|Portrayed by||Christopher Lambert|
|Teacher||Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez & Nakano|
Connor MacLeod, also known as The Highlander, is a fictional character in the Highlander film series, as well as the television programs Highlander: The Series, and Highlander: The Animated Series. In the films, he is portrayed by Christopher Lambert.
The character of Connor MacLeod is divided among many separate continuities (the original movie, each sequel, television series, and multiple animated series). Although varying from leading man to supporting character in each different continuity, Connor's importance to each continuity's story is not to be overlooked.
- 1 Film continuity
- 2 TV series continuity
- 3 The Animated Series
- 4 Character concept
- 5 Other characters
- 6 Connor MacLeod in The Game
- 7 The Watchers
- 8 Appearances
- 9 References
- 10 External links
In the first three Highlander films, Connor MacLeod is the protagonist, and is officially the final Immortal. Highlander II and Highlander III pose different (and contradictory) accounts of Connor's life post-1985, but both hold to the original film's assertion that Connor is the "only one" remaining after the events of The Gathering.
Connor MacLeod was born in 1518 in Glenfinnan, Scotland near the shores of Loch Shiel. During a battle between the Clan MacLeod and the Clan Fraser in 1536, he faced an evil Immortal referred to as The Kurgan, and was dealt what should have been a fatal blow. When Connor did not die, the townspeople (including his family) believed his recovery was the work of witchcraft, and threatened to burn him at the stake. Connor's kinsman, and clan chieftain, Angus MacLeod, instead demanded that he only be banished. Connor wandered around the land until he met Heather MacDonald, the daughter of a blacksmith. The two fell in love, and married in 1539. In 1541, he met an Immortal named Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez, who became Connor's mentor and taught him the ways of Immortals, and of "The Game."
Ramírez taught Connor the overriding rule of the Immortals: There can be only one. Connor, Ramírez, and others like them were destined to fight each other until only one was left. By beheading another Immortal, the winner would gain the fallen Immortal's strength, and the last alive would have the power of every Immortal that ever existed, a mysterious power beyond comprehension known as "The Prize." One night, the Kurgan, while Connor was absent, found his home, killed Ramírez, and raped Heather. Decades passed, and Heather finally died of old age. It was at this point that Connor left Scotland to explore the world. Connor MacLeod led many different lives under a variety of aliases, (including Adrian Montagu, Jacques Lefebert, Alfred Nicholson and Rupert Wallingford), constantly keeping his immortality a secret. During his lifetime he fought in many wars and encountered many Immortals.
In 1985, MacLeod found himself living in New York in the guise of Russell Nash, an antiques dealer. In the continuity of the original movie, this was the time of the Gathering, when the few Immortals that remained were to fight until the last. While fighting in the Gathering, Connor had to deal with being a suspect of several beheadings, while falling in love with NYPD forensics expert Brenda Wyatt. In the end, it came down to MacLeod against his ancient enemy, the Kurgan. After the Kurgan kidnapped Brenda, MacLeod faced and defeated him, thus winning "The Prize". He then returns to Scotland with Brenda.
In the movie, The Prize is described as being some kind of telepathy power: "It's like a whirlwind in my head, but if I concentrate, I know what people are thinking all over the world. Presidents; diplomats; scientists. I can help them understand each other." In addition, The Prize appears to strip MacLeod of his immortality, and to give him the ability to father children.
Highlander II: The Quickening
Due to the fact that there are two major versions of this movie, the original movie and the 1994 and 2004 Director's Cuts, there are two different versions of the story.
Original Version – In the mid-1990s, the ozone layer had begun to rapidly disappear, and an ozone hole covered most of planet Earth. After the death of his wife Brenda Wyatt in 1995, the now-mortal Connor became the supervisor of a team attempting to create an artificial shield, which would cover the planet and protect it from the sun's radiation. In 1999, the team succeeded in its goal, and Earth gained its artificial shield, filtering sunlight in place of the ozone layer. MacLeod was proud in having apparently saved humanity. However, the shield had the side-effect of condemning the planet to a state of constant night, and humanity could no longer see the sun, the moon, or the stars. Humanity began to lose hope, and fell into a sharp decline. The Shield fell under the control of the Shield Corporation, taxing for its services for the purposes of profit. Meanwhile, Connor, as years passed, had physically aged into a frail old man, and expected to eventually die of natural causes. He had also been able to learn the source of his immortality. Connor was a reincarnation of an alien humanoid from the planet Zeist. In fact, all Immortals had been reincarnations from exiled criminals from Zeist (though the "reincarnation" aspect never made it into the film).
He was chosen by Ramírez to be the leader of a rebellion against the rule of the evil General Katana. Ramírez, who seemed to possess magical powers, made a magical bond with MacLeod that could never be broken. Whenever Connor needed his help, Ramírez would come. However, the rebellion failed, and Ramírez and Connor were sent to Earth to play The Game as Immortals, which would eventually be won by Connor. In 2024, a number of terrorists, led by Louise Marcus, tried to take down the Shield. Louise discovered that the ozone layer had been reformed, and the Shield was no longer needed. The Corporation, which was aware of this, attempted to hide it from the general public to maintain its profit-margins. Meanwhile, on Zeist, General Katana was still alive. His information seemed to indicate that Connor wanted to return to Zeist. He decided that could not happen, and sent his Immortal henchmen Corda and Reno to Earth to decapitate him. Louise managed to reach MacLeod first, and asked for his help in taking down the Shield. To Louise's disappointment, she found the passionate person she once admired to have grown into "a tired old man." MacLeod explained that he was dying, and expressed his disapproval of terrorism. Before Connor and Louise could finish their conversation, Corda and Reno reached Earth.
The battle led to Connor becoming Immortal once again. Corda and Reno located MacLeod and attacked. MacLeod, however, decapitated them both, and in the process, through the Quickening, regained his youth. While he absorbed their energy, Connor summoned Ramírez, who revived in Glencoe, Scotland, the location of his death. Meanwhile, Connor found a new lover in Louise. Elsewhere, Katana also arrived on Earth and had a brief indecisive meeting with Connor. Soon enough, Connor was also reached by Ramírez. The latter joined MacLeod and Louise in their plan to take down the Shield. Katana predicted this, and forged an uneasy alliance with the Shield Corporation. The conflict between the two sets of allies eventually led to the deaths of Ramírez (sacrificing himself to save Connor and Louise) and Katana (killed by Connor in their final confrontation). MacLeod succeeded in taking down the Shield by using the combined energies of his final Quickening from Katana. Connor, mortal again, began a new life with Louise.
Note: In the TV cut, Connor claimed his Prize by returning to Zeist, with Louise accompanying him.
Highlander II: Renegade Version / Highlander II: Special Edition – In these versions of the movie, the Immortals were not aliens from Zeist. Instead they came from a distant past on Earth. Some events are also changed, the most meaningful being the rescue attempt from Connor, Louise, and Ramírez to free MacLeod's old friend and co-supervisor of the construction of the Shield, Dr. Allan Neyman, from a high-security prison. Neyman had betrayed the Shield Corporation by telling Connor the truth about the ozone layer's status. Neyman eventually dies in Connor's arms. Ramírez also gives his life for Connor and Louise in the prison. Both Neyman's and Ramírez's deaths occur in the Shield Corporation in the longer cut, instead of the high-security prison.
Highlander III: The Sorcerer
Some time after the death of Heather, Connor travelled to Japan to request training from the Immortal Japanese sorcerer Nakano, an acquaintance of Ramírez. Nakano held his residence in a cave of Mount Niri, and had gained a reputation as a master of illusion. The training was never completed. Fellow Immortal Kane was also interested in mastering the power of illusion. Nakano had denied him training two centuries ago. Kane gained in experience and ability since that time. He made his way across Asia in order to reach Nakano again. When Kane reached the cave, he soon defeated and decapitated Nakano, despite MacLeod's attempts to prevent this. However, the energies released during the battle caused the cave to collapse. Connor managed to escape, but Kane was left trapped. He was soon forgotten, and his situation prevented him from participating in the Gathering of 1985, thus meaning The Game was still on, and MacLeod was once again Immortal.
In 1994, Connor was again a widower. In 1987, Brenda, his last wife, had died in a car accident in Scotland after only two years of marriage. He was left alone to raise their adoptive son John. They had settled in Marrakech, Morocco, and Connor was at peace for the first time in centuries. This peace would prove short-lived, though. In Japan, archaeologist Dr. Alexandra Johnson had started excavating Nakano's cave in order to determine if the sorcerer's legend was based on fact. Kane managed to escape the cave, and challenged MacLeod. Connor, meanwhile, started falling in love with Alex. When Kane kidnapped his son John, Connor went to his rescue, and had his final battle with Kane. Connor decapitated him, and finally won The Prize. Now truly mortal, Connor started his new life with Alex and John.
TV series continuity
In the timeline of the television series (which references the first film, but allows for more Immortals to exist post-1985), Connor, after the death of Heather in 1590, decided to travel throughout the world. He returned to Scotland in 1625, and met Duncan MacLeod, a fellow Immortal from the same clan, but nearly 75 years younger. He became Duncan's mentor, and took him under his wing. Their relationship, over the hundreds of years they shared, grew and evolved from a father-son relationship to a brother-to-brother friendship.
Recently, the comic-book series, which is set in this continuity, has acknowledged flashback portions of the third Highlander film, thus making semi-part of this continuity. However, besides the comics, there has never been an official word on whether the third film is completely part of the continuity or not.
Highlander: The Series
Connor's first appearance in this timeline was on the first episode of the TV series ("The Gathering"). In that episode, which occurred in 1992 (though no date is given in the episode), Connor was following Immortal Slan Quince, who hunted and killed Immortals and their loved ones for a living. Quince's next target was Connor's clansman Duncan, who had retired from The Game, and was living with mortal Tessa Noël. After a first failed attempt of confrontation between Duncan and Quince, Connor tried to convince Duncan to return to The Game to help the forces of good defeat the forces of evil, and prevent The Prize from falling into the wrong hands.
After Duncan beheaded Quince, Connor left Duncan and Tessa to pursue his own path. Connor would not appear for the rest of the series, but would be mentioned several times, often with high regard by Duncan.
In the present day, both Connor and Duncan MacLeod were forced to fight a powerful Immortal named Jacob Kell. In this movie, it was revealed that Connor's Clansmen continued to persecute him even after they had banished him from his village. Connor learned that they planned to execute his mother by burning, unless she would renounce Connor as her son. She refused, saying "If your God would persecute me into the next world, I shall simply have to find myself another," and she was subsequently killed. Jacob Kell's mentor and teacher, a priest who orchestrated the execution of his mother was killed by Connor, and Kell swore revenge. Neither Connor nor Duncan was strong enough to win alone, so Connor, having become depressed and bitter at seeing his loved ones die while he lived on, ordered Duncan to take his head, and therefore his power and wisdom, so as to provide Duncan with the strength to defeat Kell while also ensuring that Connor would not have to witness Duncan die. After much reluctance, Duncan was forced to kill his teacher and friend of almost 400 years, and was eventually able to slay Kell (Connor's last words were "Goodbye, Duncan – my true brother"). During the battle with Kell, Connor's spirit seemed to emerge in Duncan for a moment and aided him in defeating Kell. Duncan buried Connor in the Highlands, in Glencoe, next to his first wife Heather's remains, where he laid him to at last find his peace.
The Animated Series
Connor MacLeod also makes an appearance in Highlander: The Animated Series, which again presented a continuity different from that of the original movie or television series. The animated version of Connor appeared in only one episode "The Sound of Madness". When fighting against evil Immortal Kortan, Connor was defeated. He then prophesied the coming of the series' hero, Quentin MacLeod, who would defeat Kortan. He (Connor) was promptly beheaded, off camera as was the series policy, by Kortan. The series features a character called Ramirez who is very similar to the character played by Sean Connery in the first two films, but it is made clear from the beginning that they are two entirely different characters with different histories. A tribute, perhaps, to the original films fallen hero.
Christopher Lambert reflected about the characters he played in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, Highlander and Fortress that they "all have one thing in common: that is that they will never give up. If they have to die for a cause, they would go for it because the purpose is not themselves, it's the other people. [...] You can't win if you don't try, so you've gotta try."
Brenda was drawn to Connor MacLeod when he was suspected of multiple murders each regarding a person being beheaded by a sword. When in the forensics office, she discovers that a shard from the katana that beheaded Iman Fasil in the Madison Square Garden garage is older than the usual samurai sword of ancient times. She then decides to question MacLeod (now under the alias of Russell Nash) in the antique store that he owns. This meeting leads to Macleod inviting himself to dinner at Brenda's apartment but ends when Macleod discovers that Brenda used this date to try to get a confession out of him for killing Fasil in Madison Square Garden. The next day, Brenda does more snooping around to see what she can find on "Russell Nash". She finds that the real Russell Nash died after birth and that all of the previous owners of the antique store that Macleod owns, were children who died after being born. Brenda returns to the antique store and confronts Macleod who confesses that he is an immortal by letting Brenda stab him with a dagger. Only then does she realize that he's telling the truth and they have sex. After sex Macleod shows Brenda his katana. The next day, they take a trip to the zoo where Macleod decides that it wouldn't be safe for he and Brenda to stay together as he does not want to lose another great love of his life. During this trip to the zoo, The Kurgan is seen spying on them close-by. Later that evening as Brenda returns to her apartment, The Kurgan awaits her. She runs into her apartment and locks the door only for The Kurgan to smash through it and begins chasing after her. Running from The Kurgan into the dining room, Brenda tries to retrieve her Smith & Wesson Model 36 pistol from her safe box only to have The Kurgan disarm her. She is then taken hostage by The Kurgan in an attempt to lure Macleod to meet at the Silvercup Studios for the final confrontation. After a prolonged sword battle Macleod beheads The Kurgan and receives "The Prize". Brenda and Connor later marry and move to Macleod's homeland of Glenfinnan. In Highlander 2 before dying in 1994 of radiation sickness, Brenda receives a promise from Connor that he'll find a solution to the depletion of the ozone layer. Later in the movie, Macleod is seen visiting Brenda's gravestone only to be interrupted by the villainous General Katana. However, in Highlander 3, it is mentioned that Brenda died in a car accident 2 years later after the events of the first film.
Connor was regarded by his pupil and lifelong friend Duncan MacLeod as one of the greatest Immortals, and in turn held Duncan in the highest respect. Connor taught Duncan how to live, why they live, and it was only reasonable Duncan felt he owed him a lot. Though they did not see each other a lot in Connor's final years, they were very close, and their friendship was as strong as it had always been for the nearly 350 years they had known each other. Their relationship was like a father and son, or brother-to-brother. In his dying words, Connor refers to Duncan as " my true brother", to which Duncan, in turn, tells Connor that he loves him, strengthening the bond between the two as the closest of kin.
Heather was Connor's beloved wife, who was present at the death of Ramírez, and was raped by The Kurgan, which she never revealed to Connor. There were recurring instances of Heather's depression at Connor's immortality during her life, as revealed in Highlander: Endgame. Connor remained with Heather until her natural death, and was so disillusioned that he abandoned his beloved Scotland, and began wandering the world. However, Connor never forgot Heather, and continued to honor her memory until his own death, at which point he was laid alongside her by his successor, Duncan MacLeod.
Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez
"Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez," original name Tak Ne, was one of the most legendary and greatest of the Immortals. By 1541, at the age of 2,437 years old, he was living in Spain, working as the Chief Metallurgist to King Charles V under the name of "Ramírez." He sought out Connor MacLeod, and took him under his wing, teaching him the rules of the Immortals. Most importantly, he warned him of the Kurgan, who gave him his first death, and prepared him for it – believing that Connor would be the one to end his reign of terror. Connor and Ramirez enjoyed a good friendship, rising from father-son to equals. Although their training lasted for a very short time, Ramirez left an indelible impression on the young Highlander – a taste of the theatrical, the wonder of the world beyond Scotland, and most of all, the connection between "all living things." Ramirez asked Connor to leave Heather, to save him from the pain of her inevitable loss, from old age. Connor refused to do so. In 1542, while Connor was away hunting, the Kurgan returned. Ramirez, although leaving a permanent scar in Kurgan's neck, lost the fight, and died at the hands of the Kurgan, with his last act being to try and claim that Heather was his woman rather than Connor's in the hope that the Kurgan would leave her alone in the belief that doing anything to her wouldn't hurt Connor. Connor buried Ramírez next to his home in Glencoe and, after Heather died, he used his own broadsword as Heather's grave marker, and he began using his mentor's katana, a tribute to his old mentor.
The katana was destroyed in 1994, by Immortal Kane, in a ferocious fight in a Buddhist Shrine in New York. MacLeod retreated, and recreated the sword on his own, leaving the handle the same, as a continuing tribute to his mentor.
Jacob Kell was a clansman of Connor's, and his childhood friend. He was also a latent Immortal. He had been adopted by a priest, and grew up to be a religious man, following in his father's footsteps. When Connor came back to life after his death in the battle against the Clan Fraser, Kell believed Connor had been possessed by the devil, and wished to burn him. However, Connor was just expelled from the clan. Years later, he was part of a group that planned an ambush on Connor, luring him to Glenfinnan to save his mother, who had been sentenced to be burned alive for giving birth to the Devil. Ignoring Connor's pleas, he incarcerated him, and burned his mother. Enraged, Connor escaped, and killed Kell and his foster father. Kell would later come back to life, and start a personal vendetta against Connor, killing Rachel Ellenstein along the way. Being, according to The Watchers record, the single most powerful Immortal alive, his next target was Duncan MacLeod. Yet Connor anticipated him, and offered his head to Duncan, who, after some reluctance, beheaded Connor. Connor's subconscious within Duncan would be instrumental in killing Kell.
Connor MacLeod in The Game
All movie continuities except for Highlander: Endgame show Connor as the victor of The Game. In Highlander, he is the last Immortal and recipient of The Prize. However, the following movies would attempt to establish, with varying amounts of difficulty, that The Game was not over. Connor obviously defeated great Immortals during his life, but the movies did not have time to show it like the series did for Duncan MacLeod, so only seven beheadings are known to take place in the movie timelines. Adding to those seven beheadings are two more from the Highlander script, and several from the new Highlander comic series:
- Mulet, 1815 (Highlander script)
- Jack, 1888 (Highlander script)
- Iman Fasil, 1985 (Highlander)
- The Kurgan, 1985 (Highlander)
- Tasya Desny, 1986 (Highlander Comics # 4)
- Khabul Khan, 1994 (Highlander III)
- Kane, 1994 (Highlander III)
- Corda, 2024 (Highlander II)
- Reno, 2024 (Highlander II)
- General Katana, 2024 (Highlander II)
Highlander: Endgame reveals that as of 2000, Connor MacLeod has taken 262 heads.
Introduced in the expanded continuity beginning with the TV series, there is a secret organization known as The Watchers. In the Watcher Chronicles CD-ROM, a few Watchers were attributed to Connor. It is briefly mentioned in Highlander: Endgame that somewhere in his life, Connor met Methos and the Watchers, and he later joined their Sanctuary. It is questionable whether he joined of his free will (knowing the place he would enter), or whether he entered the Sanctuary forcefully. Here is a list of all of Connor's known Watchers:
|??-Mar 1872–1873–??||Nathaniel Post|
|1992–2000's||Matthew Hale (Sanctuary Supervisor)|
- Movies: Highlander, Highlander II, Highlander III, Highlander: Endgame
- Episodes: "The Gathering"
- Animated Series: Highlander: The Animated Series
- Books: The Element of Fire
- Comics: The first nine Dynamite Comics issues, and two mini-series (Way of the Sword and Highlander Origins: The Kurgan).
- Music: In the song "Hail to the Geeks" by Deaf Pedestrians, Macleod is referenced in the line, "It's good to feel immortal like your last name is Macleod."
- Episode "The Gathering", Bonus material, Article: "Connor MacLeod", in Highlander: The Series (season 1) (DVD, Anchor Bay Entertainment, 2001), disk 1.
- Heritage Scotland on Connor
- ShopusMore's Birth of Connor
- ScotlandShopDirect's Highlander 2 & Connor
- Sadlier, Kevin (2 February 1992). "Lambert's Heroes". The Sun Herald. John Fairfax Group Pty Ltd. ISSN 1323-1987.