Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) showcased one of the most poignant moments in its third season with the death of Erwin Smith, the commander of the Scout Regiment.
His death is a significant turning point in the narrative and serves as a testament to the series’ exploration of sacrifice, leadership, and the human spirit.
Who was Erwin Smith?
Erwin Smith was the 13th commander of the Scout Regiment, a military division tasked with exploring outside the walls and combating the Titans. He was known for his strategic mind, unwavering resolve, and a deep sense of responsibility towards humanity’s survival.
Under his leadership, the Scout Regiment had several significant victories against the Titans and unearthed many secrets about their origin and nature.
Unfortunately, he also became infamous for sacrificing innocent lives in his endeavor to discover the secrets of the walls and the world beyond them.
The Beast Titan
The event leading to Erwin’s death was the Battle of Shiganshina, one of the series’ most intense confrontations that occurs in Season 3 Part 2.
The Scouts aimed to reclaim Wall Maria from the Titans and discover the secrets in Eren Jaeager’s basement. However, the mission became extremely perilous when the Beast Titan, controlled by Zeke Jaeager, and his forces trapped them within Shiganshina.
With most of the regiment’s soldiers decimated and their paths blocked, Erwin devised a desperate plan.
He proposed a suicide charge against the Beast Titan and his tactic was designed to distract him long enough for Levi Ackerman, to get close and eliminate him.
Before the charge, Erwin had a heart-to-heart conversation with Levi. He admitted his personal desire to see the basement and uncover the truth of the world, a dream he had chased since his youth.
This ambition was fueled by his father’s theories about the world beyond the walls, which eventually led to his death at the hands of the government.
Levi, understanding the weight of Erwin’s desires, still urged him to lead the charge and likely die in exchange for a promise that he would eliminate Zeke.
Erwin, demonstrating his commitment to humanity, gave up on his dream to give humanity a fighting chance.
The Final Charge
With a stirring speech, the commander rallied the remaining soldiers, invoking their comrades’ memories and the importance of their sacrifice.
The screaming Scouts rushed towards their deaths, with Erwin leading the charge. He was struck viciously during this assault by the Beast Titan’s barrage of rocks.
While the charge resulted in massive casualties, it succeeded in its primary goal. Levi reached Zeke and incapacitated him, though he wasn’t able to kill him as Pieck (in her Cart Titan form) came to the rescue.
An Impossible Choice
After the battle, Erwin was found gravely injured but alive by Floch who brought him to Levi.
The Scouts faced a heart-wrenching decision: use a Titan serum injection to save Erwin or Armin Arlert, who had also been critically injured while defeating the Colossal Titan.
After a heated debate, the serum was given to Armin, who ate Bertholdt and acquired the Colossal’s powers. Although Levi wanted to pick Erwin initially, he realized that the commander had given his all to save humanity, and finally decided to let him rest.