Yesterday, Netflix announced that The Witcher had 76 million accounts “choose to watch” the show in its earnings call. That is a bit of a nonsense metric, as it just means that 76 million accounts watched at least 2 minutes of The Witcher, and yet it doesn’t change the fact that yes, the show is a huge hit and Netflix says that it’s on the way to being its biggest season 1 debut in history, odd metrics aside.
Later, that led Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to comment specifically on the success of The Witcher:
It’s “a massive new franchise that will develop season after season,” he said.
Obviously, The Witcher season 2 is a given. It was greenlit before season 1 ever aired. That may have less to do with the quality, and more of “well, we invested a massive amount of money into the cast, crew, sets and costumes, so we need at least two seasons out of it.” We’ve seen something similar where Amazon has already greenlit two seasons of its Lord of the Rings show that I don’t believe has even started filming yet.
But two seasons? Two seasons is nothing, and even Netflix, known for often killing shows after a few seasons because they don’t subscriber growth, seems likely to keep The Witcher around for a very, very long while, as it attempts to make it its own Game of Thrones equivalent in terms of hyping up a new entry in the series every year (albeit binged over a weekend rather spread over two months).
What does that mean in practice? There is a colossal amount of source material for The Witcher to draw on. Showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich has indicated that the show will end when the books end, and unlike George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, all these books are already written by author Andrzej Sapkowski with the final installment released in 2013.
Season 1 of The Witcher covered parts of two books, mainly The Last Wish and Blood of Elves. The Witcher books are two separate collections. There’s The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny, which are loosely linked short stories (Geralt and the Striga, Geralt and the Dragon, etc.), while Blood of Elves kicks off the five book “Witcher saga” which is the main Ciri storyline as Geralt protects her and we learn her significance in the overall universe.
Five major books would indicate at least five seasons of The Witcher, though perhaps that could be stretched to 6 or 7 depending on how things go. I have faith that Netflix is going to see The Witcher through until the end, and I have a hunch that at least for the next few seasons, we should see viewership grow as people catch up and reach seasons that will be easier to follow (no more hugely split-up timelines).
Of course, finishing the books wouldn’t have to be the end of The Witcher.
There are also the video games. CD Projekt Red made a trilogy of Witcher video games and some large DLCs based on the original books that are almost impossible to quantify as potential seasons of the show. Let me reiterate that Hissrich has been very clear about wanting to adapt the books, not the games, and has not given any indication she wants to continue on with the game storylines after the books are done. But I’m just saying the material is there if suddenly the cast and crew and Netflix want The Witcher to run for 8, 9, 10+ seasons, longer than Netflix has even been around at this point.
I would not put money on this. Again, for the stated reasons, but also that the games would be much more difficult to adapt than the books. The storylines are good, of course, there’s a reason the games are so beloved. But you could have an entire season devoted to say, just the Bloody Baron questline in The Witcher 3 alone, so it’s hard to know how this would be structured across three massive games and two large DLCs. But could you get a half dozen more seasons out of the series with that as a base? I would certainly think so.
But I would not bank on The Witcher continuing on past the books. I think Hissrich and company want to end the series the way Sapkowski ends the series, and there’s really no reason to think past 5-6 seasons for a complete sage. It’s possible, sure, but not likely. But we’ll see what the future holds.