- Outlander -Could 'Outlander' Spoil Jamie's Ghost? It's Not Out Of The Question, Says Diana Gabaldon
Outlander series author Diana Gabaldon has known the ending of Claire and Jamie's story for decades. But following the release of Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, it will take her a few more years to write the next novel. Gabaldon isn't sure about everything that will happen in Book 10 yet, but she's "pretty sure" the TV adaptation won't spoil her ending. However, when it comes to Outlander the show ending, there's one elephant in the room (in the form of a Highland ghost) that needs to be discussed.
Yes, it took Gabaldon seven years to write Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone — and yes, every interviewer has asked her about that. But she has shared with multiple outlets that the Starz series won't finish before her tenth and probably — but "not definitely" (!) — final Outlander big book is out. While promoting Bees, she told The Seattle Times, "Even if it took me another five years to finish Book 10, I don't think they could catch me." And she told The Guardian, "I will certainly finish the tenth book before they finish the show."
With Gabaldon maintaining for years that the show will never catch up to her, she told The Guardian she's confident she won't suffer the same fate at George R. R. Martin. Game of Thrones famously lapped his A Song of Ice and Fire series... and reportedly (at least partially) spoiled his book ending. But, not dissimilar to Martin, there is one future plot point that some people behind the Outlander adaptation do know — what happens with Jamie's ghost.
Gabaldon told show creator Ronald D. Moore and star Sam Heughan about how Jamie's ghost from Inverness in the 1940s will come into play at the end of her book series "for a specific reason." At the risk of sounding alarmist, since they have that knowledge, is it possible that the show could spoil Jamie's ghost if Outlander ended before Book 10 came out?
"I can't stop them doing anything they wanted," Gabaldon says. "I mean, I could certainly argue with them, but no. I couldn't stop them doing it."
Now, before you start panicking, Gabaldon doesn't think that scenario is likely to happen. Because if Outlander ends with, say Season 8, she believes her Book 10 will be out by then based on the TV production schedule.
Since Outlander hasn't been renewed for an eighth season as of yet, she turns to the TV schedule for the upcoming Season 7 to prove her point. "Consider they aren't even going to start filming Season 7 until after Season 6 airs, so sometime next year," Gabaldon says during our November 2021 phone interview.
With 16 episodes in Season 7, it'll be a longer filming period than Seasons 2–6. "I can't say whether they're going to shoot all 16 without stopping because that's really, really hard on everybody, or if they're going to have a hiatus like they did with the first season ... It's totally up to them what they do," she says. "But even if they were to shoot straight through ... it takes about nine months just to shoot a 12-episode season, and then it takes another nine months pretty much to do the production on that. So that's 18 months for a 12-episode season."
"It would be a minimum of two to three years before they finish Season 7, during which time I would have been busily writing Book 10," Gabaldon says. "If they then went ahead and did Book 8, I would certainly have Book 10 finished by the time they got to the end of Season 8."
And if the show wraps up with Season 8? Well...
"At that point, we can talk," she adds. "So we'll see."
It's reasonable to assume the show would be very interested to incorporate Jamie's ghost in its ending since his appearance outside of Claire's window was a mystery established 24 minutes into the pilot episode and is still a hot topic for viewers and book readers alike. But perhaps it'll help that Gabaldon has kept a supportive relationship with Heughan over the years. (She wrote the introduction to his book Clanlands, he filmed a segment for her Bees release event.) If she wants to talk to the people behind the show — including Heughan, who became a producer in Season 5 — about not spoiling this particular point, hopefully, they will be open to that discussion... especially since she's a consultant on the show herself.
Something else to remember is that Jamie's ghost isn't the true ending of the Outlander novels and rather sounds more like an epilogue. There's still the ultimate ending of Claire and Jamie's story that only Gabaldon knows. So, if the author continues to keep that ending to herself (which it sounds like she will), then the show can never spoil the experience for readers. So no need to sound the Game of Thrones alarm.