The moment that started everything — it may not have been Claire’s first scene, but when she travels through the stones, Balfe’s character sets the tone for the series moving forward.
A fan favorite, Jamie and Claire’s wedding was a crucial moment for Balfe’s character as you saw the concern and apprehension knowing she’s married to Frank in the future, but her eventual acceptance of Jamie proves Balfe’s range.
When Claire discovered Jamie’s idea of her as a wife included corporal punishment when she “disobeys” him, she essentially set forth an ultimatum that she be treated as an equal or she no longer wanted to be with him. Her lack of compromise in this area resulted in an improved Jamie and set forth a badass reputation for Balfe’s character.
In one of Season 1’s most pivotal scenes, Claire tells Jamie she’s from the future, and Balfe’s ability to make the conversation feel real — despite viewers’ knowledge of impossible time travel — proves she’s a master at her craft.
Balfe got to flex her tough-girl muscles in Season 1 when Claire searches for Jamie after he disappears, and it is easily one of Claire’s best moments.
Claire’s Season 2 ensemble was iconic during her and Jamie’s visit to Versailles, but her rebuttal of Jamie’s concern for her neckline makes the moment all the more memorable.
After Claire’s grueling premature birth of their daughter — a stillborn Faith — Jamie seeks forgiveness for his impulsive actions that caused her damaging stress. Balfe’s emotionally charged response is certainly one of her best moments in Outlander overall.
In the Season 2 finale episode, Claire is forced back through the standing stones at Criagh Na Dun to evade the impending Battle of Culloden, but Balfe’s teary goodbye to Jamie has become an iconic moment due in part to her fabulous performance.
When Claire and Frank fight over Brianna and their relationships outside their empty marriage, Balfe’s rage is palpable.
Clearing the Air
When Brianna confronted Claire about her father, Balfe’s heated response is packed with so much emotion that you could feel it through the screen.
Return to the Past
In Season 3, when Claire finally returned to the 18th century, her anticipation to see Jamie is electric, making it one of the biggest build-ups in the entire series.
In Season 3, when Claire becomes stranded on a remote island, she’s taken in by a man named Father Fogden who frequently turns to an inanimate coconut for advice. When Balfe’s character begins doing the same as a tactic for escaping, it’s utterly hilarious.
We’d seen drunk Jamie, but in Season 3 we got to see drunk Claire, and it was amazing as Balfe’s character stumbled her way through assembling a needle — among other things.
The Other Child
In Season 4, Claire meets Jamie’s son William for the first time, and Balfe’s subtle moments of tenderness towards the boy are powerful on every level.
Anytime Claire uses her medical skills, it’s a great moment, but when she’s forced to begin an emergency surgery on someone who doubted her as a healer in Season 4, it was even more delightful.
In Season 4, when Claire is reunited with her daughter Brianna, Balfe’s ability to convey her character’s shock and excitement is every bit as thrilling for viewers at home as it is for Claire.
Outlander may not return until 2020, but 2019 is a special year for one of the show's leads. Caitriona Balfe — a.k.a. Claire Fraser — has just turned 40, and we're celebrating with some of our favorite Claire moments.
Click through the gallery above to travel back in time and relive some of Balfe's finest moments as the beloved character.