Outlander fans will be thrilled to know that the latest Droughtlander shouldn't be as painful as it's been in previous years, with Season 6 currently filming and set to debut on Starz next year. While it’s exciting to think everyone's favorite Frasier Ridge family will be back relatively soon, the disappointing news is that the sixth season of Ronald D. Moore’s time travel romance will be the shortest one yet, as it was cut short to just eight episodes. But at least Outlander showrunner Matthew B. Roberts didn't keep fans in the dark about why we can expect fewer episodes after this latest hiatus.
The pandemic, of course, was a huge factor going into the big break between Seasons 5 and 6, and it unfortunately also seems to have influenced the decision to shorten Season 6. Showrunner Matthew B. Roberts shared with Deadline that Outlander's creative team wants to be sure they can bring Sam Heughan and Caitríona Balfe's Jamie and Claire Fraiser back to fans as soon as possible with their stories, which is part of the reason why we're only getting eight episodes next season. But even though it may seem like fans are losing content with this alteration, it's just being pushed back to the super-sized Season 7. Here’s what the Outlander showrunner said:
We are excited to get into the editing room to work on bringing the fans one step closer to reuniting with the family back on Fraser’s Ridge. Filming in 2021 has presented an unprecedented set of challenges which led us to the decision to truncate the season in order to bring the fans the most vibrant and dynamic season as soon as possible. Dinna fash, we will then film an extended Season 7 with 16 episodes next year as life returns to normalcy.
Season 6 of Outlander will be based on A Breath of Snow and Ashes, the sixth book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, though it is unclear if Season 6 will wrap up Book 6, or if Season 7’s extension will combine arcs from both that novel as well as the seventh, An Echo in the Bone. This is a pretty big question for fans to have, since the series seems to follow the books pretty closely, and it would be almost impossible to get everything from the sixth entry into just eight episodes.
Even with the wonky, uneven season in our Outlander future, it’s all still good news in the long run. Droughtlanders have lasted long enough, and even some of the cast can get as restless as fans do. COVID has made filming difficult for many shows, and the intimate nature of Outlander, paired with the close combat battle scenes, likely make it a harder series to film with pandemic-specific protocols, so it totally makes sense to cash in Season 6's chips early in order to produce an even more impressive seventh season down the line when safety restrictions are less stringent.
While an exact date hasn’t been locked down just yet, we can expect Season 6 of Outlander early in 2022. The season will take over Starz with a 90-minute season premiere. While it may be a bit disappointing to only get eight episodes in the new season, at least there are lots of shows coming to the 2021 Summer TV schedule that will make the wait less stressful.