‘Outlander’: The Exact Moment Producers Knew the Show Would Be a Hit
Outlander has been running for six seasons already, and the show only gets more popular with time. The STARZ series debuted in August 2014 and made instant stars of Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan. During an episode of the Outlander podcast, the producers revealed they realized how big the show was going to be before season 1 came out.
‘Outlander’ was pitched as a TV movie
Outlander is based on Diana Gabaldon’s novels. The series has eight published installments so far, and the author is currently working on the ninth. Each season of Outlander is loosely based on each book. And the story is time traveling romance of epic proportions, set in post-World War II England and 1740s Scotland.
The period piece ties to Scottish folklore and takes viewers to the time period before and after the Battle of Culloden — the battle that ended the Scottish Jacobite revolution against the British and changed Scottish culture forever. And when a show is half historical fiction, half time traveling saga, attention to detail is best.
Outlander producer Matthew B. Roberts knew this when he came across the original script idea for an Outlander screen adaptation. And although he liked the story idea, he rejected it for a specific reason. As he said in the podcast:
“One of the first things that I was tasked to read was a couple of the Outlander books. And I did a pass for this production house because they wanted to make a TV movie. You wouldn’t be able to get the richness the novels in that short of time.”
Producers knew the show was a hit because of the fan reaction to the pilot
Roberts’ co-producer, Maril Davis, was also part of the episode. Roberts revealed they worked in close proximity when he was first reading the books. After passing on the TV movie idea, he told Davis about the story. And from there, they started to develop their idea to make it a series.
When it came time to present their work to the avid Outlander book fans years later, Davis said she was blown away by their response. That’s when she knew they had made something good. She said:
“I knew it had the potential, but I think, as you know, in this industry nothing is for sure. And even things you think are gonna be a smash sometimes don’t for various reasons. But I do think I had a pretty good indication when we had an event before we even premiered in Los Angeles. It was really our first big event. We invited fans to come see the first episode and a Q&A. After that and how well that did, I was like, ‘OK, I think this is going to do really well.”
How many seasons of ‘Outlander’ will there be?
Outlander gets added to Netflix two years after each season ends. Thanks to that deal, the show has been able to grow its fanbase during the Droughtlander (the time between each new season). Season 5 debuted in 2020 and likely won’t be on Netflix until after season 6 airs. Current fans will also be happy to learn Outlander has been renewed for season 7.
Gabaldon is reportedly planning on ending her Outlander franchise with book 10. If the STARZ show continues on its path of basing one season on each book, Outlander could end at season 10.