Berserk: Why did Griffith betray Guts? Explained

Berserk: Why did Griffith betray Guts? Explained (Image via Hakusensha)
Berserk: Why did Griffith betray Guts? Explained (Image via Hakusensha)

One of the most legendary anime and manga series of all time is the late Kentaro Miura’s pioneering dark fantasy series, Berserk. Originally beginning serialization in 1989 in Hakusensha’s now-defunct Monthly Animal House publication, the series is undoubtedly one of the most beloved and influential of all time.

For many readers and watchers, the setup-oriented Golden Age arc is what many think of when thinking of the series’ peak in either of its two primary mediums. This is likely influenced by what is widely considered as the two “successful” Berserk anime adaptations, which focus primarily on adapting the Golden Age arc.

However, one of the most heartbreaking and confusing scenes for many fans is Griffith’s eventual and unforgivable betrayal of Guts and the rest of the Band of the Hawk. While it serves as the main catalyst for the series’ primary plot and overall events, some fans are confused about why exactly Griffith chooses to betray Guts and his comrades at the arc’s end.

Berserk’s biggest betrayal is spurred on by Griffith’s unflinching attitude towards achieving his dreams

As seen towards the end of Berserk’s Golden Age arc, Griffith’s choices made after Guts’ departure from the Band of the Hawk directly leads to his debilitative state. This feeling of weakness and inability, combined with overhearing Guts and Casca’s discussion of their love and plans for him, inspires him to try “escaping” his fate via a suicide attempt.

As a result, this directly leads into the start of the Eclipse, which sees Griffith offer up Guts and the rest of the Band of the Hawk as sacrifices to the God Hand so he can join their ranks. Here, Griffith starts the process of achieving his longhad dream, which is the reason why he chose to betray and sacrifice Guts and others.

Since childhood, Griffith’s dream was to acquire his own kingdom. As outlined in Berserk’s Golden Age arc, Griffith was born as a poverty-stricken street urchin, often unable to even find food to eat. However, he would constantly look up from the streets of the peasant-folk at a castle bathed in sunlight, inspiring him to dream of having a castle and kingdom of his own.

During the sacrifice, Griffith is reminded of his dream and what he’s done to achieve it, envisioning his sacrifices as a pile of corpses he stands upon to reach the castle from his youth. He concludes that to stop their piling now would signify the death of his dream. So, he decides to prioritize it over his friends as he admits Guts was the only one who ever made him forget his dream.

Griffith then sacrifices his friends and allies due to the God Hand’s promise of their power helping him to achieve his true dream. This is eventually proven true, with the power and fortune Griffith gains from becoming a member of the God Hand allows him to eventually build Falconia, his own kingdom, upon the Kingdom of Wyndham, former capital of Midland.

In summation

As seen in Berserk’s Golden Age arc, Griffith betrays Guts (and the rest of his allies) to achieve his dream of claiming a kingdom and castle for himself. This betrayal is spurred on by the God Hand reminding Griffith of his dream and what he’s sacrificed to achieve it. Moreover, they promise the power they can give him will help him achieve this dream.

Be sure to keep up with all Berserk anime and manga news, as well as general anime, manga, film, and live-action news as 2023 progresses.

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Edited by Priya Majumdar
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