The Witcher has all the makings of an epic saga of a TV show when it releases on Netflix, although it won't be Game of Thrones 2.0 or a rehashing of Lord of the Rings. Based on Andrzej Sapkowski's series of novels and short stories about the monster-hunting witcher Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), the sorceress Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), and the princess-on-the-run Ciri (Freya Allan), The Witcher has enough source material to last for many years. Showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich weighed in on how long The Witcher could last on Netflix.
Speaking with CinemaBlend about all things Witcher, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich shared her thoughts on the future of the series:
It's funny, because I said in an interview that I could write seven seasons. I also said I'm sure later that day I could write twenty seasons if given the opportunity. I could keep writing the show for a very long time. As long as people are interested in it and as long the source material is there to organically build from.
Yes, The Witcher could run up to or potentially even beyond seven seasons, which would mean more seasons than books of Andrzej Sapkowski's Witcher saga, which itself is technically comprised of five novels and two books of short stories. That said, there's no reason to expect that each season of The Witcher will cover one book cover to cover, and all signs point toward the first season drawing heavily on the short stories rather than diving right into the first novel.
Of course, not many Netflix series run for seven seasons, let alone many more beyond that, but The Witcher is unlike anything that the streaming giant has produced before. Thanks to the facts that there is plenty of source material, the saga itself is finished on the page, and Lauren Schmidt Hissrich is well-versed in the lore, this could be the kind of fantasy series that genre fans have been waiting for.
Given that the first season is focusing on short story lore to start and giving Yennefer and Ciri focus as well as The Witcher's central witcher, I asked Lauren Schmidt Hissrich if the first season will be more or less standalone to build the world and characters. She said this:
To get to the heart of your question, no, this season is not standalone. This season of course carries a lot of weight because you're setting up the entire world. You need to set up all of the characters, you need to set up the politics, you need to start to understand what a witcher is and what they do and how that's changing in the dynamics of the world. The first season carries a lot of weight, but there's a lot of things that we did this season to set up events that we know we want to happen in Season 2 and beyond.
Season 1 won't just be comprised of standalone episodes setting up the world of The Witcher with stories unconnected to the larger saga, even if it does tackle short stories rather than the full first novel. Viewers shouldn't expect just eight episodes of world-building, with the meat of The Witcher being held for Season 2, which has already been ordered.
If anything, viewers should probably keep their eyes peeled for significant plot points that could come back later. According to Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, not even readers who know the short story compilations and novels from front to back will be able to 100% predict what's in store with certain twists:
A lot of times there are changes that we made in the lore or in the original material in order to do that. It's funny, what I will tell people is, you come across in Episode 3, there's a character that's introduced that wasn't part of that story in the books. That's done for a very particular reason. You may not know it in that episode, but we're planting all of the future seeds that we need to tell stories in later seasons.
The Witcher is already playing the long game, even if there's no guarantee of just how many seasons Lauren Schmidt Hissrich will pen for Netflix. This show is already avoiding one of the key problems that plagued Game of Thrones, a.k.a. the biggest fantasy series produced for TV to this point, in its later years, and that bodes well for the series as a whole.
So, what's in store for the characters on The Witcher? Henry Cavill, who campaigned for the role of Geralt of Rivia and even did his own stunts for the series, undoubtedly knew a lot about his character before signing on for the series to play the TV adaptation of Geralt, but the cast doesn't necessarily know what Lauren Schmidt Hissrich and the rest of the production team has in mind for their characters in the long run.
Freya Allan, who plays Ciri and also spoke with CinemaBlend about The Witcher, shared how much she knows about what's in store for her character moving forward:
Literally barely anything. We don't get told anything. We've got the book and I think everyone knows where Ciri and Yennefer's story is gonna go, but no we don't really know in terms of this series. Anything could happen.
The cast can dive into the same source material as everybody else when it comes to The Witcher, but they may not be privy to much about the show and their roles in the long run. If The Witcher goes the way of Outlander at all, then there may be small departures early on that mean key differences much later on. Fortunately, the wait for The Witcher Season 1 is almost at an end.
Netflix saved one of what could be its best for almost last in 2019, as The Witcher Season 1 releases on Friday, December 20 at 12:01 a.m. PT. Viewers will then be in for a bit of a wait before Season 2 goes live on the streamer, but Netflix has enough offerings in 2020 to keep subscribers busy. If streaming isn't always your style, our 2020 winter and spring premiere schedule can show you some other options for the small screen in the new year.