|“||Had it not been for this man here with me, I should have been already hacked to pieces.||„|
|~ Cao Cao.|
|“||Better I betray the world than have the world betray me!||„|
|~ Cao Cao's most famous quote, after escaping an 'assassination attempt'.|
|“||My ambition cannot be stopped!||„|
|~ Cao Cao's victory quote.|
|“||Strength, you say? Then know this, it is with just such strength that one day, I shall strike you down!||„|
|~ Cao Cao to Dong Zhuo before escaping.|
Cao Cao (in Chinese: 曹操), also known as Emperor Wu of Wei (in Chinese: 魏武帝), is essentially the main antagonist in the 14th-century Chinese classic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong, and its multiple adaptations. He is the leader of the Wei empire, who seeks to become an emperor of China. He is also a father of Cao Pi, father-in-law of Lady Zhen, and uncle of Cao Xiu as well as the archenemy of Liu Bei.
He was voiced by Yukimasa Kishino in the Japanese version, and by Robert Belgrade, Douglas Rye, David Lodge, and Spencer Howard in the English version.
Cao Cao was born in Qiao (present-day Bozhou, Anhui). His political career began when he broke the Yellow Turban Rebellion which threatened the power of the Han Dynasty at the end of the dynasty's reign. After successfully breaking the rebellion, he was given a position and then took the opportunity to take control of the Qingzhou Prefecture. He then strengthened his position by persuading the former Yellow Turban rebel member to join his personal army. He received and provided protection to Emperor Xian of Han who at the time was threatened. But then instead replaced Emperor Xian and took this opportunity to defeat some warlords around the Xuchang region which was the center of his power.
After his brother's death, Cao Cao took his nephew, Cao Xiu under his wing and raised him as a son. Later after the Yellow Turbans' rebellion was ended following the assassination of the Ten Eunuchs, Cao Cao infiltrate Luoyang in his attempt to kill the traitorous Dong Zhuo. However, he failed and got captured by Dong Zhuo's soldiers until he escaped with the assistance of both Xiahou Dun and Xiahou Yuan as well Liu Bei, Sun Jian, and their troops thanks to the help of both Wang Yun and Diao Chan. Cao Cao and his entire army joint in the summons for the Anti-Dong Zhuo coalition to assassinate Dong Zhuo. They managed to defeat Dong Zhuo before he retreated to Chang'an. Cao Cao and his army heads to Chang'an to carry on of killing Dong Zhuo until they retreated from their defeat of Lu Bu (who betrayed and kill Dong Zhuo as well).
In the battle of Xiapi, Cao Cao formed a temporarily alliance with Liu Bei of helping him to regain Xu Province from Lu Bu. After defeating Lu Bu, Cao Cao executed Lu Bu and Chen Gong, recruited Zhang Liao into his army and captured Lu Bu's daughter, Lu Lingqi and took her to Xuchang for peaceful isolation. In the Battle of Guandu, Cao Cao greatest victory is to conquer Yuan Shao, who at that time was the biggest warlord in northern China. After the conquest, he was officially appointed as prime minister and managed to unite northern China. After gaining a position as prime minister, Cao Cao then composed the power to conquer southern China, which were ruled by Liu Bei and Sun Quan.
The battle of Chibi is a war between Cao Cao and Liu Bei and Sun Quan. However, Cao Cao received a defeat in the famous war in the history of China. After Cao Cao's death, his older son, Cao Pi later described himself as emperor of Wei and set up Cao Wei country. Later, Cao Cao was then posthumously titled "Grand Ancestor Emperor Wu of Wei".
Cao Cao appears in the Dynasty Warriors video game series, where he can't be considered a villain, since in Wei's point of view, he is a hero. In the Warriors Orochi game series, he appears commanding resistance forces against Demon Armies. He also appears as one of the recurring boss characters in the Knights of Valour game series.
Cao Cao was seen as a cunning yet feared man. Relentless in his desire to end the land's chaos, he will use any means to achieve his plans, even if it makes him an enemy to the other kingdoms or to the Han Dynasty. Despite this Cao Cao was also noted to have treated his men like family, though he also has a fierce temper and will often scold his men's incompetence if the battle goes badly for him.
In newer installments of Dynasty Warriors, Cao Cao is quite able to show more self restraint in terms of his emotions, being able to still act normally and rationally even when close aides such as Dian Wei or Xiahou Yuan die. In his eyes, as the lord of men, he must act to achieve his dreams lest his men simply die for no reason. Said newer installments also show Cao Cao to be much more just in his actions and more serious about ruling the land for the sake of stability, justice and order.
In Dynasty Warriors 9, Cao Cao shown his soft side when he doesn't kill those who are posed no threat to him as he captured Lu Lingqi and taken her to Xuchang for peaceful isolation despite of her being Lu Bu's daughter.
- Cao Cao is initially treated as a villainous character, but later games began looking to his historical record, which portrayed him as a capable and wise ruler. While he's slowly gotten a better characterization as the series has gone along (especially after 6), outside of the Wei campaign, he's still mostly portrayed as ruthless and cruel. Historically, he was an excellent leader both as an administrator and a commander, and he treated his men as family (though this particular aspect of his personality is very much part of his character in the games).
- In High School DXD Hero, Cao Cao has a descendant named after him.