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     Tropes Applying To Cao clan 
  • An Axe to Grind: Xu Huang and Xu Chunote .
  • Badass Army: Universally recognized as the badass army, and noted for their calm in battle even in the face of surprising events or misfortunes.
  • Badass Crew: Cao Cao's advisors include, among other talents, three of the Eight Geniuses later joined by Sima Yi. His generals: many from his own family and the Xiahou brothers, Xu Chu, Dian Wei, Li Dian, Yu Jin, and later Zhang Liao are either strong like monsters, or extremely well-rounded physically and mentally.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The leader of the Crippled Legion who appears in volume 22 announcing himself as Liaoyuan Huo's successor is Xu Ding, Xu Chu's older brother, with as much desire for revenge as his little brother.
  • Defector from Decadence: Xu Huang, formerly a general under Yang Feng. Turns out that he was in cahoots with Xun Yu, when he got out of the way of the arrow that Xun Yu's henchman Man Chong fired at Yang Feng.
  • Genius Bruiser: Yu Jin.
  • Face–Heel Turn: The Qingzhou troops, formerly Yellow Turban soldiers, turn on Cao Cao under Zuo Ci's influence in the battle against Yuan clan.
  • Mega Manning: At Changban, they've already mastered an improved version of Feng Hou Eight Diagram formation, which Guo Jia came up with after suffering defeat from the same formation at Yuan Fang's hands in Guandu. As a testament to the troops' eliteness, Liu Bei notes that it took them a much shorter time to train than Yuan Fang's army.
  • One-Man Army: Most if not all of Cao Cao's generals have shown this trait not that it helped when they tried to fight Lu Bu personally.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Xu Ding to the Sima clan in volume 25.
  • Running Gag: "My Lord, are you training troops?"
  • Training from Hell: The entire 1st Xuzhou campaign.
  • Took a Level in Badass


The clansmen

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    Cao Cao 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/3653_177043855783325_588379526_n_6997.jpg
"The villain in chaos, the hero in peace."

The leader of Cao clan. He started out as a vanguard of the Guandong Alliance and was one of the first to strike at Dong Zhuo (the only other was Sun Jian). The battle was his first crippling defeat and nearly cost him his entire army as well as the future of his faction, but as things turned out it was Cao Cao's victory in the long term: through his bold initiative, he struck men of talents - among them three of the famous Eight Geniuses - as a patriot of great integrity and a lord worthy of their service. When Xun Yu and Guo Jia joined his side followed by Jia Xu, their genius and Cao Cao's own flair for strategic risk-taking come together and jointly result in a sequence of brilliant schemes, rebuilding his army from scratch and quickly expanding his territory.

Cao Cao's gradually goes from a minor character in the grand scheme of things who was one step away from losing his life on behalf of conventional idealism, to a protagonist characterized by Machiavellian traits, shedding most of his early scruples and the near-death, near-total-defeat situations he survives only end up hardening his resolve. So far, the victories that define his career are the final defeats of Lu Bu and Yuan Shu, the securing of the young Emperor and, as of recent volumes, the defeat of the all-powerful Yuan clan.

  • AntiHero: Progresses from Type I to Type III, and shows shades of Type IV at his worst.
  • Badass Bookworm: He's more proficient in utilizing Sun Zi's Art of War than Guo Jia or the Sun clan (supposedly Sun Zi's descendants), and Yuan Fang can testify to it. Yes, in this respect he can outdo two of the Eight Geniuses.
  • Badass Mustache
  • Born Lucky: To quote Jia Xu, Xiao Meng and many others - this guy is assisted by the will of Heaven. Besides having the unique fortune of three Geniuses choosing him as their lord while others (Yuan, Sun and recently Liu) only has one in their service, he's survived several brushes with death, namely being personally chased by Lu Bu and Sun Ce, coming this close to being assassinated by Huo and Xiao Meng, and generally being stomped on under the chain-gambit Pang Tong set up for him.
  • Break the Haughty: He's been on both the giving and receiving ends.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Extorts money from Sima clan, all the while knowing very well that they have a deadly squad of assassin under their thumb and a Chessmaster on par with his three Geniuses, and on top of that are well-known for killing extortionists? Bad idea, but kinda averted in that the whole business about the Sima mutiny and sending the Crippled Legion's assassins after him was not Sima Yi's idea, but Pang Tong's. It will eventually be played straight with his massacre of Sima clan, though.
  • Create Your Own Villain: He instructed two wealthy merchant clans to finance the dissolute and destitute Sun clan's quest to pacify the Eastern region and gave them Imperial sanction, then he took in a defeated Liu Bei and granted him resources to gain a political ally in the court. Eventually, the both of them outgrew what he initially expected and turned around to oppose him.
    • The final nail in the coffin comes when he murders Sima Yi's family yet lets Sima Yi live, effectively dooming his descendants.
  • Dark Messiah
  • Dirty Old Man: Xu Chu even makes jokes on it.
  • Evil Chancellor: Currently holds this place in the court. However, it's also noted that he averts like hell some of the bad stuffs usually associated with being this; for example, he's quite beloved by the people and many Imperialist talents are willing to serve him, in no small part thanks to Xun Yunote .
  • Face–Heel Turn: Guo Jia's arrival in volume 10 initiated one for him.
  • Freudian Excuse: It's implied that the cruel persecution he endured in his younger years as a foster child of an eunuch family is part of the driving force that got him where he is today.
  • Hero Antagonist
  • Heroic Lineage: He's actually a Xiahou by blood - the same Xiahou family which produced Xiahou Ying (a famous general in the time of Han's founding) and his two cousins Dun and Yuan - and his father was adopted into the Cao clan.
    • Black Sheep: The adoption is invoked against him by other clansmen at one point when his military situation at Guandu isn't looking good - to ensure the clan's survival, they use it as an excuse to draw a line between them and "Xiahou Cao", as the Emperor mockingly puts it. The same Emperor then quickly calls them out on this, pointing out that had it not been for Cao Cao, the Cao clan wouldn't have made it to the top of the political world.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Might be this or a Villain with Good Publicity, depending on whether you ask his vassals or his enemies.
  • Jerkass
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Once Guo Jia convinces him that sitting idle on the slope and acting the nice guy while the country is collapsing around him might earn him a good reputation but will not save the people, he makes the jump and becomes China's new Terror Hero.
  • Large Ham: He has his moments.
  • IllGuy: As Chibi's climatic battle comes to a close with his forces on the river and land suffering staggering losses, he soon finds himself bedridden with the yearly plague in Jingzhou due to direct contacts with his afflicted officers, resulting in another Oh, Crap! moment for the entire Cao camp.
  • It's Personal: His excuse for attacking Xuzhou is to avenge his father against the Governor of Xuzhou, whom he accused of a rob-and-murder plot. The old man actually died a natural death, and the whole thing is Guo Jia's idea.
  • Magnetic Hero
  • Magnificent Bastard
  • Moral Event Horizon: The massacre of a hundred thousand civilians during his first Xuzhou campaign.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: It eventually becomes clear that he's no less of a Magnificent Bastard than the three Geniuses serving him and only lacks their flair for elaborate plans. Shuijing, their teacher, even comments that much of their success can be attributed to Cao Cao's leadership skills and their talents flourish under Cao Cao's commands more than they ever did in his school. The aversion truly takes it to the top in the Battle of Guandu, when he fights Yuan Fang's Fenghou Eight Diagram Formation Diagram evenly with an improved version of Sun Zi's formation, whereas Guo Jia spectacularly lost to Fenghou before. Years later, at Changban his troops reveal that they too can do the Fenghou Eight Formation Diagram. For all the good that it does them against Zhao Yunnote , it's noted by Liu Bei that Cao Cao's troops are superior to even Yuan Fang's in how quickly they were able to adopt a formation that it took years for Yuan troops to do.
    • Even in a series with Sima Yi as one of the main protagonists and Cao Cao relegated to supporting character, he's not about to overlook the obvious: when Sima Yi surrendered after the purge of his clan, Cao Cao admitted that he wouldn't have spared the man were it not for Xun Yu and Guo Jia urging him to make use of Sima Yi's talents. A decade later at Changban, he directly calls Sima Yi out on Zhao Yun cleaving his way through the Cao Armynote , alleges that anyone who speaks up on Sima Yi's behalf has been paid off, suggests that he knew all along about Sima Yi's master plannote  and reveals that he's going to "allow" Sima Yi to take sides in the inevitable succession conflict between his sons Cao Pi and Cao Zhi, which would necessarily be at one son's expense. In short, Sima Yi's going to get his "revenge", alright... the way Cao Cao will "allow" him to. Sima Yi subsequently reveals to Jia Kui that Yang Xiu's probably already been similarly "guided back on track" by Cao Cao as well and thus picked Cao Zhi... meaning that Sima Yi had better work his connection with Cao Pi fast, since Cao Pi vs. Cao Zhi is now a proxy battle with Sima Yi and Yang Xiu's lives on the line.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: His rationale behind the whole "villain in war, able ruler in peace" front. YMMV on how much of it is his patriotism speaking and how much of it is him making excuses for personal ambition.
  • Parental Substitute: Xu Chu sees him as a father figure.
  • Self-Made Man: Due to the abuses of the Ten Attendants making eunuchs unpopular, his adopted lineage to a famous eunuch actually worked against Cao Cao early on, so Cao Cao had to make his glorious political and military career like any other petty warlord. This lineage becomes a minor but important plot point during the climax of a story arc where it's exploited by Sima Yi and Jia Kui to force him to execute Xiao Meng prematurely in order to appease the Qingzhou troops who were driven by eunuch-persecuting mob mentality.
    • Is used when he derides Dong Cheng during the Emperor "escorting" arc in volume 19 — Dong Cheng started in a far superior position politically but never bothered to milk that advantage to expand his personal influence and power, whereas Cao Cao "came from a eunuch family, endured cold shoulders, but I fought for my place among the various lords."
  • Straw Hypocrite: He can go on and on about how he controls court affairs just to aid the young Emperor, but everyone believes he has bigger ambitions, and Xun Yu only "serves" Cao Cao because he believes that he can keep Cao Cao in check.
  • Terror Hero: Thanks to Guo Jia, since volume 10 he's been Type 3.
  • The Man Behind the Man
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: To Dong Chengnote  and Sun Cenote , neither of whom take it well.
    • The eulogy he delivers with Yuan Tan's head before Yuan Shao's grave is another. "Respect for the dead" is apparently an alien phrase to Cao Cao.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Hits it off in volume 14 (being cornered by Lu Bu) and 24 (getting his ass handed to him by Pang Tong).
  • Took a Level in Jerkass
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Again, only if you think he's sincerely acting for the good of the country as he claims and not personal ambition to rule.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: To the Sima clan in volume 25; even if the Xu brothers acted on their own initiative, Cao Cao approved of the purge.
  • Zero-Approval Gambit: He works together with Guo Jia to transform his public image from a well-meant, if conventional, loyalist to a ruthless military commander to cower warlords and civilians alike into submission.

     Cao Ang 
Cao Cao's eldest son and heir apparent. He perished in the battle of Huancheng.

  • Adaptation Expansion: He gets more lines and scenes in Dian Wei's feature novel, Defeated General.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: He charged into Zhang Xiu's troops to rescue Cao Cao and got shot down for his trouble, but he still managed to give Cao Cao his horse.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: As a grieving Cao Cao berated him for his reckless and fatal charge, he admitted that he could never be as good as his father and the realm needed him more.
  • Killed Off for Real
  • The Perfectionist: Implied to be this; in his first appearance on panel Cao Cao's officers complain (in good humor) that he has even higher standards in troop training than his father.

    Cao Pi 
Cao Cao's second son who has become his heir apparent after the death of his older brother Cao Ang. He first showed up in the aftermath of Cao Cao's siege on City of Ye, Yuan clan's last stronghold. His return in chapter 390 brings the Cao siblings' rivalry into the prelude to the showdown at Chibi.

Cao Pi is backed up by Sima Yi, Jia Xu and the majority of Cao Cao's generals, including his uncle Cao Ren.

  • Like Father, Like Son: Like Cao Cao, he's shown to have a taste for beautiful women.
  • Sibling Rivalry: With his brother and rival successor Cao Zhi. Its reputation even preceded his appearance.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: With Cao Zhi, from their field of expertise down to the company they keep. In the first chapter they appeared on page, Zhi recited poem and appreciated flowers with fellow poet and scholar Yang Xiu while Pi sacked the Yuan estate with his uncle Cao Chun and claimed the beauty Lady Zhen as his own.
  • Spanner in the Works: Jia Xu, following Guo Jia's dying request, takes up his role in keeping Sima Yi in a leash, and seems to be on a roll with it up until Cao Pi shows up and turns out to be much more receptive to Sima Yi's advice (and shady behind-the-scene maneuverings) as long as it serves his political advancements.
  • The Dutiful Son: Upon hearing Cao Cao is being beseiged at Huarong Path, he tries to take up arms to rescue his father, even though his own troops is also in a precarious position and a deployment to Huarong means he would have to face the likes of Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang. He is stopped by his generals, but it's the thought that counts.

    Cao Zhi 
Cao Cao's third son, who is a fierce competitor for Cao Pi's position as the future heir. He is supported by Yang Xiu and the literati of the court.

  • Big Brother Instinct: Though he expresses no qualms about undermining his older brother Pi, he is against Yang Xiu trying to pull their little brothers (e.g. Cao Chong) into the dog-eat-dog fight for heirdom.
  • Genre Savvy: He knows Yang Xiu is up to no good by supporting him against Cao Pi, but rolls with it anyway.
  • Pretty Boy

    Cao Ren 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/548404_177043885783322_1231863553_n_4543.jpg
  • Big Brother Worship: To Cao Cao.
  • Number Two: If Xiahou Dun is this on the battlefield, Cao Ren is this behind the battlefield.
  • The Reliable One
  • Thicker Than Water: Code of loyalty and Big Brother Worship dictate that he will stand for his lord brother through thick and thin. Even when other clansmen try to draw a line between them and Cao Cao (calling Cao Cao one of the Xiahou, because he's adopted) to save their hide once the situation at Guandu turns sour for them, he'd rather stick with Cao Cao.
  • True Companions: A part of Cao Cao's main team.
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The generals

    Xiahou Dun 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/534415_177042682450109_564969842_n_7845.jpg
  • Berserk Button: His newest nickname in-universe, "One-eyed Xiahou"/"Blind Xiahou", which almost always flips him offnote .
  • Blood Knight: He can get a bit Ax-Crazy when he's too caught up in the bloodlust of a particularly tough battle or in a traumatic incident such as the immediate aftermath of him losing his left eye.
  • Determinator
  • The Dragon: On the generals' side as a counterpart to Guo Jia on the advisors' side.
    • Noble Top Enforcer: Kinder and more principled than Cao Cao and Guo Jia, at the very least.
  • Eyepatch of Power: For those who read the novel, it is inevitable.
  • Eye Scream: Xiahou Dun got an arrow to his prized left eye. He pulls the arrow out with the eyeball still impaled. He eats the eyeball. And then his ass-kicking power goes up, forcing Cao Xing to attempt to kill him after he literally tears his way through Lu troops with his bare fists.
  • Heroic Lineage: The Xiahou family is descended from Xiahou Ying, a famous general who contributed to the founding of Han dynasty, and Cao Cao is actually a biological cousin of them (his father was adopted into the Cao clan).
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Besides the inevitable moment for which he's iconic in Three Kingdoms lore, it turns out that during one of the earlier campaigns, the Cao army was so starved for rations that not even the generals were spared from having to resort to cannibalism, as Xiahou Dun revealed when his post-eating-his-left-eye bloodlust extends to chomping on a living enemy soldier's neck!
  • Precision F-Strike: During the Guandu campaign, Xiahou Dun's war cry when he finally emerges after some time spent as a tunnel rat by impaling a hapless Yuan soldier with a spear is simply: "FUCK YOU".
  • Sarcastic Devotee
  • Sour Supporter: To Guo Jia when he first entered Cao Cao's camp (no thanks to Guo Jia making the first impression of a genocidal maniac) but he immediately warmed up to the man once he'd proven his genius in battle.
  • Super Senses: His left eye, which can see for miles. He loses it in the Xiapi campaign at Xiao Meng's hands.
  • Super Strength: The man can throw a spear to the top of a mountain. And since he's got that left eye, don't expect him to miss. Ever. Even after losing said eye, he still impales with a spear the very same Xiao Meng, who was atop the White Gate Tower pavilion roof attempting to shoot Cao Cao.
  • Token Good Teammate: Only to a point: Cao Cao once remarked that he's the most decent and respectable one out of all Cao Cao's brothers and cousins. But considering that this pretty much only applies right up until he's in full-blown Ax-Crazy Berserker mode and the Zero-Approval Gambit below...
  • True Companions: A part of Cao Cao's main team.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: He was the first to object to the massacre in Xuzhou that Guo Jia proposed to Cao Cao, though he quickly got over it.
  • Zero-Approval Gambit: Willing to order his men to raid villages for rations to save Cao Cao's and everyone's lives. To preserve Cao Cao's reputation, he even asks Cao Cao to demote him after the act is done.

    Xu Chu 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/549105_526068814103773_151708532_n_1884.jpg
  • An Axe to Grind
  • Badass Boast: As testament to his superhuman endurance - "If I make a sound, then my family fortune is yours!" whenever he overexerts himself right after sustaining grievous injuries, like having his neck run through with a spear by Liaoyuan Huo or being thrown from the top of a tower by Lu Bu.
  • Berserk Button: His father's death, Liaoyuan Huo/Zhao Yun the murderer, Lu Bu the instigator.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: And not just because he is who he is. Unbeknowst to Cao Cao, Sima Yi and the readers, this guy has been silently plotting revenge against Sima clan with his older brother all along. When they come out with it in volume 24, it was... a jaw-dropping twist, to say the least.
  • The Big Guy: The largest in both height and width among Cao Cao's generals.
  • Big Little Brother: He's much taller and larger than Xu Ding.
  • Brains and Brawn: The Brawn to Xu Ding's Brain.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: ..because they're less jokes and more stealth snark at Cao Cao's unrestrained womanizing. And at times, they're complete truth. "A Xu, wiseman, fathered, a son, who is, articulate, and smart", anyone ? Ironically, this is the one that made Cao Cao laugh the hardest and which he found the funniest... because he thought that Xu Chu had meant himself.
  • Assumed to be a Dumb Muscle, but is actually Smarter Than He Looks
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: All the time.
  • Meaningful Echo: Quoting his father - "[Those who are] destined to die, shall die. [Those who are] destined to live, shall live." - in his first appearance, cluing us and Liaoyuan Huo in on his identity right off the bat.
  • Mighty Glacier: Both in build and thanks to his armor, although the latter does augment his toughness to the point of outright blocking a back of the neck spear thrust from Zhao Yun.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: His archenemies Sima Yi and Lu Bu learn it the hard way.
  • Sibling Team: Wits Xu Ding.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: A big, (seemingly) slow-witted warrior and his scheming, borderline Magnificent Bastard killer of an older brother.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: He doesn't resemble his father but his head gear is very similar to what the old man once wore.
  • Super Strength: If his large physique isn't an indication of it already.
  • Super Toughness: When a spear head was rammed inside his body (somewhere dangerously close to his spine), Xu Chu let Dian Wei forcefully pulled it out (with an arm clad in spiked armor and all) instead of sitting around waiting for a surgical operation. See Badass Boast above.
  • The Stoic
  • The Quiet One
  • Unstoppable Rage: When he learned of his father's death and how it happened (the trouble started with subordinates failing to inform Xu Lin that Zhao Xian did not have a son due to some silly effort to save face), he was consumed by anger and accidentally killed the only witness of the massacre. Lu Bu took that as an excuse to discharge him from Dong Zhuo's service. And in light of the events in volume 25, no-one can say Xu Chu doesn't learn.
  • Verbal Tic: Xu Chu, speaks, with, commas.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Goddamn it how: the son of the man whose assassination was abetted by Lu Bu, almost a decade later, would cleave Lu Bu's daughter in half.
  • You Killed My Father: To Liaoyuan Huo, the entire Sima clan and Lu Bu. He before long defeats Huo, sets up the downfall of the Sima clan and is the first to strangle Lu Bu at the latter's execution.
  • The Worf Effect: On the first time they met he nearly killed Huo, only to be stopped and curbstomped by Zhang Fei; he subsequently is then manhandled by Lu Bu when he tries to take him in single combat — and then he's thrown off of a roof with Lu Bu using him to cushion his landing!

    Dian Wei 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/535935_177042712450106_1483495198_n_6486.jpg
  • Army Scout: He also does some assassinations on the side if a chance presents itself, since he's a former mercenary /assassin of the "Defeted General" troupe led by Liu Da.
  • Badass Mustache: That's quite a nice Porn Stache he's having.
  • Big Damn Heroes: His timely intervention saved the young Emperor from being shot dead by Guo Si in the Emperor escorting arc.
  • Determinator: His unwillingness to give up is horrifying for the enemy to behold. He's so determined, he's not willing to give up even when he's split in half!!
  • Dual Wielding
  • Foreshadowing: In his first appearance, he assassinated the commander of an army right on the battlefield in the presence of Liaoyuan Huo (reputedly the best assassin ever lived) and ran off. The way he accomplished it echoed Huo's killing method (take the enemies by surprise, then charge into their midst alone and assassinate the leader) just demonstrated a volume priornote . As it turns out, Dian Wei is the second warrior besides Huo with a monstrous capacity to endure painnote  and it's almost impossible to take him down once he's gone berserk. Huo later kills him as payback for this occasion.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be
  • Hyper-Awareness: His best bodyguard capability is his ability to recognize would-be assassination attempts against his lord such as when Cao Cao is about to attempt his "fake my death" ploy at Puyang.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: With Cao Pi in his side novel, Defeated General.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: MY LORD IS CALLING ME. Also functions as kind of power limiter, because woe usually befalls whoever doesn't run away from him after it's uttered.
  • Super Toughness
  • The Berserker: Post-Pre Ass Kicking One Liner.
  • Undying Loyalty: Takes this trope Up to Eleven. Even when he's cut into two, he still bellows to his leg to get up and kill the enemy together. They have to stab him in the neck to shut him up.
    Dian Wei: Legs! Get up! Legs! You traitors! Did you forget… why you live?
    • Is so ridiculously loyal that it's practically a superpower: his loyalty is what gave him the determination to defeat Lu Bu.
  • Why Won't You Die?: Liaoyuan Huo just doesn't feel pain, dude. But the same can be said of him too.

     Zhang Liao 
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    Deng Ai 

  • Child Soldiers
  • Fanboy: Deliberately invoked. In his first on-screen moment, he acts the part of a giddy fanboy to the renowned Taishi Ci, even citing his legendary battle with the late Sun Ce to distract Taishi Ci from Zhang Liao and his ambush troops, who're infiltrating Taishi Ci's camp.
  • Future Badass
  • Kid Sidekick: To Zhang Liao, and he's a much more resourceful variant than normal; he can activly play distractions, scout the field for the elder general and is not incapable of putting down an enemy bigger than he is.


The advisors

    Xun Yu 

    Guo Jia 

    Jia Xu 

    Xun You 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/92a7273fb80e7bec41948e482d2eb9389a506b77.jpg
Xun Yu's nephew, who is his aide in the court.

  • Beauty Mark: Has one mole on each side of his eyebrow. (This resulted in much snark via Word of God: both he and his uncle are obviously not good candidates to make regular appearances on the battlefield, since they're so distinctive that they would be the target of every sniper in the area.)
  • Good Is Not Nice: While he's not as bad as Jia Xu or Guo Jia, Xun You is overall a much more antagonistic person than his uncle and during his limited on-screen moment so far displays none of the sympathy or moral restraint that characterize Xun Yu. If anything, he seems to be closer to the coldly pragmatic ilk that Xun Yu's other classmates belong.
  • Morton's Fork: After his mistakes allow Zhou Yu's fire fleets to burn the Chibi river forest, trapping Jia Xu's land troops inside, he has to choose between splitting his force to save the troops and yielding the river to Zhou Yu, or keeping the river and dooming both Jia Xu's and Cao Ren's troops, who at that time were under attacks from Lu Meng and badly in need of backup from Jia Xu. He eventually chooses the former.
  • Oh, Crap!: Has one in Chibi's climatic showdown, once he realizes he's completely played into Zhou Yu's hands when he bought Lu Xun's bait and let Zhou Yu ram his oil-soaked burning ships into the nearby forest where Jia Xu's stationing his troops.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: To Xun Yu.

    Cheng Yu 
One of Cao Cao's highest-ranked advisor. He administers the internal affairs of Cao Cao's homebase.

     Sima Yi 

     Yang Xiu 

  • The Dragon: To Guo Jia, who apparently trusted him enough to assign him to the mission of spying on Yuan Fang (which was instrumental to winning Guandu) and later tasked him with the implementation of his backup strategy after his death. Which involves removing Xun Yu's clouts in the Imperial court to set up an unassailable position for Sima Yi in Cao Cao's faction.
    • Dragon with an Agenda: His father was a Han loyalist who was coerced to serve Dong Zhuo; this tenure earned him scorns and disgrace in the court under Cao Cao's chancellorship. Though his distinguished background and his achievement at Guandu netted him a good position in the court and a marriage with Cao Cao's daughter, Yang Xiu never forgets this slight and has implicitly stated his intention to return the favor within the hearing of more than one neutral party.
  • False Friend: He's friend with Cao Zhi for very obviously unsavory goals.
  • Smug Snake: After taking down the key figures of Yuan clan and making it into Cao Cao's family registry in one fell swoop, he boasts to Sima Yi, a fellow schemer in the business of settling family vendetta against Cao Cao, that he would be the one to take down Cao Cao's empire.
  • Obviously Evil: He's not very subtle when he tries to sow the seeds of discord between the Cao brothers, as his master Cao Zhi rightly points out. Before that, Cao Hong regards him with wary after he opportunistically took the initiative to go beyond Guo Jia's plan and kill Yuan Fang to take the credit for winning the Guandu war.


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