"The Dragon Balls were intended to be a thing of extraordinary magic and power, something to be revered, not for the ease of their method, but for the dream of never having to use them."
Dragon Balls are the namesake artifact of the Dragon Ball series. They are orange, crystalline spheres with the ability to call forth a colossal dragon which has the ability to grant wishes to anyone who gathers all seven of them.
The most notorius Dragon Ball is the Four-Star Dragon Ball, being the one Grandpa Gohan had and Goku kept, also being the one on Gohan's hat. The Namekian Dragon Ball Vegeta, and that was later stolen by Gohan, was also the Four-Star Dragon Ball. In Dragon Ball GT, the only good Shadow Dragon, Nuova Shenron, was the Four-Star Dragon Ball Dragon.
Dragon Balls come in sets of seven with each ball containing the number of stars that signifies its respective number in the set. Dragon Balls are difficult to find because they are scattered all over their respective planet (Earth and a few other planets which have their own set, although the Black-Star Dragon Balls scatter all across the galaxy), and are deactivated for a year after every wish, disguising themselves as stones. To have the opportunity to summon a Dragon, one must travel all over the globe to retrieve them. As technology progressed, this became somewhat easier, and became relatively simple with Bulma's invention of the Dragon Radar.
Restrictions on the Dragons powers are set by the relative capabilities of the Dragon Ball set's creator. A big problem throughout the series is that with any set of Dragon Balls is that their creator must be alive for them to function, otherwise they will be stones for eternity. This often results in the Z Fighters protecting their creator with their lives.
Since all seven Dragon Balls must be brought together (though it is unknown exactly what the maximum distance between the balls for them to be considered together is), it is often a sound strategy employed by the villains of the series to find one Dragon Ball and hold on to it, while the Z Fighters go through the trouble of finding the other six, after which the villain will step in and steal them. Since this strategy technically works, but is considered cheap, the Z-fighters do not usually employ it, as they prefer to fight fair.
Earth Dragon Balls
The Earth Dragon Balls are about 7.5 cm (approximately 3 in) in diameter, and they summon a dragon named Shenron. They were created by Kami, and later re-created by Dende. Shenron can grant a wish within its powers as long as it does not kill, create love, repeat a wish he previously granted, and a few more restrictions. Legitimate wishes include eternal youth, immortality, bringing back a scorched forest or even an annihilated planet. Also, it is possible to return a person to life, although only if they meet certain criteria, like dying of unnatural causes (like murder for example) or (if more than one person) within a year before, and each individual can only be brought back once. The Eternal Dragon will grant the first wish uttered after it was called, by whomever is present.
When Dende became the Earth's guardian he modified the burnt out Dragon Balls created by Kami (which transformed into seven ordinary stones when Kami fused with Piccolo), giving Shenron the power to grant three wishes or two wishes if one wish is used to revive a large amount of people. In addition to this, Dende's Shenron can grant one wish and then have the second wish saved for a later time. This was shown in the Buu Saga, when one wish was made to revive all those killed by Majin Vegeta, and then Goku asked Shenron to save the second wish. Therefore, only four or so months after Kid Buu's defeat, another wish was made to erase the Earthling's memories of Buu. However, one obstacle that Dende put in place on the new set of balls is that, like the Namekian Dragon Balls, the summoner must utter a set of words. In Dragon Ball Z these words are "Eternal Dragon, by your name, I summon you forth: Shenron!" In Dragon Ball GT, right before the Shadow Dragon Saga, the words have changed to "Arise, Shenron!"
It is debated whether Dragon Balls can revive artificial life or not. The revival of Android 17 during the Cell Games Saga doesn't apply to this because he started out as a human and was made into an android by Dr. Gero. Android 16, who was killed by Cell, was not seen anymore in the series even after the wish was made to revive all of Cell's victims. Furthermore, when Kid Buu annihilated the planet Earth, and everyone (except the evil ones) were wished back, Android 8, who is a purely mechanical Android like 16, was seen giving Goku energy for his Spirit Bomb. But its possible that he was brought back due to the fact, they wished for the planet earth to be recreated (which includes all buildings and objects on the planet).
The Legend of the Dragon Balls
In Dragon Ball, episode "The Legend of a Dragon", Master Roshi gave an explanation on the "origin" of the Dragon Balls. However, this explanation is only present in the anime, and it is completely contradictory with the explanation given later in the series, about Kami being their creator. However, Roshi's tale is only something he had heard, so it was probably a legend with no real basis.
"The Legend, as I was told, goes something like this. In the beginning there was only one Dragon Ball. It was huge. I mean REALLY huge, it had to be. It held all of the mystical energies of the universe. An ancient tribe discovered it, and was inspired by it's magnificent power. They built a shrine around it, and protected the orb by placing it in the mouth of a giant Dragon statue, said to be it's eternal guardian. You should have seen the detail on this thing, it was INCREDIBLE, scales made of Ruby, teeth of pearl -speaking of pearl, they say there was this one native girl ("GET ON WITH IT!")- yes, well, the tribe enjoyed years of prosperity until one day, evil paid a visit to the village in the form of a band of thieves. These agents of Darkness stormed the temple in an attempt to steal the Dragon Ball for their own selfish gain. They were shocked to discover the true power of the Ball. To ensure such an attack never happened again, the Dragon Ball was divided into seven smaller orbs, and scattered across the globe. Separately, the Dragon Balls were useless, but when all seven were united, then a single voice could summon the Eternal Dragon for one wish, and one wish only. Some wishes were pure. but others were tainted by blind ambition. This led to pain and suffering as an unjust few wished for power and dominion over mankind. But as the story goes there will one day come a hero who will use the Dragon Balls for goodness, and bring peace and unity to the world once more."
Namekian Dragon BallsMain article: Namekian Dragon Ball
Unlike the Dragon Balls of Earth, the approximately basketball-sized Dragon Balls of planet Namek summon a different dragon, Porunga and can grant three wishes, due to their creation by Grand Elder Guru. Since the years on Namek are shorter (127 Earth days), they can also be used more frequently. However, Porunga is only capable of one individual's revival, whereas the Eternal Dragon of Earth can wish many, even an entire planet's population (if you can state your will in one wish). Additionally, the Namek Dragon Balls require the summoner to say a password before the dragon can be summoned, and the wish must be spoken in the Namekian language (the Z Fighters used Dende to translate their wishes).
Of course, one notable advantage that the Namekian dragon balls have over that of Earth is that they can revive a person as many times as wished to (something that even Dende's upgraded Shenron could not do). Sometime after settling on New Namek, the Namekian's decided to modify their existing Dragon Balls, giving Porunga the ability to bring back to life as many people as needed (this was done as a reaction to their experiences dealing with Frieza).
The Namekian Dragon Balls are a unique exception to the link between their creator and their existence, since Guru, at the end of the Frieza Saga was able to name Moori as the new Elder right before he died, after which the Dragon Balls' existence rested on the new Elder's fate. It is unknown if the Earth's Dragon Balls can be passed on in such a manner. In the Kid Buu Saga, Elder Moori revealed that he had restyled the Namekian Dragon Balls giving Porunga the ability to grant the wish of resurrecting an entire populace not just individually. It was also revealed that Porunga could in fact grant a wish that is not spoken in Namekian language as Dende asked for the wish of all those killed by Buu in normal language. However, this was likely due to the fact that Porunga did not understand the Namekian translation of the wish and thus asked for it in English.
Black Star Dragon BallsMain article: Black Star Dragon Ball
In Dragon Ball GT, the concept of "Black Star Dragon Balls" was introduced. This set of Dragon Balls was created by the Nameless Namek, before he had split into Kami and King Piccolo. Presumably because this Namek was not pure good and was much more powerful (since he had not dispelled his evil half) the Black Star Dragon Balls can summon a much more powerful Red Shenron, a mighty dragon that is not restricted as much as the normal Shenron (ex. Red Shenron can kill a person if wished to). To counter this powerful improvement, the Black Star Dragon Balls have two big downsides. First, when Red Shenron grants a wish the Black Star Dragon Balls scatter across the galaxy, rather than the Earth. Secondly, the planet upon which Red Shenron grants a wish will be destroyed in one year unless the Black Star Dragon Balls are returned to the aforesaid planet. Apart from this, unlike the Earth or Namekian Dragon Balls, the Black Star Dragon Balls never transform into stones and can be used as soon as they are retrieved after being scattered.
In Dragon Ball GT, Emperor Pilaf used them and turned Goku back into a kid. Pan, Goku and Trunks were eventually able to recover them. At the end of the Baby Saga, the Z Fighters decided that the Black Star Dragon Balls were far too dangerous to allow to exist, and Piccolo stayed on Earth as it exploded, killing himself, to ensure that they would never hurt anyone again.
Negative Energy and the Shadow DragonsMain article: Shadow Dragons
Another concept introduced was the existence of negative energy in Dragon Balls. According to the series, when ever a wish is made on the Dragon Balls, an equal amount of negative energy is created along side the beneficial, wish granting energy. To prevent this energy from causing problems, the Dragon Balls absorb this dark energy. The dark energy stored in the Dragon Balls disperse only after 100 years, and the Dragon Balls can only store a limited amount of it, the Dragon Balls scatter across the planet, giving them time to dispel the dark energy (since it should, in theory, take years for someone to find all the Dragon Balls and summon Shenron again especially since the average person knows next to nothing about them and only see a Dragon Ball as a pretty keepsake). Unfortunately, this counter measure was proved near useless when Bulma invented the Dragon Radar, allowing the Z Fighters to easily find the Dragon Balls and summon Shenron many times. Eventually (during Dragon Ball GT) all seven Dragon Balls were filled to full capacity, causing them to crack. When these damaged Dragon Balls were used to summon Shenron to restore the Earth after Goku's battle with Super Android #17, the Dragon Balls summoned years worth of dark energy instead, which manifested into an evil Black Smoke Shenron, who in turn swallowed the Dragon Balls and split into seven Shadow Dragons.
Despite the fact that the seven Shadow Dragons were all created by individual wishes, not every wish made, even in the Manga canon, spawned a Shadow Dragon. For example, none of the wishes made after the Cell Games to revive Cell's victims and remove the bombs from the Androids spawned a Shadow Dragon. It is unknown what became of the negative energy of those wishes.
- Oolong wishes for a pair of panties. (Spawned Oceanus Shenron)
- Goku wishes for Bora to be revived. (Spawned Haze Shenron)
- King Piccolo wishes for his youth to be restored. (Spawned Nuova Shenron)
- Reviving everyone killed by King Piccolo and his children.
- Dende, Gohan and Krillin wish for Piccolo's life to be restored. (Granted by Porunga)
- Dende, Gohan and Krillin wish for Piccolo to be transported to Planet Namek. (Granted by Porunga)
- Mr. Popo wishes for all those killed by Frieza and his henchmen in Namek brought back to life, but only most of the Namekians were brought back as another tribe was killed by Vegeta who did not count as one of Frieza's henchmen at that point. This has the distinction of being the only wish that Shenron was unsure he would be able to grant. (Granted by Shenron) (Spawned Syn Shenron)
- Dende wishes everyone on Namek to be transported to Earth except for Goku and Frieza. (Granted by Porunga)
- Krillin's soul to be moved to Earth, and then to be brought back to life (Porunga, two wishes)
- The Z-Fighters lives to be restored (Yamcha, Chiaotzu and Tien). (Granted by Porunga) (Three wishes all together, one for each life)
- All Namekians (except Piccolo and Kami) to be transported to New Namek. (Granted by Porunga)
- A wish to revive all people killed by Cell and the other androids. (Granted by Shenron from Dende's new Dragon Balls)
- Krillin wished for the self-destruct bombs in #17 and #18 to be removed. (Granted by Shenron)
- Bulma's wish that everyone who died since the morning of the World Martial Arts Tournament be brought back to life (Granted by Shenron) (Spawned Naturon Shenron)
Note: The second wish had been saved up, giving them six months untill they are able to make their second wish.
- A wish to restore the recently destroyed planet Earth (Granted by Porunga)
- A wish to revive all those killed since the morning of the world Martial Arts Tournament back to life except for those that are evil. (Granted by Porunga)
- A wish to restore Goku's strength (So he could completely fire the Spirit Bomb). (Granted by Porunga)
- For all memories of Majin Buu's havoc on Earth to be erased, except from the Z Fighters, and the other supporting characters. (Granted by Shenron) (Spawned Eis Shenron) (The second wish that was made is the wish saved up from the last summoning.)
- Pilaf's wish for Goku to be turned into a child. (Granted by Black Star Shenron)
- Baby-Vegeta's wish for a new Planet Plant to be created and located near Earth, complete with buildings and plants. (Granted by the Black Star Shenron)
- A wish to restore the Earth after being destroyed by the side effects of using the Black Star Dragon balls. (Granted by Porunga)
- A wish to revive all the people who were killed during the Super 17 and Shadow Dragon Sagas. (Granted by Shenron)
Note: The last wish in GT was not made from the gathering of the Dragon Balls but rather from Shenron appearing without being summoned and granting a special wish for Goku and the Z Fighters before parting the Earth at the end of DBGT.
Dragon Ball Movies
Dragon Ball Movie 1: Curse of the Blood Rubies
- Pansy's wish for the end of the rubies
Dragon Ball Movie 3: Mystical Adventure
- Goku wishes for Bora to be revived.
Dragon Ball Tenth Anniversary Special:
- Goku wishes for Shenron to rebuild Android 8 and remove the bomb inside him.
Dragon Ball Z Movie 1: Dead Zone
- Garlic Jr.'s wish for immortality.
Dragon Ball Z Movie 2: The World's Strongest
- Dr. Koichin wishes for Dr. Wheelo to be released from his icy prison.
Dragon Ball Z Movie 3: The Tree of Might
- Bulma, Gohan and Krillin wish to restore the forest.
Dragon Ball Z Movie 4: Lord Slug
- Lord Slug wishes for his youth to be restored.
Dragon Ball Z Movie 10: Broly - Second Coming
- Goten wishes that his father were there, and an image of Goku appears; though this creates an interesting plot hole. First, Shenron doesn't appear when Goten tries to summon him; second the sky isn't even dark when the wish is made. Also at this point, Dende had powered up Shenron to grant two wishes, though when the Dragon Balls read Goten thoughts about wishing Goku was there to help them, the Dragon balls still scatter at the end of the movie.
Note: Its possible that Shenron didn't appear due to the presence of the immensely powerful Broly, it is possible that Shenron may have sensed Broly's murderous intent and didn't appear as Broly would have probably destroyed Shenron if it had appeared (Broly would most likely have viewed the Dragon as an enemy). Shenron having been previously killed by King Piccolo, may not have been willing to risk destruction at the hands of Broly (who was far more powerful than King Piccolo). This might also partially explain why he refused to come out earlier in the movie with Goten's failed attempt at summoning him. Shenron probably granted Goten's wish from within the Dragon Balls. As to why there was no second wish, Shenron could have possibly been unable to grant a second wish due to the way in which Goten's wish was granted and/or he may not have had the energy for a second wish, due to possible temporary revival of Goku (who already been revived by the Dragon Balls once).
Dragon Ball Z Movie 12: Fusion Reborn
- Shenron appears, but no wish is made, leading to a somewhat comedic ending, with Shenron saying "Is somebody going to make a wish or what?"
Dragon Ball Z Movie 13: Wrath of the Dagon
- Hoi wishes to unlock a box he found. (Tapion was in it).
- As they say their goodbyes to Tapion, Goku and friends mention that they will summon the dragon again to wish all the people back to life who died during the battle against Hirudegarn. (This part of the conversation is only mentioned in the Japanese Version.)
Dragon Ball AF
- SVX's wish for the Mystic Cave to be opened.(Granted by Shenron)
Ultimate Cell Saga
- Cell's wish to be revived.(Granted by Shenron)
Evil Goku Saga
- Riku's wish to reverse Goku's corruption.(Granted by Porunga) (Spawned the Shadow Dragons).
Namekian Shadow Dragons Saga
- Goku Jr.'s wish to revive all those killed by the Shadow Dragons.
- Goku Jr.'s wish that New Namek was brought back to its original state.
- Xicor's wish to be sent back in time. (Granted by Porunga)
- Oreh's wish to revive his father. (Granted by Porunga)
- Oren's wish to be sent back in time. (Granted by Porunga)
- Goku's wish to revive the people killed by Xicor. (Granted by Shenron)
- Goku's wish for a time machine. (Granted by Shenron)
Dragon Ball AF Movies
- Goku Jr's wish to revive the people killed by Broly. (Granted by Shenron)
- In Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins they are referred to as Dragon Pearls and show an image of a different color shenron moving around in one instead of the glow they do in the original story. Jade uses them to wish for her land to be back to normal.
- In Dragonball Evolution, Goku wishes for Shenron to bring Master Roshi back to life.
- In the manga Dragon Boy, Dragon Balls are small balls that appear very similar to the balls in the Dragon Ball series. However, instead of granting wishes, they can be opened using ki energy to release a small baby dragon that does not grant wishes.
- In the video game series Worms there is an attack called "Dragon Ball", being very similar to the Kamehameha. However, said attack is likely based on the Hadouken/Fireball from the Street Fighter series, as there is another attack called 'Fire punch', which resembles the Shoryuken/Dragon Punch from the same series. Worms will occasionally shout 'Shoryuken' when performing the fire punch, as well as donning a red head band in the style of the main character Ryu when doing both attacks. One should also note: Fireball and Dragon Punch in the Street Fighter series, and Fire Punch and Dragon Ball in Worms.
- In the anime, Puni Puni Poemi, the main character makes an appearance with a collection of three Dragon Balls. manga
- The Dragon Balls are mentioned in the first chapter of the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga.
- In a non-anime show Duck Dodgers (Looney Tunes franchise series), Space Cadet told The Masked Xorro (a parody of Zorro) that the villagers returned to see reruns of Dragon Ball.
- In the first volume of the Dragon Ball manga, several characters who are unaware of the Dragon Balls often mistake them for glands of the Eternal Dragon itself, when first enlightened of them. For example, when Bulma reveals the legend for the first time in the series, Goku follows her remark that "They're called Dragon Balls" with "Y'mean... Some poor dragon...?" Later, Goku tells Oolong about the tale, to which Oolong comically replies "I didn't even know dragons had," before being stopped when Goku shows him one of the artifacts. This is likely to be a joke.
- Sometime after the Cell Saga, the Dragon Balls gain the ability to bring people back to life more than once. (More than likely, this was Dende's doing.) This would explain why Krillin claimed, before he sacrificed himself to Super Buu, that he could be brought back with the Dragon Balls. While it is possible that he was referring to the Namekian Dragon Balls, this is unlikely since none of the characters consider it until Dende suggests it after the Earth and the Dragon Balls have been destroyed. This would explain why Krillin and Android 17 were brought back to life during the Shadow Dragon Saga.
- Though the Dragon Balls usually scatter across the Earth after having been used, Goku stops this from happening once by jumping into the air and catching the four-star ball before it can fly away.
- Without a model of the dragon & a set of dragon balls (in its plain rock form), it would take about 100 days to create the Dragon Balls (as mentioned by Dende before he modified them).
- The Dragon Balls are unbreakable by any physical means (it was said by a Red Ribbon Army Officer that they are unbreakable, when he dropped a fake in "Pilaf and the Mystery Force" of Dragon Ball). Vegeta probably didn't knew this when he ordered Krillin to destroy one before the Ginyu Force took them in both the manga and the anime, but in the super buu saga when super saiyan 3 Gotenks was fighting buu, Piccolo said 'If you break even one of the balls they can never be used again' which may mean that they are not completely indestructable.
- The Dragon Balls are inactive if the model of the dragon breaks. If the dragon is destroyed, the model breaks. They are also inactive if their creator dies, such as in Future Trunks' alternate timeline, due to Future Piccolo's death.
- If the creator allows it, the Dragon Balls can be used even if a year has not passed. This happens only once in the series, when Kami allowed Goku and his friends to revive all people killed by King Piccolo, even though it had only been a few days since King Piccolo wished to restore his youth.
- Old Kai once warns the Z Fighters not to overuse the Dragon Balls. This is elaborated upon in the Dragon Ball GT Shadow Dragon Saga. Since the Dragon Balls are only supposed to be used once every 100 years.
- In the original, cut, censored English version of Dragon Ball Z, there are a few contradictions with Earth and Namek's Dragon Balls in "The return of Goku". Piccolo asks Gohan to wish him back after his death, despite he couldn't be revived if the Dragon Balls were scattered (and he shouldn't know about Namek's Dragon Balls yet). Later in the episode, Gohan states that "they have to wish Piccolo back with the Dragon Balls", another plot hole. Finally, when Bulma knows that the Dragon Balls are gone, she states that they're gonna need the Dragon Balls "from somewhere else" to wish their friends back (in the uncut version, she realizes that they're not gonna be able to bring them back to life) which also contradicts the fact that they didn't know anything about other Dragon Balls.
- Unlike other forms of fiction that involve wishes being granted, the Dragon Balls seem to grant a wish exactly as the wisher imagined it, rather than warping the wish so that it is technically granted, but ends up making the wisher's life even more difficult. For example, when King Piccolo wished for youth, he was not reduced to an infant, but rather, appeared in his prime. Also, when a victim is revived from the dead, they are not undead, but rather, are truly alive.