~ King Gristle Sr. planning for his son Prince Gristle to taste his first Troll to feel happiness.
Prince Gristle: What will make me happy now? King Gristle: Come here, son.... nothing. Absolutely nothing. You will never, never, never, never be happy.
~ King Gristle Sr. to Prince Gristle after the latter asks what will make him happy after the Trolls escaped.
King Gristle Sr. is a major antagonist of DreamWorks' thirty-third full-length animated feature film Trolls. He is the former King of the Bergens, who was Prince Gristle's father and Chef's former master.
King Gristle Sr. has dual responsibilities: leading the fickle, easily distracted Bergens and raising his only son Prince Gristle. He also enjoys eating Trolls as he believes that it's the only way to make everyone in Bergentown (including his son) happy, making him a threat to the Trolls. Despite this, Gristle Sr. genuinely loves his son and tends to be honest with him, saying that he felt nervous when eating his first Troll as a young Bergen and sadly telling that there's no other way to be happy due to the Trolls' escape.
King Gristle Sr. is an ugly dark green Bergen with some gray hair and red eyes with pink sclera. He wears a purple cape with fur on it, a burgundy jacket, burgundy trousers, yellow flip flops, and a gold crown on his head.
King Gristle Sr. is awoken on the day of Trollstice (the one day when Bergens can feel happy by eating a troll) by his toddler son Prince Gristle, who is getting excited for his first taste of a Troll. However, the Trolls (led by their own leader King Peppy) escape Bergentown through underground tunnels, much to the Bergens' shock. Angered by this, King Gristle Sr. blames Chef for letting the Trolls escape (as she was responsible for the preparation of the feast) and banishes her from Bergentown, prompting Chef to vow revenge on Bergentown for her humiliation. That night, Prince Gristle asks what will make him happy now that the Trolls have escaped. The King picks up his son and sadly tells that nothing else will make him feel happy.
20 years later, Prince Gristle is now King of the Bergens, hinting that his father either died, stepped down or was dethroned. He may have also gotten ill, meaning his son is king regent and would rule until his father gets better. However, it is most likely that he was dethroned by his subjects, according to the Trolls website.
Eventually, in the end, Gristle soon learned that eating the Trolls don't bring happiness, but that happiness was something that was needed to brought out on its own, as pointed out by his successful date with his scullery maid Bridget (secretly arranged by the Trolls themselves). Finally realizing that his father was wrong about gaining happiness, Gristle happily agrees to form a peace between the Bergens and Trolls, much to their delight.
King Gristle Sr. being awakened while screaming in pain after his son pulls on his chest hair.
King Gristle Sr. hoping to feed a Troll to his son Prince Gristle.
"She is hereby banished from Bergen Town forever"
King Gristle Sr. being asked by his son if there's any other way to be happy.
King Gristle Sr. sadly telling his son that there's no other way to be happy since the Trolls have escaped.
King Gristle is the second DreamWorks character to be played by John Cleese, the first being King Harold in the Shrek films.
It is not mentioned in the film what became of King Gristle Sr. after the 20-year time skip. However according to Prince Gristle's profile on the Trolls website, it says that the King was dethroned by his subjects after the Trolls escaped, before being replaced by his young son.
It is also assumed that Gristle Sr.'s unseen wife is dead, as if she was alive, she would have served as Queen Regent until Prince Gristle came of age.
It may be an exaggeration to call King Gristle Sr. a villain as he only wanted to make all of Bergentown (mostly his son) happy, but he still counts as a threat as he wanted to feed the Trolls to the Bergens (even admitting to Prince Gristle that he felt nervous when eating his first Troll as a child).
He was also arguably responsible for the events in the film.