Why Did Eren Yeager Turn Evil in ‘Attack on Titan’?

We’re now living in a post–Attack on Titan world where both the acclaimed manga and the massively successful anime adaptation have reached their bittersweet conclusions. Originally written by manga author Hajime Isayama, AoT follows Eren Yeager as he and his companions attempt to fight back against man-eating giants known as Titans to reclaim their freedom. As the story progresses, however, the conflict becomes much more complicated than anyone could have predicted.

As Eren comes to learn the truth about Titans and his role in ending the conflict, he starts to come off as more of a villain as the climax of the story approaches. His actions are inherently evil, but his intentions have some moral ambiguity to them. But why does he become a villain by the end of Attack on Titan? In no small terms, he makes an enormous sacrifice.

‘Attack on Titan: The Final Season’

When we first meet Eren, he’s a young and angry boy who swears revenge on the Titans after they breach one of the walled cities protecting humanity, and their bloodthirsty invasion results in the death of his mother. To exact his vengeance, he joins the Scout Regiment to face Titans head-on. However, he begins to uncover horrifying truths as he learns more about his inherent ability to turn into a sentient Titan himself.

After reclaiming one of the cities from the Titans, Eren and the rest of the Scout Regiment learn that their home is essentially an island prison for Eldians, people who can turn into Titans, who previously oppressed the world with their might. They also learn that humanity, once thought to be nearly extinct, has thrived and prospered off the island at their expense. In fact, Eldians are largely discriminated against by society several centuries after their rule.

Eren hopes to break the unending cycle of hatred, but he also comes to learn that his role in that is to become history’s worst villain. After inadvertently gaining the ability to see his future, he learns that he will come to trigger the Rumbling, a cataclysmic event in which an army of massive Titans trample over 80 percent of humanity.

Despite his attempts to avoid these future events, he soon comes to realize that his actions are inevitable, horrible though they may be.

The Scout Regimen and Marleyan forces face off against Eren

Even then, however, he has ulterior motives in mind. In essence, he becomes the villain knowing that his friends in the Scout Regiment (as well as individuals from Marley, one of the Eldians’ biggest oppressors) will kill him and end his conquest. He becomes the bad guy in the hopes that his friends will be viewed as the heroes who saved the world from Eren’s wrath.

There’s no questioning how terrible Eren’s actions are, but for better and for worse, it’s all by design. He allows himself to be the villain of the story so that his friends may live peacefully, even at the expense of the rest of humanity.

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