Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

The character of Murtagh in the Series

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  • #3604

    I am truly impressed and charmed with the development of the character Murtagh in the Series. In the books Murtagh always seemed a little indistinct to me — a sort of placeholder character who could be called into service as Jamie’s sidekick when needed, but otherwise isn’t well developed.

    Ron & Co. have made Murtagh in the Series more distinct and, I think, very interesting.

    Series Murtagh is a guide character from epic literature. Most epic heros have a friend/guide/teacher who helps shepherd him on his journey. Murtagh has Jamie’s interests firmly in mind, and he’s going to see that Jamie remains safe as far as he can.

    Then Claire appears. Remember, Murtagh is the one who found Claire and introduces her into the Highlanders’ world. Right from the beginning he is protective of her, assuring Dougal she’s not a “hoor”. And throughout the series we see him looking out for her, guiding her, helping her. Sometimes he’s just keeping his eye on her. Sometimes his help is very subtle. In The Rent, after Angus pulls the knife on Claire, Murtagh makes a joke to the men around the fire to help diffuse the tension.

    Several times we see Murtagh filling Claire in on what’s what and how she’s stepping out of line. He’s the one who explains the oath-taking ceremony to her, who warns her to back off pushing Jamie towards Laoghaire, who fills her in on Jamie’s backstory when he disappears so the watch won’t catch him in Rent.

    ************SPOILER ALERT***********
    I never quite understood why DG kept the fact that Murtagh is Jamie’s godfather from the reader so long. And I don’t know whether that’s going to become an issue in the Series. But I read once that often a godfather would give his young godson a plaid brooch. I loved the “Sweetest Smile” scene in The Wedding. It speaks so clearly, in a single moment and in a very few words about Murtagh’s love for Jamie, and his ever-present support.

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    • #3605

      Dear Dorothy;

      I agree that the Murtagh in the TV series has a larger presence than in the books. I would think that people who haven’t read the books would have wondered why he was always there near Jamie, although as the episodes go by, it becomes clearer that he is choosing to watch over Jamie. In the book The Exile, Murtagh actually sees Claire come from the stones, or at least the stone circle, so he has some idea of her being out of that world. It does give some impetus to his rescuing Claire from BJR, and then for taking her back to the McKenzies in the house in the first episode. I wonder if in the next 8 episodes there will be any more development of Murtagh’s view of Claire. Anyway, I have loved his character very much.

      • #3838

        I’ve read somewhere that Diana gave The Exile to Sam, and I would guess maybe to Ron and the writers, to fill in Jamie’s background (which Claire didn’t know so it wasn’t in Outlander). Sam has said he’s used it to help create his portrayal of Jamie. So it’s very possible that the writers have also referred to it in further defining Murtagh’s character. It would explain his certainty in Episode 1. that Claire is not a “hoor”. I do love the way they have rounded out his character in the series.

    • #3608

      The “sweetest smile” line is from one of the later books. (Though I suppose it must be DiA, since he was dead after that?)

      ETA: nope, from the Abbey part of outlander, where J goes out in the snow.

      • This reply was modified 7 years, 7 months ago by rachely.
    • #3610

      Ha! So it did — slightly different context, where Murtagh compares Ellen’s sweet smile to Jamie’s. Thanks!

      • #3611

        because if anyone wasn’t in love with Jamie it’s because they were in love with Ellen 🙂

    • #4701

      Side note: There are forum pages for many individual characters.


      I adore Murtagh, and am impressed with the actor they chose to portray him in the series. He’s made a unique character very real.

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