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Series / The Hexer

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The Hexer (Polish: Wiedźmin) is the international title of both a movie and a television series loosely based on selected short stories taken from The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski. Both the movie and the television series were directed by Marek Brodzki (actually an experienced and competent filmmaker who worked earlier as an assistant director on Spielberg's Schindler's List) and written by Michał Szczerbic.

Starring Michał Żebrowski as Geralt of Rivia and Grażyna Wolszczak as Yennefer, the movie was the most anticipated film for many fantasy fans in Poland, despite spawning heated controversies during production (including, among other things, the casting of actors). So what has gone wrong?

Well, the biggest problem being the movie wasn’t actually a movie. It was essentially a Compilation Movie of then-unreleased TV series. Thirteen nearly hour-long episodes had been compressed into a two-hour feature film, which in result made it into a nonsensical mess. Released in 2001, The Hexer received very poor reviews from both fans and critics.

Director Marek Brodzki released the TV series one year later, in 2002, showing a finished product that was vastly more coherent than the confusing film version. Nevertheless, the series was still considered a failure mostly due to the film's already bad reputation and due to vast changes to the original books.


On the other hand, there were some voices who claimed that given the Troubled Production (including the author's attitude) and relatively slight budget the final result was not so bad. Others praised the music and impressive fight scenes, choreographed by Jacek Wysocki - Polish master of aikido.

Much like in the books, the series' plot follows the story of Geralt, a traveling monster hunter for hire. Additionally, the series contains exclusive Origins Episodes (which were invented by the show's creators and not written by Sapkowski) depicting Geralt's childhood and training years in Kaer Morhen.

Due to the special nature of this show, this trope page focuses mainly on various alterations and original additions that were made to the source material.


The Hexer contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Renfri has been portrayed with 'straw-colored' hair both in the books and graphic novel, while her eyes were described the "color of the sea". In the movie and TV-series her hair and eyes are very dark.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: According to Chappelle, the head of Novigrad's secret service, no monster can even approach the Eternal Flame; thus everyone who claims they saw a monster on the city's premises is a blasphemer and heretic and needs to taken care of by the inquisition. In the books Chappelle was himself a doppelgänger and was doing so to protect his brethren. In the series, this was cut off (although Geralt threatening Chappelle to be Killed and Replaced in order to make his own and Dudu's way out of the city was clearly a nod to the original ending) which makes Chappelle an oblivious fanatic.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: In the TV series, Falwick's role was greatly expanded. He was introduced in the first episode called "Dzieciństwo" ("Childhood") as Gwidon the witcher who, unconvinced of little Geralt's mutation, demanded a Trial of Mountains, where a child is to be left in the wilderness to fend for himself for 30 days to truly test that he is no longer human. Gwidon later formed a party out to fetch food and supplies for the fort. On the road to Tes, they attacked a travelling caravan with all the adults being killed and the caravan with children and supplies taken away to Kaer Morhen. Unbeknownst to Gwidon, Geralt witnessed the assault. When the test time was up, Old Witcher came back for Geralt. He took him and a little girl survivor back to Kaer Morhen, where they went to Vesemir with the evidence of the attack. In result, Gwidon was hailed as a renegade, forced to relinquish his witcher artifacts, and banished from the fort. Before leaving, he vowed revenge on Geralt for bringing the evidence, and Geralt in return vowed to kill him.
    • On a related note, the series also ties Order of the White Rose with Nilfgaard, by making Falwick a spy working for Nilfgaard whose assignment after Queen Calanthe's death was to locate Ciri and bring her to Emhyr var Emreis, the Emperor of Nilfgaard. The Order also hired Renfri to kill the priestesses and burn the temple of Melitele in Ellander.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Due to his unorthodox views on combat Geralt was hated both by other students and his instructors (except the Old Witcher). Geralt's uniqueness was a direct result of Vesemir purposely interrupting the process of mutations for the purpose of creating a new type of witcher that, not being deprived of higher feelings and deeper thought associations, would be able to adapt easily to new situations and to coexist with humans. Vesemir died without revealing this information to Geralt and Jarrow kept it secret - it was not until the final episode Geralt learned from old Jarrow about his origins. Geralt turned out to be the only surviving witcher from his generation, which proved that Vesemir was right.
  • Adapted Out: The series skips entirely the plot of "A Little Sacrifice", '"A Grain of Truth'" and "The Last Wish" along with some characters and subplots from the other stories. While omitting the first two stories did not harm the series' continuity, skipping "The Last Wish" is more problematic because it describes the circumstances of Geralt and Yennefer's first meeting and explains how their fates were bounded together by Geralt's final wish he gave to genie. One could argue it was justified, because a genie rampaging through a city would be probably too much for the series' budget. Instead, episode four, called "Smok" ("The Dragon", based on "The Bounds of Reason") features a brief flashback of Geralt's first meeting with Yennefer when she was nursing him after some unspecified encounter.
  • Already Met Everyone: Aside from Falwick (see above), Geralt first met Renfri during his first steps as a witcher, when he saved her from three armored men ordered to kill her by her stepmother, Aridea. As Tropes Are Not Bad, this makes Geralt's decision in "The Lesser Evil" even more dramatic.
  • Badass Adorable: Young Geralt, bordering on Badass Abnormal thanks to his mutations.
  • Badass Boast: Geralt makes few, always keeping his word in the end. Most notably, as a child he promised, in a form of a Meaningful Echo, to find and kill Gwidon. He almost gleefully kept his word many, many decades later.
  • Blessed with Suck: Geralt, by his own mother. She put a spell on him, so he would never be a witcher. Depending on interpretation, it's either subverted later on, when Geralt's mutation is altered, making him more human and thus being main reason of all his troubles with being a "proper" witcher. Or could be a case of You Can't Fight Fate if the decision for alternation was an effect of his mother's spell.
  • Break the Cutie: The Old Witcher escorting young Geralt bluntly explains him what will be his Fate - that he will be turned into witcher and fighting monsters until one of them will finally kill him. This is enough to stop young Geralt from another escape attempt.
  • Brutal Honesty: Old Witcher does not beat around the bush when he tells kid Geralt about his fate.
    Old Witcher: I will take you to Kaer Morhen, where they will make a witcher of you. You will fight monsters, to defend people, until you die. And that's (your) Fate.
  • Canon Foreigner: The series provides a set of unique characters that never got mentioned in the books, including, among others, Old Witcher, female witcher Adela, renegade witcher Dermot Marranga, Thornwald, witcher trainees Gascaden and Clovis, Klef, Osbert and Sorel – teachers from Kaer Morhen and priest Jarrow.
  • Character Title: "Calanthe", "Jaskier"note , "Falwick" and "Ciri" (episodes No. 6, 11, 12 and 13, respectively).
  • Code of Honour: In the books, there was no actual witcher code, although Geralt made up a code of his own. In the series, witchers have a code that allows them only to fight in an "honorable" way (even against monsters).
    • However, there are numerous hints throughout the series the code is a mere excuse used by elders to control the guild, trainees, shape interactions with humans and abuse their own power, with no actual set rules. Thus mirroring Geralt's personal "code" from the books in basic function, but with sinister intent behind it.
  • Cold Open: The first episode opens with an unknown white-haired man fighting something in a bog or a landfill. He apparently slays the monster, but is badly wounded himself. Then the action cuts back, setting up stage for young Geralt and slowly starting his tale, back when he was still a human boy. The series eventually reach the same landfill in episode 5.
  • Compilation Movie: Upon production and marketing for both movie and the TV series, nobody said a word the film is going to be this trope. This not only created unrealistic expectations (the production took place roughtly in the same time when The Fellowship of the Ring was filmed), but was a decision made against the will of pretty much anyone involved in the filming by TV execsnote . The final product was condemned by pretty much everyone, but it also strained fan perception of the TV series. For contrast professional critics considered the series to be one of the better Polish TV productions of all times and it had a really good viewer share upon initial run among common audiences, even being aired and holding in what was then considered prime hours.
  • Compressed Adaptation: Episode 7, "Dolina Kwiatów" ("The Valley of Flowers") takes elements from "Eternal Flame" and "The Edge of the World".
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Witcher trainees are punished by standing still on tiny stone pillars, barely big enough to plant both feet on the top. For few days and nights, Exposed to the Elements. By the end of their punishment, they usually just fall flat on the ground, too exhausted to even bother covering their face. Geralt calmly endures his punishment, but in an act of utter defiance, steps down from the pillar and taking tiny steps, slowly walks away, just to show everyone he can't be broken that easily. All while clearly shaking from pain and muscle strain.
  • Cool Old Guy: Old Witcher, the one who took Geralt to Kaer Morhen and watched over him.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Witchers are made for killing and nothing else. That makes them unable to adjust to changing circumstances or just think in broader perspectives. Geralt is special, because part of his human nature was left intact despite going through mutations.
  • Death by Adaptation: Nenneke and Iola were killed together with all the other priestesses of the Temple of Melitele. Eist Tuirseach died soon after his marriage to Calanthe, before the Nilfgaard invasion. Falwick got killed by Geralt during Trial by Combat. Vesemir also died, although he had little in common with his book counterpart.
  • Death by Irony: Thornwald was the witcher who saved Geralt's father from a pack of werewolves and laid claim on Geralt in accordance with the Law of Surprise. Years later, Geralt faced him in a trial of swords (see Suddenly Significant Rule below) and killed him in the process. Thornwald probably didn't even know who he was facing.
  • Divided We Fall: This is the ultimate reason why witcher's guild was simply disbanded - all the constant infighting between witchers, council and druids eventually imploded, first making them disfunctional and then simply unable to keep up even a rudimentry school and all the infrastructure needed for making new witchers.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Zbigniew Zamachowski, who played Dandelion, as part of his Ability over Appearance did all the singing required for his role and even recorded ballads used in closing credits for each episode.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Adela was a little girl that has been wounded and left in the wild to die following the Gwidon's attack on a caravan. Geralt found her and nursed back to health during his Trial of Mountains. She was raised as a witcher in another witcher-school, and came to visit Kaer Morhen just before Geralt's graduation. Geralt was able to remember her because he has already undergone mutations when he met her. However, she lost memories of him in the process of becoming a witcher.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Geralt in his youth.
  • Go Through Me: Visenna, mother of Geralt, was trying to pull this. The Old Witcher gently, if sternly overpowered her, not wanting to spill any blood.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Geralt was first from the new batch of witchers, designed to be just a little more human. It worked too well, making him ostracized by fellow witchers and still not human enough to fit into regular society.
  • The Grim Reaper: A Grim Reaper–like figure appears in visions and is thought to be a personification of death that follows Geralt wherever he goes. Curiously, it's strongly implied to be female, despite being always cloaked and having a skull for face (the Polish word for death, "śmierć" is grammatically feminine).
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: A villainous example. During her duel with Geralt, Renfri starts with a mail coif on her head, but she takes it off half-way through, throwing it at Geralt as a distraction.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Not only swords are trademark weapon of witchers, but it's outright stated in the first episode they consider it an ultimate weapon. Subverted when they are ambushed by archers.
  • Hired Sword: Dermot Marranga was a renegade witcher who served as Herbolth's bodyguard in the city of Aedd Gynvael, where Geralt met him. Killing humans and elves for money only gained Dermot certain death at the hand of Geralt.
  • Hidden Depths: The Old Witcher. While he is just doing his job, he clearly resents being some sort of kidnapper and visibly roots for young Geralt.
  • How We Got Here: A bit stretch one starts in the first episode. The action doesn't return to Geralt fighting that zeugl until the fifth episode, when viewers already had time to learn who he is, what he does and simply care about his fate the second time when he's in that dark landfill.
  • Humans Are Diplomats: Vesimir, being in the series an old human druid, prefers to use diplomacy instead of swords to resolve conflict with the elves living around Kaer Morhen. His insistance of talking first, killing maybe is one of the factors leading to reveal of Gwidon's conspiracy and getting him expelled.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: As in the original books.
  • In Medias Res: As mentioned above, the series opens with adult Geralt slaying monster, goes back all the way down to his childhood and then follow his life for next four episodes until he gets to that fight.
  • In Name Only: Vesemir is the eldest resident of Kaer Morhen and he acts as some sort of paternal figure to Geralt… and that's basically all traits he shares with Vesemir from the books. Instead of being a witcher, he's a member of a Druid-like priest caste that was responsible for creating the mutagens and performing the trials on children to turn them into witchers. In the books, Vesemir was only a fencing instructor and thus did not possess the knowledge necessary to create new mutagens in order to mutate more boys into witchers. Some of the characteristics of Vesemir the witcher were given to the Old Witcher in the series.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Adela. She has no problems with being seen naked by Geralt after emerging from a lake, because witchers are said to be asexual (or at least so she thinks). Geralt's… natural male body reaction leads her to question if he is a real witcher.
  • Interservice Rivalry: From the very first council scene it's obvious that witcher trainers are in conflict with priests responsible for creating new witchers.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: One of the most controversial decisions of the moviemakers was to choose a katana as the witcher's weapon, most likely due to using aiki-ken as a basis for fencing choreography. It should be noted though, that only ONE of two witcher's swords resembles a katana, but complainers tend to ignore entirely the existence of the other, regular broadsword, which also happens to be the silver one.
  • Luck-Based Search Technique: Invoked by Geralt and Dandelion who were trying to find a way out of the same dungeon Ciri was previously held in. Geralt concluded she must've activated some type of secret passage, so he told Dandelion to touch and push everything on the height of a little girl.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: When group of witchers get ambushed by hungry elves, one of them takes half a dozen of arrows in his chest and is still fighting back. The other is practically dying, but still beheads his attackers, get back to Kaer Morhen and gives a report without as much as a squirm. Right after that he succumbs to his wounds.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: During his mutations Geralt is either experiencing visions of his mother (a village sorceress) talking with him or just hallucinating the whole thing. In fact, her "spell" put on him to prevent him from being a witcher can either be interpreted as a real hex causing alternation in his mutations and making him more human or is simply a coincidence.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: During his Trial of Mountains, Geralt faces one and tames it. The wolf is later revealed as simply defending its litter."
  • No Name Given: The Old Witcher, again.
    Geralt: They've called you "Old Man". I never asked about your name
    Old Witcher: (smirks, waves his hand and rides away)
  • Noble Wolf: During his Trial of Mountains, young Geralt encountered a lone she-wolf. She initially was hostile towards him, while protecting her den with cubs in it. Slowly, Geralt won her favour by tending to her wounds and giving them some of his food, naming the wolf Zębata (Fangtooth). Near the end of test, she accepted Geralt as a part of her family.
  • Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: Vesimir decided to help Geralt survive Trial of Mountains, precisely because there was no-one there to check if everything was set fair.
  • The Oath-Breaker: Geralt's father. In past he promised to give what he didn't expect to find back home to witchers as payback for saving his life. When it's due to give the boy, he prefers to fight a witcher than do what he promised.
  • Pride Before a Fall: Witchers get this treatment from the first episode. The kicker? Barely any of them learns the lesson, being all just designed for killing and not thinking too much. This ultimately leads to much slower and painful Break the Haughty for the whole guild in following years, until they eventually collapse.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Vesemir is this for all witchers. Without his leadership it's obvious that the internal struggle will soon doom the whole guild.
  • Scenery Porn: One of few things that just about everyone had to agree about the series were impressive location shots, especially those in the wilderness. Even despite the mediocre quality of the film stock and shoddy development technique, those shots remain a sight to behold.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: A natural byproduct of sword fights being choreographed by an aikido master. For those unfamiliar - aiki-ken is a pure practice routine designed around single strokes, but also has zero combat application. Still, due to the single stroke nature, some fights look badass, especially when Geralt is cutting through mooks like a hot knife through butter in a quick succession of swift movements. Meanwhile, other combat sequences are barely covering the fact nobody had the slightest idea about fencing or how to film it.
  • Start X to Stop X: Gwidon's decisions to start killing human settlers to loot their supplies and take their children for training, as a way to create more witchers, so humans can be better protected from dangers of the world.
  • Suddenly Significant Rule: After several failed tries to kill off Geralt, the Witcher Council invoked as the last attempt an old dead and buried custom in which a young graduate has to face other witcher in a final trial of swords (this is the reason why in the movie's opening credits montage sequence Geralt is shown in armor while other graduates wear simple robes). It didn’t work – Geralt defeated his opponent.
  • Timeshifted Actor: Geralt was portrayed by Maciej Łagodziński as a kid and by Michał Żebrowski as an adult witcher. Adela was played by Natalia Chojecka as a child and by Agnieszka Sitek as an adult. Renfri was played by Weronika Pelczyńska as a child, and Kinga Ilgner as an adult.
  • Tin Man: Geralt has been lead into thinking that he's incapable of feeling higher emotions and his feelings towards Yennefer are just an echo of something a real man would feel.
  • Took a Level in Badass: First three episodes are dedicated to show how many levels in badass Geralt took since his training started and how much it takes to just survive as a witcher.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: When Geralt's parents protest against giving him back, the witcher sent for him just tells them that they should calmly follow the rules and give him what is rightfully his. The reasoning behind is that deals should be kept, or the whole witchering makes no sense and also that Geralt as a witcher himself might save countless lives, even if he will be lost to his parents.
  • Women Are Wiser: Countless examples. Female characters are by default more level-headed, reasonable or simply smarter. Even when they perform some dubious acts, they always have perfect, solid reasons to do so, rather than doing it out of spite, pettyness or just because they could - like all men do. The only exception would be Renfri, but she's still always a mastermind behind some band of men, ruling them with both iron fist and her smarts.
  • Wormsign: A creature that Geralt killed to rescue Calanthe and Pavetta gives one of these.
  • You Killed My Father: Averted. In the final episode Geralt, guided by visions and flashbacks, reaches an old house his parents used to live in. He then learns the story of his parents from an old man who now lives there. After his son was taken to Kaer Morhen, Geralt's father fell into drunkenness, telling people left and right that witchers have taken his child. Finally, he was killed by a bunch of witchers who came to silence him. Later, Geralt returns to Kaer Morhen and confronts the council (or, to be more precise, its remnants). When they accuse him of violating the code by killing humans, he calls them out on their hypocrisy and then admits that while he'd wish to kill them, he can't bring it over himself to do it.


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