Netflix's 3 Body Problem was ready to go in mid-2023, but it was held back for one big reason

Jin Cheng points at something in the sky in a VR simulation in Netflix's 3 Body Problem
Netflix agreed to delay 3 Body Problem's release for one very specific reason. (Image credit: Ed Miller/Netflix)

Full spoilers follow for 3 Body Problem on Netflix.

3 Body Problem's co-creators have revealed that the popular Netflix series was ready to be released in mid-2023 – but it was delayed for one huge reason.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter (THR), David Benioff and D.B. Weiss explained that their ambitious Netflix sci-fi spectacle, which launched on March 22, was supposed to debut on the streaming service last year. However, alongside fellow showrunner Alex Woo, the pair realized that the fast-paced, mind-bending nature of its first episode would overwhelm and confuse viewers. The solution? Crafting and shooting a new five-minute scene, which involved two important characters – Auggie (Eiza Gonzalez) and Jin (Jess Hong) – that would ease audiences into its convoluted story.

It's a scene (one which provides plenty of story and character-based exposition in a short amount of time) that might not have happened, either. As Weiss revealed, the sequence was written one day before the 2023 Hollywood writers strike began in June. Talk about cutting it fine, guys!

Sophon hovers in the air with 3 suns behind her in Netflix's 3 Body Problem TV series

3 Body Problem was originally due to be released in mid-2023. (Image credit: Netflix)

"We got the scene written the day before the strike," Weiss said. "It was literally five pages, but we really thought it was worth doing. 

"Netflix was great about it. It would have been very easy for them to be like 'You have a finished show that is ready to air, for us to hold that [for a scene that’s] five minutes of two people in a bar… that it took some fortitude for them to just say 'Yeah.'"

Thankfully, the scene did its job of delivering on its expository content. Indeed, the pub-based sequence introduces audiences to Auggie and Jin, lays out their respective careers and ties to the recently-deceased Vera, casually drops some vital information that humanity's scientific understanding of the universe has suddenly broken, and sets Auggie's life-threatening countdown clock in motion. Consider our confusion averted, everyone.

Despite the significance of that scene, Netflix's TV adaptation of Liu Cixin's mind-melting book of the same name isn't without its issues. In my review of 3 Body Problem, I said it "delivers a fitting take on Cixin’s dense and seemingly unfilmable source material", but that its "occasionally reductive plot threads and storytelling deviations will irritate fans". Largely, though, it's a fun watch, and it's proven popular enough with critics and more casual viewers to deserve a spot on our best Netflix shows list. In short: watch it ASAP before it passes you by.

Will 3 Body Problem get a second season on Netflix?

Thomas Wade and Jin Cheng look shocked as Sophon watches on in Netflix's 3 Body Problem TV show

Looking to the stars for answers about 3 Body Problem's renewal like... (Image credit: Ed Miller/Netflix)

Right now, nobody knows. Netflix's 3 Body Problem hasn't been a universal success, with some audience members and critics labeling it dull, slow, and confusing. However, Benioff, Weiss, and Woo are pressing ahead with their plans to craft a follow-up, which will likely adapt the second novel in Cixin's 3 Body Problem trilogy, aka The Dark Forest.

In a separate chat with THR, Benioff said: "It’s something we’ve talked about with the Netflix guys. Liu Cixin has created this indelible trilogy and the books just get better for me. The second book is far better than the first, and the third book just completely blew my mind. The story just gets more and more ambitious as it goes, and it takes a huge leap in book two. So I feel like if we survive to the second season, we’re going to be in a good place."

It shouldn't be too long before we learn more about 3 Body Problem's fate. Every Wednesday, Netflix releases its latest round of weekly viewing figures via its Top 10 website. If 3 Body Problem has proven popular with the best streaming service's global userbase, it'll stand a good chance of being renewed. To do that, though, it'll need to crack the 150 million hours streamed mark, which was enough for Netflix's live-action remake of Avatar: The Last Airbender to earn another two seasons. By tomorrow (March 27), we'll have a clearer idea of whether a second season will be greenlit or not.

While we wait for an announcement regarding 3 Body Problem season 2, read our exclusive chat with the series' cast about how 3 Body Problem tells a surprisingly emotional story alongside its high-brow sci-fi concepts.

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Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

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