You Should Be Listening To: “The Once and Future Nerd”

You Should Be Listening To is a series where I talk up one of my favorite podcasts and explain why you should be listening, too. Each post gives an explanation of the show using the same five questions, including how best to listen and comparisons to other pieces of media. You can find all of my You Should Be Listening To posts here.

All About The Once and Future Nerd

What is The Once and Future Nerd?

The Once and Future Nerd is an independent, serialized fantasy/comedy/drama audio drama. The show has been running since September 2013 and is currently on its second “book.” The show follows a group of teenagers from current-day Pennsylvania who fall into a magical realm, somewhere between Game of Thrones and The Chronicles of Narnia.

Okay, but what is it really?

It’s a story about how trauma can shape people and remove artifice. It’s a story about toxic masculinity, racism, and what power is. It’s a story about who rules whom and why–and how that dynamic should always be questioned.

What makes it different from other podcasts?

Using a narrator to explain physical and action details is tricky in an audio drama, but it’s something The Once and Future Nerd does really well. I’m not normally one for the fantasy genre overall, but the show uses the setting as a way to build allegories for current events–sort of a reverse Futurama with more depth of commentary. It also does elves the best way. Instead of being Received Pronunciation British fancy, they’re Southern Old Money fancy, and it’s incredible.

When does it start to “get good?”

I’ll admit that it takes The Once and Future Nerd a little while to settle in, but it’s well worth the wait. While I think the first few episodes are still great fun–and absolutely must be listened to for exposition– the sixth episode, “The Princes of Iorden, Pt. 6” has the introduction of Regan, a character who is not only delightful but roots the story in more real-world problems.

Why should I be listening?

I’ve talked about my love for The Once and Future Nerd before, and I’ll likely say it forever. This show is my go-to pick for “Most Underrated Audio Drama.” The writing is great, it allows itself to be silly while still taking plot moments seriously when needed, and it isn’t shy about being political. The show also has a diverse cast of characters, including canon characters of color and LGBT+ characters.

Listen to The Once and Future Nerd if you like:

  • The D&D references and humor in Stranger Things
  • Traditional high fantasy like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones
  • Large-scale epics about revolution like Star Wars or The Hunger Games
  • The cutting discussions of race, masculinity, class, and power in Dear White People
  • Well-rounded characters that develop slowly like those in Bojack Horseman or Friday Night Lights

9 thoughts on “You Should Be Listening To: “The Once and Future Nerd”

  1. Hey, have I ever said that this is my favorite podcast? Cause it is. Also, if you like books by Tamora Pierce you’ll probably like this. God I love this show.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m always happy to hear how much others love TOAFN! I’ve never read a Tamora Pierce but from what I’ve heard, that’s a great comparison to draw. TOAFN is so, so, so good.


  2. hi, i just wanted to thank you for your review. i read it a few months back and it’s what got me interested in TOAFN in the first place. i got swamped with work though and like you mentioned, it takes the podcast a while to really get good, so i kinda stopped listening to it for a while and only started again recently. i’m slowly becoming more and more invested in it. but anyway, what i really want to thank you for is how detailed your review is. the whole “listen to… if you like…” part was so super helpful cause i was like “oh okay, literally all these things.” but honestly, you had me at “It’s a story about how trauma can shape people and remove artifice. It’s a story about toxic masculinity, racism, and what power is. It’s a story about who rules whom and why–and how that dynamic should always be questioned.” so yeah, i wanted to thank you. 🙂


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