Image of Rosalind Chao as Ye Wenjie and Jovan Adepo as Saul Durand sitting on a park bench in a scene from '3 Body Problem' on Netflix. Ye is a Chinese woman with salt-and-pepper chin length hair wearing a green jacket over a black shirt wearing a dark grey scarf and olive green pants. Saul is a Black man with close-cropped hair and black-rimmed glasses wearing a black coat over a checkered buttondown and jeans.

‘3 Body Problem’s Real-Life Murder Case Ended in the Death Sentence

Netflix’s 3 Body Problem is one of the streamer’s most intriguing shows. Created by Alexander Woo and Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, this adaptation of Liu Cixin’s book series is not without controversy—controversy that isn’t limited to the show’s storytelling or artistry.

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Back in the banner year that was 2020, Lin Qi, billionaire and founder of the Chinese gaming company Yoozoo Games, was murdered by a company lawyer named Xu Yao. As reported by USA Today, Xu was sentenced to death for the crime last month.

What does this have to do with 3 Body Problem? Lin is listed as one of the producers on the Netflix hit.

What is 3 Body Problem?

For the uninitiated, 3 Body Problem is a Netflix series based on a series of sci-fi books, by Chinese author Liu Cixin, that tells the story of how a Chinese woman named Ye Wenjie (played in her youth by Zine Tseng, and as an older woman by Rosalind Chao) takes one unilateral action that triggers an impending alien invasion, and how humanity responds.

This show wasn’t Lin’s first interaction with a Benioff and Weiss property. Yoozoo Games was also responsible for the popular RPG Game of Thrones: Winter Is Coming. As reported by TMS’ Britt Hayes, when Lin purchased the rights to the 3 Body Problem series, he hired Xu to make the deal.

This leads to murder how?

Three months after the Netflix series was announced, Lin ended up hospitalized for nine days before dying on Christmas Day at the age of 39. Doctors suspected poisoning, and so the Shanghai police investigated, arrested Xu as a suspect, and determined that he not only poisoned Lin, but he also poisoned two other colleagues.

Why? Because he was unhappy that his salary was cut due to poor performance.

He ended up hatching an elaborate, Breaking Bad-inspired plot involving the purchase of 160 phones and setting up a fake company in Japan to receive the necessary chemicals and do animal tests of the poison before committing the murders.

Hayes cites X user Rui Ma’s thorough thread on the case for in-depth coverage in English. In addition to the details above, Rui Ma also gave this bit of gonzo detail:

Xu went so far as to prepare an insanity defense for his clearly so very premeditated murder by trying to establish a history of mental illness. This wasn’t enough for the Shanghai First Intermediate People’s Court. Xu was convicted and sentenced to death on March 22 of this year.

Apparently, Lin had big plans for the 3 Body Problem adaptation he helped bring to life. According to Hayes:

Chen Long, one of his former professors, shared a remembrance of Lin in which he revealed that the entrepreneur spent $150 million on rights and licenses related to Cixin Liu’s novel. “His mission was to make the trilogy’s world into an internationally recognized franchise, with movies, television shows, video games, anime and more.”

Sadly, Lin wasn’t able to see the global response to the Netflix series. However, despite Xu’s crime, Xu may have unintentionally contributed to the curiosity around 3 Body Problem, allowing it to become the internationally recognized sensation Lin hoped it would be.

(featured image: Netflix)


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Author
Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.