The Untamed

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Name: The Untamed, 陈情令, Chén Qíng Lìng
Abbreviation(s): CQL
Creator: Mo Xiang Tong Xiu
墨香铜臭 Mòxiāng Tóngxiù
Date(s): June 27, 2019 - August 20, 2019
Medium: TV
Country of Origin: China
External Links:
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The Untamed (known in Chinese as Chén Qíng Lìng or 陈情令) is the live-action adaptation of Mo Dao Zu Shi.

The adaptation was announced in March 2018 with the first two actors, Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo, announced in April. The series started airing on June 27, 2019 on Thursday and Friday with two episodes each day.

Due to censorship laws in China, all explicit romance between the main characters was removed from the story. In addition, some morally-grey characters were made into more black-and-white good vs evil characters. Despite the censorship of the romance, many fans were surprised at what was left in, as if the show was viewed with the original story in mind, it wasn't difficult to construe a romantic relationship between Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji. Key moments include being trapped in the Xuanwu Cave with most of the dialogue intact, and a scene that replaces their first kiss during the Hunt on Phoenix Mountain where Wei Wuxian calls Lan Wangji his "soulmate".

The series became available on Netflix in North and South America, Europe, India and Philippines in October 2019, expanding the fanbase as the show reached a wider audience.


July 12, 2019 saw the first Untamed fan meeting[1] followed by a Roadshow that stopped in Hangzhou, Xi'an, Wuhan, Shanghai and Qingdao. Another fanmeeting took place in Thailand [2] on September 21, 2019. November 1, 2019 will see the final fanmeet in Nanjing,[3] with the event selling out in just 5 seconds.[4]

"So you want to join the Pyramid Scheme?"

In English-language online fandom, MDZS and cdrama fans began watching the show via WeTV, Viki, or Youtube in July/August before it was released to Netflix, so the English-language fandom began gathering steam even before there was easy access to the show. Slash fans and others who had not previously been in cmedia fandoms then heard about the show and joined in. The pattern of the fandom's spread has led to it being called "the ancient Chinese gays pyramid scheme".[5]

From a December 2019 review by Film Daily:

Fans of the series knew the regulations it was up against in China and were careful to protect the storyline. In discussing The Untamed online, chatters avoided explicit mention of the show’s gay undertones, referring to the topic using the misleading but politically charged hashtag “socialist brotherhood” in hopes of avoiding attention from regulators.[6]

There is also an RPF fandom based around the cast: The Untamed RPF.

Poster for The Untamed National Style Concert at Nanjing


In The Untamed, the juggernaut ship is the canon pairing of the two main characters, Wei Wuxian/Lan Wangji (Wangxian). Other popular ships include:

Some less prevalent ships/rarepairs include:

  • Xiao Xingchen/Xue Yang (Xuexiao) and Song Lan/Xiao Xingchen/Xue Yang (Songxuexiao)
  • Jin Ling/Lan Sizhui (Zhuiling)
  • Lan Xichen/Nie Mingjue (Nielan), Meng Yao/Nie Mingjue (Nieyao), and Lan Xichen/Meng Yao/Nie Mingjue (3zun)
  • Jiang Cheng/Wen Qing (Chengqing): A niche het ship unique to the TV fandom, as Jiang Cheng has no romantic interest in Wen Qing in the original novel. In The Untamed, he has a romantic attraction to her, although they do not become a couple in canon.
  • Lan Xichen/Nie Huaisang (Xisang)
  • Mo Xuanyu/Nie Huaisang

Tropes & Fanon

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

  • Fix-its/everybody lives & post-canon: Fix-its are commonplace for many of the more angsty and tragic moments in canon, as well as the deaths of key characters. Canon-verse fix-its will often diverge from canon at key moments or have certain characters make better choices in order to reach a happier outcome. Alternatively, fanwork creators will create post-canon works in which the characters resolve their past traumas/differences and move forward in a positive way.
  • Time Travel fics: are a subsection of fix-it fics where one of the characters finds themselves back in time (usually waking up in their younger body) and deciding to save their loved ones from dying or their family from splintering. Most often the character traveling is Wei Wuxian.
  • Kidfic: The character A-Yuan (Lan Sizhui) frequently features in kidfic, commonly raised by Wei Wuxian as a single parent, or else adopted jointly by Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji. In these works, A-Yuan is sometimes a relative of Wen Qing's, usually her nephew.
  • Sword names as social media/chat handles: One common trope in chatfic and social media AUs or fics featuring social media is to use the names of characters' words as their online handles. For example, Wei Wuxian becomes Suibian, Lan Wangji is Bichen, Jiang Cheng is Sandu, etc.

Example Fanworks




In English-speaking fandom, there are numerous meta essays, overviews and primers that explain various aspects of Chinese history, culture, linguistic wordplay, etc. in the context of The Untamed to help guide a non-Chinese audience. There is also meta discussing the differences in characterisation, plot, etc. between the original novel and the TV adaptation.

Character-specific meta

Links & Resources


  1. ^ 《陈情令》主演齐聚粉丝见面会 肖战王一博合唱
  2. ^ The Untamed Thailand Fan Meeting Highlights
  3. ^ The Untamed Concert In China Is Scheduled For November
  4. ^ Tickets for The Untamed Concert in Nanjing sold out in 5 seconds
  5. ^ The Untamed: A Primer by sonickitty via Tumblr. "Part 1. Part 1. So You Want To Join The Pyramid Scheme". Published February 20, 2020 (Accessed May 4, 2020) (archive link)
  6. ^ ‘The Untamed’: Chinese boy love drama we can’t stop watching, Archived version, 2 December 2019. (Accessed 5 May 2020.)
  7. ^ Tweet by @asideoftrashpl1: if you filter AO3 works by language, after Wangxian, Xicheng is most popular for English works... BUT CHENGXIAN IS THE MOST POPULAR PAIRING FOR CHINESE WORKS. Food for thought. Posted May 7, 2020 (Accessed May 10, 2020) (archive link)
  8. ^ Tumblr post by baoshan-sanren on February 16, 2020. (archive link)
  9. ^ Twitter thread by Lat_CQL on August 8, 2020. (archive link)