‘3 Body Problem’: Five differences between the book vs Netflix series
(Credits: Netflix)

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‘3 Body Problem’: Five differences between the book vs Netflix series

Adapting a beloved book series for television is always a daunting task. When it comes to Liu Cixin’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy, the challenge was even more significant because of its use of hard science to create its sci-fi elements. However, the creators of the Netflix series 3 Body Problem, DB Weiss, David Benioff, and Alexander Woo, have brought this epic saga to the screen by simplifying major aspects of it.

Despite significant changes from the source material, such as shifting the setting from China to England and altering key characters, audiences have embraced the adaptation. The series introduces new arcs and focuses more on character-driven narratives, making it a far more compact watch for both fans of the books and newcomers alike.

But fans of the books need to keep in mind that it isn’t just the setting that has shifted; most of the main characters are created entirely for the show. There is no Auggie, Jin, Jack, Will, or Saul in the books.

Read our review of 3 Body Problem, watch the series, and then come back to find out about all the changes that were made in the Netflix adaptation.

3 body problem adapts elements from all three books

One notable difference between the book and the Netflix series is the incorporation of elements from all three novels into the first season. While the overarching narrative aligns with The Three-Body Problem, the first book in the trilogy that lends its name to the adaptation, the series integrates plotlines from The Dark Forest as well as Death’s End

This decision allows for a more comprehensive exploration of the trilogy’s themes and characters, setting the stage for future seasons to delve deeper into these storylines. It also helps establish the major characters who represent the different themes prevalent throughout the books that ultimately use sci-fi as a mere tool to explore the human psyche.

Jin, Auggie, and Jack are inspired by one book character

In the original novel, Wang Miao serves as the primary point-of-view character. However, the series diverges by splitting several of Wang’s characteristics and assigning them to three different ones: Auggie Salazar, Jack Rooney, and Jin Cheng. 

Auggie takes on the role of the nanotech researcher, closely paralleling Wang’s storyline. Meanwhile, Jack and Jin become involved in the ‘3 Body’ virtual gaming experience, eventually uncovering the truth surrounding the San Ti, aka Trisolaran, invasion. By expanding upon Wang’s character and distributing aspects of his journey among multiple protagonists, the series makes sure the character isn’t spread too thin.

The character that inspires Will Downing is in book three

Will Downing mirrors that of Yun Tianming in the books, a character who has unrequited feelings for Cheng, another character who inspired Jin. Tianming does not appear till Death’s End. In the first season of 3 Body Problem, Jin’s storyline ultimately converges with Cheng Xin’s story from the third book. This decision helps set the stage for any possible future seasons.

Wenjie and Evans do not have a daughter in the books

Another significant difference between the book and the series is the portrayal of Wenjie and Evans’ family dynamics. In the novel, Wenjie and Evans do not have a daughter together. Instead, Wenjie has a daughter, Yang Dong, with Yang Weining, one of the two military physicists working under Red Coast.

However, the series introduces Vera as Wenjie and Evans’s daughter, altering the dynamics of their relationship. In the series, Vera kills herself when she finds out about her parents’ plans. 

Evans deliberately provokes the San Ti to destroy humanity in the books

One of the most striking differences between the book and the series is Evans’ role in provoking the San Ti to destroy humanity. In the novels, Evans forms the Earth-Trisolaris Organisation and appoints Wenjie its spiritual leader. But eventually, he starts keeping San Ti’s messages from her. As tensions arise and the ETO is divided into factions, Evans leads the Adventists to seek humanity’s total annihilation by the Trisolarans.

You can watch 3 Body Problem on Netflix and catch the trailer here: