goku"
  4. Dragon Ball manga. Vol. 2, #8 ("At Last... the Dragon!")