14 Major Ways ‘Outlander’ Season 3 Differed from the Book

Posted on December 11, 2017 by

Deeply devoted to both the books and the TV adaptation, fans of Diana Gabaldon‘s Outlander series are known to be a discerning bunch. As another season comes to a close, we’ve rounded up the major Outlander season 3 differences between the book and the screen. From Frank’s mistress to Geillis’s appearance to the Fraser prophecy, here are some of the biggest ways Outlander season 3 was changed from the book.

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1. Claire is confronted by Frank’s mistress.

When Claire attends a memorial held by Harvard in Frank’s honor, his former mistress calls her out for never letting him leave their marriage. In the book, though, it was much less explicit. Gabaldon hinted at Frank’s affairs, but there was never any evidence.


2. Jamie and Geneva’s encounter.

One of the most interesting moments of Voyager was when Geneva Dunsany blackmailed Jamie into taking her “maidenhead.” However, these scenes were adapted differently for the small screen. In the novel, Geneva changes her mind and begs Jamie to stop (he doesn’t). However, the showrunners left out this moment from season 3. Actress Hannah James told Entertainment Weekly:

“[That moment] was never in the script. And I was so thrilled when I came across that.”


3. Jamie’s reaction to seeing the photographs of Brianna.

For many fans, one of the best moments of the Frasers’ reunion was when Jamie sees photos of their daughter, Brianna, for the first time. “He buried his face in my shoulder and went quietly and thoroughly to pieces,” Gabaldon writes in Voyager.

Actor Sam Heughan gave Jamie a much subtler reaction in this on-screen moment. Fans were vocal about their disappointment, causing Heughan to tweet about his decision:

“I use action lines as guide only. ‘Falling apart’ doesn’t have to mean tears, can be internal. Was my creative choice. Plus felt melodramatic.”


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 4. Claire discovers Jamie has a son with another woman.

In the TV show, soon after he’s reunited with Claire, Jamie tells her that he has fathered a son by another woman during their separation. In Voyager, though, Claire finds out about William via Lord John Grey much later in the plot.


5. The death of the intruder.

In the novel, a mysterious intruder is shot by Jamie’s Chinese acquaintance, Mr. Willoughby, and dies soon after. However, in Outlander season 3, the showrunners highlight Claire’s devotion to medicine by having her operate on the intruder. He dies due to surgical complications.


6. The character of Archie Campbell.

Claire meets a man named Archie Campbell at an Edinburgh apothecary shop. In the novel, Campbell is an upstanding Free Church minister. On-screen, though, Campbell exploits his sister’s mental illness to earn money by peddling her as a fortune teller.


7. Claire’s reaction to discovering Jamie’s other wife.

Outlander fans were shocked when they first discovered that Jamie had married during his 20 years apart from Claire — and that he had married no other than Laoghaire, one of Claire’s nemeses. In the TV show, Claire packed her bags after this discovery, intending to leave Jamie at Lallybroch after he was shot by Laoghaire. The book’s version of events is much more dramatic: Claire actually left Lallybroch and had to be tracked down by Young Ian to help save Jamie from the wound.


8. How Jamie becomes captain of the Artemis.

In the book, Jamie becomes captain of the Artemis after convincing French sailors to help him take control of the ship; then he neatly pulled a switch and threw them all in the hold with the help of the actual Artemis crew. However, the television show gives us a different plot twist: After a storm claims the life of Captain Raines, Jamie helms the ship.


9. Lawrence Stern is notably absent.

Although viewers were thoroughly entertained by the antics of Father Fogden, we missed seeing his acquaintance from the book, Jewish naturalist Lawrence Stern.


10. Claire and Lord John Grey meet again.

Fans will recall that Claire and Lord John Grey first met in the forest near Carryarrick before the Battle of Prestonpans. The novel has Claire crossing paths with Lord John Grey again while aboard the Porpoise, unaware of their former connection. This did not happen in the TV show; instead the two meet again in Jamaica, where Grey is hosting a grand soiree as the island’s new governor.


11. The physical appearance of Geillis Duncan.

Despite being grossed out by her methods (goat’s blood, anyone?), we were impressed with how well TV Geillis aged over the last two decades. However, in Voyager, Gabaldon describes Geillis as gaining a significant amount of weight in 20 years since she last saw Claire. Lotte Verbeek, who plays Geillis in the show, told Elle, “I generously offered to do that, but they declined.”


12. The arc of Mr. Willoughby has changed.

Instead of murdering the Merry Widow of Kingston, in the TV show, Mr. Willoughby falls in love with Margaret Campbell. Then, he murders Margaret’s brother, Archie Campbell, to defend her from her brother. Finally, on the small screen, he doesn’t betray Jamie, but enjoys a romantic ending with Margaret as they head off towards Martinique.


13. The Fraser prophecy.

In the book, the prophecy states that the new king of Scotland would come from Lovat’s line. However, that lineage died out in the intervening centuries. After gleaning information from Claire about her daughter, Geillis comes to the conclusion that Brianna is the last surviving member of the line. In the show, the prophecy is much more sinister: “The new king of Scotland will arise upon the death of a child that is 200 years old on the day it’s born.” Geillis interprets this as meaning she needs to kill Brianna, the prophesied child. Yikes!


14. The location of the cave called Abandawe and Geillis’s death.

In the show, Jamie and Claire rush to a Jamaican cave to thwart Geillis’s schemes. However, in the novel, the Frasers must travel to the island of Hispaniola to save Young Ian and Brianna in the future. Additionally, on-screen Claire severs Geillis’s head with a machete, but book Claire bashes Geillis’s skull — dead is dead, though, right?



What did you think of the changes to Outlander season 3? Let us know in the comments!


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