Cao Rui
Character Information
Force(s): Wei
Weapon Type: Sword (3, 6~8)
Spear (5)
Unit Type: Hero (3, 5)
Strategist (6~8)
Significant Battle(s):
First Appearance: Dynasty Warriors 3
Historical Information
Real name:
Cáo Rùi
Chinese name:
Style name:
Chinese name:

Cao Rui (onyomi: Sō Ei) is Cao Pi's son and the second emperor of Wei. During his reign, he was known for being able to entrust the right people for the most appropriate positions, but it was argued that his lavish spending in palaces drained Wei's treasury.

Role in GamesEdit

Cao Rui is often not featured in the Dynasty Warriors series since his father is still serving underneath his paternal grandfather, Cao Cao. At the Battle of He Fei Castle, he also leads one of the two waves of Wei reinforcements in Dynasty Warriors 3.

After his father's inclusion as a playable character, Cao Rui continues to appear in Wei's later battles, often leading reinforcements for his father or grandfather at He Fei Castle or fighting at the battle from the beginning. Dynasty Warriors 6 expands his role by having him serve as the commander at the Wu Zhang Plains if the player plays the battle as Cao Cao, as well as being the commander at Jie Ting in Special if the player chooses Sima Yi.

In Dynasty Warriors 7, Cao Rui only appears under his father at Dongkou. Dynasty Warriors 8 has him appear at Guangling, Hefei Castle, as well as Jiangxia in Wu's hypothetical route.

In Warriors Orochi, Cao Rui acts as his father's replacement officer during Wei's attack on Koshi Castle. Warriors Orochi 2 has him serve as one of the bodyguards for Cao Cao at Si Province. If Cao Cao is within the player's attack team at Si Shui Gate, Cao Rui will defend the main base and later at Guan Du, he will attempt to hold the central front against an onslaught of Orochi generals.

Cao Rui is a decent officer in Romance of the Three Kingdoms with high leadership, intelligence, politics, and charisma. He is generally regarded as the last capable ruler of Wei in the game, since his successors are largely of much inferior quality.

Voice ActorsEdit


  • "Grandfather! I have come to aid you! Father should also be here soon!"

Historical InformationEdit

Cao Rui was the oldest son of Cao Pi and Lady Zhen, born in 205. Cao Rui dedicated himself to his academic studies in his youth. When his mother committed suicide, Cao Rui was raised by Lady Guo. Their relationship was harmonious for the most part, but there is also some disagreement. Some historians say that when Cao Rui heard of Empress Guo's involvement in the death of his mother, Cao Rui ordered her to commit suicide as well. Still, he had her buried next to Cao Pi after her death. He was named Prince of Pingyuan in 222, two years after Cao Pi established the Wei Dynasty.

On one occasion, he was said to have been hunting with his father. They came across a doe and a fawn. After Cao Pi shot the doe, Cao Rui, remembering the death of his mother, broke out in tears and didn't want to shoot the fawn. Cao Pi was moved and dropped his bow and arrows.

In 226, Cao Pi grew ill and appointed Cao Rui as his heir. He summoned Cao Zhen, Sima Yi, and Chen Qun and told them to be his guardians before passing away. Cao Rui took the throne at the age of 21. Since he had focused on his studies during his youth and didn't participate in court matters, the officials didn't know what to make of him. Liu Ye asked for a private meeting with Cao Rui and after the meeting, he told the officials that Cao Rui's intelligence matched that of the greatest emperors of old. Cao Rui named his son Cao Jiong Prince of Qinghe, but Cao Jiong died two months later.

Sun Quan led an assault on Wei's cities the same year. Cao Rui sent Sima Yi, Cao Zhen, and Wen Ping to deal with them and they repelled Wu's assault. When Peng Qi rebelled in Poyang, many officials urged Cao Rui to send reinforcements to aid him, but his aide Sun Zi advised against it, stating that Peng Qi's family had revolted without success before and Sun Quan's men were disciplined. Cao Rui agreed with him and Peng Qi was defeated and killed after not receiving any reinforcements. In 227, Cao Rui ordered the building of a mausoleum for his dead mother. When Wang Lang visited the tomb, he saw that many people in Ye were poor and hungry, for which he sent a memorial to Cao Rui, admonishing him to be more frugal and thrifty.

Later that year, Zhuge Liang sent his men to Hanzhong to prepare an attack on Wei. Cao Rui wanted to send an army to attack him beforehand, but Sun Zi dissuaded him. Cao Rui then decided to adopt a defensive strategy. He named Lady Mao as his empress later that year. Zhong Yao revived a debate about mulitation as a form of punishment, which had previously not been reinstated by both Cao Cao and Cao Pi. Cao Rui had a similar opinion of such a form of punishment and did not reinstate this form of punishment.

In 228, Zhuge Liang started his northern campaign. Cao Rui appointed Cao Zhen as the commander against the campaign and personally moved to Chang'an to oversee the affairs. Zhang He defeated Ma Su at Jieting and Cao Zhen reaffirmed Cao Rui's control over the commanderies of Tianshui, Nan'an and Anding. Cao Rui decided to return to Luoyang in June. In the same year, Cao Xiu engaged the Wu forces at Shiting after their Grand Administrator of Poyang, Zhou Fang, had surrendered. Man Chong sent a memorial to Cao Rui to warn him about Cao Xiu's danger. Before Cao Rui could answer, Zhou Fang's defection proved to be an enemy ploy and Cao Xiu was defeated. When Cao Xiu died later that year, Cao Rui chose Man Chong to succeed him.

When Gongsun Yuan took control over Liaodong from his uncle Gongsun Gong, Liu Ye advised Cao Rui to lead a campaign against him. Cao Rui declined the advice and instead made Gongsun Yuan General of Vehemence and Grand Administrator of Liaodong. Afterwards, his son Cao Li died, followed by his other son Cao Mu. He also ordered Chen Qun and Wei Ji to revise the legal code of Wei and issued an edict in which he condemned feudal princes who became heirs to an emperor making their own parents emperor and empress as well. In 230, he ordered some officials to be dismissed due to their studies being insufficient after receiving a memorial by Dong Zhao. Later that year, he enfeoffed his maternal grandparents, a practice that had been objected by Chen Qun during Cao Pi's reign. When Cao Zhen proposed an attack on Shu, Cao Rui agreed with it, but Chen Qun objected Cao Zhen's planning. Cao Rui sent Chen Qun's objections to Cao Zhen and wrote him to keep them in mind while making the plans. He then went to inspect the eastern territories of Wei.

Eventually, Cao Rui received many memorials from officials like Hua Xin to finally take action and lead campaigns against Wu and Shu. Other officials like Yang Fu and Wang Su objected such actions, stating the lack of progress Cao Zhen made in his own campaign. Cao Rui ordered Cao Zhen to withdraw when heavy rainfall prevented his advance. He also demoted Liu Ye after realizing that he only told him what he wanted to hear instead of giving honest advice. Finally, Sun Quan led his forces to attack Hefei. Cao Rui ordered the troops of Yan and Yu provinces to move to Huainan. Sun Quan retreated, but Cao Rui's adviser Xu Xuan suspected a false retreat. Cao Rui kept his men at Hefei and indeed, Sun Quan returned to attack, only to be defeated swiftly.

In 231, Cao Zhen grew ill and Cao Rui personally went to see him. Cao Zhen died later that year and Cao Rui appointed Sima Yi to succeed his position when Zhuge Liang attacked Mt. Qi. Although Sima Yi emerged victorious, Zhang He was killed in battle. After exchanging some letters with Cao Zhi, Cao Rui ordered all other princes to come to court at the capital along with their heirs. Cao Rui also received memorials from Yang Fu, which urged him to be more frugal and more gracious with his relatives.

In 232, Cao Rui's son Cao Yin died. He then sent Tian Yu and Wang Xiong to attack Gongsun Yuan in Liaodong, who had shown signs of disloyalty. Jiang Ji objected the campaign, but Cao Rui ignored him. Tian Yu was unable to make any progress and was ordered to withdraw. On the way back, he intercepted messengers of Sun Quan. One year later, Gongsun Yuan offered to surrender to Wu and Sun Quan sent ambassadors to Liaodong. Gongsun Yuan had them all killed and confiscated their gifts in a display of loyalty towards Cao Rui, for which he was rewarded.

In 234, Zhuge Liang led his fifth northern expedition and asked Sun Quan to lead an attack on Hefei. Cao Rui personally led his army to reinforce Man Chong. When Cao Rui's forces arrived, Sun Quan immediately ordered his armies to withdraw. In the west, Zhuge Liang died of illness and the northern campaigns were abandoned. Some officials advised Cao Rui to go west and oversee Sima Yi, but Cao Rui deemed it as unnecessary and instead went to reward the army at Shouchun.

Cao Rui had a great harem and even appointed the most intelligent of his women to official positions that had the same tasks as their male counterparts. He also started to invest more resources in his building projects, for which he received negative reactions from ministers like Chen Qun or Gao Rou. He was finally convinced to reduce the amount of resources. In 235, he adopted Cao Fang. One year later he ordered Guanqiu Jian to lead another campaign against Gongsun Yuan, which failed. In 238, he sent Sima Yi to lead a campaign, this time succeeding in defeating and killing Gongsun Yuan. His brother, Gongsun Huang, had lived in the capital as a hostage and often warned Cao Rui that Gongsun Yuan could not be trusted. Since Gongsun Yuan had rebelled, Cao Rui was required to execute him, but he did not wish to so in public, but instead sent Gongsun Huang and his family poison to commit suicide. He then donated funeral clothing and coffins for the family.

In 239, Cao Rui fell ill and appointed Cao Fang as his successor. He wanted Cao Yu to serve as his regent, but the latter refused. Sun Zi and Liu Fang persuaded Cao Rui to make Cao Shuang and Sima Yi regents. Cao Rui agreed, but he ordered Sun Li to serve Cao Shuang as an adviser, fearing that he might not be fit for this task. Finally, Cao Rui died shortly afterwards and Cao Fang succeeded him as emperor.

Romance of the Three KingdomsEdit

In the novel, Cao Rui's actions remain largely the same as in history, although the book puts a slightly greater emphasis on his mistakes after Zhuge Liang's death.