The historical fantasy drama Outlander is one of the most powerful stories of romance and adventure out there, as the protagonist Claire goes gallivanting around 18th century Scotland and various other places around the world with her dashing, incredibly handsome husband Jamie Fraser.
Fans are well aware that Claire is a time traveler, having traveled by accident from the mid 20th century to the mid 18th. The series has since revealed that not just Claire, but various others like Geillis, Brianna, and Roger McKenzie are all capable of time travel. But there has been no indication that Jamie himself can travel through time, even though a specter resembling him, complete in its Scottish Highlander attire, was seen gazing at Claire on one dark, rainy evening before she landed up 200 years in the past. Here are ten fan theories pondering over whether or not Jamie can time travel and how he ended up watching Claire in the 1940s.
10 The Different Timeline
Fans theorize that the events of the two centuries are happening in two different timelines. In the 18th century, Jamie was killed in the Battle of Culloden at the age of 25. This matches what the author Diana Gabaldon stated regarding Jamie being 25 at the time he visited Claire.
This fan theory suggests that the presence of Jamie’s ghost in the 20th century was the catalyst for the rest of the events that followed, allowing Claire to pass through the stones at Craig na Dun, and essentially unlocking a different timeline altogether in which Jamie goes on to live even after Culloden.
9 The Paranormal
In a tale where characters travel through time and the past and the future fuse together, it is not far fetched to think that the paranormal could be at work. Remember when in the pilot, Claire and Frank were told that ghosts walked the earth during the Samhain festival? The idea was that during this time the veil between the living and the dead was at its most vulnerable.
Many fans believe that Jamie died in the past, and his ghost continued to haunt Claire until the night of Samhain finally allowed him to pierce through the veil. The paranormal fan theory also hints that both Jamie and Claire died in the past and the former remained a restless spirit, looking for his beloved. It was the sheer force of their bond that drove him to find her in the future.
8 The Temporal Paradox
Another desperately romantic theory that might turn out to be true is the idea of a time loop. Jamie’s ghost could have set eyes on Claire for the first time in 1940s Inverness and fallen for her right there.
He then meets Claire in his own time, 200 years in the past, and the paradox continues in an all-transcending loop of love. The theory suggests that Jamie’s presence in the future, i.e. the 20th century, might have been essential to set in motion the wheels for the past.
7 Jamie’s Purgatory
One fan theory regarding Jamie’s time travel wonders if his soul travels to Claire while it is in Purgatory, cleansing itself of all its sin.
Since the Pagan festival of Samhain is the time when ghosts are freed, it is not impossible that his soul was free to roam around when he was in a state of Purgatory, possibly after the Battle of Culloden, during which he almost died. He might have visited Claire to warn her against passing through the stones, or he might have been there to make sure she did, but either way, it was his soul that sought her out.
6 The Astral Jamie
One of the most popular theories that might actually prove true is the concept of astral projection. Many speculate that Jamie can project his consciousness across spatial and temporal dimensions which allows him to see Claire in the future.
Jamie might have had dreams that were really astral, or ‘out of body’ experiences. It was during such an experience that he could have had a vision of Claire in the 1940s. If Jamie was unable to pass through the stones, then maybe the mysterious figure Frank Randall saw on that eerie night in Inverness was an astral projection, and not a ghost or an apparition.
5 Jamie’s Spirit Called Out To Claire
Along similar lines as the previous speculations, another fan theory hints at the idea that when Jamie was barely alive after the Battle of Culloden–or maybe after he was really dead– his spirit was pining for Claire, calling out to her.
As he called out to his beloved ‘Sassenach’, Jamie’s spirit would have looked for her until it latched on to Claire in post World War II Inverness. It wasn’t possible for him to physically traverse through time but his spirit found Claire to steer her towards him in his own time.
4 Jamie Travels In Dreams
Another similar theory that could have truth in it is about Jamie’s dreams. A fan wonders if Jamie’s dreams are really him visiting the future–this would explain how he might have known things it was otherwise impossible for him to know.
For instance, in season 4, Jamie hints at knowing about a birthmark on Brianna’s neck, which he could only have known about if he had had visions of his daughter in the future. So perhaps every time he dreams in his sleep, his consciousness is leading him around his family.
3 Time Travel Is Genetic
One theory that rings true is that time travel in the Outlander universe is genetic. This would explain why Brianna is able to pass through the stones because of course, Claire was too.
The portal opens up to Roger McKenzie as well, because of his ancestor Geillis Duncan or Gillian Edgars, who was very much a time traveler. However, Jamie could not do the same because no one from his family had ever experienced this particular phenomenon.
2 Jamie Is Already Dead
One fan theorizes that Jamie didn’t pass through the stones, but his ghost could have taken advantage of the Samhain festival and passed through time without having to depend on the stones.
Jamie might have already been dead or at least near death before Claire traveled back, and his ghost could have sought her out to summon her back to the past so that she could go back and help him survive. This theory assumes that Jamie had in fact died in the attack by the redcoats that led to his arm getting dislocated, which Claire was seen jerking back in place when she first met him.
1 Jamie Reborn
If Claire had died in the past, as some theories suggest, and been possibly reborn in the 20th century, it stands to reason that Jamie too could have been reincarnated.
In the pilot episode, after Frank spotted the creepy Highlander, he asked Claire whether she had become intimate with any other man during the war. She declared she hadn’t, and told him of one Scots in particular who had been afraid of being stuck by needles. In season 3, Jamie too was seen flinching at the sight of a huge needle. Although the premise is thin, this might not be a coincidence! If this is true, then Jamie didn’t need the stones in the first place and could simply have turned up outside Claire’s window, although why he would dress in a kilt and a beret still remains unanswered.