Attack on Titan: The Best Battles So Far

Before Attack on Titan finishes its story, relive its most thrilling and terrifying moments of titan action.

Armored Titan v. Attack Titan
Photo: Crunchyroll

This article contains spoilers for Attack on Titan through season 4 part 2.

If you feel like the final episodes of Attack on Titan can’t arrive fast enough, you can always revisit the show’s most exhilarating and soul-crushing battles from the first three seasons. And since you are now equipped with the knowledge of who’s who and why they’re doing what they’re doing, these early conflicts can be seen in a whole new light.

If you’re not trying to rewatch the series from start to finish, you can use this handy fight guide to pick an action-packed episode to drop in, no matter where you’re streaming it. Plus, if you can’t make sense of the action, the writeups here will give you all the context and commentary you need.

Attack on Titan is available on Netflix, Hulu, and Crunchyroll. While Netflix is the best place to watch they unfortunately are only streaming the first 25 episodes. If you want to dive into Seasons 2-4, you’ll have to mosey over to Hulu, who have subs and dubs, or Crunchyroll, with just subs. Unfortunately, the episodes on Hulu have sporadic moments where a scene fades to black, unnecessarily disrupting the story’s flow, so Crunchyroll is the best option.

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1. Marley’s Warriors Assault Wall Maria

Runtime: About 40 minutes
Best Place to Stream: Netflix
Netflix’s Season and Episode: Season 1, Episodes 1-2
Hulu’s Season and Episode: Season 1, Episodes 1-2
Crunchyroll’s Season and Episode: Season 1, Episodes 1-2

The brutal invasion of Shiganshina establishes just what kind of series Attack on Titan wants to be. The ordinary folks living inside Wall Maria are subjected to unspeakable terror when the mindless, giant-like Titans flood into their hometown, wrecking every building in their path and eating every human they find. Our main character Eren, who is just barely a boy, manages to make it out alive, but is forever changed. He resolves to exterminate the Titans and sets off on a long and painful journey to fix the world.

Of course, now we know it wasn’t as simple as that. The attack was deliberate, coordinated by warriors of a foreign state, who used their ability to shift into Titans to breach the wall. Their mission was to use the destruction as cover to steal the power held by the Eldian king. But even that explanation is a simplification of the truth. As the series progresses, Eren struggles to understand the entirety of what transpired that day.

2. The Struggle for Trost

Runtime: About 40 minutes
Best Place to Stream: Netflix
Netflix’s Season and Episode: Season 1, Episodes 7-8
Hulu’s Season and Episode: Season 1, Episodes 7-8
Crunchyroll’s Season and Episode: Season 1, Episodes 7-8

Disaster strikes after a lengthy training sequence that sees Eren steel his resolve and forge precious bonds with his fellow cadets. Their mettle is put to the test when the Armor and Colossus Titans suddenly reappear and wreak havoc yet again. The only thing crazier than watching Eren selflessly fling himself into the mouth of a Titan to save Armin is when the Titan gulps Eren down. For many fans, this was the moment where they realized that anyone could die and anything could happen. 

After Eren’s apparent death, the conflict rages on with humanity seemingly at the end of its rope until Eren reappears as the Attack Titan for the first time. With this stunning reveal, Eren’s quest for revenge is eclipsed by the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of why the world around them is the way it is. The question of why Eren can shift into a Titan drives much of the story’s narrative, but knowing the answer from the get-go makes it all the more tragic.

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3. The 57th Exterior Scouting Mission

Runtime: About 2 hours
Best Place to Stream: Netflix
Netflix’s Season and Episode: Season 1, Episodes 17-22
Hulu’s Season and Episode: Season 1, Episodes 17-22
Crunchyroll’s Season and Episode: Season 1, Episodes 17-22

On paper, the Scout Regiment’s 57th Exterior Scouting Mission was not that out of the ordinary. They planned to make their way through the Titan-infested area within Wall Maria to plot a course directly to Eren’s basement, which held his father’s research on the Titans. Far from the chaotic urban assaults seen up to this point, the Scouts continue in a highly disciplined military unit led by a brilliant commander, Erwin Smith. 

As our heroes ride on, their deliberate formation is explained in great detail, ostensibly to help us at home make sense of the fight. But the appearance of yet another intelligent Titan brutally upends the mission. In addition to the heart-pounding human-against-Titan action, this face-off establishes the series’ propensity to stage complex battles grounded in military tactics.

4. Capturing the Female Titan

Runtime: About 40 minutes 
Best Place to Stream: Netflix
Netflix’s Season and Episode: Season 1, Episodes 24-25
Hulu’s Season and Episode: Season 1, Episodes 24-25
Crunchyroll’s Season and Episode: Season 1, Episodes 24-25

After failing to capture the Female Titan, Eren and company find themselves in the Stohess District hoping to take in their prime suspect peacefully before they shift. It’s a risky ploy that puts the lives of everyday people at risk of being crushed during a catastrophic Titan-on-Titan brawl. The plan immediately falls into a worst-case scenario when Annie refuses to go peacefully. The planning on display is impressive and it is thrilling to watch Eren hold his own against a major foe.

While the battle ends in the Scouts’ victory, Annie’s last-minute decision to encase herself in an impenetrable crystal is a disappointing one. It cuts the characters and the readers off from desperately needed answers to basic questions Annie could have provided. But armed with knowledge of what’s to come, it’s easier to enjoy the fight and appreciate how committed the warriors of Marley are to keeping the Scouts in the dark. 

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5. The Battle to Survive Utgard Castle

Runtime: About 1 hour
Best Place to Stream: Crunchyroll
Hulu’s Season and Episode: Season 2, Episodes 3-5
Crunchyroll’s Season and Episode: Season 2, Episodes 28-30

By the second season, the characters are well acquainted with the ins and outs of Titan-on-Titan warfare and the viewers knew what level of despair to expect from its fights. So in an interesting turn of events, the group of familiar faces investigating a reported breach in Wall Rose does not include Eren. 

The Scouts find themselves without equipment, but aren’t very concerned as they can’t find any evidence of a breach. They camp out in an old castle, but when they discover Titans in the building, the group is plunged into a fight for their lives. Without the power of a Titan to rely on, they cobble together weapons from their surroundings, but are woefully outmatched. After suffering major losses, they are just barely holding out. It’s a surreal reminder that death is always lurking around the corner.

Until, of course, Ymir dives off the roof and transforms into a Titan, beating back the swarm of enemies. Someone’s always a Titan! Even with Ymir joining the fray as a Titan, things don’t look good until Eren and company arrive to swiftly put down the attacking Titans.

6. The Colossal and Armored Titans Kidnap Eren

Runtime: About 40 minutes
Best Place to Stream: Crunchyroll
Hulu’s Season and Episode: Season 2, Episodes 6-7
Crunchyroll’s Season and Episode: Season 2, Episodes 31-32

Seemingly shaken by his near-death experience at Castle Utgard, Reiner makes a sudden confession to Eren. He is the Armored Titan and Bertolt is the Colossus Titan. Someone’s always a Titan! The Scouts are caught off guard by the sudden attack and doubly off guard by the revelation that two of their closest comrades were responsible for the atrocities that catapulted them into their lives of misery and hopeless despair.

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There is so much anticipation for this very rematch and it came without almost no warning. There were no detailed plans inevitably going awry. No expert traps were laid and slyly avoided. It was just brought on by a traumatized and emotionally unstable boy’s inability to press on. The desperation is felt with every punch between Reiner and Eren’s Titans, but ultimately the Colossus Titan’s sheer mass squashes any hope of a fair fight. It’s a grim reminder that fighting in this world isn’t just brawling, it’s an affront to humanity.

7. The Interior Police Ambush the Scouts

Runtime: About 20 minutes
Best Place to Stream: Crunchyroll
Hulu’s Season and Episode: Season 3, Episode 2
Crunchyroll’s Season and Episode: Season 3, Episode 39

Once the Scouts uncover a little too much information, they find themselves at odds with their own government. They can’t unsee the Titan within the walls and their only lead, Pastor Nick, turns up dead after being tortured. The Scouts are painfully aware of their situation, but pull off a plan to outwit their would-be captors. Then the squad is ambushed by a group from the military outfitted with ODM gear and shotguns and heads start flying off. 

It’s a horrific, bloody assault that introduces a powerful new figure from Levi’s past, Kenny the Ripper, and inflicts a whole new level of emotional trauma on the Scouts. It had been one thing to see their loved ones and comrades torn apart by Titans, or to kill a Titan themselves, but they were wholly unprepared to take a fellow human’s life. Armin is particularly tormented by his actions until he finally understands that there is no limit to “kill or be killed.” 

8. The Scouts’ Rematch with the Interior Police

Runtime: About 20 minutes
Best Place to Stream: Crunchyroll
Hulu’s Season and Episode: Season 3, Episodes 6-7
Crunchyroll’s Season and Episode: Season 3, Episodes 43-44

Having survived the Anti-Personnel Control Squad’s surprise assault, the Scouts regroup to plan to retake Eren from the royal family. In the meantime, Historia is reunited with her father, the secret king of their country, and Eren wakes up all chained up in a crystalline cavern. While the Scouts and the military prepare to duke it out, Historia herself must be convinced to become a Titan, eat Eren, and return the Titan power to her royal bloodline. Someone’s always a Titan!

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The battle itself takes place near the entrance to the ritual site. Having resolved themselves to man-on-man combat, the Scouts devise a series of tactics that turns their opponents’ equipment against themselves. To no one’s delight, this time it’s the military being slaughtered, as they flail against the scouts’ high-flying strikes and diversionary smoke signal guns. While less traumatic than the earlier ambush, it is no less bloody or astounding.

9. The Battle to Retake Shiganshina

Runtime: About 1 hour and 20 minutes
Best Place to Stream: Crunchyroll
Hulu’s Season and Episode: Season 3, Episodes 14-17
Crunchyroll’s Season and Episode: Season 3, Episodes 51-54

So much of the series is about the pursuit of Eren’s basement that it began to seem like they wouldn’t ever reach it. Amazingly, once they finally make it there, the Scouts learn about the true nature of their world, and the twist is so good that it makes everything before it shamefully pointless. It’s an astounding twist and emotionally devastating for the Scouts. With this in mind, their final push to the basement is especially rewarding once you know what’s waiting for them. 

The Scouts face off against an unusually disciplined formation of Titans under the command of the Beast Titan, who is as intelligent as he is deadly. And while the Scouts are capable of fighting against all sorts of match-ups, this is their first time against an enemy who uses Titans as more than mere frontline foot soldiers. And they must also confront multiple surprises that unfold during the battle to reach the basement that will change their lives forever.

10. Marley’s Win Against the Mid-East Allied Forces

Runtime: About 20 minutes
Best Place to Stream: Crunchyroll
Hulu’s Season and Episode: Season 4, Episode 1 
Crunchyroll’s Season and Episode: Season 4, Episode 60

The surprise introduction of the next generation of Marley’s warriors happens in the midst of a war. It’s a hugely disorienting moment, because it doesn’t just introduce a new set of young kids fighting in a deadly conflict, it also throws us into the larger world that is almost completely unrecognizable to Eren and company. 

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It turns out that it’s been years since the retaking of Shiganshina and the battle unfolding is the direct result of the world’s view that Marley is weakened after suffering their catastrophic loss on Paradis. The conflict is disturbingly realistic, akin to the trench warfare and machine guns you’d see in a World War I movie, until a squad of unwilling and bound Eldians are dropped out of an airplane. As they fall, the Beast Titan transforms them into mindless Titans. And when they land it is Hell on earth. By adding the horrific fantasy elements we saw on Paradis, the horrors of a real-world war are multiplied. But if you are armed with the  knowledge of who’s who and what’s to come, you will at least find meaning in the gruesome scene.