Who is the Nuckelavee in Outlander?

In the seventh season of Starz’s historical seriesOutlander,’ Brianna “Bree” Fraser MacKenzie and her family travel to the 20th century to provide adequate medical care to her newborn Amanda. The MacKenzies eventually settle at Lallybroch. Soon after starting to stay there, Brianna and Roger’s son Jeremiah “Jemmy” MacKenzie reveals to his parents that he regularly interacts with a monster named the nuckelavee, who demands food items. Along with her brother, Amanda also tells her parents that she saw the monster. In the fifth episode of the season, Roger notices food wraps near his house, only for Jemmy to reveal that they are thrown by the monster. So, who exactly is the nuckelavee? Let’s find out! SPOILERS AHEAD.

Nuckelavee: Orcadian Demon in Outlander

As far as the Scottish, specifically Orcadian, folklore is concerned, the nuckelavee is a horse-like demon that combines equine and human elements. It is regarded as the “nastiest” demon among the demons of Scotland’s Northern Isles. Although it prominently lives in the sea, it was held responsible for droughts and epidemics on land as well. When Jemmy talks about interacting with the nuckelavee, Roger, who is familiar with the folklore of the Northern Isles, reveals these details to his wife Brianna. Obviously, the horse-like demon is not the entity that has been terrorizing Jemmy and Amanda. The entity is indeed a human being, who pretends to be the nuckelavee to make Jemmy obey him.

In the sixth episode of the seventh season, Roger ends up encountering the nuckelavee. While he is in his house, Roger sees a man sneaking around through a window, only for him to run out of the house and chase him. Roger manages to confront the man face to face, only to smack the latter. The man who receives the smack is actually the nuckelavee Jemmy talks about, which is confirmed in Diana Gabaldon’s ‘Outlander’ novels, which serve as the source texts of the series. The particular man is none other than William “Buck” Buccleigh MacKenzie, one of Roger’s distant ancestors.

Buck is the illegitimate son of Dougal MacKenzie, the War Chieftain of Clan MacKenzie back in the eighteenth century, and the 20th-century-born time traveler Geillis Duncan. He was raised by William John and Sarah MacKenzie. Buck ends up in America after emigrating to the colonies with his wife Morag MacKenzie and their son Jeremiah. This is not the first time Buck and Roger encounter each other. Their history is traumatic for Roger, which also explains why he resorts to violence when he sees Buck rather than embracing peace as he usually does.

Roger travels to the 18th century to be with Brianna. In the seventh episode of the fifth season, after time traveling, Roger meets Morag in colonial America. Realizing that Morag is his ancestor, possibly his great-great-grandmother, Roger embraces the woman, only for Buck to witness the same. Buck gets immensely offended by Roger’s action, which also infuriates the former. He then beats Roger up and hangs the latter up in a noose, expecting one of the newest members of the MacKenzie clan to die. Although Roger manages to escape from death, the life-threatening incident traumatizes him severely.

It is unknown why Buck traveled to the twentieth century from the eighteenth. After time traveling, Buck must have found the world strange and terrorizing. He must have scared Jemmy and Amanda to receive food from them for the sake of his survival. In the ‘Outlander’ novels, he helps Roger to search for Jemmy when the little boy gets kidnapped by Rob Cameron, who wants the kid to reveal the location of the cave where Jamie hid gold for Brianna’s family. Believing that Cameron took Jemmy to the past, Roger and Buck travel back to the past as well.

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