Keith Shadis is the head instructor of the 104th Training Corps. He is in charge of their training and evaluation to become soldiers.
|Survey Corps Commanders|
|◄ Preceded by|| 12th|
|Followed by ►|
|That's right. Average men aren't able to accomplish anything. Special people do exist. It's just that...I wasn't one of them.|
|— Keith admits his own shortcomings|
Keith Shadis (キース・シャーディス Kīsu Shādisu?) is the head instructor (教官 Kyōkan?) of the 104th Training Corps. He is in charge of their training and evaluation to become soldiers. He is the former 12th Commander of the Survey Corps, being the direct predecessor of the deceased Commander Erwin Smith.
Keith is a tall and intimidating man. He is bald, with a slightly tan complexion and prominent wrinkles on his forehead. His most notable features are dark circles around his eyes which make him appear more imposing and frightening.
During his years as a Survey Corps commander, Keith had a head of short brown hair, a gentler face, and a slightly lighter skin complexion.
The stress of being a member of the Survey Corps has taken a huge toll on Keith. Within the span of a few years, he lost all of his hair, grew a goatee, and gained dark circles around his eyes indicating that his experiences have tormented him to a certain degree.
In his youth, Keith is shown to be fascinated with the world beyond the Walls. It is this fascination that drives him to join the Survey Corps, and leads to him developing a very self-righteous personality, often referring to himself as being "different" from everyone else within the Walls. This aspect of his personality is only strengthened after he meets Grisha Yeager, whose high praise for Keith leads him to begin considering himself a special "chosen" human being. Because of this, Keith begins to look down on others, always considering himself the smartest person in any given situation, and reject new strategies from his soldiers as he feels his own ideas are adequate.
Over time, however, Keith's repeated failures as Commander of the Survey Corps, compared to the successes of some of his subordinates, cause him to come to the conclusion that he is not one of the "chosen" people, and he eventually is forced to admit his failures while presenting the remains of one of his soldiers to a grieving mother. Keith chooses to step down from his position so that someone more qualified will be able to guide humanity to victory. Keith then became an instructor for the Military, claiming he chose to become an instructor as penance for all of the soldiers who died under his command, although Hange Zoë theorizes that he only did so because he wanted to run away from his failures.
As an instructor, Keith deliberately presents himself as imposing, strict and frightening, and because of this most of the trainees from the 104th Squad remain wary of misbehaving around him. He shouts and commands at the top of his voice, putting the trainees into submission and fear.
He is observant and has the ability to discern the character traits of other people by their expressions, mannerisms, actions, and abilities, as shown when he gives a character analysis of some of the trainees of the 104th Squad.
Keith met Grisha Yeager in the year 832 outside of Wall Maria by the Shiganshina District. He encountered extremely few Titans that day. Bringing the man back to Shiganshina with him, Keith was forced to imprison Grisha, as it was illegal for citizens to venture into Titan territory. After Grisha was released from prison without charges, Keith promised to teach him about the world inside the Walls.
In a bar, Keith explained the lifestyle that the citizens of the Walls led. Although Grisha was suitably impressed with the lives that the Walls' citizens led, Keith insisted that Grisha was wrong to be happy with what humanity had within the Walls, as there was an entire world beyond that they were unable to access. Grisha was intrigued as to whether these beliefs were what drove Keith to join the Survey Corps, and although Keith confirmed that they were, he admitted that all the corps has done is remind humans why they should be afraid of the Titans. Grisha, impressed by Keith's words, began to praise him for his work, and is overheard by a barmaid named Carla, who began to chastise Keith of trying to recruit more people to the Survey Corps. Keith was left stunned by Grisha's response to her: that he would not join the Survey Corps even if offered, as it required special people.
Taking Grisha's words to heart, Keith developed an attitude of superiority. As the corps' failures continued to pile up, he began to feel that if he were to become the Survey Corps' Commander, he would achieve unprecedented results.
When an epidemic broke out in Shiganshina, Carla and her family were among those that were stricken by it. Upon discovering her, Keith brought her to Grisha, who announced that he had developed a cure for the disease. Keith helped Grisha administer the cure to his patients, but noticed during his work that Grisha and Carla had become closer.
On an expedition, the 11th Commander of the Survey Corps was eaten by a Titan and Keith was appointed as his successor.
Keith later attended the wedding of Grisha and Carla, leaving early in the ceremony.
The Survey Corps did not see a rise in success under Keith's leadership. Although Erwin Smith proposed a strategy, "Long-Range Scouting Formation," that he had devised to reduce the number of casualties on expeditions, Keith refused to use it, telling Erwin to try it once he was Commander.
Returning from another failed expedition, Keith was forced to listen as crowds of onlookers insulted him for always staying alive while other soldiers had died, and comparing his failures to Erwin's successes. Carla, observing their return, called out to Keith from the crowd, introducing her child to him. She asked if he would keep doing this until the day he died. Snapping, Keith began to rant that ordinary, worthless people like her would never understand why he did what he did, as they were incapable of thinking of anything beyond their own lives.
In the year 845, Keith leads an expedition outside of Wall Maria. Upon encountering a Titan, Keith orders the Survey Corps' attack groups to engage the Titan while he and the other soldiers act as decoys.
As the corps returns to Shiganshina District after the expedition's failure, the mother of one of his fallen soldiers comes to Keith to inquire about her son. He presents the elderly woman with what little remains of him, an arm. Horrified and in tears, she asks him if he served well and aided humanity's cause even in the least bit, forcing him to break down as well and admit that all their missions have ended in failure and that he has nothing to show for all the deaths under his command.
Broken by this latest example of his failure as a commander, and forced to finally admit that he is not one of the "special people" Grisha referred to, Keith resolves to resign as commander. He names Erwin as his successor.
That night, after Wall Maria's breach, Keith is located by Grisha, who asks him to help him find his family. Frantic to find Carla so that he can apologize for what he said to her the last time they met, Keith is left devastated when Grisha locates Eren, and Eren reveals that Carla has been eaten. Grisha begins to take Eren into the woods, saying that he must avenge Carla, but Keith insists that Grisha should not place such a burden on Eren, as the child might not be special like him. Grisha tells Keith that being his son makes Eren different from him, and orders him not to get involved.
Minutes pass when Keith unexpectedly hears thunder from the direction Grisha went with Eren, prompting him to venture into the forest to find them. He finds Eren lying unconscious with no sign of Grisha. He brings Eren back to the shelter to rest with Mikasa and Armin.
He is next seen two years later, now serving as an instructor of the 104th Training Corps. He goes around intimidating and frightening trainee after trainee, asking them their names and place of origin. Other instructors note this as "rite of passage," meant to break trainees down so that they can become stronger. He ignores a few trainees like Eren, Mikasa, Annie, Bertolt and Reiner able to tell from their faces that they do not need to be broken.
He roughly turns Armin around with his hand, asking the third line to turn around and watch him as he proceeds. After hearing that Jean wants to join the Military Police Brigade, he gives him a headbutt, making him fall down. He attacks Marco telling him how he would be a very good servant for the King. When Connie performs the salute with his left hand, he picks him up, holds his head and stretches his eyes and asks him if his heart was on the right side. He sees Sasha Blouse eating a potato and walks over to her demanding to know the reason she was eating it at a time like that. When offered a piece of the potato, Keith orders her either to skip lunch or do laps until she was on the verge of death. She accepts the latter.
The next day, Keith supervises and instructs the trainees regarding the basic aptitude test, which involved swinging upright with ropes tied to their waists. Keith decides to sabotage Eren's vertical equipment so that he will be forced to give up and and stay inside the Walls, where he will be safe. Though Eren fails miserably, Keith agrees to give him another chance the following day.
The next day, Eren is momentarily able to remain upright, before falling again. Seeing the determined look in Eren's eyes, Keith realizes it is pointless to try to stop Eren, and claims to notice that Eren's gear is faulty. Having Thomas Wagner switch belts with Eren, Eren is easily able to pass, and Keith praises him for having managed as he did even with a broken belt. Keith muses that Grisha's son has finally become a soldier.
Later, he supervises and instructs the trainees regarding further training involving horse riding, hand-to-hand combat, vertical maneuvering, etc. He is seen commanding and criticizing Armin for his lack of stamina and observes as Reiner helps Armin to carry his load. He keenly observes the characters of each of his trainees and analyses the strengths of the squad.
He notes the following regarding some of his trainees:
- Reiner Braun - He's strong as an ox and has a will to match. But more than anything, he's earned the trust of his comrades.
- Armin Arlert - When it comes to physical strength, he doesn't measure up to soldier standards. But I hear that in the classroom lectures, he's shown extraordinary imagination.
- Annie Leonhart - The angle of approach of her slashing attack is impeccable...She carves deeply into the target. Personality-wise, she tends to be a loner and has trouble cooperating.
- Bertolt Hoover - He's mastered every single skill that's been taught...And I believe he has a lot of potential...But he lacks drive and tends to leave decisions to others.
- Jean Kirstein - He has a deep understanding of the vertical maneuvering equipment and excels at exploiting that skill...He can also take in a situation at a moment's glance, but his personality is like a drawn sword, which tends to create conflict.
- Connie Springer - He has a fine sense of balance and is effective at vertical maneuvering. However, he's got a slow mind and often makes strategic mistakes.
- Sasha Blouse - She moves quickly and has remarkable instincts...But she has issues with structure, making her ill-suited for organized activity.
- Mikasa Ackerman - She's mastered every single difficult subject perfectly. Her talent is historically unprecedented, making her the most valuable of them all.
- Eren Yeager - Though proficient at barehanded fighting, he doesn't seem to have any other skills...But he possesses a sense of purpose that's twice as strong as anyone else's. Through constant effort, his grades have improved steadily.
When Rod and Historia Reiss trigger an incapacitated Eren's memories, Keith is among the flashing images, where Eren sees the moment when Grisha found him among the fleeing crowd after the fall of Wall Maria.
Due to this, he is later visited by Eren, Mikasa, Armin, Levi, Hange, Jean and Sasha at the training camp. There, Eren asks Keith to say everything that he knows. Keith recognizes how much he looks like his parents, then he recounts his experiences with Grisha and Eren's mother (see History). After remembering all he has done, he finally understood that he was nothing more than a bystander, powerless to change anything.
- Grisha Yeager - During an expedition outside the Walls, Keith found Grisha walking around with no horse or equipment. He was shocked to learn that Grisha did not know of the Survey Corps or anything about the ways of life inside the Walls. He brought him inside, teaching him of the life people lived in the Walls. Together at a bar, Grisha told Keith that he was a special, chosen man, which gave him a great sense of confidence. When Grisha claimed that he remembered he was a doctor, Keith put him to work at a hospital where he later brought Carla Yeager, begging Grisha to heal her. This later resulted in Grisha and Carla's marriage, which generated feelings of jealousy and sadness in Keith. When Wall Maria fell, Keith implored Grisha not to get Eren to exact his revenge for Carla, saying he may not be special. In the later years, Keith held feelings of resentment toward Grisha for making him think he was special, and he then turned over his position as Commander to Erwin Smith.
- Carla Yeager - It was hinted that Keith had strong feelings for her. During their youth, he frequently visited her store, and quickly brought her to Doctor Yeager when she fell ill. When she was cured, she hugged Grisha with great gratitude and Keith displayed a shocked expression at the scene. During Carla and Grisha's wedding, Keith sadly watched the new spouses from the distance and left the venue in silence. During his return from an expedition, Carla expressed her worry about Keith's activities in the Survey Corps, and he rudely accused her of being a worthless individual who ingratiated every man she saw by pouring them drinks and that she was too ordinary to ever understand what great deeds were. However, after hearing the news of the invasion on Shiganshina, he regretted his words and wanted to apologize, but collapsed when Eren informed him that she had been eaten by Titans. In respect for her, he tried to prevent Eren from joining the military after he enlisted in the 104th Training Corps by sabotaging his equipment, in order to save his life, but changed his mind after witnessing Eren's determination.
- According to Hajime Isayama, he remains single because he does not believe he deserves happiness after so many died under his command.
- Keith was the first commander of the Survey Corps to ever name a successor and step down before being killed.
- At 198 cm (6'6"), Keith is the tallest human character in the series.