Trying to decide which deaths in Attack On Titan are the most brutal is like trying to pick which ocean is the most wet. In a series famed for both its trigger happy treatment of characters and its often gruesome death scenes, there is certainly no shortage of brutality. With the show’s long-awaited second season currently airing, Titan fans can expect plenty more blood, guts and severed limbs in the coming weeks and hopefully the show will finally start to provide some answers to its many mysteries.
Taking into account both physical execution and emotional impact, this list will be slicing through the most brutal, devastating and downright grim deaths in Attack On Titan’s one and a bit anime seasons thus far. The ill-fated Japanese live-action adaptation will not be included here. Deaths in spin-off episodes will count so long as the material takes place within the primary narrative but Titan kills will be omitted as that’s another list for another day. Until then, here are the 15 Most Brutal Deaths In Attack On Titan!
15 Mina Carolina
Kicking things off with a sad, if not particularly Earth-shattering, death is 104th Training Corps member Mina Carolina. The amusing assonance of her name aside, Mina’s primary function in Attack on Titan was to demonstrate just how brutally murderous the Titans could be and as one of the more innocent and optimistic cadets, she fulfilled her role perfectly.
Arguably, part of the blame for Mina’s death lies with protagonist Eren Yeager as his attempt to avenge Thomas led to Mina also breaking ranks and speeding off alone. While following Eren, Mina’s 3D Maneuver Gear gets caught by a Titan and she’s hurled harshly into a nearby wall. Her situation deteriorates further when a Titan with the creepiest of eyes picks the young girl up like a ragdoll and devours her without the slightest effort.
With the death of Thomas shortly before and Eren’s close call immediately after, Mina’s moment gets lost in the shuffle somewhat despite being a tense and gripping scene.
14 Stohess Wall Worshipers
Superheroes take a lot of heat for the collateral damage they cause to innocent bystanders during their inner-city scuffles, and the world of anime is apparently no different. In season one’s climactic battle between Eren and Annie – both in their Titan forms – Eren finally manages to knock his opponent down...and straight on top of a church full of citizens.
Of course, the incident was entirely accidental and Eren’s Titan form was vastly unpredictable at this point. Still, the fact that Eren essentially mauled a building full of people is, unsurprisingly, quickly glossed over. The Titan worshipers are a shady bunch in the series, and so perhaps their innocence could be debated, but the act still goes against everything Eren in his human form would usually stand for.
The scene did, however, nicely set up the final, shocking reveal of Attack on Titan season one: that the three walls don’t just protect humanity from the Titans, they’re actually made of Titans.
13 Franz Kefka
Eren and Mikasa’s romance might be slowly burning away in the background but fellow 104 Corps couple Franz and Hannah were far more forthcoming in their feelings for each other. The duo may have been lambasted by Eren for their overly optimistic approach to taking on the Titans but both characters were likeable and easy to relate to and at the outset of the Trost arc, Franz nobly promises to protect his girlfriend at all costs.
Obviously then, they were doomed. A short way into the battle, Franz is killed off-screen and Armin finds Hannah desperately attempting to revive her partner with C.P.R despite that fact his entire lower body is missing. The real brutality of the scene comes from the reactions of both Hannah and Armin. While the girl is predictably distraught by Franz’ death, almost to the point of delusion, Armin has a mini-breakdown and seemingly loses all hope after seeing yet more of his friends wither at the hands of the Titans.
12 Marco Bott
Marco Bott is another entry on this list whose death is not actually shown on screen but the state his corpse is left in - as well as the manner in which it is discovered – certainly warrants an entry. Yet another victim of the bloody Trost battle, Marco was an all-round likeable member of the 104 Training Division and played an instrumental part in helping Jean find his inner courage.
Sadly, during the clean-up operation in the wake of the battle, Jean stumbles across the mangled corpse of his old friend. Aside from missing a large chunk of his right side, perhaps the most disturbing thing about Marco’s corpse is the pale, ghost-like facial expression fixed onto his features. Jean’s subsequent reaction turns the scene into a real tear-jerker.
Due to his popularity, many fan theories emerged suggesting that Marco was actually still alive, however these have since been debunked. Followers of the Attack on Titan manga series will know full well how Marco met his demise and if that were taken into consideration, he’d be far higher in this list.
11 Suicidal Trainee
No one is saying that living in the world of Titans is easy and the soldiers charged with fighting the beasts have an even worse deal. As such, it may not come as a surprise that this particular background character decided to take his own life, rather than become Titan fodder.
In the battle for Trost, a group of trainees come under siege by a large group of Titans attacking the supply tower they're holed up in. Lacking the 3D Maneuver Gear needed to fight the things, the cadets had little choice but to hunker down and prepare for their inevitable death and one young soldier wasn’t about to wait for a slow, bloody demise.
The scene is particularly haunting because of the way the character calmly cleans and prepares his gun, as well as the girl next to him believing he planned to use it on the Titans. With a small smile on his face, the trainee puts the gun into his mouth and pulls the trigger, covering the poor girl near him in a smattering of blood.
10 Ian Dietrich
He may have been a peripheral figure in the overall scheme of Attack on Titan but squad leader Ian Dietrich played a prominent part in the attempt to reclaim the district of Trost and unlike some of his subordinates, was afforded a reasonably epic death scene.
With humanity (perhaps understandably) skeptical about whether Eren’s Titan transformation could be trusted, Ian decides to place his faith in the youngster’s power, putting his life on the line to protect Eren as he blocked off the broken Trost gate and urging his squad to do the same. In the midst of a rousing internal monologue, Ian narrowly drags one of his comrades out of a Titan’s mouth, knowing full well that doing so would mean being eaten himself.
One of the rare instances where a Survey Corps member dying directly leads to a significant victory, Ian also departed the series having had the honor of making Mikasa blush after he referred to Eren as her boyfriend.
9 Ilse Langnar
The first entry on this list not to be derived from the primary Attack on Titan series comes from the short OVA, ‘Ilse’s Notebook’, based on the manga chapter of the same name. Taking place shortly before the start of the main series, the story focuses on Survey Corps member and journal enthusiast Ilse Langnar who is attempting to make it back to the walls after her team was decimated by Titans.
Ilse quickly encounters trouble and prepares for death but is surprised when the Titan begins to speak to her. Unable to get further information out of the creature, Ilse becomes frustrated and the Titan resumes its normal, deadly service. With the woman frantically scribbling down as many things as she can with her head in between the Titan’s teeth, she is slowly decapitated. Adding to this death’s brutality is the fact that the Titan puts the rest of her body in a tree as some sort of disturbing shrine.
Although the Titan wasn’t as chatty as another beast this list will explore later, it did refer to Ilse as a ‘Subject of Ymir’. That certainly sounds like something that might become important in the future...
8 Female Titan Victims Vol. 1: Outside The Walls
The Female Titan certainly made a strong impression in her debut appearance during the Survey Corps' 57th expedition outside the walls. Initially dismissed as an Abnormal Titan, it quickly became apparent that the Female was actually a Shifter, much like Eren, as she targeted soldiers and dispatched them methodically.
Poor Sys is swatted away easily and likeable squad leader Ness soon follows, being slammed mercilessly into the hard ground. Another soldier is stamped into the floor, his comrade kicked into a wall and finally, most brutal of all, the Female Titan picks one fighter with a particularly bad haircut to playfully swing around by his 3D Maneuver Gear in a scene that is both hilarious and disturbing in equal measure.
As horrific as it is watching mindless Titans devour humans, seeing one intentionally tear through entire squads, toying with them along the way, is arguably even more difficult to watch.
7 Mikasa's Kidnappers
From the outset, Attack on Titan made it abundantly clear that there was a deep and unbreakable bond between Eren Yeager and Mikasa Ackerman but it took a few episodes for the reasons behind this connection to be revealed to viewers.
After Mikasa is abducted by human traffickers intent on selling her to the highest bidder, Eren seeks the girl out and single-handedly takes on the group of criminals holding her. He dispatches one with a swift knife strike in the doorway – echoing Mr. Ackerman’s demise previously – and then nails the second with an improvised spear and a hail of blood. The third is left for Mikasa to run through the heart after she shakes off her nerves.
Although all three deaths are gory, the real brutality of the scene comes from the fact that the killings are being performed by two once-innocent children and that the tough world of Attack on Titan has clearly fostered a dark streak within both youngsters.
6 Mikasa's Parents
As brutal as Eren and Mikasa’s revenge against her captors was, the actual deaths of her parents that preceded it were undoubtedly worse and represent the highest ranked non-Titan kills on this list.
Expecting a visit from local doctor and Eren’s father, Grisha, Mikasa’s father opens the door and is promptly met with a knife to the stomach by a group of thugs looking to abduct his wife and daughter. The situation intensifies when Mikasa’s mother makes a hysterical attempt to protect her child and receives a heavy axe blow to the skull in return.
The dark, bloody nature of the scene combined with some truly unsettling facial expressions from the two female characters give this moment its brutality. The sequence also served as a stark and sobering reminder that no matter how big the monsters on the outside may be, there is just as much evil among the humans within the walls.
5 Thomas Wagner
The death of Thomas during the battle for Trost was perhaps the first real indication that Attack on Titan was a show where absolutely no character was safe. As one of Eren Yeager’s fellow cadets in the 104 Training Corps, fans may have assumed the character was at least partially protected in the narrative or that if he was offed, he would at least be afforded a dramatic and meaningful death scene.
Making Thomas’ death even more surprising was the fact that shortly beforehand, he experienced a modicum of character development as he found the courage the face the Titans and headed bravely into battle. Thomas’ conviction was somewhat misplaced as near the beginning of the battle, he was caught mid-flight in the jaws of a particularly springy Titan.
The moment clearly shook the 104th Trainees and caused Eren to recklessly seek revenge, an action that would’ve led to his own inclusion on this list if it weren’t for his latent Titan powers.
4 Miche Zacharius
Currently standing as the most significant death of season two – although you can bet any amount of money it won’t stay that way – is the demise of Survey Corps member, Miche. Although not a main character by any means, Miche’s death does herald the introduction of the new antagonist of season two: the talking, hairy Beast Titan.
After lobbing the soldier's own horse at him, the new creature calmly questions a stunned Miche about the weapon around his waist but leaves after receiving no reply. The soldier attempts one last heroic stand but the Beast instructs a group of nearby regular Titans to eat him alive, an order they happily comply with.
Viewers barely knew Miche and so his death does lack in the emotional sense but in terms of physical brutality and the wider implications it has on the Attack on Titan story, this scene was the standout moment of the season two premiere.
3 Isabel and Furlan
Although these characters aren’t in the main Attack On Titan series, they did made a huge impact in the Levi spinoff, 'No Regrets'. Delving into the O.C.D. suffering warrior’s back-story, it was revealed that Levi had two close friends from his upbringing in the slums that he considered to be family: Isabel and Furlan.
The trio are coerced into joining the Survey Corps and are hired to infiltrate the group, kill Erwin and steal his documents. Attempting to carry out this plan during an expedition, Levi leaves his friends, insisting on carrying out the mission alone. Upon realizing Titans are attacking, he rushes back, only to find Isabel's decapitated head and then witness Furlan's last moments being eaten by a Titan, his body severed into two with one huge bite.
Both deaths pack a huge emotional punch and are instrumental in Levi becoming the character fans know and love. The fact that Levi could’ve saved the duo had he not left them behind haunts viewers as much as it does man himself.
2 Female Titan Victims Vol. 2: Squad Levi
But they can’t all die can they? Absolutely. The four members of Levi’s original Special Operations Squad – Petra, Gunther, Eld and Oluo – were a quirky bunch that quickly endeared themselves to viewers despite being short-lived supporting characters. The squad felt very much like a family and were supposedly among the best of the best the Survey Corps had to offer.
Unfortunately, this couldn’t prevent them being systematically brutalized by the Female Titan, later revealed as 104th cadet Annie Leonhart. Gunther was the first to drop, being left dangling after an off-screen death at the hands of Annie’s human form. The other three soon followed after Annie Titanized, with Eld being chomped out of mid-air, a shaken Petra left as a stain upon a tree and Oluo being killed by a kick Cristiano Ronaldo would be proud of.
There are more inventive and gory deaths on this list but what makes the demise of Squad Levi particularly brutal is how only moments beforehand, they implore Eren to place his trust in them and to let them do their job to protect him. Heroic music begins to play and Eren valiantly goes along with his new friends, misleading viewers into believing the heroes will win the day. They don’t.
1 Carla Yeager
Attack On Titan certainly set out its stall of brutal deaths from the outset, as the first meaningful victim of the Titans in the show was also the most brutal, both in terms of the visuals and the context behind it.
With Eren on bad terms with his mother due to his desire to join the Survey Corps, the Colossal Titan attacks and the young boy rushes home to find the woman crushed under the rubble of his old home. Unable to free her as a Titan draws closer, Eren and Mikasa share an emotional goodbye with their mother before being literally dragged away and forced to watch as the bumbling enemy breaks Mrs. Yeager and chomps down on her torso in a hail of blood.
The scene is a perfect whirlwind of gorgeous animation, emotive music and heart-wrenching drama that immediately drew viewers into this epic tale. However, as fans of the Attack On Titan manga will be aware, there is a deeper layer to Carla Yeager’s death that has yet to be revealed in the anime that only serves to make it even more brutal.
Attack on Titan season two is currently airing on CrunchyRoll.