This article is about the 13th Commander of the Scout Regiment. For the 20th episode of the Attack on Titan anime, see Erwin Smith: The 57th Exterior Scouting Mission, Part 4.
|Scout Regiment Commanders|
|◄ Preceded by|| 13th|
|Followed by ►|
|Everything I've done till now... was because I thought this day would come. That someday, I could check if I was right. So many times... I thought death would be so much easier. But always, the dream I shared with my father flashed through my mind. And now, I'm close enough to the answers to reach out and grab them.|
|— Erwin reflects on his reasons for living|
Erwin Smith (エルヴィン・スミス Eruvin Sumisu?) was the 13th commander (団長 Danchō?) of the Scout Regiment. Discerning, intelligent, and widely respected, Erwin was an able commander. While he cared deeply for his men, he did not hesitate to sacrifice them for the good and prosperity of mankind, and his men have proven more than willing to stake their lives at his order. Erwin developed the Long-Distance Enemy Scouting Formation. Due to uncertainty about his future, he later named Hange Zoë as his successor.
Erwin had a commanding presence. He stood tall above most members of the Scout Regiment, with his blond hair kept neatly parted on the left side.
Erwin always wore a calm, collected expression on his face, his icy blue eyes being one of his most striking features. His eyebrows were also quite noticeable, being very thick and bushy.
Erwin typically dressed in the standard military uniform, donning the Scout Regiment's signature green cape when on missions. He also wore a small, emerald bolo tie around his neck just like the other military commanders, Nile Dawk and Dot Pyxis.
Following the second appearance of the Armored Titan, Erwin lost his right arm just below his shoulder as it was bitten off by a Titan.
Erwin was a complex character, portrayed as serious, calculating, seeing, and planning far for the future. While he trusted his men, he was the first to realize that there was a spy interfering with the Scout Regiment, and was able to come up with a reasonable criteria to determine which of his soldiers to trust with vital information, and which to keep in the dark. He was also heavily involved in designing the plan that was used to capture said traitor. He was an eloquent speaker, able to sway many people, such as the military deliberation held to judge Eren Jaeger and the cadets choosing recruitment branches to join. However, he made no effort to downplay the danger his regiment experiences.
Erwin was very grim. He accepted all news, good or bad, mockery or praise, with the same stoic attitude because he knew his objectives and would follow through with them. His ultimate goal was for humanity to once again rise up and become the dominant species over the Titans, a goal he is willing to sacrifice anything for.
He shared this unique stoic quality with men such as Garrison Commander Dot Pyxis, Section Commander Ian Dietrich, and Commander-in-Chief Dhalis Zachary. As Armin Arlelt put it, Erwin, like the aforementioned three men, had the ability to send his men to die if it would further the cause of humanity. They would sacrifice their own humanity in order to bring change to the world where those who cannot sacrifice things important to them will not change anything. Since he was able to make such commitments, he was a master strategist, shown multiple times through actions like capturing the Female Titan.
Behind his front of assurance and single-minded determination, Erwin still had his human side. Following the rebellion, he admitted he understood his audacious actions and questions constantly if what he was doing was the right thing. Dhalis Zachary and Dot Pyxis were also privy to this, with Zachary hypothesizing that Erwin did not truly care about humanity's best interests, and Pyxis openly accusing Erwin of caring more about his own life than the survival of humanity as a whole.
During his final expedition in Shiganshina, when faced with the prospect of sacrificing his own life in order to defeat the Beast Titan, Erwin proved reluctant to act, refusing to tell anyone the strategy until coerced by Levi. He cared more about discovering the secrets hidden in Eren's basement, and finally proving his father's theories correct, than he did about retaking the lost territory of Wall Maria. His dream of understanding the world was so strong that he confessed to Levi that he considered it more important than the victory of humanity. This selfishness should not, however, be mistaken for heartlessness. He felt great remorse for sacrificing countless others for the sake of his ambitions, admitting to Levi that he felt their fallen comrades watching him, waiting to see what he would do with the lives that they dedicated to him. Furthermore, despite his desire to understand the truth of the world being stronger than humanity's victory, Erwin made the selfless decision to go charging in the front lines alongside his soldiers and sacrifice the chance of knowing what was in the basement, effectively abandoning his dream.
As a child, Erwin was a curious and insightful individual who did not accept facts at face value. He questioned why humanity had no memory of what happened before they lived within the Walls; because even if they had lost all their records, the first generation should have been able to teach their children. His father shared a theory with him that the king had altered humanity's memories when they first entered the Walls so he could control them better. Too innocent to realize why his father would not discuss this in the classroom, Erwin shared it with the other kids in town, which resulted in his father's "accidental" death, arranged by the Military Police Regiment.
From then on, Erwin became convinced that his father's theory had been correct. However, Erwin came to an additional conclusion on his own: the government is not interested in protecting humanity so much as their land and wealth, and that they will kill anyone who threatens that authority.
When he joined the cadets he became friends with Nile Dawk, and used to tell others about his father's theory and his own theory that the Royal Government was hiding the truth about the world. He thought that once he became a Scout, he would prove it, but after he joined the Scout Regiment he stopped talking about it instead. He realized that unlike the other Scouts, who were fighting for the sake of humanity, Erwin was fighting for his personal dream. Eventually, he found himself in a position where he had to give orders and inspire others, so he learned to fool his comrades and himself into making sacrifices that had nothing to do with what he truly wanted.
While a Squad Leader, Erwin devised the Long-Range Enemy Scouting Formation as a way to minimize casualties while on expeditions. Erwin began implementing his strategies in his own squad when he became a Commander, and over time other soldiers and the populace began to notice that his squad would take no casualties, whereas Keith Sadies would often be the only survivor of his charges.
Erwin and his squad pursue Levi Ackermann, Furlan Church, and Isabel Magnolia in the Underground after they commit a heist. Levi, having been given warning that they would be after him, splits off from his friends and leads the squad on a good chase. He engages Miche Zacharius in combat with a knife before Erwin hurtles down from above to intervene. They clash and Erwin convinces Levi to surrender since his squad has already captured his friends.
Levi drops his knife and after they are restrained, Erwin asks the trio about where they obtained their omni-directional mobility gear and how they learned to use it. When they do not immediately answer, Miche shoves Levi's face into a dirty puddle, causing Furlan to insist that they are self-taught. Erwin finds this difficult to believe, but Furlan tells him that they had to learn in order to rise above their current living conditions; something that Erwin, as a person who lives in sunlight, would not understand.
Hearing this, Erwin kneels down to Levi's level and introduces himself. He offers Levi a deal. If he joins the Scout Regiment he will not be charged for his crimes. If he refuses, he and his friends will be handed over to the Military Police Regiment, which is unlikely to treat them well. Erwin is pleased when Levi agrees to join.
At a meeting with Keith Sadies, the current commander of the Scout Regiment, the other section commanders express disapproval over Erwin's recruitment of Levi, Furlan, and Isabel as well as his desire to take them on the next mission. Erwin understands their concerns, but vouches for the former criminals' skill and Keith backs him up. The commander also believes that Erwin's new long-range scouting formation will help avoid Titans and reduce their losses.
On a carriage ride back to headquarters, Keith informs Erwin that the delayed budget for the next expedition has been approved. An assembly member, Nicholas Lovof, suddenly switched his vote. Noting Erwin's lack of surprise, Keith asks if he has done something underhanded to cause this. Erwin informs him that Lovof favors a company that supplies the Military Police and wishes to reallocate the Scout Regiment's funding to them. He has proof of it. Fighting Titans has taught Erwin how precarious humanity's situation is, and because of that they must not abandon their efforts to retake their world, no matter what methods they must employ.
On the 23rd Exterior Scouting Mission, the long-range scouting formation is used for the first time, but before long it begins to rain, ruining visibility and the usefulness of the signal flares. Erwin advises Keith to narrow the formation and slow down in response to the weather. The rain prevents several of the Scouts from seeing an abnormal Titan in time and Furlan and Isabel are killed.
Erwin arrives as the rain lets up to find an angry and distraught Levi standing beside the dead body of the Titan. He asks Levi if he is the only survivor and calls him rather unsightly. Still seething, Levi attacks Erwin, saying that he will kill him. That is why he is here. In response, Erwin throws out a copy of the document that Levi and his friends had been searching for and lets him know that he is too late. Lovof, the man who hired him, is already done for.
Seeing that Levi is beginning to emotionally shut down in the face of everything he has lost, Erwin tells him to stop before he regrets this. No one knows what results their choices will bring. The mission will continue, and Levi is coming with them.
In the year 845, Erwin takes part in an expedition beyond Wall Maria. When the soldiers encounter a Titan, Erwin reports their distance from the Titan to Keith Sadies while the Scouts split up to engage the Titan.
Erwin is among the soldiers who return to Shiganshina alive after the failed mission.
While leading the 49th Exterior Scouting Mission, Erwin is confronted by Hange Zoë, who demands that they be allowed to capture Titans to use as test subjects. Recognizing the extra danger that would arise if soldiers did not engage Titans with the intent to kill, Erwin refuses Hange's proposal. When, shortly thereafter, Hange abandons the larger expedition force to try to capture a Titan on their own, Erwin orders Levi to follow Hange and keep them out of harm's way.
Following the retrieval of Ilse Langnar's notebook, which detailed Ilse's encounter with a Titan that possessed the ability to speak, Erwin approves Hange's proposal to begin capturing Titans in order to study them.
Erwin leads the Scout Regiment as it works to clear a town inside Wall Maria. They discover Titans are moving north, towards the Trost District of Wall Rose. Fearing a breach, they head to Trost District and narrowly save a trapped Eren, Armin, and Mikasa after their mission to block the hole is complete.
Erwin next appears when Eren recovers from his three day coma and is kept in a jail cell beneath the military court. He explains to Eren that his Titan powers have caused an uproar within the Walls. He has taken the key to Eren's basement and asks if the secret to Titans is located in the basement, to which Eren replies that he thinks it is. Erwin then formulates a plan to use Eren's Titan form to retake Wall Maria so they can investigate the basement.
Erwin attends the military's tribunal to determine what to do with Eren Jaeger, proposing to the military's premier Dhalis Zachary that the boy be entrusted to the Scout Regiment so that his powers can be used to reclaim Wall Maria. In the middle of the trial Eren loses his temper, prompting Levi to beat him in front of everyone to prove that he can be controlled. Seizing the opportunity, Erwin promises that he will station Eren under Levi if he is allowed to join the scouts, ensuring that he will be kept under control. Additionally, to keep Walls' civilians calm, he agrees to hand Eren over to the Military Police if the boy proves to be a failure on his first scouting mission. Satisfied with Erwin's proposal, Zachary hands Eren over to the scouts.
After the trial Erwin and some of his officers meet with Eren privately. Erwin apologizes to Eren for Levi's treatment of him before commending him for unwittingly giving them the perfect argument to convince the military to turn him over to the Scouts, formally welcoming him to the Scout Regiment.
After the death of the Titan research subjects, Beane and Sawney, he tests everyone in the Scout Regiment by asking them a direct, but confusing question to gauge their reactions. When this turns everyone innocent, he begins planning the next expedition to capture the spy, guessing they have abilities similar to Eren and are intent on sabotaging the expedition.
Erwin later appears at the recruitment drive where the 104th Cadet Corps choose their path. He makes an impassioned plea that the Scout Regiment and Eren represent the hope of humanity, although he is very realistic in telling them that a sizable number of them will die. His speech and other factors succeed in recruiting every remaining member of the top 10 graduates except Annie, who joins the Military Police Brigade.
Erwin leads the 57th expedition out of Calaneth District on a mission to reach Shiganshina District and potentially uncover the secret of Eren's basement. Shortly after the Scout Regiment reaches open territory outside Wall Rose, he orders them into a Long-Range Scouting Formation.
Despite the decimation of the formation's right flank by an abnormal Titan, Erwin continues the operation to the surprise of his soldiers. He directs them to a forest of giant trees where the central column containing the carts and the Special Operations Squad are to follow him inside, while the rest of the formation surrounds the forest perimeter to prevent the entry of any additional Titans. Understanding that the abnormal Titan destroying his ranks is intelligent, Erwin plans to deal with it inside.
The Special Operations Squad leads the Female Titan into Erwin's trap, where he orders the firing of the special target restraining weapon. This allows the Scout Regiment to successfully capture it. When Levi and Miche try to cut through the Female Titan's hands to the nape, Erwin notes that it can selectively harden its body, similar to what he has heard about the Armored Titan. He decides the Scouts do not have enough time to see if the Titan will weaken under repeated assaults and calls Keiji over to prepare explosives to blow off the Female Titan's hands at the wrists to avoid killing the person inside.
Before that can happen, the Female Titan screams and Miche alerts Erwin to multiple Titans approaching from all directions. Erwin sends the cart team to intercept the first wave of Titans, but they ignore the soldiers and break through. He realizes that they are after the Female Titan and orders the Scouts to defend it. However, they are overwhelmed and unable to keep up. The Female Titan is torn to pieces and Erwin calls his soldiers to retreat. They are going back to Calaneth.
As Erwin watches the Titans devour what remains of the Female Titan, he admits to Levi that he did not expect their enemy would be willing to sacrifice themselves. The steam emitting from the remains of the Female Titan causes him to think of the Colossal Titan, which had also vanished in a cloud of steam. Before Levi can call back his team, Erwin tells him to refill his gas and blades.
Hange questions the order while they ride out of the forest, because they cannot spare the time, and Erwin explains that though the Female Titan has been eaten, he can not say the same for the person inside. He expects that their enemy has regained human form and is now able to move around. If they also equipped omni-directional mobility gear then they are likely wearing the Scout Regiment uniform and are camouflaged as a fellow soldier. Erwin thinks it was a mistake to have based their assumption of the Female Titan's abilities on Eren, who is a complete novice when it comes to his power.
On the way back to Calaneth, Erwin receives a report from Peer on the number of deceased soldiers whose bodies the regiment was unable to retrieve. Erwin orders that they be listed as missing in action, prompting objections from two soldiers named Dieter and Jurgen. Unconcerned with their protests, Erwin refuses to send anyone to recover the missing bodies.
The regiment resumes its return to Calaneth, but is soon attacked by Titans, who Dieter and Jurgen have accidentally attracted while trying to recover their friend's body. With no nearby trees or buildings to utilize with their ODM gear, Erwin has the formation race for the Walls rather than attempt to engage. He leads the Scouts back into Calaneth where they are greeted by grumbles of wasted taxes and demands for justification for the number of dead. Because of the expedition's failure, Erwin is summoned to the capital to hand over Eren.
Before they depart for the capital, Armin shares his suspicion with Erwin that Annie Leonhart is the Female Titan. Planning to capture her when they pass through Stohess District en route to the Capital, Erwin has Jean Kirschtein masquerade as Eren, while Eren, Armin and Mikasa lure Annie into a trap.
When their plan forces Annie to transform in the middle of Stohess, Erwin informs Nile Dawk to prepare his troops, and to assume that a Titan has appeared inside of the district. He then instructs Jean, who has shed his disguise, to equip ODM gear and help with the capture. A Scout soldier arrives with ODM gear for Erwin himself, and as he equips it, Erwin orders all soldiers present to follow him to assist in the Titan's capture. However, he is stopped at gunpoint by Nile, who accuses Erwin of treason.
As the two men stand off, Nile receives a report of civilian casualties caused by the combat, angering him further. Erwin freely admits that he expected casualties to arise from his plans, explaining that he was prepared to make sacrifices to lead humanity to victory. Nile threatens to execute Erwin for his actions, but Erwin tells him that if he does, then he will have to take Erwin's place in leading the capture operation. Swayed by Erwin's words, Nile orders that Erwin be detained, before ordering his own troops to begin aiding evacuating civilians.
After civilians have been evacuated, Erwin accompanies Nile's squad as they go to observe the end of Eren and Annie's battle at the edge of the district. Although the others take cover from debris from the battle, Erwin elects to watch the entire capture to its end.
She is eventually apprehended and Erwin goes into an emergency meeting held to sort out the day's events. He manages to convince the council that despite the expedition failure and subsequent death of some civilians in the inner city, they finally catch the Female Titan successfully and this indicates that there must be more of her kind hiding among them.
In Stohess District, Erwin takes a report from his aides that the Scouts have covered the newly discovered Wall Titan with sheets until more proper measures can be taken after sunset. One of them says that he never imagined there would be Titans inside the Walls, and Erwin concludes it is not that no one imagined they would be there, so much as there are people who knew and people who did not.
When Tomas arrives with news of the Wall Rose invasion, Erwin asks if Levi is able to go, and the latter says there is not much choice. Though it is now night time, Erwin leads the Scout Regiment out of Stohess and they ride to Ehrmich District, since they know the Walls are safe at least up until that point.
By the next day Erwin's forces are in Trost District where he meets up with Dot Pyxis. Pyxis congratulates him for finding one of their "mice" even though the plan did not succeed as well as hoped. Now those in the interior will reconsider their motives and beliefs. Erwin says they have. The Military Police have been forced to come out and help fight against the Titans.
Erwin is present when Phil reports to Pyxis about having met up with Hange's unit on top of Wall Rose. He hears that an additional three cadets of the 104th can change into Titans and asks what happened when their forms were revealed. Phil tells him the Scouts engaged the Colossal and Armored Titans, but the battle was over by the time Phil's unit was able to join.
The combined military force rides along the top of Wall Rose and when they meet up with Hange's unit, Erwin has them deploy the lifts to carry the horses down to the ground on the outside of the Wall. Though badly injured, Hange gets a map and shows Erwin where a Forest of Giant Trees is. Hange suspects Reiner and Bertholdt have gone there, explaining that even though they can change into Titans, they are probably exhausted and will need to rest somewhere ordinary Titans are not able to reach them before making a run for the outside of Wall Maria. The Scout Regiment will only have until nightfall when other Titans cannot move.
Erwin leads the combined military force into a long-range scouting formation as they head for the forest. When Titans begin to approach from the right flank, Erwin has the formation pull in on that side rather than change direction as they cannot afford to lose any time. As Titans continue to approach, Erwin tries to maneuver the formation, but they end up being hemmed in on both sides as well as ahead of them. Deciding that it would take too much time to make a detour, Erwin orders the soldiers to force their way through.
They arrive as the sun is setting and when they see the light from a Titan transformation inside the forest Erwin notes that they have arrived in time. He has the soldiers disperse to locate and recover the kidnapped Eren. Their priority is to recover and retreat, not to fight the numerous Titans swarming around them.
Erwin spots the Armored Titan escaping at the edge of the forest and calls for all squads to follow him and let the Titans chase after them. He leads the military straight at Reiner, with all the Titans on their collective tail. Knowing that the Titans will be just as happy to attack the Armored Titan, he shouts for all soldiers to disperse and get away, leaving Reiner to deal with the brunt of the Titan attention.
Once Reiner is immobilized beneath the weight of all the other Titans, Erwin calls for the soldiers to attack, because they must recover Eren if humanity is to have a future. As he leads the charge, a Titan unexpectedly appears in their midst, catching his arm in its mouth. Erwin shouts for the soldiers to continue their advance as it carries him away.
He returns to the battle as Armin is baiting Bertholdt and Reiner into losing control, and takes the opportunity to cut Eren free of Bertholdt as well as severing one of Bertholdt's ODM grappling lines. Erwin's right arm is now cut off just below the shoulder and bandaged with a makeshift tourniquet. With Eren retrieved, Erwin bellows for all soldiers to retreat.
Reiner begins throwing Titans at the fleeing soldiers and Erwin is knocked from his horse as Ymir takes out the Titan chasing him. When a Scout tries to help him, Erwin insists that he is replaceable. Retreating with Eren is their top priority. The battle turns against the military as the soldiers are hemmed in and the Armored Titan recovers enough strength to begin moving again.
While trying to protect Mikasa, Eren strikes the Titan attacking them. This triggers something and causes all the other mindless Titans present to tear it apart. The Titans then go and attack Reiner and Bertholdt as well. Seeing the opportunity for escape, Erwin shouts for the soldiers to withdraw.
Following the battle, Erwin recovers in Trost Distict and Hange brings Conny to his room so he can confirm the discoveries made in Ragako Village. They do not have proof yet, but Hange hypothesizes that the Titans fought within Wall Rose were the inhabitants of Ragako.
Levi notices Erwin smiling, despite the implications, and asks what is he smiling for. Erwin initially says it is nothing, but elaborates that this knowledge brings them one step closer to the truth.
Once recovered, Erwin begins researching Christa Lenz's connection to the Reiss family, and learns that Historia is the illegitimate daughter of noble Rod Reiss. The revelation only serves to leave him befuddled as to why a regional lord such as Rod would know any secrets about the Walls. He informs Levi of this during a meeting, during which Levi also updates Erwin on how Hange's experiments on Eren's Titan are going.
After the government declares a hold on all Scout Regiment activity, Erwin sends word to Squad Levi of the development. As his messenger is departing, Nile Dawk arrives to personally detain Erwin and relieve him of his belongings. Once Nile has finished, Erwin invites Nile to chat with him for a while, a proposition which Nile refuses. Erwin muses about their past together and voices his distrust of the government in securing the future of humanity, to Nile's horror. After Nile leaves, Hange and Mobilt approach Erwin with the news of Eren and Historia's capture by the Military Police and her suspicion that Eren might get eaten.
Suspecting will soon have all of the information he needs, Erwin sends Dot Pyxis a letter, informing the commander that he plans to orchestrate a rebellion against the royal government. Pyxis visits Erwin immediately to confirm Erwin's intentions. Erwin reassures Pyxis that, depending on whether his suspicions are correct, they will be able to take power peaceably, rather than by force. As he waits for confirmation of his theory, Erwin tells Pyxis the story of how his father died.
As Erwin finishes his story, Hange and Moblit arrive with the information they gained from Djel Sannes. Erwin informs Pyxis that the Reiss family is the true royal family, and that Historia is the next in line for the throne. He plans on rescuing her, then publicly installing her as queen, in order to force a regime change.
Pyxis agrees to support Erwin's plan and departs. As Pyxis leaves, Erwin turns over all of the information he could gather on the Reiss family to Hange. As he is doing so, a Scout arrives and informs Erwin that the First Interior Squad is making a ruckus out in the city, saying that Erwin organized a murder. Erwin orders Hange to get away from here while he acts as the face of their organization. He informs Hange that they will be the next commander of the Scout Regiment and places the Scouts under their command.
As he arrives at the scene of the crime, one of the MPs accuses the Scouts of hiring Reeves to stage a kidnapping of Eren so that the Scouts would not have to turn him over to the government, and killing Reeves afterward to keep him from talking. The MP charges Erwin and the Scouts with a violation of clause six of the Humanity Charter; prioritizing one's gain over the safety and longevity of humanity. For this, Erwin and all of the Scouts in the city are arrested.
After he has been arrested, Erwin is visited by Gerald, a military official in King Fritz's royal assembly. Gerald apologizes for keeping Erwin waiting, and proceeds to interrogate him. Though he is badly beaten during the questioning, Erwin does not reveal any information to his captors.
He is later visited by Nile, who informs him that he has been granted an audience with the king, during which his fate and the fate of the Scout Regiment will be decided. However, Erwin ignores this dour news and instead asks Nile about his family, and what section of the Walls they live in. Nile is confused by the question, and Erwin explains that he has entrusted something to Commander Pyxis, cryptically stating that "when the time comes," Nile and the assembly will be forced to make a decision.
Erwin is escorted to the royal throne room, where he is to stand trial. As he arrives, one of the nobles asks if he has any final words for them. Erwin begins his defense by arguing for the survival of the Scout Regiment. He argues that, should Wall Rose be breached by the Colossal Titan the way Wall Maria was, the subsequent evacuation of citizens to Wall Sina and the food shortages it would cause would lead to civil war within the Walls over resources. He also reminds them of the constant food shortages plaguing Rose, and argues that the only way to stop said shortages is for the Scouts to reclaim Wall Maria.
The nobles ignore his arguments, and deflect his requests for alternative solutions to his suggestions, and after conferring announce that Erwin will be sentenced to death for breaking the Charter of Humanity. Despite his grim predicament, Erwin smiles upon hearing the verdict, and as he is being escorted from the room, looks to Nile to observe his reaction. Anka bursts in and announces that the Colossal Titan and Armored Titan have breached Wall Rose. Refugees are already on their way to Wall Sina. Pyxis reacts immediately, calling for soldiers to secure an evacuation route, which causes the officials in the room to reveal their true colors.
They give the order to shut the gates to Wall Sina, sacrificing half of humanity, and Nile, appalled, chooses to stand with the Scouts and the Garrison in helping the refugees. On the heels of Nile's decision to side with Erwin, Premier Zachary arrives with a group of armed soldiers and announces that the attack was just a fabrication. The announcement was a test by Pyxis to see if the aristocracy is worthy of ruling of the human race. Now all heads of the military are against them, and thanks to a report by the Berg Newspapers, the civilians are as well. Erwin's coup has succeeded. However, Erwin does not celebrate. As he is released from his shackles, Erwin points out to Nile that the path they have chosen for humanity is much more dangerous than the one they were previously on.
After the proclamation that the military has seized control of the capital, Erwin departs in a carriage with Zachary. He expresses second thoughts about having deposed the monarchy. Regardless of their corruption and selfishness, humanity had survived this long under their guardianship. Zachary tells him that he threw his lot in with the coup because of an intense desire to humiliate the king and his men, and he had planned to eventually give it a try with or without Erwin. The revolution is irrelevant to Zachary, and he shrewdly points out that it is the same for Erwin. Erwin planned the coup, despite his misgivings, and contacted Pyxis because he was selfish and willing to put himself over the fate of humanity. After a moment's thought, Erwin admits that his reason is for a childhood dream.
Later that evening, Pyxis informs Erwin that all of the captured nobles are saying the same thing: that the king has the ability to manipulate the memories of the populace, and will be able to destroy the military's coup in one fell swoop if they do not rescue Eren. Pyxis unhappily tells Erwin that he is not interested in gambling with humanity's fate like Erwin is, admitting that if the government had behaved in a way that indicated they had humanity's interests in mind, he would have stood with them against the coup. As Pyxis unhappily muses on how long it will take for humans to stop fighting each other, Erwin receives a report that the Scouts are ready to move out and rescue Eren. He orders his soldiers to depart for the Reiss chapel to rescue Historia and Eren, pausing only to tell Pyxis that humans will continue to fight each other until there is only one left alive.
On the way to the Underground Chapel, Erwin and the Scout Regiment encounter a giant Titan crawling face down on the ground. It is hot enough to ignite trees around it, and Erwin orders his soldiers to get back and evacuate any nearby civilians. One of the Scouts reports that Squad Levi is nearby, having successfully rescued Eren and Historia. Erwin rides over to them and finds out that only Hange is hurt, and not too badly.
Levi informs Erwin that the giant Titan is Rod Reiss, and the Scouts fall back to Orvud District. In a meeting to discuss a plan for defeating the Titan, Erwin announces that they will not be evacuating the civilians, to the horror of the district's soldiers. Carsten is enraged by the plan, but Erwin and Hange explain that Rod is being attracted to the district by its larger population, and that they will need to take advantage of that fact to draw him in close enough to fire on him the Wall's artillery. In order to appease Carsten, Erwin suggests conducting a mock evacuation drill to rouse the district's citizens, so that they will be ready to evacuate in the event that the Titan is not stopped, which Carsten agrees to.
The Titan arrives at dawn and the opening cannon volley by the Garrison does little to slow Rod despite being the best effort Orvud could scrape together, but Erwin still has a strategy. Hange brings out barrels of gunpowder, ropes, and net to form a blunt weapon, like stuffing a sock full of rocks, and Moblit wheels out a barrel of gunpowder strapped to a cart and modified with ODM gear to reel itself into its target.
Finding Historia among the soldiers present, Erwin expresses his concern for her being on the front lines, since she will become queen if they survive. Undeterred, Historia asks if he thinks people are naive enough to follow someone who is a ruler only in name. She has her own mission she intends to carry out. Erwin disapproves, but admits that due to his missing arm he cannot stop her.
The Titan reaches the Wall, and Levi's squad manages to blow its head apart using explosives that Eren's Titan is carrying. As large chunks of the Titan fly into the air and Erwin calls for his soldiers to finish it off, since the Titan will regenerate if the nape is not destroyed.
Erwin later attends Historia's coronation, joining the other heads of the military in bowing to her in front of the populace as she is crowned.
Erwin, Pyxis, Hange, Levi and Zachary have a private meeting to discuss the injection that Kenny gave Levi. Hange explains that analyzing it is impossible because the fluid evaporates in contact with air. Pyxis then decides that it must be used for the purpose it was made for, to allow a human to become a Titan and then take the power of the Titans. Erwin decides to entrust the vial to Levi because he is their strongest soldier with the highest chance of survival. Levi will have the freedom to use it based on his judgment of the situation.
In the Trost District, the Scout Regiment's head members are having a meeting about Keith Sadies's revelation. Erwin listens as Hange explains that Grisha Jaeger had the power of the Titans from outside the Walls. They discuss why Grisha did not speak of the information he had to the Scout Regiment but also committed the killing of the Reiss family the day Wall Maria fell. They theorize about what may be hidden in the basement of Grisha's house as Erwin suggests that it may be the memories of the world that the Reiss family tried to erase.
Erwin then announces that the operation to retake Wall Maria is ready and will commence in two days. When the meeting ends, Levi closes the door behind the other members and begins to persuade Erwin, with the threat of breaking his legs, to stay behind in Trost District due to the fact that his missing arm would make him "Titan food," especially on the front lines. However, Erwin confesses that seeing what is in the basement is more important to him than living and that he must be there to see this moment for humanity. After hearing this, Levi gives up and realizes that he will unfortunately not be able to change the Commander's mind.
The day of the operation, all soldiers are ready at dawn. Erwin and other high-ranking soldiers salute to members of the other branches and head to the Wall. However, the soldiers are surprised after seeing that the civilians know about the operation's goals and start to cheer for them. Erwin, seeing the best sends off the Scout Regiment has ever received, cheers a loud scream back at them as he raises his one arm into the air, leaving his subordinates surprised for this unusual reaction. He then orders the start of the operation, and the members of the Scout Regiment start their path towards Shiganshina District as Erwin leads them, yelling for them to once again, advance.
Upon arriving in Shiganshina, Erwin commands the scouts to switch to ODM gear and rush the gate, as he himself also switches to it. Erwin is aware that their enemies know about the operation to seal the Wall and investigate the basement, so he has 100 soldiers covered by their hoods rush the gate so that the enemy will be unable to know which soldier is Eren until he has sealed the gate. The scouts are wary of the complete lack of Titans in the area, but they choose to continue with the mission anyway, aware that they are playing into the enemies' hands. The Scouts stand by and prepare for the closing of the Wall as Eren flies up above the gate and prepares to transform. As he is waiting, Armin alerts Erwin to evidence that people have been camping atop the wall recently, and he orders the boy to investigate.
Erwin continues to survey the mission's progress after Eren has successfully sealed the hole in the wall. Dirk wearily notes that the enemy has not attacked them yet, suggesting that they might be overwhelmed by the scouts' numbers, though Erwin is unconvinced. Armin interrupts their conversation to inform them that he found evidence of a third person camping in Shiganshina in addition to Reiner and Bertholdt, and he and Erwin both deduce that the fact that the Warriors were able to dismantle their campsite before the scouts arrived indicates a fourth assailant who was acting as a lookout. Erwin gives Armin authority over a team of soldiers so that he can search for where their enemies have hidden themselves. Dirk is uncertain about Erwin's decision but Erwin is confident that Armin will be able to find the enemy.
Armin has the idea to search the wall itself for hollow points where the Warriors could hide inside of it, and although the scouts balk at the idea, Erwin orders them to obey. Armin's hunch turns out to be correct, and Reiner is uncovered inside the wall. As Reiner transforms into his Titan form, the Beast Titan appears along with a horde of other Titans from beyond the northern gate. The Beast Titan throws a rock which destroys Shiganshina's inner gate, and Erwin realizes with frustration that the Titan has trapped the scouts' horses outside, making escape into the district impossible. With no means of escape, Erwin declares to his soldiers that only one side is going to survive the ensuing battle; either humans, or the Titans.
As Reiner begins climbing the wall, Erwin orders the scouts to avoid engaging with him. As he surveys the Beast Titan's forces, Erwin notices a quadrupedal Titan carrying luggage on its back and theorizes that it was the scout that warned the other Warriors of the scouts' arrival.
When the Beast Titan's forces begin attacking, Erwin predicts that they will attack the Scouts' horses next in order to completely remove any option of retreat. Erwin orders Dirk, Marlene, and their squads to join with Klaus Squad in protecting the horses north of the district, Hange and Levi's squads to engage the Armored Titan, and orders Levi to attack the Beast Titan directly and kill it. Erwin also has the idea to use Eren as bait to lure Reiner away from the scouts' horses, and orders Armin to relay the plan to Hange.
As he observes the battle from atop Wall Maria, Erwin notes the scouts' lack of manpower, prompting him to reflect on the lives lost under his command, being sent to their deaths for his own ambitions of proving his father's theories of the outside world right. Although he feels some guilt, Erwin quickly turns his attention towards Eren's basement and beings trying to work out a way to reach it even if the Scouts' are defeated in battle.
When the Beast Titan begins assaulting the Scout Regiment to the north with a barrage of stones and boulders, Erwin orders their retreat and joins with them at the base of the Wall. Erwin informs Levi of their desperate situation, having lost many of their soldiers as well as their advantage in the battle. As the new recruits descend into a panic, Levi asks the Commander if he has any more ideas. Seeing the inevitable defeat of the Scout Regiment, Erwin begins to grieve over the failure of his attempts to learn the truth of the world. He thinks back on the many soldiers that died for the sake of humanity. Levi decides to make the choice of action on Erwin's behalf: Erwin must give up on his dreams and die with the recruits while Levi battles the Beast Titan. Despite his dreams coming to a bitter end, Erwin is relieved.
Standing before the panicked recruits, Erwin announces their plan to charge head-on against the Beast Titan using smoke signals as cover while Levi moves in from the side to confront him, using the line of Titans as a means of clearing the distance. The recruits are distraught at the plan, asking if it is even worth the effort if they will die anyway. Erwin admits that the decisions of the recruits to fight or abandon their duties are meaningless, but the lives of the soldiers who will die are not without meaning. He declares that it is the duty of the living to give meaning to the dead, and that they must carry out their duty in a way that the living will give their own deaths meaning.
The recruits agree to ride forth to their deaths. Using smoke signals as cover, they charge the Beast Titan head-on with battle cries. Charging into the fray, Erwin urges the soldiers to let their blood boil, to let their voices be heard, and fight. Erwin is struck in the hip by a flying stone at the front of the charge and falls off of his horse, while the remaining recruits carry on the charge.
Erwin manages to survive the hit, but is left unconscious and mortally wounded. He is found by Floch, who carries him back to Shiganshina District.
Upon arriving, the realization that Erwin is still alive causes a conflict between the remaining soldiers, who are divided on whether to save him or Armin with the only Titan injection that they have. After a scuffle with Eren and Mikasa, Levi is about to give Erwin the serum when he remembers Erwin's desire to give up his dreams and die with the recruits killed earlier. Levi gives Armin the serum instead, allows him to eat Bertholdt, and tells Erwin that there will be a delay in his promise to kill the Beast Titan, as Erwin dies peacefully.
After he wakes up fully healed, Armin learns that Erwin died so that he could live. Levi explains that it was ultimately him that chose to save Armin. When all is said and done, Erwin's body is laid to rest in an abandoned house with his cloak draped over his body and flowers set next to the bed where he lays.
- Levi Ackermann - The two had a mutual trust and respect for each other's skills. He willingly followed Erwin's command, though that did not keep him from speaking his mind.
- Nile Dawk - Erwin and Nile were in the same Cadet Corps class and had intended to join the Scout Regiment together, but parted ways when Nile fell in love with Marie and chose to join the Military Police instead. Their relationship was strained, though Erwin trusted Nile enough to give him a warning before the coup.
- Hange Zoë - Erwin greatly valued Hange's intellect and leadership ability. In his absence, he named Hange acting commander of the Scout Regiment.
- Miche Zacharius - Erwin and Miche had a deep mutual trust due to their lengthy time in service together, as well as respect for one another's skills as soldiers. Most of the time he was Erwin's right-hand man, and loyally followed his every command; despite their closeness and long time together, Miche still found Erwin difficult to read.
- Keith Sadies - Erwin respected his fellow soldier and former commander, Keith, despite the many losses that were sustained under his command. Keith shared this respect and after resigning his post, would personally select Erwin to be his successor as Commander in the Scout Regiment.
- Armin Arlelt - Erwin seemed to recognize Armin's potential as a strategist and had started entrusting him with commanding roles and making decisions in the Scout Regiment. When Armin learned Erwin had to die so he could live, Armin was shocked at the revelation.
- Erwin's motif is based on Adrian Alexander Veidt/Ozymandias, a character from Watchmen.
- According to Hajime Isayama, Erwin is single because he is not certain when he will die.
- Isayama revealed his nickname as a child was "Eyebrow."
- Erwin is one of eight characters to have his own character song. The others being Armin, Bertholdt, Eren, Jean, Levi, Mikasa and Reiner. Erwin's song is called Hope Of Mankind.
- He is likely named after Erwin Rommel, a general of Nazi Germany during the Second World War.
- Since Erwin lost his right arm, he saluted with his left arm, which is considered to be an incorrect way of saluting.