You Can't Fight Fate: Vikings as a whole seem to have a very fatalistic outlook on life. Any misfortune in the lives is believed to have been predestined by the gods.
Ragnar 'Lodbrok' Sigurdsson
Played by Travis Fimmel
"Odin gave his eye to acquire knowledge. But I would give far more."
With the blood of the Allfather coursing through his veins and a heroic legacy before him, Ragnar, son of Sigurd, will face any foe, overcome any obstacle and will seemingly suffer any pain, in order to earn the glory that is his by birthright. Yet just as his ancient sire, Odin, fears that Huninn and Muginn will one day abandon him, so too does Ragnar fear alone that in his quest to rise above all others, he shall lose all connection with who he once was.
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.
Ambadassador: He acts as King Horik I's emissary to Jarl Borg in episode 9. Apparently, he's 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.
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?
Armor-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.
Badass Beard: The beard is a first-hand indicator of his badassery. He currently has the longest beard of any character on the show, too.
Badass Baritone: Ragnar uses his voice softly, but it always carries the tinge of a threat, and when he is angered it rises to a roar that is well-suited for command.
Badass Boast: After King Aelle tries to double cross him, he has this exchange with the king's brother, whom he was holding hostage;
Ragnar: Why should I not just kill you now?
Athelwulf: Then you'd have nothing left to bargain with.
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 even healed and 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.
The Berserker: Given the betrayal of his brother, the abandonment of his wife and the deaths of his friends, Ragnar seems to be venting a great deal of anger on the Saxons now, much to their despair. His ferocity is so great now that he fights without regard for his own safety. He's started taking heads in battle, too.
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 the skein o his life is already woven.
Lagertha: Never fight unless you know the odds are in your favor. 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 screwing 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. 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 western sea.
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-savvy about Christian life, thanks to Athelstan.
Glory Seeker: Everything he does is ultimately for the sake of glory. Though he's also motivated by a desire to make things better for all the Norse, not just his own family.
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.
Yet again when Lagertha leaves him.
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.
Marry Them All: Rather than choose between Lagertha and Aslaug,Ragnar intead proposes a polygamous marriage, pointing out that such arrangements are not uncommon amongst Earls.
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 now the red to Horik and Borg's blues.
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.
"He... tortured my brother?"
Tribal Facepaint: He has markings depicting Hunnin and Muginn on his the shaven parts of his head.
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 aett (clan). Bonus points for winning that role in battle with the old jarl.
Warrior Poet: He recites the Runatal from the Havamal very epicly 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."
While many women of the North are content to see to matters of hearth and home, it is the destiny of some to take up the weapons of war and fight alongside menfolk on the battlefield. Lagertha is one of these women, having been smitten long ago with Ragnar's strength and valour, the shieldmaiden has ever been his lover and companion. Yet as days grow bleak, Lagertha sheds her womanly accouterments and tightens her grip upon her sword, charging to the heart of battle where vulnerability is scorned and strength alone is exalted.
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..."
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When Ragnar not only tells her that he won't cast Aslaug out but insists that Lagertha will have to simply put up with Aslaug's presence because she's carrying Ragnar's child, Lagertha chooses to leave him rather than live in such an environment.
Women Prefer 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 spring, or the raids!"
The fated son of Ragnar Lothbrok, Bjorn too bears a great destiny before him. Though he is a devoted and loyal son to both parents, disillusionment with his father drives him to follow his mother to whatever path the winding road leads her. In time, he becomes a warrior in his own right, his father's son in all respects.
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.
Momma's Boy: After his parent's divorce, he ultimately decides to go with his mother.
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.
Wise Beyond Their Years: At times he seems to the the reasonable one in the family; a 'little pig' teaching the boar how to listen.
Played by Ruby O'Leary
"Pray to the Gods for him."
The daughter of Ragnar Lothbrok. Alone a voice of calm and harmony amidst furious, clashing hearts. Her death during the plague which grips Kattegat, Ragnar's Earldom, serves to exacerbate tensions within the already fraying unity of her family, causing father and mother to eventually part ways.
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.
Character Death: dies in the wave of the plague that sweeps through the village while her father is away.
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.
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.
Once he was as Ragnar is now — Restless, ambitious and eager for battle. Now the years of grief since the death of his sons has made a ruin of a once mighty man. Stern and patriarchal, he sees daggers drawn in the shadows around every corner, true or otherwise. Holding only dwindling faith in the gods, he claws and struggles to retain his temporal power, yet deep down he is a dead man who desires only peace from the world.When his struggle with Ragnar's rising power comes to head, the two face each other in holmgang, the preferred protocol for such rivalries. Ragnar defeats the Earl in single combat, thus allowing him to at last enter Valhalla and be reunited with his sons, and also takes the fallen warrior's role as chieftain of Kattegat.
Arch-Enemy: To Ragnar, and vice versa. Ragnar was even described as his nemesis by Gabriel Byrne.
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.
His return of faith prior to death has been confirmed by Word of God.
"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 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, because 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: Far 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 dine 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 Baltic lands (perhaps even the Turkic ones as well). 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 despite 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.
Would Hurt a Child: Orders a child (legally a child because he didn't have an 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."
Once the gods had favoured her well, but now with the death of her husband, Earl Haraldson, Siggy has found herself cast from the light. With the ascension of Ragnar, she finds her only path back to comfort lies with the brutal and impulsive Rollo. Yet nonetheless, despite her love for the late Earl and now for the great warrior, Siggy is driven alone by her desire to reclaim that which she once had, and will go to any lengths to escape the darkness and make her way back to the light.
Action Girl: Tries to pull this when Jarl Borg attacks Kattegat, but Rollo sends her away before she can do any actual fighting.
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 encouraged 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, though she also genuinely loves and comforts Rollo, and when he is brought back to Kattegat in chains, she convinces him to stay and continue his rise to power. After Rollo's disgrace, she ingratiates herself with none other than King Horik.
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.
Played by Clive Standen
"Your death is on its way!"
No Norseman is more desperate to be his own men, to forge his own legend than Rollo, whose very name means 'Famous Wolf'. Trapped in the long shadow of Ragnar's greatness and longing for escape, the spirit of the wolf has claimed him. He was born to kill, yet without Ragnar's presence what light is there for him? Rollo's days are bloody. His nights bleak. But let us see if the berserker can beat back the tides of despair.
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 solely in his aspect of a bloodthirsty war-god, while Ragnar balances both.
"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.
"How many christians did I kill?!! Is Odin still angry with me?!!"
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. Even after accepting Jarl Borg's offer to join him against Ragnar and Horik, he finds himself incapable of actually striking a blow against his brother in the ensuing battle.
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!"
Thought by some as a madmen, Floki sees more clearly than most. He is the adviser and confident to Ragnar, freely offering his knowledge and skills to the warrior. His loyalty to the Ynglinga is unquestioned, but even the Trickster shall be buffeted by the coming storm. For just as Heimdall is foreseen to be the first to witness Ragnarok, the great battle upon the plain of Vigrid that marks the end of the world, Floki must bear the weight of alone knowing a vision so dark, it threatens to ruin Ragnar.
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.
Jarl Borg: So. What has King Horik told you? What compromises is he willing to make?
Floki: Can't I eat dinner first?
The Bully: Even after Athelstan had lived among the Norsemen for years and proved his usefulness to them, Floki continues to harrass and insult him, convinced that he hasn't completely given up Christianity.
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?"
A great warrior, dwarfing all but a few in battle, long haired and long bearded, his might and wisdom is plain to see. An old friend of Ragnar, who gathers men to aid his cause, his dishonourable death by the hands of Haraldson's thugs drives Ragnar to seek vengeance upon the Earl.
Anyone Can Die: If there's anyone who can symbolize this trope as far as Vikings is concerned, it's Erik.
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 hird, as indicated by 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.
Barbarian Longhair: Easily has the longest, most Death-Metal looking hair-do of all the Vikings.
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 raise 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.
"Let's just kill them all and be done."
Old Friend: Of Ragnar who is old enough to be in another generation.
Tranquil Fury: His state in battle is like a focused, cold berserker rage.
Played by Angus MacInnes
"Give me the chance to die with honour in battle, and join my friends in Valhalla!"
Death is of no fear for a Northman, and in none is this more clearly embodied than in Tostig. Many years did this hoary bearded warrior sail eastwards at the side of Earl Haraldson, fighting countless battles with the easterners. In those many raids, he bore witness to the deaths of his companions, and though he fought with him in the shield-wall, never once was he touched by a blade. Forsaken, he appeals to Ragnar that he be given one last chance to die with honour in battle, his sword red with blood, and thus be found worthy to feast at Odin's side in Valhalla.
BADASS: One of the the most badass warriors to ever raise a sword.
Badass Grandpa: He has more combat experience than Ragnar and any five men put together.
Badass Beard: It's so big, he has to tie it into a massive braid.
Badass Baritone: One assumes that decades of battle cries and berserker screams only made his voice deeper and more intimidating instead of hoarse.
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.
"Lord Ragnar, I come to offer my allegiance and fealty - to you and to your family."
The son of Erik Marteinn, and a loyal ally to Ragnar. He fights at his lord's side valiantly until he is called upon to sacrifice himself at the Temple of Uppsala, lest the gods punish the world of men for their faithlessness. Accepting the honour gladly, Leif gives up his life for the sake of his friends and all the men of Midgard.
An Axe to Grind: This is the weapon he carries but is plently powerful without it.
Badass: His reaction to losing his axe in the thick of a battle is to roar and start NeckSnaping Saxons.
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."
"I share your appetite for adventure, Ragnar Lodbrok, and I will gladly join forces with you. Since as King, I'm naturally not in favour of individual enterprise!"
The people of Denmark benefit from his just rule, and Skalds are well favoured at his court. When his family was killed by his treacherous uncles, Horik rose up to challenge them to battle and drive them away from his land. Enamored of Ragnar's legend, he is quick to join his strength to that of the rising Earl in order to gain the upper hand against his adversary, Jarl Borg of Gotland. And yet, though a Norseman born and at one with their ways, Horik's true agenda remains as double-edged as the sword by his side. Knowing that Ragnar's strength has already undone two kings, the son of Gøtrik awaits the time to reveal his true cunning.
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.
Kick the Dog: Has the bishop of Winchester tortured to death by tying him down and shooting him full of arrows. Truth in Television to an extent, as the Vikings allegedly did this to King Edmund of East Anglia.
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.
Papa Wolf: He gets pissed when one of his sons die in the raid on Wessex.
"Do not despair. Meet everything head on. Whether we live or die this day is already in the hands of the gods! They know whether we sup with tonight so fear not! Fight well. And should you die, surely Odin will take you to Valhalla!"
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.
"Where are you, Lord? Tell me. Is it Your will that I’m here with these heathens? How does it serve You? I don’t understand."
Athelstan of Northumbria looks to the skies, but which god hears his pleas? Taken from the doomed monastery of Lindisfarne at sword-point and dragged across the seas, he finds himself thrust into a place where the ideals he has lived his life by protect him no longer. A cross in his left palm and a blade in his right, torn between the life of a humble Christian scholar and the need to become savage in order to survive in this new world, he faces a grave choice that threatens to tear him away from all that he once was.
A Man Is Not a Virgin: Averted, as he's a celibate monk. The Vikings all think he's weird. He might have lost his virginity in episode eight, but it's ambiguous.
Audience Surrogate: Used to be, during season 1 when he possessed a moral outlook broadly compatible with 21st century television viewers. Not so much in season 2, where he's embraced Norse culture and accepted Odin as his god.
Badass: Jumping into a river without a second thought and saving Ragnar's life earns him that title.
Took a Level in Badass: After years of gradually assimilating into Norse culture, he decides to take up arms and fight in the shieldwall along with the rest of the Vikings.
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 in England.
Expy: He shares some noticeable similarities to Uhtred of Bebbanburg from The Saxon Stories. Both are Northumbrians by birth who were abducted by Vikings, both convert to paganism and embrace Norse culture, and both find themselves torn between their Saxon and Norse identities.
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 (though he wasn't completely sincere about the latter). Fully cemented in Invasion, when he goes on his first raid.
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."
Averted as of Invasion, Ragnar gives him an arm-ring and thus declares him a free man.
Made a Slave: When his monastary is raided but is treated substantially better than most other examples.
Mercy Kill: He stops the brutal torture of the bishop of Winchester by slitting his throat before the Norsemen can put any more arrows in him.
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. Even after becoming a full-fledged Viking, he's still noticeably more humane and compassionate than the other raiders.
Unwitting Pawn: Ragnar manipulates him into telling him more about England and other possible raiding targets.
Proud Warrior Race Guy: Not nearly as much as the Norsemen, but the Saxon kingdoms got their start by acting as mercenaries for the Britons and defeating the marauding Caledonians of the North. And when they were pagans, possessed a warrior-culture almost as extreme as that of the Vikings (They did worship the same gods back then). Christianity and a settled life-style calmed them down, though.
Not So Different: The Anglo-Saxons' cultural origin is the same as the Norsemen. What they are in "Vikings" is similar to that became of the Norsemen centuries later after christianization.
Real Men Love Jesus: During their time, the Anglo-Saxons were fairly devout Catholics. This seems especially evident in Northumbria.
The Kingdom: Seven, actually. Currently, we've seen Northumbria and Wessex.
King Aelle of Northumbria
Played by Ivan Kaye
"Who are these barbarians, these savages? Why have they come to torment us?!"
The king of Northumbria. Boisterous and warlike by nature, Aella is nonetheless unprepared for the fury of the Northern raiders and finds himself outplayed and outfoxed at every turn by Ragnar Lothbrok. His own brother slain at Ragnar's hand and his armies broken on the Northman's blades, Aella swears unremitting vengeance upon the Viking.
Adipose Rex: Introduced feasting and does much more feasting afterwards.
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.
Beard of Evil: Evil insofar he opposes the protagonists and throws people to die horribly in viper pits.
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. Mark the pit well, for it will be the cause of many bad things that will befall him.
King Ecbert of Wessex
Played by Linus Roache
Claiming descent from one of the leaders of the Anglo-Saxon invasion, the King of Wessex is widely reputed to be a formidable man. Having learned the ways of politics at the court of Charlemagne, and the ways of war during his conflicts with the other kingdoms, Ecbert will need all of his strategic skill to deal with the new threat of the Norsemen.
Anglo-Saxons: In charge of the most powerful Saxon kingdom, with plans to make it even more mighty.
Bathtub Scene: He appears to be quite fond of his Roman bath, and can often be seen lounging in it, or even discussing military and political strategy in it.
The Chessmaster: He seeks to use the Vikings against his other enemies in England.
The Dreaded: His reputation is widely known, and feared, throughout England.
It should also be noted that according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Cerdic had a direct line of descent to Woden, the Saxon vision of Odin. This only makes the similarities between Ecbert and Ragnar all the more striking.
Not So Different: Both he and Ragnar are men of great ambition and cunning, with dreams of greater glory for their people. Athelstan even claims that the two have much in common.