I personally feel like Gladio is one of the more overlooked characters in the Final Fantasy XV universe, mainly because people see him as very black and white when it comes to his personality. While I understand that thought process, I personally disagree. I feel like Gladio plays a very important role to the story, especially where Noctis is concerned. Let’s dive a little more into his back story shall we?
**Side Note** – Check out the end of the blog for some cool facts I found out about the Amicitia’s in general**
Gladio has always been aware of his place within the Kingdom of Lucis due to his father. Clarus Amicitia was the shield of King Regis and taught his son from the get go that he would be the same for Prince Noctis. That was the most important thing, to protect the Prince; Gladio’s entire upbringing was wrapped around the Crown Prince.
With that being said, Gladio did not like Noctis in the beginning. It makes sense when you think about it. His father did nothing but talk up the Royal Family and to Gladio, Noctis is just a spoiled, weak kid. This changes after Noctis meets Iris for the first time.
Iris is Gladio’s younger sister. After hearing about the Prince via her brother, Iris decides to meet him and goes to the palace on her own. While waiting, she sees a cat and follows it outside getting herself lost. Noctis sees her and follows, eventually catching up and helping her back. When Gladio finds out that his sister is missing he freaks out (understandably). The two kids show up again and Noctis takes the blame making his shield resent him even more. It’s only after Iris confesses what really happened that Gladio begins to respect his Prince.
Their relationship grows from there and by the time Final Fantasy XV rolls around they’ve become more like brothers than anything else.
Final Fantasy XV
Something that I think a lot of people don’t take into consideration is what happens during the events of Kingsglaive. Yes, King Regis dies and that’s what we focus on, but Clarus died as well. Noctis wasn’t the only one who lost a father. This is fascinating to me mainly because Gladio really doesn’t react to this news at all. He had a brief conversation with Iris about it in Lestallum but that’s about it.
Now this could be due to his training. As the Princes (now King’s) shield, he’s not meant to show emotion. He’s supposed to be the stable one who directs his King in the right direction. So he holds it in.
Fast forward in time to when the group loses their car. The objective is to retrieve it and to do so they must infiltrate a military base. It’s at the end of this mission that we see the first signs of Gladio’s emotional instability showing through. They are confronted by Ravus Nox Fleuret, a commanding officer within the Niflheim army, as well as Lady Lunafreya’s older brother. During the confrontation Ravus easily knocks Gladio away, something that no one has really done before.
When I say this is where Gladio’s emotional state comes through, I don’t mean in a huge obvious way. After leaving the army base Gladio takes off on his own without giving any details as to why or where he’s going. He’s so upset that someone overpowered him that he leaves Noctis, the one he’s been training to protect since he was little. Especially at an important point in the story where the boys are about to go through a dungeon in search of mythril. Yes Ignis and Prompto are still there, but for a man who wrapped his entire identity around being the King’s shield to just up and leave is very against character. Losing triggered something in him, a feeling that was multiplied due to the loss he’s been pushing away up to this point.
If you’ve played the DLC then you know where he went while separated from the group. Gladio called up Cor Leonis, the marshal of the Lucian Crownsguard, as well as the sole survivor of the Gilgamesh Trials. Gilgamesh in this story is known as the Blade Master and has never been defeated. Gladio decides to take on the trials, with Cor’s guidance, in order to prove himself worthy of being the King’s shield.
Throughout the trials Gladio shows a bit of his current mental state. In a conversation with Cor, he states that winning against Gilgamesh makes one worthy of being the King’s shield. Losing isn’t an option for him.
They do talk about Clarus a bit when Gladio asks whether he ever took the trial. Cor says no, mainly because Clarus didn’t want to leave a weakened King Regis’ side. When asked whether he was worried about leaving Noctis, Gladio answers that he’s a little worried, but will do what’s best for him just as his father did. We see respect for his father here and also a possible reason for Gladio not being upset at the news of his death. Clarus was doing his duty to the King, and thus died with honor. In Gladio’s eyes he’s a hero. We also see some of his resolve. Despite being the King’s shield, he’s aware that there are things he has to do on his own.
Gladio successfully completes the trials and defeats Gilgamesh. He is rewarded with the Genji Blade, the sword Cor used in his battle with the Blade Master (Gilgamesh kept it as a souvenir), and returns to the group.
The next time Gladio makes any kind of scene is on the train to Gralea after the events in Altissia. Noctis is still going through the stages of grief over Luna’s death (or he’s pouting. Depends on how you take it) and it sets Gladio off. He uses Ignis’ newly induced blindness as a way to try to bring Noctis back to the severity of their situation (and also totally pushes Prompto away via his face mind you. Poor guy…). While this wasn’t the best way to do things, I understand the point he was making. This is one of the few times we see Gladio lose it. The normally calm and collected shield finally lets out the built up emotions he’s had since the beginning of the game. We can see how a part of him is blaming Noctis for most of the bad stuff that’s happened even if he doesn’t say so directly. It isn’t until later that Ignis sets everyone straight and Gladio returns back to normal.
A lot of players saw this whole section as Gladio just being a jerk. And while he was rude, I don’t think he was acting that way just to be mean. He was frustrated about something that was out of his control. His king, a man he’d grown up with, was allowing his emotions to take over his job AS king. Noctis is stubborn, something Gladio is very aware of. I feel like this was Gladio’s version of ‘tough love’ and in the end it worked. He got his point across and Noctis eventually embraces his role as the chosen king.
10 Years Later
Once Noctis emerges from his 10 year slumber within the Crystal, we are presented with a different Gladio. Yes his hair is longer, but it’s his temperament that I noticed. He’d managed to become even more stoic in Noct’s absence, giving off a similar air as his late Father.
Something small that is easily missed right before leaving Hammerhead in the end game is a conversation you can hear in regards to Gladio’s love life.
(I’ll link a video I found here)
Our shield is possibly engaged? At the very least he’s found some lucky lady to commit to, though we don’t know who it is.
From there the game ends without much more from Gladio. Whether he’s still alive after the final events haven’t been answered and fans have their own theories. I personally think he is along with Ignis and Prompto.
Cool Random Facts
I started googling things and found a few cool facts:
- Amicitia means friendship in Latin. Fitting since both Clarus and Gladiolus are extremely loyal.
- Gladiolus is a type of flower that exists within the iris family. They were named after the latin word ‘gladius’, which means sword, for their sword – shaped leaves.
- Clarus has a few different meanings, but the ones that stuck out to me were clear, plain and distinct.
- An iris (the flower) is typically associated with royalty.
- Clarus also has a tattoo on his back, similar to Gladio’s
- There are theories circling the internet that the Amicitia’s may be Ifrit’s messengers based off of their tattoos and the necklace Gladio wears.
That’s it!!! Thank you so much for reading!!! Hopefully this allowed to see the King’s shield in a different light! I love how multifaceted these characters are and I plan on digging into more of them soon.