Ivar the Boneless has to be one of the most intense and villainous characters History Channel's Vikings has ever seen. He's someone who stands out even among all the other bloodthirsty Vikings on the show. But the problems with Ivar's character largely stems from the fact that he's someone we maybe don't love to dislike, per say. In truth, Ivar has evolved into someone we just dislike, period. His actions, childish behavior, and general demeanor combine to produce an antagonist who seems almost like a caricature. He's almost too evil, past the point of believability and any form of empathy. We might have sympathized with him for his disability and less than desirable childhood, but by the end of season 6, Ivar has found a way to make us forget even that.
In essence, it's getting harder and harder to relate to this character. As a result, viewers don't tend to cheer for him at all against his brothers in the war to take Kattegat. His betrayals often seem pointless, and his bouts of rage overblown. There's a lot to unpack with Ivar, but the more we delve into his character's evolution, the more it seems he needs an overhaul.
Here are 25 Things Wrong With Ivar the Boneless We All Choose To Ignore.
25 His Temper Can Flare Quickly
What makes Ivar a seemingly strong character is still one of his most problematic qualities. His relentless outbursts frequently dot the show’s timeline when Ivar becomes an adult. These often end in acts of harm that are poorly thought-out. We’re probably supposed to mistake these temper tantrums for some form of strength, given Ivar’s physical limitations. At the same time, however commanding these performances may be, they’re a childish way to get what you want. We definitely expect more from a Viking ruler, especially a son of Ragnar.
24 He Mistreats His Brothers
Ivar’s true personality is probably best revealed in the memorable scene where he throws an axe at his own brother, Sigurd. He succeeds in eliminating him in front of his other brothers, but that mistake doesn’t stop him from mistreating Ubbe and Hvitserk down the line. Though it’s understandable that he has a rift with Björn, who is Lagertha’s son and therefore only his half-brother, there’s no reason for his harm and anger to extend to his own kin.
23 He's An Absolute Tyrant
Once Ivar takes control of Kattegat, he also takes on a Machiavellian style of rule. Ivar embodies the need to be feared, not loved. But as Ragnar’s son, he would have already had the trust and admiration of the Norse people from far and wide. Despite this, he keeps an iron grip on his position as King, and punishes excessively and unnecessarily. He really has no reason to be a tyrant, but clearly, this makes him feel more secure. In truth, it ironically had a lot to do with his undoing.
22 He Shows No Remorse Or Care
Seriously, this guy has no morals. The only remorse he’s ever shown was for destroying Sigurd, and even that was pretty brief and didn’t seem wholly sincere. Since then, he’s committed far more questionable acts and hasn’t batted an eye. It’s sometimes easy to cheer for the villain when they have some redeeming qualities or a faint hint of empathy, but Ivar so far has shown neither. Unfortunately, his sad childhood due to his disability isn’t enough to get many fans on board.
21 He Abandoned His Son
The writers couldn’t miss the opportunity for a striking parallel between Ivar’s abandonment as a baby and Baldr’s. Ivar does to his son what Ragnar did to him, and leaves him out in the cold due to a birth defect. This time, though, no one saves the baby and Ivar does lose his son forever. Though it fits Ivar’s personality that he would commit such an act, you would think he would have learned to have sympathy due to his own struggles. Since the baby’s defect was in his face, it wouldn’t have affected his abilities to the extent that Ivar’s issue does. In the end, all Ivar cared about was chasing perfection and wanting the appearance of a beautiful family.
20 He Can Be Rather Nearsighted
Ivar has shown he’ll go to any length to maintain power, but he doesn’t seem to be able to think long-term. When he executes a fake Lagertha as a display of strength, he’s trying to make his people believe he always has the upper hand and that there is no threat to his rule. However, it really had the opposite effect when many people noticed the woman was not actually Lagertha. This probably only solidified his people’s dislike of him and their awareness of his tyranny.
19 His Childhood Was Tough
Ivar did have a tough childhood, but there were definitely warning signs of his intense and unsympathetic nature right from the beginning. In one scene, when Ivar is a toddler, he nearly destroys another child with an axe almost unthinkingly. Of course, this is the Vikings we’re talking about, but the act was alarming even to Ivar’s own mother. It seems these troubling qualities have always been lurking beneath the surface and may have less to do with his disability than we think.
18 He's Incredibly Impulsive
It seemed like Ivar’s character was being set up to seem like a cunning mastermind instead of a fierce warrior, but his more impulsive decisions prove he is neither. He is extremely hotheaded and doesn’t take the time to think things through, and some of his actions lack purpose. Everyone around him knows he is a ticking time bomb, but can’t do much about it for fear of angering him and dealing with the consequences.
17 He Defends Ragnar's Wrongs
No one can touch Ragnar as the show’s most beloved character, but that’s not to say he didn’t make some mistakes. All of his sons acknowledge this except Ivar, who made excuses for his father’s wrongdoings. Ragnar did leave his sons for many years, which was ultimately forgiven but still resented by most of his sons. Ivar also actively defends Ragnar’s decision to keep the destruction of his settlement a secret, even though many of his own people lost their lives to this hefty mistake.
16 He's Rather Gullible
For a large part of the fourth season, Ivar believes whatever Freydis says. His inability to produce children meant he was desperate to believe he could have an heir somehow, but it was bordering on ridiculous. His wife was able to convince him that she was carrying his son divinely, when in reality it just wasn’t his at all. This would be the most logical conclusion for anyone to come to, but Ivar’s own ego got in the way of him figuring it out.
15 He Cares So Much About His Self Image
It’s obvious Ivar thinks highly of himself, but it’s also clear that he’s incapable of introspection. He never really reflects on what he’s done or feels any remorse. At least so far, his narcissism only lets him see himself in a superhuman light. Maybe the regret will come in the upcoming season, but Ivar has caused a lot of harm to those close to him without changing his view of himself or his ways. There’s not a lot of depth to a character who’s just purely wicked with no sense of regret.
14 He Has Seemingly Never-Ending Rage
Ivar isn’t just mean, he also yells a lot. A lot. It was to the point where his main defense against the Anglo-Saxons was to sit on the ground and scream. It doesn’t always make sense that he survives these encounters, even though it would definitely be off-putting to the enemy, at least momentarily. Are we really supposed to believe that the entire army is that scared of him, though? His rage is often all he has, but it can also get irritating, especially when it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
13 He Can Be Unnecessarily Mean
Ivar’s actions aren’t always just a display of power. Sometimes he just can’t control himself. When he slays the Seer just because he didn’t like his prediction, he goes to great lengths to hide the fact that it was him. There’s a lot of evidence that Ivar goes above and beyond what’s necessary to maintain his rule, often to his detriment. A lot of his scenes leave us asking: what was the point of that?
12 He Shows A Lack Of Compassion
It would have made sense for Ivar’s disability to have led him to a place of empathy and compassion for others. The opposite happened, apparently! He seemed to have gained nothing from the experience apart from a dislike of the world and a desire to prove himself, no matter what the cost. At first, it was easy to sympathize with Ivar because of his background, but he’s become less of a multifaceted character over time.
11 A Fixation On Revenge
All of Ragnar’s sons except Ivar were able to move past Lagertha’s destruction of their mother, Aslaug. Ubbe was even able to work with her and fight alongside her. Ivar was the only one who seemed not to have the temperament nor the critical reasoning to put it aside for his own good. He screams that he will never be able to forgive Lagertha, and never let go of the idea of destroying her. Overall, his obsession with revenge meant more than strategy or any kind of clear thinking.
10 He Has Some Pretty Extreme Views
It’s refreshing how some characters on the show take a nuanced approach to exploring religion. Taking after Ragnar, Ubbe opens his eyes to other viewpoints before returning to the Norse ways. Hvitserk even explores Buddhism in addition to his beliefs. Ivar has no such journey, though, and his extreme approach perhaps makes him more one-dimensional than the rest of the cast. He uses the gods mostly to justify his own actions and rule.
9 He Harms His Wife
It was strange how Ivar was able to catch Fredyis’ betrayal in this instance but couldn’t figure out that her son wasn’t his. She met her end at the hands of Ivar not for betraying him but for giving away knowledge of secret passageways to help Björn’s army win against Ivar. The scene in which he harms her was heart-wrenching and vivid, but also didn’t make a lot of sense in context. He definitely didn’t know for sure it was Freydis who gave him away, and he seemed to still love her in her final moments.
8 He Uses His Own People
The population of Kattegat doesn’t seem to mean anything to Ivar outside of being pawns in his game of power. There’s no one he really seems to care about or connect with, and the region as a whole suffers directly as a result of his negligence. No one can say a bad word about him or risk being punished or eliminated completely. It makes you wonder what drew him to being a ruler other than his own ego.
7 He's Not As Crafty As He Thinks
Ivar had some shining moments earlier in the series, in which he led the heathen army to victory with clever strategies. However, the last season has really shown that Ivar has lost his touch in terms of quick-witted decisions. He depended only on fear to maintain control of Kattegat. At the same time, threatening his own brothers, especially one who was on his side (Hvitserk), was a foolish move by anyone’s estimation.
6 He Doesn't Follow In Ragnar's Footsteps
Though Ragnar was absent for a lot of Ivar’s childhood, they did have a few touching moments together by the end. Ivar definitely looked up to Ragnar, and Ragnar, in turn, expected a lot from him. But it’s hard to imagine Ragnar looking down from Valhalla and feeling proud. Instead, Björn represents the ruler Ragnar was and wanted his sons to be. Ivar’s rule is a far cry from the fairness and freedom Ragnar showed his people.
5 Destroying Thora
Is Vikings trying to compete with Game of Thrones for most intense and heart-wrenching scenes? Ivar having Thora, Hvitserk’s partner, set on fire along with her entire family had to be one of the craziest moments of the series. She had enough bravery to stand up to him and voice her opinion on his tyranny, but minutes later she paid the price. It’s almost like the producers were going overboard to show Ivar’s evil nature, but we have to wonder if this was totally necessary.
4 His Affliction Gets To Him
Historically speaking, Ivar’s name could have led to the myth of his disability. There’s no proof that “boneless” actually meant that there was something wrong with the bones in his legs. But the show took the idea and ran with it, which did make for interesting television. Ivar stands out from his brothers, especially in Ragnar’s eyes, who thought overcoming his pain would make him great.
3 No One Destroys Him
Some episodes left us wondering how on Earth Ivar is still alive. He can’t really fight in battle to defend himself, and with the way he lashes out, it’s quite the mystery why no one just ended him on impulse. He maintains the support of the Kattegat army until Björn takes over, but no one took it upon themselves to end his rule before this. Even the Anglo-Saxons never just destroyed him at the earliest opportunity or in battle.
2 He's Not Endearing
Underneath it all, there’s not much about Ivar that makes him have fans. A lot of viewers seemed to be on Björn’s side not only for nostalgic reasons but also because Ivar doesn’t have a lot of moments of self-realization or character development. That’s not saying he didn’t have the potential to be, since he did overcome his disability and troubled past to become a famous Viking ruler. The way he went about it was lacking a lot of depth, and he seemed almost too evil.
1 His Overbearing Complex
Let’s not forget the most astounding aspect of Ivar’s ego: the fact that he fully believed he was a God, and wanted everyone else to believe it too. When Ragnar indicated that Ivar’s disability would make him special, he probably didn’t mean this special. No one wanted Ivar to be wallowing in self-pity for the rest of his life, but the pendulum eventually swung too far in the opposite direction. A lot of the justification for his own actions came from this amplified sense of self, which no one really believed except him.