Jean Kirstein is a member of the Survey Corps, ranking 6th among the 104th Training Corps.
|I just don't want those charred bones I saw to be disappointed in me. I...I know what I have to do now.|
|— Jean to Armin and Reiner over the demise of Marco Bott|
Jean Kirstein (ジャン・キルシュタイン Jan Kirushutain?) is a graduate of the 104th Training Corps, among whom he ranked 6th best. Jean hails from Wall Rose's Trost District, and joined the military with hopes of obtaining a peaceful life as part of the Military Police Brigade, but would later find himself joining the Survey Corps. Currently he serves as a commanding officer in the Survey Corps, leading a squad during the Raid on Liberio.
Jean is a young man with spiky, gray hair shaved into an undercut style, with the shaved portion being black. He has small, intense brown eyes, and is said to have the same vicious look in them as Eren does. Jean is of average height and muscular build, and has a scowl similar to Eren's but is said to have a long face (a "horse face"). He is often seen wearing the typical uniform of the Survey Corps worn with an olive-gray button-up shirt. After overthrowing the government, his hair appears slightly longer than before.
Four years later, he has grown a goatee and his hair is now longer. He has also grown to be rather tall as an adult, standing 190 centimeters. While infiltrating Marley, Jean wears a black Survey Corps uniform with anti-personnel vertical maneuvering equipment.
Jean has a blunt personality. He holds no restraint when it comes to speaking his mind, even when he knows it would not be wise to do so or when it could spark conflict. Jean is also pragmatic: he has a strong aversion to exposing himself to dangerous situations, and has openly admitted his desire to join the Military Police is due to wanting an easy and safe life.
During his time as a trainee, Jean was extremely hot-headed, easily becoming frustrated and quick to resort to violence when pushed. Jean was also very cynical about defeating the Titans, believing that humanity has no chance against them. He openly mocked more idealistic individuals like Eren, and saw resisting the Titans as a hopeless cause.
Despite his shortcomings, Marco describes Jean as a natural leader, being able to understand others and assess situations well because of his flaws. Indeed, during the Battle of Trost, Jean proves capable of leading his fellow soldiers when they are left confused and leaderless, and rallies Armin and Reiner in an attack on the Female Titan, knowing that not fighting her would endanger the rest of the Survey Corps. His awareness and leadership capabilities were further displayed during the Battle of Shiganshina, when he took command of Armin's squad, and Liberio when he led many of the 104th graduates to attack the Marleyan military. He is also appreciated by Connie who deems him capable of becoming a future leader of the Survey Corps.
Although he presents himself as self-centered, Jean places high value on the lives of his comrades, and is ashamed and horrified when he must leave helpless allies behind to save himself and others. He was also willing to risk his life even if just to slow down the Female Titan, as refusing to do so would have certainly resulted in countless more deaths. Jean later criticized Erwin's plan of withholding information from his subordinates out fear that there was a spy among them, feeling that the plan did not justify the lives lost because of it. In addition, Jean is greatly averse to taking human lives. Jean's moral principles initially prevented him from killing enemy soldiers, but he would reluctantly set aside his conscience for the sake of his friends and allies.
Jean's first instinct is to always see life through cautious and doubtful eyes. He was hesitant to accept Armin and Reiner's plan of having the Attack Titan fight for them, and immediately admitted to never having trusted Ymir when she seemingly kidnapped Krista. Despite this, following the second appearance of the Armored Titan, Jean was also the one to motivate Eren to continue fighting for humanity's victory, showing that he is slowly adopting the same idealistic outlooks he once criticized.
After coming of age, Jean enlists into the military, joining the 104th Training Corps. On the day of his enlistment, Jean confidently admits his desire of joining the Military Police and receives a headbutt from Keith Shadis for his troubles.
That night, Jean overhears Eren Yeager talking about his desire to join the Survey Corps and criticizes him for the decision, but apologizes after seeing that his words have upset Eren. As the trainees file out of the mess hall, Jean sees Mikasa and, immediately taking a liking to her, tries to talk to her but she immediately blows him off in favor of talking to Eren. Devastated, Jean develops a grudge against Eren.
The following night, after performing well during his first day of Vertical maneuvering equipment aptitude training, Jean is approached by Eren for tips on how to maintain balance, but only ridicules him for his poor performance.
Over the course of training, Jean and many other trainees begin slacking off in all areas except for those which will be absolutely necessary to graduate in the top 10, including hand-to-hand combat lessons.
On another night, Jean brags to his friends about the ways he utilizes his maneuvering equipment, joking that they should refrain from telling his secrets to others so that he will not face extra competition for a place in the top 10 graduates. His joke annoys Eren, who criticizes the idea of improving one's Titan-killing skills in order to get a position in the military farther away from the Titans. As their argument becomes increasingly aggressive, Jean finally loses his temper and gets physical with Eren, prompting Eren to disarm him by kicking out one of his legs. Their fight is interrupted by Instructor Shadis, and Eren and Jean agree to finish their fight later. This motivate Jean to start taking his training more seriously.
Jean performs well during his training, motivated by his ambitious dream of ranking amongst the top 10 to join the Police Brigade and also his desire to outdo Eren.
During a training session in which the trainees practice their maneuvering skills against Titan mannequins, Connie Springer and Sasha Blouse follow Jean while he is training and take advantage of their superior speed to steal his kills. Following the session, Jean confronts them about their dirty tricks, but they show no remorse for their actions. He overhears Marco admitting that he allowed others to kill the Titans he found, wanting to act as "bait" for the Titans the way he would in an actual combat scenario, and joins his fellow trainees in proclaiming that he would like to be in a squad led by Marco. However, Marco claims that Jean would make a better leader than he would, explaining that Jean's lack of strength combined with his good judgement would make him an ideal leader.
As part of the 104th, Jean succeeds in ranking in the top 10 of its graduates, placing just under Eren and coming in at sixth. After the graduation ceremony, Jean, proud of his accomplishment and eager to join the Military Police, gets into an altercation with Eren. Fancying himself a realist, Jean's ideals brings him to blows with the more idealistic Eren, who criticizes Jean as a coward.
Following the second attack of the Colossus Titan, Jean, along with the rest of the 104th Training Corps, are sent to the front lines to deal with the Titans that have begun entering the city. Only one day away from joining the Military Police, Jean panics, lamenting the poor timing of the attack on Trost.
Later, Jean is among the trainees that are left unable to evacuate from the battle, as their equipment have run out of gas. Jean angrily decries the supply soldiers, who have holed up inside of Trost's military headquarters, blaming their cowardice for his impending death. Although Connie suggests that they make a last ditch attempt to reach the military headquarters and resupply, Jean points out that they have no one to lead them, and begins lamenting what a boring life he has led.
Once Mikasa arrives and decides to make a last ditch charge for the HQ, Jean joins her in rallying the soldiers present to attack. As the soldiers begin to advance, Jean advises his allies to keep any engagements short, so as not to waste gas. However, Jean soon realizes that there is no way to reach the headquarters without sacrificing some of the soldiers on the way. One of his fellow trainees runs out of gas and is stranded, and against although Jean advises against it, other soldiers go to try to rescue him. As the would-be rescuers and captured and devoured along with Tom, Jean decides to capitalize on the situation by leading the remaining recruits to reach the headquarters while the Titans are distracted.
Reaching the headquarters, Jean is horrified by his decision to exploit his comrades' deaths, before attacking the supply soldiers hiding in the building, telling them their inaction is what led to the soldiers' deaths. He is interrupted by the arrival of Titans outside the building, attracted to the large number of humans that have gathered. Losing hope that beating the Titans is impossible, Jean is left stunned at the arrival of an abnormal that proceeds to fight off the Titans. Mikasa, Armin, and Connie arrive in short order, explaining that the abnormal is helping them.
In need of a way to clear out the Titans that have infiltrated the headquarters's supply room, Jean and his comrades search the building for weapons, eventually finding buckshot rifles amid the Military Police Brigade's supplies. Armin devises a plan to clear out the Titans in the supply room using the rifles to blind them so that others can cut their napes. Jean is among the seven soldiers selected to slay the Titans after they have been blinded. The plan succeeds, and all of the trainees are able to resupply.
After resupplying, Jean prepares to leave with his fellow trainees, but is distracted when Mikasa and Armin go to observe the rampaging Titan. He, Reiner, Bertolt and Annie follow, and are greeted by the sight of the Titan being cannibalized by its fellow Titans. Reiner suggests helping the abnormal Titan out, but Jean is unwilling to risk his life for a Titan, and is unconvinced by Reiner's argument that it could be used as an ally. Fortunately, they do not have to because the Titan breaks itself free in order to attack another Titan, collapsing soon after. As an unconscious Eren emerges from the Titan's nape, Jean is left stunned by the knowledge that Eren was responsible for the rampage her just witnessed.Jean, Annie, Reiner and Bertolt are put on standby with their fellow trainees, and are ordered not to tell anyone else about what they witnessed. Jean's fellow trainees are concerned by Mikasa's absence, worried that she injured herself while leaving the headquarters. Jean refuses to answer their questions, although he freely admits that he does not expect the military to be able to keep what has transpired covered up for long. Hearing an explosion coming from the Wall, Jean and the others who witnessed Eren's transformation recognize what is happening and immediately go to investigate.
Two days after the successful sealing of Wall Rose, Jean is among the soldiers who help remove bodies from Trost, and comes upon Marco's body. Shocked and horrified, Jean tries to ask other soldiers if they saw what had happened to him, but is stopped by a nearby nurse who insists that Jean identify the body and continue to work.
Later, he and the rest of the 104th Training Corps burn the corpses of their fallen comrades in a bonfire. Watching the bones of his friends burn, Jean remembers Eren's speech and Marco's compliment about his strengths. Mourning Marco's death and internalizing his words of encouragement, Jean asks the other trainees which branch of the military they are planning to join. Against his own wishes and fears, Jean tearfully declares that he will join the Survey Corps.
During graduation, despite fearing what might happen to him in the future as he would inevitably encounter more Titans, Jean joins the Survey Corps instead of the Military Police Brigade.
After joining the Survey Corps, Jean confronts Eren regarding his role as humanity's savior, declaring that he is putting his trust in him as he does not wish to die. Jean participates in the 57th Expedition of the Survey Corps.
Not long into the expedition, Jean encounters the Female Titan. Cooperating with Armin and Reiner, Jean engages the Female Titan, believing that if he does not at least slow it down, it will continue to wipe out more and more soldiers. The three succeed in confronting the Titan, but are quickly overpowered and are nearly killed, though they all escape with their lives. Following the battle, Jean desperately tries to locate his lost horse. With only Reiner's horse present, someone will have to be left behind. Luckily, Krista arrives with Jean's horse in tow.
Making their way to Titan Forest, Jean and the others are ordered to perch among its tall branches to distract Titans from entering while Erwin and Eren handle the Female Titan. Jean is surprised to see how the Titans learn to climb the trees in order to reach them. While they wait, Armin confides to Jean his belief that their commander had suspected a spy amongst them but declined to reveal this knowledge. Jean questions the morality of such a decision, but Armin defends Erwin, stating that it was a necessary risk, and the lives it cost are justified if gambles are ever to succeed, though Jean has his doubts.
After the expedition fails, Jean returns safely to Wall Rose. Days later, due to both having similar eyes and demeanor, he is chosen to pose as Eren for his trial, leaving the real Eren free to help in the final attempt to capture the Female Titan.
Following the second appearance of the Female Titan, at Eren's bedside, Jean finally learns about Annie's true identity from Armin and how she encased herself in a crystal to avoid interrogation. He also finds out about the Titans similar to the Colossus Titan inside the Walls being used due to their hardening abilities. Jean and Armin head down to the meeting between Commander Erwin Smith and the head of the Military Police Brigade, Nile Dok.
Jean joins the main body of the Survey Corps in Trost District and is present when Phil reports to Dot Pixis that there is no breach inside Wall Rose. When he hears that three additional trainees from the 104th can change into Titans, he demands to know who they are, but Erwin calms him down.
He joins the combined military force of the Scouts, Military Police, and the Garrison in a long range scouting formation to a forest of giant trees where Reiner and Bertolt are suspected of taking the kidnapped Eren. Jean is among the Scouts who enter the forest to search for him. He and the other members of the 104th encounter Ymir in her Titan form and watch her capture Historia Reiss in her mouth before fleeing. Jean calls for everyone to pursue her.
At the edge of the forest, Reiner transforms into the Armored Titan, carrying Bertolt, Eren, Ymir, and Historia on his shoulders as the soldiers pursue them. When Reiner protects Bertolt and Eren by covering them with his hands, Jean grapples on to the Armored Titan and joins the other members of the 104th in trying to talk down Bertolt and Reiner by asking if their friendship had meant anything. He calls out how they shared the same roof for three years and how the other cadets used Bertolt's odd sleeping positions to predict the weather.
Though Bertolt breaks down beneath the weight of his guilt, any possible resolution is interrupted by the arrival of Erwin and the horde of Titans chasing him and the rest of the military. Jean and the others have to jump off the Armored Titan, which charges into the horde.
He is shocked by the carnage in front of him as the Titans immobilize and chew on Reiner, but Erwin tells him they are just getting started. Erwin orders the soldiers to retrieve Eren and Jean joins the charge along with Mikasa. She tries to free Eren, but is grabbed by a Titan when she misses her attack on Bertolt. Jean stabs it in an eye to free her.
The soldiers retreat when Eren is freed, but Reiner begins throwing Titans at them. One of them lands directly in front of Jean, knocking him off his horse and causing him to land hard on the ground where he passes out. In the ensuing chaos, Armin tries to protect him. As the situation looks desperate, Eren punches the Titan attacking him and Mikasa and triggers something that causes all the other mindless Titans present to tear it apart.
Jean survives the retreat back to Wall Rose and estimates that 60% of the soldiers who went to retrieve Eren perished and another 20% are critically wounded. He notes that what Eren does will decide if the sacrifices were worth it. He also says that he has saved Mikasa. Instead of getting angry, this revelation convinces Eren to not hold back and do everything he can to retake Wall Maria. Jean later appears as a new member of Squad Levi, carrying supplies with Sasha and Armin.
Jean sits in silence as Levi, Armin, and Hange reveal their plan to use Eren to seal Wall Maria by hardening his skin like the Female Titan. He is also present when Historia reveals the truth about her past and when Hange reveals the murder of Minister Nick by the Military Police First Interior Squad. He and Sasha are later assigned to stand guard outside the hut.
He stands guard again during Hange's Titan experiments with Eren, and is bothered when he is informed that the experiments did not work.
Later, the group receives some mysterious instructions from Erwin that leave them in shock, and they abandon the hut to follow the plan. Shortly after, they watch from the distance the hut being stormed by the Military Police Brigade First Interior Squad.
As they walk through the city, they are surrounded by angry citizens who accuse them of wasting their taxes without giving results, and in the commotion, Eren and Historia are seemingly kidnapped by a rushing wagon. However, it is later revealed that they are Jean and Armin posing as Eren and Historia, with Jean visibly annoyed for having to impersonate Eren again.
At their new base, Jean expresses worry over who their enemies really are, and theorizes that they will be hung if their revolution to replace the king with Historia fails. He hears Erwin's plan from Nifa to hand over Eren and Historia to the Military Police so that they can find Rod Reiss. He is shocked when Levi starts attacking Historia and tells him that such action is unnecessary.
After the Survey Corps is accused of the murder of Dimo Reeves, Jean is among the members that remain in hiding. He passes unnoticed among the crowds gathered to hand out flyers and discuss the fugitives, wearing a hat and cloak to disguise himself. Upon rejoining the others at a stable, he passes out the flyers detailing Levi's appearance and crimes, and expresses doubt about their circumstances. He states he expected to be killed by a Titan, not forced to become a hated fugitive from the law. Disheartened, he expresses doubts about Levi and their current situation, stating that he would refuse to kill another human even if ordered to do so.
After Levi is attacked by the Military Police Brigade, Levi's squad starts moving in order to follow Eren and Historia. They are surprised when they see the anti-personnel vertical maneuvering equipment and even more when Levi kills a soldier cutting him in half. Levi regroups with his squad and tells them to stop chasing Eren and Historia because the Military Police is using them as feed so that they can kill them. Levi orders Jean to provide fire with his rifle. He manages to train his rifle on an enemy soldier who is kicked into the wagon by Mikasa, but when he hesitates to kill her she slaps the gun out of his hand. However, Jean is saved by Armin.
The squad manages to escape and they hide in a barn. Jean seems to feel very sad and ashamed because Armin had to kill in order to save him. He then apologizes to Levi and admits that he was mistaken and that he will not hesitate next time he has to pull the trigger. Jean is a part of the group to capture Hitch Dreyse and Marlowe Freudenberg, and listens carefully at the conversation between them and Levi. Jean asks Levi to take care of Hitch and Marlowe himself. He takes them away from the squad and decides to kill them, but fails. Marlowe takes the chance to pick up Jean's knife but Jean immobilizes him again. Jean then makes a deal: if Marlowe gives him the knife and risks his life, he will believe that Marlowe's wish to help the Survey Corps is sincere. Marlowe accepts and throws away the knife. Jean, after being hit by Hitch, reveals that it was all a test and that Levi will accept them.
Thanks to Marlowe and Hitch, Levi's squad manages to infiltrate a Military Police base. Jean helps the infiltration by disabling the enemies with his rifle. The squad takes a hostage and Jean watches while Levi interrogates him. A group of Military Police comes looking for the Levi's squad. This group later informs that the Survey Corps have been cleared of treason, which makes Levi's squad to rejoice.
Jean takes part in the assault of the Reiss Chapel against the Military Police. He first shoots flares in order to keep Levi and Mikasa hidden, before then jumps into action with his vertical maneuvering equipment. During battle, Jean kills his first person by cutting his adversary's neck. However, the battle is suddenly interrupted by the flash and sound of a Titan's transformation from deep within the cave. Levi's squad locates the cavern where Eren and Historia are, which is starting to fall down due to the transformation of a gigantic Titan. Jean helps unchain Eren while trying to explain the current situation to him. Just as Eren is freed, Jean and Levi pull Eren out of the way of a falling boulder. As they contemplate their options, Eren begins apologizing and doubting himself. Jean jokingly questions his abilities, but like the others, he waits for Eren to decide what action to take. Eren finally decides to transform into a Titan and believe in himself in order to save his friends.
After Eren transforms and hardens his body to hold the falling rocks, Jean helps Mikasa get Eren out of his hardened Titan body. Then Jean and Squad Levi start following the now Abnormal Titan Rod Reiss, which is heading to the Orvud District attracted by the dense population. Jean is present when Erwin and Hange explain their plan to the Garrison soldiers to fight Rod outside the city. He is then seen at sunrise on top of the Wall with the rest of the Squad where he explains to Eren that they had to kill people and they have had a long and stressful day. Their conversation is interrupted when Rod Reiss finally arrives at the city. As Rod's Titan looms over Wall Sheena, Jean and the rest of the squad cover themselves in water to resist the Titan's intense heat. After destroying the Titan's hands to make him crumble, Eren, in his Titan form, obliterates its head using concentrated gunpowder. Jean and his squad mates target chunks of the destroyed Titan's body, hoping to destroy Rod's human body within.
Sometime later, following Historia's coronation as queen, Jean and the rest of Squad Levi follow Historia as she talks about punching Levi. Eren advises her against it, but Jean cheers Historia on. he is stunned when she actually punches Levi, but even more so when Levi smiles softly and thanks them.
Two months later, Jean, Armin, and Eren are talking on a farm that Historia uses as an orphanage. He tries to antagonize Eren, but is ignored. When Historia sees them, Jean tries to convince her to give them a break. She orders them to continue carrying boxes inside, causing him to compare her to his mother.
Days later he is in the barracks eating with other soldiers. He talks with Marlowe about how happy he seems about transferring to the Survey Corps even though he has never seen a Titan, just like other soldiers that did the same, and that the new Executioner from Hell works, allowing the soldiers to retake Wall Maria. The conversation changes to Eren's memories and the nature of the Titans, remembering Ymir and Connie's mother. Jean tells Eren that he has to focus on remembering the man that his father met years ago. He again jokes with Eren, saying that he should be head-butted by the instructor, giving Eren the answer.
In the morning, Jean goes with Eren, Mikasa, Armin, Levi, Hange, and Sasha to see the Keith Shadis. Jean sits inside a small house with the rest of the team except Sasha. He listens to the story about Grisha Yeager and Keith without saying a word. Finally, after telling the whole story, Keith admits that he has no power and that he is just a bystander.
Time passes, and the preparations for the Shiganshina District operation are ready. The night before the operation, the soldiers are having a special dinner in order to celebrate and prepare them for the operation. The dinner becomes crazier and crazier because of various reasons: first, Sasha gets mad after seeing all the meat, trying to eat it all, even biting Jean and punching Marlowe Freudenberg.
After this, Jean explains to Marlowe why, as a rookie, he should be on the rear instead of on the front line, saying that he needs it in order to learn and survive long enough to train other soldiers. Jean uses Eren as an example of a useless and a suicidal soldier, who charges straight into the enemy. This enrages Eren and they start fighting and insulting with nobody stopping them. Jean shouts at Eren asking him how many times would he have died if he did not have those Titan powers and how many times would Mikasa have had to save him. The fight continues until Levi steps in and knocks them both, stopping the fight.
The next morning, Jean takes part in the operation to retake Wall Maria. After hearing the cheers of the civilians, he is one of the first that screams in joy. When the operation starts, he is with the Levi Squad, riding towards Wall Maria.
On the way to Shiganshina, the soldiers are walking at night on foot through a forest on a mountain. Jean scolds Connie for calling Eren for his name, telling him he has to assume that there is an enemy around every corner.
When they arrive at Shiganshina, Jean switches to his vertical maneuvering equipment at the order of Erwin. He is covered in a hood and a cloak just like the others soldiers, so Reiner and Bertolt could not discover which of the soldiers is Eren. After Eren seals the hole in Wall Maria, Jean's squad begins to return to Erwin, but stop and take up positions on the Wall before they can reach him after seeing him fire a signal flare. From there, they are able to watch as Reiner reveals himself to be hiding inside the Wall, and the Beast Titan reveals himself with an army of Titans.
As Eren and Reiner engage each other, Jean and his squad wait alongside Hange's squad for an opportunity to attack. After Eren manages to maneuver Reiner into an area of town with tall buildings, Hange and Mikasa blind Reiner with their new Thunder Spears, which allows Jean and his fellow soldiers to destroy the armor covering Reiner's nape with their Thunder Spears. When Hange orders a second attack to destroy Reiner's nape, Jean notices Connie and Sasha hesitating, and pushes them to fight. After destroying Reiner's nape, Jean begins gloating to Reiner's body, but the sight of Connie and Sasha crying for Reiner causes him to tear up as well, though he desperately tries to convince them to cheer up. At this point, to Jean and his comrades' surprise, Reiner's Titan begins roaring.
Having been informed by Armin of Bertolt's approach, Hange orders Jean and his comrades to retreat before they are caught in the blast of Bertolt's transformation. After retreating to a safe distance, Jean and his comrades watch as Armin goes to try to negotiate with Bertolt. When negotiations fail and Bertolt transforms to his Titan form, Jean and the rest of Squad Levi take cover behind Eren's Titan form to shield themselves from the blast. As Mikasa and Armin return, Jean is shocked to learn of the apparent demise of Hange and her squad.
As Bertolt begins to rampage through Shiganshina, Jean and his teammates ask Armin to instruct them on what to do. However, Jean is unhappy with Armin's plan to retreat beyond the Wall and wait for Bertolt to exhaust his energy, pointing out that Bertolt will simply throw burning debris over the Wall where the horses and the commander's group are. Armin decides to give leadership to Jean, but Jean insists that he will still need Armin's help coming up with a plan to fight Bertolt.
After retreating from Bertolt's immediate vicinity, Jean has Eren attempt to attract Bertolt's attention away from the rest of the Corps but is surprised to see that Bertolt is deliberately ignoring them. With no other option, Jean orders a direct attack on Bertolt, despite protests from Connie and Sasha. As Eren approaches Bertolt, Jean and his comrades spread out and watch as Eren attempts to push Bertolt back. For a moment, it looks as though Eren has stopped Bertolt's advance, but Jean and his teammates are horrified when Bertolt calmly kicks Eren into the side of Wall Maria.
Jean reassures a worried Mikasa that Eren is not dead. Despite acknowledging that humanity is on the verge of defeat, he announces that they should not go down without trying to defeat the Colossus Titan. He takes advantage of the Thunder Spear considering that the Colossus Titan is unaware of their properties. He shouts insults at the Colossus Titan to get its attention in order for Mikasa to pierce his nape with the Thunder Spear. But before being able to do so, the Colossus Titan repels them off with hot and pressurized steam. Before Jean can formulate another attack, his group is stopped by the sight of the Armored Titan. Seeing that Reiner has once again recovered from his injuries, Jean begins to lose hope and turns to Armin for advice. After hearing Armin's theory about the Colossus Titan's weakness, Jean agrees to lead Squad Levi in an attack against Reiner while Armin goes to retrieve Eren.
As he leads Squad Levi toward Reiner, Jean orders his teammates to focus on Reiner and to trust Eren and Armin to stop Bertolt. Jean orders his teammates to try to keep Reiner's attention, but when Reiner ignores them, Jean agrees with Mikasa that Reiner will have to be killed. As the squad only has three Thunder Spears left, Jean devises a plan to blow open Reiner's mouth with two, before firing the third into his mouth to blow him out of his Titan's nape. Jean acts as bait to distract Reiner while Sasha and Connie attack, but they are caught off guard when Reiner throws debris from nearby buildings at them. Jean is injured by the attack but remains conscious to witness Hange's return and Reiner's defeat at Mikasa's hands.
As Jean's injuries are treated by Mikasa, Jean watches as Hange interrogates a captive Reiner. When Reiner refuses to give up any meaningful information, Hange decides to execute him, but Jean hurriedly argues that Reiner should be kept alive so that his Titan shifting powers can be taken away with the Titan injection. Hange's response, that Reiner is too dangerous to be kept alive, surprises Jean, who comments that Hange has never been the type to simply accept that she does not understand something. Swayed by Jean's words, Hange orders Mikasa to retrieve the serum from Levi so that they can use it, to Jean's relief.
As Jean and Hange discuss who should be given the serum, they are interrupted by Mikasa, who fires a signal flare, signaling that Reiner should be executed. As the flare rises into the air, Jean notices a quadrupedal Titan approaching Hange. Acting quickly, Jean manages to save Hange from being devoured but is unable to stop the Titan from rescuing Reiner and departing. As the Titan retreats, Jean angrily blames himself for letting Reiner escape death yet again, though Hange assures him it was her choice, thus her mistake.
He comes to the rooftop with Hange and Connie, who carries Sasha on his back. Jean is shocked after seeing Erwin and Armin, both half-dead and lying unconsciously. Then he and his comrades observe debate over who receives the serum. When Levi proclaims that he is going to inject Erwin, Jean leaves the roof with the others, crying and saying his goodbye to his comrade. However, Levi finally decides to give Armin the serum instead. Jean and his fellow soldiers see Armin's mindless Titan form devouring Bertolt. They later help Armin with getting out of his Titan body.
Jean sits on a bedroll after Eren informs Armin of the events that had transpired and says that it is been four hours since the battle had ended and that they have searched for survivors this whole time, without finding any.
After returning home victorious, Jean accompanies Hange to deliver Ymir's letter to Historia. He then attends a meeting where he and the rest of the surviving Survey Corps soldiers are debriefed by Military generals and Historia. He is later seen awaiting an honorary ceremony with his fellow soldiers. When Hitch arrives, Jean assures her that Marlowe died with honor, but Floch disagrees, admitting that he was very brave, but he most likely regretted his choice in his final moments. As a sad Hitch leaves, Jean is appalled by Floch's insensibility. He is later honored by Historia.
After the Battle for Shiganshina, a year passes and the use of the Executioner from Hell clears Wall Maria from all Titans. Jean is among the Survey Corps members to lead an Expedition beyond Wall Maria, and finds a Titan whose limbs were so small that it can only crawl. He is among the Survey Corps soldiers that arrive at the ocean, amazed that the water was actually salty.
Following the arrival of the Marleyan survey ships, Jean helps his friends work on a railroad track while they discuss opening diplomatic relations with other nations of the world. However, Hange Zoë informs the group that Hizuru did not gain them any allies. As the group departs by train, they discuss who should inherit Eren Yeager's Titan.
When Mikasa volunteers, Jean responds that she might not be able to due to her heritage and Ackerman lineage. He then offers himself in her place, arguing that he is smarter than Eren and has excellent judgment. However, Connie Springer argues that Jean's reasoning would be why he would be more valuable as a future leader in the Corps and they could not afford to lose him after thirteen years. After hearing everyone's arguments, Eren decides not to select any of them as his successor due to valuing their friendship and wishing them all to live long lives.
At some point before the Raid on Liberio in the year 854, Jean is given the rank of Commanding Officer and assigned to lead a squad during the upcoming battle. During the battle, he alights on the edge of a building and shoots the hook of his anti-personnel vertical maneuvering equipment into a Marleyan soldier to throw him off the roof. Witnessing an explosion at a nearby building, Jean grapples his way over to find Floch Forster with an armful of explosives. He yells at him to keep civilian losses to a minimum, but Floch is undeterred. Floch says they cannot wait inside the Walls for death, which Jean cannot refute.
Sasha Blouse and Connie report in to Jean that all the lights are in place and ask if they are moving forward with the plan. Jean confirms they are as long as they can disable the War Hammer Titan in time.
He and the other Survey Corps soldiers with him watch Eren attempt to devour the holder of the War Hammer Titan and the subsequent attack on Eren by the Jaw Titan. Jean and the others jump into the fray to join Levi Ackerman, but are brought up short by the arrival of the Cart Titan, which is perched on a nearby roof. As the War Hammer Titan reforms, Jean notices the arrival of the Beast Titan.
Jean warns his soldiers of the incoming debris being thrown by the Beast Titan and tries to prevent them from prematurely retaliating, but two of them are killed by the Cart Titan's Panzer Unit. After Armin Arlert cuts off the Marleyan reinforcements, Jean orders his soldiers to take out the Cart Titan's machine guns. When the Cart Titan charges at Sasha for killing a member of the Panzer Unit, Jean intervenes, telling it that he never got to pay it back for last time.
He fires a Thunder Spear that strikes the Cart Titan's helmet and it ricochets through the eye slit, blowing off part of the Titan's head. When it does, Jean calls for his squad to give it all they have, and they succeed in eliminating the Panzer Unit. The battered Cart Titan stumbles off the roof and crashes to the ground below. Jean pursues it, intending to strike a final killing blow, but a boy jumps in the way and begs him not to shoot it.
He attempts the final blow regardless, but a burst of steam emerges from the Cart Titan's neck and his shot goes wide. Jean is uncertain whether it is the steam's fault or that he naturally missed. His squad attempts to finish off Pieck when her body emerges from the Cart Titan, but Magath and some Marleyan soldiers put up a vigorous defense and Jean calls for his soldiers to fall back. When the Survey Corps' airship arrives, Jean orders his squad to protect it from any enemies below using all their firepower left.
As the soldiers retreat, Jean leaves Lobov to cover the rear and joins his squad on board. Sasha and Connie inform him that they have six confirmed casualties on their side, which bothers him. Though Floch leads most of the soldiers in a cheer for winning the first battle for the new Eldian Empire, Jean uses the time to consider how many more battles they will have and how many more people they will have to kill.
A clank against the airship draws Jean's attention as a girl rolls into the cabin and fires a rifle into the group of soldiers, striking Sasha. Jean retaliates, but his shot misses when the boy from before pushes her out of the way. As his soldiers apprehend the two children, he rushes over to Sasha and calls for first aid. When Floch suggests throwing the children out of the airship, Jean asks if that would really stop all the bloodshed. Jean takes the children to meet Zeke Yeager and explains to Eren and the others how they sneaked aboard and shot Sasha. Shortly thereafter, Connie follows up to inform everyone that Sasha has died. Jean tells Eren that this is his fault, because he got the Survey Corps involved.
After returning to Paradis, the soldiers who were killed in Liberio are buried. While visiting their graves, Connie and Jean are forced to defend Nicolo, a Marleyan prisoner-of-war, who is being harassed by another soldier. Learning that Nicolo had wanted to visit Sasha's grave, they lead him to where she was buried.
Jean sits quietly in a room with Mikasa Ackerman, Connie, and Armin. He brings up the topic of the Anti-Marleyan Volunteers' arrest, surprised that Dot Pixis would resort to the use of strong-arm tactics, but he supposes that it was inevitable while they are unaware of Zeke's true plans and his influence on Eren. They discuss the situation regarding the Yeager brothers and Mikasa still wants to believe in Eren, but Jean points out how he has forced all of them on to the battlefield even though he once claimed they were important to him.
Shortly thereafter, Jean attends a meeting that Hange conducts with a group of Survey Corps soldiers who are found to have leaked word of Eren's arrest to the public. After hearing their point of view, Hange orders the dissidents to be confined for their insubordination, and Jean escorts Floch to his cell.
After the Yeagerists escape from confinement, Jean attends a meeting with the various military leaders. He is surprised by Pixis's announcement that they should surrender to Eren and begin negotiations while ignoring the deaths of Zackly and the other victims. Jean asks Hange if she believes it is a good idea that they should trust Eren and Zeke and she disagrees with Pixis's assessment.
Hange takes Jean and the other former 104th members to the restaurant where Nicolo works, and he takes them into a private dining room while he attends to his other guests. Jean tries to take a sip of the wine stored there, but Nicolo stops him, saying that the wine would be wasted on Eldians. Armin later calls Jean into another room where he finds Nicolo holding Falco hostage with a knife. After Nicolo surrenders his weapon, Jean helps restrain him while Nicolo admits that the wine likely contains Zeke's spinal fluid.
Jean slams Nicolo against the wall and demands that he explain. Nicolo then reveals Yelena's plan to serve the wine to high-ranking officers. Jean asks if he stopped them from drinking the wine to protect them, but Nicolo is not truly certain. While trying to help rinse the wine off Falco, Jean is caught by the Yeagerists. He tries to convince Floch that this could all be part of their enemies' plan, but Floch refuses to listen. Jean is taken away in a carriage along with his comrades en route to Shiganshina District. Afterwards, Jean is placed in a cell alongside with those captured at the restaurant.
While in confinement, Jean questions Armin on why Eren would attack him and is baffled to hear it is because Eren verbally attacked Mikasa. However, Jean is skeptical Eren would commit such an act unless he had an ulterior motive. The conversation is interrupted by the Anti-Marleyan Volunteers. Jean quickly accuses Yelena of wanting to use Eldia to get revenge for her homeland but is cut off by Griez who begins to slander the Eldians. Yelena responds by shooting him much to the surprise of the prisoners. She then goes on to deny the previous allegation before explaining Zeke's euthanization plan. However, Jean is unconvinced since Eldia will be eventually become defenseless but Yelena insists the Founding Titan will still be a deterrent. They are then interrupted by a messenger informing them about a captured infiltrator. As Yelena and the Anti-Marleyan Volunteers leave to deal with the issue, Jean and the rest of the prisoners hear a commotion on the roof, realizing that the Titans have started to move.
Onyankopon arrives and frees them from their cell, begging them to help defend Eren. Onyankopon claims to have had no knowledge of Yelena and Zeke's euthanasia plan and although Jean claims to believe him, he points out that helping Eren will only help them bring their plan to fruition. Armin argues that Eren will activate the rumbling instead of going through with Zeke's euthanasia plan and despite his reservations, Jean agrees to help. As the soldiers go to release the rest of the Yeagerists' prisoners, Jean orders Nicolo to watch after Sasha's family.
A group of Yeagerists try to have them detained again, but Jean cows their leader into submission by telling him that he will be responsible for Eren's death if he stops them. He helps free the other prisoners and equips himself with a set of vertical maneuvering equipment and enters the battle. He covers Connie as they fly through the district and witnesses the latter saving Armin and Mikasa from being shot by several Marleyan soldiers. He is then tasked by Armin to help take out the Marleyan soldiers from behind, electing to have Commander Pixis and Nile Dok lead the assault from the ground.
Eventually, Jean hears a piercing scream and looks back to see several beams of light shooting out from all over Shiganshina; he realizes that the scream came from Zeke and he has converted all the affected Eldians into Pure Titans. Momentarily stunned by this, Jean soon pushes it aside and continues to engage the enemy. He soon finds Eren about to be crushed by Reiner, but saves him by shooting a Thunder Spear into the hand of the Armored Titan and detonating it.
Vertical maneuvering equipment
Jean is highly adept at using vertical maneuvering equipment, being able to maneuver well even on open terrain, which is considered extremely difficult and not many people can do so. He has also shown his capability in being able to attack and slay Titans efficiently even without his proper equipment and can successfully maneuver around them in order to directly attack their nape or simply avoid them. Four years after Wall Maria was reclaimed, his skill on maneuvering equipment has not changed. Jean has proven to be highly proficient in using anti-personnel vertical maneuvering equipment; ambushing Marleyan infantry from rooftops and even using his equipment's hooks to fling an enemy soldier off a building. Using maneuvering equipment is his greatest strength.
Jean is highly skilled in the usage of Thunder Spears, enough to ambush the Cart Titan and shoot a spear through one of the eye slots of its helmet, effectively blowing up the helmet and leaving its head vulnerable to attacks.
Jean is also an exceptionally level-headed individual, able to see the big picture and make tactically wise decisions when it counts. It was these traits that earned Jean his rank as 6th best among the 104th squad.
He also seems to be proficient with firearms, as he is seen using one during the persecution of the Survey Corps. He is capable of shooting people with no intention to kill them, just to incapacitate them, with great accuracy.
Jean Kirstein's statistics :
- Marco Bott - Since their days as trainees, Marco had been Jean’s closest friend and confidant. Jean would occasionally mock Marco for his idealistic reasons for joining the Military Police, insisting that the only reason anyone would join would be for the safety and comfort. Despite this, it was Marco who encouraged him to accept his abilities as a leader, and his death at Trost had a life-altering impact on Jean.
- Eren Yeager - Jean and Eren initially share a fierce rivalry which stems from their differing viewpoints: while Jean sees Eren’s eagerness to join the Survey Corps as suicidal and foolish, Eren sees Jean's desire of joining the Military Police as cowardly and selfish. It is actually Jean's desire to outdo Eren that pushes him to improve himself during training. Despite their bitter rivalry, which would occasionally turn violent, Jean also respects Eren to a certain degree, admitting that he lacks the latter's courage. Upon realizing Eren's potential for wielding the power of the Titans and the hope he represents for mankind, Jean sets aside his enmity for Eren. However, Jean continues to call out Eren's behavior whenever he feels it is necessary, such as after the events in Liberio when Sasha is killed during the retreat. Despite his continued criticisms of Eren, Jean later admits that he was envious of Eren all the years they were at odds at each other and does harbor some respect for him.
- Mikasa Ackerman - Jean has had a huge crush on Mikasa ever since he met her, and admires her beautiful black hair, although Mikasa has more or less remained indifferent to Jean. During casual conversation, Jean tends to blush and stutter around Mikasa and immediately jumped to her rescue when a Titan threatened her. Despite his crush, Jean does not sympathize with Mikasa’s devotion to Eren, stating that most people do not share her willingness to throw their lives away for him. It was this same devotion that partially fueled Jean’s resentment of Eren.
- Armin Arlert - Although Jean was initially put off by Armin’s dedication to Eren, the two eventually manage to find common ground in their similarly rational natures. Jean and Armin often share complex conversations about morality, strategy, and the problems at hand. While Jean usually takes a more humanistic stand, Armin will often defend a more pragmatic point of view. Despite their differences, Jean and Armin gradually become friends. He cried when he thought Armin was dead, and later helped him out of his Titan, crying tears of relief.
- Marlowe Freudenberg - Jean takes a liking to Marlowe due to the latter's behavior reminding him of a particular "dumbass". When Marlowe later joins the Survey Corps, Jean is the one who explains to him how their branch functions during an operation and why recruits are not allowed to be cannon fodder.
- Floch Forster - Jean guided Floch when he first joined the Survey Corps, advising him as to their situation and prompting him to tell Hitch the meaning of Marlowe's death, showcasing the two to be on friendly terms. During the Raid on Liberio, the two are seen arguing over civilian damages, showcasing an immense difference in ideologies.
- Three members of the Panzer Unit
- Hajime Isayama has said his favorite character is Jean.
- According to Isayama, if the 104th Training Corps had an arm wrestling competition, Jean would be evenly matched with Eren Yeager.
- "Jean" is the French variant of "John," meaning "Blessed by God."
- When feeling great confliction, Jean has a habit of tightly clenching his fist and staring at it intently.
- In a fake preview for Volume 19, Jean can be seen being devoured by the Titan that ate Mike Zacharias.
- Additionally, in the fake preview, Jean can be seen as a Titan. The Titan was around 7 meters and retained his facial features while having a slight limp.