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    Tropes Applying To Yuan clan 
  • Back for the Dead: Yan Liang got this treatment when his return after 30+ volumes ended in his mid-section getting on the deadly end of Zhang Liao's blade.
  • Badass Crew: The generals Yan Liang, Wen Chou and Zhang He, who are all Yuan Fang's loyal followers.
  • Big Good: As the head of 18 warlords alliance at the start of the series, but only in name - the story quickly lets us know the warlords' self-serving nature and the Yuan is just as bad. They absolved from this status as soon as the Dong Zhuo left the capital and turned around to devour the other warlords one by one. By Guandu, they are the closest this series has to a Big Bad.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Enormous, and absolutely fucked up with sibling rivalry taken to its ugliest.
  • Break the Haughty: The Liu, Cao and Sun force-feed them this trope.
  • Fiction500: The clan which rules the Northern region.
  • The Dragon: Yan Liang and Wen Chou for Yuan Shao. They're noted as his right and left-hand-man in warfare and earned their fame as the most fearsome of Northern generals some decades prior to the story.
    • Wen Chou in particular is featured a lot during Yuan Shao's involvement in the first arc. He single-handedly defeated ten of Lu Bu's body doubles, acted as Yuan Shao's bodyguard during their retreat from the burning capital, and was Yuan Fang's planned backup against Hua Xiong before Guan Yu came out of nowhere and did his job for him.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Tian Feng, supposedly one of the most influential player in Yuan clan, stayed off-screen and out of the whole Guandu arc because he was imprisoned by Yuan Fang for his anti-war view. He appeared for the first time while having a drink with Water-Mirror, his old friend, only to be poisoned by Yang Qing.
  • Genius Bruiser: Both Wen Chou and Yan Liang qualify, though Wen Chou more so. Ji Ling himself isn't lacking in the brains department either.
  • Honey Trap: The famous beauty Lady Zhen to the Yuan brothers, arranged by Yuan Fang of course.
  • Hydra Problem: In a metaphorical sense. The Yuan clan is so big, and each clansman (especially the Yuan brothers, from Yuan Shao's main branch) holds so much power and influence that it's in a constant state of internal conflicts, and both Yuan Fang and Yuan Shao sees uniting the clan as much a problem to tackle as defeating their many external, powerful enemies. Cao Cao even lampshades this at one point: assassinating the (northern) clan head Yuan Shao is not even an option, because many more Yuan Shaos will simply take his place.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: The problem with Yuan Shao's three sons. Doesn't help that Yuan Fang is always there to put them down in the eyes of elder clansmen, either with his schemes or sheer superior talents.
    • The eldest, Yuan Tan, is remarked as being a temperamental leader. In the most high-profile incident, in the face of the furious One-Man Army Liaoyuan Huo, even with the entire cavalry force of Yuan clan behind him, Tan turned his tail and ran away into his own army's formation. It completely devastated his men's morale and cost them a victory in the beginning battle of Guandu arc. Tan soon became a laughing stock for the rest of the clan (partly thanks to Yuan Fang's men spreading the rumor as far as possible) and was essentially disinherited by Yuan Shao.
    • The second eldest, Yuan Xi, is a wishy-washy womanizer who gave up his military control to Yuan Fang as soon as he got married to Lady Zhen, a beautiful woman whom three brothers were wooing (see Honey Trap above).
    • The third eldest, Yuan Shang, fares slightly better than his older brothers but still is a generally incompetent commander, and is known for hanging around opportunistic subordinates and outsiders on top of that.
  • Large Ham: Ji "OPEN YOUR EYES, FOOLS!!" Ling. Justified in that he's trying to boost his army morale.
  • Paper Tiger: Ji Ling. Poor dude isn't all that weak, but he just has to pick Lu Bu, Guan Yu or Zhang Fei as his opponents.
  • Put on a Bus: Saving for the big shots like Yuan Shao and Yuan Fang, many Yuan members like Zhang He and Tian De appear early on in the story and only reappear when the Battle of Guandu approaches.
  • Sibling Rivalry: The worst case of this series. Yuan Shao's three sons Yuan Tan, Yuan Xi and Yuan Shang constantly squabble among themselves to get into their father's favors in the hope of becoming the sole heir. They disregard brotherly bonds, discredit and backstab each other to hell and back, and each relentlessly cultivates his own factions at the risk of incurring internal war within the clan. And if you count Yuan Fang into the equation, it catapults this trope up and beyond. And then comes the Battle of Guandu...
    • The fight born of their opposing claims for heirdom is so legendary and devastating for all parties involved that their rivalry is now the go-to analogy for the danger that comes from a father superseding his eldest's rights in favor of meritocratic arguments or a younger heir then allowing them all the political and military means to duke it out among themselves, as seen when Guo Jia first warns Cao Cao about his sons Pi and Zhi.
  • The Un-Favourite: Yuan Shao's three sons, all of whom he holds in contempt compared to Yuan Fang.
  • The Mole: Two of them: Xu You for Yuan Fang, and Yang Qing for Guo Jia.
  • The Worf Effect: Principal victims are Yan Liang and Wen Chou, many times at the hands of Liu Bei' brothers. Or Zhang Liao, who kills Wen Chou.

    Yuan Shao 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/556016_526067687437219_1116987569_n_1191.jpg
"The world will be in the hands of my descendants."

The leader of Yuan clan. From the perspective of outsiders, Yuan Shao is a conservative who prides himself on upholding the great loyalist tradition of his family background (a grand records of having produced four generations of Yuan family members who rose to the prominent positions of the Three Excellencies), but few know that he harbors much darker ambitions. Knowing that he cannot bring himself to disgrace the family by overthrowing the Emperor, Yuan Shao chooses to leave the finalization of his goal in the hands of his illegitimate and most beloved son Yuan Fang. Seeing that Fang has no such intention at first, he killed his son's fiancee at the cost of Fang's love for him, reasoning that the hatred will be a powerful motivator. To aid Fang further in his quest for revenge and overtaking, Yuan Shao turns a blind eye to most of Fang's devious plans to emasculate his political enemies (among them Yuan Shao's three other sons) and reinforce his own party's standing in the clan - even as Shao himself is slowly turned into a figurehead, stripped off of influence, as a result of it.

The defeat at Guandu deals Yuan Shao a debilitating blow and effectively removes him from his position of leadership in the clan; at the news of Yuan Fang's death, he finally collapses and dies with a broken heart.

  • Abusive Parents: He never actively tries to quell the in-fighting that his children are responsible for, and secretly encourages Yuan Fang's various schemes to exacerbate the situation. Taken Up to Eleven in the Battle of Guandu, when he's overjoyed to hear that Yuan Fang's master plan involves killing all three brothers and Yuan Shao himself to take over the clan.
  • Aloof Big Brother: After Yuan Shu declares himself Emperor Zhongjia, Yuan Shao's main concern regarding his brother is how best to steer clear from him lest the usurper besmirches the clan's reputation, as he confesses to Xun Yu. He's also not above taking advantage of Yuan Shu's predicament to advance Yuan Fang's master plan, like declining Yuan Shu's requests for rations and backup troops unless the Imperial Seal is returned to Yuan Fang so he can petition his cause to the court. And he pretty much leaves Yuan Shu for dead after he's defeated by Liu Bei, not lifting a finger to help after Yuan Fang decides to abandon him.
  • Break the Haughty
  • Chewing the Scenery: In a Ham-to-Ham Combat with Dong Zhuo, no less.
  • Death by Despair: When Yang Xiu finally spills the beans about what happened to Yuan Fang.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Ultimately, his love and ambitions for Yuan Fang cost him and his clan everything.
    • Had he bothered to raise his other sons properly and not just focus on Yuan Fang (as much as it honed Yuan Fang) he would have saved his clan a lot of unnecessary internal scuffles and concentrated their whole resources into crushing Cao Cao.
    • Putting a check on Yuan Fang's schemes would caused something to a similar effect, since half the things that Yuan Fang does with Yuan Shao's blessings involve aggravating the tensions between his other brothers.
    • Finally, the Yuan clan could still have crushed Cao Cao even after the ignominious defeat at Guandu (yes, they were that powerful) if only Yuan Shao had just come to his senses and suspected something was amiss when Yuan Fang went missing for two whole years after Guandu and only communicated via letters. Believing so blindly in his son's scheme, he didn't and instead left the three brothers Shang, Tan and Xi to their own devices; the rest is history.
  • Hypocrite: He wants to conquer China as much as every other warlord but feels that he cannot fail to uphold the image of the four-generation-loyalist Yuan clan, so he chooses to dump the dirty jobs onto his bastard son Yuan Fang. People can say what they want about Cao Cao, but at least that guy's openly disloyal.
  • Irony: On account of their immense wealth, prestige and charisma, Yuan Shao and his clan surpass contemporary warlords, seemingly poised to swiftly crush any opposing forces and reunite China. Yet, after Lu Bu, they become the second powerhouse to fall before Cao Cao. Yuan Shao never lives to see it to the end, else he will have also found that the future Three Kingdoms shall be founded by Cao Cao, Liu Bei and Sun Jian's two sons - in other words, the very three warlords who used to be infinitely beneath him and whom he once looked down upon. Not to mention that by Yuan Shao himself is partially responsible for the fall of his clan by devising many gambits meant to strengthen its standings yet having them all backfire to his face (see The Chosen One below).
  • Yuan Fang I Am Your Father: Which makes you kind of wonder why Yuan Fang didn't realize it earlier, especially since he was twenty at the time of this revelation, and his father died twenty-two years before that. Yuan Shao even points this out, relating to him the age disparity.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: He unapologetically killed Yuan Fang's fiancée when he stubbornly refused the arranged marriage with Sun Jian's daughter Sun Shu out of loyalty to her.
  • So Proud of You: When the true scope of Yuan Fang's plan in the Battle of Guandu finally dawns on him while he's being shot at by Yuan Fang's archers.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: With his sons, who also resemble each other.
  • The Chosen One: Invoked - he wholeheartedly believes his son Yuan Fang is born destined to be the conqueror of the North and eventually of China, and devotes everything he has in preparation for that day. What he doesn't get is blindly putting all of his eggs in one basket is not something a wise bettor should do, proven by the fact that once Yuan Fang is dead and Yuan Shao follows him soon afterward, the Yuan clan's internal conflicts (which originally had been part of Yuan Fang's master plan and implicitly approved by Yuan Shao, who had intended for Fang to win them) are left unchecked and instantly push the disintegration beyond any hopes of repair; what is left is easy picking for Cao Cao and Guo Jia. Mind you, this was because Yuan Shao specifically did not view any of his other sons as capable or worthy to succeed him, but...
  • Tough Love: Yuan Fang being his favorite child, Yuan Shao spares no efforts to ensure he gets to the top, even when said efforts involve killing the girl he loves to force him into a prestigious arranged marriage.
  • "Well Done, Dad" Guy: Turns out he's one at heart, despite having accepted that his dearest son will never reciprocate his familial love. Becomes apparent when hearing Yuan Fang calling him "father" once instantly moves him to tears, and the peak moment of this being at Guandu when he realizes his son's overall plan.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: YMMV on "well-intentioned", but at heart he's a clanshead who looks out for its (perceived) best interests by supporting his illegitimate son's grand scheme to seize control, unite the clan and take over China. Since said son happens to be Yuan Fang, well...
  • We Used to Be Friends: With Cao Cao, before their ambitions make things go south.
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    Yuan Shu 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/554159_526070070770314_1198431651_n_4852.jpg
  • 0% Approval Rating: As he later finds out.
  • Bad Samaritan: To a T. His amiable facade fools no one, though.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: His final speech at death's door shows that he genuinely believes himself to be an honest and righteous man who had the people's best interests at heart and his founding a kingdom a heroic act, and the treacherous world and its ignorant people are to blame for his failings.
  • Butt-Monkey: His and by extension his entire armies' only shown fights are ones where they're defeated and outsmarted over and over again by all four of the major warlords bordering him: Cao Cao, Liu Bei, Lu Bu and Sun Ce, which also gives him the unique ignimony of being on the receiving end of the wrath of all Three Kingdoms' founders and the "God of War" almost simultaneously. His army was never depicted as victorious and he died in an arguably the most gruesome way out of everybody.
    • Make that pathetic: slowly poisoned to death by Sima Yi, spending his last moments in rags and tortured with Incurable Cough of Death, amidst only a few loyal men by his bedside while the others are fleeing outside... the image is put in stark contrast with his dying memories of the former days of glory when he ascended as Zhongjia emperor.
  • Character Tic: Flicking at his earring.
  • Faux Affably Evil
  • Foreshadowing: He specifically orders his personal dragon thronenote  be remade larger even when told that the existing one was made to "the original measurements", then in two later instances he makes grandiose declarations about his figurative reach, only to find that his physical arms aren't long enough to grasp both armrests... and after the second instance, Liu Bei does grasp both armrests of that dragon throne at oncenote .
    • Call-Back: After his death, Yuan Shao thinks of their childhood, when Yuan Shu would make pretend thrones only to find them too wide to grasp their armrests...
  • Dying Dream: He reminisces about the day he ascends to his self-made throne as he lays dying.
  • Genre Blind: He declares himself Emperor in an age where de jure loyalty to the Han dynasty is still a respected social value no matter how subverted it is in practice (to the point even Sun Ce, who vocally detests it, has to play along), the imperial clan still holds sway with its subjects, people still detest court usurpers, and not even Dong Zhuo or Cao Caonote  had the audacity to make themselves Emperor. Yeah, things are going to end well for Yuan Shu.
  • Gonk
  • Gone Horribly Right: His plans to obtain the royal seal and declare himself emperor. Both of them work... to long-term-disastrous results.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: The circumstance Yuan Shu finds himself in after getting his ass handed to him for the second time by Liu Bei's team in a catastrophic campaign finally shows him how disastrously Genre Blind his claiming kingship is. Before he can recover from this defeat, he's killed by Sima Yi.
  • Hope Spot: Given one by Sima Yi in the aftermath of his final battle with Liu Bei: in exchange for food and holding back Guan Yu's force, Yuan Shu would give a public statement to support Yuan Shao becoming Emperor, thereby destroying Yuan Shao's reputation. Sima Yi poisons him to death soon after.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Seeing his state after the ignominious defeat by Liu Bei, offing him was perhaps an act of however-unintentional mercy on Sima Yi's part.
  • Humiliation Conga: Starting from the Sun Ce arc and throughout two encounters with Liu Bei and one with Lu Bu, he's constantly on the receiving end of this.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: After indirectly causing Sun Jian's death, his manipulations tear the Sun clan from inside out and almost completely break down their military force. Then while they're his vassals, he deploys their forces outside of his territory with the intent to eventually cut them off to die (just like what he tried with Sun Jian during the conflict with Dong Zhuo]] while he has Ji Ling attempt to find and seize the Imperial Seal then have Sun Ce killed. Of course, he gets his due once Sun Ce decides to stop taking shit from him: Those forces are backed up by the Sima and Shan clans' resources after Yuan Shu's unnamed advisor is defeated, so their being "deployed out of range of Yuan Shu's supposed aid" ends up also meaning "out of range of Yuan Shu's purge", and "Sun Ce" was actually body double Ling Cao, so the clan forces coalesce under the surviving Sun Ce who leads them east... and before long returns the favor.
  • Killed Off for Real
  • Large Ham: Especially after he declares himself Emperor; apparently it runs in the family.
  • New Era Speech: His team is fond of delivering these and always either gets mocked or ignored, something they never seem to notice. Ji Ling in particular has a noticeably habit of this to the point that Lu Bu's men, including Zhang Liao, laugh during an attempted siege when they realize that Ji Ling is repeating himself during the same speech!
  • Meaningful Echo: Goes from "Listening to the will of the people is obeying the will of Heaven" as Emperor-to-be to "Foolish masses...what are you thinking?" as Emperor dethroned.
  • Smug Snake
  • The Scrappy: In universe example. Nobody is willing to ally with him due to the fact that he declared himself as Emperor and made an enemy of almost every major warlord. It's to the point where his own family rejects him and leaves him for dead — though the fact that his declaration of empire had tarnished the clan reputation (just as elders had feared) and he was basically almost finished (having gotten stomped by Sun Ce, Liu Bei, Cao Cao and Lu Bu) definitely didn't help.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Multiple times, and in the last time he never recovers. His army is completely curb-stomped by Liu Bei's ragtag battalions of soldiers and raging civilians, then he finds himself isolated from the Yuan clan and denied aid.

    Yuan Shu's advisor 
  • Asshole Victim
  • The Chessmaster ... or so he thought.
  • Dies Wide Open
  • Face Death with Dignity: He was fully prepared to die if it helps his men capture two important hostages and get their families' incredible assets into the hands of Yuan Shu but it was subverted at the moment he was shot and killed; his last thought was about how he didn't want to die this way.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Attempts one on the "dishonorable" Shan Wuling after she sits in his lap with seeming intent to seduce him. Cue Sima Yi retorting with an awesome Shut Up, Hannibal! (about valuing life and survivalnote ), taking a jab at the hypocrisy of chastity for women versus polygamous men, and sweeping Wuling off her feet when Sima clan archers open fire on the advisor's camp.
  • Ignore The Fanservice: A pretty lady sits on his laps, gets all intimate with him and offers herself and her family's back-up to advance his political career. His response? He points out the flaws in her plan - chiding her for acting too early and going after him instead of his master, who she could and "should" have seduced into setting up his downfall - then throws her to the ground and calls her a slut.
  • Moral Myopia: He serves the disloyal-to-Han Yuan Shu and resorts to nefarious means to further his master's cause (like pretending to take in Sun Ce while secretly plotting to dispose of him), Yet when Shan Wuling tries to seduce and talk him out of Yuan Shu's service to save herself and her family's fortune, he beats her, humiliates her in front of his men, and chastises her for being an unfaithful woman and essentially leaves her to be gang raped... Sima Yi quickly points out this hypocrisy.
  • Mugging the Monster: He hijacks several caravans (knowing the cargo belongs to Sima Yi) and kidnaps a group of Sun Ce's supporters to get Shan Wuling (not knowing that among them is Sima Yi, though he eventually realized as much). Not surprisingly, he ends up like many assholes who crossed Sima Yi's path.
  • No Name Given: Everyone calls him "advisor", even Yuan Shu.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Invokes Stay in the Kitchen to Shan Wuling, of all things.
  • Smug Snake: Has shades of a Magnificent Bastard, but ultimately fails to deliver. He dies too soon and none of his plans actually works out as he imagined.
  • Straw Misogynist: Oooh boy.
  • The Strategist
  • Undying Loyalty: Damned near one of the closest things to a Fatal Flaw in Ravages. Sima Yi actually considered letting him go before opening fires on him, had the man not been so adamant about getting Sima Yi and Shan Wuling as hostages for his lord.
  • Would Hit a Girl
  • The Worf Effect: Just as Shan Wuling is assured her plan to smuggle Sun Ce and the Imperial Seal out of Yuan Shu's hold is going smoothly, he shows up and utterly destroys every bit of her arrangement. Or so he thinks, because the man he believes to be Sun Ce is not.

    Yang Qing 
A part of Yuan Fang's inner circle and one of his most trusted man, he later turns out to have a significant part to play in the climax battle of Guandu arc.

For tropes regarding his Yang Xiu persona, refer to the appropriate entry in page Cao Clan.

  • A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
  • Dragon with an Agenda: One that involves painful literal and figurative backstabbings.
  • Eyes Always Shut
  • False Friend: Yuan Fang bonded with him through their shared experience of having dubious family background (Fang for being a bastard, him for being the son of a disgraced court official) and trusted him even more than his childhood friends. He returned this favor by conspiring with Guo Jia to put an end to both Fang's life-long plan and his life.
  • Historical Domain Character: He's Yang Xiu, later known as one of Cao Cao's most famous advisors and supporter of his younger son Cao Zhi.
  • Kick the Dog: Poor Yuan Shao.
  • Hero Killer
  • Innocently Insensitive: Brought up the feared prospects of having his house's fortune confiscated in the mess of political war by the Yuan brothers, in front of Sima Yi who lost both his home and family
  • Secret Identity: Yang Xiu, son of Yang Bao, the former Grand Commandant and old-time rival of Yuan Shao. His mother is Yuan Shu's sister, so that makes him a cousin of Yuan Fang. Of course, there's a whole another business about him being Yang Xiu, just look at Historical Domain Character above.
  • Smug Snake: He just can't help it. Not when he's the one who ensures Cao Cao's victory at Guandu by burning the Yuan army's rations — in place of the iconic burning of Wuchao, which in Ravages was actually a trap — and personally racks up the highest body count by assassinating Yuan Fang, poisoning Tian Feng, and manipulating Yuan Shao to death.
  • The Nondescript
  • The Starscream: What he intends to be to Cao Cao.
  • Treacherous Advisor
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