Fans of Dragon Ball Z loved the show for all the awesome fights and explosive action, but the franchise didn't start out with a focus on martial arts. No, the original Dragon Ball was originally influenced by Journey to the West, focusing on a young Goku as he and Bulma searched for the Dragon Balls. With these magical orbs, they could summon a Dragon to grant their wish. This is obviously where the name of the series came from and the Dragon Balls, Dragons and the wishes they grant continued to be a big part of the franchise.
But, how much do fans actually know about the Dragons of the series? Despite being a main part of the franchise, they are somewhat pushed into the background of most sagas, often only present to revive all the innocent people who died at the hands of a villain. Otherwise, as the series started to focus more on martial arts and battles, Shenron, as well as the other dragons, became less and less important, which is why we're going to share a bit of trivia about these wish-granting deities with you!
15 THE ORIGINS OF THE DRAGONS AND DRAGON BALLS
Let's start with some history about the Dragons themselves. The very first Dragon was Super Shenron, an all-powerful wish-granting deity that can only be summoned with the Super Dragon Balls. These Super Dragon Balls as well as Super Shenron were created by the Dragon God Zalama. There isn't much known about Zalama, other than his power and his creation of the Super Dragon Balls.
Zalama created the Super Dragon Balls to be the size of planets and created Super Shenron to be able to grant any wish, meaning his power is vast and possibly has no limits, much like his creation. Zalama also designed the Super Dragon Balls to scatter between two different universes, Universe 6 and Universe 7, though the reason why is unknown.
14 THE NAMEKIAN DRAGON BALLS
Super Shenron was the first Dragon in all of existence, and Zalama only created one set of Dragon Balls, so where did the others come from? Well, it starts with the Namekians, who copied the Dragon Balls to create their own wish-granting deity. At some point in Namekian history, one of the Super Dragon Balls was near their planet and, in order to copy their power, they shaved off pieces of the planet-sized orbs to form their own Dragon Balls.
After doing this, the Grand Elder Guru used his magic to create Porunga and seal/connect his power to the Namekian Dragon Balls. He also modeled Porunga after Namekians, giving him the traits of both mythological dragons and of the slug-like alien race. However, since they were not made by a god, the Namekian Dragon Balls, and thus Porunga, did not quite have as much power.
13 KAMI'S DRAGON BALLS
The final set of Dragon Balls created (that we know of) were Earth's, which summon Shenron, the first Dragon introduced in the franchise. Yes, funnily enough, the order in which the Dragons were created was the reverse of the order that they were introduced. So, who created the Earth's Dragon Balls? That would be none other than its guardian, Kami.
After the Nameless Namekian travelled to Earth, he eventually studied under and succeeded the planet's guardian, doing so by splitting himself in two, forming Kami and King Piccolo. Kami decided to create Dragon Balls, like those on his home planet, using his magical abilities, creating Shenron in the process. However, it is never revealed how Kami did this, wether it be through magical creation alone or by using leftover Super Dragon Ball shavings.
12 SUMMONING RITUALS
No two Dragons or their Dragon Ball are exactly the same. Not only do they look different from each other, each set of Dragon Balls also has a different summoning ritual to bring forth the Dragon within them. For Shenron, whoever gathers the Earth Dragon Balls must place them together and simply say "Arise Shenron!" (or some variation, it changes throughout certain dubs).
For Porunga however, things are a bit different. He also has a summoning phrase, but it must be said in the Namekian language, the same goes for his wishes, both of which are precautions to prevent outsiders from making wishes. Super Shenron also requires another language to be summoned, the language of the gods, which must be used when saying his summoning phrase, "Come forth, Dragon of the Gods, and grant my wish pretty peas!"
11 LIFE TIES
The Dragons of Dragon Ball have quite a few things in common. As we all know, they grant wishes, the all come from magical orbs and they were all created by someone. That last fact is one of the more interesting tidbits about the Dragons, since it connects to another interesting fact, their lifeline. Each Dragon's life, as well as the power of the Dragon Balls that summon them, is tied to the person that created them.
This is to say that when the creator of a set of Dragon Balls dies, so too, does the Dragon. There are ways to work around this, however, since, the "creatorship" can be transferred to a new person so long as they have the necessary knowledge and magical power. We saw this when Dende took over for Kami as Earth's guardian and revived Shenron.
10 "ETERNAL" DRAGON SHENRON
As we just mentioned, the Dragons' lives are tied to their creators' which is what makes the following so much more interesting. Shenron is known as the "Eternal Dragon," which when you take things into consideration, is a pretty inaccurate title. First of all, Shenron has been killed before, which means he is not immortal. But "Immortal" might just mean that he cannot die of old age.
However, this is also sort of inaccurate, since, when Grand Elder Guru died of old age, so too, did Porunga, and if Shenron works the same way, then he could have died if Kami eventually died from old age. If anything, Shenron's "Eternal" title might just refer to the fact that he doesn't visibly age, or maybe it's just a formality.
9 POWER LIMITS
Like their life lines, the power of a Dragon is also tied to the power of whomever created their Dragon Balls. This is to say that the Dragon is only as powerful as their creator, which is why there are certain limitations to the wishes they can grant, at least for Shenron and Porunga. Shenron was created by Kami, so he could not kill an enemy stronger than Kami, the same goes for Porunga, who was created by the magically powerful Grand Elder Guru.
As for Super Shenron, he has no limits, save for the fact that he can only grant a single wish at a time. The reason for this is that the Super Dragon Balls and Super Shenron were created by a god, who, though we have never seen him in the series, we know has near unlimited power. Thus, Super Shenron can grant any with without any rules.
8 RULES AND REGULATIONS
In relation to the limitations of the Dragons' power, there are also some rules and regulations that go with each set of Dragon Balls. For one thing, each set has the same basic rule, that all the balls need to be gathered in order to make a wish. Furthermore, every Dragon can only be summoned once a year, though that "year" is different depending on the planet, as the Namekian year is shorter than Earth's.
Originally, Shenron could only grant one wish and could not grant a wish that had been granted before. This was, however, changed to be three wishes unless one of the wishes required more energy. Porunga, on the other hand, was able to grant three wishes each time he was summoned, and though he originally could only revive one person at a time, his rules were eventually changed as well, making his power greater than Shenron's.
7 THE "REAL" SHENRON
"Shenron" is derived from "Shen-Long," a dragon from Chinese mythology that was known as the god/spirit dragon. Shen-Long was a blue dragon that was considered the master of storms and bringer of rain. If he was not well-taken care of, Shen-Long would bring powerful storms or drought to the people. This mythical dragon served as the basis for Shenron, both in name and design.
As you can see by the first image, the long body, the furry face, the mustache and horns of Shen-Long all look similar to Shenron. There is also blue dragon with an even more similar appearance to Shen-Long can be seen in some openings of Dragon Ball Z. Furthermore, there is one other fact about Shenron, as well as Porunga, that connects to Shen-Long...
6 AND THE SKY TURNED BLACK
That other connection between Shenron and Shen-Long is the "storms" they bring. Shen-Long brought storms whenever he was angered or offended, and Shenron sort of does the same, except only when he is summoned. Upon summoning the Eternal Dragon, the sky fills with dark storm clouds, much in the way that Shen-Long brings storms, which creates quite the spectacle when asking for a wish.
This effect also happens when Porunga is summoned, and with both Dragons, these storm clouds can vary from grey and lightning-filled, to pitch-black, which in turn makes the sky look completely black. This stormy effect occurs both around Shenron and Porunga as well as a wide radius surrounding the summoning area, which can be quite frightening, especially for those who have not seen it before.
5 ONLY THE Z-FIGHTERS KNOW ABOUT THEM
Though there are a few exceptions amongst characters that appeared in the original Dragon Ball, pretty much the only people that know about Dragons and the Dragon balls are the Z-fighters, their families and some of the villains they faced. In the larger scale of things, that's not really a lot of people, which is actually pretty strange and scary when you think about it.
For one thing, we just mentioned that Shenron and Porunga turn the sky black whenever they are summoned, an affect that can be seen for miles. Think about that, it must be super frightening for average civilians to see that happening without any clue as to why it looks like the world is ending every time the Z-fighters need a wish granted.
4 JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH
Where do the Dragons go when they are not granting wishes? Based one what it looks like when they are summoned, the most logical answer would be that their energy is stored in the Dragon Balls and they only exist when all the energy is brought together. However, the mythology and legends surrounding Earth's Dragon Balls actually have another explanation for where Shenron lives.
It is said that Shenron lives at the center of the Earth's core when he is not granting wishes, waiting and sleeping there until he is summoned by a portal created by the Dragon Balls. This sort of checks out since he often asks who has awoken him from his slumber when he is summoned, implying that he is hibernating while not granting wishes.
3 PORUNGA, CAR SALESMAN
Rememeber when Ford tried to relate to nerds and sell them cars? Yeah, that was kind of weird, though admittedly pretty funny. These ads consisted of overdubbing an anime, with the actual English voice actors, to make the scene about the Ford Focus. The two anime used were Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z, the latter of which used the Dragon Porunga for one of its ads.
The commercial used the scene in which Krillin and Gohan gathered the Namekian Dragon Balls and summoned Porunga to grant their wish. Instead of the actual wishes made, the ad had Krillin and Gohan wish for three different cars with three different features using all three of Porunga's wishes. Porunga in turn told them that they didn't need three wishes to get all those features and "maximized their wishes" by giving them the Ford Focus.
2 SHENRON AND BEERUS
Shenron is technically considered a deity in the world of Dragon Ball, and as such, he seems to be aware of the long and complicated hierarchy of the gods of the franchise. What's our proof of this? Well, it came in both Battle of Gods and Dragon Ball Super, when Beerus showed up and wanted to fight a Super Saiyan God. But, there was a problem, no one knew how to summon/create a Super Saiyan God, so they asked Shenron.
When Shenron was summoned to answer this question, he seemed nervous, the reason being that he noticed Lord Beerus was present. For the first time ever, we saw the great and powerful Dragon drop his usual intimidating aura as he began sweating nervously and speaking anxiously in fear of upsetting the destroyer god of the universe.
1 THE NON-CANON DRAGONS
Last, and somewhat least, let's talk about some of the Dragons within the Dragon Ball franchise that are no longer, or never were, considered part of the canon. First, there is the friendly, non-wish-granting wild Dragon that was sort of Gohan's pet, Icarus. Icarus was first introduced in The Tree of Might and was only seen in filler in Dragon Ball Z, making him non-canon.
The two other non-canon Dragons in the franchise both came from Dragon Ball GT, which has officially been booted from the timeline. The first is the Dragon introduced in GT's first episode, Ultimate Shenron, the Dragon of the Black Star Dragon Balls who could grant any wish at the cost of the planet he was summoned on. The other Dragons introduced were the Shadow Dragons, which were Dragons created by the dark energy of the Dragon Balls formed from the orbs being overused.