In a recent interview with White-Screen.jp, Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) creator Hajime Isayama reveals that he’s been paying close attention to the fan feedback on his groundbreaking manga/anime franchise, to the point that he has been influenced to make changes to the direction based on fan reactions.
According to Isayama, he was originally planning on an ending that is similar to the one on Frank Darabont’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mist, which was bleak and depressing (even though the protagonist survived.) However, the manga-ka stated that he’s been evolving his manga with new additional elements, and that one of the big changes was the ending, and that he now wants to avoid a traumatizing ending because he didn’t want the fans to be traumatized after such an overwhelmingly positive support for the series.
There are countless of stories in pop culture where sudden changes were made to things just for the sake of pleasing the fans only ended in a diluted output, but we’ll give Isayama the benefit of the doubt. It’s not like the actual ending has been revealed already (and in the interest of fairness, there are also cases where changes made to please viewers resulted in even more success – Kevin Smith’s Clerks wouldn’t have netted a sequel if he went with the original ending.)