With the last season of Vikings fast approaching, it becomes time to go over a few key topics that have been extremely important throughout the show. The brutality of the battle scenes, along with the intricate storylines, was what managed to create such a passionate fan base in the first place. And the major drivers of Vikings have always relied upon stories of betrayal, rage, and vengeance. The show wouldn't be the same without these tales.
Vikings has created a complicated situation where our morals are often subject to being constantly redefined. By making the Viking warriors the protagonists, we grew to like them, love them, and support them. Even though history tells us they are the bad guys, after watching the show it becomes hard to accept, especially because, at times, the villains aren't always the brute Norse people. So let's take a peek at the 10 biggest villains on Vikings.
10 Emperor Charles
Sometimes what makes a villain isn't explicit brutality or maliciousness. It's not even the bloodlust or mad thirst for power, but rather the existence of pure cowardice in itself. Being a coward is enough to deem you unworthy and bad, especially if you are someone in a position of tremendous power who is meant to rule and inspire others. Just like Charles, the second emperor of Frankia.
The only time Charles shows any sort of a backbone is when he kills his sister, Therese, and Roland because he thinks they want to overthrow him. Plus, his daughter had to be the one to plan the battles and inspire the troops when it was the job of the emperor to do so. He was an antagonist for the Vikings because of what he represented, and he was a villain because of who he was.
9 Count Odo
Count Odo was kinky, we'll give him that. Anyone who's watched the show will clearly remember (and, consequently, have a hard time forgetting) about the scene that will from now on go down in history as Fifty Shades of Odo. Many people argue that, even though the scenes in the torture dungeon with Therese seem to be consensual, it was all a mind game that was meant to completely relieve him from any guilt this could potentially cause him.
Therese was obviously no saint, either—she was in an incestuous relationship with her brother Roland, and together they told Emperor Charles about Odo's wishes to become Emperor himself. This leads to a pretty horrifying death by whipping, which may be perceived as some sort of twisted poetic justice.
Rollo is the strongest fighter on the entire show, and that can hardly be denied. Even as an older man in his forties, he's still a vicious fighter capable of scaring grown men. But that's not what makes Rollo such an important and pivotal part of Vikings. Rather, it is the incredible tension we got to witness between him and his brother, mighty Viking Ragnar. The conflict between these two made for some amazing television and propelled the show into popularity.
Rollo was so jealous of his brother that he ended up betraying him several times. Every time the two met on the battlefield, it made for some spectacular and emotional scenes, and Rollo is such a good villain because he isn't pure evil. He's a complex, human character, driven by the same passions and emotions we all are. He ended up choosing Frankia's side for good, but we still have a strange fixation with him.
7 King Horik
The biggest problem with Horik is one of the most common afflictions in the political world: jealousy. And if you put together jealousy and greed, then you have the perfect recipe for a compelling political drama. Given that you have the wits to go with it, of course. And in the end, the lack of strategic thinking and ability to see he was being tricked eventually caused King Horik's demise.
It was a great thing to see King Horik begin as a good friend of Ragnar's because that adds to the whole villain ordeal, making it a lot more interesting. Once Horik starts perceiving Ragnar as a threat, he tries to play Floki to take Ragnar down. But oh my, how the tables turn! Floki was the one playing him, and what was originally planned as an ambush for Ragnar turns into the spectacular death scene for Horik. Points for trying, though.
Before you bring out the pitchforks, remember that very little about Vikings is black and white. Lagertha is one of, if not the strongest character on the show, especially when you put together physicality and mentality. She's been through so much tragedy and pain, it's not one hundred percent surprising she would eventually break somehow. And if you're seeing things from the perspective of the sons of Ragnar and Auslaug, she's the villain.
She killed Auslaug and took a throne that, after she divorced Ragnar, was not hers to take. Does she belong there, and make a good ruler? Yes, probably. Does that mean she's right? Not quite. Especially not after the way she did it. We didn't love Auslaug, but it was a cowardly way to have her go.
5 Earl Haraldson
We only got to see Earl Haraldson for six episodes during the first season, but he still played a pivotal part on the show. First and foremost, he served as the sort of trigger for Ragnar to finally become the ruler he was born to be, while simultaneously providing us with the perspective of an Earl who is not beloved by is people.
It's clear that what turned Haraldson into such a bitter man was the horrid murder of his two sons, driving him to become harsh and take on morally questionable actions, including the complete destruction of a fishing village in search for Ragnar. He eventually accepted to duel with Ragnar, in the hopes of being worthy of reuniting with his boys in Valhalla. This, of course, killed him.
4 Jarl Borg
Jarl Borg was the kind of compelling villain we all love to hate. Much like Rollo, he was such an interesting character that even though everyone wanted to see him go, it still felt like the show lost something once he did. Borg is the one who took Kattegat when peace was finally installed and the one managed to turn brother against brother.
But it's characters like this that help make pure, entertaining, and irresistible television. Plus, we'll never forget just how horrible his death scene was. Borg gave us our first showing of the brutal Viking tradition, the blood eagle. And it's a phenomenal testament to Borg's strength the fact that he did not once scream during the whole thing! They don't make villains like this anymore.
3 King Aelle
Of course King Aelle is on this list, and of course he would rank high. This man doesn't have any particularly interesting characteristics that make him worthy of being considered a fantastic, compelling villain. He's been around since the first season of the show, and his diet consists mainly of deep hatred for Ragnar and the Vikings. That's his number one characteristic as a person as well, alongside weakness—once he got his turn at the blood eagle, he cried and screamed like a baby.
The main reason he makes it so far up is because he was the one who killed Ragnar, the all-mighty Viking, everyone's favorite character, the one who'd been carrying the show for four seasons. We got some satisfaction by seeing his children taking revenge, but still, King Aelle is hateful.
2 King Ecbert
King Ecbert might not have killed Ragnar, but he did play a significant role in plotting against him. And much like other villains that made their way to the show and to this list, Ecbert is so great because he is complex. He ended up forging an unlikely and unforgettable friendship with Ragnar—the two men didn't trust each other, but the respect and mutual interest were clear in the relationship.
After promising Ragnar he would make peace and give his people land, once the Viking king sails back to Kattegat, Ecbert has his settlement slaughtered. He was plotting and conspiring the whole time, but he was still hurt when Ragnar met his demise. So much so that Ragnar's sons allowed him to choose the way he wanted to die, in a display of mercy that wasn't shown to Aelle.
It's hard to be surprised by the man who tops the list of villains on Vikings. The show was smart enough to create a fantastic build-up for the monster Ivar would eventually become, showing the audience his struggles due to the condition he was born with. Already of a destructive nature, the murder of his mother Auslaug gave Ivar the excuse he needed to fully evolve into the most vicious villain the show has ever seen.
In more ways than one, Ivar saved the show. With Ragnar's death, Vikings would be in desperate need of a character that was both compelling and alluring, and Ivar checks both of those boxes, although in a way Ragnar never did. Brutal, diabolical, and borderline psychopathic, Ivar can't be matched when we're talking about real villains, and he's proved it time and time again. We'll just have to wait and see what the final season has in store for him.