The Untamed

From Fanlore
Jump to navigation Jump to search
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:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

International Focus Request: Help! Editors need some assistance with including international and/or non-English perspectives on this page.

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 and felt that 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:

  • Jin Ling/Lan Sizhui (Zhuiling)
  • Jiang Cheng/Wen Qing (Chengqing): An M/F ship more popular in the TV fandom, as Jiang Cheng and Wen Qing do not interact as much in the original novel. In the show a romantic attraction on the part of Jiang Cheng is implied, but the ship is not canon.
  • Lan Xichen/Nie Huaisang (Xisang)
  • Mo Xuanyu/Nie Huaisang
  • Jiang Cheng/Nie Mingjue
  • Lan Jingyi/Lan Sizhui
  • Juniors Trio (Jin Ling/Lan Jingyi/Lan Sizhui)
  • Juniors Quartet (Jin Ling/Lan Jingyi/Lan Sizhui/Ouyang Zizhen)
  • Niecest (Nie Mingjue/Nie Huaisang): An incest ship featuring the two Nie brothers, Nie Mingjue and 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.
  • Everybody Lives, or "all the women live," or "everybody except a handful of villain characters lives" are all common in fix-its.
  • 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.
  • Dual Cultivation - What better way to raise power and enhance healing than magic sex?
  • Arranged marriage - Since the canon setting has a long history of arranged marriages (and there are several examples in canon), it's very common to see in fic, especially for WangXian.
  • Rogue Cultivator Wei Wuxian - in canon-divergent fics, Wei Wuxian may not have been adopted by the Jiangs, or may have left them in his early teen years, before the Cloud Recesses lectures.
  • Case Fics are fics where the main plot centers around a mystery or a problem that the characters have been sent to solve, usually in their canon roles as cultivators or in a 'modern with magic' setting. These tend to reflect the canon by having the characters deal with creatures from Chinese Mythology.
  • Immortality and Reincarnation- Especially common in modern AUs, one or more characters may have lived through until the modern day, hoping to reconnect with their family & friends as they reincarnate.
  • Atticwife

There are also fics where the characters are creatures from Chinese Mythology, such as dragons or huli-jing. It is popular in fanart to portray AUs where Lan Wangji is a dragon and Wei Wuxian is a fox. They are often shapeshifters but not always. See Dragonji and Foxxian.

Fusion AUs are also popular, particularly with properties such as Jane Austen books. Relatedly, there are a subset of fics that aren't fusion but instead lean into genres such as Gothic Horror.

There is a popular fanon that Lan Wangji played 'Inquiry' to seek Wei Wuxian's ghost in the years between Wei Wuxian's death and return. The source of this is sometimes pointed to the fic 'Letter for Xian' translated into English by 6989 from the Chinese fic 与羡书 by 蓝忘机. See Inquiry.

Challenges & Events

There are many fic events and challenges, usually based around a character or ship. These are usually publicised on Twitter or Tumblr, with group chats held on Discord.

One challenge was in response to the XiYao Troll, where XiYao ficwriters came together to celebrate their ship in spite of the cruel comments they were receiving.

Example Fanworks

Fandom Primers



Popular Ships

  • Upon Our Silver Bridge by TheWanderingHeart: Case Fic, Post-Canon, Lan Xichen/Jiang Cheng. Lan Xichen's sorrows have caught the attention of something.
  • Lynchpin by ShanaStoryteller: Time Travel Fix-it, Jiang Cheng centric.
  • anyway, here's wuji by kakikaeru: Post-Canon, Lan Jingyi/Lan Sizhui, Wei/Wuxian/Lan Wangji. A fic in which Lan Jingyi comes into his own.
  • raw silk and uncut wood by hisevilforest: Canon Divergence, Song Lan/Xue Yang/Xiao Xingchen.
  • The Montreal Trip by aphilogicalbatman: Modern AU, Xiao Xingchen/Xue Yang/Song Lan.
  • made for each other by flower_dragon: Omegaverse AU, Canon setting, Arranged Marriage, Jiang Yanli/Jin Zixuan. In which Alpha Jiang Yanli and Omega Jin Zixuan are pretending to be the other way around.

A Selection of Rarepairs



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)