Note: What follows is largely speculation and has very little to do with the canon as established by the movie, and the TV series.
Immortal physiology is different from normal human physiology because of the Quickening, which might be a powerful electromagnetic field. According to the series, Immortals suffer and die from wounds exactly the same way as ordinary humans do, however, they restore to a healthy state after dying. The only way to permanently kill them is decapitation.
Appearance[edit | edit source]
Immortals superficially are the same as mortals in every sense. They seem to share the exact physiological processes, and are not markedly stronger, more intelligent, nor more able than mortals. They also differ in appearance, strength, intellect and size, as do mortals, including extremes, such as the simple Mikey.
Immortal anatomy and physiology is identical to that of mortals. Immortals must eat and sleep; they can become intoxicated or drugged. His or her Quickening cannot be detected via any known medical or technological apparatus. It's possible that the Quickening is a form of neural or bio-energy field far beyond the capability of current technology to detect.
Similarly, many mortals, upon meeting and interacting with an Immortal, see no evident difference between them in form, appearance or substance from themselves. Tessa Noël, Duncan's long-time girlfriend, was astonished to learn of her lover's Immortality three years into their relationship, though in the long run, it wasn't an issue until she started to think about how she would soon look older than him.
Some fans propose that Immortals are a sub-species of humanity, due to being very similar to mortals despite their Immortality. They are sterile and so a genetic dead-end.
Immortals in all films/series can be found in any era and in any place around the world. They can be of any ethnicity or gender. For example, Xavier St. Cloud is a Moroccan, Carl Robinson and Richie Ryan are American, Luther and Haresh Clay are West Africans, May Ling Shen, Kiem Sun andJin Ke are Chinese, Kanwulf is a Norseman, Axel Whittaker is Swedish,Sean Burns, Annie Devlin and Tommy Sullivan are Irish, Reagan Cole is Swiss, Hamza el Kahir was a Bedouin, Rebecca Horne was a Mycenaen, and Karros was a Thracian, to mention just a few.
Regeneration[edit | edit source]
The Quickening rebuilds their bodies whenever it's damaged, and revives them from temporary death after the main organs have stopped operating. It acts like a jump start on cells and the major organs to get them going again. How long it takes wounds to heal depends on the amount of damage.
The Quickening speeds up the healing process to such an extent that it happens within seconds, and the regeneration process is perfect, leaving no scars or marks. The Quickening can heal damage from any part of the body, even neural damage; cartilage and all soft tissue will restore to pre-injury state.
All cuts, scratches, and other damages on the body heal very quickly, but deep cuts on the neck take longer to heal.
The organs do regenerate. If an Immortal's heart, for example, is destroyed, the Immortal will die temporarily. Then he or she will revive. A new heart will be built by the Quickening as the heart and other organs remain within the field/body affected by the Quickening.
Age Cessation[edit | edit source]
Another benefit of the Quickening is that it completely protects cells from free radicals and ambient radiation, preventing any oxidation and ionization damage to the DNA. Perhaps it also modifies and augments the genes responsible for telomerase (an enzyme that prevents chromosomal degeneration) production so Immortals continuously possess the enzyme in every cell in the body, completely preventing cellular senescence and therefore giving every cell replicative immortality. The Quickening probably also effects the genes responsible for the metabolic processes of aging, by completely suppressing their function. As a result of these effects of the Quickening, Immortals are incapable of aging, decaying, etc.
Self-Sustenance[edit | edit source]
Immortals might survive and maintain their physical health without the need to eat, drink, or breathe. And should be able to survive and adapt to any environment. A possible example is Nefertiri, who was buried alive in a sarcophagus for 2,000 years. She seemed to have been dormant for much of that period. Ernst Daimler, however, indicated a great deal of discomfort suffered at the bottom of a river for almost 40 years.
Perfect Recall[edit | edit source]
Immortals seem to remember everything that they have ever experienced, encountered or learned in their lifetime. They continue to learn for their entire lives. Depending on length of lifespan, Immortals themselves might not have such an accurate memory, as in the case of Warren Cochrane, whose memories are quite different from MacLeod's as to their shared history. Methos claims that his life and memories before his first Quickening were a blur.
Intuitive Learning[edit | edit source]
Some fan theorizes that Immortals gain a natural aptitude for picking up complicated skills quickly and retaining them. They are able to instantly learn and comprehend anything no matter how simple or complex, and then adapt that knowledge to suit their needs. As shown most notably with Methos who over his long life became a unparalleled polymath. However, most Immortals tend to use this ability to quickly adapt to whatever society or culture they live in.
Sense[edit | edit source]
That energy that is the Quickening is so well integrated into the day to day workings of Immortals' metabolisms as to be completely unnoticeable; they don't give off sparks when they shake hands with people, disrupt the workings of radios, or cause any other overt electromagnetic phenomena during their normal functions. However, the Quickening can help immortals sense other Immortals; it acts like a warning signal. Immortals sense another of their kind when they come within a certain range of each other, in much the same way two magnetized objects will respond to each others presence when brought close enough together. It is sometimes described as a headache (The Immortal Cimoli).
First Death[edit | edit source]
Immortality is triggered through an unnatural or violent death.
The process following First Death is not fully known, but it's possible that the Quickening "recognizes" that the host body has died, and thus regenerates the individual with the full Immortal state. It could be a function of the brain that kicks in once a pre-Immortal dies and becomes fully Immortal.
The Prize[edit | edit source]
There's more to Immortality than healing and not dying. Immortals duel each other to the death (via decapitation) for a "Prize." According to legend, they must fight each other until there is only one Immortal left. When there are only a few Immortals remaining, they will come together in a "Gathering", where they will fight till the last. The last man standing gets the Prize. Nobody knows what it is exactly, but it's supposed to be so powerful as to enable the winner to rule the world with it.
Because the limbs and appendages apparently cannot regenerate, an Immortal is truly dead beyond any sort of revival when their head is cut off. When an Immortal's head is cut off, his Quickening is transferred to the closest Immortal, given he or she is within a certain radius. They will then gain his experience, his power, and his skills. The more power one possesses, the stronger one becomes.The winner of the Prize would have all the combined power of every Immortal who ever lived.
Pre-Immortals[edit | edit source]
Pre-Immortals apparently already have a buzz. They feel a little different than mortals to Immortals, but their signal is not as powerful as that of Immortals. It seems as though some Immortals can recognize a pre-Immortal upon meeting them.
Origin[edit | edit source]
The source of their Immortality is unknown; Immortals appear all over the world, in different circumstances, different cultures, and different environments. "From the dawn of time we came, moving silently down through the centuries. Living many secret lives, struggling to reach the time of the Gathering, when the few who remain will battle to the last. No one has ever known we were among you...."
Sterility[edit | edit source]
Sterility is one of the main drawbacks of Immortality. No Immortal is capable of becoming a biological parent, although many have adopted children over the centuries, both mortal and Immortal, to fill this hole.
Rules[edit | edit source]
Immortals live by a set of rules. Rule number one: they do not fight on holy ground - any holy ground. Not even the most despicable of Immortals will break this rule. Rule number two: they fight only one on one.
Death[edit | edit source]
The only way to kill an Immortal permanently is by beheading. Death can occur through decapitation by any means, such as combat, an accidental decapitation (Alexei Voshin), or suicide (Timothy of Gilliam and Mikey Bellow).
When an Immortal is beheaded, but not by another Immortal, his or her Quickening is released and attracted to the Quickening energy of the closest Immortal. In essence, the Quickening is released upon beheading.
It is possible that an Immortal's Quickening incorporates itself into the brain of the living/victorious Immortal, thus affecting his or her personality and reactions. This may explain the existence of Light/Dark Quickenings. Darius, who experienced a Light Quickening, according to legend, killed a Holy Man who was the oldest Immortal known at that time. He was overwhelmed and altered from warlord to holy man.
Jim Coltec had once taken Duncan MacLeod's darkness into himself to help him, fulfilling his role as a hyoka or holy man, with a stated life purpose of ridding his tribe and the world of evil. As a result, he took the Quickenings of predominantly or perhaps exclusively "evil" Immortals. Over many centuries, Coltec dealt with Immortal evil in the same manner he dealt with human evil, leaving him vulnerable to being overwhelmed after he took the head of Horvan Kant, and falling prey to a Dark Quickening.