Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher books are famous for drawing heavily from Polish mythology and other Slavic folklore, sources that can be underrepresented in fantasy compared to their Western European counterparts. While this can certainly be seen in Lauren Schmidt Hissrich’s adaptation of the series, the show also drew from stories all over the world to bring its monsters to the screen. For your edification, Netflix has uploaded an in-depth video-bestiary that uncovers the real-life mythologies behind the beasts and critters encountered by Geralt and co.
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Since there are so many monsters in The Witcher, the 12.5-minute video only covers those featured in the first half of the first season. Those include the kikimora and the striga (Slavic folklore), sylvans or animal-human hybrids (all over the world), selkies (Irish folklore), the Roachhound (inspired by insect monsters in Thai, South American, and Native American folklore), and the doppelganger (all over the world, including Ancient Egyptian mythology).
We’ll be seeing a lot more where these came from when The Witcher returns to Netflix. In a Reddit AMA in January, Hissrich says the show will feature “other non-humans” in future seasons and incorporate more aspects of Polish culture and language. For more about the show’s lore, check out The Witcher’s interactive timeline. Meanwhile, Teo Bileta explores the Slavic influences of Sapkowski’s books and recommends more Slavic-inspired fantasy by other authors.