The Witcher was, by all accounts, poised to be Netflix’s answer to HBO’s Game of Thrones. The show was Netflix’s most-watched original series launch until the advent of Bridgerton and Squid Game. The streaming platform’s adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski’s book series about the life of one Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill) was released in December 2019. Renewed interest in The Witcher video game series was soon observed, causing sales of CD PROJEKT RED’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt to skyrocket by 554%. Fans of dark fantasy rejoiced, and long-time fans of Sapkowski’s The Witcher universe were buoyed by Cavill’s knowledge and appreciation of the series.
Understandably, Witcher fans were shook when news broke last month that Cavill himself was exiting the series. As it turns out, Cavill’s exit has been augured by a consistent mismatch between his desire for a more book-accurate Geralt and the showrunners’ vision of the show. Now that Liam Hemsworth will replace Cavill in season four, it seems likely that The Witcher will continue to diverge further away from the source material, a series of novels and short stories written by Andrzej Sapkowski.
OK, so what? Fidelity isn’t everything.
I agree! Even if The Witcher somehow achieved 100% source material fidelity, that doesn’t automatically translate into good pacing and a plot that makes sense on-screen. Take one of The Witcher universe’s most popular characters, for example, Yennefer of Vengerburg (Anya Chalotra). Although she is present from the first book in the series, she doesn’t appear in the video game series until The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
Netflix’s decision to include her from season one gave viewers the benefit of getting to know Yennefer from the start. Viewers witnessed her transformation from a “crooked girl” who has nothing, to a gifted sorceress who has her pulse on international politics. Contrast this to the first Witcher game, where everything you learn about Yennefer comes from Geralt’s hazy memory and a few scattered notes you may or may not find.
But even being portrayed by the phenomenal Anya Chalotra cannot fix the mess Netflix created when they suddenly decided to turn her into one of season two’s lesser villains.
In the vein of Witcher fans pushing for Henry Cavill to be replaced by David Mitchell or Larry David instead, let’s look at some characters who have yet to appear in the Netflix series and surmise what Netflix takes on them might look like.
1. Sheala de Tancarville (books) / Síle de Tansarville (video games)
Character summary: One of the mysterious Lodge of Sorceresses’ founding members, Sheala de Tancarville is first and foremost motivated by knowledge. She gave up being part of the influential Council of Wizards in the books because it interfered with her research. In The Witcher 2: Assassin Of Kings, Sheala is ready and willing to meddle in politics. In fact, she has plans for King Demavend. Unfortunately, these plans can only come to fruition with reagents that must be extracted from a deadly, many-tentacled creature called The Kayran. Aside from being very unfriendly and large, The Kayran also lives in a swamp populated by other unfriendly beings. Much easier to send Geralt in to do the job instead.
Netflix’s take: More likely than not, Netflix will convert Sheala into a power-hungry Badass Bookworm who gives Geralt useful directions or advice before dying. It’s also possible that his tumultuous relationship with Yennefer means that he could turn to Sheala for help in matters of magic instead.
2. Emiel Regis Rohellec Terzieff-Godefroy
Character summary: A fan favorite, Regis is a roving doctor who also happens to be a noble vampire who has chosen to abstain from human blood. Appearance-wise, Regis looks like an older guy with flyaway hair and mutton chops. He always smells like pungent herbs, which he habitually carries around to mask his undead scent from animals. These herbs form part of his arsenal for healing the sick during his travels. And there are plenty of people who are unwell during wartime. Basically, Regis is Doctors Without Borders with vampire magic. Like Geralt, he’s a fundamentally good guy in a rotten world. They have a lot of respect for each other and are old buddies.
Netflix’s take: Much like how Netflix made Djikstra (Graham McTavish) beautiful, Netflix will also find some way to make everyone thirsty for Regis.
Even though the jury is out on whether Netflix will make him sparkle, I won’t be too surprised if he’s introduced to us while reclining shirtless on a gravestone while sipping on his own home-brewed moonshine. Picture Timothée Chalamet with old man makeup, in tight leather pants in lieu of shapeless robes.
3. Milva, aka Maria Barring
Character summary: An extremely gifted archer, who is allied with the dryads of Brokilon Forest, Milva doesn’t start out being Geralt’s biggest fan. But traveling together in dangerous times means relying on each other, which tends to make you develop strong bonds with everyone involved. Sapkowski’s description of her travels with Geralt and friends in Baptism of Fire function like the dark fantasy version of a road trip story, character studies that also expand on the living and changing political landscape surrounding them.
Netflix’s take: Step aside, Jennifer Lawrence. Millie Bobby Brown will be in the next action movie it girl. This will be her Mystique, and Katniss moment rolled into one. Never mind that she’s too young for the role.
4. The Crones (Witcher 3 Only)
Character summary: Modeled after Baba Yaga of Slavic folklore, the Crones only appear in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and do not make an appearance in any of the books. They hold immense sway over Velen, especially villages in Crookback Bog, where sacrifices are routinely offered to them. Unlike their portrait, which depicts them as looking like regular ladies, the crones’ actual physical manifestations are pretty horrific. They are also referred to as The Good Ladies or The Ladies of The Wood.
Netflix’s take: At least three whole episodes will be centered on The Crones and their dominion over small villages all over the bog. There will also be a musical episode featuring a specially written song and dance number performed by The Crones themselves. Much like how Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Once More With Feeling became one of the definitive episodes of the late 90s and early aughts TV, The Witcher’s musical episode will become the musical episode of these roaring twenties. Moulin Rouge’s Lady Marmalade has nothing on this.
5. Letho of Gulet (Witcher 2 and 3 only)
Character summary: Big brawny Letho is kind of a softie. That’s why even though he’s technically the big bad in The Witcher 2: Assassin Of Kings, you don’t actually have to fight him.
Netflix’s take: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will star as Letho to promote Netflix’s latest The Witcher spin-off, wherein the vein of Squid Game: The Challenge, various actors will have to compete against each other for the ultimate prize: getting to play the leading man. After all, it’s The Witcher, not The Geralt or The Letho. Dwayne Johnson’s fanbase is larger than both Henry Cavill’s and Liam Hemsworth’s, anyway.
6. Ronvid of the Small Marsh (Witcher 3 only)
Character summary: A persistent man who insists on trying to defeat Geralt in order to prove Maid Bilberry’s honor. Wherever Geralt goes, he follows. Ronvid’s dogged determination rivals that of The Adoring Fan from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
Netflix’s take: Liam Hemsworth became depressed after hearing that he was picked for the role because Henry Cavill is too pretty to be Geralt. As a result, the role of Ronvid will be written into the Netflix series and rewritten to resemble that of The Adoring Fan’s.
7. The Kayran (Witcher 2 only)
Character summary: Big angry creature who is not good for tourism or peace and stability of any kind. Impervious to poisons and bleeding to death. Certified, lol, no by the military. Approach with extreme caution.
Netflix’s take: The Kayran is just lonely. Or possibly pregnant and feeling defensive of its many-tentacled babies. Anyway, Geralt will become friends with it, and Netflix will market the latest season of The Witcher with kayran face filters on Instagram.