Why Outlander Is So Much Different Than The Books, According To Ron Moore

claire older outlander

Outlander's second season was engaging from start to finish, but the Starz drama did make a lot of changes from Diana Gabaldon's popular series of novels. Now that Season 2 is ended and Outlander is looking toward Season 3, executive producer Ronald D. Moore recently revealed why the series has made many changes from the books. Mainly it has to do with wanting to cater to two very different audiences: those who already know the character's backstories and those who do not. Here's what Ron Moore had to say in a recent interview about why changes are made for the TV series:

With Outlander, I'm always remembering my own experience as viewer who doesn't know the source material, and using that to sort of help guide me through Outlander because they are very different audiences. I think it's easy for us to sort of start with the fan experience that knows the books so well because we know the books now. So, as we're outlining the show and as we're writing the show, we know what the major tentacles are, we know what the backstories are, we know the narrative, and we're moving this around -- and it's OK because this is what happened later, so we have all that stuff locked in. It's the other audience that you have to take a step back for. I kind of see it as my job to constantly try to keep the broadcast-only audience engaged with it.

Ron Moore went on to connect his own experiences while watching HBO's popular drama Game of Thrones with his experiences working on Outlander. As a fan of the HBO show but not the books, he told Deadline he sometimes has trouble following the plots and has to ask his wife questions about background information he either missed or may not have understood just from watching the show. Thus, he's conscious of the fact that his own book bias may influence tidbits the creative team might want to throw in there that might confuse the heck out of the average watcher.

One of the biggest changes that Outlander made in Season 2 had nothing to do with small details or tidbits, but did relate to the story structure. Diana Gabaldon's second book picks up in the 1960s, which is even confusing the first time you read the book, although I quickly got into it, at least. For show watchers only, the move would have been extremely jarring, and the show opted to tell the sequence of events in the story in a different way. Although Season 2's starting point kicked off with Claire returning to the 1940s, the premise worked to tell a story that was different but still ended up in the same place.

During the Season 2 finale, Claire learned in the 1960s that Jamie had seemingly, against all odds, survived the Battle of Culloden, which means that more time hopping seems imminent in Outlander's future. The Starz series has already been renewed for two more seasons on the network, which is huge. While those episodes are not expected to air until sometime in 2017, you can find out what shows will be back this fall, here.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.