One of the main heroes of the animated film Rio, Rafael is a true romantic and was the life of party in his day. Once the king of carnivals, this toucan dad now has 17 kids and a wife who keeps him close to the nest. He would never leave such familial bliss except maybe to help some young birds who are in need... and the opportunity to samba at carnival one last time.
Rafael is first seen calling off his children from attacking Blu and Jewel. When the two blue macaws ask for his help in removing the chain around their legs, he offers to take them to see Luiz. Although Eva is against the idea, thinking he is sneaking off to Carnival, Rafael manages to sweet-talk her into letting him go, using memories of how they first met, and complimenting her singing voice.
After learning that Blu can't fly, Rafael attempts an impromptu lesson, telling him that flying is about "feeling the rhythm of your heart". After Blu fails, Rafael leads him and Jewel into town, where they meet Nico and Pedro, who take them to a bird's samba club while they wait for the next trolley to Luiz'.
At the club, Blu starts dancing. Rafael nudges him into dancing with Jewel, looking on proudly while they perform a beautiful duet. When the Marmosets attack, Rafael attempts to settle things peacefully, but when that fails, he joins in the fight, taking down several of them.
On the trolley to Luiz's, Rafael plays matchmaker again, giving Blu romantic advice to mood-setting music from Nico and Pedro. Unfortunately, Blu ends up choking (literally) when Rafael tells him to tell Jewel how he feels.
After Luiz frees Blu and Jewel, the two have an argument, and both Blu and Jewel leave angrily. Rafael goes after Blu, telling him that his decision to return to his family came from the heart, rather then his mind. They then learn that Nigel has captured Jewel, and mount a rescue. Rafael, Nico and Pedro find Jewel, but are captured along with Blu. After being loaded into the poachers' plane, Blu manages to escape his cage, freeing the others, who all fly out of the plane.
In the final scene, Rafael is seen back in his tree home, snuggling with his wife and children. In Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: Trouble in Rio de Janeiro, Rafael, along with Blu, Jewel, Pedro, and Nico would later turned into horses by Fernando (Jake T. Austin) to make Alvin, Simon, Theodore, Brittany, Jeanette, and Eleanor to hunt down Marcel, Armando, and Tipa in order to prevent them from escaping with the ransom French euros and the captive birds. When the spell breaks at dawn, he was eventually turned back to his normal form.