'The Witcher': How Critics Say Netflix Series Compares to 'Game of Thrones'

On Friday, The Witcher finally hit Netflix, and many fans and critics can't help but compare it to another popular swords-and-sorcery show that ended this year: Game of Thrones. The Witcher is also based on a series of books first published in the 1990s, but that is about where the similarities end. Social media is not pleased with this surface-level comparison.

One of the most ambitious Netflix Original Series in a while, The Witcher adapts books written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. It centers around Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), a genetically mutated warrior trying to stay out of the politics of the kingdoms he dwells in.

The story is full of magic — far more than Game of Thrones — and it tackles its world-building much more head-on than the HBO series. Even GoT super-fans like podcast host Aziz from History of Westeros warn fans not to "listen to anyone comparing" the two shows. Instead, Aziz tweeted that the fictional world is more akin got Lord of the Rings.

On the other hand, YouTube personality and critic Daniel Greene defended himself on Saturday for comparing The Witcher to Game of Thrones in his first review video.

"Of course I'll compare it to GoT because that's where the bar is set," he tweeted.

Similarly, some fans thought it was at least worth joking about after the angry response to Game of Thrones' finale earlier this year. Some wrote that The Witcher was here to "clean up" the burgeoning genre of fantasy book adaptations on TV.

Another positive comparison between the two is in the performances of the actors. In terms of raw performance, it makes sense to weigh Cavill and his cast-mates against the screen presence of Game of Thrones' stars. In one early review by Vogue, Anya Chalotra — who plays the sorceress Yenefer — was on a "trajectory" that "could markedly resemble Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke's, who started off with very little herself, and made history."

Still, for die-hard fans of the fantasy genre, the comparisons were generally seen as shallow and poorly thought-out. Many wondered how many of the critics and Twitter users making the observations had ever read a fantasy book or engaged with the source material.

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On the other hand, counter-arguments noted that the shows are bringing these stories into the public consciousness and putting more of a spotlight than ever on the fantasy genre. That means good things for the fandoms and the genre in the end.

The Witcher is now streaming on Netflix.