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This article is about Erwin Smith. For other uses of this name, see Erwin Smith (Disambiguation).


Survey Corps Commanders
◄ Preceded by 13th
Erwin Smith
(845-850)
Followed by ►
12th
Keith Shadis (830-845)
14th
Hange Zoë (850-Current)
Quote1 How did they find out that there aren't any humans outside the Walls? Quote2
— Erwin asks his father his life changing question.[4]

Erwin Smith (エルヴィン・スミス Eruvin Sumisu?), often formally referred to as Commander Erwin Smith (エルヴィン・スミス団長 Eruvin Sumisu Danchō?), was the 13th commander of the Survey Corps. Discerning, intelligent, and widely respected, Erwin was an able commander. While he cared deeply for his men, he did not hesitate to sacrifice them for the good and prosperity of mankind, and his men have proven more than willing to stake their lives at his order. Erwin developed the Long-Distance Enemy Scouting Formation, and due to much pressure on the Survey Corps, he later named Hange Zoë as his successor.[5]

Appearance

Erwin missing arm

Erwin's missing arm

Erwin had a commanding presence. He stood at 6'2", with his blond hair kept neatly parted on the left side.

Erwin always wore a calm, collected expression on his face, his icy blue eyes being one of his most striking features. His eyebrows were also quite noticeable, being very thick and bushy.

Erwin typically dressed in the standard military uniform, donning the Survey Corps' signature green cape when on missions. He also wore a small, emerald bolo tie around his neck just like the other military commanders, Nile Dok and Dot Pixis.

Following the second appearance of the Armored Titan, Erwin lost his right arm just below his shoulder as it was bitten off by a Titan.[6]

Personality

Erwin was a complex character, portrayed as serious, calculating, seeing and planning far for the future. While he trusted his men, he was the first to realize that there was a spy interfering with the Survey Corps and arranged for his/her capture. He was an eloquent speaker, able to sway many people, such as the war tribunal held to judge Eren and the trainees choosing recruitment branches to join.

Erwin was very grim. He accepts all news, good or bad, mockery or praise, with the same attitude because he knew his objectives and will follow through with them. His ultimate goal was for humanity to once again rise up and become the dominant species; a goal he was willing to sacrifice anything for. Even with his arm caught in a Titan's mouth he ordered everyone to save Eren.[7]

He shared this unique stoic quality with men such as Head Administrator Dot Pixis, squad leader Ian Dietrich and Commander-in-Chief Darius Zackly. As Armin put it, Erwin, like the aforementioned three men, had the ability to send his men to die if it would further the cause of humanity. He and they would sacrifice their own humanity in order to bring change to a world where those who cannot sacrifice things important to them will not change anything. Since he was able to do that he was a master strategist, shown multiple times through actions like capturing the Female Titan and leading a group of Titans to distract the Armored Titan so he could save Eren.

Behind his front of assurance and single-minded determination, Erwin revealed he still has his human side. Following the rebellion, he admitted he understood his audacious actions and questioned constantly if what he was doing was the right thing.[8] He also showed remorse after sacrificing countless others for the sake of his ambitions, viewing himself as selfish. Even so, Erwin still held a firm resolve to protect humanity's future as well as understand the world within the walls, a dream he had held onto since his childhood.[9] His dream of understanding the world was so strong that he confessed to Levi that he considered it more important that the victory of the humanity.[10]

History

Erwin's father was a brilliant teacher, but also intensely curious about the mysteries of the world. Erwin was among the students taught in his classroom, and during a lesson on the history of humanity, he asked a question that his father could not genuinely answer. Later that evening, his father secretly shared with him a heretical theory: the official text books distributed by the government contained many contradictions. All knowledge of the outside world was declared taboo 107 years prior, but even that would not have prevented the first generation from telling their children stories. He had concluded that the first generation's memories had been altered, allowing the monarchy to control them better.

Innocent of the danger, Erwin shared this theory with other children. This drew the attention of the Military Police's First Interior Squad, who approached him and inquired about his father's theories. Later that day, his father was killed in an accident in another town. However, Erwin correctly guessed that his father had been murdered for getting too close to the truth. From then on, he devoted his life to proving his father's theories true.[11]

Towards the end of his story, Erwin tells that he would enlist in the military and join the Survey Corps. During training, he became friends with Nile Dok. He would serve as a trusted officer to Commander Keith Shadis, eventually taking his place when the other retired and became an instructor. During his time as an officer before the fall of Wall Maria, he fought alongside notable soldiers such as Mike Zacharias, and eventually, Levi.

Story

Fall of Shiganshina arc

Erwin is first introduced taking part in the latest scouting expedition before the fall of Wall Maria. Bystanders are wishing him good luck as he embarks.[12]

Battle of Trost District arc

He is later formally introduced when the Survey Corps is clearing a town inside Wall Maria. They discover Titans are moving north, towards the Trost District of Wall Rose. Fearing a breach, they head to Trost District and narrowly save a trapped Eren, Armin, and Mikasa after their mission to block the hole is complete.[13]

Erwin next appears when Eren recovers from his three day coma and is kept in a jail cell beneath the military court. He explains to Eren that his Titan powers have caused an uproar within the walls. He has taken the key to Eren's basement and asks if the secret to Titans is located in the basement, to which Eren replies that he thinks it is. Erwin then formulates a plan to use Eren's Titan form to retake Wall Maria so they can investigate the basement.[14]

The Female Titan arc

Erwin's mysterious question

Erwin asks Eren who the real enemy is in order to gauge his reaction

He appears at the trial of Eren Yeager and argues that Eren should live, in direct opposition to Nile Dok. He then makes a proposal that Eren be entrusted to the Survey Corps so that they can determine if he is helpful, which Darius Zackly agrees to. He welcomes Eren into the Survey Corps and shakes his hand.[15]

After the death of the Titan research subjects, Bean and Sonny, he tests everyone in the Survey Corps by asking them a direct, but confusing question to gauge their reactions. When this turns everyone innocent, he begins planning the next expedition to capture the spy, guessing they have abilities similar to Eren and are intent on sabotaging the expedition.[16]

Erwin later appears at the recruitment drive where the 104th Training Corps choose their path. He makes an impassioned plea that the Survey Corps and Eren represent the hope of humanity, although he is very realistic in telling them that a sizable number of them will die. His speech and other factors succeed in recruiting every remaining member of the top 10 graduates except Annie, who joins the Military Police Brigade.[17]

Erwin leads the 57th expedition and deploys his Formation for Long Distance Enemy Detection to ensure that casualties are kept to a minimum. After the Female Titan appears and decimates part of the group, he enters a Titan Forest and sets up a trap in order to capture her. [18] She chases after Eren and kills many Survey Corps members but does fall into Erwin's trap and is unable to move. [19] After Levi provokes her and she summons Titans to come eat her, he orders all soldiers to defend her. However, the loss of life is increasing at a massive scale and Erwin is forced to order a retreat and surrender the Female Titan.[20]

For the costly failure of this mission, Erwin is blamed and summoned to the Imperial Capital to explain. However, he trusts Armin's gamble that Annie Leonhart is the Titan and orders her covert capture en route to the meeting. After arriving in the capital to coordinate the plan with Levi, he is questioned by Nile Dok who orders his troops to support the operation.[21]

She is eventually apprehended and Erwin goes into an emergency meeting held to sort out the day's events. He manages to convince the council that despite the expedition failure and subsequent death of some civilians in the inner city, they finally catch the Female Titan successfully and this indicates that there must be more of her kind hiding among them.

Clash of the Titans arc

Erwin next appears on top of Wall Rose, telling Dot Pixis that the government has sent members of the Military Police to assist the Survey Corps and Garrison, in dealing with the breach of Wall Rose. A Garrison member arrives and informs Pixis that there is no breach in Wall Rose. He also tells the assembled group that three more Titan Shifters have been identified, Reiner, Bertolt, and Ymir. He quickly gathers soldiers from all three military branches and heads for the scene of battle.[22]

Erwin arrives with the combined military forces but is five hours too late to save Eren. More soldiers agree to join him on the expedition and Hange Zoë informs them that they are most likely in a Titan Forest, still within Wall Maria. With this information in hand, Erwin deploys the Formation for Long Distance Enemy Detection and sets off to rescue Eren.[23]

Upon sight that Eren has been captured by Reiner, Bertolt, and Ymir, he orders all squads to go ahead with him and let the Titans follow them, much to the dismay of the fellow soldiers who call him a monster believing he uses them as decoys. Erwin assures them that is not his intention, and claims that the Military Police fights admirably and that his men should fulfill their duty as soldiers.[24]
Erwin loses his arm

A Titan captures Erwin's right arm

As the 104th were reunited they along with Hannes watch in shock as Erwin leads a pack of Titans right to them. The group is forced to briefly retreat and watch as the Armored Titan is overwhelmed by the horde. Erwin orders them to head into battle, stating that humanity has no future if Eren is lost. However, as he leads the charge a Titan manages to catch him by his right arm and drags him from his horse. He orders the others to continue the mission, while a handful stay behind to fight the Titan chewing on him.[7]
Erwin attacks Bertolt

A wounded Erwin releases Eren from Bertolt

His fate is revealed a short time later, when he manages to ambush and wound Bertolt. This allows Eren to be rescued, and Erwin immediately orders all surviving forces to retreat. Though still alive, his right arm has been severed just below the shoulder with a makeshift tourniquet secured around the stump. Ignoring his injuries, he continues to command the mission.[7] The retreat fails, however, when the Armored Titan panics and begins to throw Titans to block their path. The retreat and the mission to rescue Eren ultimately succeeds in the end when Eren unknowingly uses his powers to control other Titans to attack the Armored Titan and Bertolt.[25]

The Uprising arc

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Erwin's reaction to Hange's Theory

While recovering in the hospital, Erwin reacts to Hange's theory that Titans are actually humans

Erwin arrives back on top of the wall but loses consciousness due to his injury. A week later, still recovering, Erwin has a meeting with Levi and Dot Pixis. Pixis explains that the citizens took refuge in underground cities during the supposed breach of Wall Rose. There was a food shortage after a week and many citizens were forced to violence. Wall Rose was declared safe. Levi apologizes to Erwin that he has to hear all this in his condition but Erwin assures Levi that he is fine.

As Levi expresses remorse for Erwin's lost arm he is told by Erwin that he has caused the deaths of so many that one arm does not make up for that.  Hange and Connie Springer appear to report on the breach of Wall Rose. Ragako village, where Connie is from, turns out to be the focal point of the investigation. Despite the evidence pointing to explosions as the cause of death in Connie's village there was no blood found. In addition to finding no survivors in Ragako, the number of Titans inside Wall Rose was equal to the population of Ragako. Hange states her theory that Titans are humans. She backs this up by pointing out the fact that the weak point of Titans correlates to the spinal cord of a human.

Levi notices Erwin has not reacted to Hange's theory. He finds Erwin smiling which causes Levi to call him creepy, a statement Erwin agrees with. Erwin asks where Eren and Krista are and Hange responds that they are being hidden. Levi lets Erwin know that he recruited his new Squad and moved them somewhere safe. The new Special Operations Squad is Armin, Connie, Eren, Krista, Jean, Mikasa and Sasha. [26]
Erwin and Nile in carriage

Erwin and Nile meet in the capital to discuss Minister Nick's murder, their past, and Eren

After being released from the hospital, Erwin arrives in the capitol and shares a carriage ride with Nile Dok. Erwin is shocked to see child robbers and Nile explains that it has become far too common. Erwin brings up the fact that Minister Nick was tortured to death by the Military Police's First Interior Squad. He is surprised to learn that Nile has no knowledge of it.  As Erwin leaves the carriage he admits to having loved Marie. Nile already knew and always considered Erwin crazy for choosing Titans over her. At a rural location, Levi tells his squad about Erwin's orders to allow Eren and Krista to be captured and then followed in order to gather information.[27]

Unsatisfied with the results of his meeting, Erwin goes to meet with Dot Pixis and proposes that the military stage a coup d'etat.[28] The two commanders discuss the risks involved with such a plan, including the potential bloodshed and being executed as traitors if it fails. Erwin states his intentions to simply replace the King rather than killing him, but asks Pixis to wait with him for confirmation of the final piece of the plan. In the meantime, he recounts the events of his childhood that shaped the course of his life. Based upon his father's theories, and the evidence they have gained concerning the Titans, the Walls, and Eren's powers, he concludes that 107 years ago, the memories of humanity were altered to erase knowledge of the outside world.[29]

A messenger arrives with a note for him, confirming the final piece necessary for their revolution. Erwin proposes that they dispose of the King and replace him with Historia Reiss, the bastard child of the "true" rulers of humanity. [30] Nifa then reveals that she was present at Erwin and Pixis' meeting and tells Levi's squad, along with Dimo Reeves and his son, that Erwin has formulated a plan to have Eren and Historia captured so that they can find Rod Reiss. Once they find him, they will force him to answer questions about his true intentions and will replace him with Historia if his answers are not sufficient.[31]

The following day, Erwin is still in the same house located in Trost District when Hange bursts in. She explains to Erwin that Eren remembered details of his kidnapping and that their plans must be altered. She explains how Ymir was a regular Titan who gained the ability to shift after eating Marcel, she then draws the conclusion that Rod Reiss intends to eat Eren in order to gain his 'coordinate' abilities. Erwin speculates why Historia is so important since she is a bastard child and never took vows with the wall cult, which he believes is connected to the royal family. He is then informed that the Military Police is looking for him on charges of murder. Due to the threat against himself, he appoints Hange the next commander of the Survey Corps should anything happen to him and decides that Levi is best equipped to deal with his squad himself. He heads outside by saying that Pixis refused to help in their revolution.[32]

Once outside, an older looking Military Police member questions Erwin about the death of Dimo Reeves and accuses the Survey Corps. He believes that they wanted to rescue Eren Yeager and thus committed these crimes. He subsequently orders that the Survey Corps cease all activities and informs Erwin that the Military Police are now in charge of it. Erwin looks at Reeves and comes to the correct conclusion that it was carried out by the First Interior Squad of the Military Police, before promising to avenge his death. He then enters the carriage and is taken away by the Military Police.[33]

A member of the First Interior Squad captured by Levi's squad claims that the Survey Corps is finished and that only by surrendering can Levi save Erwin from being the first one executed. His words later appear to be true as an injured Erwin appears before the King, who asks him if he has any last words.[34]

Erwin Lead to the Gallows

Erwin is led away to the gallows after his impassioned plea

Outside the King's Throne Room, the citizens talk among themselves about how Erwin is likely to die soon, noticing the gallows being erected. Erwin, clearly having been tortured, begins to explains to the Monarchy that losing the Survey Corps would be disastrous. He compares them to a spear that eliminates threats, not a shield. He goes on that if Wall Rose is breached there will not be enough supplies in Wall Sheena. This will inevitably lead to a civil war, since the divisions of the walls would be much worse with the citizenry living together. A government official questions if the Survey Corps could prevent all this, to which Erwin responds that their job is to be proactive. Remaining on the defense will never solve anything he notes, unless the monarchy has a backup plan. The government official goes over Erwin's repeated story but notes that things have changed, like Levi killing several First Interior Squad members. This action is clearly against peace and the blades of Levi sing a treasonous song, so there is no longer a need for the Survey Corps. Dot Pixis is present and asked if he also shares these convictions. Although he replies that he does not, he does make an exception by stating that pushing humanity towards destruction is foolish. Erwin and Pixis exchange glances and flash back to their meeting where Erwin asked Pixis to join the coup. It is revealed that Pixis refused to help because the monarchy has the ability to control Titans, something essential for humanity that Erwin Smith cannot guarantee they would retain after the coup. Pixis told Erwin that he is too confident and that he would not gamble the existence of humanity. Back in the present, Erwin is told he is finished as his mind begins to wander. He believes he has said everything and that humanity cannot be saved by his efforts alone.[35]

Erwin is Freed

Erwin is freed and absolved of all charges

Just as he is being escorted out of the building, Anka Rheinberger bursts in and announces that the Colossus Titan and Armored Titan have breached Wall Rose. Several refugees are already on their way to Wall Sheena. This shocks everyone in the room, especially Nile Dok who thinks back to his conversation with Erwin in the Military Police torture chamber. Nile told Erwin that his dismal state is ironic, considering he was lecturing Nile earlier. He informed Erwin that King had summoned him and it was very likely that he would disband the Survey Cops and punish Erwin. Erwin asked if Nile's wife Marie and their kids were okay, and Nile replied that they were in Karanes District and should be fine. Erwin revealed to Nile that he entrusted Pixis with a task and that when the times comes, he will be judging Nile to see his decision, along with the monarchy. Pixis announces that all Garrison troops are to move towards the breach and assist people, however this is overruled by a government official who orders Wall Sheena to be closed down. This move shocks everyone present because it would doom half of humanity. He rationalizes this decision by claiming that a civil war will start and that 'those guys' will have that power in a few days. Nile Dok refuses to follow this order and announces that he is prepared to betray the King to do so, prompting Darius Zackly to agree with him. Commander-in-Chief Zackly appears armed with a group of soldiers and announces that the panic was just a fabrication. Erwin thinks back to when he talked about this with Pixis. Erwin proposed asking the monarchy if they were still fit to lead. Pixis claims responsibility and announces that had the monarchy responded benevolently, he would have confessed the plot and served them. The same government official who ordered the walls closed berates the conspirators, shouting that the people and the nobility are loyal to the monarchy. Zackly calmly tells them that the decision is no longer up to them as he hands Erwin a report. It is from the Berg Newspapers and announces the testimony of Flegel Reeves, who says the First Interior Squad killed Dimo Reeves and that the Survey Corps is being framed. It also makes clear the press has been forced to print propaganda by the monarchy and that King Fritz is just a puppet for a noble family who remains secluded. As the government official yells at the senile old King, Nile Dok tells Erwin that he won the bet. This causes Erwin to remark that humanity must now embark on a perilous task. Later, Hange states that the capital and its administrative areas are under the control of Darius Zackly.[36]

Erwin and Zackly in a Carriage

Erwin and Zackly discuss their motivations for the revolution

Erwin appears with two guards and Zackly on top of the execution platform. He is then quickly led into a carriage with Zackly as Nile Dok takes over public relations for the newly formed government. The citizens ask if the government impeding advancement and dooming half of them were the reasons for the coup d'etat and Nile replies that they are. Nile does however clarify that their objective is not to have military rule inside the walls. He goes on to say that the Fritz Royal Family were just puppets for the real rulers, who hid from a crisis and this led to distrust. Nile continues by saying that soldiers must protect humanity and so their goal is to return the real rulers to the forefront of humanity. Nile asks if they have any questions and proudly notes that those who censored the populace are in prison now. A reporter is glad that censorship is over but is worried as the reactions from the populace are complex, in particular with the nobles who are concerned about whether or not the military will relinquish their power. He asks Nile if the true royals could garner the same reverence the Fritz family had, and concludes by asking what should they believe in and hope for. Erwin begins his meeting by depressingly saying that they should have left the previous government in charge. Despite being corrupt they have experience in keeping humanity alive. He adds that perhaps they should have left Eren's Titan power and the plan to retake Wall Maria with them. Erwin confesses that his thoughts are different from his comrades, and perhaps abandoning the entire Survey Corps would have been better, if Erwin truly wanted to save humanity. Zackly responds that he is being harsh, as usual, and bluntly suggests that death would have been better for Erwin. Erwin asks why Zackly went along with the revolution and he responds by asking why Erwin made the proposal to Pixis. Zackly tells Erwin that if he wanted to do all that he could have avoided the deal with Pixis and ordered the Survey Corps to not move. Erwin then thinks of his meeting with Pixis and when he told Hange that the negotiations fell through. As Erwin struggles to answer, Zackly decides to answer the question Erwin asked earlier. He admits to Erwin that he hated the monarchy for a long time. He elaborates that they act high and mighty and he has waited for this day while acting like their loyal servant to reach his position. He excitedly asks Erwin if he saw the look on their faces and remarks that it was more than he could have hoped. However, Zackly announces that the best has yet to come since he has been thinking about how to humiliate them for a decade. Zackly summarizes by saying that he was likely going to try overthrowing them before he died anyway. After saying that he would not have surrendered like Pixis planned on he adds that he does not care whether the revolution bodes well for humanity; finally concluding that he is quite a villain. Erwin says that he is one too. Zackly says that since Erwin allowed others to decide humanity's path he should not run away now that things got tougher. He goes on to say that Erwin did not want to die and like himself, he prioritizes the individual over the fate of humanity. Erwin responds to the questions about his rationale by saying that he has a dream and thinks of his father.[37]

Erwin heads to the Reiss Chapel

Erwin and Moblit head to the Reiss Chapel in order to save Eren and Historia

Erwin, Pixis, and Anka arrive at a military barracks swarming with Survey Corps soldiers. Pixis announces that during interrogation the government leaders all confirmed what Erwin and his father thought, the Reiss family can alter people's memories with some blood lines are unaffected. Pixis believes that if they acquire Eren's powers and combine it with their memory power they will be able to erase the memory of the revolution. Pixis dismissed this thought since the government officials are in the hands of Zackly. The Garrison commander does admit that he can not understand Zackly and questions what kind of person devotes their entire life to that, referring to Zackly's sick and cruel torture methods. Erwin is surprised that Pixis knew the truth about Zackly and Pixis admits that he said too much by accident. While he did nothing to stop Zackly just as Erwin did, Pixis is quick to say that he cares more about humanity than his own life, unlike Erwin. He tells Erwin that he supported the coup because he believed it was in the best interest of humanity, in fact he was prepared to fight Zackly if the monarchy acted benevolently. Pixis casually remarks that the revolution was only moments ago and they are already fighting among themselves. In extension he asks how long people have been fighting people. As Moblit Berner tells Erwin that the soldiers are ready to go, Erwin coldly remarks to Pixis that humans will only stop fighting when there are one or fewer left. Pixis laughs off Erwin's comment and tells him that he does not want to hear such faulty logic. On horseback, Erwin puts his cloak on and announces to his soldiers that they are heading to the Reiss chapel in order to save Eren and Historia.[38]

Erwin at the chapel

Erwin arrives at the destroyed Reiss Chapel, finds Rod Reiss as a massive Titan, and reunites with Levi's squad

Finally arriving at the Reiss chapel, Erwin and the Survey Corps find the land around it completely destroyed, appearing as though a cave collapsed. Erwin shouts at his men to stay back from a giant Titan that is roaming around while being hot enough to ignite trees. Erwin orders his men to begin evacuating civilians before speculating himself about the route this Titan is going on. One Survey Corps member alerts Erwin to Squad Levi in the area, who have apparently rescued Eren and Historia. Erwin catches up to Levi's squad just as Eren is attempting to use his coordinate power to control the lone Titan. After Levi and Erwin confirm who the other is, Erwin inquires about the well-being of the squad. Levi tells him that only Hange is hurt, which Erwin does not think is too bad. Hange waves while greeting Erwin and Eren notices him. He tells them that they have all done a good job before Levi brings Erwin up to speed by telling him that Eren's power is not working. He begins to say that he has many things to tell Erwin before being cut off by the commander who asks about the lone Titan. Levi tells him that it is Rod Reiss and ends by saying that they need to hear Erwin's opinion. Erwin and the rest of the Survey Corps arrive in Orvud District in northern Wall Sheena. Erwin tells the local Garrison commander that the Titan is headed towards them. The commander yells at Erwin for his suggestion to not evacuate the citizens and notes that it will arrive by dawn. Hange intervenes and tells him that it is abnormal, prompting him to ask why that matters. Hange explains that as an abnormal Titan it will be attracted by lots of people, so by evacuating the people you will lead the Titan to Mitras where it will cause immense damage. The commander begins to questions what Hange has said but Erwin intervenes and tells him that they need to kill the Titan here, by using the citizens of Orvud District as bait. Erwin clarifies that as soldiers they still have a duty to defend the citizens and will do everything to prevent their death. He asks the commander to tell the people of Orvud that there is an emergency drill so that they can easily be moved in case of emergency. The commander grimaces at the news but concludes they have no choice. Erwin reveals his plan to use cannons on top of the walls due to the how slow and large the Titan is. However, he announces that they will use the Survey Corps' finest if this plan fails. The military begins to prepare for the coming battle and has placed numerous cannons on the walls by the time dawn, and the Titan, arrive.[39]

Erwin talking to Historia

Erwin tells Historia she cannot take part in the operation due to her status as future queen, and is intrigued when she questions his order

As the Garrison commander of Orvud District orders the cannons to fire on Rod, Erwin and the rest of the Survey Corps watch on. After the first volley, Erwin asks Levi what happened as all they can see is smoke. After Rod continues to move and the Garrison keeps firing, Erwin remarks that the ground cannons work poorly and the higher cannons do not have the proper angle to hit the nape. Erwin goes on by saying that they have a mixture of soldiers, scrapped-up cannons, and poor leadership. He attributes this to Orvud being on the north of Wall Sheena, away from most Titan attacks that occur in the south. He does add that they have the best fighting force in the Survey Corps and Levi agrees, although he does note that like all Erwin's plans this is a gamble. Hange then arrives with gunpowder, a net, and some ropes. Moblit wheels out gunpowder modified with Vertical Equipment to fire farther. Hange inquires about the shelling and Levi likens it to little more than pissing on Rod. Erwin orders Jean, Sasha, Levi, and Connie to handle one side of the wall. He then compares setting up their net gunpowder trap to stuffing a sock full of rocks. Erwin tells Historia that since she is going to be the queen she should not be on the front lines. Historia rhetorically asks if Erwin thinks the people are naive enough to follow her just due to her name. She looks Erwin squarely in the eyes and tells him that she has her own thoughts on the subject and has a mission to carry out. Erwin begins to walk away and tells her that she still can not fight, prompting Historia to complain. Erwin cuts her off and says that it seems unlikely he would be able to stop her given his missing arm. As the cannons resume firing Eren notices that the children watching the walls and like himself, Armin, and Mikasa on the day Shiganshina fell. Armin adds that if they think a Titan bigger then the walls does not exist they are dead wrong. Armin continues by saying that unlike Shiganshina, they have soldiers who can fight back, and they are those soldiers. Hange orders them to stack the gunpowder three high as Mikasa tells Eren to stop standing around and get working. Eren shockingly punches himself in the face and shrugs off the concern of Mikasa and Armin, telling them that he had to beat up a useless pathetic brat. With the nape exposed the garrison commander confidently announces that one more volley will do it but unfortunately, the wind changes and the heat from Rod comes towards the wall. As the Garrison blindly fires, Erwin remarks that they were too late as Rod stands up using the wall as support. Nearly twice the size of the wall, Rod's face is sanded off from being dragged and he lets out a scream. Erwin fires a flare and commences the attack, resulting in the modified Vertical Equipment gunpowder barrels tunnelling into Rod's hands and then exploding from the heat. Erwin then yells for Eren to begin his part, and he dashes towards Rod in his Titan from carrying the net full of gunpowder barrels. Eren calls back to the planning for the meeting, where Levi said they need to shove gunpowder into it is mouth, and Erwin replied that they need to hope it blows up the nape. Levi explained that the Titan is so hot it will ignite the gunpowder if it is mouth is open. Erwin adds that they need an interior explosion for this to work, and their gambling on the mouth being open due to Rod dragging his face along the ground. Eren shoves the gunpowder into Rod's mouth and it ignites, sending pieces of the Titan flying. Erwin orders the Survey Corps to use their equipment and attack the pieces. Historia eventually finds the blown off nape and kills Rod.[40]

Two months after Historia has been crowned as queen, the technology has advanced quickly. Thanks to the Military Police's experiments and Eren's hardening abilities, new weapons are being created that allow soldiers to kill Titan without taking risks.[41] In an army's reunion, Erwin explains that the Titan Guillotine is a success and that they have started to prepare the road to the conquest of Shiganshina and announces that preparations will be ready in a month.[42] Even with the doubts of other officials, Erwin promises to give his life and those of his comrades to retake the lost territory.[43]

After the meeting, Erwin, Pixis, Hange, Levi and Zackly have a secret reunion. They talk about the serum that Kenny gave Levi. Hange explains that analyzing it is impossible because the fluid evaporates in contact with air.[44] Pixis then decides that it must be used as its own purpose. They decide to gave the vial to Levi because he is the strongest soldier. Erwin gives Levi the right of using it at his own will. Levi finally accepts and he takes care of the vial.[45]

Return to Shiganshina arc

In the Trost District, the Survey Corps' head members are having a meeting about Keith Shadis' revelation. Erwin listens as Hange explains that Grisha Yeager was a Titan Shifter from outside the Walls. They then discuss why Grisha did not speak of the information he had to the Survey Corps but also committed the killing of the Reiss family the day Wall Maria fell.[46] They theorize about what may be hidden in the basement of Grisha's house as Erwin suggests that it may be the memories of the world that the Reiss family tried to erase.[47]

Erwin then announces that the operation to retake Wall Maria is ready and will commence in two days, promising to see the basement.[48] When the meeting ends, Levi closes the door behind the other members and begins to warn Erwin. He tries to convince him, with the threat of breaking his legs, to stay behind in the Trost District due to the fact that his missing arm would make him "Titan food", especially on the front lines. However, Erwin confesses that seeing what is in the basement is more important to him than living and that he must be there to see this moment for humanity. After hearing this, Levi gives up and realizes that he will unfortunately not be able to change the Commander's mind.[49]

The Survey Corps Take Off

Erwin leads the expedition towards Shiganshina

The day of the operation, all soldiers are ready at dawn.[50] Erwin and other high-ranking soldiers salute to members of the other branches and head to the Wall. However, the soldiers are surprised after seeing that the civilians know about the operation's goals and start to cheer for them.[51] Erwin, seeing the best sends off the Survey Corps has ever received, cheers a loud scream back at them as he raises his one arm into the air, leaving his subordinates surprised for this unusual reaction. He then orders the start of the operation, and the members of the Survey Corps start their path towards Shiganshina District as Erwin leads them, yelling for them to once again, advance.[52]

Upon arriving in Shiganshina, Erwin commands the soldiers to switch to Vertical Maneuvering Equipment and rush the gate, as he himself also switches to Vertical Equipment.[53] Erwin is aware that their enemies know about the operation to seal the wall and investigate the basement, so he has 100 soldiers covered by their hoods rush the gate so that the enemy will be unable to know which soldier is Eren until he has sealed the gate.[54] The corps' becomes wary of the complete lack of Titans in the area, but they choose to continue with the mission anyway, aware they are playing into the enemies' hands. The corps' stand by and prepare for the closing of the wall as Eren flies up above the gate and prepares to transform.[55]

The Survey Corps prepare to face battle

The Survey Corps prepare to face battle

After Eren seals the breach in the southern gate of Wall Maria, Armin informs the Commander of the remains of a camp site atop the wall as well as cold cups lying on the ground. Erwin rightly speculates that the enemy had foreseen their arrival, and he gives Armin authority over an investigation of the wall.[56] Just after Reiner is found within the wall and unsuccessfully attacked by Captain Levi, Erwin spots The Beast Titan and a horde of other Titans from beyond the northern gate. The Beast Titan launches a rock at Shiganshina's outer gate and traps the Survey Corps' horses outside, making escape into the district impossible. This begins a war and Erwin states that only one of them, the humans or the Titans, will leave alive.[57] When Zeke begins the battle, Erwin orders Dirk, Marlene, and their squads to join with Klaus Squad in protecting the horses north of the district. He also gives Levi the order to kill the Beast Titan, and he sends Armin to join with Hange's squad in the attack on the Armored Titan outside the district.[58]

Erwin atop a mountain of corpses

Erwin atop a mountain of corpses

While the battle of Shiganshina is waged to the north and in the city, Erwin contemplates the morality of his choices as Commander of the Survey Corps, sending untold hundreds of soldiers to their deaths for the sake of his lies and personal dreams.[59] From atop the wall, he witnesses Bertolt being thrown into the district by Zeke[60] as well as his subsequent transformation into the Colossus Titan.[61] Seeing the Colossus Titan, Erwin questions if everything is going according to the Beast Titans plan.[62] When Zeke begins assaulting the Survey Corps to the north with a barrage of stones and boulders, Erwin orders their retreat and joins with them at the base of the wall. Erwin informs Captain Levi of their desperate situation, having lost many of their soldiers as well as their advantage in the battle. As the new recruits descend into a panic, Levi asks the Commander if he has any more ideas.[63] Seeing the inevitable defeat of the Survey Corps, Erwin begins to grieve over the failure of his attempts to learn the truth of the world. He thinks back on the many soldiers that died for the sake of humanity. Levi decides to make the choice of action on Erwin's behalf: Erwin must give up on his dreams and die with the recruits while Levi battles the Beast Titan. Despite his dreams coming to a bitter end, Erwin is relieved.[64]
Charge of the Survey Corps

Erwin leads the charge against the Beast Titan

Standing before the panicked recruits, Erwin announces their plan to charge head-on against the Beast Titan using smoke signals as cover while Levi moves in from the side to confront him, using the line of Titans as a means of clearing the distance. The recruits are distraught at the plan, asking if it is even worth the effort if they will die anyway. Erwin admits that the decisions of the recruits to fight or abandon their duties are meaningless, but the lives of the soldiers who will die are not without meaning. He declares that it is the duty of the living to give meaning to the dead, and that they must carry out their duty in a way that the living will give their own deaths meaning. The recruits agree to ride forth to their deaths. Using smoke signals as cover, they charge the Beast Titan head-on with battle cries. Charging into the fray, Erwin urges the soldiers to let their blood boil, to let their voices be heard, and fight. Erwin is struck in the hip by a flying stone at the front of the charge.[65]

After the first barrage of rocks is thrown, Erwin is struck and a rock flies through the left side of his waist and through his horses head and neck. In pain and near death, Erwin throws his head forward and smiles in determination shortly before his now dead horse collapses. Though Erwin's subordinates are shocked, Marlowe Sand urges them forward just as the commander ordered.[66] After Levi brutally assaults the Beast Titan and cuts Zeke out of its nape, he wonders if there is anyone within the wreckage of Survey Corps corpses that he could give the Titan serum too so that they may eat Zeke and gain the Beast Titan's power. Unfortunately, his thought is interrupted when the Quadrupedal Titan snatches Zeke and carries him away in his mouth. After the surrounding Titans are given orders to kill Levi, he remembers his promise to Erwin which he rode to his death for. Refusing to let him down, Levi exchanges his swords and begins to attack the Titans and chase Zeke.[67]

In the meantime Eren successfully cuts Bertolt out of his Titan[68] and holds him hostage on one of the rooftops. Zeke attempts to talk Eren into joining his side, but then is interrupted when he sees Levi (having killed all the surrounding Titans) charging toward him. Shocked, Zeke and the Quadrupedal Titan decide to retreat and pick up Reiner in the process.[69]

Hange and Levi sit with their fallen Commander and friend

Hange and Levi sit with their fallen Commander and friend

Levi regroups with Eren and a severely burnt Armin. Believing there are no other critically wounded survivors, he tells Eren that he will give Armin the Titan serum and have him eat Bertolt to save his life. However, Levi changes his mind when a soldier delivers a mortally wounded Erwin to him. He settles on saving Erwin, angering Eren.[70] After a scuffle with Eren and Mikasa, Levi is about to give Erwin the serum when he remembers Erwin's desire to give up his dreams and die with the recruits killed earlier. Levi gives Armin the serum instead, allows him to eat Bertolt, and tells Erwin that there will be a delay in killing Zeke as Erwin dies peacefully.[71] After he wakes up fully healed, Armin learns that Erwin died so that he could live. Levi explains that it was ultimately him that chose to save Armin. When all is said and done, Erwin's body is laid to rest in an abandoned house with his cloak draped over his body and flowers set next to the bed where he lays.[72]

Abilities

Erwin Smith's Statistics [73]:

Combat
9/10
Initiative
10/10
Wits
10/10
Teamwork
7/10
Ruthless
10/10


Relationships

  • Levi Ackerman - The two had a mutual trust and respect for each others skills. He willingly followed Erwin's command, though that did not keep him from speaking his mind.
  • Hange Zoë - Erwin greatly valued Hange's intellect, and when he felt he was nearing death, he made sure Hange knew she was next in line.
  • Keith Shadis - He respected him as a soldier, despite the many losses that were sustained under his command.
  • Mike Zacharias - Erwin and Mike had a deep mutual trust due to their lengthy time in service together, as well as respect for one another's skills as soldiers. Most of the time he was Erwin's right hand man, and loyally followed his every command; despite their closeness and long time together, Mike still found Erwin difficult to read.
  • Armin Arlert - Erwin seemed to recognize Armin's potential as a strategist and had started entrusting him with commanding roles in the Survey Corps.

Trivia

Erwin Chara Design

Erwin's character design for the anime

  • He was attributed with the literal title of "leader of the [Scouting] Legion" (団長 danchō), often translated as "Commander".
  • Erwin's motif was based on Adrian Alexander Veidt/Ozymandias, a character from Watchmen. [citation needed]
  • Another influence for the character appears to be Erwin Rommel who was known as the 'Desert Fox'. They share first names and the significant date of October 14, which was Rommel’s death and Erwin’s birth. Rommel was a famed German Field Marshall from WWII and was noted for his exceptional skills as a commander and his willingness to defy his superiors' unjust orders, and who was involved in the failed plan to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
  • According to Hajime Isayama, Erwin was single because he was not certain when he will die.[74]
  • Isayama revealed his nickname as a child was "Eyebrow". [1]
  • Erwin was the first commander of the Survey Corps to ever take over command before the previous commander was killed.[75]
  • Since Erwin lost his right arm, he saluted with his left arm, which is considered to be an incorrect way of saluting.[76]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Bessatsu Magazine, May 2014 issue.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Attack on Titan Guidebook (p. 256)
  3. Attack on Titan Guidebook (p. 77)
  4. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 85 (p. 40)
  5. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 57 (p. 13)
  6. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 49 (p. 18 - 21)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 49
  8. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 62 (p. 7)
  9. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 62 (p. 14)
  10. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 72 (p. 12)
  11. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 55 (p. 11-14)
  12. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 10 (p. 10)
  13. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 10 (p. 22-23)
  14. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 15 (p. 32-44)
  15. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 18 (p. 11-44)
  16. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 20 (p. 30-31)
  17. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 21 (p. 11-30)
  18. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 42
  19. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 26
  20. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 27
  21. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 33
  22. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 45 (p. 8-16)
  23. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 45 (p. 38-42)
  24. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 48
  25. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 50
  26. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 51 (p. 5-39)
  27. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 53 (p. 22-31)
  28. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 54 (p. 39-42)
  29. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 55 (p. 1-43)
  30. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 55
  31. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 56
  32. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 57 (p. 1-13)
  33. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 57 (p. 13-22)
  34. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 60 (p. 45-46)
  35. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 61 (p. 1-16)
  36. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 61 (p. 17-39)
  37. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 62 (p. 1-15)
  38. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 63 (p. 23-28)
  39. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 67 (p. 29-46)
  40. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 68 (p. 6-40)
  41. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 71 (p. 10-14)
  42. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 71 (p. 18 & 19)
  43. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 71 (p. 20)
  44. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 71 (p. 22)
  45. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 71 (p. 24 & 25)
  46. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 72 (p. 1-3)
  47. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 72 (p. 4)
  48. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 72 (p. 5)
  49. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 72 (p. 8-13)
  50. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 72 (p. 35)
  51. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 72 (p. 37)
  52. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 72 (p. 41-44)
  53. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 73 (p. 26-27)
  54. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 73 (p. 31-32)
  55. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 73 (p. 45)
  56. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 74 (p. 1-13)
  57. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 74 (p. 25-45)
  58. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 75 (p. 15-18)
  59. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 76 (p. 5-12)
  60. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 77 (p. 40-45)
  61. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 78 (p. 35-44)
  62. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 79 (p. 11-12)
  63. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 79 (p. 15-30)
  64. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 80 (p. 14 - 28)
  65. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 80 (p. 28-45)
  66. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 81 (p. 1-4)
  67. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 81 (p. 15-36)
  68. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 82 (p. 38-41)
  69. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 83 (p. 7-34)
  70. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 83 (p. 27-43)
  71. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 84 (p. 1-45)
  72. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 85 (p. 12)
  73. Attack on Titan Guidebook (p. 76)
  74. "Hajime Isayama interview". Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine (December 2013 issue). Retrieved on November 15, 2013.
  75. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 71 (p. 5)
  76. Attack on Titan manga: Chapter 72

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