How The Cast Of Outlander Should Really Look

Outlander author Diana Gabaldon has been highly involved with the Starz adaptation of her time-traveling series of novels, working as a consultant for the show and even writing an episode in the second season. The author, who is also an avid user of social media, has come out on multiple occasions to talk to fans about issues they have with the show. She's defended decisions made on-screen and let fans know that those changes are acceptable to her canon.

Gabaldon was also very vocal about the casting of the show, which drew some ire from the books' hardcore fans, particularly those who'd grown attached to the illustrations in The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel. While much of the criticism has been quashed since the well-received show began airing, the author did write quite a bit in response to fans who were upset about actors not matching the characters she described in the books. "Physical appearance is _very_ mutable," she said on her Facebook page in 2013 in response to the backlash over the casting of the series' leads. "Hair and eye color are so simple to change...Much more importantly—beyond very basic things like height and general build, physical aspects are just not that important, provided that an actor can _act_."

Gabaldon noted that it was much more important to find actors who could embody the characters as opposed to actors who looked exactly like her characters on the page. While the show has been a success, garnering critical acclaim for its leads, it's still fun to examine what the characters of Outlander should have looked like if they were brought directly from the page to the screen.

Claire Randall

Claire is introduced in the first novel as the narrator and protagonist of the story, a 27-year-old nurse thrown into the Scottish highlands just before the Jacobite revolution. In the book, she's described as 5 feet 6 inches tall, with big, wayward, light brown curls that "snap with static and spring into knots and furious tangles." At various points throughout the book, her eyes are described as golden, like that of a leopard.

On the show, Claire is played by Caitriona Balfe, who was 34-years-old when the show premiered. Aging up the actress playing Claire makes sense for the series. Balfe's appearance passes for a younger woman in the first season, yet her perceived age remains easier to adjust as time passes and her character's age increases in later seasons. Balfe has dark brown hair, and her curls are not nearly as wild as Claire's literary locks. The actress also has blue eyes; not golden brown, and at 5 feet 10 inches, she's much taller than the novel's leading lady.

Show accuracy: 5/10 — Balfe's hair needs to be lighter and messier, and her eyes should appear to be a golden, cat-like color in order for her to accurately represent the novel's protagonist.

Jamie Fraser

Jamie, the 23-year-old Highlander who Claire falls in love with during her time in Scotland, is her emotional rock throughout the novel, yet he also contends with his own problems through his tough political situation and the constant fighting between the Scots and the English. In the book, Jamie is described as a large, hulking fighter with fair skin, "dark blue eyes," and "thick, red-gold hair." Claire refers to his tresses as "cinnamon-colored." She also says he has "a strong, good-humored face," with broad cheekbones and a "long, straight, knife-edged nose." (And, for very intense readers, she does, at a point, discuss at length how he has "incongruously small" ears.) Claire repeatedly refers to Jamie's extreme height and size, saying, "Face-to-face with Jamie my nose fitted comfortably into the small hollow in the center of his chest, and his chin could rest on top of my head." Based on Claire's height in the novels, this would put Jamie at least an inch or two over 6 feet.

Actor Sam Heughan is 6 feet 3 inches, a good match for the character in the book, although because Balfe is much taller than her literary character, Heughan doesn't tower over Claire as much as Jamie does in the story. Like Balfe, Heughan was older than his character when the show started, but again, this gives the series flexibility to adjust for time jumps in future seasons. Many viewers have complained that Heughan's hair isn't red enough to mimic the man in the novels. His eyes are more blue-green than deep blue, but his gaze does portray the story's signature mix of kindness and intensity. And, clearly the most important change: Heughan's ears are nothing to write home about. Unlike Jamie's literary lobes, they are an average size.

Show accuracy: 5/10 — The show loses a few accuracy points here for hair color (not red enough) and eye color (not blue enough).

Frank Randall/Jack Randall

Frank Randall is Claire's husband in the 1940s era, and when the heroine goes back in time, she is shocked to meet his brutal, look-alike ancestor in Scotland. In the novels, the two are described as being similar, but not identical, with Claire noting that Jack "might have been Frank's brother." She thinks, "There was the same lithe, spare build and fine-drawn bones; the same chiseled lines of the face; the level brows and wide hazel eyes; and the same dark hair, curved smooth across the brow." However, she notes that Jack has longer hair, which he keeps tied back in a ponytail and is tanner than Frank's "light golden" coloring.

Both Frank and Jack are played on the show by Tobias Menzies, making the two probably much closer to identical than they were meant to be in the novels. The series does reflect the differences in their hairstyles but does not account for their variances in skin tone. On the page, Claire notes that Frank is about four inches taller than her, which would make him 5 feet 10 inches. Taking into account actress Balfe's height, Menzies should be 6 feet two inches tall to accurately represent the height difference. Menzies is 6 feet 1 inch, which is close. However, it does mean that he and Heughan are much more similar in height than their respective characters in the books. Menzies' eyes are brown rather than hazel, but otherwise, the actor is a dead ringer for the literary character. He has the same wiry build and a handsome but sculpted face that allows him to play both sweet and sinister.

Show accuracy: 8/10 — Frank and Jack are supposed to be slightly less identical, and both should have hazel eyes, but with Menzies' brilliant acting, we don't mind him assuming both of these important roles.

Dougal MacKenzie

Dougal is the war leader of the clan MacKenzie, and he ends up taking on the role of revolutionary leader (and creepy come-on artist toward Claire). In the book, the character is described as large and barrel-chested, with russet hair, a russet beard, and hazel eyes. "He was good-looking, I thought, and not unfriendly," Claire notes. "There were lines of strain between his brows, though, and it wasn't a face one would willingly cross."

Graham McTavish plays the character on the show, and at 6 feet 2 inches, he definitely fits the character's large stature. However, as opposed to having a full head of red-brown hair, McTavish is bald, with a sandy gray beard. Also, the actor's eyes appear blue-green, not hazel.

Show accuracy: 3/10 — McTavish has Dougal's commanding presence, but he doesn't have the character's red hair, red beard, or hazel eyes.

Murtagh Fraser

Dougal's right-hand man, Murtagh, does not get the most flattering descriptions in the novel. He's called "weasel-faced," "swarthy," "stringy," and "rat-faced." He's scruffy with "sharp black eyes." At one point, Claire notes that he is, "Short, slightly built but sinewy as a gibbon, with long arms that reinforced the simian resemblance, he had a low brow and narrow jaw that for some reason made me think of cave dwellers and pictures of Early Man shown in some of Frank's texts."

At 6 feet 2 inches, actor Duncan Lacroix is not the short man described in the novels. The actor also doesn't fit with the text's skinny and knobbly description, and he doesn't have the narrow jaw or sharp eyes. Lacroix is a bigger man, with a full head of hair and a lot of facial hair. Also, his countenance on the show typically appears much more friendly than sharp, though we did find a mean mug (above) to compare the two.

Show accuracy: 2/10 — Aside from the dark eyes, there is not much similarity between the show's version of Murtagh and the book's character. Lacroix appears much bigger and friendlier than the squat, rat-faced man described in the novel.

Angus Mhor

Though there are no illustrations of Angus available in the graphic novel, his character in the TV series is drastically different than the one described in the text, both in appearance and in his role within the plot. On the page, Angus is depicted as the incredibly large, hulking bodyguard, responsible for the brutal punishments carried out in the Great Hall. In the show, he is just one of Dougal's men who likes to crack jokes and drink (heavily). In the text, Claire notes that Angus is "one of the largest men I have ever seen," noting that he has "coarse black hair" that grows over just about his entire body, including his forehead, his forearms, and his legs. She notes that despite his size, he has "an amiable expression."

Played by actor Stephen Walters, the televised Angus is a short man who, while he does have a full head of hair and a large beard, is not covered entirely in hair from head to toe. That said, Angus' altered appearance on-screen makes sense when you consider his expanded role on the show.

Show accuracy: 0/10 — If you base this rating on the books, Angus should be significantly larger than Jamie and covered in hair from head to toe.

Rupert MacKenzie

Of all of the book's main characters, Rupert receives the least amount of description, and he isn't illustrated in the graphic novel. In the literature, Claire repeatedly describes him using different words for fat, while also noting that he has a black beard and is a "greasy-looking sort."

Grant O'Rourke plays Rupert on the show, and, while he is a portly man, his beard is medium brown in color, rather than black. His perceived level of greasiness is up to personal opinion.

Show accuracy: 7/10 — If O'Rourke had darker hair, he would perfectly fit into the minimal descriptions of Rupert provided on the page.

Brianna Randall Fraser

According to the printed word, Claire and Jamie's daughter, Brianna, closely resembles both of her parents, although she borrows her coloring from her father, with "thick red hair" that falls down past her shoulders and "deep blue eyes, slanted as a cat's." She also has her father's height. Her future husband, Roger, notes when he first sees her that she "was one of the tallest girls he'd ever seen close-to," estimating that she is around 6-feet-tall. Brianna is also described as having "strong, sharp-angled bones in her face, with the nose long and straight—maybe a touch too long."

Though Brianna isn't illustrated in the graphic novel, actress Sophie Skelton, who begins playing this character in Outlander's second season, clearly deviates from the text. She is only 5 feet 8 inches, so the actress is not quite as towering as the woman described in the novels. Skelton has the red hair and the strong-boned face described in the books, but she does not have the character's deep blue eyes (Skelton's eyes are brown).

Show accuracy: 7/10 — Skelton should be a little bit taller and should have blue eyes to match the character from the book.


Fergus, the pickpocket Jamie and Claire take in while living in Paris, will be played by a different actor in Season 3 than Season 2 because the young boy will have aged considerably due to the show's time lapse. In Dragonfly in Amber, the book that Season 2 was based on, Fergus does not appear as an illustration, but he is described in print as being 9 or 10 years old but "small for his age, and fine-boned as a ferret." Claire also notes that he is "as French as they come, with the pale, sallow skin and big, dark eyes of a Parisian street child."

Actor Romann Berrux was about 13-years-old when Outlander's second season was being filmed, although he could easily pass for younger. He was portrayed as having light brown, curly hair, and fittingly French features, although Berrux does have light-colored eyes rather than dark.

The adult Fergus will be played by César Domboy. Like Berrux, he has literary character's dark, curly hair but lighter-colored eyes. It remains to be seen how Domboy will look in full dress and makeup for the role, but we should get a glimpse when Season 3 premieres in September 2017.

Show accuracy: 9/10 — Aside from the variation in eye color, Fergus looks nearly identical to his description in the novels.