Characters: Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Due to being quite a Door Stopper, Romance of the Three Kingdoms has Loads and Loads of Characters, here sorted by the kingdoms they serve.
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Kingdom of Shu-Han
Liu BeiFounder of the Kingdom of Shu. Portrayed as a loyal servant of the Han Empire and its people. After the Han's downfall, he continues the Han lineage as the ruler of Shu-Han.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Lampshaded by one of Sun Quan's officers.
- Dual Wielding: His rarely seen fighting style.
- Gonk: If you take his description in the novel literally, it is hard to believe he was even human.
- His eyes were able to look at the back of his head.
- Historical Hero Upgrade
- Honor Before Reason
- Messianic Archetype
- Power Trio: With Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, of course.
- Revenge Before Reason: Everything that happens after Guan Yu's death.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: On Wu.
Liu ShanSecond and final emperor of Shu. His bungling is largely blamed for Shu's downfall.
- Childhood Brain Damage: His father threw him on the ground as a baby in anger for nearly losing one of his generals. Many believe that this had an effect on his eventual rule.
- The Load
Guan YuOne of Liu Bei's oath brothers. Famous for his moral rectitude and incredibly long beard. The leader of the Five Tiger Generals.
- Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: A lifetime of badassery made him do this.
- Bad Ass: One of the biggest ones in the novel.
- Badass Beard: It made people who saw it surrender instantly.
- The Big Guy: The taller and more imposing brother.
- Blade on a Stick: The guan dao.
- Cool Horse: The Red Hare, or Chi Tu Ma.
- Genius Bruiser: His Fan Castle tactics made him one.
- Later subverted as he was easily tricked by Lu Meng.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: What happens to most of his enemies.
- Honor Before Reason
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Earlier, Guan Yu is pretty loyal, also humble and well-meaning. Late on his life, he got more callous in his position and treated his subordinates poorly (in particular Mi Fang and Fu Shiren). This eventually bit him in the ass and led him to his defeat and death.
- Super Strength: He bisects people in half with ease.
Zhang FeiThe youngest of Liu Bei's oath brothers. He had a fiery personality and a love of alcohol that got him into trouble at times. A member of the Five Tiger Generals.
- The Alcoholic: Even for the standards of his time.
- Anti-Hero: A bit of a Type III.
- Bad Ass
- Badass Boast: "I am Zhang Fei of Yan! Who dares to challenge me?!"
- Boisterous Bruiser
- Crowning Moment of Awesome: Him at Chang Ban Bridge.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Every single time something bad happens to him.
- Genius Bruiser: During Liu Bei's conquests of Shu and Han Zhong.
- Took a Level in Badass: Goes from an incredibly strong drunkard to a crafty general.
- You Shall Not Pass
Zhao YunA former servant of Yuan Shao and Gongsun Zan. He joins with Liu Bei when the latter is fleeing from Yuan Shao. A member of the Five Tiger Generals.
- Bad Ass
- Badass Grandpa: Later on.
- Bishōnen: Pretty much every adaptation makes him one.
- Crowning Moment of Awesome: Quite a lot. Him plowing through Cao Cao's army to rescue Liu Chan is still a highlight.
Ma ChaoThe eldest son of Ma Teng, the ruler of the Liangzhou region in northwest China. When his father is assassinated by Cao Cao, Ma attempts to fight off the Wei army on his own, but fails and is forced into the service of Zhang Lu. He would eventually defect to Liu Bei's force, where he would become one of the Five Tiger Generals.
- Despair Event Horizon: His repeated defeats by Cao Cao, as well as him having to watch his family slaughtered, led him to give up on his wish to kill Cao Cao and instead made him an underling to Zhang Lu.
- Kick the Dog: Murdered the mother of a Wei officer, as well as every denizen of her town.
- La Résistance: He led one, for a short time. It didn't end well...
- You Killed My Father
Huang ZhongA veteran general who has to deal with being discriminated against because of his age. Famous for his ability with a bow. The last of the Five Tiger Generals.
Zhuge Liang/KongmingA master strategist, politician, scholar, and inventor, possibly the greatest of his age. He joined with Liu Bei after Liu made three visits to his cottage, and served him and his son loyally until his death. Rose to the position of Prime Minister of Shu.
- Automatic Crossbows: An invention of his.
- Batman Gambit
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Delivers one so good, the recipient died from exasperation.
- The Smart Guy
- The Strategist: He is one of the archetypes against which other strategists in fiction are measured.
Pang TongA strategist of Shu. Was turned away from Wu for being too ugly. Died relatively young in an ambush by Liu Zhang's forces.
- Gonk: Since it was said that fledgling phoenixes were ugly and they were to grow to be majestuous creatures, he gained the nickname of "Young Phoenix".
- The Strategist: Well, more like "a strategist". But he was considered incredibly skilled: it was said that if you could control both him and Zhuge Liang, you could reunite China. His early death means this was never really tested.
Wei YanDefected from Han Xuan because of Han's shoddy treatment of Huang Zhong and his own desire to serve Liu Bei. Served Liu Bei loyally and skillfully, but after Liu Bei's death he became dissatisfied. Zhuge Liang was able to keep a leash on him, but on Zhuge's death he revolted and was evetually killed.
- Ambition Is Evil
- Too Dumb to Live: After having spent most of his later live serving Zhuge Liang, he should have known that the guy had taken some precautions against potential traitors.
Mi ZhuAn officer under Tao Qian who joined Liu Bei when Tao left his city to Liu. Protected Liu Bei's family from Lu Bu.
Mi FangBrother of Mi Zhu. When Wu invaded Jing province, he defected to avoid a threatened punishment from Guan Yu.
- Evil Counterpart
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: His first treason went off well. But when he tried to get back into Liu Bei's good books by bringing him the head of one of Guan Yu's killers, Liu Bei had him executed.
Sun QianAnother officer of Tao Qian that Liu Bei inherited on Tao's death.
- Ambadassador: He is usually the guy to go on diplomatic missions for Liu Bei.
Ma DaiA cousin of Ma Chao, who served under him. He served in Zhuge Liang's Southern and Northern Campaigns, often playing crucial roles.
- Distressed Dude: He was one of two Shu officers defeated and captured by Lady Zhurong.
- Not My Boat Captain: When Meng Huo flees to what looks like a Nanman ship, Ma Dai is actually the captain.
Liu FengLiu Bei's adopted son. Was forced to commit suicide after failing to supply Guan Yu with reinforcements on Meng Da's advice.
- Driven to Suicide
- Revenge Before Reason: A victim of this: Liu Bei would eventually regret forcing him to commit suicide.
Liao HuaA bandit who quits banditry to serve Guan Yu. Briefly survived the fall of the Kingdom of Shu.
- Chaste Hero: When he kidnaps Liu Bei's wives, his partner wants them to marry the two women. When Liao realizes who he's kidnapped, he kills his partner and returns the wives, along with his partners head, to Guan Yu as an apology.
Jiang WeiAn officer of Wei who defected to Shu because of the machinations of Zhuge Liang. He would be the main support of Shu for most of the last quarter of the story.
Kingdom of Wei
Cao CaoMinister of Han. While young, a sage told him he was "a good subject in peaceful times; a crafty hero in a troubled land." This prediction was borne out: as the land became more and more divided, Cao amassed more and more power until even the Emperor was afraid of him.
- Ambition Is Evil
- Born Lucky: Fortune favours him like no other. The text even starts complaining about it.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Against Tao Qian.
- Faking the Dead: Against Lu Bu.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: And how!
- Humiliation Conga: Happens a couple of times to him.
- Let no Crisis Go to Waste: As a "crafty hero in a troubled land," he has a knack for exploiting chaotic situations to his advantage.
- Magnificent Bastard / Smug Snake: Because the book was compiled from different sources (including history, folklore, and other popular works of fiction), Cao's character fluctuates between these two extremes.
- The Man: One of his many official titles.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Played straight, but also famously averted after he accidentally kills his father's sworn brother after suspecting treason:Cao Cao: Better I betray the world than the world betray me.
- Regent for Life
- Speak of the Devil: The Chinese version of the proverb is "Speak of Cao Cao and he shall appear".
- Unfortunate Name: His name is unfortunately close to a Chinese word for fucking.
- Warrior Poet: One of the greatest poets of his age.
- Wicked Cultured: Though he's portrayed as a villain, he's also a Warrior Poet.
Cao PiCao Cao's eldest son and heir. He was the one who took the step of usurping the Imperial Mandate from the Han Emperor. Well known for his poetry.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: Pi and his brothers Zhi and Zhang squabbled over becoming Cao Cao's heir.
- Offered the Crown: Subversion. In order to maintain an air of propriety, Cao Pi insists that the Imperial title be offered to him, not once, but three times. The terrified Emperor does so.
- Unfortunate Name: Even worse than his dad's, as his given name ("Pi" with a flat tone) is unfortunately close to the Chinese word for fart ("Pi" with a falling tone).
- Warrior Poet
Cao RuiCao Pi's heir. He indulged in palaces and women after Zhuge Liang's death
- The Hedonist: Ordered the construction of numerous palaces in spite of officials' protests and bad omens. He also moved numerous statues from Chang'an which caused the death of many workers.
- Karmic Death: Became deathly ill after he was haunted by his dead wife.
- Like Father, Like Son: Just like Cao Pi, he ordered his wife to commit suicide after he found a new favorite
Lady ZhenThe widow of Yuan Shao's son, Cao Pi was taken by her beauty and made her his wife. Later, she would be replaced by Lady Guo, who intrigued against her. She was forced to commit suicide.
Xiahou DunA general of Wei. One of Cao Cao's most loyal generals. Famous for eating his own eye after it was shot through with an arrow.
Xiahou YuanA general of Wei, and elder cousin of Dun. Was famous for his lightning quick attack, but was easily provoked into attacking which led to his downfall.
Dian WeiCao Cao's personal bodyguard. A man of great physical strength and loyalty to Cao Cao. He died holding a gate against Cao Cao's enemies.
- Dual Wielding: He was strong enough to dual wield polearms.
- Grievous Harm with a Body: When his weapon broke during his last stand, he used fallen enemy soldiers as bludgeons.
- You Shall Not Pass
Xu ZhuHead of Cao Cao's personal bodyguard, the Tiger Guards. A man of great size, both girth and height, and strength, but known for being gentle and simple off the battlefield. Also known as "Crazy Tiger" or "Marquis Tiger".
Zhang LiaoThe leader of the Five Generals of Wei. Originally served Lu Bu, but was spared at the request of Liu Bei and Guan Yu after Lu Bu's defeat and execution. After a devastating victory against Wu with an inferior force, he became used as a boogeyman by Wu mothers.
Xu HuangOne of the Five Generals of Wei. Was instrumental in the campaign against Guan Yu in Jing.
- Big Damn Heroes: His first appearance is saving the emperor from bandits.
- Friendly Enemy: Of Guan Yu.
- My Country, Right or Wrong: When Guan Yu attempts to turn him to the side of Shu, he states that his public obligations outweigh his private friendship with Guan.
- Worthy Opponent: Of Guan Yu.
Zhang HeOne of the Five Generals of Wei. Frequently served as Sima Yi's front line commander, and was feared by Zhuge Liang.
- Badass Bookworm: Off the battlefield, he promoted learning of the Five Classics.
- The Dragon: To Sima Yi.
Yu JinOne of the Five Generals of Wei. After a meritorious career, he was sent against Guan Yu, who captured him due to his obstinacy and jealousy of Pang De. He died of illness after being ridiculed by Cao Pi for being captured.
Yue JinOne of the Five Generals of Wei. Amongst other accomplishments, he was one of the three generals who held Hefei against Sun Quans large army.
- Defensive Feint Trap: His role in the Battle of Hefei.
Li DianThe third of the generals who held Hefei. Famously cautious, especially compared to many of the other generals mentioned here.
- The Resenter: Towards Zhang Liao. However, he overcomes this for the Battle of Hefei.
- Sour Supporter: His cautiousness clashed with most of his compatriots more direct style of combat. However, he was usually justified.
Pang DeFormer officer of Ma Chao and Zhang Lu. Marched against Guan Yu to prove his loyalty to Cao Cao, he was captured by Guan Yu owing to the jealousy of Yu Jin, and then executed.
- Death Seeker: He took a coffin with him to battle Guan Yu.
Guo JiaAdvisor to Cao Cao, responsible for many of his early victories. He would die of illness in his thirties while on campaign, and Cao Cao would lament his absence at the Battle of Chi Bi.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: He leaves instructions in his will that end in the deaths in the final two sons of Yuan Shao.
- Professional Butt-Kisser: Famous for his description of Cao Cao's ten strengths compared to Yuan Shao's ten weaknesses.
- The Strategist
Xun YuAdvisor to Cao Cao. He was highly favoured, often acting as Cao Cao's steward when he was away on campaigns. However, he opposed Cao's ascent to dukeship, and was forced to commit suicide.
- Driven to Suicide
- One Steve Limit: Averted. He served along with his nephew Xun You. In certain romanizations, the only difference between their given names was an umlaut.
Xu ShuAdvisor to Cao Cao. Originally served Liu Bei, but was intrigued against and came to Cao's court against his will. He promised to never make a plan for Cao.
Sima YiAdvisor to Cao Cao and his heirs. He would later plot to usurp power from the Cao family.
Kingdom of Wu
Sun JianPatriarch of the Sun family, who claims to be a descendant of Sun Zi. He is killed by an ambush.
- Badass: His introduction has him stomping through some twenty people and mudering the enemy chief.
- Genius Bruiser: A given for a man who descens from Sun Tzu, the writer of the Art of War.
- Laser-Guided Karma
- One-Man Army: See Badass.
Sun CeHeir of Sun Jian, who managed to set the foundations of what would become Wu. He would die young. Also called "The Little Prince", after crushing a captured officer to death under one arm while scaring another to death with a shout.
- Blood Brothers: With Zhou Yu.
- Burn the Witch!: Didn't like Taoists.
- Does Not Know His Own Strength
- The Magnificent
- Make Me Wanna Shout
Sun QuanSun Ce's brother and heir. He took Wu to its largest boundaries, eventually declaring himself Emperor.
- Distressed Dude: Is frequently needing rescue.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Subverted. His attempts to lead his army from the front just wind up with the entire enemy army targeting him, and his favourite officers being forced to risk life and limb to get him out of danger.
Lady WuSun Jian's wife, and mother of Ce, Quan, and Shangxiang. She was instrumental in Liu Bei's survival during his marriage to Lady Sun.
Lady SunSun Quan's younger sister, who would marry Liu Bei. Was something of a tomboy, who enjoyed arms and taught all of her serving maids swordplay.
Zhou YuAdvisor to the Sun family. He was especially close to Sun Ce, who was his blood brother. After Ce's death, he served Sun Quan capably, but was never able to keep up with the wiles of Zhuge Liang.
- Always Second Best: To Zhuge Liang.
- Blood Brothers
- Death by Despair
- Driven by Envy
- Faking the Dead: Uses this to beat Wei forces.
- The Strategist
Lu SuStrategist of Wu, famous for his generosity. He is Zhou Yu's eventual successor as chief strategist of Wu.
- The Watson: For Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang's plots.
Lu MengAn officer of Wu, who also took up scholarship after being criticized by Sun Quan. He was the successor of Lu Su as chief strategist of Wu. He was the mastermind of the campaign against Guan Yu in Jing.
- Badass Bookworm
- Playing Sick: A fake illness, followed by a show of meekness from his supposed successor, caused Guan Yu to lower his guard against Wu invasion.
Lu XunA scholar who was named Lu Meng's successor. Served in the campaign against Guan Yu in Jing, as well as masterminding the victory over Liu Bei at Yiling.
- Extreme Doormat: When taking over during Lu Meng's fake illness, he pretends to be one of these towards Guan Yu to lower his guard further.
- The Strategist
- Straw Civilian: Subversion. All of the military officers under him are unhappy with serving someone they view to be a mere scholar, right up until he manages the Wu victory at Yiling.
Gan NingA former pirate who joins Sun Quan after serving Sun Quan's rival, Liu Biao. During his previous service he killed Ling Tong's father, causing friction between the two.
- Boisterous Bruiser
- Cool Boat: Gan Ning was called "The Pirate of the Silk Sails", because his ship only used silk sails.
- Nice Hat: During a famous night raid on a Wei camp, Gan Ning and his men stuck white goose feathers into their helmets so as to be able to tell each other apart. The raid went off without a single casualty for Wu.
- The Rival: To Ling Tong
Ling TongA general of Wu. His father was killed by Gan Ning, causing friction between the two. This is exacerbated by the fact that Gan Ning is a better commander than he is.
Zhou TaiAn officer of Wu, famous for the injuries he received defending Sun Quan.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Good, in his case.
Huang GaiAn officer of Wu. His false surrender allowed for the fire attack at Chibi. One of the few to have served under three rulers of Wu.
Taishi CiAn officer of Wu. He joined after having been defeated in Liu Yao's service.
Zhang JiaoA taoist mystic leading a rebellion against the Han Empire, kickstarting the end of the Dynasty.
- A God Am I: So he claims.
- Evil Sorcerer: For a given definition of "evil".
- Foreshadowing: His rebellion serves as a foreshadowing to problems the Han Dynasty will suffer.
- Plot-Triggering Death: His death is what puts in motion the downfall of the Eunuchs.
- Religion Is Magic
- Sibling Team: He has two Brothers and they form a Power Trio. Doesn't last long though.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Despite being a relatively minor character, his rebellion triggers a lot of important events (such as Zhang Fei, Guan Yu and Liu Bei becoming Brothers).
- Warmup Boss: The first threat to appear in the story, his rebellion basically there for the various characters to show their military ability and personal quirks.
Dong ZhuoA tyrant who attempts to take control of the Empire by deposing one emperor and ruling through that emperor's younger brother. A woman comes between him and his second-in-command, Lu Bu, and he is assassinated.
- Disc One Final Boss: He is effectively the Big Bad for the firs portion of the book, but he's defeated very early on.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas
- Fat Bastard: The biggest one in the story.
- Fat Idiot: Compared to Lu Bu and Li Ru, yeah.
- Jerkass: He is by far one of the most unlikable characters of the whole tale.
- Regent for Life: His plan is to become this.
- Villainous Glutton: He grows ridicuously fat when he becomes regent.
Li RuDong Zhuo's most trusted advisor. He is the one who kills the deposed Emperor Shao, his consort, and his mother. He is executed after Dong Zhuo's death.
- Brains and Brawn: The brains to Lu Bu's brawn.
- The Chessmaster: To an extent he sometimes seems to be full-on precognitive.
- The Corrupter: For Lu Bu.
- The Dragon: Shares this role with Lu Bu for Dong Zhuo.
- Evil Genius: Being Zhuo's most trusted avisor, this is a given.
- Hyper Competent Sidekick: For Dong Zhuo. He effectively solves all crisis for him.
- Kick the Dog: His murder of the royal Family is seen as this.
- Manipulative Bastard: Displayed when he converts Lu Bu to his side.
- The Strategist: He sees through Diao Chan, but can't get Dong Zhuo to listen to reason.
Lu BuThe mightiest warrior in all of China. After serving Ding Yuan and Dong Zhuo (and assassinating both), he becomes a powerful warlord in his own right. He is eventually defeated by Cao Cao and executed.
- The Ace: Even in the World of Badass of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, he was legendary. There's a reason why people continued to want him on their side despite his Chronic Backstabbing Disorder.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: It eventually comes back to bite him in the ass when Cao Cao considers accepting his service after defeating him, only to be reminded that he suffers from this.
- The Dragon: To Dong Zhuo.
- Four-Star Badass: In a series full of them, he deserves special mention.
- In-Series Nickname: 'Bastard of Three Fathers'. This because, aside from his birth father, he also chose a general as a 'Father' later, and not long after that, killed his 'father', and chose the tyrannical Dong Zhuo as his 'father'. Add to that, the fact that he keeps on changing his allegiances at the drop of hat, and that's how that nickname to be.
- Please Spare Him, My Liege!: Inverted. Cao Cao was going to spare him in order to make use of him, until Liu Bei pointed out the fate of his previous lords. Cao then changes his mind and executes him.
- Self-Made Orphan: Both of the lords whom he assassinated were also adoptive fathers.
Diao ChanA singing girl who is roped into bringing down Dong Zhuo by her adopted father by playing him and Lu Bu against each other.
- Honey Trap
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: She convinces both Dong and Lu that she is miserable whenever she is with the other one, making them both want her more.
Chen GongA strategist who followed Cao Cao until he became disgusted by his immoral behaviour, then joined up with Lu Bu in order to oppose him. When Lu Bu is defeated, Cao Cao offers him a chance to repent, but he refuses and is executed. Cao Cao was so moved that he provided for Chen Gong's family thereafter.
- Doomed Moral Victor
- My God, What Have I Done?: He assists Cao Cao in killing his adoptive uncle's household, under the false impression that they were going to betray him and Cao Cao to the authorities.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After Cao Cao proves to be more ruthless than he thought.
Chen DengAnother strategist for Lu Bu who, along with his father, acted as a fifth column in favour of Liu Bei and Cao Cao. They were both highly rewarded after Lu Bu was defeated.
- Evil Chancellor: Towards Lu Bu.
- The Mole, possibly the Reverse Mole depending on how you feel towards Lu Bu and Cao Cao.
Yuan ShuA warlord vying for power and brother of Yuan Shao. He declares himself Emperor when Sun Ce trades him the Imperial Seal for troops.
- Alas, Poor Villain: His death is arguably the most pathetic in the entire book.
- Smug Snake: All of Cao Cao or Sima Yi's arrogance with only a tiny fraction of their competence.
Yuan ShaoThe most powerful warlord in the north. His arrogance eventually leads to his downfall at Guan Du.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Like most generals in the book.
- Blue Blood: The Yuan family is one of the most distinguished at the beginning of the story.
- Characterization Marches On: The most likely explanation why he Took a Level in Jerkass is that the writer originally modeled him on the historical Yuan Shao, before inventing Fatal Flaws for the doomed warlord to fit the novel's Confucian moral slant.
- Hot-Blooded: One gets the feeling he never thinks his actions through.
- The Leader: For the coalition against Dong Zhou.
- Only Sane Man: He and Cao Cao are the only people of the plot against the Eunuchs with any sanity.
- The Proud Elite: His Fatal Flaw is his high-born arrogance.
- The Purge: He ''really' hates Eunuchs. Not that they didn't have it coming.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Boy can he hold a grudge. Specially if you're an Eunuch.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Early on he seems a fundamentally decent character. His arrogance and high and mighty approach only appear when he talks with the three Brothers.
Liu ZhangThe governor of Yizhou. He was considered an incompetent by some of his own officers, who wanted Liu Bei to replace him. The rest served him loyally until his defeat, whereupon most of the survivors joined Liu Bei.
- General Failure: He was unable to correctly use the talented officers under his command, which led to their resenting him.
Meng HuoA barbarian king, he attempts to rebel against the rule of Shu only to be beaten seven times by Zhuge Liang. After the seventh time, he repents and swears loyalty to Shu.
- Bad Ass: Let's just forget the Humiliation Conga thingy below, he rode a freaking red ox into battle!
- Humiliation Conga
Lady ZhurongMeng Huo's wife who claimed to be a descendant from the goddess of fire. She is the only woman in the book to actually fight.
Gongsun YuanThe ruler of Liaodong who rebels against Cao Rui. He was defeated by Sima Yi.
- Bad Boss: Publicly executed two of his strategists for criticizing his rebellion.