Who is the More Tragic Lan Wangji, The Book One or The Drama One?

Check out my video on this topic HERE

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The Untamed has finished airing for over a month, though I feel for many lovers of this show, the story is long from being over.

On the internet in China, there’s a sentence that pops up all the time when it comes to Mo Dao Zu Shi or The Untamed,


meaning “asking the spirit for 13 years, waiting for a person who would not return”. As Lan Wangji can communicate with spirits with his Qin, for the years between Wei Wuxian’s death and his re-birth, it’s not hard to imagine Lan would most likely have played his qin many times in an attempt to talk to Wei’s spirit. Although this “playing qin to talk to your dead lover” plot never took place in the book,  this line becomes a fan favourite “summary line” of the relationship between these two lead characters.

Though The Untamed followed very closely to the novel, one major difference between them lies in the sequences of events , creating the 13 years gap in the novel, and the 16 years gap in the drama.

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In the drama, Lan Wangji was present at Wei Wuxian’s demise. He took part in the big battle and watches Wei Wuxian fell to his death. It is afterwards that the 33 whips on his back took place which incapacitated him for 3 years.

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In the book, Lan Wanji got his whipping after the battle of Nightless City. He saved Wei Wuxian by injuring 33 elders of the Lan clan, resulting in him getting 33 whips as his punishment. It took him 3 years to recover from the injury, during which time he overheard that Wei Wuxian had died at the Burial Mounds.

So for the book Lan Wangji, techinically, he suffered three years less pain of “losing” his love, whereas the drama Lan Wangji had the full 16 years torture of knowing that his true love is dead and gone.

But then, who would be the sadder Lan Wangji. I try to slip into his shoes and imagine if both versions took place in my life, how I might have felt for each one. 

And my conclusion is, probably, the book Wangji.

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Although the drama Wangji had three years more to suffer, at least he was there in Wei Wuxian’s last moments. He held his hand and tried to rescue him, he heard him saying “let me go” and he knew at least Wei Wuxian died knowing Lan Wangji truly cared about him.

When you know someone is dead and gone, no matter how painful it might be, death is merciful in the way that it is final, assured, leaves no room for argument or false hope. When Lan Wangji got whipped to a human pâté, he could at least take his physical wounds together with his mental wounds into his long period of seclusion, which essentially gave him all the privacy he needed to grieve on his own.

But for the book Lan Wangji, it’s not hard to imagine during however much time of not being able to get out of Cloud Recesses, he must be dying to see Wei Wuxian. While lying there in excruciating pain, he must have also been tortured mentally by the sense of longing. Yet eventually the reality that greeted him was such a cruel one. All those accumulated emotions were rendered irrelevant, never to be expressed to their intended receiver. Lan Wangji didn’t even get to say goodbye, didn’t know what exactly took place on the day Wei Wuxian died. He only needed to think about any one of those past days, remembering at that moment Wei Wuxian was still very much alive, if only he could be by his side.

That, must be a total nightmare to go through, and upon hearing the news of Wei Wuxian’s death, the world around Lan Wangji at the were all cheering for the death of YiLing Patriarch, as the second young lord of the Lan Clan, a perfect role model for all the cultivation clans to follow, he literally just got the worst blow in his life and he couldn’t even show it.

Life is very unkind to the book Lan Wangji indeed.

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I want to give the book Wangji a big hug just by thinking through all this, although he’d probably kick me through a wall before I could even stick my arms out.

In life, perhaps many things are better left “un-thought-through”, just to avoid the amount of pain a careful analysis could have caused.

Today, is another day to sigh for Lan Wangji.