Outlander Season 5 theory unpacks the repercussions of time travel

Claire might finally face the consequences of tinkering with the timeline.

Claire Fraser’s journey between the past and present has been the basis of Outlander since Season 1. While the time-travelling doctor has rarely faced the consequences of toying with history — often saving those who might have died without her — an intriguing new theory claims Outlander may finally explore the thornier repercussions of Claire’s chronological escapades in Season 5.

Outlander’s fifth season trailer sees Claire “playing God” to save lives. Her trips to the past have not had any major ramifications on the future thus far. Instead, the Starz series has established that history, for better or worse, has a way of course-correcting, regardless of the Frasers’ actions. (They tried to stop the Battle of Culloden from happening in Season 2, to no avail.) However, that could very well change in Season 5.

Claire wants to use 20th century medicine in the past.


Previous seasons haven’t left much room for Claire to ponder the effects of time travel, beyond the one time she tried to prevent Black Jack Randall’s death to protect Frank’s existence in the future.

Reddit user Purple4199 theorizes that Season 5, based on Diana Gabaldon’s The Fiery Cross, will finally explore the downsides of all this timey-wimey business. The theorist notes The Fiery Cross didn’t feature Claire messing with time in any major way and Caitriona Balfe has mentioned her character will grapple with the historical impact of her choices.

We know that Claire will seek to use her 20th century medical knowledge to heal the sick in Season 5. While Claire brought penicillin back with her in Season 3, she’s only used it on herself and Jamie so the use of future medicine hasn't had a major impact yet. In the Outlander Season 5 trailer, however, Brianna wonders how dangerous that might be, but Claire is determined to keep her family and community safe at all costs. “If I am to keep us safe here, then time, space, history be damned,” she tells her.

Claire has a whole family to protect now so she might risk altering history to keep them safe.


Speaking at Starz’s Outlander panel during the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour (via Parade), Balfe had this to say about Claire’s choices and their “risky” ramifications:

“We see that she takes these big chances in exploring surgery that she would have done in the 20th century and also trying to develop medicines that she would have used in the 20th century. But that definitely is a very risky endeavor for Claire this season.”

The 20th century comes up quite often in the Season 5 trailer. Now that the Frasers find themselves in the middle of the Revolutionary War, their involvement could alter the course of history. Time travel is tricky, after all, and there’s no telling how their choices will impact the future.

Any changes, however small, might have devastating repercussions and it’s high time that Outlander explore the effects of Claire’s time-travelling on history. Saving someone in the past might lead to their unexpected progeny being alive in the future. Might that derail the future or will history adjust to factor in Claire’s noble actions? Either way, it won’t be much longer until we find out.

Outlander Season 5 premieres on Sunday, February 16 on Starz.

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