|God-like power. Everyone who gets their hands on it seems to turn compassionate. Would the same thing happen even to garbage like me? I want to know... what's it feel like? What does it look like from up there? Can a piece of trash...like me...ever see the same kind of thing you see?|
|— Kenny's dream|
Kenny Ackerman (ケニー・アッカーマン Kenī Akkāman?) was a member of the Military Police Brigade's First Interior Squad and the captain (隊長 Taichō?) of the Anti-Personnel Control Squad. Kenny was a vicious killer who would slit his victim's throat. He was so proficient at not getting caught that he was considered by some to be an urban legend known as Kenny the Ripper (切り裂きケニー Kirisaki Kenī?). After meeting and befriending Uri Reiss, he worked for the crown, but secretly desired the "God-like power" that the Reiss family had possessed for himself.
Kenny Ackerman was a very tall and slim man who appeared to be well-built. He had short, coarse-looking dark hair that reached to his neck and also had a thin beard along his jawline. He had the appearance of a middle-aged man with wrinkles around his eyes, which were small and piercing. He was mostly seen wearing a simple white shirt with a black tie that was never fully done up, and a large black overcoat that reached past his knees. He also had a bowler hat with a white band around it. He was almost always seen wearing a pronounced scowl, even when making a foul joke.
When he was younger, Kenny had a more defined face and much fewer wrinkles. He did not have a beard but he still had dark sideburns. Also, his hair seemed to be slightly longer. He used to wear a long coat, dark trousers and shoes, a white button shirt and another hat.
Kenny wanted power, and his personality was molded around this goal. He was a ruthless individual who did not hesitate to do anything to get the job done, including murdering children or betraying his allies. He operated with utter professionalism, hiding his emotions behind a fixed expression and showing neither remorse nor pleasure in his mission. He also showed a strong impulse to kill Uri Reiss when they first met.
Kenny expressed a desire to live a "fun" life, but had a strange idea of what he considered "fun," commenting that he believed his grandfather's story about the Ackerman clan's history because it would be more fun to do so, and commenting that growing old and living a full life did not sound fun. The only thing stranger than his idea of fun was his sense of humor, seen when he said that his grandfather's story about the persecution of the Ackermans was "funny," and when he freed Eren Yeager in order for him to fight against Historia just for his own entertainment, even though the future of humanity was at stake. He had shown a cynical mood occasionally, like when he told Rod Reiss that he was sticking around because he was looking for a toilet.
Even so, he was able to show true admiration and respect to those who he believed deserved it, like Uri or his second in command. He could also be seen at time displaying genuine care for others, killing MPs that came near his grandfather's home so that they would not harass him, and raising his nephew Levi following his sister's passing. This care for others could also be seen briefly in his interactions with Historia in the Reiss Chapel, becoming noticeably saddened to see Historia's slavish devotion to her father's will, despite the consequences that she would face if she followed through with is plan to inherit the Founding Titan. This is not to say he was overly caring; he despised cowards and did not respect them, and cared even less for titles, not hesitating to threaten Rod Reiss, the king of the Walls.
Kenny later revealed that he only obeyed Rod as a plan to obtain power, and that his true intentions were always to become a Titan and gain the Founding Titan himself, which was in direct opposition with Rod's goals. After witnessing Uri and later Frieda Reiss become benevolent people after inheriting the Founding Titan, he wondered if the same thing would happen to him too. He wanted to know what does it feel like to be kind and compassionate. His grand dream was to take the Founding Titan and see the world like Uri once did.
Despite his outward confidence, Kenny seemed to suffer from some degree of self-loathing, going so far as to describe himself as "garbage." His poor view of himself seemed to stem largely from a dissatisfaction with his own lack of empathy towards the lives of others, as his entire quest for power was motivated by a hope that gaining more power would make him a more compassionate person like Uri. His self-deprecating nature also manifested itself in a lack of self-confidence, demonstrated by his decision to abandon Levi when the latter was still a child because of his belief that he was not fit to be someone's parent.
In the decades prior to the fall of Wall Maria, Kenny was an infamous serial killer that stalked victims in Mitras. His preferred method of killing was to slit the throats of his victims, which earned him his infamous handle "Kenny the Ripper" (切り裂きケニー Kirisaki Kenī?), and it was rumored that he murdered over 100 members of the Military Police Brigade.
During this period, he had a conversation with his grandfather, who was about to die. Kenny informed him that he had murdered more members of the Military Police, and that he also has found his sister, Kuchel, working as a prostitute in the Underground and pregnant. He also explained that one part of the family had moved to the south, over Shiganshina District, but they were still poor.
Then Kenny asked his grandfather why the Ackermans, a bloodline of warriors once close to the crown, were being persecuted to the point of near extinction. His grandfather explained that the Ackermans were not hated, but feared; because their memories, along with those of the Asian races, could not be wiped out by the power of the king who created the Walls. The Ackermans of the past did not tell their children the truth in order to protect them, though this did not stop the persecution. Even so, Kenny found the story funny.
Sometime after that conversation, Kenny talked with a contact in the government, who informed him of the existence of the Reiss family, the true royal family within the Walls. Kenny tracked down Uri and Rod Reiss and tried to kill them, but failed when Uri partially transformed into a Titan and trapped him in his hand.
Though Rod tried to shoot Kenny while he was immobilized, Uri stopped him, wanting to interrogate him to discover the identity of his contact; finding Kenny's hatred towards them justified due to the persecution that the Ackermans suffered at the hands of the monarchy.
Kenny attempted another attack by throwing his knife at Uri, though the latter stopped it with his arm. Seeing this, Kenny started screaming at Uri, asking for another chance to prepare a proper ambush. To Kenny's shock, Uri released him, and even bowed before him, apologizing for the persecution towards the Ackermans and pleading him to spare his life. Kenny was surprised to see this coming from a king with that much power, and offered to help Uri, which the latter accepted.
Kenny became Uri's bodyguard and close friend, and remained at his side until the latter's death. After some years, he returned to the Underground to see his sister but found that she was already dead. He found, and then adopted, her son Levi but introduced himself to Levi as a close friend of Kuchel's, without revealing their true family relationship. Kenny lived with Levi and trained him until he was strong enough to survive for himself; at this point, Kenny abandoned his nephew without saying goodbye.
Years later, Uri explained that he would not be long for the world and he would be passing his powers to one of Rod's children, but that he would live on in their memories. Uri told him that he saw the world as ending in some time but before it happened, he wanted to make a paradise for mankind. Kenny apparently did not witness his friend's death, because in Rod's flashback, he was not present.
After Uri passed the Founding Titan to his niece Frieda and died as a result, Kenny made a plan to obtain the same Titan powers Uri had and used his influence to establish the Anti-Personnel Control Squad. It is implied that by this point he no longer was a serial killer, as he referred to it in the past tense to his subordinates; Kenny especially mentioned how the terror that he once inspired dwindled into nothing more than an urban legend.
However, the soldiers did not care because, as Traute Caven said, they had given up in the task of killing Titans, and the only remaining alternative is killing humans. This greatly pleased Kenny, as he had found his new favorite soldier and second in command.
In the year 845, days after the fall of Wall Maria, Kenny arrives with a group of soldiers at Historia Reiss's home. He grabs Historia's mother and asks Rod Reiss if she and Historia are related to him. Rod Reiss denies it and Kenny slits Alma's throat. He approaches Historia to kill her too, but Rod Reiss orders him to stop and saves her life, giving her the new name "Krista Lenz" to live by.
At one point, Kenny finds himself being stalked by a mysterious girl. Upon confronting her, the girl claims to be an illegitimate daughter he has fostered. Kenny easily sees through her lie, confident he has never done anything that would result in an illegitimate child; before he can apprehend her, however, the girl attacks him and flees into the sewers.
Kenny's squad is sent to retrieve Eren and Historia from Dimo Reeves. As his soldiers secure the two, Kenny takes Reeves to a remote spot to speak with him. Leading Reeves into the woods, he tells Reeves that he personally trained Levi and promptly kills the man for betraying the government. After confirming that everyone from Reeves corporation is dead, he tells Caven to prepare the anti-personnel vertical maneuvering equipment.
Kenny travels with his two captives to Trost, with Levi and the Survey Corps in pursuit. When Levi attempts to observe Kenny's group, Kenny flanks Levi and his companions and attacks them. He kills one of Levi's companions but Levi himself manages to escape. Kenny's squad pursues Levi, forcing him to take shelter in a nearby tavern.
Kenny follows Levi into the tavern, but is not able to find him. Concluding that Levi is not there, he is caught off guard when Levi begins to talk to him from under the counter. Levi expresses amazement at Kenny's working with the Military Police, and Kenny brushes Levi off by saying that a brat cannot understand adult matters. Kenny continues to taunt Levi, criticizing his decision to join the Survey Corps, and throwing chairs over the bar to antagonize him. As he tries to get closer to Levi, Levi shoots him with the tavern owner's gun. Kenny manages to block the bullet with a chair, saving his life, but is knocked out of the tavern by the force of the impact.
As Levi makes his escape, Caven comes to check on Kenny. Kenny remarks that Levi has grown and that his dream is slipping away from him. Having personally given up the pursuit of Levi, Kenny delivers Eren and Historia to Rod Reiss.
In the cavern under the Reiss Chapel, Kenny listens on as Rod helps Historia unlock her memories of her sister Frieda, and Eren his memories of his father's last moments. As Historia absorbs the information, Kenny reveals himself, and informs Rod that the military has switched sides, overthrown the puppet king, and taken over with Darius Zackly in charge. He encourages them to hurry, as they are almost certainly being pursued. Rod orders Kenny to take his squad and guard the entrance to the chapel, as he can only move forward once the Anti-Personnel Control Squad leaves. Clearly displeased, Kenny tips his hat and departs.
When Rod reveals to Historia that the Founding Titan's power can only be fully realized by a member of the Reiss family, Kenny reveals himself to have been listening in on them. He asks Rod to confirm what he just said about only a Reiss being able to obtain the Titan's power, which he does. Having planned to become a Titan himself and steal Eren's power, Kenny becomes visibly distraught as he realizes that his plan is pointless.
Growing angry, he lifts Rod into the air by the collar and begins to threaten him, upset that Rod knew his intentions and strung him along. Historia demands that he let go of her father and Kenny reminds her that Rod is trying to turn her into a monster who will eat Eren. Historia replies that she will do it if it is her mission, and Kenny reminds her of her terrible childhood, suggesting that Rod only saved her because Grisha killed the rest of his children. He claims that Rod used his family because he did not want to become a Titan, covered up the theft of the Founding Titan's power in order to keep the Reiss family in power, and sacrificed innumerable lives by staying quiet. Rod interjects and tells Historia that Kenny is wrong, claiming that he can not become a Titan himself for an unspecified reason.
Kenny releases Rod, and Rod tells him that he is free to leave and should go live a long life. Kenny sullenly remarks that Rod's suggestion would not be very fun, before ascending the stairs towards Eren, telling him to turn into a Titan, to the horror of the two Reisses. Kenny says that both Historia and Eren can become Titans and fight to the death, with peace returning if Historia wins and nothing changing if Eren wins. He slices Eren's forehead to help him transform, and asks Rod if he can truly call dying of natural causes living.
Kenny uses his vertical equipment to pull himself up to a safe distance. However, Kenny gets very surprised when Historia hesitates to inject the serum. He even starts laughing after Historia rejects the serum, harms her father and tries to release Eren, cheering the two on for making things far more interesting. However, when Rod transforms himself into a Titan, Kenny gets dragged by Rod's heat and sheer size. As Kenny tries to escape using his maneuvering gear, he sees his squad coming towards him. He tries to warn them to stay away, but is only able to watch as they are crushed under the falling debris.
Kenny manages to survive and escape. However, he is heavily injured in the process, receiving severe burns all over his body from Rod's transformation. Resting under a tree outside the cavern, he remembers how he first met Uri and the subsequent effects upon his own life. Sometime later Levi and one of Levi's subordinates find Kenny. Levi observes that Kenny's injuries have left him on the verge of death, and Kenny responds by smugly revealing that he has a Titan injection, which could allow him to save himself.
Levi is confused as to why Kenny has not already used it to save his own life. Kenny claims that he was afraid of ending up like Rod, but Levi is not convinced and asks if he has a better explanation. As Kenny tries to think of one, he recalls all of the important people of his past, and comes to the realization that they all had something that drove them, which he has lost. At the brink of death, Kenny confesses that he is Levi's uncle, explaining that he left Levi because Kenny viewed himself not fit to be a father. As a final gift, Kenny gives Levi the Titan injection that he stole from Rod. Soon after, he dies, sitting under the tree where he rested.
Decades ago, the one-day captain was an infamous serial killer who murdered within the capital and was capable of taking out over a hundred members of the Military Police, showing exceptional battle prowess. He was also very fast as he suddenly appeared behind Historia Reiss' mother. Kenny's speed was once again shown when confronting Annie Leonhart: not only did he manage to traverse the distance of several meters between them and get behind Annie without her noticing, but he was also able to dodge her kick with apparent ease. Despite her incredible fighting skills, Annie immediately opted to retreat into the sewers, implying she was unsure of a victory against him. On top of that, he was the leader of the First Interior Squad, showing high leadership skills.
When Levi felt the possibility of facing his old teacher, he was highly uneasy despite going head-on against Titans on a recurring basis. He is also very analytical and intelligent and is the one who taught Levi to think in the same strategic genius as he does, even outmaneuvering him and tricking Humanity's best soldier into walking into a trap. The fact that he was able to teach an individual as skilled as Levi these things suggests that he is an adept teacher.
Anti-personnel vertical maneuvering equipment
Like the Survey Corps, the First Interior Squad have vertical maneuvering equipment as well, called anti-personnel vertical maneuvering equipment. However, it is also equipped with guns so as to kill humans rather than Titans. He is able to use them to scale buildings at incredible speeds and assault his targets before they can react.
- Levi Ackerman - Kenny trained Levi when they were younger, and they even lived together. He appeared to have some respect for Levi since he called him "his pride" and though he respected Levi, his dream appeared to be killing him. The meaning behind their similar last names implies a familiar relationship; however, Levi was unaware of his last name until he was told by a soldier, though he was not surprised by him being an Ackerman. It is later revealed that Kenny was Levi's uncle, who took care of the latter after his mother, Kuchel Ackerman died. After teaching Levi how to fight, he abandoned him feeling that he could not be a good parent to Levi.
- Uri Reiss - Unlike with Rod, Kenny showed true respect towards Rod's younger brother. Rod said that Uri was the one that took Kenny in, and when Rod referred to Kenny as a "stray dog" and to Uri as "whimsical," Kenny ignored the insult towards himself and only cared about Uri, threatening Rod to blow off half of his head if he kept talking about him in that way.
- Traute Caven - As soon as she explained what she thought about the world, Kenny got very surprised and happy, showing that he indeed liked the way she thought about the world. He eventually valued her expertise enough to make her his second in command of the Anti-Personnel Control Squad.
- Rod Reiss - Though initially Kenny seemed to be loyal to Rod, being a sort of "right-hand man" for him, it was later revealed that he does not like him at all, believing that he is a coward that only cares about himself, and only obeyed him because he wanted to steal the Founding Titan from him. When Rod revealed that the Founding Titan would be useless if it were not used by a member of the Reiss bloodline, Kenny showed his true colors and did not hesitate to insult and threaten Rod.
- Historia Reiss - Kenny killed her mother, Alma, without hesitation and was going to kill Historia had Rod not intervened. Years later, he insulted her when he captured her and Eren, saying that in the five years since he last saw her, she has barely grown. However, he appeared to pity her, as he explained her that Rod was going to make her turn into a Titan and eat Eren and told her that Rod was a liar and a coward.
- Kenny tied with Sasha Blouse for twenty-first in the Second Character Popularity Poll.
- Kenny's backstory, preferred method of killing, and title "Kenny the Ripper" resemble real-life serial killer Jack the Ripper. One theory of the Ripper's identity and motive was that he was a government agent murdering victims as part of a larger conspiracy.
- Kenny was the heaviest known human character in the series, weighing 120 kg.
- Hajime Isayama has stated that Kenny's character was partially inspired by the character Trevor Philips from Grand Theft Auto V.