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The Witcher franchise started off as a collection of loosely connected Dark Heroic Fantasy short stories which deconstructed classic Fairy Tales and then evolved into a series of novels with a strong Myth Arc. Written by the Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski during The '90s, the books were translated into multiple languages (including Russian and German) and adapted into comics, the Film/Live-Action TV series The Hexer, and The Witcher tabletop RPG. The franchise first gained widespread attention in the English-speaking world, though, with the release of The Witcher, a video game adaptation-slash-sequel by the then-unknown Polish developer studio, CD Projekt RED, English translations of the original novels have followed. As of 2018, all eight books have received official English translations. They have also been fan translated, and were freely available in The Witcher forum community "Our Community Fan Translations" tread. Also, after a long development, a long-awaited English-language series, written by TV veteran Thania St. John and based on two short stories collections (The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny), has been co-produced by Netflix, Platige Image and Sean Daniel Company, and was released on Netflix on the 20th of December 2019.


The original books were:

  • The Last Wish (Ostatnie życzenie, 1993; English edition: 2007)—a short story collection with a Framing Device, reprinting four stories from a previous collection, The Witcher (Wiedźmin, 1990), alongside new material, arranged in order to better fit into the emerging continuity;
  • Sword of Destiny (Miecz Przeznaczenia, 1992; English edition: 2015)—a short story collection;
  • Blood of Elves (Krew elfów, 1994; English edition: 2008)—a novel (The Witcher Saga #1);
  • The Time of Contempt (Czas Pogardy, 1995; English edition: 2013)—a novel (The Witcher Saga #2);
  • Baptism of Fire (Chrzest Ognia, 1996; English edition: 2014)—a novel (The Witcher Saga #3);
  • Tower of the Swallow (Wieża jaskółki, 1997; English edition: 2016)—a novel (The Witcher Saga #4);
  • Lady of the Lake (Pani jeziora, 1999; English edition: 2017)—a novel (The Witcher Saga #5); and
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  • Season of Storms (Sezon burz, 2013; English edition: 2018)—a novel, set around the time of the short stories.

The five novels from Blood of Elves to Lady of the Lake are collectively known as the Witcher Saga. In addition to these, there were two loosely related short stories: Droga, z której się nie wraca (Road of No Return), a prequel telling the tale of Geralt's parents and Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna (Something Ends, Something Begins), a non-canonical story of Geralt's and Yennefer's wedding.

Other books:

  • Tales from the World of The Witcher (Opowieści ze świata Wiedźmina, 2013), an anthology of short fiction by Russian and Ukrainian authors.
  • The World of the Witcher (2015), a guide to world written from the In-Universe perspective of Geralt and his companions.
  • Claws and Fangs (Szpony i kły, 2017), an anthology of short fiction by Polish authors, a result of a contest organized by a Polish speculative fiction magazine.

Video games:

Comic Books:

  • Wiedźmin (1993-1995)
  • The Witcher: Reasons of State (2011)
  • The Witcher: House of Glass (2014)
  • The Witcher: Fox Children (2015)
  • The Witcher: Killing Monsters (2015)
  • The Witcher: Matters of Conscience (2015)
  • The Witcher: Curse of Crows (2016-2017)
  • The Witcher: Of Flesh and Flame (2018-2019)
  • The Witcher: Fading Memories (2020-2021)
  • The Witcher: Witch's Lament (2021)
  • The Witcher: A Grain of Truth (2022)


Tabletop games:

Television Series:

Please add installment- and character-specific examples directly to their respective pages.

The world of The Witcher provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Dozens. There are also dryads, a One-Gender Race of Action Girls.
  • Active Royalty: Various examples.
  • All Myths Are True: Averted. There are many examples of false hoaxes and folk tales during the series. There are various myths about vampires, witchers and monsters that people groundlessly believe. Though some of them turn out to be more or less correct, like the story about golden dragons, or belief in destiny.
    • The story of Cinderella exists in-universe, and was based on an actual event. The true story? Princess Cendrilla was eaten whole by a Zeugl living in the palace pond, leaving behind only a shoe. Less of a happy ending there. There was another take on it where the woman in question, tired of unwanted advances from a nobleman at a ball, fled the ball, dropping her shoe in the process.
  • All Women Are Lustful: If the female characters aren't propositioning Geralt for sex, they're talking about it with other characters.
    • Arguably, played with. Some of them just act like that to manipulate men.
  • Alternate Continuity: Sapkowski has stated that while he fully trusts the developers' skill at storytelling, he doesn't feel beholden to the games' continuity; they're effectively a high-budget Fan Sequel. However, he belatedly declared the basic assumption of the games' plot (the fact that Geralt and Yennefer survived the end of the books) to be official - but if he decides to write another sequel, he reserves the right to ignore the games' continuity. Unlike your typical adaptation, it's pretty evident that the game developers worked hard to maintain continuity with the books. They pretty much use any given opportunity to add Continuity Nods to the events in the books, even when it might do nothing but confuse any poor player who enjoys the game but has never read the source material.
    • Sapkowski's own short story "Something Ends, Something Begins" presents an alternate happy ending where Geralt and Yennefer have married at last. According to him, the story is non-canonical, as it was a wedding gift to his friends.
    • Some of the comics could be considered this as well. For example, Fox Children tells the same story as part of Season Of Storms, albeit with a number of differences in continuity, most notably that in the comic, Geralt begins the story with his swords, while he has already been divested of them at this point in the book and is attempting to travel to Novigrad to get them back.
  • Anachronism Stew: See Medieval European Fantasy below.
  • And I Must Scream: Object Compression is a spell that turns people into small statues. Lytta Neyd is particularly fond of using this spell on those who displease her. It's also how Yennefer is smuggled out of Thanedd after Vilgefortz's coup. The process is stated to be very painful, especially as it compresses the internal organs and can damage them when the spell is reversed.
  • Armor Is Useless: Justified in the case of Witchers. Since they are made and trained to kill monsters that are naturally stronger than humans and more capable of punching through armor, Witchers tend to dress lightly and adopt a more mobile fighting style that emphasizes dodging attacks.
  • Author Usurpation: Andrzej Sapkowski has written other books, but everyone only cares about and knows him for The Witcher - much to his frustration.
  • Basilisk and Cockatrice: These are two separate creatures. A basilisk is a venomous reptile with an extremely potent neurotoxin, while a cockatrice is an avian-reptile hybrid (the description brings to mind an evolutionary missing link) that hunts by stalking its prey and attacking a weak point. Basilisk leather and cockatrice feathers are considered prime quality by, respectively, fashionistas and scribes. Also, both can be killed with a mirror — if hit square in the head, of course.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: There is very little "white" or even "lighter gray" morality to be found here. In most cases, choices have to be made between letting a horrible person win, or letting a really horrible person win. Even heroic characters like Triss and Yennefer are lying and manipulative, and Geralt admits to being an Unscrupulous Hero on several occasions, especially calling himself a "murderer".
    • This is especially evident with the ongoing war between Nilfgaard and the Northern Kingdoms. The former is an expansionist empire that has started multiple unprovoked wars against the latter, committing atrocities up to and including outright genocide on the population. However, the North isn't really much better. They often war among themselves when they're not dealing with Nilfgaard, and even when Nilfgaard is on the warpath, they'll happily stab each other in the back to increase their own spheres of influence even slightly. Both sides also frequently serve as antagonistic forces against Geralt and company, making it all the more evident that there is no real "good" side in the conflict.
  • Black-and-White Morality: This is what happened in-universe to Geralt's story over time and one of the reasons it became the setting's equivalent of Arthurian Legend. It turns out that when you live in a Crapsack World, people need to believe that there's justice in the world, that good triumphs over evil, and that Happily Ever Afters exist. Even if it doesn't reflect what actually happened.
  • Blessed with Suck/Cursed With Awesome:
    • On the one hand, Witchers have it good. Their mutations make them resistant to most poisons and diseases (which allows them to ingest normally toxic potions), they have superior strength and reflexes, are extremely long-lived, and can see well in the dark, among other things. On the other hand, they're social pariahs, widely regarded as freaks and monsters by the masses, are seldom treated or even paid well and they are sterile. Also, as Lambert makes clear, traumatized children taken from their homes for a career they might not want, made to go through an often fatal Training from Hell, and then physiologically altered tends to make for some pretty screwed-up adults.
    • Ciri can arguably qualify. Being a princess of a politically important kingdom is nothing when compared with the ability to travel through time and universes. Thanks to that she is hunted by virtually everyone, for a dozen different schemes.
  • Boring, but Practical: In-Universe, this is the point of Signs. While not nearly as powerful or flashy as the spells mages and sorceresses can do, they can be cast quickly and with one hand, so they are very useful in the middle of combat.
  • Canon Discontinuity: See Alternate Continuity above. While the newest novel didn't directly contradict the games, Andrzej Sapkowski has stated that potential future novels won't make references to or acknowledge the plot of the video games.
  • Church Militant: No less militant than anyone else.
  • Code of Honour: Geralt often quotes The Witcher Code as a reason why he can't accept a certain contract or why he can't get involved with whatever problems someone else wants him to resolve. He made the whole thing up in order to be able to avoid accepting contracts he doesn't want to do and to protect himself from the potential backlash of refusing to help someone. It also helps with his personal rep, since people believe he is bound by the Witcher Code and therefore not going to do his own thing and muck things up because he feels he should.
  • Continuity Snarl: Despite the amount of work put into the games to keep them as faithful to the novels as possible, there are some nagging anachronisms present such as wrong dates note  and a book written 200 years after the series appearing in the first game.note 
  • Corrupt Church: But it's mostly due to the general world's crapsackiness. Nenneke of the Temple of Melitele (where Geralt tends to go for healing) is definitely a good character. The rule of thumb is: male priests are corrupt.
    • A bigger example is the Church of the Eternal Fire, which is rotten to the fucking core. Most of the hired clergy is former torturers and assorted scum-of-the-earth types. They use hired thugs to harass unbelievers and people who they deem "heretics" and use their funds to cater to vices that they claim to be above.
      • And you can guess how a church that worships fire likes to deal with "heretics"...
    • Downplayed with priest Krepp in "The Last Wish". He sure is an arrogant asshole with good share of prejudice in his worldview, but the way he helps Geralt with teleportation and even risking his life in the process reveals him as a sincere and faithful man that tries his best to actually be genuine and deserving of the moral authority his title implies.
  • Crapsack World: Where do we begin... The world is mired in conflict, people eke out a living amongst the ruins of ancient civilizations, monsters and elven guerrillas prowl the forests, Fantastic Racism rules the streets, nobles oppress commoners (that is, when they're not busy backstabbing each other), kings lead armies to war in the name of hollow-sounding ideals which do little to mask the monarchs' greed and hubris, the ominous shadow of The Empire hangs over all, and (if that wasn't enough) the world is prophesied to soon be engulfed by an ice age which will obliterate everything... and a Black Death-like epidemic starts when the saga ends.
  • Creature-Hunter Organization: The eponymous Witchers hunt all kinds of monsters, but specifically those who invaded the world after the Conjunction of the Spheres. They would fall under the phlebotinum-powered subtype, since they are genetically enhanced since childhood and have number of supernatural traits to complement their Training from Hell.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Practically everyone. It's easier to list the characters who were not terribly traumatized at some point in their past.
  • Dark Fantasy
  • Doom Magnet: Less than serious attempts to create The Chosen One may be unexpectedly successful, but have some drawbacks.
  • Door Stopper: The books grow progressively thicker. Lady of the Lake is longer than almost any other two parts combined. There is not a single edition of it below 500 pages.
  • Dream Sequence: Multiple times in the books, sometimes overlapping with Mushroom Samba, always laden with foreshadowing. Most often happens to Ciri, but Geralt, Yennefer and Triss get their share of the fun too.
  • The Dung Ages
  • Dying Race: Elves, though it's partly their own goddamn fault. The Witchers too, granted they are technically still human (to bad the general public didn't get the memo).
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The two anthologies have a lot of references to fairy tales as real-life events Geralt is dealing with. This element disappears entirely once Blood of Elves comes out.
    • The video games also establish that Witchers all have eyes that are in permanent, feline-like slits, which makes them easily recognizable. In the books they're capable of dilating their pupils at will, which also makes them capable of seeing in the dark. This also lead to the effects of the Cat potion being changed in the games as well. In the short story it was introduced in, Cat served to enhance Geralt's already superhuman senses so that he could better track the Striga he was confronting. In the games they just make him capable of seeing in the dark.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: Subverted. The Elves and Dwarves had been at war a long time ago, but are now allies against the humans who treat both as second-class-citizens at best.
  • The Empire: Nilfgaard, the southern empire that is slowly conquering its way north.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: The Encyclopaedia Maxima Mundi by Effenberg and Talbot, which is wrong on almost every detail, either as future Nilfgaardian propaganda or simply due to Future Imperfect.
  • Everybody Lives/Everybody Dies: Played with and zigzagged severely; on the Everybody Lives end, a lot of characters a Wrong Genre Savvy reader might have pegged as Redshirts walk away alive, and they're relatively safe as long as they only encounter the main cast episodically. But travelling with one of them if they weren't introduced back in the short stories? Put on your Mauve Shirt already. Geralt himself (appears) to die in the end.
    • It's also been said that Everybody Dies — but later. It's used in the books to establish a feeling that Geralt is no "just add boiling water" instant superhero, is a part of a living world, has really been doing his thing for a damn long time, and knows people everywhere. This is also Played for Laughs somewhat, such as when a Chekhov's Gun drops the anvil 2000 pages later on some poor sod.
    • A random messenger that stumbles upon Ciri and Yennefer? Dead by the end of the chapter. That female merchant who stopped to listen to Dandelion's song? Dead two books later. One of the witchers? Died near the end of the saga.
    • The later books' Darker and Edgier vibe carries that up to eleven. By Lady of the Lake, people are dying in a war that is hammered on as being pointless. It's almost a Downer Ending if it wasn't for the Earn Your Happy Ending undertones to it all.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: We get to see Geralt do this a lot from his perspective and he seems to be an extreme case even by Witcher standards (the other Witchers refer to him as "Pretty boy" due to is way with the ladies). However, most other major characters are just as promiscuous, and several plausible theories are offered as to why. On the one hand, it's seen as the natural consequence of living dangerous lives amongst The Beautiful Elite while being immune to all disease and universally infertile. On the other hand, some characters (such as Dandelion) theorize that people and creatures brimming with magic tend to be drawn to one-another, which he says explain why Witchers and Sorceresses are such a common pairing. That being said, Dandelion is neither of these things and he's another very extreme case of promiscuity.
  • Evil Wears Black: Nilfgaard forces wear black and are firmly on the Black side of the local Black-and-Grey Morality.
  • Exotic Eye Designs: Witchers have cat-like eyes with slit pupils, as a side effect of their mutation that allows them to see in the dark.
  • Expy: Geralt, an Anti-Hero sometimes known as the White Wolf, is more than a little similar to a certain other Anti-Hero sometimes known as the White Wolf... And Geraldo Rivera.
  • Famed in Story: What ultimately happens to Geralt's exploits long after the events of the novels occurred. However, thanks to a combination of Shrouded in Myth, Gossip Evolution, Unreliable Expositor, Legend Fades to Myth and Written by the Winners, the story does not reflect what actually happened. Three prominent examples include:
    • The legend states the final battle took place in a completely different location where it actually occurred. This was a deliberate discrepancy that began with the Lodge of Sorceresses to save face when they were Out-Gambitted by Geralt, who gave them the wrong location of Vilgefortz hideout.
    • People want stories to have a Happily Ever After, which is why the legend abruptly ends after its version of the Final Battle. Nobody wants a story where the hero dies an ignoble death at the hands of an anonymous nobody during a race riot while his love interest dies attempting to heal him.
    • The legend holds Geralt and Yennefer's romance up as a shining beacon of true love, which ignores how tumultuous their relationship actually was. In addition, Geralt can end up with Triss Merigold as his One True Love in the games instead of Yennefer.
  • Fangs Are Evil: One of the things elves use to justify their Fantastic Racism. Elves have no canine teeth, so clearly they must be better than humans, who are fanged like beasts! Right?
    • The supplementary materials (like Pamiętnik znaleziony w smoczej jaskini) explain why do the elves have no canines: there aren't a product of evolution.
  • Fan Sequel: The games. Rather than adapt the books themselves, The Witcher picks up five years after the events of the last book. And while they have Sapkowski's approval and some story input, he reserves the right to contradict them if he writes another book.
  • Fantastic Drug:
    • Witcher potions are brewed up from a variety of substances and are used to enhance a witcher's already impressive abilities.
    • Fisstech is basically the Witcher-verse's equivalent of cocaine.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Takes the trope and runs with it. Everybody just hates everybody, with humans being both most hating and most hated, though the other races are no slouches either.
    • The protagonist himself is a victim to this because Witchers are considered mutants and often meet prejudice. Hell, he's even killed in a pogrom.
  • Fantastic Terrorists: The Scoia'tael, a loose Anti-Human Alliance composed primarily of elves. Some simply wish to Kill All Humans, others ally with the human empire of Nilfgaard to fight against the disparate northern kingdoms in exchange for being granted their own autonomous land within Nilfgaard's conquest.
  • Fantasy Conflict Counterpart: Nilfgaard's conquest of Aedirn, for the Nazi invasion of Poland that led to World War II. Nilfgaard itself is a totalitarian state with visions of world domination and disdain for any nation it regards as less civilised, and tactics it employs against Aedirn include False Flag Operations, Blitzkrieg raids deep into the heart of their territory (with cavalry instead of tanks), and forming pacts with Aedirn's old allies, who betray it in exchange for a share of the conquered lands.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
    • Skellige Islanders are shameless Viking expies, although the prevalence of Celtic names and cultural influences (and Irish accents in the English dialogue for the third game) makes them more into Norse-Gaels than straightforwardly Scandinavian Vikings.
    • Nilfgaard superficially seems to be some cross of Ancient Rome (expanding city-state, speaks language of scholars as native language, calls army units "legions"), The Soviet Union (heavy use of secret police, uses economic and cultural power to bully neighbors) and the bad side of Germany (predilection for wearing black, sun-associated imagery, policies of ethnic and cultural purity, disdain for "degenerate" outsiders). But once you stop to think of it, it's Germany-through-Polish-eyes: they're the bad guys, sure, but they're so much better organized.
    • The Elves seem to be inspired by something, but the fandom is not sure whether it's the Celts conquered by Rome or Rome conquered by barbarians.
    • The various Northern Kingdoms are all representative of some European Medieval Kingdom. Redania is Poland, Kaedwin is Russia, Temeria is France, Cidaris and Verden are England, Aedirn is likely Bohemia or Switzerland, Lyria is similar to Spain, and the petty kingdoms in the far north like Kovir and Povis are representative of Italy. Collectively, the North roughly represents medieval Poland: able on its best day to unite and beat back its hostile Teuton-esque neighbor, but is riven by squabbling fiefdoms and ignorant prejudices which threaten to destroy it.
    • The dwarves are pretty much Jews. Renowned as craftsmen and bankers, live in main-culture communities without being a part of them, victims of casual prejudice and the occasional pogrom. Many of them have Italian sounding names, which meshes well with them being bankers.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Played straight for the most part, but it's referenced in passing that at least one mage has attempted to develop firearms, including an artillery piece that is described as Cool, but Inefficient.
  • Fauns and Satyrs: Succubi in this series are a blend of the popular demonic type creature, with horns and hooved feet that physically resemble satyrs and satyresses. Then there are the Sylvans, who resemble male Succubi.
  • Flower-Pot Drop: In the short story Eternal Fire, Dandelion was flower-bombed by his current mistress breaking with him, after she threw all his possessions out of the window.
  • Framing Device: As the books progress, it becomes more and more apparent that Geralt's exploits eventually passed into legend. The plot of the final book involves two woman researching the legend in the future to discover what actually happened.
  • Functional Magic + Magic A Is Magic A: It seems to operate on scientifically explorable principles, and there are several mentions of mundane magical utilities.
  • Gambit Pileup: The final book, where it is revealed that all that crap around Geralt and his group was just a fallout from several plans chewing at each other, with an additional prophecy actively trying to fulfill itself. The conflict throughout the novels stem from two main sources: Nilfgaard invading other countries, and when the plans of the various factions after Ciri come into contact with one another.
  • Glacial Apocalypse: The White Frost is a name for a glaciation period that is going to happen in the future of the Witcherworld. In the video games, it is expanded into an apocalyptic event that occurs throughout The Multiverse in which the story takes place. No one knows if it's an Eldritch Abomination, an ever-expanding Eldritch Location, some sort of Doomsday Device or just the inevitable Natural End of Time, but it slowly creeps along different planes of the multiverse, and any plane currently in its grip suffers a slow and gradual icy doom. Finding a way to stop it is a priority of almost every major character, whether heroic or villainous. In one case, Geralt and an ally travel through a world that has been ravaged by the White Frost and reading the Apocalyptic Logs there give a horrific impression of what it's like to slowly realize that the snow piling outside your doors is never going to stop and that it'll just keep getting colder and colder...
  • Gold-Colored Superiority: Golden dragons are considered a myth, but they actually exist and are the most powerful (and rarest) kind of dragon, preferring to disguise themselves as humans, as the Bounds of Reason short story demonstrates.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: The Elder Speech in particular takes words and phrases from both the Irish and Welsh languages, as do a few placenames, such as Ard Carraigh (High Rock) in Kaedwen. And there are a few words (like "Scoia'tael") taken from Italian, like scoiatollo. It falls heavily into As Long as It Sounds Foreign, though.note  The pronunciation in the games though is usually nothing like the correct pronunciation in the respective languages, either, unless the voice actor has some familiarity with them.note 
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: Sometimes leaning on black-and-gray. There are good characters (like Nenneke), but they're few and far between.
    • The best way to describe the mix of Black-and-Gray Morality and Evil vs. Evil. The Witcher is probably coming from The Lesser Of Two Evils, where it's said that there is no lesser evil. There's only Evil and Greater Evil. And there is Greatest Evil, hiding in the shadows. And one day Greatest Evil will grab you from behind and say "I am what I am. Choose - me or that one, lesser."
  • Grimmification: The saga itself, but most of short stories are simply grimmer versions of classical fairy tales. To name few: Beauty and the Beast, The Snow Queen, Little Mermaid, Snow White and many more.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Discussed repeatedly by Geralt. He never stops dwelling on his role in society as a Witcher and killer.
  • Hopeless War: Elves (and other old races) against humans in the past; and the conflict between the Northern Kingdoms and Nilfgaard looks increasingly like this for the former. It's not only the games — chapter headings often refer to future events in ways that imply the Nordlings end up a folksy backwater to Nilfgaard in the far future.
    • As for the games, they advance the universe's storyline — each successive war ends with Nordlings losing more territory to Nilfgaard or its puppet states, barely holding the rest by winning a desperate victory in the field, then succumbing further to internal strife (much of which is incited or sponsored by Nilfgaard and its agents), as soon as a temporary peace agreement is brokered, while the enemy prepares for the next round. Northern kings even draw comparisons between the fates of elves and their own on their council in the books (and the plan to reverse the trend they create in response fails badly).
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Oh yes. All the time. Not that other races are particularly better. Compared to what Cirilla did witness during her trip between worlds, humans can be seen as nice guys. Humans, due to their dominance, just have the biggest potential for bastardy in the stories' present time and place.
  • Hunter of Monsters: A Witcher's job is to hunt down and destroy monsters.
  • Ideal Illness Immunity: The mutations that Witchers go through make them immune to any and all diseases. Of course, this also includes STDs, and Geralt in particular is only too happy to take advantage.
  • Illegal Religion: Coram Agh Ter, the Cult of the Lionhead Spider, is a forbidden religion in many of the civilized nations due to its practice of Human Sacrifice, and while the persecution is not as intense as it has been in the past, very few places will allow Coram Agh Tera cultists to preach openly. The government of Temeria is particularly keen to suppress the cult within their borders, and membership of the Lionhead Spider cult is a crime akin to murder.
  • Inhumanly Beautiful Race: Elves are noted to on average be much more attractive than humans are, and the World's Most Beautiful Woman (apparently by quite a large margin) is an elf.
    • Also, the dryads are a One-Gender Race of hot Action Girls. They can also transform human girls into one of them, which comes with a free +100 bonus to the Hotness stat. (And complete lack of interest with men except for procreation of more dryads.)
  • In Spite of a Nail: Despite the series taking place on a separate world from our own (and with our own explicitly confirmed to exist as part of the multiverse), a large number of animals and plants that exist in real life also exist in the alternate world. It also appears that multiple, separate worlds managed to evolve humans or humanoid beings capable of breeding with humans.
  • I Owe You My Life: According to the Law of Surprise, if someone saves another person's life, they may ask for what the rescuee has, but yet is not aware of. If it turns out to be a child, a bond of destiny is formed between the child and the rescuer. This is the witchers' favorite recruitment method.
  • Last of His Kind: At the beginning of the series the witchers are a dying breed of whom only a few survive, due largely to a pogrom led against them in the Backstory where their citadel Kaer Morhen was sacked, most of them killed, and much of the knowledge on how to create more witchers lost.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Sapkowski likes this trope. One character shares her name with a city in France. Another one with a mountain in Iran. Yet another one is named after a town in Ireland. Vilgefortz of Roggeveen is a more complicated case — Roggeveen was the surname of the captain who discovered Easter Island. The most egregious example is probably the mare named Chiquita, which is a brand of banana. There's a whole long list of such "creative" names.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: And most of them are dead at the end.
  • Loads and Loads of Races: The setting has a few dozens of sapient races. Even when the count is restricted to humanoids, there are still over twenty of these.
  • Locked into Strangeness: Geralt's milk-white hair. Possibly due to his unique heritage, Geralt received minimal side effects from the Trial of the Grasses. His teachers decided to subject him to additional experiments, which he survived, with the most noticeable results being his white hair, totally devoid of pigmentation.
  • Love Triangle: A long-running and complicated one between Geralt, Triss, and Yennefer, Played for Drama. Geralt and Yennefer have been in love since The Last Wish, but in practice have an on-again, off-again relationship (in part due to Geralt tying their destinies together with the eponymous last wish from a djinn, so they're not entirely sure how much of their relationship is genuine). Triss seduced Geralt when he and Yennefer were "off", and Triss has carried a massive torch for him ever since. Thing is, she's also Yennefer's best friend and she frequently hates herself for loving Geralt. In the books, Geralt chooses Yennefer. By contrast, the final game allows players to choose between the two, and even gives you the opportunity to undo the effects of the wish, either to cut off loose ends or to make sure that your relationship with Yennefer is genuine.
  • Low Fantasy: Good and bad? Black and white? Screw that, there is no such thing in The Witcher.
  • Magic Eater: Two species passively absorb loose magical energy in the world. The first are dragons, which makes sense. The second are cats. No one's entirely sure what they do with it, if anything. This being Witcherverse, it still has practical application - cats like to lie down around Place of Power, thus being handy as familiars.
  • Magic Knight: Witchers use simple spells ("signs") in combat, and magicians often have some level of combat ability.
  • Magic Potion: As part of their training, Witchers learn how to brew potions that can temporarily enhance their abilities further. Many of these potions would kill a normal human, and even Witchers can only consume so many at a time (represented by a toxin meter in the video games).
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Any relationship Geralt has with a human woman is this, considering they typically range from their late teens to late 20s, whereas he begins the series at almost 80, and ends at almost 100. Note that sorceresses have much longer lifespans than non-sorceresses.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: A planned aversion of this trope. The architecture, fashions, and technology in general suggests a Late Medieval-like setting, but characters talk about concepts like racism, drug addiction and genetics. Sapkowski on numerous occasions commented that he tried to include things like existence of monsters and magic into the mindset of the characters, along with using hefty dose of satire and post-modernism. In his vision, wizards (who actually know how the world operates on a very low level) are more scientists than sages or flamboyant combat specialists. In fact, responding to numerous accusations that his stories are not "period-accurate", Sapkowski has pointed out that fantasy takes place in an entirely fictional world, with a history, geography, culture etc. unlike our own. Nothing, not even individual words of a language can "realistically" be the same, as fantasy is not necessarily a recreation of anything "real" by the very definition. Sapkowski has used the Polish word for "king" as an example, the word being originally derived from Charlemagne's name, and thus impossible to exist in a fantasy world where Charlemagne never lived. Yet no-one seems to complain that fantasy works use the word "king". While fantasy is often inspired by Middle Ages, Sapkowski reasons that there's no "requirement" for it to follow any real-world logic. It can be as close or as distant from the real world as desired, and there's nothing "unrealistic" about, say, a peasant girl wearing underwear in the modern sense.
  • Medieval Stasis: Subverted.
    • Zoltan has a discussion with Geralt regarding swordmaking. As it turns out, Dwarven metallurgy and swordmaking techniques have changed considerably even over the last 50 years, and old Dwarf-made swords that humans consider state-of-the-art are in fact obsolete at this point. And their discussion suggests this is an on-going process, so it's neither anything unique in recent developments nor does Zoltan consider it in any way a finished process.
    • A much larger example is the Empire of Nilfgaard, which has pioneered industrialization and mass-production via its manufactories. When they eventually stop their military campaign against the Northern Kingdoms, it is not because they think they can't win, but because it would be more profitable to conquer the North by trade, flooding the kingdoms with cheap Nilgaardian goods that Northern artisans cannot compete with.
    • Various bits and pieces from the background setting suggest it's going through a whole lot of changes, both over past few centuries and just few decades, with introduction of such things like bureaucracynote , universities, new styles in architecture or minor things like the ever-changing fashion. There is even a mental note made by one of Nilfgaardian officers regarding siege engines that are now reliable and cheap enough to not require dragging along a Military Mage to level-down a besieged castle.
  • Melting-Pot Nomenclature: Characters have all actual Polish or German names, which would have been very common in large parts of central Europe during the Middle Ages and still nothing unusual. While the German names mostly exist in English as well, the Slavic names might seem a lot more exotic to western audiences. Several place names, particularly in Kaedwen have a mishmash of Irish and Welsh names and the Elder Speech borrows from both languages. Even Geralt's name seems to be derived from the Irish name Gearailt, which translates into English as Gerald.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • The Igni sign gets this a lot in the games. In addition to being a combat spell, it's often also used to perform such tasks as light candles or solder broken pots.
    • Nilfgaard is implied to be using Military Mages in the past as a quick way to take down any fortifications and to support their troops. The only reason why they've stopped doing that is because their siege equipment was intentionally developed to take down fortifications quick and cheap.
  • Myth Arc: While it wasn't as touched in the second game, the whole deal with the White Frost and the Wild Hunt is one for the games.
  • Mythology Gag: Sapkowski created a simple RPG called Oko Yrrhedesa (The Eye of Yrrhedes). In one of two scenarios the PCs were trying to traverse Death World of a river called Yarra. Jaruga, a river that's on the beginning of the border between Nilfgaard and North kingdoms is called Yarra in Elven.
  • Name's the Same: In-universe, there is city of Cintra, the capital of Kingdom of Cintra. In few instances across the books it makes few dialogues and even a noble title unclear, as it's not made explicit which of those two Cintras are meant at the moment.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Nilfgaardian Empire. A totalitarian state with world dominance ambitions (with Lebensraum gist), a disdain for other nations as uncivilized subhumans, troops with black uniforms and lightning emblem (aka Sig rune) and so on. Also, the conquest of Aedirn follows to the smallest details the history of the Poland Campaign, including: false-flag operation as a cause, Blitzkrieg-like deep raids of cavalry (in the place of tanks) and backstabbing from a former ally, who make a pact with an aggressor to acquire territories they claim are rightfully theirs. Though ironically, Sapkowski's Czech fans reportedly tend to interpret the Aedirn situation as a Fantasy Conflict Counterpart to Poland annexing Silesia from Czechoslovakia a year earlier (a secret portion of the Hitler-appeasement deal from Munich that publicly netted Hitler's government the Sudetenland).
    • Additionally, Nilfgaard's expansionist ambitions, leadership, totalitarianism, military might and wish to absorb all countries into their empire can also make them the fantasy counterpart to Soviet Russia during the Polish-Soviet War, which aimed to spread world revolution to all of Western Europe.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Kaer Morhen is noted to be derived from Cahir Muireann, with in universe translations referring to it as The Old Sea Fort, despite it being located in the mountains.
  • Older Than They Look:
    • As a side effect of their mutations, Witchers age slower than normal humans. Geralt is more than eighty years old — Kaer Morhen was assaulted some sixty or seventy years before, and there weren't any new Witchers since. Those who remained alive (including him) were out of the castle at the time of attack, which means that he already was a full-fledged Witcher at the time.
    • Elves live for hundreds of years (to them a dozen human generations is regarded as a short time). Re-negotiating a deal with the elderly grandchildren of the human they initially struck a deal with is considered a valid tactic.
    • Mages are The Ageless, not because of their magic but because of a certain potion that allows them to permanently stop the aging process. Female mages tend to take the potion while still in their twenties to retain their beauty while male mages tend to wait longer till they've aged enough to be seen as wise and respectable.
    • Going into individual examples, the oldest known elf character is 650 years old (and aged enough that he requires the aid of aphrodisiacs to have sex), the oldest human mage is 500 (and aged enough that he died of a heart attack), and Vesemir is the oldest known witcher, believed to be older than the castle where witchers like Geralt were trained; he is also visibly aged but is still strong and healthy. Nobody knows a witcher's potential lifespan because none of them have lived long enough to die of natural causes.
  • One-Man Army: All witchers, many mages and also some human warriors like Leo Bonhart and, later in the series, Ciri.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: The series as a whole plays with traditional myths and conventions regarding monsters.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: At least one of them, a golden dragon who actually likes humans, is a shapeshifter. Shapeshifting dragons are common in Asian mythology, but the difference is that these are Western-type dragons, not Asian ones.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: They're also bankers. Dwarven bankers may be unwaveringly polite in public, but in private they're the same as any other dwarf.
  • Our Elves Are Different: They are long-lived, pretty, and skillful, and have developed a sophisticated culture, but they're not that much better in terms of morality. Basically, they suffered the fate of Rome, with humans playing the role of barbarians adapting their culture, or perhaps Celts ran over by the Romans (with Boudicca and all). Then there's the Aen Elle, a separate civilization of racist elves from a different world, who believe in the notion of Superior Species wholeheartedly.
  • Our Gnomes Are Weirder: They're good craftsmen, possibly better than Dwarves at certain precise and complicated tasks, or those requiring theoretical expertise. Dwarves make excellent swords, but the best swords in the world are gnomish. Gnomes also have a much better sense of smell than any other race.
  • Our Nymphs Are Different: Nymphs are Always Female, pointy-eared and beautiful humanoids who watch over nature. They procreate by mating with humans or elves or by "transforming" humans into more of their kind — drinking the Waters of Brokilon will turn a human into a dryad, for instance. They're equated with The Fair Folk to a degree — they share some of their names with European fairies, and are known to kidnap human children to raise as their own and replace them with changelings. They appeared in the Continent long before the arrival of the first humans and elves and warred bitterly against the dwarves; the latter saw the nymphs as dangerous barbarians, while the nymphs saw the industrialized dwarves as despoilers and polluters. Numerous distinct types exist:
    • Dryads are the nymphs of forests, and may have green hair alongside brown and russet shades. Hamadryads have especially strong connections to nature and form strong bonds with individual trees.
    • Leimoniads are the nymphs of fields. They're now mostly extinct due to conflicts with humanity, who turned their prairies into arable land. They got along better with the elves, who did not practice agriculture.
    • Naiads, also called rusalkas, are the nymphs of lakes and rivers. Their hair is black or green, and their skin ranges from alabaster to greenish. Some possess webbed hands, and all naiads must remain close to water at all times — if they go too long on dry land they'll dehydrate and die.
    • Nereids are the nymphs of the sea. They're mostly found in the depths of the Great Ocean, where they live alongside merfolk and sea witches in a civilization of their own. They're close kin to naiads, and tend to have green and blue skin and hair.
    • Oreads are the nymphs of mountains, and like the leimoniads are now mostly extinct.
  • Our Trolls Are Different: They repair bridges, love drinking, and ask for tolls from travelers who cross their bridges. They are also one of the very few monsters that humans are willing to have around, since paying the toll is cheaper than maintenance of the bridge. They also tend to use Hulk Speak.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: For one, they don't need the blood to survive. There is also a clear difference between the 'low' and 'high' vampires. The lowly ones are no different from monsters and basically look like giant humanoid bats, while the high ones are the more familiar vampires, who can happen to be quite nice and friendly folks like Regis. Also, most of the 'high' vampires easily tolerate sunlight, and holy water, crucifixes, and garlic pose no threat to them. They also do not need blood to survive, although drinking it increases their strength and gets them drunk. It appears that there is some sort of middle ground, as creatures like Bruxa are intelligent, but concentrate on sucking blood.
    • The World of the Witcher (released alongside Wild Hunt) distinguishes between the monstrous "lower" vampires, the more intelligent of "higher" vampires, and a separate species of more powerful "true" higher vampires (such as Dettlaff and Regis).
  • Psycho for Hire: Several. There is no shortage of sadistic/ crazy/ruthless killers in this crapsack world of this setting.
    • Bonhart is a brutal individual who will kill anyone you pay him to kill. However, his lifeway includes killing wanted criminals, collecting bounties, buying new equipment from weapon smiths etc, making him look suspiciously similar to the token hero of an RPG / Heroic Fantasy book. Knowing the author, this could be an intentional to show how these guys outside of their own P.O.V. actually look like.
    • Geralt is mistaken as one of these by those who don't know the whole story. Why do you think he is known as "the Butcher of Blaviken" when all he did was prevent a massacre in the Blaviken marketplace? Because the civilians saw him causing a massacre of the bandits that were going to massacre them.
  • Really Gets Around: Geralt, other Witchers, and Dandelion enjoy a lot of pleasuable company with ladies. Also most of the mages - the classic course for them appears to be: a period of promiscuity after leaving the academy, a period of interest in own sex, and finally settling to intercourse with other mages. Triss, who is said to be a 'young' sorceress has already completed it, and another, much older, sorceress, Filippa, is apparently going through it again, being 'currently' a lesbian. Most of the shown sorceresses seem to be erotically bored to death after decades of sexual activity with the world apparently not having that much new to offer, which is one of the reasons they are so hot for Geralt.
  • Repressive, but Efficient: Part of appeal of the Nilfgaard Empire, especially in the video games, which significantly toned down just how brutal Nilfgaard is. While the empire is being a repressive, totalitarian state busy conquering rest of the world, they really make sure things operate smoothly and efficiently and their government is more than functional, regardless of who is currently the emperor. And as far as their civilian population is concerned, life is great as long as you don't break the law, while skills and competence are far more important than your social background. This is further contrasted with various Northern kingdoms and duchies, which are just feudal hellholes without any benefits to this whatsover and usually busy fighting each other, both internationally and internally - and the more repressive, the less efficient they are.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Scoia'tael, a non-human revolution.
  • Royally Screwed Up: All royal families in the series.
  • Scars Are Forever: Happens despite regeneration and transformation magic. It's that not everyone can afford magic, and not everyone who can afford magic considers it worthwhile. In one case the scarring was so unresponsive to therapy that it was substituted with an extraordinarily strong illusion.
  • Schizo Tech: A relatively subtle example. While the general technology of the setting is late medieval to early Renaissance, the degree of understanding regarding medicine and biology is nearly modern. Mention is made of rather advanced medical concepts like antiseptics, washing of hands to fight disease, lactic acid buildup in muscles, and viral and bacterial cultures. Admittedly, those who understand these sciences best are clergy, wizards, or witchers; the average villager doesn't know much about medicine beyond the common remedies.
  • Screw You, Elves!: Present in short stories, but the saga takes it Up to Eleven.
  • Shout-Out: In addition to the first two books being a deconstruction of fairy tales, there are numerous references to history, geography and popular culture.
  • Spared By Adaptation: Subverted by Geralt and Yennefer. While it initially seemed so, Sapkowski revealed that they also survived in canon.
    • Played straight however by Regis.
  • The Spartan Way: The process of becoming a witcher is so unrelenting, that few survive it. Seven out of ten typically die while undergoing the mutations in the Trial of Grasses. Even after that, there's more rigorous training to be done and more brutal trials to complete, many of which that have similarly fatal results.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": There are a few spelling differences between the translated games and novels, and even between different novels; for instance, The Last Wish features Yennefer of Vergerberg (instead of Vengerberg), and the Sign of Axia (Axii).
  • Standard Fantasy Races: Humans are the most common race in the world, having the largest number of nations and often dominating the others through sheer numbers, despite having been one of the most recent groups to develop civilization and having only entered the world relatively recently to begin with. Dwarves are known for their strength, battle prowess and mechanical skill, and are one of the oldest civilizations in the setting. Elves are the most magically inclined and technologically advanced race, but their empires fell long ago and they've been in decline ever since. Dragons are intelligent but reclusive beings, and often hunted by the humanoid races.
  • Super Serum: The various potions used to create Witchers and amplify their abilities on a temporary basis. In "The Witcher" ingredients listed include veratrum, stramonium (jimsonweed), hawthorn, and spurge, along with other ingredients with no name in human language and it's clear they would kill Geralt if he wasn't inured to them from childhood
  • Thunderbolt Iron: Every Witcher carries a blade of steel made from meteorite iron. However, like everything in the verse, it has very munadane reason and taking advantage of the high nickel content. In fact, meteorite iron is something rendered obsolete due to in-universe Technology Marches On - originally the meteorite iron was used for it's nickel content, without understanding why it makes high-quality steel. In the meantime, metallurgy advanced enough to not only produce similar, but even better steel and in controllable way. When Geralt loses his original sword, he's capable of easily replacing it with something similar, and then even better, without having to resort to meteorite iron as source of the metal.
  • Tin Man: It's commonly propagated, rumored and believed that witchers are incapable of feeling emotion, even by witchers themselves. However, both the books and games show that this isn't true at all. All the various witcher characters have distinct personalities and run the full gamut of emotions. Geralt, who appears to adhere to the stereotype the most simply on account of being The Stoic, is himself fully aware that it doesn't apply to him, and frequently expresses bitterness about it.
  • Title Drop: Sapkowski likes this. It's particularly prominent in The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny, where the title of each short story forms the Arc Words for that story.
  • *Twang* Hello: The Dryads used to be fond of this. Nowadays, they will simply shoot you.
  • Vain Sorceress: Sorceresses in general. They use their magic to preserve their youth and beauty. And sometimes to make themselves look beautiful. It's a matter of both professional prestige and the result of many of them being born as commoners or even cripples.
    • In many cases, the girls who train to become sorceresses are the ones who have no hope of attracting suitors. Even after magic fixes their appearance, many of them still bear the emotional scars of their past as ugly people and resent the humiliation of having to wear a mask of fake beauty for the sake of their profession. The author describes them as "pseudo-pretty women with the cold, bitter eyes of ugly girls".
    • The book also points out the Double Standard of male practitioners of magic preferring to make themselves look like old, wizened wizards.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: Generally defied. Witchers do not usually kill sapient monsters without evidence that the monster in question is guilty of wrongdoing. Witchers are quite often treated as monsters by the general public despite being humans augmented with alchemy and magic, and many experienced Witchers can attest that people are often little better than monsters themselves, so sapient monsters with complex personalities and sympathetic motivations appear frequently.
  • Virgin Power: Inverted; a virgin cannot summon magical power with any form of control.
    • Or averted, since when it is mentioned, it's played as a sort of not-necessarily-true Urban Legend.
  • The War Just Before: The saga of novels follows a war between the Northern Realms and Empire of Nilfgaard. CD Projeckt Red's trilogy of Video Game adaptations take place after this war and lead into another. Protagonist Geralt was the personal friend turned enemy of the Emperor, Emhyr var Emreis, and is also the adoptive father figure of Emhyr's daughter Ciri. In The Witcher 3 Emhyr hires Geralt to find the missing Ciri while he is in the midst of invading the North.
  • We All Live in America: Despite Sapkowski's rather vocal stance against this trope, still a metric trainload of things that exist in either Polish culture or language - and nowhere else - ended up being in the books as something fitting for generic Medieval European Fantasy, but at best making non-Poles puzzled, at worst being Lost in Translation. It only escalated further once CD Projekt started making video games, with ever increasing amount of things tucked in, to the point it's a running joke the entire setting is just few different Polands reflecting in a broken mirror.
  • The Wild Hunt: It's a kind of annual astronomical/celestial phenomenon happening on Midsummer. Some consider it a natural occurrence, but the others point out that people tend to disappear when it's around. It turns out to be something far more sinister.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Witchers won't hunt sentient monsters unless they're actually evil. Several creatures, such as werewolves, trolls, and dragons are depicted as having complex personalities and motivations. Witchers themselves are considered subhuman by the general populace in spite of being genetically modified humans.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Sapkowski is a big fan of Arthurian myth, which he credits as the original inspiration to The Lord of the Rings and generally all fantasy literature. Thus, there is a ton of homages to it in the series, both obvious (especially in the last book) and more obscure. Geralt can be considered an expy of Lancelot, Yennefer - of Guinevere (it's actually two different forms of the same name) and Ciri - both Galahad and The Grail.
  • World of Buxom: Especially the games where just about every woman, from the Sorceresses of the Lodge to Skellige Shieldmaidens to peasant women are all well-endowed and shapely. Further, the more "important" a woman is to the plot, the more willing she is to have little fabric covering her chest. Even Ciri counts on this.
  • World of Snark: Due to the World Half Empty and World of Jerkass nature of the work, the savviest characters are aware of their setting's immense dangers as well as the fact that everyone is pretty much out for themselves. The only levity they can allow themselves is to make fun of the seriousness.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: The Elven sorceress Francesca Findabair.


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