Series / Highlander
aka: Highlander The Series

"He is Duncan MacLeod, the Highlander. Born in 1592 in the Highlands of Scotland, and he is still alive. He is immortal. For four hundred years, he's been a warrior... a lover... a wanderer, constantly facing other Immortals in combat to the death. The winner takes his enemy's head, and with it, his power. I am a Watcher, part of a secret society of men and women who observe and record, but never interfere. We know the truth about Immortals. In the end, there can be only one. May it be Duncan MacLeod, the Highlander."
Joe Dawson, Opening Narration from the latter seasons.

Highlander: The Series was the 1992-1997 series that was inspired by the popular Highlander film franchise. It starred British actor Adrian Paul as Duncan MacLeod, the younger kinsman of the film's central character, Connor MacLeod. Initially, there was uncertainty as to whether the film character would be recast or a new character created; even Adrian Paul wasn't certain who he would be playing for a time. But the decision was made to develop a whole new character for the series.

The central premise was a bit predictable at times; Duncan would encounter an old immortal enemy, or an immortal friend with someone after him, and the episode would end with Duncan battling his opponent and beheading them. Modern day scenes were interspersed with flashbacks from earlier periods in Duncan's life, usually his first encounter with the enemy of the week. The constant violence did draw criticism at times, and eventually, the networks required that a couple of episodes each season end without a beheading. Even these episodes, however, still usually featured a situation that Duncan could only escape because he was immortal, Unfortunately, these episodes tend to be the least popular of the whole series.

There were some unavoidable Continuity Snarls between the films and the series, though many things were retconned to fit in with the series canon. Still, the series managed to be appealing to fans of the film franchise, and it gained a cult following that still exists today.

The series was a French-Canadian co-production, which resulted in Duncan beginning each season in the fictional city of Seacouver, in the Pacific Northwest of North America, either the US or Canada. The name was actually Ascended Fanon, the city originally had no name and the Fan Nickname combining Seattle and Vancouver was eventually adopted. Midway through the season, something would prompt Duncan to travel to Paris, where he would spend the rest of the season. The exception to this was Season 6, which took place entirely in Paris.

Initially, the core cast was Duncan, played by Adrian Paul; Duncan's longtime lover, Tessa Noel, played by Belgian actress Alexandra Vandernoot; and Richie Ryan, a streetwise teen befriended by Duncan after he attempted to break into Mac's antique shop, played by American actor Stan Kirsch. But Vandernoot didn't like the long commutes for the Canada half of the season, and chose to leave the series after season 1, when her father became ill. However, she did return for a two part plot as a Tessa lookalike Magic Plastic Surgery gambit intended to take Duncan out.

The series' other two characters were introduced after Vandernoot's departure. Jim Byrnes played Joe Dawson, Duncan's friend and a member of the Watchers, a secret society dedicated to recording the lives of the immortals they studied. They were forbidden from contacting their subjects, but Joe and Duncan broke the rules and ultimately changed the group forever. Peter Wingfield played Methos, the 5,000 year old legendary immortal who was once "Death" of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and terrorized Bronze Age Europe. Another recurring character was Duncan's on and off lover Amanda Darieux, the 1,000yr old immortal Classy Cat-Burglar whom Duncan once described as a 'bad habit'.

There was a large Internet Backdraft and fan backlash following the death of one of the characters at the end of season 5, and many fans choose to deny the sixth season even exists. It is agreed that the show suffered a big drop in episode quality in season 6, whose episodes were primarily an attempt to find a female character other than Amanda to use in a spinoff. Initially, the character of Alex Raven was to be used, leading to the spinoff being named Highlander: The Raven, but it was ultimately decided to use Amanda anyway.

The series also featured in the fourth and fifth films, Highlander: Endgame and Highlander: The Source, neither of which was well received by fans.

Has a character page.

The entire show can viewed on Youtube here

This series provides examples of:

  • Above Good and Evil: For some, being alive for centuries can create quite the God complex.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Not as bad as some examples, but still crops up on occasion. Duncan has cut cleanly through both another sword and a heavy wooden desk.
  • Action Girl: Amanda, she's a skilled thief and fighter and even has some years as a professional acrobat under belt. She's also all to quick to rush into danger if gets her what she wants.
  • Actually Not a Vampire: The episode "The Vampire" features what appears to be a string of vampire attacks in South London in 1840. The victims in Paris all have missing blood and piercing wounds on their neck. There's even a Van Helsing-type character hunting the vampire. He catches him too, only to be shocked when the vampire gets up from being staked. Turns out the vampire was an immortal faking vampire attacks so that he could kill his young bride and inherit her money. He drains the blood of his victims with a special hypodermic cane, which leaves bite marks.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Many of Duncan MacLeod's friends refer to him as "Mac" for short.
  • All There in the Manual: The Watcher Chronicles CD Rom contains a wealth of information about every character seen (and, in some cases, characters only mentioned) on the series. There was also a series of eight novels (a ninth was outlined but never written) that fleshed out certain characters and situations. Both the CD and the novels are canonical.
  • The Ageless: A potential immortal has to die first in order to resurrect, and whatever age they were is the age they remain once they are immortal.
  • Always Save the Girl: Duncan has this bad and several people use this against him, repeatedly.
  • An Axe to Grind: Caleb packs one, and Duncan ends up using it against him in their duel. Kanwulf was very attached to his, and spends three hundred or so years looking for it after Duncan steals it.
  • Anti-Hero: Methos has survived for millenia by not getting hung up on conventional morality. He is cold and ruthless in his dealings with enemies, but is fiercely protective of those he considers his friends.
  • Arc Words: "In the end, there can be only one."
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When Methos (under his alias of Adam) meets an imposter claiming to be Methos and promoting Immortals to stop fighting, the imposter points out that just staying alive for five thousand years isn't the same as living.
    Fake Methos: Can anyone live for 5,000 years and say they did nothing? Risked nothing? Merely stayed alive. It'd be pointless.
  • Artistic License – History: Like the film, the series got the location of the MacLeod clan lands wrong, and also the chief living in the village with the clan. (Unless Ian was an underchief, which is possible). Also the snowy Waterloo, an unavoidable weather issue during filming.
  • The Atoner: Darius, who went from being a violent general to a priest when it took the head of a holy man and took on some of his goodness.
    • Also, Kirin who spent centuries only caring about making money but when his actions led to the massacre of children in Cambodia, he spent the remaining decades trying to make up for his actions.
  • Back for the Finale: Tessa, Richie, Kronos, and Horton all show up in the series finale as part of the It's a Wonderful Plot so that Duncan sees what would have happened to them if he had never been around. Fitz also returns, taking the role of the guardian angel who shows Duncan why he's made things better for everyone.
  • Ballistic Discount: An episode of the series did this with swords. An Immortal walked into an antiques shop that sold assorted bladed weaponry. He asked the proprietor to show him an authentic sword that could stand up to the stresses of combat. The Immortal tested and took a Toledo sword by stabbing the proprietor with it.
  • Barbarian Longhair: For the older flashbacks, though Duncan sported it in the modern day too, when it wasn't in a ponytail. He and Connor both had it during their clan days-and the Scots were often considered 'barbarians'/savages by people like the British. Methos and the other Horsemen also sported long hair during the Bronze Age scenes.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: Done in one episode of the series, justified since immortals don't have to worry much about injuries due to their Healing Factor.
  • Battle Couple: Duncan and Amanda, both centuries old master sword fighters.
  • Beautiful Slave Girl: Cassandra, when she's captured by The Four Horseman and Methos takes her as a slave
  • Been There, Shaped History: Immortality, plus a severe case of Chronic Hero Syndrome, put Duncan in the middle of a lot of historic confrontations.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: In "The Modern Prometheus", Lord Byron is revealed to have been not only an Immortal, but a pupil of Methos. During a scuffle with another Immortal, Byron was spotted by a drunk Mary Shelley. The sight of Byron healing from his wounds, plus the Quickening which ensued, were the inspiration for Shelley's Frankenstein.
    • The Watcher Chronicles CD-Rom lists several other aliases Byron has used over the years. Among them is James Douglas Morrison.
  • Big Bad: The show usually didn't have these, usually opting instead for Arc Villains or Monsters of the Week, but there were two notable exceptions. Season 2 had James Horton, and Season 3 had Kalas, although only for a few episodes near the beginning and at the end of the season. Ahriman starts out as this in Season 5 and 6, but the threat is gone by the end of the second episode.
  • Bullying a Dragon / Mugging the Monster: A 1795 flashback features rookie immortal Jean-Phillipe de Lefaye III, barely 25-years-old, finishing basic training under Duncan and already certain that he can take any opponent. He has a chance meeting with another immortal and immediately challenges him to a duel. He mocks the apparent reluctance of his opponent to fight, his piety, how the man abstains from drinking and wenching. On the first day the other immortal, Damon Case, refuses the challenge. It is implied that he is returning from a battle to the death but Jean-Phillipe does not catch on. On the second day he challenges the man again and is eager for an easy victory. Case accepts the challenge and kills him with minimal effort. It is soon revealed that Case was a c. 700-year-old veteran of the The First Crusade and had a Warrior Monk mentality. All this time the rookie was taunting a much more experienced and deadlier opponent.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Methos. He's survived for so long by not getting involved.
  • Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them: Duncan and Amanda have a centuries-long off/on relationship, with her usually showing up when she needs his help to steal something, and him eventually helping her while trying to reform her. They genuinely care for each other, but neither is willing to change.
  • The Caper: Amanda, frequently.
  • Cassandra Truth: Cassandra, whose initial efforts to get Duncan and Joe to believe her about Kronos, Methos and The Horsemen meet with some extreme doubt.
  • Chandelier Swing: "Song of the Executioner"
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Being harassed by lowlifes? Got an immortal psycho on your case? Want your fence painted?! Just call Duncan MacLeod!
  • Classy Cat-Burglar: Amanda.
  • Changeling Tale: Duncan's clan believed he was Switched at Birth.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Methos and a number of the bad guys. Xavier St. Cloud and Morgan D'Estaing were known to use nerve gas and curare to push the odds in their favor, with Xavier later sending gun-wielding mortals after targets. Peter Kanis used attack dogs to soften up his targets before moving in for the kill. Slan Quince had a projectile dagger built into the pommel of his sword. Johnny Kelly was a threat to MacLeod only because he preferred to use a sniper rifle than engage in a straight-up swordfight. Some, like Andrew Cord, did not have a gimmick and were simply damn impressive fighters who weren't limited by any particular rules or disciplines.
  • Cool Car: Duncan's T-Bird.
  • Create Your Own Villain: It was Methos and Don Salzer's idea to create a database for The Watchers to track Immortals in the modern age. Nice job, guys.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Adam Pierson is a mild-mannered Watcher researcher. He's actually Methos, the oldest living Immortal and formerly Death of the Four Horsemen from Bronze Age mythology. People who know this usually just see him lounging around drinking beer and avoiding fights.
  • Cultured Badass: Duncan. In spades! A lover of opera, a reader of poetry, a bit of a gourmand, a lover of fine art, a skilled dancer, a collector of fine antiques, and is qualified to teach history at the college level. He's also fought in Waterloo, the Spanish Civil War, World War II, is trained in who-knows-how-many martial arts, and has survived for 400 years by chopping the heads off of his enemies with a katana.
    • Justified - he's had plenty of time to develop all of these skills.
  • The Cynic: Methos, making him a foil for idealist Duncan.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Methos has probably forgotten more about this trope than most people have learned. I guess living for five millennia has a tendency to make one a trifle cynical. He mellows a bit the more time he spends with Duncan.
  • Death-Activated Superpower: The first death reveals their immortality and stops their aging.
  • Decapitation Required: What did you think the swords were for? Slicing bread?
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: In the flashback portion of Duende, we see a romance develop between MacLeod and Theresa, who is newly betrothed to another Immortal. Her intended husband promptly challenges Duncan to a duel. It's pointed out in the episode commentary that the audience is going to automatically sympathize with the couple that is genuinely in love and side against the petty (and, we find, murderous) fiancee . . . but MacLeod is actively pursuing a woman who is about to be married, and within the society of that time and place, he's absolutely in the wrong.
  • Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest: Lisa Milon.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Happens in the series finale, when Duncan convinces Methos to take the outfit of an unconscious underling so that they can fool O'Rourke. Methos almost lampshades it with the line "You know, this 'Bad guy just my size' routine never works, MacLeod. " Less than a minute later, he proves it DOES work, by donning an Irish accent along with the bad guy's coat and shooting the other henchmen.
  • The Drifter: After a while people start to notice that you never get a new wrinkle or grey hair, and it's time to pull up stakes and find a new place in which to settle for a decade or so.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Charlie in the second episode of season four, and Richie in the fifth season finale.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Appears in the episode "Courage".
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first half of Season One set in Seacouver has a few story elements that were later dropped such as the police investigating the beheaded Immortals and the reporter investigating Duncan. Also, episodes featuring Duncan dealing with mortal antagonists that were not The Watchers were gradually reduced after the first season and eliminated by the middle of the show's run.
  • Enfant Terrible: Supposedly ten-year-old Kenny, whose M.O. is convincing other Immortals of his helplessness, then taking their heads.
  • Eternal Love: The DeValincourts, for the most part. Others have pointed out to them that "In the end, there can be only one," but they retort that it's not "the end" yet, and until that time comes, they can still enjoy their lives together.
    • Duncan and Amanda have a very long-standing on-again-off-again relationship.
  • Exploited Immunity: One villain used a dark room to blind his opponents while wearing night-vision goggles. Duncan thwarted this by using a lit match to blind the guy long enough to take him out.
  • Faking the Dead: When an Immortal can't pass for the age on their ID anymore, it's time to stage an accidental house fire, or just forge a death certificate, and pick a new name and city in which to live.
    • Or a person might be killed and their killer will drop his guard, unaware that his victim is Immortal and will resurrect in a few minutes.
  • Fanservice: Duncan frequently went shirtless, and was naked in a bathtub at least once.
    • Former Miss America and Playboy model Elizabeth Gracen (Amanda) had her moments, too.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Methos, during the 'reunion of the Horsemen' arc.
  • Flash Back: At least once an episode, giving the audience the history of a certain character. Since Immortals live for so long, many situations they face are in some way related to events in their past.
  • The Fog of Ages: Even before meeting him, Duncan has heard that Methos is five thousand years old. Methos tells him that he's actually older, possibly much older, but "before that, it all starts to blur".
    • This is subverted in the Methos Chronicles, showing that he actually remembers his full life and only claims to have forgotten it.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Although the series is never gory about it, the fact remains that in the vast majority of episodes, one or more characters ends up with his or her head being cut off by the hero. Despite this being a radical escalation from the usual "hero shoots the bad guy to death" level of violence usually seen in action TV shows, this didn't stop the series from being shown on Saturday mornings by some broadcasters (thanks to Gory Discretion Shot, below).
  • Going for the Big Scoop: Randi, the relentless reporter chick in season one's first half. She was determined to learn Duncan's secret.
  • Good-Guy Bar: Joe's.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: But lost limbs don't grow back. Injuries to the neck also don't seem to fully heal, such as when Duncan tried to behead Kalas but only succeeded in wrecking his vocal chords. Since Kalas used to be a singer, he's still VERY pissed off about it.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Once an Episode, at least minus the ep or two a season where someone *isn't* beheaded. Absolutely necessary for an otherwise family-friendly series (aired on Saturday mornings in some areas) in which decapitation is actually a core aspect of the concept.
  • Handicapped Badass: Joe Dawson, who has no legs and can still kick your ass all day long.
  • Healing Factor: Immortals don't get sick, and recover from flesh wounds and broken bones in a matter of minutes. Lost limbs (and heads) not so much.
  • Healing Spring: What Methos drags Duncan into at the end of 'Deliverance' so he can battle his bad side and overcome the Dark Quickening.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Methos, over the years. He refers to it as "outgrowing my angry adolescence."
  • Heel–Faith Turn: Darius, formerly a brutal warlord who intended to conquer all of Europe. After taking the head of an immortal holy man, he resigned from the Game and spent the next several centuries living as a humble monk.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Word of God states James Horton's hatred of Immortals and desire to Kill 'em All stems from that fact that he spent most of his career as Watcher to The Kurgan, of all people. The conflict between Horton's oath of non-interference and his devout Catholic beliefs eventually drove him to insanity.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Subverted to a surprising degree in "Bad Day in Building A" - the silenced weapons sound just as loud as they would without.
  • Holy Ground: One of the few rules of the Game is that Immortals can not fight on holy ground. What will happen if they violate this rule is left vague. In any case, it does lead to holy ground being one of the few places that they can go to get away from the Game.
    • One episode mentions a Watcher rumour that the only known beheading on Holy Ground happened at the Temple of Apollo in Pompeii in August, 79 AD.
  • Honor Before Reason: Duncan suffers from this. A lot. Methos is frequently the one to call him out on it.
  • Hook Hand: Xavier St. Cloud uses one of these after losing a hand in fight against Duncan.
  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse: They were immortals from the distant past, including Methos.
  • Hot Scoop: Randi McFarland.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The show never quite shied away from love scenes, but there was one in the DVD/VHS cut of Endgame that was borderline softcore porn.
  • Houseboat Hero: Duncan, who keeps a massive barge houseboat in Paris. On the Seine. With a view of Notre Dame de Paris!
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: In "The Road Not Taken", a former mentor of Duncan's attacks him while noting that he shouldn't have revealed all of his moves in a previous fight. Duncan replies by executing this trope.
  • I Am X, Son of Y: Duncan's "I am Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod" is a variant of this.
  • I Have No Son: Ian MacLeod does this to Duncan in the 'Family Tree' flashback. Duncan's adoptive mother feels differently.
  • The Idealist: Duncan adheres to a very strict code of honor, which gets him into a lot of tough scrapes.
    • The Watchers. They take their responsibility to "observe and document, never interact" with a solemn, almost monk-like devotion. Some fall a little short.
  • Immortality Begins at 20: Averted. Immortals remain the same age as when their first death occurred, which can be from childhood to middle age.
  • Immortality Hurts: Quite a few times. Though Immortals recover from most injuries, any wound hurts just the same. There was an Immortal who got stranded on a desert island and repeatedly starved to death, one who got buried underwater, one was burned at the stake, one was hanged....
  • Immortal Immaturity: Averted. While some characters are less stuffy than others, when the chips are down, they are all hard-nosed survivors. Even an immortal kid is a manipulative bastard, using his seeming innocence to make people drop their guard.
  • Immortality Infertility: Immortals can't have children, period. In one episode Richie is told that he fathered a child before becoming Immortal, but both Duncan and Joe tell him that's not possible either.
  • Improvised Lightning Rod: The series uses the Eiffel Tower as one, with Duncan figuring out that he can kill his opponent and the Quickening will travel through the tower to fry the villain's computer before it releases the info on the immortals the villain was using to try to force Duncan to surrender.
  • In-Series Nickname: Duncan MacLeod's name is often shortened to just "Mac".
  • Instant Death Bullet: Tessa in 'The Darkness'.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Methos survives by not getting involved and only looking out for his own interests... most of the time.
  • Karma Houdini: Joan Jett's character in the season one episode "Freefall."
    • Kiem Sun in "The Road Not Taken" ends up losing out on the potion he's worked so hard to perfect when Duncan dumps it, but he's still allowed to go free and continue his work elsewhere (at least until he and Duncan run into each other again, in which case Duncan notes that their next confrontation will end with Kiem Sun's death).
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Averted. The katana is Duncan's weapon of choice, but it is never presented as inherently better than any other sword. Also, Duncan has used a wide variety of other swords, including claymore, an arming sword and a rapier/dagger combo.
  • Keep the Home Fires Burning: The episode "They Also Serve..."
  • Killed Off for Real: Charlie and Tessa and Richie.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Arguably Amanda some of the time.
  • Knife-Throwing Act: Duncan and Amanda do this in the circus in one episode.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Duncan. Sometimes to a fault. His chivalry kept him from killing an Immortal woman even though she killed many other people and tried to kill him.
  • Knight Templar: James Horton: self-styled savior of mortals from Immortals.
  • Kubrick Stare: Duncan pulls one off after being possessed by the Dark Quickening.
  • Large Ham: Slan. Duncan, during Darius's death scene.
  • Les Cops Sportif: During the French half.
  • Life Drinker: Variant. Immortals don't need to suck the life out of people to stay alive, but if they behead another immortal they will absorb their knowledge and skill.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: For some.
  • Living a Double Life: Methos, for a while.
  • MacGuffin: Many episode revolve around the seeking of a sacred or mythical object.
  • Mad Doctor: 'Deadly Medicine.'
  • Made a Slave: Cassandra, and probably a few others, courtesy of the Horsemen.
  • Manipulative Bastard: James Horton.
  • Masquerade: The Watchers have two primary aims; to record the lives of the Immortals, and to make sure nobody finds out. The show actually slightly deconstructs the idea of a vast organisation devoted to upholding the Masquerade, since most Watchers treat it like any other job; they even have a pension plan and vacation time. In one episode it's revealed they don't know who killed a recently dead Immortal because his Watcher had taken time off for his sister's wedding when it happened.
  • Master Swordsman: Many characters.
  • Mixed Ancestry: Charlie DeSalvo (half black, half Italian).
  • Monster of the Week: Comes looking for trouble, or is threatening somebody else who comes to Duncan for help.
  • Mooks: The Hunters in TAS, green-armored goons who have numbers instead of names. They're apparently all descended from the inmates of a pre-war penal colony.
  • Moral Myopia: Used twice in "Forgive Us Our Tresspasses." First, in 1746, Duncan, still reeling after the Scottish defeat at the Battle of Culdoon, discovers the Earl of Rosemont has sent his troops to crush villages in order to put down any more rebellion. A furious Duncan goes to the Earl's home and grabs his son.
    Earl: Please, don't hurt my son!
    Duncan: That is what a thousand Scottish mothers cried out before your soldiers murdered their children.
    • Two hundred and fifty years later, the Earl's friend, Immortal Steven Keane, comes looking for payback on Duncan. Duncan realizes that Keane is doing pretty much the same thing Duncan has done several times, settling a score from long ago and they're not that different.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: In the episode "The Samurai", immortal Michael Kent discovers that his mortal wife Midori Koto is cheating on him. He confronts her (mortal) lover Akira Yoshida and decapitates him, in the belief that this act would repair the marriage. It doesn't work, and the episode later points out that their love was one-sided to begin with: Michael loved her, Midori never loved him.
  • My Grandson Myself: Duncan. In one episode, he's seen going to a Paris bank in the 1930's to open up an account he set up a century earlier (and has to remember how many "greats" his "ancestor" was). Obviously, there was a lot of interest piled up so the bank manager was relieved when Duncan decided to open an account rather than withdraw it all.
    • Duncan also pretended to be his lookalike son when he met the aged members of a French Resistance cell he fought with in WWII.
    • In the 18th century, Duncan was tutored by a Japanese warrior who was forced to take his own life for honor. Duncan swore that the man's family would always know that if they ever needed help, they could come to Duncan Macleod. 200 years later, the samurai's female descendant comes to Duncan for help and surprised Duncan knows of the "family legend." She even says she doesn't expect Duncan to honor a commitment from his "ancestor" but of course, he insists on helping.
  • Never Recycle a Building: The characters always find a empty warehouse nearby when they need to fight. While this is usually plausible, there is at least one case when they manage to find one close to the Seine in the center of Paris, in an area where it would need TARDIS-like features to fit.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Kenny, a centuries-old immortal in the body of a nine-year old boy.
  • Not Himself: Duncan, after the Dark Quickening.
  • Not Quite Saved Enough: Tessa in "The Darkness".
  • Obfuscating Disability: In "The Ransom of Richard Redstone," Duncan has to go to a casino he frequented in the 1970's, run by the same owner. To avoid questions on how he hasn't aged, Duncan dyes his temples grey and walks with a cane and a limp to sell being older like a mortal.
  • Obstructive Code of Conduct:
    • Immortals are only allowed to fight one-on-one, and are forbidden to do so on "holy ground". These rules are malleable, to put it lightly.
    • Watchers are not supposed to interfere in Immortal conflicts. Joe Dawson spends a lot of time bending, breaking, or just plain ignoring this rule.
  • Office Golf: A mobster in a flashback, who gives the Villain of the Week his first death.
  • Off with His Head!
  • Old-School Chivalry: Duncan has hang-ups about taking the heads of women. He's done it (Nefertiri), but he doesn't like it. He wouldn't kill Kristen in 'Chivalry' and Methos stepped in, saying he was born long before the age of chivalry.
  • Older Than They Look: Obviously, just about every Immortal in the series (sans Richie).
    • Of special note is that Kenny is over 800 years old but because he died at ten, was able to use the story of being a brand-new Immortal to get in close and take the heads of other Immortals.
    • Felicia Martin's MO was to pretend to be a newly made Immortal to learn skills from a "teacher" before taking their head.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: The ep with the immortal who believed they (the immortals) were fated by God to fight, even if the opponent was a newbie.
  • One Last Smoke: Played straight in the series when Hugh Fitzcairn is captured by the Hunters and as a last request he asks for "A last smoke of my pipe." Horton considers it for a moment before denying him, but the delay buys MacLeod the time he needs to make it there and rescue Fitz.
  • Only One Name: In the TV series, the majority of Immortals that Duncan enounters go by one name.
  • Parental Substitute: Duncan and Tessa, for Richie.
  • Past-Life Memories: The immortal variety, since these guys are reincarnated as the same person moments after getting killed.
  • The Perils of Being the Best: Being famous for your fighting skills or your age winds up drawing the attention of headhunters, Immortals who are serious about winning the game and purposefully seek out old or powerful Immortals in order to defeat them and take their power. This results in most older Immortals, (aside from Ax-Crazy psychos in the mold of The Kurgan) to learn how to keep a low profile. Some specific examples include:
    • Duncan's former friend and Master Swordsman Brian Cullen, who was once famous for being the greatest swordsman in all Europe. He was challenged so much by both mortal and Immortal foes looking to take the title of greatest swordsman that all the deaths he caused took a frightful toll on him. Eventually he fled the continent to try to get away from his own reputation, but when he was still challenged after moving to America he descended into deep paranoia and an intense opium addiction which continues into the present.
    • Methos used to relish combat, fighting and getting stronger, but he came to loathe The Game and has deliberately done what he can not just to avoid combat but to make sure no one believes in the "legend" of Methos, up to creating spurious legends and stories that contradict his history and appearance, all so no one can blow his cover ID or track him down.
    • One of Duncan's mentors as a new Immortal was a famous swordsman called Graham Ashe. Ashe had since lost all taste for battle and swordsmanship, and become much more passionate about art and learning. When Ashe is confronted by a headhunter in Duncan's flashback, it's clear that he's been through so much over the years that he has no heart left for combat, even to save his life.
    • May-Ling Shen, a master swordswoman and martial artist who tutored multiple Immortals including Duncan, was ambushed and killed at a time when she was alone and weaponless because a young Immortal who wanted the Quickening of such a famous Immortal.
  • Police Are Useless
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Elizabeth Gracen (Amanda) and Peter Wingfield (Methos) get this in Season 6, in large part due to Adrian Paul not being able to film every episode and in order to fill the void left by Richie's death (Duncan and Joe were otherwise the only main characters left by that point).
  • Properly Paranoid: Surviving for centuries in a world where nearly everyone like you wants to kill you tends to make one more than a little wary.
    • Methos, especially. He probably plans an escape before he makes breakfast.
  • Put on a Bus: Charlie. Turned into The Bus Came Back...Back for the Dead. Poor Charlie.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: The episode "Through a Glass Darkly" features two completely different flashbacks of the same meeting, revealing how two immortals with different perspectives had entirely different recollections of events. In 1785, Duncan and Warren Cochrane, both veterans of the Jacobite risings, arrange to meet Bonnie Prince Charlie in Normandy. Their purpose is to ascertain whether he is willing and able to lead a new uprising. Centuries later, Warren remembers the aging Charlie as a dignified leader who turned down their offer, because he noticed that even his most devoted followers doubted their chances at victory. Throughout the episode, he romanticizes Charlie to a considerable degree. A disillusioned Duncan instead remembers Charlie as a broken man and an alcoholic.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The death of Werner Stocker who played Darius towards the end of the first season forced the writing staff to scramble to re-write the series finale without him. This led directly to the creation of the "Watchers" and "Hunters" organisations that would change the direction of the series and feature heavily in future seasons.
    • The writers had already planned to kill off Darius in the season finale. The problem was they were planning on shooting scenes of him for the episode. Due to Stocker's death, the scene showing Darius alive was reused footage from a previous episode.
  • Really Dead Montage: Multiple times, run over either "Dust in the Wind" or "Who Wants to Live Forever".
  • Really 700 Years Old: Pretty much every immortal. Especially Kenny, though.
  • Rear Window Witness: Tessa in "Eyewitness".
  • Reckless Sidekick: Richie, a lot of the time.
  • Red Pill, Blue Pill: A flashback in the episode "Brothers in Arms" shows that Joe was given this choice in Vietnam by a Watcher, after his first encounter with an Immortal.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Any normally fatal injury will cause an immortal to die and resurrect completely healed. Drowning, gunshot, hanging, burning, explosion, jump out a window: all minor inconveniences.
    • Becomes a bit more inconvenient in the cases of drowning, hanging, starving, etc. In situations like the former two, the immortal may stay deceased until rescued/removed from the circumstances; in the latter, they will constantly resurrect and starve again in an inescapable cycle.
  • Retcon: A minor one, but in Season 1 Duncan runs into Immortal Xavier St. Cloud, whom he supposedly met a few decades prior in what looked like World War I. The season 3 finale showed a flashback to a MUCH earlier time, shortly after Duncan became an Immortal, and he runs into Xavier...for the first time. One could argue there was such a long time between their run-ins the pair could have forgotten one another, but considering Immortals seem to remember each other over insane time spans this trope comes into play.
    • The producers liked working with Roland Gift hence why St. Cloud is the first evil Immortal to become a recurring villain. And then when the character was finally killed off, the producers brought him back in flashbacks. Roger Daltrey's Hugh Fitzcairn making multiple appearances after being killed off was a similar situation.
  • Retired Monster: Methos. Although the trope is played with as he does regret at least some of his actions, and by the end of the "Four Horsemen" arc, Duncan suspects that Methos manipulated the situation to kill off the rest of the Horsemen. Methos refuses to explicitly confirm or deny this, although he hints that he couldn't kill Kronos by himself. (As he is both physically and psychologically incapable.)
  • Revision: In the canonical Watcher Chronicles CD, background extras or bit part actors will occasionally be identified as a given Immortal's Watcher. This changes the tone of several scenes considerably but does not affect the plot in any measurable way.
  • Rise from Your Grave: Kanis.
  • Safety in Muggles: Fight called on account of Muggles.
  • Samurai: One of Duncan's teachers was a samurai, Hideo Koto, from whom Duncan received his katana.
  • Say My Name: Duncan in 'The Hunters'. "Dariussssss!"
  • Self-Made Man: It may have come from murdering a priest and stealing a jeweled cross but it's still impressive how in just a few decades, John Durgan went from an illiterate backwoods hunter to a millionaire art expert who spoke six languages.
  • Seppuku: Hideo Koto in 'The Samurai'.
  • Shout-Out: Geraint Wyn Davies guest starred in 'Turnabout' in season 2, during the time he was starring in Forever Knight. His character on Highlander had a girlfriend named Jeanette, just like his character on the other series, though hers was spelled 'Janette'.
    • TAS has one episode featuring a rogue Hunter who was trying to carve out his own empire and wanted to take an ancient library as his palace and burn all the books. His name? Hunter #451.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Methos, the eldest living Immortal. Some of the myths are helped along by Methos to keep people off his trail.
  • Spider-Sense: Immortals can sense when another Immortal is near. This prevents ambushes, but some villains find ways around it.
  • Sticky Fingers: Amanda.
  • Sound-Only Death: To minimize the gore, we never saw anyone lose their head, only Duncan (or sometimes Methos or Amanda) swinging.
  • The Stoic: Darius lives a peaceful, secluded life in a monastery, separated from the cares of the outside world and beyond the reach of other Immortals. Duncan often comes to him for advice.
    • Methos has survived through the millennia by staying emotionally disconnected and not getting involved in other people's problems.
  • Sword Fight: Once an Episode, practically.
  • Sword Pointing
  • Sword Sparks
  • Temporarily a Villain: Duncan MacLeod, when he has the Dark Quickening.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Methos is rarely seen without his can of beer. There are rumors he and the Horsemen invented it, but that might just be Fanon.
  • True Companions: Duncan, Tessa, and Richie serve as these in the early episodes, with the former pair practically adopting Richie as their own. As the series goes on, Joe, Methos, and Amanda join and show themselves as being incredibly devoted to Duncan.
  • Vigilante Execution: This is what the crowd is intent on doing in 'Innocent Man', until Duncan faces them down and talks them out of it. And the guy wasn't even guilty.
  • Wakeup Makeup: particularly obvious when Duncan unwraps the mummy of Nefertiri after being unconscious for 2,000 years, and she still has perfect hair and makeup. Note that she also knows English.
  • Waking Up at the Morgue: Richie once, and several other minor characters
  • Warrior Therapist: Sean Burns. At least until Duncan had his Dark Quickening and whacked him.
  • The Watcher: A whole organization of them.
  • Water Source Tampering: In the Horsemen of the Apocalypse two-parter, the Big Bad plans to contaminate water supplies with a bioweapon, For the Evulz.
  • We Gotta Stop Meeting Like This: In the episode "Judgement Day"
    Methos: We've got to stop meeting like this, people will talk.
    • And from The Sea Witch:
      Duncan: We have to stop meeting this way Alexi. It's been half a century, what will people say?
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: James Horton.
  • Wham Episode: "The Darkness"; "Comes A Horseman"
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: For some of the characters, anyway. Not to be confused with one of the Queen songs from the film, though it is used when Duncan scatters Darius' ashes in the River Seine, and when Duncan has some Tessa flashbacks.
    • Subverted with the montage after Tessa's death. The song used is Kansas' Dust in the Wind rather than the more obvious choice of Who Wants to Live Forever.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: "The Stone of Scone" and "Unusual Suspects".
  • Worth It: Invoked in "Finale" when the evil Kalas taunts Duncan with knowledge of a computer set up to email out the entire Watcher database to every news agency in the world unless Duncan lets himself be killed.
    Kalas: Remember, if you do kill me, you're finished, too.
    Duncan: Maybe it's worth it if it rids the world of you.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Duncan doesn't like taking the heads of female Immortals. One episode has the Evil Immortal of the Week use this to her advantage. Luckily Methos has no such qualms.
  • Zen Survivor: Methos - "Live, grow stronger, fight another day."
    • Given a nasty twist in Revelation 6:8
    Silas: Like you always said, Methos: We live, we grow stronger, and then we fight.

Alternative Title(s): Highlander The Series