A Witcher's life may be tough, but adapting Andrej Sapkowski Witcher books into a television series is probably tougher. The books were never really that popular before they were loosely adapted into a video game trilogy which took the world by storm. Therein lies one of the biggest challenges for Netflix when they helmed the production of The Witcher TV series as they were adamant on being faithful to the books. So if you were expecting some of the most familiar faces and storylines from the games, you might get disappointed.
Even so, there really isn't a problem with that, the books contain some compelling characters in fiction literature. Some of them were even villains with as much depth as those in the video games (if not more so). Hopefully, we get to see the best (or is it worst?) of these villains in the Netflix adaptation of The Witcher saga. Speaking of the best of them, here are around 10 villains that would make for a compelling show that might even steal the crown from Game of Thrones (seasons 1-4).
First off in this list is not exactly a villain to the whole show or franchise, but rather, to the monster hunting mutant, Geralt of Rivia. Out of all the women he's met and had a relationship with, Geralt's one true pair was the sorceress, Yennefer of Vengerberg. Oddly enough, his relationship with Yennefer was the rockiest. They were an on again, off again couple... and Yennefer also kept cheating on him with a sorcerer named Istredd.
It seems Yennefer actually had quite a lot of lovers but Geralt and Istredd both wanted to keep Yennefer for themselves. Yennefer actually reduced these two professional men to idiotic boys who fell head over heels for her. Hence, both Geralt and Istredd challenged each other to a duel to the death. Imagine Henry Cavill as Geralt having a tantrum over his cheating lover.
If you've played the video games, then you'll notice a lot of people resort to calling Geralt the "Butcher of Blaviken." It's his most notable and notorious title and its roots trace back to a certain woman whom Geralt had a tryst with. Her name was Renfri and she was a cursed individual from birth, leading to a rather rough childhood. Everyone wanted her dead as soon as she was born.
Indeed it seems she really was damned according to a sorcerer. They discovered her rather psychotic behavior and penchant for torture (even as a child). So, like a darker version of Snow White, she was cast out and had to fend for herself in a rough medieval fantasy world. Still, Renfri soon became a feared bandit and sought revenge on the sorcerer who played a part in her cruel fate.
However, the sorcerer and Renfri had an impasse in the town of Blaviken where he hid. Renfri even threatened to execute innocent civilians one-by-one to force the sorcerer out of hiding. Geralt, however, managed to stop Renfri and her brutal band where he butchered all of them in the marketplace of the town of Blaviken, hence his moniker.
8 PRINCESS ADDA/STRIGA
Princess Adda was one of Geralt's first challenge in the books (though not in his tenure as a Witcher). Like Renfri, Adda was cursed as a baby since she was an incest child of King Foltest. Adda's curse made her turn into a grotesque and feral monster called a Striga every time the sun falls down. It was definitely work cut out for a Witcher.
Geralt, needing the gold and all set out to lift the curse and even managed to uncover a sinister royal scheme. The Striga chapter was no doubt a strong introduction to The Witcher universe, courtesy of the first book. There's no way the show should or would omit such a selling point.
7 OLGIERD VON EVEREC
The chances of David Beckham- err, sorry, Olgierd von Everec being included in the show is little to none. That's because he's only a made-up character for the game- a downloadable content (DLC), even. Still, his character has one of the most well-written and presented stories ever in The Witcher games; he's even more interesting than the final main game villain.
Olgierd only comes off as a villain initially, however. In fact, he didn't even want to be evil; rather, he was forced into it by a trickster demon. The writers really did an excellent job of making the non-canon Olgierd blend in seamlessly with the lived-in world. Perhaps, if the show writers run out of source materials, they might turn to the games for inspiration or basis. We can only dream at the moment.
6 LETHO OF GULET
Letho is similar to Olgierd; his character was made solely for the games though both of them have as much depth as the main ones in the books. In that regard, Letho is a worthy opponent to Geralt; he's also a Witcher whose mutation seemingly jacked him up. Anyway, Letho's plans and motivations have several dimensions to them, all of which makes him a riveting villain.
He only became a regicidal assassin in exchange for his Witcher school being rebuilt. Basically, Letho loved his Witcher family and order so much that he decided to do some dirty work for another king. Even if he's not an official character or was never part of the books, he fits in the story quite well. That and a rogue Witcher also makes for a good premise.
5 EMPEROR EMHYR VAR EMREIS
That king who ordered Letho to assassinate other kings and sow chaos to soften other kingdoms for an invasion in the games? It was the Nilfgaardian Emperor Emhyr var Emreis. However, Emhyr in the books wasn't really portrayed as a villain. He's by no means a good person, though; he's actually done plenty of morally damnable actions in the novels.
Emhyr believes that the ends justify the means and being emperor of a great southern kingdom requires him to be like that. Oh, he also wanted to have a child with Ciri... his own daughter. Emhyr believes that his child with Ciri would fulfill a prophecy, one that involves a certain heir ruling the world. Despite that, Emhyr in the books has shown a bit of humanity left in him. He's a complex character alright, one that needs to be handled with care in the show.
4 PHILIPPA EILHART
Philippa Eilhart is a powerful sorceress but the word "witch" is probably more fitting for her. She's amoral, cruel, and ambitious with about the same political will as kings and other rulers. Hence, Philippa constantly tries to undermine kings and usually doesn't care who's in the way of her goals. She uses any means she can (through magic, sexual favors, cunning, and violence) in order to achieve what needs to be done.
In short, she's a perfect villain for The Witcher TV show. Philippa is an antagonist you'd love to hate and she's no slouch- she's very much capable and powerful too. Moreover, Philippa is a founder of the Lodge of Sorceresses, a secret group of female mages who work to serve matters of magic and give a person with magical ability direct influence on the world.
3 LEO BONHART
The antagonists in this list are either royalty, Witchers, or people of magical abilities. That's why Leo Bonhart is quite a relief. Leo is a mere human bounty hunter who was a soldier before that. What makes Leo Bonhart something we look forward to in The Witcher from Netflix is his accolades. The fearsome bounty hunter has a reputation for hunting and killing Witchers. Not many people or even monsters could do that, but Leo, a merely retired soldier-turned-bounty-hunter did it somehow... at least that's what he claims.
In total, he seems to have already killed three and even wears the medallions of the respective Witchers schools of the Witchers he killed (Griffin, Wolf, and Viper). That's not all he did, though. Leo also enslaved Ciri and beheaded her girlfriend in front of her.
2 VILGEFORTZ OF ROGGEVEEN
One would think that Leo Bonhart wouldn't answer or bow to anyone considering he can kill professional mutants, but Vilgefortz commands him with ease. Well, actually- he hired him but anyway, Vilgefortz is perhaps the most powerful sorcerer in the books. He has easily defeated Yennefer and even Geralt of Rivia.
Moreover, Vilgefortz also worked with Emhyr even before he became an emperor. It was actually this sorcerer who made Emhyr's ascent to the throne of Nilfgaard possible. As a reward, Emhyr promised to Vilgefortz nearly half the kingdoms he planned to conquer. For many who have read the books, Vilgefortz is the most powerful villain there is. It took the combined forces of Geralt, Yennefer, and the undying vampire Regis (whom Vilgefortz turned into a bloody paste) before he could be defeated.
Despite all the dangers Geralt of Rivia has faced, his supposed death didn't come at the hands of the monsters he is hunting nor the sorcerers/sorceresses or kings he got entangled with. No, Geralt of Rivia, one of the most skilled Witchers ever, was bested by a mere peasant. A random man stabbed him with a pitchfork during a racial hate-fueled riot.
Of course, that would be underestimating Geralt's skill and compassion. He was actually fighting the whole town of Rivia since a human mob was massacring the local nonhuman (elves, dwarves, gnomes, etc.) populace. Geralt wanted to protect his nonhuman friends as well as the innocents; he had no choice but to kill dozens of bloodthirsty humans.
When he got to a man brandishing a pitchfork, the scared peasant pleaded for mercy. Geralt obliged and stayed his blade, only to be betrayed and stabbed by the very man he spared. It was unclear in the books how he lived but he somehow did and the games continued the story. Regardless, it goes to show that the most dangerous villain in The Witcher are the very people the Witchers have sworn to help: the humans. They (or we) turned out to be the biggest monsters of all. That's definitely something Netflix will need to capture to give The Witcher justice.