[[quoteright:349:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Luteguy_8227.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:349:Hmm--did someone call for ''whimsy?'']]

->''"A wand'ring minstrel I, a thing of shreds and patches, of ballads, songs and snatches, and dreamy lullaby!"''
-->-- '''Nanki-Poo''', ''Theatre/TheMikado''

The wandering minstrel is a classic fantasy character and a frequent feature in many {{Ensembles}}. He wanders the land, making music for money. Generally carries a lute, (or sometimes a [[MagicalFlutist flute]]) and always has a song in his heart.

He rarely has any fighting ability, but he might have MagicMusic that makes him slightly more capable in battle.

The trope goes back at least to Alan-a-Dale, the minstrel friend of RobinHood (at least by Victorian times; Alan was a ''late'' addition to the mythos). The word "minstrel" comes from Latin ''ministerialis''-- "a functionary living as a member of the knightly class, with either a lordship of their own or one delegated from a higher lord." Fiefs were very often not self-supporting, and poor knights were forced to supplement their income by other means, such as traveling from court to court to offer services to various patrons-- one of which was entertainment.

There's also the French tradition of the troubadour/trouvere from the Middle Ages; singers and lutists that would wander around and compose songs of CourtlyLove. They were one of the first groups to take music from the sacred to the secular realm.

If a WanderingMinstrel is very lucky and very good, he can get a settled job as a court bard in a StandardRoyalCourt (see also TheJester). If unlucky, stuck as a StreetMusician. If exceptionally unlucky, one step above [[EveryoneHatesMimes street mime]] (with a similar level of hate from people in general).

Not to be confused with QuirkyBard or [[Creator/WilliamShakespeare The Bard]]; and especially not with a [[OnceAcceptableTargets Minstrel Show]].

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Comics ]]

* In ''{{Marvel 1602}}'', [[Comicbook/{{Daredevil}} Matt Murdock]] is a travelling bard.
* The simply named [[HisNameReallyIsBarkeep Minstrel]] who appears in ''ComicBook/GrooTheWanderer'' when Mark Evanier feels like [[GreekChorus doing all the exposition]] [[RhymesOnADime in rhyme]].

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film ]]

* ''Film/AKnightsTale'''s plot hinges on the fact that the protagonists meet a bard (and PluckyComicRelief) who can help forge the documents they need to "prove" that TheHero's of noble birth. Did I mention he just happens to be Creator/GeoffreyChaucer?
* Brave, brave Sir Robin of Camelot from ''Film/MontyPythonAndTheHolyGrail'', and again in the Broadway theatrical adaptation ''{{Spamalot}}'', has an entire band of minstrels follow him wherever he goes [[spoiler: until the rest of the party [[NoPartyLikeADonnerParty eats them during the winter]]]].

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Folklore ]]

* Literature/ThePiedPiperOfHamelin appears to be this.
* Blondel the Minstrel, in the 13th century legend of King RichardTheLionHeart, went from castle to castle in Europe, trying to discover where his master was being held, by singing a song they had composed together, until he heard the king singing the refrain from his cell. (Note that this is pure fable; at no time was Richard's location unknown, as his captors wanted everyone to ''know'' they were holding him.)

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature ]]

* When King Alfred is found by the norsemen in ''Literature/TheBalladOfTheWhiteHorse'', he convinces them he is "a rhymester without home". Since he is the forgotten king of an occupied country, who isn't even recognized by most of its peoples as anything other than a traveller with a harp, this is technically a true statement.
* The ''Literature/ChroniclesOfPrydain'' have Fflewddur Fflam, an inept minstrel whose lute snaps a string whenever he tells a lie. On the other hand, he's a surprisingly BadAss fighter. It turns out he's also a minor king.
* In the ''Literature/WheelOfTime'' books gleemen are traveling artists, masterful story tellers as well as skillful acrobats, and typically wear a cloak made of many colorful patches. Most skilled gleemen can play one sort of instrument or another, some examples are flute, or if more skillful, harp. Gleemen are allowed to go almost anywhere they wish, as nearly all commoners delight in or at least tolerate their presence, and are among the few that are allowed by the [[ProudWarriorRace Aiel]] to travel through their territory. The most skilled can even become court bards, usually discarding the patchwork cloak for silks as elegant as any noble's. Thom Merrlin is introduced as a gleeman, but was originally a court bard for queen Morgase.
* The nameless bard in ''Discworld/TheLastHero''. It's not clear whether he was one before he got shanghai'd by the Grey Horde, but at the end of the story it's implied that he'd be singing their saga all over the Disc.
* In ''[[EarthsChildren Shelters Of Stone]]'', there's a class of traveling story-tellers and musicians whose visits are highly anticipated in a world without TV or internet.
* Phyllis Eisenstein's Alaric the Minstrel fits the bill perfectly. (He can teleport back to any place he's ever been, but not anywhere he hasn't, so wandering widens his teleport range.)
* On Literature/{{Gor}} the Caste of Poets (or Singers) is basically this. They can go from town to town and spread news as well as poetry/songs, despite the normally xenophobic nature of many City-States.
* In the ''{{Dragaera}}'' novel ''Athyra'', Vlad encounters a female one of these from the house of Issola (Issola are often courtiers, but it's suggested that this would be the typical job of a lower ranking Issola), and a later novel, Iorich, suggests he might have had an [[InterspeciesRomance affair with her]] at some point.
* Jon Tom from ''{{Spellsinger}}'' is this plus MagicMusic.
* Sangfugol from ''MemorySorrowAndThorn'' is an example of this. Aside from being a [[TheLoad more or less useless]] companion to the protagonists, his sole claim to plot relevance is when it's suggested that he, having a similar build and hair color, [[BodyDouble impersonate Prince Josua]] during the FinalBattle. Needless to say, he reacts to the notion with horror.
* Bards can be this in the ''HeraldsOfValdemar'' series, but due to superior training and a touch of MagicMusic, they are seldom allowed to be just entertainment. Ordinary traveling minstrels wander The 'Verse, occasionally writing songs about the protagonists (to their embarrassment and/or irritation).
* In MikhailAkhmanov's ''Envoy from the Heavens'', Ivar Trevelian travels to a planet populated by HumanAliens whose culture has been stuck at Middle Ages for centuries with no push for progress or discovery (there's a whole continent waiting to be settled, but the population believes the world is flat). His job is to find out about this stagnation. He disguises himself as a member of the Rhapsod Brotherhood, a society of highly-respected wandering bards. He soon finds out they're much more than that, when a group of rhapsods wipes out a mercenary squad three times their number suffering only two casualties. Apparently, they also enact justice when TheEmpire fails to do so, usually when a nobleman is involved. They turn into vengeful warriors, all of them expert swordsmen and archers. After that, they return to their lutes and songs.
* The main characters and others in the ''Literature/BardicVoices'' series by Creator/MercedesLackey. There's the Guild Bards and Minstrels, the Free Bards (those that are good enough to be in the Guild, but can't because they're women, or don't like the Guild), and ordinary minstrels.
* Dandelion from ''Literature/TheWitcher'' novels and games is a world-famous bard who often travels with the titular hero, Geralt of Rivia. He sometimes gets in trouble for singing about the parts of their adventures that are supposed to remain secret.
* In MichaelFlynn's ''[[Literature/SpiralArm The January Dancer]]'', a woman appears in the opening by going into the bar and beginning to play.
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' has several, oft portrayed as handsome lads of dubious morals where ladies are concerned, and it seems almost a RunningGag for them to come to sticky ends. A nameless singer is mutilated on the orders of King Joffrey for a subversive song about Queen Cersei and the late King Robert, [[spoiler:Marillion is tortured into falsely confessing to Lysa Arryn's murder, Symon Silvertongue ends up in a pot of stew after trying to blackmail Tyrion, Dareon is murdered by Arya Stark after he deserts from the Nights Watch. Tom of Sevens is still alive, but his life expectancy as a spy for a gang of notorious outlaws isn't long either.]]

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[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* Cantus in ''FraggleRock'' is a mystical example.
* Gabrielle from ''{{Xena}}'' becomes a wandering Bard for a while, before becoming ActionGirl Jr.

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[[folder: Music ]]

* The eponymous Bard of ''[[Music/BlindGuardian The Bard's Song]]''.

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[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* The Bard class from ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'', at least when applied to adventurers.
** ''ForgottenRealms'' got classical (mentioned from ''DragonMagazine'' #74 on) character Mintiper Moonsilver "the Lonely Harpist". As footnotes in "[[http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/archfr/mc Mintiper's Chapbook]]" tell, tales of the AuthorAvatar "Lunargent" are excerpts from Mintiper's own adventures he deemed most interesting, yet even some sages think it must be an embellished compilation, because even for a legendary figure like him it's too much. He SeenItAll, traveled everywhere and gave a concert even in Underdark (for drow and local fairies) at least once.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Theatre ]]

* This is Nanki-Poo's disguise in ''Theatre/TheMikado'' by Creator/GilbertAndSullivan:
-->''A wandering minstrel I -\\
A thing of shreds and patches,\\
Of ballads, songs and snatches,\\
And dreamy lullaby!\\
My catalogue is long,\\
Through every passion ranging,\\
And to your humours changing\\
I tune my supple song!''
* Like in the film that inspired it, [[BlatantLies brave, brave]] Sir Robin of Camelot has an entire band of minstrels follow him wherever he goes in ''{{Spamalot}}''.
* In ''Theatre/HenryIVPart2'', Hal and a friend disguise themselves as minstrels to get into Falstaff's house and prank him.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* The main character of ''TheBardsTale'' spoofs this character type.
* The main character of ''VideoGame/DragonQuestIX'' poses as one/becomes one near the beginning of the game.
* In ''VideoGame/DragonQuestIV'', Laurel, one of the two mercenaries you meet in Torneko's chapter, is a former minstrel who gave up the life because it didn't pay him well enough.
* In ''VideoGame/KingsQuestIV'', Rosella encounters a wandering minstrel who is terrible at making music. She helps him by giving him a book of Creator/WilliamShakespeare, which leads him to decide he wants to be an actor instead.
* Leliana from ''Franchise/DragonAge'', at least in her life before the Chantry. Of course, "bards" are more often than not professional spies, but their job still involves considerable amounts of musical entertainment. In Orlais it's apparently an exciting spice to a party to know that the performing bard might be spying on you, or planning to assassinate you. Appropriately for a bard, Leliana is the most GenreSavvy person in your party.
* Hurdy of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTacticsA2'' is one of these, and can [[MagicMusic use his music to cast buffs/debuffs.]] He's arguably one of the most useful support characters in the whole game.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIV'' has a recurring NPC called... well, [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin the Wandering Minstrel]], who is an AuthorAvatar of the game's director Naoki Yoshida.
* Toyed with in ''FireEmblemJugdral''. Levin ''pretends'' to be one of these in the first part of ''Seisen'' when in reality he's a KingIncognito, whereas Homeros from ''Thracia 776'' is more of the real deal. Both of them are also [[BlowYouAway Wind Magic users.]]
** Played somewhat straighter in ''FireEmblemElibe'', with Elphin and Nils. [[spoiler: The first is ''another'' KingIncognito, hiding after an assassination attempt; the second is a ReallySevenHundredYearsOld half-dragon boy.]]
* In ''RomancingSaga'' and its UpdatedRerelease ''Romancing Saga: Minstrel Song'', The Minstrel hangs out in the local pub and serves as MrExposition, and can be recruited if you talk to him enough times. However, he leaves whenever you visit the next bar, and depending on the player's actions, may become completely unrecruitable late in the game, depending on whether or not you [[spoiler: complete the Trials of Elore and discover his identity]].
* ''{{Okami}}'' introduces [[MrExposition Issun]] as "Wandering Minstrel Issun".
* ''VideoGame/TheSimsMedieval'': The Bard Hero Sim, whose duty is to gather inspiration from around the kingdom in order to write plays, perform poetry, and play the lute to entertain the populace.
* Wandering minstrels infest the streets in ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedII'', and they're always pestering people ([[PlayerCharacter Ezio]] in particular) for money.
** In ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedRevelations'' Ezio is utterly delighted when he discovers that a party he needs to infiltrate hired some italian minstrels as entertainers. He gleefully [[MuggedForDisguise beats them up for their outfits]] and spends the rest of the mission [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=se4Aek5X4CM singing little ditties]] [[TakeThat lampooning]] the enemies and [[LeaningOnTheFourthWall annoyances]] from his earlier games.
-->''I am a tactless minstrel
--> [[MostAnnoyingSound I sing off-key for coins]]
--> If you see me in the street
-->[[GroinAttack please kick me in the loins]].''
* In ''VideoGame/KingdomOfLoathing'', choosing the [[NewGamePlus Avatar of Boris challenge path]] replaces your familiar slot with Boris's trusty bard [[FailOSuckyname Clancy]], who plays songs after combat with effects that differ depending on which instrument he's using.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Webcomics ]]

* The protagonist of the old ''Webcomic/MSPaintAdventures'' comic ''Bard Quest''. He arrives to the king's castle as this, but quickly gets roped into dragon-slaying business instead.
* Elan from ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick''.
* Roxanne in ''RustyAndCo.'' Also an ActionGirl.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original ]]

* The Music-Human from ''Machinima/WaterHuman'', who pops up at the end of episode three to [[MediumAwareness play the outro]]. In episode four, he inexplicably has a new look: a costume decorated with musical notation.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* The singing nomads the [=GAang=] encounters in ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' are half wandering minstrels, half {{New Age Retro Hippie}}s [[note]][[EarWorm Secret tunnel! "Secret tunnel!"]][[/note]].
* On ''MuppetBabies'', during a MedievalEuropeanFantasy sequence, Rowlf took the role until Piggy could take no more of his music.
* This was the career wish of one [[GentleGiant Mikey Blumberg]] from WesternAnimation/{{Recess}}.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/LiloAndStitchTheSeries'' episode "Tank", Weird Al Yankovic [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBi46T1BnJo voiced a singing minstrel]] who follows the duo around narrating their triumphs and woes (eventually leading to Stitch just smashing the minstrel's guitar to get him to stop.)
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