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Norsemen (released in Norway as Vikingane) is a Norwegian historical comedy series filmed in both Norwegian and English versions. 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, sibling rivalry, gender equality, fashion, existential crises, betrayal and friendship.


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  • Acrofatic: Thoroughly averted as Arvid watches two other warriors leap aggressively down from a high wall, considers for a second, then calls out, "Ah... I think I'll walk around!"
  • Action Girl: Frøya.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Liv is so excited by the number of powerful people at Orm and Frøya's wedding that she has to step outside. She ends up missing the entire wedding, telling her husband, "I had to go for a double."
    Liv: You stay put, Olvar. This is something I have to do myself.
  • Alpha Bitch: Hildur is generally friendly and warm to others, but will do absolutely anything to maintain her position as chieftain's wife including whipping the tattoo off Kark's back which marks him as Olav's secret older brother and therefore the rightful chieftain.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Orm is generally played as being Camp Gay (yet nonetheless closeted), given his lack of resistance to being "ravished" by Jarl Varg's men and his hand-drawn gay porn. However, he also shows enthusiasm for sleeping with Frøya (though he initially assumes she is a man given her warrior get-up). Ultimately, he seems to be attracted to people who are physically stronger and more stereotypically masculine than he is, whether or not they are men or women.
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  • An Arm and a Leg: Frøya cuts off Jarl Varg’s hands.
  • Anatomically Impossible Sex: The entire longhouse (and Orm) is drenched after Olav and Hildur give Orm an educational demonstration before his wedding night, to the point that slaves are mopping the floor.
    Olav: And that's how you produce a fountain orgasm, Orm.
  • Artistic License – History: Arnstein tries to persuade Liv to move to Iceland with him, as he has family there. The show is set at the end of the eighth century, but the Norse colonization of Iceland only began in the ninth.
  • 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:
    • While acting as chieftain in his brother Olav’s absence, Orm 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
  • Been There, Shaped History: The historic raid on Lindisfarne, which infamously kicked off the Viking age in England, is carried out by Olav, Arvid, Frøya, Ragnar and the other warriors of Norheim.
    • Early in season 2 Arvid idly suggests that they might look into starting a colony in England. The season 2 finale somewhat suggests that the Norheimers fleeing Jarl Varg established the first of the Danelaw settlements.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Blatant Lies: Orm's explanation for the collection of wooden "objects" in his private chest:
    Orm: It's a tent peg. There's a law against having tent pegs?
  • 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: Jarl Varg, with his girly mannerisms and high-pitched singsong voice, contrasting his otherwise fearsome appearance.
  • The Can Kicked Him: Olav is stabbed several times while on the "shitting log", though he doesn't die for several hours, until Orm finishes him off.
  • Chekhov's Army: The old men Orm ordered to commit suicide in the first episode chickened out and hid in the forest, until Kark led Arvid to them to fight off Varg’s men in the season finale.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The nomad chieftain who’d last appeared in episode 3, stabbing Olav repeatedly, reappears at the Thing in season 2 as part of Jarl Varg’s plan to goad Arvid into breaking the Thing peace.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Jarl Varg.
  • Closet Key: Orm's excitement at the fact that Roman orgies include both women and men is an early clue to his sexuality.
  • 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.
  • Cold Open: Episode 4 opens with Frøya dragging a body out of the water, it turns out later than Orm jumped off a boat in a bout of over-emthusiasm.
  • 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.
  • Defiled Forever: A bit of a twist in that it gets applied to the rapist. Torstein (who is straight) is not okay with it when he discovers that the "woman" he raped was in fact Orm. Orm (who is...not entirely straight) thinks they should start a relationship.
  • Demoted to Extra: Arvid, who is (along with Orm) at the center of seasons 1 and 2, essentially becomes a tertiary character in season 3, getting about as much screen time as Ragnar. Partially justified in season 3 being a prequel, and Arvid not having yet become much more than a random warrior in the village.
  • Dirty Coward: Orm.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • The reason for Jarl Varg's descent into madness and evil? The leader of a neighboring settlement (his best friend, to boot) makes fun of his thinning hair—so he snaps and burns all the villagers, along with his own wife, alive.
    • Jarl Varg is pretty much the poster boy for this trope. For example, when his map table collapses after Arvid leans on it, he sentences the carpenter to lose two limbs and be castrated.
    • Orm is vengeful as well as downright petty. Once he regains the chieftainship, he has two of the slaves he worked alongside buried alive, as retribution for being left out of their after-work party. Even mild-mannered Kark calls him out on it.
    Kark: You miss one Friday mead, and this is how you react?
  • Duel to the Death: Olav suggests Arvid challenge the richest non-warrior farmer in the village to a holmgang as a solution to his lack of purpose in life. Said farmer tries to cheat with a poisoned sword, but Arvid cleaves him in twain before he has the chance to use it.
  • 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.
  • Eye Scream: An old slave is talking about how he has served his time and will be freed tomorrow. He goes on and on about how he wants to see the world and take in all the sights it has to offer (even listing off a large number of synonyms for seeing), until he gets hit in the eyes by one of Arvid's bow shots gone awry.
  • 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.
  • Fan Disservice: The full-on view of Orm's scrotum about to be whipped as punishment for letting Vag's captive escape.
  • The Fashionista: Ragnar is always on top of the latest trends, and frequently tries to explain the principles of fashion to the other characters.
    Ragnar: The helmet is a basic head cover, right? But when you add some other material, like horns, it becomes something else. It's no longer just a helmet—it's something bigger. It tells a story. And that is what fashion is all about.
  • Freudian Excuse: Orm's villainy and lack of loyalty to Norheim can be to some extent explained by his growing up as The Unfavorite—even the slaves don't want to hang out with him.
  • Gold Digger: Liv 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 threatens to murder everyone in the village, 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. As we learn in Season 3, this started with her screwing over and abandoning her slave family, including her own children, to make sure she would have her freedom purchased by Olvar, since it was the only guaranteed way to freedom, as opposed to the chance of her whole family maybe being set free as a reward for their hard work.
  • 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 doesn’t mind getting branded on his ass and doesn’t object very strenuously to being a human sacrifice (though he’s still happy when the sacrifice gets cancelled). Later, he mentions to Rufus that he had already served his time and been freed, but then went back to being a slave because he liked it better.
  • Harmless Villain: Orm manages to get one or two nasty things in there but can't even do that right, as his gutpunch on Hildur still leaves her able to tell him he'll regret that, and he's only successful in murdering his completely helpless dying brother *after* failing to smother him (twice!), and literally reaches into his gaping chest to rip his heart out. Another time he arrives late to a battle and snarls 'This one's mine' at the sole remaining enemy combatant — a young girl, who promptly demolishes him.
  • Hates Small Talk: Torstein, Jarl Varg's right-hand man, worries about having to make small talk at Orm and Frøya's wedding.
  • Horny Vikings: The series lampoons this trope without mercy.
  • How We Got Here: Season 3 is essentially a whole season flashback that reveals the backstories of the characters, as well as introducing some new ones to add a little tension and avoid a 100-percent Foregone Conclusion storyline.
  • 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.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Arvid is made out to be by far the most handsome fellow in Norheim. While he's not ugly, it's a stretch to call him "the hands-down prettiest faced person" in town. The way Frøya goes for him makes it clear this remark was not just flattery.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Orm's explanation for why he wasn't actually raped by Torstein while acting as chieftain of Norheim:
    Orm: The chieftain used fingers and tongue and counter-humped so violently that he went from "ravishee" to "ravisher." So if anyone is to be accused of being raped, it has to be the original rapist. Yes, because I actually ended up raping him with my anus. So the answer to whether the chieftain of Norheim was raped is a resounding no.
  • 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:
    • Being a slave is clearly no fun at all, and the Vikings often mess with slaves in obscenely cruel and bizarre ways (though Rufus brings it on himself). According to Kark: "You have to hand it to the Vikings, they’re really creative about this sort of thing!"
    • Orm forcing Kark to bury two of his fellow slaves alive at the Lawspeaker’s funeral, just for excluding him from their mead socials, probably takes the cake.
    • Hildur kicks it hard in the Season 2 finale, when she sees Varg about to stab Frøya In the Back and decides to say nothing.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Being from Rome, a slave amongst barbarians, Rufus never fails to put himself up on the pedestal of culture and civilisation when he has the chance. In particular, when he, Orm and Liv are fleeing to Rome, they follow the sun because Rome is south and 'the sun is always in the south, everyone knows that'. Reality Ensues and they spend months on the run only to never get more than three days march from Norheim.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Jarl Varg almost leans over the wall in Season 3, but then pulls back:
    Varg: This map will create a lot of problems for many people, for several seasons.
    Olav: Seasons?
    Varg: Winter, spring, summer and fall. Several seasons.
  • 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.
  • MacGuffin: The Map to the West.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Orm and Frøya.
  • 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.
  • Mushroom Samba: Hildur and Kark mix some shaman herbs into mead they serve to Orm, Rufus, and Liv; giving them (and Kark, who Liv forced to drink to prove there weren’t “genital fluids” in it) a very trippy night while the rest of Norheim loaded onto the ship and bailed for England.
  • 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!"
  • No One Could Survive That!: Stated verbatim by one of Jarl Varg's goons in The Thing. The goons then discuss the fact that assuming their enemy's death without checking the body is a classic mistake — but, since he went off a cliff, and their leader is terrified of heights, they decide not to check.
  • Obliviously Evil: Quoth one murderous rapist to another murderous rapist: "Good things happen to good people. And we're good. You and I."
  • 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.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted, as there are two characters named Bjørn (the old man who does the Ättestupa in Season 1 and Jarl Bjørn, Jarl Varg's enemy in Season 3).
  • Parody: Of Vikings, with Frøya being a particularly obvious Expy of Lagertha from that show. However, despite its comedic tone and lower budget, Norsemen is arguably the more historically accurate of the two shows.
  • Pervy Patdown: Orm hides underneath the local "shitting log" and feels people up as they are relieving themselves. The whole town of Norheim believes that this is incredibly Sick and Wrong.
  • Plot Allergy: The Lawspeaker is said to be allergic to hornet stings just before Orm unleashes an angry swarm of them in his house. He’s still able to wheeze out some rather incriminating last words through the anaphylactic shock though.
  • Prequel: Season 3 is this, and the show's creators have argued that it should be treated as Season 0.
  • 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 pronunciations 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.
    • Taunting your enemy from two or three hundred yards away across the battlefield will get a lot of laughs from your own army; all it will get from your enemy is calls of "Speak up! You're too far away! I can't hear what you're saying!" Eventually you'll just have to go meet halfway.
  • Retirony: The old slave talking about coming to the end of his servitude and going on about seeing the world, who then takes two stray arrows directly to the eyes. He survives, his eyes do not.
  • The Reveal: Kark is Olav and Orm's long-lost older brother.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Right before their holmgang, Olvar declares that Arvid will regret challenging him. Olvar seriously overestimates his own chances, but Arvid's victory results in his being stuck married to an obnoxious, domineering Gold Digger.
  • 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.
  • Spiritual Successor: To other historically-based satirical shows such as Blackadder.
  • Start of Darkness: Being a prequel, Season 3 goes into Jarl Varg's backstory.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Jarl Varg's realization, when he finally gets his hands on the much-sought Map to the West, that all one has to do is... sail West.
  • 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.
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: Orm loves crocheting.
    Orm: Crocheting is my life!!
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Rufus, kidnapped into slavery, is a primary Butt-Monkey of the series, and probably justified in complaining about his life. Nevertheless, he is portrayed as a miserable excuse for a human being and pretty much every word out of his mouth is wrong.
    Rufus: Lindisfarne? What an insignificant place. A classic example of the kind of place that will never be mentioned in any history book. (cue historic first Viking raid in England, at Lindisfarne)
  • 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.
  • Vorpal Pillow: Subverted, we see that Orm tried to smother his mortally wounded brother Olav with a pillow, twice, to absolutely no effect. So he reaches into his gaping chest wound and squeezes his heart instead.
  • Wheel of Pain: Norheim keeps one that the slaves have to push in Season 2.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Season 3 reveals Jarl Varg's evolution from a decent and noble man to a monster, all because his best friend and his wife commented on his thinning hair during a feast; the humiliation drove him to insanity and murder.
  • 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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