Emperor Pilaf is a short imp who desires to take over the world using the Dragon Balls, having many dreams of ruling the world. His two most significant henchmen are Shu and Mai. It is implied a couple of times early in the Dragon Ball series that he has other minions as well, but they are unseen. Pilaf seems to command considerable disposable resources; in the episode "The Flying Fortress – Vanished!", Colonel Silver characterizes the Pilaf Gang as being "probably some reckless millionaires looking for kicks."
The original base for his forces was his castle in the Mushroom Forest. When Goku turned into a Great Ape and destroyed it, he got a new base which was a flying fortress, which was later shot down by Colonel Silver's troops. One significant thing they later acquire is the Pilaf Machines, which are giant battle robots they use to fight Goku making them a bit closer to Goku's strength in battle.
The legendary King Piccolo was released from his prison by Pilaf, which ultimately backfired when he took over and made his own forces. The Pilaf forces return to interrupt Goku and Chi-Chi a couple times on their quest for the Bansho Fan. In the video game Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans, it is implied that Pilaf's Castle was rebuilt sometime after the Piccolo Jr. Saga.
Before the events of the Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, the Pilaf Gang gathered all the Dragon Balls themselves and wished for youth. They have also apparently become very poor between the events of Dragon Ball and Battle of Gods, as Pilaf says "Our next goal is wealth!" and "I'm sick of living in poverty!" In the film, they appear turned into children and they sneak into Capsule Corporation, where Bulma's birthday party is held, in order to steal the Dragon Balls. Among the prizes they each find something to interest them: a plane and castle for Pilaf, ten years worth of ham for Shu, a diamond for Mai, and finally all discover the Dragon Balls. However, they are interrupted by Trunks, and then Goten, whom terrifies them because they believe him to be Goku. Bulma does not recognize them and invites them to the party as a result. They are also there when the Z Fighters face the God of Destruction Beerus.
Six months later, the Pilaf Gang are scouring for the Dragon Balls again and they encounter Tagoma and Sorbet. They are forced to give them the Dragon Balls so they could revive Frieza. Though Frieza is ultimately revived, fortunately the second wish that Sorbet intended to use to resurrect King Cold, was stolen by Shu who wished for 1,000,000 Zeni making the Pilaf Gang rich in the process which infuriates Sorbet.
Pilaf and the rest are shown still together in Dragon Ball GT and accidentally use the Black Star Dragon Balls to turn Goku into a kid. Pilaf, Shu and Mai were later seen near their castle's ruins during the episode "Piccolo's Decision" when Goku took them to New Planet Plant before the Earth's explosion.
A special chapter for the Dragon Ball Super manga drawn by Toyotarō shows how and when Future Pilaf asked Shenron to make them younger. The request was made in Age 767, moments before Piccolo dies by the hands of the androids, consequently causing God to die too and making the dragon balls to turn into stones. It can be assumed that the same wish was made in the "normal" timeline, at the same age and same time, with the only differences being that Shenron didn't disappeared since Piccolo did not died and that Bulma, Baby Trunks and Gohan did not appear after the wish was maded, as they was not searching the Dragon Balls.
Video game appearances
The Pilaf Gang appears in several video games, including Dragon Ball: Shenron no Nazo, Dragon Ball Z: Buu's Fury, Dragon Ball GT: Transformation, Dragon Ball: Origins, and Dragon Ball RPG: Shōnen-hen.
Using their combined Pilaf Machine, the Pilaf Gang is a boss in Dragon Ball 3: Gokuden, Dragon Ball Z: Super Gokuden: Totsugeki-Hen, Dragon Ball: Advanced Adventure, Dragon Ball: Origins 2, and Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans. The Pilaf Machine is a playable fighter in the Japanese and European Wii versions of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2, as well as in all versions of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3.
In Dragon Ball: Origins, in the bonus level 6-5, Pilaf rebuilds his castle and attempts to eliminate Goku before he becomes too much of an obstacle. In the bonus level 6-6: "Pilaf Must Be Stopped", after the 21st World Martial Arts Tournament, the Pilaf Gang gets Ranfan to join them in their rebuilt castle, and they terrorize a nearby village together before being stopped by Goku.
In Dragon Ball: Origins 2, in the bonus level 8-4, the Pilaf Gang kidnap Senbei Norimaki and Turbo Norimaki, and oblige them to repair their Flying Fortress and Pilaf Machines. In sub-episode 8-6: "Pilaf and Red Ribbon", the Pilaf Gang hire Colonel Violet to lead them to the Red Ribbon Army Headquarters' control room and find a surviving Red Ribbon Battle Jacket; Pilaf using the Battle Jacket and his two henchmen using their Pilaf Machines are defeated shortly later by Goku. In the bonus level 8-7, they get King Nikochan and his servant to repair and improve their flying fortress' nuclear reactor before confronting Goku, but they are defeated once again. This bonus level ends with Pilaf telling that he needs to find a fighter stronger than Goku, and then a flashforward shows Pilaf finding the Electric Rice Cooker where King Piccolo is sealed.
- Emperor Pilaf
- Unnamed spy – Mentioned in "The Emperor's Quest" when he sent a message saying that he spotted a glow in Skull Valley just before he disappeared and that may possibly be another Dragon Ball. Later, the spy called Pilaf on the telephone to tell him about Master Roshi in the episode "The Nimbus Cloud of Roshi".
- Master Shen
- General Tao
- Colonel Violet
- King Nikochan and his servant
- King Piccolo
- Yamcha (briefly in Dragon Ball SD)
- Goten (gave them food when they were hungry in Battle of Gods Saga)
- Trunks (gave them food when they were hungry in Battle of Gods Saga)
- Whis (invited them to a meal when they were hungry in Battle of Gods Saga)
- Sorbet & Tagoma (briefly in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’)
- Frieza (assisted Sorbet & Tagoma in resurrecting Frieza with the Dragon Balls in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’)
- The Pilaf Gang are an example of the classic anime cliche of recurring comedic villain trios that originally spawned from the Time Bokan series.
|Members||Emperor Pilaf • Mai • Shu|
|Allies||Minister Shen • General Tao • Ranfan • Colonel Violet • King Nikochan • King Nikochan's servant • King Piccolo • Piano • Tambourine • Cymbal • Pilappaggy Villain Union • Goten • Trunks • Whis • Sorbet • Tagoma • Frieza|
|Pilaf's family||Great Granddaddy Pilaf • Emperor Pilaf's Mother • Paella|
|Bases and Vehicles||Pilaf's Castle • Pilaf Plane • Flying Fortress • Pink Mercedes • Pilaf Machines • Airship • Tettiri Number 55|
|Technology and Objects||Dragon Radar-proof box • Global Dragon Radar • Mecha 7 • Paella Gang (Paella, Long, Chow) • Satellite • Switchblade • Universal Key|