It’s easy to fall in love with the fantasy of Outlander. With many profound characters, scenes, and personal journeys, it’s become a standout show with a deserved loyal following. Still, with such a complex historical timeline and series of magical elements, there are bound to be some glaring flaws. As we follow Claire and Jamie on an epic journey through time and many varied settings, questions start to bubble up. It’s bizarre how Claire gets away with certain things, and how some storylines never reach a full resolution, but not all characters act according to logic, either. Most of all, the element of time travel has heads spinning, and how it works exactly remains partly unanswered.
None of these problems take away from Jamie and Claire’s love story, or the richness of the characters themselves, though. Nothing can stop invested fans from appreciating this exciting show as it dares to step outside the set and venture into real-world landscapes and voyages. But, we still have to look at it with a keen eye, and there are definitely enough inaccuracies and unusual choices to pinpoint. Hopefully, all will be revealed in the end. The show hasn’t caught up with the books, and the series of novels itself is not yet finished. Even so, it seems nothing can erase or rectify a few of the following mistakes, but maybe, you can make sense of some of these, so if you have any likely answers, be sure to let us know! Here are 20 Things That Make No Sense About Outlander:
20 Jamie and Claire cherrypick their changes to history
It remains unclear whether or not Jamie and Claire have the power to transform history. It could be that they can only alter small events, but not big ones like the tragic defeat of the Scots at the battle of Culloden. However, we still don’t know for sure about the series’ rules regarding the alteration of past events, yet, this doesn’t stop the protagonists from trying to yield certain results.
For one thing, Claire is adamant that Mary Hawkins must marry Black Jack Randall, since she knows Frank will never be born if this doesn’t happen. But, after seeing what Randall did to Jamie, and even herself, it’s surprising that Claire would let innocent Mary near him (let alone try to make them get married). We have to wonder where the logic is in some of these more selfish decisions.
19 There’s no butterfly effect
The focus of Outlander is obviously on the story and not necessarily the effects of time travel, but if we’re getting picky, there’s a lot missing in that area. The butterfly effect is the idea that an extremely small change can cause huge consequences down the line. But, when Claire returns to the present, there’s aren't any changes to the world or the way she lives her life. It’s understandable that Claire didn't succeed at making drastic changes to history, like the outcome of Culloden, but when you tamper with the past, there’s bound to be some consequences.
Besides, with all the time travelers that aren’t even shown, there has to be a lot of chaos being created. Since the show isn’t actually sci-fi, it’s forgivable that this isn’t a part of the plot, but it still doesn’t make sense.
18 Claire never makes sure Jamie is really gone
Was anyone else frustrated when Claire resigns herself to permanently staying in her own time after she returns? She believes Jamie had met his demise at Culloden, but never goes back through the stones to be sure. It made sense to wait until Brianna was born, but it’s strange that over the course of two decades, Claire never thought to return. She could have easily gone back to Craigh na Dun, even just to see Jamie’s family and get some closure.
It takes historical confirmation of Jamie’s existence for Claire to take the leap back in time. She was playing it safe, but as Jamie’s once-in-a-lifetime love, it doesn’t make sense for her to give up so easily.
17 Claire meets Geillis multiple times, but hardly any other time travelers
Geillis’ story seemed to be intertwined with Claire’s over the course of three seasons. Even though Geillis turned out to be pretty wicked, it was super interesting to discover the journey of another time traveler. At the same time, it makes us wonder why we don’t see more along the way. The stones are definitely not Claire’s secret, and there seems to be many points of entry into the past. You would think these wanderers would be all over the place.
Claire has noticed the occasional vaccine scar in others, or the tooth fillings in a skull in Fraser’s Ridge. Yet, she doesn’t find anyone to share her own journey with other than Geillis. It’s also fishy that no time travelers notice Claire is from the future either, since she doesn’t hide her intelligence about certain subjects.
16 Jamie married Laoghaire, but she threatened Claire’s life
This one can barely be justified if we’re to believe Jamie still carried a torch for Claire all these years. When we first meet Laoghaire, she is mad with jealousy and tries to end Claire. She was never a likable character, and Jamie never had a real attraction to her. It seemed like he wouldn’t be able to move on from Claire at all, and wouldn’t even think to marry again.
Laoghaire has to be the oddest choice he could have picked. Even though part of the decision had to do with her daughters, he soon leaves them anyway. This plot decision probably sought to fuel the drama of Claire’s return more than anything.
15 Claire is prepared to leave her daughter for good
After everything Claire did to protect Brianna, it just doesn’t add up that she would be prepared to never see her again, and it doesn’t take too much convincing for Claire to venture back into the past to find Jamie after she discovers he's alive. Of course Brianna is a young adult at this point who can take care of herself, but that doesn’t discount her and Claire’s tight relationship.
It would make more sense for Claire to leave if she planned to return at some point, even briefly. However, the show makes it seem like it’s all or nothing this time, at least in Claire’s eyes. She goes through the stones fully believing she’s leaving her daughter behind, which we'd never expect from such a motherly figure.
14 Murtagh accepts the explanation about Claire's time travel
Jamie and Claire obviously felt it necessary to tell Murtagh about Claire’s journey through time, but while it was crucial for Jamie to know, it might have been less so in Murtagh’s case. Also, it makes even less sense that he took it so well, quickly accepting the fact that Claire lived through much of the 20th century. The only questions he asks are about the outcome of the Jacobite rising and his own fate.
It would make sense if Murtagh had a background in Druidry or some other Celtic mysticism like other characters, but he doesn’t seem like the type to believe in magic. Seeing as Jamie’s own family still doesn’t know, telling Murtagh didn’t seem totally necessary to begin with.
13 We never see most of the original cast after Culloden
Most of what made Outlander such a mesmerizing show was the Scottish world Claire falls into, and of course, the people she meets along the way. Yet, this is mostly dissolved after the loss at Culloden as many of our favorite characters meet their ends there. It may have been this way in the books, but it just doesn’t make sense from a writing standpoint to drop so many characters at once. There had to be some among Jamie’s clan who survived the battle, right?
It’s true that many fans miss not only the beautiful Highlands, but also the charisma and familiarity of the original cast. Thankfully, we meet Murtagh again in North Carolina, but it makes us wonder if others survived and just weren't mentioned again.
12 Claire and Jamie find themselves in riches during their travels
We all know Jamie had some status in Scotland, but it’s a little questionable that he always has friends in high places no matter where he goes. For example, they don’t just go to France, they end up at the lavish court of Versailles; in America, Jamie’s aunt owns a massive estate on a plantation called River Run, and in Jamaica, they end up at the governor’s extravagant party.
For most of the series so far, money seems to be no object in their travels. That is, until they decide to create their own settlement in America at Fraser’s Ridge. It makes for some beautiful sets, but these extraordinary opportunities wouldn’t happen for any Scotsman!
11 No one questions Claire’s modern surgical skills
Claire’s character wouldn’t be the same without her awesome ability perform countless types of surgery. As a surgeon from the 1960s, she’s a totally unique type of heroine who consistently saves the day. It’s just weird that she openly does these very involved operations in the middle of the 18th century.
Of course, she sometimes faces resistance when trying to heal people due to her gender, but no one questions where she learned these techniques, some of which surely haven’t been invented yet. Especially since she refers to herself only as a healer, we’d expect more characters to be surprised when she whips out a knife and starts the surgery. As grateful as her patients may be, these scenarios should likely raise a few more eyebrows.
10 Roger leaves Brianna alone in a different century
The consequences are dire when Roger abandons Brianna in the 18th century, which is still unfamiliar to her. They get in one fight and she asks him to leave, but that doesn’t mean he actually should! After all, he had just found her and they had been married that same day. The whole thing sets up the harrowing fate that awaits Brianna, but it’s way out of character for Roger to do this.
Even Brianna wanting him to leave was pretty foolish. She still hadn’t found her parents, and Roger was the only other person she could trust since the two shared the same secret. No matter the disagreements, this couple should have been clinging to each other in such a risky setting.
9 Claire saves many lives, but it doesn’t alter the future
Forget the butterfly effect; transforming the entire course of people's lives has to change the future! Claire often saves people who otherwise would have passed on a certain day. It’s usually the case that there’s no way they could have survived without her surgical skills, and she’s usually in the right place at the right time. She never gives up the opportunity to save a life, even when her patient is someone who’s done her harm.
Maybe, this time travel mystery has something to do with the fact that things were always meant to happen that way. She could have been destined to help them all along, but either way, it makes your brain hurt!
8 Frank and Claire’s relationship
It’s not unheard of for couples to stay together after the love is gone, but Frank and Claire have had a much rockier road than that. Claire literally disappeared, fell in love with another man in a different time period, and returned carrying his child. Frank and Claire somehow put this aside and made the decision to raise Brianna, which is all well and good, but the fact that this arrangement lasts 20 years is questionable.
They did plan to divorce, but only after Frank discovers that Claire will return to the past for Jamie. Didn’t he already know she was still in love with him, and always would be? It seemed like this was a condition of the relationship that they both had to make peace with for Brianna’s sake. So, why is it surprising decades later?
7 The unclear rules of time travel
Outlander has a completely unique version of time travel, but its rules aren’t exactly clearly laid out. When 20 years pass in Claire’s time, we’re apparently supposed to know that this also means 20 years have passed in the time she left. This is why she’s distraught when she returns from Culloden and realizes Jamie is gone forever, but it’s never revealed why she can’t go back further. The time periods seem to run parallel to each other, but why from this one point? And since there are other time travelers, would they have different past time periods corresponding to theirs?
None of the characters are phased by this either, or attempt to figure out exactly what the deal is. How did Claire even know for sure that, if she were to return through the stones, it wouldn’t be to the exact point that she left off?
6 Jamie and Claire didn’t use Claire’s knowledge to avoid Culloden
Jamie and Claire made a valiant effort to stop the battle of Culloden from happening, but when they fall short, they still act like there’s no escape. Though it’s admirable of Jamie to want to fight a battle that’s a certain loss, it tears apart his relationship with Claire. They knew the exact date of the battle, yet, didn’t have a plan to save themselves and their unborn daughter.
When it was becoming clear that nothing they did could change the course of history, it would have been wise to use their resources to live a full, happy life elsewhere. Instead, Jamie stuck with his countrymen, but also made sure his daughter wouldn’t have the chance to grow up with her true father.
5 Jamie doesn’t defeat Jack Randall at the earliest opportunity
Jamie could have done more than just rescue Claire at Fort William. Apart from personally seeing Randall threaten his wife, Jamie should have felt justified to eliminate him for other reasons. Knowing what Randall had done to Jamie previously had to be more than enough motivation to end him right then and there, and he certainly had the opportunity.
Instead, Randall seemed to have nine lives as he came back time and time again to wreak more havoc in Jamie’s story. Of course, this gave us more action scenes and kept the main antagonist in the plot for another season, but still, this scene will have you shouting at the TV asking Jamie to just pull the trigger.
4 Claire’s short temper doesn’t typically get her in trouble
Claire is a blunt and opinionated person, but she also goes as far as to explode in bouts of anger. She has no problem swearing at officials and high-ranking individuals in all sorts of situations. Though we love this about Claire and appreciate her speaking up for what’s right, it just doesn’t make sense that she doesn’t face more consequences.
After all, this is the 18th century, and people would not be used to common codes of conduct being ignored, especially by a woman. Unfortunately, the qualities that make Claire such a great heroine are also problematic when it comes to believability. A lot of the time, characters are merely amused by her outbursts.
3 Jamie doesn’t ask about what the future is like
Given the chance, wouldn’t anyone want to know what’s going on two-hundred years in the future? Jamie has a vague idea of Claire’s time period, but in reality, a person in this situation would be craving all sorts of details. Even when Claire brings things up, like saying she’s been vaccinated so she can’t get certain diseases, Jamie doesn’t question her further.
It’s not crucial to Jamie and Claire’s personal story, but it’s hard to believe he wouldn’t want to know all the transformations and advances Claire has witnessed. Come on, Jamie, she’s lived through a world war! She has a wealth of knowledge no one has been tapping into, other than to resolve immediate concerns.
2 The Druids weren’t a key part of the story after all
The dance of the Druids enticed us into the magic of the Outlander series. When Claire steps through the stones for the first time, they’re performing their ritual that supposedly created the conditions for time travel. It seemed for a long time that characters would need some sort of supernatural ritual to pass through the stones, and Geillis even thought she needed a sacrifice.
As we see more characters go back in time, it becomes clear that nothing on such a huge scale is required. Roger and Brianna do just fine getting through carrying gemstones, and supposedly could have inherited the ability. It’s unfortunate that we lost some of the Celtic magic that added a special element to the story, and for no apparent reason.
1 Jamie’s survival rate
Jamie’s strength of character is one reason why we admire him so much, but realistically, the number of times he’s escaped dangerous situations is unreal! To name a few, he’s survived two days of whipping, the enduring battle of Culloden, running from the British soldiers, disease outbreaks, and numerous close calls in both Jamaica and America. His ability to get himself out of danger rivals any superhero.
Jamie is clever and skilled, but we have to remember he’s still just a man. The series definitely couldn’t live without one of its main protagonists, but this kind of resiliency isn’t all that plausible.
What aspects of Outlander don't add up for you? Let us know in the comments!