WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 128 of Dragon Ball Super, "To the Noble, Proud End! Vegeta Falls!" which debuted Saturday on Adult Swim.
One of the best-known running rivalries in all of manga and anime is the one between Goku and Vegeta across Akira Toriyama's beloved Dragon Ball franchise. Vegeta, the noble prince of the doomed Saiyan race, was the first major antagonist of Dragon Ball Z, which pitted him against Goku for the fate of the universe. Bested by the Saiyan warrior from a significantly lower social class, Vegeta spent much of the long-running anime series vowing to surpass Goku's power levels and achieve his final revenge. After a notable rematch late in Dragon Ball Z, this rivalry turned into a begrudging respect, and even friendship, as the two men fought and trained alongside each other, rather than against one another.
That competitive dynamic between the longtime frenemies continued into Dragon Ball Super, with both Saiyans training under the divine martial artist Whis to attain god-like combat powers, initially unlocking the Super Saiyan God and Super Saiyan Blue transformations for both warriors. As the two friends represent their native Universe 7 in Super's final, epic storyline, the Tournament of Power, Vegeta's final stand against Universe 11's champion Jiren, cements his friendship with Goku while inspiring his one-time mortal enemy to rise up and fight like never before.
With Goku, Frieza and Android 17 apparently incapacitated, Vegeta is the sole fighter from Universe 7 left standing to face Jiren and ensure his reality's survival. It would also fulfill his earlier promise to restore the Dragon Ball Multiverse through the use of the Super Dragon Balls, the prize for the winner of the contest of champions. Having fought long and hard for the duration of the Tournament of Power, Vegeta is too exhausted to muster enough strength even to transform into a regular Super Saiyan, and is pummeled mercilessly by Jiren, who ponders why such a weakened warrior would persist.
Remembering his wife Bulma and children Trunks and Bulla, Vegeta continues on solo against the powerful Pride Trooper, powering up his signature attack the Final Flash, with Jiren bearing the full brunt of the energy blast. However, like many attacks and techniques before it, Jiren is visibly unfazed by Vegeta's assault and effortlessly kicks him out of the ring to eliminate him from the tournament. Fortunately for Universe 7, Vegeta's final seconds in the competition prove pivotal.
Moments before Vegeta is eliminated, the Saiyan Prince transfers all of his remaining energy to Goku, and not only revives his friend but grants him enough strength to transform back into a Super Saiyan Blue to continue the fight. Unimpressed by Goku's return, Jiren beats Goku so badly that he reverts to his base state, seemingly making Vegeta's final gesture meaningless. Now on the sidelines, Vegeta shouts at the disoriented Goku, reminding him of those he's fighting for, including his own family. That triggers Goku to again transform into the newfound Ultra Instinct state, and avoid elimination as the fight against Jiren rages on.
For much of Dragon Ball Z, it would have been unthinkable for Vegeta to donate his energy to his rival. While the two have formed a friendship, their ongoing competitiveness and pride would cause Vegeta hesitate to make such a move into Dragon Ball Super. However, with only two minutes remaining in the Tournament of Power, and the fate of their entire universe at stake, Vegeta's final gesture shows there is no remaining ill will between the two as Goku prepares for his epic rematch against Jiren for the fate of the Dragon Ball Multiverse.
Newly translated episodes of Dragon Ball Super air on Saturdays at 11 p.m. ET/PT on Adult Swim.