Kuzco is the young ruler of an unnamed Incan kingdom. He is known for being selfish and vain, and enjoys dancing to his own theme music every morning. Recently, Yzma, his royal adviser, has been ruling the kingdom behind his back. Kuzco decides to fire her for this, despite the many loyal years she's served. Soon enough, Kuzco summoned the village leader named Pacha, to discuss the building of Kuzcotopia, a summer getaway for himself. Kuzco reveals his plans to destroy Pacha's village to make way for his getaway. Meanwhile, Yzma and her lackey Kronk are in their secret lab, thinking of ways to murder Kuzco (after Kronk inadvertently gave her the idea).
She planned to invite him for dinner and poison his drink. That night at dinner, Kronk accidentally pours extract of llama in Kuzco's drink instead. Kuzco is turned into a llama and knocked unconscious by Kronk. Yzma then sends her minion to finish the job by throwing him over a waterfall. Kronk accidentally loses Kuzco, and the llama emperor ends up on Pacha's cart. When Kuzco awakens, Kuzco, upon realizing what happened, accused Pacha of turning him into a llama and then kidnapping him. He then (foolishly) travels through the jungle, despite Pacha's insistence that it's a very bad idea to do so at night. Ultimately, his advice proved to be sound due to nearly being killed by a group of jaguars, with Pacha saving him at the last minute (although they ended up falling into a river and then falling over a waterfall with sharp rocks at the bottom, Kuzco apparently being resigned to his fate, and undergoing an incident where he regained consciousness just as Pacha was about to undergo CPR, causing Kuzco to mistake Pacha for trying to kiss him in disgust). Pacha decides to help him get back to the palace, although only under the condition that he change his mind about Kuzcotopia.
After a while, Kuzco claims he has changed his mind, but the moment the palace is in plain sight, he tells Pacha the truth, revealing that he was going to proceed with Kuzcotopia. After their fight destroys the bridge to the palace, Kuzco and Pacha are forced to take a longer route. Meanwhile, Yzma announces Kuzco dead and takes over the kingdom. While wallowing in the lap of luxury, Kronk accidentally confesses about not killing Kuzco. The villains then go out on a hunt for him. At a local restaurant, Pacha learns about Yzma's plan and rushes to tell Kuzco.
The emperor denies Pacha's claims and makes way for Yzma and Kronk, only to overhear them discussing that they are seeking to kill him, and that the kingdom does not miss him. Kuzco realizes Pacha was right, but Pacha has left. With no hope of returning home, Kuzco accepts his fate and seeks out a herd of llamas. However, Pacha appears and forgives Kuzco. A race to the palace begins and ends at Yzma's lab. Kuzco desperately searches for the human potion but Yzma arrives and battles the heroes, also summoning her royal guard under the premise that they were responsible for killing Kuzco (despite the llama being Kuzco), transforming most of them into animals, and Kuzco undergoing further transformations while trying to get the potion (Tortoise, songbird, whale, and eventually Llama again, causing him to briefly celebrate becoming a llama again before remembering that the point was to become human again). During the fight, Yzma is transformed into a cat, and Kuzco retrieves the vial. Kuzco becomes human again, and sets out to redeem himself, building a small summer cabin on the hill next to Pacha's home, and become part of Pacha's family at the peasant's invitation. Meanwhile, outdoorsman Kronk becomes a scout leader, with kitten Yzma forced to be a member of the troop.
(previously): Extremely selfish, snobby, uncaring, lazy, Comically conceited, ignorant, whiny, greedy, narcissistic, sarcastic, cowardly, stubborn (later): Mostly nice, loyal, good-natured, still ignorant, fun-loving, polite, hilarious, well-meaning, funny, caring, still comically conceited
- He is the first main protagonist to be a narrator.
- He is also the only Disney Character to break the fourth wall.
- He is the fourth protagonist to be raised by a villain, the first being Snow White, the second Cinderella, the third Quasimodo, the fifth Rapunzel.
- He has old similarities to his ruler King Beast