Levi Ackerman moments before finally killing Zeke during The Rumbling from Attack on Titan Season 4, Part 3

‘Attack on Titan’ Gave Levi Ackerman the Best Possible Ending

There was no titan or man that could kill Levi Ackerman, who proved his strength right up until the end of Attack on Titan, season 4, part 3. A couple of fingers were cut clean from his hand, he permanently lost vision in his left eye, and broke his leg. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he lost all his friends and comrades one by one throughout the series. Despite all of this, he lived to see the end and spent the rest of his life in hard-won peace.

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Perhaps the greatest irony of Levi Ackerman wasn’t that he survived, but that he couldn’t save everybody he cared about despite his inhuman strength. He struggled and gave his all to make sure the rest of his cadets didn’t lose their lives during The Rumbling, but he failed to prevent two pivotal deaths within his team in season 4.

After Eren’s death, the Paths allow Levi to see his fallen comrades once more in a haze. He sees Petra, Erwin, and Hange among those of the Survey Corps who passed before him. He gives them a salute one last time and proudly tells the spirits of his friends that this is the conclusion they all gave their hearts to. He tearfully bids them farewell, and the scene cuts to other reunions among Eldian families. While Levi might’ve cried alone on the spot, a lot of fans cried along with him.

This is a man who technically outlived his “usefulness” to the plot of Attack on Titan. In the middle of it all, Zeke escaped his watch and transformed his comrades into titans. The explosion rendered him severely injured; he lost one of his eyes and a couple of fingers. He was no longer indisputably “Humanity’s Strongest,” but a man who failed his mission to kill Zeke Jaeger, whose utility is now in question. A war was about to rage on, and there was arguably no place left for someone who had been as severely injured as Levi.

But he proved this assumption wrong. In a testament to Levi’s character, mangaka Isayama Hajime allowed Levi to live and fight during The Rumbling. He wasn’t confined to a static role after his permanent injuries, but he was determined to keep his remaining team safe and to fulfill Erwin’s last wish. To see Levi behead Zeke once and for all, despite having an injured leg, was arguably one of the sickest moments of Attack on Titan season 4. If Levi wasn’t Isayama’s favorite, then he’s definitely MAPPA’s favorite—they made him look so badass in this scene.

Killing Zeke should’ve been enough, but why did Levi have to live after that? For all its doom and gloom, Attack on Titan is also a story about humanity and just how hard people fight for their ideals and the life they want for themselves and their loved ones. Levi fought to the death to fulfill Erwin’s wish, but that’s not all he had to live for. Throughout the years, he fought to keep humanity within the walls safe from titans. He trained a generation of strong soldiers and was pivotal in the growth of many other characters in the series.

To say that a character will only find happiness in death among the friends who went before him, and after he’s given half his life to service, doesn’t sound just. Levi misses them greatly, and anybody who observed him throughout the anime has seen him suffer through the gradual loss of his friends. But Levi fought for peace like his comrades, and it’s arguably worse if none of them ever got to experience the life they envisioned. Moreover, tragedy in Levi’s life was already commonplace before he joined the Survey Corps. If loneliness and despair were the only factors that made him more suited to death, then he should’ve passed on much earlier.

Levi survived not because he was strong, but because he represented the strength of humanity’s will. Although once dubbed “Humanity’s Strongest,” that’s not all Levi exemplified. His tenacity to see through a command, his devotion to his comrades, and his unyielding determination to fight are proof of what humans are willing to overcome to protect what’s important to them. To see Levi die might’ve elicited more emotion from viewers and readers, but the choice to let him live underlines everything he stood for.

(featured image: MAPPA)

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Vanessa Esguerra
Vanessa Esguerra (She/They) has been a Contributing Writer for The Mary Sue since 2023. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy, she (happily) rejected law school in 2021 and has been a full-time content writer since. Vanessa is currently taking her Master's degree in Japanese Studies in hopes of deepening her understanding of the country's media culture in relation to pop culture, women, and queer people like herself. She speaks three languages but still manages to get lost in the subways of Tokyo with her clunky Japanese. Fueled by iced coffee brewed from local cafés in Metro Manila, she also regularly covers anime and video games while queuing for her next match in League of Legends.