3 Body Problem season 2: what could happen next in Netflix's sci-fi show according to the books

Liam Cunningham and Benedict Wong in 3 Body Problem
(Image credit: Netflix)

3 Body Problem has finally hit Netflix and, if you have already binged the series, you may be wondering what could happen next in a potential season 2. 

The streamer's adaptation of Chinese author Liu Cixin's beloved sci-fi novel series (which is officially known as the Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy, but is usually simply referred to as The Three-Body Problem), brought to us from the creators of Game of Thrones, will leave many wanting more after that dramatic finale. And whilst Netflix is yet to officially commission a second season, there is still plenty left to explore from the source material.

If you are curious as to what direction the story takes, we've got you covered with a breakdown of the broad plot points of the next books in the series – titled The Dark Forest and Death's End – which could indicate what might happen in 3 Body Problem season 2 (if it happens).

Now, before we dive into it all, it should be noted that tweaks have been made for the Netflix show, and so far it has adapted not only the first novel but parts of the second one too. We should also flag before you go any further that the following contains major spoilers for both Netflix's 3 Body Problem and a potential season 2. So, if you aren't up to date or want to avoid any future spoilers, turn back now!

What could happen in 3 Body Problem season 2?

saul 3 body problem

(Image credit: Netflix)

3 Body Problem ultimately ends with the initiation of the 'Wallfacer' program, as the United Nations set about putting into place an attempt to prevent the alien invasion (notably, here the extra-terrestrials are known as the San-Ti, whereas in the books they are called the Trisolarans). One of the Wallfacers is, of course, Saul Durand (Jovan Adepo), a member of the group of scientists known as the Oxford Five who we have been following throughout the series.

And so, as the world prepares to try and stop the upcoming invasion which is due to happen in a few hundred years, what happens next according to the books? With the San-Ti able to see everything the people of Earth do, listening in on every conversation, Wallfacers are tasked with coming up with a plan without telling another single soul. What's not helping matters is also the fact that on Earth there are bands of San-Ti loyalists who support the aliens' invasion and are trying to sabotage any defense strategy. In fact, the San-Ti select three of these loyalists to be 'Wallbreakers,' who are given access to all the information the aliens have at their disposal, with the aim being to deduce the Wallfacers' plans. And it doesn't take long for them to undermine two of the four Wallfacers, with a third then going into hibernation hoping to avoid detection – however, ultimately his plan also fails.

Which leaves only one Wallfacer standing: Saul Durand, whose counterpart in the books is sociology professor Luo Ji. As we learned in Netflix's 3 Body Problem, Saul struggles to understand why he has been selected and initially refuses the position, but is unable to do so as people think this is just a part of his secret strategy.

In the books, the disgruntled Luo takes advantage of his position, moving to an isolated paradise with his partner, where he spends several years living a relaxing life. However, his wife then asks him to solve the upcoming alien crisis, putting herself and their daughter into hibernation until the date of the invasion, hoping to wake up to a peaceful world. It is then that Luo learns why he was chosen as a Wallfacer, something which remained a mystery to him until now – and it's all because he was the only human the aliens have ever directly tried to assassinate.

3 Body Problem

(Image credit: Netflix)

He figures out that this is because of a conversation he had years ago with Ye Wenjie, who of course was the one who invited the Trisolarans (AKA the San-Ti in Netflix's show) to Earth, believing the aliens overheard this with their sophon technology. She had previously told him to study cosmic sociology, and he now uses this field to focus his plans, arranging for the location of a star lightyears away to be broadcast throughout the galaxy. Of course, as per the Wallfacer program, his orders are followed, with Luo not revealing how and why he has come to this decision. He then also enters hibernation whilst the Trisolarans launch several new faster probes – all of which are heading to our planet – in response to the broadcast.

200 years later, Luo is awoken to the news that the Wallfacer program has ended, Earth has built ships stronger than the aliens' fleet, and world leaders are confident they can defeat the Trisolarans. However, unfortunately, they are proven wrong as the aliens' first probe arrives, destroying humanity's army in mere minutes. Naturally, everyone panics, with many boarding ships to flee our solar system and set up new communities elsewhere in the universe. Meanwhile, the aliens set up stations near Earth, blocking any interstellar communication from the planet.

In response, Luo is restored as a Wallfacer and the UN looks into the star he mentioned before going into hibernation – it turns out that it has been destroyed by an unknown entity and so Luo states that his plan is foiled. However, privately he explains that following his conversation with Ye, he started to explore something known as the 'dark forest hypothesis.' This is the idea that there are alien civilizations everywhere throughout the universe, but, due to the fear of invasion, they stay silent hoping to be unnoticed by others.

Luo's intention, then, was to threaten the Trisolarans by revealing he knew the location of their home planet, which he could then broadcast to the entire universe. Hopefully, this would force them into a truce. However, since they are preventing any interstellar communication, he turns his attention to plotting the deployment of nuclear bombs throughout the galaxy, which will help detect the alien ships through the creation of cosmic dust.

However, you must remember that Luo is a Wallfacer, and so this was actually just disguising his real plan. He reveals that the bombs were arranged in a very precise way, with the cosmic dust spelling out in the galaxy the location of the Trisolarans through Morse code (yes, really). The aliens then agree to a truce, diverting their fleet – in exchange mankind does not detonate the bombs. Years later, Luo speaks with the pacifist Trisolaran who had made first contact with Earth, via Ye Wenjie – they conclude that maybe it is possible for civilizations across the galaxy to engage peacefully with each other.

What happens in the third Three-Body Problem book?

3 Body Problem

(Image credit: Netflix)

Now, this is the point in Liu Cixin's story where we predict the Netflix show will conclude. But his novels don't end there, so if you want to know what happens in the final book in the trilogy, titled Death's End, we've got you covered. 

This novel is a little more complicated than the previous two, as it is split into several sections – known as 'eras' – each looking at different chapters of humanity's history after the above events, focusing on a person known as Cheng Xin (who is tasked with helping keep Earth safe) as its main plotline. In summary, it looks at the impact of the threat of the Trisolaran invasion, something which terrified the people of Earth. They realize that the key to their survival in the galaxy is devising a way to defend themselves against other alien civilizations -–basically, they need an army, and a big one at that.

However, humanity comes to the conclusion that not only was their confrontation with the Trisolarans not really a war, but that it's something that is unlikely to ever happen with any alien civilization. Ultimately, the trilogy closes with the death of our solar system, but Cheng Xin helps to keep humanity alive through a community elsewhere in the galaxy.

3 Body Problem is available to stream on Netflix now. For more on the show, check out our deep dive into the ending and what the cast had to say about the changes made from the original books.

And if you’re looking for more streaming inspiration, check out our guides to the best Netflix movies and the best Netflix shows available right now.

Emily Murray
Entertainment Editor

As Entertainment Editor at GamesRadar, I oversee all the online content for Total Film and SFX magazine. Previously I've worked for the BBC, Zavvi, UNILAD, Yahoo, Digital Spy and more.