‘Attack on Titan’ Series Finale Ending Explained

Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for the Attack on Titan Series Finale!

The Big Picture

After ten years, Attack on Titan has reached its momentous and tragic conclusion, leaving fans breathless and reflecting on the destiny of our own reality. The final episode showcases intense battles, sacrifices, and a heartbreaking climax as humanity fights against Eren and the devastating Rumbling. Mikasa plays a pivotal role in ending the war and the Titan power through her deep bond with Eren, while the post-credits symbolize the never-ending cycle of violence and the inherent nature of life and death.

Hajime Isayama’s masterpiece has finally come to a momentous end. After ten groundbreaking years, loyal fans of Attack on Titan say their goodbyes to the beloved characters of Paradis Island and the world beyond the wall. What is said to be one of the greatest stories ever told was conceived when the author manifested the concept of the Titans during a drunk encounter with a customer at a coffee shop where he worked. All those years ago, Isayama came to believe the human race is the most dangerous creature on Earth, and the anime’s last episode gives us a tragic wake-up call to the destiny of our reality today.

Released on Nov. 5th, the dark fantasy has brought millions together to watch the highly anticipated finale of season 4, “The Final Chapters: Special 2”, where Eren Yeager’s (Yuki Kaji) inevitable plan of genocide and the fate of humanity are determined by the hands of the Global Alliance — Eren’s former allies and the rag-tag group of Marleyans. The previous episode left viewers with the start of the Rumbling going on to kill the rest of humankind outside Paradis. Hange sacrifices her life, Eren reveals his final titan form, and the team races in a cargo plane to find Eren’s body and deliver the fatal blow. The final chapter brings audiences right back into the turbulent action, exploding the screen with its closing, heartbreaking scenes that will forever leave us breathless.

Attack On Titan

After his hometown is destroyed and his mother is killed, young Eren Jaeger vows to cleanse the earth of the giant humanoid Titans that have brought humanity to the brink of extinction.

Release Date September 28, 2013

Cast Marina Inoue, Hiro Shimono, Takehito Koyasu, Yûki Kaji, Josh Grelle, Bryce Papenbrook

Main Genre Anime

Seasons 4

What Happens During the Final Episode of ‘Attack on Titan’?

Chapter 1 of the finale, “The Battle of Heaven and Earth”, lands Armin (Marina Inoue), Mikasa (Yui Ishikawa), Levi (Hiroshi Kamiya), Reiner (Yoshimasa Hosoya), Jean (Kishô Taniyama), and Connie (Hiro Shimono) on the spine of Eren’s titan form. As the Rumbling continues to push the rest of humanity towards their imminent deaths, the Global Alliance hurries to detonate the bombs they managed to swing around the nape of Eren’s neck — Armin must transform into his titan form to destroy the area. Plans fail when Armin is suddenly swallowed whole by an okapi-like Titan creature.

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The gang rushes to rescue Armin, but they are soon met face-to-face with pure Titan Shifters from the past! Meanwhile, Armin tries to wake himself up inside the okapi when he realizes he’s actually in the Paths dimension (this channel connects all Titans and Subjects of Ymir together). There, he has a chance encounter with a hopeless Zeke (Takehito Koyasu) who has given up on life. Armin tries his best to convince Zeke to help him stop the Rumbling. He reminds him that the little things in life are what matter most. “In that moment, the thought entered my head that maybe I had been born to race Mikasa and Eren up this hill,” Armin says. This triggers Zeke into remembering how much joy he felt when he often played baseball with Ksaver. Zeke, realizing his purpose, then summons the power of deceased Titan spirits to help the Global Alliance fight against Eren.

With the help of Mikasa and the Titan predecessors (Berbertholdt, Ymir, Porco, and Marcel show up to help), Armin is freed, and Zeke reveals himself! Levi kills Zeke, finally severing his ties with Eren, in one single swoop, and the Rumbling comes to an end. Jean and the Cart Titan/Pieck (Manami Numakura) take the opportunity to detonate the bombs around Eren’s neck. Successfully, the explosion splits Eren’s head from his Titan form, however, a glowing, worm-like parasite materializes from his body — “the source of all living matter” — and attempts to merge itself again with Eren. Reiner goes to hold back the parasite as Armin gets ready to transform into the Colossal Titan — “Goodbye, Eren,” announces Armin. The team flies away on Falco’s Jaw Titan form just when Armin finishes the mission by blowing up the area in a huge blast of fire! Is this the end for Eren?

How Does Mikasa End the War and the Titan Power?

Image via Crunchyroll

Believe or not, the key to winning a war is through love, and it all comes down to Mikasa. The remaining humans, Eldians and Marleyans wait in a moment of peace before another explosion erupts from the ground! Eren emerges in yet another Titan form, seeming to head straight for the glowing parasite. The Global Alliance is shocked Armin’s blast didn’t kill him. If the worm-like creature merges with Eren’s body again, the Rumbling could start back up. Armin battles against Eren, one-on-one, but “the source” has other plans. Releasing an unknown gas, the glowing parasite transforms the surrounding Eldians into Titans in order to help it reconnect with Eren. Only Mikasa, Levi, and the Titan Shifters are left to fight. “When will our torment end?”, cries Reiner.

With only a matter of seconds left to save the desolate fate of humanity, Mikasa must do the unthinkable. As Levi and Mikasa fly on Falco’s back towards Eren, Levi begs her to put an end to everything. She has to be the one to kill Eren for good. No one else can do it but her. The stressful situation triggers Mikasa into a vision — Eren and Mikasa are living peacefully in a cabin forest home where they have run away from the war on Paradis Island. Eren begs her to forget about him and to throw away his scarf. This illusion motivates Mikasa’s determination to carry out her final duty.

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Because of her deep bond with Eren, Mikasa intuitively knows Eren’s real head is inside his mouth, so the team makes one final effort to make a pathway for her. Mikasa smoothly breaks through Eren’s Titan teeth and soars inside the mouth. Eren and Mikasa exchange one last loving look just before Mikasa decapitates his head without hesitation. Inside the mouth, Mikasa holds Eren’s head and kisses him as Ymir watches from behind with a look of satisfaction. Eren is dead.

Eren’s Plan Has Been in Place This Whole Time

Image via Crunchyroll

In the final chapter, “Toward the Tree on That Hill”, it’s no wonder the concluding moments define just how vital the relationships between Armin and Mikasa are in understanding Eren’s true intentions. Before his death, Eren explained his true plan to his friends in the Paths dimension. We watch a vision where Eren and Armin meet in the Paths and discuss the reasons behind the Rumbling. For the Eldian race and Paradis Island to be protected, Eren planned to turn his friends into heroes to earn the world’s respect. Eren was able to look into the future when he gained the Attack Titan’s powers and saw the Rumbling had to be set in motion to free Ymir of her love for King Fritz. Mikasa’s unconditional feelings for Eren were similar to Ymir’s loyalty to her king. Knowing King Fritz was enslaving her because of the Titan power, Ymir still loved him. She could have set herself free, but her unrequited love kept her bound to the throne. Mikasa and Eren never acknowledged each other’s feelings for one another, and Eren took advantage of Mikasa’s emotions for his grand plans.

Earlier in Season 4, Eren expresses his hatred towards Mikasa which we now understand was needed so she would be roused to kill him when the time came. Though it was never explained fully, Ymir knew Mikasa had to be the person to release her from eternal torment and end the Titan Power. Eren then finally confesses to Armin of his love for Mikasa and admits he doesn’t want to die. Eren believed he was an idiot since he couldn’t find a different way to change Ymir’s predetermined fate for the world. Witnessing Eren’s horror, Armin does what he’s best at — being a faithful friend. Armin takes responsibility for inspiring Eren’s desire for the outside world, and shares a final embrace with him, ensuring they’ll meet again in hell and share the burden of their sins. “We’ll be together, forever”, Armin promises.

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Back in the real world, Armin finds Mikasa, who heads off to bury Eren’s head near the tree they used to run to. The Rumbling has ceased and Eren Yeager is dead — All Eldians are freed from the power of the Titans and are now normal human beings. With 80% of humanity gone, the remaining humans are still weary of the Eldians. Armin pretends he killed Eren and manages to calm down everyone. The war has ended…at least that’s how it seems.

What Is the Meaning Behind the Post-Credits of the ‘Attack on Titan’ Finale?

Three years after the battle, Historia (Shiori Mikami) explains in a voiceover that the devastating aftermath of the war plagued the world with worry. Paradis became “Eldia”, and the remaining islanders formed a powerful military, led by the Yeagerists, out of fear of reprisal from the survivors of humanity across the sea. “Even with the Titans gone, the conflict will not go away”, Historia says. Armin and the Global Alliance are seen on a ship heading for Eldia as the Allied Forces’ ambassadors for a peace talk between the warring parties. Armin remains hopeful that telling their story will bring the islanders to a mutual understanding. Unfortunately, Armin’s optimistic wishes become just the opposite.

The final episode concludes with a series of symbolic post-credits, all from the perspective of the tree on top of the hill. Mikasa visits Eren’s tombstone year after year, and we watch the city of Eldia evolve into a booming city! Despite Eren’s efforts, world peace never came true. The cycle of violence continues, war breaks out once again, and Eldia is eventually bombed to oblivion. In the post-apocalyptic days, a boy, wearing a very similar scarf to Mikasa’s, happens to stumble upon the tree Eren was buried under which now resembles the tree where Ymir obtained the Titan power — the source of all living matter. This last scene invites viewers to reflect on their own interpretation. Will the boy venture inside the tree? Does humanity gain the Titan power again? Fans will never know, but the post-credits speak volumes to how human beings can not only never escape the cycle of violence but the cycle of life and death itself.

In an interview with The New York Times, Hajime Isayama shares his humble thoughts on the unavoidable finale of Attack on Titan:

“I guess there could have been an ending where it was a happy ending and the war ended and everything was fine and dandy. I guess that could have been possible. At the same time, the end of fighting and the end of contention itself kind of seems hokey. It kind of seems like it’s not even believable. It’s just not plausible in the world we’re living in right now. And so, sadly, I had to give up on that kind of happy ending”.

The final chapter of Attack on Titan is available to stream on Crunchyroll in the U.S.

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