Zhang Fei is Liu Bei and Guan Yu's youngest oath brother. He has a daughter called Xing Cai. He is one of the Five Tiger Generals of Shu who is said to wield the strength of 10,000 men on the battlefield. Though devoted to his brothers, he has bad drinking habits and a nasty temper when he's drunk.
In Dynasty Warriors Online, he is 27 years old. His height is 190 cm (close to 6'3").
Zhang Fei is a loud and brash man who thrives in a brawl. Stubborn and prideful, he never wants to turn his back on the enemy and is easily motivated into anger. He displays a wider range of emotions than his brothers as he's known to be cheerful one moment and deeply sadden in the next. Though his judgment may be questionable, his heart is in the right place and he usually knows when to be practical. He likes being in the spotlight if his brothers allows it. His loyalty to Liu Bei sometimes blinds him from trusting others as he is quick to criticize newcomers that his brother welcomes.
Though a menace on the battlefield, Zhang Fei is deeply tied to his family. He is fiercely loyal to his oath brothers and wouldn't hesitate to lay down his life for them. Out of the trio, he is the one who will most likely remark and joke about his brothers' serious behavior. He tells them to call him Fei (or by his style name in the Japanese script and "third brother"/"youngest brother" in the Asian script) and usually addresses them as "Brother". The Warriors Orochi series also reveals that he's a caring worrywart over his daughter's safety. This same trait follows him in Kessen II except he also goes into a boiling rage at the mere mention of his daughters being in danger.
Zhang Fei's characteristic appearance in Three Kingdoms fiction may draw inspiration from his description inSanguozhi Pinghua or Romance of the Three Kingdoms. In the first account, he was born with a leopard-like face and round eyes. Stretched across his sparrow-like jaw was his tiger-like beard. Zhang Fei towered over others at a height of nine chi (approximately three meters or ten feet in modern conversions) and had a muscled imposing stature. Romance of the Three Kingdoms describes him as standing a little shorter (approximately 266 cm or 8'9" in modern conversions) and roughly follows the Sanguozhi Pinghua account. Two prominent features different from the former story is his voice booming like thunder and his spirit matching a raging horse.
His trademark weapon in Three Kingdoms media is the shemao, commonly translated as "Snake Lance" or "Serpent Lance". Specifically, Zhang Fei's version is named after its archaic height listed in Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which is over four meters or thirteen feet in modern conversions. Accounts regarding the length of the weapon vary, as it sometimes is told to be much longer than the novel's description. It acts as Zhang Fei's Level 11, third, fourth, and Standard weapon in the Dynasty Warriors series; his skill chart in the sixth installment is roughly shaped in its image. Zhang Fei received the weapon in the novel after reciting the oath with his brothers. An interesting variation of its origins is told in the Sanguozhi Pinghua, in which the spear is a literal serpent. When Liu Bei stayed in Qian'an, he and his brothers accepted the request to rid of a giant serpent terrorizing travelers in the nearby mountain path. Zhang Fei volunteered himself to deal with the beast alone. During the chilly night, as he was warming wine for comfort, the serpent appeared to attack him. After a long struggle, the warrior armed only with his sword and his raw strength successfully killed the monster. Upon its death, the giant serpent's body hardened to form the magnificent shape of the shemao. As a side note, the other famous wielder of the sameshemao is Lin Chong from Water Margin, who looks similar to Zhang Fei.
The shemao acting as Zhang Fei's fourth weapon is additionally named after a star within the Big Dipper, Alkaid also known as Benetnash. Within Chinese history, the star is called Pojun or Yaoguang. According to myths and legends, Zhuge Liang relied on divinations of the star while performing his campaigns. If troops happened to face the direction or flow of energy emitting from the star, the campaign was doomed to fail. Turning their back to the star was a sign of unconditional victory. The idea of "heaven being on his side" is related to favorable conditions surrounding the star, said to have been responsible for his many alleged victories. In Japan, Shingen is fabled to have performed a similar rite for his strategies.
Zhang Fei and Guan Yu joined Liu Bei's militia against the Yellow Turbans near the end of the 2nd century AD. Soon, he became Liu Bei's bodyguard, and grew as a friend as close as a brother to Liu Bei and Guan Yu, so much that the three often slept on the same bed. However, the famous Peach Garden Oath never occurred.
During Liu Bei's retreat at the Battle of Changbanpo, Zhang Fei along with twenty cavalries, demolished a bridge to slow Cao Cao's pursuit. Zhang Fei general stood beside the bridge and shouted in challenge at the opposing army, but not one enemy dared to move against him. Zhang Fei destroyed the bridge, allotting Liu Bei more time to escape.
When Liu Bei led a campaign against Yi province, Zhang Fei was commanded to attack Jiangzhou, where he captured Yan Yan. Because of Zhang Fei's insults, Yan Yan condemned him for invading. Originally, the latter was ordered for an execution by an angered Zhang Fei, though Yan Yan's fearlessness considering an impending death impressed Fei enough so much that the execution order was revoked.
Zhang Fei resisted attacks by Zhang He, a general of Cao Cao, after the capture of Yi province. Zhang Fei led a force upon Hanzhong, yet failed. Liu Bei annexed the area, and Zhang Fei was considered by many for a proper choice for the administrator. However, he was left in disappointed when the position was granted to Wei Yan.
After the official formation of the Shu and Wei dynasties, Zhang Fei was preparing to lead ten thousand men to join Liu Bei's campaign to avenge Guan yu. However, two men in Zhang Fei's camp, Zhang Da and Fan Jiang, assassinated him in his sleep and carried his head off to Sun Quan.
Historically, Zhang Fei did not whip the court official when drunk in Anxi, and was not intoxicated at the time. Also, he did not kill Cao Bao for drinking, or shouted at Xiahou Jie to cause his death during the battle of Changbanpo. Compared to the novel, Zhang Fei was a skilled military leader and more intelligent.
In the novel, Zhang Fei's style name is written as 翼德 in Chinese instead of 益德. In the first chapter, at the Oath of the Peach Garden, he became sworn brothers with Liu Bei and Guan Yu, and was the youngest of the three. He also became one of the Five Tiger Generals of Shu in a later chapter.
Zhang Fei was also described to be an alcoholic, and his obsession with wine caused his judgement to be affected from time to time. For example, once in a drunken rage, he thrashed an arrogant and corrupt inspector who attempted to extort bribes from Liu Bei. On another occasion, he beat up Cao Bao when Cao refused to drink. Cao Bao later plotted with Lü Bu to take over Xiapi and Zhang Fei lost the city as he was drunk and unable to fight back.
Zhang Fei's most heroic moment in the novel was at the Battle of Changban, where he held off a large group of enemy troops alone. While waiting at the Changban Bridge, he ordered his men to attach logs to their horses and run around in the forest behind him, churning up dust so as to create an illusion that there was an ambush inside. Zhang Fei spotted Zhao Yun approaching with the infant Liu Shan and promised to cover Zhao's escape. When Cao Cao's troops arrived, Zhang Fei stood on the bridge alone, glared and pointed his spear, shouting, "I'm Zhang Yide of Yan. Anyone dares to come and fight me to the death?" Zhang Fei's thunderous voice instilled fear in them and scared Xiahou Jie to death. As Zhang Fei expected, the enemy feared an ambush after seeing the dust in the forest behind him and retreated.
Throughout the novel, Zhang Fei was shown as an exceedingly loyal and formidable warrior, but also a short-tempered man, who often got into trouble more often when he was not on the battlefield. Zhang Fei's impulsive and reckless nature was demonstrated in one incident at Gucheng. Guan Yu was forced to surrender to Cao Cao after being separated from Liu Bei at the battle of Xu Province. He left Cao Cao after learning of Liu Bei's whereabouts and rushed to reunite with Liu. When Zhang Fei met Guan Yu, he refused to believe that Guan did not renounce his loyalty to Liu Bei, and fought with Guan without giving the latter any chance to explain himself. The misunderstanding was eventually resolved after the brief fight and the three sworn brothers were reunited.
There was greater drama in Zhang Fei's death in the novel. Zhang Fei was deeply grieved after hearing that Guan Yu had been executed on Sun Quan's order and he swore to avenge his sworn brother. He ordered his subordinates Fan Qiang and Zhang Da to prepare mourning attire for his troops within three days, but they failed to meet the deadline. He was enraged and he beat them up in anger and threatened to have them executed. Fan Qiang and Zhang Da decided to assassinate Zhang Fei and defect to Sun Quan's side. They approached him while he was asleep and saw that his eyes were open even though he was snoring loudly. They hastily plunged a dagger into Zhang Fei and cut off his head before fleeing to Sun Quan's territory with his head.
Liu Bei fainted in shock when he heard of Zhang Fei's death and was greatly saddened, which hardened his decision to attack Sun Quan. Sun Quan attempted to appease Liu Bei and he had Fan Qiang and Zhang Da bound and sent to Liu. Zhang Fei's son, Zhang Bao, personally executed his father's murderers.