They say that you can choose your friends but that you cannot choose your family. The latter might be more true than the first, even in the world of Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan. Now, Zeke Yeager and Eren Yeager are among the most important characters in the franchise, especially the latter, who is the series’ main protagonist and antagonist (at one point). In this article, we are going to explain the exact nature of the relationship between Zeke and Eren Yeager.
Eren is Zeke’s younger half-brother. Zeke initially learned of him when Reiner and Bertholdt Hoover understood Eren was born from his father’s second family. Though their first encounter was as enemies they were later working together over their mutual goals until Eren ultimately betrayed Zeke.
The rest of this article is going to further elaborate on the given answer. The relationship between Eren and Zeke is one of the best relationships in the whole series. It has depths, it has intrigue, and it was more than relevant for the plot of Attack on Titan. Plus, both Eren and Zeke are very interesting characters in their own right, which explains why this topic is so relevant. We have collected all the relevant information in one place.
Are Zeke Yeager and Eren Yeager Brothers?
The story of Zeke and Eren actually begins with the story of Grisha Yeager. Long story short, Grisha had two wives and a child with each of them, which makes Zeke and Eren half-brothers, with Zeke being the older one. They were unaware of the fact for a long time, before Zeke learned of Eren. But, let us first see what Grisha’s exact role in this story is (aside from the obvious one).
Grisha was born in the Liberio camp into an Eldian family. When he was a child, he decided to leave the camp without permission with his little sister Faye to follow a zeppelin. After crossing the town from the Marley side and being insulted by the Marleyan citizens, they finally managed to find the hangar of the zeppelin.
They were, however, discovered by two Marleyan soldiers. Unable to justify his presence outside the Eldian area, Grisha chose to be physically punished by one of the soldiers, while his colleague led Faye away. When he returned home, Faye was not there and her corpse was later discovered. This experience deeply marked Grisha who conceived a boundless hatred towards the nation of Marley.
Growing up, Grisha was the victim of other persecutions due to his origins. Grisha then decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a doctor. When he was 18, he joined the Eldian resistance. Through the Owl, an army spy, he learned the circumstances of Faye’s death and joined the cause.
The Owl also sent them documents on the Eldian Empire that Grisha deciphered on instinct, not doubting for a moment the good intentions of Ymir Fritz, the first human to have obtained the Power of the Titans. It was also through her new activities that Grisha became acquainted with Dina Fritz, the last descendant of the royal family. He quickly married her and a year later a son named Zeke was born.
He attempted to use Zeke to infiltrate the Warriors’ Unit but the child, too young to bear such a burden, reported him to the Marley authorities. He was tortured and exiled to the island of Paradis with his wife, who was turned into the Abnormal Titan.
Years later, Grisha ended up meeting Carla. They met in a restaurant when Carla worked there as a waitress. Then during the epidemic, Carla was seriously ill but Grisha quickly treated her and they fell in love. A few years later they got married and had Eren. Carla’s fate was also tragic and somewhat ironic, as she ended up being killed by Grisha’s former wife, Dina, although it’s not certain that Dina knew who she was killing.
During the invasion of Wall Maria, Carla was crushed by the stray debris when the Colossal Titan created an opening in the wall of Shiganshina District. As a result, she lost her legs which were crushed by the debris of her house; Eren and Mikasa tried to free her but in vain. She begged them to leave because the Titans were devouring everyone they came across, and especially because the “Smiling Titan” was approaching their house.
Once the three were out of reach of the Smiling Titan, Carla mumbled that she didn’t want them to go, but she covered her mouth so the children couldn’t hear her. The “Smiling Titan”, actually Grisha’s former wife, Dina Fritz, grabbed her then crushed her as she struggled. Then, it devoured her in front of Eren’s and Mikasa’s eyes. This was the element that motivated Eren to join the army.
As you can see, Zeke Yeager and Eren Yeager had the same father – Grisha Yeager – which makes them half-brothers. Zeke’s mother was Dina Fritz, while Eren’s was Carla Yeager.
Are Eren and Zeke Working Together?
Although at their first meeting, during the battle in the Shiganshina District, they were enemies fighting against each other, in time Eren manages to embrace the help his brother is offering him and his vision of the salvation of the Eldians, and decides to go over to his side.
During the days before the raid on Liberio, they are already seen working towards their common goals, ignoring their factions during the impending war, and Zeke is sorry to see Eren subjected to the same monstrous brainwashing he had suffered from their father as a child.
Eren accepts Zeke’s euthanasia plan to sterilize the Subjects of Ymir, sharing its goal, and decides to side with his older brother. Eren trusts Zeke enough to rebel against the Survey Corps and get away from his friends to plot the attack on Marley with him, and organize the revolution inside the Walls to overthrow the government of Paradis with the help of the Jaegerists and Anti-Marley Faction volunteers.
Similarly, Zeke relates to Eren in a fraternal, even affectionate way, feeling happy to be able to relate so deeply to a family member after years and trying to protect him from enemy attacks during the final battle at Shiganshina. However, Eren’s behavior turns out to be only a facade, which ultimately shocks Zeke.
Is Zeke Yeager Stronger than Eren?
A thorough analysis of this issue would surpass the scope of this article, which is why we are going to give you the short answer and possibly write about this duel in more detail in a separate article. Zeke Yeager was the possessor of the Beast Titan, while Eren initially possessed the Attacking Titan, although he later gained control over the Founding Titan and the War Hammer Titan.
As far as the Beast Titan and Attacking Titan are concerned, it would be a close battle and we’re not so sure that Eren would be able to defeat Zeke’s Beast Titan, at least not easily. On the other hand, with the Founding Titan under his control, Eren is certainly the stronger brother and would be able to defeat Zeke’s Beast Titan.
Why Did Eren Betray Zeke?
Once the Founding Titan is activated and arrives at the Coordinate, he reveals that he exploited his brother to be able to use the Founding Titan to its full potential, refusing to accept his plan for the sterilization of Eldians. Eren’s betrayal of him leaves Zeke embittered and deeply wounded, but he decides not to abandon his brother to his wickedness, preferring to make him think about the indoctrination he received from his father as a child and trying to save him.
Despite this, Zeke discovers that it is Eren himself who has manipulated his father’s actions from the future through the power of the Attacking Titan, and observes the scene of his brother who forces the Father to exterminate the Royal Family, in order to steal the Founding Titan from them and transfer it to Eren himself in the past, in order to arrive at the completion of his plan.
Eren reveals that he wants to use the Founding Titan to destroy the world, and even if Zeke tries in every way to make him think about their father’s life and his actions, in the end, he gives in, and tries to stop his mad plan. From their confrontation, Zeke is defeated and is exploited by Eren as a catalyst for the use of the Founding Titan.