Levi is a complex character who experiences fear, even if he doesn’t show it outright. As a battle-hardened soldier, Levi has seen a lot and lost a lot, so there are a few key things that spark fear in him.
Losing More Comrades
Having already lost his closest friends Isabel and Farlan, Levi is afraid of losing more comrades in battle. He has a stoic exterior, but each death of a Survey Corps member affects him deeply. This is likely why he is so harsh on Eren at first – he doesn’t want to get attached to new recruits who may die quickly. The more people he cares about that get killed, the more it wears down on Levi’s psyche.
While Levi maintains an aura of confidence when facing Titans in battle, a part of him fears the mindless monstrosities. He has witnessed firsthand the horrible ways they devour humans, so an underlying dread of Titans is natural, even for the most powerful soldier. When encountering particularly unique Titans like the Beast or Colossal, Levi exercises caution and strategic thinking, hinting at his wariness of them.
Levi likes having things neat, orderly, and under control. As a skilled fighter, he relies on his quick reflexes and agility to control battles. So when things get out of hand, Levi may secretly panic. For example, when the Female Titan surprised him and killed his squad members, Levi realized things were out of his control. The fear of losing control likely adds to Levi’s hesitation to take on leadership roles – he doesn’t want to be responsible for failure.
Getting Too Close to Others
After losing Isabel and Farlan, Levi closed himself off emotionally. He keeps most people at a distance to avoid the pain of losing someone close. The exceptions seem to be Erwin and Hange, who have earned Levi’s trust and friendship over time. Even so, Levi struggles to deepen emotional bonds and open himself up to caring for more people. The prospect of feeling affection for others frightens him due to the potential loss it entails.
Levi likes being able to act decisively in difficult situations. So moments where he feels truly helpless evoke fear in him. A key example is when he ran out of gas and maneuvers trying to rescue Eren from the Female Titan. Forced to trust Mikasa and others, Levi was left powerless. Similarly, Levi was afraid when Hange was injured and he couldn’t do anything to protect them. Helplessness reminds Levi of painful memories from his childhood when he lost loved ones.
Losing Humanity’s Hope
Later in the story, Eren Yeager comes to represent hope for humanity’s survival. As a Titan shifter, Eren’s unique abilities may be the key to reclaiming land from the Titans. Levi puts his faith in Eren, going beyond his own personal fears and bonds to do whatever it takes to ensure Eren stays alive. The idea of losing Eren and that hope for a future free from Titans is certainly one of Levi’s deepest fears.
For someone obsessed with cleanliness, dirty surroundings make Levi highly uncomfortable. He detests the dank and dusty conditions of living underground as a thug before joining the Survey Corps. The filthy streets and alleys remind Levi of his traumatic childhood which included violence and disease. Even as a soldier, Levi retains his compulsion for spotless spaces. A truly dirty environment with no chance to clean may be a strange phobia of his.
Commander Erwin Smith is one of Levi’s closest companions, someone he entrusts strategy and leadership decisions to. Levi puts faith in Erwin’s plans, believing his cunning gives humanity a chance against the Titans. When Erwin is badly injured in a battle, Levi fears losing his wisdom and guidance. Visiting Erwin’s bedside, seeing his arm bitten off, Levi grapples with the prospect of Erwin dying. The fear of losing his trusted commander weighs heavily on Levi’s mind.
Levi prefers to let his combat skills speak for themselves and avoids being in the spotlight. When called on to give speeches, lead recruits, or be a public face for the Survey Corps, Levi seems uncomfortable. He keeps his remarks brief and to the point. Levi may fear public speaking because it reminds him of the underground thug life where bravado and words got people killed. He finds no use for speeches when humanity’s survival is on the line.
Reasons for Levi’s Fears:
- Traumatic childhood in the underground city
- Losing loved ones like Isabel and Farlan
- Years battling Titans and seeing comrades die
- Survivor’s guilt as one of the most skilled soldiers
- Lucid understanding of the fragile state of humanity
Levi has experienced substantial tragedy in his life, so many things spark fear in him, from Titans to public speaking. But he is able to set aside some of those fears for the greater good of mankind. Levi puts duty first, even at the cost of more trauma and loss for himself. This makes him one of the most complex and intriguing characters in Attack on Titan.
|Losing comrades||Trauma of losing Isabel and Farlan|
|Titans||Has seen their horrifying power|
|Losing control||Values his skills as a fighter|
|Getting close to people||Avoids the pain of loss|
|Helplessness||Triggers childhood trauma|
|Losing Eren||Eren represents hope|
|Dirty environments||Reminds him of traumatic past|
|Losing Erwin||Trusts Erwin’s leadership|
|Public speaking||Reminds him of underground city|