Athrun Zala (アスラン・ザラ Asuran Zara?) serves as the deuteragonist of both Gundam SEED and Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, but is the protagonist in the special edition of the latter series and the Gundam SEED Destiny: The Edge manga .
As seen and even mentioned by Lacus Clyne herself, Athrun is described as a quiet, reserved, and often a benevolent individual. Athrun is shown to have a firm belief that if soldiers follow their orders then eventually the war will end with success. While good at following orders, Athrun has trouble acting as a team leader due to his compassionate outlook in life. In Destiny, Athrun's personality and ideals does not change much but he does mature in some respects especially when he rejoins ZAFT at the personal behest of Gilbert Durandal to command and become part of the ZAFT forces as a field commander aboard the Minerva. Due to his status as a hero to the PLANT colonies and ZAFT ace pilot, he somehow instinctively portrays a very professional aura and doesn't hesitate when giving orders that can come off as being harsh or demanding. Despite the former's particular distaste of being ordered around, Athrun still manages to act as a mentor to his young subordinates, such as Shinn Asuka and Lunamaria Hawke.
However Athrun does have two majors flaws, both which often plague him in both SEED and in Destiny. His perseverance to find himself and discern the truth of the moment amidst the chaos in both wars waged in both SEED and Destiny eventually eclipses that flaw. His second flaw is a by-product of his first flaw as his indecisiveness comes off as being labeled as a traitor to either side of the war much to his frustration and denial. After his defection to Terminal, Athrun seems to regain a sense of what he is fighting for, but it is not clearly portrayed if he has resolved this personal issue.
Skills & AbilitiesBefore becoming a full-fledged pilot, Athrun had under-went training at the ZAFT military academy, it was there that he showed natural talent as a soldier, ranking 1st in mobile suit piloting, hand-to-hand combat and knife-fighting, even going as far as to beat the renowned knife-fighting instructor "Fred of the Knife ". With his natural experience as a pilot and high scores at the academy, it's very surprising that Kira Yamato was able to match him with beginner's-skill alone. His fighting style is not visibly limited in style, his mobile suits, GAT-X303 Aegis the, ZGMF-X09A Justice Gundam and later the ZGMF-X19A ∞ Justice Gundam, are all well-rounded ranged and close-combat type mobile suits that are always equipt with sufficient firepower and a minimum of two beam sabers. Although his style is typically well-rounded, he can also pilot mobile suits with more basic ability, and therefore less strategic uses, such as the ZGMF-1000/M Blaze ZAKU Warrior.
Athrun's resolve in battle is often profound. He debates "truth", "war" and even the real difference between "right" and "wrong" on the battlefield. These thoughts never cloud his mind in the sense that they hinder his abilities, however, his anger or want for "revenge" often make him act in a way that he later regrets. His only weakness as a pilot is his good-nature, which leaves him troubled when faced with having to try to kill Kira, his best friend. Ultimately, his "perfect solider" mentality and his father's expectations blind him to what he truly wants.
Athrun was born in December City of the PLANTs on October 29, CE 55. In CE 61, Patrick Zala sends Athrun to attend a preparatory school in Copernicus City, located on the Moon. Here, he meets Kira Yamato and they become good friends. In CE 68, Patrick calls Athrun back from Copernicus City. Just before he leaves, Athrun builds a robotic pet bird, Birdy (Torii(which means bird) in the Japanese version), which he gives to Kira.
After returning to the PLANTs, Athrun finds that his father has arranged an engagement for him to PLANT pop idol Lacus Clyne. (According to the novelization of Gundam SEED, she is the first girl Athrun ever kissed. It is shown in episode 20 of Gundam SEED.) Athrun builds Haro, a pink ball-shaped robotic pet-companion for her, which she likes very much – his response is to build her a large number of them, which she names based on their colors.
On February 21, CE 70, Athrun enrolls in the ZAFT military because of his mother's death seven days earlier in the Bloody Valentine tragedy, which was caused by the Earth Alliance. Among the Le Creuset team members, he becomes friends with Nicol Amalfi and Rusty Mackenzie, and he is the only member whose views on Naturals differ from his parent's (and with the most dramatic consequences).
During his time at the ZAFT Military Academy, Athrun was first in almost all of his classes and was the top graduate, just above Yzak Joule. This may account for some of Yzak's hostilities toward Athrun.
Theft at Heliopolis
Morgenroete secretly develops five mobile suits for the Earth Alliance in a concealed base on the neutral colony, Heliopolis. The mobile suits are intended to counter ZAFT's superior military technology. The Le Creuset team raids the base, managing to steal only four of the five mobile suits, because ZAFT pilot Rusty Mackenzie is shot and killed during the raid. During the raid he meets his hildhood friend Kira Yamato, now a Heliopolis civilian, while brandishing a knife with intent to kill him and Murrue Ramius. Memories of their friendship keep Athrun from attacking Kira which gave Murrue enough time to recover and shoot at him, forcing him to step back. Kira becomes, albeit reluctantly, the pilot of the GAT-X105 Strike, the last of the five mobile suits, after Murrue forces him into the cockpit. It is after this that Athrun steals the GAT-X303 Aegis and the ensuing battle between the Le Creuset team and Kira Yamato tears apart and subsequently destroys Heliopolis.
Pursuit of the Archangel
Athrun engage Kira in battle several times thereafter as he and the rest of his team try to get the Strike. Athrun is, however, left in turmoil over having to fight his friend and attempts to convince Kira to join ZAFT, since Kira is a Coordinator, and explains to Kira why he joined ZAFT. His words affect Kira to some extent, but still his friend refuses to cross over (along with the Strike Gundam) to ZAFT.
Later, Athrun learns that his fiancée Lacus Clyne is on board the Archangel and is outraged when Natarle Badgiruel uses her as a hostage to protect the Archangel. Before withdrawing, Athrun asks Kira his idea of justice and vows to rescue Lacus at all costs. Kira later smuggles Lacus off the Archangel and back to Athrun. (And is even shocked to find a strangely bloated stomach which he has no idea that was just the result of having to force in the skirt of her dress in the suit) Upon retrieving his fiancée, Athrun asks Kira again to defect to ZAFT, but Kira again steadfastly refuses his offer. Neither Kira nor Athrun want to fight each other and they often think of one another and their unfortunate circumstances. Despite this, both declare to one another that they will shoot to kill the next time they meet.
Athrun is later appointed head of his own team - the Zala Team, and clashes with some of his fellow pilots on several issues especially on their failure to recover or destroy the Strike Gundam. On Earth, when the team is sent to the Carpentaria Base, the transport plane Athrun is in is shot down by Cagalli Yula Athha in a FX-550 Skygrasper, and who is shot down in return.
Athrun successfully lands his mobile suit on an island. There, he encounters Cagalli, who is also marooned there. After being shot at resulting to an armed conflict between the two and having to deal with the awkward revelation that she was, in fact, a girl, Athrun takes Cagalli prisoner, binding her wrists and feet together. While trying to get to Athrun's mobile suit in her tied up stage, Cagalli accidentally ends up almost drowning in a small but deep puddle made by the rain where Athrun rescues her. An exchange of humorous banters is had between them that results in Athrun setting her free because she seemed like she couldn't be any serious threat to him. While waiting for retrieval, the two talk. Their viewpoints about the war clash, but they listen to each other with Athrun being the one to give up first knowing that it would get them nowhere. He falls asleep on her, giving Cagalli an opening to steal his gun that she eventually throws away, resulting to it misfiring with the bullet grazing Athrun's side. This eventually leads to a mutual truce between them and they exchange names. They later rescued by their respective forces. Neither tells anyone about what happened on the island.
Athrun later discovers that Cagalli is actually the princess of the neutral Earth nation, Orb Union.
Athrun and Kira: A Tragic Duel
Believing the Archangel is hiding in Orb, Athrun leads the rest of the Zala team on a covert mission. During their search, they're spotted by Junk Guild members Lowe Guele, Kisato Yamabuki, Liam Garfield and Serpent Tail representative Kazahana Adja as they're trying to find their away around. Yzak, Dearka and Nicol wish to kill them, but Athrun defuses the situation, letting them know they were new to the place themselves. Though suspicious, Lowe and the others blew it off and accepted it. When Birdy escaped from Kira, it flew to where Athrun was and the two boys confronted each other briefly. With his suspicions confirmed, Athrun and the rest of the team wait for the Archangel to leave Orb territorial waters. The intended ambush goes poorly thanks to Kira's sudden improvement in battle, Nicol in the badly damaged Blitz is killed by Kira's hands after he tries to protect Athrun, sparking the unbridled hate that would decide the aftermath of Athrun and Kira's next encounter later on.
Spotting the Archangel, Athrun rushed in and got ready for the final battle. Athrun and Kira meet in combat again. Angered by Nicol's death, he charges at Kira and fights slowly draining Aegis' energy. Even though Athrun's team fought with full anger, Kira managed to take down Yzak and Dearka. In the end, Athrun remains as the only one standing and begins the all out battle. Tolle Koenig, Kira's good friend then comes to help. When interrupted, Athrun throws the Aegis's shield at the FX-550 Skygrasper formerly piloted by Cagalli, killing Kira's friend Tolle Koenig in the process. Kira enraged activates SEED mode. Athrun, too activates his SEED mode, for the first time. Athrun and Kira begins the most brutal battle, neither side not wanting to lose. Each person destroying out parts of their Gundam, Athrun and Kira appears to be evenly matched. Running out of energy, Athrun decides to grasp on to strike and kill Kira with the Scylla energy Cannon. However it was seconds till the Aegis ran out of energy. In a last attempt to kill Kira, Athrun uses the Aegis's self-destruction system on the strike, escaping at the last second. He is caught by the shockwave of the blast, injuring him to some extent.
Athrun is found injured on the beach near the site of his and Kira's battle by Cagalli and ORB. When Athrun regains consciousness, he finds Cagalli points a gun at him, demanding to know what happened to Kira. Athrun, obviously distraught, says that he has killed his best friend, Kira. Cagalli angrily asks why while aiming the gun point-blank at his face, Athrun snaps back that Kira has killed several ZAFT comrades and his anger had finally reached its peak with Nicol's death with him eventually stating that Kira was his enemy for not being on his side, on the side of ZAFT. Cagalli snaps and calls him an idiot, asking why he could do something terrible to his best friend. It is here that Athrun breaks down into tears as Cagalli explains some of the teachings her father, that killing for vengeance will never bring peace but simply more conflict and asks him again how his thinking will ever bring about peace. Before returning him to ZAFT, Athrun calls Cagalli strange and wonders if he should thank her and just resigns to saying that he really doesn't know. Cagalli gives Athrun her Haumea amulet as a good luck charm, hoping that it will protect him, and answering his question of why she would give it to him after killing Kira with "I just don't want anyone else to die."
Acquiring the ZGMF-X09A Justice
After returning to ZAFT, Athrun was awarded the Order of the Nebula for the achievement of destroying the Strike, and he is chosen to be under the direct command of the PLANT Supreme Council and assigned the newly developed ZGMF-X09A Justice. He is ordered to track down and retrieve the ZGMF-X10A Freedom, which had been stolen by Kira, with the aid of Lacus. Lacus is accused of selling ZAFT out to the Earth Alliance, but Athrun has trouble accepting that Lacus could be a traitor. He eventually finds Lacus and saves her from assassination.
Lacus tells Athrun that Kira is alive and is the Freedom's new pilot. She tells him to think about what he should really be fighting for. Instead of following his father's orders or feeling bound to his military duty, he should determine what he believes to be right. Lacus then tells Athrun that he should go to Earth and speak with Kira. Athrun launches in the Justice and arrives on Earth. Before attempting to locate Kira, he visits the wreckage of the Aegis and the Strike. There, he encounters Reverend Malchio, who gives him an update on the war.
Defection from ZAFT
Athrun eventually finds Kira in Orb, engaged in combat with the GAT-X131 Calamity, GAT-X252 Forbidden and GAT-X370 Raider. Athrun watches, wrestling with his own loyalties, until Kira is slowly overpowered by the enemy. Athrun then makes his choice and steps in to save his friend. As the enemy mobile suits retreat, the two friends try to work out their differences. Neither wanted to be the other's enemy and both wanted to end the Bloody Valentine War. But in order to do this, both friends would have to abandon their respective nation's militaries. Uncertain at first, Athrun makes no promises, but he eventually aids Kira during the fall of Orb, instead of fighting him and retrieving the Freedom like he was originally ordered to do so. Athrun then follows the survivors of the battle into space.
Before deciding to join the resistance group with Lacus, Kira, and the others, Athrun decides to talk to his father, Patrick Zala, who was now the Chairman of PLANT Supreme Council, to find out his father's true intentions. Athrun returns to the PLANTs without the Justice and speaks to his father about the war. During a heated argument between father and son, Athrun's father reveals that he intends to drag the war on until all the Naturals are exterminated as revenge for the death of his wife, Lenore. Athrun is shocked and angered by his father's revelation, and is shot in the arm by his father then arrested for refusing to reveal the location of the Justice and the Freedom. Athrun is later freed by Martin DaCosta (under Lacus's orders) and they escape to the Eternal where Lacus was waiting. With Athrun and DaCosta on board, the Eternal then breaks away from its dock and escapes. However, their path was blocked by a Jachin Due fleet but they were saved by Kira in the Freedom, who was waiting outside the PLANTs.
Rise of Three Ships Alliance
After Athrun defects from ZAFT, he joins the newly formed resistance group called the Three Ships Alliance. Kira, Cagalli, and former Le Creuset Team member Dearka Elsman were part of this alliance consisting of the Earth Alliance's Archangel, Orb's Kusanagi, and ZAFT's Eternal. During the final stages of the war, he and Cagalli develop a romantic relationship. The two of them even shared a kiss in episode 48 after he tells her that he will protect her when she said she was going to join them in the battlefield.
Along with the Three Ships Alliance, Athrun is instrumental in ending the Bloody Valentine War, between ZAFT and the Earth Alliance Forces. During the Second Battle of Jachine Due, Athrun & the TSA were able to stop the Alliance's nuclear attack on the PLANTs, and later destroyed the GAT-X131 Calamity, killing Biological CPU Orga Sabnak. Athrun, Cagalli, and an Orb Pilot fight their way into Jachin Due and is shocked to find his father shot by ZAFT commander Ray Yuki. As Patrick Zala lies dying, he urges his Athrun to fire the GENESIS superweapon at the Earth. His death pushes Athrun to tears, but does nothing to sway Athrun from trying to find away to stop the GENESIS from firing. Instead, Athrun decided to detonate the nuclear-powered Justice in the GENESIS itself, with him still inside, in a last ditch effort to stop the machine from firing. Because Cagalli reminds him that he needs to stop running and have the courage to live, Athrun boards Cagalli's MBF-02 Strike Rouge and they escape the explosion. Afterwards he is seen exiting the mangled remains of the Stike Rouge before being caught in a teary-eyed embrace by Cagalli. Later they find Kira alongside his badly-damaged Freedom by following his robotic pet bird, both of them crying tears of joy at the sight of him.
Gundam SEED Destiny
Athrun leaves ZAFT and moves to the Orb Union, living under the pseudonym Alex Dino (アレックス・ディノ Arekkusu Dino?). During the Armory One incident, he is present in the PLANT as Cagalli's aide and bodyguard, and is involved in the fighting to retake the stolen mobile suits. He later joins the ZAFT battleship, Minerva, and fights against the terrorists in the Junius Seven Colony Drop alongside Shinn Asuka and former teammates Yzak and Dearka. Aboard the Minerva, he is unmasked by Gilbert, the Chairman of the PLANT Supreme Council who had joined the Minerva in its pursuit of the mobile suit thieves. Athrun nearly dies during this battle, but is rescued by Shinn.
Athrun and Cagalli then desembark Minerva at Orb, where Cagalli's political duties keep them separated much of the time. Seeing the deteriorating political situation, Arthun decides to return to the PLANTs. Before leaving, Athrun silently slides a ring onto Cagalli's finger, which leads to an awkward moment before they regain their composure and share an emotional farewell, including a kiss. (In Gundam SEED Destiny I: The Shattered World, this kiss was reanimated into a light peck on the cheek).
Return to ZAFT
In the turmoil preceding the declaration of the Second Bloody Valentine War, he returns to ZAFT, hoping to avert the war, but it is too late. Athrun meets with Chairman Durandal, who convinces him to use his power to keep the world on the right path. Athrun re-enlists in ZAFT, and Durandal appoints him a member of the elite special forces, FAITH. Athrun is assigned the new mobile suit ZGMF-X23S Saviour, and given total freedom of action.
With Saviour, he returns to Earth and joins the Minerva in the battle against the Earth Alliance, now allied with Orb. Athrun becomes commander of the Minerva's mobile suit pilots Rey Za Burrel, Lunamaria Hawke, and Shinn. Athrun is somewhat of a mentor to Shinn, though the two do not always get along well.
His romantic life becomes more complicated. Lunamaria develops an interest in him. She informs him that Cagalli, has almost gone through with an arranged marriage to Yuna Roma Seiran, but was kidnapped before the ceremony was completed. Athrun finds out he is still considered engaged to Lacus Clyne, whose role has been taken by Meer Campbell, a singer who is impersonating Lacus for political reasons, and Meer pursues him rather aggressively. Lunamaria's younger sister Meyrin Hawke becomes interested in Athrun as well, but her shyness makes this less apparent.
Athrun is involved in the Battle of Gulnahan and Dardanelles, where he loses a new, but dear friend, Heine Westenfluss. After Dardanelles, he bumps into Miriallia Haw, who arranges a secret meeting for him with Cagalli and Kira Yamato. Lunamaria spies on this meeting under orders from Captain Talia Gladys.
Athrun and the others disagree strongly on many points. He tells Cagalli that if she wants Orb to stop fighting against ZAFT, she needs to return to Orb and get them to end their ties to the Earth Alliance. In return, Athrun is told that Coordinators have attempted to assassinate the real Lacus, which means Kira and the others do not trust Chairman Durandal. Much is still unresolved after he leaves.
Second defection from ZAFT
Athrun's mobile suit, the Saviour, is later destroyed by Kira in the ZGMF-X10A Freedom during the Battle at Crete, because Kira is angry over what he thinks is Athrun's indifference to Cagalli's emotional distress. Not long after watching the epic battle between Shinn and Kira during Operation Angel Down, resulting in the destruction of the Freedom and the supposed sinking of the Archangel by the Minerva, the distraught and disillusioned Athrun is tipped off by Meer, who had overheard Chairman Durandal and Rey. Since they have failed to fully convince him of their cause, they were preparing to frame him as a traitor using photographs of his meeting with Kira and Cagalli. (Athrun's situation probably was not helped by his defection in the first war.)
Rather than be arrested, Athrun flees. Meer refuses his offer to escape with him, though she does not aid those pursuing him, either. Soon after, Athrun take refuge in the room of Minerva CIC officer and gifted hacker, Meyrin. With her help, Athrun escapes from ZAFT's Gibraltar Base in a stolen ZGMF-2000 GOUF Ignited mobile suit.
Claiming that Athrun and Meyrin are working for Logos and have stolen ZAFT's top military secrets, including its plan to attack Logos headquarters at Heaven's Base, Chairman Durandal orders Rey and Shinn to pursue Athrun with their respective new mobile suits. Athrun informs Shinn that he was being deceived. Although Shinn is shocked and reluctant to shoot at first due to his anger, he eventually goes into SEED mode and destroys the GOUF Ignited, seemingly killing both Athrun and Meyrin. The pair was actually injured and unconscious and are rescued by a defected Earth Alliance ship led by Ledonir Kisaka, the former Kusanagi co-captain in the First Bloody Valentine War, who had infiltrated, now pretending to be an Earth Alliance officer. Athrun recuperates from his ordeal on the Archangel, watched over by his friends, Kira and Cagalli, and later by Meyrin.
Battle of Orb
During the battle of ORB, an incapacitated Athrun helplessly resigns himself in watching the battle from afar inside the Archangel, he even screamed Cagalli's name terror both in the original, in Gundam SEED Destiny Special Edition II Flames of Destiny and Gundam SEED Destiny: The Edge when he discovers that Shinn had joined in the fray piloting the ZGMF-X42S Destiny Gundam. Once Lacus arrives, her words get through to Athrun and he regains his confidence and decides to launch with the ZGMF-X19A Infinite Justice, wearing an Orb pilot suit, to join the battle. Athrun tries to persuade Meyrin to stay in a place of safety, but she chooses to accompany the Archangel.
Even though Athrun is not fully recovered from his wounds, he helps Kira who has been fighting the ZGMF-X666S Legend and ZGMF-X42S Destiny Gundam all by himself. Shinn, pilot of the Destiny, is shocked and angry that Athrun has survived their last encounter. Athrun demands that Shinn stop attacking Orb and questions if what he is doing is right. Urged by Rey and convinced that Athrun is a traitor, Shinn attacks Athrun but the two are fairly evenly matched. Once Shinn activates his SEED Athrun responds in kind and in a single move cuts off the ZGMF-X42S Destiny Gundam's hand, however in the Special Edition it revealed this was possible due to Shinn getting distracted. Athrun is, however, badly beaten by Shinn in Gundam SEED Destiny: The Edge thanks to the severity of his injuries.
After the ZAFT forces retreat, Athrun loses consciousness and the pilotless Infinite Justice begins a freefall. Kira in the Freedom catches the Infinite Justice and prevents a crash. When Kira removes Athrun's helmet and pilot suit back on the Archangel, Athrun's wounds have re-opened and he is bleeding profusely. Kira orders a stretcher to bring Athrun to the sick bay and Athrun recovers from his injuries not long after. After a full recovery, Athrun is commissioned into the Orb military and assigned as one of the Archangel's mobile suit squadron commanders.
Return to Space
Following Lord Djibril's attack on the PLANTs using the Requiem superweapon, Minerva returns to space on Chairman Durandal's orders and there is another conflict between ZAFT and Lord Djibril in space, which leads to Djibril's death and ZAFT's capture of the Requiem.
Athrun and the crew of the Archangel, which now includes Neo Roanoke, go into space aboard the Archangel and vow to stop Chairman Durandal from implementing his "Destiny Plan". Before they leave, Cagalli addresses the troops. Athrun is surprised to see she is no longer wearing the ring he had given her, and she leaves without speaking to him. His friends Kira and Lacus attempt to speak with him about Cagalli, but Athrun assures them everything will be all right. Meanwhile, Cagalli tells Meyrin to take care of Athrun and leaves, crying. Cagalli returns to her homeland, using her political position to sort out the issues that have plagued Orb while she has been away. In Gundam SEED Destiny "Final Plus", new footage had been added to the scene in episode 45. The new footage shows Cagalli embracing her friends. Athrun Zala being the last (and only one to have initiated the embrace first) to be embraced before the they leave Earth. Cagalli stays in ORB and attends to her duties instead of going with them. In Gundam SEED Destiny: The Edge, the scene is retained and after embracing Cagalli, at the end of Phase 19 of Volume 5, while at the bridge of the Archangel with Kira, Athrun silently says to himself (instead of Kira and Lacus as in the Final Plus) that there was no need to rush and that their dreams were the same. Even adding at the end of his personal monologue that:
"So that our paths may cross again...
I will protect that future."
The Archangel docks at the free Copernicus City on the Moon, where Athrun, Kira, Lacus, and Meyrin go on an information gathering trip in the city. They receive a note addressed to Lacus, in which Meer claims she is about to be killed. Athrun and Meyrin both suspect it is a trap, but Lacus wants to see Meer.
At the meeting, ZAFT soldiers attempt to assassinate Lacus. Athrun guns down most of the opposition, though Kira and Meyrin prove competent in defending the group as well. Meer however, is shot and killed by a bullet intended for Lacus. Distraught, Athrun carries Meer's body back to the Archangel, where she is given a funeral.
This scene is different in Gundam SEED Destiny: The Edge with the most prominent change being Athrun's still injured state, the absence of Meyrin during the trip to the city and the presence of the three ZGMG-XX09T DOM Trooper pilots in her stead.
Battle of Messiah: Assault on REQUIEM
When the Atlantic Federation, Orb Union, and Kingdom of Scandinavia refuse to participate in the Destiny Plan; Chairman Durandal uses the captured and repaired Requiem superweapon to destroy the Arzachel Lunar Base and part of the Earth Alliance fleet.
The remainder of the Earth Alliance fleet and a few members of ZAFT then join the forces of Terminal in an attempt to stop Durandal before he can use the Requiem again to fire upon and thus annihilate Orb.
During the final battle, Athrun comes upon Lunamaria in her ZGMF-X56S Impulse. He does not want to fight her, but, because Lunamaria refused to backdown, he was forced to into disabling the Impulse. Seeing this, Shinn proceeds to attack Athrun in rage thinking that Athrun had originally meant to hurt Lunamaria. In a burst of rage, Shinn charges at Athrun while in SEED mode. Lunamaria, having realized the truth behind Athrun's words and fearing for Shinn's unstable state, moves between them in an attempt to stop the battle at the last second, but Shinn is unable to stop himself from attacking. Athrun goes into SEED mode and saves Lunamaria, heavily crippling the Destiny and propelling it downwards onto the Moon’s surface. With the badly damaged Destiny and Impulse no longer a threat, Athrun goes off in search of the Minerva and disables it's main thrusters using the ∞ Justice's Fatum-01 backpack/sub-flight lifter.
Athrun, along with Mu La Flaga in the ORB-01 Akatsuki, make their way past ZAFT's last defensive front and penetrate the Requiem's positron deflector. Just as the superweapon is about to fire, they destroy the core of the Requiem, ultimately saving ORB.
In the Gundam SEED Destiny "Final Plus" episode, Athrun then boards the Messiah, following Kira. He arrives just in time to overhear Kira and Durandal's conversation and even lay witness to the scene of Durandal being shot by Rey. He and Kira escapes the Messiah safely afterwards. When retreat flares are fired from all surviving ships, Athrun, feeling pity for the two, picks up Shinn and Lunamaria from the Moon, in the Infinite Justice. In episode 50 of Gundam SEED Destiny, Athrun never boards the Messiah.
In "Final Plus", at the ravaged Orb memorial previously visited by Shinn, Kira, and Lacus in episode 8, Athrun and Shinn (accompanied by Meyrin and Lunamaria) are paying their respects when Kira and Lacus join them. Athrun introduces Kira to Shinn and Lunamaria as the pilot of the Freedom. Afterwards, the three pairs go their separate ways with Meyrin following behind Athrun. It is unclear if Athrun still pursued Cagalli after.
In the ending credits of Gundam SEED Destiny: Special Edition, Athrun is shown wearing an admiral's uniform of the Orb military as he escort's Kira to the PLANTs to meet with Lacus, meaning he chose to return to and stay in ORB.
- "War is not about being a hero!"
- "Killing for revenge. Dying for revenge. Does it truly bring us any closer to peace?"
- "Remember; this is a mission, not a fight."
- "Stop fooling yourself! Destroying everything! Even wiping out the future! Is this really the world you desire?! Or that kind of power you desire?!"
- "I can't exactly fight a war with a big smile on my face."
- "We separated as friends and the next time I saw him we were enemies"
- "Using a rescued civilian as a hostage? So do you still feel justified in fighting by their side with these cowards? Kira?"
- "You need to stop fighting while you're still trapped in your past! Doing something like this won't bring anyone back!"
- "You know I'm not the type of person who gives up."
Gundam Seed Destiny
In the manga series Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny: The Edge, the events of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny are told from Athrun's point of view. Kuori Chimaki's artwork depicts him as a more mature, yet somewhat effeminate figure. Chimaki Kuori, the author, noted that this series had a shoujo ("young girl") flavour in his remarks at the end of volume 1. In the Gundam SEED manga, Masatsugu Iwase tries to make him look gallant while not making him look too feminine as he wanted to make Athrun look affected by Kira. Athrun is also the narrative figure in the Gundam SEED Destiny: Special Edition compilations.
- Throughout the SEED franchise, Athrun is known to be the most formidable SEED mode user, not having been defeated once while using it. Even while suffering from his injuries, Athrun still manages to slice off one of the Destiny's arms in the battle for ORB, though he did lose consciousness soon after. In the final battle though, he was able to defeat Shinn and his Destiny with ease after activating his SEED.
- Athrun has the somewhat dubious honor of being the only character in the Cosmic Era who self destructed his mobile suits not once but twice. (He detonated the Aegis to destroy the Strike and self destructed the Justice to destroy GENESIS.)
- Throughout the SEED franchise, Athrun is shown piloting high-mobility, commander-type mobile suits, which share a reddish color scheme. This idea was probably based on, or some sort of homage to, another ace pilot in the Gundam metaseries, who also pilots red commander-type mobile suits.
- Athrun pilots two different Gundams in the SEED and SEED Destiny series,which share a reddish color scheme,and has an antenna-like sensor on the head. The first Gundam that Athrun boards in both series are both transformable and designed for high-speed combats.
- There is no ZGMF-X23S Saviour in Super Robot Wars L and Super Robot Wars K. The default unit for Athrun in Super Robot Wars L is a common green ZAKU Warrior until he receives the ∞ Justice. While in Super Robot Wars K, Athrun will join Mist and Angelica (the game's protagonists) after the battle of Messiah with the ∞ Justice. However, an early scenario give the player an opportunity to play as Athrun (as Alex Dino) with a Murasame as his unit.
- In Super Robot Wars L, Athrun betrayed ZAFT and join the Orb Union with the entire Minerva crew (except Rey).
- Athrun due to a mix of reasons, such as his separation from Cagalli and being the subject of three girls' crushes, has acquired a reputation for being a womanizer among some fans.
- In the first Super Robot Wars Z2 game, there's a scene where Omza Lee states his mistrust of the ship's womanizers, noting Athrun to be particularly bad. Kira merely chuckles after seeing this.
- This reputation may also be caused by Athrun's side changing tendencies in both series. In SEED he changed sides from ZAFT to Orb/Three Ships Alliance and in SEED Destiny, he goes from Orb to ZAFT and Back to Orb/Terminal again. This in itself has caused some fans to make jokes about his seemingly Loyalty problems.
- Athrun won Animage's Anime Grand Prix Award in 2004 in the category of favorite male anime character of the year
- The English dub of Gundam SEED voice actor, Samuel Vincent was also voiced of Russel Perguson from Littlest Pet Shop (2012), Edd (Double D) from Ed, Edd n Eddy Krypto from Krypto the Superdog, Billy and Martin Mystery as himself of the Marathon Media show and other characters from the show.
- Since the release of Extreme VS in the arcades, Japanese fans have subjected Athrun's energetic voice clips into several comedic MADs, most notably "Tuhh!" and "Hyeeeah!". Such videos are often tagged with "Apologies to Ishida-san" .