3 Body Problem (TV series)

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

3 Body Problem
Created by
Based onThe Three-Body Problem
by Liu Cixin
Music byRamin Djawadi
Country of originUnited States
Original languages
  • English
  • Chinese
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes8
Executive producers
  • Steve Kullback
  • Hameed Shaukat
  • Katie Weiland
  • Simon Smith
  • Michael Ruscio
  • Anna Hauger
Running time44–63 minutes
Production companies
Original release
ReleaseMarch 21, 2024 (2024-03-21)

3 Body Problem is an American science fiction television series created by David Benioff, D. B. Weiss and Alexander Woo, based on the Hugo Award–winning Chinese novel The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin. It is the second live-action adaptation after the 2023 Chinese television series.

The series premiered on Netflix with eight episodes on March 21, 2024, and received positive reviews.


Ye Wenjie, an astrophysicist who sees her father beaten to death during a struggle session in the Chinese Cultural Revolution, is conscripted by the military. Due to her scientific background she is sent to a secret military base in a remote region. Her decision at the base to respond to contact from an alien planet implicates a group of scientists in the present day, forcing them to confront humanity's greatest threat.

Cast and characters





No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
1"Countdown"Derek TsangDavid Benioff & D. B. Weiss & Alexander WooMarch 21, 2024 (2024-03-21)
In 1960s China during the Cultural Revolution, Ye Wenjie witnesses her father's death in a struggle session. At a work camp, she's given a copy of Silent Spring, only for it to be discovered. She is transferred to a remote station with a large radio telescope dish where she figures out the station's purpose as an off-world transmission hub. In present day UK, Oxford physicist Vera Ye (the daughter of Ye Wenjie) dies by suicide. A group of Vera's former physics students — Auggie Salazar, Jack Rooney, Jin Cheung, Saul Durand, and Will Downing — discuss how recent experiments have stopped making sense. Clarence "Da" Shi, a British investigator working for the Strategic Intelligence Agency, investigates multiple scientist suicides. He discovers that several of them possessed an advanced virtual reality gaming headset. Ye Wenjie offers Vera's VR headset to physicist Jin. Auggie, a materials scientist, starts seeing a countdown timer in front of her eyes. An unknown woman (later revealed as Tatiana) informs Auggie she must abandon her nanofiber research to make the countdown stop. To validate the ultimatum, she tells Auggie to watch the sky tomorrow during midnight. Auggie and Saul, along with the rest of the world, witness the night sky flashing a pattern corresponding to her countdown timer, violating all known laws of physics.
2"Red Coast"Derek TsangRose CartwrightMarch 21, 2024 (2024-03-21)
In 1970s China, Ye Wenjie continues work at the
pacifist in a hostile alien civilization, warning her not to contact them again as it will prompt an invasion. Disillusioned, she replies anyway, claiming humanity cannot save itself and she will assist the invading aliens. In the present day, Auggie's countdown continues. After a successful demonstration of her nanofiber technology, she frantically orders the project shuttered, after which her countdown stops. Using the VR headset, Jin advances through the 3 Body video game. She shows the headset to Jack, only for the interface to swiftly reject him. Later, a similar headset is delivered to his home with an invitation to play the game. Will confides in Jack that he is dying of pancreatic cancer
3"Destroyer of Worlds"Andrew StantonAlexander WooMarch 21, 2024 (2024-03-21)
In the present, Auggie discovers Jack's gaming headset and tries it on, only to be violently ejected. Distraught, she demands Jin and Jack stop playing, but they press on. When Auggie powers up her nanofiber project, the countdown returns and she again hastily shuts the project down. Within the game, Jin and Jack collaborate and complete levels 2 and 3. It is revealed the headset is actually a recruitment tool used by Mike Evans, who is now a wealthy oil tycoon and has been communicating regularly with the aliens. Level 4 takes place in the real world; Jack and Jin meet Tatiana, who does not appear on any surveillance cameras. In the game, they are shown the alien civilization's evolution in a star system containing a three body problem four light years away and their subsequent departure for Earth. Jack rejects this narrative, asks to leave. He is allowed to, but is later murdered at his house by Tatiana. Neither Clarence, who's staking out Jack's house, nor any of the 18 interior security cameras even sense Tatiana's presence.
4"Our Lord"Minkie SpiroMadhuri ShekarMarch 21, 2024 (2024-03-21)
In 1985, somewhere in the North Atlantic, Evans introduces Ye Wenjie — now a professor at a Chinese university — to his ship Judgment Day, which contains advanced satellite technology used to communicate with the aliens, who are called San-Ti (Trisolarans). In 2024, following Jack's murder, Thomas Wade (Clarence's superior) and Clarence enlist Jin's help in infiltrating Evans' secret organization to collect intelligence. Under Wade and Clarence's guidance, Jin attends a secret countryside meeting where Ye Wenjie reveals herself to be its leader and that the purpose of the Earth-Trisolaris movement is to help the San-Ti arrive and take over the Earth. British security forces raid the meeting. After realizing Jin is a spy, Tatiana attempts to assassinate her, sparking a shootout. Tatiana escapes but Ye Wenjie and most of the cultists are captured. Meanwhile, Evans tells the story of Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf to a San-Ti liaison. However, the San-Ti struggle to understand the concept of fiction. The liaison chillingly interprets the story as a testament to human deception and claims they cannot coexist with humanity.
5"Judgment Day"Minkie SpiroDavid Benioff & D. B. WeissMarch 21, 2024 (2024-03-21)
Clarence interrogates Ye Wenjie, who claims the San-Ti allowed her to be captured because she is no longer useful to them. Evans' ship, Judgment Day, is scheduled to go through the Panama Canal. Wade enlists Auggie and a Royal Navy team — headed by Raj, Jin's boyfriend — to obtain the data onboard. Auggie's nanofibers are used in an ambush to horizontally slice through the ship, killing everyone aboard, including Evans. Wade's team locates the data disk and tries to decrypt it, which the San-Ti allow. Wade plays Ye Wenjie the recording of the San-Ti's confusion over humanity's ability to lie. Jin and Wade open a file in the data disk using the VR headsets. They learn the San-Ti are using high-dimensional proton-supercomputers, called Sophons, to cause the anomalous effects observed in particle accelerators. The San-Ti liaison details how the San-Ti intend to cripple Earth's scientific advancement, preventing humans from technologically surpassing them by the time of their arrival. Shortly after, all electronic devices around the world display the message "YOU ARE BUGS." A Sophon envelops the world, forming a giant eye on its body, revealing the existence and power of the San-Ti to the world.
6"The Stars Our Destination"Minkie SpiroAlexander WooMarch 21, 2024 (2024-03-21)
The "Eye in the Sky" incident causes worldwide panic. Wade and the PDC (Planetary Defense Council) gather a group of experts to discuss how to intercept the San-Ti fleet. It is established that if a probe were to reach at least 1% light speed, it would intercept the incoming ships in 398 years, giving Earth two years' advance knowledge. Jin proposes the Staircase Project, using a thousand nuclear bombs as propulsion sources for a probe with radiation sails. Based on Raj's performance in Panama, he is granted permission to join the PDC. Auggie, repulsed by the deadly use of her nanofibers against Judgment Day, becomes depressed and reluctant to further assist the PDC. Clarence asks Ye Wenjie why Vera Ye committed suicide, to which she responds that Vera discovered her mother's dealings with the San-Ti through Ye Wenjie's correspondence with Evans. Clarence releases Ye Wenjie and assigns an officer to keep track of her whereabouts. Due to his illness and medication, Will hallucinates and reflects on his unrequited love towards Jin. As a result, he visits The Stars our Destination Foundation to purchase the star DX3906 for her.
7"Only Advance"Jeremy PodeswaDavid Benioff & D. B. WeissMarch 21, 2024 (2024-03-21)
The ownership certificate of star DX3906 is sent anonymously to Jin. Wade demonstrates cryogenic technology to PDC members, reviving a chimpanzee who had been in cryo-sleep. He plans to enter cryo-sleep himself to be present when the San-Ti arrive in 400 years, stating that humanity can "Only advance." Due to insufficient nuclear bombs for use as propulsion, the maximum payload of the interstellar probe will only be enough to hold a human brain. Auggie makes her nanofiber research public and leaves the country. Given Will's imminent death from cancer, Wade suggests he fill the candidacy as the brain in the Staircase Project. Ye Wenjie meets with Saul and attempts to pass on her knowledge about cosmic sociology in the form of a joke that the San-Ti will have difficulty deciphering, saying "Don't play with God." Will consents to the Staircase Project and euthanizes himself with Saul at his side. Jin, discovering DX3906 was a gift from Will, rushes to the hospital only to find his brain has already been extracted. Ye Wenjie flies back to China and visits the Red Coast dish site, where she encounters Tatiana, who kills her on orders from the San-Ti.
8"Wallfacer"Jeremy PodeswaDavid Benioff & D. B. WeissMarch 21, 2024 (2024-03-21)
After a one-night stand, Saul's lover is hit by an errant car and dies in front of him. Clarence's investigation reveals that it was a San-Ti assassination attempt, with Saul as the intended victim. Saul is taken into protective custody and flown to the United Nations, where the Wallfacer Project is announced. Saul is selected as one of three Wallfacers who are each tasked to develop a plan to defeat the San-Ti contained entirely within their own minds, as the San-Ti are unable to read minds. Saul tries to reject his position and leaves the UN, only to be shot by a sniper. He is unharmed thanks to his bulletproof clothing and reconsiders why the San-Ti want him dead. Wade and Jin oversee the Staircase Project, where Will's cryogenically frozen brain is launched into space, in hope that the San-Ti will intercept and reconstruct his body with it. Shortly after the detonation sequence starts, the sail malfunctions and sends the probe off course. The San-Ti liaison taunts Wade for his failure. Clarence takes a despondent Jin and similarly depressive Saul to see a swarm of cicadas, insects that have survived despite humanity's decades-long attempts to eradicate them, implying humanity has the same resilience.



It was announced in September 2020 that David Benioff and D. B. Weiss were developing a television adaptation of the novel at Netflix, with Alexander Woo co-writing alongside them.[5] Although a second season has yet to be confirmed, they have said they plan to adapt the whole trilogy, which would likely include three or more seasons.[6][7][8]

On December 25, 2020, Lin Qi, founder of Yoozoo Games and an executive producer on 3 Body Problem, died after ingesting a poisoned beverage,[9] with four others becoming ill.[10] An executive at Yoozoo Games, Xu Yao, was sentenced to death for murder in March 2024, the day after the series premiered on Netflix.[9] Lin had purchased the rights to the book franchise and hired Xu Yao, a lawyer, in 2017, to manage the rights to Liu's novels; the poisonings were an attempt by Yao to take control of the subsidiary company that owned the rights to the series.[11]


In August 2021, Eiza González entered negotiations to join the cast.[12] The same month, Derek Tsang was hired to direct the pilot episode.[13] González would be confirmed as joining the cast by that October, with additional castings including Benedict Wong, Tsai Chin, John Bradley, Liam Cunningham and Jovan Adepo.[14] In June 2022, Jonathan Pryce, Rosalind Chao, Ben Schnetzer and Eve Ridley were added to cast.[15]


Production on the series began on November 8, 2021, with principal photography taking place in the United Kingdom.[16] Filming took place in London over a nine month shoot between October 2021 and mid 2022.[17]

At Netflix's Tudum 2022 event, Alexander Woo, David Benioff, and D.B. Weiss announced that the production of the first season was completed.[18]


Promotional poster of the series.

3 Body Problem was released on March 21, 2024.[19] A companion podcast to be hosted by Jason Concepcion and Maggie Aderin-Pocock was also announced alongside it.[4] On January 10, 2024, SXSW Film & TV Festival announced 3 Body Problem as the Opening Night TV Premiere.[20]


Critical response

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported a 80% approval rating with an average rating of 6.8/10, based on 104 critic reviews. The website's critics' consensus reads, "Tackling its ambitious source material with impressive gusto, 3 Body Problem's first season proves a solid start that should leave sci-fi fans eager for more."[21] Metacritic assigned it a score of 70 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[22]

Cindy White of The A.V. Club gave the series a B+ and said, "It may wear the garb of prestige television, but underneath it's just a nerdy science-fiction show, with a healthy emphasis on the science."[23] Reviewing the series for USA Today, Kelly Lawler gave a rating of 3/4 and wrote, "Benioff, Weiss and Woo took a book trilogy known more for its thought experiments in philosophy and theoretical physics than its plot and made a solid bit of hard sci-fi that is (mostly) accessible to more casual fans of the genre."[24] Eric Deggans of NPR commented, "As the characters in 3 Body Problem lurch toward answers, we all get to bask in an ambitious narrative fueling an ultimately impressive tale. Just remember to be patient as the series sets the stage early on."[25] Wenlei Ma of The Nightly described the series as "Ambitious, towering and crammed with big ideas about intellectual curiosity, exploration and our place in the universe while still managing to tell intimate stories about human relationships."[26]

Ben Travers of IndieWire gave a critical review, writing that "3 Body Problem is a sprawling drag, at turns disorienting in its use of inconsistent CGI to convey the story's momentousness and aggravating in its approach to character development and existential quandaries. The plot is easy enough to track, but the relief of realizing you can keep up with this motley crew of scientist pals — as they try to figure out why so many of their peers are dying off — is short-lived."[27] Charles Pulliam-Moore of The Verge gave a mixed review, writing that "though David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, and Alexander Woo's 3 Body Problem is impressive, it really feels like just an introduction to Cixin Liu's deeper ideas." He opined that future seasons could explore the world of Liu's later novels.[28]

Response in China

3 Body Problem received a mixed response in China. While Netflix is outlawed there, viewers can use

VPNs to circumvent geo-restrictions, or view pirated versions.[29] According to The Guardian, the 3 Body Problem hashtag had been read 2.3 billion times and discussed 1.424 million times on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.[30] Viewers criticised the racebending and gender swapping of several protagonists, cultural appropriation, as well as the "dumbing-down" of concepts to appeal to non-Chinese audiences, and compared it unfavorably to the 2023 Chinese television adaptation, which received much critical acclaim there. Other Weibo users praised the Netflix series' depiction of the Cultural Revolution, fidelity to source material, and wider appeal to a global audience.[29][30] The Chinese film review website Mtszimu praised the Netflix adaptation as "not only a new interpretation of Liu Cixin's original work but also an important contribution to global science-fiction literature".[30] China Military Online, a state media outlet controlled by the People's Liberation Army, criticized the series because it kept Chinese antagonists while doing away with the book's portrayal of modern-day China.[31]

In response to social media criticism about racebending, cast member Benedict Wong said that Liu had given the showrunners his blessing to move the story towards a global one. Wong also cited the presence of several Asian cast members including himself, Jess Hong, Rosalind Chao and Zine Tseng. Hong and Chao also said that the Netflix adaptation preserved the novel's depiction of the Cultural Revolution and its legacy. Hong said that the adaptation sought to "globalize a story that was very heavily Eastern-focused into a Western perspective, a global perspective. Because, we're all from different countries, for the actors, you get to pull in all of these brilliant storylines into one emotional core, which is quite brilliant."[32]

Aja Romano of Vox suggested that the media exaggerated Chinese social media nationalistic outrage against the Netflix show. And he found the Chinese audience "praising the show and criticizing it in equal parts", and shared many critical commentaries similar to the ones from the Western audience, underscoring that criticism of the show is universal.[33]

Depiction and interpretation

The 3 Body Problem contains a realistic depiction of the struggle session during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, which was met with divided opinions in China and the United States.[34][35] In an interview, David Benioff told Hollywood Reporter the show "isn't a commentary on cancel culture", but agreed the fiction has parallel with contemporary sociopolitical landscape.[35] Derek Tsang, the director of the first two episodes, was recruited due to his Chinese background to ensure the authenticity of the Cultural Revolution period. Tsang explained that the goal of the episode was to convince the audience to empathize with the protagonist, Ye Wenjie, and understand her motivation and position in the story.[36]

Joel Stein of The Hollywood Reporter noted the Cultural Revolution scene sparked split interpretations from

Wokism" and "far-left agenda", whereas the liberal viewers found the scenes as a warning to conservative-led antiscience, anti-vaccine activism, and regression on civil rights.[37]

See also

  • Three-body problem – a problem of mathematics and physics, as well as classical and quantum mechanics, regarding any three objects and the gravitational effects they may have on one another.


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External links