YMMV: The Witcher

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    Mixed media 
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Who do you want to root for? A bunch of back-stabbing racists? The evil empire conquering known world? Mages and sorceresses playing their own game of world domination? Cruel elven supremacists? Or maybe an ignorant hunter, who kills everyone in his way? Oh, and you know from the start how meaningless everything is, since you are informed before the title page of the first book about the incoming ice age.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Scoia'tael. Militant racist fanatics whose open goal is total genocide of humans? Check. Killing non-humans who believe in possibility of peaceful coexistence? Check. Unwitting pawns of The Empire, which exploit them as disposable mooks, then sell them off as war criminals when it comes to the peace negotiations? Check. Oh, but how can oppressed freedom fighters possibly be evil? Scoia'tael are written as a deconstruction of the Always Chaotic Evil trope, and they make a good example of why this trope is necessary - because when you give your evil mooks faces and realistic motivations, some readers just won't be able to see what's so evil about them.
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    • Nilfgaard Empire. Nazis By Other Name with a dash of Mongol Invasion. Oppressive totalitarian state where saying the wrong thing gets your head cut off. Slavery. Their armies sadistically slaughter civilians as the statutory war tactic and burn everything to the ground as the long-term economic strategy. All this under the pretense of bringing culture to the conquered lands. Surprisingly, part of the audience goes along with this in-universe propaganda, whitewashing Nilfgaard as the beacon of justice and Realpolitik in this Crapsack World.
    • Northern Kingdoms. A Crapsack World bent on extreme racism toward non-humans, bigotry, envy and exploitation of serfs. Nobles abusing their privileges. Magicians controlling the market and living luxurious lives on the cost of everyone. Both nobles and magic users looking for their own petty profit and nothing else. Not that their nominal rulers are any better or smarter. Common people are a nasty combination of Medieval Morons and Torches and Pitchforks, usually led by some Church Militant priest. Unsurprisingly, because of Sympathetic P.O.V., many people consider Nordlings and their kingdoms as a nice place to stay and a home of freedom and liberty, where everyone (supposedly) is a master of his or her life.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Dandelion. He's the ultimate Spoony Bard. As the saga progresses, he becomes the only spot of light, wits and humour in this grim-dark world. In the TV adaptation, he was the only character to be acclaimed by both fans of the saga and regular viewers. His popularity was actively invoked in the tabletop game and he's still there in the video games, gaining even more fans. A rare case when a Non-Action Guy (and more or less The Load) in an action-oriented genre becomes highly popular. Being just a regular guy in the World of Badass helps immensely.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The main choice of the game becomes harder (or easier) if you've read 'The Lesser Evil' in The Last Wish.
  • Ink Stain Adaptation: Initially played straight after the film adaptation (still getting a lot of bad air after a decade). When the first game was released, the execs were seriously afraid of the outcry the film left. But since the games expanded into a trilogy and generated enough hype to convince the books' author to write a Prequel, it's now a very good subversion.

    Film and TV series 
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Aside from wooden acting and Special Effect Failure, this is one of the reasons why fans hate the movie and TV series. Where do we start? Vesemir is not a witcher but an old druid, the witchers are fighting with katanas and a full list of changes would fill a whole new full page (some of them can be found here).

    Short stories and saga 
  • Complete Monster: While the series runs mostly on Grey and Gray Morality there are exceptions:
    • Vilgefortz of Roggeveen was an ambitious, misogynistic member of the Chapter of Sorcerers who desired unlimited power at any cost. Vilgefortz betrayed his sorcerer comrades to Nilfgaard, facilitating a bloodbath, not even because he actually switched sides, but to create a distraction for his own personal power play. He thought that Ciri's "blood" as per prophecy didn't refer to her progeny, but to her actual blood, so he performed vivisection experiments on living women, the results of which made even hardened special agents blanch, in preparation for extracting Ciri's placenta, so that he could use it for some arcane purposes. Incapable of feeling empathy for anyone and craving world domination, Vilgefortz's plans repulsed even the other villains of the piece's Crapsack World.
    • Leo Bonhart was a bounty hunter originally tasked with killing or capturing a young girl named Ciri on behalf of two different patrons. However, when he found her, instead of doing either, Bonhart decided to take Ciri for himself. Before that though, Bonhart enjoyed himself by slaughtering the Rats, a criminal group Ciri was staying with who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. Murdering them and cutting their heads off, Bonhart saved Ciri's lover, Mistle, for last, forcing Ciri to watch as Mistle died slowly and painfully before he cut off her head as well. Once Ciri was in his clutches, Bonhart beat her, drugged her with fisstech, and forced her to kill people in fights to the death at the Claremont arena. Bonhart would later kill Neratin Ceka when he tried to help Ciri escape from Bonhart, Rience and Skellen at the village of Unicorn. Deciding to hunt Ciri down for Vilgefortz, Bonhart first asked if he could watch Vilgefortz's planned vivisection of Ciri as part of his payment. Bonhart eventually participated in the defense of Stygga Castle, where he once again tried to kill Ciri and succeeded in killing her ally, Cahir. Bonhart relished fighting and killing more than anything in the world, tried to rape a prisoner at one point, expressed a desire to rape Ciri either before or after impaling her on his sword and feeling her slowly die, and was so evil that a psychic found the sensation of scanning his mind akin to sticking her head into a freshly opened grave.
  • Mary Sue: Ciri. The further the story goes, the more she turns into such a character and it's really hard to decide which kind of Mary Sue she is. Everyone falls in love with her the moment they meet, often going on suicidal missions to aid her, including an emotionless witcher. To sum things up from all the books: she is the orphaned Broken Bird princess of fallen kingdom, trained into a killing machine by witchers, user of unique, powerful magic which is part of a Saving the World prophecy and a scheme to Take Over the World (with the ability to travel between time and universes) and her mount is a Cool Horse magically connected with her. She also befriends a unicorn, was part of a teenage outlaws' pack, wields an Infinity+1 Sword, takes down a small army of Mooks on a frozen lake while skating in mist and as a cherry topping, she kills Leo Bonhart, who was known as being able to take down witchers without breaking a sweat. Did we mention she's around 10 when introduced and 18 or younger when the saga ends?
  • Money, Dear Boy: After years of constant claiming that he would never return to Witcher, that he considered it his worst creation and practically burning all the bridges, the author is publishing another book, calling the saga his biggest achievement and best idea ever. No wonder if it was the only one successful and is hyped again by video games. To his credit, he openly admits this trope.
    • Hardly the only one successful, his Hussite trilogy is highly regardednote . Since he doesn't publish all that often, that makes Sapkowski an author of a greatly popular fantasy cycle, a somewhat popular Historical Fantasy trilogy, and a passable war-with-fantasy-elements novel.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Leo Bonhart crosses his almost immediately after his first appearance in Tower of the Swallow, when after brutally killing all the Rats except Ciri, he makes her watch her lover Mistle slowly and painfully die, then forces her to watch as he saws their heads off... leaving Mistle for the last.
  • Sequelitis: Depending who you ask, you can get few conflicting answers:
  • Stuck in Their Shadow: Codhringer does all the dealing with people, as Fenn cannot leave their office and generally prefers to stay in the back. As a result of that, it's speculated Codhringer made up Fenn for tax evasion purposes.
  • Too Cool to Live: Geralt and Yennefer.
  • Torch the Franchise and Run: Geralt gets killed with a pitchfork in the last book of the Saga. Most of the named characters by that point are already dead, are dying or will be dead soon. And just to Salt the Earth, the whole world will soon plummet into a Black Death-like epidemic, as if being doomed to die in an ice age wasn't enough. The video game comes out with a Cosmic Retcon about few things. The author threatened to introduce another Cosmic Retcon of his own with a new book he's writing, disregarding the video game continuity, as he officially claimed during 2012 Polcon that he considered the new continuum to be crap and that he won't go back to writing about Geralt... but he will stick with his world, so the fandom still can't rejoice.
    • Luckily, the new book turned out to be not only about Geralt after all, but also rather non-conflicting with the games, the story being set long before that of the Saga.

    Tabletop game 

    Video games 
  • Ass Pull: Some attempts by the games at making morality more grey has it pulling stuff almost out of nowhere, most notably the ending in the first game where the Big Bad's motivation turns out to be preparation for an ice age, which makes no sense to someone that didn't read the books (especially since most players probably haven't heard of them).
  • Complete Monster:
    • Azar Javed is an Evil Sorcerer and Mad Scientist all in one and the front-man of the evil group Salamandra. Murdering his teachers for objecting to his use of forbidden magic, Azar Javed recruited many humans to Salamandra. Javed used his followers at cannon fodder to attack the Witcher home castle Kaer Morhen to steal their secrets on mutation and had children captured to serve as test subjects for the experiments. He used many humans as the subjects of the experiments and led the Salamandra on vicious anti-human crusades, leading to the deaths of many innocents. Azar Javed would also murder a man by infesting him with the eggs of exotic flies and murder a detective who got too close to his trail before confronting Geralt and trying to kill him as well.
    • The Reverend, the spiritual leader of Vizima's Outskirts seems to be a fair, if slightly rude priest at first glance, but is actually a Knight Templar psychopath. He has his own pregnant daughter thrown out of the village for refusing to follow the psycho-cult religion he does, forcing her to become a prostitute just to get by, and whips his own people into a frenzy by scapegoating Abigail as responsible for the recent rise in monster attacks, forming them into a howling lynch mob. He does this merely out of petty spite and prejudice. If Geralt (rightfully) prevents the lynching, even after saving the village from the monsters, the Reverend will try to have him killed, again purely out of petty spite. He doesn't fight Geralt himself first, but manipulates dozens of innocent villagers to attack, willing to sacrifice the lives of his own village just because Geralt hasn't let him murder an innocent woman.
    • Bernard Loredo
  • Ending Fatigue: Act V and the Epilogue of the first game are, for the most part, linear sequences of fights. Whilst the plot is advanced decently, the gameplay doesn't exactly have a hub like the previous acts, meaning that for the most part you'll just be running around killing dudes. This quickly gets tedious, boring, and if you haven't levelled up enough or aren't good at combat, frustrating.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Siegfried, for being a legitimate Nice Guy.
    • Who instantly turns into a racist bastard if you don't go his way at the end of chapter V.
  • Fridge Brilliance: Thaler's real name is Bernard Ducat. Ducat is the name of valuable medieval gold coin while thaler is a common silver coin. Very fitting, given that Thaler is a high-ranking official (Foltest's spymaster) posing as a lowly commoner.
    • Geralt and Letho are in the end Not So Different; both Witchers, but unusually compassionate people whom have been conscripted into the service of a Monarch whether they like it or not, and both of them are motivated beyond self-interest to willingly stay in their service. The contrast is that Geralt doesn't want to bring unnecessary conflict to himself and his friends while Letho is trying to create a safe haven for his own kind.
  • Game Breaker:
    • The Igni Sign — boost it as much as you can, as soon as you can, and you'll be able to waltz through the second half of the game without bothering to even unsheathe your sword: enemies (bosses included) will drop dead like flies.
    • The Aard as well, especially early on. Most humanoid enemies and dogs (including the first act boss) can be knocked over and one-shot-killed with just the basic version.
  • Woolseyism: The re-released Enhanced Edition of the game. The original version of the dialogue scripts was cut down by 20% through Executive Meddling just to save money on voice acting for a rather risky project due to how niche it was deemed to be. The end result, while workable, sounded pretty awkward. The Enhanced Edition, which came later as both a retail re-release and a free-to-download patch, features a mostly re-recorded script with no cuts applied to the source material to make it sound more natural and make the English version of the game just as complete dialogue-wise as the Polish original was. Here's example of the changes made:
    • Original:
    Geralt: Why do locals persecute nonhumans?
    Dwarf: Humans have always hated dwarves and elves.
    Geralt: I don't understand.
    Dwarf: Then go see that bastard Brogg. I won't discuss it with strangers.
    Geralt: Understandable.

    • Enhanced:
    Geralt: Why do the locals persecute nonhumans?
    Dwarf: Why do pricks go in cunts? It's the natural order of things. Humans have always hated dwarves and elves. Not for me to know why.
    Geralt: I'm not sure I understand.
    Dwarf: Then ponder it on your own. Or discuss it with that maggot Brogg. I don't talk to strangers about these things.
    Geralt: Fine.