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Series / Outlander

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Outlander is a British-American television drama series, adapted from Diana Gabaldon's series of novels, and airing on Starz. It's created by Ronald D. Moore, of Battlestar Galactica fame. It stars Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan and Tobias Menzies.

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

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.


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.

Its fifth season premiered on February 16, 2020.


  • 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, and 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:
    • Claire and Geillis Duncan are prosecuted for witchcraft. The year is 1743, and the British Parliament had abolished this crime in 1735. Under the Witchcraft Act they passed, it was made a crime to accuse someone of this. It's brought up by their attorney, but they're being tried in a church court, which is a separate jurisdiction. The last real Scottish prosecution for witchcraft was in 1727.
    • Claire and Geillis are condemned on the testimony of a Catholic priest. In a Church of Scotland court. Catholicism being illegal at the time, and Catholic clergy subject to imprisonment, a priest would keep as far away from a Church of Scotland court as he could; nor would such a court accept testimony from a priest.
    • Characters from the Highlands are often heard using words from the Lowland Scots language to give the English dialogue a more Scottish flavour. Historically very few Highlanders in this period would've spoken Scots, as English was considered the language of prestige and was the medium of instruction in schools, while Gaelic was the vernacular. After the language had been neglected by the Scottish government and the Lowland nobility for the better part of a century, it had been replaced by English even in some parts of the Lowlands.
      • Most of the accents in the show bear fairly little resemblance to the way English would be spoken by a native speaker of Scottish Gaelic. Justified in that this accent would likely not be as recognisably "Scottish" to American or international viewers (it's often said to sound more like an Irish or Welsh accent).
      • In general, most of the less well-educated Highlanders, such as Angus and Rupert, would likely not have been able to speak any English at all. For obvious reasons, this is altered in the show.
    • During preparations for the Battle of Culloden, a Jacobite soldier can be seen wielding a large two-handed Claymore, a sword which had not been used for around 100 years at this point.
    • Claire introduces Jamie to the word "fuck", which he is initially bewildered by, the suggestion being that it wasn't a word used in Scotland. Though not as common as in English, prominent Scots writers had been using the word since the 16th century.
    • The Jacobite rebellion is presented as very much an England vs Scotland conflict in the show (not helped by the fact that the terms "English" and "British" are occasionally conflated). The truth is far more complex, as there were a number of Jacobites in England, and certainly not all Scots supported the cause. Within Scotland itself, it could probably best be characterized as Catholics and Episcopalians vs Presbyterians. Still, there would have been no real reason to suspect Claire just because she happened to be English. In the 18th century in particular, Highlanders would likely have had more loyalty to their clans, and, more broadly, other Highlanders, than they would have had to the nation of Scotland.
    • The difference between Highlanders and Lowlanders in the 18th century was far larger than is depicted in the show. Their languages, political systems, culture, and music were all completely separate from one another. For a modern viewer, the difference can be thought of as being roughly equivalent to that of somebody from France and somebody from Germany.
    • The term "Sassenach" (literally "Saxon") was used by 18th century Highlanders to refer both to the English and the Lowland Scots—essentially a person who didn't speak Gaelic. In the show, it is presented as meaning only "English person."
    • The show gives the impression that there was some settlement of Highland Scots in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. However, nearly all of the Scottish-origin people who settled in the Appalachians were Scots-Irish, descended mainly from lowland Scots farmers who had moved to Ireland in the 17th century, and had very little cultural overlap with the Highlanders. The location of Grandfather Mountain as the setting of the North Carolina Highland Games was chosen not because of an immigrant connection but because the real location the Highlanders had settled—the Cape Fear Valley, where Jocasta Cameron's plantation is located—was deemed not atmospheric enough (too flat).
    • When Claire mentions Germany in the third episode of Season 1, Jamie initially doesn't know what she is talking about until she uses the term "Prussia" instead. There are two problems with this: First, the Kingdom of Prussia, even at its greatest extent, never encompassed the entirety of what is now known as Germany. Second, although the various German principalities had not yet been unified into a single nation state by the time the series is set in, the word "Germany" as a general term for the geographical area where German was the dominant language had been used since the early middle ages, making Jamie's confusion an anachronism.
      • In contrast, "Italy" (which was similarly fragmented at the time) is correctly used to refer to the whereabouts of Charles Stuart.
  • 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, 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 the Highland clans who were still Catholics (and not surprisingly make up the bulk of Jacobites). The series doesn't make this clear.
    • Moreover, not all the Highlanders were Catholic. Clan Campbell, one of the largest and most famous of all the Scottish clans, was firmly Protestant, as were several others.
    • 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 his son. He tells Roger that is Catholic doctrine as 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, as Scottish law actually had burned at the stake as 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.
  • Cessation of Existence: Discussed by Roger and Ian after the first stops the latter's attempted suicide. Since he had nearly died by hanging, Ian asks Roger what he saw. Roger says he saw his wife, which 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 a woman).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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. Alex and Mary Hawkins conceive a child together. Because Alex is fatally ill and too unwell to wed Mary, he pleads for Jack to wed Mary in his place so Mary will be provided for after his death. Jack agrees to marry her, promising Alex he will protect and provide for Mary. As a result, everyone believes Mary and Alex's child is the child of Mary and Jack.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 8 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 is 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • The Stoner: Father Fogden, who adapts the habit of smoking a local herb called yupa (scientific name: Anadenanthera peregrina) in a pipe — "quite relaxing".
  • 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.
  • 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 and Jamie.
  • Title Montage: The opening credits are a series of aesthetically-pleasing shots from the show.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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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