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Eren Yeager: Hero or Villain?

John is enthusiastic about comics, cartoons and animated comic movies.

Eren Yeager in "Attack on Titan"

Eren Yeager in "Attack on Titan"

Nine years ago, Titans were bad and humans were good. Everything was simple. We watched a rebellious young boy lose his mother in the most horrific way possible and, from then on, all of us were rooting for him to become a soldier and avenge his mother’s death. It seemed like a straightforward plot with chunks of undisclosed information to keep us watching.

Boy, have things changed. I mean, wow! And at the core of it all, he still stands. The young boy is now grown up and undertaking a path that none of us would have foreseen. Now, before we move forward, I want us to take a moment and acknowledge the genius that is Hajime Isayama. Hell, I wouldn’t be writing this article had it not been for the guy. We owe this masterpiece of anime to him.

Now, back to the question that has divided most Attack on Titan fans. Is Eren Yeager a hero or a villain? I believe that no matter the answer, there will be an opposing view, so here’s what we’ll do. We’ll defend and condemn Eren’s actions in a bid to find the most appropriate conclusion. So ready yourselves, because this is going to be quite a journey.

Why Eren Yeager is a Villain

Eren has done some unpleasant things that clearly portray him as a villain.

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1. He manipulated Falco

Eren tricking someone as pure as Falco into doing his bidding was a truly villainous act. The boy was always kind to Eren, whom, he had come to know as Mr. Kruger. The fact that Eren used the boy knowing very well that the letters were being sent to the scouts and not his family was evil. If Falco had been caught, being of Eldian blood, he would probably have not been spared from a brutal punishment. And that’s not all, when Eren transformed during Willy Tybur’s speech, he did not give a care about Falco. If Reiner had not acted swiftly, the boy would have died as well.

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2. He Put Friends in Harm’s Way

Eren forced the scouts to act after infiltrating Marley and sending them multiple letters about his discoveries. This action eventually led to the death of Sasha Blouse, one of Attack on Titan’s most beloved characters and a good friend to Eren. He’s reaction to her death was something none of us would have imagined. A number of other scouts also died during the battle.

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3. He Killed Innocent People

During Willy Tybur’s speech, Eren holds a conversation with Reiner underneath a residential building full of people. We can see children with their parents ready to listen to the speech. Eren makes Reiner aware of this before asking him to sit down. The threat to transform and kill innocent people is something a villain would do.

At first, we all think he’s not going to do it, I mean, he’s Eren our protagonist, the hero. However, following Willy Tybur’s declaration of war, Eren’s eyes light up and while holding Reiner’s hands he transforms. The impact destroys the entire building. When Mikasa shows up during Eren’s fight with the Warhammer titan she clearly points out that Eren killed even children.

Currently Eren is carrying out a plan that will wipe out every living being beyond the Island. This is genocide and what he did while in Marley will pale in comparison to the rumbling.

Why Eren Yeager is a Hero

Despite his present actions, Eren Yeager has done so much for the people of Paradis. To discredit his achievements would be foolish as they have saved a lot of lives.

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Read More From Reelrundown

1. The Battle for Trost

We all remember this enthralling yet emotional moment. We were finally treated to one of the most heroic actions of our protagonist Eren Yeager. The run of episodes leading to this kept me at the edge of my seat as it was a bundle of mystery and excitement. Needless to say, they went all in. So why not refresh our memories.

Following the appearance of the colossal titan, the wall was once again breached. Titans began marching in and devouring the humans within. We could all see a repetition of what happened in Shiganshina. However, history was not destined to repeat itself. Eren Yeager, now had the power of a titan and managed to do what was seemingly impossible at that time. He sealed the wall.

I know this is a shallow explanation of this epic episode but you can see what I’m trying to get across here. What Eren did was the first sign of hope for humanity within the walls. He was a titan who protects humans: something those within the walls never could have imagined. After years of living in fear, they finally had a titan on their side.

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2. He Repeatedly Saved his Friends

A lot of people were appalled by the violent means which Eren used to save Mikasa from the human traffickers. However, the traffickers showed no mercy when they murdered Mikasa’s parents. Eren simply did what had to be done at the spur of the moment so as to save the young girl. Had he waited, then it would have been too late. What he did was a show of heroism and unflinching bravery for a child. This was the first time Eren saved Mikasa.

He would later go on to rescue her against a titan during his first transformation, then when the military fired a canon towards him while Mikasa and Armin were there and also during his first hardening scene where he not only saved her but also Levi, Jean, Connie, Sasha and Historia. Oh, and we all remember the co-ordinate scene.

This just goes to show that Eren’s friends have always been his prime priority. It’s because of Eren that Armin was not eaten by a titan. Although while pulling him out of the titan’s mouth, he clearly states that he does not want to die, the fact that he was holding the titan’s mouth open while extremely weakened and in pain shows that he was willing to risk his life just to ensure Armin’s safety. We also remember him begging Levi to give the titan serum to Armin instead of Commander Erwin.

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3. His Ultimate Goal was Protection

Eren’s main goal is to protect his friends and the people of Paradis Island where he was born and raised. He clearly states this while executing the rumbling. While many may not find any justification in eliminating such a large portion of people in the world, I think we can all agree that the goal in and of itself isn’t evil. It’s just the means he's using to achieve it that’s morally wrong.

Eren was given another alternative early on and that was to use the power of the founder to remove the Eldians’ ability to reproduce. This would mean that they would eventually be wiped off the face of the world and without them, the world would be peaceful. This was a sacrifice they had to make for peace from Zeke’s point of view.

I for one did not like this plan. A race shouldn’t suffer such a fate because of the sins of their ancestors. However, the world of Attack on Titan does not give us a lot of alternatives. The people of Marley abhor Eldians and even if peace talks were to be successful, that bubble of peace would eventually burst given the tension between the two.

Eren’s plan is to leave only his race alive (mostly those in Paradis Island) and by doing so completely eliminate the racial hatred and discrimination against them.

The big question here is, does Eren have any other choice? Even if he only destroyed the armed forces gathered at Marley then stopped the rumbling, they would still recover. It could take months, years or decades but it would happen and the cycle would repeat itself. Eren is probably searching for a long-term solution to ensure the survival of his friends and people given that he only has about 4 more years to live.

Season 4 started with Eren already in Marley and as it went on, we got more information of what happened. If you watched the season keenly then you could see that Eren executed the rumbling as a last resort. After infiltrating Marley, he saw the good and the bad. He got to meet some nice people like Falco but also saw the hatred the people of Marley had for Eldians. He attended the meetings held by the leaders and all he witnessed was the animosity they had towards them. They felt like the mere existence of the people of Paradis Island was a threat to their security. The declaration of war by Willy Tybur was the final blow as it meant that they wanted to eliminate the Eldians on the Island. Eren would never allow that to happen.

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Verdict

So, finally, is Eren a hero or a villain? Eren’s choices are quite limited. It’s either he destroys the world or the world kills him and his people. We can’t call him a real hero since he’s about to wipe out a huge percentage of the world and we can’t call him a classic villain because he’s doing so as a last resort to ensure the survival of his people. An anti-hero would be the best fit for Eren Yeager.

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