My fireworks are not flares. They burst with ferocious beauty and then disappear like the lightning.
― The Panda King onboard the Cooper Gang's boat[src]
The Panda King is a pyrotechnician that resides in the Kunlun Mountains. He was initially a member of the Fiendish Five, taking part in the murder of Conner Cooper and the theft of the Thievius Raccoonus, but was later defeated by Sly Cooper and arrested. At some point, following his imprisonment, his daughter, Jing King, was abducted by General Tsao. In return for the Cooper Gang helping him rescue his daughter, the Panda King joined them as their demolitions expert for the Cooper Vault heist.
He was voiced by the late Kevin Blackton.
Born into poverty, the Panda King was fascinated by the fireworks set off by rich noblemen every New Year. After spending a decade learning the art, he attempted to offer his fireworks to the noblemen. However, the noblemen could not see past his shabby clothes and low status, and therefore drove him away. Enraged and humiliated, the Panda King used the tools of his art for crime by destroying villages and homes throughout the country, becoming feared by the very people who cast him aside. Subsequently, he was recruited by the Fiendish Five as their demolitions expert.
The Panda King took part in the Fiendish Five's raid on the Cooper home. After acquiring the blueprints of Otto Van Cooper, he set up shop in the Kunlun Mountains of western China. He built a massive explosives factory, disguising it as a large temple-like facility. In order to finance his crimes, the Panda King would pressure local villages to pay him in return for avalanche protection. If they refused to pay, he would use his fireworks to bury the villages in snow.
Ten years after the attack on the Cooper home, the Panda King had developed a new fighting style known as Flame-Fu, which blended martial arts with fireworks. He perfected it just as Sly Cooper infiltrated his stronghold. The Panda King knew that Sly had come for revenge and to take back the Thievius Raccoonus, but questioned him as to why he cared about ending his avalanche protection scheme. The Panda King was enraged when, in response, Sly called him a "frustrated firework artist turned homicidal pyromaniac." He began to unleash his moves on Sly, promising to kill him with the majesty of Flame-Fu; however, he was no match for the Cooper and was defeated. Once Sly retrieved the Panda King's section of the Thievius Raccoonus and left, the Panda King was arrested by Inspector Carmelita Fox.
Joining the Cooper Gang
After serving his time in prison, the Panda King returned home. However, he still held a grudge against Sly for humiliating him. When his daughter was abducted by General Tsao, the Panda King was forced into exile. During this time, he became a monk and lived in seclusion.
When the Cooper Gang was in need of a demolitions expert for the Cooper Vault job, they sought out the Panda King to recruit him. Both Sly and the Panda King were against this: Sly because the Panda King had helped the Fiendish Five kill his father, and the Panda King because Sly had humiliated him. However, the Panda King had taken a liking to the Guru, and he decided to make a deal with the Gang: they would help him rescue his daughter and in return he would join them for the Cooper Vault heist.
After he had formed an alliance with the Cooper Gang, the Panda King helped Murray recover the Cooper Van by providing cover fire as Murray pulled the van towards the safe house. It was this incident that strengthened the Panda King's resolve to save Jing King, as Murray's love for his van reminded the Panda King of his daughter and him. The Panda King's first job with the Cooper Gang involved helping Sly defeat Tsao's army of hopping vampires. At this time, he came into conflict with his criminal side, a yin-yang split personality that took the part of yin ("dark"). He reconciled with his other half to save his daughter, despite the other's wishes to kill Sly, by convincing his other side that they could learn humility from Sly (who was willing to work the Panda King despite his role in killing his parents). Once Jing King was rescued, the Panda King left her with her aunt while he paid off his debt to Sly and the rest of the gang. He would subsequently help them battle the sea monster Crusher, and utilize his fireworks on Kaine Island to help Sly, Bentley and Murray access the Cooper Vault.
After the Cooper Vault heist and disbandment of the Cooper Gang, the Panda King returned home, retired, and moved in two doors down from his daughter. Fearing another General Tsao incident, she allowed him to screen all her suitors, and as of then was still unmarried, since even the bravest of suitors were scared off by the stony, short-tempered Panda King.
The Panda King was a large, male giant panda who casually wore flame-striped red pants and a blue sash around his waist. While living as a monk, he wore a white gown and grew out his beard and eyebrows. After joining the Gang he wore his regular clothing with fireworks around his torso and back. After returning to China, he also wears an Asian conical hat along with his regular clothing.
In his youth, the Panda King was amazed by the fireworks that were set off at every New Year, inspiring him to make his own, and dedicated himself to learn the art for a decade. Despite his evident talent, the arrogance of noblemen blinded them to this, and rejected his display, due to his humbled origins, and chased him away. This greatly embittered the Panda King, who spent 10 years of his life working hard to impress them, to the point that he retaliated by destroying the noblemen's home as vengeance. This anger drove him to walk down a dark path, and lead him to a life of crime. Despite this, he was still capable of love and affection due to having fathered a daughter, whom he cared for dearly, during his tenure as a criminal.
The Panda King was very calm, but possessed a short temper. He also takes great pride in his fireworks. When Sly and Panda King must blow up the hopping vampire crypt, Sly shows great enthusiasm for the idea, exclaiming loudly "there's gonna be fangs everywhere!" Judging by Sly's tone, it's implied in this moment that he has begun to open up to the Panda King and show concern for him as if he were a friend despite his role in his parents' death. This endearing quality is the main thing which converts the Panda King over to the Cooper Gang's side, as he states to his evil half that if Sly is willing to put faith in him and forgive him despite his role in killing his parents, then he himself has no business carrying his vendetta over something as trivial as humiliation. He instead turns his anger on Tsao.
However, Panda King is still the most asocial of the Cooper Gang. He did not join the gang when Dimitri's scuba gear was unearthed, though this could be explained as him guarding the gang's ship. He also seems to have the least amount of approval for Dimitri. Of the members of the gang, he gets along best with Murray and Guru. Murray's dedication to his van inspired the Panda King to come to his aid, while the Guru seems to have a spiritual connection to him. The Panda King soon begins to accept Sly after various missions of working together, and so does Sly. His connection with Bentley is unknown although he has never shown him any sign of disrespect, probably due to the fact it was Bentley's genius planning that rescued his daughter and he has never argued with Bentley's planning. He never really socialized with Penelope although he used one of his fireworks for her to get her RC car onto the drone pipes on Kaine Island.
As a pyrotechnician and demolitions expert, the Panda King was skilled in the effective handling and use of explosives. He used his expertise to develop an original fighting style called Flame-Fu, which he demonstrated during his battle with Sly. While working with the Cooper Gang, he primarily used a fireworks launcher on his back as a weapon, wherein he was capable of engaging roughly half a dozen targets simultaneously. His melee attack was essentially a horizontal karate chop, enhanced by having his hand wreathed in fire. Although preferring to use his fireworks, the Panda King was also very strong, as stated by Bentley. After becoming a monk, he became capable of placing himself in a deep meditative hibernation, apparently not needing food, drink, or sleep (despite physically aging).
When the Panda King needed to be awakened from his meditation, the Guru made it possible for Sly to enter his mind. After waking up, the Panda King immediately took a liking to the Guru, likely because of their shared interest in spirituality. This allowed the Guru to successfully play mediator between the Panda King and the Cooper Gang when they struck a deal to help each other.
As a member of the Fiendish Five, the Panda King was responsible for the death of Sly's parents and the theft of the Thievius Raccoonus. This immediately made the Panda King one of Sly's most hated enemies. After Sly defeated him, the Panda King started to hate Sly for humiliating him. After his daughter's kidnapping humbled him, the Panda King started to actively work on his humility, leading to a split personality; his other side was full of rage and hatred for Sly, and it threatened to completely take over his mind. While meditating, the dark side fixated his mind on his loss to Sly. After being awakened from his mediatation, the tension between the Panda King and Sly was initially strong, in spite of them becoming situational allies.
Still, the Panda King worked to quell his hatred of Sly. After seeing Sly was willing enough to work with him and rescue his daughter from General Tsao, Panda King confronted his darker side and eventually convinced it to cooperate with him and learn humility from Sly. This ultimately led to the tension between him and Sly lifting, allowing them to trust each other. This came in handy when they needed to rely on each other to defeat Crusher.
- The Panda King is the only member of the Fiendish Five that spoke to his guards with respect at all times. He even calls them "valued employees."
- The Panda King appears on a billboard in the job "At the Dog Track." There are also several portraits of the Panda King on display in the Museum of Natural History in Cairo.
- The Panda King's binocucom is red and shaped like a samurai helmet. When zoomed in, it resembles the scope of a sniper rifle.
- The Panda King's signature color is red. Like Sly, it is based off his attire, not his skin.
- In inFAMOUS, another game developed by Sucker Punch Productions, there are some Chinese takeout boxes with pictures of the Panda King on them. In inFAMOUS: Second Son there is a gas station called "Panda King Gas."
- In the beginning of "Goodbye My Sweet," a box full of fireworks with a bear paw on it can be seen on a shelf in the hideout. This likely belonged to the Panda King.
- The Panda King is minorly referenced in Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, as some of El Jefe's fire attacks mimic some of his Flame-Fu moves.
- Fireballs, for example, is used similarly by both of them, but although the Panda King uses complete fireballs, El Jefe uses volcanic bombs.
- Some of El Jefe's fire attacks involve creating a pulse wave made out of fire, similar to the pulse wave created by the Panda King's Fiery Wheel.
- Panda King is thus one of four villains to appear or be referenced in every game of the series, along with Raleigh, Muggshot, and Clockwerk. Panda King alone was a boss in Sly 1, a cameo picture in Sly 2, both a boss again and a hero in Sly 3, and referenced with another boss's attacks in Thieves in Time.
- The Panda King is the only member of the Cooper Gang who is known to be a parent.
- In the Japanese PS2 version of the first game, the Panda King was voiced by Chaafurin. In the Sly Collection, he is voiced instead by Jūrōta Kosugi.
- In the Japanese version of the first game, the Panda King names two of his terms differently: Flame-Fu is called "Fire Kung Fu"; his double palm slam was called "Burning Palm" in the PS2 version, while in the HD remake it is called the "Thunder Punch."
- He is one of three characters to include his species in his name, along with Jean Bison and Carmelita Fox.
- Panda King is the first villain to appear on a title screen for an episode. Followed by him, the others are Clockwerk, Rajan, and Jean Bison.
- He and Clockwerk are the only ones to appear on a title screen more than once.
- He is one of three heroic characters in Sly 3 to have a somewhat antagonistic role by one point in the game, along with Carmelita and Penelope.
- Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus
- Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves