|“||I've known Bree how long? Ten years, at least. She's got a lot of you in her, L. J., but I've never seen anything of Frank. Daddy's got red hair, huh? And he's one big son of a bitch, or everything I learned in Genetics 101 was a damn lie.||”|
— Joe Abernathy, Voyager
Joe Abernathy is a doctor in Boston, Massachusetts. He befriended Claire Randall while they were both interns at medical school in Boston during the 1950s. They recognized each other as kindred spirits, standing out among the other interns: Claire was the only woman, and Joe was the only African American. He has a wife, Gail, and a son, Lenny.
Growing up, Joe used to imitate Walter Cronkite to entertain his mother, though he admits that if he had spoken like Cronkite in the area where he grew up, he "wouldn't have lived to go to med school."
In 1955, Joe starts medical training the same time as Claire. They are both interns at Boston General, Joe being the only black intern, Claire the only female one, but they don't become friends until the end of their internship when they bond over a badly written romance novel.
In January 1966, Joe is performing surgery in the early hours of the morning. Upon finishing he learns that Frank Randall has been killed in a car crash and his body has been brought to the hospital. Joe immediately rushes down to the ER where he finds Claire and provides a shoulder for her to rest on while she weeps for Frank.
In 1968, Claire is with Joe when a man arrives with a box of bones for him to examine. Joe asks Claire to stay and look at them as he wants to know if she can do the same empathetic diagnosis on a dead person as she can on a living one. Claire holds the skull in her hands and declares that the dead woman was killed, that she didn't want to die. Joe then reveals that the bones are between 150-200 years old and were found in a cave in the Caribbean with a lot of artifacts. When he pieces the skeleton together he confirms Claire's feeling - one of the neck bones is completely missing while others are fractured. Joe surmises that someone killed the woman by chopping her head off with a blunt blade. Joe also determines that the bones belong to a white woman.
When the man leaves, Claire tells Joe that she wants his opinion on something, and then possibly a favor. Claire then asks Joe if she is sexually attractive. He gives her an honest assessment that she is and draws the obvious conclusion that Claire is interested in a man. When Claire explains that it's someone she hasn't seen for twenty years, Joe asks outright if it's Bree's father. Claire is shocked that Joe has guessed, but confirms that it is. Claire then tells Joe that the favor she wants to ask concerns Bree. Two hours later Claire has left a number of documents with Joe, including her letter of resignation, and left the hospital.
In 1969, Joe hosts a watch party for the first moon walk, which Brianna Randall and Roger Wakefield attend. Two years later, Roger calls Joe and asks if he knows where Brianna is. Together they realize that Brianna has gone through the stones on Craigh na Dun to find her parents.
Roger recalls that, upon their return to the 20th century, Joe Abernathy had helped the family reintegrate themselves into modern life, and later helped Brianna find work on engineering projects.
In November 1980, Joe receives a letter from Brianna indicating that she is "taking the kids to see Grandma and Grandpa."
In December, Brianna receives a note from Joe, with a forwarded letter found at Lallybroch. A few days later, Brianna arrives in Boston to stay with Joe and his wife, Gail, while she sorts out how to proceed with finding Roger and keeping her family safe from the "nutters". While in Boston, Joe helps Brianna test the theory that Jem and Mandy can sense each other from varying distances.
Joe may have an austere look when dealing with colleagues and patients, but his friends and family enjoy his good sense of humor.
Joe is a thickset black man of average height, with a strong air of authority about him. He has sketchy eyebrows and warm golden-brown eyes that remind Claire of toffee drops. He wears gold-rimmed spectacles and has a gold tooth far back on the right side.
- Joseph is from Ioseph, the Latin form of Greek Ιωσηφ (Ioseph), which was from the Hebrew name יוֹסֵף (Yosef) meaning "he will add".
- Abernathy is a Scottish habitational name from Abernethy in southeastern Perthshire. The place name is of Pictish origin, meaning "mouth of the river Nethy".
- Joe's mother wanted him to be a preacher.
- Joe calls Claire "Lady Jane" as a nickname, sometimes shortened to "L.J." or just "Jane". He explains that another intern started it on the premise that Claire's English accent makes her sound like she "just drank tea with the Queen."
- Main article: Outlander (TV series)