Here’s a quick rundown of how Season 1’s timeline plays out in chronological order (with a couple of guesses here and there) as to how this all takes place around the fall of Cintra. We pulled these rough estimates of years based on dates loosely established in the Andrzej Sapkowski Witcher novels and how they play out in the show. These aren’t scientific numbers, but around when the timeline seems to be falling into place.
95 Years Before Cintra Falls: Geralt’s Mother Abandoned Him
By the time Geralt’s mother, Visenna, who we meet in The Witcher Episode 8, gives Geralt to the witchers for agonizing indoctrination, Yennefer’s lived a few lifetimes and is now a roaming freelance mage.
And yes, this happened nearly century ago because of how old Geralt is supposed to be in the first episode (witchers don’t age at the same rate).
This makes makes Geralt’s flashbacks in Episode 8 the next step in the timeline.
70 Before the Fall of Cintra: Yennefer Goes to School
Given how obscenely long magic-wielders live on The Continent, all of Yennefer’s backstory – getting cruelly sold to Tissaia de Vries (MyAnna Buring), her affair with Istredd (Royce Pierreson), her painful transformation and assignment to the kingdom of Aedirn — happened about 70 years before Cintra falling and the Battle of Sodden Hill, according to showrunner Lauren Schmidt-Hissrich.
Possibly 30 Years Before Cintra Falls: The Striga Curse
Here’s a little turn inside the timeline twist. Geralt’s story with Triss Merigold (Anna Shaffer) and the Striga in Episode 3, “Betrayer Moon,” probably happened before the other Geralt adventures we witness. Firstly, because, in the books, this adventure happens before the others. Secondly, in the premiere episode, “The End’s Beginning,” the young girl in Blaviken, Marilka, asks Geralt if he’s ever killed a Striga and he’s mum on the subject. Which she takes as a “yes.”
This means Geralt’s quests in “The End’s Beginning,” “Four Marks,” and “Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials” happen next, in succession.
25 Years Before Cintra Falls: The Butcher of Blaviken
This time frame is an estimate, but this time takes place in between the Striga curse and well before Geralt meets Yennefer, as he is haunted by what happens with Renfri for many years. In the premiere episode, in “The End’s Beginning,” Geralt gets caught in a conflict between the sorcerer, Stregobor (Lars Mikkelsen), and a princess Stregobor thinks will bring doom upon the land. This adventure, plus the Striga arc, only feeds into Geralt’s mistrust of humanity more.
13 Years Before Cintra Falls: Geralt’s Child of Surprise
In Episode 4, “Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials,” Geralt has been already palling around with Jaskier, whom he met in Episode 2 (“Four Marks), for a spell. Jaskier asks Geralt to protect him at betrothal feast of Princess Pavetta – Ciri’s mother. This is when most fans realized that Geralt’s story was not in sync with Ciri’s as Queen Calanthe, and Pavetta (who was long dead before the first episode’s Ciri scenes), was still alive.
It all ends with Geralt taking the “Law of Surprise” as his reward for saving Duny’s life, not knowing that he was inadvertently laying claim to Pavetta’s unborn daughter. We’re guessing 13 years here since Ciri is supposed to be 12 during her story.
10, Or So, Years Before Cintra Falls: The Last Wish
Episode 5, “Bottled Appetites,” definitely happens after the Geralt and Yennefer events (but not the Ciri events) of the first four episodes, as Geralt makes his last wish that forever ties him to Yennefer. It occurs several years after “Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials,” as Geralt and Jaskier hadn’t seen each other in a very long time. It marks the first time Geralt and Yennefer meet, as well as the show’s fun nod to “Bathtub Geralt.”
Between 5 and 10 Years Before Cintra Falls: The Golden Dragon
For Episode 6, “Rare Species,” we catch up with Geralt, Yennefer, and Jaskier about five years later still (Yennefer remarks at Jaskier’s “crow’s feet”), in a story that pays off the Djinn arc from “Bottled Appetites” and splinters the trio. It suggests that Geralt and Yennefer have “trysted” several times since Episode 5, as their paths have fortuitously crossed over the years. By the end though, Yennefer breaks it off with Geralt, believing that their fates were magically bound because of a wish, while Geralt takes his resentment out on Jaskier, chasing him off.
The Witcher Year 1263: Cintra Falls
Episode 7, “Before a Fall,” brings us right up to the pilot episode. Geralt heads to Cintra, to make good on his “law of surprise” duty to protect Ciri after having been shamed by Yennefer in Episode 6 (and also having seen Nilfgaardian forces approaching).
For the first time on the show, all the timelines converge and Ciri’s story, which we’ve been following separately, officially kicks off as Cintra gets overrun, Queen Calanthe dies, and the young (powerful) princess goes on the run.
Two Weeks After Cintra’s Fall: Ciri’s Survival
Now we get into Ciri’s saga, as she escapes Cintra, meets her elf-comrade Dara (Wilson Radjou-Pujalte), journeys into the Brokilon forest, clashes with the doppelgänger (“Doppler) of Mousesack, etcetera. All of this happens over the course of two weeks before the season finale, “Much More,” which is the episode (aside from the flashbacks) that all takes place entirely in the same timeline.
In “Much More,” Geralt stumbles upon the decimated ruins of the refugee camp where Ciri stayed in Episode 2, “Four Marks.” After being bitten by an undead beast (a rotfiend, perhaps?) and poisoned, Geralt is saved by the husband of a woman who’d rescued Ciri after her own childhood friends had tried to attack and rob her. Geralt and Ciri’s fates finally converge, just as Renfri (Emma Appleton) told him back in “The End’s Beginning.”
Two Weeks After the Fall of Cintra: The Battle of Sodden Hill
At the same time that Ciri and Geralt’s stories finally converge, Yennefer and the Brotherhood of Sorcerer’s make their final stand at the Battle of Sodden Hill to stop the invading Nilfgaardian forces. After the destruction of Cintra, nothing really is stopping Nilfgaard from taking over the rest of The Continent except these magic-users. Yennefer manages to wipe out all of them by the end of “Much More,” but her fate remains unknown by the end of the series. (Don’t worry, she’ll be back in Season 2.)
Check out our guide to the monsters of The Witcher, some recommended reading to prepare you for the series (or to peruse afterward), a breakdown of all the important Witcher characters, and all our individual episode reviews.