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5 of the best and 5 of the worst changes from the 'Outlander' books to the television series

Sam Heughan and Caitríona Balfe in "Outlander" season one.
Sam Heughan and Caitríona Balfe in "Outlander" season one.Starz
  • Whenever books are adapted into movies or TV shows, things change, and "Outlander" is no different.

  • Jamie's godfather Murtagh surviving for longer in the show gave him a much better character arc.

  • But Claire's intricate and inscribed wedding ring shouldn't have been changed to a melted-down key.

The Starz adaptation of "Outlander" has been mostly loyal to the source material, lifting lines of dialogue and entire scenes straight from the bestselling books by author Diana Gabaldon.

However, over its seven seasons, there have been quite a few times when producers have decided to deviate from the book's storylines. Sometimes this has been because it makes for better storytelling, while others are simply a result of time constraints. They are, after all, adapting books that sometimes span over 1,000 pages into relatively short seasons.

While some of these tweaks from the "Outlander" books have been welcome, and actually make the story even better, sadly, that can't be said for all of them.

Here are five of the best changes made to the TV adaptation, and five of the worst.

The characters Rupert and Angus were a great comedic duo in the show, but hardly appear in the books.

Angus Mhor (Stephen Walters) and Rupert MacKenzie (Grant O'Rourke).
Angus Mhor (Stephen Walters) and Rupert MacKenzie (Grant O'Rourke).Starz

Rupert MacKenzie (Grant O'Rourke) and Angus Mhor (Stephen Walters) provide a bit of comic relief during Claire's (Caitriona Balfe) early days at Castle Leoch as she comes to terms with the fact that she's traveled 200 years into the past.

Their antics and bantering were a welcome addition to the show, especially given the extremely dark moments in season one.

But viewers might be surprised to learn that neither Rupert nor Angus features significantly in the books. Yes, there are characters by those names who are part of Dougal MacKenzie's (Graham McTavish) clansmen, but they aren't stand-out characters the way they are in the TV show.

TV audiences got to see Frank's desperate search for Claire after she went through the stones, something that wasn't part of the books.

Frank (Tobias Menzies) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in "Outlander" season five.
Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies) and Claire Fraser (Caitríona Balfe).Starz

The entirety of the first "Outlander" book was written from Claire's perspective, so just how Frank (Tobias Menzies) reacted after Claire went through the stones at Craigh na Dun isn't something readers were privy to.

The TV series rectified this.

By showing Frank's tireless search across the Highlands, and the desperate lengths he went to for any scrap of information about his wife's whereabouts, viewers were able to grasp exactly why Claire felt so conflicted about staying in the past, even after her wedding to Jamie.

It also helped establish Frank's character a bit more and draw a distinct line between Frank and his unfeeling, callous ancestor, Jonathan "Black Jack" Randall (also played by Menzies).

Murtagh surviving the Battle of Culloden may have been fan service, but it gave his character a much better arc.

Murtagh Fraser (Duncan Lacroix) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) in "Outlander" season five.
Murtagh Fraser (Duncan Lacroix) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan).Starz

Jamie's godfather's fate is probably the biggest departure from the books in the television show.

While Gabaldon wrote it so Murtagh Fitzgibbons (Duncan Lacroix) died on the battlefield at Culloden at the beginning of the third book, "Voyager," the show's creators decided to keep his character alive for longer after realizing just how popular he was with audiences.

In the series, Murtagh survives and ends up being a much more important character. He pops back up when Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire are living in North Carolina as a leader in the Regulator movement, which ups the stakes when Jamie is faced with deciding whether to support or help suppress the rebels.

Audiences also got to see another, softer side of him in his romantic relationship with Jamie's aunt Jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy), something which ends up replacing the relationship Jocasta has with her former slave Ulysses (Colin McFarlane) in the books.

When he does die in the television series, it ends up being a turning point for Jamie as he realizes that he cannot and will not throw his support behind the British Army ever again, foreshadowing his decision to fight for patriots in the Revolutionary War.

Stephen Bonnet's storyline was thankfully resolved much quicker in the show.

Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speelers).
Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speelers).Starz

Another notable departure from the books was the TV show's handling of the Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speleers) storyline.

The nefarious pirate's run-ins with the Frasers spanned three of the novels — "Drums of Autumn," "The Fiery Cross," and "A Breath of Snow and Ashes" — and culminated after a protracted game of cat-and-mouse with Jamie and Roger (Richard Rankin).

But in the TV show, Bonnet's storyline was wrapped up before any other elements from the sixth book were introduced at all, something that almost all viewers welcomed, given that it felt like a repeat of Jamie and Claire's rivalry with Jack Randall in earlier seasons.

At the same time, it didn't feel like it was wrapped up particularly hastily, and Bonnet's capture and death in season five made a lot of sense, given the fact that a host of new adversaries were introduced for the Frasers in season six.

The show's handling of sexual assault is better than in the books.

Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in "Outlander" season five.
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) and Claire Fraser (Caitríona Balfe).Starz

Over the years, the adaptation of "Outlander" has garnered attention and criticism for its repeated use of sexual assault as a plot device —Jamie, Claire, and their daughter Brianna have all been raped.

However, it has to be said that the producers and writers of the show are only following the storyline set out by Gabaldon. Significantly changing, or completely removing, these scenes and storylines would be unthinkable to many "Outlander" fans, and there would be no way to reach the places and points the show goes to without them.

The only redeeming thing is that the adaptation's handling of sexual assault and its aftermath is more sensitive and nuanced than in Gabaldon's books, especially in the more recent seasons.

For instance, when Claire is brutally raped by a group of men in the season five finale, the moment isn't gratuitously depicted on screen.

Claire's intricate and inscribed wedding ring shouldn't have been changed to a melted-down key in the series.

Claire's wedding ring in the show.
Claire's wedding ring in the show.Starz

In the books, Claire's wedding ring is described as featuring a "Highland interlace pattern, the links engraved with tiny, stylized thistle blooms" and a secret engraved message on the inside. Jamie has it made for her shortly after their wedding after using his father's too-large ruby ring as a placeholder.

However, in the show, Jamie is still holding back some of himself from Claire when they get married — including the fact that he has a family seat. So he opts to have the handle of a key to his ancestral home, Lallybroch, melted down into a band.

While we can appreciate the sweet symbolism behind the wedding ring Jamie gives Claire in the show — producer Maril Davis described it as a metaphorical "key to his heart" in the official "Outlander" series guide — the style of, and meaning behind, the original ring was just more fitting.

The producers eventually realized just how unpopular their decision to alter this aspect of Jamie and Claire's storyline was, and cleverly rectified it. In season four, when Claire has her ring stolen by Bonnet, Jamie has a new one made that is similar to the ring described in the book.

Jamie and Claire carving their initials on each other might've caused continuity problems in the show, but it should have been included.

Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) and Claire Fraser (Caitríona Balfe).
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) and Claire Fraser (Caitríona Balfe).Starz

At the end of "Dragonfly In Amber," before Claire reluctantly goes back through the stones and says (what she thought would be) her final farewell to Jamie, she asks him to leave a "mark" on her, so that she has something to remind her of him always. He obliges, carving a J into her palm before she marks him with a C.

While it's a slightly odd moment to describe out of context, during their breathless goodbyes to each other, it makes total sense. If anything, their decision to permanently scar each other shows just how agonizing it is for them to part; they would take momentary pain and bloodshed as it's nothing compared to the torture of being apart.

This moment was disappointingly left out of Jamie and Claire's heartbreaking goodbye when it played out on screen. Although it was shot, producers ultimately decided to leave it on the cutting room floor because " it didn't really work," as they told Entertainment Tonight.

It's understandable because it would've created a logistical nightmare, as the actors would have to have makeup applied to their hands for almost every scene thereafter, or else avoid showing them. Still, it is one of the scenes that really underscores the beautiful connection Jamie and Claire have.

Jamie's marriage to Laoghaire makes less sense in the show as he knows she was the one who tried to get Claire killed in a witch trial.

Laoghaire MacKenzie (Nell Hudson).
Laoghaire MacKenzie (Nell Hudson).Starz

It might never make sense to "Outlander" fans why Jamie agreed to marry Laoghaire (Nell Hudson) after he and Claire are heartbreakingly separated, but it makes even less sense in the series given that the TV version of Jamie is more clued into Laoghaire's scheming ways.

In the books, Jamie only discovers that Laoghaire was the one behind Claire going on trial for witchcraft, and almost being sentenced to death during her stay at Castle Leoch, years later, once he and Claire are reunited. He only knows Laoghaire as the wide-eyed young girl who always held a candle for him.

But in the series, Jamie is well aware of Laoghaire's duplicitousness and her involvement in the trial as she is one of the people called to the stand to testify against Claire, which creates a minor plot hole.

Given Jamie's unwavering love for Claire and his strongly held principles, it's completely out of character for him to ever speak to Laoghaire again, let alone marry her and raise her children.

Jamie and Claire were not present for the birth of their first grandson in the show, which was one of the fourth book's most touching moments.

Brianna Fraser (Sophie Skelton), Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) and Claire Fraser (Caitríona Balfe).
Brianna Fraser (Sophie Skelton), Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) and Claire Fraser (Caitríona Balfe).Starz

Another ill-conceived change made in the television series was the decision to have Brianna (Sophie Skelton) give birth to her son Jeremiah alone, instead of with her parents by her side.

The scene, which features Claire acting as a midwife and Jamie supporting his daughter through delivery, is one of the most touching in the fourth book in the series, "Drums of Autumn." It also leads to a reconciliation between Jamie and his daughter, following the rift that forms following his discovery of her pregnancy.

This sweet family moment is completely omitted from the series as Claire and Jamie don't make it back to River Run until after Jeremiah's birth, robbing audiences of one of the most emotional moments in the book.

There was no need to make the date of the fire at Fraser's Ridge a mystery in the show.

Claire Fraser (Caitríona Balfe).
Claire Fraser (Caitríona Balfe).Starz

It feels like this change was made just to add a little more intrigue and drama to the series, but ended up causing some confusion among viewers.

In the fourth book, Roger (Richard Rankin) learns that Claire and Jamie died in a fire after finding an obituary for them dated December 21, 1776. When he shares this with Brianna, she decides to travel back in time to try to save her parents.

But in the show, the exact date on the newspaper clipping is smudged, making it impossible for Brianna to know when exactly her parents will succumb to their fiery fate. This added a sense of urgency to her journey through the stones and allowed the showrunners to race through this storyline.

However, when the fire happens in season seven, Roger is convinced that it is not the same one he previously read about, given it was a different month and caused by Brianna's homemade matches.

To make matters even more complicated, it is then revealed in the series that Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones) placed the obituary in the paper as he thought the couple had perished in the fire — and he got the date wrong.

It's not clear what the point of making the date of the fire a mystery was, and whether the show suggests that Jamie and Claire manage to avoid their fiery fate by having their house burn down before the original fire could happen, or whether — like the book — it was the same fire all along.

Read the original article on Insider