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It was established in many of the Highlander movies, that even though they are born "Immortals" they genuinely have to be killed first to become an "Immortal". Essentially a trigger to their immortality.

So what would happen if a pre-Immortal was never killed and lived to a very old age, would they eventually just die of old age? Or would something similar happen to them that happened when Colin MacLeod became young again in Highlander II?

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    Highlander II? There can only be one! – AncientSwordRage May 9 '12 at 21:58
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    @Pureferret: Too bad they never made any sequels – Goran Jovic May 9 '12 at 22:50
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    @Jared: They don't make a closet deep enough to hide that shame. I'm sorry, man. – Tynam May 10 '12 at 12:07
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    ** pairing up with Tynam to stuff Jared back into the closet and pretend that comment never happened, just like Highlander 2 ** – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 10 '12 at 13:52
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    It was strange when they released Highlander, and then Highlander 3 (with nothing inbetween). Maybe Highlander 3 was in 3D, and that's why the 3 is there. – Jack B Nimble May 10 '12 at 18:59
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This was answered as a "yes" (they must die violently) in "Highlander: The Raven"'s last episode, "Dead on Arrival".

Amanda has to kill Nick when he's dying from a poison with no antidote, because without a violent death he would not become Immortal.

Transcript is mine from the last 3 minutes of the episode on YouTube:

Amanda: I want you to forgive me
Nick: For what?...
Amanda: For this *Shoots Nick with a gun*
*Nick dies.... a little later he revives and starts breathing*
Amanda: You're not gonna die... You are going to live....
Amanda: You are immortal.
...
Later, discussing:
Nick: ... but you didn't share it [ the fact that he was immortal ] with me!?
Amanda: It wasn't my place.
Nick: [angrily]But it was your place to shoot me?!?!
Amanda: Immortality is triggered by a violent death.
Amanda: The poison Peyton gave you was slow-acting, and it would kill you... forever.

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    Never heard of that spin-off before, and it looks quite... * cough * nice. – Thecafremo May 10 '12 at 7:49
  • @Thecafremo: The issues around that spin-off were complex and messed-up, and there are reasons why it never got a second series, but the actual writing was sometimes several steps up from the relentless Duncan-being-hyper-masculine focus of the original. I'm still bummed they never made the Claudia Christian spinoff though. – Tynam May 10 '12 at 12:10
  • @Thecafremo - if you're referring to lead actress - yes. Presidents of USA don't sleep with random non-goodlooking people. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Feb 9 '14 at 0:45
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Ignoring the madness of Highlander 2. If you take Highlander 1, 3, and the TV series: I would expect if someone were to die of old age, they would come back to life at that old age, but Immortal.

  • In Highlander 3 we see the Japanese magician who is very old, yet Immortal. So he died at an old age, and remained old in his immortality.

  • In Highlander the TV series we see a young boy who is iImmortal. He died at a very young age of disease, and is forever trapped in a small body.

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  • Sorry, this is wrong - see my answer. The canon says they must die a violent death – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 10 '12 at 1:54
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    @DVK What is honestly considered canon in Highlander? – Jack B Nimble May 10 '12 at 15:45
  • The series is canon, presumably. AFAIK no formal definition ala Lucas – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 10 '12 at 16:38
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First, it was Connor MacLeod in Highlander II, not Colin. Colin is from the animated movie :)

Second, unless an Immortal dies an "unnatural" (not necessarily violent) death, they will grow old and die. It is debatable whether they could have children still, I do not believe they could. But it doesn't have to be a violent death as stated in "The Raven". There have been Immortals in the canon that died from poisoning and woke again as Immortal. You just have to die "unnaturally". Die of cancer or old age? You'd stay dead.

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Even though it was stated in Highlander The Raven that pre-immortals must die a violent death to trigger their immortality and many accept this as canon, there is also evidence that it doesn't need to be a violent death. Various immortals have their first deaths recorded as being poisoned, drowned or frozen to death.

One could make an argument for an unnatural death. And obviously if pre-immortals would just grow old and die of natural causes without becoming immortal afterwards there would be no record of it so we would have no way of knowing.

In the audiobook the lesson there is mention of an immortal who had his immortality triggered at 103. And in the series there is the (in)famous Kenneth who died as an 11-year old. So no matter the age, immortals retain the age of the body they had at their first death.

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