Vikings has been a massive hit for the History channel and fans have loved watching the bloody and brutal adventures of Ragnar Lothrbrok, Lagertha, Rollo and Ivar The Boneless over the course of the show's five seasons. Fans will have to steel themselves for a world without the show, though, as the upcoming season six was recently announced as its last.
The show has always had a very high turnover of its cast, as so many of them tend to meet violent fates on the various battlefields. Here are five characters whose departure hurt the series, as well as five we could care less about.
10 HURT - RAGNAR LOTHBROK
Undoubtedly the biggest departure in the history of Vikings, Ragnar Lothbrok's death in season four's 15th episode 'All His Angels' was a genuine shock for fans. Very few shows have the guts to kill off their main character, but creator Michael Hirst has always done the unexpected on Vikings.
Ragnar, our eyes and ears on the violent and tumultuous world of the 'Northmen' for four and a half seasons, received a great on-screen death, with star Travis Fimmel doing some of his best work. But, his absence has been keenly felt since and even though the show is still highly watchable (mainly thanks to Ivar The Boneless), it's just not quite the same without Ragnar.
9 COULDN'T CARE LESS - BISHOP HEAHMUND
Jonathan Rhys Meyers' Bishop Heahmund was a strange character. For one thing, Meyers' uber-modern hairstyle and designer stubble never seemed to fit well in the Vikings time period. His choice to deliver every line in a stilted rasp was off-putting and his romance with Lagertha was entirely unconvincing on every level.
All in all, this 'Man Of God who was defined by war' wound up being a bit of a bore, so very few fans shed a tear when he met his end in the season five episode 'Hell'. Meyers is a good actor, as evidenced in The Tudors, but it never felt like he managed to put his stamp on Heahmund.
8 HURT - ATHELSTAN
The relationship between Ragnar Lothbrok and Athelstan, the English monk who is captured by Ragnar's people and forced to live among them, is one of the show's greatest triumphs. Most of the Vikings hate the British because of their Christian religion and see them as nothing more than victims to be raided. Conversely, most British see the Vikings as uncivilized barbarians and harbor a deep hatred for their Pagan religion.
Somehow, despite coming from such different places, Ragnar and Athelstan are open-minded enough to respect and learn from each other, eventually building a deep friendship. It was a true shame when a jealous and vengeful Floki killed Athelstan.
7 COULDN'T CARE LESS - EARL HARALDSON
When Vikings debuted in 2013, the most well-known face in the cast was Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects, Hereditary). He played Earl Haraldson, king of Kattegat, the settlement where Ragnar lives as a lowly farmer. Byrne was definitely a coup for the show, and he did some decent work as the insecure Earl who was frightened of Ragnar's potential, but it's hard to look at his character as anything more than a plot device.
He was designed to be Ragnar's opposite and someone fans would want to see overthrown; he lacked Ragnar's charisma and desire to achieve greatness and was arguably not meant to be mourned after his death.
6 HURT - KING HORIK
One of the most in-demand television actors around, Donal Logue was a busy man between 2012 and 2014. He played Lee Toric on seven episodes of Sons Of Anarchy, but had to leave early because of his commitment to playing King Horik on Vikings. He also managed to fit in 12 episodes of Copper in 2013 before landing the role of Harvey Bullock on Gotham in 2014!
All of this meant his time on Vikings was short, but he made a big impact as Horik, a Danish King who was keen on accompanying Ragnar's raid on England. Naturally, the two alpha males butted heads and let's just say it didn't end well for Horik!
5 COULDN'T CARE LESS - SIGURD
When Vikings executed a time jump in season four, Ragnar's sons became young men in the blink of an eye. Alex Hogh's Ivar The Boneless would go on to become the new protagonist of the show, while Jordan Patrick Smith's Ubbe and Marco Ilso's Hvitserk were given a spotlight too.
The forgotten man was always David Lindstrom's Sigurd, who just wasn't as interesting or watchable as his brothers. In the end, his rivalry with insane cripple Ivar cost him his life, as when he went too far in teasing him he was met with an axe hurled at his chest! It was a great moment for Ivar and Sigurd was just collateral damage in Ivar's character development.
4 HURT - KING ECBERT
Vikings has given us a number of wonderful characters and one of the very best was Linus Roache's King Ecbert of Wessex. Roache, who you might recognize from Batman Begins and Mandy, played the character with a skillful blend of cultured sophistication and troublingly machiavellian scheming just under the surface.
Ecbert was a bad man, as he acknowledged in one of his heart to heart chats with Ragnar, but his dream to unite the three disparate English kingdoms under one monarch was fairly noble (if a little self-serving). Fans were left bereft when Ecbert met his end in the season four finale, as they had already lost Ragnar a few episodes previous.
3 COULDN'T CARE LESS - AETHELWULF
Unlike King Ecbert, who was always portrayed with a rakish charisma and given meaty parts in the overall Vikings story, his son Aethwelwulf got the short end of the stick. He was presented as a bore, whose wife didn't even love him, and he was often off to the side of the main story events.
Then, when he became King after his father's death, he was little more than a bumbling fool and a terrible commander who tended to lead his men to death. He was then killed, completely out of the blue, by a bee sting. To be honest, it seemed a fittingly small death for a character who was never given much respect by the show's creators.
2 HURT - HALFDAN THE BLACK
Brothers Harald Finehair and Halfdan the Black were introduced in season four. Actors Peter Franzen and Jasper Paakkonen were perfect in the roles, with both bringing a slightly different energy to the show.
Paakkonen's screen presence went a long way to ensuring Halfdan was memorable to fans, despite limited screentime, and it was a joy when he accompanied Bjorn Ironside on his journey to Africa; seeing the two Vikings riding camels in the desert was a welcome change of pace for the show. It was upsetting when Halfdan was killed (by his own brother, no less), as there seemed so much more to explore with his character.
1 COULDN'T CARE LESS - QUEEN ASLAUG
In terms of fan reaction, Alyssa Sutherland's Queen Aslaug was up against it from day one. To most fans, she would always be the 'other woman' when compared with Kathryn Winnick's Lagertha, one of the most popular characters in the show's history.
The fact that Ragnar left Lagertha for Aslaug, mostly because she could give him more sons, meant that she was always little more than a replacement. When Lagertha shot Aslaug in the back with an arrow during season four, very few fans were upset and simply saw it as just desserts for the woman who took away Lagertha's husband, love, belief, and future.