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 Military Training Corps. He is in charge of their training and evaluation to become soldiers. Keith was formerly the 12th Commander of the Survey Corps, being the direct predecessor of Erwin Smith, and the only Commander in the corps history to quit before death.
Keith is a tall and intimidating man. He is bald, with prominent wrinkles on his forehead and dark circles around his eyes. He has a small beard growing from under his chin. He is only ever seen wearing the standard instructor's uniform for the Training Corps.
In the past, Keith had a head of neatly combed short dark hair and a much more youthful face, lacking the wrinkles and bags under his eyes that he would later develop. He also kept his face clean shaven before ascending to the Survey Corps's commander. He wore the standard Survey Corps uniform while on duty, and his civilian attire consisted of a dark jacket over a button-up shirt, and dark pants. After becoming commander, Keith's hair became more unkempt, and he began to grow a thin beard along his jaw.
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 believes 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 during the process, 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.
During the initiation, Keith notices that Eren is among the new recruits. Recognizing the fire in Eren's eyes, and afraid that he will get himself killed if he joins the Survey Corps, Keith decides to sabotage Eren's entry into the military. He tampers with Eren's vertical maneuvering equipment, ensuring that Eren will not be able to properly balance himself during his basic aptitude test the following day.
The next day, Keith supervises and instructs the trainees regarding the basic aptitude test, which involved swinging upright with ropes tied to their waists. Though Eren fails miserably, Keith agrees to give him another chance the following day.
The next day, to Keith's shock, Eren is momentarily able to remain upright in spite of his sabotaged equipment. 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.
Recognizing Keith in his father's memories, Eren and his comrades pay Keith a visit at the training grounds. Bringing them inside to speak, Keith notes that he barely recognizes any of his former trainees. Levi likewise notes that Keith has changed much in the five years since he stepped down as commander of the Survey Corps. Keith sullenly notes that he was the first commander to step down rather than die, and notes that this might have been the one decision of merit that he made in his entire career as commander. Keith notes that Eren looks just like his mother, which prompts Eren to ask Keith to reveal everything he knows. Keith obliges, but cautions that nothing he knows will be of any benefit to humanity. He then recounts his experiences with Eren's parents, beginning with his discovery of Grisha outside of the Walls, and ending on the night of Wall Maria's breach.
Once he has finished his story, Hange angrily chastises Keith for becoming an instructor for "childish" reasons, and for withholding information from the corps, but Eren stops the criticism, admitting that Keith was right in his assessment that Eren is not special, and is only related to someone who is special. Eren's words move Keith, who tells Eren of something Carla once told him: that in her opinion, Eren does not have to be better than anyone in order to be special. He is special simply for being born into the world.
As his guests leave, Keith visits the section of the training grounds where new trainees' aptitude for vertical maneuvering equipment is tested, and reminisces on his failed attempt to sabotage Eren's entrance into the military.
In the year 854, Keith is still working as an instructor for the Training Corps, training the 109th batch of trainees. Despite the eradication of Titans from within the Walls, Keith continues to regularly have the trainees practice Titan combat, a choice which draws criticism from his students who have begun to view his ways of training as outdated.
One day, as he is preparing to have his trainees defend Shiganshina from a mock Titan attack, Keith is interrupted by the arrival of the Yeagerists, who inform him that they will be commandeering the Corps's headquarters. Keith mocks the Yeagerists leader, Floch Forster, making it clear that he has no intention of surrendering. Floch demands that the trainees join the Yeagerists, and that they prove their loyalty to the new regime by beating Keith. Hange tries to stop them, but Keith reassures her that the trainees will not be able to hurt him. The trainees then proceed to beat him into unconsciousness.
As prisoners are released during Marley's invasion, Connie is surprised to find Keith in one of the military's cells. Keith encourages the soldiers to leave him behind, sarcastically alleging that his injuries came from a bear.
When a group of Titans are transformed by Zeke Yeager and begin attacking the military headquarters, Keith comes to his former trainees' rescue, saving them from an attacking Titan and rallying them to join him in battle. Keith and his trainees draw the rest of the Titans in Shiganshina to the military headquarters and help the veteran soldiers eliminate all of the Titans.
After the battle, Keith's trainees bandage the wounds they inflicted upon him. They suggest fleeing the fortress to keep Keith safe from the Yeagerists but Keith points out that he has nowhere to run in light of the support the Yeagerists enjoy from Paradis's population. The trainees promise to protect him, but Keith orders them not to endanger themselves by openly opposing the Yeagerists.
- Erwin Smith - While both were comrades within the Survey Corps, Keith would often ignore Erwin when he proposed training or expedition methods that were against the more traditional ones he was used to. Keith would begin to change his mind about Erwin when he would constantly have little or no casualties when compared with other teams under his command. Eventually, Keith would resign his position and give control of the Corps to Erwin, demonstrating a level of respect for his subordinate.
- 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. Keith 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.
- 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.
- Mikasa Ackerman - While viewing many of the recruits in the 104th Training Corps as weak or average at best, Keith did take note of how strong and efficient a soldier Mikasa was, greatly impressing him and viewing her as the most valuable trainee.
- Floch Forster - Even before his insurrection and betrayal of the Military, Keith seemed to hold Floch in contempt. When faced with the threat of injury, Keith insulted Floch for being a weak person and using scare tactics to gain followers for his cause.
- Keith tied with Mina Carolina for forty-first in the Second Character Popularity Poll.
- 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, Keith is the tallest human character in the series.