It's no exaggeration to say that there is nothing else quite like Outlander on TV right now. A unique mix of history, romance, fantasy, and more, this series follows Claire Randall, a nurse who finds herself transported back to the Scottish Highlands in 1743, finding new love and untold dangers along the way.
As of 2019, the show, which is based on the long-running series of books by Diana Gabaldon, has now been on the air for four excellent seasons. We've gone from 1940s England to 1700s Scotland, to France, Jamaica and back for the Battle of Culloden. In all this time, the show has gained innumerable dedicated fans who tune in eagerly to see the trials and tribulations of Claire and Jaime Fraser, as well as the strength of their love through all that comes against them.
Being predominantly a historical drama, accuracy about the past is essential. Outlander is known for taking particular care with its presentation of this world that has long since been, but like any TV series, mistakes can and do happen. Sometimes this is down to historical inaccuracies as one might expect, but it can also be major or minor plot holes, costume fails or even simple continuity errors between shots.
While most of these little errors are unnoticeable upon a first watch, even some eagle-eyed fans may not have discovered these ones when going back to binge old seasons.
Plot points will be freely spoiled, so read on at your own discretion.
Whether you're still catching up or eagerly devouring the current season, here are 20 Mistakes Even True Fans Missed In Outlander.
Episodes: "The Garrison Commander" / "The Wedding" (season 1, episodes 6 and 7)
After all that she has been through by coming into the stones and getting trapped in the past, Claire has managed to keep herself alive with a little help from the Highlanders. Unfortunately, Black Jack Randall is after her, and she risks being captured and tortured by him unless she becomes a Scot - which, in this case, involves marrying one; Jamie.
In the episode "The Wedding", Claire protests that she cannot marry Jamie because she doesn't know his real name. However, in the previous episode, "The Garrison Commander", Claire reads the contract of marriage, which lists her full name - and, of course, Jamie's. This means that she must have, in fact, known his full name.
Episode: "Of Lost Things" (season 3, episode 4)
Separated from Claire, Jamie finds work for himself as a groomsman to the aristocrats in the struggling estate of Helwater. While he is biding his time there, we are introduced to the estate's owner, Lord William Dunsany, a man whose tangled web of family drama threatens to draw Jamie in if he doesn't keep his guard up.
Soon, we meet the two daughters of Lord William Dunsany - Geneva and Isobel, who are referenced specifically as Lady Geneva and Lady Isobel. In reality, Lord Dunsany was a baron, so his daughters would have actually been addressed by the title 'Miss' instead. Only the female children of dukes, earls or marquesses may be addressed as 'Lady'.
Episode: "Crème de Menthe" (season 3, episode 7)
We're just a couple minutes into the episode, right after the opening theme; it's the dead of night, and Claire is peacefully sleeping alone when suddenly, she is ferociously attacked in her bed by a strange man who threatens her. Claire pulls a knife on him, warning him to back off, but when he refuses she is forced to slice at him in self-defense - before he trips over and knocks himself out anyway (and she later attempt to save his life).
Watch the whole violent exchange carefully, and keep your eyes trained particularly on Claire's knife. After she attacks, the blade of her weapon can be seen wobbling just a little, showing that it is, in fact, a harmless rubber prop.
Episode: "Down the Rabbit Hole" (season 4, episode 7)
For the first episode of the series in which neither Claire nor Jamie appear, we switch gears and instead follow Brianna as she takes a walk in her mother's footsteps, making the same journey through the mystical stones and arriving in 18th century Scotland. After finding the letter of explanation that she has left for him, Roger comes along, hoping that he may find her.
As the episode begins, we see Brianna making herself a sandwich for the trip, which she then clearly cuts into halves. Later on, when she unwraps the sandwich to eat it, the sandwich is whole again - certainly never cut in half at all. Maybe Bree discovered a little magic of her own.
Episode: "To Ransom a Man's Soul" (season 1, episode 16)
In the previous episode, "Wentworth Prison," Jamie found himself imprisoned and awaiting a death sentence at the hands of Black Jack Randall. Claire and the Highlanders put together a rescue plan - but it is too late. Jamie is not ended - but instead, Randall begins to viciously torture him. This continues into the episode "To Ransom a Man's Soul," before Jamie is finally swept to safety.
Part of the brutal torture was the mangling of Jamie's hand. It's a terrible injury. However, over the course of multiple scenes, the injured hand goes from severely damaged to just covered in blood, and continues to alternate. This is most likely because of the swapping between a fake hand and the actor's own hand when necessary - but it stands out if you're paying attention.
Episode: "The Way Out" (season 1, episode 3)
Here's one for the history fans: in the third episode of the series, Jamie takes Claire to the Black Kirk, a site with a sinister - nay, satanic - reputation. It turns out that many people, mostly children, had been mistakenly eating the poisonous plant Lily of the Valley, which is not native to Scotland and was causing the mass illnesses there.
Claire asks Jaime if the monks who built the church were from Germany. This confuses him, so she says 'Prussia' to clarify. This is wrong; there was no unified Germany until the late 19th century, but the term 'Germany' was used to refer to the region during the time when Outlander is set, meaning that Jaime would have understood what country Claire was talking about.
Episode: "Eye of the Storm" (season 3, episode 13)
Young Ian has disappeared. Desperately searching for him, Claire and Jamie track him to Jamaica, all while dealing with the machinations of Geillis and others who wish to bring about the fulfillment of a mysterious prophecy.
After all this drama, we come close to the episode's (and the season's) end. Jamie and Claire are on the boat, and Jamie is about to shave. As he does, he talks about his 'beard' being four days of growth. This is odd, as it is only a light stubble. A few hours pass by and Claire and Jamie wash up onto the shores of the New World, and suddenly Jamie's beard has grown much longer. Maybe the sea water did him some good.
Episode: "Providence" (season 4, episode 12)
It's the penultimate episode of the latest season, a tale that focusses again on Brianna, daughter of Jamie and Claire. Still with Lord John under the pretense of a false engagement, Bree learns from him of Stephen Bonnet's arrest and immediately wishes to speak to the man once more - before he is put to his end.
As Lord John's carriage pulls off, Bree is not wearing a cape with her outfit. But then, a little time later, when she and Lord John approach the jailhouse that holds Bonnet prisoner, Bree has a blue and black hooded cape all of a sudden. Since she didn't have it on her going into the carriage, there was no way she brought this along.
Episode: "The Devil's Mark" (season 1, episode 11)
At the end of the last episode, Claire and Geillis found themselves arrested for practicing 'witchcraft'. Now, they're in the thieves' hole, awaiting their trial and almost inevitable execution.
As a reminder, the first season of Outlander is set in the year 1743. That makes this trial very strange, as the last witch executed in Scotland was in 1707 - a whole generation earlier. The last witch trial was also long before 1743. Furthermore, the eagerness for finding witches that was shown earlier was more or less an attitude associated with the Lowland Scots, and was not often seen in the Highlands like it was portrayed here.
Episode: "The Fox's Lair" (season 2, episode 8)
After Jamie finds his name forged on a list of Jacobite fighters, he resolves to bring together his own support for the cause. Of course, Jamie's uncle, Colum, has other plans and looks set to get in their way.
Early into the episode, Claire and Jamie are discussing this and other things when Claire says this: 'They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result'. In reality, she can't have said this, as the phrase would not have been used during her lifetime - not in the 1700s, and certainly not in the 1940s. In fact, the earliest known version of the saying was in the 'Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous', published in 1982, making this a minuscule but interesting goof.
Episode: Sassenach (pilot - season 1, episode 1)
What makes the first episode of the Outlander series so exciting, beyond anything else, is the sudden shift from the 'present day' (1940s) to 1700s Scotland; we experience the fear and confusion and wonder alongside Claire as she finds herself battling to stay alive in this strange new world.
When she first passes through the stones in the modern day, she is wearing a white dress that has a belt on it; the dress hugs her bust and is complemented by a pearl button at the neck. Later, when she is running away from the soldiers and falls down the hill, the dress has changed; the belt is gone, it has a slightly looser fit, and the neckline is different, among other little details.
Episode: "The Bakra" (season 3, episode 12)
Jamie and Claire's ship, Artemis, finally reaches Jamaica, bringing them closer to finding Young Ian. While they are in the country, they hear about Geillis' seer - aka, Margaret - who has prophesied a new king of Scotland.
Specifically, in the seer's prophecy, she says that it will be 1200 moons until the new Scottish king would rise. Geillis then explains that this is 200 years, and afterward says again that they must find a 200-year-old infant. 1200 moons is actually a little more than 92 years, so if this error was acknowledged, the child would never be found, as they'd be looking in the wrong time altogether.
Episode: "America the Beautiful" (season 4, episode 1)
Jamie and Claire come to America, where they first meet the charming but treacherous pirate, Stephen Bonnet. It is their interactions with him here that will carry significant regrets and repercussions for a long while to come.
While they travel through the country, the couple comes across the Cape Fear River, which they take a boat along. As with most rivers, the Cape Fear flows from the centre of the country and out towards the coast. And yet, certain shots of the boat show it floating along with the current, even though they are supposedly moving inland. What we should be seeing is the boat heading against the current, making this little trip impossible.
Episode: "The Garrison Commander" (season 1, episode 6)
Throughout his time on the show, the character of John 'Black Jack' Randall became known for generally being cold and dangerous at best, and a slimy, violent criminal at worst.
In this first appearance in the series, we already get a very clear pictured painted for us of what kind of man he may be. Outlander doesn't want to show all its cards yet, so when Randall enters the room we see him chewing on what looks like gum, right after he removes the dust from the fireplace - gum being universal shorthand for unlikable people in media. The problem is, chewing gum started with Native American tribes, and wasn't picked up by English settlers until 1848, making it highly unlikely to have come across to Scotland in the 1700s.
Episode: "The Reckoning" / "Through a Glass, Darkly" (season 1, episode 9 / season 2, episode 1)
At the beginning of season two, in "Through a Glass, Darkly", Claire has found herself back in her present day, reeling from the experiences she has had in Scotland. After all that she has gone through, she finds it hard to open up. The only person she feels she can speak to is Mrs Graham at the Reverand's house.
Among other things, Claire tells Mrs. Graham that she called Jamie a 'sadist' at one point, but that he didn't understand what it meant. Except, that last season, in the episode "The Reckoning", when he spanks her she calls him a sadist, showing that she had actually thrown that word at him before, and he gave no indication that he didn't understand the term.
Episode: "La Dame Blanche" (season 2, episode 4)
Prince Charles has been rallying supporters for the war effort, flying firmly in the face of Jamie and Claire's convictions. In an effort to defuse and distract potential investors in the prince's campaign, the two of them decide to throw an outrageous dinner party, inviting along friends and strangers alike.
During the party, one such guest, Louise, asks if anyone has attended Lully's opera 'Acis et Galatée'. It's a very odd choice for a conversation starter, as the opera would have been considered incredibly out of date in 1740s Scotland, as it was first performed all the way back in 1686, and Lully himself died in 1687!
Episode: "Sassenach" (pilot - season 1, episode 1)
Captured by Murtagh after her chase in the woods, Claire is taken to the cabin full of Highlanders - including one Jamie Fraser. Although suspicions are immediately cast on her, and it seems she is almost certain to lose her life one way or another, she sees Jamie, who was injured in the forest battle, and steps in to help. After resetting his shoulder, the group sets out to ride, bringing Claire with them. Jamie, who was just wearing a shirt before, puts his plaid back on as they go outside. As he talks to Claire, his plaid is sometimes over his shoulder and sometimes not. It continues to cut back and forth until they all ride off at last.
Episode: "The Wedding" (season 1, episode 7)
Jamie and Claire - it's a whirlwind romance for the centuries. But, at first, it's in all the wrong ways. As we discussed before, Claire has to become the new Mrs. Fraser to save herself from the Red Coats and Black Jack Randall, so she eventually agrees to a hasty Scots wedding. The ceremony is full of traditions which, to Claire, seem foreign and unusual. For example, they need to slice open their wrists so that they bleed. Jamie and Claire are shown very explicitly to have their wrists cut into, but as the episode continues on, there is absolutely no sign of the cuts that we were shown in any scene that is set after this.
Episode: "Sassenach" (pilot - season 1, episode 1)
As we are first introduced to Claire Randall in the very first episode of the series, we get to see her during her time as a nurse in the heat of World War II. We're thrust into the action just a few minutes into the pilot; a young soldier's leg is severely wounded, and Claire leaps in to stop him bleeding out. We are shown all the mess that is made, with blood even hitting Claire in the face and plenty getting over her shoes. However, if you look very carefully, you can see that her apron is relatively spotless.
When she and the other soldiers finally manage to sedate the unfortunate man, allowing her to leave, she walks out of there with her apron absolutely covered, a far cry from the way it looked just before.
Episode: "Rent" (season 1, episode 5)
The entire MacKenzie clan gathers around for a trip to collect the rents from their tenants, bringing along Claire and Jamie. This doesn't seem very out of place at first, but when Dougal is speaking to the villagers in the pub after collecting the rents, he brings Jamie front and centre - and Claire is horrified to see that he is using Jamie's scars to elicit sympathy for the rebellion.
As he rips Jamie's shirt to show his back and scars, Dougal's back is to the camera and audience; we see that he is obviously wearing a white shirt with sleeves and no coat. Then, when he turns to face the camera once again, he is back into his coat; no white shirt sleeves are visible.
Did you catch any of these mistakes? Are there any that we might have missed? Let us know in the comments below.