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Due to being quite a Doorstopper, Romance of the Three Kingdoms has Loads and Loads of Characters, here sorted by the kingdoms they serve.

Kingdom of Shu-Han

Liu Bei

Founder of the Kingdom of Shu. Portrayed as a loyal servant of the Han Empire and its people. After the Han's downfall, he continues the Han lineage as the ruler of Shu-Han.

Liu Shan

Second and final emperor of Shu. His bungling is largely blamed for Shu's downfall.

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: A not insignificant body of historians considers him to be Obfuscating Stupidity while being a Manipulative Bastard. Especially considering he had one of the longest reigns (41 years, in which 30 was after Zhuge Liang's death) in Chinese history in the weakest state in one of the most turbulent era, without being a tyrant, embroiled in Succession Crises (like Wu) or controlled by a Regent for Life (like Wei).
    • His most Idiot Ball moment (claiming "I am too happy [in Luoyang] to think of Shu" after his surrender) was especially interpreted this way, as claiming to have any remorse towards Shu would most likely cost his head. As a matter of fact, he is also one of the few surrendered monarchs who died of a natural cause.
  • The Load

Guan Yu

One of Liu Bei's oath brothers. Famous for his moral rectitude and incredibly long beard. The leader of the Five Tiger Generals.

Zhang Fei

The youngest of Liu Bei's oath brothers. He had a fiery personality and a love of alcohol that got him into trouble at times. A member of the Five Tiger Generals.

Zhao Yun

A former servant of Yuan Shao and Gongsun Zan. He joins with Liu Bei when the latter is fleeing from Yuan Shao. A member of the Five Tiger Generals.

Ma Chao

The eldest son of Ma Teng, the ruler of the Liangzhou region in northwest China. When his father is assassinated by Cao Cao, Ma attempts to fight off the Wei army on his own, but fails and is forced into the service of Zhang Lu. He would eventually defect to Liu Bei's force, where he would become one of the Five Tiger Generals.

Huang Zhong

A veteran general who has to deal with being discriminated against because of his age. Famous for his ability with a bow. The last of the Five Tiger Generals.

Zhuge Liang/Kongming

A master strategist, politician, scholar, and inventor, possibly the greatest of his age. He joined with Liu Bei after Liu made three visits to his cottage, and served him and his son loyally until his death. Rose to the position of Prime Minister of Shu.

Pang Tong

A strategist of Shu. Was turned away from Wu for being too ugly. Died relatively young in an ambush by Liu Zhang's forces.

  • Gonk: Since it was said that fledgling phoenixes were ugly and they were to grow to be majestuous creatures, he gained the nickname of "Young Phoenix".
  • The Strategist: Well, more like "a strategist". But he was considered incredibly skilled: it was said that if you could control both him and Zhuge Liang, you could reunite China. His early death means this was never really tested.

Wei Yan

Defected from Han Xuan because of Han's shoddy treatment of Huang Zhong and his own desire to serve Liu Bei. Served Liu Bei loyally and skillfully, but after Liu Bei's death he became dissatisfied. Zhuge Liang was able to keep a leash on him, but on Zhuge's death he revolted and was evetually killed.

  • Ambition Is Evil
  • Too Dumb to Live: After having spent most of his later live serving Zhuge Liang, he should have known that the guy had taken some precautions against potential traitors.

Mi Zhu

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

Mi Fang

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

Sun Qian

Another officer of Tao Qian that Liu Bei inherited on Tao's death.

  • Ambassador: He is usually the guy to go on diplomatic missions for Liu Bei.

Ma Dai

A cousin of Ma Chao, who served under him. He served in Zhuge Liang's Southern and Northern Campaigns, often playing crucial roles.

Liu Feng

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

Liao Hua

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

  • Chaste Hero: When he kidnaps Liu Bei's wives, his partner wants them to marry the two women. When Liao realizes who he's kidnapped, he kills his partner and returns the wives, along with his partners head, to Guan Yu as an apology.

Jiang Wei

An officer of Wei who defected to Shu because of the machinations of Zhuge Liang. He would be the main support of Shu for most of the last quarter of the story.

Kingdom of Wei

Cao Cao

Minister of Han. While young, a sage told him he was "a good subject in peaceful times; a crafty hero in a troubled land." This prediction was borne out: as the land became more and more divided, Cao amassed more and more power until even the Emperor was afraid of him.

 Cao Cao: Better I betray the world than the world betray me.

Cao Pi

Cao Cao's eldest son and heir. He was the one who took the step of usurping the Imperial Mandate from the Han Emperor. Well known for his poetry.

  • Big Screwed-Up Family: Pi and his brothers Zhi and Zhang squabbled over becoming Cao Cao's heir.
  • Offered the Crown: Subversion. In order to maintain an air of propriety, Cao Pi insists that the Imperial title be offered to him, not once, but three times. The terrified Emperor does so.
  • Unfortunate Name: Even worse than his dad's, as his given name ("Pi" with a flat tone) is unfortunately close to the Chinese word for fart ("Pi" with a falling tone).
  • Warrior Poet

Lady Zhen

The widow of Yuan Shao's son, Cao Pi was taken by her beauty and made her his wife. Later, she would be replaced by Lady Guo, who intrigued against her. She was forced to commit suicide.

Xiahou Dun

A general of Wei. One of Cao Cao's most loyal generals. Famous for eating his own eye after it was shot through with an arrow.

Xiahou Yuan

A general of Wei, and elder cousin of Dun. Was famous for his lightning quick attack, but was easily provoked into attacking which led to his downfall.

Dian Wei

Cao Cao's personal bodyguard. A man of great physical strength and loyalty to Cao Cao. He died holding a gate against Cao Cao's enemies.

Xu Zhu

Head of Cao Cao's personal bodyguard, the Tiger Guards. A man of great size, both girth and height, and strength, but known for being gentle and simple off the battlefield. Also known as "Crazy Tiger" or "Marquis Tiger".

Zhang Liao

The leader of the Five Generals of Wei. Originally served Lu Bu, but was spared at the request of Liu Bei and Guan Yu after Lu Bu's defeat and execution. After a devastating victory against Wu with an inferior force, he became used as a boogeyman by Wu mothers.

Xu Huang

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

Zhang He

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

Yu Jin

One of the Five Generals of Wei. After a meritorious career, he was sent against Guan Yu, who captured him due to his obstinacy and jealousy of Pang De. He died of illness after being ridiculed by Cao Pi for being captured.

Yue Jin

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

Li Dian

The third of the generals who held Hefei. Famously cautious, especially compared to many of the other generals mentioned here.

  • The Resenter: Towards Zhang Liao. However, he overcomes this for the Battle of Hefei.
  • Sour Supporter: His cautiousness clashed with most of his compatriots more direct style of combat. However, he was usually justified.

Pang De

Former officer of Ma Chao and Zhang Lu. Marched against Guan Yu to prove his loyalty to Cao Cao, he was captured by Guan Yu owing to the jealousy of Yu Jin, and then executed.

  • Death Seeker: He took a coffin with him to battle Guan Yu.

Guo Jia

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

Xun Yu

Advisor to Cao Cao. He was highly favoured, often acting as Cao Cao's steward when he was away on campaigns. However, he opposed Cao's ascent to dukeship, and was forced to commit suicide.

  • Driven to Suicide
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. He served along with his nephew Xun You. In certain romanizations, the only difference between their given names was an umlaut.

Xu Shu

Advisor to Cao Cao. Originally served Liu Bei, but was intrigued against and came to Cao's court against his will. He promised to never make a plan for Cao.

Sima Yi

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

Kingdom of Wu

Sun Jian

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

Sun Ce

Heir of Sun Jian, who managed to set the foundations of what would become Wu. He would die young. Also called "The Little Prince", after crushing a captured officer to death under one arm while scaring another to death with a shout.

Sun Quan

Sun Ce's brother and heir. He took Wu to its largest boundaries, eventually declaring himself Emperor.

  • Distressed Dude: Is frequently needing rescue.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Subverted. His attempts to lead his army from the front just wind up with the entire enemy army targeting him, and his favourite officers being forced to risk life and limb to get him out of danger.

Lady Wu

Sun Jian's wife, and mother of Ce, Quan, and Shangxiang. She was instrumental in Liu Bei's survival during his marriage to Lady Sun.

Lady Sun

Sun Quan's younger sister, who would marry Liu Bei. Was something of a tomboy, who enjoyed arms and taught all of her serving maids swordplay.

Zhou Yu

Advisor to the Sun family. He was especially close to Sun Ce, who was his blood brother. After Ce's death, he served Sun Quan capably, but was never able to keep up with the wiles of Zhuge Liang.

Lu Su

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

The Watson: For Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang's plots.

Lu Meng

An officer of Wu, who also took up scholarship after being criticized by Sun Quan. He was the successor of Lu Su as chief strategist of Wu. He was the mastermind of the campaign against Guan Yu in Jing.

  • Badass Bookworm
  • Playing Sick: A fake illness, followed by a show of meekness from his supposed successor, caused Guan Yu to lower his guard against Wu invasion.

Lu Xun

A scholar who was named Lu Meng's successor. Served in the campaign against Guan Yu in Jing, as well as masterminding the victory over Liu Bei at Yiling.

  • Extreme Doormat: When taking over during Lu Meng's fake illness, he pretends to be one of these towards Guan Yu to lower his guard further.
  • The Strategist
  • Straw Civilian: Subversion. All of the military officers under him are unhappy with serving someone they view to be a mere scholar, right up until he manages the Wu victory at Yiling.

Gan Ning

A former pirate who joins Sun Quan after serving Sun Quan's rival, Liu Biao. During his previous service he killed Ling Tong's father, causing friction between the two.

  • Boisterous Bruiser
  • Cool Boat: Gan Ning was called "The Pirate of the Silk Sails", because his ship only used silk sails.
  • Nice Hat: During a famous night raid on a Wei camp, Gan Ning and his men stuck white goose feathers into their helmets so as to be able to tell each other apart. The raid went off without a single casualty for Wu.
  • The Rival: To Ling Tong

Ling Tong

A general of Wu. His father was killed by Gan Ning, causing friction between the two. This is exacerbated by the fact that Gan Ning is a better commander than he is.

Zhou Tai

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

Huang Gai

An officer of Wu. His false surrender allowed for the fire attack at Chibi. One of the few to have served under three rulers of Wu.

Taishi Ci

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

Other Factions

Zhang Jiao

A taoist mystic leading a rebellion against the Han Empire, kickstarting the end of the Dynasty.

Dong Zhuo

A tyrant who attempts to take control of the Empire by deposing one emperor and ruling through that emperor's younger brother. A woman comes between him and his second-in-command, Lu Bu, and he is assassinated.

Li Ru

Dong Zhuo's most trusted advisor. He is the one who kills the deposed Emperor Shao, his consort, and his mother. He is executed after Dong Zhuo's death.

Lu Bu

The mightiest warrior in all of China. After serving Ding Yuan and Dong Zhuo (and assassinating both), he becomes a powerful warlord in his own right. He is eventually defeated by Cao Cao and executed.

Diao Chan

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

Chen Gong

A strategist who followed Cao Cao until he became disgusted by his immoral behaviour, then joined up with Lu Bu in order to oppose him. When Lu Bu is defeated, Cao Cao offers him a chance to repent, but he refuses and is executed. Cao Cao was so moved that he provided for Chen Gong's family thereafter.

Chen Deng

Another strategist for Lu Bu who, along with his father, acted as a fifth column in favour of Liu Bei and Cao Cao. They were both highly rewarded after Lu Bu was defeated.

Yuan Shu

A warlord vying for power and brother of Yuan Shao. He declares himself Emperor when Sun Ce trades him the Imperial Seal for troops.

  • Alas, Poor Villain: His death is arguably the most pathetic in the entire book.
  • Smug Snake: All of Cao Cao or Sima Yi's arrogance with only a tiny fraction of their competence.

Yuan Shao

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

  • Blue Blood: The Yuan family is one of the most distinguished at the beginning of the story.

Liu Zhang

The governor of Yizhou. He was considered an incompetent by some of his own officers, who wanted Liu Bei to replace him. The rest served him loyally until his defeat, whereupon most of the survivors joined Liu Bei.

  • General Failure: He was unable to correctly use the talented officers under his command, which led to their resenting him.

Meng Huo

A barbarian king, he attempts to rebel against the rule of Shu only to be beaten seven times by Zhuge Liang. After the seventh time, he repents and swears loyalty to Shu.

Lady Zhurong

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

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