|“||When I give the word, your little town thingy will be bye-bye. Bye-bye!||„|
|~ Kuzco explaining his plans to Pacha.|
|“||It's all about me.||„|
|~ One of Kuzco's common sayings.|
|“||Ha! Boom baby!||„|
|~ Kuzco's catchphrase.|
Emperor Kuzco, also simply known as Kuzco, is the main protagonist of Disney's 40th full-length animated feature film The Emperor's New Groove, a supporting character in the direct-to-video sequel Kronk's New Groove, the main protagonist of its spinoff television series The Emperor's New School, and a recurring character in House of Mouse.
He is a malevolent and egotistical emperor who (through the course of the first film) must realize the error of his ways, serving as a villainous protagonist until the end of the film. Even after his initial redemption, he still serves as an on and off anti-villain in the other Emperor's New Groove projects and sequels.
Kuzco was born to the previous emperor of the Kuzconian Empire in Peru. While he has little to no memory of his mother, he recalls his father, who had a llama-shaped birthmark same as him. According to Kuzco, his father was lost at sea and never returned, leading him to be raised by the emperor's elderly advisor named Yzma, until his teenage years and taking of the throne.
The Emperor's New Groove
Kuzco grew into a selfish, vain and controlling emperor, revered by his subjects more out of fear than respect. Every day, he would live his life by a pattern of actions and behaviors, which he called his "groove". If anyone were to interrupt, alter or otherwise "throw off" his groove, he would attempt to have them executed. This is seen in the beginning of the film when, by bumping into an old man named Rudy, Rudy has "thrown off" his groove. Kuzco then orders him to be thrown out of a window by one of his blue and red bodyguards. Rudy thankfully has his fall broken by a sign and survives relatively unhurt, but goes on to warn a village leader named Pacha of the emperor's wrath.
After catching Yzma trying to rule in his absence again (which she has been continuously trying to do), Kuzco finally decides to fire her and her henchman Kronk. He gets picky when Kronk tries to touch him, and glorifies Yzma's firing. Pacha then comes in, having received a summon. Kuzco appears to be hospitable at first, but then reveals to Pacha that he intends to destroy his village and build a summer getaway house in its place. When Pacha asks what will happen to his people, Kuzco simply replies "don't know, don't care". When Pacha speaks against him, Kuzco turns his guards on him and has them throw Pacha out.
Unbeknownst to Kuzco, Yzma and Kronk planned to kill him out of revenge for firing them by poisoning his drink. Kuzco agrees to dine with them, but Kronk, through a labeling mistake, accidentally grabs a magic potion that transforms Kuzco into an anthropomorphic llama. Kronk manages to knock him out, and Yzma orders Kronk to get rid of Kuzco. Kronk puts Kuzco into a sack and tries to throw Kuzco into a waterfall, but is overcome by his conscience and decides against it. As he wonders what to do with him, he trips and the sack ends up on Pacha's cart.
Pacha takes Kuzco home, and discovers him soon after. Kuzco wakes up and sees what has become of him, then tries to command Pacha to take him back to the palace so he can have Yzma change him back, unaware that she was the one who transformed him in the first place. Pacha refuses, but warns him not to enter the dangerous jungle. Purposefully ignoring Pacha's warning, Kuzco enters the jungle and comes across a squirrel named Bucky. Bucky offers him an acorn, but Kuzco throws it at him and tells him to scram. However, Bucky is angry and antagonizes Kuzco, causing him to wake up a pack of angry jaguars. He tries to run, but is cornered. Just as the jaguars are about to fore him off of a cliff, Pacha comes down to rescue him. However, during the rescue, Kuzco and Pacha get tied to a tree trunk and fall into a river and over a waterfall, where Kuzco almost dies. Pacha saves him,. but Kuzco is not very grateful and simply commands him again to take him back. Pacha still refuses, but shows kindness to him by giving him his poncho as a blanket that night.
In the morning, Kuzco meets with Pacha and says that he has changed his mind, and if Pacha gets him back to the palace, he will find another hilltop to build his summerhouse. Pacha agrees, but does not know that Kuzco is lying, planning on throwing him into prison when they reach the palace and building his summerhouse on Pacha's hill anyway. The two journey all day and soon reach a bridge leading to the palace. However, one of the boards breaks and Pacha falls, entangled in the ropes below the bridge. Pacha asks for help, but Kuzco decides to leave him to die. Just as Kuzco leaves, the boards beneath him break as well, causing him to fall and become entangled as well. Pacha angrily punches him for lying, and Kuzco retaliates with a kick, revealing that he still plans on destroying Pacha's village.
The two fight, causing the rest of the bridge to break and the two to fall. They stop themselves by pushing against each other and the walls of the narrow cavern, and then push against each others' backs to climb back up (after a commotion with some bats and scorpions). The two make it back to the top, but the rock beneath Pacha crumbles. Just as he is about to fall, Kuzco grabs him and pulls him to safety. Pacha is shocked, and Kuzco states that it was a one-time thing and he did not mean anything by it. Kuzco is then shocked when Pacha still plans to take him back to the palace, despite Kuzco's betrayal and Kuzco insisting that he will still build his summer home.
Back at the palace, Yzma and Kronk have taken over and declared Kuzco dead, though no one mourns him or cares for his loss. However, Yzma hears that Kuzco may still be alive, so she and Kronk go out to find him and kill him for good.
Kuzco and Pacha make their way to a restaurant called Mudka's Meat Hut, with Kuzco disguising himself as a woman to get past the "no animals" rule. When Kuzco steps away to complain about the food, Pacha overhears Yzma and Kronk arrive and discuss their plans. After a series of antics, Pacha gets with Kuzco and warns him. Kuzco, however, does not recognize the danger and thinks Yzma and Kronk are looking for him to save hi, Pacha tries to keep him away from them, to which Kuzco thinks Pacha is trying to keep him in the countryside forever. He shoos Pacha away, but soon overhears Yzma and Kronk and realizes that Pacha was right. He looks for him, but fails. He spends the night in the jungle, and later finds a field. Accepting his form, he starts eating grass, but soon sees Pacha. After an apology, Pacha takes him to his village and gets some gear to get Kuzco back to the palace, while avoiding Yzma and Kronk.
The two make it to the palace, but Yzma and Kronk get there before them. They battle, and Yzma sends guards after the two. Kuzco and Pacha outwit them and Kronk, and end with a final battle on the front of the palace. Yzma is turned into a cat by one of her potions, but is thrown off by Kuzco. Kuzco finds the potion that will turn him human again, but Pacha is falling. Kuzco decides to save Pacha instead, redeeming himself. The two thwart Yzma, and Kuzco turns back into a human. He settles for a small hut on Pacha's hill instead of a summerhouse, and becomes a close friend of Pacha's family.
Kronk's New Groove
|“||I'm nice now. Didn't you see the first movie?||„|
|~ Kuzco at the beginning of the film.|
Kuzco, now redeemed, appears as a minor character in Kronk's New Groove, narrating some of the story. Kronk is now the head chef at Mudka's Meat Hut, and is afraid of his overbearing father Papi coming to visit and seeing that he has no wife, kids, or fancy home. When Papi arrives, Kuzco cross dresses and is one of the many friends claiming to be Pacha's wife. Papi obviously discovers the truth, but sees how many people came to help Kronk and realizes just how good he has it, approving Kronk's lifestyle.
The Emperor's New School
|“||Friends? I thought it was all about me. Spell my name again!||„|
|~ Kuzco in the show's opening.|
In the sequel television series, Kuzco must go back to school and pass every class to keep his position. He gains a love interest name Malina, and, due to being kicked out of the palace until he finishes school, lives with Pacha and his family. Throughout the series, he remains mainly heroic throughout, but still acts acts selfish and envious. However, he occasionally commits villainous acts.
- In the episode "Kuzco Fever", Kuzco gets tired of living without his luxuries and fakes an illness to get out of school and to once again tap into his riches. His friends and superiors eventually catch on and call him out, and he later gets sick with a real illness caused by Yzma.
- In "Empress Malina", Kuzco selfishly wants to use one of Yzma's potions to get rid of a zit on Malina's face so she can remain beautiful and not "throw off his groove". However, the potion gives her a toucan beak, and Kuzco must change her back.
- In "The Adventures of Red-Eyed Tree Frog Man", Yzma changes him into a red-eyed tree frog, and he becomes a vigilante superhero with his new abilities until he is reverted back.
- In "Hungry, Hungry Llama", it is revealed that Kuzco rarely does homework and makes up ridiculous lies and excuses to get out of trouble.
- In "The Big Fight", Kuzco makes fun of another student named Kavo's speech impediment, causing them to get in a fight.
- In "Unfit to Print", Kuzco becomes editor of the school newspaper, but uses it to spread lies and gossip rather than news and facts.
- In "Officer Kronk", Kronk becomes hall monitor, but Kuzco wants to make rules and thus frames Kronk for his mischief and tries to take his job.
- In "Kronk Moves In", Yzma fires Kronk and he moves in with Pacha and his family. The family likes Kronk, and Kuzco gets jealous and tries to make Kronk look bad to shift attention back to him.
- In "Room for Improvement", Kuzco is tired of sharing a room with Pacha's kids, so he tries to sell the two and get the room to himself.
- In "Prisoner of Kuzcoban", it is revealed that Kuzco wrongfully imprisoned a man, who has returned for revenge.
- In "Guakumentary", Kuzco gets his friend Guaka to make a documentry on him, but at the premire he soaks up the credit and insults Guaka, hurting his feelings.
- In "Kuz-Cop", Kuzco fires a mall security guard, causing chaos and crime to fill the mall.
- In "Kronkenitza", Kuzco makes fun of Kronk for his family's heritage and place of origin.
- In "Project Poncho", Kuzco steals a beautiful poncho design to win a fashion contest.
- In "Citizen Kronk", Kuzco drinks a potion to look like Kronk and ruin his reputation out of jealousy.
- In "The Pajama Llama Dilemma", after getting a scroll to have a picnic with Pajama Llama, Kuzco takes advantage of Kronk to get it.
- In "Auction Action", Kuzco insults Malina at a charity auction, causing her to bid on Kronk instead of him. In a fit of envy, he gets popular girl Yatta to bid on him to make Malina jealous. They all end up at a restaurant, and end up fighting before resolving.
- In "Hotel Kuzco", in an attempt to get back into the palace, Kuzco fakes a termite infestation in Pacha's hut. He gets back to the palace, but has to deal with overcrowding as the entire village, afraid of termites, moves in with him.
- In "Kamp Kuzco", Kuzco is shown to be slightly misogynistic.
However, despite his on and off villainy, he remains good and graduates in the series finale, becoming emperor once more and getting together with Malina.
House of Mouse
Kuzco is a regular guest in House of Mouse, usually in his llama form.
Disney Parks and Cruise Lines
Kuzco appears as a heroic character in some Disney Parks and Cruise Line shows and attractions, such as Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, Disney Dreamers Everywhere!, and cameos in Midship Detective Agency and Villains Tonight!.
At first, Kuzco is selfish, vain, arrogant, rude, and cruel. He punishes those who interrupt his "groove", and plans to force entire villages out of their homes just for a temporary vacation spot. He is even willing to lie and trick those who want to help him, and even goes so far as to try and kill his enemies or even betray those around him.
Later, after having a change of heart, he remained egotistical and a bit selfish, but was all-around kinder and more helpful, though he tended to put himself first. Despite this, he has mostly shedded villainous nature and even at worst, is more misguided than cruel.
|“||Will you take a look at that? Pretty pathetic, huh? Well, you'll never believe this, but that llama you're looking at was once a human being. And not just any human being. That guy was an emperor. A rich, powerful ball of charisma. Oh, yeah! This is his story. Well, actually, my story. That's right... I'm that llama. The name is Kuzco... Emperor Kuzco. I was the world's nicest guy and they ruined my life for no reason. Oh, is that hard to believe? Look, I'll tell you what. You go back a ways, you know, before I was a llama, and this will all make sense.||„|
|~ Kuzco introducing the movie.|
|“||You threw off my groove!||„|
|“||Let's take a look-see. Hate your hair. Not likely. Yikes. Yikes. Yikes. And, let me guess, you have a great personality.||„|
|~ Kuzco judging potential brides.|
|“||What is this guy babbling about? He's like the thing that wouldn't shut up.||„|
|~ Kuzco about one of his advisors.|
|“||Um, how else can I say it? "You're being let go." "Your department's being downsized." "You're part of an outplacement." "We're going in a different direction." "We're not picking up your option." Take your pick. I got more.||„|
|~ Kuzco firing Yzma.|
|“||I don't make deals with peasants!||„|
|~ Kuzco yelling in Pacha's ear.|
|“|| Pacha: Uh-oh.|
Kuzco: Don't tell me. We're about to go over a huge waterfall.
Kuzco: Sharp rocks at the bottom?
Pacha: Most likely.
Kuzco: Bring it on.
|~ Kuzco and Pacha about to go over a waterfall.|
|“|| Pacha: [hanging off the bridge] Kuzco!|
Pacha: Quick, pull me up!
Kuzco: No, I don't think I will.
Pacha: You're gonna leave me here?
Kuzco: Well, I was gonna have you imprisoned for life, but I kinda like this better.
Pacha: I thought you were a changed man.
Kuzco: Come on, I had to say something to get you to take me back to the city.
Pacha: So all of it was a lie?
Kuzco: Well yeah. No, wait... Oh, yeah, it all was a lie. Toodles!
|~ Kuzco leaving Pacha to die.|
|“|| Kuzco: When will you learn that all my ideas are good ones?|
Pacha: Well, that's funny. Because I thought that you going into the jungle by yourself, being chased by jaguars, lying to me to take you back to the palace were all really bad ideas!
Kuzco: Oh, yeah. Anything sounds bad when you say it with that attitude.
|~ Kuzco and Pacha talking.|
- Kuzco's name is derived from Cuzco, the name of a city in Southeastern Peru that was the capital of the Inca Empire.
- Kuzco is afraid of frogs. It is revealed that he has ranidaphobia.
- There was a deleted scene where several of Kuzco's guards practiced the destruction of Pacha's village on a model town, but it was cut for being too dark and would have potentially pushed Kuzco past the point of redemption in audiences' minds.
- In the original script Kingdom of the Sun, Kuzco's name was Manco, and he never spoke in his llama form.