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Dorfl is a member of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, and a golem, the first of his kind to serve in the Watch. Originally created, like all golems, as a silent, obedient worker, Dorfl played a key role in the golems' attempt to 'free' themselves by creating a king golem. Dorfl was a suspect in the murder of Father Tubelcek; it later transpired that Dorfl found the man dying and, attempting to save him but not understanding how people worked, put holy words in the priest's mouth. Dorfl was severely damaged in the fight with the golem king, but rebuilt by Igneous the troll and given a voice. He helped Sam Vimes apprehend the poisoners of the Patrician and then joined the Watch.

Dorfl never sleeps, and being made of clay he is handily fireproof. This is useful for putting out blazes (Jingo) or merely for surviving divine bolts of lightning. Dorfl is the Disc's first ceramic atheist, and claims he will believe in any god whose existence can be logically proven. This is to the displeasure of at least one god, whose thunderbolt Dorfl calls 'not much of an argument'. This position has gained him a somewhat unlikely friendship with Omnian fanatic Constable Visit.

Dorfl is presumably the founder of the Golem Trust, and spends his pay buying and freeing other golems. Like all golems, he Speaks With The First Letter Of Every Word Capitalised. Some of his lines take a considerable amount of inspiration from RoboCop, such as his description of his own duties: "To Serve The Public Trust, Protect The Innocent And Seriously Prod Buttock". Similarly when he arrests a vampire, he says "Undead Or Alive, You Are Coming With Me", which is a reference to Robocop's line "Dead or alive, you are coming with me."

Pratchett's golems draw heavily on the golems of the Talmud in Jewish mythology. The older ones have Hebrew names and Dorfl is no exception. His name means idiot, bumpkin, or holy innocent in Yiddish.