3 Body Problem: Here's why the Netflix characters are different from the book

22 March 2024, 17:36

Meet the cast of 3-body problem

Katie Louise Smith

By Katie Louise Smith

"What we are hoping to do is to convey the experience — if not necessarily the exact details — of the novel onto the screen."

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Wondering why Netflix's adaptation of 3 Body Problem has changed several key characters and locations? Here's your explanation.

3 Body Problem is an adaptation of author Cixin Liu's critically acclaimed book series. The book, originally released in 2007, has been adapted for Chinese audiences in the past, but the Netflix series is the first time it's been adapted for English-speaking audiences.

As a result, there's understandably been a few major changes, from character tweaks, expansions and additions, to location changes, and chronological shifts.

Speaking to TUDUM, the three creators, David Benioff, D. B. Weiss and Alexander Woo explained why some of the characters and locations are different from the books.

WARNING: Potential spoilers ahead for 3 Body Problem!

READ MORE: 3 Body Problem cast: All the characters explained and who plays them

Here's why the 3 Body Problem characters are different than the books
Here's why the 3 Body Problem characters are different than the books. Picture: Netflix

The trio spoke to 3 Body Problem author Cixin Liu over Zoom early in their creative process, and were given his blessing to adapt his work. He encouraged them to make necessary narrative changes.

"We have a tremendous love and respect for the books," Benioff said. "You can’t devote every waking moment of your life for years on end to adapt a piece of work that you don’t love. So it’s very important to us that the show stand on its own two legs and work for people who have read the books — and for people who haven’t read the books."

Woo added: "The experience of watching a television series is different from watching a feature film, [which] is so different from the experience of reading a novel. What we are hoping to do is to convey the experience — if not necessarily the exact details — of the novel onto the screen."

"What stayed, we hope, is the sense of wonderment and the sense of scope, of scale, where the problems are no longer just the problems of an individual or even a nation, but of an entire species."

Watch the trailer for 3 Body Problem on Netflix

Characters such as Ye Wenjie, Mike Evans and Da Shi (named Clarence in the Netflix series) remain the same as they do in the books, but the most notable character change in Netflix's 3 Body Problem involves the 'Oxford Five'.

The key group of scientists are essentially new characters who each contain elements of the book's main protagonist, Wang Miao.

In the original book, the contemporary timeline's protagonist is Wang Miao, a nanotech professor. He discovers the VR game, and also experiences hallucinations and visions of the countdown.

In the TV show, this character has seemingly been split between the Oxford Five, with both Jin and Auggie taking on the two key elements of his narrative. Auggie is the nanotech expert who has the countdown visions, while Jin is the one who discovers and attempts to solve the mysterious VR game.

Elsewhere, the present-day scenes in the show take place in England, with London and Oxford University serving as the two main backdrops alongside flashback scenes in China. The book is set almost entirely in China.

In the book, the alien civilisation travelling to earth are called the Trisolarans. In the show, they're called the San-Ti.

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