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?), often formally referred to as Commander Erwin Smith (エルヴィン・スミス団長 Eruvin Sumisu Danchō?), is the 13th commander 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 tribunal held to judge Eren and the trainees 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.
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.
He is later formally introduced when the Scout Regiment 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.
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 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 Forest of Giant Trees and sets up a trap in order to capture her. She chases after Eren and kills many Scout Regiment members but does fall into Erwin's trap and is unable to move. 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.
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 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 citizens from there.
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.
- Levi - The two have a mutual trust and respect for each other's skills. He willingly follows Erwin's command, though that is not keep him from speaking his mind.
- Hange Zoë - Erwin greatly values Hange's intellect.
- 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.
- 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 is single because he is not certain when he will die.
- Isayama revealed his nickname as a child was "Eyebrow".