‘Attack on Titan’: Does Eren Jaeger Become the Villain in the Manga?

Attack on Titan fans have been rooting for Eren Jaeger since the anime premiered, but season 4 has raised a lot of questions about the series’ main character. Eren’s pursuit of freedom has begun to put his friends and innocent people in harm’s way. And the latest installment may leave fans wondering: is Eren the villain of this story? For the answer, they can look to the Attack on Titan manga.

[Warning: This article contains spoilers for Attack on Titan Episode 79 and the manga.]

‘Attack on Titan’ Episode 79 ends with a major twist

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Attack on Titan Episode 79 picks up with Eren and Zeke cycling through Eren’s memories. In doing so, Zeke hopes to convince Eren he’s been brainwashed by their father. However, their trip into the past reveals something quite different.

As it turns out, Eren himself has been calling the shots courtesy of a time paradox that can only exist thanks to the Attack Titan. Although fans knew the person possessing the Attack Titan could see the past holders’ memories, the anime reveals they can also see the memories of future holders. That enables Eren to interact with his father through his recollections. And apparently, he’s the one who convinced Grisha to slaughter the Reiss family all those years ago.

Eren’s power also gives Zeke the opportunity to speak to Grisha, and the man gives his first son a warning: things are about to go in Eren’s favor. He also begs Zeke to stop his younger brother — begging the question, is Eren Jaeger actually becoming the villain?

Does Eren Jaeger become the villain in the ‘Attack on Titan’ manga?

Eren Jaeger washing his face in 'Attack on Titan' Season 4.
Eren Jaeger in ‘Attack on Titan’ Season 4 | Crunchyroll

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The Attack on Titan anime has yet to reveal Eren’s true intentions in controlling the Founder, but those who have read Hajime Isayama’s manga know what he’s up to. Although he told Zeke he was onboard with the Eldian euthanization plan, Eren’s got another initiative in mind: activating the Rumbling.

The Rumbling awakens the Titans within the Walls and sends them outside to destroy all human life. By eliminating the outside world, Eren hopes to keep his own people free and safe — something that would never happen with Marley and its allies at large. And he succeeds in killing countless people before the major players from Paradis Island and Marley unite to stop him.

While Eren has the fates of his comrades and friends in mind, there’s no way he can follow through with such a plan that doesn’t leave him a morally reprehensible character. So, simply put, Eren does become the villain of Attack on Titan. His actions also lead him to a tragic end.

Eren Jaeger’s manga fate, explained

Sadly, the big Eren twist in Attack on Titan leads to a tragic ending for the character. After becoming the antagonist in the final chapters, Eren is killed by Mikasa. By taking his life, she prevents him from completing the Rumbling. She also inadvertently ends the curse of the Titans. She sacrifices her love for the sake of humanity, convincing Ymir to release the Power of the Titans.

And in a sense, Eren gets exactly what he wanted by becoming the villain. His friends and home are free from the curse of the Titans, at least for a little while. Of course, that doesn’t justify his actions at the end of the series. Eren becomes what he detests in order to secure freedom and peace for Paradis Island — and those circumstances won’t last forever.

Given the implications of the Attack Titan and its ability to see the future, there was probably no stopping Eren from committing atrocities. He already knew the outcome of his actions. But he tells Armin he probably would have followed through with them regardless of how it ended.

The whole thing raises a lot of questions about his free will and morality, but his final words to Armin prove Eren would take the same path again if given the choice. He’d become the villain by predetermined fate or free will.

The anime is likely to explore the same themes, as it’s adapted Hajime Isayama’s source material to a T thus far. New episodes of Attack on Titan Season 4 drop every Sunday on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.

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