What happens to Will in 3 Body Problem?

The dystopian Netflix series has viewers hooked - and many are wondering what happens to Will in the series finale

What happens to Will in 3 Body Problem?
(Image credit: Netflix)

Fans are wondering what happens to Will in 3 Body Problem now that the Netflix show's chaotic first season has come to a close - Spoilers ahead!

It's taken us some time to wrap our heads around the hectic, dystopian storyline of Netflix's 3 Body Problem. The show's first season was jam-packed with drama and, while we loved it, we were left needing someone to explain the mind-boggling details of 3 Body Problem so we could check we had our facts in order. 

In the show, an array of thrilling action stems from one scientist's decision to respond to an alien planet’s transmission and her choice triggers a series of events that threatens all of humanity.

Thus, the show's main characters, known as ‘The Oxford Five’, throughout the show's eight episodes use their scientific prowess to try and save the world from an alien invasion. But we also get insight into their personal lives and the way that they struggle to come to terms with the massive changes the world is seeing while also attempting to uphold their friendships, romances, and mental struggles. 

Out of the five-strong ensemble, there was one character who truly captured viewers' hearts; Will Downing. Will is a physics teacher who, soon into the series, finds out he has late stage pancreatic cancer that is untreatable. This, understandably, changes his life completely and he decides to spend his last few months at the beach, surrounded by his friends so they can make some nice memories before he dies. 

It's a sad storyline, though not quite as distressing as Netflix's latest hit Baby Reindeer, that's based on a true story, and it didn't leave us with as many nightmares as the streamer's documentary What Jennifer Did that left many wondering who Daniel Wong is and where he is now. But, still, the next part of Will's story is haunting enough to still play on our minds. 

What happens to Will in 3 Body Problem?

(Image credit: Netflix)

What happens to Will in 3 Body Problem?

Will's friend and long-time crush Jin Cheng, who is one of the scientists working on a project that aims to stop the alien invasion, approaches him with an interesting and unique request when she learns about his terminal diagnosis.  

She needs a human to be the cargo in a probe she's sending into space. It's not the usual favour a friend would ask of you, is it? But, the human cargo is vital for her mission as she hopes the aliens will pick up the probe and they can, therefore, learn more about their enemies using the human they've sent off into space. 

She's asked Will in particular because the favour comes with a catch. Not only will the journey into space take 200 years where, for that time, the probe's inhabitant will be “Not dead ... not alive, somewhere in between,” the show explains, but the probe is so small, only the human's brain will fit.

Alex Sharp 3 Body Problem

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Will in Netflix's 3 Body Problem ultimately decides to consent to having his brain sent into space on the mission probe. While his friend is worried about what the aliens may do to him if they do pick up the probe, Will is optimistic about the whole thing. “Maybe it’ll be like I’m a pet to them ... or maybe I’ll be entertainment,” he says. 

But, unfortunately, after Will's brain has been sent off into space, he won't have to worry about what the aliens will do because the launch does not go as planned. In fact, it goes about as wrong as it possibly could.

The probe carrying his brain goes off course early on its journey and Will is, for all of time, destined to be lost in space. No one knows if he's conscious of what is going on and no one knows where the probe carrying him may end up, not even the scientists who manned the mission. 

It wasn't just audiences who were left in tears over Will's loss. “It haunts me,” Alex Sharp, the actor who plays Will in 3 Body Problem told TODAY about his character's final scene. “There are few things scarier than the concept of being conscious yet unstimulated for the infinite amount of time. Just to be floating through endless space, consciously on some level for eternity is worse than dying, in my opinion.”

But Sharp says that Will knew the risks of the mission and wanted to take part in it so Jin Cheng could have her one wish - that the mission went ahead. 

“It’s not just a sacrifice of his life," he said. “The stakes are so high. The fact that he’s willing to take that risk for the woman that he loves ... the love is that profound, is so beautiful. It’s very distressing though.”

Maybe you'll want to lighten your TV viewing after binging this one with Netflix's rom-com series One Day or you can completely distract yourself with a different intricate storyline like that of The Gentlemen - though you'll have to decide whether to watch The Gentlemen movie or the TV show first

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse
Freelance news writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is royal news and entertainment writer. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with Good To, BBC Good Food and The Independent.