WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Episode 127 of Dragon Ball Super, "The Approaching Wall! A Hopeful Final Barrier!" which debuted Saturday on Adult Swim.
One of the most recurring tropes in the Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball franchise, to the point of parody at times, is the concept that the fighters throughout the iconic manga and anime franchise consciously hold back from using their full potential in combat. Instead. they steadily unveil additional levels of strength usually visually marked with increasingly more impressive physical transformations.
For the past several episodes of Dragon Ball Super, Jiren has similarly teased that he had only been using a fraction of his true power during the entire Tournament of Power, briefly unleashing its full force when angered by Goku after nearly being eliminated from the martial arts competition.
With Jiren as the only remaining fighter in the contest of champions opposing the main characters from Universe 7, the Universe 11 Pride Trooper appears nonplussed that he is outnumbered by Goku, Vegeta, Frieza and Android 17 in the final minutes of the tournament, despite the fate of his entire universe being at stake.
As the Z Fighters launch simultaneous attacks to the fully powered Jiren, the stoic warrior easily outmatches them all though Android 17 is successful in landing a blow visibly injuring his opponent and proving that, even at his most powerful state, Jiren is still not completely invulnerable. As the fight rages on, Belmod, the God of Destruction of Universe 11, finally provides the backstory of the sullen, silent champion.
Belmod explains that Jiren's parents, friends and, eventually his martial arts teacher were all killed by a powerful villain in Universe 11 while the fighter was just a boy. With his family and many of his friends dead, and his remaining surviving friends leaving him, the traumatized Jiren grew to deeply distrust personal relationships and cut himself off from others for the rest of his life. Instead, Jiren focused entirely on bettering himself physically and attaining new levels of combat strength, dismissing an offer to become Universe 11's next God of Destruction in favor of continuing to focus on his own advancement.
Hearing his opponent backstory for the first time, Android 17 deduces that Jiren is planning to use the Super Dragon Balls to resurrect his former martial arts teacher while all the other universes would be completely erased from existence by the Grand Zeno overseeing the tournament. The Super Dragon Balls are the most powerful artifacts in the Dragon Ball Multiverse, giving the one who gathers them one granted wish.
Vegeta had previously sworn to use the Super Dragon Balls to restore Universe 6 after befriending its Saiyan Prince Cabba while Frieza secretly plotted to use the Dragon Balls to further his own ambitious plans of conquest should he be the last fighter standing. Jiren's wish is much more straightforward, single-minded and, ultimately, one of the more selfish in comparison to Vegeta.
Jiren resumes his assault on the Z Fighters, firing a massive energy blast at Goku, Vegeta and Android 17, the cyborg puts up a force-field to withstand the brunt of the blast. While successful in saving his teammates from the attack, 17 appears to self-destruct from the sheer effort he puts into maintaining the barrier while Goku is still incapacitated from his recent bout against Jiren. Deeply exhausted himself, Vegeta manages to rise and declares he will be the one to defeat Jiren once and for all and use the Super Dragon Balls to restore the losing universes erased over the course of the tournament.
With only four episodes left in the entire series, the Tournament of Power that has made up the final storyline in Dragon Ball Super are well into its multi-episode climax. The remaining fighters from Universes 7 and 11 clash for the fate of their respective realities' existence and a chance to use the Super Dragon Balls to grant their greatest wish.
With Android 17's sacrifice, the Z Fighters have another chance to beat their formidable opponent but, with Jiren's true motivations finally revealed, the Universe 11 champion will not be going down easily or quietly.
Newly translated episodes of Dragon Ball Super air on Saturdays at 11 p.m. ET/PT on Adult Swim.