This series is an ode to the struggle for survival against insurmountable odds. With the high body count of characters we have come to know and like, it's little wonder the series is full of feels.
Warning: Spoilers Off applies to these pages. Please proceed at your own risk.
"To You, in 2000 Years: The Fall of Shiganshina, Part 1"
- When the Survey Corps came back, and the mother of Moses is given her son's remains. One gnawed arm. The commanding officer remains solemn but calm when the mother asks for her son. But then it quickly shatters when she breaks down and begs him to tell her that her son's death at least helped their cause. His gut reaction is to say yes to comfort her, but he immediately confesses that the excursion was a complete failure, blaming his own incompetence for the lives lost, and saying all of their missions in the past hundred years have been a failure, losing men with no results. It really sets the tone of the series.
- After Carla spends her last few minutes alive urging Eren and Mikasa to leave her behind before all three of them get eaten by the oncoming Titan, she first seems relieved that at least her children will be safe as Hannes carries them away. Suddenly though, she has a flashback to how happy they were as a family. Her last tearful words before the Smiling Titan picks her up are "...Don't leave me." She covers her mouth so that the children can't hear.
- Before Eren and Mikasa find the house, Eren tries to convince himself that their house is fine and it's still in one piece. Imagine his horror when he sees it destroyed, with his mother trapped under the rubble.
- Eren screaming to Hannes that the woman who bore him is still in peril as he manhandles him away from his attempt to save Carla. Mikasa cannot bear to watch her adoptive mother get devoured but Eren sees every last second. At first screaming to the heavens for the Titan to stop then devolving into a Thousand-Yard Stare as she's broken in its grip like a toy and chomped in half.
"That Day: The Fall of Shiganshina, Part 2"
- Hannes' anguished admission that he lacked the courage to face the Smiling Titan, reducing himself and Eren to a shared bout of Inelegant Blubbering.
- Eren grieving in agony over his penultimate interaction with his mother. Where they argued over his desire to join the Survey Corps and in his foolish anger at her concern, he lashed out and called her someone who only wanted to live as livestock. Her death ruined Eren's last chance to reconcile with her.
- Armin crying over his grandfather's death, who was the only one looking after him as well as Eren and Mikasa. In order to solve a food shortage crisis, the central government drafted 250,000 refugees, including Armin's grandfather, to reclaim Wall Maria from the Titans. Only a hundred people survived. The last thing that he gave to Armin before he departed was his straw hat, and we see Armin crying into it after receiving news that he did not survive the campaign.
- Even worse, is that the true purpose of the campaign was to ease the food shortage. All those people were effectively sacrificed for the rest of humanity, to prevent the entire population from starving.
"First Battle: The Struggle for Trost, Part 1"
- Eren's group being brutally massacred by the Titans one after the other. Made all the worse by how they're starting to get excited and turn it into a competition before an Abnormal swallows Thomas whole, and then the others just keep being caught by Titans. Eren loses his leg and Armin stands and watches in horror as he wonders why he can't move.
"The World the Girl Saw: The Struggle for Trost, Part 2"
- Hannah and Franz, whom Eren said seemed like a couple. In the Battle of Trost, Hannah is shown giving CPR to Franz. Armin finds her, pauses with a solemn look on his face, and tells her to stop. The panel pans out and we see Franz cut in half. And Hannah just keeps on trying to resuscitate him...
- The scene is much more powerful in the anime — you can hear Hannah's panic and see her slowly crumbling mental state, as well as an already distraught Armin trying to get Hannah to see what had happened.
- In the flashback to Mikasa's past, she was living happily with her parents before they were killed right in front her and she was kidnapped. After she was saved, she brokenly whispers how, "I need to go home, where should I go? Now I have nowhere, nowhere left to go."
"Small Blade: The Struggle for Trost, Part 3"
- One of the soldiers trapped in a building surrounded by Titans decides it is better to die than be eaten, and kills himself. While this is upsetting by itself (especially for the people with him), it's made even worse by the fact that just a little while afterwards, the other trainees make it to the building to help them, and Mikasa, Connie, and Armin bring Titan Eren with them to take out all the Titans — meaning that if he had waited a bit longer, he would have been saved.
- Even worse, the guy seemed to have a small smile on his face before he stuffs the gun into his mouth.
- Mikasa's struggle, which doubles as an Awesome Moment. Believing Eren's dead, she feels she has nothing left to live for, and resigns herself to be eaten by the Titans. However, her body moves on its own, and she realizes she wants to keep on living just to treasure Eren's memory. The beautiful music from "Counter Attack Mankind", the teary VO performance and great visuals seal the deal for one of the most memorable moments in the anime.
- Armin and Mikasa have the exact same reaction to Eren being devoured. They lose control of their bodies; the difference is that Armin is too horrified by the grim reality of what he knows is happening to move; Mikasa is so detached she can't suppress her survival instinct and razor-sharp reflexes enough to let herself be eaten. It serves both as an elegant illustration of their character types, and as a heartbreaking show of closeness.
"I Can Hear His Heartbeat: The Struggle for Trost, Part 4"
- Mikasa and Armin's reactions to finding Eren alive. Especially when Mikasa hears Eren's heart beating and reminds us all how young she really is.
"Whereabouts of His Left Arm: The Struggle for Trost, Part 5"
- While Eren is in the Titan's stomach, he agonises over the losses in his life and why they have to have everything taken from them. Cue flashback of Eren as a child, teasing his mother as she does the laundry and making her laugh unrestrainedly in joy, and you can hear his voice trembling with despair and fury as he whispers "mama..." Remembering Carla's eyes filled with such tender love for him. And the injustice of her death WILL. NOT. STAND. As Eren breaks down and weeps while "Vogel im Käfig" reaches its heartstring-pulling crescendo.Eren Jaeger: I REFUSE — TO DIE LIKE THIS!! I'LL DRIVE THEM OUT! EVERY LAST ONE! WITH... MY OWN TWO HANDS! (cue rebirth as a Titan)
"Wound: The Struggle for Trost, Part 8"
- After Eren can't control his Titan form and it appears that the mission has failed Mitabi says that they should fall back, but Ian refuses to, still wanting to attempt to carry out the operation despite all evidence that it will fail. Why? Because the situation Humanity is in is so bad that throwing thousands of lives away at opportunities that have a slim chance of working at the very best is a practical option. It says a lot about the conflict with the Titans.
"Primal Desire: The Struggle for Trost, Part 9"
- The entire scene where Eren carries the boulder to plug the breach in Trost. Mitabi, who didn't trust Eren's powers in the least before, dies when he successfully distracts the Titans with his squad so that Eren could go past them, fully aware that it would likely kill him. Numerous Garrison soldiers die horribly while protecting Eren as well. Ian leaps inside a Titan's mouth to rescue a comrade, he succeeds but is devoured in the process, yet he still screams encouragements at Mikasa as the Titan's teeth decapitate him. Then Eren finally plugs the breach, and Rico, who has shown herself as quite cold and stoic before, tearfully says that her comrades didn't die in vain. All while "Call Your Name" is playing in the background.
- When Jean discovers the body of his best friend, Marco during the clean-up operation in Trost. His vacant stare and the quiet way he pleads for someone to tell him what happened are heartbreaking enough, but the medical officer is correct when she tells him there's no time to mourn and she is relieved that at least this body can be identified.
- Related to the above: Annie's whispered apologies to the mangled corpse of an unnamed soldier, during the same clean-up operation. She repeats it in shock, until Reiner speaks to her and reminds her that apologising won't accomplish anything. All they can do is mourn and then move on. That they were the ones responsible doesn't make it any less heartbreaking, as it's clear just how horrified they are over the reality of their actions.
"Special Operations Squad: Eve of the Counter-attack, Part 2"
- Just as Jean is deciding which regiment he's joining at the Meaningful Funeral, he imagines seeing Marco, echoing his opinion that he'd make an excellent leader. As if that isn't heartbreaking enough, as soon as Jean hypes himself up enough to declare his change of heart to join the Survey Corps, he bursts into Tears of Fear. Major tearjerker there.
- The English dub makes both scenes just as heartbreaking as the Japanese version. Mike McFarland really nails Jean's agonised declaration to join the Survey Corps and his breakdown right afterwards.
"What Needs to be Done Now: Eve of the Counter-attack, Part 3"
- Erwin Smith has just stated the depressing state of affairs and made his brutally honest speech. After hearing this the cadets mutter amongst themselves briefly and then... they walk away. The members of the 104th Cadet Corps, Jean, Sasha and Connie, specifically, can only watch wordlessly as their comrades walk past them, like a rushing river, and it's all they can do not to get pulled along with the current. And their inner dialogue is absolutely Heartbreaking:Jean: Damn it. Come on, I've already decided. Stop making me feel like such a fool!
Sasha: If I don't leave now... I'll have to go through it all again.
Connie: I left my village. The Military Police were the whole point. I wanted Mom to be proud. I wanted to be treated right. Everyone respects them, period.
Jean: But there's no going back. Not after you've seen it.
Sasha: Seen them up close and...
Connie: Seen how they eat people...
- This cuts to a horrifying image of Jean and the rest of of the 104th getting Eaten Alive by Titans, which then cuts to Jean himself delivering a scream of sheer anguish to the sky. Then after a brief Time Lapse, we cut back to the Amphitheatre and it's practically empty. Only the top ten members of the 104th along with Armin, Ymir, and a few others are still there. Mixes with Heartwarming, because they all stuck together in the end.
- When Eren finally learns Marco died, with nobody there to witness and tend to him as he was dying in pain. And on top of that, he sees Marco's spirit, too, wearing the Wings of Freedom cloak as they do, as if saying he'll always be by his friends' side.
"Erwin Smith: The 57th Exterior Scouting Mission, Part 4"
- The beginning of Eren's return home after his first mission with the Survey Corps in the anime. At first the scene seems so light-hearted and triumphant, as he learns about how several of the members of the elite Levi Squadron actually pissed themselves on their first mission. Gunther gets everyone to finally calm down, but not without adding that he in fact did not piss himself. And then the infiltrator shows up and kills him...
"Crushing Blow: The 57th Exterior Scouting Mission, Part 5"
- And then in the next episode the rest of the squad engages the Female Titan. At first they seem to be on the winning hand, but then Eren remembers Levi's words, emphasized by Vogel im Käfig playing in the background. Before he can aid them, all of them are killed.
- From Eld dying before being able to realize what is going on, to Petra's incomprehension of the situation in her final moments and Oluo's horrified expression as he witnesses her die. The worst part of it all? Eren watches it all unfold in front of his very eyes, the very people who accepted him among their ranks and asked for his trust, gone, and he can only scream in horror. As the music grows louder, he completely loses it and finally transforms into his Titan form once more.Eren: I'm gonna... I'm gonna... KILL YOU!
- According to Isayama's notes on drawing this part, when hearing Titan!Eren approaching, Annie was thinking "Finally. Eren is coming. I can finally go home!"
- And then we have Levi dashing through the trees, silently passing by the bodies/remains of his comrades. What makes the scene extra powerful is that his expression is deliberately obscured until he's found every one of them to be dead. The dead look on his face is absolutely heart-breaking. The whole scene is made even worse by the fact that beforehand Levi had explained to Eren that sacrificing a potentially large number of lives in the progress of combating Titans had become a normality for the Survey Corps, advising him to not let it affect him too much.
- Eren gets eaten... again... just as Mikasa arrives to see it.
"Defeated: The 57th Exterior Scouting Mission, Part 6"
This entry deals with the covert operation to smoke out the Female Titan in the interior of Wall Sina at the District of Stohess.
- Despite everything the Female Titan did, it's still hard not to feel the tiniest bit sad when she cries. The fact that the human pilot crying causes the Titan to cry as well overall has a tragic feel to it. Plus, one interpretation of the tears is Annie feeling she murdered all those people for nothing, and overall failed to return to her father.
- The montage of the loved ones hearing the soldiers are returning, eager to see Eld, Oluo, and Gunther come home safely when none of them survived. The audience gets a slap to the face along the lines of "In-Universe they weren't just soldiers, they were people with hopes and dreams". Thank goodness everyone was spared the scene where some poor bastard had to actually break it to them that their beloved fiancée/sibling/(grand)child didn't make it back.
- Jean and Armin discussing their eventual deaths, while loading bodies onto carts. Connie and Sasha discussing dying, and whether it's right to celebrate being alive when others died.
- Levi looking over the wrapped bodies of his squad.
- When they're tossing the bodies of the cart, it focuses on Levi's reaction alone when he sees Petra's body flung out, Slow Motion style and with a heartbreaking score in the background. That, coupled with his initial reaction to finding her dead, and later having cut off a piece of her coat to keep as a memory, only serves to imply that her feelings for him were returned. It just makes it even worse.
- It should be noted that the possibility of there having been any romantic feelings between these two characters, and whether it actually was Petra's crest that Levi cut off or not has never been confirmed and is entirely left open for interpretation.
- Dieter and his failed mission to reclaim the body of his fallen friend. This forces the abandoning of all the retrieved bodies in order to escape a horde of Titans. Levi having to declare his squad's bodies are "nothing special", and then watching Petra's body be tossed away. Later, he comforts Dieter by giving him a patch from a uniform, telling him it belonged to his friend. It was actually one he took from the uniform of one of his squad's members.
- Watching the Survey Corps return is in general, a pretty depressing scene. Having to return from a failed mission and the middle of seeing so much death and destruction only to meet further heckling from the rest of the town upon their return, it is obvious how little the townspeople care for or can even begin to understand the horror the Survey Corps have seen. All the thousand-yard stares, Eren's sobbing, Petra's father not knowing she is dead, Erwin's steely demeanour making it obvious that he's used to this behaviour, all of it is just heartbreaking.
- Petra's father approaching Levi to thank him for taking care of his daughter, adding that Petra would occasionally send him letters and had written to him about having been picked for Levi's squad, boasting about how she'd give it her all to live up to his expectations. Her father then says Petra is too young for marriage. In response, Levi's face completely freezes over. Quite a huge deal for someone who could be the living embodiment of bluntness and/or indifference normally.
- When Eren wakes up, you can hear the despair in his voice. You can see he feels like a failure for letting the Female Titan get away, being unable to save anyone and having Mikasa rescue him again.
- Eren seeing two children admiring the Survey Corps like he did when he was younger. In fact, they're the very same kids who were admiring them as they were about to leave. The ones that Eren showed his first real, genuine, heartfelt smile at. He breaks down crying, but covers his mouth so that no one hears him. And all Mikasa can do is squeeze his hand in a helpless attempt to comfort him.
"Smile: Assault on Stohess, Part 1"
- Annie sadly telling Marlow that an ordinary person is all she wants to be, right after they talk about how Marlow is an ordinary person who wants to do something better, but is being swept away in the sheer volume of people who aren't willing to change.
- Eren's great distress and denial over Annie being the Female Titan. He acts completely desperate for her to prove her innocence and Mikasa has to physically hold him back from running to her when the hidden Survey Corps members ambushes her. Coming from someone who hate Titans and 'bad people' as much as he does, it really goes to show how deeply he respected her and considered her a friend.Eren Jaeger: Annie, please! You've taken this joke far enough! Just tell us this is some kind of horrible prank! It's not too late! Come on, we'll understand. Come down, let's talk! You can prove to us that we're mistaken by walking down these stairs! Prove we're wrong to accuse you!Annie Leonhart: (deathly calm) We both know I can't. Like I told you, I don't have the constitution for it.Eren: (wavering) Annie, stop! We're talking about a matter of life and death!Armin Arlelt: Work with us, Annie! We can reason this out like human beings!
- Annie is described by Word of God as a "normal girl forced to do horrible things", and her laughing in the anime when revealed the result of all her "fear, shyness, loneliness and guilt" having a "relieved" outlet, cementing her Tragic Villain status.
"Wall: Assault on Stohess, Part 3"
- The brief shot of a little girl walking through the ruined streets of Stohess, covered in blood with tears pouring down her face. If the expression on that girl's face doesn't make you want to hug her, then you don't have a soul.
- Annie's memories of her father resulting in Broken Tears when she's about to be captured. In the anime, there's the addition of Titan!Eren snapping out of his rage when he sees her crying, and he's left staring at her in shock (and possibly pity).
- Mike's death, and of course, it's not the heroic send off Humanity's second strongest soldier deserves. Right after getting his gear stolen by the Beast Titan, he tries to make a valiant stand, only to completely lose his nerve when the Beast Titan casually orders four Titans to eat him. The last we see of Mike, a man who was shown to keep ice cool in the face of death much like Erwin, is instead shattered into a pathetic, wailing child as he tries to flee helplessly, even begging the Titans for his life when he's caught, before shrieking hideous death throes as he's ripped apart and Eaten Alive.
- The anime adds another layer of tragedy as, until he attempted to show some dignity, the Beast Titan seemed content to leave him alone, making his death pointless in addition to cruel.
"Home / Southwestward"
- Connie discovering what remains of his village and the slow, horrible realization that something is very wrong. The way in which everyone desperately attempts to present him with false hope is heartbreaking enough, without the bonus implications that all the Titans they've encountered so far are/were his family and friends.
- Reiner attempting to pitch himself out of a window to take a Titan with him, even if he doesn't actually take the plunge. If he'd actually done it, he'd have been forced to either reveal himself as the Armoured Titan, or actually die in the fall. He's Becoming the Mask; given Ymir and Christa's conversation about choosing to die an unnecessary but heroic death so that you'll be remembered well, it's even more heartbreaking in retrospect. Despite being a Titan Shifter, some part of Reiner really does want to be true to the friends he's made among humans.
- Gelgar not getting his last drink. It's just such a small request next to miraculous rescue from death by crushing or dismemberment, but the World doesn't give two shits as he's denied even that.
- Also Gelgar's concussion means he doesn't even think of getting away from the breach in the tower, rendering Nanaba's sacrifice pointless.
- The anime added some extra tragic layers for Nanaba's death: where she's in such pain from her severed leg that she goes into shock, screaming and pleading to her non-present father that she won't do it again. Which means that she was likely abused by him horrifically if that was the trauma her final moments brought to the forefront before the Titan chomps her head off.
- Eren's sob of grief as he's seized upon by the traitors. His betrayers are his brothers-in-arms, Reiner and Bertholdt. This additionally, makes the past happy scenes with the two of them much harsher in hindsight...
- Mikasa had badly wounded Reiner and Bertholdt, but wonders why she didn't go all the way by cutting their heads off. She then realizes she might have briefly regretted hurting her former friends when seeing their panicked faces as she bore down on them, which slowed her blades a fraction enough to grievously injure but not decapitate.
- Armin is also stricken when Hange orders Reiner and Bertholdt killed on sight and to forego any pacification. He's known them too well, for too long to even process such an order in his mind.
- Eren's dazed, uncomprehending misery when Reiner floors him. Yuki really sells Eren's utter despair of a betrayal at the hands of a man he idolised.Eren Jaeger: You shit... You giant piece of shit... And here you wouldn't shut up about a soldier's duty. During close combat training, were you always holding back on me? You're so strong it's ridiculous... I can't even move an inch of my body. I always thought you were a stand-up guy. Someone who remained calm, regardless of the situation. A guy who put your comrades ahead of yourself. And I... To think at one time I wished... To be as strong as you someday.
- The English Dub has Eren say this line, just to twist the knife even further as he lies in the dust at Reiner's mercy:Eren Jaeger: Damn you, Reiner... I'd have given anything in the world to be half as strong as you. You were my hero...
- Not even all of Eren's righteous fury can endow him with enough strength to stop Reiner in his tracks. Even when he dehumanizes his enemy to the level of vermin. For all our admiration of Eren's determination, it's quite clear that all the moral rightness in the world doesn't exclude you from the enemy's own, (perhaps equally valid) motivations. Conviction will do nothing without being backed by a solid plan and this is a fault we all must learn to overcome.
- Mikasa wakes up after the Colossal Titan fell on Eren only to find out everyone was knocked out by the attack and Reiner and Bertholdt were able to kidnap Eren and Ymir, five hours ago. Mikasa crumbles in loss and sorrow, almost weeping into her scarf about how she never gets what she wants, to simply be with Eren.
- Mikasa looking so vulnerable drives home just how human she really is. No matter how strong, or stoic she is during life threatening circumstances, deep down she's still a traumatised girl scared of losing what little family she has left. She hasn't been this despondent since the death of her parents. We even see how the scarf Eren gave her, which she has treasured for years, seems to help her separation anxiety.
- Hannes getting all misty-eyed over the good-old-days before Wall Maria fell and even joining the Corps' effort to rescue Eren. He's just that determined to bring the Shiganshina Trio back together again. He also makes Armin and Mikasa realise why they love Eren so much; he will never give up on them and will fight for his companions even if they don't want him to.
- Reiner's crushing guilt over his actions causing him to fall into dissociative episodes and suppress his memories, fleeing into the false identity of a Wallian soldier to escape. He briefly lapses back into this persona, and is genuinely confused at Eren's hostile response to him. For bonus tears, we also learn that this whole time Bertholdt has been helplessly watching his best friend go insane, and as a result they were unable to share any kind of emotional connection.
- This Sanity Slippage is implied to originate from when Reiner, aided by Bert and Annie: abandoned Marco to his death during the battle of Trost by taking his gear. Reiner eve8n starts suffering a panic-attack from the remembrance. To see such an old reliable friend be exposed for a conniving murderer because of the mandates of his mission is tragedy at its bitterest.
- Eren breaking all ties with the men he cherished as bigger brothers; vowing that he will slaughter them in the most excruciating way possible with a demented gleam in his eye. It is killing his soul to say this and he knows it. Reiner can only gnash his teeth at a situation so far out of his control while Bert seems to be silently resigned to just such an eventuality.
- Ymir demanding to see Christa while on the verge of tears, because she's certain that it will be her last chance. And talking about how much it meant to her that Christa could smile for her, even knowing what kind of horrible person she considers herself to be.
- Ymir's entire backstory. She was a homeless child in a middle-eastern ghetto, abandoned so early by her parents that she didn't even know her own name. She was taken in by a con-man and passed off as a religious figure of great significance, called Ymir, which allowed him to extract money from people who worshipped her. She had no idea who "Ymir" even was, but went along with it because she was fed and cared for and she made people happy. When military forces raided the cult, the con artist desperately blamed her for the whole deception, and she accidentally condemns herself and her followers with her own mouth while saying what she thinks would save them. She was dragged through the streets and stoned from head to toe, before ultimately being turned into a Mindless Titan. Throughout the scene the look of bewildered horror and utter lost shattered innocence on her face is heartbreaking.
- Ymir almost weeping over her manipulation to convince Historia to come with her and the traitors succeeding. She can't believe she deserves to have the loyalty and love of one whom she considers a much better person than her.
- Jean, Sasha and Connie all gently touching Reiner's Armoured Titan hands as they try to talk Bertholdt and Reiner down by reminding them of how they're all True Companions and promised to grow old together and meet up for drinks one peaceful afternoon. We can't see if Reiner even hears them in his shell, but Bertholdt diminishes under every verbal blow, the weight of his treachery and the murders he's committed chipping away at his composure to reveal the human wreckage underneath.
- And on top of that, the boys mention that they knew Bertholdt's sleeping patterns so well they joked about predicting the weather by them. There's no better proof that the Shifters' plan put both sides of their conflict in close, vulnerable proximity to each other.
- Bertholdt's Trapped in Villainy confession and plea, revealing that their unseen superiors have leverage over them. Likely in the form of family that will be punished in their place for any failures to achieve their objectives. And that they had always gone too far across the Moral Event Horizon to ever try for redemption.Bertholdt Hoover: Tell me! Who the hell would want to kill people, by their own choice?! Who the hell would like doing this sort of thing?! Do you think I wanted to do this?! Our friends hate and despise us. We've done such terrible things, we deserve to die. Things we'll never be able to take back... But we... just couldn't... come to terms with our sins. The only time we had some respite... was when we pretended to be soldiers. that's not a lie! Conny! Jean! It's true we may have deceived everyone, but it's not all a lie. We really considered you comrades! Neither of us have any right to even apologise. But... Someone... Please... Someone, please... Someone find us!
- "It's no use. I can't. One of you has to do it. One of you has to stain your hands with my blood."
- The flashback of Carla reprimanding Eren for always getting into fights with the local bullies. She tells Eren to be the protector and not the protected regarding Mikasa; positively reinforcing the spark of temperance in her unruly son. And it's obvious that this struck a great chord with Eren in more ways than one. His mother had discerned his ultimate motive so easily; even if Grisha told her the details of Mikasa's orphaning, it's likely he held back on his son's botched rescue to spare his wife's heart. And we can see that even if she did know, Carla is well aware of her son's insecurities and doing her damnedest to steer him onto a constructive path. Of course, it's likely that Eren only realised the extent of his mother's wisdom when he was recovering from the fight against Annie at the start of the season. This baggage comes back to haunt him though in the most traumatic of ways.
- Hannes doing his damnedest to avenge Carla for Eren and Mikasa by fighting the Smiling Titan alone. Only to be cruelly pulled in half by its teeth in a mirror shot of Carla's death.
- To which Eren collapses to his knees and dissolves into near-insanity, howling a laugh of utter despair at history repeating itself before he ebbs into whimpering and hiccuping entreaties to the root of all his pain and sorrow. The mother that was stolen from him. We see that Eren loathes himself for being unable to rescue her; snuffling out how he couldn't and still can't do anything to protect his loved ones; imploring her to forgive him from beyond the grave for his shortcomings and inability to know it was time to grow into a man she could be proud of. There Are No Therapists Indeed.
- Erwin has lost an arm, Armin is ineffectually holding a Titan at bay for the moment with a senseless Jean in his arms, Historia, Connie, Sasha and Ymir take on all comers while the Corps die like flies. And it is in that moment, when it seems that all is lost, Mikasa, unable to fight from her injuries, gladly bestows on Eren the solace he craves. For then, amid all the horror and ended lives, as Titans close in around them — she smiles tenderly at him.
- Mikasa's tearful admission that Eren has stood by her, saved her and showed her love she cannot live without. She's crying Tears of Joy, Eren's cheeks are streaming, astounded at the faith she has in him and though it looks like he's about to reciprocate her romantic proximity... first he has a job to do; taking his feet to stand in front of her and protect her to his last breath. Even with no gear, no Titan Power, he WILL do it with his bare hands as he lets out a heartbreaking scream of pure defiance against insurmountable odds.
- Ymir choosing to leave Historia behind, after everything she'd done for her. After Historia's declaration that they would live for themselves from here on, and swearing that she won't fear anything as long as they're together. After everything, Ymir gently caresses Historia's hair in Titan form and warbles an apology to her, before running off to help Reiner and Bertholdt. Historia's heartbroken expression as they ride off just makes it even worse.
- Having failed in their mission, Reiner and Bertholdt are too exhausted to stop Ymir from fleeing so they urge her to do so. She refuses, expressing that she's grateful to them for saving her from her "eternal nightmare" and stating that she's the only one that can understand their circumstances. They're all people that weren't able to do anything with their own power, and she decides "playing goddess" (the selfless actions she used to criticize Historia for) isn't so bad. Reiner just looks plain exhausted, while Bertholdt alternately apologizes to her and thanks her while crying.
- A small one. But Levi seemingly struggling in his own taciturn way to process the thought that perhaps every Titan he ever killed was an innocent human victim.
- One of the last scenes of the episode is what's left of the Survey Corps, the Wall Garrison and the Military Police retreating into the sunset from the Shifters and Mindless Titans showing the current sorry state of various characters. They may have completed their objective and retrieved Eren but this was a Pyrrhic victory in the truest sense of the word. Everyone has lost something, whether it be a friend, a lover, or even a body part, and nothing will ever be the same. It truly cements that this arc has been one nonstop Wham Episode.
- The devastating symbolism behind Season 3's first opening, Red Swan. With Eren looking to the future of every battle he must still face and losing all his innocence in the process as he ignores the manifestation of his childhood self to look across the ocean. Then we have Levi's child footpad upbringing and all the unresolved issues that torment Erwin and Historia. And we even get that shot of Eren's palm from Chapter 99! Is peace a dream that can never be achieved?!
- While the members of the 104th being made into a new elite squad for Levi is pretty cool, when you stop and think about it for a second, you realise exactly how many Survey Corps veterans have been slaughtered by Annie in the 57th expedition and in the Titan crush to rescue Eren from Reiner and Bertholdt. That the best of Humanity are hanging on by a thread if they must resort to using teenagers who have been with them for less than a year as their elite unit.
- The deaths of two of Hange's squad at the hands of the Human Suppression Taskforce. Keep in mind that they are using modified ODM gear. The fact that this weapon, used by the Survey Corps to kill Titans so humanity can go beyond the Walls, is being used to kill fellow humans in order to keep the truth in the dark is pretty disheartening.
- Even worse, these people joined the Corps thinking that their death would come at the hands of a Titan, yet they are killed by the species they're fighting for and trying to protect, and with the aid of the gear they use no less. Dramatic irony at it's most tragic.
- Levi's expression when his squad-mates are killed with guns. This is a man who is not used to being helpless and a powerful shotgun blast invalidates nearly all his skill and strength; whether to protect his subordinates or himself.
- What's worse, who was leading the attack? Blowing Nifa's head off as Levi stood right next to her and trying to do the same to Levi without a care? Levi's Parental Substitute, Kenny. The complete antipathy in their relationship proves to be pretty depressing all on its own...
Armin Arlelt: Christa, it's —Historia Reiss: No. My name is Historia. Eren. Let's hurry... to the other side of the Wall.Eren Jaeger: You shouldn't stand up yet -Historia: (frantic) Don't worry about me!! We have to get Ymir back! If we don't soon, she's going to go far away!! You're strong, aren't you, Eren?!Eren: W - wait -Historia: Use your Titan powers to do something!! (collapses)Rico Brzenska: Easy, recruit. You're completely exhausted.Eren: ... Even after we were taken by Reiner and Bertholdt... Ymir was worried about you. It seemed like all she could think about was you, and how you'd survive this... But, there's one thing I don't get... In the end... She went with them of her own free will, right?Connie Springer: Yeah, I couldn't believe she'd run off to save those two...Jean Kirstein: She was a mystery to us until the very end...Historia: (distraught) I can't stand it... Why...? She... chose them over me... Sh - she said we'd live for our own sake... together... But now she's left me behind... Traitor... I'll never forgive her.Jean: Christa? What's wrong? This isn't like you.Historia: (laughing hysterically) Christa?! I'm done being Christa. She's gone now! She was a role they gave me in order to keep me alive. Yeah... A girl from a book I read as a child — I... think?
- A great extra scene in the manga's 51st Chapter between Historia, Eren, Armin, Jean and Rico atop Wall Rose is just brimming with pathos.
- Connie is... not happy about the fact that the Titan on his house is patently his mother and in both anime and manga he confides to Eren his desire to avenge his parents and siblings, by killing the Beast Titan. Though at the same time, we can see Connie is morosely grounded enough to recognise that he hasn't the power or drive to realise his revenge and Eren can only stay silent in sympathy for his friend.
- The revival of the Levi squad has Eren sombrely remember the original team of Oluo, Petra, Eld and Gunther, mirrored in his friends.
- Poor Red Shirt Keiji survives for a couple of more minutes than his manga counterpart. But the guy who rooted for Eren against Reiner is worried for his young charge yet again when he sees he's been pacified with a sleeping dart. So he doesn't even see a Central MP fire a blast that takes off half his head.
- When Kenny confronts Levi in the bar, he relates that they both lived in garbage and how finding out about the true vastness of their world had been a huge blow to both him and Levi. It makes one wonder how they dealt with it...
- It's really hard not to feel bad for Jean; he entered the Survey Corps to help protect humanity and now he was deliberately being told to kill when the Human Suppression Task Force is on the Special Ops' trail. It gets even worse as he has one of the MPs at blade-point, yelling at her not to move or else. His mercy lands him on the wrong end of her gun after she knocks his sword out of his hands.
- It's possibly made sadder that the one yelling his name when he's about to get blown away is Mikasa. For all that she appears to barely notice his existence, we see that she does care about him and reacts frantically when it appears he's about to be killed.
- Poor sweet Armin after he shoots the MP soldier who was about to kill Jean. He's in tears and throwing up outside of the squads' hideout and when Mikasa goes to comfort him, he asks if she felt like he did when she killed one of the human traffickers all those years ago. Then, even though he was drowning in guilt and self-recrimination, Armin immediately tries to apologise to Mikasa, knowing that he hit a sensitive topic with her, disregarding his own anguish and trauma. All while Mikasa assures him it's all right. Another mark of the trio's close bond.
- What's even worse is that the whole reason Armin was able to take out that MP soldier was because despite her shooting Keiji from a distance, she hesitated in doing the same to Jean up-close when she could look him in the eyes and not depersonalise her target. Armin lampshades this by remarking that that MP soldier was more moral than he was, as he didn't hesitate to shoot her in the back of the head.
- The MP soldiers' haunted expression in the flashback from Jean's perspective made it even more poignant. Until now, we've seen the rest of the anti-human task force as uncompromising murderers. To see a member of that same group hesitate to pull the trigger when the others before didn't reminds the viewer that even if they are enemies, you can't label any of them as wholly "evil".
- Jean's guilt, justified or not, that his hesitancy forced Armin's hand is also rather sad.
- Levi having to hold back Mikasa from going after Eren and getting herself killed. Mikasa is far from happy about this but accedes while screaming Eren's name fruitlessly. Unable to, once again, save the man who saved her yet again. Think about it. Eren and Armin saved them from the artillery, Armin awoke Eren when he was lost in his Titan form, Levi saved Eren from Annie, Armin and Erwin saved him from Reiner and Bertholdt and Eren saved them all from the Titans. Sadly, apart from their first meeting, Mikasa has only physically helped Eren in the heat of battle and her emotional pain must be quite keen when realising that she can only support but never truly protect him from the World as she promised Carla she would.
- Armin's morose assertion that after they've killed and tortured those who simply oppose them on the grounds of perspective and goals instead of pure survival; they cannot say they are good people anymore.
- In Chapter 55, as Djel's screams echo through the hideout everyone is in, Connie can be seen covering his ears with an expression of anguish. Poor Connie really has been through too much, and he's showing signs of hitting some kind of limit.
- Djel Sannes. Though a monster himself, desperately trying to justify the First Interior Squad's cruelty and suppression as a necessary evil to maintain peace within the Walls. It's clear he only holds onto the delusion to stop himself from going mad. And as he crumbles further his empathy is reawakened, he realises how his countless victims must have felt in the place he finally now occupies. And he implores Levi and Hange to torture him to death as it's all he has done with his miserable blood-stained life.
- The little play Levi and Hange run Ralph through to crush Djel's final vestiges of resistance. His faith in the Military Police's mandate and their supposed Undying Loyalty to the Royal Government. After being duped into believing that his comrade could give in so easily and even scorned his attitudes, the man has nothing left and brokenly spills the beans on the true ruler of the Walls.
- The image of Reeves' son hiding in an ally, having most likely witnessed his father's murder at Kenny's hands, is pitiful.
- Historia's childhood. Her martyr-complex stems entirely from her mother's criminal neglect and it's implied Alma never wished to be close to her daughter because at any time she knew that the both of them could be erased by the First Interior Squad. But still, even knowing that, the fact that she blames her child for her own mistakes is the cherry on top of this tragedy sundae.
- Historia actually taking comfort in the fact that her mother assaulted her because it's the first time she ever touched her. It showcases the monstrous level of stunted social interaction she was subjected to.
- Alma's last horrifically selfish words to her daughter, seconds before her carotid arteries are opened up by Kenny. "If only I'd never had you."
- Djel gladly giving up the mantle of torturer because he knows Hange has taken it in his stead and that there will always be a need for remorseless cruelty to complete ones' goals. This secretly shakes Hange to her core.
- The confirmation from Eren remembering Ymir and Bertholdt's conversation that Titans do not eat for pleasure, but are instinctively trying to devour a Shifter in order to regain their human form.
- Hange is also kind enough to remind us that these are most likely all innocent people who would never have done this otherwise, and have been trapped as Titans for who knows how long. As Hange says, their existence is "another tragedy". Which is sobering considering it comes from Hange, who has gone from hating the Titans as much as Eren, to becoming fascinated with them from a scientific standpoint to now feeling well-founded pity for them.
- In hindsight, people mocking Hange for getting attached to Titans, naming them, and finding it emotionally painful to torture them during experiments. It turns out that she was the only person showing sympathy and affection towards people who are trapped in the form of monsters.
- Reeves' body is discovered and the Survey Corps are blamed for his death. Hearing people sneer at and condemn the Survey Corps when they're the ones who are trying to save them is beyond upsetting.
- Erwin's past. He was curious like every child was and decided to tell his friends his father's theory about how the king could alter the memories of their ancestors. And as a result his father was abducted, tortured and murdered by the First Interior Squad, who passed it off as an accident. You can just tell that he blames himself every minute of every day.Commander Erwin Smith: There was nothing to justify my father's death. He died because of human greed. And the foolishness of his own son.
- In Chapter 56, Erwin demonstrates how he has to do the salute with his left arm now that his right one is gone.
- Hitch angrily denouncing the Survey Corps for the destruction of Stohess during Eren's battle against the Female Titan. They recount the great loss of life, once again hitting the viewer with the fact that hundreds of people died in that attack.
- Somewhat worse is Hitch's genuine sorrow for Annie. She has spent all this time believing that Annie was killed during the battle and that her corpse was too mangled to be recognized, and has only her room-mate's possessions to remind her that she even existed. Her face when Levi explained that Annie was the Female Titan is just heartbreaking, and suggests that she really did think of Annie as a friend.
- Erwin's sorry state after being beaten black and blue by the military's representative on the Central Assembly, his one remaining wrist shackled to the dungeon wall and slumped over in exhaustion from the interrogation. When Nile visits him he asks after Nile's family, uncaring of his own suffering.
- An extra scene in the manga's version of their earlier conversation revealed that Marie, Nile's wife, was a woman they both tried to win the heart of before Erwin's path led him to the Corps.
- Eren remembers the night he gained his powers. And the cost. We see the frightened, tearful Eren forcibly injected with Titan Serum by his father and just before he transforms he is writhing and screaming making it clear how painful it is. It only gets worse after Eren recovers from being a mindless Titan after he's eaten his father. At first there's just a look of confusion which slowly morphs into absolute horror as he wails over Grisha's remains; clutching both his spectacles in one hand and his shoe in the other.
- We see Grisha's death from his own perspective and even see his tear-streaked, terrified face reflected in Eren's Titan eye before he lets himself be consumed. He could use his Titan Power to save himself but he loves his son more than his own life.
- The fact that Eren, who lost his mother to a Titan and vowed to kill them all in revenge, became the very creature he hated and devoured his remaining parent.
- After his memories are restored, Eren is dead silent. The entire time Historia and her father are talking, he doesn't move a muscle. He just sits there, staring at nothing, while everything he remembers now sinks in.
- Frieda erasing Historia's memories of her with the Coordinate in order to protect her from being used for her lineage or becoming involved in their frankly dangerous family.
- Eren remembering the last thing Grisha said to him before he injected him with the Titan Serum. "You'll be the one to avenge your mother!"
- Kenny's brutally honest "Reason You Suck" Speech to Historia, about how her father never loved her and is only using her to get what he wants. Even if it was a lie, Historia had started to take comfort in the new reality Rod was crafting for her, and seeing it being compromised nearly breaks her.
- Eren was not at his rock-bottom at the end of Season Two. That spot is for reaching the Despair Event Horizon here, chained and at Historia's mercy. He realises he was never a chosen individual, one who had inherent qualities necessary for saving the people of the Walls. It was his father's actions that led to the situation they're in now and he must take accountability for the outcomes. Which has been disaster after tragedy after massacre after pointless sacrifice for who he considers to be utterly worthless. Himself.Eren: ... Never needed to happen... Me... My father... If he hadn't done what he did here five years ago... Your sister would have been able to take care of everything, right? Because he stole the Power of the Titans from its rightful place... So many people died... Armin's grandpa... Thomas... Mina... Mylius... Nac... Marco... Everyone in Squad Levi... The residents of Stohess District... The soldiers who tried to rescue me... Mister Hannes... And so many more I don't even know... I... I could never atone for all that... It never needed to happen. All of those days we spent training. All those dreams about what could be... past the Walls. I... never needed to happen. ... Do it. At the very least... let it end at your hand. Historia... eat me... And save humanity. It's all... up to you.
- Historia thanking Eren for telling her she was a normal person, before (in the manga) actually sticking the needle into her arm, prepared to grant Eren his wish. Even though Historia ends up not injecting the serum, it shows just how close they came to losing it all.
- "JUST HURRY UP AND EAT ME! I CAN'T GO ON LIVING LIKE THIS!"
- It's hard not to dredge up some pity for Rod when seeing his plans go up in smoke, his maddened, terrified reaction and the injury he accrues at his own daughter's hands, causing him to crawl on the floor like a dog with its hind legs snapped to the remnants of the Titan Serum. He begs his father, brother and daughter to wait for him as he knows he'll soon join them when becoming a mindless monster. It's just a different kind of escape from all his sins.
"Outside The Walls of Orvud"
- Eren breaking down further when he realises the situation is hopeless and he can't see a way out of the nightmare his life has become. His father dead at his own hands, his comrades turned betrayers and mass-murderers, his abilities unable to be utilized and a track-record of failure at every turn. Yuki delivers yet again with a performance that makes Eren sound already dead such is the sorrow and despair in his voice. Levi even apologise to him for asking him to make the choice yet again. Trust in their power, or his own. And to top off the tragedy sundae, Eren's internal dialogue makes us realise in hindsight that Eren has always been pushed forward by ideals and not faith in his own ability.Eren Jaeger: I'm sorry... I need you to let me do it... Just once. Let me believe in myself.
- Eren once again remembering Grisha's words to control the passed-down powers in a new light. With his father weeping at his own imminent demise and with the heavy burden he must leave to his son; urging him to save everyone he knows and loves.
- In the manga, Connie and Sasha being brought to sympathetic tears of their own at Eren's weeping in the cavern.
"Ruler of The Walls"
- The depths of Eren's unresolved neuroses and inferiority complexes is further explored as he lauds Historia's mindset while deprecating himself as a subconsciously vainglorious fool. The reason for more tears? Historia is emulating the best of him.
- The flashback of Eren placing flowers on what must be Hannes' grave in the cemetery of the honoured dead.
- Eren seeing three children down in Orvud district that bear a striking similarity to the trio and praying that they won't suffer like he, Mikasa and Armin did when the Colossal Titan devastated their home. Armin replies that they're probably going to see what they saw, but says that unlike that day, there are soldiers on the Wall that can fight back.
- Eren flashing back to his mother pinned beneath the rubble of their home, with him and Mikasa vainly trying to free her. Before punching himself three times in the face in an effort to as he says: "beat the hell out of a useless, pathetic brat. I hope I finished him off." In that moment Eren determines that MORE is demanded of him than he was ever giving and that he will rise to the challenge. The tragedy of the scene comes from the fact that he always was putting so much of himself into future endeavours but even after all this time. Probably until the day he dies, he will never be able to reconcile the trauma of being powerless to save Carla.
- Historia witnessing Rod's memories as she slices through the nape of his Titan form. Rod as a frightened and frustrated child imprisoned by his own father while pleading with him to kill the Titans, Freida and Uri's bright hopeful smiles and vows to resist the First King's will turning into the dead-eyed stare of the possessed, and finally Rod confiding in Historia's mother, stating that she is the only one who understood him. Seeing an earnest young man who only wanted to better humanity be slowly transformed into a manipulative fanatic and finally into a rampaging monster is heartbreaking.
- As Kenny dies, we're treated to flashbacks of when he adopted Levi and how he came to be in King Uri's service. And the myriad moments when he believed he could become a better man than the "garbage" he thought himself as.
- "Violence was all I ever had, but in that moment it had failed me."
- Uri Reiss. Now there is a man many would call king. Not only for his power as a Physical God but for his humble nature, genuine piety and remorseful sorrow that he could not create a paradise within the Walls along with the suppression of the minority bloodlines. Even kowtowing to Kenny as one of the persecuted Ackermans he feels he must beg forgiveness from. An act that shapes the rest of Kenny's life.
- Kuchel Ackerman, Kenny's little sister. By the time he tracks her to Mitras' underground red light district. She had become bedridden by a venereal disease and has starved to death. Kenny's muttered incomprehension at her withered corpse, even from a hardened killer, is just gut-wrenching.
- Little Levi. Filth-encrusted and as pale and gaunt as a ghost. He must be all of four or five years old and is nearly dead from malnutrition himself, as he hasn't been able to leave his mother's side. Worse. He seems to be clad in one of her shirts in some pitiful attempt at comfort.
- Kenny's self-assessment of his parenting skills. "A cold little brat on death's door. That's all Kuchel left behind. I wasn't so inhuman I was gonna leave him to die. But I sure as hell wasn't enough of a man to be his dad."
- Uri almost making the Will of the First King seem sympathetic as he laments how violence is the unavoidable truth of the World, but still clings to the miracle of how he and Kenny could become friends after such a brush with death for both of them.
- Kenny's non-existent self-worth. He believes that compassion can only be a part of his character if he obtains the Founding Titan's mindset. Not realising he had already had a chance to be a compassionate father-figure to his nephew if he had only tried to surpass his doubts.
- This exchange:Levi Ackerman: That day... Why did you leave me?Kenny Ackerman: 'Cause... I wasn't meant to be someone's... father.
- Yet his final act is to give Levi the only meagre token he has in the form of the Titan Serum.
- Levi smiling is rather bitter-sweet as he is just being distracted from his conflicted feelings about Kenny by the antics of his Squad.
- The conversation where Floch's group of new Survey Corps transfers wonder what happened to the Levi Squad to make them get "that look in their eyes". Jean asks if he really wants to know, and Floch has the sense to backtrack and say no.
- Eren for a moment subsuming himself in the certainty that even for a few moments he was a Mindless Titan and that he saw his father's death through his own eyes... Mikasa snaps and tells him to focus on eating; not wishing to hear about a man she respected and admired die so ignominiously.
- Keith Shadis' backstory, including the moment when he belatedly realises that he should have taken Carla's words to heart and the reason why he's never been able to make a difference in his eyes is only due to his own inferiority complex.Commandant Keith Shadis: Average men aren't able to accomplish anything. Special people do exist. It's just that I wasn't one of them.
- In the corresponding chapter, Keith desperately trying to find Carla at the refugee centre in Trost after Wall Maria has fallen and apologise to her for his cruel words almost a decade ago. But of course, he never gets the chance as her son blearily relates to Grisha that she was eaten and Keith falls to his knees a broken man.
- Grisha's dead silence when he hears of his wife's death speaks volumes. The man has just reached his own Despair Event Horizon and has one more task to fulfil before he shuffles off the mortal coil.
- Keith disabled Eren's belt to honour Carla's wish of her son leading an ordinary life but Eren's desire to eradicate the Titans in her name pushes her son to balance on his broken ODM belt regardless; proving in Keith's eyes that Eren is just as special as his father was.
- "But in the end... I was nothing more... than a bystander after all... I've always been powerless to change anything."
"Night of the Battle to Retake the Wall"
- Eren, Armin, and Mikasa thinking that they see Hannes for a moment before they see the man's face clearly and not only realize that he isn't Hannes, but remember that Hannes is dead and they'll never see him again.
- Eren's reaction when Armin reminds him about their dream to see the ocean is very sad. Before, Eren would always react to the prospect with enthusiasm, but here, he hesitates and gives little more than an "Oh, alright then.", coupled with a lacklustre smile. He isn't being mean about it, but it's clear that he's lost the drive to see the ocean with Armin, something that they promised to do together since they were little. The uneasy/shocked look on Armin's face when he realizes this signifies what is likely the first crack in their relationship. It's... really heartbreaking to see, considering how strong Eren and Armin's care for one another has been throughout the series so far.
- There's an underlying sadness in the whole episode that really cements it as a "Calm before the storm" situation.
- Reiner and Bertholdt looking out at the sunset atop Shiganshina's inner gate; their desolate duty all that is left to them compared to the mass of camaraderie and brotherhood making to do battle with them.
- Reiner sums it all up, all he wants to do is be able to go home after killing the horses. The way nobody can hear him beg for them to wait is sad because he just wants it all to be over, and even that is being taken from him.
- Jean, Sasha, and Connie attacking Reiner with hesitation. The looks of sadness and hesitation in finishing their former comrade says it all. Sasha and Connie also both hesitate and have to be reminded by Jean to attack Reiner.
- The truth behind Marco's death, accidentally catching Reiner and Bertholdt discussing their plan and they end up pinning him down, force a traumatised Annie to remove his ODM-Gear, and they leave him to be chewed on by an approaching Titan. And all the while, a confused Marco is screaming for them to just explain themselves before he is killed. Annie is visibly reluctant and horrified to leave Marco to die, and when Marco is being eaten, Reiner snaps back into his innocent personality and has no idea what is happening.
- The part with Annie needs some elaboration. Namely, Reiner and Bertholdt capture Marco and pin him down when suddenly, Annie arrives. A panicked Marco pleads for Annie to help him, to which she gets a horrified face and, upon hearing Reiner say they have to kill him, she screams at him for making her do this! The face on Annie as she sees Marco asking her to help him is the heartbreaking part, you can practically see her thinking "No, don't ask me for help! I'm one of them! I'm sorry!"
- And what makes her go through with it? Reiner accusing her of essentially being a traitor to her people. She has been forced into an impossible situation and she is damned no matter what she chooses.Reiner: Have you started to feel compassion for this evil race?! Prove me wrong right here! If you claim that you... and the father waiting for your return... are different from this defiled race... PROVE IT TO ME RIGHT NOW!
- The next we see of Reiner, he is hanging out of the Armoured Titan's body, with the top half of his head missing. While the Survey Corps celebrate, Reiner's former friends are clearly in mourning. Jean tries to put on a brave face but it quickly cracks when he realises Connie and Sasha are in tears. He angrily grabs both and tries to justify their actions before breaking down himself. Eren just sits there in his Titan form, staring at the Armoured Titan. When Hange rallies everyone to get ready for the "next one" (aka Bertholdt), Mikasa responds with an exhaustive, submissive sigh, and then goes to comfort Armin who sadly comments that because of their lack of knowledge about Titan Shifters, killing Reiner was their only option.
- Bertholdt is rather stoic and unflinchingly comments on the war and how people must die, which is either awesome (if you think he's right that he himself needed to grow a pair) or alarming (if you find this shift upsetting). But this chapter delves further into Bertholdt feeling that although no one is at fault, people have to die, so he'll do what he can to make sure no more people have to suffer. He ends the chapter with a very deliberate parallel to Mikasa's Catchphrase about the world being both beautiful and cruel, except that he never remarks on anything being beautiful. For Bertholdt, the world really has only ever been cruel.
- The final exchange between Armin and Bertholdt all but proves there was never any chance for peace... even before Mikasa attacked him.Armin: If you could see that far through us, why did you even agree to talk?Bertholdt: I wanted to make sure... that I won't break down and cry again... and beg for forgiveness... as soon as I stood before you guys. But... I seem to be fine. Yeah... You're all my precious comrades, I also intend to kill you.Armin: Is that because... you think we're children of the devil?Bertholdt: Oh no. None of you have done anything wrong. And you're not devils either. But you all still have to die. That's just how it is.
- The deaths of almost the entire Survey Corp. Most of the veterans are killed via bombardment. Hange and her squad are blown to ashes by Bertholdt's transformation and only the green boys and girls, Erwin, Levi, his squad and Eren are still alive.
- Floch's terrified and all too real admission that like most soldiers, he had bought in on all the patriotism and appeals to courage and duty the Corps were espousing to drum up recruits. But now, when confronting his own mortality, nihilistic dread crushes all his former resolve and morale plummets to rock-bottom.
- Levi all but outright stating to Erwin that his life is meaningless next to Erwin's and Eren's and that he will go down fighting the Beast Titan even if he has no chance of reaching him just to give them the chance to escape and fight another day.
- Erwin's confession to Levi as he agonises over abandoning his duty to find the secrets in Grisha's cellar study or lead the fresh recruits right into the killing fields and make all the prior sacrifices mean something.
- Marlowe is killed as the Beast Titan hurls rocks at the advancing recruits, with his last thoughts being about how Hitch is probably still asleep in bed and that he may have had unrequited feelings for her after all.
- Levi's Moment of Weakness of hesitating to kill Zeke before he finds someone — who he hopes to be Erwin, not knowing that Erwin was struck down almost immediately — to give the Titan injection to, so they can eat Zeke. After this, when Zeke escapes him and the situation becomes desperate, all Levi can think about is how he promised Erwin he'd kill Zeke, and the opportunity may have slipped from his fingers for good. It's another uncharacteristically vulnerable sequence for Levi, and yet more evidence that Erwin is his Living Emotional Crutch... who seems to have died just like Levi knew he would if he returned to the field.
- Sasha is injured and unconscious by Reiner, many people are already dead, Connie is out of action because he's holding Sasha, Jean has been injured by debris and can't fight, and Mikasa is basically all on her own, about to make what Connie obviously considers a suicide move, until Hange shows up to save the day.
- The self-sacrifice of Armin, who gives up his life and his dream of seeing the outside world and the ocean, so that Eren can defeat the Colossal Titan. Eren remarks that Armin was the bravest of all of them, and he's right. Armin abandons his dream of seeing the ocean for the sake of the Survey Corps victory, which is a nice call back to earlier in the series when he said that those who couldn't throw anything away could never change anything.Armin Arlelt: I'm leaving it to you, Eren. My dreams. My life. Everything. This is all I have to give. If it's Eren, then he'll definitely make it to the ocean... He'll see... the ocean... for us...
- Jean, at first having to be the one to remind Connie and Sasha to attack Reiner, is now horrified at how he's being treated, limbless and defenceless and blind, under Hange's sadistic thumb. Bertholdt's situation is possibly worse: He too is limbless and can't do anything, but everyone around him is arguing over who to feed him to and whose life to save, treating him as food to be eaten. Even on the human side, things aren't good. It's Erwin or Armin, and one life has to be saved at the cost of the other. Levi at first agrees to give Armin the serum, but when shown Erwin's body, almost immediately changes his mind. This act of snatching away Armin's life has Eren horrified, and Mikasa even has her blade raised as though to force Levi out of it.
- Levi going back on his word at first to save Armin for Erwin seems morally wrong at front face, but in hindsight makes a lot of sense considering his tragic and bloody past; after losing so many people and friends he cared about to the war against the Titans, is it any wonder he took a moment to reconsider his choices and selfishly save one of the few people left he could truly call a friend?
- Reiner openly weeping, first from the pain of Hange's torture and later when Zeke saves only him and leaves his last remaining friend behind. Their enemies now have Bertholdt and Reiner knows he won't live long. The one person Reiner holds above all the others and has sworn to protect is being left for dead or worse, and there is nothing he can do about it.
- As Hange pulls Mikasa off of Levi, she breaks down in shrieking sobs, unwilling to accept Armin's death. Eren is also in tears, desperately trying to appeal to Levi, only for Floch to pin him down and tell him to stop.
- The reveal of how Hange survived. Moblit threw Hange into a well, away from the Colossal Titan's blast, saving her, and the last time Hange sees him, it's obvious that they both know that he's about to die. By the time Hange gets out of the well after the blast, Moblit is nowhere to be found because he wasn't just killed, he was completely vapourised.
- The choice is made on who to save with the Titan serum. Erwin, delirious from blood-loss, lost in memory, pulls his arm away from the injection site; whispering fragments of the question he asked his father in class so many years ago. And Levi, consumed by guilt for failing his friend and not wishing to prolong his suffering by the rapidly encroaching dead-end of his dream - takes another path. One that puts the devil they needed to his well-deserved rest and gives the young remnants of the Survey Corps hope again.
- Bertholdt being devoured by the newly Titanized Armin. They leave him limbless and broken, unable to transform, right in front of Armin. He's desperately crying and screaming futilely for somebody to save him, specifically Reiner and Annie, while his former friends from the 104th force themselves to watch; all of them crying (even Eren).
- The moments just before Bertholdt gets eaten by Armin actually becomes much sadder the more you think about it; He woke up coming face-to-face with a Titan with barely a few seconds to mentally process what is going on, and in that very moment of utter confusion and terror, it's more than likely that he forgot all about his mission along with being the Colossal Titan while screaming and begging his former friends to save him, and seeing their crying faces is what made him remember. In his last moments, he remembered that he was the one responsible for so much suffering and death to the people living in the Walls and that he would never be forgiven by them for what he did. He started screaming for Reiner and Annie only after remembering that, despite the futility of it. Right before Bertholdt gets eaten, before and after he begs to be saved, we see a close-up of his horrified, crying expression as he fully realizes that nobody will save him. And he's about to meet the end he and Reiner gave Marco.
- Eren once mentioned that he would make Bertholdt's death especially excruciating since Bertholdt was indirectly responsible for the death of Eren's mother. However, it's pretty clear that while Eren got his wish, he's far from happy seeing Bertholdt screaming for help as he dies horribly.
- Levi remembers his last conversation with Erwin and the look of sheer happiness and relief on his face after Levi told him to go with the rest of the recruits and die, and that he'd take care of the Beast Titan. Levi being Levi, his emotional process through all this is fairly subtle, but his flat resignation when he tries to have some last words with Erwin and is told that he's already dead, clearly not totally prepared for that reality yet despite his decision, is rough.
- Armin's fever dream/vision at the beginning of Chapter 85. The cries of "it hurts" combined with the skeletal visage of Bertolt's Titan quietly weeping is truly haunting.
- When Armin realizes how he survived — at the cost of forfeiting a chance to save Erwin — it's clear that he's suffering Survivor Guilt, not to mention feeling bad that Mikasa and Eren attacked Levi and got in trouble for his sake. Levi and Hange can't offer much comfort, since they had believed Erwin was more valuable to humanity, and the most they can say is to urge him to do what he can to ensure that the choice made was the right one.
- The tragedy of the Eldians. An entire race of people living within walls, sealed by forces beyond their control, suffering for the sins of their bloodline, not even for actions they themselves have taken. Whether it's Eren, trapped by the Titans and the First King, or Grisha, trapped by the Marleyans and the legacy of Ymir Fritz, it's hard not to see how everyone has gotten the short stick here.
- And yes, the Marleyans do have their sympathetic moments. Their entire kingdom is a ranked hierarchy, with Eldians living in squalid ghettos, afraid of the world outside, but remember that just eighty years ago the Marleyans fought and won a desperate war against the Titan Shifters, ending seventeen hundred years of oppression and genocide... supposedly. The government is likely lying to everyone, and driving up hate against the Eldians, manipulating everyone for their own sick gain.
- More of a tearjerker in hindsight, but the fact that the Survey Corps, the quest to retake territory from the Titans, Eren's desire for revenge... all now have much less meaning. The people who were supposed to be heroes freeing humanity from the Titans know that their purpose has been undermined.
- Faye's senseless and horrific murder, Grisha's apocalyptic Tranquil Fury at the injustice of Marley and his father's grovelling to them to survive. Mrs Jaeger is all but catatonic with grief and on the same day, Mr Jaeger decides to hammer in the party-line's propaganda text-book into his traumatised son's skull. All but ensuring his only surviving child will become prime revolutionist material.
- "I began to feel so much hatred for both this man and my father that I began to feel dizzy. But most of all, I cursed my own foolishness."
- This entire exchange, showing just how trapped and desperate the situation for Eldians is on the continent.Mr Jaeger: I told you, our ancestors were reprehensible devils. They believed in eugenics and tried to cleanse -Grisha Jaeger: (slamming his fists on the table) FAYE AND I DIDN'T DO ANY OF THAT! ALL WE DID WAS WALK AROUND TOWN!
- Grisha is forced to watch as his comrades from the Eldian Restoration Movement are transformed into mindless Titans by the Marleyans, and lured by the offer of a fleeing Grice, who wasn't transformed into one. This includes Grisha's first wife, Dina, who is turned into the Smiling Titan. It also gives a new meaning to one of the first things Grisha asked from Keith, when they first met: "You're not fighting them, are you?"
- In the same vein: Those mindless Titans? Look close. Those are the same ones that attack the Trost district, including the Bearded Titan that nearly ate Armin and did eat Eren, the Huge-Mouth Titan that bit Eren's leg off, and the infamous Moe Titan.
- In Dina's final moments before she is turned into a Titan, she gives Grisha a Broken Smile and tearfully promises that she will find him again, implying that even as a mindless Titan this was her drive since the beginning of the story. Even Eren, who witnessed this titan eat his mother and Hannes and probably hated that titan more than anything else in the world, couldn't help but shed tears when he realizes it was her.
"The Attack Titan"
- Eren and Armin realize that since someone who inherits a Titan's power usually only lives for 13 years, that most likely means Armin has 13 years of life left and Eren only has eight years at most. Mikasa despairingly trying to deny that both of her oldest friends are going to die fairly young is heartbreaking. They've essentially only delayed Armin's death by thirteen years.
- In the process of explaining things to Grisha, Kruger reveals that both sides are manipulating history — Ymir never turned the world into a paradise, but she also never created a hell, indicating that the real truth of what happened to the world may very well have been lost forever.
- The life of Eren Kruger, the secret leader of the Eldian Restorationists and the man who saved Grisha's life, also deserves mention. As a kid, he watched in horror as his entire family was burned alive due to his father fighting in an Eldian uprising some years early. As an adult, he managed to infiltrate the Marleyan military and create another underground Eldian organization with Grisha's help, but to maintain his cover he had to persecute, torture, kill, and transform thousands of fellow Eldians into Titans despite wanting nothing more than to protect them. By the time he saves Grisha and entrusts him with the Attack Titan and his mission, Kruger seems so thoroughly exhausted and haunted by his actions over the years that he is not remotely fazed by the thought of Grisha eating him.
"The Other Side Of The Walls"
- Floch unloads his frustrations with the decision to save Armin over Erwin, saying to the former's face that he's the one who should have died instead of Erwin, thus exacerbating Armin's Survivor Guilt.
- After the initial excitement about seeing the ocean fades, Eren realizes that on the other side of the walls isn't a beautiful and unclaimed world, but one full of countless enemies who want all of the Eldians dead, and the only way to survive is to defeat all of them. It's saying a lot when the days when humanity was locked in a seemingly hopeless war with an almost unlimited horde of Titans outside the walls almost seem pleasant by comparison.
- Falco rescues an enemy soldier that was injured, and begins tending to his wounds. As Udo translates, the prisoner demands that they stop touching him.....because he doesn't want to be "tainted" by demons like them. To make things worse, an injured Marleyan being treated by Udo laughs rather heavily at what he said.
- The depressed look on Gabi's face while looking at her armband, after briefly being allowed to remove it.
- The Warrior Candidates wondering what will happen to them, now that Titans are rapidly becoming obsolete as weapons of war. While none of them say it out loud, it's clear they realize their people will no longer be useful to Marley.
- While in town with the candidates, Reiner briefly hallucinates them as his childhood friends and calls out to them. He tries to cover it up, but is visibly shaken. Two of his friends are dead, another missing, and the only one left — Galliard — hates him and considers him a failure. The children Reiner's supervising are exactly the same as he and his friends used to be, and intended for the same terrible purpose.
- Ymir is dead. She was devoured by Galliard so that the Marley military could regain the Jaws Titan's power. In the brief shot that we see her, she just looks resigned, so tired of even living. And she and Historia will never see each other again.
- Her life was so tragic that even Porco the guy who devoured her for the Jaw Titan power, whose brother she devoured years earlier felt sorry for her after seeing her memories as a side-effect of acquiring the Jaw Titan.
- Chapter 94 provides several doses of heartbreak.
- Reiner talks a little about his experiences inside the Walls, trying to stick to the propaganda that all the people living there are evil. But he's unable to actually badmouth his former friends, smiling behind his hands before recalling the time he spent together with them. After referring to the people on Paradis as "different people", his family looks horrified, and he quickly tries to backpedal to avoid any further problems. But it's painfully clear that regardless of everything that has happened, he still cares about the 104th. And he can never express these feelings out loud, for fear of being reported by his family.
- Reiner's entire backstory: His overwhelming, Boomerang Bigot mother raised him alone, telling him that his father couldn't be with them because he's a Marleyan. He wasn't the exceptionally talented cadet he later became, and instead struggled through training and repeatedly teared up in frustration at his failings. He was finally accepted for having written an essay about his Undying Loyalty to Marley, which Galliard claimed proved that he was completely useless and resulted in a fight between the two. Afterwards, he tells Bertolt that his motivation for becoming a Warrior is because he believes doing so will allow him to be with both his parents as a real family. He talks about becoming a hero by destroying the demons on the Island, and saving the whole world by doing so. It's clear that he was a horrifically naive Wide-Eyed Idealist that was chosen because he could be easily manipulated by Marley, and all he ever wanted was to make his mother happy and meet his father. Instead, he's become a mass murderer, lost the friends he cherished, can no longer speak honestly to his own family, and is watching Gabi go down the same path as him.
- Chapter 95 isn't any easier on poor Reiner.
- On the day before he left on the mission to the Walls, Reiner went to meet his father. The man he'd dreamed of meeting his entire life accuses him of being there for revenge, screams that Reiner is putting his family in danger, and calls him a "child of the devil" before slamming the door in his face. The following day, Reiner's mother sees him off while telling him that his father will be praying for his success. He can't even admit that he already knows this is a complete lie.
- Gabi admits to Reiner the real reason that she wants the Armoured Titan. It's never been about glory or honor, as previously indicated. She actually wants to inherit his Titan because she feels that's the only way she won't lose him, and inheriting his memories will allow her to understand all the things he hasn't been able to share. Even though she's only 12, Gabi knows her cousin is suffering and can't talk about it, so she wants to share his burden in the only way she thinks is possible.
- During the journey to Wall Maria, Marcel breaks down and confesses a secret to the others: He was afraid for his brother's safety, so he rigged the selection of the Armoured Titan in Reiner's favour. Porco was meant to receive the Armoured Titan, and Reiner was always the dead-last failure that was going to be left behind. Realizing that he didn't earn his Titan through honest means leaves Reiner in shock, and its while walking in a daze that he's ambushed by Ymir's Titan.
- Chapter 96 is filled with heart-wrenching moments.
- In the immediate aftermath of Marcel's death, Annie and Reiner end up arguing over whether to abandon their mission. Annie beats him bloody in a rage, and Reiner ends up choking her until she relents. Bertolt stands on the sidelines, crying while his remaining friends brutalize each other.
- Reiner telling Annie that "Reiner is dead", and promising to become Marcel if that's what they need.
- The Warrior trio hugging each other, in the aftermath of Wall Maria, and promising to become "true warriors".
- An old man tells them about having abandoned his family to escape the Titans, then kills himself. No one can remember where he came from. Bertolt ends up recounting the man's tale, when he meets Eren and Armin.
- Chapter 97 is pretty much focused on how War Is Hell.
- Eren and Falco sitting outside the hospital, looking at the physically and/or mentally broken soldiers while discussing how war destroys people.
- When Falco admits that he probably won't become a Warrior, Eren is relieved to hear that. He tells Falco that he's kind, and hopes he'll live a long life. His mood grows somber when Falco explains that he needs to do it, to protect the other candidate.
- Flashbacks of Reiner interacting with Eren and Bertholdt, corresponding with shots of a rifle being loaded. The next shot is a Splash Panel of Reiner with the rifle in his mouth, preparing to shoot himself. He's only prevented from going through with it because he hears Falco outside. Reiner doesn't want to go on living, but his sense of obligation towards the kids prevents him from committing suicide.
- Chapter 98:
- The conversation at the hospital, between doctor and patient. Dr. Yeager doesn't seem to know that the young man he is speaking with is his long-lost grandson. The subject turns to his own family, causing him to break down in grief over the fates of his children. Eren can only helplessly watch his grandfather crying and screaming hysterically, until staff come to escort him away; revealing him to be, in truth, just another inmate of the institute. From their apologies to Eren, it seems that this isn't an unusual occurrence.
- Chapter 99:
- In a flashback, the Warriors discuss the old man from Chapter 96 again. Annie theorized that he told them his story out of a desire to be forgiven, and brings up their own abandonment of Marcel. In contrast, Bertholdt believed the old man wanted someone to pass judgment on him. While the old man is the subject of their discussion, it's clear that Annie and Bertholdt are both actually talking about themselves and how they actually feel about their mission. While Annie would later apologize to the dead in the aftermath of Trost, Bertholdt expressed the belief that their actions could never be forgiven.
- The meeting between Ms. Braun and Mr. Leonhart, which serves as another remainder of the tragedies that have befallen their families. She casually notes that Mr. Hoover had finally died of his illness, and praises the death of Bertholdt, her son's best friend. When she tries to similarly praise Annie's loss, Mr. Leonhart interrupts her and insists that his daughter is still alive... because she promised him she would come home.
- Lord Tybur tells the audience that the Marleyan hero, Helos, never existed. In truth, the Eldian empire collapsed because Karl Fritz hated his own people and went into voluntary exile, condemning the Eldians with his "oath of Peace". Rather than attempt to make the world better, when he inherited the Founding Titan and became ruler of the Eldians... he simply abandoned the world, and went into hiding. He decided to "live in paradise" while he could, condemning his people to suffer until Marley finally decided to exterminate them. As hinted during the confrontation with Rod Reiss, the King's Will was for the extinction of his people. Even so, Lord Tybur still frames the Eldians as being to blame and deserving of their fates.
- Chapter 100:
- Falco's horror at realizing that he'd been used, shouting about how he'd respected and been inspired by Eren's friendship. Reiner looks down at this, while Eren can only offer a weak apology for his actions.
- Reiner asks whether Eren is there to kill him, and is brushed off with words of sympathy and understanding. This does nothing to reassure Reiner, who collapses out of his chair and crawls to the other man's feet, begging to be killed. He rejects the claim that his motivations were good and understandable, stating that he was just selfish and that he's so disgusting that he simply wants to disappear.
- As Willy Tybur makes his declaration of war and stirs the audience into a frenzy, Eren wears an exhausted expression. He takes a moment to steel himself, before explaining that he understands that there's no choice but to keep moving forward. In spite of knowing that they are the same and shouldn't need to fight, the divided Eldian people are being forced to fight each other again.
- The entire conversation between Reiner and Eren, ending with Eren turning into a Titan. Eren reveals that he has travelled the same path as Reiner did, coming across to Marley and living among the Eldians there, learning that the people there are as varied as his own... but he still transforms into a Titan at the end of the chapter, killing bystanders. After so many chapters of wanting to kill the Titans or beat the people from Reiner and Annie's village to prevent anyone else from going through the horror he did, Eren has become the kind of monster he set out to fight. This isn't even lost on him, he admits that that in the end of it all, him and Reiner are exactly the same.
- A few chapters earlier, Gabi optimistically stated that the Tybur Family chose to hold the announcement in the Liberio Ghetto to make an attempt to better the relations between Eldians and the rest of the world. In reality, Willy held it there in order to ensure most of the casualties would be Eldians if the Paradis infiltrators decided to strike while giving his announcement.
- Chapter 101:
- During Eren's attack, Zofia is crushed by falling debris and Udo is trampled to death by the panicking crowd, all right in front of a shell-shocked Gabi.
- Chapter 102:
- Though the Survey Corps return to action is glorious, Floch and others start bombing the internment zones, resulting in countless civilian casualties in an attempt to take out any possible remaining soldiers. Jean immediately admonishes this, still trying to hold on to what humanity he has left.
- Mikasa's pained and tearful face as she notes that Eren's killed several civilians, including children, knowing that they've officially crossed the Moral Event Horizon. All Eren does is silently and stoically gaze back, unable to provide any words of comfort before focusing back on the objective.
- Chapter 103 is another exercise in suffering, even referred to in the narration as a cycle of tragedy.
- Falco discovers Reiner unconscious and fused with his Titan, having lost the will to live. He desperately tries to wake Reiner, trying to remind him that there are people out there waiting for him to come back.
- The deaths of the Panzer Unit, which causes the normally level-headed Pieck to charge in recklessly in her grief. This leads her directly into a trap, with her Titan blown apart by the Thunder Spears. Though the unit hadn't been given much focus, it was clear the group were True Companions that cherished Pieck regardless of her Eldian heritage.
- Falco throwing himself over Pieck's nape during the Cliffhanger, desperately begging the Survey Corps to stop. In spite of everything, he still wants to believe in other people and tries to appeal to their humanity to save his comrade. For his part, Jean looks horrified at a child entering the line of fire.
- Chapter 104:
- Armin looking down on the devastation he's caused, focusing several times of the corpse of a child crushed by falling debris. He muses aloud that this must have been what Bertholdt saw, speaking to his long-dead predecessor.
- Jean, who berated Floch for destroying civilian housings, finds himself forced to fire his thunder spear at the unarmed Falco in order to take out Pieck. He hesitates for a moment, but nevertheless decides to not miss his chance at taking out a key target.
- Trapped on the opposite end of the plaza, Galliard realizes his comrades have both been defeated. He recalls a happier time spent with Zeke and Pieck, and wonders if they're both dead.
- Falco vaguely suggesting that they shouldn't disturb Reiner, but unable to explain to Gabi that it's because her cousin wants to die.
- Chapter 105 is pretty much one from beginning to end.
- It is revealed that a deep rift has formed between Eren and those who were his closest friends. When leaving Marley aboard the airship Armin seems distant from him, Levi brutally assaults him, and Hanji openly accuse him of betrayal. It's revealed that the plan to attack Marley was cooked up by Eren and Zeke working together, and Eren had to effectively take himself hostage by going to Marley alone to force Paradis to act. Hange says that while Eren trusts them with his life... they have lost all trust in him. Like Erwin before him, Eren has become the inhuman "devil" that does what needs to be done to save his people, at the cost of their trust and his morality.
- Meanwhile, the strike team celebrates surviving the battle. Connie, Sasha and Jean share a tender moment among the festivities. While saddened that there were casualties on their side during the fray, Connie is relieved that neither of his friends were hurt, because they are so special to him. Not long after, tragedy strikes with Gabi boarding the airship and opening fire on the soldiers. Sasha is shot in the abdomen and slowly dies of massive haemorrhaging. Worse still she dies in a delirium brought on by the loss of blood, thinking she's back at home, about to have supper with her friends. Mikasa and Armin break down crying over their friend's body, Connie is in deep shock, unwilling to accept his best friend has been snuffed out; while Jean coldly blames Eren for Sasha's death. Eren finally visibly snaps when he hears that Sasha's last word was "Meat". He recalls her dream to reclaim Wall Maria so that there would be plenty of food for everyone and the day she raided the officer's pantry for meat to share with all her friends. One of the Cadet Corps last innocent moments before being thrust into the horrors of war. For the first time since the time-skip his mask slips, and we see a vestige of the old Eren's righteous fury along with remorse for his friend's fitting last words and the painful realization that someone he cares about has died for him once again without even knowing what hit them.
- On the Marley side, Gabi receives a grim reminder that for all her naive idealism and desire to kill her enemies, she's still just one little kid caught in the middle of a conflict she doesn't understand. First Falco is powerless to stop her from going on her suicide mission into the enemy airship, forcing him to tag along in a last desperate effort to save her from a terrible fate. Her last ditch effort to kill the devils amounts to little. After shooting Sasha, she and Falco are immediately captured by the Scouts after the element of surprise wears off. The group immediately takes revenge by beating both of them to a pulp, and Floch is only stopped from throwing them both out of the airship to their deaths by Jean, who is just so tired of all the senseless death. Undeterred, Gabi is practically rabid as she screams and shouts at her captors, calling them "devils" and proclaiming she will avenge War-chief Zeke's death. Jean quickly and ruthlessly breaks her spirit by taking her to the other room... and revealing that Zeke is alive and well, sitting with Eren Jaeger himself and talking about how well their plan went. Gabi immediately goes quiet as the realization sinks in that someone she and Falco admired and respected sold them out long ago, and her "final sacrifice" meant absolutely nothing.
- The state Eren himself is a bit of a point of sadness; as mentioned by Armin, the poor guy is barely recognizable and it's only been a single year. Gone is the plucky,if vengeful, kid who stands up for his friends and comes down on his enemies like a hurricane of blades and/or gigantic fists, replaced by a stoic, almost emotionless man whose expression seems stuck somewhere between a blank stare and a contemplative glower. As an example of just how much he's changed, when Jean berates him and holds him personally responsible for Sasha's being shot, instead of getting into his face or coming to blows as he used to...he barely reacts, only showing any sort of emotion when her death is confirmed.
- Sasha's final word was simply, "Meat," which causes Eren to recall the meeting they had atop the wall, back when the 104th Cadets just completed training, and its ultimately which causes his stoicism to crack. Eren's comments to Reiner before the battle hint that he is aware of how far he's fallen, but he also knows that he's too far gone to stop now, and can only press forward.
- Even Zeke himself, who had expressed regret that several "miscalculations" in his plan had resulted in the deaths of several Survey Corps members in realizing his quest to save Eldia, looks visibly perturbed as Eren grieves over the announcement of his friend's passing. Indeed, Zeke thought little of Gabi's act of defiance and saw her and Falco as another grave error in his scheme...An error that proved fatal to the comrades of his half-brother.
- Chapter 106:
- Seeing the friendship between Eren, Mikasa, and Armin become irreparably fractured in the aftermath of Eren's actions in Marley is incredibly hard to watch. After learning the truth about the world, their resulting ideologies on how to proceed eventually became too divergent for any sort of reasonable compromise, especially in Eren's case. Armin goes as far to say that he doesn't even recognize Eren anymore.
- The chapter also shows how Eren's actions have deeply damaged his friends and his comrades' trust in him. When Eren sent word to the Survey Corps that he was infiltrating Marley without their consent, the Survey Corps (including Armin) at first considered leaving Eren to fend for himself.
- The many flashbacks of how the Survey Corps made first contact with the anti-Marleyan forces loyal to Zeke overseas becomes this when you see the members of the former 104th, Sasha among them, finally getting their first taste of life beyond the shores of Paradis, with one such memory being of the Survey Corps feasting on foods eaten in Marley previously unknown to those within the Walls. Unsurprisingly, Sasha is seen crying tears of joy as she ravenously devours the meal before any of the others get their share. It's a funny memory that becomes all too bittersweet when the story fast forwards to the present, where Sasha's body is brought home from battle and buried offscreen along with the other soldiers lost in Liberio, her comrades mourning over her cruel and sudden end rather than celebrating their first victory over Marley. What really drives home the weight of their loss is Mikasa leaning against what appears to be Sasha's headstone, solemnly repeating Eren's earlier words "If we win, we will survive".
- Gabi and Falco contemplating their situation while they await their fate in prison, with Gabi looking particularly agonized that everything she has fought for and believed in has apparently been all for naught. Theirs was hardly a warm welcome on Paradis, with Zeke watching on expressionless as they are led away by the Military Police, with the mourning Survey Corps ferrying the remains of Gabi's victims close behind.
- Seeing the friendship between Eren, Mikasa, and Armin become irreparably fractured in the aftermath of Eren's actions in Marley is incredibly hard to watch. After learning the truth about the world, their resulting ideologies on how to proceed eventually became too divergent for any sort of reasonable compromise, especially in Eren's case. Armin goes as far to say that he doesn't even recognize Eren anymore.
- Chapter 107:
- Sasha's friends and family continue to mourn her death. Even the normally stoic Mikasa could only sit on a nearby grave, hiding her face, clearly still in grief over her friend's death. Connie on the other hand admits that Sasha was like his twin sister and losing her was like losing a part of himself.
- Just the sight of Sasha's family visiting her grave. No parent should visit their child's grave.
- Niccolo, one of the first Marleyan soldiers who was accepted at Paradis, was attacked by an Eldian soldier who clearly blame his people for Sasha's death. Despite this, he still went the trouble to visit Sasha's grave, clearly having a thing for her since she was the first person to accept him on the island instead of treating him as a hostile.
- After so much time went into preventing it, Historia has ended up as a Baby Factory so that she and her child(ren) can inherit the Beast Titan. The poor girl looks utterly dead inside.
- Chapter 108:
- The utter disappointment in everyone's faces when it is revealed that Hizuru is not only monopolizing their resources, they will not help them in achieving a peaceful understanding with the other nations, preferring them to be hated and feared by the world. It highlights how utterly alone the nation of Paradis is in their struggles.
- Connie is mourning Sasha and in his grief he has understandably lost all his trust in Eren. Stating that if his old comrade works with Zeke, the man who destroyed his family, he will be prepared to cut him down.
- Connie's fury at the fact that Eren did not weep or get angry but laughed at Sasha's demise. Mikasa and Armin don't know the context of Eren's mind-set in that moment so they naturally assume the worst and are absolutely horrified.
- Armin almost advocating for murdering his oldest friend if they are not on the same page by transferring his Powers in advance. Even Connie and Jean, who are the most suspicious of Eren's intentions are momentarily stunned and Mikasa, the poor girl, is turning frantic at the distrust being thrown around.
- We get another example of how deeply indoctrinated Gabi is. Turning rabid on Falco for taking her armband, crying that she'll turn into a devil without it, before finally confessing some small measure of feeling for her fellow Warrior-candidate, when she says that there was no reason for him to follow her and die too.
- Back in Marley, we see a bit of the clean-up after the battle, with soldiers retrieving the shattered corpse of a child from under the rubble and his parents weeping in agony at their loss.
- Chapter 109:
- Gabi continues to prove how deep her brainwashing goes when, after hearing how Kaya's mother was slowly Eaten Alive by a three meter titan, she screams that the woman deserved it just for being an Eldian.
- Kaya slowly but surely forcing Gabi and her indoctrination-induced reasoning into a corner, arguing that even if her ancestors had committed veritable war crimes, her mother never had a part in these horrible acts as she was merely born and raised on Paradis with no knowledge of the history of her ancestors and the Marleyans, meaning she died for no real reason or justification.
- Falco admitting to Kaya that Zeke was on a recon mission, and Kaya's mother was merely caught in the crossfire of an experiment to test their enemy's power. The guilty expression on his face drives home his realization just how despicable his people really are. He doesn't even respond when Gabi berates him for revealing this information and then apologizing to Kaya.
- Chapter 111:
- Dear God, the restaurant scene. First Gabi's reveal to Niccolo to get her and Falco off Paradis backfires horribly when she brags about killing Sasha, prompting Niccolo, who was in love with Sasha, to grab a nearby bottle and take a swing at Gabi. Falco, who was perceptive enough to note that Gabi's words were only putting Niccolo further on edge, dives to protect her, taking the hit from Niccolo and getting held at knife point. Then he drags Gabi out in front of Sasha's family and reveals to them that the girl they housed and took care of murdered their daughter. Thankfully, Mr. and Mrs. Braus convince Niccolo to let Falco and Gabi go and explain how they know that they are all just trapped in a never ending cycle of violence and revenge and punishing the children for Sasha's death would serve no purpose. It's hard to imagine the unfathomable heartache Sasha's parents must feel and strength of character they both must have to spare their daughter's killer.
- Kaya, on the other hand, does not have such strength. Overcome with rage and despair, she lunges at Gabi with a knife and screams and shouts in agony about how she hates her and betrayed her and how she killed her adoptive sister. Kaya has been nothing but sweet, patient, and helpful to Gabi and Falco since they met, even when Gabi ranted to her that she and her mother deserved to suffer and die for the crimes against humanity committed by their ancestors that they had no knowledge of. Seeing her lash out in anger and break down in tears with the rest of her foster family makes Gabi finally start to get the big picture and drop the toxic ideology she held against the people of Paradis.
- Chapter 112:
- Eren verbally stomping Armin and Mikasa into the ground, showing that he's completely broken with their former close friendship and all but completed his FaceHeel Turn. Watching Mikasa break when he explains to her the nature of her Ackerman power and calls her a slave he's always hated is particularly painful. The fact that he readily beats up Armin and threatened them right at the start of their conversation, with a cut on his hand in similar fashion to the way he threatened Reiner, shows just how big the rift between him and his former friends has grown.
- Levi reflecting on his decision to protect Eren over and over again, sacrificing the lives of his dearest comrades (a panel shows Erwin, squad Levi and Mike among others) in the process, because he believed Eren represented the hope of humanity's survival. His desperate search for meaning in his friends' deaths lead him to believe he will be able to fulfill his vow to Erwin right there and then by killing Zeke, only for the latter to get the better of him.
- Even the most optimistic interpretations of Eren's actions, that he is deliberately cutting ties so to keep the Scouting Legion uninvolved in whatever he is planning, is still fairly bleak; Eren has watched time and time again as people he cared about died around him, many of them doing so to protect him and often those efforts being in vain. Now, the only way it seems that he can keep his former comrades safe is to make sure they utterly despise him.
- Chapter 113:
- The exhausted expression on Levi's face right before he comes to the painful decision to slaughter his titanized comrades makes it painfully clear just how thoroughly done he is with the whole mess.
- Chapter 114:
- The entire chapter is basically one since it finally details Zeke's Dark and Troubled Past.
- The Parental Neglect that Zeke suffered, as Grisha and Dina were more obsessed with turning him into a weapon to overthrow Marley rather than actually treating him as a son. Small wonder Zeke have issues that he will carry upon growing up and how he genuinely wants to save his half-brother, under the belief that his brother might be abused by their father, just like what he did to him. Which is not true since Grisha finally learned from his mistakes, but still...
- The sheer terror and paranoia that dogs Zeke throughout his early life, as his fears that dropping out of the Warrior program will mean he will no longer be of any value to his parents, as well as the fear what Marley will do to him if his parents are caught as Eldian restorationists.
- Zeke being ultimately pressured by Tom (who found Grisha and Dina's extremism to be disgusting) into selling out his parents (who were already under suspicion) to Marley in order to save his own life and his grandparents.
- Tom's story about how he hid his Eldian heritage from his wife when they married, and how she murdered their son and then committed suicide when she found out.
- Chapter 116: Eren's verbal beatdown has shaken Mikasa so badly that she stopped wearing her scarf. Jean and Connie notice this and try to comfort her, but Mikasa refuses to explain.
- Chapter 118:
- Connie's Heroic BSoD as he openly refuses the notion of helping Eren after feeling betrayed by his longtime comrade. Having lost everything and having been betrayed by so many close colleagues, Connie has had it and is screaming at both Onyankopon and his comrades that he cannot stand being lied to any longer. His frustration is perfectly understandable even in the midst of the terrible circumstances that are now transpiring, with Connie wondering if anything they've fought for has even mattered ever since they put their trust into Zeke's followers, and even after he calms down he has made clear that he will only help Eren so he can kill the man himself.
- Mikasa leaving behind her scarf as she prepares for battle against Eren's enemies. Even Louise is visibly troubled by this gesture, as Mikasa now seems convinced that in order to be truly free, she must abandon her inherent connection to Eren; Armin attempts to reason that Eren was likely lying about this, but Mikasa is no longer willing to take that chance, writing Eren off as a lost cause.
- Gabi's Heel Realization finally reaches its final culmination as she and Colt unite to save Falco from his captors; while in hiding from their enemies, Gabi overhears Sasha's family as they prepare to evacuate Shiganshina. When Sasha's parents express concern for Gabi and Falco, Kaya makes clear that she can never forgive them for killing her adoptive sister, and that she would personally kill them herself if given another chance. On the very of tears, Gabi finally understands what her fanaticism and prejudice has led herself and her closest friends to, and apologizes profusely to Falco for having endangered his life and his humanity in her lust for revenge. Finally seeing that the people she saw as "devils" were ordinary people just like herself, she understands the senselessness of fighting them any further and instead resolves to stop Zeke and Eren from triggering a greater holocaust.
- Nile regretting that he would never see his family again if he should be turned into a Titan, a fate he and his nearly three hundred other comrades must share in if Zeke's plan is fully realized. Falco too knows he is doomed to a similar fate if Zeke has his way, forging an unlikely camaraderie with Nile who upon being freed sends Falco away to escape back to his people.
- Chapter 119:
- Despite Colt's pleas to let him take Falco as far away from the battle as possible, Zeke transforms the poisoned Eldians, including Dot Pixis and Nile, into titans to save Eren. In the process of transforming, Falco burns Colt alive and is immediately sent to kill Reiner.
- While fighting Eren, Porco in his Jaw Titan form comes in contact with Reiner and receives his memories of when Marcel was still alive, including his confession that he tricked the army into giving Reiner the Armored Titan power so Porco doesn't have to. This in turn inspires Porco to sacrifice himself and get eaten by Falco, saving both Falco and Reiner's lives in the process.
- Eren makes one last dash towards Zeke to start the rumbling. However, Gabi manages to snipe him and blow his head clear off, in full view of the scouts and especially Zeke, who has to see 1) his plan to save the Eldians effectively ruined and 2) his little brother, whom he feels is the only one out of anyone he can trust, die right before his eyes.
- The death of Levi's former friends and comrades in A Choice With No Regrets, Isabel and Farlan. What makes it a sad irony is that the events leading to their fate is very reminiscent of Eren's choice that inadvertently caused the death of Levi's squad later. In short, they're on an expedition when a terrible storm arrives, and Levi eventually makes the decision that he will go off alone to find Erwin and kill him in the confusion than stay with Isabel and Farlan. Shortly after doing so however, he finds the remnants of a Titan attack and realizes their footprints are headed straight back to where he left his friends. He internally scolds himself for making the wrong choice and arrives just in time to see Isabel getting eaten while she tearfully calls for her "Big Bro" (what she called Levi), followed by Farlan shortly afterwards simply waving his hand sadly at him before being devoured as well.
- And it only gets worse from there. Levi proceeds to slice the Titan's belly open in a desperate attempt to save Farlan that way, only to pull out what's left of him. After a Roaring Rampage of Revenge towards all the Titans present, Levi comes across the severed head of his "little sister", a pained gaze still trapped in her eyes, causing him to fall to his knees in horror before stroking his hand over her eyes to close them.
- Levi's reaction in the OVA's adaptation takes the cake. Upon finding Isabel's remains and seeing a Titan finish off Farlan, Levi can be seen staring in shock. A moment later he unleashes his rage on the Titan, screaming the entire time in the most anguished manner. After finishing the Titan Levi is left standing over Isabel's remains, sobbing.
- The song "So ist es immer", which plays during the trio's happiest moments and is repeated at the end, in the aural equivalent of jumping up and down on the shredded remains of your heart.
- Wall Sina, Goodbye gives some more insight on Annie's guilt. She internally grieves for causing many of her comrades' deaths after the battle of Trost — including Marco's — and, the day before the 57th expedition, goes to bed with tears in her eyes. What perhaps makes it sadder is that the entire day before the expedition, she helped solving a case regarding an abducted person and illegal drug sale, earning her heartfelt gratitude at the end despite her attempt at claiming she only did it for herself, serving to show her capability and will to help people when she's not ordered otherwise. At one point, she even reveals that she doesn't understand the reason for her mission and follows through with it solely because it's what her father ordered, which might make her both more sympathetic and more scary, considering how loyally she sticks to her mission despite not believing in it.
- The death of Kare in the 2018 video game: After defeating Reiner and recovering Annie, the pursuit team is set upon by a horde of Titans attracted by the ruckus. With the cart loaded down with the crystallized Annie, Armin, Connie, Mikasa, Eren, and Kare, and Eren too weak to summon his Titan form, there's little they can do as the Titans get closer and closer. Calmly, the Player Character stands up, leaves their journal with Eren, and jumps off the back of the cart, confronting the horde head-on as the others use the distraction to escape. The recovery team does escape, but Kare is knocked down and injured. All they and the escaping recovery team can do is watch as a Titan reaches for Kare before the screen cuts to black. Back at the base, the rest of the Survey Corps are shocked and in a state of disbelief, some even outright denying that the Player Character is gone. While a scene during the credits implies that Kare may have survived to continue their adventures, the sheer level of grief felt by the Scouting Legion over the loss of someone who literally was given the moniker "Our Friend" is pretty heartbreaking.
- Of note is a scene with Hange and Erwin, with Hange looking more distraught than she has ever looked before over Kare's death. It should be noted that she was the one who introduced Kare to the Scouting Legion at Trost, and was the one who saw their fighting potential, effectively putting her and Kare in a similar relationship that Eren and Levi had. By the look of things in the scene, she must be trying to convince Erwin to send a search party to find them, only it seems to be in vain, since Erwin doesn't budge.
- Shortly before the sacrifice scene, Kare sees the Armored Titan down, and sees an opportunity for payback for what Reiner did to their parents. They advance on him, but then Armin restrains them and tells Kare there is no time with the Titan horde approaching. Kare turns away to help the recovery team, but you can literally see their hands shaking in rage in grief. Imagine having the one responsible for the death of your family within reach to exact vengeance, only to have that chance slip away...