Pac-Man is the protagonist fictional character of the franchise of the same name by Namco, who was first introduced in the arcade game Pac-Man in 1980. Ever since, the character has appeared in more than 30 officially licensed game spin-offs, as well as in numerous unauthorized clones and bootlegs, spawned a variety of Pac-Man merchandise with his image, as well as a television series. Pac-Man became a worldwide social phenomenon and Namco's mascot.
Pac-Man's origins are debated. According to the character's creator Tōru Iwatani, the inspiration was pizza without a slice, which gave him a vision of "an animated pizza, racing through a maze and eating things with its absent-slice mouth". However, he admittedly said in a 1986 interview that the design of the character also came from simplifying and rounding out the Japanese character for a mouth, kuchi. The character's name was originally Puck-Man, This name comes from the Japanese folklore character Paku who was known for his appetite as well as by the Japanese onomatopoeic slang phrase paku-paku taberu, meaning to open and close ones mouth. When Namco licenced the game to be released in the United States, they changed the game and character's name to "Pac-Man" after fearing that vandals would change the P in Puck to an F.
The arcade art on the original Puck-Man portrayed the character as a yellow circle with a large mouth as well as hands, feet, eyes and a long nose. In-game Pac-Man was represented as a two-dimensional sprite of a simple yellow circle with a mouth. 1984's Pac-Land was the first game (of many) to use his arcade art in-game. More recently Pac-Man appears as a full three-dimensional polygonal model. His design went through two minor changes from the Puck-Man cabinet art over the years, the first made his nose smaller in the 1990s and the second altered his eyes and shoes in 2010.
Pac-Man is often portrayed as a family man, as a result of the multiple spin-offs of his games which star family members. He is often seen married to Ms. Pac-Man, and the father to either one or two children. In many incarnations he also has a pet dog, named Chomp-Chomp in his most famous depiction in the cartoon and Pac-Land. They are often seen living inside of a house shaped like Pac-Man's face with windows for eyes and a door in place of his mouth. In the cartoon series, this house was painted white, while often in the games it is painted yellow. Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, the new 2013 cartoon, portrays Pac-Man as being a high schooler who goes to school with friends Cylindria and Spiral.
In the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series, he nicknames Ms. Pac-Man "Pepper," Baby Pac-Man is a boy (in the games, she is a girl with a bow like her mother's) and he also had a pet cat named Sourpuss. The second season of the cartoon introduced Pac-Man Jr. as a greaser who was actually Pac-Man's nephew, and Super Pac-Man who was not Pac-Man himself, but a separate character who came into scenes after unzipping a zipper in the middle of the open sky. Pac-Land marks the first official use of Ms. Pac-Man and Pac-Baby in a Namco title.
Pac-Man himself is often characterized as happy-go-lucky and fun loving, often with a voracious appetite, who enjoys adventure but often prefers a quiet family life. His first platforming title, Pac-Land, illustrating him taking frequent breaks between levels at signs that said "Break Time" while ending three-level arcs by returning to his home, leading to cutscenes where he is seen sitting with his family at dinner and sleeping in his bed. Pac-Man 2 begins with Pac-Man doing chores for his family, with various elements of the game causing him to abruptly change his mood from happy, to sad, to angry, to silly, and even flaky. It culminates with the Ghost Witch's plot to create a monster made of chewed bubble-gum sparking a sense of heroism in Pac-Man causing him to seek out the witch and put a stop to her plot. The Pac-Man World series portrays Pac-Man as being generally happy, though slightly sarcastic, protecting his family, and ultimately his whole world from an evil-doing ghost named Orson and his plans to take-over Pac-Land from the spectral zone, where the Ghosts from his games are said to come from.
Pac-Man's job varies from game-to-game. In the Hanna-Barbera animated series he is said to be the protector of the Power Pellet Forest, which the main villain Mezmaron hopes to infiltrate and steal power pellets for energy to use in his evil schemes. In the games, he is often portrayed as not having a job, but is recognised throughout Pac-Land as a hero who constantly rids them from the threat of ghosts. Pac-Man World indicates that he has a job, since he is seen walking home from work with a lunchbox in hand, but it is never specified exactly what his job is. Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures portrays Pac-Man as a student.
Pac-Man has had a variety of arch enemies through the years. The mysterious Mezmaron, the villain of the Hanna-Barbera series, used the five main "ghost-monsters" (as they were called in the TV series) from the game — Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Clyde and Sue — as henchmen in his plot to steal the power pellets from the Power Pellet forest. His second nemesis, the Ghost Witch, appeared in Pac-Man 2 and Pac-In-Time, also using the main five ghosts from the games as henchmen. In the first game, she attempted to take over Pac-Man's city by creating a monster out of pre-chewed gum. In the second, she attempted to rid herself of Pac-Man by banishing him to a time warp. The Pac-Man World games' main villain was Orson, an ordinary ghost who was also an inventive genius. Orson was the villain in the first title, but assisted Pac-Man in the third game against a greater threat to the both of them, Erwin. Spooky, a ghost once vanished by Pac-a-Lot, that was freed (albeit unintentionally) by Blinky, Inky, Pinky and Clyde. In Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, the villain is Betrayus, the dead brother of President Spheros.
Pac-Man's relationship to the original four ghosts who appeared in his game is usually one of friendly antagonism. In virtually every game and cartoon Pac-Man sees the ghosts as a nuisance rather than a threat, and often has a power pellet handy to dispatch their bullying attempts in an instant. The ghosts in turn are often portrayed as being crude, boorish, and bullying but ultimately bumbling and useless in their attempts to get the better of Pac-Man. What happens to Pac-Man when he is caught by the ghosts varies. The cartoon made the claim that if the ghosts "chomped" Pac-Man it would leave him temporarily without a skeleton, but seeing that as being too graphic for children, later seasons only made Pac-Man temporarily weak after being chomped. Pac-Man 2 indicated that the Ghosts were actually adept at scaring Pac-Man, often by making funny faces, and Pac-Man was powerless against them unless he had a Power Pellet. Pac-Man World simply indicates that when Pac-Man touches a ghost, it is similar to them coming to blows with one another. The 2011 cartoon pilot suggests that Pac-Man could actually eat the ghosts without the aid of a power-pellet, but if he does the ghost turns into tasteless goo in Pac-Man's mouth which he would prefer not to eat.