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    Series-wide 

  • Complete Monster: Has its own page.
  • Cult Classic: None of the films performed well financially, but the franchise as a whole has a small but very dedicated fanbase.
  • I Am Not Shazam:
    • There were times when the Immortals as a whole were called "Highlanders" by viewers new to the franchise. "Highlander" is not the name of the Immortals' race, but a reference to Connor's Scottish origins.
    • The name of Clancy Brown's character is not Kurgan. In fact, he has no name (unless one counts the novelization, where it's 'Vitor.') As with several immortals in the film, the Kurgan is known by the culture he comes from, just as Connor is "the Highlander."
  • Memetic Mutation: "There should have been only one" / "There can be only one... good movie", mentioned in the context of the series' Sequelitis.
    • Alternately, fans would say "They should have listened to their own slogan."
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: None of the films have particularly well developed romantic subplots, not even the first one. The sex scenes on the other hand...
  • Sequelitis: One of the most infamous instances of it.
  • So Bad, It's Good: Most of the sequels.

     1986 film 

  • Awesome Music:
    • Queen's song, "Princes of the Universe" as well as their cover of "New York, New York", which has apparently never been released in its complete form anywhere. Also, "Who Wants To Live Forever?" and "Gimme the Prize".
    • Michael Kamen's score, especially for the Training Montage and the final duel.
  • Complete Monster: The Kurgan is a savage immortal and Conner MacLeod's most personal foe. In the past, he slaughtered his entire tribe before moving on to decapitating numerous immortals to try and claim The Prize. Traveling to Scotland, he sets his sights on Connor, immediately stabbing him during a battle. Hunting down the now-immortal Connor, he takes the head of Connor's mentor Ramirez and, believing Connor's wife Heather to be Ramirez's lover, rapes her to cement his victory. Having killed for centuries, the Kurgan, going under "Victor Krueger", heads to New York for The Gathering, where he kills Connor’s immortal friend Kastagir, stabbing a spectator who tried to help. Meeting Connor again in a church, he brags about killing Ramirez and raping Heather, mocking Connor about the possibility that Heather enjoyed it, knowing that Connor can’t hurt him due to being on holy ground. Kidnapping Brenda Wyatt, he drives her to his hideout, playing chicken with various cars and pedestrians along the way. He forces Connor to fight him, promising to torture Brenda if he doesn’t come. A psychopathically childish warrior, the Kurgan would set the standard for future Highlander villains to come.
  • Cult Classic: The film was a box office flop during its theatrical run (grossed $13 million vs. a $19 million budget), but it has largely reached cult status since.
  • First Installment Wins: None of the sequels could get out of the original film's shadow.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Roxanne Hart would go on to star in the TV movie Our Mother's Murder as Anne Scripps Douglas, whose abusive husband drives erratically to terrorize her, much like the Kurgan. Not only is the scene not played for laughs, but it's also Based on a True Story.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Iron Woobie: Connor. While being immortal may sound cool, he's had to deal with having everyone he loves die off multiple times, as well has having people trying to cut his head off for centuries. He still gets the prize at the end.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "There can be only one!"
      • "There can be only one good movie." / "There should have been only one movie." (referring to the franchise's infamous case of Sequelitis).
    • "You have the manners of a goat and you smell like a dungheap."
  • Narm Charm: The movie is very silly. It also has an Evil Is Hammy Big Bad, Sean Connery as The Mentor, sword fights out the wazoo, some banging Queen songs, and introduced the Badass Longcoat / Katanas Are Just Better combination to D & D players the world over. It's a Cult Classic for a reason.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Kirk Matunas, the crazy gun toting vigilante, had no idea what he was walking into but it doesn't change the fact that his attempt in taking down The Kurgan with an machine gun was pretty ballsy.
  • Signature Scene: Several.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • When Connor receives the prize in the first movie, the wire holding him up is visible in multiple shots.
    • Old Heather MacLeod is clearly a young Beatie Edney with makeup.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Some feel that the concepts of The Gathering and The Prize were poorly developed and unexplained, seeing as how the only immortals who seem to know or care about it as it happens are MacLeod, the Kurgan, Sunda, and possibly Fasil. It would've been better to save it for a sequel, which could feature more immortals, more fights, and more world building.
  • Tough Act to Follow: There can be only one... good movie, apparently. All subsequent films in the franchise were critically panned while the first film reached Cult Classic status.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: A Frenchman playing a Scot trying to pass for American and a Scot playing an Egyptian passing for Spanish yet still sounding respectively French and Scottish.

    TV series 

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: In The Complete Watchers Guide, Peter Wingfield points out that it is entirely possible that everything Methos has ever done on the series has been a manipulation to get Duncan into a position where he can kill him. Wingfield maintains that, while he did not personally believe this to be the case, such a revelation would not contradict anything that we know about the character, and he would have no difficulty playing it.
    • In a separate interview, he also debates Methos' sincerity about offering Duncan his head, saying that he played the scene as sincere at the time, but that the next few years worth of character development potentially cast this into doubt. As a Watcher, Methos would know a great deal about other Immortals, and he would know that MacLeod would be very unlikely to accept the offer, turning his apparent Heroic Sacrifice into a high risk bit of manipulation.
      • Heck, Methos has survived for five thousand years. The amount of things he has seen and done in that time, and how he has kept himself alive with everyone wanting a piece of the oldest Immortal (and his stated intention to keep on surviving no matter what) means his every action is open to this trope.
    • It is mentioned in the commentary for Through A Glass Darkly that the episode's very premise questions the accuracy of every flashback we see in the series.
    • Was Simon Killian a bloodthirsty maniac who ignored the WWI Armistice because he wanted one more gigantic battle? Or did he honestly believe that anything less than a total defeat would leave the door open for further bloodshed and was trying to prevent another war?
  • Bile Fascination: The Raven isn't bad so much as it derivative, depressing and forgettable, but the behind-the-scenes featurette (The Unraveling of a Series) is required viewing. Literally everything went wrong. Each testimony is more outlandish than the last.
  • The Cast Showoff: Jim Byrnes was showcased numerous times playing guitar and singing blues music.
  • Complete Monster: See Highlander
  • Designated Villain: While there are plenty that don't fall into this category, its very easy to make a case that alot of Highlander villains are exactly this. Offscreen, other immortals are almost certainly coming for them, so they come for other immortals. If they can get an extra quickening, their odds of survival go up. A particularly notable case was Tyler King who Attempted to take the head of an idiot savant immortal, knowing that he had absolutely no chance in the game whatsoever, and was thus doomed anyway. To underscore this point after killing King, Duncan and Richie came to the same conclusion anyway.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse, thy name is Methos.
  • Evil Is Cool: Given that the villains tend to be men with literally centuries of knowledge and combat experience, this is very, very prevalent. Xavier St. Cloud, Kalas, Kronos, and even one-shot villains like Grayson, Martin Hyde, and Otavio Consone are all very stylish and badass.
  • Fan Discontinuity: Many pretend that the Ahriman arc and season 6 didn’t happen. Except maybe for “Indescretions.” They even formed “The Clan Denial” over Richie dying.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • The evil immortals have often been called “K’immies” because so many have names starting with a “K” or hard “C” sound.
    • Methos is the ROG or Really Old Guy.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: Even the production team hates William Culbraith's outfit. Though not precisely a villain, Steven Keane's matching red suit and fur-trimmed overcoat are certainly an eyesore.
  • Genius Bonus: A fair amount of thought was put into what sort of sword each Immortal would use.
    • Kronos' broadsword was clearly decorated for maximum intimidation, with spikes on the handguard and pommel for additional damage during infighting.
    • Steven Keane, a proudly English Immortal, used a British army saber.
    • Otavio Consone used a flamberge-blade rapier. This would result in cuts that were more painful and, assuming one survived the duel, more difficult to close and heal properly. This sums Consone up perfectly.
    • Damon Case's thirteenth century broadsword is the right vintage to have been used in The Crusades . . . of which Case is a veteran.
    • For one that doesn't involve swords, Paul Karros mentions being a Thracian, from a country that extended into the Balkans and fighting alongside Spartacus in the Third Servile War. In the present, he's leading a revolution in an unnamed Balkan country, and his zeal makes even more sense when you realize he's actually fighting for his homeland.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Richie’s death, with Stan Kirsch having taken his own life in early 2020.
  • Ho Yay:
    • Richie has it Something fierce with Pete Wilder in Counterfeit.
    • You can almost hear fangirls around the world squee when he hugs Duncan goodbye at the airport, even more so after the crack about kissing him.
    • Duncan/Methos, Within ten minutes of meeting the man, Duncan declares he'll protect Methos, just a few hours later Methos tries to sacrifice himself for Duncan. At that point their reasons aren't personal. It's Duncan being the good guy he is and Methos putting the greater good ahead of himself. Pretty soon they start to really care about each other and the chemistry becomes plain as day.
    • Lord Byron, who came across as being constantly out for threesomes with Methos and whatever poetry groupie crossed his radar.
    • Fans seemed to think there was something between Methos and Kronos as well, to the point where they asked Kronos' actor about it in a panel.
    • And before all that was Duncan/Darius. Duncan's reaction to his death in "The Hunters" (once he stops screaming, that is) comes off less like a close friend dying, and more like a girlfriend breaking up with him.
    • Haresh Clay and Carter Wellan, from "The End of Innocence". Carter was Clay's squire for 900 years, and the episode's plot revolves around Clay hunting Richie in a murderous rage after Richie takes Carter's head. Throughout, Clay seems genuinely heartbroken and miserable over Carter's death, even mourning at his grave just before the final duel. The DVD special features basically establish them as a gay couple, referring to Wellan as the "one perfect love" for Clay, as well as his "soul's companion".
  • Jerkass Has a Point: No matter who wins the Prize, the idea of anyone having the power to rule all of humanity is a pretty scary one. Horton's trying to make sure no Immortal ever wins the Prize, ensuring humanity's free will and self-determination, isn't completely wrong.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Methos again.
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • Grayson was born in Dacia as Claudianus. Becoming immortal, he soon entered into the tutelage of the infamous immortal warlord Darius. When Darius left war behind Grayson was outraged and felt deeply betrayed by it, dedicating himself to warfare and became such an exemplary player of the Game that some believed he may be The One one day. In modern day, Grayson begins murdering Darius's students in the ways of peace to draw Darius off holy ground and destroy him in retribution for his betrayal, until Duncan Macleod interferes. Grayson constantly conducts himself with the utmost politeness with Duncan, at one point informing him he didn't believe men like Duncan still existed as "I've killed so many".
    • Otavio Consone. He was raised in a wealthy, powerful Spanish family and the woman Duncan loved was forced to marry him between her father and begging Consone to spare Duncan. Later he kills her and then keeps doing the same thing in the present. This time he seduces the woman’s daughter and threatens to continue it. He’s smug, arrogant and manipulative but takes pride in being a gentleman too.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Nefetiri in "The Pharaoh's Daughter": She carried a 2000 year grudge against a former Roman General, who was also an immortal, named Constantine. Blaming him for events out of his control (the peace between Egypt and Rome failing and Cleopatra's eventual suicide) she killed his current lover in cold blood since she was his 'entire world'. Infuriated, Duncan kicks her out and she goes to confront Constantine on Holy Ground, forcing Duncan to fight her away from it. When Duncan managed to get the upper hand, offering her one last chance for a new future based on love instead of manipulation? She stabbed him through the heart, literally. Duncan was forced to cut off her head to stop her.
    • Mako in "Under Color of Authority": A 800 year old lawman, he pursues anyone, no matter of guilt, innocence, or intent with deadly force for the bounty they have. Before the 20th century, this was an acceptable but regrettable practice. In the 20th Century, especially the late 20th century? He comes off as a man who has no real morals and even Duncan calls him out when he says "I am the law!" To get the bounty for a girl who fled Texas after she killed her abusive husband in self defense, he ran her over, and showed absolutely no remorse.
  • More Popular Spin-Off: In some circles, say the word "Highlander" without context and people are more likely to remember the series than the films which inspired it.
  • Narm:
    • Duncan discovering the Darius' body, because of Adrian Paul’s acting. He got a bit hammy doing the Say My Name yell.
    • Debra Campbell’s death in “Homeland” was hard to take seriously for many because of her actress wearing an awful, unnatural-looking red wig.
    • The Lisa plot's resolution is this just because it's so much. Initially it's a little far-fetched and somewhat fridge-logic-y as to why Horton didn't do literally anything else to trap Duncan, but the end, when a woman who has been surgically altered to look like Tessa dies on Tessa's literal grave, is really just too much to take seriously. There's acknowledging Duncan's grief and then there's browbeating the audience with it til it becomes absurd melodrama.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Richie starts off as incredibly annoying and bratty, which doesn't much improve even when he becomes immortal. It's generally agreed he does get better over the course of the series with a very compelling character arc. Fans tend to agree that killing off Richie was the show's Jump the Shark moment (though his death being caused by a Zoroastrian demon named Ahriman might have been a contributing factor).
  • Retroactive Recognition: The series contains repeated instances of this, particularly in the early seasons, including appearances by Jason Isaacs, Ron Perlman, and Will McCormack.
    • Most notably, the episode "Nowhere to Run" marks the first-ever screen acting credit of future Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Richie to some. They saw him as annoying and getting in the way too much early on.
    • Anne Lindsay. She is easily the fans’ least favorite of Duncan’s lovers, And There Was Much Rejoicing when she left.
    • Tessa has her share of complaints too, from fans who find her whiny and a bit too damsel-in-distress at times.
    • Among the one-shot Immortal villains, Kanwulf the Viking is generally considered one of the worst. Mainly it's because Kanwulf just isn't all that menacing, despite being the legendary warrior who killed Duncan's father. He's a trim, handsome man with a soft voice who doesn't even put up that much of a fight during the episode's climactic duel.
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • Neither of the theatrical releases based on the show, Endgame or The Source, were well-recieved by the fans or casual viewers, although some die-hard fans found parts of Endgame redeemable, particularly the flashbacks to Connor's loved ones over the years.
    • There was widespread backlash at the death of one of the central characters in Season Five, and some fans chose to deny the Sixth Season even exists. It is widely-agreed that this season suffered a big drop in quality: Paul was trying (and ultimately failing) to untether himself from Highlander, so the final season was a glorified screen-test to find a female replacement. The spinoff starring a female immortal (The Raven) is held in even-lower regard than Season Six and vanished from the collective memory; it's a curiosity for historians and die-hard fans, nothing more. The Raven is only notable for the behind-the-scenes craziness, which was chronicled in the DVD set.
  • Squick: At one point, to escape the titular characters of "Mountain Men" who have him at gunpoint, Duncan decides to leap off of a high cliff. The men assume that he's dead until a conversation their leader has with Tessa asserts otherwise. We then see Duncan recovering at the bottom of the ravine, with his bones gradually (and audibly) snapping back into place as his Healing Factor kicks in.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Anne Lindsey was poorly received, due to her romance with Duncan being seen as coming much too soon after Tessa's death. (Notably, Duncan only had flirtations or very short-lived relationships for more than a season after his "death" from Kalas) The actor herself stated this was the reason for her being written off the show in at least one interview. Her later return was better received.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The Victor Gains Loser's Powers nature of Quickenings is never really explored, or even explained in any great detail. It's mentioned a few times that an Immortal who kills another gets all their knowledge and power, but nothing is really done with that concept. A prime example is "The Innocent," an episode with a mentally handicapped Immortal named Mikey who loves trains and has an encyclopedic knowledge of them, but can't defend himself in The Game. In the end, for assorted reasons, he voluntarily removes his own head via train, and Richie, who's befriended him, gets his Quickening. The episode closes with Duncan and Richie hearing a train whistle in the distance and smiling as they remember their friend, but how much more impactful might it have been for Richie to identify the train by its whistle, location, and the time of day, as Mikey would have? They did allude to it in season 5, with Richie picking up habits of an immortal he killed, but that was it.
    • Despite being central to the plot of three episodes, we never find out for certain what mystical power the Methuselah Stone holds.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: The Season 5 episode "Manhunt" gives us Matthew McCormick, the Immortal police detective who's pursuing Carl Robinson. Carl is accused of murder, but the man he killed was actually an Immortal headhunter who Carl killed in self-defense. McCormick knows this, but is actually after Carl because he wants revenge for a friend of his that Carl killed back in 1859. The problem with that is that McCormick's murdered friend, Seth Hobart, was a Southern slavemaster, and Carl was one of his escaped black slaves. The episode tries to portray McCormick as somewhat justified in wanting revenge, but since he's knowingly abusing his position to avenge someone as heinous as Hobart, it's difficult to sympathize with him at all.
  • What an Idiot!: Richie in season 3. Duncan tells him that joining a professional motorcycle racing team is a terrible idea because he risks dying in front of thousands of people. But Richie does it anyway and he dies just like Mac warned, forcing him to leave Paris before he’s recognized. Oddly he isn’t afraid of being recognized just a season or two later.

    Trading card game 

  • Cult Classic: Much like the rest of the franchise, retains a very dedicated fanbase even after all this time, to the point it's the only Highlander media still in production on some level.


Alternative Title(s): Highlander The Series

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