Why Outlander Might Kill Off A Major Character In Season 4

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(Image credit: Image courtesy of Starz)

Warning: major spoilers ahead for Episode 11 of Outlander Season 4, called "If Not For Hope."

Only a couple of episodes are left before Outlander Season 4 comes to an end and fans are stuck in another hiatus. Assuming the fourth season follows the pattern set by the first three, there are probably going to be some game-changing and potentially devastating twists to come before the finale. Now, the events of "If Not For Hope" give reason to wonder: is Outlander going to kill off Murtagh before the end of Season 4? Here's what's happening.

Outlander fans who read Diana Gabaldon's book saga expected Murtagh to die back in the beginning of Season 3, as his book counterpart did. When the show spared him by shipping him off to the American colonies from prison (where Jamie met Lord John Grey), the door was open for Murtagh to return when Claire and Jamie decided to stay on the American side of the pond in Season 4. Murtagh did return in Season 4, but he wasn't exactly living a quiet life as a displaced Scot.

Murtagh is leader of a band of rebellious Scots, known as the Regulators, who despise the British leaders for what they consider unjust taxation, and he has been stirring the unrest to the point that a Culloden 2.0 seems all but inevitable. He had a close call with the Brits, who would have captured him if not for a lucky tip from Jamie and timely warning from Fergus.

As of "if Not For Hope," more than just the redcoats were on the lookout for Murtagh, as signs were posted with Murtagh's picture, advertising a reward "to any person who shall seize and secure the person known as MURTAGH FITZGIBBONS." Murtagh was holed up with Fergus and Marsali, and he was searching for information on Stephen Bonnet on top of his efforts as a Regulator. He and Fergus finally got word of where Bonnet was staying after arriving in Wilmington, and they managed to take him by surprise and capture him. Take that, Bonnet!

Alas, victory was only temporarily sweet for Murtagh and Fergus. As they tried to escape with Bonnet to do undoubtedly brutal things to him, they were stopped by two Brits who were suspicious of their behavior. Thinking quickly, Murtagh attacked Fergus, whispering for him to return to his wife and child. The Brits took this violence to mean that Fergus was not a friend of Murtagh, who wasted no time in announcing that he had Stephen Bonnet.

The Brits certainly recognized that name as belonging to the murderer who escaped the gallows; unfortunately, they also recognized Murtagh, despite his jaunty hat. Stephen Bonnet may have been captured and will likely be sentenced to hang again, but his capture comes at the cost of Murtagh being unable to escape. Should we expect Murtagh to be shown mercy for his actions and escape the gallows himself?

Sadly, we can't rely on the books for any answers, as the Regulators plot for the show is far expanded from anything that happened in the fourth novel. The signs advertising the reward for Murtagh's capture didn't say that his were hanging offenses, but he has been quite a thorn in the sides of the Brits as they try to maintain control in the region. Might they hang him as an example to his friends and fellow rebels, even if his crimes wouldn't necessarily warrant a death sentence?

At this point, Murtagh is the one major character that lifts right out of the narrative without ruining any book plots that may still happen. He's dead in the books, so his life could easily be ended. His death would also be quite impactful for many viewers, including yours truly. Could Outlander resist killing off a fan-favorite when that death would pack an emotional punch without setting back the larger story?

If we're going to fear for the life of any major character, I'd say Murtagh is the one we should be nervous about. Surely Outlander wouldn't have set Claire, Jamie, and Young Ian on this grand quest to find Roger if Roger is simply going to be killed off! We may lose a major character due to the twist of Roger being sold to the Mohawk, but my money is not on Roger dying any time soon.

Of course, it's possible that Outlander isn't going to kill off any major characters in Season 4. A lot needs to happen in the next two episodes without Murtagh's death going down, so we shouldn't despair at his death just yet. Who knows? Maybe he'll outlive them all. He's lasted this long!

Find out when new episodes of Outlander air on Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Starz. For some viewing options once Outlander is done for the season, swing by our midseason TV premiere schedule. Perhaps hiatus will be a bit easier this time since we know that Outlander scored a huge renewal that will bring it back beyond just Season 5.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).