Got a thing for handsome men in kilts, sweeping historical romances mixed in with science fiction, and the natural beauty of the Scottish highlands? Well (as you likely know if you’re reading this), Outlander is for you. Based on the Outlander novels by Diana Gabaldon, the show follows Claire Randall as she hops time and continents, struggling with her love for Jamie Fraser and Frank Randall. With the third season just wrapped and a fourth on the way, we’re all itching to see how Claire and Jamie’s story will end. Until then, read on to find out 42 facts about the show.
42. The Doctor Did Always Want to Be Scottish
Although the show draws its inspiration from Diana Gabaldon’s wildly popular Outlander novels, Gabaldon herself had a somewhat unusual muse for her books: the TV show Doctor Who. The author saw an old re-run of the time-traveling series where a character wears a kilt, and Claire’s wibbly wobbley timey wimey adventures in the Scottish Highlands began to be born.
41. 27 Kilts
Outlander was initially tapped as a full-length film, not a recurring series. Who did the developers want to play Claire? None other than 27 Dresses star Katherine Heigl. That makes it sound like quite a different project.
40. Fraser, Jamie Fraser
Jamie Fraser is a plum role, and many actors vied for the part. Before Outlander became a TV show and was still being developed as a film, Gabaldon had her eye on Liam Neeson or Sean Connery to play the dreamy Scotsman.
39. Going Commando
Sam Heughan, who was eventually picked to play Jamie in the series adaptation, proudly proclaims that he’s a “true Scotsman.” One of the ways he shows this commitment? He doesn’t wear anything underneath his kilt (and neither do most of the other actors). Time for a re-watch, ladies?
Each actor also personalizes their own kilt, wearing them in their own individual way that differs from other members of the cast. This helps them to get better into character.
37. First Blush
Heughan was cast first on the TV show—the producers found him almost immediately and thought he was perfect for the role. As Ronald D. Moore, executive producer on the show, put it, “he was literally the first one we cast. We saw the tape and we were like, ‘Oh my god, there he is. Let’s snatch him up now.’”
36. Light Bulb Moment
The role of Claire, however, proved much harder to fill. As Moore said of the trials to find her, “A lot of actresses, a lot of tape, looking for really ineffable qualities. She had to be smart, she had to have a strength of character, and really, she had to be someone that you could watch think on camera.” When they landed on Caitriona Balfe’s audition tape, however, Moore says they had a “light-bulb moment.”
35. That’s Her
Moore remembers very specifically what it was about Balfe that made her stand out. She was testing with the moment in the first episode where Jamie is injured while Claire is riding with him, and she shouts out, “Help, stop, he’s going over” when he starts to slip and succumb to his injuries. Moore admits that “We heard that line so many times we wanted to cut it from the show, but when Cat did it, we all just suddenly were engaged in the scene again, and we all just went, ‘oh my god, there she is, that’s Claire.”
Despite being cast first, Heughan did not get immediate approval from Gabaldon. When she initially saw photos of him, she described him as “grotesque.” Thankfully, when she saw him in movement and on screen, she came to her goddamn senses.
33. The Longest Almost Hour
It takes a whole 44 minutes into the pilot episode of Outlander for viewers to meet Jamie.
32. Yes, Minister
The show is produced by Sony Pictures, and after the Sony hack, UK Prime Minister David Cameron was able to get wind of the release date for the Outlander pilot. Once he did, Cameron actually requested that the pilot’s release be moved back in the UK. The original release date coincided closely with the Scottish Referendum (which determined if the country stayed in the UK), and Cameron didn’t think a series about ravishing Scottish rebels with nothing under their kilts premiering just before the vote was very good PR. For him, that is. Sony obliged and pushed back the show.
31. Blow Me Away
In order to give the clothes, particularly the rebels’ clothes, a lived-in feel, the costume department uses everything from cheese graters to blowtorches to texturize the costumes.
30. Suffer for Your Art
You might think Balfe, with all the elegant looks Claire wears, spends the most time in the makeup chair. Well, you’d be wrong: In order to play the part of the beat-up, scarred Jamie, Heughan says he has to endure 4 to 5 hours of getting his makeup done—often while standing.
29. Half and Half
Although there are some stereotypes that women are the only ones who like historical romances, and there are some people who pigeon-hole Outlander as only historical romance, Outlander’s audience is actually around 50% male. As it should be! The show has so much for everyone: science fiction, historical accuracy, great action scenes, and yes, romance.
28. See the Sites
If you’ve got some change in your pocket, you’re welcome to tour the show’s locations throughout Scotland. Doune Castle just outside Stirling is the show’s Castle Leoch, while Blackness Castle is the real-life Fort William. Unfortunately for all of us, Craigh na Dun, Claire’s time-traveling stone circle, doesn’t actually exist.
Gabaldon herself makes a cameo in the episode “The Gathering” (Season 1, Episode 4) as Iona MacTavish. She has two lines, and speaks them in what she says is a “very Scottish accent.”
26. Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Kilts
Although Claire is apparently subject to the whims of time travel and is unable to totally control where and when she is dropped, Gabaldon says that she very much conceives the time travel as science fiction, and understands how it works within the fictional world even if her characters don’t.
25. Dear Frank
Everybody knows that sex scenes are actually pretty dang awkward to film. To help alleviate this awkwardness and build intimacy, Balfe and Tobias Menzies (who plays Claire’s modern-day husband Frank) wrote each other letters as Frank and Claire before their sex scenes in the pilot.
24. Total Nerd
Heughan is a self-professed nerd and clamored to get on the show because he was a fan of Moore’s previous work on shows like Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. He’s a pretty big science fiction fan in general: he absolutely loves the Back to the Future trilogy, and Balfe says “Sam tries to talk about it [Back to the Future] every day if he can.”
23. Laurel and Hardy
While the show largely stays true to the books, it does take some liberties. The show fleshed out the minor characters of Rupert and Angus—and Gabaldon loves how they’ve become a “version of Laurel and Hardy.”
22. The Outlander Bakers
Outlander has a devoted fan base, and lovers of the show will go all the way up into the Highlands to find where the set is shooting and give the crew home-made pastries and cakes! They’ve even done gluten-free options, and have customized their baking in the past to accommodate Heughan’s love of peanut butter.
21. Keeping it Real
Outlander uses very little green screen; most of the show is shot on location in Scotland and makes use of the country’s vast natural beauty.
20. Travel Scotland
Thanks to this showcasing of Scotland’s breathtaking landscapes, tourism to Scotland actually grew 500% after the series premiered.
19. Foreign Lands
Although Scotland is the obvious setting of choice for a show set in, uh, Scotland, the production actually considered locations in Eastern Europe and New Zealand as primary locations as well. Indeed, Season 2’s Paris is actually Prague.
The cast revealed in an Outlander panel that Balfe can drink them all under the table.
17. Fashion Baby
The costumes from the show are nothing short of marvelous and have gone on exhibition tours just so we can all get a closer look.
Despite all the Scottish pride going around in Outlander, Menzies has said that he does not want to wear a kilt, and considers it “a singularly ridiculous piece of clothing.” Heughan, perhaps unsurprisingly, has said that Menzies is the “absolute definition of a Sassenach.”
Maybe Menzies is a little jealous, though: he says, unlike the other cast members, he doesn’t get fan mail. Um, can you blame us?
14. Coach Heughan
Balfe and Heughan used to binge-watch the TV show Friday Night Lights during filming. That’s not very period-accurate, guys!
Claire is no-nonsense and knows her stuff: the medical remedies she concocts are accurate for the time and place of the Jacobite uprisings in Scotland, and generally do work, although in a much more limited way than her 1940s modern medicine might have.
12. Familiar Face
Ah, the always necessary Game of Thrones connection. If Menzies’ Black Jack looks familiar, that’s because Menzies also plays everyone’s favorite uncle, Edmure Tully, in the hit HBO show. We can now never look at Edmure the same way again.
11. Trying His Hand
If Heughan had had his way, we might also have another Game of Thrones connection: He auditioned for the HBO show a staggering seven times, for parts as different as Renly Baratheon, Loras Tyrell, and a member of the Night’s Watch. He was ultimately never cast, which is really their loss. He looks great with a sword!
10. Getting Hungry?
Outlander goes to great lengths to make its costumes, period details, and even food accurate—all the meals on the show are real food.
9. Blonde Ambition
If you can believe it, Heughan is actually naturally blond. Though he wears the ginger well, he has to dye his hair every two episodes to keep his locks looking fresh.
8. Put Me in, Coach
The show hired a language coach to teach the cast the ancient Gaelic dialect of Outlander, which is actually quite difficult to master.
7. Say Could That Lass Be Me?
Even the theme song maintains some historical accuracy! The song, “The Skye Boat Song,” is about Bonnie Prince Charlie and his escape from Scotland after the Battle of Culloden.
In Season 2, when Claire goes to Paris, costume designer Terry Dresbach tried to design her chic French costumes by way of the 1940s fashions that Claire would have been comfortable with. As Dresbach puts it, “We want to imagine that Claire goes into a dress salon in Paris in the 18th century and says, ‘Take this off! Move this! Why don’t we put the flowers down here like this?’ She is a modern woman.” Dresbach’s team concocted, just for Season 2, 10,000 pieces of clothing as costuming for Outlander.
5. 10,000 Dresses
Dresbach’s team concocted, just for Season 2, 10,000 pieces of clothing as costuming for Outlander.
4. All in the Family
Dresbach is actually married to executive producer Moore, and she (along with co-producer Maril Davis) actually suggested the Outlander books to Moore as a potential project.
3. Staying True
One of Gabaldon’s favorite episodes is Episode 4 of Season 3, “Of Lost Things,” in part because it stays very true to the original plot.
2. Way Back
Gabaldon and A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin are friends. Like A Song of Ice and Fire, Gabaldon’s books were first published all the way back in the 90s. She apparently does God’s work and needles Martin about the speed of his writing—c’mon George!
1. Bumps and Bruises
Outlander star Catriona Balfe confessed that one of Claire’s steamy sex scenes with Jamie actually caused her to come away with some bumps and bruises since the context of the scene dictated that it be a little awkward, as it portrayed the two character being reunited after a long time apart. Balfe said that “I think he probably hit me at one point, if I remember.” but that she also appreciated the tenderness of the scene, saying that “It’s almost like we’re teenagers again. I thought it was a really sweet way to reintroduce this couple.”