Gory, heartbreaking, and pointedly existential, Attack on Titan is a whirlwind for fans. We watch as cadet Eren Yeager and his friends seek to do the impossible by fighting massive humanoid creatures with an insatiable taste for human flesh.
Though their society is protected, humanity is far from safe. The Titans are about as horrific as monsters come, and throughout the show’s 3 seasons, viewers have experienced the crushing defeats and losses of humanity’s last hope. Here, we count down ten of the most shocking, vile, and heart-crushing losses so far in the Attack on Titan anime (spoilers ahead!).
10 Marlowe Freudenberg
While getting to know his fellow MPs, Marlowe realizes that corruption and greed are the only things driving his superior officers. He is so driven to make a difference that he becomes part of the Scout Regiment, a section of the military willing to brave the world outside the walls to learn more about the Titans.
Sadly, Marlowe does not last long in the Scouts. He is among those bludgeoned to death by the Beast Titan in the battle to retake Wall Maria. Watching Marlowe die in terror is a crushing dose of reality in the Titan universe.
We first meet Hannes before the fall of Shiganshina. He is one of the soldiers entrusted with guarding the outermost wall, and like his comrades, spends most of the day drinking and goofing off. Hannes is unafraid, believing that the walls can never fall to the Titans. He finds himself sorely mistaken when the Colossal Titan kicks a hole clean through the wall.
Years later, Hannes has transformed into a driven soldier and captain of the Scout Regiment. Shortly after, Hannes and the others spot the Titan that ate Carla advancing across a field. Hannes promises to right his prior mistake and takes on the Titan. Eren and Mikasa watch in horror as Hannes is eaten in a fashion eerily similar to Carla’s death.
8 Petra Ral
Petra was a member of the original Levi squad entrusted with protecting Eren after he discovers his power. Petra stands out as one of the first Scouts to connect with Eren. Petra is a talented fighter and excellent team player.
When she and her squadmates are killed by the Female Titan, Eren is truly blindsided. Their violent deaths are a wake-up call that even the best fighters cannot be prepared for everything the Titans throw at them. To make things even sadder, as the Scouts return from their mission, Petra’s father humbly approaches Captain Levi. He thanks him for believing in his daughter and express his pride in her but admits that he is concerned for her safety as a member of his squad. Mr. Ral does not yet know that Petra is already dead.
7 The Scout Regiment Recruits
Before the battle with the Beast Titan, The Scout Regiment experiences a surge of new recruits excited to take back wall Maria after the Scout’s recent victories. These eager young soldiers (including newly-transferred Marlowe) have mostly come from sheltered homes. Some have not even seen a real Titan before joining the military.
However, They quickly realize how misguided their ideas were. The recruits are bombarded by large boulders and crushed to death by the Beast Titan while trapped between it and the wall. By the end of the battle, only one recruit manages to pull himself from the wreckage.
6 Faye Yeager
Faye is, in many ways, a catalyst for the events of Attack on Titan. When Dr. Grisha Yaeger is a child, he and his 8-year-old sister venture outside the interment zone where their oppressed race is contained. The pair are caught without papers by military officials and told that they will be punished.
One beats Grisha while the other takes Faye by the hand, promising to walk her home. When Grisha eventually returns, he is told that Faye is dead. We find out later that Faye’s death is far more horrible than anything Grisha imagined. The officer had her fed to dogs.
5 Marco Bott
Marco Bott is a trainee in the 104th Cadet Corps with Eren Yaeger. He often encourages his fellow cadets when they feel hopeless and reminds them of the value they each possess. It’s safe to say that he’s a favorite among his team-mates, which makes his death a tragic loss.
The cadets are initially uncertain how Marco died and assume that he lost a battle with a Titan. In reality, he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Fellow cadets, Bertholdt and Reiner, are Titans in disguise secretly working against their comrades. Neither of them notices that Marco has come up behind them. When he confronts Berthold and Reiner about overhearing their conversation, Reiner decides they have no choice but to kill Marco.
4 Grisha Yeager
Grisha Yeager is still somewhat of a mystery to Attack on Titan viewers. We have seen his skill as a doctor and dedication to ending the Titan onslaught, but some of his actions are still shady. His death is shocking because it results in Eren’s gaining the Titan power.
After the fall of Shiganshina and death of his wife, Grisha forces his young son to take Titan serum and eat him. Eren is horrified by the truth, as he initially believed that his father was missing. Regaining the memory of his last moments with his father changes everything Eren thought he knew about the world.
3 Mike Zacharias
Mike Zacharias' death is nothing short of sickening. In his first real encounter with the Beast Titan, Mike mistakes it for an abnormal and comments on its size and appearance. Mike tumbles from his perch and is quickly set upon by Titans. For the first time, Mike hears a Titan speak when the Beast Titan tells the others to stop and not eat him.
It questions him, and the courageous soldier is too stunned to respond. The Beast Titan soon loses interest and gives the other Titans permission to resume eating. This scene stands as one of the most horrible and frightening in the show so far.
2 Commander Erwin
Commander Erwin was definitely a fan favorite. He gained the respect of soldiers and civilians with his willingness to ride into even the most treacherous of battles alongside his men. Sadly, this is exactly how Erwin dies. During the battle with the Beast Titan, Erwin becomes trapped with his recruits between the Beast Titan and the outer wall.
Knowing there is no way out, he tells Captain Levi that he wants to spend his last moments trying to find the Yaeger home to see if Dr. Yeager really hid the secrets of humanity in his basement. Erwin resigns himself to his death, thanking Levi with tears in his eyes and approaching his men to address them one last time. His final moments bring Erwin’s motives into question, but there is no denying his bravery and skill as a leader of the Scouts.
1 Carla Yeager
Carla argues against Eren’s desire to one day join the scouts. In the brief time we see her, Carla makes an impression as a good mother and hard-working citizen. Her death is the first shock of the series. When the wall to Shiganshina is compromised, a mass of Titans flood the city and devour people at will. Carla is trapped in the wreckage of her home, too badly injured to escape.
Carla demands that the kids leave her behind and save themselves, as the Titan reaches her and devours her alive. The image of his mother’s death haunts Eren, further encouraging him to become a member of the Scouts.