During the height of Game of Thrones’ popularity, many networks tried to replicate the success of Westoros with series focused on the dark side of the Medieval times. One of the most successful shows to come out during this time was The History Channel’s Vikings, which is a retelling of the voyages and battles of the real-life Norse warriors. Following the farmer turned warrior Ragnar (Travis Fimmel), Vikings made this era of legend a televised epic that grew in popularity.
But even this critically-acclaimed show had some missteps, as seen in the IMDb ratings of its episodes. A testament to the show’s high quality is that no episode got a rating lower than 7 but some mistakes can’t be avoided. So before the series concludes with its upcoming sixth season, here’s a quick look at the 10 worst episodes of Vikings, according to IMDb.
10 The Buddha (Season 5, Episode 16) – IMDb Score: 7.8
After the disastrous Battle of Wessex, Vikings takes a breather to show what happens to those who survived. Needless to say, The Buddha is a filler episode that kills the pacing for some fans.
The most common complaint here was the introduction of even more unnecessary subplots and intrigue, since Vikings isn’t adored for its melodrama. Some fans even mockingly compared the episode to the latter chapters of Game of Thrones, where characters talked in circles instead of advancing the plot. At the very least, this episode’s last scene was a much appreciated shocker.
9 The Revelation (Season 5, Episode 11) – IMDb Score: 7.8
If you’re one of the many Vikings fans who hates Ivar the Boneless, then The Revelation is surely going to irritate you. A good chunk of The Revelation is dedicated to Ivar and friends gloating about their recent victories, much to the annoyance of anyone who hasn’t bought into his appeal.
Making matters worse is Bjorn’s subplot, where he discovers the titular revelation: Rollo is his father. For some, this was yet another symptom of Vikings’ newfound fixation for melodramatic twists, which they feel distracts from the show’s original appeal of violent conquest and Norse history.
8 Baldur (Season 5, Episode 18) – IMDb Score: 7.8
As with most of Viking’s fifth season, Baldur suffers from its roundabout melodrama and abundance of subplots. Conflicts like King Olaf’s feud with Hvitserk are quickly concluded, begging the question as to why they were even included.
Interestingly, Ivar’s moral dilemma about abandoning his deformed son Baldur is the highlight of the episode, since Ivar sees this as an act of mercy even if doing so is obviously wrong by today’s standards. Then again, this was also the episode where Ivar goes on a rampage because someone wrecked his vanity statue.
7 Full Moon (Season 5, Episode 7) – IMDb Score: 7.8
Taking place right before the Battle of Kattegat, Full Moon builds up the stakes and sets the stage by having its main characters get their love lives in order through marriages and rejections. Oh, and some people plan for the coming war.
With its lengthened episode run, Vikings’ fifth season tended to lose its focus, straying away from the Vikings’ conquest and lingering a bit too much on the histrionics. This is the case for this episode, where Bjorn returns to reject Torvi so that he could marry King Svase’s daughter Snaefrid for political and military gain.
6 Rites of Passage (Season 1, Episode 1) – IMDb Score: 7.7
Before Vikings became the hit it is today, it started out with a pilot episode that caught some curious viewers’ attentions and reminded others a bit too much of Game of Thrones. The show’s debut did a good job of introducing newcomers to Ragnar and his dreams of sailing West, even though it pales in comparison to the rest of the season.
Rites of Passage laid the groundwork for what was to become The History Channel’s biggest hit, teasing the dark historical epic’s potential and promise that was just about to begin.
5 A Simple Story (Season 5, Episode 9) – IMDb Score: 7.6
With the Battle of Kattegat concluded, Vikings returns to what’s really important in the fifth season: melodrama and political intrigue. The season’s ninth episode is yet another case of padding, where plotlines that could’ve been resolved earlier and quicker are stretched out for drama’s sake.
Fans notably didn’t like Rollo’s choice to support Hvitserk and Ivar over Ragnar, since they felt it was a senseless decision that was only written to conjure more disagreements. Additionally, Floki’s off doing his usual religious stuff – much to the chagrin of many viewers.
4 Moments of Vision (Season 5, Episode 10) – IMDb Score: 7.4
Vikings fans have a strong preference for the battle-oriented episodes, but Moments of Vision is an exception to that rule. The second Battle of Kattegat should’ve been a surefire fan-favorite, but its experimental non-linear direction determined otherwise.
While this concept sounds ambitious and great in theory, Moments of Vision’s execution left a lot to be desired. The battle’s intensity was constantly interrupted by the dialogue-driven scenes, rendering most of this mid-season finale’s major deaths heavy-handed instead of heartbreaking. And Floki is, yet again, still searching for God.
3 A New God (Season 5, Episode 13) – IMDb Score: 7.3
Delusions of grandeur take center stage in A New God, as the major players in the ongoing war ascend their respective ladders of power under the pretense that they were chosen by a higher power.
If that sounds more like Game of Thrones to you than Vikings, then you’ll understand why many fans don’t like this episode very much. Adding salt to the wounds is Ivar declaring himself a god, which viewers found to be a corny and predictable turn for a formerly complex antagonist who slowly devolved into a stereotypical psychopath.
2 The Lost Moment (Season 5, Episode 14) – IMDb Score: 7.2
Right off the heels of the previous episode’s cliffhanger, The Lost Moment opens by revealing that Ivar’s dreaded sacrifice is a nameless shieldmaiden who kind of looks like Lagertha. This cop-out is just the first of this episode’s many issues, hence its low IMDb score.
Aside from Ivar’s insufferable godhood, fans took pointed out the way the episode handled the attempt on King Alfred’s life. After lots of build-up, Aethelerd backs down and spares his target, leaving Vikings fans feeling cheated by yet another cop-out instead of getting amplified stakes and risks.
1 The Most Terrible Thing (Season 5, Episode 17) – IMDb Score: 7.0
The fifth season of Vikings has been criticized for turning into a soap opera about ancient warriors, and The Most Terrible Thing all but proves this point. In this episode, love triangles are settled while some backdoor alliances are sealed. Also there’s a fleet of Danes nearing Wessex.
The worst parts of this episode include dragged out love confessions and most of its screen time is dedicated to Floki’s meandering storyline. Some fans found catharsis in the massacre of Floki’s commune, but that wasn’t enough to salvage an episode that encapsulated Vikings’ most recent and glaring shortcomings.