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Series / The Untamed

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The Untamed (陈情令; Chen Qing Ling) is the Live-Action Adaptation of the danmei novel Mo Dao Zu Shi by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu. It is directed by Zheng Weiwen and Chen Jialin, and stars idols Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo as the main leads.

The Untamed aired on Tencent from June 27, 2019 to August 20, 2019 (August 14 for those with VIP access and August 7 for VVIP members); with a total of 50 episodes.

The series is also available with English subtitles on Youtube note , WeTV, Viki, and Netflix.

In July 27, 2019, two web movies serving as "side stories" to the main series have been greenlit. The first is titled The Living Dead (生魂; Sheng Hun) and was released on November 7, 2019. This movie focuses on Wen Ning and Lan Sizhui after the events of the series finale, where they investigate a murder mystery in a town near Qishan. The second movie, titled Fatal Journey (乱魄; Luan Po), was released on March 26, 2020. The movie focuses on the lives of Nie Huaisang, Nie Mingjue, and Jin Guangyao prior to Nie Mingjue's death.


A mobile game based on the series has also been confirmed.

The Untamed contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: When Wei Wuxian trolls Wen Chao by reciting the Lan Clan's rules rather than the Wen Clan's as he was supposed to do, Jin Zixuan is seen trying not to smile.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: The fall of Lotus Pier is made even more tragic by having Jiang Yanli be there to see her father one last time, and cry alongside Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng when they inform her of their parents' deaths.
  • Adaptation Deviation: What's most notable about The Untamed is that while it still follows the main concepts of the original story, some things here and there are either slightly changed or completely altered.
    • The biggest change is that it was a different person, Xue Chonghai, who founded demonic cultivation to be used in an effective way, centuries before Wei Wuxian was even born. He created the Yin Iron as well as the sword stuck in the Xuanwu of Slaughter. These 'Yin Iron' pieces allow Wen Ruohan to use demonic cultivation for his plans of conquest.
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    • Various factors make this Wei Wuxian the weakest of all his incarnations when it comes to demonic cultivation in terms of raw power and control.
    • The amount of years that passed during the Time Skip is increased from thirteen to sixteen years. Lan Qiren ordered Lan Wangji into seclusion for three years as part of his punishment.
    • In the novel, Jiang Cheng is known to be the one who killed Wei Wuxian, but Wei Wuxian clarified that it's false. The series reverses this fact. Episode 33 reveals that it's not actually false, but not completely true either.
    • When the Sunshot Campaign ended, the cultivation clans held a celebratory banquet in the Nightless City instead of Golden Qilin Tower as they did in the novel.
    • Lan Wangji, instead of fighting and injuring 33 Lan elders, stood against the Jin Clan at the end of the Sunshot Campaign.
    • By the time Lan Wangji takes Wei Wuxian back to the Cloud Recesses in the present time, Wei Wuxian already knows that Lan Wangji figured out his real identity, hence he doesn't wear his mask in his presence.
    • It isn't an arm that causes the deaths at Mo Manor and starts the plot, but the spirit of Baxia, Nie Mingjue's spiritual sabre leading to its master's remains. The Nie tomb is for the Nie clan's sabres because their spirits tend to become resentful. Jin Guangyao still hid Nie Mingjue's head in Golden Qilin Tower, but the rest of his body remained whole and was hidden in Coffin Town.
    • The aforementioned change also leads to a different sequence of events at the climax. Nie Mingjue's fierce corpse doesn't rise and attack Jin Guangyao. Baxia does, however, by possessing Wen Ning. Nie Mingjue's angry spirit eventually rises too, then killing Jin Guangyao, although this happens off-screen.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Mo Xuanyu's infamous reputation as a Depraved Homosexual is nonexistent in the series, and he's mainly known as as a lunatic. However, something happened, as Jin Ling insulted him by calling him "lewd" or "shameless". Jin Guangyao still falsely accused him, but he instead claimed that Mo Xuanyu had harassed Qin Su.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Canon divergence aside, the series does expand on things that are only either mentioned or featured briefly in the novel and the other adaptations.
    • Wei Wuxian is seen interacting a lot more with the Jiang siblings and with Nie Huaisang. Additionally, he has more interactions with Lan Wangji prior to the Xuanwu Cave arc.
    • The Soul-Eating Goddess has a larger role in the plot, even appearing in the Flashback Arc and being part of the cause of Wen Ning's weak constitution.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: Since Wei Wuxian had already met Xue Yang prior to the events of the Yi City arc, how Xue Yang will be able to fool him by disguising as Xiao Xingchen remains to be seen. Episode 37 answers this by having Xue Yang use a mask to change his face to Xiao Xingchen's.
  • Adaptation Name Change: The title of the Live-Action Adaptation is changed to The Untamed, due to a significant plot change in which Wei Wuxian is not the founder of demonic cultivation. Chenqingling (陈情令), the Chinese title of the show does not translate to The Untamed. The name itself comes from the alternate portmanteau/ship name of the main couple, Wei Wuxian (魏无羡) and Lan Wangji (蓝忘机), 'wuji' (无机) which is a homophone of 'wuji' (无羁) which then translates to 'untamed.' 'Wuji' is also the name of the theme/end credits song — in the novel, this song is called 'wangxian' (忘羡).
  • Adapted Out:
    • The production crew confirmed that The Untamed will not have the romance between Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji. That being said, there's still a lot of homoerotic subtext to be found in the series (see But Not Too Gay below).
    • The Second Siege still happens, although it doesn't include the part where the Wen remnants briefly came back to life to help the protagonists fend off the corpses summoned by the Yin Tiger Seal.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: One can play music with the leaf, and leaf-blowing is an actual thing in Real Life; although it wouldn't produce flute-like sounds.
  • Angry Collar Grab: It happens often. The biggest offender is Jiang Cheng. Three guesses to who he does it to.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: Those who own a rabbit or are generally familiar with Real Life animal care are likely to wince when Wei Wuxian tossed a rabbit at Jiang Cheng and when he held another rabbit in a way that it was lying belly-up. This is because rabbits are sensitive animals that frighten easily, so when they're shocked enough they might literally die of a heart attack. Throwing them or making them lie on their backs is a good way to do that.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Part of the reason why the cultivation clans turned against Wei Wuxian was because they wanted the power of the Yin Tiger Seal. During the Nightless City attack, Wei Wuxian destroys half of it and watches in mad glee as the clans fight and kill each other for the other half.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Exempting the protagonists, some of the characters win some as much as they lose some. One such example is Jiang Cheng, who doesn't lose Jin Ling or suffer the loss of his clan again; but even after finding closure with Wei Wuxian, their relationship remains distant without any reassurance that they can be friends, let alone brothers, again. Although in contrast to the novel, the series adds a slightly more hopeful touch by having Jiang Cheng gently telling Wei Wuxian to take care of himself, confirming that at least there's no hard feelings anymore.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Regularly happens, both from lethal and non-lethal reasons, like a sword through the gut, vomiting tainted blood, or somebody having their spiritual powers forcefully sealed.
  • Bloodless Carnage: While there are a few fight scenes that feature blood, more often than not there isn't.
  • Book-Ends:
    • Wei Wuxian's existence as the Yiling Patriarch starts the same way as it ends - by falling off a cliff in the Burial Mounds.
    • The Yi City arc begins with Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian, two cultivators clad in white and black respectively, walking the path towards the eponymous city, facing the audience. Shortly before it ends, Song Lan leaves the city, mind free, holding Xiao Xingchen's soul in the sprit-trapping pouch. The scene blurs to both him and Xiao Xingchen walking side by side, clad in black and white respectively, backs turned to the audience.
    • Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji part on top of a cliff as Wei Wuxian plummets to the drop Lan Wangji was trying to save him from in Episode 1. Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian part in Episode 50 on top of another mountain in front of a cliff, amiciable, both at peace, to fulfill the oath they made to and with each other as disciples, with the hope to meet again... and they do.
  • The Bus Came Back: After Mianmian tells off everyone who slandered Wei Wuxian at Golden Qilin Tower, she leaves the Jin Clan and isn't seen again... until some time after the Time Skip when Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji encounter her while heading for the Burial Mounds. She appears for long enough for the audience to know that she's fine and doing much better living as a rogue cultivator than as a disciple of the Jin Clan.
  • But Not Too Gay: Almost inverted. Before the series got aired, the crew stated that Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji's relationship will not be romantic in this adaptation, due to the censorship laws of China. However, that didn't stop the series from showing heavy homosexual subtext between the two in every episode.
  • Call-Back:
    • Lan Wangji offers to carry Wei Wuxian who is in pain because of the curse mark on his leg. He reminds him that he once offered to carry Lan Wangji because of his leg injury when they were Wen's hostages. Unlike Wei Wuxian back then, and because they can show weakness, Lan Wangji doesn't take no for an answer and pulls Wei Wuxian onto his back.
    • Lan Wangji accuses Wei Wuxian that he never remembers important moments between them. Later, Wei Wuxian voluntarily reminisces with him about the adventures and little moments they shared.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Jin Zixuan with Jiang Yanli. Boy goes through a couple of tries until he finally manages to tell her that he likes her.
  • Canon Foreigner: Xue Chonghai, the creator of the Yin Iron and possibly Xue Yang's ancestor, didn't exist in the novel or in the other adaptations.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: I mean, have you seen the show? Case in point.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Early on, Wei Wuxian creates a talisman that explodes into small flashes of light, which is best for creating distractions. Lan Wangji uses this when the Wen Clan arrives to attack the Cloud Recesses, and is revealed to hold onto another when they arrive at Yunping City and Wen Ning gets harassed (albeit harmlessly) by some young boys.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The main five clans mostly have the same colors as the novel, though Qinghe Nie is now dark gray instead of dark green and Qishan Wen is now red and black instead of white and red.
  • Counting to Three: Inverted. When Jin Zixun continues to be reluctant in telling Wei Wuxian where the surviving Wens are being detained, Wei Wuxian threatens to use lethal force if he doesn't start talking and begins to count down from three to one. Jin Zixuan caves after Wei Wuxian counts down to two.
  • Dramatic Unmask: In Episode 34, this occurs in Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng's second encounter in the present time, with Wei Wuxian being threatened into revealing his face. It happens again in Episode 42 when Wei Wuxian's true identity is exposed to the rest of the cultivators and he's cornered with nowhere to run.
  • Fainting: Of the Exhaustion Faint form. Wei Wuxian falls unconscious several times across the span of the series because he overtaxed his body, often while he is still recovering from injuries. Occasionally it's a Power-Strain Blackout after using demonic cultivation.
  • Faux Fluency: Downplayed. Save for Lan Yi's actress Carman Lee, who speaks in Cantonese, all the other actors and actresses can speak Mandarin. However, the Chinese language contains several dialects than can sound confusing for part of the Chinese audience note . Therefore, voice actors are hired to dub over the characters, and standard Mandarin is used.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: In the finale, once Jin Guangyao is completely cornered with no more means of escaping, Lan Xichen warns him that he will strike him down if he tries anything. Almost immediately, the camera cuts to Nie Huaisang giving a cold and calculating look at both of them. When Lan Xichen turns to Nie Huaisang to tend to his wounds, the latter suddenly shouts that Jin Guangyao was about to do something... and Lan Xichen carries through with his threat.
  • Fond Memories That Could Have Been: Episode 19 shows Jiang Cheng dreaming about his family, including Wei Wuxian, living happily together with none of the problems that plagued them in reality.
  • Foreshadowing: When the Wens capture Wei Wuxian, he's dramatically thrown into the inn, and then Wen Zhuliu, the Core-Melting Hand, walks in, giving his own hand a curious look. He tried melting Wei Wuxian's core, but it failed because Wei Wuxian has secretly had it removed and transferred to Jiang Cheng.
  • Forgot About His Powers: In general, The Untamed has the characters pull off new abilities that weren't featured in the novel or the other adaptations. Said abilities are used only once or twice throughout the entire duration of the series.
  • Framing Device: Wei Wuxian's dreams after he falls unconscious in Episode 2 serve as a window into the past, showing in one long series of one Flashback the story of his demise.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The series keeps the scene where Wei Wuxian pranks Lan Wangji by switching his book with porn. But when paused at the right moment, the viewer can see that he actually showed Lan Wangji longyang (homosexual porn).
  • Genre Savvy: When Zidian fails to work on Wei Wuxian in Episode 2, Jiang Cheng doesn't leave corners unchecked and demands that he takes off his mask. It's only thanks to the intervention of the Lan Clan that this doesn't happen.
  • Held Gaze: Nearly every time Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji are looking at each other, this occurs. It doesn't matter what's going on in the background, these two will stare at each other, seeming to have entire conversations without uttering a word.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: When Wei Wuxian talks about Xiao Xingchen and Song Lan and how they had many bad things happen to them despite being heroic and selfless people, Lan Wangji suddenly snatches Wei Wuxian's drink and downs it out of frustration. This is clearly because both of them remind him of Wei Wuxian's situation: a good man who had everything wrong going for them because of things outside their control — all of which were pinned on him anyway.
  • Laughing Mad: Jin Guangyao starts laughing as he explains why he finally turned against his father.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Granted, all the male characters have long hair in the original canon, but their hairstyles vary greatly. Here, almost all of the men let most of their hair loose.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": When Wei Wuxian threatens to use Chenqing in one of the banquets hosted by the Jin Clan, all the cultivators present immediately stand up with half of them brandishing their swords.
  • Master Actor: Jin Guangyao and Nie Huaisang have both spent years concealing their true natures from the entire world. Nie Huaisang takes it a step further and manages to fool even Jin Guangyao.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • During one of their conversations in the Nightless City, Wei Wuxian gives Lan Wangji an Armor-Piercing Question about the Grey-and-Gray Morality of their world. Later on, Lan Wangji repeats this question to his uncle while receiving his punishment for defending Wei Wuxian.
    • One of Jiang Cheng's first spoken lines is telling Wei Wuxian to go to hell before striking him dead — giving the audience an idea of how much he hates Wei Wuxian. In the finale, he tells Wei Wuxian (albeit not to his face) to take care of himself, showing that he's let go of his hatred and will no longer chain Wei Wuxian down.
    • In Episode 2, while having a drink, Wei Wuxian sees reflections of both the Jiang siblings talking to him. One of the things Jiang Cheng's reflection says is how they promised to be the Twin Prides of Yunmeng, similar to how the Lan brothers are known as the Twin Jades of Lan. In Episode 48, after Jiang Cheng learns that Wei Wuxian gave him his golden core, Jiang Cheng angrily reminds Wei Wuxian of that promise and accuses him of forgetting and disregarding it so easily, in spite of learning that the truth was more complicated than he realized.
  • Mythology Gag
  • Neck Lift: Wen Ruohan drags Wei Wuxian several meters through the air with his powers before he physically grabs him by the throat when his intervention undoes his control over his puppets.
  • Not So Different: A character's behavior in public is a mask to hide their true nature. They're involved in plotting against (and ultimately causing the death of) someone they were once close to. Now, is this a description of Jin Guangyao or Nie Huaisang?
  • Ominous Fog: Yi City is wreathed inside it.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: The first episode starts with showing Wei Wuxian's final moments in the Burial Mounds, with Lan Wangji trying to save Wei Wuxian from falling and Jiang Cheng stabbing the latter so he would fall. Episode 33 replays the same scene again and reveals that not all was as it seemed.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Wen Zhuliu will do anything the Wen Clan asks of him because he's grateful to them for his advancement, but he clearly takes no pleasure in Wen Chao's overt sadism, and at least twice keeps silent about information valuable to the Wen Clan: the drugged wine during the rescue of Jiang Cheng from the occupied Lotus Pier, and Wei Wuxian's mysteriously absent core during his abduction. Wei Wuxian deconstructs this during their confrontation. Even if his motivation is gratitude and not malevolence, he's still tortured and killed countless innocent people in his service to the Wen Clan.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The rabbits, of course. They're basically walking cotton balls with paws and ears.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: Jin Guangyao does this during his confrontation with Jiang Cheng in the final arc.
  • Series Continuity Error
  • Sheath Strike: Cultivators usually dual wield their swords and their sheaths in battle.
  • Ship Tease: The series gives a bit of this between Jiang Cheng and Wen Qing, although it ultimately ends in a Ship Sinking due to their loyalties to their respective clans, and any novel-reader knows that Wen Qing's death is a Foregone Conclusion.
  • Shout-Out: In Episode 20, Lan Wangji attacks a few Wen soldiers and asks them about Wei Wuxian's whereabouts, and learns that Wei Wuxian was thrown into the Burial Mounds. This also happened in the donghua, although it was Wen Chao who told Lan Wangji the news and it was Lan Wangji who was at a disadvantage.
  • Shown Their Work: When Lan Wangji plays a song from Dongying (Japan), anyone with a keen ear will notice that the song is Japanese rather than Chinese in terms of music composition.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Played for Laughs. When Wei Wuxian sneaks into the other chambers of Golden Qilin Tower via a paper talisman, the track playing at the moment is reminiscent of a modern-day spy comedy film, which can sound odd and jarring.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: Not that the original novel ended on a bleak note, but prior to the finale airing, many hints were dropped that the Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji would go their separate ways in the end. While that seemed to be the case at first near the final five minutes of the episode, the very last scene subverts this; after playing the flute alone on a mountaintop, Wei Wuxian hears a very familiar voice call his name, then after turning around and seeing who it is, he smiles The Special Edition subverts it further by showing that Wei Wuxian is now living in the Cloud Recesses.
  • Take a Third Option: While the Four Great Clans are celebrating the Wen Clan's defeat, Jin Guangshan brings up the dissolved Arranged Marriage between Jin Zixuan and Jiang Yanli and subtly tries to railroad Jiang Cheng into reconsidering his father's decision. Jiang Cheng knows that he can't just refuse, but there are just as much downsides if he accepts — his personal dislike for Jin Zixuan notwithstanding. Wei Wuxian then steps in and states that Jiang Yanli is the one who should decide since she's the one they want to have married off.
  • Tamer and Chaster: Similar to the donghua, The Untamed takes a less graphic approach in adapting the more disturbing scenes of the novel.
  • Tears of Joy: Wei Wuxian and Lan Sizhui shed these after they properly recognize each other from their past.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: When Jiang Cheng strongholds Wei Wuxian into showing his face in Episode 34, this trope is written all over Wei Wuxian's expression as he takes off the mask.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Unlike in the manhua and donghua, most of the characters are seen changing their attire every now and then. Even Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji wore different garments in the past, although in the present time they stick to one or two outfits at best.
  • The Unreveal:
    • It stays a mystery where Wei Wuxian's body vanished to after he fell off the cliff in Episode 1.
    • While Lan Wangji's brand scar is kept in the series, how he got it is never explained. Although one can assume that the reasons are the same as in the novel.
  • Villain Has a Point: In spite of Jin Guangyao being even more sinister than his novel or all his other counterparts, he still remains in the right when he coldly reminds Jiang Cheng that he's greatly to blame for all the bad things that happened to Wei Wuxian when he was still the Yiling Patriarch. Even if Jin Guangyao never enacted his plans to screw Wei Wuxian over, the fact remains that Jiang Cheng still didn't trust his friend enough and eventually abandoned him when things got too hot for him to handle, and this was long before Jin Ling's parents were killed. Jiang Cheng can only seethe in anger since he can't refute anything the other says.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Starting from the middle of Episode 2, Wei Wuxian dreams of the events that led to his demise sixteen years ago. This flashback ends in Episode 33 where he wakes up in Lan Wangji's chambers.
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: The soul-summoning ritual brings Wei Wuxian back into Mo Xuanyu's body but this is identified only by the fact that the actor's mole is covered with makeup during the present-day scenes, and unobscured in the flashback scenes. Various characters react to him as Mo Xuanyu, and the dialogue confirms he wears the mask because other cultivators - namely those from the Jin Clan - have seen Mo Xuanyu's uncovered face when he studied in Lanling.
  • Wire Fu: This is used liberally in lieu of showing the cultivators flying on their swords, which only happens a few times over the show's run.
  • Wuxia
  • You Are Grounded: An implicit example happens in Episode 25 when Lan Qiren prevents Lan Wangji from accompanying his brother and tells him to rewrite the clan's rulebook instead. This happens again when Lan Wangji attempts to stop the Jin Clan from razing the Burial Mounds; after having Lan Wangji receive three-hundred whips, he's forced to stay in a cave for three years.


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