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I have just finished watching The Witcher on Netflix and I am completely lost as to the timeline of events depicted in the series.

It is obvious to me that Ciri's escape is happening in the present, while both Yennefer's and Geralt's stories happened some time ago; but I didn't realise that until some time into Ep 7. Before that I was sometimes confused but believed that the story was linear and jumping back and forth between the three characters.

During Ep 8, Yennefer mentions that she has lived through three human lifespans, which places her training perhaps 200 years ago; but Geralt's first appearance is as a fully fledged Witcher, no idea how long ago (disregarding Geralt's obvious flashback to his childhood).

Is there any time reference that I missed in the TV series? Did I perhaps get the whole thing wrong?

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In an interview with one of the showrunners, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, she says:

Is this crazy? Like, is it crazy to do that with this story? Is it crazy to say that Ciri's (Freya Allan) story takes place over two weeks, Yennefer's takes place over, you know, it's like 70 years. Geralt's (Henry Cavill) takes place over 20 years. Is that crazy?

If she was, say 20, when she went to Aretuza, she would be 90 towards the end of the show. Perhaps not 3 lifetimes, but certainly 2.

As I watched, the details I caught that led to realizing the [timelines] were:

  • During the mage's council discussing where to send the new mages, they refer to Calanthe (Ciri's grandmother) as a young, promising princess [Yennefer]
  • [Geralt] is fighting the shtriga for King Foltest, but we cut to [Yennefer] who walks past a child Foltest who is pestering his sister.
  • [Geralt] attends Ciri's mother's betrothal/wedding where we find out she is pregnant.
  • Once [Geralt] and [Yennefer] meet, when next we see them together during the dragon hunt there are flashbacks of several meetings that occurred in the meantime.
  • Finally, [Yennefer] is talked into helping the mages defend Cintra, before anything in [Ciri's] time.

Those are just the ones that I caught and I wasn't trying to pay too much attention once I realized the timeline differences. This Screen Rant page includes many other smaller details that I missed. It also includes this timeline from dates in the novels:

1170 - The Great Cleansing of Elves
1173 - Yennefer is born
1190 - Yennefer attends Aretuza
1230 - Yennefer becomes mage of Aedirn (approx.)
1232 - Calanthe named queen
1233 - Calanthe wins The Battle of Hochebuz
1234 - Geralt meets Renfri
1235 - The Usurper overthrows Nilfgaard
1237 - Princess Pavetta is born
1252 - Princess Pavetta is married
1253 - Ciri is born
1257 - The Usurper is killed
1260 - Yennefer and Geralt meet (approx.)
1263 - Nilfgaard invades Cintra
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Specifically for the Netflix television show the entire timeline of major event is listed here.

  • Conjunction of the Spheres: Unknown but prior to 500
  • Birth of Stregobor: 786
  • Laws of Magic created: 839
  • The Opening of Aretuza: 839
  • The Creation of the First Witcher: 967
  • Birth of Geralt: 1160
  • Beginning of the Great Cleansing (Elf Genocide): 1187
  • Birth of Yennefer: 1192
  • Yennefer Attends Aretuza: 1206
  • Yennefer is Transformed: 1210
  • The Royal Ceremony (Mage Party): 1210
  • The Curse of the Black Sun: 1213
  • Birth of Renfri: 1213
  • Birth of Calanthe: 1216
  • Birth of Jaskier: 1222
  • A Striga is Born: 1229
  • Calanthe Ascends to the Throne: 1230
  • Battle of Hochebuz: 1231
  • The Butcher of Blaviken: 1231
  • Calanthe Marries Roegner: 1232
  • Urcheon Saves Roegner: 1233
  • Birth of Pavetta: 1234
  • The Striga Attacks: 1237
  • Nilfgaard Attacks Ebbing (start of war): 1239
  • Geralt and Jaskier First Meet: 1240
  • Yennefer Escaping the Ronin Mage: 1240
  • Geralt Defeats the Striga: 1243
  • Geralt Claims the Law of Surprise: 1249
  • Cintra's Double Wedding (Pavetta/Urcheon & Calanthe/Rist): 1249
  • Birth of Ciri: 1250
  • Yennefer and Geralt Meet (facing the djinn): 1256
  • The Dragon Hunt: 1262
  • Geralt Return to Cintra (to claim his Law of Surprise): 1263
  • The Battle of Marnadal (Cintra v. Nilfgaard): 1263
  • Yennefer returns to Aretuza: 1263
  • The Slaughter of Cintra (by Nilfgaard): 1263
  • Ciri in the Refugee Camp: 1263
  • Ciri in Brokilon Forest: 1263
  • Ciri's Prophecy: 1263
  • Geralt is attacked by Ghouls: 1263
  • The Battle of Sodden Hill: 1263
  • Destines Meet (Geralt and Ciri): 1263

Deductions from Above:

  • Geralt is 103 years old
  • Yennefer is 71 years old (not exactly 3 "lifetimes")
  • Renfri was 18 when she was killed by a 53 year old Geralt
  • Calanthe is 47 at the time of her death
  • Jaskier is 41 years old (18 when he met an 80 year old Geralt)
  • Ciri is 13 years old.
  • Geralt is 96 and Yennefer is 64 when they first meet
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  • I question the authenticity of this source. Why is the timeline and years completely different from the much more trusted Witcher Wiki? I believe there's a canonical reference at least to Yen's age, she tells it to Ciri at some point in the books. I'm pretty sure it was 94 years and she would say that in year 1267. Ciri's time line in season 1 of the series takes place in the year 1263 (fall of Cintra). Now Yen actually doesn't appear in the same time line throughout season 1, but she's approximately 90 at that point.
    – Amarth
    May 23 at 10:46
  • As for Geralt's age, see this answer: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/151540/…. Which is also a much more trustworthy source - an interview with the author. So the above answer is completely wrong in that regard too. I'd update it with better sources or delete it.
    – Amarth
    May 23 at 10:49
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    @Amarth My answer is for the tv show. I am not sure how you can get a more trusted source than the official Netflix page?
    – Skooba
    May 24 at 12:18
  • Why would the TV show use different years? That doesn't make any sense. Also they mostly strive to remain close to canon.
    – Amarth
    May 25 at 16:07
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    @Amarth - TV shows will often condense the action in a book, combine characters and generally make free with the plotlines in order to make good telly. If they made a shot-for-shot remake of the book it would be a four hundred hour long snooze-fest, occasionally interspersed with x-rated pornography and violence.
    – Valorum
    May 25 at 17:21
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I've just watched the series, and I agree with your confusion -- it took me several episodes to realize everything we saw Geralt and Yenefer do was fairly far in Ciri's past. There were clues, but they took some time to sink in.

It's clear, however, that mages live longer than ordinary humans, as do witchers. Geralt's reputation as the Butcher of Blaviken is widespread by the later episodes, yet it didn't exist in the first (because he hadn't killed Renfri and her men yet). We aren't really given a time scale for Geralt, other than that Jaskier was still alive and still singing when he met Calanthe and Eist at Pavetta's betrothment.

To me, Jaskier's presence at the Blaviken incident, along with his presence at Pavetta and Duny's wedding, suggests that this was a span of no more than a few decades. Yenefer also mentioned spending three decades at court before she broke with the Brotherhood.

Therefore, there's a bit of a time conflict in her statement about "three human lifetimes" -- also, near the end, it appears that Geralt at least subconsciously expects his mother to still be alive. To me, that suggests that, though Geralt might be much older, Yenefer is only around 40-50 years out of the Tower (so 60-80 years old) at the time Geralt and Ciri find each other. Then again, in that setting, 80 years might be approaching three normal peasant lifetimes.

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    I (perhaps mistakenly) understood Gerald's mother to be a sorceress herself. Dec 31 '19 at 15:52
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    No @DiegoSánchez you are right and that will come up next season
    – Ian Fry
    Dec 31 '19 at 16:12
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    About the lifespans, keep in mind that average lifespans in dark medieval ages are usually quite lesser than modern day ones. Someone living out of their 40s is usually considered as being old, and even venerable.
    – Bardo
    Jan 2 '20 at 13:49
  • @IanFry It's also strongly implied, if not actually stated, when he's having hallucinatory visions after being bitten and transported by the trader. Jan 9 '20 at 5:42
  • @zibadawatimmy have you read the books or played the games? If so you would know
    – Ian Fry
    Jan 9 '20 at 14:14
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Movies & TV SE question

There are three timelines depicted in the show: Yennefer's, Geralt's, and Ciri's. Each character's story is linear, but they start at different times in history, sabe move at different paces, all coinciding by the final two episodes.

There are many hints within episodes as to the fact that our protagonists' events are not happening concurrently, and Netflix has released multiple official timelines with exact dates to clarify three ordering of events, but there are unfortunately a few contradictions in these, and between these and the in-show dialogue.

Here is an approximate timeline based off of the official Netflix dates:

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