Beware of spoilers, marked or unmarked.
Lanling Jin Sect | 兰陵金氏
Residence: Koi Tower | 金鳞台 note
Region: Lanling | 兰陵 (based on modern Shandong)
The foremost clan of the Four Great Sects. As the final winner of the hundred-year-long cultivational disruption leading up to the Sunshot Campaign, the Lanling Jin Sect became the head of all clans and sects — its leader was even referred to as the commander of all cultivators, the Chief Cultivator.
Their motif is a specific type of peony, Sparks Amidst Snow (金星雪浪). The direct disciples have a vermilion mark between their eyebrows, which means "opening the doors toward wisdom and aspiration; illuminating the world with the vermilion light".
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: Almost entirely caused by Jin Guangshan's womanizing ways.
- Deadly Decadent Court: While there are ground rules that all the cultivation clans follow, what makes the Jin Sect stand out is not how many prominent cultivators they've harbored; but instead, their infighting over political power. This was particularly the case when the sect was still led by Jin Guangshan, whose ambition to secure power over all the other sects caused arguably more trouble than the Wen Sect ever did.
- Dress-Coded for Your Convenience: Gold, with a very specific species of peony as their motif.
- Fisher Kingdom: Cultivators tend to pick an area with good fengshui in order to accumulate good qi or spiritual energy. Koi Tower, on the other hand, is the very opposite, screaming "I have money" and feeling more like the setting of a Deadly Decadent Court with a Big, Screwed-Up Family.
- Flower Motifs: Peonies. In Real Life, peonies are known as the "king of the flowers" and the "flower of wealth and honor", and as such they symbolize royalty, wealth, virtue, and honor. Except that most members of the sect lack the latter two.
- Heir Club for Men: The Jin clan plays this with the Dishu system.
- This also forms a motive for Jin Guangyao to want Jin Zixuan out of the way to inherit the Jin clan's leadership, but also leaves him no way to interfere with Jin Ling's eventual inheritance. Luckily or unluckily for Jin Ling, his cousin Jin Rusong - Jin Guangyao's son with Qin Su - died early...
- How the Mighty Have Fallen: They were once the most prominent sect after the Wen Sect, but by the end of the novel they became the laughingstock amongst cultivators after Jin Guangshan and Jin Guangyao's crimes came to light.
- Not So Different: As lampshaded by Wei Wuxian, the Jin Sect is just another version of the Wen Sect. The only distinction is that where the Wen Sect is upfront with their intentions of conquest and responds to those who rebel with straight-up violence, the Jin Sect masks their true objectives under "friendly" invitations and deals with dissenters in a more subtle manner.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Part of what makes the Jin Sect so powerful is their wealth, and it's also why they're able to get away with a lot of the shady stuff that they pull behind the other sects' backs and why almost all the other sects act as sycophantic suck-ups to them.
Voiced by: Yang Tianxiang (donghua), Jiang Guangtao (audio drama), Su Shangqing (The Untamed)
Played by: Zhu Zanjin (The Untamed)
Height: 170 cm
Weapon: Hensheng (urumi), qin strings
The current leader of the Lanling Jin Sect and Jin Ling's paternal uncle. He swore an oath of brotherhood with Nie Mingjue and Lan Xichen, and is the third and youngest brother. Together, they are called the Three ''Zun''/Respected Ones. The illegitimate son of the late clan leader Jin Guangshan, Jin Guangyao's meteoric rise to the position of Chief Cultivator was not without its difficulties. On the surface everything is smooth-sailing for him, but if you look deeper, he was involved in Wei Wuxian's death thirteen years ago... and if you investigate some more, the trail of violence and tragedy doesn't stop there.
- Adaptational Early Appearance: In The Untamed, he's first introduced during the flashback, accompanying Nie Huaisang for the gift-giving ceremony in the Cloud Recesses and meeting Lan Xichen long before the Sunshot Campaign.
- Adaptational Villainy: Jin Guangyao the Big Bad in all adaptations. But devious as he was in the novel, he's ten times more malicious in The Untamed, turning from Affably Evil (with the affable part only slipping at certain circumstances) to straight-up Faux Affably Evil; oftentimes acting smug, cruel, and sadistic and crosses a few more lines than he did in the novel. If anything, even Xue Yang seems like A Lighter Shade of Black compared to him.
- He never planned Jin Zixuan's death, which the author had confirmed; but in the series he deliberately manipulated the events at Qiongqi Path so that Jin Zixun would accuse Wei Wuxian of cursing him and Wen Ning would kill Jin Zixuan, with Wei Wuxian taking the blame for everything. For the most part, he intentionally masterminded all the other events where Wei Wuxian would serve as The Scapegoat.
- In the novel, he learned that Qin Su is actually his half-sister after he slept with her, but married her anyway because of the fallout that would occur if he suddenly backed out; although he never touched her again afterwards. In the series, he never slept with Qin Su prior to their marriage, and when he learned the truth he went ahead with the marriage and then consummated said marriage, even while fully knowing that he would bear her an inbred son that he eventually killed.
- When he held Jin Ling hostage in the novel, he was careful not to wound him with the qin string and assured everyone that if they let him escape, Jin Ling will be returned to them unharmed. The series has him pull a similar move, except that he's also slowly and deliberately injuring Jin Ling to the point that any later and the latter might have died from a Slashed Throat.
- Affably Evil: So affable, he takes a moment to have a pleasant chat with Wei Wuxian over his love life, and he's generally this even to his enemies... unless they press a certain Berserk Button, then he becomes Faux Affably Evil.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Wei Wuxian couldn't stop himself from feeling some sympathy for Jin Guangyao after using Empathy to look into his memories. Jin Ling also mourns his death even after learning of his villainy, because he was still his uncle.
- Always Second Best: He laments to everyone present at the Guanyin Temple that despite all his efforts he's always one step behind Jin Zixuan solely because of the legitimacy of their births.
- Ambition Is Evil: To be fair, it's not hard to see why Jin Guangyao wanted to rise above his origins. The means by which he goes about it is reprehensible, but it's hard to root for anyone else in the Jin clan.
- Animal Motifs: Foxes. They're known for being cunning creatures, and symbolize strategy, adaptability, and quick thinking, all of which fit Jin Guangyao to a tee. They also tend to represent bad omen in ancient China, due to a tale about a fox spirit who took the form of a king's consort and terrorized the king's subjects. While Jin Guangyao isn't a tyrant, he didn't become the Chief Cultivator via honest means.
- An Arm and a Leg: In the final arc, Lan Wangji cuts off Jin Guangyao's right arm to force him to release Jin Ling, whom he was holding hostage. In The Untamed, it's the left arm that goes off instead.
- Batman Gambit: He's very good at predicting how his opponents would act, and is also a decent judge of character. When he knew that someone was looking into the severed head in his vault, he sticks around to catch the possessed paper doll that was doing the sneaking around, and then quickly invents a plausible excuse and reveals Wei Wuxian's continued existence in the meantime.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: A surefire way to not be the target of his murderous schemes is to look past his origins and, in spite of knowing his past, treat him fairly and kindly. While he might still use you as a pawn in his plans, he'll make sure to spare you.
- Believing Their Own Lies: He lies so much that there are instances that even he seems to be convinced that some of those lies are actually the truth.
- Berserk Button: Don't bring up in his face how he's a prostitute's son.
- Big Bad: Not apparent at first, but he's revealed to be the biggest thorn in Wei Wuxian's side.
- Birds of a Feather: Jin Guangyao and Xue Yang are almost as thick as thieves despite appearing fundamentally different on the surface. However, they both have more in common than they realize, which is exactly why they get along: they both lived difficult lives and suffered abuse when they were children, leaving them with the desire to turn to sinister or underhanded means to get ahead in life and get revenge on who wronged them. They also highly value self-preservation and have no empathy or concern for the suffering of others, and while they're capable of caring for someone they won't hesitate to manipulate, deceive, and sometimes even kill those they care for.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: While he acts polite in the outside, secretly he may be already plotting someone's demise. Even when with the one person he's sincerely courteous to, he still takes advantage of their kindness for his benefit. This gets taken Up to Eleven in The Untamed.
- Break Them by Talking: He knows how to get to a person with words alone, and with the right phrases, can anger or confuse them. Both Jiang Cheng and Lan Xichen were even repeatedly warned to not listen to anything he would say.
- Burn Baby Burn: He burned down the brothel where he grew up in, and built a temple over its remains.
- Consummate Liar: For Jin Guangyao, lying is as natural as breathing.
- Crazy-Prepared: He's very careful to leave no trace behind when he's setting a plan in motion. He isn't even afraid of hiding a qin string inside his own body just in case he would be in a situation where he's rendered weaponless.
- Create Your Own Villain: Nie Huaisang is less of a villain and more of a morally-neutral person with his own shady intentions. Nevertheless, by killing Nie Mingjue, Jin Guangyao paved way for the one person who would eventually have him taken down.
- Defiant to the End: Played with. Jin Guangyao chose to walk to his own death by angering Nie Mingjue's corpse, but he uses his last breath to rant furiously at his former sworn brother.
- Didn't See That Coming: When he had Jin Zixuan head for Qiongqi Path, he was only planning to use his half-brother's poor relationship with Wei Wuxian to stir up some trouble, but he didn't count on anyone dying. The author even confirmed that this was one of the rare instances when Jin Guangyao didn't orchestrate anyone's death.
- Dies Differently in Adaptation: In the novel, he's killed by a zombified Nie Mingjue via a Neck Snap before being buried alongside him — and the villagers noted that his corpse may have been even mangled to pieces. In The Untamed, he gets crushed under falling debris when Nie Mingjue's spirit causes the Guanyin Temple to collapse.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Before he became the Chief Cultivator, back when he was still of the Nie Sect or working under his father, no matter how hard he worked he would always either be brushed aside, mocked, or have the credit taken from him.
- Eidetic Memory:
- He is explicitly stated to have never forgotten a face, along with the preferences, social circumstances and other information of the person behind the face. Naturally, this proves to be extremely useful in building relations in his quest of power ascension.
- He's also stated to have never forgotten the contents of anything he might have read. This enables him to copy the techniques from other clans just by looking at them once.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: While being referred to as the Son of a Whore is his largest Berserk Button, he deeply loves his mother and had a shrine built in her honor.
- Even Evil Can Be Loved: After Lan Xichen learns of Jin Guangyao's true colors, while he's hurt by the latter's breach of his trust, he still can't bring himself to hate his friend.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He might have killed several people in his ambition to climb the social ladder of the cultivation world, significant ones being: his father, his son, his sworn oldest brother Nie Mingjue, his teacher, and his friend, and was also involved in the death of Jin Zixuan, but the only person that he had never thought about harming was Lan Xichen, because Lan Xichen was the only one who didn't look down on his origins as a prostitute's son.
- Et Tu, Brute?: Jin Guangyao doesn't take it well when Lan Xichen stabs him, whether or not Nie Huaisang tricked the latter or Jin Guangyao was really attempting something, and argues that the one thing he would never do is hurt Lan Xichen.
- Fatal Flaw: His desire to attain complete political power. Even before he joined the Jin clan, he had already gained the friendship and favor of two major sect leaders. Had he been even a little less ambitious, he could have led a happy and fulfilled life. It's his insistence on joining the Jin Sect — even though he was more than capable of establishing his own clan or gain a higher standing under the Nie Sect — that leads him down his path. And to rise to the top, he committed crime after crime and buried body after body, all of which backfired on him and beyond when someone decided to avenge one of the skeletons he hid in his closet.
- Foil: Jin Guangyao is one to Wei Wuxian.
- Both are of low origins; Jin Guangyao's mother was a prostitute and Wei Wuxian's father was a servant of the Jiang Sect. Their respective other parent, on the other hand, is of well renown; Jin Guangyao's father is the Jin sect leader and Wei Wuxian's mother is a rogue cultivator and a disciple of the legendary Baoshan Sanren. Consequently, both are mocked due to the status of their lower-ranked parent; but Wei Wuxian never paid attention to those insults while Jin Guangyao let said insults shape his actions.
- At the beginning of the story, Wei Wuxian is established as a Hero with Bad Publicity with 0% Approval Rating, whereas Jin Guangyao is a Villain with Good Publicity with more or less 100% Adoration Rating. By the end, their positions are reversed after Wei Wuxian clears his name and all of Jin Guangyao's crimes are exposed.
- Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: Wei Wuxian and Lan Xichen agree that the hard life Jin Guangyao endured due to his lineage could justify his desire to climb above his rank, but definitely not the murders he committed to achieve that goal.
- Gaslighting: Jin Guangyao is a master at twisting the truth, making excuses and making people doubt themselves until he's convinced them that he's correct.
- Gone Horribly Right: In a way, entrapping Jin Zixuan to face Wei Wuxian and Wen Ning in Qiongqi Path advanced Jin Guangyao's ambitions, but also led him down the path of no return.
- Horrible Judge of Character: Played with. Jin Guangyao knew exactly what kind of person his father is, and yet he thought that he could still gain a bit of Jin Guangshan's favor and affection when even the simplest-minded of people can pick the hint that his father cares only about his own ambitions and no one or nothing else.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Putting aside the fact that he had some ambitions of his own, he was doing most of the heavy-lifting for his father, and it leads one to question if Jin Guangshan would have succeeded in taking down Wei Wuxian if he didn't have Jin Guangyao's assistance.
- Informed Deformity: He's described in the novel as having a "cheap" face; looking neither attractive nor unattractive. But every official art of him portrays him as good-looking as the rest of the Cast Full of Pretty Boys.
- Karmic Death: He gets killed by Nie Mingjue, whose death he had orchestrated. On top of that, his own death was orchestrated by Nie Mingjue's younger brother.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: One can't get mad at him for killing Jin Guangshan, even if the way he went about it was less than pleasant.
- Laser-Guided Karma: He experienced what Wei Wuxian went through after the Sunshot Campaign, from having his 100% Adoration Rating decline to a 0% Approval Rating, to getting wounded by the person he trusted most, and finally, to getting torn apart by a fierce corpse — the corpse being someone he murdered, no less.
- Leave No Witnesses: He hired disfigured prostitutes as part of his plan in killing his father, then killed all of them after the deed was done. Only one was spared because Jin Guangyao recognizes her from the brothel he used to work at, although he had her locked up.
- Lineage Comes from the Father: Averted. He's Jin Guangshan's son by blood, but everyone ignores that and focuses more on how he's the Son of a Whore, which is also their favorite insult against him.
- Made of Iron:
- One has to admit, it takes a lot of endurance and toughness to still be able to stand — let alone live — after being kicked down the set of stairs of Koi Tower (which isn't a short fall) twice.
- Taking into consideration every injury he suffered in the Guanyin Temple arc, one will notice that it took a lot to put him down. At first, he gets weakened by a severe chemical burn on his arm, then actually loses an arm, then gets stabbed through the chest, and finally gets his neck crushed.
- Master Actor: Xue Yang calls him one, and Jin Guangyao proves to be capable of putting up an innocent front or play the fool if needed.
- Meaningful Name: Jin Guangyao's title means "to hide fragrance", alluding to his two-faced nature.
- Meaningful Rename: Meng Yao to Jin Guangyao, to symbolize the recognition of him as part of the Jin Sect.
- The Mole: During the Sunshot Campaign, Jin Guangyao went undercover as a Wen clansman and provided Lan Xichen with vital information from the inside.
- Morton's Fork:
- In his words, in the Xue Yang case he was faced between his father (who doesn't care about his feelings, and in fact threw him down the stairs of Koi Tower when Jin Guangyao first arrived to ask him for aid) and his sworn brother (who'd already insulted him to his face and also kicked him down the stairs of Koi Tower). Jin Guangyao kills Nie Mingjue first, and kills Jin Guangshan later.
- Similarly, he was also in this situation regarding his marriage with Qin Su. After going through a lot of effort to allow their marriage to take place, the day before the wedding Jin Guangyao was approached by Qin Su's mother and told that he and Qin Su are actually half-siblings, much to his horror. He then had to choose: either he marries his already-pregnant half-sister even while fully aware of the Awful Truth of their relationship, or he breaks off the marriage for morality's sake but attract political trouble that would humiliate Qin Su and her family in the long run. He went with the former.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: By default, he resorts to this if forced into circumstances beyond his control, and then running away once things get too hot.
- Never My Fault: Zigzagged. His response when called out on many of his immoral or less ethical actions is "I had no choice!". Sometimes, he's not wrong; and other times, he's just trying to shirk responsibility.
- Nice Hat: A gauze hat, to be specific. One can only wonder if he wore it to appear taller, since while he's not short by general standards, he's still the shortest adult male character in the story. The Untamed provides a backstory behind the hat: he was given a similar one by his mother when he was little.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Whether or not it would have affected his plans is up for debate, but he nevertheless patched things up for the protagonists by hinting to Wei Wuxian about Lan Wangji's feelings for him.
- Nice, Mean, and In-Between: On the surface, Jin Guangyao seems to be the Nice one of Jin Ling's uncles, since he pampers him and treats him with a gentler hand than Jiang Cheng. However, the final arc reveals that he's actually the Mean one since he didn't hesitate to hold him hostage, and it's implied that he plotted to kill Jin Ling once Jin Ling comes of age.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Jin Guangyao spared Sisi, even though she's a prime witness in his indirect murder of Jin Guangshan, because she was the only prostitute who showed kindness to him and his mother. This would backfire on him when Sisi gets rescued and she tells her story to the other sects, which then hastened his downfall.
- Obviously Evil: His crafty and scheming side is visibly more overt in The Untamed whereas it's shown in a subdued manner in the novel.
- Offing the Offspring: Jin Guangyao killed his son after finding out that he and his wife are half-siblings, since it would be obvious that his child is born of inbreeding if he grew up and showed mental defects.
- Pater Familicide: As he himself had admitted, he murdered his father, his wife, and his son.
- Pet the Dog:
- Everything regarding Jin Guangyao's treatment of Lan Xichen is this, as he helped the latter in his time of need purely out of altruism and without any ulterior motive.
- Even he can't help but sympathize with Lan Wangji's pining for Wei Wuxian, although that may just be because Everyone Can See It that badly.
- One could argue that it was part of his plot in enraging and killing Nie Mingjue, but Jin Guangyao showed kindness to Nie Huaisang, encouraging and defending his interests in calligraphy, poetry, and the like. Unfortunately, this no longer mattered to Nie Huaisang when he found out about what Jin Guangyao did, and responds by plotting a long-term plan that would result in the latter's ruin and death.
- Played with in this example: Jin Guangyao gifted Xianzi to Jin Ling when he saw that his nephew was feeling lonely; though in the Guanyin Temple arc, he has no qualms ordering his men to kill the dog when he suspects that Xianzi might become a nuisance to his plans.
- Power Copying: To an extent. See Eidetic Memory above.
- Power Trio: With Lan Xichen and Nie Mingjue.
- Psychotic Smirk: He pulls these off a few times in The Untamed when he sees that things are going according to his plan, and in a few instances, even pulls off a Slasher Smile.
- Revenge Myopia: Played with. When he realizes that Nie Huaisang has been masterminding a revenge plot against him the entire time, Jin Guangyao is enraged as if he was wronged for no good reason. Even when accounting their combative relationship and terrible history, depending on the reader's viewpoint, Jin Guangyao's to murder Nie Mingjue isn't entirely unwarranted; but either way it only makes sense that Nie Huaisang would want to act against him after finding out the truth. However, another way of looking at it is that he's completely shocked that the culprit behind his downfall is the person he least expected.
- Slave to PR: This is both a strength and a weakness for Jin Guangyao. On one hand, Jin Guangyao's need for recognition drives him to outperform his half-siblings and seize control of the Jin Sect, rising to get the highest position of Chief Cultivator amongst the cultivator families. On the other hand, his need to maintain his power, if not his good reputation in the cultivation world, drives him to several unscrupulous acts which eventually come back to bite him in the ass.
- The Social Expert: Jin Guangyao is an expert with words and knows just what to say to simultaneously please the crowd and manipulate the situation to his favor.
- The Sociopath: Jin Guangyao can easily qualify as one. He's ruthless in his quest for power yet can appear perfectly harmless and approachable to everyone around him, he can do several kinds of crimes without flinching, and he has a penchant for deceiving and manipulating both ally and enemy alike. That being said, he doesn't have an inflated ego nor has he exhibited the inability to feel love or any other emotion. All in all, he's a man who can feel emotions and can care for people; it's just that he's more than willing to get his hands dirty — which is an understatement at this point — to achieve his goals.
- Soft-Spoken Sadist: Played with. He almost never raises his voice even in his colder and shadier moments, but it wouldn't be accurate to describe him as sadistic. However, this is played straight in the Live-Action Adaptation, where he's portrayed to enjoy inflicting suffering on others either through Breaking Speeches or one of his schemes.
- Son of a Whore: His mother was a prostitute whom Jin Guangshan favored for a while, but promptly got bored of. His origins have caused Jin Guangyao a lot of belittlement and ridicule from others.
- The Spock: This is his role among the Three Respected Ones. If Lan Xichen is the mediator, Jin Guangyao goes by logic and pragmatism and acts after planning ahead, in contrast to Nie Mingjue who is a Knight Templar that tends to put Honor Before Reason and act immediately on how he feels at the moment.
- Staircase Tumble: He has a terrible history of being kicked down the stairs.
- Strong Family Resemblance: He seems to greatly resemble his mother, since many mistake the statue in the Guanyin temple to be modeled after his likeness when it's actually modeled after his mother's.
- Surprise Incest: Thanks to Jin Guangshan's womanizing ways, resulting in a very Big, Screwed-Up Family and Jin Guangyao's wife also being his half-sister.
- Taking Advantage of Generosity: While Jin Guangyao genuinely cares for Lan Xichen, it doesn't stop him from using their friendship to either further his plans or receive protection from someone else's suspicions. By the time the final arc rolls in, he had already pushed his luck too far.
- Taking You with Me: He attempted to have Nie Mingjue's corpse kill both him and Lan Xichen, but in the last second he pushed Lan Xichen out of the way, leaving only him to die.
- Tranquil Fury: He's an expert at this. Even when he's legitimately pissed off, he still puts on a smile and talks as gently and articulately as possible. He only loses the tranquil bit in his final moments.
- The Usurper: Technically, Jin Ling has more priority in inheritance than Jin Guangyao, and would have automatically inherited the clan leadership after Jin Guangshan died. However, no one in their right mind would let a baby be clan leader, and it was always understood though that Jin Ling was the clan heir and Jin Guangyao merely was a stand-in for Jin Zixuan.
- Villain Has a Point:
- He's not exactly wrong when he tells Lan Xichen that no matter what he achieves, regardless of the means he would employ, it would all be ignored and disregarded simply because he's the Son of a Whore.
- The lookout tower network he proposed, scattered around remote places of the land, has had notable results to deal with supernatural threats in remote places, as well as provide clean-up after handling those threats. Even if the cultivators who came wanted something in return while the locals were too poor to give them any, the money that the Jin Sect gathered throughout each year would be enough to support them. This policy however invited suspicion that the Jin Sect used it to gain personal benefits and stuff its own pockets. The Yi City case also proved that the lookout tower policy required expansion, if criminals like Xue Yang managed to evade detection for so long (though it can be argued that Jin Guangyao helped to hide Xue Yang as an extra revealed that they were in cahoots).
- At the climax, Jin Guangyao reveals that he merely took advantage of circumstances to send Wei Wuxian to his death. Wei Wuxian, he argues, was already on a path to self-destruction. He also points out that Jiang Cheng didn't help matters as he allowed his pride to strain his relationship with Wei Wuxian, whereas if they had trusted each other more, then Wei Wuxian would have been nigh untouchable since no one would want to mess with an ally of one of the Four Great Clans. Of course, this doesn't downplay or excuse all the crimes Jin Guangyao committed.
- Villainous Incest: Played with. Jin Guangyao had genuine feelings for Qin Su, so one can imagine the horror when he finds out just days before the wedding that she's his half-sister. He proceeded to marry her anyway because he needed the connections and power the marriage brought, but he never slept with her again... except she was already a few months pregnant by then. Hence the Offing the Offspring.
- Villain with Good Publicity: At first, which briefly becomes a problem for Wei Wuxian. Thanks to Nie Huaisang's machinations, by the finale Jin Guangyao has a 0% Approval Rating instead.
- Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: He's furious at Lan Xichen's betrayal because Jin Guangyao genuinely cared for him and was one of the few people he didn't kill. Which conveniently ignores the fact that he still treated Lan Xichen like a pawn and betrayed him in almost every other way.
- Weak, but Skilled: His cultivation isn't nearly as high as most of the other characters', but he has his Eidetic Memory and he knows how to fight smart.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: He did all kinds of things to impress his biological father and be formally accepted into the Jin family, but to no avail. This eventually led him to kill Jin Guangshan.
- Would Hurt a Child: He murdered his own son, and he was all too willing to take Jin Ling hostage to keep the others from attacking him.
- Xanatos Gambit: He's the victim of one executed by Nie Huaisang.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Jin Guangyao isn't the one masterminding the events of the novel and is in fact playing damage control, trying to figure out and navigate a plot against him. Nevertheless, he does a pretty good job up until he's finally outgambitted.
Voiced by: Su Shangqing (donghua), Li Lanling (audio drama), Zhang Si Wang Zhi (The Untamed)
Played by: Qi Peixin (The Untamed)
Height: 172 cm
Weapon: Suihua (sword, Jin Zixuan's relic), Xianzi (dog, against a certain someone)
The son of Jiang Yanli and Jin Zixuan, which makes him the only living legitimate grandson of the direct Jin line. He is handsome in a sharp way. Because of his personality, he's often called da xiao jie or "Little Mistress", but is otherwise good-natured, and he doesn't have many friends of his age. Because of his parents' deaths at the hands of the Ghost General, Jin Ling hates Wei Wuxian and anyone who practices The Dark Arts. He also has a dog named Xianzi, given to him by Jin Guangyao.
- Adaptational Nice Guy: The Animated Adaptation tweaks his Establishing Character Moment such that he comes across as less of an arrogant Royal Brat who often gets in way over his head and more of a "Well Done, Son!" Guy who's still reckless and a bit arrogant but is more insecure than haughty.
- Animal Motifs: Dogs.
- A Birthday, Not a Break: While not directly related to him, everything went downhill real fast for his parents and for Wei Wuxian starting from a few days before his full-month celebration, which Wei Wuxian was invited to.
- Berserk Button:
- Don't mention or hint at his orphanhood.
- Wei Wuxian, and demonic cultivation by extension. Jin Ling gradually changes his stance later on after the real truth comes to light.
- Bow and Sword, in Accord: A sword is a cultivator's main weapon; and Jin Ling's secondary Weapon of Choice is a bow and arrow, allowing him to switch from short to long-ranged combat.
- Break the Haughty: He goes through multiple rounds of this, which finally starts to beat some humility and sense into the boy.
- Character Development: By the end of the novel, thanks to his experiences with Wei Wuxian, Jin Ling learns many things such as humility, responsibility, and forgiveness.
- Deceased Parents Are the Best: Both his parents died when he was still very young.
- Does Not Know How to Say "Thanks": Wei Wuxian notices this from Jin Ling after the latter helped him escape from Jiang Cheng, and gently lectures him about it.Wei Wuxian: Young man, there are two cringe-worthy phrases in ones life that must be said, no matter what.
Jin Ling: Which two?
Wei Wuxian: "Thank you", and "I'm sorry". [...] Someday, you'll say those words in tears.
- Easily Forgiven: Wei Wuxian doesn't hold it against Jin Ling for stabbing him; it's actually Jin Ling himself who regrets his actions.
- Embarrassing First Name: Embarrassing Courtesy Name; Jin Ling finds the name "Rulan" too feminine for his liking.
- Establishing Character Moment: He's introduced bullying and chasing other cultivators off a night hunt by setting up four-hundred nets around a mountain, nicely displaying his pride, wealth and power. Subverted when the real moment is in his second scene when despite provoking an evil goddess, he faces it head on, showing that underneath the arrogant brat is a brave, strong person with the potential to be a great cultivator.
- Friendless Background: Even though he's the heir to the Jin Sect, he has no positive relationships with the rest of his generation in the clan, being bullied and ostracized by them. This is why he tends to act alone or go with his uncle.
- Generation Xerox: He basically went through the tragedies his maternal uncle had also experienced.
- They both lost their parents due to an incident that involved Wei Wuxian directly or indirectly, and thus they hate him and seek to kill him and anyone like him.
- They carry the weapons of their parents as Tragic Keepsakes (Suihua for Jin Ling and Zidian for Jiang Cheng).
- They end up becoming the last of their family and thus are shouldered with the responsibility of leading their respective sects at a young age.
- By the ending, they let go of their hatred for Wei Wuxian after learning that everything with and about him wasn't as simple as it seemed. The only difference is that while Jin Ling also mended bridges with Wei Wuxian, Jiang Cheng hasn't yet.
- Inferiority Superiority Complex: He acts arrogant because he's the heir to the Jin Sect and thus holds himself to impossibly high standards.
- Jerkass Has a Point:
- When Jiang Cheng scolds him for not lighting a distress signal, Jin Ling reminds his uncle of his earlier threat of not having to come back to him if he failed to capture any prey. Even Jiang Cheng reluctantly admitted that Jin Ling wasn't wrong.
- In the Yi City arc, when Wei Wuxian plans to rescue and bring a blind swordsman to shelter, Jin Ling understandably protests with the reasoning that the guy may actually be a bad person. His suspicions turn out to be correct, since the swordsman in question is actually Xue Yang.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Even at his brattiest, Jin Ling is no doubt brave with a strong sense of responsibility.
- Last of His Kind: It's unknown if Jin Guangshan had any other illegitimate children, but after the events of the final arc, Jin Ling is the remaining legitimate member of the Jin bloodline.
- Leeroy Jenkins: While he's brave, he's also pretty reckless in battle as he tends to charge first and think later.
- Like Father, Like Son:
- Similar to his father, he's not the nicest person around and has attitude problems that need fixing. However, his heart is in the right place and he will help those in need. Even then, Wei Wuxian laments how Jin Ling doesn't take more after his mother. Additionally, they also like dogs as they both own one; and funnily enough, their dogs had a history of frightening Wei Wuxian.
- Jin Ling also takes a lot after Jiang Cheng.
- My God, What Have I Done?: He's implied to feel guilty for injuring Wei Wuxian in a fit of rage, and the audio drama confirms this by having him stammer in horror after he committed the act.
- Nephewism: Because his parents died early and his grandmother shut herself off — and then died somewhere, probably — he was mainly raised by his uncles from both sides of the family.
- Real Men Hate Affection: Due to facing either neglect, ridicule, or Tough Love his whole life, Jin Ling has no idea how to react when someone extends a gentle and comforting hand to him, and as a result, he's aversive to any form of affection. Although it's less that he hates it and more that he gets embarrassed, and Jin Ling is a Tsundere.
- Royal Brat: He acts like this at first. While he proved early on to have a good heart deep down, he still acts arrogant, brash, and at times entitled because he's in line to be the next Jin Sect leader. The dangers he faces in the plot cause him to grow out of this trope.
- Shared Family Quirks: He inherited his uncle's poor naming sense.
- Someone to Remember Him By: For Jiang Cheng. Jin Ling was for thirteen years the only other surviving member of his family.
- Strong Family Resemblance: In terms of physical appearance, he's a perfect blend of his parents' features.
- This Is Unforgivable!: While Jin Ling initially grew to like "Mo Xuanyu", when he found out about his true identity he doesn't take it well and stabs Wei Wuxian. However, even that was a knee-jerk reaction as he already had a hard time hating Wei Wuxian by then, and he completely lets go of his grudge after learning of the true circumstances behind his parents' deaths and how Wei Wuxian was used as The Scapegoat, to the point that he chews out his uncle for always driving Wei Wuxian away with his hostilities.
- Tragic Keepsake: Suihua is the only thing he has left of his parents. One of the few times he breaks down is when someone tries to take it away.
- Tsundere: His most defining characteristic amongst the younger generation. He gets it from both his uncle and his father.
- The Unapologetic: Jin Ling Does Not Know How to Say "Thanks" as much as he has no idea how to say sorry. He struggles to grow out of this after stabbing Wei Wuxian, and it's hinted that he was looking for him in Lotus Pier after the events of the Second Siege because he wanted to apologize for what he did.
- Unexpected Successor: Because of his uncle's awkward status and the death of Jin Rusong, plus his status as Jin Guangshan's only legitimate grandson, Jin Ling was fully expected to inherit from the day he was born. However, Jin Ling certainly did not expect to inherit so soon after receiving his courtesy name - the mark of a legal adult - at sixteen, which makes him both a Subversion and Double Subversion of this trope.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Neither would admit it, but this is his relationship with Lan Jingyi.
- Weirdness Magnet: All villainous encounters involve him in some capacity. The only cases where he's not involved are the events at Mo Village, and the post-canon case details in the Gate-Crashing extra.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: What fuels Jin Ling's Inferiority Superiority Complex is his desire to impress Jiang Cheng, which is easier said than done. The fact that Wei Wuxian would advise rather than scold him about what he should do is what allows Jin Ling to warm up to him.
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: He named his dog Xianzi (Fairy).
- Wise Beyond Their Years: While he's introduced as stubborn and bratty, his Character Development shows that he has higher emotional maturity than one would first expect from him. He's also one of the few to acknowledge and accept several harsh truths that most of the adults around him (including his uncle) fail, refuse, or take much longer to understand.
- You Killed My Father: He hates Wei Wuxian and Wen Ning for his parents' deaths. While he could no longer bring himself to hate the former even after finding out who he really was, it takes a longer while for him to forgive the latter.
- Young and in Charge: By the epilogue, Jin Ling succeeds Jin Guangyao as the leader of the Jin Sect.
Voiced by: Li Longbin (donghua), Xiao Tan (audio drama), Yang Mo (The Untamed)
Played by: Shen Xiaohai (The Untamed)
The late leader of the Lanling Jin Sect.
- Abusive Parent: While he wasn't a terrible father to Jin Zixuan, his many illegitimate children didn't enjoy the same treatment. The abuse and neglect he subjected them to basically caused much of the novel's plot.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: In the novel, he is described as a middle-aged man with a boxy face. In the donghua, however, he looks youthful and slender.
- Ambition Is Evil: He plotted to make his sect the most powerful and replace the Wen Sect at the top of the cultivator schools.
- Asshole Victim: In-Universe; although several sects sucked up to him and sided with him when he plotted against Wei Wuxian, nobody actually mourned him when he died.
- The Bad Guy Wins: When you take everything into account, he did get what he wanted. He successfully turned Wei Wuxian into a public enemy and rallied the other sects in bringing him down, and he obtained the Stygian Tiger Seal and the services of another demonic cultivator who could repair it. The only reason he wasn't able to get away with it all for too long was because he continued to be too neglectful and abusive towards a certain son of his, who decided that he's had enough.
- The Casanova: Jin Guangshan is known as this, but given how despicable he is i.e. raping the wife of one of his subordinate, it's a toss between this and Handsome Lech. Either way, this trait of his leads to a lot of illegitimate children and some horrifying results.
- Faux Affably Evil: He may act polite on the surface, but any courtesy he shows is purely skin-deep and barely hides his pure despicability.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Jin Guangyao served as The Dragon to Jin Guangshan, forced to do his dirty work to advance the latter's ambitions. Most of Jin Guangyao's more despicable acts are either following his orders or cleaning up after him.
- Hate Sink: His sexism, neglect and/or abuse of his illegitimate children, and his long record of cheating merely form the tip of the iceberg as to why he's, to put very crudely, a scumbag. At times, he even makes Wen Chao (who was also known for being an adulterer) seem half-decent. Heck, even many characters In-Universe agree that he's plain terrible and the only reason they licked his boots was because of his wealth and authority.
- I Have No Son!: He tells his to some of his mistresses, indirectly referring to Jin Guangyao. Jin Guangyao, who overheard this, was finally prompted to kill him.
- Ironic Name: The guang and shan in his name translates to "light" and "kindness", respectively, which doesn't accurately describe his character at all.
- Karmic Death: Invoked. The real karmic death is being killed by one of his bastards when he spent decades neglecting and abusing his family.
- Out with a Bang: According to rumors, Jin Guangshan died from heart failure while he was having sex with a group of women, to the entire Jin Sect's shame. The truth is a tad more twisted: he was raped to death by a group of prostitutes hired by Jin Guangyao.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Not all of his mistresses willingly slept with him, such as Qin Su's mother. Fittingly, he also dies in this manner by the orders of one of his sons.
- Really Gets Around: When it comes to how many women he had slept with and had illegitimate children with, he's basically the Imperial China equivalent of Zeus. Bonus points for his children being responsible for (or at least involved in) many of the story's conflicts.
- Stay in the Kitchen: He believes that the only things women need to learn in life is how to look pretty and warm a man's bed.
- Your Cheating Heart: Having a wife didn't stop Jin Guangshan from gallivanting with any attractive woman who catches his attention.
Voiced by: Gu Jiangshan (donghua), Liu Mingyue (audio drama), Shi Zekun (The Untamed)
Played by: Cao Yuchen (The Untamed)
Height: 185 cm
Weapon: Suihua (sword)
Jiang Yanli's husband and Jin Ling's father. The only legitimate son of Jin Guangshan and Jin Guangyao's older brother. His existence complicates matters for Jin Guangyao's ambitions. His death marks the beginning of Wei Wuxian's frame-up and downfall.
- Adaptational Early Appearance: His role in the story's flashbacks prior to the Sunshot Campaign mainly involved him insulting Jiang Yanli and getting punched for it as well as standing up to Wen Chao in the Xuanwu Cave. The donghua introduces him right at the beginning of the Flashback Arc and gives him a role in the Waterborne Abyss arc. Similarly, The Untamed has him first appear when Wei Wuxian and the Jiang siblings first arrived at Caiyi Town while heading for the Cloud Recesses.
- Adaptational Jerkass: In the Live-Action Adaptation, he's not a villain and still serves the same role in the story, but the series shows him openly siding with his father's plans in demanding the Stygian Tiger Amulet from Wei Wuxian. He also doesn't protest when Wei Wuxian is labelled an enemy, and he doesn't bat an eye to the inhumane treatment of the remaining Wens. While his love for Jiang Yanli is still sincere, there's his questionable action of preventing her from visiting Wei Wuxian. None of this happened in the novel, where it's implied at worst that he wasn't present in the events where his sect antagonized and vilified Wei Wuxian.
- Adaptational Nice Guy: In spite of him having more negative traits as listed above, The Untamed also provides him with a few more soft edges. And while he initially didn't like his Arranged Marriage to Jiang Yanli, he never thought badly of her in particular and prior to the incident at Langya (which ends up regretting later on), always acted gentlemanly towards her.
- Adorkable: Not that many get to see him act as such, until his Tsundere side shows itself...
- Always Someone Better: To Jin Guangyao, since he's Jin Guangshan's legitimate son and outranks Jin Guangyao in terms of practically everything, such as appearance and cultivation ability.
- Animal Motifs: Peacocks; Wei Wuxian calls him one as he's mentioned to be quite vain about his looks, and peacocks commonly represent beauty. They also symbolize dignity, divinity, rank, and power, all of which the Jin Sect are associated with; at least, on the outside and before their eventual fall from grace.
- Brutal Honesty: He doesn't really mince his words about anything.
- Bystander Syndrome: Because the live-action drama has Jin Zixuan get more involved in the events following the Sunshot Campaign, he's portrayed in this light. While he doesn't actively decry Wei Wuxian, he doesn't do anything to defend him either. And while he's the one who invited Wei Wuxian to Jin Ling's one-month celebration in the novel, in The Untamed it's Lan Wangji's idea instead.
- Character Development: Downplayed. Even when he was quite the prick, he was always a moral man who wouldn't hesitate to do what's right. When he grew into an adult and after he fell in love with Jiang Yanli, he became less and less of a prick.
- The Dandy: According to Wei Wuxian, Jin Zixuan is narcissistic and very conscious about his appearance, even calling him a peacock.
- Easily Forgiven: Jiang Yanli, due to having feelings for Jin Zixuan, and forgave a lot of the crap he says about her. Averted with Wei Wuxian, however, who refuses to let Jin Zixuan off easy for insulting Yanli then later attempting to court her as if he never said that she didn't interest him.
- Foil: Both he and Jiang Cheng are more alike than they realize (see Not So Different below). So how do they differ? Jin Zixuan isn't afraid to stand up to other figures of authority if he feels they're crossing a line whereas Jiang Cheng, although he would acknowledge if they're being unreasonable, does nothing as he doesn't want to attract trouble.
- Happily Married: With Jiang Yanli.
- Hidden Depths: While he may be arrogant and can also be a bit of a jerk, he was also willing to stand up to Wen Chao when the latter ordered them to seize Mianmian to be sacrificed in order to lure a monster, protecting her alongside Lan Wangji even though he knew his actions would have consequences.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: His death involves Wen Ning driving his fist through Jin Zixuan's chest.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He may not be the nicest or friendliest, but he truly loves his family and will do what's right. And while he might not like Wei Wuxian, he understands and accepts how important he is to Jiang Yanli, and even invited him to Jin Ling's full-month celebration.
- Like Father, Unlike Son: A good thing in this case, given the type of man Jin Guangshan is. Jin Zixuan takes more after his mother, who is sharp-tongued, fierce, and honorable in her own way.
- Love Confession: He impulsively gives one to Jiang Yanli during the hunt at Phoenix Mountain, much to his embarrassment.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: He was on the receiving end of two beatdowns from Wei Wuxian.
- Not So Different:
- He's similar to Jiang Cheng in many ways. They're both the heirs to the leaders of prominent sects, they have a temper, they're not good at being honest with themselves, and both their families are rather dysfunctional by virtue of either one or both their parents.
- A few things he and Wei Wuxian have in common is that they don't care about authority and rules when it comes to doing the right thing, and their completely inappropriate sense of timing in professing their love.
- Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Played With. He had been betrothed to Jiang Yanli since childhood, although back then he had no interest in marrying her. The arrangement broke briefly but later on they would end up married out of their own free will.
- Royal Brat: Downplayed. When he was younger — while he never went out of his way to antagonize the people around him — he was still quite the haughty and arrogant character, even with his Hidden Heart of Gold. It took a few Humble Pies for him to finally grow out of this trope.
- Strong Family Resemblance: While he didn't inherit his father's personality, he definitely inherited some of his looks. The donghua shows that he also took after his mother in the appearance department.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: With Wei Wuxian. They respected each other's abilities, but their personalities clashed too much for them to get along.
- Token Good Teammate: At the very least, he's the only member of the Jin family (aside from his son) who's not driven by greed or ambition.
- Tsundere: His reaction to blurting out his Love Confession to Jiang Yanli says it all.
- What Does She See in Him?: He's on the receiving end of this from both Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng, who already didn't like him for his pomposity, and his initial disdain of Jiang Yanli certainly didn't help matters either. Even when he does regret his past actions and falls in love with Jiang Yanli for real, the two still haven't warmed up to him, but they keep it to themselves since they don't want to upset their sister.
Voiced by: Zhao Yi (audio drama), Wang Minna (The Untamed)
Played by: Yao Shuhao (The Untamed)
- Adaptational Early Appearance: In The Untamed, his first appearance involves him accompanying Jin Zixuan during the Sunshot Campaign rather than the hunt on Phoenix Mountain.
- Adaptational Expansion: In a way, given that his corpse is now part of the investigation the protagonists are conducting involving Nie Mingjue's corpse.
- Asshole Victim: The only thing worth mourning about his death was that it involved Jin Zixuan's death.
- Body Horror: He was inflicted with the Hundred Holes Curse, which is exactly as it sounds.
- Bullying a Dragon: He makes it a habit to antagonize Wei Wuxian every time they meet, or even when Wei Wuxian isn't around. The only things that saved him are his connection to the Jin Sect and Wei Wuxian being very good at exercising patience... up until when Jin Zixun went too far.
- Fat Bastard: His character design in the donghua is portly in contrast to his appearance in the Live-Action Adaptation.
- Hate Sink: He's basically a more belligerent version of Wen Chao.
- Jerkass: All the reader needs to know about him is that he's rude, arrogant, and spiteful. The only remotely redeeming factor about him is that as bad as he is, his relatives are even worse.
- Kick the Dog: He mocks Wei Wuxian about how he doesn't deserve to get invited to Jin Ling's full-month celebration before destroying the gift that he prepared for his nephew.
- Neck Snap: He dies this way, courtesy of Wen Ning.
- Spanner in the Works: Besides Su She. Things might have happened differently had Jin Zixun not confronted Wei Wuxian in Qiongqi Path, which was the tipping point for the latter's downward spiral. And then there's why said confrontation even happened in the first place: Jin Zixun antagonized Su She, who retaliated by cursing him, and Jin Zixun thought Wei Wuxian was responsible. The rest is history.
Voiced by: Zhang Jie (donghua), Tong Yin (audio drama)
Played by: Xiao Zhan (The Untamed)
Another illegitimate son of Jin Guangshan, Mo Xuanyu was taken in by Jin Guangshan after the death of Wei Wuxian, specifically to counter Jin Guangyao. A homosexual ("cut-sleeve" in Chinese parlance), Mo Xuanyu's choice of paramour was Jin Guangyao - which did not bode well for his reputation. Jin Guangyao was however one step ahead of him, and chased Mo Xuanyu out of Koi Tower at the first chance, on top of (allegedly) driving Mo Xuanyu insane. However, Mo Xuanyu had read the theory of the sacrificial rite, and used it to summon a villainous ghoul to possess his body, trading his own soul to kill the Mo family.
For the person currently inhabiting his body, see Wei Wuxian in the Main Characters subpage.
- Adaptational Sexuality: In the novel, he was explicitly stated to be gay. The donghua makes him an omnisexual (see below), and The Untamed makes him straight due to the rumors of him hitting on Jin Guangyao's wife rather than Jin Guangyao himself. However, in the latter case there are some hints where not all is at it seems (see Hidden Depths below).
- Beware the Silly Ones: The Mo family doesn't seem to be aware of this trope, unfortunately for them, as eventually Mo Xuanyu had enough of their abuse and summoned none other than the Yiling Patriarch to kill them. One also must not forget that he actually managed to summon Wei Wuxian's soul when hundreds of other full-fledged cultivators have been trying to do the same for years with no success. Granted, he used a forbidden spell to pull it off, but still.
- Cool Mask: In The Untamed, his habit of wearing ghostly makeup is replaced with donning a mask that hides half his face. Although according to Jin Ling, there are times that Mo Xuanyu went with the makeup instead of the mask.
- Deader Than Dead: The ritual he used to summon Wei Wuxian's soul requires the destruction of his own; meaning his soul can never return to the mortal world.
- Depraved Homosexual: How he came to be known by just about everyone.
- Destroy the Abusive Home: His reason for summoning Wei Wuxian.
- Expy: It's easy to see Mo Xuanyu as one to Shen Qingqiu from Ren Zha Fan Pai Zi Jiu Xi Tong, since both are characters who had to die for the protagonists — who already died once — to get reincarnated (in a sense) and get the plot rolling. The difference is that in Mo Dao Zu Shi, there's no transmigration involved.
- Extreme Omnisexual: In the donghua, he is this instead of a Depraved Homosexual. Rumor is that he would harass anyone and anything he found pretty, including animals and plants.
- Hidden Depths: The Untamed provides his character with a few additional layers. In the novel, all that's known about him is that he's gay and was interested in his half-brother, had a few screws loose, and summoned Wei Wuxian to take revenge on his family. While the last part remains true in the series, the series adds an additional target of Mo Xuanyu's revenge — namely Jin Guangyao. From this, Wei Wuxian infers that the possible reason Mo Xuanyu really got kicked out of the Jin Sect was because He Knows Too Much about Jin Guangyao and tried to warn Qin Su before he got thwarted; and that his insanity was possibly induced by Jin Guangyao via a song from the Collection of Turmoil.
- Identical Stranger:
- While the manga shows that his appearance and Wei Wuxian's original appearance have some similarities but are still distinguishable from the other, his character design in the donghua makes him look as if he is Wei Wuxian himself. The only differences are that Mo Xuanyu has longer hair and a slightly shorter build, but that's about it.
- The trope is completely played straight in The Untamed, where Wei Wuxian and Mo Xuanyu are played by the same actor. This is justified since it's explicitly stated in the live-action drama that the summoning ritual includes the effect of Wei Wuxian's appearance being slowly assimilated into Mo Xuanyu's body. The only way to tell them apart is that Wei Wuxian has a Beauty Mark whereas Mo Xuanyu doesn't.
- Lineage Comes from the Father: Downplayed. He's not acknowledged as a candidate for the position of the Jin Sect leader, but he was still enlisted as a guest disciple. While he got kicked out, it's not due to his mother's background but rather, his preference for men.
- Plot-Triggering Death: The events of the book really centered around the sacrifice that brought Wei Wuxian back into the world.
- Uncanny Valley Makeup: When Wei Wuxian first wakes up in Mo Xuanyu's body, he sees that the latter's face is garishly covered with white powder, with the eyes caked in red. Some characters likened it to a "hanging ghost".
- Unwitting Pawn:
- It can't actually be proven, but Wei Wuxian's hypothesis was that Nie Huaisang used Mo Xuanyu to deliberately summon Wei Wuxian back into the world, kicking off the long Xanatos Gambit that Nie Huaisang had prepared for the downfall of Jin Guangyao as revenge for Nie Mingjue's death.
- The Untamed plays around with this. Whether or not he remains a pawn in Nie Huaisang's plans isn't outright confirmed, but either way his role as one is diminished since in the adaptation he actively sought revenge against both his family and Jin Guangyao.
Voiced by: Liu Qianhan (audio drama)
Played by: Hu Xiaoting (The Untamed)
Jin Guangshan's wife, and Jin Zixuan's mother.
- Abusive Parents: Downplayed; she doesn't think that highly of Jin Guangyao and talks down on him. This may have something to do with the fact that he's one of the many children born from her husband's illicit affairs, but still.
- Adaptational Jerkass: In The Untamed, Madam Jin explicitly tells Jiang Yanli that Wei Wuxian is dangerous and that she should stay away from him. She said no such thing in the novel, and the only thing she warned Jiang Yanli of was the possibility of gossip if she's seen walking alone with another man — which wasn't said out of any particular animosity towards Wei Wuxian himself.
- Death by Despair: She went into a depression after her son and daughter-in-law's deaths, to the point of neglecting her grandson. She died not long after.
- Foil: To Yu Ziyuan. Both are similar as much as they are different in a lot of ways.
- Iron Lady: It's easy to see why she got along with Yu Ziyuan. Although between the two, she's the "softer" one.
- No Name Given: Her name is never revealed, and is only ever referred to as Madam Jin in every adaptation.
- Parents as People: In the brief interactions the reader gets to see between Madam Jin and Jin Zixuan, they don't seem to have a poor relationship but it's highly likely that she berates her son often. To be fair to her, it's not completely unwarranted given Jin Zixuan's character prior to his Character Development.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: As shown during the scuffle in Phoenix Mountain, she doesn't let her temper cloud her judgement and can acknowledge if her own family is in the wrong; although one can argue that this is due to some form of favoritism towards Jiang Yanli.
- Shipper on Deck: Due to a promise she made with Yu Ziyuan, she still pushes for her son and Jiang Yanli to get together even long after the engagement was already called off. Lucky for her, Jin Zixuan eventually started falling in love with Jiang Yanli.
Qinghe Nie Sect | 清河聂氏
Residence: Unclean Realm | 不净世
Region: Qinghe | 清河 (based on modern Hebei)
The fourth of the four great clans, the Nie Sect had seen better days since its founding by a butcher (as in the literal guy who sells meat) who slaughtered his way into the cultivation world. Their motif is a animal-head pattern. Defined by their practice of the dao (Chinese sabre), the Nie Sect's overwhelming focus on power and bloodlust also awakened their sabres, and successive generations of clan leaders were driven to death when the spirits of their own sabres caused them to suffer from cultivation backlash.
Under the leadership of Nie Mingjue, the Nie Sect reached the height of its power and influence. Following the conclusion of this war, the Nie Sect became one of the chief obstacles to the Jin Sect's aims of taking the cultivation world under its hegemony. After Nie Mingjue's death, the Nie Sect has since fallen behind in influence. Only the support of Lan Xichen and Jin Guangyao behind the current head Nie Huaisang has kept it afloat thus far.
- The Berserker: Partly due to their focus on power and bloodlust and partially due to the resentful energy stored in their sabres.
- Blessed with Suck: The Nie clan's cultivation practice is uniquely ill-fated. In particular, the clan's sabres will eventually overpower and kill their wielders through cultivation backlash.
- Creepy Cemetery: The Nie ancestral burial hall is filled with vicious corpses to tame the spirits of the dead clan members.
- Weapon of Choice: The dao rather than the sword.
- Won the War, Lost the Peace: They led the sects during the Sunshot Campaign but declined in power afterwards. It's hinted that they're starting to gain more prominence after Jin Guangyao's death.
Voiced by: Liu Sanmu (donghua), Qi Sijia (audio drama), Ji Li (The Untamed)
Played by: Ji Li (The Untamed)
The current head of Qinghe Nie sect. He took over as head after the death of Nie Mingjue, but maintains an attitude of ineptitude in presiding over the household. As the younger brother of the late clan leader Nie Mingjue, he is cowardly, rather useless, and doesn't strive towards anything, and he often asks Lan Xichen and Jin Guangyao for help.
- Adaptation Expansion: He has a few more scenes with Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng in the events preceding the Sunshot Campaign, such as joining along with Wei Wuxian's shenanigans and accompanying (or bumping into) the duo in some of their adventures.
- Alternate Character Interpretation: Wei Wuxian isn't completely sure on what part Nie Huaisang really plays in the plot. Either he is The Chessmaster behind several of the story's events, or everything that happened was coincidentally connected and Nie Huaisang was just an outsider who got involved.
- The Untamed leans more towards the former interpretation, with the series even having a few scenes that focus on him giving a cold look or a focused glare when nobody's looking; and Nie Huaisang neither confirming nor denying Wei Wuxian's suspicions. His character song also supports the possibility, since majority of the song includes lines that hint on Nie Huaisang mourning his older brother's death, and his determination to mask his true feelings and lay low for years in order to avenge him.
- Likewise, the donghua hints that he's is really The Chessmaster from the opening, where a go board is featured shortly before Nie Huaisang appears. And go is a Chinese board game where the goal is that one side must cover more territory than their opponent's...
- Apparently Powerless Puppetmaster: Everyone thinks that he's a complete no-gooder and the ruler of the Nie Sect in-name only. As seen in the Foreshadowing section, there's possibly more than meets the eye.
- At Least I Admit It: He doesn't deny that he's useless in combat and in cultivation, even as everybody else mocks him for it.
- Battle Trophy: In the finale, he picks up Jin Guangyao's cap as people are leaving, likely as a reminder of how he finally bested his enemy.
- Best Served Cold: He can persevere for ten years under the radar to locate his brother's scattered body parts, and subsequently take down Jin Guangyao.
- Beware the Silly Ones: He may appear completely useless, to the point of receiving the monikers "Head-Shaker" and "Good-for-Nothing", but he is frighteningly calculating and manipulative.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Implied. After Wei Wuxian pegs him as The Chessmaster behind the novel's plot (in the present time), he speculates that Nie Huaisang sees other people as nothing more than tools in his plans. It's ambiguous whether this is actually the case, or if Nie Huaisang is genuinely nice but is so utterly ruthless in quest to avenge his brother that he's willing to manipulate both his allies and enemies.
- Brains and Brawn: He's the Brains to Nie Mingjue's Brawn.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: While he is definitely not reliable on the battlefield, there are several hints that Nie Huaisang has all the other makings of a capable sect leader; but he would rather spend his days collecting art and reading literature than manage a sect.
- Catchphrase: Whenever he's under pressure or being needled about something, he always responds with, "I don't know! I don't know! I really don't know!"
- Character Tics: He likes to tap his fan against his hand.
- The Chessmaster: It's implied that he was the one who kickstarted Wei Wuxian's resurrection, which sets the rest of the plot in motion.
- The Dandy: As a sect leader, he dresses in an overly ostentatious manner.
- Declining Promotion: Only in The Untamed, where he tells Wei Wuxian that he's not interested in succeeding Jin Guangyao's position as Chief Cultivator. In the novel's canon, however, an interview with the author confirms that Nie Huaisang is next in line to lead the cultivation world, since Jiang Cheng would have to find a wife if he ascended such a station and Lan Xichen is busy being depressed in seclusion.
- Deliberate Injury Gambit: When Wei Wuxian tried to lure Nie Mingjue's corpse into a coffin, he got interrupted when Su She stabbed Nie Huaisang, which would catch Nie Mingjue's attention due to them being of the same blood. Later on, Wei Wuxian theorizes that Nie Huaisang fell on Su She's sword on purpose as he didn't want his brother to be buried until after the latter settles his score with Jin Guangyao.
- Foreshadowing: There's a lot of hints that Nie Huaisang is smarter than he acts.
- He's fairly calm when explaining the Nie family situation, panicking only when pressed.
- Not only can he muster his disciples on short notice, they also obey him without question even when Lan Wangji is trashing their ancestral hall.
- At the Second Siege, despite acting like a coward, he manipulates the entire mob into calming down and listening to Wei Wuxian.
- His cunning nature was apparent even as a kid. He not only bribes Wei Wuxian into helping him cheat on tests, he also gets away with it with all of the blame falling on Wei Wuxian.
- He Who Fights Monsters: At best. Even if Nie Huaisang had sympathetic and honorable intentions, there's no denying that many of his gambits were very morally dubious. Five innocent, even if unpleasant, people (the Mo family) died for his plans and there could have been more collateral damage if not for Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji's skills and a heavy dose of luck on their side.
- Inadequate Inheritor: He's viewed as this by Nie Mingjue and the rest of the world.
- In Vino Veritas: He gets very emotional when he's drunk. Although in hindsight of Wei Wuxian's theory, Nie Huaisang may have just been pretending.
- Last of His Kind: With his father and his brother dead, and with no mention of either of his mothers, Nie Huaisang is likely the last of the Nie family.
- Locked Out of the Loop: Nie Mingjue never told Nie Huaisang about the sabre spirits or his suspicions of Jin Guangyao, wanting to protect his brother. Considering Nie Huaisang is the person who explains the sabre spirits to Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji, and orchestrated several of the novel's events at the present time to take down Jin Guangyao, he either eventually found out or possibly always knew.
- Master Actor: If his meek personality is an act, then he's just as good as Jin Guangyao in fooling everyone around him, including Jin Guangyao himself. Another possibility is that he really is mousy in nature but it doesn't mean that he isn't capable of playing dumb and turning cold and merciless when he has to, and he just lets everyone think that he's no more than a weepy "good-for-nothing".
- Morality Pet: When Nie Mingjue succumbed to qi deviation and blindly attacked everyone in sight since he could only see their faces as Jin Guangyao's, he momentarily calmed down when his younger brother called out to him... before dying shortly after.
- Mr. Exposition: He explains the rules and family history of the Lan Sect to Jiang Cheng and Wei Wuxian.
- Non-Action Guy: Deliberately invoked. The Nie family sabres eventually overpower and kill their wielders so Nie Huasiang can't fight if he wants to live past middle age.
- Not So Above It All: Despite attempting to cheat through class and remain Beneath Notice, Nie Huaisang helped Wei Wuxian in pranking Lan Wangji by procuring the pornography books.
- Not So Different:
- From his brother. Both Huaisang and Mingjue care for family above all else and are willing to dedicate their lives to vengeance. One wonders how well the Nie Clan could have fared had Mingjue not died early and had he listened to and worked with Huaisang.
- From Jin Guangyao as well; both are more than capable of plotting behind the scenes and screwing people over to get what they want. The difference is that Jin Guangyao is after power, while Nie Huaisang is after revenge.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Given how meticulous Jin Guangyao is in covering up his tracks, it requires some good investigation and deduction skills on Nie Huaisang's part to figure out everything that Jin Guangyao planned or was at the very least involved in, including his brother's death.
- Only Sane Man: Despite claiming that he joined everyone else in the Second Siege for the numbers, barring Lan Wangji and the rescued juniors, Nie Huaisang is the only one who listens whenever Wei Wuxian is catching on to something while the others are too prejudiced or prideful to even pay attention.
- Puppet King: Because Nie Huaisang is so weak and vacillating, it's generally accepted that Jin Guangyao and Lan Xichen are the ones running the Nie Sect. Or not.
- Revenge by Proxy: Played with. Nie Huaisang subtly orchestrates a series of events that would result in Jin Guangyao losing his reputation — which is half of the revenge. Naturally, the other half involves Jin Guangyao's death, which he has his older brother accomplish. This is all the more poetic since Jin Guangyao is Nie Mingjue's killer.
- Another possible target of his revenge is Lan Xichen, who Nie Huaisang can easily blame for indirectly causing Nie Mingjue's death due to his constant defending of Jin Guangyao.
- Unexpected Successor: By the Chinese rules of succession, the clan leadership would never had fallen to him if Nie Mingjue had a child. Nie Mingjue however saw this coming, and tried to prepare his little brother for the eventual takeover, with... varying results.
- Vengeance Feels Empty: Implied, but not confirmed. If his reaction in The Untamed can be considered canon, Nie Huaisang doesn't feel elated by what he did against Jin Guangyao but he doesn't regret it either since he still felt he had to avenge his brother.
- Would Hurt a Child: Wei Wuxian speculates that he's the one that led the children to Yi City, which could have easily gotten them killed. He might have even planned for this as the deaths of the heirs to the Jin and Lan clans would further destroy Jin Guangyao's reputation and turn the rest of the Great Clans against him.
- Xanatos Gambit: He plays one against Jin Guangyao. Nie Huaisang arranged not only for Wei Wuxian's return via Mo Xuanyu's sacrifice, but also directed Wei Wuxian using Nie Mingjue's severed arm to direct the main couple through half of China and locate the rest of Nie Mingjue's severed body parts that Jin Guangyao had scattered. The psychological pressure of Nie Mingjue's body being located led to the next step: by threatening to release Jin Guangyao's secrets to the cultivation world, Jin Guangyao was forced to either: run away, or act first and cripple all other sects so that they could not compete against the Jin Sect. This led to the arrangement of the Second Siege where Jin Guangyao intended for Wei Wuxian to take the blame (again) and possibly die in the set-up ambush planned on the Burial Mounds. Subsequent events thus attacked Jin Guangyao's power, reputation and name to the point where Jin Guangyao had to cut and run with his mother's grave, at which point Nie Huaisang waited, tricking Lan Xichen at the last pressure-filled moment to stab Jin Guangyao.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Nie Huaisang's gambit isn't entirely perfect and his opponent is also a brilliant chessmaster, skilled at evading traps. Some of his plans do go awry, forcing him to adapt by getting personally involved so he can more easily manipulate and guarantee the outcome. The entire novel is essentially one long game between Nie Huaisang and Jin Guangyao.
Voiced by: Yin Xia Lao Gui (donghua), Feng Sheng note (audio drama), Zhao Yi (The Untamed)
Played by: Wang Yizhou (The Untamed)
Height: 191 cm
Weapon: Baxia (dao)
The late Nie Mingjue was the previous head of the Qinghe Nie clan. Taking over the leadership at a young age after his father died from the Wen clan's overbearing tactics, Nie Mingjue made his name at the frontlines of the Sunshot Campaign, and his reputation gave the Nie clan influence to rival the Jin clan. He swore an oath of brotherhood with Lan Xichen and Jin Guangyao, and is the eldest brother. Together, they are called the Three ''Zun''/Respected Ones.
- Adapted Out: Played with. His death is still the main mystery that Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji have to investigate in the Live-Action Adaptation, but through his sword spirit instead of his dismembered parts. As such, he doesn't come back as a fierce corpse; although his body is planted in the coffin buried in the Guanyin Temple.
- Adaptational Badass: In the donghua. Both Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji have been given several upgrades in the adaptation, but so did Nie Mingjue as a corpse; even before his limbs get reattached, the duo have a much harder time suppressing him.
- Adaptational Nice Guy: He's provided with a few more sympathetic moments in The Untamed.
- The scene where Nie Mingjue catches Jin Guangyao killing another cultivator still happens. But the scene ends with Nie Mingjue simply kicking Jin Guangyao out of his sect rather than vowing to kill him the next time he meet, and he even looks anguished when he chose to send Jin Guangyao away. And during the Sunshot Campaign, he asked Jin Zixuan about the other's whereabouts out of concern.
- Despite his hatred for the Wen Sect, when the last of them are captured he agrees with Lan Xichen's suggestion that the truly defenseless prisoners should be spared.
- In the novel, Nie Mingjue is portrayed as purely angry — and at times murderous even prior to his qi deviation — when he realizes how unfettered Jin Guangyao is when it comes to his ambitions. While he still has his outbursts of anger in this adaptation, he's shown to be equally upset that Jin Guangyao is nothing like the Meng Yao he knew him to be. When he snaps and calls Jin Guangyao the Son of a Whore, he sounds more disappointed than cruel and mocking.
- Back from the Dead: Zombie-style.
- Badass Mustache: He sports one in The Untamed.
- The Berserker: A Nie family trait. He's also this as a zombie, acting on pure killing instinct.
- Big Brother Bully: Subverted at first, since while he often threatened or scolded Nie Huaisang, he never once acted on said threats. According to Jin Guangyao, he spoils his brother despite acting strict with him. Then this trope is tragically played straight when Jin Guangyao accelerates his qi deviation, causing Nie Mingjue to gradually lose control of his sanity and subsequently lash out at Huaisang.
- Black and White Morality: He tends to see the world in black and white and can't understand the Realpolitik world that Jin Guangyao lives in. He's not wrong, but his uncompromising personality and lack of social graces means that he can't rein in Jin Guangyao.
- Blood Knight: He basically only cares for fighting and killing Wen-dogs.
- Brains and Brawn: Nie Mingjue is the Brawn to Huaisang's Brains.
- Cassandra Truth: He was right about how Jin Guangyao isn't someone to be trusted, which is just scratching the surface. But it would take at least thirteen years for Lan Xichen as well as everyone else to finally see that.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: He died of qi deviation, which spells at least a few gruesome symptoms. If that wasn't enough, he came back as a fierce corpse due to his unbridled hatred for Jin Guangyao, and the latter had to restrain him before hacking him apart just to keep him at bay.
- Dead All Along: He died during the thirteen-year Time Skip.
- The Dreaded: To Jin Guangyao, who is paralyzed with fear and even driven to tears when he sees his corpse in the finale. The other characters also immediately know that it's bad news whenever he shows up, whether as a limb or a complete body.
- Feuding Families: He hates the Wen Sect because Wen Ruohan was responsible for his father's death. Even with Wen Ruohan dead, his anger isn't sated and believes that any Wen who didn't directly oppose Wen Ruohan is just as despicable.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: So much so that his friends have to regularly soothe him with various spells.
- He Knows Too Much: One of the reasons why Jin Guangyao killed Nie Mingjue is because he's the only one who knows his true character and can see through his lies, and will never get off his case about it. As such, Jin Guangyao sees this as a threat and a hindrance that he needed to get out of the way.
- Hidden Depths: There are a few scenes where others would warn Nie Huaisang that his brother would break his legs or run him through with his sabre if he quit studying cultivation, which makes it easy for the reader to see Nie Mingjue as a Big Brother Bully. However, there are hints that he only pushes Nie Huaisang to become a cultivator so that he could defend himself. It's also likely that before the entire mess with Jin Guangyao happened, the two brothers had a close and good relationship (which the author later confirmed), otherwise Nie Huaisang wouldn't go through the trouble of pulling one hell of a Xanatos Gambit on his brother's murderer.
- Honor Before Reason: He's too principled and rigid that the concept of pragmatism may as well go over his head.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Despite his aggressiveness about it, in hindsight Nie Mingjue wasn't wrong in his insistence that Xue Yang should have been executed rather than imprisoned, since otherwise the entire tragedy at the White Snow Temple and Yi City would not have happened.
- Keeping the Enemy Close: He only became sworn brothers with Jin Guangyao to keep an eye on him.
- Kick the Dog: He literally kicks Jin Guangyao down Koi Tower when he finally loses his patience with him, echoing what Jin Guangshan did years ago.
- Knight Templar: He is firmly on the side of the righteous, and unable to accept Jin Guangyao's less-than-noble tactics.
- His first reaction at Xue Yang's massacre of the Chang clan was not the political fallout, but the immediate death penalty.
- His tactics of pressuring Jin Guangyao to own up to his crimes, however, had the opposite effect than intended - when faced between his father and his sworn brother, Jin Guangyao killed his sworn brother.
- Large and in Charge: Before his younger brother, he was the leader of the Nie Sect, and he's the tallest of the main cast with a height of 191 cm (around 6.3 ft).
- The Leader: He led the clans during the Sunshot Campaign.
- MacGuffin: His body was scattered across half of modern China to prevent him from coming after his killer.
- The McCoy: He's the most outspoken and temperamental of the Three Respected Ones. He's also the most uncompromising, making it difficult for anyone to come to an understanding with him and vice-versa.
- Never Live It Down: He never forgets any wrongs that Jin Guangyao committed, regardless of whether it was justifiable or not, and kept holding it against him.
- No Sympathy: Played with. He initially sympathized with Jin Guangyao due to how others looked down on him and overlooked his abilities on the sole basis of his parentage. But after Jin Guangyao proved how unscrupulous he can be, Nie Mingjue starts to have less and less sympathy towards his plight even when the latter claims that his background makes a lot of things harder for him, and at one point insults him by calling him the Son of a Whore after losing his temper.
- Not Helping Your Case: Nie Mingjue's temper really doesn't do him favors. It makes him seem unreasonable and irrational which makes it easier for people to disregard or downplay his opinions.
- Power Trio: With Lan Xichen and Jin Guangyao.
- Principles Zealot: A different version from those of the Lan Sect, but Nie Mingjue is definitely this. He believes that everyone should follow the righteous path and only the righteous path when it comes to cultivation, politics, and everything else. Once someone slightly deviates from that path, he will immediately see them as unrepentant criminals.
- Promotion to Parent: He raised Nie Huaisang as a teenager after their father died.
- Rage Breaking Point: Overhearing Jin Guangyao back-talking him to Lan Xichen was the final straw that activated his qi deviation.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: In spite of his temper, there are times when he can be diplomatic. This side of him is even expounded in The Untamed.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: He came back as a fierce corpse purely because of his undying hatred for Jin Guangyao.
- Sanity Slippage: Nie Mingjue's temper becomes increasingly worse during his extended flashback, exemplified in his treatment of his brother. While he threatened Nie Huaisang, he never harmed him and always protected him. As his temper worsened, their relationship consequently soured — culminating in him destroying his brother's possessions and eventually attacking him during his qi deviation.
- Warrior Poet: One of the few cultivators to avert this, being uninterested in art or anything besides training and fighting. This is exploited by Jin Guangyao who used his ignorance of Magic Music to slowly kill him via playing a cursed song.
Qishan Wen Sect | 岐山温氏
Residence: Nightless City | 不夜天城
Region: Qishan | 岐山 (based on modern Shaanxi)
Formerly the top cultivation clan in the world, the Qishan Wen Sect took things too far and was met with a backlash when the other cultivation clans banded together to war against them in the Sunshot Campaign. Many cultivators of Wei Wuxian's generation would distinguish themselves in battle here, and the power vacuum left in the wake of the Wen Sect's downfall would set the tone for the troubles which led to Wei Wuxian's death.
- Animal Motifs: In the Live-Action Adaptation, the Wen Sect's symbol is changed to resemble a two-headed phoenix surrounded by a wreath of fire.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: While Japan also exists In-Universe, it wouldn't be far off to liken the Qishan Wen Sect to real-life Japan. There's their Color Motifs of white and red, and their symbol being the sun (and Japan is also known as "The Land of the Rising Sun" in Real Life).
- Light Is Not Good: Their Color Motifs are white and red, their motif is the sun, and they're one of the biggest threats faced in the novel.
- Nicknaming the Enemy: The derogatory version: the Wen Sect were on the receiving end of this trope from the other cultivation clans, who referred to them as "Wen-dogs".
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: In The Untamed, where their Color Motifs are black and red rather than white and red as depicted in the donghua.
- Take Over the World: Under Wen Ruohan's leadership, the Wen Sect attempted to subjugate every other cultivation clan and rule over all of China.
- Volcano Lair: In The Untamed, the Nightless City is located at the base of a volcano.
Voiced by: Shao Tong (donghua), Teng Xin (audio drama), Li Xin (The Untamed)
Played by: Yu Bin (The Untamed - adult), Su Qiuyi (The Untamed - child)
Height: 183 cm
Formerly another insignificant if-rather-sheltered disciple of the Wen sect, Wen Ning's fame came after his death when he died and came back as Wei Wuxian's first corpse with his own intelligence. Unfortunately, he proved unable to control the instincts of fierce corpses and accidentally killed Jin Zixuan. The Jin Sect responded by announcing to reduce him and his sister to ashes, but secretly they kept him in chains to see if they could control him, which fortunately let him exist another thirteen years to reunite with Wei Wuxian and accompany his master in his journeys.
- Adaptation Expansion: He plays a larger role in The Untamed, and the trailer to its first sequel movie hints on a story focused on him and Lan Sizhui after the series finale.
- Adorkable: It's a given with his kind heart and shy demeanor, and even the fans unanimously agree that Wen Ning is an utter sweetheart.
- Animal Motifs: Cats. In China, they symbolize good fortune — which is ironic given that Wen Ning had no shortage of bad luck when he was still alive, and his bad luck didn't go away even after he was resurrected as the Ghost General.
- Another common belief about cats is that they have nine lives, which is a direct reference to his aforementioned revival; and cats are associated with witchcraft, which alludes to how he was brought back by demonic cultivation, which others see as The Dark Arts.
- Cats are linked to medicine in some cultures, and Wen Ning comes from a family of medics.
- Cats can also represent courage and independence, and Wen Ning himself is a Cowardly Lion who learns to be more self-assured throughout the story, with Wei Wuxian encouraging him to be more independent.
- Archer Archetype: Subverted. He's good with a bow, and is one of the best archers of the Wen Sect, but his personality is the opposite of what's expected from the trope.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: The simple act of being friendly to Wen Ning and praising his archery worked well in Wei Wuxian's favor when the former helps him hide from the Wens after the destruction of Lotus Pier.
- Berserk Button: He's a walking one to both Jiang Cheng and Jin Ling, with the mere mention of his name being enough to send them in a state of rage.
- Beware the Nice Ones: He's still genuinely nice and kind even as a zombie, but it doesn't mean he can't kill you if he has to. And if you harass someone dear to him, he won't hesitate to raise his voice and give you a verbal beatdown, which Jiang Cheng can attest to.
- Blank White Eyes: His eyes appear as this when he's in a state of mindless rage. In The Untamed, it's replaced with Black Eyes of Evil; although in one instance, his eyes gain double irises instead.
- But Now I Must Go: After they dealt with Jin Guangyao, Wen Ning tells Wei Wuxian that it's time for them to split ways so he could find his own path. Wei Wuxian understands and accepts, although they still hear from each other once in a while.
- If Lan Wangji is drunk and Wen Ning happens to be nearby, he's sure to get shoved or kicked. He's savvy enough to keep his distance the third time to avoid this.
- He's a bit luckier in The Untamed as he doesn't get hit by Lan Wangji (whose jealousy of him is Adapted Out), but he still finds himself in some other sticky situations.
- Chain Pain: Wen Ning weaponizes the chains — which he received when he was still a prisoner of the Jin Sect — around his wrist.
- Cool Uncle: Wen Ning becomes one to Lan Sizhui after realizing that he's his long-lost cousin.
- Cowardly Lion: He's understandably afraid of Jiang Cheng given that he's responsible for Jin Zixuan, but when he sees Jiang Cheng antagonize Wei Wuxian to the point that the latter suffers a Heroic RRoD in a futile attempt to defuse the situation, Wen Ning stands up to him and reveals that Wei Wuxian sacrificed his golden core so that Jiang Cheng would regain his cultivation abilities.
- Demonic Possession: He briefly falls victim to this in The Untamed in the finale when he gets possessed by the spirit of Nie Mingjue's sabre.
- The Dreaded: He is almost as feared as Wei Wuxian.
- Dull Surprise: It's a given since he's a reanimated zombie.
- Face of a Thug: Being a fierce corpse does not bode well for anyone's first impression of him. This is subverted to an extent in the Live-Action Adaptation, where while those who recognizes him immediately see him as a threat, any passerby who doesn't know any better sees him as someone easy to bully.
- Friend to All Children: He's highly protective of children and the younger generation.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: When he and Wei Wuxian first met, he was a timid young boy who was looked down on by his clan for being kind and physically frail. Nowadays, he's The Dreaded amongst people as the Ghost General.
- Guttural Growler: In his berserker state, he only either growls or roars.
- Major Injury Underreaction: Justified, since he's a living corpse and can no longer feel pain or other physical stimuli.
- The Medic: He's not as skilled as his sister, but he still knows a thing or two about brewing medicine and treating wounds. In The Untamed, he utilizes his knowledge by drugging the wine in Lotus Pier to sedate all the Wen members stationed there while he rescues Jiang Cheng.
- Mundane Utility: Wei Wuxian raises the world's first sentient zombie... and bullies him into watching over children and carting groceries.
- Nice Guy: He always means well with his actions.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When he talks without stuttering once, you know that he really means business.
- Papa Wolf: He develops a protective streak towards Lan Sizhui after learning his true identity as Wen Yuan.
- Power Incontinence: He occasionally slips into an unthinking berserker rage, with tragic consequences.
- The Reason You Suck Speech: He gives Jiang Cheng a short one after revealing the truth about how he "regained" his golden core.Wen Ning: Sect Leader Jiang — you, so driven of a person, have been comparing yourself to others your whole life, but you have to know that you never should've been able to equal him [Wei Wuxian]!
- Secret Keeper: He knew that Wei Wuxian sacrificed his golden core to Jiang Cheng the entire time.
- Short-Lived Big Impact: Possibly the cultivation equivalent of this due to being the first sentient fierce corpse, and possibly the most successful attempt before Song Lan.
- Shrinking Violet: As a teen, he was shy, suffered from nerves, and had a hard time speaking up for himself, even after he Took a Level in Badass as a fierce corpse.
- Speech Impediment: He has a stuttering problem, even as a corpse.
- Tainted Veins: He has these as a corpse, to fully give the impression that he's undead.
- Take Me Instead: Both he and his sister gave themselves up to the Jin Sect so that Wei Wuxian would not be persecuted for Jin Zixuan's death. It ended up being All for Nothing as not only did the other clans still launched an attack on the Burial Mounds, his sister's corpse was also burned to ashes and he was kept imprisoned to be experimented upon.
- These Hands Have Killed: He (reluctantly) took part in the burning the Cloud Recesses (and the Lotus Pier in the donghua); and the guilt he feels from this is why he fears both Lan Wangji and Jiang Cheng.
- Token Good Teammate: He and his sister are the two named characters of the Wen Sect who are not power-hungry, sadistic, or anything in between.
- Took a Level in Badass: The irony is that it took his death for him to undergo this trope, as he Came Back Strong after Wei Wuxian resurrected him.
- Undying Loyalty: A literal example; even as a sentient corpse, his loyalty to Wei Wuxian knows no end. Unfortunately, this earns him the ire of Lan Wangji whenever the latter gets drunk. At the very least, his devotion is purely platonic.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: He was a shy and earnest teen, who greatly admired and respected Wei Wuxian but, because of circumstances out of his control and in his attempt to right the wrongs his clan committed, was killed and then reanimated as a zombie. Mind you, he's the one zombie that retains his consciousness, gladly fighting by Wei Wuxian's side, but it took time and during the moments he loses his senses, he becomes violent and extremely dangerous.
- Vocal Evolution: His voice in the audio drama and the Live-Action Adaptation sounds the same before and after his zombification. In the donghua, the pitch of his voice drops several octaves lower.
- Walking Spoiler: How he ended up as a zombie is interlaced with the Sunshot Campaign and its aftermath.
Voiced by: Qiao Shiyu (donghua, The Untamed), Shan Xin (audio drama)
Played by: Meng Ziyi (The Untamed - adult), Lin Chenxi (The Untamed - child)
Wen Ning's sister and, eventually, a close ally of Wei Wuxian.
- Accomplice by Inaction: The other sects find her just as guilty as the rest of the Wen Sect since while she never sided with Wen Ruohan and Wen Chao, she never stopped them either. The fact that she and her brother protected Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng is conveniently ignored.
- Adaptational Badass: Downplayed. She's stated to have a high cultivation ability in the novel, but in The Untamed she actually gets the chance to show it during her stay in the Cloud Recesses.
- Adaptational Jerkass: She acts a lot harsher towards Wen Ning and Wei Wuxian in the donghua and is more unsympathetic towards Wei Wuxian's predicament and Wen Ning's reasons for helping him; although she still hides them from the other Wens and heals their wounds.
- Adaptational Nice Guy: Her personality is significantly softened in The Untamed, and she's also openly helpful towards Wei Wuxian in the same adaptation, in contrast to the novel where she's more of an Aloof Ally.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: She was willing to beg for help from Wei Wuxian to save her brother.
- Ambiguously Brown: She has a darker skin tone than most characters, although in the Live-Action Adaptation she's fair-skinned.
- Ascended Extra: Her role gets upgraded to a major supporting character in The Untamed.
- Big Sister Instinct: While her strict and direct personality intimidates Wen Ning, when it comes down to it there is nothing Wen Qing wouldn't do or give for her little brother's life.
- Brainy Brunette: She theorized and invented a technique for transferring golden cores.
- Broken Bird: When Wei Wuxian and Wen Qing first met in Yiling, he remembered her for being proud and dignified. Then when they met again in Yunmeng, he saw a miserable and weakened woman who's barely able to stand. She got better after Wei Wuxian rescued the Wen remnants, however.
- Combat Medic: Played with. She leads a medical branch of the Wen family and has trained in cultivation, but she refuses to take lives since she's a medic first and foremost.
- Cool Big Sis: She's a stern yet caring sister to Wen Ning. She also became this to Wei Wuxian, dragging him to take care of himself and disciplining him when he goofs off too much. This is likely why she gives herself up to protect him.
- Deader Than Dead: The Jin Sect had her cremated, removing any chance for Wei Wuxian to bring her back like he did Wen Ning.
- Face Death with Dignity:
- Implied, given her choice to surrender to the Jin Sect of her own free will. If the trailer for the donghua is anything to go by, she merely closes her eyes while she's burned alive.
- The Untamed plays this trope straight by showing her calmly walking up the stairs of Koi Tower with several cultivators pointing their swords at her and her brother. Right before she gets Killed Offscreen, she holds Wen Ning's hand with a smile on her face.
- Fire-Forged Friends: She went from being an aloof outsider who only helped Wei Wuxian as per her brother's request to one of his most loyal allies.
- Forgotten Fallen Friend: Played with in The Untamed. Like in the novel, while she's not brought up all the time, Wei Wuxian and Wen Ning remember her death and hold her close to their hearts. However, Wen Qing's expanded role in the series involved something of a one-sided romance between her and Jiang Cheng — which isn't acknowledged in any way after Wen Qing's death and when Jiang Cheng learns that she's the one who transplanted Wei Wuxian's golden core into his body.
- Iron Lady: Downplayed. Wen Qing is tough-as-nails and has a strong personality, but she's also capable of showing a gentler side to those she cares for.
- It's All My Fault: It's implied that she readily sacrificed herself and her brother to the Jin Sect because she felt responsible for Jin Zixuan's death and Wei Wuxian's ostracization.
- Killed Offscreen: Aside from the fact that she was burned to ashes, the readers are spared the details about her execution.
- Like Brother and Sister: She and Wei Wuxian form this kind of relationship when they reunite after the Sunshot Campaign.
- The Medic: The branch she belongs to, specializes more in healing and she's amongst the best.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: She is of high rank in the Wen Sect, and she's regarded as this as several Wen clansmen wanted her to become the next sect leader.
- Ship Tease: With Jiang Cheng in The Untamed, although it's one-sided. During her stay in the Cloud Recesses, Jiang Cheng developed a crush on her but Wen Qing shows no signs of returning his affections, and Jiang Cheng fully accepts that nothing will come out of his crush after she makes it clear where her loyalties lie.
- Sins of Our Fathers: Defied. Wen Qing states that just because she and her brother are of Wen blood doesn't automatically make them complicit in the crimes that the other Wen clansmen committed. However, the others don't see it that way.
- Take Me Instead: She handed herself over to atone for the death of Jin Zixuan, hoping that the clans would be pacified into not attacking Wei Wuxian. It was sadly futile.
- Trapped in Villainy: In The Untamed, she's actively involved in the Wen Sect's plans rather than a neutral party like she was in the novel. This is because her brother's life is being used as leverage for her to obey Wen Ruohan's orders.
Voiced by: Yan Ming (donghua), Chen Siyu (audio drama), Liu Cong (The Untamed)
Played by: Xiu Qing (The Untamed)
The leader of the Wen Sect.
- Ambition Is Evil: He wanted to rule all of the other cultivation clans (and likely all China) and started a war to do so.
- Bad Boss: Jin Guangyao noted that his temper makes it hard to please him, and any one of his subordinates could have been killed for the slightest offense.
- Classic Villain: His actions against the other cultivation clans are driven purely by pride and ambition.
- Disc-One Final Boss: He dies near the end of the Sunshot Campaign but his death leaves an Evil Power Vacuum that causes more strife.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Before the final raid on the Sun Palace, he mainly sat on his throne and gave the orders while his sons would do the legwork for him. However, everyone knows that he isn't to be underestimated.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: He's described by many sect leaders as having a horrible temper.
- Ironic Death: He was one of the most powerful cultivators... and he was brought down by a single Back Stab.
- Jerkass: Not as Stupid Evil as his son, but he does treat anyone that does not belong to his clan as dirt.
- Might Makes Right: Because he and his clan are amongst the most powerful, he sees himself as having the authority over the rest of the clans and imposes his will over them.
- Necromancer: In The Untamed, he's a demonic cultivator who can create ghoulish puppets out of the Stygian Iron (not the Stygian Tiger Seal). This is what made him so hard to take down before Wei Wuxian came along and overrode his control of his ghouls.
- Pragmatic Villain
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: In the donghua, his eyes are naturally red in color, and he's one of the villains of the story.
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Seeing as he's the head of the leading sect that in recent years has accumulated power over the rest, he feels more than comfortable in imposing his will over the others using decrees and laws to restrain the movements of the opposing clans.
- World's Best Warrior: He effortlessly beats Nie Mingjue into the ground and is likely the strongest cultivator barring immortals like Baoshan Sanren. It took an army of thousands of cultivators, Wei Wuxian's Army of the Dead, along with some infiltration on Jin Guangyao's part, to finally take him down.
Voiced by: Liang Xiaoqiang (donghua), Hao Xianghai (audio drama), Wen Jingyuan (The Untamed)
Played by: He Peng (The Untamed)
The younger son of Wen Ruohan.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Downplayed. While Wen Chao's appearance in the Live-Action Adaptation still gives off the impression of a smarmy and smug Royal Brat, he doesn't look as Gonk-ish as he appeared in the donghua.
- Adaptational Jerkass: Not that he had many decent traits in the novel to begin with, but the donghua and the Live-Action Adaptation go out of their way to make him as despicable as possible.
- Asshole Victim: No one felt sorry for him when he died. Even Lan Wangji, who protested the way Wei Wuxian dealt with Wen Chao, didn't exactly protest the fact that the latter had to die.
- Autocannibalism: In the novel, Wei Wuxian mind-raped Wen Chao into eating his own flesh.
- Body Horror: Intentionally enforced. Wei Wuxian specifically tortured him so that by the end, he's barely recognizable and looks like something between a man and a monster.
- Bullying a Dragon: He humiliated and attacked the strongest disciples from every prominent clan that were all far more accomplished than him, only getting away with it because of his family name.
- Dirty Coward: Whenever there's danger, you can be sure he will not risk his own neck.
- Dies Differently in Adaptation: In the donghua, Wei Wuxian has Wang Lingjiao's corpse bite off Wen Chao's tongue before he pierces him with spikes of materialized resentful energy, which he then tears Wen Chao apart with.
- The Dragon: Both he and his older brother do majority of the legwork for their father. In The Untamed, Nie Mingjue even refers to them as Wen Ruohan's "arms".
- Flaying Alive: Part of Wei Wuxian's torture. If Wen Chao's flesh isn't eaten off (by himself, no less), it's definitely skinned off.
- Foil: To Jin Ling, being the heirs to the most powerful cultivation clans and are arrogant and prideful as a result. They even have similar scenes where each one provokes a powerful spirit only to get in over their head. The difference is that Jin Ling has the power to back up his boasts and is willing to accept responsibility for his mistakes. Nevertheless, Wen Chao is what Jin Ling could have been had he not undergone some Character Development.
- Groin Attack: Implied in the novel when Jiang Cheng asks why Wen Chao's voice sounds so sharp and high-pitched, with Wei Wuxian explaining that a "certain thing" is gone.
- Hate Sink: He's easily one of the most reprehensible characters of the story, and is arguably even more loathsome than his father.
- Jerkass: One of the biggest in the story.
- Manchild: He's basically a playground bully who never grew up.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Throwing Wei Wuxian into the Burial Mounds is what forces Wei Wuxian to harness and control resentful energy. Wen Chao basically created the Yiling Patriarch.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Whatever Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng did to him — after what was already done to him — isn't described. This is lampshaded by the two themselves when they warn Lan Wangji to walk away as he might not want to see what happens next.
- Sanity Slippage: By the time Jiang Cheng and Lan Wangji find him during the Sunshot Campaign, Wen Chao has only very little sanity left.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: The only reason he gets away with what he does is because daddy dearest wields all the power and lets his son use that as a way to humiliate the rest of the clans.
- Smug Snake: He talks down to everyone and thinks that he can get away with anything. However, if he's confronted with someone he can't intimidate or put down, he shows his cowardly colors.
- Too Dumb to Live: He bullied the best and brightest cultivators of his generation to the point where he left them to die from a powerful spirit he provoked. That in no way will backfire on him.
- Your Cheating Heart: He had a wife but cheated on her with every girl he deemed pretty which were... a lot.
Played by: Wang Rong (The Untamed)
The older son of Wen Ruohan.
- Adaptation Expansion: He makes a proper appearance in The Untamed since the live-action series expands on the Wen Sect's attack on the Cloud Recesses.
- Blood Knight: The Untamed portrays him as a very aggressive fighter, and he undeniably has fun while giving the order to have Lan Wangji's legs broken.
- Burn Baby Burn: He burned down the Cloud Recesses to keep the Lan Sect in line, under the excuse that the place is unclean and needed to be purified with fire.
- The Dragon: Both he and his younger brother do majority of the legwork for their father. In The Untamed, Nie Mingjue even refers to them as Wen Ruohan's "arms".
- Off with His Head!: Nie Mingjue killed him this way and used his head in a Decapitation Presentation to boost his allies' morale in their war against the Wen Sect.
- The Unseen: He's only mentioned by name, but never makes an appearance in the novel or in any of the other adaptations (with the exception of the Live-Action Adaptation).
Voiced by: Hu Yajie (donghua), Tu Xiaoya (audio drama), Chang Wentao (The Untamed)
Played by: Feng Mingjing (The Untamed)
- Cruel and Unusual Death: In the novel, his right arm was flayed by a ghoul, then he was simultaneously strangled and electrocuted to death by Jiang Cheng.
- Dies Differently in Adaptation: His death in the donghua involves his arm getting twisted off, his golden core destroyed, then being left to be Eaten Alive by Wei Wuxian's Army of the Dead.
- The Dreaded: Given that he can destroy golden cores, any cultivator is understandably afraid of him.
- Even Evil Has Standards: He stops Wang Lingjiao from desecrating Yu Ziyuan's corpse, telling her that a woman like the Purple Spider deserves a quick and dignified death.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: He's the only reason Wen Chao succeeds or gets out alive of situations where he's likely to get killed.
- Meaningful Rename: He was formerly Zhao Zhuliu, but had his last name changed after the Wen Sect took him in.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: He dislikes Wen Chao despite saving his ass multiple times, and the only reason he even does so is because his loyalty to Wen Ruohan supercedes his personal misgivings.
- Power Nullifier: His right hand can melt one's golden core... and the damage is permanent.
- Punch-Clock Villain: Played with. His loyalty to Wen Ruohan is the only reason he follows Wen Chao's orders, and while he has no qualms about killing innocents, he's not actively malicious either.
- Red Right Hand: Almost literally in his case, as his right hand glows red whenever he uses it.