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Outlander is a British-American television drama series adapted from Diana Gabaldon's series of novels and airing on Starz. Created by Ronald D. Moore of Battlestar Galactica fame, it stars Caitríona Balfe, Sam Heughan and Tobias Menzies. The series premiered on August 9, 2014, with its most recent sixth season airing from March to May 2022.

In 1945, married World War II nurse Claire Beauchamp Randall (Balfe) goes on a second honeymoon to Scotland with her husband Frank only to find herself accidentally transported back in time to 1743. There, she finds herself in amidst a time of danger and Civil War, and she encounters both her husband's vicious ancestor "Black Jack" Randall (Menzies) and the dashing Highland warrior Jamie Fraser (Heughan).

Same as the books it's based on, the genre of the series is a little hard to classify. While the producing network seems intent on categorizing it mainly as a romance (and marketing it towards women), it does tick off many boxes where Historical Fiction tropes are concerned, and due to the time travel involved can also be of interest to fantasy and sci-fi fans.

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The series is also notable for casting actual Scots in the main Scottish roles, showcasing Scotland's landscapes as far as possible, and using Gaelic (that isn't subtitled!) in most episodes.


Tropes:

  • Accidental Time Travel: Claire lands in 1740s Scotland by pure accident after touching the stone at Craigh Na Dunh while collecting a flower she wanted for her botany collection.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Laoghaire appears in Season 2 even though the character never appears in the source novel. Ron Moore has revealed that she was added to set up her storyline in Season 3.
  • After Action Patch Up: Claire does this for Jamie all the time.
  • All There in the Script: Brianna is not named at all in the brief flash-forward that begins the episode "Faith". Instead, she is named in the closing credits.
  • Ambiguously Gay: The Duke of Sandringham, who is stereotypically effeminate (although this is also similar to many heterosexual "fops" or "dandys" of the time's behavior), a lifelong bachelor, makes comments about Jamie's attractiveness, and is played by the openly gay English actor Simon Callow.
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  • An Arm and a Leg: Fergus has his hand cut off by British soldiers for taunting them.
  • Apothecary Alligator: Seen hanging from the ceiling in Master Raymond's apothecary in the episode Not in Scotland Anymore.
  • Artistic License – History: Enough for its own page.
  • Artistic License – Pharmacology:
    • Claire says monk's hood (aconite) has no known medicinal uses. In reality, it has several, well known since ancient times, though since it's highly toxic in larger doses other medications are used now. This might be excused as ignorance, except she is a trained nurse and highly knowledgeable of herbs so you'd expect she'd know this.
    • Similarly, lily-of-the-valley does exist in Scotland, and is probably more common than wild garlic (whose leaves, not berries, are sometimes confused with the poisonous plant). Treating with digitalis (foxglove), which has a similar heart-effective poison, is risky at best, and might worsen the symptoms at worst.
  • Artistic License – Religion:
    • Although Charles Edward Stuart is correctly portrayed as a Catholic, raised in Italy, the Scottish were not still mostly Catholic at this point. Scotland had been majority Reformed Presbyterian all the way back to John Knox in the 1560s. Thus, the talk of the "heretic" Hanoverians is pretty far off. The difference in religion was the least of the Scottish concerns at the time. This series seems to underline that most Scots still are Catholic by faith (Jamie, for instance, is constantly crossing himself). In reality, it was only a small minority of Highland clans in remote regions like the Hebrides archipelago who were still Catholics; while Episcopalians were just as numerous, if not more so, than Catholics in the Jacobite movement. The series doesn't make this clear.
    • In "Providence" Roger meets Father Alexandre Ferigault, who's a French Catholic priest held captive by the Mohawk because he offended them in not performing a baptism on the son he fathered with a Mohawk woman. He tells Roger that he can't do it under Catholic doctrine because he's not in a state of grace, due to violating his vows by conceiving the boy. This is wrong, though. Catholic doctrine is that a sacrament stays valid regardless of the spiritual state of the person who performs it, because in their belief it's God not the human being who has done it. The opposite view, called Donatism, is actually condemned as a heresy by the Church.
    • The Mohawk people in the show are depicted as being unfamiliar with Christianity and the doctrine of the religion. In reality the Haudenosaunee as a whole had known of Christianity for well over 100 years by this point, and had had many dealings with missionaries already. A significant number would already have converted.
  • Attempted Rape: Claire is nearly raped several times in the first half-season alone.
  • Berserk Button: Colum MacKenzie may be a benevolent man, but comment on his crooked legs, and you are in for a world of trouble — unless you are Claire.
  • Beta Couple: The series spends a decent amount of time developing Brianna and Roger's relationship, but it's always secondary in focus to that of Jamie and Claire.
  • Better Partner Assertion: After finding out that Jamie and Claire have married, Laoghaire MacKenzie attempts to break them up, believing she is the better choice to be Jamie's wife. Her reasons include: being Scottish like Jamie instead of English like Claire (at a time when the English and the Scottish were conflicting), having known Jamie since they were kids, that he once kissed Laoghaire, and he once took a punishment on her behalf. Her insistence tips into Yandere with her putting ill-wish voodoo dolls under the couple's marital bed, attempting to entice Jamie into breaking his marriage vows, and arranging to have Claire arrested for witchcraft.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Jamie arrives at the witch trial just in time to interrupt Claire's whipping and rescue her from being burned at the stake, using his broadsword and dagger to hold off the entire room of men single-handedly.
    • In "Episode 1.16", Murtaugh, Angus, Rupert, and 19 cows, whisk Jamie right from under the Redcoats' noses from Wentworth Prison.
    • In "Episode 5.12", Jamie gathers his men to find and dispatch the group of men who kidnapped and raped Claire.
    • After the Committee of Safety take Jamie and threaten to return him to Scotland, the Cherokee, John Quincy Myers, and Young Ian rescue him.
  • Big Damn Reunion: The emotional bread and butter of the series:
    • Claire reappearing to Jamie in Edinburgh is so momentous it causes him to faint.
    • Brianna meeting Jamie in person for the first time while at the same time reuniting with Claire is accompanied by swelling, triumphant music, and tears all around.
    • After initially believing that Roger had abandoned her and her child after learning it might not be his, Brianna sprints dramatically across the field to jump into his arms when he returns to her at Riverrun.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Unsubtitled Lowland Scots and Scottish Gaelic abound.
  • Bitter Almonds: Claire smells this on Arthur Duncan's breath, leading to her conclusion that he was poisoned.
  • Black Widow: Geillis Duncan, who murders her husband Arthur Duncan with cyanide in "By the Pricking of my Thumbs" and is later revealed to have killed her 20th-century husband to get through the stones at Craigh na Dun.
  • Blood Bath: The Season 3 episode “The Bakra” features Geilis Duncan bathing in the blood of a goat to ostensibly maintain healthy skin.
  • Brave Scot: Everyone with a Scottish accent qualifies.
  • Burn the Witch!: Claire and Geillis are accused of witchcraft, with this as punishment. Accurate, unlike some examples (such as the popular depiction of accused witches being burned in Salem when they were actually hanged), as Scottish law actually had burning at the stake as the punishment (although most condemned were strangled first).
  • The Cassandra: Claire, warning against the outcome of the Jacobite uprising. Of course, no one actually listens to her.
  • Cassandra Truth: Obviously, when told the truth about her parentage, Brianna doesn't believe this insane story her mother went back in time and her true father is a man who's been dead for 200 years. It takes seeing Gellis vanish through the stone for Brianna to accept it.
  • Cessation of Existence: Discussed by Roger and Young Ian after the first stops the latter's attempted suicide. Since he had nearly died by hanging, Young Ian asks Roger what he saw. Roger says he saw his wife, which Young Ian interprets as there being an afterlife. He is disappointed, stating that he'd hoped it would be over (it turns out his attempt was due to losing his wife).
  • Child by Rape:
    • Jamie's son William, as he was blackmailed by William's mother Geneva into having sex with her.
    • Brianna realizes she is pregnant two months after the night she was raped by Stephen Bonnet, which occurred hours after her consensual sexual experience with Roger. At first, Brianna believes she is pregnant as the result of the rape by Stephen Bonnet and not from her sexual experience with Roger because, as she confides to her mother, Roger pulled out during sex. However, Brianna later realizes that the withdrawal method to prevent pregnancy is not foolproof and tells Claire she isn't sure if her child was conceived as the result of the rape or sex with Roger.
  • Circle of Standing Stones: How Claire is transported back in time.
  • Cliffhanger: The episode "The Bakra" ends with Jamie arrested, leaving Claire with the task of searching for Young Ian at Rose Hall.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Father Fogden, after a long time living alone with his servant and his coconut.
  • Coitus Ensues: Like with many HBO shows, there's a lot of gratuitous sex scenes. While some make sense in the plot, the level of explicitness can't really be called anything except fanservice. This is not only done with the leads either-some of the minor characters get into it too.
  • Convicted by Public Opinion: When the Committee of Safety arrest Jamie and Claire for their alleged crimes, the townsfolk believe they are guilty even before a trial. The members of the Committee of Safety make things worse when they vocally declare who Jamie and Claire are and what their crimes are in every village they travel to. This behavior leads to a violent riot where Jamie and Claire’s wagon is stoned, injuring Claire.
  • Crime of Self-Defense: Ulysses is sent underground, since killing a white man even to defend his mistress from attempted murder would still no doubt mean he'd be lynched.
  • Defiled Forever: Jamie warns Claire not to let anyone know of Mary's rape, or she'll never be married, something which Claire finds outrageous.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • This is often explored In-Universe since Claire is from the 1940s, finds herself transported back to the very different era of the 1740s, and experiences first-hand that some of the values and standards of the 1740s are... different. Claire's 18th-century husband Jamie is a very sympathetic character — but when Claire disobeys him and puts their group in danger, he feels morally obligated to take a belt to her bottom... It doesn't go well for anyone. Jamie later swears on his knife never to lay a hand on Claire again and she tells him — while they're having sex — that if he ever does, she'll cut his heart out and eat it for breakfast. Said while holding the knife to his throat, no less.
    • The books include depictions of pregnant women, most notably Claire, drinking. This is especially jarring for modern audiences during Claire's Season 2 pregnancy in Paris. Claire also has a tendency to rely on alcohol in various medical treatments. Even though Claire is an educated and well-versed nurse trained in the 20th century, she is still from the 1940s and even she couldn't have known alcohol use could have been harmful to her baby because it was not well-known before the 1970s. Nor is she fully aware of the effects of alcohol overconsumption in general. This is an especially interesting example of Deliberate Values Dissonance, because while Claire doesn't fully understand the effects of alcohol overconsumption, she does understand basic germ theory and prefers alcohol to unboiled water. Thus, she tends to rely on alcohol 'more' often than her 18th century counterparts.
    • Jamie's quite unhappy at seeing a photo of Brianna in her bikini which Claire shows him, since it's scandalously indecent for his time. He gets over it.
    • Even though it was to defend his mistress, Ulysses killing a white man means he must go underground.
  • Depraved Bisexual: "Black Jack" Randall, who tortures and rapes Jamie while the latter is a prisoner in Wentworth Prison. He had previously attempted to rape Jamie's sister, though couldn't perform, as well as Claire when he first met her. Later Jamie comes upon him raping young Fergus in the brothel in Paris.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Jamie is blackmailed into sex with Geneva, as she doesn't want to lose her virginity with her (much older) husband. This is treated mildly by the narrative, as being unkind at worst.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male: While the show depicts rape of all kinds as serious, horrible, and traumatizing, this trope still comes into effect with how rape is shown onscreen. Instances of men raping women are quick with little detail shown, often involving lots of clothes in the way or happening in darkness or offscreen. The single instance of heterosexual rape where the female is the rapist occurs almost entirely offscreen (and is not given nearly so much story attention in the aftermath as the other instances). However, the male-on-male rape sequence takes up at least half an episode and is extremely graphic, occurring largely center of screen and with clear lighting, indicating that the creative staff felt it was far more acceptable to show the graphic horrors of rape as long as all participants were male. Alternatively, it could be that they chose to show it to show exactly how traumatizing it is whereas everyone knows male on female is traumatizing.
  • Driven to Suicide: After his traumatic near-death by hanging, Roger is clearly contemplating suicide there for at least a moment when he looks down over a cliff, as a result of his PTSD. Soon after, he stops Ian from killing himself with the hemlock he's boiling over a woman he lost.
  • The Dung Ages: Everyone is muddy and grimy, with the sole exception of the wealthiest nobles, and even then, that is only when dressing up. The first thing Claire notes about her erstwhile savior is that he reeks to high heaven.
  • Eternal English: While the English language had reached a form mutually intelligible to modern readers and speakers by the 18th century, its accents were radically different from those we are familiar with today (to give an idea of how different, English-speakers on both sides of the pond once both spoke mostly in a rhotic accent, with the hard Rs similar to those associated with most modern American English accents). It is unlikely that Claire would be recognized as an Englishwoman in the 18th century simply by the sound of her voice, as she is on many occasions.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Granted, the two men who express interest in Jamie are gay and bisexual respectively, but it's clear that he is pretty much universally attractive.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Played straight with Black Jack Randall. He has a sickly younger brother Alex whom he cares for deeply.
    • Averted with the Duke of Sandringham. He didn't seem the least bit fazed that his attack on Claire resulted in his goddaughter Mary being raped.
  • Everyone Is Related: Fittingly for a show about family, most of the main and recurring characters are related to Jamie or Claire by blood, marriage, or adoption.
  • Faith in the Foe: Throughout the series, Claire Fraser develops a reputation of being able to heal the sick and injured with a proficiency that approaches miraculous. Despite being an arch-nemesis of the Highlanders in general and the Frasers in particular, Captain Jack Randall is certain she can heal his younger brother's ailment. Perhaps it's because Claire's husband Jamie is not only alive but actively commanding an army even after the brutal and systemic torture Captain Randall inflicted on him. Randall has so much faith in Claire's ability as a healer, he's even willing to trade military intelligence to entice her to help his brother.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo:
    • Colum's son Hamish is his nephew biologically, sired by his younger brother Dougal. Due to Colum's disability, it's likely that he couldn't have children of his own but he still needed an heir. This is foreshadowed when Claire assumes Dougal is Hamish's father when she sees them talking early in Season 1.
    • Jack Randall isn't Frank's direct ancestor for a similar reason. Frank's direct Randall ancestor is Alex Randall, Jack's younger brother, the only person Black Jack actually loves. Alex and Mary Hawkins conceive a child together. Because Alex is fatally ill and too unwell to wed or provide for Mary, he pleads for Jack to wed Mary in his place so that as an officer's wife, Mary will be taken care of after his death; even if Jack dies as well - which he will soon, at Culloden - Mary will receive a widow's pension. Jack agrees to marry her, promising Alex he will protect and provide for Mary. As a result, Mary and Alex's child is recorded as the child of Mary and Jack on the family tree.
  • Fanservice Extra: A number of minor female characters are shown nude (at least topless) in sex scenes or otherwise. On the male side, there are also plenty of good-looking guys in shirtless scenes.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Claire, a twentieth-century woman, ends up in eighteenth-century Scotland.
    • Later, Brianna and Roger join Claire in the 18th century.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Claire to Jamie. Granted, he was the first one she tended to after her fall through the time rift.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The second season premiere opens with Claire returning to her time and learning that history is unchanged. This means that her efforts for the rest of the season to prevent the Battle of Culloden are doomed.
  • From Dress to Dressing: Claire in the first episode.
  • Future Slang: Claire introduces Jamie to the word "fuck".
  • Going Native: After offering himself in exchange for having Roger freed from captivity, Young Ian is adopted by the Mohawk, an outcome he is very pleased with. Upon his reappearance, he wears a Mohawk hairstyle and clothing, along with carrying a bow.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion:
    • Louise de Rohan asks Claire to give her an abortifacient after she becomes pregnant due to her affair with Prince Charles. However, Claire warns her that the herb used is highly toxic and very risky to take. She eventually changes her mind and passes the baby off as her husband's.
    • When her daughter Brianna gets pregnant, possibly from rape, Claire gives Brianna the option of a surgical abortion if that is what Brianna decides. After Brianna thinks it over, she ultimately turns it down and decides to keep the child, regardless of the child's paternity.
  • Gossipy Hens: Mrs. Bug, the housekeeper on Fraser’s Ridge, becomes one after she overhears how Malva is pregnant and Jamie is the suspected father. The rumor spreads like wildfire, and soon enough, the entirety of Fraser’s Ridge knows of the drama.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Laoghaire towards Claire — which increases after Claire marries Jamie.
  • Gorn: The camera doesn't shy away from the serious injuries Claire treats, but Black Jack's savage scourging of Jamie might be one of the goriest sequences ever televised.
  • Hard Head: More than once, Jamie survives a serious bump on the head without sustaining a concussion. Claire jokes that Jamie has “the thickest skull I’ve ever seen.”
  • Hat Damage: Jamie does this to William at the Battle of Saratoga.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Bonnie Prince Charlie has been given one in modern Scotland, which disgusts Claire, noting that the real man was, in fact, a fool who led his men to their deaths. He's also been depicted as much taller than his actual height.
  • Hollywood Healing: Averted. Many characters have visible injuries acquired over the course of the books, and not only do the injuries take time to heal, they are often referenced much later and in some cases have a permanent impact. For example, Claire sets Jamie's badly broken hand in 1743, and while she does the best she can, the ring finger in particular does not set properly. Though it's just one finger on his non-dominant hand, the continued stiffness of the finger and it's impact on Jamie's ability to perform certain tasks is often mentioned. Almost forty years later, Jamie is happy for Claire to remove the troublesome finger all together. Similarly, Roger's voice is still altered by his near-hanging, even several years later.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Dougal seems to be under the impression that a Highland Charge is just charging madly at the enemy with swords drawn. In reality, a Highland Charge was a quick, organised advance with muskets followed up with a volley and then a charge into melee range. A seasoned commander like Dougal should definitely know better.
  • Horrible Honeymoon: Combat nurse Claire and Intelligence Officer Frank Randall quickly marry prior to shipping out for World War II. Over five years, they spend a sum total of ten days together. After the war, the pair goes to Scotland for a second honeymoon to get reacquainted only for Claire to touch the rock at Craigh na Dunnh and land 200 years in the past, leaving Frank desperately searching for his missing wife. Three years later, she returns, pregnant and mourning the death of the man she married while she was away. Although she and Frank remain married for the sake of Claire's child, their relationship never truly recovers.
  • Horse Returns Without Rider: Jamie, Roger, and several other men go hunting for bison. The group splits up with Jamie and Roger headed in one direction and the others in another. While hunting, Jamie is bitten by a snake and rapidly begins to succumb to the venom. The other men, having failed to find any game, return to the homestead. When Jamie and Roger aren't home yet, everyone assumes that they found a good hunting spot, are camping out, and will return in the morning. However, Young Ian realizes that something is amiss when Jamie's horse returns home alone. A rescue party is sent out to find Jamie and Roger.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: The MacKenzies frequently make disparaging remarks towards Claire, but the moment another Scottish clan insults Claire, they step up to defend her.
    Murtagh Fraser: You're a guest of the MacKenzie. We can insult you, but God help any other man that does.
  • I Choose to Stay: Jamie chooses to stay at Helwater over returning home out of love for his newborn son William and to watch him grow up. Despite wanting to claim William as his own child, Jamie is prevented from doing so because Willie will be outed as illegitimate if he does and the Dunsays — the family of William's mother Geneva — must keep the scandal of William's true parentage under wraps. However, in order to have as much of a hand in raising Willie as possible, Jamie stays at Helwater as a groom, where he and Willie develop a close and loving relationship. When Willie is 6 years old, people begin to notice Willie's growing resemblance to Jamie and Jamie is forced to separate from his son to protect him. Jamie and Willie are heartbroken when Jamie must leave.
  • Idealized Sex: The sex between Claire and Jamie is a cornerstone of their relationship and is portrayed as not only physically satisfying but mentally and emotionally, as necessary as regular meals.
  • Identical Grandson: Frank and Jonathan "Black Jack" Randall. Although, it turns out that Frank is actually descended from Black Jack's brother Alexander. Jack honors Alexander's last wishes by marrying his pregnant lover.
  • In the Past, Everyone Will Be Famous: In Season 4's "Wilmington", Claire attends a party and is stunned to meet a former British colonel by the name of George Washington.
  • It Will Never Catch On: In "Dragonfly in Amber," Mother Hildegarde is surprised when Claire is familiar with Johann Sebastian Bach, who at the time is a local musician she is in correspondence with. She mentions that she doesn't think he is very good and won't go anywhere with his career.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Jenny, Jamie's sister, gives this to an English soldier by heating up the ramrod of his musket in the campfire and applying it to the soles of his bare feet, in order to get him to talk. In keeping with the trope, he tells them the truth: he's a courier, which prompts Claire to go through his bags and find out what the army is planning to do with Jamie.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dougal, though the respective quantities of "jerk" and "gold" are often deliberately ambiguous.
  • Killed Off for Real: Rupert in "The Battle Joined".
  • Kissing Cousins:
    • Young Ian becomes attracted to Brianna after they meet, and when Roger is seemingly lost forever he tries to propose to her to save her honor since she's pregnant, even though they're first cousins. Brianna has to explain to Jamie that such relationships aren't accepted in her time the way they are in the 18th century. Earlier it was mentioned that Jamie's own first kiss was with one of his uncle Dougal's daughters.
    • Brianna and Roger are second cousins five times removed (as Roger is the great-great-great-great-great-grandson of Dougal and Geillis), but that's so distant it hardly counts.
  • Large and in Charge: Dougal. He's physically imposing — and he's often in charge.
  • Love Transcends Space Time: Once Jamie and Claire meet, the fact that they were born two hundred years apart means nothing. They're fated to be together and neither space nor time will keep them apart.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: In the episode "The Birds and the Bees," Brianna introduces herself to Jamie as his daughter after some initial awkwardness when they meet. Jamie certainly knew about his daughter Brianna but believed she was currently in the 1970s. Though he's seen photos of her when Claire brought some with her from the 20th-century in Season 3, he initially doesn't recognize Brianna when she meets him in the 18th-century — but it quickly becomes clear to him Brianna is his daughter.
  • The Medic: Claire is a skilled physician, having worked as an army nurse during World War II, and treats many people during her stay in the 18th century (including Jamie).
    • After Claire returns to the 20th century, she attends medical school and becomes a surgeon.
  • Mercy Kill:
    • Claire euthanizes a slave named Rufus with poisoned tea when he's about to be torturously killed for cutting an overseer's ear off after he whipped him.
    • Roger comes back when he's escaping the Mohawk to save Father Alexandre Ferigault from torture by tossing a barrel of alcohol onto the stake where he's burning, which then consumes him.
    • Brianna shoots Bonnet before he's slowly drowned. Roger asks if it was mercy, or to make sure that he's dead. She doesn't answer.
    • Roger smothers a girl dying slowly due to being horribly burned in a fire.
  • Memento MacGuffin: Ellen MacKenzie Fraser's pearls really get around. They are given to her by a suitor. Following her death, they are giving to Jamie for his eventual wife. He gives them to Claire shortly after they marry. Claire offers them to MacRannoch as payment for helping free Jamie, only to discover he was the original suitor. He tells her to keep them. After being forced to leave Jamie and return to the 20th century, Claire gives the pearls to Mrs. Graham to thank her for being a confidante. Mrs. Graham gives them to her granddaughter Fiona as an heirloom. When Claire returns to get help researching Jamie, Fiona returns the pearls. When Claire decides to go back to Jamie, she gives Brianna the pearls as a keepsake from her parents. When Brianna marries, she wears the pearls as a reminder of the original MacKenzie Fraser.
  • Mistaken Identity: Since Jamie hadn't known it was Stephen Bonnet who raped Brianna and he has never seen Brianna's Love Interest Roger before, Jamie mistakes Roger as the man who raped Brianna when Brianna's maid Lizzie identifies him as Brianna's rapist. Jamie nearly beats Roger to death, and afterward, tells Young Ian to get rid of him and Young Ian sells Roger to the Mohawk. Lizzie mistakes Roger as Brianna's rapist because she had witnessed a heated argument between Roger and Brianna, and Brianna was raped that night, unaware Brianna consensually lost her virginity to Roger hours before Bonnet raped her. Later, when Brianna realizes what's happened, she's devastated and immediately tells Jamie, Young Ian, and Lizzie it wasn't Roger who raped her but Bonnet who did. Jamie, Lizzie and Ian are horrified, and Jamie and Young Ian resolve to get Roger back.
  • Mistaken for Prostitute:
    • In the very first episode, Black Jack and the Highlanders all think Claire might be a prostitute because her (quite modest) 1940s white dress looks like underwear to them-and because she's brash and unafraid to swear.
    • Claire is later mistaken for a prostitute by actual prostitutes in a brothel, though it's understandable as she came down from the upstairs room, which Jamie rents, after having had sex with him.
    • When Brianna first approaches Jamie, he mistakes her intentions as a proposition, telling her that he's married.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Jamie is a handsome, well-muscled man who has more than his share of shirtless scenes.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Claire appears mostly naked (in sex scenes or not) frequently throughout the series. Later her daughter Brianna also gets multiple sex scenes where she's shown mostly naked.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Claire's attempt to rescue Jamie from Wentworth Prison fails dismally. She's captured, and Jamie has to agree to Black Jack's terms to get Claire released.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted. When Brianna first approaches Jamie, he's taking a piss in an alley.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Stephen Bonnet, a pirate and thief, pays back Jamie and Claire for their help in his escape by coming back to rob them. Jamie and Claire had even risked themselves when they helped out Bonnet — and they almost lose their own lives again when Bonnet and his band robs them and murders their boat's captain. Later, when Jamie and Claire's daughter Brianna arrives in Wilmington, she runs into Bonnet and notices Bonnet has Claire's wedding ring from Jamie. When she tries to haggle for it with money, Bonnet refuses and instead, he rapes her as 'payment' for the ring.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
  • "No Peeking!" Request: In "Lallybroch", Jamie dives under the mill pond to fix the wheel. But just as he gets in, a British patrol starts to approach and he has to hide underwater while Claire and Jenny distract and shoo them away. When they finally leave, Jenny and Claire rush over to Jamie, worried he drowned, only for Jamie to be more embarrassed by being naked in front of Jenny and his sister (especially because the water is very cold) and he clutches his privates while imploring them to turn around so he can climb out of the water.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted, Jamie knows Claire is pregnant because her period was late and he knows she's usually extremely regular.
  • Official Couple Ordeal Syndrome: Jamie and Claire are put through the wringer every season, fighting to stay alive and together.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: English actress Sophie Skelton's American accent is quite shaky at times, though it may be explained by Brianna having been raised by two English parents.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Claire gets a full Oh, Crap! in "Both Sides Now" after she tries to bluff "Black Jack" Randall by claiming that she's an agent of Randall's patron, the Duke of Sandringham. As Randall notes, that actually means being an agent for the Duke's wife, and Claire acknowledges that she's been in communication with the Duchess.
      Randall: But then, of course, the Duke... [takes some rope out of his desk] ...never married.
    • And in the next episode ("The Reckoning"), Randall gets his own Oh, Crap! when he fires Jamie's musket at Jamie's head at point-blank range... only to discover that Jamie had been carrying an unloaded musket.
  • One Dose Fits All: Averted. Claire is very attuned to the differences in how medicine can affect different people, and indeed we see a variety of reactions, including one woman who dies of the very same DIY penicillin that saved others in the community, presumably of an unknown allergy. When using serious sedatives like laudanum and ether, Claire often has an assistant monitoring the patient's breathing as she works, so that she can continually adjust the dosage. She doesn't tend to rely on medicine as a way to escape a situation, such as drugging an antagonist, because she simply can't be sure she'll do just the right amount of harm (e.g., knocking them out without doing permanent damage).
  • That Old-Time Prescription: Played with. While Claire prescribes plenty of these, she herself thinks of them as old timey remedies, generally inferior to modern medicine. Most of her herbal remedies are her attempts to replicate modern medicine, and she herself knows they're inferior compared to their modern equivalents. More than once, she laments having to make due with moldy bread and joint-fir herbal tea rather than real penicillin and epinephrine. In-universe, multiple characters admire Claire's almost supernatural ability to diagnose and divine the right treatment, but the audience knows that while she's a competent healer, she's working with a huge advantage compared to her peers.
  • Only Sane Man: Jamie, when he tries to avoid the Battle of Culloden by pointing out that the area will give the English every advantage. He even draws up a contingency and an alternative strategy. Of course, nobody heeds him.
  • Orphaned Etymology: Averted, Jamie in one episode asks Claire what the word "fuck" means after hearing her use it. Significantly, Geillis uses "fuck" in a sentence in front of Claire during their witch trial. While Claire is too stressed to notice, this is a subtle foreshadowing of Geillis's reveal.
  • Parental Substitute:
    • Claire and Jamie to Fergus.
    • Jamie asks Lord John Grey to be this for his son William when Jamie and John realize Jamie must leave Helwater to protect Willie. Jamie asks Lord John to serve as a father to his son and look after him in his stead. Lord John and his wife Isobel (Willie's maternal aunt) agree to raise Willie, promising Jamie they will look after his son.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Claire and Jamie, though Jamie was in love with her before, but he didn't let on until after they are married a while .
  • Playing Gertrude: This happens in season 3 after the Time Skip to 1968. Claire is supposed to be 50 years old, but Caitriona Balfe was 36 at the time, although she wears a salt-and-pepper wig to make her look older, and when she makes it back to the 18th century, she dyes her hair to cover the grey anyway. Balfe is also only 15 years older than Sophie Skelton, who plays her daughter Brianna, who was 23 at the time. It also eventually happens with Jamie, although unlike with Claire, they don't bother to make Sam Heughan look any older, aside from giving him reading glasses. Claire lampshades this when she notes that he is unusually fit for a man of his age and occupation.
  • The Plot Reaper: Frank's death is convenient for Jamie and Claire's reunion.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Claire realizes that if she had told Jamie it was Bonnet who raped Brianna, it might have saved Roger since Jamie would not have mistaken Roger for the man who raped Brianna, given him a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, and Roger wouldn't have been sold to the Mohawk. She reveals that she never thought she could keep something like this from Jamie — until Brianna was born. Before having to reveal the truth to clear Roger, Brianna tells Claire she doesn't want Jamie to know it was Bonnet because she didn't want Jamie to blame himself and feared Jamie would go after a dangerous guy like Bonnet.
    Claire: I'm sorry I didn't tell you it was Stephen Bonnet when I knew. Had I, it might have saved Roger. I never thought I would keep a secret like that from you. Until Brianna.
  • Precision F-Strike: Geillis delivers one in "The Devil's Mark", doubling as a Wham Line because it reveals that she, like Claire, is not from the 1700s.
  • Rape as Drama:
    • Jamie is quite brutally and explicitly raped by Randall in prison.
    • Later, Mary Hawkins is raped by a masked brigand on the streets of Paris.
    • It turns out that Randall also raped Fergus after he found him in his room in Madame Elise's establishment, which led to a duel with Jamie.
    • Then to get Jamie released when he's arrested for the duel, Claire is forced to let King Louis XV have sex with her.
    • In Season 3, Jamie is blackmailed into having sex with Geneva.
    • Also in Season 3, Geillis coerces Young Ian into "unspeakable things", and Jamie comforts him, sharing his own past experiences.
    • In Season 4, Brianna is raped by Stephen Bonnet, the man who had robbed her mother of her wedding ring. This rape is offscreen, made worse when more than six people hear it going on and do nothing (in this case though, it's shown as being less bystander syndrome than them just being indifferent to rape; the producers said that's a mark of the times).
    • In Season 5, Claire is later gang-raped by several men who had kidnapped her.
  • Rape and Revenge:
    • Jamie eventually kills Randall in revenge for raping him.
    • Mary Hawkins murders the man who raped her by stabbing him in his heart.
    • Brianna gets Stephen Bonnet put to death for his other crimes and rape of her.
    • Jamie and co. kill the men who had been involved with Claire's kidnapping (she can't remember which ones raped her, so they simply kill all of them).
    • Marsali kills Lionel Brown for kidnapping and raping Claire.
  • Reality Has no Subtitles: When Claire first encounters Clan MacKenzie, they speak almost exclusively in Gaelic. Because Claire does not understand the language, it is not subtitled for the viewer either so that we can experience the situation as she is.
  • Retroactive Precognition: Claire arrives in 1743 with some historical knowledge about how the Jacobite Risings are going to play out. She's not a Scottish history expert, but she knows that an English victory is a Foregone Conclusion and that the Final Battle Of Culloden is three years away in 1746.
    • Brianna tells Young Ian about the injustices Native Americans will face in the United States. Additionally, Brianna tells Jamie how the Cherokee will be forcibly removed from their ancestral land in the Trail of Tears. Later, Jamie tells Chief Bird this information, hoping Chief Bird's future descendants can protect themselves from this tragedy.
  • Scarpia Ultimatum: When Black Jack has both Jamie and Claire captured in Wentworth Prison, this is the only way one of them can free the other. When Jamie is put in the Bastille later, Claire learns the king will free him for this. However, it turns out that the king has more than simply that in mind for her.
  • See You in Hell: The Comte St. Gemain's last words to Claire.
  • Self-Surgery: Generally averted. Claire does occasionally treat herself, but the one time she's injured enough to require serious surgery, two other doctors who she worked with the past step in. Claire does have enough fortitude to advise on her own treatment, in between falling in and out of consciousness.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: After nearly dying when he's hanged for being mistakenly condemned as a rebel, Roger gets PTSD, with classic symptoms: depression, flashbacks of it and suicidal ideation. It's even discussed explicitly as such (under the names current at the time).
  • Significant Name Overlap: The name William/Willie is significant in Jamie's life. Jamie's beloved, deceased older brother was named Willie. When Jamie is being held prisoner, Willie of Clan MacKenzie is the first to volunteer to help break Jamie out. Lord John Grey, Jamie's eventual lifelong friend, is initially introduced as William Grey (Gabaldon says she intended for him to be a minor character but he took on a life of his own, causing her to change his name to John William Grey to distinguish him from all the other Williams in Jamie's life). Lord Dunsany, the English man who agreed to Jamie's parole, allowing his release from prison, has the given name of William. And of course, Jamie's son is named William Ransom.
  • Slave Liberation: Discussed with Jocasta by Claire since she opposes slavery but Jocasta owns over a hundred. She, along with Jamie, tries to get them freed by Jocasta. However, it turns out this is impossible, since North Carolina law requires the slaves must have done something, like save a life, and the slave owners must put up a bond for every slave, which is far beyond Jocasta's means. Jocasta later frees her loyal butler Ulysses who did save her life.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Black Jack Randall is a straight-up sadist; all of his sexual interactions seem to involve rape or other extreme cruelty. His speech is usually polite and measured, as befits a gentleman; even when he's furious, he generally doesn't raise his voice.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Claire returns to the 20th century pregnant with her and Jamie's child.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Murtagh survives the Battle of Culloden and becomes a prisoner alongside Jamie. He is last seen being sent with all the prisoners (except for Jamie, who is taken to England) to the American colonies.
  • Spit Take: Jack Randall when Claire casually brings up the Duke of Sandringham during their conversation.
  • Spotting the Thread: Roger believes he's found a clue to Jamie's whereabouts in 1765 by showing a printer making quotes Claire told Jamie. One is by Robert Burns and when Claire says that could have come from anywhere, Roger points out Burns was only 6 years old at the time and wouldn't write the poem for another two decades.
  • Status Quo Is God: Zig-zagged. Although this show and its genre is not the sort the trope is found in too often, there is one thing that seems constant; Claire and Jamie will always end up back together and Claire will always end up time travelling and trying to get back to the stones and then getting stuck in time via Time Travel, despite there being a lot of episodes where the status quo changes dramatically. But in general, the status quo changes far more than it remains static.
  • The Stoner: Father Fogden, who adapts the habit of smoking a local herb called yupa (scientific name: Anadenanthera peregrina) in a pipe — "quite relaxing".
    • During Flora MacDonald's event, Jocasta’s eyes cause her pain. Claire offers her hemp to soothe her pain and relax her. While Jocasta smokes the hemp from a pipe, Claire and Flora MacDonald drink from a flask. The three women enjoy each other's company while reliving memories from their past.
    • Hal of all people is in the habit of smoking hemp to relax his lungs. After an asthma attack, Claire burns cannabis from her personal supply in a brazier and talks with him as the tent fills with cannabis smoke. They inevitably get high, and Hal has a more emotionally open conversation with Claire than he's ever had with his own brother.
  • Take Me Instead: Jamie offers to trade himself for Roger's release and tells Young Ian to make this offer to the Mohawk. When the Mohawk accept the offer, it's revealed Young Ian has offered himself in Jamie's place so Jamie and Claire can return to their daughter with Roger. Jamie and Young Ian are heartbroken over having to part and Young Ian makes Jamie promise not to come back for him because he gave his word he will stay. This trope is played with since the Mohawk aren't among the series' villains and when Young Ian manages to pass the Mohawk's test, he is declared one of them and Young Ian looks over the moon with happiness.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Jamie has horrific scars on his back from Black Jack Randall's brutal whipping at Fort William.
  • Their First Time: Brianna and Roger, after handfasting (an old Scottish custom in which a couple get temporarily married outside formal proceedings), tenderly have sex in a closed up shop (it's also her first time, period, as she is a virgin before this). Unfortunately, they have a fight afterward, which causes Brianna to leave.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: After nearly dying when he's hanged for being mistakenly condemned as a rebel, Roger gets this along with his PTSD. The trope is explicitly mentioned as something a Vietnam veteran friend of Brianna's also had after he got home from the war.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Claire believes in this (aside from once practicing euthanasia). She took the Hippocratic Oath as a physician, famously including "Do no harm". Her loved ones, however, have no such compunction, killing on her behalf (which she mostly doesn't try to stop).
  • Time Skip: The Season 2 finale, "Dragonfly in Amber," starts in 1968.
  • Time-Travel Romance: Claire is originally from the 20th century and can time travel while her soulmate Jamie was born in and is confined to the 18th century.
  • Title Montage: The opening credits are a series of aesthetically-pleasing shots from the show.
  • Torches and Pitchforks:
    • In Season 4, an angry mob storms River Run to lynch Rufus.
    • In Season 6, the Committee of Safety and townsfolk of Fraser’s Ridge come to arrest Jamie and Claire for their alleged crimes of adultery and murder, respectively.
  • Variations on a Theme Song:
    • When the setting moves to France in Series 2, some verses of the theme song are sung in French.
    • In season 3, the theme shifts from a sad Scottish ballad (marking the end of the Highlander culture) to a "modern" feel and then to an island beat when Claire and Jamie travel to Jamaica.
    • In season 4, as the duo comes to America, the theme is filled with banjo music for an Appalachian sound.
    • The season 5 theme song forgoes all instruments and is rendered in a capella by a choir, reminiscent of gospel music.
  • Underwear Swimsuit: Attempting to clear a blockage underneath the mill's waterwheel, Jamie Fraser removes everything but his linen undershirt and goes for a dip (apparently underdrawers or Long Johns weren't a priority for men in 18th-century Scotland- that's kilts for ya!).
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Stephen Bonnet, a thief, is helped by Claire and Jamie. He repays them by coming back with some other thieves to rob everyone.
  • Wham Episode:
    • In "The Devil's Mark," Claire learns that Geillis comes from 1968. This is followed by Claire revealing to Jamie that she comes from the future.
    • Season 2 opens and ends with one. In a flash-forward, Claire returns to her own time and learns that the outcome of the Battle of Culloden remains unchanged — and she's pregnant with her child by Jamie. The season finale, "Dragonfly in Amber," opens on a TV showing an episode of The Avengers (1960s) to show a Time Skip has taken place.
    • In Episode 6.6, Claire almost dies from an illness. Then, Malva claims she and Jamie had consensual sex, and he is the father of her baby. Jamie vehemently denies this, but Malva insists it is true. At the end of the episode, Malva is found murdered outside of the Fraser’s home.
  • Who's Your Daddy?:
    • Brianna isn't sure whether her baby is fathered by Roger or her rapist since the rape took place on the same day as her having consensual sex with Roger. However, they later realize that he's Roger's son, as he grows the same mole.
    • Lizzie reveals she is pregnant, but she doesn't know if Josiah or Keziah is the father. It does not bother her as she is in love with both of them and is happy if either of them is the father.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: While the distance and time from North Carolina to Upstate New York is correct, Brianna’s pregnancy does not add up to the time it should take for Jamie, Claire, and Young Ian to get to Upstate New York.
    • In "The Birds and The Bees," Brianna tells her mother she is 2 months pregnant and was raped. At the end of the episode, Roger comes to Fraser's Ridge, Jamie beats him, and Young Ian sells him to the Mohawk.
    • In "The Deep Heart's Core," Roger tells Caleb it has been a week since he was sold to the Mohawk, and they walk at least 10 miles a day. Claire tells Brianna the Mohawk live in Upstate New York, 700 miles away.
      • If Roger walks 10 miles a day and Upstate NY is 700 miles away, it should take 70 days (approximately 2 months and 10 days) to get to Upstate NY.
      • Jamie tells Claire, Brianna, Young Ian, and Murtagh the New York trip will take 4 months there and back (round trip).
    • In "If Not For Hope," Claire, Jamie, and Young Ian meet with the Cherokee. Young Ian tells Claire and Jamie that it will take 2 months to get to Upstate NY. Later in the episode, Rollo, Claire, Jamie, and Young Ian find Caleb's skeleton. Claire says he's been dead for at least a month, indicating that Jamie, Claire, and Young Ian are about a month behind the Mohawk.
    • In "Man of Worth," Claire, Jamie, and Young Ian make it to Shadow Lake in Upstate New York. It should be at least 2 months since they left North Carolina.
      • Brianna gives birth, but her parents should have made it in time. She should have been at least 7 months pregnant by the time they returned to North Carolina.
      • Brianna's original 2 months of pregnancy, plus 1 extra month before departure, plus the approximate 4 months to travel to NY and back, will equal about 7 months of pregnancy.
    • When Jamie and Claire do get to River Run, Jemmy is already two months old. Roger is understandably late as he had to decide whether or not he wanted to return, but Jamie and Claire should have known how to make it back. Even if Jamie, Claire, and Young Ian were lost, the show makes no indication that they were. They seemed to have followed the same path as Roger and the Mohawk because they found Caleb’s skeleton. Also, Jemmy was not said to have been born early.
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