You’ve probably heard of Netflix’s The Witcher, which debuted its first season in December 2019. Like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and the first two games, this TV show is based on the series of Witcher fantasy books written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski.
As a result, the two have plenty of similarities, as well as some differences. So, how does The Witcher show compare to the Witcher 3 game in terms of story, characters, and other elements? Let’s take a detailed look.
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Arguably the biggest difference between The Witcher TV show and Witcher 3 is the storyline.
The show is largely based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s “The Last Wish” and “Sword of Destiny” short story collections, which are the first two books of the 8-part Witcher series. It starts out by telling us the origin stories of Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri before following their combined adventures.
On the other hand, the game takes place several years after the events of the books. In that sense, Witcher 3 is not canon or based on any specific Witcher book, but rather borrows the novels’ established characters and themes to tell its own story.
The best example of this is the Wild Hunt — in the books they’re not a major element, but in Witcher 3, they’re central to the story.
The timeline of the show also differs from Witcher 3. The TV show has a fairly confusing timeline because it tells the stories of three separate characters occurring at different times: Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri.
On the other hand, the timeline of the Witcher 3 game is fairly straightforward with a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Netflix’s The Witcher and the game also differ in their characters. Although the core roster is the same, their portrayal has some notable variations.
Geralt has a similar appearance in both The Witcher show (played by Henry Cavill) and Witcher 3. He’s handsome, muscular (although Cavill certainly more so) has long, gray hair, and pale skin. Both also sport the characteristic wolf medallion.
The Witcher 3 Geralt is certainly older because he is at the end of his witching career, whereas Henry Cavill is just starting his. That also explains why the show’s Geralt lacks the beard and the scars of his game iteration. On the whole, however, they look quite similar.
As for their personalities, there are also more similarities than differences. They both have a deep voice and a brooding demeanor, even if Witcher 3’s Geralt is more funny and sarcastic whereas Cavill’s is more of a stoic figure of few words.
Both are also masters of sword fighting as any witcher should be. Both the show and game Geralt also use the witchers’ signature magic sign abilities, although the show version lacks the Igni and Quen signs (so far).
The Silver Sword
Another interesting difference is Geralt’s iconic, monster-slaying silver sword.
Geralt carries both his regular steel and silver swords directly on his back in Witcher 3. Although he also has both swords in the show and is seen carrying them together in a special bag several times, the show Geralt only uses one sword at a time.
In that sense, Netflix’s show is closer to the books than the games, where Geralt is said to typically leave the silver sword with his horse for an obvious reason: mobility.
The sorceress Triss Merigold is a key character in both the show and Witcher 3. However, whereas in the game she has a romance with Geralt and can be seen by his side throughout not only the third but also the previous two Witcher games, none of that is present in the Netflix show.
Aside from that, she also looks very different: the game Triss is younger and has red hair, whereas the TV show Triss is older and has brown hair. The show Triss also seems like a more responsible person rather than someone out for fun and excitement.
Yennefer is a powerful, beautiful sorceress with raven hair who is Geralt’s main romantic interest in the books. She retains that role in The Witcher TV show.
In the game, however, Yennefer has to vie for Geralt’s affection with Triss in the Yennefer-Geralt-Triss love triangle. Another difference is that we learn about Yennefer’s backstory in the show, whereas those details are not really discussed in Witcher 3.
But outside of that, she does have a similar physical appearance and feisty character both in the TV show and game.
Dandelion (or Jaskier as he is known in the show) is the bard who plays the role of Geralt’s close friend in both the TV show and in Witcher 3 (and previous games). In both cases, he is flamboyant and funny, although he does have more appearances in the show.
Another notable point of difference is the characterization of the Nilfgaardian Empire. Although the show is mostly faithful to the books, it does portray Nilfgaard as the bad guys, especially when compared to the game.
There are also some differences in the world. While we do see and hear a lot of the same concepts (such as the fearsome Nilfgaardian Empire), the show’s world is more grounded in reality.
For example, there are far fewer monsters, whereas in Witcher 3 it seems like you can’t go two feet without running into some sort of otherworldly creature. In that sense, the show is more of a representation of Medieval Europe than a fantasy setting.
Another area of comparison between Netflix’s The Witcher and Witcher 3 is the nudity. Both feature multiple intimate scenes, most notably between Geralt and Yennefer.
Having said that, Geralt certainly gets luckier in the game. For one, he has additional romance options, including Triss, Keira Metz, Shani, Madame Sasha, and others. Geralt also has the option of visiting brothels to spend his hard-earned gold.
Netflix’s The Witcher vs. Witcher 3: More Alike than Different
Ultimately, Netflix’s The Witcher and Witcher 3 are more alike than different because they’re based on the same source material. They have the same central characters and dark, gritty, Medieval setting.
Having said that, there are enough differences to make it fun for someone who has only watched the show or played the game to venture into the other one.
It will also be interesting to see how the storyline progresses in the second season, which is slated for a late 2021 release. Will it be faithful to the books? How will new characters, such as Vesemir, compare to their in-game counterparts? Let’s wait and see.