true crime

3 Body Problem: How the trending Netflix show was derailed by a real-life murder case.

Chinese billionaire Lin Qi had a dream.

The video game tycoon is the founder of company Yoozoo Games, and for years he was obsessed with The Three-Body Problem — a best-selling Chinese science fiction trilogy

The novel series was a massive success across the world, but especially in China. Now it has been adapted for the screen, and 3 Body Problem is the number one trending TV show on Netflix right now. Lin is to thank for this. 

Watch the trailer for 3 Body Problem. Post continues below.

Video via Netflix.

Years ago, Lin decided he wanted to turn one of China's most famous science-fiction novels into a global hit. He owned the rights for film adaptations of the trilogy and began working with Netflix and the creators of Game of Thrones to bring the alien invasion saga to life. 

Despite securing the deal and the show now being beloved by audiences across the world, Lin never managed to see his dream come to complete fruition.


Just months after securing the Netflix deal, he was murdered.

Xu Yao, a distinguished lawyer and business partner to Lin, became consumed by professional rivalry.

The Shanghai First Intermediate People's Court said there had been a dispute over the running of the business, and as a result, Lin sidelined Xu shortly after Xu helped him land the Netflix deal in 2020.

When Netflix announced its adaptation project of 3 Body Problem in September 2020, Lin was listed as an executive producer, with Xu's name visibly missing.

After falling out with his boss, Xu gifted Lin a bottle of what he said were probiotic pills. Instead, it contained a cocktail of lethal toxins he had bought off the dark web. The court said Xu tested the poisons on small animals in a makeshift lab in preparation. 

Xu poisoned beverages in the Yoozoo Games office between September and December of that year, the poisonings leaving four others seriously ill. Xu had spiked various beverages at the headquarters, including coffee, whiskey and jugs of water. 

In Decemeber 2020, Lin was driving home from the Yoozoo Games headquarters in Shanghai when he suddenly feeling unwell. He presented at hospital, but died from complications associated with the poisoning 10 days later, on Christmas Day. He was 39 years old.

Police would detain Xu, Chinese news outlets describing the murder plot "as bizarre as a Hollywood blockbuster" filled with deadly corporate ambition. Xu reportedly declined to confess to the crime and did not disclose what poison he had used.


As per Chinese magazine Caixin, at least five toxins were detected in Lin's body, including mercury and tetrodotoxin – an extremely potent poison found in pufferfish.

Investigators seized Xu's tech devices, also finding that he was a big fan of Breaking Bad, an American series about a chemistry teacher who goes into the meth-making business.

Xu was sentenced to death for murder by a court in Shanghai on March 22 2024 — the day after the much-anticipated debut of 3 Body Problem on Netflix.

Yoozoo Games' chief executive, Zhao Jilong, posted on his WeChat account: "Justice has been served," after the verdict was delivered in court.

Following their founder's death, Yoozoo Games issued a statement which read: "Goodbye youth... We will be together, continue to be kind, continue to believe in goodness, and continue the fight against all that is bad."

The Netflix series is one of the most expensive projects undertaken by the streaming platform, with a reported budget of $160 million for eight episodes, as per the BBC. Lin has been posthumously credited as an executive producer.

Feature Image: Getty.

Calling all internet users! Take our survey now and go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher!