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Last Updated on August 5, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 618

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The major characters in The Three Body Problem are Ye Wenjie, Wang Miao, Shi Qiang, and Mike Evans. There are also minor characters that influence the plot, such as Lei Zhicheng, Yang Weining, Yang Dong, and Ding Yi.

Ye Wenjie: Ye is an astrophysicist who grows up during the cultural revolution. Her father is a physicist who is put through a propaganda trial called a "stuggle session" by a young cadre of Red Guards. During this session, he is beaten to death in front of Ye. Ye's mother has given in during a previous struggle session and is also present during the death of her husband, though she does not show much emotion regarding it. Ye's sister is a member of the Red Guards, though she dies in a battle with a separate Red Guard faction. After his father's death, Ye is sent to Red Coast Base as part of a work crew that is tasked with felling all of the trees in the area. The manual labor is meant to be a punishment and reprogramming for seditious individuals. While there, she meets a journalist that is working on an environmental story; however, her friendship with him ultimately leads to betrayal, and Ye is arrested as a traitor. She is rescued by Lei Zhicheng and Yang Weining because they need her knowledge regarding astrophysics for a project concerning the discovery of extraterrestrial life. Ye is brought to Red Coast Base. During her time at Red Coast Base, Ye marries Yang but ultimately grows more disillusioned with the path humanity has taken. She discovers that she can amplify radio signals by bouncing them off the sun and, eight years after her amplified signal is sent, Ye receives a warning from Trisolaris. She disregards the warning and sends a second signal that will allow Trisolaris to locate Earth. In order to cover her betrayal up, she plots to murder Lei, though in doing so she is also forced to murder Yang. Ye gives birth to her daughter Yang Dong after these murders. She leaves Red Coast Base and becomes a professor. She later meets Mike Evans and founds the ETO as its spiritual leader.

Yang Dong: Ye Wenjie's daughter. Her suicide is the latest in several suspicious suicides that lead to Wang Miao being used to investigate the issue.

Ding Yi: Yang Dong's husband. He helps Wang by explaining some of the seemingly impossible results that have been observed in various physics experiments.

Lei Zhicheng: The commisar of Red Coast Base. He learns of Ye's messages to Trisolaris and attempts to blackmail her. Ye murders him.

Yang Weining: Ye's husband at Red Coast Base. He is murdered alongside Lei, though this was not part of Ye's plan.

Shi Qiang: A police detective partnered with Wang Miao to help him investigate the rash of suicides among prominent scientists. Shi provides useful ideas for Wang to follow and protects him a few times.

Mike Evans: The son of an oil magnate who is a radical environmentalist. He jointly founds the ETO with Ye and provides most of its funding. He later forms a radical sect within the ETO and begins withholding information from members of the less radical sect, including Ye.

Wang Miao: Wang is tasked with investigating the recent suicides of famous scientists. He learns of a virtual reality game called Three Body and moves up in levels until he is recruited into the ETO. He provides information to a military operation that is being jointly led by China and the US, which results in the capture of Ye. He provides the nano-material used in capturing and subduing the ETO ship and its crew in order to obtain the withheld information.