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Fairy Tail's strongest and highly respected S-class mage. He has a habit of accidentally destroying things with his Crash magic.
Although little is known about his history, Gildarts is known to be Fairy Tail's strongest mage and well-liked by both his fellow members and the town of Magnolia. After completing a 10-year job, a mission that is above both S-ranked and SS-ranked missions, he embarked on a 100-year mission, one of the highest ranking jobs in the magic world. But after 3 years of absence, he had failed and subsequently returned to the guild. Due to his long absences, Makarov decided to drop him as a viable choice as his successor. But despite his constant absences, he seems to be well-known and infamous. His popularity seems to resonate across the entire town of Magnolia when, upon his return, a bell is rung, in a special manner, to notify the citizens of his arrival followed by the restructuring of the city against his destructive magic. Even his fellow members in Fairy Tail cheer and celebrate over his homecoming. Recently, it has been revealed that Cana is his daughter.
Gildarts Clive, who is created by Hiro Mashima, does not have any notes from the author so far regarding any inspiration used to create him.
Although Gildarts' appearance hasn't changed much, following his SS ranked mission, he is seen wearing a prosthetic arm and leg due to an encounter with a black dragon that had attacked and injured him during his mission.
Gildarts is very laid back and easy going who also tends to be quite dense, especially when he fails to recognize Mirajane or the guild. And despite his careless tendency to inadvertently destroy anything he touches, he is well-respected and well-known among all the citizens of Magnolia and his fellow guild members. This is evident when the entire town restructures itself for him, upon his arrival, to prevent any damage he may accidentally cause with his magic. He is also known to obliterate his opponents because as he states, he's not good at holding back in a fight. Similarly to Natsu, he detests losing and is always willing to accept any challenge.
Gildarts seems to have a really good relationship with his fellow guild members, especially Makarov and, based on a filler in the anime, Natsu. This is evident when he teases the Dragon Slayer about his relationship with Lisanna and the moments he spent with the boy and girl when they were younger. Although little interaction has been seen between him and his daughter Cana, it appears that he paid her little attention yet he also seems to have tried to encourage her to try her best to become a great mage.
When Gildarts arrives back in Magnolia, the bells ring in warning and celebration of his return from his mission. Everyone in the city then begins to rearrange the buildings and roads in order to build a path upon which Gildarts could walk on to minimize any possible damage he may unintentionally cause with his magic. Once he stumbles upon the guild, unknowingly, he asks for directions to Fairy Tail from Mirajane, who he doesn't recognize at first until she mentions her name. Surprised, he becomes ecstatic over the guild's changes and growth. Soon after, Natsu immediately challenges him to a fight and charges at him, but ends up losing within mere seconds. Following their extremely short battle, Gildarts explains to all the guild members and Makarov that he had failed the mission, much to everyone's shock. Prior to his leave, he asks Natsu to meet with him and then without thinking, he walks through the guild's wall creating a huge hole.
Once Natsu arrives at his house, Gildarts immediately asks about his relationship with Lisanna, unknowing of her death two years ago due to his three year absence. Clearly bothered by the topic, Natsu informs Gildarts of her death and soon leaves but is stopped when Gildarts mentions that he had encountered a dragon during his mission. As Natsu ran to find it, he is stopped again by Gildarts who tells him that he may not be able to find it since it appears to travel across the continent and even the world. He also said that it didn't seem to be the fire dragon Igneel. Instead, he states that this dragon was a black one which appeared to be an enemy of humans. He explains that its because of this dragon, which attacked him, that he lost his left arm and leg and organ, and as a result, failed the mission. Although, he says, that a normal human cannot defeat it, he is certain that a Dragon Slayer, such as Natsu himself, is able to do it.
Following the announcement of the nominees in the S-Class Promotion exam by Makarov, it was revealed that Gildarts, along with Mirajane and Erza, would be participating in the trial by blocking the participating teams from advancing. Natsu, who chose Happy as his partner, encountered Gildarts on Path E (to which Natsu believed would lead him to Erza because he thought that the "E" was a reference to her name). After some lighthearted teasing, Natsu, without hesitation attacks him head on, but is stopped by Gildarts without much effort. Despite Gildarts' overwhelming physical strength, Natsu attacks him with his dragon roar. But Gildarts manages to stop his attack with his dissembling magic but in doing so, accidentally dissembles Natsu into tens of smaller versions of himself. Although it seemed that Natsu failed, he did not. Rather his mini-versions attacked Gildarts with their flames as well as by pulling his hair and face.
After Gildarts turns Natsu back to normal, Natsu takes advantage of this and launches his attack. Natsu manages to push him back a little and Gildarts considers his efforts a passing grade, but Natsu refuses to accept it until he fully defeats an S-class mage. As a result, Gildarts doesn't hold back. He releases a powerful burst of magical energy which overwhelms Natsu. Out of fear, Natsu drops to the ground and admits defeat. Gildarts ultimately proved to be far stronger than Natsu. But even if he is stronger, he explains to Natsu that "if you know your weakness, you are able to become strong and gentle, and that's what is necessary to become an S-class mage." Because Natsu realized his weakness, Gildarts allows him to pass and advance. Although Natsu is still unable to accept the results, Gildarts states that they are both the same because neither wants to lose to the other and that there are many more trials to come. He ends by telling Natsu that he is willing to take him on anytime any day.
According to Mirajane, Gildarts left Tenrou Island along with Bixlow and Fried. However, when Bluenote was about to finish Cana off, Gildarts saves her just in time, to everyone's surprise and relief. As he tells everyone to leave the battlefield, Bluenote lifts and flips the earth beneath his feet which is countered by Gildarts' dissembling magic.
This advanced magic allows Gildarts to smash anything he comes into contact with into pieces. He is seen using this ability to crush the ground beneath him to cushion the impact of oncoming attacks.
With this magical ability, Gildarts creates a net-like pattern which runs through the object (and even a person) he touches, both tangible and intangible, which then split apart and form numerous, smaller versions of the original. However, Gildarts can revert the dissembled object or person back to normal. Gildarts is shown using this power on Natsu accidentally when he dissembles his Fire Dragon's Roar as well as on the boulder that the Vulcan attempted to throw on Natsu when he was younger (in Anime).