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Series / The Witcher (2019)

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"People linked by destiny will always find each other."

"Evil is evil, Stregobor. Lesser, greater, middling, it's all the same. I'm not judging you. I haven't only done good in my life either. But now, if I have to choose between one evil and another... then I prefer not to choose at all."
Geralt of Rivia

The Witcher is a Netflix-produced Dark Fantasy series adapted from Andrzej Sapkowski's book series, The Witcher, with Lauren Hissrich as showrunner.

Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), a solitary monster hunter from the dying order of the Witchers, struggles to find his place in a world where people often prove more wicked than beasts. But when destiny hurtles him toward a powerful sorceress and a young princess with a dangerous secret, the three must learn to navigate an increasingly volatile continent together.

The cast includes Freya Allan as Princess Cirilla (shortened to "Ciri"), Anya Chalotra as Yennefer of Vengerberg, Jodhi May as Queen Calanthe, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson as King Eist, Adam Levy as Mousesack, MyAnna Buring as Tissaia, Mimi Ndiweni as Fringilla and Lars Mikkelsen as Stregobor.


The series premiered on December 20, 2019. A month after the initial release, it was confirmed to have Netflix's most successful opening ever. Two additional seasons have been ordered, with the second season slated for release on December 17, 2021.

An animated film, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, was released on August 23, 2021. It is set before the series, focusing on Vesemir (voiced by Theo James). A second animated film has been confirmed to be in development as of September 2021.

Netflix is also developing two spin-offs. The first, The Witcher: Blood Origin, will focus on the origin of the Witchers, 1200 years before Geralt's time. Declan de Barra will serve as showrunner, with Hissrich returning as executive producer. The confirmed cast members include Laurence O'Fuarain, Michelle Yeoh, and Sophia Brown. The second spin-off is said to be a family-friendly series, though details have yet to be disclosed.


Featurettes: Henry Cavill reads The Witcher, Geralt Introduction, Ciri Introduction, Yennefer Introduction.

The official map and the timeline for the series can be found here.

This series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: While it was always implied in the books, the series shows Yennefer's father throwing her around and calling her a "beast" for her deformities. When Tissaia offers to buy her, he accepts her price without haggling, and tosses her to the sorceress when she tries to refuse. (For comparison, a pig is worth ten marks. Her father asks six for Yennefer, then accepts four without blinking.)
  • Action Girl: Renfri, a bandit who leads her own crew and is able to give Geralt quite the fight. Yennefer, also, is no slouch in combat, wielding two swords at once.
  • Action Prologue: The first episode begins with Geralt fighting a kikimora in a swamp.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Geralt is often described to be dry and wiry in the books, not having a remarkable musculature. The show makes him the opposite: Henry Cavill certainly could not be described as wiry or even thin. On top of that, his hair and clothes are very lean all the time. This fact created some memes, calling this version of the witcher as Geralt of Bodybuildia.
  • Adaptational Badass: In the short story, "The Bounds of Reason", Yennefer gets overpowered by the Reavers and ends up tied to a wagon with her breasts bared, having to rely on Geralt to free her from her bonds (he's tied up with her and manages to form the Igni sign to burn their ropes off), whereas in the episode adapting it, Yennefer fights back to back with Geralt using a a sword and dagger.
  • Adaptational Diversity: The show introduces a countless number of people of color, whereas Sapkowski's novels hardly ever had anyone with skin that is not pale white. A lot of Race Lift is done for several major characters. As a whole, the show includes black people, people of Indian descent, people of Asian descent, and some Latin Americans in one place. (Two black characters are introduced in-show as Zerrikanians, which is portrayed as a mashup of Africa and Arabia in the video game series; in the novels they're more inspired by Eurasian steppe nomads mashed up with Kievan Rus.)
  • Adaptational Early Appearance:
    • Triss Merigold is introduced as Foltest's adviser in "Betrayer Moon", which adapts "The Witcher", the very first story of the whole series. Triss does not appear in the original story, or either of the collections, for that matter. She's referenced by Yennefer as a close friend in "The Last Wish", but doesn't appear until Blood of Elves (which is after Geralt finds Ciri). This means Triss actually meets Geralt before Yennefer, when in the books, it was the opposite.
    • The same with Cahir, after his Adaptational Villainy, he is in his full presence as the Big Bad, while in the early books, he wasn't even mentioned.
    • Fringilla Vigo is shown to be together with Yennefer in Aretuza, and she also becomes the Big Bad, along with Cahir, while she only appears in the later books of the saga, namely Baptism of Fire.
    • Vilgefortz is introduced along with other mages and sorceresses, while he appears firstly in Blood of Elves.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • The dryads of Brokilon are considerably more reasonable and helpful than in the books, where they weren't going to give Ciri a choice about becoming one of them, and hunt people anywhere within the borders of their ancient territory.
    • Filavandrel is a lot more reasonable than in the books, deciding to let Geralt and Jaskier leave of his own volition.
    • Boholt is a slight variation on this; while he harasses Yennefer, he doesn't sexually assault her like he does in the books. Likewise, Yarpen and his band never plan to take part in gang-raping Yennefer along with Boholt and his Reavers.
    • Renfri is portrayed as a tragic character that reluctantly became a bandit, therefore making her revenge more relatable. In the original story, she was more of a straight bandit that feared the other bandits.
  • Adaptational Jerkass:
    • In the short story "The Bounds of Reason", Eyck of Denesle is depicted as a Noble Bigot who detests witchers and sorceresses, but takes his knightly vows very seriously and even saves Geralt and Yennefer from falling to their deaths when they are caught in a landslide, despite his prejudices against them. He later gets to prove his bravery by agreeing to fight the golden dragon Villentretenmerth in single combat — a decision that gets him crippled, but also earns him the sincere respect of his opponent. His counterpart in the series, on the other hand, is a vain, selfish fool who kills a harmless, starving creature in a needlessly brutal and drawn-out manner and ultimately suffers an Undignified Death.
    • Geralt, on the whole, is far less pleasant to Jaskier than he is in the books. In the books, while they bicker and banter, Geralt's internal narration names Jaskier his best friend, and when Jaskier is injured by the Djinn, Geralt swears to do everything in his power to save him. In the show, Geralt openly treats him at best like an irritating tag-along whom he reluctantly tolerates, and at worst he's actively hostile and unkind towards him. Not to mention that Geralt kicks him away when Yennefer abandons him, which never happened in books.
      • The sad thing is, this still leaves Jaskier as Geralt's best friend in the world.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Previous English translations of both the books and video games have translated "Jaskier" as "Dandelion" (it actually means "buttercup" in Polish). This series leaves it untranslated.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Yennefer, if modestly. She doesn't have an intimate relationship with both Geralt and Istredd and then leave them both when they learn of it. She has a relationship with each of them, but never concurrently.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: King Foltest is described as a young good-looking ruler, who had many encounters with other women (including his sister). Here he given a big Age Lift into a generic gluttonous medieval king whose facial features and physique cannot be described as handsome at all.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • In the short story, Stregobor urges Geralt to disappear from Blaviken with him because the villagers will not understand his actions. In the show, Stregobor actively incites the townsfolk against Geralt after Geralt refuses to allow him to dissect Renfri's corpse.
    • In the show, King Foltest obstructs Geralt's investigation, only reconciles with Geralt's plan near the end, and ultimately denies Geralt credit, whereas in the original short story he's basically a Reasonable Authority Figure from start to finish.
    • In the show, Queen Calanthe personally ordered the genocidal purge of anyone with elven blood within her kingdom, while the books give no hint of her part in such an atrocity, especially since in the books she herself has elven blood and is aware of it.
    • The show's cold, ruthless, and scheming Tissaia de Vries is the polar opposite of her book version, who's friendly, empathetic, and holds political games in contempt.
    • Nilfgaard as a whole is more evil than in the books where they already were pretty bad. Most fundamentally, they are made into religious and racial zealots rather than hegemonic imperialists.
    • Fringilla Vigo isn't the nicest person in the Witcher saga, but in the books she was a minor character's whose role is limited to wounding Yennefer at Sodden Hill and trying to Honey Trap Geralt in Toussaint. In the show, she's portrayed as the main antagonist by taking on some of the words and deeds of the books' Big Bad Vilgefortz.
    • In the novels, Cahir is merely a young knight who just follows Emperor Emhyr var Emreis' order to find Ciri from a combination of ambition, fear, and even odd chivalrynote  and never intentionally makes bad things happen. Essentially, he's always Not Evil, Just Misunderstood. In the show, he's not only guilty of plenty of personal crimes (like killing King Eist personally and Mousesack by proxy of the doppler) but as commander-in-chief of the whole Nilfgaardian army is also responsible for all Nilfgaardian atrocities.
    • None of the dopplers in the novels are villainous or even vicious. Doppler in this series is made into a Hannibal-style psycho-maniac.
    • Strangely enough, Geralt himself. In the original story, Renfri made clear her intent to slaughter the people of Blaviken until either Geralt killed Stregobor or Stregobor surrendered himself to her revenge, and Geralt (knowing Stregobor would never surrender) instead chose to protect Blaviken by killing Renfri and her henchmen. With Renfri's Adaptational Heroism in the show, however, Geralt only sees an extremely vague vision about blood before deciding to kill Renfri without actually making clear his intention was to protect the villagers.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • In "Four Marks", Jaskier/Dandelion doesn't get the opportunity to swear his infamous revenge against the elves that captured him and Geralt as he did in the short story "The Edge of the World".
    • Sir Eyck of Denesle. In the original story, he actually is a very skilled knight and monster hunter, to the point Geralt says he makes finding work harder, and is crippled fighting the dragon. In Rare Species, he's pompous, rash, and foolish, and is killed by the Reavers while suffering from diarrhea.
    • Vilgefortz, while a skilled combatant, is fought to a standstill and eventually bested by the Badass Normal Cahir once his magic is depleted, whereas in the books he's capable of wiping the floor with a seasoned Witcher in single combat using only a Simple Staff and is considered the Final Boss of the Witcher books.
  • Adaptation Deviation:
    • The more explicit Fractured Fairy Tale aspects of Sapkowski's short stories are all but gone. For example, the show omitted the magic mirror, poisoned apple, and seven gnomes from Renfri's backstory to remove her similarity to Snow White.
    • Yennefer's reason for leaving Geralt in "Rare Species" is her discovery that his wish bound them together and her belief that their feelings are simply the result of the wish. In the books, she knows about Geralt's wish from the start because she heard him make it and isn't troubled by it. A sidequest from the third game does involve undoing the wish to resolve this question, but since Yennifer's feelings don't change it's entirely up to the player to decide the effect.
    • Yennefer's desire for a child. She implies she doesn't necessarily want a child, but wants the choice (or rather to override a negative consequence of the choice she made decades ago). In the books, she actually just wants a child, and others are quite aware of this fact.
      • More generally, infertility is described in the novels' Encyclopedia Exposita as merely a common hormonal side-effect of becoming a mage since "some wizards, usually women, attune to magic while still maintaining efficiency of the gonads." In the show, however, Yennefer undergoes a ritual hysterectomy with her removed organs burned as part of an Equivalent Exchange for beauty and immortality. Similarly, in the novels the witchers' sterility is a side effect of the mutagens used in their transformations, while in the show Geralt suggests he, too, was intentionally sterilized.
    • Ciri's stay in Brokilon was notably changed and e.g. first meeting of Geralt and Ciri was cut out, which resulted in them meeting for the first time only in the first season's final episode, which made this situation quite bizarre, as those two never met before and barely know each other.
    • The reason for the djinn attacking Jaskier. In the original short story "The Last Wish", the djinn attacked Jaskier on its own; Geralt drove it off with what he'd been told was a banishment incantation in Elder speech, but was really a command for the Literal Genie to go screw itself. The show takes the simpler route of Geralt "wishing" for "peace and quiet" while arguing with Jaskier, and the djinn interpreting it as a command.
  • Adaptation Distillation:
    • The first season adapts both The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny short-story collections. Or rather, certain stories from each that introduce the critical characters and lore that the later saga centers on. Stories that were more standalone, such as "A Grain of Truth" or "A Little Sacrifice", are not adapted.
    • Geralt and Yennefer's turbulent relationship is greatly simplified. In the books, they make several attempts at a serious relationship (over the course of a decade or so), before one or the other does something that makes it collapse. In the show, they quickly separate both times they are shown together. It's implied they've had off-screen liaisons between "Bottled Appetites" and "Rare Species", but not so complicated as their book counterparts, who were infamous in-universe for their messy spats, whereas in the show, even Triss isn't aware they know each other.
    • The dragon hunting party is smaller than in the original story, with several characters Adapted Out, as well as the details surrounding the hunt greatly simplified.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • Renfri is blonde in the books, but brunette in the show.
    • In the books, Calanthe has ash-blonde hair like her daughter and granddaughter, and her second husband Eist is a redhead. In the show, they both have dark hair.
    • Mousesack is a redhead in the novels, but brown-haired in the show.
    • Triss originally had chestnut-coloured (light or reddish brown) hair in the novels (and was turned into a fiery redhead in the games); the show portrays her with dark brown hair.
    • Jaskier is also blond in the books. This is only stated outright in the very last book Season of Storms, but is generally implied by his stage name "Jaskier" being Polish for "Buttercup" (a bright yellow flower). In the series, he's brown-haired.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Broadly speaking, the first season adapts the high points of The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny for Geralt, but constructs everything else from flashbacks and exposition.
    • Yennifer is decidedly the Third Line, Some Waiting protagonist of the novels, trailing well behind Geralt and Ciri in terms of independent page-time, dialogue, and character development, with a backstory that's mostly only hinted at. The show fleshes out Yen's character, angst, and backstory until they arguably surpass even that of Geralt.
    • In the show, Geralt attends the ball in Cintra as Jaskier's bodyguard. In the short story, Jaskier isn't involved; Geralt is invited by Calanthe because she intended him to kill Duny for her.
    • The Battle of Sodden Hill was a significant event, but one that occurred off-screen. The show depicts both the battle and the machinations that led to the mages deciding to intervene against Nilfgaard's invasion.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: Calanthe jumping to her death. In the books, the reason she jumped to her death was because no one was willing to kill their queen, even if she wished it, so she had to do it herself. The show doesn't give any explicit justification for why she wasn't given one of the vials of poison—apart from a vague throwaway line from Calanthe saying she'd prefer her death to be more dramatic.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Sort of. Other English versions usually translate the Polish word "Jaskier" to its reasonable equivalent "Dandelion" as the name of the eponymous bard, but this version doesn't. This gets a bit odd when he still introduces himself to Yarpen as Julian Alfred Pankratz, meaning "Jaskier" is still just his stage name, but one that is pure nonsense in English.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Caldemeyn, an important character from the story "The Lesser Evil", is omitted.
    • Nenneke and Iola do not appear, nor are they mentioned.
    • Velerad, King Foltest's assistant, doesn't appear.
  • An Aesop: Say "it's not that simple" or "it's the lesser evil" all you want. Good and evil, right and wrong, they are all still there and they do not just go away because you want them to.
    • Refusing to choose between a "greater" or "lesser" evil because "evil is evil" is itself a choice, and attempting to stay above the fray will likely align you with the worse cause.
  • All There in the Manual: Netflix went so far as creating an interactive map to help people unfamiliar with the books or games get the Continent’s locations and history straight.note 
  • Ambition Is Evil: Downplayed. A number of characters are led astray by their pride and desire for respect and power. Sometimes they have a chance to learn from it, but sometimes not.
    • Yennefer, to boost her career as a court mage and snatch the post at Aedirn from Fringilla, submits herself to a (literal) Magic Plastic Surgery that leaves her sterile. Her defiance of the Brotherhood of Mages earns her ostracism, and she ends up regretting it later anyway, as she finds her work meaningless. She later desperately attempts a number of fertility treatments, some of which almost end up killing her.
    • Tissaia de Vries seems imposing at first, but her Stern Teacher mannerisms don’t earn her much sympathy from her students. She finds herself with few allies when rallying support for Cintra at the meeting of the Brotherhood, and her scene with Fringilla in episode 8 suggests that for the latter the battle was at least in part revenge for how she was treated at Aretuza.
    • Calanthe takes pride in her military achievements, and in her own words "bow[s] to no law made by men who never bore a child", which in her view includes Destiny itself. Her warmongering tendencies made her unpopular with her subjects, while her defiance of the Law of Surprise (twice!) ended up jeopardising the lives of her family.
    • Sir Eyck of Denesle, pious and eager to slay the dragon "for kingdom and glory" is universally despised by the rest of Borch’s team (with the exception of Yennefer, but even that’s just a ruse). In his overzealousness, he brutally kills a starving creature that would have left them alone were it just fed. This ends up being Laser-Guided Karma for him: he later eats the creature’s meat, triggering diarrhea (which he was warned about), after which he is killed while emptying his bowels.
  • Anachronic Order: Geralt, Yennefer and Ciri's storylines don't happen in the same time period at the start of the series, in spite of being included in the same episodes. This isn't initially obvious because most of the characters involved don't visibly age, but you get a hint of this from the very first episode, when Queen Calanthe talks about winning her first battle when she was Ciri's age, then Renfri talks about that same battle as if it had just happened. It becomes clear in "Betrayer Moon" when Foltest appears as a young boy in Yennefer's storyline and as an old man in Geralt's, and is made even more explicit in "Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials" when Geralt meets characters like Calanthe (who died in Ciri's storyline in the first episode) and Mousesack and is present for the wedding of Ciri's parents. Yennefer's timeline catches up to Geralt's in "Bottled Appetites", and both of them catch up to the beginning of Ciri's in "Before a Fall". Each character's story is internally chronological, but are related to each other thematically, i.e. juxtaposing Geralt's attempt to break the curse on the Striga with Yennefer's ascension.
  • And I Must Scream: The unknown fate of Tissaia's students who fail is to become transformed into eels in a pool where they serve as fuel for magic.
  • Anti-Magic: Multiple versions are featured on the show:
    • The mineral dimeritium is used to suppress mages' abilities, either by fashioning bindings and cages for them, or by making them inhale dimeritium dust.
    • Renfri is immune to magic also, as Geralt discovers when he tries to use the Axii sign on her.
  • Arc Words:
    • In the first episode, named "The End's Beginning", the words "lesser evil" is used extensively.
    • In Yennefer's plotline "legacy" crops up really often.
    • "Destiny" is recurring theme throughout the show.
  • Armor Is Useless: Mostly averted. In some cases, armor is portrayed as being ineffective, but this is against weapons that would be used to piece armor, such as an axe chopping through a knight's helmet. When fighting armored opponents, Geralt's strikes overwhelmingly target gaps and openings like open visors, and he is often shown half-swording and using the pommel of his weapon to stun or knock them down.
  • Arranged Marriage: Queen Calanthe planned on one for Pavetta, despite her objection.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Marilka, the daughter of Blaviken's alderman, appears only in passing in the short story, but in the show she gets a full conversation with Geralt, is taken hostage by Renfri, and takes her Adapted Out father's place in telling Geralt to never return to Blaviken.
    • Stregobor only appears in the story "The Lesser Evil" and is never seen again. In the show, he's a very important character in the Continent's politics.
    • Tissaia de Vries appears only as a minor in the novel "The Time of Contempt". In the show, she's a mentor of Yennefer and a very important person in Continental politics.
    • Fringilla Vigo plays a minor supporting role in one novel, but she definitely was not the main antagonist. The show made her the main villain with Cahir being The Dragon to her.
  • Asshole Victim: Ostrid is chained as bait for the Striga as punishment for causing all the disaster going on in Temeria. But as described in Villain with Good Publicity he ends up being hailed as the hero of the story.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Queen Calanthe is called the Lioness of Cintra and fights on the front lines of battle.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Geralt and Duny join forces and fight off Calanthe's men together when the knight's curse is revealed, and they hold them off pretty well on their own until Eist and the Skelligers decide to back them up.
  • Badass Abnormal: Geralt is built to be this, having had his capabilities increased by the process which made him a Witcher.
  • The Bard: Jaskier, who quickly attaches himself to Geralt because the Witcher's adventures are great fodder for ballads.
  • Battle Couple: Geralt and Yennefer get their moment while defending the dragon egg. The King and Queen of Cintra also fight in battle together.
  • Because Destiny Says So: In the setting, Destiny is seen as an all-powerful active force, with many characters willing to fight and die in service of what they see as the will of Destiny. This extends to the entirety of the Nilfgaardian Empire, who are revealed in episode 7 to have launched their crusade in aid of fulfilling some prophecy they believe refers to Ciri.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • Determined to never again be the powerless and scared youth she was in her terrible past, Yennefer is resolute in her ambition early in the series to become the mage advisor in the elegant court of Aedirn. She elects to expedite her magical transformation into a beauty (by forgoing painkillers despite the horrific agony involved and the process leaving the subject infertile), and directly approach the King when her desire is blocked by Stregobor's manipulation though her lover Istredd, with the resulting argument with the latter causing him to angrily state that her desire for power will not give her true happiness. Yen admits in the next episode that ultimately all this caused was people to view her only by her position, with the job boiling down to helping loathsome monarchs keep their kingdoms with a lot of political arse-wiping, with the additional loss of the ability to have children leaving her particularly unhappy.
    • In the 5th episode, Jaskier and Geralt come across a djinn, and fight over the amphora that contains it. Soon after Jaskier makes his wishes, he falls deathly ill. It turns out Geralt was the one who wound up with the wishes, and the thing he shouted while arguing with Jaskier was him wishing for peace and quiet. Cue Jaskier choking on his own breath.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: The people inside Cintra's royal palace take poison or otherwise kill themselves in order to avoid being tortured and murdered by the invading Nilfgaardians. Queen Calanthe herself jumps out a window.
  • Blood Magic: Fringilla doesn't believe in Light or Dark magic. And her mage followers use their own lives to fuel their attacks, even if it kills them.
    Fringilla: Again.
  • Bungled Suicide: Yennefer once slit her wrists in self-loathing, but survived.
  • Candlelit Ritual: Yennefer attempts to capture a Djinn by performing a Magical Incantation over a nine-pointed star glyph with candles at the points. They blow out in a magical wind when the Djinn possesses her instead.
  • The Casanova: Jaskier. Unfortunately he seems to specifically prefer ladies that are married or otherwise out of reach to him.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Magic requires a conduit to be drawn from. Fringilla finds this out the hard way when she levitates a stone without drawing from the bunch of flowers on the table and finds her hand rotting. She and her mage followers use their own life forces to fuel magic later as well. This restriction doesn't seem to apply to any other character, oddly, as we see a great many magical feats through the series with no implication that Yen or anyone else is drawing their magic from an exterior source. They could be drawing from the surrounding plant life, which would explain leaving the fortress to get closer to the forest to draw magic more easily.
  • Casting Gag: the Polish dub has an extended one with Michał Żebrowski as Geralt. Again.
  • The Cavalry:
    • Cintra had been hoping for 50 ships' worth of men from Skellige to help defend it should Nilfgaard attack. These ships never arrive, and Cintra is razed. Later it's revealed that Fringilla is responsible for the storm that sank them.
    • Foltest honors his promise to Triss and comes to the aid of the Brotherhood of Sorcerers in the Battle of Sodden Hill. Unfortunately, the Nilfgaardian army arrive earlier than expected. In the battle that follows, the defenders are largely wiped out, only for the rest of the Nilfgaardian army to be torched by Yennefer's unrestrained magic, turning his arrival into The Cavalry Arrives Late.
  • Cold Sniper: Cahir is a crack shot with a bow, able to peg the King of Cintra in the eye from a significant distance across a raging battlefield. He's also a Nilfgaardian fanatically loyal to Emyr var Emreis who will do anything to accomplish his mission, even massacring a tavern full of innocents because he thinks one of them is a shapeshifter.
  • The Conspiracy: The Brotherhood of Sorcerers places representatives at every court in order to manipulate politics. Whether they are a Benevolent Conspiracy depends on point-of-view.
  • Continuity Snarl: The official timeline places Calanthe's birth six years after a scene where the Brotherhood discusses her. It's unfortunately impossible to move these dates without creating a domino effect of other required changes.
  • Cool Sword: Geralt's steel and silver swords are the main tools of his trade. Notably, the crossguard styles are inverted from the way they're depicted in the games; The silver sword now has the traditional straight crossguard, while the steel sword has the angular one. This was a practical choice based on the style of swordplay Henry Cavill employed, as the angular crossguard allowed him better wrist movement during fights scenes with other humans.
    • Geralt's steel sword is a weird hybrid weapon. Its blade is the length of an arming sword (one-handed European longsword), but it has a longer "hand & a half" grip of a bastard sword (a longer sword meant to allow the use of both hands for better leverage on the longer blade, though not as long as a greatsword). Weird or not, it's effective in the hands of a man who knows what he's doing.
  • Court Mage: Almost every single monarch in the setting has a wielder of magic at their court. Most of them are provided by the Chapter and trained at Aretuza or Ban Ard. Cintra stands out as they steadfastly refuse to accept a Chapter mage at their court, but have a druid from Eist Tuirseach's court fulfilling the same role when he becomes King of Cintra after marrying Calanthe. Triss, Yennefer and Fringilla were three of those we see with this position, which lets them pull strings behind the scenes.
  • Crapsack World: Commoners live in The Dung Ages while the higher classes are busy trying to screw, trick or murder each other. War and genocide seem to be happening all over the place while monarchs are too apathetic and selfish to do anything about it. Mages are sent to sink-or-swim academies where the few survivors among the class get to secretly rule the entire continent - badly. It's no wonder Nilfgaard's religion is so popular and able to draw in thousands of zealots to their ranks, since at least they give a damn about feeding their troops and sending them to fulfill a higher purpose, but merely as tools of Nilfgaard to be used and thrown away by commanders whose arrogance and ruthlessness exceeds that of the Northerners. Meanwhile, elves are being hunted down in racial purges while their resistance groups turn to brutal tactics in turn, non-aggressive monsters are subjected to Van Helsing Hate Crimes while Ax-Crazy monsters thrive on human entrails, and all of this is a prelude to the upcoming ice age apocalypse.
  • Curbstomp Battle: In the climax of episode one we get our first look at just how deadly Geralt is with his blades. He calmly wades into a company of eight experienced killers who are armed with swords, axes, and one crossbow. Geralt has just his steel sword, no shield, no armor, not even a parrying dagger, and he slaughters them all without so much as a scratch to show for it.
  • Danger with a Deadline: Geralt faces down a vicious monster called a Striga that has been cursed to rise from its tomb at night and cause havoc, and he has to keep it out of its coffin until after sunrise in order to defeat it. The effort of doing this nearly gets him killed.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The Nilfgaardian mages use very powerful but extremely dangerous magic that has been forbidden by the Brotherhood, usually because their spells tend to kill the mage using them. Because the Nilfgaardian mages are conscripted and trained as fanatical soldiers, they are willing to give their lives to use these spells.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Yennefer suffered under an abusive father (actually stepfather, but at the time she didn't know this) who sold her to a mage for a paltry sum, was disabled, suffered from prejudice over her ancestry and had loathed herself so much she once attempted suicide.
    • Played With in regards to Geralt; on the one hand, his early childhood from what we see of it looked quite nice by the standards of the setting, with him being a bright-eyed child with dreams of being a Knight in Shining Armor and not having to worry about food or shelter. Then his mother abandoned him on the road, Vesemir picked him up, and the rest is history.
  • Dark Reprise: Of an already dark line, moreover; when first instructing the girls at her school, Tissaia de Vries uses the analogy of a flower to explain that magical power has to draw from something, capping it off with the phrase "Sometimes, the best thing a flower can do for us is die." Tissaia repeats the line to Yennefer after turning three of her fellow students into eels, to illustrate where the magical power of the Brotherhood comes from.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Geralt. Also Roach by implication.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Mousesack is killed off by Doppler. He doesn't die in books, he is rather never mentioned again.
    • "Rare Species" (based on the novella The Bounds of Reason from Sword of Destiny):
      • In the original story, Sir Eyck was left badly injured but alive after a failed attempt to joust the gold dragon Villentretenmerth. In the episode, he's murdered by Boholt while relieving himself long before the party reaches the dragons' lair.
      • The green dragon Myrgtabrakke survived in the original story: Villentretenmerth pulled a You Shall Not Pass! on the dragon hunters who meant to finish her off after villagers planted a poisoned sheep carcass as bait when she started raiding their flocks. In this series she was injured by dragon hunters who went after her unprovoked, and succumbs to her injuries before the hunting party including Geralt and Yennefer reaches her lair.
  • Death of a Child: Played Straight on tone with the Anyone Can Die tone of the story:
    • Multiple children are slain in the Nilfgaardian raid on the Cintran refugee camp.
    • Dara (an elf) describes how Cintran soldiers murdered babies during the Great Purge, of which he was the survivor.
    • The latest girl born to the King and Queen of Lyria doesn't survive to the end of the episode despite Yennefer's attempts to save her.
  • Double Entendre: Shortly after Geralt and Yennefer first meet, Yennefer conjures him a new outfit, since his previous one is spoiled by monster guts.
    Geralt: It's a bit tight.
    Yennefer: I sized you up correctly.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Sci-Fi: Yennefer uses a spell to make townspeople have an orgy simply for her amusement. There is no comment on this.
  • Dramatic Irony: Triss references Geralt to Yennefer, oblivious that Yennefer knows Geralt very well.
  • Due to the Dead: In "Much More," Geralt comes across the remains of a Cintran refugee camp attacked by Nilfgaard, and an old man trying to give the dead their respects by lining them together and covering the bodies. Unbeknownst to him, necrophages are being drawn to the site of the massacre, and while Geralt initially decides to move on, he comes back to protect the old man and then defend bodies from the monsters.
  • Dual Wielding: In her duel with Geralt, Renfri fights with both a sword and dagger.
  • Earn Your Title: Geralt massacring Renfri's band in a Blaviken street fight earns him his nickname as the "Butcher of Blaviken."
  • Earworm: Jaskier writes "Toss a Coin to Your Witcher", a very exaggerated retelling of how he met Geralt, as part of his efforts to improve his reputation. In-Universe, an entire pub spontaniously start singing it when Geralt stumbles in after a death defying battle with a giant monster (which they'd just heard the details of from a witness), to Geralt's irritation. Out of universe it's reached Memetic Mutation status for its catchyness.
  • Equivalent Exchange: Magic is explained to operate on this principle. If you don't have an external source for power, it will be drawn from the caster.
  • Evolving Credits: The opening title card for each episode has a small metal sigil in the style of Geralt's Wolf School pendant that is related to the events of the episode (such as an animal paw-print with the Temerian lily for the episode where Geralt fights the Striga), but the final episode instead shows each of the previous sigils twisting, breaking, and combining until they form the overall sigil for the show; a circle with Geralt's wolf forming the right side, a swallow flying in the top-left, and Yennefer's star pendant in the bottom left.
  • Eye Scream: King Eist Tuirseach is killed by an arrow through the eye at the Battle of Marnadal.
  • False Friend: When Ciri reunites with several Cintran refuges after the fall of Cintra, she recognises among them some of the boys she played with in the square, only for them to coldly declare that they never liked her and only played with her because she was the queen's granddaughter, and felt they had to let her play and let her win. They attempt to kidnap her and sell her to Nilfgard, all the while making it clear they all resented her.
  • Fanservice Extra: The show features two "background" orgies, one in Stregobor's tower (an illusion he made to amuse himself while in hiding) and the second when Geralt finally meets Yennefer (her customers for lust spells, who snap out of it when she says the magic word and all immediately feel embarrassed).
  • Fan Disservice: Episode 3 has Yenn and the Striga juxtaposed with each other. Both are naked, neither are cosmetically appealing.
  • Fantastic Racism: While the different species in the setting are pretty prejudiced against each other, the Cintrans' bigotry against elves and humans with elven blood is so virulent that even the other human nations consider it excessive.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The failed apprentices who are turned into eels to be used as conduits for magic to draw from.
  • Father's Quest: The first season basically turns out to be the story of Geralt accidentally adopting a child (via the Law of Surprise) and accepting responsibility for her. Ciri (the child in question) goes through an Orphan's Ordeal and he tries to dodge responsibility before finally seeking her out.
  • Fetal Position Rebirth: Yennefer’s magical transformation to her ideal body resembles a woman painfully giving birth. She is seated (naked) in stirrups for the mage/surgeon to perform the hysterectomy needed to induce the ritual, and Yen screams in agony as her body contorts and hemorrhages. She ultimately ends up naked in the fetal position on the floor covered in blood; the metamorphosis can be seen as Yen giving birth to her new body.
  • Final Solution: The humans wiped out most elves in an event called "The Great Cleansing".
  • Flynning: Played straight and averted. Geralt displays a lot of very good broadsword techniques, even halfswording from time to time. But he also frequently uses a reverse grip that looks cool but would also put him at a major disadvantage in a fight.
    • Shadiversity breaks down Geralt's fight with Renfri's gang, analyzing the good and bad swordsmanship. He also allows that some of the Hollywood moves are somewhat acceptable on the basis that the thugs are unskilled trash, "and he's going to slaughter them like trash," and thus aren't worth proper swordsmanship.
  • Foil:
    • Fringilla and Yennefer. Both are ambitious and determined sorceresses with a thirst for power. However Yennefer is more interested in acquiring more magical power, Fringilla is focused on increasing her political and military power.
    • Sir Eyck Of Denesle is this to Geralt. While both are monster hunters, Geralt does so for coin, while Eyck is a knight in it for the glory. Eyck is an overzealous Wide-Eyed Idealist who is vying for a fiefdom that everyone reckons won't exist in a few years, while Geralt is a pure cynic with no aspirations towards power whatsoever. Their respective reactions to the starving Hirrika sum it up as well: Eyck unnecessarily slaughters the poor creature, after which Geralt notes that simply feeding it would have caused it to leave them alone.
    • Geralt and Yennefer also serve as foils to one another. Both were abandoned by their parents to a Parental Substitute who put them through Training from Hell to join the guild they run (but Geralt was abandoned at the roadside by an apparently loving mother, while Yennefer was sold by an abusive father). Both underwent transformations which left them sterile, but Geralt's was unwilling and mainly changed his eyes; Yennefer's was willing (something she had to worm her way into, no less) and (by her request) changed everything but her unique eyes; both draw attention to their eyes when speaking to figures in their past (Geralt when calling out his mother, Yen when being complimented on keeping them by a former lover). Geralt embraced his new self and is still loyal to his guild, Yennefer came to regret her decision and went rogue (although both mainly remain loyal to their mentors). Yennefer wants a child (at least partially to Screw Destiny which says she can't), while Geralt spends the entire first season trying to avoid the child he's bound to become a father/mentor figure to because he resents being so destined (with both calling one another out on either struggle being futile and harmful to the people around them).
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Tissaia comes over to buy Yennefer, her mother tries to stop his father from selling her claiming "she's our daughter!", To which he responds "She's no daughter of mine". This may sound like an I Have No Son! moment, however it really means that he's aware that her real father is a half elf.
    • The questions about what happens to an older Witcher directly foreshadow the later appearance of Vesemir.
    • In the first episode, a wounded Calanthe asks for Mousesack to bring "him" from the tower, only for Mousesack to return and state that "he" has escaped. In episode seven we find out that they're talking about Geralt, who was imprisoned in the castle the whole time.
    • Princess Pavetta may seem overly prone to waterworks in general, as it seems her mother portrays her when mother and daughter are at odds... but propensity for such moodiness is a more subtle sign of early pregnancy.
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • Lampshaded by Tissaia. Had Yennefer gone to the Nilfgaardian court instead of Fringilla, the stronger-willed and cleverer Yennefer could have stopped the spreading religious zealotry long before it led to a continent-wide war of conquest.
    • If Calanthe hadn't been so selfish, Ciri would've left with Geralt before the attack on Cintra and she would've been safe.
    • On the same note, had she not jailed him, he might've helped fight off the invading Nilfgaardian army and give Mousesack more time to protect the castle.
  • Friend Versus Lover: Jaskier (Geralt's only friend) and Yennefer (Geralt's on-and-off girlfriend) can barely stand each other, as all their interactions consist of sarcasm at best and straight up insults at worst.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare:
    • Around the time of Yennefer's ascension, Nilfgaard was considered a backwater looked down upon by everyone on the Continent. Fast forward to the present day, and they've become The Empire, with nation after nation falling before them.
    • Fringilla herself. First time we see her she's a scared girl making excuses for "accidentally" freezing a cat. By the end of the series she's singlehandedly leading the attack on Sodden against a contingent of Brotherhood of Sorcerers and winning.
    • Yennefer, though she just barely avoids becoming a full Anti-Villain and settles on anti-hero. Originally she was a bullied and abused farm girl nearly Driven to Suicide when it was made clear the world considered her only worth four marks (less than half the value of a pig). By the time of the present, she's risen up to be one of the most powerful mages in the world, with most of the people who are aware of who she is having some degree of fear for her abilities.
  • Giant Spider: The kikimora Geralt confronts at the start of the first episode is a giant spider-like being coming out of a muddy swamp.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Yennefer is originally assigned the small, underdeveloped kingdom of Nilfgaard to advise as a sorceress. To correct the situation, she has her appearance reworked, and seduces her way into the larger kingdom of Aedirn. This causes her to switch places with Fringilla, who was originally meant for that post. Fast forward in the timeline, and Nilfgaard has turned into a powerful, expansionist empire while Aedirn stagnated. Fringilla became known for many famous feats, and leads Nilfgaard's armies against the Northern Kingdoms, essentially becoming what Yennefer wanted for herself.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Ostrid can't fathom the idea that Adda could have actually loved Foltest and goes so far as to curse Adda and by accident also curse her unborn child out of pure jealousy.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: Everyone is out for themselves.
    • Is Renfri actually out to drown the land in blood and bring about the end of humanity? Or is she a girl whose life has been ruined by a prophecy that no one even knows is true and is lashing out at the world in retribution?
    • Queen Calanthe committed genocide against the elves as a young queen and Cintra is xenophobic and isolationist with non-humans living as second class citizens. However, she seems to genuinely love her husband and granddaughter in the present, and whatever her flaws she didn't deserve to watch her kingdom razed to the ground by Nilfgaard, who are seeking Ciri for her power.
    • King Foltest is both a burned out drunken coward who had sex with his sister, and a man who lost the only woman he loved to a jealous rival suitor and desperately wants to save his cursed daughter. He also leads his army to fight Nilfgaard because he had given his word to Triss in an attempt to become The Cavalry. The fact that he arrives too late is not his fault.
  • Groin Attack: When a Cintran courtier seems to recognize Jaskier as the man who was sleeping with his wife, Geralt comes in and claims Jaskier had an incident with an ox kicking him as a child. The courtier even gives "the poor eunuch" a tip and tells him to drink his sorrows on him.
  • Guttural Growler: The voice that Cavill uses for Geralt provides an admirable challenge to Doug Cockle's gravel-on-steel voice from the video game series.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: After it's revealed Yennefer has a quarter elven blood, she is denied a post as court mage to a king. She has to go around the Brotherhood's back to get the position, and in retaliation is kicked out of the Brotherhood before she even officially joined.
  • Hammerspace: Vilgefortz's magical spell of choice is to generate new swords whenever he loses one. He does this multiple times in his fight with Cahir. This turns out to be Awesome, but Impractical as he drains his magical reserves doing it, eventually running out and nearly being killed, when he could've just picked his swords back up.
  • Happily Married: King Eist Tuirseach and Queen Calanthe of Cintra are this.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic:
    • While Eist Tuirseach wore a helmet at the start of the battle, he appears to be the only person to have lost their helmet during the fighting. This costs him his life due to an arrow to the head.
    • Geralt usually wears studded leather armor, but never dons a helmet that would hide his distinctive white locks.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Geralt (and Witchers in general). Jeskier goes out of his way to rewrite Geralt's jobs as more classic heroic adventures in order to repair his reputation from "The Butcher of Blaviken".
    "Toss a coin to your witcher, O' Valley of Plenty, O' Valley of Plenty
    Toss a coin to your witcher, a friend to humanity-eeee"
  • Hollywood Tactics:
    • Battle of Marnadal.
      • The Nilfgaardian army recklessly charged forward, without any formations or tactics. On the other side, queen Calanthe really screwed things up, deploying the heavy cavalry in front of the infantry and not attacking first. She should have either dismounted their knights or ordered them to charge forward, followed with an infantry attack. Since the Nilfgaardian army was shown as highly undisciplined, a Cintran attack would have had a great shock value and might have outweighed Nilfgaard's numerical superiority.
    • The siege of Cintra's royal castle.
      • After Nilfgaardian's broke into the inner fortress, defenders took refuge inside a keep, which lasted as long as Mousesack's magical shield, with absolutely no other defenses in place nor with any active defensive action against the besieging Nilfgaardians. It appears that the scene was shot in a keep that has long since been converted first into an artillery fort and then into a palace, with a huge number of holes and windows in the outer wall that defeat its very purpose, and a dry moat that has been almost completely filled and equipped with a non-movable bridge to the main gate, which in turn has no gatehouse, making it little more than a glorified front door - all decidedly improbable modifications for a martial and aggressive country like Cintra. As a result, as soon as the spell fails, the keep is immediately treated as a lost cause by both sides.
    • Battle of Sodden Hill.
      • Okay, so you have only a few mages and a lot of infantry troops. You are ordered to capture the fortress defended by a group of superior sorcerers. What would you do? Because Nilfgaardians recklessly kept on sending small groups of soldiers ahead, just as if this was an RTS game. This tactic lacks sense, since Nilfgaard's strategic goal was to capture the North and losing most of the army without even fighting incoming Temerian forces would have made it impossible.
      • On the other hand we have the defenders. Instead of staying inside the fortress and casting spells with safety granted by the walls, some of the sorcerers just went outside, to the woods, and died in the result. The whole battle would have been avoided too if only the defenders destroyed the bridge on Jaruna. Lack of a crossing over the river would have made it impossible for Nilfgaard to invade the Northern Kingdoms.
  • Hope Spot: Happens briefly in Episode 6. Geralt and Yennefer have had a talk about their relationship and finally spent a night together without one slipping away before the morning, Jaskier has asked to travel with Geralt again, which the Witcher doesn't immediatly shoot down, and Geralt seems to be considering that it might be time for him to check in on his Surprise Child, leading one to believe that Geralt will finally be less alone in the world. Then comes the end of the episode...
  • How We Got Here: The first 7 episodes are a look at how the major characters got to where they are in the present time, not necessarily within the same time period. The astute viewer may pick up cues to this by way of referencing events at varying lengths of time. For a first episode example, Ciri and her grandmother Queen Calanthe talk about the latter's days as a Young Conqueror way back when, while in a later scene in the very same episode during Geralt's events, another character references Young Conqueror Calanthe's deeds as if they just happened.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Stated outright by many characters many times. Monsters just kill to eat. Humans kill, and worse, for just about every other reason you can think of.
  • Hunter of Monsters: Geralt hunts monsters for money.
  • I Have to Go Iron My Dog: When Jaskier is trying to escape Yennefer he claims he needs to go check if he left his cat on the stove.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills:
    • One of the attack strategies during the siege at the end of season one, is to launch a vial of fantasy white phosphorus and hit it with an arrow, in mid air, from half a mile away. Of course, they are mages so they could have been using magic to help.
    • Cahir is able to hit King Eist Tuirseach through the eye from a considerable distance in the middle of a crowded, chaotic battlefield.
  • In Name Only: Fringilla Vigo, with her Race Lift aside, has nothing in common with her book counterpart except the name. This version is a villainous conqueror, who was the main driving force in the Sodden Hill battle. In books, she was a minor character who had an occasional love affair with Geralt and her role in Sodden Hill was also pretty minor.
  • Irony: At one point Geralt drives away Jaskier by blaming him for all of the misfortunes in his life and losing Yennefer. Geralt never would have met Yennefer in the first place had it not been for Jaskier. He also blames him for winding up with a Child Surprise, but fans of the books and the video games know that Geralt soon comes to love Ciri as his daughter and will soon refuse to give her up for anything. Also, Yennefer is alive and will get together with Geralt eventually.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Queen Calanthe doesn't need armor to be able to wade into a melee.
  • Kill and Replace: The Doppler kills Mousesack in order to take his place in order to track down Ciri.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Subverted with Eyck Of Denesle. He's introduced praying at his sword and Yennefer brings him along to help her slay a dragon, with him claiming he does everything for duty and honor. Everyone else finds him irritating and overzealous. He unnecessarily butchers a harmless creature that would have left the party alone had they just fed it, then cooks and eats it against Geralt's advice, which causes him to have a Potty Emergency. The next morning, he is discovered with his throat slit and his pants down.
  • Lady of Black Magic: Yennefer is a cold, aloof, and graceful sorceress who prefers to use offensive magic.
  • Lady of War: Queen Calanthe of Cintra, the Lioness, rides into battle alongside her husband, who proposed to her in the middle of a brawl.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: After giving up her ability to have children in exchange for losing her disabilities, Yennefer becomes intent on restoring it. She explains that it's not so much she's intent on having children, but wants to have the choice.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: After explaining something to Geralt, Jaskier grumbles about delivering "exposition."
  • Leave No Survivors: Nilfgaardians' general policy, as stated in the pilot and shown to be the case. Instead, they slaughter everyone they come across. In the nobles' case, it was said they'd have tortured them first. They do make an exception with Ciri however, as she's heir to the Cintran throne and has a religious importance to them.
  • Lesser of Two Evils: Defied. Geralt, when told by Stregobor that killing a possibly innocent woman is the "lesser" evil than allowing her to roam free and potentially help bring about the end of humanity, gives his famous "Evil is evil" speech in reply.
    • But ultimately reinforced. Geralt's insistence that he won't choose a side ends with him siding with Stregobor by default. Both Stregobor and Renfri explicitly note that he's made a choice despite claiming he wouldn't, with Stregobor teasing him about whether it was the right one. Geralt clearly feels it wasn't, as the rest of the series is about him growing beyond the aloofness of his famous speech.
  • Loveable Sex Maniac: Jaskier is a lovable scamp who beds many women.
  • Mage Tower:
    • Tor Lara, the Tower of Gull, which Tissaia de Vries states to be the most magical place on the Continent.
    • Stregobor is shown to own a slightly more modest tower for his personal home in Blaviken.
  • Magical Society: The Brotherhood of Sorcerers (despite this name, members are of both sexes). Usually simply called the Brotherhood, it controls most of the mages in the Northern Kingdoms and regulates the magic they do along with getting them work. Most, though not all, of the mages in the Northern Kingdoms are members. They seem to be essentially a mage guild, thus overlapping with a Weird Trade Union. Given the power which court mages have, they also greatly control things behind the scenes in the Northern Kingdoms.
  • Magic Knight: In addition to Geralt using signs alongside his swords, this version of Yennefer wields swords. There's also Vilgefortz who's skilled in both magic and sword fighting.
  • The Magocracy: Unofficially, the Northern Kingdoms are basically controlled by the court mages who "advise" these lands' sovereigns, serving as the power behind their thrones.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Court mages like Yennefer and Fringilla essentially serve as this to muggle rulers, as they need them on their side, and can thus "advise" them toward directions they want by using their position (even aside from using magic).
  • Manchurian Agent: We see in the Battle of Sodden Hill Nilfgaard's mages have compelled Sabrina Glevissig and two muggle boys to act as their agents by placing worms in their ears which presumably control them (perhaps by affecting the brain somehow). They use the former to attack Yennefer, as the latter destroy the potion supply with a vial she gave them, which causes a huge explosion as well.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Stregobor, who manipulates Geralt into having to kill Renfri, then when Geralt refuses to let him at Renfri's body turns the town against him by claiming he took the law into his own hands and massacred people.
  • Mirror Character: Subverted in that when she first meets Geralt, Queen Calanthe sees in him a kindred spirit, assuming that they are both Blood Knights who would rather be slaughtering enemies than attending a party. However, she is almost immediately disabused of that notion. Then, from that moment until the end of the season one, the trope is played straight when their true commonality comes into play: They both deeply resent the idea of destiny controlling their actions and stubbornly refuse to play along, even when doing so would be the sensible thing to do.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal:
    • The mistreated dwarven servant of the Cintran family Ciri falls in with in the second episode brutally stabs his mistress to death. Overlaps with Disproportionate Retribution, since the worst we saw was him being slapped and forced to give up his shoes.
    • Queen Kallin of Aedirn also has this happen to her when she insults Yennefer, who teleports away without her, leaving her to her fate at the hands of an assassin.
  • Monster of the Week: Most of Geralt's episodes in the first season.
  • Mr. Exposition: Amusingly lampshaded by Jaskier early in the series.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Geralt himself is shirtless quite often for a series with only 8 episodes so far, though it is usually only when it makes sense in context, such as when he's taking a bath or in bed.
  • Ms. Fanservice: It's shown that people can cast magic while wearing clothes, but Yennefer does seem to have to lose hers a lot to cast stronger spells. Also she has multiple sex scenes, where she's naked or half-naked. Even with the special effects making her look unattractive in the beginning, it's obvious the makeup team was struggling to downplay the actress’s natural beauty.
  • Mutant Draft Board: Nilfgaard conscripts mages into their service.
  • Nepotism: Fringilla's uncle interferes in the affairs of the Brotherhood to get his own niece in a cushy posting in Aedirn, which would otherwise cause Yennefer to be sent to the (then) backwater Nilfgaard.
  • Never My Fault: Ostrit of Temeria constantly blames King Foltest for his own actions, which include cursing a little girl to be a monster for no reason other than a petty grudge against Foltest.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Yenn is somewhat taken aback that Geralt can walk directly through an orgy to meet her.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • Tissaia ultimately admits to Yennefer that she herself is someone consumed by her emotions and ideals, as well as frustrated by the limitations set on her by the Brotherhood. Where they differ, however, is that while Yennefer is the kind of person who will lash out and rebel (even at cost to herself), Tissaia seems to accept her lot in life but tries to maximize/work with what she has.
    • Renfri and Geralt are both mutants. To her, they are both monsters, created by men.
      Renfri: They created me, just as they created you! We're not so different!
  • Obligatory War Crime Scene: Nilfgaard makes no distinction between civilians and soldiers, shown in the first episode where they sack Cintra and kill anyone they come across, and in the second episode where they raid a refugee camp, killing not just the soldiers in it but many of the civilians too.
  • Oh, Crap!: Geralt a couple of times, but most especially when he realizes what his Law of Surprise reward is going to be.
  • Older Than They Look: Neither Geralt nor any of the wizards visibly age over the course of the first season, which spans many years. By the end of the first season, Yennefer says she's lived "several lifetimes" without her appearance changing.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: The slaughter of Cintra is retold in episode 7 with more context. We get to hear what Calanthe and Mousesack tell each other which we didn't hear the first time around and we also find out that Geralt was in Cintra all this time and how he and Ciri missed each other by mere seconds.
  • Only in It for the Money: When Triss asks if that's all there is to him — "monsters and money" — Geralt answers "It's all it needs to be." Despite these protests there are so many times where Geralt either refuses the job or gives up the reward for moral reasons that it quickly becomes apparent that he's not as firm on that line as he would like to be.
  • Parental Abandonment: Yennefer's stepfather sells her to Aretuza for the paltry sum of four marks. Geralt's mother is shown giving him to Vesemir in a flashback.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Mages in the series are shown to be capable of taking on many muggle soldiers together and can do magic causing explosions. They can still be overwhelmed by numbers though, especially when as seen in the Battle of Sodden Hill they go outside protection behind the castle walls to fight, rather than cast spells from behind it against attackers.
  • Physical Scars, Psychological Scars: Yennefer is given the chance to change anything about her appearance, however she insists that the scars of her attempted suicide stay on her wrists.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: While Geralt's plotlines generally follow the books very closely, any event involving Ciri adapted from the second book takes place after the fall of Cintra, including her time with the Dryads. Yennefer's backstory, always implied in the novels but never outright stated, are shown in full and thus beefing up her role in a portion of the series where she made only intermittent appearances.
  • Race Lift: Yennefer de Vengerberg is described as pale-skinned in the books. She is portrayed here by the half-Indian half-English Anya Chalotra. Triss Merigold, Istredd, Fringilla Vigo, and Vilgefortz Of Roggeveen are similarly played by actors of color.
  • Rape as Backstory: Renfri explains to Geralt that she wants revenge against Stregobor because he had her raped as well as robbed.
  • Rape by Proxy: Yennefer used magic to make a number of people in the town where she's living have an orgy, just for amusement.
  • Recessive Super Genes: Pavetta's grandmother also had her ability, but it skipped her mother.
  • Related Differently in the Adaptation: In Sword of Destiny, the gold dragon Villentretenmerth merely responded to a Distress Call from the green dragon Myrgtabrakke. In the series, he's the father of the deceased green dragon's egg.
  • Rescue Sex: After Geralt saves Yennefer from a spell gone wrong, they have Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Accidental example. Ostrit cast a curse on Foltest. The curse killed Adda, Foltest's sister/lover, and turned their unborn child into a striga.
  • Riches to Rags: Ciri goes from the princess of a kingdom to running for her life in the wilderness.
  • Reverse Grip: Geralt fights with his sword this way during his fight in Blaviken.
  • Scenery Gorn: The various shots of Cintra burning as Nilfgaard pillages it.
  • The Scream: Ciri does this multiple times over the course of the first episode, first in protest at her grandmother telling her to flee Cintra, then weaponizing it to escape from the Nilfgaardian that captures her.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After Ciri makes one too many foolish, naïve mistakes, Dara gets fed up with her and leaves.
  • Shirtless Scene: Geralt takes his shirt off a number of times, such as when bathing or lying in bed post coitus, showing off how jacked he is.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: At the end of episode 6 ("Rare Species"), a heartbroken Geralt lashes out at Jaskier and tells him, essentially, that he never wants to see Jaskier again. That's the last time Jaskier appears in season 1, and it's also the last "sidequest" episode; in episode 7 ("Before a Fall"), the timelines at last converge and shit starts to properly hit the fan.
  • Simultaneous Arcs: The different storylines don't start to intersect until episode 4, by that time revealing most of Geralt's story up to that point was before Ciri was even born (and Yennifer's started even further back). By episode 7 it starts revisiting the fall of Cintra (which is shown in episode 1) from Geralt's point of view, and episode 8 is when all the storylines become linear.
  • Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Tissaia to the students at Aretuza.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Waaaay on the cynical end. If there is someone who seems like a decent human being, they will likely become a ruthless opportunist when the chance presents itself, give in to fear and join mob mentality, or otherwise show an ugly side of themselves before the episode is over.
  • Spotting the Thread:
    • Dara realizes very quickly that Mousesack isn't quite what he seems, as he has some very pointed questions about the reason why Mousesack has come to get Ciri instead of Geralt coming himself.
    • Geralt deduces that the "Ciri" that Calanthe tries to pawn off on him is a Body Double when he sees her say goodbye to the real Ciri, who has disguised herself as a peasant in order to play knuckles.
  • Squishy Wizard: In practice, nearly all of the sorcerers (both of the Brotherhood and Nilfgaard) seen in Season 1 are treated as such. While individually they are potential one-man armies even by themselves (and the Brotherhood sorcerers defending Sodden Hill last against wave after wave of Nilfgaard Mooks), the moment that a) they run out of their "chaos"/magical capacity for the day or b) they are within striking distance of any conventional weapon (be it sword, arrow or mind-control parasites), they can be easily taken down in a Zerg Rush.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Ciri is shown more than once running off outside the castle dressed as a boy to play with commoner youths.
  • Take the Third Option: Geralt's favorite option. He's here to kill monsters, not get involved in politics or blood feuds. Even with lives on the line he'll either do what he thinks is right or he'll do nothing at all and won't be tricked or pushed into any other option.
    • He learns over the course of the series that his attempts to remain above the fray always end with him taking a side anyway, and decides to actively help people rather than attempt to remain uninvolved.
  • Tamer and Chaster: Geralt and Yennefer don't appear quite as libertine as in the books. Granted, that hardly makes either chaste.
  • A Tankard of Moose Urine: Yennefer notes that Nilfgaardian ale is utterly horrible.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: Yennefer has a facial deformity and hunchback initially, but she gets them removed with magic, at the cost of being left sterile.
  • Time Skip: Several years pass between different episodes. Yennefer explicitly states that three decades have passed between her leaving Aretusa and her leaving the service of Aedirn, then later states that she has lived several lifetimes.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Geralt eventually attaches Renfri's broch to the hilt of his steel sword.
  • Training from Hell: According to Geralt only three out of ten children trained to become Witchers make it. Part of this is due to their mutations going wrong.
  • Truer to the Text:
    • In the games, Geralt carried both his swords at once as part of the inventory system and to make switching between them less frustrating. In the series, like the books, Geralt only carries one sword on his back, typically leaving his silver sword on his horse.
    • Triss was a redhead in the games, but in the books she is described as having chestnut-colored hair. Anna Shaffer, though still a Race Lift, is closer to Triss' book description.
    • Geralt's medallion is an ordinary medallion with the symbol of a wolf on it like in the books. In the games, the medallion itself was shaped like a wolf's head.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Jaskier is one In-Universe, exaggerating Geralt's (and his own) adventures.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: Inverted Trope. Geralt is a professional Hunter of Monsters, but is always the single most open-minded person when it comes to the so-called monsters and the one most willing to Take a Third Option that doesn't involve killing them. All the more noticeable because almost everyone he encounters expects him to behave as if the trope was played straight and are variously shocked and annoyed because it isn't.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Ostrit, the one responsible for cursing Princess Adda and causing the trouble to begin with, is hailed as a hero for bravely sacrificing himself so the Striga could be cured. Sacrificed himself by being unwillingly tied up and left as bait by Geralt, to be exact.
  • Volcanic Veins: Yennefer's hands darken and start to heat as she's about to use her power.
  • Watching the Reflection Undress: Played with. Yennefer is about to undress for a bath and tells Geralt to turn around, only for Geralt's eyes to land on a conveniently-placed mirror... which Yennefer then tips over with magic.
    Geralt: That's cheating.
  • Wham Episode: After two episodes with just a couple odd discrepancies in the dialogue that can easily be missed as you struggle to get a handle on all the world-building, the third makes clear that the three main plot threads are happening in different timeframes.
  • The Wild Hunt: Mentioned by Mousesack as an omen of war in the first episode, predicting Nilfgaard's campaign against Cintra.
  • Wizards Live Longer: All the sorcerers in the series are shown to live for many decades without visibly aging. The presence of elderly mages indicates that they do age however, only at a vastly slower rate.
  • Wizarding School: Yennefer attends such a school, called Aretuza, under instruction from Tissaia along with many other young women who've been chosen to learn magic. We don't see much detail, though largely it seems to be a boarding school (albeit avoiding the common cliches). Its counterpart for boys, Ban Ard, is mentioned as the place where Istredd studies.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Practically every villain.
    • Stregobor murdered (and dissected) a score of young women born during an eclipse due to a bogus prophecy. Renfri was the sole survivor we know of.
    • Nilfgaard murders indiscriminately in their conquest.
    • The Mage College permanently transforms their failed acolytes, all of whom are young women, into non-sapient living batteries for their magic.
    • The Wizard Assassin chasing Queen Kallis and her daughter, who is ultimately successful in killing both his targets
    • Ostrit cursed Princess Adda I's baby, killing the princess in the process, because he was jealous of her lover
    • The Doppleganger has to be paid extra by Nilfgaard to bring Ciri in without killing her. They say they enjoy the screams of children the most.
    • The Dryads attack Dara when he tries to rescue Ciri from their spell. They also debate killing Ciri when they find out she's Calanthe's blood.
  • Written by the Winners: Humans like to pretend that the elves willingly gave them their lands, rather than that the humans violently betrayed them after the elves had the good grace to teach them magic.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Ciri thinks the peasant children are her friends. In reality they had no choice but to treat her as a friend because she was the queen's granddaughter. They sell her out the moment her rank no longer protects her.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Invoked with this quote:
    "You can't outrun destiny just because you're terrified of it. It's coming!"
    • Technically, you can fight Destiny, but you'll lose, and pay dearly for it. Both Geralt and Calanthe attempting to circumvent or ignore the Law of Surprise, thus "fighting Destiny" is implied to bring about Nilfgaard's success in sacking Cintra. And once Destiny has punished you for your arrogance, it'll make sure that "people bound by Destiny always find each other."
  • You Owe Me: The Law of Surprise is a critical plot device. It is an open-ended promise invoked when one saves another's life and the other cannot repay the kindness, claiming that the debt will be paid with "that which you have, but do not yet know." Some of the characters insist on following the law out of principle, others out of a belief that defying it invites Destiny's wrath.
  • You Shall Not Pass!:
    • Geralt, Yennefer, the Zerrikanian warriors Lea and Tea, and the gold dragon Villentretenmerth battle the other dragon hunters to protect Villentretenmerth's child.
    • Season 1 concludes with the Battle of Sodden Hill, where twenty-two mages (including Yennefer, Triss, Tissaia, and Vilgefortz) battle alongside a group of Cintran refugee volunteers to hold an abandoned elven fortress against the Nilfgaardians. The fortress guards a critical river crossing; holding it will give armies from Temeria and Kaedwen time to arrive and reinforce the crossing, thereby stymieing Nilfgaard's passage. (This battle was referenced several times in the original novels and video games, but never detailed.)
  • Your Head Asplode: Geralt's second wish from the Djinn causes this to happen to his jailer.


Video Example(s):


Ciri enters Brokilon Forest

The Vertigo Effect symbolizing the forest calling her.

How well does it match the trope?

4.57 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / VertigoEffect

Media sources:

Main / VertigoEffect