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Viking Funeral

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"The Funeral of a Viking" (Frank B. Dicksee, 1893)

Place my body on a ship and burn it in the sea
Let my spirit rise, Valkyries carry me
Take me to Valhalla where my brothers wait for me
Fires burning to the sky, my spirit will never die!
Manowar, "Swords in the Wind"

A subtrope of Burial at Sea in which the deceased (usually a warrior, but not necessarily a Viking) is laid in a boat with his effects, such as a sword, and set out to drift at sea. Then, a character (usually someone with emotional ties to the dead, or simply the most skilled archer present) lights a flaming arrow and shoots it at the sail. The ship is then engulfed in flame and slowly breaks up and sinks.

Played straight, it can be a Tear Jerker. When Played for Laughs, the character charged with shooting the flaming arrow will continually miss or fumble his bow. When played historically accurately, a slave will be killed (and probably gotten known by her late master's companions) as part of the ceremony.

In some cases (as in real history), the fire-arrow step isn't performed. This can be due to a lack of flammable sails and fire arrows, a need for haste, or simply different funerary practices. A third (also more accurate) variant exists in which the boat is not set out to sea, but instead used to lay the corpse in for a funeral pyre. And finally, Viking funerals need not be literal. Many examples feature metaphorical stand-ins for any of the aspects of the ritual.

In real life, this wasn't the only way Vikings used ships in funeral rites. Vikings (or Norsemen in general) practiced a variety of ship-themed funerals which included burying an entire ship (which is great because that has allowed for exact reconstructions in modern times) to cremation aboard a boat and in the case the wealth elite, a ship. The idea of the ship being put to sea only occurs in a single mythic event: Baldr's funeral. Then again, it goes without saying that such a funeral would leave no traces.

Because this is a Death Trope, there are unmarked spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Yamagata from AKIRA gets this, with his companion Kaneda crashing his bike:
    "I'm gonna send Yamagata his wheels!"
  • In Horus: Prince of the Sun, Horus burns his former home, a wrecked ship, after his father dies.
  • On One Piece, the Straw Hat Pirates do this not for a person, but for the Going Merry, their first ship, after it has become too damaged to repair and keep seaworthy.
  • In chapter 39 of Vinland Saga, during a flashback, a Viking Funeral is held for Thors (who unbeknownst to everyone faked his death after getting sick of all the violence).

    Comic Books 
  • Lauren in DMZ is given one of these, although instead of a wooden boat and a flaming arrow, it's an inflatable raft and a flare gun.
  • The Mighty Thor: Viking funerals are common amongst the Asgardians of the Marvel Universe. They have even been known to extend the practice to outsiders who prove themselves worthy. When Asgard was floating over Oklahoma (It Makes Sense in Context) they made funeral pyres with boats.
  • The eponymous V from V for Vendetta is given a funeral in the spirit of this trope, with the train acting as a proxy for the traditional boat. Instead of being shot with a fire arrow, the train is packed with explosives.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Unsurprisingly considering it's a tale of an Arab experiencing Viking culture, two of these feature in the film version of The 13th Warrior, one near the beginning and one near the end of the film. In the novel it was adapted from, Ahmad ends up Going Native to the extent of sleeping with and helping strangle the girl chosen for the Viking funeral. At least in this case the girl is a willing participant.
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild: Hushpuppy gives this kind of funeral for her father, Wink, with her friends and their families, mostly survivors of the storm, watching in respect.
  • The beginning of the 1939 movie adaptation of Beau Geste shows the Geste brothers as boys giving a Viking funeral to a toy soldier by setting a toy boat on fire, and Michael expresses his wish to get a Viking funeral himself. Near the end of the movie, Digby fulfills Michael's wish by burning his body on an improvised pyre. Probably the first depiction of a Viking Funeral on film.
  • Brotherhood of the Wolf: Mani isn't a literal Viking, but the funeral pyre de Fronsac single-handedly builds to give his old friend a proper funeral in accordance with his people's customs (which would have been kind of a big deal in an era where the Catholic Church was opposed to cremation as a funeral method) definitely invokes the same imagery.
  • Conan the Barbarian (1982): Conan burns Valeria on a funeral pyre after she's killed by Thulsa Doom. It's especially poignant for Subotai's line.
    Subotai: He is Conan, Cimmerian. He will not cry, so I cry for him.
  • Played for laughs in the direct-to-video film Eulogy.
  • King Arthur is laid to rest this way in First Knight.
  • The film Grand Theft Parsons revolves around the protagonist's attempt to keep his word to his friend, the late musician Gram Parsons, by burning his corpse in Joshua Tree National Park. Parsons' father wants a more conventional funeral, hence the need for the title felony. Very Loosely Based on a True Story; the movie adds a bitch-on-wheels ex as the main antagonist, presumably so the real (step)father who claimed the corpse (who probably has real lawyers) didn't have to be the heavy.
  • History of the World Part I features such a funeral in the Coming Attractions segment. The shot of the burning ship is pilfered from The Vikings (1958).
  • In The Island at the Top of the World, The Godi orders Sir Anthony, Ivarrson, and Donald executed by having them tied to longship that set alight and sent out into the harbour.
  • It Runs In The Family 2003 features a Viking funeral that is both a Tear Jerker and one of the funniest scenes in the film, particularly because it is set in modern-day New York City.
  • The Beau Geste example is, of course, parodied in The Last Remake of Beau Geste in which young Beau asks his brother to give him a Viking funeral, and Digby replies "Well, all right. But not until you're dead."
  • The main character of The Living Wake decides he wants one upon finding out he's terminally ill, but the local undertaker rejects him, accusing him of trivializing his profession. The final shot of the film is his best friend granting his wish, setting his coffin on a small rowboat and pushing it out onto the lake after lighting it up.
  • One of the last scenes of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring shows Boromir's body laid out in a boat and drifting over the waterfall of the Anduin.
  • Happens at the end of Outlander. A similar funeral at the beginning of the film would have made Book Ends, but was cut for time.
  • The grandfather in Rocket Gibraltar.
  • In S.O.B., Felix is shot by the police after brandishing a water pistol as if it were a real gun. His friends decide to steal his corpse, take it out to his boat, put it on a rowboat, and set it on fire, in celebration of his life and at least one of the movies he made: Pagan Plunder.
  • Cremation on a pyre is the traditional funerary rite for Jedi in the Star Wars films, the most iconic being Darth Vader's at the end of Return of the Jedi.
  • In Thor: The Dark World, Frigga and the others who fell during the dark elves' invasion of Asgard are given a mass funeral, each set out on their own boat and set on fire by arrows. Perhaps fittingly for the queen of Asgard, Frigga's boat is pushed out in front of everyone else's and set aflame by a solitary arrow; and then everyone else's boat is set on fire virtually simultaneously in a rain of arrows (though still one arrow per boat).
  • In Troy, this is standard practice for both Greek and Trojan heroes.
  • In Van Helsing, the title character gives the Love Interest this treatment after accidentally killing her.
  • V gets one in V for Vendetta, his body is laid to rest in the train that delivers his bomb to the British Parliament.
  • Happens in the Hollywood epic The Vikings (1958) by Richard Fleischer. The Viking Funeral of Viking prince Einar (Kirk Douglas) is the last scene of the film (see it on YouTube). The Trope Codifier for cinema, this is the earliest instance to add Flaming Arrows to the mix.
  • In What's New Pussycat?, psychiatrist Peter Sellers, suffering a case of unrequited lust, attempts suicide by Viking funeral, wrapping himself in a Norwegian flag and intending to set himself ablaze with a road flare in a rowboat on a Paris riverfront. He's rudely interrupted by Woody Allen, who chooses the spot for a sit-down dinner.
  • The children honour their grandfather's wishes in What We Did on Our Holiday and give him a Viking funeral. By building a boat of driftwood, a striped sail from a deck chair, and dousing the corpse in petrol before setting fire to it.
  • In When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, Tara's tribe dispose of their dead by placing the body on a funeral pyre built on a raft, lighting the pyre, and then sending the raft out to sea.
  • An explosive example that occurs in modern times, in Wonder Seven. The Lancer of the film has died, and the remaining six members of the titular seven, his Family of Choice gives him an emotional sendoff by strapping his corpse on his beloved motorcycle, send it speeding off a cliff with him on it, and then shooting its fuel tank so that the motorcycle blows up while going off the slope, effectively cremating the owner with his prized motorcycle and giving him a grand, final farewell.

  • Discussed early on in P. C. Wren's adventure novel Beau Geste (1924), when the three Geste brothers stage a "Viking's funeral" with a lead soldier and a toy boat set on fire, and the twelve-year-old Michael "Beau" Geste expresses his wish to be buried in this way. Many years later, his brother Digby fulfills his wish by burning Michael's body on an improvised pyre (though without a boat).
  • The probable Trope Maker is the funeral of King Scyld of Denmark in Beowulf. Scyld's funeral boat is not set on fire, though. Note that Beowulf himself is buried more conventionally, by cremation on a pyre and the remains being put into a mound.
  • In The Dark is Rising: Will gets the sixth and last sign from a great ship, carrying a long-dead king who was an ally of the Light (but not King Arthur), and all his possessions. After he claims it, in an act of spite the Dark sets the whole ship on fire. Will is horrified by it, but Merry points out that Dark was so eager to be spiteful that they didn't think it through. All they have done is give the King a Viking Funeral, which is exactly what he deserves.
  • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe short story collection Short Trips: Time Signature, several of the stories involve the Sixth Doctor trying to show his companion, William, some Vikings. He never succeeds, but after William's death, the Eighth Doctor takes his ashes to Vinland and arranges for him to have a Viking funeral.
  • In the finale of the Conan the Barbarian story, Queen of the Black Coast, Conan sees off one of his greatest loves, the pirate queen Belit, like this, turning her ship into a funeral pyre and sending it out to sea.
  • A very fine how-to-guide appears in the 13th century Heimskringla in the description of the funeral of King Haki of Sweden. This variant involves fire.
  • The Silver Horde in Interesting Times plan to give Teach such a funeral. In fact, they plan to give him every barbarian funeral they can think of.
    Cohen: In a longship set on fire, on top of a heap of the bodies of his enemies, under a burial mound.
  • The Lord of the Rings: At the beginning of The Two Towers, Boromir is laid to rest by Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas in one of the Fellowship's elven boats with his weapons and the swords of the orcs he killed when defending Merry and Pippin. The boat is then pushed into the Anduin and allowed to tumble over the waterfall. This treatment is justified in-story by the fact there is not enough time to give him a "proper" burial, but given that J. R. R. Tolkien studied Beowulf extensively, it is likely he was influenced by the funeral of King Scyld.
  • Prose Edda: The pyre of the god Baldur is built on a ship which is pushed out to sea as the pyre is kindled. Trope Codifier.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • This is the customary burial rite for the Lords of the Riverlands. Played for few laughs at Hoster Tully's funeral, when Edmure repeatedly fails to hit his father's boat with a flaming arrow. Unlike in the TV show, it's due to him spending the previous night grieving and drinking than simple inadequacy, and his uncle Brynden ends up doing it for him more out of pity than frustration.
    • Khal Drogo gets the third variant plus slave, only the slave is the woman who killed him (and she was still alive at the start, making it an improvised execution too.
    • Victarion Greyjoy performs a rather horrific variation when he sacrifices some maidens to the Drowned God and R'hllor the lord of light by giving them a Viking funeral while they're still alive.
  • In Starlight and Shadows, when Captain Hrolf dies, his crew burn his ship along with his body.
  • Tinkers: Howard watches his young son George do this for a mouse, using a piece of bark as a funeral raft and soaking it with turpentine before setting it alight. Howard is reminded of the funerals of old Viking kings.
  • Niobe performs a variant in With a Tangled Skein, by setting the boat she's on on fire, trying to attract Thanatos' attention so she can try to convince him to return her dearly loved husband to life.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Spoofed in The Big Bang Theory where they have a Viking funeral in the bathtub for Amy and Sheldon's discredited theory.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Impossible Astronaut", the Doctor gets one of these. "Last of the Time Lords" features the Master getting one as well. The in-universe reason is that a Time Lord's body, to any other species, is considered a miracle of nature, and sufficiently advanced societies could potentially reverse-engineer some kind of bio-WMD from even a single cell.
  • At the end of "A Reunion ...", the second-season premiere of Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, James van der Beek, having abandoned the idea of a Dawson's Creek Reunion Show, decides to put the past behind him by loading a DVD boxed set of the series and other memorabilia on a rowboat in the Central Park lake and lighting it on fire.
  • In the Fringe episode "The Day We Died", Peter Bishop performs one for his wife Olivia Dunham.
  • The funeral of Catelyn's father Hoster Tully from Game of Thrones used this trope in "Walk of Punishment", played for laughs at first when his son Edmure fails to hit the boat three times, and then for a badass moment when Edmure's uncle Brynden frustratedly seizes the bow, fires an arrow, and tosses it back without even needing to check if it actually hit the boat (it did).
  • General and I: Sima Hong's body is put on a raft and Chu Bei Jie sets it on fire with a burning arrow.
  • Played for laughs in one of Rose's stories on The Golden Girls. She says one of her relatives was being given a Viking funeral, but the fire department kept putting it out.
  • Ghosts (US): This is what Thorfinn wanted to have done with his bones in "Viking Funeral" after they are dug up. This is complicated, however, when Sam and Jay find out that they are worth a fortune. They eventually decide to give him one after finding out that it could lead to him being "sucked up".
  • In one MacGyver (1985) episode, an evil therapist convinces one of his clients to give himself a Viking funeral... And he takes a friend of Mac's to play the part of the slave.
  • Spoofed in one episode of Malcolm in the Middle, when Francis discovers a dead janitor in a hidden closet at Marlin Academy. He decides, along with several other cadets, to give the corpse a send-off worthy of a Viking prince by loading it into a dinghy, along with the janitor's worldly goods, dousing the whole thing with half a can of gasoline, lighting it, and giving it a good push into the lake. Unfortunately one of the other cadets has left the rest of the can of gasoline in the dinghy, and the whole thing drifts into Commandant Spangler's boathouse just as the can ignites, thereby causing it to explode.
  • Merlin (2008):
    • Merlin gives one to Freya, sending her floating on a lake before setting her body on fire magically, from afar.
    • Happens again in Lancelot's second funeral. It's the same lake. Since he Came Back Wrong the first time, this is partially as a gesture of respect and partially a way to ensure it never happens again.
    • In the Grand Finale, Merlin sends off Arthur also in this manner, except that he does not set fire to the body. Earlier in Series 5, the Camelot court gives this to Elyan.
  • Mysterious Ways: Performed for a character in "Something Fishy," although they light the boat on fire with torches before setting it out to drift rather than doing the flaming arrow thing.
    Peggy: It's a Viking funeral.
    Miranda: Yep.
    Peggy: Isn't this illegal?
    Miranda: Yep.
  • Mythbusters: In the finale episode, Adam and Jamie retire Buster, their long-suffering crash test dummy, in a manner truly worthy of Valhalla: dressing him as a superhero, putting him on a rocket sled, and firing him at 800 MPH into a brick wall.
  • Referred to in the NCIS episode "Outlaws and Inlaws" when a small boat with two bodies sails itself into San Diego harbor. Director Vance makes the Viking reference.
  • On Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide a beloved backpack is given this treatment.
  • Norsemen: When Chieftain Olav dies he is set on a raft with his most prized possessions and his brother Orm tries to light it with a flaming arrow, but misses, repeatedly, until it drifts out of range. Though it later turns out they accidentally put the map to the west on the raft and Kark has to go get it. In season 2 the Lawspeaker gets a mound burial instead, the possibility of burying him with a ship is shot down as they've only got the one ship in the village.
  • Riverdale: In "Tangerine", Cheryl finally decides to dispose of her brother Jason's corpse this way. She tearfully ignites the boat carrying Jason's body on fire while Archie and Jughead push it down Sweetwater River.
  • Rizzoli & Isles: Discussed Trope in "Stiffed". During an investigation into a murder at a funeral parlour, Korsac describes the custom to Jane, and she decides that is what she wants for her send-off.
  • Supernatural: Hunters usually give their fallen comrades the third variation to prevent their ghosts from rising. Specifically, the bodies are salted and burned.
  • During Season 1 of The Tribe, Zoot, the psychotic leader of tribe Locos, gets a Viking-style sendoff as well. This is mainly because the local cemetery has been overrun by members of a hostile rival tribe, but also because (as his brother Bray explains) " Zoot thought of himself as a warrior chief."
  • Vikings probably had the single most straight and well-researched version of this trope ever shown on television; having been taken directly from Ahmed Ibn Fadlan's account of the Russ. It comes complete with fighting, drinking, and other festivities and a slave girl being sacrificed and having sex with a couple of men who say "tell your master I did this out of my love for him", which is taken directly from Ibn Fadlan's account. It even has an 'angel of death' overseeing the sacrifice. They sidestep the possible problems of shooting an arrow by just lighting the pyre on the longship while it's at anchor.
  • On Wiseguy, Arms Dealer Mel Proffit gets one courtesy of his sister Susan.
  • Yellowjackets:
    • Attempted by the members of the expedition after one of their own is attacked by wolves. She turns out to be Not Quite Dead, which they discover just after lighting the pyre.
    • In "Edible Complex", teenaged Taissa talks the group into burning team captain Jackie's remains. The cremating process is interrupted when the wind blows snow off a tree branch and on top of the body, leaving it to slow-roast until it's ready to eat. Which the starving survivors do.

  • After Dave Brockie's death in 2014 GWAR gave Oderus Urungus a Viking funeral.
  • The Manowar ballad "Swords In The Wind" references the funeral-pyre version of this trope, owing to the band's general love of Vikings and warriors in general.
    Place my body on a ship, and burn it in the sea
    Let my spirit rise, Valkyries carry me
    Take me to Valhalla, where my brothers wait for me
    Fire burn into the sky
    My spirit will never die!
  • The Of Monsters and Men song "Your Bones" is about one.
    "In the spring we made a boat / out of feathers / out of bones... Said goodbye to you my friend / as the fires spread / All that's left are your bones / That will soon sink like stones"
  • The music video for Canadian band Glass Tiger's song "The Thin Red Line" concludes with a mystical faerie-like being and her child-like assistants giving a Viking funeral to the souls of departed soldiers with makeshift paper boats.

  • In the Season Two finale of Wooden Overcoats, Eric opts to do this for a group of clowns who all died in a car crash together... specifically, the same car. Because Antigone deeply cared for one of the deceased, he allows her and her brother Rudyard to light the fire as a gesture of goodwill.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ruathym in Forgotten Realms apparently does it. At least, in a novel they solemnly cremated a captain with his ship. Unsurprising for the motherland of local Viking stand-ins.
  • The Norscans of Warhammer Fantasy Battle fame, being the most over-the-top of over-the-top Horny Vikings naturally have this form of burial. In the Legend of Sigmar novels, for instance, they cremate a fallen Chaos Lord in his longship just before the titular Sigmar arrives to crash the funeral. While in the Slaves to Darkness trilogy, they merely put their fallen warriors on pyres and start roaring to the heavens, in an act that you'd be forgiven for thinking was cribbed straight from the Klingons on Star Trek.

    Video Games 
  • Ezio gives one to his father and brothers in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.
  • The Banner Saga has a Viking funeral for whoever shot the arrow at Bellower and was subsequently crushed to death. Instead of a burning arrow, the boat is simply lit with a torch while still ashore. The scene even transitions to show the boat reaching the afterlife.
  • The video game based on Zemeckis' Beowulf (2007), like the movie, features one in a cutscene.
  • Deckard Cain receives a funeral on a pyre at the end of the first act of Diablo III.
  • In Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, Billie gives her old boss and mentor, Daud, one of these on her run-down ship, the Dreadful Wale (which itself is a Significant Anagram to "Farewell Daud"). Incidentally, in the High Chaos ending in The Brigmore Witches DLC in Dishonored, Daud also gets sent off this way.
  • Dragon Age: Origins: It appears to be tradition in Ferelden. After the siege, the dead of Redcliffe are sent off in floating pyres. In the Return to Ostagar DLC, this is the most respectful send-off you can give the late King.
  • In the prologue of Dreamfall Chapters, La Résistance members give a Viking funeral (minus the fire arrows) to their fallen leader, April Ryan a.k.a. the Raven.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Morrowind includes an instance of the non-fiery variety in the final resting place of Olmgerd the Outlaw, bastard son of the 1st Era Nordic King Harald Hand-Free. Olmgerd died while raiding in modern-day Morrowind and was given a burial which befits the son of a Nordic king - in his ship, axe in hand, surrounded by treasures. An ancient Daedric crypt was repurposed to hold his ship, which the Player Character can re-discover.
    • Skyrim, true to its Viking-inspired roots, has one of these for Kodlak Whitemane, who is burned on a funeral pyre at the Skyforge following the Silver Hand's attack on Jorrvaskr.
  • The Inca-inspired Yanrana in Lost Ember practice a variant of this. They place the bodies of their dead in canoes at a place called the Whispering Towers. After carving the name of the deceased into the stones, the canoes are set aflame and allowed to drift away, releasing the deceased's soul to enter the City of Light.
  • The Lost Vikings being, well, Vikings, send their fallen off on a burning ship on the game over screen.
  • In PAYDAY 2, the climax of the Rats mission has the crew wiping out members of a drug cartel in a bus on a bridge. The crew can then potentially make the bus go up in flames while trying to recover the cartel's cash due to the C4 rigged around the bus. On the mission results screen, the crew's handler Bain may sometimes joke that the crew "gave them a true Viking funeral. Except they're not Vikings. Sad."
  • The player character in Runescape can build ships and use them to burn the bones of barbarians which can be found in the ancient cavern. Burning mangled bones this way causes a ferocious barbarian spirit to appear which may drop some valuable items when defeated. Burning the rarer chewed bones only dropped by mithril dragons gives even better rewards without having to fight a spirit, including tripling the amount of prayer experience you get for the next few bones you bury or ashes you scatter with the amount depending on the quality of the logs used to make the ship.
  • Valheim: Averted, as the undead Vikings infesting the land are buried in mounds or crypts and not ships.
  • In the The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, once Geralt arrives in Skellige, he witnesses King Bran's funeral which is done in this manner. For extra points, one of Bran's lovers throws herself onto the burning boat as it is sent off to sea.

    Web Animation 
  • In an episode of Camp Camp, when Nikki thinks that she's going to die (long story, and she's actually on her period), she requests that her friends do this to her...when she's still alive. Fortunately, Nurf is a terrible shot.
  • In the Strong Bad Email from Homestar Runner where the Paper is dying, Strong Bad actually responds to the Paper's death by burning it with his BMW lighter.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In All Hail King Julien, upon realizing he can't be the same crazy party prince he was growing up, he throws a Viking funeral for his wild and crazy party self in effigy. He then throws a party to celebrate.
  • In Dragons: Riders of Berk, they do this at least five times whenever someone dies, and surprisingly, it is almost always played straight, only played for laughs when they throw a funeral for a mace.
  • In Il Était Une Fois... l'homme, when the Viking incarnation of Pierre dies in battle, he's given one of these by his family and companions.
  • In the Justice League episode "To Another Shore", Wonder Woman launches an actual Viking longship into the Sun. While reading The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, for some reason. It does have very roughly the right portentous, marine feel, and the person in question had spent centuries trying to die, so points for the vague Flying Dutchman tie-in, but viewers who recognized the poem were still somewhat taken aback. What kind of elegy is that for a Viking prince?
  • In Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil, Gunther gives Kick's helmet a Viking funeral. We even see Nordic god/ancestor constellation entities watching the funeral.
  • Steven Universe: In "Frybo", after Steven's attempt to animate the costume of the fry stand's eponymous mascot goes horribly wrong, Mr. Fryman has what's left of Frybo pushed out to sea in a burning raft. With Steven's animated clothing acting as the pallbearers.
    Mr. Fryman: As greasy in death as he was in life...
  • One where it's Played for Laughs: episode 5 of Metalocalypse ("Murdering Outside the Box") ends with one given to #216: a supposed employee who was really a spy. The circumstances of his death are funny enough, but then comes the funeral itself:
    Skwisgaar: So wait a minute. Stupid Level 2 employees get a Viking Funeral? That's balls.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, when Bart decides he needs to grow up and put away his childish things, he does so by giving them a Viking Funeral.

    Real Life 
  • The Vikings themselves (duh) as reported by Ahmad ibn Fadlan (who also reported the slave thing), though it was generally reserved only for really remarkable chieftains and warlords. Usually the Norsemen simply either interred their dead or cremated them and interred the ashes. If a boat was used, it usually was a simple rowing boat, and it was often used simply as a casket. The reason is obvious: boats, and more so ships, are expensive investments and of more use in mundane and martial tasks than as funerary implements. To be more practical, the Vikings would sometimes instead build fake Stone ships and bury their dead in them, instead of burning real ones. Sometimes, the ship was burned on land and a mound was raised above it. The religious idea behind it was simply that the deceased would travel in the ship to the other side. And sometimes they were buried with a horse so they could ride there.
  • Apparently, certain pet owners found it a more interesting alternative to burial in the garden. You can try searching for "Viking funeral" on YouTube; chances are there won't be many film scenes among the search results.
  • WWII vet Andrew Haines requested a Viking Funeral before his death of natural causes. The Coast Guard allowed it.
  • Ensign Jesse L. Brown, the first African-American naval aviator, could qualify. His plane was shot down during the battle of the Chosin Reservoir. His aircraft crashed, and despite rescue attempts, he died trapped in the wreckage. To prevent his body or the plane from falling into enemy hands, a flight of naval aircraft dropped Napalm on the wreckage, as a pilot recited the Lord's Prayer.
  • Abhorred in the Real Life amongst boaters. A fire onboard a boat or yacht while underway is often fatal, and almost always results in the destruction of said boat. Even if such a funeral were planned, the materials most boats are made of these days would make for some very toxic smoke.
  • Although not actually a funeral, the Shetland festival of Up Helly Aa certainly owes some inspiration to the idea, involving locals dressing up as Vikings and culminating in the burning of a replica longship.
  • The concept is discussed by Ask A Mortician here, including why it's illegal: a fire on a boat is not actually hot enough to cremate a body (a wood fire requires a lot of tending to get and stay that hot, which obviously you cannot do if it's on a boat), so the result would be a lot of charred corpse chunks washing up on shore. She suggests an alternative: cremate the body in a conventional way, then put the ashes in a small boat and burn that (if the waterway allows it, of course).
  • Violently destroying an object (especially electronics and appliances) rather than just throwing it away is often referred to as giving it a Viking funeral. Fire and boat are optional, but encouraged. Usually this is also reserved for a higher (initial) value that has "served dutifully" before dying (breaking or being replaced).
  • In 1989, Arizonan woman Ruby Morris was reported missing after failing to show up to a planned outing with her daughter. It eventually came out that her husband killed her so he could carry on an affair with her sister and in driving her body out to state to the Pacific Ocean to dispose of on his boat, he set it on fire and then took a rental boat back to shore. Neither she nor the boat were ever recovered.
  • The disposal by NASA of the robotic spacecrafts "Galileo" and "Cassini", plunging them at the end of their missions into the atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn respectively burning up in their atmospheres as falling stars, has often been compared to a Viking funeral.


Video Example(s):


Vannak's funeral

Vannak's funeral was attended by the survivors of Silver Team, Dr. Halsey and Kwan Ha after arriving in Aleria. His corpse was lit after John sees him off.

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Example of:

Main / VikingFuneral

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