I'm Ready to Talk About What Happened to Will in '3 Body Problem'

3 body problem alex sharp as will downing in episode 104 of 3 body problem
What Happened to Will in '3 Body Problem'?Netflix

This story contains spoilers for Netflix's 3 Body Problem and Liu Cixin's Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy.

Believe it or not, there are some characters in 3 Body Problem who aren't overly concerned with the threat of alien invasion. Even though the Netflix series focuses on a group of scientists who must prevent an extraterrestrial race, called the San-Ti, from arriving on Earth in roughly 400 years, it takes quite a bit of time for the rest of the planet's population to worry about the future threat. One of those characters is Will Downing (Alex Sharp), a physics teacher who learns that he has stage four pancreatic cancer. Naturally, he carries around a ton of emotional weight in the series. While everyone else is concerned about their future, Will is simply trying to decide what is most important for him to do in the few months he has left to live.

"What defines him is how he reacts to these circumstances," Sharp told Time. "If the season of television we've made is about looking at humanity as almost a singular organism responding to an existential threat, Will felt to me like the symbolic representation of that on an individual level." The Trial of the Chicago 7 actor joked that he "sometimes kind of forgot what show I was in," because his character's journey was so far removed from the main plot of the "massive sci-fi show."

But Will's fateful decision to join the Staircase Project—a probe blasted out into space to gather information about the San-Ti—marks his final act. His brain is removed from his body and cryogenically frozen, with the hope that the San-Ti will reform his body. It's a crazy plan, sure, but a man with a few days left to live makes for the perfect candidate. Still, fans of 3 Body Problem's source material, author Liu Cixin's Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy, believe that we still haven't seen the last of Will Downing.

3 body problem
Jovan Adepo (left) as Saul Durand and Alex Sharp (right) as Will Downing—two characters who are revealed in the season finale to be very important figures moving forward.Netflix

What Happened to Will?

After he's de-brained and sent into space, Will's rocket accidentally loses a cable and he is sent off course. Not much is said about the path he does embark on, but the Staircase Project is viewed as a failure. Subsequently, Will's chances of reaching the aliens are also viewed as near impossible. The group is forced to mourn their friend once again.

As fans have since figured out, Will is based on the character Yun Tianming—who appears in the trilogy's third novel, Death's End. Yun follows a path very similar to Will's in 3 Body Problem. He suffers from a terminal illness, buys the woman he's always had feelings for a star, and volunteers his noggin for the Staircase Project. But many years later, the rocket's launch proves to be a success. Yun's brain makes it to the aliens and his body is reconstructed. Is it possible that Will may meet the same fate in future seasons?

"This is the beginning of the story," Sharp explained in the Time interview. "I know, not just from reading the books but speaking to David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss], where it would go and what elements of the books are to come if we get more seasons... and it's very exciting."

This isn't exactly an official confirmation from the actor—but it's not a denial either!

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