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|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 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 20 years ago outside of Wall Maria by the Shiganshina District. He encountered extremely few Titans that day. He asks Grisha what he is doing outside the Wall to which he responds by asking Keith if he is outside the Walls to fight. Later, Grisha is brought to jail and Hannes calls the Survey Corps stupid for venturing outside the Walls. Keith responds by saying that there should be a law for throwing people drinking on the job into jail. Grisha is brought out of jail and states that he is a doctor and that he would like Keith to teach him about the world inside the Walls and about the Survey Corps.
In a bar, Keith explains to Grisha that the Survey Corps goes outside the Walls to combat and reclaim land from the Titans. Grisha says that the Survey Corps are far nobler and wiser than anybody else within the Walls. Just then, Carla Yeager, working as a barmaid, comes up and asks Keith if he is trying to recruit more people to the Survey Corps. Grisha says that he would not be useful enough to join.There is a meeting where the Military Commanders are mocking the Survey Corps for always dying and Keith is thinking of becoming the Survey Corps Commander so that he can produce viable results. Some time later, Keith is seen bringing Carla to a hospital where Grisha is stationed as a doctor and states that she has come down with a disease. Many hospital beds are filled with sick people. Moments later, Hannes states that the cure has made his wife better. Grisha tells Keith to administer the cure to everyone in the village. Carla then hugs Grisha out of gratitude. On an expedition, the Commander of the Survey Corps is eaten by a Titan and Keith is appointed the Commander. Keith visits the wedding of Grisha and Carla.
Erwin Smith tells Keith of the "Long-Range Scouting Formation" that he has devised and advises Keith to use it in the next expedition. Keith denies this advice and tells Erwin to try it once he is Commander. On the next expedition, the Survey Corps are coming back from an expedition and crowds are insulting Keith for always staying alive while other soldiers have died. Carla then calls out to Keith in one of the crowds, introducing the baby Eren to him. She asks if he will keep doing this until the day he dies. He says that average people like her cannot even begin to understand the great deeds done by special people.
In 844, one year prior to the fall of Wall Maria, Keith served as commander of the Survey Corps, and during this time, the Corps was in danger of losing funding for expeditions. Though dejected by the news, Keith could only accept the impending collapse of his regiment, but an intervention by the ambitious Erwin Smith would see the Survey Corps saved. Keith expressed shock that Erwin found a way to sway the political field, realizing the frightening potential and genius that Erwin possessed.
At some point in time, Keith would cross paths with Levi. After being able to talk down to his other comrades and being unable to talk down nor "head butt" Levi, he would note that he did not need to meld him any more and from that point onward, people with "that look" within their eyes did not have to go through the Rite of Passage.
The day Wall Maria fell, the Survey Corps returned from a mission and Keith was involved in a public spectacle where a woman found out her son Braun had died. Just moments after this incident, Keith asked Erwin to take over as commander.
That night, Keith is among the panicking citizens when he is approached by Grisha who asks for his help. Dr. Yeager then locates his son Eren who tells him that his mother, Carla, had been eaten. With no chance to apologize for the rude things he said, Keith falls to his knees in despair. Grisha then begins to take him away to the forest but is stopped when Keith worries that Eren might not be 'special'. Grisha then dismisses these notions and leaves with Eren. Moments later, Keith hears a loud crash of thunder and finds Eren alone in the woods, unconscious. He then brought him back to the shelters and put him in bed.
In the year 845, Keith, Commander of the Survey Corps, returns through the Shiganshina District after leading a failed expedition outside the Walls. His surviving troops trudge through the town in defeat, most injured, and are observed from a distance by a young Eren and Mikasa. The mother of one of his fallen soldiers comes to him to inquire about her son. He presents the elderly woman with what little remains of him, only but 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. Later, he states his desire to retire and asks Erwin if he can take over as Commander. In the night, Wall Maria has fallen, and Grisha asks Keith to help him find his family. They find Eren lying on a blanket in a shelter. Eren reveals that Carla has been eaten during the fall of the Shiganshina District. They are both overcome with grief. Grisha resolves to have Eren eat him so that he can avenge Carla (to an unknowing Keith) and tells Keith not to follow them into the forest. Keith ventures into the forest to find them when he hears thunder. He finds Eren unconscious after eating his father. He brings Eren back to the shelter to rest with Mikasa and Armin.
He is next seen two years later, having left his command and 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 as he is able to read, from their faces, the terror they had undergone. 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 wanted to join the Military Police Brigade, he gives him a head butt, 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.
Next day, Keith supervises and instructs the trainees regarding the basic aptitude test, which involved swinging upright with ropes tied to their waists. If they failed at it, they would be sent back to the landfills. Keith decides to sabotage Eren's vertical equipment so that he would be forced to give up and not have to fight the Titans. When Eren was unable to perform the stunt, he commands him to keep his upper body up. Eren still was not able to pull it off, so he gave him a second chance the next day.
On the next day, Eren was momentarily able to remain upright, after which he swings over upside down and hits his head. Keith finally decides to allow Eren to join the Military due to seeing the fire in his eyes. He claims to notice that something is off and "presumes" that Eren's equipment might be faulty, asking Thomas Wagner to switch belts with Eren. Eren is easily able to pull it off after that and he 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 and soon enough, Armin refuses to be helped and proceeds confidently. 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 store, 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 him. This later resulted in Grisha and Carla's marriage, which generated feelings of jealously 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 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 ingratiates 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.