Everything we know about The Rats (the next spinoff of The Witcher)

Image: Netflix/YouTube.
Image: Netflix/YouTube. /

Season 3 of The Witcher has come and gone. After an epic battle on Thanedd Isle, the lives of Geralt of Rivia, Yennefer of Vengerberg, and Princess Cirilla have been irrevocably changed. What awaits them in their next chapter?

With filming on The Witcher season 4 delayed until 2024, it may be a while until we find out. But we’ll be going back to the Continent at least once more before we see Liam Hemsworth don the white wig as Geralt. There’s another live-action spinoff of The Witcher on the way: The Rats, which will feature the group of teenage bandits who Ciri met at the end of season 3.

What will The Rats be about, and when will we be able to watch it? Let’s go over everything we know about Netflix’s next Witcher spinoff.

Who are the Rats in The Witcher?

The Rats are a group of teenagers who turned to lives of banditry as a result of Nilfgaard’s expansion. Though they have been known to share their spoils with the masses, the Rats aren’t noble thieves like Robin Hood. They do what they want, whether it be killing Nilfgaardians, hoarding their spoils, or doling them out when they’re feeling generous.

The group consists of six members: Mistle, Iskra, Kayleigh, Reef, Asse, and their leader Giselher. Ciri also joined the group at the end of The Witcher season 3, going under the name Falka. Each has their own brutal backstory.

Kayleigh (Fabian McCallum) woke up in a plundered stronghold beside his slain family, where he was discovered by Reef (Juliette Alexandra), a Nilfgaardian soldier. Reef had been abandoned as well, since his fellow soldiers weren’t willing to care their wounded comrade. Reef spared Kayleigh’s life, and together the two took to banditry.

Giselher (Ben Radcliffe) was a Nilfgaardian army conscript who deserted. He wandered the wilds joining gangs of other deserters and fugitives. Eventually Giselher’s gang ran afoul of some elves in the forest. Following the battle, he met the elf Aenyeweddien, who took mercy on him and tended to his wounds. Giselher learned that this elf had been banished from her people, the equivalent of a death sentence. They decided to join forces, but since Giselher couldn’t properly pronounce her elven name, she adopted the nickname Iskra (Aggy K. Adams).

Mistle (Christelle Elwin) was a daughter of nobility whose father joined an uprising. After he was defeated and vanished, the entire town he lorded over was set upon by a punitive force. Mistle was separated from her family in the chaos. Unable to keep up with the other refugees due to her pampered upbringing, she was eventually captured by “manhunters” who forced her to undergo an invasive examination to determine whether she was still a virgin. Those manhunters were eventually set upon and killed by Nilfgaardians marauders, but rather than save Mistle, her new saviors raped her and left her for dead on the side of the road. It was there she was discovered by Asse (Connor Crawford), the son of a village blacksmith who had witnessed the deaths of his father, mother, and sisters at the hands of those same Nilfgaardians and who was hunting them for revenge.

Eventually, these three disparate groups of would-be outlaws met at a Lammas festival, where they were drawn to each other by their shared love of violence, gaudy displays of power, and contempt for the world. They formed a new gang, the Rats, which become legendary across the countryside for their daring heists and occasional spurt of benevolent redistribution of their victims’ funds to local townsfolk.

Image: Netflix/YouTube.
Image: Netflix/YouTube. /

What will The Rats be about?

While Netflix hasn’t officially announced The Rats, we do have a logline for the series:

"Six teenage thieves must rely on their criminal skills as they plan the biggest heist of their careers against the most dangerous crime ring in the kingdom."

From this description it sounds like it will be a prequel set before season 3, since once Ciri joins the group there are seven members. Other Witcher spinoff series like Nightmare of the Wolf and The Witcher: Blood Origin were prequels which explored specific elements of the franchise’s lore that were relevant to the following season of the mothership series. The Rats looks like it will do the same, since the Rats will feature prominently in The Witcher season 4.

As for the “crime ring,” we have heard mention of a particularly brutal one in The Witcher season 3 which is run by Dominik Bombastus Houvenaghel. In the season’s second episode, “Unbound,” Ciri rescues a dwarf from a member of this crime ring while she and Yennefer are visiting Keira Metz. Yennefer tells Ciri that Houvenaghel will likely send his vicious cousin Leo Bonhart to exact revenge on the town. Bonhart is a major villain for the rest of The Witcher Saga book series. We have reason to believe he’s in The Rats as well.

Who’s in the cast of The Rats?

Here are all the confirmed and rumored cast members for The Rats:

  • Ben Radcliffe (Giselher)
  • Christelle Elwin (Mistle)
  • Aggy K. Adams (Iskra)
  • Fabian McCallum (Kayleigh)
  • Juliette Alexandra (Reef)
  • Connor Crawford (Asse)
  • Dolph Lundgren (Brehen, a witcher of the Cat School)
  • Sharlto Copley (Leo Bonhart, unconfirmed)
  • Deoudone van der Merwe (rumored)
  • Warren Masemola (rumored)
  • Stevel Marc (rumored)
  • Max Boast (rumored)
  • Daniela Norman (rumored)

Beyond the Rats themselves, there are two notable castings we need to talk about. The first is ’80s action star Dolph Lundgren, who will play Brehen. Brehen is a witcher of the Cat School. He appears in Andrzej Sapkowski’s novel Season of Storms, which is set during the same time frame as season 1 of the TV show.

Then there’s Leo Bonhart, a brutal mercenary who has killed many witchers. The Witcher fansite Redanian Intelligence believes Bonhart will be played by South African actor Sharlto Copley, since Copley has been cast in a major role in both The Rats and The Witcher season 4. Bonhart is the first possibility that comes to mind, especially since the crime ring the Rats will be robbing is likely the one owned by Bonhart’s cousin, Dominik Bombastus Houvenaghel. Both characters are expected to appear in The Rats.

Is The Rats finished filming?

The Rats, codenamed “Riff Raff,” began filming in Cape Town, South Africa in April 2023. While the series was reportedly supposed to film from April to September, production wrapped months early on July 1. So yes, The Rats is done filming.

The far better question is what exactly does it mean for The Rats that principal photography was cut short? Redanian Intelligence says that The Rats was planned to be an eight-episode miniseries. But since it wrapped filming so early, we’re not so sure. There may be fewer episodes, or it might even have been repurposed as a movie. Remember, so far we haven’t had any official announcement from Netflix about what to expect from The Rats. Perhaps they’re reworking things behind the scenes.

What is The Rats release date on Netflix?

As of this writing, Netflix has yet to even officially confirm that The Rats has been greenlit. But given that filming has already finished, we’d be surprised if it doesn’t get released. Thus far, The Witcher franchise has released a spinoff between each season of the mothership series. We’re expecting the trend to continue, with The Rats dropping on Netflix sometime in mid-to-late-2024.

In the meantime, the first three seasons of The WitcherNightmare of the Wolf, and The Witcher: Blood Origin are all streaming on Netflix.

dark. Next. 5 best (and worst) book changes in The Witcher season 3

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