With Attack on Titan reaching its end, I have been contemplating on what Eren Yeager hopes to achieve by destroying the world with the Founding Titan’s power. Now, I think I know what his endgame is and it revolves around the following question: “How do you get rid of 2,000 years of hatred and prejudice between various people?”
For the past 2,000 years, an ethnic group of people known as Eldians were blamed for a series of atrocities their ancestors committed in the past. Over the past century, some Eldians found refuge on Paradis Island while the rest were enslaved and persecuted by the country of Marley. The majority of the story of Attack On Titan takes place on Paradis Island and the Eldians’ fight for survival. It was revealed that their true enemy was not the Titans but the rest of humanity outside of Paradis Island, which includes the Eldians who were enslaved by Marley.
When Eren Yeager finally activated the full power of the Founding Titan, it looked like his intention was to exterminate the entire world outside of Paradis Island. There is a dark yet pragmatic truth to this logic. If all the civilizations outside of Paradis Island were destroyed and their citizens wiped out, then the legacy of hatred towards Paradis would die with them.
Now, I think Eren’s endgame is something else entirely. Even though the Founding Titan gives him the ability to control all Eldians, Eren refuses to control his fellow Eldians. Instead, he gives them the freedom to choose whether to defy him or stay out of his way. This is a curious development because if Eren truly wanted to destroy the world, he would make sure no one stood in his way. This could mean that Eren wants his former companions to try and stop him.
With this in mind, we return to the question I asked earlier: “How do you get rid of 2,000 years of hatred and prejudice between various nations?” Eren’s companions such as his commanding officer Hange Zoe tried to find a way to reason with Marley and other anti-Eldian nations. However, Hange was a naive fool into thinking she could make 2,000 years of hatred disappear with simple talk. Marley and nations like it are so blinded by their uncompromising hatred towards Eldians and Paradis that no amount of words will ever move them.
To quote Adrian Veidt from Watchmen: “An intractable problem can only be solved by stepping outside of conventional solutions.” You get rid of 2,000 years of hatred between various nations by giving them a common enemy to unite against. You frighten them into cooperation by presenting them with a force that is so dreadful that it must be repelled, all former enmities aside. Like Lelouch from Code Geass, I think Eren is intentionally making himself the common enemy for the world to unite against. With the Founding Titan in his possession, Eren alone has the power to become the common enemy the world desperately needs to end the cycle of hatred.
With these factors in mind, I think Eren Yeager is one of the most complex anime/manga protagonists ever made. When the story started, he was a vengeful hero. During the final story arc, he became a seemingly nihilistic villain. Now, it has become clear that he has become something more than either a simple hero or villain. He is willing to completely through away his humanity and make everyone hate him in order to end the cycle of hatred and violence between Eldians and the rest of the world. He is willing to sacrifice himself to unite the world, which would make him the most selfless character in the series.