- Outlander -9 Of The Biggest Changes 'Outlander' Made From The Books
Marriage, death, war, and time travel are all major themes in the Outlander book series. And while that remains true in the Starz adaptation, the TV show sometimes changes the circumstances surrounding such things. There have been plenty of times the Outlander show didn't follow the books by Diana Gabaldon — from seemingly small details to matters of life and death.
Not all changes are created equal, where some may be applauded by book fans and the author alike, others are received not so warmly. And if you haven't read the books, perhaps you'd rather continue living in ignorant bliss about how the show and books differ thankyouverymuch. But if you dare, here are some of the bigger changes the show made.
1. Claire's Return To The 1940s
Season 2 began with a distraught Claire arriving in her own time in 1948. But Dragonfly in Amber starts from the perspective of a young historian named Roger Wakefield encountering Claire in 1968. An adult Roger was eventually introduced in the Season 2 finale. But the whole framing of the second season was a departure from the book where Claire reveals to Roger and Brianna that she had time traveled 20 years ago and then tells them everything that happened in France and Scotland. The show chose to highlight what happened to Claire immediately upon returning to her own time and give me insight into Claire and Frank's marriage.
Outlander show creator Ronald D. Moore explained to The Hollywood Reporter that he thought starting in the 1960s when Brianna was grown and Frank was dead was too much of a jump for viewers and opted instead to start the story in the 1940s.
2. Angus Died While Rupert Lived
The characters of Angus and Rupert were bulked up for the TV show for comedic relief, a change that Gabaldon has said she liked. But the show also changed which of this duo lived and which died. After fighting at Falkirk in Dragonfly in Amber, Rupert is dying in the kirk from a punctured lung. When Claire can't save him, he asks Dougal to take his life.
In the show, Angus died after Prestonpans while Rupert lived to see more battle, where he lost an eye after an attack in "Vengeance Is Mine." This change wasn't that big in the scheme of things though since Rupert ended up dying after Culloden like so many Highlanders.
3. Claire Helped Kill Dougal
One of the most controversial changes was Colum's death in the Season 2 finale. Jamie does kill his uncle in both the book and the show, but Claire didn't assist him in plunging the knife into his heart like she did in the show's version. In the book, Claire's simply a witness to the murder.
Graham McTavish has claimed he was the one who suggested that Claire would not sit back while Jamie fought for his life, previously telling The Dipp, "I said, 'Listen, you know, the way the fight's going, it's touch and go. She would make sure that he was killed. She would help him.'"
It's true that in the original script, Claire did not help plunge the blade into Dougal's heart. And McTavish and Heughan have continued to defend this change in their book Clanlands.
4. Claire Helped Colum With His Assisted Suicide
Everybody talks about how Claire didn't kill Dougal in the books. But she also didn't directly contribute to the death of Jamie's other uncle — Colum MacKenzie — in the books either. In both the show and books, Colum suffers from Pycnodysostosis (Toulouse-Lautrec syndrome) and comes to Claire for some permanent relief for the pain. In Dragonfly in Amber, Claire provides Colum with cyanide after he asks for whatever Geillis had killed her husband Arthur Duncan with. "I thought it possible that you knew what she used to kill her husband. That seemed quick and certain," Colum says. But Colum ends up dying due to his illness before he takes the cyanide.
In "The Hail Mary," Claire gives him yellow jasmine and he does go ahead and take it. It may seem like a slight difference, but in one version, Claire doesn't have to feel responsible for Colum's death — which is no small thing, even if he had asked for it.
5. Jamie Knew About Laoghaire & The Witch Trial
Along with Dougal's death, another majorly controversial change was having Jamie know that Laoghaire was responsible for Claire being arrested as a witch. Laoghaire didn't appear in Dragonfly in Amber, but the show brought in Nell Hudson to reprise the role in Season 2 when Jamie visited his grandfather, Simon Fraser. While confronting Colum about the witch trial in "The Fox's Lair," Claire explicitly states in front of Jamie how Laoghaire was responsible for her arrest. Laoghaire even apologizes to Jamie about it later in the episode.
In the books, Laoghaire doesn't testify at the witch trial, so she's not in the court when Jamie busts in and saves Claire. And Claire never tells Jamie the circumstances surrounding her arrest. It's not until The Fiery Cross in 1771 (28 years after the trial) that Jamie finds out that Laoghaire had tried to kill Claire by sending her to Geillis ahead of Geillis's arrest. "No, I didna ken that at all — Christ, Sassenach, ye canna think I would have marrit the woman, knowing she'd done such a thing to you!" Jamie says at the time.
Episode writer Anne Kenney wrote in the annotated script for "The Fox's Lair" that the show wanted to bring back Laoghaire in Season 2 because they thought his marriage to her in Season 3 "would be more believable if we could redeem her a bit." But it seemed to have the opposite effect on book fans. Many readers struggled to accept that Jamie would have married Laoghaire if he knew about her involvement in Claire's trial. But marry her he did. As an utterly aghast Claire tells him in "First Wife" — "I told you to thank her... not marry her."
6. Murtagh Survived Culloden
Like many Jacobites, Jamie's godfather Murtagh died during the Battle of Culloden in Voyager. But with him having a beefier role in the show, Moore told Mashable, "He became part of the family in a different way than in the books. And I just wasn't ready to let him go in Culloden."
Everything else that happened after (Murtagh being in Ardsmuir, leading the Regulators, having an affair with Aunt Jocasta, etc.) was the show weaving Murtagh into plots that already existed within the books. But with his death at the Battle of Alamance, Murtagh's TV character eventually met a similar fate to his book character.
7. Roger Left Brianna In The Past
Roger and Brianna get in a big fight after their handfasting in both Season 4 and Drums of Autumn. But when they separate in the book, it's partly because they had already orchestrated a plan for him to retrieve gemstones from Stephen Bonnet so that they can have it to return to the future. "Brianna! I shall come for you! Do ye hear me! I will come!" he cries to her after she storms off.
On the show, he just walks out on her after she tells him to leave. Roger does come back for Brianna the next day, but then, Bonnet makes him sail to Philadelphia to finish his time as a crew member on the Gloriana. Either way, Brianna is left waiting to wonder if Roger will return. But she had more of a guarantee in the books.
8. Brianna & Roger Tried To Go Back To Their Own Time
Roger and Brianna may eventually have some more time-traveling adventures, but Season 5 saw them try and fail to go back to their own time far earlier than their book counterparts. At the end of The Fiery Cross, it's actually the opposite with Roger stating to Jamie that they won't be leaving the 18th century. "I will stand by you. We will stay," Roger says, to which Brianna breathes a sigh of relief. Gabaldon wrote the script for "Journeycake," but she clarified on Twitter that it hadn't been her idea to have Brianna and Roger attempt to go back to their own time at this point in the story.
Because the stones spat them back out in "Never My Love" to the 1700s (proving they consider Fraser's Ridge to be their home), their TV attempt didn't change that much in the long run... except for possibly complicating any future time-jumping stories to come.
9. Marsali Killed Lionel Brown
Lionel Brown needed to go after being the leader of Claire's kidnapping and sexual assault. But in A Breath of Snow and Ashes, it was Mrs. Bug who killed Lionel... not Marsali. Mrs. Bug has only been a blip on the TV show, so it made more sense for Marsali to be the one to do it in the Season 5 finale. But it could have repercussions for how other A Breath of Snow and Ashes storylines are told (or not told) in Season 6. Plus, it makes Marsali a murderer, which even if it was very justified, might be something she struggles with during this upcoming season.