There have been many heated debates as to which series is more compelling: The Last Kingdom or Vikings. The Last Kingdom follows Uhtred, a warrior who adopts the name Uhtred Ragnarson, and has a stepfather called Ragnar. The series is based on The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell, and includes an enticing blend of fictional elements and characters, with historical fact.
The series Vikings, by Ragnar Lothbrok, is inspired by historical events, with the main character, Ragnar, a Viking who sets his sights on England. While both shows are set in the 9th century, some argue that Vikings is superior to The Last Kingdom.
10 A Focus On Faith
Faith takes prominence in the narrative of Vikings, with trust in the Divine and religion holding the heart of the central Viking family. Bishop Robert Barron has called Vikings the most spiritually literate show on television. Religion is key to character formation in the popular show. The beginning of the series depicts a raid on the Lindisfarne monastery. From here, a curiosity about the Divine and a central theme of the role religion plays in the hearts of the Vikings unfolds. Faith is contrasted with the show’s many epic sagas and blood rites.
9 More Accurate Viking History & Culture
It’s argued that Vikings is a better show to watch if you want to learn about the actual history of the Vikings. The Last Kingdom is written around a fictional main character rather than actual historical figures and the story centers on many inaccuracies concerning the way things actually happened.
Vikings has a focus on the religious and mythical facets of the Viking rule and while it does have inaccuracies, it is still claimed to be a better show to watch if you want to learn about actual Viking culture.
8 Historical Realism In The Characters Portrayed
Actual historical figures, rather than fictional characters, are employed in the Vikings storyline. Vikings takes real and semi-fictional people from history (such as Aethelwulf and Harald Bloodhair) and then creates a narrative around them. While much of the narrative is fictional, this usage of actual people who existed in time and space adds to the mystique and allure of the series.
The Last Kingdom, based on Bernard Cornwell's series, does include real historical figures within the setting of real-world events, however, most of the characters' personalities and storylines are completely fictional.
7 Greater Opportunity For Investment In Characters
It has been argued that the sheer size and scope of The Last Kingdom and its narrative makes it difficult for viewers to invest in the series to any meaningful degree. With Vikings, however, the scope is much smaller. This allows for viewers to get personally involved and gives audiences the opportunity to become invested in both the storyline and the character’s lives. Relatable characters and a setting and narrative of a small enough scope give audiences a sense of ownership over the program and its unfolding story.
6 The Spirit Of Vikings Accurately Captured
The conquests of Ragnar Lothbrok and his Norsemen make for some amusing, compelling viewing. Let’s be honest, these boys aren’t always squeaky-clean good, and this keeps viewers enticed as they learn the ways of the Viking through historically accurate depictions of the warriors. The show’s army of warriors gets people binge-watching. While Ragnar Lothbrok and his men are heroes, they aren’t necessarily ‘good people’. For example, in one episode, they showed a boat carrying a selection of severed Englishman heads. No show shows the way of the Vikings better than Vikings, not even The Last Kingdom.
5 Powerful Couples
The show has some strong characters, but combine the compelling characters of Ragnar and Lagertha (his wife) and you get a power couple to be reckoned with. Ragnar seeks to conquer new lands and expand his territory, discovering England and setting to devour this land with his Viking hunger and tenacity.
Then there's Lagertha who is an independent, strong-minded woman and mother, who is willing to fight alongside the men in raids and battles. The couple makes for unique viewing and is a feather in the cap of the Vikings narrative.
4 History With A Touch Of ‘Soapie’
Vikings includes everything that makes binge-watching of the show a pleasure. Passion and power displays and twists and turns in the narrative keep viewers flicking from season to season. Also, Vikings tends to give viewers a good mix of what they want to see regularly: sexy times, fight scenes, and a good mix of Norse folklore and mystique.
While fans have argued that the show drops in quality as the season progresses, there are those who claim The Last Kingdom’s best is as good as Viking’s worst.
3 Factual Surprises
Vikings debunks many misperceptions people hold of the actual Vikings. The history of this unique group of people, as depicted in books and movies, is often written from an English perspective. One-sided views of the bearded tyrants are overthrown by historic fact accurately shown through the show. To give an example, according to creator Michael Hirst, the Vikings were a lot more democratic towards their women than other societies around them. This attitude is clearly reflected in the relationship between Ragnar and his wife. The show is both entertaining and filled with factual surprises such as their views towards women. Lagertha is one of the most entertaining feminist characters on TV.
2 Epic Fight Scenes
While The Last Kingdom is action-packed with many fights, there are those who argue that Vikings hands down beats the show in terms of the caliber of its fight scenes.
Inverse has said of the show that it has the best battle scenes of any network TV show. That’s quite a statement considering the shows currently on air. While some have expressed disappointment that the show’s quality has dwindled as the series has progressed, it is said of Season 5 that it has the most epic fight scenes yet.
1 Something For The Ladies
Of course for the ladies watching the show, there is the eye candy factor with Vikings hosting a cast of exceptionally good looking men who tussle with each other, in what Entertainment Weekly has called, ‘A visual feast of sweaty men with the physiques of CrossFit coaches’. Ragnar Lothbrok is played by Calvin Klein model Travis Fimmel who models underwear for the brand (not quite your conventional hairy, smelly Viking). There are also multiple heart-throbs in the new season, for example, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (The Tudors).