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The Jaskier detail that really bothers Witcher fans

There's a lot to absorb in the inaugural season of Netflix's adaptation of The Witcher, especially if you hadn't read any of the books before it premiered in January of 2020. Lots of characters and a complicated loom of interwoven motives meant keeping track of quite a bit all at once, but some Witcher fans have noticed something that, while not a huge issue, doesn't help a newcomer to the franchise follow along. A Reddit user posed a clarifying question to their fellow, more knowledgeable fans: "Okay so just finished watching the series for the third time, and is quickly becoming one of my favourite shows. Half way through playing Witcher 3 and have just ordered the last wish. But it's super bugging me why Jaskier doesn't age? He cracks a joke in the Djin [sic] episode about What is time ... but is there an actual reason in the show that I missed or in the game books?"

It's not a question you're necessarily given to considering yourself until it's brought to your attention, but even without knowing any strict numbers, it's clear that a fair amount of years pass in The Witcher's first season, though time is not treated linearly in order to enhance the theme of fate on which the whole franchise is built. Let's get into the particulars of Jaskier's age, the canonical discrepancies from page to screen, and why this showrunner-admitted mistake needs a little more context.

A confusing oversight for The Witcher

The first thing to understand — and given the non-linear timeline, it may not be obvious — is that The Witcher's first season covers multiple decades. Jaskier should appear at least somewhat different. When he and Geralt (Henry Cavill) first meet during the kidnapping misadventure with the elves, he's about 20 years old. Fifteen years pass between the meeting and the djinn adventure in "Bottled Appetites," and the last time we see him and Geralt together, during the dragon hunt, it's 8 years since they parted each other's company, which would mean Jaskier's pushing 40 by then. At one point, Jaskier notes how long it's been since they last saw one another, and that's not him being dramatic — it's really been that long. Netflix has a handy-dandy interactive timeline for you, if you're interested.

Lauren Hissrich, showrunner for The Witcher, has admitted during a Reddit AMA that this was an oversight on her part: "[W]e dropped the ball on aging him up over the course of the show. It's hard to show the passage of time when everyone looks the same, so we'll be approaching that differently in S2." Someone specifically asked whether or not the iconic bonnet that makes Jaskier so recognizable in the video games would make it into the series, possibly to denote the passage of time, and Hissrich responded with a surprise: "Ah, yes, the hat! It was made, we tried it on Joey [Batey, the actor who plays Jaskier], and we couldn't stop laughing." That's fair — Jaskier exists to add levity to the grumpy stormcloud that is Geralt's life, but there are limits. 

The Witcher keeps its Jaskier options open

Though Hissrich admits her chronology mistake, the fact remains that Jaskier as he appears in the Netflix adaptation is a substantial departure from both the books and the video games. For one, his name isn't quite the same — they used the literal Polish name as opposed to his English-translation name, Dandelion. His relationship with Geralt is much more fraught and difficult in the new series, ending in total rejection at the end of the dragon hunt. Some fans argue his personality is different. The circumstances in which he meets the titular Witcher are a little different in the Netflix version, too. At this point, we can only assume that these departures in Jaskier's characterization are meant to serve a thematic purpose to be expounded upon later.

In the Reddit thread discussing Jaskier's seeming immortality, one user makes a curious point: "Yeah, it's almost implied in the books that like Yennifer he has some more recent elven ancestry than compared with most people... Also he has friends who are mages, magical elixirs exist in the witches [sic] world for purpose. And not to spoil later seasons but Jaskier has some serious connections, he is highly educated which in a medieval/renaissance type setting means he is a member of a wealthy family." Perhaps Hissrich is keeping her options open in terms of where she intends to take Jaskier in future seasons.