Netflix’s most-watched show faces cancellation calls and it’s down to ratings

Geralt of Rivia holds his sword as he prepares to fight in The Witcher season 3
The Witcher season 3 will arrive in two parts in Q2 2023. (Image credit: Netflix)

Is The Witcher season three worth watching? That depends very much on whose reviews you read. The show's third season has a respectable 77% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but its audience rating is a paltry 22% from over 1,000 reviews.

Some of the reviews from the audience include comments like "atrocious writing", "painful and boring to watch" and "Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaddddddddd". And that's just the first page of reviews. Some are even more scathing of the Netflix show.

Despite the bad reviews, season three of The Witcher is the most-watched show on Netflix for the week ending July 30 and has been in the top 10 charts for the past five weeks since its been out. 

So, what's the problem?

What's wrong with season three of The Witcher?

The first season of The Witcher scored a whopping 89% on the tomatometer with audiences, and critics said that season two was a huge improvement giving it a 95% rating. However, season three has been haunted by Henry Cavill's departure, who is set to be replaced by Liam Hemsworth after season three. 

And the storylines and dialog in season three haven't exactly been getting rave reviews. Forbes called the show "a mediocre, generic fantasy that is – alas – utterly forgettable by the end of its wildly disappointing third season". 

One episode, The Art of Illusion (season three, episode five) has been dubbed the show's worst episode ever. While trying to be kinder about the episode, Vulture described it as "needlessly convoluted" and compared it to an episode of Scooby-Doo

On the critics side, however, you'll find a fairly positive consensus. Of the 40-plus critic reviews on season three, you'll find two or three delighting in the battles, costumes and backstabbing for every one that felt the writing wasn't the best. From my scanning of the reviews there are plenty more positive than negative ones. But in the fan section, it's carnage, with some fans demanding Netflix cancel the show rather than make a fourth season. 

If you've spent any time at all reading TV show reviews you'll be well aware that 'hell hath no fury' like a TV show fan who feels let down, and inevitably the audience reviews are going to reflect that. The people who tend to be most motivated to review shows online are the ones with the strongest opinions, whether that's me blabbering on about The Bear Season two again or, as here, The Witcher fans unhappy that the show isn't delivering what they wanted (or in some cases, claiming that a line about a wheat allergy means the show has gone "woke"). 

The reality is likely to be somewhere in the middle: if you're not a super-fan or want a faithful adaptation of the books, season three is still a lot of fantasy fun. We still think it's one of the best Netflix shows, but if you need more fantasy after The Witcher, watch these seven superb shows

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.