An 'Outlander' Prequel Series is in the Works at Starz

Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe in "Outlander" Season 5 (Photo: Starz)
Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe in "Outlander" Season 5 (Photo: Starz)

Premium cable network Starz is reportedly working on a prequel series based on its megapopular period romance series Outlander. The drama, which is about to kick off its sixth season, is based on author Diana Gabaldon's bestselling series of novels of the same name and has been one of the most successful properties for the network, following the time-traveling love story between Claire Randall (Catriona Balfe), a World War II nurse, and eighteenth-century Scottish warrior Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). 

Given the success of Outlander for the network, the only real question here is why Starz hasn't greenlit something like this before now. Over five years into its run, Outlander remains one of the cable channel's most popular series, as well as one of its most critically acclaimed. (And if you can handle the frequent rape and near constant threat of brutal sexual violence, it has some truly fantastic female characters.)

According to Variety, who first broke the news of this project,  executive producer and showrunner Matthew B. Roberts is attached to write and produce the prequel. Ronald D. Moore, who developed the original Outlander for television, will also be involved as an executive producer. 

The plot of the proposed series is being kept under wraps, but Gabaldon is currently writing a prequel novel centered on Ellen MacKenzie and Brian Fraser, who are Jamie's parents. She also previously published a prequel novella as part of a cross-genre anthology called Dangerous Women that focused on a young Jamie alongside his friend and future brother-in-law Ian Murray and saw the pair of Scottish Highlanders work as mercenaries in 1740s France. Could this show tackle either of those stories? It's certainly possible---Jamie's mother's unique story was referenced several times during Outlander's first season, and Ian is a significant character on the main series in his own right.

Plus, there's the fact that Gabaldon has also written an entire series of sort-of mystery novellas about Lord John Grey. Basically, the options for more stories in the Outlander universe are practically endless, is what I'm saying, particularly if the show is centered around a character who is not Claire or Jamie. (Just, please...no more Black Jack Randall is all I ask.)

Outlander returns for Season 6 on Sunday, March 6, but due to various filming and production delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it will be just six episodes long. A seventh season has already been greenlit and will be comprised of sixteen episodes, to help make up the difference.

What sort of Outlander prequel would you like to see? Let us know in the comments.