After running for an entire decade, the Attack on Titan anime has finally (for real this time) come to an end which is as tragic as expected, and we're here to explain everything that went down in case you missed some beats.Spoilers ahead for Attack on Titan season 4, part 3, episodes 1 & 2
No, there aren't any major departures from the manga and its divisive ending in the Attack on Titan series finale, so reading through this brief guide is safe for those who've finished the manga and simply want to know how the anime handled the same story arc and its conclusion.
What happened in the Attack on Titan series finale?
The final episode starts with the last of humanity doing everything in their power to stop former hero Eren and the Rumbling. He's commanded an army of gigantic Titans to stomp across the entire planet and murder everyone they encounter. If you can't remember, he became the Founding Titan and wants to stop all the endless wars that have plagued humanity... and the Eldians in particular. His proposed (and executed) solution? Starting the apocalypse. Understandably, his friends aren't too big on that idea and decide he must be stopped, no matter the cost.
"The Battle of Heaven and Earth" rages on, and Levi finally kills the Beast Titan aka Eren's brother, Zeke. Before this, however, Armin's words convinced Zeke to enlist the help of his predecessors to battle against Eren. This buys them just enough time for Jean and the Cart Titan to blow Eren's Titan head off. As a result, Eren's connection with Ymir is severed, so the Rumbling stops, halting all the Titans in their tracks. The glowing parasite that's responsible for the power of the Titans wants to reunite with Eren, but is stopped by the fighters, all while Armin fends off Eren in his Colossal Titan form. At this point, Mikasa realises that Eren's body is hidden inside the Titan's mouth.
Smashing through the Titan's front teeth, Mikasa finally decapitates the man she's always loved. Before his head is severed, the two exchange a look of love and Mikasa kisses Eren. Ymir seems impressed by Mikasa's decision to kill Eren for the greater good and chooses to no longer "power" the Titans. After the battle, we learn that Eren contacted his friends within the Paths mindscape before the fight was over, wanting to explain why he set the Rumbling in motion. When Eren gained all his new power, it appears he also developed the ability to see into the future. He thought he had to become the villain he saw in that future in order to save Paradis and make the world see his friends as heroes. This would redeem the Eldians of their sins in the eyes of everyone who survived.
Eren also confesses his true feelings for Mikasa after all this time, and they get to spend some time together in a cabin, yet we know none of this is real. Back in the real-world present, Titans all transform back into humans, but the surviving non-Titan humans are still worried. Armin manages to calm them down though, and peace ensues... for now. Mikasa leaves with Eren's head and buries it under the tree in Shiganshina District where the story began for us.
Sadly, we learn the world is still not free from war. Even though 80% of humanity is gone by his hand, Eren is held up as a martyr by the remaining Yeagerists, who are preparing for war from their stronghold in Eldia. Three years later, Armin and the others are on a ship to Eldia, hoping to negotiate peace with the warring parties.
What does the Attack on Titans post-credits scene mean?
The epic ending to the series is already tragic enough before the credits roll, but the last scene we get reminds us that conflict between humans is inevitable. Years roll by until war erupts again in the area where Eren's head was buried under a tree. After fighting ceases and the environment becomes post-apocalyptic, a boy wearing a scarf remarkably similar to Mikasa's ventures into an opening under the tree... This might seem like an odd ending, but it mirrors what happened to Ymir the Founder two millennia prior. The cycle begins anew?
If you tuned out way before the series finale and want to catch up and watch the epic story unfold for yourself (or if you never jumped on the anime), check our watch order guide for the entirety of Attack on Titan.