Gambino (ガンビーノ Ganbīno?) is best known as Guts' adoptive father. He was the leader of a mercenary band, taught Guts how to fight with a sword, and gave Guts the scar he bears across his nose. In the manga, Guts received it during a practice fight, while in the anime, he cut Guts' nose on the night he attempted to kill him.
Gambino was a man with average height, with hair similar to Guts, with short and spiked hairstyle. Gambino also had a muscular body. After he lost his leg he carried a crutch to hold himself.
Despite his impressive combat and leadership experience, Gambino was a man who was easily angered, careless, and had no love for Guts. He sold Guts as a child prostitute for one night to Donovan.
During the next battle, in which Guts took revenge upon Donovan, Gambino lost his right leg by a cannonball effectively ending his career as a mercenary. This increased his jealous anger towards Guts. He blamed Guts for the death of Shisu, his alleged lover and Guts' foster mother, since it is considered a bad omen to pick up a child from the corpse of its parents. This jealous anger eventually drove him to try to kill Guts.
Despite this, Gambino did not always treat Guts with hostility. Flashbacks reveal he did at least train Guts in swordsmanship, the life of a mercenary, and gave valuable realistic lessons in combat.
Gambino was very skilled as a swordsman, and he was a capable spearman. After he lost his leg, he was still capable of wielding his sword against Guts. He also proved a shrewd and rutheless commander.
The leader of a band of mercenaries, Gambino was introduced in the first chapter of the Golden Age Arc where he and his band of mercenaries observe a collection of corpses hanging from a tree. A corpse of a woman gives birth. Shisu, one of the women traveling with the mercenaries who had suffered a miscarriage, insists on taking the baby, whom Gambino insists is dead until the baby cries. Gambino accedes to Shisu's demand to adopt the baby whom they name Guts. However, some of the mercenaries contend that picking up a baby in such a place is an ill omen.
Three years later, Shisu dies from the plague. Gambino comes to blame Guts for her death. Three years later on a battlefield, he orders Guts to hand him a spear in which he uses against an enemy soldier. The dead body falls in front of the scared Guts, while Gambino berates him to not be slow.
Gambino trains Guts in swordsmanship, but Guts insists on using a sword too large for him which slows him down. In one training session, Gambino knees Guts in the stomach and tells him he has to now earn his keep. Guts charges with his sword, but Gambino slashes him a few times. Guts counters with a thrust, cutting Gambino's cheek, and in a fit of rage, Gambino cuts Guts' nose, giving him his distinctive scar. The next day, Gambino gives him a medicine for the wound on his nose.
Three years later, Gambino tells Guts to work hard in his first real battle. When Guts kills an enemy soldier, he is put to the ground by another one who is killed by Gambino. Gambino berates him to not get excited just because he killed one. After the battle Guts gives Gambino his share and in return he receives a coin for good work.
At some point, Guts is placed in a decoy squad unbeknownst to him (and the rest of the troops). Offered a reward of three silver pieces, the squad sprints into an ambush volley of arrows. The entire squad is wiped out, except for Guts, who had been wounded in the shoulder. After Gambino had routed the ambush group, he finds Guts still alive, and congratulates him on his lesson learned - that to survive in this harsh world, one must live, think, and fight for himself - anything else will guarantee exploitation and death. This philosophy would ring truthfully in Guts' future, when he overhears Griffith's view on friendship and dreams.
Some time later, Gambino prostitutes a sleeping Guts to pedophile mercenary Donovan. After Guts is raped, he confronts Gambino, who has a hangover, for a reason. Gambino merely replies that it is too early to train. In the next battle, Gambino loses his right leg to a cannon. No longer able to take part in battle, his position as a leader begins to weaken. Once again, Gambino blames Guts for his misfortune. When Guts shows up with the bonus for killing the enemy general, Gambino instead furiously demands for the meat for his dog, hitting Guts in the cheek with his crutch, which brings ridicule from some other mercenaries. That night, Gambino enters Guts tent to kill him. He rants at Guts, blaming him for the death of Shisu and his condition and going so far in calling him a devil's child. He even confesses to Guts that he sold him to Donovan. When he attempts to slash Guts, Guts mortally wounds him in his throat.
Currently, the last time he appears is in a nightmare Guts has after his encounter with Griffith.
- Gambino's adoptive child Guts grows to share several traits with him, including a relationship with a woman who'd end up insane, a hatred for their respective son figures, an abandonment of their respective interests for another important ideal (Gambino abandoned a dying Shisu to attack a castle while Guts abandoned Casca to take revenge on Griffith for the events of the Eclipse), and loss of half a limb.
- Gambino's death in the anime was different from how it was depicted in the manga, with the young Guts running his sword through Gambino's heart as he attacked.
- Gambino is an Italian word derived from 'gamba' meaning 'leg'. It is used as a nickname for someone who has short legs, forshadowing the injury he receives later in his life.