By Luis Navarro, Staff Writer, P.F.I. Co-Host
*Minor Spoilers Ahead*
The Witcher series is brimming with great side characters, many of whom are close friends of Geralt, the main protagonist. Characters such as Lambert, Eskel, Zoltan, and even Roche have all aided Geralt in many of his adventures. However, there is another character whose contributions to the story are far more significant. It is none other than the man, the myth, the legend Julian Alfred Pankratz, better known as Dandelion.
For those unfamiliar with Dandelion, he is a renowned poet throughout the continent who brings musical delights to all audiences. Few can match his lyricism, and none can replicate his style. He is comfortable saying things as they are, often providing some of the most thought-provoking points in the entire witcher franchise.
For many reasons, Dandelion is a character beloved by the vast majority of The Witcher fandom. At first glance, he is the comedic relief that brings a sense of light-heartedness to an otherwise dark and sad world. When you consider that these moments are few and far between, Dandelion’s brand of optimism and half-full outlook on life brings about a necessary balance to the tone of the story. As much as one loves to follow along with Geralt’s lonely adventures, Yennefer’s tragic transformation into a powerful sorcerer, and Ciri’s traumatic experiences, The Witcher as entertainment is a form of escapism, and Dandelion is the character who brings that comfort to the audience and even the characters themselves.
What makes Dandelion so endearing, however, is how relatable he is to audiences far and wide. While Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri all share characteristics that make them relatable, Dandelion is the most sympathetic. As talented as he may be, he is still what you would consider an ordinary person, at least in a world full of magical beings. Throughout the books, games, and the show, we see him simply trying to get by in a ruthless world while pursuing his passion – not unlike our contemporary selves.
Yet there is arguably no one who holds him as dear as Geralt – yes, the man who is a proficient killing machine with a cynical sense of humor. While neither the books nor the games explicitly state how these two wandering souls met, we get an idea of how it happened in the Netflix show The Witcher. While looking for work in Posada, Geralt witnesses one of Jaskier’s performances (Dandelion is known as Jaskier in the show). While not exactly thrilled by it, he shows respect towards Jaskier, unlike the other patrons at the inn. That was all it took for Jaskier to decide that it would be a good idea to follow this grumpy social outcast to the edge of the world in the hunt of a monster, knowing the risks associated with this undertaking.
Why would Geralt bring along Dandelion on this adventure and many more to come, considering Jaskier’s relative lack of utility in combat?
Dandelion’s contributions toward Geralt’s reputation cannot be understated. By promoting Geralt’s work through his ballads, Dandelion reshaped how common folk and nobility perceived Geralt and helped him land work wherever he went. No longer was Geralt seen as a feared and despicable monster, but rather a respected Master Witcher who should be tossed a coin after rendering his services.
On a more personal level, Dandelion’s importance is even greater. He keeps Geralt grounded in his humanity. The Witcher series may appear to be a story about killing monsters, but it is just as much about Geralt’s character growth. With Dandelion’s help, we see him transition from the Butcher of Blaviken to the White Wolf, not just in the eyes of those around him, but in his own eyes too. This change allows the audience to see a more compassionate, emotional side to Geralt, one long hidden underneath a stoic facade and his witcher code.
Geralt’s friendship with Dandelion also undoubtedly plays a role in his romance with Yennefer and his parental relationship with Ciri. Their circumstances made it difficult for the three of them to coexist without any tribulations. Dandelion’s presence, and the support he provides them with, are a few of the reasons they manage to stay together despite the many traumas they suffer throughout the series.
Dandelion is a man who will do what he can to help those deemed beyond saving. In the second season of the show, when confronted by Yennefer on why he was helping the elves flee to Cintra, he states:
“I was at the great oak Bleobheris when it was raided. The Seat of Friendship, the druids called it. Where every free thinker was welcome, no matter their race, their creed … they come for the elves, Yennefer. They’ll come for the dwarves. And sooner or later, they will come for everyone. Anyone that they deem the ‘other’, so … eventually, no artist is safe.”
Dandelion understands what it is like to be an outcast who doesn’t align with the rules of his time, who must blend with the rejects living life as a target of blame. That is why he sympathizes with Geralt, who has suffered discrimination for being a mutant. These shared experiences formed the basis for the bonds of their friendship. Over time, Geralt developed a soft spot for Dandelion, caring for his well-being as much as Ciri’s and Yennefer’s.
Dandelion’s purpose is much more than just making jokes and singing lovely tunes. He is a serious and complex character who helps drive the plot forward, and whose main strength is the ability to care for others, much like Geralt. Most importantly, he is a loyal friend who encourages Geralt to get out of his comfort zone and embrace his humanity.
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