The Witcher's Complicated Season 1 Timeline, Explained (2023)

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The Witcher's Complicated Season 1 Timeline, Explained (1)
Tim Surette

The Witcherreturns for Season 2 on Dec. 17 and that may have you in the mood for a Season 1 rewatch or trying to scramble together what happened before diving into the new season (the latter crowd clearly loves chaos, and we respect that). Whether you are rewatching or diving in, Season 1 may have you scratching your head when trying to figure out how those timelines overlap — after you discover in Episode 3 that there are different timelines in the first place. The major clue is a painting depicting a pair of nobles who are long dead, and in the next scene, the children from the painting are shown to be very much alive in a storyline that we previously thought was happening concurrently with the first. Whaaaaa?

Within episodes, the Netflix series not only bounces around between the stories of Geralt (Henry Cavill), Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), and Ciri (Freya Allan), it also bounces around points on the timeline that span decades. But because there are rarely any cues that it is doing so, and because Geralt and Yennefer don't age like normal humans, it's virtually impossible to tell when the heck things are happening. The jury's out on whether that's a bug or a feature of The Witcher, but we can all agree on one thing: It's confusing, especially for those of us who haven't read the books.

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Below, we untangle the timelines as best we can, focusing on the events that happen in the show so you can easily identify when the scenes you're watching take place relative to scenes from the rest of the season. The Witcher doesn't reference numerical dates (you can check out The Witcher books' wiki if you need numbers), so we're putting the events in the order of when they happened, and because individual character's stories in episodes are the best signifiers of time (and because the show prefers to compartmentalize the stories of Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri), we've indicated whose story within each episode the event takes place in.

The Witcher's Complicated Season 1 Timeline, Explained (2)

Let's untangle the timeline! Note: This is our best attempt at it; there are some instances where things are happening concurrently, and some parts of the story happen with little to no reference points. We placed them where we thought they fit best.

(Video) The Witcher Season 1 and Timeline Explained


- Yennefer is taken to the magic academy Aretuza as a teen by Tissaia de Vries and begins her trials to become a sorceress. She also begins her relationship with Istredd, and tells him she is quarter-elf. (Episode 2, Yennefer)

- After years of studying at Aretuza, Yennefer sacrifices her uterus to transform herself and goes to Aedirn's court. Meanwhile, King Dagorad bans mages from Cintra shortly before his death. Nilfgaard is in shambles under King Fergus' rule, and Foltest and Adda are still young children. (Episode 3, Yennefer)

- Queen Calanthe takes the Cintran throne while just a teenager and wins her first battle. Geralt becomes the Butcher of Blaviken shortly after Calanthe's victory. (Episode 1, Geralt)

- Foltest's sister Adda dies while she's pregnant and cursed, causing her unborn daughter to become a striga. (Mentioned in Episode 3)

- Approximately 30 years after Yennefer's transformation, she is unable to save the Queen of Aedirn's infant daughter from assassination — by that dark mage and that bug thingy —and leaves court. (Episode 4, Yennefer)

- Geralt meets Jaskier in a tavern and Geralt is hired to kill a "devil" that's stealing a local's food. Geralt and Jaskier are taken captive by elves (and Jaskier's lute is destroyed!), but they're ultimately freed by their captors, Torque, Filavandreal, and Toruviel. (Episode 2, Geralt)

- Hey look! It's Triss Merigold! She's working with King Foltest, who we see earlier as a child in Yennefer's story in the same episode. Geralt cures the striga. (Episode 3, Geralt)

- Duny and Pavetta, Ciri's parents, wed after secretly dating, despite Calanthe's initial protests. Calanthe and Eist also wed. After saving Duny's life, Geralt invokes the Law of Surprise, unwittingly claiming Pavetta's unborn daughter Ciri. (Episode 4, Geralt)

- Yennefer and Geralt meet (months or years after the betrothal feast) while encountering a djinn. Then they totally do it for the first, but definitely not the last, time. (Episode 5, Geralt and Yennefer)

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- Ciri's parents Pavetta and Duny die at some point; the claim is their ship is lost at sea. (Spoken of in the series on multiple occasions)

- Yennefer and Geralt happen upon each other when they each try to solve the problem of a green dragon. They have sex again! (Episode 6, Geralt and Yennefer)

- Twelve years after Pavetta's banquet, Geralt heads to Cintra to check in on his Child of Surprise. Geralt finds out it's a girl. Geralt is told Pavetta and Duny are dead. (Episode 7, Geralt)

- After coming upon Istredd in Nazair and meeting Vilgefortz, Yennefer returns to Aretruza while Nilfgaard plans to attack Cintra. (Episode 7, Yennefer)

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- Cintra is falling to Nilfgaardian forces. Geralt is present at Cintra, but imprisoned in a cell by Queen Calanthe. When Mousesack convinces her that Ciri's only chance of survival may be to fulfill her destiny, Calanthe calls for Geralt to be released and protect Ciri, but he's already escaped on his own. Calanthe sends Ciri, now the heir to the throne, off to find Geralt. A gravely injured Calanthe chooses suicide by self-defenestration rather than subject herself to the Nilfgaardian forces. (Episode 1, Ciri; Episode 7, Geralt)

- Ciri goes on the run and meets Dara. The Cintran refugee camp is attacked by Nilfgaard. (Episode 2, Ciri)

- Ciri goes to Brokilon with Dara. (Episode 4, Ciri)

- Ciri and Dara leave Brokilon with the Doppler masquerading as Mousesack. (Episode 5, Ciri)

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- Ciri discovers the Doppler is pretending to be Mousesack, and runs. The Doppler fights Cahir. (Episode 6, Ciri)

- Ciri, still on the run, encounters Anton and others, who try to rob her. Ciri goes into a trance and makes a whole mess out of Anton and his friends (and one poor horse), while spouting out some prophetical nonsense. (OR IS IT NONSENSE?!?) (Episode 7, Ciri)

- The Battle of Sodden Hill begins with the Brotherhood of Sorcerers holding an old keep against advancing Nilfgaardian forces. It is brutal! (Episode 8, Yennefer)

- Ciri wakes up to see the devastation around her, not knowing how it happened. She's taken in by the same woman who tried to help her a few episodes prior. Ciri sees the Nilfgaard mages' fireballs shooting across the sky at the Battle of Sodden Hill. (Episode 8, Ciri)

- Geralt is attacked by some gross-looking undead monsters and is bitten. A man whose life he saved takes Geralt in to help him. (Episode 8, Geralt)

- At the behest of Tissaia, Yennefer opens up a can of chaotic whoop-ass on the Nilfgaardian forces and ends the Battle of Sodden Hill. Yennefer vanishes. (Episode 8, Yennefer)

- Ciri secretly leaves the woman's care; we find out the woman is the wife of the man who is caring for Geralt. Geralt and Ciri finally meet, phew. Ciri asks Geralt, "Who is Yennefer?" after getting a peep of her through Geralt's dreams. DESTINY SEALED. (Episode 8, Geralt; Episode 8, Ciri)

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(Video) The Entire Witcher Story Explained
The Witcher's Complicated Season 1 Timeline, Explained (3)
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The Witcher's Complicated Season 1 Timeline, Explained? ›

The easiest way to think of The Witcher's story, in the first season, is as a series of flashbacks. The “present” time is always Ciri's storyline, which begins just before the invasion of Cintra by Nilfgaard. Geralt of Rivia's stories, which take place in the fairly recent past, all lead up to his meeting with Ciri.

Is season 1 of The Witcher on different timelines? ›

In Season 1 of The Witcher alone, three separate (and massively impactful) timelines introduce us to heroes Geralt (Henry Cavill), Cirilla (Freya Allan) and Yennefer (Anya Chalotra).

Why is the timeline so confusing in The Witcher? ›

In case the Witcher timelines have you confused, the main thing to remember is that we're following three characters: Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra), and Princess Cirilla or Ciri (Freya Allan), and the actions of each character are happening at different times—not all at once.

What is the actual timeline of The Witcher? ›

While most of the story of the TV series the Witcher takes place across just a few years, the first season actually hops around within a sixty year period that begins chronologically with the story of Yennefer of Vengeberg, the physically-contorted daughter of a pig farmer who becomes a powerful sorceress, and ends ...

What is happening in the Witcher Season 1? ›

The Nilfgaardians slaughter countless people in Cintra, but one Nilfgaardian in particular — Cahir, a young commander — is determined to capture Ciri, who remains on the move, dodging danger for the majority of the season.

Why is Henry Cavill no longer The Witcher? ›

A more popular theory is that Cavill voluntarily left The Witcher because he was frustrated with how Hissrich and her writing team were adapting The Witcher books by Andrzej Sapkowski.

Why is The Witcher season 1 out of order? ›

The show isn't in chronological order. You'll see people that die in the first episode multiple times. Some episodes feature the same characters at different ages. Because the main characters don't age, this makes the timeline harder to determine and the show does nothing to make it easy on the audience.

Why does no one age in The Witcher? ›

In Netflix's The Witcher, most of the major characters we follow have magical augmentations and other mutations that prevent them from aging.

Are The Witcher and Ciri in the same timeline? ›

The first season of The Witcher centers on each of those three characters over a different length of time. According to showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, Geralt's story spans about 20 years, Yennefer's story spans about 70 years, and Ciri's story spans about two weeks.

Is Yennefer older than Geralt? ›

But in the “present day,” Yennefer is 71 on the show. In book/video game lore, however, she mentions being 94 and is usually considered to be a few years older than Geralt. Yennefer's timeline as we watch it develop on the show is the oldest one, beginning at the earliest date.

Is there two timelines in The Witcher? ›

People have been saying that there are three, but there are actually four distinct time periods you need to juggle throughout the first season. The first two timelines take place over several decades. The second timeline is over a decade long.

Why is The Witcher so hard to follow? ›

Why is The Witcher timeline so confusing? Hissirch said she chose to use multiple timelines without explaining that there were multiple timelines because she “wanted viewers who weren't familiar with 'The Witcher' to be able to watch the first episode and believe they could be happening on the same timeline.”

Why does Nilfgaard want Ciri? ›

The Reason From The Books

She's still special, but it's her child that is prophecized to stop the White Frost and rule most of the world. Naturally, that sort of power is intriguing to a man like Emhyr. So, he intends to impregnate his own daughter.

Who is Geralt's true love? ›

Why is Ciri different in Season 2? ›

The Witcher's Ciri actress didn't change from season 1 to 2. If so, why then did she look so different (especially in the eyebrow department)? The explanation for Ciri's changed appearance is simple — the young star grew up considerably between her separate performances as The Witcher's most powerful character.

Why is Ciri special? ›

Ciri is clearly a being of unique potential; her Elder Blood possesses unique magical potential, so much so it can be used to create a new generation of Witchers. But her greatest power is the ability to travel between the spheres, with her scream shattering the monoliths that serve as gateways.

How many timelines are in season 1 of The Witcher? ›

People have been saying that there are three, but there are actually four distinct time periods you need to juggle throughout the first season. The first two timelines take place over several decades.

Are the timelines different in Witcher? ›

Multiple timelines run through the series, and many episodes swap between them frequently. One scene takes place at one time period and the next one takes place, say, a decade later. At first the time shifts aren't even perceptible.

Does The Witcher follow two different timelines? ›

And as viewers are soon shown, The Witcher is set in three different timelines. Since that separation in The Witcher's timeline is going to be confusing for some viewers, we're here to help explain why it actually shouldn't be. And why grasping the timeline may help enrich, instead of confuse the story being told.

Is Witcher Season 1 Episode 4 a flashback? ›

The timeline of this story suggests that this is a flashback. Mousesack is much younger, and so is Queen Calanthe. Calanthe argued with her daughter Parvetta upon her arrival. She didn't want to have an arranged marriage, but the Queen didn't listen to her woes.


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