Why is Outlander the series changing your favorite book moments?

Photo credit: Outlander/Starz Image acquired via Starz Media Room
Photo credit: Outlander/Starz Image acquired via Starz Media Room /
Photo credit: Outlander/Starz Image acquired via Starz Media Room
Photo credit: Outlander/Starz Image acquired via Starz Media Room /

Outlander season 3 has been riddled with complaints about the book changes, but why are the writers making them?

If you’re a show-first fan, you’ve not likely noticed any major problems with Outlander so far. The show has kept the characters developed in the last two seasons and focused on some harrowing, emotional, and beautiful moments. However, step into the Facebook groups or on Twitter and you’ll notice that there have been some major changes to the book.

Outlander season 3 isn’t the only season to change the books. Many of the changes started in the very first season. However, fans are getting more vocal as bigger changes have happened. Just this week, people noticed that their favorite English lord was missing from the Porpoise, which could change things disastrously for the future.

Considering the books are so great, why have the showrunners and writers changed so many moments? Well, there are a few reasons for this.

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It’s mostly about time and money

As with any TV series, Outlander has time and financial restraints. The books are all at least 800 pages long. It’s virtually impossible to get every little moment from the books into the series. Cutting a few things out are necessary to tell the tale in 13 episodes (16 episodes for season 1).

If it was a 22-episode season like a lot of primetime TV shows, telling the full story likely wouldn’t have been an issue. However, the writers have regularly said that elements need to be cut because they’d run over their hour slot.

There is also the element of the actors being available. If a guest star isn’t available for an episode, storylines need to change. In Outlander season 2 there was the intention to kill Willie after the Battle of Prestonpans. When the actor wasn’t available, that storyline was given to Angus instead.

Not everything transfers to screen properly

One of the luxuries of books is that there can be slow-paced moments followed by fast-paced and then slowed down again. Reading books is completely different to watching a TV show. Books can go into more details about feelings, descriptions, and more. Too much of this can be taxing on a TV series. They get boring after a while.

There are elements of setting up a storyline, but a series needs to be gripping throughout. Slow episodes can leave all fans bored and struggling through the episode.

Other characters need developing

Books get away with being focused on the main characters. Since the Outlander novels are told from Claire’s point of view, certain characters can be overlooked. That isn’t the case with a TV series. Side characters need more development, especially when the showrunners know they’ll become important in later episodes.

In some cases, whole dialogue needs creating. That’s happened for Jamie a lot in the latest season. He’s needed a full storyline developed, such as when he was kept below the ship’s deck in the last episode. This takes up some airtime, which means other elements need to be cut.

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Not everyone views the same important moments

While there will be a large group of fans viewing certain elements as crucial to the overall story, not everyone does. There are large groups of fans that view other elements as important. There are some that don’t even remember some elements from the books! It’s not that surprising that the writers and showrunners find certain elements more important than others.

Then they need to add more detail. Little things like the horseshoe and the rabbit’s foot were important for the showrunners to include. Just because not all fans agree with that, there are some that do. Everyone’s opinions matter but trying to fit everyone’s opinions together can be really difficult.

It’s also worth remembering that the writers and showrunners know what’s to come in the future. They’ve been able to adapt two books at the same time, picking out elements that work together for the overall storyline. This can mean changes early on that will only make full sense in the later storyline.

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Book changes are necessary. They’re not always agreeable, but they are often necessary. Outlanderseason 3 has certainly been a ride, but the showrunners do know what they’re doing. They have the season 4 plan and need to make sure as much as possible can transfer but also work for show-first or show-only fans. It’s not an easy job at all!

Outlander season 3 continues on Sundays at 8/7c on Starz. Follow Claire and Jamie on Twitter for more updates and news about the series.