Critical Role is a web series that brings together a group of professional voice actors and plays the Dungeons & Dragons desktop role-playing game.
The series began in March 2015, halfway through the story of the players’ first game. The first season of the series ended in October 2017 after 115 episodes and a total of 448 hours of airtime. The second season of the series started in January 2018 with new characters and ended in June 2021 after 141 episodes. Several one-shot games were played between the two seasons. After the conclusion of the second season, the miniseries Exandria Unlimited aired from June 2021 to August 2021. The third season aired on October 21, 2021.
The series airs every Thursday of the week at 7 p.m. Pacific Time on the Critical Role Twitch and YouTube channels. Each episode streams immediately after the stream ends and is accessible to Critical Role Twitch subscribers. Episodes will be uploaded to the Critical Role YouTube channel on the first Monday after airing. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, all episodes were broadcast live. However, from the 100th episode of the second season, previously taped episodes will be aired.
The actors own the intellectual property of the series, and the series lends its name to Critical Role Productions, the production studio founded by the leads. Since 2018, this studio has been producing Critical Role and Talks Machina, the talk show that aired after most episodes of the second season of Critical Role. Several licensed products have been released in connection with the series, including a book and some comics that serve as a guide to the setting in which the second season is set. There is also an animated series based on the first season of Critical Role, The Legend of Vox Machina, released on October 28, 2022.
The main cast consists of Travis Willingham, Taliesin Jaffe, Liam O’Brien, Sam Riegel, Ashley Johnson, Laura Bailey and Marisha Ray, with game manager (“Dungeon Master” or “Game Master”) Matthew Mercer. Programs such as Talks Machina and Behind the Sheets were hosted by Brian W. Foster, but Foster later left the team.