Ding Yuan's Forces
Dong Zhuo's Forces
Lu Bu's Forces
185 cm (6'1")
|Weapon Type:|| Gōuliándāo (2~5)|
Dual ji (6~9)
|Playable Debut:||Dynasty Warriors 2|
|Real name:|| |
|Chinese name:|| |
張遼 - 张辽
|Style name:|| |
|Chinese name:|| |
文遠 - 文远
|Personal Item:|| |
Legend of the White Horse
|Sacred Treasure:|| |
Zhang Liao (onyomi: Chō Ryō) is a general who served under three different lords before serving Lu Bu. When his master surrendered, Zhang Liao swore his loyalties to Cao Cao, under whom his career skyrocketed. He is most famous for his battles at Hefei, successfully defending the castle with just a few hundred men. When he perished due to illness, the emperor wept for him. After his death, he has been lauded as one of the Five Generals of Wei. Romance of the Three Kingdoms emphasizes his service under Lu Bu and dubs him one of his Eight Generals. The novel also heavily stresses his brief historical friendship with Guan Yu. His son is Zhang Hu.
His Dynasty Warriors incarnation placed seventh place in Gamecity's Dynasty Warriors 7 character popularity poll and nineteenth place in the Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends popularity poll. The latest poll for the eighth installment puts him in seventeenth. The character poll for overseas fans puts him in second place for the Wei division and seventh in the semi-final round.
The English localization of the first Romance of the Three Kingdoms game misspells his name as Zhou Liao.
Role in Games
- "I have never known the like of your might..."
- ~~Yukimura; Warriors Orochi
Zhang Liao is known as a hardened veteran of war within the series and is feared by many officers in various games. Ordinarily, he starts as a general under Dong Zhuo and Lu Bu. While he may continue to serve them in their respective Musou Modes, he will become a Wei officer during his story. Although he is one of the generals present at the Five Passes, he will also not oppose Guan Yu's departure from Wei. He is best known for his unshaken defense at He Fei.
In Dynasty Warriors 4: Xtreme Legends, Zhang Liao and two ally generals are surrounded by overwhelming odds at He Fei. Undeterred, he rushes into battle to wipe out the massive Wu army. While he hurries to aid his allies, he faces several generals including Lu Meng and Zhou Tai. His might startles Sun Quan and the Wu leader issues a retreat soon after.
Described as a soldier who has a history of serving unworthy masters, Zhang Liao starts as one of Dong Zhuo's generals at Si Shui Gate in Dynasty Warriors 5. After Dong Zhuo's death, he follows Lu Bu to Xia Pi Castle. During the conflict, he proves his valor and, not wanting to see his talents go to waste, Guan Yu attempts to convince him to join his side. Though he refuses due to his faith in Lu Bu's honor, Zhang Liao feels he wasn't completely content with either of his previous lords and swears allegiance to Cao Cao after Lu Bu's defeat. While in Wei, he finds a purpose with Cao Cao and escorts his liege's escape from Chi Bi. When Cao Cao reaches Guan Yu, Zhang Liao accuses the Shu general as hypocritical for forsaking Cao Cao's acts of kindness towards him, one of which includes Red Hare. Thanks to his statements, both parties part ways peacefully and Guan Yu thanks him for preventing what could have been a regretful event. Rebuilding their forces after their loss, Wu attacks Zhang Liao's post in He Fei. He leads a brave resistance and stalls the large army long enough for Cao Cao's reinforcements. Distinguished in two kingdoms as a fearsome warrior, his name inspired awe in all who heard it and he is content to finally serve a worthy master.
His Legend Mode in the Xtreme Legends expansion occurs when he is under Lu Bu's command and groups him with his master and Diao Chan. The trio work together to surround Puyang Castle and join forces with the Wei defector, Chen Gong. After the battle, Zhang Liao notes that he can see past Lu Bu's violent nature and recognizes him as an honorable man.
Zhang Liao's ending scene in Dynasty Warriors: Online has him sense the player's own limitless potential. Encouraging the warrior to hone and nurture their abilities, he turns to a pillar and slashes it. The player immediately follows suit, causing the object to collapse from both clean slices.
Zhang Liao starts his story as an officer in Wei in Dynasty Warriors 6. Since his previous lords only fought for strength and power, he begins to question how he can fight for himself. While he swears to wage war for Cao Cao's vision, he asks other generals in Wei their purposes for fighting to find his own justifications for being a warrior. Once he realizes his strength can pave a path for the less fortunate, he gradually becomes one of Wei's finest generals and is named the army's Commander. After the other two kingdoms fall, Zhang Liao swears to uphold peace in the new land his lord desired.
He also appears in the stories of both Lu Bu and Diao Chan where he fights under the former. Though he questions some of Lu Bu's actions, he becomes more willing to fight at his lord's side in Chi Bi. At Hu Lao Gate, Zhang Liao praises his lord's determination to fight despite facing overwhelming odds. In Diao Chan's story, Zhang Liao was shown to have been partly suspicious of her motives. After the capture of Liu Bei at Jing Province, he questions Diao Chan on her reluctance to oppose Cao Cao. Despite his doubts, Zhang Liao still fights with her and Lu Bu up to slaying Cao Cao at Xu Chang.
In Dynasty Warriors 7, Zhang Liao begins his usual role of serving Dong Zhuo and is fought at Hulao Gate by Yuan Shao's coalition, but he shifts his loyalty to Lu Bu when his new master kills Dong Zhuo. At Xiapi, after they are defeated, Zhang Liao and Lu Bu are bound and brought up to Cao Cao. While Lu Bu pleads for his life but is executed, Zhang Liao remains calm and asks Cao Cao to kill him. However, Cao Cao allows Zhang Liao to live and asks him to join his army.
Prior to the Battle of Changban, Zhang Liao is ordered by Cao Cao to kill all those who side with Liu Bei, including the peasants, much to his surprise. Swearing to live up to his duty as his lord's blade, Zhang Liao manages to fight pass the Shu forces and reach Liu Bei, but Guan Yu, Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun arrive and protect their lord, despite their states of fatigue. Awestruck by Guan Yu's claim of Liu Bei's benevolence giving them strength, Zhang Liao does nothing as they escape, and Cao Cao proclaims that the conflict will continue. But Zhang Liao redeems himself at the Battle of Hefei, defending the castle from Wu forces with only a small portion of the Wei army. He defeats Taishi Ci and forces Sun Quan to retreat.
In his first Legendary Battle, while serving Lu Bu, Zhang Liao launches a surprise attack on Cao Cao's army in the middle of the night at Guandu. In his second Legendary Battle, he protects Cao Cao from the forces of both Shu and Wu as his lord escapes from Chibi.
Dynasty Warriors Next has Zhang Liao reprise his role at Hulao Gate and Xiapi. In the fourth chapter, he negotiates with Guan Yu for his services to Cao Cao in exchange for the chance to find Liu Bei's whereabouts. His accomplishments at Hefei are highlighted during the first half of Wei's last scenario. Controlled by the player, his bastion event has him strike fear into the hearts of the Wu soldiers before exploiting their disorganized state in the following battle. Zhang Liao is also playable in Lu Bu's chapter until the final battle at Luoyang. Having grown weary of his lord's brutal methods, he sides with the other warlords to test himself against the lonesome warrior.
His role does not change in Dynasty Warriors 8. He initially acts as one of Lu Bu's generals, and fights alongside his lord and Dong Zhuo. Later after Lu Bu kills Dong Zhuo, the two follow together and are eventually attacked and captured by Cao Cao. Cao Cao executes Lu Bu, but Zhang Liao is spared and allowed to fight once more. He proves himself to his lord by participating in Guandu as well as Chibi. After the escape from Chibi, he along with Yue Jin and Li Dian are stationed at Hefei, defending it from Wu while Cao Cao is busy fighting Shu at Hanzhong. Together, the three defeat Sun Quan, though they lament at his escape.
In the hypothetical route, Zhang Liao joins the successful assault at Chibi and participates in the campaign for Jianye to defeat Sun Quan. Zhang Liao later joins the final offensive against Shu at Baidi Castle in the west.
In Wu's historical path, Zhang Liao follows a similar route to his appearances in Wei and is also responsible for killing Taishi Ci during the conflict at Hefei. He appears to guard the central drawbridge of Ruxukou. During the conflict at Guangling, Zhang Liao is slain by Ding Feng, who praises the Wu general's strength.
In Wu's hypothetical route Zhang Liao loses control of Hefei due to the planning of Lu Su and Zhou Yu. He is discovered by Lu Su planning to destroy Xiaoshi Bridge and driven off before he can do so. His subsequent attempt to attack the Wu main camp is also a failure due to Wu reinforcements lead by Sun Jian and Sun Ce. Zhang Liao makes one final stand at Hefei castle alongside Yue Jin and Li Dian but is defeated and forced to flee. Zhang Liao reappears at Shouchun and will kill Ding Feng unless the player intervenes to rescue him and defends Xuchang from Wu's invasion.
In Shu's storyline, Zhang Liao ensures Cao Cao's escape at Chibi before fighting the Shu-Wu coalition. He later joins the last stand of Wei at Xuchang before being slain.
Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends has Zhang Liao appear as a selectable character in Lu Bu's new story. While working under Dong Zhuo, he first sees Lu Bu in action at Hulao Gate and is impressed by his strength. He then tries to protect his lord from the assassination at Chang'an, but ends up joining Lu Bu after witnessing his conviction. Zhang Liao participates in almost every battle in the historical route up until Cao Cao's victory at Xiapi. His personal strategy for the final battle is to rally the remaining loyalists after the flood, and lead the charge against Cao Cao's camp. After the battle, Cao Cao decides to spare Zhang Liao to allow him to hone his might on his battlefields. In the hypothetical route, he remains with Lu Bu to the very end and celebrates their conquest of Chang'an.
Zhang Liao also appears in Wei's first Xtreme Legend stage at Guandu only this time, he and Lu Bu fight alongside Cao Cao's men. He later appears at Mai Castle with Yue Jin, acting as reinforcements from Hefei. He also appears multiple times during Wu and Shu's story lines, either as a servant to Cao Cao, Cao Pi or Lu Bu.
During Orochi's story, he was sent by his lord to reinforce Wu's resistance against the serpent king's army. He and Gan Ning hold the center of the field and charge for the enemy's main camp. When their plan is foiled, he is defeated and he retreats to report Orochi's prowess to Cao Cao. When his kingdom falls to Orochi, he acts as one of Orochi's instigators in Warriors Orochi. He stars in three gaiden stages for Wei. One pairs him with Mitsunari Ishida to rescue Diao Chan, another has him assisting Dong Zhuo in the battle against Nene, and the third has him and other Wei vassals taking on the Takeda-Uesugi alliance.
In Warriors Orochi 2, Zhang Liao is not seen until the Battle of Jia Meng Gate, where he appears by orders of Cao Cao to assist Guan Yu in defeating Kiyomori. In this battle, he reveals to Guan Yu that the defeat of the phantom soldiers is done by killing the sorcerers who control them. The two warriors accomplish that task and move on to defeating the Sun Wukong doubles only to find more sorcery at the gates. Eventually the two overcome the poison gas and defeat Kiyomori together. Zhang Liao is also present at Koshi Castle where he takes a northern path to take out the northwestern garrison to stop the cannon fire.
In his dream stage, he teams up with Gan Ning and Kotarō Fūma to carry out a sneak attack on Meng Huo's base, Ueda Castle. While the warriors penetrate the castle's rear defenses, they encounter Ranmaru, Kunoichi, and Zhuge Liang intruding their path.
Zhang Liao once patrolled the dimensional world in Warriors Orochi 3 as a general for Wei. When the serpent army regained its momentum, however, the general sought to band with like minded allies and joined the anti-Orochi forces. As he hurried to reinforce Ueda Castle, the fortification fell and Zhang Liao lost his life. When a future Sima Zhao and company save the castle, Zhang Liao lends his strength for the coalition's cause. He later helps Jia Xu and company clear the forces at Jiange, eventually gaining Yuan Shao's allegiance.
In Ultimate, Zhang Liao is among those who are sent to Fu Xi's past in order to find a way to defeat Tamamo. Together with Lu Bu and Jiang Wei, they defeat Orochi at Koshi Castle and also witness Nezha's first death.
Zhang Liao is separated from the rest of Wei in Warriors Orochi 4, and ends up helping protect Kaguya at Tedorigawa alongside Gan Ning and Ling Tong. He is held up by Sun Wukong's clones until Sima Yi leads him to the real monkey. After his rescue, he joins the Coalition.
Zhang Liao later accompanies Yue Jin and Li Dian in ambushing Lu Bu and Kiyomori's chase party at Tedorigawa.
When he was in Dynasty Tactics, Zhang Liao could be optionally recruited anytime after Lu Bu's death. Dynasty Tactics 2 automatically sends him to Wei after the battle with Lu Bu. In Lu Bu's epilogue story, Zhang Liao remains loyal to Cao Cao promising to take down his former lord when they meet in battle. At Xia Pi, Lu Bu kills his former officer after a fierce fight.
Zhang Liao is a general for Cao Cao in Kessen II. He often leads one of the physically strongest armies for Wei with a mixed footman and cavalry unit. During Wei's war councils, he often offers strategies that aim to demoralize the Shu army with brute force. He's an old friend of Guan Yu and, when their countries were allies, they dine together during Wei and Shu's victory banquet. In the past, they once fought a decade ago over a woman. However, Guan Yu let him win their battle and allowed Zhang Liao to marry her.
During Wei's story, he suppresses rebellions from Yuan Shao's armies and returns to his lord victorious. He joins moments before the Battle at Chang Ban Po and volunteers a strategy to use the shortest route through the eastern forest. If he meets Guan Yu during this time, they will have a friendly bout in battle. He asks his friend if he has a maiden and promises them a safe escape. Guan Yu refuses, stating that a man fights for the ones close to them. In response, Zhang Liao wins their scuffle and earnestly tells him to not disappoint his woman. Zhang Liao remains in Cao Cao's army for the rest of the game.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Zhang Liao is featured in all of the series' installments, often boasting high WAR. In Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI, he is one of the few officers with a unique 3D model, looking somewhat like his Online counterpart. He is a free officer during the Yellow Turban Rebellion preset scenario and is seen in Jin Yang. During the ideal dream match scenario, Rise of Heroes, he is seen serving Lu Bu with his son Zhang Hu.
Zhang Liao is a man of honor and will stay virtuous to the very end, no matter what obstacles come his way. Usually calm and just, he is also capable of turning into a fierce beast during battle. He believes that he can only find his true purpose in life during war and walks the warrior's path. While serving Lu Bu, Zhang Liao has the utmost faith in his master's more valiant traits. He is praised as the one of the land's greatest warriors by Lu Bu and the two generals mutually respect each of their strengths.
In later games, Zhang Liao suffers more personal self doubt upon seeing Lu Bu's demise. Zhang Liao wonders if his path should end as well, together with his late master, or if he must continue with his personal beliefs. He sees Xu Huang as a kindred spirit, who also aims to follow the path a warrior would take.
In most titles, he admires Guan Yu's chivalry during their time together in Wei. In the destiny mode for Dynasty Warriors 5: Xtreme Legends, Zhang Liao states that his original crescent blade weapon was made to be similar to Guan Yu's as a sign of respect. Their reverence for one another is also featured in Warriors Orochi 2. Besides praising Lu Bu and Guan Yu, Zhang Liao says special quotes to Zhao Yun, Keiji, and Tadakatsu in the Warriors Orochi series.
Zhang Liao is also rather sensitive to his negative connotation as a boogeyman, modeled after the rumors created by mothers from the Wu kingdom as a nod to his deeds in Hefei.
In the Japanese version of Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires, Zhang Liao is given the nickname of "The Prussian Blue Trooper" while the English version changes it to "The Fledgling Dragon of Wei". As a dominant ruler in Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires, he calls his five greatest warriors the "Five Worthy Generals".
His previous weapon of choice in the Dynasty Warriors series is called a gōuliándāo, or literally the hook sickle blade, a huge blade that was said to have been in use during the Ming Dynasty. Unlike the heavy yǎnyuèdāo (weir moon blade), which has a weight that is much too unreasonable to be used conventionally, the gouliandao is lighter and a reasonable combat weapon. Aside from its weight, it was fashioned to mirror the appearance of its heavier predecessor. The yanyuedao is often said to have been the model for Guan Yu's legendary weapon. Zhang Liao's third, fourth, and Level 11 weapons are named to be identical to Guan Yu's respective weapons; the sole difference between the names of the two characters' armaments is the identified weapon type. Omega Force likely wanted to emphasize Zhang Liao's respect for his friend by giving them blades with similar origins and names.
Zhang Liao's original weapon names in Dynasty Warriors 6 are twin serpent faces (Standard), twin hawk beaks (Skill), and twin dragon heads (Strength). All three animals are considered divine kings in their own right, reigning the sky or land with their superb physiques. The listed reptiles are known to occasionally take human form within Asian mythology; emperors are fabled to be a personification of dragons or have dragon blood flowing within them. More often than not, serpents are a genus of dragons in Chinese mythology. They are said to actually be a form of nagas found within Hinduism and Buddhism. Due to their similar appearances, some claim Chinese dragons to actually be derived from nagas, though various sources argue whether this is true or not.
Zhang Liao's original outfit for Dynasty Warriors 7 is a baseball uniform. According to the characters printed on it, he plays for "Fenghuang University". The fenghuang is a legendary bird found within Chinese mythology. It is often used to symbolize Wei throughout the series, an alternate way of representing his loyalties to the empire. The H icon on his cap is due to the Japanese pronunciation for the mystic bird, "houoh".
His personal item in the Asian ports of Warriors Orochi is Bai Ma Piang, a famous poem composed by Cao Zhi. The poem surrounds a brave warrior who wholeheartedly dedicates himself to his country. According to a claim made by Gu Zhi, a Qing Dynasty Hakka scholar, the central figure in the composition was possibly Zhang Liao. He alleged that the poem may be based on the general during Cao Cao's subjugation of the Wuhuan in 207.
- Michael McConnohie - Dynasty Warriors 4~5, Warriors Orochi (English-uncredited)
- Roger Craig Smith - Dynasty Warriors 6~8, Warriors Orochi 2 (English-uncredited)
- Joshua Tomar - Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends (English)
- Randy Thompson - Dynasty Warriors 9 (English)
- R. Martin Klein - Dynasty Tactics 2 (English-uncredited)
- Paul St. Peter - Kessen II (English-uncredited)
- Chris Tergliafera - Romance of the Three Kingdoms: The Legend of Cao Cao (English-uncredited)
- Martial Le Minoux - Dynasty Warriors 4 (French-uncredited)
- Yu Zhaomin - Dynasty Warriors 3 (Chinese)
- Jinliang Sun - Dynasty Warriors 9 (Chinese)
- Yu Heamu - Dynasty Warriors 2 (Korean)
- Lee Gyoo Seok - Dynasty Warriors 3 (Korean)
- Kim Gwang-Kook - Dynasty Warriors 4~5 (Korean)
- Seo Won Seok - Dynasty Warriors: Unleashed (Korean)
- Cho Nagyun - Romance of the Three Kingdoms: The Legend of Cao Cao (Korean)
- Naoki Kinoshita - Dynasty Warriors 2 (Japanese)
- Hirofumi Tanaka - Dynasty Warriors 3~8, Warriors Orochi series (Japanese)
- Ryōtarō Okiayu - Dynasty Tactics series (Japanese)
- Hideyuki Tanaka - Kessen II (Japanese), Romance of the Three Kingdoms drama CDs
- Katsuyuki Konishi - Sangokushi Legion
Live Action Performers
- Hiroki Tagawa - Butai Shin Sangoku Musou Kanto no Tatakai
- See also: Zhang Liao/Quotes
- "This result is fascinating for a warrior. I look forward to leaping towards higher boundaries when next we meet."
- "Ohh... So, it will change all the land? This principle that you seek? Tell me, what will happen with the common people? Is this principal just for the strong?"
- "Don't you see? Most of us believe that the common people lack any strength. What would happen if the idea that common people are without strenth was overturned? Think of it."
- "There would be no more nobles, and no commoners. So you say that everyone would have an equal chance to prove themselves? Equality for everyone. I see. A worthy pursuit. And one that I am willing to fight for!"
- ~~Zhang Liao and Sima Yi; Dynasty Warriors 6
- "Your skills are no match for me! I'll help Master Sun Ce realize his dream at any cost!"
- "What refreshing impudence... Very well, let's see how bold you are when the "cost" is your life!"
- ~~Taishi Ci and Zhang Liao; Dynasty Warriors 6: Special
- "Tell me, what will you do after your skills have reached their peak?"
- "Hmm... I haven't really thought that far ahead. Self-improvement itself is my greatest goal."
- "I see. Spoken like the true warrior you are."
- ~~Guan Yu and Zhang Liao; Dynasty Warriors 7
- "Your offensive might is without equal. I doubt any could withstand your assault."
- "No, there is still much I can learn. But your defense, Master Cao Ren, is second to none."
- "Defense alone does not always prevail in battle. I need to brush up on my offensive techniques a bit as well."
- "Well then, let us fight together as the shield and blade of this battlefield. Together, we will be unbeatable."
- ~~Cao Ren and Zhang Liao; Dynasty Warriors 8
- "Master Lu Bu betrayed and killed his father Master Ding Yuan! There is no honor left in this world of chaos!"
- "You worry too much, Zhang Liao! No mercy, no emotions are required by this new world! Just live as you please! Ding Yuan was talking garbage about gathering men to support the Emperor. He was in my way, no doubt about it!"
- "Hold on! Could it be that it was Master Dong Zhuo's hand that led Master Lu Bu to betray Master Ding Yuan?"
- "Muwahaha! Lu Bu, you fool, acting just as I wanted you to. I can move these muscle-heads around like game pieces!"
- "This world of plots and ploys means you can never know when enemy weapons will find you. Take care, Master Dong Zhuo."
- ~~Zhang Liao and Dong Zhuo; Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers
- "War is ecstasy..."
- "A man after my own heart!"
- ~~Kenshin and Zhang Liao; Warriors Orochi
- "You and Guan Yu are pals, right? Right?"
- "I could not say. Our relationship is not a simple one."
- ~~Gracia and Zhang Liao; Warriors Orochi 2
- "Zhang Liao. How about creating a few cracks in that grim, ironclad exterior of yours?"
- "Cracks...? Hey, let go of my beard! What do you think you're doing?!"
- "This is what I'm talking about... You need to loosen up a little. There's no way the kids will warm up to you if you go around looking like that."
- ~~Sakon and Zhang Liao; Warriors Orochi 3
- "Master Zhang Liao. You once called me the strongest in my world. I now return that sentiment to you."
- "You do?"
- "You are worthy of the title of mightiest warrior. I've come to this realization as we've fought together on the battlefield."
- "You are overstating things. I'm still far from the skills of Master Lu Bu and Master Guan Yu. Please, do not build me up too high."
- "That integrity, that humility! You are a true warrior indeed. If that's your wish, though, I will say no more of it. Just know that I believe it."
- ~~Tadakatsu and Zhang Liao; Warriors Orochi 4
- "So you are the famed Zhang Liao. Tell me, why does a man of your obvious skill serve a man like Lu Bu?"
- "I serve him in my quest to attain True Might. There is no doubt you can instill in me."
- "True Might is that which can swallow this land whole. What good is might if you cannot do that?"
- "Then I shall prove to you that True Might is with our lord!"
- ~~Cao Cao and Zhang Liao; Dynasty Tactics 2
- See also: Zhang Liao/Movesets
Dynasty Warriors 9
|Keys:||Flow Attack •||Reactive Attack •||Musou •||Jump/Mount|
Zhang Liao is affiliated with the twin axes in this appearance.
- Unique Flow Attack:
- Unique Trigger Attack ( R1 + ):
- Special Technique (R1 + ):
- Musou ():
- Aerial Musou ( + ):
- See also: Zhang Liao/Weapons
Dynasty Warriors 8
Zhang Liao still uses the twin axes as his default weapon in this title.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms (novel)
Zhang Liao is first introduced in the novel as one of Dong Zhuo's generals, though he does not play any major role until Lü Bu kills his lord and begins wandering around the land. While aiding Liu Bei, Zhang Liao meets and befriends Guan Yu. During the Battle at Xiapi, Zhang Liao was initially meant to be stationed outside the city alongside Gao Shun, but both were recalled when Lü Bu refused Chen Gong's strategy of having them guard the city's outskirts.
After Xiapi's defeat, Zhang Liao was brought forward to Cao Cao alongside Gao Shun, Chen Gong and Lü Bu. While Gao and Chen were executed, Lü offered his services to Cao as a way to escape execution. Zhang, however, took offense to his lord's conduct and angrily requested for him to meet death with honor. After Lü is escorted to the execution grounds, Cao Cao personally unties Zhang, who is also vouched for by Guan Yu. Zhang Liao then serves as one of Cao Cao's leading generals thereafter.
Zhang Liao and Xu Chu later act as Cao Cao's messengers when he wishes to visit Liu Bei's vegetable garden. Once Liu Bei betrays Cao Cao and forms an alliance with Yuan Shao, Zhang Liao spearheads the attack on Xiapi, which is guarded by Guan Yu. During the siege, Guan was lured out of the castle, and Xiapi was taken while he was distracted. As he was determined to fight to the death, Zhang Liao was sent to negotiate with him instead.
Zhang initially confirmed his friend's wish to resist to the last, but admonished him for committing grave mistakes. The first was his failure to bring order to the Han Dynasty, which has fallen from grace ever since the Yellow Turban Rebellion; the second being his failure in protecting Liu Bei's family and Xiapi as a vassal; and the third being his failure to uphold the peach garden oath, should he die there. Zhang then offered his friend the alternative of only serving Cao Cao temporarily until he could return to Liu Bei.
Once Zhang Liao returned, he expressed the three conditions for Guan's surrender, that Liu Bei's family is not mistreated during their stay, that he serves the emperor and the Han government, not Cao Cao, and that he will return to Liu Bei once he knows of his lord's whereabouts. Zhang would successfully convince his lord to accept the third condition, citing that Guan Yu, as a man bound by honor, could be induced to stay further if given enough kindness and hospitality.
During the campaign against Yuan Shao, Zhang Liao accompanied Xu Huang in chasing the defeated Wen Chou, however, both were defeated by him, and Guan Yu would later claim the enemy general's head instead. After the defeat in Guandu, Yuan Shao amassed a second army and moved for Cangting instead. Zhang Liao would be a part of Cheng Yu's infamous "ambush from all sides" which eventually decimated Yuan's remaining chances at the central plains.
Before the battle of Cangting, Guan Yu attempted to leave Cao Cao's service, hearing that his sworn brother had escaped Yuan Shao's waterloo. Although it was reported that Guan Yu had slain various pass guards and was now engaged with Xiahou Dun, Zhang Liao arrived as Cao Cao's messenger to personally allow Guan passage through the final gate.
When Cao Cao turned his attention further north against the Yuan brothers, Zhang Liao accompanied his lord to battle against the barbarians of Tadun, who attempted to aid Yuan Shang and Yuan Xi. Zhang later swooped forward and took Tadun's head, forcing the brothers to flee to Liaodong, where they eventually met their end. With the northern front secured, Cao Cao turned his attention south to the Jiangdong region.
At his lord's side at Chibi, Zhang Liao could only watch as their fleet was destroyed by the enemy's fire attack. Accompanying his lord and Xu Chu, Zhang Liao rode on a small boat to reach shore. During their trip, Zhang also shot down Huang Gai, who attempted to pursue them. Meeting with Zhang He, Zhang Liao was later able to repulse the Sun forces that attempted to give chase on the shore. Advancing further, the group was later ambushed by Zhao Yun and Zhang Fei, Zhang Liao being held up fighting the latter while buying his lord some time to escape.
Zhang Liao, though wounded, was eventually able to rejoin his lord at Huarong. Zhang's plight would be the final straw to Guan Yu's sense of honor, and he eventually allowed the Cao troops to pass Huarong unharmed. After Chibi, Zhang Liao was stationed at Hefei alongside Yue Jin and Li Dian to guard the city against potential attacks from Sun Quan.
For their first battle at Hefei, Zhang duelled Taishi Ci evenly, but the Wu general was forced to withdraw when Yue Jin and Li Dian overwhelmed Sun Quan's guards. Despite their great victory, a fire broke out at the allied camp in Hefei from the work of Taishi Ci's spies. Zhang Liao personally exited his tent and addressed the men, instantly calming them down. He then executed Ge Ding, and lured Taishi Ci into an hail of arrows shortly after, killing the general.
Sun Quan would not be defeated so easily, and he later led a second expedition to the city in conjunction with Liu Bei's attack on Hanzhong. Zhang Liao attempted to ride out to aid the city of Huan, only to find Zhu Guang dead and the city in Sun's control. With no choice, Zhang opened a brocaded box containing special instructions from Cao Cao. The instructions directed Zhang and Li Dian to engage the enemy while Yue Jin remains inside the city. Despite being perplexed by the set of orders, Zhang Liao declared his intentions of following the orders and the wishes of the chancellor, spurring the other two into action.
With all three generals united, Zhang formulated the plan to have Yue Jin lure out the enemy vanguard, Li Dian destroy Xiaoshi bridge and for himself to ambush Sun Quan's unit. The plan was resoundingly successful, with Zhang Liao nearly claiming the enemy commander's head. Nonetheless, Sun Quan began amassing his troops once more at Ruxukou, forcing Zhang to request for more reinforcements.
After the battle of Ruxukou and the deaths of Cao Cao and Guan Yu, Zhang Liao accompanied Cao Pi in attacking Wu at Dongkou. During the battle, Ding Feng charged forward against his lord. Ding later fired an arrow, which hit Zhang in the waist. Though he was taken back to the camp, the wound was fatal, and Zhang died shortly after. Cao Pi gave the late general a large funeral.
- Zhang Liao's irrational yet fun nickname with Japanese Dynasty Warriors fans is "Yamada~!" (山田ああ!), which is a pun of one his battle cries during his True Musou in Dynasty Warriors 3, "You're intruding!" (邪魔だ!, Jamada!). It started due to the characteristic slur that the voice actor does while saying the line, making it sound like he's yelling at a person rather than saying a phrase. The name's popularity grew in more recent installments due to the voice actor's harsh delivery of the line.
- The second Blu-Ray/DVD original short for TV anime Kuragehime (Kuragehime Heroes Sono Ni Banba-san Jiji-sama no Maki) references the younger Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI portrait of Zhang Liao.
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