Household of Ragnar the Fearless
Earl Ragnar the Fearless
A formidable and infamous Danish warlord, Earl Ragnar is fearless, charming, and a natural leader but also a warm-hearted family man. Devoted to his son, Ragnar the Younger, he doesn't hesitate to also take Uhtred under his wing, seeing spark and courage in the Saxon boy. Uhtred sees Ragnar as his true father.
- Action Dad: The two traits that seem to define Ragnar the most are his skill as a warrior and his devotion to his family.
- Deadpan Snarker: He seems to have inherited a dry sense of humor from Ravn. When Sven protests that he only stripped Thyra half-naked, Ragnar turns to Uhtred who confirms it. Ragnar's response to this is that he will thus only take one eye as punishment.
- Decapitation Presentation: He presents Lord Uthred with the head of his oldest son.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Ragnar goes out charging at his enemies while on fire. He died as he lived: a solid badass.
- Eye Scream: As punishment for Sven's attack on Thyra, he knocks the kid's eye out.
- Man on Fire: Ragnar dies after his hall is set on fire with him inside, but it doesn't stop him from charging at his foes.
- Mercy Kill: He kills his wife to save her from being raped/taken as a slave/killed slowly by Kjartan.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Ragnar the Fearless.
- Papa Wolf: He's fiercely protective of his children. He reacts violently to Sven's mistreatment of his daughter, then adopts Uhtred and comes to think of him as a second son when he learns that Uhtred defended Thyra (and delivered quite a beatdown to Sven). He also encourages Uhtred to pursue a relationship with Brida before some other young man snaps her up.
Earl Ragnar's elderly father, Ravn, is a 'skald' (a Viking poet and wise man). Given his considerable life experience, he is philosophical about the struggles of the Danes and is able to impart his wisdom to young Uhtred, who often acts as the eyes of blind Ravn.
- Blind Seer: Downplayed, but he is blind and able to tell more from simply tasting the water of the river than Ragnar and Kjartan with their eyes.
- Deadpan Snarker
- The Philosopher: Most of his scenes involve him waxing philosophical about the Danes and their lifestyle.
- Retired Badass: He is a former Earl and raider himself, and now advises his son.
- Warrior Poet: As a Danish skald, he embodies this concept.
Household of Ragnar the Younger
Ragnar the Younger
Uhtreds Danish brother Ragnar the Younger is brave, loyal and fair, and will come to Uhtreds aid when hes most needed, despite struggling with his brothers enduring loyalty to Alfred and the Saxon cause. Ragnar and Brida are now Alfreds hostages, but Ragnar knows he must fulfil his destiny by avenging his fathers death at the hands of Kjartan the Cruel.
- Barbarian Hero: Ragnar is a true viking cut from the same cloth as his father.
- Big Brother Instinct: Towards Uhtred and Thyra.
- Big Damn Heroes: Arrives just in time to save Uhtred from Sven One-Eye.
- Cincinnatus: He doesn't really want the power of Dunholm, he just wants to kill Kjartan and avenge his family.
- Co-Dragons: Becomes one to Guthrum with Skorpa of the White Horse in Episode 8.
- Due to the Dead: Uhtred and Brida spend the latter part of Season 3 trying to find a way to let Ragnar pass from Niflheim to Valhalla after his murder. Uhtred accomplishes this for his brother by killing Aethelwold.
- Extreme Mêlée Revenge: On Kjartan. In fact, Ragnar goes so far that even Brida is unnerved by it, and Uhtred has to pull Ragnar off Kjartan's corpse to make it stop.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Anti-heroic at least. This is best exemplified by his Black Comedy exchange with Abbot Eadred.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Has this dynamic with Uhtred.
- Heroic Second Wind: Kjartan's vicious taunting about his family's death only end up giving Ragnar the revenge-fueled rage he needs to win.
- Little "No": In the Season 1 finale, when it becomes clear that Guthred won't fight on, convinced by the death of Skorpa the Saxons have God on their side, Ragnar dismisses Guthred with one of these and throws himself back into the battle.Ragnar: Lord, what are your orders?! Lord!Guthred: Did you see that? It came as the priest said. Their god is with them.Ragnar: So what are your orders?! (realises Guthred won't fight) No, lord.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: In Season 3, after Aethelwold's meddling drive Uhtred away for good, Ragnar turns on Aethelwold, calling him out for being The Manipulator and The Corrupter, all while beating the shit out of Aethelwold.Ragnar: You drip poison in every ear! Everything you touch turns to shit!
- Second Love: To Brida.
- Undignified Death: Aethelwold kills him in his bed while he has no weapon, dooming him to Niflheim. Ultimately averted, as Uhtred killing Aethelwold should let him pass on to Valhalla.
- You Killed My Father: He's set his sights on Kjartan for murdering Ragnar the Fearless. In Season 2, he successfully extracts revenge in a very brutal manner.
Alongside Uhtred, Brida is captured as a child and raised by Danes. Brida and Uhtred's similar fates bind them as kindred spirits; the two become best friends and lovers. Fearless, gutsy, outspoken, and a born fighter, Brida immediately feels at home in the boisterous world of the Danes.
- Ass Shove: She shoves a branch up Storri's arse; he's not exactly undeserving of such treatment.
- Ax-Crazy: Her behaviour in the latter part of Season 4 definitely falls into this.
- Boomerang Bigot: By Season 4, she has developed a burning hatred of Saxons. That she herself is a Saxon captured and raised by Danes doesn't deter her in the slightest.
- Childhood Friend Romance: With Uhtred. They were raised together, and become lovers as adults. They later end this relationship, and she becomes Ragnar's wife.
- Cruel Mercy: In Season 3, after Ragnar's death, she bluntly tells Uhtred that the only reason she won't kill him is because she wants him to live with the guilt and the pain of having failed his brother.Brida: I should kill you, but I want you to live with the pain of his death. He was your brother!
- is on the receiving end of this is in Season 4. Uhtred, having lost nearly all of his family by this point, is unable to grant her the warrior's death she begs for — and so she's taken prisoner by the Welsh and they abuse her cruelly.
- Dark Action Girl: She throws herself into battle with as much enthusiasm as any of the men, and derides any Dane who seeks peace before Wessex has been crushed.
- Desecrating the Dead: After Winchester falls to Sigtryggr's army, Brida has her men exhume and desecrate the bodies of Saxon warriors. Surprisingly, she restrains herself from doing the same to the tomb of King Alfred.
- The Dog Bites Back: After spending several episodes being humiliated and tortured by Rhodri, the brother of the Welsh king Hywel, when Sigtrygger frees her from captivity, Brida inflicts the same humiliation on Rhodri before killing him.
- Good Old Ways: She thoroughly believes in this and is thoroughly hostile to Christianity as a result.
- Happily Adopted: By Ragnar's family.
- Older Than They Look: Much like Uthred, who is roughly the same age. Decades pass in-story, but Brida shows no signs of being much older.
- Pet the Dog: She reconciles with Uhtred in Season 3 when he reveals the only reason he swore allegiance to Alfred for a second time was to stop Ragnar from being executed for not intervening when Uhtred murdered Eadred.
- She also places an axe in the hand of the dying Bloodhair so he can enter Valhalla.
- Pregnant Badass: In Season 4, being heavily pregnant isn't enough to keep her from attacking Uhtred or being directly involved in the siege of Winchester.
- Stay in the Kitchen: She encounters this attitude among the Saxons, and she is very opposed to it, to say the least. She seems to consider it the worst of all possible fates.
- Spiteful Spit: She spits in Aelswith's face after she is captured with the fall of Winchester and still insists on mocking Brida to her face.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Brida was always a bit of a jerk, but she becomes outright vile after Uhtred throws his lot in with Alfred. As Leofric remarks, "she was always angry, but now she's nasty." From there on, she only gets worse, and by the end of season 4 she has explicitly dedicated her life (and her newborn child's life) to destroying the Saxons.
- Up to Eleven: For all of Uhtred's anti-Christian/anti-Saxon traits, Brida goes even further. She'd probably genocide the lot of them if she were in charge.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: After learning Aethelwold was the one who killed Ragnar, she insists on being the one to kill him, to which Cnut agrees once the Danes have no further use for him. Ultimately, she cedes the killing to Uhtred, as he has the best chance of succeeding.
- They Really Do Love Each Other: Although their lives have taken them down different paths, Uhtred and Brida still care deeply for each other.
- We Used to Be Friends: By the end of Season 4, Brida and Uhtred have become mortal enemies, and she swears she'll never stop pursuing him for revenge.
- Wham Line:Uhtred: Where is Ragnar? I will go to him.
- Would Hurt a Child: When Brida learns Stiorra is Uhtred's daughter, she demands that they send the girl's head to her father as a message. However, Sigtryggr overrules her]].
- Portrayed by: Julia Bache-Wiig
Ragnar and Uhtreds sister, held prisoner by Kjartan and Sven in their impenetrable fortress of Dunholm. Damaged by the loss of her family and abuse by her captors, Thyra has lost all hope of freedom and happiness and choses to live in a dank cell, with only the hounds of Dunholm for company.
- The Beastmaster: She keeps a pack of hounds and lives in the kennel while imprisoned.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: Stabs herself through the heart to avoid burning to death in the fire started by her Saxon tormentor.
- Break the Cutie: After losing her family and enduring years of sexual abuse, she's way bitter until Hild and Beocca gently restore her.
- The Dog Bites Back: She stabs the mysognist, racist thug Tidman who's been harassing her through the throat.
- A literal example in that she sets her pack of dogs on Sven as retribution for his years of abuse.
- Long-Lost Relative: Long thought dead by Uhtred and Ragnar.
- Sex Slave: Formerly to Sven.
Household of Kjartan the Cruel
Kjartan the Cruel
Murderer of Uhtreds Danish family and captor of Thyra. Feared lord of the fortress of Dunholm, he is known as Kjartan the Cruel. Unfazed by his enemies, Kjartan is ruthless and devious in his schemes to crush all those who oppose his standing as a great lord of the north.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: A variation in that Kjartan doesn't beg for his life, only to die with a sword in his hand so he may reach Valhalla.
- Authority Equals Ass Kicking: The siege of Dunholm proves he's not afraid to get his hands dirty.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Hacked into pieces by the son of the man he murdered.
- Due to the Dead: Subverted: Kjartan requests to be allowed to die with a sword in hand so he may reach Valhalla. Ragnar the Younger pulls the sword from his grasp before chopping him up.
- Enemy Mine: In Season 1, he allies with Aelfric for a time because they both want Uhtred dead.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: One of the driving forces behind his betrayal and murder of Ragnar is revenge for the mutilation of his son. He is also clearly heartbroken when he sees Sven torn to pieces by Thyra's dogs.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Has gone from being a mere shipsmaster to a powerful slave trader and one of the most feared Danish warlords in the north of England.
- I Shall Taunt You: During their final duel, Kjartan mocks Ragnar by taunting him over his parents' murders and the years of abuse he and Sven inflicted on Thyra. It backfires spectacularly, only goading the exhausted Ragnar to fight on in a berserker fury that swiftly overwhelms Kjartan.
- It's Personal: Kjartan still holds Uhtred responsible for what happened to him and his son, even though it was years before and Kjartan's circumstances have markedly improved since then.
- Know When to Fold Them: When Dunholm falls to Ragnar and Uhtred's army, Kjartan orders his men to stand down rather than keep fighting and die pointlessly and steps forward to fight Ragnar himself so no others need die.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Turns against Earl Ragnar, the man he served faithfully for years, when Ragnar blinds his son and banishes him.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Commands his men to take Uhtred alive, as Kjartan wants the pleasure of killing him personally.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Clearly thinks this of his warriors and his son.
- You Killed My Father: Both Uhtred and Ragnar the Younger intend to kill him for it.
Sven the One-Eye
Enemy of Uhtred and abuser of Thyra. Spoilt and arrogant, Sven the one-eye lacks the cunning of his cruel father, Kjartan, but his malice should not be underestimated. An enemy of Uhtreds since childhood, Svens cowardly nature is put to the test when they meet again.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Not that it does any good to the furious father of a girl you've just sexually assaulted.
- He also tries to beg Thyra for his life before she turns loose her pack of pet feral dogs on him for the years of abuse he inflicted on her.
- Butt-Monkey: Borderline this in Season 2. Uhtred continuously humiliates him, forces him to wander through the woods blind and with his hands tied, and his father mocks him for his failings. Even Thyra, his rape slave, intimidates him. All this before being unceremoniously mauled to death by her hounds.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Is on the receiving end of one from the younger and smaller Uhtred for his assault on Thyra.
- Dirty Coward: Is gleeful at the prospect of killing Uhtred, even though it will be no challenge (Uhtred is half-starved, dehydrated and in the throes of a Heroic BSoD from his time in slavery and Halig's death). When Ragnar the Younger and Hild arrive to rescue Uhtred, Sven is the first to run for the hills.
- Eye Scream: Earl Ragnar blinds him in one eye because Sven tried to molest his daughter, Thyra.
- It's Personal: Like his father, Sven holds Uhtred responsible for what happened to him.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Sven, while only a boy strips Thyra topless and probably would have done worse had Uthred not intervened. (This is actually toned down from the books, where he strips naked and tries to force Thyra to masturbate him before Uthred attacks him). When his father attacks and murders Ragnar, Sven takes Thyra as a captive, making clear his intentions to keep her as a Sex Slave.
- Stalker with a Crush: He's been one to Thyra for a long time. Though he seems to have gone off her now, as years of abusing her as a Sex Slave has apparently driven her mad, making constant asides of how she intends to kill him.
Household of Sigefrid & Erik, the Brothers
- Better Living Through Evil: After Aelfric breaks off his alliance with them and Guthred, the brothers do likewise, reasoning they can do better by returning to looting and pillaging.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Become this in the second half of season 2 when they kidnap Aethelflaed, planning to ransom her to Alfred, gaining enough silver to pay for an army that will take Wessex and Mercia. Erik ultimately betrays Sigefrid when he falls in love with Aethelflaed, leaving Sigefrid as the sole Big Bad.
- Brains and Brawn: Sigefrid as the brawn, being the better fighter of the two, and Erik as the brains, as he does the thinking and planning. Neither one of them are absent in brains or brawn, however. Sigefrid is cunning and Erik is a capable fighter.
- Cain and Abel: Sigefrid as Cain and Erik as Abel.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: It might seem that Sigefrid is the foolish sibling, since he's so impulsive and bloodthirsty, but really it's Erik as the foolish and Sigefrid as the responsible. Erik is willing to risk the entire operation for his love of Aethelflaed, much to the displeasure of Sigefrid, and as such the whole operation does come crashing down and both brothers are killed.
- Put on a Bus: The brothers are ordered to leave Northumbria in return for Uhtred sparing the life of Sigefrid whilst holding him hostage. They return later, pulling some Exact Words by staying out of Northumbria.
Sigefrid is a fearsome Northman and leader of men, adept at plundering and conquering Northumbrian land. Aggressively ambitious, Sigefrid sets his sights on a higher prize that will shake Alfreds kingdom to its very core. Sigefrids burning intensity and appetite for destruction can only be tempered by his brother, Erik, with whom he shares a fiercely close bond.
- Adaptational Heroism: While he kills his brother in both the show and the books, he's considerably less bothered by it in the books. As such, while in the show he dies bravely death charging into the army of Wessex, in the books Uthred knocks his weapon away before he kills him so he is denied Valhalla, explicitly stating neither he nor Erik wish his company there.
- An Arm and a Leg: Uhtred severs Sigefrid's swordhand in a duel, and the wound leaves him plagued by pain for the remainder of his life.
- Ax-Crazy: Sigefrid is a bloodthirsty berserker who wishes to be known as the "Lord of Chaos". It's an appropriate moniker.
- Bad Boss: He kills one of his own men in a fury for being beaten in combat by Father Pyrlig.
- Beard of Evil: He has a very thick, dark beard and thinks nothing of casual murder.
- Blade Below the Shoulder: After losing his hand to Uhtred, Sigefried replaces it with a dagger blade.
- Cradling Your Kill: After he fatally wounds his brother.
- Death Seeker: After being forced to kill his brother and with all prospects of raising an army to conquer Wessex from using Aethelflaed as a hostage gone, Sigefrid willingly charges into a much larger Saxon army, stating bluntly before making his charge to his lieutenants that he is prepared for Valhalla.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Sigefrid is a warlord who murders, pillages, and rapes his way through life, but even he doesn't like how Aethelred talks down to Aethelflaed.Sigefrid: You talk about your woman as if you don't care for her.
- Foreign Culture Fetish: Sigefrid appears to gain this for the Romans after he and Erik take Lunden. He and Erik live in an old Roman structure, he executes men via crucifixion to "see how it kills them", and he is only tempted into letting Father Pyrlig fight for his life when Uhtred likens it to a gladiator match.
- Hidden Depths: He might appear to be a mindless brute in comparison to his more level-headed brother, but he's not stupid, just impulsive. He's actually a very cunning foe, and he's smart enough to see that his brother Erik is falling for Aethelflaed.
- In the Back: Dies this way when Aethelflaed kills him from behind to save Uhtred.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Has one of his men knock Aethelred unconscious, pretty much for the fun of it.
- Villainous Breakdown: With Eric dead and the plan to ransom Aethelflaed to Alfred in ruins, Sigefrid decides to lead a suicide charge against a Saxon army and kill anyone standing between him and Aethelflaed, screaming death threats all the while.Sigefrid: PRINCESS! I SEE YOU, PRINCESS! AND I WILL KILL YOU! I WILL HAVE YOUR HEAD AND YOUR TITS!
- Villainous Valor: Charges the Saxon army with a tiny force, smashes through their lines, and is finally stabbed in the back while fighting Uhtred and Aethelred.
- Would Hit a Girl: He tries to kill Aethelflaed for causing his brother to abandon their schemes out of love for her.
Northman warlord, brother of Sigefrid. More considered and contemplative than his violent brother, Erik and Uhtred form a precarious understanding and mutual respect. Kind and loyal, Eriks compassion and faithfulness leads him into deep waters.
- Affably Evil: Erik's very friendly and reasonable for a Viking, especially compared to his brother. It's not surprising that he's the one to switch sides.
- Due to the Dead: Sigefrid makes sure he is holding his weapon when he dies so he will go to Valhalla.
- Even Evil Has Standards: After hearing of Aethelred's abusive treatment of his wife, Erik doesn't miss an opportunity to humiliate the little shit. He also intervenes to stop some of his brother's minions from raping her.
- Friendly Enemies: Has this dynamic with Uhtred throughout their meetings, all the way up till his HeelFace Turn.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Buys Aethelflaed and Uhtred time to escape Beamfleot with his life.
- Morality Pet: Erik has a soft spot for Aethelflaed and ensures that nobody hurts her.
- Someone to Remember Him By: He's implied to have gotten Aethelflaed pregnant before sacrificing himself.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: With Aethelflaed.
Household of Ubba
Earl Ubba Lothbroksson
The most senior ranking Dane involved in the invasion of Northumbria, Ubba is a mountain of a man loud, brash, violent, playful and a little unhinged. A ferocious warrior, Uhtred is warned as a boy never to fight Ubba, but fate may dictate that he must. Ubba's weakness is his superstition and his reliance on his sorcerer Storri.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: He was black haired in his literary appearance.
- Adaptational Intelligence: Book!Ubba might not have been dumb, but he was definitely The Brute among his brothers. The tv version absorbs some traits from his cold, calculating, and ruthless brother Ivar, so the show version can alternate back and forth between an ax swinging maniac in battle to surprisingly sly and cunning outside of it.
- Arch-Enemy: He's one of many to Uhtred.
- Ax-Crazy: Ubba listens only to the Gods, and this makes him unpredictable in the long run. In the short run, his penchant for gleeful bursts of sadism make him utterly terrifying.
- An Ax To Grind: His favored weapon is an axe, and he can do a great many terrible things with it. Uhtred places Ubba's axe in his hands, so he may hold it as he dies.
- The Berserker: When he finally lets loose in his duel, he fights like one, disregarding any chance of injury. This proves to be a mistake.
- Blood Knight: Ubba is the epitome of the Danish warrior, meaning he enjoys brutalizing his way across the country to sate his bloodlust.
- Braids of Barbarism: Like many Danes, he favors a distinctive braid.
- Crisis of Faith: He seemingly attempts to induce one on King Edmund, although he may have just been genuinely curious. It's hard to tell with someone as unhinged as Ubba. Uhtred later pays him back for this by needling him about falling out of favor with the Gods.
- Dice Roll Death: Bases all his decisions, military or otherwise on the advice of his sorcerer, Storri, who rolls a bag of runes.
- Disc-One Final Boss: Because the source material is condensed, Ubba meets his end only five episodes into Series 1. He was the biggest threat to England as a whole in that time.
- The Dreaded: Everyone with an ounce of common sense and knowledge of his reputation knows a firm, solitary truth: never fight Ubba.
- Duel to the Death: After he catches Uhtred setting fire to his ships, Ubba challenges him to a duel. When Uhtred asks if it is to first blood or to the death, Ubba rather succinctly answers by bellowing and charging him.
- Due to the Dead: While Odda wants his body mutilated, Uhtred insists that he be treated respectfully in death.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Goes to Ireland to avenge his brother's death, even though it leaves the other Danes high and dry.
- Honor Before Reason: Challenging Uhtred to single combat instead of having his men swarm him proves to be both the undoing of Ubba and his army.
- Large and in Charge: He's wide as a door and the closest thing the Danes have to a King.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Ubba is like a big, violent kid at times who can be noticeably unhinged. When he has captive prisoners shot through with arrows, he even references it as a "game" with a big smile.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Ubba has Uhtred on the ropes several times during their fight, but prolongs it due to a combination of sheer rage and in order to put on a show in front of his men. Waiting too long to finish Uhtred gives Uhtred the chance to sudden turn it around with a lucky strike that cripples Ubba.
- Worthy Opponent: Uhtred, and to a degree Alfred, consider him this.
A Danish warlord and Ubbas second-in‐command, Guthrum is a man of quiet intensity. Dour and relentlessly pessimistic, with a dry sense of humour, he is a cold-hearted killer, but his belligerence hides a conflicted soul. He develops a fascination with Christianity, with surprising repercussions.
- Arc Villain: Becomes this in the later half of season one, when he takes command of the Great Heathen Army and takes Winchester from Alfred, before he converts to Christianity after the Battle of Ethandun.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Asks one of Ragnar the Younger when he and Skorpa are urging Guthrum to massacre the Saxons at Ethandun.Ragnar: Skorpa is right. There needs to be stories of a slaughter!Guthrum: And you are prepared to kill your brother?Ragnar: [Beat] If it comes to that, then yes.
- Badass Beard: As befitting a Dane of his standing.
- Badass Bookworm: He is genuinely fascinated by Alfred's library upon capturing Winchester.Guthrum: This is words without sounds. This is voices without people. I'm going to learn how to use this magic.
- Blasphemous Boast: Guthrum dares God to strike him down for trashing an altar, then scoffs, "I thought not," when nothing happens.
Guthrum: Only Guthrum can save you. Guthrum is your god now.
- He does another on to a wounded priest desperately pleading for his life after Guthrum hacked off one of the man's hands to silence his insistence God would protect him.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: After converting to Christianity and changing his name to Aethelstan, Guthrum is left as king of East Anglia. After some disparaging remarks about him from Brida in Season 2, he is never so much as mentioned again, even when the plot involves the kingdom he ostensibly rules.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Dragon Ascendant: After Ubba dies, he becomes the major threat.
- HeelFace Turn: Skorpa's death convinces him of the power of the Christian God and leads him to be baptised.
- Hidden Depths: He appears to be little more than Ubba's irritable henchman, but he's a breed apart from his fellow Danes in many ways; he's curious about the culture of the land he's invaded, holding a particular interest in Christianity.
- Genius Bruiser: Is willing to engage in philosophical debates with priests on the nature of God and Christianity.
- Punch-Clock Villain: Compared to some of the other Danish leaders like Ubba and Skorpa.
Sworn to the Northman brothers, Erik and Sigefrid, Haesten fails in a task of great responsibility and is rescued by Uhtred in a moment of mercy. Sly and self-interested, Haesten is a master of self-preservation and will do anything for the sake of personal gain.
- An Ax To Grind: Haesten's weapon of choice.
- Berserk Button: He does not like his cowardice being pointed out.Haesten: You are wanting to die, Uhtred?!Uhtred: What I want, Haesten, is an end to this! What is most likely to happen is you will remain inside your fortress and you will remain a coward! Men will sing songs about your cowardice! I will pay to have them written!
- Bond Villain Stupidity: In Season 4, he has Uhtred and his handful of men completely surrounded by his much larger band of warriors. He could kill them all easily...and instead chooses to leave Uhtred and his men tied upside down hanging from a tree, to die slowly, guarded by only two men. To no one's surprise, they're rescued.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Haesten is well known for planting knives in backs of his allies and being completely untrustworthy at the best of times.
- Dirty Coward: Uthred mocks him for his tendency to lose battles and then run away. When challenged to single combat to prove he isn't a coward, Haesten instead marches his whole army out to kill Uthred's small band and then stays at a distance to watch him die. And, true to form, when the soldiers of Wessex arrive to turn the tide of his one-sided slaughter, he runs away again. Subverted in the final battle in Series 3, where he fights ferociously, and claims quite a few kills. He's back to his usual form in Season 4: after he makes the mistake of provoking Uhtred a bit too much by taunting him about Aethelflaed, Uthred beats Haesten to a pulp and is on the verge of killing him when Haesten effectively begs for his life by telling Uhtred Cnut goaded Aethelwold into murdering Ragnar and offering him Cnut's sons as hostages without a fight.
- Death Seeker: Subverted. He wants to die in battle like a true Viking but is no hurry to do so.Uhtred: Is it Valhalla you want?Haesten: In time, lord. Freedom would be my first choice.
- Dragon Ascendant: Siegfried and Erik's deaths leave him in charge of the Viking forces left at Beamfleot.
- Epic Fail: Siegfried and Erik leave him in charge of Eoforwic when they go north to fight in Scotland. In less than a day, the Saxon population of the city rises up and either kills or expels the Danes occupying Eoforwic. Surprisingly, he's never seen to be punished for that.
Bloodhair: [to Haesten] I lost men on the field of battle. You were stupid enough to lose men and a fortress!
- He deploys his entire army from Beamfleot to kill Uhtred and his band of no more than 30 men. Alfred's army launches a surprise attack that decimates Haesten's force and leaves Beamfleot in Wessex hands. Bloodhair even brings it up when Haesten tries to taunt him about his own failures to kill Uhtred.
- Fat Bastard: He's quite burly and a nasty piece of work.
- Evil Is Petty: He rats on Erik's growing affection for Aethelflaed to Siegfried after Erik stops him raping her.
- Hidden Depths: He's smart enough to realise Erik is falling for Aethelflaed, and the Series 3 finale proves that when push comes to shove, Haesten is a formidable warrior.
- I Owe You My Life: He's somewhat respectful to Uhtred because of this in Season 2. Subverted by Season 3, as he's determined to kill Uhtred.
- It's Personal: Aethelflaed fighting back and humiliating him when he tried to force himself on her has left Haesten with a serious grudge and an unremitting desire to kill her.Haesten: I have not forgotten what the bitch did. I will never forget.
- Kill 'Em All: Haesten makes this into a battle cry during the final battle of Season 3.Haesten: Kill every shit-eating Saxon bastard!
- Oh, Crap!: Haesten's reaction when, after mocking him about Aethelflaed a bit too much, Uhtred draws his sword and swings for Haesten's head.
- Pet the Dog: Zigzagged. When he catches Eadith trying to free Aelswith and the other captives, Haesten doesn't hand her over to Brida or Sigtryggr, who'd almost certainly kill her, but instead locks her in a safe place (though this is partly to stop her taking word of the city's defences to the Saxons). Haesten also tries to take her to safety when Edward's army attacks Winchester, though it's heavily implied he's doing this less out of the goodness of his heart and more because he wants Eadith as a Sex Slave, and when she refuses, he's quick to abandon Eadith to her fate.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Tries to force himself on Aethelflaed.
- Retired Monster: What he claims to be at the beginning of Season 4, insisting that he's done fighting and is more interested in just acquiring land and silver to settle with in his old age.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: He is noticeably one of the few Danes who doesn't follow a suicidal Siegfried into a futile battle against a numerically superior Saxon force.
- He also pulls this to get out of Winchester when Edward's army launches its attack to retake the city.
- Underestimating Badassery: When he tries to rape Aethelflaed, he didn't realise she's an Action Girl who would fight back.
- You Have Failed Me: Technically it's more a case of "You Have Failed Us", but when the Saxon allies Aethelwold promised the Danes side with Edward, Haesten tries to kill Aethelwold for this, considering it one failure too many.
Earl Sigurd "Bloodhair"
- Alas, Poor Villain: Bloodhair cuts a rather pitiable figure at the end of his life: he's become the weakest of the three Earls, he's taunted by Haesten and he's still hopelessly and painfully obsessed with Skade. He can't let her go, and when he realizes she's remorselessly and even gleefully poisoned him, it's too late. Skade used him to death.
- An Axe to Grind: His weapon of choice. Brida ensures it's in his hand when he dies.
- Big Bad Wannabe: He seems to be set up as Season 3's Big Bad. He's highly intimidating, with both himself and Skade believing he is destined to kill Alfred. However, he then spends the entire season being outclassed by Uthred at almost every turn. Skade abandons him fairly early on, and Bloodhair subsequently falls apart. He remains in a constant state of distress that he no longer has Skade and expends all his efforts into getting her back.
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Bloodhair threatens Uhtred with this while trying to demand the return of Skade for hostages the Danes have taken.Uhtred: The price has risen! You will not only release all your hostages, you will send them across to the burh!Bloodhair: What I'll do is feed you your own cock!
- Even Evil Has Standards: Bloodhair is a ruthless Viking warlord who willing leaves monks to the tender mercies of Skade, but he's genuinely shocked and appalled when he learns Aethelwold murdered Ragnar with Cnut's urging, while Haesten seemed more amused by the whole thing.
- In the Back: Skade kills him with a pair of knives in the back after, realising she's poisoned him, Bloodhair makes a desperate attempt to kill her.
- Would Hit a Girl: After Uhtred captures Skade, Bloodhair takes female prisoners from a Wessex village and starts killing them, demanding Skade be returned to him or more will die.
Ragnar the Younger's cousin and a rather self-serving man who doesn't hesitate to find means to gain more power, even if it means bringing down family.
- Abhorrent Admirer: He makes no secret of his desire for Brida to her. She clearly finds him repulsive and keeps holding him at bay. After Ragnar's death, they do get together, and by the time of Season 4 their relationship actually seems to be a loving one.
- Authority Equals Ass Kicking: For all his faults, Cnut is no slouch on the battlefield.
- Blood Knight: He clearly loves violence and combat. When some of the Danes in camp start a brawl, unlike Haesten and Brida, who try to put an end to it, Cnut wades into the fray with both fists.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: One of the most brutal and violent of the Danes who loves slaughter and bloodshed, but he loves his two sons beyond all things.
- Evil Redhead: He's red-haired and a scheming snake of a man.
- Manipulative Bastard: The Danish alliance against Alfred has scarcely been formed before he starts whispering dissent against his cousin Ragnar with Bloodhair, Brida and Aethelwold.
- Karmic Death: Lured into a battle by Uhtred, Brida overhears him confess to plotting Ragnar's murder and impales him, leaving him to bleed out alone. And Uhtred takes the sword so Cnut can't even hold a weapon and receive an entry to Valhalla.
- Murder the Hypotenuse: He organizes Ragnar's death at Aethelwold's hands partially to manipulate Brida into becoming his lover.
- Oh, Crap!: In the finale of Season 3, this is Cnut's reaction to first finding the bodies of his scouts riddled with arrows and strung up from the trees and then he hears the sounds of battle from behind and realises Uhtred and Edward have ambushed the rear of his army.
- This is also his reaction when he realises Brida just heard him admitting to plotting to kill Ragnar.
- Papa Wolf: He loves his children deeply and Uhtred taking them hostage and faking his eldest's death is what sends Cnut into a blind rage to make him forsake his caution.
- Shoot the Messenger: He kills the man who tells him Uhtred seemingly murdered one of his sons, after promising the guy he wouldn't.
- The Starscream: One of Ragnar's top men, and also the one who conspires against him.
- Unstoppable Rage: From the moment he comes to believe that Uthred has killed one of his young sons, Cnut is in unstoppable rage mode full time. Notably, this doesn't make him a better warrior, when he fights Uthred one on one, Cnut proves to be Blinded by Rage and Uthred easily avoids most of his attacks. But Cnut does shrug off multiple very serious, perhaps mortal wounds during the fight so he can keep trying to kill Uthred. Only when Uthred reveals that he faked the death of Cnut's son does Cnut's rage break. At the same time, his body suddenly realizes how seriously he's wounded, and that he's dying.
A Norse-Gaelic warlord who arrives from Ireland, claiming kinship to Ivar the Boneless and by extension Ubba.
- Affably Evil: He is always cooly polite, even to enemies and people he disdains. His manners are sometimes a cover for ruthless, bloody scheming, but they're always there. And when he's around people he genuinely respects or can learn from, he shows respect and kindness.
- Big Bad: Becomes this in the second half of season four, when his forces take Winchester and are able to hold off Edward's forces for a month. In the end, Edward and Aethelflaed have to give him Northumbria in exchange for leaving Winchester and promising to stay out of Wessex and Mercia.
- The Chessmaster: Sigtryggr is often eerily calm even in the midst of bloody chaos, usually because he's several steps ahead of his enemies. He all but wipes out the Welsh army of King Hywel by tricking them into walking straight into a trap, then he effortlessly captures Winchester itself and holds off Edward's army for a month, always ready with the right response to everything Edward does.
- Divided We Fall: Defied. Sigtryggr has seen this happen to the previous generation of Danish warlords too many times, and he knows not to repeat those mistakes. As soon as he hears of any hints of dissension or turmoil among the ranks, or realizes that Eardwulf's ambitions might cause these sorts of problems, he deals with it and keeps his forces united.
- Even Evil Has Standards: He's clearly repulsed by Brida's increasing bloodthirsty behaviour and forbids her from harming Stiorra just to spite Uhtred.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: As of the start of Season 4, nobody knew anything about him besides that he was a relative of Cnut and was on the edge of being driven out of Ireland by the Irish. Uthred outright mocked Haesten and other Danes for following a boy with no battle reputation. By the end of the season he's brought both Wales and Wessex to their knees, captured Winchester, brutally defeated King Hywel, humiliated King Edward on multiple occasions, and forced Uthred, Edward, and Aethelflaed to basically bribe him into leaving Wessex alone by giving hm his own kingdom in Northern England.
- I Have Your Wife: Captures Winchester and takes Edward's mother, wife, father in-law and sons hostage, along with Uhtred's daughter.
- Jerkass Has a Point: He openly disparages the warlords who have come before him like Ubba, Cnut and Bloodhair as fools who let their emotions get the better of them and died with nothing to show for it. When a furious Brida calls him out for insulting the greatest warriors the Danes have ever known, Sigtrygger retorts that if they were so great, they'd still be alive.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: When Sigtryggr catches Eardwulf trying to murder Stiorra in retaliation for her father exposing him as a traitor, Sigtryggr beats him to a pulp.
- A Match Made in Stockholm: He and Stiorra bond after he captures her due to their similar outlooks. She ultimately decides to willingly go with him to Northumbria in search of a life more suited to her.
- Noble Demon: In contrast to previous Danish conquerors, who sought to pillage and burn everything in sight and had aspirations of subjugating England completely, Sigtryggr comes across as far more honorable and willing to compromise. This is ultimately what convinces Stiorra to leave with him without fear.
- Outside-Context Problem: For both the Welsh and Wessex.
- The Welsh had been content to sit back behind their borders, letting the English and the Danes kill each other in the east, knowing they had a fortified eastern border that they could use to bleed the Danes dry if they tried to invade. Sigtryggr sails from the west in Ireland, lands on the open Welsh coast, and begins ravaging the country.
- The biggest advantage that the English have against the Danes is that the Danes are more or less completely incapable of siege warfare. The Danish warlords are mostly sailors and raiders, they don't have much experience at long-term warfare that consists of more than luring your enemy into a battle where the terrain and conditions favor them. The construction of the burhs, fortified towns made to resist attack by the Danes, has frustrated them and stopped them from being able to overrun Wessex. Sigtryggr, however, understands siege warfare, so not only he able to utilize surprise to take Winchester, but he knows how to defend it afterward instead of simply looting it and running. Every time Edward tries to retake the city, Sigtryggr is ahead of him and defeats him, causing Edward bloody and humiliating losses.
- Pragmatic Villainy: He's just as bloodthirsty and ruthless as any other Dane. However, He wants to actually hold something of worth for the long term instead of just rushing off into battle and die like so many other Dane lords have in the past. So he's willing to negotiate a compromise with Edward.
- The Unfettered: Most Danish warriors hope to gain glory and a chance to enter Valhalla. Even defeat isn't so bad if it means you'll live on in songs or earn your way into Odin's hall. Sigtryggr fights to win, and as a result he will take actions that no other Dane would. (This includes both ruthless, bloody schemes and pragmatic compromises with the Saxons.)
- Young and in Charge: At first Uthred mocks him as a young boy with no reputation. Sigtryggr might be young, but it turns out he is plenty capable.
A ruthless and ambitious seeress first seen as the consort of Bloodhair.
- Ambition Is Evil: She wants to be the seer and lover of whichever Danish raider can complete the conquest of England.
- Ax-Crazy: Her idea of a good time is torturing a bunch of monks to death in very imaginative ways.
- Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Or rather, Can't Kill You, You've Put a Curse On Me. Many characters tell Uthred to cut her throat and be done with it, but he can't risk her dying without the curse being lifted. He eventually learns how to kill her and get rid of the curse, all at once, and promptly drowns her.
- Dark Action Girl: Downplayed. She gets in a few kills, but usually only when her victim is either helpless or when they're otherwise at a disadvantage.
- Establishing Character Moment: Her introduction has her gouging out the eyes and cutting out the tongue of one of Bloodhair's own men for failing to avert his eyes quickly enough.
- Hot Witch: She's a gorgeous, pouty blonde who uses her sexuality as a weapon.
- Kill It with Water: After lulling Skade into a false sense of security by pretending to be seduced by her, Uhtred drowns her in the waters of a lake outside his Coccham estate.
- Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: The Danes belief in magic and curses makes Skade a powerful enemy because she is so feared among them. Danes held strong belief that You Can't Fight Fate (although you can manipulate it) meaning that a skalds abilities to use witchcraft to turn bad fates into better ones is highly prized and their words always heeded. Naturally, skalds could manipulate these fears at will for power or money. Christian characters such as Beocca or Aelswith dismiss pagan beliefs and practices as worthless superstitions at best and evil at worst even though their forefathers were also pagans. They consider themselves champions of Christendom and therefore enlightenment, this fact is not something Aelswith or Alfred likes being reminded of because to them the old beliefs are of the devil and anyone who practices them is damned.
- Prophecies Are Always Right: For all his piety and condescending attitude towards pagans, Alfred seems place genuine faith in Skades seeing abilities when he asks her how long he has left to live before his illness kills him.
- The Vamp: She goes through a series of men, using them and discarding them when she deems them too weak to fulfill her visions, and is completely beyond redemption.Sihtric: She is poison to all men.
- Too Dumb to Live: Apart from repeatedly killing off or allowing to be killed off any man she attaches herself to, proving she can never be trusted, perhaps her biggest mistake was telling a man who had literally been enslaved before "I own you." Uthred evidently already wanted to kill her to free himself from her curse, but that line probably didn't help.
- Women Are Wiser: Brida cautions Jackdaw to remain vigilant in guarding Skade whom she recognizes is smarter than she looks and would be dangerous to underestimate. To Bridas annoyance, the men around her seem to do exactly this and fall prey so easily into Skade's thirst trap because they dont question her motives and all think with their genitals. Women are not at risk of this danger, though. In fact, when Hild, the abbess and Aethelflaed meet Skade, they distrust and dislike her almost immediately. Skade makes it known very quickly that the feeling is mutual.
- Your Magic's No Good Here: Brida to Skade when Skade demands to see Uthred and threatens to curse Brida if she is denied. Brida blocks Skades powers with a Nithstong and states that this is Freyas land. This action angers Skade so much that she swears to kill Brida for it. To this effect, Skade's other charms prove ineffective around Brida as well. Specifically, Skades use of sex appeal to get her way. Skade might be able to bamboozle her male captors by showing her boobies but other women seem utterly unimpressed by these attempts to distract and are immediately able to see right through her. For example, Brida was the first to notice that Skade has no runes and questions if she is even a real seer despite calling herself one if this is the case.
Skorpa of the White Horse
- Adaptational Badass: Although Svein of the White Horse, the character Skorpa replaces, was a perfectly respectable badass viking in the books, he didn't have anything like the Ax-Crazy Crazy Awesome manner that Skorpa does in the series. He also didn't get the better of Uhtred or personally kill Iseult.
- An Axe to Grind: Skorpa's weapon of choice.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Unlike Ragnar the Younger, Guthrum and even Ubba, who have some redeeming qualities, Skorpa appears to have none.
- Co-Dragons: Becomes one to Guthrum with Ragnar the Younger in Episode 8.
- Decapitation Presentation: Skorpa gleefully presents Uhtred with the head of Iseult as a taunt. It, uhh... doesn't end well for him.
- Dirty Coward: In the final battle upon seeing that the Danes are losing, he takes a few other men to ride off and raid the army's camp full of noncombatants and kill Isuelt just to spite Uhtred rather than fighting himself.
- For the Evulz: Skorpa makes no bones about the fact most of what he does is for this.
- I Lied: Skorpa promises to spare the defeated Cornish king Peredur in exchange for his wealth. The second Peredur tells them where it is, Skorpa kills him.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Skorpa's signature attack is to bite people's throats out.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: He dies this way by Uhtred's hand, courtesy of a spear from Beocca. For good measure, Uhtred twists the spearhead deeper into Skorpa's chest while dealing the coup de grace.
- I Shall Taunt You: Does this a lot to Uhtred.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Skorpa's taunting of Uhtred with Isuelt's severed head only succeeds in driving Uhtred into an Unstoppable Rage that shatters the Dane shieldwall, ends up costing the Danes the battle of Ethandun and results in his death.
- Slasher Smile: Every time he smiles is one of these.
- Would Hit a Girl: He kills Isuelt, and repeatedly threatens her before that.
- Ass Shove: Brida shoves a branch up his arse.
- Back for the Dead: After being absent for half of Season 1, all of 2, and the first half of 3, he finally reappears...only to get strangled to death by Brida to break the curse he laid on her.
- The Evil Genius: To Ubba, although not always a competent one.
- How the Mighty Have Fallen: He goes from being the personal seer, magician, and advisor for the most feared Danish warlord alive (with said warlord being completely dependent on Storri's advice), to a petty village fortuneteller answering question for peasants and living in the woods.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: While the series casts doubt on the existence of magic, every time Ubba asks Storri for advice and Storri actually gives a solid answer instead of dodging the question or hedging his bets, it's the right answer. Also, it's worth noting that when he reappears in Season 3 and a man asks Storri whether the man's wife will ever be able to have children, rather than going with the tried and true method that fake magicians generally use of telling people everything they want to hear, Storri instead tells the man that his wife is infertile and will never have children. It's also noteworthy that Brida finally gets pregnant by Cnut after killing him, after his curse allegedly caused her to miscarry Uhtred's child and fail to get pregnant by Ragnar despite their attempts.
- Once Done, Never Forgotten: Uhtred frequently brings up the 'branch up arse' incident to taunt him.
A hulking Dane, Uhtred trains Clapa for king Guthreds army of Cumbraland. Hell become one of Uhtreds best fighters, but his savagery in battle belies a warm heart and loyalty to his comrades that holds no bounds.
- Badass Beard: Has a full-beard, and he's a huge, badass warrior.
- Bald of Awesome: Completely bald, and completely awesome.
- The Big Guy: And how. Clapa is absolutely massive.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Performs one when mortally wounded to let Uhtred and the others escape Beamfleot with Aethelflaed.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Finan and Sihtric.
A Danish warrior once in service of the brothers, Sigefrid and Erik, Dagfinn remains a presence in the Danish forces threatening Wessex.
- Beard of Evil: Has a long black beard and is a nasty piece of work.
- Braids of Barbarism: Has quite extensive, braided black hair.
- The Corrupter: Seemingly exploits Sihtric's dissatisfaction with Uhtred to convince him to defect. Ultimately subverted; Sihtric's defection was a plan arranged by him and Uhtred to put a spy in Haesten and Cnut's camp.
- The Dragon: First to Erik, then to Haesten.
- Dragon Their Feet: Ultimately grows dissatisfied with Erik due to the latter's growing feelings for Aethelflaed and starts undermining him.
- Killed Offscreen: Word of God has it Dagfinn was killed in the final battle of Season 3.
- Oh, Crap!: His reaction after Haesten and Dagfinn have their arses handed to them by Aethelflaed's defenders and both saw who commanded them.Dagfinn: That was Uhtred!Haesten: I know, I saw him!Dagfinn: Why is he not in the north?!Haesten: BECAUSE HE'S HERE!
- Took a Level in Jerkass: As Haesten's right hand man, he's become a lot more cruel and vicious, compared to the Punch-Clock Villain he was for Erik.
- Would Hit a Girl: Kills an Abbess with a spear when she's about to make a futile attack on Haesten. Haesten then chides Dagfinn for it, pointing out he could quite easily have disarmed the old woman.