10. To You in 2000 Years: The Fall of Shiganshina, Part One – Season One, Episode One.
Attack on Titan has one of the greatest first episodes ever with “To You in 2000 Years.”
There is a lot of speculation about what this ambiguous title means, especially with recent events in the anime and manga, and I am sure that we will only get a full understanding of it once the series finally ends.
Aside from the interesting implications of the title, “To You in 2000 Years” also perfectly introduces the viewer to the series, giving them an idea of what to expect.
The episode has no big exposition dump and, yet, it brilliantly manages to inform the audience of its setting in its allocated runtime.
The chilling opening alone, tells us everything we need to know,, showing that humanity is hiding behind huge walls to escape from cannibalistic, naked giants, and use steampunk weaponry to fight them, only for a massive Titan to show up and destroy their temporary peace.
As the episode goes on, building up to this Colossal Titan’s arrival, anticipation and dread is grown in the viewer by the Titans only being referred to as “them.”
We are also introduced to our main trio of Eren, Mikasa and Armin, and get an idea of their personalities, and the first mention of the basement from Grisha.
Then everything goes to hell with the Colossal Titan’s arrival and destruction of the gate. In the final, horrifying moments, amplified by the music, we witness Eren’s desperate attempt and failure to save his mother as she eaten by the Smiling Titan right in front of him.
“To You in 2000 Years” perfectly sets the viewers up for what to expect when watching Attack on Titan; horrifying deaths, great action and music, and one amazing intro song in “Guren no Yumiya.”
9. Perfect Game – Season Three, Episode 16.
I am honestly surprised I have not mentioned any episode from Season Three Part Two yet.
It is my favourite arc of the series so far but I have not put any of its episodes on the list until now.
That said though, you can now expect to see a lot of them starting with “Perfect Game”, which is easily one of the most horrifying episodes of season three.
Largely featuring the attack from the Beast Titan, we are shown just how much of a threat he is with him throwing crushed rocks to rip the remaining members of the Survey Corps to shreds.
This moment is a clear case of the anime rising above the manga in terms of quality.
The shot where the rocks crash into the mini-town, blood shooting up from wherever they hit, followed by the agonized screams of Erwin’s soldiers is horrifying.
Speaking of Erwin, I would like to applaud his final piece of character development delivered in this episode.
Erwin has the perfect character arc.
At the beginning of the series we thought he was a soldier dedicated to saving humanity no matter what, only to learn in the Uprising Arc that he had selfish reasons for fighting, and this idea of a dedicated soldier he presented was a facade.
This brings us to “Perfect Game”, where Erwin throws away his selfish dream, giving up all hope of seeing the basement so he can die finally becoming what he always pretended to be: a soldier who puts humanity first.
I would not change Erwin’s character arc one bit.
As for the rest of the episode, it features Eren and the others’ attempted attack on Bertholdt’s Colossal Titan.
This is where my issue for the episode lies in its poor CGI for the Colossal Titan.
Otherwise, “Perfect Game” is an amazing episode, which shows off Erwin’s flawless character arc.
8. Scream – Season Two, Episode 12.
The season two finale “Scream” was the first time I was able to fully relate to Eren.
Prior to this, I found it impossible to do so due to how angsty he was.
“Scream” changed this by delivering an emotionally devastating scene for Eren that had me tearing up.
This scene was the death of Hannes and Eren’s gut wrenching reaction as he breaks down into a fit of hysteria, laughing, crying and shouting at the cruelness of the world.
Yuki Kaiji does a fantastic job in this moment, and I even heard he hurt his voice while performing it.
Then there is Mikasa, whose supportive words to Eren are moving, and work as the perfect resolution for the setup about her old scarf in the season one premiere “Beast Titan.”
Granted, I think this scene was made romantic when it actually was not supposed to be but it still works.
As for Hannes, his tragic character arc is perfectly done.
After living with the guilt of letting Eren’s mother die by the Smiling Titan in the series’ first episode, he finds the resolve to fight and redeem himself by attempting to kill that same Titan.
Sadly, it is not to be because Hannes is eaten right in front of Eren’s eyes in a mirroring of Carla’s death, prompting Eren’s traumatized reaction.
However, this does lead to Eren accessing the Founding Titan’s powers for the first time, a moment that becomes even more impactful after the events of season three.
Many other characters get to shine as well with Historia getting an awesome moment to the song “Barricades”, and Ymir deciding to go with Reiner and Bertholdt in what is unfortunately her last scene.
The final minutes of “Scream” gives us conformation that Titans have been humans the entire time, and also our first look at the Beast Titan’s user, Zeke.
This, combined with Erwin’s inspirational words of “this wall hiding the truth will fall”, gets the viewers hyped for season three.
“Scream” is an excellent season finale but not the best of Attack on Titan.
No, that award goes to…
7. The Other Side of the Wall – Season Three, Episode 22.
“The Other Side of the Wall” is the best season finale of Attack on Titan so far.
Rather than the action packed finales of “Wall”, and the previously mentioned “Scream”, “The Other Side of the Wall” is more of a representation of many of the characters’ personal journeys, and it works brilliantly.
The highlight is definitely the final scene where the Scouts finally reach the ocean after three seasons of build up.
While the reactions of characters like Mikasa, Levi, Hange, Jean and others make for some heart warming and funny moments, the standouts are the very different interpretations of the ocean between Armin and Eren.
Armin’s goal for a long time has been to see the ocean and, upon seeing it, he is overjoyed at reaching his dream and gains new hope.
Eren, however, shares no such optimism, fully realizing the danger he and his friends are in.
He points out that the enemy lies across the ocean and they will never be free until they kill them all, starting the first major point of contention between him and Armin, which will be expanded on in spectacular fashion in the final season.
Eren’s bleak outlook is hinted at throughout the episode, with him flashing back to the memory of his father’s decision to kill the Reiss family, and experiencing a memory of his father seeing his sister’s corpse.
This last one is particularly symbolic in a number of ways, with the censorship of water covering the body being used to foreshadow how the ocean does not represent freedom but death, like Eren comes to realise.
Along with this, we get the reactions of those inside the walls to the truth of their world and Floch’s speech, all of which works very well.
The highlight though is still the ocean scene with its beautiful animation and complex character development.
“The Other Side of the Wall” is the greatest finale of Attack on Titan yet because of this and its amazing use of symbolism and foreshadowing throughout.
6. Wish – Season Three, Episode Seven.
After the exposition dump episode “Sin”, with its explosive reveals and build up to an epic battle, the following episode “Wish” pays off this build up in spades.
It provides a perfect blend of more information, intense battles and fantastic character development.
This development is provided through the brilliant character arcs of Historia, Eren and Kenny, helped by the great jobs done by their voice actors Shiori Mikami, Yuki Kaji, and Kazuhiro Yamaji.
Historia’s decision not to follow in her family’s cycle of self destruction and going against her father for the first time is very inspirational.
Eren crying and telling Historia he never should have happened is a heart breaking moment.
And Kenny deciding to free Eren and just let things happen after his dream is crushed shows us exactly what kind of man he is.
All three of these arcs are fantastic and helped by the brilliant use of music, specifically the OSTs “Zero Eclipse” and “K21”.
“Zero Eclipse” is played when Historia decides to live for herself and, if you listen to the lyrics, it sounds like a love song from Ymir to Historia, almost as if Ymir is cheering her on from beyond the grave.
Then there is “K21”, played when Kenny fights Levi, where the rap lyrics actually state Kenny’s entire motivation; to see if he can become a better man by becoming the Founding Titan.
These OSTs make the scenes they are in a lot more powerful.
Along with this, the exposition is well handled and the action is exhilarating.
A one on one fight between Levi and Kenny, that is not in the manga, is wisely added here, adding more excitement.
Overall, “Wish” is a fantastic episode with great action and OSTs, but the feature that makes it so great is the characters’ amazing development.
5. Hero – Season Three, Episode 17.
Me putting “Hero” at number five probably comes as a surprise.
The reason I think this is because of how much the episode is applauded by fans.
It is both the highest rated Attack on Titan episode on IMDB and the highest rated episode on IMDB ever.
This fact may have caused some people to expect its placement at number one and not number five.
To be clear, I think that “Hero” is an almost flawless episode.
I just like the ones I ranked above it more because of what they did for the overall story.
“Hero” is an action driven episode but one that delivers what is, without a doubt in my mind, the best action in all of Attack on Titan.
Levi’s fight against Zeke is absolutely stunning.
It is well built up and the payoff is amazing with its animation, music and voice acting.
I really have to give props to Zeke’s voice actor Takehito Koyasu, who pulls off the agonized screams of the Beast Titan’s user in such a satisfying way.
The moment Zeke is saved by the Cart Titan is one brimming with despair, again due to the amazing music and voice acting.
Then there is the final battle of the episode, with Armin and Eren facing off against Bertholdt, and Mikasa, Jean, Connie, Sasha and Hange facing Reiner.
What follows is a devastating battle of sacrifice as Armin gives up his life to buy time for Eren, showing his conviction in saving humanity despite how it may cost him his dream of seeing the ocean.
Marina Inoue does an amazing job here as usual.
Back to the fight with Reiner, Hange’s return (minus one eye) is a cheer worthy moment that allows Mikasa to turn the tables on Reiner.
Accompanying both these epic moments is another great OST, “SymphonicSuite Part 2-2nd”, which lets the audience feel the full magnitude of what happens.
The following scene, which sees Eren take out the Colossal Titan thanks to Armin’s plan is a truly amazing moment, highlighted by the lack of music.
With Bertholdt defeated, Eren lands next to the burned body of Armin and declares he was always a hero.
Never truer a word has been spoken in this anime.
My one gripe with the episode is (you guessed it) the CGI Colossal Titan, which looks particularly jarring when it cuts from it to a regular image of it, which actually looks good.
Other than this, “Hero” is a flawless episode and I can see why many people consider it their favourite.
While you might be surprised that “Hero” comes in as my fifth favourite episode, I guarantee you that you will be surprised at what tops it.
4. Children – Season Two, Episode 10.
I know, a lot of you probably did not expect “Children” to end up coming in at number four above “Hero.”
Not many people actually talk about “Children” and I think this is a shame because it is one of the underrated episodes of the entire series.
It is also one of the most important.
The roots of so many twists are planted with the Coordinate, Marley, Eren eating his father, Ymir’s death, the curse of Ymir, the paths, and countless other twists all being foreshadowed in this episode.
On top of this, most of this foreshadowing comes with an incredibly emotional, yet powerful, flashback to Ymir’s past.
This backstory instantly made Ymir one of my favourite characters.
Watching her go from abandoned homeless girl, to worshiped goddess, to cursed as a devil, only for her to rise again and achieve a second chance at life was amazing to see.
The moment she wakes up after eating Marcel and realizes she is free is the most powerful scene in the entirety of Attack on Titan for me.
It was the first time I teared up when watching the series, and this was helped by the amazing OST “Call of Silence.”
As for the rest of “Children”, it is just as good, providing a further look into Ymir’s mind through how she is literally willing to throw Historia’s future away if it means she can see her again, leading to Ymir capturing her.
Then there is Hannes who, at the end of the episode, declares his resolve to die if it means getting Eren back, setting up his tragic death in the season finale.
This ending also shows how far Hannes has come because he never would have been so willing as to give his life at the beginning of the anime, as proven by him abandoning Carla in “To You in 2000 Years.”
Overall though, “Children” is Ymir’s episode and it makes me sad that we never got to see more of her every time I watch it.
If I did have one criticism it would be that the episode does make a few of the twists it foreshadows quite obvious.
Although, this does still not diminish how fantastic and underrated I think “Children” is.
3. Warrior – Season Two, Episode Six.
“I’m the Armoured Titan and he’s the Colossal Titan.”
I remember the first time I heard these words come out of Reiner’s mouth and I had to rewatch the scene a few times just to make sure I had not read the subtitles wrong.
But no, I had heard right.
“Warrior” literally delivers one of Attack on Titan‘s biggest twists in the most offhand way possible and it is amazing.
Many writers and directors try to create subversive moments in their works to surprise the audience but it rarely achieves in creating anything emotionally meaningful.
To all those struggling to write a subversive twist I would advise them to watch the Armoured and Colossal Titan twist in “Warrior.”
Most of the episode builds towards this twist and, after Reiner finally says it, the rest of the episode deals with the shocking aftermath.
Right from the opening minutes of “Warrior”, it is clear that something bad is about to happen.
The wind slowly blowing the flags and the pitter patter of rain makes for an ominous tone that is not fully explained until Reiner makes his shocking admission.
What I especially love about this twist is not only does it answer the question of who are the Colossal and Armoured Titans in an amazingly casual way but it is also used as one of the first hints we get to Reiner’s damaged mental state
We can see just how delusional Reiner has become through how he just expects Eren to come with him.
Then there is the symbolism with Reiner’s reflection being visible in a puddle, representing his split personality.
Another piece of symbolism sees the wind snapping a flag, which represents Reiner finally cracking under the pressure, causing him to decide to transform, sparking the incredibly intense final moments of the episode.
As Reiner tries to attack Eren, Mikasa intervenes, only for her attacks to give Reiner and Bertholdt the means to transform, which they do in explosive fashion to the incredible OST “YouSeeBIGGIRL/T:T.”
In the chaos and confusion, Reiner grabs Eren who begins to cry, reminiscing on the friendship he thought he had with the two traitors, providing me with the first moment I ever sympathized with him.
However, he pushes this pain aside, resorting to rage and transforming into his Titan, throwing a punch at the Armoured Titan and bringing an end to this explosive episode with an explosive cliffhanger.
“Warrior” is an incredible episode and I will always remember it for its amazingly subversive way of delivering a twist.
It was my favourite Attack on Titan episode in my first list, until the top 2 episodes came to dethrone it in season three part 2.
2. Midnight Sun – Season Three, Episode 18.
Choosing between my top two favourite episodes of Attack on Titan was incredibly difficult.
I had to nitpick to decide which episode would come in at number one and number two.
And, at the end of the day, I chose “Midnight Sun” as my second favourite episode.
Midnight Sun is, without a doubt, the most emotional episode of Attack on Titan so far.
I cried twice the first time I watched it, and this was even after I had already read the manga.
I knew what was coming but this episode still got to me.
It is that good.
Picking up after the loss of Armin and Erwin in previous episodes, “Midnight Sun” reveals that both of them are still barely alive.
However, more importantly, it also presents the other characters with the opportunity to only save one of them.
The decision of who should have eaten Bertholdt and inherited his Colossal Titan is one that divides fans to this day.
Both are incredible characters that are deserving of getting the injection and surviving.
This is pointed out by both sides of the argument, with Levi, Hange and Floch trying to save Erwin, and Eren and Mikasa trying to save Armin.
It eventually comes to blows, paying off the incredible teaser that was at the end of “Night of the Battle to Retake the Wall”, and Levi eventually wins in the debate, going to inject Erwin.
What follows is an emotional scene of Levi flashing back to events with Erwin, Armin, and Kenny.
Deciding that Erwin has suffered enough and deserves peace, Levi instead injects Armin who eats a screaming Bertholdt.
Erwin later passes on peacefully.
The deaths of Erwin and Bertholdt are hard hitting to say the least.
I said earlier that I believe Erwin has the perfect character arc so I find it fitting that he dies here in such an emotional way.
But, Erwin and Bertholdt are not the only deaths in this episode because it is also confirmed that Moblit sacrificed himself to save Hange.
Moblit may have been a minor character compared to Erwin and Bertholdt but he was still quite likeable, and his death serves as another gut punch.
A big feature that helps get all of this emotion across in “Midnight Sun” is the almost complete lack of music, which shows off the brilliant and heartbreaking voice acting when the character are desperately trying to save their friends.
Along with the emotion, there are a few great scenes that set up important future reveals as well, like the first interaction between Eren and Zeke.
The thing that made me put ’“Midnight Sun” at number two and not number one is its animation issues.
For example, there is one shot where the animators forgot to put Erwin in the shot.
These issues may be incredibly minor but they are enough to make “Midnight Sun” barely miss out on the top spot, which goes to…
1. That Day – Season Three, Episode 20.
“That Day” is what I believe to be the best episode of the Attack on Titan anime so far.
It was a close call between this episode and “Midnight Sun” but, in the end, That Day won because of what it did for the story as a whole.
The 20th episode of Attack on Titan‘s third season literally changes the entire direction of that story, changing the central enemy of our main characters from the Titans to humans.
Picking up after the big post-credits cliffhanger scene of “The Basement”, which revealed that human civilization is thriving outside the walls, “That Day” begins the tragic backstory of Grisha Yeager and reveals the supposed origins of the Titans.
I say “supposed” because these origins are littered with propaganda so the Marleyans can make one side look better than the other to justify generations of hatred.
The story of Ymir Fritz, and the thousands of years of ethnic cleansing under her descendants, raise a lot of questions that will be incredibly interesting to see how Isayama answers.
How ever he does it though, Marley certainly have no questions because they accept the story blindly, using it to justify oppressing all Eldians and forcing them into ghettos.
This is where we met a young Grisha when he tries to make his sister, Faye, happy by showing her an airship.
Unfortunately, Grisha’s kind act leads to her murder where she is tragically fed to dogs by the disgusting Major Gross in a shocking moment.
As a result of his loss, Grisha begins to hate Marley, causing him to join the Eldia Restorationists who are led by the mysterious Owl.
It is here that Grisha meets the last descendant of the royal family, Dina Fritz, who he marries.
Que one of the massive twists of the episode when it is revealed that the son they have is actually Zeke, making the Beast Titan Eren’s half brother.
The tragedy of this only continues as Zeke eventually turns his parents and the Restorationists into Marley for how they treated him.
Tortured for information and then take to Paradis, Grisha is confronted by Gross and his subordinate Kruger once again, and forced to watch as his friends and wife are all turned into Titans, many of whom we have seen before.
Most of these Titans are the ones who attacked Eren in First Battle and, most shocking of all, Dina is the Smiling Titan.
Her promise to find Grisha no matter what she becomes is truly chilling when you think about what it leads to.
Just as Grisha is about to be fed to a Titan by Gross Kruger steps in and feds Gross to said Titan, revealing himself to be both the Owl and the Titan that Grisha will soon inherit.
And so, the climactic episode of “That Day” comes to an end.
Its multiple twists left my jaw on the floor when I first read them in the manga and are perfectly adapted, with many anime only viewers having the same reaction I did.
Not only this, but the episode has a lot of great themes and messages as well, with plenty of comments on oppression, propaganda, and human nature.
Gross talking about how most people like watching brutality while staring right at the camera might as well be Isayama screaming at the viewer, “hey, you’re messed up!”
Then there are hints at future storylines with Eren beginning to reenact Grisha’s memories as Kruger, setting up the scene from Attack Titan where Kruger will see his future memories.
The main thing I love about “That Day” though, is the way it completely changes Attack on Titan‘s story.
The anime will be a completely different beast in season four and it is all because of the twists and turns in this episode.
And that is why I consider That Day to be the best episode of Attack on Titan as of season three.
So, there you have it. My top 20 favourite Attack on Titan episodes. I have been considering ranking all of the episodes but will probably do that after the final season ends, and in a much more condensed way. Along with this, I also plan to do a top 15 or 20 best characters list but, since the series is near its end, I will also be waiting for that to happen before I make it.