Attack on Titan three-timeline theory suggests anime-original ending to be the overall conclusion of series

Ymir and the paths lay at the heart of Attack on Titan's latest theory (Image via MAPPA Studios)
Ymir and the paths lay at the heart of Attack on Titan's latest theory (Image via MAPPA Studios)

Recently, Reddit and Twitter have come alive with theories regarding an anime-original ending for Attack on Titan’s TV adaptation. While sparking some debate between those who felt the manga’s ending adequate and those who feel otherwise, the theory is fairly sensible.

The latest Attack on Titan anime-original ending theory claims there are three timelines in the Attack on Titan story. Essentially, there is the manga-ending timeline, a yet-confirmed anime-original ending timeline, and a third timeline, in which Eren and Mikasa run away together.

Follow along as this article explains the latest Attack on Titan theory in its entirety.

New Attack on Titan ending theory is shockingly sensible

Attack on Titan's first timeline

Common Theory: How do you guys feel about the three different timelines theory in AOT? To sum it up, we’ve seen patterns of 3’s foreshadowed throughout the animanga, with three timelines, Armin’s solution: Manga, Mikasa’s solution: Reset TL, and Eren’s solution: Possibly Anime?

As aforementioned, the latest Attack on Titan theory claims the series to have three separate timelines. While this may seem confusing, the theory does wrap everything up very nicely in its conclusion. Yet where does this theory even start, if it claims the series has three timelines?

The first timeline exists as a result of Mikasa choosing to be truthful with Eren about her feelings while they’re in Marley. This occurs during the time-skip, and the conversation is seen in a flashback near the end of Attack on Titan. In this flashback, fans see her hide her true feelings, saying Eren is family instead.

So, the first timeline differentiates itself by being the one where Mikasa shares her true feelings. Essentially, everything up to this point in the timeline happens as it does in the manga, with the difference being their abandoning the war effort.

This leads to the memories seen in chapter 138, where Eren lives out the rest of his life with her, and dies at their home.

Considering that Isayama made an story with such a specific start, it’s weird to think that he was not planning what the start means. And we put that in the end of the manga. That means that e start and the end was already planned. Not the details, but the major idea.

Fans will remember that she specifically says “see you later” as he dies, an interesting choice of words for the last thing you’ll say to someone. Fans will also remember Eren’s expression to be noticeably sleepy during the scene. While he is dying, and it could be a result of his weakened body, this seems too deliberate to be a coincidence.

This seems especially too deliberate to be a coincidence when analyzing the manga’s first chapter. As Eren awakes in the series’ opening pages, he sees an image of the scene flashing before his eyes. He even remembers it upon awakening, pointing out the difference in length of Mikasa’s hair.

Eren also awakens here in a sitting position, with a sleepy expression. This mirrors exactly how he dies in the original timeline, which is the “dream” he has just awoken from.

However, he doesn’t seem to realize that these are memories, simply calling it a “long dream” instead. The only detail he can remember is his final moments, seeing Mikasa with shorter hair.

Attack on Titan's second timeline

Mikasa noticed what happened there. She noticed that she saw Eren at the same position that in the memory he gave her, that’s why she remembered just before seeing the memory of the other timeline. She decided to kill him because she already did what she wanted to: livd with him.

From this point on, the manga events occur as they do from chapter one, up to and through a portion of chapter 138. This comprises the second timeline, which further differentiates itself from the other two once Eren has been killed.

Mikasa meets Ymir in the aftermath of the Battle of Heaven and Earth, and starts a conversation with her. Strangely, she talks to her as if she knows her, even revealing details about her life that only Ymir herself could know. The most prominent example of this is the truth of her death.

In reality, King Fritz never survived the assassination attempt, leaving Ymir alive with her three daughters. It’s also heavily implied that Ymir’s love was actually for her children, not for King Fritz.

As you saw in the panel above, Isayama forced the idea that Eren was sitting o the tree, just like the first chapter. He is sitting and wakes up peacefully, at the same position of the memory from 138. And just after waking up, he asks Mikasa why her hair is not short.

The final implication of this revelation is that Ymir had her own children eat her body, as a way of creating the Paths that would allow them to be together forever. In other words, the reason Ymir never wanted to end the Paths or the Titan curse was because it would destroy her paradise.

The reality Ymir showed Eren, of her dying and King Fritz having her children eat her, was a falsified vision. She did this to use him for her cause, ensuring she accomplished her own goals in the end. However, Mikasa was able to know reality, the true reality, because of her royal blood.

While her having royal blood may seem sudden and baseless, Mikasa specifically says to Ymir that she only exists because the latter brought her children into the world. Even if just as a distant relative, the implication here is that Mikasa has royal blood in some way.

But that's why we could only understand that with the last 2 chapters. 138: We discover that another timeline happened before the manga.139: Here the fun begins:

When Eren uses his Founding Titan abilities for the first times, he does so twice. One is when he makes contact with Dina Fritz, and the other is when he is making contact with Mikasa. This serves as further evidence that she has royal blood, especially when Eren makes a point of telling Zeke they must touch to combine their powers.

Nevertheless, Attack on Titan continues this timeline’s ending. Mikasa returns Eren to the tree where the story begins, burying his head where he used to always nap. At this point, it’s well established that Mikasa is accessing information in the general time loops via her royal blood.

This functions similarly to Eren accessing memories through Ymir. It also explains her comment of “see you later,” as well as her knowing who Ymir is and her life. However, her comment to Ymir about her being the one who was always “peeking into my mind” shows Mikasa didn’t always know this.

This timeline ends as the Attack on Titan manga ends; Eren is implied to be reincarnated via a bird, and while his friends live their lives, Paradis is eventually destroyed.

Going back to the first timeline, fans may also remember a similarly-designed white bird flying above Eren and Mikasa.

Attack on Titan's third timeline and the time-paradox

In 2013 the anime adaptation started. But started differently:Eren is laying down in grass. He have a weird nightmare and wakes up scared. And asks Mikasa: Why are you here?…

This, in turn, brings us to the third timeline. However, along with that arrival, we reach a third revelation: there were no timelines at all. Both the first and second timelines are based not in reality, but in the Paths, as exploratory tales Eren observes via the white bird.

When Eren acquires the Founding Titans powers, they combine with the Attack Titan’s Future Sight in an extraordinary way. Eren merges these two powers to create two separate timelines, neither of which are based on reality, which he observes by becoming a bird.

In the first timeline’s ending, he sends the second timeline version of himself information on what occurred. For the second timeline’s ending, he sends the third timeline version of himself, the real Eren, information from both.

Always, of this moment in anime, i've tought: If the anime starts different from the manga, probably Isayama made some mistake or something, or the WIT Studio fucked up. Well, that's when Isayama put the Reverse Card at the table.

The time-paradox of how he got the Founding Titan’s powers proves the first timeline doesn’t exist. In reality, Eren influenced Grisha into giving him the Founding Titan’s powers.

However, in the first timeline, he runs away with Mikasa before he’s able to influence Grisha this way. Yet, he still has Titan powers in this first timeline.

As a result, these memories have to be of an alternative, made-up reality within the Paths. This is caused by Eren in the Paths, who in reality has already acquired the Founding Titan. The first timeline acts as a way for him to see the outcome of his decisions as he wants to make them, allowing him to essentially test-run the course of action.

The second timeline acts as a way for Eren to learn more about Ymir, Paths, and Mikasa. By sending all of this information to the third timeline Eren, the real boy trapped behind the walls, he can accomplish his true goals in reality.

The beginning of the anime sees Eren not being startled awake by the future, but by what he sees in the Paths.

Just like at the manga, Eren wakes up from the 1st timeline (See you later) and just at the same position that he died on it, the way he dies in manga and wakes upp in anime fits.

In the Attack on Titan anime’s premiere episode, Eren now wakes up on the ground startled and afraid. He now asks Mikasa why she’s here, instead of commenting on her hair like in the manga.

From this point on, events occur as they do in the second timeline until Eren enters the Paths with Zeke’s help.

Upon entering, he remembers everything he learned in the simulated realities. Now, Eren knows Ymir’s true intentions and goals, realizing they’re centered on the Paths and her children, not Fritz. With this knowledge, he can now begin and fully realize the Rumbling, accomplishing his true goals in reality.

In summation

This three-timeline theory of Attack on Titan is certainly complex, though all-in-all extremely logical, with good evidence to support it. Despite the rift it’s currently creating among fans, it’s hard to deny that this theory is certainly well-planned and analyzed.

While there has been no confirmation of an anime-original ending yet, many Attack on Titan fans point to this theory as proof of its inevitability. While still unknown yet, fans will have their answer in a few weeks, when Eren and Mikasa’s pivotal conversation about their feelings is adapted and depicted.

Follow along for Attack on Titan anime and manga news, theories, lists, and more as 2022 progresses.

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Edited by Sijo Samuel Paul
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