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->''"Your death is on its way."''

''Vikings'' is a medieval drama series airing on Creator/TheHistoryChannel. It follows Norse warrior Ragnar Lodbrok and his group of Vikings on their first forays into England. It's loosely based on the [[Literature/RagnarLodbrokAndHisSons existing sagas]] of Ragnar Sigurdsson, a legendary Norse figure. Much like the Icelandic sagas from which it is adapted, ''Vikings'' is an exploration of human conflicts set against the backdrop of a grim, violent, yet proud society.

Ragnar Lodbrok is presented as a raider of some standing and a farmer who owes his allegiance to Earl Haraldson; a once great warrior but who now feels the weight of age and loss coming down upon him and who feels his power slipping from his grasp. For many years, Haraldson has commanded his warriors to raid the Baltic states and Russia -- places long since plundered dry by generations of Northmen. Ragnar instead looks west, dreaming of the riches and glory that will await any man brave enough to sail the open sea. Ragnar's dreams of conquest and discovery brings him into conflict with the conservative Earl; who begins to fear that Ragnar's ambition will ultimately lead to the end of his rule. The plot thickens and twists from thereon.

The series garnered excellent reception from critics and managed to achieve extremely good ratings in its first season. Halfway through the first season's run, a second was greenlit, which aired on Febuary 27th 2014. The second season has proven to be even stronger than the first, so much so that a third season has recently been greenlit.

The first season was nominated for three Emmy awards, it also won several Canadian Screen and Irish Film and Television Awards.
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!!This series features examples of:

* ALoveToDismember: Jarl Borg not only listens to the advice of his beloved first wife's skull, he also lovingly strokes it. At one point, he gives it a somewhat one-sided French kiss.
* ActionGirl:
** Ragnar's wife Lagertha is a shieldmaiden who occasionally accompanies men on their raids. She's saved Ragnar's life in the past, but he's still protective of her.
** Ragnar takes a few unnamed shieldmaidens along with him on several of his raids on England.
** The handmaidens of Aslaug.
** Horik's wife, Gunnhild, is a shieldmaiden as well.
** After gaining her freedom, Thorunn refuses to reconcile with Bjorn until he fights her hand to hand.
* ActionMom: Lagertha is a shieldmaiden as well as a mother of two.
** The shieldmaiden wife and queen of Horik, Gunnhild.
* ActionPrologue:
** The first scene of the show involves Ragnar and Rollo kicking ass on a battlefield.
** The second season opens up with a massive battle between the hoards of King Horik and Jarl Borg.
* AdiposeRex: King Aelle is a mountain of a man who is often seen feasting.
* AdorablyPrecociousChild: Bjorn takes it upon himself to keep his parents from fighting.
-->'''Ragnar''': It's a great thing, when the little pig teaches a boar how to listen.
* AdultFear
** Earl Haraldson's backstory. His sons were brutally murdered, leaving him a shell of a man.
** Both Lagertha's and Siggy's daughters sicken and die of a fever.
** Ragnar comes back to Kattegat to find his daughter and several of his friends dead, rumors of his infidelity have already spread from Gotaland causing his marriage to slowly fray apart, and [[spoiler:his wife leaving him and taking their son.]]
* AluminumChristmasTrees:
** Some viewers are sceptical to the tattooed Vikings such as Rollo and the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kohl_(cosmetics) eye make-up]] worn by Floki. These features are actually described by Arabian merchants in contact with Vikings.
** Some people find the Vikings' relative lack of metal armour to be hard to believe, but archaeology suggests that the average Viking was indeed not heavily armored. Only few metal helmets or chainmail from the Viking Age have ever been found in Scandinavia. Only Huskarls and Thegns were thought to be heavily armoured regularly.
* AManIsNotAVirgin:
** The Vikings see Athelstan's celibacy as bizarre. He may have lost his virginity at Uppsala, but it's left vague.
** King Horik doesn't consider his son a man until he's had sex with an "experienced" woman, ie Siggy.
* AmicableExes: [[spoiler: Ragnar and Lagertha]] in the second season. They're shown to be still very friendly with one another, and [[spoiler: Lagertha]] is shown to frequently back up her ex-husband when he's in conflict with someone else
* UsefulNotes/AngloSaxons: The Vikings are the main protagonists of the show, but their discovery of England and subsequent conflicts with the Anglo-Saxon inhabitants form a major plot point.
* AnnoyingArrows: Ragnar is shot in the shoulder with an arrow that penetrates all the way through when Haraldson attacks his home, but he's still able to fight his way out of a few tight jams before collapsing from his various wounds. Other characters not protected by PlotArmor are felled by arrows, however.
* AntiHero: Ragnar and his troupe are pillaging murderers, but they're the [[BlackAndGreyMorality heroes]] of this story.
* AristocratsAreEvil:
** Earl Haraldson is a petty despot who dominates and persecutes his people.
** King Aelle betrays his own brother and punishes failure with torturous executions.
** Jarl Borg is a deceitful snake who sows dissension and betrayal amongst his enemies.
* ArmorIsUseless: The Vikings have no problem hacking through armored English soldiers, usually while wearing no armor themselves. Ragnar wears a coat of ring armor for his duel with the Earl, and the only wound he receives is a slash that goes right through the coat.
* ArrangedMarriage:
** The Earl marries his daughter to an old Swedish Earl for 20lbs of silver. Earlier, he offers her hand to Rollo as payment for a favor.
** In order to seal their alliance and aid in the unification of England, King Ecbert marries his son to King Aelle's daughter.
** Horik proposes doing this between his daughters and Ragnar's sons. [[spoiler: It doesn't take since Ragnar has ''all'' of Horik's daughters killed when the king attempts to take over Kattegut.]]
* ArtisticLicenseGeography: Where do we begin...
** Judging by the fjords, Kattegat (which is the Dutch name for the sea betwheen Norway, Denmark and Sweden) is located in Norway. This is supported by that they can travel by foot to Uppsala, which would be easier than travel around entire Scandinavia by boat. But apparently you can travel there by horseback from Hebeby. Hedeby was located in southern Denmark/northern Saxony, and is separated from major Scandinavia by the sea. Still Horik travels by sea from Denmark to Kattegat.
** Uppsala is shown as being located in the mountains as opposed to the actual rather flat farmlands and woodlands.
* ArtisticLicenseHistory: This show is based on legendary sagas set during the single murkiest period of Medieval history, so liberties with historicity are to be expected.
** Ragnar and Rollo are not usually thought to be brothers. The real Ragnar is much more ShroudedInMyth (like KingArthur for instance) while the real Rollo is attested as [[TheHouseOfNormandy the first ruler of Normandy]] (and a direct ancestor of King William the Conqueror and [[UsefulNotes/HMTheQueen Queen Elizabeth II]]).
** The name "Lodbrok" is sometimes used for Rollo also, but it was not a surname - rather, a nickname for Ragnar meaning "Hairy Breeches", since his pants were made of fur. The Vikings had no concept of surnames and used patronymics (naming after one's father) instead. Ragnar's actual second name "Sigurdsson" has yet to appear on the show.
** "Rollo" itself is the Latinized form of the Norse "Hrólfr", the modern form being "Rolf". Similarly, "Lagertha" is a Latinized form of the Norse "Hlađgerđr" or "Hladgerd".
** Some aspects of Norse culture taken from the sagas upon which the show is based lack historical evidence:
*** Historians are still debating whether execution by blood eagle is a flight of gruesome fancy or a real practice.
*** Shieldmaidens are depicted as commonplace among the Norse, with most Viking war parties featuring at least a few female warriors who are accepted without question by the men. There is still an ongoing debate if sheildmaidens where real or not, with schoolars not agreeing what should be made of the evidence (weapons in women's graves, armed women in norse art, a comment by John Skylitzes).
*** The existence of human sacrifices is also debated. By which we mean, it's likely to have taken place, but only in circumstances relating to war (ie: sacrifices to Odin, God of War) and general catastrophe.
** The attack on Lindisfarne happened in 793, Ragnar Lothbrok was presumably killed in the 860s. While not totally impossible, especially since the dates concerning him are not very precise, it is highly unlikely that he lead the attack on Lindisfarne, or was even born at this point.
** Likewise Rollo as well as King Horik are around way too early. Rollo's birth year is tentatively given as 846, Horic became king around 813 and sole king of the Danes in 827.
** The presentation of Norse law: Haraldson is shown prosecuting a man for murder. In actuality, that would have fallen to the deceased next of kin.
** Women are shown casting votes in Norse society. While it may be true that Norse women enjoyed better position than that of mainland European women, the Norse weren't quite this progressive. Voting would be cast in the name of the whole household.
** Vikings didn't practice capital punishment as such. Rather, those convicted of heinous crimes were declared outlaws; which is to say, they are literally outside the protection of the law, and may be killed with impunity.
** It is said that Horik's father was killed by his brothers and that he ascended to his throne by defeating them. In history, Horik's father, King Gudfred was killed by a housekarl. After that, Horik's uncle Hemming (a cousin of his father) took the throne but did not last long. Then, Horik drove out Harald Klak and thus became sole king of Denmark as he was the only son of King Gudfred alive.
** Earl Haraldson mentions Russia. Russia did not yet exist in the 8th century. As a matter of fact, it was being founded by a confederation of Eastern Slavic tribes led by a Swedish subset of the Vikings, the Rus[[note]]The name is probably related to the coastal area of Roslagen in Sweden (by an older name apparently Roţrslandi). This is also the source of the name for Sweden in Finnish (Ruotsi), Estonian (Rootsi), some other Finnic languages in the area (for example Ročinma ("land of Rus") in Veps) and the Sámi languages (Ruoŧŧa in Northern Sámi (while Russia is Ruošša)). In most of these languages Russia has a name based on the name Wend which referred to several different Slavic groups. (Venemaa, Venäjä, Veneä, Venäma, Vinnemaa...)[[/note]]. Thus, "''Russ''ia".
** King Ecbert already being a famous king when the Vikings raid Wessex around 800 AD, when in reality he just assumed the crown at best. His characterization on the other hand, is so spot-on that 'historically accurate' doesn't even begin to describe it.
** Ecbert briefly notes a wife is the husband's property and the husband is free to do to her what she likes. This was not the case in Anglo-Saxon culture, which held women very highly for its time and as equal companions to men. The attitude of "a woman is a man's property" would only become a part of Anglo-Saxon culture in the Norman Conquest and beyond.
** Characters make several references to "Charlemagne," but this is a French version of his name ("Karl, der Große" or in English "Charles the Great") popularized after the Norman invasion of England. It's used here so that modern viewers can recognize the famous figure.
** Aethulwulf of Wessex never married a daughter of King Aelle. He did marry a woman named Judith, but she was the daughter of the Frankish King Charles the Bald, and she didn't bear him any sons because he died shortly after.
** When Aelle and Ecbert join forces, the gathered Saxons begin chanting, 'God save England!'. In truth, the concept of a united country called England wouldn't emerge until some time after the period this show is set. That being said, would have you have preferred them to chant, "God save the Heptarchy except for the Kentish! Bloody Kentish..."?
** [[spoiler: Horik I did not die at the hand of Ragnar Lothbrok.]]
* AsTheGoodBookSays: Athelstan is very attached to his Bible and has quoted it.
* AsYouKnow:
** During a storm on the first voyage to England, Floki lays out the Vikings' beliefs that lightning is the sparks coming off Thor's anvil as he beats it with his hammer to a group of Vikings who explicitly already know this.
** Jarl Borg notes to his fellow Norsemen that [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yggdrasil Yggdrasil]] is the tree that holds up the heavens.
* AttemptedRape: Lagertha 5:0 Wannabe Rapists
* AutobotsRockOut: Electric guitar is occasionally heard in the soundtrack during tense or action-packed parts. The early advertisements made good use of AWOLNATION's "Sail."
* AnAxToGrind: Many Vikings favor axes in combat.
* BadassFamily:
** Ragnar's family; all of them suit up for combat when their farm is attacked.
** King Ecbert and his son, Prince Aethelwulf, count as well. They are both capable rulers, strategists, and combatants in battle.
* BadassBeard: Most of the Vikings sport very impressive beards.
* BadassCrew: Ragnar's warband seems to be the toughest group of warriors around.
* BadassGrandpa: Tostig is a veteran of many raiding campaigns and has survived them all, to his chagrin. He asks to join the next raid in spite of his age because he wants one last chance to die in battle and join his comrades in Valhalla.
* BadBoss: Due to Earl Haraldson's greed and paranoia, it can be just as dangerous to be one of his loyal followers as being one of his enemies. He goes as far as to give one of his men the permission to sleep with the Earl's wife and then have the man executed when he takes the Earl up on the offer.
* BeardOfBarbarism: The Vikings have wild, barbarous (and impressive) beards in contrast to the simple beards or clean-shaven looks of Saxons.
* BestHerToBedHer: Once Thorunn is free, she insists that Bjorn fight her, after which they tumble into each others' arms.
* BilingualBonus: That's actual Old Norse and Old English they're speaking, or as close as most linguists can get.
* BlatantLies: Ragnar's claim that he and his men are traders to the Northumbrian sheriff who meets them when they land in England for the second time. While the sheriff himself seems to desperately be trying to believe it, the claim is quickly disproven when Floki steals a cross from a Northumbrian soldier, and the two sides set about killing each other. This actually happened according to the ''Anglo-Saxon Chronicle'', mind you.
* BlindSeer: The Seer's eyes appear to be ''sewn'' shut.
* BraidsOfAction: The Viking men wear them for their hair and beards. Ragnar's signature hairstyle is a single fat braid.
* BunnyEarsLawyer: Floki is... weird. However, he's also a brilliant shipwright.
* BullyingTheDragon: People seem to keep forgetting that Lagertha is a shieldmaiden and knows how to fight. People try to sexually assault her three times, and each time she gets the upper hand on her attacker.
* CainAndAbel: Rollo and Ragnar -- Rollo is envious of Ragnar for his wife, whom he lusts after, and the glory he receives after their initial raid.
* CallingTheOldManOut: Bjorn takes his father to task for cheating on Lagertha.
* CanisMajor: Bjorn walks his gigantic wolfhound to the Thing.
* CannotKeepASecret: When Siggy asks if he can keep a secret, Floki grins and says, "No!"
* ChristianityIsCatholic: In 793 AD England, it was. It's centuries before the Great Catholic/Orthodox Schism and the even later Protestant Reformation.
* ColdBloodedTorture:
** Haraldson dishes out some of this to [[spoiler:Rollo]].
** During the sack of Winchester, King Horik has the bishop tied to a pillar and slowly riddled with arrows. It only ends when Athelstan puts him out of his misery.
** It's more a method of execution rather than torture, but the blood eagle is a truly horrifying way to kill someone
* CombatBreakdown: Ragnar and the Earl's duel. They start out with sword and shield, but their shields get smashed and Ragnar's sword breaks. It concludes with axes.
* ComfortingTheWidow: Rollo seeks out Siggy and offers her his protection after the death of her husband. Luckily for her, she seemed interested in him beforehand.
* CrisisOfFaith:
** Athelstan.
-->“Where are you Lord? Tell me… is it your will that I am here with these heathens? How does it serve you? I don’t understand and for the first time in my life I am angry with you. You allow my brothers to be slaughtered and sold. Is this really your will? for the first time… I feel lonely. Where are you, Lord? Where are you? And why don’t you answer me?”
** This gets even worse when [[spoiler: he is captured by the Anglo-Saxons]], where he finds himself once again immersed in Christianity and Anglo-Saxon culture while simultaneously attracted to the Viking religion he's been practicing for years
** Haraldsson has one regarding the Norse gods.
* DarkerAndEdgier: Season 2 as compared to Season 1. Not that the latter was a barrel of laughs by any stretch of the imagination, but the show's second season is bloodier, more tragic, the characters are darker, and the villains are far more threatening. In the first season, there was a sense of glory and adventure; in the second, there's a feeling of doom and dire portents. This may be deliberate, as the Norse sagas did often follow a similar path of the youthful adventure and the gradual decline into dishonor and tragedy.
* DeathSeeker: Tostig is upset that all of his raiding friends have died in battle and left him behind. He wants to rejoin them in Valhalla.
* DefeatMeansFriendship: After suffering a defeat at the hands of the Ecbert/Aelle coalition, some of the Vikings agree to sign on as mercenaries to aid in the conquest of Mercia.
* DeliberateValuesDissonance:
** The Vikings treat rape and pillage like just another fact of life.
** The finer points of Viking law:
*** If you kill someone in self-defense, you have to report the killing to the nearest household. You may walk past two houses if you think the families are kin of the dead and will try to attack you, but only two.
*** Thieves are made to run the gauntlet, with everyone required to pelt him with stuff.
*** Slaves have absolutely no rights or protection. Athelstan observes that a man can rape a slave without consequence, but not a free woman, and that Ragnar could legally kill him and suffer no consequence.
*** Every man sworn to a chief is required to attend an assembly (Thing) where cases are heard so they can expect jury duty. "Every man" includes what we'd call minors today.
** The cultural divide between the English and the Norse.
** The Vikings see being sacrificed to the gods as a great honour and a sacred duty.
** The Vikings' casual attitude towards death may be unnerving to some modern viewers, but it was fairly natural given their religious and cultural outlook.
** Ragnar suggests practicing polygamy. He states, "I have heard of such arrangements," then follows up by asserting, "In fact, it's quite common!" However, his family's horrified reaction, and the fact that he has to explain what he's proposing, suggest that the practice is not as common as he claims. [[spoiler:Lagertha effectively divorces him to prevent the "arrangement" from going forward]].
** The blood eagle is a method of executing someone who you feel has severely wronged you and involves your back being cut open, your ribs being shattered, and your lungs being ripped out the back and placed on your shoulders. If you endure it without screaming, it's considered such a brave act that you go to Valhalla, even though you weren't killed in battle
* DesignatedGirlFight: Lagertha is sent to fight [[spoiler: Horik's wife, a fellow shieldmaiden]].
* DidTheyOrDidntthey: It's never made clear if Thyri and Athelstan had sex at Uppsala. Althrough their interactions are quite suggestive, it's never made clear if they actually did anything.
* DifficultySpike: While the Vikings outfight and outwit the Northumbrians fairly easily, they find themselves significantly more challenged by the forces of Wessex. They can still outfight them easily, but outwitting them is the problem, and the West Saxons don't fight fair, either.
* DiscOneFinalBoss: [[spoiler:Earl Haraldson is defeated midway through the first season]].
* DoomedHometown: Athelstan was a monk in the monastery of Lindisfarne, and its destruction at the hands of the Northmen marks the beginning of his character arc.
* TheDragon: Svein is Earl Haraldson's chief minion.
* DragonTheirFeet: Svein can do nothing more than watch his Earl get killed in the duel. Rollo then buries an axe in his chest.
* DuelToTheDeath: Ragnar challenges the Earl to a duel, which is held Viking-style.
* DueToTheDead:
** Earl Haraldson orders that the body of an executed man be fed to the pigs. Ragnar disapproves since the condemned man did not deserve such a dishonor.
** After some of his men are killed in battle, Ragnar and the other Vikings take the time to bury them properly and even have a LibationForTheDead over their graves.
** Inverted with the murders of Earl Haraldson's sons. The killers dishonored them and their father by burying them with their severed heads kissing their buttocks. They were also buried in a shallow grave so animals could get to the bodies.
** The funeral of Earl Haraldson is a major affair with a lot of drinking, fighting and ends in a VikingFuneral and a HumanSacrifice of a female slave to join her master in the afterlife.
* ElephantInTheLivingRoom: After the Norse make a reference to Ragnarök, Athelstan asks what it is, resulting in awkward silence until he changes the subject. He eventually wears them down.
* EstablishingCharacterMoment:
** Ragnar and Rollo make short work of several hostile tribesmen in the Eastern Baltic.
** Lagertha fights off two rapists single-handedly.
** Earl Haraldson arbitrates a dispute unjustly due to being personally invested in the case.
** King Horik sneaks incognito into the Uppsala temple to play a prank.
* EveryoneCallsHimBarKeep: The village seer is referred to only as "the seer."
* EvilUncle: King Horik's six uncles killed his father, mother, and siblings. He won his throne by challenging and then killing them one by one.
* EyeScream: Lagertha delivers a swift one to her abusive husband Sigvard with a carving knife. [[OffhandBackhand Without even looking.]]
* FaceDeathWithDignity: [[spoiler:Jarl Borg doesn't resist or make a scene when he's executed. He also doesn't cry out during the blood eagle, which ensures his place in Valhalla]].
* FaceHeelTurn:
** King Horik is initially an ally of Ragnar, than a [[TeethClenchedTeamwork teeth-clenched teammate]], then an outright enemy.
** [[spoiler:Subverted by Floki, who pretends to betray Ragnar to Horik but is actually plotting with Ragnar against Horik]].
* FishOutOfWater: Athelstan, an English monk among pagan Vikings. He takes to their ways with slow, yet growing aplomb.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Early in Season 2, a throwaway has Floki admitting that he cannot keep a secret. [[spoiler:We later see him plotting with Horik behind Ragnar's back, but later find out that he was reporting everything back to Ragnar]].
* FragileSpeedster: Floki's armament is notably lighter than the other Viking warriors. He eschews larger weapons and shields for a small axe and dagger combo, wearing no armor.
* FreezeFrameBonus: During the opening credits, when the thunder rolls you can briefly see a figure standing on a field. This is a single frame of [[TheGrimReaper Hel]] herself
* TheFundamentalist: Floki is the most religious of Ragnar's group. He's the only one to criticize Rollo for going through a baptism and is the first to try to volunteer for human sacrifice. He often bullies Athelstan for his Christian background and proclaims that the Norse should celebrate when Athelstan is believed dead.
* GlasgowGrin: Rollo gets one courtesy of Haraldson's torture.
* GodIsGood: Discussed between Athelstan and Ragnar. As a faithful priest, Athelstan believes He is good and Vikings are a punishment from Him for his people's sins. Ragnar says He is greedy (for stuffing the monastary with gold) and stupid (for not protecting that gold).
* GoodHairEvilHair: Many Vikings, including our hero Ragnar, have elaborate hairstyles that make them look like bikers or heavy metal rock stars, reminding us that these are badass Vikings.
* GoodPeopleHaveGoodSex: Ragnar and Lagertha, while being firm antiheroes, have a passionate and satisfying sex life. Meanwhile, it's implied that Earl Haraldson has grown impotent in his old age. In Season 2, Siggy rewards Rollo for being a better, more responsible person with sex.
* GoodShepherd: Athelstan takes his vocation seriously; his "greatest treasure" is an unadorned Bible, and he refuses to join a threesome with Ragnar and Lagertha because of his vow of celibacy. Ragnar is so impressed with his character he puts him in charge of the family farm while he's gone.
-->'''Ragnar:''' I do not think of him as a slave. He is a responsible person.
* GoingNative: Athelstan progressively becomes more Viking until he proves himself in battle and becomes Ragnar's thane.
* GreyAndGreyMorality: Ragnar is a murderous Viking raider, but he's protective of his people and family. His major enemies are equally ruthless.
* HappinessInSlavery: Downplayed; Athelstan is 'not interested' in escaping, but he'd rather be a free man. Of course, he's also well aware that he's incapable of fighting and far away from home in a strange land -- even if he were to escape, he realizes he doesn't really stand a chance at getting home.
* HeelFaceRevolvingDoor:
** Rollo, who is constantly torn between loyalty to Ragnar and bitterness at living in his brother's shadow.
** Jarl Borg also shifts between alliance and enmity with Ragnar more than once.
* HelmetsAreHardlyHeroic:
** Few of the Vikings wear helmets into battle, and those that we see don't have [[HornyVikings horns]]. Most Vikings in real life were too poor to own a helmet, but Ragnar's elite group passes up many opportunities to loot helmets and armor from their many foes.
** Most of the English soldiers wear helmets, revealing their status as {{mook}}s, while their armored commanders often go bareheaded.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: Rollo, Björn, King Aelle, Aethelwulf, Horik I, King Ecbert of Wessex, Kwenthrith, Princess Judith, Ivar the Boneless, and probably more to come. And that's not counting the semi-legendary figures.
* HistoricalInJoke:
** When Ragnar is recruiting followers, the Viking who is most vocally opposed to the idea of going to England is named "Knut." Ironically, a Danish prince [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cnut_the_Great also named Cnut]] would invade England and become its second Viking King (the first being his father, Svein Forkbeard's, brief reign) toward the end of the Viking Era.
** Depending on how this show pans out later, this can turn into a stellar example of {{Foreshadowing}}. Floki, in the first episode, jokes about how Bjorn looks like Ragnar and how he will try to do better than him to move out of the shadow of that, and then of how Ragnar will hate him for that. In the Norse saga, this is exactly what happened, and much of Ragnar's later actions were motivated by his fear that his sons would eclipse him in fame.
** Two of Ragnar's men, Eric and Leif, are father and son. They're named after the explorers Eric the Red and his more famous son Leif Ericsson who landed in North America. But they're not them since they live centuries too early and they die.
** Horik remarks on how he has heard of Christians in the eighth episode. Historically, Horik's predecessor had converted to Christianity, and Horik himself fiercely resisted attempts by Saint Ansgar of Hamburg-Bremen to proselytize the Danes.
** Rollo remarks in the same episode on how one day he will be a great man. Not only did he establish Normandy, but almost every European ruler can trace his decent to him. To date, only a few other individuals have contributed more to Europe than he has.
** Possible foreshadowing: Mark King Aelle's SnakePit because that's how Ragnar [[spoiler:dies]] in the sagas. Earlier, [[spoiler:Ragnar likened himself to a boar and his son to a piglet, which brings to mind his Famous Last Words: "How the little pigs would grunt if they knew how the old boar suffers!"]]
** Aslaug prophetizes her son Sigurd will have a snake in his eye, in homage to her father Sigurd, who fought and killed a giant snake and in punishment to Ragnar's arrogance. And then the baby's born with a deformed eyeball, that looks like a snake is piercing his Iris. In real life, historians are still theorizing why Sigurd was called "Sigurd Snake-In-The-Eye", as there is no concrete explanation for his nickname.
* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: The Queen of Mercia states that her brother Saint Kenelm raped her as a child. She killed him in revenge and became something of a sexual predator. According to legend, he was a holy boy killed by his sister for his inheritance. Historically, little is known of Kenelm, and his sister went into a nunnery.
* HollywoodTactics:
** When encountering a numerically superior force, Ragnar's Vikings step out to face them on an open beach rather than stay in the narrow choke point they started at. It doesn't matter, however, because the Saxon soldiers never even try to flank them.
** The Englishmen later seek out the Vikings but hold off on a surprise attack because the Vikings are "in too strong a position". The Englishmen are on a hill, Ragnar's men are on a flat and directly behind them is the Tyne, which would prevent any retreat. Seriously, what were you waiting for, the invention of gunpowder?!
* HolyRomanEmpire: It's mentioned that Athelstan spent time in Charlemagne's court before the fall of Lindisfarne.
* HonorBeforeReason: After Ragnar's sword breaks, the Earl lets Ragnar smash their shields to bits and then tosses his own sword away so that they can pause to re-arm themselves with axes. This might be due to the duel's ritualistic nature.
* HornyVikings: The main characters are Vikings, and their pillaging is largely influential to the plot. One horned helm is witnessed, but it has ceremonial use that is true to life.
* HumanSacrifice:
** A slave girl is sacrificed as part of a VikingFuneral. This element is present in Ahmed Ibn Fadlan's account of the Rus.
** Nine people are sacrificed by the Uppsala temple. The sacrifices must be willing and believers in the Norse gods.
* HumanShield: Ragnar uses himself as one of these to protect Athelstan from Horik's hidden archer in "The Choice". He knows that Horik will attempt to kill the priest as soon as he's out of sight, so Ragnar offers to escort Athelstan back to Ecbert's territory and physically shields him from any kind of attack.
* IAmXSonOfY: This is what Earl Haraldson's name is, but we never learn the X part of his name, so it's moot. The children are also referred to in this manner. For instance, lots of people call Bjorn, "son of Ragnar." This is TruthInTelevision as families didn't have a familial name -- what we would think of a last name was simply the name of their father plus a suffix of son or daughter. Individuals might have last names that were basically titles, but they did not function as family names.
* IcyBlueEyes: As the show poster suggests, Ragnar's icy, blue-eyed gaze is frequently lingered upon, and he shows no hesitation in killing.
* ImpaledPalm: Athelstan has this done to his hands and feet during crucifixion. The scars still pain him several months later, although writing and painting seems to have helped his dominant hand a bit.
* ImportantHaircut: After Athelstan is tempted to [[GoingNative go native]] with his new Viking owners, he shaves his stubbled tonsure to reaffirm his commitment to his monk lifestyle. As he becomes more invested in Norse culture, however, he gets increasingly hairy.
* InstantExpert: Ragnar asks Athelstan to teach him some English. When he arrives in England, he's proficient enough to hold fluent conversations with natives. The time between the two scenes is unclear, and we never see him practicing.
* InterplayOfSexAndViolence:
** Lagertha attacks her husband Ragnar to convince him that he should take her on a Viking voyage. He tries to use it as foreplay.
** Ragnar slashes his palm and smears blood everywhere while seeking out Aslaug's bedroom. His original intent was to kill her.
* ItsAllAboutMe: Aslaug, after Jarl Bork has taken over Kattegat, though she claims that it is about her children. Everyone in the village who could wield a weapon just died to secure her escape, but her main worry is that the hide-out Rollo finds for her is not up to her standards. The person who has to listen to her complains and reassure her is Siggy, who herself lost her sons, her first husband, her status, and finally her daughter. Later on Aslaug insists that Ragnar shouldn't ally himself with Jarl Borg again. Not because she considers it a bad move, or because of what he did to Kattegat, no, her main reason is that he insulted and humiliated her.
* JerkAss:
** Earl Haraldson is pompous, arrogant, and forces others to say what a great ruler he is.
** Earl Bjarni casually threatens to beat his wife if she doesn't get him some herrings.
* KangarooCourt: The first episode has the Earl hold court over a murder trial involving a land dispute. The Earl is obviously angry because he wanted the land for himself. Everyone votes against the man to placate the Earl. When Ragnar's son does not raise his hand, the Earl pointedly insists that the boy join with the rest.
* KickTheDog:
** Earl Haraldson curses a man who is about to be executed. Ragnar and his son disapprove.
** Rollo rapes a slave girl just before the voyage, foreshadowing his later conflicts with Ragnar.
** The Swedish Earl casually threatens to beat his new wife.
** Ragnar tries to maneuver Athelstan into getting sacrificed. Due to DeliberateValuesDissonance, however, it's left unclear whether Ragnar intended to honor Athelstan with sacrifice or to avoid losing one of his prized fighters.
* KingIncognito: King Horik sneaks into the Uppsala temple in peasant's garb to prank the priests there.
* KubrickStare: Ragnar's [[IcyBlueEyes icy blue]] gaze is often coupled with a Kubrik Stare for extra intensity.
* LadyMacBeth: Siggy serves this role for Earl Haraldson, though she doesn't support some of his more paranoid endeavors. When she shacks up with Rollo, it's not long before she's up to her old tricks.
* LastNameBasis: Earl Haraldson's first name is not revealed, which is strange considering that "Haraldson" is a patronymic, not a surname, so he should be called "Earl [First Name]."
* ALighterShadeOfGrey: Ragnar specifically is this compared to some of the other Vikings; He frequently shows mercy on enemies and the helpless. More than anything, the show presents his primary virtue as his forward-thinking attitude and thirst for knowledge.
* LovableRogue: Ragnar is a plunderer but he knows limits and is an affable guy.
* LuckilyMyShieldWillProtectMe: Vikings are often seen with their circular wooden shields. They hammer on them with their axes before battle. Most battles involve shield wall tactics.
* MadeASlave: This happens to Athelstan and the monks of Lindisfarne that were spared during the raid.
* MadeOfIron: Invoked when Ragnar gives Bjorn the nickname "Ironside" due to the fact that during a battle Bjorn was in the thick of fighting and did not suffer any wounds.
* MagicRealism:
** Ragnar has a vision of Odin and valkyries after a battle in the first scene of the show and more throughout the series. It's deliberately left unclear whether they are supernatural visions or if he's just hallucinating.
** Aslaug's prediction about Sigurd's eye.
** When Athelstan sees blood poring from an illustrated Jesus's stigmata.
** The series as a whole makes a point of the fact that the characters subscribe to the notions of divine predetermination and fate, so the things that happen to them are to a certain extent preternatural to them. This adds to an epic, mystical feeling that calls back to the Eddas that inspired the show.
* MamaBear: Lagertha threatens to [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_eagle rip out Athelstan's lungs]] if harm comes to her children while he looks after them. And then, after being informed of Horik's intent to kill Bjorn and his young brothers in the Season 2 finale, she is absolutely vicious in her attack against Horik's wife and his soldiers, killing anyone connected to the king or who may have been involved in the plot.
* ManipulativeBastard: Earl Haraldson ''tries'', though he is often stymied by his pessimistic assumptions that all men are as greedy and underhanded as he is.
* MauveShirt: Erik Marteinn, who looked set to be The Big Guy in Ragnar's team, gets killed in Episode 4.
* MeaningfulName: It is noted that Floki has a name that sounds like Loki. He resembles the trickster god's role in many ways: a close ally to the hero on his travels, as Loki is to Thor (Ragnar, in this case); not a muscular warrior, but his intelligence is of great help (Floki builds their ship and imparts important advice to Ragnar); frequently causes mischief and trouble (needlessly burning down the monastery, causing a battle by ripping a crucifix off a soldier). In Season 2, he openly associates himself with Loki and names his daughter after Loki's first wife.
* TheMillstone: Horik becomes this to Ragnar. He goes back on a deal with Jarl Borg which jeopardizes their upcoming raid and involves Ragnar in a pointless and costly feud with Borg. He sabotages Ragnar's negotiations with King Ecbert and then leads the Viking force into a trap. At first he is motivated by RevengeBeforeReason but by the end of Season 2 he is actively conspiring against Ragnar.
* MushroomSamba:
** Athelstan seems to hallucinate when the details of Ragnarök are told to him. It might have something to do with what they put in the fire to make it smoke.
** Ragnar's group eats mushrooms at the Uppsala temple. We see some of Athelstan's trip from his perspective. Humrously enough, the mushrooms themself look suspiciously like chanterelles, and not fly agaric, the only psychoactive (and very poisonous) mushroom of Scandinavia.
* NeverLearnedToRead: All of the Vikings, which is TruthInTelevision since RealLife Vikings were illiterate and unable to record their own history, especially in the earlier years of paganism. The only main character who can read or write is Athelstan, but he's also a very well-educated Anglo-Saxon monk from Christian England, not pagan Scandinavia like the Norsemen.
* NoKillLikeOverkill: [[spoiler:Ragnar has Horik stabbed repeatedly before delivering a deathblow himself and then pummeling his corpse with head-butts and nearby objects]].
* NotSoDifferent: "Sometimes your God sounds like one of our gods."
* OminousLatinChanting: Norse chanting, in this case. During the second Viking raid, a song by {{Music/Wardruna}} is played using authentic Viking-age instruments. It features men and women chanting quotes from the rune poems in Old Norse about how wealth is the joy and source of discord among men and the path of the serpent. This chanting becomes more and more common as Season 2 progresses.
* {{Omniglot}}: One of Athelstan's most valuable traits, both to the Vikings and King Ecbert. Thus far, it's been shown that he's either fluent or semi-fluent in reading, writing, and speaking Old English, Old Norse, Latin, Greek, High German, and possibly several other dialects and languages native to the main continent.
* OneSteveLimit: King Aelle's brother and King Ecbert son are both named Aethelwulf. However the former only appears briefly in Season 1, whereas the latter appears throughout Season 2.
* OnlyAFleshWound: Ragnar receives multiple wounds in the fight against Earl Haraldson's men but keeps on fighting without much loss of competence. Then the fighting ends as the blood loss almost kills him. The wounds are severe enough that it takes him months to recover. Presumably, he is badass enough to ignore the wounds during the fight on pure adrenaline.
* OutDamnedSpot: Athelstan guiltily leafs through the Bible of a monk he's killed and hallucinates that an illustrated Jesus bleeds real blood. The blood oozes onto Athelstan's hands, causing him to frantically wipe at them, but the blood has disappeared.
* PetTheDog:
** Rollo. After all his previous Kick The Dog moments, in the fourth episode Rollo is seen giving a sick, old Englishman water instead of killing him (he then steals the cup and pitcher, however) and testifying on behalf of his brother in court, when he could have betrayed him for treasure and a good marriage.
** Ragnar hides a child from his own men during a raid.
** Aslaug frees one of her slaves so that her step-son Bjorn can woo her. It's one of the rare times that Aslaug has an opportunity to do something selfless.
* ProudWarriorRaceGuy: All of the Vikings. Their idea of paradise is fighting all day and feasting all night.
* RatedMForManly: It's a show about Vikings based off Old Norse poetry and legendary sagas.
* RapeIsASpecialKindOfEvil: Rape is always used as a KickTheDog moment for characters, but Norse culture is ambivalent about it. Rollo rapes a slave girl and is teased as a villain. Knut's attempted rape of a free Norse woman is played as a clear indication of villainy. Our hero Ragnar's only mention of rape is to condemn its use against his wife.
* RapePillageAndBurn: The Vikings' original intention in England is to simply loot it for wealth before returning home. The more broad-minded Ragnar realizes there's more wealth in its fertile soil and wants to colonize it instead.
* RealMenWearPink: Floki and the shamans of Uppsala wears [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kohl_(cosmetics) Kohl]] eye makeup.
* RealSongThemeTune: "If I Had a Heart" by Fever Ray.
* RedHerring: [[spoiler:Floki griping about Ragnar to Helga gives credence to his apparent betrayal of Ragnar, but his betrayal was a ruse]].
* RiteOfPassage:
** In the first episode, Ragnar's son has become old enough to attend and vote in a Thing. He also pledges fealty to the Earl and receives ceremonial rings.
** Athelstan earns the right to call himself a thane after displaying bravery in battle.
* RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething:
** King Horik fights on the front lines with his men.
** King Aelle and King Ecbert are both active in the defense of their realms.
** [[spoiler: As of the Season 2 finale, King Ragnar.]]
* RuleOfSymbolism: See that funny V symbol? It incorporates the Valknut, the stripes on a longship's sail and the symbol of Yggdrasil and the blade of a sword to fully encompass the beliefs and traditions of the Norse as a people.
* SayYourPrayers:
** King Aelle's brother does this while Ragnar and his men attack his camp, rather than try to rally his soldiers or resist the massacre.
** Also done by the priests of Lindisfarne when the Vikings invade. This leads to their undoing, as the sound of their prayers causes the Vikings to find their hiding place.
** In the Season 2 finale, the waterfall scene of Ragnar and Athelstan praying together foreshadows and intermeshes with [[spoiler: Horik's invasion of Kattegut. In this particular case, the prayer works.]]
* SceneryPorn: Viking Age Scandinavia is so pretty...
** There are those sweeping scenery shots in Episode 8, and also the shot of the temple of Uppsala sitting majestically on a hill. Inaccurate in that Uppsala is flat-land, but ''damn'', it looks gorgeous.
** The shot of the mountains when Athelstan is first brought to Kattegat. So feral, so untamed, so ''glorious''.
** Each of the waterfall backdrops in the Season 2 finale are absolutely beautiful.
* SecretTestOfCharacter: Earl Haraldson offers his wife to one of his spies. The man accepts, so the Earl has him executed. It's presented as an example of the Earl's villainous paranoia.
* SexyPriest: Athelstan has quite a few admirers in the fanbase. And some on the show now, too.
* ShoutOut: It's possible that the Anglo-Saxons' belief that the Romans were a race of giants is one to the ''TheSaxonStories''.
* ShownTheirWork: One of the problems the show's creators faced when making this was that there are just so few sources that accurately represent the Norse. After all, like the Mongols, their history was written primarily by the people they beat the shit out of. So, the showrunners had to rely primarily on Scandinavian sagas to paint a somewhat factual representation of them. Even so, this show has gotten a lot of things right in regards to history:
** Norse dress and appearance is represented mostly accurately.
** Ragnar is shown waiting until villagers are at Mass before raiding a Christian settlement. This was indeed the favoured tactic of Ragnar Lodbrok, according to the sagas.
** The duel between Haraldson and Ragnar, a holmgang, is very accurately represented. Down to Svein's formal recitation of the rules of the duel, and the two parties meeting on a pre-specified plot of land. Even the shields are right, with both men having helpers who give them their shield replacements. The back-up weapon rule is also historically accurate. Historically, early holmgangs did indeed end with death. Though later on, first blood and other such measures were implemented to curb that. The only thing that seems to be missing is that a sheet was supposed to be placed on the ground to mark the area, and four posts were to be placed at each corner of the sheet.
** Floki's shipbuilding lecture in the first episode is legit.
** The description of the Uppsala temple is taken directly from Adam of Bremen, althrough that source has been questioned as Adam of Bremen never went there himself. The temple, or a building used for religious cermonies, was probably real but we will probably never know if it look like that.
** Way back in the first episode, Ragnar tells Bjorn the story of how he won Lagertha's hand in marriage -- by killing an enormous bear with his spear and strangling a giant hound, the animals who guarded her home. This is taken word for word from the ''Literature/GestaDanorum'' as penned by Saxo Grammaticus.
** In one episode, the Vikings land in England and are mistaken as traders by an official, who they then murder when he attempts to lead them to the Royal Villa of the King so that they may pay a trading tax upon their goods. ''This entire sequence actually happened according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.''
** The practice of a heathen converting to Christianity in order to seal a deal when the Vikings dealt with the Saxons is one that appears in many historical instances. For instance, to seal the Peace of Wedmore, the Viking Guthrum was baptized into Christianity with the Anglo-Saxon name of Athelstan and accepted King Alfred the Great as his adoptive father. The Vikings treating the baptism in a non-serious manner as seen in the show also has some basis in historical fact; the conversions were commonly seen as merely a legal binding, and often did little to reduce the Viking's hold on the areas they conquered in England.
** Ragnar accurately and beautifully quotes the ''Runatal'', the story of how Odin found the runes by sacrificing himself with his own spear on Yggdrasil.
** Rollo's tattoos seem to be representations of Sköll and Hati, the sons of Fenrir Hrodvitnir.
** Rollo's war chant in one of the first battles against the English is closely based on a death poem by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%9E%C3%B3rir_J%C3%B6kull_Steinfinnsson Ţórir Jökull Steinfinnsson]] (though he lived [[ArtisticLicenseHistory some centuries after]] the events of the show.)
** Ecbert's desire to become ruler of all England is grounded in reality, as Ecbert made numerous overtures to conquer neighbouring Saxon kingdoms, and actually succeeded in adding Mercia and other places to his domain.
** There are frequently scenes in which characters are quoting Scandinavian lore. For example, when Lagertha or Aslaug tell bedtime stories, or the seer is trying to make a point clear.
** The runes Floki carves are accurately depicted.
** [[http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/wedding.shtml Floki retrieving a sword from his deceased forebear (his father, in this case) for use in his wedding ceremony is true to history.]]
** The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bl%C3%B3t blót]] that Ragnar and company attend in 1x08 is portrayed accurately, almost adapted word-for-word from blóts described as taking place in UsefulNotes/{{Sweden}}, like in the Gutasaga or Adam of Bremen's account of Uppsala.
* SlapSlapKiss: Ragnar's favourite type of sex with Lagertha seems to be make-up sex.
* TheScourgeOfGod: The Church and some nobles of the kingdom of Northumbria believe the Vikings have been sent by God to punish the Saxons for their sins. Other nobles, however, believe that they might have been instead sent by Satan. [[TakeAThirdOption And yet others have this crazy notion that they're just savage men come to plunder on their own whims, with no supernatural origin.]]
* ShutUpHannibal: In the second season, Jarl Borg tries again to seduce Rollo into treachery, but Rollo simply punches him in the face.
* SiblingRivalry: Ragnar and Rollo.
* TheSmartGuy:
** Floki, the shipbuilder, who designs a state-of-the-art boat that can make the trip to England. He also turns out to have a fair bit of medical knowledge. He's still a Viking, however, so he's more interested in seeing how parchment burns than studying its detailed drawings.
** Athelstan is probably the most well-educated character on the show. Unlike the Vikings, he can read and write multiple languages as well as speak them, spent time in Charlemagne's court, and displays a great deal of knowledge on cultures and religions outside of his own. By the time of Athelstan's capture in Wessex, he has also become the foremost expert of Saxon blood on the Norsemen, their culture, and paganism in general. And while living there, he also acquires knowledge of Roman battle tactics for good measures.
* SmartPeoplePlayChess: King Horik and Ragnar play [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hnefatafl Hnefatafl]] while discussing future plans.
* SnakePit: King Aelle uses a pit of venomous snakes to execute capital punishment.
* SomewhereAHerpetologistIsCrying: King Aelle's pit of venomous snakes is actually filled with non-venomous and non-indigenous pythons. Of course, this is probably intentional since how many actors would be willing to handle unpredictable, bad-tempered, and very venomous snakes just for the sake of realism and a single scene? Yeah, [[SarcasmMode not many...]]
* StealthPun: Given how many [[DeliberateValuesDissonance people wouldn't recognize it]]. When Ragnar says "when the little pig teaches the boar how to listen," he wasn't calling himself a pervert. The boar is the symbol of the fertility God Frey. Given the scene right before the quote is said, he's saying he's still horny, thus why Lagertha shoves him.
* StockholmSyndrome: Athelstan's respect and affection for Ragnar's family grows over time in spite of the fact that Ragnar violently enslaved him. However, part of the reason Athelstan sticks around is because Ragnar treats him well and he has nowhere else to go.
** By the middle and end of Season 2, Athelstan is a free man and it's firmly established that Ragnar and his family care just as much for Athelstan as he does for them. Bjorn even admits that him and Gyda grew to love Athelstan as children, and both Ragnar and Lagertha are ecstatic to learn that Athelstan is alive. When given a choice between staying in his native England or returning to Kattegut with the Vikings, Athelstan chooses the latter because ''they'' are his family.
* TelevisionGeography: The animated SceneryPorn EstablishingShot of Uppsala displays the settlement on a mountain. RealLife Uppsala is located on a plain, the only nearby elevations being some burial mounds; appropriately from the Viking Age.
* AThreesomeIsHot:
** Norsemen seem curiously fond of double-teaming their women. Ragnar and Lagertha invite Athelstan to join them in bed. Later, Floki invites another of Ragnar's raiders to bed with him and Helga. Jarl Borg recalls sharing women with his brother.
** Ragnar tries to get Lagertha to agree to a three-way marriage arrangement with Aslaug, but gets soundly rejected before he can even hint at a threesome. A scene in Season 2 showing Ragnar waking up next to a naked Aslaug and Lagertha would have implied some ThreeWaySex, but it was deleted.
* TimeshiftedActor: In Season 1, Ragnar's son Bjorn was played by Nathan O'Toole but will also be played by older actor Alexander Ludwig in Season 2.
* TimeSkip: Four years passes between Episodes 1 and 2 of the second season. There are also shorter time skips several times throughout the series, so each season spans about a year or two.
* ToBeLawfulOrGood; By law, Ragnar must obey Earl Haraldson and sail east to RapePillageAndBurn. However, he believes that he should do the right thing and sail west to RapePillageAndBurn. He goes to a seer for advice on what to do and the seer tells him that if he can gain the favour of the gods, they will override the laws for him. Ragnar seems to interpret this to mean that if he is highly successful in his endeavor, the Earl will not be able to successfully punish him for disobedience.
* TokenEvilTeammate: Rollo is teased as this. He supports and follows Ragnar, but he's a rapist, hits on his brother's wife (even after she rebuffs him multiple times), and resents Ragnar's successes. His most redeeming quality is his UndyingLoyalty through multiple opportunities to betray Ragnar. He succumbs when Jarl Borg subverts him to his cause, but Rollo can't bear to fight his brother, and so throws down his weapon before him. He then willingly submits to justice and shows true remorse over his actions. In other words, this trope is subverted.
* TokenGoodTeammate: Athelstan is the only completely moral, kind, and non-murderous hero, though he's also the most naďve. He even shows respect and great interest in the Norsemen's religion despite being a devout Catholic priest. As he immerses himself in their way of living however, his virtue begins to dim as he finds himself torn between the humble Christian scholar and the savage Viking raider.
-->'''Lagertha''': Then you are still innocent. It does not seem to matter how many experiences you have, Athelstan. In the end, you are still like the young monk I first met.
* TooDumbToLive: King Aelle's brother. At first he seems competent enough, refusing to fight the norsemen where they have the advantage, but then he fails to put sentries around his camp; when the Vikings attack that night, Aelle's brother starts praying instead of going out to fight, and by the time he's done his entire force has been defeated.
* TooGoodForThisSinfulEarth: Gyda, Ragnar's only daughter, died when the plague hits Kattegat.
* TookALevelInBadass: Athelstan in the second season is brave and combat-trained enough to prove himself in battle and is accepted as a thane.
* TranslationConvention: Norse and Old English are usually presented in modern English. When Vikings meet Englishmen, one or both languages may be subtitled.
* TriangRelations:
** Rollo is this to both Ragnar and his wife, Lagertha, as well is the Earl and his wife.
** Ragnar has this with Lagertha and Aslaug.
* UglyGuyHotWife: Haraldson's beautiful young daughter is married to an old and ugly Swedish Earl. Until she annuls it with a stabbing.
* UndignifiedDeath: Earl Haraldson's sons are brutally murdered their heads cut off and set against their backside, and left in a shallow grave as a sign of disrespect for their father.
* UnspokenPlanGuarantee: Ragnar tends to keep his plans from others and the viewer, and most of his plans succeed.
** His plan to [[spoiler:betray Jarl Borg goes off without a hitch. Up until the betrayal springs, it's not clear what Ragnar is plotting]].
** Averted with [[spoiler:his plan to have Athelstan sacrificed. Athelstan proclaims his Christianity at the last moment, precluding him from sacrifice. One of Ragnar's strongest warriors volunteers instead]].
** His plans to [[spoiler:betray Jarl Borg and King Horik are both sprung before the viewer becomes aware of them]].
* WarriorPoet: Rollo chants a poem on the inevitability of death to lend courage and resolve to his shield-brothers during a battle with the Saxons. Ragnar quotes the Rúnatal -- the story of how Odin won the runes as given in the Hávamál. Historically, the Norse viewed poems and sagas to be very manly.
* ViewersAreGeniuses: The second teaser trailer places the characters under the world tree Yggdrasil and is so full of references to Norse Mythology that one could make a competition out of naming the most. Ragnar is Odin, Aslaug is Freyja, Lagertha is a valkyrie, Athelstan is Tyr, King Ecbert is Fenrir, King Horik is Jörmungandr, Floki is Heimdal, Siggy is Sigyn, and Rollo is Loki. The red rooster is Fjalar and the deer is Dain. The tattoo on Rollo's left arm is of Sköll, the son of Fenrir that chases the sun. Sköll means "''Treachery''".
* VikingFuneral: Episode 6 has an example, taken almost entirely out of Ahmed Ibn Fadlan's account of the Rus.
* TheWatson: As an outsider, Athelstan receives a lot of exposition about Norse society and culture.
* WeCanRuleTogether: The Earl offers to make Rollo his son-in-law and thus presumed heir in exchange for Rollo testifying against Ragnar at trial. Rollo is certainly tempted to take the offer but in the end supports Ragnar.
* WhamEpisode: The show was going fairly smoothly with the tension slowly rising... until "Raid": Earl Haraldson burns down Ragnar's farm and drives him into hiding, captures and tortures Rollo, and marries his daughter off to a Swedish Earl. A good five or six months go by while the characters heal from the damage.
* WhatBeautifulEyes: Ragnar.
* WhatTheHellHero: Floki criticizes Rollo for allowing himself to be baptized by Christians, regardless of the fact that Rollo does it only as a ruse.
* WomenAreDelicate: Of the women attending the blood eagle, all of the women except Lagertha, the shieldmaiden, either turn away or faint.
* WorldOfBadass: It's a show about Vikings!
* WorthyOpponent: Earl Haraldson reveals that he likes Ragnar and that Ragnar is not much different from how the Earl was in his youth. However, due to Viking politics, the Earl cannot allow Ragnar to succeed since it would erode the Earl's power base and he cannot trust Ragnar not to try to usurp him. Ragnar sees Haraldson in a similar manner.
* WouldHitAGirl: Most Viking raiders rape whatever Englishwomen they can find. Lagertha's second husband abuses her, to his peril.
* WouldntHitAGirl: We never see Ragnar abuse any women, in contrast to many other Vikings. He spares Siggy's life and says nothing when Rollo marries her and Lagertha allows her into his household. When he discovers an English girl hiding from his raiders, he helps conceal her from them. In the finale of Season 1, he seems to consider it briefly when he goes to Aslaug's sleeping quarter with a knife, but leaves her unharmed in the end.
* WouldHurtAChild:
** Earl Haraldson has Svein kill a 13-year-old boy so as to protect the Earl's treasures in the afterlife.
-->'''Haraldson''': You've seen enough of this life, boy.
** [[spoiler:Ragnar has Horik's entire family killed, including his many young daughters]].
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-->''"Each must die someday."''
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