The Entire Attack On Titan Timeline Explained

"Attack On Titan" (or in its native Japanese, "Shingeki no Kyojin") initially seems like a simple story. The set-up of both Hajime Isayama's original manga and the anime adaptation is that for a century, humanity has lived behind three walls to protect them from the man-eating monsters, or Titans, outside. The main characters are part of the military designed to repel, or attack, these titans. It's not far off from a zombie apocalypse, only much worse than usual because the zombies are kaiju sized.

As the series goes on and the twists pile up, the series' mythology becomes much denser and the narrative more complex. "Attack on Titan" is always a war story, but along the way, it morphs from a man versus monster story where the only goal is survival into a political story where humankind's greatest enemy is itself. The title of the opening chapter (episode), "To You, In 2000 Years," hints at this grand tapestry right off the bat.

A theme of "Attack On Titan" is myths and how as they're passed down across generations, the truth is distorted along the way. Let's deconstruct these myths and lay out the "Attack on Titan" timeline, from beginning to end.

Spoilers for every published chapter and aired episode of "Attack on Titan" follow.

To You, In 2000 Years (1003 B1 to 990 B1)

The story of the Titans begins over 1800 years before the aforementioned premiere is set. The first Titan, a young girl named Ymir, once lived a provincial life in a small village. Everything changed when a warrior tribe called the Eldians attacked. The villagers were either killed or enslaved; Ymir was one of the "lucky" latter ones.

In the year 1003 BI (1848 years before "To You, In 2000 Years" begins in 845), Ymir let her masters' pigs escape. The Eldian King Fritz set her "free" but commanded his warriors to hunt her like an animal. The injured Ymir took refuge in an enormous tree, where she fell into a pool of water. She might have drowned if not for a mysterious creature resembling a cross between a centipede and disembodied nervous system. The creature bonded with Ymir, turning her into the first Titan.

Ymir's transformation spared her life, but she was still a slave. For the next 13 years, she joined conquests in King Fritz's name, bringing nations, including the sea-faring Marleyans, to heel with her power. She also became the king's concubine, bearing him three daughters: Rose, Maria, and Sheena.

Before we continue, let's talk about the real-world parallels. The brutal state of the ancient "AOT" world resembles the Viking age. The Eldians' outfits and culture are modeled on Germanic and Nordic tribes, while the ancient Marleyans seem more Greco-Roman. The Eldians' conquest of Marleyans is like the fall of Rome, only the Visigoths probably didn't have a giant woman helping them.

Ymir's own name is taken from the first giant of Norse mythology, while the tree where she is transformed is analogous to Yggdrasil, the tree which binds the nine realms in Norse myths.

Era of the Eldian Empire (990 B1 to Year 742)

13 years after Ymir became a Titan, she was killed saving Fritz from assassination by Marleyans. To preserve her power, Fritz fed her remains to their daughters. Filtered through generations, nine distinct Titans emerged. Ymir's own power became called the Founding Titan and was passed down through her and Fritz's direct descendants; only those of royal blood can wield its powers. There are eight others: the Attack Titan, the Armored Titan, the Colossal Titan, the Female Titan, the Jaw Titan, the Cart Titan, the Beast Titan, and the War Hammer Titan. Implicitly due to Ymir's own premature death, holders of Titan powers expire after 13 years. This resulted in ritualistic inheritance by way of cannibalism.

For the next millennium plus, the Eldians ruled the world with the power of Titans. The Nine are distributed among Eldian Nobles while "Pure" Titans (mindless, less powerful variants who can't change at will) become shock troops. Nations are either enslaved, like Marley, or become subordinate allies, such as Hizuru (an East-Asian-inspired country).

Particular events during the Eldian Empire's reign include an Eldian blitzkrieg against Marley in 371 B1 (dubbed the "Fall of Lago," the "Devastation of Monte," and the "Ravaging of Valle") and a plague outbreak in Year 240. The current Eldian king alters his people's biology with the Founding Titan's power, making them immune. This time span also sees the birth of the Ackerman clan, who thanks to scientific experimentation are super-soldiers in human form and become the royal family's bodyguards.

Centuries of uncontested Eldian rule led to civil war, where the holders of the nine vied for dominance. This "Great Titan War" spelled the empire's end.

Fall of the Eldians (Year 743)

The 145th Eldian King, Karl Fritz, is aghast by his people's legacy of violence and the suffering they've caused. To repent, he decides to orchestrate his own empire's fall. The King conspires in secret with the Tybur family, holders of the War Hammer Titan. Fritz and the Tyburs fabricate a story about a Marleyan named "Helos" slaying "the Devil of all Earth," the imagined, Marleyan version of the creature which gave Ymir her power.

The Tyburs then side with Marley against the remaining Eldian houses, while Fritz takes the royal family and many other Eldians to the island Paradis. Using the Founder's power, he creates millions of Colossal Titans who together form three walls: Maria, Rose, and Sheena. The Titans' "hardening" ability gives the walls the appearance of the stone. These walls are to keep both other nations out and the Eldians in.

Playing the part of a sore loser, Fritz warns the world that if they come to Paradis, he will break down the walls and unleash the Colossal Titans on the world. In truth, this is an empty threat. To make sure no Eldians venture outside the walls, Fritz erases his people's collective memory, making them believe they're the last of humanity and the Pure Titans outside the walls eradicated everyone else.

Not all of those inside the walls have their memories erased. The Ackermans prove immune, as does the family of a Hizuru shogun who came to Paradis (the Hizuruans are not "Subjects of Ymir" after all). These clans are then hunted to near extinction.

The walls of Paradis (Year 743 to 845)

Meanwhile, the royal family goes underground, placing a puppet king on the throne while they rule in secret as the "Reiss" family. For the next century, the Founding Titan and the memories of its holders are passed down through the Reiss family. Its holders thus inherit not just Karl Fritz's power, but also his pacifist ideology, ensuring that none of them ever set lose the Wall Titans to rebuild the Empire.

A military is established within the walls, made up of three branches: the military police, the Garrison Corps (focused on internal security), and the Survey Corps aka Scout Regiment (who venture beyond the walls to slay Titans). In the years 778-793 (chronicled in the "Before the Fall" light novels), Angel Aaltonen and Xenophon Harkimo develop Omni-directional mobility (ODM) gear, a gas-propelled grappling harness that enables Survey Corps members to fight Titans.

It's also during this century that the main characters in "Attack on Titan" are born. For one, the Ackerman clan barely endures. In Year 829, one of the last Ackermans, Kenny, befriends Uri Reiss. Kenny assumes the role of his ancestors as the royal family's bodyguard. Kenny then discovers his sister Kuchel died while working in a brothel and adopts her son Levi. Levi eventually abandons his uncle to become a street criminal.

In 835, Rod Reiss fathers an illegitimate daughter, Historia. The same year, another Ackerman marries a descendant of the Hizuru clan, merging the two bloodlines in their daughter Mikasa. Mikasa's parents are killed by slave traders in 844, but she is saved by a boy her age, Eren Yeager. The Yeagers adopt Mikasa, but there's more to this family than meets the eye.

Outside the walls (Year 743 to 845)

While the world stayed static within Paradis' walls, it didn't outside. With Marley now in possession of seven out of the nine Titans, they become the world's new superpower. Helos and the Devil of All Earth go from myth to history, while the Eldians left outside Paradis are pushed into internment zones, forced to wear identifying armbands, and treated as second-class citizens at best and vermin at worst.

The Marleyans keep the Eldians around for use in their Warrior program; Eldian children who inherit Titan powers and serve in Marley's military earn citizenship for themselves and their families (the War Hammer remains in the Tyburs' control). Defiant Eldians are punished by being sent to Paradis Island and transformed into the Pure Titans menacing their cousins inside the wall; in 785, Eldians called "the Cult of Ymir," including a young girl named after the Founder, suffer this fate.

In 806, Eldian Grisha Yeager is born in the Liberio internment zone. In 817, his younger sister Fay (born 809) is killed by Marleyans guards, pushing Grisha to join the "Eldian Restorationist" movement in 824. Grisha marries Dina Fritz, the last royal Eldian outside the walls, and has a son with her, Zeke, in 825. The Yeagers push Zeke to become a warrior, but at the advice of his mentor Tom Ksaver, Zeke sells his parents out in 832.

All the Restorationists bar Grisha are made into Titans on Paradis. Grisha is saved by Marleyan officer Kruger, a secret Eldian and holder of the Attack Titan. Kruger passes the Attack Titan to Grisha and sends him to the Walls to claim the Founding Titan from the Reiss family. Between 832 and 835, Grisha marries Carla Yeager and becomes the doctor in Shiganshina, an outlying district of Wall Maria.

New warriors (Year 842 to 845)

Back in Marley, the government begins to plot the invasion of Paradis, both to claim the Founding Titan and the island's resources. Zeke inherits the Beast Titan from Ksaver in 842, and leads the next generation of Warriors, selected the following year: Annie Leonhart the Female Titan (born 834), Reiner Braun the Armored Titan (born 833), Bertholdt Hoover the Colossal Titan, Pieck Finger the Cart Titan, and Marcel Galliard the Jaw Titan.

In 844, Levi joins the Survey Corps alongside his friends Isabel Magnolia and Furlan Church. The latter two are killed by Titans during the 23rd Exterior Scouting Mission. Levi's closest friends become Survey Corps Commander Erwin Smith and his fellow recruit the giddy, Titan-obsessed mad scientist Hange Zoë.

In 845, Reiner, Annie, Bertholdt, and Marcel are sent to Paradis to begin the invasion. Before they reach the walls, the pure Titan that was once Ymir attacks them and eats Marcel. Ymir inherits the power of the Jaw Titan and regains her human form, but the Warriors run away before they can witness this. Annie and Bertholdt consider abandoning the mission but Reiner implores them to push forward.

Fall of Shiganshina (Year 845)

The plot of "Attack on Titan" begins here. Transforming into the Colossal Titan, Bertholdt breaks down the wall of Shiganshina. Pure Titans pour into the city, among them the former Dina Fritz, and devour the populace. Eren, Mikasa, and their friend Armin Arlert (born 834) escape but Carla is killed by the Dina Fritz Titan. As the Shiganshina survivors run behind Wall Maria, Reiner, as the Armored Titan, breaks a hole in that wall, forcing all of humanity to retreat behind Wall Rose.

Grisha, who'd been away from Shiganshina, learns what happened and attacks the Reiss family. Grisha eats Frieda Reiss to inherit the Founding Titan and kills all the others, barring Rod Reiss. Grisha tracks down Eren at a refugee camp and takes him to a remote forest. He gives Eren the key to the basement of their home, which contains proof of the outside world and Grisha's old life in Marley, then injects Eren with Titan spinal fluid, turning his son into a Pure Titan. Eren eats Grisha and gains the Founding and Attack Titans from his father, but blocks out the memory.

Rod Reiss visits Historia, now his only surviving family, but due to Kenny Ackerman's objections to her illegitimate status, Reiss sends her to live among the refugees, now named "Krista Lenz."

Lull and training (Year 845 to 850)

The Warriors decide to infiltrate Paradis society to find the Founding Titan, meaning the next five years go by without anyone seeing the Colossal or Armored Titans. Ymir also makes her way to Wall Rose and blends in. In 846, the Paradis government sends a doomed expedition to reclaim Wall Maria. The true purpose of the operation is to cull population size down to a level that the remaining food supplies can sustain.

During these five years, Levi attains a reputation as humanity's greatest soldier. By 850, he's reached the rank of Captain and commands his own squad (Eld Jinn, Petra Ral, Oluo Bozado, and Gunther Schultz).

In 847, the 104th Training Corp begins boot camp under instructor Keith Shadis. The class includes the Shiganshina trio, the undercover Marleyan warrior trio, Historia ("Krista") and Ymir, plus Jean Kirstein, Connie Springer, Sasha Braus, and Marco Brott. The 104th Corp graduates in 850, with most of the main characters ranking in the top 10 of the class and joining the Survey Corps.

Victory at Trost (early 850)

Most of the 104th Corps is assigned to Trost, an outlying district of Wall Rose. Now that their training is complete, the Warriors decide to make their next attack; Bertholdt turns into the Colossal Titan and smashes a hole in the wall. After a brief confrontation with Eren, the Colossal Titan retreats as Titans pour into Trost like they did Shiganshina five years earlier.

On the first day of fighting, Eren is eaten by a Titan, but in its stomach, his own Titan abilities activate. Eren mindlessly attacks the other Titans, allowing the 104th survivors to gain the upper hand before Levi and Hange's squads arrive.

After the truth about Eren is discovered, he is initially sentenced to execution. After some convincing, the military (led by Garrison Commander Dot Pixis) instead decides to use his ability. As the Attack Titan, Eren lifts an enormous boulder, Atlas holding up the Earth style, and uses it to seal the hole in the wall. Humanity achieves its first victory over the Titans. As Eren completes his task, Marco overhears Reiner and Bertholdt conspiring. Alongside Annie, they steal Marco's ODM gear and leave him to be eaten by a Titan.

The 57th Expedition (early 850)

The remaining Titans are cleared out of Trost, with two being captured for Hange's experiments. Five days after the battle of Trost, Commander-in-Chief Darius Zackly reprimands Eren to the Survey Corps' custody. The Warriors, having faced a setback, decide to capture Eren. A week after Trost, Annie and Reiner kill Hange's test subject Titans ("Sonny" and "Bean").

Over the next month, Eren tests his Titan abilities under Hange's supervision. Under Erwin's command, the Survey Corps then embarks on the 57th expedition outside the walls. Annie, as the Female Titan, ambushes the scouts. She kills Levi's squad (barring the Captain himself) and defeats Eren, abducting his human form before being defeated in turn by Mikasa and Levi.

The Scouts return from the expedition and the 104th corps is divided. Most are placed under the command of squad leader Mike Zacharias at Wall Rose. Rightfully suspecting Annie is the Female Titan, the Shiganshina Trio and the Survey Corps leadership attempt to capture her two days after their return. The battle between Eren and Annie in the Stohess District of Wall Sheena causes much destruction and ends with Annie sealing herself in a crystalline cocoon. Damage to Wall Sheena reveals a Titan's face inside, offering the Paradis humans the first hint of the wall's true nature.

Clash of the Titans (early 850)

The same day as the Stohess battle, Marleyan soldiers make landfall in Paradis and turn the village of Ragako into pure Titans, who Zeke commands as the Beast Titan. Hange's interrogation of a local minister, Nick, about the Titan in the wall is interrupted when Scouts misreport Zeke's Titans as a sign that Wall Rose has been breached. Commander Zacharias is killed by the Beast Titan while his squad rests at the nearby castle Utgard. That night, they're attacked by Titans: the only survivors are Reiner, Bertholdt, "Krista," and Ymir, thanks to the latter revealing her Titan powers. Historia reveals her true name to Ymir afterward.

The Survey corps arrives from Stohess and brings the Utgard survivors to Wall Rose, where the Garrison corps reveals there's no breach. Reiner and Bertholdt reveal themselves and abduct Eren and Ymir. Five hours later, the Scouts and Garrison, led by Erwin Smith, set out to Wall Maria to rescue the Titan shifters.

They succeed in rescuing Eren, but Ymir decides to stay with Reiner and Bertholdt. To cut off the Scouts' escape, Reiner throws Pure Titans at them, including the Smiling Titan that ate Eren's mother. When Eren attacks the Smiling Titan, he's able to command the other Titans to eat it; Dina Fritz's royal blood triggered the power of the founder in Eren.

40 soldiers from the Scouts and Garrison survive (Erwin loses his right arm to a Titan bite) and return to Wall Rose, while the shifters continue to Wall Maria. Ymir is shipped back to Marley and devoured by Porco Galliard so he can inherit the Jaw Titan, but leaves behind a letter for Historia with Reiner.

Uprising (mid 850)

Over the next week, the remaining Titans inside Wall Rose are killed. Hange and Connie realize they were the inhabitants of Ragako, Connie's hometown. Meanwhile, Levi takes the remaining 104th Training Corps members as his new squad; the team hides out in a cabin to protect Eren and Historia.

The two weeks after that are eventful ones for the Survey Corps. After Nick is killed and Erwin summoned to the capital, Levi's squad realizes they're in danger and they flee the cabin. Erwin and Pixis begin plotting a coup, planning to put Historia on the throne, while in Trost, Levi's squad is ambushed by a military police team led by Kenny (and working for Rod Reiss). Kenny's team manages to abduct Eren and Historia and kill the merchant Dimo Reeves, framing the Survey Corps for it and officially turning them into fugitives.

In the capital, Erwin is sentenced to execution by the puppet king's advisors, before a Garrison Corps member (acting at Pixis' command) brings false news that Wall Rose has fallen. The assembly orders the gates of Wall Sheena shut. Erwin, Pixis, and Zackly use this to rally support and seize control of the government.

The Survey Corp attack a MP base and learn the location of Eren and Historia from a prisoner. In an underground chapel, Rod Reiss tries to convince his daughter to eat Eren and become the founder, but she refuses. Levi's squad attacks, ultimately defeating Kenny and his team. Reiss drinks Titan spinal fluid meant for Historia and becomes an enormous Titan headed for Trost. The Survey corps managed to slay him before he damages the city. Levi locates a dying Kenny, who gives him a vial of Titan spinal fluid.

22 days after the 57th expedition, Historia is crowned queen of Paradis.

Wall Maria reclaimed (mid to late 850)

Over the next two months, as Queen Historia opens an orphanage, Hange guides the invention of "Thunder Spears," rockets which can be affixed to and launched from the arm harnesses of ODM gears, and "The Executioner from Hell," a large guillotine-like device for killing Titans that is built into the walls across Paradis. After these two months, a squad of a hundred soldiers, led by Erwin Smith, ride to Shiganshina to reclaim it. The Warriors, now joined by Pieck, decide to rally at Shiganshina to claim the Founding Titan from Eren.

The Battle of Shiganshina unfolds over a single day, and it's a pyrrhic victory for Paradis. The warriors are defeated (Zeke by Levi, Reiner by Hange and Mikasa, and Bertholdt by Eren and Armin), but all except Bertholdt escape thanks to Pieck's Cart Titan form. Only eight of the Paradis soldiers (Eren, Mikasa, Levi, Hange, Jean, Connie, Sasha and new recruit Floch Forster) survive. Both Erwin and Armin are mortally wounded, and Levi ultimately uses the spinal fluid to save Armin, letting his friend rest.

The Titan Armin eats Bertholdt and inherits the Colossal Titan. As the others recuperate, Eren, Mikasa, Levi, and Hange make it to the Yeagers' basement and unlock it, discovering the secrets of the outside world within. The Warriors return to Marley and find that, due to their failure and loss of two Titans, the country now faces a war with the Mid-East Alliance.

The Survey Corps survivors return and are honored by Queen Historia. Over the next year, Paradis is completely rid of Titans and the lands of Wall Maria repopulated. In 851, Levi's Squad sets out on a new expedition, reaching the shores of Paradis and seeing the ocean for the first time.

Infiltration of Marley (Year 851 to 854)

Marley spends the next four years at war, with the surviving Warriors and next generation (Gabi Braun, Colt and Falco Grice, Udo, and Zofia) fighting on the front lines under the command of Theo Magath. Marley is too preoccupied to send more than lone scout ships to Paradis, allowing the island to advance. All the while, Zeke sets into motion plans for a reunion with his brother and the sterilization of the Eldian race.

In 851, the Survey Corps capture the Marleyan ships sent to Paradis. On them is a group in league with Zeke, led by Yelena and all from the subject countries of Marley. Yelena passes along Zeke's "supposed" plan: give the Founding Titan to Historia, let loose some of the Wall Titans on Marley as a show of strength, and dissuade anyone from attacking Paradis, giving the island time to catch up technologically. Eren objects to the plan because it would doom Historia and her children.

The next year, envoys from Hizuru, led by noble Kiyomi Azumabito, arrive on Paradis to form an alliance. Azumabito gives the Paradisians technology to build a railway and reveal Mikasa's heritage to her. The railway is completed in 853, after which the scouts (Eren, Mikasa, Armin, Jean, Connie, Sasha, Levi, and Hange) decide to visit Marley undercover.

Eren breaks off from the scouts and meets with Zeke. The younger Yeager seemingly agrees with his brother's "Eldian euthanization" plan, but in truth is manipulating him for access to a Titan of royal blood. In late 853 to early 854, Historia chooses to have a child, selecting a worker from her orphanage as the father.

War for Paradis (Year 854)

In 854, Marley prevails over the Mid-East alliance and Willy Tybur enters the spotlight, inviting international dignitaries to Marley and staging a play in the Liberio internment zone. During the performance, one month after the war's end, Willy reveals the truth about his family and King Fritz to win support for an invasion of Paradis.

Posing as a soldier named Kruger, Eren befriends Falco and uses him to send letters to both Zeke and his friends on Paradis. The night of Willy's play, Eren has Falco lure Reiner away while Yelena does the same for Pieck and Porco. With the Warriors incapacitated, Eren transforms into the Attack Titan, killing Willy, Udo, Zophia, and Marley's military brass. Willy's sister Lara reveals herself as the War Hammer Titan, but Eren and the arriving Scouts are able to defeat her and the warriors. In the Liberio harbor, Armin transforms into the Colossal Titan, wiping out the Marleyan navy. Eren eats Lara, gaining the War Hammer's powers, and the Scouts, Zeke, and Yelena flee aboard a stolen blimp. Gabi and Falco sneak aboard, with the former shooting Sasha before being captured.

On Paradis, Eren is imprisoned for the unauthorized attack while Zeke is placed under Levi's watch. Over the next month, a new group of Eldian restorationists aka "Yeagerists," led by Floch, seize power on Paradis, assassinating Zackly and freeing Eren. The Yeagerists cow the military by revealing the wine they've been drinking was poisoned with Zeke's spinal fluid.

Marley attacks Shiganshina with a fleet of airships. The battle goes back and forth, with Eren leading from the front lines against the Warriors. Zeke arrives and transforms the infected Paradisians into pure Titans. Gabi shoots Eren's head off as he runs towards Zeke, but they make contact before Eren expires.

The Rumbling (Year 854 to 857)

Eren and Zeke awaken in "the paths," or the dimension where Ymir's soul resides and where time passes much more slowly. After a trip through the memories of their father and Ymir the Founder, Eren convinces the latter to give him control of the Founding Titan. Eren breaks down the walls of Paradis and telepathically announces to all Eldians his plan to destroy all life outside Paradis.

Hange gathers the 104th Corps survivors and the remaining Marleyan warriors (including Annie, who was freed when Eren undid Titan hardening) into an alliance to stop the Rumbling. As Eren and the Wall Titans reach Marley, the alliance steals a Hizuru flying boat from the Yeagerists, then make a detour to Hizuru to repair it. Along the way, Magath, Shadis, Floch, then finally Hange are all killed.

Now we enter manga-only territory, though the anime will certainly be following the same story. The fourth and final day of the Rumbling is known as the Battle of Heaven and Earth. Levi kills Zeke to sever Eren's control over the Wall Titans, while the others then blow Eren's head off of the Founding Titan. Armin, as the Colossal Titan, duels Eren before Mikasa decapitates him. This kills the centipede creature as well, ending the power of Titans.

As Mikasa cradles Eren's head, Armin recalls a conversation he had with Eren in the Paths; Eren knew what he was doing, and was playing the villain in order to rid the world of Titans and end prejudice against Eldians by making his friends into heroes. With these words on his mind, Armin declares he killed Eren.

On Paradis, Historia gives birth to the first child of Ymir's bloodline free of Titan influence in two thousand years.

The cycle continues (Year 857 to the future)

80% of the world's populace was wiped out in the Rumbling. Over the next three years, the former shifters (Armin, Reiner, Annie, Pieck) are made into Marleyan ambassadors alongside Connie and Jean. In 857, they return to Paradis. Levi chooses to settle in Marley, while Mikasa returns to Shiganshina and buries Eren under a tree they played on as children. Over the next decades, Mikasa starts a family and occasionally brings them to visit Eren's grave.

The last few pages of "Attack on Titan" Chapter 139 jump forward generations across panels. Mikasa dies of old age in roughly Year 915. At least a few decades after that, Paradis has reached 21st-century technology level and Shiganshina is now made up of modern skyscrapers. Alas, war has again come to the island: a fleet of aerial bombers destroy the city as part of a new, unknown conflict. Even as buildings fall, the tree stands.

More decades pass and the rubble of Shiganshina is reclaimed by the forest. One day, a child and their dog hike through the ruins and come to the base of the tree, now a cavern, like the one Ymir found all those centuries ago. The end of one war is not the end of mankind's capacity to wage war, personified by the Titans. The cycle of violence is bound by an unbreakable chain, one that's reached long past the two thousand years that "Attack on Titan" spans.