Among the commanders in Attack on Titan, Erwin Smith starts out as one of the best. Erwin, 13th Scout Corps Commander, created the Long Distance Enemy Scout Formation that led to the capture of the Female Titan. Unfortunately, this feat was not enough to make up for the mistakes he made before losing his father and those that came after.
Erwin had the genuine goal of making humanity the dominant species once again, but he dedicated himself to these ideals through the sacrifice of his men. Like many of the leaders in AoT, he was willing to sacrifice his own humanity for the sake of everything, including emotions and compassion.
8 “He shouted”
Erwin led his soldiers into battle in an attempt to win Eren back from Reiner, the Armored Titan, and Bertholdt. Ymir had a plan, but instead Erwin got in the way, losing his arm and many soldiers while letting Reiner go further with Eren in the process.
As Mikasa rescues Eren, as usual, Erwin sits wallowing and listening to his own scouts die around him.
7 Confessing to the Nile
Nile Dok was the commander of the Military Police Brigade when he and Erwin were closest friends. Even though they parted ways, Erwin felt comfortable enough to meet up with Nile and tell her about his bet to retake Wall Maria with Eren’s Titan abilities.
This backfired due to Nile’s logical mindset. Nile would prefer Eren to be executed as a civil war between citizens of the Walls was too risky. This revelation to the government put Erwin on trial, put Eren’s life at risk, and put an even greater breach in Erwin and Nile’s friendship.
6 Lying to levi
At the end of Season 2 and after the loss of his arm and many of his men, Erwin is on the mend and hears Connie’s theory that the Titans from their most recent battle were actually the human citizens of Ragako. At this news, Erwin smiled knowing he was closer to its truth. Levi was surprised to see him smile.
He mentions that the Walls are excluding them from the truth and will break them down in time. Levi, and even fans, thought he was referring to discovering the Titans, their purpose, and how to bring humanity back to the top, but he was talking about avenging his father and continuing his personal mission.
5 Battle of Shiganshina
The Survey Corps planned to locate and investigate Grisha Yeager’s basement and Erwin rejected the idea of him being left behind as he had recently lost his arm and could be lost in this battle.
During a party, Erwin revealed that they possessed the Titan serum and that he would give it to wounded soldiers to turn them into mindless Titans so they could continue fighting. For someone who wants humanity to live and dominate, this is a strategic but contradictory plan.
4 The Female Titan
While the mission was a temporary success in capturing the Female Titan, who was later revealed to be Annie Leonhart, it came at the cost of the sacrifice of Erwin’s troops.
Due to his order to continue advancing into the forest, he lost an entire flank of soldiers, but kept going. Even his troops were surprised by this order. He continues to make bad calls upon his return to Karanes and is summoned to the capital.
3 Wall maria
Erwin’s motivation to save humanity was based on his passion for proving his father’s theory that humans did this to themselves by being greedy and that there is life beyond what the government has created for them.
This blocked his judgment long enough to the point where instead of retaking Wall Maria when the territory was lost, he made his way to try to find the secrets in Eren’s basement and was unsuccessful.
two “Midnight Sun”
Erwin has caused so many losses to his soldiers that Floch even considered killing him when he found him wounded during the battle with the Beast Titan.
But instead, Floch brought him back to Levi for the Titan serum so that he could suffer further loss and guilt. For some of the soldiers, Erwin “is a devil.” In the end, he died at Levi’s mercy, but without outwardly acknowledging that he was sorry for all the loss he caused, it was what made many of his bets mistakes.
1 His dad’s death
This is Erwin’s most unfortunate mistake and he was a child at the time, so he can’t be blamed. The guilt close to his heart and the loss of his father is what drives Erwin’s personal mission.
At one point, Clause Six of the Charter of Humanity repeated, “One must never prioritize one’s own gain over the survival of humanity.” While he is constantly looking for new ways to help humanity persevere, he also always had ulterior motives due to guilt in causing his father’s death by speaking about his theory of government.
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