3 Body Problem Producer Clarifies the Meaning of That Frustrating Ending

By Lauren Rouse Posted:
3 Body Problem ending, Benedict Wong

Following the cliffhanger ending of 3 Body Problem Season 1, the producers broke down what it all means.

Netflix's new sci-fi series is based on the hit trilogy of books by Chinese author Cixin Liu, following a group of scientists as they uncover an extraterrestrial threat and attempt to help humanity survive the coming peril.  

The first season featured eight episodes that effectively covered all of Liu's first novel, but the 3 Body Problem ending left audiences wanting more. 

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How Does 3 Body Problem End?

3 Body Problem's eighth episode is the culmination of humanity's first attempt to waylay the invading alien forces, the San Ti. 

The Staircase Project, led by Jin Cheng (Jess Hong) and overseen by Thomas Wade (Liam Cunningham), failed to launch correctly. This results in the probe that would have sent the cryogenically frozen human brain of Will Downing (Alex Sharpe) to communicate with the San Ti, spiraling helplessly off course into the dark regions of space. 

Following this, Will's friends Jin and Saul (Jovan Adepo) feel helpless against the oncoming alien threat. To re-inspire them, Da Shi (Benedict Wong) takes the duo to a lake full of cicadas, explaining that humans have always tried to eradicate bugs, but the little critters have always found a way to survive. 

3 Body Problem Ending Explained by Netflix Producers

3 Body Problem

In a breakdown of the 3 Body Problem ending, posted on Netflix's YouTube channel, producers David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and Alexander Woo broke down the meaning behind this Episode 8 finale. 

Woo explained that Episode 8 may be surprising because it combines events from two different sections of Cixin Liu's trilogy, that being the end of Three-Body Problem (Book 1) and part way through Death's End (Book 3). However, the producer said it made sense for them because they could couple an instance of "greatest despair" with a moment of "holding out hope":

"We paired together two things that are from very far apart in the books. The brain capsule goes off-course, you know, like, 100 pages into book three. And the cicada moment happens at the end of book one. So they’re nowhere close to each other, but it seemed to make sense to have these two things, like the moment of greatest despair paired with this inspirational moment of still holding out hope."

Benioff goes on to examine the significance of the cicada moment. For context, earlier in the season, the San Ti sent the message "YOU ARE BUGS" to Earth, which was displayed on all screens around the world, intending to strike fear in humanity.

Benioff explained that by Da Shi showing Jin and Saul the resilience of bugs, he is essentially "tak[ing] ownership" of that insult and reminding them that, just like bugs, "they're not going anywhere":

"You know, I always loved the speech at the end of 'Three-Body Problem,' in the novel, because he’s taking something that we normally dislike, but also they’re omnipresent and we can’t get rid of them. That’s what Da Shi points out at the end.

Again, it’s one of the brilliant things that Cixin Liu does his novels, where he takes something that you’re aware of, but you just haven’t thought of it this way. Yeah. Okay, if you’re gonna say we’re all bugs, I’m going to take that insult and I’m gonna take ownership of it, and good luck wiping us out. ’Cause we’ve tried to wipe out bugs for thousands of years. Guess what? They’re not going anywhere."

Will There Be More of Netflix's 3 Body Problem?

Many fans found the ending of 3 Body Problem's first season frustrating, with some claiming the grand finale was disappointing, too unexplained, or did not provide enough closure. 

The reality is that the ending of Season 1 is very similar to the end of Cixin Liu's Three-Body Problem. It is intended to leave the audience, just like the characters, with the hope that humanity has a chance against the San Ti invasion.

It also potentially leaves audiences unsatisfied by design so that they will continue to tune in should there be any more seasons of 3 Body Problem

There are still two more books in Liu's trilogy to cover in the Netflix series, but at the time of writing, the streamer is yet to renew 3 Body Problem for Season 2. Benioff, Weiss, and Woo told Collider that they already have a rough map of where the second season would go, and are hoping for "at least three, maybe four seasons" in total.

All that will depend on 3 Body Problem's viewership numbers in the coming weeks. 

3 Body Problem is streaming on Netflix.

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- In This Article: 3 Body Problem
Release Date
March 21, 2024
Jess Hong
Jovan Adepo
Saamer Usmani
- About The Author: Lauren Rouse
Lauren Rouse has been a writer at The Direct since the site launched in 2020. She has a huge passion for everything pop culture and currently writes news articles for the Marvel, Star Wars, DC and video game branches.