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My friend, you have been fooled again. Long ago when Liu Bei was dependent on Liu Biao, he always cherished the intention to supplant him. Think you that he really pities Liu Zhang? This sort of evasive policy will certainly cause you much trouble. However, I have a scheme which I think Zhuge Liang will not be able to get the better of. Only you will have to make another journey.
~ Zhou Yu.
Proper strategy can overcome any obstacle!
~ Zhou Yu's victory quote.
I always believed that you would come. Let us join together to crush our enemies!
~ Zhou Yu in Warriors Orochi 3.

Zhou Yu (周瑜), style name: Gongjin (公瑾), is a character and one of the major protagonists in the 14th-century Chinese classic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by the late Luo Guanzhong, and its multiple adaptations. He is the strategist of the Wu Kingdom and a husband of Xiao Qiao, the sworn brother of Sun Ce, and one of the most famous generals of Sun Quan as well as an arch-rival of Zhuge Liang.


Meeting the Sun Family

Zhou Yu is one of many united by the early campaign against the tyrant Dong Zhuo. Dong Zhuo had kidnapped the emperor and a campaign of warriors was assembled to put down the mad governor. Zhou Yu was just a youth at the time but recruited by the military commander, Sun Jian - the emperor's personal military organizer. During his recruitment Zhou Yu was meet Sun Jian's son, Sun Ce and the two became fast friends. Zhou Yu was only a conscripted inexperienced youth at the time but felt military service was his calling in life. However, Zhou Yu has formally enrolled in the military for training by Sun Jian after the emperor was rescued.

Becoming a Strategist

Zhou Yu had more than cut his teeth, getting his training in the field, serving Sun Jian as he conquered other troublesome governors who either were allied with Dong Zhuo, or were showing the same signs as Dong Zhuo and needed to be reconquered to assert the emperor's strength. But tragedy struck for the Sun family that year as Sun Ce was assassinated by one of the governors.

Govenor Xu Gong had hired an assassin to kill the Sun family before his removal from power. When the assassin was only able to kill Sun Ce but in the assassin's success Zhou Yu had lost a dear friend. Though all parties involved were executed, Zhou Yu reportedly saw that the machinations of one man could shake an entire army, and began focusing on military tactics over field-work.

Wu Strike

Cao Cao had been declared the imperial commander of the military after helping to save emperor Xian from Dong Zhuo. The Emperor had placed all his trust in his military commanders, but as it was Cao Cao who physically arrived in Dong Zhuo's castle and took the emperor home, it was Cao Cao who was made the high-commander of the military and given much autonomy from Xian. In his service to the emperor, Cao Cao was began conquering and re-conquering many territories, much as Sun Jian was, though on a larger scale due to commands he was allowed to give. Eventually Cao Cao's ambitions turned his attentions inwards and he sought to remove his rivals as well. Sun Jian had to go into exile - heading east with his family and the men loyal to him, Zhou Yu among them. This alliance of commanders of the emperor's former military would come to be known as Wu. Officially, Wu were barbarians and mercenaries but they consider themselves a military fiefdom.

Cao Cao had created many enemies in his bid for power, even going as far as to relocated an entire province and a beloved governor/military commander named Liu Bei, who went on to form Shu upon relocating his people to the Jing Provence. Liu Bei saw he must fight Cao Cao to escape being victimized by his forces and proposed an alliance with Wu. That Sun Jian had died in battle, Sun Ce had been assassinated, and so Zhou Yu, notable for how young he was, was at that time, ironically the oldest living member of Sun Jian's inner-circle. It said Zhou Yu was recruited by Sun Jian's son, Sun Quan - leader of Wu, as his military advisor. When Liu Bei offered his alliance, Zhou Yu had advised they take it and join with Shu against Cao Cao's forces of Wei. Zhou Yu had consorted with Liu Bei's advisor, the philosopher, and former hermit, Zhuge Liang.

While Zhou Yu planned the naval forces based on Zhuge Liang input. Zhuge Liang was by some accounts a mage who could alter the very winds, by some accounts an early form of meteorologist, but either way Zhuge Liang was confident he knew which way the winds would blow before the assault and so a surprise attack via boats would be the most devastating when the winds changed. Zhou Yu was convinced the plan would not succeed and was already planning for his naval troops to just get close enough to Cao Cao then to abandon ship and swim to land to re-group for the assault. To Zhou Yu's surprise, the wind took a sudden change just as Zhuge Liang had predicted and the Wu armada were carried all the way into Cao Cao's navy at Chibi. Wu's blow against Wei was devastating and crippled Wei's presence at sea for years. Shu used the victory to gain breathing room and organize their forces, Wu became a naval power to fill the void of Cao Cao's diminished sea- presence, Sun Quan going as far as to recruit pirates as commanders. Sun Jian had pledged his daughter, Sun Shangxiang to Liu Bei and Sun Quan, pleased with the victory the alliance had given them, formally sent his sister to marry Liu Bei to formalize the two.

Fall Out

Zhou Yu is lauded as a great hero and tactician. But though the battle at Chibi is considered Zhou Yu's greatest triumph, it was also his last. Sun Quan had actually intended to use the wedding to get close to Liu Bei and ambush him, holding him there until he agreed to let Sun Quan take over Shu's land while he retired as a figure-head, the plan never succeeded thanks once again to Zhuge Liang and the Shu commander Zhao Yun - Zhuge Liang seeing the potential danger, and Zhao Yun patrolling for Wu military units.

However, Zhou Yu was hit by a poisoned arrow while he defending the Jing province for Liu Bei. While Wu must still had ambitions to take Shu but was doing favors for Liu Bei for as long as their alliance was formal. The arrow caused Zhou Yu to be sick constantly and he needed to retire from the battle-field, forming tactics from the privacy of his own tent from that point on. Later that year, Sun Quan and Zhou Yu made their play for formal military power over Shu. Zhou Yu's units went to cross Shu territory, Zhou Yu stating they were just passing through and had business in the provinces beyond, as Shu and Wu were allies Liu Bei was tempted at first to allow Wu to pass, but Zhuge Liang saw through the ruse and told his lord that Wu must not be allowed to cross directly. Zhou Yu is already in bad-health did not have time to turn back and so formally attacked Shu when he was ordered to turn around, he would die in the battle.

Zhou Yu was respected by Zhuge Liang and part of Wu's envoy to the alliance with Wu, so his body was sent home by Shu envoys, who though angry about the attempted play for power still considered him a great commander worthy of proper burial by his fellows. After Zhou Yu's death, he was succeeded by Lu Su.


Zhou Yu was seen as something of a prodigy. Zhou Yu had taken up military command in his mid-teens and become a tactician by his twenties, his nick-name was even "Zhou Lang" - (Zhou the young). Zhou Yu had a deep friendship with Sun Ce in their youth and was very upset when he died. While his loyalty to Wu was predicated almost entirely on his kinship with Sun Ce but also recognition to Sun Jian as his military commander. By all accounts he was both impressed with Zhuge Liang's brilliance and also infuriated by it, that the sage Shu advisor seemed three steps ahead of nearly every tactical move he made.


  • Zhou Yu appears as one of the playable characters in both the Dynasty Warriors and Knights of Valour video game series. He is one of the boss characters in Knights of Valour 3.
  • Historically known as the Beautiful Zhou Yu. At the Battle of Nanjun in Dynasty Warriors 8, he gets irritated at Zhang He's insults and promptly states that he is known as "The Handsome Zhou Yu," though in other circumstances Zhang He actually compliments him for his looks when they meet.
  • Zhou Yu's nickname in Japan is "soy sauce" due to the similar pronunciation of his name and "shoyu". Fans also occasionally call him "lolicon" due to his spouse's stature and behavior.
  • Zhou Yu is the main protagonist in the 2008-09 movie Red Cliff. He is portrayed by Tony Leung.
  • Zhou Yu is a major character and anti-hero in the 2010 TV adaptation of the Three Kingdoms, notably being one of the two main protagonists of the Red Cliff episodes and the main antagonist of Liu Bei's marriage episodes. He is portrayed by Victor Huang.


           Romance of the Three Kingdoms Logo.png Heroes

Cao Wei
Xiahou Dun | Dian Wei | Xu Chu | Xiahou Yuan | Lady Zhen | Cao Ren | Cao Pi | Pang De | Cai Wenji | Guo Jia | Li Dian | Yue Jin | Yu Jin | Xun Yu | Xun You | Man Chong | Cao Xiu | Cao Zhi | Cao Zhang | Cao Zhen | Cao Ang | Cao Anmin | Ren Jun | Cao Jie | Cao Hong | Cao Rui | Cao Chun | Cao Fang | Han Hao | Meng Da | Tian Yu | Wen Ping | Xin Pi | Xu Zhi | Xiahou Mao | Xiahou Shang | Xiahou Hui | Chen Tai | Zhuge Xu | Empress Guo | Empress Dowager Bian | Cheng Yin | Chen Lin | Wang Su | Wang Ling | Zang Ba | Yue Lin

Eastern Wu
Zhou Yu | Lu Xun | Taishi Ci | Lady Sun | Sun Jian | Sun Quan | Lu Meng | Gan Ning | Sun Ce | Huang Gai | Two Qiaos | Zhou Tai | Ling Tong | Ding Feng | Bu Lianshi | Han Dang | Lu Su | Zhu Ran | Cheng Pu | Xu Sheng | Dong Xi | Sun Yi | Su Fei | Sun Kuang | Sun Luban | Sun Luyu | Zhu Huan | Pan Zhang | Jiang Qin | Hu Zong | Kan Ze | Chen Wu | Zhuge Ke | Zhuge Jin | Pan Jun | Lu Mao | Sun Liang | Sun Xiu | Sun Hao | Zhou Fang | Lu Dai | Lu Fan | Lu Jun | Lu Kang | Lu Yi | Lou Xuan | Bu Zhi | Bu Xie | Lady Wu | Wu Guotai | Empress Zhu | Taishi Xiang | Yan Jun | Zhu Yi | Quan Cong | Zhu Zhi

Shu Han
Zhao Yun | Guan Yu | Zhang Fei | Zhuge Liang | Liu Bei | Ma Chao | Huang Zhong | Jiang Wei | Wei Yan | Pang Tong | Lady Huang | Guan Ping | Empress Zhang | Guan Suo | Liu Shan | Ma Dai | Bao Sanniang | Xu Shu | Lady Guan | Guan Xing | Zhang Bao | Fa Zheng | Lady Xiahou | Zhou Cang | Deng Zhi | Wang Ping | Zhuge Zhan | Feng Xi | Huo Jun | Huo Yi | Liu Ba | Jian Yong | Fei Yi | Liao Hua | Jiang Wan | Ma Su | Ma Liang | Fan Qiang | Zhang Da | Liu Du | Liu Feng | Lady Fan | Shamoke | Zhao Fan | Mi Zhu | Mi Fang | Yang Xi | Zhang Nan | Zhao Lei | Zhao Tong | Zhao Guang | Dong Yun | Dong Jue | Huang Quan | Li Feng | Li Yan | Liu Yan | Lady Gan | Lady Mi | Sun Qian | Zhang Da | Jiang Shu | Xu Jing | Fu Shiren

Jin Dynasty
Sima Shi | Sima Zhao | Wang Yuanji | Deng Ai | Xiahou Ba | Guo Huai | Zhuge Dan | Zhong Hui | Wen Yang | Xin Xianying | Zhang Chunhua | Chen Shou | Sima Yan | Sima You | Sima Ai | Cao Huan | Wen Qin

Han Dynasty
Diao Chan | Zuo Ci | Lady Lu | He Jin | Gongsun Zan | Gongsun Fan | Gongsun Yue | Huangfu Song | Chen Gui | Tian Kai | Guan Jing | Kong Rong | Liu Biao | Liu Qi | Cao Bao | Lady Yan | Bao Long | Chen Ying | Zhao Hong | Xu Rong | Ze Rong | Ou Xing | Wang Yun | Lady Cai | Gongsun Du | Cai Mao | Cai Yong | Ma Tie | Ma Xiu | Han Fu | Han Sui | Han De | Emperor Xian | Emperor Ling | Yuan Yao | Huang Shao | Huang Chengyan | Jiao Chu | Fu Shou | Ma Teng | Consort Tang | Zhang Lu | Liu Zhang | Liu Yao | Tao Qian | Guan Ding | Zhang Song | Lady Yang | Ma Yunlu | Liu Cong | Qiao Xuan | Pan Feng | Yu She | Yan Baihu

Exclusive Characters
Lei Bin | Lixia | Luo Pingan | Jingshu | Gongsun Baoyue | Li Feiyan | Xiahou Qingyi | Sun Ruan'er | Liu Qing'er

Good Organizations
Five Bushel Sect | Five Tiger Generals | Forces in Xiliang | Gongsun Zan's Army | Liu Biao's Army | Liu Zhang's Army | Tao Qian's Army