Netflix's 3 Body Problem Has A Massive Challenge For Season 2

How far into the future can 3 Body really go?

The sophons mirror our world in '3 Body Problem.'

The San-Ti are coming! Even though Netflix dropped all eight episodes of 3 Body Problem Season 1 on Netflix two weeks ago, the series has still not officially been picked up for Season 2. However, as pointed out by Forbes and other outlets, 3 Body Problem managed to become Netflix’s number one most-watched show in the first week of April. It’s a bit of a slow-burn climb, which feels appropriate for a slow-burn series. For some pundits, this news means that 3 Body could very well get greenlit for a costly Season 2, and perhaps, could put the creative team of Alexander Woo, David Benioff, and D.B. Weiss in a good position to adapt all three novels into a multi-season arc.

There’s just one catch. If 3 Body Problem remains remotely faithful to the arc of the novels, Season 2 will be almost nothing like Season 1. Spoilers ahead.

Although 3 Body Problem Season 1 combines elements from all three of Cixin Liu’s novels, all of those events take place either in the recent past (the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s) or in what is roughly present day. But, Season 2 can’t be like that at all. Not only will the show need to jump into the near future by about five years, but it will also need to travel at least 200 years past that point.

The hibernation effect

Can Wade and Jin end-up centuries into the future?


3 Body Season 1 made it clear that even though that poor monkey got a little sick, the sleeper tech was viable enough to put key people in hibernation for decades, or even centuries. Wade tells Jin he’ll use this process to check up on various efforts well into the future, but this technology is also available for the Wallfacers, including Saul. In the second book, The Dark Forest, a character named Luo Ji, hibernates for 200 years, and in that future, manages to force the Trisolorians (San-Ti in the show) into a truce.

In the Netflix 3 Body, the analog for Luo Ji is Saul, so, in Season 2, we’d have to see Saul head into the future. But, once that happens, several of the characters from Season 1, specifically Auggie, might be left behind forever.

The distant future

Saul’s journey will take him at least 200 years into the future. But will we see it?


On top of the idea that Season 2 will have to send Saul 200 years into the future, 3 Body faces an even bigger challenge if it gets to the events of the third book, Death’s End, either in Season 2 or Season 3. At that point, we’ll have to pick up on the story of Yun Tianming — who is Will Downing in the show. 3 Body Season 1 ends with Will’s brain (just like Yun’s in the book) getting launched on a probe to intercept the San-Ti fleet, who are roughly 400 years away. The idea is that the San-Ti will have the ability to reconstruct Will’s body, which actually does happen in the third book, with the character of Yun Tianming.

But, at that point, you’ve got massive spaceships, and a storyline that pushes not just hundreds of years into the future, but thousands. By that point, the storyline will deal not only with the San-Ti, but other unseen hostile aliens who are capable of destroying stars. For the series, that will mean we’ll need to see all of humanity evacuating Earth, and trying to live in colonies near the outer planets. And the end of the entire book series will take place in a a pocket universe.

So, compared to the relatively straightforward Season 1, in which there’s basically one mystery in the present — why are scientists committing suicide? — future seasons will have to feel like an entirely different series. 3 Body Problem was smart to keep things grounded for Season 1. But, if the show keeps going, the scope will make these eight epic episodes seem very small.

3 Body Problem is streaming on Netflix.

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