Abomination Accusation Attack: It's known that Eren is capable of turning into an abomination, the attack is against his fundamental humanity and whether he's a threat to the rest of the humans or not.
Absurdly Sharp Blade: Each member of the military dual wields blades forged with a secretive technique that makes it incredibly sharp and suited for hacking into Titans. But... they each have to carry about 12 of them, due to how easy they are to break and how quick they are to dull into uselessness.
The Ace: Levi Ackerman, the World's Best Warrior. To a lesser degree, Mikasa Ackerman, who is regarded as being a level above her classmates and worth 100 soldiers. Both are so much stronger than their contemporaries that Armin basically considers them humanity's ace in the hole when trying to come up with a plan to stop the Female Titan.
Broken Ace: Both have lost people dear to them in the past, and it's clear that their skill is at least a partial result of being hardened by their traumatic experiences.
Reiner also qualifies for both tropes. He's the 2nd ranked trainee, physically strong, very brave, excels at using 3D Maneuver gear, a highly skilled fighter (though not on Mikasa's level), and exceptionally charismatic. However, he is later shown to have serious emotional and mental problems.
Aside from their Healing Factor, lack of genitals and incomplete digestive tract, the Titans are anatomically identical to humans, so any attack that would debilitate a human such as taking out their eyes or Achilles Tendon would knock them down sufficiently for a while and leave them vulnerable.
The armored titan takes this even further as it has plating covering its neck and body with the only exposed points being at joints like the knees and elbows.
Action Girl: There's more than a few tough ladies in this series, on account of the army not discriminating based on gender.
Action Prologue: The beginning of Episode 1 shows some Survey Corps soldiers attacking a Titan. A later scene shows that the force was decimated in the battle.
Adaptation Distillation: In the manga, Annie became Eren's mentor, to which the two grew a mutual respect and admiration for each other. This is removed from the anime and causes Eren's hesitation to accept Annie as an enemy to come a little out of nowhere.
Forgone in the anime is Mikasa's inner monologue explaining Levi's ankle injury, so the seriousness of the injury is left a bit more vague.
Adaptation Expansion: Episode 22 of the anime expands the Survey Corps' return to Wall Rose following their 57th Expedition. The trip home is shown to be fraught with complications, and Levi's character, in particular, is further developed.
Episode 24 lengthens Eren's struggle with accepting Annie as an enemy, providing plenty of screentime to be dedicated to other characters like Jean and Armin, among others. It also brutalizes his and Annie's titan fight alot more.
Adaptation Induced Plot Hole: Episode 25 shows Levi, getting Eren out of his Titan form in his 3D Maneuver Gear after defeating Annie, despite that he had an injured leg back in Episode 22, which was emphasized several times. In the manga, he wasn't able to participate in capturing Annie because of his injury.
In the manga, titan!Annie was scaling the Wall so quickly that titan!Eren had to throw Mikasa in order to reach her. In the anime, Mikasa was somehow able to reach her all on her own.
Even when humanity didn't have man-eating Titans to deal with for a hundred years, there was still a sinister presence in the world. Mikasa learned this the hard way with her backstory, where she and her mother were targeted by slave traders who wanted to sell them as unique slaves (since Asians were killed off by the Titans). They only managed to take Mikasa, since they accidentally killed her mother. If slavery wasn't sick enough, rape was also implied, but the traffickers said that Mikasa was "too young" for their taste, if not necessarily their client's.
Deliberately invoked during the Battle of Trost by Pixis when he states to an army on the verge of desertion that those who want their loved ones to experience the same fear the Titans gave them can leave. A terrified father already hightailing it out of there suddenly imagines his beloved daughter screaming, about to be eaten alive by a Titan. He and other would-be deserters immediately do an about-face and go back into the fight. Doubtlessly, the others imagined their children being eaten as well.
Aerith and Bob: There's Eren, Mikasa, and Armin, for starters. Then there's characters called Thomas, Annie, and Sasha.
After the End: The Titans have taken over the world and the surviving humans have regressed to barely knowing about the world before the end.
All Just a Dream: The manga begins with what seems to be Mikasa heading to her own death. Eren wakes up saying he had a really long dream and he is mysteriously crying. The anime noticeably changed this to Five Minute Foreshadowing of the attack on Zhiganshina. What exactly the scene means is a matter of furious debate.
All There in the Manual: At the end of certain chapters, an extra page goes into detail on certain aspects of the world. Examples include a roughly to scale picture of the Walls and how much area they protect and details of humanity's technology. The anime incorporates this information by displaying it during its Eye Catches.
All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The overall goal of the Titans, though they're more interested in devouring the humans than the base itself. A more specific instance occurs when Titans occupy the Garrison HQ during the Battle of Trost, forcing the troops to attempt to retake it so that they can refill their 3D maneuver gear gas and keep fighting.
Almost Kiss: Though it was left pretty ambiguous it appeared that Mikasa was going in for a now or never kiss with Eren in Chapter 50, before he snapped out of his despair induced freak out.
Always Chaotic Evil: The Titans seem to be this, in a feral sort of way. They devour humans for no purpose other than because they enjoy doing it, although they are little more than mindless animals incapable of morality. The Titan Shifters are complex and morally-varied characters.
A Million Is a Statistic: In the anime, late in Episode 2, a narration is given that around 250,000 people, around 20% of the total population, are chosen to reclaim areas overtaken by the Titans. The narrator then continues that less than a hundred returned. One of the casualties is Armin's grandfather, who handed him his hat before heading out. Also in Episode 25 of the anime, the large number of civilian deaths that mostly happen off-screen are all represented by one girl seen stumbling in the streets and crying over several corpses.
Though those deaths actually come up later, when Eren screams at the traitors, Reiner and Bertolt, for being mass murderers, absolutely livid and disgusted at the deaths they have caused.
The 100+ people killed in Episode 25 come up later as well: Eren and Annie's fight was set up by the Survey Corps, and thus the residents of Stohess blame them for the destruction that the two caused. This means that the Government Conspiracy has a much easier time painting the Survey Corps as the bad guys.
Anachronic Order: The manga starts in 845 with the fall of Shiganshina, then a Time Skip rapidly takes us in 850 for the Battle of Trost. When it's over, we go back to 847 to follow the training of the 104th trainee corps, before switching back to 850, in the direct aftermath of the battle. The anime, however, tells the events in chronological order, which is generally considered an improvement, since we get to know the main cast before they are thrown into a deadly battle.
Ancient Conspiracy: The Wall Cult knows more about the Titans than the rest of humanity, including that the Walls protecting them from Titans are composed of other Titans.
And I Must Scream: According to Ymir, what it feels like to be a (mostly) mindless Titan. Before the events of the story, she has spent 60 years stuck as a normal Titan.
Animal Motifs: A broader example than most; humanity is domesticated livestock and the Titans are predators. The thematic goal of the protagonists (as evidenced by Eren's Meaningful Name) is to become hunters, capable of fighting and living free rather than being shut up inside a pen, only as safe as their keepers allow. ''Guren no Yumiya" has a variety of animal metaphors in its lyrics along the same lines.
These themes are made explicit in a couple of cases; Annie is muzzled like a wolf, while Lord Balto, who spends his days in 'luxurious delight' and is seen scarfing down canapes while playing chess with Commander Pixis, and insists the latter make protecting his mansion a priority, is a fat pig.
They're coming back with Captain Ackerman — Ackerman meaning "farmer" — and his task force possibly being the "farmers" who domesticate humanity. It enforces the motif of humanity being animals.
Anyone Can Die: Secondary and Supporting characters fare poorly in this series, with many named characters dying in every single battle. This is justified since the series focuses on the struggles of a Red Shirt Army, and even the most skilled soldiers only need to make a single mistake to meet a gruesome end. Thus far, Sasha has narrowly avoided death thanks to an editor getting Isayama to change his mind and the fate of Jean is one of many cliffhangers.
Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: The humans think Titans are like this, since they never attack each other. Until the Rogue Titan shows up anyway. Also gets subverted in other ways: the Titan spies kill their own kind to keep to their disguises and the Female Titan specifically summons a large number of Titans to consume her Titan body and escape in human form. In Chapter 50, we also discover that Eren not only has the power to transform into a Titan, but also direct them to attack certain specific targets, including normal Titans. Ymir then realizes that this is the reason that the Titan Shifters, those who can also transform into Titans, are so hellbent on capturing him alive.
Apocalypse How (Class 3 A): A little over a century ago, the Titans appeared and nearly drove humanity to extinction. A few hundred-thousand remain within the Walls, and face the constant threat of complete annihilation should the remaining Walls break. Mikasa's mother may have been the last Asian left, hinting that entire ethnic groups may have been wiped out completely by the Titans. Information about the Outside World is banned, making it impossible to know how much of the previous society was lost as a result of the survivors being forced into hiding. The revelation that Annie, Reiner, Bertolt, and Ymir come from outside the Walls suggests the possibility that other human settlements survive outside the Walls.
Apocalyptic Log: Played totally straight, in a side chapter, a Survey Corps soldier, Ilse, keeps writing in her journal even as a Titan is about to eat her.
An Arm and a Leg: This series loves this one, as dismembering is a common fate of unfortunate Red Shirts. However, due to the Healing Factor of Titan Shifters, dismemberment is usually regarded as Only a Flesh Wound for them.
Eren loses one of each in the Battle of Trost. They get better.
Ymir similarly loses an arm and a leg at Castle Utgard.
Reiner loses one arm and gets the other one horribly mangled when Mikasa tries to kill him after he blows his cover.
After kidnapping Eren, Reiner dismembers him to prevent him from escaping or shifting. He claims it was an accident and apologizes for it.
Erwin loses his right arm in battle, and still shows up later to rescue Eren. And seeing how he's the only member of this list who isn't a Titan Shifter, this has much greater repercussions than the others.
At least one of the kids that bullied Armin in the first episode is killed by debris during the Wall breach.
Ascended Meme: Many people liked to make fun of how Armin and Christa looked very similar. Come Chapter 53, he has to dress up as Christa while Jean is dressed as Eren again in order to lure out a group of kidnappers.
Asskicking Equals Authority/The Peter Principle: Only the best students are allowed to join the "prestigious" Military Police Brigade that guards the innermost Wall and the King. Therefore, the most skilled, in training anyway, soldiers are placed in a position of authority farthest from any actual fighting, while those less capable are more likely to be on the front lines. This situation is actually well known, and most who hone their skills high enough to be able to get the position were doing so just to be placed in a safe life. Eren bitterly notes the disconnect.
Adding to this, since hand-to-hand combat skills aren't valued as highly as 3D Maneuver Gear piloting, students who want to join the Military Police Brigade prioritize 3D Maneuver Gear training over melee combat training. This means that the soldiers who would be expected to fight human-sized opponents more often are actually the least qualified ones to do so.
Ate His Gun: In Episode 7, four soldiers are trapped inside a building with a Titan staring at them through the window. One of them is cleaning and reloading his gun. As he finishes, one of the female soldiers asks what good that'll do at this point. He turns the gun on his mouth, then fires.
Attack! Attack! Attack!: Pretty much a sure-fire way to get everyone killed, but, nevertheless, Erwin uses this tactic when trying to retrieve Eren in Chapter 49 despite losing his arm.
Attack Its Weak Point: The only way to put a giant down for good is to destroy or carve out the base of its neck. Even destroying their head won't kill them. Later in the story, it's hinted that this is the weak point because that's where the pilot goes.
The Armored Titan is nearly impossible to put down thanks to its armor, which is strong enough to shrug off cannon fire though it's joints are left vulnerable so it can move
Attack Pattern Alpha: The Special Operations Squad of the Survey Corps conducts a series of perfectly coordinated and precise strikes on the Female Titan with minimal spoken communication.
Author Appeal: There's a clear love of MMA in this series. Several of the rejected volume covers are of Mikasa in MMA stances. It was taken up to eleven when Eren was fighting Reiner, Eren was using locks and holds. In general, he draws characters with lean, athletic builds for all genders.
Automaton Horses: The Survey Corps expeditions involve an unflagging gallop for hours. Given a Hand Wave that the horses have been specially bred for speed and endurance. Good thing too, they're the only way to escape a Titan on open terrain.
Badass: Anyone who survives more than one encounter with a Titan in general. Notable mentions are Mikasa and Levi.
Badass Adorable: Krista, who is the idol of the 104th and one of the top graduates.
Badass Army: Few armies can be more badass than a legion of dual-wielding, building-swinging swordsmen. Some of them have already killed dozens of Titans, and even so they are losing ground, because when fighting dozens of 50-foot-tall quasi-indestructible man-eaters, it only takes one mistake or one stroke of bad luck to wind up suffering a gruesome death. When fighting the intelligent ones, it gets much worse.
Badass Creed: Right there in the first line of the theme: "Are you the prey? No, we are the hunter!"
Badass Normal: Sasha as mentioned above. Many characters die fighting the Titans even with special equipment like the 3D Maneuver Gear. She takes on one first with a hatchet and then with a bow and arrows, managing to wound it enough to rescue the young girl it was attacking.
Hidden Badass: Levi and his squad in particular, who have dozens of Titan kills each and are a Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits. Bertolt, Connie, Sasha, and Krista from the 104th, who are all top-ranked soldiers while not seeming it at all most of the time. Commander Erwin is also this. While most of the time he seems passive and only giving out orders, he is still able to fight, and does it remarkably well, even after a Titan chomps off one of his arms.
Submissive Badass: Bertolt, by his own admission. Mikasa is one to a certain extent; she's the most powerful member of the 104th yet completely loyal to Eren.
The Bait: Standard operating procedure is for one group to distract a Titan while another (which is usually more skilled) goes for the kill. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It comes up again when Mikasa ends up being the decoy against the Female Titan as Levi demonstrates exactly why he's Humanity's Finest.
Used by Armin to deal with the Titans invading the supply depot.
This is the primary role of the surviving soldiers during the mission in Trost, luring Titans to the opposite side of the city in order to clear the way for the elite team. Quite a few soldiers are killed as a direct result.
This turns out to have been Eren's true role in the 57th Expedition, with Erwin secretly using him to lure out the Titan Shifters infiltrating the military.
Eren and Christa both seem to serve this purpose during Chapter 53. They're used to lure out the enemy faction hiding within the Walls who are bent on their capture—Eren because he's a Titan Shifter, Christa because she's the illegitimate child of an influential member of the Wall Cult. When the kidnappers make their move, Levi and the 104th manage to follow them. Not only that, they didn't even get Christa and Eren! It was Armin and Jean disguised as them!
Badass Cape: The Survey Corps cloak is dark green and has their insignia on it. A powerful scene is the Trainees that select Survey Corps putting theirs on for the first time.
Bait-and-Switch Credits: The first opening features the process of Eren skillfully using his Maneuver Gear to close in on a Titan and single-handedly kill it. This happens exactly 0 times during the first series since he gets eaten very quickly while Maneuvering in his first battle. Afterwards, all his Titan slaying is done as a Titan! The first time he kills a Titan as a human is at Castle Utgard, which happens much later in the story though the first opening implies he starts doing that at Trost.
Barbie Doll Anatomy: Titans. In this case, it's justified because it's not a matter of censorship—Titans just don't have any reproductive organs or secondary sexual characteristics. Averted in the case of humans, however. It took 53 chapters, but Eren gives us the manga's first Shirtless Scene. He has nipples and a six pack.
Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. Many of the female soldiers depicted have fairly attractive appearances. If a Titan gets hold of them though, then they're messily devoured like everyone else.
Annie ends up befriending several of her comrades, and is unable to kill them as a result. This ends up coming back to bite her, resulting in her ultimate defeat.
Bertolt seemingly averts it at first, as he remained loyal to his mission and (literally) kicked off the attack on Trost that killed many of his classmates. However, he ends up playing it straight when he confesses that he genuinely cared for the others, but had no choice but to betray them.
Deconstructed with Reiner, who becomes so overwhelmed with guilt that he ends up suffering from dissociative episodes. This leaves it very unclear when his actions were genuine and when they were fueled by his delusions of humanity.
Behemoth Battle: The Titans don't normally fight each other and go exclusively after humans. but starting on the "Battle Of Trost District" Arc, The Rogue Titan was introduced and it exclusively attacks other Titans. leading to Titan duels and brawls that can completely wreck cities as if they're made of Styrofoam.
Being Good Sucks: Of the 104th Trainee Corps, most end up joining the Survey Corps. Many of them are shaking in fear or even crying when they make the decision, and it's obvious they're still tempted by the prospect of staying safer in another branch. Ultimately they want to follow Eren and do the right thing by making sure that their friends' sacrifices won't have been in vain.
Being Evil Sucks: The villains don't have it much easier, though. Reiner, Bertolt, and Annie are painfully aware that their actions have left them without options, and pretty much guarantee them short lives and a miserable end. In conclusion, being anything sucks in this setting.
Berserk Button: Early on in the series, Eren overhears a random soldier lamenting about having to share their limited food supplies with the large number of refugees. When the soldier says that the Titans should have eaten more people so there'd be fewer mouths to feed, Eren, who is among the refugees in question and has just been through the trauma of watching his mom get eaten, gets very pissed and kicks the soldier before going off on him. Armin's quick apology to them seems to calm them down.
Eren's Berserk Button is very easy to hit. Even in the first episode we see him tear fiercely into the Garrison soldiers for playing a board game and drinking while on sentry duty.
It gets pressed again in Episode 21, after the rest of Levi's squad is quickly killed by the Female Titan. He tries to avenge them, but ultimately fails.
Mikasa tends to lose it if she sees Eren in danger. Woe be to whoever does it, whether human or Titan.
Reiner and Bertolt react very strongly when the other is in danger. Likewise, threatening Annie is also a good way to make Bertolt angry.
At first, Levi doesn't seem to react to his closest friends' sudden deaths. Then he confronts the Female Titan who killed them, the most deadly titan shown so far, and absolutely mutilates her. Look at his eyes during that scene. This is not Tranquil Fury, this is the pure, mindless rage of a wild animal who is pissed beyond all reason.
Better To Die Than Be Eaten: One unnamed soldier decides to opt out of the story than be food for the many Titans trying to get into the building he and the rest of his comrades held up in. He probably should've waited a bit longer, since the other trainees come to their help not much later.
Armin briefly considers this early on; he gives all of his blades and gas to Mikasa so that she can help take back the Titan-infested building holding most of their supplies, but asks to keep one for himself in case a Titan tries to eat him. Mikasa manages to talk him out of it.
Big Bad Friend: Annie, Reiner, and Bertolt are this to the 104th Trainees Squad and Eren in particular. While the primary antagonists of the first half of the series, their attachment to the others is genuine and they aren't particularly happy about the things their mission has required them to do.
Big Brother Instinct: Gender flipped with Mikasa and Eren. While neither of them slack off, ever since Eren saved Mikasa's life when they were younger, she's become extremely protective of him. She's mostly responsible for stopping the Female Titan from her second attempted kidnap of Eren (Levi saved Eren in the Female Titan's first attempt, outclassing Mikasa), and viciously attacks Reiner and Bertolt when they reveal themselves to Eren as the Armored Titan and Colossal Titan respectively.
Reiner is seen as the big brother of the entire group, and readily takes on whatever is necessary to help them out. It becomes a serious issue for him, since he's one of the Titan spies.
In Episode 6, Eren tries to do this for Mikasa in a Flash Back. He manages to kill two of her abductors, but needs to be rescued from the third by Mikasa.
In Episode 7, Mikasa is saved from certain doom after she runs out of gas for her maneuver system by the Rogue Titan who kills a Titan approaching her.
Levi saves Eren, Armin, and Mikasa in Episode 13 shortly after Armin manages to get Eren secured.
In Chapter 49, Erwin shows back up to rescue Eren from Bertolt. With one arm.
In Chapter 50, Hannes shows up to defend Eren and Mikasa from the smiling Titan. But fails to stay alive for too long.
Big Eater: Sasha, who risks punishment for the sake of food.
The Titans are a truly horrifying version, as they devour humans for no reason other than because they seemingly enjoy it. It's noted that they will continue to eat until their stomach is full, and then vomit so that they have room for more victims. You do not want to see that happen.
Bishie Sparkle: In Episode 18, after Krista arrives with a few horses after Jean shoots a smoke round in the air in an attempt to call for help. She tells them she's glad they're all safe, and as sunlight beams down on her, she sparkles, causing Armin and Jean to wonder if she's a goddess, as well Reiner thinking that he wants to marry her.
Bittersweet Ending: The Battle of Trost arc ends with a Pyrrhic victory that won back the Trost district and sealed up Wall Rose from the Titans, but at appalling cost and in the process leaving everyone devastated.
Bizarre Alien Biology: The Titans; the fact that how they work makes very little sense is an important plot point, as one of the Survey Corps' stated objectives is to better understand Titans and how to better defend against them/kill them.
Blessed with Suck: The most elite soldiers (including the top 10 members of the 104th) are the ones selected to fulfill the critical part of dangerous missions because they have the best chance of succeeding. While this takes them away from the "decoy" force in most operations, they also have a high risk of dying and have the additional burden of knowing that if they fail, all the sacrifice has been for nothing.
"Blind Idiot" Translation: The title of the series, as Shingeki no Kyojin literally translates to "The Advancing Titans". "Attack on Titan" rather brings to mind the image of Saturn's biggest moon being under attack, which does not seem to be what is actually going on in the story.
Bloody Horror: The Titans (giants) love to play with their food (humans), and will bite off people's bodies in bits spraying blood everywhere in the process. Or even just injure humans so they bleed out and leave them to die. The scariest part is that they don't even need to eat to survive. They eat humans for fun, and just throw them up later. So all the casualties in battle are pretty much killed for no reason.
Blood-Splattered Innocents: In Episode 25, a young girl is seen walking the streets covered in blood and tears after several women around her got crushed by stray rubble resulting from the ensuing chaos.
Body-Count Competition: The members of the Survey Corps Elite are introduced by Eren by their Titan kill and assist count.
Body Horror: Transforming into a Titan, seems to create nerves out of nowhere and are attached to the person's skin. It seems hard to get out of, but not impossible
People basicaly dissolve when they become normal Titans.
Body Motifs: Eyes. A lot of emphasis is placed on them if you pay attention.
Bold Explorer: Eren dreams of joining the Survey Corps because they venture outside of Wall Maria, the outermost Wall, and attempt to map it out or study the Titans. However, they have a high casualty rate as evidenced by the few returning members in the first episode, most of whom are injured. One of the bits of trivia given during the Eye Catch in Episode 2 mentions that the territory outside of Wall Maria is unknown due to it being lands infested by Titans.
The introduction of the Survey Corps sees them returning from a failed mission, with Erwin noticing a young Eren happily watching them and turning away in shame. Five years later, as they return from a mission that went poorly, Eren notices a brother and sister watching him with the same excited expression. He immediately looks away while fighting back tears.
In Episode 25, concluding Eren's fight with Annie, Mikasa requests that Eren eat to keep his strength up, as she did in Episode 2. This time, he does so willingly.
The first episode begins with the phrase, "That day, humanity remembered the terror of being ruled by them... the humiliation of being kept in a cage." The phrase refers to how humanity had become complacent living behind the Walls, and how the destruction of Zhiganshina restores the fear in their hearts. The phrase is repeated in the last episode of the first season, but the meaning is different; humanity remembers, and humanity is pissed.
Bound and Gagged: Reiner and Bertolt keep Eren like this when attempting to escape to the other side of the Walls with him. It's justified in that they're the Titans who ruined his life, and he'll do pretty much anything to injure himself and transform into a Titan so he can get his revenge.
In fact, Eren has been tied up more times than any other member of the cast.
The Survey Corps attempts to do this to Annie, but she manages to transform and kill the soldiers grabbing her.
Broken Pedestal: Reiner, once he's revealed to be the Armored Titan. Eren even rants about how much he wanted to be just like him, and how disgusted he is.
A common experience for young recruits. The Survey Corps seems awesome, until one realizes how low their survival percentage is and how often their missions end in failure. The Military Police Brigade are corrupt and lazy, and anyone joining for honest intentions gets a rude wake-up call.
Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Levi is left injured and sidelined after blocking an attack from the Female Titan. He still manages to win the fight, as evidence of how deserving he is of his World's Strongest Man reputation. Eren also tends to do this constantly whenever he fights other Titans, but it rarely slows him down for long since he has a Healing Factor.
Building Swing: The 3D Maneuver gear is primarily focused on this, employing twin grappling hooks and gas propulsion to swing around.
Le Parkour: The more talented soldiers combine these techniques with the above to maximize their mobility while saving their gas.
Burn the Witch!: Various factions present at Eren's tribunal are rather paranoid about him (understandably) and want him dissected but then start accusing Mikasa of being a Human Titan too (much less understandably).
There's also a more complicated case, which Zigzags between an Aversion and a Justified case. Reiner swings between being painfully aware of his crimes and unaware, due to suffering from a Double Consciousness.
The Call Knows Where You Live: Precisely put, the debris caused by Colossal Titan's destruction of the gate fell directly on Eren and Mikasa's house, crushing their mother's leg and preventing her from escaping. Hannes comes and attempts to slay the Titan that was approaching, but in a moment of fear, decided it was best to take the children and escape, leaving their mother behind. Eren and Mikasa horrifically witness the Titan crushing their mother to death and then devouring her. Once Eren and Mikasa are safely on the escape ships, Eren vows to kill all of the Titans.
The Colossal Titan also just happens to mysteriously appear right in front of him prior to the Battle of Trost after the 104th trainees graduate.
Jean Kirstein proudly declares his intention to join the Military Police Brigade and live a comfortable, Titan-free life. The day after graduation, his hometown becomes the site of a major battle and he's forced to take command of the other traumatized, stranded Trainees. And just to make certain he wouldn't reconsider things, in the aftermath of the battle he discovers the mangled corpse of his best friend, Marco.
Camera Abuse: In Episode 24, the camera lens is briefly splattered with blood as the Female Titan wails on the Survey Corps.
Cast of Snowflakes: Understandably not so much the Red Shirts, but the main and supporting characters, and even the Titans, are all distinct in terms of face shape, eye shape, build, etc.
The Cavalry: The Survey Corps reinforce the Garrison and the Trainees just in the nick of time during the Battle of Trost. Bonus points for actually riding horses from place to place before switching to Maneuver gear.
Central Theme: Change will not happen unless you push for it; if you don't fight, you can't win.
Changing of the Guard: After the destruction of Squad Levi, a new team is assembled, consisting of the remaining members of the 104th Trainees. Eren notes the melancholic similarities between the old and new squad.
Characters Dropping Like Flies: For starters, the main characters are members a Redshirt Army whose job is not even to save humanity but DIE BRAVELY so humanity can survive just a bit longer. That said, named characters get eaten by Titans roughly every five pages (that's right, even the protagonist).
Chekhov's Gun: A minor example: when Annie agrees to help Armin to get Eren out of Stohess she conspicuously puts on a plain metal ring that no one has been seen with. It comes up later when she's apprehended as the Female Titan and gagged to prevent her from shifting, she opens it up to reveal a hidden barb so she could pierce her finger that way.
When Armin makes his (panicked) initial analysis at the start of Trost, he quickly mentions that the humans have no way of moving the gigantic boulder that's large enough to block the entrance, much less actually repairing the gate before the Titans make it in. Later on, Eren manages to move the boulder and seal the gate as a Titan.
Chekhov's Gunman: Ymir first shows up in the Battle of Trost for the manga, during basic training for the anime. In the manga at least, the audience never finds out what her name is until right before Castle Utgard. If you knew Ymir's name when you read Ilse's Notebook, her secret would have been guessed a lot earlier.
It's certainly looking like Mikasa's father, or whichever parent didn't change their last name at marriage is going to be this.
Chekhov's Skill: In Episode 4, Annie uses a sweeping attack which knocks Eren down during a martial arts training session. He realizes this wasn't a skill they were taught formally, but uses it against Jean later that night during an argument in the mess hall.
This ends up coming back into play later on, when Eren recognizes that the Female Titan uses Annie's fighting style.
And again when Eren uses the wrestling moves he learned from Annie against Reiner/Armored Titan.
Chess Motifs: Used for a subtle bit of Foreshadowing in Chapter 34, which sees several of the recruits during downtime. Reiner and Bertolt are playing chess to pass the time. Reiner is the white side, and preoccupied in conversation with the others, while Bertolt is playing the black side and intensely focused on their game. He also seems to be winning. Then we learn that Reiner is guilt-ridden and struggling to remain focused on their mission, while Bertolt is far more committed to their purpose and willing to put aside his personal feelings to accomplish goals. The metaphors extend further, as Reiner confesses to having not really understood things when he began his mission and Ymir later referring to the pair of "small fries" when she warns Eren that killing them won't accomplish anything. They very neatly fit into the role of the Pawn, heading out into enemy territory to accomplish their mission while not actually being significant enough that their loss would harm their side. A fan's reconstruction of their game reveals Reiner playing recklessly, leaving his King undefended while automatically throwing his most powerful pieces into the game. On the other hand, Bertolt is overly cautious and sets up a defensive to protect himself while waiting to act.
Children Are Innocent: Eren utilizes this trope in a Flash Back during Episode 6. He pretends to have gotten lost and found the cabin by chance, causing one of the bandits to start talking to him a little less seriously. See Children Forced To Kill for what happens next...
Subtly Exploited at one point. During Eren's tribunal, several groups want Eren to be executed immediately. Suddenly Levi starts beating the crap out of him in front of everyone as part of Erwin's gambit. Everyone stands down from their hostility just long enough for Erwin to sway the judge to let him join the Survey Corps because while they want to execute Eren as the human Titan, everyone is visibly horrified at Eren getting savaged as a human child.
Children Forced To Kill: Part of both Eren and Mikasa's backstory. Mikasa's parents were killed by three human traffickers and Mikasa was kidnapped with the traffickers intending on selling her because she was of a rare Oriental race. Eren and his father found out about their whereabouts, and Eren was told to stay away from their hideout as Dr. Yeager notified the police. Instead, Eren took it upon himself to rescue Mikasa and stabs two of the men to death. Before they could escape, the third man came back and began choking Eren to death. Mikasa, who had been shell-shocked from the trauma the entire time, finally finds the courage and stabs the last man to death as well.
Annie, Reiner, and Bertolt are the Tyke Bomb variant. Their mission to attack humanity began while they were still children, and all three show varying levels of trauma as a direct result of being ordered to commit mass murder.
Child Soldiers: Due to the army's appallingly high mortality rate, its minimum recruitment age is twelve.
Even more so with Reiner, Annie and Bertolt, who (as mentioned above) destroyed the Walls and infiltrated the human ranks at the ages of ten and eleven, the heavy implication being they were trained from a very young age.
Choke Holds: It had to happen sooner or later, with Isayama's love of MMA. Reiner uses one to subdue Eren, after he goes berserk.
Citadel City: Played with. The Three Walls contain all of humanity and its defenses, but the total area is the size of a large country and quite a bit of Wall Maria and Rose are rural areas. The Walls get higher and the urban density increases going toward the center though, with Wall Sina basically containing nothing but cities.
Clark Kent Outfit: Every character that's enlisted in the military actually undergoes heavy physical training so they are able to properly control the 3DMG. As a result, most soldiers have really sculpted physiques. This, however, is only shown in a few instances, and characters are most often shown wearing their uniforms.
Cleopatra Nose: Annie, Reiner, Bertolt, Hange, and Mike all have one, but a surprising number of characters have distinctive noses without resorting to Gonk for the sake of diversity. It's especially noteworthy how unique their noses are, showing a variety of large or unusual noses that to their distinctive looks.
Cliff Hanger: The anime loves these, and several episodes feature one.
Cold-Blooded Torture: Djel Sanes of the first squad of the Military Police Brigade and his unnamed partner are revealed to have done this to Pastor Nick before killing him in Chapter 52.
Hanji and Levi do the same to Sanes for information about the MP and Reiss family in Chapter 55. Levi is his usual quiet self, but Hanji's behavior isn't exactly cold.
Hanji: Well then...which testicle do you not need?
Cold Equation: Humanity's attempt at reclaiming Wall Maria by sending out 250,000 drafted citizens was done knowing that the operation would likely fail so that humanity would not starve from overpopulation.
Jean also performs one during the Battle of Trost, using several cornered comrades as a distraction so that the rest of the soldiers following him may escape safely.
Marco: I want you to listen to me without getting angry. You're not strong, Jean. That's why you understand how the weak feel. And you're adept at properly assessing a situation, so you know exactly what has to be done at any given time.
Colossus Climb: Given the premise, it should come as no surprise that a few characters try this. Given that Titans are really, really fast, though, it doesn't often work out too well for the climber.
Combat Parkour: The soldiers use 3-D Maneuver Gear to Building Swing and try to zip around and over the larger, deadlier, Titans whose only weak spot is a narrow area of the base of the neck. This trope with grappling hooks.
Conveniently Empty Buildings: Averted. When the Rogue Titan and the Female Titan clash in the middle of Stohess District, it's made abundantly clear that the buildings getting crushed are full of civilians.
Conspicuous CG: The blood splatter and some 3D maneuver gear scenes are done in CG.
When the Colossal Titan swipes the top of the Wall in Episode 5, the effect is in very obvious CGI.
In Episode 5, when the soldiers are running and jumping through the city, all the houses are obviously made with CGI.
The Survey Corps vs Titans when they're not getting killed left and right.
The Rogue Titan vs the Female Titan in Episode 21 then again in Episodes 24 and 25.
Couldn't Find a Pen: When Reiner writes into the Female Titan's hand with his blades in Episode 17
Cowardly Lion: A good many soldiers are this, especially among the Garrison. While clearly terrified of the Titans, when push comes to shove their courage is undeniable. This is especially driven home when Pixis shames the mob to prevent a mass desertion, inspiring the terrified soldiers to remain and fight to protect their loved ones from the same fear they're experiencing. Armin, Sasha, Connie, and Bertolt are all described as being cowards, but still just as brave as their comrades when necessary.
The first is to help lure the Rogue Titan towards the supply base, so it can help them relieve the siege. It works, as the Titan rushes towards the area when it sees how many there are congregated there.
The second is when he develops a plan to kill the remaining Titans in the supply base so they can restock their gas canisters. He has many of the remaining soldiers all inside a lift elevator, whose goal is to fire their guns into the eyes of the seven Titans, blinding them in the process. Then, a group of seven of their best soldiers hidden nearby would strike and take them down. It works, but Sasha and Connie miss the neck, so they don't quite finish off their targets. Fortunately Mikasa and Annie finish them off.
While attempting to go over the plan to seal the gate of Trost, Armin mentions that Titans seem to be drawn most towards large groups of people. So he advises that they have a large group of soldiers stand up on the Wall and try to lure most of the Titans towards them, and have a small group of elite soldiers guard the attempt to seal the gate.
Crazy-Prepared: Annie turns out to be this. She wears a ring with a hidden spike, so that she's able to transform even if restrained.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Oluo Bozado, a member of Levi's Special Operations Squad, initially appears to be a washed-up, immature moron who can't even talk and ride at the same time. We then hear that he's got thirty-nine solo Titan kills and nine assists under his belt.
Sasha Blouse, who looks like a complete moron during her first few appearances, actually gets into the top 10 of the class, and is able to fend off a Titan without her gear at one point, using only a hatchet and arrows.
Crucified Hero Shot: Eren in his Titan body gets framed like this sometimes, with his arms held perpendicular to his torso and above the rest of this body by the connecting nerves.
Cruel and Unusual Death: Most characters have the choice of being crushed by Titans, torn apart by Titans, or eaten by Titans. Oftentimes all of the above. To add insult to injury, when someone is eaten, whatever's left of the remains is eventually just regurgitated back up.
Cruel to Be Kind: In Episode 14, after Eren berates the merchants and Military Police Brigade for wanting him dead despite being far away from the Titan threat, Levi goes over to him and brutally beats him. His treatment is so harsh that he ends up losing a tooth and even the MP representative felt he was going too far. However, Commander Erwin is able to convince the judge to allow Eren to join the Survey Corps, and utilize his abilities to help humanity reclaim Wall Maria. Eren for his part, appreciates what they did, and doesn't hold a grudge against Levi for that beating during the trial, as he saw it was necessary to help sway the judge to let Eren join them rather than have him executed.
Cry Cute: Mikasa in Episode 8, after she finds her brother alive.
In Chapter 48, Bertolt is a villainous example of the trope, combining it with Tears of Remorse to powerful effect.
"Look around. Who do you think the real enemy is?"
Ch. 46 almost entirely consists of this, with several characters holding a conversation completely over the head of Eren (and the audience) while ignoring or refusing to clarify anything.
Curb-Stomp Battle: The Titans generally do this towards humans. Only in Episode 6 do we start seeing them get taken down, mostly by Action Girl Mikasa.
Eren's squad engages the Titans in Trost in Episode 5 and... it goes horribly. Nearly everyone is killed with the exception of Armin, and even Eren is swallowed by a Titan. To add insult to injury, they weren't even able to scratch the Titans.
Eren turns the tables, though, when he shifts into Titan form and almost effortlessly kills every Titan in sight. He manages to destroy 20 before he collapses and it took several of them rushing him to slow him down for more than a few seconds.
The Special Operations Squad when they take on the Female Titan, and show just what a hand-picked team of elite soldiers can do. Then she surprises them with an ability no one had ever seen before in a Titan, and the team is brutally slaughtered within minutes, since their opponent is Dark Action Girl Annie.
Levi delivers one to the Female Titan, easily bringing it to its knees.
Cue the Sun: It starts raining during Trost as Mikasa recalls her memories of her past and especially when she believes Eren is dead. When it looks like it's curtains for her, she suddenly remembers Eren's exhortation to fight and win just as the sun breaks through the clouds.
Eren, Mikasa, and Armin have a Doomed Hometown and being orphaned through extreme violence.
At the age of nine, Mikasa helplessly watched a gang of human traffickers murder her parents, and was then kidnapped with the implication she was going to be sold into sexual slavery. She was forced to kill one of the men, and was never the same again.
Ymir spent 60 years as a regular Titan, and described it as being trapped in an endless nightmare. A narration by her goes further in discussing how the world wanted to destroy her for her existence, and how she "died" for the happiness of others.
Reiner and Bertolt are survivors of a Titan attack. Just not the one they claim to have survived. They caused that one, though both were children at the time and are visibly damaged as a result of their actions.
Levi is hinted to have been an infamous criminal, prior to becoming humanity's strongest soldier. It's revealed in Chapter 56 that he was personally trained by the 'true leader' of the Military Police, the one who killed Christa's mother for political reasons. Which explains a lot.
Darkest Hour: Many times, the first one seven episodes in, with the 104th Trainees trapped in Trost with Titans all around them, Eren seemingly killed, and everybody ready to give up (some to the point of suicide) except Mikasa, who gets waylaid by a Titan without any gas to power her vertical maneuvering gear. Then, Eren pulls a Big Damn Heroes moment with his Titan Shifter powers and turns the tide of the fight.
Pops up again later, in an even more classic form of the trope, when Rico lists off the names of the soldiers facing almost certain death in the attempt to seal the gate, as a way of ensuring Eren understands the full weight of his role in the mission.
Death of a Thousand Cuts: This tactic becomes necessary when fighting Human Titans, which have intelligence and additional weak-spot protection to help them out. The tactic Squad Levi uses on the Female Titan is gouge out its eyes and force it to remain defensive. They then try to hack off its arms then neck in a series of successive strikes.
Declaration of Protection: Mikasa is devoted to protecting Eren, often to his annoyance. Ymir is devoted to protecting Krista, though she would deny it most of the time. Reiner also claims to want to protect Krista, and offers this to Ymir as evidence that he can trust her.
Decon-Recon Switch: Played with. Initially appears to be your standard Shonen anime where the characters train hard and then defeat monsters. Then everybody starts dying, including the main character, the notion of Heroic Sacrifice falls flat on its ass, and everyone becomes completely hopeless. Then Eren shows back up as a Titan and starts kicking ass and taking names, allowing those Shonen tropes to come back into play. This repeats frequently.
Eren gets this twice. Once after being eaten screams that he will kill every Titan with his own hands, and again when faced with the Titan that killed his mother tries to fight it in hand to hand combat as a human (as he is unarmed and cannot transform). Both times his Titan powers save his life and kill the Titan trying to kill him.
Determinator: Eren began his military training with no outstanding promise but became the 5th most capable recruit of the 104th simply by being determined to train as hard as he could to be able to kill as many Titans as he could.
On Eren's first day of training he can't even remain upright in the maneuvering gear harness and is threatened with expulsion. The second day he manages to remain upright briefly before flipping again and conking his head on the ground. The Training Instructor realizes that Eren's gear is defective, since even if he couldn't stay upright it should have kept him from actually striking the ground. He comments to himself that, while Eren's not the natural ace that Mikasa is, it's impressive that Eren was willing to put in the effort required to stay upright for even as long as he did.
Hannes remarks that while Armin is The Smart Guy and Mikasa The Ace, Eren relies solely on his mental fortitude and determination and that this is enough so that Hannes doesn't need to worry about him.
Despair Event Horizon: Mikasa suffers from this when she sees Armin in Episode 7. The tears streaming out of his eyes are more than enough of a clue for her to figure out the worst happened to Eren.
Reiner seems to have gone over it, after revealing his true identity. He clings to the idea of completing his mission in order to continue functioning, but seems resigned to being a "short-lived mass murderer".
Dies Wide Open: If there's a body left behind, chances are, the victim's eyes will be open with their final moments of horror still fresh on their faces.
Disappeared Dad: Grisha Yeager disappeared to parts unknown shortly after the Titan attack on Zhiganshina, leaving his young son and daughter to fend for themselves.
Dissonant Serenity: Their happy, smiling faces as they devour their way through entire towns are perhaps the creepiest thing about Titans. Some of them keep smiling even when they're being sliced into pieces or otherwise mutilated.
Eren's relaxed grin as he impassively announces to a group of terrified soldiers: "I'll kill 'em all."note referring to Titans, although the soldiers think he is referring to them. Armin's horrified expression beside him just serves to make the whole situation simultaneously more terrifying and hilarious.
Eren's wide eyed grin as he announces to Reiner and Bertolt that he will kill them as painfully as he can.
Divided We Fall: In Episode 11, Pixis tells Eren a story about how humanity used to bicker and fight wars until the Titans showed up and was supposed to force them to unite together against a common enemy. Eren has heard that legend before and thinks it's naive because humanity still hasn't banded together. Pixis agrees with him. He tells Eren that humanity does need to stand together soon, or they would all be wiped out eventually by the Titans.
Do Not Go Gentle: Mikasa in Episode 7 after suffering from a Despair Event Horizon seems to give up at first when she runs out of gas for her maneuver system. However, she starts to actively resist as best as she can against the Titan trying to eat her after she starts remembering Eren telling her to fight back.
Most people can't do much besides squirm even if they wanted to once they're in the grasp of a Titan. One exception is the unnamed Survey Corps member that basically spits defiance at the Titan holding him and keeps stabbing it in the face even as he's getting chewed on.
Doomed Hometown: Eren, Mikasa, and Armin's hometown gets breached by the Colossal Titan in the very first episode. Reiner and Bertolt also came from a town overrun by Titans, and are motivated by their desire to see it again someday. May or may not be a complete fabrication as part of their cover. In later events, Connie's village becomes one.
While it's likely meant as pure Ship Tease, there's a flashback of Annie and Eren sparring together to which Mikasa's implied to be jealous through interrupting them and challenging Annie to fight her instead. The other trainees gather in excitedment at who will win, while Reiner asks: "Which one would you pick, Eren?" (note the choice of words). In response, he stares at them while thinking "Which one..." and the flashback fades out on that line, making it seem like the narrative was hinting towards more than just the outcome of the fight.
When Reiner calls out Annie as a slacker during training, Annie seems quite annoyed by this and, after beating Eren, challenges Reiner to spar with her, and beats him just as easily as she does Eren. While this can be merely interpreted as Reiner teaching Eren about "being a soldier" and/or teasing Annie, the fact that Annie and Reiner are both traitors, but don't seem on the best terms means this scene can be interpreted as Reiner challenging Annie to prove her loyalty. Though why this involves beating up Eren is not yet clear.
Downer Beginning: The story opens with the massacre of an entire city and the protagonist watching as a Titan kills his mother.
Downer Ending: The 57th Expedition Beyond The Walls (AKA The Female Titan) arc ends this way. The Survey Corps has failed at its objective of capturing the Female Titan, dozens of good soldiers have died (including the Special Operation Squad veterans), Levi is sidelined due to an injury, the Survey Corps has lost most of its credibility and gets even more ridicule and shame flung at it, and Eren is to be handed over to the Military Police Brigade. Wow.
It gets slightly better. Afterwards, Commander Erwin is able to track down the Female Titan inside the Walls by the skin of his teeth and the Survey Corps actually succeed in capturing her this time. This manages to convince the Military Police not to arrest Eren and gives the Survey Corps enough of their respect back to continue their operations with him. However, Annie sealed herself in a protective crystal that is stopping any interrogations for the time being, and the capturing her lead to dozens of more soldiers dying and countless civilians being caught and killed in the brutal fight between Annie and Eren. Oh, and it turns out there are Titans in the Wall. Still, it manages to turn the Downer Ending of the 57th Expedition into a Bitter Sweet Ending.
Dramatic Irony: In Episode 6, as Mikasa affirms her main motivation for living and fighting.
Mikasa: Eren, as long as youíre with me, I can do anything.
She has no idea of Erenís fate at this point. The audience does.
Right after the Female Titan is initially immobilized Levi's squad and Eren have orders to keep riding forward and later discuss how huge this accomplishment is. This happens shortly after the Female Titan breaks out and is on the loose looking for Eren...
Before the Survey Corps returns from the 57th expedition, the audience is treated to shots of the families of Petra, Eld, Gunther, and Oluo anticipating their return. The audience on the other hand knows what happened and it makes it heartbreaking to watch.
Dreaming of Things to Come: In the anime, Eren's dream is shown to be a variety of disturbing images of the Titans, dead humans, and ends with the scene of the Titan picking up his mother as shown later in the episode.
Drill Sergeant Nasty: One can be seen in Episode 3, yelling at and training the recruits. One of the officers inspecting them wonders why he's being so harsh to them. The other tells him that his job is to break down and strip them of their individual identities so they can be trained as soldiers conditioned to fight alongside one another. The first officer later wonders why the drill sergeant seems to be skipping some individuals. The second one tells him that the ones he skips have a certain look on their faces, as they're already broken down, meaning they're survivors of a Titan attack.
Dual Wielding: The soldiers tend to dual wield their blades because killing a Titan requires two cuts.
Dub Name Change: Not a name, but terminology. 3D Maneuvering Gear is called Omni-Directional Mobility Gear. It's the exact same thing, but easier to match the lip flaps for the dub.
Due to the Dead: The Survey Corps generally tries to recover the bodies of any of their fallen comrades when they're able to, or whatever's left of it anyway, such as in the first episode where the only thing they recovered from a fallen soldier was his hand. In Episode 22, Commander Erwin tries to get accountability for all of his soldiers, whether dead or alive, and lists the ones they're unable to find as missing in action, either due to Never Found the Body, or more likely, they were eaten by a Titan. Then when a Titan is on the verge of catching up to the remaining Survey Corps soldiers, they are forced to dump the bodies behind to lighten the load and enable an escape. However, none of them are happy about doing it, particularly as the Titan chasing them ignores the bodies, and in some cases, steps on them in its pursuit.
Levi, perhaps recognising the impracticality of always retrieving the body, collects the Survey Corps patches of fallen comrades.
Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: Mikasa displays this in Episode 7, shortly after Armin tells her Eren died. Even when she tries to calm him down and tries to encourage the other trainees, her eyes retain this look.
Dumb Muscle: The Titans are very strong, but not very bright.
Horrifyingly averted with the Titan Shifters, who show exactly how much damage someone with the strength of a Titan and the intelligence of a human can do.
Early-Bird Cameo: The second episode of the anime adds a few blink-and-you'll miss it cameos for some of Eren's comrades. A young Annie appears as a refugee waiting in the bread line, while a young Reiner and Bertolt are glimpsed in the crowd during the announcement of the operation to reclaim Wall Maria.
Eaten Alive: The threat facing any human who come into contact with a Titan.
Effortless Amazonian Lift: Mikasa, who is stated to be physically stronger than most characters, does this to Eren in the first volume to break up his fight with Jean.
Emotionless Girl: Annie. It's not that she can't have emotions, she just doesn't care about the world around her. When she gets angry, she looks creepier.note Never bully Annie. Ever. Her character development is partially revealed in small bits of backstory.
Enfant Terrible: Eren was an utterly terrifying child, killing two grown men at the age of eight and justifying it by stating they were "animals" that simply happened to look like people. While he did it to rescue Mikasa, the brutality of the killings horrify the adults responding to the scene and it's used against him seven years later, during his court martial.
Also, Bertolt Hoover was eleven when he began his mission of genocide against the human race by kicking a hole in Wall Maria.
Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Or at least True Companions. Armin managed to distract and enrage Bertolt and Reiner by lying to them that Annie was undergoing constant torture after being captured. That and, Reiner had earlier called Bertolt out for having feelings for Annie.
Evil Counterpart: The Hot-Blooded guy that is a physical powerhouse, his meek but highly effective childhood friend, and the Emotionless Girl that is the best fighter? We're not talking about Eren, Armin, and Mikasa.
Evil Is Bigger: Regular Titans are anywhere from 5 to 15 meters tall with the Colossal Titan dwarfing everyone at 60 meters.
Evil Is Burning Hot: Titans are noted to have an abnormally high body temperature, such that victims that survived being Eaten Alive are boiled in their stomach. The Colossal Titan takes this a step further, constantly emitting clouds of steam from its body and possessing the ability to use them as a defensive mechanism. The steam's temperature also helps to keep attackers at bay.
There is Fridge Brilliance to this: large animals like elephants have higher average body temperatures than humans and have special adaptations to cool themselves, so it's no surprise the enormous Titans run hot.
Evolving Credits: During the Opening song in the first episode, The Emblem of Wall Maria is shown with bright, clear colors. By Episode 4, the emblem is now shown with duller and darker colors. This seems to be an error, however, since the Blu-Ray releases of every episode include the later version.
Exact Eavesdropping: The members of the Wall Cult seem to have an issue with people hearing conversations that shouldn't be heard by outsiders. One incident leads to Ymir learning about Krista and joining the military to find her, while another results in Annie, Reiner, and Bertolt learning about Krista's true identity as well.
Expy: Erwin is one for Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias from Watchmen. The physical similarity was outright stated by Word of God, but the two also have the same motivations. Levi was based on the character Rorschach from the same series, but only in appearance and not personality.
The Extremist Was Right: Played with. The various arguments given by the opposition in Eren's trial are seen as paranoid ravings, since Eren actually helped them against the Titans with his transformation into a Titan himself. But Erwin agrees with them that there could be other Shifters, and there are.
Eye Catch: In the anime, some information pops up during these. However, its difficult to read it all unless you pause it first.
Eye Scream: In general this is a valid tactic to momentarily disable Titans if soldiers are unable to just go for their weak point. It becomes almost essential later on to deprive the more deadly Titans of their eyesight.
In Episode 20, the Female Titan has a hook stuck in her eye. The camera makes sure to focus on her face while Levi is taunting her, so that it's easily seen.
Done to the Female Titan once more when Levi engages her. He slices up her arm to prevent her from using it then stabs both blades into her eyes with EXTREME prejudice.
Happens again to the Female Titan in Episode 25, when Eren starts squeezing her head so hard that her eyes bulge out, before finally crushing her skull with his bare hands.
Faking the Dead: In Episode 17, while Armin, Reiner, and Jean are fighting the Female Titan, she knocks Armin off his horse. She then seems to be gaining the upper hand in the battle when Jean is unable to strike at the back of her neck, until Armin yells at Jean to avenge his best friend's death, meaning Eren, which this Titan killed earlier. While he is clearly lying, the Female Titan does stop attacking for the moment, giving Jean enough time to escape.
False Flag Operation: Armin, thinking out loud, suggests causing a disaster and blaming it on either the Monarchy or the Brigade in order to get the populace as a whole to regard the Survey Corps as their saviors. He then looks up to the shocked and horrified faces of his comrades. He claims he was just joking. And the series doesn't like to leave Chekhov hanging: shortly afterward, the Brigade murders Edward Reebs and tries to blame it on the Survey Corps.
False Friend: Annie, Reiner, and Bertolt to the other members of the 104th. Even though they begin to care about them, all three are still carrying out their mission against humanity.
Big Bad Friend: Annie, Reiner, and Bertolt are this to Eren in particular. All three are his dear friends, and desperately want to capture him (or bring him over to their side) while being the very Titans responsible for his greatest losses.
Fan Disservice: The Female Titan has a great figure and is obviously athletic. How obvious? Well, it's hard to ignore all those toned muscles, considering there is no skin to cover them.
In Episode 20, ZoŽ has a bunch of grappling hooks shot into the Female Titan's butt even though no more are needed to detain it. The camera focuses on it in a sort of Male Gaze look on it.
In Chapter 53, Eren is shown shirtless to the joy of many. However, his eyes and overall flesh of his face has been torn out, leaving only his bleeding skull.
Fanservice: Effectively zero in actual story, men and women alike are (almost) never less then totally fully clothed including long sleeves. Side material contains some and shows a preference for showing Mikasa in workout clothes.
Faux Affably Evil: The Beast Titan politely asks Mike about his equipment and removes it without harming him. He then proceeds to tell the other Titans that they may have their way with him, since he's finished with his business.
Feed the Mole: Erwin's secondary objective of the 57th expedition is to figure out who infiltrated the Survey Corps and is helping the Female Titan by feeding everyone different information on Eren's location. The primary objective is actually capturing said Female Titan and the human within it.
Feel No Pain: The Titans don't react at all to body parts being blown or cut off. Although one Titan does cry out and clutch at its face when stabbed in both eyes, but it is unclear if it was reacting out of pain, or at the sudden loss of its eyesight, or perhaps was just an oddity altogether.
Fighting Fingerprint: Annie's ruthlessly efficient fighting style is unique. Because of it, Armin uses it as evidence that she is the Female Titan, and after she taught it to Eren, he manages to pull one over Reiner in their fight. Eren lost the first fight against the Female Titan because he recognized her fighting style and realized she was Annie, though he remained in denial afterwards.
Filler: Despite compressing quite a bit of manga into 25 episodes, some anime-original content is employed to maintain the pace of each episodes, such as more character interaction within the 104th's top ten members. One specific example is the Dieter sidestory, which happens as they Survey Corps heads back from the 57th Expedition Beyond the Walls.
Filming For Easy Dub: The initial broadcast of the show in Japan was plagued with problems. The studio apparently didn't have enough animators to finish episodes with the schedule they were given, so they really cut corners during the first half of the show. There are lots of instances where you may hear something epic happening but the camera is zoomed in on someone's face or zoomed out on scenery. It got especially bad around episodes 10 - 13, with many still images and camera trickery being employed. Fortunately, the 13.5 Recap Episode seemed to give the studio enough time to get their act together.
Final Solution: The original goal of the Titan attacks. It seems to have been abandoned in favor of capturing Eren, at least according to Reiner.
Fingore: Happens to the Female Titan in Episode 25, when she is attempting to escape Eren's wrath by trying to climb the Wall. Then Mikasa shows up and slices her fingers off, causing her to fall down.
The Lancer: Oluo is most prone to arguing and complaining.
The Big Guy: Gunter is the largest and most reserved man in the group.
The Smart Guy: Eld's unique trait is his sharp memory. He coordinates the group's combat strategies.
The Chick: Petra heads off arguments and tries hardest to make Eren feel welcome.
The Sixth Ranger: Eren, although he's more of a guest rather than a true member.
Flare Gun: An important part of the Trost counteroffensive plan, Brzenska fires colored flares to let command know if they succeeded in sealing off the Wall or not. Also comes up later on in Erwin's travel formation: soldiers that encounter Titans fire flares and everyone that sees the flare subsequently fires, creating a chain reaction that lets everyone know where they are. This acts like a crude "radar" system that lets Erwin maneuver the formation around clusters of Titans and minimize casualties. One soldier fires it directly at the Female Titan to draw her attention. Later on Levi fires a special round (a sound blast) since this signal is far too important to risk not being noticed in the forest they're in.
For Doom the Bell Tolls: The anime provides a chilling example in the score. It might as well be the punctuation mark on the end of hope. The first episode also pointedly has the church bell ringing when the front gate opens, not long before the Colossal Titan appears. At least the second time around, the bells signal for civilians to evacuate and they successfully do though the connotations are still the same.
Foreshadowing: Very subtle, but it's there. You'll have to read between the lines with Reiner, Bertolt, and Annie. The same with Eren's Titan mode, when the Female Titan fights, it use the same moves that Eren used in an earlier chapter.
In Episode 1 of the anime only, child Mikasa is shown hauling about twice as much wood as Eren, hinting at her vastly superior strength.
A particular subtle and brilliant example occurs in Chapter 15. The recruits gather around Eren to ask him about the Titans, including the legendary Colossal Titan and the Armored Titan. As he is describing each, the panels focus on first Bertolt and then Reiner, as he describes their Titan forms. This is much more subtle in the anime; the camera barely catches Bertolt in the bottom of the screen during part of the description of the Colossal Titan, returns to Eren, then shifts to a shot of Reiner from behind during the description of the Armored Titan.
Another subtle one that's likely to go over many heads early on: during training Eren falters during 3DMG training and injures his head badly enough to need bandaging. He recovers in one night (extremely fast) and can be seen with small amounts of steam leaving his head, though it's easily mistaken for a visual indication of his embarrassment and frustration at failing at something so basic.
During the Battle of Trost, there are two instances of subtle foreshadowing regarding the Titan Shifter nature of Annie, Bertolt, and Reiner: the first being the aforementioned persons being unusually interested in finding out more about the Rogue Titan and making use of it, instead of wanting to get away from it like everyone else and the second being the same individuals immediately rushing toward the site of Eren's partial transformation instead of being stunned by the sudden sound, hinting that they are familiar with the tell-tale signs of Titan Shifting.
After the Battle of Trost, when the recruits are retrieving the bodies of the fallen/eaten comrades, the usually stoic detached Annie seemingly breaks and starts apologizing to the corpses. This becomes a lot less about survivors guilt after you realize she's a Titan spy..
Also, in the anime, when the Colossal Titan appears there's a brief flash of lightning before The Reveal. It hints at its true nature of being a Titan Shifter.
The second end credits of the anime has a particularly subtle one. We see the main characters standing on either side of a wall that separates them into groups of two. Considering that Reiner, Ymir, Annie and Bertolt are Titan Shifters, this can be seen as an intentional foreshadowing to their alliances. Krista, on the other hand, while not being a Titan Shifter, is also hiding her true identity, just as the other four.
There's more: watch the fight sequence after Titan Eren breaks the Wall. None of them participates, rather tellingly.
The murals painted on the Wall that divides the two groups of recruits are full of visual cues about some of the subtler hints we've gotten on the world and spoilers from the manga, especially a paper-doll-like chain of humanoid figures that represents the Titans that serve as the foundation for the Wall.
During the ceremony where the recruits choose their military branch, several recruits agonize internally about the decision. We don't get to see the perspective of Annie, Bertolt, Reiner, Ymir, or Krista since their thoughts would give too much away.
A brief chapter shows Ilse Langnar, a member of the Survey Corps writing her last moments in her diary as she finds a Titan who talks to her, calling her "Ymir-Sama" before realizing its mistake and eating her. Her diary is later found by Levi and Hange. When Hange hears that name 20 chapters later, she is visibly shocked, hinting at Ymir's true nature.
When Eren saves Mikasa from her abductors, his command to FIGHT! triggers a visually distinct scene in the anime of her nervous impulses. When Eren unlocks his Coordinate ability much later on, he triggers a similar reaction in the Titan Shifters. It has been implied that Eren's coordinate ability can also be used to command humans.
Fragile Speedster: The soldiers are all supposed to be this, having to be light and fast in order to pull off the gymnastics demanded by Titan slaying. With the right moves, they can inflict serious damage on a Titan, but one hit from a Titan and they're down.
The Rogue Titan and the Dancing Titan by Human Titan standards. The other three have multiple defense mechanisms in addition to their strength; Eren either doesn't have or hasn't learned how to generate additional defenses and relies on being a berserker in combat while Ymir isn't nearly as strong as the rest but she's so agile it doesn't matter most of the time.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the anime, during the Eye Catch, some information is gradually displayed, filling viewers in on various information, such as the three different Walls. However, it passes after a few seconds, so it's difficult to read unless you pause it first.