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

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 storytelling? Or was it an on-the-fly bit of screenwriting, designed to work in a new cast around MacLeod following Tessa’s departure?

Image of Duncan McLeod and Richie Ryan from Highlander

Why is this important?

Because it itches my brain. Looking back to 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), and 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 immortal?

These questions need answering because there seems to be a LOT of foreshadowing going on here, especially 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 never 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. -And 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 an Immortal? According to…

Duncan, Tessa, and Richie

Adrian Paul (Duncan MacLeod)

On December 14, 1994, Adrian Paul was interviewed by AOL Online. This interview exists in a 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 was 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, likeable, 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 incidents 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.

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

Copyright: oldcynic.com
Images used by way 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.

  2. All of Season 1 aggravates me for this reason, lol. Richie says at least once an episode ‘us’, ‘we’, ‘one of us’, ‘like us’ when talking to Duncan about another Immortal. So the easter eggs were there but at no time, none, I watched S1 dozens of time and not once do they show Duncan, Connor, Methow, anyone telling him he is a Pre-Immortal, just around the second or third episode he starts to say things like this as a one off with no explanation as to how he knows, lol.

  3. I was a HUGE fan of this show in the 90’s and have began rewatching it. Yes i believe he was always intended to be immortal but they left it ambiguous just in case. I cannot understand how nobody has taken the Highlander storyline and done a reboot or modern version. If done right it has SO much potential. Ive actually written several short stories about immortals, some ancient some modern, myself.

  4. Gotta say I’m watching this now for the first time and I’m 7 or 8 episodes in and have totally seen this guy becoming immortal I think about three episodes in I was like yeah this dude is a highlander he gotta be to much foundation is laid already

  5. From the pilot where it was ambiguous whether it was Slan or Richie Duncan sensed to the veiled conversation between Connor and Duncan about the boy.

  6. Easy answer. There has never been a premise where immortals can know they are immortal before their death transition to immortality. It’s not a debate even.

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