Sure Sounds Like Children Are Gonna Die on The Witcher Kids’ Show

Sure Sounds Like Children Are Gonna Die on The Witcher Kids’ Show
Photo: Jay Maidment/Netflix

The Witcher’s much anticipated second season finally debuts on Netflix this Friday, but there’s so much more Witcher-iness to come. Beyond the prequel TV series, the second anime movie, and already announced third season of the flagship show, there’s also a kids’ TV series on the way. It was a surprising announcement given the world of The Witcher is rife with graphic violence, sex, and some very dark themes — but now we have a bit of a clue to how a PG Witcher show might work.

Speaking to IGN, showrunner Lauren Schmidt discussed how her team would be approaching the series:

“[It’s] not to say that we’re going to take this universe, and then take out all of the blood, all of the sex, and all of the violence and then just present that back to children. To me, the thing that appealed the most in The Witcher, aside from the fact that it’s a family, are all of the moral thematics that [author Andrzej] Sapkowski has in there. His short stories, for instance, are fairy tales. Fairy tales are also written for children. There is a way to adapt these themes and these stories, with different characters of course, that lay the foundation for the Witcher world.”

Schmidt is very correct about Sapkowski’s short stories… but that doesn’t really mean the kids’ show will be able to feature blood, sex, and violence. It’s still got to earn a TV-PG rating if parents are going to allow their children to watch it. However, those original fairy tales — written centuries before the sanitised Disney versions that have effectively replaced them in pop culture — certainly featured kids dying in gruesome ways, and it sounds like the show may hold true to that ethos, if nothing else:

“We’re also not going to shy away from some of the more controversial parts of it. We’ve talked a lot about how the Trail of the Grasses will feature in this, because we need it to. Without the Trial of the Grasses it’s not The Witcher. So those are conversations that we’re constantly having, but I know there’s a way to do it.”

The Trial of the Grasses, if you’re unaware, is the first test that a pre-Witcher undertakes to become a full-fledged Witcher. In the books, it’s quite lethal and gruesome, and requires injecting a secret mix of herbs (the titular grasses), alchemic potions, and mutagens directly into the veins of paralysed candidates. I’ll let the Witcher fan wiki explain the process because it’s quite… descriptive:

“Most adepts died by the third day. The survivors, agitated by strikes of sudden madness, would fall into a deep stupor. Their eyes turning glassy, hands reaching for any nearby clothing, and breath loud and hoarse. After being administered the elixirs again, the children’s cough would progress into vomiting. They also suffered from seizures, while cold sweat ran down their skin. Thus weakened, the adepts fought with the mutagens, herbs, and viruses penetrating their bodies. When they woke up by the seventh day, their eyes had already turned cat-like. No more than three or, at best, four in 10 survived; the rest died in agony.”

That’s, uh, significantly more brutal than a bit of on-screen blood, and seems like it would definitely need to be toned down to be TV-PG — but as Schmidt herself said, “Without the Trial of the Grasses it’s not The Witcher.” It’ll be very interesting to see how this ends up getting handled.

However it ends up portraying the trials, it seems like the show will follow a group of young, potential Witcher initiates as they receive their training. Presumably, this will most likely be set at the School of the Wolf at Kaer Morhen, to tie the series to main hero Geralt. However, by the time the events of The Witcher roll around, the school’s lost the ability to create new Witchers, so a kids’ series would either need to take place in the past or be set at one of the other Witcher schools, of which there are several.

Wherever the show is set, it sounds like it’s going to be a sort of Witcher High School action-drama, which isn’t that enticing. However, The Witcher is so good that the team making the spin-off absolutely deserves the benefit of the doubt, no matter how many dead children it does or does not contain.