While one of their descendants, Tien, makes regular appearances in the Dragon Ball franchise, the actual pure Three-Eyed People never appear in the series. The Three-Eyed People are first mentioned in the Daizenshuu books, and later in the small description booklet in the boxes for Dragon Ball Z Season 1 and Dragon Ball Z Season 4 DVDs, both mentioning that Tien is a "Descendant of the Three-Eyed People". Tien's origin is also referenced in the Dragon Ball: Raging Blast what-if story "The Top Earthling Tournament" where, after defeating Tien for the title of "strongest earthling", Krillin asks if Tien is even from Earth. Tien's profile in Dragon Ball: Raging Blast 2 mentions the Triclops as being an alien race. Tien's voice actor Hirotaka Suzuoki also noted in an interview that Tien was not an Earthling.
It is noted by Akira Toriyama that beings with a third eye on their forehead like Tien are thought to be godlike and possess the power of true seeing. However, due to being raised by the evil Master Shen, Tien lost the ability to use the myriad powers of his third eye for good purposes.
Daizenshuu 4 mentions that Tien has a unique physical composition as a throwback to his ancestors. He uses techniques that are impossible for a regular Human-type Earthling, such as growing arms from his back or splitting into four people (in the anime however regular Earthlings like Krillin are also able to split into multiple people). He also possesses the ability to move each of his eyes independently, allowing him to look in multiple directions at once; this appears to enhance rather than compromise his vision like it would in real life, considering that he uses this talent while seeing through Master Roshi's and Goku's Afterimage Strike.
No members of the Three-Eyed People have ever been seen, though several hybrid Earthling descendants have been, the most notable being Tien Shinhan.
- In popular culture, the third eye is from becoming enlightened (like the Hindu god Shiva). In the video game Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II, it is stated that Tien's third eye was achieved through deep meditation when the player scans the friendly Tien NPC with the scouter.
- Tenshinhan being a descendant of the Three-Eyed People is a reference to the character Sharaku, who is also a descendant of an ancient race of three eyed humans in Osamu Tezuka's 1974 manga The Three-eyed One. The three eyed physical characteristic is also that of the character Erlang Shen from Journey to the West, which Akira Toriyama used as a prototype when he began creating the Dragon Ball manga series.
- Other three-eyed creatures in the Dragon Ball franchise include a female Zombie shown in an Other World café, and Ozotto the final boss of the arcade game Dragon Ball Z: V.R.V.S..
- In Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, if Jaco fights Tien, he will state "Earthlings are indeed a varied race. I didn't know there were speciemens with three eyes... How odd!", unaware that Tien is a descendant of the Three-Eyed People. Tien's retort to Jaco's comments about his odd number of eyes is, "Odd? Right back at you, spaceman."
- In Dragon Ball Fusions, there is an Earthling named Mabon who at first appears to be a descendant of the three-eyed clan as he seemingly possesses a third eye like Tien; However his in-game profile reveals that he drew a third eye on his forehead with a permanent marker as he looks up to Tien for his cool personality.