Titans (巨人 Kyojin?, lit. "Giant") are the primary antagonists in the Attack on Titan series. They are a mysterious race of humanoid giants that appeared roughly 100 years ago (107 years is the most specific number given during Eren Yeager's training) and rapidly exterminated humanity to the point of near-extinction. If put into a calculable perspective, the Titans first appeared between Years 728 and 743. Their origins, overall numbers, and how their physiology works remains a mystery at this point in the story.
AppearanceTitans greatly resemble human beings in that they are bipedal creatures with the same number and arrangement of limbs and features one would expect in human beings. They are all deformed by human standards to a greater or lesser degree, ranging from minor abnormalities in proportions (enlarged head, small limbs etc.) to apparently lacking skin and subcutaneous tissues, although they do not bleed from such deformities, indicating that they perhaps possess some other mechanism to compensate for this. The vast majority of Titans are masculine, although all Titans lack sex organs, and their method of reproduction (if any) is currently unknown.
Titans almost universally possess widened mouths with an enormous number of small, square teeth, though some have been known to possess only canines. Still, the majority of Titans have been shown to lack canines, although possibly not incisors and use incisors in their primary activity – eating humans. They apparently do not possess a complete or functioning digestive tract, merely a stomach-like cavity that eventually fills up with what they swallow, forcing them to regurgitate after consuming a certain amount before being able to continue eating more humans they encounter in their rampage.
Titans are compelled to seek out and devour humans for reasons currently unknown, as they do not derive any real sustenance from them; they did not taste human flesh for nearly a century after the walls went up, but this did not affect their activity or numbers. It should also be noted that once a Titan has filled what passes for its stomach with dead humans, it regurgitates them in a giant ball and continues eating more as soon as possible.
It should be noted, as mentioned above, that Titans eat humans for no other apparent purpose than killing them. They ignore all other animals and any non-human forms of life. It appears to be a mere will to slay, perhaps triggered by a hormonal response of some sort, and almost all Titans act solely based on it.
Most Titans have no intelligence at all and many are simply mindless beasts, easy to trick, distract or deceive. However, some Titans, mostly Titan Shifters, possess a vast level of intelligence comparable to or exceeding an experienced and cunning human. For example, the Female Titan and, to a lesser extent, the Colossal Titan display intelligence, a trait which is not found in an ordinary Titan.
The Beast Titan is introduced as the first fully aware and intelligent Titan and the only one to have any attribute related to cognition. It implies that it and its kind are placed far above humans, and it shows little regard for them other than taking interest in the 3D Maneuver Gear and their tactics and wondering whether it and human beings share the same language. It plans to bring the gear back somewhere to study, suggesting that there are other intelligent Titans. It also implies Titans are divided into classes, with its class being the rarest of all.
The most dangerous aspect of the Titans is their unpredictability. They do not follow a strict set of guidelines and have seemed to increase in abilities and attributes as the series goes on. After the supposed breach of Wall Sina, Titans were seen moving in the dead of night when they should be inactive, traits they normally do not express.
The Titans' body structure and power source are very mysterious and they apparently violate several known laws of science, seemingly capable of spontaneously generating both energy and mass. Their extremely high level of activity and body temperature indicates the need for a massive intake of energy to fuel them, yet they apparently never need to eat at all. They do seem to become less active at night or if deprived of sunlight, and so it may be possible they draw their primary source of energy from the sun. Individual Titans seem to possess varying levels of stamina once deprived of sunlight; the captured Titan 'Sonny' became docile and near comatose after only an hour's deprivation, while fellow captive 'Bean' maintained a high level of activity three hours after last seeing sunlight.
Titans' bodies also seem unusually light for such large creatures - a severed arm is described as weighing almost nothing, and they are able to move at high speeds despite their size. Due to their size, Titans possess enormous strength and when combined with this lightness, they can put on amazing bursts of speed and agility.
In addition to their size, speed, strength and large numbers, Titans also possess incredible regenerative abilities - the only sure-fire way to kill them is by slicing out the nape of the back of the neck. They regenerate lost and damaged body parts within seconds to minutes, including severed heads (although there are rare instances where the head will not regenerate). It should be noted that the vulnerable area is where the real human body would be for shape-shifting Titans, as proven by Eren Yeager. After death, Titan corpses rapidly evaporate to skeletal remains, then to nothing at all.
How Titans react to pain stimuli varies from one to another. Many Titans will utterly ignore injuries which would be agonizingly painful to a human, such as losing limbs, being impaled through the heart, or having their eyes gouged out (even if such injuries will soon regenerate). In combat, some Titans will completely ignore armed humans who are attacking them, and simply proceed to attempt to eat whichever human is closest to them. Others seem vaguely aware of humans who are attacking them, and if injured will have a reaction that might be pain but more accurately seems like simple annoyance. Some actually do seem to react in pain and shout when they are injured. In Hange's experiments, Bean shrieked in pain when she gouged out his eyes with a heated metal spear, but Sonny seemed oblivious to the fact that she had impaled him through the heart region using a spear.
Types of Titans
Titans are classified according to their size and abilities. The following are lists of various known Titans so far in the series.
Roughly three meters to six meters in height, these Titans tend to be more human-looking, possessing large heads in proportion to their bodies. So far, none of this type have displayed any intelligence or unusual abilities.
Notable Titans of this type:
These types of Titans have very large heads with a semi-quadrupedal, ape-like stance. Arguably the most common Titan class.
Notable Titans of this type:
These Titans resemble humans the most. They seem to be more energetic and physically fit than other Titans.
Notable Titans of this type:
|Among the largest of the Titans, these Titans have more proportional bodies but with also grossly enlarged mouths.|
|Any Titan that displays abnormal behavior or intelligence is classed as Deviant type. Unlike most Titans which mindlessly attack and devour humans on sight, Deviant types often ignore nearby humans and charge to more important locations where they can do more damage. Some Deviant types possess noticeable physical deformations, such as lacking skin in certain areas or carrying less weight than others.|
|First discovered inside Wall Sina when the Female Titan tries to escape over it. These type of Titans have a similar appearance to the Colossal Titan and can be found inside the walls. Although they appear to be alive, they are weakened and immobile due to lack of sunlight.|
Titan Shifters are humans capable of transforming into Titans who have various unusual traits and skills that can be honed and directed with purpose. These Titans are usually stronger and/or faster than typical ones and retain their intelligence during a controlled transformation. They generally don't have any deformations that hinder their skills, and often resemble their human "pilot." A skilled Titan Shifter can more quickly and regenerate parts of their body just by focusing, and even discard their body entirely and regain a new Titan form within minutes.
Notable Titans of this type:
|Appears first during the breach of Wall Rose. This Titan is at least 17 meters tall. Its appearance is similar to that of an ape and its body is covered in hair. It has incredibly long arms, (over 2/3 its body length) and is capable of climbing the walls. It possesses intelligence and is capable of talking to humans. It doesn't seem to have the same weakness to lack of sunlight as typical Titans. It can intimidate other typical Titans into submission, as well as manipulate them to move and attack during the night.|
In the aftermath of the destruction of Ragako, the true nature of the Titans is discovered. The investigation performed by Hange Zoë reveals that the villagers had been transformed into Titans by some unknown means, as a captured Titan is discovered to have once been Connie Springer's mother. Examination of test subjects show that no human body remains within the nape, but Hange speculates that the spinal cord operates as an organ separate from the main Titan body. As such, it is concluded that most Titans have completely absorbed the human within, leaving only the central nervous system intact as the means of controlling the Titan body. The method used to slay Titans is revealed to sever the upper vertebrate of the human "pilot" (or what remains of them), effectively killing them via decapitation.
It is stated by Ymir that the Beast Titan is the one responsible for transforming the villagers of Ragako, though the method employed remains a mystery. It is also unknown how Titan Shifters avoid being absorbed by their Titan form, possibly a result of more advanced methods. It is theorized by Dot Pixis to be the only difference between Titan Shifters like Eren Yeager and regular Titans.
Hange theorizes that Titans can absorb abilities from their victims, allowing an ordinary Titan to regain human form by devouring a Titan Shifter. This was discovered when Ymir, then a regular Titan, devoured the young Titan Shifter Marcel and regained human form. Hange theorizes that not only can Titan Shifting be transferred this way, but other unique traits such as Eren's Coordinate ability could be transferred in the same fashion.