Was Highlander’s Richie Ryan always meant to be Immortal?

Image of Duncan McLeod and Richie Ryan from Highlander

I like to think of myself as a big question kinda guy. But ever since Richie became immortal in The Darkness (Season 2 – Episode 4), I’ve wondered…

Was it always the plan, from the very beginning, to have Richie Ryan become an Immortal?

Did the writers know? Did Stan Kirsch know?

Was Richie becoming immortal the consequence of patient story telling? Or was it an on the fly bit of screenwriting, designed to work in a new cast around MacLeod following Tessa’s departure?

Why is this important?

Because it itches my brain. Looking back at Season 1, there were many times when other immortals seemed to sense Richie’s immortality.

For example, in The Gathering (Season 1 – Episode 1), when Duncan MacLeod senses an immortal in his Antique store; he first encounters Richie (who is stealing), then another immortal enters. Was he sensing Richie?

Also, at the end of that episode, Connor MacLeod tells Duncan MacLeod, “What about the boy? He’ll need watching“. Do they both know that they’re referring to the fact that Richie’s immortal? Or are they simply referring to the fact that Richie knew that Duncan was immortal, so he needs watching in that sense?

We know that immortals can sense other Immortals who have not yet died for the first time (Pre-immortals). Did Duncan sense Richie?

I mean, at the time of filming, did Adrian Paul know that Richie was an Immortal?

What about in Studies in Light (Season 2 – Episode 2), when Gregor asks Richie, “What if you didn’t get any older, then how would you feel? … What if you’re one of us?”. Did he, the actor, know that Richie was to be an immortal?

These questions need answering because there seems to be a LOT of foreshadowing here, for what was a budget 90’s show.

How did they even know there’d be another season? What if we only got season 1, would we have ever known about Richie’s immortality?

It seems to me that when they killed off Tessa, Richie was promoted to immortal to change the vibe of the show. At the time of writing this paragraph, I don’t know if that’s correct, so let’s see:

Was it always the Plan for Richie to be Immortal? According to…

Image of Duncan McLeod, Tessa, and Richie Ryan from Highlander
Duncan, Tessa, and Richie

Adrian Paul (Duncan MacLeod)

On December 14, 1994, Adrian Paul was interviewed by AOL Online. This interview exists in transcript which can be viewed at Tripod.com (this appears to be some kind of internet archive, hosting a site called ‘Adrian Paul Interviews ~Online~’).

In this interview, Adrian is asked: “How and why did Richie become an immortal?”

He answered: “Richie was like a caterpillar waiting to turn into a butterfly. His immortality was always there and only I knew of it.”

Stan Kirsch (Richie Ryan)

I can’t find any interviews of Stan Kirsch talking about Richie’s Pre-immortality.

William ‘Bill’ Panzer (Highlander Movie & Series Producer)

I saved the best for last. This is the most definitive answer.

Bill Panzer, a Highlander Executive Producer, is quoted on Wiki as stating:

“When we cast Stan, we were just looking for a good actor and we found one, likable, charming, and building a very nice fanbase. We had not anticipated, when we cast him, that the option might exist for him to become an immortal. But we laid at that into the very first episode, ‘The Gathering.'” – Bill Panzer was referring to the incidences highlighted above.

Bill Panzer also created a number of short commentary videos which can be found on YouTube. In one video, called Highlander Extras S1 01 ‘0101 The Gathering’, at the 57 second mark, Bill states:

“We discovered that, if you were paying really close attention, that Richie Ryan, Stan Kirsch was, … had the potential of being an immortal. But you had to watch real close. Because we weren’t sure ourselves that he was gonna become an immortal.”

Richie Ryan was most likely going to be an Immortal

It would seem that the Producers of the show had considered the option of Richie being immortal before filming began. However, they were not set on the idea.

So they hedged their bets and put foreshadowing into the show. Very cool.

Duncan and Richie together

If you have any thoughts about Highlander or this post, please share them in the comments below.

Copyright: oldcynic.com
Images used byway of review. Copyright owned by Davis-Panzer / CBS Distribution

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  1. In the episode with Joan Jett, Richie tells Tessa during an argument that he has all the time in the world unlike her, indicating he knows he is a pre-immie.

    1. I just re-watched the part you’re referring to and it is a bit odd. It appears in an episode called Free Fall (S1-E5). Richie stops and points a finger at Tessa, telling her, “I’ve got time on my side, not like you”. He says it towards the end of an arguing about Joan breaking his heart. His position being; he doesn’t care what happens a week from now, or a year from now -because he has time.

      I wonder if this was also playing on the fact that Tessa felt like she was getting too old for Duncan. Still, a bit harsh.

      Next time I re-watch Season 1, I’ll pay closer attention to the build up to this moment. Thanks for highlighting it.

    2. That’s not the context in which Richie said that. Richie was speaking from the standpoint that he was 18 years old, when Tessa was in her mid-30s. So, to Richie, HE had all the time in the world to find and be with true love.

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