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Series / Norsemen

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Norsemen (released in Norway as Vikingane) is a Norwegian historical comedy filmed in both Norwegian and English. Set in the 8th Century, it follows a band of Viking raiders, their families, and their slaves.

The comedic twist is that the Norsemen in question do not display (what popular culture has solidified as) normal viking-like behavior or worldviews, but rather act more like their modern day Scandinavian descendants, as they tackle subjects such as power struggles, brother rivalry, gender equality, and betrayal and friendship.


Provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Frøya
  • An Arm and a Leg: Frøya cuts off Jarl Varg’s hands.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Frøya has no use whatsoever for her husband Orm. Arvid ends up with this as Liv becomes more and more of a harridan.
  • Bad Boss:
    • Orm. While acting as chieftain in his brother Olav’s absence, he orders the old men to commit suicide, though only one complies. He gets worse after becoming chieftain.
      Orm: Well, if any of you don’t like it, we have this thing called the Blood Eagle.
      Arvid: Dude, seriously?
    • Jarl Varg. When his warriors try to raise objections about his increasing ruthlessness, he pretends to listen for a long while, then suddenly has one of them killed.
  • Bald of Evil: Jarl Varg
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Arvid is a quiet, shy, socially-awkward, but good-natured guy. You know, when he’s not raping and slaughtering people.
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  • Bi the Way: Rufus mentions off-handedly that he used to have orgies with both men and women.
  • Black and Gray Morality: The heroes are presented as absolutely horrible people, and Orm's villainy springs less from him being worse than them note  and more from him just being an extremely incompetent chieftain. Jarl Varg, on the other hand, is cruel and sadistic even by the series' standards.
  • Black Comedy Rape: It’s a comedy about Vikings. Pretty much a given.
    • Frøya rapes men when raiding, and wears a necklace of their dicks.
    • Jarl Varg threatens to do this to Liv (who actually wants it), but can’t get it up with people watching him.
      Jarl Varg: Arvid! I am about to defile your wife! Seriously! Soon we will become eskimo brothers!
      Arvid: What a douche.
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  • Bloody Hilarious: The show is violent and features a fair amount of dismemberment. It’s also hilarious.
  • Book-Ends:
    • Both the first and the last episode of Season 1 involves Arvid winning a single combat, against Liv's first husband in the first episode and against Jarl Varg in the last.
    • Orm's reign as chieftain starts with him repeatedly failing to hit his brother's funeral boat with a flaming arrow. It ends with him leaving the village on a boat and getting hit in an unfortunate place by a flaming arrow.
  • Butt-Monkey: Orm and Rufus.
  • Cain and Abel: Orm takes advantage of his big brother Olav’s mortal injuries to become chieftain.
  • Camp Straight: Orm is an effeminate fop. Later, when he gets captured in drag and raped by one of Jarl Varg’s men, his enthusiastic lack of resistance indicates he’s probably a bit more Camp Gay. And then there’s the matter of his hand-drawn gay porn...
    Arvid: Passionate sex with another man? Yeah, doesn’t get much gayer than that.
    • Jarl Varg, with his girly mannerisms and high-pitched singsong voice, contrasting his otherwise fearsome appearance.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: When one of Varg’s men reports in while he’s taking a bath, he has to wait for Varg’s slave to finish jerking him off first. It’s even more awkward than it sounds.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: As he admits himself in the first episode, Arvid has neglected every part of life other than fighting, and it shows - he's an amazing fighter, but absolutely terrible at everything else.
  • Cruel Mercy: Orm convinces the other slaves to take a break and talk about themselves, during which he explains that what he wants most is for them all to become True Companions. Cue the guard coming back and declaring that everyone except Orm will be whipped for slacking off from work.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Arvid's holmgang in the first episode. His first strike cleaves his opponent in half.
  • Dirty Coward: Orm
  • Dumb Muscle: Arvid, though he's mostly just Book Dumb and has pretty good common sense.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Arvid is introduced giving enslaved captives a cheerful, flight-attendant-style orientation to their new life as the boat approaches the Norwegian coast. He assures them that they will learn cool new skills and most likely make new friends as well. He then confides in Olav that he feels angst due to the fact that he’s always focused on being a warrior and has no family or property, "Honestly, I’m feeling kind of pathetic here."
    • After running them out of food and ordering the village’s older men to commit suicide, Orm is blown off by Olav, Arvid, Frøya, and the rest of the raiders, while he makes excuses for why he always insists on staying behind. Even his objection to Hildur performing Human Sacrifice to ensure the gods bring the raiders home is clearly not a case of Everyone Has Standards, but rather because as long as they’re gone, he’s in charge.
    • Rufus, an enslaved captive, is understandably not happy with his new status, but is an Entitled Bastard who complains so much that even the other slaves can’t stand him.
    • Subverted with Jarl Varg. He is first seen torturing a slave with nasty looking devices stuck in the poor guy’s mouth while carrying on casual conversation with an underling. Turns out he’s actually a dentist!
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Jarl Varg's warriors don't mind looting and plundering in foreign lands, but they are deeply troubled at having been ordered to rape and kill in a neighbouring village, even seeming to display some sort of PTSD from it.
  • Exact Words: After being made "Creative Director" by Orm, Rufus details Kark and some other slaves to build a stage and amphitheater. They build it exactly to the specifications he gives them...exactly the same size as the schematic drawing.
  • Fake Pregnancy: It turns out that Hildur's claim of being pregnant with Arvid's child was supported only by a pillow beneath her dress.
  • Gold Digger: Liv. She bets against her husband in his holmgang against Arvid, since Arvid is close to Olav and his most likely successor as chieftain. Then she gushes over Jarl Varg and how he’s a "real man," while Varg prances around in the most girly way imaginable, and is excited at the thought of being raped by him. Then she pulls some Loophole Abuse on Arvid to prevent him from divorcing her once he finally does become chieftain, while simultaneously going out of her way to screw over Hildur and Frøya in the pettiest ways possible. Liv’s only concern is marrying into power and status.
  • Happily Married: Olav and Hildur are frequently seen kissing passionately, contrasting the coldness between Orm and Frøya and between Arvid and Liv.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Kark. He doesn’t mind getting branded on his ass and doesn’t even object very strenuously to being a human sacrifice, though he’s very happy when the sacrifice gets cancelled. Rufus, not so much.
  • Horny Vikings: The series lampoons this trope without mercy.
  • Human Sacrifice: In the pilot, Olav’s wife Hildur insists over Orm’s objections that they sacrifice some slaves to Odin to bring the raiders home safely. Kark, standing next to her, quietly gives a "Huh? Goddammit!" expression.
    • When his turn comes up (third in line), Kark asks if it's really necessary. Hildur admits that ritual human sacrifice "is not an exact science," but they don’t have any better ideas. When he suggests that the gods might think she’s trying too hard by sacrificing three slaves, she replies that she thinks it’s great that he, as a slave, is bothering to get involved, but they’re still going with it. Then the ship is sighted, sparing Kark.
    • "So, uh, only two slave sacrifices. Yeah, maybe someone should, you know, make a note of that."
  • I Am Big Boned: Arvid claims he isn't fat, he's got a curved spine.
  • In the Back: How Varg kills Frøya after she curb stomps him during their duel.
  • It Will Never Catch On: When Ragnar shows up with his new invention, a horned helmet, Arvid and Frøya's reaction is, "What the hell is that?" After a drawn-out fashionista argument over the pros and cons of the helmet and the nature of fashion in general, Arvid confidently asserts that horns on your helmet will never become popular. (And to be fair, the Vikings never actually wore horned helmets, making it doubly funny.)
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Obnoxious as Liv is, the lawman points out in Season 2 that she hasn't actually done anything actively wrong other than being too excited about the prospect of being raped by Jarl Varg (and it's not like her not being excited would have changed anything), while on the other hand Arvid has pretty much done at every turn the exact opposite of what a good husband should have.
  • Kick the Dog:
  • Licking the Blade: Jarl Varg does it after stabbing a prisoner. He ends up nicking his tongue.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Arvid has... problems attending to his newly acquired marital duties. Later, Jarl Varg tries to rape Arvid's wife in public to shame him into coming out of hiding, but finds himself unequal to the task, much to her annoyance.
  • Meaningful Name: "Varg" means "wolf." "Orm" means "snake."
  • Minnesota Nice: The premise of the show is that the characters have the lifestyle of medieval (i.e. Viking) Scandinavians but talk like modern Scandinavians. The contrast means that the trope's darker side of passive-aggression and fake-niceness are very much in force - that is, they'll try to be really nice about sacrificing you to the gods, and if you seem to be upset about your impending death they will be very sorry about that, but they'll still sacrifice you to the gods.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Sturla Bonecrusher.
    Orm: The Bonecrusher may be a little rough around the edges, but deep down there's a heart of gold.
    Liv: You don't have a heart of gold if you're called "the Bonecrusher!"
  • Oh My Gods!: The characters swear by Loki, demand to know "what in Helheim" is going on, and so forth. Averted by Rufus (who is from Rome and thus presumably a Christian) who exclaims "Christ!" at one point.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Averted. Most characters stutter, hum and er, pause to search for the right word or use poorly chosen ones, and so on. They also have realistically thick Norwegian accents with some very odd pronounciations of English words. However, characters that we're supposed to take seriously, like Jarl Varg, express themselves far more smoothly.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • If you've never held a sword before and you're facing the best fighter in the village, trying to cheat by poisoning your swordpoint isn't much use - he's just not going to give you the chance to give him so much as a scratch.
    • The victorious fighter ends up on the other side of this trope in the next episode, however. If you don't have a farm or a wife because you've spent your whole life fighting, winning a farm and a wife in a fight won't give you either the temperament for farming or the emotional maturity to have a relationship.
  • Running Gag: Rufus's stolen cape.
  • Shot in the Ass: Rufus and Orm get this with a pair of flaming arrows while escaping from Nurheim in the Season 1 finale.
  • Sissy Villain: Orm is cowardly, effeminate, a very poor fighter (getting his ass kicked by 10-year-old girl) and wants to turn the village into a cultural capital by melting down all the weapons in it and using the metal for artistic installations.
  • Stout Strength: Arvid is rotund, but also very strong.
  • Talk to the Fist: Rufus frequently brings this on himself.
  • Tar and Feathers: Rufus is subjected to this fate after his enforcer leaves due to not being paid, leaving him at the mercy of the villagers he's been pushing around during his time as substitute chieftain.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Orm, when Olav dies. Even moreso when Orm leaves for his first raid and leaves Rufus in charge.
  • Urine Trouble:
    • Rufus wakes up from a dream about a group of beautiful naked girls pouring wine into his mouth to discover two Vikings urinating into his open mouth instead.
    • Hildur relieves herself on Orm's head after he tells her he "should have had you ravaged while I had the chance" while he's buried up to his neck and completely helpless.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Jarl Varg is a warlord with creepy eyes, shaved head, fearsome reputation, and a comically squeaky voice.
  • Wheel of Pain: Norheim keeps one that the slaves have to push in Season 2.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Arvid punches one of his wife's friends when she keeps making fun of him. Orm gutpunches Hildur as punishment for writing insulting rune sticks about him. Jarl Varg gets in a couple of serious hits on Froya during their duel in the Season 2 finale. And of course, when going raiding everyone considers women and children on the raided side to be fair game.
  • 0% Approval Rating: Nobody likes Orm. And somehow Rufus manages to be worse.


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