MCM: Team Frank


The whole time I’ve been watching Outlander (2014-), I’ve struggled with the fact that I am 100% Team Frank. It’s not easy being basically the only person out there who isn’t thirsty for some Scottish beef (though, don’t get me wrong, Jamie is absolutely eye-candy). It probably doesn’t help, either, that Frank (played by Tobias Menzies) is the fictional analogue to my fiancé, right down to the jauntily cocked fedora.

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Clearly, something about the lanky, intellectual type does it for me.

So, for this Man Candy Monday, let’s show Frank Randall a little love.


You know Frank would be down with the Frock Flicks mission

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You know what else he’s down with… *nudge nudge wink wink*

Frank is has a Ph.D. in History from Oxford. This is a man who understands that HISTORY IS NOT TO BE FUCKED WITH. Unfortunately, his wife failed to get the message, and she winds up both fucking history, and getting fucked by it, and ultimately bearing its child. Which leads to…


He’s a good dad

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Say what you want about his marriage, Frank doubles down and raises another man’s child, loving her as if she were his own, because he’s fundamentally a Good Person.


He’s a sexy, suit-wearing spy

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Sadly, we don’t get more than a backstory involving Frank’s wartime spy-work and subsequent MI6 involvement. But we do get glimpses, particularly in the first season before Claire ends up emotionally ditching Frank for Jamie.


He really does love Claire

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Which blows because she’s sticking it out with him out of an obvious combination of guilt/duty/societal pressures. Only when he [spoiler alert] dies, does she finally have within herself to admit that she loved him very much.

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So, real talk:

I’ve always had some issues about how Claire perceives and treats Frank, particularly once she comes back from the 18th century. And I’ve had many an Outlander fan explain to me that it’s not that Claire doesn’t love Frank … It’s that Jamie is her soulmate. Sure, I get it. I’ve had connections with people that literally altered the landscape of my entire existence, but I still can’t get why Claire just doesn’t cut Frank free.

I get why she stays at first, thinking that they can reconnect and raise Bree, but it’s obvious right away that Claire’s just not into it. So, Frank puts her through med school, raises her kid as his own, respectfully tries to keep his infidelities away from her so she can pretend she’s living in a perfect marriage, but … in the end, it’s just Frank slowly killing himself just to make someone happy who is never going to be happy with him. When Frank actually asks for a divorce, I practically cheered. Then he promptly died. So … never mind?

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I have zero sympathy for Claire here.

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Yep. No sympathy.


Who’s got a soft spot for Frank?


About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Clothing & Textile Design and a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture, with an emphasis on fashion history. When she’s not caught in paralyzing existential dread, she's drinking craft cocktails and writing about historical costume in film and television. She's been pissing people off on the internet since 1995.

46 Responses

  1. Elisa

    Me too! Me too! Jamie is nice to look at, true, but I’d take Frank any day. I will sorely miss him now.

  2. Susan Pola Staples

    I am still Team Jamie, but I recently binge watched what is so far all episodes of season 2. Yeah, all 5. I did it because when I first watched them, I was still seeing Book Frank who IMHO is and was and will always be a jerk. I wanted to see Tobias’ Frank which was in so many ways different. TV Frank whom will be reference to as Tobias’ Frank or TF really loved Claire, he took her back when she returned to 20th century when she was pregnant, raised and loved Bree as his own. He was there for his daughter when Claire was not.
    He helped and supported Claire thru Med school (although she might have had money from her Uncle Lamb to pay her way). All he wanted in return was her love. And not ‘a third person in the marriage’. When she couldn’t, they should have separated – Catholics don’t divorce – then. Also divorce was considered as ‘bolting’ but she should have given him his freedom. Frank deserved happiness. Or to quote another show ‘his happy ending or Happy Ever After’. All he got was death and hopelessness before that.

  3. picasso Manu

    Ah, but you see, poor Frank got in the way of “true Wuv”, so he deserves every possible misery… And he’d better take it with a smile!
    Those romance stories are soooo protagonist centered that they let people get away with attitude and deeds that in RL would be likely to get tossed on the street if you’re lucky… And shot if you’re not (or if your legal partner has a temper… and a gun!)
    “True Wuv” trumps everything, sure. Especially little things as loyalty, duty, responsibility, and often, basic decency.
    It’s been my curse to always see that in those books, and when I was a teen, was known to declare “I don’t ever want to be in love, it turns you into an idiotic asshole”
    Not really changed my mind since.

  4. Cecily

    This is what bugs the crap outta me anout Claire..she’s a spoiled brat. Frank and Jaime both deserve someone better….she’s the modern feminist in a historical drama trope. I couldn’t stand her in the book is only a smidge more bearable cuz of the hotness of the rest of the cast

    • Trystan L. Bass

      “she’s the modern feminist in a historical drama trope” — nailed it. That’s my biggest problem with the book/show. Claire isn’t believable to me, so the whole thing is just a typical romance novel fantasy, and both men are her playthings & plot points. I’ve never been able to get into the story because of her.

  5. eadon216

    I haven’t read past the first book so I really only know what I’ve seen on the screen, but my heart broke for Frank! I’m all for Claire + Jaime = true love, but when she went back to the 20th century I feel like she should have given Frank way more love and respect. I was really hoping she would return and make a real go of it with him. I mean, she did a lot of soul searching before she allowed her self to let go of him and fall in love with Jaime. So that leads me to believe she really did love him, but just wouldn’t let her self re-love him on her return for whatever reason.

  6. broughps

    Let’s see hmmm Frank:
    1. Goes on a second honeymoon to reconnect with his much younger wife and spends his time working on his family tree and sends Claire off to work on the hobby he’s given her (botany).
    2. When Claire comes back he refuses give her time to grieve Jamie. Had Frank done that she might have been able to put Jamie in the past and been more receptive to him. Oh and he loves her unconditionally and yet puts conditions on her.
    3. Stops just short of hitting Claire. (don’t know about you, but I’d be having second thoughts about guy that shows that kind of violent temper)
    3. Claire did tell Frank to get a divorce when Bree was about 8, but Frank refused to leave. HE’s the one who decided he’d rather stay in a loveless marriage than leave on the off chance that Claire wouldn’t let him see Bree after she already promised she would and who else was going to take care of Bree while Claire was working odd shifts. (Frank took care of Bree after school for those that didn’t read the books)
    4. Lied to Sandy. He made her wait for about 10 years for him to be free when he could have left Claire with her blessing.

    Yup he’s a peach of a guy.

    I will give you that he was a good father to Bree. Too bad we didn’t see all the time he spent with her and the training he did with her to get her prepared to go back in time.

    • Sarah Lorraine

      Re: hitting… And Jamie spanking Claire like a misbehaving child is somehow ok? I don’t understand the double-standard with regards to this one. Jamie shouldn’t get a pass just because “It’s the 18th-century,” if Frank can’t get the same pass for almost striking Claire but stopping himself before he does so.

      • broughps

        Well I suppose Jamie could have let Dougal or one of the other guys deal with Claire (and if Jamie hadn’t one of them would have) after she almost got them all killed. She actually got off lightly. Had she been a man she would have been flogged or killed. Claire was in trouble of endangering the whole group. Frank almost smacked Claire because he didn’t like what she was saying.

    • Jenno

      I’m with you. Frank’s no angel, and while I feel sympathy for him and the hand that life dealt him, I’m not into this whole “Team Frank” vs. “Team Jamie” because people are complicated. TV Frank resented Claire and let her know it…he wouldn’t deign to see a movie a second time because he’d seen it with his mistress? He skipped out on Claire’s graduation dinner and invited said mistress to the house? I thought the mistress was a real c-word for blindsiding Claire at the university event — I understood her pain, but girl please, you fell in love with a married man who strung you along for decades. Have some self respect, Sandy.

  7. revknits

    Sorry, team Frank, I’m still with team Jamie. As much as the show wants Claire to be the “bad” one, she was gripped by PTSD, grief over the loss of Jamie, thrust across the pond into a milieu she didn’t know. I wish the show had shown other struggles of the book, like Brianna’s care by Frank so she could go to medical school.

  8. Bel

    I don’t think Claire was ever jealous about Frank’s affairs. She was mad that he invited his mistress to their house, where Bree was.

    • Sarah Lorraine

      In the last two most recent episodes, they do spend some time calling Claire out on her hypocrisy about her jealousy/possessiveness/selfishness with Frank and her feelings about his mistress. The last ep actually was kind of cathartic in that regard, since the mistress (forget what her name is) tells Claire all of this pretty pointedly. And Claire sort of just takes it because she knows, at the end of the day, that she has no moral ground to stand on wrt to Frank.

  9. elizacameron

    I’m definitely team Frank. The minute that Claire stepped back through those stones, she should have made the decision to give her all to Frank, or she should never have contacted him at all and just gone on her merry way when she got back to the 20th century. The way the show presented her relationship with Frank in the 1st episode, they were happy. But Claire didn’t realize what true happiness was until she met Jamie, soulmates etc. Great, but as far as she knew Jamie was dead, so give Frank a chance. The man, not only took her back after she disappeared for 2 years, but also accepted and love another man’s child.

  10. Saraquill

    The only books I’ve read thus far are six and one, in that order. I know in book one Claire’s freaked out how much Frank and Jack Randall look alike. Does it ever influence her feelings for Frank when she returns? If not, the books/show missed fascinating plot.

    • Sarah Lorraine

      I don’t feel like it was ever really delved into on the show. I’m rewatching the show right now, so maybe I’ll pick up some sort of conflict I may have missed on the first viewing, but from what I remember, there was never really anything said or done about Frank looking like Jack and it affecting her relationship with him. The show focuses way more on losing Jamie and that causing the rift in her and Frank’s relationship.

      • Susan Pola Staples

        There was a scene in either episode 1 or 2, where Frank does something that Claire takes as a BJR trait and flinches.

            • Lynn

              When she first returns to the present (1948) and she’s in the hospital in bed Frank goes to kiss her and she flinches. Also he mentions the press saying she was “kidnapped by the fairies” and they will keep flogging the story to death she asks him to never use the word flogging again.

  11. Barb Donaghey

    Book Frank & Tobias Frank are very different, as well as Claire when she came back. Frank is pretty petty in the books, and a fairly one dimensional character. Tobias gave him much more depth, which complicated things (I think) for the writers. In the books Claire tried harder to make the marriage work and Frank is the one who emotionally rejected her. The flashes of Black Jack that shone through here and there, that you you could see Frank trying to hold back, was just brilliant acting. So I’m torn. But I thought Tobias was exceptional.

    • Sarah Lorraine

      Like I was saying to K&T in one of our back-channel chats, I think there’s a clear divide on how a person sees Frank depending on how they were introduced to him. The people who read the books first seem to think he’s a giant tool. The people who watched the show first seem to be a lot more sympathetic towards him.

      • teamstewie

        I read the books first and while I can’t say I was Team Frank from the books I still felt bad for him. He did his best with a pretty crummy situation and while he may have been a jerk at times Claire wasn’t exactly a saint either.

    • Dawn

      A little late to the party, but also in the books, it’s stated that Claire tried to make Frank leave her (presumably divorcing her in the process) before Bree was born. But he couldn’t do it; something along the lines of only a cad would abandon a pregnant woman and he did still love her. And once Bree came along, she was the glue that held them together. Dragonfly or Voyager, I can’t remember, but I believe it was a discussion between Claire and Roger.

      And certainly Claire is aware that Frank genuinely loved her, no matter what else he may or may not have been up to off-page (it’s heavily implied but not outright stated that he was having affairs).

  12. Susan Pola Staples

    I agree wholeheartedly. Tobias is exceptional. I’ve seen him in other things. But Frank & BJR are a tour de force in the roles for actors category.

    • SarahV

      I first fell in love with him on HBO’s Rome, where he played a rather tortured yet charming Brutus. Also, he looked pretty good in and out of his toga.

  13. Charity

    After that episode where Jaime gives Claire a ‘beating’ so she’ll fit in with the crowd, I went, LOL NOPE.

    I always liked Frank and thought he wasn’t “that bad” (he’s your typical ‘boring husband so her cheating is justified’ character, unfortunately — as if someone who loves history is ‘boring’ to the rest of the world) so Claire’s treatment of him never sat right with me.

  14. Lady Hermina De Pagan

    I feel like Book Frank, who was petty and angry that Claire decided to go back to medical school to be Dr, accused her of having an affair with Joe, and was coolly dismissive of how hard Book Claire was trying to be the woman he married. T.V. Frank had more depth, was more kind to Claire and considerate of her feelings. T.V. Claire did not try as hard as Book Claire, Book Claire still had an active sex life with Frank, she was jealous about his affairs but did not think she had the right to say anything after her life with Jamie, she several times told him to leave and let the women he was cheating with know he had only to ask and she would release him because she felt awful that she was no longer IN LOVE with him, though she did love him. T.V. Claire treated Frank like a prop and a roommate. She could not get out of her own head long enough to try and be a wife to Frank and a Mom to Bree.

  15. Shirley

    Thank you for posting this! I tried the Outlander books and show last year on the advice of multiple friends, and I just could not bring myself to root for Jamie or Claire in either version of the story. Especially in the show, I just felt so bad for Frank that I finally stopped watching.

  16. Sisi

    I don’t know about book Frank, but I loved him in the show. TV Frank honestly tried his hardest to help Claire, and from what Bree says of them he was probably the more involved parent because Claire couldn’t separate her modern life from the 18th century. I understand what it meant to her, but that was 3 years to 24 in the modern day. Frank also spent 3 years searching for her, and I don’t doubt he thought about her every day, when I can’t say the same of Claire.

    I just think that Frank deserves a lot more love, both for trying his hardest as a husband and father, and for being pretty sweet even despite his lack of screen time.

    • Kaitlin

      I got the same feeling that Briana was saying Frank was more involved as a parent than Claire. I havent read the books so I don’t know if that’s the case there too…

  17. Tereesa

    I really don’t like Frank at all. I am Team Jamie all the way even Jamie can be really annoying too sometimes. I read the books and I always though he was a complete asshole. I always felt that Claire was only with him as a means to gain freedom and away from her uncle I don’t really think she loved him. At least not as much as he loves her. But he was always really controlling, didn’t approve of her going to medical school and insecure and always accusing her of adultery, which she never did! I mean as far as why she never left was I think because of guilt, I think, Frank always wanted to be dad and Claire met her soulmate.
    Yes, Claire is annoyingly stubborn and can be a complete idiot but Frank didn’t deserve her. ALSO How dare he try to take away Bree with his new girlfriend.

  18. Bronwyn M Benson

    Having binged nearly the whole thing over the last week and a half, I’m just getting more and more upset with Claire and Jamie. I’m not even necessarily pro-Frank (though definitely sometimes), but more anti-Claire and anti-Jamie. God, they’re the worst. Until Claire went back to the 20th century, sure, Claire + Jamie forever, but after, she’s just the worst. And then returning to the 18th century, Jamie’s a pill too. I mean, I guess they deserve each other? But I definitely felt for Frank, and Jenny, and basically anyone other than Claire and Jamie in season three. (Loaghaire is still a piece of work too, but in her season three episode/s I felt a bit for her.)

  19. Black Tulip

    Coming VERY late to the party here, as I don’t have Sky, so only saw the first episode of season 2 when it aired on terrestrial TV in the UK last week. Tobias Menzies was just SO good as Frank, trying to cope with everything about Claire’s return (including her pregnancy), that I was spellbound – and disappointed when it flipped back to the 18th century!

  20. Adina

    Rereading the intro to this article makes me think sarah halfway just wanted to flex on “my fiancee”

  21. HD von Schmittou

    Team Frank all the way! I couldn’t stand any of Claire’s “You don’t understand what it’s like” speeches. Actually Claire, he completely understands because you were ripped away from him the way Jamie was ripped away from you. I basically can’t watch this show beyond the episode where she and Frank temporarily reconcile at Bree’s birth because Frank was wonderful and vastly under appreciated

  22. Isolde

    Never read the books so can’t speak to any characterisations from there. But I find it really hard to have much sympathy for Frank post-1948. It was like he never met a bad life decision he didn’t immediately want to make. Yes, for him this situation is bullshit and he’s not to blame for any of it, but the ONLY thing he should have done in 1948 was WALK AWAY.

    Claire reappears after a few years and tells him that she’s been with another man who was the love of her life, he’s dead now and she’s carrying his child. Whether he believes her about the time travel component of the tale is irrelevant, because was he even listening to any of the rest? He’s already had years to get used to the idea of Claire being gone, time has already blunted that wound somewhat and now he has the closure of knowing she’s okay. Cool. Wash your hands of all it, Frank. Just go back to Oxford and forget about her.

    Also, I do not buy for a second that Claire is able to stand even being in the same room as Frank after what she and Jamie suffered at the hands of Black Jack Randall. Again, Frank is not to blame for any of it, but he could be the guy’s twin and just no. Nope. That she could ever stand to have Frank’s hands on her again is ludicrous.

    Yeah, she promised Jamie she’d go back to Frank, but Jamie isn’t the one who then has to live the rest of his life as Frank’s wife. And while Claire can tell him about the twentieth century, he can never full conceptualise it. Nor does he need to, he’s not the one who can travel through time and the only century has to deal with is the one he’s in. So Jamie doesn’t fully understand that Claire doesn’t NEED a man to look after her in the twentieth century. Being a single mother in the late 1940s is not going to be all sunshine and puppies, but its quite doable. So yeah, she promised him, but privately she should have been thinking that no, she would never take up with Frank again no matter what she told Jamie.

    Honestly, its just stupid on both sides that Claire and Frank take up with each other again when she returns in 1948.

    Side note: Frank was completely unsympathetic to Claire’s grief. Sure, it’s pretty unfair to expect him to supportive about the loss of Jamie, but he is not the only person Claire lost. She is grieving EVERYONE she knew in the eighteenth century and he doesn’t give a fuck. Instead he makes her promise to never bring up any of that again and then drags a grief-stricken pregnant woman to a completely different country. Dick move.

    Side side note: He takes advantage of Claire’s grief and her decision to find some meaning and fulfilment in her life by becoming a doctor to become much closer to her daughter than she ever is. I don’t think he made an actual decision to do that and his love for Brianna was entirely genuine, but on some subconscious level forging a way closer relationship with her than Claire was a way to punish Claire. Brianna isn’t his biologically, but she is in every other way and he gets to win by claiming to be the better parent because she is too busy being a doctor to be a ‘real’ mother.

    All of Frank’s decisions post-1948 are incredibly emotionally unhealthy for him and the people around him.