Cao Shuang is an antagonist in the 14th-century Chinese classic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong, and its multiple adaptations. He is the son of Cao Zhen.
Under the recommendation of Sun Zi and Liu Fang, Cao Shuang, Cao Rui, and Sima Yi became the regent king of Cao Fang. He was mentioned to be diligent, which is why he likes Cao Rui very much and has freedom in the palace. He treated Sima Yi with great respect and did not inform him.
However, once his colleague He Yan mentioned how Sima Yi treated his father Cao Zhen in the northern campaign and eventually led to his death, Cao Shuang began to change suddenly. He promoted Sima Yi to a civilian level, seized military power from him, and appointed his close relatives and colleagues to the highest positions in the court. In addition, he and his friends began to live a luxurious life, spending time drinking, listening to music and hunting. His brother Cao Xi warned him of the danger of this lifestyle, but Cao Shuang ignored him and said that he had nothing to worry about.
Finally, when he was told that Sima Yi's coup was in the capital, he and his brother and Cao Fang paid tribute in the tomb of Cao Rui. Although Sima Yi's colleagues Chen Tai and Xu Yun managed to persuade him to surrender, he hesitated and did not listen to his companions. Cao Shuang and his brothers were initially treated well. Although they were under house arrest and believed that their lives were safe, they were executed by Sima Yi shortly afterwards.
- According to Dynasty Warriors Next, Cao Shuang held many lavish banquets in a misguided attempt to repair Wei's declining image. His indulgent lifestyle nearly exhausts the kingdom's treasury, causing the Sima clan to turn against him in their bid for power. He dies cursing Sima Yi as the latter censures him for shaming his forebears.