- Starz’s Outlander Season 6 is back in production in 2021.
- Season 6 will be largely based on the book A Breath of Snow and Ashes.
- Starz has confirmed that season 7 is a go—here’s everything we know about the progess of season 6.
Sam Heughan has given fans the good news we need right now: Outlander season 6 is back in production as of February 2021.
“We’ve started shooting,” Heughan confirms to OprahMag.com. “We’re in production at the moment.” The actor is currently promoting his new Starz series Men in Kilts, a Scotland-focused travel show with Outlander alum Graham McTavish. But as a star and producer of the fantasy-drama based on Diana Gabaldon’s book series, Heughan is finally on the (slow) road back to our TV screens as Jamie Frasier, too.
Outlander wrapped shooting on season 5 way back in November 2019, and like many TV and film productions, making season 6 came to a screeching halt in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. When we last saw Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe), the couple and the rest of their clan went to great lengths to protect Fraser’s Ridge from a barrage of threats: Stephen Bonnet, the battle between Governor Tryon and the North Carolina Regulators, and terrifying locust swarms, just to name a few. Co-star Sophie Skelton wasn’t kidding when she told OprahMag.com that “everyone has their own trauma” in season 5. Season 6 is sure to bring more red-hot sex scenes and unexpected catastrophes.
Here’s everything else we know about Outlander season 6 so far—and we’re excited to get confirmation that there will be a season 7.
Outlander season 6 is filming with COVID precautions—though we don’t have a release date.
“Obviously, with all the new COVID protocols, we’re making sure everyone is kept safe,” Heughan tells OprahMag.com. “We’re very fortunate to be working right now.”
The pandemic isn’t the only obstacle to contend with in this shifted production schedule. “We’re getting there. It’s kind of tough with both that, and the weather—it’s winter in Scotland, so that’s been pretty tough. But we’re just happy to be back.”
It’s been quite a wait, even by Outlander standards. Back in March 22, 2020, Heughan told a fan in a tweet that he was “so excited” to have already started prepping season 6. Heughan and Balfe became producers on season 5, so they get outlines and scripts ahead of the rest of the cast. Shooting was then supposed to start the week of May 3, 2020, but the pandemic had other plans.
We were supposed to start this week. We have scheduled for Fall. Will just have to see… 🤞 https://t.co/NxLusL0hWV
— Sam Heughan (@SamHeughan) May 4, 2020
There will be 12 episodes.
Like season 5, season 6 will consist of 12 episodes—down from season 4’s 13 episode count.
Is there a trailer or premiere date yet?
Definitely not! But we’ll let you know the second there is.
The pandemic hasn’t affected the plot—or love scenes.
Rest assured Jamie and Claire won’t be keeping six feet apart at all times. “I didn’t want me or the staff changing what the story is for COVID,” executive producer Matthew B. Roberts told Elle, saying the cast and crew are tested constantly. “We have a lot of intimate scenes—that’s where we live and breathe.”
“I don’t know how to write ‘COVID-friendly scenes,’ certainly not an Outlander scene, because we are going to have people next to each other, being emotional—you talk close to people, and that’s where it transfers COVID,” Roberts continued. “We had to figure out, how do we keep Outlander, Outlander?”
The solution involved tweaking the action in the original scripts as needed alongside U.K. producer Guy Tannahill and Mike Gunn, who replaces the show’s longtime production designer Jon Gary Steele.
When it comes to creating a big gathering, like the wedding that began season 5, they’ll lean digital effects over real-life extras. “Every year, Outlander has a big event and we’re still planning that event,” Roberts told Elle. “We’ll film [the background extras] at a separate time, [then] put it all together in post, and it’s seamless.”
There won’t be a significant time jump since last season either, despite the delay, because “there’s a lot of story we need to connect,” Roberts says. “There were a lot of things left in the finale of season 5 that we still have to tell.”
It’s based on the book A Breath of Snow and Ashes.
Thus far, each season’s been based on an installment in Diana Gabaldon’s book series (while the ninth, Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, is still in progress, you can read excerpts on Gabaldon’s site). The events of season 5 were largely drawn from book five, The Fiery Cross, but toward the end it also took a storyline from A Breath of Snow and Ashes. Season 6 will continue to draw from that material.
You can read what happens in that book here (heavy spoilers alert!). If you want to remain unspoiled, just re-read this synopsis from Penguin Random House between rewatches until we have fresh episodes one day:
The year is 1772, and on the eve of the American Revolution, the long fuse of rebellion has already been lit. Men lie dead in the streets of Boston, and in the backwoods of North Carolina, isolated cabins burn in the forest.With chaos brewing, the governor calls upon Jamie Fraser to unite the backcountry and safeguard the colony for King and Crown.
But from his wife Jamie knows that three years hence the shot heard round the world will be fired, and the result will be independence—with those loyal to the King either dead or in exile. And there is also the matter of a tiny clipping from The Wilmington Gazette, dated 1776, which reports Jamie’s death, along with his kin. For once, he hopes, his time-traveling family may be wrong about the future.
“It’s so interesting to see the process from this side, and to understand certain reasons why stories are changed,” Balfe told OprahMag in 2019 in regards to becoming a producer. “So much of it has to do with logistics, what can be shot, people’s availability, or time.”
The season premiere is titled “Echoes.”
That’s not a reference to An Echo in the Bone, Gabaldon’s seventh book in the series, Roberts tells Elle. “When you see the first episode, the title will speak for itself,” he teases. “Each character will be dealing with something from their past and it will help us tell stories going forward. There was a different title on my very first drop.“
The end of season 5 ended with an intensely traumatic situation for Claire, while the colonies are on the brink of the Revolutionary War. “I think what’s going on in the world at the time, 1775, is really similar to what’s going on with Jamie and Claire,” Roberts revealed to Elle. “There’s going to be a revolution with them as well, and I think that’s what’s going on throughout the season: You have a foundation and when that foundation is shaken and there is a revolution, you have to deal with it. That’s kind of the theme of the season.”
Will there be a season 7?
YES! The Outlander cast confirmed the news on March 14, 2021. In a video posted to the show’s social accounts, Heughan, Balfe, Skelton, and Rankin read fan tweets pleading for an update.
“Am I coming back to work next year, and can I have a bigger trailer?'” Heughan reads, in a tweet supposedly from one @CaitrionaBalfe. “I’m afraid, Caitriona, no you can’t have a bigger trailer, however…you ARE coming back from season 7, yes!”
“So excited to continue this story and thanks to all our fans …. if you didn’t watch, we wouldn’t get to film!” Balfe tweeted following the announcement.
Starz jointly announced seasons 5 and 6 way back in May 2018, so the news has been a long time coming. Back in January 2020, TVLine reported that executive producer Maril Davis said at a Television Critics Association (TCA) Winter Press Tour show, “There are still many more books to go. We’re willing if the actors are willing.” Still, this was said pre-pandemic, so it feels that much better to get official word.
“I hope we continue for years,” Heughan tweeted during a fan Q&A in March of 2020. “There have been discussions. Just hope you all keep watching!”
“As long as the fans continue to crave the story, we’ll continue to have Outlander on the air,” Deadline quoted Jeffrey Hirsch, president and CEO of Starz, as saying. That means we’ll hold out hope for a season 8, too.