Titans (巨人 Kyojin?, lit. "Giant(s)") were a species of giant, man-eating humanoids that served as the catalyst for the events in the Attack on Titan series. The people inside the Walls were taught that they first appeared 107 years prior to year 850 and rapidly exterminated humanity to the point of near-extinction. In reality, they were transformed humans known as Subjects of Ymir and had existed for nearly 2,000 years. However, after Eren Yeager's death and Ymir's decision to relinquish her power, all the Titans returned to their human forms, thereby rendering the species dormant.
Titans strongly resembled nude humans. They were typically bipedal, though a few were quadrupedal, with the limbs and features one would expect in humans; however, they were all deformed to some extent in body proportions (enlarged head, small limbs, etc.). The vast majority of Titans had exceptionally wide mouths with an array of entirely sharp (in certain instances), or entirely flat teeth (which was more common in most observed titans). The vast majority of Titans had a masculine body type, although all of them lack reproductive organs.
Unlike other species, Titans did not mate, and their interactions were nil with organisms other than humans; their sole purpose in life was to seek out and devour humans. They did not derive any real sustenance from humans either, as many of them did not taste human flesh for a century after the Walls were raised; but it did not affect their activity or decrease their numbers.
Some Titans did not react to pain, and all would move as long as there is sunlight. Titans did not possess a complete, functioning digestive tract; they merely had a stomach-like cavity that eventually filled up with what they swallow. After consuming a certain amount, they regurgitated the contents of the cavity before they continued eating more humans.
Most Titans showed no signs of intelligence and acted like mindless beasts—easy to trick, distract, and deceive. The Nine Titans were the exception: they had human level intellect due to being piloted by a human. However, some Abnormals were also able to sustain some of their former intelligence, such as Connie's mother and the Titan encountered by Ilse Langnar, both of which demonstrated the capacity to form thoughts and even communicate with humans.
All Titans were originally humans of a race of people called the Subjects of Ymir. Ymir Fritz was the first Titan, who became one after merging with a strange spine-like creature in a tree.Subjects of Ymir are all distantly related to her, connecting them to the paths which enables transformation.
Subjects of Ymir used to become Titans after being injected with Titan spinal fluid, triggering a near-instantaneous transformation. This used to be exploited by Marley after the Great Titan War, who turned undesirable Subjects of Ymir into Titans to use for war or at Paradis Island to roam aimlessly beyond the Walls. Titans oftentimes bore a strong resemblance to their original human bodies, though women who are turned into Titans lost most feminine body features.
Although the organic materials that made up the Titans' bodies appear to arise from nothing, they were said to be sent from invisible paths that transcend physical space. These paths connected all Subjects of Ymir to a single "Coordinate," the Founding Titan.
The Founding Titan could personally turn Subjects of Ymir into Titans. Karl Fritz created the Colossus Titans that make up the Walls this way. Due to his royal blood, Zeke Yeager could mimic this ability by screaming after administering his spinal fluid to his victims.
The body of Titans appeared to violate several known laws of science, spontaneously generating both energy and mass. Their bodies were incredibly light, granting them human levels of maneuverability. Their extremely high level of activity and body temperature indicates the need for a massive intake of energy to fuel them, yet they apparently never needed to eat at all, though most Titans killed their victims by appearing to do so. They possessed and use vocal organs, but they did not need to breathe for survival.
Titans drew their primary source of energy from the sun, as they became inactive when deprived of sunlight. The absence of sunlight affected individual Titans differently: during experimentation, the captured Titan "Sonny" became docile and nearly comatose after only an hour's deprivation, while fellow captive "Bean" maintained a high level of activity three hours after last seeing sunlight. However, this only applied for the Pure Titans; the Nine Titans did not need sunlight to move, and neither did Titans controlled by either Zeke Yeager's Beast Titan or, presumably, the Founding Titan.
Titans possessed incredible regenerative abilities. Although the capacity varied from Titan to Titan, all could regenerate lost body parts in a period of time ranging from seconds to minutes, even severed heads (unless the nape was severed with the head). One of the only sure-fire ways to kill them was by slicing an area one meter long and 10 centimeters wide on their nape. This was the location of the central nervous system of the Titan. In Pure Titans, it was only a spine of the human that was absorbed; but in the Nine Titans, it was an entire human body. Without a functioning nervous system to control it, the Titan would die. After death, Titan corpses rapidly evaporated to skeletal remains, then to nothing at all.
How Titans reacted to pain stimuli varied from one to another: some Titans completely ignored agonizing injuries, even impalement through the heart, and attacked nearby humans as normal. Others screamed or writhed, seemingly in agony. Humans with the power of the Titans did not feel pain if their Titan forms were damaged.
Around 2,000 years ago, a slave named Ymir discovered a large tree while fleeing from her masters, the Eldians. The tree had an entrance that led to a pit full of water. Unaware of the water, Ymir entered the tree and immediately fell into the pit. As she sank, a mysterious, spine-like entity attached itself to her back, and she transformed into the very first Titan. With her new power, she returned to the Eldians and served under Fritz, eventually bearing him three daughters. When Ymir died, Fritz ordered his daughters to eat Ymir to retain her power, an action that split Ymir's power among her daughters. Eventually, it split into nine—the Nine Titans—which Eldia used to conquer Marley and establish the Eldian Empire.
However, after 1,700 years, Karl Fritz inherited the Founding Titan and chose to abandon the conflicts of the mainland. In his absence, the Great Titan War began; and the chaos it caused allowed the Marleyans to rebel and take over the continent. The King and many Eldians fled to Paradis Island, where he used Colossus Titans to construct three Walls around his territory. In the years after, Marley would send undesirable citizens to Paradis Island as Pure Titans, doomed to wander the island.
Types of Titans
Titans were classified according to their size and abilities. The following is a list of various known Titans so far.
Pure Titans (無垢の巨人 Muku no Kyojin?)
|Ranging from 2 - 15 m in height, these Titans composed the vast majority of observed Titans. They all resembled humans but with varying levels of deformity. Their only common feature was their mindless nature. They mindlessly attacked nearby humans, making them easy to deceive. However, they were still dangerous due to their size, physical strength, and sheer numbers. They were often used as weapons of war, by Eldia in the past and Marley in the present.
Notable Titans of this type:
|Pure Titans that displayed abnormal behavior or intelligence were classed as Abnormal. Abnormals often ignored nearby humans and charge to more important locations where they could do more damage. The Colossus Titans found inside the Walls were unusually large, similar to the actual Colossus Titan, and had hardening abilities.
Notable Titans of this type:
The Nine Titans were fragments of Ymir's power. Humans who inherited them had the power of the Titans, which enabled them to transform into their inherited Titan at will, gaining its special abilities while retaining their human body and intelligence. A human with the power of the Titans had access to advanced Titan abilities, such as focusing regeneration to specific parts of the body to increase the healing rate.
Titans of this type:
- Despite their English name originating from the Titans of Greek mythology, the Titans of Attack on Titan are much more influenced by the jötnar of Norse mythology. Most notably, both the Titans and the jötnar originated from an ancient being by the name of "Ymir."
- Some Titans are modeled after friends and acquaintances of Hajime Isayama. Sometimes, he will even take requests.
- While most Titans had a masculine appearance, a few of them possessed feminine facial features, while still retaining their masculine body shape.
- Isayama revealed that his images of Titans were inspired by "Man-eating Mona Lisa" from Hell Teacher Nūbē series and dinosaurs from Jurassic Park series.