We characterize the Casimir forces for the Dirac vacuum on free-fermionic chains with smoothly varying hopping amplitudes, which correspond to (1+1)-dimensional [(1+1)D] curved spacetimes with a static metric in the continuum limit. The first-order energy potential for an obstacle on that lattice corresponds to the Newtonian potential associated with the metric, while the finite-size corrections are described by a curved extension of the conformal field theory predictions, including a suitable boundary term. We show that for weak deformations of the Minkowski metric, Casimir forces measured by a local observer at the boundary are universal. We provide numerical evidence for our results on a variety of (1+1)D deformations: Minkowski, Rindler, anti–de Sitter (the so-called rainbow system), and sinusoidal metrics. Moreover, we show that interactions do not preclude our conclusions, exemplifying this with the deformed Heisenberg chain.