Missing Details in the Witcher Series from the Game
Henry Cavill proved all the doubters wrong when he not only portrayed an incredibly convincing Geralt of Rivia but also turned out to be an authentic part of the gaming community. The original game proved to be one of the most iconic releases on all platforms, and so we wanted to check out what was taken out of the Witcher's gaming adaptation and sent right to the series, and what wasn't.
Why did they cast Anya Chalotra instead of Eva Green? What happened to Jaskier’s hat and Triss’ red hair? And how come the Witcher’s distinctive beard and two sword combo didn’t make the leap from the games to TV? So, let’s begin with one of our favorites...
JASKIER AKA DANDELION.
Just in case some of you missed it - Jaskier’s character was called Dandelion in the games. Yes, really. And the reason for the difference is down to an issue with the translation. Translated directly from Polish, the word “jaskier” actually means “buttercup”. According to the botanists over at CD Projekt Red, they didn’t feel this flower was a good fit for the bard’s personality. In their opinion, a “dandelion” better encapsulated who the bard really is, which is why they changed the name. Anyway!
What’s Dandelion like as a game character? He’s a loyal friend of Geralt; always optimistic about everything, and, much like many other characters from the Witcher, a serial womanizer. Despite the fact that he can be selfish sometimes, Dandelion is truly one of the most empathetic and reliable guys in the whole of Sapkowski’s universe. And, hey! He even risked his life in order to save Ciri! So what about Netflix’s “Dandelion”? What about Jaskier?
Some of you may remember that the casting of Joey Batey was a HUGE worry for Witcher fans. People were concerned about one of their favorite characters and there were plenty who complained prematurely about Netflix’s choice. BUT as soon as Joey Batey’s Jaskier appeared on our screen, it was obvious that he had nailed the character. Loud, eccentric, funny and rakish, Joey Batey found his own style of recreating the character of Jaskier. Though there ARE several differences between Dandelion from Wild Hunt and Netflix Jaskier...Slight differences, we would say.
Number one - and the obvious one - Jaskier has NO HAT in the series! Why? Showrunner Lauren Hissrich answered that one clearly:
“Ah, yes, the hat! It was made, we tried it on Joey, and we couldn't stop laughing. Will we try again? Sure. Nothing is impossible.”
So there’s still hope that the hat will turn up for season 2, right? The second difference is regarding Jaskier’s temper...Which is less obvious and kind of a... subjective thing, you could say. We think that Dandelion is a little bit funky and foolish, while Jaskier is a bit more boorish by comparison…
Yep, those kinds of jokes are FAR more typical of Netflix’s Jaskier than Dandelion. Still, what’s important is that the main spirit of the iconic bard has remained the same across BOTH the games and the series. Which isn’t something that can be said of some of the other characters on our list...but more on that later. Moving on!
YENNEFER OF VENGERBERG
First of all, Yennefer only turns up in the Wild Hunt. For some reason, the game developers decided to change her appearance from how Andrjey Sapkowsky envisioned the sorceress in his books. While we would say that Yennefer’s character is a bit closer to the version we see in the Wild Hunt, Netflix actually seems to have blended both the books and games.
Owing to the massive popularity of the Wild Hunt, Yennefer’s look from the games is instantly recognizable and you might have expected Eva Green would be hired to play her. Or perhaps Jessica Chastain… However, the showrunners decided instead to hire a British actress of Indian descent.
This choice might seem odd at first, considering how the game’s Yennefer is tall, pale and has very sharp features, which isn’t something that could be said about Chalotra. The only obvious similarity would be the voices of both Anya Chalotra and Denise Gough in that they both sound distinctly British. So why did the showrunners take a chance on the aspiring and as yet unproven actress Anya Chalotra?
The answer is in the complexity of the role of the sorceress, coupled with the desire of the showrunners to hire as many new faces as possible. Taking this into account, Netflix understood that they should look for a strong and talented actress first of all, before considering her looks. And without a shadow of a doubt, Anya Chalotra provided some of the best acting on the whole show.
Pay attention to every scene she appears in and you’ll notice that Chalotra gives the series a truly cinematic level of acting, elevating the general level of performance on the show as a whole. And don’t get me wrong, all the other actors are GREAT but while watching the Witcher you can always kind of tell that this is a TV show and not a MOVIE. Anya Chalotra’s performance truly transcends the medium, though, giving the character of Yennefer gravitas and weight.
Talking about Yennefer in terms of character development, the game and the series approached this VERY differently. In the Wild Hunt, Yennefer and Geralt are bound together by the wish, which is why they hunt a djinn who made them fall in love. After finishing the game’s quest, as the Witcher, you have an option: to continue your relationship with Yennefer or... to unceremoniously dump her.
That’s probably about as much complexity as the Wild Hunt offers about the relationship between the sorceress and the witcher. The same can’t be said about the Netflix series, however. It’s obvious that the Geralt of the show already has serious feelings for Yennefer, much as she does. And you can see that they both mean something to each other; the djinn wasn’t the primary reason but rather amplifies their pre-existing feelings to some degree. Now let’s move to another female character...
Triss was a minor character in the books and most probably only turned up in the TV series because her role was largely expanded in the games as, unlike Yennefer, Triss actually appeared in all three Witcher games. And everything you know about Triss’ looks probably comes from the games, too. Ginger hair, pale skin, green eyes all give her that iconic look. However, none of those are present in the Netflix series.
And the same goes for her VERY close relationship with Geralt. For those of you who haven’t played any of the Witcher games, it may shock you to find out that Triss Merigold is actually Geralt’s lover and a close friend from the very beginning. She’s like a trademark of all the games! Owing to this, Anna Shaffer is likely considered to be the most miscast actress in the whole series and even though she did a great job on the show this has caused some serious indignation from the fans. Which is pretty unfair, if you think about it, so don’t be too hard on Anna Shaffer. She’s just doing her job!
Meanwhile, some of the fans of the books may not be so comfortable with the idea of Triss becoming a major character in the games and could argue that it wasn’t appropriate for CD Project Red to make so many changes to Triss as a character. But... at the end of the day, it’s all about entertainment and developing a memorable character, right?
And - hey! - don’t forget that the books, games, and series are forging their own paths using Sapkowski’s universe as a guide. What works for one medium doesn’t always work in another, and each adaptation is right to bring something new to the table. And before we get to the main character of the series, we couldn’t forget about his adopted daughter...
Ciri is probably the character with the most similarities between both the games and series. Freya Allan seems to be a perfect match for the description of the character from Sapkowski’s books as well as the videogames: a slender girl who is known to be a bad-ass with ashen-grey hair, green eyes, pale skin!
But... when it comes to talking about Ciri as a bad-ass, this only extends as far as the games. In the series, Ciri didn’t yet get the chance to get more deeply involved in all the adventures and tragedies that will make her brazen and dangerous. She also hasn’t received her distinctive facial scar... yet. Some critics said that Ciri is the most sheltered and undeveloped character in the Netflix show and that she was expected to have a much bigger role.
We don't agree though - it's only the first season after all! They can’t perfectly build-up a bunch of complicated characters in only 8 episodes! Give Netflix more time and we're pretty sure we’ll all be richly rewarded.
GERALT OF RIVIA
Firstly, let’s talk about the visual differences between the games and Cavill’s Witcher: about Geralt’s beard, eyes, and swords. The most obvious one is the beard. We see it in the Wild Hunt but for some reason, it’s absent from the entire Netflix series. Admit it, the Witcher’s look almost feels like it’s set in stone after the last game came out!
Of course, you could always shave Geralt’s beard if you didn’t like it, though you would need to go to a barber and it will eventually grow back sometime after that… So whether you want it or not - the beard will always win! So the question is: why doesn’t Henry Cavill have his own facial hair in the series?
Well, this decision was most likely made in order to match references to the novels. Because in the books... Geralt didn’t have a beard either, right? Or maybe a beard just simply doesn’t suit Henry Cavill? I doubt it. The same goes for the Witcher’s famous golden cat eyes, that we only saw in the games. But this detail would probably be too distracting for a TV character. Having to follow the main character with yellow eyes for 8 hours at a time might have gotten pretty weird, we’ll admit.
Another obvious difference that comes to mind is Gerald’s swords...Remember how Geralt looks in the games? He has two swords strapped across his back in the games... but for some reason, the series chooses to have only one. This seemingly minor change sparked a surprising amount of angry comments on the internet before the show was even released. Later it was revealed that the second sword is carried by the Witcher’s horse Roach, which kind of mitigated the situation a little but still...Some feel that the iconic look of Geralt from the games was harmed by this change.
But isn’t it to be expected that movies and TV series will change how they adapt the sources they use? Especially if the true “original” source is the books, where Geralt didn’t have that beard OR those two swords behind his back. Well… what do you think? Should Netflix have stuck to using the game as the primary source for their adaptation…or remained truer to the books? You decide for yourself!
What about Geralt's character development? Was he developed as meticulously and with the same complexity as in the games? We’d have to say that, yes, he definitely was. And Henry Cavill had a big role in that character development. Especially when it comes to working on that famous deep and husky voice. So let’s give credit to both Henry Cavill and Doug Cockle who did a terrific job creating those super recognizable iconic voices, and let’s toss a coin to the talented actors by re-watching, re-playing and re-reading the series, the games, and the books...