Best Bards in Pop Culture

Posted by Rose Moore

Netflix’s The Witcher finally proves that it is possible for a live-action adaptation of a video game to be a smash hit, even if uber-fans know that it’s really an adaptation of a book series to start with. Fans are loving the intricate timeline, the incredible swordfights, and of course, Geralt’s wide-ranging vocabulary.

It’s not just Geralt that fans love, though. The character that may well be the ultimate spotlight-stealer isn’t the powerful Yennefer or the magical Ciri, but the singing sensation that is Jaskier. Originally called Dandelion in the books, Jaskier is the perfect Bard; he’s wandering the realm, creating catchy stories and tunes for money, seducing everyone he can get his hands on, and acting as both narrator and comic relief. So toss a coin to your Witcher, and celebrate all the other pop culture Bards we love, from Gilmore Girls to Harry Potter.



The Town Troubadour from Gilmore Girls

Every small town needs a troubadour and every Gilmore Girls fan accepts that as fact! Played by Grant Lee Phillips, this recurring character could always be found in the background of Stars Hollow, playing the perfect, appropriate song for the moment. At first, he could be presumed to be just any old busker, but it was slowly revealed that he was actually rarely accepting money, and driving away any other busker types. He was even granted the official title of Town Troubadour in the end. A high honor!


Alan-A-Dale/The Rooster from Robin Hood

According to legend, Alan-A-Dale was a minstrel who joined the Merry Men, Robin Hood’s band of thieves. In the Disney adaptation of the stories, Alan-A-Dale is also a rooster! This lute-playing bird acts as narrator for the tale of Robin Hood and his foxy schemes, part of the story while he tells it, and combining songs and spoken narration. He’s the perfect example of a bard, even if he is an animated bird.


The Singing Cowboy from Ballad Of Buster Scruggs

He may not look the way that we expect a bard to look. (Shouldn’t bards be carrying lutes and wearing a doublet and something with velvet or lacing?) But the singing cowboy of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is definitely a bard-type. He swings into town, playing a song, telling his story. Then, he causes all kinds of trouble (and is utterly charming while he does it), before eventually being beaten by another singing cowboy. If Westerns had Bards, the singing cowboy would absolutely be one of them.


Chaucer from A Knight’s Tale

Chaucer may not sing, but that doesn’t actually mean that he isn’t a bard. Bards were more than musicians, they are also storytellers and speech-makers, and usually have the support (and financing) of a richer lord. For Chaucer (Paul Bettany), this couldn’t be more appropriate. He’s a storyteller, a writer, living off the support of his Knight (or fake-knight, as the case may be)… and of course, he’s got the over the top style and many vices that we expect from our Bards in pop culture.


Beedle the Bard

Last, but by no means least, we turn to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This is an interesting case, as Beedle was clearly a bard (it’s baked right into the title), but he’s also a character that doesn’t appear in the franchise in person. Instead, we only know of Beedle through his stories, that are passed down for generations and are instrumental in Harry and the Golden Trio’s victories. He might have sung, he may have simply been a storyteller, but no matter what, he lived on through his words—and that’s the hope of any bard!