Emperor Pilaf is the first major antagonist during Dragon Ball. He is a small, impish creature who craves nothing more than power and dreams of ruling the world. He is an emperor in that he has a crown and a castle. He rules over an empire known as the Emperor Pilaf, however; only members of this evil empire are his two followers Shu and Mai. Emperor Pilaf acts much like a child
Empror pilaf
would with a new toy, he acts as if he's king of the world all because of his "toys". Emperor 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 Emperor 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.

Characteristics and design Edit

Despite his seeming incompetence, Emperor 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.

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

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

Emperor Pilaf appears almost twice as much in the anime as compared to the manga.

Biography Edit


Emperor Pilaf Saga Edit

Main article: Emperor Pilaf Saga

Emperor's Pilaf first appearance is at the beginning of Dragon Ball, during the Emperor Pilaf Saga. He discovers the one star ball and finds out he needs to collect the dragon balls. He ends up torturing his minions Shu and Mai repeatedly due to them failing to gather any more dragon balls. He manages to collect all of the Dragon Balls once Goku, Bulma and Oolong (who later are joined by Yamcha and Puar) appear near his castle and are ambushed by Shu and Mai. They forget the four star ball but they end up getting it eventually as they get it by trapping 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 girls panties. Emperor Pilaf captures Goku and the others and plans to kill them in the morning. But during their nightly stay in prison, Goku's friends are freed when Goku transforms into a Great Ape by looking at the moon. Emperor Pilaf's castle is completely destroyed by the monster ape but Emperor Pilaf, Mai, and Shu manage to escape after a failed attempt at trying to kill him by shooting him with a plane.

Red Ribbon Army Saga Edit

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

Fortuneteller Baba Saga Edit

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

King Piccolo Saga Edit

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


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

Dragon Ball GT Edit

Emperor Pilaf is not seen nor heard of throughout Dragon Ball Z, minus a quick flashback by Bulma in a filler episode of the Namek Saga, aswell 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 Bojack Unbound.


In the first episode of Dragon Ball GT he makes a final major appearance as an old man. Emperor Pilaf, along with the now elderly Shu 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 Uub. The trio manages to summon the Dragon but are caught by Goku, whom they try to stop with missile launching robot suits but fail. Emperor Pilaf complains how he wishes Goku was a kid again so he could beat him up, unaware the Eternal Dragon hears this wish, grants it, and turns Goku into a child and then scatters the balls across the galaxy, setting into motion the events of the entire series.

Baby Saga Edit

Emperor Pilaf is not seen for the rest of the series, except for once in the Baby Saga. Before the Earth explodes, Emperor Pilaf and his gang are last seen briefly, when Super Saiyan 4 Goku teleports them to the Tuffle Planet.

GT Plot Hole Edit

Pilaf in gt
Note: In the "Kid Buu Saga" of Dragon Ball Z, Dende wished back everyone that was not evil. Even though Emperor 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. However, this can be argued due to the fact Emperor Pilaf wasn't a pure evil being (as opposed to a comical bumbling imp with dreams of power), as King Piccolo was the first true enemy to pose that type of threat. This is backed up by Android 17's being brought back twice (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 with during the Majin Buu crisis.

Minions and former allies Edit

Techniques Edit

  • "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.
Pilaf and his gang
*Rolling Smash
  • Galling 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 series.
  • Launch Missiles!
  • Double Buster - Pilaf Machine releases strong pink ki waves of energy from the two slots on the front of his chest, which creates massive damage.


Voice Actors Edit

Trivia Edit

  • The Simplified Chinese characters he wears on his chest are 炒饭 (chǎofàn), which means "fried
Pilaf runing from great ape
*rice". "Pilaf" is a type of rice dish.
  • Dragon Ball Z anime movie/filler villain Garlic Jr., who shares the same voice and diminutive size as Emperor Pilaf, is similar to Emperor Pilaf except a much more serious villain.
  • In the 9th Dragon Ball Z movie, Bojack Unbound, Pilaf, Mai and Shu are on cards in a card game Goku and King Kai are playing.
  • It is revealed in the The Emperor's Quest that Shu and Mai aren't his only minions and that there's 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 heard calling Pilaf on a crocodile-shaped telephone.
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