How Outlander Created a Whole New Breed of Superfan

Television ignored these women for years. Now, a sexy show about 18th-century Scotland is bringing them together.

Donna Pfister and her friends arrived outside of Macy’s in New York’s Herald Square at 5:20 in the morning. They had come into the city the night before from Long Island and stayed at a hotel in order to be better prepared for the busy day ahead.

Pfister slept on the floor. “That’s what you do when you want to meet Sam Heughan,” she told me, laughing.

They weren’t even the first in line—that honor went to a group led by a woman with Heughan’s signature tattooed on her arm. In total, hundreds of people came to the department store, hoping to say a brief hello and take a photo with the actor.

Heughan isn’t a household name at this point (a spy comedy co-starring Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, out next year, might change that), but through his portrayal of 18th-century Scotsman Jamie Fraser on the Starz time-travel drama Outlander, he has amassed a very passionate fandom, the likes of which is typically reserved for boy bands or members of the Marvel Universe.

His fans call themselves Heughan’s Heughligans, and the demographics of the community are far from those of the typical groupie; these aren’t 14 year old girls fawning over a pop star, nor are they geeky 30-something guys obsessed with the latest superhero film. Instead, they’re a wide-ranging group of women (and some men), many of whom are middle-aged or older, who have fallen in love with Heughan and the world of the show.

It’s not hard to see why.



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