|"Your heart is cold and ruthless. It warms my own."
— "Counting Controversy!"
Master Shen is the Crane Hermit (鶴仙人, Tsurusen'nin), master of the Crane School and Mercenary Tao's older brother. Whilst they both trained at the Mutaito Training Academy, a rivalry quickly grew between Shen and Master Roshi. Master Shen and Mercenary Tao, likewise, began to fight over the smallest things. Eventually, a simple spilled bowl of rice was enough to break the brothers apart.
Just like his younger brother, Shen is extremely sadistic and unforgiving in nature, having no moral qualms about murdering anyone who stands in his way, even his own former students. Also like his brother, Shen is extremely confident in his abilities and does not believe himself to be flawed in any manner. He also attempts to boast his superiority any chance he can; especially toward Roshi, claiming his students are far superior than Roshi's, simply because he taught them. It is implied that his negative personality traits stemmed from disillusionment with his master during the events of King Piccolo's first reign of terror.
Shen does have some redeeming features however; he wanted to avenge his brother, and Roshi stated that he had enough standards to not free King Piccolo, knowing full well just what he would do to the world.
Shen and Roshi were both students of Master Mutaito, and they quickly became rivals. Shen and Roshi later became friends and, for a time, the creature known as InoShikaCho was their pet. Master Roshi states that when King Piccolo defeated Mutaito, he could not deal with the shame of losing in front of his pupils. Roshi believes that on that day, Shen changed for the worse. Mutaito returned and sealed King Piccolo with the Evil Containment Wave, but died in the process. Shen was never the same again. His heart became dark, and his Master's failure and eventual death weighed heavily on his mind. He eventually started the Crane School, whilst Roshi started the Turtle School, and their rivalry continued.
Fortuneteller Baba Saga
Crane Hermit is mentioned in the episode, "The Last Dragon Ball", and later appears in an old photograph of Master Roshi and himself. Later in the last episode of the saga, "Which Way to Papaya Island?", he appears with his two students.
Tien Shinhan Saga
Master Shen's students Tien Shinhan and Chiaotzu enter The World Tournament while Master Shen watches. Rival Master Roshi, disguised as Jackie Chun and his students Goku, Krillin and Yamcha also enter the tournament. All of them reach the final eight. Tien Shinhan fights Yamcha and defeats him in the first match. The second match has Jackie Chun fighting Man-Wolf, which he defeats easily. Chiaotzu fights Krillin, but loses, in the third match. Goku defeats Pamput in the last match. Tien fights Jackie Chun in the first semifinal, and during this match, Master Shen figures out who Jackie Chun really is and tells Tien by using telepathy. Tien tells Roshi he knows it is a disguise. Roshi starts lecturing Tien, which ultimately leads to Tien and Chiaotzu leaving Shen. Roshi forfeits the match, and Tien is ready for the final round. Goku and Krillin fight an intense fight next, but Goku is victorious.
During this tournament Master Shen finally hears what has happened to his brother Mercenary Tao. Only in the anime, Shen tries to kill Goku the night before the tournament, but he fails when Tien intervenes. Tien states that he will kill Goku during the final. After finding out that Shen ordered Chiaotzu to constantly paralyze Goku during the match, Tien has an argument with Shen and decides not to be an assassin anymore. This results in him no longer wanting to kill Goku. Furious after hearing this, Shen then angrily orders Chiaotzu to paralyze both Goku and Tien, in order for him to kill them both. As Chiaotzu refuses to paralyze either of them, Master Shen then grabs Chiaotzu and tries to kill him. Having seen enough, Roshi uses his Kamehameha Wave to blast Shen away, thus saving Chiaotzu. Tien wins the tournament, but Shen is not present at the time.
King Piccolo Saga
Crane Hermit appears at the start of the King Piccolo Saga in the episode, "Enter King Piccolo", in Master Roshi's flashback when he and Master Shen narrowly survive King Piccolo and his mutant spawn. During this time period he and Master Roshi were good friends until their master left them and Shen lost faith in him. In the flashback, he and Roshi are the only pupils of Mutaito shown to survive the battle with King Piccolo's Demon Clan.
Piccolo Jr. Saga
In the filler episode, "The Time Room", Goku goes back in time and meets a teenaged Master Roshi and Master Shen when they were students under Mutaito. During this time, Shen and Roshi are rivals and Shen is as ruthless as in the present timeline, striking Roshi's love interest Fanfan and taking her hostage when she refuses to go out with him. He later challenges Goku to a fight, but Goku quickly proves to be much stronger and faster than Shen. When he realizes he cannot defeat Goku, he attempts to kill both Goku and Roshi by trapping them in a deadly ring of fire, but is finally stopped by Goku and is thereafter scolded by Mutaito, who tells him that if he wants to stay in his school he will have to restart his training from the beginning.
In the present time, he appears three years after King Piccolo's defeat when he returns to the tournament with his rebuilt brother Cyborg Tao. Tao brutally defeats Chiaotzu during the preliminary rounds and easily qualifies for the final rounds. Before Tien's match with Tao begins, Shen claims that Tien will stand no chance against his brother's new and improved body, and that the Turtle School students should all give up before they get themselves killed. When the match finally begins, Shen eagerly watches. After a long match, Tien easily defeats Tao with one fell swoop, knocking Tao unconscious. Tien carries Tao over to Shen (who is in complete shock over his brother's defeat), telling Shen to never bother him or his friends ever again. Master Shen then carries away Tao and leaves in shame, swearing revenge on Tien, claiming he will not die peacefully.
At some point after the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament, Master Shen and his brother Tao got mixed up in something and died as a result of the event. Due to them both being bad people, they were likely not restored to life.
Shen appears as the main antagonist in the movie Dragon Ball: Mystical Adventure. He is part of a plan with his apprentice Tien and General Tao to take over the kingdom of Mifan, ruled by Emperor Chiaotzu. Near the end of the movie, Tien refuses Shen's order to kill Chiaotzu and Shen says Tien was always weak so he will kill Chiaotzu himself, however he is sent flying off Mifan Castle by Tien's Tri-Beam.
The Crane Hermit holds the position of Minister of Mifan in this movie.
Other Dragon Ball Stories
Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans
In Attack of the Saiyans, while the Z Fighters are training before the arrival of the Saiyans, Master Shen kidnaps Chiaotzu as part of a plot to get revenge on Tien (for humiliating him and his brother). He lures Tien and the other Z Fighters to his hideout within Mutaito's Training Grounds and unleashes his TPP - EX (short for Tao Pai Pai EX) robot to attack Tien and the Z Fighters. After the Z Fighters defeat his robot, Tien threatened to put an end to Shen if he ever threatens Tien or his friends again. Shen promptly flees.
Dragon Ball Online
In Dragon Ball Online, after Gohan's book talking about ki control makes the old ways of the Turtle and Crane schools popular, people want to train under Roshi or Shen. The two former masters have retired, so Krillin becomes the Turtle School master while Tien Shinhan becomes the Crane School master.
When fighting Jackie Chun, Tien said that he was even better than his master even though later on when the match ended, Tien said he hadn't even been using his full power in the fight.
Master Shen's power level during the Tien Shinhan Saga is 120 according to a 1989 issue of the Weekly Jump. The movie pamphlet for Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might states that he has a power level of 130.
- Levitate – A skill which allows its users to fly. He was the first Earthling on the planet known to use this technique.
- Ki Blast – The most basic form of energy wave. Used in Dragon Ball Heroes.
- Dodon Ray – A technique used by the Crane School members. It used by Master Shen in the movie Mystical Adventure and the video game Dragon Ball Heroes.
- High Speed Rush – Used in an attempt to attack Goku.
- Tri-Beam – Although never seen using this technique, he taught it to Tien. This life-risking energy technique releases a massive blast that greatly surpasses that of the Kamehameha, at the cost of the user's life force. Many great warriors died using it, or at best had their lifespan greatly reduced, and Roshi greatly resented that Shen taught it to Tien.
- Telepathy – Master Shen can speak with his targets mentally, as shown with his students and Roshi during the 22nd World Martial Arts Tournament.
Master Shen first appeared in a video game as a boss in Dragon Ball: Daimaō Fukkatsu. He also appears in Dragon Ball 3: Gokuden, Dragon Ball Z: Super Gokuden: Totsugeki-Hen, Dragon Ball Z: Super Gokuden: Kakusei-Hen, Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans, Dragon Ball Online, and Dragon Ball RPG: Shōnen-hen.
He is mentioned in a dialogue between Mercenary Tao (his brother) and Master Roshi (his former comrade and later rival) in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 and Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3.
Master Shen is a playable character in Dragon Ball Heroes.
- Japanese: Ichirō Nagai
- Harmony Gold dub: Robert Axelrod
- FUNimation dub: Chuck Huber
- Blue Water dub: Clark Robertson, Jonathan Love (teen)
- Latin American Spanish dub: Carlos Segundo
- Portuguese dub: António Semedo(†)
- Brazilian Portuguese dub: Hélio Vaccari
- The name "Master Shen" only exists in the FUNimation dub. In the original Japanese version, the name "Shen" refers to the human body Kami takes over for the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament (that character is called "Hero" in the FUNimation dub).