Murtagh’s death in Outlander is much different than it is in the novelization and the changes make for a different meaning. Murtagh Fraser is a member of Clan Fraser and Jamie’s godfather in the Outlander series. As Jamie’s godfather, he is fiercely protective of his ward, and he’s one of the few people Claire trusts once she is sent back in time. He is a man of few words and is often sarcastic and terse, even when dealing with those he loves. However, he is a constant companion to Jamie and Claire. He even travels to France with them and is a bodyguard, confidant, and father figure to both.


Jamie and Murtagh’s relationship in Outlander is the second-most significant in the series (after the soulmate bond between Jamie and Claire). Unfortunately, Jamie and Murtagh’s relationship ended in tragedy. After discovering they both survived the Battle of Culloden in season 4, their happiness was short-lived when they found themselves on opposite sides of another war. While Murtagh led the Regulators in the Battle of Alamance, Jamie’s oath to Governor Tryon meant he was to join the British. Although both men tried to avoid hurting one another, sadly, one of Jamie’s men shoots Murtagh, believing him to be a threat to Jamie, and the older man dies in Jamie’s arms.

Related: Malva’s Death In Outlander Explained (& Who Killed Her In The Books)

How Murtagh Died In The Books

Murtagh fighting at the Battle of Culloden.

It may come as a surprise that Murtagh’s death is different and earlier in the book series. In Dragonfly in Amber, the second book in the Outlander series, which is adapted to the season 2 of the tv show, Murtagh is killed during the Battle of Culloden (one of Outlander’s best fights). Similar to his last words in season 5, episode 7 “The Ballad of Roger Mac”, Murtagh’s tells Jamie, “Dinna be afraid… It doesn’t hurt a bit to die.” In the novels, Murtagh’s line about dying is a way to assuage Jamie’s fear about the fight.

It’s an abrupt end for Murtagh, whose body is never even found and Jamie does not have the chance to say goodbye. It drives home the hopelessness and chaos of the Jacobite Rebellion and leaves a lasting impression on Jamie about the cost and result of revolutions. According to Parade, the author of the Outlander series stated she had mixed feelings over the significant moment. For Diana Gabaldon, the memory of Murtagh’s death makes the loss at the historically accurate Battle of Culloden in Outlander more significant. Had Murtagh died there, Jamie and Claire’s life in Scotland may have had more lasting effects on the couple.

How This Plot Change Impacted The Story Overall

Murtagh with his hand on Jamie's shoulder in Outlander

Gabaldon also stresses the importance of how Jamie’s 10 years of solitude greatly affected him. After Culloden, Jamie is a changed man and 10 years of loneliness sets his character up for the next part of the series.However, in the show, Jamie spends three years of these years in prison with Murtagh, so he has a significantly shorter time alone in the show than in the books. However, seven years alone can still change a man. By making this alteration, not only does Outlander develop its main character, but they keep things unpredictable and fresh, compelling people to continue watching to see what they have planned next.

More: 10 Saddest Things About Murtagh In Outlander

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