Popular culture had some clear winners and losers in 2019. After years of build-up, the final season of HBO's Game of Thrones failed to live up to what most fans were expecting to see. Meanwhile, The Witcher on Netflix has proven to be one of the year's more surprising successes, resulting in renewed interest in both the books and video games. Based on the stories by Andrzej Sapkowski, the series immediately saw fans comparing The Witcher with the works of George R.R. Martin. The two franchises are quite a bit different, but even Sapkowski has drawn a line between the two. In front of a crowd at Warsaw Comic Con in 2018, the writer took a bit of a shot at HBO's series.
"I believe that my job as a creative consultant for this series is to make sure that at NO point in the show [will] Ed Sheeran sing. And that I will make sure doesn't happen. I will make sure."
Sapkowski's comments are in reference to an extended cameo made by Ed Sheeran during the seventh season of Game of Thrones. In the episode, Sheeran appears as a Lannister soldier, singing at a campfire before Arya Stark encounters his group. Sheeran's appearance in the episode was fairly blatant, and many fans complained at the time that his role was too distracting, and took away from the rest of the episode.
Of course, while Sheeran does not appear anywhere in season one of The Witcher, the show does feature its fair share of singing thanks to the character Jaskier. A friend to Geralt, the bard Jaskier has been embraced by viewers, unlike Sheeran's character. Many viewers have referred to Jaskier's songs as ear-worms, though Joey Batey, the actor who portrays him, has also found the songs stuck in his head long after finishing filming!
All in all, Sapkowski's comment was fairly innocuous, but one that had an unmistakable target. Sapkowski is, after all, known for being rather outspoken, so it comes as little surprise. As time goes on, it will be interesting to see if the show's fanbase embraces comparisons such as these, in the same way fans have long compared franchises like Star Trek and Star Wars.