- Outlander -The Best Book References In 'Outlander' Season 6
Spoilers ahead for Outlander Season 6 and Outlander books.
Readers of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series are pretty quick to pick up on when the show isn't following the books. But the production team of the Starz show does like to pay homage to the source material, as the best book references in Outlander Season 6 prove. Outlander is obviously based on Gabaldon's books, so readers get the treat of seeing their favorite characters come to life every episode. But for every storyline departure (in the Season 6 premiere alone there was Allan Christie's flogging and Claire using ether), Outlander does include a book Easter egg or two that rewards readers. Here are the best nods to the Outlander books in Season 6.
1. The A Breath Of Snow And Ashes Prologue
In Claire's voiceover for the "previously on" portion of the premiere, she quotes herself from Season 5, Episode 9 with "Time is marked and measured in different ways. The colors of our lives were changing." But these lines, "Give anything enough time, and everything is taken care of: all pain encompassed, all hardship erased, all loss subsumed. And if Time is anything akin to God, I suppose that Memory must be the Devil," are pulled directly from the prologue of A Breath of Snow and Ashes — the sixth book that Season 6 is primarily based on.
2. "Johnnie Cope"
The song Lesley (a returned Keith Fleming) sings at Ardsmuir to taunt the non-Jacobites in prison is "Johnnie Cope." This song about Prestonpans is the song Brianna witnesses Roger sing at the Highland festival in Drums of Autumn while she reflects on the truth about her Highlander father. Roger sings it again at the Ridge in The Fiery Cross.
3. The Tartan In Ardsmuir
Although the show took some liberties with the Ardsmuir flashback, Jamie did get flogged for taking the rap for owning a piece of outlawed tartan. This was featured from Lord John Grey's point of view (and Jamie's following the lashing) in Voyager and is an event that Tom Christie discusses with Claire in A Breath of Snow and Ashes. Jamie seeing Claire as his "angel" could be referencing how he tells Claire in Book 6 that "Sometimes I saw ye," in his sleep while imprisoned.
4. The Freemasons
In The Fiery Cross, it was revealed Jamie became a Freemason (despite being Catholic) thanks to the governor of Ardsmuir, Harry Quarry. The Masons were referenced in Voyager, but it seemed like the show might've skipped this detail (although Outlander Cast noted how Freemasons' symbol was featured in A. Malcolm's printshop sign back in Season 3). But considering Jamie being a Mason played a big part in Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, readers could rejoice in its inclusion.
5. Mrs. Bug's Table Setting
Book fans couldn't help but notice that Murdina Bug wasn't very prominent in Season 5. But the nosey housekeeper and excellent cook of the Big House got a little screentime and added a little levity when she and Lizzie silently battled over the proper way to set the table. Mrs. Bug from the books wouldn't do much silently, but I won't complain.
6. Two's Better Than One For Lizzie
When Lizzie fumbled in front of Fergus, saying, "Two hands would be more useful," a drunk Fergus hinted at a lighter book storyline between Lizzie and the Beardsley twins that readers are clamoring for. "But two's better than one, a-hey Lizzie?" She played dumb in the moment ("I'm sure I dinna ken what you mean"), but Lizzie might know exactly what Fergus is referencing later this season.
7. Claire's Drums Of Autumn Voiceover
Just like at the beginning of the episode, Claire used Gabaldon's words again at the end of the episode. When she uses the ether on herself (a very big departure from the books!), she quotes from the (ahem) hauntingly beautiful Drums of Autumn prologue that begins, "I've never been afraid of ghosts. I live with them daily."
8. Adso The Cat
When Adso appeared in the title card sitting on a British redcoat, book readers could breathe a sigh of relief that Claire's adorable gray kitty hadn't been forgotten this season. He caused a sneezing fit for Major MacDonald — further acknowledgment of their adversarial relationship in the books — and he comforted Marsali during her labor with Henri-Christian.
9. Lord John Grey's Gift Of Phosphorus
Lord John Grey is mostly present in A Breath of Snow and Ashes through his letters to Jamie and deliveries to Fraser's Ridge via his servant Bobby Higgins. So while it's confirmed that David Berry will thankfully appear onscreen this season, Brianna telling Roger that the phosphorus is a present from Lord John pays homage to his ABOSAA correspondence. Brianna and Roger's dialogue about Bree's latest science experiment was also pretty much straight from Chapter 12.
10. The Sin-Eater
The Sin-Eater provided some additional levity to Old Mrs. Wilson's resurrection when he pronounced, "You're not dead?" But I wonder if this was a one-off for book readers' sake or if his presence will matter later on when an illness comes for Claire. (per
11. Mr. Bug's Trip To River Run
Jamie asked Mr. Bug to fetch any letters for him when he goes to deliver whisky to Aunt Jocasta at River Run. With Arch's, "Yer humble servant, sir," retort, the Bug-gold storyline may be alive and well.
12. Claire Calling Tom A Masochist
This reference was for TV-only fans, too, but it was too good not to mention. Claire calls Tom a "masochist" when he doesn't want to use the ether for his hand surgery in "Temperance." He doesn't know the meaning of the word… much like Jamie didn't understand what Claire meant when she called him a "sadist" after he beat her with his belt. Jamie and Claire share a look between them that proves their remembering that moment from years ago too.
Jemmy is playing with his carved toy — a wooden car, aka his "vroom." In Chapter 18, appropriately titled "Vroom!," Bree names the wooden toy cars that Roger has carved that since "car" or "automobile" wouldn't make sense to children in the 18th century. But as Marsali demonstrates in "Temperance" the word "vroom" doesn't hold much meaning to people of that time period either.
14. Jamie's Poker
The title card shows a poker in a fire, which turns out is the poker that Jamie threatens the children who had put Henri-Christian in the water with. Show Jamie is far more benevolent than Book Jamie (18th-century standards vs. portraying that on a 21st-century show and all that) and in the book, he does actually burn the one child and hits the others. But hey, book or show, the kids got their bread and honey in the end — and learned not to hurt Henri-Christian ever again.
15. Claire's Hair
Poor Tom Christie is all entranced by Clair's hair after she performs surgery on his hand. But he shows his admiration in a judgmental way — by quoting St. Paul, "And every woman who prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head. For that is just as if she were shaven." (Man, St. Paul really did have a bee in his bonnet about women.) This entire scene was all from the book, but the quote about a woman's head being shaved did make book readers wonder if Claire's head will be shaved on the show when she gets sick.
Another chapter title that got a shoutout was Chapter 48, "Woodears," when Jamie and Malva go for a stroll in the woods while Malva harvests the mushrooms. Jamie's just being nice to the odd young woman (and trying to get some dirt on her family), but book readers should've had a sinking feeling in the pit of their stomachs.
17. Lizzie's No Fool
During quarter day, Lizzie believes the Beardsley twins are trying to con her into giving them all of the ale. "I'm no fool, Josiah Beardsley," she replies. Oh, she's definitely going to mix up which twin is which, isn't she?
18. The MacNeill Family
Roger praises Padraic on quarter day telling him, "Well done, sir. Keep this up, and ye'll have enough to feed a family of five." But as the first victims of the bloody flux that sweeps the Ridge in A Breath of Snow and Ashes, his wife and child die. Roger's seemingly sweet statement is twinged with a sad irony if the show follows that plot.
19. The MacGregors
The MacGregors are the couple that Fergus rightfully gets into a fight with after they insult Henri-Christian. But it's possible their last name is a reference to Alex MacGregor. The Bible that Jamie reads from during Tom Christie's surgery had belonged to the Fort William prisoner Alex MacGregor, who killed himself rather than keep taking Black Jack's abuse.
20. Greased Lightning
Claire and Jamie's morning discussion of "lubricated brilliance" and being "thunderstruck" was pretty much straight from the book (though Brianna had taught her father the phrase in the novel). And before you think that Claire was ahead of her time with an anachronistic reference to the Grease song, the term "greased lightning" has been around since the 19th century. As for that "lubricated brilliance," in the book, Claire facilitates their love making with some almond cream, so that's what both she and Jamie were referring to... though the lube went unmentioned on the show.
21. The Soul & Ether
Bobby Higgins isn't around to be a test subject for Claire's ether. But Claire talking about the visions people see while Josiah is under may have been a reference to the dark form that Bobby saw when he tried the ether. And since Gabaldon tweeted that the form was "Malva's soul," Lizzie asking about souls may not be a coincidence. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!
22. The Cost Of Claire
When Chief Bird asks how much Jamie paid for his wife, Jamie's response on the show and in the book is nearly identical — "She cost me almost everything I had. She was worth it." But the book version is more humorous while the show version leaned into the sweet side.
Another episode, another chapter title shoutout. In "Hour of the Wolf," Malva mentions how her brother thinks there's "ensorcellment" in Claire's medical journal. That's the name of Chapter 22 where Claire's bemused that Malva uses such a highfalutin word, but then remembers her father was a schoolmaster.
24. Bonnet's Balls
In The Fiery Cross, Brianna shot Stephen Bonnet in the testicles when Jamie and Roger tried to kill him at Wylie's Landing. He survived to hunt her down another day in A Breath of Snow and Ashes. The show condensed these plots to have the villain die in Season 5, but the shot of Jamie eyeing Bonnet's "bollocks" at the Red Falcon was a reference to Claire encountering the doctor who had one of Bonnet's balls following Brianna shooting him. Even Herself says so.
25. The Red Falcon
The inn where the Sons of Liberty meet is called the Red Falcon, a place not in the books. This may be a stretch, but there's a reference to the HMS Falcon in the newspaper L'Oignon-Intelligencer — the very paper that Fergus and Marsali run. The mention of the Falcon in the publication comes right before the announcement that Stephen Bonnet has been sentenced to death. With the reference to Bonnet's balls and Aunt Jocasta buying a printshop for Fergus, I might not be making this connection up.
26. Mary's Mom
Mary, Jocasta's slave, isn't from the books. But her character seemed to be filling in a bit for Phaedre, especially when she mentioned that her mother, Hanna, had died. During Jocasta's wedding in The Fiery Cross, Phaedre's mom Betty was murdered, so this exchange could be alluding to that plot the shows skipped. (As for Phaedre, for Season 5, actor Natalie Simpson hadn't been available, so perhaps that was the case again.)
27. Roses Nearby During The Versailles Flashback
When Claire has her flashback to King Louis XV in ABOSAA, it's partially prompted by the smell of nearby yellow briar roses that makes her think of the French king's rose oil. Though the show had Aunt Jocasta bring up Claire's previous brushes with royalty that brought on the flashback, they did add the thoughtful touch of having roses on the gazebo near Claire.
28. The Frenchman's Gold
With the talk of Mr. Bug delivering sweetmeats to Jocasta's and Mary telling Jamie how his aunt has been having nightmares about "money stained by blood, her daughter Morna, and French gold," it really does seem the Frenchman's gold plot is going to happen.
29. Cousins Making Mischief
If you've made it to Book 8, Written in My Own Heart's Blood, you probably sniffled when Marsali told Brianna that Henri-Christian and Bree's unborn child will meet and "They'll be making mischief together. I'm sure of it." And when I say "sniffled," I mean bawled.
30. Wendigo's Whistling
The face of the thief with Flora MacDonald's gemstone in prison wasn't shown, but it's undoubtedly time traveler Wendigo Donner. In the books, he approaches Brianna at River Run whistling The Beatles' "Yellow Submarine." Production has previously stated how The Beatles' music is a bit costly to license — showrunner Matthew B. Roberts talked about it on The Official Outlander Podcast (at 32:20) about Roger not singing "Yesterday" on his wedding night to Bree in "The Fiery Cross" like he did in the book. So the switch to the "Colonel Bogey March" might have been partially due to that.
31. Snakes All Over The Place
Though book readers got Old Grannie Wilson's resurrection, it seems that we're not getting the snake during Roger's first sermon. But Malva shared in "The World Turned Upside Down" that Mr. Crombie brought a snake in to church, so that's your consolation prize. This allowed Malva to tell Jamie she was terrified of snakes, like she did in the "Woodears" chapter. Plus, it all linked to the snake that Claire dreams of being in her house (psst, it's Malva).
32. Claire's Heart In Her Hands
She doesn't mention it to Jamie, but Claire also sees herself holding a heart in her hands during her fever dreams while she's ill. When she's sick in the book, Claire narrates, "In desperation, I thrust my hands — if they were my hands — through the misty gray and seized some warm, moist object, very slippery, that throbbed, convulsing in my hands. I looked down and knew it all at once to be my own heart."
33. Blue Is The Color Of Healing
Show watchers can appreciate Claire remembering that Master Raymond told her that the blue was the color of healing after she lost Faith. But readers know that Claire saw a "small blue glow that seemed to light the palms of my hands for an instant" when she tried to save Malva's baby that came back in a big way in Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone.
34. Claire's A Faithful Creature
While the timeline of "The World Turned Upside Down" was different than the books, the episode featured so many direct quotes, including Jamie naming Claire's virtues and Claire's lines of not belonging in this time but loving Jamie more than the life that was hers.
This article will be updated throughout Outlander Season 6.