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Jiang Cheng (江澄) - Wanyin (晚吟) - Sandu Shengshou (三毒圣手)

Voiced by (Mandarin): Guo Haoran (animation - adult), Gao Shang (animation - child), Peng Yao note  (audio drama - adult), Zhao Xiaojiang (audio drama - child), Wang Kai (live-action)
Voiced by (Japanese): Hikaru Midorikawa (audio drama, live-action)
Voiced by (Korean): Jang Min-hyuk (animation)
Played by: Wang Zhuocheng (live-action - adult), Huang Zhenchen (live-action - child)

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Height: 185 cm
Weapons: Sandu | 三毒 (jian), Zidian | 紫电 (whip)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mdzs_jc_1_6.png
Click here  to see Jiang Cheng as a teenager
Click here  to see Jiang Cheng as a child
Click here  to see Jiang Cheng in The Untamed
Click here  to see Jiang Cheng as a child in The Untamed

"Just how much did the Jiang Sect give you? I'm supposed to be his son, I'm supposed to be the heir of the Yunmeng Jiang Sect, yet all these years I've been outdone by you at every single thing. You paid for your bringing-up with life!"


The current leader of the Yunmeng Jiang Sect, Jin Ling's maternal uncle, the son of Jiang Fengmian and Yu Ziyuan, and Wei Wuxian's friend-turned-enemy. He's sharp, handsome, strong, and proud; but he also has a fearsome temper.

He grew up with Wei Wuxian, and when they were younger, they had vowed to become the Twin Prides of Yunmeng. Sadly, the future did not turn out as they hoped, and Jiang Cheng was the one who led the first siege of the Burial Mounds.

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    A-C 
  • Adaptational Heroism: Downplayed. While only little of his character was changed, a few of Jiang Cheng's more despicable actions are either tweaked or removed in the Animated Adaptation, which gives him a sympathetic edge or two over his novel and even his live-action counterparts.
    • When he and Wei Wuxian argued over sheltering the Wen survivors, Jiang Cheng only made a dour remark about how Wei Wuxian always embodied the Jiang Sect's motto better than he ever did, but he never commented about how he began to agree with his mother's sentiment over how Wei Wuxian was nothing but trouble.
    • In the novel, he attended the pledge conference in the Nightless City with the full knowledge that every clan that attended would vow to kill Wei Wuxian and the Wen survivors. In the donghua, he was clueless about this as he reacts in shock when Jin Guangshan declared that Wei Wuxian must die.
    • When he briefly captured Wei Wuxian in Qinghe, he never used his fear of dogs against him.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: While his personality is overall softer in the adaptation, The Untamed still also gives more focus to his less sympathetic qualities.
    • Jiang Cheng is generally at his most sympathetic in the live-action drama, but he's also at his rudest and most aggressive towards Wen Ning in the same adaptation.
    • Because Wei Wuxian makes the pledge to be his right-hand man in a less emotional moment, since Jiang Cheng can be summarized as "sulking" and his tone is rather light, it takes away the emotionally-charged nature of the promise this adaptation when compared to the other versions, and makes it hard to understand why Jiang Cheng is so hell-bent on keeping Wei Wuxian to his oath.
    • His actions are the most directly linked to Wei Wuxian's death in this adaptation.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: He still Took a Level in Jerkass after the Time Skip, but The Untamed provides him with a few more sympathetic traits.
    • Jiang Cheng continues to have plenty of anger issues, but he's not as petty as he was in the original canon.
    • At least prior to the Sunshot Campaign, while he still didn't want to break the rules and get in trouble, he was less hesitant in doing so when Wei Wuxian was in danger.
    • He's still stern with Jin Ling and often raises his voice at him, but he's not as harsh with his nephew like how he was in the novel.
    • One episode explores part of his emotional Hidden Depths by having him dream of an alternate reality where both his parents are happy and content, his father openly shows him affection for the first time, and Wei Wuxian is treated as part of the family without any grudges or resentment. This doesn't happen in any of the other adaptations.
    • The sadistic and cruel tendencies he displayed towards the Wen Sect are nigh-nonexistent. While he remains vengeful and stated that the enemy of an enemy is a friend and that the ends justifies the means when it comes to dealing with them, he's shocked rather than thrilled when he saw the Wens' corpses and the damage that Wei Wuxian had inflicted on Wen Chao. He's also appalled when the Jin Sect uses Wen prisoners as props for "target practice" during the Phoenix Mountain hunt. That being said, he remained unsympathetic to the deaths of the Wen refugees that Wei Wuxian sheltered.
    • While he still played a direct role in Wei Wuxian's demise in this adaptation and hates him at present, he's more visibly guilty about what he had done as seen in his reaction when Lan Jingyi reminds him that he's the one who killed Wei Wuxian.
    • When the truth behind his "healed" golden core is revealed, the series focuses more on his grief and guilt instead of his rage and disbelief.
      • He shows more sympathy towards Jin Ling when the latter mourns Jin Guangyao's death.
    • Although the novel reveals that Jiang Cheng protected Wei Wuxian by luring the Wens' attention before getting captured by them, the novel doesn't specify whether he also allowed himself to get caught or not. In the series, the ambiguity is removed as the finale shows that he willingly surrendered through his thoughts of: "Take care of yourself. I leave Sis in your hands.".
    • In the ending, he still decides that there's nothing left for him and Wei Wuxian to talk about; but he's more at peace with his decision to let Wei Wuxian go and wishes his old friend the best of luck wherever he goes.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Jiang Cheng is faced with the reality that he and his siblings will inevitably live separate lives. This is downplayed with Jiang Yanli; but with Wei Wuxian, Jiang Cheng is confronted with the truth in the worst possible way.
    • His strict attitude with Jin Ling comes in part from taking after his own mother and inheriting both his parents' complete lack of knowledge about proper childcare, but it's also influenced by fear of losing the only family he has left and fear of having Jin Ling live in the shadow of inferiority like he did.
  • Alone Among the Couples:
    • It's more of a fandom joke than anything else. The author has noted that Jiang Cheng has gone on three matchmaking attempts and has been blacklisted.
      His requirements are: A gentle beauty who's obedient, is economical when taking care of the household and is from a good family, her cultivation should not be too high, her personality not too strong, doesn't talk too much, isn't too loud, doesn't spend too much money, and is good to Jin Ling.
    • In The Untamed, there's a fair amount of Ship Tease between him and Wen Qing, although nothing came out of it as Jiang Cheng's duties as a sect leader conflicted with Wen Qing's loyalty to her family. The writers also confirmed that his affections for her amounted to a mere youthful crush. Once he got over said crush, he no longer thought much of her, let alone mourned her death.
  • Always Second Best: For Jiang Cheng, Wei Wuxian. Wei Wuxian was the head disciple of the Jiang Sect, received more open affection from Jiang Cheng's father and their teacher Jiang Fengmian, more talented, more handsome, had a higher ranking, was taller... and, even after coming Back from the Dead, Wei Wuxian is Happily Married to Lan Wangji, while Jiang Cheng has entered the female cultivators' blacklist.
    • It's basically a running joke. Can shoot down a kite from far away? Wei Wuxian hits even farther, blindfolded. Ran for 7 days to save his friend? Wei Wuxian kills a 400-year-old spirit. Rebuilds his sect and gain renown during the Sunshot Campaign? Wei Wuxian invents necromancy and becomes the cultivator bogeyman.
    • However, this trope is also deconstructed in that part of the reason Jiang Cheng continues to stew his hatred and fail to develop as a person because of his refusal to get over this trope.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Jiang Cheng is, in the most basic of descriptions, a hot-tempered child who grew up into a spiteful, vindictive man who can easily fly off the handle at the smallest provocation, and is terrible at feeling (let alone expressing) gratitude or remorse, or even any other emotion that isn't anger or grief. Considering the amount of trauma he accrues by the time he's twenty, it's not unlikely that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Anger Born of Worry: In the past, he often showed annoyance and irritation every time Wei Wuxian gets in hot water with something or someone. In the present, he does this with Jin Ling instead.
  • Animal Motifs:
    • Dogs, like with his nephew.
    • The Untamed also adds snakes to the equation. In its sealed form, Zidian takes the form of a vambrace with a snake decoration encoiled around it, and Sandu's hilt is also engraved with the symbol of a snake. This is fitting, since snakes are one of the three animals (besides the rooster and the pig) representing the three poisons (sandu) of Buddhism; and snakes are known as an animal with several poisonous species. More importantly, each animal represents a certain poison, and in sandu, the snake represents anger.
  • Arch-Enemy: Played with. While he's not a villain, he's often at odds with the protagonist and takes the role of an antagonist, especially by the present time. After Wei Wuxian's resurrection, the plot doesn't shy away from showing that they now stand on opposite sides and come to (mostly verbal) blows every time they meet, with Jiang Cheng starting the confrontation.
  • Awful Truth: The ending reveals that the reason Jiang Cheng got captured by the Wens wasn't because he got desperate and blindly went back to Lotus Pier to scrounge any family relics he could find; he drew the Wens' attention on purpose to prevent Wei Wuxian from getting caught. He wanted to tell Wei Wuxian about this but chose to keep silent, and it's implied that Jiang Cheng didn't tell Wei Wuxian the truth because he would only be burdening him with more guilt, just like how Wei Wuxian never told him about how he really got his core back because he knew Jiang Cheng wouldn't take the information well.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: For all his blusters and threats, Jiang Cheng truly cares for his nephew, and beneath his hatred for Wei Wuxian lies the same brotherly love he had for him years ago.
  • Badass Baritone: Subverted in the adaptations where Jiang Cheng speaks with Wang Kai and Hikaru Midorikawa's voices. However, his voice actors in both the donghua and the Mandarin dub of the audio drama feature Jiang Cheng with a slightly youthful yet clearly low and masculine voice that has a rough and threatening edge to its timber. Jiang Cheng's voice is at its deepest in the Korean dub of the donghua.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Jiang Cheng managed to revive his sect, solidify and increase its power, and establish his place in the higher echelons of the cultivation world. All he had to do was renounce his closest friend in every possible manner and spill the blood of innocents to maintain what he has. As he realizes too late, he can't reverse what he did.
  • Being Good Sucks: Jiang Cheng believes that nothing good comes out of being magnanimous and selfless. He prefers looking out for himself and he almost always prioritizes ambition and practicality over charity and sentiment.
  • Berserk Button: Given his temper, Jiang Cheng has quite a lot of them.
    • Demonic cultivators in general and Wei Wuxian in particular.
    • Everyone knows better than to mention in Jiang Cheng's presence how Wei Wuxian was one rank above him in everything.
    • Don't even insinuate that he's not worthy to be sect leader.
    • He doesn't take it well when someone walks out of a fight, particularly when he's the one they're fighting.
    • It takes a few years for Wei Wuxian to realize it, but Jiang Cheng reveals that he doesn't gracefully take broken promises in stride.
    • He's quick to lash out at the implication that he might be even slightly in the wrong.
  • Big Eater: Some of the adaptations hint at Jiang Cheng having quite the appetite.
    • In Mo Dao Zu Shi Q, when Wei Wuxian suggested that the could circumvent the Lan Sect's rule of "no more than three bowls of rice a day" by eating three extra large bowls of rice per day, Jiang Cheng took advantage of the loophole to the point that he became overweight.
    • In the audio drama, after they managed to steal a single chicken, Jiang Cheng quickly becomes angry when Wei Wuxian offers to share only the chicken butt with him.
  • Big Brother Instinct:
    • Inverted as he's the little brother. Both he and Wei Wuxian respect and admire Jiang Yanli, and won't allow any harm to come to her. They also won't stand for anyone talking badly of her, which is why they both aren't exactly welcoming of Jin Zixuan, even after he and Jiang Yanli got Happily Married. While Wei Wuxian is the only one who's open with his hostility, Jiang Cheng dislikes Jin Zixuan just as much but refrains from acting on it since his standing would be affected.
    • He's younger than Wei Wuxian (albeit only by a few days), but he's nevertheless protective of him and often acted like a mother hen to him, in spite of their differences and tensions. However, things gradually changed once Jiang Cheng succeeded his father's position as the Jiang Sect leader and both politics and their differing paths got in the way of their brotherhood.
  • Big Sister Worship: Not the extent of Wei Wuxian's fondness of Jiang Yanli, but he clearly loved his older sister and often showed worry for her. When Jiang Yanli headed to the Nightless City to search for Wei Wuxian, Jiang Cheng immediately does whatever he can to protect her, and in the end he's incredibly heartbroken when he watched his sister get killed.
  • Blame Game: Almost every interaction he and Wei Wuxian have post-Time Skip consists of him ragging on Wei Wuxian for all the things he blames him for, and he often brings up the debt he feels Wei Wuxian owes his family. Whether he's just lashing out without thinking or is intentionally going out of his way to make Wei Wuxian feel upset, it always ends in their already brittle relationship souring a bit more. By the time the final arc comes to a close, his tendency to condemn Wei Wuxian for everything made his old friend believe that reaching out to him and talking to him about anything is beyond pointless, making it even more impossible for them to reconcile.
  • Blessed with Suck: Jiang Cheng has a lot of emotional baggage since childhood, and it never gets better for him, to the extent that at best he gets not a happy, but a Bittersweet Ending.
    • For the complete details, Jiang Cheng was born into a loveless marriage, had a distant relationship with his father, which is even more prominent after the adoption of Wei Wuxian, after which also heralds Yu Ziyuan's constant belittling and criticism of him. He then loses his parents, his sect is completely destroyed. While rebuilding his sect, he gave in to political and peer pressure from the other clans and began to stand against Wei Wuxian, and not long after, his nephew is orphaned because of events involving his martial brother. In the end, he is hit over the head with the revelation that Wei Wuxian sacrificed his core for him and that he left him to pay their debts to the people who made the sacrifice possible. And at the very end, while he does gain some form of closure with his past, he and Wei Wuxian do not reconcile as too much had changed between them to be side-by-side like they once were.
  • Braids of Action: In the donghua and manhua, he has small braids tied on the sides of his head, and he's a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield.
  • Breaking the Cycle of Bad Parenting: As a child, both his parents failed to give him any proper attention or affection; he and his father were distant, and his mother would criticize and lambaste him all the time. As an uncle and something of a Parental Substitute to Jin Ling, he comes into the realm of parenthood completely blind, with no good examples to learn from. While there are times when he repeats his parents' — especially his mother's — mistakes in regards to parenting, he does make a sincere effort to do better in taking care of Jin Ling than how his parents handled him.
  • Break the Haughty: Learning about how his golden core was really restored has this effect on Jiang Cheng. His whole life, he wanted to prove himself better than Wei Wuxian or at least as good as him in his own way — a drive that didn't go away even long after Wei Wuxian's death. He also made himself believe that no matter what happened, Wei Wuxian always (and intentionally) committed the worst actions, and that he himself had no fault in anything. Therefore, the realization that his "repaired" golden core is actually Wei Wuxian's is a devastating blow to his pride since he gets (metaphorically) slapped hard in the face about how he was more wrong than right in his views of Wei Wuxian. It also means that to him, all his achievements in the Sunshot Campaign and everything else that followed was only possible due to another's sacrifice, rather than his own. And Jiang Cheng hates getting help from others.
  • Broken Ace: Jiang Cheng is a young sect leader who manages to rebuild a completely eradicated sect despite the trauma linked to both his upbringing as well as the events leading to the eradication of the sect and the immediate aftermath. And things get worse for him as time goes on, leaving him embittered after thirteen years of stewing over his what he perceived to be his friend's betrayal and the loss of nearly his entire family, all despite having gained the respect of his peers and bringing his sect to beyond its former glory.
  • Broken Tears:
    • He has a truly horrible breakdown after he watches his home burn down and his parents killed, with him being unable to do anything but cry and scream.
    • He sheds these after venting all his thoughts and emotions in the Guanyin temple, as he's horrified and guilt-stricken by the Awful Truth about his golden core.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Briefly after he got captured by the Wen Sect and had his golden core melted off by Wen Zhuliu, before Wei Wuxian gave him his own core.
  • Brutal Honesty: Zigzagged. As Jiang Cheng himself admits, he never cared about watching his language. The audio drama reveals that this is also the main reason why he can't find a wife. That being said, he's capable of being tactful in formal events. However, while Jiang Cheng is always blunt, it doesn't mean he's always truthful as well.
  • The Bully: Downplayed. He wasn't one in the past, and while he's not always acting like one at present, he nevertheless exhibits behavior similar to that of a bully every time he's trying to get under someone else's skin. Besides spouting tactless and biting insults, he's also willing to impose his authority to intimidate others into submission and notably goes only after the people who he's sure will not retaliate against him no matter how much he riles them up.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Downplayed. In spite of his rank and cultivation, it's obvious that he tends to bite off more than he can chew whenever he's antagonizing Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji post-Time Skip. The only reason he's not suffering any retaliation from them is that Wei Wuxian suffers from both Heroic Self-Deprecation and a guilt complex and mostly just wants to be left alone, and Lan Wangji has plenty of self-restraint to spare even though he won't hesitate to fight Jiang Cheng if necessary. However, Jiang Cheng does eventually learn that he had pushed his luck too far when Wen Ning bites back at him on their behalf in the penultimate arc.
  • Bystander Syndrome: In the past, his hands were tied as he wavered on whether to stand by Wei Wuxian's side or stay on good terms with the other sects in order to protect the Yunmeng Jiang Sect, since both choices are difficult and mutually exclusive. Jin Guangyao even calls him out on this, pointing out that his reluctance to take action — combined with his pride — played a huge part in Wei Wuxian's downfall. Jiang Cheng is unable to argue with that.
  • Cain and Abel: In-universe, he's seen as the Abel to Wei Wuxian's Cain. The truth is actually the reverse, although they didn't start out that way.
  • Cassandra Truth: Jiang Cheng knew early on that "Mo Xuanyu" is actually Wei Wuxian. However, no one believes him as Zidian failed to expel Wei Wuxian's soul, and the latter's fear of dogs doesn't count as sound evidence to prove his identity.
  • Character Development: One of Jiang Cheng's greatest conflicts is trying to let go of the past. While too much had happened at once for him to properly process everything on his own, he allowed his trauma to both strengthen and consume him in the thirteen years that passed, and it's obvious that it caused his personality and outlook to turn bitter. After receiving a Humble Pie and some much-needed emotional catharsis in the finale, Jiang Cheng's decision to stop holding Wei Wuxian to old debts and promises, not tell Wei Wuxian the Awful Truth and let him be happy with Lan Wangji, as well as acknowledge that their paths have now diverged, hints that he's learning to move on.
  • Character Tics: He has an automatic response every time he sees Wei Wuxian being his troublesome self. In the donghua and manhua, he facepalms; while in the Live-Action Adaptation, he rolls his eyes.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: When they were younger, Jiang Cheng tried to keep Wei Wuxian in check whenever the latter would be his mischievous and outspoken self and would remind him to be on his best behavior.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • He was on the receiving end of this at the hands of the Wen Sect. The whip scar on his chest is a reminder of that time.
    • For the past thirteen years, Jiang Cheng hunted, tortured, and also likely have killed any demonic cultivator he would encounter, on the charges that they practiced The Dark Arts, or they may be a reincarnation of Wei Wuxian, or both.
  • Combat Pragmatist: No matter the situation, Jiang Cheng doesn't care about fighting fairly. For example, when Jin Guangyao tried to attack him with Magic Music, Jiang Cheng drowned out the sound by scratching two swords together.
  • The Comically Serious: Especially after the fall of Lotus Pier, Jiang Cheng spends most of his time dour and angry. So it's really funny to see him react to Wei Wuxian's antics and trouble-making.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: He didn't take it well when Wei Wuxian rescued him after the Wen Sect took him as their prisoner, even outright asking the latter "Why did you save me?" in a despairing tone. This is because by the time he was saved, his golden core had already been destroyed and Jiang Cheng's pride wouldn't allow him to live the rest of his life as a powerless muggle.
  • Compressed Hair: He's never seen with his hair down; but given that cutting one's own hair is a sign of dishonor in ancient China, it's likely that Jiang Cheng's topknot holds a lot of hair. The live-action adaptation does feature him with most of his hair down, and he's as long-haired as the rest of the cast.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: His position as the protector of the Jiang Sect and the actions Wei Wuxian took in the aftermath of the Sunshot Campaign soon placed Jiang Cheng in the difficult spot of keeping both his family and his sect safe. However, the influence of the other clans, as well as the difference between his and Wei Wuxian's stances on protecting the Wen refugees, caused him to eventually disown Wei Wuxian.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: The non-romantic type. Due to his experiences, Jiang Cheng Hates Being Alone even though he doesn't show it, and still holds on to a promise that Wei Wuxian gave him years ago of being by his side. Consequently, Jiang Cheng doesn't react kindly to anything or anyone that would cause Wei Wuxian to break that promise, no matter the reason behind it.
    • While he initially held neither love nor hate for the refugees that Wei Wuxian sheltered, there are hints that he grew to resent them because Wei Wuxian left the Jiang Sect to protect them. However, over the years that passed, he convinced himself that he also loathed them because they shared the same family name of the people responsible for burning down Lotus Pier.
    • The first few chapters of the novel make it clear as day that Jiang Cheng doesn't like Lan Wangji, who returns the sentiment. While one reason is because he also holds Lan Wangji responsible for the destruction of his home, another possible reason is that he fears that Lan Wangji has become someone Wei Wuxian treasures more than he does Jiang Cheng.
  • Crossing the Burnt Bridge: Jiang Cheng had committed many wrongdoings against Wei Wuxian both then and now, combined with the fact that he decided to stand against him than with him many times over. This contributed to the gradual deterioration and, eventually, the destruction of their friendship, yet Jiang Cheng continues to believe that he can still hold Wei Wuxian to an old promise that he made about serving him. It takes him until the finale to realize that said promise has become no more than a pipe dream and why it will never become a reality.
  • Cuteness Proximity: In The Untamed, he can't stop himself from cooing over a rabbit when he gets the chance to hold one.

    D-I 
  • Deadpan Snarker: Emphasis on both, with a touch of bitterness on the side.
  • Death Glare: He can give a very mean look, and the narration even states that his glare gives off the impression that he's ready to spit out a sword and stab someone.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype:
    • Of The Rival trope. Jiang Cheng felt inferior to Wei Wuxian all his life, and that played a part in why he eventually turned against him. As Wen Ning had stated, Jiang Cheng is a very driven person and strives to never be second to anyone else. While his determination drove him to become a skilled cultivator and make a name for himself when he became a sect leader, his need to always prove himself — alongside his resentment of Wei Wuxian — did a number on him both mentally and emotionally.
    • Of the character who harbors a hatred for the protagonist. Jiang Cheng's reasons for hating Wei Wuxian in the present run beyond "just because". Rather than bear a one-dimensional resentment for Wei Wuxian, Jiang Cheng has reasons in loads, and had been left to marinate in that resentment for thirteen long years. Though he and his martial brother never really reconcile, he learns to let go of his past hatred by the end of the story.
  • Demoted to Extra: Downplayed. He still plays an important plot in the present time, albeit not as prominently as he did in the flashbacks. This is reflected by him being almost front-and-center with Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji in the advertisements and having a proper appearance in the first rendition of the donghua's opening sequence — both of which are no longer the case in the second season.
  • Desecrating the Dead: In the novel, he showed only hatred towards Wang Lingjiao's corpse by pushing the leg stool further down her throat and forced Wen Chao's corpse to kneel in front of the Jiang ancestral hall.
  • Despair Event Horizon: He briefly crossed this, along with nearly going into Sanity Slippage, after losing his parents, being tortured, and having his golden core melted off shortly after, although Wei Wuxian pulled him out of it when he told him that his golden core can be restored.
  • The Determinator: His greatest strength. Jiang Cheng manages against overwhelming odds through sheer force of will.
  • Didn't Think This Through: There are times when Jiang Cheng can let his emotions cloud his judgement, causing him to act or speak thoughtlessly.
    • Nearly killing Wei Wuxian out of grief is one good example, and running back to Lotus Pier after the Wen Sect occupied it is another one; although in the latter case, the ending reveals that it wasn't an act of desperate impulsion.
    • There's also how he never takes into account that the way he approaches Wei Wuxian after the latter's resurrection is giving Wei Wuxian more reason to stay away from rather than go back to Lotus Pier. By the time he realizes his mistake, it's already too little too late.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: He despises receiving assistance or sympathy from other people, even from his own family.
  • Double Standard: His sister leaves the Jiang Sect after falling in love with a skilled cultivator from another sect and marrying him? While he's a bit sad about it, he's nevertheless happy for her and is completely okay with her decision. When Wei Wuxian does the same thing, however, Jiang Cheng doesn't take it well, to say the least. Granted, things were several times more complicated when it came to Wei Wuxian's situation since he was no longer part of the Jiang Sect by then, and the circumstances surrounding both cases are entirely different from the other, but the difference in his reactions is still jarring.
  • Dramatic Irony: It's part of Jiang Cheng's personal storyline, and perfectly describes his Bittersweet Ending. In the past, he lost his home and most of his family but he still had Wei Wuxian by his side. Then in the present, while he doesn't lose either a second time, Wei Wuxian had already long left him (and he himself drove Wei Wuxian further away) and the finale seals in that he's not coming back.
  • The Dreaded:
    • In his first chronological mention in-story, a group of cultivators discuss the intimidating nature of the Jiang Sect and its domineering leader.
      Cultivator: No matter which clan you choose to offend, you shouldn't offend the Jiang clan, and no matter which person you choose to offend, you shouldn't offend Jiang Cheng.
    • He is also said to have scared off a few visitors from Lotus Pier before due to his tendency to torture any demonic cultivator he encounters. Jin Ling confirms that this is something he really does.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: While the novel only briefly shows him being stern with his disciples, The Untamed shows that when it comes to training them, he's as harsh as his mother.
  • Dual Wielding: He wields Zidian in his left hand, and Sandu in his right. While he usually alternates between the two, sometimes he will use them at the same time.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: His reaction whenever Wei Wuxian's pranks or jokes go overboard.
    • When they got trapped in a cave, Wei Wuxian — who got branded with hot iron a while ago — joked to Jiang Cheng that they have cooked meat if they ever get hungry, to which Jiang Cheng responded by telling him he would like to sew his mouth shut.
    • An audio drama extra showed that back then, Wei Wuxian played dead by faking a hemorrhage, causing Jiang Cheng to panic and break down. When Wei Wuxian revealed that it was just a prank, Jiang Cheng got pissed and started pummeling him.
  • Entitled to Have You: When it comes to Wei Wuxian. Jiang Cheng didn't always think like this, but things changed after Wei Wuxian made a certain promise to him and Jiang Cheng became sect leader. Simply put, Jiang Cheng believes that Wei Wuxian's loyalty and attention should be directed only to the Jiang Sect. If Wei Wuxian so much as tries to prioritize anything or anyone outside his sect, Jiang Cheng will perceive it as an act of abandonment and betrayal.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: From his point of view, Jiang Cheng was abandoned by his friend on a whim, and said friend — even if unintentionally — caused great controversy for him politically, which drew negative attention to his efforts to rebuild his Sect, and he was eventually pressed to disown him (although this was at Wei Wuxian's suggestion to announce that he cut ties with the Jiang Sect). Later, Wei Wuxian kills Jin Zixuan, their sister's husband, and Jiang Yanli dies taking a blade meant for Wei Wuxian. Jiang Cheng sees that first abandonment as the ultimate betrayal.
  • Everyone Has Standards: According to the author, he never told anyone of Wei Wuxian's fear of dogs nor did he use said fear against him in the First Siege. However, the author stated that this was mainly because he knew people wouldn't believe him and think he was just being crazy, and because he personally thought it was too cheap of a tactic to execute. However, in the present time he uses a dog when he confronts Wei Wuxian in private, and isn't above mocking him for his phobia.
  • The Evil Prince: Played with. While Jiang Cheng is not evil, just because his sect is powerful doesn't automatically mean that it's beloved and well-respected. If the hints are anything to go by, he, and the Jiang Sect by extension, is feared. According to an innkeeper, the residents of Yunmeng do not approach the Jiang Sect for assistance because even if they did, they would be rebuffed unless the matter involved deaths due to supernatural occurrences — which means they would have to wait for a minor problem to escalate to fatal degrees until the Jiang Sect would finally be willing to help and intervene. And during night-hunts, any cultivator — rogue or otherwise — are wary of crossing his path under any circumstances.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change:
    • After taking over as the leader of the Jiang Sect, Jiang Cheng started braiding his hair in a manner similar to his father's.
    • In the live-action series, he had a right sidebang in his younger years. This went away after he succeeded his father as sect leader.
  • Expy: Jiang Cheng is essentially a more embittered version of Liu Qingge. Both are the resident Straight Man, have tough personalities and aren't good with expressing themselves without coming across as mean (intentionally or otherwise), are close friends of the protagonist, and both dislike the protagonist's love interest. The difference is that Liu Qingge stayed as Shen Yuan's most loyal friend, whereas Jiang Cheng and Wei Wuxian fell out and are now irreconcilable.
  • Feet-First Introduction: This is how he makes his first appearance in the donghua, followed by him Emerging from the Shadows.
  • Feuding Families: The Wens destroyed his home, killed his entire clan except for him and his siblings, then tortured him and destroyed his golden core. As such, Jiang Cheng wanted all the Wens dead to the point that he'll condone any immoral or forbidden means if it means their annihilation. He also disapproved of Wei Wuxian sheltering some Wen survivors even though they were the elderly, women, and children — generally, those who never participated in the massacre of Lotus Pier or fought in the Sunshot Campaign. He even followed through with leading a siege that got them killed and their corpses unceremoniously dumped in a pool of blood.
  • Flaw Exploitation: The Jins, as well as most of the other clans, prey on his inferiority complex and his need to prove himself multiple times within the story.
  • Foil: To Lan Wangji.
    • While Lan Wangji and Lan Xichen never had any issues involving competing with the other, Jiang Cheng's feelings of inferiority at being touted as Always Second Best to his brother figure affected his self-worth and drove him to be extremely competitive.
    • When faced with conflict, Lan Wangji doesn't hesitate to break the rules in pursuit of doing the right thing, while Jiang Cheng avoids doing such to not get in trouble with the law.
    • While the common folk see Lan Wangji as a kind and heroic cultivator who could be relied on when anything bad happens, they fear Jiang Cheng, avoid him as much as possible and make sure to never provoke him under any circumstances.
    • Jiang Cheng — despite his efforts — is not a kid person, whereas Lan Wangji is a Friend to All Children. However, they both deeply cherish the child that they helped take care of. Even then, the opposing personalities of their charges reflect the difference in how they raised them.
    • Most importantly, they contrast each other in the development of their relationship with Wei Wuxian; throughout the story, Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji grow closer while Jiang Cheng and Wei Wuxian fall out. Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji make it clear that they want to be with each other without feeling indebted in any way, which is what strengthens their relationship. On the other hand, the concept of guilt and debts — whether it's the owing or paying thereof — has plagued Wei Wuxian's relationship with Jiang Cheng for so long that it causes them to part ways for good.
  • Foreshadowing: It's subtle, but the novel reveals early on that there's more than meets the eye in Jiang Cheng's grudge against Wei Wuxian when he calls out the latter on his forgetfulness by particularly mentioning that it's just like him to forget the promises he made.
  • Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: Wei Wuxian doesn't hate Jiang Cheng for leading the siege against him in the past and can see why he despises him now. However, it doesn't mean he's not pained and aggrieved by what happened, and Jiang Cheng's actions unquestionably drove a permanent wedge in their relationship.
  • For Want of a Nail: Wei Wuxian founding demonic cultivation could be traced back to when he looked for Jiang Cheng after the latter got captured by the Wens.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: Among the non-villainous characters of Mo Dao Zu Shi, Jiang Cheng is the poster boy for the trope. There is no doubt that he didn't have a pleasant childhood and he suffered plenty of losses, but while it's easy to see why it left him embittered, it doesn't necessarily mean that he is in the right whenever he acts on his hatred and prejudices, and the finale has his pride and conscience suffer the consequences for it. However, unlike many others, he is given a second chance to do right this time around.
  • Friendless Background: Politically speaking. Even before his relationship with Wei Wuxian fell apart, Jiang Cheng has always been a bit of a lone wolf among the Four Great Sects, as the other three were more closely allied via the Venerated Triad. The plot post-Time Skip more or less establishes that in spite of Jiang Cheng's current stature in the cultivation world's politics, he is someone who doesn't have any open enemies but doesn't have any close allies either.
  • Friend Versus Lover:
    • The novel establishes early on that the enmity between Jiang Cheng and Lan Wangji is mutual, and that their dislike for each other involves Wei Wuxian in some capacity. Their reactions and intentions when they find out Wei Wuxian is Back from the Dead also contrast, with Lan Wangji staying by Wei Wuxian's side and Jiang Cheng attacking him. Generally, they're also both Foils to each other.
    • Jiang Cheng is one of the most important people in Wei Wuxian's life and he regards Wei Wuxian in the same manner (even if he won't admit it), thus he took to heart Wei Wuxian's promise of serving by his side when he succeeds as the Jiang Sect leader. When he confronts Wei Wuxian over this in the final arc, Wei Wuxian can only apologize as certain choices (such as giving up his golden core, and leaving the Jiang Sect some time after he became the Yiling Patriarch) made it impossible for him to keep his promise. There's also the fact that by the time the confrontation happened, Wei Wuxian had already resolved to be by Lan Wangji's side as his cultivation partner.
  • Fury-Fueled Foolishness: Whenever Jiang Cheng's anger gets the better of him, neither his actions nor his words tend to be sensible or helpful, both to himself and to others. In the end, Jiang Cheng realizes how much his rage has cost him more than it has benefited him.
  • Generation Xerox:
    • Especially in the present time where he's lost a lot of his soft edges, Jiang Cheng almost entirely resembles his mother, though this has been evident enough since childhood.
    • Like his father, he inherits a sect with a friend serving as his right hand, before said friend eventually leaves him for love. However, while Wei Changze and Cangse Sanren remained on good terms with Jiang Fengmian, Wei Wuxian's friendship with Jiang Cheng dissolved for convoluted reasons before the two ultimately distance themselves from each other at the story's end. And that's not to say anything about Lan Wangji's blatant disdain for him.
    • Jin Ling is this to him — both are scornful due to insecurities and traumatic events that involve Wei Wuxian and the deaths of their families, both are forced prematurely as teenagers into leadership positions, both learn to let go of their blame, and Jiang Cheng even attempts to hand off Zidian to Jin Ling the same way his mother once did to him.
  • Get Out!: He tells Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji to leave Lotus Pier when he sees them praying in the Jiang ancestral hall.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: This almost happens to Jiang Cheng in the penultimate arc. For years, Jiang Cheng held firmly onto his memories of his life and of Wei Wuxian and his perceptions of those memories, and has been using his hatred as a drive to achieve and live on. When it all gets turned on its head by Wen Ning after he reveals that his "repaired" golden core was originally Wei Wuxian's, Jiang Cheng has a nervous breakdown as almost the entire foundation he built himself on has immediately shattered from the truth. He calms down after a while, but he's still clearly affected from The Reveal.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Jiang Cheng has a severe Inferiority Superiority Complex thanks in no small part to being constantly compared to Wei Wuxian. Any time he feels envious about something or someone, it almost always involves Wei Wuxian in some way.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: He inherits this from his mother, and he's rather notorious for it.
  • Hates Being Alone: Hinted at. After losing his parents at the most unexpected circumstances and at a young age, it's understandable if Jiang Cheng is left with abandonment issues and is afraid of losing what's left of his family. There are also implications that he sees Wei Wuxian leaving his side as the worst betrayal, as evidenced in his breakdown in the final arc which ends with him tearfully reminding Wei Wuxian of their promise to become the Twin Prides of Yunmeng.
  • His Own Worst Enemy: Jiang Cheng's flaws and how he acts on them are what hinders him from improving as a person, resolving his conflicts, making peace with himself, and coming to terms with his past.
  • Horrible Judge of Character:
  • Howl of Sorrow: And rage, despair, and all other similar emotions — all of which he lets out after learning that he can unsheathe Suibian and the reason behind it.
  • Humble Pie: To say that the events of the last two arcs had destroyed Jiang Cheng's pride and shook his beliefs is a massive understatement. However, it does allow him to finally start reflecting on his wrongdoings and rework on some of his flaws.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Despite ragging on Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji for their lack of morals or manners, Jiang Cheng himself is — while knowledgeable of social graces — someone who's more easily defined by his short temper and sharp words.
    • For all his accusations of Wei Wuxian being someone who breaks or neglects his promises, Jiang Cheng is the one who's actually guilty of this. When they were children, Jiang Cheng promised that he would protect Wei Wuxian from dogs. Yet after the Time Skip, he deliberately terrifies Wei Wuxian with a dog while interrogating him, and even sneers at the latter's fear. By contrast, Wei Wuxian kept his promise of never telling anyone else why he ran off in the middle of the night and climbed up a tree. When he shows said tree to Lan Wangji, he claims that he climbed it just because.
    • Even when he's aggressively confronting someone in an attempt to pick a fight with them, he gets mad when they get fed up and fight back against him.
    • For his lamentations about how he feels that his father doesn't appreciate him because he doesn't embody the Jaing Sect's values, he's never seen or mentioned making an effort to change that, and it doesn't help that the narrative shows him, through his actions after the Sunshot Campaign, deciding to eschew from the Jiang Sect's teachings to follow his mother's instead.
    • He holds Wei Wuxian in contempt for his family's death. Yet Jiang Cheng completely disregards the fact that he willingly took part in killing the innocent Wen survivors, who Wei Wuxian also saw as family.
    • In spite of his (albeit justified) grief about being orphaned, in his indiscriminate grief and desire for vengeance, he orphaned another innocent child simply because the child's family was of the Wen Sect. However, he has zero idea that the toddler that clung to his leg once actually survived and grew up under the Lan Sect's care.
    • Jiang Cheng is upset with Wei Wuxian for (allegedly) forgetting his promise to stay by each his side, and accuses him of having no sense of loyalty. However, he forgets the part where a promise can only be kept if both sides trust each other, and as Jin Guangyao points out in the finale, Jiang Cheng failed to trust Wei Wuxian enough, or worse, at all.
      • Adding to the above, while he gets extremely upset when he feels that the debts others owe him are left unpaid, he himself is reluctant to fulfill the debts that he owes others.
    • He calls out Wei Wuxian for never telling him about the golden core transplant, yet he never told Wei Wuxian how he got captured by the Wen Sect and resolves to keep the truth to himself in the finale. However, this example is less about him being hypocritical and more about him and Wei Wuxian being Not So Different when it comes to protecting each other.
  • If I Can't Have You...: The platonic version; but Jiang Cheng acts this way when it comes to Wei Wuxian. Jiang Cheng refuses to accept the prospect of Wei Wuxian being content with a life outside the Jiang Sect, whether he's on his own or with other people. It's partly because of his abandonment issues (see Crazy Jealous Guy and Hates Being Alone), but it's also because he gets reminded that in spite of everything that happened to them both, Wei Wuxian is still capable of achieving happiness, while Jiang Cheng has been nothing but miserable for the past thirteen years. To Jiang Cheng, this is yet another loss in his self-imposed competition against Wei Wuxian.
  • Ignored Epiphany: While it's very subtle, it is there. When he raged at Wei Wuxian for the destruction of his home and the death of his parents, the novel goes into detail about how he knew deep down that Wei Wuxian wasn't really at fault since the Wen Sect would have attacked Lotus Pier one way or another and Wei Wuxian's defiance of their authority was simply their excuse. However, he disregarded the thought and continued to hold Wei Wuxian accountable for it. It's implied that this wasn't the only time he didn't listen to his conscience telling him that it was wrong to blame Wei Wuxian for most of the bad things that happened in his life, since his pride wouldn't allow him to have any self-reflection.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: Wei Wuxian learns in the final arc that Jiang Cheng now knows about the golden core transfer, and asks Lan Wangji if Wen Ning told them. When Lan Wangji confirms this, Wei Wuxian sighs in frustration since he told Wen Ning to never tell anyone about it. The problem is, Jiang Cheng can hear every word they're saying, and reacts in a cross manner.
  • Ineffectual Death Threat: Downplayed; Jiang Cheng would often threaten Jin Ling with how he would either break his legs, give him a lashing, or disown him if he acts out of line; but Jin Ling states that they're purely empty threats. The worst thing that he's ever seen doing is either hit his nephew on the head or slam him on the ground, but even then it takes a lot to get him to do that.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: He cries the most among all the characters in the story; although each time he sheds tears is justified, given that it involves either losing his family or coming to terms with the sacrifices his former friend had made.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: He was always overshadowed by Wei Wuxian, which fed his insecurities and caused him to lash out.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Played for Laughs in the audio drama, where he doesn't realize how his Brutal Honesty towards the last three women he's been set up to meet with is the reason why he's still single.
  • Ironic Name: His family name stands for "river" and his birth name means "clear". His complete name would then translate to "clear river", which is usually associated with an emotionally and mentally peaceful state — and this doesn't describe someone like Jiang Cheng.
  • Irony:
    • As Jiang Cheng sullenly puts it, he may be the heir of the Jiang Sect, but he doesn't live up to his sect's ideals in the slightest. Some symbolism proves this: the lotus is one of the most recognizable symbols of Buddhism, but the "three poisons" or sandu — a concept that is the very antithesis of everything Buddhism teaches — is something that Jiang Cheng's character encompasses from head to toe. Jiang Cheng did manage to achieve a feat "beyond the impossible", mainly rebuild a sect that was burned to cinders and nearly annihilated to the last man. But when it comes to the moral implications behind the motto, since its complete meaning is to "do what's right against all odds", Jiang Cheng still clearly falls short.
    • In the past, he would often tell Wei Wuxian to not bother Lan Wangji, since there's no point in attempting to befriend someone who hates him. However, while Lan Wangji was often irritated by Wei Wuxian, he never hated the man and was merely struggling with breaking out of his shell. It's actually Jiang Cheng himself who becomes the person Lan Wangji hates to the core, no pun intended.
  • It's All About Me: While he's not devoid of noble traits, Jiang Cheng can still often be short-sighted and selfish. For example, while he cares for Wei Wuxian deep down and has done selfless acts of brotherly love for him before, there are plenty of times when he acts on the belief that Wei Wuxian's life revolves around his own. It's implied that he got this mindset from his mother, who believed that since the Jiang family took Wei Wuxian in, him doing everything for them, spending his whole life in their service, and acting as their (mostly) figurative whipping boy is the least he can do as repayment. In the final arc, Jiang Cheng starts to get rid of said mindset after he's faced with some harsh facts that he can no longer forget or deny. When he tells Jin Ling that they should let everyone go back to where they wish to go, it's his way of finally acknowledging that Wei Wuxian has a life of his own and that he will stop getting in the way of that.
  • It's Personal: He goes out of his way to desecrate Wang Lingjiao and Wen Chao's corpses because they were the reason his parents were dead and Lotus Pier was burned down. He even takes sadistic glee in watching Wen Chao cower. He also makes a bee-line for Wen Zhuliu not only because Wei Wuxian was in range of him, but also likely to get payback at the man who destroyed his golden core.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Jiang Cheng resents Wei Wuxian and antagonizes him whenever they meet; but the finale confirms that while part of him blames Wei Wuxian for the death of his family, what he's truly most upset about was Wei Wuxian leaving him for other people. However, his knowledge about Wei Wuxian's sacrifice of his golden core causes Jiang Cheng to reevaluate several of his opinions about Wei Wuxian. In the end, he decides not to tie him down with their past anymore and lets him live his new life with Lan Wangji, if Jiang Cheng's choice to not tell Wei Wuxian of his own sacrifice is any indication.
  • I Want My Mommy!: Played dead seriously. Jiang Cheng is dragged away from Lotus Pier by Wei Wuxian after seeing his parents' corpses being treated disrespectfully by the Wens. Soon enough, has a mental breakdown as he lashes out at Wei Wuxian and blames him for, in his eyes, incurring the Wens' wrath and causing them to target Lotus Pier. Once he manages to calm down a bit, he breaks down into tears as he screams that he wants his parents.
  • I Will Wait for You:
    • When Wen Chao threw Wei Wuxian into the Burial Mounds, Jiang Cheng searched for him tirelessly. During the months he was missing, Jiang Cheng never lost the hope that his martial brother would return. He carried Wei Wuxian's sword with him everywhere, so he could give it to him as soon as they reunited.
    • A less friendly take on the trope happens later. Despite Wei Wuxian's death in the First Siege, Jiang Cheng refused to accept that he's truly gone. This is part of why he kept Chenqing in pristine condition, believing that Wei Wuxian would immediately come for it when he returned. However, while waiting Jiang Cheng hunted and tortured several demonic cultivators; and although it was highly unlikely that he planned to kill Wei Wuxian again, he definitely planned to exact some form of retribution.

    J-P 
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • In the past, he would occasionally deliver harsh truths to Wei Wuxian, particularly about the Fair Weather Friend mindset of the other cultivation clans and how doing heroic deeds can invite more troubles than rewards in a world that's unjust.
      Jiang Cheng: When you're standing on their side, you're the bizarre genius, the miraculous hero, the force of the rebellion, the flower that blooms alone. But the second your voice differs from theirs, you've lost your mind, you've ignored morality, you've walked the crooked path. You think you can be immune to all those condemnations as you stay outside of the world and do whatever you want?
    • As mocking, cruel, and condescending he is with how he says it, he's not exactly wrong in pointing out that Wei Wuxian's current relationship with Lan Wangji doesn't qualify as simply a platonic friendship.
    • While Wei Wuxian had sympathetic reasons for withholding the truth about the golden core transplant from Jiang Cheng, Jiang Cheng also has a good reason to be angry about being kept in the dark the entire time.
  • Jerkass Realization: Jiang Cheng goes through this thrice near the finale, since by then everything he thought to be true is turned over its head and he's forced to fully comprehend that he wasn't the stalwart and supportive brother and friend he thought he was (or used to be) to Wei Wuxian — and this perception was part of why he saw most of Wei Wuxian's actions as a betrayal.
    • The first is after Wen Ning tells him about the golden core transfer, which hits him so bad that he leaves the scene in complete emotional turmoil.
    • The second is when a half-sarcastic comment from Wei Wuxian has Jiang Cheng flinch and get distracted while he's still in the middle of an altercation with the Big Bad.
      Jin Guangyao: (to Wei Wuxian) You see? Your shidi didn't come looking for you. He doesn't even want to spare you a single glance.
      Wei Wuxian: (to the Big Bad) Now those are strange words. It's not the first day Sect Leader Jiang treats me like this. Do I need you to keep on reminding me?
    • Jiang Cheng is left at a loss for words when the main villain reminds him in detail why he's also partly responsible for Wei Wuxian's ruination, and Jiang Cheng isn't able to make a proper counterargument.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jiang Cheng is domineering, sharp-tongued, and hot-tempered. However, there's no doubt that he has a compassionate side, even if it's reserved for his family and his family only.
  • Joke and Receive:
    • More like Mock and Receive. When Jiang Cheng wonders why Lan Wangji would go out of his way to protect Wei Wuxian despite what he had done, he guesses that it may only be because Lan Wangji has some "familiarity" with Mo Xuanyu, although he means it as a taunt rather than a legitimate accusation. Then later on, to Jiang Cheng's displeasure, Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji do get closer and closer and end up tying the knot.
    • There's the Snipe and Receive example in The Untamed, when he tells Wei Wuxian that if he likes spending time with Lan Wangji so much, he should just stay in the Cloud Recesses and not come back to Lotus Pier anymore. Cut to twenty-or-so years later, that more or less becomes the case, especially after he repeats his words with a more venomous and hateful tone.
  • Karma Houdini: Zigzagged. He's not the Big Bad and is also the victim of many tragic circumstances. However, he also serves the role of an antagonist, as his personal issues have also driven him to commit several reprehensible deeds, whether they were done under duress or not. Even then, the narrative shows that everyone's actions (or lack thereof) have consequences, whether they're done with good or ill intentions. Jiang Cheng's final fate is encompassed by the sayings, "What goes around, comes around.", "You've made your bed, now lie in it." and "You win some, you lose some."
    • Jiang Cheng is almost Wei Wuxian's equal in not having anything easy in his life. However, he isn't entirely faultless for many of the bad things that happened in the story, yet he doesn't get any legal comeuppance for them. On the other hand, he is eventually delivered the crushing knowledge of how he's the one who's been biting the hand that fed him rather than the other way around, which causes his conscience to suffer the full weight of all the actions he committed out of his misguided spite, envy, hatred and revenge.
    • Overall: he's alive, he restored his sect and has long secured his political power, and he still has his nephew. But while he and Wei Wuxian have settled some tensions in their relationship, they don't reconcile and remain distant with each other, and there are the horrible truths that he would now have to live with for the rest of his life. To Jiang Cheng's credit, he undergoes some Character Development afterwards; although his actions still drove Wei Wuxian away for good.
  • Kick the Dog: He has a bad habit of lashing out when he's angry, saying and doing hurtful things. Wei Wuxian is a frequent target of his rages.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Adding to his tendency to lash out by rubbing salt in both old and new wounds, he also doesn't know when to stop.
  • Kinslaying Is a Special Kind of Evil: Downplayed; while Jiang Cheng isn't a villain by any stretch, he's condemned by the narrative for his role in Wei Wuxian's death, though the circumstances around it remain murky. In-Universe, this is inverted as he's praised for being able to set aside his personal feelings about Wei Wuxian and kill him for the "greater good".
  • Know When to Fold 'Em:
    • His instincts tend to choose fight over flight more often than not, but he knows when he's not going to win in a confrontation and would rather walk away and save his energy. However, he can forgo this thinking once he's angered enough that he starts ignoring the possible consequences of his actions.
    • It's easy to miss upon the first reading, but a lot of his anger towards Wei Wuxian after the Time Skip is actually attributed to his feelings of abandonment and his belief that Wei Wuxian didn't care about their promise, and he's determined to see that Wei Wuxian upholds it. But when he confronts Wei Wuxian once and for all over everything, he gradually realizes and acknowledges that Wei Wuxian had much more on his plate than he let on, that he himself shares a lot of blame for what happened, and that they have drifted too far apart to go back to being the tight-knit friends they once were. He gives up on the promise shortly after the realization and lets Wei Wuxian walk away with Lan Wangji, even if it means coming to terms with the fact that their friendship is truly no more.
  • Lack of Empathy: Downplayed. Jiang Cheng is capable of empathy, but his pride also often leads him to believe that he's someone who's only been wronged but has never done any wrong, and it also makes him it difficult for him to sympathize with or even understand anyone else's plights but his own. For example, he resents Wei Wuxian for all the times he believed his brother wronged him, without ever stopping once to consider Wei Wuxian's situation by either hearing him out or seeing things from his point of view. He also never contemplated on how he himself might have also wronged Wei Wuxian, and he often brings up how much Wei Wuxian owes him or his sect.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: In The Untamed, he has a very defined jawline along with sharp cheekbones. Although the "justice" part is downplayed, as he's often at odds with the protagonist and is a coldly pragmatic character.
  • Last of His Kind: Jiang Cheng is the last member of the Jiang family, his nephew notwithstanding.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: Jiang Cheng is almost the spitting image of his mother, especially in terms of personality.
  • Lineage Comes from the Father: His statement about how Jin Guangyao can never rise above his origins no matter the effort he puts in hints that Jiang Cheng believes — or at least is aware of how society believes — that someone's blood relation defines their status and worth in life, regardless of their skill or character. While he never abused Wei Wuxian because of this trope, he still felt insecure about being surpassed by someone who many had mocked as a mere servant's son.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: For most of the book, he did not know that not only did he truly lose his golden core in the past, but the current core in his body was previously Wei Wuxian's, which was excised by Wen Qing. However, if he had known, then Jiang Cheng would have been honor-bound to protect Wei Wuxian and the Wen siblings. Wei Wuxian knew this, but he also knew that it would have overtaxed the Jiang Sect in the current political climate. This, combined with his understanding of Jiang Cheng's character, played into his decision to keep it secret from Jiang Cheng.
  • Lonely at the Top: Post-Time Skip. Though he's risen to one of the tops of the cultivational world and his sect is now powerful enough to be feared by commoners, everyone who cares about him, save for his nephew, is dead. And in the end, he and Wei Wuxian decide that they're better off apart than together, leaving him alone once more.
  • Love Cannot Overcome: The non-villainous variant.
    • While Jiang Cheng sincerely regarded Wei Wuxian as family, any of the love he had for him wasn't enough for him to take a chance and defend Wei Wuxian from the other sects in the aftermath of the Sunshot Campaign. At the time, the Jiang Sect was still rebuilding and he didn't want to risk doing anything that could attract trouble to his sect, and the clans' politics nearly make it impossible for him to have his cake and eat it too. While Wei Wuxian did tell him to not make him part of his problem, Jiang Cheng still chose duty after weighing his options.
    • This also happens in The Untamed when Jiang Cheng's affections for Wen Qing clash with his desire to protect his sect, especially since the Wen Sect has become the pariah of the cultivation world. Wen Qing is also aware that any feelings he may have for her aren't enough to motivate him to save both her and her family, which she lampshades with an Armor-Piercing Question:
      Wen Qing: If I came to you first, would you have rescued A-Ning in spite of everything?
  • Madness Mantra: In The Untamed, he keeps repeating "No..." in a frenzy after Wen Ning tells him who his current golden core originally belonged to. It zigzags between a Little "No" and a Big "NO!".
  • Master of the Mixed Message: Because of both his pride and his wrath, Jiang Cheng can never make clear what his deal with Wei Wuxian is, even when he's directly confronting him. What is clear is that he still envies Wei Wuxian and is angry with him; but Jiang Cheng remains inconsistent in deciding whether he wants Wei Wuxian dead, or simply out of his sight, or back in his life. The finale shows that he wants him back, but throughout the story, Jiang Cheng is never able to convey it properly, which just worsens things between him and Wei Wuxian. The best example is how from past to present, he remains enraged that Wei Wuxian left the Jiang Sect and expresses his intentions to drag Wei Wuxian back to Lotus Pier a few times. Yet in the one rare moment Wei Wuxian is back in Lotus Pier, Jiang Cheng tells him that he's unwelcome and to piss off, both of which are putting it gently. To no one's surprise, they don't make up in the finale; and Jin Ling even calls him out on it.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The "three poisons" in his title and in his sword's name refers to a Buddhist teaching about the three root causes of human suffering: greed, anger, and ignorance/ill will; and the overall plot shows that Jiang Cheng is guilty of all three. Sandu Shengshou even translates to "Master of the Three Poisons".
    • While not related to him, the meaning behind sandu could also apply for the respective Fatal Flaws of the Venerated Triad and what either ruined them or got them killed. Jin Guangyao's flaw is greed, Nie Mingjue's flaw is anger, and Lan Xichen's flaw is ignorance.
  • Misery Builds Character: Almost the entirety of Jiang Cheng's character is based around his losses and his flaws. While Jiang Cheng certainly has his fair share of strengths, the narrative focuses more on how vindictive he is and the reasons as to why, many of which are understandable but not necessarily justifiable.
  • Misery Poker: Jiang Cheng went through plenty of tragic ordeals, but it's because of this that he tends to believe that what anyone else had suffered doesn't matter compared to what he went through. This is part of why he has a distinctive Lack of Empathy and has a hard time understanding that Wei Wuxian may have had his own share of trauma and deep-seated issues. It reflects a lot in their interactions in the present time; he would talk about what he thinks Wei Wuxian put him through, but he never once considers about the situation in reverse.
  • Mistaken for Murderer:
    • Many believed that Jiang Cheng felled Wei Wuxian in the First Siege. When Wen Ning brings this up, Wei Wuxian corrects him by saying that he died from backlash and Jiang Cheng had nothing to do with his death.
    • This is averted in The Untamed, where he's the one who kills Wei Wuxian. This is eventually averted again when Episode 33 reveals that he didn't strike Wei Wuxian dead; Wei Wuxian actually forced Lan Wangji to let him go and allow him to fall down to his death. Then again, this was after Jiang Cheng averted his blade at the last moment. However, Jiang Cheng's reaction to Wei Wuxian falling down to the abyss makes one question if, even though he averted his blade, he was still gunning for Wei Wuxian's death one way or another. It's telling that he flinches and goes silent when Lan Jingyi reminds him of how as far as everyone knows, he's the one who killed Wei Wuxian.
  • Moral Myopia: Most of the things Jiang Cheng does are based on what's best for his sect rather than what's morally correct. Unfortunately, this also causes him to have very little concern for those who are adversely affected by his decisions, and he believes that he can act as judge, jury, and executioner all at once. The worst example comes is that even though he's rightfully angered about how his home and his family suffered a genocide, he had no qualms committing the same atrocity on a group of refugees that he knew wouldn't be able to defend themselves even if they tried. Then when he lashes out at Wei Wuxian in the Guanyin Temple, he goes on about how the latter's selfless actions had cost his own family's lives, yet he continues to speak of the Wen refugees in a demeaning and uncaring manner despite playing a direct hand in killing them.
  • Morton's Fork: Just like his mother, the moment Jiang Cheng starts an argument about something that gets on his nerves, don't expect that he can be reasoned with. Whether the other party stays quiet or says something back, he will continue with the insults, accusations, and passive-aggressive statements for as long as he likes.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Hinted at. Jiang Cheng is both angered and horrified after learning that Wei Wuxian gave him his own golden core, as it sheds a new light on Wei Wuxian's past actions and behavior. Then there's their argument in the Guanyin Temple arc, which ends in him breaking down and crying out, "Why?! What gives you the right to not tell me?!"
  • My Greatest Second Chance: Implied. After the events of the finale, how he handled the political crisis Jin Ling is thrown into hints that Jiang Cheng is making sure to not repeat the mistake he made with Wei Wuxian about not protecting his family by failing to standing up to the other cultivators for the sake of politics. Even with the consideration that his political standing is far more stable now, it still says something that he risked losing face and making enemies out of other sect leaders by openly challenging anyone who tried to usurp Jin Ling's position.
  • Name's the Same: In-Universe; Sandu is the name of his sword as well part of his title (Sandu Shengshou).
  • The Needs of the Many: Jiang Cheng is obviously not happy about things like letting Wen Chao use Mianmian as a sacrifice, or letting Wei Wuxian defect from the Jiang Sect, but as the heir/leader of his sect, he prioritizes the safety of the hundreds of lives at Lotus Pier, even if that means letting other innocents suffer or die. Except Jin Ling. Nobody messes with Jin Ling.
  • Never My Fault: Jiang Cheng is the type of person who automatically lashes out at everyone around him — except for himself — in his moments of distress or misery. While he's not irresponsible in his duties, he's often guilty of Moral Myopia and it's much easier for him to project than to internalize; both of which cause him to have a hard time admitting to his faults and acknowledging whether he played a part in something going awry or if he's blaming the wrong people. As such, he reacts poorly whenever he realizes that he might be the one in the wrong, and would yet again try to deflect the blame on anyone or anything else that isn't him.
  • Nice Mean And In Between: Among Jin Ling's three living uncles, Jiang Cheng could easily be seen as the Mean one as he scolds his nephew often and would threaten to hit him over almost anything. However, he's actually the In-Between, since he sincerely loves his nephew even though he's terrible at showing it. And in contrast to Jin Guangyao, who does care for Jin Ling but is willing to take him hostage to save his own life, Jiang Cheng is willing to sacrifice himself for Jin Ling's safety.
  • Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!: In the audio drama, Wen Ning gets Jiang Cheng to unsheathe Suibian by daring him to do it.
  • No Social Skills: Played with. He can socialize and he had friends before, but he's much better in handling his professional than his personal relationships. There's also how he's not good with either women or children.
  • Not So Above It All:
    • While he tends to scold Wei Wuxian for constantly breaking rules while they were studying in Gusu, Jiang Cheng was just as guilty of drinking alcohol and reading pornography in secret. He would also join Wei Wuxian in causing trouble around Lotus Pier.
    • He's not above trolling Wei Wuxian, such as when he gave Wei Wuxian a bowl of soup... after he ate all the meat in it.
    • In The Untamed, he tries to prank Wei Wuxian, Lan Wangji, and Nie Huaisang by hiding behind a statue and pretending to be its voice.
  • Not So Different:
    • Both he and Wei Wuxian made the ultimate sacrifice for the other: Wei Wuxian gave up his golden core for Jiang Cheng, while Jiang Cheng readily gave himself up to the Wens to save Wei Wuxian even though it spelled his own death. However, both couldn't tell the other about it.
    • While they have their fair share of differences, both Jiang Cheng and Jin Guangyao have similar self-esteem issues that stemmed from trying (and failing) to impress their father or others in general. Consequently, they're also very determined to prove their worth to others, but are always looked down upon either due to their lineage, their age, or how they're overshadowed by someone else (Wei Wuxian for Jiang Cheng, and Jin Zixuan for Jin Guangyao).
    • If there's something he and Nie Huaisang have in common, it's that they won't forgive anyone who has the audacity to kill their family. The difference is that one takes his time in knowing who exactly he should blame, while the other readily points the finger at the easiest target without trying to get all the facts first.
    • He can also be similar to Jin Guangshan in that they're both keen in increasing the political strengths of their sects and won't hesitate to threaten those who challenge their authority. However, those are the only similarities they share, since Jiang Cheng — while not exactly benevolent — is still several times nobler than Jin Guangshan.
  • Not Your Problem: When they were younger, Jiang Cheng often tried to keep Wei Wuxian's Small Steps Hero and Chronic Hero Syndrome tendencies in check, reminding him that his well-meaning heroics would give people an excuse to retaliate against the entire Jiang Sect, and that sometimes, he simply can't save everyone no matter how much he wants to. Jiang Cheng had... very limited success.
  • Older and Wiser: Deconstructed. The Time Skip showed that he has significantly hardened from his experiences and has become a more effective sect leader. However, the hatred and rage he held and nurtured for several years have also badly affected both his mental and his emotional state. When he remarks that Wei Wuxian hasn't changed at all in the thirteen years that passed, Wei Wuxian (who was dead for those thirteen years) chillingly replies that neither has he.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: He has this effect on a few characters, as he's the only person to gain the outright disdain and/or anger of the otherwise patient Lan Wangji and gentle Wen Ning.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Because of his tactlessness and utter lack of filter, more often than not he's likely to make things situation worse than better when he takes charge of a conversation, particularly if the conversation is about personal matters.
  • Papa Wolf: Do not hurt, threaten or insult Jin Ling in Jiang Cheng's presence. This crosses over with Hypocritical Heartwarming as Jiang Cheng constantly chews out and berates his nephew; he just won't let anyone else do it.
  • Parental Neglect: Although Jiang Fengmian loved his son, the two weren't exactly close. Jiang Cheng even recalls that he could count all the times Jiang Fengmian held him on one hand. And for Jiang Fengmian to openly shower Wei Wuxian with affection as well, this was a perfect recipe for Jiang Cheng's later insecurities to bloom.
  • Parental Substitute: To Jin Ling. With almost the rest of Jin Ling's family dead, Jiang Cheng and Jin Guangyao are the only blood family Jin Ling has left who would take care of him. While he's Jin Ling's uncle, Jiang Cheng's behavior towards his nephew is reminiscent to that of an overly strict and protective father.
  • Parents as People: Jiang Cheng is not Jin Ling's father, but besides Jin Guangyao, he's the closest the boy has for one nevertheless. However, even before he took up the task of taking care of his nephew, Jiang Cheng was never good with kids. As a parental figure, he's going in completely blind, with no good precedents to follow from.
  • Parting Words Regret: Jiang Cheng has a habit of doing this before he can stop himself, and said habit widens the rift between him and Wei Wuxian. A good example is when he tells Wei Wuxian that he doesn't want to see him in Lotus Pier again, and in response Wei Wuxian shares the sentiment of never wanting to come back. It's one of the last things he said to Wei Wuxian, and in light of the depth of Jiang Cheng's true feelings for him, it won't be far off to assume that he wished he hadn't said that.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: If he's verbally attacking someone but isn't shouting at them or threatening them, he's using this approach instead.
  • The Perfectionist: Jiang Cheng sets extremely high expectations on himself and easily gets frustrated when he falls even slightly short of them.
  • Perfumigation: Jiang Cheng is not fond of the smell of flowers or perfume, likening them to poisonous fumes.
  • Perpetual Frowner: At present, he's either scowling or glaring daggers, or both. Not that he has any good reason to smile in the first place; and when he is smiling, it's never a good sign.
  • Pet the Dog: After the finale, he and Wei Wuxian are no longer on hostile terms, but they're now strangers to each other. However, Wei Wuxian is able to accompany Jin Ling on some of his night-hunts, hinting that Jiang Cheng didn't specifically forbid his nephew from spending time with his former friend, which is saying something.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: When he catches Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji in the ancestral hall, he starts out berating Wei Wuxian for having the nerve to appear in front of the Jiang ancestors, but he quickly shifts into accusing Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji of dirtying the space with their unnatural relationship. His inner monologue makes it clear he's genuinely shocked and disgusted his former friend might be in love with a man. He also reacts with disgust when a cultivator tells him Mo Xuanyu was kicked out of the Jin Sect due to his homosexuality.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Because he almost always lets his anger direct his words, Jiang Cheng's ability to properly speak out his truest thoughts and feelings without giving off the wrong impression and coming across as hostile is downright atrocious. As a consequence, he always ends up shooting himself in both feet.
  • The Power of Hate: Jiang Cheng uses his rage and hate to fuel his determination. He basically rebuilt his sect and became a powerful cultivator out of sheer spite and refusal to let the Wen clan win. However, clinging onto his rage has clearly taken a huge emotional toll on him and has alienated a lot of people, including Wei Wuxian.
  • Pride: The vast inner strength and will that drives Jiang Cheng is simultaneously his greatest strength and weakness. It allowed him to rebuild his clan, lead it through a war and help raise his nephew at an incredibly young age. It also makes him quick to anger, slow to forgive, blind to reason, emotionally fragile and incredibly insecure.
  • Prince Charmless: The cultivator equivalent of one, but even then, it's played with. He's not a weak sect leader and he's not a tyrant or a slimeball, but he's still far from well-loved because of his temper. There's also his status a bachelor, since the female cultivators came to the verdict that he's undesirable after three disastrous blind dates.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Zigzagged. Jiang Cheng is a Slave to PR and thus does his best to avoid conflict with the other sects, conducts himself in a proper manner, keeps quiet whenever someone's having a disagreement, and acts along with what the majority decide on whether or not he agrees with them. While this made him easy to manipulate when he was younger, Jiang Cheng never went so far as to give empty flattery and blow smoke up people's asses. And in spite of his naivety around politics, his current temper makes it impossible for the other clan leaders to walk all over him since they find him too menacing to approach, let alone throw their weight at.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: For almost all his life, Jiang Cheng held resentment towards Wei Wuxian for being perceived as better than him, and said resentment worsened over the years, even long after he kicked Wei Wuxian out of the Jiang Sect and had attempted to kill him. While it may seem like he finally came out on top after the First Siege, he soon learns that he only has everything that he possesses now because Wei Wuxian made the ultimate sacrifice for him. While he feels tremendous guilt for this, his reaction to The Reveal also shows that his pride was completely shattered and he's stuck with the realization that he was mistaken about everything. If anything, his rant in the Guanyin temple comes across as a desperate (albeit futile) attempt for him to prove himself right, as well as cling onto any pride he has left.

    Q-Z 
  • Reality Ensues: He's an example of how not All Girls Want Bad Boys. Jiang Cheng isn't exactly a bad boy, but his blunt, harsh, and hot-and-cold personality is something that fans tend to find attractive in many fictional characters. But In-Universe, this is a total turn-off for his potential brides, given that each one who met him ends up being offended by his complete lack of tact. Not even his looks, his wealth, or the prestige of his family name could save him from getting blacklisted.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: It's practically a habit of his to deliver this to Wei Wuxian, especially after Wei Wuxian gets brought back to life. It backfires on him big time near the finale when he gets the mother of all Breaking Speeches from both Wen Ning and Jin Guangyao regarding Wei Wuxian.
  • Redemption Equals Affliction: He doesn't get a redemption, per se; while he does express remorse for his actions, it's already too late for him to make amends for what he's done. However, he finally realizes the error of his ways and learns from his mistakes, and makes the long-overdue decision of letting go of his deep-rooted resentment. But to do so, he has to accept that Nothing Is the Same Anymore between him and Wei Wuxianwhich he does, even if he's somewhat reluctant about it.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: In normal circumstances, he comes across as the Blue to Wei Wuxian's Red as he tries to prevent Wei Wuxian from causing mischief and reprimands him whenever he gets in trouble. But in the more dangerous situations, he becomes the Red to Wei Wuxian's Blue, as he easily gives in to his emotions whereas Wei Wuxian tries to keep a clear head and rein in Jiang Cheng's temper.
  • Revenge Before Reason: When it comes to those he has a vendetta against, the last thing Jiang Cheng is likely to do is be rational or spare his targets a second of leniency. While not without reason, most of the time it causes more problems for him and everyone else.
    • After losing his parents and his home, Jiang Cheng became driven to wipe out the Wen Sect (who were responsible), and even encouraged Wei Wuxian's use of The Dark Arts to terrify and weaken their forces. However, his hatred for the Wens didn't go away even after the Sunshot Campaign ended and all that was left were the innocent people who simply happened to be of Wen blood. His feelings for the fallen sect didn't improve a bit after Wei Wuxian left the Jiang Sect to protect them, nor after one of the innocent Wens (inadvertently) killed Jiang Yanli's husband. This culminates in the First Siege, where the Four Great Sects slaughtered what's essentially a group of the elderly and the weak. Basically, his vengeance led him to remorselessly instigate a massacre.
    • His feud with Wei Wuxian runs deep and endures long for various reasons. Even then, he always opts to feed his anger and hatred towards his former friend and refuses to try to hear him out, even when it isn't doing either of them any favors, let alone giving him any semblance of closure.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Zigzagged. He derisively assumes that Lan Wangji is only protective of Wei Wuxian because he's having a secret affair with Mo Xuanyu. The truth is that it's Wei Wuxian, not Mo Xuanyu, who Lan Wangji has feelings for, and the reason he's been protective of him since the night-hunt at Dafan Mountain is because he figured out that Wei Wuxian's soul is in Mo Xuanyu's body.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Jiang Cheng holding on to Chenqing for thirteen years represents his inability to let go of his past and of Wei Wuxian, despite the damage that it has caused (and keeps causing) to them both. Therefore, when he gives it back to Wei Wuxian in the finale and tells him to keep it, it represents his decision to stop shackling both his old friend and himself with their past, as well as his acceptance of how they should now forge separate paths and pursue their individual happiness.
  • Sadist: Jiang Cheng shows a sadistic streak towards anyone he hates. He was pleased rather than horrified at the various brutal ways Wei Wuxian dealt with the Wens; and there's how he inflicted Cold-Blooded Torture on all the demonic cultivators he had captured, when he could have just killed them on sight.
  • Scars Are Forever: He has a scar across his chest that will never fade, as he was struck with a discipline whip when Wen Chao tortured him.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: While pretending to be Mo Xuanyu, Wei Wuxian accuses Jiang Cheng of thinking that he can do whatever he wants just because he's rich, powerful, and a cultivator from a reputable family. The narrative goes to show that Wei Wuxian's accusation is not entirely false.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Jiang Cheng has a tendency of ignoring or overlooking facts that contradict his views or go against what he wants to believe, as well as grossly misinterpret several situations and miss the nuances behind them. This leads to him being an Unreliable Expositor in some moments.
  • Self-Made Man: Played with. Jiang Cheng was already in line to be the next leader of the Jiang Sect even before the events leading to the Sunshot Campaign, so it was to be expected that he would take up the mantle after his father's death. However, the Wens' destruction killed majority of the Jiang Sect and burned almost all of Lotus Pier down, which meant that Jiang Cheng needed to rebuild and revitalize his sect from almost nothing. While there's definitely some diligence and determination on his end, the Jiang Sect was already five of the most prestigious sects in history, and there are a few mentions about Jiang Cheng receiving some support from a few clans when he first became sect leader.
  • Self-Serving Memory: His pride, anger, and Moral Myopia colors his view of most of his experiences. To summarize, had the story been told from his point of view, it would be easy to see Wei Wuxian as the black-hearted villain with Jiang Cheng as the purely Tragic Hero.
  • Shared Family Quirks:
    • It's possible that he got his bad naming sense from his father, which is possibly the only thing that they have in common.
    • Being the younger and male version of his mother aside, he also shares his mother's habit of fiddling with Zidian whenever he's really angry.
  • Shock and Awe: Like his mother, he uses Zidian's lightning to great effect. Jiang Cheng can clear an entire room of cultivators with its lightning alone.
  • Slave to PR: He highly values maintaining his reputation and prioritizes saving face. After all, as a sect leader, Jiang Cheng is expected to always follow the proper decorum; and it would reflect badly on him and his sect if he speaks or acts out of line even when he would be in the right to do so, because politics is implicitly given as much importance as cultivation. However, his inability to protect both his sect and Wei Wuxian is what made it easy for the Jin Sect to turn him against Wei Wuxian, who's a Defector from Decadence.
  • Snarking Thanks: Jiang Cheng gives one after he learned that Wei Wuxian donated his golden core to Jiang Cheng and wanted him to never find out about it.
    Jiang Cheng: (sardonically) I should kneel down and cry in gratitude, shouldn't I?
  • Sore Loser: It comes with being driven and competitive. He tries to be a Graceful Loser, but his upbringing causes him to feel incredibly bitter about his losses or the thought that he's falling even slightly short of someone's expectations. This comes to a head near the finale; while he goes through a lot of emotions after The Reveal from Wen Ning, what finally sets Jiang Cheng off is being told that no matter how hard he tries he will never surpass Wei Wuxian.
  • Sour Outside, Sad Inside: His rage and loathing, which he outwardly shows, hides a broken young man who still hasn't found closure with his family's deaths, with his closest friend, and with himself.
  • Sour Supporter: The lighthearted version. In the past, whenever Wei Wuxian would be having fun either in Lotus Pier or the Cloud Recesses, Jiang Cheng would complain about how Wei Wuxian is being reckless and/or bringing shame to the Jiang Sect... and yet he tags along anyway.
  • Spanner in the Works: By trying to pick a fight with Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji, he caused them to leave Lotus Pier earlier than intended, to which they decide to head to Yunping City... where Jin Guangyao just so happened to be. In short, had Jiang Cheng not acted on his belligerence, our heroes might have arrived at a much later time and the Big Bad would have already gotten away scot-free.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: Jiang Cheng does this to Wen Ning, who is technically undead. Another example is when he insults Wen Ning's family, even after learning why Wei Wuxian sacrificed almost everything to protect them, including leaving the Jiang Sect.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: He mainly takes after his mother, especially personality-wise. The donghua takes this a step further — the design of adult Jiang Cheng's facial features are essentially those of Yu Ziyuan without makeup on and a few sharper edges. However, he also looks a lot like his father, even if in appearance only.
  • Take Me Instead: It's a bit of a habit of his:
    • When the Wen Sect demanded each sect to send twenty disciples for a "re-education camp" (basically an excuse to hold their young masters hostage), including at least one blood member of the clan, Jiang Cheng quickly volunteered so Jiang Yanli doesn't have to go. His parents instantly made it very clear that he was getting volunteered whether he wanted it or not.
    • In the final battle, he offers himself to be used as a hostage in Jin Ling's place. Jin Guangyao knows better than to agree to such an exchange.
    • The last chapters of the novel reveal the reason he got caught by the Wen Sect was that he deliberately drew the Wens' attention to himself, so they wouldn't capture Wei Wuxian.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Jin Guangyao points out that while the other sects act like they don't respect Jiang Cheng, they actually fear and covet his power since he had already managed to achieve so much in his first year after succeeding his father, and he had the backing of another powerful cultivator such as the Yiling Patriarch. This led them to plant the seeds that would lead to the fallout between the two, since according to Jin Guangyao, weakening the Jiang Sect would bring strength to their own. Not that it completely worked; while they succeeded in turning him against Wei Wuxian, Jiang Cheng still managed to rise above the other clans on his own merit.
  • Tears of Remorse: Once he learns about Wei Wuxian giving his golden core to him in The Untamed, Jiang Cheng cries while recalling all the hints pointing to the aforementioned truth.
  • Thicker Than Water:
    • While Wei Wuxian's summoning of Wen Ning and his cynophobia were dead giveaways, their formerly close relationship also contributed to Jiang Cheng figuring out early on who "Mo Xuanyu" really is. Even Wei Wuxian knew there was no way he could fool Jiang Cheng into thinking he got the wrong person.
    • This is subverted, however, when it comes to their relationship after the Time Skip. Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng were close once and they would have done almost anything to protect each other, but things changed for the worse after the Sunshot Campaign, especially since they were on opposite ends of the spectrum of morality vs. pragmatism. He does have moments that show that part of him still cares for Wei Wuxian, but in the end, they were too different to stay by each other's side, politics or no politics.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Lawful. While Jiang Cheng has morals, he has his sect's reputation and well-being to worry about; hence even in times of crisis he won't act unless he's sure he has nothing to lose. He even warned Wei Wuxian that doing the right thing doesn't always end well.
    Jiang Cheng: It's often impossible to save someone, but there are more than thousands of ways to harm someone.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Jiang Cheng's always struggled with anger and envy but over a decade of grief and bitterness took away a lot of his soft edges and redeeming features.
  • Tough Love: He's incredibly strict towards Jin Ling and even threatens physical violence as a disciplinary measure, but Jin Ling states that he's never followed through on said threats and he does treasure his nephew and tries to make sure that Jin Ling can take care of himself.
  • Tragic Dream:
    • The conflict between him and Wei Wuxian runs deep, but Jiang Cheng never forgot about the promise Wei Wuxian made of standing by his side and supporting him. However, the final arc firmly establishes that Wei Wuxian will never be able to fulfill his promise, and Jiang Cheng knows this all too well. From a Certain Point of View, however, Wei Wuxian did fulfill his promise, just not in the way Jiang Cheng wanted.
    • He literally has one in The Untamed; as he was regaining his golden core, he has a dream where his family life was far more functional and joyful. His parents were happy in their marriage, they showered their children with love and actually treated Wei Wuxian like a son.
  • Tragic Keepsake:
    • Zidian is one of the last things Jiang Cheng has left of his mother.
    • The final arc reveals that Jiang Cheng kept Chenqing with him the entire time in playable condition, even though one would expect him — given his history with Wei Wuxian — to have destroyed it instead. He gave it back to Wei Wuxian in the final arc and was left with Suibian, although the audio drama shows that Jiang Cheng soon gave the sword back to Wei Wuxian. Whether he did so directly or indirectly is left ambiguous.
  • Tranquil Fury: When he's expressing his anger, Jiang Cheng does so in an explosive or at least loud and direct manner most of the time. However, there are the rare occasions where he's beyond pissed but still keeps his calm.
  • Tritagonist: Downplayed. Jiang Cheng is heavily involved with Wei Wuxian, and serves a key role in the plot, particularly during the flashbacks. He also serves as the main antagonist, but not villain, of the story.
  • Tsundere:
    • One minute he's threatening Jin Ling and the next he's handing him Zidian and trying to protect him.
    • Generally, Jiang Cheng has a hard time in being honest about his feelings if they don't involve anger in some way. However, this prevents him from having a proper confrontation with Wei Wuxian, and every encounter they have at present almost always involves Jiang Cheng making vicious remarks and overriding anything Wei Wuxian had to say, killing any chance for them to talk things out.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: After the Time Skip, Jiang Cheng becomes almost exactly like his mother, from how they carry themselves to how they treat the people around them. This doesn't bode well for Jiang Cheng's emotional well-being, given that he — like Yu Ziyuan — became the living embodiment of the "three poisons", the flaws of humanity which harm both others and oneself. The crux of Jiang Cheng's Character Development involves him shedding said poisons and consequently, stepping out of his mother's shadow.
  • The Unapologetic: As a result of his refusal to acknowledge the faults in either his personality or his actions, it's only natural that he wouldn't feel guilty, let alone apologize, for any instance he might have wronged other people until it's too late for him to make up for what he had said or done.
    • This is subverted in the past once. When they were still children, Jiang Cheng apologized to Wei Wuxian after he scared the latter away in a fit of insecurity and envy.
    • Another subversion is when he says "I'm sorry" to Wei Wuxian in the finale for the way he treated him. However, the most his apology can do is only settle, but not rebuild, their relationship.
  • The Unfavorite: How he feels compared to Wei Wuxian. Jiang Fengmian is more lenient, caring, and openly affectionate towards his childhood friend, leading him to believe that his father does not love him.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • While Jiang Cheng knew that Wen Ning and Wen Qing saved his and Wei Wuxian's lives, he still attempted to get Wei Wuxian to hand over the Wen survivors to the Jin Sect, despite fully knowing what will happen to them. It was possible that he didn't mean to be an ingrate since he acknowledged what the Wen siblings had done, but he was more worried about the repercussions Wei Wuxian would suffer if he continued to protect them. Even then, he grew to genuinely detest them after Wei Wuxian cut ties with the Jiang Sect to protect the refugees. But even after learning that Wen Qing was responsible for the restoration of his golden core, he still sees Wei Wuxian's rescue of the Wen survivors as a transgression as evidenced in their confrontation at the Guanyin Temple. Keep in mind that this also happens after said survivors had also saved him, Wei Wuxian, and a thousand other cultivators from certain death at the Second Siege, and Jiang Cheng doesn't acknowledge this.
    • He doesn't so much as give even a grudging "thanks" to Wei Wuxian even when the latter saved him — and everyone else who attempted to kill him — from the army of corpses that surrounded the Demon-Slaughtering Cave. Granted, none of the other adult cultivators feel even an ounce of genuine gratitude either. This highlights how Jiang Cheng had become Not So Different from them.
    • The only time this is averted is when he sincerely thanks Lan Wangji for saving Jin Ling from nearly getting killed by Jin Guangyao.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Whether intentionally or otherwise, there are a few instances where he's shown to not be the best at relaying, and sometimes even properly remembering, details. At best, his emotions would warp his perception of certain events; at worst, he would deliberately manipulate the truth to suit his agenda better.
    • After the cultivation world began to turn to Wei Wuxian, Jiang Cheng warned Wei Wuxian that no one would speak up for him, even though a few actually have — which Jiang Cheng had personally witnessed and heard. Then when Wei Wuxian told him to tell the world that he left the Jiang Sect so that they wouldn't suffer the fallout of his actions, it was Jiang Cheng's choice to add how Wei Wuxian has "become the world's enemy" — which wasn't instructed by his friend in any way.
    • There's also how Jin Ling grew up believing that Wei Wuxian and Wen Ning intentionally murdered his parents in cold blood. While Jiang Cheng couldn't have known about the true circumstances behind Jin Zixuan's death as he wasn't there at the ambush of Qiongqi Path and only heard the Jin Sect's narration of the events, he knew exactly how Jiang Yanli died but never appeared to have explained anything about it to his nephew. And prior to the beginning of the story post-Time Skip, Jin Ling knew almost nothing else remotely accurate about Wei Wuxian, hinting that Jiang Cheng allowed Jin Ling to believe that Wei Wuxian was a soulless monster and killer who sheltered the Wens and murdered Jin Zixuan and Jiang Yanli out of sheer spite. Even Jin Ling's rant to Lan Sizhui about the crimes Wei Wuxian had supposedly committed is inaccurate in many areas. note 
      Jin Ling: And what else I'll never forget is that he ordered Wen Ning to kill my father and mother! My uncle grew up with him, my grandfather saw him as his own child, my grandmother wasn't horrible to him either, but what did he do? He made Lotus Pier the lair of the Wen Sect, he wrecked the entire Yunmeng Jiang Sect, he caused the deaths of both my parents and grandparents, and now my uncle is the only one left!
    • When Jiang Cheng reminds Wei Wuxian of what he promised him in the past, the part where Wei Wuxian promised to "support [him] his whole life" is only half-true; Wei Wuxian did promise to support him, which he did, but he never said that he would be there for him forever.
      Wei Wuxian: (in Chapter 56) In the future, you'll be the sect leader, and I'll be your subordinate, like your father and my father. So what if the Gusu Lan Sect has its Twin Jades? The Yunmeng Jiang Sect will have its Twin Prides!
      Jiang Cheng: (in Chapter 102) Wei Wuxian, who was the one who broke his promise and betrayed the Jiang Sect first? Tell me. That I'd be the sect leader and you’d be my subordinate, that you'd help me your whole life, that so long as the Gusu Lan Sect had its Twin Jades, the Yunmeng Jiang Sect would have its Twin Prides, that you'd never betray me or betray the Jiang Sect— who was the one that said these?!
  • Unstoppable Rage: Downplayed. As dour as he normally is, he's not running on anger all the time. Unless, especially for his post-Time Skip self, Wei Wuxian and Wen Ning are either in his presence or become the topic of conversation, then he will start simmering with fury.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: In the past, Jiang Cheng was, while still somewhat grouchy, a lot more relaxed and was capable of smiling and having fun every now and then. Then the attack on Lotus Pier happened, and since then he had an ever-growing chip on his shoulder.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty:
    • After he learned about how his golden core was truly restored, Jiang Cheng lets go of his resentment towards Wei Wuxian. But because he held onto his anger and hate for thirteen years, he's left with frustration towards himself.
    • Even before gets his closure in the finale, he's been venting out his hatred by massacring the Wen refugees and brutalizing any demonic cultivator he would encounter. But the novel makes it clear that it didn't make him feel any better. If anything, it had the opposite effect.
  • Verbal Backspace: Jiang Cheng is unable to think even at least once before saying words that he won't be able to take back. His father advised him against this before, but Jiang Cheng failed to heed his warning, and it shows.
  • Violence Is the Only Option: Thanks to a lack of therapy and proper upbringing, Jiang Cheng handles most, if not all, of his personal matters with severe aggression. Naturally, Reality Ensues and nothing gets fixed; however, Jiang Cheng lacks enough emotional awareness to realize that doubling down with more anger just makes everything worse.
  • Vocal Evolution: In both the donghua and the audio drama, Jiang Cheng's voice went through a noticeable change from before and after the Time Skip, sounding deeper and rougher at present. While this is normal since he naturally grew up, it also reflects how his experiences made him jaded and hardened.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: The underlying source of Jiang Cheng's envy. Jiang Cheng desperately wants to live up to his role as Yunmeng Jiang's heir but he feels that he always failed to meet his father's standards. His mother truly loved him, but she was terrible at showing affection and praise and projected her issues and biases onto him and Wei Wuxian. No matter whose approval he was seeking, Jiang Cheng's always fallen short which was exacerbated by Wei Wuxian effortlessly showing him up.
  • We Used to Be Friends:
    • He and Wei Wuxian were close in the past, but at present Jiang Cheng harbors a burning hatred towards him and only barely tolerates him in situations where they're forced to be civil or work together. By the end of the novel, he no longer despises Wei Wuxian and their relationship receives some closure, but they can never regain the friendship they once had.
    • On a smaller scale, Jiang Cheng also has this with Nie Huaisang. The two were friends during their teenage years, but it's hard to tell if they were actually close or only interacting through Wei Wuxian. However, it's made clear that after they started to focus more on their duties to their sects, they eventually drifted apart and they're never seen interacting with each other again.
  • Whip It Good: His other weapon, Zidian, is a ring which can turn into a whip and expel ghosts out of the bodies that they possess. It cannot, however, whip out spirits in a body which was offered, which was how Wei Wuxian evaded detection the first time around.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: You think that Jin Ling naming his dog Xianzi (Fairy) is bad? Jiang Cheng named his own dogs Moli (Jasmine), Feifei (Princess), and Xiao-Ai (Little Love) — names that Wei Wuxian likened to that of high-class prostitutes.
  • Why Can't I Hate You?: Mentioned almost word for word in his rant to Wei Wuxian in the Guanyin temple when Jiang Cheng rages about how he feels that his achievements, the time he spent hating Wei Wuxian, and the actions he took that were centered around that hatred are all invalidated by the Awful Truth about his golden core.
  • Would Harm a Senior: As he observed, most of the Wens that Wei Wuxian had rescued are either women, the infirm, or the elderly, and that's not yet counting the actual child among them. But as it was Jiang Cheng who had the most credits in the First Siege, he played a significant role in killing them all, or almost all of them.
  • Would Hit a Girl: In a sense; when he saw the state of Wang Lingjiao's corpse, he mutilated said corpse even further out of hatred and spite; although his action is understandable in this case, considering the role Wang Lingjiao played in the Lotus Pier massacre.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • Aside from the few disciplinary whacks or tugs he gives to his nephew, he's not above threatening a junior cultivator, albeit indirectly. His reaction to Ouyang Zizhen's defense of Wei Wuxian is a perfect example of this.
    • When taking into consideration that he led the First Siege, it's ambiguous if he remembered that there was a child among the Wens, but didn't care about said child's fate since to him a Wen was still a Wen. It didn't help that even long before the First Siege, Jiang Cheng didn't hesitate to tell Wei Wuxian to surrender all of the Wen refugees to the Jin Sect, even when he knows that they'll be killed.
  • Wrath: Another of his greatest flaws. When sufficiently angered, it takes a lot to calm him down; and when that anger turns into hatred, it's almost impossible for him to get rid of it as he holds onto that hatred and uses it as a drive. There are times when his hatred is understandable, but like with his pride it makes it difficult for him to see reason and be careful of what he's saying or doing.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Jiang Cheng calls Jin Ling "A-Ling" whenever he gets worried about him to the extent that he can't even be stern or angry about it.
  • You Make Me Sick: He doesn't say it to Wei Wuxian outright, but he felt somewhat disgusted when he witnessed Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji sharing an embrace.
  • Young and in Charge: He rebuilt his entire sect from scratch at a young age after the death of his parents, and Jin Guangyao even states that Jiang Cheng is the youngest cultivator yet to become a sect leader. This trope is deconstructed, however, in that Jiang Cheng has trouble navigating politics both due to his inexperience and the fact that no one respects a sect leader that is so young.
  • You Owe Me: Many of his grievances with Wei Wuxian are centered around this trope. It's another aspect he got from his mother, and it's also the main reason why his friendship with Wei Wuxian doesn't work out. They sincerely and deeply love each other, but their relationship could not withstand the burdens of owing lifetime debts to each other and the very fact that they're not regarded as equals either by themselves or by other people.
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