You Can't Fight Fate: Vikings as a whole seem to have a very fatalistic outlook on life. Any misfortune in their lives is believed to have been predestined by the gods. This can get especially annoying when certain characters (*cough*Horik*cough*) refuse to own up to their failures because they just attribute them to the will of the gods, not realistic consequences to bad decisions.
King 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, that he shall lose all connection with who he once was.
Action Dad: He's a Viking, so this is kind of a given.
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?
He himself finally manages to bone both Lagertha and Aslaug at the same time 2x10.
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?".note While Norsemen had a concept which we today would call a soul it is rather different from the Christian idea.
Badass: The most brutal, vicious, and powerful fighter on the show, with the possible exception of Rollo. Justified as Ragnar Lothbrok is one of the most celebrated, if not the most celebrated, of Norse saga heroes.
Badass Beard: The beard is a first-hand indicator of his badassery. It grew longer as the show progressed. By Season 3, it'll probably be hang to his waist.
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: Surprisingly low key one 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.
Ragnar: (lifts his axe) I have this.
Badass In Charge: Of Kattegat. And now all of Denmark, and parts of southern Sweden and Norway, since he crushed King Horik's skull.
Badass Cape: Wears a big cloak of wolf-skin at times. Justified, since it's worn to ward off the cold.
Badass Family: Fathered one. Also claims descent from Odin, the king of Norse gods.
Barbarian Hero: He's a Gautar, in other words, a Geat. The people who beat back the Huns, sacked Rome, and produced Beowulf.
Berserk Button: You really don't want to threaten or endanger Ragnar's family in any way; just ask Borg or Horik. Oh wait...
Big Brother Instinct: Inverted, he's the little brother. While Ragnar was going to kill Haraldson for Erik'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.
in the Season 2 finale, Siggy gives him the knife Horik meant for her to use on his sons. They'll be cleaning Horik off the floors of Kattegat's great hall for weeks.
Composite Character: With Gurim, the historical Rollo's brother, and Horik II, the historical successor of Horik I.
Cool Sword: After... shall we say, disposing, of Horik, Ragnar's taken up possession of what appears to be a crucible-steel sword. Not an Ulfberht, but the runic inscriptions upon its blade and the overall quality of the sword implies it to be pretty fucking sweet.
Darker and Edgier: While he was never exactly a softy, a series of personal hardships in Season 2 leads to him becoming much more ruthless and savage.
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.
Decapitation Presentation: He does this to an unfortunate Saxon in "Invasion", and then displays it to two of his cowering friends.
Determinator: Ragnar is a very determined man, to say the least.
The Dreaded: Seriously, everyone knows not to fuck with Ragnar. For instance, when he sees Ragnar literally cutting a swathe through his entire army single-handed, Jarl Borg's eyes widen with terror and he pretty much just scurries away from the battlefield with his tail between his legs. For context, Borg manages to go toe-to-toe with Rollo and win, but Ragnar? He knows he's fucked.
Doting Parent: If there's one thing that can be said of Ragnar, it's that his children mean all the world to him.
Dual Wielding: When King Aelle sends his army against his warband, Ragnar forgoes his shield and instead wields a longsword in one hand an an axe in the other, to deadly effect.
The Fatalist: Played with. Ragnar embodies the ideal of a religious Norseman, and part of that is his complete submission to the will of the gods and his acceptance of how the skein of his life is already woven. That being said though, Ragnar also believes that he can also influence how that skein unfolds through his actions.
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: If you piss off Ragnar in any way, expect his demeanor to remain icily cool, but do not take that as a sign of forgiveness. This man is hard and heathen and kills without conscience. Just ask the now dearly departed Jarl Borg and King Horik.
Foil: He and King Ecbert are foils for each other; he is a Viking intrigued by Anglo-Saxon culture, while Ecbert is an Anglo-Saxon intrigued by the Vikings. Both are simultaneously more than willing to fight each other on the battlefield, but also to negotiate a pact that would be mutually beneficial
Genius Bruiser: Ragnar is likely the greatest warrior in all of Europe in the era the show is set, but in addition to that is a keen intellect and deep tactical understanding.
Ragnar: These are interesting times. The world is changing, and we must change with it.
Genre Savvy: Exhibits a great deal of it in how he analyzes battles.
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 Northmen (Norse, Svear, Gautar and Dane alike), not just his own family.
Good Parents: To all his children. The death of his daughter absolutely devastates him.
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 about England and other lands to the west ripe for plunder, and using subterfuge to learn about his enemy's plan of attack. By the end of the second season, Ragnar's wholly willing to play politics and negotiate with the Saxons to ensure peace and much needed farmland for his people.
Hard Head: In the Season 2 finale, Ragnar literally smashes Horik's face in with his own head. Repeatedly.
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. It's justified in that fidelity to one's spouse (at least for men) is a mostly Abrahamic thing. Hell, what Ragnar did isn't even considered adultery by the laws of his time; for a man, adultery is defined under most versions of ancient Scandinavian law as sleeping with a married woman. Unmarried ones like Aslaug are fair game. Women don't get the same privilege though, even unmarried ones.
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. Of course, this is also a major case of Values Dissonance as well.
Living Legend: In the Norse lands. His sons get the fun of having to live up to the glory of their father.
Earl Sigvard: (to Bjorn) Shall I raid one of my unsuspecting neighbors so that you can show off your fighting skills, and maybe slaughter them all? Show that you are truly the son of Ragnar Lothbrok?
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 wives and children utterly adore him. His ability to become close friends with a Christian monk while also accepting their religious and cultural differences says a lot about Ragnar's curious and forward-thinking personality, too.
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 Erik's untimely death. You get the feeling that the wood blocks he was chopping were supposed to be Haraldson'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.
And then again when he's informed of Athelstan's supposed death at the hands of King Ecbert.
Manipulative Bastard: Evident in how he tricks Haraldson 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, he tries to manipulate Athelstan into being sacrificed. It doesn't pan out.
Taken Up to Eleven in the second half of Season 2. Ragnar weaves a web of deceit and spies all around Horik, whom he's come to despise due to his actions in Wessex, flagrant lies and abandonment of Athelstan, and growing threat to Ragnar's family. Blind to Ragnar's manipulations, it ultimately ends in the slaughter of Horik's forces, wife, children, and himself.
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, which they aren't. Lagertha divorces him.
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.
Once again when Jarl Borg invades his lands. Ragnar's response? Blood Eagle.
And then again in the Season 2 finale when Horik attempts to kill Ragnar's entire family and take over Kattegut for himself. Ragnar's response? Ruthlessly slaughter every man, woman, and child who was connected to Horik, including all of his children.
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. By the second season, Athelstan is his closest friend and confidante.
One-Man Army: Ragnar regularly slaughters his way through clusters of Saxons and fellow Northmen without fail.
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: If you value your life, don't screw with his family. His children in particular.
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.
Claiming descent from Odin was a fairly common practice amongst noble Scandinavian and Saxon families (though the latter would claim relation to Woden, and dropped the divine implications of this after converting to Christianity).
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.
Subverted depending on the circumstances. Occasionally, when emotionally disturbed, he becomes so violent as to make Rollo look like a kitten, and in matters of tactics and diplomacy is the blue to Horik.
Sadly Mythtaken: Check out Ragnar's character quote. What he seems to be forgetting is that Odin did give far more than an eye. Specifically, he skewered himself on a spear and hung from a tree for a few days until he died so that he could gain knowledge. Ragnar, eat your heart out.
Screaming Warrior: He's actually managed to weaponize this as a form of psychological warfare. Also when he basically reduces King Horik into a fine, slightly runny paste on the meadhall floor.
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.
Social Climber: Over the course of two seasons, he goes from a farmer, to an earl, and finally to a king.
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?"
And when he explains the Blood Eagle to Jarl Borg, who of course already knows but Ragnar is just reminding him to be cruel. He very calmly outlined exactly what he is about to do.
After being informed by Prince Aethelwulf through words and the tangible proof of his arm ring that Athelstan is alive, Ragnar reacts with an icy glare and grim face, all of it aimed at Horik, who Ragnar now knows was lying about what happened in Wessex. The anger continues to fester throughout the remainder of the season, and then it finally explodes in the season finale when Ragnar calmly deals with Horik's attack on Kattegut and his family... and then beats him to death with his own head and a shield.
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.
Ungrateful Bastard: Despite everything Lagertha has done for him - fighting beside him and watching his back, tending his injuries when he was almost killed, to name a few - Ragnar ditches her for Aslaug because Lagertha is barren, Aslaug isn't, and Ragnar wants sons.
Warrior Earl: Of his aett (clan). Bonus points for winning that role in battle with the old jarl. This is actually a qualification for being a leader in Germanic societies, as battle-prowess was considered the most valued quality in a leader.
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 fond 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.
Ragnar: Well, we could charge in and end up losing half our man by being stupid. We wait, until the odds are in our favor.
By the end of Season 2, Ragnar's patience and willingness to negotiate or wait for his enemy to make the first move is contrasted with Horik's more gung-ho method of Leeroy Jenkins attacks. The latter results in the Vikings being curb stomped by King Ecbert's cavalry in "The Choice", and it's only Ragnar's and Lagertha's desire to negotiate that saves them from leaving Wessex dead or empty-handed.
Worf Had the Flu: It's outright stated that if not for his wounds, he would have completely dominated Haraldson in their duel. Injured as he was, they were more of an even match.
Ragnar: He is old. What are you so frightened of?
Lagertha: You cannot fight. You're still too weak...
Also to King Ecbert, both on the battlefield and diplomatically
Your Cheating Heart: With Aslaug towards Lagertha. Though by the standards of his time, it doesn't quite count as cheating; and this is acknowledged by every other male in the series. It doesn't stop Lagertha from being really ticked off, though.
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!
Action Mom: Whenever it is possible, Lagertha accompanies her husband and fellow Vikings on raids; Athelstan's eventual presence allows this to happen more often since he's left behind to watch over the children. And after the second season's timeskip, she is an Earl herself and fights right alongside Bjorn in battle. In the Season 2 finale, Lagertha is sent to fight Horik's wife, a fellow shieldmaiden. She wins.
Amicable Exes: Even after leaving Ragnar, she's still shown to have great affection for him (possibly because her second husband was simultaneously abusive and pathetic) and while she isn't quite as forward thinking as Ragnar is, she backs his decisions up almost instantaneously. They're also willing to work together to co-parent Bjorn, are on the wavelength about safely retrieving Athelstan from Wessex, and she's openly affectionate with Ragnar's younger sons.
Authority Equals Asskicking: She always kicked ass, but after Ragnar became Earl, she gained a measure of authority in her own right as well. And then she attained status as the Earl of Hedeby, effectively leading a corps of shield-maidens and raiders against western lands in Season 2.
Canon Foreigner: Much like Gyda, she doesn't appear in the Saga of Ragnar Lodbrok. She seems to be only mentioned in Saxo Grammaticus' account of semi-mythological Danish history; the Gesta Danorum.
Designated Girl Fight: In the season two finale, she is sent to kill Horrik's wife, who is a famous shieldmaiden in her own right.
Doting Parent: Also like Ragnar, but we see it more often because she's home more often. She continues to be very affectionate and motherly with Bjorn even after he reaches early adulthood in the second season.
Hannibal Lecture: Lagertha gives one of these to a would-be rapist in the season two episode "boneless." He threatens her with a dagger while she has no weapon and is wearing only a towel. She verbally emasculates him and walks away completely unscathed.
Happily Married: To Ragnar. She was very excited when he came home in the first episode. Events in Episode 8 and 9 complicate it.
The High Queen: Has the attitude; wise, reasonable, definitely not arm candy.
Klingon Promotion: In season two, her second husband the Earl of Hedeby sends men into her bedchamber to beat her after she aids Ragnar without his permission. After that, the Earl of Hedeby tries to humiliate Lagertha by exposing her breasts to his entire royal court, but she finally snaps and stabs him in the eye with a dagger. The Earl is then beheaded by one of his own retainers. The next time we see Lagertha, she is the Earl.
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..."
Frey was asleep that day. More wackiness ensued as a result.
Rags to Riches: As a by-product of Ragnar's success. However, after the timeskip and death of her second husband, Lagertha proves that she is fully capable of this trope all by herself, too.
Reasonable Authority Figure: Once Ragnar becomes Earl, she stands in as the local authority figure in his absence. And then, several years later, Lagertha becomes an Earl in her own right, which firmly establishes her into this position.
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.
Woman Scorned: her second husband, the Earl of Hedeby, sends out several of his men to beat her. So she kills him at the dinner table, surrounded by his warriors. When we next see her, she's the Earl of Hedeby now
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.
Bjorn "Ironside" Ragnarsson
Played By: Nathan O'Toole (Season 1), and Alexander Ludwig (Season 2)
"What would Ragnar say?"
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. Adoring and respecting his father above all other men, his devotion to him leads Bjorn to take up the blade beside him in battle, from there is no better fate for a son than to die beside his father.
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?
An Axe to Grind: Post-timeskip, he is almost exclusively seen wielding an axe thus far.
Anger Born of Worry: Post-timeskip, he is very happy when in Kattegat, but when in his stepfather's hall he is in a state of constant anger out of worry for Lagertha. With good reason, as her new husband does go in for some Attempted Rape and does beat 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. 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?
Ragnar: And what does a man do?
Bjorn: He fights.
Ragnar: Good. And...?
Bjorn: And he looks after his family.
Badass: After the timeskip, he has firmly joined his parents and uncle in this trope.
Character Development: In the first season, he is shown to be indifferent or even cruel towards Athelstan and his status as a slave. Post-timeskip, Bjorn displays kindness and love towards a slave girl and openly laments Athelstan's supposed death, thoroughly rebuking Horik's cruel words about the priest being a traitor and worthless individual.
Bjorn: Poor Athelstan... My sister and I grew to love him when we were children.
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.
Future Badass: He becomes Bjorn Ironside. In Season 2 after the timeskip, we see that he's had quite a start.
Glory Seeker: Just like his father and most other Vikings, Bjorn yearns for glory on the battlefield and a place in Valhalla upon the time of his death.
Made of Iron: He receives the nickname "Ironside" due to the fact that during a battle he was in the thick of fighting and received no wounds.
Momma's Boy: After his parent's divorce, he ultimately decides to go with his mother. Post-time skip, he decides he wants to live with his father.
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.
Wise Beyond Their Years: At times, Bjorn seems to be the reasonable one in the family; a 'little pig' teaching the boar how to listen. And unlike his father, he appears to be much more in-tune with the emotions of those around him, which becomes even more apparent after the timeskip. See Character Development above.
He can go into very philosophical tangents regarding the gods and fate at times. Rollo occasionally pokes fun at these tendencies.
Rollo: How do you know so much about the gods?
Bjorn: Because we're related to them. You, me, my father, all descendants of Odin!
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 a 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 1 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.
These are the younger sons of the union between Aslaug and Ragnar.
Awesome McCoolname: Hvitserk, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, Ivar the Boneless... not to mention Bjorn Ironside, mentioned elsewhere on this page.
Tagalong Kid: Played with; they barely have any screen time and don't slow down the main characters when on raids, but their family dotes on them, and they are just little kids running in the wake of Ragnar, Lagertha, and Rollo.
Played By: Gabriel Byrne
"A man lives or dies by his honour"
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.
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 all, 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...
Haraldson: I know. I will. There's always time to sleep. I was thinking about our boys... what they would look like now...
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'. Then again, 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.
Jerkass Has a Point: The man who he had executed and then cursed? Had been on trial for killing three times. By modern standards,that is a serial killer.
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.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: He is essentially a Viking Gille Coemgain of Moray story wise. Ragner is the equivalent to Macbeth, Haraldson to Gille Coemgain and Horik to Duncan.
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.
And in the Season 2 finale, she turns against Horik when he asks her to kill Ragnar's young sons and the rest of his family. It turns out that she was on Ragnar's side the entire time while also setting up Horik and his family for capture/murder.
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.
Asking her to kill Ragnar's young sons was a stupid move, Horik.
The Mole: As part of Horik's covert efforts to check Ragnar's growing power, he has Siggy feed him secrets and information about his supposed ally. And she's secretly feeding it right back to Ragnar the whole time.
"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.
The Atoner: He betrays Ragnar in the Season 1 finale, and the first episode of Season 2, but realizes his mistake after four years as a drunkard, and is now looking 'to be wise'.
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. Once captured, he withstands Haraldson's tortures without giving up his brother's location. In every single battle he's effectively an army in his own right, and it's safe to assume that he and Ragnar on par with each other, and are the two best fighters on the show, bar none.
Badass Creed: Chants one during the pitched battle on the Northumbrian shore in "Trial".
Barbarian Hero: He's more stereotypical 'attack attack pillage rape ARRGHH!' in the first season than his brother because he's more into it and lacks a desire for knowledge. Character Development in the second turns him into a more philosophical character. He still loves his killing, but the same could be said of everyone on this show.
"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 Sköll 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 Ragnar's 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.
Character Development: He began the series as an impetuous warrior of dubious allegiance. By the middle of Season 2, he's ditched his Heel-Face Revolving Door tendencies, goes out of his way to ensure the safety of his brother's family, and counsels caution to Ragnar when the latter wanted to immediately attack Borg's numerically superior forces.
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 up to swear 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 Revolving Door: Went over to the side of Jarl Borg, then surrendered when he realized he couldn't bear to fight Ragnar and his old friends. Has staunchly been in his brother's camp ever since.
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.
Hypocrite: In "The Choice", he calls Athelstan a traitor and says that he'd kill him if he had the strength. This is coming from Rollo of all people.
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 curbstomps him to death.
Large Ham: Has his moments like that glorious bellowing at the end of S01E07.
Lightning Bruiser: For being as tall and muscular as he is, Rollo can move very fast when he puts his mind to it, even rivaling his shorter and leaner brother on several occasions.
Made of Iron: Survives being beaten by half of a dozen men at once as well as horrific torture; is still hale and healthy afterwards.
In "The Choice", Rollo is cut with a sword and then trampled by a LOT of horses. While he is really badly injured, Ragnar is only mildly surprised when word that he survived makes it back to the Viking's camp.
My God, What Have I Done?: He gets hit with this hard after he kills Arne. You can see it in his eyes as the adrenaline wears off and he realizes that he's just butchered his own people and, more than that, a close friend. Afterward, he just loses all self-respect, and he even gives up the hope of entering Valhalla.
No One Could Survive That: Rollo takes a lot of damage throughout the series, but being slashed across the chest and then being trampled by several horses definitely takes the cake. He manages to survive it, of course.
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!
Red Right Hand: He has Hati and Sköll tattoed on him. The wolves in Norse Mythology that one day will eat the sun and the moon. Any Norseman carrying such a tattoo should not be trusted. Sköll means Traitor.
Really Gets Around: He has absolutely no trouble getting dozens of eager women into his bed. When Siggy joins up with him, she takes issue with it.
The Resenter: Somewhat towards Ragnar but not enough to turn against him or to sour their relationship, which is pretty awesome.
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. It doesn't stick, though.
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 confidant 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. However, it's unclear how much of this reflected Floki's genuine feelings, and how much of it was simply part of the ruse to ingratiate himself with Horik.
Green-Eyed Monster: As Season 2 progresses, he becomes increasingly jealous and resentful of Ragnar's success. And when Bjorn openly laments Athelstan's supposed death, Floki cruelly badmouths the priest and accuses him of being a traitor, all of which seems to stem from jealousy and resentment. In the Season 2 finale, it's revealed that he was playing up this trope all along to win Horik's favor and trust, purposely making himself look resentful of Ragnar's decisions and Athelstan's presence. In reality, he was acting as The Mole and feeding information back to Ragnar the whole time.
Horik: You have betrayed the gods.
Floki: No, I have only betrayed you.
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. He upgrades to a sword after he gets married.
The most notable instance is after being told by Helga that she is carrying his child. He has a literal My God What I Have Done moment upon realizing he is too much of a loony to be a good father, but she manages to convince him otherwise.
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.
This fits with the constant allusions to Loki, his namesake. Loki is a God of Fire, after all.
The Reliable One: He could not show it, but his loyalty to Ragnar is out of doubt.
Religious Bruiser: He seems to take the Viking faith more seriously than any other character matching even Ragnar.note 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.
He mocks and scorns (a supposedly dead) Athelstan for never fully abandoning his Christian faith, calling him a traitor right in front of the visibly upset Ragnar and Bjorn and his Earl's most dangerous rival.
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, Erik 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 Aelle, and King Aelle 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 bloodthirsty.
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: Erik 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 Erik 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 won't 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.
Backstab Backfire: His scheme to betray Ragnar and slaughter his family hinges on the aid of Floki and Siggy. They were actually loyal to Ragnar all along, which ultimately costs Horik and most of his family their lives.
Badass: He essentially won his throne through single-combat against six opponents, and has shown incredible fighting ability on the field of battle as well.
Because Destiny Says So / You Can't Fight Fate: When Ragnar, who had suspected a trap and wanted to wait, challenges him on this, Horrik declares that the outcome of the battle was fated and that he cannot be held responsible for their defeat, as it was the will of the gods.
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 he is shown to be a very ruthless and cruel man, who does more harm than help to his allies.
Cold-Blooded Torture: 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.
Composite Character: With Harald Greycloak and Sigurd Hring, as Ragnar's predecessor as King of Denmark.
Death by Adaptation: In real life he outlived Ragnar by a decade. Specifically, he outlived someone called "Reginherus", who is believed by historians to possibly have been one of the candidates for the historical Ragnar. There are even some historians who posit that Horik I and Ragnar might have even been the same person.
Face Death with Dignity: When Ragnar and his men have him surrounded, Horik calmly resigns himself to his fate, and only asks Ragnar to spare his son, before serenely walking up to Ragnar and embracing death.
General Failure: Horik's lack of attentiveness at his camp in the first raid of Wessex (As in his men freely going hunting and him drinking and feasting in camp) and his Leeroy Jenkins attitude in the second raid leads him to being squashed by Ecbert twice. Especially irking, for both Ragnar and the viewers, is that on account of his fatalist attitude, Horik refuses to take responsibility for any of his fuckups. According to him, his men lost not because of his terrible tactics, but because the gods had fated them to lose.
The Good King: Deconstructed. Ragnar remarks on how his people appreciate his just rule. However, this is likely because he pays skalds to make sure his reputation stays good; the man himself isn't exactly everything the songs portray him as.
Heroic Lineage: Horik I was a Scylding, and a descendant of motherfucking Harald Wartooth — the ultimate Viking badass (aside from Ragnar and Egil Skallagrimsson).
Hidden Depths: Exhibits knowledge enough of Norse legends to impress even Floki.
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.
Kill 'em All: Tries to pull this on Ragnar's family. It backfires. Hard.
A Man Is Not a Virgin: Most Vikings believe in this, but Horik takes it to new levels. While his son had already had some sexual experience with slaves, the king believes that he'd have to sleep with a free woman to be a real man, and enlists Siggy to help him do this.
He essentially is to Floki what Jarl Borg was to Rollo.
He is also very similar to Haraldson, in his occasionally petty decision making, and in that he's an established ruler who grows paranoid of the upstart Ragnar's growing fame and power, a paranoia that drives him to actions which lead to his death at Ragnar's hand.
Papa Wolf: He gets pissed when one of his sons die in the raid on Wessex.
Pet the Dog: Any intereactions with his sons show the kinder side of his personality. He even dies begging for his son to be spared.
Poisonous Friend: He has a highly negative influence on Floki, attempting to convince him to murder Bjorn.
"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.
Audience Surrogate: He zigzags on this trope. During Season 1 he possessed a moral outlook broadly compatible with 21st century television viewers. In Season 2, he's embraced Norse culture and accepted Odin as his god. The he becomes even more of a surrogate later in the season, as he is now shown to have a wider religious outlook than previously, and while still predominantly Christian, he is starting to appreciate other cultures and their religions in a way that resembles modern multiculturalism. King Ecbert puts his Roman relics in Athelstan's care because unlike his other subjects, he wouldn't consider them unholy.
Badass: Jumping into a river without a second thought and saving Ragnar's life earns him that title.
Badass Bookworm: If there's one thing that Athelstan appreciates, it's books and anything that involves writing or painting. Unlike the Vikings, he's capable of reading and writing in multiple languages.
Badass Preacher: The Vikings tend to shoot him down whenever he tries to lecture on his faith, but he's still a holyman with guts.
Celibate Hero: Being a monk, he has a vow of celibacy, but he may have had sex in Episode 8. It's ambiguous if he did or not.
The Chew Toy: His home is burnt and all of his friends are either murdered or enslaved by the Vikings. He's then thrust into a foreign culture where many of the people dislike and mistrust him. He then finds out that Ragnar, one of the few Norsemen who had showed him kindness, intended to use him as a human sacrifice. After succumbing to Stockholm Syndrome, going pagan, and joining the Vikings on their raids, he gets captured and crucified by the English.
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.
Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: He's thought by many of the Vikings, specifically Floki and King Horik, to suffer from this considering his Going Native after finding himself in Scandinavia and then his switching teams again during his return to England. In this case, he was kidnapped in the first instance and essentially held hostage in the second with no viable means of escape. One shudders to imagine what they'll think of him after his returning to the Vikings in the penultimate episode.
Crucified Hero Shot: After going apostate and getting captured by the Saxon soldiers, he gets one of these in the most literal sense possible.
Cultured Badass: He's the only member of the warrior cast that can read and write, and has a deep appreciation for the Roman texts and relics that King Ecbert has in his possession.
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. Then again in "The Choice" when he decides once and for all that his home is in Kattegat with Ragnar and his family.
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. With the encouragement of Ragnar and his family, Athelstan continues to retain these ideals and philosophy throughout the series, even after Going Native with the Vikings.
Guile Hero: Athelstan very rarely encounters physical confrontations and only attacks in defense of his friends or himself. He instead overcomes challenges using a combination of his natural intelligence, chameleon-like survival instincts, and cultural knowledge of both Christian and Norse values.
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. And then in "The Choice", Ragnar asks Athelstan to come back to Kattegut, clearly showing that he's free to live and practice where he pleases.
Hearing Voices: In Season 2, the internal conflict between his Christian and Norse beliefs leads to him having hallucinations, especially in regards to his crucifixion scars.
Heel-Faith Revolving Door. Athelstan begins the series as a Christian monk, but after spending a prolonged period of time among the Vikings, he claims that Odin is his god. Later, he's captured by the English of Wessex and taken into the court of King Ecbert, where he seems to at least nominally re-convert to Christianity. In "The Choice", Athelstan finally admits to Ragnar that he's torn between the Norse gods and Christianity, both of which speak to him and his spiritual side. After Ragnar assures him that this isn't a problem, Athelstan willingly returns to Kattegut with the Vikings.
Athelstan: In the gentle fall of the rain from Heaven, I hear my God. But in the thunder, I still hear Thor. That is my agony.
Ragnar: I hope that someday our Gods can become friends.
Impaled Palm: Athelstan bears the scars and aches of crucifixion upon his palms and feet, the former of which Ragnar notices when he returns his arm ring in "The Choice". They still pain him by the end of Season 2, but writing and painting appears to have reduced the stiffness somewhat in his dominant hand.
Important Haircut: Or more like important hair growth. The longer Athelstan lives with the Vikings, the longer he allows his hair and beard to grow, including the tonsure atop his head. Even after being captured by King Ecbert in Wessex, he still doesn't cut his hair or beard into the traditional style of a Christian monk.
Made a Slave: When his monastary is raided but is treated substantially better than most other examples.
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 8, but it's ambiguous.
Massive Numbered Siblings: The original reason why he was placed in the Lindisfarne monastery. Athelstan's parents already had four sons and a daughter when he was born and couldn't afford yet another child in their home.
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.
Morality Chain: Like Bjorn, he has become this more and more to Ragnar as the series progresses, especially in regards to religion and attempts at negotiation instead of charging straight into battle.
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.
Odd Friendship: With Ragnar, despite their radically different countries, cultures, and religions. One does not expect a raider and a priest to get along so well.
Ragnar: I hope that someday our Gods can become friends.
Omniglot: Due to his background as a Catholic monk and scribe, Athelstan has a fluent or working knowledge of several languages, including Old English, Latin, Greek, Old Norse, and probably High German because of his time in Charlemagne's court. He's also shown to have a natural gift for picking up dialects. It was this demonstrated ability that initially caught Ragnar's attention and resulted in him sparing Athelstan's life.
Parental Substitute: He acted as this to Bjorn and Gyda whenever their parents were away on raids. And since Ragnar became Earl of Kattegat, Athelstan appears to have been exercising the duties of a Stivardur, or steward, in Ragnar's household.
The Philosopher: He can be quite poetic and philosophical at times, which probably comes from his background as a Christian monk. It's most evident when he's speaking with Ragnar or King Ecbert.
Security Blanket: A Bible that he saved from Lindisfarne is the only reminder that Athelstan has of his old life. He's understandably upset when it's destroyed.
The Smart Guy: Due to his upbringing as a monk, Athelstan is the most well-educated character on the show. Unlike the Vikings, he can read and write multiple languages as well as speak them, spent time in Charlemagne's court, and displays a great deal of knowledge on cultures and religions outside of his own, including Ancient Rome and its predecessors. By the time of Athelstan's capture in Wessex, he has also become the foremost expert of Saxon blood on the Norsemen, their culture, and paganism in general. And he continues to exhibit a thirst for knowledge of all kinds as the show progresses.
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.
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.
Unwitting Pawn: Ragnar manipulates him into telling him more about England and other possible raiding targets.
White Sheep / 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.
Exact Words: As par the course with his Vagueness Is Coming warnings. He tells Jarl Borg he will become an eagle. It is only too late that he learns this refers to the Nordic punishment of the Blood Eagle
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's ambiguous whether he posesses actual magic powers, but the accuracy of his predictions is remarkable.
Example: Ragnar asks if Athelstan resides in Valhalla or Hel. The Seer states that he is in neither, but is actually alive. Cue Athelstan working in Wessex and noticing that a raven is apparently watching him from the window. If that is a coincidence, it's a Hel of one!
A Deleted Scene in Episode 1 has him correcly identify that Björn will not be harmed easily in battle.
Older Than They Look: Ambiguous. It is difficult to tell his age by appearance because of his various deformities, but he implies that he may be "hundreds of years old." Or maybe he doesn't, see Vagueness Is Coming below.
A fearsome warrior, a cunning tactician, and a powerful Jarl, Borg is a force to be reckoned with. Rival to King Horik for the lands of Gotaland. Jarl Borg intensely hates King Horik (a feeling that is reciprocrated) and seeks to better his kingdom's position, whatever the cost.
Affably Evil: Perhaps closer to "affably morally ambiguous". He is a rather civil guy, overall.
Borg: If I invade and conquer, will he not be humiliated more? (his friends chuckle)
Defeat Means Friendship: Averted. While he agrees to join forces with Ragnar and Horik after an unsuccessful battle against them, it's clear that there is still a great deal of mutual dislike, particularly between him and Horik. Ultimately, the differences between the two men cause the fragile truce to fall apart, and the violence resumes.
Defiant to the End: He never asks to be spared or tries to make his captors sympathize with him. Jarl Borg pretty much faces his execution headfront.
Et Tu, Brute?: His face when he sees Ragnar has betrayed him for a second time is of genuine betrayal, and he can only repeat futilely "No". This may be as much because of what Ragnar was telling him his eventual fate would be: Blood Eagle.
Face Death with Dignity: Despite the absolutely horrific manner of his death, he rises to the occasion when the time for his execution finally comes. It's ambiguous whether or not he screamed at the end, but he still took it one hell of a lot better than most would. It could even be interpreted that when he and Ragnar saw the eagle, he laughed.
Foe-Tossing Charge: When he raids Kattergat, Borg sees Rollo in the other side of the battlefield. Then he does a Unflinching Walk as he cuts down some twelve people in his path.
When Ragnar and his warband ambush he and his men, he has his men do a literal version of this by ordering a flank of his men to fall back, then suddenly charge forward again.
Borg: Not all brothers get along so well, I know that by personal experience. I too had a brother, and I loved him. We were very close, as befit of all brothers, we fought together in the shield walls, shared the same women. When my father was killed there was fierce competition to replace him as Jarl, and although I was the eldest son, I was not sure I was going to succeed. However, I was elected, and we had a feast to celebrate...My wife was there, my young beautiful wife. We'd just gotten married. And all the others who stood in the election against me. My brother poisoned them...all. I only survived because my wife took the cup I was about to drink in celebration. I will never forget the screams. It's my wives screams that will haunt me for the rest of my life. My brother denied responsibility, but his guilt was too obvious, so I blinded him with my own hands and then I burned him alive. That is what I know of the love between brothers.
Genius Bruiser: He is a fine warrior, but also a great tactician and politician.
Go Out with a Smile: As he takes his last breath, Jarl Borg grins as he stares into a nearby eagle (with the implication he may have become one with the eagle).
Heel Face Door Slam: He gladly accepts Ragnar's forgiveness, and appears to be wholeheartedly committed to joining forces with him. However, this merciful act was only a ruse to draw Borg back to Kattegat, where Ragnar plans to carve the blood-eagle on him.
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: As he dies, a suspiciously apropos eagle appears (given The Seer told Borg he'd become an eagle) and the way the scene proceeds indicates a hint of supernatural link between the eagle and Borg, but it's never really shown either way.
Not Afraid to Die: On the contrary he seems quite eager to see how a Blood Eagle works. Even if he's the subject of it.
Opt Out: In the battle with Ragnar, he realizes his army is going to lose, so he orders a tactical retreat and flees to fight another day.
Prophecy Twist: He learns a little too late the Eagle the Seer spoke of is a Blood Eagle, a nordic method of execution.
Reformed, but Rejected: He tries becoming an ally of Ragnar once again. Ragnar is on a very unforgiving mood, however.
Sanity Slippage: Jarl Borg starts consulting with his first wife's skull and starts having hallucinations.
Shirtless Scene: He fights the battle against Horik's forces bare-chested, much like Rollo.
Tragic Villain: His wife's death and his brother's betrayal make him quite a tragic figure.
Played By Alyssa Sutherland
Thank you for your good advice — but I would rather die myself than take it.
In any other story, Aslaug would be the protagonist, but don't think she's unimportant. Sweet and gentle she may be, but the daughter of Sigurd and Brynhildr has a wit to match Ragnar's, something Lagertha is incapable of doing since her primary expertise is in combat.
The Cassandra: Supposedly, had Ragnar heeded her warning, Ivar would be able to walk.
Heroic Lineage: Like her husband, Aslaug is also descended from Odin. Unlike Ragnar, who is supposedly a son of Odin, Aslaug is a great-great-great-great granddaughter of Odin; thus, making Ragnar supposedly her great-great-great-great uncle. Her father was Sigurd the Dragon Slayer and her mother Brynhildr the Shield-maiden and Valkyrie.
Hypocrite: In the second episode of the second season, Aslaug gets very territorial when Ragnar so much as flirts with a maid, and she passive-aggressively threatens the maid to stay away from her man. This coming from a woman who had absolutely no qualms with breaking up Ragnar's marriage, as long as she got what she wanted.
Mama Bear: Unlike Ragnar, who wanted to abandon Ivar to die, Aslaug brought their son back from the wilderness, insisting that he be allowed to live. She even stands up to Ragnar, who by this point is one of the most powerful and feared leaders of the Norsemen, when he wanted to leave Ivar to die in the wilderness.
Pet the Dog: Played with when she refuses to kill Ivar. While it seems the right thing to do at first glance, sparing a crippled child's life was more of a Cruel Mercy than anything, as it would never be able to cope with the hard life that vikings lived. In this case, we know from the sagas that Ivar would be fine, and even go on to be a great Norse hero, but if he hadn't been protected by Plot Armor, he would have lived a short, difficult life, and Aslaug's decision to spare him as an infant would have been nothing more than a selfish refusal to face reality. As her character quote shows, even she realizes that everybody is giving her good advice when they tell her to Mercy Kill Ivar, but she still refuses to listen to it.
Took a Level in Dumbass: Upon Aslaug's introduction, she was witty and intelligent enough to match Ragnar. Come season two, all that had changed, from her utter lack of social awareness and skill (her hamhanded and unsuccessful attempts to connect with both Lagertha and Bjorn come to mind) to her lack of common sense (unlike Rollo and Siggy, she didn't seem to realize that, being refugees wanted by a powerful warlord like Jarl Borg, keeping a low profile was necessary to survive).
General Saxon Tropes
Anglo-Saxons: No, really. This is just about the period where the Angles and the Saxons had developed a common identity; 'Angelcynn'. English.
Enemy Mine: The Viking raids give the Saxons a threat greater than each other for them to worry about.
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 what became of the Norsemen centuries later after Christianization. However, the show downplays some of the more overtly Germanic aspects of Anglo-Saxon culture in order to emphasize their differences with the Vikings.
Real Men Love Jesus: During their time, the Anglo-Saxons were fairly devout Catholics. This seems especially evident in Northumbria.
The Kingdom: Seven of them. Currently, we've seen Northumbria and Wessex, but the political troubles of Mercia are coming to the forefront.
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, Aelle 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, Aelle 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 takes over the role of primary antagonist after Haraldson's death (in Season 1, at least).
Aelle: 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.
Put on a Bus: Since most of the action in the second season takes place in Scandinavia and Wessex, we don't see or hear anything of him in the first half. However...
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.
It continues in Season 2, when in a surprising aversion of Revenge Before Reason, he agrees to Ecbert’s plan to make peace with the Norsemen and employ them as mercenaries in Mercia, in spite of his oath of vengeance against Ragnar.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: In his relationship with Ecbert, he's the red oni: bloodthirsty, loud and boisterous, in contrast to Ecbert's milder personality.
Revenge: Makes a declaration of vengeance regarding Ragnar at the end of "A King's Ransom".
The Usurper: Historically, Aella is said to have become King of Northumbria by usurping Osberht.
Villain with Good Publicity: When Athelstan speaks of him in the third episode, it's with admiration. However, we see him in Episode 6 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 vs. 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
"Now it is our turn to deal with these pagans. But deal with them we shall."
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 warfare during his conflicts with the other kingdoms, Ecbert will need all of his strategic skill to deal with the new threat of the Norsemen.
Ambiguously Bi: Though he has children, the way he looks at Ragnar's naked body during their bath has a decidedly sexual component.
Anglo-Saxons: In charge of the most powerful Saxon kingdom, with plans to make it even more mighty.
Anti-Villain: Like King Aelle, his primary concern is the defense and expansion of his kingdom, and he doesn't seem to share his Norhumbrian counterpart's taste for needless cruelty. Further, his rule is fair and just. If he wasn't actively plotting to take over the rest of England, he'd be a model King.
Anti-Villain Team Up: He makes an alliance with King Aelle for the defense of England, as well as to divvy up the troubled Kingdom of Mercia between themselves.
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. He may have picked this up from being fostered at Charlemagne's court, as the Emperor was said to be fond of taking baths.
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.
Secret Keeper: Most of the Anglo-Saxons believe that a race of giants inhabited Britain before them, but Ecbert is well aware that the "giants" were actually the Romans. He's also well aware that many of the clergymen and commoners would find his fixation on the pagan Romans to be sinful, and therefore only reveals this knowledge to people he can trust.
The Strategist: He orchestrates the Anglo-Saxon counter-offensive, and delivers some brutal defeats upon the vikings.
Wake-Up Call Boss: He's the first among the Saxon kings to give the Vikings serious trouble, even forcing King Horik to leave Wessex altogether.
Prince Aethelwulf of Wessex
Played By: Moe Dunford
King Ecbert’s son and heir to the throne of Wessex.