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"Soon, all the kings of England will be kings of...nothing."
— Ravn
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The Last Kingdom is a British TV series produced by The BBC based on The Saxon Stories, an on-going series of Historical Fiction novels by Bernard Cornwell, starring Alexander Dreymon (American Horror Story: Coven) as Uhtred of Bebbanburg and David Dawson (Ripper Street) as Alfred the Great.

Set during the second half of the 9th-century when the various kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England are in danger of being overrun by Viking invaders from Denmark, the series follows Uhtred, the rightful ealdorman (earl) of Bebbanburg (modern Bamburgh, Northumberland). Captured as a boy and raised by Danes after his uncle usurps his birthright, Uhtred comes to identify himself as Danish but misfortune and hopes of reclaiming Bebbanburg drive him into the service of Wessex, the titular last kingdom of the Saxons. From there, the story revolves around Uhtred's conflicting loyalties between the Danes and King Alfred, the man who dares to dream of a united England that can stand up to the invaders.

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The second TV series adapted from Cornwell's books after Sharpe, it premiered on BBC America on October 10, 2015 and on BBC Two on October 22. After an eight-episode run, it was renewed for a second season, which started airing on March 16, 2017. Season three was released exclusively on Netflix on November 19, 2018 and it was renewed for a fourth in December.

The first season adapts the first two books, The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman. The second season then adapts The Lords of the North and Sword Song. The third adapts The Burning Land and Death of Kings.

Teaser 1, Teaser 2.


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The TV series provides examples of:

  • Action Dad: Lord Uhtred the Elder and Earl Ragnar the Fearless. Also, Uhtred himself after the birth of his son.
    • Ragnar the Elder takes the cake, along with the arms of the guy who handed it to him, given that he's so tough he can slaughter several assailants in his nightclothes while on FUCKING FIRE.
  • Actually, That's My Assistant: Uhtred is mistaken for the promised king when he and Guthred (the actual king) enter Cumbraland; this applies even to Father Eothred who dreamed of Guthred's coming as the rightful king.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Father Beocca is described in the books as one of the most ugly men Uhtred has ever known. In the show he's played by Ian Hart.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • While Brida was formidable in the books, she wasn't the axe-throwing Action Girl she is here.
    • Father Beocca develops into a Composite Character of himself and the ex-warrior Father Pyrlig.
    • 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 after the raid or personally kill Iseult.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Uhtred is blond in the books, but dark-haired here (the opposite of Sharpe). The same happens with Ubba who is described as being swarty but is very blond like the archetypical viking in th show.
    • Harald Bloodhair goes from blond to blackhaired in the adaptation.
  • Adaptation Name Change: In the books, Skorpa's name is Sveinn. Presumably, this was changed to avoid confusion with Sven Kjartansson.
  • Adapted Out: Uhtred has Named Weapons in the books: his sword Serpent-Breath and his seax Wasp-Sting. In the show they're left unnamed and his sword has a different design. Still, a nod to this remains when Earl Ragnar calls him a wasp who's lost his sting.
    • Halfdan is completely omitted.
  • Adult Fear: Alfred and his wife Ælswith spend the majority of Episode 7 tormented by the failing health of their infant son, Edward.
  • Aerith and Bob: Because a few Norse and Saxon names have remained current to the present day, you have familiar names like Edmund and Alfred alongside others like Uhtred, Ubba, and Æthelwold. As the books note, Alfred should strictly be Ælfræd ("Wise Counsel") but the familiar form is kept because it's just too ingrained.
  • Age Cut: Ragnar pushes 12-year-old Uhtred off a bridge and 18-year-old Uhtred emerges from the water.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Middle-aged father Beocca tries to help a young traumatized girl Thyra who was imprisoned as a sex slave to Sven, and he falls in love with her. She seems to have found her safe place with him. Uhtred advises his friend Beocca to ask her to marry him. Beocca says that he knows he could be her much, much older brother, and he is a Saxon while she is a Dane. However, they get married and seem very happy together.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: What is that? Forests on Iceland? Well, this is before excessive deforestation to make ships, creation of grazing grounds and climate change made Iceland the tree-less island it is today.
  • Arc Words: Not in the show itself, but Once an Episode Uhtred closes his Opening Narration with the words "Destiny is all", paraphrasing the books' arc words "Wyrd bið ful aræd" ("Fate remains totally inexorable"), which is a line from the actual Anglo-Saxon poem The Wanderer.
  • Arch-Enemy: Uhtred faces a lot of enemies, but his usurping Evil Uncle Ælfric, the Viking leader Ubba Lothbroksson, and The Resenter Odda the Younger are most like this to him.
    • Ælfric simply wants Uhtred dead so he can claim Bebbanburg without issue. He allows Uhtred to follow his father into battle, hoping he'll be killed. He is foiled when Ragnar the Fearless first captures and then adopts the boy. But years later, he allies with Kjartan when the latter takes revenge on Ragnar, and sends a henchman to make sure Uhtred dies. He later sends assassins against him but is Out of Focus after that.
    • Ubba believes the lie spread by Ælfric and/or Kjartan that Uhtred betrayed Ragnar, and he just won't accept Uhtred's denials, perhaps because he considers him an Anglo-Saxon. As one of the two most prominent Danish leaders along with Earl Guthrum, he's also an Arch-Enemy of Alfred and the Saxons in general.
    • Uhtred and Odda's relationship escalates from being mere Sitcom Arch-Nemeses into arch-enemies when Odda takes Uhtred's wife and child away for their safety without his knowledge, and later when Odda steals credit for Uhtred's deeds, making Uhtred draw his sword on him both times. And unknown to Uhtred, Odda had attempted to convince the elder Odda to abandon him while he was on a mission for the Saxon army that led to those deeds. Later, Odda insists on Uhtred's death when he is convicted of raiding Cornwall.
  • Arranged Marriage: Uhtred enters into one with Mildrith purely to gain lands and a title in Wessex. Despite this, it proves a happy match until their son is born and cultural and religious differences take their toll.
  • Arrested for Heroism: After spying on the Viking army and bringing word back to the West Saxons, Uhtred and Brida are imprisoned as hostages to their information while the battle is fought.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • Unlike the books, the English weapons and tactics appear suspect since they carry rectangular shields instead of round ones like the Danes and Uhtred must explain shieldwall tactics to them. In reality, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes came to England from roughly the same place as the Danes and had a very similar social and military culture.
    • As in the books, Ubba is given the patronymic "Lothbroksson" as a son of the famous Ragnar Lothbrok to avoid another "Ragnarsson".note 
    • Æthelwold is a historical character, but he was only an infant when his father died, not the young man the series portrays him as.
  • Artistic License – Traditional Christianity: Played with humorously. The King of East Anglia tries to convert Ubba and his men, but since they don't grasp the basic premises behind Christian faith, they totally misinterpret everything they are told. They see Heaven as Valhalla without the eternal fighting, feasting or humping (which is what the Danes are looking forward to in Valhalla). They see baptism as forcing someone to take a bath (which shows something that is true across all religions - if you don't understand and accept the spiritual component of a ritual, going through the physical component is meaningless and possibly rather silly). And the tale of St Sebastian is seen not as a holy martyr, but just some guy who took multiple attempts to kill (Ubba then tries to reproduce Sebastian's miraculous survival on the King, with little success). In all cases the King is speaking of his faith fairly accurately, it's just that the Danes just don't get what he's talking about.
  • Ass Shove: Storri the soothsayer tries to curse Brida, so she strips him naked and stuffs a branch up his arse.
  • Audible Sharpness: Generally an Enforced Trope.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Both the Danes and Anglo-Saxons run on this, but it's subverted with Alfred who is a solid and respected leader even though he's not a physically imposing badass. Before taking the crown, he is well aware of how he doesn't fit expectations.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: This mentality leads King Ælla to be drawn into a Defensive Feint Trap and defeated at the Battle of Eoforwic.
  • Ax-Crazy: Ubba.
  • An Ax To Grind: To be expected of Vikings and Saxons. Brida is perhaps the most notable example, and allowing Ubba to die axe-in-hand is given Due to the Dead significance.
  • Back from the Brink: Being that England is called "England" rather than "Daneland" today, its obvious that no matter how dark things seem, Wessex and the Anglo-Saxons will never be completely snuffed out by the Danes.
  • Badass Beard: Near ubiquitous. Notably not sported by less badass characters like Odda the Younger and Æthelwold.
  • Badass Boast: Father Beocca delivers one in the final battle to Skorpa after he presents Iseult's severed head to taunt Uhtred.
    Beocca: You will be struck down by my spear! And you will spend eternity in the fires of Hell!
  • Badass Bookworm: Alfred. Uhtred finds him remarkably well informed and as Leofric remarks, he's a ruthless Manipulative Bastard. Beocca also warns Uhtred that Alfred will see right through him (Uhtred's motivations at this point are solely to use Alfred as a means to the end of retaking Bebbanburg) and he does. Alfred is also completely unfazed by Ubba's temper and Guthrum's threats, calmly informing them that he is not going to surrender and that they can accept his terms or starve.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: While his feeble health prevents him from being personally dominant on the battlefield, Alfred of Wessex wields a pen to great effect in collecting information and running the kingdom of Wessex.
  • Badass Family: Uhtred has the good fortune to be born into a Saxon one and raise by a Danish one.
  • Badass Preacher: Father Beocca's involvement in the Battle of Ethandun definitely makes him this.
  • Barbarian Hero: Uhtred.
  • Barbarian Longhair: Most Danes. Uhtred keeps his knotted behind his head.
  • Beard of Barbarism: The more barbarous Vikings also lay claim to the more outrageous facial hair.
  • Beautiful Slave Girl: Brida.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Uhtred. Captured by the Great Heathen Army as a child, witness to the death of Edmund the Martyr, advisor to Alfred the Great, etc.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Ragnar kills his wife and father rather than leaving them to burn.
  • Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Stay in your hall to burn, or be massacred by the murderers outside.
  • Big Brother Instinct:
    • Uhtred saves Ragnar the Elder's daughter Thyra from being raped (or molested further) by Sven. No doubt this helped make Ragnar decide to adopt him.
    • Years later, Ragnar the Younger saves Uhtred from being killed when he's a hostage of a Viking army. He dares the others to kill him first and threatens that his own men will leave if this happens.
    • Inverted when Uhtred saves Ragnar the Younger from being killed in battle between their armies.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Uhtred, when he saves Ragnar's daughter from a Near-Rape Experience.
    • After Uhtred kills Ubba in a duel, Ubba's men prepare to swarm him under, but he is saved by the arrival of Odda's men.
  • Big Good: Alfred of Wessex, even though Uhtred doesn't like him much.
  • Blasphemous Boast: Guthrum dares God to strike him down for trashing an altar, then scoffs, "I thought not," when nothing happens.
  • Bling of War: Discussed. Uhtred makes his heirloom amber the pommel-stone of his new sword, but the smith reminds him that a sword is a tool first and foremost.
  • Blood Knight: Ubba doesn't seem to have any real ambitions beyond fighting for the sake of fighting.
  • Book-Ends: The first episode begins and ends with a Decapitation Presentation at the gates of Bebbanburg.
  • Braids of Barbarism: Popular among Danes like Ubba.
  • The Bully: Sven, who tries to beat up Uhtred for being a thrall.
  • Call That a Formation?:
    • Averted by the Danes, who form a very respectable shield wall in the first episode and use it to overcome the Northumbrians.
    • Deconstructed by the English who—unlike in the books—eschew their historical shield-wall tactics initially and get their arses handed to them by Danes who use one. However, once Uhtred teaches them the tactic, they employ it frequently, are often shown drilling shield formations, and are rewarded with better success.
  • Canon Foreigner: The Saxon Halig was invented for the show. He get's to do a lot of action in the 8th episode of season 1 where he is introduced and becomes a member of Uhtred's routine in season 2. He is also made a slave by Guthred and sold to Sverri and dies on the slave ship.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Uhtred and Brida, who grow up together among the Danes.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: It's the 9th century.
  • Clear My Name: Uhtred tries this. Ubba does not believe him.
  • Coitus Interruptus: Uhtred is not impressed when he returns to his estate to find his bailiff Oswald having sex in his bed.
  • Composite Character:
    • Leofric takes on the role of Steapa the Clever in being made to duel Uhtred. Since Leofric's death, the actual Steapa has since made an appearance.
    • The normally gentle Good Shepherd Father Beocca is eventually combined with Father Pyrlig, a Badass Preacher helping Uhtred in battle. The actual Father Pyrlig has made an appearance as of the second half of season 2. If Pyrlig will take over the role Beocca had been fulfilling remains to be seen.
    • Erik and Siegfried are given Ivar Ivarsson's role.
    • Guthrum takes the on stage role Ivar the Boneless had in the original story.
    • Due to Halfdan being omitted, Ubba takes his role of going to Ireland to avenge Ivar the Boneless. Ubba also gets all of Ivar's lines.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The first episode condenses most of Uhtred's life among the Danes through a Time Skip, but not before Ragnar adopts him.
  • Conflicting Loyalties: Uhtred is too unruly to be a Saxon and too ambitious to be a Dane. His current preference in usually determined by which side has offended him most recently.
  • Consulting a Convicted Killer: Alfred mainly sees Uhtred as a valuable source of insight into how the Danes think.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: In the case of Brida since she leaves Uhtred shortly afterwards to rejoin the Danes.
  • Cool Old Guy:
    • Ravn, who is blind with age but not senile, serves as Uhtred's very first mentor among the Danes.
    • Odda the Elder.
  • Cool Sword: Uhtred has one made for himself, though this being the 9th Century, it's still fairly rudimentary.
  • Corrupt Church:
    • Mildrith's father left her a huge debt to the Church and it falls to Uhtred once he marries her. When Odda threatens that her land might fall into the Church's hands, the local bishop tells her not to worry since it's good to give to the Church.
    • Later, the same bishop is quite content to accept a silver crucifix illegally looted from Cornwallum as payment for Uhtred's outstanding debt and as a bribe to absolve him of the need to pay a weregild for murder.
  • Crapsack World: Life in Anglo-Saxon England is harsh at the best of times, and the brutal Viking invasions have thrown everything that was stable into disarray.
  • Crisis of Faith:
    • Ubba tries to provoke one of these in King Edmund before sending him to meet his God, but he remains committed.
    • Later Uhtred tries to provoke Ubba in similar fashion, telling him that Njörd, god of the sea, has wrecked Guthrum's ships since they have let Ragnar the Elder's real killers go unpunished.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • King Ælla of Northumbria, who is spared the blood eagle attributed to him in the sagas but the Danes still toy with him like baited bear before killing him.
    Ravn: Did he die well?
    Uhtred: No.
    Ravn: Well, then he shouldn't have been king.
    • As per history, King Edmund of East Anglia is turned into a Human Pincushion by Ubba and his men.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The battle at Eoforwic that starts off the series, where the Danes overwhelm the united forces of Osberht, Ælla, and Uhtred the Elder and overrun the kingdom of Northumbria.
  • Damsel in Distress: Sven carries off Ragnar's daughter Thyra after years of lusting after her... but this subplot is Out of Focus in later episodes even though her brother Ragnar the Younger comes to know of it.
  • Death by Sex: Inverted. Uhtred and Brida survive the razing of Ragnar's lands because they were out humping in the woods when the attack started.
  • Death Seeker: Averted by several Christians who insist that while they look forward to Heaven they are in no hurry to get there.
  • Decapitation Presentation:
    • Ragnar presents Lord Uhtred with the head of his eldest son, who was sent to scout Ragnar's movements.
    • Uhtred returns to Bebbanburg to present Ælfric with the head of the henchman sent to kill him.
    • Skorpa of the White Horse gleefully presents Uhtred with the head of Iseult as a taunt. It, uhh... doesn't end well for him.
  • Decisive Battle: Discussed by Alfred and Uhtred in Episode 7.
    Alfred: If I am to fight, it would have to be a single battle and soon before yet more Danes arrive; before Wessex crumbles skirmish by skirmish, raid by raid, piece by piece. Therefore, the first task would be: somehow convince the Danes to hold one great and deciding moment.
    Uhtred: A single, defining battle.
    Alfred: Yes.
  • Defensive Feint Trap: The Northumbrian army falls victim to one at Eoforwic.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • The Danes and Saxons formally exchange hostages during a truce. When that truce is broken, both sides kill their hostages on the spot. While arranging formal hostages used to be done as late as the 19th century, more modern armies might at least have sentenced them to death first, if not still keeping them alive as prisoners of war.
    • Uhtred is within his rights to murder a man for embezzling from his estate, it's refusing to compensate the man's family that's illegal.
  • Demoted to Extra: Or rather "Demoted to The Ghost." Ivar the Boneless is mentioned but never appears in person.
  • Dirty Coward: Sven One-Eye.
  • Dissimile: When explaining the Christian heaven to Ubba, Uhtred declares: "Heaven is Valhalla, lord, to the Christians, but without the feasting, fighting, and humping."
  • Doomed Hometown: Subverted by Bebbanburg, but played straight by Ragnar's homestead.
  • The Dreaded: Ubba.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Uhtred leaves his heavily pregnant wife to serve as one of Guthrum's hostages, knowing that Guthrum will likely try to kill him the moment that the truce the hostage exchange was meant to seal is no longer necessary. He then escapes and lights the warning beacons, alerting Wessex to the coming war in time to muster. Then he rides to war on one of the two fronts, comes up with a strategy to stop the Danish advance, and implements the most dangerous part of it personally, including killing Ubba in a Duel to the Death. Then when he returns to Winchester after bringing his wife and heir home, he finds that Odda the Younger has stolen the credit for the victory. And to top it off, when he protests this, Alfred has him go through ritual humiliation for the uncouth manner in which he did so (it involved drawing steel in a King's hall without leave, a serious crime) without ever saying anything about whether or not his grievance would be addressed or even investigated.
  • Duel to the Death:
    • Uhtred is challenged to one by Ubba after he is caught setting fire to his ships.
    • Uhtred is forced into another by the Witan, this time against his friend Leofric.
    • Ragnar and Kjartan have a particularly vicious one in season 2.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • Uhtred ensures Ubba dies with his axe in his hand and insists he be buried with it. Unfortunately, Odda the Younger takes the axe as a symbol of victory instead and later plans to discard the bones as well in order to build a church on the site. Alfred insists the bones be reburied properly, but it's unknown if this was actually done.
    • After Odda the Younger is killed, his father begs that he be buried as befitting his rank, but Alfred refuses since he committed treason right in front of him.
    • Uhtred places Leofric's sword in his hand after he falls in battle, and insists he be buried as an ealdorman.
    • Beocca goes out of his way to restore Isuelt's mutilated body after Skorpa kills her so she can be given a proper burial. When Uhtred remarks that she would want a funeral pyre, Beocca assures him it will be done. It's especially heartwarming considering that Beocca, a Catholic Priest, is going out of his way to ensure that she receives Pagan burial rites.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Earl Ragnar dies charging lots of enemies alone while on fire.
  • Easy Logistics: Averted. When Uhtred realizes that the Danes are going to start their next campaign ahead of schedule, he concludes that their first move in the coming winter campaign will be to secure a food supply. He then recommends to the Saxons that they take up a blocking position on the road from the Danish crossing point to the nearest town with a large supply of edible livestock.
  • Elective Monarchy: Wessex. While the previous king's choice has great influence, it is the council of nobles, the Witan, that ultimately chooses the next king.
  • Entitled to Have You: Sven has this attitude towards poor Thyra.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Kjartan loves his son Sven and plots murder and destruction in retribution for his disfigurement.
    • Ubba briefly leaves Guthrum exposed and undermanned in Wessex so he can avenge his brother Ivar in Ireland.
  • Evil Uncle: Ælfric, who deprives Uhtred of his rightful inheritance.
  • Exact Words:
    • Father Beocca says Skorpa will die by his spear. He tosses it to Uhtred.
    • An inversion. Aelfric stating that he wanted Uhtred dead was the literal part. Guthred believed Uhtred being as good as dead as a slave would be good enough. It wasn't. Aelfric and his men went right back to Bebbanburg upon discovering that Guthred had not followed his words exactly.
  • Eye Scream:
    • Ragnar puts out Sven's eye as punishment for molesting his daughter.
    • Iseult inflicts a more lethal version on a Dane raping a nun in Episode 7.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Odda the Younger rides to tell Afred of Ubba's defeat - and takes credit for Uhtred killing him.
  • Family Theme Naming:
    • Uhtred shares his name with his father, older brother, and son.
    • Earl Ragnar the Fearless has a son named Ragnar.
    • Alfred's brother King Æthelred, his nephew Æthelwold, and his daughter Æthelflæd. ("Æthel" means "noble", and was very popular in the Wessex dynasty).
  • The Fettered: Uhtred takes oaths very seriously. The one he swears to Alfred early in the series is generally the only thing holding him to Wessex.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Like all Historical Fiction. Wessex will survive and push out the Danes to make a united England. The real drama comes from fictional characters like Uhtred.
  • Forging Scene: The show intercuts the forging of Uhtred's new sword with him and Brida in bed together.
  • For the Evulz: Skorpa likes doing this (examples include taunting Uhtred with the knowledge his adopted sister is alive as a sex slave of Sven, and presenting him with Iseult's severed head.)
  • Gilligan Cut: In the second episode, Uhtred informs Brida that he's thinking about having sex with her. She tells him quite sharply that it's not happening. Shortly afterwards...
  • The Good Kingdom: With all the other Anglo-Saxon realms overrun, Wessex must stand alone against the Danes.
  • Good Shepherd: Father Beocca, Uhtred's family priest and later Alfred's confessor, looks out for Uhtred as much as he's able to - like telling him his uncle wants him dead, and vouching for him to Alfred despite misgivings about his pagan life among the Danes.
  • Go Out with a Smile: When Ubba dies a warrior's death.
  • Going Native: Uhtred's upbringing among the Danes, most notably turning him from a Christian into a pagan.
  • Grey and Grey Morality: The Vikings are the invaders and generally more violent, but the Saxons are far from saints themselves. Even Uhtred is not above murdering a man for felling timber without his permission and keeping the money from its sale,note  and then refusing to compensate his family.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Brida gets her kills with a throwing axe. Later averted when Iseult kills a Dane with a knife in Episode 7, and when Brida and Sister Hild fight in the shield-walls in Episode 8.
  • Happily Adopted: Uhtred and Brida among the Danes.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Uhtred and Brida as thralls to Ragnar.
  • Headbutt of Love: Hild gives one to Uhtred after he is rescued from slavery
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Uhtred has yet to wear a helmet except during his childhood attempt to fight at Eoforwic. However, supporting characters do sometimes wear them such as Leofric while raiding Cornwallum and Guthrum when he sacks Wintanceaster.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Truth in Television for Saxons and Danes alike. Uhtred pays 10 silver pieces to have one made for him. Actually, if anything there are too many mooks carrying swords rather than spears or axes.
  • Hidden Depths: After only being presented as a drunken weakling, Prince Æthelwold does Uhtred a favour by making a mockery of the proceedings as they're both being publicly shamed. Later, he aspires to be a proper warrior and eventually acquits himself well. And though his loyalty is shown to waver to the point where Guthrum orders him to assassinate Alfred, he ultimately sides with him.
  • Historical-Domain Character: As is expected of Historical Fiction.
    • Members of the royal House of Wessex such as Alfred, his elder brother Æthelred, his wife Ealhswith, his nephew Æthelwold, and his children Edward and Æthelflæd are all based on real people, as are the Danish leaders Ubba and Guthrum.
    • Uhtred may be fictional but there was an Uhtred who flourished in Derbyshire in the early 10th century and another who did lord over Bebbanburg in the early 11th century. Bernard Cornwell claims descent from them through his father, whose last name is "Oughtred".
    • The British cleric Asser wrote Alfred's biography in real life.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Averted for the most part. The importance of maintaining formation and an unbreakable shield wall is heavily stressed by both sides. Armies on each side of a field also don't simply run wildly forward into each other, as well. The two sides simply slowly march into each other, pushing with their shields and sticking swords and spears through any crack they can find, until a weak spot in a shield wall can be found and driven into.
  • Honor Before Reason: Ubba challenges Uhtred to single combat when he could have just as easily swarmed him with his men, especially because while everyone watches them fight the Saxon army sneaks up on the camp.
  • Horny Vikings: The Danes. But there are no horned helmets and the word "Viking" is rarely used since it means "raider", as in this exchange:
    Lord Uhtred: (sighting ships) Danes... The Devil's turds.
    Osbert: Are they traders?
    Lord Uhtred: No! They come as Vikings!
  • Hot Witch:
    • Queen Iseult is one of Cornish King Peredur’s two wives. She's a 'shadow queen' and a beautiful sorceress who keeps her virginity because she believes it maintains her powers of prophecy. She is also a healer. Iseult captivates Uhtred from the first moment they meet, and teases him with visions of his future. She's mysterious, slightly aloof and breathtakingly beautiful.
    • Skade, a seeress of Danes. She's ruthless and ambitious and was first seen as the consort of Bloodhair. She wants to be the seer and lover of whichever Danish raider that will conquest Britain. She's a gorgeous, pouty blonde who uses her sexuality as a weapon.
  • Human Pincushion: Truth in Television for Edmund of East Anglia.
  • Humble Pie: After Uhtred draws a sword in the presence of the king during mass, his life is forfeit by law. Instead Alfred decides to make him walk on his knees up to his feet while wearing a robe and to throw himself at his and the Church's mercy, all while people laugh and throw mud.
  • Hypocrite: When Alfred is critical of the pagan preoccupation with omens, Uhtred notes their similarity to miracles. When Alfred insists miracles are sent by God, Uhtred declares God must have sent one to the Danes.
  • I Gave My Word: Why Uhtred doesn't leave with Ragnar the Younger. Ragnar understands, but Brida pretty much throws her hands up in disgust.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Skorpa's signature attack is to bite people's throats out.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Skorpa is on the receiving end of this at Uhtred's hands, thanks to a spear from Beocca.
  • Insult of Endearment: Leofric calls Uhtred an "arseling", i.e. something that comes out of an arse, i.e. "turd".
  • Interfaith Smoothie: Despite being Christian, King Peredur maintains a Celtic pagan tradition of relying on a gwrach or sorceress, in his case a second queen.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Uhtred. It's not that he doesn't recognize that other people have aims and desires; he's just much more interested in achieving his own.
    • Æthelwold, the hard-drinking prince of Wessex who is passed over in favour of his uncle Alfred. He wants to be king, but fails even at carrying out his plotting and is shuttled off into a monastery. Later he shows up in jail after bailing on the monastery.
    • Odda the Younger, who plots against Alfred with Æthelwold in return for the latter's favour once he's king. (Æthelwold tells on him when he's found out, but he's ignored.) Later Odda steals the credit for a Viking defeat from Uhtred to get Alfred's favour.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Uhtred and Alfred's first meeting is rather cold, but Alfred has good grounds for this. Despite being able to deduce that there's a good chance that Uhtred is innocent of the crimes attributed to him by the Danes, that doesn't necessarily make him a Saxon or a friend of the Saxons, just a Dane who has no friends among his own people and nowhere else to go.
  • Kill Me Now, or Forever Stay Your Hand: When Ragnar the Younger first encounters Uhtred after his father's death, he demands to know if the stories of Uhtred being responsible are true. Uhtred responds by tossing his blade at Ragnar's feet and saying that if he believes that he was capable of killing their father, he should take his revenge. Ragnar embraces Uhtred like the (adoptive) brother he was.
  • Large and in Charge: Ubba is quite big even for a Dane.
  • Large Ham: During his and Uhtred's public humiliation, Æthelwold turns the crowd in their favour by loudly confessing his love of women and tits, and even gets in a Take That! at Alfred who's struggled with this himself.
  • The Last Title: The Last Kingdom.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Uhtred's duel with Ubba carries shades of this. Since Ubba has no armor (he had been awakened in the middle of the night to fight the fires Uhtred had set right before running into him), Uhtred discards his armor. When Ubba's men bring him his axe and shield, they also provide Uhtred with a shield, as he hadn't brought one. Thus both parties are equally armed and armored before they start trying to kill each other.
  • Like a Son to Me: Earl Ragnar eventually calls Uhtred this despite his initial status as a thrall.
  • Little Stowaway: Twelve-year-old Uhtred follows his father to battle at Eoforwic without his knowledge.
  • The Low Middle Ages: An adaptation of The Saxon Stories
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: The importance of the shield wall is touched upon and while only Mooks actually carry shields around with them, Uhtred will make use of one if he can get it.
  • Made a Slave: Uhtred is captured by the Danish earl Ragnar and kept as a thrall, but this turns out to be preferable to being ransomed by his Evil Uncle.
    • This happens to Uhtred again after he and Halig are sold into slavery by Guthred
  • Malicious Misnaming: Uhtred calls Odda the Younger "Odda the Boy".
  • Mama's Boy: Guthrum wears one of his late mother's rib bones in his hair.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Alfred is a sympathetic example, since he's working to save his kingdom and his tribe.
  • Man on Fire: This is how Ragnar the Elder dies after enemies set fire to his hall.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": When Uhtred draws his sword in anger... in the presence of the king... in a church.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Seers, curses and magic rituals appear regularly, with Uhtred and other pagan characters very much believing they have genuine power and there being some evidence to support their belief. Nothing is shown which defies a more mundane explanation, however.
  • Meaningful Rename:
    • The protagonist Uhtred was born Osbert but his father renamed him after his elder brother Uhtred was killed.
    • Uhtred himself flip-flops between calling himself Uhtred Ragnarsson and Uhtred Uhtredsson depending on his current preference between the English and the Danes.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: Defied. Religion (whether Norse mythology or Christian theology) is portrayed as human-made and incorrect. Brida's dream of the future comes right after consuming potentially hallucinogenic mushrooms. Iseult is believed to be a sorceress, but her vision of victory for the Britons is utterly, tremendously wrong. She later believes that saving Alfred's son requires another child to die somewhere else, and takes responsibility for Uhtred's son's death. However, the infant mortality rate at the time was extremely high, and, as Mildreth says, "children are frail," so it was very likely a coincidence.
  • Mythology Gag: Alfred "burns the cakes", but not in the same King Incognito situation as in legend (which the books more or less followed).
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Ragnar the Fearless and Kjartan the Cruel.
  • Naytheist: Uhtred never disputes the power or existence of the Christian God, he just doesn't particularly care for Him.
  • Never Learned to Read: Uhtred was all set to begin learning when he was Made a Slave.
  • Non-Action Guy: While Alfred is implied to fight in Battle Discretion Shots, his Tranquil Fury and poor health certainly paint him as this.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: Uhtred doesn't particularly care about the fate of Wessex. He cares about wealth, revenge, and reclaiming his birthright.
  • Offing the Offspring: Odda the Elder.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • During the battle of Eoforwic, Uhtred's father is in the thick of fighting when he sees that his king has committed their reserves too early and that there is a second Danish force about to outflank them. He realizes that the Saxon army is doomed and this is fully reflected in his expression.
    • Odda the Elder once he realizes his son has been and is currently committing treason.
  • Older Than They Look: Alexander Dreymon portrays a youthful Uhtred quite convincingly for a man in his 30s.
  • One-Man Army: Episode 8 cements Uhtred as this when he charges a shield wall, makes it behind their lines, slaughters their men and kills their leader for good measure.
  • One Steve Limit:
    • Defied, as there are four Uhtreds, two Ragnars, and two Oddas, all fathers and sons. When necessary, they are distinguished as "the Elder" and "the Younger". In Uhtred's family the eldest son and heir is always called Uhtred, so the protagonist was originally called Osbert but is renamed when his brother dies.
    • Ubba generally has Only One Name in the show to avoid another "Ragnarsson" since his father was the famed Ragnar Lothbrok. The books solve this by taking the artistic license of calling him "Lothbroksson"note , but in the show this only happens once (in Episode 6) and Ragnar Lothbrok himself is never mentioned.
    • The raider Skorpa is named Sveinn in the books. Presumably, this was changed to avoid confusion with Sven Kjartansson.
  • One-Woman Wail: The opening and closing credits and much of the soundtrack uses this, all sung by Faroese singer Eivør Pálsdóttir.
  • Opening Narration: Each episode opens with Uhtred narrating the Previously On segment in this style.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Ragnar the Elder after Thyra is sexually assaulted by Sven.
    • Father Beocca following Uhtred to battle is a combination of this and Undying Loyalty.
  • Pelts of the Barbarian: Nearly ubiquitous among the Danes.
  • Post-Mortem Conversion: Prince Æthelwold tries to claim that his father named him, not Alfred, as heir on his deathbed. Unfortunately, he tries this with nobles who were at the king's deathbed and knew that not only had he done no such thing, Prince Æthelwold wasn't even there.
  • Previously On: Uhtred narrates each one like an Opening Narration.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Danes, just as they were in the novels and in history, and Uhtred impresses them with his fierceness even as a twelve-year-old Saxon boy which leads them to question whether he's actually a Saxon at all.
    Ragnar the Younger: You sure he's a Saxon? He fights like a Dane!
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil:
    • As very young teens, Sven corners Thyra, strips her topless, and would have done more but for Uhtred. Understandably outraged, her father Ragnar threatens to duel Sven's father Kjartan unless he surrenders his son, but only puts out one of Sven's eyes, since he only stripped Thyra half-naked.
    • Uhtred, Leofric, and Iseult are content to hide in a loft while the Danes Rape, Pillage, and Burn outside, but when some Danes choose that particular building for raping a nun, Iseult and the others spring into action. Later the nun, Sister Hild, is eager to kill Danes in battle herself.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: The Danes are present as Vikings, not traders, and it shows. Kjartan's attack on Ragnar's homestead and Guthrum's sack of Witanceaster are prime examples.
  • Rated M for Manly: It's a Bernard Cornwell series about a Barbarian Hero involved in the war between Saxons and Vikings; what else could you expect?
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin:
    • Iseult is a British shadow queen from Cornwall who is married to a minor king Peredur. She's a mysterious. aloof woman who keeps her virginity because she believes it maintains her seer powers. She's also a healer. Iseult is a great beauty with fair skin, dark eyes and black hair. She's very much admired and hero Uhtred falls in love with her.
    • Princess Aethelflaed, a beloved daughter of King Alfred and Queen Aelswith. Aethelflaed is strong, brave, intelligent and beautiful. She has dark hair and fair skin with pink undertones. She's married to Lord Aethelred of Mercia and Mercians respect her more than her husband. Erik, a Dane warrior, falls in love with her when she's kidnapped by Danes.
  • "Reading Is Cool" Aesop: Guthrum is fascinated by Alfred's library of records and correspondence.
    Guthrum: This is... this is words without sound. This is voices without people. I'm going to learn how to use this magic.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer:
    • The Danes believe this. Uhtred is spared specifically because he keeps trying to kill Ragnar.
    Ravn: I see now why my son spared you, Uhtred of Bebbanburg. You are a warrior.
    • The Saxons believe this too, so Æthelwold is bummed over not being allowed to fight. Uhtred obliges him.
  • Reality Ensues: Whenever the Christians pray or the Pagans attempt some form of magic, nothing happens.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Alfred, who is first presented as The Wise Prince (he's the king's brother), in contrast to his nephew Prince Æthelwold.
    • Odda the Elder, in contrast with his son.
  • The Resenter: Odda the Younger and Alfred's queen Ealswith have it out for Uhtred because he is a staunch pagan and was raised by Danes.
    • Odda is also jealous of Uhtred for marrying his childhood friend Mildrith, who was his father's ward.
    • Queen Ealswith is pretty much just bigoted against pagans. Uhtred has hardly even interacted with her, yet she counsels Mildrith to pray for his death. Later she urges Alfred to execute him after the church incident, to which he dryly replies "Peace be with you, my dear".
  • Revenge Before Reason: Uhtred sneaks through the ashes of Ragnar's homestead to kill a henchman, then rides to the very gates of Bebbanburg to present the head to those who sent him, prompting the garrison to ride out in pursuit of him.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: After Odda the Younger allies with Skorpa and openly insults Alfred as a coward (unaware the King is there in disguise listening to every word), he is killed by his disgusted and still loyal father, and denied burial in consecrated ground on Alfred's orders.
    Skorpa: I am expected by the Lord Odda...
    Uhtred: The Lord Odda is in the ground, buried as a traitor.
  • Right Behind Me: Having allied with the Danes after believing Alfred to be dead, Odda the Younger insults and renounces him at length when Uhtred and Leofric bring news of his survival and his summons to battle. Only Odda the Elder sees that Alfred is also there in disguise.
  • Rite of Passage: Osbert is re-baptized as Uhtred in the premiere.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Uhtred goes on one of these after Skorpa presents him with Iseult's severed head, singlehandedly shattering the Danish shieldwall and taking out Skorpa with a spear courtesy of Beocca.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: In the ninth century, royalty was open to any warlord with the military clout to claim the title.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Halig is introduced at the very end of season 2 with clear shades of being a Sacrificial Lamb. It's a ruse, as the real sacrificial lions in Leofric and Iseult. Halig get's to have several episodes to endear him to the audience. He is later dies on Sverri's ship in a heartbreaking sequence. It's especially jarring since it's a original creation of the show.
  • Screaming Warrior: Ubba positively bellows in battle.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Alfred and Uhtred.
  • Sexposition: Parodied when, to Uhtred's bafflement, Brida comes (no pun intended) up with a plan to safely meet with Ubba whilst she and Uhtred are in the midst of intercourse.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Uhtred and Odda the Younger, at least before it gets really personal. They don't like each other though they're on the same side. Odda distrusts him for his Danish background, resents that he married his childhood friend, and tries to shortchange him with her dowry. Uhtred is all too eager to return the feeling so he insults his manhood and taunts him about having sex with her.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Beocca delivers one to Skorpa while he is taunting Uhtred at a parley.
    Skorpa: [at Uhtred] Did your witch tell you that your sister is being humped in the arse each and every night by One-Eyed Sven?!
    Beocca: Did your mother tell you she should have kept her legs closed?!
    Skorpa: [giving Beocca a Death Glare]] I will look for you first across the battlefield!
    Beocca: I will be there and I will not be hard to find!
  • Slasher Smile: Every time Skorpa smiles, it's one of these.
  • Slain in Their Sleep: Ragnar the Younger and his lover are killed in their tent while sleeping by dirty coward Æthelwold who would never stood a chance in a battle or in an honest fight. It's a major source of drama and angst and mourning for his wife and his brother, because he did not die fighting and his stiff body cannot even grasp a weapon and as such, he cannot enter Valhalla.
  • So Proud of You: Father Beocca tells this to Uhtred, speaking for both himself and Lord Uhtred, after Uhtred has become a leader of men.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Since this is live-action not books, it's very easy to misspell "Uhtred" as "Uthred". (It has survived into modern times as the surname "Oughtred".)
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Brida finds this attitude among the West Saxons thoroughly grating after living with the Danes. This is actually Truth in Television, since Scandinavian women had a good deal more rights than their Saxon counterparts (who in turn had a good deal more rights than in the High Middle Ages).
  • Stockholm Syndrome: How else to explain Uhtred's affinity for the Vikings who invaded his homeland and slew his father and brother in battle. Granted, Ragnar saves him from his Evil Uncle Ælfric and eventually considers him Like a Son to Me, but still... From the books 
  • A Storm Is Coming: The Danes are coming.
  • Succession Crisis:
    • Subverted in Wessex, where Alfred and the Witan quickly trundle Prince Æthelwold off to a monastery because Wessex cannot afford incompetence or division.
    • Aethelwold tries to manufacture one in season 3 when Alfred's health is failing, attempting to convince others that Edward should not become king after Alfred's death.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Skorpa shows up soon after Ubba's death to refill the role of a huge, blond, psychotic, Danish warlord.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Uhtred and Alfred will work together to save England, but that sure as Hel doesn't mean they like each other.
  • This Means Warpaint: When Uhtred and his band disguise themselves as Danes to go raiding in Cornwallum.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Brida kills several mooks by throwing an axe into their back.
  • Time Skip: In the first episode as part of Uhtred's Age Cut.
  • Title Drop: Alfred refers to Wessex as 'the last kingdom'.
  • Token Enemy Minority: Uhtred's paganism and Danish upbringing make him this in Alfred's court.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • On a scouting mission, Uhtred's elder brother challenges the Danes to a fight despite explicit orders from his father not to do this. Of course, this gets him killed.
    • While completely at their mercy, King Edmund insists that Ubba and his men must accept Christianity, and points to the story of St. Sebastian to show God's power. They decide to reenact it with him.
    • Abbot Eadred in Series 2: Having already earned Uhtred's enmity by conspiring with Uhtred's Evil Uncle Aelfric to sell him into slavery, when Uhtred comes back and finds Eadred in the middle of trying to wed Gisela (the woman Uhtred's eye has fallen on) to Aelfric by proxy, it would probably be a good idea to keep his mouth shut. Eadred instead insists on repeatedly pressing Uthred's Berserk Button about the matter until Uthred finally has enough and Eadred comes down with a fatal case of knife-through-bowels.
  • Translation Convention:
    • The books make a big deal of Uhtred being fluent in both English and Danish but the show averts this as Old English and Norse were close enough that a Saxon could speak to a Dane without the needs of a translator much like how a modern day Spaniard and Portuguese person would converse with little effort.
    • Period-appropriate place names are used in dialogue, with each period name morphing into the familiar one (ex. Eoforwic is York, Wintanceaster is Winchester) in the setting label. In one instance this becomes kind of a spoiler: Beodericsworth is Bury St. Edmunds, where the future St. Edmund meets his fate.
    • Though the Saxon title ealdorman ("elder-man") is retained, the modern title earl is used in place of the Norse equivalent jarl, unlike the books. The word earl was derived from jarl and eventually replaced ealdorman (which survives today as alderman, a rather different rank).
    • In the books, "arseling" is spelled the Old English way, earsling, but it's pronounced the modern English way in the show (compare the shift from ealdorman, pronounced "elder-man", to "alderman"). The proper Old English pronunciation might be "ear-sling" or "ears-ling", not "arse-ling".
  • Virgin Power: The minor Briton king Peredur has a "shadow queen" named Iseult who serves as a seer. They believe her powers are linked to her virginity. She later begs Uhtred to take her virginity to free her of her powers, claiming to be tired of bearing what she views as a curse.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Uhtred and Leofric.
  • Warrior Heaven: The Danes believe in the Trope Codifier, Valhalla.
  • We Have Reserves: Alfred alludes to this in the negotiations with Guthrum and Ubba, informing them that Wessex has a great numerical advantage.
  • World of Badass: It's a Crapsack World of Vikings and Saxons. Some level of badassery is basically a requisite for survival... unless you're Prince Æthelwold.
  • Worthy Opponent: Uhtred rightly regards Ubba Lothbroksson as the greatest warrior he's ever seen, and affords him the respect due that title.
    Uhtred: He is Ubba! As close to a king as the Danes shall ever have.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Guthrum kills his hostages the moment he learns that Ubba is returning to England, removing the need for the truce the hostages were supposed to ensure.
  • You Killed My Father:
    • Played Straight, then subverted by Uhtred, who initially attacks Ragnar the Elder for killing his father but soon accepts him as his adoptive father and even supports Ragnar the Younger's quest for vengeance against his murderers.
    • If the 13th century sagas of Ragnar Lothbrok And His Sons are to be believed, the great Danish invasion of the 9th century started as a massive Roaring Rampage of Revenge by the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok against King Ælla of Northumbria for the killing of their father.
  • Young Future Famous People: Alfred's children Edward and Æthelflæd, who grow into more straightforward Historical Domain Characters in later novels.
  • Young Gun: Uhtred knows more than his share about combat and, as per the books, is looking to make a name for himself.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • When his relationship with Mildrith cools, Uhtred falls for Iseult during an adventure and takes her home. Predictably, Mildrith doesn't take it well.
    • Alfred is introduced as struggling with this, though any indiscretions take place off-screen. He tries to dismiss one mistress, a serving-girl, but Beocca urges him to let her stay so he can learn to deal with temptation.

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