Deng Ai is one of the major protagonists in the later parts of the 14th-century Chinese classic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by the late Luo Guanzhong, and its multiple adaptations. He is one of the generals of Wei.
In early years, Deng Ai was began his service in the army under Cao Cao. As well as a young officer, he was known for spotting the best places to station troops and supplies on the battlefield. As an ambassador, Deng Ai was sent as a messenger to the capital, Luoyang, where he happened to meet Sima Yi, who was then then serving as the Grand Commandant under the Wei government.
Sima Yi felt that Deng Ai was an extraordinary person, so he recruited him and promoted him to the position of a Gentleman of Writing. However, Deng Ai is promoted by Sima Yi and charged with the defense of Jiang Wei's raids on the southern border to Shu. While he conquered the Shu kingdom together with General Zhong Hui. Jiang Wei has would beat her back in Hanzhong. Deng Ai advised the army to pass through the Yinpin pass, but Zhong Hui refused.
Deng Ai was set out alone with his troops and had great success. He was conquered Shu capital Chengdu and forced Emperor Liu Shan to abdicate. Jiang Wei tried to save the kingdom of Shu after all. It was known that he teamed with his remaining forces with Zhong Hui to pull against Deng Ai. Before that, however, they instructed officer Wei Guan to assassinate Deng Ai.
Jiang Wei's plan did not work and Deng Ai killed him and Zhong Hui. Wei Guan's soldiers fled to Deng Ai, but Wei Guan feared Deng Ai's revenge and murdered him by night and fog. Tian Xu and his soldiers intercepted Deng Ai in the west of Mianzhu and killed him along with his son Deng Zhong and Shi Zuan. After Deng Ai's death, his other sons in Luoyang were rounded up and executed, and his surviving family was exiled to the Western Regions.
Deng Ai is Wei general and served as a minister. However, after witnessing the wisdom of Sima Yi, he decided to return to the battlefield and observe the troops in the battle against Shu. He likes to look at the map, and he is cautious about changing the geography war in order to maintain accuracy. His humble and keen wit made him a valuable and trustworthy ally of the Sima family.
- He is a playable character in the Dynasty Warriors video game series.