Attack on Titan is an absolute juggernaut of an anime. Based on the manga of the same name by Hajime Isayama, the series exploded into popularity with its incredible first season and has only grown its success since. It’s not hard to see why, either. With the world-building and political intrigue of shows like Game of Thrones and the blistering animation and action of the best shonen anime, Attack on Titan is a steampunk kaiju mash-up with brutal violence, all-or-nothing stakes, and some of the most jaw-dropping plot twists in television history.
It’s with this keen spirit in mind that we’re choosing the 15 best Attack on Titan episodes so far. Sure enough, with one final batch of episodes coming in 2023, this list may need to be re-jiggered down the line, but as it stands, these are some of the most intense and integral episodes of the series that have soared triumphantly on their ODM gear into our memories.
The Best AOT Episodes
15. Season 1, Episode 17: “Female Titan: The 57th Exterior Scouting Mission, Part 1”
Much like how the revelation that Eren and others can turn into titans changes the course of the series, the threat posed by the first appearance of the Female Titan changes the nature of the struggle behind Attack on Titan immeasurably.
Though it becomes clear that Erwin and Levi suspected another sentient titan might appear, they had almost certainly underestimated how deadly she might be as Annie goes on to kill dozens of the Scout Corps ranks before she is finally brought low.
14. Season 3, Episode 9: “Ruler of the Walls”
Though the first half of Season 3 is arguably the slowest arc of the entire series, it goes out with a sizable bang as Rod Reiss transforms into a massive abnormal titan and sets out to destroy the walled cities completely.
Though Reiss doesn’t quite possess the villainous punch of Zeke, Annie, or Reiner, he’s enough of a threat to bring about an all-hands-on-deck struggle as the central characters of Attack on Titan must work together to stop his madness once and for all.
13. Season 1, Episode 21: “Crushing Blow: The 57th Exterior Scouting Mission, Part 5”
“Crushing Blow” is a fitting name for an episode that’s so devastating for the Scouts of Attack on Titan. Just as Levi Squad has gained Eren’s trust and the unit begins functioning as a proper team, the Female Titan appears and wipes them all out in one fell swoop.
It’s yet another indication that this series will be playing by its own rules and that a whole host of seemingly important characters can be killed off wholesale just a few episodes after they were introduced as the best of the best.
12. Season 1, Episode 8: “I Can Hear His Heartbeat: The Struggle for Trost, Part 4”
What makes this episode so pivotal is how it changes our perception of the story completely. After all, if humans can turn into titans, then the real enemies aren’t titans at all — it’s other humans.
This addition to the lore sets the stage for the conflict that drives almost the entire remainder of the series and also sets up some incredible action as Eren’s Attack Titan lays waste to the titans that have invaded his home once again and takes maybe a little too much joy in tearing them to pieces.
11. Season 3, Episode 21: “Attack Titan”
After the brutal and costly Battle for Shiganshina is finally over, the hidden truth behind the titans and their origins is finally revealed.
“Attack Titan” is mostly exposition, but it helps that the information being unfolded is all of the things the audience and the characters have been wanting to know since basically the first episode of the series.
With the history of Grisha, Marley, and Paradis finally unveiled, the world of Attack on Titan looks very different, and the stage is set for the final arcs to begin.
10. Season 1, Episode 25: “Wall: Assault on Stohess, Part 3”
This is the pivotal payoff for all of the groundwork laid by Season 1 of Attack on Titan. With Annie revealed as the traitor and nothing more for her to lose and Eren having finally mastered his titan powers, the groundwork has been laid for a no holds barred showdown between the two in a city-destroying spectacle.
The long wait for the battle is definitely paid off, particularly during the ending when Annie thinks she’s won, only for Eren and Mikasa to crush her as she desperately tries to escape. “Annie. Fall.” is hands down some of the most badass dialogue in the entire series and the final shot, which reveals that the walls are filled with titans, only adds further mystery and intrigue to the world of Attack on Titan.
9. Season 4, Episode 7: “Assault”
“Assault” basically exists as an extension of the carnage and bloodshed of the “The War Hammer Titan,” but anyone who’s seen the previous episode will be well here for it. With the scout troops having arrived in full force and Armin supporting Eren’s plan with a Colossal Titan massacre of Marley’s entire naval fleet, the absolute gall of ”Assault” is unmistakable in making the final point about Attack on Titan’s views on fascism, the cycle of violence and retribution, and how our enemies are almost never as culpable as we think they are.
Zeke and Levi working together for what they think is the greater good is the ultimate pin in this grenade, and as Galliard lies prostrate and the scouts descend on him, his incredulous response of “Don’t they know I’m a titan?” becomes the thesis of the episode. It’s a brilliant bit of writing, and it all happens so fast that viewers might need a couple of watches before all of it even sinks in.
8. Season 3, Episode 18: “Midnight Sun”
It’s a great strength of Attack on Titan that it can make episodes that center almost entirely around conversations as exciting as it does.
“Midnight Sun” is one such episode, and it focuses on Eren, Mikasa, and Floch making their cases to Levi about who he should use his single vial of titan serum to save: Erwin or Armin. Both have been brutalized after offering their lives in service of the war against Marley, and both are on the edge of death. What makes the intensity of the conversation so palpable is that it becomes clear that Eren and Mikasa might be willing to take the vial by force if necessary.
However, Levi ultimately relents, deciding to let his old friend Erwin rest at last. This leads to maybe the biggest comeuppance in the series, as Bertholdt screams and begs for his life while Armin devours him in titan form. All the while, his former friends look on with cold indifference, watching the brutal spectacle unfold before them as Armin inherits the Colossal Titan.
7. Season 4, Episode 19: “Two Brothers”
One of the most effective elements of Attack on Titan is the way that it plants seeds, sometimes dozens of episodes in advance, so that when a moment finally comes, it’s given that much more gravitas.
While the set-up and timing for Zeke’s wine ploy doesn’t last quite that long, it lingers in the background for enough time that when Zeke finally pulls the trigger, the moment is suitably epic. As titans spring up all over the city, the entire conflict between Marley and Paradis is upended in an instant, and Falco and Pyxis are turned into titans as a result.
Furthermore, Galliard is killed off, making way for a new Jaw Titan, and Gabi blows Eren’s head clear from his body with an artillery gun as the rest of the scouts battle their opponents in blazing, slow-motion glory. Honestly, “Two Brothers” might be the most packed episode in the series when it comes to awesome moments, and in a show like Attack on Titan, that’s saying something.
6. Season 2, Episode 7: “ Close Combat”
Following on the heels of the big Reiner/Bertholdt reveal of the previous episode, “Close Combat” sees our second big titan fight as Eren’s Attack Titan battles Reiner’s Armored Titan.
The fight is a total showstopper, too, as Eren and Reiner engage in an MMA-style scrap with elements of professional wrestling thrown in for good measure. Meanwhile, the scouts have to contend with the threat of the Colossal Titan, who’s bigger than ever as he stands perched upon the wall.
Attack on Titan is often at its best when it ratchets up the action, and “Close Combat” is one of the clearest examples of this. Furthermore, the episode comes to a close on one of the most brutal cliffhangers of the series, as the Colossal Titan disengages his massive skull and drops it from the wall on the combatants below.
5. Season 1, Episode 5: “First Battle: The Struggle for Trost, Part 1”
While Attack on Titan unquestionably begins very strong, it isn’t until this episode that the audience realizes that this show isn’t going to be like anything else that they’ve ever seen.
As Eren is built up to be the hero of the show, and we watch him grow and train for exactly this moment, our protagonist goes up against the titans who took everything from him at last. What cements the episode as a classic, though, is how it subverts our expectations. Eren is able to save his friend Armin at the last minute but is swallowed by a titan in the process, leaving Armin’s blood-curdling screams to echo as the episode comes to an end.
It’s one of the most shocking moments in a series that’s filled with them, and it inevitably sets in motion several key reveals that change how we see the world of Attack on Titan. Still, even as a standalone episode, “First Battle: The Struggle for Trost, Part 1” leaves a major impact on viewers and sets this anime well apart from the pack very early on.
4. Season 3, Episode 17: “Hero”
The Battle For Shiganshina arc is filled with impossible dilemmas and heart-breaking decisions for the central characters of Attack on Titan. It is an arc filled with sorrow, bloodshed, death, and sacrifice.
All of this culminates in two all-or-nothing stands against the enemy as Eren, Armin, Erwin, and Levi prepare to put it all on the line in hopes of ending the battle once and for all. As Erwin leads the remaining soldiers in a suicide charge, Levi uses the distraction to finally wipe that smug smirk off of the Beast Titan’s face once and for all, and boy, oh boy, is it ever satisfying to Zeke on the wrong side of a blade at last.
Within the walls, Armin also makes the ultimate sacrifice to distract the enemy, allowing himself to be cooked alive by the steam bursts of the Colossal Titan so that Eren can go in for the kill. As the episode ends on the back of these noble acts of heroism, the title, “Hero,” can’t help but echo and resonate in the hearts and minds of viewers as one of the best Attack on Titan episodes.
3. Season 4, Episode 6: “The War Hammer Titan”
Though Season 4 begins with a relatively slow build-up as we meet the “enemies” of Marley on their home turf, the story is patiently ratcheting up to something hidden in plain sight. The preceding episode offers the final bits of this as we finally understand that not only has Eren infiltrated Marley, but he’s planning on getting his revenge on Reiner once and for all.
In “The War Hammer Titan,” Eren enacts brutal retribution on Reiner, killing as many people of Marley as he can in an indiscriminate massacre. Still, that wanton death and destruction is only the beginning of the carnage as we also meet the last of The Nine to appear in Attack on Titan.
Insanely overpowered and seemingly indestructible, The War Hammer Titan is a truly devastating threat. This is why it’s all the more shocking when Eren kills her in only a single episode, absorbing her powers as a result. Making the moment even more horrific, Eren pulls this off by using the Jaw Titan as a nutcracker, forcing him to play a part in murdering his friend. It’s an absolutely insane kill and an act that helps to cement this new ruthless version of Eren for the audience: a man who will do anything to accomplish his goals.
2. Season 2, Episode 6: “Warrior”
Do you remember the most understated reveal in Attack on Titan history? We should hope so because this was one for the ages.
Reiner is finally finished with maintaining his dueling personalities and lets it all out to Eren in a desperate gamble, hoping he will join them willingly. The shock of the moment is as palpable in the world of the show as it is for the audience. As Mikasa freezes in shock and Eren struggles to understand what he’s hearing, the very elements seem to react to the revelation as a gust of wind rises and tears a piece of wood from the wall, echoing its descent into the void below.
After the moment passes, though, everyone knows that nothing will ever be the same again. As Mikasa leaps into action and tries to kill Reiner and Bertholdt before they can change, Eren leaps from the wall and prepares for battle. It’s a cliffhanger that resonates incredibly well and one of the biggest, most insane plot twists ever.
What makes it all the more impressive is how it changes the way you watch the show. Going back, you can see all kinds of moments that telegraph this amazing reveal, but only because you now have the knowledge from “Warrior” to go off of.
1. Season 4, Episode 21: “From You, 2000 Years Ago”
This is it, folks, the mother of all Attack on Titan episodes. Nothing in this incredible series has ever been as epic or as awe-inspiring as the moment when Eren finally completes his character arc and unleashes genocide on the entire world. From the start, Eren was never your typical anime protagonist, and as the series went on, he only got darker. From maiming himself again and again to contemplating suicide to launching a sneak attack on civilians, Eren has become increasingly ruthless in the pursuit of his goals.
Yeah, yeah, the road to hell and all that, right? Still, no anime save maybe Berserk, or Code Geass has ever pulled off such a believable and devastating hero-to-villain arc, and “From You, 2000 Years Ago” is the chef’s kiss for that journey.
Furthermore, “From You, 2000 Years Ago” also unfolds the tragic origin of the founding titan, Ymir. In fact, the connection Eren is able to form with her is how he’s able to pull off his daring plan once and for all.
Even leaving aside the world-changing aspects of the episode, the animation showcase that unfolds as the walls fall and countless colossal titans emerge to destroy the world shows that fans had nothing to worry about with regard to MAPPA taking over from Wit Studio for Season 4. Hell, it might even be the best animation in the entire series.
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