Many fans of Attack on Titan have loved watching the story develop over the seasons, as more layers kept getting added to Eren’s world. People have praised Hajime Isayama’s storytelling and his ability to weave so many long-term plots together into a clean narrative.
Perhaps the best example of Isayama’s control over the storyline is the frankly amazing amount of foreshadowing seen in both Attack on Titan’s anime and manga. Here are some of our favourite examples seen in the anime so far.
Note: There will be spoilers below for the Attack on Titan anime up to the events of episode 80. We have avoided including any foreshadowing of the series’ ending, as already seen in the manga.
A Story 2,000 Years in the Making
When Attack on Titan first started as a manga in 2009, not much was made about the first chapter’s cryptic title, which was replicated in the anime:
“To You, 2,000 Years From Now”
However as backstories began to develop, people started to wonder what that title might mean, if anything at all.
Turns out that it meant quite a lot. In season four, we learn more about Ymir Fritz and Eren’s manipulation of the whole storyline by reaching back through time through the titans. Episode 80 (chapter 122 in the manga), when Eren makes contact with her, flips the title on its head:
“From You, 2000 Years Ago”
One of the show’s very first scenes is a young Eren sitting underneath a tree with Mikasa, where he wakes up from a nightmare.
For a show to open with a montage of big, scary action shots that are then played off as a dream is something of a trope to get viewers excited, so not much was made into it at first. However, given what we know now, that dream might be one of the most important moments of the entire show.
In Eren’s dream, he sees many things that come to pass in the future, such as a woman being lifted from the rubble by a titan - his mother being eaten is the standout moment of the episode. He also sees a lot of dead members of the Survey Corps, which even a vivid memory would struggle to recreate just from the few times he would have seen the soldiers before then.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from that dream, however, is the royal uniform that appears to be melting. It is believed that this uniform belonged to Helos, a mythical hero fabricated by King Fritz and the Tybur family to stoke hatred against the Eldians. This mythical character only exists on the other side of the sea, which Eren shouldn’t have known anything about unless someone reached out to him…
Reiner and the Female Titan
One of the big mysteries in the show is the identity of the nine titans, once we know that people are turning into them and terrorising Eren’s world. While the big reveal regarding Reiner and the wider plan doesn’t become clear until deep into seasons two and three, it’s foreshadowed quite a lot in season one.
One of the biggest examples is in episode 17, where the Female Titan is confronted by Armin, Jean and Reiner. In this episode, the Female Titan seemingly has Reiner in a death grip, only for him to magically escape. Reiner then has steam coming off the back of him as he escapes, while the Female Titan suddenly changes direction to head to Eren.
Eventually, it would be revealed that Annie, the Female Titan, was working with Reiner as the Armoured Titan and that they were exchanging information about Eren at this moment.
The third wheel of the mystery surrounding Annie and Reiner is Bertholdt, who is revealed as the Colossal Titan in season two. However, in the episode before, some eagle-eyed fans spotted a dead giveaway.
Trapped in a collapsing tower, Bertholdt can be seen lifting his thumb to his mouth. As most fans know at this point, titan powers are commonly activated by inflicting injury on oneself, so Bertholdt was likely getting ready to blow his cover to save himself. In the end, Ymir’s titan transformation meant that his secret was safe, albeit not for very long.
Related: Who are the Titan Shifters?
Eren’s Seabound Declaration
One of the biggest moments in the whole series is when Eren and his friends finally reach the ocean at the end of season three. What was expected to be a moment of celebration they talked about as kids, however, was a moment of concern for Eren.
While others played in the sand, Eren pointed across the ocean and asked “If we kill all of them out there, will we be free?”
This moment, of course, foreshadows most of the events of season four. However, up to this point, it wasn’t clear that Eren would enact such a violent plan, so this moment was largely overlooked as a simple dramatic statement.
There are even more foreshadowing moments than these out there - many of the show’s opening and ending credits are full of hints to the storyline. You’ll need to rewatch the entire show if you want to experience them all!