7 most terrifying Titans in Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan’s oversized antagonists are grossly exaggerated humanoid forms. No two are alike. And therein lies the horror. Or at least therein lies the reason the anime series’ terrifying Titans continue to creep us the heck out, even four seasons in.
At first, Titans can seem almost comical in their depiction. But any (uncomfortable?) laughter quickly subsides to leave viewers wholly unsettled. Titans, with their variation in appearance and qualities, never allow you to become accustomed to their presence.
They’re not always predictable – in either action or looks – and consequently, they’re among the most horrifying creatures ever seen on screen. And that’s before we’ve even mentioned the fact that they like to chow down on humans. Terrifying Titans, indeed.
With the series coming to a close later this year, we take at look at some of the most terrifying Titans to appear across the four seasons of the epic anime. Prepare to grimace as we remind you of some of Eren Yeager and co.’s most alarming encounters.
Dina Fritz’s Smiling Titan
Dina Fritz? The Smiling Titan? You know, the one that ate Eren’s mom. This terrifying Titan is one of the earliest from the series that scarred us for life.
And here’s why: when Hannes first encounters this Titan, he stops in his tracks. He looks up, and shock spreads across his face as he gasps. The camera tilts, moving up the Titan’s body from waist height. It’s lit dramatically, its creepy face comes into the frame, then there’s a close up. Two rows of countless teeth. Hannes turns and grabs Eren and Mikasa and runs, leaving Eren’s mother trapped under the house.
She’s shouting to them to live on, and then, quietly – devastatingly – she says, “Don’t go”. But Hannes has scooped them up in his arms, fleeing, knowing that if they stay, they’re goners too. The Titan grabs Eren’s mother. She struggles, clenched in its fist – but the Titan kills her brutally with its hands, then eats her lifeless body. Blood spurts everywhere. There’s a shot of the Titan grinning, looking satisfied as it swallows.
Rod Reiss’s Titan
Rod Reiss becomes a Titan when his daughter Historia breaks the syringe containing the serum and he licks it off the floor. As you do. His Abnormal Titan form could in fact be explained by the unusual way in which in which he ingests the serum, since it’s usually injected.
As a Titan, he’s huge but this is arguably the least terrifying thing about him. Seen initially crawling along the ground in an inhuman – almost insectoid – form, with a large torso, red welts or holes across his back, and disproportionately small head and limbs, he’s scary enough. But when he stands up at the wall – first we see his giant hand, which is shocking in itself – and his front becomes visible, it’s difficult to believe your eyes.
This terrifying Titan literally has no front. His torso is open, exposing his innards, and his rib cage is protruding like teeth. This was previously hidden as he slithered along the ground. As he steadies himself on the wall, gravity does its business: his guts spill out and over the top of the structure. His face is missing too, apparently worn away with friction. We see dripping blood and hollows where his eyes, nose and mouth should be; a truncated tongue and a bluntly eroded brain. Gruesome stuff.
In her Jaw Titan form, Ymir is conscious and able enough to communicate, which makes her a very unsettling proposition. She’s also able to partially emerge from her Titan form’s nape to interact. Disturbing, sure.
But it’s this combined with the impact of her initial transformation that makes her a must for this list. The build-up to the transformation is pitch perfect, so that when Ymir jumps over the turret (in slow motion) into the gathered throng of Titans below, we are ready for something truly dramatic. As she plummets, there’s a surge of electricity. Out of the sparking forks of light protrudes a horror-soaked image of a skeleton that swiftly evolves into a shrieking figure with red eyes and jagged teeth. Still dramatic, but also scary.
As the realisation dawns on Conny just who this terrifying Titan is that he comes across on his mission to his home village, a shiver runs down your spine (and his too, most likely). It’s creepy af.
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The Titan is deformed and unable to move, and lies atop the family home, the roof caved in. Wide-eyed, with a gaping mouth, you can simultaneously feel the presence and absence of Conny’s mom. There’s a sense of empathy for the Titan, too, that makes it all the more disturbing – we feel the horror of being transformed like this. The torture is real; it’s a hellish existence. Worse, though, it even utters the words, “Welcome home.” Ugh. Skin. Crawling.
The Staircase Titan
One thing Attack on Titan is masterful at is building tension, and teeing up Titans of whom we should be very afraid. When Reiner stumbles upon the Staircase Titan, it takes him by surprise – and consequently us too.
The sound stops, with the camera trained on the Titan’s face – it’s all wide eyes and grotesque grin, seemingly paused in this distorted, gnarled, monstrous countenance. It begins to move its mouth and eyes, and saliva forms in the corners as it parts its teeth. It seems to smile as it makes a sound almost like laughter. It’s an expression of joy at the prospect of sinking its jaws into its next meal of human meat.
The light from the flame of Reiner’s torch accentuates its craggy face. It breaks through the door. Even a fork in its face doesn’t stop it. An absolutely terrifying Titan.
The Talking Titan
Though we’ve heard Conny’s mom utter some words, and Ymir has shown she’s able to communicate as herself while in Titan form, we haven’t seen another Titan quite like the Talking Titan. It bows to Ilse Langnar, and talks in a slow and low booming tone as if its size slows its speech, a bit like Paul Rudd’s Giant-Man over in the MCU. The Titan refers to her as “a subject of Ymir”, and then addresses her as Lady Ymir. So far so freaky.
Ilse writes notes in her journal about it speaking words she can understand, but she’s clearly scared. It expresses emotions through its face as it bows before her. She’s not sure how she should feel or react, and neither are we. It starts to moan. Ilse asks it where it came from, but it doesn’t respond. She asks why it eats people. Again, no response. Instead, it starts pulling at the skin on its face as it seemingly battles the urge to eat her. Yet it cannot stop itself from chasing her when she runs, finally getting Ilse’s head between its teeth before it bites down and crushes her skull.
Able to open its jaws unnaturally wide, the distortion adds to the terror, as does its capacity for emotion, lacking in other Titans. Ultimately, though, its compulsion to eat Ilse overcomes its better judgment and it’s this that places the Talking Titan among the series’ most terrifying Titans.
The Beast Titan
Standing at over 17 meters tall, the Beast Titan has a disproportionately small head that sits on top of overly broad shoulders. Its body is covered in fur except for the middle section. This Titan is an Abnormal, with a distended abdomen adding to his distorted appearance. The Beast Titan walks, exhibiting atypical, unpredictable behaviour. It grabs a galloping horse, crushes it, then tosses it at Mike, sending him flying into the hands – and jaws – of a bug-eyed Titan.
“Wait,” says the Beast Titan. Everything goes chillingly quiet, as it pauses, sits down and watches. You know something serious is about to go down. The Titan in whose jaws Mike is clamped chomps down on his genitals. The Beast Titan speaks! “Didn’t I just say to wait?” he says, before promptly squeezing the smaller Titan’s head, and popping out his eyeball. Gross.
He addresses Mike, and asks about his equipment. He’s intelligent and understands that Mike is probably too frightened to answer. As Mike goes to attack, bravely, the Beast Titan orders the inferior Titans to make their move. The attack is savage. The Beast Titan watches, unmoved. “So you can speak,” he says before turning and walking away, and leaving Mike to his grisly fate.
Attack on Titan is currently available to stream on Crunchyroll.