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Every Fairy Tale Referenced In Netflix’s The Witcher

Many of the humans, sorcerers, elves, and monsters that Geralt of Rivia met in Netflix’s The Witcher were inspired by classic fairy tales—but each have been given their own twist. The same was true for the popular series of video games, as well as the original The Witcher book series written by author Andrzej Sapkowski. The novels always found a way to subtly include familiar tales from storytellers like Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm, and Netflix has continued the trend.

Though the stories that surround Geralt, Yennifer, and Ciri differ significantly from the source material, the fairy tale theme is still apparent. Season 1 especially was packed full of these subtle details that brought audiences a sense of familiarity—since many grew up hearing these tales. Of course, each story often had a dark twist ending, so The Witcher created an intriguing dissonance. Season 2 might have slowed down on these moments, but overall, The Witcher has kept the dark fairy tales coming.

Renfri was the first of the important women that Geralt met in season 1 of The Witcher, and though she didn’t live long, she had a profound impact. Her story was tragic since she had been born a princess but was forced to survive in the wild after her evil stepmother ordered her death. Of course, Renfri’s story was inspired by the fairy tale Snow White. This was among the clearest parallels between the Netflix series and a classic story, but it still came with its twists.

Renfri became much more of a badass than Snow White was traditionally described, and the evil queen didn’t desire her stepdaughter’s death because the girl was too pretty. Instead, a magic mirror revealed that Renfri would murder her stepmother and others. Naturally, this ended up being more of a self-fulfilling prophecy since this wouldn’t have come true if Renfri had never been ordered to die. In the end, Renfri didn’t meet a prince charming. She met Geralt—which ultimately led to her death.At first glance, Duny and Pavetta’s marriage in The Witcher season 1 would seem to have been inspired by Beauty and the Beast. However, their story is nearly identical to a lesser-known fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm called Hans My Hedgehog. In this tale, a man named Hans was born cursed to be half human, half hedgehog. Hans enjoyed playing his bagpipes in the forest, and one day a lost king stumbled upon him. The hedgehog man agreed to save the king (like The Witcher’s Duny), but only if he swore to hand over the first person to greet him when he returned (the princess, of course).

This is nearly identical to Duny’s story about Pavetta’s father, but the story of Hans took a dark turn. The king attempted to trick Hans, so the cursed man kidnapped the princess, pricked her entire body with his quills, and sent her back bloody. Later, he pulled the same trick with a different king and was able to marry the princess and break his curse. Though the nuances of Hans My Hedgehog differ from Duny and Pavetta’s story, the maliciousness of Hans in the original tale is a subtle hint that Duny wasn’t all he seemed—just as The Witcher season 2 revealed.


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