It’s impossible to count the number of times the characters of Outlander have endured life-or-death situations. More often than not, Jamie (Sam Heughan), Claire (Caitriona Balfe), and the other beloved characters of the hit Starz show barely have a minute to enjoy their lives before something dangerous or lethal happens.
For a series centered around love, there’s sometimes more heartbreak and sadness than romance and joy. Whether the Frasers and their friends say something to get themselves in trouble or trouble finds them, Outlander’s always bound to have heartache. However, how our beloved characters remedy their predicaments is the exciting and inspiring part of the show.
“Man of Worth” – Season 4, Episode 13
You need the tissues for “Man of Worth.” Brianna (Sophie Skelton) is at Jocasta’s (Maria Doyle Kennedy), eagerly awaiting Roger’s (Richard Rankin) return, while Claire, Jamie, and Young Ian (John Bell) try to get the Mohawks to trade for Roger. A sector of the tribe sees Claire’s necklace, Otter Tooth’s (Trevor Carroll) stone, and demands it. They think it’ll show how their people’s story will end.
While breaking Roger out, the gang is ambushed. Jamie offers to trade himself for Roger, and he and Claire have a tearful farewell. However, Ian trades himself instead. It’s an incredibly heartbreaking goodbye. Young Ian is now a man of worth. Claire and Jamie inform Roger of everything that’s happened to Bree but return without him. Bree is heartbroken, but Roger eventually shows.
“The Devil’s Mark” Season 1, Episode 11
“The Devil’s Mark” is one of the most romantic episodes of Outlander, but it’s also heartbreaking. Claire and Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek) endure a soul-crushing witch trial. As Jamie tries to rescue Claire, Geillis sacrifices herself to save her friend. It’s hard to watch them carry her off.
Later, Claire unleashes the truth of where she comes from to Jamie. Instead of taking her home to Castle Leoch, Jamie brings them to Craigh na Dun. Jamie will fight and die for Claire, but his love runs so deep that he’ll give her up if she wants to return home. He selflessly puts her needs before his own. Jamie is heartbroken, but thankfully, Claire decides to stay.
“Through a Glass, Darkly” – Season 2, Episode 1
“Through a Glass, Darkly” is jarring initially. Season 1’s end sees Claire and Jamie set sail for France. At Season 2’s start, Claire seemingly went back through the stones. She reunites with Frank (Tobias Menzies) and tells him everything. It’s a gut-wrenching moment. Claire is grieving losing Jamie.
Despite hearing that his wife has fallen in love with and married another man from the 1700s, Frank openly accepts Claire back into his life and is willing to carry on as if nothing happened. His only condition is that she stops chasing ghosts. Claire must leave Jamie behind. She does, but she never forgets him.
“The Battle Joined” – Season 3, Episode 1
The aftermath of Culloden is dark, dank, and depressing. Jamie lies in a heap of dead men, on the brink of death, and has flashbacks of the horrible events. Meanwhile, Claire starts her life over with Frank before Brianna’s birth.
It’s satisfying seeing Jamie kill Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies). However, after the battle, Jamie is ready to die. By some miracle, a British officer recognizes him as the man who spared his brother and spares him. However, his life is over; he just exists now. Jamie wants to die because he won’t truly be able to live without Claire.
“The Ballad of Roger Mac” – Season 5, Episode 7
In Outlander Season 5, Episode 7, the Frasers are ready to face whatever comes with the Regulators. After celebrating Jamie’s 50th birthday, the war begins. Governor Tryon (Tim Downie), one of Outlander’s real-life figures, is especially unrelenting and unmerciful, but Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) can hardly tell his men to put aside their beliefs.
The battle commences, playing out almost in slow motion. In the heat of the fight, Murtagh saves his godson one last time before he’s shot. Jamie heartbreakingly goes into shock and cries for help. He assures Murtagh’s lifeless body that everything is fine and begs Claire to save him. It’s hard not to cry when Jamie desperately tells Murtagh he can’t leave him.
“Faith” – Season 2, Episode 7
Mother Hildegarde (Frances de la Tour) tends to Claire when she has a miscarriage brought on by the stress of witnessing Jamie and Randall duel. When Claire wakes, the nun informs her that her daughter died, that she illegally baptized the baby, and named her Faith, so she could be buried in hallowed ground.
Claire is a wreck with her grief and almost dies of infection. Those are the least of Claire’s worries, though. She has to kill a man and bed King Louis XV (Lionel Lingelser) to release Jamie from Bastille. Later, she learns of the unfortunate reason why Jamie dueled Randall. Claire admits she hated Jamie for breaking his promise of not dueling with Randall, but she realizes it wasn’t Jamie’s fault. They share their grief at Faith’s grave.
“Ransom a Man’s Soul” – Season 1, Episode 16
Season 1’s penultimate and final episodes are traumatic and too beastly to comprehend. Thankfully, the plan to get the herd of cattle past the gates at Fort William works, and Jamie’s friends rescue him.
However, Jamie doesn’t want to live after what Randall did to him, which he says is “too much and not enough.” His mangled hand isn’t the only thing damaged. Randall hurt his soul. Jamie almost completely retreats into himself. Even Claire can’t reach him. “You cannot save a man that doesn’t want saving,” Jamie says. Yet Claire finds a way to save her husband. She enters the dark with him and pulls him back to the light.
“Wilmington” – Season 4, Episode 8
“Wilmington” begins with Bree and Roger’s happy reunion, but things quickly sour. After a horrible fight with Roger, Bree bumps into Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speleers), who bets her mother’s wedding ring at the tavern. Bree asks how much money he wants for the ring, but he doesn’t want money.
Bonnet wants Bree to “earn” it and attacks her. No one in the tavern hears her screams of protest. Bree is left battered and bleeding as Bonnet says he’s a man of his word and gives her Claire’s ring. It’s one of the most brutal scenes to watch in Outlander.
“Never My Love” – Season 5, Episode 12
“Never My Love” is monstrous. As Jamie did in Season 1’s finale, Claire retreats into herself during her abduction by Lionel Brown (Ned Dennehy) and his men. She’s stuck in a fantasy. Her loved ones are with her in the 1960s.
In reality, she lies gagged, beaten, bloody, and tied to a tree. Lionel Brown puts Stephen Bonnet and Black Jack Randall to shame. When her captors attack her again, her fantasy reflects reality and turns dark too. Thankfully and unsurprisingly, Jamie eventually saves the practically catatonic Claire. After everything she’s been through, Claire vows that this won’t shatter her. It’s heartbreaking but brave.
“Dragonfly in Amber” – Season 2, Episode 13
Before Culloden, Jamie makes Claire return to her time. He’ll likely die in battle and needs to know she and their baby will be okay. He instructs her to rekindle things with Frank. It’s agonizing watching Jamie push Claire’s hand toward the stones as they say goodbye.
The show’s beloved characters have endured so much—the death of loved ones and even their way of life. Most have been viciously attacked and survived famous battles. Yet, nothing is worse than Jamie and Claire’s separation. They are separated for 20 years and struggle to find meaning in their lives for much of that time. Without love, everything is pointless.