What to know before watching 3 Body Problem on Netflix

Game of Thrones co-creators bring an epic new sci-fi series to Netflix

John Bradley stars in Netflix's 3 Body Problem
Game of Thrones star John Bradley stars in 3 Body Problem. (Netflix)

Fans of head-scratchy sci-fi can rejoice as Game of Thrones co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are bringing exactly that to Netflix with their new series 3 Body Problem.

An adaptation of the bestselling book trilogy The Three-Body Problem by Chinese author Cixin Liu, the project sees the duo swap Westeros for (not so) plain old Earth working alongside co-creator Alexander Woo, a writer best known for his time on True Blood.

Together with director Derek Tsang, the team will attempt to bring Liu’s hugely ambitious and mind-bending tale of humanity’s past, present and future to the small screen with a cast of actors who will be familiar to fans of Benioff and Weiss’s time in George R.R Martin’s fantasy world.

Continue scrolling for a round-up of all the key details you’ll need before watching Netflix’s 3 Body Problem, including its plot, cast, trailers and more.

How can I watch 3 Body Problem?

Jess Hong as Jin Cheng in 3 Body Problem. (Netflix)
Jess Hong as Jin Cheng in 3 Body Problem. (Netflix)

3 Body Problem is available to watch exclusively on Netflix now. The series consists of eight episodes, all of which were released on Thursday, 21 March.

In addition to the series, fans looking for a deeper inspection of each episode’s secrets can tune into the show’s accompanying podcast hosted by scientist and educator Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock and TV fanatic Jason Concepcion.

In each instalment, the duo will dish out facts about the real science that inspired Liu’s high-concept world.

What are the reviews like?

Jess Hong and Rosalind Chao in 3 Body Problem
3 Body Problem has divided TV critics. (Netflix)

What do you do after you’ve just finished creating one of the most successful and critically acclaimed (for the most part) series of all time? Try to do it all again, obviously – only this time, with aliens.

That’s the general gist of Benioff and Weiss’s Three Body Problem, a show that seems to have delighted those who have caught early screenings.

The Guardian put their thoughts front and centre, saying the duo have “done it again.” While offering up a review that equals balances the show’s pros and cons, the outlet hit home the fact that its creators have once again “proved yet again that there is no such thing as an unfilmable novel.”

Our own write-up pointed to the show’s complexity, explaining that “the story itself is a conundrum all its own. It puts the science in science-fiction, and while mystery is the name of the game here early episodes are difficult to understand.”

The Independent agreed, saying “it’s difficult to even surmise the plot of 3 Body Problem within the ambit of a 400-word review,” calling it “a series that’s full of bluster but no vibrancy.”

Read more 3 Body Problem reviews below.

Yahoo Entertainment UK: Netflix’s would-be sci-fi epic is middling at best (4-min read)

The Guardian: The creators of Game of Thrones have done it again (4-min read)

The Independent: Game of Thrones creators return with dull, perplexing sci-fi for Netflix (2-min read)

Is there a trailer for 3 Body Problem?

The first full trailer for 3 Body Problem landed online in early 2024, just a few months ahead of the series’ official streaming date. In it, we’re lured inside a mystery involving dead scientists, an ominous countdown and an answer that may be linked to virtual reality, space, time and aliens.

Watch it below:

Before this full trailer boggled our brains we were treated to a smaller teaser released in June 2023.

Here, we glimpsed elements of a stylised past and dark and foreboding present... or was it all just part of a high-tech simulation?

What is 3 Body Problem about?

Three Body Problem. (Netflix)
3 Body Problem is streaming on Netflix now. (Netflix)

Originally written in Chinese, Liu’s The Three-Body Problem trilogy is an epic science fiction story that primarily revolves around humanity’s first brush with an advanced alien civilisation.

During its jump from the page to the small screen, Liu’s story has undergone some changes and tweaks to make it more appealing to wider Western audiences. However, Netflix assures us that the whole adaptation process was done with the author’s complete blessing in place.

It ultimately fell to Benioff, Weiss, True Blood screenwriter Woo and director Tsang to try and condense this huge story into eight episodes of compelling telly. As per the streamer’s official synopsis, the series will touch upon big ideas involving science, humanity and technology.

“The story begins in 1960s China when a young woman makes a fateful decision that reverberates across space and time into the present day,” says Netflix. “When the laws of nature inexplicably unravel, a tight-knit group of brilliant scientists must join forces with an unflinching detective to stop humanity’s greatest threat.

“3 Body Problem is an epic story that redefines sci-fi drama with its layered mysteries and story of human connection.”

Before bringing the show’s first two episodes to life, Tsang reportedly read Liu’s book in both English and its original Chinese to get a firmer grasp on how to best tell the story. Fans of the book will notice some changes including character amendments, differing locations, chronological tweaks and some small narrative additions.

Perhaps most notable is the fact that the series will take place largely in the UK instead of China but the show’s masterminds insist that these changes were made to make the series accessible to as many people as possible.

“We have a tremendous love and respect for the books,” explained Benioff. “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.”

Benioff and Weiss are no strangers to bringing sprawling works of literature to life having transformed Game of Thrones from a fantasy book series to one of TV’s biggest shows so Liu’s Three Body Problem should be in safe hands.

Who is starring in 3 Body Problem?

Three Body Problem. (Netflix)
The series is an adaptation of a book trilogy by Cixin Liu. (Netflix)

3 Body Problem features a diverse cast including some stars who may be familiar to you already and newcomers who may arrive fresh on the scene.

Doctor Strange star Benedict Wong plays Da Shi, an intelligence officer charged with unpicking the mysterious events at the heart of the show. Meanwhile, Rosalind Chao and new face Zine Tseng will both play astrophysics expert Ye Wenjie at different points in time. When Ye’s life is torn apart during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, she makes a decision that has an unlikely impact on space and time which is felt for centuries to come.

Elsewhere, the show will feature the Oxford Five, a group of young scientists that includes Jess Hong as theoretical physicist genius Jin Cheng, Jovan Adepo as physics researcher Saul Durand, Eiza González as nanotech expert Auggie Salazar, Game of Thrones star John Bradley as the abrasive physics boffin Jack Rooney and Alex Sharpe as sixth form teacher Will Downing.

Eiza González as Auggie Salazar in 3 Body Problem
Eiza González as Auggie Salazar in 3 Body Problem. (Netflix)

The show will also include appearances from former Game of Thrones stars Sir Jonathan Pryce as billionaire oil tycoon Mike Evans and Liam Cunningham as intelligence operation leader Wade.

Marlo Kelly, Sea Shimooka, Saamer Usmani and Eve Ridley will also play roles throughout the show’s eight-episode arc.

Speaking of the show’s eclectic casting, Benioff said: “This is very much a story about humanity, and humanity’s struggle with a seemingly unsolvable mystery that snowballs into a full-on existential crisis so we wanted to represent, as much as possible, all of humanity.

“We wanted people from all over the world. We tried to make this a very diverse, international cast to represent the idea that this isn’t just one country’s struggle; it’s a global struggle to survive.”

3 Body Problem is out now on Netflix.