Attack on Titan: Eren’s Ultimate Plan Is Similar to Pain’s in Naruto

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Attack on Titan Season 4, Episode 19, "Two Brothers," now streaming on Funimation, Hulu, and Crunchyroll.

As Attack on Titan barrels toward its highly anticipated end, protagonist Eren Jaeger has left the fandom quite divided with his latest actions. He's strayed quite far from the path shonen heroes are expected to follow and while he's still definitely the story's hero, Eren is acting like anything but. In fact, his final plan is quite similar to Pain's, the most celebrated villain from Naruto: Shippuden.

Pain espoused a concept he called the cycle of hatred. According to him, war did not emerge from a vacuum; rather, it was the end result of hate and resentment that people held within. The hurt and loss that occurred during war would only go on to plant more hate in those affected, leading to more battles waged in order to get their revenge. It was a vicious cycle to which he saw no immediate end, so Pain took it upon himself to end all wars once and for all.

Pain from Naruto

His strategy to end war in Shippuden was to have everyone understand each other's pain. To him, the only way to truly understand someone was to share in their suffering, and he aimed at creating a threat that struck equal fear in the world at large. This threat came in the form of Tailed Beast weapons, each of them capable of ending tens of millions of lives in an instant.

Pain planned demonstrations of their might and then aimed to distribute them to the various nations. He reasoned that after every nation had suffered at the hands of these weapons, they'd be reluctant to use any of their own -- especially if their rival nations each had similar weapons that could easily be turned on them should they break the peace.

Eren's solution to the war within his own world is nowhere near as complicated as Pain's, but its effectiveness is almost guaranteed. Ever since Season 1, Eren has been ranting about wanting to "kill them all." Although the object of his hate has shifted from the titans to those outside Paradis' walls, his task remains the same. Now that he holds the powers of both the Founding Titan and one of royal blood, he seems poised to do exactly that. Destroying the entire world save for the Eldians on Paradis certainly would end Attack on Titan's cycle of hatred -- but first, Eren will make sure they all understand his pain.

Eren pointing at the horizon with Mikasa and Armin behind him

Eren may not have been fully content with his simple life in Shiganshina but one cannot argue he was unhappy. Witnessing the Colossal Titan break through his hometown's walls changed his life forever, and watching a Titan devour his mother instilled in him a deep hatred for all these creatures and where they came from. For the first time, Eren experienced what it truly meant to be in fear of the Titans and, by triggering the Rumbling, seeks to share this fear with the rest of the world. Losing his home was the catalyst that spurred Eren to war and starting a literal apocalypse is his way of bringing the Cycle to an end.

The psychological impact of watching your entire world be flattened in front of you -- while being helpless to do anything but watch -- would be miles more horrifying than any torture method Hange Zoe could dream up. Essentially, Eren is putting the entire world in his shoes on that fateful day in Shiganshina. Whether he is choosing to intentionally grant them a taste of his personal hell as retribution is unknown, but it does add a sense of poetic justice to his Rumbling plan in Attack on Titan.

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