*Warning! This post contains spoilers!*
It only takes watching a couple of episodes to realize that Vikings is a show very much centered on character passings. With so many characters maintaining religious beliefs that include an afterlife, the people depicted in this world generally have no problem in being eliminated, or doing the eliminating. Needless to say, viewers should not allow themselves to get too attached to any character.
That said, it’s hard to see so many characters go. Sometimes their exits don’t even seem to serve much of purpose and can even disrupt a good plotline on a show that is otherwise so well put together. On the other hand, there are quite a few Vikings characters still kicking around that feel way past their expiration date.
Now, some fans may argue that the show is merely following its interwoven historical and mythological roots. That’s all well and good — to a point. The truth is that this show has been taking a creative license for a long time, and so there’s no reason the writers couldn’t make some adjustments to the characters’ lifelines. In fact, they probably should have been doing it already.
So without further ado, here’s Vikings: 12 Character Exits That Hurt The Show (And 8 That Need To Go).
20 Hurt: Ragnar
His passing did help propel the plotline forward, but man do we miss him! It was one of those passings that we feared was coming due to the events leading up to it, but there was nothing to really make us feel ready for that pivotal, heartbreaking scene.
Sure, Ragnar Lothbrok (brought to life by Australian actor Travis Fimmel) had changed dramatically over the years, but that didn’t change the fact that he was the lead character who still had a lot of potential. His sons and a few other characters have since replaced him as the leading sieging Vikings, but who are we kidding— even when paired up together they’ll never be as cool as Ragnar was. We can still see him laying in that pit of snakes.
19 Hurt: Athelstan
The monk's passing just felt cruel, and maybe that was the point. Even as he grew worldlier and became conflicted with his place between two cultures, Athelstan (George Paul Blagden) maintained his core status as an innocent just caught up in the mayhem. Some of the greatest scenes ever to be in the show were his one-on-one moments with Ragnar and then with Ecbert, and these are now sorely missed. No character has even come close to replacing him, and none probably ever will. Also, his passing made us hate Floki for a while, and we don’t like to hate Floki.
The one good thing that did come from Athelstan’s passing, however, was his burial scene. It was quiet and tear-jerking, with just his old friend Ragnar saying goodbye to Athelstan as he buried his body alone. Ragnar’s words echoed the feelings of viewers everywhere when he said, “There is nothing that can console me now. I am changed.”
18 Hurt: Aethelwulf
Despite a bit of a rocky start, Aethelwulf (Moe Dunford) was a good guy at heart (which is incredible when you consider all the things that he has been through). This point became clearer and clearer as the series went on, and for a brief time, he was actually the most likable member of his family.
One would have hoped that if he was going to get written off, it would have been some kind of epic, honorable passing in battle. But no, it was a bee sting that did him in. A. Bee. Sting. It’s still aggravating to think about it, and quite frankly, the escapades of his surviving family members just haven’t been as interesting to watch in his absence.
17 Hurt: Ecbert
Speaking of Aethelwulf, let’s discuss his father’s passing. One of the strongest characters ever to appear on the show eventually did himself in via suicide. Like that of Ragnar, his passing did (somewhat) help move the plot along, but at the same time, it just didn’t feel right.
Even though Ecbert (Linus Roache) had been around for a while by that point, we still felt like we were learning about the character and about others through his conversations and actions. Besides, no other character in Wessex even comes close to having his level of sophistication, and the scenes there just aren't as fun to watch anymore. In addition to his fantastic social commentary, occasional devious behavior and eye for other highly intelligent humans, we will continue to miss the king’s epic baths.
16 Needs To Go: Magnus
Magnus, stop trying to make “I’m the son of Ragnar Lothbrok” happen. It’s not going to happen! Sure, Bjorn believes him to be their long-lost brother for whatever reason, but wasn’t it made pretty clear a while back that Ragnar did not actually give in to Kwenthrith’s advances? Because Magnus (Dean Ridge) is so two dimensional, he literally has nothing better to do than to keep deluding himself into believing his fantasy Viking heritage and joining forces with the first Norsemen who will look his way.
It’s like watching a train wreck with the slowest, most boring-looking locomotive that doesn’t even have cars attached. Magnus is just filling space at this point, and since we know it’s not going to end well for him, why drag it out?
15 Needs To Go: Hvitserk
He’s the least effective out of all the sons of Ragnar (just in case anyone is wondering, no, Magnus is not included here). For being one of the main characters, Hvitserk (Marco Ilsø) is just pretty “meh”. Still, he would be more redeemable were it not for the fact that he decided to join forces with Ivar after witnessing him eliminate their brother. Maybe we’d want Hvitserk to stick around if his personal decisions weren’t so darn bad (is that why he always looks like he’s sulking?), but the character isn’t likely to make such a dramatic change so late in the game.
The truth is that all of the sons of Ragnar have become kind of annoying and lacking in integrity, but Hvitserk is just kind of… there. He probably wouldn’t be doing anything at all with his life (and he barely is at this point) if it weren’t for their brothers. Aside from Ivar, Sigurd was actually the most dynamic of Aslaug’s sons, but alas he was taken down by Ivar long ago.
14 Hurt: Helga
Really, Vikings writers? Helga? As if there weren't enough random and pointless passings on the show, the wife of Floki became another casualty at the end of season 4. Yes, the only purpose of her passing seemed to be an attempt to add in more drama to an already really dramatic show.
There was no reason Helga (Maude Hirst) couldn’t have lived on and reached some kind of understanding with the little girl who instead eliminated her (hey, Helga thought she was doing the right thing in adopting the orphan). If anything, wouldn’t it have been cool if Helga got to sail away and settle Iceland with Floki? Instead, her passing meant the end of our favorite Viking hippie couple, not to mention the balance they brought to the show together.
13 Hurt: Tanaruz
She may have taken Helga down with her, but that didn't mean that her passing didn't hurt the show too. Vikings has made it very clear from its early episodes that it isn’t afraid to write off children, and if anything, it's become kind of hard to keep child characters on the show for very long (they either grow up too quickly or never make it to adulthood). Still, this isn't the main reason that this particular character exit didn't benefit the series.
With Athelstan gone, we at least hoped that the Moorish Tanaruz (Sinead Gormally) would serve as a sort of replacement for the role of a character caught between two worlds— the one in which they are and are growing to understand and the one where they came from and still have ties to. Wouldn’t it have been so much cooler if Tanaruz either grew up in the Viking world or somehow made her way back to the Mediterranean to her people? Seriously, there was a lot of potential with this character that was just thrown away the moment she eliminated Helga and then took her own life.
12 Hurt: Yidu
For those who have forgotten her already, Yidu (Dianne Doan) was the slave girl that Ragnar met. Her passing was pretty undignified, not to mention unjustified—Ragnar blamed his addiction squarely on her and drowned her in the river as a result.
This cast fan-favorite Ragnar in a pretty unfavorable light, so there really wasn’t any purpose in her passing away. Seriously, he could have quit using without taking the life of his dealer, who we need to remember was also a slave and didn’t have much say in her actions anyway, Yidu was also one of the more intriguing foreign characters they’ve had in Kattegat, but unfortunately it seems like all non-Vikings are more or less expendable in this world.
11 Hurt: Halfdan
Just as we were really starting to like this guy, he was snuffed out by his own brother. His passing really didn’t serve much purpose other than to show us what we already knew—Harald can be a really cold guy, and political motives and personal beliefs mean more than family ties ever will in Vikings. One of the main problems with the end of Halfdan though actually concerns Bjorn.
The eldest son of Ragnar has become increasingly unlikeable over the years, what with his general lack of concern for most things in the world (he was downright cold to Torvi). Needless to say, Halfdan could have been kept around for at least a little longer. The good news is that actor Jasper Pääkkönen went on to have a major role in 2018’s BlacKkKlansman, so hopefully, fans will get to see plenty more of him in the future.
10 Needs To Go: Judith
Judith (Jennie Jacques) started off as a decent enough character— a princess married off without much say who went on to have an affair with a monk and had her ear cut off in retribution right after giving birth to his son. That was all well and good (plot-wise), but then things began to get weird when Judith had that years-long affair with Ecbert while pretty much waving it in her husband’s face. Did she learn nothing from before? Were they actively trying to make viewers dislike both her and Ecbert? Even though she did eventually go back to being a loyal wife to Aethelwulf, the damage to the character was done.
So the question now is, what exactly is Judith still doing around? All she does is facilitate problems between her sons, and judging from her recent torture scene it seems she’s learned nothing from the fact that she herself was tortured years ago. Just get rid of her already.
9 Needs To Go: Aethelred
Now that Ecbert and Aethelwulf are both gone, the royal family over in Wessex just isn't as engaging to watch. We're pretty sure that Alfred's going to be around for the long haul, but there's only enough room for one kind of dull king. As for Aethelred (Darren Cahill), it feels like the writers don't really know what to do with this guy. After all, he's the less-favorite son who hasn't gotten much screen time until more recently, and quite frankly, we as the audience just don't know him well enough to care.
But really, what's to be done with this guy? After his betrayal to his brother was revealed this past season, it seems the end will be headed his way. After all, it doesn’t seem like they’re going to get rid of golden boy Alfred anytime soon, and we all know whose side Judith is on. Nope, Aethelred doesn’t stand much of a chance, so why not just get rid of him now and save us all from drawn-out melodrama?
8 Hurt: Astrid
As far as the brutal Vikings world goes, Astrid (Josefin Asplund) was more innocent than most. She wasn’t after power and glory so much as she just wanted to live her life with Lagertha in Kattegat. Instead, Lagertha cheated on her, she got taken, was forced to marry King Harald and then had to go through a lot of other bad stuff before the end.
But unfortunate as this all was for Astrid, the truth is that her character actually got really interesting when her period of hardship began. It would have been great to keep her storyline going and see just how multidimensional the character could be, but no, she ended up pleading for a quick, simple end and got exactly that. Yawn.
7 Needs To Go: Harald
We'll miss Astrid, but the same can't really be said for her surviving husband. Harald (Peter Franzén) isn’t necessarily a good guy, but he’s not a bad one either. He can be a sympathetic character at times, but his moments of real humanity have not been enough to warrant his winning in the end, which we're pretty sure won't happen. Really, anyone who's teaming up with Ivar at this point probably won't be around for the long haul anyway.
Basically, it would feel wrong if Harald didn’t either go soon or sail far away for good simply because of all the mayhem and drama he has helped facilitate over the years and in the present. Besides, his brother was really the better character anyway, and he probably still would be had Harald not ended his life.
6 Hurt: Gisla
Yes, we know she’s not gone. Still, the character has not been seen for well over a season, and her last appearance didn’t really have her doing all that much. It also doesn’t seem like she’s coming back anytime soon— if ever. This was a great character with a strong personality and interesting past plotlines, and she also served as a strong female character who was not a Viking. Though it has only gradually been noticed, the absence of her character has made the show feel just a little bit emptier.
But since it’s possible, why not bring her back into the mix? After all, her husband, Rollo, has just returned to Kattegat. Getting to see what’s happening with his family while he’s gone would be great, and it’s highly possible Gisla is even ruling in his stead (it was made clear early on that she’s capable of governing). Unfortunately, there’s nothing to suggest this will happen on actress Morgane Polanski’s IMDB page, nor in any other entertainment news.
5 Hurt: Heahmund
Okay, okay. We get it-- every single one of Lagertha’s lovers is going to pass away. This character wasn’t particularly likable, and at times it really felt like Heahmund (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) was randomly thrown into the show as part of some half-baked attempt to stir things up a bit. But regardless of how we felt about him, his passing just didn’t do the show any favors.
It was relatively easy to suspect he would eventually go, seeing as he felt a little too intense and out of place to last that long. Once he got together with Lagertha, we knew for sure what was to come. But who wants to watch a show that’s lacking in surprise? Maybe it’s time to stop with this worn out storyline already.
4 Needs To Go: Ivar
Hey, we all know it’s coming eventually, and it needs to in order for the whole story not to collapse on itself into a pile of despair. Look, we like Ivar (Alex Høgh Andersen) as a character. With all of his bloodlust and cunning, he's a pretty darn great character at that. But the fact of the matter is that Ivar is also one bad dude. We’ve known he was evil ever since he eliminated another little boy with a hatchet as a child (Aslaug reassuring him that it wasn’t his fault certainly didn’t help though. Mother of the year she was not).
The guy's pre-Napoleon complex has only gotten worse and worse over time. In fact, Ivar’s only redeemable moments were back when he was with Ragnar in Wessex, but those days are long gone. Instead, he’s currently wreaking havoc and plunging Kattegat into its own dark age, and that will never end unless Ivar is gone. But hey, if we know Vikings at all, this will probably come next season.
3 Needs To Go: Freydis
Ugh, Freydis. And we thought crazy Margrethe was bad! To actually ensure that the end of Ivar will come (and again, it really needs to), his new wife also needs to go. Freydis (Alicia Agneson) is manipulative, ruthless, and in all honesty kind of creepy.
If the girl had more power she’d probably be just as bad as Ivar. And with the way things are headed, it looks like that may become reality sooner rather than later. After all, she's made it clear that she can stomach all of Ivar's brutality toward others, and she secretly has plenty of her own to go around. On the other hand, if Ivar ever finds out that she’s not actually carrying his child, he’ll probably end her himself. After all, she did say she’d do anything for him— including pass away.
2 Hurt: The Seer
The Seer (John Kavanaugh, though the Irish actor, is completely unrecognizable under all that makeup) was one of the greatest minor characters since the start of the show, and in retrospect, we barely knew anything about him. Were his deformities congenital or caused by something in life? Was he even alive? Was he even human? Why was he in Kattegat? Were there others like him? Why, oh why, did people lick his hand when they went to see him?
Regardless, we’ll never know the answers to these things now, nor will we ever again get to see his mysterious prophecies being played out. Worst of all, there’s now so little magic left in the world of Vikings. There’s no going back now, and it feels like now there’s no place to go but head for the end of the series as we know it. At the very least, it has to mean the end for Ivar.
1 Needs To Go: Lagertha
This may not be the most popular opinion, but it’s past time for Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) to go. Despite her lack of aging (seriously, why can’t they show any of the women on this show aging properly?), this character is feeling more and more like a relic of days that are long gone.
At this point, what’s really left for Lagertha? Sure, she could regain control of Kattegat, but then what? At this point, she’s more than made her mark on the world and earned her place in history. She doesn’t need to go per se (though the end of season 5 did leave us wondering what her fate is), but she could just throw in the towel and admit that, hey, she’s had a good run. A great run! Better than Ragnar even. Lagertha could, in a sense, retire. We know that’s not going to happen, but It doesn’t mean that the character should keep getting thrown through the same old cycle of plotlines over and over again until the show itself ends. We’re tired as an audience, so why isn’t Lagertha?
Which character exits do you think hurt Vikings, and which characters do you want to see go? Let us know in the comments!