Characters: Vikings

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  • Badass: They're very skilled warriors, to say the least.
  • Badass Beard: There's no shortage of epic beardage in this show because they're Norsemen.
  • Barbarian Longhair: If a Viking has long hair, it'll likely be this.
  • Beard of Barbarism: As Vikings, most of them have this style of beard.
  • Blood Knight: Because being such will allow them to enter the Halls of Odin, where the brave will live forever.
  • Genius Bruiser: They may not be book-smart, but watch any raid that happens over the course of the show, and it becomes clear that the Norsemen know what they're doing.
  • Grim Up North: That cold and barren place up north? They call it home.
  • Last of His Kind: The Norse are the last Germanic pagans left in Europe during the era this show is set.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Norse raiders.
  • Rated M for Manly: Par the course for Norsemen.
  • 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 and the norns. This belief cuts both ways, positive and negative. Ragnar for example, uses it to bolster his courage in battle. Horik, on the other hand, uses it to dismiss criticism when he makes a tactically imprudent move or two.

    King Ragnar 'Lodbrok' Sigurdsson 
Played By: Travis Fimmel

"Odin gave his eye to acquire knowledge. But I would give far more."

Ragnar Lodbrok is perhaps the greatest Norseman of his generation. A great warrior who rose to become king of the Northmen, he is driven in ensuring a glorious future of conquest and prosperity for his people, no matter the cost. Ragnar is deeply devoted to Odin, god of war and the slain, and sees himself as a descendant of this mighty deity.

Ragnar earned his fame in Earl Haraldson's many raids in the Slavo-Baltic lands, but swiftly became disillusioned with the Earl's insistence in raiding the east when the far more plentiful lands of the west lay untouched and ripe for the taking. Ragnar slew the Earl in personal combat, thus becoming lord of Kattegat. His later raids on the Angle and Saxon kingdoms of Brittania proved wildly successful, gaining him the patronage of King Horik I of Denmark. However, the alliance between the two quickly soured as Horik began to fear Ragnar usurping him as king and began to plot against him. Ironically, this sealed his downfall, as Ragnar was able to outmaneuver him and slay him, thus becoming King of Denmark.
  • Action Dad: What is a viking man? Someone who fights and takes care of his family.
  • A Father to His Men: Ragnar treats his closest warriors as well as his own family and makes it a point that all in his warband are to be seen as equals. This is the main quality that marks him out from the likes of Haraldson and Horik. Ragnar genuinely commands loyalty from his followers as a result of this approach, while they don't. Truth in Television as far Nordic and Germanic warbands went. These guys didn't get a wage like regular soldiers in say, Roman Legions did, they were paid in loot and gifts. If a leader wanted loyalty, he had to be generous.
  • Ambadassador: He acts as King Horik I's emissary to Jarl Borg in S 01 EP 9. Apparently, he's the latest in a long line. Borg is initially dismissive of him, though he wises up after he realizes he is indeed speaking to the man who single-handedly defeated a king of England.
  • A Threesome is Manly: He and Lagertha invite Athelstan to join them in bed. At the moment 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.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: To Athelstan, when he talks about how Christians give their wealth to the Church in order to save their souls; "What are their souls?".note 
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: He became the Earl and later, king, through Klingon Promotion.
  • An Axe to Grind: Favours an axe in battle.
  • Animal Motifs: Ravens. This is most likely symbolic of the god Odin, who was said to have raven familiars. More specifically, Odin in his capacity as the god of knowledge, which Ragnar seems to most closely identify with.
  • Anti-Hero: Out of all the pillaging and ransoming Vikings, he's the most heroic.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning:
    • When he slays Haraldson and is hailed as the new Earl of Kattegat.
    • Again when he headbutts Horik to death and is acclaimed king of the North, atop the Preikestolen, no less.note 
  • Badass: The premier viking warrior in this setting.
  • Badass Baritone: A borderline example, but particularly noticeable when he raises his voice.
  • Badass Boast: A surprisingly low key one after King Aella 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 much of Scandinavia, where exactly is never elaborated upon. There are some hints to suggest both Denmark and Sweden.
  • 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.
  • Badass Grandpa: Not old enough to be a straight example, but he is a literal grandfather by the third season with Bjorn fathering a daughter. Also, he's pushing 40 now, which would have been quite advanced by the standards of the 8th century.
  • Bald of Awesome: After shaving his hair off in memory of Athelstan. It's also a callback to when the latter tried (and failed) to regain his tonsure in the first season.
  • Barbarian Hero: Very much so in the show, though quite a bit more cerebral and intellectually curious than the standard. He's still extremely savage and warlike regardless. note 
  • Barbarian Longhair: A long, plaited scalp braid. Averted in season 3, where his hair gets progressively shorter until he decides to go for a full-on Bald of Awesome look after shaving his head in mourning for Athelstan.
  • Berserk Button: You really don't want to threaten or endanger Ragnar's family in any way; just ask Borg or Horik. Oh wait you can't because they're both dead.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Same thing but he's the younger of the two. Ragnar is extremely protective of Rollo.
  • Blood Knight: VIKING!
    "We fight. That is how we win, and that is how we die."
  • Blood-Splattered Warrior: Every time he gets into battle, he swiftly becomes covered in blood. None of it is ever his own, of course.
  • The Berserker: Restraint? In battle, you say? Hah! Ragnar doesn't know the MEANING of the words!
  • Cain and Abel: The Abel to Rollo's Cain because he isn't treacherous.
  • Challenging the Chief: Becomes earl through a formal challenge to the death. Now, after slaying King Horik of Denmark, Ragnar's inherited that title as well.
  • Composite Character: To an extent, with Gurim, who was the real brother of Hrolfr Ganger (Rollo) in history.
  • Cool Sword: The Sword of Kings, taken from King Horik of Denmark who has no further need of it.
  • Darker and Edgier: While he was never a softie, a series of personal hardships has led him to become progressively more ruthless and bloodthirsty. It culminates finally with Athelstan's murder, where Ragnar fully becomes a much darker and vengeful man.
    Ragnar: (talking to Athelstan's corpse) There is nothing to console me now. I am changed.
  • 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.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Athelstan's murder hits him pretty hard.
    "Forgive me, my friend. Not for what I have done, but for what I am about to do."
  • Determinator: Ragnar is a very determined man, to say the least.
  • Divine Lineage: Claims descent from Odin.
  • The Dreaded: Seriously, everyone knows not to fuck with Ragnar.
    Kalf: I have had a dream where Ragnar Lothbrok stands before me, eating my liver with my blood all over his mouth. I beg him to stop, telling him that the liver is the seat of all life but he does not. He only smiles, and keeps eating. [[...]] Who would not fear a farmer who rose to become a king?
  • Doting Parent: If there's one good thing that can be said of Ragnar, it's that his children mean all the world to him.
  • Dual Wielding: Seems to favour this fighting style, though he can go for Sword-and-Board as well.
  • Duel to the Death: His personal combat with Haraldson.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Destroying several Balto-Slavic warriors in rapid succession in the show's first episode, to drive home what a badass he is.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Much like Erik, he wasn't as gung-ho about killing the defenseless monks at Lindisfarne. While he doesn't seem to disapprove of some of the more brutal antics of his fellow Norsemen (ie: torturing the bishop at Winchester to death) he seems to prefer to abstain from such acts.
  • Faking the Dead: He conquers Paris by pretending to be dead.
  • 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. 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.
  • Four-Star Badass: Ragnar more or less ended the Mercian civil war single-handedly, within a few days, something that not even King Ecbert and Princess Kwenthryth with all their resources and the aid of Norse mercenaries could do. Every engagement where he's personally in command inevitably results in a Curb-Stomp Battle in the favour of the Vikings, with himself often accounting for at least half of the enemy's extensive casualties — In fact, the only times where he was ever in a losing battle were almost directly due to him relinquishing command to a lesser general (ie: Horik or Floki). He single-handedly conquered the impregnable city of Paris, something that until that moment had never been accomplished. Not even by the Huns.
  • Front Line General: Ragnar is always where the fighting is thickest. During the first siege of Paris he basically carries the walls by himself before being thrown off by ten other guys.
  • 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.
    • Most prominently in his siege of Paris. He sees that Athelstan was right, it is nigh impregnable. What does he do? pretend to convert to Christianity and infiltrate the place from the inside of course!
  • Glory Seeker: A rare positively depicted example, as renown was perhaps the most important thing to the Northmen.
  • Good Parents: To all his children. The death of his daughter absolutely devastates him, for one thing.
  • 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 Haraldson 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.
  • Guttural Growler: Veers into this when he's raising his voice or is angry.
  • Hard Head:
    • In the Season 2 finale, Ragnar literally smashes Horik's face in with his own head. Repeatedly.
    • By season 3, although he doesn't use it for murder as much, he has kept the headbutt habit. A single headbutt from him is enough to knock someone down to the ground and give them a black eye.
  • Heroic Lineage: Much like his historical counterpart, Ragnar believes himself to be a son of Odin. This was actually a fairly common practice amongst nobility (and bastards, Odin had a 'lot' of bastards), but Ragnar does entreat Odin for aid at one point and seems to receive it, fighting his way free of a press of enemies in season one.
  • Historical-Domain Character: The historical Ragnar Lodbrok is regarded as a hero in modern Scandinavia.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: More in the sense that the show attributes to him a lot of things the real Ragnar (if he existed at all) was never claimed as doing: Rediscovering England, entering deals with King Ecbert, stimulating good Pagan-Christian relations (or at least attempting to), killing the tyranic King Horik and so forth.
  • 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 compromises 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.
  • Instant Expert: Becomes functionally bilingual impressively quickly. It's 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'.note  So Ragnar becoming fluent in Old English would have actually been pretty easy.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: With Tostig, a warrior old enough to be his father.
  • In Harm's Way: Given how Ragnar is often the first into the fray when battle comes, one could say he fits.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: By itself, his gaze is fairly unique. When combined with Blood-Splattered Warrior, he's pretty frightening to look upon.
  • 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 since becoming a sacrifice for the gods was considered an honour amongst pagan Scandinavians.
  • Large Ham: Ragnar's a mostly reserved guy, but if a speech must be made, then it shall be a SPEECH!
    Ragnar: For it is always good to travel with hope and with courage, but better still TO TRAVEL WITH KNOWLEDGE!!! GRAAAAAAGH!!!!
  • Living Legend: Ragnar is considered in-universe to be something akin to an Icon. Hell, even a number of Anglo-Saxons are in awe of him if they aren't busy being terrified of him.
  • 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 Rollo, 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. Then he just tears it out and goes back to cutting down multitudes of foes.
  • Maniac Tongue: He did this when he shanked the archbishop of Paris inside a cathedral, in full view of a Frankish king and all the city's nobility.
  • 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.
    • Then again when he's informed of Athelstan's supposed death at the hands of King Ecbert.
    • Again when Athelstans truly does die.
  • Manipulative Bastard:
    • 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.
    • What makes this even more awesome? This was during a full-on attack of Kattegat by Horik's men. His men are slaughtered as soon as they're within the town, his children are put to death at the same time, and by the time he staggers all the way to the great hall, he sees that all the people he had tried to manipulate into working for him had been playing him all along on Ragnar's orders where he is promptly massacred by Ragnar himself. In other words, Ragnar manipulated Horik into willfully walking into his own annihilation while still deluding him into thinking he had everything under control. Seriously, Ragnar must be Walter White's distant Scandinavian ancestor or something.
  • 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.
  • Modest Royalty: After ascending as Earl, Ragnar more or less continues to dress as he did when he was still a raider. Of course, that's because most Norse leaders of the time ''were'' also raiders and he still is one. It also contrasts the rich fur cloaks and fine clothes that Haraldson wore.
  • Good Is Not Soft: He's closer to 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.
    • 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. Ragnar reacts very emotionally when Athelstan suggests leaving Kattegat after having rediscovered his Christianity.
  • 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. See also Blood Knight.
  • 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: Subverted in the sense that Ragnar was upper-middle class by the structure of his society, but his rise from raider to Jarl to King certainly counts as one of the biggest in history.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: His occupation is to enter a town and taking everything of value.
  • 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 Jesus: He's a norsen pagan so it's more like 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 grandfather.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Generally he's the blue to Lagertha's and Rollo's red because he is more cool and stragetic. Though when his blood is up he needs to be restrained by the former two.
  • Reluctant Ruler: "Power is always dangerous. It attracts the worst and corrupts the best. Power is only given to those who are prepared to lower themselves to pick it up."
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • He gave a massive one to Horik and Borg for wasting warriors in petty disputes over land when they could be conquering new worlds in the West.
    • Bjorn, for letting his pregnant wife come with him to Wessex. It's especially poignant because Bjorn had essentially endangered his family because he couldn't put Thorunn in line. When Ragnar needed Lagertha to look after the children when he raided way back in the first season, he physically fought her. That Bjorn couldn't show the same backbone, especially when it could have cost him his child, is absolutely disgusting to him.
    Ragnar: She is with child, and you still let her come? (slaps Bjorn harsly) She will most likely die, both her and your child inside her. Why? Because you have the strength of a man, but the will of a little girl! I cannot believe you are my son. (hits him again) I can't stand to even look at you.
    • He gives an absolutely EPIC one to the rest of the Vikings, letting them know he's had it up to here with their disunity and jackassery. He's also takes this as an opportunity to intimidate the self-styled "leaders" of the thus far failed siege (Erlendr, Floki, Rollo and Lagertha) into line.
    "I have something to say. I did not become Earl because I aspired to be one. It came about because of other peoples' actions (death glares at Lagertha). And I did not become King out of ambition, but once again I had no choice, as a result of other peoples' actions (turns to regard Erlendr, who flinches). But nonetheless, I am King. KING RAGNAR! THAT IS MY NAME! KING RAGNAR. What does a king do, Bjorn? ((...)) YES! Good. He rules. And as ruler (turns to Lagertha again, who is silent) I have the last say. ME!!! (turns to Lagertha, Rollo, Erlendr, and Floki in turn) NOT YOU! NOT YOU! NOT YOU! AND NOT YOU! You have all had your "ideas" AND THEY HAVE ALL FAILED!!! I WILL NOT. (Stunned Silence) Now, with no more discussion, we shall meet the Franks tomorrow.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: In a society that so closely equates warrior-skill with leadership as the Norse did, being one is practically a job requirement for Ragnar, especially as king. Not for nothing was the sword considered the symbol of a Germanic king's temporal power.
  • 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. note 
  • Screaming Warrior: He's managed to weaponise 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 and then king.
  • Social Climber: Over the course of two seasons, he goes from a farmer, to an earl and finally to 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.
  • The Conqueror: One of the greatest Viking conquerors to ever live. Over the course of the series, he comes to rule the whole of Denmark and south Sweden, attains land in Wessex and is now poised to conquer the jewel of Frankia itself — Paris.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork:
    • It's quite obvious that he has nothing but distaste for the Anglo-Saxons (well, so long as they're not named Athelstan), but he goes along with them for the purposes of peace because he knows his people can't make enemies out of everyone they meet. He's visibly exasperated at Ecbert's attempts to get them to weigh in on Mercia's Succession Crisis and it's clear he doesn't trust him and has no respect for him as a man. He makes it very clear he only plays along for the sake of his people getting their land. Of course, when he finds out that Ecbert ordered the settlement destroyed, Ragnar makes it very clear that the kid's gloves come off.
    • He also doesn't think highly of Aethelwulf.
    Athelwulf: My friend- (gets shoved backwards)
    Ragnar: (smiling) I don't like you.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Takes several from the beginning to the end of season 3. In the first season he is a Happily Married devoted husband. By season 3 he is Your Cheating Heart to Aslaug, Would Hurt a Child and Would Hurt A Woman after murdering Horik's daughters.
  • Tragic Keepsake: He takes Athelstan's cross pendant as one after the latter's murder.
  • Tranquil Fury: This is Ragnar's preferred form of blood-lusting rage. As he himself puts it, and quite succinctly too, "beware the fury of a patient man."
    • 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.
    Ragnar: (seething with fury) Since you consort with eagles, I will carve a Blood Eagle on your back.
    Borg: No... No.
    Ragnar: (still seething) Yesss. I will tear the meat from your back and tear your ribs outward, and rip out your very lungs and set from upon your shoulders... Like wings...
    • 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. The fact he literally says not a word before the trap is sprung makes it all the more terrifying.note 
    • Also has this reaction when he finds out their settlement in Wessex was destroyed.
    Ragnar: (embracing the weeping Sole Survivor) I tell you this, Floki, both Ecbert and his son shall feel the wrath of the Gods.
  • 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. Those were made with blood.
  • Villain Protagonist: It's possible to view him as this, depending on your view of Norse culture and Saxon culture, as well as schemking tendencies on Ragnar's part. As happens in a lot of Norse sagas, the farther along the story goes the farther onto the "villain" side of things he seems to slide, so far in Season 3 he has begun alienating his wife, son and amicable ex-wife by doing things to consolidate his power and fame.
  • Warrior Prince: 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. That and generosity.
  • Warrior Poet: He recites the Runatal from the Havamal very epicly in Episode 9.
  • 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...
    Ragnar: Perhaps that makes us equal.
  • Worthy Opponent: To Haraldson and vice versa.
    • Also to King Ecbert, both on the battlefield and diplomatically
  • Your Cheating Heart: With Asluag to Lagertha, before he married her and Lagertha walked out rather then be co-wives. It ought to be noted that according to Early Middle Ages Germanic Law (of which Viking Age Scandinavia laws are a descendant) sleeping around with an unmarried woman, even if you are married, is not considered adultery. note 

Played By: Katheryn Winnick

"You couldn't kill me if you tried for a hundred years."

First wife of Ragnar. Rises to become earl of Hedeby after leaving Kattegat. A fearless warrior and bold leader in her own right.
  • 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. After the second season's timeskip, she is an Earl herself and fights right alongside Bjorn in battle.
  • 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. Then she attained status as the Earl of Hedeby, effectively leading a corps of shield-maidens and raiders against western lands in Season 2.
  • Badass: Like her first husband, she is fierce.
  • Badass Boast: The page quote. Though it wasn't a boast, more like an objective statement of fact.
  • Badass In Charge: When Ragnar's away, she calls the shots. By the end of Season 2, she's an Earl in her own right, has an army of shield-maidens, and fights alongside her men in battle. In the first half of Season 3 she is in charge of the Northmen settlement in Wessex.
  • Barbarian Heroine: Just like her first husband; she was offended that he went raiding without her.
  • Bodyguard Babes: Lagertha's personal bodyguards are all female.
  • 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.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Beating the crap single-handedly out of two would-be rapists.
  • 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 and eventually they divorce.
  • Heroines Prefer Swords: Ragnar sometimes uses an axe but she always has a sword.
  • The High Queen: Has the attitude; wise, reasonable, definitely not arm candy.
  • Hot-Blooded:
    • Deconstructed. Lagertha is a brave and ferocious warrior with an unbreakable code of honour, but she's also very impulsive and prone to poor decision making. Her knee-jerk reaction to Ragnar taking a second wife as a personal insult to her leads her to becoming trapped in an abusive relationship with Earl Sigvard, who was apparently insane. This eventually culminates in her murdering Sigvard in front of the entire hall, after one abuse too many. So far so good, she's Earl now and a power in her own right. However, whatever Sigvard was, Lagertha murdered Hedeby's chieftain, her lawful husband, in front of his oath-sworn warriors. Whatever she did afterwards, in an honour-bound society that takes fidelity to its lord quite seriously, Lagertha was always going to be unpopular after that. This eventually culminates in season 3, where Lagertha is quite easily usurped as Earl of Hedeby and literally has nothing left to do but live with Ragnar anyway.
    • It also came up in the first season, where Lagertha attempted to keep Knut from raping a Saxon woman. Leaving aside the fact that this was basically the most normal thing that could happen during a raid, Lagertha's murder of Earl Haraldson's man aboard their ship would have been viewed with great suspicion at best. Granted Knut tried to rape her too, so she was ultimately justified in killing him, but that would have been hard to explain without at least one witness to the event. In fact the first thing that Ragnar exasperatedly asks when she tells him is "did anyone else see it happen?". Come the return to Kattegat, Haraldson of course notes Knut's absence and Ragnar, in an attempt to spare his wife any punishment, takes the fall for it. He is then arrested and tries to argue before a court that he had to kill Knut for trying to rape his lawful wife, which seems to work out at first, before Lagertha is provoked by Haraldson into blurting out the truth, in an attempt to save Ragnar. In doing so she basically ruins his case and makes them both look like liars. You can really see this in Ragnar's expression during the scene, he basically has a "What the hell, Lagertha?" look on his face. Had Rollo not come forward and corroborated Ragnar's version of events, they both likely would have been found guilty.
  • 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.
  • Lady of War: The barbarian variation of this trope. In other words, a heavy emphasis on the war.
  • Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: Fights primarily with a shield.
  • Mama Bear:
    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: It's implied that she became barren. The miscarriage of Ragnar's unborn son seems to convince him that Lagertha can no longer bear children.
    "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.
  • Pretty in Mink: On few occasions, she makes an appearance wearing a snow-white wolf fur on her shoulders, which reminds of her ascension from a humble farmer to high social position.
  • 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. Then she went back to rags, since she was usurped by her steward Kalf in season 3.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Once Ragnar becomes Earl, she stands in as the local authority figure in his absence. Then, several years later, Lagertha becomes an Earl in her own right, which firmly establishes her into this position.
  • Screaming Warrior: She yells more often than others in battle.
  • 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?"

Ragnar Lothbrok's firstborn son and a great warrior in all respects, just as his father before him. Is given the kenning "Ironside" by his father, in light of his seeming invincibility in battle. Is poised to succeed his father as King of the Northmen.

As a child this character exhibits the following:

  • 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?
    Bjorn: I... I would ask her to sit down.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Ragnar and Erik used to call him 'Little Man' when he was younger.
  • 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?
    Bjorn: Yes.
    Ragnar: And what does a man do?
    Bjorn: He fights.
    Ragnar: Good. And...?
    Bjorn: And he looks after his family.
  • 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.
  • 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. 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!

As an adult this character exhibits the following:

  • Authority Equals Asskicking: His father's most trusted lieutenant and right-hand man, and just as able as him to kick asses.
  • 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 beats her.
  • Badass: After the timeskip, he has firmly joined his parents and uncle in this trope because he is officially a warrior.
  • Blood Knight: Like father, like son, like warrior culture.
  • 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.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The first time he's seen is in combat training with Ragnar.
  • 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.
  • Morality Chain: 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.
  • Oedipus Complex: Adores his mother and his girlfriend is her spitting image. He's quite conscious about it.
  • Rated M for Manly: He tries.
    Rollo: You still can't grow a beard.
  • Red Baron: After fighting a pitched battle without sustaining any wounds, he becomes Bjorn "Ironside", which is the name history will remember him by.
  • So Proud of You: At the first encounter after the time skip, it is very clear how pleased Ragnar is with how his son turned out.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Gives one of these to Ragnar, after he sleeps with Aslaug.
    • Ragnar gives him a MASSIVE one in Warrior's Fate for allowing his girlfriend Porunn to join the fights against Princess Kwenthrith's uncle and brother, resulting in a massive head injury that leaves her unconscious at the conclusion of the battle. What pisses Ragnar off is the fact that Bjorn let Porunn fight AT ALL with the knowledge she may be pregnant with their child without much resistance on Bjorn's part.

    Gyda Ragnarsdottir 
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.
  • Adorably Precocious Child: Like her brother she is mature for her age.
  • Dies Wide Open: After she succumbs to plague.
  • 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 real life 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 always and goes to her mother when her period comes, and she dies the episode after from something completely unrelated to her menstrual cycle.
  • Nice Girl: See The Heart.
  • The Quiet One: She doesn't talk as much as her family members.
  • 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 has nothing on her own.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: She and Bjorn have 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.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: The most unambigiously good member of Ragnar's family dies due to plague.

     The Princes 

These are the younger sons of the union between Aslaug and Ragnar.

  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Hvitserk, Ubbe, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, Ivar the Boneless... not to mention Bjorn Ironside, mentioned elsewhere on this page.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Just barely averted. Ubbe and Hvitserk walk out onto a frozen lake, and the ice cracks from under them. Had it not been for Siggy, they'd have died.
  • 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.

     Earl Haraldson 
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.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Downplayed. We don't see him fight until his duel with Ragnar (who was injured at the time).
  • 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."
  • Badass Grandpa: He is much older than Ragnar and still fights him in a duel. Granted, Ragnar was injured, but even lasting as long as he did puts Haraldson in a high echelon of badassery.
  • Badass In Charge: Of the Norse tribe before Ragnar succeeds him.
  • Barbarian Longhair: He's the Earl of the Norsemen of Kattegat, and has shoulder-length hair. Though rather well managed, given his status as a noble.
  • Big Bad: He is the source of the initial conflict and Ragnar's direct antagonist.
  • Blood Knight: Going so far as to deliberately disadvantage himself to draw out the fight with Ragnar - casting aside his first shield and letting him destroy the second after Ragnar breaks his sword.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Dishes some of this out to Rollo, resulting in his permanent scarring.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Sees enemies behind every corner.
  • 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.
  • Deadpan Snarker: A few times.
    "Oh yes, yes, choice, yes. I have heard these rumors, these stories, that if we sail westward we will somehow find a land that is rich, and plentiful."
    "You want to eat in my hall, sail on my ships, is there anything else you want from me?"
    (upon hearing that Ragnar wants to face him in single-combat) "Well, he is a descendant of Odin!"
    (at the trial) "Well, it's unfortunate we can't find out who did it because they both take credit for it."
  • Disc One Final Boss: Ragnar defeats him midway through the first season.
  • 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.
  • Duel to the Death: With Ragnar.
  • 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.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He tries to play a Benevolent Boss, but does a very, very bad job of it.
  • 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...
  • Heartbroken Badass: He had nightmares about finding his son's dead bodies.
    Siggy: You need to rest to sleep.
    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: See Bad Boss above.
  • 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.
  • Starter Villain: He is Ragnar's first opponent and many more follow.
  • Tragic Villain: Ultimately revealed to be like Ragnar +20 or so years that was done in by paranoia and heartbreak.
  • Viking Funeral: A full episode is centered around his funeral, including setting him in a boat which they push off and torch.
  • Warrior Earl: As his battle with Ragnar proves.
  • 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: Implied to be to her late sons and currently 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.
    • This also extends to children that aren't hers. Asking her to kill Ragnar's young sons was a stupid move, Horik.
    • Siggy also saves Hvitserk and Ubbe from drowning when they fall into a frozen lake, which ultimately costs her her life.
  • 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.

    Duke Rollo Sigurdsson 
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.
  • Animal Motifs: The Bear. In the script for the first episode, he is initially referred to as "Bear Man" and the Seer even says "the bear will marry a princess" or something along those lines in season 3.
  • 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'.
  • Armour Piercing Question: When Ragnar ascends to the status of Earl;
    "How will we ever be equal now, my brother?"
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Prefers offensive strategies.
    Rollo: We should attack while they are weak. How long will it take for them to raise another army?
    Ragnar: Attack! Attack! Attack! That's all he ever says.
  • Axe Crazy: When he gets angry... You can only hope to outrun him.
  • An Axe to Grind: Uses a Daneaxe, the BFS of axes.
  • 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 Baritone: Speaks in a low growl.
  • Badass Beard: In a similar vein to his brother; thick and long.
  • Badass Cape: A fur cloak, when it's cold.
  • 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.
  • Barbarian Longhair: Managed more conventionally than Ragnar's.
  • The Berserker: His state in battle. Particularly noticeable in the battle with the Northumbrians Saxons when they double-cross the Norsemen.
  • The Brute: If one is of the opinion that Ragnar and the other Vikings are Villain Protagonists, then Rollo is the intimidating thug that follows his leader around.
  • Blood Knight:
    "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; in many ways it's better than Bjorn's relationship with Ragnar.
  • 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.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Hits the bottle hard after Siggy's death.
  • 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.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Get some nasty facial scars from Haraldson's torture.
  • 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.
  • Hero Antagonist: His job as Duke of Normandy is to defend Paris from his brother's hordes.
  • Heroic BSOD: Suffers quite a few, though notable ones thus far are the one he suffers after Ragnar becomes Earl and the one after he receives news of Siggy's death.
  • 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.
  • The Lancer: To Ragnar; being brothers makes contrast between the scholarly warrior and the bloodthirsty warrior all the more striking.
  • 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.
  • Multi-Melee Master: A master of swords, axes, and hunting knives.
  • 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.
  • Not Afraid to Die: He doesn't seek it, but nor will he court it when it comes.
    "Death was on its way to take Kauko. Do not pity him — envy him. For where he is now; Valkyries have taken him home to Valhalla. At this very moment, he's drinking ale with the gods."
  • One-Handed Zweihänder: Often wields that two handed battle-axe in a single hand and a shield in the other. Which gives an indication beforehand of how strong this guy is.
  • One-Man Army: Like his brother.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Again like his brother, but he isn't claiming to be Thor's brother.
  • Pragmatic Villainy:
    • 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!
  • Pet the Dog:
    • He gives an ill, old Saxon man a drink of water in "Trial". He then steals the pitcher and glass, but still.
    • There's also the cute moments he shares with his nephew.
    • He also takes the time to pull Bjorn and Gyda out of the way before joining the fray himself when the Earl's men storm Ragnar's house.
    • After Thorunn is wounded in battle and Ragnar gives Bjorn a vicious What the Hell, Hero? over letting her come on a raid when he thought she was with child, Rollo is the one who reassures Bjorn that Thorunn will live and that he must be strong for her.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: His modus operandi.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red to Ragnar's blue.
  • 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.
  • Real Men Love Odin:
    • 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.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Goes into this state in battle.
  • We All Die Someday: "ALL MUST DIE SOMEDAY!"

Played By: Gustaf Skarsgård

"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.
  • Action Dad: As of the Season 2 finale.
  • Ambiguously Bi: He invites Torstein to bed with him and Helga. However, Torstein and Helga 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 up to the viewer's imagination as to just how the threesome was consummated.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: He definitely has some sort of undiagnosed mental illness - on some level he's aware of it, at one point fearing that any children he fathers will be like him.
  • An Axe to Grind: Wields a small hatchet.
  • Ax-Crazy: When he goes into battle, comes off as this.
  • Badass: Possible ADHD aside, he's still a Viking. Taken Up to Eleven during the battle between King Horik and Jarl Borg, when he fights both Borg and Rollo simultaneously.
  • Badass Beard: Kind of a theme by now, don't you think?
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Should you ever; this guy says he can talk with trees and jumps out from hiding to scare people but he is also a Viking warrior and a shipwright.
  • Big Eater: Seems so.
    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.
    • Season 3 makes it clear that he does hate Athelstan for being a Christian, and thinks that allowing a Christian among them will bring doom to them all.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Floki is... weird and a brilliant shipwright
  • As You Know/Captain Obvious/Mr. Exposition: Explaining Viking mythology to a ship full of Vikings. To be fair, he was being dramatic at the time and it isn't that gratuitous.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: A weird dude, to say the least.
  • Dance Battler: When not locked in the shieldwall, his fighting style tends to be very quick and agile, making up for a lack of a shield by sheer evasion.
  • Dual Wielding: Wields a hatchet and a dagger to deadly effect. After his wedding, he trades the dagger for a sword.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Leaping out of the bushes with a mask on and shrieking.
  • Fake Defector: Convinces King Horik that he is going to betray Ragnar and kill his son only to reveal that he is playing him and has always been loyal to Ragnar.
  • Faux Affably Evil: It is only because the story is largely told from the Viking point of view that he is a protagonist. He is a violent psychopath, more than happy to murder anyone with smile on his face. Imagine The Joker as a Viking, and you've got quite lot of his personality down.
  • Foreshadowing: In Season 2, he freely admits that he can't keep a secret. Horik will eventually learn this the hard way.
  • The Fundamentalist: See Religious Bruiser, below.
  • 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.
    • Although Season 3 does make it abundantly clear that he does resent Athelstan and is uncomfortable with how much faith Ragnar has in him, primarily because of Athelstan's religion.
  • Hidden Depths: You'd think that he was a crazy madman by looking at him (Skarsgård does play him as though Floki has severe bipolar disorder, according to interviews) 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, and dotes on his woman (later wife), Helga.
    • 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.
  • Large Ham: The Gods love my boat!
  • Let's Get Dangerous: Out of battle, it's kind of hard to remember this guy is a hardened warrior. In battle however, all joviality goes out of him and he becomes driven only to kill his enemies.
  • Lean and Mean: He's notably lankier than the other Vikings, but is rather tall, he just tends to hunch a lot. As for the "mean" part, Beware the Silly Ones.
  • The Medic: Possesses medical knowledge of how to clean and treat wounds. It's advanced enough that Lagertha refers to it as magic.
  • Mythology Gag: Floki has many parallels to Loki, but the most easily overlooked is that they are both shipbuilders.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Whenever he's not acting crazy, it's an indicator that shit's about to hit the fan.
    • The most notable instance is after being told by Helga that she is carrying his child. He has a literal "Odin, what have I 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.
  • Quizzical Tilt: Does this sometimes.
  • 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 
    • 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 Helga 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.
    • Throughout Season 3 he continually tries to convince Ragnar to stop taking Athelstan's counsel so seriously, in fear that Athelstan is not loyal to the other Northmen and that the gods will rain down punishment on them for being so accepting of a Christian.
  • 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.
  • Undying Loyalty: To the gods. As he explains, while some men lust for women or treasure, he only has lust to please the gods. As a case in point, this exposition is spoken to his wife.
  • Villainous Breakdown: He undergoes one during the siege of Paris when his wooden towers end up failing.

    Erik Marteinn 
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.
  • An Axe to Grind: There's a lot of axe-grinding in this show, you know.
  • 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 Baritone: As one would expect from Vladimir Kulich.
  • Badass In Charge: Was a second-in-command to Ragnar.
  • Badass Longcoat: His cloak resembles one.
  • 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.
  • Barbarian Hero: Like Ragnar.
  • Barbarian Longhair: Easily has the longest, most Death-Metal looking hair-do of all the Vikings.
  • The Big Guy: He towers over every other man in Kattegat, is built like a tank, and is a One-Man Army.
  • Blood Knight: Though he prefers it against worthy adversaries.
  • Braids of Barbarism: His beard is tied into two forks, most prominently.
  • Co-Dragons: Could essentially be seen as Ragnar's Dragon alongside Rollo before his death.
  • Even Raiders Have Standards: He doesn't approve when Rollo and the other raiders start hacking apart defenseless monks.
  • Happily Married: As seen in Episode 3. It only makes his death all the more heart-wrenching.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: As striking as Ragnar's.
  • 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.
  • One-Man Army: More effective then Ragnar in this capacity.
  • Rated M for Manly: Everything about him symoblizes the manliness of the Vikings.
  • Sacrificial Lion: He was introduced as The Big Guy of Ragnar's Raiding Party, but dies early in the series.
  • 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.
  • Badass Cape: Wears one when raiding.
  • Badass Boast: "Yes, I am old. But I have been a warrior all my life!", which means, "the mere fact that I am an old man in spite of being a warrior means I can kick all of your asses".
  • Bald of Awesome: The first thing a viewer will notice is his lack of hair. The next is his blood thirst.
  • Battle Cry: He screams the name of Odin in battle, as if to let him know he'll be coming soon.
  • The Berserker: He's like a raging wildfire in battle. Even Ragnar is in awe of him.
  • The Big Guy: A tall man (Angus MacInnes is 6'2), but also big, broad, powerful, and imposing.
  • Braids of Barbarism: That plait he's tied his beard into.
  • 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.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: He's old enough to be Ragnar's father.
  • Mauve Shirt: He gets a lot of characterization in his introduction and quickly dies. This is why he joined so he's happy about that.
  • Lightning Bruiser: In battle, Tostig exhibits incredible strength, a great deal of stamina, and ferocious speed that all belies his extreme old age.
  • Not Afraid to Die: See Death Seeker.
  • Old Master: When the other Vikings see his fighting skill, they realize that the position of baddest motherfucker is already filled.
  • Old Soldier: Such a superlative warrior, that the only way he could have been killed was from behind.
  • One-Man Army: He gets a body count of half a dozen at the end of "A King's Ransom".
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Of all the Vikings he's the most eager for battle and a glorious death.
  • Retired Badass: Ragnar wisely brings him out of it when Tostig asks to come along.
  • Reluctant Retiree: Oh, what's that? You think you can keep him from the battlefield? Get between him and the fight. See how long you last.
  • Screaming Warrior: See The Berserker.
  • Unstoppable Rage: See The Berserker.

Played By: Diarmaid Murtagh

"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.
  • Badass Baritone: Has a deep, grunting voice.
  • Badass Beard: Notable even amongst his fellow Northmen for its length and girth.
  • Barbarian Hero: Again like Ragnar.
  • The Berserker: Goes into a rage in battle, roaring and snapping the necks of Saxons.
  • Braids of Barbarism: Has his beard braided thrice.
  • Character Death: In "Sacrifice".
  • Dies Wide Open: At his sacrifice.
  • The Dragon: To Ragnar, after Episode 6 to replace Erik.
  • Co-Dragons: With Rollo.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: The sacrifice scene was hauntingly magnificent.
  • 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."
  • Lightning Bruiser: He swings that several lb axe of his like it was stick.
  • Neck Snap: Does this to armed and armoured Saxons in the thick of battle after losing his axe.
  • Screaming Warrior: During the battle at the climax of "A King's Ransom".
  • Undying Loyalty: To Ragnar.

    King Horik Gøtriksson 
Played By: Donal Logue

"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.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: In order to become King, he defeated his six uncles in combat one by one.
  • 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.
  • Badass Beard: Viking.
  • Badass In Charge: Of all of Denmark (historically, he was the sole King of Denmark).
  • Barbarian Longhair: Long hair was a sign of manliness in Old Germanic societies.
  • 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.
  • Berserk Button: Given his devotion to the Norse gods, he is absolutely incensed by Christianity's denial of their existence. Any Christian who falls into his clutches can only pray for a relatively quick death.
  • 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.
  • Big Good: He's the King of Denmark and Ragnar pledges his loyalty to him. Thus, he's the highest authority among marauding warriors.
  • 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.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He truly loved his son.
  • 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.
    Horik: Of course, I do. These things interest me.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Yeah, that Horik. Loosely.
  • 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.
  • Large Ham: Shows himself to be a bit theatrical.
    Horik: I have heard about Christians! And their god! And... are you still Christian?
    Athelstan: No.
    Horik: OF COURSE NOT! How could you be a Christian and walk among our gods?!
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Believes that Floki and Siggy can be trusted to help him bring down Ragnar. They can't.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: His approach to battle is essentially to say "To Hel with planning, let's just charge straight at the enemy!"
  • 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.
  • Not So Different:
    • 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.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Viking.
    "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!"
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Unless he sees you as a potential threat to his power, he's fair and affable.
  • Rousing Speech: See Proud Warrior Race Guy above.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: In addition to his exploits that won him the throne, Horik also fights in the shieldwall alongside his men.
  • Supporting Leader: Ragnar is The Protagonist and pledges loyalty to him at the end of first season.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Plays hnefatafl with Ragnar to pass the time. They both use it as an opportunity to suss each other out.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Ragnar gives both him and Borg one of these after their battle, chiding them for wasting lives against each other when they could be conquering new lands in the West.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Sensing that Ragnar has a weakness for his family, he tries to get Floki and Siggy to murder Ragnar's children.
  • You Killed My Father: Towards his uncles. His mother and siblings were also thrown into the mix.

Played By: David Pearse

"I'd advise you all against such rash action. There is no way you could prevail."

Bondsman to the late Earl Haraldson, Svein seems devoted to the failing lord in all ways. Cruel and sadistic by nature, he nonetheless falls quickly beside his lord when Haraldson is slain.
  • The Archer: The one time he participates in battle. He's the one to deal Ragnar his most severe wounds during the Earl's raid.
  • Bald of Evil: All the other Vikings have full heads of hair. note 
  • Beard of Evil: Because he's an unrepentant child-murderer.
  • Character Death: Just a few seconds after Haraldson.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Perhaps as a result of being around Haraldson for extended periods of time. They make a pretty good team.
    Floki: (to Haraldson) Ragnar Lothbrok challenges you to personal combat.
    Svein: Ragnar Lothbrok has a very high opinion of himself.
    Haraldson: Well, he is a descendant of Odin.
  • The Dragon: To Earl Haraldson he's the Number Two in his evil doings.
  • 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.
  • The Stoic: A very cold man but he roars and screeches for retribution when his earl is killed.
  • Torture Technician: Dishes out long and painful torture to Rollo before Haraldson steps in to take over.
  • Undying Loyalty: His loyalty to Haraldson was genuine, as was his shock when the Earl was slain.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Earl commands and he is nothing if not loyal to the Earl.

Played By: George Blagden

"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.
  • Anglo-Saxons: A former monk of Lindisfarne.
  • 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. Then 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 Beard: Has grown one in the eighth episode as a sign of how close he is to Going Native.
  • 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.
  • Badass Longrobe: His priest habit has a Badass Pacifist vibe.
  • Birth/Death Juxtaposition: Somewhat. At the beginning of the episode, his son (he doesn't know of) is born. At the end of the episode, he dies.
  • 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.
  • Character Death: Killed by Floki, who believed he needed to be sacrificed for turning against the old gods.
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • Decomposite Character: Aethelwulf's historical role of biological father of Alfred the Great is given to this here fictional Northumbrian turned Norseman.
  • Doomed Hometown: The monastery of Lindisfarne, as depicted, went down in history as the first recorded Viking raid in England.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Maybe; some guys at the Ritual Sacrifice might have been interested in him.
  • 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.
  • Face Death with Dignity: He calmly lets Floki drive an axe into his skull, with a simple "Lord receive my soul."
  • 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.
  • Happiness in Slavery:
    • 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. 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-Face Revolving Door: This door has a Heel-Faith Turn set of hindges. 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.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Doesn't necessarily agree with everything Ragnar does, but he'll not gainsay him.
  • Nice Guy: He's a monk for a religion based around love and forgiveness and is living with Vikings.
  • Non-Action Guy: Put in charge of taking care of Ragnar and Lagertha's household despite having demonstrated no capacity for violence. He can still grip an axe when the need arises, and saves Ragnar from drowning at one point.
  • 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. 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.
  • Shipper on Deck: He provides translation between Lagertha and a besotted King Ecbert, and judging from his reactions, is on board with the idea of them getting together.
  • The Smart Guy: Of a more academical shade than Floki. 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. 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: 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.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Because it was burned to cinders.

     The Seer 
Played By: John Kavanagh

The laws of men are far below the workings and shapings of the gods.

A mysterious and eerie figure, the village's seer is their link with the supernatural and outwordly. His (often cryptic) warnings and words provide guidance for many, both good and evil.
  • Above Good and Evil: As per his quote, he considers the gods as this. This is also possibly why he never interferes in any of the show's main conflict.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Referred to as "Ancient Woman" in the script for the first episode yet is played by male actor John Kavanagh.
  • Blessed with Suck: He laments how he is forced to see all the sorrow in people's destinies.
  • Blind Seer: See Body Horror.
  • Body Horror: His eyes were either sewn shut or skin grew over his eyes, in either case quite disturbing.
  • Creepy Good: Not a bad guy, but he looks nightmarish.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Making sense of his prophecies is quite a task.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: He wears a dark cloak and usually hangs around in enviroments with very poor light, but he does not seem to be an evil figure (if mildly terrifying).
  • Deadpan Snarker: Oh yeah.
    Earl Haraldson: Do the gods speak?
    The Seer: Do they ever stop?
  • 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
  • The Fundamentalist: For Norse religion.
  • Large Ham: He can get pretty hammy when he predicts things (mainly related to Ragnarok).
  • Mad Oracle: Gives this feelings sometimes.
  • 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.
  • Only Known By His Nickname: Always called "The Seer" or "The Ancient one".
  • Small Role, Big Impact: The Seer is not really a main character, but every dialogue of his is crucial to driving the actions of the majority of the cast.
  • Staff of Authority: Signifies his role as the respected town seer. And indeed, virtually all characters treat him with reverence and respect.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: The Seer has a knack for being unclear with his warnings. Lampshaded by a few people he talks with.
  • You Didn't Ask: Frequently, much to the annoyance of his subjects.

     Jarl Borg 
Played By: Thorbjørn Harr

At the moment, my price is the King's head.

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.
  • Badass Boast: "His vanity will destroy him (Ragnar)...No, not his vanity. I WILL DESTROY HIM!"
  • Badass Mustache: His distinctive trait is the fact his moustache is thicker and longer than his beard (and also braided), unlike most Vikings.
  • Berserk Button: Oath-breaking. Not that it stops him from getting Rollo to break his oaths to Ragnar or to attempt to do it a second time when Ragnar doesn't execute Rollo for the first betrayal.
  • Breaking Speech: Efficiently breaks Rollo's mind with one.
  • Brutal Honesty: With himself. He freely admits that Ragnar is a better man than him, and that he doesn't deserve a second chance. Little does he know...
  • Canon Foreigner: Jarl Borg is neither historical nor mythical, being created specially for the show.
  • Character Development: After being defeated (and subsequently forgiven), Borg tries to rekindle his friendship with Ragnar and forgets the crimes of the past.
  • Character Filibuster: His long speech about brothers (quoted below) in "Freudian Excuse".
  • Consulting Mister Puppet: He speaks to the skull of his first wife.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Very much so.
    Ragnar: You continue to humiliate him.
    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.
  • Dual Wielding: Dual-wieldes axes.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: It's hinted he did not scream in his execution, meaning he went to Valhalla for his bravery in the face of death.
  • Even Morally Ambiguous Has Loved Ones: He seems to love his second wife pretty dearly, and if his speeches are any indication, he loved his first one even more.
  • 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.
  • Everyone Has Standards: He does not look kindly upon oath-breaking.
  • 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.
  • Freudian Excuse: His brother murdered his wife and most of his guests, making him a lot less trustful of people. He even has a long Character Filibuster on it:
    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.
  • Heel Realization: Remorse hits him after his defeat at Ragnar's hands.
  • 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.

    Queen Aslaug 
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.
    • Same for most of their children, really. On their first meeting they sleep together once, Aslaug tells Ragnar she's carrying his son, he doesn't believe her, then she turns up several months later heavily pregnant and indeed bears his son. Post time-skip, he laughs off her claim that she can sense his interest in other women, so she vows that her next son will be born with a "snake in the eye," and sure enough... When they're reunited after a long absence she warns him not to sleep with her for the next three days or she'll bear a "monster," he doesn't believe her, and sure enough: her next son is born with malformed legs. You would think that Ragnar would learn to listen when Aslaug makes a prophecy.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: After Jarl Borg attacks Kattegut and Rollo and Siggy lead Aslaug to safety, she objects to taking refuge in a small village because it doesn't provide the wealthy lifestyle she's used to.
  • 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.
  • The High Queen: More of a Helen and a Penelope than a Clytemnestra.
  • Light Feminine Dark Feminine: The light to Lagertha's dark.
  • Mama Bear: While Ragnar wanted to abandon Ivar the Boneless to dienote , 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.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Aslaug makes an awful lot of prophecies that wind up coming true (even if just From a Certain Point of View). They could just be lucky guesses, but then again...
  • Reality Warper/Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Implied, at least with her children. She declares that her third son will be born with a "snake in the eye" and the fourth one will be a "monster" during both pregnancies, and both sons turn out at least partially so. She makes the former prophecy out of spite when Ragnar doesn't take her powers seriously, and confides in Siggy on the latter that she doesn't know why she said she would bear such a child, but now that the words have left her lips, the Gods have decided to run with them. It's implied in both cases that her words might have influenced her sons' development, rather than just predicting it after their fates were set in motion.
  • 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).
  • Waif Prophet: She is very tall, thin, and waif-like, and has an unnerving habit of making prophecies that seem to end up coming true (in one way or another).

Played By: Kevin Durand

A mysterious storyteller, dreamed of by Helga, Aslaug and Siggy before he arrives at Kattegat.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: His arrival comes after the three main women left in Kattegat all share a repeated dream of a man that might be him. Also, if he is being honest when he says that he saw the tale of Utgard-Loke with his own eyes, that means he may be one of two people: Thor's retainer Thjalfi or Loki himself. Assuming, of course, he is not a liar. Floki seems to believe he is actually Odin, despite him having both of his eyes.
  • Meaningful Name/Shout-Out: In The Lay of Harbardr, a poem in the Poetic Edda, Thor encounters a ferryman named Harbard, who is really Odin in disguise, and enters a flyting contest - a contest in insults - with him. It remains to be seen, if Harbard is the same person, or just someone who is very funny. For this reason, Floki believes him to be Odin in disguise.

Played By: Ben Robson

Lagertha’s second-in-command at Hedeby, he is left in charge when she goes to England in season 3
  • A Threesome is Manly: He is seen sleeping with two beautiful women.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: He pretends to be loyal and supportive of Lagertha, while planning to usurp her all along.
  • Genre Savvy: When the gates of Paris are breached and there's nobody in the corridor leading to the inner gates he is the only one to realize it's a trap.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: In comparison to Borg, Horik, Ragnar and Lagertha, each of whom while good rulers are often blinded by vengeance, pride, jealousy, ambition and anger, Kalf seems to be the only ruler who truly has his role in perspective with the bigger picture (well, aside from Ragnar) and his logic on his being a better claim to the earldom due to actually being a son of Hedeby is pretty much unassailable. He also cold-cocks Lagertha in order to save her during one of her Leeroy Jenkins modes, having correctly anticipated the Franks leading them into a trap.
    "Title is only an excuse to do good things for the people here. I want to do that."
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Lagertha raised him to a position of authority over Hedeby. He repays her by stealing her fief. That being said, he does emphasise that he shares the world's admiration for her and does save her life during the siege of Paris.
  • The Usurper: He takes over Hebedy while Lagertha is away, crowning himself Earl.


  • Anglo-Saxons: No, really. This is just about the period where the Angles and the Saxons had developed a common identity; 'Angelcynn'. English.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: The Court of Mercia, plagued with dynastic squabbles and where everyone is murdering everybody else.
  • Enemy Mine: The Viking raids give the Saxons a threat greater than each other for them to worry about.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Wessex means 'Land of the West Saxons', and is located in southwest England.
  • 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.
  • Anglo-Saxons: A Northumbrian king.
  • 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.
  • Ascended Extra: In history and myth alike Aelle's relevance begins and ends with his bout with the Great Heathen Army. The show moves his reign to much earlier and gives him a lot of plot and characterization as King of Northumbria.
  • 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).
  • Blood Knight: Has a particular taste for bloodshed.
  • Blunt "Yes": This exchange;
    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.
    Ragnar: You want one of us to become Christian?
    Aelle: Yes.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: He is incredibly jovial and cheerful when he is celebrating victory.
  • The Bus Came Back: He returns later on in the season, making common cause with King Ecbert.
  • Composite Character: According to the news for Season 3, Aelle will become the maternal grandfather of Alfred the Great, thus he is combined with Oslac, Alfred's historical maternal grandfather. Considering that his daughter is named Judith and that Alfred's step-mother was Judith of Flanders this makes Aelle in a whole a composite character of Aella of Northumbria, Oslac and Charles the Bald.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The snake pit. According to Ragnar Lodbrok's saga, he had this, so Truth in Television.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He has his moments of sardonic wit, especially with incompetent underlings.
    "You look terrified my Lord Wigea. What, have you lost your faith? Are you no longer certain that God shall raise you up from the grave? Personally? I hope He does not and leaves you there to rot."
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Seems to have some affection for his wife and son as well as for his brother.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He looks positively disgusted when Princess Kwenthrith poisons her own brother right in the middle of a feast, in front of everybody.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Ivan Kaye's voice is badass.
  • Historical-Domain Character: He really existed.
  • Large and in Charge: He has quite an imposing figure, befitting his position.
  • Large Ham: "My lord Wigea, that is a counsel of despair. Are these pagans not men like we are?! Do they not bleed when they are cut?! OR DO THEY HAVE WINGS AND TONGUES OF FIRE?!!"
    • Victory over the Northmen!
  • No Indoor Voice: Whenever Aelle feels like he wants to make a point (or whenever he's agitated), he starts shouting every single word that comes out of his mouth.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: He hasn't done any fighting in Season 1.
  • 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".
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: He is heavily involved in the defense of Northumbria and England in general.
  • 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.
  • Amazon Chaser: In the second season he sleeps with Princess Kwenthrith, who is seemingly more bloodthirsty and noticeably more open sexually than all the other Saxon women shown in series, then quickly becomes infatuated with Lagertha in the third season - a lot of the reasons he enumerates have to do with how badass she is.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Even though he is shown having sex with women and enjoying it, the way he looks at Ragnar's naked body during their bath has a decidedly sexual component. Not to even mention his obsession with Athelstan.
  • 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 Northumbrian 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.
  • Big Damn Heroes: After Athelstan is crucified, Ecbert arrives and orders him to be cut down, saving his life. However, his motivations may not have been entirely altruistic.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: King Ecbert frequently expresses worldviews that are very ahead of his time, such as his compassion and understanding for Pagan religions.
    • Except that he mercilessly has an entire Pagan settlement slaughtered when their presence on his land is no longer necessary for his ambitions, making it clear that his broad views have a lot more to do with understanding than compassion.
  • The Chessmaster: He seeks to use the Vikings against his other enemies in England.
  • The Comically Serious: The show makes quite a few amusing scenes by contrasting his serene, regal nature with overall debauchery and bizarreness present around him (namely in King Aelle and Kwenthirth).
  • Cultured Badass: He actively seeks to preserve the writings and legacy of the Romans.
  • Dirty Old Man: Dude's laying the moves on his daughter-in-law for fuck's sake.
  • The Dreaded: His reputation is widely known, and feared, throughout England.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: He expresses great admiration for the achievements of the Romans, and owns various pieces of their artwork and sculptures.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Ecbert will conquer most of Southeast England, lose some of it (Mercia) later, and die of old age. His grandson will be Alfred the Great who will repel Viking raiders and he will unite England.
  • Genre Savvy: Ecbert is extremely quick to catch up with the Viking way of thought, and plans accordingly.
  • Heroic Lineage: He's a descendant of Cerdic, and he himself will become the grandfather of Alfred The Great.
    • 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.
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: In real life he was a fairly successful king who laid the foundation for King Alfred the Great's pseudo-unification, but in the show he's straight up nearly unbeatable in politics.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The real Ecbert, as far as we know did not wipe out an entire Northman village of innocents and then pin down on his fellow noblemen. We also have no record of Ecbert being as machiavellian as the show character.
  • Magnificent Bastard: He and Aethelwulf pull off a master plan to rid themselves of the Pagan settlement and pin it on the nobles who had questioned his rule earlier.
  • 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.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Ecbert apparently delivered a Curb-Stomp Battle to King Horik, slaughtered most of his warriors and forced him to flee Wessex. But all of it entirely off-screen.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He is just and fair to his subjects. He even listens to what Athelstan has to say, despite him being a traitor to both the nation and his Faith.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The blue oni in his alliance with Aelle: calm, understated and serene, in contrast to Aelle's more vivid personality.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Embodies the trope in every appearance of his, either politically or militarily.
  • 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.
  • Anglo-Saxons: Heir to the throne of Wessex.
  • Arranged Marriage: With Judith of Northumbria, King Aelle’s daughter.
  • Ascended Extra: There is little historical (or legendary) record of his life as a Prince (only a few token notes he fought for his father). The show, however, makes him a much more pivotal figure as Prince of Wessex and a Badass.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Prince of Wessex and a major Badass in the battlefield.
  • Awesome McCool Name: Aethelwulf means "Noble wolf".
  • Badass: He leads a division of the Saxon force into battle personally, riding down Rollo. He's also been a part of two envoys to the Norsemen (once as a hostage), who have a tendency to kill envoys.
  • Badass Family: His father is the first real threat the Vikings have encountered in England, and his son will prove to be an even bigger headache for them. And Aethulwulf is no slouch himself.
  • Big Damn Heroes: As Ragnar is facing the last Mercian forces, the battle seems utterly hopeless and the Vikings are massively outnumbered and outgunned. Cue Aethewulf and his archers emerging from a hill and shifting the balance of the battle.
  • Celibate Hero: Though he's not actually celibate or a virgin, he takes his marriage vows extremely seriously, and he has only ever slept with his wife since they were married, and will never cheat on her. Notably, he's the only male character to No Sell Princess Kwenthrith when she tried to seduce him.
  • Chest Insignia: Aethelwulf has a distinctive cross-shaped mark on his chest armor.
  • Culture Clash: Out of the Saxons the most antagonistic towards the Northmen, viewing them as unruly savages who worship a false god. Despite this, he's still willing to cooperate with them.
  • Deadpan Snarker: See Tall, Dark and Snarky.
  • Foil: He serves as a Foil of sorts to both Bjorn and Erlendur, as they are both young sons of powerful, scheming rulers, but they fight for distinctively different sides and hold different morals.
  • The Fundamentalist: The scene he slaughters innocent men, women and children is capped off with him declaring he did it all for the Lord Jesus Christ, kneeling and praying.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: In history Aethelwulf did not slaughter an entire innocent village with no provocation. And while in reality he was very religious, the show seems to amp this up to violently fundamentalist levels.
  • Jerkass: He suggests sending Athelstan as an emissary, as he believes the Norsemen wouldn't kill him. He makes it clear, however, that he wouldn't really care if they did.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: On the other hand, he's a good husband, a loyal son, a brave warrior and in general a plesant man as along as you are not a Pagan.
  • One Steve Limit: King Aelle's brother was also named Aethelwulf, but he is slain before this Aethelwulf shows up.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Aethewulf's very devout, and a major Badass as well.
  • Tall, Dark and Snarky: Seems to enjoy teasing Athelstan with sarcasm.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: He isn't particularly enthusiastic about working with Ragnar to win back Kwenthirth's throne, but manages it.
  • Warrior Prince: See Badass.

     Princess Judith of Northumbria 
Played By: Sarah Greene (Season 2), Jennie Jacques (Season 3)

The daughter of King Aelle and wife of Prince Aethelwulf

  • Arranged Marriage: With Prince Aethelwulf, King Ecbert's son
  • Ascended Extra: Has a larger role in the third season than she does in the second.
  • Break the Cutie: Judith is mutilated and publicly shamed as a punishment for her affair with Athelstan
  • Composite Character: Of Alfred the Great's mother Osburh and his stepmother Judith of Flanders.
  • Ear Ache: As punishment for her affair with Athelstan, Judith has one of her ears sliced off. It was supposed to be both ears and her nose, but she stopped it by naming Athelstan as the father.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Her dark hair brings out the paleness of her skin, while her beauty draws both Athelstan and Ecbert to try to get into her bed.
  • The Unfavourite: Implied when Aethelwulf says that there is no love lost between Judith and her father.
  • Your Cheating Heart: With Athelstan, with whom she conceives a child

     Princess Kwenthrith of Mercia 
Played By: Amy Bailey

The daughter of the late King Offa of Mercia, she murdered his heir, her brother, and is embroiled in a civil war for control of the Kingdom of Mercia.
  • Anglo-Saxons: Fighting for control of the largest, wealthiest, most important Saxon kingdom in England.
  • Anti-villain with Bad Publicity: Kwenthrith isn't really any more evil than the rest of the Saxon royals, but while Aelle and Ecbert are admired as great and just kings, she has a horrendous reputation, being despised as a fratricide, a mass murderer, and a vegetarian.
  • The Baroness: Of the Sexpot variety.
  • Bi the Way: Nothing ambiguous about the way she kisses Lagertha in a season three deleted scene. She also clearly admits to being attracted to her.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: She says both her late brother and uncle abused her sexually for years, starting in her childhood.
  • Evil Vegetarian: Believes eating meat is harmful.
  • Freudian Excuse: Boy, she has reason enough to hate her family.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Extremely loosely though.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Her historical counterpart was a rather unremarkable Mercian princess, a far cry from the mass murderer featured in the show.
  • Kick the Dog: She poisons her own brother during a party.
  • Out-Gambitted: She tries to revolt against Ecbert while using Ragnar as leverage. Aethelwulf promptly tells her that due the destruction of Ragnar's settlement, that leverage is null and void.
  • Really Gets Around: Immediately after having sex with King Ecbert, she wants Athelstan brought to her room, but settles for doing it with three of Ecbert’s guards.
  • The Vamp: She’s willing to use her sexuality to achieve her ends.
  • Villainous BSOD: Her first sight of battle, seeing the Viking-Wessex forces slaughter the Mercians and kill her uncle, Bretwulf, is of pure horror and shock.

     Prince Burgred of Mercia 
Played By: Aaron Monaghan

Princess Kwenthrith’s younger brother, one of the leaders in the Mercian civil war.

     Magnus of Mercia 

Ragnar and Kwenthrith's son.
  • Canon Foreigner: To an extent. He has no equivalent from the sagas but he does seem rather similar to the portrayal of Ogier the Dane in Edison Marshall's novel "The Viking" and to Eric from The Vikings, which is based off of the Marshall novel.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Kwenthrith claims he is Ragnar's son but, as Aethelwulf is quick to point out, given her rampant promiscuity the child could be anyone's - and Aethelwulf even questions whether he's really Kwenthrith's, noting that the Wessex nobles left in her court never reported that she was pregnant.


  • Church Militant: The Catholic Church was extremely powerful in Frankia, what with the Emperor being crowned by the Pope and all. Then again, Charlemagne did rig the Papal elections that one time.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The three brothers who rule the remains of Charlemagne’s empire do not get along.
  • The Empire: Though no more evil than any other entity at the time (YMMV though, Charlemagne ''did'' massacre thousands of Pagan Saxons for rebelling against his rule).
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: In-universe, Charlemagne is seen by the Franks as the best guy since Jesus. In spite of his virulent hatred of his peoples' ancestral religion, megalomania (seriously, historians opine that the aforementioned Massacre of Verden was partly because he wanted to pretend to be an Israelite king) and general douchebaggery. Then again, Values Dissonance and the fact that the "good guys" basically do the same sorts of things.
  • Vestigial Empire: The Carolingian Empire of Charlemagne has been divided amongst his three grandsons. Then again, as Voltaire once pointed out, it was barely an empire in the first place.

    Emperor Charles of France 
Played By: Lothaire Bluteau

The King of West Francia and Holy Roman Emperor. Grandson of the Emperor Charlemagne.
  • Anti-Villain: It’s hard to see him as the villain when the protagonists are laying siege to his capital for no reason other than glory and greed. However, his cowardice, selfishness, and his taking credit for all the good work his subjects and daughter do keeps us from sympathizing with him all that much.
  • Composite Character: He is mostly based on Charles the Bald, but includes several aspects of Charles the Simple, who was king of Western Francia during the other famous Viking Siege of Paris.
  • Decomposite Character: His role as Judith’s father is given to King Aelle.
  • Dirty Coward: Whenever the Norsemen attack the walls he cowers in his throne room and doesn't come out until the battle is over, even when Count Odo specifically begs for his presence to bolster morale.
  • Hero Antagonist: Charles's just a King trying to protect his nation from the Vikings.
  • Historical-Domain Character: He is based on Charles the Bald. Mostly.
  • It's All About Me: Despite the ferocity and numbers of the pagan Northmen, Emperor Charles is too proud to call his brothers for aid in defending Paris, even though this could potentially doom thousands to their deaths. For him his issues with his brothers take precedence over the lives of all his subjects.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: He yearns to be considered a worthy successor to his grandfather Charlemagne. Considering that Charlemagne is called the father of Europe, it's quite a tall order.

     Princess Gisla of France 
Played By: Morgane Polanski

The daughter of Emperor Charles.

     Count Odo 
Played By: Owen Roe

A Frankish noble in charge of the defense of Paris.
  • Crazy-Prepared: For every single trick the Norse pulled during the first assault on Paris, he already had a deadly effective countermeasure in place.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in Breaking Point when he unleashes a spiked-wheel contraption on the Norsemen that could've come straight out of an Indiana Jones movie.
  • Frontline General: When the Norsemen launch their first assault on the walls, he is in the thickest of the fighting, repelling the ladders.
  • Hero Antagonist: By all moral standards, Count Odo is a just man trying to defend his homeland from foreign invaders.
  • Historical-Domain Character: He's based on Odo of France.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: To Emperor Charles. He was the one who prepared the defenses of Paris and made sure the city was provisioned for a siege.
  • Number Two: Odo seems to be the king's enforcer for all regards.
  • Only Sane Man: He gives very sound advice, which is promptly ignored.
    • He warned the Count of Flanders and other allies along the Viking invasion route that they were coming, but he was ignored until it was too late.
    • He asks the Emperor to call on his brother the Co-emperor of East Francia for help, but Charles refuses because of his pride.
    • Once sickness and hunger begin to spread, he urges Charles to negotiate with the Vikings rather than continue to push their luck in a siege.
  • Power Fist: He has a literal iron fist replacing his right hand, which he seems to have lost.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: He is the sole defender of the city of Paris.
  • Standard Hero Reward: Odo hopes that if he can successfully defend Paris he will gain Gisla’s hand in marriage.
  • Safe, Sane and Consensual: As if the fact that he has a BDSM dungeon in the palace wasn't surprising enough, the Count places a very modern emphasis in consent and safety with his partners.