This article is about the 13th Commander of the Scout Regiment. For the 20th episode of the Attack on Titan anime, see Erwin Smith: The 57th Exterior Scouting Mission, Part 4.
|Scout Regiment Commanders|
|◄ Preceded by|| 13th|
|Followed by ►|
Keith Sadies (Unknown-845)
|One day, we'll break it down. This wall hiding the truth...will fall.|
|— Erwin, after learning that the Titans were once human|
Erwin Smith (エルヴィン・スミス Eruvin Sumisu?) is the 13th commander (団長 Danchō?) of the Scout Regiment. Discerning, intelligent, and widely respected, Erwin is an able commander. While he cares deeply for his men, he does 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.
Erwin has a commanding presence. He stands tall above most members of the Scout Regiment, with his blond hair kept neatly parted on the left side.
Erwin always wears a calm, collected expression on his face, his icy blue eyes being one of his most striking features. His eyebrows are also quite noticeable, being very thick and bushy.
Erwin typically dresses in the standard military uniform, donning the Scout Regiment's signature green cape when on missions. He also wears a small, emerald bolo tie around his neck just like the other military commanders, Nile Dawk and Dot Pyxis.
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.
Erwin is a complex character, portrayed as serious, calculating, seeing, and planning far for the future. While he trusts his men, he is the first to realize that there is a spy interfering with the Scout Regiment and arranges for their capture. He is an eloquent speaker, able to sway many people, such as the military deliberation held to judge Eren and the cadets choosing recruitment branches to join.
Erwin is very grim. He accepts all news, good or bad, mockery or praise, with the same attitude because he knows his objectives and would follow through with them. His ultimate goal is for humanity to once again rise up and become the dominant species over the Titans, a goal he is willing to sacrifice anything for.
He shares this unique stoic quality with men such as Garrison Commander Dot Pyxis, Section Commander Ian Dietrich, and Commander-in-Chief Dhalis Zachary. As Armin Arlelt put it, Erwin, like the aforementioned three men, has the ability to send his men to die if it would further the cause of humanity. He and they will sacrifice their own humanity in order to bring change to the world where those who cannot sacrifice things important to them will not change anything. Since he is able to make such commitments, he is a master strategist, shown multiple times through actions like capturing the Female Titan.
As a child, Erwin was a curious and insightful individual who did not accept facts at face value. He asked why humanity had no memory of what happened before they lived within the Walls, because even if they had lost all their records, the first generation should have been able to teach their children. His father shared a theory with him that the king had altered humanity's memories when they first entered the Walls so he could control them better. Too innocent to realize why his father would not discuss this in the classroom, Erwin shared it with the other kids in town, which resulted in his father's "accidental" death, arranged by the Military Police Brigade's First Interior Squad.
From then on, Erwin became convinced that his father's theory had been correct. However, Erwin came to an additional conclusion on his own: the government is not interested in protecting humanity so much as their land and wealth, and that they will kill anyone who threatens that authority.
Erwin and his squad pursue Levi, Furlan Church, and Isabel Magnolia in the Underground after they commit a heist. Levi, having been given warning that they would be after him, splits off from his friends and leads the squad on a good chase. He engages Miche Zacharius in combat with a knife before Erwin hurtles down from above to intervene. They clash and Erwin convinces Levi to surrender since his squad has already captured his friends.
Levi drops his knife and after they are restrained, Erwin asks the trio about where they obtained their omni-directional mobility gear and how they learned to use it. When they do not immediately answer, Miche shoves Levi's face into a dirty puddle, causing Furlan to insist that they are self-taught. Erwin finds this difficult to believe, but Furlan tells him that they had to learn in order to rise above their current living conditions; something that Erwin, as a person who lives in sunlight, would not understand.
Hearing this, Erwin kneels down to Levi's level and introduces himself. He offers Levi a deal. If he joins the Scout Regiment he will not be charged for his crimes. If he refuses, he and his friends will be handed over to the Military Police Regiment, which is unlikely to treat them well. Erwin is pleased when Levi agrees to join.
At a meeting with Keith Sadies, the current commander of the Scout Regiment, the other section commanders express disapproval over Erwin's recruitment of Levi, Furlan, and Isabel as well as his desire to take them on the next mission. Erwin understands their concerns, but vouches for the former criminals' skill and Keith backs him up. The commander also believes that Erwin's new long-range scouting formation will help avoid Titans and reduce their losses.
On a carriage ride back to headquarters, Keith informs Erwin that the delayed budget for the next expedition has been approved. An assembly member, Nicholas Lovof, suddenly switched his vote. Noting Erwin's lack of surprise, Keith asks if he has done something underhanded to cause this. Erwin informs him that Lovof favors a company that supplies the Military Police and wishes to reallocate the Scout Regiment's funding to them. He has proof of it. Fighting Titans has taught Erwin how precarious humanity's situation is, and because of that they must not abandon their efforts to retake their world, no matter what methods they must employ.
On the 23rd Exterior Scouting Mission, the long-range scouting formation is used for the first time, but before long it begins to rain, ruining visibility and the usefulness of the signal flares. Erwin advises Keith to narrow the formation and slow down in response to the weather. The rain prevents several of the scouts from seeing an abnormal Titan in time and Furlan and Isabel are killed.
Erwin arrives as the rain lets up to find an angry and distraught Levi standing beside the dead body of the Titan. He asks Levi if he is the only survivor and calls him rather unsightly. Still seething, Levi attacks Erwin, saying that he will kill him. That is why he is here. In response, Erwin throws out a copy of the document that Levi and his friends had been searching for and lets him know that he is too late. Lovof, the man who hired him, is already done for.
Seeing that Levi is beginning to emotionally shut down in the face of everything he has lost, Erwin tells him to stop before he regrets this. No one knows what results their choices will bring. The mission will continue, and Levi is coming with them.
In the year 845, Erwin takes part in an expedition beyond Wall Maria. When the soldiers encounter a Titan, Erwin reports their distance from the Titan to Keith Sadies while the scouts split up to engage the Titan.
While leading the 49th Exterior Scouting Mission, Erwin is confronted by Hange Zoë, who demands that she be allowed to capture Titans to use as test subjects. Recognizing the extra danger that would arise if soldiers did not engage Titans with the intent to kill, Erwin refuses her proposal. When, shortly thereafter, Hange abandons the larger expedition force to try to capture a Titan on her own, Erwin orders Levi to follow her and keep her out of harm's way.
Following the retrieval of Ilse Langnar's notebook, which detailed Ilse's encounter with a Titan that possessed the ability to speak, Erwin approves Hange's proposal to begin capturing Titans in order to study them.
Erwin leads the Scout Regiment as it works to clear 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.
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.
He appears at the trial of Eren Jaeger and argues that Eren should live, in direct opposition to Nile Dawk. He then makes a proposal that Eren be entrusted to the Scout Regiment so that they can determine if he is helpful, which Dhalis Zachary agrees to. He welcomes Eren into the Scout Regiment and shakes his hand.
After the death of the Titan research subjects, Beane and Sawney, he tests everyone in the Scout Regiment 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.
Erwin later appears at the recruitment drive where the 104th Cadet Corps choose their path. He makes an impassioned plea that the Scout Regiment 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.
Erwin leads the 57th expedition out of Calaneth District on a mission to reach Shiganshina District and potentially uncover the secret of Eren's basement. Shortly after the Scout Regiment reaches open territory outside Wall Rose, he orders them into a Long-Range Scouting Formation.
Despite the decimation of the formation's right flank by an abnormal Titan, Erwin continues the operation to the surprise of his soldiers. He directs them to a forest of giant trees where the central column containing the carts and the Special Operations Squad are to follow him inside, while the rest of the formation surrounds the forest perimeter to prevent the entry of any additional Titans. Understanding that the abnormal Titan destroying his ranks is intelligent, Erwin plans to deal with it inside.
The Special Operations Squad leads the Female Titan into Erwin's trap, where he orders the firing of the special target restraining weapon. This allows the Scout Regiment to successfully capture it. When Levi and Miche try to cut through the Female Titan's hands to the nape, Erwin notes that it can selectively harden its body, similar to what he has heard about the Armored Titan. He decides the Scouts do not have enough time to see if the Titan will weaken under repeated assaults and calls Keiji over to prepare explosives to blow off the Female Titan's hands at the wrists to avoid killing the person inside.
Before that can happen, the Female Titan screams and Miche alerts Erwin to multiple Titans approaching from all directions. Erwin sends the cart team to intercept the first wave of Titans, but they ignore the soldiers and break through. He realizes that they are after the Female Titan and orders the Scouts to defend it. However, they are overwhelmed and unable to keep up. The Female Titan is torn to pieces and Erwin calls his soldiers to retreat. They are going back to Calaneth.
As Erwin watches the Titans devour what remains of the Female Titan, he admits to Levi that he did not expect their enemy would be willing to sacrifice themselves. The steam emitting from the remains of the Female Titan causes him to think of the Colossal Titan, which had also vanished in a cloud of steam. Before Levi can call back his team, Erwin tells him to refill his gas and blades.
Hange questions the order while they ride out of the forest, because they cannot spare the time, and Erwin explains that though the Female Titan has been eaten, he can not say the same for the person inside. He expects that their enemy has regained human form and is now able to move around. If they also equipped omni-directional mobility gear then they are likely wearing the Scout Regiment uniform and are camouflaged as a fellow soldier. Erwin thinks it was a mistake to have based their assumption of the Female Titan's abilities on Eren, who is a complete novice when it comes to his power.
On the way back they are chased by Titans, but Erwin has the formation race for the Walls instead of turning to fight them. He leads the Scouts back into Calaneth where they are greeted by grumbles of wasted taxes and demands for justification for the number of dead. Because of the expedition's failure, Erwin is summoned to the capital to hand over Eren.
Before they depart for the capital, Armin shares his suspicion with Erwin that Annie Leonhart is the Female Titan. Erwin orders her covert capture en route to the meeting. After arriving in Stohess District and fighting breaks out against the Female Titan, he is questioned by Nile Dawk who orders his troops to support the operation.
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.
In Stohess District, Erwin takes a report from his aides that the Scouts have covered the newly discovered Wall Titan with sheets until more proper measures can be taken after sunset. One of them says that he never imagined there would be Titans inside the Walls, and Erwin concludes it is not that no one imagined they would be there, so much as there are people who knew and people who did not.
When Tomas arrives with news of the Wall Rose invasion, Erwin asks if Levi is able to go, and the latter says there is not much choice. Though it is now night time, Erwin leads the Scout Regiment out of Stohess and they ride to Ehrmich District, since they know the Walls are safe at least up until that point.
By the next day Erwin's forces are in Trost District where he meets up with Dot Pyxis. Pyxis congratulates him for finding one of their "mice" even though the plan did not succeed as well as hoped. Now those in the interior will reconsider their motives and beliefs. Erwin says they have. The Military Police have been forced to come out and help fight against the Titans.
Erwin is present when Phil reports to Pyxis about having met up with Hange's unit on top of Wall Rose. He hears that an additional three cadets of the 104th can change into Titans and asks what happened when their forms were revealed. Phil tells him the Scouts engaged the Colossal and Armored Titans, but the battle was over by the time Phil's unit was able to join.
The combined military force rides along the top of Wall Rose and when they meet up with Hange's unit, Erwin has them deploy the lifts to carry the horses down to the ground on the outside of the Wall. Though badly injured, Hange gets a map and shows Erwin where a Forest of Giant Trees is. She suspects Reiner and Bertholdt have gone there. When Erwin asks her why, she explains that even though they can change into Titans, they probably are exhausted and will need to rest somewhere ordinary Titans are not able to reach them before making a run for the outside of Wall Maria. The Scout Regiment will only have until nightfall when other Titans cannot move.
Erwin leads the combined military force into a long-range scouting formation as they head for the forest. When Titans begin to approach from the right flank, Erwin has the formation pull in on that side rather than change direction as they cannot afford to lose any time. As Titans continue to approach, Erwin tries to maneuver the formation, but they end up being hemmed in on both sides as well as ahead of them. Deciding that it would take too much time to make a detour, Erwin orders the soldiers to force their way through.
They arrive as the sun is setting and when they see the light from a Titan transformation inside the forest Erwin notes that they have arrived in time. He has the soldiers disperse to locate and recover the kidnapped Eren. Their priority is to recover and retreat, not to fight the numerous Titans swarming around them.
Erwin spots the Armored Titan escaping at the edge of the forest and calls for all squads to follow him and let the Titans chase after them. He leads the military straight at Reiner, with all the Titans on their collective tail. Knowing that the Titans will be just as happy to attack the Armored Titan, he shouts for all soldiers to disperse and get away, leaving Reiner to deal with the brunt of the Titan attention.
Once Reiner is immobilized beneath the weight of all the other Titans, Erwin calls for the soldiers to attack, because they must recover Eren if humanity is to have a future. As he leads the charge, a Titan unexpectedly appears in their midst, catching his arm in its mouth. Erwin shouts for the soldiers to continue their advance as it carries him away.
He returns to the battle as Armin is baiting Bertholdt and Reiner into losing control, and takes the opportunity to cut Eren free of Bertholdt as well as severing one of Bertholdt's ODM grappling lines. Erwin's right arm is now cut off just below the shoulder and bandaged with a makeshift tourniquet. With Eren retrieved, Erwin bellows for all soldiers to retreat.
Reiner begins throwing Titans at the fleeing soldiers and Erwin is knocked from his horse as Ymir takes out the Titan chasing him. When a Scout tries to help him, Erwin insists that he is replaceable. Retreating with Eren is their top priority. The battle turns against the military as the soldiers are hemmed in and the Armored Titan recovers enough strength to begin moving again.
While trying to protect Mikasa, Eren strikes the Titan attacking them. This triggers something and causes all the other mindless Titans present to tear it apart. The Titans then go and attack Reiner and Bertholdt as well. Seeing the opportunity for escape, Erwin shouts for the soldiers to withdraw.
Following the battle, Erwin recovers in Trost Distict and Hange brings Conny to his room so he can confirm the discoveries made in Ragako Village. They do not have proof yet, but Hange hypothesizes that the Titans fought within Wall Rose were the inhabitants of Ragako.
Levi notices Erwin smiling, despite the implications, and asks what is he smiling for. Erwin initially says it is nothing, but elaborates that this knowledge brings them one step closer to the truth.
Once recovered, Erwin begins researching Christa Lenz's connection to the Reiss family, and learns that Historia is the illegitimate daughter of noble Rod Reiss. The revelation only serves to leave him befuddled as to why a regional lord such as Rod would know any secrets about the Walls. He informs Levi of this during a meeting, during which Levi also updates Erwin on how Hange's experiments on Eren's Titan are going.
After the government declares a hold on all Scout Regiment activity, Erwin sends word to Squad Levi of the development. As his messenger is departing, Nile Dawk arrives to personally detain Erwin and relieve him of his belongings. Once Nile has finished, Erwin invites Nile to chat with him for a while, a proposition which Nile refuses. Erwin muses about their past together and voices his distrust of the government in securing the future of humanity, to Nile's horror. After Nile leaves, Hange and Mobilt approach Erwin with the news of Eren and Historia's capture by the Military Police and her suspicion that Eren might get eaten.
Suspecting will soon have all of the information he needs, Erwin sends Dot Pyxis a letter, informing the commander that he plans to orchestrate a rebellion against the royal government. Pyxis visits Erwin immediately to confirm Erwin's intentions. Erwin reassures Pyxis that, depending on whether his suspicions are correct, they will be able to take power peaceably, rather than by force. As he waits for confirmation of his theory, Erwin tells Pyxis the story of how his father died.
As Erwin finishes his story, Hange and Moblit arrive with the information they gained from Djel Sannes. Erwin informs Pyxis that the Reiss family is the true royal family, and that Historia is the next in line for the throne. He plans on rescuing her, then publicly installing her as queen, in order to force a regime change.
Pyxis agrees to support Erwin's plan and departs. As Pyxis leaves, Erwin turns over all of the information he could gather on the Reiss family to Hange. As he is doing so, a Scout arrives and informs Erwin that the First Interior Squad is making a ruckus out in the city, saying that Erwin organized a murder. Erwin orders Hange to get away from here while he acts as the face of their organization. He informs her that she will be the next commander of the Scout Regiment and places the Scouts under her command.
As he arrives at the scene of the crime, one of the MPs accuses the Scouts of hiring Reeves to stage a kidnapping of Eren so that the Scouts would not have to turn him over to the government, and killing Reeves afterward to keep him from talking. The MP charges Erwin and the Scouts with a violation of clause six of the Humanity Charter; prioritizing one's gain over the safety and longevity of humanity. For this, Erwin and all of the Scouts in the city are arrested.
After he has been arrested, Erwin is visited by Gerald, a military official in King Fritz's royal assembly. Gerald apologizes for keeping Erwin waiting, and proceeds to interrogate him. Though he is badly beaten during the questioning, Erwin does not reveal any information to his captors.
He is later visited by Nile, who informs him that he has been granted an audience with the king, during which his fate and the fate of the Scout Regiment will be decided. However, Erwin ignores this dour news and instead asks Nile about his family, and what section of the Walls the live in. Nile is confused by the question, and Erwin explains that he has entrusted something to Commander Pyxis, cryptically stating that "when the time comes," Nile and the assembly will be forced to make a decision.
Erwin is escorted to the royal throne room, where he is to stand trial. As he arrives, one of the nobles asks if he has any final words for them. Erwin begins his defense by arguing for the survival of the Scout Regiment. He argues that, should Wall Rose be breached by the Colossus Titan the way Wall Maria was, the subsequent evacuation of citizens to Wall Sina and the food shortages it would cause would lead to civil war within the Walls over resources. He also reminds them of the constant food shortages plaguing Rose, and argues that the only way to stop said shortages is for the scouts to reclaim Wall Maria.
The nobles ignore his arguments, and deflect his requests for alternative solutions to his suggestions, and after conferring announce that Erwin will be sentenced to death for breaking the Charter of Humanity. Despite his grim predicament, Erwin smiles upon hearing the verdict, and as he is being escorted from the room, looks to Nile to observe his reaction. Anka bursts in and announces that the Colossal Titan and Armored Titan have breached Wall Rose. Refugees are already on their way to Wall Sina. Pyxis reacts immediately, calling for soldiers to secure an evacuation route, which causes the officials in the room to reveal their true colors.
They give the order to shut the gates to Wall Sina, sacrificing half of humanity, and Nile, appalled, chooses to stand with the scouts and the Garrison in helping the refugees. On the heels of Nile's decision to side with Erwin, Premier Zachary arrives with a group of armed soldiers and announces that the attack was just a fabrication. The announcement was a test by Pyxis to see if the aristocracy is worthy of ruling of the human race. Now all heads of the military are against them, and thanks to a report by the Berg Newspapers, the civilians are as well. Erwin's coup has succeeded. However, Erwin does not celebrate. As he is released from his shackles, Erwin points out to Nile that the path they have chosen for humanity is much more dangerous than the one they were previously on.
After the proclamation that the military has seized control of the capital, Erwin departs in a carriage with Zachary. He expresses second thoughts about having deposed the monarchy. Regardless of their corruption and selfishness, humanity had survived this long under their guardianship. Zachary tells him that he threw his lot in with the coup because of an intense desire to humiliate the king and his men, and he had planned to eventually give it a try with or without Erwin. The revolution is irrelevant to Zachary, and he shrewdly points out that it is the same for Erwin. Erwin planned the coup, despite his misgivings, and contacted Pyxis because he was selfish and willing to put himself over the fate of humanity. After a moment's thought, Erwin admits that his reason is for a childhood dream.
- Levi Ackermann - The two have a mutual trust and respect for each other's skills. He willingly follows Erwin's command, though that does not keep him from speaking his mind.
- Hange Zoë - Erwin greatly values Hange's intellect and leadership ability. In his absence, he named her acting commander of the Scout Regiment.
- Miche Zacharius - Erwin and Miche 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, Miche still found Erwin difficult to read.
- Erwin's motif is based on Adrian Alexander Veidt/Ozymandias, a character from Watchmen.
- According to Hajime Isayama, Erwin is single because he is not certain when he will die.
- Isayama revealed his nickname as a child was "Eyebrow."