"Odin gave his eye to acquire knowledge. But I would give far more."
A Father to His Men: Men are willing to join his crew because Ragnar treats his warband as equals. He maintains this approach as Earl. Though this is less 'father' and more like 'friend'. Vikings are fiercely independent and look to their own, after all.
(after helping him stand) Leif, you are my friend. And you Torstein, and you Arn, you are my friends.
A Threesome is Manly: He and Lagertha invite Athelstan to join them in bed. It's unclear if Ragnar intended to have any sexual contact with Athelstan himself- he doesn't make any personal advances, rather, he uses Lagertha to tempt the monk.
Athelstan: I-I've taken a vow of celibacy... I cannot touch a woman.. I-I never have...
Ragnar: Wouldn't you like to?
Armour Piercing Question: To Athelstan, when he talks about how Christians give their wealth to the Church to save their souls; "what are their souls?".
Badass: This man was the terror of mainland Europe, the fear of Saxon, Frank and countless others. The French feared him so that they would rather pay him several tonnes of gold and silver than risk his wrath. In many historical sources, from the saga of Ragnar Lothbrok, and the Gesta Danorum to the Anglo-Saxon chronicle, his name is feared and admired in grand and equal measure. One way the show succeeds historically is by coming close to giving some justice to his badassery, no small feat to say the least.
Ambadassador: He acts as King Horik I's emissary to Jarl Borg in episode 9. Apparently the latest in a long line. But as soon as Borg realizes who it is exactly Horik has sent this time, he instantly becomes more receptive.
Four-Star Badass: He utterly annihilates any enemy force sent against him. Almost always when he and his warriors are completely outnumbered. Half of this is due to his good tactical mind, and the other half is down to the inherent badassery of Vikings.
Big Brother Instinct: Inverted, he's the little brother. While Ragnar was going to kill Haraldson for Eric's murder, the thing that drove him to go out and face him in single combat before his wounds were healed and while he was still crippled was the knowledge that Haraldson was torturing Rollo.
Blood Knight: Less so than Rollo, but one can tell he enjoys raids for more than plunder.
Deadpan Snarker: He doesn't waste words, but he still has his moments of acerbic wit.
Ragnar: (after Rollo suggests they attack the Saxons) Attack, attack, attack. That's all he ever says.
Determinator: Sails west despite all the odds against him, succeeds in raiding the Christian west, slaughters his way through more than half a dozen men and powers on despite having suffered wounds that might have killed a lesser man many times over, and then defeats a mighty Earl in single combat despite needing a cane to walk. Well, he couldn't have pulled that off without being persistent, could he?
Doting Parent: To his son and daughter. One of his few unambiguously good traits.
Dual Wielding: When King Aelle sends his army against Ragnar's warband, Ragnar forgoes his shield and instead wields a longsword in one hand an an axe in the other, to deadly effect.
Duel to the Death: His personal combat with Haraldson, it's actually an extremely detailed and accurate depiction of a holmgang.
Establishing Character Moment: Destroying several Latvian warriors in rapid succession despite his broken weapon in the show's first episode, to drive home what a badass he is.
The Fatalist: Ragnar embodies the ideal of a religious Norseman, part of that is his complete submission to the will of the gods and his acceptance of how his life is fated by the Norns.
Lagertha: Never fight unless you know the odds are in your favour. That is our way...
Ragnar: Who sets the odds? Our fates are already decided.
Lagertha: You don't believe that... and neither do I...
Ragnar: You are wrong. I do believe it.
Faux Affably Evil: Or perhaps Faux Affably Morally Ambigous given the Grey and Grey Morality of this show; but when Ragnar's acting seemingly nice to anyone whose not a fellow Northman, it's usually because he's just fucking around. This exchange with a terrified Saxon prisoner which ended with him ordering his head cut off illustrates it pretty well:
Ragnar: (offers the Saxon a goblet of wine) Go on, drink.
Saxon: (does so nervously)
Ragnar: You took us to the town, as you promised. For that, I thank you... You want to live, don't you?
Saxon: (nods frantically)
Ragnar: Hehe... No.
Genius Bruiser: In addition to being an unstoppable warrior, he was intelligent enough to trick Haraldsson into allowing him to take Athelstan as a thrall, which allowed him to gain vital information on the 4 kingdoms of England, as well as its customs (particularly the tradition of Mass, which allowed him to easily plunder a village in the fourth episode). He was also good enough at persuasion to get Haraldsson to officially sanction later raids to England. In addition to that, he was also able to become functionally bi-lingual in an astonishingly small amount of time, and has become quite fluent in Old English. There's also his detailed understanding of the sunboard and sunstone, which allowed him to navigate the open seas.
Could be a result of how he venerates Odin, who is is not only the god of war and fury and patron of Berserkers and other warriors, but was also a clever trickster.
Genre Savvy: Exhibited in the reason why he keeps Athelstan as a slave instead of taking a valuable treasure when Haraldson confiscates his hoard - Athelstan is a long term investment, and the only source of intelligence he has on England; which he uses to earn back that hoard several times over. He's also more likely to give his opponent the initiative to see what they do and then plan around that. In a meta-sense he becomes genre-savy about christian life, thanks to Athelstan.
Glory Seeker: Everything he does is ultimately for the sake of glory. It's worth noting that this was very, very important in medieval Norse society.
Good Parents: To both his children, but visibly dotes on his son; Bjorn.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: He has scars on his face, and on the bridge of his nose. He also has several large gashes on his body.
Guile Hero: Has shades of this, tricking the Earl into giving him Athelstan as a slave, tricking Athelstan into telling him of England and other lands to the west ripe for plunder.
Heroic Lineage: Much like his historical counterpart, Ragnar believes himself to be a son of Odin. Later on, he asks him for aid, he gets it and promptly goes on to slaughter several enemies, so there may be some truth to it.
Historically, Ragnar Lodbrok and his father Sigurd claimed their descent from Odin by claiming to be descended from the legendary Ynglinga tribe. In of itself, a greatly heroic lineage.
I'm a Man, I Can't Help It: His justification for sleeping with Aslaug. Word for word, this is what he says when Bjorn calls him out on it. He doesn't seem to think it comprises his relationship with his wife. Justified, in that fidelity to one's spouse (at least for men) is a mostly Abrahamic thing.
Bjorn: I hate you. It's disgusting.
Ragnar: I couldn't help myself.
Bjorn: And what of Lagertha? Your wife? Should I tell her of this?
Ragnar: If it pleases you.
Instant Expert: Becomes functionally bilingual impressively quickly. Justified as Old English and Old Norse are very similar languages, having both grown from the same source and being spoken by two people with the same cultural origin. Particularly, this is evident in how both languages share similar words, like the word for 'king'. So Ragnar becoming fluent in Old English would have actually been pretty easy.
Kick the Dog: After his warband vanquishes the Northumbrian force, he teases one of the prisoners with the possibility of him being spared. Ragnar laughs and has Rollo cut his head off. He later tries to manipulate Athelstan into becoming a human sacrifice.
Lightning Bruiser: While Ragnar isn't as big as some of the vikings, he's shown to be capable of out-muscling his larger brother, and demonstrates both remarkable speed and resilience in battle.
Licked by the Dog: One of the few indicators that Ragnar is more than a brutal warrior is how his wife and children adore him utterly.
Made of Iron: As evident in Raid, where he sustains immeasurable wounds from fighting through a dozen of Haraldson's men and barely breaks his stride. The only thing that seems to faze him is an arrow impaling itself through his shoulder. And then he just tears it out and goes back to cutting down multitudes of foes.
Mangst: He goes through this after Eric's untimely death. You get the feeling that the wood blocks he was chopping were supposed to be Haraldsson's head. He then goes one further and spends a whole day brooding on a mountaintop making oaths to his father Odin. Goes through it again after Lagertha miscarries.
Manipulative Bastard: Evident in how he tricks Haraldsson into letting him keep Athelstan as a slave, and in how he tricks Athelstan into telling him about England's customs and hierarchies as well as its language.
Later tries to manipulate Athelstan into being sacrificed. It doesn't pan out.
Morally Ambiguous Is Not Soft: Ragnar captures King Aelle's brother and holds him for ransom. Aelle agrees to pay, under several conditions, all of which Ragnar agrees to. Aelle ends up double crossing Ragnar, and Ragnar proceeds to kill Aelle's brother and send him the body to prove that he's not joking around.
Multi-Melee Master: Ragnar exhibits masterful command of swords, axes and spears. He often switches between weapons in the middle of combat with absolutely no loss of expertise.
Odd Friendship: With Athelstan; one does not expect a raider and a priest to get along so well, and much less so when they're from different countries and cultures.
One-Man Army: In his first appearance, he takes down three Baltic tribesmen at the same time. In episode 5, he tears through maybe a dozen of the Earl's men in total without breaking his stride.
Proud Warrior Race Guy: Like the rest of the cast he is a Viking. Unlike the rest of the cast, he believes himself to be Thor's brother.
Papa Wolf: He fights through everything Haraldson throws at him in order to save his family.
Psychotic Smirk: Used as a form of psychological warfare. Particularly when negotiating with the Saxons. It works well.
There's also that approving smile after the giant battle at the end of A King's Ransom when he watches Rollo slaughter the remaining Christians.
Rags to Riches: From poor raider to Earl of his tribe. Arguably averted; as a farmer, Ragnar was actually considered upper-middle class by the standards of his society. Then again, his society was dirt poor and aware of that fact.
Rated M for Manly: He's a Viking, and not just any Viking, one of the most significant Vikings in Scandinavian history.
Real Men Love Odin: He identifies closely with Odin in his aspect as the god of wisdom and in how he represents the curiosity and thirst for knowledge that resides in men. It's worth noting that there's an element of ancestor worship in this since Ragnar believes Odin to be his father.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Blue to Rollo's red. And also the blue to Lagertha's red. On the other hand, he's also the red to Haraldsson's blue.
Self-Made Man: He was a poor raider (an admittedly respected one) who by dint of determination and cunning manages to raid West and amass riches and wealth undreamed of, and who, by the same virtues, rises to the position of Earl.
Stepford Smiler: Most evident in his talk with Athelstan shortly before the Earl raids their village. Athelstan knows that Ragnar is 'preparing himself' and has much on his head, but Ragnar pretends that nothing is going on until he is directly pressed.
Tranquil Fury: The sheer outrage when he hears of Rollo's torture at Haraldson's hand is like a cold spear of burning rage.
There's also the markings that he and the Vikings make on their faces and beards before raiding the Lindisfarne monastery. And those were made with blood.
Warrior Earl: Of his Norseman tribe. Bonus points for winning that role in battle with the old jarl.
Warrior Poet: He recites the Runatal from the Havamal very epically in episode 9.
"Well Done, Son!" Guy: Discussed by Travis Fimmel in his character vignette, where he says that Ragnar sees every battle as a chance to prove himself further as a great warrior to his father Odin.
We Wait: Is more found of using this tactic when raiding than you'd expect for a Viking. When attacking Hexam, he waits and reigns in his men until Sunday when the Christians will be attending Church and thus leaving the town more vulnerable. Then, he waits to see what Lord Athelwulf does when trying to deal with them, and then plans his strategy around that decision, attaining victory and torching Athelwulf's camp while he sleeps and takes him prisoner.
Rollo: (referring to the Saxons) You see them up there?
Your Cheating Heart: It's complex. Has sex with Aslaug, and tells his son that he couldn't help it. In fairness to him, he also swears it won't happen again when he's pressed by him, and makes efforts to keep to that oath. Later on, Aslaug tells him that she's bearing his child; Ragnar's actively torn by guilt due to that and later goes to Aslaug's chambers seemingly with the intent to kill her. He changes his mind at the last minute when he confirms that she is pregnant.
Played by Katheryn Winnick
"You couldn't kill me if you tried for a hundred years."
Action Girl: How DARE you even THINK of going adventuring without me!
If any harm befalls my children, I will tear the lungs out of your body, priest.
Modest Royalty: Wears the same clothing she did before becoming an Earl's wife. At the very least, she was far less ostentatious than Siggy.
My Biological Clock Is Ticking: She dreads it, fearing that her marriage with Ragnar will die when it happens. She goes so far as to accept being rendered blind or deaf in return by the gods if they can keep her fertile.
"Frey, lord of lords, fill me with seed, give me a child. And then do whatever it is you want with me; make me deaf or blind if you want to. But please, give me a son before it's too late..."
Women Want Strong Men: Lagertha fell madly in love with Ragnar after she watched as he killed a bear with his spear and strangled a hound to death with his bare hands. This is taken almost word-for-word from the Gesta Danorum of Saxo Grammaticus.
Played by Nathan O'Toole (Season 1), and Alexander Ludwig (Season 2)
"I can't wait for the springs, or the raids!"
Adorably Precocious Child: For starters, he tries to keep his parents from fighting at one point. At another time, when Siggy tries to pledge her service to Lagertha, he's apprehensive and states that Earl Haraldson tried to kill his father. Lagertha uses the latter opportunity as a teaching experience. This combined with Troubling Unchild Like Behavior is meant to show how hard he's trying to become a real man by Norse standards. However, he's held back solely because he's 12.
Athelstan: My lady Lagertha, I would ask if you could take some time out to speak with the wife of the late Earl.
Lagertha: Of course. Hello Siggy, please, sit down and join us.
Bjorn: Wait! Earl Haraldson tried to kill my father.
Lagertha: I know. And if he had succeeded, I would be standing where Siggy is standing now. So, what would you like me to say to her?
A Real Man Is a Killer: Norse society adheres to this belief, and so Bjorn is eager for the chance to fight to prove his own manhood. But Ragnar's insistence to keep him safe for as long as he can keeps him from any opportunities, to his chagrin. It's also evident in how when he's asked what a man does, his first answer is 'he fights'. Ragnar approves, but nevertheless reminds him that they do more as well.
Ragnar: Are you ready to receive your arm-ring and become a man?
Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Deconstructed. By the standards and traditions of the Norse of this time period, Bjorn is legally a man and has received his arm-ring. Therefore, what he does; downing tankards of ale, thirsting for blood and battle, cheering at human sacrifices, is not troubling. Nor is it unchildlike because he's not a child. However, the show also shows reality ensuing when children try to become adults this soon. Bjorn has trouble drinking ale, and much of his bloodthirstiness is down to overcompensating because people don't treat him (or anyone at his age) really like an adult.
The Dutiful Son: Absolutely adores his father and Ragnar adores him in return. Also evident in how he refuses to leave Ragnar when the Earl surrounds their home.
Glory Seeker: Would absolutely love to join the raids west and become a great warrior like his father, but because he's a child, Ragnar keeps him back for his own safety. Much to his chagrin.
Bjorn: I can't wait for the spring, or the raids. I want to go to England!
Ragnar: *pauses for a moment* No...
Bjorn: What? Why?
Ragnar: Because I said so. Don't be so eager to put yourself in danger.
Bjorn: But you cannot alter my fate!
Ragnar: Heh. You sound like your uncle. When he doesn't know what to say.
Morality Chain: Seems to be this for Ragnar when he goes with the group to visit Jarl Borg especially when Ragnar sleeps with Aslaug. Ragnar then swears never to let it happen again, and his efforts indicate that this is more for Bjorn's sake than Lagertha's.
Rated M for Manly: Tries to meet Norse standards of masculinity, but is somewhat held back by being a kid.
Canon Foreigner: There's nothing to say that Ragnar didn't have any daughters, but she's the only one of Ragnar's family not to be named after someone from his actual family in history.
Doomed by Canon: She is the only one of Ragnar's family to die in the season finale. In fact, it's probably her lack of historical base that made her easy to kill off without disrupting canon.
Foreshadowing: Lagertha asks to hold Gyda one last time when Gyda announces she has her period, and Lagertha is unable to do so again because Gyda succumbs to the plague that sweeps the village.
The Heart: Of the family, she is the only one to be genuinely nice to Athelstan from the moment she meets him and everyone is a lot nicer to her than they are to each other. This makes it all the more heartbreaking when she dies in the Season One Finale.
Killed Off for Real: dies in the wave of the plague that sweeps through the village while her father is away.
All Periods Are PMS: Averted. She's as calm as she always is and goes to her mother when she starts bleeding, and she dies the episode after from something completely unrelated to her menstrual cycle.
Satellite Character: Other than to prove that Ragnar, Lagertha, and Bjorn are capable of showing affection without weapons or fighting, and that Athelstan has someone he gets along with in the family, she does nothing for the plot.
Sibling Yin-Yang: She and Bjorn have almost nothing in common in temperament, though they do share the same moral responsibility that slips from their parents every so often.
The Stoic: She's definitely the least hot-headed of Ragnar's home.
Audience Surrogate: He's the only non-antagonist character with a mindset and moral compass remotely similar to modern 21st century Western views, thus he is essentially the window by which we witness and learn about medieval Norse customs and culture.
Badass: Jumping into a river without a second thought and saving Ragnar's life earns him that title.
Celibate Hero: Being a monk,he has a vow of celibacy but he may have had sex in episode eight.
Christianity Is Catholic: Truth in Television for the time period. note In the late 8th century the Great Schism between Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches had yet to be formalised, and the Protestant Reformation won't be happening for a while.
Doomed Hometown: The monastery of Lindisfarne, as depicted, went down in history as the first recorded Viking raid on Western Europe.
Going Native: He comes pretty close to doing this in episode 8, adopting the Norse dress and hairstyle, taking part in a pagan festival, and even denying his Christianity. However, the realization that the Norsemen intend to sacrifice him jolts him out of it.
Good Shepherd: 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.
Downplayed. He doesn't have much interest in escaping, but would very much like to be a free man. Ragnar leaves it ambigous whether or not he's a slave. And he isn't really treated as one either, in fact, he's shown eating at Ragnar's table.
To a lesser extent, he had this in effect as a brother in his Church. But this was more like happiness in servitude.
"I remember very well how I served the father of my Church, and it did me no harm. In fact, in service I found a great freedom and honour. Once I accepted that I should forget about myself and serve Father Cuthbert, well, then I became happy."
Made a Slave: When his monastary is raided but is treated substantially better than most other examples.
Nice Guy: He's a monk for a religion based around love and forgiveness and is living with vikings.
Non-Action Guy: Put in charge of taking care of Ragnar and Lagertha's household despite having demonstrated no capacity for violence. He can still grip an axe when the need arises, and saves Ragnar from drowning at one point.
Security Blanket: A Bible that he saved from Lindesfarne is the only reminder that Athelstan has of his old life. He's understandably upset when it's destroyed.
Stockholm Syndrome: Appears to be falling into it, under Ragnar. It's intentionally left ambiguous by Ragnar whether or not he's still a slave. Lagertha also contributes to this as her wisdom and kindness clearly has earned Athelstan's admiration.
Ragnar: Perhaps you'd prefer to stay here and worship your own God?
Athelstan: No. I'll gladly go with you.
Token Good Teammate: Athelstan is the only completely moral, kind, and non-murderous hero, though he's also the most naïve. He even shows respect and great interest in their religion despite being a devout Catholic priest.
Unwitting Pawn: Ragnar manipulates him into telling him more about England and other possible raiding targets.
Bad Boss: 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.
Badass: He may be a conniving bastard, but fighting Ragnar as he did takes both balls and skill. Also, he had to have been pretty badass in the first place to become a Jarl.
Badass Boast: Gives an epic one when he invades Ragnar's village.
"Let the man who believes himself to be descended from the gods learn he is but human after all."
Control Freak: Because of his paranoia he needs to be in control of everything. Someone uncontrolable like Ragnar drove him up the wall.
Crisis of Faith: Expresses some doubts about the gods, which furthers the contrast between him and the deeply religious Ragnar. However, he seems to overcome them in the throes of death because he believes that he will finally see his sons again in the halls of Odin.
"Oh yes, yes, choice, yes. I have heard these rumors, these stories, that if we sail westward we will somehow find a land that is rich, and plentiful."
"You want to eat in my hall, sail on my ships, is there anything else you want from me?"
*upon hearing that Ragnar wants to face him in single-combat* "Well, he is a descendant of Odin!"
*at the trial* Well, it's unfortunate that we can't find out who did it because they both take credit for it.
Disproportionate Retribution: The Seer tells him that he and Ragnar are destined to face each other and only one will survive that battle. Haraldson decides to take care of that, but he decides to do so by not only trying to kill Ragnar but also by torching an entire village.
Even Evil Has Loved Ones: His two dead sons, primarily, becaue of his mourning for them. To a lesser extent, his wife and daughter. He wasn't happy about the arranged marriage either but viewed it as necessary for his ambitions.
Evil Overlord: Less outright evil than other examples but he's still a jarl with a fair amount of corruption in him.
Evil Is Petty: As described by Gabriel Byrne, he's a man who believes deeply in temporal power and will fight to the death to hold on to it.
Evil Plan: He sees a threat to his powerbase, (I.E. Ragnar) and wants to snuff it out.
Face Death with Dignity: He was perfectly composed when he lost his duel with Ragnar. He even asked Ragnar to deal the finishing blow.
Fallen Hero: According to him, he was similar to Ragnar in his youth, being a fearsome raider.
Freudian Excuse: The murder of his sons and desecration of their bodies. We don't really get a look at what he was like before their deaths, but his wife's attitude seems to suggest he wasn't nearly so bad.
Foil: To Ragnar. He's conservative, irreligious, paranoid and dominating. Ragnar is forward-thinking, deeply religious, is blinded to his brother's less than noble characteristics out of love for him, and treats his warriors as equals. In spite of this, it is said that they were not so different in other respects. Generally, neither man despises each other at ll, instead possessing mutual admiration for one another. It goes one further when Haraldson says that Ragnar is basically what he was when he was young. Indeed, it is because of their similarities, rather than their differences that they come into battle with each other.
Go Out with a Smile: The first time in the series where he seems in any way happy is when Ragnar kills him. He's happy because at long last he'll be in Valhalla with his sons.
Ragnar: Lord Odin is here... He is waiting to see which one of us he will take to his Great Hall.
Haraldson: Then... then I shall be dining after all at the high table of the Aesir... [[to his grieving wife Tonight, I will be drinking with our boys...]]
I Am X, Son of Y: Historically, the Norse and other Germanics were among the first to use patronomyics from which modern names like 'Johnson' and so on are derived. Such is the case with Haraldson. Of course, in the Norse usage, his name should be 'Haraldsson'. This patronoymic also would not have served as a surname, and he should be called 'Earl First Name'. That being said, we never ever learn his first name in any case. So you could say that he fits this trope half-way.
It's Personal: Always had the intent to one day kill Ragnar and take his means of navigating the open seas, but when his illegitimate brother Canute was killed by Lagertha (to his knowledge, Ragnar), it became this for him.
Kangaroo Court: Is found of using this procedure to destroy his enemies.
Kick the Dog: The first instance is when he shamed a man who had been executed. He had nothing to gain from it and Ragnar calls it excessive.
Manipulative Bastard: Which he uses to find 'traitor's in his midst'; of course most of these threats are imagined ones. Also towards Rollo, his method of playing to his insecurities and strained relationship with his brother was pretty good but he didn't count on Rollo's ultimate loyalty being so great, which truthfully, came out of the blue for everyone. On the other hand, if you instead believe that Rollo did it solely for Lagertha's sake...
Multi-Melee Master: Shows himself to be highly proficient with swords and axes. Switching comfortably between them during th duel with Ragnar.
Noble Demon: He's a vengeful, sadistic man but he has his principles, such as personal honour, bravery, loyalty and love for his children.
Old Soldier: According to Tostig, Haraldson personally lead many raids into the East. And given that Tostig also says that Haraldson fought alongside him, we can determine that he must have been an even better warrior in his youth if he was able to keep up with a guy like him.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: Say what you will of Earl Haraldson, but the man doesn't shy from taking on a man half his age in single combat. The fact that he fearlessly fights Ragnar inspite of seeing his battle prowess first hand also contributes to his already extensive badass credentials.
Screw Destiny: Tries to get out of fighting Ragnar personally as the Seer foretells by zerg-rushing him with troops, it fails and he faces Ragnar in a holmgang anyway.
Tragic Villain: Ultimately revealed to be like Ragnar+20 or so years that was done in by paranoia and heartbreak.
Viking Funeral: A full episode is centered around his funeral, including setting him in a boat which they push off and torch.
Warrior Earl: Very, very much so. As his battle with Ragnar proves.
Would Hurt a Child: Orders a child (legally a child because he didn't have a arm ring) killed so he would protect his treasure in the afterlife.
Worthy Opponent: He privately reveals to his wife that he holds Ragnar in the utmost respect, that he always knew in his heart that Ragnar was right about the lands to the west, and that he sees much of his younger self in Ragnar. Indeed, it's for these very reasons he saw Ragnar as a threat, and feared that if he supported Ragnar, the men would turn to him and his own power would erode.
Siggy: Don't think about [[our sons]], think about tomorrow..
Haraldson: Where I must kill a man for whom I have the utmost respect for?
Siggy: Respect? (scoffs) You respect Ragnar Lodbrok?
Haraldson: Why not. He is what I used to be: restless, ambitious.
Ragnar shows that the feeling is reciprocated, hence why he honoured him with a Viking funeral.
Athelstan: I don't understand... why have you given Earl Haraldson such a big funeral? Was he not your enemy?
Ragnar: He was also a great man and warrior. He earned his renown in this life and now in death, he deserves such a funeral.
You Can't Fight Fate: Tried to kill Ragnar without facing him in battle, failed to do so, and ended fighting him face to face like the Seer prophesied. He was remarkably calm about this.
"It's true our fates have brought us together. And maybe he's opened the western lands... for me... That is my hope, after I kill him."
You Remind Me of X: As mentioned above, Haraldson is reminded of his glory days when he sees Ragnar.
Played by Jessalyn Gilsig
"You are all power. All authority."
Good Parents: To her daughter Thyri. All the more tragic when Thyri dies of the plague in the finale.
Graceful Loser: Though she is shattered after Haraldson's death, she is nonetheless the first resident of Kattegat to hail Ragnar as the new Earl.
Happily Married: She loved Haraldson deeply, but his depression and cruelty often drove her away. She tries to make something like this possible with Rollo, but his unfaithfulness makes it difficult.
Lady Macbeth: Somewhat. She does tend to encourage Haraldson's paranoia and cruelty, but mostly as a result of her efforts to give him confidence and make him feel positive. Though once she gets together with Rollo, she starts playing on his envy and insecurity to manipulate him, showing maybe she hasn't changed that much after all.
Mama Bear: To rival Lagertha. As soon as Haraldson is dead, she stabs the Earl he married their daughter off to in the stomach, killing him.
Reason You Suck Speech: Gives one of these to Rollo after he blatantly cheats on her several times at a festival, telling him that Ragnar's meeting with the king while he's nursing a hangover.
Badass: He accords himself well in battle, and Lagertha notes that he is a great warrior. He fights off several of the Earl's men unarmed, only being taken down due to both being out numbered and his enemies using weapons against them, and it still takes them a while. And once captured, he withstands Haraldson's tortures without giving up his brother's location.
"I want to raid and fight. It's what I was born to do."
Body Paint: Has some knotwork designs tattooed on his body depicting two snarling wolves on either arm chasing after a sun and a moon. They're probably meant to be representations of Skoll and Hati.
Byronic Hero: He's cynical and jaded, intensely passionate and ambitious, driven by his perceived inferiority to his brother and is quite charismatic.
Cain and Abel: Subverted- All the potential is there, Rollo is envious of Ragnars fame and glory as well as lusting after his wife. He has the anger issues combined with an impulsive nature that say he was going to turn, but in the end he stays loyal to Ragnar even after being offered a handsome reward or tortured.
Cool Uncle: He and Bjorn have a good relationship.
Comforting the Widow: After Haraldson's death, he starts comforting Siggy who is receptive to his advances.
Conflicting Loyalty: He's torn between his need to realize his own ambitious and potential and his love for his brother.
Don't You Dare Pity Me!: When he steps to swear his allegiance to his brother, Ragnar tells him he doesn't have to in light of everything he's already suffered for his loyalty. Rollo swats his hand away and swears anyway.
Ragnar: There's no need for you to swear. You've already paid a great price for your loyalty to me...
Rollo: Nevertheless, I will swear, brother.
Face-Heel Turn: In the season finale he swears allegiance to a king opposed to Ragnar but hasn't taken action against him.
Establishing Character Moment: Throwing Ragnar his battle-axe when he's disarmed and then annihilating a heavily armoured enemy warrior with nothing but a hunting knife. The former emphasizes his love for his brother, the latter gives a taste of his incredible badassery.
Glory Seeker: Primarily out of a desire to move out of his sibling's shadow. Haraldson tries to tempt him with this.
Green-Eyed Monster: While a mighty warrior in his own right, he is overshadowed by the exploits of his brother. Both Haraldson and Borg try to play on his resentment and jealousy in order to turn him against Ragnar. Borg succeeds, or so it appears.
Heroic Lineage: Assuming he shares Ragnar's belief that they are descendants of Odin.
Historical-Domain Character: Yes. He's that Rollo. Fun fact, the current English royal family owes its existence to him, since he not only founded (rather, carved out) Normandy, but was also the great great great grandfather of William the Conqueror.
Hot-Blooded: On the battlefield, it's what makes him into one of the most fearsome warriors in Ragnar's warband. Off the battlefield, it infuriates him to no end because it leads him to try to and play his hand in matters where he has only surface level knowledge; like political negotiation. It's worth noting that that this need comes primarily out of a desire to prove himself as equally gifted as his brother, thereby overcompensating.
In Harm's Way: One can tell he loves being in the thick of battle.
Kick the Dog: He takes this almost to its literal conclusion in Wrath of the Northmen, when he pulls a cowering monk out of his hiding place at Lindisfarne and kicks him to death.
Rollo loves battle for the sake of it as much as the next Northman, but even he can see raiding the East is a waste of time.
"Where do you think the Earl will send us next? Those bastards in the East are as poor as we are."
He later volunteers to convert to christianity in order to broker the ransom of King Aelle's brother. As much as he loves battle, he's not about to argue with being handed two thousand pounds of gold and silver for one man without a fight. It is worth noting that he didn't mean any of it. Hell, he couldn't even understand what the priest was saying!
In a similar vein to his brother - but he instead venerates Odin in his aspect of a bloodthirsty war-god.
"You have your Odin, and I have mine."
He later converts to Christianity in order to broker a deal between Ragnar and King Aelle. After Floki accuses him of turning his back on Odin, he slaughters more christians than any other warrior during the following battle to prove the shipwright wrong. He was actually pretty angry that Floki would dare accuse him of forsaking the Northern gods, and looked ready to kill him for such an accusation.
The Starscream: Once again in "Burial of the Dead" is teased with a possible Face-Heel Turn now that Ragnar is the new Earl and he also wants the throne for himself. Seemingly goes into full Face-Heel Turn at the end of the finale.
Thicker Than Water: Unbreakable loyalty to his brother despite jealousy. Then he accepts Jarl Borg's offer to join him against Ragnar and Horik.
Token Evil Teammate: 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 Undying Loyalty through multiple opportunities to betray Ragnar.
"I can tell which trees are going to make the best planks just by looking at them. I can look inside the trees!"
Ambiguously Bi: He invites another man to bed with him and his woman. However, the other viking and his woman had been making googly eyes at each other earlier, and Floki might just be doing it for her sake. As the show isn't very explicit with the sex scenes, it's unclear whether Floki had sex with the other viking, if they took turns, or if they had sex with her at the same time, only using separate orifices.
Hidden Depths: You'd think that he was a crazy madman by looking at him but he is in fact an excellent shipwright and warrior. As well as knowledgable of medecine. He is a very generous man, and a loyal and great friend to Ragnar and his family.
He's also almost fanatically religious.
The Hyena: Laughs quite a bit, especially after playing a trick on someone. But when in the thick of battle...
Knife Nut: Wields a dagger to lethal effective alongside his axe in battle.
Pyromaniac: Floki exhibits a fascination with fire. He's positively giddy when he ignites the writings of Lindisfarne and uses them to burn down the monastery and then he dances in place in anticipation for the burning of the ship bearing Haraldson's body.
Religious Bruiser: He seems to take the viking faith more seriously than any other character matching even Ragnarnote Word of Dante is that Floki believes himself to be a descendant of Loki, just as Ragnar believes himself a descendant of Odin
He holds open disdain for Christianity, where as most other vikings are shown to be either amused or dismissive of it. When Rollo agrees to be converted, Floki spits on his baptism and later accuses him of abandoning the gods and inviting Odin's wrath, and seems fully prepared to fight Rollo over the matter.
He is the first to try to offer himself up as a human sacrifice in the eighth episode, which is a tremendous honour to the Norse. It's only the pleading of his woman that keeps him from doing it.
The Smart Guy: He's a brilliant shipwright and an excellent medic.
Spiteful Spit: His reaction to Rollo's baptism scene. In contrast to the other Vikings who mockingly laugh at it, and Ragnar who watches with silent but smoldering disapproval.
Trickster Archetype: When introduced, it was pointedly mentioned his name bears a strong resemblance to that of a certain trickster deity.
Bjorn: Floki? Like Loki? The god?
Ragnar: Yes. Only different.
Bjorn: How is he different?
Ragnar: He's not a god.
Played by Vladimir Kulich
"If this is their god, and he's dead, nailed to a cross, what use is he, then?"
Anyone Can Die: If there's anyone who can symbolize this trope as far as Vikings is concerned, it's Erik. Damn it.
Authority Equals Asskicking: Seems to have his share of authority, given that he more or less gathered everyone who took part in Ragnar's initial voyage.
Badass: He's one of the most powerful fighters in the warband, look at how he easily he hews apart Saxons in episodes 3 and 4. A shield bash from this guy sends Saxons flying, too. It's also notable that while everyone else scurries in battle, Eric strides slowly and confidently like a god of war.
Badass Cape: Wears one when he and Ragnar raid Lindisfarne. It's rather reminiscent of a longcoat.
Badass Beard: Truly so! His is tied into two separate plaits!
Badass Boast: "Even so, he was my kinsman. We must avenge his death. It was done in the name of King Aella, and King Aella must suffer for it." To put this in perspective, he's talking about going up to the King of Northumbria and killing him himself to avenge the death of his brother.
The Lancer: To Ragnar similar to Rollo but less blood-thirsty.
Large and in Charge: The tallest and most powerfully built of the Vikings (which is saying something). Also seems to be Ragnar's second.
In real life Vladimir Kullich is 6'5 and a bodybuilder.
Lightning Bruiser: Eric is towering, a single hit from him is like ten from anyone else, and he usually kills his enemies before they can even put up their swords.
Mauve Shirt: His death is what really sets off the Ragnar/Haraldson conflict, as Ragnar hadn't intended to move against Haraldson directly until the Earl had Eric murdered.
Murder Is the Best Solution: Downplayed, for all he and the others knew the Saxons may have been leading them into a trap (we, as viewers, know this isn't the case), so murder really was the most rational solution to their problem.
Blood Knight: He has to be, he wants to die an honourable death and enter the gates of Valhalla.
Rollo: When do you think they'll come?
Ragnar: Soon enough.
Tostig: I hope they do. I can't wait for Valhalla.
Cool Old Guy: The other vikings think being old makes him useless, i.e. uncool. He soon proves otherwise.
Death Seeker: After the night raid on the Saxon camp, he kills many enemy soldiers and fights in the thickest of the battle. The next day, he's sitting sullenly on a tree stump and lamenting that none of them can give him a worthy death.
Ragnar: What ails you, my friend?
Tostig: The gods wont lift my curse. I'm fated to live forever on this miserable earth...
Dying Moment of Awesome: If there's ANY justice in the One-Eyed God, he'll stand at the doors of Valhalla and welcome him personally, for there was no greater warrior who walked the land.
A Good Way to Die: He longs after an honourable death with blade in hand and the corpses of his enemies around him; an end to make both gods and forefathers proud.
Go Out with a Smile: Dies with a smile, knowing that he will experience the glory of Valhalla that has been too long delayed.
In Harm's Way: There's only one way for a Northman to live and to die: in glorious battle.
Heroes Prefer Swords: In contrast to the other Vikings. Given that swords were relatively expensive in that era, it means he must have been a very wealthy man from his prior raiding.
Go Out with a Smile: He gives his friends one last smile before he is sacrificed. Ragnar and Athelstan shed tears at this.
Heroic Sacrifice: He offers himself for sacrifice at Uppsala in order to appease the wrath of the gods and does so gladly and bravely.
"Before anyone else can claim this honour, I desire to be sacrificed. For my family, for you, my friends, and more importantly; for the sake of all the humans in Midgard. And, with the knowledge that the gods will find my sacrifice pleasing, I look forward to it gladly."
Neck Snap: Does this to armed and armoured Saxons in the thick of battle after losing his axe.
Badass In Charge: Of all of Denmark (historically, he was the sole king of Denmark).
Beware the Nice Ones: He tends to come off as rather jovial and carefree, and the first time we see him, he's playing a prank on the local priests. Beneath that it's strongly implied that he is a very cunning and ruthless man.
Horik: I have heard about Christians! And their god! And... are you still Christian?
Horik: OF COURSE NOT! How could you be a Christian and walk among our gods?!
Historical In-Joke: Of course he would know about Christians! Historically, Horik I's predecessor converted to Christianity and Horik himself historically resisted attempts to proselytize the Danes by Ansgar of Hamburg-Bremen.
Dragon Their Feet: Defied. After Ragnar kills Haraldson in the holmgang he calls upon the assembled to kill him (technically justifiable in that later holmgangs were not meant to be fatal confrontations, so Ragnar may have possibly overstepped himself there). He gets an axe buried in his chest courtesy of Rollo for his trouble.
Non-Action Guy: In contrast to everyone whose not Athelstan or a child, Svein seems content with his administrative role as Haraldson's servant, instead of actively seeking glory on the battlefield like a regular Norseman. Whenever Haraldson orders violence upon anyone with the ability to resist, Svein delegates those tasks.
Punch Clock Villain: Astoundingly for a man who has no qualms about killing children, Svein never seems to have an emotional connection to what he's doing, and approaches murder and torture with a clinical efficiency; like a butcher preparing an animal for slaughter. Even when he's about to kill a man on the verge of tears on his Earl's orders, his face betrays absolutely no hint of emotion. He just sees it as work. In fact, the only time he shows any high emotion whatsoever is when Haraldson is killed, implying that his coldness towards murder may be solely due to his loyalty to him.
Smug Snake: A lot of his behavior comes from his elevated posiiton in the earldom.
Soft Spoken Sadist: Chillingly polite and mild mannered while carrying out brutal murders remorselessly and without emotion.
Anti-Villain: Opposes The Protagonist, but all he's really doing is defending his kingdom. He also has redeeming traits, such as love for his family and genuine piety. On the other hand, there is something to be said about his use of corporal punishment, see below.
Big Bad: He's shaping up to be the main antagonist after Earl Haraldson's death.
Aella: There is one further condition; I would ask that you or one of your companions agrees to be baptized into our faith. That way, I can make peace with a friend and fellow Christian and not an enemy.
Reasonable Authority Figure: He takes into account the opinions of his entire court, no matter how disparate they are, when trying to find a solution to the Norse raiders. He also lets messengers freely into his court and listens to their information closely.
Revenge: Makes a declaration of vengeance regarding Ragnar at the end of A King's Ransom
Villain with Good Publicity: When Athelstan speaks of him in the third episode, it's with admiration. However, we see him in episode six as being a cruel ruler with a taste for torturous deaths.
You Killed My Brother: As of the end of King's Ransom, he's got this grudge against Ragnar, though it's debatable how much he cares about the death of his brother verses how angry he is over the humiliation of being outsmarted, his forces defeated, and being forced to pay the ransom despite his brother's death. When he swears vengeance against Ragnar, he swears to avenge himself.
You Have Failed Me: Pulls this on one of his captains who fails to defeat Ragnar, by throwing him into a snake pit.