|Are you a human being or a Titan?|
|— Kitz Weilman to Eren Yeager|
Titan Shifters are specific humans in possession of the "Titan's power" (巨人の力 Kyojin no Chikara?), which allows them to transform into Titans. Unlike regular Titans, they are able to control their regular form and retain their human intelligence. It is often noted that Shifters are far more powerful than regular Titans and sometimes display abilities unique only to them.
In order to transform, they must suffer an injury that draws blood (often self-harm, as shown when Eren Yeager bit his hand to protect Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlert, and when Annie Leonhart stabbed her finger with a blade from the inside of her ring) while having a solid goal or belief in mind at the moment of injury. However, being injured by another person is also sufficient, such as when Mikasa brutally wounded Reiner and Bertolt. Once the transformation is initiated, a yellow bolt of lightning appears to strike down the Shifter from the sky, followed by the generation of the Titan body and a release of hot steam. After transformation, their human bodies appear to be in the Titan's nape of the neck, where they control their Titan bodies. Their human bodies are also merged with the Titan's flesh inside, rendering them immobile. It is also visible that their eyes are connected within the body of the Titan, presumably for optic vision outside the body. An average height among the Titan forms is 15 meters, but this can vary, as shown by the Colossus Titan, the tallest known Shifter, is 60 meters, the Beast Titan is 17 meters, the Female Titan is 14 meters, and Ymir's Titan form is between 6-7 meters.If a Shifter's Titan form is pushed to its limit, the human will emerge from the nape of its neck in a semi-conscious state. This is demonstrated separately by Eren, Ymir, and Annie when their Titan forms suffer defeat. But if a Shifter's Titan form is not exhausted, then its human form can partially emerge from the Titan form in full consciousness. Annie, Ymir, and even Eren have shown this ability on three separate occasions.
When a Shifter emerges from their Titan body, the area around their eyes is burned from the hot muscle of their Titan forms for a short time after. Every Shifter with a known Titan form has exhibited this at least once, with the exception of Grisha Yeager. The time the burn lasts appears to depend on the Shifter and possibly how long, skilled or how overworked they used their Titan forms, ranging from several minutes to several hours, as shown by how Ymir had the burns over her eyes for almost twelve hours, whereas Reiner and Bertolt only had them for a little less than five hours.The Titan Shifters also gain the Titan's ability to regenerate, capable of vastly improved healing abilities and regenerating lost limbs even in their human forms. However, regeneration from severe injuries such as lost limbs can strain their powers and prevent them from transforming for a period of time. Both Eren and Ymir were unable to transform while recovering from their injuries, though Ymir is shown to have been able to transform within minutes of recovering. Healing for a Titan Shifter's human form takes much longer than their Titan form, as it took Eren 5 hours to regenerate both of his arms, whereas it would take him minutes to do so in Titan form. The time it takes to regenerate appears to depend on the extent of the injury and how focused a Shifter is on healing that area. The one thing they appear to be unable to regenerate is their head, and the only surefire way to kill them appears to be decapitation, or devouring them as a Titan and absorbing their powers.
It is also shown that they are not safe from regular Titans, and will be attacked even while transformed. Both Eren and Ymir were nearly devoured by hordes of Titans while transformed, and Reiner states that traveling while in Titan-occupied territory during the day is dangerous to any of them. During the battle of Trost, it was shown that Titans seem to prefer attacking transformed Shifters. The human soldiers had great difficulty drawing away the Titans, as they were somehow drawn to Eren's Titan form. This is because Titans are regular humans transformed by unknown means and the only way to turn back is by eating a Shifter. Reiner and Bertolt note that it was the same for them.
A notable trait of the three major antagonistic Shifters is their lack of skin, and special abilities unique only to their Titans. For Bertolt's it is steam generation, for Reiner it is his hardened armor, and for Annie, it is a variety of abilities, most notably the ability to harden select areas of her skin and call upon mindless Titans. It is unknown how this relates to Eren and Ymir, who do not share their place of origin or purpose. Ymir displays the ability to partially emerge from the nape of her Titan form, allowing her to interact with others while still transformed. Uri also demonstrated this as well, once being almost completely out of his Titan form with the exception of his right hand. It is unknown whether this is unique to them or a feat that any experienced Shifter can manage over time.
Revelations concerning Ymir's past also suggest several important possibilities concerning the nature of Titans and Titan Shifters, as well as the existence of other Shifters. It is revealed that they do not age while in their Titan form, as Ymir notes she spent at least 60 years in her Titan form but has the appearance of a teenager. Although Ymir lacks complete and clear memory of this period, she recalls enough to describe it as an "endless nightmare." While trapped in her Titan form, she seems to have been a regular Titan that mindlessly devoured humans. Reiner and Bertolt do not treat this as an unusual case, and Bertolt notes that it was the same for them. This leads to the conclusion that the first time of using their power they lack self-determination and have only a decided goal, devour humans. In the case of all the currently known Titan Shifters, excluding Ymir, it appears that there was a Shifter present for them to devour, with only Eren, Ymir, Frieda, and Uri having the Shifter they ate being shown or mentioned.
Experiments performed on Eren suggest that Shifters are resistant, but not immune to the normal absorption that creates mindless Titans if they stay transformed for a long time. After one hour to be transformed, Eren entered in a state of pain and eventually left his Titan body. With the the two subsequent transformations after short rests, the strength and quality of his Titan form degraded more and more, becoming smaller and less controlled each time. On the third transformation, his Titan form was less than 10 meters and his lower body remained free while his upper body began to merge with his Titan form. It became necessary to cut him loose, removing most of the tissue from the front of his skull in the process. As such, it seems that there is a limitation on how long a Shifter can remain in a transformed state before risking absorption.Similarly, it seems the longer or more often a Titan form is used and how exhausted the human within is, the more difficult the form can be to consciously control. This may cause the Shifter's form to regress to typical Titan behavior and can make them unpredictable if weaponized. The length of being transformed appears to depend on how skilled a Shifter is at controlling their Titan form, as Annie was able to transform twice into a fully formed Titan, in total altogether for almost a day minutes apart, without being absorbed, while Eren nearly lost himself.
Their powers can be transferred to a new host, should they be devoured. This allows an ordinary Titan to become a new Titan Shifter, should they succeed in devouring one—as was the case when Ymir devoured Marcel and regained human form. Hange Zoë theorizes other abilities, such as the Coordinate possessed by Eren, could be transferred to a new host in the same fashion. The Reiss family has done this method for years, by having one Reiss transform into a Titan and devour the previous Coordinate holder, obtaining their powers and the memories of the world.
Grisha Yeager, a Shifter himself, was capable of using a syringe to turn a young Eren into a Titan which in turn devoured most of his body. Similarly, Frieda Reiss became a Titan via syringe in order to consume her uncle to become a Shifter and to obtain the Coordinate ability, as did Uri and Mr. Reiss. The serum induced Titans resemble regular Titans but with a more or less resemblance to the human host, as Eren's normal Titan form resembled him more than his Shifted form with short rugged hair and facial features and Frieda's first transformation led to a skinny, boney female-like Titan with shoulder length light hair. The first transformations are often less shorter than the Shifted forms, but this depends solely on the Shifter, as Ymir's Titan form was 6-7 meters, and was near identical to her Shifter form, whereas Eren's normal Titan was 3-5 meters, while his current Titan form is 15 meters. Rod Reiss revealed that Titan Shifters, who have been given their abilities by having to devour someone, have a chosen Titan Shifter form for them to take. Rod Reiss also reveals that certain serums can create a different type of Titan with different abilities. For instance, Eren consumed a bottle from Rod's bag labeled "Braun"/"Armor", which gave his Titan form the power of hardening its skin at will.
According to Rod Reiss, a Shifter's power rests in their spinal cord, meaning that to gain the Titan powers, it is not necessary to eat the entire Shifter, more so just biting through the spine and ingesting their spinal fluid. A serum recovered from Rod Reiss reveals that the Titan serums appear to be human spinal fluid. However, it is difficult to study, because once the liquid makes contact with the air, it evaporates.
The first Titan Shifter (and first Titan) to appear chronologically within the series, Bertolt Hoover's Titan is of 60 m class. This grants him incredible strength like no other, capable of causing monumental destruction with little effort or damage sustained on his body. Due to this size its body temperature is extremely high, to the point that it is constantly emitting steam. However, because this Titan is so large, Bertolt can only move slowly while in its form.
It is the largest Titan Shifter seen so far in the series, the second largest Titan of the series (coming second only to Rod Reiss's mindless Titan, which was twice his size), and four times the height of the regular Titans of the tallest class (15 m). This form has shown to be able to retain a degree of intelligence and tactical planning to go with its sheer size and strength, despite its slow movements. It is strong enough to break down the defensive walls surrounding humankind with a single and very hard-focused kick to allow other Titans to move inside the walls. It has a unique ability to "superheat" its body to produce incredibly hot steam as a defense. This ability has only been seen to be shared with Rod Reiss's Titan (except Rod Reiss's heat is even more intense). The heat of this steam is so intense that it is able to keep dozens of experienced soldiers at bay, lest they be cooked alive.
Reiner Braun is capable of transforming himself into a 15 m class Titan with a slight resemblance to his human form. Unlike the other Titan Shifters, his Titan form has very thick, hardened plates of skin all over his body which serves as his armor.
This type of Titan is well-built and has a hunched profile. Its only visible weaknesses are the small areas on the backs of its joints where there is no armor. Though not particularly fast, this form is strong and agile, capable of destroying a fortified wall after a sufficient running start. While he is able to communicate through roars, it is unknown whether he shares Annie's ability to summon other Titans.
Eren Yeager is the first Titan Shifter to be revealed in the series, his Titan being a 15 m class. Its most prominent characteristics are its elongated ears, fleshless jaws and highly muscular build.
Eren's Titan form has so far been shown to have fairly substantial physical strength, knowledge of martial arts techniques, and incredible endurance. Prolonged and repeated use of this Titan form has allowed Eren to gradually increase control over its initially unstable mental state. Its eyes are a piercing grey in the manga, and emerald-green in the anime; wherein they are often seen to be glowing bright green.
Eren eventually revealed the powers of "The Coordinate": A special ability which allows him to take control of other Titans. In his blind state of rage, he would subconsciously command them to relentlessly attack his chosen target until they are dead.
This Titan has also recently gained the ability to harden after Eren has consumed a jar labelled "Braun".
Annie Leonhart can transform into a 14 m class Titan with a distinctively feminine build and short, blonde hair. Her transformation endows her with immense strength and speed.
A Titan Shifter of athletic appearance with lean muscle and minimal skin, the Female Titan is a Titan of unusual power and intellect. It has the stamina and focus to maintain a running pace capable of keeping up with horses over a long distance; as well as the intelligence to defend itself from multiple Vertical Maneuvering Equipment attacks by prediction of the device's movements. This Titan form also has the unique ability to harden its body parts by generating a crystalline substance across chosen areas of its body; allowing it to simultaneously protect its nape and fight. Combined with refined martial arts techniques, it can perform incredibly deadly and destructive attacks. When cornered, the Female Titan's call has the ability to draw other Titans to it and drive them into a feeding frenzy.
Ymir's Titan is a 7 m class Titan with long, black hair, very large irises and an agile, chimpanzee-like body. This form grants Ymir rather long arms and sharp claws. It provides her with such great agility that her Titan appears to be "dancing".
The smallest Titan Shifter known yet, this Titan form has a mouth with all pointed teeth, as well as sharp claws that can either be used to grasp on to things or for combat. it is long arms and small, muscular body enable it to maneuver itself around with great speed and agility in the same environments as those with Vertical Maneuvering Equipment, making it a formidable foe in battle.
Unlike the other shifters who apparently gained their powers under a somewhat controlled process, Ymir wandered as a mindless Titan for 60 years after stealing the power, and was only after she crossed paths with another shifter (Marcel) and ate them when she regained her humanity.
Frieda was able to transform herself into a 15 meter female-looking Titan with white hair. She was said to have an "invincible power", but she died before she could learn how to use it. She devoured her uncle below the Reiss chapel when she was fifteen in order to receive his Titan abilities and secrets of the world. The "invincible power" is now known as the "Coordinate", which allows the user to control Titans and potentially, humans. This however, was stolen from her by Grisha Yeager, and is now in the possession of Eren Yeager.
Grisha's Titan form shares similarities with Eren's, such as their elongated ears and long hair, except Grisha's Titan jaws have flesh and a beard. He has a bulkier body built. Unlike most Titan Shifters shown so far in the series, his body is very heavy-built. He used his Titan form to kill and devour Frieda Reiss along with her family, excluding Rod and Historia Reiss.
Having a distinct, ape-like appearance, his Titan's body structure and facial features are like that of a human's, he walks upright like one also. He stands at a previously unseen 17 meters in height. Dark fur covers the large majority of his body, with the exception of his face, hands, feet, and torso. His arms are also elongated, with long fingers and fully-functional thumbs. The proportions of his upper body are similar to that of the Colossus Titan, possessing a massive chest and small head, as well as unusually slim arms.
It is suggested that the Beast Titan contains massive strength, for it was able to hurl chunks of the wall from very far and was able to accurately hit members of the Scouting Legion. He was also able to defeat the Armored Titan without seemingly any sustained damage. It has been noted that the Beast Titan is the "strongest" Titan.
Notable Titan Shifters
This is a list of known Titan Shifters who is Titan form has yet to be shown in detail:
- Many Titan Shifters are modeled after wrestlers. For instance, the Armored Titan is modeled after Brock Lesnar and the Rogue Titan is modeled after Yūshin Okami.
- The Beast Titan appears to be the most skilled living Shifter, as he possesses the power to mimic human speech in Titan form, climb over the walls, and create Titans that function at night. Annie Leonhart appears to be the second most skilled living Titan Shifter, sporting a variety of learned powers and moves, including selective regeneration, skin hardening, and Titan summoning. However, the holder of the Coordinate would often be the strongest Shifter, as noted by Rod. The least skilled appears to be Eren, who is still learning how to use his powers; and Bertolt, who can only move slowly, massive steam generation and possesses extreme physical strength.
- It is possible that like normal Titans, a Shifter's remains evaporate when they perish as there was no trace of Grisha after Keith Shadis found an unconscious Eren after the latter received the Coordinate, even though in Eren's obtained memory, the remains of Grisha's lower body, arm, and clothes were left behind.
- Titan Shifting is apparently not passed down through bloodline and the only way to inherit it is by transforming into a Titan and devouring another Shifter, as proven by how only one Reiss would be a Titan Shifter as compared to all of them and Eren, the son of the Titan Shifter Grisha, would be born a Titan Shifter if this were true.
- In the case of Titan Shifting abilities and memories, it appears that by eating a Shifter of the same bloodline, one can access their powers and memories easier. Both Frieda and Uri devoured someone of their bloodline to gain Titan Shifting powers, and were aware of the memories the moment they awoke. However, Eren, who is not a Reiss and therefore not of the same bloodline, has only recently started to remember faint memories since he obtained his powers five years ago.