The Witcher season 3 release date, Henry Cavill's future, and everything else we know about the new season

The Witcher
(Image credit: Netflix)

The Witcher season 3 finally has a release date and its first main trailer. But there's a surprise in store: For the first time ever, the fantasy Netflix series has been split into two parts, releasing across June and July. So we can spend even more time with Geralt, Yen, and Ciri on The Continent.

Speaking of Geralt, this new season is all set to be Henry Cavill's last as the White Wolf. He's being replaced by Liam Hemsworth in the fourth season but, if what we've seen in the teasers so far is any indication, the actor is going to go out with a bang.

So, join us as we run through all the big Witcher season 3 news ahead of its highly anticipated return.

The Witcher season 3 release date is June 2023 and July 2023

The Witcher

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Witcher season 3 has been split into two volumes. Volume 1 (the first five episodes of the season) arrives on June 29. Volume 2 (episodes six-eight) heads to Netflix on July 27.

The Witcher season 3 trailers are here

The first teaser trailer for The Witcher season 3 focused on the theme of isolation, with Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri all apart from each other. 

"Now for the first time I understand real fear," Geralt says in the teaser, which also features Ciri fleeing from the mysterious Wild Hunt first glimpsed during the season 2 finale. Geralt also unsheathes his silver sword and is prepared for battle against an unseen foe...

The second trailer, which you can see above, sees Geralt ponder his own place in the power struggle on The Continent.

"Neutrality: It won't get you a statue, but it'll certainly help in keeping you alive," The White Wolf muses. What follows is an intriguing taste of what's to come in the new season, with the hunt for Ciri at the forefront of everyone's minds.

The Witcher season 3 cast: when is Henry Cavill leaving the show?

The Witcher

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Witcher season 3 cast will, obviously, feature the return of Geralt (Henry Cavill), Ciri (Freya Allan), and Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), and Jaskier (Joey Batey). It's officially Cavill's last season as Geralt, however. Liam Hemsworth will take over in the fourth season, and, despite Cavill now no longer returning as Superman, he definitely won't be back as Geralt again

"I'm so excited for viewers," showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich told us of the recasting. "I think that it's just a new chapter for us. And I think new chapters bring new energy and that people will find things to love. So yeah, personally, I'm really excited." As for why Cavill stepped away, nothing has been revealed, but a report has claimed that he was looking to leave after season 2 over not "seeing eye to eye" with the producers. 

But, Cavill will go out with a bang. "Henry has given so much to the show and so we want to honor that appropriately," Hissrich told Entertainment Weekly. She added: "Geralt's big turn is about giving up neutrality and doing anything that he has to do to get to Ciri. And to me, it's the most heroic sendoff that we could have, even though it wasn't written to be that. Geralt has a new mission in mind when we come back to him in season 4. He's a slightly different Geralt than we expected. Now, by the way, that's an understatement."

After the season 2 finale, we expected the likes of Vesemir (Kim Bodnia), Lambert (Paul Bullion), and Coen (Yasen Atour) to show up in season 3, though they've not been featured on any cast lists.

Other series regulars confirmed to return are: Fringilla (Mimi Ndiweni), Cahir (Eamon Farren) will likely have a part to play – as will Francesca (Mecia Simson), Filavandrel (Tom Canton), Triss (Anna Shaffer), Tissaia (MyAnna Buring), Dara (Wilson Mbomio), Istredd (Royce Pierreson), Vilgefortz (Mahesh Jadu), and Stregobor (Lars Mikkelsen).

There are also a handful of characters introduced in the second season that are in line for a comeback. They include Dijkstra (Graham McTavish), Phillipa (Cassie Clare), and Lydia (Aisha Fabienne Ross). Plus, let’s not forget the re-emergence of Duny, now known as Nilfgaardian Emperor Emhyr (Bart Edwards).

Hissrich also told GamesRadar+ that Codringher (Simon Callow) and Fenn (Lizz Carr) would return for the third season - something later confirmed by Netflix.

Four new actors are also joining the line-up. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' Meng'er Zhang will play Milva, "a human adopted by the dryads of Brokilon Forest." She’s also described as a "fierce and talented huntress."

Robbie Amell is playing "born fighter" Gallatin. He "leads an army of guerrilla Scoia'tael fighting on behalf of Nilfgaard." 

Hugh Skinner is Radovid, "Royal playboy and younger brother to King Vizimir." He "finds himself suddenly a man on the inside of the Redanian Intelligence." 

Christelle Elwin plays Mistle, a member of The Rats. They're "a gang of misfit teenagers who steal from the rich and give to themselves – and sometimes the poor."

Plus, per a report from Redanian Intelligence, Hiftu Quasem has been cast as Falka, an ancestor of Ciri's who has been referenced in the show before. The outlet also reported that Sunny Patel will play villain The Professor.

One person who doesn't know if they'll be back, though, is Adjoa Andoh, who plays Nenneke. "Yeah, I don't know. We'll see," Andoh told Radio Times. "The books are so huge. And they've gone so many different ways in the stories. Nenneke is in the books a lot. But it depends what they want to do with, you know, this version of it."

According to Redanian Intelligence, one of season 2's major villains has also been recast. Chris Fulton, who previously played Rience, has seemingly left the show. According to set photos, the mage will now by played by The Crown's Sam Woolf.

The Witcher season 3 story: what’s next and which books will be adapted?

The Witcher

(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix has released an official plot summary for The Witcher season 3, which reads: "As monarchs, mages, and beasts of the Continent compete to capture her, Geralt takes Ciri of Cintra into hiding, determined to protect his newly reunited family against those who threaten to destroy it. Entrusted with Ciri's magical training, Yennefer leads them to the protected fortress of Aretuza, where she hopes to discover more about the girl's untapped powers; instead, they discover they've landed in a battlefield of political corruption, dark magic, and treachery. They must fight back, put everything on the line – or risk losing each other forever."

Plus, we know the title of the first episode: 'Shaerrawedd.' That's the name of an elven palace from the Blood of Elves novel (via Entertainment Weekly). "[Shaerrawedd] is when we get Geralt's main thoughts on neutrality and why he wants to be neutral," showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich revealed. "It's a theme you will continue seeing throughout the season."

The Witcher season 3 story will pick up where the second season left off: the net is closing in on Ciri, with Nilfgaard, Redania, and the Northern kings all wanting to capture – or, worse, kill – the Lion Cub of Cintra. Francesca and the remaining elves also have Ciri in her sights, who is now under the protection of Geralt and Yennefer. Those warring parties and factions will almost certainly be the driving force of the upcoming season.

Betrayal could be the name of the game in The Witcher season 3, too. Aretuza and its mages are seemingly divided on who they should serve, while Jaskier is in the pocket of Dijkstra and Redania. That spells trouble for Yennefer and Geralt respectively.

The Wild Hunt also showed up during the season 2 finale as Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer were briefly teleported to another realm. "One of the things that I love in the books that [author Andrzej] Sapkowski did beautifully is he teases the Wild Hunt for so long. They pop up, then they go away for a while. So we are definitely sticking to that school," Hissrich told Entertainment Weekly, adding: "We all know that, eventually, Geralt is going to learn a little bit more about the Wild Hunt, as will Ciri, but right now it stays this ever-looming threat to her. It sort of goes between her fingers. She can't quite catch it and figure it out yet."

That was a plot thread tugged at in the Blood Origin spin-off, with its post-credits setting up that one of its more nefarious parties, Avallac'h, watching over Ciri. A prophecy from the show's finale indicates that the Lion Cub of Cintra may be involved in a plot to end the world - or avert the apocalypse.

The Witcher

(Image credit: Netflix)

Hissrich has also revealed on Twitter that the upcoming season will adapt Sapkowski's 'Time of Contempt.' The first season adapted aspects of The Last Wish, while the second season focused on A Grain of Truth and the majority of A Blood of Elves. We’re not going into heavy book spoilers here, but in short, expect one of Geralt's most brutal fight scenes, an odyssey for Ciri, and the introduction of the criminal group The Rats. If you want to pick up where the story left off, be sure to check out the reading order in our guide to The Witcher books.

It sounds like the upcoming episodes will be very close to the source material, too. "What is so interesting is that season 3, to me, is the closest thing that we've done as a one-to-one adaptation of the books," Hissrich told Entertainment Weekly. "Obviously, we can't do every page, but Time of Contempt gave us so many big action events, plot points, defining character moments, huge reveals of a big bad. There's so much to do that we were able to stick really, really closely with the books."

But will season 3 have multiple timelines? "Our seasons as a whole are really guided by the stories that we want to tell," Hissrich told TheWrap. "So structure is a great example. In season 2, there wasn't a reason to do non-linear storylines. So we took a very linear approach, which allowed us to play with some different aspects of visions or flashbacks, for instance, that we wouldn't be able to do if we were doing timelines. Season 3 I think is really great. It's based on 'The Time of Contempt,' and that actually to me is a very easily adaptable book. There's tons of action, there's tons of things that are just jaw dropping when you get to them. So we're really letting that lead our storytelling. Season 3, for instance, takes place on a very, very small time line. Not a lot of time passes, because it doesn't need to."

On season 3 specifics, Geralt actor Henry Cavill said during Netflix’s Unlocked show that "there is a chance to explore the Nenneke relationship a little further. Of course, I would love to work with the Witchers some more… but it’s about making sure that story happens without too much in the way of diversions [from the books]."

Cavill added that Geralt’s fraught relationship with Yennefer is "going to take some real work and nuance and complexity" to overcome.

Also on the Unlocked show, Hissrich offered up vague hints and teased a deeper dive into Vilgefortz’s secret history, connections to Lara Dorren, a larger look at the kingdom of Redania, and – of course – that Emhyr reveal.

"We’re going to lean into the suspense… how and when are our characters going to figure it out?" Hissrich said, while suggesting that Emhyr/Duny has a "new partner" in season 3. Expect his search for his daughter, Ciri, to form the crux of the season's narrative tensions.

Executive producer Steve Gaub has also given a tease on the next season's scope, along with a picture of an interior set. "We definitely won’t be going smaller in season 3," he wrote. It sounds like next season will be bigger than ever, then. 

While we wait for Geralt's summer sizzler, check out some of the best Netflix shows and best Netflix movies you can watch right now on the streaming service.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.

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