The finale of Attack on Titan Season 2 left fans of the series all around the world in shock.
Hannes was dead, Ymir doomed to die, and fan-favorite Commander Erwin lost an arm to a titan. Yet after everything, there was one major twist that left fans with their jaws on the floor – Eren Jaeger had apparently controlled titans to do his bidding!
Or – had he?
After this, Eren was not shown to be able to control titans again. Towards the end of the first half of Season 3, Eren tried to stop the huge Rod Reiss titan from attacking the Orvud district only to no avail.
So why had Eren been shown to control titans before, but never succeeded again?
With the end of Attack on Titan in reaching distance, it’s time to answer the questions that have been plaguing us for years. If you want to know how Eren can only sometimes control Titans, then here are all the answers you need below.
The Founding Titan
In Season 3, it was revealed that Eren is the current holder of the Founding Titan, one of the nine Titan Shifters and the most powerful one of all.
He inherited the power after his father, Grisha, fought and consumed Frieda Reiss, Historia’s older sister and eldest daughter of the true King in the Walls, Rod Reiss. Grisha then turned Eren into a titan so he could consume him and inherit both the powers of the Founding Titan and the Attack Titan.
The Founding Titan is the most powerful of the nine Titan Shifters because it holds the ability to control all titans. With just a scream, it can command titans to do its bidding.
This power had been previously used to create the Walls by King Karl Fritz, who transformed hundreds of thousands of people into colossal titans and commanded them to link arms and harden their skins into crystal, creating the main body of the Walls.
This ability is what Eren used that day when Reiner and Bertoldt tried to kidnap him. Eren screamed and used the Founding Titan’s ability to control titans to use them to kill the Smiling Titan and attack the Armored Titan.
So how come Eren can’t use the Founding Titan’s powers all the time?
Eren cannot use the Founding Titan’s powers alone because he is not of royal blood.
The reason why the Founding Titan was passed down from generation to generation in the royal family was because their bloodline was the only one who could fully unlock the Founding Titan’s powers.
This means that Eren, who is not a part of that bloodline, cannot use the Founding Titan’s abilities at all if he tries to by himself. The only people alive who can use the Founding Titan’s abilities are Historia and Zeke, both who have royal blood.
If they were to inherit the Founding Titan from Eren, then they could transform and gain the ability to control all titans.
Historia, however, would be restricted by her ancestor Karl Fritz’s ideology to never use the Founding Titan’s abilities, meaning that she could not control the titans and would lose any desire to once she inherited the Founding Titan.
Zeke, however, is not related to Karl Fritz and would not have any restrictions at all. But Eren cannot use the power on his own because he is not of royal blood.
This is why when Eren tried to control Rod Reiss’s titan, he failed because he was not of royal blood and could not access the Founding Titan’s powers.
So how did Eren use them that fateful day beyond Wall Rose?
The Smiling Titan
Before Eren used the scream to control the titans, he was able to land a feeble punch against the Smiling Titan – the titan that had just consumed Hannes and had previously eaten Eren’s mother.
The Smiling Titan was later revealed to once be a person called Dina Fritz, a woman who lived beyond the walls in Marley who was of royal descent. This meant that Dina Fritz had royal blood and the potential to use the Founding Titan’s powers if she ever inherited it.
She is also later revealed in Season 3 to be Grisha’s former wife and the mother of Zeke. Once Zeke handed his parents over for conspiring against the Maryelan government, Dina was taken to the Isle of Paradis and turned into a titan – the Smiling Titan.
So this means that the Smiling Titan is of royal blood and if it consumed Eren that day, it would have been able to have transformed back into Dina Fritz and would have inherited the Founding and Attack Titan’s powers.
Except that did not happen because when Eren came in contact with the Smiling Titan, the contact with someone of royal blood allowed Eren to tap into the Founding Titan’s power and release a scream to control all the titans in the area.
So what does all this mean?
It means that when Eren touches someone of royal blood, he can temporarily use the Founding Titan’s power. While he cannot use it on his own, he must work with someone of royal blood to be able to control titans and use the Founding Titan’s abilities.
This is how he was able to control titans in the Season 2 finale – he touched someone of royal blood and accidentally bid all the titans to do his bidding by attacking Dina Fritz and the Armored Titan.
So, can Eren use this technique again?
He can – and in fact, he plans to.
In Season 4, it is revealed that Eren and Zeke plan to use this technique to sterilize all Eldians against their will, thus ending the existence of titans.
The Founding Titan also holds the ability to change the bodies and minds of Eldian subjects, but Eren cannot do this on his own. He needs to make contact with someone like Zeke or Historia to be able to complete this plan.
With the end of Attack on Titan getting closer and closer, we will have to wait and find out if Eren and Zeke will succeed, or if Eren has something else in mind.