Outlander is based on Diana Gabaldon’s book series and premiered in 2014. The show follows Claire (Caitriona Balfe), a nurse in 1945 who visits Scotland with her husband. While walking near the hills of Craigh na Dun, she is thrown back into 1743. She quickly meets danger and is swept into the life of Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), a Scottish warrior who supports the Jacobite rising. The two fall in love with a deep romance that spans centuries and repeat time-travel journeys, with the most recent season seeing them in North Carolina. This sweeping historical romance features a large number of characters across different countries and time periods. Here are the best characters in the show, ranked.
Joe Abernathy (Wil Johnson) is Claire’s friend and fellow doctor when she returns to her original time in Boston. As two med students who stand out – Joe for being Black and Claire for being a woman – the two form a close bond. He is a true friend to Claire, and is there for her whenever she is struggling in her professional life or personal life after the stress of returning home after her first time-traveling experience. Though a small role, he makes his mark on the show.
Claire and Jamie’s engineer daughter, Bree (Sophie Skelton) lives in two worlds, like her mother. Growing up in the 1950s and ’60s after Claire’s return home, she later joins Claire and Jamie in the past to prevent their deaths. She stays there, along with her husband, Roger (Richard Rankin), and starts her own family, though she remains a traveler between past and future. She may not always be the most interesting character, but she is smart, resourceful, and brave, even after all she’s been through, like her heartbreaking assault.
Marsali (Lauren Lyle) is Jamie’s stepdaughter from the time he was lonely without Claire. From this beginning, she comes to join the Frasers in their journey to America, and also begins a relationship with Fergus that ScreenRant considers one of the show’s best romances. While in North Carolina, they grow their family, and she becomes Claire’s medical apprentice. She’s one of the show’s funniest characters, but also one of its fiercest, and will do anything to keep her family safe.
Jamie first meets Fraser as a boy (Romann Berrux) in France. He becomes close with Jamie and Claire, who promise to protect him. His hand is later cut off by a soldier, and Jamie keeps his promise by supporting Fergus. As an adult (César Domboy), Fergus remains by Jamie’s side and marries Marsali. Their romance’s warmer moments contrast with the recent season’s focus on Fergus’s depression and alcoholism when he was unable to protect Marsali. He has to work through his demons for his family, in an arc that gives the character depth and shows his journey.
Black Jack Randall
He might be one of the most evil characters on TV, per The Atlantic, but British soldier Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) is a genuinely scary villain that drives much of the story. He becomes an enemy of Jamie when he comes to Jamie’s family estate for supplies, and is met with resistance. What makes him especially great is his depth; seeing his love for his brother, for example, makes his evil side even more horrible to watch. His sexual assault and torture of Jamie makes for one of the most intense moments on the show, and shows why Black Jack is such a dynamic villain.
Lord John Grey
John Grey (David Berry) has become a beloved character through his run on the show. He first meets Jamie when he is a kid, and Jamie spares his life. In gratitude, John remains fiercely loyal to Jamie and always helps him when he needs it, including adopting Jamie’s illegitimate son. He has feelings for Jamie, but knows his love will never be reciprocated, and bears it quietly, without ever hating Jamie or Claire because of it. He’s a faithful and kind man who remains good no matter what.
Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser
Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) is Jamie’s godfather, and a fighter who is always ready to fight for what’s right. He may seem tough on first meeting, but he truly cares about those he loves and shows his softer, protective side to them. This loving side paired perfectly with his dark humor and toughness. He was always there for Jamie, and loved him like a son. In a departure from the books, his death on the show occurs later than it was supposed to, which gives us longer with such a beloved character, and makes his death in Jamie’s arms even sadder.
As the show’s central character, Claire is complex and fully developed, no matter what time she’s in. From the start of her shocking journey into the past, she is resourceful and capable of doing whatever she needs to survive. She faces constant danger, from being accused of witchcraft due to her intelligence, to often being attacked, but continues to fight through it. She also shows the intensity and complexity of her two lives, and two loves, sharing her good moments with Frank and Brianne, while still longing for Jamie. All of her kindness, stubbornness, and intelligence make for a truly great character.
Jamie has an enormous transformation throughout the series. He goes from young warrior to fugitive to soldier to family man, working through the complexities of each one. He faces many ups and downs in his life, from his torture to seemingly losing Claire, to being reunited with her. Through it all, he has maintained his humor, his strength, and his honor, and has been able to change some of his behavior due to his relationship with Claire, which forms the heart of the show. His bravery and strength contrast perfectly with his softer sides in his flaws and endless support of Claire. All of these things make him a fascinating and well-rounded character.