Piccolo is one of the few major characters in the series whose appearance does not drastically change as the series continues. Being from another planet called Namek, Piccolo appears as a typical Namekian: green-skinned, tall, and hairless. The only major difference between his original appearance in the manga and his appearance in the anime is that in the manga he has four fingers on each hand while in the anime he has five fingers. Piccolo is known for his white turban and long white cape. He wears a purple Asian martial arts uniform (dogi) underneath his cape, with a red obi (changed to blue in the anime TV series and first five movies), and brown light-weight footwear. In a single filler episode in the anime, Piccolo is seen wearing an old outfit of Goku's when both of them are forced to go to driving school by Goku's wife, Chi Chi.
Piccolo emerged several hundred years later during Dragon Ball, only to be killed by Goku. Before his death, Piccolo reincarnated himself in the form of a son named Piccolo Jr., whom he intended to have continue his mission of world domination, and avenge his death against Goku. Three years later, Piccolo Jr. entered the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament under the alias "Ma Junior" (Demon Jr). Piccolo fought Goku in hopes of avenging his father and ruling the world, but was defeated in the final round.
Five years later, Piccolo was confronted by an alien named Raditz whose power greatly surpassed that of even Goku's. Realizing the evil Saiyan would thwart his plans for world domination, Piccolo teamed up with Goku in an attempt to stop Raditz from destroying the Earth, and so that Goku could retrieve his kidnapped son. When the two arch rivals teamed up, Piccolo was able to defeat Raditz, and conveniently eliminate Goku at the same time with a new technique that he originally intended to kill Goku with, the Makankosappo. During the battle, Gohan had revealed an amazing hidden power, and Piccolo knew that it would be useful against the two other Saiyans that would be arriving a year later. It is also later revealed by Kami that Piccolo sensed his upcoming death against the approaching Saiyans, and that his attempt to train Gohan would've resulted in him gaining a successor.
Piccolo's role in the series drastically changes as the years progress, becoming a good character when he is revealed to have become fond of Gohan as a friend, also inadvertently becoming a second father-figure in Goku's absence. When the Saiyans arrive a year later, Piccolo's fondness toward Gohan results in him sacrificing himself for the boy, which also results in the death of Kami and the Dragon Balls. After Goku returns and defeats the Saiyans with the help of Gohan and Krillin, Gohan and others travel to Piccolo's homeworld Namek to revive those who died against the Saiyans with the Namekian Dragon Balls. Piccolo is resurrected on Planet Namek to help Goku and others defeat the evil Frieza. Upon his arrival, Piccolo physically assimilates with another Namekian named Nail, and gains a massive amount of power. Despite his massive power increase, Piccolo is defeated and severely injured by Frieza, leaving Goku to defeat him alone. Piccolo is restored to health, and waits a year until Goku arrives back on Earth. He then trains with Goku and Gohan for three years to prepare for a battle against two powerful androids.
After being defeated by Android #17 and Android #18, Piccolo seeks to unite with Kami, and gain another massive increase in power. After uniting with Kami, Piccolo becomes aware of a more dangerous threat named Cell, even more powerful then the androids who had defeated him and the others earlier. Before his second encounter with Cell, Piccolo once again battles the androids, except this time he battles #17 one on one. After a somewhat even match, Cell arrives on the battle scene and needing to absorb the androids to complete his power, Cell attacks and Piccolo attempts to thwart his plans to gain power. Piccolo is nearly killed by Cell, and he is forced to participate in a Martial Arts Tournament created by Cell called the Cell Games where he fights one of the seven Cell Juniors that are created by Cell, who are later destroyed by Gohan. During this time, Gohan surpasses Goku and defeats Cell, saving the Earth from total destruction.
Seven years later, Piccolo acts as a trainer to Son Goten, Goku's second son and Trunks, Vegeta's son, and their fused form Gotenks. Piccolo trains the boys in fighting the evil creature Majin Buu and he later gives his energy to Goku's Super Spirit Bomb, which Goku uses to defeat Buu once and for all.
In Dragon Ball GT he is severely injured by Gohan while he was possessed by Baby and later dies with Earth in order to destroy the Black Star Dragon Balls. He goes to Heaven but then requests he is sent to Hell in order to free Goku when he is imprisoned there. He can be seen putting Hell in order and protecting the rulers there. In the final episode, Goku stops in Hell to see Piccolo. He tells Piccolo that he will be leaving and that they are glad they met and teamed up. He also says that he has become a good friend and he will get out of Hell someday. They shake hands and Goku leaves while Piccolo stays behind.
Like many other characters in Dragon Ball, Piccolo has the ability of flight. He also possesses an attack called the Bakurikimaha ("Destructive Wave" in the English dub), which is fired with one hand being supported by the other. One of Piccolo's most powerful attacks is the Makankosappo, ("Special Beam Cannon" in the English dub) an attack that is expelled from Piccolo's index and middle fingers. Unlike most energy-based attacks in Dragon Ball, the potent Makankosappo pierces its targets like a drill rather than enveloping them or exploding on contact. Piccolo's ultimate attack in the video games he has appeared in is called "Hellzone Grenade", which involves firing off many orbs of energy that float around the opponent. Piccolo then squeezes his hand to make all the orbs converge onto the opponent, exploding on contact. Piccolo also possesses the ability of "Scatter Shot" in which he fires many different chi blasts shot from one hand at the same time. Piccolo is also seen possessing an attack called the Masenko or Demon Wave, which Piccolo teaches to his pupil Gohan. Another move Piccolo is seen to have is the Gekiretsu Kodan, ("Light Grenade" in the English dub) which is conjured by putting his hands on his chest, gathering energy and then releasing it outwards. One of Piccolo's less frequently used techniques is the ability to fire energy rays from his eyes, which he uses against Goku in the 23rd Martial Arts Tournament and again when he trains Gohan in the Saiyan Saga. Piccolo can also perform the "Namekian Fusion" which he first does with Nail on the distant Planet Namek to confront Frieza, and then with Kami at the Lookout to stop Cell.
Piccolo has been in many Dragon Ball-related video games such as the Super Butoden and the Budokai series of games, and is a playable character in crossover games such as Jump Super Stars and Jump Ultimate Stars. In most Dragon Ball video games, Piccolo has no transformations. However, in the Budokai and Tenkaichi series Piccolo has multiple forms.