While one of their descendants, Tien, makes regular appearances in the Dragon Ball franchise, the actual members of the Three-Eyed clan never appear in the series. The Three-Eyed clan is 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."
Daizenshuu 4 mentions that Tien has a unique physical composition as a throwback to his ancestors. He uses techniques that are impossible to think of being those of a regular Human, such as growing arms from his back or splitting into four people (the latter is more likely just a rare trait in Humans, as Krillin is also able to split into multiple people in Dragon Ball Z). 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. 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.
In popular culture, the third eye is from becoming enlightened (like the Hindu god Shiva). The fact that, despite being a descendant of the Three-Eyed clan, Tien was not born with his third eye is supported in the series in the video game Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II, which states that Tien's third eye was achieved through deep meditation when the player scans the friendly Tien NPC with the scouter.
- Tien Shinhan being a descendant of the Three-Eyed clan 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..