Piccolo — lean, green, fighting hunk of protein. Those of us who grew up with Dragon Ball had Piccolo in a cherished spot in our hearts ever since we first laid eyes on those weird antennae things at the top of his head. Piccolo is stoic, smart, and has a wicked set of fangs. He’s an alien monster who is simultaneously strangely human. He’s fought alongside the Z Fighters ever since he decided to stop trying to kill them. He rips his own arm out and grows it right back. He’s Piccolo, and he’s wicked cool.
Watching Piccolo throughout the progression of the Dragon Ball series, it’s easy to realize that we clearly don’t know everything there is to know about this mysterious Namekian. What are his inner thoughts and dreams? Where does his mind go when he meditates? What is his favourite movie? Well, since we are not sensei Akira Toriyama, we can not answer these questions. What we can do is dig through our encyclopedia of knowledge about the Dragon Ball series to pull out some often overlooked bits of trivia about this calm green monster.
SPOILER WARNING: For anyone who hasn’t seen Dragon Ball Super, but only in the last entry on this list, and only if you haven’t spent time going over the various Dragon Ball Super AMVs on YouTube. The first fourteen entries are spoiler-free for anyone who grew up in the 90’s and had cable. The following should be just the right amount of Super Namekian fun facts to get you through the day. Enjoy!
15. He Is Akira Toriyama’s Favourite Character
If Piccolo is your favourite character, and you’re thinking that you’re in a firm minority here (damned Vegeta, stealing all the fanboys), you might be wrong. It turns out that Namekian love flowed strong in the Dragon Ball writing room, particularly in the heart of the series creator. In response to a question asking which character from the Dragon Ball manga was his favourite, Akira Toriyama said, “I believe mine would be Piccolo. He was the first character in my manga where I was like, ‘He has a scary face, but he’s so cool!’ It really is cliché when bad guys turn into good guys, but it just feels great drawing it!” One would think that sensei Toriyama would love all his many children equally, but this is not the case. He has a soft spot in his heart for Piccolo, softer than he does for any of the Saiyans, earthling Z Warriors, or villains.
14. He Was A Full Grown Adult At Three Years Old
Watching the classic Dragon Ball fight between Goku and Piccolo at the World Martial Arts Tournament, one would think that the beast Goku was fighting with was a seasoned adult monstrosity, with decades of stress and hate backing his punches. This is true in a way, but the fact is that Piccolo was really only three years old at the time. King Piccolo, when giving birth to Piccolo Jr. (Jr. would go on to be known simply as Piccolo moving forward, but at the end of Dragon Ball he was Piccolo Jr.), filled the egg with parts of who he was, like his knowledge of ki energy and his hatred for Goku. This gave Piccolo a mentality several years older than his body, but the fact is that body was only three years old. To give a little more perspective, Piccolo was only four years older than Gohan when he trained him at the beginning of Dragon Ball Z.
13. The Namekian Race Was Written After Piccolo
As we viewers were presented with the Dragon Ball series, everything seemed so perfectly wound together, with each aspect of the story linking to another. For example, we spent a lot of time watching Piccolo grow along with the series, only later discovering that he was part of an entire race on a distant planet called Namek. That planet, and the Namekians that inhabit it, would end up playing a central setting and role in the Frieza saga. Given that sort of seamless presentation, we would think that Akira Toriyama came up with the Namek race first, and wrote Piccolo as an outlier of that race who happened to find himself on planet Earth. However, the truth is that Piccolo was initially conceived simply as a strong green alien dude. All notions of his background, including his original planet and race, came later, during the writing sessions of Dragon Ball Z.
12. His Blood Colour Changed
At the end of Dragon Ball and the beginning of Dragon Ball Z, Piccolo’s blood colour in the anime is bright red, just like ours. However, as of the fight with Nappa, we can clearly see that his blood colour is purple. This change is most likely attributed in part to continuity errors as well as Piccolo being established as part of the Namekian race. Toei and Bird Studios were responsible for making the anime version of the series, so this colour variation falls on them, however it’s still unclear if there’s actually a correct colour for Piccolo’s blood. It’s not likely that Akira Toriyama made any changes to the blood colour in writing the anime, so there isn’t necessarily a strictly canon explanation for the variation. The most metaphorical meaning we can pull out of it is that, as Piccolo’s demonic evil faded away, his blood colour reverted back to purple like the rest of his peaceful Namekian brethren.
11. He Has Multiple People Living Inside Of Him
Throughout the series, Piccolo fused with two of his fellow Nameks: Nail, back in the Frieza Saga, and Kami during the Cell Saga. Both of those instances drastically increased his power level, and that’s all that we tend to remember about the fusions. However, the fact is that both Nail and Kami are still hanging out someplace within Piccolo’s psyche, presumably playing chess and making cat’s cradles. They never went anywhere; Piccolo never expelled their essence into the toilet bowl after he was done grabbing their powers (does Piccolo even use toilet bowls? Another question for another article). They’re living in his head, presumably still totally conscious, since Piccolo once addressed Dende using Nail’s voice after they fused. Namekians are a wise race, so we like to think that both Nail and Kami knew exactly what they were getting themselves into when they joined the Piccolo train. Still, we can’t help but feel bad for them. We hope they get internet up there.
10. King Kai (Sort Of) Killed Him
Of course, King Kai would never hurt a fly, and he certainly never caused any direct harm to Piccolo or any of the other Z Fighters (or anyone at all, presumably). However, in a very indirect way, he contributed to Piccolo’s death at the hands (re: ki mouth blast) of Nappa during the Saiyan Saga. Our reasoning here is that King Kai could have taught Goku how to use the Instant Transmission technique during their training, but he instead opted to make Goku take the long, long way back to Earth via Snake Way. By the time Goku made it back to Earth, nearly all the Z Warriors were dead, including Piccolo. If King Kai would have taught him Instant Transmission, Goku would have been back on Earth in literally one instant, and would have proceeded to punch Nappa right through the gut as Piccolo and the rest of the Z Warriors made their way back to safety.
9. He Is The Wisest Of The Z Fighters
Say what you will about Piccolo’s power level — i.e. he is insanely powerful, but fell way behind the Saiyans a long time ago, and his fighting abilities have since been more or less irrelevant to the series’ plot progressions — but it’s really hard to argue that the dude has some smarts in him. In fact, he has consistently proven to be by far the wisest of all the Z Warriors. Think about how he’s the first to notice when something is fishy in any situation, like when the Z Warriors were approaching Dr. Gero’s lab, or when he was the only one to notice that Gohan didn’t want to fight against Cell. In battle, he’s always several steps ahead of his opponent, giving him an edge even when he’s the underdog. He also tricked Cell into spilling his master plan (although admittedly, he let Cell get away from him right before he was about to destroy him, leading to the major catastrophes of the Cell Saga), and Super Buu absorbed him specifically for his insane intelligence.
8. Finger Inconsistencies
Not only was Piccolo’s blood colour changed from red to purple in the anime, but the number of his digits changed as well, this time in the transition from manga to anime. In the manga, Piccolo was shown as having three fingers and a thumb; in the anime, he has a normal human hand — four fingers and a thumb. There was one notable exception of this in the manga in a single panel which showed Piccolo holding out 5 fingers and saying something like, “I’ll kill you in only 5 seconds.” That was a wicked cool segment, and we think Toriyama was totally justified in changing Piccolo’s finger count so he could deliver that line. However, the change in fingers in the anime doesn’t seem to have any story-based reasoning behind it at all. It’s just easier to animate characters with a normal human hand than to keep track of irregular alien finger schemes.
7. He Was The Strongest Character In Dragon Ball Z Twice
As Piccolo fanboys holding our breath for our character to kick some serious a**, we tend to have a really hard time. Piccolo is super strong, and he does hand out beatings in very cool ways once in a while, but the fact is that he is so far behind the strongest characters in the series that his strength is hardly even relevant anymore. However, we diehard Piccolo followers look back fondly on two glorious spans of time in the Dragon Ball Z universe where our character was indisputably (sort of) the strongest fighter of the series. The first case was during his fusion with Nail, after which point he proceeded to kick the crap out of Frieza in his second form. After that, he fused with Kami and delivered the same sort of beating to Cell in his first form.
6. He’s One Of The Only Two Characters To Have Killed Goku
Our noble Goku only died twice during the entire Dragon Ball series, and both of those deaths were sacrifices. Noble, righteous Goku, how we admire you… Anyway, fans tend to forget that the first time our hero ever crossed over into the other world, it was an attack by Piccolo that sent him there. During the fight with Raditz at the beginning of the Dragon Ball Z series, Goku latched onto his brother in a deathly bear hug while Piccolo charged up his Special Beam Cannon. Once the murderous attack was charged, he let it rip through the Saiyan brothers, impaling Raditz before frying Goku’s innards. Of course, Goku would eventually come back to save the day again, and as cracked as it sounds, Piccolo actually killed his rival as a gesture of camaraderie, proving that you’re not really friends with someone until you kill them with a Special Beam Cannon.
5. He’s Named After An Instrument
To anyone born in the 90’s, the term “Piccolo” is almost always a reference to the green-skinned, seven-foot tall Dragon Ball Z warrior known as Piccolo. That’s the only entity that we associated the word with, and it’s the only association most of us ever needed. However, long before our green Piccolo came around, there was another Piccolo that has been put to a very different use for centuries, and that is the musical instrument known as the piccolo. The piccolo is a relatively short instrument with a relatively long history, used in the orchestra since the early 1700’s. It’s something like a cross between a flute and an ocarina like the one Link plays. Much fan art has been drawn over the years depicting our Namekian Piccolo playing the piccolo while sitting cross-legged on the grass. If ever you have a Sunday to kill, browsing through these pictures can provide much jovial enjoyment.
4. He Has Several Siblings
The Piccolo we know was fathered by the evil King Piccolo of Dragon Ball. Considering that King Piccolo barfed out many an egg in his day, this means that Piccolo has (well, had) a good deal of siblings walking, rolling, and flying around the world, terrorizing humanity. The most well-known of these siblings includes Piano, Tambourine, Cymbal, and Drum. If you haven’t noticed, all of those monsters are named after musical instruments, just like our stoic friend Piccolo. Aside from those four, there were also several of Piccolo’s siblings that had made appearance in Dragon Ball video games such as Banjo, Bell, Viola, Conga, Harp, Mandolin, Maraca, Marimba, Organ, Ukulele, Gamelan, and of course, the lovable Bongo. In case your ability not to notice patterns is particularly strong, all of these bonus siblings are named after instruments as well. King Piccolo must have had an affinity for the orchestra, although we can’t take think of any instances in which he showed it.
3. He Has An Insane Sense Of Hearing
On top of Piccolo’s various abilities (which include but are not limited to self-regeneration, flight, super strength, the ability to compose horrifying beams of energy, and the best poker face of any green person in history), he also has a vastly exaggerated sensitivity to sound. This was stated in the Trunks Saga, when Piccolo could hear Trunks’ and Goku’s conversation from a great distance away, while the Z Fighters heard nothing at all. Apparently, though, that was child’s play — evidence shows that he can hear across several galaxies, when he discovered Goku and Broly’s location on New Planet Vegeta using nothing but his sense of hearing. Not only does his augmented hearing grant him a great edge in battle, but he’s also a master eavesdropper. This means that if you pass putrid gas anywhere in the world, Piccolo can probably hear it, and he’s probably disgusted by you.
2. He’s A Zen Master
In idle times, or extended periods of peace, we’ve often seen Piccolo either sitting on or hovering a few feet above the grass, legs crossed, fingers joined, eyes closed. In these instances, Piccolo is using meditation to access the infinite astral planes that lie beyond our physical universe. He is a zen lord the likes of which we have never seen in the real world. Piccolo’s third eye is completely de-calcified, and he’s so in tune with the invisible vibrations of the multiverse that a normal human mind would implode via overexposure if it was to be given even a hint of the esoteric knowledge Piccolo possesses. Sure, in the real world we have some international gurus and a few hardcore monks who never leave their meditation circle in the mountains, but have you ever seen someone so zen that they float above the very earth as they tap into the cosmos through their pineal glands? No, you haven’t.
1. He Sacrificed Himself For Gohan (Again)
Honourable, altruistic Piccolo has definitely come a long way from his brief time as a monstrous fighting machine bent on ruling the world. Very soon after he stepped a foot onto the good side, he sacrificed his life to save Gohan’s by jumping into the trajectory of Nappa’s insane ki mouth blast. That was the first time Piccolo gave his life to save Gohan’s, and if you haven’t seen Dragon Ball Super, you would think it was the last. However, the sad fact is that Piccolo did the exact same thing, except this time Gohan was about to be killed by a finger blast delivered from Frieza. Piccolo once again stepped into the path of the death beam right at the last moment, dying in a flash right before Gohan’s eyes (again). Oh Piccolo, you will be missed… not for long though; this is Dragon Ball, so he was quickly brought right back to life.