Back when I finished watching season two of Attack on Titan, I made a post listing off my top 10 favourite episodes of the series.
Well, after season three came to an end, I found there were so many fantastic episodes that I just had to update my list.
However, I found that a top 10 list was too short because there were still many episodes I wanted to mention.
Taking this into account, I decided to lengthen the list to a top 20 but even then it was hard because there are so many amazing episodes that I considered putting on here.
Episodes like “The Defeated” and “Wall” from season one, “Beast Titan” and “Soldier” from season two, “The Town Where Everything Began” and “Attack Titan” from season three.
These were great episodes that just barely missed out but, at the end of the day, I had to narrow it down.
With this said, here is the first part of my top 20 episodes of Attack on Titan, as of season three.
Also, I think this goes without saying but SPOILERS!!!
20. Sin – Season Three, Episode Six.
The first episode on the list, “Sin” is the first, big information drop episode where Eren finally learns the dark truth of what happened to his father.
Chained up as a captive of Rod Reiss, Grisha’s memories are awakened from within Eren when Reiss and Historia place their hands upon him, in a scene that left many fans shocked.
Personally, I found the reveal that Eren ate his father rather predictable because it had been heavily foreshadowed in previous episodes but it still made for a great scene that would propel Eren’s character development forward.
As for the rest of “Sin”, it continues to unload exposition, proving a lot of information about Grisha, the Reiss family, Kenny, and the Ackerman family.
There is even a scene with an excrement torture device… yeah, I wish I was kidding about that too.
Anyway, all of this information builds and builds up to a climactic ending that hypes up the coming battle immeasurably.
And this cliffhanger would be more than paid off in the following episode, which we will see later in the list.
Overall, “Sin” is a well done exposition episode with plenty of exciting twists that shape the story.
19. Ruler of the Walls – Season Three, Episode Nine.
The big battle between Rod Reiss’ gargantuan Titan and the Survey Corps begins and concludes this episode, resulting in great character moments for both Eren and Historia.
Most of “Ruler of the Walls” builds up to the battle, with the scouts preparing for much of the episode while the Garrison ineffectively tries to stop the massive Titan in its tracks.
As this is happening, we continue to see how much Historia has grown through Eren’s eyes causing him to contemplate and finally recognizes his own flaws.
I greatly appreciated the call backs to Eren’s naive nature back in season one because it showed just how far he has come.
Then the battle begins, as Reiss’ Titan finally reaches the wall in all of its disgusting CGI glory.
While I typically do not like the CGI in Attack on Titan, as can be seen by my constant complaining about the CGI Colossal Titan, I thought Reiss’ Titan was perfectly animated, with no scene looking out of place to me.
The true highlight of the episode is Historia killing her Titanised father, and finally embracing her role as the new queen.
Much like “Sin”, “Ruler of the Walls” ends on a cliffhanger that leads into an episode we will be seeing later on the list.
With a great battle, CGI, and character moments, “Ruler of the Walls” is another engaging episode.
18. First Battle: The Struggle for Trost, Part One – Season One, Episode Five.
One thing that will become apparent as this list goes on is how different it is from my first list.
Some of the episodes will have gone up and some will have gone down.
One such episode that has fallen on subsequent views is the episode that takes the 18th spot “First Battle.”
Even so, this season one episode is still a great time that shows off the terror of the Titans and just how outmatched Eren is, despite his annoying boasting in earlier episodes.
Starting off with a well done first fight between Eren and the Colossal Titan, “First Battle” follows through with a feeling of dread as the full weight of the Titans’ eventual invasion become apparent.
People cower, embrace their loved ones, vomit, take their anger out on others; there are a wide range of emotions across the board.
The only one with any hope is Eren, and this is bolstered by his flashback to an explanation of the Titans’ weakness, giving hope to the viewer that Eren may succeed.
Only for this hope to hit a brick wall called reality when Eren’s squad is absolutely slaughtered and Eren sacrifices himself to save Armin.
Seeing the main character “die” in the fifth episode was very shocking, even though I did not like Eren at this point.
“First Battle” does a great job of showing the true threat of the Titans, along with introducing us to some central characters like Dot Pyxis.
It is what solidified Attack on Titan as an anime where anyone could die, in people’s minds.
17. Close Combat – Season Two, Episode Seven.
After learning the shocking truth about Reiner and Bertholdt being the Armoured and Colossal Titans, “Close Combat” shows the aftermath of this reveal with Eren struggling to fight his once close friends.
This results in a very meaningful battle where the feelings of betrayal are made abundantly clear by Eren and Armin.
Connie’s reaction is the most hard hitting though with him being concerned for Reiner and Bertholdt’s safety, unaware that they are the Titans.
The fights in this episode are fantastic, with Eren facing off against Reiner and the Scouts against Bertholdt.
Watching Eren trying to deal with his anger towards Reiner, while in a brutal brawl with him, highlighted Eren’s resolve, which is made even stronger after he uses a technique he remembers Annie using in a flashback scene.
As for the fight with the Colossal Titan, it is stunning to look at with the shot composition really showing off the massive foe the Scouts are facing.
Unfortunately, this is where my few criticisms come in because the CGI on the Colossal Titan is pretty jarring.
Granted it is not as bad as it would be in season three but it is still very noticeable.
Then there is the ending cliffhanger, which is so abrupt that it literally kills all the tension.
These two flaws stop “Close Combat” from being higher on the list but it is still a great episode with a lot of meaningful impact in its fight sequences.
16. Crushing Blow: The 57th Exterior Scouting Mission, Part Five – Season One, Episode 21.
I can distinctly remember watching this episode and screaming at the Levi Squad to get out of there as they were slaughtered by the Female Titan one by one.
The deaths of Petra, Orou, and Eld are very shocking to see, especially considering the loss of their comrade Gunther in the previous episode.
“Crushing Blow” details the consequences of Eren’s choices and how these can result in life or death for those he cares about.
Because he chose to trust his teammates over having faith in himself, they are all brutally killed before he can do anything to save them.
This hits Eren hard with his inner monologue providing great development for him as he battles the Female Titan.
The fight between the two is intense, not just because of Eren’s inner turmoil, but also because of how well choreographed and animated it is.
You can clearly see multiple different emotions and reactions on the face of both Titans, down to a twitch in the Female Titan’s eyes when she realizes she has a chance to strike Eren.
This leads to her defeating and then kidnapping him, much to Mikasa’s horror.
All of this horrifying excitement is topped off with the ending cliffhanger of Mikasa and Levi working together to go and rescue Eren.
Seeing these two put aside their differences in order to save Eren serves as more great development and does a great job building into the next episode, “The Defeated”, which sadly just missed out on making the list.
“Crushing Blow” is another intense episode, which provides shocking character deaths that result in great inner turmoil for the lead character.
15. Friends – Season Three, Episode 10.
Whenever Attack on Titan does a backstory episode it usually ends well.
Case in point, “Friends” where we get the backstory of Kenny Ackerman.
Kenny is a minor character in the overall story, only having a central part in the Uprising Arc, but he still left a major impact.
This is because of his entertaining personality and backstory episode, which explains his motivation.
In “Friends” we see how he began to work for the Reiss family, raised Levi, and, more importantly, his titular friendship with Uri Reiss.
Through this, we eventually come to understand Kenny’s longing to understand the power that his friend possesses, and his curiosity if this power could transform him from a psychopathic killer into a compassionate person.
Watching his backstory and how he got his motivations is fascinating to watch and causes Kenny’s sacrifice at the end to make sense.
Him giving the injection to Levi would go on to have a monumental impact on the series.
In the aftermath of his death we then get Historia’s coronation, leading to the hilarious scene where she punches Levi.
The episode then cuts to one of the series’ best cliffhangers, with a tease for the Return to Shiganshina Arc as we see Reiner, Bertholdt and Zeke waiting for the Scouts to arrive in Shiganshina.
“Friends” is a great backstory episode that allows us to sympathize with one of the series’ antagonists.
14. Charge – Season Two, Episode 11.
On my first list of my favourite Attack on Titan episodes, “Charge” ranked in at number four.
The reason for this fall to 14th place is largely because of the constant still images in the episode.
When I first watched “Charge” it was so epic that I was actually able to look past all of its animation difficulties but on subsequent rewatches it became very noticeable.
Probably the worst instance of the still images is when Armin confronts Bertholdt about Annie and all of the attacking Titans freeze while this conversation is taken place.
Other than this problems though, the episode is still stellar with many amazing moments.
There is Mikasa’s terrifying resolve to get Eren back no matter what, Bertholdt tearfully explaining his and Reiner’s guilt, Armin going down a darker path to win, and Historia vowing to stay Ymir’s ally no matter what.
The character who steals the episode though is, without a doubt, Erwin.
Every time I see him get dragged away by that Titan, only for him to scream at his soldiers to “Advance!” I get chills.
And then Erwin keeps fighting with his arm bitten off.
Easily the most bad ass character of the series.
The cliffhanger for the episode is also a shocker, with the Smiling Titan returning to bring more tragedy to the story in the season finale.
Despite its animation problems, “Charge” is a roller coaster of an episode that will leave you on the edge of your seat.
13. Pain – Season Three, Episode Two.
There are quite a few things that stick out about “Pain”, from the action, to the character development, to the music.
The thing that stuck out the most to me was easily the incredible animation.
“Pain” is, hands down, the most well animated episode in the entirety of Attack on Titan.
The opening scene with Levi fleeing from Kenny’s squad is jaw droppingly gorgeous in its construction, which lends itself to the thrilling action excellently.
The episode also serves as a good follow up to Kenny’s introduction in the season premiere “Smoke Signal” with the rivalry between him and Levi being perfectly set up; a rivalry which would only later be topped by Levi’s with Zeke.
Then there is the character development, with Armin being forced to kill someone to save Jean and having to deal with the guilt.
There is even some development for minor characters like Dimo Reeves which was much appreciated, even though it was largely shortened compared to the manga.
This development leads to the capture of the Interior Police officer Sannes, who is tortured by Levi and Hange, leading to the reveal of how deep the conspiracy goes.
As Rod Reiss is revealed to be the true king of the walls, a haunting OST, “Symphonic Suite Part 1-1st”, picks up.
This OST gives the reunion between Reiss and Historia a feeling of dreas that ends the episode on an ominous note.
If I did have one criticism of “Pain” it would be that is continues the Attack on Titan cliche of Eren getting kidnapped, a cliche the series has thankfully seemed to drop since then.
Still, “Pain” is one of the Uprising Arc’s best episodes with the greatest animation of the entire series.
12. Mercy: Assault on Stohess, Part Two – Season One, Episode 24.
“We live in a cruel world.”
The first time I heard this line from Mikasa in the penultimate episode of Attack on Titan‘s first season I got chills.
Likewise, the rest of “Mercy” is just as great, picking up from the predictable twist of Annie being the Female Titan in the previous episode.
While this twist is disappointing in how obvious it is made, the fallout from it results in some interesting moments of self reflection for Eren as he is confronted by his unwillingness to fight Annie, despite her being their enemy.
What I like about “Mercy” is that a lot of it is anime original.
A bunch of new scenes are added that give certain scenes a lot more time to breathe than in the manga and, as a result, made them a lot better.
Seeing Jean and Armin trying to motivate Eren to transform in different ways speaks to the strengths of both their characters.
Then there is Nile’s scenes with Erwin, which highlights how much he actually cares for the civilian population.
He is immensely angered that Erwin put everyone’s lives at risk to the point that he contemplates shooting his old friend.
Finally, there is Eren’s transformation at the end of the episode.
Despite this transformation happening off screen, except for the lightening, I still consider this one of Attack on Titan‘s best transformation scenes.
It is incredibly epic with the “Attack on Titan” OST cheering Eren on as he finally finds his resolve to face Annie once and for all.
With this epic scene, and plenty of well done anime original scenes, “Mercy” is an amazing way to lead into season one’s finale.
11. Historia – Season Two, Episode Five.
Before “Historia”, I found Christa to be one of Attack on Titan‘s most boring characters.
She was just a typical nice girl with no complexity to her.
Then I watched season two’s fifth episode and my entire perception of her was flipped on its head in the best way possible.
Because it turns out that Christa is not just a girl who is nice for the sake of it.
She is actually suicidal, with the reason for her being so nice because she wants everyone to remember her as a hero to give her life meaning, after she dies in battle.
Enter Ymir to knock some sense into her in a moving flashback scene that not only holds a lot of emotional weight but also some stellar snow animation.
The episode then cuts away from this flashback to where episode four left off, with the reveal that Ymir was a Titan Shifter the entire time.
What follows is an epic fight as Ymir fights to protect Christa and the other Scouts at Utgard Castle.
Season two really worked wonders for both Ymir and Christa.
I could not have cared less about them after season one but after “Historia” they both became characters I cared immensely about.
The episode ends with Christa revealing her true name to Ymir, Historia, and from this my OTP for the series emerged.
“Historia” is a great episode of Attack on Titan that took two characters I really did not care for beforehand and turned them into some of the most interesting and well developed characters in the series.
The second part of this list containing my top 10 favourite Attack on Titan episodes will be posted simultaneously with this one so you should be able to find it easily.