This post contains spoilers for the Attack on Titan manga, including the ending.
Out of all the stories I have heard, none has had characters that I have been as attached to as those in Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan.
There are so many characters from this manga who I will always remember fondly.
So, with the story now over, I figured it would be a good time to list my top ten favourite characters.
Making this list was not easy because there were so many characters who I considered putting on the list but just missed out, like Gabi Braun, Kenny Ackerman, Sasha Blouse, Pieck Finger, Annie Leonhart, Falco Grice, Bertholdt Hoover and Connie Springer.
However, the character who hurt the most not to put on this list was Mikasa Ackerman, especially considering how high I ranked her in my first list after watching Season Two.
It was honestly very close between her and the character who took the number ten spot but, at the end of the day, there were just a few too many missed opportunities with her character arc, which kept her out of the top ten.
Still a great character, though and she should be considered my eleventh favourite character.
Now, it’s for the characters I consider to be the best of the best in this amazing story.
Here are my top ten Attack on Titan characters, starting with…
10. Hange Zoe.
Coming in at number ten, we have the eccentric scientist and Titan lover, Hange Zoe.
Right from her introduction, Hange was one of the most entertaining characters, with her constant wacky hyjinks keeping her assistant Moblit at his wits end.
This resulted in many hilarious situations where Hange was the root cause.
Along with being comedic, Hange could also be deadly serious when the situation called for it, like when she threatened Pastor Nick after the first Wall Titan was uncovered and when she tortured Sannes for information.
However, despite being a capable squad lead, she would have to face her most difficult challenge yet with the death of Erwin, forcing her becoming the new Survery Corps commander.
This was difficult for her because, although a very smart person, she was nowhere near the leader he was and thrust into a situation that even he would struggle to handle.
The struggles she went through because of this caused some in the fandom to call her completely useless but Hange quickly proved herself, saving Levi’s life and helping form the Alliance, later leading them to victory against the Yeagerists.
But her standout moment came at her end, where she stayed behind to hold off the advancing Wall Titans, so the Alliance could get the plane in the air to go and stop Eren.
Her looking in awe at the countless Colossal Titans and declaring, “Titans really are incredible” was her returning to the mad Titan lover we all love, right at her end, and in a way that helped save the world.
She definitely earned her final moments, as she sees all the ghosts of the dead Scouts and prepares to tell them her story.
From mad scientist, to Commander, to a mixture of both in her final moments, Hange is a great character deserving of making it into the top ten.
9. Jean Kirstein.
At number nine is the horse face himself.
Appearing for the first time all the way back in the Trost Arc, Jean quickly became one of my favourite characters because of how well his arc was handled.
Starting out as stuck up and self centered, Jean’s only goal in life at the beginning of the story was to join the Military Police and live the good life.
This mentality instantly caused conflict between him and Eren, with Eren seeking freedom outside the walls and Jean seeking safety behind them.
The two even coined insulting nicknames for one another, those being horse face and suicidal maniac.
However, then the attack on Trost happened and Jean began to change.
Being forced to take on a leadership position, Jean was inspired by one of his friends from the 104th, Marco.
After the battle, he found Marco’s half eaten body, which was one of the most significant moments in his life because it forced him to make a choice.
This being to do what he wants and join the Military Police, or what is right and join the Survey Corps, fighting for humanity.
Jean chooses the latter, showing what kind of person he has grown into, so much so that even Eren is surprised by his sudden resolve.
After this, Jean sort of fades a bit into the background.
He has big moments, sure, like when is faced with the decision and consequences of killing humans in the Uprising Arc but it never felt like he had as big of a moment as he did when he chose to join the Survey Corps.
Then Chapter 127 happened, where he finally got to confront Reiner over Marco’s death, letting out all his rage and grief, before pulling himself togethor and continuing to do what needed to be done for the betterment of humanity.
This was a standout moment for him and one that made me love his character all the more, making it more tragic when he was turned into a Titan in the final battle.
Now, while it was a little too convenient for him to just turn back into a human when Eren was defeated, I was personally just glad to see that he survived and got a happy ending.
Jean is a soldier who wanted to fight for himself but instead fought for humanity, making him an easy choice for the ninth best character of the story.
8. Ymir and Historia Reiss.
I know, I’m kind of cheating by including two characters in the eighth spot but I just could not put one above the other here.
If I’m honest, when I first got to the Clash of the Titans Arc, I didn’t even remember Ymir and Historia, or Christa as she was then known.
So, imagine my surprise when that arc and folllowing Uprising Arc provided the both of them with some of my favourite character arcs of the entire story, along with a complex relationship that actually made me ship them quite a bit.
First there is Ymir, who’s tragic arc in the Clash of the Titans Arc really grabbed me.
Ymir is essentially a selfless person who wants to be selfish.
Being turned into a Titan for sixty years because she tried to protect those she cared about, Ymir miraculously returned to human form after eating Marcel, upon which she decided to live selfishly for herself.
Yet, she just could not do this.
Once she heard about Historia and their similar circumstances, she devoted everything she could to protect her, while continuing to act as selfish while being selfless, saving Daz in a blizzard for Historia, and throwing herself into a hoard of Titans to keep her safe.
Ymir was finally able to recognise she never could be selfish, going back to save Reiner and Bertholdt and finally admitting to herself that, “being a goddess doesn’t feel so bad.”
This tragic arc is just as good as Historia’s, whose is pretty inspiring.
In the Clash of the Titans Arc, it is revealed that the Christa personality we have seen from Historia this entire time has been her acting nice, so when she dies people will remember her as a good person.
This suicidal ideology was created from her terrible childhood and was thankfully shattered through Ymir motivating her.
However, once Ymir leaves, Historia is not sure where to go in her life.
It is here that her storyline progresses magnificently in the Uprising Arc, with her slowly gaining insight into who she is and who she wants to be, eventually choosing to be queen for herself, despite that role having been shaped for her.
This all culminates in the epic scene where she goes against her father and saves Eren, finally deciding to live her life with pride as Ymir wanted.
Hopefully, I have given you an idea of why I consider Historia’s inspiring character arc and Ymir’s tragic one to be some of the most powerful in the entire story.
But, if their arcs are so powerful, then why are they only at number eight and not in the top five?
Well, because, unfortunately, I think Isayama severely dropped the ball with them after these arcs concluded.
First, there’s Ymir, who is killed off screen in what has to be worst written death of the whole manga, due to it not being written at all.
Then, there’s Historia, who is paired off with a complete nobody, gets pregnant, and is then sidelined for the rest of the story, ending with her pregnancy amounting to absolutely nothing, even though children being the future is one of the story’s main themes.
In my opinion, it is pretty clear that Isayama had no idea what to do with Ymir or Historia once their character arcs concluded.
However, given that they come in at number eight, that should show you how great I consider these arcs to be.
7. Eren Yeager.
Eren is a character who my opinion about has changed quite a bit as the story has gone on.
If you look all the way back at my Season One review, you will see that my main criticism of the story was Eren himself.
In the first few arcs, I found him to be extremely stuck up and unlikeable and only actually started to cheer him on in the Clash of the Titans Arc.
I finally came to recognize him as a good character when he was confronted with the Titan who killed his mother, Dina, and he broke down into tears of laughter, not being able to cope with what was happening.
As the story progressed, Eren only got better, becoming very relatable to me in the Uprising Arc, as he realized his own flaws and how he is not special, before his friends’ motivations and his dead mother’s words to Keith Shadis taught him that everyone is special just for being born.
However, then he was met with the dark truth of their world, with the truth about Eldians and Marleyans, and him seeing the future through the Attack Titan, which caused him to change drastically.
When we see him again in Season Four, Eren has progressed dramatically, having become someone who is willing to do anything to achieve freedom for himself and his friends.
This ruthless, yet understanding, Eren is incredibly compelling and his confrontation with Reiner in the 100th chapter of the story made him one of my favourites.
Eren just got better after this, with the mystery surrounding what he wanted to do and why he was doing it being built up magnificently.
Him saying he hated Mikasa and beating up Armin and everything he does in the Paths chapters, from convincing Grisha to kill the Reiss family to later convincing Ymir to join him, all of this made him climb higher and higher on my list of favourite character.
Eventually, Eren reached the second spot on this list with Chapter 131, as we saw part of his motivations for starting the Rumbling and also the intense guilt he was suffering from.
His death at the hands of Mikasa in Chapter 138 was also immensely tragic and got me tearing up.
Then, Chapter 139 happened.
Not going to lie, the more I read the final chapter the less I like its depiction of Eren and his plan.
It’s not that its terrible but the execution could have been so much better.
That said, there are terrible parts to it, like Eren being revealed to have played a part in his mother’s death, which, in my opinion, is not in character at all.
All of this pushed Eren further down on my list to number seven.
Some say that Eren’s depiction in Chapter 139 ruined him as a character for them but that’s not the case for me.
Even though I think the reveal of Eren’s plan could have been done way better, I cannot deny that he is still a fantastic character, with his POV chapters like Chapter 131 being some of the best of the final arc and the manga.
He is a character who I have enjoyed reading quite a bit.
6. Reiner Braun.
If there is an example of how to make a character, who was once a villain, sympathetic to the reader, Reiner is a perfect one for that.
Starting out as a soldier in the 104th, my initial perception of Reiner was as a loyal friend, who would most likely be Titan canon fodder soon.
This perception was proven wrong when, in one of the best twists of the story, Reiner just casually outs himself and Bertholdt as the Armoured and Colossal Titans.
From here, the story begins to explore Reiner as a villain, although a slightly sympathetic one, as his actions have caused him to suffer from a split personality, created by his PTSD.
Afterwards, though, Reiner is solely an antagonist for the next few arcs, as he fights against the Scouts in the Shiganshina Arc.
However, then we get the Marley Arc, where Reiner becomes an absolutely amazing character.
The depiction of his PTSD and the suicidal depression this has caused him is quite disturbing and makes Reiner extremely sympathetic.
The panel of him with the gun in his mouth has haunted me for a while, and his confrontation with Eren in Chapter 100, where he admits to his guilt, is one of the best chapters of the story.
Reiner continues to get more attention in the story, as he pushes past his depression to focus everything he has on saving Gabi and Falco, and then on saving the world from Eren’s Rumbling.
This resulted in a few underrated momentes like the infamous “save the world” moment from Chapter 126.
Now, I do agree that “Pride” is one of the weakest chapters of Attack on Titan, but I really enjoy how its ending ties into Reiner’s arc.
All this time, Reiner has suffered and done horrible things because of his drive to become a hero and save the world, now he is being given a chance at redemption through actually saving it.
And save it he does, joining forces with the Alliance and playing a pivotal role in the final battle, holding back the Hallucigenia from reaching Eren.
As for why he’s not higher on the list, I do wish he’d been given a bit more to do in the final few chapters, considering his rivalry with Eren was so pivotal for his character.
Also, his sendoff being him sniffing Historia’s letter felt a little weird.
Certainly not out of character, like some claim, but I feel like such a well-written character deserved a more powerful ending than a gag.
Still, Reiner is a fantastic character who is a great showcase of how to make a once hated villain sympathetic.
5. Levi Ackerman.
Probably the most popular character in all of Attack on Titan, Levi has been a fan favourite from the moment he first appeared.
As humanity’s strongest soldier, Levi makes an immediate impression on the viewer through how Isayama shows just what kind of person he is.
In his first action scene, it is shown how he is a clean freak, disgusted by dirtiness.
Yet, when a comrade is dying, Levi doesn’t hesitate to grab his dirty, bloodied hand and reassure him that his death had meaning.
This shows Levi is the kind of person to push his own feelings aside to complete a mission or help a comrade, no matter the cost.
We unfortunately see this first hand with his reaction to the deaths of his entire squad in the Female Titan Arc, where he pushes his pain about their deaths away to focus on rescuing Eren.
After suffering an injury during this fight, he took a back set for the Clash of the Titans Arc but there was his spin off manga that showed his tragic backstory to satisfy us.
His backstory was expanded upon in the Uprising Arc where we got the fantastic dynamic between him and his uncle Kenny and commanding officer Erwin.
This lead into the Return to Shiganshina Arc, where we got one of the best fights of the story between him and the Beast Titan, if you can even call it a fight considering how one sided it was, leading to the incredibly impactful serumnbowl.
Here, Levi showed even more growth, for once making an emotional decision as compared to a logical one when it came to a mission, choosing to let his friend Erwin rest and revive Armin instead.
Levi’s decision may be the subject of much debate in the fandom but in my opinion it was the right choice for his arc and the story.
Post time skip, Levi continued to be a great character, with the theme of everyone dying around him continuing.
First he lost his all of his squad to Zeke, then he was badly injured when he underestimated him, and finally Hange gave her life to help the Alliance, causing Levi to tell her to “devote your heart” for the first time.
All of this is great stuff for Levi but it wasn’t enough to get him in the top five for me.
So, why is he here?
Well, because of the conclusion his character got in Chapter 139.
I have my own issues with the final chapter but the one thing I think everyone can agree on is that Levi’s ending is perfect.
The scene where he sees the specters of his comrades in the smoke and tells them that this victory is the result of their dedicated hearts, returning their salute and shedding a tear, had me tearing up alongside him.
Such a fantastic conclusion for Levi is what pushed him into the top five and I cannot wait to see it animated in the second half of the final season.
4. Grisha Yeager.
It’s kind of funny how Grisha reminds me so much of Van Hohenheim from Full Metal Alchemist.
The way my opinion about both characters changed across the series is strikingly similar.
When we first met them, I got the impression of them as deadbeat fathers who would never be be among my favourite characters of the story.
Then, we learned their tragic backstory’s, which made me realize there was so much more to their characters, ending with the conclusions to their story’s actually making me cry.
Like Hohenheim, Grisha goes from deadbeat dad to one of the most tragic characters in the entire series, as we learn all about his backstory at the end of the Return to Shiganshina Arc.
Originally coming from Marley, Grisha was an Eldian who lived in the Liberio Internment Zone with his family.
One day, he took his sister outside the walls to see an airship, only for her to be murdered by a Marleyan officer who fed the child to his son’s dogs for entertainment.
This horrific injustice put Grisha on the radical path, joining the Eldia Restorationists, becoming indoctrinated in the mindset that Eldia could do no wrong, marrying a woman of royal blood, Dina, and having a child, Zeke, for the sole purpose of using him to restore Eldia.
All of this resulted in Grisha mistreating and neglecting his son, pushing him to become a Warrior and double agent inside the Marleyan government, even though his son just wanted a normal life.
When this finally resulted in Zeke turning him and Dina in, Grisha finally realized what a horrible father and person he had been, deeply regretting his actions.
He is then given the chance to redeem himself when his sister’s murderer is killed and he is saved by Kruger, the head of the Eldia Restorationists.
Eating Kruger to obtain the Attack Titan, Grisha infultrates the walls to continue his mission to restore Eldia, eventually falling in love with Carla and marrying her, resulting in Eren’s birth.
All of this was great development for Grisha and really made me care for him, easily putting him in the top ten.
It was what came in Chapters 120 and 121 that put at the number four spot.
Before these chapters, I thought Grisha had fallen back into the exact same mindset, killing the Reiss family to complete his mission and turning Eren into a Titan, even though he allowed his son to come to his own ideology this time.
However, when Eren and Zeke explore Grisha’s memories, it is revealed that he truly did learn his lesson and actually abandoned his mission in favor of staying and loving his family, especially his son Eren.
He only went to take the Founding Titan when left with no choice and, even then, this was because Eren manipulated him into doing so, using the Attack Titan.
This lead to one of the most emotional moments of the entire story, as Grisha has a reunion with Zeke, finally apologising for how he treated him and embracing him, telling Zeke what he always wanted to hear from his father… that he loves him.
Much like the Levi scene, I teared up in this moment.
It was such a beautiful conclusion to Grisha’s character, learning that he truly had changed for the better and could make amends with Zeke in the end.
Grisha is easily one of Attack on Titan’s most tragic characters, losing those he loves and changing to better as a result, only to lose it all again.
Just like Levi, I cannot wait to see the rest of his story adapted in the anime.
3. Zeke Yeager.
Taking the third spot, Zeke is an interesting character from the moment we meet him.
First appearing in his Beast Titan form at the beginning of the Clash of the Titans Arc, Zeke makes a shocking and brutal impression.
Not only is he is the first Titan we see speaking fluently but he also allows Paradis’ second strongest soldier, Mike, to be devoured by Titans, as he screams for mercy, with absolutely no remorse.
It sets Zeke up as a cold and remorseless character, who we should all fear.
This is supported by the way he is portrayed initially in the Return to Shiganshina Arc.
His first appearance in human form is dramatic and promises him to be a big threat, a promise that is fulfilled when he kills countless Scouts by throwing crushed rocks and treating it like a good old game of baseball.
This is why it is absolutely hilarious when, after all his build up, he is absolutely demolished by Levi, not even landing a hit on humanity’s strongest soldier.
Another thing that cuts away at Zeke’s initial persona as a remorseless villain is his flashback scene with Reiner and Bertholdt, and his first meeting with Eren.
In the flashback, he tells the two Warriors that he wants everything to end with them, foreshadowing his hidden motivations, and he shows genuine care for Eren when he first meets him, telling him that Grisha has brainwashed him.
The reason for this care is revealed when the truth in the basement is unveileved and, along with it being revealed that the rest of the world is still alive and hates Paradis, it is also revealed that Zeke is Grisha’s son, who turned him and his mother in to Marley.
The irony here seems to be that Zeke believes Grisha brainwashed Eren, when in reality Zeke is brainwashed by Marley, but not everything is as it seems.
Zeke begins to act very suspiciously post time skip, not informing Marley of his royal blood and allowing Reiner to follow Falco and meet Eren.
His anticlimactic death at the hands of Levi is even more suspicious, leading to the reveal that Zeke has betrayed Marley for Eldia, leaving his true motivations a complete mystery.
These motivations are finally revealed when he is once again beaten by Levi in a fight after brilliantly but coldly turning his men into Titans.
Seeing Eldians suffer his entire life and suffering from the neglect of his parents, Zeke came to believe that the way to solve this problem would be to sterilize all Eldians, so their race could eventually die off peacefully.
This is why Zeke was so remorseless when he killed those on Paraids, because he believed he was saving them from the cruel world they live in.
Guided by his mentor, the previous Beast Titan, Tom Xaver, Zeke sought to make this horrific dream a reality, only for Eren to betray him, leading to one of the most emotional moments of the story, where Zeke was able to reconcile with Grisha through the power of the Attack Titan.
After Eren activates the Rumbling, Zeke disappears for a while, which is why he doesn’t take the second spot: his absence.
I wish he got more to do in the final part of the story.
Still, when he does show up again briefly for the end of his arc, it is more than worth it.
Inspired by Armin’s words about the meaning of life, Zeke realizes that his life wasn’t entirely suffering and, even if it doesn’t change his opinion about his euthanization plan, he still wishes he could be reborn to play catch with Xaver once more.
Zeke then forms outside Eren’s gigantic Titan and allows Levi to kill him to stop the Rumbling, ending their long rivalry.
Like Reiner, Zeke is a fantastic showcase of how to make a villain sympathetic, only even better in my opinion.
The slow reveal of his motivations and the emotional scenes he has, made him an incredible character, who you first hate and fear, then are curious about, then sympathize with despite all he has done.
Zeke is surely not a good person but he is one of Attack on Titan’s best characters.
2. Armin Arlert.
Armin has been one of my favourite characters from the moment I first got into Attack on Titan.
I liked him so much that he took first place in my top ten list after watching Season Two.
The reason he is at number two now is not because of any short comings he has had as a character since then but just because I came to like the character who took the top spot more.
In fact, I would go as far to say that I think Armin is the most over hated character in the story.
I have seen people who don’t like his character dub him as both useless and a Gary Stu, which is weird since those arguments really don’t work well together.
Armin starts off as a character with a lot of self doubt and insecurities, which I really related to, and watching him overcome them to become a leader figure in the Trost and Female Titan Arcs was amazing.
The moment when he realizes that Eren and Mikasa are depending on him and never saw him as a weak link who needed to be watched over is the moment his character changes into someone more confident.
The brilliant strategist part of his character then comes into play, until the timeskip.
We see him deduce Annie’s identity, lure her into a trap, realize how Reiner was able to work with her when his and Bertholdt’s identities were uncovered, and eventually nearly sacrifice himself in a plan to defeat the Colossal Titan.
As Armin shows his genius during these moments, he also gets a lot of great development as well, with him losing a large part of his innocence when he is forced to take someone’s life to save Jean in the Uprising Arc.
Then, after the serumnbowl, he is both gifted with the Colossal Titan and cursed with the burden of living up to Commander Erwin’s legacy.
This is where the opinions about him being useless come into play, as Armin, along with Hange, struggle with the burden of dealing with a world that hates them.
Armin not really being able to do much tactically here is pretty much the point, though, because it all leads to him admitting that Erwin should have been revived over him, only to later prove himself as the successor to Erwin’s legacy in Chapter 137 through saving the world, just as Eren said he would.
Even then, he still does a lot of things before this point, like attacking the port, despite the civilian casualties, and saving Eren from being killed by Magath and Pieck.
There’s also his relationship with Annie, which adds a layer of hope to the grim happenings of the Rumbling.
As for Armin finally proving himself, he takes the credit for killing Eren in order to become a diplomat for peace between the world and Paradis.
It is even hinted that his narration is him explaining their story to the people of Paradis, a detail about his ending which I love.
The only thing I don’t like about Armin that I can think of off the top of my head is him thanking Eren for committing genocide in the final chapter.
However, reading a leaked interview from Isayama, it thankfully looks like this was not the intent and Isayama just had trouble writing what he wanted to convey in this moment.
Other than this, Armin is a fantastic character and has been one of my favourites since the very beginning.
1. Erwin Smith.
There are so few characters in fiction who deserve the title of having a perfect character arc.
An example of one of these characters would be Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Well, Attack on Titan’s perfect character arc and my choice for the best character of the entire story goes to Erwin Smith.
While there are a few things I would change about other characters in the story, even ones that I love, like with Armin thanking Eren for being a mass murderer, which I already mentioned, I would not change a single thing about Erwin’s character arc.
In my opinion, it is perfect from start to finish.
From the moment we meet Erwin, we get a very specific interpretation of his character.
A soldier who will sacrifice anything to save humanity from the Titans.
This is proven to us time and time again.
We see him risk his comrades lives in the Female Titan Arc, all to draw her in and capture her.
We see him do the same with the civilians of Stohest, when the first attempt to capture her failed.
Most notably, we see it in one of his most epic scenes, when he is dragged off by a Titan but he keeps screaming for his soldiers to “Advance!”
Not only this, he also quickly makes a reappearance, saving Eren’s life, with one arm no less.
All of this paints a perception of Erwin as a man who is dedicated to saving humanity, no matter the cost.
However, this perception is a lie, a persona created by Erwin to motivate his soldiers.
It is revealed in the Uprising Arc that Erwin’s main goal is not to save humanity but to find out the secrets that his father had been looking for before he was murdered.
When he was a boy, Erwin’s father told him of how the royal government was covering up the truth about the outside world.
Not knowing that he should keep this quiet, Erwin told his school friends and word got around to the Interior Military Police, who killed his father and made it look like an accident.
This lit a fire in Erwin to take down the government and prove his father right.
He achieved the first goal in a military coup that placed Historia Reiss as Queen and set the stage for him finding out the truth about the world, the very thing he desired since he was a boy.
He even flat out admits to Levi that this is more important to him than saving humanity.
However, then the moment of truth comes.
The Scouts are quite literally pushed up against the wall, with the Beast Titan chucking crushed boulders at them with terrifying speed, planning to pulverize them all.
The situation is hopeless and the only way Erwin can think of to overcome it is to sacrifice himself and the recruits to give Levi the slightest chance of killing the Beast Titan.
Erwin has to choose between achieving his lifelong goal of learning the truth, or giving his life for humanity… and he does not know what to do.
Despite the crushing guilt of his comrades’ deaths, he just cannot make the decision he knows is right.
So, Levi makes the decision for him, telling him to give up on his dream and die.
Free from the burden of this choice, Erwin thanks his friend and gives one last rousing speech to his comrades as they ride to certain death.
This time, however, he is not saying these things with the intention of using it to further his goal, no, he is fully becoming what he always pretended to be: the Commander who would do anything, even give his own life, to save humanity.
And he almost does give his life, taking the brunt of the Beast Titan’s attack, fatally wounding him.
As he lies dying, he is saved by the lone survivor of his charge, Floch, who carries him to Levi with the hopes of reviving him with the Titan serumn.
Erwin, however, slaps Levi’s hand away in a delirious state, reminiscing on his dream to learn the truth of the world.
This causes Levi to remember Kenny’s words to him about everyone being a slave to something.
Levi decides to free Erwin from his enslavement to his dream and the uncertainty of what would come afterward, allowing him to die the hero who sacrificed himself to bring humanity forward, the thing he always pretended to be and finally became in the end.
Erwin is just a perfect character.
His introduction, the reveal of his true intentions, and how this all results in him having to give up on his dream and become the hero he always acted like he was is as tragic as it is incredible.
He is easily the best character Hajime Isayama created, in my opinion.
Standing among the others on this list, Erwin Smith is the best character in Attack on Titan.