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    Franchise-wide 

     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.
  • 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, spawning sequels and a TV series.
  • Evil Is Cool: The Kurgan is an awful, awful, repulsive human being... but he's also a Laughably Evil nutcase played by Clancy Brown, who devours the scenery like there's no tomorrow and puts up a good fight against both Ramirez and Macleod when given the chance.
  • First Installment Wins: None of the sequels could get out of the original film's shadow.
  • 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).
    • It's fairly common for people to jokingly call any seemingly immortal character or person "a Highlander".
    • "You have the manners of a goat and you smell like a dungheap."
  • Moral Event Horizon: The Kurgan is clearly crazy, scary as hell and has killed several immortals throughout the centuries, but his actions suggest a level of Pragmatic Villainy - he doesn't kill the Candy the prostitute or the Crazy Survivalist who shot him, he seems to leave mortals alone and be purely focused on his pursuit of the Prize. But then he admits to Connor that moments after he took Ramirez's head, he then turned his attention to Heather - a gentle mortal girl who was no threat to him, and defiled her. Upon seeing Connor's mortified reaction, he pieces together the truth and takes some sick glee in the fact that Heather took the secret of her rape to her grave, suggesting she secretly liked the violation more than any of the time she spent with Connor, and yearned for the day he would come back and ravish her again. At that point, the viewers are meant to know that the Kurgan really deserves a swift end to his immortal life.
  • 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. And not especially convincing makeup at that.
    • During Ramirez and Kurgan's fight, it's not convincing at all that their sword blows are what's destroying the walls.
  • 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.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Surprisingly, there are not many examples that are much more than simply being dated. The most notable is in fact the opening, where Connor is attending a wrestling event at Madison Square Garden. In the early to mid 80s, wrestling events were held at MSG almost weekly from several promotions, but would drop off to only a few every year by the early 90s when the WWF had an exclusive agreement. Even more so, the event was explicitly an NWA event. In 1986, when the NWA and the WWF were running neck and neck, this was feasible, but within two years, WCW would take over much of the NWA while the NWA itself ceased to be a household name. An event held by the WWF, even at the time, would have a vastly different appearance.
  • Values Resonance: It's quite cool to see a film from the '80s portray a guy who casually throws around homophobic slurs as a Jerkass who deserves to get beaten up.
  • 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. The episode features contradictory flashbacks to the same secret meeting, colored by the subjective perceptions of the surviving participants.
    • 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 here.
  • Designated Villain: While there are plenty that don't fall into this category, its very easy to make a case that a lot 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. Amanda also, due to a combination of Elizabeth Gracen's surprising acting ability (especially in comedy) and exceptional beauty.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, Eric McCormack and Jonathan Banks.
    • Most notably, the episode "Nowhere to Run" marks the first-ever screen acting credit of future Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Anne Lindsay. She is easily the fans’ least favorite of Duncan’s lovers, And There Was Much Rejoicing when she left.
    • Ahriman is reviled for being an Outside-Context Problem, being a late-game villain with completely different tones than the immortal villains faced so far and killing Richie whom fans had grown to like. Not helping is the fact he leads the show into its last season which is generally seen as its weakest point.
  • 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.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The 90s, where the series was set, was pretty much the last "modern" decade where the premise could have worked. Beyond this, the rapid rise of the internet, social media, smartphones with built in video cameras, greater visual surveillance, facial recognition technology, PRISM etc. would have made it far harder for immortals to remain a part of mainstream society without being discovered and outed.
  • 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.
    • Hobart wasn't McCormick's friend but his father-in-law, and Robinson killed him after McCormick had freed him from slavery, educated him about his immortal nature, and asked him not to kill Hobart in turn. More importantly, McCormick ultimately does make peace with Robinson and help him fake his death.
  • Values Dissonance: The season 2 episode "Run for Your Life" revolves around a Watcher disguised as a cop who is hunting down a black immortal. The entire episode, and the scenes of Duncan explaining racism to a black man especially, lands a lot differently in the era of Black Lives Matter.

    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.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • "Q" for "Quickening," usually preceded by the name of the Immortal whose power the Q copies, "Kurgan Q" for the one that adds a point of damage to your attacks, "Luther Q" for the one that lets you block Power Blows without an exertion, etc.
    • "Power Block," being just plain easier to say than "block a Power Blow with an exertion" (or " block a Power Blow without an exertion and take no damage"). Became Ascended Fanon in the second edition.

Alternative Title(s): Highlander The Series

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