Goodbye Henry Cavill: An ode to the perfect Geralt of Rivia

The Witcher
(Image credit: Netflix)

Warning: This feature contains some spoilers for The Witcher season 3 volume 2

We knew this day was coming, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Henry Cavill’s final scene as the white-haired, sword-wielding, expletive-laden monster hunter has aired. In the season finale, we see him reckon with his neutrality for one last time before Liam Hemsworth picks up the mantle in The Witcher season 4.

There’s been a fair amount of time to prepare for this, of course. Cavill announced late last year that he was leaving the role, without giving any reason for the exit. Swiftly after, the Netflix PR machine whirred into action, confirming that more seasons are still on the way with The Hunger Games star Hemsworth leading the fray. 

But that hasn’t made this moment any easier. I’ve waxed lyrically in the past about how I felt Cavill’s casting was a rare example of a perfect match of actor and role, and season 3 has done little to dull that belief. 

Third time’s a charm

The Witcher

(Image credit: Netflix)

All in all, season 3 has felt like a fitting tribute to the actor’s extraordinary take on a beloved character. He was given some incredible moments, including some storming fights under the watchful eye of stunt coordinator Wolfgang Stegemann. That moment he chops Rience’s head off in episode 6? His battle against Vilgefortz? His final scene killing countless soldiers? It’s all been nothing short of iconic.

Then there’s the emotional heft he’s brought, most notably in his relationship with Anya Chalotra’s Yennefer. For two seasons, their slow burn, will they/won’t they dynamic has struggled to overcome a troubling wish to a Djinn – you know, the classic scenario. Finally, the pair reconciled and exchanged vows of love, capitalizing on a chemistry that has always scorched on screen between the pair.

And while we’re talking chemistry, Freya Allan and Cavill’s on-screen dynamic as pseudo-daughter and father Ciri and Geralt has also been a joy to watch in the latest batch of episodes. We spent the whole of season 1 hoping the pair would meet, the whole of the second season seeing them develop that relationship, and in season 3 we finally had our trio together (albeit briefly) in some genuinely enthralling sequences. 

Time to say goodbye

An image from The Witcher season 3

(Image credit: Netflix)

But I doubt I’m alone in finding that through all of this, there’s been a lingering bittersweetness. Every epic fight and every emotional resolution is followed by a moment after where my stomach sinks and I remember, 'Well, that’s the last time I’ll see that.' 

The show itself felt this way too. In the second half of this season, Geralt was mostly bed-bound with less and less to do as the narrative shifted largely to the events of Aretuza and more prominently to Ciri (who it seems will surely be our new protagonist going forward). 

In short, the question of what to do with the Geralt recasting lingered beneath almost every interaction.

It’s a question that is by no means wrapped up by the season finale, either. Given Cavill left after filming had ended (as confirmed by his co-stars being unable to say goodbye), it feels like we’re not going to get much catharsis on this one. Potentially, given recent comments, it seems like Hemsworth’s version is just going to enter stage left in season 4. 

Ride Witcher ride

The Witcher

(Image credit: Kate Green/Getty Images)

In this state of limbo, it feels tough to pay fitting tribute to a character that has meant so much to me – or to articulate what a task the actor stepping into his boots has ahead. The closest I’ll get was at The Witcher season 3 premiere, which was one of the few press appearances that Cavill made for his swan song in the role. 

After he was introduced to the crowd and shared an anecdote about filming, everyone was invited to stand up and give him a standing ovation to thank him for his time as the Butcher of Blaviken. A visibly emotional Cavill was teasingly asked not to cry, but thankfully the warning didn’t extend to the audience as the crowd erupted in praise for his version of the White Wolf.

It was a small moment in five years of the actor inhabiting this role, but I just hope that this, along with the countless other fan interactions that Cavill has had over the years, means he knows just how missed he’ll be on The Continent. 

The Witcher season 3 is now available to watch on Netflix. For more on the show, check out:

Fay Watson
Deputy Entertainment Editor

I’m the Deputy Entertainment Editor here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for the Total Film and SFX sections online. I previously worked as a Senior Showbiz Reporter and SEO TV reporter at Express Online for three years. I've also written for The Resident magazines and Amateur Photographer, before specializing in entertainment.