An Immortal in Highlander can die only if decapitated. That is their only vulnerable point in a sword fight. (I stick to the canon of the original Highlander, as in Highlander V we see immortals resurrecting after they die.)

I think it is extremely unwise not to protect the neck with any kind of armour - especially when being able to prepare for a fight. The importance of protecting the neck has been recognised by mortals - they used gorgets, aventails, bevors, etc.

Why is the use of such protection uncommon among Immortals?

In case of any inconsistencies I consider only the original (1986) movie canon.

In the original movie Immortals do not die and resurrect, they also do not lose consciousness when stabbed, impaled, drowned etc.:

  • Neither Ramirez nor Kurgan lost consciousness when impaled,
  • Connor walks underwater,
  • Connor stabs his heart proving he is immortal to Brenda, but does not fall to the floor (he just kneels).
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    In the movies but also in the series, if an immortal is say stubbed in the chest during the fight, they will be rendered unconscious. Then, their opponent can easily remove the neck armor and decapitate them. So really, there's no advantage of wearing the armor in the first place, as it might hinder them during the fight. – Hans Olo Nov 30 '18 at 14:07
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    I choose to ignore anything other than the movie as There can only be one – Peter M Nov 30 '18 at 14:33
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    Maybe, being immortal, they reach a point where they've lived long enough that they don't really care as much about dying. After all, if you have to spend your whole life sword fighting people for survival, who wants to live forever? – Steve-O Nov 30 '18 at 14:41
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    @abukaj Technically, I believe it was Freddie Mercury. – Steve-O Nov 30 '18 at 15:16
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    @CBredlow: I like to live dangerously. – FuzzyBoots Nov 30 '18 at 19:50

Notably, they don't wear any armor at all. Getting any serious wound that immobilizes you would be just as fatal as a blow to the neck, because if you are wounded or helpless, you will get your head chopped off no matter.

It would seem that the immortals have a full focus on speed and mobility, with as little to distract as possible, since they only expect to be fighting duels. Connor's ugly sneakers in the first fighting scene confirms this: he picked functional shoes over something that would actually match his trench coat.

And in case they expect a full-scaled battle against mortals, they do wear armor, as we can see in the first movie: The Kurgan is wearing some manner of plate armor, although with no particular protection for the neck.

  • That is good point - why he is not protecting his single point of failure when combating mortals? He risks being decapitated by sheer accident. – abukaj Nov 30 '18 at 16:55
  • @abukaj Arrogance/boldness most likely. Seems more important for him to look intimidating than anything else. – Amarth Nov 30 '18 at 16:57
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    In Addition: Armor in real life does not work like in a video-game. Wearing only some kind of neck collar would give you hardly any protection against the swords they are fighting with. The blow of a long-sword is strong enough to break your neck and crush your trachea. So a functional protection would have to be mounted to a upper-torso part to provide any real protection. And flexible torso and shoulders are very important for good swordsmanship - and armor hinders that. – Falco Nov 30 '18 at 17:22
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    @Falco we are talking about Immortals. Broken neck, crushed trachea etc. is fine as long as head is attached to body. – abukaj Nov 30 '18 at 18:48
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    @jpmc26 slicing Kurgan's throat did not saved Ramirez. Also Connor was walking underwater, so unability to breath is definitely ok. Not sure about a broken neck (not featured in the original movie), but I expect Immortal to recover as quickly as from any other fatal (for a mortal) wound seen in the movie. – abukaj Dec 1 '18 at 16:01

As others have noted, a neck collar wouldn't help much once one was rendered unconscious or dead-and-not-yet-resurrected. Even if the collar wasn't removable, surely it would count as a beheading if one could slice over or under the edge of the collar? Which suggests the 'collar' needs to actually cover the entire head and a good portion of the torso - highly cumbersome.

There is also this to consider: Most immortals are trying to blend into society, to not draw scrutiny by those around them [mortal or immortal]. Exactly how inconspicuous do you think YOU would be if you always went around wearing thick neck armor?

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    I do not remember immortals dieing and resurrecting in the original movie - Krugan received a fatal wound fighting Ramirez, but instantly recovered. As mentioned here: tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Headscratchers/Highlander - it is better to have some protection than none. Also I think it is easier to blend into society wearing a kevlar scarf than a sword. Not to mention you may put it on only when you expect duel. – abukaj Nov 30 '18 at 16:48
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    You never know when some other immortal might sneak up on you (happened all the time in the series), so wearing the kevlar scarf 24/7 would be necessary. – Hans Olo Nov 30 '18 at 16:57
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    But immortals are able to sense each others presence. Even a warning time of 15 - 20 secs should be enough in many situations to put on your kevlar scarf – Volker Landgraf Nov 30 '18 at 17:14
  • @abukaj - As I recall, Connor proved his immortality to [sorry, forgot her name] by being stabbed to death, then coming back. – PMar Nov 30 '18 at 18:00
  • Her name is Brenda. Connor only knelt of pain, but even did not fall. In the duel prank Connor fell, but did not look as dieing. Ramirez was quite alive when impaled and executed by Kurgan, also Kurgan did not die when stabbed by Ramirez (so Ramirez might cut his head off). – abukaj Nov 30 '18 at 18:16

Even the armor of mortals often neglects neck protection.

Most rigid helmets prior to the plate armor of mounted knights had nothing heavier than the fall of a chainmail coif protecting the neck, and that armor was relatively short-lived, lasting only a couple centuries before being rendered obsolete (for mortals) by guns. Also, rigid neck armor generally is very restrictive of head movement, which is necessary for the kind of fighting the immortals seem to prefer.

In the end, an immortal without neck armor who can see around himself and move freely during battle likely has the advantage over one with neck protection that restricts his ability to keep track of a fast-moving opponent.

  • In case of an immortal a coif-like scarf should not restrict their move drastically, while providing protection against separation of head from body. – abukaj Nov 30 '18 at 15:03
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    A coif is in no way insignificant protection and I would not call hundreds of years short-lived. Mortal men would not only protect their neck - it is kind of a whole package deal - so when they stopped with full body armor because it was more costly than it was worth, they stopped with the neck protection too. Immortals don't have that problem. They don't need a full-body suit of armor restricting their mobility (a problem blown far out of proportion) in order to wear something around their neck. – pluckedkiwi Nov 30 '18 at 21:00
  • It would be great to have a remake in which all the immortals fought each other while wearing large cravats. – Kaitain Jan 9 '19 at 20:30

What exactly are you trying to protect against?

Immortals generally are not decapitated in the heat of battle, but after being beaten, followed by beheading executioner-style. There are exceptions like Kastagir, but most of the deaths at least in the first movie come against relatively helpless opponents like Fasil.

Kurgen's attempt to kill Connor early on? Same story.

If you can't keep your head from being cut off in the course of trading blows you're going to die anyways, and if you can a neck collar isn't going to matter when you're disarmed and on your knees and as others have pointed out would be actively detrimental to avoiding that state.

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    Assuming we base the answer solely on the 1986 film's fights, three resulted in direct beheadings during the fight and one resulted in a near-beheading. It seems to be the most common outcome, not the least – Valorum Nov 30 '18 at 19:16
  • @Valorum perhaps, I'm working from memory here (Fasil, Ramirez, Connor in Act 1, so 3 and 3?). But I stand by the assertion (I've been fencing for 20+ years and a fencing coach for over a decade) that if you can't keep your head on your shoulders during a one-on-one exchange of blows you weren't going to live anyways. Also, thanks for the spelling fixes. – Jared Smith Nov 30 '18 at 19:33
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    Fasil Vs. Connor - Execution-style / Connor Vs. Kurgen - Execution-style (failed) / Kurgen Vs. Ramirez - Mid-fight Beheading (nearly) and an Execution-style / Connor Vs. Dandy - Draw / Kurgen Vs. Kastagir - Mid-fight Beheading / Connor Vs. Kurgen - Mid-fight Beheading – Valorum Nov 30 '18 at 20:17
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    The execution-style killings always seemed like a bit of a non sequitur. For instance, why didn't Ramirez simply jump off the top of the croft staircase to escape from The Kurgan? Why didn't Fasil peg it when disarmed, just as MacLeod had done earlier? It almost seems like a kind of ritualized acceptance of defeat. – Kaitain Jan 9 '19 at 20:32

Sometimes they do. In Highlander: The Source, immortal character 'The Guardian' wears a big stupid-looking metal collar. It must be to ward off blows to his neck since he can't possibly be wearing it for its fashionable look.

Immortal wearing a high metal collar

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    I am not sure if we can consider the cursed Guardian an example of Immortal. Also Highlander V is inconsistent with the original movie. – abukaj Nov 30 '18 at 16:52
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    @abukaj - lol. Did you miss the part where the sequel indicated that the immortals were in fact aliens from the planet Zeist and that they weren't immortal at all and that the sky was under a gigantic shield that no-one ever mentions again? I think the idea of a consistent "highlander canon" flew out of the window so hard it's still going to this day – Valorum Nov 30 '18 at 16:54
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    @Loki - Which exists less, H:tS or H2:tQ? – Valorum Nov 30 '18 at 16:59
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    @Valorum In my reality only the TV series exists, even though that's also a canon mess... – Hans Olo Nov 30 '18 at 17:06
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    @Valorum Oh, because decapitations happen so naturally in swordfights... – Zeiss Ikon Nov 30 '18 at 18:50

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