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I've seen so many Marco-related theories on Shingeki no Kyojin tumblrs, and all of them are pretty interesting! I decided to write a really long post on observations/evidence from both sides of the theory. I'm not necessarily trying to prove whether Marco is alive or dead, I'm simply gathering observations made from a bunch of websites and putting them together so you can ponder over it too :)

Marco Look-Alikes

As shown by the images below from both the manga and the anime, Marco Bott and Samuel Linke-Jackson look extremely similar in facial structure, hair color, and hair style. Three key differences that will be discussed later, however, are eye color, freckles, and clothing.

Marco

Marco Bott (Manga)

Samuel

Samuel Linke-Jackson (Manga)

Marco Bott character image

Marco Bott (Anime)

Samuel Anime

Samuel Linke-Jackson (Anime)

Gustav manga

"Gustav" (Manga: Chapter 12, Page 21)

Yet another Marco look-alike is the Garrison soldier (image on right) who first appears with Anka Rheinberger as Dot Pixis' escort on top of the Trost wall during Armin 's explanation of the operation to plug the breach using Eren 's newly found titan power [1]. In the anime, he is given the name Gustav and an appearance that no longer resembles Marco. This, and the fact that he is a member of the Garrison , puts this theory below the previous one in importance and likelihood.

Marco's Death Scene

Using the observations above, many theories have been formed that the corpse Jean finds is not Marco's, but someone else's, mainly Samuel's.

Observations Against This Theory

Marco's Corpse

  • Freckles: Freckles are present on the corpse in both the anime and the manga. They can be difficult to see in some manga scans due to brightness, but are still there.
  • Samuel: Samuel suffered severe wounds when the Colossal Titan appeared: a piece of debris knocked him unconscious and, as he fell off the wall, Sasha used her 3DMG grappel to save him, which dug into his calf [2]. It is highly unlikely that he returned to HQ and was fit enough to participate in the Battle of Trost, which happened immediately afterward, especially if he was just a Trainee .
  • Gustav: As Gustav is a member of the Garrison, it is unlikely that he would be mistakened for a Trainee, regardless of his resemblance to Marco in the manga, not to mention that he looks nothing like Marco in the anime.
  • Eye color: In the anime, the corpse has light brown eyes, like Marco, while Samuel has silver eyes.
  • Shirt: In the anime, Samuel wears a loose grey shirt with no collar, while Marco wears a white shirt with a collar. The corpse is clearly shown to be wearing a white shirt with a collar.

Observations Supporting This Theory

Marcodeath

Marco's death from Jean's perspective?

Marcodeath2

Marco's death, top view

  • Freckles: If we are to assume that the corpse belongs to Marco, is it possible that he is not dead and is actually a Titan shifter, therefore possessing the ability to regenerate? Remember that his body was not as mangled in the manga as it was in the anime: he was not bitten in half.
  • Gustav: Because we do not see the corpse being inspected and the anime can not be used as 100% fact, this remains a (highly unlikely) possibility, but still worth mentioning.
  • Eye Color: Discoloration on the rotting corpse is a likely explanation, not to mention the inconsistency of color in the anime. And again, this observation is based on the anime alone, not the manga.
  • Shirt: The anime makes a mistake in this scene: the corpse is shown with the brown Trainees jacket in one scene, then disappears in the following scene, revealing a white shirt with a collar. In the next scene, the jacket returns. Therefore, the anime should not be considered a reliable source for this point. As for the manga, a collar is not present on the corpse, but admittedly, Isayama sometimes forgets to draw the collar on Marco in previous chapters (or perhaps it is just hidden).
  • Two Perspectives: In the manga, the body is seen from two perspectives--Jean's (image on left) and a top view (image on right). Is it possible that the shot from Jean's perspective was altered to show what Jean sees (or imagines) in shock? Notedly, in the top view, Marco's freckles are not present.[3]
  • 3DMG: Why does Marco not have his 3DMG with him?

Gunther's Killer

Guntherprofile

Gunther's official profile in the Attack on Titan Guidebook

This observation is based purely on the anime. Frame-by-frame screenshots of Gunther's killer can be found on this Imgur album.

The unknown, hooded figure is widely accepted to be Annie. However, closer inspection of the figure proves otherwise.

Observations Supporting This Theory

  • Appearance: Hands  and body shape appear very masculine, while Annie is very petite. Skin color is olive, while Annie has pale skin. An orange sweater is seen, while Annie wears a white hoodie. Nose does not look like Annie's at all. There have even been claims that freckles can be seen in some shots.

Observations Against This Theory

  • Appearance: The killer is given a very generic appearance in the anime to avoid giving away any clues to his/her real identity.
  • Official Guidebook: It is stated on Gunther's profile (image on right) in the Attack on Titan Guidebooks by Hajime Isayama that he is "quickly assassinated by the Female Titan in human form (Episode 28, Volume 7)."

Miscellaneous Evidence Against This Theory

Interview with Hajime Isayama [4]

Hajimeisayamainterview

Translation of image on left:

"--How do you feel when a character dies?

...Let's see. In the first place, the characters who appeared in Volume 1 were originally created with the intention to kill them off eventually so it's like aah, it's time for them to fulfill their role... Something like that. The reason there's a gap between what the person drawing is feeling and the people reading are feeling is because I'm the one bringing the characters to life from white paper so in the end, I just feel like they're drawings I've drawn on aper. So, that's why I'm able to kill characters that I had planned on killing without any hesitation... By the way, Marco wasn't really supposed to die yet (death in Volume 4), but because his character didn't stand out, I had him die sooner."

Miscellaneous Evidence Supporting This Theory

Fan Q&A With Hajime Isayama [5]

  • Note that this was self-reported by fans and should not be considered solid, first-person evidence.

「マルコが大好きです。11巻に回想で出てきて嬉しかったです。」ってお伝えしたら、先生がこの先マルコの出番あるっておっしゃってましたよ…‼(おそらく回想?)マルコ好きさんやったね…!(感動)  

スタッフさん「マルコでてくるとしたらゾンビ状態?w」 私「!?」 

先生「マルコはもしかしたら巨人かもね。」

私「!?」 

Translation:

I told him “I love Marco. I was really happy to see him in the Volume 11 flashback.”, then Isayama-sensei said that Marco will have appearances in the future..!! (Probably a flashback?) Hooray for Marco fans..! (Emotional)
Staff: If Marco appears, will he be a zombie? lol
Me: !?
Isayama: Marco might just be a Titan, you know?
Me: !?

Manga Forshadowing

Normally, when a character dies in the manga, their bio sheet picture (at the beginning of each manga) is shown in the following volume with an X. Then, in all volumes afterward, their picture is removed entirely. But guess what? Marco's picture keeps showing up in every manga, with an X. Either Isayama is playing around with our imagination to keep us in suspense, or he's hinting at something. [6]

Also, Marco repeatedly is grouped with RBA (Reiner, Bertholt, Annie), the other Titan shifters, in the manga[7]

RBAMarco

Image from Tumblr

Beware: Fake Evidence

The GIF, supposedly showing the leg of Marco's corpse moving in the anime, has been announced to be a fake by the person who edited it [8].

Marcogif

Fake, edited GIF of Marco's leg moving

His leg does not move in the anime.

References

Wingleft xxkiiroxx Wingright

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