Attack on Titan's Levi Ackerman is renowned for being a cutthroat captain in the Survey Corps, with his reputation for being humanity's strongest soldier preceding him. Levi's god-like skills in battle and agitated demeanor quickly made him a favorite in AoT, with fans globally appreciating his character.
Levi's inhumane skill was bound to be inherited as an Ackerman, but a loathing of meaningless deaths was a trait he developed on his own. He has always been someone to value the lives of his comrades and ensures their deaths are meaningful, but more recent seasons of Attack on Titan have seen fans question whether Levi's devotion has subsided.
Levi's Famous Conversation With Erwin Smith
This belief stems from Levi's famous conversation with Erwin Smith, 13th Commander of the Survey Corps and Levi's close friend. Erwin's goal, the drive that kept him going in the face of tragedy, was to find the secret to the Titans. The Survey Corps had never been closer to this goal, with Eren Yeager holding the key -- quite literally -- to all of Erwin's questions. All that stood between the commander and his life's purpose was the Beast Titan.
Season 3, Episode 16 of Attack on Titan finds the scouts under fire. Surrounded by the Beast Titan and an army of Pure Titans, Erwin is faced with a decision. He can either lead the troops on a suicide mission to allow Levi to attack the Beast Titan or flee with Eren to save himself. Erwin asks his most trusted companion Levi for advice, to which Levi responds, "Give up on your dream and die."
What Levi Really Meant By Telling Erwin to Give Up and Die
Levi's response seemed coldhearted and almost vicious at first glance, but upon further observation, this was his way of showing support to his commander and friend. It was Levi making the decision for Erwin while comforting and reassuring him that he'd devoted his heart and led the scouts well. He told his friend to give up on his dream and die for the cause they'd spent their lives fighting for; in return, Levi himself would kill the Beast Titan.
Arguably, the suicide charge that followed Levi's advice to the commander led to the loss of hundreds of lives. However, Levi despises meaningless deaths, so he made sure those lives were not lost in vain. Levi slaughtered the army of Pure Titans and, had the Cart Titan not shown up, would have eliminated the Beast Titan, fulfilling his last promise to Erwin. The Survey Corps' sacrifice that day allowed Levi to annihilate titans while also striking the fear of the island devils into the Beast Titan.
Levi Has Remained Committed to Meaningful Deaths in Attack on Titan
Comparisons in Levi's character begin with this exchange between him and Erwin Smith, while conversations between Levi and his comrades in later seasons of the anime appear softer. Most notably in Season 4 of Attack on Titan, Levi tells the 104th Cadet Corps "Don't die on me. Survive." as they begin an attack on Marley. It would be easy to conclude from this that Levi has changed from a coldhearted captain to a father figure with a soft spot for the cadets. However, this is not the case.
This from-to comparison makes Levi look as though he outgrew pushing his comrades to their deaths, becoming someone who values his soldiers over their mission. In reality, he has always hated meaningless deaths and has carried the will of his fallen comrades in every battle -- even with a bloody hand -- to show he genuinely believes their deaths were not in vain.
From Attack on Titan's first season, Levi is shown pushing the Survey Corps to fight while still focusing on their lives. For example, in Season 1, Episode 24 "Mercy: Assault on Stohess, Part 2" Levi said to 104th cadet Jean Kirstein, "It's good to be enthusiastic, but don't forget to guard your own life." Levi has never been as unsympathetic as his exchange with Erwin suggested; he cares more about his comrades than most.
Despite his seemingly cold demeanor and attitude, Levi has always shown genuine concern and compassion for his peers. He knows the risks of being a soldier and greatly values his comrades' lives, past and present. Levi Ackerman carries the will of the dead and gives support and strength to the living, never allowing a meaningless death to befall them.