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 Bei

Founder 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.

Liu Shan

Second 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 Hedonist: Liu Shan has been living in its capital city Luoyang for some time after surrendering to the kingdom of Wei. When Sima Zhao asks him if he misses the country that used to be under his rule, Liu Shan responded that he is so happy living here and enjoys the music, wine, and the dancing women that he doesn't miss his former land at all.
  • The Load: Even his father would rather have Zhuge Liang rule his kingdom if he proves to be incompetent as a leader.

Guan Yu

One 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.
  • 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
  • Made of Iron: He plays a game of Weiqi and drinks a few cups of wine when he undergoes surgery because his arm was shot by a poison arrow. This man doesn't even flinch and even smiles when the surgeon carves out the toxin off his bones, though the other player and bystanders couldn't help but cringe at the disturbing sight.
  • 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 Fei

The 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.

Zhao Yun

A 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.

  • Badass Grandpa: Later on.
  • Bishōnen: Pretty much every adaptation makes him one.
  • One-Man Army: He was able to plow through Cao Cao's army just to rescue Liu Chan. However, Cao Cao was so impressed by his combat prowess that he ordered his men to capture him.

Ma Chao

The 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.

  • Anti-Hero
  • 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 Zhong

A 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/Kongming

A 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.

Pang Tong

A 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 Yan

Defected 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 eventually 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.
  • Unknown Rival: To Huang Zhong when they first join.

Mi Zhu

An officer under Tao Qian who joined Liu Bei when Tao left his city to Liu. Protected Liu Bei's family from Lu Bu.

Mi Fang

Brother of Mi Zhu. When Wu invaded Jing province, he defected to avoid a threatened punishment from Guan Yu.

Sun Qian

Another 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 Dai

A 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 Feng

Liu Bei's adopted son. Was forced to commit suicide after failing to supply Guan Yu with reinforcements on Meng Da's advice.

Liao Hua

A bandit who quits banditry to serve Guan Yu. Briefly survived the fall of the Kingdom of Shu.

  • Badass Grandpa: He's first seen as a bandit and a former Yellow Turban rebel, meaning he was at least of fighting age in 205CE. He would be at least in his fifties when he chased Sima Yi alone into a dense forest and, despite being unable to kill him, returned to Zhuge Liang with his helmet. It would be at least another thirty years before he died, having been part of Shu since the very beginning and outliving all of his contemporaries.
  • 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.
  • Death by Despair: Died of grief when Liu Shan surrendered Shu to Jin.

Jiang Wei

An 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.

Meng Da

An officer of Liu Bei's who defects to Wei after Fan Castle to escape execution. He is killed by Sima Yi as he tries to return to Shu.

    Kingdom of Wei 

Cao Cao

Minister 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.

Cao Pi

Cao 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: Much like his dad.

Cao Rui

Cao 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 Zhen

The 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 Dun

A 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 Yuan

A 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 Wei

Cao 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.

Xu Zhu

Head 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 Liao

The 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 Huang

One of the Five Generals of Wei. Was instrumental in the campaign against Guan Yu in Jing.

Zhang He

One of the Five Generals of Wei. Frequently served as Sima Yi's front-line commander, and was feared by Zhuge Liang.

Yu Jin

One 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 Jin

One of the Five Generals of Wei. Amongst other accomplishments, he was one of the three generals who held Hefei against Sun Quan's large army.

Li Dian

The 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 compatriot's more direct style of combat. However, he was usually justified.

Pang De

The former 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.

Guo Jia

Advisor to Cao Cao, responsible for many of his early victories. He would die of illness in his thirties while on a campaign, and Cao Cao would lament his absence at the Battle of Chi Bi.

Xun Yu

Advisor 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 Shu

Advisor 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 Yi

Advisor to Cao Cao and his heirs. He would later plot to usurp power from the Cao family.

Sima Zhao

Sima Yi's second son who originally planned to usurp Wei, but left the actual abdication to his son, Sima Yan.

  • Hoist by His Own Petard: His takeover of Wei is seen as a direct parallel to Cao Cao's takeover of the Han, including having his son actually be the first one to take the throne. Some translations even call it revenge for the Han dynasty's fall.

    Kingdom of Wu 

Sun Jian

Patriarch of the Sun family, who claims to be a descendant of Sun Zi. He is killed by an ambush.

Sun Ce

Heir 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.

Sun Quan

Sun 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 Wu

Sun 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 Sun

Sun 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 Yu

Advisor 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.

Lu Su

Strategist of Wu, famous for his generosity. He is Zhou Yu's eventual successor as chief strategist of Wu.

Lu Meng

An 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: Was the one that eventually outwitted and killed Guan Yu.
  • 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 Xun

A 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 Ning

A 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.

  • Agent Peacock: When he was a pirate he would wear feathers in his and have bells attached to his clothes.
  • 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 Tong

A 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 Tai

An officer of Wu, famous for the injuries he received defending Sun Quan.

Huang Gai

An 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.

  • Fake Defector
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: He and Zhou Yu pretend to have a feud each other to give Cao Cao a false sense of opportunity for him to exploit. He gains the trust of Cao Cao after he gets flogged with 50 sticks for talking back to Zhou Yu and becomes The Mole within the Wei army.

Taishi Ci

An officer of Wu. He joined after having been defeated in Liu Yao's service.

    Other Factions 

Zhang Jiao

A 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).
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The historical pronunciation of his name is actually "Zhang Jue", but the second character of his name has the modern reading "Jiao" instead.
  • 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 Zhuo

A 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.
  • Hate Sink: Although the story lionizes the Shu characters at the expense of Wu and Wei, it is still possible to respect and root for the latter kingdoms. Dong Zhuo, though, is just repulsive, and probably has no fans whatsoever.
  • 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 Ru

Dong 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.

Lü Bu

The 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 Chan

A singing girl who is roped into bringing down Dong Zhuo by her adopted father by playing him and Lu Bu against each other.

Chen Gong

A 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.

Chen Deng

Another 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.

Yuan Shu

A 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 Shao

The most powerful warlord in the north. His arrogance eventually leads to his downfall at Guan Du.

Liu Zhang

The 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 Huo

A 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.

Lady Zhurong

Meng Huo's wife who claimed to be a descendant of the goddess of fire. She is the only woman in the book to actually fight.

Gongsun Yuan

The 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.